The Secret History of Vampires – Part 4

The redhead stood in front of the burned down house, staring at where the boarding house used to stand. It was ashes and tumbled down bricks streaked with darkness. Here and there bits of furniture remained, a part of the loveseat from the parlor, a part of the dining table that she had sat at.

Katiya stood in front of what was left of Madame Ouellette’s house, confused. When had this happened? What had happened to the other women who had worked in the factories there?

“Excuse me miss, do you need help?”

She blinked, turning to the man who stood nearby, watching her with sympathy. “Did you know old lady Oullette?”

“Is she dead?”

He took that for an invitation and stepped closer and immediately stepped back when Vidar growled. He adjusted his hat, a nervous twitch she guessed.

“Yes, it was horrible of course. A gas leak the police said.”

She didn’t believe that at all.

“And the other girls?”

“Just the old lady they said.”

Katiya nodded, ignoring his offer of coffee and started down around the ruins of the house calling her thanks over her shoulder. He might have followed her except that the white haired dog stopped, turning to look at him as if he knew what he was thinking.

“She died because of me Vidar.” She said, walking quickly. “Someone came after me and killed her.” This was a new thing for Katiya, an unpleasant thing. She had to find out whom, although she already thought she knew.

There was someone who would know, these back alleys always had eyes, even if people didn’t see them.

“Hey!” She called out, spotting one of those sets of eyes. The grubby kid froze, half in the trash he was searching through for food. One of the masses, who lived in the city, the cast off of a modern society that prized nothing but productivity.

“I need information.” A flash of a coin in her hand coaxed him close enough, although he stood trembling, ready to flee at the slightest suggestion of trouble.

“Wha kind?” He spoke with a lisp. Something, or more probably, someone had scarred the right side of his face bad enough that it twisted his upper lip.

“Anyone see what happened to the house that burned?”

He didn’t have to look at where she was pointing to know what she was talking about.

“Yeah.” His eyes were fastened on the coin. She flicked it over to him, holding up another before he could disappear with it.

“What do you know?”

He scrubbed a grimy cheek. “A big fella came out, then it burned.”

“How big?”


Boris, then that meant Ivan had been involved. She tossed him the other coin watching him run away down the alley. “Boris and Ivan again.” Katiya said to an uncaring Vidar. Turning she moved back out into the street, continuing on the way she’d been going before her sudden desire to go in front of her old home.

“She was an annoying old woman, but she let me stay there, she didn’t have to do that.” Katiya clenched her fists, angry again; at the two men whom she had no doubt had killed the old woman. “I don’t know how Vidar, but I’m going to pay them back for all the pain they’ve caused.”

It wasn’t that much farther down the city streets before she found what she sought. The paupers graves were in a bad part of the city, surrounded on all sides by derelict factories whose empty gaping windows always made her shiver. There was no grave marker of course; neither she nor her father had been able to afford such a thing, just a small wooden epitaph that she’d carved herself. There were thousands of such little grave markers throughout the cemetery.

“Hi Papa.” She kneeled next to his grave, ignoring the dirt and mud.

Behind her Vidar yawned, a long tongue licking his chops as he lay down.

“I’m sorry I haven’t visited more. A lot of things have changed.” She hesitated, trying to phrase her words as she absently patted the dirt. “I swore I’d try to stay out of the shadows, and I tried Papa, just like you wanted. I got a job at one of the factories. I hated it Papa, but it was better than being forced to sell my body or work for Ivan.”

She paused, swallowing past a lump in her throat. “I really miss you Papa.” She whispered. Shaking her head she brushed away tears angrily. “I said I wouldn’t cry and I won’t.” A deep breath and she could talk again without the threat of tears.

“I’m not working there anymore though. Now I work, or live at least, at this manor for this woman called Alexei. I think you’d like her Papa. She’s dangerous, like the panther we saw that one summer at that travel circus. But I don’t think she’ll hurt me, not on purpose, and she’s nice to me. She even has one of her other servants teaching me how to read and write.” It was silly to avoid telling a dead man that Alexei was a vampire, but even so, Katiya didn’t want to worry him in whatever place he now was. “I’ll be back soon Papa and I’ll bring flowers next time. Those red ones that you said always reminded you of Mama.”

She bent, kissing the simple wood marker and brushed absently at the mud stains on her dress. “All right Vidar, now we can go.”

It was getting dark, she’d be cutting it close getting back to the Manor as it was and Alexei had been gone for two days already. She should be due back soon.


The carriage pulled up to the massive house it was early in the morning but with the pollution and winter the sun was nowhere to be seen yet. The carriage driver quickly got down and opened the door and kicked down the metal stairs.  She held out an arm to help the travelers down.  First came smirking Sergei and Molly, with practically a spring to their steps, next a shaken looking Shiro and a sullen Stepan.  Without looking back Sergei and Molly made for the front doors.

            Last to emerge was pale and grim-faced Alexei.  Every step was pain, every shallow breath was mind numbing.  She might have little respect for Karl, but she did respect his ability to cause pain.  With the help of the driver and a cane she was able to get down.  Walking to the house her feet felt like they were on fire the pain crawled up her legs.

Lyov waited patiently, door held open, he said nothing merely shutting out the coming of a new day behind her.  The cane echoed hollowly on the tile floor as she moved, stopping she studied those around her:  Stepan and Shiro stood, silent heads down.  Sergei and Molly were moving up the stairs their body language clear.

Matvey stood wide-eyed in a door way and lurking in the shadows of another were the twins.  She inhaled smelling Lyov, Warren, and… there was a small down turn of her lips no Katiya.  The breath was slowly exhaled.  “Sergei…” The voice was quiet, commanding, and on the stairs the young Cossack stilled.  She could see the play of muscles in his legs and back.  He didn’t want to stop he wanted to prove he was a master.

“Molly, go to your rooms.  Sergei, come here!”  The last part was barked out like a master to a disobedient dog.

His eyes flashing he turned marching down the stairs, there was a sneer on his lips, and arrogantly he lifted his head high.  When he got close he opened his mouth to shout defiant words.

Instead the words were lost as his jaw was dislocated from the uppercut swing of the cane.  With a quick flick of her wrist changing the position of her hand on the polished metal she changed direction bringing the cane swinging back, hitting the man in the face again shattering his jaw.

Blood sprayed against the walls and floor and the thickly built man staggered around for a moment before getting his barrings.  Gurgling he tried to curse at her, but only more blood sprayed out.

“It has come to my attention I have been to lax lately in how I rule this household.  This changes today!  What made you think it was okay to take what was mine?  To sully my pet with your touch?”  The words were roared out; powerful they seemed to shake the very foundation of the house.  In a blur of movement the cane came lashing out again smashing through the muscle, bones and tendons of his left knee.  With a wet, muffled howl Sergei landed heavily on the tile.

The pain of her injuries and the smell of blood thick in the air were combining together inside her causing a very dangerous beast to awaken.  Her teeth lengthened and her gray eyes started to burn red.  Rage coursed through her making her forget her own pain and she lashed out over and over again.  Kicking Sergei’s crippled body until he was nothing but a bloody meaty lump.

“Mistress…” Stepan whispered trying to get her to calm down, not certain Sergei’s death was what she really wanted.  Instead the puckish man found himself tossed into the wall his words cut off.

