I still don't own 'em...
(Twenty months later, Rachel's POV) Ravy warning!
I was having an okay, if a little boring and lonely, afternoon until a baby vampire named Rebecca Tamwood woke up.
Now, don't get me wrong. I loved Becky with all my heart, just like I would my own daughter. I don't think Al, Minias could resist her. She was cute enough to make a dead vampire cry, and as long as her mom was around, she behaved better than any child her age I'd ever met, but the more time I spent alone with her, the more convinced I was she didn't like me the way I adored her.
Why would you think so, you ask? I'm so lovable, right? Well, maybe because every time I picked her up, she started wailing like crazy. Every. Damn. Time. And since I babysat for Ivy a lot, like I was now, that could turn into a real nuisance. Fortunately, since God had some major sucking up to do to every vampire woman he ever subjected to a thirteen months long pregnancy, vampire babies were much like dead vamps; they pretty much slept the day away, which gave Ivy a nice window to run errands (that window, by the way, never stopped her from suckering me into running them for her, using her child whenever she didn't feel like it) and work. However, the runner business isn't exactly known for its steady hours, and I had to do a lot of unscheduled babysitting for her when she got held up kicking some scumbag's ass.
"It's official; I get you about as much as I get your mom, kiddo." I sighed at the crying bundle of ridiculous cuteness in my arm. I had said over a year ago that genetics said this baby would be the cutest thing ever, and boy, I never said anything truer. She looked a lot like Kist, but she had most of Ivy's best features, namely her eyes, and her coloring. Chocolate brown eyes that were undeniably Ivy's, black, black hair that curled into ringlets, just like Kisten's used to, and pale skin; she was stunning, and if her mother ever let her date when she grew up, which I was starting to doubt, Ivy being Ivy, she would break so many hearts.
Now, if only she could stop breaking mine...
"Why are you complaining? You can get her mom anytime you want, little witch." Soft lips brushed against the sensitive skin beneath my ear. Ivy's playful little grey whisper slid down my spine, making me shiver pleasantly instead of jumping out of my skin, like she probably intended when she snuck up on me. She might have succeeded if her daughter on my lap hadn't stopped crying the instant she smelled her mother close by. I let my head loll back over the headrest of the couch until it was parallel to it. Ivy hovered above me, her hair creating a shimmering tunnel that tickled my face. She lowered herself slowly, and our mouths met in a tender kiss. Becky giggled, all traces of crying gone from her cute baby face.
Surprised? Yep, Ivy and I finally got together. Who would've thought?
Once Jenks and I convinced her to keep her baby, and after two months of anxiety and second thoughts, she finally let go, believed and let herself be happy. Even though the circumstances under which she got pregnant were tragic, it was still one of the best things that happened to her, and it did wonders for her. She was finally able to do something good for herself, even according to her own values. She could also finally make peace with her mother, something that, of her own admittance, was a huge relief. They were talking again, catching up, doing mother/daughter stuff again. Mrs Tamwood actually turned out to be a nice grandmother, and seeing a dead vampire spoiling her grandchild was one of the most surprising things I'd ever seen. Maybe she didn't have a soul to love Becky with, but I found out that Ivy's mom still had a strong sense of family. Not as good as love, maybe, but it was enough.
Something else I quickly found out was that a smiling Ivy who didn't constantly guard her emotions and practically glowed with happiness attracted me like a moth to a flame, except for the part where I got burned. I didn't, not even with the constant regimen of hot vampire sex Ivy put me through in the past months. I might have been able to deny what I felt for her when she spent half her time tense enough to snap and the other hating herself, but all that changed over the months, as the smiles and laughter proved to be more than just passing and she finally got the peace she deserved.
Surprisingly little changed when Ivy and I started getting more intimate, only the awkwardness and tension that ruled supreme between us draining away, not the caring or the companionship. Her hunger for blood was suppressed by her pregnancy, taking away the most of the risk and the single most confusion-inducing aspect of our relationship. We had been together for over ten months when her hunger manifested again, but with a steady and satisfying romantic relationship already established between us, it was hardly a bother to integrate a blood balance in the mix. She hadn't gone to anyone else but me for blood since, and neither of us could be happier about it. I barely even bitched anymore when she spiked my coffee with brimstone.
