DISCLAIMER: The Hollows and its characters/inhabitants are the property of Kim Harrison. No infringement intended.
SPOILERS: Set an unspecified amount of time after Black Magic Sanction and my previous story, My Immortal. While it is not necessary to read that to enjoy this, I cover a couple of relationship issues relating to the book.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I would like to thank my Beta, Dru for turning this mess into something readable. :)
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Through Her Eyes
By Kirk Baldridge
Ivy Tamwood sat on a corner of the kitchen counter with a clipboard in one hand and a pencil in the other. The living vampire had her silky black hair tied into a painfully tight looking ponytail and was wearing black jeans with a dark blue tube top that barely contained her ample breasts. Her vaguely almond eyes were scanning the paper on the clipboard.
"Three white candles?"
"Two black candles."
"Two personal objects for the focus?"
Rachel Morgan, sitting cross-legged in a large circle of salt on the floor, rolled her eyes. "Love, I've got it." Clad in dark green shorts and a loose-fitting gray t-shirt, the red haired witch was in the process of arranging the aforementioned candles. "Not that I don't appreciate the organizational help, but I think the color coded charts were a bit much."
Ivy pouted. "Spoilsport." She tossed the clipboard aside. "So what does this spell do again?"
"I want to recreate the merging of our auras, only in a safe and controlled environment that doesn't involved having your fangs at my throat." Rachel glanced up and smirked knowingly. "Not that I mind a little necking." Now it was Ivy's turn to roll her eyes. "If this works it could be the first step in figuring out how to retain your soul after you first death."
"And is it going to be dangerous?"
"I hope not. I get enough of that kind of magic on Saturdays." Rachel sighed. She didn't like the reminder that she had to spend twenty-four hours in the ever after with Al tomorrow. On the plus side, at least she got to spend the entire Friday with Ivy, which always made her feel better. "You don't have to worry. So long as everything is set correctly and we aren't interrupted, the worst thing that can happen is it simply doesn't work." She held her hands up. "Okay?"
Ivy took her lover's hands, pausing for a moment to take that concept in, which brought a smile to her face and a flush to her cheeks, then sat down in the circle, across from Rachel. "Okay. Is that why you sent Jenks to Keasley's?"
"And his kids, and Bis, and Rex." Rachel replied. "We're manipulating our auras here. I don't want to take chances."
Ivy wasn't worried, she trusted her witch implicitly, but there was still something she didn't understand. "How are you going to be able to see them? Our auras, I mean. I know pixies can do it naturally. Is that part of the spell?"
Rachel nodded. "I can use my second sight. The spell will allow you to use it too, as long as we're connected. And of course, if we break the connection, the spell will end, so make sure to hold on to me, okay?"
"Not a problem." Ivy bit her lower lip. "Umm, one thing before we start?" Rachel arched a curious eyebrow, smiling as her vampire leaned in for a kiss. "God. I can't believe I actually get to do that now."
"And I can't believe it took me so long to let you. Thanks you for doing this with me."
Ivy took a deep breath. "I'm ready. Let's do it, before I change my mind."
"Okay. Close your eyes. I'll light the candles." Rachel closed her eyes, tapped the nearby ley line to begin spindling its energy, and used a tiny fraction of it to set the wicks alight. "Now, remember. I'm saying the words, all you have to do is stay calm and remember not to resist the pull on your aura when it starts." Ivy nodded, stopping when it occurred to her neither of them could see it. "Here we go." She focused on an image of Ivy and herself in her minds eyes and then began to softly chant. "Addo quis est in, sicco. Duos in unus. Permissum nos animaducto." Bring what is in, out. Two into one. Let us see.
For a moment it appeared nothing was happening, then the two focus objects; one of Ivy's makeup brushes and her own comb, laying close to one another on the floor under their clasped hands, began to glow. The flames on each of the candles rose a foot, and both women shuddered and gasped softly as their auras revealed themselves. Gold, speckled with black, became visible around Ivy, while Rachel's black- splotched gold aura was painfully familiar to the witch. It had once been so much cleaner. Their two auras flowed toward one another, causing a shower of sparks where they touched, and then they began to swirl and churn until they were together. It made the duo feel an incredible sense of duality and intimacy that would have been almost impossible to describe.
Opening her eyes, Ivy's voice came in ragged gasps. "God is this what it's always like?"
"I don't know " Rachel whispered. "I've never done this before."
"No, I mean the magic is this what it's like for you? Ley lines your aura "
Rachel smiled. "Oh love you have no idea." She finally caught her breath. "This is only part of it." She looked around. "It's incredible. It's as if we have one aura. As if we're one." She nodded. "This is the key. It has to be. I'm not sure how, yet, but if you can share your aura, your soul, with me like this, like you did after Mia " Neither of them liked thinking about the banshee. " then maybe there is a way for me to share mine with you on your first death. Boost it, keep you grounded, I don't know."
"It's a start," said Ivy. "I guess." It was clear she only partially understood what Rachel was talking about, but she knew her witch was excited so that was enough. "I love you. I'd be happy just remembering why after I die." Incense filled the air and she took a deep breath. Her voice became low, like gray silk. "God, it's so how long can we stay like this?"
Rachel recognized the tone of her lover's voice, and her pulse quickened. Responding to Ivy's pheromones, her vamp scars tingled. The two of them had not shared blood since their relationship deepened, but both knew it was only a matter of time. She was no longer scared of it and she wanted to be able to freely share every part of herself with Ivy. "You're insatiable, you know that?" Out of the corner of her eye, the witch sensed movement and turned her head, to see a furry orange face peeking through the plastic flap on the bottom of the kitchen door. It was Rex, coming through the kitty door Jenks insisted they install months ago, and her face fell. She had not thought to close it as she had every other door and window in the church. "Uh oh."
"What?" Ivy turned her head and saw the cat coming inside. "How'd she get away from Keasley's?" The stronger emotion from both women caused the candle flames to surge, which startled the cat. With a frightened screech, she went tearing through the kitchen on her way toward the living room, her path taking her right between Rachel and Ivy, and her feet knocked Ivy's brush into Rachel's comb. Their combined aura turned white for a brief moment and both women felt a searing pull from within, then they were violently flung apart from one another, the witch's slamming into the refrigerator while the vampire slid into the opposite cabinets.
By then, both were blissfully unconscious.
Jenks, with help from several of his kids, managed to shove the plastic flap of the kitty door open enough for him to squeeze inside. It embarrassed the hell out of him, but since the rest of the church was sealed right now, it was the only way for him to enter. The pixie glanced over his shoulder. "Wait there a second. Let me take a look around."
His wings fluttered to lift him over the kitchen counter. "You guys decent?" He knew Rachel was doing a spell and Ivy was helping, though not the specifics, but since they couldn't seem to keep their hands off each other half the time, he assumed the mystical would turn into the physical sooner or later. "Sorry to interrupt, but Jeh said Rex got out and I just wanted to " He froze when he saw Rachel and Ivy sprawled out on the kitchen floor, hopefully just unconscious, on opposite sides of a charred, still smoldering ring of tile. "Tinks' panties!" He flitted back to the kitty door. "Ji! Jax! Get Keasley! Tell him we need help! Now!"
