Gray Line Part 2 - The Fallen
Big thanks to our beta reader Fia ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) for going through this for us.
This would be part 2 in a trilogy and we hope you enjoy it and stick around for the last part which will be coming soon baring real life. Please send feedback to Adarkbow@yahoo.com and/or Zeeamy@gmail.com
New York City in November was a cold place to be.
The first of the winter snows had fallen the night before and Violet could see little specks of it still hiding from the sun on the balconies below. In the window her reflection looked back sadly as the sun slowly rose over the buildings. None of that snow would survive the day, she was sure, it would all disappear as if it had never been.
Sometimes Violet thought she would disappear like that.
“Violet? Violet! Are you listening to me?”
Sighing, Violet turned towards the woman behind her. “Yes Mother.”
“No, you were off in your own little world again. Really dear you must snap out of it, it's been months since your…” For the first time that night the elegant older woman looked flustered. “Incident.”
That's how they referred to it, as an incident. Violet had an incident, which was the reason she'd run away. Except Violet couldn't remember any of it, which the psychiatrist said meant she'd had a ‘psychotic break'.
Violet thought that meant he didn't know what had happened.
“I am paying attention Mother. You said you and father would be away for Thanksgiving.”
“Yes, it's unavoidable.” Barbara van Dorph wrapped a black sable fur coat around her shoulders. “You're father has to be in Europe and I simply must attend the Met fund raiser. You'll be fine here.”
“Yes Mother.” Violet looked down at her fingers, wondering if she would simply fade away, or if she would melt like the snow.
“Don't forget you have an appointment with Dr. Fritz this afternoon. Jerome will come back to pick you up, then he'll bring you to the dance hall. You have that audition, remember?”
“Yes Mother.” How could Violet forget? It was all her parents talked about, as if it was a forgone conclusion that she would get the lead roll.
“Good. Kiss dear.”
Violet presented her cheek on command, receiving a brief air kiss before her mother was gone in a whirlwind of fur and commands as she gathered her personal assistant and headed for the car. Left alone, the massive penthouse apartment suddenly seemed desolate and empty. Violet shivered, wrapping her arms around herself as she turned to finish watching the sun rise.
The sad reflection in the window pane was a stranger to Violet.
Lauren wished, with everything she was, that someone would come and save her. In reality she knew that was impossible – knew that no one could come and break her out. Because no one knew where she was.
Her arms were full of needle marks where they had taken blood or injected her with stuff. She was skinny, tired and dirty. It was loud in the cell block, most of the other captives howled madly and threw themselves at the bars.
It scared her.
“So what you're saying Doctor is that Susan Esponiza did something amazing and that you can't duplicate it no matter how hard you try?”
The Doctor, a thin balding man, blinked nervously. “Sort of, we are trying our best to figure out what Susan did, but...”
“But you can't.”
The Doctor sighed. “At this time that is correct. She seems to have some sort of ability to mimic any demon blood we inject her with and then for a short time become that demon. The control she has over her demon-self is amazing, something we haven't seen with the other test subjects, except for the LoupGarou, which seems to be a universally bad idea.” He shivered, remembering Lauren's change, and then watching her rip apart an assistant with claws and fangs.
Another man from the right hand side of the conference table interjected. “So Susan's theory of using prison inmates as test subjects seems to be holding true.” The man had green eyes and black hair that was cut with military precision. “The violent tendencies that got them thrown into the prison system just feeds the darker nature of the demons we try to turn them into.”
“What would you have us do Mark? Just randomly kidnap people on the street?”
Mark frowned. “Didn't we just do that to Lauren? She didn't ask for this instead she's just a cog that slipped into our machine.”
“What's done is done we just can't let her loose so she can kill someone.”
Mark stared around the table in disgust. “Well she hasn't killed anyone but demons. I guess I'm the only one that hears her crying on the footage tape from her cell.”
A few people looked away guiltily.
“We cannot keep her,” he insisted.
“Mark, we have to keep her. Besides she's an orphan who's going to miss her? No one.”
Mark looked down at the table under which his hands clenching in anger. There was nothing he could do. He was horrified at what Susan had done to her own sister, and it had hit him hard to realize that he had never really known the woman he was dating. Part of him was sure Susan wouldn't have wanted any of what had happened to her sister, and he was doing all he could to help her, but he wasn't getting anywhere. Lauren had broken the very problem that had been plaguing their project.
Quinn didn't feel cold any more – she really didn't feel anything. It disturbed her. Only at night did she feel things, when she slept; she dreamed of Dianna. The dreams sparked pleasure, and though upon waking there was pain, it drifted away with consciousness.
She pulled out the knife she had wedged into the half-breed moments earlier and watched him slip down the wall onto the ground of the alley and bleed out. Within moments he was just another piece of meat on the ground.
Alvera would be pleased, mission accomplished.
Quinn didn't know why the man had needed to die she didn't ask, didn't care.
She put the knife into a plastic bag and slipped it into the pocket of her coat as proof the job was done.
She waited for the final rasping breath before walking from the alley. This close to the Gray his body would be gone by nightfall. She supposed the half-breed had died so that Alvera could make some sort of in-road into the power structure here in New York.
Quinn didn't honestly know. All she knew was that they had come here and she had been sent out like a dog to kill. Her police training worked well for her Alvera had tried only once to send Quinn to seduce someone. It had gone poorly and it hadn't been asked of her again.
She hopped briefly on a bus and got off at the subway station. Heading down the escalators she spotted a young blond haired woman being hassled by three young men.
“None of your business Quinn,” she told herself. But Quinn couldn't leave it alone, the woman reminded her of someone.
“You should go back to the insane asylum,” the taller of a group of boys teased, shoving the blond back up against a wall. Streams of people passed by, all ignoring the little drama.
“Crazy Violet. You're still fucking insane, bet they decided they couldn't cure you,” another boy laughed, shoving Violet's other shoulder and pinning her against the dirty wall.
A third boy simply smiled, eyes flicking up and down Violet's body.
“I'm not crazy.” Violet whispered. She didn't understand why they wouldn't they leave her alone. She just wanted to be left alone.
“Bet we know how to heal you.” The third boy said finally, pressing up against Violet, hands groping. “Still a virgin little Vi?” he whispered in her ear.
Quinn found herself standing behind the boys. “Take a hike Romeo.” She lifted up her sunglasses staring at them with red eyes. “Idle hands are the devils playground, yours are really fucking idle.”
“What the fuck lady, go mind your own business!” The third boy, who was groping Violet, snarled.
“Hey dude, look at her eyes man!” One of his friends grabbed him, dragging him away from the shivering Violet.
“We'll see you again little Vi!” the boy yelled, whooping as they took off down the tunnel for the subway.
Violet wrapped her arms around herself, shivering as they ran away.
Quinn frowned and stared at the woman she had heard called Violet. She knew she should feel something, bad maybe. “Come on lets get you home.”
“I...” Violet blinked at Quinn. “Thank you.” She shook her head. “I can find my own way.”
The sunglasses fell back over Quinn's eyes. “Let me walk with you a little ways, make sure they don't come back.”
Violet knew shouldn't accept help from a demon-touched, but she nodded and moved along with her, instinctively trusting her. “Do I know you?” she asked finally as they moved towards the subway trains. “I'm not good with names, maybe we met before?”
Quinn shrugged. “Its possible, you look familiar.” Quin had met a lot of people as a cop. Helped a lot of people. She thought maybe it was just out of engrained habit that she had helped, but the young woman did look familiar to her. Quinn looked at Violet who was tall and willowy, and noticed a duffle bag. “You coming from the gym?”
“Ballet try-out.” Violet pulled the bag tighter against her side. “I got a part,” she said suddenly, surprising herself by offering that information. “Not the lead, but there's a lot of dancing.”
“Congrats.” Quinn said, staying calm and relaxed as a police officer passed them. “Hard work ballet, brutal on the feet and knees.”
“They bleed. My toes that is. I like it though, it feels good to twirl. Like nothing else matters.” Violet watched the police men go, feeling a strange disconnection that was becoming more and more common. “None of this feels real,” she whispered, her eyes far away as the train emerged from tunnel and headed towards their platform.
Quinn looked over at Violet “What doesn't? Those boys harassing you?” Quinn had a hard time herself believing kids would act like that but then she'd seen a lot of shit, she knew she shouldn't be surprised.
“None of this. It's wrong, like it shouldn't be, or a bad dream I can't seem to wake up from.” Violet gave a little sad smile. “It's nothing. I'm sorry, Mother said not to bother people with strange words.”
“Why? It's a strange world. Words make it bearable, it stops the silence and for a moment no one feels alone.” Quinn shut her mouth. She wondered if that is what Violet meant, feeling isolated. Alvera had done a good job of that. Quinn interacted with no one really, except for the demoness herself.
“Are you...” Violet stuttered, not sure how to ask. “Are you all right?” She took another good look at the red haired woman with shades and watched as hurt flickered across her face. It was something Violet could almost feel.
Quinn gave a smile. “When you sell your soul to a demon, nothing is ever alright.” The train now stood before them and Quinn followed Violet onto it, her eyes going to the map. It was four stops before her exit.
Violet watched Quinn closer as the doors to the train slid shut and they jerked into motion, wheels squealing and sparking in the dark tunnel. “I think I've met you before.” In fact Violet was sure of it, but she couldn't remember where. She didn't know why couldn't she remember and wondered if it was to do with her losing her mind.
“Probably.” Quinn muttered. “Do your self a favor and don't remember, okay?”
“But I want to.” Violet was confused. There were important things she'd forgotten, she knew it. “Aren't memories important?”
Quinn sighed. “I suppose.” Quinn would prefer if they had met before that Violet not remember the old Quinn with what was now the the new Quinn. “Why'd you forget?”
“I went crazy. That's not what the doctor calls it, but that's what everyone else says.” She gave a tight smile to Quinn. “Did you forget things too?”
“Yes. My life before this. My memories are becoming like swiss cheese.” She turned, facing Violet as the train slowed down for the next stop. “People don't just go crazy. They've always been crazy or something happens that hurts them so much they don't want to remember.”
That sounded true to Violet. “Do you have to go?” This was the longest conversation she'd had since recovering from the ‘psychotic break' in the hospital.
“Two more stops. How many more do you have?” Part of Quinn was still worried for Violet. The incident in the station hadn't been boys just being boys, it was violence; brutal and cruel.
“Six, I'm going uptown.” Violet gave a little smile. “I'll be fine. But...” She reached out touching Quinn's arm. “You're dying.” Violet knew it, suddenly, utterly clearly.
Quinn blinked, it was unexpected. “I wish I was dying, but she won't let me.” No, in fact Quinn suspected Alvera would keep her around for decades to rub in the fact she'd finally captured the soul of a Quinn.
“People don't live long without souls; it's not living after a while.” Violet's voice was stronger now than it had been. Her blue eyes, no longer fuzzy, stared at Quinn intently, as her fingers tightened their hold.
Quinn looked down at the hand clutching her arm. “No, people without souls probably don't live long.” Although Quinn thought, her own brother was still around, and he was like Quinn. She knew that much, even though his name escaped her at the moment. “Sometimes we sacrifice ourselves so others can live.” Quinn removed Violet's hand. “Don't worry about me, worry about yourself and getting better, who knows who might be missing you or what you might be missing without even knowing.”
Violet pulled her hand away, blinking in confusion as she did. “I'm sorry, I don't know why I said that. It was nice meeting you.” She knew her face was flushing, she'd done it again, said something strange.
“Stop apologizing, that just tells everyone you're ashamed of what and who you are. Not everyone can dance and get a substantial part in a ballet even if it's not the lead. You have nothing to be ashamed of. Take care and maybe I'll see you dance some time.” The train was slowing. This was good, Quinn needed to get away because this slip of a woman made her feel sad, made her miss having a memory and a home.
The doors opened and Quinn stepped swiftly out with a wave.
Violet waved back, watching Quinn's red head of hair disappear into the crowds as the subway doors closed and they pulled away from the station.
Dianna sat in her car, staring out through the windshield at the house across the street. Two months now, two months of the dreams with Quinn and not a single sighting of the Detective. She'd gotten desperate enough to even call the police department, which was one of the reasons she'd come here.
The other reason had been the picture that had appeared on her desk in her office. Sissy's picture was gone, burned away with the rest of the bar, but something of her was still there. Either that or Dianna had a burglar who'd conveniently found a picture of the Detective to leave behind.
It was a non-too-subtle reminder that she hadn't seen Quinn since the Asylum.
There had been whispers of what might have happened to Quinn, and none of those whispers from her customers in the Gray had been pleasant. Whispers of Alvera and the city of New York.
“Damn you Quinn,” Dianna whispered, angrily shoving open her door of her car and storming out. Quickly she stalked across the street, banging on the door that she'd been told was Caine's.
A light flickered on lighting up the front window, then after a moment the door was opened. Cain had thrown on a robe. “Dianna? What's going on? Are the DA or police bothering you again?” He'd told her to call not track him down and bother him at home.
“No,” Dianna growled. “No they've kept their distance. The bar's fine.” Dianna damned Quinn for having this powerful hold over her. “It's about your sister.”
“Oh. Look I'm busy. I'll come by the bar tomorrow and have a drink and we can talk.” And then maybe, Caine thought, he'd have a good lie to tell, one tight enough that even the daughter of Malek couldn't sniff it out.
Dianna's hand shot out, stopping Caine from closing the door. Her pale eyes narrowed. “Two months she's been absent. Two months I've been waiting to talk to her, and now I'm hearing the most disturbing rumors Caine.”
Caine sighed. “Look, she made a decision, a bad one and there's nothing anyone can do. Go back to your bar and live your life. That's the gift she gave you, enjoy it.” He tried to shut the door but Dianna was a lot stronger than she looked and he wasn't a Reaper, he was Word Twister, a S il li vertongue, a lawyer who ran his demon master's organization of thugs, drugs and titty bars; he did not have the strength to stop her.
“Where is she? Your family might have a habit of just abandoning its members to their doom, but I don't let my friends disappear like that.” Dianna's bar wasn't what it had been, it no longer comprised of everything she needed and she hated that change.
Realizing he wasn't getting the door shut anytime soon Caine sighed. “Fine, come in and have a seat.”
He walked back to his bedroom and booted out the young Latino man who was there. “Sorry, business, you know how it is.” Caine tossed the man a few bags of white powder and shut the door. He sighed again and went to pour himself a drink.
“I'm not leaving this time until you tell me what's going on. You dazzled me with the bar last time, nicely done of course, but that's not going to work again.” Dianna watched him through hooded eyes as she prowled the edges of the room.
“I didn't dazzle you with anything. There was nothing to tell. I was looking for her, but she's good. Probably years of dealing with me and other's like me.” He poured himself another drink having downed the first. “Last I saw my sister she was on her way to visit our father, with a fake ID.”
Caine held up the bottle to see if Dianna wanted a drink.
Dianna shook her head, she was not interested in drinking with him. “And what happened after that? I see that the limp's healed.”
“Took me awhile, I found a hotel room paid through the week. It was tainted with demon magic, blood magic. No sign of her. But word in the Gray is that Alvera just got herself a new Reaper and the blood has been flowing in old demon houses on the east coast.”
Dianna's lips twitched. “Yes, I heard the same. So you think she sold her soul to Alvera?” Dianna couldn't imagine what had happened to Quinn to break her like that.
“Its very, very possible. It's what Alvera wanted all along, but you tell me what happened in the Asylum?”
“I don't remember much, she was electrocuting me in a bathtub I think.” Dianna rolled her neck, popping vertebrae. “But, I think, Alvera was tormenting Quinn with her son.” Dianna had heard a child crying, of that she was sure. The memories were hard to recall, slippery things that vanished as she tried to focus on them.
Caine poured yet another glass. “Maggie loved her son, named him after our father, even though the pious asshole didn't deserve the honor.”
“But he died, right, in the attack by Alvera?” Dianna frowned, there was some piece here she was missing.
“Our father? No Father Quinn is alive and well in Massachusetts. Let me tell you a story about the pious Father Quinn. He fell in love with one of the nuns at the school he taught at and they started a heated affair. She was a Ridden, trying to hide in the last place a demon would look and trying to find redemption for her worthless soul.”
Dianna rubbed her temple. “I meant the son. I've already dug enough into Quinn's background to find out about you're mother's problem. I do wonder though, when did you find out that they'd promised your soul to Alvera?”
“When I was ten, I found out they'd given my soul away in exchange for my getting mother's back. It was then that I started acting up, decided if I was going to go hell I might at least deserve it. When I was 15 I found a work around.”
“Shitty hand you were dealt.” Dianna smiled a little, she knew a bit about shitty hands. “Being a Ridden isn't all it's cracked up to be. I doubt your sister is doing as well with it as you are.”
“Funny thing was, Maggie and I, we spent our whole lives paying for the sins of the father and when he dies he'll get a church burial in holy ground.” Caine sighed. “No, she's probably not. She's a good soul. Even without a soul if you're not really a bad person then what's asked of you weighs heavily. Sometimes you find outlets, or you become a ghost.”
“I'm going to New York.” Dianna decided, turning away from a picture she'd been studying. “I'll let you know if I find her.” Dianna knew her bar would be in capable hands, with Helga overseeing everything. There wasn't much to tie Dianna here anymore.
“Why?” Caine asked. “Look, I've been a shit most of my life, but I love my sister. Thrasher gives me that much.”
It was a rare demon that allowed its Ridden to feel love for someone other than itself, just another oddity about Thrasher that Dianna had yet to figure out.
“Because Quinn gave me back everything I asked for!” Dianna roared, rounding on Caine furious. “I owe her and I'm not just going to leave her to rot in Alvera's grasp. That and...” Dianna shook her head. “Two other friends are missing as well, and one of them I think is back in New York also.”
Caine's eye narrowed as he looked at her. “You and Maggie, you didn't bond or anything did you?”
“Bond?” Dianna curled her lips a little. “What would you care if we did?”
“Part of me would want to kick your ass. The other part would feel sorry for you, but mostly it means that you might save her. Demons don't have souls that's why they steal human souls, make deals to secure them. Half-demon's don't have a fully formed soul, but if they bond with a human it helps what soul they do have evolve fully inside the half-demon, because, the human helps create that bond with a part of their own soul.” He sighed seeing he'd totally lost Dianna.
“Which means inside you is part of Maggie's soul, Alvera wouldn't have all of it.”
Dianna's eyes had indeed slightly glazed over during Caine's speech. “Is that what your father taught you?” She blinked a bit at that last part, it was promising.
Caine set down his glass. “That's if you two had bonded.”
“Yeah.” Dianna eyed him. “I'll let you know if I find something.” This conversation with Caine had decided her course of action, and confirmed her path. What she'd hoped for.
“Please do. I'll try to help as much as I can, but when it comes to Alvera, Thrasher wants me to stay as far away from her as I can. I gave Maggie the fake ID Alice Little , she might still be using it.”
Dianna thought it was doubtful, but at least it was something she supposed. “Bye Caine, send my regards to Thrasher.” She had a long drive ahead of her. Perhaps by tomorrow she'd be near New York City.
There had been no dreams last night, and as a result Quinn found herself irritable; her one haven away from this life being denied to her. The morning was not going well. She picked herself up with a grimace of pain and stood up to face Alvera.
“I would adjust your attitude Maggie, remember I snap my fingers and you come running.”
“Yes, Mistress.” Quinn made sure to stare at the carpet, the wounds on her face already healing.
Alvera sighed. “I don't think I've ever had such a willful slave. What is your secret Maggie? Is it some sort of genetic thing? Your mother was also willful, although I sometimes enjoyed it when she was.”
Despite Quinn's apathy it still creeped her out to hear about her mother in such a sexual manner.
“Oh, get over it, your mother was a slut, a talent you are completely lacking in. Lucky for you, you have other talents or I would just be done with it and send you to hell. Now come here.” The demon patted her leg and Quinn found herself moving to her side like a dog.
“Baleford is willing to talk about an alliance, he just wants a small thing as a show of faith. He wants you to kill Quixocotle's son, he run's a strip bar.” Alvera threw down a map with a red circle on it. “He's not a full demon but he's more than half. He had a half-breed mother. You have a week it, and can't be tied back to me or Baleford. Use whatever weapon; just get it done before Friday.” She threw some cash down next to the map. “Maybe you should sample the wares while you're scoping it out. Maybe you'll relax.”
Alvera's hand came up cupping Quinn's cheek, a thumb digging into a bruise. “I really don't see what your problem is, Maggie. I've given you eternal youth, strength, speed, and healing, all the perks that go with selling your soul, but you refuse to enjoy any of it. Is this really so bad?”
“No of course not.”
Alvera leaned in kissing her cheek; her demon lips were scorching hot. “I'll give you a little more time to straighten out. Most people seek us out, I'll admit, few end up here because their father sold their soul. But work on the attitude.” Alvera was loosing patience. She would have been done with Quinn if it weren't for the fact she was so good at killing people. Alvera had never owned such a good Reaper.
In her experience, cops were often only one step away from the criminals they chased.
It was more than a thousand miles to New York City. Dianna drove throughout the night and well into the next day. It was a marathon drive and she would have much preferred to fly.
Except half demons weren't allowed on planes, too much concern by the FAA about enclosing good honest folk in a small tin tube at a mile high for hours on end with someone whose body could be a weapon.
So Dianna drove through endless countryside and cities. It had been decades since she'd left her own city and it shocked her to see how the Gray had grown in every city that she crossed along her path.
Chicago's had been huge, she could feel the pull of it from miles away and it had taken every ounce of will power to keep driving.
Thankfully she didn't tire easily, a gift from her father's side.
Now though, she sat in traffic, just at the edge of New York City during afternoon rush hour. Irritated, she ran her fingers through long dark hair, something she'd decided to keep. It had been decades since she'd had her hair its natural color.
“Fucking taxis.” Dianna muttered under her breath, navigating around one that had just cut her off. If they were anything like when she'd first come through New York City most of them would be driven by demon-touched, or at least not-quite-humans.
The Bronx looked different than before, but she could still easily find her way to the edge of the Gray. Dianna had heard rumors that a new Gray zone was starting up in the middle of Manhattan, around Time Square, but that mayor had purged the area enough to prevent it.
Of course there'd been a lot of back-slapping and congratulations when that had happened, but everyone ignored the other problem, lingering in the Bronx.
Finding a likely hotel near the edge of the Zone, Dianna got out, stretching her back with relief. Even for Dianna it had been a long drive and her muscles ached from sitting for so long. “Finally,” she muttered, eyeing the streets around her. A few passersby gave her appreciative looks, but other then that no one got too close.
New Yorkers had a sense about these things that she'd forgotten about.
It was time to see who, of the old friends she had here, was still alive, and which of them could help her out.
It was time to find Quinn.
“You sure about that?” Dianna eyed the twisted thing in front of her. It shook nervously as she played with a lighter. “Twiggie, you really sure about that information?”
Twiggie really did look like a twig, although Dianna was pretty sure that wasn't his real name.
“Yeah, yeah I'm sure! Look, just put down the lighter, we're friends right?”
“Friends don't sell out friends to Demon Affairs, Twiggie. You owe me for that.”
Twiggie shook violently at her words. “I didn't do it, I didn't set you up I swear!”
“1958 wasn't a good year for me Twiggie, and I'm still really sore about it.” Dianna growled, leaning in with the lighter.
“Look, all I know is that Alvera's muscling her way in. Talk is that Baleford can't hold up to her, not without extra help you know? So he's talking truce!”
“Who's Alvera's muscle?” Dianna dangled the flame closer and Twiggie shrunk back into the shadows.
“Some woman, red hair, everyone's scared and keeping their heads down! I swear that's all I know!”
“Rumor is that Alvera's courting Baleford's partnership, and to show him she means business she's going to take out a competitor.” He swallowed, knees weak with relief as Dianna flipped the cap closed.
”Great, tell me who his competitors are, I want a full list.” Dianna grinned at Twiggie's pained expression. “We'll call it even after this Twiggie.”
That promise at least got Twiggie moving; although he grumbled as he took the pen and paper she offered and started writing out names.
The wonders of a civilized world were a marvelous thing. Quinn had bought a pair of colored contact lenses to cover her red eyes. She decided on green so that when she looked in a mirror she didn't start missing the old her. The bar was near the Gray, an old town like New York had a substantial Gray Zone. Then there were the boroughs and slums. A tasty town for demons. Not as tasty as Salem, but tasty. The demons who ruled here had ruled for centuries, and it said a lot about Alvera to take them on. Quinn walked toward her destination listening to the house music that blared through the door. She flashed her ID to the half-demon at the door who didn't really look at it and waved her through. It wasn't a bad place. Old worn wood, polished brass, pictures of Burlesque dancers hung on the walls, famous women of sin. She wondered how many of them were like Dianna, daughters of an Incubus.
Quinn had a week to kill the owner. She sat down at the bar and ordered a drink. There were two stages and a curtain that strung across a doorway that probably led to private rooms.
At the far stage there was a half-naked woman gyrating against a pole, Quinn guessed she was pretty enough. She tipped the bartender when her drink was set down and turned to watch and get a feel for the place.
Number six on Dianna's list of places to stop by was a strip club. The first five had been promising, but three of them had been very heavily protected making them unlikely targets and the last two had been small time players that she rather doubted ranked up there on the hit scale.
This place was looking more hopeful Dianna thought. There was just a single half-demon at the door – half-troll if the looks of him were anything to go on – and no other obvious security, which meant it was around, but not too heavy. The owner was some sort of nephew or something to another of the master demons in town.
Family always made a good target to people like Alvera.
Dianna ignored the bouncer's request for ID, which wasn't repeated once his small eyes had gotten a good look at her. She simply walked in.
Once inside Dianna froze immediately, pale eyes widening as she spotted the woman she'd been seeking at the bar.
