The Secret History of Vampires – Part 8

It was well past noon by the time Katiya felt up to getting out of the bed. She readjusted the blankets around Alexei, feeling a little foolish for doing so. The vampire didn't need to stay warm, but she did it anyway. Vidar wasn't present at the door this morning, keeping the American Vampire company she guessed. Quickly the redhead dressed and closed the door behind her quietly.

"Good morning Fiona, Warren." She called out as she entered the kitchen, feeling good despite the day before.

Fiona and Warren were in their usual places in the kitchen, life revolved on its stomach, as Warren was apt to say frequently. Warren puttered at the butcher block preparing a pig for a roast, while Fiona worked on mending various shirts, a pile was on her right, and currently she was working on one of Alexei's with a gaping hole in the back.

"Morning lass." Warren boomed out.

"Morning Katiya." Fiona said with a smile. "Everything alright?" She was slightly concerned Katiya hadn't seen Alexei at her most horrible yet.

"Fine." Last night had been troubling, but Katiya kept telling herself she had to accept it. Sliding into a chair across from Fiona she took one of the apples from the bowl in the center of the table. "How are you doing this morning?"

"Well en..."

"She was horribly sick this morning." Warren cut in. "Maybe you can convince her to take it easy."

"Sick?" Katiya looked at Fiona worriedly.

Fiona just scowled at her husband to be. "I feel fine now. Besides who is going to mend your shorts, you?" Fiona snorted and Warren wisely paid extra attention to the pig he was cutting

"But you feel all right now?" Katiya was still watching the other redhead worriedly.

            Fiona nodded, as she continued to work on the shirt.

"Good." That was good, Katiya realized. "I don't have many friends, would be good if the few I have stick around."

"Not to worry, Warren and I will always be here for you." She smiled trying to keep the sadness out of it, for someone so young to say such a thing was terrible.

A pair of pants sailed through the room and landed in a heap at Fiona's feet. They were caked with blood and other things.

Katiya flinched back, eyeing the disgusting fabric then the doorway they had come from.

The moment broken Fiona looked up to the doorway. Molly stood there smirking, a low cut top showed off a savagery of bites to her neck and upper chest, which she proudly flaunted.

"Molly..." The older woman started in warning.

Katiya could feel her lip curling back in disgust as she spotted the other pet. Not that there had been much doubt of what Alexei had done the night before, but having it rubbed in her face was more than she wanted to deal with.

"What? Alexei left her pants in my room I knew she would want them clean so I brought them to you. Isn't that what you do now? Oversee the household chores?" The tone was innocent, but none of that innocence was in the woman's cold blue eyes.

"Odd she didn't take them with her when she came back to bed with me." Katiya spoke up, not caring if it was a bad idea to cross paths with Molly or not. How dare the woman treat Fiona like that?

"My, my. The new pet has some teeth." Molly mocked coming into the kitchen.

Warren wisely chose to leave muttering something about an errand.

The other pet glared at Molly. So much for trying to get along with her and her dislike wasn't just motivated by jealously.

"Don't feel special, none of us are. You're just getting all the attention because it takes time and a firm hand to mold someone into a proper vampires pet. Obliviously there are things you just can't do for the Mistress." The English woman snipped.

Fiona calmly picked up the pants and studied them with a sigh she got up and placed them in the laundry. "And there are quiet a number of things you can't and don't do for the mistress." Fiona said as she calmly sat down and picked up her sewing.

Flushing, Katiya put the apple back in the bowl on the table, not hungry anymore after Molly's words. "I guess I just don't enjoy pain as much as you do." She pointedly looked at a few of the vivid red scars on Molly's chest.

Molly stepped up seductively into Katiya's personal space. "I could teach you to enjoy it."

"That's enough Molly!" Fiona shouted.

Disgusted, Katiya pulled back until she had no further to go with the wall behind her.

The English woman instinctively pulled back from years of living with Fiona as the favored pet and more than strong enough to put her in her place. Flushing as she realized what she had done she snapped. "You're just a servant now you have no right to speak to me that way."

"Really?" Fiona said and evil twinkle in her eye. "Kira."

The tiger bounded in from the green house looking at Fiona. On seeing Molly the tiger growled and started to stalk forward.

"That means I can do whatever and say whatever I want." Fiona shouted at Molly's fleeing form.

Feeling like she needed a bath after that visit, Katiya slowly sat back down. "I really don't like her."

"You shouldn't like her." Fiona said setting down the shirt. "Do you want to talk about it?"

Picking up the apple again, the younger woman spun it on the table top, watching it spin. "Maybe... maybe she's right."

"About what?" Fiona watched Katiya carefully

The apple spun again, wobbling about the tabletop. "I'm the new pet right? I shouldn't feel special."

"True you are a new pet."

Fiona hesitated; if she were wrong Katiya could set herself up for being really hurt both physical and emotional.

"Where did you sleep last night?"

Katiya looked up from the apple, face uncertain. "In Alexei's room. Why?" The apple spun again.

"Do you have you're own room?"

"I could..." She frowned a little. "Alexei said I could choose one." Somehow she just hadn't managed to yet.

"But you don't have one. You've been sleeping in Alexei's room with Alexei, for what two months now?"

Was it that long already? Katiya blinked and quickly did the math before nodding. "Just under two months." She agreed. "That's a good thing?"

"Yes, Molly and Shiro never slept with her in her room."

"But you did." Katiya said quietly, stopping the apple in mid spin.

"On occasion. Never when she was younger. When we roamed around like nomads, I think she might have even dug her way into the dirt and slept until night fell. But once the modern age hit with its houses and comforts on occasion I would spend the night but I had my own rooms I enjoyed going back to.”

She reached over stilling the apple and Katiya's hand. "Has she ever punished you? Whipped you? Or chained you down in the dungeon?"

Blue eyes widened at the idea of that. "No." She'd yelled at her, but that was it.

“Trust me Katiya you've done a lot of things that she should have would have done that, especially that Hunter. She pouted for days not eating, merely stalking from room to room, when she thought you preferred the hunter to her. In fact the only reason why your little Hunter isn't dead is probably because Alexei thinks it would upset you. Those aren't thoughts that a vampire has towards its pets."

            Katiya nodded thinking over Fiona’s words before deciding a change of topic. “Can I help with anything?”

"Can you sew?"

"I can learn." She smiled hopefully.

Fiona sighed. "Sure, I can teach you the basics. We'll start with socks; nobody sees them anyways and won’t care if the stitching looks funny." She picked up one with a hole in the toe. "Oh and don't feel too bad abut Alexei's lapses, its hard to swallow to know that she goes to that woman. I bet if you press her on it you'll find Molly was waiting to pounce the moment Alexei came up the stairs full of dark energy that woman seems to crave. I'm not condoning her weakness at that moment."

Concentrating on the needle, Katiya slowly tried to copy the movements that Fiona was showing her. It quickly proved more difficult then she'd thought trying to sew in a straight line, but she tried her best. "I know she needs more blood than I can give her." It was just the other parts that made her feel upset.

"That's true with Shiro gone she should really take another pet, three humans, if the vampire is an elder and is concerned at all with their well being is enough to keep a vampire happy. Five to 10 humans if the vampire is younger. She could use the blood bar that Stepan and the others go too. She's a little paranoid though about it."

"Why?" Katiya didn't know much about the blood bars, other than they existed.

"With pets there’s the bond she knows where you've been, if you've used drugs or been poisoned. Get a bad bleeder that’s been paid a little to inject himself or herself and she'd be an easy target to kill. Its no secret Karl hates her."

Karl. The reason Shiro was dead as far as Katiya was concerned. She nodded quickly, swearing as she pricked her finger with the needle. "I wish he'd pay for what he did to Shiro." She said it quietly though.

"I do too. If the world was a younger more violent place, Alexei would have gathered an army and destroyed him. Now vampires are bent by rules of the council, and Alexei is no master of diplomacy."

Sticking herself again with the needle, Katiya grimaced and held up her finger watching a small bead of blood well up. "So she'll need another pet eventually." Katiya wasn’t happy about that.

"Yes she'll need another pet, or you and Molly will start to get anemic."

Katiya licked her finger clean and managed a wry grin. "That wouldn't be good." So be it, she'd figure out something. Whoever they were, they couldn't be as bad as Molly. Trying again at repairing the ripped socks she decided to change topics. "Why do you think the American Vampires are here?"

"I don't know. To risk breaking exile I would assume their fleeing something more horrible in America than what they face here."

Yawning Alexei woke blinking until her eyes cracked open; it was still afternoon with the accursed sun still up. She sensed Katiya was upset although not the life threatening fear that had been felt, and frowned; the woman was probably upset about her and Molly. But that was silly she was only a pet and had no right to feel that way. But if that were true why did she feel bad still?

Alexei focused her sleepy mind and sent out a thought, a compulsion, a request that Katiya should come up stairs to her. Considering how willful Katiya was it would probably be easier to get up and go to her.

In the kitchen, Katiya frowned, loosing the thread of what she wanted to ask. Something about the exiles, and she thought it would be an important question. "I think Alexei's awake." She said slowly, trying to figure out why she suddenly wanted to go upstairs.

"Ah, it’s the blood. The more you two share the closer, I guess you could call it, you become. Its how she found you in the city, knew you were in trouble."

Blue eyes narrowed as she stared at Fiona. "So she's trying to get me to go upstairs right now?"

"She's trying by asking. She can't really make you do anything. You didn't jump up and run up stairs did you?"

Katiya smiled. "Not yet." She offered back the oddly stitched socks. "I'm sorry, I tried."

“Its more than anyone else does around here. Now go have fun with the vampire before she has to come downstairs and be a mean vampire."

"Yes ma'am." Katiya grinned, hoping up from her seat and taking a last bite of apple. With a wave she was gone, bounding up the stairs to see what was going on.

Closing the door behind her, Katiya moved towards the bed and vampire. "I was told to come up before you came down and were a mean vampire."

"Really? And here I thought I was just a big cat." She grinned sleepily referencing another conversation.

"That too." The redhead settled up on the bed, watching the relaxed sleepy look on Alexei's face. "Did you just want some early evening company?"

Alexei hesitated, realizing she might be seen as needy, and vampires were not needy, they created need in others but generally did not want or need. They were more, take and have, sort of creatures.

"Yes?" It came out as a question.

"Good." Katiya kicked off her slippers and squirmed in under the blankets, grinning. "So that's the vampire equivalent to shouting out my name?"

"Yes, well, the bond is tighter the more blood you share. It is rumored that the eastern vampires are very close because they share blood among each other within clans or with a very favored pet. Western vampires as a rule don't like to have that sort of dependence, or maybe we're just more paranoid."

Katiya hesitantly shifting closer and when there was no objection sighed in pleasure as she leaned into the vampire's body. "Do western vampires ever share a household?" She asked, curious.

Alexei frowned a little hurt. "I thought I have one. Do you not think I have one?"

Blue eyes looked up, a little confused by the answer. "Of course I think you have a household." Maybe she'd phrased the question wrong. "I meant, do master vampires ever share a household?"

"Oh, well..." She went silent letting her sleepy brain reflect on the question. "Some have tried, it doesn't work out. Lover quarrels have decimated Europe. Most, scorned lovers not all probably caused a number of wars. Most of us are big on plotting, conniving and backstabbing."

That made sense and Katiya used Alexei's shoulder as a pillow, trying to put Molly's words out of her mind.

Alexei sleepily burrowed her nose into Katiya's hair sniffing, while her hands wandered under the shirt the woman wore stroking the warm skin. "The crusades” she muttered “were because a French noble took a Middle Eastern woman as a lover, they were vampires, he made her one of us and in the end she fled him to return home. He thought she left him for another. To my knowledge she had not, but we went to war over it." She confided, "Over and over, and over."

The idea of vampires controlling wars on the scale of something like what she understood the Crusades to be made the redhead shiver a little. "Are you going to talk to the American again?"

"Yes. Vidar should have kept him up off and on during the day, which should leave him off kilter." Talking probably was a loose description of what she was going to do.

"We still have to visit Ivan and Boris." She slid a hand over Alexei's stomach.

"Mmmm, yes. Tomorrow evening if my new friend hasn't told me anything useful."

"I can't go meet this mysterious employer without the cup." She started slowly rubbing her stomach smiling as she watched the blonde woman's muscles flex a little.

Alexei lost her train of thought. "Cup?"

Katiya's smile widened as she enjoyed the idea of being able to distract the always beautiful and collected vampire. "Yes, that cup of yours." She drawled, lazily tracing patterns on exposed skin wondering how far she could push.

"Oh yes that cup." She trailed off not really able to keep her thoughts coherent it was harder to collect herself while the sun was still up. "I like that you really seem to enjoy touching me. That it’s not because you feel you have too." It was a statement her more alert brain would have never allowed.

The human laughed a little, sliding up and over so that she could straddle the tall woman, enjoying the position. "Do I look like I'm doing this because you want me to?"

"Mmmm no. Thought you might be mad about Molly. It’s not personal though, I prefer being with you." The last part was said quietly almost as if she were sharing a secret. But now she was sleepy and aroused two very conflicting things.

Katiya's fingers stilled for a moment at the mention of Molly. It was getting harder and harder to pretend the dislike wasn't due to jealousy. "The sun's still up." She said, noticing Alexei's eyes closing slowly.

"The American will still be there when you wake up." She lay down, stretching her full body out almost on top of the longer body of Alexei's, changing her stroking to light soothing touches.

"No sex?" Alexei murmured.

"Sex later." She whispered, nuzzling her neck and pressing a kiss to the skin there.

"Good." She let her hands drift over the skin of Katiya's back as the warmth of the human's body heat and the sound of her heartbeat lulled her back to sleep.


Alexei was happy with Vidar. The Hell Hound had kept waking the vampire up during the day, and he was disoriented and starving.

"Now I think we will start with the questions. Let's try something easy. What is your name?"

She sat in a plush sitting chair, amongst the dried blood and gore, in the flickering torch light. She was dressed again in a white shirt and dark trousers.

"Joshua." The man groaned, half delirious from blood lust and the torture he'd gone through the day.

"Very good Joshua." She got up a small knife in hand. The sharp tip was lifted up to her index finger pricking the skin. She let a single drop to fall from her finger on to his lips. "See I'm not so bad. You answer a question you get some food."

He desperately licked his lips, trying to get every last trace of blood. It wasn't anywhere near enough and he growled in frustration.

"Now Joshua, you are American, correct?"

"San Francisco." He licked his lips, remembering the easy hunting, the nights full of life to choose from. The immigrants whom no one cared about and no one would miss if they disappeared.

"Very good." She let another drop fall on to his lips. "You're too young to be an exile, so you were sired in America."

Greedily he licked his lips. "Yes." Anything for another drop of blood.

"Why come over the ocean? Why take all that risk to end up here?"

He shrugged. "They don't tell me." He swallowed dryly. "Just said we were to come here, smuggled on that goddamn ship and cause you problems."

"I see." She didn't let another drop of blood fall, however. "So you're worthless. Just a pawn with no knowledge to impart to me." She turned heading to the door.

"No! Wait…" He was so hungry. "My sire, he said we wouldn't be opposed. Said we could do what we want and no one would come down on us."

