It's official. I'll forever love this pairing.

Krista sits up, waking up with a start, to yet another dream of him – Marcus – and she curses her luck – her fate – to remember him always.

It's been almost two years; one year, eleven months, two weeks. She had betrayed Marcus for the last time by giving herself to him, by sacrificing herself for him; but, when Blade told her of Marcus' plans to become too powerful for his own good – his ambition had always been his biggest flaw – she had to put her feelings aside for...the greater good.

She didn't help Blade, not really, but she did let him walk through the door that would bring Marcus down and did nothing to stop it from happening.

After that, following Blade around on his "missions" was not enough.

Ashing vampires gave her very little satisfaction and it was made worse when she realized that some vampires – few, but still important – weren't monsters. They still had hopes, desires and a wish to be human, to be loved.

It was, in that final moment, that she walked away from Blade and found her own home...but, clearly, that isn't working out.

Marcus had warned her once; told her that, as his maker, she would always think of him, for better or for worse. She had thought her memories and resentment would lead her to worse, but they never did.

She misses him, even now; wishes she could hear him say something gallant, so that she can just roll her eyes and say some cynic remark at when, inside, he's succeeding in getting through to her – he always could.

She toys with the idea all through the night – could she do it? Would she do it?


It's not until the fifth day, when she wakes up and sees the sun crawling under the closed windows, that she realizes she must.

Whether she will or can is another matter entirely, but she cannot spend eternity wondering – missing him.

She's sure Marcus' staff must be new because, if any of them know her – know of her, even – they would ash her on the spot.

Then again, Marcus would kill them if they tried. He never did like when anyone touched her – even if she earned it.

"Miss Starr? Mr. Van Sciver will see you now," the well-dressed secretary leads her to his office – double-doors, with decorations on the wood that make her stand and wonder. Marcus might have lost his battle with Blade, but he never lost his place in society, clearly.

When she walks in, the office is still as dark as the old one used to be – perhaps darker – and he's sitting next to the fireplace, a seat reserved for her across from him. He's nursing a glass of what she can smell is blood – the rich, metallic scent hitting her nostrils like ambrosia for the gods. It's the only reason she keeps in contact with Blade, most days, so she can live on the serum, because if she doesn't, he knows he'll come after her next.

She doesn't take the seat, not even when the door closes behind her, and Marcus is not looking at her – the fire in front of him dancing in his eyes like a gypsy from hell.

"Krista," he says, softly, his eyes never moving. "To what do I owe the pleasure?"

She isn't ready to answer that question – not yet. "I like what you've done with the place. It suits you."

He smirks, and it's an odd expression, one that does not fit his features. "You came all the way here, from Los Angeles, to comment on my good taste?"

She quirks a brow, "Who told you where I was?"

He chuckles, "I've always known were you were, Krista. Imagine my surprise when I learned you were coming home."

"You were having me followed?" She's annoyed by this – how he always used to do that – that she doesn't grasp the last part of his statement until he's looking at her, eyes hard, and then the sentence replays in her head as if it were hitting her for the first time. "I," she swallows, trying to think her words before speaking them. "I wasn't aware there was anything to come home to."

"Why are you here?" he repeats, but the wording is different than when he first said it and there is nothing gallant about it. He wants to know. He needs to know, she can tell, and if she doesn't say it, he'll likely ash her himself.

"I...I want a job," she chooses to say, rather than the truth. Admitting that she misses him? That she wants him? That she's sorry? Maybe when they play baseball on the moon.

He looks her over, from top to bottom, in what she hopes is curiosity – it makes her shudder, makes her hope she's wearing appropriate clothes, though they're befitting of her. Jeans, boots, tank top and her leather jacket. Marcus had been the formal one. She's always been the soldier.

"How fast can you type," he asks in all seriousness, and she feels tempted to take her gun out of her back and just shoot the glass of blood he's holding, just to prove her point of how fast she cannot type, but how she can shoot instead. But he knows. He's just trying to rile her up.

She crosses her arms, "That's not the position I'm interested in."

"You had a position in mind?" He stands from the chair, setting the glass on the table in front of him, before he puts his hands behind his back. "By all means, tell me about this position in which you see yourself under my employ."

