Bones might be slightly OOC, more so toward the end, but I really wanted to capture the overall emotion of the scene, and that required a little of creative license

I heard her the moment the plane shut off, talking as quietly as I had ever heard her with someone. My insides burned with rage when I heard the reply. Tepesh. Damn show dog; he was with my wife. I was already inside, heading in the direction of the voices, when I paused. I could hear Kitten's thoughts, and they were…less than pleased.

Fuck, not fast enough. I changed the damn flight for a reason. Fucking pilot. Oh well, maybe Vlad was right. We might as well resolve this now.

"About time," muttered the other vampire.

I caught the undercurrent of sadness, of pain, in her mind before her mental walls slammed into place, leaving me briefly disoriented, as they always did.

She had been the one to change the flight? Of course she had. Why was I surprised? I shouldn't have expected anything else. I resumed my pace, all but sprinting to the room I knew she was in.

"It's about time," the show dog repeated. A slight thump followed those words, followed by an amused chuckle. "Violent woman, aren't you?" Another thump. "Calm down. It will be fine."

A long sigh.

"Your definition of fine must be different than mine, Vlad."

I pushed into the room just as Vlad put his hand over Kitten's. I barely held myself where I was. As it were, I'm sure that my eyes had flashed bright green, and I felt my fangs rubbing against my tongue. Kitten had been fiddling with something in her hand; when I came in, her hand clenched around it. Behind the desk sat Donald. At his shoulder stood Cooper. The old man stood up when I entered.

"You were not given clearance to la—"

"Sod off," I interrupted. My eyes were on Cat's left hand, the one that had clenched into a fist. She followed my gaze and moved her fist from my line of sight.

"Why are you here?" Tepesh was the one to break the mounting silence, and I bristled.

"I'm here for my wife, show dog," I snarled.

"You have no wife."

Her voice was fat and cold. I froze.

"Excuse me?"

She blinked. Her face was hard; the achingly familiar expressionless mask, that tormented me every time she wore it.

"You have no wife. Isn't that what you told Fabian?"

I relaxed. That much, at least, I could explain.

"I was lying, pet," I told her, stepping forward. "I was already being watched. I couldn't give myself away by passing messages to you through Fabian. The same went for the whole Cannell mess. All I did was take her and various other women to my home, and drank them and green-eyed them into thinking they'd had quite the night. After they were unconscious, all I had to do was strip them and put them in bed together, and their minds came to their own conclusions."

I made to touch her arm, but she brushed me away, and my stomach lurched. A bitter scent hung around her, a mixture of both sadness and of anger, however well she hid her thoughts.

"That's a shame," she said in that same bland voice. "Because if you thought celibacy under the pretense of cheating would earn you any points, you're sadly mistaken."

She and Tepesh rose to their feet simultaneously. Her fisted hand remained on the desk; the other still held the show dog's.

"'Bye, Bones."

Her hand left the desk, and she moved to brush past me. My arm shot out, stopping her, and Tepesh stiffened.

"You are not leaving without me, Kitten," I growled. "Not yet."

She laughed without mirth. It sounded like breaking glass to me, compared with her other, true laughter, and it frightened me more than I would care to admit.

"You left me, Crispin." She spat my name out as though a foul taste accompanied it. "Not the other way around."

The hot, bitter scent was beginning to rise, and she tried to shove past me, but I did not budge. It didn't escape my notice that her hands trembled ever so slightly, and there was a distinctive shine to her eyes.

"Let us through, mate," Tepesh rumbled. I didn't spare him so much as a glance. Cat was glaring furiously at me, her stormy gray eyes laced with green. I couldn't help my reaction at having her so close. Warmth started to creep through me, coiling dangerously low in my abdomen. In my peripheral vision, the old Romanian prince's scowl deepened.

"Don't bother with the green eyes," she snapped, and suddenly quite a different hot, burning pain sliced through my stomach.

Caught off guard, I winced slightly, and looked down. One of her silver knives was buried in my abdomen. Without showing how much that stung, I jerked it out. Tepesh gave a loud, unconvincing cough that surely hid laughter.

Wanker, I thought irrelevantly.


"Don't call me that," she snarled, and her cool façade cracked at last.