She stopped and turned and stared at the man. "Now why would he say that do you think?"

He shook his head, mangy hair flying. "I don't know, I swear, I don't know. He just said we wouldn't have to worry. No one would come after us, you know? We'd be free to do what we wanted against you."

"Against me, specifically or just who ever was here?" She walked over to him holding up her bloody finger.

"You. You specifically. He said your name." His eyes were fixed on that finger, licking his fangs.

"Interesting." She murmured squeezing her finger and grinning evil as it missed his lips and hit the collar of his shirt. “Where is your Sire?"

He groaned in frustration. "His lair’s near where we found you. Please... I'm so hungry!"

"So who's in my old factory?" She let another drop fall it too missed.

"My Sire, a couple others from America and those two humans." He nearly whimpered, so desperate for food.

"Good boy." She turned and walked to the door and left.

"Nooo!!" His scream was shut off as the door swung shut behind her. Outside in the hallway Vidar lounged, the nearly naked man watching her with amusement.

Near daylight she would stake him out for the sun to finish. "Nice work with him, he broke easily."

"Of course." As if there was any doubt. "Want me to take care of him?"

"Yes, near dawn stake him and lay him out for the sun to finish. Until then give him some pig’s blood."

"Cruel." Giving him blood so he would know what was happening when he was staked out. "I like it." He turned away to go find the blood.

She headed up the stairs. "Drag Matvey and Stepan with you when you do it. That should hammer home the lesson. Then send them to meet with me."

A grunt followed after her in acknowledgement.

"You're much more bearable now that you're not pouting out in my forest." She said with a laugh as she disappeared up the steps

The kitchen was empty, unusual but not surprising considering that there had been a good chance of more screams.

"You're not all bloody this time." Molly said poutingly as she slunk into the kitchen.

Alexei stiffened. "You had last night, but not tonight."

The pet came up to the vampire sliding her hand across Alexei's back, "Don't sound so bitter lover. I did, after all do you a favor, spared your lovely Katiya from your brutality."

"How nice of you." Katiya said, dryly, as she watched from the entrance to the hothouse where she'd been enjoying the warmth. "To spare me."

Molly stiffened. "Feeling brave little Katiya. Willing to withstand the appetites of a monster?"

"I don't really care about your appetites." The redhead stepped out of the doorway, watching Molly's face with an expression of disdain as she moved closer to where Alexei was standing, frozen.

This was an unusual situation for the Vampire, her eyes darted between the two women. Curious she stayed silent to see what the other would do.

"You're nothing special little girl, just a pet like me." Molly snapped.

"Really? Just like you?" She smiled, innocently as she walked closer, a quick glance up at Alexei to see the vampires face then she looked back at the British woman. "How many nights have you spent sleeping in Alexei's bed?" She asked, smiling.

Molly stiffened. "We've all had our moments of favor. Soon we'll all be replaced with a new pet and you'll spend no nights in Alexei's bed."

"Oh, poor Molly. That's right; you've never spent nights in Alexei's bed." Katiya smiled dangerously, half astounded at her own audacity. "I guess that means I'm not just like you."

Blue eyes narrowed and Molly took a menacing step toward Katiya.

"Try." She wanted to hurt Molly, which was shocking.

"Molly!" Alexei barked out. "I still rule here. Go now before I exile you from the house."

The English woman stiffened but turned and left the kitchen.

As soon as she was gone, Katiya's shoulders slumped a little as she let out a breath. Her hands were shaking a little from the burst of adrenaline. "I'm sorry I just... really don't like her."

Alexei just stared at Katiya silent for a moment.

A little worried by the silence, the human looked up, shifting from foot to foot and wondering if she'd finally gone too far.

"I don't like her much most of the time either." Alexei said, trying to figure how she felt. She was a little off-kilter to have someone fight over her, that she was pretty certain was a first, and she was a little turned on, but that wasn't surprising, the two of them had sex a lot.

"Then why did you take her as a pet?" Katiya frowned. "Wouldn't you want people you like, people like Fiona?"

Alexei ran a hand through her hair and sighed. "Guilt. I slew her Master. He was a violent, rapist murdering sack of shit. I found her days later in one of his lairs chained in a secret room. I freed her and she followed me here. To kill me I think. She loved him. Pain is love; torture is a lover's promise. It makes no sense I know."

She looked uncomfortable. "She wouldn't fit in anywhere so I took her in."

Katiya relaxed a little when it looked like Alexei wasn't upset over her earlier verbal assault on Molly. "Oh." She looked towards the door down to the cellar. "Are we going to get the key now?" Best maybe to just move right on from the earlier scene.

"Not to            night. We will go tomorrow night. I have to finish with Stepan and Matvey."

Another night of not getting to the bottom of who was behind the attacks and stealing from Alexei. Katiya tried her best to avoid looking disappointed by the delay. "I could go."

"We discussed that already." Alexei said trying to hide her amusement.

"But we're just giving Ivan more time to do something." Katiya frowned.

"Katiya." Alexei sighed.

"I know." She patted Alexei's stomach. "You have to take care of this and you don't want me going out alone."

"Since we can't leave tonight, let's go to my study and do some planning. Is that a good compromise?"

"Compromise?" Blue eyes blinked as Katiya looked up in surprise. That was the first time she'd heard the vampire say that word. "That sounds good." She could live with that.

"You seem surprised." Alexei said pushing away from the table her hip rested against.

"A little. I didn't think you liked to compromise?"

The vampire blinked. "I really don't have anything against it in theory, but this might be my first time using it, so we'll see how it goes." She started out of the kitchen.

Katiya stared after her, then jerked and had to rush to keep up with the blonde and her long legs. "I'll try not to mess it up." She mumbled, mostly to herself.

"Good." They headed down the hall. "I have to admit seeing you stand up to Molly, that was sexy." She stopped in front of her study doors and opened them.

"Sexy?" Katiya smiled. She rather liked that. "What part of it was sexy?" Just to make sure she could do it again.

"I think the aggressive, not backing down part." Alexei said entering the room. She wandered over to the small bar and gestured. "You want a drink?"

Following along behind her, Katiya studied the varied bottles that were set out. None of them looked like anything she'd seen available in the few bars she'd visited. "Yes, but..." She wasn't sure how to explain she didn't know one wine from whiskey.

Alexei waited a moment then caught on. "Do you want something, sweet, sour, smoky, smooth, and etc? Vodka we have a lot of I can mix it with fruit juice, and there's always bourbon."

"Whatever we had during dinner before the Opera, could I have that again?" She'd enjoyed that sweet drink.

"One port coming up." She rifled through the bottles until she found the one she was looking for. She poured a small amount into a tiny glass. "There you go. Remember to sip it."

"I remember." She'd been half out of her mind watching Alexei in that elegant suit across from her, but she remember that much. Taking that small glass, for some reason called a snifter, she enjoyed the rich sweet flavor. "What did you want to plan?"

Blinking the vampire stopped starring at the woman. "Plan, right..." She went over to a small desk and looked through the papers there until she found an old map. She brought it over to the table and laid it out.

"Here is my old factory." She pointed at a square, "and this is the river its next too. Our guest tells me his sire has made that his lair, but everytime the twins have been out to inspect it, nothing is there. Thoughts?"

Katiya moved over closer, leaning up against the taller woman and smiling at surprised twitch she felt in response. "Did they check the tunnels underneath?"

She watched as Katiya's mind took in the map. "A quick look they didn't go in too deep, it would cut them off and trap them. I'm thinking they have lookouts to alert them."

"Probably." Ivan was smart, disturbingly smart. "Ivan is working for the Americans?"

"That's my guess. So let me ask you, sneaky mouse, where is the best place to put guards."

"Here." She pointed to one of the outlying factories. "Here." Another of the other factory. "They'd see anyone coming up the road or the river from there." She studied the map a bit more. "Another set here, inside the tunnels."

Alexei nodded and grabbed a piece of charcoal to circle each place Katiya had pointed out. "Excellent."

"Ivan must know they're vampires." She didn't quite make it a question. "He must know and he doesn't care. Do you think he's a pet also?"

"I don't know, I doubt it, the way you talk about him, I don't think he'd make a good one. Too independent." Alexei realized that could also be said of Katiya.

"Then he must be getting a lot of money." He'd always been greedy for more. She leaned against Alexei's solid strength smiling. "Too independent?"

The vampire just grunted. "Willful people make horrible pets. They're always asking questions."

"Why's that?" Katiya gave a little poke to her side, eyes dancing with mischief.

"Vampires are control freaks." Alexei said with a straight face.

"I hadn't noticed." Katiya laughed, stepping away. "Tomorrow night we go get your key back?”

"Yes we go play with your Ivan and Boris. While the Twins and Stepan kill the lookouts."

Killing. Katiya winced, of course there would be killing. "Can I stay here while you go deal with Stepan and Matvey?" She liked the fire and it had been a few days since she'd had her last chance to try and puzzle her way through a part of a book.

"Oh I'm done with those two. Vidar is going to do a demonstration later and then bring them to me, near sunrise. If you want time alone I can leave."

"No." She said quickly and flushed a little. "I mean, what do you want to do until sunrise?”

"An excellent question." Her first instinct was to have sex, but perhaps they could be higher functioning mammals, if just for tonight.

"We could play a game."

Katiya smiled slowly her mind immediately jumping to a game she would enjoy playing, although a bed would be involved. "What kind of game?"

A blond eyebrow rose over a blue eye. "What kind of game did you have in mind?"

The redhead crossed her arms over her chest, indulging herself in a leer at the other woman's body, from long infinite legs up to her chest and then lips. "Something with less clothes?"

"Less clothes?" She repeated.

"Less clothes." She nodded. "Unless you think you'd lose?"

"I'm not sure I'd necessarily lose by losing clothes, but okay let’s play your game."

Katiya paused. Great, now she had to come up with a game.

"It's...." She looked around wildly, trying to come up with a game. "Cards?"


Alexei wasn't really annoyed that she was losing. She did enjoy cards and dice, opposed to more highbrow upper crust games like chess, at heart she did always feel like she would be an uncouth barbarian. Her annoyance came not from the fact that she had been divested of her shoes, socks, and pants and now sat in the plush chair in only her shirt. It was the fact that Katiya was cheating somehow. She couldn't figure out how though, because in the very first round Katiya had lost, and taken off her shirt. Probably a wise move because the vampire couldn't stop staring at the woman's breasts long enough to watch her hands. Katiya was a card cheat and those nibble little fingers were stacking the deck against the vampire. 

Katiya cleared her throat and Alexei idly dragged her eyes away from the globes of flesh teasing her from across the small table.

Her eyes darted to her cards and sighed, another crap hand.

"How did you talk me into this again?"

Katiya raised an eyebrow, leaning forwards just enough for Alexei’s eyes to go down her chest. There’d been a few minutes there where she’d been certain the vampire was going to just throw the table aside. But Alexei had managed to restrain herself to smoldering looks and staring at her bared breasts. It had been strange at first sitting there without her shirt on, but she’d gotten used to it.

“I suggested it and you agreed?” The redhead set out her cards; smile growing as she saw the hand Alexei had. Not that she really had any doubt that she was going to win the hand. After all, her father had taught her other things than just breaking and entering.

Distracting her opponent with bared breasts helped a lot too.

“I think I win.” Leaning back in her chair, Katiya’s smile widened. “I guess that means you loose your shirt.”

For a moment the vampire's lips pursed together in annoyance at losing. It was something she hadn't done a lot in her life. Then Katiya took a deep breath making her breasts move and the vampire forgot that she had lost, it had been her idea to play a game and she'd agreed to the rules.

"I guess you're right." She pushed back from the table and stood. Poised she started to unbutton her shirt, slowly. Her eyes locked on Katiya's she never once looked away as her shirt came undone.

"So does the winner, win anything, in particular? You weren't really clear on that part."

Watching those long fingers undo the shirt made Katiya lick her lips remembering what other talented things those fingers could do. Finally the shirt slipped down off Alexei’s shoulders and she had to remember to breathe as she took in the full beauty seated across from her. It made her fingers itch to touch and stroke that naked flesh.

“I guess I get to decide what I win?” How far was it from the study to Alexei’s bedroom? Too far, but there had to be a bed closer in one of the unused bedrooms.

Alexei unconcerned with her nakedness sprawled back into the chair. Watching the woman look at her body she forgot she'd lost at all. She'd seen that look before people through the ages had given it too her, but oddly from Katiya it was appreciated. She rested her chin on the palm of her hand and looked at her sneaky, card cheating mouse. 

"So what is it that you desire to win?" She asked her voice low and husky. 

Somehow along the way Katiya had lost control of the situation, again. That happened a lot around Alexei. That low and husky voice made her shift uncomfortably in the seat.

“You.” She whispered. There was surely time before sunrise.

"A very expensive prize indeed." Alexei replied. "But fitting since you did beat me after all." She paused looking Katiya up and down if deciding if the woman was worthy. "Okay, Katiya, you won me. Now where would you like me?" 

The look on the vampires face was full of allsorts of promises.

Katiya’s mouth went dry as all of her moisture decided to go somewhere else.

“Here. Now.” The anticipation was almost as good as the actual deed. She wasn’t going to make it to the nearest bedroom if Alexei touched her first.

Alexei was enjoying this game. This was one she could win. Normally she wasn't one for the seduction scene. Starting off she had been the warrior king, later off she viewed herself more like the philosopher king, and seduction came very low on getting her way. It was somewhere behind her wisdom and the sword.

Slowly she sat up on the chair, placing her elbows on her knees and then her chin on her clasped hands. "If you're going to have me, you need to put us a more even playing field. I think its time you finished loosing the rest of your clothes. 

The tension in the room was drawn tight, anticipation was thick in each inhale and exhale.

Seemingly without her conscious volition, Katiya stood up from the table. Eyes still locked with Alexei's, she slid her fingers down to the waist of the skirt that she'd found waiting for her this morning. She paused as Alexei's eyes flickered to the skin she had just started to reveal.

"Actually," She stilled her fingers. "As winner, shouldn't you have to undress me?"

"As you wish." 

Alexei got up from the chair and crossed silently over to Katiya. She didn't say anything, stood for a moment behind the redhead, not touching but close enough to smell her and feel the heat of her body. Then she circled around the front and lowered herself to her knees. She picked up the left foot and slipped the shoe off, then set it back down. Silently she repeated the actions for the right foot. Shoes gone she let her hands trace up one leg, pausing to finger the garter, letting her fingers slip between the fabric and the warm flesh. After a moment of that she slowly removed the stocking letting her fingers trace over the skin, she smiled to herself as she felt the skin tremble. One side done she mirrored those actions with the other leg.

Rising up on her knees she hooked her fingers into the waistband of the skirt. Feeling her own version of puckishness she leaned forward and kissed Katiya's belly. The muscles jumped and quaked and she couldn't resist a nip to follow up the kiss.

Katiya let out a little sound, knee shaking so much she had to grab onto Alexei’s shoulders to keep herself from falling over. The sight of Alexei kneeling in front of her was doing all sorts of wonderful things to her and her desire. Daringly, she slid her fingers through that silky blonde hair. A little tug let her see the vampire’s eyes, dark and powerful.

