DISCLAIMER: The Hollows and its characters/inhabitants are the property of Kim Harrison. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
The Sleeper Awakens
I smiled as I felt a pair of thin arms wrapped around my waist, but continued to chop the tomato in front of me into tiny little pieces for the omelets. We should have eaten hours ago, but Ivy kept on acting like a sexy bastard and distracting me. I wasn't going to be distracted this time however, no matter how wonderful it felt to have the warmth of Ivy's body at my back or how lovely it felt to feel the vampire's lips softly tracing the pale flesh of my shoulders and it did feel wonderful.
"We need to eat," I said as I finished with the tomato. I was trying to chide her, but my voice was shaky and I knew that Ivy wouldn't be swayed by it. Hell, I wasn't even swayed by it! My resolve was weakening and we both knew it. If Ivy kept up the erotic assault she had just launched I wouldn't be able to hold out for much longer. When it came to resisting Ivy's touch I had absolutely no willpower. I would have been upset about this if it wasn't so much fun to give into her, but it was fun, so most of the time I didn't really care.
"Mm," Ivy moaned, pressing her face into my neck. "I like that idea," she continued, her hands slipping around my front and between my legs until she was cupping me through my shorts.
A shiver ran through me and I blushed deeply, as arousal pulsed through me. Weak! Weak! So pathetically weak! "That's not what I meant," I murmured, not sounding like I meant it in the least. It wasn't what I meant, but goddamn if it didn't feel good. Maybe Ivy was onto something here. Her hands plus my body was math that I understood and thoroughly grasped.
Ivy pressed the heel of her hand against me, and I moaned, my eyes squeezing shut as a pleasurable tingle raised through me. It felt so no! No! We were going to eat! We were going to have brunch! We were not beasts!
"Stop!" I declared firmly, turning around in Ivy's arms until we were facing each other. "Go," I said pointing to Ivy's spot at the table. "We will eat a meal of food," I said, my voice strong with resolve. "You can have your way with me once I'm full."
Ivy turned her head to look at her spot, and then turned back to look at me. She pouted, and suddenly I felt like the biggest fool in the world and couldn't comprehend why I would tell her to stop touching me. All I wanted to do was fling myself back into Ivy's arms and kiss her senseless. But but omelets! Yes, omelets! Damn, but the vampire was good. Idly, I wondered if Ivy had a colour coded chart somewhere documenting all of my turn-ons and how to mix and match them for maximum effect.
"Go," I said pointing again. My voice cracked a little as I spoke, but that wasn't important. What was important was that I had said the word, and that Ivy would remove herself to a distance that was conducive to us having brunch.
"I'll go," Ivy muttered unfurling herself from around me. "But I'm not happy about it," she grumbled as she slumped over to the kitchen table and flung herself into her seat before grumpily reaching for her lap top.
"You'll feel differently once you get a little food in you," I said smiling, as Ivy booted up her computer.
"I'd feel better already if I had you inside of me," Ivy muttered as she hunched over her computer and jabbed at the keyboard peevishly with one finger.
I stared at her silently for a moment, with a small smile on my lips. I found Ivy utterly charming when she was at her grumpiest. Sighing softly, I reached up and brushed a few strands of red-hair off of my forehead before I smirked and turned back to the stove. Despite the fact that Ivy's little display was making me want to march over to the table and run my tongue all over her body, I really did need to eat food.
I smiled to myself and then bit my bottom lip as I tipped the bowl of battered eggs into the frying pan.
I'd find a way to make it up to Ivy later. Naked well, maybe in heels.
I started, my hand flying to cover my heart as I blinked sleepily into the darkness of my room. I sighed deeply, and let my hand fall back onto the mattress where my fingers brushed over the empty sheets beside me.
My bed had been empty since Kisten had died, but I didn't want it to be empty anymore. I wanted to reach out and feel Ivy beside me. I wanted to curl onto my side and gaze at her trim, slumbering figure. I wanted to feel the silky strands of her hair sliding between my fingers and smell vampire incense on my pillows.