Quinn finished her drink, and gestured for another. When the bartender made his way over to drop it off, she asked. “Where's the restrooms?” He pointed over to the side. Quinn tipped him again and took a drink. There were a few patrons in, but on a Sunday one didn't expect the after church crowd.
After sipping on her drink Quinn rubbed her face. She was tired, oddly she didn't seem to get a lot of rest in her dreams, but not having them had made her feel worse. She started to have the odd sensation of being watched. Not good, what if someone had made her. Quinn really wasn't into the idea of dying yet and Though her eyes slowly scanned the room she didn't notice anyone. She thought perhaps it was just some guy curious about a woman in a strip joint.
Across the room, Dianna had slumped into the first secluded booth that she'd come across, grabbing her chest through the silk shirt she wore. Pain curled through her chest and she nearly doubled over in agony. What the fuck? Her mind was screaming. “Hey, you all right lady?” Dianna's eyes snapped up and she snarled through teeth that were clenched in pain. “Out. Now!”
The man stumbled, taking his drink with him as he hurriedly left her alone. The agony wracked through her again and she curled up, fetal position around the pain.
Dianna was confounded. What was this? She'd found Quinn, but she'd still not decided what to do when she had. Then the pain had decided for her and she'd stumbled sideways.
Dianna whimpered, teeth clenched as another wave of pain roiled through her. She'd never felt pain like this before and it scared her. She wondered if this was part of Quinn's soul reacting to Quinn herself being so close by.
Quinn finished her drink and got up, making her way over to where the bartender had pointed. She paused for a moment watching a new dancer come out, obviously a favorite. The men cheered and some pushed forward as close to the stage as they could. Quinn noted that woman, just as all the others, was attractive enough.
Quinn started moving again.
Quinn observed that the bathroom was clean as she washed her hands, maybe she mused, because it was the women's. There had been no manager's office, which meant it was back down the hallway probably behind the curtain. She was going to have to get a private dance.
But not today, she had until Friday, so it gave her something to work up to. Maybe tomorrow, she decided.
Only when Quinn had moved away did Dianna gasp in relief, some of that terrible pressure easing so she could once again breath. She lay there in the booth, gasping as the pain receded to something manageable again. This was new to her, and quite unpleasant.
Dianna never heard of one of her kind bonding to a human who had subsequently sold their soul. She ventured that it might be the reason for her pain. Or maybe Quinn hated her so much it was crippling.
The last thought wasn't a nice one and she banished it as best she could, craning her neck out of the booth to look around. Quinn had disappeared, but judging by the ache in her chest, she wasn't far away.
Quinn exited the restroom debating on another drink. She had the same odd feeling again and she frowned, looking around. She bumped into another woman, a dancer on break judging by the outfit. “Sorry.”
“Don't be.” The woman said, lightly touching Quinn's arm. Looking Quinn up and down the woman licked her lips. “We don't get a lot of women in here. So its my lucky day.”
Quinn blinked. “Are you flirting with me?”
The dancer laughed. “Wow. I guess I'll have to try harder if you need to ask.”
That made Quinn smile for just a moment.
“Is that a smile? Come on I'll let you buy me a drink.”
Quinn opened her mouth to argue, but closed it promptly. She was here to kill someone; a dancer would be a good way to get information on that certain someone. “Sure.”
Dianna's eyes narrowed as she watched Quinn with the dancer who was laughing and pulling Quinn toward the bar. Her back stiffened as the two of women settled in for a drink.
Dianna's pain was back, although now that it wasn't a complete surprise and she could deal with it. What she couldn't deal with was watching Quinn with a woman and for a second all Dianna wanted to do was rip her apart, and she wasn't even sure which ‘her' she meant.
Diana decided this had been a bad idea, she shouldn't have just barged in here without a plan. Stumbling a bit, she got to her feet and started towards the front door. She had to regroup.
Quinn caught something out of the corner of her eye. Something that made her head turn and the breath catch in her throat. It was a memory, or someone from a dream. “I have to... I'll be right back.” Quinn rushed for the door. Looking down the street she caught the long framed body that could only be one person. “Shit.” She hesitated before starting to run down the street. “Dianna?” The name fell from Quinn's mouth.
Dianna stopped, her back to Quinn, as she heard her name called. Her eyes closed as she soaked up the mere sound of the other woman's voice. Again Dianna wondered, what had happened to her, she who had never let anyone get close enough to have this power over her before.
“Quinn.” She breathed out the name.
Quinn now stood rooted, unable to move. “No, no, no. You can't be here. You're a dream.” There was a spark, a tingle along Quinn's skin as gaps in her memory filled in. Dianna should be safe living her life not here, not seeing how far Quinn had fallen. “You should be home, safe in your bar.”
“Why?” Dianna turned, fearing what she would see in Quinn's eyes. “So that I could live the rest of my life knowing what you'd done so that I could have my bar back?”
“Don't flatter yourself Theron, this had nothing to do with you.” Quinn spat out, feeling guilty, asking herself why Dianna had to look so good. “I pulled you in to my problems, so I was just making sure we were even. Besides what the hell do you care? You got what you wanted.”
“Maybe I changed my mind about what I wanted.” Dianna couldn't keep this conversation up from so far away and she walked closer, despite the pain in her chest. It throbbed, aching as she imagined a heart attack would, but she could ignore it. Or at least, tolerate it. “Maybe I decided I didn't just want the bar,” she said, eyes intent.
Quinn took a step back, knowing this was bad. Alvera would be pissed if she found out. “What else do you want? I can try.” Anything to make Dianna go away, before Alvera found out she was here.
“What do you think I want?” Dianna moved closer, wincing as the ache in her chest intensified. She stopped a few feet away, not certain she could move any closer.
“I don't know.” Being without a soul made one less imaginative, no hopes, no dreams. “What's wrong?” Quinn saw Dianna wince. “Are you hurt?”
“Not physically.” This close, Dianna could see the blankness in Quinn's eyes. The green eyes were the wrong color; Quinn's eyes had been blue. “I want you to have your soul back.”
“I'd like that too, but Alvera's not likely to let that happen.” Quinn moved forward slowly, even though knew she should go. She touched Dianna's face, and a jolt hit her fingertips causing the hairs to rise on her arm. Suddenly Quinn didn't feel so empty inside. “You kept your hair long.” Her other hand moved, fingers sliding through the strands.
“I wasn't even sure you'd remember me.” Dianna breathed, leaning into Quinn's touch. Most Ridden didn't remember much of their previous lives before they sold their souls. “Someone told me it looked better than the short red hair.” Which it did, if Dianna was honest with herself.
“I dream about you almost every night, I think. How could I forget you?” Quinn said softly studying everything she could about Dianna's face. Her head kept telling her shouldn't do this, it made it harder to live this life. “Go home Dianna. Go fuck some vapid pretty girls and get back on with your life. Just go and don't come back here, and stay away from this bar.” Quinn swallowed trying to push the lump in her throat away. The last thing she wanted was to stop touching the Dianna.
“Don't you think I tried?” Dianna groaned, catching Quinn's hand before she could pull away. “The dreams won't let me forget you either. Everyone I look at, or try to bed, it's not you.” She knew she wasn't making sense but it had been a long drive and she was tired and the pain was even stronger now that Quinn was touching her but she never wanted it to stop.
“The person you want doesn't exist. Without a soul I can't love you. I'm Alvera's Reaper now; I kill for her without question, without remorse. That's not the Quinn you knew.” But touching Dianna Quinn almost remembered what it was like to have a soul and to feel those things.
“She's still in there; I can see her in your eyes.” Dianna could feel her too, as she held Quinn's hand. There was a sparkle of something in those green eyes, not much, but it was all Dianna could hold onto for now. “There are ways to get your soul back.”
“I'm not doing what my mother and father did. I lost one child; I couldn't imagine doing it deliberately to help myself.” Quinn felt a tug, the invisible leash that tied her to Alvera. “I have to go my master is calling,” she said with a wry smile. “Don't come back to this bar. I'm warning you. Just stay away.” Quinn didn't want to pull away but she had to, it would be worse if she didn't answer the summons.
“I'm not just giving up on you.” Dianna yelled, as Quinn turned away from her and started off down the street.
Emptiness was taking over Quinn, though there remained some level of caring. “Just don't do anything stupid. I didn't sacrifice my soul to have you die,” she said over her shoulder. The farther away she moved the easier it became. Then Quinn was running, wondering what the hell Alvera wanted pulling her away from a job.
Jesus Quixocotle had been named in irony; his father was a demon, so nobody argued with him on the naming not even Jesus' mother. He stared at the hot woman sitting on the other side of his desk. “You want to work for me?” He looked over her resume. “Shit, you're more than qualified.” And that was what rang little warning bells. Dianna was a half-demon, and that half being an incubus daughter would drive up business just having her in the room.
“I need the money.” Dianna crossed her legs, the short skirt she'd carefully chosen for this interview riding just a bit higher up her thigh. “You know the usual.” She smiled brightly at him, leaning in a bit to give him a bit more view down her cleavage.
“Yeah, I get it half-demons have a hard time making money in the world. Look I pay pretty women to take their clothes off and ugly ones to serve drinks. I have good bouncers in the club to make sure the girls don't get hurt but if you get a stalker outside the club you're on your own. I don't request or require that you do more than dance. If you want to do more do it on your time and your dime. I have the police in randomly during the month to make sure I'm not pimping.”
Jesus knew he'd be an idiot to let her walk out the door. “Fine.” It had been a long time since Dianna had done this, she'd hoped these days were behind her. Apparently not. “Dancing only though, I'm not doing some smelly human just to earn a few extra dollars.” Her eyes narrowed a little, she wanted to make certain he was clear on that.
He rolled his eyes. “Didn't you just hear me? If you want to fuck a customer take it outside and don't do it in my place. In here you dance. You make them horny; you promise them more with a smile and leaving them needing a drink to ease the pressure in their pants.”
“I wanted there to be no misunderstandings.” Dianna gave a small smile. “You know how ugly those can get.”
“Oh and if they pay enough you give ‘em a private dance, again there's a bouncer standing outside the door if they hear you scream or you hit the panic button they'll be in there to help you. Oddly I take the safety of my girls seriously. But you will do private dances. Now that we understand each other. I have paperwork somewhere for you to sign. When do you want to start?”
“Tonight.” There was every chance that Quinn would be back today after their encounter the day before. She wasn't going to lose her just because of bad scheduling.
Jesus opened several drawers on his desk looking for the paperwork and the health coverage sheet – he took that seriously too. He got the cute college coeds because he offered medical and dental. He looked up. “Okay let me check the schedule
. Hassiem!” he shouted. “It can be serving drinks if you want.” Dianna would be on every night until Quinn showed up.
A short stocky dark skinned man with glasses he was always pushing up his nose opened the door. “Yes,” he said, annoyed. “I need new employee paperwork and a copy of tonight's schedule.”
Hassiem sighed. “Bottom right drawer and the schedule is posted on the cork board next to your desk.”
“Oh.” Jesus said sheepishly. “Uh thanks.”
Hassiem rolled his eyes and then shut the door.
Jesus pulled out the new employee packet and put it down in front of the woman and then looked at the schedule. It was Monday a slow day. Tamera had wanted the day off, anyways. “Okay, you're on tonight as a waitress, tomorrow you're on stage 2. Come up with a persona for dancing. Groping and fondling are par for the course anything that leaves a mark on you is not okay. We sell sex, not abuse.”
“Sex, right.” Dianna grinned a little. It was very amusing to have someone explain to her what a strip club sold. She was all about promises that she didn't actually fulfill. “I'll have something put together. What time for the waitressing tonight?”
“Come in at four that should get you set up right before the after work dickheads show up.”
“Great.” Dianna had to work hard at looking happy at that idea. Serving drinks in a strip club. She had to ask herself what the hell it was she was doing.
Quinn entered the strip club the night after she'd already visited it. The contacts were killing her eyes and she hadn't slept well. Someone had tried to kill Alvera and she'd been hunting the idiot most of the night. Some hired thug who'd offed himself in the end so she hadn't gotten any answers as to who had sent him. There was a bullet wound in her bicep that hurt like crazy.
Alvera's response had been to send her back to work.
The atmosphere was very different from the night before.
The club was packed tonight, full of the after work businessmen who made up most of the weekly clientele. Scantily clad waitresses bustled past Quinn, while the current dance numbers were gyrating up on the stage.
Loud thumping music accompanied them as they used the stripper poles to best effect.
“Let's put it together for the lovely Ginger and Destiny!” a DJ yelled into the microphone from beside the stages as the college age girls finished their set to clapping and hooting.
Quinn cursed herself for getting distracted by Dianna the evening before. She'd lost the perfect chance to chat up that dancer and find out about the owner she had to kill.
“Hey Honey.” The bartender, an older woman, smiled at Quinn as she got closer, remembering her from the previous night. “Want a drink?” she asked, thick makeup not quite covering up her wrinkles.
“Yeah, whiskey.” Quinn put money down on the bar. “More people in here compared to Sunday.”
“Sunday's the slow day. Rest of the week we're pretty packed.” The bartender slid a double shot across the bar to Quinn. “New dancer tonight got all the men excited, she's supposed to be something special.” She snorted before going to serve someone else.
“They're all something special, I'm sure.” Quinn said taking a sip. “Its a nice place, not too sleazy, must have a pretty progressive owner,” she said making conversation.
“What's that? Oh, yeah, Jesus is pretty good to us.” The bartender returned, grinning at her old joke. “He treats the staff good, doesn't let too many men make asses of themselves. You looking for a job? You got the legs for it, but you're a bit short on breasts.”
Quinn tried to laugh. “No, I got a job.”
“Ah, so you're here for the show.” The woman grinned.
“Not exactly. I'm just here for a good drink. The show is just a bonus,” Quinn answered with a grin.
“Well don't forget to tip.” The bartender nodded towards the stage. “New show's starting in a minute. Need anything else?”
“Nah, this should keep me for awhile.” Quinn smiled, but she doubted the show would interest her, nothing much really interested her.
“All right, I'll check back on you later.” The bartender headed down the bar towards the other paying customers as the music suddenly quieted and the DJ started his spiel.
What Quinn needed was to find out who this owner was so she could kill him and be done with the whole thing. “Hey do you think...” she began, just as the dancer stepped out on to the stage. Quinn knew Dianna had Greek in her, but she didn't remember a toga like that studying history.
Throughout the room everybody's sex drive started revving.
On the stage, Dianna hesitated a moment, toga draped artfully over her form as the lights flashed. Quinn was here, she could feel her out there. The ache in her chest was as surprising as before but she forced herself to ignore it. The music she'd chosen was Greek in origin, a lament that she doubted anyone here would recognize. It was fast though, which was what she wanted as she started moving, flesh flashing through the gapes in her robes, giving tantalizing flashes of the naked body beneath.
Pissed or not Quinn couldn't stop watching. She found herself moving towards the stage without realizing it. Dianna was very good and her father's heritage wasn't harming. Even without a soul Quinn felt desire something she thought impossible no matter what Alvera said.
The set passed quickly, with Dianna proving exactly how flexible she could be and leaving the possibilities of that flexibility to the imagination of the audience. The toga was flung off into the audience by the end and, with one long last look at Quinn Dianna turned and strode off the stage, completely naked. Dollar bills were being tossed up onto the stage as she passed.
Around her men howled at being denied as she walked off stage.
Quinn slammed the rest of her drink and made her way around to the stage entrance. She glowered at the bouncer that stopped her. “I want to talk to Dianna, the Greek Goddess.”
“No customers allowed in here. Private dance only if you want to talk to a dancer,” The bouncer growled, through a misshapen jaw.
“Hundred a dance.” He folded his arms.
She pulled out the wad of cash Alvera had given her. “How long is a dance?”
“Ten minutes.” And it was timed of course.
Quinn started counting bills. “Forty minutes.” She said handing him the cash.
“I'll get her, you go through there. Second room. Remember, hands to yourself. Any touching and you're out of here.” He glared at her with beady eyes.
“Got it.” Quinn moved down to the room he'd told her.
She inspected the chair and found it decent and then sat down being sure to sit on her hands.
The door opened and Dianna entered. “And what do you want,” she said with a smirk.
“I told you not to come here.” Quinn husked out, eyes devouring the woman in front of her.
“I asked you if you wanted something, not to repeat what you told me.” Dianna moved towards Quinn.
Quinn swallowed; this had been a stupid idea. She'd been caught up in the lust that Dianna had been sending out. “I...” Quinn blinked finding Dianna suddenly right there.
Fingers reached down, stroking through Quinn's red hair. “You what?” Dianna whispered, fingers undoing the front buttons on that ridiculously short shirt, one by one as she straddled the other woman's legs.
“You... Don't do this Dianna.” It was worse when they touched Quinn started feeling more, and she was starting to think it was better when she didn't feel.
“Don't do what?” Hot lips breathed in Quinn's ear as the last button came loose. The piece of cloth stayed in place though as she started to sway against Quinn's body, toying.
“The Quinn you knew is dead. You're just...” Quinn's train of thought completely derailed and crashed. “I can't think with you touching me.”
“Good, thinking is overrated.” Dianna moved against Quinn, sliding up onto her thighs, short skirt riding up to reveal see-through panties beneath.
Quinn had been mad, she was certain of that. “Why are you doing this? I asked you not to come back here.” If Quinn could get a hand free then maybe she could stop Dianna, create some space between them.
“Uh uh, no hands.” Dianna pushed the suddenly free hand down, giving her shoulders a little shimmy to free the material which she tossed aside. “I was waiting for you of course.” Her hips ground up against Quinn and she turned around, making sure Quinn got a good look of what was under her skirt.
The expression in Quinn's eyes was nearly human again.
Quinn's hips started moving desperately trying to press up into Dianna's. “Maybe there was a reason I told you to stay away.” Quinn was panting. “I have a job to do and it doesn't involve fucking around with the staff.” She was babbling nonsense she knew, things were coming out of her mouth that shouldn't, but she really couldn't think. “Jesus Christ, what did you do set off a lust bomb in this place? Alvera is going to be pissed; I'm supposed to be killing this guy not getting off while you dance in my lap.” Quinn did remember however Alvera telling her to try out the dancers, suggesting she might relax a bit. Then Quinn started thinking about some guy from the audience getting a dance from Dianna and she started getting pissed again. “I do not want some sweating wallstreet banker pawing at you.” Quinn might not be capable of love, but lust and unhealthy obsession seemed to be working fine.
Dianna turned, slinging a long leg up over Quinn's lap and settling herself down firmly against the woman, pressing her down into the seat as she worked fingers against the human's shirt. “It doesn't work like that. You don't get to just give up and then expect to tell me what to do.” Dianna brushed hardened nipples against Quinn's chest, groaning at the feeling.
“I didn't give up.” A memory, flashed clearly through Quinn's mind. She was back in the Asylum, Dianna's cries of pain echoing off the crumbling walls. “She was killing you. Killing the soul of my son. The other two were in trouble.” Their faces slid away like water through her fingers. As with most of her past only Dianna, Connor, and Cain seemed concrete in her memory. “She promised to let you live if I...if I... gave her...my soul.” Quinn knew that wasn't the whole story, Alvra had wanted another soul that Quinn was to secure. She couldn't remember who that had been, but failure had meant it was her soul instead Alvera took.
Quinn didn't think the past matter anymore. Certainly not now, when an attractive succubus was giving her a lap dance. “Please let me touch you,” Quinn almost begged. Quixocotle's son could wait.
Dianna wanted to comply so badly it hurt almost as much as the constant ache in her chest. Both those pains were more bearable when she was touching Quinn and Dianna wasn't going to let her go so easily. “No,” she whispered, undoing Quinns shirt buttons. “You don't get to touch, but I can. We have more than a half hour left.”
Dianna threaded her fingers through Quinn's curly red hair. With her free hand she pulled aside Quinn's bra, and kissed her way down a slender neck. Dianna just barely managed to remember what Quinn had said about having to kill the strip clubs owner, every bit of information helped.
Quinn moaned as spikes of pleasure rippled through her body, this was better than any dream. “I thought it was a one time only thing,” she uttered breathily.
Quinn's body was a roadmap of bruises and healing wounds. Ridden were just that, ridden hard and then tossed away when they burnt out. Alvera only cared if it was life threatening, and even then only because she wasn't willing to give up her new toy. Quinn was stronger and faster, and she did heal wounds at a much faster rate than before all of the trade-offs one earned for giving ones soul to be demon touched, but healing wasn't instantaneous.
“I lied.” Dianna moved more urgently now, all teasing gone at the sound of Quinn's moan. Dianna wanted this too badly to pretend otherwise. Her fingers made quick work of Quinn's belt, a hard tug and the pants came off, followed by white undies, to be tossed aside. Dianna left Quinn solely in an unbuttoned shirt as she pushed the Quinns's legs wider apart and knelt down, mouth watering as she reached her goal.
God, she's wet , Dianna marveled as her fingers slid in easily and she tasted Quinn for the first time in months. One of them was moaning and Dianna wasn't sure which of them it was.“Stop,” Quinn pleaded as every person, demon, or half-breed she had killed for Alvera without remorse appeared before her . She was horrified at what she had done without conscience . Quinn wasn't a killer, she had pledged her life to protect and serve. Everything had backfired badly and she realized shouldn't have done any of it. The Ridden in her had been lustful and possessive, unable to resist.
When Quinn came it was with a sob as tears flowed from her eyes
Only then did Dianna slide her fingers away, leaning up to kiss Quinn fully and slowly. “Quinn,” she whispered, feeling her there, with her, as she wiped away tears. “I'm glad to see you.” Dianna knew it wouldn't last, it couldn't until they'd retrieved Quinn's soul, but it was the best she could do for now.
“Why are you doing this? Why? You make me feel all of this only to have it slip away again.” Quinn freed her hands and placed them on Dianna's sides. Both she and Dianna were warm, burning even, and she was tempted to push away, but she didn't. She held on, head resting against Dianna's breastbone, where she could hear her heartbeat.
Tenderly, Dianna wiped tears away from pale skin. “I needed to talk to the real Quinn, not her Ridden.” She brushed fingers across swollen lips. “This was the only way I knew how. I'm not going to let that bitch keep you.”
“This shouldn't even be possible, Dianna. She has my soul I watched her eat it.” Quinn shook her head and then sighed. “I've never heard a story about human getting their soul back other than the way my parents did.” And that wasn't something Quinn could do.
“There are other ways.” Dianna whispered. “And she doesn't have all of your soul. I have a part of it.” It was hard for Dianna to admit, but she knew Quinn deserved to know.
“What? How did you get part of my soul?” Quinn asked. She wasn't mad; there was too much going on to waste time being mad, and who knew when this would fade and she would just be a shell of herself, a killing puppet with Alvera pulling her strings.
“When we bonded.” Dianna smiled a bit. “When I took away your pain one too many times I think, it's hard to tell. Usually there's a real bonding ceremony that has to be done, but not this time I guess. It's not a very big piece, but it hurts when I'm near you.”
“Oh.” Quinn nodded, not really understanding. “Why does it hurt? Shouldn't I hurt too?” But Quinn didn't really feel anything except the darker emotions that demons had, the seven deadly ones. “Never mind, what are you going to do? Since telling you to leave again will probably result in the same action from you.”
Dianna sighed; already she could feel Quinn pulling away. Her human emotions were fading, turning darker and pale to her senses. “The other way to free you is to kill the Demon who's taken your soul. That's the only way.”
Dianna pulled Quinn into one last long kiss, savoring it for the days ahead. “Survive,” she whispered to her. “Do whatever you need to, but survive. I will come for you.” It was desperately important to Dianna that Quinn believed her.
“She owns me, there's only so much I can help you with.” Quinn kissed Dianna back, hard and urgent, unwilling to let her go. “My deal with Alvera is that she can't harm you. She can't harm my friends and family, unless you try to harm her. And I have to step in when someone tries to kill her regardless.” Quinn's hands went around Dianna's waist grasping at her back, while she kissed her neck. “I'm scared; I don't want you to leave. But I'm scared if you stay you'll get hurt.”
“I'm not going far.” Dianna promised, holding Quinn tight as the last of her emotion flickered away. Closing her eyes Dianna pulled away, seeing the empty lost look in Quinn's eyes once again. “Glad you enjoyed your dance,” Dianna managed to say in a normal voice, despite almost choking.
Quinn blinked looking around the room. “It was... different.” She started to button up her shirt. A knock on the door made her jump. “Two minutes.” The bouncer's voice floated through the door.
”Yeah, just a sec.” Quinn found her pants and stuffed the underwear into her pocket. She chewed on her bottom lip, staring at Dianna. “You working tomorrow night?” Quinn knew this was bad. If Alvera found out it wouldn't be pleasant. But Dianna wasn't going to stop her, and if she wanted to waste her time trying to free Quinn, so much the better, it just meant she might get another booty call. Quinn shoved her feet into her shoes. She knew something had happened in the room that she couldn't remember, something that was more than sex.
“Yes.” A dark shadow crossed Dianna's pale eyes. She stood near the wall, watching Quinn dress with an unreadable expression on her face. “I'll be here.” In fact Dianna would be there every night, no matter how badly it hurt.
Quinn paused at the door, hesitant to leave, but she had a job to do.
Eventually shutting the door, Quinn's eyes quickly took in the hallway. There were stairs near the back that were probably what she was looking for, and there was also a private entrance. Quinn had checked the alley's around the club, and so she wondered where the hell that door went. “Nice dance?” The bouncer asked, not caring.
“The best.” Quinn replied, exiting through the curtain. A hundred jealous eyes watched her leave.
Quinn made her way to the bar and ordered a drink. She watched a man go up to the bouncer and wave a wade of cash. It made her burn inside thinking of Dianna grinding into his crotch. She tried to get her mind back to the job at hand but it was a difficult thing to do.
