Disclaimer: I do not own these characters, they and the world they live in, belong to the wonderful Kim Harrison. I just need an outlet for my Ivy/Rachel frustration.

I'd definitely hit a new personal record regarding proportional pain and blood. It was almost unbelievable: the excruciating amount of agony sizzling through my body couldn't possibly be real without a single drop of blood to divulge its cause. I made small sounds through closed lips and clenched teeth as I ascended the steps to the church, my body protesting every movement. It felt as if someone had slit the back of my neck and pulled my spine out through the wound, effectively rendering me as strong as a slug, prior to twisting my every limb into an inhuman angle and throwing me off a bridge. Yeah. I basically felt worse than a pile of shit tonight.

My fingers curled around the knob, and I exhaled slowly. Not that these doors were exactly hard to open, however they took a Turn of a lot of girl power. I'd never really thought anything of it before this night, but I had the feeling that they'd kill practically every part of my body as I opened them.

Never before had I hated being so right.

I groaned as the doors pulled open, been made distinctly conscious of every single muscle in my aching figure—some I wasn't even aware I had. The most painful would definitely have to be my back, throbbing as I pulled the large church doors open and crying out in protest when I used both hands to close the doors one at a time, once inside. If the disturbing crack I heard when I arched my back and stretched my arms out was any indication, I was in for an interesting week of aching limbs and tender muscles. The bleeding, I told myself happily, was most likely internal. It officially became a joyous occasion as soon as I realized that chances were I'd be covered from head to toe in bruises by the time I woke up tomorrow. I took baby steps towards my room—even though it was only a bit passed ten o'clock—in a desperate attempt to bend my body the least possible. Any and every simple movement seemed to send a harsh pain skittering through my spine: definitely something worth avoiding.


I was half-way across the hallway leading to my room when the voice stopped me dead in my tracks. Oh God, Ivy was going to bitch about my state as if there was no tomorrow once she saw me. She had distinctly told me not to take this run, even enunciating each word of her phrases as if I was a child...or a senior citizen in need of a hearing aid. The simple fact that I'd come home battered and bruised would only give her further reason to give me the age-old nag: I told you so...

I didn't answer her call, instead ducking my head and walking faster toward the door to my room. Ivy Tamwood was most definitely the last person I wished to have judging my intelligence right now. Even though my steps were now quicker than the pathetically slow ones I'd been taking before, they were still pretty sluggish; my heart beat wildly in my chest as I frantically hoped the vampire wouldn't catch me before I reached my room—and my bed. Her smug-like, superior face was still etched within my mind ever since the last run she'd advised me not to go onto had turned wrong. You're going to get yourself killed one day, she had said. Consider yourself lucky I'm here to do something other than laugh at you when you come home hurt. Because that's the only damn thing you're ever getting from Jenks these days.

When compared to Jenks, almost anything and everything suddenly sounded like rainbows, puppies, and butterflies. Okay, so I was willing to admit that Ivy genuinely cared about my well-being. But it most definitely did not excuse her harassing over-protective behaviour. I was really starting to get tired of the vampire cornering me whenever I got back from a run, when I clearly stated that I was fine, to poke and prod at my body, checking for bite marks, wounds, or anything else she could use as an excuse to assert her motherly role upon me. As if trying to prove a point, my back emitted a sharp pain to the top of my spine, and I grumbled softly.

The door knob was in reaching distance, now, and I would have smiled if my face didn't feel like someone had dunked it in concrete and then let it dry. I was seriously ready to simply collapse onto my sheets and sleep until the next full moon arose; which wouldn't be before another couple of weeks. Just as my fingertips touched the knob, a hand clasped itself around my shoulder, entailing a harsh, sizzling agony shot through every one of my limbs. The Turn take it, I thought I'd made it!

She barely had time to say my name, that I'd painfully pressed my body away from her and into the door leading to peaceful salvation. I let out a loud yelp, and she immediately retracted her hand and held it within the other as if she'd been burned. Her voice sounded rough and lost. "Rachel! What's wrong?"

"God damn it, Ivy!" At that moment, I hadn't registered that the tone I was using would probably hurt her well-hidden, and yet very much present feelings. "I just want to go to bed! Can't I do that without you coming to check up on me!? I'm tired."

