A.N.: Like most of the people who will read this, I read WWBC. I read that scene in the prison with Skimmer, and to be honest, I hated it. I felt like KH went wayyyy overboard to make Skimmer look like a complete monster, so I'm ignoring it. The Skimmer in this is my idea of what she might be like when "off screen" with Ivy.

So if Skimmer and Ivy feel OOC in this, just tell yourself that they're not really Skimmer and Ivy, but rather Rachel-ain't-around!Skimmer (A.K.A. non-poisonous!Skimmer) and happy!Ivy, different characters that, for the sake of length, I have named Skimmer and Ivy. I hope you enjoy!

Oh, and if I owned those characters, well... screw that, it's too late for me to come up with a joke. I don't own 'em. If that's not good enough, well it's probably not 2:00 am where you live.

A vampire lawyer walks into a bar, doesn't order anything, doesn't talk to anyone, just walks through, heads into her apartment, which is on top of a nightclub, the irony, and spends all of Saturday morning working into the wee hours. This has to be the suckiest joke ever written... oh, wait, it's not a joke, it's my life.

Such were the cheerful thoughts running through my mind as I exited my car and headed into Piscary's Pizza, my coat wrapped around me tightly against the fierce winter chill (well, fierce for this Californian vampire, anyway), my attaché case under the arm and slushy snow already clinging wetly to my boots even though I just pushed the door shut. The nightclub in front of me was packed with the vampire party crowd, a good deal of which were standing outside, freezing their asses off for a chance to get into the latest hot spot in Cincinnati's club scene. Only vampires; the rest of Inderland and humanity was not welcome.

And here I am, watching them, without a date. Pathetic... I thought, a little glumly. I'd been in Cinci almost two weeks, and I still hadn't seen Ivy, the girl who was the reason I agreed to move here in the first place, aside from our chance meeting at her parents' place. My offer to go out tonight had been refused, supposedly because she had to visit her partner in the hospital, then meet her parents for dinner, so all I had to look forward to after a long evening in the office was a long morning of more work.

Is this really what I left you for? The same work I love, but without any of the people I care about? I wondered, my thoughts turning to Nathalie, my old master and long time lover, as they often did when loneliness struck. I knew coming here that I would miss the millennia old, grey eyed, brunette, sexy and dreamy as hell (infatuated? Who, me?) vampire who had been my mentor most of my life and my lover all of my adult life. It didn't help that the blood I took from her before I left was all but burned through by now and that my joints were starting to ache, one of the first signs of bloodlust.

Maybe I should grab that waitress on the way up... Sandy, her name was. Light brown hair, grey eyes, pale skin and cute as a bug, and just about the only member of Kisten's staff who was genuinely friendly to me, or at least the only one that piqued my interest. Liking girls and girls only made me an anomaly amongst vampire-kind, since most of us tried both teams, and never firmly settled for one or the other. Still, I wouldn't grab her off the floor and drag her to my bedroom. She was already catching hell from Kisten for waving at me when I left for work in the afternoon, so I doubted baring her neck to me would be any good for her. A moment of pleasure with me was not worth losing her job over. So, lonely night for me, busy night for her. A shame, really.

I looked out of place, slipping into the building's service entrance, with my winter coat draped over my arm, dressed in a grey woman's suit and a subdued skirt, dodging busy cooks and tired waiters as I made my way to the stairwell leading to my apartment, situated above the restaurant/bar/nightclub. You would think that living over a dance club would be bothering, especially for a vampire with sharper hearing, but the soundproofing was state of the art, and it took an undead's senses to even notice the noises coming from downstairs.

I didn't need them to notice something was wrong with my apartment, however.

I closed the door behind me, sealing the noise and the pheromones out, locked it, and turned warily. The lights were on, dimly, even though I distinctly remembered closing them as I left earlier. A foreign scent hung in the air, far from unpleasant, of fire and melted wax, as well as a more floral element. Scented candles?

There were a few that I could see, on the kitchen counter, the dining table, and, most importantly, on the coffee table in the living room, next to a pair of glasses filled with dark red wine and a plate of mixed nuts.

What's going on here...? I thought, just in time to feel a pair of slim, strong arms wrap around my waist and a soft mouth find the sensitive spot just below the ear vampires used to show affection. I gasped in surprise, dropping my coat and case on the floor; I'd never even heard or smelled whoever was in here with me, but the panicked inhalation filled me with a potent mix of my scent and another's that turned it into a passionate moan and my fear into longing. I knew that scent well, and it filled me with happiness, sunshine, laughter... and an irrepressible urge to do things you couldn't show on public television.

Ivy... I smiled broadly as I turned around to face the raven-haired woman who had snuck up on me. She looked quite good, vibrantly smiling right back at me, her deep, almond-shaped brown eyes sparkling and her enjoyment at surprising me obvious. She was barefoot, which still made her stand more than half a head over me in my heeled boots, wearing a white cotton robe that revealed a tantalizing amount of the pure, creamy perfection of her skin. It was mine, the robe, I mean, and whereas on me, it looked decent, on the taller woman, it was... short (okay, more like drool-inducing), barely covering a third of her thighs. Her long and smooth limbs were all showed off very nicely, as well as a deep "v" of snowy cleavage, and combined with our scents mixing, it made her look like sex on legs.

"Surprise." She purred, her hands on my hips tugging me closer. I slinked my arms around her neck, rose on my tip-toes and guided her face towards mine, my eyes fluttering close as our lips met in a perfect kiss that had me melting where I stood. I tangled my fingers in her waist-length, severely straight hair, marvelling at its thick lusciousness, and pressed into her harder. I almost giggled against her mouth when she groaned in frustration, her fingers unable to bury in my blond hair in kind, as it was still done in an impeccable bun. She took my amusement in stride, slipping her tongue past my lips so she could tease my fangs, the pressure on the sensitive teeth making my knees watery and my head swim with the need for blood.

"A very nice surprise indeed." I panted in response, delighted and breathless, once we parted, licking the taste of citrus and vampire lingering on my lips. "I thought you couldn't go out tonight?" I asked with mild, playful reproach, shedding my suit jacket and loosening the first few buttons of my blouse. I kicked off my booths, and stretched my small frame, a soft, satisfied moan escaping me.

"Oh, I don't plan to go out." Ivy's batted her eyelashes at me in mock innocence, then smiled wolfishly, her hunger raw, her eyes already starting to dilate. She wanted me badly, and that knowledge tied a knot in my stomach that only her fingers and mouth on me could undo. "We'd both be arrested for public indecency before we even made it to the car."