Alvera was on the phone when Quinn returned late Wednesday night early Thursday morning. “Interesting. She can mimic any demon just from an injection of blood. Her sister was a brilliant woman, a pity she was killed. Let me know when they can duplicate this process, I like the idea of turning humans into mindless killing machines, don't get me wrong, I can do that already if they sell me their soul, and its more fun, but a mimic, now that's interesting. Call me with good news soon.”
Alvera hung up the phone and stretched with a purr. “Is he dead yet?”
Quinn poured a glass of something expensive and considered her words. She had stayed there all night watching Dianna perform but she hadn't gone to the back for another dance. She had gotten more information on the owner from the bartender but not nearly enough. “No, this is going to take longer than a week.”
“You don't have a week, you have two more days.” Alvera stood up, eyes fire engine red in anger, and backhanded Quinn.
Quinn fell backward, the glass flew from her hand and smashed against the wall. She curled into a ball as bone jarring kicks came.
“If you fail me on this...”
“I wasted a whole day looking for some hired gun who tried to kill you, cut me some slack.”
The response was another kick and the cracking of a rib. “Two days or I send you to hell.”
“It will be done.” Quinn croaked out not bothering to get up until Alvera had stormed out. She got up slowly and washed her face in the kitchen sink, spitting out a mouthful of blood. Then she poured another drink and sat down on the couch watching the sun rise.
All Quinn wanted to do was go back and see Dianna. The thought of her dancing privately for anyone else made her want to kill everyone in the room. It disturbed her though, the hole in her memory. She felt it was like her mind was shielding her from something. Her mind was betraying her left and right. She knew she had a son but it took a long time now to remember his name. She had also had a husband but she couldn't remember his name or even what he looked like.
Quinn wondered, if she slept, would Dianna be there in her dreams, or would she be alone in her nightmares?
There were two days left to do the impossible. Quinn had discovered why she couldn't figure out where that back door went. An illusion hid part of the building. She'd only figured that out by counting her steps inside and outside the building. It was strong magic but that was how he got in and out of the building, probably a private car park just for him. Quinn held the glass to her jaw, eyes closing.
Someone was telling her to do whatever she needed to survive, but at what cost? Even if she got her soul back she would hate herself for everything she had done.
Violet danced, lost to the music that dictated the movements around her. The full orchestra was playing this time providing a full run through of the entire ballet before their debut next week.
It had been days since her strange meeting with the woman in the subway, and the memory of that meeting lingered. Her dreams were strange and confusing, filled with images of a place she'd never seen before, dark hallways with shadows that watched her with red glowing eyes.
Dr. Fritz told her it was just a symptom of the ‘psychotic break' and had given her more pills to try.
Violet didn't think he listened to her.
None of that mattered here though. In the spot light, with the music compelling her to move, Violet twirled and leapt with her fellow dancers. None of them talked to her outside of the dancing, in fact she thought they might hate her.
Yet here she was part of the group, and they all moved together. It was a beautiful and freeing feeling, something like what she thought flying might be like.
She loved it.
“Good! Good!” Henrieck, the old stooped man who ruled the Ballet with an iron fist moved closer to the stage front, everyone coming to a stop at his words.
“Good.” He said again in his heavily accented German. “We do again, from the top. You,” he pointed to an unfortunate ballet dancer who ducked his head at Henrieck's glare. “You, will do the lift correctly or you will not do it at all!” The old man slammed his cane on the stage for effect, making Violet jump in surprise.
“Now. Again.” Henrieck rapped his cane against the wood and they started up from the beginning.
Violet smiled, she rather liked his brusque methods, and they were refreshing after dealing with Mother and her friends.
They all moved back to their starting spots and Violet smiled still, listening to the orchestra start up again. They started moving, whirling in the well ordered choreographed dance.
She was just getting into the flow again, when things went wrong. The young man that Henrieck had pointed out before wobbled towards her and she slid out of the way, alarmed as he struggled to perform the lift.
Off balance, he went over. The ballerina he'd lifted above his head going with him with a scream of surprise. He landed on the edge of the stage but she kept going down into the orchestra pit, landing hard. Violet could hear something snap as she landed, the sound audible even over the sudden yelling around them.
Violet was dimly aware of the dancers and musicians all scrambling around her, yelling and pointing, and old Heinreich's voice cutting through it all. Something drew her towards the edge of the stage, swallowing as she saw the Ballerina laying there. Her leg was at a strange angle, bone shards gleamed through the flesh and blood was pooling around her as she lay there, gasping, eyes wide and frightened.
Almost in a trance, Violet stepped down off the stage, pushing her way through the onlookers to crouch down next to the Ballerina. Her hands moved without thought, pressing up against the wound and her eyes closed.
“Holy shit, look at her hands man!” Someone nearby said, loudly enough that Violet jerked in surprise.
Violet had no idea where she was, or how she gotten there, her last memory being that if standing up on the stage.
Henreich grabbed Violet's shoulder, pulling her to her feet as she stared in confusion at her bloody hands. “What have you done girl?” he demanded, fear in his eyes as she looked from her hands back down to the smooth flesh of the Ballerina's leg.
Now the whole company was staring at her, fear in their eyes.
“She's a demon!” Someone said from the back of the group. Violet shook her head, pulling away from the old man.
“Witch! She's a witch!”
“No….” Violet whispered, but her voice was drowned out by the sudden yells around her.
Terrified, she turned and fled.
On Thursday Quinn found herself down by where she had met the strange girl earlier that week. Or at least Quinn thought she had, she supposed it could be another dream about another life where she didn't belong to Alvera. It was late in the afternoon and she knew she ought to be at the bar, plotting, doing Alvera's will. But Quinn had liked the odd blond she'd experienced with Violet She ordered a hotdog from a cart vender, not hungry, but knowing she should eat.
The man at the cart just shrugged at the red eyes he noticed, and took her money handing over the food in exchange. Quinn let him keep the change and took a bite as she wandered down the sidewalk. She decided it wasn't likely she'd run into the girl again, not least because she'd probably made the girl up.
Across the street Violet stuffed her hands into the pockets of the fashionable clothes Mother had made certain she'd wear out of the house. Of course that had been yesterday and they were definitely a bit worse for the wear now as she stared into a bakery window, mouth watering. The night she had spent curled up and hiding in central park had been horrible. Not knowing what to do, now that the sun was up, was almost as bad. Shivering, Violet turned to go, not sure where she was headed, just starting to walk.
Quinn blinked as she saw Violet suddenly appear, walking towards her on the sidewalk. Making up her mind, Quinn moved quickly, stopping directly in front of her. “Are you real?” Quinn asked.
Violet almost walked right into Quinn, eyes flying open in surprise as she gave a little yelp. “Oh.” Her shoulders relaxed. “It's you again. Um, I think I'm real. Are you?”“I'm not certain.” Quinn said taking a bite of the hotdog. “You look lost. Do you need help getting home again?”
Blue eyes widened. “No. No, I'm good. I just...” Violet trailed off, trying to think up a lie. “Was looking for...” She bit her lip, cursing herself for her inability to lie well. “You were looking for... what?”“Food.” Violet mumbled, ducking her head. “There's a hotdog cart up the street a bit,” Quinn said, turning. “Follow me I'll show you where it's at.”
Violet stayed where she was, biting her lip as the strange red-headed woman started walking away from her. “Umm... I can't...” Violet looked away. “Do you think he'd like a watch?” she said, thinking of the pretty one from Cartier that her mother had given her, and wondering if she could exchange it for food.
Quinn paused, looking back at Violet. “Come on I'll buy you a hotdog and you can explain what happened to your money.”“Hotdog's sound good.” Violet hurried to catch up. “I don't think you'll believe me though.”“Red eyes remember, you'd be surprised what I'd believe.” They walked up to the cart and Quinn looked at the pale girl. Deciding she could do with a good meal she held up two fingers to the man at the cart, who nodded and started making two hotdogs. “Mmmmm.” Violet devoured the first loaded hotdog, polishing it off in the time that it took the man to finish making the second and for Quinn to pay for them. “Is good,” Violet mumbled, licking her fingers clean as she took the second one.
Quinn finished her own dog and wandered with Violet. She hadn't made her up in some sort of hallucination which was encouraging. “Did you tell me your name?” She asked. “If you did I'm sorry but I don't remember. I'm not remembering a lot these days.”
Quinn remembered killing, remembered it made Alvera happy, and she remembered Dianna and Dianna made her happy.
“Violet. My name's Violet. Mother's favorite flower.” Violet gave a shy smile over at the red haired woman. “Do you still have a name?”
“Quinn.” Quinn frowned. “I think that's my last name. I don't remember my first.”
“Quinn.” Violet stuck out her hand. “Thank you for the hot dogs Quinn.”
“You're welcome Violet. So you want to tell me why you are wandering around here without money.”
“Oh.” Violet blinked, having hoped Quinn would have forgotten about that part. She took another bite of the second hotdog to buy some time. “I forgot my purse at the recital hall.” It was pretty much a miracle that she'd remembered to grab clothes at all.
“Then lets go back and get it.” It bothered Quinn to think of Violet out here alone and unable to get home.
“No!” Violet's eyes went wide. “No, I can't go back there.”
“What happened Violet?” Quinn asked as they walked aimlessly around the city.
“I don't know.” Violet looked away. “I didn't mean to. But they think I'm some sort of freak now, or demon. One of them threw shoes at my head yelling that I was a witch. I think they're going to go get the church.” The words were pouring out now and Violet felt her eyes tearing. “Mother warned me, told me I couldn't cause a scandal for the family again.”
“What happened?” Quinn asked, fumbling in her pocket until she found a napkin and handed it to Violet.
Taking the paper napkin, Violet wiped at her eyes, embarrassed. “She fell of the stage, I think he didn't mean to do it, but she fell and you could hear her bone break. It was horrible, the bone was sticking out and there was blood everywhere.” Violet paled at the memory. “Then I...” Violet stared at her hands, remembering the blood. “I think I fixed her.”
Quinn blinked at that. “You think, or you did?”
“I don't know!” She turned to face Quinn. “It's blurry.”
“What do you want to do?” Qionn didn't have time for this but being around Violet made her feel more like the Quinn she'd been, rather than the shadow that she was.
“Go away.” Was the first and immediate answer that came to Violet's lips. Something horrible would happen if she stayed, she was sure of it.
“Okay. Where would you like to go?”
That was a really good question. “Um.” Violet blinked. “I'm not sure.”
“Do you have friends ,or family you could stay with?”
“No.” Violet said, quickly.
“Fuck.” Quinn muttered.
Dianna , Quinn thought. She could take the girl to Dianna. “Please tell me you're over 21.”
“Twenty two.” Violet said hopefully.
“Okay. I'm going to take you someplace your mother would most defiantly disapprove of.” Quinn said.
“But it's not central park right?” Violet had to hustle to catch up.
“No, it's a strip club.”
Violet's eyes widened. “Oh.”
Quinn rubbed her temple as the bouncer eyed Violet. “Would you believe that she's 22?”
“No,” he rumbled, crossing his arms over his chest. “Either way, Club's closed. Come back later.”
“Closed? It's three o'clock in the afternoon. Don't you serve drinks or something?”
“Private function,” He stated, his small eyes narrowing at her. Behind Quinn's, Violet stayed close, eyes wide as she watched the exchange.
“Is he a half demon?” Violet whispered.
Quinn turned to Violet. “Probably. It's not like they wear a sign.” Quinn turned back to the bouncer. “When are you opening up for the public?
“Seven.” The bouncer eyed them both suspiciously.
He hesitated, not really clear on the rules for what information he was supposed to say and what he wasn't supposed to let anyone know. “It's private,” he said again, hedging his bets.
“Maybe we could get invited?” Violet whispered, never having been to a strip club before.
“Like, private how? Do I have to pay a membership fee?” Quinn asked.
Thick eyebrows furrowed. “No. You have to be part of the stag party.”
“Oh is that all.” Quinn had no idea what a stag party was.
She took out the wad of cash Alvera had given her, which was becoming lighter. She took out two 100's. “I think this looks like our stag invites.”
“Uh.” He blinked. “Those aren't the invites.” But then understanding dawned in his eyes. “Oh!” He reached out for them. “Yes, they are.” Behind Quinn, Violet giggled a bit.
“Thanks so much.” Quinn herded Violet inside.
“If he's a half-demon, he's not very bright is...” Violet's voice trailed off as her eyes nearly popped out of her head seeing the strippers dancing. “Uh.... oh...”
Quinn snorted, part of her feeling somewhat better for corrupting Violet in someway.
“Remember to breath,” she told her before heading to the bar to get a drink.
“But...” Violet swallowed as one of the women on the stage did something that would be hard for a Ballerina to pull off. “Naked,” she mumbled.
“Yep. That's why it's a strip club.” Quinn smiled at the bartender. “Whiskey, please.” She placed a ten down. “And a coke for my friend.”
“Hey, welcome back. Didn't know you were part of the stag party.” The bartender laughed, pouring up the whiskey and then the glass of coke for Violet. “She old enough to be in here?”
“I'm twenty two.” Violet mumbled, eyes on the stage.
Giving them both a grin, the bartender nodded towards the stages. “You're favorite's not up on stage yet. Dianna should be on soon though.”
“Dear Lord, you pay 400 for a lapdance and you never hear the end of it.” Quinn put down a 20 as a tip. “I'd appreciate it, if you would tell her Quinn would like to talk to her.”
Quinn sipped her drink, wondering what the hell she was doing. There was only a day and a half left and instead she was helping a very odd girl out wasting time and money. “Violet, close your mouth that woman doesn't have anything you don't.”
“But... I think I know her from dance class.” Violet blurted out. The bartender laughed, moving over to the end of the bar and picking up a phone to call the dressing room. “Hi, Dianna back there?”
A few whispered words later and she hung up, grinning. “Hey, big spender? Go on back, she'll meet you near the private dance rooms.”
Quinn nodded and looked at Violet, not certain if she should take her back or not. “Should I... will she be okay out here?”
“Sure, I'll keep an eye on the kid. Those guys up there are too entranced with the strippers to come over here anyway.” The bartender shooed Quinn away.
Quinn made her way to the private rooms. She hesitated; the stairs were right there she could go up and look around.
“Quinn.” Dianna, still in her street clothes, eased out of the back changing rooms. “You're early, couldn't stay away?”
“You have a way of making that difficult. To stay away that is.” Dianna smiled a little, although it didn't quite reach her eyes. “I'm just good that way. What can I do for you today Quinn?” It was becoming more and more difficult talking to Quinn when she wasn't fully Quinn.
Quinn's gazed wandered down and then up Dianna's body, she wanted her, wanted to crush her body against the other woman's. She took a ragged breath and a step back. “I have a problem, and I don't know why or how, but part of me tells me you can help me with the problem.”
It pissed Quinn off that she knew this without really knowing it.
“I'll try. What's the problem?” Two days of giving lapdances to strange and sometimes quite smelly men had taught Dianna a lot about self-control. She had managed not rip their heads off. That self-control kept her standing there, watching Quinn instead of what she wanted to do.
“Can you come out front? It's better if I show you.”
“I'm not supposed to see the customers dressed like this, ruins the illusion supposedly.” Dianna rolled her eyes, moving to the edge of the small hallway. “What is it?”
Quinn followed her. “There's a girl, a woman, I met. Well I thought I made her up, because I'm not certain what's real anymore.” Quinn shook her head, she was rambling. “Violet, that's her name. She's in trouble. Something about people calling her a witch and the church coming after her. The girl doesn't have a bad, evil bone in her body.” Quinn realized how close she was to Dianna. Again that same want went through her, yesterday she had denied herself but she wondered now if it would it be so bad to give in. Dianna obviously didn't mind, she did allow her to come back here.
Distracted by how close Quinn was standing, Dianna almost missed the young woman sitting at the bar. But she did a double take, her eyes widening in recognition as she realized who it was that Quinn had found.
“Blue?” Dianna whispered asking herself how it was possible, knowing it couldn't just be some sort of coincidence. Then the rest of the words penetrated and she turned to look at Quinn. “Wait, you said Violet's her name?”
“Yeah, Violet.” Quinn said. “How long until you're dancing for these idiots?
“Almost an hour until my first set, and then probably some lap dances.” Dianna had to work hard to keep the disgusted tone out of her voice. This wasn't the job she wanted and every day it was getting harder to enjoy. “Why?”
There was an angry set to Quinn's jaw. Quinn didn't like Dianna giving lap dances, it made it very hard not to commit murder. “So you have some time, we could hang out for a bit. If that's allowed?”
A man came in the backdoor, his skin was a deep brown color and his black hair was combed back. It was Jesus. “Ah, Dianna,” he said noticing her, a big smile on his face. Quinn didn't miss the muscle with him. “If you have a moment?”
Quinn decided to exit. “I'll find you after you're done tonight,” she said, quietly passing by Dianna, their bodies brushing against each other briefly before she was through the curtain.
“If you have a stalker I can have her removed, permanently.” Jesus didn't want anything to happen to his money-maker; word had it that Tony's down the street had lost a lot of business. His eyes flickered to where Quinn had exited. Something about her bothered him.
“She's just a friend.” Dianna covered quickly, moving into his line of view, with as pleasant a smile as she could muster. “You wanted something?” She leaned in to him, just enough to get his attention, cursing the interruption. Maybe Quinn would stay in the bar area with Violet, but she doubted it.
“A friend. Okay, I'll play along, but a friend doesn't spend 400 on a dance. As long as she's not thinking of carving you up, money is money.” Jesus took off his coat handing it to Hassiem. “You've got a talent, although I knew that. You've got word of mouth going and every night is busier than the next.” He fished around in his pocket and then drew out a wad of cash.
“This is a bonus for the good work.” Jesus knew that if you had talent you treated it right. You didn't beat the girls, you didn't sleep with them, you offered them medical and dental, and they stayed and they looked happy and healthy. Which made the men who's lives sucked come back because it gave them the illusion that a hot, happy woman wanted them.
Dianna blinked in surprise, automatically taking the wad of cash. For a strip club owner, Jesus wasn't a bad man. She, of anyone, would know if he was. “Thanks.” She slipped the cash into her back pocket. “I've got time before the next set.” Dianna nodded towards the bar. “My cousin's in town, mind if I show her to the hotel?”
“Just don't be late, Carlos is the police commissioner's son, him being happy goes a long way, especially the day before his wedding.” Jesus turned to go up the stairs. “Hell if your cousin moves like you do, maybe she wants a job.” He chuckled before continuing his ascent.
Quinn exited the short hallway annoyed. Instead of trying to get Dianna alone for a quickie she needed to be focused on her goal. He'd been right there. She gave a tight smile at Violet and then nodded for another drink.
“Enjoying the show?” she asked.
“I know two of the dancers, one of them tried out for the Ballet with me,” Violet said quickly, eyes wide as she watched the stage. “I think her name was Becky or something like that. The other one used to go to high school with me.”
“Okay.” Not the response Quinn had been expecting. “How does that make you feel? Seeing them here.”
Violet shook her head, blond hair getting in her face as she did. “They're very beautiful.” She whispered
“That's not what I asked Violet. How does it make you feel to see them up there?” She chuckled as Violet looked away embarrassed.
Quinn smiled at the bartender as a new drink was passed her way. Sipping it Quinn tried to think of somewhere to go. “Should probably get you lunch and then… I don't know. I've got work to do, so I should take you someplace you can be safe.” Quinn was tired. Her eyes hurt from the contacts and her ribs hurt from the beating Alvera had given her. “You can't come home with me my owner wouldn't like that.” Quinn downed the drink. “Tell Dianna I'll be back later once the little boys are done with their ritual from boyhood to manhood,” Quinn said to the bartender.
“You can tell her yourself,” the bartender said, nodding towards the side door.
Dianna strode towards them, gaining hoots and hollers from the men she passed who recognized the long dark haired beauty. “Hey Wanda.” Dianna gave the bartender a half-wave, grinning as she leaned up against the bar near Violet and Quinn. “Leaving already?” she asked, eyes flicking from Quinn to Violet and back.
“We were going to go get Miss Violet here some lunch and find a safe place for her while I did my master's bidding,” Quinn responded dryly. She set down her empty drink glass wishing somehow all the drinking would make her drunk but it didn't seem to get the job done. “Thought you had to work.” Quinn glared over Dianna's shoulder at a couple of young men who were approaching. They thought better of it and turned back around and sat down.
“I've got time.” Dianna looked hard at Violet but Violet just smiled hesitantly back.
”Here.” Dianna pulled a few bills off the wad that Jesus had given her and offered them to the younger human. “Go grab some food from the deli around the corner for us? We'll wait for you.”
Hesitantly, Violet took the offered money, looking to Quinn for approval first. “Okay. I'll be right back.” Dianna shook her head in amazement, Violet didn't seem to recognize her at all.
Quinn smiled. “Couldn't wait to get me all to yourself.” She chuckled as they headed for the door, placing her hand on the small of Dianna's back possessively.
Dianna brushed off Quinn's hand as soon as they were in the private dance room. “Where did you meet her?” she asked, eyes intent as she turned on Quinn.
Quinn scowled not liking the brush off. “I ran into her.” She tried to remember. “She's a dancer. Something happened.” Her memories were slipping away again. “Can you help her out or not?” Quinn finished, arms crossed over her chest.
“Of course I'll help her out.” Dianna growled, stalking around the small room that was swiftly becoming one of her least favorite places. Except for her time with Quinn, every other encounter had been painful here. “You just ran into her? Do you know how crazy that sounds? The entire population of New York city and you just ran into her?” She paused by the chair her clients sat in. “Do you remember her? At all? You've met her before, she called herself Blue.”
“I just... yes, I ran into her she was in trouble.” Quinn tried to think but it was frustrating. “Ask her I don't remember. I remember you and the fact I had a brother but everyday things get more vague. You want me to be the person I was. She's dead, so save us both some pain and give it up and go home. Take Blue or Violet with you,” Quinn snarled back. “Do you know how hard it is to watch these men go to the curtain and flash cash? I know they're asking for you. I want to... I want to kill them, just rip their tiny dicks off, or shove my hand into their chest... I understand lust, and… I understand possessiveness, but I don't get this. I don't even feel this way about Alvera.”
“Good.” Dianna moved closer, grabbing Quinn's arm and holding her there when she thought the woman would leave. “That's good.” Dianna had to get a grip because apparently she was the only one with all her marbles right now. “Don't you think I'd rather dance for you instead of them?” She had taken to fantasizing that it was Quinn sitting there during her dances, it made it easier.
Dianna sighed. “I don't have time for a dance with you though, not before the kid comes back with food. Come back tonight?”
Quinn nodded. “I'll be back tonight. Tonight, and tomorrow, and then someone has to die, maybe me. You have to stop distracting me.” It was almost a plea. Then Quinn couldn't help herself, she kissed Dianna brutally, possessively, before she eased back, the kiss becoming more gentle unaware she was even doing it.
Dianna returned the kiss as hard as she could, needing this connection with what was left of Quinn. “You're not going to die,” she whispered, holding Quinn's head in her hands, trying to force the human to believe her. “We're going to get you out of there.”
Dianna had hoped that Lauren and Blue were safe, together, but that didn't appear to be the case.
A thread of unease slithered through her mind. If Blue, or Violet, whatever her name was, was here, then where was Lauren?
Quinn smiled, but didn't believe her. Alvera would just call her back. “It's either me or Jesus.” Quinn pulled away blinking, wondering why she had told Dianna that. A throat was cleared and Quinn turned seeing a red-faced Violet.
“Come on Vi, surely you've seen two people kiss before?”
“Well… I mean…. Yes.” Violet was looking anywhere but at the two of them and Dianna smirked, stepping a little further away from Quinn's personal space.
“Come on kid, let's eat and we'll get you settled at the hotel.” Dianna shot Quinn a look. “I need to be on stage soon.”
“Give me your room key and the address and room number and I'll drop her off after we eat,” Quinn offered. “Come on show me were we can eat cause it's a little awkward eating in here.” They'd had sex in here, of that Quinn was certain, even if the details were fuzzy.
“There's a bench across the street.” There wasn't any place to eat at the club without a customer trying to be friendly and Dianna didn't want that, especially if Quinn got homicidal.
With a groan of happiness Quinn took out her contacts and washed her face. Lunch had been an odd affair, domestic and comforting, she'd even given a real smile at something Violet had said. But now, far away from Dianna, coldness seeped back into those empty places. With both Violet and Dianna nearby she felt almost human again. Violet just had a soft, healing energy about her, and Dianna, well that she had no clue about.
“You'll be fine here. Just take a shower and nap, Dianna will be back before you know it.” Quinn needed to go see a man about some guns.
There was a lurch in her stomach and Quinn bent over the toilet throwing up lunch and black blood. She wondered if Alvera had hurt her worse than she'd originally thought. She shook it off, it didn't matter. Quinn washed her face and rinsed out her mouth. “I want you to do what Dianna tells you, within reason, I don't think you'll be seeing me again.”
“You're sick.” Violet said softly from the other room, watching the door to the bathroom. “I thought you liked Dianna.”
“I do, but not in a healthy way, more in a demonic loveless sort of way. Besides I don't get to decide things for myself anymore. My Mistress does it for me. If she found out about you and Dianna she would tell me to kill you both I'm fairly certain.”
“I don't want you to go.” Violet watched Quinn move from the bathroom with worried eyes. “I don't know Dianna, I know you.”
“I'll try and come back tonight. Please trust me, Dianna will help you.” Quinn didn't like how off kilter this was making her feel.
“So I will see you again?” Violet lit up a bit with hope. “Promise?”
“I promise to do my best.” She reasoned that she had until Friday at midnight, so what was one more night?
