DISCLAIMER: The Hollows and its characters/inhabitants are the property of Kim Harrison. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
A word, a glance, a whisper; they seem like such seemingly innocuous little things, and yet all it takes is one tiny spark to ignite a fire. Our days are made up of minutes and hours, and our lives made up of days, months, years and decades. Yet, despite the large stretches of time that make up who we are, a moment, one small second in all of the seconds that make up our lives, can change everything.
"Hey," I whispered, my voice a little hoarse with sleep, as I looked down into a pair of the biggest, brownest eyes I had ever seen.
I was curled up in Ivy's arm chair with a thick wool blanket wrapped around me, while Ivy herself sat on the floor curled up against the front of the chair with her head leaning against my thigh. It was just past six in the morning, and I should have been in bed sleeping. However, I had suffered one too many demon attacks in too short a period of time, and I couldn't sleep in my unsanctified bedroom. I'd barely wanted to walk in there to get changed for bed, and after lying tensely in bed for twenty minutes in the dark hours before the dawn, I had gotten up and made my way into the safe, sanctified living room where I knew almost nothing could touch me.
As soon as I entered the living room, I'd made straight for Ivy's chair. It wasn't the most comfortable piece of furniture in the room to sleep on, but more than anything else in the church it smelt of Ivy, and Ivy's scent comforted me. Lying curled up in her chair was the closest I'd ever been able to get to being wrapped up in her arms, and I needed the comfort of her scent around me.
I'd been dosing in her chair when Ivy came across me on her way to the kitchen for a glass of water an hour later. She'd missed me on her way to the kitchen or maybe she'd just pretended to but on her way back, she'd stopped in the doorway and leaned against the frame casually, looking impossibly beautiful in her black silk robe.
She observed me for a few seconds and then walked into the living room. She placed her glass of water carefully on a coaster on the coffee table, and then she stretched herself out on the couch. She didn't ask me why I was out there, and I was grateful, just as I was grateful that she was going to stay in the room. I wouldn't have asked her to stay, it wasn't in my character to voice such weakness, but I was glad that she was there and my easy acceptance of her presence let her know that.
We lay near each other silently for a while after that, until Ivy finally said, 'Still awake?' I was, of course, still awake even though I was tired and exhausted to the very core of me, and sighing softly I put my pride aside and murmured, 'Can you come closer?'
She did, and for the past hour and a half I had been sleeping peacefully with Ivy curled up at my feet.
"It's bright," Ivy muttered in response my greeting. Her eyes narrowed trying to block out the sun, and her face scrunched up as she recoiled from the light. It was a very rude awakening for her. I knew that she had her room fitted with very thick drapes, and no light touched her before she permitted it on a normal day.
"The suns rising," I said softly, fascinated by emotions playing across Ivy's features in this rare unguarded moment. I could tell that she wasn't fully awake yet, and caught between sleep and wakefulness she was much more open and unshielded than I had ever seen her before.
"I hate it when it does that," she muttered, her features smoothing out as she adjusted to the light filtering into the room. The sunlight was apparently no longer offensive to her vampire eyes, but she still sounded groggy, and she was blinking at me slowly as if she was trying to get me into focus.
The sight of Ivy at that moment was, precious. A shiver ran through me, and for a moment my vision blurred and the world seemed to spin around me, making me dizzy for a moment before I was able to focus on her once again. When I did, I found that she was no longer blinking, even though she was still watching me. Her pale skin seemed to glow in the new light of morning, and the golden tips of her hair seemed to sparkle in the light.
Something clenched tightly, and then released inside of me, and I felt myself falling forwards as a feeling of warmth washed over me.
I think I was surprised when my lips touched hers, but I wasn't surprised enough to pull away. That warm, tingling part of me had known this was coming, and it overrode my surprised brains instinct to pull away.
I brought my hand to her cheek, cupping it, and pressed my lips against hers more firmly.