She gestured for me to sit down, and I walked slowly to her, swaying my hips just a little suggestively as I did. Slowly, almost lasciviously, I undid my hairdo, making sure to flash the whole length of my neck while I shook my hair loose. I remembered too late that she wasn't practicing, and might not appreciate my usual blood foreplay, but one quick look at her changed my mind, and made me dampen my underwear just a tiny little bit. It looked like she had no trouble substituting the need for blood with the need for sex anymore. Goody goody...

"I like the sound of that." I purred throatily. "And here I was, all worried you weren't really happy I moved here." I sat on the couch, farther away from her than I would have liked to respect her space, taking the glass she was handing me and drinking a sip. The wine was warm, just the way I liked it, and delicious, the rich flavours almost sensuously coating my mouth; Ivy was never a cheap date, especially when she surprised me, and this expensive red was no exception. "This is good." I complimented her, letting my eyes rove over her so she knew I wasn't just talking about the wine. Folded on the couch like that, looking as confident and predatory as a lioness eying a gazelle, she was stunning. Simply stunning. That I was the gazelle only made it better.

"I'm glad you like it. And I am glad to see you, silly." She said, fondness surfacing amongst the depths of desire and lust in her eyes. "You had the worse timing, that's all. If I'd known you were coming, I would have been here before your luggage, but it was a pretty crazy couple of weeks."

"Crazy weeks. Yes, that's one way to put it..." I chuckled, the recent uproar of mixed press concerning Rachel Morgan and the Vampiric Charms runner service still fresh in my mind. Some praised her; most others would burn her at the stake without a second thought. "Taking down drug lords and getting demons to testify against master vamps... I'm sure that's not what you had in mind when you left the I.S., is it?"

"No, not really. It's more interesting though, a lot less paperwork. Plus, I get to make my own hours." Her eyes twinkled, and she pulled me squarely into herself, her arms snaking around me before I could blink. "I can take some time off to apologise for being a terrible, terrible girlfriend whenever I need to now..." I was surprised, pleasantly so, that she would seek out such a complete physical contact with me... with our clothes on, at least.

The last time I'd seen her, she was an emotional wreck who had been going hungry for six months and couldn't stand to be touched in any way, except if it turned into full-blown sex. It had been years since that last visit, and back then, I'd been horrified by the harm she was doing herself; it seemed like the bloodless lifestyle wasn't hurting quite so much nowadays than it was back then, which made me quite happy for her. Still, I didn't want to push it, not because I was afraid she'd hurt me, (heck, I wanted her to, just so she would stop acting like something she wasn't) but rather because abstinence meant a lot to her. I didn't want her to break her blood fast for me... well I did, but that didn't mean I'd place her in a position where she would. I didn't agree with her choice, but I would respect it. I wasn't a good enough person to refuse, or even get her to ask twice, if she wanted to break it, however...

"Girlfriend?" I questioned innocently, but inside, I was singing she still loves me, she still loves me. "Even though it's been two years since we saw each other?"

"You know the answer to that. We had other people, but you're still my girlfriend as far as I'm concerned. I haven't been with many other women since last time." She confessed, a hint of a smitten blush on her cheeks.

"Not even the semi-famous Rachel Morgan? I mean, you do live with her..." I trailed off, not quite able to keep the jealousy from my voice entirely. I had faintly hoped we would live together, after all, but she lived in a church, of all places for a vampire to live, from which her partner and her ran their independent runner service.

"No. Not even her." She didn't sound convinced, too eager to say it. It intrigued me.

"Why? Is something wrong with her?" I asked in my courtroom voice, perfectly modulated, betraying nothing I didn't want her to believe I felt. "I mean, I thought she was kind of cute. Maybe it was that scar of hers talking, but I made a mental note to ask if you wanted to share." Ivy growled behind. It was brief, as she had half a brain and quickly realised I'd baited her, but I had my answer. "Huh. You actually like her." I stated glumly, staring into my suddenly very tempting wineglass. Tipsy sounded like a marvellous idea, and for a featherweight like me, it wouldn't take much to make this little revelation seem unimportant. Until I was, however, the warmth and firmness of her arms around me simply didn't feel quite as good, and I moved to sit away from her.

Ivy sighed deeply. "Why does it always have to be so pointless to lie to you?"

"Dunno. Maybe because I do it professionally?" I sighed in turn. I was acting stupid; it was foolish to think that she would just sit there waiting for me when we had just spent the last decade seeing each other once every year. Granted, when we did meet, it was soul-stealing, even that last time without a drop of blood shared between us, but vampires suck at long distance relationships. Ultimately, the need for company always won out.

"It's not a big deal." It's just that my inner romantic is crying. Honestly, I felt like a big fat hypocrite; she'd entered this relationship with me, years ago, knowing full well that I was head over heels about Nathalie, and still pretty much was to this day, but never gave me flak about it, but I got all glum because she had a crush on a witch she lived with? Yeah, that made a lot of sense. Not.

"Rachel and I aren't like that." Ivy tried to reassure me. "She's straight, for starters. She's dating Kisten, too." Was that a disapproving note I heard in her voice? "We're not like..."

Wait... did she says Kisten?

My sip of wine almost shot through my nose as I snorted in derisive laughter. "Sorry. Kisten Phelps? Am I the only woman in Cincinnati who hasn't jumped his bones at this point?" Rachel Morgan was officially free-falling through my respect scale; being straight is one thing, but Kisten? Did she leave her self-esteem in her other pants? Or maybe her discarded ones? Sure, he was pretty, I suppose, but I couldn't fathom wanting a relationship with a dog like him. Surely if that's what turned Rachel on, Ivy couldn't see all that much in her, now could she?

"I never said they were sleeping together." Ivy objected tightly, her prissy air almost making me snicker again. Oh, she liked her alright. Vampire jealousy at its finest.

"Oh, please, are you telling me they aren't?" I kept going, knowing full well I was ranting by now, but being upset and being snide go hand in hand for me. "I mean, he's really the type to pursue deep and meaningful platonic relationships, isn't he? Especially with women. No offense to you, but I'm pretty sure you're the exception, not the rule. Has he given her a bracelet yet? What?" I asked innocently when Ivy growled at me again. "You know he will. I'll bet you my next pay check that he will. Just coming in tonight, I saw three girls downstairs with the damn things on!"

"Hey, I dated him!" She objected, defending him with a loyalty that I never really understood. "He's not that bad."

"Yes, you did, and I can't tell you how much I respect you for breaking up with him... and not wearing that anklet tonight."

A peeved, semi-tense silence settled between us. We sipped wine and tried to look at anything but each other, both of us too pig-headed to say we were sorry.

"She reminds me of you." Ivy admitted softly after a long moment of this.