“Okay.” Violet nodded. “I'll wait here. But...” She looked worried. “You are sick, I think it's getting worse.”
“I don't know how it can get worse, I don't have a soul.”
“Something's killing you.” Violet was certain of that.
Quinn thought that was probably impossible, but if she didn't kill Jesus by Friday at midnight she'd be dead anyways. “I'll be back. I'll bring food. Stay out of trouble.”
“I'll stay.” Violet promised. “I don't think I have anywhere else to go.” That was the worse thought she'd had so far.
Quinn nodded and as she opened the door she hesitated before turning and giving Violet a hug. “It's going to be okay,” she said, knowing that for Violet at least, it probably would be. Then she left shutting the door behind her.
Alone in the hotel room, Violet stared at the phone set next to the bed. She hadn't talked to her parents since before the disaster at the ballet hall and there was a faint flicker of hope still.
With trembling hands she picked up the handset and dialed a phone number from memory.
Someone picked up on the second ring, swallowed and uttered “Hello?” Their voice catching.
Violet knew it wasn't her mother , of course not, her mother never answered the home phone. “Hi Carra, is Mother there?”
The maid paused, slowly answering. “She is in the den, I will get her.”
Violet held her breath, waiting for her Mother's voice.
“Where are you? You tell me this instant. You're father and I are very upset. You promised this wouldn't happen again.”
Violet closed her eyes. “I'm sorry,” she whispered.
“Everyone is saying you're a witch! It's intolerable. Do you know what that looks like for us? You're father is furious, he's had to go into explain to the firm's Partners that it's all one big misunderstanding.”
“I know mother,” she whispered again, barely breaking into her Mother's tirade.
“And the Met committee will not be happy with it either. They might even try to take away my seat on the fundraising committee; you know how devastating that would be.”
Violet simply nodded, eyes tearing.
“But that will all be over with as soon as we get the Church to validate that you're not a witch. A simple exorcism should suffice I suppose. The Bishop says we can have it taken care of this weekend. Friday's out of the question of course, you're father has that appointment with the Partners that simply can't be called off.”
“Exorcism?” Violet's eyes widened. She'd heard stories about that, everyone had. The inquisition ran those things and people never came out the other side the same as they went in.
“Of course.” Her mother's voice was sharp. “Then we can put this nonsense all behind us. We'll discuss the details when you get home.”
Violet stared, dazed at the hotel room around her. “No.”
“What? Violet, don't be stubborn, this is for your own good.”
Angry tears streaked down Violet's face, her blue eyes watery as she firmed her jaw. “No. It's for your own good!”
“Why you little… Dear, how dare you raise your voice to me? I've brought you up better than that. You'll do as we tell you. We know best.”
“No.” Violet stood up. “I'm not doing what you want just so you and daddy can tell everyone that their daughter isn't a witch. You haven't even asked what happened! You don't care what happened as long as it doesn't ruin your chances at becoming the Met chairwoman!”
“Violet! You will not….”
“I will!” Violet yelled, slamming the phone down on its cradle. Then she flung herself on the bed, sobbing.
Quinn went back to the club, there was nothing else for her to do. She watched the girls dance and chatted up the bartender and some waitresses but she was adamant that she was not getting another lap dance at least not tonight. Jesus never came in the front door, he never came on the floor. He watched from security cameras and had his bouncer bring people to him.
They probably exited through the back door, that fucking mysterious backdoor that led somewhere she still couldn't work out.
In the back of the strip joint, among all of the pretty girls who were laughing and chatting as they prepared for their set, Dianna worked. For days now she'd been going through phone numbers, steadily crossing numbers off of the list she'd compiled before. It wasn't much, but asking Quinn for this particular number was out of the question.
“Hey Di, you're up in thirty.” One of the girls yelled as she passed on the way to shower off the oil she'd used in her act.
Distractedly, Dianna waved in understanding, rubbing her temple as she dialed another number. She wondered how many more churches was she going to have to call.
“Hi, I'm looking for a father Quinn?” she said as soon as the phone was picked up on the other end. Her pen was poised over the paper of a yellow legal pad, ready to strike the number off and move onto the next. If she hurried she could get at least another dozen numbers off the list before she had to get ready.
“We have one, but miss you have to realize this is Massachusetts we have a plethora of Quinn's.”
“I'm painfully aware of how many Quinn's there are in Massachusetts.” Dianna grumped. “Look, I need to talk to a Father Quinn who has a daughter that's a police Detective called Maggie.
”“Oh, well then you've reached the right place. Hold one second.”
“I have? I mean, thanks.” Dianna circled the phone number, amazed she'd gotten somewhere.
A few minutes later a slightly slurred voice came on the line. “This is Father Quinn how may I help you?”
“Father Quinn, you have a daughter and a son? The daughter's name is Maggie and the son's name is Caine?” Dianna asked, just to be positive.
“Yes, those would be my children. Is something wrong?”
“Is something wrong!?” Dianna gave a short bitter laugh. “When's the last time you've talked to your daughter?”
The line went quiet. After a moment Father Quinn's now considerably shaky voice came back on the line. “I can't help you.”
“I don't need your help, your daughter does.” Dianna growled. “She sold her soul to a demon because of you. She's going to die if you don't own up to what you've done. Sin's of the Father and all that.”
“I've repented my sins. I did not ask her to do that. There was no reason for her to. Her soul was never in danger,” he said defensively, he went to take a swallow from his flask. “The church has taken me back, she can't touch me.”
“She did it because Alvera had her fucking son you bastard.” Dianna yelled, turning away as everyone in the room froze and stared at her. Ignoring them she cupped her hand over the phone. “She did it because of the deal you made with Alvera, this is your burden, not hers.”
“I don't know who you think you are, but I don't want you calling this number ever again.” Father Quinn slammed the phone down. Sitting, he clutched his rosary and cried. “Father Quinn is something wrong?”
“No. No, nothings wrong just a sad story. Something we get too much of these days,” he said standing up. He nodded, passing Father Williams as he left the room.
Father Williams frowned, it had seemed to him like it had been something personal. The woman had clearly known about the old priest's daughter.
“Goddamnit!” Dianna swore, slamming the phone down so hard that the base cracked the plastic shattering. She cursed to herself, it had been her one good idea so far. Now she was back to finding a way to kill Alvera, and a half breed didn't stand much of a chance at killing a major Demoness on her own.
If Lauren had been there perhaps... but she wasn't and Dianna didn't know where to find her. Dianna decided that maybe it was time to try and see what Blue, or Violet, whatever her name was, could really remember.
“Dianna, ten minutes!” The bouncer called. Dianna got up grimly, going to get changed, the rest of the strippers staring after her wide-eyed.
“Dianna's here. You're certain?”
The blob like thing nodded. “I was at the club, I watched them. Dianna is working there as a stripper. They were talking and kissing I couldn't hear what they were saying. Quinn also seems to have found a tagalong, a young woman, blond, looks scared.”
Alvera scowled. “Some people just aren't suited to sell their souls. Not like you, Thomas. They waste away under the weight of their actions despite being unfettered by their soul; I'm beginning to think Maggie is one of these people. Even without a soul as a moral compass she is picking up strays in need. What about my needs Thomas? And Dianna, well this is just unacceptable.”
“Do you want me to take care of it?” The blob asked. He had not been happy to be ignored while Alvera trained her new Reaper.
“Not yet. Maggie has until midnight tomorrow, then you may deal with the issue.”
“You think she will follow through. She and that Succubus bitch are plotting to hurt you.”
“Enough, Maggie is bound by our contract to protect me and you will do no such harm to Dianna not until we know what game she's playing.”
The blob hissed, upset, but oozed away from his Mistress.
Dianna took her time walking towards the hotel, deep in thought as she did. It was very late, or maybe very early in the morning depending on who you asked, and she'd been dancing for the better part of ten hours now. Even with her stamina the constant days were making her weary.
That wasn't what had her so preoccupied though. Her best hope of getting Quinn's soul back had turned out to be useless. Maggie's father had proven to be as spineless as Maggie was honorable, and Dianna ground her teeth in fury at the man. How could he hide behind the church while his children suffered like this?
Now she had a real problem. The best way to kill Alvera was to get Lauren, but she didn't know where Lauren was, and Violet wasn't going to be much help. Of course the best way to find Lauren was to get Quinn to use her contacts and find out if she'd been taken by the DA people.
But Quinn wouldn't do that because she was a Ridden and Alvera controlled her. UGH! Dianna thought.
It was enough to drive a half-demon crazy.
And they were running out of time. Tomorrow, in fact tonight, Quinn would have to kill the club owner.
Or Alvera would probably kill Quinn.
Things just kept getting better and better, Dianna thought with a snarl. Maybe Violet would remember something when she woke up, Dianna could only hope. Otherwise she'd have to have a talk with Jesus, which she would rather avoid.
It was hard to convince someone to let themselves get killed after all.
A bunch of shapes pealed away from the darkness. Thick men with heavy foreheads and misshapen knuckles. “A pretty thing like you shouldn't be walking alone at night.” One said.
”Especially, Jesus's new money-maker. We've seen you dance you've got a skill.” Another said.
”Oh for the love of…” Dianna sighed, why hadn't she been paying more attention to her surroundings? “Listen boys, I really don't have time for this, and I'm tired. Can we just pick this up on another day?”
“We're all busy, lady, its a busy world. Our boss sent us to see if you'd like to switch employers. Terms are easy, go work for Tony or we make sure you don't dance again.” There were four of them coming up to surround her. “What do you say?”
If she'd been a full demon, she would have simply torn them apart and be done with it. Since she wasn't, Dianna smiled and moved towards the first one who'd spoken, since he was closest to her. She focused her entire attention on him, smiling wider as his pupils dilated in response to charms. “I say…” she purred, right hand balling into a fist. “Go to hell.” Dianna punched, downwards.
A full demon's hand would have gone straight through his pelvis. Hers wasn't that strong, but she did feel something crunch under the impact between his legs and his eyes rolled up into his skull as he folded over.
Then Dianna ran, the three others pelting after her.
Quinn watched them run down the street like hounds after a rabbit. She frowned and then ran across the street after them. Quinn was faster than she use to be, which was a good thing because Dianna and the three guys chasing her weren't slow. She tackled the guy closest to her and they went down in a tangle of limbs. Once they were done moving she was on him, fists moving like pistons into his face until her shirt was covered in blood splatter, then she was up and down the street trying to catch the other two.
They'd more or less cornered Dianna by then, pressing their advantage against her near a closed apartment store. Dianna had caught one of them in the face with a fist, shattering his nose, but they were seasoned thugs, used to what they did, and with fists the size of sledgehammers they beat her.
A swift uppercut caught Dianna in the jaw and she fell back against the security fencing, small explosions lighting up her vision.
Quinn growled a low dangerous noise that filled up the night it made the hairs on the guy's necks stand on end and they turned around. “Shit.” One guy grunted out seeing red eyes. “Fucking demon-touched.”
The other guy gave a squeal of pain as Quinn's foot came down on his knee. Then the world went black as she smashed her elbow into his already ruined nose.
Quinn looked at the last guy, teeth barred. “Come on!” she growled at him.
He shook his head and took off running.
Quinn spat out another wad of blood and phlegm and looked around for any more danger, but the only thing left was Dianna.
Dianna looked up from the ground, wiping one hand across her lip to clear the blood from her nose. “You following me now?” She gritted her teeth, managing to get up to one knee.
Quinn went over holding out a hand. “You want me to apologize, or just go back in time so those guys can have their way with you while I keep walking? Or maybe you're pissed I didn't stick around for a lap dance?”
“It hasn't been a good day,” was all Dianna answered as she took the hand up she was offered. It felt good to touch Quinn, even through the stubborn ache in her chest and the more recent additional pains from the punches and kicks. “Might not be dancing tomorrow though.” She grimaced.
Quinn just grunted and examined Dianna's face, her touch gentle as her red eyes took in the split lip and swelling jaw. “Some ice and you'll be fine. Tomorrow's my last night; I'd like a lap dance for the road. Come on I'll escort you to the hotel. Maybe I'll help you shower, just you know, make sure you don't have a concussion.”
“You want a lap dance tonight, or tomorrow?” Dianna teased the pain easing as she kept a hold of Quinn's hand. Was this what having part of a soul was like? She was definitely getting soft. There was a time when she would have tried to kill those thugs instead of outrun them.
“Both. Although I'd like more than a dance, but you have that effect on people. Sorry I was late, I had an appointment. I thought I'd be back before the place closed.” Quinn paused looking around and then pulled them across the street to pick up the grocery bag she'd dropped. “I got some food from some middle eastern deli that was open late for you and Vi.”
“It must have been open really late.” Dianna's eyebrow arched at hearing again what seemed to be Quinn's nickname for Violet, but she let it go, for now. “You really don't remember ever meeting her do you?” Dianna would have to see what she could do to accommodate Quinn, since tomorrow looked like it might be their last day.
Quinn's eyes got a far away look as she tried to think. “I... don't... think... I remember boys squealing like pigs circling her. I stepped in, I don't know why. That's the first time I remember her, even that is hard to grasp, my memory is getting worse,” she admitted.
“Not a good sign,” Dianna said quietly as the doorman got up to open the front doors of the hotel for them. This late at night Dianna thought they must make an unusual sight, although he didn't seem to be particularly interested in their story. “Violet will probably be asleep. Thank God the room's a suite.” Dianna didn't want to share a bed with Violet, she didn't trust herself to.
“I should go, I need a clean shirt, and stuff,” Quinn said, but she didn't let go of Dianna's hand and kept following her to the room. “Although I still have your room key so I guess I should at least give it back.”
“Keep it.” Dianna pulled out another one from her pocket and unlocked the door. “I got a spare.” She didn't let go of Quinn's hand either, pulling her into the room and closing the door behind them quietly. The door to one of the bedrooms was closed, so she guessed that Violet was sleeping.
A glance told Dianna it was well past three AM, almost four in the morning by then. “Shower,” she declared, taking the bag from Quinn and leaving it on the small kitchen table as they passed.
“Okay.” Quinn said grinning. She let go of Dianna's hand to start on the buttons of her blood-splattered shirt, kicking off her shoes.
Dianna shook her head, grinning despite herself and the pain she was in. It was obvious where Quinn's mind was and it amused her to think back on how Quinn had resisted her advances for all those years before. The amusement faded as she realized again how much Quinn had changed.
Turning, she left Quinn where she was stripping, heading for the bathroom to start the shower. She needed a few moments of space between them, enough space to think without being distracted.
Quinn took off her pants and looked up, frowning when she found Dianna gone; she had expected an audience while she undressed. Hearing the shower she made her way to the open door and looked at Dianna, who had such a sad look on her face. “Are you sure you want me to stay?”
”Yes. I just have to remind myself you're not all of my Quinn.” There was a large piece missing. Turning, Dianna shook herself out of those depressing thoughts, grinning as she realized Quinn had stripped. “We have to be quiet,” she said, fingers pulling at her own clothes, careful of the bruises that were forming.
”I don't know, could be educational. I could be wrong but I'm pretty certain Violet's a virgin.” Yet Quinn stepped into the bathroom and shut the door. She paused seeing her reflection in the mirror. She reached out touching her reflection on her shoulders. There use to be something there, a mark. She frowned. There were scars and some bruises, a bullet hole shaped scar on her bicep, a bruise on her ribs from Alvera but something was missing from her shoulders.
Quinn looked into her own red eyes and found them empty, she thought they might have been blue once upon a time.
“Shhhh.” Dianna slid arms around her, using a hand to turn Quinn's face away from the mirror. “None of that. No time now for that,” she whispered, pulling Quinn under the hot shower. There wasn't time for regrets, not if they were going to survive the next day.
She set about distracting Quinn with her considerable skills, holding the other woman up against the water warmed tiles as the hot water warmed their bodies.
Later sated and sleepy in the luke-warm water, Quinn gently washed Dianna's hair. “I like it long, just don't dye it red again,” Quinn said absently rinsing the shampoo out and running her fingers through it to make sure it hadn't tangled.
Quinn leaned forward her breasts brushing against Dianna's back. She kissed Dianna's shoulder blade and bit her neck. “All done.” Quinn was tempted as her fingers trailed, to let them delve into the Dianna's intimate places, but she pulled away with a pinch to Dianna's perfect ass.
Quinn turned off the water and opened the curtain with a chuckle. The floor was covered in water.
“We weren't quiet,” Dianna said as she watched Quinn get out; wishing the warmth in Quinn's eyes would last longer than it was going to. “We weren't even trying to be quiet at the end there.” She stepped out after her, taking her own towel and watching with appreciation as Quinn dried herself.
“I believe you were in the shower with me, you're as guilty as I am.” She chuckled again and looked at Dianna's hair as she dried her own. “I like your hair long.”
“So keep it long, but no red. Got it. I rather thought the red hair was nice on me.” Dianna knew it was a conversation about trivial things, but she wanted trivial things for a while.
“Purple, would look good on you; daring, powerful, and regal.” Quinn could feel herself getting turned on again just looking at Dianna. “You're lucky I'm exhausted.” Part of her screamed to just work through it and take Dianna like the thing she was. Quinn shook her head frowning. “Can I stay here? Can I sleep with you tonight?” Alvera hadn't summoned her and with Alvera there were nightmares and she really didn't sleep anymore.
“I'm not letting you go anywhere.” There weren't many hours of night left anyway. Dianna grinned, kissing Quinn hard and fast as she passed her, enjoying the tingle of arousal she could feel from the other woman. It was a vast improvement over the complete lack of feelings she'd felt lately.
Towel wrapped around her Dianna stopped, blinking in surprise as she realized the kitchen area wasn't empty.
“Umm, hi.” Violet waved weakly, a plate of half eaten food in front of her. “I was hungry and… well.. the… noise woke me up.” Violet was blushing violently and Dianna laughed as she glanced back at Quinn. Still chuckling she went to her room, intent on finding some clothes while Violet looked anywhere but at them.
“Sorry Vi, we'll try and be quieter.” Although Quinn doubted there would be a next time. “I see you found the food.” Quinn wrapped the towel tighter around her realizing she really didn't have anything to change into. Somehow she thought Violet might be even more upset about the blood stained shirt.
“You're hurt.” Violet whispered, studying her food intently. “Did you get into a fight?” It hadn't sounded like a fight, but it was hard to tell.
“Ah... um... earlier. Out on street, some guys didn't like Dianna. It's only my hands, see, just a swollen knuckle and a broken pinky,” she said trying to reassure the young woman.
Violet looked up at that. “And all of the blood?” She gestured at the shirt that lay on the floor.
“Would belong to somebody else.” Quinn kicked the shirt into the room Dianna had gone into.
“Hey!” Dianna's voice came from inside as the bloody shirt narrowly missed her.
Violet giggled and looked back down at her food. “I'm sorry your hands hurt. I didn't mean to listen into....” She waved at the bathroom, flushing again.
Quinn laughed. “Were you being naughty there Vi?”
“No!” She looked up, eyes wide. “I was being good. I didn't see anything and I tried to hum it out, but you were very loud.”
Dianna laughed, calling from the other room. “Quinn was very loud.”
Quinn rolled her eyes. “Relax Vi, I was teasing you.”
She moved next to Violet and reached into the bag pulling out two guns. “Those aren't for eating.” She'd completely forgotten about them in the moment.
“Oh. I was wondering about those. Are you in trouble?” Violet looked from her over to Dianna, blinking as she came out wearing a white t-shirt and silken bottoms for sleeping.
“Probably,” Quinn said moving past Dianna and into her room. Quinn set the guns down and then looked through the closet. Finding a robe she put that on.
When she returned Violet was pressing her fingers against Dianna's ribs, while Dianna watched her with an expression bordering on suspicion. “I think one's broken,” Violet muttered. Dianna's looked at Quinn, perplexed. “Is she always this... ah!” Dianna blinked, looking back down as the pain suddenly eased and Violet grinned.
“Odd... yes, but its endearing. Violet what did you do to Dianna?” Quinn kept her voice calm and curious, part of her not happy Vi was touching Dianna.
“I think I fixed her.” Violet pulled her hands away, eyes bright as she looked at Quinn. “I think that's what I did at the dance hall, with the girls leg. Maybe I can heal people.”
Behind her Dianna cautiously bent, pleasantly surprised when that didn't give any pain. “Of course you can,” she muttered. It was becoming annoying to be the only person running at full metal capacity.
“Mmm, then that's a good thing.” Quinn reached out ruffling Violet's hair and then moved her out of the way. She pressed a hand against Dianna's side. “And we just did all that in the bathroom. Why didn't you say anything?”
“Didn't want to.” Dianna glanced away. The pain had been worth it. “You want some food? I'm starving.” She hid a yawn. “And then bed.”
Quinn leaned in kissing Dianna's cheek. “Sounds good.” She turned back around and rooted around in the bag pulling out a gyro, sniffing it, and then something that looked like rice with nuts and raisins. “As I said it was middle eastern, I think this is lamb.” Quinn handed them to Dianna. “And rice maybe.” Violet had eaten the pita bread and humus.
“Gyro.” Dianna licked her lips. She was suddenly starving as she bit into the gryo, giving a moan that made Violet turn red again.
“So you two...” Violet said, slowly.
Quinn grabbed a glass and opened the minibar pulling out a small bottle of whiskey and with a crack twisted the top off and dumped it into her glass. She sat down on the couch. “Us two what?”
“Umm, are together?” Violet looked from one to the other, relieved to see Dianna's smile.
“Dianna's the only thing I remember. The only one I desire more than my Mistress, even if that desire isn't healthy and is improbable.” It would end as bitterly and as stupidly as Romeo and Juliet, Quinn was sure.
Dianna reached over, running her fingers through the base of Quinn's scalp, after making sure her hand was clean. “Let's just worry about tomorrow for now.” She pointed at Violet. “You're staying here, no wondering around tomorrow.”
“But...” Violet closed her mouth at the look from Dianna. “Okay.”
“Violet, people wanting to hurt you, calling you a witch or whatever for being able to heal people, is just stupid. I want you to promise me you'll listen to Dianna. She'll get you someplace safe where you can be you. Okay?”
“Okay.” Violet looked down again, tears starting to form. “I called my parents. Mother wants me to have an exorcism.”
Across from her, Dianna sighed and rubbed her temple.
Quinn laughed at that, almost snorting her drink. “Of the three of us, Vi, you're the only one who doesn't need that.”
“Wouldn't do anything to me.” Dianna said, primly. “Can't change what I am.”
Quinn considered that. “Point. Vi, you're fine, healing is a gift not anything demonic.”
“You're sure?” Violet looked up pleadingly. “Because everyone else thinks it's a bad thing.”
“Yes, I'm sure.” Quinn sipped her drink.
That seemed to reassure Violet and her shoulder's sagged a little. “Okay.” Violet surprised herself with a nearly jaw cracking yawn. “Go sleep, we'll wake you up before we go.” Dianna said, finishing off her Gyro, giving Violet a push towards the other bedroom.
“Night Vi.” Quinn called out.
“Little Vi has some hidden talents.“ Dianna murmured, watching as she closed her door.
“You will help her?” Quinn asked finishing off her drink and setting the glass down.
“We'll help her.” Dianna corrected her, standing up and waiting for the Quinn to do the same.
Quinn doubted that, but she let it go. She got up looking at Dianna, eyebrow cocked in question. “Yes?”
“Bed. I think you said you wanted to sleep here right?” Dianna lifted an eyebrow.
Quinn blinked. “I did? I don't really sleep.”
“Then we'll not really sleep in the bed.” Dianna's lips curled up in a smile.
Quinn smiled and walked past Dianna on the way to the bedroom. “So what will we do?”
“I'm sure we'll think of something. Maybe you'll have a suggestion or two.” Dianna licked her lips, closing the door behind them.
Quinn slept a dreamless sleep. She snored softly next to Dianna as soft sunlight streamed in through the window, a naked leg thrown over the other woman's. Quinn's face was slack and relaxed something it very rarely was anymore. Serving Alvera was never a pleasant or restful thing.
Beside her Dianna kept a silent vigil, watching Quinn sleep, reveling in the connection that she felt again between them as they lay together. Even the dull pain in her chest seemed lighter like this and Dianna smiled sadly as Quinn twitched in her sleep, soothing only as Dianna stroked her naked side.
Dianna contemplated how everything had become so bad so quickly. She had always loved the life she had back at the Bar, and found it hard to understand why she was so suddenly determined to throw it all away for someone who would probably be dead soon. The idea of Quinn dying by Alvera's hand, or one of her demands, made the ache grow almost unbearably strong and Dianna quickly focused instead on the feel of the woman next to her.
“What have you done to me?” Dianna whispered. There were times when Dianna barely recognized herself anymore. Now was one such instance. She had never been tender like this before, she was the daughter of a succubus; she was someone who seduced people, had a fun night and then discarded them in the morning.
Quinn had disturbed that pattern, and Dianna wasn't sure how or why.
With a soft sigh she slid a hand over Quinn's hip, pulling on the leg that possessively pinned her to the bed, so it was even tighter against her, marveling that she had become such a willing prisoner.
The thing that truly terrified Dianna was how much she wanted the feeling to never end.
Quinn woke feeling rested, light was coming in from the window but her eyes couldn't focus well enough to let her read the clock. She felt warm skin pressed against hers, and as a result was less concerned about the time. Rolling over Quinn kissed the skin nearest her lips. She smiled as she felt Dianna's breathe hitch. “Morning, or something.”
“Almost afternoon.” Dianna's eyes closed at the press of lips. If Dianna tried hard enough she could pretend they were still back at the Bar. “You feel good.” She pulled Quinn closer, loath to leave the nest they'd made for themselves during the night.
“I hope so there's not much of me you haven't felt by this point,” Quinn joked. “How much time till you need to be at work?” she asked, moving until she was above Dianna, her red eyes searching the other woman's.
