Felix was bored. Again. He'd been bugging Aro to let him go for a while, to leave Volterra for a few months, just to live a little (if that was the right phrase), but they didn't allow it. Aro told him the guard didn't get "holidays". He sighed. He'd been throwing a ball one of the children in the fishing party had on him against a wall to see what would break first- and the ball had exploded. He was disappointed. He'd been childishly been hoping it would be the wall- put a crack in their precious castle walls. He squashed that thought as quickly as it came- you could never be too careful.

He decided to go looking for Demetri, wondering what he got up to when he wasn't needed. He figured they would need Demetri more, though, because of his "talent". He wandered around for a full ten minutes, going in most rooms in the castle, but finding them empty. Confused, he went to reception, hoping the human receptionist could help him out- it was depressing thinking that the human would know more than he did.

He stepped out of the lift (having been irritated by its slowness) and strode meaningfully towards reception. He stopped dead when he caught sight of what was behind the desk.

He'd been expecting to see Giacomo, the receptionist, waiting, pretending not to be bored. Instead, he found himself looking at quite possibly the most beautiful (human) girl he'd seen in his life- or his death. He walked over slowly, her still smiling away pleasantly, trying to think what to say. He needed to be suave, while not smarmy, and sweep her off her feet...

"Where's Giacomo?" Gianna smiled still more widely. 'Great start, Felix, real smooth,' he thought, annoyed.

"Aro found him unsuited to the task, so he was sent to the, ah-" she laughed, "kitchens." Felix was perplexed- the castle didn't have kitchens. It didn't need any; they were all vampires...then it dawned on him that she was joking. Quickly changing his face so he was smiling, he laughed louder than was necessary- to prove he got it, more than anything else. This girl seemed more at ease with the idea of working for vampires than her predecessor.

"So, today's your first day, then?" He smiled as widely as he could without frightening her.

"Yes, the first of many, I should hope," she said, then she leant forward conspiratorially, "I'm hoping for a quick promotion." She winked at him. 'That was...forward,' he thought, approving. He was going to get on very well with this girl.

"Well, maybe I can put in a good word for you..." he said, trailing off. He caught her scent being in such close proximity, and she certainly smelled appetising. He just hoped she wouldn't die in the process. That wouldn't be any fun at all.

"Is there anything I can help you with, er...?"

"Felix."

"Felix?" She was adept at keeping that smile fixed.

"Yeah, er..." He'd forgotten completely why he was there. He was looking for...someone...Aro? No, that wasn't right. He floundered, but she didn't look at all impatient. She maintained her smile. What did he want again? "Demetri!" He remembered happily, "I was looking for Demetri."

"Demetri is busy right now, he's with the council in the antechamber. He should be ready presently." Having fulfilled her purpose, she sat down and looked at a computer monitor. Felix turned, about to leave, when something occurred to him. Aro had said he couldn't leave Volterra, not the castle. The rest of the city was open to him. He spun back around and strode right up to the desk.

"I...well, I mean, are you...would you like to go for a drink with me?" He blurted, hoping she understood all that. Why was he nervous? Technically he could drag her and there would be nothing she could do to stop him.

She looked up, surprised, then smiled playfully. "Is that a euphemism?" He laughed in shock. Giacomo, and, indeed, his predecessors, wouldn't have dared speak to a vampire like that. He liked it a lot.

"No, you'd be the one doing the drinking."

She thought about it for a few moments. "Yeah, alright then. I'll have to check with Aro-" He cut across her.

"No, I'll check. I was the one who asked. If it's not allowed it'll be my head, not yours." He knew there was no way Aro would get rid of him, he was more concerned with her safety. She could be a lot of fun, and he wouldn't want to spoil that.

He had to wait for quite a while for Aro and Demetri to be done with whatever it was they were doing. He was getting impatient- wondering what the consequences would be if he just burst in; then deciding it wasn't worth the risk.

After what could have been several days with the amount it seemed to drag, the doors finally opened and Demetri swept out, nodding politely to Felix on his way past. Felix pushed past him as quickly as he could without seeming too excited about something- Demetri could be such a killjoy. While being dedicated to the task was a good thing, Demetri had no ability to let his hair down. Or, to put it another way, he was no fun.