Everyone else went still unsure what to do. This was a sight they had never seen perhaps maybe Fiona, but she was locked away.

Molly laughed and laughed until tears came down her face.  “I knew you were no better than the rest. There’s the beast I knew lurked in your breast.”  She collapsed on the stairs.

Luckily for the cackling woman Alexei’s attention was brought back to the hurt vampire as he tried to crawl away, and again her rage was unleashed on his body.

Katiya was running back to the house, Vidar at her heels.  A driving need that burned in her blood urged her on.  She didn't know why, she just knew she had to be home - now.

The gates swung soundlessly open as she approached and after they ran through them they swung soundlessly closed.  The two stone gargoyles on top staring out with hollow stone eyes.

They ran up the cobble drive to the front door and Lyov was knowingly opening it for them.

The sound of the door opening stopped Alexei from another powerful kick to Sergei's broken body.

All eyes focused on the redheaded woman.

The silence was brutally heavy hanging in the room waiting to burst in action.

Alexei's foot came down resting on the ground.   She pivoted her attention wholly affixed on the woman.  "Katiya."  She breathed out feeling some of her rage deflate.  Her eyes started to lose their redness.  She took a step and then another everyone and everything else forgotten.

Everyone else nearly visibly sagged in relief, thinking the storm was over.

"I've missed...” Her nose twitched.  Another scent coming off the young woman.  Her rage came back burning through her.  Faster than anyone could blink her hand lashed out fisting in the shirt Katiya wore.  "You whore!"  She snarled, growling out the words like a large jungle cat. Effortlessly she lifted Katiya up and slammed her back into the wall unconcerned with the moan of pain that escaped pink lips.

"You smell of that woman again.  Did I not say you were mine?!" Were all in her household so unfaithful. "I can smell her stink upon you."

Her other hand made a fist and with a howl she drew it back and then forward.  At the last minute her hand moved a fraction of an inch smashing into the wall next to Katiya's head. 

"I am surrounded by laziness and traitors.  None of you are worthy of my blood!"  Her body was wracked with pain both physical and emotional.  How had she let herself become like this? Was it not yesterday that human tribes had prayed to her, hoping to call down her powers of vengeance on unsuspecting enemies.  Hadn't she been the Butcher of Budapest? Now she was no better than a human king waking to find the coup at his bedroom door, weak, old, and alone.

Howling out her rage she pulled out her hand to swing it again at the primary focus of her pain. An immovable object grabbed her hand.

Turning she blinked in surprise, seeing a pale skinned man holding her hand.  "Vidar what are you doing?  Let go."

The large Nordic man looked grim.  "You gave up that right to her."  He jerked his chin in Katiya's direction.  "And gave me the command to protect. So I'll protect her, even from you."

The vampire ripped her hand out of the Hellhound’s grip, her other hand letting go of Katiya's shirt.  Her eyes narrowed and with a growl she attacked the naked man.

Vidar grinned and gave a growl of his own.

They hit each other with quick brutal blows.  They were a blur of pale flesh and dark cloth.  There was quick shove followed by a savage uppercut that sent Alexei flying back into the stair banister.

Molly gave a squeal and scampered further up the stairs.

 The wood snapped and splintered under the force of action and her weight. The jagged bottom rails gouged up through clothing into the flesh.

Alexei's eyes opened wide as pain registered through her system. Her mouth opened and she released a scream of agony.  She tried to scramble up and off the wood but her body was done, from the abuses heaped on her by Karl to her beating of Sergei and then this fight with Vidar.  Her body gave out.

"Don't get up, Mistress.  Just stop.  Please stop this." The hound pleaded.

Alexei coughed blood splattering her lips.  Her mouth opened and closed a few times only a ghostly breath whisped out.  Finally she gasped out.  "Help me up."

Vidar looked at her uncertain and then looked to Stepan in question.

Stepan shook himself feeling as if he were waking from a dream.  His gaze darted around the room taking in the damage and shocked look on faces.  "Right." He said shakily, and then paused to clear his throat.  He could smell her blood see how it pooled under her body.  What had happened he wasn't sure?  Chaos, the end of the world, he wasn't sure but he'd never seen his Mistress look like this.

"Quickly Stepan, she's bleeding heavily."  The strange pale man snapped at him.

He bristled but then saw how her eyes were closed now, as if sleeping.  "Fuck.  Upstairs, take her upstairs to her rooms."  God he wished Fiona were here.  "Niki and Nada!"

In a blur twin shadows were there they both short and thin, barely contained bundles of energy, the twins looked at him blue piercing eyes through dark bangs.  Their eyes were wild, eyes you would see looking at you from shadows in the forest.

"Take Sergei and chain him in his rooms.  I don't want him loose and triggering her rage again."

They looked down at the bloody lump on the floor in question wondering where the hell he was going to go, but nodded and scooped up his limp form.


The young man entered his head down.

"Take Molly and Shiro to their rooms, make sure they don't leave."

"What about...” He looked over at Katiya.

Stepan's face went cold.  "She can rot in the cold for all I care."  He wasn't certain what she had done, but whatever it was had hurt his Mistress.

The young looking vampire swallowed but then went to gather up Shiro and Molly.

"Lyov get rid of..."

The unpleasant looking man cut him off.  "I will not kick her out, you are merely playing at being Lord of the Manor, but you are not Lord.  Whatever the problem between Katiya and the Mistress it is their problem, not yours."  The troll like man sniffed.  He turned looking at Katiya.  "Miss, the bath is drawn upstairs.  I would take one and wash whatever smell it was that set her off and then see to the Mistress, if I'm not mistaken Molly and Shiro are in no shape to give blood."

Stepan's mouth opened and closed again.  "How..."

"Stepan, it is close to dawn.  Go rest, I will keep you apprised of any problems."

Lyov walked over to Katiya seemingly to appear out of nowhere in his hands he handed her a medicine kit and a bottle filled with something that might have been red wine.  "She'll need these.  Remember to bathe, and to be brave."

Her hands moved, in a daze she felt herself take them. She had never seen, had never imagined seeing Alexei like that. She started towards the stairs unsteadily. Stepan was nearby, glaring at her, but she ignored him, focused only on the task that was at hand.

Quickly she leapt up those stairs, cursing the dress she wore that slowed her down. As fast as she could she was out of it, leaving it in a pile somewhere on the bathroom floor. All she cared about was the image of Alexei crumpled; the look in her eyes as she’d stared at Katiya.

Betrayal. That’s what that look had been.

The water was hot and scalding and Katiya welcomed it, scrubbing hard until her skin was almost as red as her hair. She’d betrayed Alexei.

More hot water to rinse then she threw on the bathrobe that was hanging inside the door and ran shaking hands through her hair, smoothing it out of her face. She was scared, her stomach twisted in knots. Strangely she wasn’t scared of Alexei; she was scared of messing things up again. Of doing something that would cause that look in the blonde woman’s eyes again. Soul crushing betrayal, which had stared out at her from bleak eyes.

For a moment all she could do was lean against the doorway, shuddering, fearing that she was not up to this task that she had set herself to.