I shivered, and drew my blanket more securely around my body wishing that I was curling into Ivy's arms instead of a piece of cloth. I closed my eyes and imagined that she was lying there in my bed, her body curled securely around mine from behind, her soft, even breaths warming my skin. I could practically feel the damp warmth on my flesh, and it was so beautiful that tears began to sting my eyes. I hardly even had to work to create the fantasy. I'd been having dreams about lying in Ivy's arms; dreams about kissing her, and playing with her fingers across the dinner table, and resting with my feet in her lap as we watched some stupid show on television. I'd been dreaming about being wrapped up in her so much that it was almost second nature to me now.
I shivered again and thought of Ivy. I lay still for a few more seconds, and then I flung my blanket off of me and climbed out of bed.
I had waited long enough. I was as sure as I was ever going to be. It was time.
I rocked to a stop outside of Ivy's bedroom door. My hand was poised to knock, but instead of making contact with the hard, smooth surface of the door, my hand simply hung there, in limbo, like me.
What I was about to do was big. It was very big. It was potentially a life changing decision and I needed to be certain that I was making the right choice. If I wasn't both Ivy and I would suffer because of my mistake, and she had been through enough. We both had. The only way I could move my hand forward and knock, the only way I could seek out comfort and pleasure in Ivy's arms was if I was willing to give Ivy want she needed.
It wasn't the thought of giving my body to Ivy that worried me, and made me hesitate. At this point I was certain that I wanted her to have me, and that I wanted to have her. I wanted that pretty desperately actually. What made me hesitate was the thought of sharing blood again.
In an ideal world, I would have been able to ask Ivy not to bite like I had with Kisten, and that would be that. But this wasn't an ideal world. Piscary had done too much damage to Ivy as a teenager. He had twisted her too much for that to be a possibility. If Ivy and I were to become lovers, she would not be able to hold back from biting me forever. Her need was too strong. She might have been able to resist the first time, or the second time, or the third time, but eventually those icy fangs would slide inside of me once more. It was inevitable.
I lowered my hand and breathed in deeply as my eyes fluttered shut. It was a simple question really, but I didn't want to ask it. I was afraid of what my answer might be. But, the question came to me anyway and I was forced to face it.
Do you trust Ivy? My treacherous mind questioned. Do you trust Ivy? Do you trust Ivy? Do you trust Ivy? The thought ran through my mind again and again until I found my breathing labored and moisture clinging to the corners of my eyes.
I knew the answer. I trusted Ivy. I did. I trusted Ivy.
I ran a frustrated hand through my hair, and realized that I was asking myself the wrong question. It wasn't if I trusted Ivy. I did. That wasn't a question. We had been through too much together. She had proven to me time and again how much she cared for me. She had sacrificed all that she was for me. I trusted her. The question I needed to ask myself was, 'Do I trust her with everything that I am?'
I rubbed at my eyes with my thumb and pressed it into the bridge of my nose. Did I trust Ivy with everything that I was? Did I believe that she would defy stars for me? That she would rage against God and nature itself to be with me? Was I willing to risk that even if she fought tooth and nail, that even if she fought herself into a first death, that it might not be enough? Would it be worth it to die for her?
I breathed in deeply, at that thought. Was Ivy worth dying for? The question pulsed in my brain. Was Ivy worth dying for?
Yes. My brain supplied the answer in less than a second. Yes. Yes. Yes.
I lifted my hand, and I knocked.
I paused just inside the doorway of Ivy's room. It was dark inside, very dark. Ivy had the thickest curtains known to man, and it could be positively pitch black in the day, which made the room almost impenetrably dark in the early hours of the morning.
When I had opened the door, a slice of silvery light had lit up a path to Ivy's bed, and I had seen her sitting up in it, leaning against the headboard, and even now in the complete darkness of the room her image remained fixed in my minds eye, convincing me that I could see her, even though I knew my eyes weren't that powerful. Ivy's were however. I knew that she could see me perfectly, and that though spurred me into motion.