"Missed you." Ivy sighed, delighted, after we broke away, leaving my lips pleasantly tingling. "Did she behave?" She asked, tossing her bag into another chair and extending her arms so I could hand Becky over.
"Thank God you're back." I said with a roll of the eyes, handing the baby girl over to someone she could stand. She was as calm and happy as a baby could be the instant Ivy took her in her arms and kissed her cheek. "She totally hates me." I stated glumly.
"No she does not. I've missed you, too, Angel." She cooed as Becky made a small, joyous baby sound, grasping for Ivy's long, silky hair. She was letting it grow again, its spiky gold tips gone, and I loved it. Nothing beat running my fingers through it while lying next to her after a long bout of lovemaking, when she was asleep and peaceful and so beautiful I could hardly breathe from looking at her.
Ivy turned her attention to me, sensing my glumness. "She does like you, you know." She smiled, and used her free hand to cup my cheek, having tucked Becky securely into the crook of her arm. I moved into her soft touch and I smiled back. God, happiness suited her so well.
"I know." I answered, deadpan serious. "I could always tell by the way she cries rivers whenever I hold her."
"She doesn't do that." She protested, and I gave her a knowing look. "All right, maybe she does, but only when I'm not around." She corrected. "Her sense of smell is just starting to develop. She adores you, but you smell too much like me now. She can't make sense of it, and it freaks her out. It'll pass."
"Yeah..." I pouted, staring at the floor. For all I knew, that could mean six months of feeling like a child molester every time I picked her up... "So, if we stop sleeping together, she stops crying every time I pick her up?"
"Oh, don't even think about it, witch." Ivy cut me off. "You're not moving out of my room, and that's final. You're both going to suck it up like big girls."
"Yesssss misssstressss" I hissed jokingly, earning myself a laugh from Ivy and a strange look from Becky. I swear, she looked too smart for a baby less than a year old. Heck, she looked too smart for a ten year old most of the time, her sharp eyes rarely missing anything.
"I promise she'll get over it before her second year, don't worry." Ivy said as she folded herself into the living room couch, pointing the stereo remote at her elaborate electronics display before dropping it on the coffee table in front of her. Soft, jazzy music rose from the speakers, and I slumped next to her, determined to let the peaceful moment draw out. Almost as soon as I did, Becky tried to crawl off her mother's lap and back onto mine, making an enormous grin spread my lips.
"See, she does like you." Ivy said, gazing tenderly upon the two of us after helping her daughter cross over to me. The baby vamp seemed to be fascinated by the way my frizzy hair kept bouncing when she tugged it, a sight to melt even the coldest of hearts. "What's not to like?" Ivy asked to no one in particular as she moulded herself against my side, slinking her arm around my shoulder and letting her fingers play over my collarbone and my neck. I brought my head to rest in the crook of her neck, enjoying the wonderful mixing of the vampire incenses of both mother and daughter.
Her satisfied, relaxed brand of pheromones wrapped around our happy little family, deepening the intense contentment I already felt. This was almost perfect, only Jenks missing from the picture, but now that Ivy and I had a sex life together, he avoided barging in unannounced. He and his wife were still going on strong, beating every odds thanks to a little bit of demon magic I'd twisted, the reality imbalance I'd added on my soul a minuscule price to pay for their new expanded lifespan. According to their demand, I made sure they wouldn't outlive any of their numerous offsprings, but that still gave them (and me) several more years. I wasn't looking forward to their death, but now that Ivy and I were together, it didn't make me sick with worry. I knew I wouldn't be alone to mourn and move on when the unavoidable happened.
We sat together in comfortable silence, whispering soft nothings to each other, the peaceful moment only broken when Ivy hissed menacingly at Rex when she tried to jump on the couch and get some attention, the orange cat having gotten herself on her bad side the day she scratched Rebecca. It had taken a lot to keep Ivy from gutting the poor animal on the spot, but I'd managed to stop her from doing so. After all, was it Rex's fault Becky had tried to bite her (without teeth, no less)? Not at all, but mommy vampy didn't care about such trivial things as, you know, justice, where her baby girl was concerned. It wasn't all bad, though. Rex now spent so much time freaked out that she actually started to like me. As it turns out, vamps can pull auras on animals too...
