DISCLAIMER: The Hollows and its characters/inhabitants are the property of Kim Harrison. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Ivy's P.O.V.  I don't know how this one turned out!  Ivy's a lot harder to write than Rachel our Bumbling Idiot.  Apparently, Bumbling Idiocy is very easy for me to get my mind around.  Or maybe it's because Rachel's mental process is basically:  Mmm Man  Hump.  Irritation Powers Activate.  Danger Good.  Bite Me.  No Homo.  Bite Me.  No Homo.  Mmm Man Hump.  Mmm Man Hump. Mmm Man Hump. Bite Me.  No Homo.  Irritation powers activate.  No Homo.  I don't know which, but Rachel kind of fits like an old sweat shirt.  Ivy = hard.  So, to end this rambling note, I hope it's okay!  *runs and hides*
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Janine


Skimmer's fingers traced lightly across my cheek, and despite my best intentions I found myself leaning into the touch. Her fingers were warm, and familiar, and gentle, and it was nice to be touched. I'd like to think that I'm stronger than that, that it would take more than fingers on my cheek to tear down my defenses, but I'd like to think a lot of things about myself that I'm not convinced are true, or ever will be.

"What has she done to you?" Skimmer whispered, pain and horror clear in her voice.

"Nothing," I growled pulling away from her and her fingers. I missed them immediately after pulling away and sighed. I'd hoped the moment would last longer than that.

"Nothing," Skimmer whispered. Her tone was mocking and incredulous as she reached out for me again. "Definitely something," she continued, her golden honey voice relaxing me slightly, even though I knew it was a trap. "The witch works quickly," she purred, "She's had her claws in you for less than a year, and already you're positively … domesticated."

Her fingers were tracing my cheek again and I reached up and yanked her hand away, shoving her arm back down by her side, angry and humiliated. I knew she wasn't the only person to think that – though most were smart enough not to say it to my face – and the idea enraged me. Mostly because I suspected that there was quite a bit of truth to it.

"The only person trying to dig their claws into me is you," I hissed at her, squeezing her wrist hard enough to bruise her perfect tanned skin. My comment wasn't exactly true. Piscary already had his claws dug into so tightly that I was constantly amazed I wasn't bleeding from it. But to comment on Piscary's claws in me would have been like commenting on the sky being blue. Not to mention that it would have ruined the effect. The effect was important to me. So much of what I did, so much of who I was, was presentation.

"And since when is that such a bad thing, V?" Skimmer asked softly, the words coming out almost as a sigh as her eyes darkened with arousal. She liked the hold I had on her, and she was softening as desire took her over. A rush of heat spread over me, and I wondered if that's why I'd grabbed her. "We used to have so much fun digging into each other."

"Fun," I muttered darkly releasing her wrist and turning away from her. "Someone died Dorothy!"

"It was an accident," she responded, her voice surprisingly sincere. I turned around to look at her, not trusting her voice. I wasn't sure that I could trust her expression either, but perhaps seeing the two of them would give me some idea how she was truly feeling. "I'm not a monster, Ivy," she continued when I looked at her. "I didn't want anything like that to happen. I tried to help you save him," she sighed, her eyes falling away from mine for a moment. "I was sick over it too."

"You didn't seem overcome with grief," I commented still watching her. She seemed genuine, seemed. It was so hard to tell, she was a professional liar and I wanted her to mean it.

"I couldn't be," Skimmer said, a little steel entering her voice again. "You were falling apart. Someone had to keep it together," she continued, a touch of accusation in her voice that made me lower my eyes. "You channeled your guilt into being as miserable as possible without ending it all by walking into the right end of a stake. I channeled mine into you." She was moving towards me again, and I wanted her to. "Can you really hate me for that, for loving you, and wanting to take care of you?"

Her arms wrapped around my waist and I let them, and when she reached up to direct my head into the nook between her neck and shoulder, I allowed that as well. God, it had been so long since I had been held. My arms wrapped around her as well, pulling her against me, holding her to me with a desperation that would have embarrassed me if it didn't feel so good to smell her, and feel the warmth of her body against mine.

"I never hated you," I murmured, needing her to know that. I had loved her, and a large part of me still did. The end of our relationship had been bad, very bad. But the beginning had been gloriously good. She had awoken something inside of me, and I exalted her. She became the goddess of my idolatry, and there was a time when I thought that we would never be apart. I never hated her. I was scared of her, or perhaps more accurately I was scared of what I turned into around her, but I never hated her.

"You left," she breathed out, a rare note of true vulnerability entering her voice.

"You could only hold me up for so long," I sighed pulling back from her embrace so that I could see her. "If I'd held on any longer we both would have fallen," I continued, remaining close enough that we were still touching. I wasn't ready to stop touching yet. "I had to find a way to deal with it on my own."