Felix positively bounded into the chamber to find Caius and Marcus already out the door. Aro was about to get there himself, but he heard Felix come in. Turning, he looked mildly surprised.

"Not here to ask for another leave of absence, are we, Felix?" He stretched out his hand, not expecting a verbal response. Taking hold of Felix, his surprise deepened.

He dropped Felix's grip. He was surveying him in shock, no doubt deciding that perhaps too many knocks to the head could harm a vampire, after all.

"Really, Felix? The human girl?" He said human like it was a disgusting word. "You said you wanted something to do, but I must confess myself astonished at your choice of activity..." Aro trailed off, probably wondering if it could be any fun for himself. No doubt he'd let Felix decide.

"I thought as long as we didn't leave Volterra it couldn't hurt-"

"If you are not careful it could hurt us all!" Aro was suddenly right in Felix's face, his temper flared. "If you expose us in any way, if anyone in the city has the merest suspicion that you're just a little odd, it will be the end of you, is that clear, Felix?" Felix simply nodded. Aro's wrath had never been directed at him, and he never delivered empty threats. Felix had carried out the punishments often enough.

As suddenly as it came, Aro's anger vanished. He stepped back a little and smiled kindly. "Do have fun, won't you? Send my best to Gianna." He turned and began to flit to the door that lead to the council's private quarters. Before leaving, he turned back and said, "I don't suppose you've had alcohol in this form, have you?"

Taken aback, Felix replied quickly, "No, I've not had any human food or drink." Aro simply cackled, which echoed menacingly around the chamber. The door closed unusually loudly behind him, silencing the laughter.

Felix went for another wander around the castle, extremely confused. Was that a yes? He thought it was, seeing as he told them to have fun. He decided to tell Gianna.

When he got to reception, however, he was surprised to see Demetri already there. When he heard Felix enter, he stopped talking immediately. He frowned. Demetri usually shared most things with him- most jobs the Volturi were to do weren't kept secret from the guard. He brushed it off- this must be one of those things he couldn't be told. He walked to the desk, smiling at Demetri.

Demetri didn't smile back. He looked irritated. That surprised Felix- it took a lot to annoy Demetri (although Felix was getting good at pushing his buttons). He must really not want to do this thing he couldn't tell Felix. Huh.

Felix got to the desk and looked at Gianna, a cocky grin spreading across his face. He leant on one corner, looking as nonchalant as he could.

"So, I'll meet you at the main entrance at sunset?" Demetri suddenly stared at Felix, glaring. Felix merely smiled pleasantly. He was sure that Demetri was only annoyed because he wasn't invited- Demetri liked to be always "in the know". He looked back at Gianna, who was smiling broadly.

"Sounds good to me," she said, giggling a little. Demetri looked taken aback- probably because Giacomo wouldn't have been caught dead giggling in the castle (or, moreover, he would have been dead shortly after).

"See you then, then," he said, winking at Gianna then nodding to Demetri, who was still looking shocked. 'Strange,' he thought, but dismissed it, wondering where he'd get a hold of clothes that weren't black and didn't have high collars.

He got to the entrance a little after sunset (fashionably late, as always) to find Gianna waiting nervously. She seemed to relax when she saw him, and her features changed to a wide smile.

"Aro sends his compliments," he said, grinning. She looked relieved more than anything else when he said this, which surprised him. Surely she knew that if Aro had been displeased, she'd be dead by now? Seeing the look of relief on her face, he guessed not. She had a lot to learn.

He held out his arm for her, expecting her to take it so he could lead her to their destination, but she didn't grasp it. She stared blankly at him for a few seconds, then, as comprehension crossed her face, she threw her head back and laughed.

"HA! Aro said some of you were old, but I wasn't expecting...how old are you?" Felix blinked.

"Like...twenty five or something?"

"No," Gianna laughed, "how old are you as in, how many years ago were you born. Like, as a human?" Felix blinked again, trying to remember. He was twenty five- no, twenty six- or, wait, which was it? When was that, anyway? She was looking at him expectantly. He decided to take an educated guess.

