Gray Line, part 6


Lauren blinked.  "Huh?"  She looked up.  "Oh.  I hadn't noticed before."  She was quiet for a bit as she looked at the stars overhead.  "Yes, they are.”

“Stars don’t lie.” The blond hummed a bit of a song to herself before she stood up. “Thanks for the soup.”

"Uh, okay . . . I mean you're welcome."  She grabbed the plate and the bowl.  "Take care of yourself."  She said feeling awkward.

The blond smiled, impulsively leaning in and kissing Lauren quickly on the cheek. “You have a kind heart, just hold on to that.” She whispered, then turned and danced down the steps. Humming to herself she swayed out of the alley, dancing to music in her head.

Lauren watched her go, uncertain, but really she couldn't help herself let alone a nursery rhyme singing crazy woman.  She shuffled back into the kitchen and washed the plate and the bowl.  "Thanks Helga."  She said moving back out to the bar.


“You sure you’re going to be okay?” Roger asked, worriedly, again as they finished closing up the bar for the night. There’d been no sign of the boss and he was decidedly nervous about just leaving Lauren there alone. But Dianna had told him she was in charge.

"Yes, I'll be fine."  She was worried.  Dianna should be back by now, had said she would be back by now.  She knew night-time was the time for demons; this close to the Gray she would do no one any favors by going out and snooping for them.  Her best bet was to wait until morning and hopefully Quinn and Dianna would be back before she had to do anything. 

"It would have been nice of her to leave a cell number but I'll make do until she gets back."  She sighed at the look Roger was giving her.  "Go on.  I'll be fine, promise.”

He hesitated one last time then nodded and scribbled something on a bar napkin. “Look, here’s my number if anything happens. Helga’s number is in the office if you need her for something also.”

Then, with one last assurance that she’d be fine, he left her and Bob alone in the bar.

Bob raised the beer bottle to his lips and took a sip.


"Don't get up, Bob."  Lauren said with a chuckle at her own joke, as Bob didn't really move.  She went and checked the back, locking the delivery door and turned off the light before going out to the front.  "Want another one?"  She asked.  "Dianna wasn't clear; do you leave at night?”

He pushed the empty bottle across the bar top toward her with his fingertips. Which was as close to an answer to her questions as she was going to get from him.

She reached into a cooler and grabbed a random beer; she didn't think Bob was picky.  "I'll leave you to it."  She checked the front door and couldn't help looking out the new window checking it out.

Shadows moved in the streets outside. They were dark indistinct things, half seen in the deeper shadows cast by the moonlight over the street beyond.

Lauren winced as a headache sprouted at the back of her skull.  She had no way of knowing if those shadows meant danger for her or not, so close to the Gray, Dianna had told her of several strange and horrible incidents that had happened on this street.  Still her skin bubbled and settled into hard sheets of stone and her eyes turned black.  It was three in the morning only a few hours until sunrise what could happen?

Fire flickered as something was lit across the street. The flames danced in the window, reflecting off the wet asphalt outside. More flames appeared, lighting one after the other until dozens flickered in the darkness outside.

The first one bobbed and then it flew, arcing up and over the street to smash against the bar’s exterior. That had been the signal the others had waited for and dozens of Molotov cocktails soared through the air toward the bar.

Most hit the exterior or roof, bursting into hellfire when they struck.

A handful shattered through the newly replaced window in the front, liquid flames bursting on and around Lauren.

Lauren ducked down covering her face, avoiding the breaking glass.  An odd thought drifted through her head that Dianna was going to be pissed that her window got broken again.  Whirling around she ran for the back noticing that Bob was gone.

The hellfire that had been used to light the Molotov cocktails burned anything they could, including the bricks making up the outside of the bar. The fire spread quickly, turning into a roaring blaze behind Lauren as the bar filled quickly with thick smoke.

Lauren hesitated and then ran up the stairs; she needed her sisters black case. She needed it bad enough to flirt with disaster.

She pounded up the stairs, the heat making her sweat. She tore the guest room door open and snatched up the case. She made for the hallway and cursed as the fire quickly ate its way up the stairs. She had no idea how much punishment she could take now, but running through hellfire wasn't something she wanted to test out.

She ran for the study remembering the garden outside the window a softer landing than the street full of demons.

The door to the study flung itself open as Lauren ran toward it, even though it had been locked earlier. The rear of the building wasn't burning yet, but the fire was spreading with supernatural speed and it would be there within minutes.

She ran into the room and then hesitated a second before she picked up Dianna's heavy wood office chair and threw it out the window before following after. She landed heavily with a grunt but nothing broke. Her feet had sunk four inches into the soft dirt and she had to take a moment to pull free.

She looked up and panicked for a moment as she thought she saw a shape in the window, had there been a patron still inside, had she checked the bathrooms?

She could feel them coming, the demons, and she could do nothing other than run.

A cry went up from the demons in the front of the bar and they took off after Lauren, a familiar looking hellhound leading them. "Alive, she wants the bitch alive!" Challa snarled at the motley crew of demons that took chase after the fleeing human.

Part of Lauren really wanted to stop and turn around and fight. To feel bones break in her hands and hear the sound of blood splashing the ground, but part of her kept her running.

It didn't take long to figure out they were herding her toward the Gray, that was probably the last place she wanted to be.

When they tried to make her go left she cut hard to the right; jumping, her hands dug into the soft material of the brick building, she climbed as fast as she could to the roof and then looked around.

"You make a lot of noise." The soprano voice came from very nearby on the roof of the old crumbling warehouse.

"Shit." Lauren said jumping and tripping over an old rusted pipe. She blinked and looked up from her seated position. "Who's there?"

The blond, bundled in rags that had seen much better days, but blue eyes almost luminous in the dim moonlight, raised a pale finger to her lips. She was sitting up against a door that gave access to the roof from inside. "Shhh. You'll bring them here."

Lauren just nodded.


Cautiously the homeless woman crept up a bit, peering down over the edge of the roof. Whatever she saw made her duck back down and she creaked open the door behind her. It opened into the old elevator mechanical room inside and the blond beckoned Lauren inside.

Lauren got up slowly, trying to be quiet. She had learned by now this form was heavier, with stone-like skin and monstrous strength. She moved into the room.

The other woman’s teeth gleamed as she smiled quickly and then hopped from stair to stair, jumping to clear the steps blocked by crumbling bits of masonry from the walls around them.

Lauren did her best to follow, although she didn't know what was safer, following the crazy woman or being chased by demon hounds.

They went down many flights, deeper under the abandoned slaughterhouse and into the old boiler rooms that had served to heat the place. There, among the massive steam pipes and rusting boilers, covered with coal dust, the strange woman went up on her tiptoes and spun around in a pirouette. "My home." She sang. "Safe."