She blinks, recovering from the sexual innuendo which he may or may have not meant...or maybe it's been a while since she's had sex – not really, but hot, biting, vampire sex? Yes, a long time.

"I could get things for you, deliver...specific things. I could fight for you. Guard you. Shadow you. You wouldn't even know I was there."

His eyebrows furrow and he turns away from her – possibly hiding his emotions from her – as he goes behind his desk, sitting on the tall chair as he leans back, fingers pressed to his lips. He's still looking at her, thoughtful – confused?

"Tell me why I should consider your offer when, in the past, you've only shadowed me to give me away to my worst enemy?"

Oh. That.

She finally moves deeper into the office, until she's a couple of feet away from his desk and she can feel a growl emanate from him – apparently, the distance hadn't been helping only her, but him as well. She locks her fingers in the loop of her jeans, before she shrugs, "Because, if I was that good to almost get you killed, I'll be just as good keeping you alive."

It's not a lie, but not really the truth.

She'd die before letting him die.

When she let Blade do what he did...she didn't leave Marcus defenseless. Marcus had a fan – someone she had yet to see here, so she imagines she's either dead or hiding somewhere – someone Krista knew would keep him alive for her own selfish reasons but, at least, he would live.

"Diana told me what you did. Telling her of your plans to betray me was most unlike you." She quirks a brow, wondering if he read her mind. "You wouldn't trust anyone, let alone Diana, with that information...unless you knew she would warn me."

Krista doesn't say anything – tries not to think anything, to avoid him reading her mind, if that's what he did earlier – and just watches as he stands from his chair, moving to stand in front of her and the distance between them is very small; a gap easily closed.

"You did not come here for employment. You did not come here to keep me safe. You did not come here to find shelter or money. You, Krista, came here for another reason entirely and...until you tell me, you will not be welcome here. Tell the truth and shame the devil, Krista, or leave and never return – to this House, nor to me."

And that's what it all boils down to, she thinks. Not the House of Chton, but him.

"How long have you been watching me?" She's not changing the subject, not really.

He answers without hesitation, "From the moment I realized you were missing. I thought Blade had killed you, at first, but then Diana shared with me how she learned of Blade's intrusion and...I could've stopped then, but I didn't. I found you and I had you followed."

"And? What did you find out?"

He's clearly not sure where she's going with this, but he's getting impatient. "Blade is a horrible influence on you, but you learned, in your own time, what I had tried so hard to teach you, initially. And then you were alone..."

"How alone?" She swallows, trying to map out the obvious to him.

That's when his brow quirks, when the realization descends. "You never took a lover...nor a fledgling. Most would."

"I'm not like most people," she sighs, looking away from his gaze and trying to focus on something else.

His hand grabs her chin, his eyes burning through her, "Tell me, Krista, why are you here?"

She smiles, weakly, "For a centuries old vampire, do you really need me to spell things out for you?"

"Yes," he breathes, painfully. "So that I can believe that, this time, it is true, and I am not believing a false assumption of what is not there. I need to hear you say it, Krista. Stay or go, but not without saying it."

She can't say it – even now, the words won't come out, but her feelings are there, threatening to bubble over and claim him. His lips, now more than ever, call to her, so that she closes the distance between them, places her hands on his shoulders and simply moves to kiss him – he meets her halfway, too, so she's not exactly the only one to blame.

She tastes the blood in his mouth, then a flavor belonging only to him; strong, luscious and heavy with so much that all the booze in the world couldn't match it. His hand is in her hair, tangled in it, and her arms are locked around his neck, pulling him impossibly close.

When they depart, it's by her own will, not his, but his eyes remain closed as hers stay open.

"I'm sorry," she whispers, and his eyes flash open as she speaks the words she's never thought to say. "I'm not ready to say it yet doesn't mean it's not true. I just...I can't-" And before she can explain to him how hard it is to admit she loves him – the man who killed her brother, who killed her, who turned her into this, who led to her mother's demise, to everything that brought her unimaginable pain. He kisses her, hands on her cheeks, turning her with him so that her butt meets the desk until she's sitting on top of it.

Clothes are easily discarded, papers thrown all over the floor and, when he claims her – her body, her soul, her blood – she feels more than what she had ever thought to feel.

Perhaps she doesn't have to let him know – maybe this will be enough – and she can stay, with him, this time...for good.