"Are you ever going to forgive the poor thing?" I chuckled, pushing the black-eyed, glaring vampire's face towards me before she leapt for the cat's throat. I wanted to stay close like this for a while longer before Becky started demanding breakfast, or the phone rang, demanding we go save the world again, or whatever else filled out our lives between happy moments like this one.
Becky started gesticulating in Ivy's direction. "Do we have time for one more kiss before she gets more vocal than this?" She answered with a smile in her voice just as Becky started crying.
I guess you won't forgive the cat anytime soon...
She'd behaved so far, but now, little miss vampire princess was hungry. Ivy rose, shedding her calf-length silk duster as she did, and, with a saucy smile at me, took off her shirt as well, showing off her gorgeous body.
"Ugh, I don't get it. It's been over six months and I still look huge." She said disgustedly, poking at her non-existent gut. As far as I could tell, and I had plenty of firsthand knowledge, her stomach was as tight and taut as ever, her neck slim and long, her arms smooth and just defined enough to hint at her strength. Her small breasts were fuller that before, but she sure wasn't any kind of huge. In fact, she was pretty much perfect in my book.
"Hmm, sure you do." I said, smirking appreciatively. "I mean, you have to be huge to fill those pants." I joked, gesturing towards her leather trousers. They were tight enough to have been painted on. I was pretty skinny, and I would've had a hard time fitting in them.
"Don't joke!" She protested sulkily. "I need to hit the gym more often."
"Ivy," I whined, "if you spend any more time at the gym, you might as well move out and into that place! If you're huge, then there isn't even a ghost of a chance for us mere mortals."
"You look fine. More than fine, you look good enough to eat." She said in a smoky voice that made me want to do things we just couldn't do in front of a baby. It was scary, in a complete turn on kind of way, what Ivy could do to me with just with that dark, silky voice of hers.
"All right, all right, breakfast's here." Ivy muttered, holding her daughter up to her milk-filled breasts. The little vamp immediately begun to suck hungrily on her mom's nipple, the warm, protein-filled fluid satiating her hunger one pull at a time, and I kept my eyes on them during the whole thing. Ivy literally became peace incarnate during those brief moments with her baby, her focus and her love so readily apparent it was inconceivable that she could ever have any doubts about her aptitude as a mother. She made my stomach tight with love, and a little envy. I'd learned about my demonic heritage a while ago, and I now knew that a child of my own was entirely out of the question. It wasn't a constant thorn in my side most of the time, but in moments like this, there was no denying it stung.
"Is something bothering you?" Ivy wondered softly. "Thinking about that demon blood in your vein again?"
"Don't fret it." I answered with a shake of my head, a smile that wasn't entirely faked playing on my lips. The woman knew me better than I knew myself sometimes. Ivy tapped the armrest next to her, gesturing for me to come closer, but I quietly refused, not wanting to interfere with her privileged time.
I stood up, leaving mother and daughter alone in the living room, and walked into our shared bedroom. It used to be Ivy's room, but I'd lived in it long enough to think of it as my own. The scent of my vampire lover was stronger in here than anywhere else in the church, wrapping around me comfortingly, and I settled on my side on the wonderfully scented bed, looking over Ivy's shrine, the place where she kept her collage of pictures and a few mementos, including the urn containing Kisten's ashes. The recent pictures had me, Jenks and Rebecca a lot in them, but also Mrs Tamwood, Mr Randall, Erica, Ceri, Keasley, David. We looked happy. Even more than looked, we were happy. I loved my life with them, and I considered taking a chance with Ivy one of my best decisions ever; anyone who thought otherwise deserved a kick somewhere sensitive.
But there was this bitter sweetness to it as well. Even if I loved Becky like my own daughter, and she loved me like a second mother, she would never truly be mine. I could never have a child to call my own, because to do so would mean stirring the embers of war into a roaring flame again. It was an aching, old wound in my heart, one that would never heal completely, no matter how many nights Ivy spent holding me tenderly or how many times Becky fell asleep in my arms, her absolute trust warming my soul to the core. It was shallow and silly, but the fact remained that she was Ivy's, and as much as I didn't want to think about a possible break-up with her, if things ever went south between us, she would be gone along with Ivy.
The bed barely shifted when Ivy climbed onto it, her arms coming around me to tug me into her, until she was spooned at my back.
"She's sleeping like a baby." Ivy said before I could ask about Becky. Vampires, even dead ones, have a great touch with babies; then again, when you have access to an arsenal of soothing chemicals, some might argue they were cheating.
"I hate seeing you like this, Rachel... You gave everyone around you a chance at happiness. It's not fair that you can't find it for yourself." She said, her grip tightening around my waist in helplessness.
"It's not your fault." I murmured, reaching behind me to stroke her hair, meaning every word. If it wasn't for her, it would've gone a lot worse when I learned of my demonic heritage. I leaned on her for support pretty hard during those bleak weeks, in desperate need of knowing she still loved me for who I was, not the potential destruction I could bring. And she came through like the perfect girlfriend she was.
"I'm lucky, and I know it." I added truthfully. "Don't doubt that."
"Is there anything I can do?"
"You're already doing plenty. You're making me happy."
"I don't feel like I'm doing enough for you most of the time."
"That's because you're a natural. It's too easy for you." I joked, but fell silent when a sliver of pleasure sliced through me. Her lips were on my shoulder, kissing me through the thin material of my shirt. I shifted on the bed until I was on my back, turning my head towards the vampire, unsurprised to have my gaze met by Ivy's concern-filled black eyes. She was playing on my scar, carefully, the offer for some TLC obvious. I gave her a small nod, and she moved to hover on top of me like some dark, merciful goddess.
"I love you." She whispered around a kiss, strands of her hair tickling me, her soft, plump lips making their way down my throat to the pulse on neck. Her sharp little canines made short work of my skin, slicing into me easily and starting to fill me with the cool, blissful fire of ecstasy as she started to pull on the wound. I went limp, letting the sensations take me over and my eyes flutter shut, trusting her to take care of me. It wasn't the safest way to enjoy her bite, but she had proven time and again that her control ran deep. I didn't have a shadow of doubt that she would pull away long before she hurt me, and probably long before I actually wanted her to as well.
She wouldn't take much, but she knew how to pace herself to let the moment draw out; each pull was a soft tug, taking only a small amount of blood from me. She only took enough to blur our auras around the edges and form a loose auratic bond, giving me access to her emotions. Her love washed over me like a tide of warmth, making tears of joy well up from my eyes. The ecstasy was a nice bonus, especially in the middle of sex, but that was it. This feeling, this purity of love was the real reason why I shared blood with Ivy.
I whimpered in protest when she started to pull away, gripping her more tightly in a futile attempt to keep her where she was. I wanted her to take a little more. My head was still perfectly clear; I knew the signs of blood loss, and that I still had a lot more to give, but Ivy never took enough for me to feel the effects of her attentions. She pulled her teeth out of my neck, careful not hurt me as she did, making me miss the icy sharpness in me almost instantly. The feeling of loss abated after only an instant, drowned out by the tenderness in Ivy's gaze.
"Better?" She asked, and I smiled, wiping the moisture from my eyes. No case of the blues could resist her.
"Yeah." I panted, pulling her closer. I wanted to snuggle, and Ivy obliged. "Thank you."
"You're welcome. Don't move," she demanded as I reached for a tissue, "I'll clean that up." Ivy dipped her head into the crook of my neck, her mouth finding the clean little bite mark she'd left, thoroughly licking it free of blood until it was little more than a sore spot, all thanks to the healing effects of her saliva.
"We have a great life, Ivy." I said after a long moment of comfortable silence. "It's not perfect, but it is great. We've got the world's greatest kid, and the best friends we could ask for, and we're helping people. I wouldn't give it up for anything. I love you too."
Speaking of helping people, the business phone rang. We glanced at each other, both of us smiling. Time to put the peace on hold, it seemed.
