Title: Didn't Know Until I Did
Fandom: The Hollows/Rachel Morgan Series
Disclaimer: I don't own them.
Summary: Rachel and Ivy have a disagreement which has something interesting consequences.
"It's my run. Mine. As in belonging to me, as in I decide how to run, where to run it and when to run it," I declared, wiping my hands on Ivy's apron as my voice became louder and louder. I spun around from the sink where I had been washing dishes to face Ivy, my eyes burning.
My partner – who seemed to be confusing the role with that of my mother – was seated at the kitchen table with her laptop in front of her, as usual. She wasn't typing at it however, responding to one of the endless emails she seemed to receive. Instead, she was sitting still, her back almost painfully straight; her features impassive as she stared in my direction.
"Rachel," she began, her tone carefully modulated to hide the irritation she was no doubt feeling. "I'm not trying to … dictate how you should carry out your runs. I was simply pointing out that …"
"You were simply being a pain in the ass, Ivy," I interjected before she could very softly, and very eloquently tell me that I was an impulsive, reckless, danger-seeking ignoramus. "I'm a professional," I continued, not unaware of the snotty tone my voice had taken on. "I know how to avoid cameras, and I'm more than capable of protecting myself from spells and charms … despite what you might think," I added at the last second, striving for maximum pettiness, and hitting my mark if I did say so myself.
"A pain in the ass," Ivy hissed softly, staring at me unblinkingly. I was far enough away that I couldn't see her cinnamon brown eyes, but I was sure that if I could that those deep brown depths would have been almost consumed by black. "I'm being an …" she continued incredulously, her nostrils flaring slightly as she rose to her feet.
She stopped speaking then, and her eyes focused on me with an unnatural intensity. My heartbeat began to pick up, and an icy feeling of dread started to creep up my back. I knew immediately that she was pulling an aura, but that knowledge didn't stop from feeling the effects of it, and I stepped back, clutching at the edge of the sink with my hands, my grip hard enough that it hurt.
Ivy continued to stare at me unwaveringly, but then – what seemed like hours later – she sighed and her shoulders slumped. The fear and terror coursing through me began to dissipate and I knew that she was back in control of herself.
"Fine, Rachel. Fine," she said finally, the words half sighed, half hissed as she looked at me sadly. "Do what you want."
She held my gaze for a second longer, and then picked up her laptop and headed for the door.
"I will," I muttered petulantly as she made her way past me. My voice was low, but I knew that Ivy heard my words. With her vampire hearing she would have been able to make out what I said even if she was on the other side of the room, and when I spoke she was practically standing beside me.
Ivy stopped walking, her body becoming impossibly rigid before she turned and looked over at me. With her that close to me I could see that there was very little brown left in her eyes, but I refused to step back again. Other than her eyes there were no other signs that she was losing control, and I refused to give her the satisfaction of knowing that she was scaring me.
"You always do," Ivy said lowly, anger and something that sounded suspiciously like concern mixing together in her tone. "No matter how many times it nearly gets you killed."
I opened my mouth to respond, but before I could utter even a syllable Ivy moved from the kitchen and disappeared into the living room.
I stood still, staring at the spot she had occupied a moment before as my heart pounded behind my breast. I was trembling slightly, and I felt almost feverish as I breathed faint smell of incense and citrus that hung in the air after Ivy's departure.
I began to play Ivy's last words in my head over and over again. No matter how many times it nearly gets you killed. No matter how many times it nearly gets you killed. Her silken voice taunted me, and I felt my chest rising and falling as my ire increased.
I was working up a truly epic tantrum.
How dare she? I thought indignantly. How dare she? She had no right! Had my life been on the line a few times? Yes, of course it had. I was a runner not an office clerk. Danger was part of the job. I'd gotten banged up, sure. I'd been in some rough situations, I wouldn't deny it. But we couldn't all be invulnerable-super-human-vampire-assassin-supermodels. I didn't have vampire strength, speed or healing, but I could take care of myself. I did alright dammit! I did alright.
I stood in the doorway of the kitchen, fuming as an image of Ivy's flawless oval face swam before my eyes. Ivy, Ivy … Ivy. She of exotic good looks, Amazonian frame, and Leather Uniform of Badassery thought that she was so infallible. It would never occur to her that just because I worked differently, it didn't mean that I worked ineffectively. Maps and coloured marks and planning, I thought snidely, weren't everything. Instinct and emotion was just important. Instinct could guide a person down a worthy path. Feeling wasn't a weakness, it was an asset!