Her skin was warm and smooth under my fingertips. It felt nice, and my thumb stroked her cheek as I moved my lips against hers. Her lips were soft, and her mouth was warm, and I liked the feel of her against me. She was a woman, and the skin beneath my fingers was softer and smoother than I was used to. Her lips were plumper, and it was strange to feel the golden iced tips of her hair brushing against my wrist as I held her, but it was nice. I was kissing Ivy, and it was nice.
Emboldened by how pleasant the kiss was, I allowed my tongue to play against her lips, asking for permission to enter. Ivy's response to the first press of my lips against hers had been tentative, but the moment my tongue sought to enter her mouth she parted her lips, and once I was inside of her she began to kiss me back in earnest. Her hand reached up to cup my neck, and as my tongue played against hers, she moaned.
When the need for oxygen forced me to pull away from her, I found that her eyes were black as midnight. I expected to feel a jolt of fear pulse through me at any moment, but I hadn't really been afraid of Ivy's black eyes in months at least not as afraid of them as I had been in that first month we had lived together. I knew that her eyes could be black and she could still be in control of herself, and as her fingers trailed down my neck as she looked up at me with shimmering eyes and parted lips, I knew that she was in control.
"Why?" Ivy asked softly, as her fingers slipped away from me completely and her hand fell into her lap.
Ivy was never one for long speeches, but her question was brief and vague, even for her. I knew what she was asking me however, so I didn't press for clarification. I had denied us physical closeness before, on numerous occasions, and prior to kissing her I hadn't given her any indication that things were about to change. She wanted to know why I had kissed her, and after the way I'd been acting for the year we'd lived together, I couldn't blame her for being confused.
"Because I wanted to," I breathed out truthfully, holding her eyes as I spoke, even though it was difficult. The dark, swirling depths of her eyes where beginning to do wonderful things to my body, but I didn't want my body's reactions to begin to trigger her instincts. She was still my Ivy at the moment, and I wanted to keep her that way. "With every fiber of my being I wanted to," I continued, my voice, little more than a whisper.
Ivy breathed in deeply, and her eyelashes fluttered. I wasn't sure if she was trying to calm herself or scent my emotions.
"What does it mean?" she asked, her black gaze focused intensely on me.
What does it mean? I wondered, my gaze clouding over for a moment as I thought about her question. I had wanted to kiss her, I had become overwhelmed by the desire to kiss her, and so I had. But where did that leave us? What did I want?
I breathed in and closed my eyes, remembering the feel of her skin and her lips. I liked touching her, and I liked feeling her fingers on me. I wanted to do that again. Having kissed her, knowing what it felt like to feel her lips against mine made the idea of not kissing her again unimaginable. I wanted that soft press of damp flesh with her.
My eyes opened, and I looked down at her. I allowed my gaze to travel away from her face however, and lowered my eyes to take in the long, elegant length of her neck, her smooth, delicate collarbone, and then the gentle swell of pale breasts. Sleep and our kiss had loosened Ivy's robe, leaving it partially parted down to her navel. She was wearing a black chemise that clung to her underneath it, pressing against and highlighting areas of her body that I desperately wished I could see. Desire slammed into me at the thought of her, and Ivy's nostrils flared in a way that made my pulse hammer in response. I dropped my eyes further to take in the sight of her long, slim legs, twisting together and followed the length of them until the material of her robe hide the spot where her legs met from my gaze.
I stared at the dark material of the robe and hated it. I wanted to see what was underneath. I wanted to see Ivy.
"I think," I began, my voice cracking in an embarrassing way that anyone who wasn't a twelve year old boy shouldn't have to deal with. "We'll have to find that out together," I continued.
I was a lot of things, and I was discovering more of those things everyday, but I wasn't prescient. I didn't know where this change in our relationship would lead us exactly. I just knew that I couldn't go back to pretending that I didn't want to know what she looked like naked. Things had changed, and we would just have to see where the change would take us.