"I was born as a human in around 1780...I remember hearing about Napoleon, anyway. Did Aro tell you I was French?" Gianna gaped.

"So...so you...remember the 1800s?" Felix smiled, and nodded. "And...the 1900s as well, then?" He laughed out loud at this.

"Surely if I remember the 1800s, the 1900s is a logical progression?" She blushed, clearly embarrassed. He chucked gently, trying to reassure her. "You're new to this, I'm sure you expected me to be the age I pretend to be." He laughed, then continued through his laugher, "Just don't ask Aro how old he is if you think I'm old!"

Gianna opened her mouth, clearly about to ask that very question, then she thought about it and decided she didn't want to know.

They walked a little further towards the quiet bar they'd chosen, when Gianna tugged his arm. She had a couple more questions and she knew they couldn't afford to be overheard.

"So...you're French?"

"Yes," Felix laughed, "I am. Well, I was, but that was over two hundred..." he trailed off, confused at the expression on her face. She was smiling serenely, and she moved closer than would have been wise had he not fed before they came out.

"Do you know what they say about French men?" Felix was completely stumped. 'They' said many things about French men, how could he possibly know which one she meant?

"Um," he said, curiosity overriding his desire to pretend he knew what she was talking about so he didn't look stupid, "no, I don't." She laughed quietly.

"I suppose we shall have to find out. Aro told me to get you vodka, is that your drink?" Felix was taken aback. Vodka?

"I have no idea. Apparently, yes, it is."

Felix was making a replica of one of the pyramids of Giza with his empty shot glasses on the table in front of him. He'd been knocking back vodka shots, but not an awful lot had happened as yet. His head felt a little lighter, sure, but he couldn't feel any other major difference. Gianna was eyeing him with awe, amazed at how much he'd been able to drink without actually being drunk. He completed his little pyramid, then looked to her for approval. She giggled.

"I'll get us another drink, shall I?" asked Felix, feeling confident. His contact lenses would need replacing soon, but he could do that later. He stood up, then his legs gave way a little and he stumbled. Funny. They'd always worked perfectly fine before. He stood up straight, his legs held. He decided there must have been something there for him to trip over that he just didn't see. He started walking again, and he found it rather difficult to walk in a straight line- his legs were determined that he take a convoluted route. This was strange. Gianna was laughing, he could hear it. He turned to see what she was laughing at, and stumbled sideways. He managed to grab onto the bar to stop himself hitting the floor, and straightened up. This was very odd, she must have done something to him. He looked around, and she was still laughing, if anything harder now. He looked around, but couldn't see what she could be laughing at.

He turned to face the barman, still clutching to the bar to hold himself upright. He opened his mouth to order, but the man cut across him.

"I think you've had quite enough for tonight." Felix stared at him, confused. He'd fed earlier, yes, but how could this man know about that? Anyway, he wasn't hunting tonight. The bartender leant forward and said "Your eyes are bloodshot. You have a pyramid of shot glasses on your table. It's time for you to go home and sleep it off, OK? Don't make me call security." This man thought he needed to go home. That must mean...he thought Felix was drunk! Silly boy. Felix couldn't be drunk. He pushed himself up off the bar to make his point, then he started to stumble backwards. Felix caught his balance, then realised that that guy might have been right...so Aro plotted this, then. He squashed that thought as soon as it came- you could never be too careful. Gianna suddenly appeared out of nowhere, and slid her arm through his.

"Time to call it a night?" she asked playfully, smiling up at him. He stared blankly at her for a few seconds. Her smile was nice. Her eyes were really brown, too, like not so dark they had no colour, but warm...and expectant? He realised she was waiting for a response, so he nodded, still dazed. What was happening to him?

She led him carefully out of the door, and headed in an unfamiliar direction. He remembered she'd said something about going to her place, so this must be where they were headed. Maybe she thought he should sleep it off too. He laughed out loud. She hadn't read up on her vampires, then.

As they wound their way through the twilit, empty street of Volterra, something was bothering him about the way they were headed. His instincts told him they were going the wrong way- but how could he know that? He had no idea where she lived. He pushed this thought aside and allowed her to lead him.