She could run away, flee into the city. With the gold that Alexei had given her earlier, what little was left, she could leave this city, and go somewhere else. She’d always heard stories about the British and their city of London, or maybe Paris, the beautiful decadent city of Napoleon.

But even as she thought it, she knew she couldn’t run away, not from Alexei. Somewhere during the past few days she’d started to care about the other woman. The redhead had tried to put it down to the blood bond that now existed between them.

Now though, standing shivering in the door of the bathroom, water still dripping from her wet hair, scared to go face the vampire, she knew the truth. She cared deeply, maybe even loved her. A strangled sound somewhere between a laugh and a sob came from deep inside.

So this was what all those other silly girls in the boarding house had spent hours talking about. This feeling that they had so hoped a handsome man would feel in return for them. She couldn’t shake imagining what the black clad priests would say about such a feeling for a woman who was also a blood sucking fiend as they saw it.

No, there would be no running from this.

She dried her face, not sure when the tears had started.

So be it. This was her burden to bear then. She had to make this right somehow.

Hoping she seemed braver then the terror she felt, she walked into the bedroom.

Vidar and Stepan were there in the bedroom, from the tone of their body language they were arguing.

"I'm not leaving.  You and that whore you're protecting should go."

Vidar pushed Stepan back, out of his face.  "You do not rule here.  Unless that is what you want.  Don't think that I didn't fail to notice, you are the only one to comeback unscathed from Karl's."

"Don't you dare, I was there when they tortured her.  He had his children hold me down, and then a few of them took Shiro and made us watch. She was stronger than us all."  He pointed at Alexei who was unconscious on the bed, "She broke the chains and went to her rescue.  Killed two of them before that bastard Timur dragged her back to the fire. I was too weak to protect her then, but I can protect her now."

Vidar sighed. "Stepan let it go.  This isn't there, she's safe, no one in this room means her harm. Especially not the girl.  And whatever transgressions did occur tonight they are between Katiya and Alexei, they don't concern you.  Now go."  He pushed the other man again, but more gently.


"Go Stepan."

Katiya stood aside, silent, watching the two men, the medicine that Lyov had given her still held in one hand.

Stepan growled in frustration and marched out of the room.

"Thank you Vidar." The look that Stepan sent her way left no doubt about her status in his eyes.

Vidar watched him go. He turned unconcerned with his nakedness, "Katiya, its okay now, he's gone."

She nodded, moving closer to the bed and the still figure on it. Blood had drenched the sheets and she couldn't tell if Alexei was aware. "I need to help her." She tried to make sure her voice didn't waver.

He smiled at her. "Its okay. Nothing has been done that can't be undone."

"I'm not so sure of that." was her quiet reply as she carefully sat down on the edge of the bed. "Alexei?"

"Let's see to her wounds then. What do you have there?"

Getting no response from Alexei she held up the bottle that Lyov had given her downstairs. "Medicine, at least that's what Lyov said."

Vidar took the bottle and cracked the top sniffing. "Yeah this will help. Get her shirt open."

It said a lot, Katiya decided as she opened Alexei's shirt, that she was so calmly taking orders from a naked man who could change shape into a white hound. The wounds across Alexei's body were vicious and she grimaced, trying to be as gentle as she could when peeling away the fabric from the blood stained flesh.

"What should I do?" A human would have been dead long ago.

There were holes in her flesh ragged, jagged things. That looked like they were trying healing but couldn't. He poured the contents of the bottle over the wounds.

"It’s her own blood apparently she's been planning for such a horrible occasion." He said softly as he watched the wound bubble and slowly re-knit together.

"Tonight's not your fault, remember that. Her rage was already out of control before we came into the picture." He set the bottle down and grabbed her boots and tried to tug them off her feet.

She didn't believe that, not really, wouldn't unless Alexei said it. "Thank you for stopping her." Katiya watched the vampires face, searching for any sign of consciousness.

Alexei's mouth opened and she gave a wordless cry as the damaged skin on her feet tore and broke open as the leather of the boot scraped against them. He winced in sympathy at her feet. The skin was blackened and burned, and now cracked letting blood ooze out.

"Stepan mentioned Karl tortured them." He said quietly. "She never was good at having a master." Sighing he said. "Let’s see the whole picture, get the rest of her clothes off so we can see what the damage is."

He made quick efficient work in cutting away the rest of the Master Vampire’s clothes.

Alexei was mixture of burns from fire and holy water as well as bruising from fists, on top of the most recent wounds from the fight with Vidar.

Katiya just stared sadly at the wounds. “Will she need more blood?”

He looked up at her wondering where her mind was. "She might."

"Then I should give her more." Was her simple answer as she bared her arm from the warmth of the bathrobe.

The big man reached out stopping her. "Wait a second. I'm here to protect you, and I'm not letting you anywhere near her fangs until you're in a better frame of mind."

"But she needs it doesn't she?" She wriggled the arm out of the sleeve, shivering a little, but not because of the cold.

He looked up sharply. "Maybe, maybe not. But right now you're feeling guilty for something you don't understand. I think you might let her take too much to ease your conscious."

That thought had crossed her mind. "What if you pull me away before she takes too much?"

"No, I won't be in the room when you two work things out. I'll be sleeping in front of the door to keep out any nosey vampires." He took the bottle and poured the last little cupful onto her feet smiling as he saw a slight improvement.

"Oh." She blinked, but waited, watching as the slow healing started its work over the wounds on her body. "She's not going to be happy." That probably was an understatement.

"No, but its not all you. She was hurt, and Sergei obviously did something to set her off but...” He looked at the bed uncomfortable. Getting up he walked away from Alexei and the bed motioning her over to him.

Worried, she slipped the cloth robe on and moved over, anxious to hear what he had to say. "What?"

"Katiya I like you, your penchant for getting into trouble has made me feel more needed and alive than I have in centuries. But you did several things you knew she wouldn't like. Things she told you not to do. Yes, she's going to be unhappy. Plus, there's your crush on Tereza, I get it she's fun and exciting in a small-minded, ‘everything I don't understand is immoral and evil’ sort of way. But you belong to her." He pointed at the bed. "She's never going to let you go, vampires are worse than humans about that sort of thing."

"I don't..." The denial died on her lips as she blinked, considering Tereza. Okay, maybe she had a crush, a small one on the vampire hunter. Just another fact to bring to the table. "Thank you, again. I'll try to be better." It was going to be hard though, she was pretty sure they both knew that.

He laughed, "No you won't, its who you are. You're like the God Loki, the bringer of change and chaos." His eyes narrowed and he really saw her red hair. "You know Loki was the only Norse god with red hair it was a sign of evil and destruction."

Her eyes narrowed. "I'm not evil." She ignored the destruction part. "Has it been long enough now?" She nodded towards where Alexei lay, trying to change the conversation.

Vidar frowned. "I didn't mean to imply you were evil."

"Good, because I'm not." She was pretty sure she wasn't. A little on the morally flexible side, but that wasn't the same as evil, at least she didn't think so. "Thank you. For all of the help."

He nodded and started back to the bed. He wasn't certain how aware Alexei was but these weren't words he wanted her to hear. "You have a medical kit. Can you handle the rest of her injuries?" He asked more concerned she would do something stupid.

"I know what to do with bandages." She answered, trailing along behind him to the side of the bed. Alexei's looked a little better but she was still deadly white. "I'll be fine. Don't worry."