My head shot up. I stole a quick glance her way from the corner of my eye and I found myself paying attention.

"Rachel and you... You have the same eyes." It wasn't an apology, not really, but for someone as proud as Ivy, it was a good as. "They don't look the same, but they have the same twinkle in them. She makes me laugh like you used to. She's easy-going like you, and she turns serious just like you when the going gets rough." She touched my knee comfortingly. "She's not interested in me, but I'm here because I want to, not because I can't touch her."

I let her compliment sink in, and reached for a handful of nuts on the coffee table before gesturing for her to scoot over and make a spot for me.

"I just got suckered, didn't I?" I asked lightly as I settled myself against her again.

"Think of it as soothing your ire." I shot her a sideways glance, and she winked at me, as if to say "you bet you got suckered". "Can we stop talking about Kisten and Rachel now? Please?"

"Of course." I shrugged, smirking. "Not talking about Kisten is one of my favourite things to do."

"Skimmer..."

"Rachel, I'm not sure, though. She seems nice enough, but –Ow!" I yelped. Ivy's teeth had clamped on the lobe of my ear, too hard to be playful, but not enough to break my skin. I felt a little sorry for that... "Okay, okay, I'm just saying that if he's really what they're supposed to want, then straight girls make no sense to me."

"I think you're just jealous he gets to sleep with more women than you do."

"Har har. I don't need to sleep with more women, Ivy. I'll take quality over quantity any day."

Ivy chuckled softly, and sucked the earlobe she just bit into her mouth. I moved into her, lazily and cat-like, all but purring at her attention.

"My god, that was almost sweet. Who are you, and what have you done with Skimmer? Do you really have to give her back, or can I keep you instead?"

"Hey! That wasn't very nice."

"Yes, because you've been the model of "nice", weren't you?"

"He's your ex, Ivy. The only good thing about exes is that you can make fun of them and not feel bad. I'm sure he and Rachel are making fun of us right now."

"I guess you have a point." Ivy conceded. "He does like his teasing."

"Of course I'm right."

"Remind me why I like you again?" Ivy asked, deadpan.

"It totally beats me."

I slipped a single almond past my lips and crunched it slowly, amused by the way Ivy's grip tightened around me. It was a turn-on for her to hear me, and it got my saliva flowing. She wouldn't bite me, the adorable fool, but maybe she would let me bite her.

"You're driving me nuts." She breathed tightly in my ear, and I huffed, even as she placed her teeth on the sensitive flesh and bit down, very gently this time.

"I'm driving you nuts?" I rambled. "You're the one breathing down my neck while wearing my robe and sitting on my couch, you big baby." Ivy's chest vibrated against my back, her laughter muffled by my shoulder she was busy nipping through my shirt, her fingers tracing the inside of my thighs, gentle even though she couldn't keep them from crooking into claws as they neared the damp heat nestled between my legs. We wouldn't be able to keep building the anticipation for much longer.

"Guilty as charged. Should I rip off your clothes now, or can you wait a little more?" Her voice was almost casual, but there was a subtle tension creeping in it that betrayed how close she was to bursting. My skirt was hiked up around my waist now, and there was a whisper of touch on my panties.

My reply came in the form of a cashew. Her fingers twitched at the crunching sound, and caressed me earnestly. A soft puff of breath escaped one of us, and the unavoidable happened.

She was the one who broke first, her desire rising, thick and intoxicating, bursting from her every pore like an aphrodisiac cloud, making what little blue was left in my eyes drain away and my own arousal fill the air. For a heartbeat of perfection, we revelled in our mutual, irrepressible want for each other, nothing else existing but the promise of passion, pleasure and love to come. It was breathtaking, but perfection is never meant to last.

We couldn't hold ourselves in check any longer, and it was Ivy that moved first. She slipped from under me and pushed me in a sitting position, her smooth thighs settling on either side of my legs as she straddled me, her hands grasping mine and placing them on her trim waist while her lips darted to mine.

"I have a surprise for you." She leaned into me and kissed me, harder, sloppier than before, her mouth hungrily devouring mine. "Two surprises, actually." She glanced down at my slightly trembling hands, still resting on her waist, and I followed her gaze, hooking a finger into the cloth sash holding the garment closed. She nodded in approval, and I undid it slowly, trying not to look like a five year old on Christmas morning, even though that's pretty much how I felt as I parted the robe, intentionally letting my fingers run over the curve of her breasts and down her arms, making her skin break into gooseflesh. The garment and my jaw hit the floor at roughly the same time.

"It's... nice." I swallowed softly, my eyes wide. "Sheer" was one way to put the peek-a-boo lace her blood-red lingerie was made of, matching the ruby piercing in her belly button. "Criminally sexy" would be another, less euphemistic one. Me? I couldn't think of any complicated words to describe the lacy bra and thong she was wearing, especially not while she was wearing them. Good God, I'd forgotten just how gorgeous Ivy was, and it felt like a deadly sin.

"Nice? That's all you have to say? I picked it in red just for you." Ivy pouted mockingly, then laughed outright at my sheepish look, my lack of eloquence and hint of guilt amusing her. She entangled her fingers in my loose hair and gently directed me towards her chest, sighing in pleasure when my lips met her pristine flesh. My hands slipped behind her back to hold her; maybe my fried brain couldn't find words to express my appreciation right this second, but I could show it in other ways, like tasting and worshipping every inch of her bare skin, and she melted like dark chocolate in my mouth as I did. "That's better." She moaned appreciatively when my fingers found the hem of her thong and slid past it to massage her firm, glorious ass.

"And what's my other surprise?" I breathed against her warm skin, the scent of her sweat and her hair filling me, citrus and vampire mixing in a way my lust-clouded brain could only interpret as Ivy.

"You want it now?" Ivy asked, and I nodded. She shook her head and buried her face in my hair, just long enough to whisper fondly, "Such a greedy little thing..."

The pit of my stomach dropped when her hands gently massaging my scalp balled into fists around handfuls of my hair and she pulled me away, forcing me to arch so my head rested on the couch, facing the ceiling and held immobile by her rough grip. I cried out in surprise, but didn't protest or struggle, content to wait for now, puzzled and turned on by the sudden assertion of her domination. Ivy started unbuttoning my blouse deftly, with the one hand she didn't need to hold me, and slid it down one of my arms.

"Are you ready?" She licked her way up the column of my throat, my chin, stopped at my mouth for a brief kiss, and then she was looming over me, every inch of her pressed against me, her pupil black eyes fixed on mine. Her lips parted and, slow and suggestive, her tongue ran over her pearly white teeth, lingering almost erotically on the sharpness of her fangs, the saliva coating them catching the light and making them glint. My eyes widened and flew to hers in time to see her slowly unchain the hunger in them, the eye contact as intimate and arousing as a one-on-one strip-tease. All of a sudden, I couldn't get nearly enough air, the aching desire swelling until it was too much to breathe around. An almost embarrassing wetness was spreading unnaturally quickly through my underwear, just at the thought that she might truly be...