A chorus of "Yes Dad!" faded behind him and Jenks flew to first Rachel, then Ivy, and checked their pulses. The pixie breathed a sigh of relief as he realized they were uneven but strong. Whatever had happened, thankfully they were still alive. "Tinks' contractual hell!" Once the initial fear had lessened, he wondered if they were okay. Nothing looked broken, but he couldn't exactly lift their arms or legs to check, and he silently hoped Keasley would hurry. A few minutes later, he heard a knock on the door. "Keasley?"
"I'm here Jenks. What can I do?"
"Tinks' titties!" Jenks landed on the knob. "The door is locked! I can't let you in!" He heard metal scraping metal, there was a click, and then he had to take to the air as the knob turned and the door swung open. "How'd you do that?"
Keasley held out his hand, showing the pixie a key. "They gave me a spare. Just in case." He chuckled at what he imagined must have been an embarrassed expression on the pixie's face, and the older, dark-skinned human limped into the room. His knees protested as he knelt down but he ignored it. "Damn. I can still smell ozone in the air." Since Jenks was more or less calm, for the moment at least, he went straight to checking their limbs, skulls, and necks for any obvious signs of injury. "What the hell happened here?"
"Not sure. Rachel mentioned something about doing a spell to check their auras." Jenks' wings glowed blue. For once, he didn't try to hide how scared he felt. Her magic had gone wrong before, sometimes catastrophically so, but Rachel usually stayed conscious, and it was damn near impossible to knock Ivy out. "Are they okay, Keasley? Tell me they're okay."
"I don't think they're too badly hurt, physically at least," Keasley replied. "But since I don't know what kind of spell they were doing I can't say for certain if they are okay or not. We'll have to wait for them to wake up to know for sure."
Almost as if in response to their voices, Ivy stirred. The living vampire's black nails scraped against the tile, and she turned her head to the side with a low, pained moan. "Damned to the Turn that hurt!"
"You okay?" Jenks asked worriedly.
"Was I run over by a truck?"
Keasley chuckled. "Not that I'm aware of."
"Then I'll have to get back to you." Silky black hair spilled over her shoulders as she sat up. "Oh. My head."
Rachel groaned. "Could you guys please keep it down? I'm trying to die twice over here."
"Welcome back, Miss Morgan." Keasley hissed as his knees throbbed when he pushed himself to a fully standing position. "You two had both of a us a little worried for a moment there. How do you feel?"
"Confused." The redhead sat up, though clearly not without some effort. "Why did you call me that?"
Keasley frowned. "What? Miss Morgan?" He had been friends with them these last few years, but was raised to treat women with a certain formality that was hard to overcome. "Forgive me. You prefer Rachel?"
"Not really," Rachel protested. "Since it isn't my name."
Jenk's wings slowed and he landed on Keasley's shoulder. "You hit your head, Rache?"
"Oh crap." Ivy held up her hand. "Umm, guys?" They turned, to see her cheeks reddening. "I'm over here."
Jenks dove off Keasley's shoulder and spun wildly in mid-air, his red wings scattering dust everywhere. "Crap on toast! Are you saying you guys switched bodies?" He began to laugh. "That's priceless!"
"It's not funny." Ivy tried to stand up, but there was no strength in Rachel's legs. "Damn it." To her dismay, she had to use the edge of the counter for leverage just to lurch to her feet, and even then, she felt like she was going to fall over. "God, I feel so weak, and slow." She glanced awkwardly at her own body, biting her lip. "Sorry."
Rachel shook Ivy's head. "Don't be, love. You're right. Compared to you " It barely crossed her mind to stand up and her legs uncoiled like springs, bringing her to her feet without even a hint of vertigo. " whoa. You really are strong." She tried taking a simple step, only to find herself halfway across the room, stopped barely an inch from the refrigerator. "And fast too." She already knew this about Ivy, of course, but actually experiencing it first hand was completely different. "Damn."
Jenks had been laughing so hard he fell to the floor, clutching his stomach. Now he wiped the tears from his eyes and fluttered his wings to rise into the air once again. "Jeez, Rache. If you wanted in Ivy's pants so bad you could've just asked." He laughed at the blush on both of their faces. "So, assuming this wasn't on purpose, what're you gonna do?"
"We can just undo it." Ivy turned Rachel's body toward her own. "Right? I mean, reverse the spell or something?"
Rachel shook Ivy's head. "I don't think it's that simple."
"Why not?" Rachel's face looked crestfallen.
Ivy's hand pointed. "Well, for starters, the focus objects have been destroyed " Their brush and comb were a melted mass of plastic. "..and vampires may be able to do a lot of things, but tapping ley lines isn't one of them. I can't cast the spell like this." She sighed. "Besides, our auras are so screwed up right now, I don't think it would work anyway." Rachel's lip quivered, as Ivy fought the urge to cry. "Oh love, it's okay." She came forward and started to put her arm around her own shoulders, but as she got closer to the redhead, she took in the mixing scents of redwood and sorrow. Her eyes started to blacken. "Uh oh."
Jenks smelled the vampire's pheromones rising and fluttered forward. "No, no, you have to calm down, Rache."
"I-I can't." Ivy's fangs glistened. "It's so intoxicating." She lurched back with a gasp, shaking her head. Ivy had told her once what emotions smelled and felt like, and she always thought she understood, but she was so very, very wrong. "I need oh jeez, Ivy." Black eyes drifted to her own neck. Something suddenly occurred to her. "When is the last time you fed?"
"It's been " Rachel's eyes widened. " oh no. A couple of days, at least." She had fed just prior to Rachel declaring she was in love with her, and not thought about much else since. Just that morning she had been planning to bring the subject up, since this was about the time she started to get jittery. "I'm sorry, dear heart. If I had known "
Ivy's laugh was strained. "It's all right love." Rachel put a hand to Ivy's forehead. "I just need a moment to think."
"No, what you need is blood." Keasley cleared his throat. "And seeing as there are two possible donors here, don't be offended if I remove myself from the equation." He limped toward the door. "I'll phone Ceri when I get home, but seeing as she is an entire ocean and continent away I don't know how much help she can be." The elf had taken her new child and husband Quen to Europe, courtesy of Trent, and the couple were not expected to be back in the states for a couple of weeks.
Jenks hovered. "Are you sure this is a good idea?"
"Maybe not, but it's necessary," Ivy replied. "I know my body. I can barely control it once the hunger begins to build. Rachel doesn't have the years of training I do. It may drive her crazy, or she could end up hurting herself." She cupped her own cheek. "Problem is, this is your body, dear heart. I may be borrowing it at the moment, but I can't make this decision for you. Especially since you told me the last time you would never let vamp fangs touch your neck again."
Rachel shook her borrowed head. "You're not just a vamp. You're my girlfriend." They both smiled. "I love you. I trust you. And I was going to bring it up anyway. I want to share everything with you." She stroked the vamp scars, which looked so inviting, and her pheromones increased as she saw her own body tremble in anticipation and pleasure. "Only I don't know how."