He looked at her then the bed. "Do me a favor?"

She nodded, cautiously.

"Get in the bed with her." At the look he received he sighed. "I'm not talking sex. Just get in the bed next to her."

She raised an eyebrow at that, but said nothing, eyeing him doubtfully. When he didn't seem to be making a joke, she lifted the covers and slid into the bed next to the still form of the vampire.

He asked. "Did you notice what just happened?"

She went still, turning to study Alexei, not sure what she was looking for. "What?"

"No matter what she says or does remember this." He crouched down. "Vampires are, when asleep more dangerous than when awake. They will lash out ripping the throat of people who are near them when asleep if they feel threatened. She wants you here with her."

Katiya swallowed. Another lesson on something that she didn't know about vampires that could have been dangerous. "I'll remember."

He nodded and in an odd reversal patted her on top of the head before getting up and heading to the door.

"That is one strange man, er, dog guy." She frowned, then shrugged, giving up on trying to figure him out. There were more important things. Carefully she grabbed the open bag of bandages and started to wrap the worst of the visible wounds, removing the last of the blood stained clothes. "I'm sorry Alexei. I'm sorry someone did this to you." She was as gentle as she could be, wincing with every imagined hurt.


It was late in the afternoon when the vampire rose up into consciousness.

Katiya lay curled up on her side, facing the vampire, breathing slow and even, having fallen asleep waiting for Alexei to heal enough that she could wake up.

Even for a vampire she was pale, the snake tattoo seemed to glow green against her white flesh.

There was someone nearby; the slow regular beat of a heart was maddening.

Hunger consumed her overriding pain and daylight hours. Her eyes snapped open the pupils dilated focusing on the ceiling of her room.

Heat -warmth next to her, the rush of blood under the skin. Memories floated distant in her mind, she ignored them and rolled over on her side facing the source of food.

Something caused Katiya to stir, a change in the room around her. Sleepily she rubbed at eyes that didn't want to open and focused on the injured vampire, seeing eyes open. "Alexei?" The look in those eyes made her shiver. Hunger.

"You should go." Her hunger was sharp and painful, she didn't trust herself. "I don't think I'm safe."

"I won't leave you to suffer here." She'd need blood, from someone, if not Katiya. "I trust you." she whispered, shifting closer.

Her eyes never left the juncture where Katiya's neck and shoulder met. The pulse of blood beating there was teasing her. "You shouldn't trust me. Shouldn’t trust any of us. We're all just monsters." But she didn't move she wasn't that noble or strong.

"But I do trust you." Ever so carefully, as if reaching towards a dangerous wild animal, she held out her hand, baring the wrist as she lightly touched Alexei's face, caressing. "I'm sorry I disobeyed you."

The vampire heard the words but said nothing, she would clarify when her wits weren't so scattered. She ignored the wrist, it was to delicate, requiring nibbles and shallow cuts so as not to damage the fine bones and tendons found there.

But she enjoyed the touch it was soothing and welcomed since the last touch she'd had, had been the violence of Karl's.

When that seemed to go all right, Katiya shifted closer, moving so that she could share her warmth with the cold body that had lied next to her during the past few hours. "Tell me what you need." She whispered.

She moved slowly even by human standards, she moved and straddled Katiya's smaller body. Her gray eyes peered down at Katiya's blue ones before she was distracted by the glimpse of flesh by the robe. "I need the pain to go away. I need the half-remembered memories of the last few days to settle in my mind and make sense, but most of all right now, I need you." She said quietly as her cool hands undid the tie of the robe.

The body below those elegant hands shivered, goosebumps rose across her skin and Katiya wanted that more than anything else. Her hands touched the naked skin above her, gentle and careful around the wounds that were still numerous. The robe fell open and Katiya shrugged the fabric off her shoulders, baring white skin. "I'm yours." She stated, reiterating the last thing Alexei had said before her trip.

"A brave mouse indeed." She whispered. Her breathing hitched as she moved the burns from the holy water stretching and pulling on her back. Her body slid down Katiya’s as her arms rested on either side of the woman's head. "Your mine, as long as you want to be." She could feel her fangs prick into her bottom lip. Somehow she maintained control.

She kissed the young woman’s forehead and cheek, and then down her neck. Alexei’s lips stopped; pressed against the pulse point.

It was better than she remembered from the bath, that touch of skin on skin. The press of lips against her neck caused her body to press up against Alexei's, her head turning to the side, offering herself. She didn't feel brave; she felt a thrill of excitement, a little fear, and arousal.

Alexei couldn't deny her beast any longer, it wanted blood, and so she bit into the skin. Her fangs digging into the skin and muscle barely she resisted the animal like urge to tear the skin away and feast.

The pain was sharp and piercing, but over almost before she could register it. Her hands grabbed at Alexei's back, feeling the strong smooth muscle beneath that usually flawless skin. Then she relaxed her entire body loosening as her blood pulsed through the wound on her neck.

Her weight kept the younger woman from fleeing at the initial pain, and then she was gone caught up in the bliss of feeding. She didn't even feel Katiya's hands when they dug into her back.

It was the sound of Katiya's heart that brought her back to herself it was no longer beating defiantly. Fearful she slipped her fangs out of the flesh and kissed the wounds closed.

"Katiya, are you okay?"

Katiya could feel her arms slip down off Alexei's back; she just didn't have the strength to hold them up there anymore. It took some effort but she nodded, slowly. "Just tired." And she was, suddenly, fighting to keep her eyes open even though she had just been incredibly aroused a moment ago.

She still ached, but the pain was duller now, not as sharp, pricking into her brain. She smelled her blood dried and caked on the sheets and her clothes. She wrinkled her nose but decided to let Katiya sleep before having the sheets changed.

The human woman's eyes were slipping closed, even though she was doing her best to fight the urge to sleep. She managed to stay awake long enough to mumble, "I'm sorry I didn't listen to you."

Alexei cocked her head and looking at the woman. Those words had thoughts mulling her head she went to her closet and threw on a robe and went to the door. Opening it she found Vidar in a staring match with a Tiger. Clearing her throat she hid her smile as the hound jumped. She made no move to open the door further very aware of the setting suns rays that filtered into the master stairwell.

She opened her mouth to bellow, only to be cut off by Lyov. "Warren is already making a hearty meal for the young lady."

"Of course." She mumbled and shut the door.

She went to her study and sat down at her desk, and stared at nothing trying to put her memories of the last evening together in her head.

She wasn't certain how much time had passed until there was a tentive knock at the door. Getting up she saw Warren peak his head in.

"Mistress don't be mad at her, it’s my fault really."

She just stared at him, wondering what now.

"I couldn't find anyone to take the food down to Fiona... and the girl has a skill for... ah... unlocking things..." He trailed off.

Alexei sighed and took the food. "Are you happy with what you saw? Is that what you were expecting, proof of my cruelty?"

"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have done it, but I was concerned..."

She took the tray of food. "Leave Warren, now."

Quickly the Scottish man retreated, and Alexei slammed the door shut.

Taking the tray she went over to the bed and sat down next to Katiya.


She said softly, "Come on Katiya. I have some food for you. It will make you feel better. Its beef broth full of things I guess humans need."