“Did you forget something?” She whispered voice husky with want as she shifted in the skirt that was her only piece of remaining clothing.

Alexei just smirked but she didn't say anything. Perhaps a little role reversal was good for the soul. She had no doubt the problems her brethren would have if they ever found out but since it was just her and Katiya no one would.

She nodded and started to undo the ties of the skirt and then she slid it oh so slow down Katiya's body.

Goosebumps raised as a trail everywhere that Alexei's fingers touched. The redhead's fingers clenched hard on her shoulders and her nostrils flared in arousal. She could feel the warmth of the nearby fire radiating from the fireplace. "What else should I have you do?" She wondered out loud.

With the skirt now down around Katiya's feet the vampire placed her hands on the woman's hips, she just shrugged and stayed silent. If she spoke, she was afraid she'd assert reality and this would all have to end.

"I think I should have you kiss me." Katiya wanted, needed, those lips on her skin. Anything to get Alexei to touch her. She added a slight tug to the hair she still had her fingers in to show where the vampire should kiss her.

Alexei got her feet under her and kissed Katiya's lips careful to make sure the only places they touched were lips and where Katiya's hands tangled in her hair.

It wasn't enough the human wanted more. So she silently directed Alexei's head downwards, arching her back upwards as she managed to direct the blonde's head to one of her breasts. She hissed out a low "Yesssss." The entire scene felt surreal. She couldn't understand why Alexei was letting her do this.

Alexei teased with her teeth and tongue, until the nipple was red and pebble hard. Her hands stayed at Katiya's hips her fingers flexing every now and then showing her restraint from taking this all away.

Katiya really didn't know how much longer she was going to be able to stand. When Alexei nipped, again, she nearly fell over. "Floor, now." She demanded. There was a rug in front of the fireplace that would do better than the solid wood floor. How much further was Alexei going to let this go she wondered?

It was hard for a moment Alexei didn't move her jaw flexed as instinct rebelled, but then she moved to the rug in front of the fireplace. She laid down on her side enjoying the heat of the fire and looked at Katiya waiting, watching, still silent.

This was playing with fire and Katiya knew it was going to burn her, but it was oh so much fun. She knelt down next to the long lanky body, trailing her hand from thigh up to shoulder, with a detour for a breast. "Touch me." Katiya was happy she managed to not beg.

Alexei's nostrils flared, but she reached out and drew Katiya down to her, rolling over so she was completely on her back. She lightly at first trailed her hands over Katiya's thighs, stomach and up to her breasts. She avoided the wet apex between the young woman's thighs; she could feel it on her abs as unconsciously Katiya ground down into her. Slowly she let her touch get firmer.

"Harder." Katiya demanded, hips rocking against the taut body below hers, bracing her hands on either side of Alexei's shoulders and watching the firelight reflected in the vampire's eyes. "Lower." The last was a low moan as she trembled at the skilled fingers touching her.

Finally Alexei spoke. "As you desire." She whispered out and let her fingers enter the warm wetness. At the first touch she couldn't maintain control anymore and rolled them over away from the fire. Her hand roughly moving between Katiya's legs. She growled and gritted her teeth.

That was more than she'd thought Alexei would let her get away with, she thought faintly, suddenly finding herself on her back. She arched up her hips, crying out as she felt Alexei's fingers enter her. The fire warmed them both and the tall blonde's body was warm pressed against hers. Urgently she grabbed at the blonde's arms, moving them faster.

"Yes." She hissed again, urging Alexei on.

Katiya was grabbing at her, murmuring and pleading, and then she was cresting and those fingers weren't grabbing they where latched onto her digging into her tough vampiric flesh. She didn't even blink when Katiya turned her head into the crook of Alexei's arm crying out and then biting her. She growled in response and bit the young woman in return teeth and fangs piercing into the meaty flesh of her shoulder.

Katiya screamed in pleasure and pain. She wasn't sure what happened but she might have passed out for a minute or two. When she was aware again, they were a tangle of limbs in front of the fire, still catching her breath and Alexei licking close a bite on her shoulder. A little embarrassed she closed her eyes and pressed her face into the crook of the blonde's neck when she was done.

Once the wound she made was healed she kissed the exposed skin she was getting a little worried, when Katiya kept her face hidden. "Did I hurt you?" She asked concerned.

Hair still slick with sweat, Katiya shook her head. "No." She stayed where she was though, not sure if she could face the world right away.

The vampire frowned puzzled. "Did you not like what we did?" They'd had sex lots of times each time was a little different but Katiya had been a virgin, and new to the world of sexuality, didn't know what she yet preferred. "Just tell me what you didn't like and I promise I'll never do it again." She said seriously.

At that Katiya laughed, and pulled back enough so that she could see the vampire's face. "I loved it." That maybe was the problem she thought. "I just..." She flushed a little. "It was very good." She finished lamely, not sure how to explain.

That did little to ease Alexei's worry. She rolled them over back towards the fire, Katiya on top cradled against her chest. "You loved it but you have the body posture of someone who is ashamed or uncertain." There was an odd emotion circulating inside, one the vampire wasn't sure she liked... hurt that she had not given Katiya what she wanted.

This was nice, Katiya decided, sighing in pleasure as she stretched out on top of Alexei.

"It was amazing." She laid out her palm on the center of Alexei's chest. "I wasn't really supposed to do that though was I? I'm your pet."

Alexei shrugged. "I liked it." She said instead of answering.

The smaller woman opened her mouth to say something, then sighed and settled into the embrace. Why should she talk about things that were obviously not going to change.

"Thank you for playing cards." She said instead, ignoring the tumultuous feelings inside.

Alexei frowned and then reached up easing the lines of worry on Katiya's forehead and sighed as well. "No pets aren't in control... sexually. But you surprised me tonight with Molly and then with the Card game. I very much enjoyed that surprise and wouldn't trade it for anything. But outside these doors no one can know or Karl would demand your life and mine."

"I know." Was the whispered response. She really was getting good at avoiding giving names to things she was feeling. "I won't tell anyone." She grinned though. "I'm glad I surprised you."

"I like surprises; they make me remember that life, even an unnatural one, is worth living."

“Good thing I keep surprising you then." Otherwise she probably still wouldn't be around.

Alexei chuckled, "You my mouse are a never ending stream of surprises. Now my nimble little mouse perhaps you would do your honorary body slave the honor of putting those card-cheating fingers to work. That is if you feel I am worthy of release."

"I don't know." Katiya grinned, enjoying using her fingers to stroke the nearest exposed breast. "You might have to say please."

Alexei made a face of distaste, but after a moment of teasing relented. "Please."

"See? Was that so very hard?" Katiya whispered, pressing kisses to the side of her neck as her fingers continued to stroke and caress their way down her body.

"Says you." The vampire joked, cutting off in a moan as Katiya hit a sensitive spot.

"You talk a lot." Katiya teased, claiming her lips as she put her fingers to better use than cheating at cards.


They were still lying on the rug in front of the fire, probably not the most productive night she’d ever had, well depended on your view of productive. Katiya was dozing, not quite asleep, but not awake either. Alexei was fascinated with the play of light and shadows from the fire over the woman’s pale skin. Gently she stroked the fire-warmed skin, occasionally leaning over to sniff the drying sweat. She could smell the changes to the young woman's body, how her blood was ever so slightly changing tissue and bone.

Katiya would be stronger than most humans now, quicker, and healthier. Not immortal, just hardier.

She felt the disquiet in the prenatural other part of herself that by tenious and not so tenuous threads linked her to her pets and childer.

"Is it time?" Katiya murmured, not wanting to move from the spot she'd curled up in, but feeling the tensing of Alexei's body. She'd long ago lost track of what time it was.

It must be near sunrise and Vidar was demonstrating what happened to vampires that she felt were a threat to her household. "Mmm, I believe it is. Do you think you can be a convincing pet?" Alexei murmured into Katiya's ear.

"Did you want me to wear a collar?" The human answered, stretching against Alexei's body feeling a pleasant soreness, as she teased. It seemed like an age ago that the vampire had threatened her with wearing a collar.

She'd never actually made her pets where collars unless they were travelling outside her small territory. "Can you behave?"

"I thought I always behaved?" Katiya smiled, unrepentantly and sat up, missing Alexei's touch immediately.

Alexei chuckled, "I think you're misbehaving right now." She got up and went over picking up her pants and slid into them.

"I could suggest a few things you could do to stop me from misbehaving, too badly but we don't have time." She found her skirt where Alexei had dropped it and went in search of the rest of her clothing.

Alexei raised an eyebrow at that. "Not such the shy mouse anymore are we?" She found her shirt and slipped it on leaving it unbuttoned and sat down in a chair. "You know I think a greater impression would be made on my wayward sons if you stayed naked."

Katiya paused reaching for her shirt, feeling her face start to heat. "You want me to be naked? In front of Matvey and Stepan?"


Katiya licked dry lips. "Why?" She really didn't like that idea.

Alexei thought about being offended for a moment that she was being questioned, but let it go, seeing how acutely Katiya was embarrassed by the idea. "Part of the problem is you, they feel their place is threatened by you." She held out a hand.

Katiya still held onto her shirt, biting her lip. "If you want me naked, I can be naked." She had to trust Alexei knew what she was doing.

"Of course I want you naked; we have the most fun that way." She joked. However, seeing no smile grace Katiya's lips she became serious and pulled her down onto her lap.

"Naked makes them feel superior to you, and lets them see how human and vulnerable you are. It will honestly put you in a better position with them. Trust me, no one will harm you or touch you. Well, except for me."

It was a hard thing to do, trust her that much. Watching her eyes, Katiya nodded slowly. "All right." A little shimmy of her hips and she shoved off her skirt. "Naked it is." This was going to be interesting.

Alexei placed one hand across Katiya's lap on her hip, keeping her in place on her lap; with the other she cupped a cheek letting her thumb stroke red lips.

She heard the footsteps first down the hall, three different steps: one forceful and sure, the other two shaky and hesitant.

Katiya relaxed into the touch, trying to ignore the urge to bolt and snatch up her clothes as the doorknob turned.

Vidar came in first, his eyes widening and then narrowing at the display not happy at all.

For some reason that obvious displeasure on the Nordic man's expression made it easier for Katiya to face the next two.

"The American has been staked out for the coming sun as you commanded." He grumbled out. "These two would beg forgiveness I believe."

Matvey and Stepan were grabbed and hauled forward into the room. They stood only in torn and bloody pants, their skin sported burns and cuts a testament to Alexei's displeasure and lack of food.

Stepan's eyes took them in and then darted away trying to look anywhere but at the couple on the chair. The room stank of sex and blood. Matvey, older slightly than Stepan looked at Katiya, hungrily and openly, forgetting he was allowed to live by Alexei's good graces, not that he shared any blood ties.

The human made the mistake of meeting Matvey's eyes and she shrank back against Alexei's comforting form, away from that insane hunger that glowed within his eyes. There was no doubt in her mind that if he could he would rip her apart to get every drop of blood out of her that he could. She also knew she'd never think the same of the absent minded boy-man who'd taught her reading.

"I have not given you leave to look at me or mine. You gave up rights to this household the moment treason sprang from your lips." Alexei said quietly, but each word issued dread warning. She moved one hand so it reassuringly stroked Katiya's back.

It was better, Katiya decided relaxing again at that touch, to avoid looking the vampires in the eye.

Instantly both men's eyes looked to the floor, Matvey's Adams’ apple bobbed as he nervously swallowed.

"Vidar remind these creatures how to grovel and bow in front of their master."

"I thought you'd never ask." He really did enjoy putting vampires in their place; it was something of a hobby. A punch to both of their backs sent them to the floor and he ground his heel into the small of both of their backs. He looked up hopefully at Alexei to see if she'd want more done to them.

"Thank you Vidar. If you would wait outside the door, I'll call you if they need another reminder."

Grumbling, he cast one last look at Katiya and gave the two groveling vampires a little kick to remember him by before going outside and closing the door behind him.

"Now Matvey, can you please tell us what I do to people who try to usurp my power. Remember your Sire."

Wordlessly the young man lay on the floor for a bit, then said not looking up. "You disemboweled him and hung him from a tree in your garden with his own guts to see his last sunrise."

"And our American friend is waiting a similar fate only with stakes instead of guts. So why shouldn't I do the same to you two?"

That certainly sounded like a bad way to go, Katiya thought.

Alexei paused then continued. "Whatever jealousies you feel over each other or my pets, get over it. I don't have time to deal with your insecurities, nor do I care about them. The only persons whose needs matter in this house are mine. If I want to say for example, yell and threaten my pet one minute and then fuck her senseless the next is it any of your concerns? No!"

Both men flinched.

Katiya joined them, glad that she wasn't on the receiving end of this anger. She could feel the muscles tensing in Alexei's arms and shoulders. She had no doubt that the Master of the house was on edge.

"If I tell you to oversee the factories, you oversee the fucking factories. If I tell you to leave a possible traitor alone so he can lead me to the nest of traitors you do it. Because what I want is the only thing that matters. I don't care what you want." Alexei smiled and leaned forward nipping at Katiya's neck, letting her fangs tease the skin all the way up to her earlobe, but never pierced the skin.

From Katiya's neck she murmured "Are you two clear?"

Stepan didn't dare look up, knowing death would await him if he did. "Clear." He growled.

"There is a nest of foreign vampires in my city, nesting, waiting to kill us all, and you're insecure, petty bullshit could have gotten us killed. What if they'd tried to sweep the house while you two were chained below? Everyone could have died and you'd be a trussed Christmas goose for them to kill at their leisure. So this is your last chance. Fuck it up and you'll join the American."

Stepan stewed, he knew she was right, but damnit she had to see that they were right also. He had no choice but to agree though. "What do you want from us?" He said, knowing Matvey was staying quiet.

"Nothing, why would I want anything from you? You merely have to do what any good childer would do, I gave you this life, and you two owe me everything."

Matvey clenched his jaw, but he forced himself to talk. "I'll go back to the factories." He hated that place so much.

"Thank you Matvey. A suggestion. You do know if everything is working smoothly and correctly, and that the workers are happy, you could probably study for a few hours in the office?"

He dared jerk his head up at that, eyes glowing with sudden hope. "I could... bring books with me?" He wanted to be clear on this.

"Yes, but keep in mind you're first responsibility is the factories."

"I will." He lowered his head, the hatred of being at the factories easing a little.

"And Stepan while you're concern for my well being is... quaint. Perhaps if you were more serious about it you would join with the twins in rooting the American's out of the tunnels by the old factories by the rivers. On the bookshelf is a map with areas where we believe there are lookouts watching to warn the Americans."

He wasn't, nor had he ever been as blood lust crazed as the twins. He wasn't about to risk her ire again though. "I'll go with the twins."

"Good choice, then when you worry about my well being you'll have a better idea how I've managed to keep myself alive for over a thousand years without your help."

He winced, but nodded silently.

"And perhaps you'll learn not to be afraid of a human pet but the bigger and badder things out there that can really hurt you."

She looked at them both them for a moment. "Vidar." She called out finally.

The door opened and he leaned in, hopeful for a little bloodshed. "Yes?"