There wouldn't be any dancing for Dianna tonight; she could feel the bruises on her face. Still, Dianna needed to talk to Jesus as soon as he got to the club, which meant she'd be in earlier than she wanted to.
Dianna gasped at Quinn's sudden move, hands coming up to stroke Quinn's back. “Three, why?”
Quinn nearly purred. Dianna's hands were hot where they touched her. “I feel different the more time I spend with you. I have to wonder if this was what I was like before Alvera.” Quinn shook her head and then grinned. “Forgive me, I'm being sentimental this morning.”
But it was true; lust was loosing its roughness, almost becoming something else. “When we have sex you rarely let me touch you or give anything back? I have to wonder if it's me or if you just like having that much control.” Quinn dipped her body and with a cruel focus moved it so it just brushed against Dianna's, her breasts sliding against Dianna's skin until they were breast to breast. Then she kissed along Dianna's collarbone before starting to move lower.
Dianna shivered under that touch, trying to press harder against her and groaning in disappointment as Quinn moved away. “I can feel your pleasure,” Dianna admitted breathlessly. “Touching you seems to bring you back to me.” She swallowed, realizing that she would say anything to get Quinn to touch her more.
“You refuse to accept that the Maggie Quinn you knew, before all of this, is gone. I tell you, I show you, but you continue to have hope.” Quinn mused before taking a nipple into her mouth. She teased it and then bit it. For a second Quinn's fingers tensed and she wanted to do something horrible to Dianna, spread her out beneath her, make her understand that all was hopeless; make her go away. But instead Quinn relaxed and moved to the other breast, teasing it with lips and tongue while fingers played in Dianna's wetness.
Done teasing that nipple Quinn thrust two fingers into Dianna looking up into her face. “I've done horrible things, and I have more horrible things yet to do. Even by the standards of a half-demon they are bad, let alone to the rest of the world.” Quinn moved up kissing Dianna's lips never stopping the strong thrusts in and out. “Let us find out if a succubus can experience her own pleasure without tasting someone else's.” Quinn breathed against Dianna as her thumb flicked the woman's hard clit.
Dianna came, hard, hips thrusting up to meet those relentless fingers, mouth gasping in a silent scream of pleasure as her eyes almost rolled back in her head. For a long moment she trembled like that, only finally collapsing back onto the bed under Quinn. Shuddering she reached down between them, grabbing that insistent digit.
“Stop, please.” Dianna gasped. “I can't.” There was a limit to Dianna's endurance and Quinn had just found it.
Quinn removed her fingers and collapsed down on top of Dianna. “You were beautiful right then – that moment of release,” she said quietly.
There was a timid knock on the door. “Are you guys up? Can we get food?” Violet asked.
Quinn chuckled silently.
Groaning, Dianna shook her head. Timing was everything with that girl. “We're up,” she said loud enough to be heard through the door. “We'll be out soon, then we'll get food and…” She trailed off realizing then that Quinn would have to kill Jesus.
Quinn got up sensing the change in Dianna's mood. “I should go.” She looked around but only found the bloody shirt, the rest of her clothes were out in the suite. She grabbed the robe sliding it over her frame.
“Go where?” Dianna sat up, not quite ready to get dressed though.
The guns were on the dresser, a reminder of what needed to be done today. “Get some new clothes for a start.” Alvera still hadn't summoned her, which was odd, she usually had her check in obsessively.
Dianna stood finally, gathering her own clothes. “Here, this should fit.” They were at least roughly the same height, although Quinn's chest was considerably smaller. “And then what, you just go out and kill Jesus?”
Quinn looked at the clothes and then put them on. “Pretty much.”
“How are you going to get to him? He never goes anywhere without bodyguards, and you can't get up to the offices above the strip club.” Dianna pulled on her own jeans, thoughts racing.
Quinn's jaw clenched. “I have it covered, don't worry about it,” she snapped.
“Is that Quinn code for I'll make it up when I get there?” Dianna drawled. “Wait.” She held up a hand as she saw red eyes narrow in anger. “What if I got you into the offices?”
“Don't get involved in this. I want you to take Violet and go back...” She searched her memory, “to your bar.” She blinked. “You own a bar and your stripping for Jesus?”
“I needed the money.” The old Quinn would have spotted that for the lie it was, but Dianna could already feel Quinn's emotions cooling and turning dark. “I can get you into the office.” A new plan formed in her mind. Dianna hoped Violet was as good at healing as she thought.
“If this doesn't work I don't want you and Vi in the middle of this.” Quinn was adamant. “Don't worry. After saving his biggest money-maker from a beat down, I'm sure Jesus will invite me up for a thank you. So you see I have an in.”
Dianna's lips twitched as she mentally cursed. She could forget her first plan, but she'd have to come up with another on the fly. “I need to go to the club anyway, tell them I'm not working tonight.”
Quinn looked at her. “Fine.”
Snatching a jacket from the dresser, Dianna muttered as she opened the door. “I wasn't asking for permission.” She eyed Violet, who backed away quickly from the doorway.
Quinn stuck a gun in the front of the pants she was wearing and then pulled the shirt down. “I suppose this means no good-bye kiss.” She grinned and sauntered out of the room.
Ignoring her, Dianna tossed a jacket over at Violet. “Come on kid, we're going for some breakfast.” She glanced over at Quinn, eyes narrowing.
“Jesus gets to the club in the late afternoon,” Dianna said by way of an answer. “You won't get in before then anyway, private show again this afternoon.” She gave a completely insincere grin back at Quinn.
Violet looked back and forth, confused by the undercurrents in the room.
“Okay, thanks for the tip.” Quinn looked at Vi. “Stay out of trouble. I'll see you around.” She headed for the door sensing she'd out-stayed her welcome.
“Be careful.” Dianna's words were barely a whisper as Quinn reached the door.
Quinn paused and looked at her before leaving, shutting the door softly.
“Okay, listen.” Dianna held onto Violet's shoulder, making her stop just outside the back door of the club. “You're staying inside the dressing area. The girls will just love chatting to you while they get dressed. You don't go anywhere, just stay right there. I have to go have a come-to-Jesus talk with my boss.”
Violet rolled her eyes at the horrible joke.
“Hopefully we won't need you for anything, but if we do...” They might need a healer quickly if things went bad. Seeing Violet suddenly worry, Dianna sighed. “I'm sorry Violet. I promise, none of them are going to hurt you.” She squeezed Violet's shoulder. “I just need to figure out a way to save Quinn.”
“I...I like the idea of saving Quinn,” Violet said. Then in a quiet voice she added, “She's dying.”
“She is?” Dianna frowned. “How do you... never mind.” Dianna shook her head at the stupid question. “Can you heal her?” she asked instead, hopeful.
Violet shook her head. “Not something that can be healed. She needs her soul back.”
“I know you don't remember, but we've met before, you and I. You have to trust me that we need to save Quinn in order to save someone else that's important to both of us.” Dianna could see Violet was about to ask questions and just shook her head. “No time now to go into it. Quinn's brother told me I still had a shard of her soul and I think he might have actually been telling the truth.”
“A shard can help her.” Violet's eyes became glassy. “But it reaches out on a dead connection, so you'll constantly be hit with the feedback loop when it has nothing to connect to. She'll feel it a bit, and it will make her better by being near but it can't save her.”
“And it hurts like hell anytime I'm near her.” Dianna's grin was crooked. “So we have to get the full thing back from Alvera. Will you help me?”
Violet nodded. “She helped me twice. Some boys...” She swallowed not really wanting to talk about it. “She helped me.”
“Good.” Dianna squeezed her shoulder again. “After this is done maybe you can tell me the story. And maybe you can see if you can take this shard out of me, I think it's changed me more than I ever thought it would.” Dianna typed in her access code, opening the security door to the women's changing room beyond.
Jesus drummed his fingers on his desk, he was not happy. He was especially not happy when someone hurt his girls. He could be a big shot all he wanted but without dancers he was just some brown skinned punk with a demon as a dad. That got him nothing. The reason that he was his daddy's favorite was because he asked for nothing – He was a self-made man.Jesus picked up the phone watching Dianna on the video screens. “Tell Dianna to come up please.”
“Thanks Bruno.” Dianna said as she stepped past the bouncer and into the boss's office. She was actually going to miss this man when they left; he'd been a decent boss. “You wanted to see me?” she asked, striding towards the desk.
Jesus looked at her face. “I understand you were accosted this morning on your way home from work?”
“Your competitors seem upset about the business I'm bringing you.” Dianna searched through the words carefully, not certain yet what to say.
Jesus led her downstairs and opened up the door that only he and his bodyguards used. The door opened up to more steps, and he led her down to his private garage; this was how he got in and out of the club with no one seeing him. Two chairs were lined up on the concrete, two people, one in each chair tied to it. Dark spots decorated the gray floor. “Yes, your friend that would be that woman from yesterday ? . ”
“Yes, you saw her briefly.” Dianna said absently, her attention snagged by the two men on the chairs. Bags covered their heads and she raised an eyebrow at Jesus. “Who are they?” She could guess, but it was best not to take anything for granted in situations like this.
Jesus gestured and the first bag was removed by one of his bodyguards revealing the man Dianna had punched. “He was easy to catch and easy to question, apparently you literally busted his nut. With some other similar persuasion techniques he sang out quite beautifully the name of the person who clued Tony in on your identity.”
Jesus looked at Dianna. “He is one of the men who attacked you?”
“Yes.” Dianna's smile was dark as she watched him, eyes narrow. “I'm impressed he was walking at all. I thought I'd broken his pelvis entirely.” She felt the thrill of his pain as he looked up, eyes dulled, staring blankly at her, clearly in agony. It was delicious.
Jesus nodded and the second bag was removed to reveal Quinn. “This brings me to the bad news portion. Were you aware your lady friend is a Ridden? She also set you up with Tony.”
Quinn's red eyes blinked. As for the torture she had endured, Quinn wasn't really impressed, Alvera had done far worse to her.
Dianna had never had her breath stolen away before and it was a very unpleasant feeling she never wanted to experience again. All she could do was stare in confusion at Quinn, suddenly aware of the dull ache in her chest. Dianna had simply assumed they were both men and hadn't looked twice at the figure in the other chair. “Quinn,” Dianna breathed in horror, suddenly realizing she was out of time.
Quinn sighed. “You lied, they weren't closed for a special party and Jesus was in early.” She grunted as someone punched her, and then she went quiet.
Dianna's mouth opened but no words came. Every half formed plan lay in ruin now. “Where'd you find her?” Dianna managed to say finally, her voice almost normal.
“Does it matter?” Jesus asked. “I know as a succubus you can handle yourself, but I think I would consider this an abusive relationship. She set you up to be hurt or worse with Tony and his guys. A bit of advice – maybe you should break up.”
“Good advice.” Dianna licked dry lips. “How do you know what she did?”
Jesus pointed to the other guy. “He told us.”
“Of course.” Dianna swallowed, there was no way for her to tell how much was true and what was a lie. She knew what the end result was supposed to be of course. “You should go,” Dianna advised Jesus, watching Quinn's muscles flex, behind her stillness as she held herself together.
“Are you going to tell me what's going on?” Jesus asked. “Because I know she is not one of my father's Riddens, which leads me to believe that she is here because of Alvera.” Jesus chuckled at Dianna's look. “One does not survive in this city without paying for good information. So are you in on it?”
“I'm not here to see you killed,” Dianna replied, although there was no simple answer. “I'm here to get her soul back from Alvera.” A bodyguard snorted derisively, and Dianna glared, knowing how it sounded.
“Dianna shut up.” Quinn snarled.
Things hadn't quite gone as she had planned, but she had gotten close to Jesus, so in the end despite the means Quinn had gotten what she had wanted.
A bodyguard was backhanding Quinn with a meaty paw to make her shut up and Quinn had just about had enough of being used like a punching bag.
Quinn looked behind her, judging the distance between herself and the wall, and gauging the amount of force needed to break the chair she was tied to. Just one little thing had to snap and break and she could get free.
Dianna ignored Quinn's words, her eyes never leaving Quinn's face as she spoke to Jesus. “You should leave, now.” Not only wasn't any of this going according to plan, there really wasn't a plan anymore. “Get out of here.”
“You're concern is noted but I have four half-demon body guards here with me and two more at the top of the stairs. I am perfectly safe.”
“Let's find out.” Quinn said leaning forward onto her feet before running the seven feet backwards into the wall. Something in her right hand popped and pain radiated up her arm, something groaned and cracked in the wood and with a shake the arm fell off loosening the tension on the rope so she could wiggle free.
The guards surged forward as Quinn knew they would and she dodged some blows and took others until she pulled a gun out of the side holster of one of the goons. She smashed one in the face bursting his nose and then leveled it at Jesus and fired.
Quinn staggered into Alvera's apartment, covered in blood.
Alvers just looked at her. “Let me guess, you failed.”
“It's done,” Quinn croaked out.
“According to reports you've been too busy fucking someone to do your job.”
Quinn's red eyes flicked over to the blob in the room staring at her with empty black eye sockets.
“Yeah, well you told me to fuck one of the dancers so I've been fucking one of the dancers.”
Alvera lifted her up and slammed her onto the carpet with demonic strength. “Do not give me attitude!” she hissed while Quinn could only moan and gasp for breath.
Alvera then stood up sweeping a hand over her hair to calm it back into place while placing a foot on Quinn's hand, rotating her heel. “Where's the bullet, knife or whatever you used to kill him?”
“I couldn't... get... it... I had to run out of there.” Quinn hissed out between clenched teeth as the bone in her hands groaned and creaked.
Alvera sighed. “The way you've been this week I'm finding it hard to believe you.” She reached over and picked up the phone, dialing.
“Yes, Hi, I would like to schedule a stag party sometime next week for my friend.” Alvera listened, smiling. “Oh, you're are closed. When do you think you'll open? Oh, okay, you don't know.... I understand.” She hung up and looked at Quinn. She smiled, something that made Quinn's skin crawl.
Alvera moved her foot off off Quinn's hand. “Excellent work Quinn I'm so sorry I doubted you.” She bent down brushing the hair out of Quinn's face and helped her up. “You just make me so angry sometimes, with your attitude.”
Quinn nodded. “I'm sorry.”
Alvera nodded and kissed Quinn's forehead. “I know you are. It takes time to get settled into this sort of thing, and you were such a stubborn human.”
Alvera smiled it was nice to see Quinn finally succumbing to natural order of things. “We should go meet with Baleford.”
“I think I should see a doctor. Can I...” Quinn cleared her throat. “May I have some cash Mistress to see a doctor?”
Alvera was so happy to see Quinn so subservient she probably would have given her anything. “Sure, I do need you in top condition.” Alvera gathered her coat and left a wad of cash on the counter. “Come on Thomas, we have an alliance to forge.”
The blob followed her out.
As the door shut Quinn sat down on the couch leaving bloody smears. Her broken hand and wrist were tucked against her chest as she cried, although no tears came.
When the gun had fired Dianna had instinctively moved into the path of the bullet, taking the shot meant for Jesus. Quinn had watched in horror as Dianna dropped, then she fired again spinning Jesus backward, until he too had fallen. Quinn had tried to stop the bleeding. She had run to Dianna and put her hands on the wound. Quinn had indeed set up Dianna to be attacked, but she hadn't wanted her to get hurt. She had always planned to be there, to stop anything, which is why she had been so mad when they Tony's guys had jumped her early. “Please don't die,” Quinn had begged as blood was pouring out over her hands.
Quinn had screamed when someone had pulled her away, then there was pain in her knee as a booted foot connected with it, and she had fought back quickly before running. She had run away, leaving Dianna to die. It was wrong, but Quinn didn't know why. Quinn had grabbed the cash and headed for the door. She was hurt more than her advanced healing could handle.
Jesus looked at Dianna, his hands drumming on his desk again. “You owe me.” He stared at a timid Violet who was hovering around Dianna. He had to admit, her powers of healing were amazing, because both he and Dianna should be dead. “I'm closing my club for a week for her.” He pointed at Violet. “You owe me a month of dancing for the lost revenue.”
“What?” Dianna stepped in front of Violet, gritting her teeth because standing threatened to reopen the wound in her chest. “She doesn't owe you, if anything you owe her for healing you. You'd be dead without her. You want a month of dancing, I'll do it, but the kid's free and clear.”
Jesus waived off the bodyguard. “I'm sorry lets make this clearer.” He took a deep breath and let it out calming down. “I am closing the club for a week and pretending to be dead because she,” He pointed at Violet. “Saved our lives. I am asking if she wants a job because one can always use a good healer on staff, not as a dancer. You...” He pointed at Dianna. “Owe me big for lying to me and for the lost revenue for closing for a week. So if you live through this nightmare you will return and dance for me for a month, free. Now sit down!” Jesus got up and opened the closet behind his desk, looking over his shirts before selecting a new one without a bullet hole. His chest was covered in fine blue and green feathers, and his stomach in blue and green scales.
“You love her that much?” Jesus muttered. “She set you up so she could get into my office and kill me. Tony's thugs could have raped you or killed you. Whoever she was she is not that person anymore.”
For once Dianna didn't push things, and instead took a seat, giving Violet a reassuring smile as she did so. Violet still had a bit of a stunned look about her and Dianna hoped she was alright. “She could be the same woman though. There's still hope.” Dianna raised her chin. “That's enough for me to try to rescue her.” Very carefully Dianna chose not to use the word love.
What did Dianna know about love? Nothing.
“Reapers aren't like sliver tongues, eventually they become mindless beasts.” Jesus sighed and poured himself a drink, and one for Dianna. He sat down setting it in front of her.
“Okay.” Jesus said mostly to himself. “Hassiem!” he shouted.
The middle eastern man opened the door. “Yes?”
“Get me Chains of Perdition and the keys to one of the SUV's, something common.”
“Okay?” The man closed the door confused but went to do as requested.
“You have four hours to get your demon-touched lover and get her out of the state. I am helping you with this because Alvera will be easier to kill with her rabid killer ferret out of the picture. The farther away from Alvera she gets the more pain she'll be in, because Alvera will summon her with every part of her will. Do not take the chains off. She will lie, beg and cry to get loose, the end result will be your deaths. I would take her to some sort of holy place, a church or whatever, it might make it easier, or not.”
The door opened and Hassiem came in bowing under the weight of the chains. “You know if you would have used these on her in the first place she wouldn't have gotten loose,” Dianna remarked.
“Thank you for stating the obvious,” Jesus said with a grin.
“These are Chains of Perdition. They are crafted to hold a demon for punishment. They should easily hold a demon-touched human.”
“I know what they are.” Dianna said quietly, watching them through narrowed eyes. “I didn't realize you had a set, or I would have stolen them to begin with and we wouldn't have gone through this.” Dianna shook her head, looking at Jesus once again. “And what else will it cost me for this help of yours?”
“Look Dianna, my father is not pleased Alvera nearly killed me. It's not because he loves me, it's because it makes him look bad and weak. So now New York is going to run red because he's pissed. It's going to be a lot easier on me if I can tell my dad that Alvera's new Reaper is out of the picture, because honestly a lot of people are scared of your lover. You still owe me a month of dancing.” He sipped his drink enjoy its burn down his throat.
“Right.” Dianna picked up the length of chains, feeling their cold iron against her skin and the solid weight of them. The entire length of dark chain was carved with religious and arcane symbols. No demon could break them while wrapped in their coils and she nodded grimly, this would hold Quinn. As long as no one let her out of them, of course.
Dianna nodded. “Thank you. I'll see you for a month of dancing when I'm not covered in black and blues.” Of course if this plan failed, they'd probably all be dead anyway so it wouldn't matter. Maybe this was one plan Violet shouldn't be involved in.
“Hassiem will take you down to the car.” Jesus finished his drink and picked up the phone dismissing Dianna and Violet.
Quinn headed out of the condo and started down the street. She really wasn't certain where she would find a doctor and the doorman hadn't wanted to talk to her. Her knee felt like an ice pick was being jammed into the nerves with every step, and both her hand and wrist were an ugly color of blue and black, so swollen her fingers couldn't move, not that she was sure it was wise to move them.
Quinn was well aware that Alvera could have healed her but the demon had enjoyed her pain too much to do that. She probably deserved the pain. She hadn't meant to shoot Dianna. Dianna was supposed to take Vi and run, so that meant it wasn't really Quinn's fault. If only the fucking woman would have just listened.
Violet rocked back and forth, arms tucked under her armpits, wishing she could see Dianna. This waiting out in the cold, hoping that they'd guessed right about where Quinn would go, didn't seem like a good thing to her.
Jesus' guys had sworn this was the only clinic downtown that would help a Ridden though, so this was where they waited. It had been almost two hours since they'd left the strip club and Violet's fingers were freezing, even with the thick gloves that Dianna had given her.
Clapping her hands together she stomped her feet like Dianna had told her to, trying to get the blood flowing again.
Quinn was pretty ragged having had to walk miles aimlessly looking for a clinic. The first couple of places had looked at her red eyes and threatened to call the police. Maybe Alvera had known this and was waiting for Quinn to call, begging for help. Quinn got closer to a patch of the gray where she was certain she'd find a place. Some bum had told her about a free clinic. She was dragging her left leg now trying not to bend it at the knee.
Outside the clinic door, Violet shook her head and stepped away from the foul smelling man who was trying to proposition her. Dirty hands reached for her and she finally gave up and shoved him towards the door, nearly sending the drunk toppling over.
“Sorry!” Violet called after him, momentarily forgetting who she was watching out for.
Quinn blinked as a bland brick-faced building came into view. There were a few people entering, and one person was standing outside. Quinn frowned, recognizing Violet. Fuck. She had killed Dianna and now the girl was on her own again. “Vi?” Quinn croaked out, uncertain and hopeful the young woman by the entrance just looked like Violet.
“Quinn!” Violet whirled, squeaking in surprise as she spotted Quinn standing almost right on top of her.
Quinn groaned seeing it was Violet. “Shit, I'm sorry Vi. I'm really, really sorry.” It wasn't so much that she felt bad, because that was impossible, but she knew she should feel something. “I didn't mean to do it. It just happened. Look, let me get looked at and then I'll give you what cash I have left and we'll try and get you some place away from here.”
“You shot Dianna.” Blue eyes stared at Quinn accusingly. “Then you shot the other guy.” Violet frowned, upset with Quinn. “I thought you liked Dianna.”
Quinn ran her good hand through her hair. “I didn't mean to shoot Dianna. She threw herself in front of the other guy. I told her to take you and get gone, if she would've fucking done the one thing I asked, then she'd be alive. I do... I did like her, better than most. I'm not capable of a lot kid.” Quinn leaned back against the wall panting, her eyes closing as she tried to work through the pain she was in. “Give me a second, I'm hurt bad.” First Jesus' goons and then Alvera she wasn't doing so hot.
“You're dying.” Violet whispered, moving closer. “I can help,” she offered, remembering what Dianna had coached her to do on the way to the clinic.
“Vi, I don't think you should waste that talent on me. Save it for good people who deserve it.” Quinn opened her eyes, startled by how close Violet was, and tried to move back, which only caused a shooting spike of pain in her knee. Her stomach rolled and she bent to the side vomiting up alcohol and blood.
Stripping off the gloves, Violet moved closer, hands supporting Quinn as she vomited again and again. “This way.” Violet pulled, and it was easier than it should have been to get Quinn to follow her around the side of the free clinic and to the back. “Here,” she said, pushing Quinn to sit down on a wooden packing crate.
“I'm not going to just let you die,” Violet said fiercely, surprising even herself as she undid some of Quinn's cloths so she could see the injuries.
Quinn tried to push Violet's hands away but with only one good hand, it wasn't happening. “Vi, a little tip most women like you to buy them dinner first before you start trying to take off their clothes,” Quinn joked before she growled out; “Damnit Vi, just fucking let me die.”
“She can't do that.” Dianna growled in response behind her, chains rattling as she whipped them across Quinn's body, wrapping them as tight as she could, hardening her heart against the woman's cry of pain as the chains tightened on something already broken.
Violet bit her lip, both hands covering her mouth as she watched the brief struggle. “I'm sorry,” she whispered, knowing she'd just betrayed a trust. “But she's right, I can't let you die.”
Instinctively Quinn struggled, the pain in her wrist nearly short circuiting her brain. But there wasn't much fight left in her and the chains were cold and heavy, they weighed her down. “Dianna?” she asked after a moment of breathing heavily. Quinn could see Dianna was real and alive, and she tried to surge against the chains. “You're going to fucking wish I'd killed you.” The second struggle against the chains went as well as the first.
“Love you too,” Dianna grunted, carrying the struggling woman to the SUV and dumping her in the back seat. “Violet, keep her from killing herself okay?” She closed the door after them and hopped up into the driver's seat.
“Time for a road trip ladies.” Dianna put on a pair of shades and pulled out from the parking lot. It was only a few minutes to the highway and once they were off the island she intended on driving as far West as she could get.
Hours passed and Quinn had begged, pleaded and threatened, but apparently shooting Dianna had hardened Violet's heart towards her. Now Quinn was silent, her voice hoarse, swaying back and forth. “I think...” she said softly. “My fingers are going to fall off.” Quinn was certain her fingers shouldn't look that color. “I don't think blood is getting to them.”
“Too bad.” Dianna said from up front. There was no way they were going to loosen the chains. “You're just trying to get us to loosen the chains. Violet said you'd live after she healed that internal bleeding you had. Besides, you don't want to wake up the kid do you?”
Violet had moved up to the front seat once they'd stopped to get gas, and had promptly passed out. Dianna felt a little sorry for her, she'd looked drained after the last healing and had obviously been tapped out.
Quinn went silent and looked out the window; she did feel better but her wrist and hand were killing her, and she had been unaware of the damage Alvera had done to her ribs when she'd been slammed to the floor.