"You guess?" The redhead mumbled, not wanting to wake up but her stomach growled, demanding food. She couldn't have been asleep that long, at least it didn't feel like it as she opened her eyes. "Are you mad at me?" She sat up straighter on the bed, remembering her half mumbled apology before she passed out.

"We'll talk about it later. Right now you need food. I took a lot of blood from you." She helped Katiya sit up holding her to her own body that was propped against the headboard.

Closing her eyes, the human rested her head against Alexei's shoulder, very tempted to fall back asleep right there. "That means yes." She sighed.

"No that means we'll talk about it later." She reached up and brushed red strands behind a delicate looking ear.

She still thought that didn't sound good, but her stomach was demanding again and the food smelled so good her mouth was watering. Shifting a little so that she could reach, the redhead picked up the spoon and licked her lips at the first taste of the hearty broth.

The vampire didn't let go continued to hold the young woman as she ate. "You’re hands are shaking are you okay... I could help you?"

Her hands were shaking and Katiya smiled sheepishly. "I'm sorry, maybe I should go sit somewhere else? I'm going to spill soup all over your bed."

"It might be an improvement. Did you miss all the blood on the comforter?" She took the spoon from Katiya's hand and dipped it in the broth and brought it back to her lips. "Besides I like you where you are."

There was a lot to be said between them, but for now she was quite content to be where she was, held in the arms of this beautiful dangerous woman and being fed broth.

"Karl did that to you?" She asked, after most of the broth was gone, wanting to know what had happened but not sure if she should ask.

The vampire went still, uncomfortable with the question.

She set the spoon down and leaned back against the headboard of the bed, she didn't let go of Katiya or move her. Absently she started stroking the red hair working her fingers through the strands.

"I'm sorry I shouldn't have asked." Katiya frowned, thinking she'd stumbled over one of those forbidden questions again.

"Seems we have some stuff in common."

“We do?” Katiya asked

"We do. Seems like we both like to cause trouble and have a hard time listening to authority figures."

"Oh." She stayed where she was, enjoying the attention and petting. "Neither of us do it on purpose though. Do we?"

She chuckled. "Maybe you don't, but I hate Karl. Do you hate me is that why you have done just about everything I've asked you not to do?"

"No." Katiya twisted around, blue eyes wide. "No, I don't hate you." It was important that Alexei believe her.

Alexei stared deeply into blue eyes. "It is said that the eyes are the gateway to the soul. I see a lot of things in your eyes, but I believe you, hate isn't there."

She leaned forward and kissed Katiya's forehead before leaning back again.

The human let out a sigh of relief and tucked herself up against Alexei. "I didn't set out to disobey you. It just... happened."

"Of course it did. Do you now understand why I asked you not to open locked doors?" She asked.

Katiya ducked her head. "Yes." She'd only wanted to help Warren, and of course her natural curiosity to see what was behind a locked door. "Will she be all right? Fiona?" The sight of the other woman was still in Katiya's mind.

"Yes. I told you it was like one of those junkies in those dens coming off a drug. Fiona has been living off my blood for a long time, it will take it awhile to purge from her body."

Deciding it would probably be a good idea to change topics to the other thing that had happened while Alexei was gone, Katiya sat up a little. "We went to talk to Fenix. Actually, I talked to him while Vidar scared him. I tried to get in touch with who hired him."

"Did he have my things?"

"Some of it. He's sending everything he had back here." She shrugged. "His employer didn't take everything. I dropped a message off with the frontman for his employer saying I could steal more things from you. They sent people to follow us, to check out where I was going, that's why I couldn't come straight back to the manor." That last bit came tumbling out in a rush.

"Where were you then?" She whispered into Katiya's ear.

Who swallowed, hard. "I couldn't think of anywhere else to go that wouldn't look suspicious to the people following us."

"This is the same woman who helped you kill a vampire?"

"Yes." There was no lying or evading Alexei when those eyes were so piercing.

Alexei's eyes grew distant. "You know I should kill her and you. Do you realize that? Do you know if anyone found out about what you did your death and my punishment would be ordered?"

The redhead felt her heart skip a beat at those matter of fact words. "I'm not sorry I killed him." She heard herself say, wondering if she was about to die. "He tried to kill me, he did kill the brothers."

"Good, I'm glad you're not sorry. I am disappointed that he's dead, so I didn't get kill him myself." She sighed though the other woman that Katiya had smelled like, twice now, this Tereza, didn't make her happy.

Guessing what that sigh was about Katiya touched Alexei's arm. "I stayed there for shelter, that's all."

"Okay, but know this Katiya, I don't share what's mine." She was silent for a little bit longer. "Is there anything else I need to know?"

The human let out a shaky laugh and shook her head against Alexei's neck. "No. Isn't that enough?"

"Considering I was gone for only a couple of days, I think that’s more than enough." She chuckled for a moment. "Life won't be dull."

"That's why you're going to keep me around." Katiya agreed, finding this an enjoyable place to rest, and nice flawless skin to kiss.

Alexei's breathing hitched at the kiss.

"Or maybe you'll keep me around for other reasons?" Katiya smiled against the skin she was pressed against, feeling the other woman's breathing alter.

"Katiya what are you doing?" Of all the things she had expected, that hadn't been one of them.

"It's called kissing. I would have thought an aged old vampire would know that." Katiya teased, finding a nice spot to tease with her tongue then kiss.

Alexei gasped and her grip tightened unconsciously in Katiya's hair. "Brave, brave mouse, to willingly tease a vampire."

"I've been told, repeatedly, to be brave." Katiya was rather enjoying this turn about.

"True, you have." Alexei agreed.

"Then I should be brave." She said quietly, fingering the fabric of the robe that Alexei was wearing.

There was a dim glimmer of pleasure over the pain that was still hovering in her body. A smile tugged her lips, but she did nothing to stop Katiya, curious to see how far the young woman intended to go.

The young woman in question didn't really know how far she could go. Other than the hazy erotic memories of their time in the steam filled bath her previous experiences had been limited to a kiss and a little groping. Still, she went as far as she dared, kissing down to the limit of exposed skin and maybe a little beyond, before rising up to kiss those talented lips.

"Nice." Alexei murmured against the lips on hers.

Katiya pulled back a little, trying not to look at the bloodstains that covered a lot of the bed. "Are you feeling better?"

"I am feeling better. Your blood helped a lot. I'm sorry I took so much."

Katiya shrugged a little, trying not to give into the shyness that was starting to make things a little awkward. "I knew what you needed." She resettled herself against the vampire's side, sliding a hand down to touch still warm skin. "What will you do with Sergei?"

“Sergei..." she sighed. "Depending on what Matvey found while we were gone, Sergei will probably be staked out for the rising sun."

"Will that kill him?" Would they burst into flames like in the stories?

"Yes, it will."

She wasn't happy about that, it meant several things. She had lost control of a child, it was reflection of her as a Master, and it reflected her control of her own household.

"What about Molly?" Katiya had so far managed to avoid the imposing looking woman with the streak of madness in her.

"I don't know what to do about Molly, she rather enjoys being punished, so for a change I think I may just ignore her." Besides she had found something else to give her attention too. She trailed her fingers over Katiya's throat.