"Take them out of here; give them pig’s blood to eat. They'll have to prove they're not treasonous creatures to earn human. If they fail me again, you can do a repeat of the American on them."

He grunted and grabbed them both by the arm, lifting them up off the floor and putting them not too gently onto their feet. A shove sent them out the door, which he shoved, closed behind him.

"Did that go well?" Katiya asked after the door was closed, not really sure if that had been good or bad.

Alexei was still for a moment then let out a breath. "Matvey got it. Stepan was willful until I played the age card, reminding how long I've walked this earth. I think took the air out of his sails."

"Took the air out of his sails?" Katiya grinned, amused by the saying. "Can I get dressed now?"

"I don't know." Alexei pretended to think about it. "What if I like you naked?"

"Then I guess you'll just have to undress me more often." Katiya tried to squirm out of her grip.

With a chuckle Alexei let Katiya get up. Although she didn't even pretend not to watch her get dressed.


It felt like old times again, slipping along the streets trying to stay within the shadows that cloaked the dark corners. All that was missing was her father behind her, whispering instructions and Ivan ahead of them, doing as he pleased. Instead she was trailing along somewhere behind Alexei, with Vidar not far away, the white hound keeping pace with her. Stepan and the twins, who still gave her the chills, had disappeared several blocks ago, going to take care of the lookouts, hopefully.

Winter may last longer in the northern parts of Russia but it wouldn't last forever, Alexei noted the signs that spring was on its way. As the black snow melted some during the day leaving black ice at night once the temperature had lowered again.

She also wondered if she should have given Katiya a weapon other than that small little blade she carried, well and Vidar.

She paused coming out of an alleyway and pointed at a dubious looking shack. "Is that the bar?"

"Yes." Katiya shivered, not liking the memories from her brief visits there.

"Smells like a hobo's armpit."

"You should see what they serve to drink." Katiya wrinkled her nose in distaste. She nodded to the farthest empty shell of a warehouse. "Did they get the lookouts?"

"We'll find out." She took a step and then paused looking back at Katiya. "Would it do any good to ask you to stay put?"

"Probably not." Katiya smiled, red hair hidden under a black knit cap, which matched the dark shirt and pants she'd found waiting her this evening.

Alexei just sighed and started towards the bar. "Vidar, go watch the back door, if anyone leaves, well you know."

The hound growled, which had a happy sound to it. "He really likes doing this doesn't he?" Katiya asked, hurrying to keep up with Alexei's longer legs.

With a predators grace she crossed to the door and pushed it open entering the smoky, dark pit of humanity. The smell of human bodies sweating, having gone who knows how long without a bath caused her to make a face at the stench.

The drinkers, most of them were far past caring that Alexei had entered the bar. Most of those sat with long pipes hooked up to a strange water filled device smoking something. A few of the more aware of their surroundings drunks looked up and let out catcalls as they spotted the vampire at the door.

Alexei walked over to a table near the back and picked up the two men sitting there and easily threw them towards the door. When they got up with angry glares she calmly looked at them and said. "No matter how bad you are or tough I'm 10 times that."

Katiya lingered by the door, biting her lip as she tried not to laugh at the confused angry looks on the two men's faces. They ended up backing away, still confused, but deciding to not push things. "I think I like coming to bars with you." She said, watching them as they yelled curses back at them but kept moving. A few of the other patrons, who were still aware of their surroundings, watched Alexei warily now.

"I do have certain... presence. Remember to keep your face in the shadows and don't speak. I don't want your friend to realize you're working with me."

Katiya winced, she'd almost forgotten about the point of the evening.

"Hey, what the hell do you think your doing?" A voice from the back shouted at Alexei as its owner spotted the damage she'd just done to the door.

"Airing out the place." Alexei growled out but didn't get up.

"Girl, you owe me for driving away business." The man had an odd accent, Katiya thought, staying as deep in the shadows as possible. He shoved a table aside, sending a man who'd been smoking opiates tumbling to the floor.

The vampire watched him come, but didn't even look concerned. "You can join them." She replied in an even tone.

"Are you deaf?" He grabbed the pistol in the strange looking holster at his side and Katiya realized where she'd heard that strange accent before. He spoke Russian better than the other American, but it was there nonetheless. "I run this bar; you owe me money, Girl."

"Actually at my age I think I've gained the right to be called a woman." Under the table she kicked out at foot letting it connect with an unused chair and sent it hurtling back straight into the oncoming man. In a blur she was up out of her own chair and had a dagger at his throat.

"Who the...?" He started to yell, then growled in pain as she grabbed him and slammed him back, the dagger sharp on skin. He wasn't a vampire, only a pet, and the elder moved faster than he could track.

Nearby one of the drunks wasn't quite as drunk as Katiya had thought. She watched him intently as a hand started to creep towards the folds of his coat. Silently as she could, she started to sidle along the wall towards him as he focused on Alexei.

"You smell of vampires, and since I own this city, and am the only one allowed to have pets, that leaves us with one simple conclusion... you're going to have to die."

He struggled in her grip, trying to get the pistol he was holding up out of the holster so he could pull the trigger repeatedly against her head. He was used to being stronger than most, but he was starting to panic as he realized her grip wasn't even budging.

His struggling got more desperate, legs flailing about as he tried to shake her grip. "You're going to die!" He yelled, eyes wild. "My Master's going to stake you out in the sun!"

Alexei had to admit she rather liked his fear. She smiled, "You mean like I did this morning with your comrade, Joshua."

He went limp in her grip, staring at her in astonishment. "You're lying."

Behind them, Katiya slipped the sharp little dagger of hers out into the palm of her hand, watching the drunk aim the pistol towards the two standing in the center of the room. Everyone's attention was on Alexei now, all watching her with horrified fascination.

Alexei laughed, "I don't have to lie." She frowned looking into his eyes trying to make out what was being reflected there. Her own eyes widening a bit she reached out grabbing the pet and in a quick move twirled them so his body was between hers and the man with the gun.

The drunk jerked, hand clenching around the pistol and the shot going wild up into the ceiling as he screamed. Katiya danced back, her sharp little blade red with blood from the side of his chest where she'd stabbed.

In a swift, somewhat blurred motion Alexei pinned the pet with her dagger to the bar and then ran over to Katiya. A normal man would be dying; this however was another pet, fed long on vampiric blood. She hit him once in the kidneys, a solid bone crushing punch that would make someone piss blood. Then as he staggered to his knees she reached down and with more than enough pressure snapped his neck.

Unconcerned if he was dead or paralyzed she went to Katiya. "Are you okay?"

The human gave her a shaky smile, waving the red dagger and trying not to show the shaking in her hands. "I'm good. He missed you right?"

"He shot the ceiling. I'm fine." She reached out, but hesitated, instead made do with a pat to the shoulder before turning back to the man attached to the bar.

Disappointed not to have gotten a hug, Katiya stayed where she was, not really wanting to get close to the screaming pet at the bar.

Alexei frowned; this wasn't really how she had seen the night going. Reaching out she ripped her dagger out of the man's hand and then dragged him to the door. They'd made enough noise for one night.

Vidar was waiting by the door, watching her with amusement. "Maybe you could shout out that we're here?"

With a sigh, Alexei said. "All I wanted was a table and a drink. This guy had to blow everything out of proportion." She tossed the man at Vidar.

He caught the moaning pet, grinning. "That mean you're giving him to me?"

"Sure, he pissed me off enough you can do whatever you want with him."

The smile turned evil and Vidar dragged the screaming man off into the darkness. Katiya watched it all with wide eyes. She shook her head once and looked at the people who were now trying very hard to pretend that Alexei didn't exist.

"I'd leave you at home but I need you to identify Ivan." She reached out an arm and pulled Katiya along after her into a different set of shadows that Vidar had gone.

"Well now there's been a fight here, something not that uncommon, but if we’re lucky those drunks in there won't remember what I look like." She reached out lifting up Katiya's face studying the woman for a moment.

Serious blue eyes stared up at her, waiting to see what it was that she wanted. "He'll be here." What would happen when he came she didn't know, but it wouldn't be good.

"Are you okay?" Alexei asked, Katiya had tried to protect her, something she wasn't use too.

"Shaky." She tried to put on a brave face. "I've only used the dagger twice before." She admitted, slowly. Once she'd only cut a guy trying to rob her, the second time though she'd stabbed it into the neck of a drunk who had been certain she was a whore.

The vampire nodded, she pulled the human woman into her body holding her. "Have you ever killed someone?"

Gratefully, Katiya sank into the embrace, hiding her face against the blonde woman's shoulder. "The second time." There'd been a lot of blood. "I think." She hadn't waited to see though.

"I killed him, you didn't. He was a pet, or he would have died right away." It had been a good shot.

"I know." She'd stabbed him only wanting to keep him from shooting Alexei.

One of the twins ghosted out of the darkness, wide dark eyes taking in the embrace. "Humans are coming."

The vampire bent her head down and whispered into Katiya's ear. "Thank you for what you did. No ones really... thank you." She stood back up and peered out of the shadows.

Katiya met the dark knowing eyes of the twin, before the vampires slipped back into the darkness. It was eerie watching them move in and out of the darkness like that. "What are you going to do to him, if it's Ivan and Boris?"

"I'm not sure really. Part of me wants to hurt them like they hurt Mr. Morozov and his family. Nobody deserves that. But I suppose I'll ask them questions."

Katiya didn't know how to feel about that. She didn't like Ivan, feared him, hated him, but they’d grown up together. He wasn’t her brother by blood, but he might as well have been.

Katiya didn't need Alexei's acute senses to hear the approaching humans. Ivan was talking loud enough to carry through the evening. Boris was being his normal silent, hulking self, trailing behind Ivan as the two headed to the front door of the bar.

"That is a big man." Was Alexei's only comment in the dark.

"A nasty man." Katiya agreed. Watching the two from their shadows as Ivan started to climb the steps to the door.

Then she followed it up with. "Somewhere in that family tree there must be a troll."

Katiya shifted next to her. "Trolls?" She wasn't sure she wanted to know if they were real.

"A tale for another time. Let’s wait a minute and see if they come back out."

"Is Vidar keeping an eye on the back?"

"He's playing with his new chew toy, but the twins are probably there."

"Why did he look upset when he saw me on your lap earlier?"

Alexei blew out a breath; she was actually surprised Vidar was still being nice to her, after that. She hadn't taken in to account his feelings about Katiya. "Let’s say you had a younger sister, would you like to see her frolicking naked on someone's lap?"

“I probably wouldn’t like that.” Katiya said after a moment.

"He thinks of you as family, you're his responsibility and he watches out for you, and I think he really cares for you, and my stunt yesterday crossed a line between us." She was silent for a moment, and then finally said. "I made a mistake."

Katiya was silent, thinking of the look in Vidar's eyes as he'd seen her naked on Alexei's lap. She watched the front of the building, seeing no sign of Ivan or Boris coming back out of the bar. "I don't think they're coming back out."

"I think you're right. Stay out of sight, don't want to tip them off that you're with me."

She started walking back to the front door.

Unhappily, Katiya stayed where she was. "Be careful." She whispered into the night.

Alexei yet again entered the bar, and looked around. She didn't really have a plan; plans were for people who possessed subtly, which she did not. She spotted the duo shaking down some street rat by the bar.

"I don't have the money! I swear..." The miserable wretch was shaking. Ivan studied him over a knife he was using to pick clean his nails. Boris stood motionless behind them. "I don't care if you don't have the money. You owe me. You know what that means."

The man wrung his hands together, babbling excuses. "A waste of time. Wouldn't you agree Boris?" The large man grunted flexing impressive muscles. "I hate wastes of time."

At that the large man stepped up to the quaking man, grabbing him with one large hand and then slamming him, repeatedly into the bar top until he stopped moaning and crying.

Ivan watched with a faint smile. "Let that be a lesson to all you miserable fuckers who don't pay on time!" He yelled at everyone who was watching.

"Tough man to beat on a scrawny thing like that. Why he's not even a third of your size." Alexei said filling the silence.

"Who..." Ivan stopped in mid question, staring at Alexei, before starting to laugh. "You must be insane to come here!"

"You really shouldn't be concerned about my sanity; you should be more concerned about how I got here without one of your little lookouts warning you. But that's really a small concern too, what should really trouble you Ivan, is the murdering of my lawyer and his family. For all his annoying morality, I was rather fond of Mr. Morozov."

A flicker of something crossed the man's face; it might have been fear or anger. "He screamed all the way into his death." Was his answer though as he leaned against the bar top. "Boris, get me a drink will you?"

The large man watched Alexei, but nodded and started around the bar to fetch a drink.

"How's my darling Katiya doing? I hear you've taken a fondness to her?" Ivan drawled.

"Your Katiya?" Alexei asked as she calmly sauntered over to the bar and casually sat down next to Ivan. Acting as if she had nothing at all to be worried about. In truth she was not worried about these two at all.

"Actually, I did promise her to Boris." He smiled maliciously, as Boris reached beneath the bar top and pulled out a bottle. Fixing a whiskey he slid it over to Ivan.

"Well if you did, she's not really disappointed by the fact that she sleeps in my bed and not his. So I'd say Boris is rather forgettable."

"Poor Boris didn't get a chance." Ivan took a sip of the whiskey, making a face at it. "He'll get another chance." Boris nodded, a glint coming to his eyes as he considered that next chance.

Alexei snorted. "Highly unlikely considering you'll both be dead."

Ivan smiled. "I'm on the winning side, so I doubt that."

"Really? You did notice you're friends, those pets are gone. Nobody in this place will have your back once I start with the bloodletting, in fact they may help once I tell them they can take anything off your dead bodies."

"Please." He smirked, sipping the whiskey again. "That's the thing with you vampires. You're all rooted in the past. Do you really think those lookouts were the only way I kept an eye on things here?" Boris folded his arms over his large chest, lips moving into something that probably was supposed to mimic a smile.

"So tell me Ivan. If you're so smart how are you going to stop me from killing you?"

"Actually..." He smiled as he heard the start of yells from outside. "I think you have to choose between killing me and letting your friends outside get killed." It was a gamble, one he wasn't happy with, but he hadn't been given an option this time. Boris started around the bar top.

"Oh my friends can take care of themselves." She reached over and grabbed Ivan shoulder shoving him back down on to the chair. "If they can't they don't deserve to be of my blood. Perhaps it’s you who doesn’t really understand what you're playing with. Childer and pets are disposable, but what’s even lower than that is - human cattle. Guess what you are?"

Alexei had to trust those outside could do their job, it was hard, but she had to push just a little longer. If not all this was for nothing.

He grimaced in pain as dug her fingers into his shoulder. Boris started to reach for her, but a tightening of her grip on Ivan's shoulder caused him to yell out, stopping the large man. "You'll never get out of here without me!" Ivan was sweating; the Master had sworn he wouldn't have to face Alexei for long.

Alexei chuckled smelling his fear. "I don't care how many are out there; those American's are young and stupid. My blood is older than their country, and it doesn't make weaklings. They are nothing. You may live, if you give me something."

"Their Master would kill me for helping you."

She clenched her fingers and he swore he felt bone grind against bone as he yelled in pain. "All right! All right!" Boris stayed where he was, staring at Alexei, fingers flexing.

Nothing but a bully, Alexei thought. "My signet ring, I want it back."