Ivy watched me for a moment, a thin ring of brown appearing in her eyes as we gazed at each other, and then she reached up tentatively, almost as if she was afraid I would pull away, and brushed the backs of her fingers against my cheek. The touch of her fingers against my flesh was electric, and the frisson of energy that passed through us made me jump slightly. I forced myself to remain still after the initial contact however, and relaxed into the warmth of Ivy's fingers.
I blinked a few seconds later, my eyelashes fluttering as I tried to process what had changed. My mind was slow and heavy with pleasure from Ivy's touch and the soothing pheromones she was no doubt producing, and it took me a moment to realize that she was no longer on the floor, but on the chair with me on top of her.
"Wow," I said smiling, impressed by how fluidly she had managed that. I sounded almost drunk to my own ears, and as I leaned forward and rested my forehead against hers, I wondered if it was possible to get sugared from one vampire's pheromones, even though I knew that wasn't the cause of my light-headedness. My scar was only tingling slightly, whatever pheromones Ivy was producing were the benign soothing kind that did little but make me feel content. The dizzy, electric effect that she was having on me was simply a result of being near her. It wasn't her pheromones, it was just her.
Ivy sighed as we rested against each other like that, and her eyes fluttered closed. I took a moment to study what I could of her features, taking in her exquisite cheekbones, and the alluring heart-shaped wonder of her mouth. Love and affection flood through me, and I wanted to squeeze her and hug her to me with an almost violent intensity. I wanted to clutch her tight enough that she could never escape from me.
"I like looking at you," was what I said however, my soft voice breaking the silence that had descended between us.
Ivy opened her eyes and pulled back from me enough that she could see my face. She stared at me for a moment, and then a sweet smile unlike any other I had ever seen from her before settled on her lips.
"I like looking at you too," Ivy whispered, utterly charming me as a faint blush touched her cheeks. I had never caught Ivy checking me out. I often got the feeling that she was looking at me, my body seeming to tingle where I imagined her gaze was concentrated, but whenever I turned to face her I found her eyes directed somewhere else. It seemed, however, that it was simply that her vampire senses alerted her when I was about to look, giving her enough time to look away.
"It's nice," I said, letting her off of the hook. I had looked at her a lot in the past. I'd told myself my interest was purely academic, but I knew now that there had been more to it than that. I wouldn't tease her for finding me attractive. In fact, I liked that she looked. I stroked her cheek again, focusing my attention on what I was saying. "Touching you," I continued, a soft smile coming to my lips. "It's nice."
I wasn't used to touching a woman that way, but it felt good. It felt right. I felt as if I had touched her this way hundreds of times before, and I wanted to touch her like this a million more times.
Ivy held my gaze for a moment longer, and I thought I detected a hint of wetness shimmering there before she closed her eyes. "It's nice to be touched," Ivy whispered leaning her face into my hand.
I jerked a little, surprised by the longing in Ivy's response. I knew that Ivy got 'touched' two or three times a week. She didn't' talk about her 'dates' and I didn't ask. I'd told myself in the past that if she wanted to talk about it, she would have brought it up, but an ugly feeling always settled in the pit of my stomach when I thought about her out with whoever she was out with, and I realized that I probably didn't ask out of jealousy. I simply didn't want to know because I couldn't deal with the possessive feelings the information would have called up in me.
"But you," I began before I could think better of my response.
Ivy pulled away from me and grasped my hands, holding them gently in hers, the motion cutting off my words.
"Don't say it," Ivy breathed out, pleadingly. "It's not the same," she continued in a ragged tone of voice. "It's not close to being the same," she went on, her eyes dropping away from mine. "I love you," she finished, whispering the words into her lap.