Who shivered in response, blue eyes darkening as they closed a little, so much for trying to change the subject. "I wish I knew how to respond when you touch me like that." She whispered.

"You'll figure it out." Alexei whispered back. The vampire looked around at the wrinkled bed sheets and the pool of dried blood on the sheets.

"But this hardly looks like a romantic nest to explore these options."

"No it doesn't." Katiya agreed, sliding out from the bed and away from the devastatingly attractive woman in it. Space was a good thing right now she figured. "Did you want a bath? I can change these." There had to be fresh sheets hidden somewhere around.

Alexei got up, "Join me in the bath, Lyov will see to the bed." She held out a hand in question.

The bath would hurt the almost healed burn wounds, but it would also make her feel clean.

Katiya took Alexei's hand and follow her towards the bathroom where steam was rising from the hot water in the bath. Trying to occupy her mind she started talking again as she watched Alexei's legs. "I'll need to find out if Fenix's employer agreed to a meeting."

She led Katiya into the bath, "And how are you going to know if they set up a meeting?"

Damn, that probably wasn't a good thing to have brought up right now. "I'll have to check at Tereza's." She winced.

Alexei went very still.

"That's where they followed me to, that's where they think I live." The human woman said quickly.

"I see. So you'll have to go back and see that woman?"

Katiya stood almost as still as the vampire, watching her worriedly. "Probably. Unless they leave a message behind that I can find when she goes out."

"I'm not happy about that." She let go of Katiya's hand and strode into the bathroom, as always the bath was hot and full just as she wanted it to be. Lyov was a very good housekeeper.

"I know." Katiya followed, not bothering to hide her appreciative gaze as Alexei disrobed. No wonder the church was up in arms about vampires, she thought, that body was a sin. The thought made her smile, which died a second later at the look on Alexei's face. "I don't know of any other way to find your things or who hired Ivan and Fenix to steal from you."

"I know." Alexei said echoing the redheads’ previous words.

"But I have a feeling it’s important to know the answer behind my missing stuff." She stepped into the bath and turned raising an eyebrow at the staring woman. "Hurry up my backs not going to clean itself." She said in a tone that could be taken for seductive as she slowly sat down humming in appreciation at the warm water. The hum stopped and she hissed slightly as the water got to her back, holy water always made her skin so sensitive while it healed.

The robe was off in an instant and Katiya was hurrying into the water, eyes lingering on those perfect breasts and her hands twitched as she imagined touching and stroking them. Mutely she held up the sponge, offering to wash Alexei's back while she tried to compose herself.

Alexei moved forward with a chuckle. "You'll need to be gentle its still a little tender."

"Oh." Katiya hissed, seeing the damaged skin. "I thought you were healed?" She carefully started to clean around the wounds.

"I am mostly. Holy water takes a bit more time and effort. And that is what Karl used on my back."

"I hate him for hurting you." Katiya said hoarsely, gently washing.

"Never, and I mean never say that outside this room, Katiya. Karl would kill you in a heartbeat, and I wouldn't be able to stop him." She said quietly.

"I won't." She promised. Why was it that they kept ending up in the bath together? This was the third time since she was here. Was it because Alexei enjoyed the hot water, or was it something else?

She kept scrubbing, enjoying the chance to touch that firm skin. She did feel a bit guilty though. "Don't be mad at Warren. I made him let me help see Fiona."

"Really, he said it was his fault."

Katiya bit her lip, wondering what to say. "I convinced him she needed food."

She sighed in pleasure enjoying the warmth of the water and the young body behind her. "So should I punish you?"

Something about the way she said it caused pleasant shivers to go up the redheads back. "Depends on the punishment I think." She answered, moving to a full massage of the vampire's shoulders.

Alexei didn't miss the increase in Katiya's heartbeat and breathing. "Interesting." She said with a smile.

"That feel's good." She purred out at the shoulder massage.

It had been a long time since she felt relaxed and pampered.

"I'm trying to figure out what feels good for you." The redhead whispered, rubbing harder on a spot that seemed to get a good response from the other naked woman.

Alexei blinked surprised, it had been a while since some one had tried to make her feel good. Fiona had for a while but that had changed centuries ago into something else, friends more than lovers. Damn, Molly had been right.

"Well you're doing a good job."

"Is there anywhere else?" She teased, moving her hands down that broad back, trying to find other spots of interest.

Alexei chuckled, brave mouse indeed. She got up slightly and turned around straddling Katiya's legs. She placed her arms on either side bracing them on the marble lip. She looked at Katiya with an evil grin.

"Are you sure you want to go there, because if I let you touch me anymore we are going to head into dangerous territory."

"Dangerous?" She whispered, eyes widened, blue gone darker as she tried to decide if she was brave enough to do what her body wanted her to. "I thought you said I'm under your protection?" Her body hummed with the sudden move and the press of flesh warmed with the bath water was erotic beyond anything she could have thought of before.

"True you are. I can protect you from everyone and everything but myself." She leaned over whispering into Katiya's ear.

Who whimpered as naked flesh pressed up against her front. "I..." she mumbled, not sure she could think any more, let alone talk coherently all of a sudden.

"I can smell you're want, your desire. It pours off your skin, hammers in the rhythm of your heart, and in the blush of your eyes."

The whimper turned into a moan at those whispered words and she pressed her entire body upwards, wanting to feel more of the wet skin, suddenly achingly aware of every place they touched. "Please…"

"Please what?" She asked nibbling on the earlobe for a moment before sucking it into her mouth.

Her eyes twisted shut and she had to reach up to hold onto the long lean body above her or slip under the water. "More?" She pleaded, licking her lips.

"Are you sure?" Alexei growled out.

One hand came up tangling into Katiya's hair as she kissed the delicate cartilage of her ear, then to the hollow behind the ear and then down the neck.

"Yessss." she hissed, her hands stroking Alexei's body, trying to coax her into moving closer. Just sliding her breasts against the pale skin above her made her whimper in pleasure.

"Good." She pressed her body against Katiya's, basically trapping the young woman between two immovable objects. Her hands were everywhere mapping the curves and plains of flesh.

She couldn't have moved if she had wanted to, which she didn't. It was an exquisite torture, the hot soapy water, the gorgeous woman doing such talented things with her lips. Katiya was panting, a leg wrapped around Alexei's stronger one, trying to urge her closer without much success.

Alexei leaned back, water sloshing around her. Her eyes narrowed, thinking.

Katiya slowly opened her unfocused eyes, blinking to try to focus on Alexei. "What?" She licked her lips, wondering why that wonderful sensation had stopped.

"Not here I think. Bed." She nodded, "Yes the bed." While she enjoyed the heat and warmth of the bath, the water was a barrier she didn't want right now.

Her eyes never left Katiya's as she stood up out of the bath, water sliding off her body like some sort of fountain statue.  Leaning over she picked up the young woman, enjoying the dazed look in her eyes.  A sexual awakening was a beautiful thing it was like spring after a horrible winter, the basic hunger that propelled all life was sex, and passion.  All things vampires were not.  But it didn't mean they had to do without.  Sure they existed outside the circle of life and death, even mocked the whole process of birth with their own bloody beginnings when they sired a child.  But this, here with Katiya was a gift and she could only revel in its glow like a kitten basking in a sunbeam.  This was as close to being a part of nature that she could ever hope to get, to being real, instead of mythical and monstrous. 