I didn't want to be standing there like a spaz when Ivy could see me in all of my awkward glory.
I started towards her, making my way by memory towards the bed. I knew I probably looked like an idiot moving so slowly, but banging my shin on something and swearing up a storm would have made me look even more ridiculous, so I continued towards Ivy at a slow and steady pace, and when I reached the side of the bed, I bent down, lifted up the edge of the blanket and slipped in beside her.
"Rachel?" Ivy questioned, her voice was scratchy with sleep. "What are you doing?"
"Tucking myself in," I responded, relieved beyond belief when my voice didn't crack or give any indication of my nervousness.
Ivy was silent for a moment, and I turned my head towards her. I could just make out her long, sleek shape in the darkness, but I couldn't see any details.
"Rachel," Ivy sighed, and I could imagine the exasperated look on her face that she only got when she was talking to me. "You can't stay here. I know that you haven't been sleeping well, but this isn't the solution."
"What if it is?" I asked softly, knowing that this was the time, the moment, the part where I laid everything out for her. "I've been thinking," I pressed on quickly, glaring when I heard Ivy make a rude sound in her throat.
I couldn't blame her really, thinking wasn't really my forte. That was Ivy's bag. But thinking was what I had done, and for the first time in a very long time, I was pretty sure that I had done it right.
"Ivy," when I spoke my voice as careful, hesitant, and maybe a touch pleading. "I want to be here, with you. I know," I closed my eyes and breathed in deeply. "I know that I've been sending you all sorts of mixed up signals, but I've finally got the channel clear." Beside me, she was silent, and all I could see was the steady rise and fall of her chest. "It's like I get so scared sometimes, so scared that I feel like I can't move. That I feel that if any part of me shifted or changed, at all, that I will just collapse into a thousand broken pieces and all of the magic in the world couldn't put me together again. I get this scared a lot actually. My life is scary," I continued, shaking my head a little.
A soft ragged breath was exhaled during my brief pause, and it took me a moment to realize that the sound had come from Ivy, not me. I stared at her, focusing my gaze where I believed her face to be, but I couldn't see her no matter how desperately I tried to.
"Why," Ivy started before she broke off. Her voice was faint when she spoke, raspy, and after she trailed off, she shifted on the bed, moving so that she could wrap her long arms protectively around her knees. "Most people run from danger, they don't try to snuggle with it. If I scare you so much, then why are you here?"
"No," I breathed out, reaching for her before I could better of it. "No," I repeated, clutching at her arm. "Ivy, you don't scare me. Life scares me. Black magic scares me. My demon marks scare me. Hell, I scare me. You don't," I told her truthfully. "When that complete, mind-numbing, pants peeing, all consuming fear comes over me, the thing that gives me the strength to put one foot in front of the other is you; the memory of your face, your voice, your scent; you."
Ivy breathed in deeply again, and I could feel her body trembling slightly. I wondered what the cause was, and for a second I wondered what colour her eyes were. Lying in her bed, holding her the way I was, I mixing our scents together left right and center, and I had come to her in the early hours of the morning when her defenses were down, before she had strapped on her emotional armor in preparation for the day ahead. But it didn't matter what colour her eyes were, it didn't matter if she turned on me and grabbed me, and icy teeth and warm breath were on my neck. She could have it. I'd already decided that she could have it all.
"You're my friend, and I love you," I breathed out. "But what I feel for you is more than the love of a friend," I continued, and Ivy's body went ramrod straight me, every muscle in the arm I was holding tensing at my words. I pressed forward. "I've come to you, Ivy. I'm ready for it all," I whispered, emphasizing the last few words.
Ivy trembled again, and breathed in deeply. I wondered what her face looked like. I was sure that a beautifully tortured expression was etched on her exquisite features. That was the look I seemed to inspire in her most.
"You've been so adamant about not wanting me to touch you," Ivy said finally, her voice cracking as she spoke.