After 30 minutes or so Quinn said; “So I know you're a succubus and all, but aren't chains a little kinky even for you?”“Jesus' little farewell gift for you.” Dianna grinned a little, speeding up to pass a semi-trailer in front of them. Soon they'd be on highway 68, going straight west. Dianna would drive them to California if she needed to. Dianna groaned. “Fuck, forgot about my car. Some punk is probably going to steal it.”
Quinn frowned and then cursed up a storm. If Dianna was alive then obviously Jesus was as well, which meant she had failed Alvera.
“Yeah, that was Vi's doing too.” Dianna grinned at Quinn in the rear view mirror. “Thanks for shooting me by the way, bitch.
”“You fucking jumped in front of the bullet, you stupid bitch! cunt. Let me guess, you were working for him all along? He that good in bed you'd take a bullet for him, fucking whore.” Quinn lunged forward but Dianna had looped the chain over the seat and connected it with a lock to metal tie-downs in the back.
Quinn gave a scream of pain as the chains stopped her short and tightened around her, squeezing her wrist.
“Yeah, sure, I got shot because I slept with him.” Dianna rolled her eyes, teeth bared in an unpleasant smile. “I danced for room full of guys and gave them lap dances for him.” She laughed, darkly. “I did it for you, you idiot! You shoot him and his father's going after you, nothing would satisfy him until he saw you dead. Having to deal with one master demon is quite enough, I don't need two.”
Quinn sat back and stared at the ceiling of the SUV and said nothing.
“Now we just need to get your soul back.” Dianna muttered, having to force herself not to speed. It would be hard to explain the chained up woman in the back to a cop.
“Souls are over-rated, there's a real sense of freedom when you lose one. Right and wrong don't matter so much.”
“You don't believe that.” Dianna's eyes flicked to the mirror and then back to the road.
The farther they drove away from New York the more Quinn felt something inside her was being drawn tighter and tighter. She didn't bother looking at Dianna, the view of the beautiful half demon wouldn't have changed. “Then what do I believe? Since you know me so well, I mean obviously I would never set you up to be hurt, that must have been someone that looked like me.”
Dianna's lips thinned in anger. “You're honorable, you believe in things like trust and I think that's what's killing you. You'd rather die then continue like this.” A green highway sign proudly proclaimed how far it was to highway 70, which would get them to Columbus Ohio sometime tomorrow. “Stop trying to piss me off, I'm not letting you go.”
It was Quinn's turn for her lips to purse into an angry line, but she didn't say anything.
###### - to denote apparent passage of time
Quinn didn't remember falling asleep she had been trying to maintain an angry silence when the road noise had lulled her. Then Alvera was summoning her. Quinn could feel her Mistress's anger in the command. She woke with a start struggling.
“Let me out of these fucking things,” Quinn howled, twisting in the back. “She needs me to go to her.”
After almost six hours of driving Dianna's eyes had been drooping, she'd almost started to nod off at the wheel when Quinn's sudden struggle and yell startled the sleep out of her. Beside her Violet jerked in surprise, blue eyes shooting open as she turned to stare at Quinn.
“Fuck. Here we go.” Dianna grumbled. She'd wanted to get further away, but apparently that wasn't going to happen. “You're not going anywhere, Detective,” Dianna called back, scanning the highway for an exit. They weren't far from Dayton Ohio now; maybe they could find a motel somewhere.
“Don't call me that.” Quinn shot back, struggling against the chains. She fucking hated them, they drained her strength and held her prisoner.
“Detective Maggie Quinn.” Dianna said. “That's your name, that's who you are, not this.” Dianna made the first exit she came to feeling Violet's worried look as she pulled off. They were still far enough out of the city to be in the middle of nowhere.
“Keep your eyes open for a motel or something, we're stopping for the night,” Dianna said to Violet who nodded. “She doesn't exist.” Quinn argued. “She's as good as dead, so stop calling me that.”
“No. I'm never calling you anything else Maggie.”
Violet raised a hand, pointing to the left. “Is that a Motel?”
It would do, Dianna nodded grimly, turning off the service road into the run down looking motel. “Good enough for what we need. Here, take this and go get us two rooms.” She handed over a wad of bills. Violet looked once more over the back seat at Quinn and then hopped out, going into the main office.
Quinn was silent watching everything. They had to slip up, especially Violet.
“We're doing this and you're not going back to Alvera.” Dianna growled, watching Violet come out of the dingy office with two keys. She didn't even know they still gave out actual room keys anymore.
“What do you care? I set you up and shot you, don't you get it? I don't care. I mean you were good in the sack but really we have nothing else in common.”
“Shut up.” Dianna sighed, rubbing her head.
Violet jumped up into the cab, holding the keys. “Room five and six, I got them next to each other, that's okay isn't it?” she asked hesitantly.
Dianna nodded, pulling down the length of the long building to park in front of the two rooms. They'd be one of the few customers staying there it looked like.
“You get room five. Maggie and I are in room six.”
“Umm, you sure?” Violet looked back at Quinn worriedly.
Quinn grinned nastily. “Come on, the kid could be a fun addition.”
“Ignore her.” Dianna said, shoving the stick into park and getting out of the SUV. “Get the doors, I'll get Maggie.”
“Stop calling me that.”
“Maggie, Maggie, Maggie.” Dianna said in a sing-song voice as she opened the back door of the SUV.
“I fucking hate you.” Quinn grumbled.
“Love you too.” Dianna crooned, grunting as she picked up both Quinn and the chains she was wrapped in and carried her towards the motel room.
“Hey could you loosen these things a bit so I can go pee?” Quinn asked once they were inside the room.
“No.” Dianna dumped her on the lone bed, turning to the hovering Violet. “We'll be fine. Here...” Dianna peeled off two more bills and gave them to the Violet. “See if you can get somewhere to deliver pizza or something, we'll need food. No coming in here though, you stay in your room. I'll deal with Maggie, okay?”
Violet hesitated, and then nodded, worriedly looking from one to the other.
“It'll be all right.” Dianna forced a smile, she almost believed herself.
“So you want me just to pee on the bed?”
“Nope, I'm going to put you in the tub, you can pee all you want. If you're lucky I'll take your pants off.” Dianna closed the door before Violet could say anything.
Quinn sighed. “If I make a blood oath not to run away will you let me pee on the toilet?”
“The chains don't come off.” Dianna crossed her arms, trying to look stern on this one.
“Fine, it will make it hard to wipe. Could you maybe just loop the chains around my hands and tie me to something in the bathroom.” She had dried blood in places. “I can use the bathroom and take a shower.”
Dianna hesitated, features softening a little and then she caught herself. “Nice try. I'll wash you, but the chains stay where they are.”
“Please. I can't do much until the kid fixes my wrist, its broken so are most of my fingers.”
“I don't trust you.” Dianna moved closer, eyeing the chains. “Hold still.” She shifted them downwards, freeing Quinn's arms but tightening them around her waist. The loose end she wrapped around her hand. “That's as good as it gets.”
Quinn did think about doing something but it wasn't like much could be done with her wrist and knee fucked up. Driving a stick was out and walking back to New York was out, for now. “Thanks.”
Alvera's prickling summons was still there and when Quinn staggered to her feet she found herself limping towards the door, Dianna tugged the chain and Quinn blinked, looking at her. “Sorry.” She shook her head and started limping to the bathroom.
“It's going to be a long night.” Dianna muttered, following her into the bathroom. Wherever Maggie went, she was going to go. “No privacy.” She said with a smile at Quinn's glare.
Quinn grumbled but struggled with her pants with one hand and sat down to pee.
“You still want a shower?” Dianna forced down her libido, damnit this wasn't the time, but just imagining a naked wet Maggie in the hot water was enough to get her attention.
“A bath is probably more my speed.” Quinn said struggling to pull up her pants.
“Bath it is.” Keeping the chain in hand, Dianna started up the water in the bathtub. “You might as well leave them off.”
Quinn nodded and picked them up setting them on the counter.
“Here.” Dianna offered to help Maggie with her shirt.
Quinn made a face but allowed it; she had no real options right now. “I see that look in your eye, and let me put a damper on your desire; I'm in no shape to have sex.”
“There's no look in my eyes,” Dianna lied, undoing the shirt and tossing the thing aside. They'd need new clothes again for Quinn. “You're really hard on clothes, you know that?” Closing the toilet seat she sat on the lid, holding the chain as Quinn eased herself into the steaming hot bath.
“Oh there was a look, and it's still there.” Quinn said smirking. She put her hands out and tried to ease into the tub her knee not wanting to bend. She sighed once she was in the water. “How did you fix my knee before?” At Dianna's surprised look she rolled her eyes. “I remember this is the second time I've damaged this knee and I remember you helped me. That's it.”
“Vi's mentor healed it actually.” Dianna said slowly. “Lauren and I went and found her, brought some mud and eggs back for you that did the trick. I don't think that's going to work this time. You remember Lauren?”
“I'll heal in time, a perk of giving up my soul,” Quinn said with a shrug. “Lauren? No, I don't remember her. She another 'friend' of yours?”
“Friend of both of ours.” Dianna snorted at the tone. “She's missing too. I think the DA people got her, but I'm not sure. She was Vi's girlfriend, when Vi was calling herself Blue.”
“Stop. I think you're making this shit up. Nobody remembers any of this but you. Has it occurred to you that you're the crazy one?”
“Some days I really wish I was the crazy one, trust me,” Dianna ground out, jaw clenched. “You think I like being the only one who knows what's going on? I'm not used to having to be responsible.”
Quinn reached over and played with the chain. “Well there's an easy solution.”
“No, there isn't.”
Quinn sighed and sat back in the water letting her eyes close, trying to ignore the other woman in the bathroom with her. “I'm not going away you know,” Dianna said softly.
“I'm getting that. It's annoying. I'm not asking for help.”
“Sometimes you help people even when they don't want it.”
“No that just gets you hit with a restraining order.”
Dianna chuckled. “Good luck with getting one.”
“Point.” Quinn yawned, and stood up awkwardly almost losing her balance.
Dianna was there, holding her upright. “Got you,” she murmured. “Come on, you need rest.”
Quinn didn't want any help. She didn't want to be touched. She was in a pissy mood. Being held in chains would do that to a girl. But despite her insults Dianna helped her out of the tub and back in to her shirt and pants, despite the fact they were filthy, she had very little options.
Quinn knew she just needed to stay calm, act somewhat docile, and she'd get loose. It wasn't that she wanted to return to Alvera, the demon was a cruel bitch, she just had no will to resist the call to return.
Quinn lay on the bed, her head propped with pillows. “Can I get some ice for my knee?” she tried to ask in a nice way.
Dianna eyed her, and then the length of chain she'd coiled around her own wrist. It wouldn't let her get ice without moving Quinn and she opted for reaching across the small room and knocking on the adjoining room's door.
“Vi, we need ice for Quinn's knee, can you go get some?” The door cracked open just enough for a tired looking face to peer through and Violet nodded silently closing the door again.
“No more healing for that girl for a while. I think we wore her out.” Dianna sighed, settling back into the chair she'd decided she'd be sleeping in that night.
“You wore her out. I didn't ask her to heal me.” Quinn pointed out. She yawned; she hadn't felt this tired in a long time, probably something to do with Violet's healing on her.
Dianna glanced at Quinn. “Sure.” When she got Quinn back she was never letting her live this down. Dianna was the one who was supposed to be causing problems, not Quinn. “Take a nap; I'll wake you up when food gets here if you want.”
With very little options left to her, Quinn let her eyes close, but she doubted she would sleep.
In a few minutes Quinn's features relaxed and she was snoring softly.
Dianna ran a trembling hand through her hair. She couldn't remember the last time she'd been this exhausted and suddenly the chair felt a lot more comfortable then it had when she'd sat down.
Violet better get back soon, Dianna thought fuzzily, wrapping the chain around her hand a bit more securely. If she didn't….
Dianna's eyes fluttered shut and her head tilted back.
She'd just rest her eyes for a few seconds - that was all.
Alvera was pissed, as the living room in the condo she rented attested to. “Where is she?” she snapped. The minions around her trembled, but said nothing.
The meeting with Baleford had gone well but Alvera had been attacked by a pissed off Quetzalcoatl the moment she had left the meeting. She had expected more time to prepare, she hadn't expected the demon to hit her this hard, this fast, and Baleford was in the same boat, so any help from him was non-existent.
Alvera reached over and thrust her hand into the chest of the closest minion, ripping his heart right out of his chest. Squeezing the still beating organ, she crushed it between her fingers using the energy created by its death to send out a stronger summons to Quinn. “Come to me now!”
Miles away Quinn was up and moving towards the door before her eyes were even open, pain shooting up from her knee at every step. She had the door open, and had even taken a step outside before she realized she couldn't move. Blinking Quinn looked around and tried to force her way forward. Then she spotted the chain around her waist and pulled on it, trying to get loose.
The heave caused Dianna to tumble from her chair, the wrap of chain around her wrist coming loose as she did. Yelling, Dianna rose from the floor, scrambling for the end of the chain that she now, in hind sight, probably should have locked around her own waist.
Amazingly, Violet was there, sitting by the end of the bed and she grabbed the chain before the last of it disappeared out the door. The ice bucket that had been in her hands went flying and small ice pieces flew everywhere, turning the area between the bed and the door into an ice rink of sorts.
Quinn was jerked back, but she hunched her shoulders and grabbed on to the door-frame still trying to move forward. She had to go to her Mistress that was the only thing she knew. The summons was burning in her brain.
Another tug by both Violet and Dianna and Quinn lost her grip on the door. Stepping on ice, Quinn's arms began wind-milling until she finally fell to the floor. Quinn stayed down, panting, and then screamed as the summons burned through her again, and blood stated to drip out her nose.
“Get the door.” Dianna yelled, hauling Quinn further into the room across the ice and shoving Violet toward the door with her body. Startled, Violet lunged over Quinn's thrashing form, slamming the door shut and dead-bolting it shut.
As Quinn's thrashing began to look more and more like seizures, Dianna swung herself up and onto Quinn's body, pinning her down onto the scattered ice. “Goddamn you Maggie, don't do this to me. You stay with us, you hear me! Stay here.”
Another minute and the summons began to lose strength. Quinn's thrashing slowed and she eventually stopped, gasping for breath, and blinking she looked around. “Ah, fuck...” Quinn coughed seeing Dianna for the first time. “You're heavy get off.”
Dianna rolled off her, lying on the ice-covered carpet next to Quinn and staring up at the ceiling, the chain a heavy weight in her hand. Raising her head a little Dianna saw Violet, still standing by the door, staring down at them worriedly.
“It'll be okay,” Diana gasped, sitting upright.
“No it won't,” Violet whispered. “She nearly died.” Violet moved to Quinn, reaching out to touch her but pulling her hands back, uncertainly.
“Violet don't. I'll be fine for now,” Quinn gasped. “Alvera's summons was really, really strong that time. That's all.” Quinn didn't try to move. Her knee throbbed, her wrist was screaming and her brain felt like it had been boiled. “I do not want you to try and heal me until you've had food and slept eight hours. Do I make myself clear?” she croaked out.
Violet smiled, a little smile, but it was there. “Yes Quinn.” She ducked her head in a nod.
Amused, Dianna got up and reached down, picking up Quinn and once again worrying about how light she'd become. Carefully she laid Quinn back down on the bed. Scooping up some ice she wrapped it back up in the discarded towel, placing it on Quinn's knee. “Here, hold that.” Dianna sat back in the chair she'd been in, after picking it up off the floor. “If it had been any stronger I'm worried it might have torn you in two,” Dianna admitted, watching Quinn get settled.
“Then release me,” Quinn snapped. “If you hadn't stolen me from Alvera this wouldn't have happened.” She took the ice and put it against her knee gaving a sigh as the coldness seeped through her pants.
“For what?” Dianna snapped right back. “So you can go back to being her Reaper? How long do you think you'll last doing that, a couple more days before she kills you or a week until you just waste away?”
Quinn glared at Dianna but didn't say anything. Instead she reached up and wiped the blood away from her nose and settled back. Quinn looked at Violet. “So how long till food.”
“They said it would be almost an hour when I called. It should be here soon.” Violet's hand rose towards Quinn and she had to force it down before she touched her.
Shaking her head, Dianna reached over, giving Violet a push towards the door. “Go wait for it. I'll stay awake this time. Promise.” Diana smiled at the disbelieving look she got in return.
“I think Jesus was wrong.” Dianna said as soon as Violet had retreated to her own bedroom. “I think this isn't going to work unless we kill Alvera.” She eyed Quinn on the bed. “Which means we need to lure her here. I'm thinking she's going to come after you if she can't summon you to her.”
“And how are you going to kill her? If you do manage to lure her here.” It sounded like a stupid plan to Quinn. “How about you leave me here and take off with the healer?”
“How many times am I going to tell you that's not going to happen!” Dianna yelled, the stress and fatigue finally making her snap. “You think I want to just leave you to die! Is that what you think I'm going to do? Let you kill yourself in some half-assed attempt at correcting your father's sins? Well fuck you Maggie, that's not going to happen! You got it?”
Quinn clenched her jaw. “Stop calling me Maggie and I got it.” She jiggled the chain and said; “I am painfully aware of the fact I'm not going anywhere.”
Their stare down was brought to a halt as Violet knocked on the door and then came in with two pizzas. “They, um, had a special.”
With a snort, Dianna got up, handing the chain to Violet and going to the small kitchenette area to get them plates. “I can hear both of your stomachs grumbling from over here.” Water would have to do for drinking as she brought everything back and laid it out onto the bed next to Quinn.
“Here.” Dianna offered the first piece to Quinn. “Pretend to be nice again.”
Quinn rolled her eyes but accepted the slice. She chewed it slowly, not really very hungry. She would have liked a whiskey but didn't look like she was going to get one.
“What are we going to do?” Violet asked in the quiet as the two women ignored each other and ate. She'd consumed her first piece feeling like she hadn't eaten in weeks and the second had gone down nearly as quickly. The third one she'd scaled back to merely nibbling on though, watching one woman and then the other. “I don't want Quinn to die.”
“She's not going to die.” Dianna growled. “We just have to…” She trailed off, sighing. They just had to kill a major Demoness.
Quinn sighed, annoyed. “Explain to me about my father. What does he have to do with this?” Quinn didn't remember her father and still only vaguely remembered her brother. “I have a brother, he's... like me isn't he?”
“Yes.” Dianna glanced at Violet, wondering how much to say in front of her. She couldn't be an innocent forever she supposed. “Your Dad sold the soul of his first born to save the soul of his wife from Alvera.” It was an edited version of the story but it got the major points across. “But he went and sold his soul before she could collect on his eighteenth birthday. Which explains why Alvera had that hardon to get your soul; she used your husband and son to get to you.”
Dianna took a large bite of Pizza, chewing it to give herself a moment. “You're loving father,” she growled, stopping to take a breath so she didn't start cursing, “refused to help when I called him from the strip club. He's somewhere in Massachusetts, I think somewhere outside of Boston.” Dianna still had the phone number tucked away in a pocket.
“I have a husband and a son? Why are we having sex then? Doesn't sound like I'm really all that gay.” Quinn picked up another slice of pizza chewing on it. “Anyways, so my father is a spineless coward and I'm paying for everyone else's miserable existence.” Quinn closed her eyes, chewing, trying to remember anything that Dianna had told her.
“You're husband died and Alvera killed your son after he gave him to her,” Dianna said quietly, looking away. Quinn had forgotten so very much.
“Oh. I don't remember them,” Quinn said softly. For some reason that made her feel odd and Quinn became subdued as she ate. She had a son and that was important. She had apparently been cheated out of watching him grow up because of this father of hers.
Violet stared, really uncomfortable with the sudden silence. It might have even been worse than the yelling from earlier she decided. “A church,” Violet said suddenly. “Jesus said we should take her to a holy place. We should go visit her father.”
Quinn shifted uncomfortably on the bed. She wasn't certain she liked that idea, although right now she wasn't certain about a lot of things. “I don't think he'd be of much help Vi...” Dianna started, but the young woman was suddenly animated.
“No, listen. It's perfect. He's the start of everything; he needs to be there at the end. If he isn't it's not... you know, balanced.” Violet waved her hands around vaguely.
“Balanced.” Dianna raised an eyebrow.
“I've never really seen her this worked-up about anything,” Quinn said taking a bite from her pizza.
“Balanced.” Dianna repeated, looking over at Quinn incredulously.
Violet smiled and nodded. “He should be there, I'm sure of it.” Violet wasn't sure why she was sure, but she was.
Quinn shrugged eating her pizza, didn't matter what she thought, she'd just be ignored anyways.
“He's back in Massachusetts.” Dianna sighed, already resigning herself to driving right back the way they'd come. “That's closer to New York city than we are now. Means Alvera's going to feel Quinn more strongly.”
“It's a horrible idea...” Quinn went quiet thinking that by the looks of her Dianna was about to freak out on her again.
“Sold then. If Quinn thinks it's a horrible idea, then we'll leave as soon as we get some rest.” Dianna wasn't driving anywhere until she got at least a few hours of sleep. “We'll take turns watching Quinn. No taking the chain of her, for any reason at all Vi.” She eyed Violet, who nodded her head quickly in answer.
Quinn rolled her eyes and finished her pizza slice.
Quinn woke with a start, a shiver working it's way up her spine and sweat dotting her skin. She looked over at a red faced Violet and raised an eyebrow. “Was I loud?”
“Umm...” Violet stuttered. “Yes. Are you okay? That sounded painful.” Violet wasn't sure if it had been a nightmare or what.
“No, it was pleasurable,” Quinn said annoyed. “Will you please go get Dianna and tell her I want to speak with her now.”
“She's sleeping.” Violet frowned. “She looked really tired; maybe we should give her a bit more time?” Violet also didn't want to see if Dianna was writhing around on the bed like Quinn had just been.
“I'll do it then,” Quinn said, slipping off the bed carefully. Her knee was getting better, she noticed happily as she started moving toward the connecting door.
“Hey...” Violet scrambled to follow, still holding the chain that Dianna had made her promise not to let go of. “But...” She trailed off as Quinn opened the door to the connecting room. Peeking around Quinn's shoulder she went red and looked away quickly. “Does she always sleep naked?”
“Probably she's a succubus. Its' not like anyone is going to complain.” Quinn went back to her own bed, grabbed a pillow and then she went back to the doorway, throwing it at the sleeping woman
Dianna jerked awake, arm flailing as she did, trying to wake up. “What? What is it?” she gasped, only half-awake.
“Stay the fuck out of my dreams. I'm mad at you. We're not having sex in this reality or in the dream one.”
“What?” Dianna rubbed a hand across her face, trying to focus. “You think I can control that? I think that's your doing more than mine.”
“Yes, it's your demon heritage that's causing it - succubus.”
“Says you, Ridden.” Dianna snorted, dropping her head back onto the pillow. “No ogling me if you're angry at me.”
Quinn snorted. “You wish I would ogle you.” Quinn turned back around and started limping back to the bed, simultaneously irritated and turned on, and with her right hand still broken it was unlikely she'd be doing anything about it. Then there was Violet. Quinn knew she may not have a soul but there was still something wrong about masturbating with her in the room.
“Are we done?” Violet pleaded, closing the door on the sound of Dianna's laughter from the other room.
“Not unless you can fix my wrist?”
“Uh....” Violet flushed brilliant red. “Why?”
Quinn sighed. “Don't worry about it Vi.” She got back up on the bed, which was awkward with one arm, and looked at the other woman. “Do we have any cards?”
“Don't you want to sleep?” A peek at the clock told Violet it was barely four AM. “I think so, there was a pack in the side table, on top of the bible.”
“Let's just say my sleep isn't exactly restful. So I'm going to try sleeping when Dianna isn't.”
“Like when she's driving.” Violet nodded in understanding, brightening as she pulled out the cards. Offering over the pack, Violet suddenly realized there wasn't much of a chance of Quinn playing with her wrist like it was. The swelling didn't look anywhere near as bad as it had last night, but she could tell it was still hurting.
“Can I?” Violet pointed at the wrist in question, eager to see if she could actually heal when it wasn't a life threatening injury. The last few times, especially with Dianna and that man that Quinn had shot, it had been pure reflex that had guided her.
Quinn looked at her wrist and then at the cards. “You feel okay? Rested and good? I'm a miserable bastard, but for some reason... anyways go ahead, if you're feeling up to it.”
“You're not a bastard, and I slept some.” Violet leaned closer, eyes intent on the other woman's wrist. Carefully she touched it, eyes fluttering closed as she realized she didn't need to look while she was doing this. “It's broken,” she said softly, fingers tracing along the bones, seeing the multiple places where the bone had broken apart.
“I know. I felt it pop.” Quinn had done it to herself trying to break free from the chair Jesus had tied her to, and then Alvera hadn't helped matters by grinding her foot on it. The pain was just a dull ache now, she was used to it and she could handle pain a lot better now than when she had a soul.
“Doesn't this hurt?” Violet asked, turning a little white as she felt bone grind against bone in the other woman's wrist. It should have been an agonizing wound but Quinn hadn't said much about it at all.
“Yes. But Alvera did something to me. She dampened my ability to feel anything when she decided I should be a Reaper. I tried to tell Dianna, but she was just mad at me because I kept pissing her off, and well, you were exhausted. I had more severe wounds that needed looking after.”
“Dianna thought she was going to lose you. She didn't say it, but I could tell on the way to the strip club. She was very upset.” Violet brushed blond hair out of her face and leaned in again, cradling Quinn's hand in both of hers.
“I don't know what I'm doing,” Violet admitted, getting nervous. What if she made it worse? What if she did something awful to Quinn's wrist? “Maybe we should just take you to a doctor?”