Holding the redhead she was aware of the way their slick skin heated where they touched and slid against each other.  She moved to the bedroom with slow strides not willing to move at her normal vampiric speed because it would take away from this.

The bed was mysteriously made the bloody sheets whisked away for clean ones, Lyov’s doing. 

Concern nibbled at the back of her mind, that perhaps she was not healed enough to take on such things.  It was possible in the heat of things she could go to far and would take to much blood in a frenzy.

She laid them both on the bed, and in a submissive move put herself on the bottom her body enveloped by the bed and Katiya on top. "The need in your eyes threatens to set me on fire."  She whispered softly.

Katiya pressed herself up against the nude form below her, sliding against it with a pleasant shiver as long lean legs slid between hers and she nestled there very nicely. “Then we will burn together.” She answered, bracing herself with her arms to take in the sight lying out below her.

If this was the only time she would enjoy the feel of Alexei naked and her passion then she was determined to remember it. A low guttural groan of pleasure forced its way out of her lips as she lowered herself until their chests pressed together and then she was kissing the vampire in a swirl of tongues and teeth.

Katiya was suddenly willing wanton flesh, all heat and passion. She tried to be mindful of her fangs as lips and tongue invaded her quite pleasantly.

The sheets were getting bunched up around them, but Katiya barely noticed, not even having registered that the sheets had been changed. She needed more, she wanted more and she was going to have it.

She let her hands wander enveloping flesh and mapping it, every body was different. Different curves, dips, and spots that brought pleasure.

Trailing up from hip to breasts that she palmed smiling as the nipples rose to her touch becoming hard and excited poking into her flesh. There was taking and then there was guiding ramping up desire with foreplay. She was positive this was farther than Katiya had ever gone including the first time in the tub.

It was well beyond anything that Katiya had ever enjoyed before and she was determined to enjoy every moment. "Please..." she whimpered, not sure how she was going to do what she wanted to so overloaded with sensations that she was reduced to single word pleas. She arched over the pale body, into the touch.

Alexei rolled them over pinning Katiya to the bed.

Leaning her upper body up, her arms pinned both of Katiya's hands to the bed. "Please what?" She smiled seductively. "There are lots of ways to be pleased. I could hold you down, take away all your power and fuck you. I could hold you, stroke you, and whisper beautiful words in your ears. Or I could strap a phallus to my hips and fuck you like a man. And that my dear Katiya, is only the tip of the iceberg. The church did you humans a great disservice when they made you ashamed of your own pleasure."

The seductive words just made Katiya wet and she whimpered again, her hips moving against the lean thigh between her legs. "All of it." She husked, her entire body feeling like it was on fire. "Any of it."

Alexei let go of Katiya's hands and let her body rest on the one below her's, but not fully, knowing she was to dense and heavy. "We will go with sweet for now, I think." She murmured.

She kissed cheeks, lips, and neck. Down to young, rather perky breasts. She teased first one then the other with her lips, teeth and tongue. Letting a hand travel down to explore the wetness being created at the junction of Katiya's thighs.


The redhead would have probably agreed to almost anything right then. She gasped, opening wider, wanting more, urging the vampire on wordlessly with her movements and hips. It was impossible to stay still and she didn't try. It was rather hard though to try and get Alexei to move faster considering how strong the vampire was.

Alexei had her moments, frequently, when she was an utter bastard, this wasn't one of them. She let her fingers play the spots that created absolute pleasure for Katiya. When she judged that the woman couldn't possibly take anymore she let her fingers break through that barrier that sealed away that most intimate of places that lead to the true center of the universe where life was created.

She could smell blood and desire and her fangs lengthened in response and she rested her head on the bed next to Katiya's resisting all her urges to bite and claim, Katiya couldn't lose much more blood. She let her fingers pause inside letting Katiya adjust to the invasion before she started moving her arm again.

There were words or maybe just animal like noises, coming out of Katiya's mouth. She knew she was saying something, maybe screaming it in pleasure, but she wouldn't remember it. All she would remember was the way those fingers felt inside her, the expert way they caressed her, the smell heavy on the air. She would remember the way Alexei was straining next to her, body taught with desire. Then she would remember the feel as those fingers moved and she tipped over the edge into a pleasure so bright it hurt.

The vampire was sweating, that was startling, she rarely did that. How much life and passion must be stolen for her to imitate a living soul? She didn't know.

Katiya was still next to her, passed out from experiencing her first little death. Slowly she eased her fingers out and brought them to her lips cleaning them she tasted passion and blood of innocence shattered. Once clean she smiled softly and kissed her way down Katiya's body to the thighs dotted with blood. Not unusual tearing of the maidenhead sometimes did that. Bending her head she lapped up the blood like a cat with a bowl of cream. It was different, richer of course; this is the blood that would sustain life in the womb.

Very slowly Katiya returned to her senses and even more slowly realized where she was and with whom. She jerked a little, whimpering as a warm tongue licked her skin. Her body felt heavy and warm, sated, pleasantly sore like she'd been doing stretches or practicing climbing walls. "Did I fall asleep?" She asked, a hand raising and stroking through Alexei's luxuriant hair.

"Passed out." Alexei purred from between her legs.

"Sorry." She hadn't even wanted to close her eyes for fear of missing something.

Alexei laughed sitting up. "Nothing to be sorry for, it’s a complement really. Some people cannot let go and let pleasure overwhelm them."

"It was beautiful, you're beautiful." She kissed the thigh closest to her.

Katiya gave a little shiver. "I can't think when you do that." She didn't sound upset bout it, more like amazed.

“Not thinking is a good complement, I think." The vampire said licking her lips removing all traces of what had just happened.

Shifting so that she was more on level with the blonde woman, Katiya leaned against her side, letting out a little sound of pleasure. She stayed like that for a long time, simply enjoying the moment that she knew couldn't last. Finally she spoke again, remembering the strained look on Stepan's face. "Did he hurt anyone else?" She asked quietly, referring to the vampire prince.

Alexei's face went from relaxed to guarded. "Mouse you can pick some odd bedroom talk."

"Sorry." She winced, why did she keep doing that? "I just realized you might not have been the only one he hurt and was worried."

"Yes, Shiro was hurt. And Stepan was given the worst humiliation a male can suffer; he was made to feel impotent." She reached out stroking Katiya's face, which had started to look upset. Alexei found she was missing the blissful look that had been there a moment ago. "But we survived, and that is what is important."

"Did he..." She hesitated "was Shiro hurt badly?" Another reason to hate this vampire prince.

"They violated her, but not like a human would. They tore into the skin at her wrists. Depending on how she heals she may not play again."

Katiya buried her face in Alexei's shoulder, closing her eyes at the idea of never hearing that beautiful music again. In an attempt to shift the conversation to something, anything else, she said the first thing that came to mind. "What's a vampire elder?"

Alexei looked puzzled, as she reached up stroking red hair. "An elder, would be an old vampire, really old."

"I heard a rumor earlier that there's one in the city." She had to explain that random question and it was a little too late now to start keeping secrets.

"Interesting. And who told you that?" She asked, feeling she wouldn't like the answer.