"It's really simple," Ivy replied. "You just have to find the last bite, touch it with your fangs. My mind may not be in that body right now but my instincts certainly are. They'll take care of the rest, trust me."
Jenks' wings turned blue and he cleared his throat. "I think that's my cue to leave. I better go bring the kids and Bis up to speed." He shook his head and he flew out the back door Keasley had left half open. "Tinks' dildo!"
Resting her hands on her own hips, Ivy leaned back against the counter and bared her borrowed neck. "Shall we?"
"I'm a little scared," Rachel whispered.
Ivy nodded. "So was I, the first time." She smiled. "It's okay." She closed her eyes as she felt her own warm, incense laced breath on her borrowed vamp scars and shuddered. "Oh God."
"Here I go." Rachel touched her borrowed fangs to her own throat, tips just barely scraping the skin, and something inside her clicked. For one brief moment, she was reminded of biting Kisten with the pretend fangs he had bought her, but this was so much primal. Her fangs slid easily into the witches' flesh and both women let out a hungry gasp as the blood flowed. It filled her mouth, tangy and hot, and like liquid fire it set the very core of her being ablaze. She clutched her own shoulders and bit deeper.
Ivy's borrowed eyes rolled back in her head. "Yes dear heart oh God don't stop." She knew now why Rachel had been so worried about losing herself to this sensation. It never felt like this when vampires were feeding on one another. No wonder humans were so willing to sell their souls for one more bite. The fact that witches were even more alive, more aware of their bodies, made it ten times more pleasurable. "Slow down, Rachel. If you take too much at one time, I'll pass out."
The vampire's fangs withdrew, and after catching her breath, Rachel licked her borrowed lips. "Incredible." She shook her head. "There was this ache, in the pit of my stomach. I didn't even realize until now it was there, but now it's gone. My skin is tingling. I can hear your heart beating too." She grabbed one of her spell pots and looked at her borrowed face in the reflection. To her relief, her eyes showed only the faintest hint of black. "I'm so sorry I ever denied you this. If I had known "
Ivy shook her borrowed head. "It's all right. How could you? Even had I tried to describe it, the reality far outweighs the words." She touched the fresh wounds on her neck, then brought her red-stained fingers up to her own lips. "Here." She smiled as Rachel gently sucked them clean. "Damn, witch. You really turn me on. If I wasn't so weak from blood loss "
"Say, we have some brimstone cookies around here, don't we?" Rachel silky gray voice held a different kind of hunger this time, and hinted she wasn't exactly kidding. "Because the way I feel right now, I can go all night."
Ceri told them on the phone that even with a thousand plus years of elf and demonic magical knowledge, she had never heard of anything like this happening, but she would look into it and get back to them when she could. In the background, they heard Quen's voice saying it was feeding time, and before hanging up Ceri told them something rather cryptic.
"Enjoy it. This is a wondrous opportunity."
Ivy hung up the phone. "What do you suppose that meant?"
"It's Ceri. As much as I like the girl, sometimes I think she's having conversations the rest of us can't hear." Rachel shook Ivy's no, she inwardly reminded herself, my head, at least for the time being. "I think the bigger question is, what are we going to do? I don't have the original spell, I got it from a book in the ever after, but even if I did it wouldn't do us any good."
"What do you mean?"
Rachel sighed. "The spell was only meant to merge our auras and show them to us. Not this." She dropped her ivory skinned hand. "Even if I could just reverse it, no simple task, it wouldn't undo this. Magic is a lot about intent. I didn't intend this. I'm so sorry, Ivy. Pathetic witch that I am, I was trying to help you but somehow, I ended up hurting you. Again."
"Oh dear heart, no." Ivy took Rachel's hands. "We'll figure this out, whether it takes a few hours or a few days. Sooner or later, we'll be back in our own bodies and our lives will go back to the controlled chaos they usually are." She pulled the vampire close. "In the meantime, don't ever let me hear you call insult yourself like that. You are not a pathetic witch. You are wonderful and powerful and beautiful and I love you so much I sometimes think I don't deserve you."
Now Rachel felt even worse. Here she was feeling sorry for herself, when Ivy had grown up hearing from everyone in her life how she was nothing more than a monster. Piscary. Skimmer. If anyone needed the reassurance of how wonderful she was, it was Ivy. "Come here." She leaned in to kiss her lover, taking in the delicious scent of witch. It struck her as odd how turned on she was by the smell of her own body, but she shook her head and leaned back, snarling softly to maintain control. "I love you."
"I love you." Ivy shook her head. "A witch who has an inferiority complex about her superiority complex, and a vampire with self worth and abandonment issues. We're quite the pair, aren't we?"
Rachel blinked. "Wait, you think I have a superiority complex?"
"Yeah, but you also feel remorseful about it, so it's okay." Ivy took Rachel's hand and directed them toward the bedroom door. "Come on. I don't know about you but I'm starving."
"It's the brimstone," Rachel replied. "Once your metabolism has stabilized, you'll be fine."
On their way to the kitchen, Ivy licked her lips as she pondered how to ask something she was wondering. "Umm, out of curiosity, all those times I baked you brimstone cookies, did it make you this " She shivered.
"What, horny?" Rachel's nose twitched. She knew precisely what Ivy was feeling, and it made her skin tingle. "Oh yeah. It didn't help matters that I was always so turned on by you anyway."
Jenks was waiting for them in the kitchen. "Well, well, well, look who finally got out of bed." He laughed, seeing familiar expressions but on different faces. "I've been wondering. If Tinks' little red panties, who are we kidding, when you have sex again, assuming you haven't already " To his annoyance, he really couldn't tell. Normally he could pick up the smell of sex from a mile away, but their scents were so intermixed right now, he couldn't discern one from another. " since each of you is technically doing it to yourself, does that count as masturbation?" Ivy looked embarrassed and Rachel angry, which meant the opposite was actually true, and he snorted. "You know, Ivy, the whole snarling intimidation thing doesn't actually work without the fangs."
Ivy crossed her arms and huffed.
"Want me to bite him, love?" Rachel moved toward Jenks, who fluttered back. "Come on, little guy. I won't hurt you."
"Damn right. Vamp or not, you can't catch me, Rache."
"You sure about that?" Rachel tried to grab the pixie and failed. She tried again and again with the same result. Even though her hand moved like a blur, he was far from her grip before her fingers even finished closing. "Damn."
Jenks landed on her shoulder, proudly resting his hands on his hips in his favored Peter Pan pose. "You know it."
"Did you actually need something, insect?" Ivy asked. "Or are you just here to annoy us?"
Jenks shrugged. "I'm just here to annoy you, actually."
"In that case, you can stay down here and watch the phone," said Rachel. "In case someone calls us about a run, while we head up to the belfry and start perusing the demon books."
Ivy was stunned. "Don't you think we have more important things to worry about, like getting out bodies back?"
"I thought you like my body?"