“Vi, you can't make it worse. Plus no doctor is going to treat me.” Quinn looked at Violet. “You saved Dianna, she shouldn't be alive. I know, not just because I shot her, but because I tried to save her. I didn't just shoot them both and run out of the room. I went to her, saw all that blood pumping out of her and put my hands over the wound trying to stop that torrent of blood. But she was bleeding out, not much I could do. One of Jesus' bodyguards knocked me back, we fought and then I fled. You saved her, you did the impossible, because trust me she wasn't long for the world.”
“Okay.” Violet took a deep breath and tried to do what she'd done before but it was hard to relax now that she'd gotten stressed out. “Why do you call me Vi?” She asked, for something to distract herself.
“I'm too lazy to say your whole name,” Quinn said with a grin.
That caught Violet off guard and she laughed. “Oh, okay. That makes sense.” She grinned. The joke had cleared her mind of enough worries that she could act without thinking again.
Eyes closed Violet felt her way along Quinn's bones, fingers lightly touching the inflamed skin above the breaks. Bones were harder to heal than flesh she realized, as she coaxed them to meld to one another again. They resisted her urgings, where as skin and soft flesh usually leapt to do as she willed.
By the time she was finished, sweat was dripping down her face and she sat back gasping. “There,” she said, proudly, wiping at her face.
“You okay? Dianna will kick my ass if something happens to you and it's my fault.” Quinn got up, flexing her fingers with a grin and going into the bathroom she emerged a moment later with a cold cloth tossing it to Violet. “Thanks Violet.”
She sat back on the bed adjusting the chain so it was more comfortable and then picked up the cards.
“Can we play Poker? Mother never let me play.” Violet asked hopefully.
“Well poker is morally wrong because it involves gambling for money, clothes and sometimes sexual favors.”
“Let's avoid the last two.” Violet said quickly. “But I have some change.” She looked at Quinn hopefully.
Quinn chuckled. “What's wrong? It's the red eyes, they just don't turn you on do they.”
Gaping, Violet struggled to find something to say, relaxing as she saw the glint in those red eyes. “You're not funny,” she grumbled, tossing the packet of cards down on the bed near Quinn, struggling not to smile.
“I'm hilarious.” Quinn reached over and picked up the cards. She shuffled them and started dealing them. “You're an attractive woman, over 21, why are you still a virgin?”
“My parents don't really like me seeing people. Mother gets... strange.” Violet shrugged. “It was easier than the fights, and then there were the episodes. The doctors said I was having panic attacks, but it wasn't!” She glared at Quinn, daring her to argue on that one.
“You parents treat you like you're a prize cow for breeding. So if you weren't having panic attacks what was it?”
“I think it was the healing thing. I'm not really sure, but I don't think it was me being insane.” Violet picked up the cards, wondering what she was supposed to be looking at. “I really didn't like the psychiatric hospital, I don't want to go back there, or get an exorcism.”
“I don't blame you, neither one sounds fun.”
“Are two kings good?”
“Yes, unless someone has two aces then they beat that. Or a three of a kind, full house or straight, and then there's a flush.”
Violet settled into her chair, intent on learning this new game. “Okay, what next then?”
“You see if there are any cards you want to get rid of.” Quinn looked at her cards and then tossed a card face down and picked up another off of the top of the deck. She was hoping for a Jack, which would give her three.
Quinn kept her face neutral, as she saw it was a two. “You would increase your bet or fold at this point.”
“Three quarters.” Violet tossed them onto the bed next to Quinn. “You really can't remember having a son?”
Quinn's forehead wrinkled. “Vi I don't have any money take back your quarters.” She let out a breath. “No. I should remember something like that. Maybe I don't. What kind of horrible mother must I have been not to notice my own husband was fucking a demon and plotting to sacrifice our son to the it?”
“Oh, but you said we should bet?” Violet sighed. “I think you must have been a great mother. You took care of me and you barely knew me. Imagine how much you must have taken care of your son.”
“Normally you would bet, but it's not important until you get the hang of it.” Quinn was silent, looking at her cards. “Do you think my husband knew I liked women? Maybe that's why he did it? Maybe I didn't love him?” She didn't want to think about her son, she was almost positive it had to have been her fault, especially given what kind of role models she had. Her father had sold their souls to demons.
Violet shrugged, watching Quinn shuffle cards. “I don't really know a lot about relationships.” She bit her lip. “I'm not even sure if I like women.” Although that sneaking suspicion was getting a lot harder to ignore around Quinn and Dianna.
Quinn shrugged. “Does it matter? Boys or girls, I think it's complicated regardless of the gender. Besides I don't think I should give you advice on the matter, my morals are probably in the toilet without a soul.”
“Oh. Right.” Violet sighed. “What a pair I chose to tag along with.” She grinned, laying down her cards. “Three kings, that's good right?”
“Yes.” Quinn tossed her cards down and then started shuffling. “Beats my hand.”
“Would you stop that?” Dianna glared over her shoulder as Quinn once again kicked the back of her seat. They'd been on the road for the better part of six hours now, and it would be quite a few more before they reached Massachusetts. There was no way Dianna was risking going any closer to New York City than they had to, which meant taking a longer path up round Pennsylvania and back through New York state near Albany.
“I'm bored... oh mistress of the slave chain, and I need to pee. I'm also cranky cause someone kept me up with sex dreams.”
“No one said you had to stay awake,” Dianna said grumpily, scanning the highway ahead of for a spot to pull over. Beside her Violet was curled up in the chair, fast asleep. Dianna envied her ability to sleep through nearly anything. “I thought they were nice dreams.”
“If I wasn't mad at you for kidnapping me and holding me against my will, and causing me general agony every time Alvera summoned me, then yes, I'd be all for some dream sex.” Quinn was actually angrier that Dianna had jumped in front of her shot to save Jesus, as well as the general feeling of unhappiness she had felt when she thought she'd killed her. It was confusing Quinn's head, but she was mad at Dianna, that was certain.
“Only dream sex though?” Dianna said slyly as she spotted a gas station turn-off. They needed some gas anyway, although she wasn't sure how they were going to deal with getting Quinn to the bathroom without raising questions.
Quinn rolled her eyes. “The only hand that's going to be touching you inappropriately is going to be your own.”
“I'm sure I can do better than that.” Dianna pulled off the highway, and the change in speed woke Violet up. Violet, groaned as she tried to unfold her legs.
“Vi, get us some gas okay? I'm taking her highness to the bathrooms.”
Tossing Violet the keys and the last of her cash, Dianna got out of the SUV. “Going to have to be creative here,” she muttered, pulling a coat up over the end of the chain and hiding it as best she could. “Come on Maggie.” Dianna really loved the irritated look she got every time she used Quinn's first name.
Quinn walked slowly, her knee stiff from sitting for so long. “Would you please stop calling me that?” she asked, though she doubted Dianna would.
“Not until you're no longer a Ridden.” Dianna slowed a little as they neared the restrooms at back of the gas station. Something seemed strange, and for just as second she thought she felt something like the Gray Zone nearby. Then it was gone and she pushed open the door, staying close to single available stall which Quinn used.
When Quinn exited the stall the hair on the back of her neck rose, and gooseflesh erupted up and down her arms. She sniffed the air. “Go check on Vi, make sure she's okay.”
“Come on, I'm not going to let you go that easily.” Dianna tried a smile but it came out strained. Something wasn't right though, she could feel it in her bones. The fluorescent lights above them flickered, dimming and then coming back on.
“A private gas station just off the highway. Guy lives here alone bet there's a nice little flower garden in his backyard full of the rotting corpses of pretty young things, maybe some fingers in the freezer. Not all bad things in this world are demons.” Quinn growled.
The skin crawled between Dianna's shoulder blades as she considered that she'd just left Violet alone back at the SUV. “Come on.” Dianna yanked open the door, ready to hurry to go check on Violet. She was so worried it never occurred to her that they might be the target.
The man standing outside wasn't demon, but for all Dianna knew he might have demon blood in him. The baseball bat he was carrying caught her in the chest, doubling her over with an ‘Ooph' of pain as she dropped to her knees.
“Gonna enjoy me two little bitches tonight.” He laughed, it was high pitched, almost a giggle hysterical as he stared at Quinn through thick glasses.
“Right… sexual appeal of the succubus – automatic lure for the sexual sadist.” She looked over from Dianna's prone form to the crazy guy and grinned at him. “How about you come here and try to get some.” Quinn backed up a step bringing up her hands and gestured for him to try it.
Once he stepped into the bathroom the combat advantage of the bat was reduced because there was no room to swing it.
Still laughing giggling he stepped in at her, baseball bat raised to get the prize he'd seen from the office.
The laughing giggling didn't last long.
As he stopped struggling Quinn let go of his body leaving him face down in the toilet. She walked over to the sink and washed the blood off her hands. Once she was sure all the blood was gone she went over to Dianna. “You okay?”
“You didn't run.” Dianna got up off the floor, wincing as she touched the spot on her chest where the baseball bat had hit. It stung like hell and she wondered if it had cracked anything. Pushing up off the wall she got to her feet, ignoring the thing in the toilet.
People like him were worse than demons as far as she was concerned – they chose to do horrible things to people.
Quinn made a pained faced. “I knew I was forgetting to do something.”
“Other than drowning the rapist in the toilet?” Dianna glanced at him again, shivered and turned away. “I always seem to attract those guys. High school, grade school...” She shook her head, angrily picking up the end of the chain. “We should check on Vi.”
“Probably because you're comfortable with the power of your sex and sexuality. Guys like that want to have all the power.” Quinn sighed and was dragged out of the bathroom with by the chain. “Maybe we should discuss your fetish with this chain?”
“After we get your soul back you can chain me up.” Dianna only relaxed when she saw Violet waiting for them by the SUV. Shaking her head she decided someone else could deal with the mess in the gas station's bathroom.
“Why wait for me to get my soul back? It'd be more fun now,” Quinn said snarkily getting got into the back of the SUV.
Dianna rolled her eyes. “Come on,” she said in response to Violet's questioning look. “Get in, I'll tell you what happened on the road. We don't want to stay here.”
“Some people just need killing. Tell me I'm wrong?” Quinn challenged from the back seat.
Quinn was becoming more antsy the closer they got to New York. She could feel Alvera's anger and it was to the point that Quinn was a little scared to see her Mistress, not certain she would live through the displeasure that would be dished out. “You killed someone?” Violet's eyes widened and Dianna muttered dark things as she sped away from the gas stop.
Fantastic, Dianna thought, just what she wanted to talk about. “Quinn did, the gas station owner was trying to abduct us.”
“He hit you with a baseball bat,” Quinn interjected, squirming in her seat. Quinn couldn't take the chain off, someone else needed to do that, it couldn't be taken off by the wearer, but Dianna hadn't attached it to anything.
Feeling Violet's wide eyes on her again, Dianna sighed. “Yes, he did. You can look at it later if you want, but we aren't stopping again until we get to the church.” Dianna's eyes flicked to the rear view mirror and then back to the road. It wasn't just her imagination that Quinn's eyes looked redder.
“Was he a bad man?” Violet asked hesitantly.
“Yes, Vi, he was a very bad man. He liked to abduct young women who stopped at his gas station and do horrible things to them.”
“How did you know that?” Dianna demanded, before Violet could ask something else. “You knew it before I opened the door to the bathroom.”
It had been an ache in her bones. Quinn leaned forward fingering the loose links.
“Dianna you should pull over when you have a chance.”
“Again?” Dianna growled, annoyed, still wondering how Quinn could have known before she'd opened the door.
“You didn't attach the chain to anything,” Quinn replied her knuckles white as she clutched the metal in her hand.
The brakes squealed as the SUV slid to the side of the road, almost sending Violet head first into the dashboard. Fumbling with the seat belt with one hand, Dianna twisted and half leapt into the back seat, snatching at the end of the chain. Car horn's blared at them and Violet stared at the two of them in shocked silence.
“Got it.” Dianna let out a breath.
Quinn didn't say anything more, part of her wondering why she mentioned it at all. Maybe it was because she had watched Dianna almost die once, but the urge to take the loose links of chain and wrap them around the woman's throat had been painful. It would have been so easy to do and then she could have started walking back to Alvera, she was so much closer now. Why the fuck had she opened her mouth?
“I think you should wrap it around my wrists now,” Quinn found herself saying. She looked up at Dianna and waited, her knuckles still white on the piece of chain she clutched. Dianna didn't do something soon... her body tensed as she prepared to lunge across the distance that separated them. It was almost like there were two different people living inside her.
“Vi, can you drive?” Dianna asked even as she slithered out of her seat and into the back of the SUV.
“Um… I think so?” Violet's eyes, if possible got a little larger.
“Good, then drive. Just follow the highway, we'll be in Boston soon enough.” At least Dianna hoped it would be soon enough. Carefully she wrapped the chain around Quinn's wrists, binding them together and then for good measure wrapping the end of it around the seat, anchoring her there as Violet got into the drivers seat.
“You stay with us.” Dianna said intently, as she worked. “You stay here, with me.”
Quinn felt some of the tension leave her body as options for escape were taken away. “You kind of have me tied down, it's not like I have a lot of choice.” But the stress of having her connection with Alvera opened up more clearly by proximity won out and she did lunge forward against the chains with a growl. Brought up short, Dianna easily leaned back out of the way.
“I didn't mean your body.” Dianna winced as the kid ground gears before getting the SUV back onto the road. “Good Vi, just keep us going, a bit faster than 50 though okay?”
“Umm… sure.” Violet felt her palms sweating as she accelerated up to flow of traffic, which was officially the fastest she'd ever gone.
Quinn leaned back against the seat closing her eyes. “I just knew about the guy. I can't tell you why. I wouldn't have known except I seem to be more in tune with the Gray. There were a lot of weird, emotional screams coating that gas station. The rest I just guessed, like good old-fashioned police work.” Quinn grinned and then frowned as the word police resonated within her.
“You're a police Detective working near the Gray Zone where we come from; you should be good at good old-fashioned police work,” Dianna reminded her gently, deciding to stay in the back seat with Quinn, just in case.
“Police serve and protect, they don't murder a guy by drowning him in a toilet,” Quinn said, not opening her eyes. Slowly the road noise lulled her to sleep, which wasn't hard considering how little she had gotten.
Alvera pulled on the metaphysical connection between herself and Quinn, annoyed that she still hadn't shown up. There was nothing left in her condo to destroy.
“The connection has gotten stronger. I'm guessing that she's hurt, unconscious or being held captive that's why she cannot come to me,” Alvera snarled. “Get the car ready! We are going to get to the root of Quinn's problem; this is not a good time for any of those things to occur.”
Two more minions had died for Alvera to boost her summoning of Quinn, all three attempts had so far failed and the remaining minions watched their mistress worriedly.
“Where are we going?” One of the braver one's spoke up.
Alvera closed her eyes and slowly turned. “North-east,” she said opening her eyes again. “Now go get the fucking car!”
Quinn collapsed back into her seat, with a grunt. “Ah...shit. That fucking hurts.” Her face was dotted in sweat and a small trickle of blood came from her nose. “Hmmph,” she grunted, inarticulately trying to find a comfortable position. Even her toenails hurt after that last summoning.
“That was worse than the previous two.” Dianna leaned back, sighing in relief as the thrashing ended. She'd actually had to hold onto Quinn through this one, afraid that the woman's violent thrashing would break the car seat. “ I wish I could take your pain again, but I don't know what that will do to the piece of soul I have. We can't risk it, not now.”
In the front seat, Violet had slowly relaxed, enough so that she'd not driven the car right off the road when the summons had started Quinn's thrashing. “I think we're almost there,” she said, hopefully, taking the exit off the highway. They almost in Boston, and Dianna's directions said the church should only be another few miles from there.
Double-checking the chains, Dianna raised an eyebrow at a sweating Quinn. “You ready to meet your father?”
“No,” Quinn croaked out. “Can I have some water or something?” she asked. Her head was pounding, her mouth dry. Quinn opened her red eyes, regarding Dianna. “Between you and Alvera I'm never going to get any sleep.”
There was soda from the drive-through lunch they'd had and Dianna opened it, carefully holding the bottle to Quinn's lips. “You can sleep soon,” she promised. Whatever happened, it would all be over soon.
“She's coming, are you sure you're ready for that?” Quinn said feeling better now that there was liquid on her throat. The more time Quinn spent near Dianna the more she became conflicted in her desire to stay or flee.
Dianna smiled. “What better place to deal with a demon than in a Church?”
Quinn looked at Dianna, taking in everything about her. “Why are you doing this? I set you up with Tony's thugs to get an in. I shot you. Of all the responses to have, trying to save my soul isn't the first one that occurs to me.”
“Don't worry.” Dianna leaned down a little in her seat so that she could watch the church that they were pulling into. It looked like a thousand others, simple gray stone walls with a bell tower on one corner and a steeple roof. It disturbed her, and she knew she wasn't going to enjoy being inside. “I'll be a complete bitch to you about this once we have your soul back.”
The church was a simple one-story building. It was not as old or as grand as some of the other Catholic churches that had been built along the shoreline; missionaries had been sent up and down the Eastern coast to consecrate holy ground in the new world that had been discovered. But that was as far as the religious push had gone. The Church had over extended itself and its power and had to focus on demon attacks in Rome.
Throughout the New England area there had been a Catholic revival and small churches new and modern had been built right after world war two . This was a simple church with a garden and teaching hall.
There were only two cars other than their own in the parking lot “You know this plan of yours really sucks.” Quinn said.
“You got a better one?” Dianna barely winced as Violet ground the gears putting the SUV into park. “Because now's the time.”
“I like the one where you take this stupid chain off.”
“The one where you then try to kill us? Forgive me if I don't take you up on that.” Undoing the chain from around the chair, Dianna pushed open the car door. “Come on Vi. You don't want to be alone out here when Alvera shows up.” Dianna slung a chain-wrapped Quinn over her shoulder, ignoring the protests.
“She's coming here?” Violet hoped down out of the cab, graceful as always.
“Hey, you asked what my plan was.” Quinn really didn't want to go into the church, almost every fiber of her being screamed out against it.
Dianna made an annoyed sound. “Yeah, I'm not too big on going in their either, trust me. Your dad throws holy water on me and I'm going to punch out his lights. Actually, I might do that anyway for causing all this shit in the first place.”
Violet ran ahead, yanking open the front door for them to enter. “Here goes nothing,” Dianna muttered, carrying Quinn through the doors and onto holy ground.
The church was quiet, an oppressive quiet that muffled everything.
Next to the back pews an older man was bent over sanding at the word 'fuck' that had been scratched into the wood.
“Hello?” Dianna called, still holding Quinn thrown over a shoulder. Violet stood nearby, hesitant as she looked around.
On hearing the door the man straightened up and blinked at them. “Um... yes... can help you?” he stammered out at the strange sight.
“Father Quinn?” she asked, hopefully.
“I'm sorry, no. I'm Father Daniels. Father Quinn is... ill.” Father Quinn had actually gone on a bender.
Dianna growled. “I don't care how sick he is, is he here?”
“Yes, he's in his rooms but is there something I can help you with?”
“No. We need to talk to him.” Dianna nodded at the woman in chains that she was carrying. “His daughter needs his help.”
“Oh,” he said, looking at the woman with the red eyes. “You're Maggie Quinn?”
Quinn's eyes narrowed. “That's what they keep telling me. Honestly I don't remember or believe much of it.”
“Oh,” was all the priest could think of to say. “I... this way.”
“Vi, stay here okay?” Dianna gave a reassuring smile. “Just stay in the church, no going wondering around.”
Violet nodded. “Good luck,” she called after them; hopeful that maybe she'd meet the real Quinn sometime soon.
Father Daniels took them through the church to a small apartment off the kitchen.
Quinn wrinkled her nose at the smell of stale sweat, vomit and alcohol. The sink was filled with empty bottles.
Father Daniels knocked on a door. “Connor? Connor, there are some people here to see you. One of them says she's your daughter.” There was no sound from the other side of the door. He knocked louder. “Connor, open the door.”
Finally they could hear someone moving and then a crashing noise as glass hit the floor.
Eventually the door opened and a skinny man with pale skin and bloodshot eyes opened the door. “I'm on retreat. Just go away, all of you go away,” he slurred out.
Quinn looked at that man skeptically. “That's my father? No wonder I sold my soul.”
Dianna, who was still carrying her, snorted in agreement, pushing her way past the priest to dump the chained up Quinn onto his unmade bed. “Time to repent for your sins Father, the day of reckoning has arrived.”
Quinn made a face at the smell. “Could you maybe put me on a chair out in the kitchen? His room stinks.”
Father Quinn just blinked, his mouth opening and closing. Father Daniels watched curiously. “Connor, what is she talking about 'repent for your sins'?”
Father Quinn turned snapping at his counterpart; “Nothing, none of your business. And you all...” He turned pointing a finger. “Leave me alone.”
Quinn stood up, a struggle with her hands bound, and walked over to her father. “I've been told you are my father. I don't remember you and if this is how you are I can't say I'm surprised. What surprises me is the fact that I apparently sold my soul when it was your fault, that you were the one who was the sinner. Did you actually promise your son's soul to a demon?”
The slap that followed echoed loudly throughout the room.
Quinn blinked, her cheek stinging. An angry look washed over her face and she head-butted her father.
Father Daniels looked on horrified. “Would someone please tell me what is going on?”
Since it looked like Quinn was in no danger of getting beaten up, even with her hands chained, Dianna shrugged. “Apparently the good father Quinn sold his son's soul to a demon named Alvera in exchange for the soul of his wife, who had previously had an agreement with Alvera. Stay with me here,” she said as the confused frown only got deeper on Father Daniels' face. “But instead of letting that happen the son sold his soul to a different demon, to make his own choice as it were. In retaliation Alvera went after Quinn's family, seduced the husband, got him to sell her their son's soul. So, Quinn being Quinn, she bartered her own soul to free the son's soul from hell. You got it? Good, because I'm not repeating that again.”
The look of horror didn't go away. “Maggie is this true?”
“Yes,” two voices said in unison as Quinn and her Father both answered.
Father Daniels sat down in a chair. “Oh Connor, what have you done?”
Quinn's father got up and staggered to the sink. He wet a washcloth and put it over his nose to stem the flow of blood. “I had to Jim. I loved her so much I had to save her soul.”
“At what cost? You willingly gave up an innocent soul.”
“To save her yes.”
“To think I named my son after you,” Quinn said, disgusted. “You know if I had a soul I think I'd be sad and devastated by all of this.” She shuffled over to the cabinets and started looking around in them, easily finding many different types of alcohol. It was awkward with her bound hands, but she pulled out a bottle of whiskey. “Well now I know why I like this stuff, must be genetic.”
Both men missed Dianna's sharp look at Quinn, she'd never told Quinn what the name of her son had been. That had to be a good sign. “Either way,” Dianna said, turning to Father Daniels, “You should leave this place. Alvera is coming to get back what is hers and this place won't be safe.”
Father Daniels sighed and stood up, smiling at Dianna. “Young Lady this is the Lord's house all are welcome, even a demon, a sinner, and the damned. For those are the ones that need him most.” He gave a long look at Father Quinn. “And unlike some, it is tough times that call on us to give our most. I will not leave those who would need my guidance.”
“You do realize that she'll kill anyone she finds between her and Quinn.” Dianna was curious; this was the first man who hadn't actually blanched at the mention of an enraged full demon coming his way.
”I will admit I am not a warrior priest like you would find in Europe, but I have taken my oaths to God, and they mean something to me. I have lived a life dedicated to those oaths. It has been a good life, and one I hope will not end soon, but if I were to flee, turn my back on those oaths that have given my life meaning and happiness, then I would not have much of a life,” he replied quietly. He frowned looking at Quinn, “Connor, take a shower, clean yourself up and try to reflect on this. Perhaps spend sometime with your daughter before that moment is gone.” Turning to leave he said to know one. “I will make some lunch for us all.”
Quinn poured a drink and shakily tried to sip it with both hands tied. “Now there is a man I would love to claim as my dad.”
“Would all of you get out!” Father Connor Quinn bellowed.
Quinn held out her hands and shook them making the chains clink. “Could you remove them... please?” she asked Dianna.
They were alone in the kitchen among the aftermath of lunch. Violet was resting on the couch in Father Daniel's office and Quinn's father had yet to leave his rooms. Father Daniel was now staining the pew he had sanded.
“I'm not sure which one is more of a bastard, you're dad or mine. Of course you're father didn't rape your mother,” Dianna said contemplatively, swirling the glass of iced tea she'd been given to drink with lunch. Dianna could feel Quinn's eyes studying her. “Will you try to kill someone if I do?”
“It's possible, especially when Alvera shows up.” Quinn didn't lie. “I was thinking I'd find someplace quiet to take a nap” Someplace private she hoped, where she might even work out some of the tension she'd been feeling since their shared dream last night.
Snorting, Dianna reached over, undoing the chains from around her hands but leaving it around her waist. “You should sleep while you can,” Dianna agreed. Neither of them knew what would happen when Alvera arrived, rest would be useful.
Quinn picked up her drink finishing it. “I hate being around you. You make me remember things,” Quinn said setting down her finished drink. “The longer I'm around you the more comes back.” She stood up annoyed that the chain was still around her waist, but knowing Dianna wouldn't remove it.
“You remembered the name of your son,” Dianna said softly. “Can you remember anything else?”
“I don't want to remember any more. A father who doesn't love me, a son I failed and there's more. How I've let down and failed people? How they've let me down? Thank you, no, I don't want to remember.” Quinn walked towards the door and paused. “He had a smile that could light up my world. His hair was red like mine, but he had his father's nose, and he was too smart even at three for his own good.”
Watching Quinn walk away Dianna sighed, feeling the ache in her chest ease. “If you don't remember him, who will?” she called after her.
