DISCLAIMER: These characters belong to Kim Harrison. No copyright infringement is intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Many thanks to bldy_destini. for the beta. This part is angsty. Be patient.
SPOILERS: Definite spoilers through the events of For A Few Demons More.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Where Rachel Dare
"Rachel?" Ivy called out, a moment after I heard the back door shut. "What is that smell?"
"What smell," I called back. It was true. I couldn't smell a thing. A nasty cold had been going around for weeks and I'd finally managed to catch it.
Ivy wrinkled her nose as she walked into the kitchen, ruining her usual serious, aloof look.
"It smells like," she paused and frowned, "Did Skimmer come by?"
She gave me an odd look before she dropped into a seat at her computer.
Okay, so maybe I had responded a little too quickly and too vehemently to that question, but I hadn't seen Skimmer since she'd helped kill Piscary. I wasn't sure if that was Ivy's decision or her own. I wasn't sure I wanted to know. But there it was.
"No," I repeated in what I hoped was a more normal tone of voice, "The only thing I've been doing is working on a spell." I gestured to the mess stacked behind me that included my favorite spell pot and a variety of brewing ingredients. "I found a new spell that should help my cold go away faster."
Ivy's eyes narrowed. "I thought cold spells were notoriously unreliable."
"Please," I scoffed, "They're coming up with all kinds of new spells everyday, and I've heard this cold spell works great." Ivy was the last person that I'd admit it to, but even I wasn't certain that this would work. She was right. At this point, however, I was willing to try anything to make my head stop pounding.
Ivy muttered something from across the room that I didn't quite catch. It was probably better that I hadn't heard it. Things got more than a little tense when we were both in a bad mood.
Besides, my head was already starting to feel better - lighter and less pound-y. I shivered, and then glanced towards the window. The sun was setting and a chill was settling in to the church.
"I'm going to go get a hoodie, and then I'll be back to cook dinner. What do you want?" I called back to Ivy as I walked away.
I was definitely feeling a lot better all ready. That cold spell was really working fast. Not only was my head feeling lighter, but I was feeling lighter all over. The misery that had been weighing on me all day was lifting away. I pulled the hoodie over my head easily. It hung down past my waist as I headed back to the kitchen.
"Decided what you want," I asked casually, as I pulled the refrigerator door open to see what we had available.
"Rachel." The tone of Ivy's voice made my head shoot up, and the refrigerator door slid shut without me holding it open anymore.
"Ivy." My voice was slow and clear. She was making me nervous. There was only a thin rim of brown left around her eyes, and she was holding her body with impossible stiffness, an unreal stillness.
"Why are you wearing my Piscary's Hoodie," Ivy asked in a choked voice.
My body froze even as I looked quickly down at what I was wearing. I had no idea how I'd gotten her hoodie or why I was wearing it and now I was in big trouble. Wearing a vampire's clothes was a major turn on. If I hadn't learned that from Ivy's dating guide then my own experience with Kist was enough to show me that.
"I don't know," I said slowly. "I'll just take it off." It was the only thing that made sense in that moment. I tugged at the hoodie, pulling it over my head. Cold air hit my stomach as the hoodie tugged my shirt up. I hissed and tugged it back down as I dropped the hoodie onto the counter.
My head, while feeling lighter, was now feeling too light. The room seemed to be spinning around me. The floor was suddenly rushing up at me. Strong arms caught me, jerking me out of my fall, and bringing me back down. Everything was no longer light and floaty. Heaviness came rushing back in, as I suddenly found myself staring into Ivy's eyes.
She'd vamped majorly to get across the room in time to save me from falling and making an ass of myself on the hard linoleum floor of the kitchen. Now there was only inches separating us. With my left hand I reached out to steady myself, holding on to Ivy's bicep. My other hand ghosted over her shoulder, and slid up behind her neck, threading through the short spiky hair there.
"Rachel." Her voice sounded strangled. "What are you doing?"
I tugged lightly until she bent down towards me. "Kissing you," I said as if it were the most obvious thing in the world, an instant before my lips touched hers.
Her lips were unmoving against mine, as I kissed her, bruising her lips against mine, until I slowly began to pull away, lightly nipping at her lips as I did. Ivy reacted instantly as I'd intended. My back slammed against the wall, her hand behind me holding me up, as her other hand fumbled for the scar on my neck.
I gasped as her fingers found it and a jolt of pure pleasure shot through me. "Ivy," I breathed her name, reaching for her and pulling her closer, until she was pressed up against every inch of me.
My eyes met hers. They were totally black.
Still she held herself a little bit a part. "I warned you, Rachel." Her voice was deep enough to be a growl, but ended up sounding closer to a purr.
