Title: Hindsight, With a Sixty Percent Chance of About-face
Pairing: Rachel Morgan/Ivy Tamwood
Disclaimer: I do not own these characters. Just having a little fun.
Summary: Ever since Ivy had told her she was going to move on, Rachel has been feeling a little out of sorts. But it was just a saying; Ivy wasn't going anywhere. Except, it wasn't, and she was.
A/N: This takes place after Pale Demon, so there are vague spoilers about the newest book in here.
The cool evening air wafted into the kitchen to chill my arms and I reached above the sink to close it. It was a November night and I was preoccupied with making spells for my latest run while Ivy ran over I.S. reports at her table. We had learned over two years ago that the best way to keep me alive was if we didn't mix scents too much. We had separate rooms, bathrooms, and when we inhabited the same space, the table was hers, and the rest of the kitchen mine. It didn't much make difference in the beginning because she had still gone for my jugular more times than I cared to admit but we had gotten better since then. Now we could eat dinner together at the table when the mood struck, and hug—again, when the mood struck. It was nice, and it was made a lot easier since Ivy had moved on. She had been in love with me for over a year, but I couldn't find it in me to return her affections the way she had wanted me to at the time. I had never been with a woman before. And though Ivy was unbelievably beautiful and sexy, I hadn't felt anything for her other than an appreciation for her beauty. About five months ago she had told me she was moving on and gave me what she had aptly described as a "hell of a goodbye kiss" that I still think of from time to time.
I took a deep breath, calming my suddenly racing heart because I knew Ivy could smell the increase in blood pressure. We were supposed to be working on this case and the last thing either of us needed was me enticing her with something we ultimately both wanted, but couldn't find a way to maneuver around without having to change too much about ourselves. Ivy wanted to bite me, and I wanted the bond between us that came with a blood balance. But at the time we had discussed and tried it, she had wanted my body as well and I wasn't willing to give her that part of me. We had tried it and failed and the stipulations she had put on me was that if we were to try it again, I would either have to hurt her to get her to back off if she lost control of herself, or I would have to give her the love she needed to keep herself in control.
I wasn't willing to do either and, well, here we were. But it wasn't all bad. It wasn't bad at all, actually, because even though Ivy had moved on, our lives were still largely the same. I still loved her and relished in the fact that, even if only as a friend, she still loved me as well.
"Okay, what are you thinking about?" Ivy asked me, exasperation shown clearly in her tone.
Wincing at the tone of her voice, I turned around slowly. I smoothed back my unruly red hair subconsciously as I looked at her, sleek in tight leather pants and an equally tight black tank top that showed off her midriff. She was reclined back in her chair lazily like a big cat, stretching after a meal. Her hair had grown back out and tumbled down her shoulders and back alluringly to frame her slender face. I couldn't tell from here, but from years of living with her and even longer just knowing her, I was sure her eyes were nearing pitch black by now. "What do you mean?" I asked with a frown, trying for aloof.
"Your scent is all over the place. It's driving me crazy," she drawled as she stretched. Her shirt rose even more and my eyes automatically fell to the hint of her bellybutton ring peeking out from under the shirt. When I looked back up, she was staring at me, a subtle warning of don't go there etched onto her features with the firm purse of her lips.
I nodded, and the conversation dropped right then and there as I turned back to my spell pots.
Some things didn't change. One of the things that never changed was that Ivy always did weird things to me that I didn't understand. When my heart used to race, it was because I was scared of her. But somewhere along the line my heart stopped racing with fear, and started racing with adrenaline and something else I couldn't pinpoint. Either way, it set off Ivy's instincts which would ultimately have her at my jugular again if we both weren't careful. Every once in a while I would react weirdly to her and her pheromones and she would send me a warning that things wouldn't end well if I didn't get a handle on myself.
With that in mind, I threw myself into my work again, flipping through mountains of demon text for what I needed.
"This case is going to be a doozy," Ivy muttered as she went back to her own work. Any minute now she was going to break out her markers and really start planning. "How long do you think this'll take?"
I huffed out a laugh at the question. Runs were always complicated, especially when I was involved. Ivy always did her runs rather smoothly and efficiently.
Stupid, capable vampire.