I closed my eyes and wished for a blunt object to pummel myself about the head with. Ivy trusted the people she met with to feed from, but with the exception of Skimmer she had never been dating any of them. They were blood trysts, set up to fulfill a biological need; a need that Ivy was ashamed of, and had tried desperately to ignore for three years. She didn't like having to feed, and she was as ashamed of the ways she met those needs as she was by the need itself. I knew that, and I shouldn't have brought it up.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to " I began, but I realized that saying more would make the situation worse, and instead of continuing to speak I simply wrapped my arms around her and hugged her. "I love you too," I breathed out into the dark curtain of her hair.
When we pulled away from each other, Ivy was looking at me with an almost shell-shocked expression on her face.
"Do you?" she asked, wonder and disbelief in her tone as she stared at me.
"Of course I do!" I exclaimed, staring at her with wide eyes, genuinely surprised by the question. She had to know how much I cared about her, didn't she? "Of course," I repeated forcing myself to calm a little as she blinked at me. "I've told you that before," I breathed out, cupping her cheek again. "Stupid vampire," I muttered as tears formed in my eyes. "Of course I love you. You're my home, Ivy."
"I thought you were being polite," Ivy murmured, her eyes falling away from mine as she spoke, though her hand drifted up to cup the one I held against her face, pressing my hand more tightly against her.
I blinked at her owlishly. "Polite?" I choked out wetly a moment later. "Ivy," I said holding her face firmly between my hands. "I never would have said that if I didn't mean it," I continued. I was confused as to just what the nature of that love was, but I never doubted that I loved her. In fact, my love for her, my need of her was one of the only constants in my life over the past year. At times I felt like my love for her was the only thing keeping me together figuratively and literally. "Besides," I went on, my lips curving up into a small smile, "you know I try my hardest to be as impolite as possible."
A wash of relief flooded over Ivy's features, the emotion so strong that I a felt a sympathetic unclenching of tension within myself. She breathed in deeply a few times, and then she surged forward and kissed me.
A soft sound escaped from me and I clutched at her, as her lips moved against mine. This kiss was much more passionate than the ones we had shared earlier. The fire that anxiousness and uncertainty had kept as mere embers was now burning brightly, and as Ivy deepened the kiss, I moaned into her tangled my fingers in her dark hair.
After spending a long time exploring my mouth, Ivy's lips slipped from mine and she began to lay kisses across my jaw, and then began to make her way down to my throat. My scar began to tingle, and I clutched at her, holding her against me tightly.
Her hand slipped under my worn Loony Toons t-shirt, and her fingers began to lightly trail up my spine in the most delicious way. I arched into the touch, and moved my hands to Ivy's face, forcing her lips away from neck so that I could kiss them again.
When we pulled back, my breath was coming in ragged pants and I discovered that Ivy was standing with me cradled in her arms.
"Bedroom?" Ivy asked, her tone, almost shy despite the heat of her inky gaze. "The sun's up," she added a moment later as if suddenly remembering why we were in the living room in the first place.
My eyes drifted past her to the hallways that led to our bedrooms. I knew what would happen if we retired there, and the thought of it made me shiver. I had only the vaguest idea what two women did in bed together, but I'd only had a vague idea what a boy and girl did together before my first time as well, and that had worked out alright.
I returned my gaze to Ivy's, and holding her eyes I nodded, a smile that threatened to split my face following the decision. Ivy smiled back, the tips of her fangs showing as she looked at me, and I felt a thread of excitement weave through me. I lifted my hand, running my fingers through her hair for a few seconds, and then I leaned down and pressed my lips against hers. We started to move again as I kissed her, and I admired Ivy's ability to multi-task, and wondered what other things she was good at doing at the same time.
A glance, one pair of impossibly brown eyes blinking up at me; that was all it took. Such a seemingly innocuous thing, and yet all it took was that one tiny spark to ignite a fire. Our days are made up of minutes and hours, and our lives made up of days, months, years and decades. Yet, despite the large stretches of time that make up who we are, a moment, one small second in all of the seconds that make up our lives, can change everything.
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