Lauren looked around. It really wasn't much. "Looks great." She sat down slowly and let out a breath as her skin bubbled and then returned to too human flesh, which meant the demons were far enough away she couldn't sense them.

"Tea, we must have tea." The blond scurried, lighting a very small fire in one of the old boilers that she fed with chunks of leftover coal. Near that she carefully placed a small chipped china teapot. "There's fire on the wind."

Lauren nodded. "Hellfire, they burned down Dianna's bar." She shook her head. "Oh man, is she going to be pissed."

"The ghost is gone then? She was always so sad-looking, staring down at the garden. I tried to sing her songs, but I don't think she heard me." The stranger said sadly, carefully unfolding a small packet of home dried herbs for the tea.

"I, uh, don't know. Ghost?"

"The woman in the dress. She was very pretty, but always so sad. She cried a lot and her sister bought her all those books to read and made the garden for her to watch." The herbs were placed in the water to seep.

Lauren opened her mouth and shut it, that would explain getting locked in the study. "How long for tea?"


"Almost, almost." The woman sang something in what sounded like Italian. "You cannot rush perfection." She beamed.

"Right." Lauren said and then felt the trembling come. It snuck into her limbs and hunger gnawed in her belly wanting something food could never satisfy. She closed her eyes and willed it to go away. She didn't need this now.

"Sickness. Addiction, it spreads like darkness in your veins." The blond was suddenly at Lauren's side, cool hands pressing against her forehead. "Tea, drink." She offered a cracked teacup.

Lauren didn't say anything just took the cup with a weak smile. She raised it to her lips after a moment of willing her hand to stop shaking, and sipped it.

Her eyes widened with surprise. "That's very nice."

"Special." The blond whispered, brushing shaggy hair out of her eyes. "My own herbs. Drink slowly, it purges the blood."

Lauren nodded. "Okay." She wouldn't be surprised if she saw little green men later.

"They will search for you all night." The woman said, pouring her own cup of tea and sipping it there, among the ruined boilers and coal.

She sipped her tea. "Are we safe here?" What about Dianna and Quinn? Were they safe? Maybe they were hurt while she was in here.

"Yes, no, maybe." The woman laughed. "No one is ever really safe. Am I safe with you? Are you safe with me?"

Lauren laughed at that. "Fair enough."

She took another sip and looked at the odd woman. "Do you have a name?"

"No. Not here." She looked away. "I had one once, but they took it from me when they cast me out. I make up different ones for myself each day, but they never feel right."

"Okay." Lauren frowned, thinking for a second. "I'm going to call you Blue, if that's okay. Just so I can call you something." Other than crazy lady, she thought to herself.

"Blue." The name didn't fit any better than the others but she shrugged. "Blue eyes." She smiled and dug around in a small pile of rags, producing a pair of apples that were only a little overripe. "Food, for your stomach."

"Its okay. I'll be fine for a little bit." She said not wanting to take the woman's food.

"Food given is not lightly refused. Breaking salt binds civilization, supper is all that holds us together or we become barbarians." The apple was offered again.

"Okay, sorry, didn't mean to offend." Lauren said taking the apple.

Hesitantly she took a bite and chewed. Apples weren't her favorite after a grade school incident when she wore braces.

"Good." Wide blue eyes watched her intently. "Sleep soon and sunrise you will be fine."

She nodded and did her best to finish off the apple before finding a place to lay down.


Quinn could hear them coming up the walk, steel toed boots loud on the concrete, apparently they'd stopped arguing.  She was getting her breath back; she didn't want to see the bruise under her vest.  She reached out her fingers touching the frame of the photo and then with a push sent it skittering across the floor into the darkness.  She hoped Dianna would follow up with it.

Figures were over her, hands roughly searching her.  "I told you she was armed."

"Yeah, she was armed for bear and was going to be guns blazing any moment."  That voice belonged to someone in her squad.  Ryan something.

She was hauled up and cuffed.  "Good to see you alive Detective, wish it was under better circumstances,"  he said.

She groaned and shook her head.  "Nice to see you too, Ryan."

He smiled and carefully took her toward the squad car.  "They're saying you killed Mikey, your old partner."  He nodded his head at the fuming Agent Green.

"Don't know what happened to Mikey.  He asked me to meet him; a demon came out of his car.  All I know,” she gasped out.  “Demon chased me, wrecked my car, woke up and suddenly I was demon tainted.  I was trying to find something to prove I was innocent."

"Well, we'll get you back to the Precinct and have you talk to the Chief."

"What?"  Agent Green suddenly came back to life.  "No, she's coming with me.  She's demon tainted and a danger."

Ryan's eyes narrowed angrily.   Quinn felt some hope she wasn't going to be dangled out there to be sacrificed.

"Officer, I am ordering you to put Ms. Quinn in my vehicle so I can take her in to be tested, questioned and then purified if needed.  As you know, with all affairs demonic in nature, I have jurisdiction."

Ryan sighed.  "Sorry Detective."  He said changing course for Green's car.

"It's okay.  Just make sure someone buries me next to my son, Officer."

"I promise." 

She knew he'd do his best, because hardly anybody came back from purification alive.

She ducked as she was shoved into the back of Agent Green's car.

She said nothing as he gave her a smug grin as he got in and started the car.  He couldn't take her in, not without something important, like the Espinoza girl.  The public, who had originally been swayed against Detective Quinn were now yelling Government cover-up especially since photos of the car wreck had been leaked.  Out all over the Internet were photos of the Detective's smashed car with huge claw slashes clearly visible.  People were starting to question him.

"You're demon tainted, your fucking adoring public may not see it or want to believe it but you're dirty.  Fucking that succubus and hiding a government engineered demon killer; that will turn the public against you.  So make it easy, tell me where you've hidden the girl.  Or have you and that demon bitch lover already sacrificed her to that demoness hell spawn, the one that killed your husband and son."  He said the last part with such contempt that Quinn lost it. 

She lifted up her legs and slammed her feet into the seat and divider in front of her over and over again. 

"Don't you talk about my son to me.  You fucking piece of shit!"  She howled out.

Green just smirked and hit a number on his cell phone.  "I have Detective Quinn, I'm taking her to the warehouse for a private chat, meet me there.”




"This doesn't look like the Demon Affairs local office."  She said dryly.  Quinn was tired, hungry, and it was looking as if she wasn't going to get a last meal.

"Shut up."  He said opening the back door and dragged her out.  At first she went limp, pretending her legs didn't work and when that got him off-balance she head-butted him, breaking his nose and made a run for it.  She made it three steps before someone tackled her.


The ground rushed up and everything went dark again.

Someone was slapping her and then there was a bright light shining in her face.  She jerked but didn't go far tied to a chair.

Agent Green was there looking pissed off, with Kleenex shoved up his nose, and his partner glowered at her.

"If I didn't fucking hate you enough."  Green spat out.  "Maggie Quinn, age 32, one son - deceased.  One husband, the same.  You reek of demon taint; you're so corrupt I'm choking on the shit just being in the same room with you."

"Go to hell, you're the corrupt one."  She growled out.

 He sneered at her, gun coming out of its holster and he raised it to aim at her head. “I’m really going to enjoy this. You have one last chance to tell me what you did with the kid and then I’m going to exercise my right to terminate a demon problem.”

 "Green, be cool."  His partner said in a low soft voice.  "We're skating on thin ice as it is.  We need the girl, so we need Quinn."  He gave an unpleasant smile.  "Although we don't need her in one piece."

 "What the hell?  What is it about the Espinoza girl that has your panties in a twist?  Everything I got on her is that she was mousy, quiet, and unremarkable; nothing about her stood out in any way.”

 “She is an unremarkable nothing!” Green slammed the pistol back into its holster, furious. He really, really wanted to cap Quinn and he’d find a way to do it sooner or later. “But she’s carrying something that’s very interesting to us. So we’re going to find her and find out why she’s been able to do a few very remarkable things, understand?”

 "It's back to the sister.  The one you kept stonewalling me on.  What the hell was she into?  She sell her soul?  Sell out the government project she was working on?  Come on, she was more than an aide.”

 “The sister was working on a special project for us.” Ferris rumbled, placing a hand on Green’s shoulder to keep him from exploding. “Most of her work died with her in that house. We don’t know how the demons found out about it, but they must have.” His cell phone rang and Ferris stepped aside, answering it in low tones and speaking quickly with whoever was on the other end.

 "Jesus. You couldn't just tell me that. No, you had to play this pissing contest.  It's not like I haven't dealt with my share of demons, my beat butts up against the Gray.  No, you had to come in and act like I stepped on your dick."  She didn’t know why she kept talking, no one was going to save her, but if she was talking then she was alive.   "Look, I'm sorry we got off on the wrong foot.  You rub me the wrong way and I obviously do the same to you.  I, however, do not know where the girl is and I'm not sleeping with Theron."  She rolled her eyes at that.

 “National Security, you weren’t vetted to know.” Green tried to sound superior, but it was hard with the bloody Kleenex stuffed in his nose.

 “That was the chief, he’s coming here, now.” Ferris shut his cell phone with a snap.

 “Crap, just what we need, another bureaucrat.” Green rolled his eyes. “You stay put. We’ll deal with you soon.” He pointed at Quinn, before adjusting his tie and trying to look as presentable as you could with a broken, bleeding nose.

 Ferris simply grunted and they both started for the entrance to the warehouse.

 Quinn tested her bonds, not only was she tied to a chair she was still handcuffed.  "Fucking awesome."  She grumbled.  She stood up almost falling forward on to her face and then slammed back onto the ground with the chair hoping it would break.  There was a groan and a leg broke off and with a startled yelp she tilted to the side and fell to the floor still tied to the chair.

 “Wow.” A pair of legs appeared out of the shadows near the back of the warehouse, stylish boots walking toward Quinn until they stopped a few feet away. “That was amazing; did they teach you that in super-cop school?” Dianna asked, hands on her hips as she grinned down at the fallen over woman.

“Theron?"  She whispered out.  "What are you doing here?"  She wasn't certain whether to be happy or pissed off.  Which was par for their, whatever they had.

“It’s called saving your ass.” The half-demon hefted the bolt cutters she’d brought with her. “Now hold still. Those two idiots won’t wait forever for their Chief to show up. They’ll figure out what’s going on soon.” She bent over Quinn, lining up the bolt cutters with the handcuffs and squeezed the handles together.

She might not be strong enough to break metal on her own, but she sure as hell was strong enough to cut through cuffs with a bolt cutter.

Quinn wasted no time wiggling out of the ropes once her hands were free.  She stood up with a groan.  Her ribs hurt a lot.  She looked at Dianna, and then said.  "Thanks.”

 “Aww, you do like me.” The other woman glanced toward the front of the warehouse. “Oops, time to go. This way.” She took off the way she’d come, hoping that Quinn was up for a bit of climbing.

 Quinn followed close behind.  "Do we have a plan?"  She paused as she saw Dianna jump and start to scale the wall to a landing that led to the roof.  "Fucking kidding me."  She heard shouting behind her and decided she loved climbing.

 “This is the plan.” Dianna turned, grunting in annoyance as she realized how far back Quinn was. The two agents were coming quickly now, running faster as they spotted Quinn’s empty chair.

 “Fuck.” The half-demon threw her bolt cutter at them, which at least came close enough to make them pause and then she reached as far down as she could. “Jump!”

 Ferris ducked the bolt cutters and drew his pistol, aiming it up at the two women. “Stop or I’ll shoot!” The large agent yelled. Green simply pulled his gun and started shooting.

 Quinn didn't let herself think, just launched herself at the hand.  Her vest would protect her chest and back, not any other part of her body.

 The other woman caught her, grimaced and hauled Quinn up the remaining way to the top. A bullet slammed off the metal uncomfortably close to her head as Ferris started shooting also. They were sitting ducks outlined there so Dianna didn’t stop, in the same motion as she’d pulled Quinn up, she pulled them both sideways.

 As they fell off the top of the warehouse, she really hoped the garbage bin was where she’d remembered it being.

 "Shit."  Quinn yelped out as she was overwhelmed with the sensation of falling and then landing. 

 "I hate you."  She croaked out as her eyeballs rattled around in her head.

 “Treasure that, it means you’re still alive.” Dianna groaned, pushing Quinn’s legs off her. The garbage smelled even worse now that they were in it and she didn’t want to know what she was covered in. “Come on, car's this way.” She half helped, half pulled the human woman up out of the trash.

She followed, her lungs straining for breath.  Quinn really didn't have that much more to give, she was damn tired.  Thankfully Dianna's car came into view; she yanked the passenger side door open and slid onto the seat.  "Holy shit."  She said for good measure, letting her head lean back against the seat and closed her eyes.

“Yeah, been one of those nights. Can I say I told you so now?” Dianna slammed the door shut and pulled out so fast she squealed rubber. Behind her she could swear she heard shooting, but no windows shattered as she turned the first corner she could find, so she wasn’t quite certain.


"Whatever."  Quinn mumbled, "Do you have a plan?"  She asked, opening an eye.

 “Didn’t you hear me back there? That was the plan. I got you out of their clutches, now we go back to the bar and figure out what to do.” Dianna swerved around a double-parked car, heading as quickly as she could toward the Gray.

 "Jesus, did you want a medal?  I said thanks and that's about all I have to give right now."  She stretched trying to easy the pain in her chest.  "Did you get that photo?"  That was important, their only clue.

 Silently, Dianna reached into her breast pocket and offered the unframed photograph over to Quinn without a word. It wasn’t a subject that the human would want to talk about so for once, the half-demon didn’t push about it. Instead she rested her fingers against Quinn’s side, just touching the bruised and aching ribs that were under the fabric.

 Her nostrils flared as she felt the pain and aching, which she drew away leaving behind only mild discomfort before drawing away her hand.

 Again she’d done something she shouldn’t have and her eyes narrowed on the road, driving faster.

 Quinn's breathing became easier and she sat easier in the seat.  "You have to stop doing that, Dianna."  She said eyes fixed on the photo she unfolded.  "I don't know if I'm willing to pay the price for that.”

 It was on the tip of Dianna’s tongue to say, too late, but she caught sight of the fire lighting the horizon before she could say it. “Wow, something’s burning in the Gray.”

 It lit up the entire horizon as they drove and with a sinking feeling, she realized that she was driving directly toward whatever was burning. Jaw tightening, she pressed down even further on the accelerator, the car zipped ahead, blowing through the speed limit as she raced down the streets.

Quinn had the same feeling.  "I'm sure it's just one of the abandoned warehouses."  She hoped.

“Sure.” Already pale fingers turned white as she clenched the steering wheel tighter. The only reason they didn’t hit anyone was that it was almost four AM in the morning and there wasn’t anyone out and around the Gray at that time, at least nothing human.

There also wasn’t any fire department; they didn’t come to the Gray. The usual school of thought was that the more that burned down, the better inside the demon zone.


Purple tinged flames were completely engulfing the front and roof of the bar as Dianna slammed them to a stop in front. Without a word she jumped out, leaving the car running and door open behind her as she ran toward the hellfire.

"Dianna!"  Quinn shouted and fumbled with the door and got out running after her.  "Don't, it's hellfire.  You're not a full demon."  Or a powerful enough one.  Only Dukes and Duchesses of Hell could walk through hellfire.  Quinn pushed her tired muscles trying to tackle the half-demon before she did something suicidal.

“No!” Dianna yelled, flinching back as a piece of wall tumbled into the blazing inferno, the buildings on either side of the bar completely untouched. She hesitated long enough for Quinn to reach her and grab her. “Sissy!” She screamed, struggling to get free of Quinn and go inside, the heat so hot it seared her clothes. “Lauren!”

Quinn braced her legs and her muscles went taut as she tried to pull Dianna back from the flames.  "Lauren's fine, she's smart enough to get out of a burning building and she has those magic powers or something."  She didn't know who Sissy was.  "I'm not letting you kill yourself.”

“Sissy.” Dianna sobbed, a hand outstretched to the fires as the top floor finally gave way and crumbled inwards. The entire top of the building disappeared into a rush of flames as it collapsed in on itself and the half-demon fell to her knees with a wail of despair.

"Shit."  Quinn said lacking anything better to say.  She watched the building collapse, nothing could be done the hellfire didn't spread anywhere else so this building had been its target. 

"Dianna!"  She shouted at the sobbing woman.  "Dianna."  She slapped the woman.  "Get it together.  We are sitting ducks out here.”

“So?” Dianna jerked her arm away from Quinn’s touch, standing. Wet trails coursed down her cheeks. “You just want to run away anyway, so run!” She pointed at the car. “Take it and go.” She turned back to face the only home she had, wrapping her arms around herself as she stared, watching it burn.

"Fine.  Stay here and die.  I have don't have time to waste on self-pity."  She turned going back to the car.   She jumped as something heavy landed on top of the car.  The demon snarled, two large fangs that would have made a sabertooth cat jealous gleamed in the firelight.  Her hand reached for her gun and she cursed remembering Green had taken it. 

She squared her shoulders, she wasn't going to survive all this to die to a demon with an overbite.  "Come on, I've beaten down scarier demons.”

“Challa!” Dianna’s head came up and pale eyes narrowed as she suddenly had a target for the rage and grief. The demon hound snarled, paws scrapping paint as it stepped down off the car hood.


With a wail of furry, the half-demon lunged past Quinn, tackling the surprised demon hound.

Quinn only raised an eyebrow and watched.  "So take that, evil overbite demon."  She went and checked Dianna's car, humming, she popped the trunk and every once in a while looked over at the two demons fighting.   She sorted through the stuff in the trunk picked up a crowbar and what could only be holy water. 

"Thank you father for I am about to sin, rage will be my vice."  She said before crossing herself and picking it up. She closed the trunk and approached the fighting couple trying really hard not to notice that Dianna's shirt had been ripped open. "I promise a lot more Hail Marys."  She said to no one.

The half-demon was holding her own against the demon hound by sheer rage. She ignored the wounds that his teeth had inflicted and any sense of self-preservation. Dianna was lost to anything but the need to kill Challa for what he’d done. There was no doubt in her mind that the demon hound had something to do with burning down her home.

And Sissy… The thought wouldn’t go away and Dianna kicked the demon hound between his legs with all her fury, aiming for the most sensitive bits she could. His yelp of pain was a soothing balm to her heart and she did it again.

"Dianna!"  Quinn shouted.  "Don't kill it yet.  We need to question it, see who sent it."  She sighed, tempted to bash the woman's head with the crowbar.  "Dianna! Hold it down."  After that kick to the nuts, she really didn't see the demon going anywhere fast.  "Could you just fucking hold it down!”

A third swift kick to the nuts that lifted Challa up off the ground, Dianna grabbed his head, twisting it around until it was pinned up against her. A little more of a twist and she’d break the thing’s neck. “Fine.” Dianna snarled, eyes flashing at Quinn. “Talk fast.”

Quinn rested the crowbar on her shoulder and looked at the demon.  "It's an easy question.  Who sent you?"

Challa snarled and tried to spit at her.

Quinn watched the glob fall short.  "You're looking kind of parched let’s fix that."  The crowbar lifted off her shoulder and was shoved between his teeth.  She wrenched his jaws open a crack and poured a little holy water down its throat and then stepped back.

"Let's try that again.  Who sent you?”

The hound screamed where the holy water touched, his flesh smoking as it dissolved the demon’s flesh. “She’s going to feast on your bones!” He thrashed in Dianna’s grip but she hung on grimly until the thrashing stopped and the demon hound lay panting, glaring at Quinn.

"Who is she and what the hell does she want with us?"  She held up the holy water shaking it.  "At least two cups in there, you're looking thirsty again.”

He tried to spit at her again but Dianna twisted his jaw until the bone creaked under the pressure. “Alvera!” He growled, when Quinn moved closer with the holy water. “Alvera is my mistress and she will enjoy flaying you alive.”

"I'm sure she would."  Quinn said in a deathly quiet voice.  "Tell her I can't wait to send her to hell again, when you grow back your tongue."  She shoved the whole bottle into its mouth wedging it in its teeth letting it flood down his throat, killing him for all she cared.

“Say hi for me, too.” Dianna growled, tightening her arms until the bottle shattered in Challa’s mouth. The demon hound thrashed at that, bloody foam erupting from its mouth as the holy water ate away at him from the inside in. Covered now in trash, demon blood and ash from her home, Dianna pushed him away standing next to Quinn as she watched the hound convulse and die.

They stood there for a while and then Quinn turned going to the car.  "Button your shirt, it’s distracting.”

“Only shirt I own now.” Dianna said sadly, tugging at it to try to cover at least her bra. Numbly she followed along behind Quinn; the bar was little more than glowing embers and still burning bricks from the outer walls.

"Right."  Quinn said tossing the crowbar into the back seat and then slid behind the driver's seat, adjusting the seat.  "Where to now?”

Dianna slumped into the passenger side seat, not even putting up a fuss about Quinn driving her car. "I don't know." She stared blankly out the windshield, watching the demon fire burn.

"Amazing, you not having an answer." She started driving, randomly picking a direction in case more of those demons were around.

Dianna made a rude gesture, a bit of the numbness wearing off.

Quinn reached into a pocket pulling out her cheap disposable cell phone it had about 48 hours of talk time paid for. She frowned and then dialed a number.

A voice answered and she frowned. "I need a favor." She hated even asking.

The half-breed didn't even bother to pretend she wasn't listening as they drove.


"Yes, it's your sister, I'm sure you've talked to dad . . . yeah, don't fucking gloat about it." Her voice developed more of an accent as she talked to the heavily accented voice on the other end.

"No, this does not mean I owe you, it means we're even. Yes, it does too." She swerved to avoid some sort of skeletal dog. "Cain, shut up! I need a safe house in the city, are you going to help me or not?"

She looked over at Dianna. "Can you remember an address?"

"An address to what?" The other woman blinked.

"If I tell you an address, can you remember it? Or is there a pen and paper?"

"I can remember an address." Pale eyes rolled.

"Shut up Cain." She growled at her brother. "Alright we're ready. Huh uh . . . 1912 Fennel Street, apartment A. Don't gloat, that's unbecoming of someone who is a demon's buttboy." An angry curse came through the phone. "Yeah, love you too, Cain." She hug the cell up and set it between the seats.

"Didn't know you had a brother." Dianna looked back out the window, staring at the darkness as they drove. It would be daylight in another few hours.

"I don't. I have a thing that looks like my brother." Just another person in her life who loved demons more than her.

She rubbed her head and tried to remember where Fennel Street was.

"I can't wait to meet him." The half-breed closed her eyes. "Challa said the name Alvera." She said quietly.

"Yeah, I heard. Guess it’s hard to keep a good demon down these days." She took a right and started moving away from the Gray.

"You sent her back to hell. I'm guessing she's pissed at you. Not sure what she has against Lauren though, and my bar." Her jaw clenched and she pushed away an image of her sister's portrait.

"Probably nothing other than you're with Lauren and I." They drove through downtown and then into quiet neighborhoods. was a simple two-story brick house that had been converted into four small one-bedroom apartments.

She pulled over and slowly got out, pausing to fish out the crowbar.


He was standing next to the stairs that led to the upper two apartments, a lit cigarette between his teeth glowing red. He watched them approach, his eyes lingering on Dianna's chest where tasty glimpses of flesh were revealed. "Your taste is improving little sister, she's way better looking than Dan, Doug, or whatever the weasel's name was. Bet she's a screamer too." He wiggled his eyebrows.

"Wouldn't you like to know?" Dianna purred, working for a leer at Quinn, but her heart really wasn't in it.

He was taller than his sister with short red hair and a milky white complexion, they could be nothing other than related; except for his glowing red eyes.

"Dianna, this thing used to be my brother. Cain, this is Dianna, and I wouldn't know if she screams or does anything else."

"She lies." Dianna said slowly, watching the brother with a faint frown.

Cain sighed and tossed the cigarette on the ground. "Pity and a waste. Still you're not dead yet, maybe you'll learn to loosen up. But word on the street is not for long, so take advantage." He tossed the keys. "There's food, clothes, and weapons. Don't ask me anything and don't tell me anything. I maybe ridden but part of me still loves you. I have to leave, my master let me do this one favor and then he wants me gone so I don't get caught in the crossfire."

She threw the keys at him and then the cell phone.

"I'll dispose of these. Call dad when it's done so I know you're okay."

"Could say the same of you. You haven't talked to me since I sold my soul and it takes two people to have a conversation." He said walking past them.

Understanding dawned in Dianna's eyes and she cast a sharp look over at Quinn.

Quinn didn't look at him just swallowed and fumbled with the keys. She looked around and found A was the ground apartment.

"Nice to meet you, Cain." Dianna called after him, before she turned and followed Quinn. That was why the good detective didn't say she had a brother; he'd sold his soul to a demon lord.

He winked at her and opened the car door.

"He seems nice." Dianna said cautiously, watching Quinn fumble with the keys.


Quinn opened the front door and made her way inside, leaving it open. She poked around until she found the whiskey and then poured a stiff drink. "Before you say anything, I stopped talking to him before he sold his soul. "What a fucking Irish stereotype, my family. My dad the drunken priest, me the cop, and my brother the Irish mobster, who then sold his soul."

"Why'd he sell his soul?" Dianna moved through the darkness, trailing her fingers across objects as she did.

"I don't know; I've never asked. We don't exactly send each other Christmas cards." She took large swallow and closed her eyes. "What a fucking mess?"

"Yeah." Dianna stopped in front of the living-room window, staring outside. "I hope Lauren's alive."

"She is, your friend with the overbite wouldn't have been hanging around. He was looking for her. We're just side dishes."

"We'll need to find her then." Dianna closed her eyes, leaning her forehead against the cool window.

She lifted her drink and chugged the rest of it and then set the empty glass in the sink. "I'm going to shower and then see what he left us. You should shower too, you stink." She said looking for a bathroom. Her fingers were already undoing the buttons of her shirt, revealing the bulletproof vest underneath.

She frowned at the single bedroom, but she could live with the couch.

Dianna snorted. "You can talk." Pale eyes opened again, turning so that she could watch Quinn leave. "We need to go talk to my father, I think." She called, for no other reason than to hear herself talk.

At least Cain'd given her something furnished. "I assume he's not the human part of your DNA."

She said flicking on the light to the bathroom.

"Good guess." Dianna wrinkled her nose as she suddenly realized what disgusting clothes she was wearing.

She let the shirt drop and then started with the straps to the vest. "I'm not going to like meeting him, am I?"

"No." Dianna sighed, undoing her clothes so that she could dump them in the nearest trash can.

With a groan, the vest came off and she stood there looking at the two bullets embedded in it and shuddered. She swallowed, feeling very human, very mortal and very fucking lucky.

"He's an incubus." Dianna opened the trash can and let her clothes drop in, disgusted that they made a wet slopping sound as they did.

Quinn looked up at the sound. "You're naked."

"So are you." Dianna laughed.

It was an obvious statement. "No, I still have pants on." She shook her head. "So that makes you what, a succubus? Ha, I knew you had some sort of sex demon in your genealogy."

"It makes me Dianna." The redhead snapped. Damnit she was all over the map with her emotions, not good.

"Sorry." She set the vest down and moved inside the bathroom and took off her sports bra and winced at the bruising on her chest, right over her heart, the impact had short-circuited her no wonder she'd had a problem standing and breathing.

"Are you?" Dianna was at the door, watching her with an inscrutable look on her face.

"Sometimes. Because I do realize I can be a callous bitch, and I push you hard and I push your buttons to get the results I need when I pull you to help on a case."

"Without any thanks, I might remind you." Since she wasn't getting threatened to go away, Dianna stayed right where she was. The view was very nice.

Quinn let her fingers go to the buttons of her pants aware that Dianna was there. "I'm also very aware of how attractive you are, took me 21 tries to stop looking at your chest, you'll be happy to know you're the first person I've thought of in a sexual manner since I killed my husband."

"I'm honored." Dianna smiled a little, striking one of her more alluring poses in the doorway. Her eyes tracked the fingers that were so nimbly undoing those pants.

"You want to know why I haven't given in, to your flirting and all the hormones you send my way?"

"Those aren't hormones, but sure, why?"

"Because I'm damn tired of being second best, and that's all I would be to you. Because you'd be looking for somebody new the moment we were done. I've seen the women, never the same one twice."

"But for that once, you'd be my entire world." Dianna promised.

The pants dropped to the floor and she turned, slid open the shower, turning on the water. "Not good enough, Theron."

She waited a moment and then got into the shower.

"Right." Dianna closed her eyes. Right, this was what she wanted, Quinn to go away. Then why did she suddenly feel so alone? "Enjoy the shower." She reached in, closing the bathroom door on temptation.

"I'll just be a minute." Quinn said her voice deflated. Part of her had hoped, but realized it was silly, especially now. Dianna was part sex demon she a mere mortal couldn't be enough. "Find me some sweats or something. Cain said he brought clothes."

She put her head under the spray rinsing out god only knew what out of her hair.


Blue was singing again as the sun rose, there was a small half window on one wall, letting in just slivers of gray light from outside. As always in the Gray, the sky was overcast here.

"Ring around the rosey," Her high clear voice sang as she moved around, lighting another small fire for the day "A pocketful of posies." She poured out some water. "Ashes, ashes . . ." The coal was lit again. "We all fall down!"

She spun on tiptoes at that, like a ballerina, up on her tiptoes, giggling.

Lauren cracked open a gummed over eye. Looking at the crazy woman. "You know that song is about the Black Plague?" She said with a raspy voice.

Blue flung herself down next to Lauren, rags fluttering as she did a split and then looked up with a smile. "Yes. I'm making tea."

"My you're flexible." It was out of Lauren's mouth before she could stop it her common sense apparently not awake yet. She blushed. "I liked the tea." She said as a follow-up and coughed.

"I like dancing." Blue rose up, flitting her way across to the boiler she used as a stove. "The tea is good for you." She looked up through her hair at Lauren. "Are you sad?"

Lauren blinked. "No, worried maybe, but I don't think I'm sad."

"You cried when you were sleeping." Blue looked away, fiddling with the pots.

"Oh." Lauren said sitting up. "I keep losing my family and I seem to be helpless to stop it."

The shaggy head nodded. "I'm sorry. Did you love them?"

Lauren just looked at her. "They were my family." She said as if the answer should be obvious.

"So you did?" The homeless woman looked at her confused.

"Yes, I loved them."

"I'm sorry." Blue added the herbs into the pot, watching the pot with fascination.

"Yeah, me too." She was silent for a moment. "Sometimes, I'm not certain they loved me." It was a quiet statement.

"Families are strange." Blue sighed, pulling out her two chipped teacups. "Hush little baby, don't say a word, Mama's gonna buy you a mockin'bird." She whispered, carrying the teacup over and offering it to Lauren.

Lauren took the tea and blew on it to cool it. She was getting used to the odd way Blue communicated.

Blue eyes peered at Lauren curiously over the rim of the cup as Blue sipped her own tea. She looked like she wanted to say something but just didn't know how.

Lauren sipped her tea and then looked at Blue. "Good as last time."

"Mm." The other woman fidgeted, picking at her rags. "You don't belong here."

Lauren raised an eyebrow at that. "Belong where?"

"Here." Blue looked into her cup. "Or there."

"Blue, that made no sense. I don't belong here with you? Or here in the city?"


"Here, or in the city." Blue frowned, rubbing at her head. "Words hurt. I'm sorry I try." She swallowed. "You don't belong there or here in the Gray." She beamed at Lauren, having made a complete sentence.

Lauren rubbed the side of her head feeling a headache coming on. "My sister did something to me, I don't really belong anywhere, at least that's what it feels like. Dianna's been nice, she's helped me feel like I had a place to belong." Her face fell. "And I burned down her bar."

"No! Oh, no." Blue grabbed Lauren's free hand. "You didn't. No, the bad doggies did, they made the blue fire not you."

Lauren gently squeezed Blue's hand. "How come you're here? You're not a demon, I'd know."

"How?" She kept a hold of Lauren's hand, staring at it. "I like your fingers."

"Uh, thanks. I get an ache in the back of my skull when I'm around demons, full demons, so you could be a half-demon." Lauren shrugged. "Which is followed by a homicidal urge to kill them."

Blue eyes widened. "No killing here." The woman looked alarmed.

"No, sorry, no headache or killing." Lauren said quickly.

"Oh." Blue looked relieved. "Bad things happen, evil things, and then the world's never the same."

"Yep." Lauren agreed sipping her tea, but she didn't remove her hand.

"And then you end up here." Blue gave her a watery smile. Her other hand moved to trace Lauren's fingers. "Strength."

Lauren nodded not sure what to say to that. It was a little odd to have the woman play with her fingers like that, but it was also nice, and things just kept getting weirder in her life.

"I don't have any other food." Blue said suddenly. "But we could go to the mission."

"The mission? Is that a good idea?"

"Melva's nice. No bad demons." Blue smiled hopefully.

"Okay, we'll go get some food, then I should look for Quinn and Dianna." Problem was she had no idea how to do that.


"Yeah! A picnic, we'll have a picnic." Blue leapt up, tugging on Lauren's hand. "And maybe a shower. Hot water." She made a moaning sound.