I, on the other hand, well…I wasn't very good at planning. And I was a little impulsive at times, so runs got rather complicated from time to time, but I always finished what I started with minimal lives lost.
"Two, three weeks?" I tossed over my shoulder.
She chuckled over the sound of her papers stacking. "With you involved? Two or three months."
Her laughter continued and a new, quiet laughter, sounding like wind chimes reached my ears. I scowled. It was Jenks. "Ivy, don't you know by now that anything involving Rach here will get us killed twice as fast?" He cajoled again and I swatted him away from my face as dust shrouded my vision.
"Get bent, Jenks," I muttered.
The door rumbled with a knock and a symphony of chatting pixies rose along the ceiling. My teeth clenched as Jenks's children wreaked havoc on my eardrums. He shot me an apologetic look before he rose to calm them all down.
"I'll get it!" he hollered over them to stop their chatter. A collective, "Aww," resounded as they dejectedly returned to whatever corners of the house they were playing in.
I turned to find Ivy's table neat once again. Instead of four piles of papers, they were all stacked into one—neat, of course—pile beside the computer. I sighed quietly. That probably meant Glenn was here, which would explain why she had been stacking papers earlier.
Glenn was helping us on the case. He was an officer and former Ivy-lover. He had come over for the first time in months two weeks ago in which Ivy proceeded to flirt until her heart was content, pumping out vampire pheromones at an alarming rate that wasn't only affecting Glenn, but me as well. Eventually, I just had to leave because I couldn't stand it anymore. Jenks had teased me and said I was jealous. I had adamantly denied it, but Glenn had been over a few other times since then, and each time it made me uneasy. And I couldn't help but keep wondering if it made me uneasy because they were happy, and it could have been me.
"Hey, hey!" Glenn's voice, deep and booming, came calling through the church.
I watched as Ivy immediately responded to it, sliding smoothly from her seat into a standing position. She reached up and wrapped her arms around Glenn's neck. Then she chuckled darkly before applying a hint more pressure until he was gasping and grasping at her sides. "Trying to choke me?" he teased.
Their relationship was a weird power play that I didn't understand. Well, from Glenn's position, I couldn't understand. Ivy thrived on power play—she thrived on a lover who was more powerful than her. She was a living vampire and, thus, extremely strong to the general population. She could bench press more than either I or Glenn could even dream of, so physically, hardly any non-vamps would be able to overpower her. She looked for mental and emotional dominance in a partner, something that I had shockingly come to learn that I possessed. Had I not, Ivy would have killed me, spiraled into her own emotional depression due to Piscary without my help, or moved on by now. Glenn was a pretty powerful man, I had to admit. Nothing but prior military training could make a man stand as erect as he did, just a shade taller than Ivy's five-eleven stature, whereas I stood two inches shorter than her, typical height for a witch. He provided some form of challenge that I couldn't see. One that Ivy had toyed with, got bored with, seeing as she dumped him, but for some reasons—probably idle boredom—wanted to pick up again.
"Hey, Rachel," Glenn greeted as Ivy finally unwound her strong arms from around his vulnerable neck. He walked into the kitchen and leaned against the doorway.
I smiled over at him. "Got any good news for me?" I asked hopefully.
He sighed, adjusting his broad shoulders in his tight t-shirt with a shrug. "You know how the precinct is."
"Outdated?" Ivy hedged from over at the table. She was a ballbuster at heart.
Glenn scoffed, tilted his head towards me in greeting and lumbered back over to the table. "We can't all have color coded schematics like you, Ivy."
"You could try." Her gaze slid over him. Then her lips pulled upwards into a smile until small, sharp fangs glistened from the light. I shivered. "Then again, I am one of a kind."
Glenn pulled up a chair to sit on. He leaned over towards her. "That you are," he said.
I puffed out a frustrated breath and turned back to my spell pots.
They were at it. Again. And it was killing me inside because Ivy was already starting to pump out pheromones at an alarming rate to catch Glenn in her web.
As if he wasn't already a caught fish.
Or insect. Whatever. I couldn't even think right now. It was starting to smell amazing in here, like spice and danger and it was shooting straight to my groin.