He looked for the first time at what she was wearing. Surprisingly, she wasn't wearing black. In his head, she would have tried to dress in what was generally accepted as a vampiric manner to impress him, but she hadn't. She was wearing a heavily patterned, skin tight dress that came half way down her thighs. Her heels were very high- he was impressed with her sense of balance, as she walked in them with ease and a surprising amount of grace to say she was human- and they were bright red. She turned her head to look at him and he unwillingly snapped his eyes to her face as fast as he could. She smiled, and continued walking. She certainly had a beautiful smile.

She turned down a narrow alleyway, and the thing that had been niggling away at his mind suddenly hit him. The reason he thought they were going the wrong way was because he did know where she lived. All employees of the Volturi lived in the castle. Including the human ones.

Did she not trust his sense of direction? There couldn't have been many studies into the effects of vampire inebriation but he was completely sure he would know how to get back to the castle- why hadn't she just asked? Now they were most likely lost. He struggled with how to broach the subject as they continued down the alleyway. They had just reached what he guessed to be the middle, when she turned abruptly, pushed him against the wall (which only worked because the shock made him lose his balance) and kissed him. She wound her arms around his neck as he struggled with what to do next. It was most likely against the rules for a member of the guard to be courting anyone else who worked for the Volturi, but then again she'd already spoken to Aro, so if it was indeed breaking the rules then Aro would have told her so. And they'd gone the wrong way. He had been planning to tell her so. She stopped kissing him, and he was about to say something to her, but then she pressed herself against him and brushed her lips against his neck, and he forgot what he was going to say. She bit his neck gently (or at least, it felt gentle to him, she could have broken her teeth for all he knew) and one of her hands slid down his chest.

He hadn't been expecting this. Not that he was complaining, but he realised he'd never had sex with a human before. He'd killed enough of them to know that they were fragile creatures- it took nothing at all to crush their bones to dust. He panicked, thinking that he should tell her to stop. He didn't want to accidentally kill her- Aro would be most displeased. She'd been in the job one day and she was already more effective than all her predecessors of the past decade combined. Yes, he should tell her they couldn't, they had to stop. As though she could read his mind and wasn't pleased with the contents, she unbuttoned his jeans and slipped her hand inside, erasing all thoughts of stopping.

He looked up, wanting to make sure they wouldn't be disturbed, and saw there were no windows along the walls. He glanced around, and there were no doors either. Gianna had picked a perfect spot. Then a thought occurred to him- this must have been her plan all along. Either that or she came here a lot. He ignored that idea. He didn't like it. That surprised him- he was angry at the possibility of other lovers.

He lost all his patience at that point. Praying that he wasn't going to hurt her by accident, he picked her up and turned around, pushing her against the wall. He buried his face in her neck, trying to be gentle, and pushed his hand up her skirt, fumbling a little, looking for her underwear. He found a suspender belt and almost dropped her in surprise, but he couldn't find anything further up. Slightly embarrassed, he extricated himself from her neck, and decided to look. She giggled.

"What?" he asked, more embarrassed now. She pulled herself closer to his face, then leant to one side to whisper in his ear.

"You can't find what's not there." She leant back against the wall, going pink. She caught a look at the expression on his face and looked rather pleased with herself.

If he'd had a heart rate, it would have accelerated. He pressed against her as hard as he dared, fleetingly jealous of the blood he could feel pulsing quickly through her system. He quashed this- thinking about her blood at this proximity was unwise.

He slipped as gently as he could into her, hearing her gasp quietly. He realised they must feel cold to humans- she felt extremely warm, especially now. He liked it. Her skin was soft and delicate, and the way her body responded to him was particularly exciting to him. She moaned and tried to dig her nails into his back, failing of course. Still, he liked the sensation of her body temperature in front of him. He hoisted her up a little higher, pressing into her a little harder. She gasped and bit her lip. He wanted to kiss her but didn't trust himself enough not to crush her, feeling her blood pulsing against his skin highlighted her mortality a little too much. He decided to just press his forehead against the wall behind her and be as gentle as he could.

