Disclaimer: I don't own Kim Harrison's characters. "Breaking the Habit" is an intellectual property of Linkin Park

(Skimmer's POV)

Clutchg my cure, I tightly lock the door

I try to catch my breath again

You all assume, I'm, safe here in my room

Unless I try to start again...


That was all I heard; dead silence, without anything but the sound of my own breathing to disturb it. I hated it. I was used to being with someone, anyone. I just couldn't stand being alone. Yet here I was, alone, lying on my bed, with only my thoughts to keep me company. It was driving me nuts

You just don't appreciate what you have until you lose it. I thought, glancing around the now-empty space, still feeling the last traces of the earlier turmoil in the air.

This morning, at an ungodly hour for a Saturday morning, Ms Withers and two security guards had come knocking, asking for my roommate, Amanda. One of our fellow students had been found passed out in one of the girls' restroom, in severe brimstone overdose, said brimstone having apparently been provided by Amanda. So my wannabe drug lord of a roommate was expelled without a chance for appeal, leaving me in dead silence, and, more importantly, without a readily available blood source.

Not that Amanda had been the greatest catch I'd ever pulled; pretty, in a kind of bookish way, brown eyes, mousy hair, and average height. Nothing was profoundly wrong with her, she was just… lackluster. Everyone in school left me feeling that way, so I just didn't bother with quality anymore, just willingness. That wasn't hard to find, considering I came from a thousand year-old bloodline and my favor was usually much sought after. Humph. As if they thought a teenage crush on my part would endear my family to theirs. Losers.

So, fast, easy and cheap was my rule, sometimes just blood, sometimes sex and blood, although lately, I hadn't even bothered with sex. It's fairly easy to find a female blood partner, but not one who is willing to share her body has well as her blood, not with another woman, anyway. And whenever I did manage to find one, she usually couldn't satisfy me as well as I wished. No matter who I ended up with, I was the dominating one, just like that, almost out of principle. No challenge, no satisfaction, just… emptiness. I kept trying, though, if only to keep my bloodlust at bay. Amanda had at least been good for that. She didn't say no, not to sharing blood, anyway. Given a little time, we might have amounted to something together…

I scoffed at the thought. Get real, Skimmer. No matter how hard you try, you won't find anyone like her. Not amongst the living.

I had been fifteen the first time my master, Nathalie, had taken me to her bed. In human society, that would've made her a pedophile, but because of the first stirrings of my bloodlust, in vampire society, I was considered an adult. That is the sign any dead vampire must wait for before taking an active interest in any of their living kin. It was my luck that it came early for me. God, I had never felt alive before then, and in those months since my parents sent me away I hadn't felt anywhere as good as with her.

They said it was for the best, that I was growing addicted to her, that it was too early for me to be in such a relationship with an undead, but still, being away from Nathalie left me feeling hollow. The damage was already done, and nothing could erase it. No one who was never touched by a master vampire could understand the heights of passion I had experienced, and thus couldn't even come close to reaching them, let alone help me reach them.

A soft moan escaped me. Just thinking about those short months I had spent with her was enough to set my body tingling in the remembered ecstasy of our first night together; the softness of her silk sheets beneath me, the sliding sound they made as I writhed on them, the gentleness of her hands as they caressed my naked skin, then her sudden roughness, her weight pressing me down, pinning me. The scars on my neck, my arms, my thighs, my whole body roared to life as I recalled the sensation of her long, long fangs sliding easily in me, icy though they invoked heat and passion like no other…

"Shit." I swore out loud as I rolled out of bed, half walking, half stumbling into the bathroom, my whole body flushed and aching with need and craving. I ran the shower as cold as I could, and, barely taking time to shrug off my robe, I stepped into the icy spray. How the water didn't sizzle in contact with my skin is completely beyond me. My breath escaped me in a gasp, and I crumpled in a tangled mess of limbs. I lay there for a minute, an hour, a lifetime, two… I didn't know. I just lay there, letting the water fight off the burning craving in me. Nothing else could; I didn't even have a half-decent partner, so I couldn't slake my bloodlust, and masturbation just couldn't touch this need that plagued me. I know; I've tried.

Eventually, I managed to pull myself to a somewhat upright position, my arms around my shins and my forehead resting on my knees, my blond hair framing my face in long, messy tendrils. The heat had receded some, but was still potent, and my body still shook slightly with need. I felt weak, sick, frustrated and angry.

"If this is supposed to be healing, I'd rather be sick." I mumbled, miserable. It wasn't the first time I'd had one of these outbursts of lust. I'd been having them since my first week here, and they kept getting worse the longer I stayed.

"Just ride it out, Skimmer, just ride it out." My voice sounded horribly like a sob. I kept repeating those words like a mantra, rocking myself back and forth while waiting for the icy water to finish cooling me off. I drifted off, and again my thoughts took me back to that unbelievable night.