"Please tell me you're not teasing. Please, it's too cruel if you are." I panted as her lips started worrying my throat once more, finding sensitive scars to play with, bringing them alive again to add to the unreal tension coursing through my body. She pressed herself languorously against me, sliding up and down the length of me, the friction over my erect nipples making me whimper.

"Hmm?" Ivy smiled wickedly, her fangs flashing. "Now, what could you possibly be talking about...?"

"Please!" I sobbed. She actually had me sobbing with desire.

"What?" Ivy demanded, her mouth lowering until she was less than an inch away from my throat, her breath creating a warm spot just over my racing pulse, the current of heat excruciating. "Please... what?"

"Please tell me you really are practicing again. Please, please, please."

Ivy paused dramatically, then said lightly, "Hmm, alright, yes, I am practicing again. Why do you ask? Could you... could it be that you want me to bite you?" She was mocking me. Mocking me while she killed me. How like her...

You're just too cruel... "Yes." I barely managed to breathe out.

"Beg. Beg me if you want it."

By the time she made that demand, I was little more than a puddle of need dripping on the floor, who's only thoughts were that she would explode if she wasn't bitten NOW, and also that dignity was truly overrated. So I did. I begged, I pleaded, I cajoled, I uttered primal sounds of desire more ancient than vampires and demons, until finally, after too many lifetimes to count, she pressed her teeth firmly to my pulse, the sharp tips of her canines digging into my skin. The pressure increased, tantalising, up until to the point where she would break the skin if she just pressed a little, just a tiny bit harder...

And she pulled back, and let go of my hair, and stepped out of my reach where I couldn't murder her, smirking from ear to ear.

"I. Hate. You." I slumped onto the couch, the sexual frustration crushing me like a ton of sexy bricks.

"Aw, I doubt you really mean that." She chuckled, leaning in so she could scoop up my limp body. I swatted at her, not quite playfully, but she easily avoided me and gathered me into her arms, lifting me off the couch like I weighed nothing. Sure, I could do the same to her, but if I hadn't been so busy hanging on to my anger at her (damn you, lacy über-sexy lingerie! My revenge will be terrible!), I would have enjoyed her carrying me this way.

"Well, I do!" I muttered as she pushed the door leading to my bedroom and settled me on the thick white coverlet. She had finished removing my shirt on the way, and her fingers were busy removing my skirt when she answered.

"By all means, keep doing so then. You're just too cute when you're all grumpy." My belt landed behind her with a thump, promptly followed by my skirt. I didn't help her undress me; if she wanted me naked, she could damn well work for it after that stunt, but I soon was left in my stocking, panties and bra anyway, and Ivy looked quite happy with that. Unsatisfied, but happy.

"Then I should smile brightly and laugh in your face." I shot back snidely.

"Even better." She mouthed off, grinning. I made a wordless sound of pure frustration; she kept racking up points tonight.

She climbed onto the bed to hover on top of me, strands of her hair tickling the whole length of me, her face set in adorable mischievousness, looking very intent on changing that to simply happy. "I will bite you, no worries. But I have a few wicked things I want to do to you first." She kissed and nipped her way to my chest, and unclasped my bra, tossing it dismissively over her shoulder. My breasts fit wonderfully in her hands and my nipples even better in her mouth. She laughed delightedly when she set off the tiny scars on the pebbly skin of my aureoles, muttering something involving "Nathalie" and "good tastes" as her tongue and teeth teased them, something I couldn't hear over my panting breath and the rush of blood in my veins. My blood ran so close to the surface, so eager to be taken from my veins and into her that it pressed against my skin like a caged animal that wouldn't stay tamely in its cage.

With all of my clothes out of the way, Ivy brought her face inches away from the throb between my legs, kissing me lightly, just over the edge of the blond curls there, then all around the place I actually needed her mouth to be, a smile that said "I know what you want, and I'm going to give it to you better than you could ever dream" on her face (yes, she could be very expressive sometimes). I strained very hard to keep a straight face, and managed to hold on to it for the first few teasingly light laps of her tongue on my nether lips, but I couldn't help but gasp when her efforts became earnest, and arched into her mouth, biting my lower lip so I wouldn't cry out. My façade of grumpiness was quickly wearing thinner and thinner with each swirling of her tongue in me.

"Come on, can I get a smile, at least? I told you I'm sorry..." Ivy pouted, pulling her mouth away from my burning center, her fingers tracing my clit lightly not giving me any respite. "Please?" Her fingertips travelled down my swollen lips, shattering what was left of my sanity. "Pretty please?" She twisted her wrist and entered me in one rough, swift motion, and an ecstatic cry erupted from my mouth, promptly swallowed by her hungry one. I could taste the warm, salty musk of my desire on her invading tongue, and it made me drunk with the need for more.

I don't know if it was accidental or not, but she cut herself on one of my fangs. I moved into the kiss forcefully, the hint of sweet coppery taste too divine for me to ignore, but Ivy shoved me down and growled a playful warning, the scent of blood and sex on her breath. I groaned in frustration and let my head fall back on the mattress, looking away from my tease of a partner whom, against all odds, finally started pleasuring me deftly.

Ivy clucked her tongue disapprovingly and breathed in my ear, "I want you to look at me", angling my face towards hers, the grey softness of her voice and the gentleness of the gesture a sharp contrast to her frenetic rhythm. She wasn't gentle; her fingers were hard and possessive inside of me, pumping in and out with a strength and swiftness that couldn't hide how skilful she was, but I was so ready for her that it hardly seemed to matter how roughly she took me.

I doubt it lasted more than a few minutes, not with her warming things up with her mouth beforehand, but they were thoroughly enjoyable, almost brutal, minutes, and the powerful climax she brought me to left me in spasms around her while stars and colors danced before my pitch black eyes.

"Are you sure you didn't have any more practice?" I panted giddily, the last, ebbing waves of pleasure making my body tingle from head to toes, which were just starting to uncurl. "Christ, I love you." I pulled her mouth from my stomach to mine and kissed her, tenderly and lovingly, wrapping my arms and legs around her and almost pushing her onto her back, but she pushed back and stayed on top. I was far too breathless to make it last as long as I wanted, but I needed those calmer, satisfied moments to balance out the roughness of our lovemaking.