"…and hurt." Her small voice added. Immediately, her vampire instincts kicked into play, pushing every other voice in her mind to the sides of her cranium, to be forgotten until I was once again wholly healed. Da-a-a-a-amn. This was not what I needed right now. I wasn't quite certain what it was, exactly, but Ivy's vampire instincts warped her into a super-nurse every time I was in the slightest bit of pain. She leaned in close, a thick, healthy ring of brown surrounding her pupils. Good. At least there was that.

She tucked a wild strand of red behind my ear, bringing her fingers down and accidentally skimming the side of my neck. A heavy rush of power coursed from my unclaimed scar to the apex of my thighs, and I quickly scrambled away from her touch. Her delicate hands caught me with tenderness, eyes boring into my own. The pain in my body had become a dull numbness because of the flitting, innocent pheromones flying around us. She was losing it…

"Ivy," my voice held the authoritative tone I always used when the vampire begun spiralling out of self-restraint. "Let me go."

"For the love of blood, Rachel." Her hands released me slightly, but not enough for me to be able to squirm away. "I'm not out of control. You're hurt. Let me help you."

I could tell by the tone of her voice that she was slightly pained by the fact that I didn't trust her enough to be this close to me without having the false assumption that she wanted to slice my throat open cross my mind. The fact, however, that my heart was thrusting itself against my chest cavity in a seemingly desperate attempt to burst through my sternum was most definitely not helping the situation at all. I was suddenly very much aware of myself as a woman, Ivy's hands delicately restraining me from escape, a growing heat pooling between my legs. The pheromones were piercing my skin and effecting my rational inhibition; I didn't think I could hold myself erect much longer.

"Rachel…I'm sorry about all of this." The vampire's voice was almost a growl, low and rumbling. She motioned towards the air around us, indicating she was very much aware of the unintentional release of pheromones. "Just…please. Let me help you; I know exactly what needs to be done. Go wait in your room, give me a couple minutes of recollection, and I'll be with you in a few moments. 'Kay?"

I inhaled deeply, delving in the feeling of liberation solely pheromones could provide, before slowly exhaling and giving her an assertive nod. I just wished my tone would have matched my determined posture when I answered, "Mmkay."

My pulse was frantic, my voice breathy and barely audible. Ivy tensed, perhaps sensing the direction of my thoughts, but quickly shook off the feeling and released me. Each of her footsteps mirrored the thump, thump, thump of my heart as she turned on her heels and walked away. The vampire's hips sashayed provocatively as she disappeared into her room, leaving my dazed and confused. What was happening?

Before my mind had enough time to skim through the multiple possibilities of my sexual orientation being faulty, my hand fumbled behind my back to find the door knob. I found it, and swung the door open, nearly falling clumsily into my bedroom backwards as I did so. My mind was still swimming in Ivy's presence, the soothing caress of pheromones stroking my flesh, coaxing my hysterical heart into a calm rhythm. I sat down on my bed, kicking my vamp-made boots off sluggishly. My entire body still ached, though I was prepared to endure a last painful movement to finally bathe in the painless salvation my bed offered. With a grunt and a strong-willed mind, I flexed my abs and let my body slowly fall onto the covers.

I don't know how long I lay there, but I didn't exactly care. All that surrounded me was silken sheets beneath me, wrapping my body in their warmth. My mind began to wander, as it always did in peaceful moments such as these—I didn't have to support my own weight, and as long as I didn't move, the pain simply seemed like a fictional component of my imagination. But the moment I heard the distinctly familiar footsteps of my roommate and best friend, my mind ceased its irrational daydreams and was immediately snapped back into coherent mode.


Ivy's voice was soft, enough to have been the wind. My eyes fluttered open at the hushed yet harmonious sound, and I found myself staring directly into her chocolate eyes. I was surprised as well as relieved to see that she wasn't carrying that god-awful emergency kit she usually brought me when I was in pain. Within the dreaded kit, there was a tall white bottle, one I never sought out to identify, that would bu-u-u-u-urn every time it was applied to an open wound. It'll help the healing, the insane vampire would always say. The sting doesn't last very long…

But this time, she came to me empty handed, and I momentarily believed she might have lost the "tools" needed to ensure my painful healing. No such luck.