It was the first time I'd ever been bitten and also the first time I tasted the mix of gentleness and rough domination that was all Nathalie. I distinctly remembered the feeling of her fangs, embedded in my flesh for a too-short eternity, slowly pulling out of me. My throat throbbed in time with my pulse. She ran a gentle tongue time and again over my broken skin, lapping up my blood and wrenching choked sobs of pleasure from me. Her voice soothed me, told me it was all right as my body shook with a passion it could scarcely contain. Her lips found mine, the taste of my blood riding the kiss, stirring desires I couldn't yet understand.

"Mine. All mine." She whispered, her black eyes staring into mine, striking me to the depths of my soul. I knew in that moment that she was right; I was hers, body and soul. And I knew what she wanted me to do.

She pulled my head into the hollow of her neck, stifling my meager protests, my idiotic fear born in ignorance. "Shhh. Don't think, my love. You know how to do this, even if you never have. Just let your body go." A delighted cry came from her as instinct took me over for the first time and my small fangs pierced her skin. She was right; I did know how to do this. Strong, bitter undead blood flooded my mouth, and an intoxicating feeling like electricity traveled through my body. I sucked greedily on the wound, pleasure pooling in me, both under my skin and in my mind, and I found that the more I pulled, the more satisfaction I felt coming off Nathalie, until we both screamed in climax and she pulled me away from her neck, savagely kissing me.

"This really isn't helping…" I muttered, mentally chastising myself for reliving those intense moments. The heartache still lingered; I missed her, more than anyone, more than my friends, more than my mother, more than my father and brothers.

Still, the water had done its job; I was frozen to the bone, and all of my earlier lust was gone as I stepped out of the shower stall. I dried myself off and walked out of the bathroom to get dressed. As bad as it was, it was better to have my outburst happen now than later. Ms Withers was supposed to bring along my new roommate in the next hours, some new girl from Cincinnati I really didn't care about; probably just another Amanda in a long string of Amandas. It really wouldn't do to be drooling all over her.

I chose a crisp white blouse and jeans from my dresser, as well as underwear. Comfy cream-colored boots went at my feet. I felt more in control of the aching emptiness now that I was clean and dressed, almost back to normal. I sprayed air freshener to erase all traces of my breakdown, then went to the small kitchen area to make coffee, half out of genuine desire for caffeine, half out of hope the rich smell would further help cover whatever the spray missed. A sigh escaped me. This was ridiculous. Everyone in school thought I was this great confident and strong girl with a bit of a kinky side, an easy laugh who never lets anything bother her. A façade, all of it is just a façade, and the simple thought of Nathalie is enough to tear it down.

I sat for a long time with a cup of coffee in front of me, thinking about my family, my life before this empty shell of an existence. My father was a descendant of a thousand years old European bloodline started by Nathalie, and so looked up to her. My mother came from a lesser, American bloodline, one of the oldest in this part of the world. Since my father's name was the greater, my brothers carried first his name then my mother's. As the third child, I took my father's name and, thus, was considered a member of his bloodline, not my mother's. Three children is an unusual number in a vampire family, with its average of two kids, one for each bloodline, but my parents went one further and even had another son after me. My life had been rather typical for an upper class young vampire; I went to school, made friends, gossiped about this and that, learned to dance… Even today, dancing is one of the few things I truly enjoy.

A normal childhood, up until a fateful night when, during a dance lesson I felt the first rumblings of bloodlust and found not my mother waiting for me outside but my master.

A knock on the door brought me back to the present. My coffee was cold, and I realized over an hour had passed.

"Dorothy? Dorothy, are you there?" Ms Withers' voice rang through the door, and I rolled my eyes at her use of my birth name.

"Just a minute." I answered before straightening my clothes and my hair. I walked to the door, took a breath and opened it…

…only to have my breath catch in my throat.

In the door frame stood two women, one Ms Withers, a severe looking older woman with light brown hair pulled in a tight bun. Of course, the witch wasn't the one shocking me this way.

She was tall, easily 5'8'', lean and beautiful. Her complexion was that of a ghost, pale alabaster skin almost shining in the afternoon sun. Her dark, raven colored hair fell almost to her trim waist. She was clad in tight fitting jeans that clung wonderfully to her long legs, and her black top suggested the small, perfect breasts under it. Her face was a smooth oval, her features delicate. And her eyes… God, I could drown in them. Almond shaped and a deep, liquid brown, they lent the rest of her face an oriental quality that made her look exotic, but, not only where they exquisite to look at, they held a dangerous intensity that set the pit of my stomach clenching.

That was the first time I laid eyes on Ivy Tamwood.