Title: Open Your Eyes

Author: Janine

Fandom: The Hollows

Pairing: Ivy/Rachel

Rating: PG

Disclaimer: I don't own them.

Summary: Ivy's with Glenn and Rachel's just going to have to learn to live with that. Or is she?
Note: This story is a sequel to my fic "Burning". You may want to read/re-read that one first before reading this, but it is not strictly necessary to in order to understand what's happening in this story.

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The noise of the restaurant swirled around me, my surroundings nothing by a haze of sound and bright colours. I felt myself beginning to sway as my mind wandered further and further and I blinked, and forced myself to concentrate on something.

Something turned out to be Ivy's plate of food, and under my now watchful eyes she lowered her chopsticks to the plate and delicately scooped up a snow pea which she gracefully lifted to her mouth. I followed the path of her hand, my tongue unconsciously peeking out of my mouth to lick at my lips as I did, and when her lips parted to deposit the small vegetable inside, my lips parted in sympathy.

Oh, to be that snow pea.

I was vaguely aware of Glenn speaking as Ivy began to chew, but I didn't strain to focus on what he was saying. These days, unless he was talking about a case I rarely paid much attention to what he was saying. Instead of focusing on Glenn, I choose to slide my gaze further up so that I could see Ivy's entire face instead of just her mouth, which was curved up into a sly smile.

I jerked back slightly when I caught sight of Ivy's eyes, though even in my surprise I noted that her lips curved just a little bit more in response to my reaction. Ivy was speaking with Glenn, but her eyes had been on me, they still were, and only a thin band of brown remained around the edges.

I recovered quickly and met her gaze openly. Ivy said nothing in response to my look, but as Glenn poked around on his plate trying to determine what exactly it was that he was eating, Ivy lowered her chopsticks again and my eyes followed the movement.

She snagged another snow pea, and I watched raptly as she lifted the elegant wooden sticks to her mouth, placing them a little further in than she normally would so that she could suggestively suck them out of her mouth.

Goddamn, I thought, almost moaning as she stared at me unblinkingly the whole time.

Unconsciously, my hand drifted up towards my neck, but before I could make contact with the raised skin there, before I could touch the scar that Ivy had given me, a soft growling sound registered with me and my hand stopped just shy of my neck.

Focusing my attention in front of me once more, I found Ivy glaring at me, the ring of brown left in her eyes even thinner now. The playful, challenging look that had been in her eyes earlier was gone now, leaving nothing but warning and a silent threat in its wake.

Immediately I lowered my hand back down to the table and picked up my own chopsticks to keep my hands occupied. We were in a restaurant, out in public, and I didn't want to agitate Ivy. Touching my scar always kicked her vamp instincts – and I was sure her libido – into overdrive and no one in the restaurant needed to deal with a cranky, sexually frustrated living vampire that night, least of all me.

I would have liked to have shifted some of the blame for my faux pas onto her, but despite my urge to touch my scar, I could tell that Ivy wasn't releasing any pheromones. She wasn't playing on the scar in anyway. That gaze she had leveled me with and the things she was doing to those chopsticks certainly had an affect on me, but she wasn't manipulating me unfairly.

"Ivy?" Glenn asked with a bit of concern when he picked up on the growling.

"It's nothing," Ivy said taking her eyes off of mine for the first time in minutes. "Chili pepper," she continued coughing a little and reaching for her glass of water. "Hot," she went on smiling a little sheepishly once she had put her glass down.

Glenn reached over and placed his hand on her back, rubbing gently to help her get over her pretend coughing fit. I scowled and looked down at my plate before bringing my chopsticks to the sticky rice on it which I proceeded to shift around restlessly.

I hated seeing them touch. I hated it with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns. I hated it like it was directed by Uwe Boll. I hated it. Hated it! Hated it! But I constantly, willingly subjected myself to it, because I wanted to be near Ivy.

Glenn was a good buffer for Ivy and me. His presence helped calm her, or at least gave her incentive to be on her best behavior. His presence also insured that our conversation topics stayed light and casual, or professional instead of veering off into the dangerously personal territory that Ivy and I often found ourselves exploring when we were alone together.

With Glenn around we could relax … for the most part, which was a nice change of pace.

"I thought nothing could make you sweat," Glenn commented, turning back to his food with a frown, no doubt wondering if whatever was hot enough to faze Ivy also resided on his plate.

"Most of the time that's true," Ivy drawled, her eyes on me once again.

Obviously I was forgiven for my earlier faux pas.

"But there are a few things that can ruffle my feathers," she continued, a pretty pink tongue peeking out from her mouth to lick at her lips.

I noted that she had a long tongue, and a rather dexterous one at that, and the observation made me shift in my seat. Ivy's eyes didn't leave mine, and as I continued to shift a positively sinful smile stretched across her lips again.

"Are you okay, Rachel?" she asked, her question drawing Glenn's eyes over to my fidgeting form. "You look a little flushed. Did you bite a pepper too?"