It was very easy to get carried away and not be gentle enough, he found. Especially as she seemed to like it rather a lot. He held back as much as he could, slowing down whenever he remembered, but she wasn't exactly helping his self-control- every time he slowed a little, she shook her head and begged him to carry on. After this happened a good few times, he decided to ignore his better nature and do exactly what she wanted. She didn't seem to mind the extra pressure. He was going to have to experiment another time with how hard he could be without causing too much pain.

Once or twice, he thought he heard somebody approach, but nobody rounded the corner. All the same, he tried to keep the noise level down to a minimum, which became increasingly difficult as time wore on. He pressed his lips against her neck as hard as he dared in an attempt to keep himself quiet, but all it did was muffle the sound. Gianna struggled to stay quiet too (which he particularly appreciated)- she had her hand clamped over her mouth, but in the heat of the moment she kept forgetting it was there and let go.

Felix desperately wished they'd gone somewhere indoors, partly so they would be less likely to be caught, but also because he wanted to see her. For obvious reasons she'd left her dress on, but he wanted to tear it off her, remove the unwanted barrier- he wanted to touch all of her, to run his fingertips over her skin...

This last thought sent him over the edge. He'd managed to control himself up until that point, but it was too much. She relaxed against the wall, flushed. She was breathing heavily, and smiling widely. She moaned a little again, threw her arms fully around his neck and kissed him hungrily. He let her, considering starting up again, but then venom started seeping into his mouth and he thought better of it. She was lucky he wasn't hungry- especially with the way she looked, pink and breathless, perfect...he started at this last thought. It had wandered lazily into his consciousness and taken him by surprise. He didn't really think that.

He set her down carefully, and helped her smooth down her dress, while doing his jeans back up. No, she wasn't perfect, he knew that. Nobody is perfect.

As they walked hand in hand back toward the castle (the full function of his legs now returned to him), he kept stealing sidelong glances at her, thinking. He knew she wasn't perfect, but he was struggling to think of exactly why not.

Felix was perplexed. It had been around six hours since he'd left Gianna at the door to her quarters, and all attempts to get her off his mind had completely failed. If anything, she just took hold and it got worse the more he tried to send his thoughts in another direction.

He'd read three books, listened to his favourite records (he'd never wanted to move on from gramophones, these new-fangled media players were never quite as attractive to him), and wandered around the castle aimlessly, all to no avail. He was in his personal quarters, mulling it over, when Demetri walked in looking extremely annoyed. Felix opened his mouth to greet him, but Demetri started talking before he could say anything.

"Aro wants to see you. Now. Main chamber."

"O..." Demetri's cloak cracked loudly against the door frame as he swept quickly out of the room, "...K then. Bye." Felix frowned. What had he done to offend Demetri?

Over the next few days, Felix noticed that Demetri's behaviour got stranger and stranger. He wasn't the only one to notice, either. Even Alec and Jane, normally considering themselves to be above the rest of the residents of the castle (save for Aro, Caius and Marcus, of course) wondered aloud (whenever Demetri was well within earshot) if vampires could develop mental illnesses or disabilities. Demetri, surprisingly, didn't respond to their thinly veiled taunts. He didn't respond to anything much, nothing less so than Felix. Unless he was required to be in Felix's company, he avoided him completely, and when they were assigned on jobs together, he didn't speak to Felix at all conversationally.

Felix was surprised by how much this hurt his feelings. He'd never really thought about it before, but out of all the members of the guard he'd always preferred working with Demetri. They used to spend time together socially, too, but without warning Demetri didn't want to even be in the same room as him. He wondered what he'd said, he went over everything in his head that had happened over the past few weeks to see what could be bothering him...but he came up empty.

Gianna, on the other hand, was becoming more and more flirtatious with everybody. Felix wasn't sure he liked this. He knew full well he wasn't in love with her or anything- after all, she was human- but he'd come to be rather fond of the idea of her being his, and his alone. She, on the other hand, seemed to be making it plain that she was not his, and nor was she anyone else's, for that matter. Felix concluded that this would only bother him the day she stopped showing preference for him.