"Damn it, I'm not playing around anymore. I don't give a damn what Ceri says. I don't see this is a great opportunity. I may not always like being a vampire but that's my burden to bear. Not yours."
"No, love, no. Listen to me." Rachel cupped the redhead's cheek. "Your burden to bear? Consider this my gift to you. I'm more than happy to take the weight for a while, so you can see what it's like to live without the bloodlust and the constant war with your instincts. You deserve a little happiness, even if it means wearing someone else's skin."
Ivy sighed. "You say the sweetest things."
They spent the afternoon in the belfry, sorting through the booksmany of which Ivy couldn't read--and looking for any spells that had to do with manipulating auras, emotions, or the soul. Since these were demon texts that was quite a few of them. Unfortunately, neither could find anything that actually related to what had happened to the two of them.
"Damn it." Ivy threw the book she was holding across the room. In her own body it probably would have gone right through the wall, or torn itself apart, but it only bounced off harmlessly. "This is hopeless!"
Rachel touched her arm. "Calm down, love." There was a ring of black around her eyes. "Please."
"Oh." Ivy froze, and took a deep breath. "Sorry."
"I can smell your anger, your fear. I'm beginning to understand why you always walk away when we start arguing."
Ivy nodded. "It's all in Rynn's book." Rynn Cormel; the former living vampire President and still charismatic undead who had kept the world from falling apart after the Turn. "Now that's one I wouldn't mind studying."
"I know, but as useful as Rynn's book is, it's just text." Rachel blinked. "Okay, and some diagrams." She felt heat and the first seeds of lust coming from Ivy, but did her best to ignore them. "This is for real. There have been times in the last couple of years where you and I weren't able to spend more than a few minutes together without you going all black eyed. I always thought it was your instincts getting the better of you but it's not, is it?" She sighed. "It's me. I'm emotionally volatile. You're fine around Jenks, Glenn, hell, you get into arguments with Edden and Trent without losing it, yet you and I could hardly have a simple conversation."
Ivy shook her head. "It wasn't you. Not really. It was us, or rather, the lack of us. The biggest problem I ever had controlling my instincts was seeing you and knowing I couldn't hold you or kiss you like I wanted. I've been in love with you since we were working together at the IS but since you were too dense to figure out you felt the same way until now I had to keep myself at arms-length. Lust threatened to override my better judgment, and I was always afraid I would tear your throat out I wanted you so much."
"Maybe so, but it didn't help that my pulse quickened whenever you came near me. I would get turned on or scared, or scared that I was turned on, which fed right into your instincts and made the whole situation worse." Rachel took a deep breath. "The pheromones are getting kind of thick in here. Let's go downstairs and I'll make lunch."
Ivy nodded. "Right behind you." Which, coincidentally, was where her eyes focused as Rachel stood up.
"Hey!" Rachel moved her hands to block the view. "You're not helping!"
Jenks was halfway up the stairs and they almost ran into him. "I was just coming to get you guys. Glenn's here." He couldn't help noticing the way Rachel's eyes dilated slightly, and reminded himself it was Ivy inside. The two of them weren't dating anymore but she most likely still had feelings for the FIB. agent. "He's waiting in the living room."
"Must be serious." Rachel knew Glenn didn't usually come by without calling unless it was important.
"He has one of those manila folders with him," Jenks replied. "I think he wants to hire us."
"To do what?" Ivy was more than a little curious. If it was official FIB. business, Edden, the head of the bureau, should have called. The fact that Glenn was here personally meant it was either time sensitive, or something else all together.
Jenks shrugged. "Tinks' panties! How should I know? No one tells the pixie anything."
"That's because we don't want the rest of the world to know," Glenn said as the three of them entered the room. "Not that I am implying anything about the loose lips of pixies." Jenks flashed red. "Afternoon, Rachel." He smiled. "Ivy."
Both women flushed slightly, though for very different reasons. Rachel found it odd that his attention was focused on her, but then she remembered it actually wasn't. She glanced at Ivy, who nodded. "Umm, Glenn? Not that I don't appreciate the casual flirting, God knows you're so good at it and all, but there's something I think you should know. I'm not Ivy."
"You're not?" Glenn blinked, his face unreadable. "You certainly look like Ivy, and don't forget you're not the only person in the world who is intimately familiar with what Ivy, and I mean all of Ivy, looks like."
Ivy stomped her foot. "Stop that! She's Rachel! I'm Ivy! We had a little accident earlier."
"Wait a second." Rachel's eyes narrowed. "I can hear your heart, your breathing, you weren't surprised. Not for a second." She looked from Glenn to Jenks and back again. "You already told him, didn't you?"
Ivy crossed her arms, trying to make Rachel's face look as intimidating as possible. Serious or not, there were times like this she missed having the black eyes and fangs. "You were faking?"
"Hey." Glenn chuckled. "She stole my woman. A guy can't just let that go."
"You're a mean little human, you know that?" Rachel asked. "So, did you want something, or "
Glenn arched an eyebrow. "Who're you calling little?" He shook his head. "Actually, yeah, I need your guys help. There is an off-duty case I was working on, involving a witch. I'm too busy to give it the attention it deserves. If you guys can finish what I started, I'll pay you from my informant fund." He could tell they were hesitant, and held out the folder anyway. "Just take a look. If you can't do it, I'll understand, seeing as you do have other pressing issues, but you're only ones outside the bureau I trust."
Ivy took the folder. "Sure."
"Thanks. I appreciate it." Glenn checked his watch. "I gotta get back to work. Call me if you decide to take the case. If I don't hear back from you by this evening, I'll assume you've declined. See you guys later."
"Devon Smith is a nineteen-year old Inderlander. He calls himself a witch," Rachel read from the file Glenn had given them. "Only the way this reads, he's barely a warlock. He uses what little he does know to break into supposedly secure locations to steal whatever he can get his sticky little hands on. He's been a suspect numerous times but never arrested, his targets are always human so the IS pays little attention, and he's traditionally nonviolent so it's not a high priority for the FIB either."
Ivy nodded. "How did Glenn get involved?"
"One of the people who was robbed is friends with Glenn's tomato supplier, and asked him to look into it. Glenn has gathered all the information he can on Smith; known hangouts and associates, stuff like that, but he apparently moves around so much that by the time he gets a line on where he is the guy has already moved on somewhere else."
Jenks, fluttering overhead, snorted. "Sounds like a waste of time if you ask me. What exactly does the big, bad FIB. agent with vast government resources at his disposal think the three of us can do that he can't?"
"Glenn's doing this unofficially, remember?" Rachel asked. "Besides, he's human. Smith may be a showoff but he's not stupid. He knows how far to push, when to pull back, and all the best places to hide." She smiled. "Unfortunately for him, so do I."
Ivy cleared her throat. "Yeah, but you don't have your magic right now, remember?"
"I don't need it," Rachel replied. "Smith is small time. I mean, come on. The three of us, together?" She put one hand on Ivy's and held the other open for Jenks to land on. "There's nothing we can't handle."
"So where do start looking for this little fairy fart stain?" Jenks asked.
Rachel shrugged. "Where else? Tabitha's."
