...my muse is in love with this fandom, for a reason I know not (because she and the main character share a name? Who knows) -_- but I'll milk it for as long as she lets me. Bunnies!

He smells her before he sees her.

She doesn't wear perfume; the musk scent doesn't suit her as well as her own: sweat, earth, air and something sweet. She evokes the elements – even now, as a vampire, she's her own form of unnatural beauty.

He opens the door to what used to be her room, up until a week ago, when he finally made her choose.

It had been either Blade or him.

He finds her sitting on the chair next to the window, one lamp shedding a dim light in the room, but bright enough for a vampire's senses. She's wearing a coat tied around her waist, barely showing any flesh, and her hair covers most of her face.

She looks haunted.

"You haven't told them," she says as soon as he's in, and he closes the door behind him, for her sake. "Are you still trying to save face?"

He doesn't let that provoke him, "My affairs are my own. I see no need to share them with this House, or the Council."

There's something on her face – worry? Hope? She often makes her emotions difficult to discern.

"They'll find out eventually," she adds, keeping eye-contact, "You did."

He sighs, shoving his hands in his pockets, "Was there something in particular you wanted, Krista? Or is this another attempt to play the role of the informant?"

She stands up from the chair and he's expecting a fight, but remains unmoving. If she wants a fight, he'll wait for her to strike first. He's too tired of this to fight her any longer. He would rather she disappear from his life, although the ache and desire for revenge is stronger, the more he hurt her – used her – the more he seems to hurt himself.

And, thus, he gave her a choice.

And she chose.

Krista begins to untie the knot around her waist and he quirks a brow, not expecting that, but when her coat falls to the floor, his surprise is clear.

"Krista..." He's filled with anger, sorrow, disappointment and regret, all in one fell swoop.

She's covered in bruises and scars, and he can tell by the way she's not putting weight on her right leg that something must be twisted.

He's at her side in two seconds – it only took one for his emotions to explode – and she winces when he takes her face in his hands, studying each bruise, "Who did this to you?"

"Blade," she answers, not looking at him.

His eyes look at her, suspicious. He lets her go, taking a step back, "Really? Is that what he told you to tell me?"

Her laughter is full of bitterness, "Great. Just great. I tell the truth and you don't believe me."

"Can you blame me?"

She sighs, "I guess not." She swallows and, knowing Krista, she was probably swallowing her pride. "I quit. I'm tired of playing both sides. I'm tired of being a pawn – trying to protect you from the Council and trying to keep you two from killing each other. It's not what I want."

"Then why do it?" he asks. "You could have stopped it. You could have chosen. You chose, Krista, and you chose wrong."

"No," she hugs herself, wincing, "I didn't. You chose for me. You killed me, turned me, you killed my brother, and Blade, being the fucking opportunist that he is, used me and what was left of my humanity as his chance to get back in. You two handled the strings, I just walked the fucking plank."

He considers this – the facts, the truth. Even an animal, when caged or threatened, will always go for the first possible action.

He unbuttons his cuffs, pulling his sleeves back.

"What are you doing?" she asks, putting her arms down, hands balled into fists.

He knows she is fully aware of what he's going to do, but answers her regardless, "You haven't been feeding. This will help you."

"I didn't come for that," she objects, sounding annoyed.

He puts his arms down, angry, his face showing more rage than it should, and none of it is really directed at her, though his words say different, "Then what did you come for? Tell me, Krista, what is it you want from me now?"

She stands her ground, bruised and broken, still so brave before him, "Like you said, I chose."

It takes him more than two seconds to register that. "Explain."

She rolls her eyes, "Jesus Christ, Marcus. Before you threw me out – very classy, by the way, putting me in a coffin – I told you, I had to go. You're the one that flipped with the jealous boyfriend routine." He decides not to argue with her on that, though he should. "You didn't trust me. I couldn't trust you. I had to make a choice, but it wasn't between you and Blade. It was...it was the girl."

He blinks in surprise, "Deanna?"

"Yes," she breathes, exasperated. "I knew you couldn't do anything to keep her out of this, to save her, but Blade could. I was going there to tell him about her...and to tell him that would be the last time I helped him. After that, I'd make my own choices. I wouldn't belong to anyone but myself."

"I see that worked out rather well for you," he adds, fighting the smile as the jealous boyfriend is no longer jealous but, rather, swelling with pride as her humanity continues to show. Still trying to protect the innocent.

She gives him a pointed look, clearly not appreciative of his humor, "Yeah, it was great. Shen was the only reason I made it out alive."

He quirks a brow, a hint of curiosity mixed with jealousy peeking in.

"He didn't stop him, he just...bought me some time. I barely made it out alive."

"That still doesn't tell me why you've come to me...am I the only available choice now? The only one not trying to kill you?"

"I wouldn't say that," she nearly snarls at him. "I'm here...because I chose. I chose myself, Marcus, and that means, I choose you, too."

That stumps him. For a moment, he is wordless, but, before he can react, she continues.

"But I can't be with you, not like this, not while living in this. Knowing what I know about them, what they're trying to do to you, what happens here...I don't know if I can do it." She's beginning to break and he wonders how long she's been roaming the streets with the weight of her choice on her shoulders.

He walks to her again, taking her face in his hand, tenderly, forcing her to meet his gaze.

"Krista, this is what I am," he reminds her. "If I leave my position now, I will be hunted and killed, similar to what the military would do to deserters."

"Not even remotely," she narrows her eyes, knowing the vampires to be a little bit more extreme in their politics.

He ignores that, "My position protects you. It keeps us both untouched by many, hated by most. If...if I could travel to a time and a place where we would not be found, where we would live in peace, both of us, I would seize that opportunity. I would do that, for you."

She gives him half a smile, and he's surprised she's not mocking him for being a romantic again. "You promise?"

He smiles, "Yes." He kisses her forehead and holds her close, "I promise, Krista, once I have taken what I want from them, it shall simply be you and I, for as long as we wish."

"I'm holding you to that...now, about that drink." He feels her nuzzling his neck and his own hunger begins to wake.

"Drink, Krista, but mind the suit. It's new," he murmurs, brushing the back of her head, before he feels her fangs pierce flesh. He moans.

Both the suit and her clothes are soon torn, forgotten, as other things become priority.

In light of her choice, Marcus decides, the tables have turned and things have shifted...significantly.

What was once important is now...less so. But, what was once loved is still loved, and it was all a matter of choice.