Don't get me wrong, the way Ivy made love to me just seconds ago was exactly what I wanted, but that didn't mean I didn't enjoy softer displays of affection. We were both tigers in bed, but we could purr and cuddle as well as bite and claw.

"I take it you're not angry at me anymore?" Ivy almost giggled, her sparkling eyes inches from my face, and in spite of myself, a smile tugged at the corners of my mouth at seeing her this happy.

"Maybe a little," I mused, caressing her face, "but I'm sure you can convince me to forgive you."

"Oh, I'm just warming up." Ivy bragged, her air of sexual predator rising again. "You can have your second surprise now."

She gave it to me. At long last, she did, and it was perfect. The instant her teeth broke my skin, sinking as deep as they could go without causing me pain, I could have wept in the joy of release.

The ecstasy burned through my veins like wildfire, and it was made even deeper when she started moving inside of me again, the deeply erotic sensations her bite invoked reducing my recovery time to nothing. She was playing my body like a divinely skilled musician plays his instrument, and my pleasure was a melody only we could hear. Her harmonies were incredible, her rhythm, her speed, her depth, her strength, all alternated in a soul-stealing balance of pleasure and pain, tenderness and roughness... I lost track of how many times Ivy sent me spiralling over the edge only to help reach new heights and making me come undone all over again. Once, twice, thrice... it didn't matter. For every drop of blood I gave her, she was giving out so much more... I felt like we could keep on giving to each other forever.

But what I gave to her, I couldn't keep giving forever. It darkened my soul just to think about it, but the slowing of my heartbeat and the heavy languor in my limbs both told me that she would drink my last soon if I didn't stop her. I wasn't in serious danger yet, and since Ivy was drinking purely for both our pleasures by now, her hunger totally sated, I barely had to hint at pushing at her for her to stop. She gasped and arched like a drowning man surfacing after a long time, in the throes of the special brand of orgasm gorging on blood gave our kind, screaming soundlessly in bliss so primal as to be indescribable to those who couldn't experience bloodlust.

"That was... my God." She giggled again, collapsed on top of me. Pleasant tremors shook her body, which was otherwise relaxed, flush and almost unnaturally warm. "I forgot how sweet your blood is." Her head rose so she could look at me, the pure darkness of her eyes alive and tender. "I forgot how good it could be when it means something."

"You've only been feeding to take the edge off, haven't you?" I asked with a note of disapproval. I had hoped she would get over this habit of feeding on losers and people she didn't care about, something she picked up in high school before we got together. The act of feeding was as much about what you felt for your host as the amount of blood you took. A single deep pull from her would tide me over as well as a blood orgy with people I abhorred.

Her lowered head was all the answer I needed, telling me that indeed, she was.

"You're not feeding on vamp junkies, are you?" I asked, concerned and disapproving at once now.

"Of course not! I..." She hesitated. "They're vampires, all of them. I never bit a non-vamp."

"Just one-night stands then?" I sighed, depressed, when she nodded grudgingly. She could have anyone she wanted, and she wasted herself like this? That was just sad. "Ivy, it doesn't have to be the love of the ages with your partners, but you could at least pick people you respect. Make friends and offer the benefits. It shouldn't be difficult for you."

"I don't want to fight over my feeding habits tonight." She spoke, low and a little defensive. "Please? Can we just relax and enjoy ourselves? I... I really need to loosen up a little right now." It's hard for a grown woman who could make a grown man crap his pants with a single glance to look like a wet kitten, but she nailed me through the heart with that admission, even through the layers of emotional armour I laid upon it.

"Just tell me you'll think about making a real network to support yourself, all right?" I said soothingly. "You probably grow hungry pretty quickly now that you're a scion, don't you? You might need someone if I'm unavailable."

"Maybe later." She purred. "For now I have all I need. Get over here."

I sat up, licking my lips in anticipation, her thighs still settled on either side of me. Ivy's heart was pounding deafeningly inches from me, each pulse making the sweet nectar in her veins rush at a maddening pace right under her skin. Her slow, rhythmic breathing turned hard and panting as my tongue followed the hem of the lace of her bra, the taste of her skin becoming salty each time my tongue caught one of the beads of sweat breaking all over her. I tugged the lace delicately once with my teeth, and made my way up her body until I was muzzling her throat, my lips angled for a row of bumps of scar tissue that made Ivy moan and shudder in pleasure the instant I touched them. Her pleased reaction didn't change the horror I felt at feeling the scars, however...

Good God, just what has she been through?

They were faded through surgery, but I could still see in my mind, with painful clarity, how they were inflicted. I'd never felt anything like this; never seen such a single minded devotion to the infliction of gratuitous pain on another, such a corruption of what could, and should, be a beautiful sharing of two beings. What I thought at first sight was a trio of close scars was in fact a single, continuous rend, left where the biter had ripped at the pale flesh, savagely, like an animal, to the point where no amount of vampire saliva could ever take the pain away. It was such a messy, ugly scar, and it told a story of pain, degradation, horror...

Rape, I realised with a start. No one would ever submit willingly to such a blood encounter. And it killed me to feel them under my lips, marring, tainting Ivy like that, knowing that the bastard who hurt her was undoubtedly the one I was working to set free. No one else in this city would dare.

Ivy, sensing my anger and sorrow pulled me away from her neck so she could look at me. "Ivy..." I whimpered, her face blurring when tears welled up in my eyes. She silenced me with a soft finger on my lips, and carefully wiped away the moisture from my eyes. "What happened?" I asked, snatching her hand away from my face, more jerkily than I intended, but I already knew the answer. "He did this, didn't he?"

God, I was a fool to not have seen it. She told me, time and again over the years, that she didn't want to be Piscary's scion, and now, all of a sudden, she changed her mind? It seemed obvious now that she never wanted it, but that bastard simply forced himself upon her, as he always did. Odds are that she never wanted to break her blood fast either, but he contaminated her with his perverted hunger, making hers too much to take.

"Shh, lover. I know how you feel." She murmured, her fingertips trailing the row of careful scars Nat had given me over the years. "If Nathalie had done this to you, I don't know what I would have done. I think I would have flown all the way to L.A. and found a way to kill her."

"You should have told me." I shook my head angrily and pushed Ivy's hand away, refusing her comforting touch. "It isn't fair. It isn't bloody hell fair!" My frustrated cry broke through my gritted teeth and echoed loudly against the high ceiling. "I was so lucky and you..." I nimbly got out from under her and sat naked at the edge of the bed, hugging my shins, shivering and dizzy from confusion and blood loss. Ivy had drained me; everything she could safely take from me, and then some, was gone. I was in worse shape than I thought, but I refused to let it show. She didn't need guilt right now, not over doing something that was right and beautiful, even if we got carried away. That's all it was, and I wasn't really hurt, but Ivy would make a big deal out of it

"You're cold." Ivy stated, ignoring the elephant in the room, like always. I could feel her, warm at my back, incapable of showing her pain and rage because to do so meant losing control of everything she had built around her heart to keep herself sane. My hatred grew only worse; first, he stunted her emotions, then he gave her a load of pain so great she could never get rid of? Bastard.