Following the Turn, and thanks to Rynn Cormel, new laws were enacted to protect humans and Inderlanders alike. One of the first and most readily accepted involved the MPL, or Mixed Public License. Traditionally, it only related to vampires, a way of clearly warning anyone who might enter a restaurant, club, or bar that there going to be vampires present while telling the vampires anyone there was potentially willing, and the higher the MPL rating the safer the place was considered to be. It had also been adopted by any establishment that served alcohol to humans and other Inderlanders besides vampires, to avoid the potential legal and physical complications of someone having too much to drink and deciding one of the humans would make a tasty snack, or a pet.
Tabitha's didn't have an MPL, and its owners insisted it never would. Opened ten years after the Turn, Tabitha's catered exclusively to witches and warlocks. Humans, and even other Inderlanders, were rarely welcome, though there was no legal way for them to be excluded, and a rule of the house was they had to be accompanied by a witch or warlock.
"So, Rache." Jenks was struck by the overwhelming scent of redwood as they got closer to the club. He had never smelled so many witches in one place before. "What's this place like?"
Rachel had spent an hour in Ivy's closet before choosing her tightest black jeans, a low cut gray top, and knee high boots. It was a comfortable enough outfit to run in, and looked hot, she was not used to have so much cleavage so liked being able to show off. "Quieter than you might think. The dance floor is charmed, so only the people on it can hear the music. That way, the other customers can have private conversations or cast spells without having to shout or leave the room."
"Sounds quaint." Ivy wore her favorite of Rachel's short black skirts; a loose fitting blue top, and what they both agreed were truly ass kicking boots. She wasn't thinking too much about how she looked right now, however. Her skin had been tingling ever since they got out of the car, and now she had a new problem. "Umm, is my head supposed to be ringing?"
Rachel turned, a sheepish expression out of place on Ivy's usually placid face. "I should have warned you about that. Sorry. It's the energy you're spindling, resonating with the ley lines. Tabitha's is built on a congruence of three."
"Tinks' panties!" Jenks' wings flashed green. "Three ley lines? Why?"
"For the right practitioners, it makes spell casting easier." Rachel thought that was obvious. Less well known, was the other reason. "Plus, for some witches, it's a pretty easy way to get high."
Ivy arched an eyebrow. "Speaking from experience?"
"Once," Rachel said quietly. "In college."
Jenks stopped in mid-air, his wings flashing a white of warning. "Am I imagining things, or is that our guy?"
Sure enough, Devon Smith was coming out the front door with his arm around a pretty little blond. He whispered something in her ear and her cheeks turn bright red, then she nodded. He angled them toward a motorcycle.
"What do we do?" Ivy hesitated. Normally, she would have darted across the lot and grabbed him before he took another step. Right now though, she felt like she was walking through molasses. "Rache?"
"I'd like to avoid making a scene if we can. Let's wait until he's alone and " Brown eyes narrowed, as vampiric vision noted a familiar flash of blue around Smith's neck. "Uh oh." She'd never personally used one but she knew what it was. "He's wearing a surveillance ward." If any magical or electronic scrutiny got within a prescribed distance, or if someone was just watching him too intently, Smith's charm would alert him. Sure enough, he raised his head and his eyes locked with hers. "Shit!" Smith whispered something else to the blond, kissed her on the cheek, then turned and ran. "Jenks! Pix the bike, in case he circles back for it!" She took off after him, Ivy right behind her. "And keep an eye on the girl!" She glanced over her shoulder. "Can you keep up?"
"This is your run," said Ivy. "Don't wait for me." She knew Rachel had just been waiting for an opportunity to really test the limits of her borrowed body, and wasn't about to try and hold her back. "Have fun." In the blink of an eye, Rachel was gone. It shocked her. She had never seen it through anything but vampiric eyes, of course, which could easily follow the movement. "No wonder Rachel is always chiding me for sneaking up on her. I simply still refuse to wear a bell though." Around the corner and out of sight of Tabitha's she realized she wasn't going to be able to catch up with them so she stopped, leaning against the wall to catch her breath.
A figure in a long black coat stepped out of an alley behind her. "You FIB twerps are really losing your touch." Devon Smith sneered as the redhead spun around, clearly caught off guard. "I lost your vamp with a little silence charm. With all the ley lines around here, teleporting is a cinch too, though it hurts like a bitch." He brought his hands together and a formed a crackling ball of blue energy. "For the record, this isn't personal. I really don't like hurting my own kind." Shrugging, he threw the projectile.
Ivy tried to dive out of the way. It missed her and hit the ground instead, but the resulting backlash knocked her head over heels into the side of a nearby car. She was still conscious and nothing was broken, though she was going to have some bruises in the morning. Through tears of pain she saw Smith moving toward her, another energy ball in hand. 'No!' It suddenly occurred to her she was about to die, only she wouldn't get back up afterwards. 'Rachel!' The worst part was, she never even got to say goodbye. The ringing in her head became a dull roar and then the only thing she heard after that was screaming as the ley line energy within her, amplified by contact she was barely even aware of with the three nearby ley lines, erupted out of her in every direction at once.
Ivy was flung suddenly back to consciousness with a shudder and a ragged gasp, a part of her surprised she was waking at all. She had honestly thought she was going to die in the middle of the street, either by Smith's hand, or else the molten power that had filled every fiber of her being for one terrible instant. She sat up, slowly, sheets cool against her mostly bare skin, and though the room was dark she knew she wasn't alone because of the familiar scent of vampire incense wafting though the air.
Rachel strode out of the shadows. "There'll be time for that later, love. Rest. You took quite a hit out there."
"I feel fine." That wasn't entirely true, and they both knew it. "What happened?"
Rachel sighed. She knew from experience Ivy wouldn't let the matter drop until she got what she wanted. "You tapped the ley lines under Tabitha's. I can hold a lot but I also know how to channel it. You don't." She shook her head. "That much energy should have killed you. God knows I'm glad it didn't, but somehow you managed to find a relief valve and released it."
"I remember now. Smith was " Ivy's eyes widened. "Did I hurt anyone?"
"Devon Smith is in FIB custody with what amounts to a third degree sunburn. Apparently, he managed to drop a circle at the last second that absorbed most of the damage. You broke every window within a two block radius and Rachel Morgan has been banned from Tabitha's for well, all of eternity, I think was the phrase they used." Rachel shrugged. "So, no, no one was hurt."
Ivy clasped her lover's hand. "I'm sorry."
"That's no big deal. I've only been there twice in the last few years. I'm the one who should be sorry. I don't think about ley line energy much anymore. It's just become a part of what I do. It didn't even occur to me you might have to " Rachel shook her head. "Damn it! You could have died, Ivy, and it's my fault. I was spindling that ley line energy when I had no reason to, and I was so busy playing vampire I completely forgot to think about you dealing with being a witch."
"It's okay. I'm okay." Ivy took her lover's hands. "Are we okay?" Rachel nodded, and she grinned. "Then show me." Redwood and incense intermixed as they kissed, and the two of them fell back on the bed together.
