"You came back...again, I see." The soft, lilting voice of the man floats across the air.

"I had to." The girl's voice is growing dimmer every time he hears it. Deader, paler, thinner. "I need it."

"You continue to risk everything for it." He smiles, a small, wry turn of his pale lips. "It would be so easy for me to kill you...so easy. Then I'd at least get a full meal." He laughs. It is a laugh entirely dead from hundreds of years without use; it is little more than a chuckle.

"Why don't you, then? Kill me, I mean." Her body is so frail, so sick. Her hair is tangled and has fallen limply next to her gaunt face. This is killing her. Slowly, but surely.

"Because you are a constant and willing source, and I can't afford to lose you. Not now, anyway." He crosses the cold room to her, and runs a slender hand down her cheek. She hates coming to this place, but it's where he insists on staying, this old decaying house in the barrens. There's not even any light except for his candles. She assumes he lights them for her; he can see without them. He also makes the bed for her, because she knows that's not where he really sleeps. And he keeps food around in case she gets hungry afterward. He says she needs her nourishment just like he needs his. That they aren't so different, really. She doesn't care. All she wants is for him to do it again.

"You save me so much trouble, dear," he continues. "But you really should wait longer before coming back. I have plenty of other ways of getting what I need, and you need to regain your strength. Look at you." His eyes devour her where she stands, and she trembles slightly. "There's a word for your kind, you know, in the modern nights' slang. Blood doll. A mortal who willingly gives blood to a vampire, often because of an addiction to the sensation of it."

She closes her eyes.

"I know how it feels for you. Believe me, I get as much out of it as you, dear." He winks. "That sweet rush..."

"Just do it, please."

"Well. Aren't we in a hurry. You see, dear, you really don't know what you're asking me. I've been very gentle with you as of late because of your...deteriorating condition, but I can't afford to do that tonight. I haven't eaten in a long time, and I'm very hungry. Frankly, if I drank from you now it would kill you."

Her eyes open again. Thoughts race through her head, fast as lightning bolts. Needs it. Needs it.

"Unless..." he adds in a deep undertone.

"Unless what?"

"Unless we take the plunge, so to speak. The ultimate sensation...every last drop..."

She draws a breath. "And then?"

"And then I slit my wrist, or bite my tongue, whatever, and I let my blood flow into your empty shell." His eyes are suddenly very cold. "And then you'll be mine, forever."

She tries to speak, but no words come.

"I'm offering it to you. The choice is yours---leave now, while you have the chance, or step into the bedroom and allow me to make you immortal. It's not a choice you will likely be offered ever again."

Her throat has dried up. She knows what horrors await her if she stays, and yet she cannot leave. The last bit of life in her has already died as she steps into the adjacent bedroom, silently, submissively.

The sheets are cold and damp as she falls into them, the pillows old and dirty, but in her mind they are silk and velvet and smooth and warm. His hands on her are cold and dead, but she can only cry out as his fangs pierce her neck, her eyes rolling up in the rush of blood from her body to his lips. She feels that glorious sinking sensation and the room begins to fade out. She lies unconscious as the last drop is sucked from her body. And there she stays, growing colder by the second as he rises and leaves.

He thinks of it as mercy.