My fists tightened in helplessness, until I could smell my own blood flowing freshly again. I was so angry that I barely felt my fingernails cut into my palm. It took an effort of will, but I managed to loosen my hands and glanced at the small bloody crescents on my broken skin, the sight of my blood reminding me of every time Nathalie had taken blood from me, never hurting, always careful, and always consenting. Obviously, she wasn't always gentle when she fed from me, and that was fine, but she always gave me more than she took; what was done to Ivy... nothing could ever make up for that.

"I'm fine." I lied. Ivy made a dubious sound. "My body's fine, Ivy."

"You're not. You're shaking." Her warm, soft hands ran over my arms and my shoulders, rubbing some warmth into my depleted body. I could only hug myself tighter and try not to scream. Caring. Sweet. Wonderful. And made to suffer forever. She deserved so much better than this.

"I knew you were his scion, but you should have told me he..." I caught myself before I said "rape", but I couldn't keep the reproach out of my voice. Whether that reproach was aimed at me or at her was a different story. "You should have told me he hurt you. I never would have agreed to come here. He should rot." I seethed. "No, he should burn in hell where he belongs, but I'll settle for letting him rot in jail for the next few centuries."

"I know." She agreed quietly. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you, but I dealt with it. It isn't that bad, most days." Carefully controlled, neutral voice... I knew her well enough to know she was probably lying.

"Like hell you did." I whispered, calling her out on her lie. "You never deal with pain, you just bury it and pretend it isn't there." A flame was starting to burn me from the depths of my soul, cold as steel on a winter night, all consuming as the sun. A need for bloody revenge, to cleanse what was done to my loved one in crimson. "I'll kill him. I swear to you, I'll kill him for this."

"You can't. You know you can't." Her voice was half soothing, half chiding, as if she were talking to an upset child, accompanied by soft lips on my shoulder and a warm embrace that stifled my shivers. "You're not strong enough. Not even the two of us would be enough."

"I don't need a gun to kill him. I don't need a stake, hell, I don't even need to raise a finger. I have the law, Ivy, and I can make it say whatever the hell I want." My eyes narrowed as the gears started spinning in my head. "I can get him sent to death row."

"No!" Ivy shouted, with real panic this time. "Even if you succeed, you know what will happen. You'll be shunned and thrown to the wolves. Dorothy, please listen to me." Her grip on me tightened. Her pheromones were thickening, and mental fingers were starting to thread through my mind, shaping my thoughts into what she wanted them to be. She was bespelling me, using Piscary's power to reinforce her own, and I started to panic even as a deep sense of bliss took root. If she were any other living vampire, I would only have to shake my head or pinch myself, and I would be able to think clearly again, but she was too strong now. I was trapped, and unless I did something, she would enthral me. I might very well be back in California when I woke up again; I wouldn't put it past Ivy to go that far to protect me.

"S-stop it!" I protested and tried to get away, but I was already partly under her control and couldn't bring all of my strength to bear. I might as well try to bend a steel beam, because Ivy wouldn't budge. My will was slowly being overtaken by hers, the potent pheromones she pumped in the air weakening it even further, until it was hard to just remember what she was trying to do, and why I was fighting something that felt this good.

Remember what I taught you. Nathalie's melodious voice echoed through my mind, breaking through my panic. It was a memory of her from years ago, of her walking me through the steps of resisting her bespelling, what she had deemed a helpful skill for her favourite lawyer to have. Empty your lungs as much as you can, and still your breathing. Focus on your own heartbeat. Create a blank slate in your mind. The only thing left in your head now is what I put there. Can you sense it? My influence on you? Don't try and pit your will against it. You will only entangle yourself deeper if you do. Create a new thought, even a simple idea, and anchor yourself with it. Rebuild a part of your reality around this one thought that is truly yours, and you will be freed.

Get away. Get away. I thought over and over again, rebuilding from memory the room that surrounded me, the feel of Ivy pressed against me. She was trying to instil a sense of calm and passiveness in me that my impulse to flee had to war with, but I managed to disentangle myself from her will. Putting every ounce of strength I had into the motion, I shoved Ivy off, sending her flying a few feet away, and planted my feet on the floor, remembering too late that a considerable amount of my blood was no longer in my veins but inside of her; the sudden effort made vertigo spin the room around, and the floor slip out from under me. I crashed, painfully, my breath whooshing out of me, and before I could even figure which way was up, Ivy had pounced on my back, pinning me to the floor.

Stupid, stupid, stupid... Flee? Nice going. Of course, that one had tripped her instincts. But you try to break a supposedly unbreakable mental grip, see if you have any more luck...

For half a heartbeat, the restriction of my movements was unbearable to the part of me controlled by my instincts. Every fibre of my being demanded that I move, and I tensed to struggle, but just as I reined the useless, dangerous impulse in, Ivy shouted.

"Skimmer, I'll kill you!" It wasn't a threat, it wasn't a warning. She was simply begging me not to move, her terror at what she would do rising cloyingly in the air. "I'm sorry." She panted. "I won't try to bespell you again, I promise, just... please, calm down."

What the hell...? How can she be warning me if she's losing it? I wondered, confused. If she was acting on reflexes and instinct, she shouldn't be able to form this kind of thoughts... I filed that away to ponder it later.

"I won't struggle anymore." I promised once Ivy's breathing calmed and the tension in her arms loosened a fraction. "Let go of me."

"I will." She croaked hoarsely. "But I want your word that you won't go through with it. Skimmer, honey, please, it's not worth it. I would rip Piscary apart myself for what he did to me, but if you do this..." She sniffled. I could feel her tears falling on my bare back. "What he did to me will look like heaven next to what awaits you. I won't allow it. I don't want you to get hurt." Her voice went from trembling to broken as she spoke, and my lingering anger was doused in her sobs.

"Ivy..." I began, but she cut me off, loud and wailing.

"Promise me!"

"I don't know what to do." I swallowed softly, the admittance of helplessness feeling as good as stabbing myself in the gut and twisting the knife. I had always walked through my life with a certainty of purpose, and now, for the first time, I saw no good options. Free Piscary, when all I wanted was to kill him slow and painful? Yeah, that would work. Arrange for him to be killed via legal means? I'd be kicked out of this camarilla, left masterless and at the (lack of) mercy of any undead who wanted my blood or my body. Turn tail and go home? That meant leaving Ivy here with that monster, and break off the truce between Nathalie and Piscary, possibly putting her in danger. "Should I stay? Should I go back to Nathalie? Tell me what to do, please!" I pleaded, but Ivy had no answer for me.