A clock on the wall indicated it was five minutes to midnight.
Rachel licked the redhead's vamp scars and Ivy arched her back, moaning. She trailed kisses down Ivy's neck until she came to the strap of her bra, which she gently grasped in her teeth and slipped off her shoulder, before rising to repeat the action on the other side. "You smell delicious." Ivy held her arms up and Rachel pulled the bra the rest of the way off, dropping it off the side of the bed before leaning back down to nuzzle the sensitive skin between her breasts. "I really wanted to make this slow and wonderful for you, love, but I don't think I can wait any longer." Breathing heavy, Ivy nodded, and Rachel slipped off her silk panties, before sliding back on the bed to hastily peel off her own clothing and lingerie as well. She slid her nude body up Ivy's and kissed her hungrily.
The clock struck midnight as the two of them began moving in unison.
Ivy clutched at Rachel's shoulders as she felt an oddly familiar twinge, her breath ragged. On top of her, Rachel groaned. The two of them were already close, and this was only the beginning. She tossed her head back, and unable to speak, could only shout the affirmations in her mind. 'Yes! Oh God yes! Take me! Please, don't stop! Please!' The twinge within her grew stronger and the part of her conscious mind not already consumed by lust recognized it as the ley line behind the church, surging.
Their mutual climax occurred at the exact same instant the ley line was pulled through them, swallowing both in an inward collapsing pulse of light, and leaving the unmistakable scent of burnt amber behind.
Ivy and Rachel materialized on a kitchen floor. The lone occupant had his back to them at the moment, as he was busy stirring the contents of a huge copper cauldron. In his crushed green frock and lace, he would have been the epitome of the proper English gentleman, except of course for the fact he was not English, a gentleman, or even human.
"Rachel Mariana Morgan. You are unusually cooperative this evening. I must say, this is a delightful change of pace." Algaliarept spun on his heel. "Oh my." Smoked glasses slid down his long, thin nose. "It seems I've interrupting something. Or were you planning to share?" He chuckled at the blush on both their faces. "Ivy Tamwood, isn't it? No middle name. Mores the pity." He clucked his tongue. "I see now why my familiar requested a transfer. You surprise me, which is no easy feat."
Swinging black hair out of her face, Rachel struggled to catch her breath as she moved deliberately between him and Ivy. Her eyes swirled pure black as the demon leered openly. "You haven't seen anything yet, Al."
"Rachel Mariana Tamwood?" Algaliarept turned to the redhead. "Ivy Morgan. Intriguing." He clasped his white-gloved hands behind his back. "What in the ever after have you been up to, my itchy witch?"
"I'm not yours!" Rachel hissed. "I'm hers." She glanced back at Ivy, who smiled. "And don't you forget it." She turned back to the demon and snarled. "Now if you want this to stay rational, get us some clothes."
Algaliarept chuckled. "I like your spirit, student." He gestured, and ever after flowed around the two women, forming into black jeans and a gray t-shirt with the letters RMM on Ivy's chest and a black miniskirt with a red t-shirt and the letters IT on Rachel's chest. "Not the most flattering ensemble, I will admit, but I would rather not be any more distracted than I already am." He sat down, on a chair that had not been there a moment before. "Now, tell me, what exactly is going on here?"
Rachel told him what happened, or at least as much of it as she understood. When Al finally stopped laughing and picked himself up off the floor, she continued. "I get that when the focus objects came into contact with one another it caused an imbalance, but what I can't figure out is why our minds moved. We weren't doing anything like that."
"Oh, itchy witch, there is so much you have to learn. You were playing with your aura, which is never a good idea unless you're a demon, like yours truly, and an aura is intimately bound to the soul it protects. When your spell was disrupted, both of you were momentarily without an aura. That's not supposed to happen. A mystical vacuum was created, and since the aura is just energy they both happened to flow into the wrong physical container, bringing the wrong soul along with them."
Ivy clasped Rachel's hand, trying to ignore the fact this whole place made her borrowed body hum. "Can you undo it?"
"You mean put you both back in your proper place?" Algaliarept nodded. "Perhaps. Assuming both of you trust me to take control of your bodies and souls in so intimate a fashion." He chuckled as their expressions told him all he needed to know. "Truth be told, I have never heard of anything quite like this happening. I am aware of no curse to reverse your condition..."
"Can we look?" Rachel knew she would have no better opportunity than this. Even if Al couldn't simply fix things with a snap of his fingers the answer was more likely to be in one of his many, ancient demon texts than anything she had access to back home. "Would you please let my lesson this time be searching for a curse or a charm or something?"
Algaliarept shook his head. "My library pales in comparison to some here in the ever after, and even so it would take you a thousand lifetimes to look through all the texts. Couple that with the fact you don't actually have any idea what you're looking for, and if I let you start on this, itchy witch, I would likely never see you again."
"Wait a sec." Rachel's nose twitched. "The scent coming from you, it just changed. Like you're sweating." She crossed her arms. "What are you hiding, Al? Tell me, or I'll let Dali know you tried to invalidate our contract."
Algaliarept snarled. "I hate vampires. Fine! There is one book I know of that might be able to help, but I don't think you're going to like what you'll have to do in order to get it."
"Let me guess, get a mark from you?" Ivy stopped Rachel with a hand on her arm. "Leave her alone. You still haven't taken the ones off her you already promised to. If that's what you want, give it to me."
"Oh, if only it were that simple, Miss Tamwood." Algaliarept sighed. "You see, I could not give you, or Rachel Mariana Morgan a mark right now even if I wanted to. Neither of you is in your proper body, or has legal authority to give me such permission. Nor, in case you are wondering, can I put it on the proper body so it would be there when you return. Our law is very specific about such issues." He shook his head. "Besides which, that's not what I was going to say. The book is not mine, though I do know where it is, and the owner would not part willingly with it, so if you want it I'm afraid you are simply going to have to get it yourselves."
Ivy put her arms around Rachel, who shrugged. "So who does have it?"
"The one demon in all the ever after who no one would ever dare steal from."
Rachel's face fell. "Oh crap. Don't tell me?" He nodded. "Newt?" He nodded again. "I asked you not to tell me that."
Newt was the only female demon in existence, and that was because she had single-handedly killed all the others, though doing so had apparently driven her irretrievably and utterly insane. She was also the most powerful creature in the ever after, which was why Al and the other males were so completely terrified of her, generally allowing her free reign to do whatever she wanted because her limited mental capacity also tended to make her flighty and forgetful rather than dangerous.
Al told them that unlike most other demons, Newt did not call any particular place in the ever after home. She did have a castle, a huge black walled structure, but it followed her, appearing wherever she happened to remember it. That was problematic, to say the least, if she was in or near another demon's residence at the time, and over the millennia many other structures had to be rebuilt after Newt wandered off. "I have no idea where she got the book, it's not in anyone's records, but it must have meant something to her at one point because it is also found in the living room of the castle, wherever it happens to materialize."
"And even assuming we believe you," Ivy asked. "Which, for the record, I do not, you expect us to just find this place, sneak inside, and hope we can get the book and get out before Newt decides to take a trip?"