First anger, then hurt, then overwhelming agony flashed across her face, through her mental walls. Briefly I glimpsed her recent sleepless nights, felt how her throat had ached, how her heart had as well. She took a shaky breath and hastily resurrected her shields, mending them. Her face cleared of any traitorous thought or emotion. But those steely eyes remained open books.

"Out of the way," growled Tepesh.

"Bite me show dog!" I snapped.

"Be careful what you wish for," he warned.

"Enough!" Cat snapped, slapping both of us on our chests. "That's more than enough from both of you! The last thing I need to deal with right now is a pissing contest between the two of you! Vlad, we're leaving. Bones, let us out. Now."

I didn't move, and she pushed a hand through her hair in aggravation. I remembered how it felt to slide my own fingers through those crimson locks.

"Damnit, Bones. You can argue til you're blue in the face—so, forever—but we are leaving."

"Not until we talk," I said softly.

"There's nothing to talk about," she replied. "I already tried that, remember? I begged you, I pleaded with you not to leave, at least until we talked. But it looks to me like you were one hundred percent right. There's nothing to say that would change anything. I made a mistake, believing I was doing the only thing I could. There are two things I know how to do; protect, and kill. I thought I was protecting you, and all of the others. I thought you were in trouble, because you'd neglected to tell me something of rather grave importance. But, nonetheless, I made a mistake. And of course, you got pissed. And you left. End of fucking story."

I stared at her, and this was one of those rare moments in my long life when I had absolutely no words to utter.

"Cat…Maybe you should listen to—"

"I'm through listening!" Kitten cried in exasperation.

The bittersweet scent of grief crested over me in a huge wave as she lost her shaky hold on her emotions. Her face cracked, and again her thoughts danced across it. Her shields, however, remained intact.

"I am fucking tired of hearing and seeing things and having to wonder every damn time whether or not they're true! I've had enough of that from my family. I don't need that in any of my other relationships as well!"

"You still don't trust me," I murmured, hurt.

There was a dull ache in the back of my throat, one that had nothing to do with blood. She gave another harsh laugh.

"Imagine that," she snorted, but her anger was half-hearted. She just looked very, very weary. "I wish I could Bones, I really do, but I just can't."

I snorted contemptuously, anger flaring up inside me for the first time.

"One little farce. Just one act is all it takes for you to lose faith in me?" I demanded.

"For starters, that's all it took for you to lose faith in me," Cat retorted, and now her anger was building as well. "And you weren't acting when you left! That also wasn't the first time you'd tried something like that."

"When did I ever—"

"Felicity. Cannell. When I left the first time and you munched on Annett. When you realized that Gregor's blood could break Mencheres' damn mind-lock thing. Need I go on?"

Tepesh let out a low whistle.

"You're quite the misler, aren't you?" he mocked.

I lunged. I couldn't help it. Fury consumed me, and shame clawed at me, destroying my sense of reason. She was right. Completely and totally justified in her anger and her hurt. And that buried me in all of those negative emotions that never fail to bring out the worst in a man. And so I attacked Tepesh. Cat shrieked in rage; Don and Cooper swore, lunging as far away as the room would allow; Tepesh ignited and threw me off.

"Bones! Stop it!" Cat shouted, leaping between us. She brandished another knife. Tepesh stood across the room, forearms pulsing with scarlet flames.

"Kitten, step aside," I growled.

"No, Bones. And quite calling me that," she answered. "This is enough from you."

Cat shouldered past me and stood by the doorway, watching the former Romanian prince with a cold expression. The fire on Tepesh's arms sputtered out, and he preceded her out of the door without so much as a backward glance. I turned numbly to watch them. The show dog was already out of sight in the hall, but Cat lingered. She stood there, watching me with such a sorrowful expression that shame welled up inside me once again, closing my throat.

"Kitten…" I whispered.

"You were right, Bones," she sighed, equally soft.

"Right?" I repeated. I realized what she meant only when her thoughts once more leaked through her shields. She nodded, lifted her left hand, and uncurled her fingers.

"You were right. You have no wife."

She tipped her palm, and as that small object, the one that she'd been concealing from me, slid from it, she turned and was gone. I watched, agony tearing through me that was far worse than a thousand silver knives, as the delicate golden ring fell to the carpeted floor. The red diamond glinted mockingly in the harsh light of the office.