Quinn paused again and turned around looking at Dianna, her red eyes clearly showing her conflict. “Dianna...” Quinn shook her head. “Come on lets find me someplace to rest and you can tie me up like a good dog.”
##### natural break
They found Quinn a place, in what were apparently guest rooms in the church's basement. “I bet the good Father lets people stay here when their houses burn down or something else happens to them,” Dianna said, securing the chains to the side of the simple bed that would at least let Quinn get some sleep.
“I checked on Violet, she's sound out. I don't think she's recovered from all the healing yet.” Taking a seat on the other bed, Dianna watched Quinn. “I should call Melva, tell her that I've found her protégé and that we'll keep her safe, but I just can't deal with another set of problems yet.”
“I'm going to be mad at you if she dies.” Quinn said, and then realized if Dianna and Violet died she would just forget after awhile. She shook her head and looked at Dianna. What the hell, Quinn thought, she was going to either forget or die soon. Getting up she tried to walk over to Dianna only to come up short. With a frown she went back to the bed and flopped down on it. “Fine,” she muttered and closed her eyes.
“Nothing. I was just going to... nothing. I'm just going to go to sleep so you don't need to hang out and baby-sit me. I'm tied up and going nowhere,” Quinn said grumpily.
“If I wasn't already damned because of what I am, this certainly would do it for me.” Dianna laughed, standing up off the bed and giving the human a poke in her side. “Scoot over.” Dianna nestled into the bed next to Quinn, spooning.
It wasn't really what Quinn had had in mind. She had been hoping for something more vigorous. A few minutes later though her eyes closed and she was snoring.
“Sleep,” Dianna whispered, holding onto her and staring at the wall, thoughts churning as she did. Again and again her thoughts kept circling back to the same question she'd been thinking about for days now.
How were they going to kill Alvera?
“This is Agent Green.”
“Uh, yes, Agent Green, this is Father Daniels we talked once before I work at the same church as Father Quinn.”
“Father, yes I remember you, what can I do for you?” Green knew Quinn would show up sooner or later.
“Well you asked to call if Maggie Quinn showed up. Well she's here with some others. They seem to be in trouble. A fairly powerful demon named Alvera is on her way here after Ms. Quinn. I'm concerned that, well, there may be a battle here, one that could hurt innocent bystanders.”
“Of course thank you for calling Father, I'll be there as soon as I can with a team.”
Father Daniels hung up biting his lip, he didn't like Agent Green, but it was the man's job to fight demons something that they were ill-prepared to handle.
Green smirked and hung up the phone. He turned looking at his partner. “We've got that bitch. She ran to her father. Get a six man team and we'll take a copter to Boston.”
Upstairs in the same building, Capitan Mark Hart was looking through a package that had arrived two days ago. His late girlfriend Susan had made arrangements for him to receive it if something ever happened to her. He had been horrified to discover that not only had Susan been experimenting on her own sister, but also two other people, in secret, outside the program.
Susan had not only feared that the program had been compromised, but that also the lead research scientist was taking the project in the wrong direction. She had thought that they were only building on the work that the Church had done decades before through the creation of half-breed warriors.
There was a whole slew of ancient texts that Mark didn't understand, but in her notes Susan theorized that there were demonic-like beings who were probably the foundation of Angels. They were demons, or others, that benefited mankind and worked with mankind by killing demons. One was a Stone Demon from Tibet, it resided in Temples awaking to protect the monks inside if there was an attack. Another was from China, a great golden wyrm or dragon. By giving the creature shiny objects like gold and jewels its favor could be bought for protection.
Susan went on to theorize that these creatures were offshoots from angels, and that once there had been beings fairly humanoid with wings that had guarded and helped mankind from demons, but almost all had fallen by being seduced by mortal or demon lovers. Yet their bloodline could be traced back. Mark rubbed his eyes as he sifted through family tree after family tree. As he unrolled another sheet a small vial fell out. Only quick reflexes allowed him to catch it before it hit the floor and broke.
It was labeled ‘Final Injection: Cruorem Angelus'. Though a very badly lapsed Catholic Mark was nearly positive it translated as ‘blood of angels'. He looked at the family tree in his other hand. A family somewhere in Greece was descended of angels. He wasn't certain he was better for knowing. It meant that once there had been hope, and now that hope was destroyed. The angels were dead.
There was a knock on his door and barked out; “Enter.”
“Sir, you wanted to be notified the moment the name Maggie Quinn hit the airwaves.”
“Yes.” Mark looked up staring at the intern.
“Two minutes ago, Agent Green received a phone call activating those keywords.” The young man walked over handing the Capitan a jump drive. “The conversation is on here.”
“Thank you. Please detain Agent Green. Dismissed.”
“ Yes sir On it .”
Mark plugged the drive into his computer and opened the audio file.
Agent Green shifted uncomfortably, he had never been summoned upstairs. “Agent, Capitan Hart will see you now.”Green nodded and approached the door.
“Agent Green get in here and shut the door!”
Green frowned, closing the door behind him as he entered his superior officers room. “You wanted to see me sir?” He was itching to go; they needed to get moving now.
“You want to explain to me why you are putting a team together to go to Boston. Considering your past crusade against one Maggie Quinn cost the Department money and wasted manpower.” Mark didn't bother looking up at the agent. “You were put on desk duty for a reason. Flying to Boston is not desk duty.”
“Sir!” Green tensed. “She's in Boston, with a full demon coming for her, we can't just stay here and do nothing. Maggie Quinn needs to be stopped; I can take her down this time Sir.”
“I find it interesting that Maggie Quinn is the focus of this and not the demon coming to attack a church.” Mark did look up now, staring at Green. “Seems to me a human would be the least of your worries and focus in such a situation, or maybe you need to go through the program again and get re-certified?”
Green worked hard to avoid grinding his teeth together. “Sir, that woman is a threat to everyone around her. She mislead all her colleagues for years. She's the center of everything that's happening. Take her out and we won't have to worry about demon incursions to get at her.”
“You best think very long and hard about those sentences because they are the biggest pile of crap I've ever heard. These medals and stripes weren't given to me because I'm an idiot.” Mark set down the pen in his hand and stood up. “Maggie Quinn is a human, no matter if she sold her soul, she would still be the smaller threat compared to a full demon. So again you want to tell me what the focus of your mission is?”
Green's nostrils flared but he kept himself from answering through sheer force of will, knowing a slip up here and he'd be lucky to remain an agent. “Sir, regardless of this it falls under our purview. I can handle the entire situation with a special ops team. We use her to get the demon.”
Mark was quickly loosing patience with Green, who was very close to being demoted to civilian status and being retired to a mental institution. “This is your last chance Green, fuck this up, loose focus and cost us the lives of not one but two priests, one of whom is the father of the woman you seem to have a personal vendetta against, and I will throw you to the media wolves.” He watched Green, waiting for an argument.
“Yes sir.” Green nodded choppily. “The entire thing will be wrapped up sir. I just need the chopper and the special ops team.”
“You will be adding Lauren to your team.”
“What?” Green gathered himself. “I mean; What sir? I thought she was in the hands of the white coats?”
“The whole point of this project is to create human hybrids to help us kill Demons. The white coats have had plenty of time to examine her, she is the only stable creation we have, it's about time we saw what she can do in the field. Any other complaints?”
“You trust her to do what we want and not turn on us?”
“Now why would she turn on us Green?”
“She had a previous association with the people in the church, she could be more influenced by demons then we know. I doubt she's happy to have been examined by the white coats.” Green was sweating a little now.
“Perhaps you would like to watch the months worth of raw video feed where she is curled up in a little ball crying. While we uncaringly inject her with random crap. Perhaps if we try and make her a part of this, give what was done to her a greater purpose, she might not be so resentful. Although I didn't drag her out of the hospital room where her girlfriend was recovering from a coma. Oh yes, I read that part, you're a real humanitarian Green. So being team leader you better make your team work, without casualities causalities , and bring everyone home.”
Green knew he wasn't going to enjoy this mission, not at all. “Yes sir. I'll get it done. Where is she now?”
“I will go down and make sure she is ready to go. You get the rest of your team to the helo pad and we'll meet you there. Dismissed.”
“Yes sir.” Green saw himself out, only just resisting the urge to slam the door behind him.
Mark opened a drawer and pulled out the vial of Angel's Blood. He clutched it in his palm and exited his office. “I'll be down in the pens for a few, hold all my calls and reschedule anything that comes up.”As exited the elevator Mark announced; “Get Ms. Esponiza up and out of there, we are sending her on a mission with Agent Green and his team to Boston.”
When everyone blinked at him he frowned and then barked out; “Now!”
“Uh, Captain, are you sure that's a wise decision?” A nervous looking scientist stood up from the bench where he'd been studying the latest round of results.
“You've had your chance to work out the secret of her blood, and you haven't. This project was designed to create something like Lauren, it's high time we got field data.”
The doctor frowned. “You put her out in the field and we could loose any chance we have to finish our studies. I don't think the Senator would approve of this.”
“How about I call the Senator and I point out how you have failed to find an answer despite bleeding the girl dry? How about I show him all the raw video feeds of her crying in her cell why you just stare at her like some sort of rare bug? How about you do something with all those blood samples you have stored in your freezers? And I'll call the Pentagon and explain why we have no actual field data of her actually killing a demon, so we may just be paying you all for nothing because she can't actually do any of the things you say she can because we have no data to back up your claims. Now will you do what I say, or do we have to have a pissing contest to see who wins?”
It took all Mark's self-control not to hit the Doctor.
The Doctor scowled. “Fine, but I'm making it clear that this is against my wishes and I'll make certain the Senator knows that.”
“Put it in your report, since that's all you're good at.”
“Try not to lose her,” the Doctor called after Mark as he left.
Mark grunted in response. He waited in the briefing room for Lauren to be brought to him. He was alone, even though his aids had argued against it for safety. He didn't think she'd hurt him or at least kill him.
A knock at the door interrupted his musings. “Sir?” The young guard outside stuck his head in. “She's here. You certain you want to see her here?”
“Yes. Hurry up we only have 15 min before the copters leave.”
The young man nodded and held the door open wider so that the woman in chains behind him could shuffle through. “I'll be right outside Sir,” he called, closing the door behind him. Lauren was dressed in bright orange overalls that were very reminiscent of prison uniforms. The chains around her wrists and ankles were shackled together.
Mark stood and pulled out a chair for her. “Please have a seat.”
“You going to shock me or something if I don't?” Lauren shuffled forward towards the chair, the chains clinking as she did.
“No. If you'd rather stay standing that is fine.” Mark cleared his throat not certain where to start. He got up and poured a glass of water and set it on the table closest to her. “This may mean nothing, but I argued to have you released. Obviously I was not successful.”
He sat back down. “I dated your sister. We met on this project. Now that she's dead I discover I didn't really know her at all. I can't believe she did this to you, despite how successful it seems to have been. Susan theorized that through your mother, being of Chinese decent, there were genetic markers hidden in your DNA that could be turned on. These markers are part of an ancestral history that puts you in a the same linage as the children of angels.” At Lauren's look he just shrugged. “In the event anything happened to her she had her research sent to me, I've looked it over. She believed it. So do I.“
Mark tapped his fingers nervously on the table. “You two would have shared the same genetics so Susan could have tested herself, but obviously she did not. You're special Lauren. As you have seen we have cages full of failed and violent experiments. The serum can change anyone to have demonic aspects it can even make half-demons full demons. It won't last 24 hours unless you kill someone, there is a chemical released during such an event that makes the serum permanent, so you see there's nothing I can do to reverse what's happened.”
Lauren sat down; part of her had hoped that this could all be reversed. Now she found her legs didn't work so well.
“I can get you out of the clutches of the scientists but I can't free you. I'm going to send you out on a mission. There will be opportunities to escape, and it's up to you if you want to take them, but know that you'll be hunted. Or you can perform well, save lives, kill demons and come back. I know that's less appealing, but in returning I can work within the organization to get you more freedom; work at making you part of the team. I'm sorry I know its like being stuck between a rock and a hard place but it's the best I can do right now.”
Lauren stared at him, confused. “You dated my sister?” was the first question that actually made it out of her mouth, although there were a lot of others tumbling around in her head. “Did my parents know?”
Mark gave Lauren a bemused smile. After all he'd just said her chosen question was amusing. “I don't know. Susan never invited me home to meet them. We talked about me joining her at Christmas but I guess that won't be happening now.” He cleared his throat. “Lauren I have 5 minutes left to get you suited up for the mission. I need to know if you can do this.”
“She never said anything about a boyfriend…” For some reason to Lauren it seemed like an even worse betrayal than everything else. She swallowed against tears. “Yeah. Kill a demon, sure, I can do that.” She scrubbed at her eyes angrily. “What demon?”
Mark was silent for a moment. Susan had never mentioned him. She had trusted him with the secrets of his research but not with her parents or sister. “I'm learning Susan kept a lot of secrets.” He smiled sadly. “Demon, yes, that I don't know. A priest called from a church outside of Boston saying demons were on their way to his church. Agent Green will be leading a team with you on it.” He held up a hand. “I know he's a prick. I know what he did, and he's two seconds from being busted-down to pen cleaner. I believe Maggie Quinn might be at this church. So not only will you be defeating a demon you'll be helping your friends.” Mark stood and picked a duffel bag up off the floor setting it on table. “There are clothes in here, and boots. Your size. I will step out and let you get changed.”
He set down a needle and two vials. “One is a Tibetan stone golem something you've used before. The other is from your sister, it's labeled ‘Final Injection'. It's up to you which one you use. I have no idea what it will do but according to your sisters notes you will no longer mimic other demons, this will be your final form. When you are changed come out the door and you will be fitted with a collar. It has GPS and a camera so we can record data. This will also protect you from any hearsay on the behalf of Agent Green.”
“A collar? So taking away my freedom wasn't enough, now you want me to go around like some sort of slave?” Lauren fingered the heavy silver looking thing, instantly disliking the idea of it.
“I'm sorry Lauren, but I've hit a stonewall in getting you your freedom the best we can do now is prove you're a team player so they'll slowly reduce your restrictions. As I already explained you'll have plenty of opportunities to escape, it's up to you if you want to spend your life hunted or not. These people will not just let you go.” He placed the keys to the chains on the table and then moved to the door and opened it. “Just open the door when you're done changing,” he concluded before leaving.
There really was no choice, not if Lauren wanted to avoid going back to being poked and prodded all day long. She stripped and put on the clothes, boots and, after a long minute of staring at it, the collar around her neck.
“I'm ready,” she said, pocketing the vials and syringe before opening the door.
Mark smiled at her and waved a technician forward to check the camera and GPS in the collar. “I'm Captain Hart, guess I should have mentioned that, or maybe I did. You can call me Mark if you wish, I completely understand if you don't.”
With a nod from the technician Mark smiled. “Looks like we're ready to introduce you to the team.”
Father Daniels hung up the phone. He didn't particularly like that Agent Green, but they were not qualified to deal with major demon attack. The church might not be in the best neighborhood but there were still people who lived nearby that could be hurt.
He put away the wood stain and brushes and washed his hands. Who knew when this Alvera would arrive? He started making soup and sandwiches while he mentally began cataloging any weapons they had.
Downstairs, after some grumbling, Quinn was asleep. She snored slightly, her body curled as much as it could be, being chained, against Dianna.
Upstairs though, Violet turned and shifted on the couch. Confused half-memories merged with dreams reminding her of a dark place that she'd never seen before but knew well. Dark corridors led past ghosts that watched her and begged her for things she couldn't describe.
Violet woke up with a startled scream, eyes wide, chest heaving. There had been a hallway, long and dark, lined with metal doors behind which things lurked.
“An asylum,” she whispered, having been to places like that, having spent time in them. But none of them had been anything like that, why would she dream of something so horrible?
There'd been someone else there with her, she was sure of it. She'd been almost about to see their face.
“ Her face,” Violet whispered, getting up off the couch and rubbing at her eyes to clear them. It had been a woman next to her, she didn't know how she knew it, but she was certain of it.
Father Daniels came into the room. “Are you okay?” he asked looking around the room.
“No.” Violet shivered, turning towards him. A loud thud came from above and she glanced up at the ceiling. “Was that Quinn's dad?”
“It might be. Is there something I can help you with? I've made some soup and sandwiches if you're hungry I could bring some down to you?”
She smiled. “Thank you. I think I want to talk to him though.” Violet hesitated as she indicated the room above, meaning Father Quinn. “Would he talk to me?”
“I don't know, but your welcome to try. I've... I've called the church officials to let them know what he's done. They'll send out an investigator but that will take a few days. He doesn't seem to be talking to anyone.” Father Daniels reached out a hand, helping Violet up. “I'm sad to say he's not really the man I thought he was.”
Violet nodded. “People are like that.” Her eyes blanked for a second and she held on tighter to the older man's hand. “You're heart's weak.” She blinked, returning to normal as she let go of his hand. “Sorry.” She swallowed, baking away fast. “I'm going to try to talk to him because no one else will. Quinn's not going to talk to anyone and Dianna's too worried about Quinn.”
Father Quinn nodded, bemused. “I know my heart is weak. I had a heart attack last year. Now I eat allsorts of things that are good for me but taste horrible.” He stepped forward taking her arm. “God, I think, has blessed you with an amazing talent. One that I think most will fear. Come on I will take you to Father Quinn, and I will try not to think too hard what those two women might or might not be doing two doors down.”
“Sleeping father, I think that's what they are doing.” Violet found herself liking this man, he'd called both of them women, not damned or demons or something worse. “I'd like that. I think he deserves to talk to someone.”
Father Daniels nodded and led her up the stairs until they were standing outside Father Quinn's rooms. He reached up and knocked on the door. “Connor there is a young woman here to talk to you.”
It was quiet for a moment, then the door opened. Father Quinn had recently showered but his eyes were still bloodshot as he looked at them hopefully. The look fell when he saw Violet. “Yes,” he said, looking at them both.
Father Daniels patted Violets arm. “I'll be next door in the kitchen just come find me when you're ready for some soup.”
For a few seconds Violet stood in the doorway, not sure what she should say or do. This man was a complete stranger to her, even if she liked to think she knew his daughter.
“He's nice. Father Daniels that is.” she said finally, to say something. “He should mind his own business.” Father Quinn said grumpily. “Look girl we don't have anything to talk about.” He stepped backward, his hand going to the door.
“Your daughter loves you.” Violet said quickly, voice rising half an octave. “I mean, she would if she had a soul, but she loves you no matter what, you're her dad. I just… I thought you might need someone to talk to. And I'm good at listening.”
Father Quinn stopped and turned, looking at her. “I'm a failure and a fraud.” He looked tired and old all of a sudden. “I try to live each day, somehow I make it through, but I just loved her so much. We didn't plan on having kids, we thought that would be the best way to avoid paying up on our end of the deal. Somehow my wife got pregnant anyhow.” He shuffled past Violet and grabbed a random alcohol bottle, unscrewing the top and taking a drink. “What do you want me to talk about kid? How I'm not sure I ever loved my kids? How I'm too weak to do the right thing by them? I never asked her to give her soul up to that demon, that's not my fault.”
“Okay.” Violet didn't believe him, and didn't think he believed any of it either, but at least Father Quinn was talking. “You have to figure out what to do. Killing yourself up here won't stop what's going to happen. She's coming, the Demoness, and once she gets here nothing's going to be the same.”
“What do you think I should do kid? Beg for mercy. Offer myself in Maggie's place. I'm not that strong. I've seen what demons do.” He shuddered and took another drink.
Violet shrugged. “It's Violet, my name, not kid. I don't know what you should do, but you should do something. Just sitting here, waiting for something, it's the same as suicide.”
“Again, Violet, what should we do? Run, they just find you. Stand and fight. What does it matter?”
“I guess it depends on if you want to be worthy of her love, or not.” Violet said, slowly watching him.
Father Quinn let his head hang, the bottle rested in his hands as he reflected on Violet's words. “I'm never going to be worthy of her or Caine's love.” He looked up. “I tried to be a good father but I was just going through the motions. We were all strangers so I sent them to go live with a distant relative and begged the church to take me back. They're so desperate for priests they forgave me and let me back in. I loved their mother so damn much. She was beautiful she captured me the first time our gazes met.” His eyes became distant as he got lost in the memory.
“Did she…” Violet blinked, considering the idea and decided to ask it. “Did she bewitch you?”
“Maybe, does it matter? I can't change how I felt about her. Plus she still loved me even after we got her soul back.”
Violet shook her head, it didn't matter anymore anyway. “How did she die? Quinn doesn't remember and I don't think she'd tell me if she did.”
“Cancer. I had to watch her waste away. Nothing we could do. By the time it was discovered it was too late.” He took a drink. “She died when Caine was 15 and Maggie was 12. So thankfully she didn't see Caine lose his soul. She tried to find something, anything, so he wouldn't have to suffer that fate.” Father Quinn remembered all the sleepless nights while his wife Camilla tried to find something that would save his soul. “In the end the kid did it himself.”
“You sound proud of him, proud of both of them.” Violet hedged her bets about Maggie, he hadn't really said anything about her yet.
“Maggie made her own way. Caine and I were gone and she decided to give to others what we didn't give to her. We've been estranged but she would visit me. She loved me more than I deserved. Invited me to her wedding to that awful husband of hers and I even baptized her son.” He was crying a little now. “I don't know how to help.”
“God will show you a way.” Violet was certain of that as she stood up and hugged the old man.
Father Quinn stiffened at the hug but then relaxed with a barking laugh. “I think that's my line Violet.”
Father Daniels peeked in the doorway with a smile. “Soup is ready,” he said softly wondering if Connor would join them.
“I like soup.” Violet smiled, pulling Father Quinn with her toward the door. “You should eat,” she told him seriously. “You're hungry and the alcohol has damaged your liver.”
Father Quinn blinked and looked at Violet. She'd had him sitting at the table before he'd even realized it. Father Daniels had deftly freed the bottle of alcohol and poured it out into the sink before setting down bowls of soup in front of everyone. “We'll just let the other two sleep.”
Violet bit her lip, taking a sip of soup to keep from saying anything. She rather thought they might not want to know that the two women in the basement weren't actually sleeping anymore.
“I know we said I wouldn't do this again,” Dianna whispered, pushing down the pants that Quinn was wearing so she could slide fingers through the wetness she found between Quinn's legs. “But I lied.” She groaned, sucking on the woman's neck as she held her from behind, fingers sliding in and out.
“Oh... uh... lie all you want if this is the result,” Quinn gasped out. Her hips moved with Dianna's fingers. The chain was frustrating enough but having Dianna behind her made it impossible for her to touch. “God, I knew you were trouble the first time I walked into your bar to pull you in on a case. Knew you'd fucking turn my world upside down. Thomas wasn't too pleased when I told him about it either, apparently he'd heard of you.” Quinn was babbling as Dianna's tongue danced on the pulse point on her neck.
“Did he worry I'd do something?” Dianna purred at the idea, her finger thumb strumming across the nubbin of flesh, grinning as she felt Quinn tremble in response. “Did he worry I'd seduce you? Take you away?”
“You had a reputation, so he was a little worried. Which was better than asking if he could watch.” Quinn's breath hitched and her muscles went ridged. “Right there. Please don't stop,” she begged, eyes closing tightly as heat boiled inside her.
“Never going to stop,” Dianna whispered, her voice harsh as she pressed her own hips into Quinn, feeling Quinn's emotion exploding . . “Never going to stop Maggie.”
Quinn didn't hear the use of her name, she was busy being tumbled by the pleasure shooting through her body. All Quinn could hear was the blood rushing in her ears. Finally after a hoarse cry she flopped limply on to the bed, and Dianna. Quinn shivered slightly as Dianna's breath washed over the skin of her neck. After a long couple of minutes she licked dry lips and said; “I could return the favor?”
“You already did.” Dianna kissed the bared skin of Quinn's neck again. “But you can do it when you have your soul back.” Dianna smiled against Quinn's skin. “Sorry I couldn't let you sleep more, but I don't think we have much more time.” There'd been a sense in the air that she'd learned a long time ago not to ignore.
“I still don't understand how you can get-off on my pleasure,” Quinn said with a shake of her head. Quinn didn't want to move. The orgasm had over-shadowed her other senses until now, but Dianna saying something had opened a different kind of tension in her body, something related to of the proximity of Alvera. “I don't want to slip away again. I remember more now than I have in a long time. You, Lauren, and Blue I don't want all of that gone.” There was something important nibbling at Quinn's thoughts, something she needed to tell Dianna.
“Blue is upstairs, she's calling herself Violet now.” Dianna sighed, knowing their time was passing quickly. “I don't know where Lauren is. I'm worried she might have gotten taken by the DA guys. That's one of the reason's we need you back. I can't find her on my own.”
“The DA has three offices; Baltimore, New Orleans and San Francisco. I would guess she's in or near the Baltimore office.” Quinn turned as much as she could and kissed what skin was near her lips , talking quickly while she could . “ Avera She ... ah... can't... hurt you. Per our agreement friends and family are off-limits.” Quinn felt a tug at her consciousn conscious ness and sweat beaded her forehead, Alvera was calling her. “I... ah... I'm sorry... I didn't mean to hurt you... I was there, watching so I could step in... before things got bad.... I'm sorry. Gah!” Quinn's hands started to tremble.
Dianna grabbed one of Quinn's hands. “Don't fight it, it's okay. I'll be here when we bring you back.” She kissed Quinn slowly, committing the feel to memory in case things went very badly.
“You should go,” Quinn said once the kiss had ended. “I don't want to hurt you and I'm not getting loose from these chains without help.”
“I'm staying with you, so you can shove that martyrdom stick.” Untwining from around Quinn, Dianna got up off the bed, pulling Quinn up onto her feet.
“Dianna, it's not Martyrdom, it's survival 101,” