Gray Line, part 5


Quinn limped down the hallway; she could have sworn she'd heard a sound coming from down the hall.

Her gun was held loose in her hand not wanting to accidentally shoot if it was just one of Dianna's conquests.

The door to the study was closed, as Dianna had left it when she'd gone out. Another sound came through from inside though, a thud as if something was dropped onto the wooden floors.

Quinn let out a deep breath and then reached out opening the door. "Hello?"

The unlocked door opened easily and the room beyond the door was empty. Shadows filled the room, as the trees outside moved back and forth in the wind.

This was silly. "Of course the half-demon has a creepy room." Quinn muttered to herself. She stepped inside and fumbled for the light switch. "If anyone is in here please speak up I'd hate to shoot you by accident."

The light switch did nothing, but then a fire suddenly burst into being in the fireplace. The red flickering light filling the room and illuminating the bookshelves that lined the walls and the massive desk with papers spread across it. A large portrait hung over the fireplace, the young woman with familiar features smiled down at Quinn wearing turn of the century dress.

"Not creepy at all." Quinn said with a tight smile. She entered to look more closely at the painting, it looked slightly like Dianna but not. "Who are you? A relative?"

As if in response a book fell from the shelf to Quinn's left, hitting the floor with a loud thud and spreading open. The old leather-covered book had hand illustrated pages inside which fluttered in an unfelt breeze until it stopped halfway through.

"More creepiness." Quinn was really starting to think that she should have stayed in bed.

She shuffled over and looked at the book, knee hurting with every step.

With slow finality the page flicked over once more, revealing the lovingly detailed picture illustrated inside. The female demon pictured was half undressed, a cruel smile across her face. Underneath a single word in calligraphy: Alvera.

Quinn felt her good knee give out and she felt cold. That was a face she would never forget, one never does forget the first girl that tries to drag them into hell.

"So that bitch had a name." She murmured, huddled on the floor a flash of a memory, her son mangled and blood, oh so much blood for such a small body.

It took her a moment to realize she was crying.

"What are you doing?" Dianna stood in the doorway, expression shocked to have found Quinn in her study. She'd expected to see Quinn lying in her bed, not crying over a book in her study.

"I . . .I thought I heard a noise, I came to investigate and then the fire in the fireplace burst to life and this book fell . . . and . . . and this is the bitch that killed my son." The last two words came out of her mouth high and tight. Embarrassed to show so much to Dianna she looked away and sniffed trying to wipe the tears away.

The half-demon was about to scream at her, demand she leave a room that she had no business being in when the words registered and she took a closer look at the book. As her own anger dimmed she could feel Quinn's emotions wash across her, a sense of loss so bleak she shuddered under it. So instead of screaming she simply moved across the floor and picked up the crying detective.

"We found a healer." She said tightly, nodding to where Lauren lingered outside in the hall.

"Put me down Theron, I'm not a simpering maiden that needs to be swept off her feet. Theron!" She grumbled as the woman didn't listen. "Fine, what is this healing going cost me?"

"We'll talk about that later." The half-demon gritted her teeth. "Stop hitting me." She rolled her eyes at Lauren as she carried the cop toward her bedroom. "You got the stuff?"

"Um, yes." She followed behind.

"Ow! Do you have to kick?" Dianna dropped the cop onto the bed, not particularly gently.


"No, but it makes me feel better, 'cause your study was being all creepy and you caught me crying, asshole." Quinn grumbled.

Lauren set the stuff down and left. "I'll go make some food." She said backpedaling out of the room.

"What?" Dianna jerked her head watching the young woman flee. "Hey! You're just going to leave me with her alone?" There might have been a bit of panic in her voice.

Quinn glared at her. "Give me the stuff and I'll take care of it."

Glaring right back, Dianna set out the jar of mud and rusting lunch packet. "And how exactly are you going to put the mud on your knee? You can barely bend it." She was carefully ignoring the obvious signs of crying.

"Stubbornness." She replied with a straight face.

"How butch of you." Dianna drawled, unscrewing the top of the large glass jar and gagging a bit at the horrible smell inside. "Oh, that's disgusting."

"Sweet Jesus." Quinn blurted out looking a little green.

"Hold that thought." Dianna bolted for the bathroom, coming back with a stack of towels. There was no way she wanted that stuff getting into her bed. "Pants are going to have to come off."

"Oh, of course they are. You're still not getting into my pants."

"I have already seen you naked." Dianna grinned. "Actually, I stripped you once." She raised an eyebrow, waiting for Quinn to do something with her pants.

Quinn just glared.

"Want help?" The bar owner offered helpfully.

"Yes, just help get them off. I can't bend it."

"As you wish." Dianna licked her lips and helped Quinn pull off a very familiar looking pair of pants. "Find anything else interesting when you were snooping around?"

"Yes, a shirt to wear. As for your smut I left it alone, I didn't want any strange diseases."

"Art, it's called art. I don't own smut." Dianna shook her head, setting the pants aside and placing a towel under Quinn's knee. The joint looked ugly, purple and swollen, almost three times its normal size. The flesh was hot to the touch. "Or do you not approve of art either?"


"I don't have a problem with art. That's not art."

"Philistine." Dianna breathed through her mouth and started pouring the glop out onto Quinn's knee.

"Oh, that is just nasty." Quinn said breathing through her mouth and forced a smile. A trick she had learned a long time ago, smiling prevented a person from vomiting.

The smell got more bearable when Dianna wrapped the towels around it, keeping the mud pressed close to the skin. It was still stinky though and Dianna felt her stomach flip. "Here." She pushed the lunch box over, the less she touched Quinn the better right now. "You have to eat what's in that."

"What?" Quinn said staring at the metal box in horror. Slowly she reached over and opened it, expecting something to come slithering out.

Inside was a pair of large eggs that were swaddled in Kleenex, each was easily three times the size of a normal chicken egg. Curious, Dianna leaned closer to see inside as well.

Quinn looked from the eggs to Dianna and then back to the eggs. "I have to eat them raw?"

The other woman shrugged. "Maybe?"

Quinn made a face, but reached over and cracked the top and then quickly sucked it down so she didn't have to think about what kind of eggs they might be.

Very pointedly, Dianna didn't wince at the sight of blood in those eggs. That they'd been fertilized by whatever had laid them was fairly certain. "I'm impressed, I wasn't sure you'd do it."

Quinn made a face, "Give me a moment; I might still puke."

The bar owner nodded, and looked away, stealing her courage for what she was about to say. It wasn’t often she had to do that, then again it wasn’t often she talked honestly.

“I’m sorry.” She said, and then looked back at the woman lying on her bed half naked. “For your son.”

 Quinn's lips pursed into a thin angry line and she breathed out her nose for a moment.  Then when she calmed down enough to speak her jaw relaxed.  "Dianna we are not going to talk about my son.  It's bad enough you saw me cry and probably got some high off my emotions.  But I can't even talk about what happened with my family so we sure as hell aren't going to do it."  She was silent for a moment and she was suddenly washed in the feeling of being alone. 

 The only thing she had after losing her son and husband was her work, and now that asshole Green had taken that from her.  "But thank you for the sentiment.”

 “Sentiment.” Dianna gave a wry grin at that word. Quinn was right; they shouldn’t be having a serious conversation. “Trust me Detective, I have better people than you to get high off of. People who are occasionally happy for instance.” She stood, angry with herself for even trying.

 "Why?  Are you incapable of feeling happy on your own? So you leech from everyone around you.  It's not me you should pity, Theron."  Quinn burped suddenly and unexpectedly, which made her pointed jab at the half-demon pointless.  "Excuse me."  At least she hadn't puked.  "So how is all this gunk supposed to heal me?”

 For a long moment, Dianna simply wanted to leave without answering. “I don’t know. The healer isn’t very specific about these sorts of things usually.” She rolled her eyes. “Actually, for all I know it’s just a mud bath and some rotten eggs.”

 "Lovely."  Quinn said leaning back on the bed.  "Go take a shower; you stink, Theron.  Then we can talk about what we do next.”

 “Demon hound spit.” The other woman grumbled, stripping as she went for the bathroom. Suddenly the idea of staying in the bloody, nasty smelling clothes was more than she could bear. Dianna certainly didn’t care what Quinn thought, she was in her own bedroom after all! The clothes would have to be burned or at least thrown out with the garbage.

 Leaving a trail of clothes behind her, she padded into the bathroom, ignoring the bath for now and opting for a hot shower. She needed to rinse the blood off. “I think the kid is making food for us.” She called out.

 "Jesus."  Quinn muttered as Dianna just stripped.  It was hard not to notice how attractive the half-demon was, but the more attractive the demon the more evil they were.  That was a lesson well learned.  She did her best to look elsewhere. 

 "That's what she said, when she fled earlier.  I'm on edge they know I'm here; I just don't know why they haven't come barging in with a warrant.”

“They don’t want you.” Dianna raised her voice, over the sound of the water. The hot water felt deliciously sinful as she let it sluice the Grey off her and she moaned in pleasure. Leaning her head against the tiles she could feel her muscles relaxing under the steaming hot water. “They want Lauren; they want whatever they did to her, to do to other people.”

 "Lauren can't have been their only test subject.  Why all this for one young woman?"  But who knew how the mind of a DA agent worked.

 In the shower, Dianna shrugged, not caring if Quinn could see her or not. The woman’s comments from earlier still stung. She grabbed the soap and started on the job at hand, she hoped the girl had enough sense to get a shower of her own. “I feel sorry for her.” She said out loud, before she could think better of it.

 Quinn was surprised by the words.  "Really?  Why?"  She asked curious.

 The soaping up stopped and Dianna stared blankly at the shower walls. “She’s alone. She saw her entire family murdered in front of her and her sister used her.” Damnit, there she went again actually having a serious conversation. Soaping up again, more forcefully this time, Dianna grinned. “That and she’s a virgin. Maybe I should help her with that last part?” Even from in the shower she could feel Quinn’s annoyance and the grin widened.

 "Of course, it's all about sex with you."  Just when she started to think Dianna might not be so bad.  She stared at the mudpack on her knee and willed it to work faster.

 “Of course it is.” Dianna answered easily, finishing off the shower with shampooing her hair. It might be time to consider another color; red was starting to become associated with Quinn’s hair in her mind. She didn’t really like that idea.

 Drying off, she walked back out into the bedroom, using the towel to dry her hair, naked as she’d gone in although considerably cleaner. “You don’t mind, do you?” She teased, catching Quinn’s eye as she moved.

 "Would it matter if I did?"  She replied dryly, knowing Dianna was doing it on purpose to get under her skin. 

 There was a knock on the door and Lauren entered.  "You're not yelling so I assumed it's safe.  I made sandwiches . . . oh . . ."  She blushed red and stepped back out and shut the door.

 Quinn made a face, imagining how much glee Dianna was going to get out of taking away Lauren's innocence.

 Laughing, Dianna leaned up against the door to her walk-in closet, nearly doubled over in laughter. “Oh that was perfect!” She laughed so hard her eyes were watering. “She thinks you and I . . .” She waggled her eyebrows at Quinn, still chuckling.

 "In your dreams maybe."  Quinn muttered not amused.  She did have a brief flash of what might be like to roll around in the sheets with Theron and then quickly shoved the image away.

 “Was that lust, Detective?” The smile was bright as Dianna started dressing in expensive underwear and tight-fitting pants and blouse. “I thought you were a good Catholic girl.”

 "Just 'cause someone may have Irish ancestry doesn't necessarily make them Catholic, Theron."  She pulled the sheet up over her, calling out louder toward the door.  "It's as safe as it's going to get with Theron strutting around.  You can come in, Lauren."

 It took a moment then the door slowly opened.  "Sorry, I didn't mean to barge in."  The young woman said softly, not looking at either of them.

 “Nothing quite like what you were thinking was going on.” The half-demon purred, really enjoying the way Lauren went bright red. She moved closer, patting the young woman on the shoulder.  “Relax, I’m teasing you.” The bar owner whispered, giving her a small push toward one of the chairs so she wouldn’t bolt.

 Lauren gave her a smile and handed her the tray of sandwiches.  "I made food.”

 “Perfect. I’m starving.” Something about almost dying had apparently translated into making her ravenous. She grabbed a sandwich and passed the plate over toward Quinn. When she saw the nervous young woman starting to stand up, she reached over and pulled her back down. “Oh, no, you don’t. We three have to talk before someone else decides you’re valuable and comes after you.”

"Okay."  She sat back down tucking her feet under her in the chair.

Quinn stared at Lauren for a moment, having a hard time believing this young woman was capable of killing demons.    She cleared her throat.  "So what do we know?  And where do we go from here?”

“You’re the detective.” Dianna lounged in her chair, finishing the first sandwich and grabbing a second. “Don’t you know what’s going on already?” Apparently the only option other than being nice to Quinn was to antagonize her.

"Fine, we're screwed.  They are letting us sit here to watch us twist and then they're going to come in and kill us and take Lauren.  Or they send some of their full blooded demon helpers after us and again kill us and take Lauren."  Quinn snapped back at Dianna.  "Until I call some friends, I don't know how badly I've been cut out of the loop.  At this time I can only assume it’s bad.  I could walk down to the precinct and turn myself in.  Buying you some time to hide in the Gray and maybe relocate somewhere.  That is what I see at this time, since I don't know much.”

 “At least you admit it.” Dianna glanced over at Lauren, it was kind of funny watching the younger human try to sink into the chair and disappear. “The people your sister worked for, do you remember any names?”

Lauren fidgeted. "No, my parents went once to some fancy dinner in DC when she got some award. There was a photo up in the house of my sister and her colleagues getting the award. Sorry I'm not very helpful."

"You had the business card." Dianna reminded her. "We could use that." She eyed Quinn. "Right? Somehow?" She hoped.

"Maybe we can also use that photo. I know a hacker, I've busted him a couple of times for fraud, unless you know someone." Quinn said. Of course, that depended on if the eggs and the mudpack healed her.

"I know someone, but we don't want to ask him unless there's no other choice." Dianna made a face. "I've had enough of the Grey for a while. That's as close to death as I think I ever really want to get."

Quinn looked at them but didn't ask.

"You don't really want to know." Dianna said at that look, sighing.

"Okay. If I can walk in the morning. We will get that photo and visit Jefferson."

"You'll walk. The old hag might be dangerous, but she's never let me down when I've paid for a healing before. Try to screw her though and that's a different story." She licked her lips. "Of course, you still owe me for that."

Quinn made a face, she had been hoping Dianna had forgotten. "We'll talk about it later."

"I won't forget." The half-demon taunted, rising to her feet. "I need to check the doors. Don't forget, the bar's open tomorrow." She gave Lauren a wink as she sashayed out.

Lauren got up. "I hope you feel better, Quinn. I'm going to take a shower and go to bed." She was tired and wanted to be clean.


Dianna loved Tuesday nights; the bar wasn't nearly as busy as it was on the weekends. Only regulars and diehards showed up usually and she got to book local talent to sing, instead of relying on whatever the band of the day was. Friday and Saturday nights were orgasmic of course and she always got high on the emotions of those partying in the bar, but Tuesdays were nice too.

"Bar's open." She said at the door to her office, watching Lauren read. "You sure you don't want to come downstairs?"

Lauren looked over at the clock, "It's noon. You have people come into your bar other than Bob and get drunk?"


"Helga serves a mean lunch. That and the workmen are here to replace the window that Quinn broke." Dianna walked in, nodding to the portrait that was once again by the main window looking down at the gardens. "You should try her perogis, they're great." She paused by the chair that Lauren was sitting in, looking over the young human's shoulder at the book.

"Okay." Lauren said, setting the book down. She had just showered again and her hair was damp dark curls. She got up moving to the door. "Can I ask who the woman in the painting is?"

Dianna hesitated, it wasn't something that she talked about, ever. "My sister." Was the slow answer, turning to look at the portrait. "My older sister."

Lauren nodded. "She looks kind of like you." Lauren sensed she shouldn't say more than that or ask any more questions. "I'm not sure what a perogi is but I'm willing to try it."

"It's like a dumpling." Dianna's shoulders relaxed as no more questions came. "You should hang out at the bar; make sure those workmen put in the window correctly. Mingle." She said a mischievous look on her face.

"Mingle?" Lauren squeaked. "I don't have a clue how to mingle.”

"It's easy." The redhead picked up her book, flipping it closed and setting it aside as she guided Lauren toward the door. "You talk to people, be sociable. You can't just hide behind books forever."

"But it’s safer." Lauren said but let herself be guided down the stairs. "How's Quinn doing? Is she walking?"

"Don't know. She was pretending to not watch when I took a shower this morning. Remember, teasing is perfectly acceptable." She winked at Lauren, laughing as the tanned woman went a bit red.

"Has anyone ever slept with you because they love you?" She frowned and tried again to express herself better. "You have this power, of lust, so people must always want you." Lauren knew she did although it was getting better as they spent time together. "So how do you ever know if someone wants you for you, or for the lust vibe you give off?"

"Lauren." Dianna grabbed her hand at the top of the stairs. "That's what I am, there's no difference between the two. They lust after what I offer and that's what they get, sometimes." She wondered if the human understood.

"Part of you isn't, part of you is human. And humans like to be cherished and loved. Lust isn't love no matter the pretty package it comes in."

"Weak you mean." Dianna's grin died and she let go of Lauren's hand. "There's no such thing as love for someone like me, Lauren."

"Why not?" Lauren asked curious.

"It just isn't." She glared. "Demon's don't love, doesn't matter if half of me is human, that's still more demon than any human's going to accept."

It sounded sad and made Lauren worry for her future. Did that mean she wouldn't be capable of love or finding someone to love her?

"Sorry." She said, finally. "I didn't mean to make you mad."

Dianna sighed. "You didn't." She grimaced. "It's just, it's not . . ." she paused, rubbing a hand through her red hair, musing it. “Love can be dangerous. For now though, how about you just work on meeting people?"

Lauren gave a sheepish grin. "That's probably a good place to start."

"Good girl." Dianna made what she hoped was a smile. "Go on, get some food and mingle okay?"

Lauren nodded and entered the kitchen.

The half-demon watched her go, eyes narrowing. This was why she shouldn't be housing humans like some sort of goddamn hotel manager! They asked questions, uncomfortable questions that she didn't want to answer much less talk about. Turning she headed for her bedroom, time to collect in on what Quinn owed her.

"Wakey-wakey Detective." She pushed open the door.

Quinn was awake and showered, she was back in the yoga pants and T-shirt she'd found stashed in a drawer. "I'm awake, Theron." She was sitting at Dianna's desk, making notes in her scribbled scrawl that she called handwriting.

"Your healer didn't lie. It's a little stiff but it feels much better."

"Amazing, not everyone lies to you." Dianna cast an appraising look at the figure. Quinn certainly wasn't curvy, no one would ever call her that, but she was beautiful in her own way. The ordeals she'd passed through would have broken most, but they'd just ground Quinn down. Honed her into what she was now and Dianna rather doubted she knew how nice she looked. "The clothes fit you nicely."

"Thank you, but they’re your clothes so they’re made for someone with a figure not a stick." She looked up briefly from her notes. "Are you going to help me get into Lauren's house or am I on my own, while you play hostess?"


Hostess, the entire word set Dianna's teeth on edge right at that moment. "Actually, I think we need to talk about what you owe me first." She leaned up against the wall next to her bed, watching Quinn.

Quinn froze for a moment, then set the pen down and looked over at Dianna. "Okay. What do I owe you?"

"Just like that? You're going to agree to whatever I ask for?"

"No, but you haven't told me your price yet. Once you do we'll haggle." Her blue eyes narrowed looking at the Half-demon and waited.

Pale eyes blinked. "Ah. I want you to take Lauren. Take care of her and get her away from the Gray. That's the price."

Quinn felt slightly disappointed by that. "Not what I was expecting. But I can probably make that happen."

"You both go." Dianna's lips thinned. She should be happier that Quinn wasn't arguing.

"Where are we going to go? Right now this is as safe as we're going to get. I'm a wanted felon and who knows what the DA want with her. She'll be upset; I think she looks up to you. God only knows why."

"I don't know but you aren't my problem." She took a deep breath.

Quinn didn't know why she was surprised. But she shouldn't have been. In the end, Dianna still had demon blood in her. "Fine, I'm not your problem." She got up and walked over to the dresser where her uniform was. She took off the shirt and pants and started dressing in her uniform. "I'll be out of your hair in a moment." It wasn't an easy process, layers to dressing.

Dianna frowned. "Tomorrow." She said suddenly. "Lauren's tending bar tonight."

She fixed the Kevlar vest. "No, you said 'I' wasn't your problem. So I'm fixing that." She slid the uniform shirt on and buttoned it. Then went over to the desk and wrote a name and number. "This is my Da, call him, and he'll provide a sanctuary for Lauren. There's no place safer."

"You're leaving now? This instant?" Dianna pushed off from the wall. "Just like that?"

"Look, you don't want me here. You've made that clear. I'm leaving. You'll be safe, and on the bright side, I won't be coming round anymore to make you work cases." She picked up her service weapon and slid it into the holster.


"And where are you going? Just going to go turn yourself in? Don't be stupid." Dianna really was starting to regret her form of payment. "One more night here won't kill you."

"What does it matter, today or tomorrow? You don't want me here. Thank you for helping me, I appreciate it but after years in a marriage where I wasn't wanted or needed, I've learned when it's time to go, it's time to go, before someone else sells me out to a demoness."

"Why are you being so difficult!" And why did she have to put on that uniform? Dianna really would have rather not dealt with the detective in full uniform, it was hard to concentrate. "You get yourself taken in by the DA people and then who's going to help Lauren out?"

"Don't whine, Theron, you're the one being difficult. You want me to go then you want me to stay, you can't have it both ways. My dad will take care of Lauren, who better than a priest. Your hands are clean and you can go back to your one-night stand lifestyle that we're interrupting."

She walked to the door looking at Dianna. "You're blocking the door, you need to move."

"Leave tomorrow." Dianna crossed her arms, staying right where she was in the doorway. "It's my price; I get to set the terms."

"Don't do this Theron, it will just make it harder. I'm ready to go, now, this is best."

"Now who's being cowardly? You just going to run away and do the honorable thing by falling on your sword? Life doesn't work like that." Dianna stood her ground, watching Quinn through narrowed eyes.

"Honorable thing? You make it sound dirty. What's wrong with being honorable?"

"Being honorable gets you dead. That's what's wrong with it."

"I'm still not seeing why you care if I die or not. Now move." She reached out to pull Dianna out of the doorway.

"No!" Dianna grabbed Quinn's arm, pushing as the detective pulled.

"Dianna." Quinn shouted startled by the response.

“What?” The half-demon growled. “You think I’m above making you stay? You leave now and the kid’s going to get all upset, probably hide away in my study reading a book all night.” It was a good idea to make this about Lauren, she thought. “Or tag along with you while you try to get yourself killed!”

"The kid as you call her, worships the ground you walk on, she is not going to follow me willingly.  In fact if I try to take her with me, away from you for her own safety I fully expect to get a black eye for my troubles.  Now let go of me and let me go!”

“Or what,” Dianna’s grin turned decidedly evil, “Maggie?”.

Quinn gave her a look, 'do you really want to know' and then in a quick move stepped into Dianna's personal space while at the same time breaking the hold the half-demon had on her arm.  With her hip in Dianna's groin, she grabbed Dianna's arm and flipped her over on to the floor and then followed her down, pinning her.  "You asked."  The cop said with a sigh.

The move wasn’t completely unexpected; although the red-haired demon had expected a slap, rather than a full-body throw. Twisting her head just a bit she could see back over her shoulder at the woman straddling her back. “And I got. I had no idea you were such a dominatrix, Quinn.” It was probably a bad thing that the entire encounter had her aroused, but she really didn’t care.

"There's probably a lot about me you don't know."  With a practiced ease, she had her cuffs out and had Dianna's hands cuffed behind her back.  "Now are you going to continue being difficult?”

“Yes.” Dianna tested the cuffs, unrepentantly. “Now that you have me all tied up Detective, what are you going to do now?” She asked, licking her lips as she had a brief image of all sorts of possibilities. This was getting interesting.

Because Quinn couldn't resist she leaned forward so her whole body brushed against the half-demon's, she could feel Dianna's cuffed hands now pinned between her stomach and the woman's back.  She whispered into Dianna's ear.  "Nothing that you'd enjoy.”

“You would be surprised what I could enjoy, Quinn.” Dianna’s eyes fluttered closed at the full touch, pressing up against Quinn’s body. It had been several days since she’d had sex now, which was several days longer than she was used to going without. The connection with Quinn just served to intensify those feelings.

With a growl she sudden swept out her leg and rolled over, using her strength to pin Quinn beneath her, as she suddenly reversed their positions. Her arms were still cuffed behind her but she pressed Quinn down against the wood floor with a decidedly predatory look in her eyes. “You should be careful playing with demons, Detective.”

 "I never play."  It had been a surprising move by Dianna but Quinn spent almost everyday in the gym or on the mats with her Judo instructor.  "And your arms are still cuffed."  She brought her legs up around the half-demon, her heels pressing into Dianna's chest and in a flash their positions were reversed, again.  She was breathing heavily. 

 "Just let me go."  She said softly, almost pleading with Dianna.

 Dianna’s eyes were dilated as she stared back up at Quinn’s face, so close to her own. The human’s eyes were a deep blue, speckled with almost golden flecks throughout the iris. She wondered why she’d never noticed that before.

 “Tomorrow.” She whispered.

 Quinn was caught in Dianna's eyes, and felt her will weaken.  She licked dry lips and leaned forward.

 The half-demon shivered under Quinn’s weight, feeling her arousal grow and she leaned up, wanting that kiss more than anything she could recently remember wanting. It was only the knowledge of what would happen that made her pause, lips just brushing Quinn’s.

 “You shouldn’t.” She whispered, hating herself for it.

The feeling of their lips touching even just the gentle brush was electrifying for Quinn, and she suddenly wanted to know, just once, what a kiss from the half-demon would feel like.  She pressed forward kissing Dianna and doing something that was so unlike herself.

 Dianna had warned her; of course she hadn’t told Quinn why she shouldn’t. The kiss was as passionate as Dianna had always suspected Quinn herself was. There were no half measures or tentativeness, when the Irish woman decided on something she went with it full force. That applied to the kiss and Dianna moaned, deepening it as she felt herself react. She tasted Quinn and her emotions, drawing them both closer and if she’d had her hands free she would have cupped the good detective's ass and pressed her close. Instead she settled for drawing a leg up and around Quinn, using that to anchor her close.

The kiss was more than she had imagined, the pleasure of it shot down to her soul.  It threatened to overwhelm her, drown her and take her over. That was when she panicked and pulled back.  She lifted a hand to slap Dianna but the half-demon had warned her.  "Looks like you're still a frog."  She pulled back and tried to stand.

“A frog?” The other woman gasped, swallowing as her chest heaved. Reluctantly lowering her leg and letting Quinn escape.

"A prince you are not." Quinn said standing.  "And I'm still not gay."  She said pointing a finger at Dianna.  "I'm going to . . . I'm going to . . . go now."  She reached into a pocket and tossed the keys to the cuffs on the bed.

Quickly, before there was any more foreplay, she escaped out the door.


“Damnit, Quinn!” Dianna yelled after her, struggling to grab the keys with her cuffed fingers, which was a lot harder then they made it look in the movies. It was even harder to try to figure out how to put it into the lock on her cuffs and unlock them herself.




Quinn was not going to turn herself in, unlike what Dianna had thought.  First thing she did was steal a cell phone out of the pocket of someone she accidentally bumped into on the street.  Her father may have been a priest but her brother was not. 

 It was daylight and people were out, it would be harder for Green and his goons to spot her. 

 She dialed a number.  "Derek, I need a . . . no I'm not talking to you in Klingon . . . Now are you going to listen or am I going to be making a call to the police tip line.  Good.  Now I need a fake ID and I'm going to be bringing you a photo; I need the names of the people in it.  See you in an hour." 

 She hung up and started looking for a car.

 Quinn made another phone call as she drove the car she'd taken from the parking lot of a dentist’s office.  Depending on the procedure the owner wouldn't notice their car missing for an hour or two, and from now on they might think twice about parking in the handicap spot when they weren't handicapped.

"This is Quinn."  A deep masculine voice answered.

"Da, it's Maggie."

"Maggie girl how are you . . ."

"I'm in trouble up to my pits Da, if it all goes to hell I want you to give sanctuary to a friend of mine.  A young woman named Lauren.  She's demon tainted somehow, she'll need guidance."

"Throw whatever phone you're using away.  Some unpleasant young men from Demon Affairs stopped by to see me, I'm not certain they haven't tapped my line."

Maggie cursed.

"None of that.  Call your brother."

"I'm not calling that piece of shit."

"Call him."  Came her father's stern voice.  "While I can pray for you, he can help you more immediately."

"Da, I'm not . . . fine. He's never going to let me live this down."

"That's what older brothers are for."

"Da, I love you.  I just wanted you to know."

"Situation is that dire."  He said sadly. 

"Not sure, has the stink of greed and demons.  And I'm caught in the middle of it again.  I just wish they'd leave me alone and I can get my life back together."

"If happiness was easy, no one would appreciate it."

"I have to go.  I'll call Cain.”




It took Dianna over almost an hour to get rid of the god-be-cursed cuffs and storm downstairs, rubbing her sore wrists. Helga was in the kitchen and turned to say something, stopping as she saw the look of anger on the bar owner’s face.

“Lauren!” Dianna called, shoving open the doors to the bar.

It was getting on into the afternoon by then and the bar was starting to fill up a little bit. A dozen or so people were sitting in the polished wooden booths or out on the main floor, enjoying quiet drinks. In another two hours the main band would show up to begin preparing for the night and things would get a little more lively.

Lauren looked around the bartender who was showing her how to mix drinks.  "Yes?"   She looked worried at Dianna's angry scowl.

“Did Quinn come through here?” Dianna glared at Roger until the perceptive young man decided he had to go check on a client at the end of the bar.

"No, I don't think so.  I haven't seen her.  Is her knee doing better?"  Seeing the look on Dianna's face, she decided to be quiet and not ask any more questions.

“She cuffed me.” Dianna growled. “And then she left.” Which was what the half-demon had wanted, but that was just a pesky detail. “Now she’s out there somewhere getting into trouble because she’s too stubborn to listen to reason!” The last part came out a little louder then expected and the redhead lowered her voice.

“I’m going to go find her before she gets herself killed. Stay here and tend the bar? I know you don’t know much, but these guys are decent, Roger will keep an eye on things and Helga can handle the food orders at dinner time.”

Lauren thought that Dianna and Quinn didn't like each other, but then they kept acting as if they were two seconds from ripping each other's clothes off.  "Okay.  I can try, while you help Quinn not get killed."  She almost asked why Dianna cared but wisely kept her mouth shut.  "I'll follow Roger and Helga around until I get the hang of things.”

 “Good.” Dianna hesitated. “You’ll be careful right? No going outside and wandering around in the Gray?” Damn Quinn for taking off, now she was suddenly worried about two humans!

 "I promise I will stay inside the bar and learn how to pour alcohol and chat up patrons.  It will all be very black-and-white mobster movie."  She smiled at Dianna.  "Now go play hero or something.”

 “I’m not the hero, kid.” Dianna relaxed enough to smile at her. “Just don’t let anyone get too fresh with you and you’ll be fine.” She patted Lauren on the shoulder and grabbed Roger as she was passing him. “Lauren’s in charge, but you watch out for her, got it?”

 The young man nodded seriously and she grinned, giving him a shove back toward Lauren and their bar-tending lesson. Now to figure out where Quinn was going to go.


Quinn had not called her brother like her father had asked.  Some bridges couldn't be rebuilt after they were destroyed.

She tossed the phone in a garbage truck and then a mile from her apartment she pulled the car over into a parking space and got out and walked the rest of the way.  It was the last thing she should be doing but by now she hoped Green would only have someone doing drive-bys of her place, she just needed to keep an eye out.  Quinn didn't have a plan for this; she had a plan for several things so she improvised the plans she had for a violent offender released on parole who wanted revenge on her. 

 That plan required her to dye her hair a different color, something she wasn't looking forward to. 

 She waited and watched for two hours from the bushes near her house, in that time three DA watchers came by and sat outside her apartment for 12 minutes.  Once she had a timeline she moved to her apartment building and entered. 


Her apartment was trashed.  That was to be expected.  She didn't have much, most of the remnants of her life before . . . before had been destroyed in hellfire.  She paused and picked up a photo the frame that was nothing but broken glass; carefully she wiped it away and took the picture out.  It was her with Conner, he was a day old, and in the hospital, she looked exhausted and happy.  The only photo of her son that remained.  She set it down smoothing it out and got to work.   

Quinn pulled the fridge out and with a screwdriver removed a panel, from inside she pulled out a gun, a cell phone and 500 dollars cash.  Then she went into her bedroom and changed out of her uniform.  With careful precision, she hung it up and placed it with the other ones.  The Kevlar vest she kept on.   Putting the fridge back together, she scooped up the photo of her son, and jammed a baseball cap on her head.

Then she left the way she came in, waiting for the patrol to come and go, and she was off to Lauren's house.


 A psychic cleaning did a great job of washing away the emotional remnants of crimes, but in something as violent as had happened in this house, it would take time for the last vestiges to disappear. Dianna Theron had prowled through the rooms, restlessly. She’d been there for over an hour now, waiting and hoping that she’d guessed right. If Quinn had decided to go see Lauren’s sister’s place first, then she was out of luck. Hopefully though the good detective would come back to the first crime scene and investigate it.

Then hopefully Dianna could talk sense into her, or maybe just whack her upside the head and drag her back to the bar, she wasn’t sure which route she was going to take yet.

Quinn entered through the back door.  It hadn't been that hard to pick the lock, no one had bothered with the deadbolt.  She paused for a moment listening, not hearing anything, she slowly moved in trying to remember where Lauren said the picture would be.  She hadn't noticed any DA or local patrols of the house, after so much time after the murders she wasn't surprised.  The cleaners had been in to clean up the blood and the psychic stain.  Thankfully they hadn't started bagging and tossing the stuff inside.  If Lauren didn't step forward soon, the house would revert to the bank.

The half-demon had frozen, holding her breath as she’d waited in the growing darkness of the late afternoon. The door opening had worried her; maybe it was another cop or some other police person. If it had been, she’d be in a lot of trouble now; instead, she let out a slow breath of thanks as a familiar looking woman passed her and headed deeper into the house.

 With an evil little grin she decided to wait and scare Quinn when the human was least suspecting it. It would serve her right, she thought, for making Dianna worry. It was a fairly new sensation and one that the bar owner didn’t like.

 The floorboards creaked as Quinn moved through the hallway and Dianna opened her mouth to call out, relishing the idea of frightening her.

No sound came out though as her eyes widened in surprise. They weren’t alone in the house.

Quinn moved through the kitchen to the dining room.  Her skin crawled and her gut was screaming that she wasn't alone.  Slowly she let her hand drift to the gun in the holster under her jacket and unsecured it.  She pushed out of the dining room into the living room, her eyes scanning photos.  No photos of Lauren that weren't family shots, how fucked up was that?  The older sister on various stages getting awards from high school, college, and later on in life.  She paused in the hallway leading to the bedrooms. 

 One never forgot a White House seal, this was the photo.

 In the small study that she’d been standing in, Dianna very carefully eased her way backwards, away from the hallway. She’d seen something move through those shadows in a way that left little doubt that it was not natural. There were few things that lived in shadows like that, none of them should be this far from the Gray.

 She watched, standing in the fading sunlight from the window and away from any shadow on the floor. The problem with shadow demons, they had a hard time seeing anything that wasn’t in shadows or darkness and she hoped this one would ignore her.

 Quinn grabbed the photo off the wall and turned to head out.  She froze, the hair standing up on the back of her neck.  Fucking demons.  It had to be a demon nothing else made her stomach churn with fear, caused ice to form in her veins.  The large window in the living room was boarded over making everything dark.  She strained to hear anything, some clue to tell her if the creature was behind her or in front of her.  She heard nothing.  Slowly she started to retreat backwards, one of the bedrooms would have a window large enough for her to climb out.

 A hand shot out and grabbed Quinn, dragging her sideways into the study and into the small security of the setting sunlight.

 Dianna’s other hand wrapped around her mouth, cutting off the yell that the cop was about to let go. “Shhh.” She whispered harshly, holding the struggling woman against her.

 Quinn relaxed once she realized it was Dianna; there was no mistaking the woman's spicy perfume.  "God Damn it."  She whispered against Dianna's hand.  For a moment, she thought about biting it.


“Quiet.” Dianna breathed into the human’s ear, raising a finger to point into the hallway and the door that led into the family room beyond. A shadow detached itself from the base of the entertainment center and flowed across the room, sliding into the deeper shadows by the hallway door.

Quinn shivered.  "That's new."  She whispered.  She'd seen a lot of different demons and half-breeds.  She'd never seen a demon that was made of shadow.  She stood very still her back molded against Dianna's front.  "What do we do?”

“Stay in the light.” Whoever was gunning for Quinn was powerful if they could control a shadow demon, they were rare and powerful demons not often seen on Earth. At least not in the human world. It had obviously been waiting for Quinn just like Dianna had been. “Guns are useless against it.” Daylight was waning though, and that wasn’t going to keep them safe for long. The small window behind them would be tough to squirm out of.

Quinn slowly holstered her gun.  "I guess I know why there are no patrols on the house, they have this guy waiting for Lauren to come home."  Light was the trick and she looked around, daylight was winding down leaving them with only the man-made kind.  "Can you reach the light switch?”

Carefully, Dianna reached out toward the light switch on the wall. The shadows between where they were and it made it seem like it was a mile away. Just as her fingers crossed the line between shadow and light, the thing in the hallway slithered closer and she snatched her hand back.

“Nope.” She grimaced. “You have a flashlight?” She whispered, hopefully.

"I have a tiny LED attached to the key ring with my car keys, that's it.”

Since she was who she was, Dianna helpfully slid a hand down Quinn’s stomach and into her pocket, pulling said car keys out of the jeans. “You get the light, I’ll try this.” She volunteered.

"I could have gotten them myself."  Quinn said scowling.  She reached out to the edge of the shadows, toward the light switch.  "Ready?" 

At Dianna's nod she slid her hand through the darkness toward the light switch.

The shadow demon flowed out of the shadows, it’s movements liquid smooth as it swarmed up through the open doorway at them, a patch of inky darkness against the normal shadows. Dianna yelped, squeezing the LED light as it came at them. The pale blue light smoked where it touched the demon and it slithered sideways away from the pain.

But by then Quinn had hit the light switch and the single lamp on the desk flicked to life. The mass of shadows smoked as it fled back out into the hallway, leaving an acrid smell in the air behind it and Dianna yelled at the victory. “Take that you bastard!” She grinned, still keeping Quinn pressed up against her.

Just to be sure she was safe of course.

Quinn didn't move for a bit. It wasn't the strangest thing she had seen but it ranked up there. "Now what? It's still out there and we're here." She frowned realizing where Dianna's hand was. "And if you don't move your hand off of my boob, I'm breaking it."

"Uh." Dianna frowned, damnit she hated planning about these things in advance. She was a living in the moment kind of girl. "I'm pretty sure I deserve a reward for saving your life." But she removed her hand, grumbling. "Going outside is out, sun's almost set."

"Is the thing stuck to the house or will it follow us?" They couldn't stay here; a neighbor could report the light or a DA agent could drive by.

"It'll go wherever it has to in order to get its prey." Dianna sighed, looking around the study for something useful. "It was waiting here for you; someone's got it out bad for you Quinn. Make any powerful demon enemies recently?" The desk drawers revealed a box of matches and emergency candles.

"Me? They couldn't know I'd come back here. It makes more sense that it was waiting for Lauren."

"Whoever it was waiting for, it wasn't me. I've been here an hour waiting for your stubborn self to show up." There was a small flashlight in the bottom drawer and that was it, which she tossed over at the cop.

Quinn caught it and gave it a quick test. "Wow, you do have patience, whole hour. How'd you know I'd come here?"

"I didn't. I was guessing." Dianna eyed the window, wondering how quickly they could get out it if they needed too. Then she glared at the Irish woman. "I can be patient; I just choose not too, it's a waste of time usually."

"Had to be a good guess if you were waiting an hour."

"There something you're trying to say there?" Pale eyes narrowed dangerously.

Quinn ignored her, turning to look at the window. "I can make it through just fine, your breasts might get jammed."

The half-demon's lips curled in a sneer. "And then what? We try to outrun a shadow demon in the dark? Sounds brilliant."


"I'm sorry you haven't exactly had any ideas that have to do with killing it."

"Oh, I've got an idea." Why was it that Quinn could annoy her so very much? She moved toward the light switch. "You're wearing that bulletproof vest right?"

"You couldn't tell when you were groping me earlier?"

Dianna's lips twitched. "Hold on to that thought when it's on top of you and make sure you don't let it get away before it's dead." Dianna put her finger on the light switch, gave Quinn a dark look, and turned off the lights.

The thing sprang through the door the instant it was dark, flowing up at Quinn, spreading out to grab the cop.

"What? Dianna what are you . . . Shit!" She fumbled with the flashlight.

"Hold on to it!" Dianna yelled as the shadow demon wrapped itself around Quinn, trying to envelop her as it tightened its hold.

Hold on to it, the fucking thing was holding on to her!

She wiggled her fingers through the oily blackness trying to somehow keep a hold on it.

Strips of shadow wrapped around Quinn's throat, tightening their hold as it started to strangle the human. Dianna hesitated, this would only really work once and Quinn had to have a good hold on the demon before she turned the lights back on.

"Any . . . time . . . now . . ." She choked out.

If Dianna let it go a few more seconds than really necessary, there wasn't any way to prove it. "Now!" She mentally crossed her fingers, hoping this was going to work as she flipped the light switch on. Light flooded the room and immediately the shadow demon smoked, it reared, tendrils yanking away from Quinn as it tried to flee.

Quinn held on as much as she could, knuckles white.

The thing thrashed and flayed, Dianna wincing as its emotions screamed out at her. "The flashlight!" She really should have kept that for herself as she grabbed the side of her head at the throbbing. Damn the thing could scream. Acrid smoke was filling the air and she suddenly worried it would cloud the light.

Quinn let go with her right hand and fumbled with the flashlight, struggling she brought it up to what she thought was the thing's head and turned it on. Teeth gritted in determination.


With a choked cry of pain, Dianna fell to her knees, both hands going to her head as the thing's emotions roiled through her. Its death throes were stronger than she'd ever thought possible and her vision swam as the demon flailed once, twice and then slowly dissolved into nothingness in Quinn's grasp. Bits of it flaking off and turning to dust in the light.

Quinn got up slowly rubbing her throat, it took a moment to get to her feet and make the few steps to Dianna. "Hey. Are you okay?" She gently set a hand on Dianna's shoulder.

The redhead shuddered under the touch. "Fucker had a hell of a scream." She gritted her teeth, trying to will her head to stop throbbing enough for her to open her eyes without wanting to hurl.

"That it did." For a second she let her hand move to the back of Dianna's neck rubbing the muscles there; realizing what she was doing she let her hand drop. "We need to get out of here."

The human's emotions were a soothing balm after the shadow demon's and Dianna took in a deep breath, slowly standing. She doubted Quinn knew what she'd been talking about, but that was fine. "Right. You going to go running off on your own and get in trouble again?"

"I have to meet with my hacker. Get him to run facial scans on this photo. And I don't know about me causing trouble, I was fine until you showed up."

"Yeah, you would have been just fine." Dianna gritted her teeth. "You know what, fine. Go get yourself killed. I don't know why I bothered." The sudden migraine was turning her into a bigger bitch than usual apparently.

Quinn's eyes narrowed and her lips pursed into a thin line. "You know what; leave me the hell alone. Stop, just . . . stop." She stormed out of the room.

Dianna annoyed her six ways from Sunday on a good day, but after all the shit lately it was more than that. The damn woman was getting under her skin.

At odd times she found herself actually caring about the demon spawn or worried for her.

"I will! I'm going back to the bar, you go have fun running around." Dianna grimaced, leaning up against the wall as her stomach roiled in rebellion.

Right, yelling was a bad idea.

Quinn stomped to the front door and threw it open.  She had told Dianna to let her go, this was just a prime example of the half-demon getting in her way.  There was a loud crack followed by another and something slammed into her chest, stealing her breath away.  She staggered back and then another thing slammed into her.  She lost her footing, falling backwards.  Why couldn't she breathe?

"Agent Green, put your weapon down."  Someone shouted.

"She had a gun, I saw it."

"Listen here, you little pissant."

They were arguing and she was dying.  She'd been shot, son of a . . .




There was a loud bang and Lauren turned her head to look for the noise. 

A rather lovely woman had set her drink cup down loudly on the bar.  The young woman smiled and moved over.  "Sorry, didn't see you.  How can I help you?"

The woman smiled and very deliberately looked Lauren up and down from head to toe.  "How about a Screaming Orgasm?"

"That has Midori in it, right?"

The woman gave a husky laugh.  "I could just eat you up."  She reached out and cupped Lauren's cheek running a thumb over the young woman's lips.  "Tasty."  She murmured.

"Um . . ."  Lauren said getting flustered.  "Drink order."  She squeaked out.

"A long hard screw."

"I don't think I know that one.  Maybe I should get Roger."  Lauren was starting to panic, so much for working on her people skills.

“Oh come on honey, you can do it, I promise I’ll be gentle.” The woman licked her lips, long straight dark hair fashionably cut to accentuate her face.

Lauren gave an uneasy laugh.  "Really, somethings should probably be handled by a professional not the assistant."  She was so going to do something unpleasant to Dianna when the woman came back.  There was no way she could do this.

“Oh you can do it, amateurs are so much more fun than paying for it, don’t you think?” There was a wicked gleam in those dark eyes.

Lauren just swallowed caught like a rabbit in those eyes.  "I could try . . . I guess.  What's in it?”

“Whatever gets you hot and bothered.” The woman drawled, eyes running up and down Lauren's body, appraising her as if she was on the menu tonight as well. From down the bar, Roger raised an eyebrow, keeping an eye on the interaction.

Oddly, that made Lauren angry, she was getting tired of people playing with her; it seemed that had been going on her whole life.  "Order a drink or select something on the menu, but no matter how hard you look, you won't find me on it."  She turned to go back over to Roger, he or the other bartender could deal with the woman.

“Nicely done.” The young man said as she got closer to him, then he raised his voice. “Hey Giselle, I thought Dianna told you that you weren’t welcome back here.”

Giselle shrugged. “I don’t see Dianna anywhere, do you little man?”

Roger hesitated and shook his head, looking back at Lauren. “half-demon, Dianna usually deals with her. She’s a mean one, be careful.”

Lauren nodded.  "I can take care of myself, mostly.  I'll keep my eyes open when I'm around her.   I'm going to take the garbage out and take a short break.  I'll be back in five."  She just needed to get some air, and get her head on straight; Giselle had rattled her a bit.

“Thanks.” Roger smiled, happy that he wasn’t going to have to take care of it tonight. “Just don’t go far okay?” Dianna would kill him if something happened to Lauren on his watch.

"Only as far as the dumpster I promise."  She said as she started gathering the bags of trash and headed out through the kitchen.  Giselle had been attractive and her interest had been more than clear but, Giselle had scared her.

Helga waved a wooden spoon in greeting to the young human as she prepared bowls and platters of food to be brought out. The wave didn’t interrupt the dressing down she was giving an unfortunate waitress who had mixed up an order.

The garbage dumpster was outside in the back alley, which was lit only by a floodlight that Dianna had installed over the rear door. A familiar looking blond was sitting on the loading ramp, legs swinging back and forth as she sang in the night air.

“Simple Simon met a pieman, going to the fair. Said Simple Simon to the pieman,

"Let me taste your ware."” She paused, looking back at Lauren and the garbage bags.


“Said the pieman unto Simon, 'Show me first your penny.' Said Simple Simon to the pieman, 'Indeed I have not any.'”

Lauren froze for a second, instantly recognizing the crazy blond from the church inside the Gray.  She started moving woodenly at first and then relaxed.  It was weird but really not the weirdest thing that had happened to her. 

"You are not dumpster diving, this is nasty, all soaked in random alcohol."  She tossed it in to the dumpster and made her way back toward the door.  "If you wait a second, I'll get you a sandwich."  She looked at the woman seeing if she understood, but Lauren couldn't tell.

The blond smiled a secretive little smile, shaggy hair falling across her eyes as she bent her head forward again. “I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight.”

"Right."  Lauren said moving past her into the kitchen.

She looked around.  "Helga, can I have a bowl of that soup and a sandwich?"

The woman just gave her a look but then turned and made her a plate.  Watching suspiciously as Lauren went back outside the back door.  "No more strays, Dianna will have a stroke."

Lauren just waved and shut the door behind herself.  She sat down on the stairs next to the woman.  "Here.”

“Hmmmm.” The blond took in a deep breath, smelling the wonderful concoction of meat and noodles that Helga had made and immediately started eating as if she hadn’t seen food in weeks. The sandwich was devoured quickly but she made the soup last, enjoying every spoonful.

“Thank you.” She said at last, voice high and bright, a perfect soprano.  Blue eyes peeking at Lauren through that unkempt mass of hair.

The woman's voice was beautiful even if she did smell a little rank.  But Lauren might have been here lost in the Gray, in the world for that matter if Dianna hadn't shown up.  "You're welcome."  She continued to sit for a bit, enjoying not moving and not feeling like a piece of meat at feeding time. 

Dianna might consider this a slow night, it was still overwhelming to Lauren.

The soup finished, the blond set aside the bowl and continued swinging her feet, staring up at the sky above them. “They’re very pretty.” She said suddenly, after they’d sat in silence for almost five minutes.

Part 6

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