She finally pushed off me, pulling me up with her, and sat cross legged at the foot of the bed with me on her lap. We cried together for a while, just letting everything she'd buried in her shame and never faced come out. Sometimes, loving someone means staying silent and letting them cry on your shoulder, without judging them, and that's exactly what I did.

"I want you to stay." She murmured eventually, her voice quivering with emotion, after a long moment spent with her face buried in my hair, breathing in my scent. "Do what you have to, but I need you. I'll deal with him. I'll find a way to protect everyone from him, but please, don't leave me again. Seeing you again... it brought everything back. I haven't felt this good once in the past three years. I don't want to be alone again. I don't think I can anymore." She looked at me, her pupil black eyes red and puffy with emotion and vulnerability where mine had already constricted back to their normal blue.

Fragile and strong, vulnerable and indestructible... Ivy. I nodded in acceptance, my throat too tight for speech. Nathalie and I had all of undeath to be together; the choice was easy. Ivy desperately needed me here and now. I would stay.

We stayed like this, in silence, for a long time, her hand stroking my hair, her body wrapping me in what warmth it could spare to make up for my blood it took, mine providing her with the certainty she needed. I tried to relax, to pretend the revelation of her rape didn't change anything, but I couldn't. I couldn't just let go into the darkness that clawed at the edge of my consciousness, to sleep and recover, knowing that when I woke up, I'd see those ugly scars on Ivy's neck. I wanted to erase them; I truly wanted to reach into her and rip the pain from her heart, but that would take time. I could, however, erase those scars, or at least claim them as mine...

"Ivy... I'd like to do something for you. About this." I asked finally, pulling Ivy's hair out off the way to expose the long length of her neck. I traced the contours of the old wound with one finger, making my intention clear, and brought my lips to it once she nodded in agreement. I muzzled her affectionately, keeping my temper in check this time, until the dormant saliva in her was alive and she was warmed up and ready for me.

You're not doing this for blood. I had to remind myself as my fangs carefully broke her silky skin and warm, sweet blood flooded my mouth. As unbelievable as it could be to drink from Nathalie, undead blood couldn't match living blood in terms of flavour, and even amongst living vamps, Ivy's blood was particularly delicious. It made things even more difficult.

I had to bite her to help the scars fade, but only so I could get as much of my saliva in her as I could. Its healing properties would do the job. The problem with that plan was that vampires aren't meant to stay unfazed and immobile when blood pours into their mouth; every instinct I had screamed at me to pull on the wound and swallow the sweetness that poured out, but I couldn't abandon myself to them and sate my hunger. Doing so would draw a good deal of my saliva back into my mouth instead of letting it soak into the surrounding tissues. Unfortunately, it wasn't as easy as simply not moving and letting my saliva in her. The scar was too wide for that; I had to pull out of her and bite her again an inch away so the marks would overlay the tear Piscary left in her neck, and it felt like I was ripping myself apart every time I did.

Every fibre of muscle in me screamed in agony with the tremendous effort required, punishing me for trying to deny what I was, what I needed when it was within such easy reach, but I wouldn't give up. I plunged my teeth in her again and again, always struggling against the increasingly savage need that twisted my guts and sliced my brain to white hot pieces, but still I refused. This pain was nothing. I had chosen this pain, whereas Ivy had it forced on her, and the thought of her was enough to keep me going. I was better than Piscary, and she was too; we could do this together.

Do you feel this, you bastard? That's me, taking your claim off her. Bet it's killing you, uh? I goaded in my head, wishing he could hear me. He was probably watching us through the bond he shared with Ivy. I hoped he was, even though I might die of embarrassment were I more than semi-conscious, and that he was popping a vein in anger.

Finally, I reached the other edge of Ivy's scar. I let my saliva soak in as I had done several times already, my entire sweat-drenched body too weak to hold itself upright on its own by then. Ivy had to clutch me to her chest until I pulled my teeth out one last time, my tears of exhaustion mixing with the blood that dripped from her neck. Stubbornly, I kept licking the rapidly healing wounds, adding a little more to them, just in case, but it was unnecessary. Her skin was knitting itself back together, unblemished this time, well enough on its own, and I sagged against her shoulder, exhaling slowly. I was bone tired, my stomach was growling, my entire body was wracked with breath-stealing cramps, and I couldn't help but smile. I had never felt such a sense of achievement in my life. Maybe this was what Ivy had gotten got from those years without practicing...

"Are you okay?" Ivy asked quietly, her hands cradling my face the only thing that held it upright. Ivy pushed a damp tendril of hair away from my face, and kissed me very gently. I was trembling so badly that she almost missed, but I managed to hold my body steady for a moment. "Thank you." She whispered, her voice raw with emotion. "I... thank you for this."

"Just tuck me in and I'll consider us even. That bed is awfully high." I croaked with dark humour. For the moment, I didn't want anything but sleep for a long while with her spooned behind me.

"No." She answered.

Before I could ask "no what?", she had me, once again, scooped up and carried me away, into the bathroom this time. The light seemed awfully bright to my fully dilated eyes, shining around the white tile, shiny porcelain and stainless steel. Ivy carefully settled me into the enormous bathtub in the corner, kissed my forehead and whispered "I'll be right back" before stepping out faster than I thought possible. She was back in a flash, carrying a large black duffel bag that she dropped on the floor.

"You packed an overnight bag..." I observed, the pinnacle of sharpness and wit, my voice even more ragged than I thought it would be, but I was happy even if it hurt to speak. She had meant to spend the week-end, not just the night, and it warmed me.

"Yes." She answered. "It's a good thing I did, too. It looks like I get to play nurse for the next few days." She didn't look all that unhappy about it, to be honest.

She didn't have to rummage through it to find what she was looking for; it was neatly organised, containing clean clothes, a vial of grey powder, a clear plastic container filled with what looked like cakes, and that I recognised as brimstone-laced cookies, a pouch of scented bubble bath that was even more potent than the brimstone... everything she needed to spend the week-end with me was in there.

My wonderful obsessive planner. Don't ever change. I sighed fondly as she fiddled with the water flow, adjusted the temperature to be just right, which meant really very hot, and poured a fair amount of that special herbal bubble bath in the water. The combination of ingredients in it made it the vampire equivalent of bane, the stuff weres chewed on to get high during their change and lessen their pain and reduce their recovery's length once they changed back. It felt almost sinful to lay in the scalding water while it went to work on me. The painful soreness in my limbs eased up, and I breathed in relief, letting myself doze off a little.