Algaliarept shrugged. "Then stay as you are, and I shall look forward to seeing both of you each Saturday from now on." He chuckled. "You didn't ask, but since this whole thing amuses me so much, I'll give you this one for free. The ley line connected with Rachel Mariana Morgan's physical body as it always has, which explains why she was brought to me, regardless of who was inside at the time. However, the true essence of Rachel Mariana Morgan is whom my contract is with, and so she came along as well, in spite of the fact she was wearing someone else's skin. Even knowing the truth, I will not be able to distinguish one from the other."
Rachel sighed. "Fine. Where is Newt right now?"
"As it happens, she showed up on my doorstep the day before yesterday. She was asking about you " Rachel's eyes widened but he waved her off." although she also forgot why, about halfway through our conversation. She seemed unusually determined, though I did my best to distract her, and because of this, I have been keeping an eye on her." He pointed to the east. "Her castle is just over the hill. If you are very fortunate, she will be asleep, and that should make your heist a great deal easier."
"What would happen?" Ivy knew that Rachel was absolutely terrified of Newt, which worried her because Rachel generally wasn't scared of anything. On the other hand, this was the same demon who had desanctified and even blasphemed their church just by walking around in it, so there were many reasons to be wary. "If she caught us?"
Algaliarept crossed his arms. "Hard to say. She might just ignore you, though that's unlikely. It's also possible she would just reclaim the book and banish you from the ever after." He paused for dramatic effect. "On the other hand, she might very well flay you both alive and wear your heads as a hat. I hear that's what happened to Minias."
Rachel took Ivy's hand. "Come on." At the door, she stopped and glanced over her shoulder. "Al, if we make it out of this alive, can I have the rest of the day off? I'm really not in the mood for well, you, right now."
"Ask me again when you're yourself, itchy witch."
Once they were out of the demon's earshot, Ivy shook her head. "How can you stand being around him?"
"Al may be a horny little creep, with a prissy attitude and no concept of patience, but he's also the most knowledgeable instructor I've ever had. I've learned more from him in these few months than I ever thought possible."
Ivy nodded. "You're connected to this place."
"What, you mean the ever after?"
"I can feel it. Your body is humming. It's like your cells are resonating with " Ivy bent down and scooped up a smoky handful of the darkness they were walking on. " this. You're more than just a witch, Rachel, you're incredible."
Rachel's nose twitched. "You're frightened." Given the circumstances, that was understandable, but then her eyes widened as she saw the way Ivy's cheeks reddened as she lowered her head. "Of me?" Her breathed caught in her throat. "God, Ivy. We're in the ever after, about to go up against the worst creature imaginable, and you're scared of me?"
"No, not you, dear heart. The part of you that is demon and not witch, yes, I guess I am a little afraid of. I'm sorry if that offends you, but I promised I would always be honest with you." Ivy took a deep breath. "It's only fair, I suppose."
"Fair? What does that mean?"
Ivy smelled incense, even over the burnt amber that permeated their surroundings, and looked into Rachel's eyes. They were beginning to swirl with black. "I know you love me. I also know that every time we're close, whether sharing blood or our bodies, there is a part of you that fears I might slip up and lose it. Hell, I do too. You love me, but you're afraid of what I am."
"That's not " Rachel desperately wanted to argue. "Okay. Yes. Not as much as I used to be. Maybe the vampire thing does still scare me a little, but that's what you are, not who you are. In our case we had the added complication of you coming on to me every five minutes, and subconsciously I was also scared by the fact I actually enjoyed it." They both smiled. "So there are parts of each other neither of us likes. I think you'll find that's true of every couple. Turn it all, there are plenty of things I don't like about myself. We can get past that as long as we are open and honest with one another. No matter what, I love you, Ivy Tamwood."
"And I will always love you, Rachel Mariana Morgan."
Rachel rolled her eyes. "Please don't call me that."
"I think I will." Ivy took Rachel's hand as she neared the crest of the hill. "So tell me about Newt."
"What's to tell? She's an uber-powerful, uber-insane demon with a Swiss cheese memory " Rachel arched an eyebrow. " and perhaps the worst architectural design sense I think I have ever seen."
The disturbingly organic looking black walled castle was in a constant state of flux. Even as they were looking at it the walls shifted, towers suddenly higher then lower, when they were even there at all. One moment it had no windows, the next small circular ones, and occasionally a single large, triangular one. It was rectangular, though it was also square, and every so often, a pyramid. The entire structure gave both of them a headache just looking at it, so they instead focused on one another.
"From what you've told me about her, that looks like exactly the kind of place I imagine she'd live," said Ivy.
Rachel shook her head. "Then you have a better imagination than me, love, because I've never dreamt of anything like that, and frankly I would be happy if I never had to think of anything like it again." They headed for what was, at the moment, the front door. "If Al is right, we know Newt is home because the castle is here, so be careful. If you see her, don't run and try not to make any noise. I don't want to risk actually getting her attention on us. We're just going to grab the book and run."
"What if she has it? What if she's reading it or something?"
"Then it's a safe bet the universe hates us." Rachel took her lover's hand. "Come on." Al hold told them Newt kept the book in question in the living room, so they headed for what was sometimes the front door and slipped through at a moment it wasn't there at all. Inside, they both got goosebumps at a major temperature variation. "It's freezing in here."
Ivy shook her head. "No, it's just cooler than outside, I think. The ever after is sweltering." She looked around. "Rachel, am I imagining it, or does this look an awful lot like our living room?" The design of the room, the positioning of the furniture, and even the furniture itself, down to Kisten's pool table and her piano. "Okay, this is disturbing."
"She was in the church," Rachel said softly. "But just that one time. Turn it! She remembered?" Her eyes darkened as she felt the fear coming off Ivy in waves. "Calm down, love. We don't need either of us losing it right now." She scanned the room and saw a dark, leather bound book sitting on an end table beside Ivy's chair. "There! Let's get it and go!"
Ivy's ears popped. There was a sudden change in air pressure. She started to say something, but Rachel had already darted forward with vampire speed. A shape appeared beside the vampire as she was reaching for the book and with a casual gesture sent her spinning head over heels across the room, eventually landing in a crumpled heap on the other side of the pool table. Paling, the redhead took a step back as the compact, pale-skinned figure in a flowing purple robe glided toward her. "Oh no."
Newt blinked. "You." She grabbed the redhead by the throat and lifted her off her feet. "I know you." She cocked her head, lips working as if she was trying to say something, then she suddenly released Ivy, and began slapping the side of her head. "Why do I know you? Why?" In the blink of an eye, she was by Rachel's side, kneeling, hair in her hands to look into her eyes. "And you. I know you. But I don't." She was back with Ivy. "This is wrong. Not right. Wrong. You can't save the shadows. You can't. I won't let you. Can't! Can't!" She grabbed Ivy's cheeks and brought their faces so close together their eyes almost touched. "That's not you inside."
Ivy shook her head. "No."