"Trust me, okay?" I couldn't exactly say it was the words she'd utilized, but more the way she said them; as if she feared I might reject her attempts to help me dissipate the pain. The first thought that flickered through my mind was obviously the notion of pheromones being released to numb the sensation before turning it into a mild pleasure. And I honestly have to say, I'd much rather live with the feelings of discomfort than a delusional ecstasy created by Ivy's raw nature.

"Ivy, I don't—"

"No vampire mumbo-jumbo," she assured before I could finish what I was saying. "I promise."

I didn't know what to say at this point, seeing as she'd removed every single thing I'd been anxious about. There were no sharp, jagged instruments, no god-awful liquid equivalent to acid she'd use to burningly heal my wounds, and no pheromones, no biting, nothing. What else was there? I couldn't exactly tell her I didn't want her near me because it threatened my self-control, now could I? Of course not, I was Rachel Morgan. My ego was muchtoo puffed up for something as small as this to bully its raison d'être.

"Okay," my voice was barely a whisper. "I trust you."

She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply through her nose. I had to admit it was strangely intriguing, the way her features calmed almost immediately as soon as I uttered those seemingly unimportant words. Of course, vampires lived for trust, and mine was especially expensive to Ivy, since she seemed to believe she had done too much recently to be allowed access to it once again. But I really did trust the vampire. With my life, my soul, if it ever came to it. And I knew she felt the same about me.

"—okay, Rachel?"

Her words snapped me back to reality, and I blinked a few times to focus my vision. She was eyeing me with a quizzical glint to her chocolate eyes, and blood rushed to my cheeks as I realized I'd been ogling her while she spoke to me. In a desperate attempt to compensate for the day dreaming portion of her phrase, I over-enthusiastically bobbed my head up and down, only to grunt painfully as my neck sent a jolt of sizzling agony down my spine. I brought my hand up to the originating location at the back of my neck, and gave her a pouting expression. She nodded in understanding before speaking again.

"Take your shirt off," her words almost made my heart stop, the way she uttered them making it seem as if it was something people asked other people every day. She took in my aghast expression, to which I assumed she'd proceed with an explanation, but simply continued with saying: "Oh, your…bra as well."

"Ivy!" I was a polite person, to a certain degree. I would generally disregard the suggestive comments and occasional quips the vampire would let slip during our time spent together, but she would always turn a bright red after saying things regarding us sleeping together or sharing a sexually explicit blood-bond. In addition, those accidental statements were never said when she had a serious face on, or when she was staring directly into my eyes, intent clear upon her visage. This time, I simply glared at her for such a direct statement. Was she insane?

"Oh, sorry." Just as I thought the next words to exit her lips would be apologetic, she surprised me with, "Did you want me to leave the room?"

"No. What? I m-mean…yes! I mean…uhh…" I sighed heavily at my stuttering while attempting to recollect my shattered mind fragments. "W-what?"

She arched an eyebrow and narrowed her eyes slightly, eyeing me as if I were drunk. "Well I can't very well do it with your clothes on, now can I?" She inhaled in annoyance and placed her hands on her hips, evidently missing the primary reason I was utterly dumbfounded. "Oh for God's sake, Rachel, I know what boobies look like. I have two of them."

She jiggled her breasts for emphasis, and I thought I very well might die then and there. Immediately, my gaze dropped to the generous mounds of flesh; remained glued upon the subtle, yet noticeable way two hard peaks were visible through the thin material of her shirt. The vampire emitted a low growl of warning, and I looked up, to find the chocolate of her pupils rapidly fading to be consumed by the increasing darkness.

"Don't do this, Rachel…" Even though her words were meant to be menacing, everything about them compelled me to lean in. Ivy's tone was breathy, restrained. Her lips were a bright, inviting red, and I began to see vague hints of goose bumps forming in the fleshy area of her cleavage. "We don't have the time and I don't have the patience for stupidities like that, right now. Alright?"

Her last word was enunciated with strict prominence. I nodded once, shakily, and she cocked her head to the side in question. "You weren't listening to me, were you?"