Katiya mumbled something that might have been Tereza.

She was right she didn't like the answer. "Just who is this Tereza? Is she some pet here to spy on me?"

"She's a hunter, not a spy." Katiya was pretty sure about that.

That didn't make her happier. "So you've been playing with this woman, who is a Hunter here to kill me?" The vampire got up suddenly; with a growl she went to her closet and started shoving her legs into some pants.

Katiya was right, the moment couldn't last. Cursing her big mouth, she pulled one of the covers up around her bare shoulders and got out of the bed. "Not you, I don't think anyway. She followed new vampires into the city."

"It doesn't matter to hunters. They try to kill us all. And you are hanging out with one." She could feel her temper rising.

This wasn't going well. "She's useful." Katiya tried to reason. "She saved my life before."

"And I can imagine why she did that." Alexei growled out.

The redhead blinked, drawing the white sheets around her a little more closely as she watched Alexei carefully, trying to figure out why this was going bad so fast. "You're jealous?"

Alexei paused. "No. I'm the Master you’re the pet. I don't get jealous."

That was asinine and she knew it the moment it came out of her mouth.

"Oh." Katiya's face fell and she shook her head a little. "Of course." Stupid of her to think otherwise. It still hurt though. "Should I go?" She still hadn't chosen her own room.

For the first time in what seemed like forever, Alexei wavered. Torn between what was proper for her status and vampire society, and what she simply wanted.

The hurt deepened with the silence and she swallowed against the sudden foolish urge to cry. So what if she had just given herself to the vampire. She'd known, at some level that would happen so she should just take it for what it was. A service to her master. "I'll see if I can help Shiro." And find a room of her own.

Alexei didn't want Katiya to go. She wanted to go back to bed with Katiya and explore more of that flesh. "Katiya..." She paused changing her mind. "Thank you for checking on Shiro, I'm not certain she wants any of us, vampires," She clarified, "near her just yet."

She'd chosen this path, Katiya reminded herself, firmly ignoring the hurt and giving a shaky nod. "I..." She paused then forced a smile. "Good night then." What little was left of it.

She pulled on a shirt but didn't tuck it in. Something was wrong she didn't feel right. But she would not share, especially with a woman who hunted vampires. "You're excused." She mumbled absent-mindedly. She wasn't jealous, she couldn't be, it was an emotion that had no place in her world.

Katiya didn't, quite, slam the door shut behind her as she left but she certainly closed it harder than normal.

Vidar's great white head perked up and he looked at the obviously upset woman in question. Getting up he went to her side licking her hand.

"I was brave. But I wasn't the only one who had to be." She whispered to him, smiling wryly as she scratched that white-furred head. "Do you know where Shiro is?" She wrapped the thin sheet around herself again as it slipped.

He sighed, humans had such hang ups with sex and emotion and vampires forgot there emotions came from being human once.

He nudged her hand one last time and started to the stairs going up one flight. He sniffed the floor not exactly certain where her room was, tail wagging he caught the scent leading them to a stout wooden door.

"I should choose my own room too, I guess." She mumbled, frowning and feeling the urge to kick and scream at something. Keeping a hand on the sheet dress she followed the white hound. With her free hand she knocked, to give the silent woman a warning before she opened the door.


There was no answer.

Feeling like she was trespassing, Katiya edged inside. The room was sparsely decorated, a fur rug with a couple of chairs and a bed. Pride of place was a large desk littered with sheet music and stands holding several different violins. No sign of the other woman though and Katiya started to search for her worriedly. "Shiro?"

There was movement near the dark window curtains and Shiro turned from where she was watching the sunset. Her eyes were shuttered and dark circles were under her eyes.

"Shiro, I'm sorry." Katiya moved closer, worried by the haggard look on the gentle woman's face. "Alexei told me they hurt you."

The woman started to make figures with her hands and fingers, but stopped when she remembered Katiya didn’t understand sign language.

"You have to teach me how to understand that." Katiya said, stopping when she was closer, not sure what sort of help Shiro might need.

The Asian woman's wrists were wrapped in fine linen. Shiro nervously pushed a strand of hair behind her ear, as she walked over to the desk and picked up a pen and shakily uncorked an inkwell. Shakily on parchment she wrote, "I'm fine. Do not worry."

Peering over her shoulder, Katiya frowned. "You don't look fine." She touched the woman's shoulder, keeping one hand to hold her makeshift dress on. "Should you be resting? I could go get you food if you want?"

Shiro frowned. "Can't sleep. Not hungry." She shrugged, actually for the first time she was feeling scared. Scared of the darkness, scared of Alexei and scared for Alexei. She's seen her Mistress tortured it was beyond what she had even conceived one could do to another, and that was saying a lot considering how her father had been.

"Do you want me to leave?" Katiya asked slowly, worried about leaving Shiro alone.

Vidar nudged Katiya trying to convey what a bad idea leaving was.

The Asian woman just shrugged. Looking around her desk she spied her music and one of her violins. Suddenly broke down into sobs. She could hold a bow, but she couldn’t make her fingers move on the strings, they were like fat sausages, uncoordinated on the strings.

Even without Vidar's nudge there was no way Katiya was leaving now. Immediately she gathered the slim woman into her arms, making hushing comforting sounds as she offered comfort. "It's all right, it'll be all right." She said over and over again, feeling tears wet her shoulder

Vidar whined hating it when women cried.

Katiya gave the dog a look. "Go guard the door then." she grumbled at him, moving Shiro away from the desk and towards the bed.

Grumbling he went to the door and lied down.

Shiro let herself be led to the bed, her sobs were quieter now reduced to sniffles, but she continued to cling to Katiya. She smelled like Alexei, which was comforting with out the terror of having an actual vampire near her. Part of her knew it wasn't Alexei's fault and she had even broken the restraints to stop them, but still it would be a while until teeth coming near her flesh would be welcomed.

"You'll be playing again in no time. You'll see." Katiya comforted her as best she could, managing to coax the silent woman into the bed. Shiro's face was drawn and tired. Katiya would have to make sure that the Asian woman ate something tomorrow morning; whatever Warren could entice her with. This morning actually, considering how late in the night it already was.

She wondered, for an instant, what it was that Alexei was doing. Then the anger came back and she shoved away the worry. The vampire was ancient; certainly she could occupy her nights with something.

"I can stay in the chair if you want?" She didn't want to make Shiro uneasy by getting into the same bed.

Shiro reached out for the redhead not wanting her to go, it was nice to be next to someone and hear the reassuring beat of a heart. She patted the bed trying to convey it was okay.

"Okay." Was Katiya’s simple answer as she slipped under the covers. If Shiro had a problem with the fact that she was naked other than the sheet she'd been wearing, she'd have to live with it now. "Rest. I'll keep you company."

The Mongol girl nodded and curled up on her side. It was different than a vampire whose body seemed to steal warmth. But the sound of Katiya breathing, as well as, the hound at the door was comforting and soon she found she couldn't keep her eyes open.

"Shhh... Sleep." Katiya whispered, shifting closer so that she could lightly stroke Shiro's long dark hair, petting it. Quietly she hummed a half remembered lullaby from a mother that was more a foggy ideal than an actual memory.

Part 5

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