Lauren just stared at the woman, that sound had made goosebumps stand out on her skin and her hands shook slightly as bad thoughts filled her head. "Both sound lovely." She said to say something then gulped the tea.

"Very." Blue grinned at her. "Melva will have food." She promised.

Lauren nodded and got up, setting the teacup down and grabbed her sister's black bag.

The crumbling church was only a few blocks away. The Gray didn't look so bad during the daytime, most of the shadows were just shadows now and the homeless moving toward the church were mostly human. With a few exceptions, of course. There was a small line forming in front of the church doors, where a familiar looking healer welcomed people inside.

"Melva!" Blue let go of Lauren's hand for the first time, flinging herself at the hag and hugging her.

"Child!" The black woman hugged her back, dark eyes flicking toward Lauren with interest.

"I brought a friend, it's okay right?"

"A friend?" Melva raised an eyebrow at Lauren.

Lauren gave a weak wave. The other night had gone so well.

"Are you a friend?" Melva asked, as Blue turned toward Lauren and smiled at her.

"I'm trying. I don't have much experience. Plus she saved my life last night. I kind of owe her my kindness if not more."

The hag's eyes narrowed. "Make certain you remember that word, kindness."

Blue frowned, looking from one to the other, something was going on here she didn't understand.

Lauren looked away. "I will, don't worry."

"Inside." The dark-skinned woman said, letting her pass.

Blue smiled, bright and happy as she took Lauren's hand again. "She likes you."

"I doubt that." Lauren mumbled letting the crazy woman drag her inside. It was much more inviting during the daytime.

Tables had been set up and a surprisingly large number of homeless had gathered among them to eat the stew that Melva was serving them that day. Blue pulled Lauren toward an empty table on the far side; she waved to a few others that she knew as she went.

"Stew, lucky day!" Blue got them both a bowl from the old man volunteering at the stew pot today.

Lauren wasn't going to complain, having once stolen food from the University cafeteria.

"Here, it's good. I like it better than the soup." Blue made a face and a gagging sound, happily sitting next to her new friend and starting to eat quickly.

Lauren ate more slowly than Blue but didn't finish the whole bowl. She pushed the half-full bowl to Blue. "Go on, its okay."

"Really?" Blue licked her lips. "But you need food."

"I'm full, go on so it doesn't get wasted."

"If you're full, perhaps you could help me get more stew." Melva said, walking toward them on shaky legs.

"Uh, certainly." Lauren quickly got up and followed the woman.

The old woman led the way to the back of the church and into what were obviously her living quarters in the old priest's rectory. A makeshift kitchen had been set up there and a large pot of stew was bubbling away. Melva whirled on Lauren the second they were hidden from sight.

"What game are you playing at girl? Is this some sick twisted joke of that half-demon bitch?"

"Demons came and burned the bar down last night. Dianna and Quinn were gone, she left me in charge. Great job I did." She said quietly feeling sorry for herself.

"So it's just chance that you found her?" Melva pointed back toward Blue, eyes furious. "How dare you drag her into this, she is not a pawn for your amusement!"

"Blue, she saved me. Helped me find a place to hide. I didn't drag her into anything, she was just there."

"Blue?" Melva paused. "Did she tell you that was her name?"


"No. I couldn't call her crazy girl that sings nursery rhymes so I started calling her Blue, because of her eyes. She didn't seem to mind."

The healer snorted and turned to her pots. "She is not a toy for Dianna to use and then toss aside. I'll hold you responsible if that happens and . . ." a crooked finger pointed at Lauren. "I can make your life worse than it is now."

Lauren doubted that. Her life was pretty bad. "I promise to keep Dianna away from her." The problem was probably keeping her away. She wasn't really that safe especially when the dark demon ideas took root in her head.

"Violet. Her name was Violet." Melva measured out more stock, adding the liquid to the pot to thin up the stew. There'd been more people than usual today.

"I'm sorry. I'll use her name from now on." Lauren said hastily.

"Good." The old woman turned to stare at Lauren speculatively. "Perhaps you'll be good for her. Perhaps not. Either way I'm holding you responsible."

Lauren nodded. She wasn't certain if she spoke if she wouldn't end up pissing off the crazy healer woman.

"Spit it out girl, you have questions written all over your face."

"What happened to her?"

The old woman sighed. "Not an easy question." She muttered, staring down at the stew pot. "She was my apprentice, she had such potential. She'd been studying as a Ballerina, can you imagine?" Melva cackled at that. "But she's a healer, through and through. Can't change that." Keen eyes flicked over at Lauren. "Can't change what you are, can you?"

Lauren didn't like the sound of that, because it implied she'd always had demonic urges. "I think some things can change who you are."

"Can reveal them you mean." Melva gave a yellow-stained smile. "No matter." She waved away whatever Lauren was about to say. "Healers are rare things; they tend to get used up by people who want them to do things for them. Violet tried to heal someone who'd died; you can't bring back the dead. It broke her."

"Oh." That was sad.

Lauren didn't say anything for a while just watched the woman make stew.

"I thought she'd die herself." Melva said after a few minutes, shaking her head. "Child's stronger than she looks. Much like you I think."

Lauren nodded. "I need to find Dianna and Quinn."

"I heard about her bar burning. Demons burned it you say?"

"Yep, the demon hounds."

"You certain it wasn't a bimbo that half-demon slept with trying to get back at her?" Melva gave a nasty smile.

"Dianna wasn't there, just me."

"So they're looking for you?" The hag snorted. "If I hear anything about the half-breed, I might send you a message."

"Thanks." Lauren doubted she'd be hearing from the woman.

"Take a pot of stew out with you. They'll need more food on the line by now." Melva waved her away.

Lauren pulled a face but did as she was asked.

"Melva likes you, she never asks people to help her with the stew that she doesn't know." Violet beamed up at Lauren as the darker woman came back to the table. "You must have really impressed her."

Lauren gave a weak smile. "Something like that." She sat back down next to the young woman. "Um, would you prefer if I called you Violet?"

"Violet?" Those blue eyes clouded over a little. "Who's that?"

"Could be you. Or would you prefer that I call you Blue?"

"No, Violet . . ." The blond shook her head, standing up suddenly. "Old Mother Hubbard, went to the cupboard to fetch her poor dog a bone." She closed her eyes pressing her hands against the side of her head.

Lauren got up quickly putting a hand on Vio . . . Blue's arm. "Blue, it's okay." She looked around expecting the crazy healer woman to come and blast her.

Melva was nowhere to be seen, although there were curious looks from a few of the other homeless. Blue bit her lip, nodding as she suddenly stood up. "We should go, others need food too. Melva doesn't have a lot."


"Okay." Lauren would have probably agreed to anything at the moment. "You said something about a shower?" She asked hopefully.