"Okay," Skimmer breathed out slowly, the exhalation so deep that it ruffled the wisps of blonde hair hanging at the side of her face. I could tell that she wanted to add more, that she wanted to disagree with me, but she held herself back. She didn't want to fight. "But you don't need to deal with everything on your own, V," she began a few seconds later, her gaze as focused as her words were clear. "You don't have to be alone now."

"I'm not," I said automatically, trying to pull back, but she tightened her hold on me. She never let me run. I hated her and loved her for it.

"You are," she murmured without a hint of doubt in her voice. Her hands went to my face again, and I wilted. "She won't touch you like this," Skimmer said, causing my heart to clench at that thought of Rachel. "She's scared of you. She's scared of herself," Skimmer continued relentlessly, her fingers still tracing my face in a way that I couldn't pull away from.

She was right. Rachel wouldn't touch me like this. Rachel wouldn't touch me at all. Rachel was scared of me. She looked at me like a rabid dog. I tried so hard, but she was still … when I got too close, if moved just a tad faster than she thought I should, she flinched. We'd known each other for four years, and lived together for almost one and she still flinched.

"Who do you go to with your problems?" Skimmer asked softly, her thumb at the corner of my mouth. "Who do you lean on when things get rough? Who holds you when your will isn't enough to give you strength?" she asked, knowing that I could not answer Rachel though I desperately longed to. She had seen enough of us to know how tenuous our relationship was. Rachel and I were continuously balanced on the razor's edge. She was scared of me, and I was terrified of myself and it kept us apart, always apart.

"It can't be like before," I said meeting her eyes challengingly even as I gave in.

She knew before she asked the question that the answer was no one, no one but her. She was the only who had ever held me up, and the only one in my life who cared to now. And I needed someone. I couldn't stand on my own for much longer, and we both knew it. The stress was becoming too much. I'd already had to start practicing again just to maintain my sanity, and while allowing myself blood and sex again had helped take the edge off, it wasn't enough. I wanted tenderness too. I needed it. I needed someone to hug me, and tell me things would be okay, even if it was a lie. Sometimes a person needed the lie. It was the hope that was important, not the end result. I wanted to kiss someone without having them bear their neck to me in anticipation or without having to bear my neck to them. I wanted love, God help me, I wanted love and she was the only one offering anything that came close.

"Whatever you need," she promised, her lips curving up into a dazzling smile as she gazed at me. She could taste victory in the air. "Whatever you want," she continued leaning in close, her breath warming my skin in the most delicious way. "I'll bend for you, V. I can change," she went on softly, her hand grasping at mine. "I just need you to guide me. Help me, and I will follow."

She was putting the power in my hands. God, she was good, a master manipulator. I'd never had the power with her, or with anyone, only the illusion of it. All I ever had was the illusion of it. The last of the living Tamwood vampires, high-blood, royalty, the envy of thousands … garbage! It was garbage, smoke and mirrors, words, useless, all of it. I was owned. My soul, my blood, my status, the covetous gazes of others, none of those things made me free or safe. It was meaningless, glitter coated nonsense that we used to make ourselves feel better about being slaves and puppets. True power was something I had never known, but Skimmer had always been so good at making me feel as if it was mine. She made me feel strong, and oh how I needed that now. I needed the lie, I needed the illusion.

I reached out for her, allowing my hand to cup her jaw. And then my lips were on hers, kissing her with enough force to bruise as one of her arms wrapped around my waist and the other wrapped around my neck. She allowed her fingers to drift up and tangle in my hair, tugging on the strands with enough force to hurt as my tongue dominated her mouth.

I forced her backwards until her back connected with the wall, the force of the impact jolting us both. I growled softly, and nipped at her lip, clamping it between my teeth and pulling on it to the point of pain. Skimmer moaned, and I released her lip, giving her a moment to recover before I crushed my lips against hers once more.

"Good girl," she sighed, her fingers squeezing between the denim of my jeans and my skin so that her sharp, manicured fingernails could scrap roughly at the pale flesh that lay beneath.

I moaned and arched into her, biting down on her lip again. Her nails dug into my skin, and I knew that small, bloody crescent moon shaped wounds painted my skin. I bit harder on her lip, puncturing the soft, plump flesh with my fangs and we both moaned as her blood filled our mouths.

"Very good girl," she panted, her hands moving around to the front of my body to begin undoing my jeans. She worked quickly, and I sighed as long, tapered fingers slipped inside of my pants. I arched into her, and she smiled before leaning forward to nip playfully at my neck. This was just another type of domestication and I knew it, but at least I wasn't alone.

The End

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