He bared his teeth in a grimace. "What signet ring?"

"The one that Fenix’s men stole from me. It has a carving of a horse on it. I want it back"

Boris's eyes flicked to Ivan then back to Alexei.

Ivan, for his part, was having trouble not screaming. "Oh that ring."

The fighting outside was mostly silent. There were occasional snarling screams or desperate yells, which sometimes ended in gurgling silence.

"Yes, that ring." She reached over grabbing a finger. "Seems to me Ivan that you might be stalling for time. Let me jog your memory." She easily snapped his pinky finger.

His scream was high and sharp. Boris moved forward, stopping again when she ground her fingers into his shoulder hard enough to draw blood this time. Gasping for breath, Ivan swallowed. "Yes. Fine, take your stupid ring." With his remaining good hand he fumbled at a necklace around his neck with the ring hanging from it.

"See that wasn't so hard." She reached up and snapped the necklace off his neck and then patted him on the back. "Nice doing business with you."

She walked past Boris and then in a blur of motion stopped and turned slitting the large man's throat with a hidden dagger. "Oh, and Ivan I said you'd live, I said nothing about Boris."

"Boris?" He stared at the large man who was grabbing at his throat, trying to force the blood back into his body as he sank to his knees.

"I don't like people to covet what is mine. Katiya is mine." She said in parting.


The space between the warehouses outside was littered with bloodied bodies. The blood was black in the feeble flickering light from the few gas lamps. Stepan was standing by the bottom step, his right arm held at a strange angle from his body, but he was standing as Alexei emerged from the bar.

"The twins are trying to hunt down a few that got away." He said without preamble.

"Good boy, maybe I'll let you have human blood." She mused. "So it was a trap? Does that mean I owe Vidar money?"

"They came out of the cellar of that warehouse." He nodded to the closest one. "Used manure to cover their scent." He wrinkled his nose in disgust at that tactic.

She walked down to him, "That is just beyond disgusting." She stopped next to him and then leaned over kissing his forehead. "You did well, I'm very happy with you. I had faith you could hold them off. He tried to use it as a tactic to escape, thought I would run out here to protect you. But I knew these weaklings would be nothing to you." She praised him now, because she had been cruel, and at heart Stepan was an actor and needed his ego stroked.

"Come summer I think perhaps its time for you to return to the stage in Moscow, perhaps start your own house."

He was too much of a seasoned actor to obviously bask in the praise, but he bowed in response, eyes glowing with pleasure. "Moscow in the summer." He sighed in pleasure at that thought, and of his own house.

"I will talk to the Master of the city. Moscow is big enough if you kept your household small, perhaps a childer in time and a few pets I don't think he'd have a problem. Dmitri and I go back a ways."

She reached out as they talked and in a quick move snapped his arm back into place.

He had to work to stop from smiling at her words, which turned into a yell of pain. "Ah! Damnit! Couldn't you have warned me?" Eyes watering with pain he held the broken arm to his chest.

"Maybe, but then you would have fought me. Now it’s over with."

He grimaced, the pain slowly fading to something that didn't make him want to bare his fangs, which would have ended badly in front of Alexei.

She chuckled and then kissed him lightly on the lips. "And when you find your own Katiya, I will give you hell about it. Just to return the favor. Jealousy destroys us in our world; she never replaced any of you in my heart, just made it bigger." She whispered to him, before pulling away.

He looked at her in confusion, not even sure how to begin to answer that. Instead he nodded to the far set of warehouses. "Vidar was protecting her I think." He watched her turn to go. "Maybe someday I will find my own." He didn't know if that idea thrilled or scared him.

She nodded. "Let’s go home people. It’s been a great night, my bloods pumping with victory and I'd like to have sex in my own bed."


Katiya stayed inside, where she'd been shoved by Vidar when the vampires had erupted from wherever they had been hiding. The small dagger in her hand had felt impossibly inadequate compared to the dozen vampires that had suddenly appeared. Vidar had bounded out, laughing as he joined the fray, happy to finally be fighting.

"I guess I owe you again." Katiya said to Tereza .

The Hunter shrugged. "I think we’re even, I was tracking them here to you and your 'friends'," she used the term loosely. "I have a feeling if you hadn't been here I wouldn't have had the chance to kill vampires."

There were a series of bodies showing where Tereza had come in through a window and started her killing. Too bad, Katiya thought, vampires didn't turn into ash when they died, unless they burned in the sunlight. "Thank you, again." The last vampire had gotten uncomfortably close.

Tereza chuckled. "No thank you. Anything for a damsel in distress."

Alexei’s voice came from outside. "What do you mean she's not with you?"

Tereza winced.

Katiya winced at the same time. "Time for you to go I think."

The hunter nodded and turned to go before pausing and turned back. "I still don't like her, but..." She shrugged not having any words for how that night had changed her world view and she still wasn't happy about the shift in perspective.

The redhead stepped closer, touching her shoulder with a small smile. "I know. It's hard to look at things differently." She could hear Vidar's grumbled answer from outside and gave the hunter a push.

"Better go." Alexei was not a big fan of the dark skinned woman.

Tereza nodded. "I'm sure I'll see you later. Try and stay out of trouble."

"I try." Katiya smiled, watching the hunter go out the same way she'd come in.

Alexei kicked the door in breaking one of the hinges, so it hung at an angle.

"She's fine."

She turned around glaring at Vidar. "Do you see all those dead vamps? Fine my ass."

The vampire took a step inside and sniffed her eyes narrowing. She crossed her arms over her chest and said. "So how many did you actually kill?"

Katiya put away the unused dagger, sighing as she realized this probably wasn't going to be good. "None of them."

The vampires lips pursed into a thin line. "The hunter?" She asked tersely.

Vidar wisely slunk back outside seeing that Alexei was now focused on Katiya.

The human gave his retreating form a dark look as he abandoned her to deal with Alexei. "Coward." She whispered, looking back at the angry vampire. "Yes." she quickly continued as Alexei tensed "She saved me." That was starting to become routine.

Alexei ground her teeth a little and then turned. “Let’s go.” She said tersely.

Katiya blinked and then hurried to catch up. “Did you get it?”

"Yes. With a little pain and violence and ignoring the trap they'd set up, I got my ring." Her tone was still a little clipped. Part of her was insecure about the hunter; afraid Katiya actually would prefer a human's attentions to hers.

"Are we jogging all the way home?" Katiya huffed, trying to keep up.

Alexei sighed and slowed down. "Sorry, I... she just..." The vampire made a face in frustration. "She just bugs me."

"Does it help to know that you bug her?" Katiya grabbed a hand and squeezed it before letting go, wincing again as she remembered they were out in public. She didn't dare look to see where Stepan was.

Alexei stopped and looked at Katiya. "It does." Then she reached out pulling Katiya into her and kissed her thoroughly. Pulling back she mumbled. "It helps that I can do that and she can't, as well."

A little breathless, Katiya smiled. "There's more than that, that you can do and she can't."

Alexei smiled. "I like the way you think." She took Katiya's hand and started walking again. They emerged out of an alleyway on to a street and Alexei's carriage was waiting. On seeing them the driver opened the door.

"And no we’re not walking or jogging back to the manor.”

Alexei watched the city go by, her fingers rotating her signet ring over and over. Finally she looked over at Katiya and asked. "Did Boris, or Ivan ever..." She trailed off that was silly question Alexei herself had taken Katiya's virginity, and suddenly she didn't feel any better than Boris.

Katiya blinked; looking up from the signet ring she'd been watching flip around Alexei's elegant fingers. "Did Boris or Ivan ever what?" There was a long list of what those two had done.

"Ivan said he'd promised you to Boris when I was dead. Did he ever hurt you?"

Flinching, Katiya shook her head. "Not like that. Boris tried..." She trailed off, not really wanting to bring Tereza up again. "But he didn't."

Alexei nodded. "Good, I'm glad he didn't, and he won't ever hurt you again." She'd made sure of that, the dagger hidden in her coat was probably still coated with his blood.

It didn't take much to realize what that meant. "What happened?" Katiya asked, slowly, not sure she really wanted to know.

"I killed him." Was the blunt reply.

"Both of them?"

"No just Boris, I promised Ivan I wouldn't kill him if he gave me my ring."

Katiya nodded, turning to watch the street outside. Her reflection frowned back at her and she wondered what she was feeling. She should be upset that Ivan was still alive.

"I'm glad you have your ring back." The woman in the window didn't look like she was that happy.

Alexei leaned back against the seat and sighed. "You're upset with me."

"No." She hesitated. "Yes. I don't know." She turned to look at the blonde. "I'm not really sure what I feel." She admitted slowly.

"What's wrong?" Alexei watched Katiya's face for any clues, but her face was closed to her.

"I should want him dead, Ivan." She was happy that Boris was dead. "He's evil; he killed Madame Oullette, burned down her house just because I wasn't there anymore. He let my father die."

"I thought Fenix let your father die." Human emotions were confusing.

"They both did." Katiya took a breath to calm herself. "Fenix didn't give us shelter, turned us away. But Ivan..." She shook her head. "He helped them find dad."

"Next time I see Ivan, I'll kill him for you." She shrugged, it wasn't like she didn't want too kill him; it just hadn't worked out this time.

"No." Katiya blinked in surprise as she said it, confused.

"No?" Alexei asked slowly, confused.

"Maybe." Katiya said slowly. "I don't know." She sighed, slumping into her seat.

"Ah," Alexei said sliding to the carriage floor on her knees, resting her hands on Katiya's thighs. "You are conflicted." Her own rather nimble fingers undid the buttons of Katiya's pants and pulled them down. "He was raised as a sibling, a brother to you" She leaned forward kissing and nibbling the flesh of the redhead's thighs trading the left for right and then traded again. She blew out a breath on the glistening curls.

"And when he reached manhood he proved himself a man and master of his trade in a violent way, by usurping his teacher. Unfortunately that master teacher was your father." She leaned forward even more between the young woman's warm trembling thighs and let her tongue sneak a taste of what was hidden at the apex of those thighs.

Katiya's hips rose up off the leather seat as she gasped in surprise at Alexei's sudden movements. "Yes." She said, loudly. To both the actions and the words.

"You had a closeness growing up; perhaps he actually acted like a brother. Beat up bullies who teased you, patched up a wound on a knee when you fell down, or was proud of you when you picked your first lock.”

"It was the first time I picked a pocket." Katiya gasped, it was really hard having a conversation like this.

On her knees Alexei licked and sucked teasing Katiya but not giving her release, all the while pausing here and there to keep up the conversation. "Then he changed and he wasn't the boy you knew growing up, but a stranger wearing his flesh."

"Yes." Katiya whimpered, she'd agree to anything right then, trying to urge her on and groaning in frustration when Alexei continued to tease. "Please..."

"And when your father died, he acted like he was now in charge taking your father's place. But his ideas were darker and twisted, polluted and wrong sickening the core of who you are and the two can't exist without one of you withering and dying."

Her hands reached out grabbing warm flesh and pulled Katiya down to the edge of the seat giving her better access, she spread the redhead's lips open with one hand and grinning took the blood engorged clit into her mouth alternating sucking at it and nibbling gently with her teeth.

Katiya gave one buck with her hips then screamed, not caring who heard right then just that Alexei had finally managed to give her release. Reducing her to a shaking mess on the seat, hands still wrapped in Alexei's hair as she tried to catch her breath. "See, you already know the full story." She shuddered as Alexei pressed a kiss to her thigh and moaned when a tongue licked her.

Alexei chuckled. "I guessed. Although I do listen when you say things. I was just trying to ease you're internal conflict." She looked up at the woman from where she rested her head against Katiya's thigh.

Swallowing past the lump in her throat, Katiya managed a shaky grin. Stroking her fingers through her hair. "Big bad vampire." She whispered.

"Who ever Ivan was when you were growing up, he isn't that anymore. He's a man who felt it was his right to give your body to a rapist and a murderer." Alexei still remembered the broken and shattered body of Mrs. Morozov.

"I know he isn't. I know what he is now. How many people he's hurt, what he would do if he could to me. But he used to almost be my brother." She shook her head, managing to twist out of Alexei's embrace so that she could kiss her long and thoroughly. "Thank you for that."

The vampire grinned. "My pleasure." She sat back in her seat pulling Katiya with her into her lap. Her face took on a wicked look. "Now this time." Her fingers now trailed through Katiya's wet curls. "Is for my own selfish desires’."


Alexei exited the carriage a rather smug look on her face. She winked up at the driver, who did her best to hide a knowing smile. Holding out her arm she helped a rather wrinkled looking Katiya out of the carriage.

The dark clothes she was wearing were in bad shape, as she had to hold onto Alexei's hand to avoid loosing her balance. She was also pretty sure at least one or two buttons weren't really buttoned properly. She'd panicked a little when she realized they were pulling up to the manor. "You look pleased with yourself." She whispered.

Alexei just smiled. "Do you have any complaints about what I just did to you repeatedly? And I'm smug, definitely feeling smug."

"No complaints, just wish I didn't look so thoroughly…" She paused for a second, searching for the word. "Ravished?" That would work as they walked up to the front door.

"I think its rather becoming myself. Now if you're good, perhaps I'll let you ravish me later." The door opened as they approached.

"Evening, I take it the evening was a success, Mistress." Lyov merely raised an eyebrow at Katiya's clothes.

Who turned red at the silent look. She really had to get changed before they saw anyone else.

"It was rather smashing, and bloody, oh Lyov was there blood." Alexei said entering the house.

Alexei let go of Katiya's arm and handed her coat to Lyov as well as a lethal looking dagger.

"As I can see, Mistress." He said dryly, looking at the blood stains across some of that clothing. "I'll see to these." He took the dagger as well and stepped away.

Alexei took Katiya's arm again leading her to the kitchen. "Let’s get that cup."

"Right now?" Katiya went a little unwillingly, hoping that Warren and Fiona were sleeping by now.

"Yes, now." She stopped and looked at Katiya. "Are you seriously getting shy about the way you look? Most people should be so lucky as to look like they had just received a good hard, marathon of sex." Alexei really didn't get what the problem was.

There were times when Alexei could be so very startlingly perceptive about human feelings, and then others which just confused Katiya. This time she patted the vampire on the arm and gave up. "It just takes getting used to."

Alexei nodded, "I can understand that, I didn't really like sex at first. Seduction was a complete mystery. But after a few hundred years I finally caught on to what other’s knew, sex is fun if done right. I'm sorry I assumed you enjoyed it, well you seemed too."

"What?" Katiya's startled yell was definitely louder than she meant it to be. Grabbing onto Alexei's arm she managed to get her to stop and turn to look at her. "Of course I liked it. Do you really need me to say it?" At the blank look she was getting, Katiya sighed.

"I loved having sex with you! It was amazing, you were amazing, and all of it was great."

Alexei smiled at the admission. "Then did I misunderstand the problem?"

Fiona called from the kitchen. "I think she's embarrassed. It's not normal having sex with another woman."

Katiya groaned and buried her face in Alexei's shoulder. Of course Fiona was in the kitchen.

Alexei turned shouting back. "I'm well aware of the churches views on such things."