"Ten bucks they found the Justin girl. I'll get it. You change." Ivy rose from the bed, moving, vamp quick, to the kitchen, and very shortly afterwards, the ringing stopped. I got up myself, shrugging out of my jeans and walking to the drawer Ivy had cleared out for me. I pulled out my leather pants and slipped them on, adding a fresh shirt to the mix. My vamp made leather boots, an obscenely comfortable, and expensive, fresh new pair Ivy had bought me from Veronica's Crypt for our first anniversary, went on my feet, and, feeling ready to kick some ass, I strolled into the kitchen. Ivy was still on the phone, clearly speaking to her sister this time if her petulant voice was any indication.
"What do you mean, a raise? This isn't up for debate, Rica! ... Oh, don't try to blackmail me, if you don't want to watch over Rebecca tonight, it's fine by me, we can drop her off with Rachel's mom. I'm sure she'll be happy to do it... for free."
I snickered, loud enough that Erica made me out. Ivy shot me an amused look. My mom, like anyone with a soul, was madly in love with Ivy's little vampire princess. She would squeal with delight indeed if we asked her to babysit Becky while we were on our run. However, baby vamps were homebodies, even more so than their adult counterparts, and leaving Rebecca in a strange place without the reassurance of her mother could get difficult.
"Uh-uh. I knew you'd see reason. See you soon." She said snidely into the phone, and even from a few feet away, I heard the slam of Erica hanging up.
"That was kinda funny, but you could have been a little nicer." I said with little reproach as I made my way to the fridge and pulled out the carton of orange juice. I got a glass from the cupboard, filled it, and handed it to my black-haired vampire. She always took orange juice after she bit me, and the little attentive gesture made her smile. Hey, I knew her as well.
"She's trying to profiteer. I can't let her think she can get away with it, now can I?" She took a deep sip of juice, and gave me a little nod as thanks. "Sit down, I'll braid your hair." She said as she sat down on the corner of her antique table, spinning a chair in front of her. I settled myself in it, and Ivy buried her long fingers in my mass of red curls, efficiently straightening it out. Her work was simple compared to the elaborate braids Jenks and his kids often put together for me, but this would be a snag and drag run, not a social event, and Ivy could handle my hairdo for that just fine. Plus I got to have her play with my hair. Win-win.
"So, your guy found her?" I asked, already expecting the answer. She wouldn't need a babysitter if we weren't going on a run tonight.
"Yes. Another illegal bloodhouse, somewhere in the Hollows." Ivy answered, a dangerous tension underlining her voice. She was rough on vampires who preyed on the underage and the unwilling, and our tag, Kathleen Justin, was snagged on the way back home from her fifteenth birthday party a little over a week ago. She fell neatly into both categories, and that meant there would be hell to pay for anyone responsible. "She's still alive, and as far as he could tell, she wasn't turned."
"Good." A human turned vampire was trouble in this situation, not so much as an actual danger, but because her master would likely make her resist us. It would go a lot smoother if she walked out of the place with us, off her own free will.
"Rachel." Something about the way Ivy said my name made me freeze. "There's something I want to ask, and I don't want you to be nervous."
"Yes?" I answered nervously. Tough luck...
"First of all, before I ask, I need to tell you that I'm not sick, I'm not dying, and there's nothing indicating that may change anytime soon."
I swallowed softly. Reassurances that her first life wasn't coming to an end... It was obvious knew where she was going with this. We were together, there was little to nothing left standing between us. She wanted to know if I'd changed my mind about being her scion.
"Ivy, you promised you wouldn't ask me again." I pleaded. I didn't want to have to hurt her by refusing her again.
"What? Oh, uh, no, this isn't about... that." She muttered, my refusal to be her scion still a sore point in her, albeit not one she ever made me feel guilty about. "I'd like you to become Rebecca's legal guardian. Just in case something happens to me. I got the papers this morning."
My mouth had to be somewhere around my ankles. The trust that entailed, not to mention the responsibility she was asking to place on my shoulders... I finally managed to pull together enough of my scattered wits to answer. "I thought it was impossible for a non-vamp to adopt one." And if it wasn't it still had to be pretty rare. You would see plenty of witches raising humans and weres with baby warlocks, but vampires usually stuck to their own.