I shook my head.

"Okay…" she exhaled in exasperation, rolling her eyes. "The only damage done was to your muscles. There are no open wounds, and I can't exactly patch you up from the inside. I'm going to locate your major pressure points and ease the tension originating from the essential location situated around your back area."

"Huh." She was speaking high-class gibberish. At least I could pretend to understand…

"A massage," she drawled. "I'm skilled with my hands in other ways that you might perceive, Rachel."

My breath hitched audibly, and I clamped my lips shut. Her voice had dropped to a seductive tone, pure feminine cajolery. I admit I'd deserved the outright accusation. She wanted to let me know that she was well aware of what I believed her to be, and wasn't ashamed of stating it before me. Ivy Tamwood was not a vampire hussy. I gotcha.

I couldn't deny the way my heart's rhythm increased when she specified what she originally intended to perform as a way to relieve my pain. I wasn't exactly sure if it was the fact that she'd be touching and rubbing my body, or the fact that she'd be doing it without me wearing a top. Either way…it was definitely not a positive reaction to be having when one was totally and 100% heterosexual. I was well aware of the fact that Ivy was hunting me, I knew of her feelings for me. Was it really a good idea to let her do this? Especially when my mind kept kicking itself to think straight—pun intended.

"Come, now." Her voice once again changed its pitch. Delicate. Warming. Comfort itself. "You won't regret this, trust me."

There it was again. Trust.

I nodded once and took in a deep breath before pulling my top over my head and letting it fall in a nice little heap on the floor. My movements were slow, as I tried to make the less brusque actions possible to prevent any major pain break outs. Ivy would wince sympathetically every time a groan would escape my closed lips, letting me know she cared. My hands were shaking by the time I unclasped the back of my bra, resting it atop my shirt, and turning back to Ivy, with my arms shyly folded across my chest. A shudder rippled through me as her gaze roamed uncertainly over my body before locking with my eyes.

The blackness of her pupils was fighting for dominance, expanding slightly before being harshly thrown back into place by the control that lurked beneath Ivy's flesh. It was eerily intriguing, I had to admit. The lines of chocolate in her eyes were undulating with restraint, her vampire instincts being pushed into play by everything surrounding us. She was in my room, swimming in my scent, desire coming off of me in waves as she ogled my topless body, and fear slowly creeping its way into my incoherent thoughts.

"Umm…" She cleared her throat, blinking hard as if trying to focus. "Lie down on your stomach. On the…bed."

I did as I was told, bringing my forearms to rest beneath my cheek, elbows out, as I placed my head sideways so that I wouldn't have to face Ivy's stunning complexion. I didn't know how this was going to turn out…but I was definitely ready to get a move on. The sides of my bare breasts were exposed to the cool air coming in through the door, and goose bumps popped into existence everywhere along my naked back. Did I still want to go through with this? Of course. Was I scared shitless, despite anticipation? Hell yes.

I let out a small yelp as I first felt a warm hand trail softly down my spine. The contrast between her body temperature and mine was astounding, and I tried my best to stay against the sheets when all I wanted to do was wrap my arms around the vampire and greedily take in all the warmth she could provide.

"This might hurt in the beginning." Ivy's voice gave gentle a new meaning. "Your muscles are wire-tight right now, and it's going to take a while for me to knead them properly. Chances are they're going to protest my invasive movements, but it won't last very long. Do you understand?"

All I could emit was a breathy exhale as she continued to run her fingers up and down my back, in a seemingly unconscious movement. She wasn't applying any pressure, but the delicate strokes of her fingertips were enough to make my body tense—entailing the harsh pain in my limbs and neck. She retracted her hand as soon as she realized it was distracting me, but I had the distinct impression she suddenly became aware of her innocent movements and ceased them because she didn't want things to get out of hand for either of us.

She cleared her throat again, and I felt her second hand splay across the small of my back, creating a gentle pressure that I wouldn't have noticed had my muscles not bluntly disapproved of the action. "Now, Rachel, I'm going to need you to speak to me. Tell me if something hurts or feels good. Mmkay? This is our first session, and I'm not yet accustomed to your body or muscles, so this might be a little awkward in the beginning."