"Then stop embarrassing the poor girl!" Fiona yelled back. Katiya closed her eyes as she heard Warren say something next door also.

She kissed Katiya's hair and said. "We can go upstairs and you can make yourself look like we didn't have sex three times in the carriage."

"Four." Katiya corrected her and shook her head, laughing now. "No, it's too late. Let's just go get this cup of yours."

Alexei shrugged confused, Katiya didn't want people to see her, now she didn't care. "Okay, the cup it is."

She led them into the kitchen past Fiona and Warren; the cook was studiously studying the hunk of meat he was carving into different cuts.

Fiona smiled and gave Katiya a wink.

Katiya threw up her hands, shaking her head. "Hi Fiona, Warren." Following after Alexei again.

She could hear Fiona's laughter as they continued down the stairs into the basement. "So I'm allowed down here now?" She hesitated on the top set of steps.

"Of course I'm with you." She stated matter of fact. She paused to light a torch and carried it down the stairs. The smell of blood still lingered on the stale air currents. All that remained of their unfortunate guest.

"Oh. Of course." Keeping a wide birth around the door that had held Fiona during her detoxification. "Where are we going?" This entire basement made her nervous, for good reason she thought.

Once at the bottom she led them to the door with no lock or handle, it was just a solid slab of stone. She paused in front of it.

"What you see inside you must never, and I mean never share with another soul. We've done a lot of things that shake the convention of vampiric tradition, but I'm deadly serious here, inside this room are things no one must know. I'm trusting you with things that Fiona doesn't even know of." She didn't turn around just stayed still looking at the door.

Katiya sucked in a surprised breath. Things that even Fiona didn't know about? That made her skin crawl with nervousness. How bad could whatever it was actually be? Judging by Alexei's tone of voice, pretty damn bad. "I won't say anything." She promised.

"I didn't think you would. You are surprising loyal despite my behavior on occasion." Alexei's shoulders relaxed. She set the torch in a holder and then pulled the signet ring out of a pocket; she fingered it for a moment then lifted it so the stylized figure of a horse rearing lined up with the indention hidden at the top of the door.

There was a soft click and then Alexei turned it to the left and there was a louder click. Reaching out she pushed open the door.

"Nice." Katiya whispered, staring in fascination at the locking mechanism that was revealed as the stone slab was pushed aside. She really wanted to see who had designed that. Shaking her head she looked around Alexei to peer into the room.

As if reading Katiya's thoughts Alexei said. "The man who designed this is dead, I killed him." She stepped forward into the small room.

"Oh." That was one way to make sure no one knew how to open a door. "What is this place?"

There was a large coffin made of stone and wrapped in chains, a stone pedestal that held a simple wooden cup and a few other odds and ends; a spear, a shattered sword, and simple horn made of bone.

"This is a room where I have hidden things that no one should have possession of."

Katiya stopped just inside, eyeing the coffin. "Is that..." She paused a little. "Is that yours?" She'd thought the legend of vampires needing coffins was just that, a legend.

Alexei smiled, "No, I have never slept in a coffin I leave that to my more gothic and religiously tortured brethren."

"So some vampires do sleep in coffins?" That was just weird. Katiya stepped closer, curious to see what some of the things were.

"Yes, they feel that they are the reanimated dead, now while the change from human to vampire may feel like one is dying, I do not actually think I am walking corpse. Besides would you want to be having sex in something like that?"

Katiya wrinkled her nose. "No." She would not be having sex in a coffin, ever. "Besides, not much room to maneuver in that." She grinned, taking a step up next to Alexei's side and looked at the coffin, her smile fading as another question occurred to her. "Then why did you hide a coffin down here?"

Alexei's face turned to stone as her attention focused on the coffin. "It’s not the coffin I'm hiding, its what's inside."

Katiya looked up from the coffin to Alexei's face, then back at the coffin. "Oh." She didn't think it would be a good idea to ask what was inside. "You don't have to tell me. We can just take the cup and go."

Alexei pondered a moment whether or not to say anything else. She went over and shook the chains. "He's an elder, one of the first ones. From stories and legends I have put together he was taking the cup to the east to hide it. So no one would ever find it. The thinking is if the cup could make them immortals, someone could use the cup to undo it. Crossing the steppes he decided to..." Her anger flared for a moment. "To dally with a young girl he found hunting in the tall grasses. He hunted her and while she put up a good fight she was no match for the creature out of the darkness. He raped her and then bled her, leaving her to die."

Ever so cautiously, Katiya slipped her hand into Alexei's cold fingers, gripping them. "I'm sorry." What else could she say to that?

She let her finger drum against the coffin. "Most people would assume he was my sire, leaving me to die. But the cup made me a vampire. I was so thirsty as I lay dying in the grass, my heart unable to find any blood to pump through my veins. That Katiya is the truth behind my creation, I am only slightly younger than the Elders who rule us, but I have learned wisely to down play my age and my history in the world."

Giving those fingers a squeeze, Katiya stared at the coffin. "Why don't you just kill him then?"

"Because... Because killing him would have been a momentary flash of pain. This way his pain is eternal trapped inside his own body unable to move, paralyzed by a stick of wood in his heart. Someday I'll open the coffin up and finish what I started." She grinned savagely, remembering the years hunting the bastard.

She kept having to remind herself that Alexei was from a different age. That savage look on her face reminded Katiya. She shivered at that dark look. "Where's the cup?"

"Over here." She was careful to avoid touching the spear. "Here." She went to pick it up and frowned when it wouldn't move.

"That's what all this is about?" It didn't look like much, a simple cup carved from some sort of dark wood. For some reason Katiya had half expected something adorned with jewels and gold. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing. It apparently is done with me." They could have a problem if they couldn't pick it up.

"It's done with you?" Katiya looked at her strangely.

"Well there are stories that when the elders did the ritual they woke up a sort of consciousness in the cup. So it has a will, of sorts."

Katiya stared at Alexei for a full minute, trying to see if she was joking. "A cup that has its own will." She sighed. "That's going to make it hard to bring it to the notary's place."

"About that, Ivan knew you were with me, which means they probably know you're with me not against me. So it could be a trap."

Katiya looked back at the cup, shoulders slumping. "It's still the best way to find out who's behind all this. Isn't it?"

"Yes, but now we know it’s a trap just like Ivan was a trap. He was waiting for me to strike at him." She gently squeezed Katiya's hand.

"Oh good, at least we know I'll be going into a trap." Katiya said a little sarcastically. "But we need to bring the cup, either way."

"True." She let go of Katiya’s hand and tried again.

It remained unmoving.

"What if we both try?"

Alexei chuckled. "Sure why not." But if the thing didn't want to move, it wouldn't move.

"I know I'm not as strong as you are." Katiya grinned, but took hold of one side of the cup anyway.

Alexei mimicked the action on the other side of the cup, their fingers overlapping.

Katiya stroked a fingertip along Alexei's finger, smiling up at her. "Ready?" When the vampire nodded, she lifted hard. Expecting resistance of some sort she hauled back on the suddenly light cup, whacking Alexei with it and staggering backwards, still holding the light cup. "Sorry!"

The vampire staggered back, and held a hand up to her mouth and pulled it away red with blood. She glared over at Katiya, grumpily.

"Sorry!" Katiya repeated, wincing. "You said it was heavy." Holding onto the cup in one hand she wiped away the trace of blood on Alexei's lower lip. "Are you all right?"

"Yes, I, you smacked me in the mouth with that thing." She grumbled.

"Poor big tough Alexei." Using her free hand, Alexei urged her to lower her head so she could kiss the vampire and make it all better.

"Mmm, that was nice." Alexei said.

Katiya studied the cup, “Who made it? It’s rather plain.”

"Not that I ever met the man but I understand he was a rather humble carpenter before the Son of God stuff started. I don't think he was into flashy." Alexei said.

"Are all vampires from people who drank blood from this?" Katiya wasn't really sure she wanted to be holding the cup that she was pretty sure most priests would kill to have.

"I don't know for certain. I know an eastern vampire, he always seems oddly patient with us and he never really talks about a sire or of any childer he may have. We debate all sorts of things but he's always sidestepped talking about his origins. But most Western vampires can trace their origins to this cup."

"So I probably shouldn't lose it then." Katiya gave a weak smile, eyeing the simple wooden cup a little askance. "Tomorrow I'll go see the Mr. Gorskji?" She managed to remind herself to ask it as a question at the last instant.

"No you probably shouldn't." She paused as she turned heading for the door. "We should probably make a plan about Mr. Gorskji, although I think he's not aware of the trap. I think he's a pawn like Fenix."

"I should have asked around to find out more about him." Katiya grimaced, realizing her mistake there. There'd been plenty of time before to find out whatever she could about the man, but she'd been distracted. With another look at the chained coffin, she followed Alexei.

Alexei exited and shut the door. The metal ground against the stone and then with a click the door was locked again. Leading the way with the torch she said. "Don't look back, your life will be too long now to get mired in regret and should haves."

Switching the cup to her other hand, Katiya nodded in the darkness of the hall lit only by Alexei's torch. "Will you come with me, tomorrow night?"

"Of course. Can't have anything happen to my most prized..." She fumbled for a word, "pet." She was silent while they went up the stairs.

The teasing comment that was on the tip of the redhead's tongue died at that last word along with her grin. They both emerged into the kitchen silent, to Fiona's curious look. Which sharpened as she saw what it was that Katiya was carrying.

Alexei could feel the shift in Katiya's mood; she'd done something again to make the woman unhappy. She ignored Fiona and Warren, deep in her own thought. Part of her tried to figure out what to do to make Katiya happy again, while the other part tried to figure out how to spring the trap that Ivan and the American's had planned with a trap of her own.

Not paying attention she slammed into a figure coming into the kitchen.

Alexei instinctively reached out catching the person before they could hit the floor. "Where's the fire, lover?" Molly cooed from Alexei's arms and wrapped herself seductively around the vampire.

At Fiona's questioning look, Katiya just silently shook her head and gave her a tight smile. That smile tightened further into a little snarl as she turned to see Molly draped over Alexei's body. It made her want to do something vicious to the other pet.

The English woman looked around the vampire smirking at Katiya, her expression changed though to almost wonderment at seeing the cup. The look was gone in a second.

"A plain cup for a plain girl." She snipped.

"At least I'm not a complete whore." Katiya really, really wanted to slap that blonde, hard. It made her even angrier to once again realize how stunning a pair the two of them looked. She couldn't understand why Alexei was still standing stock-still.

"Don't throw stones Katiya. You became a whore for survival here with Alexei. So you and I are not really that different." At that Alexei dropped Molly and stood up straight, glaring down at the Englishwoman. "Enough!" She barked out.

Katiya had to bite her tongue to stop from yelling back at the Englishwoman. She settled for a dark glare, clutching the cup to her chest for fear that she was going to reach for her dagger instead.

"Molly you will either have a civil tongue or no tongue, but I will have a peaceful household. So think carefully before you open your mouth and use that tongue of yours."

Molly just grinned and pushed. "But you enjoy what I do with my tongue."

Katiya made a low sound in the back of her throat, but when she opened her mouth she caught sight of Fiona frantically shaking her head and closed it again.

Alexei's face turned red in anger, and she reached down grabbing Molly and threw her back into the room she came from. Molly didn't look scared; in fact she looked like she was on the verge of an orgasm as she got exactly what she wanted out of Alexei.

There was a crash as a vase broke in the other room and Alexei stomped off after the woman she had just hurt.

Fiona sighed. "Alexei's too easy sometimes, and Molly is good in manipulating those dark parts of Alexei to come to the surface."

Leaving Katiya standing in the kitchen holding the cup to her chest, not sure if she should go after Alexei or not. "I hate her Fiona. I really hate her." She winced at another crash from the other room.

"Then stop Alexei before that bitch wins, and Alexei loses herself to those dark parts. I was never able too, but I think you can reach her."

"Hold onto this for me?" She offered the other woman the cup she was holding, relieved when she could let go of the cup without anything strange happening.

Leaving the cup in capable hands, she followed the crashes that were coming from the next room. The room was already a disaster area. Vases and mirrors had been shattered. Drops of what she assumed was Molly's blood stained the floor. "Alexei?" A door was hanging off its hinges and Katiya slowly approached the next room though.

Alexei was crouched over Molly her fangs exposed, one hand wrapped around the woman's pale throat. Blood was splattered on both of them. The vampire looked as if she couldn't decide whether to strangle the woman or rip her clothes off.

Molly laughed. "That's my beautiful monster, you try to hide her away but it’s a lie you give the world."

At the sound of her name the vampire turned her head looking at Katiya, her eyes were storm clouds full of heavy dark promises.

In that moment, Katiya wanted Alexei to kill her. To rip out her throat and leave her body bleeding on the floor.

Somehow she moved past it though, captured in Alexei's dark gaze. Every instinct in her wanted her to run screaming from the predator that looked out through Alexei's eyes. Instead she walked towards her, slowly, carefully.

"Alexei." She repeated her name, ignoring Molly. "This is what she wants."

The vampire’s lips pulled back in a snarl, but her fingers unwound from Molly's throat.

The Englishwoman shot a glare at the redhead.

"She's playing you." Katiya stepped closer. "That's not what you want." Still looking into those eyes, she edged within arms reach. "Is it?"

Alexei stood up and closed her eyes. "No, it’s not."

The human let out the breath she'd been holding, shaking a little. Finally she looked at Molly seeing the poisonous look directed back at her. "Come with me?" She offered her hand, proud she kept it from shaking.

Alexei opened her eyes again, they were still dark, dangerous, but they had softened just a bit. She took a step away from Molly then another and took Katiya's hand. "Lyov."

The man was there, suddenly. "Mistress?"

"Show Molly the door. She may spend the rest of the night and tomorrow out of this house. Perhaps then she will appreciate the luxuries that she has. She may be let back in at sunset, until then she is not to have one foot on my property."

"As you wish, Madam."

Katiya really had to work to avoid grinning at Molly's cursing and screaming as Lyov grabbed onto her arm and half carried, half dragged the woman out the door. "She's really good at making people angry."

“Yes, and I almost feel sorry for her.”

"I'm not." Well she was a little sorry that Alexei hadn't kicked the British woman out for good. "I'm glad you stopped though."

"I'm supposed to be the Master Vampire, yet sometimes I feel like I have no control over my own household." She paused. "Tell me you didn't lose the cup so soon after we retrieved it?"

"Cup?" Katiya blinked then shook her head. "No, it's with Fiona. I'll go get it."

The vampire gave a sigh of relief. "Good, I was worried for a second."

"Only a second?" Katiya teased, heading back to the kitchen.

Fiona looked up from the table where she was working. "Everything get sorted out?"

Katiya shrugged, not really sure if it actually was sorted out. "Maybe?" She looked around for the cup.

"Ah the cup." She bent over and dug it out of the laundry. "Must be important then."

"So you hid it in the laundry?" Katiya raised an eyebrow.

"Well I could have put it in the cabinet with the other cups but I didn't feel like moving."

With a snort, Katiya took the cup back. "I'll remember that the next time I wonder where you've hidden something. Just look in the laundry." She looked back towards the door where she'd left Alexei. "I should go. G’night Fiona."