It was late, I was drained, so I had excuses not to see a very naked Ivy enter the water with me. Her raven-coloured hair was hastily pulled up from her neck, a few loose strands that still managed to look artful framing her face. Her eyes were totally brown, and totally devoid of hunger; I was injured now, a turn off for her already sated bloodlust, and an intense feeling of security and contentment filled me even as she closed in on me. It's in our instincts to feel compassion for the injured and protect them; even dead vamps felt it. We make great nannies, too, but don't spread it around. Vampires have a reputation to live up to, after all... but in any case, I knew I would be safe with her around.

"Promise me you won't let me get carried away like that again..." She asked, her hand on my neck where she sensed my pulse, her eyes darkening as she felt its sluggishness. "I know we both enjoyed it, but I don't want to hurt you again."

"You didn't hurt me... Fine." I submitted under her glare. "I will if you promise not to keep everything inside all the time." I shot back. "You said earlier that I'm your girlfriend. Promise you'll let me be your girlfriend from now on."

"Deal."

My hand rose to her neck, and I smiled at the feel of the raw but otherwise pristine skin left where I had bitten her. It worked perfectly. My hand fell from her and splashed into the water through a thick layer of bubbles that, sadly, blocked my view of Ivy's body.

We took the bath together, silently, letting our bodies speak. She helped me clean up more than I really needed, using scrubbing me as an excuse for touching me, as if she really needed one. Our time was filled with soft kisses and tender touches, hugs and caresses and long glances into each other's eyes. She massaged the tension in my body into submission, washed my hair, and by the time we drained the water and she wrapped me in my robe, the same one she wore to ambush me half a lifetime ago, I felt a little more alive. Unfortunately, so did my mostly empty stomach...

"Sorry." I winced at a particularly loud growling in my abdomen, my arms wrapping around it as if that would stifle it. I blushed, a little embarrassed by Ivy's knowing smirk.

"It's okay." She was still smirking innocently. "I think we skipped dinner. Go to bed and relax. I'll fix us right up."

"Dinner in bed, uh? Are you sure you can handle making sandwiches on your own?" I teased her, and winked when she leered at me so she knew that I loved having her take care of me and appreciated it.

"It's a surprise." She answered mysteriously.

"Another one? Aren't I the lucky girl..." I rose on my toes so I could kiss her right behind the ear. "I love you. Even if your surprise is a grilled ham and cheese sandwich." That got me a solid slap on the thigh, but we were laughing seconds later.

"I love you too."

We parted, and I stared at her ass as she made her way to the kitchen. She looked like a negative image of me; light hair and tanned skin for me, dark hair and pale skin for her, hell, even our attire played the same game, black, form fitting silk robe for her, white, fluffy cotton robe for me. I loved it, loved our contrasts, the way she completed me so wonderfully, and even though the price for staying with her disgusted me, I didn't feel like I made a mistake.

I slid into the blankets covering my bed, enjoying the coolness of the sheets against my bare legs, and settled myself against the head board with a pillow at my back. This morning could have gone better, but the conclusion satisfied me, with the exception of one little detail; the fact that she had cried out, warning me not to move when she pounced on me. Benign at first sight, it still bothered me a great deal. She was supposed to be controlled by her instincts by then, but she still had the presence of mind to warn me? It didn't make sense. If she were that conscious, she would have remembered that I knew the rules. If anything, her cry might have made me panic and made everything worse.

Maybe she wasn't conscious at all. Maybe it was a reflex. But that suggested that she developed such a reflex, and the only explanation I could see for that was that she was constantly exposed to someone who didn't know the rules, who couldn't balance her out when her control was strained and needed to be told what to do... someone like a redheaded witch dumb enough to get herself broken without having a vampire to protect her.

They're not sharing blood, nor sleeping together, but Ivy *likes* her enough to protect her without any kind of payoff, either sexual or blood. It made sense. It might be that she had adapted that way for the damn witch, and if she had, it really bothered me. It was a minor change, but with Ivy's loathing of her vampire nature, it might be symptomatic of something more...

Something worse. Like, say, trying to fit what Rachel Morgan believed to be right instead of accepting what she is, and how right that is. If they weren't sharing blood or sleeping together, that could be a lot of change, change Ivy didn't need. It was enough to make me hate the pretty witch.

I was jostled from my thoughts by Ivy's entrance into the bedroom, a tray of food and one of drinks carefully balanced in her arms. The two plates she carried were filled with vegetables and generous pieces of chicken, the dish still sizzling from the pan, the spicy scent of curry coming off them making my mouth water. A carton of milk and a pair of glasses stood on the second tray, accompanied by a pair of brimstone cookies.

"There you go. Do you want a fork or are you okay with chopsticks?" She asked, settling a plate on one of those tray used for breakfast in bed that she produced from behind the headboard.

"I'll take the fork, thanks. I still don't have the hang of chopsticks. Mm, that looks great." I said, turning my attention to the food and bringing a mouthful of veggies and meat to my mouth. I chewed slowly, making appreciative sounds. "Tastes great too."

The vegetables were crunchy, cooked to perfection, the meat was tender and juicy and there was just the right amount of spice. We ate together in bed, making light conversation, like the reunited lovers we were. We had loads to catch up on, and by the time I finished the last crumbs of cookies, drained my milk and watched her put everything away, the sun was starting to peek over the horizon. In winter, it translated into an ungodly hour, but it was Saturday. Neither of us had to get up to go to work.

"I never returned the favour earlier." I offered a little guiltily as Ivy slipped beneath the covers. "I don't think we can get the same mood flowing, but I can make an effort if you'd like."

Ivy shook her head and inched closer to me, a hint of a smile on her lips. "It's okay. I'm still tingling all over from all the saliva you pumped into me." Her neck looked healed, barely even a hint of red was left. Even the perfectly clean bite mark she left on me looked worse.

Satisfied that the bites would tide her over for the moment, and after making a mental note to service her to the best of my abilities, I turned around so she could pull me into her. "Sweet dreams, Sweets." I said, my voice slurring a little with fatigue, once we were comfortably spooned together.

"You too, Skimmer."

I'm going to get you out, Piscary. I swore as darkness began to overrun my mind. You can have Kisten, or even that idiot witch who doesn't know what she's missing, I don't care, but Ivy's mine. She's my broken goddess, and if it's the last thing I do, I'm going to make her whole again. I'll kill you if you ever lay another finger on her.

With that final promise made, with Ivy at my back, I slowly drifted off to sleep. I'd do all that, just... tomorrow.