Two weeks passed, and even Aro started to get agitated with Demetri's anger. Part of the reason he became agitated at all was because Demetri had begun to refuse to show Aro his mind, leading to suspicions that Demetri planned to leave them. Felix was asked to keep a closer eye on Demetri just to ensure he was never leaving the castle- which both parties resented thoroughly.

Then, out of the blue, an unexpected visitor changed everything.

Edward Cullen left the castle with an extremely dark cloud clearly hanging over his head. Felix followed him a little ways once he'd left the castle, but he stuck to the shadows until Felix lost track of him.

"Man, he was fast!" Felix regaled the others with his tale of how he lost track of the mind-reading, animal-hunting, suicidal Cullen, when Demetri bustled in, bringing with him his usual wave of melancholy.

"Felix? We're needed upstairs, Cullen plans to ruin St. Marcus Day." Wasting no time, Felix grabbed a cloak and flitted after Demetri.

"I'm not dead, and neither are you! Please Edward, we have to move. They can't be far away!" The pale, dark-haired human struggled around in Edward's arms, clearly wanting to attract his attention.

"He was starving when we saw him, how is she not dead?" Demetri whispered this to Felix, who started. This was the first conversation he'd had with Demetri in what felt like months.

"What was that?" Edward asked the human, sounding distracted. He had most likely heard the guard's approach.

"We're not dead, not yet! But we have to get out of here before the Volturi-"

"Pop up for a visit?" finished Demetri quietly, and Felix suppressed a laugh. Edward spun around and put himself between the human girl and them. As they drew closer, Felix could see why Edward would strive to protect this girl. She looked particularly inviting.

"Greetings, gentlemen. I don't think I'll be requiring your services today," Felix wondered what services he meant. He almost shot a look at Demetri for not filling him it, but decided to leave it until later, "I would appreciate it very much, however, if you would send my thanks to your masters." Felix almost scoffed. Masters indeed.

"Shall we take this conversation to a more appropriate venue?" Felix thought it would be a lot easier to get the human away from Edward if they were inside, he'd have the full guard to stop Edward for him. She was very tempting. Maybe he could kill Edward first, get him out of the way. He'd try and get Demetri to back him up, say Edward refused to come with them.

Maybe he could offer the girl protection from death if she came with him; that might make her more...compliant. He wasn't exactly intending on asking her, anyway, it would just be nice if she followed him willingly.

"I don't believe that will be necessary," said Edward fiercely- as if he could read Felix's mind, "I know your instructions, Felix," Felix nearly interrupted to ask if he could then be so kind as to tell him what they were, but in the name of professionalism he bit his tongue, "I haven't broken any rules."

"Felix merely meant to point out the proximity of the sun. Let us seek better cover." Felix had heard those words before. They meant 'move your ass or we'll move it for you'.

"I'll be right behind you. Bella, why don't you go back to the square and enjoy the festival?" Felix eyed Bella up and down now Edward had shifted a little, and decided her name was particularly appropriate. However, he couldn't let the girl go wandering off. If Edward got killed, how would he ever find her again?

"No, bring the girl," he said, his mouth filling with venom as he said it.

"I don't think so." Edward's voice was cold and hard. This was clearly heading for a fight, and the thought of this filled Felix with glee. He could get him back for getting away earlier.

"No," said a quiet voice from behind Edward. She sounded frightened; was it of them, or her possible impending doom?

"Felix," Demetri warned, picking up Felix's minute step towards Edward, "not here. Aro would simply like to speak with you again, if you have decided not to force our hand after all." What the hell was he on about? Would it have killed him to tell Felix what the hell this was about?

"Certainly. But the girl goes free." Felix had to stifle another snort. Fat chance.

"I'm afraid that's not possible. We do have rules to obey." Felix struggled to think exactly what rules he could be talking about, then it dawned on him- this girl must know about vampires. But then again, so did Gianna, so it clearly wasn't all that important.

"Then I'm afraid that I'll be unable to accept Aro's invitation, Demetri."

"That's just fine," said Felix, jubilant, realising he'd actually said that out loud.