"Night Katiya." The woman smiled, then said. "I'm proud of you, standing up for Alexei like that. If I could have done that maybe things would be different, but I suspect that things happened just the way they were supposed too. She may never tell you Katiya but she'll tell you with her actions if you can listen."

Katiya looked at her in confusion at that last bit, but gave her a wave good night. "Alexei?" She looked into the shattered room.

"Right here." The vampire said from the shadow of the stairs. Suddenly she was feeling drained and tired. "I know you are young and insatiable when it comes to sex,” She teased. "But I am suddenly feeling all my centuries on earth, do you mind if we go to bed."

"That sounds lovely." Katiya moved over and took her arm, a little worried by the odd look on the blonde woman's face. "If you're good I'll even sing you a lullaby." If she didn't know better, she'd swear that the vampire looked lost.

Alexei blinked. "I don't think I've ever had anyone do that for me. Is that what mother's do for their young."

"The good ones. My dad sang for me." She gently led Alexei towards the stairs and up them, passing a drowsy tiger lounging on the first landing.

"Then I must have been extra good today." She said following along next to the redhead.

"Very good." She agreed, opening the door to her room and leading Alexei to the bed. Setting the cup down on the table next to the bed. Hands free she started to slowly undress the vampire.

For a moment Alexei almost protested the attention, but let it go. It was nice.

"Shhh." Katiya whispered. "Let me." She tenderly removed the last of the clothes. "Raise your arms?" There was a silk nightgown left on the bed. She'd have to thank Lyov for that later.

Alexei did as she was told without question. There was a bemused look on her face, but she raised her arms.

"See, you can let me take care of you sometimes." Katiya fingered the material, enjoying the way it felt before sliding it over Alexei's body. She was still sore from the four rounds of sex in the carriage, but she suddenly wanted to feel that naked body pressed against hers again. Firmly tamping down that instinct for now, she flipped back the blankets. "In you go."

Alexei got in to the bed and then looked up at Katiya, "You're sleeping here, with me?" Insecure that her earlier actions with Molly may have scared the woman.

"Since I don't have my own bed." Katiya teased and hurriedly corrected herself when she saw the insecure look in Alexei's eyes. "Yes. I'm sleeping here. Because I want too."

She pulled the blankets up over the vampire, tucking her under the covers. Before going around to the other side of the bed and slipping under the blankets as well.

The vampire sighed contentedly. "Good. I'm glad you want to be here. I'd hate for this to be unbearable for you."

"It's far from being unbearable." Katiya inched closer until she could rest against the long body next to hers in the bed and suddenly yawned so hard she thought she'd almost cracked her jaw. "Guess I'm tired too." She mumbled against Alexei's shoulder.

Alexei rolled over and blew out the lamp next to her bed; rolling back she smiled up into the dark. One hand wrapped around Katiya's body her hand playing with the woman's red hair. "Sleep, I've got you."

"Sleep." Katiya liked the sound of that as she closed her eyes and slid an arm across Alexei's stomach.


Night had fallen when Vidar found Alexei in the library. For once he was in his man shape inside the manor walls, not his preferred form but for this task he would have to put up with it. "Alexei." He waited by the door. It was a bad idea to surprise a master vampire, even for someone like himself.

She looked up from the maps she was studying. "Vidar?" She asked surprised to see him. "What can I do for you?"

"I've come about Katiya." He entered, scratching with annoyance at the loin cloth he was wearing. Clothes another stupid human invention as far as he was concerned.

"Is there something wrong?" She looked worried. "Has something happened? I swear she was only supposed to go set up a meeting with Mr. Gorsjki's employer."

He snorted. "She's fine, that Vampire hunter of hers is trailing her. She's safe enough." He scowled. "No, I'm here about you treating her as one of your slaves."

"Ah, that." Alexei sat down heavily in the chair behind her. "I'm sorry you saw that I wasn't thinking about, well I didn't take your feelings for her into account."

"I'm fond of her." He jutted out his jaw. "There aren't many humans I can say that about. You and I are alike, Alexei. I respect that darkness in you because it's in me too. She deserves better than that darkness I think." That was the most he'd talked in a human language in a long time and his voice was gravely with disuse.

"What do you want me to say? I'm sorry? I won't do that Vidar. I did what was necessary to make her look like less of a threat to the household. I did it to help keep her alive." She felt defensive about making Katiya lounge on her lap like a slave.

He made a low growling sound and paced back and forth along the wall. It was hard to put into something as inexact as words what he was feeling.

“It’s degrading.” But she was a human and he shook his head as he tried to figure out how to say it. “She’s like clan to me.” There that was better.

"I know!" She shouted, her booted feet stomped down loudly onto the floor and she stood up.

He tensed, corded muscle standing out on his forearms and shoulders as he considered if she was going to attack him or not.

"I know it was degrading. But if I hadn't done it, Stepan would have kept pushing because I don't treat her like a pet. Then others would target her because I don't treat her like a pet."

Giving voice to the problem that was plaguing her, didn't make her feel any better. With a tortured growl she kicked the chair she had been sitting in, splintering it.

Vidar didn't like it. He shook his head. There was no good way to end this. "This is why I like fighting better. Everything is simpler then." He dodged sideways, ducking a spinning slab of wood from the back of the chair. "It won't protect her forever."

"I know." She said sadly. "Perhaps I should....should... send her away, make her like me." Neither one of those options appealed to her.

Something changed in the relationship when she sired a child. They started to test and push and eventually leave her and strike out on their own.

She didn't want Katiya to leave and that brought her full circle to her problem.

He snorted. "I shouldn't have said anything." He scratched his arm. "I'll watch her as long as I can." That was all he could offer.

She nodded absently, "Good, that's good."

This was why he didn't like being in human form, these emotions and interactions were annoying. "She should be on the way back. I'll make sure Tereza doesn't decide to come see you."

That got a grin from the vampire. "She really doesn't like me does she?"

"She sees you as her competition." Vidar said, wryly. With a stiff nod he stepped outside. A moment later he was in hound form, bounding through the hallways and then outside the manor.

Alexei sat down in an unbroken chair with a grin. Then she thought about what he'd said. "Competition? There is no competition." She groused.

It wasn't that much longer before Katiya returned to the manor. "Evening Lyov." She called to the man who opened the door, running up the stairs to the library. A little out of breath she shoved open the door, smiling as she spotted Alexei inside by the fireplace.

"It's all set. Mr. Gorskji set up the meeting once I proved I had the key and told him that I had the cup." She stopped as she stepped over a piece of broken chair and looked at the vampire curiously.

Alexei looked up from the book she was reading. "Excellent." She followed Katiya's gaze. "Ah never mind that Vidar and I just had some verbal sparring earlier."

"Verbal?" The redhead eyed the remnants of the chair. "The meetings set for tonight."

"Tonight? That's faster than I thought. Did he seem different to you? Like he knew you really worked on my team."

Katiya shook her head, slowly. "He seemed the same. Happy to know I'd succeeded. I think it was his last chance also, just like Fenix's."

"So he's not in on it." She rearranged herself in the chair she was lounging in. "I wonder if your Ivan told me about you not because he knew you were with me, but because he wanted to blow your cover so I'd kill you for betraying me."

"I try not to think like Ivan." She made a face as she came to stand next to the chair. "It makes me feel like I need to take a bath." Which was confusing, considering she still wasn't sure if she really wanted him dead

"Good point. I like that you don't think like him either."

"Can I ask what happened with the chair?" She'd been a little surprised to find Vidar abandoning her just as she was going into the city that evening. Since they were alone she dared to run her fingers through some of Alexei's silky blonde hair.

"Vidar took me to task over my treatment of you the other day. I think it did him some good to get it off his chest." She let her eyes close at the touch, enjoying it.

The human knelt down by the side of the chair, waiting until Alexei looked at her again. "It's all right now then?" She liked the white hound.

"Yes. You should feel privileged, he thinks of you as clan."

"I like him too." She inched up so that she could press a kiss to Alexei's lips. "I was worried when he didn't follow me into the city tonight."

Somewhere deeper in the mansion a grandfather clock started to chime out the hour and Katiya sighed as she realized they didn't have much more time. "We only have another hour before I have to be at the meeting."

"Do we need to do anything before the meeting?"

Blue eyes sparkled with mischief, but Katiya kept her idea of what they could do for an hour to herself, instead saying. "I just have to bring the cup and key with me. Do you have anything you want to do first?"

"I'm in charge, I can call Stepan whatever I like." She grinned and stood up going to the door. She opened it and stuck her head outside and bellowed for Stepan.

"Do I have to strip naked now?" Katiya asked, raising an eyebrow in amusement.

Alexei winced the incident a little too raw still, especially after her and Vidar’s talk.

Seeing that, Katiya touched her arm, sighing at her poor taste. "I'm sorry; I didn't mean it that way."

"You bellowed?" Stepan asked, to Katiya's eyes just suddenly appearing in the door of the room with that odd blurring motion that always accompanied him when he moved fast.

"As a matter of fact I did. Stepan, I need you and the twins to go scout out the cemetery next to the Cathedral. We have a meet and greet in an hour. Want to make sure we're setting the trap not the other way around."

"That's a large cemetery." He hurriedly continued seeing her expression shift. "We'll scout through it of course. Anything else?"

"If it’s going to be beyond you take Vidar and Matvey, and meet me back here in an hour."

"No we can handle it." He gave that little bow of his and closed the door behind him, not once daring to look at Katiya as he did.

Alexei shut the door and turned looking back at Katiya. "Now we'll see if it’s a trap." She walked back over to her chair and sat down. "So in your opinion did Ivan out you to me, so to speak, because he wanted me to get mad cause you were using me to get to the cup. Or... because he knew you were working for me all along? Thoughts."

Katiya blinked; surprised that Alexei was actually asking her for an opinion on this. "Ivan is good at making you believe whatever he wants you to believe. He always was good at that." She bit her lip, thinking. "You could ask him?" She said, hopefully.

"There you go all being logical." Katiya perched on the edge of the chair, grumbling.

"Ivan wants us to believe whatever he wants." She kept her eyes closed her mind replaying the conversation over and over.

"He wants the cup." She stopped, frowning. "Wait, no he doesn't. He doesn't care about the cup. He wants whatever he was promised to get the cup." She turned a bit to look at Alexei, picturing her as enraged as she must have been in the bar. "It must be something big for him to risk lying to you, either way."

"Money's always good." But she couldn't picture him lying to an enraged vampire for just money. It would have to be money and power. What else could he want? "Immortality." She looked down at Alexei, eyes widening a little. "He'd do it for a chance to live forever."

Her eyelids opened and her gray eyes looked up at Katiya. "Ah ha, skip the pet part and go right to the bite."

"Someone promised him immortality." Katiya swallowed past her suddenly dry throat. "Can they do that?"

Alexei chuckled. "Hell yes, we do it all the time. Why do you think most politicians look the other way when dealing with us? We promise them they can live forever and keep all their toys."

"Oh." She blinked in surprise. "I thought it was because they were afraid of you."

"Maybe that too. However, we vampires rarely keep our promises. A horrible cultural trait of our species."

Alexei grinned. "So he probably got lied to." That made her feel better. "So in that case." She leaned sideways against Alexei's shoulder, thinking. "I really don't see how he could have known I was working for you all along."

"So by outing that you’re his, he wants me to kill you for lying to me? Which makes no sense because they wouldn't get the cup. Was he mad that you were able to steal something he couldn't?" She opened her eyes again looking at Katiya.

Katiya let out a frustrated sigh. "But if he didn't get the cup he wouldn't get his reward, which he would never do. So he must have known I was working for you all along. But how the hell did he know that? Nobody knows that!" Well, not nobody.

"Hmm, and who would that be." Alexei wasn’t really paying attention anymore, she was watching Katiya's lips purse and move as she spoke, and her throat as she swallowed and talked.

Katiya paused, watching with amusement as Alexei's eyes stayed watching her lips. She smiled slowly. "Alexei?"

"Hmm?" The vampire’s gaze shifted reluctantly to the young woman's eyes.

"Was there something you wanted?" The smile widened as she forgot the train of thought she'd just been on in favor of Alexei.

"Sex." She said throatily, "For some reason since you've allowed me to debauch you I can't stop. I want you nearly all the time. Honestly I can say that's never happened before."

Somewhere, deeper in the house, the grandfather clock chimed once, marking a quarter of an hour as having passed. Katiya stood up off the side of the chair, watching Alexei's face as she started to undo the buttons that held her shirt, one at a time. "That's a good thing isn't it?" There was time, she hoped.

"Time enough." Alexei echoed, she sat up and pulled her shirt over her head not bothering with the buttons, her arms got stuck for a moment then she was free. "Stop teasing we don't have that much time."

"But teasing is fun." Katiya laughed, quickly skimming out of the rest of her clothes.

"Where's the shy little mouse I brought home months ago." She joked standing up out of the chair, Katiya had been anything but shy, hesitant maybe not shy. She kicked off her shoes and stepped out of her pants.

"She's still here." The redhead stepped closer, needing to touch the revealed body. "She's very, very lucky to be here." Sliding her fingers down along Alexei's side she pressed closer. "We don't have much time." She whispered, biting an earlobe she managed to rise up and reach.

Alexei shuddered at that, she wrapped her arms around Katiya and picked her up and moved her to the couch. "You know I don't think I've had sex in the library yet." She mused as she started to kiss her way down Katiya's body.

"Oh good." She gasped as those lips found a sensitive spot. "New experiences are good, right?" Thankfully it was a large couch.

"Very good." The vampire agreed.

Katiya started to say something but the words changed into a moan as Alexei moved lower. Talking was overrated anyway.


Sweat was drying on their skin, cooling the overheated flesh. It was calm the moment filled with lassitude and Alexei was running her hands through Katiya's red hair, she was lying between the young woman and the couch, a position she was rather fond of.

Sometime a little while ago the clock had gonged three quarters of an hour. That meant there wasn't much time left and Katiya was greedily soaking in every moment of it that she could. If she'd been a cat she would have been purring non-stop at the petting, as it was she tried to burrow closer in Alexei's arms.

She found the position settling, she had no outside concerns than that of her lover and their needs. It helped her drown out her thoughts and focus. Besides everyone had preferences in the bedroom and that was hers. She was aware of Stepan creeping up the hallway and heard his awkward hesitation as he debated whether or not to enter.

"We should get dressed. Time is not with us." She said softly lifting her head to kiss Katiya's face.

Katiya groaned, shaking her head. She didn't want to move. Finally though she relented and slowly peeled herself off Alexei's long frame, immediately missing the contact. "I don't have to like it though."

At least their clothes weren't thrown everywhere this time. Helpfully she handed Alexei the pile of her clothes and then started on her own. She really didn't want to know how Lyov had managed to put a fresh pile of clothes in the room without her noticing.

Alexei smiled sitting up she slipped her now black shirt on and stood up working on the pants. "Katiya," she started her voice taking on a serious tone. "If things go bad I want you to go to Tereza's no questions, no playing the hero. Can you do that for me?"

"Tereza's?" The human looked over in surprise as she pulled up form fitting black pants that she'd found in her pile. "I thought you didn't like her?" She avoided promising.

"I don't, but I trust her to keep you safe." Alexei said putting on thick heavy boots.