I breathed in deeply, turning the page in my spell book and narrowing my eyes in determination to focus on this and not the way Ivy's laugh sounded like grey silk that I wanted to wrap myself in.
From above me, Jenks snickered and I pushed an errant lock of red hair from my eye to glare up at him.
"Jealous?" he asked.
"No," I instantly replied with, though my answer was getting less and less forceful every time he asked me. After all, it had been non-stop for two weeks now—Glenn was over every few days. He and Ivy would either leave or go to her room, then I wouldn't see her for hours and when I did, her eyes would be a healthy, deep brown, her swagger more relaxed as she walked. She would be sated, completely so, and every time I would see Glenn again there wouldn't be a mark on him. Which always led me to wonder just where she was biting him, which then made me—
"I'm not jealous," I reiterated for good measure.
"Please," he scoffed. "You're as bitter as Tink's tampons."
I grimaced at the imagery, but otherwise ignored him and continued with what I was doing. I needed…I needed—"Herbs," I whispered to myself. "I need herbs."
Ivy's head sprouted up from where she and Glenn had been huddled together in a mix of pheromones that had crept over towards me. The scar on my neck, her scar pulsed when I turned to find her black eyes watching me. "What do you need from the store?" she asked softly, though she had already heard me. "I can get it for you."
"No, I've got it," I insisted as I breezed past the two of them and out of the kitchen. I could tell Ivy knew something was wrong. I just hoped she was too preoccupied with Glenn to follow me into my room.
My throat clogged with emotion as I fought with my jacket to put it on. Jenks was right. And perhaps that was what bothered me most of all. I was jealous of the fact that Glenn got to have Ivy. I was jealous of the fact that after numerous failed trials with me, he got to reap the benefits of Ivy's newfound control on bloodletting.
I shook away my thoughts, not even sure what any of this meant. But it didn't matter. Ivy had moved on and, more importantly, she had specifically asked me to let her go. Anything I was to say or do now would only anger her, probably.
I walked out of my room in quick strides, leaving the kitchen in my wake as I headed for the door. As soon as I reached the hallway, I heard Ivy behind me. My heart thumped loudly in anxiety. She had silently followed me the entire way, but made her footsteps known as she neared in an attempt to not frighten me.
"Are you okay?" she asked from behind me.
I turned around to find concern knitting her eyebrows together and pulling her lips downward into a frown. It still amazed me that someone so powerful could care for someone like me so much. And after all the ways I had screwed her over in the past almost three years, it astounded me that she still cared. "I'm fine," I replied as breezily as I could with a smile on my face. "I just need some herbs to finish my spell."
She shifted her weight nervously until her left hip cocked out and her arms crossed over her middle, making her look slim yet in control. "Are you sure you don't want me to go out for you? It's probably dangerous for you to be out by yourself considering our newest run."
"Ivy, I'm fine," I assured. She didn't move an inch and I sighed before loudly calling for Jenks. He fluttered around us, dusting golden sparkles in his excitement to be leaving the house.
Ivy's eyes flicked from Jenks to me as her lips twisted in thought. "Okay," she drawled speculatively. "But call me if you need anything."
"I will." I turned to the door, but she grabbed my arm and spun me back around.
She towered over me by about two inches with eyes pitch black in anxiety and dark hair framing her face. She was achingly beautiful, and I marveled at the fact that two years ago this sight would have scared me. But now, it made my breath hitch as lean arms that belied Ivy's strength wrapped around me. She rested her head beside mine on my shoulder with a sigh. "I just want you to be careful," she told me.
Her voice sounded chastising and I couldn't help but smile at the fact that she always seemed to seamlessly slip into different roles—from a friend, to my mother, to…possibly something more. "I will be, Ivy. It's just the store."
She laughed humorlessly. "It's never just anything with you, Rachel," she breathed. The warm breath of her sentence fanned out along my neck and I shivered in her arms as my scar began to tingle.
Ivy abruptly pulled back, grimacing almost apologetically before giving me a small wave. She walked back into the church and I opened the door and stepped outside with a sigh.
"You really stepped in it this time, Rach," Jenks told me.
I smiled wryly. "Yeah, well, wouldn't be me if I didn't, right?"