"Oh! Water, such hot water, it's so nice!" Blue completely forgot the worry from the moment before and danced around Lauren, twirling as she sang out. "Y M C A! It's fun to stay at the YMCA!"

Lauren winced.


They kissed, hard and urgent, hands mapping the plains of smooth warm flesh.  Quinn pulled back slightly; their breaths were coming fast and they were so close for a moment they were breathing each other's breaths.  She pushed until Dianna was on her back, all that skin laid out before her like the best meal at the most expensive restaurant in town.  She knew she couldn't afford the bill but she was helpless to dive in anyway. 

Strong hands urged her up and then she was opening her sex and lowering it onto Dianna's eager mouth the moment the woman's hot tongue touched her most intimate of places Quinn nearly gave a sob as the sensation overwhelmed her.  It didn't take long for an orgasm to wash over her, curl her toes. 

She didn't stop, didn't allow them to rest, it had been so long, and she had no idea when she'd get this chance again.  Aggressively she pushed and prodded the woman to her hands and knees, surprised that Dianna would allow her to have this much control, surprised she could take it.  The woman was breathtaking, as she pretended submission; Quinn had to doubt Dianna had let anyone else have her like this.  It was heady.  She ran her hands over the muscles of Dianna's back, over her sides, and roughly fondled her ass. 

The detective was positive she'd never been this wet.

Quinn woke with a gasp, her hand inside the sweat bottoms she was wearing.  It was tempting to move her fingers just a bit and let loose the orgasm that waited, straining to leave.  Instead, she ripped her hands out of her pants and got up with a curse. 

She had taken the couch despite Dianna's feeble attempts to get them to share the bed, and now she was happy she'd been strong about it.  She was not certain if she could have handled the humiliation of getting herself off in her sleep next to the half-demon.  She walked over to the window were healthy sunlight streamed in. 

It was well past noon.

She stalked around the room, getting her emotions under control and then went into the small kitchen to start coffee.

Eyes still half closed, Dianna staggered out of the small bedroom, bounced off a wall she wasn't used to being there, and more or less made her way to the kitchen counter. "You're killing me." The half-demon growled, wearing only the skimpy panties and shift she'd gone to bed in. "You're doing it on purpose now!" She growled, pointing at Quinn.

"Shut the fuck up." Quinn snarled back, banging on the coffeepot, trying to make it brew faster.

She refused to look at Dianna, horrified that the woman had felt her dream. Her face was bright red.

"Damnit Quinn, it's been days since I've had sex and then you go having dreams like that! Could you at least have let me cum!" Dianna didn't mean to sound as if she was begging, but that was how it came out.

"I don't know what you're talking about." She muttered.

"Sure, whatever." Dianna snorted, well aware that her nipples were showing. "Anything else you want to delude yourself about?"

Quinn turned face angry. "I haven’t had sex since before my son was born, so sorry if I’m less than sympathetic to your plight."

"Since . . .." Dianna blinked, waking up, the smell of coffee was helping a lot. "You haven't had sex in years?" The very idea of that was horrific to the half-demon. "Really? Years? Why?"

Quinn made a face and hurled the empty coffee cup at Dianna and it smashed next to her head.

"Fuck!" Dianna flinched away, pieces of ceramic bouncing off her. "What the hell is wrong with you?" She yelled.

"You, and just you." Quinn sputtered, part of her horrified at losing it.

"Me what?" Dianna moved toward her, poking her with a finger. "You think you're the only one who's ever lost anything? You wear this injured nobility around you like a goddamn cloak all the time." It was all pouring out now, and Dianna didn't care if it made sense. "That was my entire life that just burned to the ground last night! The only family I’ve ever had is gone and you throw things at me for asking a fucking question!"

"What the hell have you lost? A bar, a place where you meet cute, young, vapid women and fuck them. Some family. That was private. My dream and you invaded it. I fucking told you how I felt and you just . . ." She grabbed the finger poking her and shoved Dianna back with a frustrated growl.


"Shows what you know." Dianna snarled, shoving Quinn with both hands, not quite hard enough to put the woman through a wall but certainly hard enough to push her back against the kitchen cabinets. "My sister lived in there, her ghost anyway. That was all I had left of her! The only person who's ever loved me just for me and she's gone now!"

Quinn let out an uff as her back met the cabinets. She heard the words and breathed heavily through her nose for a moment, processing them. Ghosts were rare, it was possible Dianna was making it up, but she doubted it, the pain was real. "I'm sorry. Maybe, maybe she's not gone."

"You saw the bar." Dianna's shoulders sagged and she looked defeated for the first time. "Hellfire burned everything." The portrait wouldn't have survived that.

"Yes, I saw the bar. But what the hell do we know about ghosts; if something remained then she does too."

It was the best she could do, she'd been wrong, self-absorbed in her own pain, although her dreams should still be her own, regardless.

Dianna nodded, taking a breath and standing a bit straighter. "I'm sorry about the dreams." She should probably explain that, but she didn't want to.

"Whatever." Quinn said pushing the half-demon back so she could move. "Just stay out of my head. You can't have me if I can't have you. I've made that clear. All or nothing." She bit out, getting out another cup.

"I'll try." And would fail, Dianna thought darkly. "No promises."

"Of course not, you're still a demon; at least parts of you are." She was made aware of the hot dampness, parts of her still aroused from that dream, and Dianna being here half-naked wasn't helping.

"Which is the real problem." Pale eyes narrowed at the Irish woman. "I'm just not good enough for you, too neutral."

"We're done talking about this." Quinn warned. She'd laid herself practically bare last night to Dianna and been rejected; she didn't want to keep bringing it up.

The half-demon refused to move away. "Tell me Maggie, does anyone measure up to your standards? Do you reject everyone because they just don't measure up?" The hell they were done talking about it just because Quinn said so.

Quinn's hands shook. "Don't, Dianna. I told you last night what I wanted and you can't be that person, so don't put this on me." It was too close to an argument her and her husband had shortly after Connor's birth and everything started going to shit in their marriage.

Something in her voice, or the emotions, made Dianna hesitate and hold back her next words. The two of them stared at each other, at an impasse until the fake redhead shook herself out of it. "I'm going to get dressed." Damn Quinn for making her want this.

"Take a shower. Get it out of your system. I'll go for a walk." Quinn said getting up.

"And get shot or kidnapped?" The other woman's nostrils flared. "No going anywhere. I'll . . . deal with it."

"No one's going to do anything to me. Not in this neighborhood. This quiet subdivision belongs to the demon Cain sold his soul to. Fucking get it out of your system." Because another dream like that, and Quinn might crack.

Dianna laughed, moving away and back toward the bedroom. "Funny thing is Quinn, that wasn't my dream." She slammed the door after her.

"Fuck." She said dropping her head into her hands. She'd been afraid of that.


Part 7

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