"I know," I sighed, cursing my previous idiocy. "I was confused then. I'm not now," I told her, my voice firm. "Breathe in, Ivy," I whispered, knowing that biology could prove what I was saying more than my words ever could.
I couldn't see her eyes, but I was certain they were black. But, if they weren't before Ivy's nostrils flared and she breathed in deeply, they certain were after she moaned softly, her chest rumbling with pleasure as she scented the air and my emotions, and breathed in my desire and love for her.
"I really am ready," I told her, smiling a little self-consciously, knowing that it had taken me far too long to realize what I was feeling.
"I can't promise not to bite you," Ivy rasped, and I knew that it was killing her to say that out loud. I knew that she was hating herself more and more with every word. She hated the instincts that controlled her, and was cursing herself, thinking that now that I realized I wanted her, this, her blood lust might stop her from being able to have me.
"I know." I rubbed my hand against her arm in what I hoped was a comforting motion, trying to get her to relax. "I know you," I continued, my voice sounding soft and impossibly fond, even to my own ears. "I'm not asking you to promise that."
"You said that you never wanted to never again never " Ivy murmured, still tense under my hand.
"I was wrong to say that," I admitted, sighing softly. "I wasn't thinking clearly. I was just, I was still panicked after the flashback, and once the words were spoken, after I had calmed down, I thought that maybe it was for the best," I whispered, wondering how such thoughts had ever made sense to me. "But I don't want this distance between us. I don't want us to have to lock ourselves up so tight, fighting something that's beautiful," I said rubbing at her arms again, luxuriating at the feel of her soft skin under me.
"Is it really me you want?" Ivy asked shifting on the bed so that she was lying beside me. She was much closer to me know, and I could actual make out her face in the darkness. I had never been happier to anything, ever. "Or is it just release, and someone to hold you?" she continued, dampening the momentary ecstasy I had felt at finally being able to see her face.
Her words were soft and her voice scratchy. I felt my heartbeat increase with anger at the insinuation that I would use her that way, but I fought back the feeling. She deserved an answer to that question. I hadn't mean to use her in the past, but when I had kept proposing a blood balance without a physical relationship to ground it, I had been trying to use her to satisfy my desire without satisfying hers entirely. As much as I hated, there was precedent for her concerns.
"It's you," I said. "It's always been you," I continued, blinking back as tears formed in my eyes. Even when I was with Kisten I had longed for her. Even when his hands had been on my body I had yearned for her lips and teeth. "I love you," I said reaching out to place my hand on Ivy's hip. "I trust you," I continued, my voice firming up as I got to perhaps the most important thing I was going to say all night. "I don't dream about being held, I dream about being held by you. I don't fantasize about being kissed. I fantasize about being kissed by you. I want you. And I trust you. I know you won't bind me on purpose and that if it accidentally happens that you won't make me do anything I don't want to."
"When I die," Ivy began.
"Nothing will change," I interjected before she could say anything more. "I'm going to find a way to save your soul, Ivy. It's a fact. It just hasn't come to pass yet. I will save your soul, so bound or unbound there's no reason for me to worry. Besides," I began, my face warming a little.
"'Besides' what?" Ivy asked. Her voice was quiet, but it was soft instead of strained, and while she was still tense, I knew that she was beginning to relax.
"It'll be nice not to have every random vamps breath make me feel like I'm going to collapse in an orgasmic fit," I admitted. "I," I stopped again and blushed. "I also, I mean, it'll be nice when, you know only you can affect me like that. Only you," I repeated softly, a pleasant little tingle running through me at the thought.
Almost as soon as I finished speaking, a growl emerged from Ivy, which she quickly bit off. I heard it though, and I smiled. She liked the thought of that, of my scars being hers. Vamps were territorial, instinctually protective no matter how well they dressed and how much money they had. I knew that there was a part of Ivy that already considered me to be hers, and that her scent already marked me as her property to other vampires, but I knew that having me essentially tell her that I wanted to belong to her alone was doing things to her vampire instincts.