"It won't come to that." Katiya pulled on thinner, calfskin boots lined with mink fur to provide insulation against the cold.

Alexei wasn't so sure. Once they were dressed she shouted at Stepan to come in.

He entered and the smell of sex assaulted his nose but he kept all comments about such things to himself and his eyes stayed focused on Alexei. "We did a fair amount of damage to them the other night. But it’s a trap, 10 young ones are hiding in the cold and snow with weapons. Vidar found them easily with his nose."

“Good, are you ready then?” She asked.

He nodded and then blinked. "Ah, a messenger brought this today Lyov wanted me to bring it up to you." He handed her the crumpled message.

"Thank you, we'll meet you downstairs in a minute."

The redhead tucked away her small pouch of lock picks and then carefully put the dagger and sheath in her belt. Where it was easier to reach, just in case. Picking up the cup she looked to Alexei curious about the message that had been brought. “So it’s a trap. That means Ivan knew I’m working for you.”

Alexei read the message her forehead crinkling into a frown. The words on the paper weren't really a surprise, though she had hoped that she was wrong. The words merely confirmed what she had started to suspect.

She crumpled the paper up and threw it into the fire. "Its nothing. An old friend warning me that Karl boarded a train this evening headed to my lovely little village. This means we will have visitors tomorrow night, most inconvenient."

"Karl's coming here?" Katiya immediately thought of Shiro, bleeding on the floor. "You can't keep him away can you?" She asked, hopefully.

She played with the ring again; it felt awkward and heavy on her finger. "No, he is the Prince. He's probably coming to check on the rumors of the American vampires." She said the last part almost too casually.

Katiya looked up from the cup she'd been tracing her finger along, curious at the strange tone in her voice. "You don't believe that do you?" She said with a sudden rush of insight.

"Katiya, I..." She hesitated then reached out taking Katiya's hand and placed the ring in her palm and closed the woman's fingers around it. "If anything happens to me take this, so you don't forget me."

"Your signet ring?" She stared up at the blonde woman. "I'd never forget you, but nothings going to happen. You don't have to give this to me."

"It’s a trap Katiya, anything could happen. The ring, there are other secret doors it opens; the most important one in this age is probably the lockbox at the Bank of London."

"Alexei..." She stopped, seeing the look on the vampire's face. She wouldn't take the ring back. "I'll hold onto it for you." She wouldn't wear it though.

Alexei's face brightened and she leaned forward kissing Katiya sweetly on the lips. "Thank you. Now I need to grab a few things from my study and we'll be on our way."

"I'll wait for you." Using a leather strip she slipped the ring onto it and then tied it around her neck in a makeshift necklace.

Alexei just nodded and made her way to the door.


Katiya paced back and forth in front of the doorway to the manor, waiting for Alexei to come down from her study. She was nervous about what was about to happen. She didn't want to see Alexei hurt or see anymore vampire fights.

Maybe they should just not go, certainly Alexei could get them to slip away, hide. Almost instantly she rejected the idea though, Alexei wouldn't hide, it wasn't in her nature.

"Got the cup?" Alexei said coming outside.

Forcing a smile she patted a side satchel that Lyov had offered her on the way out. "Yes."

"Excellent. Let’s get started so we can put this evening behind us."

Katiya nodded, and reluctantly started towards the waiting carriage, her stomach knotted. "We could go away." She said suddenly. "Take everyone and leave."

Alexei smiled sadly. "Life is not supposed to be lived in hiding."

That's what she'd been almost sure that Alexei would say, but she'd had to try. "You'll be careful though? Promise me?"

"Katiya, I really love having sex with you, I plan on continuing to ravish you into the next century, so yes I'll be careful."

That didn't help though; the dread was still there as she stepped up into the carriage. "As long as you remember that."

"I will." She promised.


Mr. Gorskji was standing shivering in the cold next to a large ornate family crypt. Two men were bookending him, one was Ivan, the other was tall, well built man with black hair and a thick mustache that was waxed so it curled up on both sides.

The wind was kicking up around her feet as Katiya walked slowly through the rows of mausoleums and gravestones, Vidar looping alongside her. Somewhere out there Alexei was keeping watch on her, as was the twins, Matvey and Stepan. It didn't make walking towards Ivan any easier though. Even from this far away she could almost feel the dark look in his eyes. The only good news was that Boris wasn't with him anymore.

Alexei watched Katiya and Vidar approach them, her senses were stretched to their limits. She kept tuned to what was going on with Katiya as she moved like a ghost finding hidden pets and vampires. The first kill was easy, a quick thrust of her sword through his back and out the front piercing the heart.

The heavy winter coat was a comfort against the bitter winter wind that kept whirling around her. It was very nice to have Vidar next to her, even in hound form.

"Mr. Gorskji. I didn't know you would be here as well." She stopped at the last row tombstones before the family crypt.

The heavyset man was sweating looking visibly nervous, "Ms Katiya, I felt it would be in my best interest to make sure everything went smoothly."

She ignored Ivan and the smirk on his face to look at the mustached man. His clothing was different than what she was used to, the jacket oddly cut and his boots were definitely strange. "Are you Mr. Gorskji's employer?"

The man was studying her with cold brown eyes.

It was hard to stay there. This one was dangerous, the type she would have fled from in a heartbeat before. "Are you?" She repeated, touching the bag slung over her shoulder.

He nodded and said, "I am." If he was affected by the cold and the re-frozen snow that had melted during the warmer day and then frozen again once night fell that stood on, his body showed no discomfort. "And you are the young thief who managed the impossible."

"I'm talented." She glanced to the sneering face of her, what? What was Ivan to her? Enemy? She glanced over at Gorskji and the heavy sweating, despite the freezing temperature. "Who are you?" Vidar nudged her leg and she was glad for the reminder of his presence.

"I'm the one that pays." He said curtly. "The cup."

She had to give Alexei time. "I don't believe you." Katiya tried to look skeptical. "I don't think you're the boss. The deal was the cup in exchange for getting to meet the boss."

He snorted. "My you’re distrustful. Let me ask you, why do you think I am not the boss?"

"The mustache." She nodded to the other two next to him. "That and they're standing with you instead of your pets. Alexei would never be standing there with two humans and not even one pet."

"My... mustache? I can't be the boss because I have a mustache?" He had a hard time wrapping his mind around that logic. "As for pets you seem to have a far better understanding about the dark world that mirrors and hides within your own pathetic human one."

"That means I'm right, doesn't it?" She smiled, just a little. "You're the pet."

He was looking unnerved just a little. Frozen not sure what to say his mouth opened then shut.

"Very astute, little girl." The voice was quiet yet it seemed to carry all around the graveyard.

Vidar's hackles went up.

"See, now that sounds like the boss." Shivers raced each other up her back and she moved closer to Vidar's side. "Who are you?" She called out, wondering where he was also.

The mausoleum door they were standing next to opened and thin cadaverous looking man exited. "You may call me Paul."

The pet let his head bow down, looking at the ground in shame.

If the pet had made Katiya want to run, this one made her want to collapse in on herself in a gibbering mass of sobbing terror, begging for her life. "Paul." Her voice wavered and shattered a little saying it. "You wanted the cup?" Her instincts were gibbering, screaming, at her to go, run, do something anything other than stand there and talk.

"Yes, child I do." He was approaching her steadily, almost gliding across the dirty snow.

His movements were strange. Too smooth, inhuman. The eyes were very bright, she felt trapped by those shining orbs in the sunken in face. "I have it." She couldn't move, even when she tried to back away, she stood still.

"You made a wise move hiring this one Mr. Gorskji." The vampire said in complement. He was next to her now holding out a hand. "The cup, Katiya."

Her hand moved without her wanting it to, taking the sack down off her shoulder. He hadn't blurred when he moved, just one moment he was there the next he was next to her. A part of her still was her own and she kept her fingers curled around the sack. "Why do you want it?"

He smiled a ghastly mockery of a human expression. His hand wrapped around hers. "Child, I don't want the thing at all." In a blindingly fast move he twirled her around and into his arms. "You are the bait for Alexei. I was so very happy when Sergei discovered what you were doing and tipped us off. So this became a trap to get you and the cup. What I really want is Alexei's head."

Vidar growled and lunged at the vampire only to be knocked back several feet by a backhand.

"Remember our deal." Ivan shoved his way past Gorsjki, was really doing his best to become a hole in the air. "I delivered them both to you, like I promised."

Katiya kicked her feet, doing about as much damage to the vampire who was negligently holding her like a rag doll as if she'd kicked one of the large steel machines.

"That you did Ivan." The vampire agreed.

Katiya struggled, her screams muffled by the hand clamped over her mouth. Where was Vidar? Where was Alexei for that reason?

"Then I'll just go back to my office now that you have, er, everything you need." Mr. Gorskji said nervously, backing away.

Chuckling seemed to echo around the graveyard.

Everyone froze staring out into the darkness.

"Well, the human puppet is half-right. Do you really think I would let her hand the cup over to you? You think I wouldn't know? This is my city after all."

"It doesn't matter." Paul lifted Katiya up another inch or two by her head. "It got you here, out of that manor of yours."

"True. But how does the saying go... be carful what you wish for." Out of the black of night something came sailing out of it and crashed into the snow, followed by another and another. Staring up at them were six severed heads staining the snow red where blood still pumped out of the cleanly cut stumps.

"They were disappointments as pets." Katiya let out a strangled scream as she got dangled around. "Now I think you should come forward before I snap her little neck."

"Okay." Alexei whispered in his ear as her sword sliced cleanly through his arm, at the elbow. She had moved so fast, and everyone had been so intent on staring into the night where the heads had come from they never noticed her moving around them to the back.

Besides she had Stepan launch the heads.

Paul's arm, hand and Katiya fell to the ground as he grunted in surprise. He reacted as quickly as she'd moved, whiplash fast, kicking her in the side with enough strength to lift her up off the ground and send her tumbling backwards. "How good of you to join the party."

He growled, lips pulled back from fangs as he grabbed up his arm. Katiya scurried backwards watching in sick fascination as he shoved it up into the empty wound Alexei's sword had left.

"I'm going to enjoy this." He started walking towards where Alexei had tumbled, flexing his reattached hand.

His pet started to follow him, only to have Vidar grab him from behind, grinning wildly. "Where are you going?" The Nordic man laughed, dragging him away. Ivan and Gorsjki stared in surprise, and then looked at each other in shock.

Alexi said nothing, she merely shed the long coat wrapped around her frame and then stood, sword held loosely in her hand. Her eyes were focused solely on Paul, while her senses stretched out all around her, hyper aware of everything around her.

He didn't have a sword, only those strange luminous eyes glowing in the sunken face as he walked slowly towards her. "Where is he, Alexei? Where did you hide him?"

Alexei's face shifted as if she were bothered by something. Her eyes stared into his, even though she tried to turn her face away. "Fucking vampire stare." She muttered.

"Where is he? Where is Judas?" The words had a weight to them. Even from where she was, crouched near where she'd fallen, Katiya wanted to answer him. Not far away she could see Ivan and Gorsjki, they're jaws slack as they stared at the master vampire in fascination.

The sword trembled and then her hand lowered. "I don't know what you're talking about." She spat out.

"Judas. The one who made you. The one you staked. Where is he?" Every word was followed by another step, the eyes glowing in the darkness, seeming to fill his face.

Katiya trembled, realizing whom he was talking about. Her mouth moved, trying to say what she knew. She had to cover her mouth with both hands, biting her lip to stop from saying anything.

The moment he stepped into the circle of her sword she smiled, and in a stunningly swift movement her hand moved, her sword ripping through his chest. "I have no sire, and you should not play games with those older than you can even imagine, Exile." She grinned savagely at the shock in his eyes until it bled away into blankness of stupor.

"Oh God." Katiya gasped, shuddering as she let her arms drop. The weight of that compulsion to talk dying away as the vampire spasmed on the ground in front of Alexei. She flinched in revulsion as she realized that despite the massive wounds, he wasn't dead yet. Mouth gasping as he stared up at Alexei.

Alexei lifted the sword again and sliced cleanly through his neck severing his head. The remaining of Paul’s childer in the graveyard began to scream and writhe in pain as blood began to pool out of their bodies. As air hit the liquid it began to steam and burn until nothing was left.

            Alexei looked at the head with a sneer. “Stepan, take this away and burn it.”

"With pleasure." He grimaced, picking up the head.

Katiya whipped around as she realized she'd taken her eyes off Ivan. The spot next to Gorskji was empty as the balding man stared at Alexei in terror. "Damnit."

She turned back to look at Alexei, watching her clean off the sword she'd just used. "What was that? His eyes, they were glowing."

"I'm not sure what the correct term is, I call it the 'Vampire stare', basically their gaze becomes hypnotic and they use their will and their voice to coerce you into becoming their puppet."

She wiped her sword clean on the corpse below her. "I can't do it, I'm not certain why some vampires can do it and others can't. Perhaps because he was such a horrible fighter, and Paul has always been a horrible fighter, his body developed other ways to survive over the years. I don't really remember why he was exiled; perhaps he used his stare on the wrong vampire."

"I'll ah, just leave you to your business then." Gorskji spoke up, mopping at his sweating forehead with a monogrammed handkerchief.

The vampire looked up at the man and in a single glance dismissed him, "You may go, but next time you help traitors in my town you will die in the most painful way you can imagine." She warned.

"Yes of course. I understand." He babbled, tripping over himself as he backed away and then yelling in surprise as he stumbled over Vidar and his kill.

"Good. Now run away as fast as you can before I change my mind." She sheathed the sword and held out her hand to Katiya.

It was surprising how fast the fat man could run through the snow.

"Ivan got away again." The redhead stepped around the dead body to take the hand. "Are you all right?" She was covered in small scratches, nothing looked bad but she couldn't be sure.

"I'm tired, it actually drained me a lot to resist him. He'd grown stronger since the last time we'd faced off." Alexei leaned down and kissed Katiya tasting the young woman's fear and worry.

"But that's it?" She whispered, needing to be sure.

"Yes, that is it." She looked at Katiya. "Is the cup safe?"

The redhead dared to steal another kiss, just for the pleasure of it, before patting the sack that she still held onto. "All here." The signet ring was still hanging from her neck also.

"Good," The vampire said against Katiya's lips. She then hefted Katiya easily into her arms and looked at the bruise forming around her throat. "Sorry about that."

"He was fast." The human tried not to think about the hand that could have so easily crushed her throat. "Not as fast as you though." She smiled as she got easily picked up, reminded again that Alexei was in fact stronger.

Alexei called out to Stepan, "Any of ours hurt?"

"One of the twins got a bite." He called back, still trying to figure out where he was going to burn the head in his hands. "Vidar's off doing... something to that other vampire still."

"Best to let him do what he wants. Kill the pets too; I have no time for the insanity of withdrawl." She didn't worry about any of Paul's children surviving, the death of the sire would kill the others of his line.

"Want us to meet you back at the Manor?" He didn't have to look behind him to know that the twins were already taking off, eager to go back to the hunt. They seemed to live for the hunt.

"Yes, be quick." She said as she walked off, out of the cemetery with Katiya in her arms.

Part 9

Back to Halloween Special
Back to the Academy