"So, you've never been in a tight spot, huh? You've never been shot at or attacked or cut?" I asked irately.
I hadn't even realized that I had moved from the kitchen, but suddenly I found myself in the living room staring at Ivy's dark, dramatic, moodily lounging figure where she rested on the couch. She looked like the villain in a gothic horror novel, and despite how irritated I was with her I found that I couldn't quite take my eyes off of her. For all of her anal-retentiveness, condescension, and control-issues, she was breathtakingly beautiful. Damn her, she was stunning.
"Yes, I've been in tight spots," Ivy responded tightly, her eyes focused on me with hawk-like intensity. Her expression was predatory, her eyes burning with barely controlled aggravation, and I felt my heart thump in my chest. "Things go wrong," Ivy continued, her voice was nothing more than a low grumble. "The difference is that with me it's the exception. With you it's a way of being." She practically hissed the last four words, and a shiver ran through me at the sound of her displeasure.
She sighed deeply and looked away from me a moment later, her gaze turning towards the screen of her laptop. Her eyes were focused on it, but I could tell that she wasn't really concentrating on what was on the screen. She was brooding.
"You've been incredibly lucky in the past. But luck runs out." Her words were so soft they could have floated on a butterfly's wings, and for a moment the sound of her voice made me tingle.
"Is it so hard for you to believe that it might not be luck?" I asked ignoring her wary gaze as I moved further into the room. "I work hard Ivy. I put everything I have into what I do. I may be lucky, but I'm also good. I wouldn't have survived two years with the I.S. if I was incompetent. I do have skills."
"I know you do," Ivy said, carefully setting her laptop to the side before she very elegantly moved to stand up. "I've seen you in action," she continued, her head tilting minutely towards the kitchen, no doubt remembering the different times she had seen me mixing spells and tapping into the ley line that ran beneath the church. "I wouldn't have wanted to be partners with you if I thought you were incompetent. I wouldn't have wanted to keep working with you if I didn't respect your talents." Ivy sighed again, and lifted her hand to her hair, running her fingers agitatedly through her long, luxurious, onyx locks. "I just wish you would be more careful."
She sounded sad and weary. She was a worn out mother looking down at a broken plate on the floor, whispering 'This is why we can't have nice things'.
"You mean plan more," I pressed, though I had no idea why I was doing it. "You mean be more like you," I said taking a step towards her.
I was being unfair, and I knew it. More to the point I was being an ass. Ivy couldn't help her obsessive planning anymore than I could help going with my gut, and my comment was uncalled for. I knew it, I knew it was, but I couldn't stop myself from saying it. Just like I hadn't been able to stop myself from saying half of the things I had over the last half an hour even though I knew I was acting like to complete douche.
"It has nothing to do with me," Ivy hissed, her muscles tightening threateningly though she remained perfectly still. "This is about you, and the unnecessary risks you take. All I was doing was suggesting that you have a second exit strategy. I didn't invent Plan B's, Rachel. I just understand the merit of them."
By the time she finished speaking Ivy was standing directly in front of me. She was so close that I could feel her warm breath on my face, and smell a faint scent of citrus. It was a hint of the orange juice she loved so much. She had just finished a glass of it before our argument began.
"If something goes wrong," I began slowly, my eyes holding hers as I spoke. "I'll think of something."
A rush of air warmed my face as Ivy released a mighty huff. Her eyes were completely black, and I could see her chest rising and falling rapidly as she tried to control her breathing.
"'I'll think of something', isn't a plan, Witch," Ivy fumed. "It's … it's …" Ivy blinked in consternation, a line ring of brown returning to her eyes as frustration mingled with her anger. She was struggling find words to express just how annoying and silly and ill-prepared I was, and it bugged her that a retort wasn't on the tip of her tongue. "It's not a plan!" she finally choked out.
I wasn't sure whether she was more infuriated by me or her own lack of eloquence.
"You can't plan for surprises, Ivy! Some things just happen. There is no rhythm or reason why. We can't predict them or control them. All we can do is accept them and respond to them as best we can, and hope that what we decide is right." My voice trembled with passion and as I stared at her I had a very strong urge to poke her in the chest. I suppressed it, just barely, but I couldn't stop myself from adding a petulant, "Stupid," a moment after.
"Stupid?" she questioned, blinking. "Stupid?" she repeated, in a louder and far more peeved tone of voice. "Stupid," she muttered shaking her head, a wry smile twisting her lips as she did. "Stupid. Yes, I certainly am," she continued.
