Once Bitten

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Fog had fallen over the graveyard, settling in to the edges of the headstones like a blanket. The streets were quiet and empty except for one young man. He walked slowly down the street, hands in his pockets, hoodie up. When he entered through the wrought iron gate he could barely make out the path before him. He paused by the cracked statue of an angel, her head bent in prayer. Her stone eyes unseeing. Elliot allowed himself time to adjust to the darkness and continued walking down the stone pathway, weaving through the headstones until he reached the crypt.

It was a dark structure, built in stone with two small gargoyles flanking the doorway. Elliot had been there only once before. The first time he'd met Ronan. He paused at the doorway and glanced upward at the gargoyles. They peered down, mouths open, teeth sharp.

He pressed against the door and it swung open revealing the small stone casket that sat in the centre. He'd expected Ronan to be waiting for him, lounging carelessly on the casket, but the crypt was empty. Elliot turned around. He focused his eyes on the dark spread of land before him, trying to see if his companion was in fact there. He saw nothing. He smacked his palm against the crypt wall, flinching at the dust he disrupted.

He hadn't meant to come, not really. He'd heard Ronan's speech, listened to his idealistic ramblings and thought nothing of them until he'd gotten home. Fighting with his mother had become a normal occurrence since his father's death but that night it had been too much.

His mother had pleaded with him to speak to someone but he hadn't been able to do it. Elliot would be the first to admit he'd lost the plot but for whatever reason, he couldn't get himself back on track. His mother had cried, his sisters had yelled at him and his shield had cracked.

Alone in his room, fighting off the deep pain that had settled in his gut, he'd snapped. Elliot had tried for months to rein in his wayward emotions but they'd finally boiled over the surface. He'd ripped his room to shreds, pulling down his posters, smashing the lamp that sat on his bedside table, throwing the photo of his father's smiling face at the wall.

Elliot closed his palm into a fist and slammed it again into the crypt wall. This time he did not flinch, even when the skin split and blood ran down his hand. He let out a shuddering breath, his heart hammering in his chest.

"Jeez kid, you gotta learn to be a bit more Zen," Ronan's Irish accent pierced through the dark night. Elliot looked up as Ronan walked over the hill. It was like he'd materialised out of thin air but Elliot quickly realised he'd been close by the whole time, watching and waiting. Elliot's anger bubbled, the control he had on his frustration rapidly dissolving. "I wasn't expecting you to show to be honest... thought you'd wuss out," Ronan said as he leant against the edge of the crypt, crossing his arms over his chest. Elliot fought the urge to hit him. His hand was aching, blood dripping off his cracked knuckles and onto the stone floor.

"Is your offer still on the table?" Elliot's voice came out shaky and he could tell that Ronan had picked up on it.

"I don't know kid, don't really think you're right for the job." Elliot scowled, aiming his glare at Ronan's smirking face.

"That's some real bullshit and you know it. I'm here aren't I? I want to come with you, I'm done with this town." Elliot moved out of the crypt, planting himself in front of Ronan. Sweat had stuck his black hair to his forehead and he pushed it out of his face, waiting for Ronan to speak.

"Are you though? Are you ready to leave? To leave your mum, your sisters?" Ronan stopped, his eyes tracked Elliot up and down before landing on his face again, "You don't fool me kid... you're just as scared as the day I met you." Without thinking Elliot slammed his hands against Ronan's chest, fury bubbling inside him. Ronan's face swelled into a wide smile as his back slammed into the crypt's wall.

"I'm not scared," Elliot bit out. He was lying but sometimes he could lie so well he even fooled himself. He couldn't fool Ronan. The older man's eyes were sparkling with laughter. He saw through the bravado.

"You probably should be." Ronan stepped toward Elliot and grabbed his wrists, tugging him closer. Elliot breathed out shakily, his eyes never leaving Ronan. They both paused for a moment, Ronan's eyes staring deeply into Elliot's. It made Elliot uncomfortable. He opened his mouth but was cut off as Ronan swooped in. Elliot felt two hands reach up, one circling the back of his neck and drawing him in closer. His breath was knocked out of him as a sharp pain ran up his neck.

Elliot tried to struggle but Ronan held on to him tightly. The feeling of teeth at his neck made Elliot rigid. His thoughts flashed back to his mother, her crying face. He pictured his sisters and for a moment he wondered what they'd do without him.

His thoughts ebbed into quietness as his body slowly succumbed to the bite. Distantly he could feel the drip of blood as it fell from his hand and Ronan's breath hot on his neck. There was another noise, deeper, a thrumming, pulsing sound.

Elliot stumbled as Ronan released him, and fell unceremoniously to the ground. He lay back on the crypt floor, eyes starring up blearily. Two gargoyles stared down at him, mouths opened wide, their teeth sharp. 

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