"Aro will be disappointed." Felix struggled to think why...unless the girl had some kind special ability Aro wanted? But what could she have that Aro even needed? Maybe she was just super attractive to their kind- both he and Edward seemed to want her for themselves- that could be useful...until she died, of course.

"I'm sure he'll survive the let-down."

Felix and Demetri advanced in unison, the sun being the only thing stopping Felix from pouncing. Edward was clearly half-starved, and quickness couldn't save him from Felix's strength. Edward didn't move. Felix wanted to taunt him, goad him into a reaction, when he heard an approach behind him.

"Let's behave ourselves, shall we? There are ladies present." A tiny vampire practically skipped to Edward's side, and stood there looking annoyingly casual. She knew that they wouldn't fight if the numbers were even. "We're not alone."

She was clearly referring to the humans congregated at the other end of the alley. They were no concern of theirs, if they saw too much their lives would be forfeit, simple as. Demetri, however, was clearly intent on avoiding this.

"Please, Edward, let's be reasonable."

"Let's, and we'll leave quietly now, with no-one the wiser." Yeah, two vampires and a slightly dishevelled human girl walking in bright sunlight through the middle of a festival. Nobody would notice that.

Demetri sighed. It was clearly imperative that they get this lot to Aro. "At least let us discuss this more privately."

"No." Felix grinned, ready to launch himself at Edward- Demetri could handle the female.

"Enough." Jane had arrived. 'Aw, man!' Felix thought, thoroughly pissed off. Trust Jane to ruin his fun.

Jane was furiously intent on ruining someone's fun once the Cullens and Bella had left. It angered her that there was someone able to resist her power- someone she considered so insignificant. Everybody gave her a wide berth.

Demetri was back on speaking terms with Felix, with no explanation as to why, and no explanation either for the anger he'd felt. He was seemingly back to normal.

They were joking around together, talking about what to get up to that night (Felix wondering if Gianna was busy- Demetri's anger had sufficiently distracted him from his infatuation with her, but now that it had gone he wanted to re-establish a relationship), when they were suddenly summoned to the main chamber. Exchanging looks of mild surprise, they stood and went to see what was going on.

While they were en route, they found that Jane was also on her way to the chamber, practically dancing her way there. Clearly she was taking her anger out on someone. Felix suddenly worried that it would be he and Demetri that were to suffer, and glancing at Demetri's face, he was thinking the same.

When they entered the chamber, they found Caius and Marcus seated in their thrones, (Marcus look bored and Caius stern- the usual), with Aro stood further forward, looking grave. This was odd. He was staring at someone who was on their knees, sobbing, in the middle of the chamber. Walking around, he realised with alarm that it was Gianna. He looked from her, to Aro, and back again, hoping that the reason they were all here would occur to him. When he'd been to see Aro after his date with Gianna, he'd been amused and intrigued, but not angry. If this was about that, he'd have felt the consequences already.

Aro held out his hand absent-mindedly, and Felix took it, allowing Aro to read his thoughts and memories. Aro pushed him away gently after he'd extracted all the information he required, then waited expectantly. Demetri walked over and took his hand without a word. Felix realised that this was the first time in over a month he'd seen Demetri do so.

Aro released Demetri without reaction. He simply continued to stare at the sobbing Gianna. Felix considered saying something, but Aro's expression made him decide against it. Whenever Aro wanted to talk, he would.

After what felt like an age, Aro turned his head slowly to look at Felix and Demetri.

"This one here," he gestured a hand loosely to Gianna without looking at her, "has been playing you both. And not just you two, she tried it on others as well." He looked back at her. "Very crafty."

Felix and Demetri exchanged confused glances, but said nothing. Jane looked as though she wanted to be bouncing up and down on the spot, she was so ecstatic. That couldn't be good.

Aro cocked his head to one side slightly, and continued slowly, his voice so distant it sounded almost vacant, dreamy. "Gianna wished to be one of us. A wish she felt so strongly that she decided to do whatever she could to ensure her place among us." He dragged his eyes from the top of her head to look back at them. "This is why she used both of you." Felix's mouth fell open in surprise.