A shiver ran down my spine. "I remember," I mumbled, and I did remember. Vaguely. Something.
My hand slipped under Ivy's t-shirt, and found skin, beautifully smooth wonderful skin. It was that motion that stripped away the last vestiges of Ivy's control. Her lips fell to my shoulder, her tongue tracing the edges of my demon scar. My head fell back against the wall, giving Ivy better access. The blunt edge of her teeth scraped across the scar and I almost passed out from the sensation, pain turning instantly into pleasure. I could hardly think as her teeth sank into my skin easily, her lips pressing into the skin lightly around the bite mark.
I lost myself in Ivy, giving myself over to her, and trusting her completely with everything.
My head was pounding. Worse than pounding. The whole world seemed to be throbbing with agony.
I opened my eyes and flinched at the brightness of the sun. It had to be almost sunset by now. How long had I slept? Jenks and I had a run scheduled for later in the day that I couldn't afford to miss. Jenks was even scarier as a landlord than my previous one had been.
I shifted, rolling my legs off of the bed to stand up, and froze. There was an arm around my waist. It clung tighter to me. My hand unconsciously flew to my neck. Pain blossomed as my fingers hit the fresh puncture marks. Unlike last time these were smooth, and clean. I shivered as the pain muted, and turned into another kind of ache.
"Rachel," Her voice was muted and sleepy as Ivy murmured my name. Her hand stroked lazily down my back and I instinctively moved into the touch until my head caught up with my body.
"Ivy?" Horror filtered into my voice and I jumped out of bed, dragging the sheet up and around me as I stumbled towards the wall, putting myself as far away from Ivy as I could.
By the Turn, what had we done last night?
Ivy lazy rolled toward me. I swallowed hard against the pounding in my head as I saw her completely naked, sprawled across the bed. She looked sleepy and sated lying there and not at all like the sleek, graceful predator that she had been last night.
I was in so far over my head, fear was cutting through my confusion and my heart was beginning to race. Ivy's eyes snapped open, clear and brown. It was still early enough in the day that not even a hint of black showed in them.
"Rachel." Ivy's voice was different from just a moment ago, flat and devoid of emotion. "It's okay," she said soothingly, holding out her hand to me. "Come back to bed, dear heart."
Panic was surging up in me.
"No - I - what did we do?"
Realization was only, slowly dawning on Ivy. "Rachel, don't you remember what happened last night?"
"No," I said with a shake of my head. Or maybe I did, I reconsidered, as an image of Ivy bent over me, worshiping my body, flashed through my mind.
"You're the one who wanted to find a blood balance with me," she pointed out. "You kissed me."
"Yeah." I had kissed her. I'd also been wearing her hoodie. How had that happened? I certainly hadn't done it on purpose and we were careful enough that it wouldn't have happened by accident.
Ivy sat up and I shrank further back against the wall. In my haste to get out of the bed, I'd gotten out on the farthest side from the door, leaving Ivy between me and my exit.
Ivy sniffed the air and, moving slowly and deliberately, got out of bed. She stepped around it, moving towards me. I fought to stay still, struggling not show how scared I really was. I flinched as she bent over to pick up my discarded shirt. She looked at me pointedly as she stood up and I winced at the pain that I'd seen in her expression.
I'd learned within the first few weeks of living with Ivy just how easy it was to hurt her. It was something I hated to see more every time it happened.
I raised an eyebrow as she sniffed at my shirt and then dropped it. Ivy seemed to crumple inwards and almost fell to a seat on the bed.
"Ivy?" I took an unconscious step towards her. Even scared and confused, seeing Ivy like this still tugged at my heart.
"You messed up that cold spell."
I fell back at the anger in her voice.
"So what? I feel better this morning." I matched her anger with belligerence. It was an old routine for us.
"You mixed up a lust spell, Rachel, not a cold spell." She stood with vamp speed, moving jerkily as she paced, and far too fast to be a normal human. I hated it when she did that. It also showed just how nervous Ivy was. "That's why I thought I smelled another vampire here last night."
Stunned realization flooded over me. There was a reason why every witch was warned not to mix a spell when she couldn't smell.
"Oh god." I sank to the floor across from Ivy.
Immediately she was in front of me, worry clear in her eyes. She reached out to me and then snatched her hand back before she could touch me as if she'd been burned.
"Are you-" She couldn't seem to think of what I might be.
I just shook my head. This was all too much.
Ivy slowly wrapped her arms around herself, and suddenly she looked impossibly small huddled in front of me.
"You promised you wouldn't leave."
And I did. I had promised. But I'd also managed to screw this up worse than I could possibly imagine.
"Rachel!" Jenks' panicked yell cut through the tension. "Where in Tink's Disney Mansion are you?"
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