"It's rare, but I managed to get it done. All I need is for you to sign... if you want to, of course. You don't need to say yes now. Or at all." She amended nervously. "My mother would be more than happy to take her in if you don't want to, it's no..." I shut her up with a soft finger on her lips.
"I don't need to think about it, Ivy. It's a no brainer. Of course, I do." I whispered, pulling her lips to mine. I kissed her deeply, tasting both citrus and a hint of copper in her mouth. I let my tongue play with the sharp tip of her canines, enjoying both the erotic sharpness and the delirious little moan that escaped the vampire. I knew what made her tick.
"Starting something you don't have time to finish, Rachel? You tease." Her eyes glittered when we broke the kiss. "Now, do you want to sign?"
By the time Erica knocked on the door, far less sullen than I expected, I was officially, and happily, Rebecca Tamwood's legal guardian, and Ivy was more secure than ever in the knowledge that her daughter was safe. We were ready to go rescue our damsel in distress.
"Hello Rache." She said with a little wave, her friendly demeanour contrasting sharply with her somewhat intimidating appearance. Ivy's little sister enjoyed her goth getup, and where most people would pass for vamp wannabes dressing like her, she made it look like she was the one they were trying to emulate. "Is the big bad ugly around?"
"Becky's not that bad." I objected. "I think she just woke up. Ivy's changing her diapers."
"Dork," laughed Erica, "of course she's not that bad. V, on the other hand...
"So I'm the big bad ugly, uh?" Ivy barged in from the other side of the sanctuary, peeved, a sleepy Becky in her arms. "It's the big bad ugly who pays for your evening, my dear, ungrateful little sister. Mind that before you speak."
"All right, all right, I'm sorry, let it go." Erica surrendered, her arms raised in placation. "I was just trying to make a quick buck, it's not like I bit your cat or anything... I'm here now... What's so funny?" She asked me when a sardonic chuckle escaped me.
"Oh, nothing. I was just thinking that if you did, you'd probably get your raise."
"Uh. She scratched the baby?" Erica guessed, just as Rex dashed at full speed away from the kitchen, where Ivy had been headed just a minute ago, puffed to at least twice her size in fear. "She scratched the baby. Shall we?"
We made our way to the kitchen, where Ivy was putting the finishing touch to her daughter's change of diaper. She looked downright weird, doing it in her working leathers like that, and I couldn't help but smile. Attentive lover, kickass runner, great mom, she was all at once, and she was mine, just like I was hers; because we choose to belong to one another.
"Don't drool on the floor." Erica whispered mockingly in my ear, noticing me checking out Ivy. "She'll make you clean it up, the tyrant." She knew her big sister heard every word. Teasing was pretty much the name of the game for them.
"Or, I might make you clean it up." Ivy materialised in front of us in a fit of baby laughter, Becky finding her mother's vampire speed far less eerie than I did. She stared directly into her sister's eyes before she handed her precious baby over. "You know the drill?"
"Don't lose, drop, crush, set on fire, put into the microwave, put into the dryer, eat, drown, leave outside, give to strangers, let drive heavy machinery, etcetera, etcetera. I read the labels you slapped on her ass, V, I know what to do." She enumerated in a sarcastically dull monotone, unfazed by her sister's black eyed stare. She took Becky from Ivy, the little vampire totally at ease in her young aunt's arms. "I won't let anything happen to her. Cross my heart."
"All right, then. Let's get going." Ivy seemed satisfied, and we started walking back the way we just came in.
"Whu? Hey! Aren't you forgetting something? Like maybe, my money?!" Erica protested, but Ivy never turned around
"When I come back and this place is still in roughly the same shape, we'll talk."
"Meany!" The younger vamp shouted after us, making Ivy chuckle. "Your mom's a nutjob, kiddo. I don't envy you."
Ivy and I walked outside, side by side, my hand slipping inside of hers. I felt at peace with the world, doing what I loved with a woman I loved by my side. Maybe she is a nutjob, I thought as Ivy slid her lanky build into her Mercedes, the powerful engine roaring to life in the quiet fall air, but I wouldn't want her any other way. I smiled at Ivy, and she smiled right back.
Yeah, life was pretty damn good now, and I intended to keep it that way for a long time.