The way she spoke to me was so delicate, one would have thought she was trying to coax a wild animal out of a corner. My voice came our hoarser than I'd intended. "Okay."

"Okay," she repeated the conformation as a statement, perhaps because the way I'd said it may have sounded hesitant. Ivy's first hand came to gently place itself beside the second, and together, they trailed their way to the nape of my neck. I took the path as a request, and I slowly shifted my position so that my forehead rested upon my forearms, head tilted downwards to give her full access to the nape of my neck.

My teeth clenched and my lips thinned into a straight line, as she began circling the elevated vertebrae of my spine with the tip of her thumb—the rest of her fingers splayed dangerously close to the unclaimed scars that seemed to hate me. I don't know how she did it, but Ivy had somehow ignited my entire spine, reanimated it from the dulling sensation I had managed to acquire with the least possible movement. The appendages close to my scars had, at first, appeared to be a problem, but as time went on, I found that there were no pheromones flitting in the air. My Algaliarept/vampire scars—visible or not—were as harmless as any other blemishes upon my body. I'd expected this to be soothing, even after she'd stated that it might be slightly painful in the beginning, but now I had to bite the insides of my cheeks to refrain from emitting grunts of pain as her thumb continued to knead the sore muscles. The hand she wasn't using was resting gently on my ribs, its warming comfort an extreme contrast with the aching that throbbed in my neck.

"Ivy…" I whispered before regaining my voice, tempted to pull away from the hand rubbing around the elevated bone. "It hurts."

"That, I know, dear heart." She had somehow managed to straddle the back of my thighs without my noticing. "Shush, now. It won't be for much longer."

The nape of my neck was the originating location, it seemed. The one place that sent signals of pain to every single other location in my body. Probably due to the fact that that's where I'd been whacked with a fire extinguisher when the goddamn case suspect deemed it necessary to use violence—what ever happened to 'never hit a lady'? And with a freaking fire extinguisher, at that! Son of a bitch had managed to escape.

I was effectively pulled out of my roaming curses as Ivy tried a new technique upon the guinea pig. Otherwise known as me. I still had no idea how the vampire managed to create such intense reactions, but it almost felt as if I was on fire—scorching heat licking teasingly at my skin. It was most definitely enough to make me forget about the bastard. She would circle the vertebrae a few times, before pinching the bulge with her index and thumb, and knead the flesh until I thought I'd burst into flames right then and there.

I let out a mild whimper and Ivy caved in, moving to a much more pleasant location. Ivy's hands placed themselves symmetrically; both with four fingers splayed outwards on my upper back, each thumb deliciously massaging the meaty, tender muscle beneath a scapula. The tips of her fingers slightly dug into the skin, as her thumbs stroked with a pressure that was indescribable.

"This?" I could hear the smile in the vampire's tone.

"Mmm, you're—it's g-good."

Ivy let out a small chuckle, and her movements began to increase in load. Instead, now, of rubbing the muscle, she was pushing it into itself using a downward movement with her thumbs. I felt the ripples of my internal tissue undulate with protesting anxiety as Ivy flawlessly hit every single spot that caused me pain, somehow altering the sensation from painful to soothing.

My eyes were closed as she moved to another location. Thumbs working together to trace parallel lines alongside my spine, both on either side of the boned column, as fingers gently massaged any flesh they could touch. She moved from the middle of my back, up to the base of my neck, and began descending once again. I heard an audible hitch in my breathing as I realized she kept going lower, wa-a-ay passed 'friendship boundaries' restrictions. Okay, so perhaps I was exaggerating. Ivy was massaging the tender muscle just above the hem of my leather pants; basically the lowest point one would still be calling "back" and not "butt." As much as I didn't like her hand placement, I definitely had to say she hit the heavenly spot that sent my mind racing and made my body go utterly limp.

Once again, it was her thumbs creating the intensity of the pleasurable sensations, with her fingers splayed out to back up those feelings with mild pressure. I honestly didn't know how she did this, but I would be unquestionably prepared to give her insane amounts of the little money I had to have sessions like this every week. She ground the sides of her thumbs into the tender spot aside my spine, always symmetrically placed, always the same amount of pressure, and I moaned aloud. Okay, make that every day.