"Rachel," Ivy breathed out.
"I'm sure," I told her.
Ivy's eyes closed and tears slipped from them. "I've been waiting, so long," she whispered looking over at me, an unfathomable longing in her eyes. "Too long," she continued a second later, blinking rapidly against the tears forming in her eyes. "I'm scared to touch you." Her lips twisted up in a pained smile. "I'm scared of what will happen if I let myself feel."
Her admission made something inside of me clench, and I immediately shifted closer to her and reached out for her, drawing her against me as her body began to tremble. For a second, rage like I had never felt before bubbled in my chest and for a second a wished that Piscary was still undead so that I could kill the bastard, painfully for what he had done to Ivy. He had gotten off to easy, far too easy. A split second and his pain was over, while Ivy had been living with hers for years, and I knew would continue to live with it for years to come.
"We'll be fine," I whispered to Ivy, forcing myself to calm down. Piscary was dead. There was nothing I could do to make him pay, not anymore. All I could do was be there for Ivy, and try to help her fix some the damage that he had done. "You'd never let anyone hurt me, not even yourself."
Ivy shook her head.
"I've hurt you," she whispered softly. "I almost killed you."
I kept my hold on her and kissed her cheek. It was the first time I had ever kissed her cheek, and I was momentarily distracted by the heavenly feel of her skin. So soft, she was so soft. I wasn't used to it, but I liked it. I just wanted to melt into her and feel that softness all around me.
"That was my fault," I said, forcing myself to continue talking even though all I wanted was to start running my lips over more of her. "I shouldn't have asked you to compartmentalize your feelings. I was scared of what I was feeling and it made me stupid and cruel," I admitted, fighting back tears. "I won't ever do that to you again. I won't try and make you into something your not. I love you, just the way you are. I want you just the way you are. I trust you just the way you are."
Ivy shuddered in my arms, and then I felt hers wrap and tighten around me as she pressed us even closer together. We were more than hugging then, we were clinging to each other, desperately, needfully, and as the contact lengthened and I realized that I was trembling as well. I felt raw in that moment; vulnerable, more vulnerable than I could remember feeling since I was a little child in a big cold hospital room. But I could feel Ivy all around me, I could feel the warmth of her body seeping into me, and the flutter of her eyelashes against me, and I felt safe, secure. This was good vulnerable, this was the type of vulnerable that made you stronger, that fixed things inside of you that were cracked and damaged. This was the type of vulnerable you could only be around someone that you loved with all your heart, who loved you the same way.
I don't know how long we stayed like that, but it was quite some time. When Ivy's arms finally began to loosen around me and she pulled back from me slightly, I was tingly, and my body felt weak. I felt absolutely exhausted though I hadn't moved, and I could feel a silly smile stretching my lips that I had absolutely no control over. I felt good. I felt really good. I felt better than I could remember feeling in a very long time, possibly ever. Hugs, I thought rather goofily. Hugs are nice.
"You look happy," Ivy said softly, a wondering sort of awe in her voice.
"I am," I told her smiling, and my heart thundering in my chest when her lips curved up into the sweetest smile I had ever seen upon hearing my words. "Ivy " I began a second later, but I didn't say anything more. I realized there was nothing more to say. Words weren't what we needed at that moment. Words had done as much as they could for us at this point. What we needed was action, and I was happy. Action was what I best at anyway.
I leaned forward and pressed my lips against Ivy's, sighing softly at the contact as Ivy's hands gently clutched at me, holding me steady against her. She had what I was now convinced where the softest, sweetest lips in the world and I pressed myself flush against her as I sought to deepen the kiss.
I needed more of her. I needed to taste more of her right that second. My life depended on it, I was sure. Ivy's lips parted a moment later, and I wasted no time deepening our kiss. I wasn't sure which one of us moaned at the first touch of our tongues, and I didn't think it mattered. All that mattered was Ivy's lips on mine, and her body against me, and the knowledge that this was love.
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