"It's her." Newt pointed at Rachel. "She's you. You're her. Or are you she and she her?" The vampire stirred, her eyes blackening as she lurched to her feet. "Not right. Not." Snarling, Rachel came charging at them.
Ivy paled. 'Oh God, no. She's lost it. The instincts are taking over.'
Newt caught the oncoming vampire with one hand, holding her by the throat almost unnoticed as she struggled and howled. "Can't have this. Things to come. Everyone in its place." She put her other hand on Ivy. "Can't. Must." She blinked. White-hot energy flowed through Rachel and Ivy and they screamed as they felt themselves being torn apart from within.
It was too much to bear and they both passed out.
Rachel struggled back to consciousness, her eyes opening slowly to see an indistinct figure looming over her. "Ivy?"
"I don't think so, itchy witch."
Rachel groaned. "Al. Where the hell are we?"
"My bedroom." The demon laughed. "I always knew I'd get you in here, sooner or later."
Startled, Rachel kicked the crushed velvet sheets that smelled oddly like lilacs off and sat up. "What happened?"
"That's what I'd like to know. You both just reappeared hours ago, unconscious."
Rachel gasped. "Ivy! Where's Ivy?"
"Settle down, itchy witch. She's right beside you."
Rachel turned to gaze at the figure sprawled out next to her in the huge, four-poster bed, and breathed a sigh of relief. Then it dawned on her what exactly she was seeing; white skin, black hair, and magnificent breasts. It was Ivy. By the Turn, it was really Ivy. She stared in disbelief at her own hands. "We're back in our own bodies? How?"
"I assumed you found the book," said Al. "You're saying you didn't do this?"
Rachel shook her head. "We did find the book, but before I could even lay my hands on it, Newt showed up." Al nodded. "She hit me, I think, then I'm not sure what happened. It gets a little hazy after that."
"I think you were unconscious." Ivy sat up. "And your my, instincts took over. My body attacked her."
"Ivy!" Rachel embraced her lover, practically sobbing. "I'm so glad you're okay." They began to kiss, and the exchange threatened to become more heated until Al cleared his throat, reminding the duo he was there. "Wait, you said I attacked Newt?" The redhead sat back as Ivy nodded. "So how am I still alive? And how did we get back?"
His gaze going to each of them in turn, Al shrugged. "I should think that was obvious. Newt."
"She helped us?" Ivy asked. "Why? Why would she even care?"
"Oh, I doubt very much it actually had anything to do with the two of you." Al began to pace, hands clasped behind his back. "In her more lucid moments, which are thankfully few and far between, Newt views herself as a fixer of sorts. She corrects errors as she sees them, whether they are a problem for anyone else or not. Some part of her recognized an incongruity in her presence, mainly the two the two of you, so she probably put it back in order and wandered off to go watch the sunset or something."
"I never though I'd be grateful to that " Rachel's eyes widened. "Hold on, she didn't mark me, did she?"
Al rolled his eyes. "Oh, relax, itchy witch. Even Newt can't do that without a formal agreement. Now, if she ever remembers this she might decide you owe her a favor, and if that happens, I would suggest you do it for your own sake." He sighed. "I'm glad it all worked out. To tell you the truth, I was a little afraid she would just kill you, and I have plans for you."
"Wait." Ivy smelled the same change in Al's scent that Rachel had before. "You knew she would catch us, didn't you?" She slid off the bed and moved toward him. "You son of a bitch!" Her eyes flashed black. "You set us up!"
Rachel stood up. "Ivy, wait."
"I couldn't very well tell you I was sending you to Newt, now could I?" Al asked. "She can do things the rest of us can't, but I knew if I suggested it you'd just laugh in my face." Ivy got closer, snarling, and his brow furrowed. "Don't test me, vampire. I may have need of Rachel Mariana Morgan " The proper English gentleman transformed into Piscary. " but you're nothing."
Ivy staggered back to find Rachel's arms waiting for her. "N-No."
"Al! Stop it! Don't you dare do this to her!" Rachel tapped a ley line and flung the energy at the demon, sending him flying back over his kitchen counter. "Mess with my head all you want, but you will damn well leave her alone!" To her surprise, the figure that rose from behind the counter was not Piscary or Al, but rather Ivy's old girlfriend, Skimmer.
"Didn't take you long to get whipped, did it witch?" She smirked. "Can't say as I blame you though." She closed her eyes, shivering, and licked her lips. "Mmm does she still do that thing with her tongue?"
Rachel shook her head. "I'm not playing, Al. Not until you send Ivy home." Skimmer froze, and Ivy's eyes widened. "Do that and I will take your mind games all day long. Whatever you want. I don't care. Just leave her out of it!"
Ivy clutched at her. "Please don't. You can't trust him."
"Oh, believe me, I don't, but it's okay." Rachel crossed her arms. "We have an arrangement. Isn't that right, Al?"
Skimmer transformed back into Algaliarept. "Indeed we do, Rachel Mariana Morgan. Very well. You can both go home." He shrugged as they gazed disbelievingly at him. "I'm not inclined to waste my time. If I send Ivy Tamwood back alone you won't be of much use to me, because your thoughts will be on her and not our work. We shall try again next week." He tapped the same ley line as Rachel had, only instead of using it so violently he simply held it open for her, and bowed slightly. "This will not be forgotten."
Rachel grabbed Ivy's hand and took them both into the ley line before the demon changed his mind. Their bodies collapsed in on themselves and when they could see again they found themselves once again in the bedroom where they started, and since their clothes had been made out of ever after, they were naked again. "By the Turn! We're home!"
Ivy blinked. "And not alone." She pointed to a winged figure seated on the dresser, tiny arms crossed. "Jenks?"
"Tinks' diaphragm!" The pixie's wings flashed red as he rose into the air. "I smelled the ever after and I knew where you went Rache " He got in Ivy's face. " but what were you thinking, taking Ivy with you?"
Rachel cleared her throat. "Umm, I'm over here Jenks."
"What?" He fluttered from one to the other. "You got your bodies back? Tinks' contractual hell! How?"
"Believe it or not, Newt."
Jenks' wings paled. "WHAT?"
"I guess she didn't like things the way they were," said Ivy. "Whatever the reason, I'm glad to be back." She clenched her fists. "Not that I don't like being inside you Rachel " They both flushed as she realized how that sounded. " but I never thought I would be so happy to be a vampire again." Her eyes narrowed on Jenks. "Now, get out of here, insect."
He blinked, clearly confused by the sudden change in her tone. "What? Why?"
"Because, we're naked " Rachel's face turned bright red, as if she only now realized this. " and since we are I intend to show Rachel a few things about what a vampire can do, and frankly I don't want an audience."
Jenks flew back. "Okay, okay, there's no need to bite my head off." He dove for the door. "Good to have you back, Tamwood. Rache. I'll get Keasley to bake you some more brimstone cookies." And with that, he was gone.
Rachel put her arms around Ivy's neck. "Now, Miss Tamwood, I believe you said you had something to show me?"
"Why yes I do, Miss Morgan." Ivy scooped the redhead up in her arms and swiftly carried her to bed.
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