"It's a technique she'd used before, in her previous job. No wonder her reference was so glowing. She used sex to work her way up the food chain, and quickly realised that she could do the same here." He looked pointedly at Felix for his next comment- "Some of us were particularly accommodating."

Felix was trying to absorb all this. Somehow, he wasn't surprised. As a person, she'd meant little to him, so it wasn't such a great leap to assume that it was the same for her- but she'd seemed to show preference for him. Another thought occurred to him- why was Demetri here? He looked across at him, trying to think, and was shocked to see him glaring angrily at Gianna. Did he really care that much about Felix? That was a little worrying. Maybe he was in love with him or something. It would explain why he was so annoyed- he'd demonstrated a preference for someone else, a female, too. He wrinkled his nose at the thought. Even if he did swing that way- and he reassured himself that he didn't- Demetri would not be his type.

Aro's attention had shifted to Demetri, too. "Then, she found a higher ranking member of the guard. She went further with him. Instead of just fucking him, like she had the others-" Felix winced at the plural- "she managed to ensure that he thought himself in love with her." Aro practically spat the word 'love' at the still shaking Gianna. "Now, she thought, now it's secured that I will join them. She just wondered how hard it would be to be rid of your...infatuation." Aro drew out that last word, enunciating every syllable carefully. Suddenly, he launched himself forward and pulled Gianna's head back using her ponytail. Felix held out an arm to stop Demetri from going to her.

Aro's face was less than two inches from Gianna's. He was practically hissing so as to control his anger. "Did you honestly think that it would work, Gianna? That we just turn people willy-nilly whenever the mood strikes us? Newborns are too much hassle to handle in our own city! And we don't turn people unless it's likely they have a possible special ability. Aside from an intimate knowledge of the back alleys and shadowy corners of Volterra and a knack for getting into people's beds, you have none." Aro threw her onto the ground, where she continued to cry, but made no attempt to get up. He went over to Felix and Demetri.

"I shall have to be more careful with whom I appoint in future. Clearly my previous recruitment methods weren't stringent enough. You have both been played." He started to walk over to Jane, paused, then turned back to the two of them. "You may go." His tone made it clear this was a dismissal.

Felix grabbed Demetri's arm and began to drag him out of the room, knowing what was coming next but not wanting to hang around to witness it. Demetri moved helplessly, his eyes never leaving the heap on the floor that was Gianna.

"Jane, get rid of it."

"NO!" Gianna shrieked, her voice echoing around the chamber, "Demetri! DEMETRI! Help me! Save me, please, DEMETRI!" She started screaming. Jane had begun.

Demetri seemed to awake from a trance at that point. He suddenly looked frantic, looking around the room in a panic, wondering what to do, what could he do? Gianna's screams grew louder. Jane's ability was excruciating enough for vampires, but for humans, if she continued long enough, they died. Felix kept trying to pull Demetri out of the room, but he wouldn't go, he was trying to get to Gianna. What he hoped to achieve, exactly, Felix didn't know, but he couldn't see Demetri killed. His usefulness might not be enough to save him in the wake of such defiance.

As Gianna's cries began to wane in strength, Demetri struggled harder, desperate. Felix hadn't realised that he'd cared for her at all, but it seemed so obvious, now. Demetri kept trying to break free of Felix's grip, until...Felix closed his eyes. Demetri went limp in his arms. The silence that was filling the room was deafening.

Felix carried Demetri out into the hallway, and set him down against the wall. He then went back in- he wanted to ensure there would be no repercussions for himself or Demetri- the latter in particular. He had to resist glaring at Jane as she bounded out of the chamber happily, and he kept an eye on her just in case Demetri tried to start something until she was out of sight.

He entered to find Marcus standing lazily and sauntering to the doorway at the back of the chamber, Caius striding tempestuously to join him, and Aro slumped in his throne. He barely moved when Felix entered.

"You need not worry, Felix, I know neither you nor Demetri knew of her plans. There will be no punishment where there was no wrongdoing."

It took him several seconds to decide how to respond. He nodded, and said, "Thank you, master." He turned and walked to the door, now struggling to think what he could do with Demetri.

As he left, he heard Aro talking to himself. "Next time...next time I'm hiring a man."