Glenn stared at me for a moment and then a look of alarm came over his features as he confirmed that my face had indeed reddened. His dark eyebrows scrunched together and then he looked back down at his plate with a renewed sense of suspicion.

I glared at Ivy once his eyes were off of me, and with a supremely smug look she shrugged her shoulders lightly.

"Yeah, pepper," I forced out, still glaring at her as I reached for my glass of water to help sell the story. "You could have warned me," I muttered a second later, putting the glass back down.

"You should have been paying attention," Ivy shot back in a tone that was a little sharper than before but not noticeably combative.

Glenn snorted softly in amusement beside her and I frowned knowing that he always found it amusing when Ivy and I fought – as long as she won and stayed in a good mood that was.

He took her words at face value, but I knew that Ivy wasn't talking about any chili pepper. Her words were a reference to the way we had been dancing around each other for the past two years. Her words were a reference to me finally realizing that I felt more than 'sisterly' affection for her. Her words were a chastisement to me for taking so long to realize that I wanted to lick her like a Popsicle.

I should have been paying more attention; more attention to her and more attention to my own feelings. I hadn't been paying attention however, and now she was with Glenn. It had taken me too long to figure out what I was feeling and now it was too late to do anything about it.

Depressed and furious with myself I lifted my chopsticks morosely to my lips, intent on eating the pain away.

"Silly witch, you're still not looking," Ivy rasped in that dangerous and tantalizing grey silk purr that only made its appearance when the sun was down.

Her words surprised me and I found myself momentarily frozen, my chopsticks hovering mid-air in a way I was sure made me look truly 'special'.

"Pepper," Glenn murmured.

"What?" I asked blinking, glancing over at Glenn before I gave my head a little shake in an attempt to clear it.

"You're holding a pepper," he said nodding towards my chopsticks.

I looked down and then reared back a little seeing that he was right. On my chopsticks lay a chili pepper ready and waiting to sear my senses.

"Thanks," I muttered, carefully moving the chopsticks to the side and depositing the pepper on my napkin.

Glenn looked away again, and I very nearly turned back to my food as well, but I felt as if Ivy's eyes were still on me and looked over in her direction. It turned out that I was right and she was looking at me, rather intensely in fact. She held my gaze expectantly, as if she was waiting for me to do or say something, but all I could do was look back at her blankly.

After a few seconds of me staring at her with a face full of dumb, her eyebrows scrunched together in frustration and she let out a weary sigh and looked away from me.

Once she looked away, Ivy angled her body to me slightly, physically blocking me out as well of figuratively blocking me out by making a comment to Glenn about something they had seen when they were out on one of their no doubt super-awesome dates together. The action struck me as more than a little rude, which was usually not a word that I associated with Ivy, but in conjunction with her scrunched eyebrows and weary sigh I realized that she did it because she was upset with me and wanted me to know it without creating a scene.

I frowned again. I seemed to be doing that a lot lately, but my displeased expression was lost on Ivy who was still angled away from me. Clearly she was upset with me, but for the life of me I couldn't figure out why.

Shifting uncomfortably in my seat, I bit down on my bottom lip and started to go over the conversation we had been having, trying to determine if I had said anything particularly stupid or offense to her without realizing it.

After a moment, I determined that I hadn't said anything more exasperating than usual. If anything, Ivy had been the one who was being rude. She was the only that had called me a silly witch and told me that I still wasn't paying attention to what was going on in front of me and …

My eyes widened and I turned sharply in Ivy's direction but she still wasn't looking at me.

Idiot, I thought, wanting very badly to hit my forehead with the palm of my hand. Box-dropping moron, my mind hissed, continuing to berate itself as I stared at the shield of Ivy's once-again long black hair.

She wasn't talking about the pepper on the chopsticks! Or, at least, she wasn't only talking about the pepper on my chopsticks. We'd been talking about our relationship in code before she spoke, and with her last comment to me she had still been speaking in code. I had taken a stupidly long time to figure out that I like liked her, but she was trying to tell me that all hope wasn't lost. She was sitting right in front of me telling me that I still had a chance and I'd stared at her like a spaz and said nothing.

I slumped back in my seat, watching with narrowed eyes as Ivy reached across and plucked something off of Glenn's plate. I thought back to the conversation Ivy and I had in the kitchen the night after the three of us had taken an ill-fated trip to the local gelato shop. Ivy had told me that night that it was my decision not to pursue anything with her, and that it still was my decision. I'd taken her comment to mean that my decision had cost me her, and was going to continue to cost me, but I realized now that it was something else entirely. Her words had been a challenge. She was asking me to fight for her. She had been baiting me to come after her and win her, and in response I'd been moping around in sulky silence and sweat pants for weeks because I hadn't understood.

I straightened up in my chair with a renewed sense of energy and hope.

I hadn't understood the challenge before, but I did now and I was going to accept.

Goddammit, I was going to fight for my woman!

To be continued …