I could have sworn hear her mumble a soft "good" before laughing quietly to herself. She trailed her fingers up to my ribs, next, dangerously close to the sides of my breasts. I shifted my shoulders uncomfortably, and was utterly dumbfounded when she lowered her head to my back and placed a gentle kiss directly between my shoulder blades. Even more surprising, was the fact that my body actually relaxed after she had pressed her lips upon my chilled flesh. Each hand carefully traced a rib, both sides at the same time, moving from the spinal column until the rib hid against the sheets. Multiple times I was tempted to lift my body, just so that Ivy could complete the trajectory of the bone to my sternum…which unfortunately was located between my breasts. Couldn't exactly allow the female vampire to enter that territory, now could I?


I had absolutely no idea where the insulting voice came from, other than the fact that it had originated from the inside of my head. Perfect. I was going insane. In addition, my inner meanie was actually having an effect on me. But I pushed away any feelings of regret, denial, or guilt, allowing myself to bathe in the beautiful, basking warmth of Ivy's attention. The vampire was of a high-blood family line, wealthy, and stunningly gorgeous. Ivy could be out clubbing right now, she could be out on a date with some expensively attractive individual right now; she could essentially be out doing whatever she desired, right now. And yet here she was, hands moving professionally upon my bare back, in my room where it was hard for her to concentrate without vampire instinct trying to take control, and devoting all of her focus on me. Me.

Why? Perhaps because of the same reason she'd previously planted a kiss between my shoulder blades in aim to soothe me. It was egotistical of me, possibly even downright hypocritical, but I allowed the woman to continue massaging my invisible wounds despite the fact that I was well aware she wanted more. Oh, what Ivy Tamwood wouldn't give for me to turn around at this moment and face her directly before bringing my lips up to meet hers. It made me feel blameworthy. And yet all I did was lay here, delving in the raw affection the vampire provided. No pheromones. No rebounded emotions. No bespelling. What was there to blame this feeling on?

Nothing, my mind gladly provided the missing yet evident answer. Nothing…

And it was with this last thought, that the pleasurable sensations created by Ivy's hands slowly helped lull me to sleep, in a land where I could imagine anything I wanted, without the negative repercussions of my actions having a noticeable impact upon my day to day life. A land where the same woman would appear time and time again, despite my many attempts to block her out of my thoughts. Ivy.


Ivy's hands did not cease their kneading, even for close to an hour after Rachel had drifted off into the land of slumber. The excuse she would have used, had the witch awoken with the vampire's hands still moving rhythmically upon her naked flesh, would be that a pain did not dissipate over time, and that the continuation of the kneading was essentially required for a full recovery. But Ivy couldn't deny the intimate connection she felt as her hands moved with skilled precision over the woman's body beneath her. It helped Rachel sleep, too. Even in her slumber, Ivy could hear soft sounds of content and pleasure escape the redhead.

But she stopped the private massage, not because she was bored or tired—no, never would she leave the witch's soft, creamy flesh because of a lack of interest. The reason Ivy had to sever the intimate bond she had created with Rachel was because painful cramps had begun to slice their way through the inside of her palms. Of course, when the pain had firstly evolved, she had ignored it, simply grateful to be allowed to delve into the magnificent sensation of Rachel's skin against hers. But the discomfort had altered into a soreness that could not be ignored.

Strange, Ivy thought to herself. It's almost as if her pain relocated to me…

It was an irrational assumption, however, and the vampire chuckled softly at her own stupidity as she shook it off. It was a simple matter of tender muscles being utilized too much in such a short period of time. Really nothing to be so concerned about.

Even so, Ivy didn't regret this time spent with Rachel, not even had her hands been in an illusion of scorching flames. She bent down once more, pressing a gentle kiss onto the dead center of Rachel's bare back, and whispered softly into her ear, "Thank-you."

As the vampire headed for her own room to join the witch in a land of endless possibilities, she clenched her fists repeatedly before shaking them, trying to dissipate the sore, tightening sensation that seemed to have latched itself upon her palms. It didn't matter, though. The pain would be gone in a matter of days, but the memory of this night would last forever.