She held my eyes for a moment, then a look of incredible sadness came over her exquisite features and she shook her head at me sadly. A moment as that she took a step around me and began to move towards the door.
"Don't walk away from me when I'm talking to you," I said, instinctively reaching out to grab her wrist.
"Rachel," Ivy said lowly, turning her head to face me. "Let go."
Her lips curled slightly as she spoke, and I could see sharp, glistening teeth. Her eyes were completely black, and her nostrils flared and stayed that way as she stared at me. Danger and menace emanated from every part of her at that moment, and I knew unequivocally that I was looking at the vampire and not the woman.
At the thought, an intense rush of desire pulsed through me, the feelings coming over me so suddenly that I literally gasped.
My fingers tightened around her wrist. Her eyes flashed dangerously in response and my body tingled in turn. My head began to swim. I felt light-headed and intoxicated, and I flexed my fingers around her wrist.
"No," I whispered, meeting Ivy's eyes.
"Rachel. Let. Go." The warning was clear in Ivy's voice and the sound of it made me throb.
"No," I breathed out, surprising myself with the response.
Maybe I was as stupid and impulse and reckless as she thought I was? I had to be, because I knew that I should release her. I knew that I should let her go, let her leave the church and calm down. I remembered the Dating Guide she had given me, and I realized that I had been pulling all kinds of vampiric triggers over the last half an hour.
I had put on her apron.
I had raised my voice to her.
I had invaded her personal space.
I had followed her into another room after she had left in the middle of a conversation.
I had moved close enough to her that I could feel her breath.
And then as she tried to flee again I had touched her skin, and was now challenging her.
I had done everything within my power to provoke a response from her aside from cutting open a vein and holding out my arm to her.
I had been baiting her, I realized with a start. I had been deliberate provoking her. But, why … why? I didn't know. All I knew was that something, some deeply repressed desire had been driving me, pushing me, commanding me to behave this way, and I was helpless to stop it.
"Please, Rachel," Ivy hissed, her eyes burning into mine as she spoke. She sounded pained and scared and I automatically reached out for her, trying to cup her face.
She pulled back so violently that I cringed in sympathy pain.
"What do you want from me?" she whispered, shaking with the effort to control herself.
I closed my eyes, taking in the raspy, wanting sound of her voice. I concentrated on the feel of her warm, soft, flawless skin beneath my fingertips. Opening my eyes, I took in the long elegant line of her neck and followed it down until I could see the swell of pale, creamy breasts peaking out from the "U" of the black tank top she was wearing. My eyes roved lower to her flat stomach, and something clenched tight and hot inside of me as I my gaze consumed the hint of toned flesh I could make out where her top had ridden up slightly.
I was breathless.
"This," I choked out, sounding dazed and awed. "You," I added recognizing the truth of my words as they fell from my lips.
Oh god, I thought, fully comprehending the desire flooding through it. Oh god.
It was true. I wanted Ivy. I wanted this. I wanted her eyes focused on me in desire and hunger. I wanted her panting for me, focused on me like I was the only person on a dying world. I wanted those sharp, glistening teeth on me, and those soft, red lips sucking at me. I wanted her tongue on my scar, teasing pleasure from the very core of me. I wanted those heaving breasts in my hands. I wanted to feel her nipples pebbling between my fingers. I wanted to feel strong, cool hands on my thighs, parting them with a strength and gentleness that could only come from Ivy. I wanted that voice, that gray silken voice whispering needful and desperate in my ear. I wanted her inside of me. Teeth, fingers … everything, everything, I wanted everything.
I shuddered, my breath becoming faint as I stared at her.
Ivy swallowed and blinked, her arm twitching in my grasp as if she wanted to remove it – which she could have easily done – but instead of yanking it away she allowed me to hold onto it.
"Rachel," she breathed out, her pretty pink tongue peeking out to lick her lips before she shook her head minutely from side to side as she spoke. Longing and apprehension coated her tone. She was practically choking on her arousal. But along was that raw need was a sound of hope, and also fear. She wanted so badly, but was also so very scared.
It made me want to kiss her until my lips fell off.
"I want this," I practically panted, Ivy's obvious desire compounding mine. "I want you. I want this, with you."
My thumb stroked the underside of her wrist. Ivy's eyes closed and her body trembled. Her lips parted and her chest rose as she breathed in, scenting the air. A second later her head rolled back, and a soft purr emanated from her chest. She shuddered, and I knew that she could smell my desire, my want; my need for her.
"Are you sure, Rachel?" she asked. I could hear the strain in her voice. It was taking all of her control to reign in her desire enough to talk to me. She was holding on with all that she had to speak those words, and the fact that she tried; that she was still trying so hard to control herself – even in the face of my obvious desire – filled me with a feeling of tenderness so intense that my heart literally stopped beating for a moment. "You need to be sure. I won't be able to … if I kiss you, I'll never be able to stop."
"I'm sure, Ivy," I said, almost surprised to find that I really meant it. "I don't know now why I was ever confused."
I blinked and Ivy was in front of me, her hands gently cupping my face.
I closed my eyes and sighed, enjoying the tender touch.
"You were trying to provoke me," Ivy said, a touch of wonder in her voice as my eyes fluttered open at the sound of her voice. "All of that," she continued, her head elegantly tilting towards the kitchen, indicating the fight I had picked in there, "you were trying to … excite me."
I exhaled heavily, and nodded as much as I could with my face in her hands.
"Why didn't you just tell me?" Ivy asked, the confusion in her voice not eclipsing the underlying happiness in her tone. "I could have hurt you," she whispered, her hands trembling slightly as the words passed through her lips.
"I didn't know," I breathed out. It was true. I'd had no idea when I started. I hadn't planned to provoke her. I wasn't scheming. But once the words had been put out there, I couldn't deny them. Provoking her was exactly what I had been trying to do. "I didn't know … until I did," I continued, my lips curving up in a small, dreamy smile. "And, you would never hurt me."
"Do you really believe that?"
Her hands remained gentle on my face, but I could feel her body tense. She had asked a question that she wasn't sure she wanted to hear the answer to, and she was scared once it was out in the open.
"Yes," I said, without hesitation.
Ivy froze. Her body was inhumanly still for seconds that seemed to stretch on for hours and then she released a shuddering breath. A shaky smile touched her lips.
"Ivy," I said, her small, shy smile warming me in a way that I didn't think a simple smile could.
"Yes, Rachel?" Her voice was open and light in a way I wasn't sure I had ever heard it before.
"I want to kiss you," I revealed, my tongue peaking out to lick my lips at the thought of hers.
"I want to kiss you too."
I couldn't say which one of us initiated the kiss, but once I felt the soft, wet, gentle press of Ivy's lips against my own I didn't care.
Ivy's lips were perfection. They were soft, and full, and incredibly sweet and once I got my first taste I never wanted to stop touching them.
She moaned softly, her hands falling from my face and down to my waist. Her arms snaked around me, hugging me and my hands traveled up her arms and the back of her neck until my fingers were tangled in her long, soft, black hair.
My scar tingled, sending pulses of pleasure through my being. Liquid heat pooled between my legs.
Ivy moaned and hugged me tighter.
Breathless and light-headed, I pulled back from Ivy. She rested her forehead against mine, and sighed, warm breath making me shiver in the loose circle of her arms.
We stood there for an indeterminate amount of time staring at each other. It was comforting and peaceful, and as she leaned against each other Ivy's lips began to curve up in increments until she was beaming at me. Her expression so unabashedly happy and I found that I couldn't do anything except lean forward and press my lips against hers once again.
"Rachel," she breathed out. All exasperation and anger was gone from her tone. There was only longing and desire in her voice then, and the sound of it set every single part of me on fire.
She didn't say it, but I knew what she was asking and there was only one answer that I could give.
"Yes," I said taking her hand, wanting it so badly myself that I almost couldn't speak. "Your room," I added as I led Ivy towards the door, unbelievably charmed by the way she allowed me to lead her by the hand.
"Why?" she asked in a daze, a silly, content smile on her lips.
"Your bed is bigger," I replied, turning around to face her.
She arched a perfect sculpted eyebrow at me and she smiled. The expression was exquisitely sexy, and I couldn't help myself from threading my hand behind her neck and tugging her towards me, my lips meeting hers in a searing kiss that left me thinking that her bedroom was too far away.
"I can make plans when I want to," I whispered, my lips still pressed against hers as I spoke.
Ivy stared at me for a moment, her eyes slowly widening in delight and then she laughed. The sound was light and airy, utterly enchanted. I found myself smiling back at her widely, thinking ridiculously sappy things like I wanted to make her laugh that way forever.
"You showed me," Ivy replied, her fingers moving to my face, caressing my cheek lightly. She was staring at me almost in awe, as if she had never seen me before.
"No," I replied, leaning into her touch. "Not yet. But I will," I promised. "I will."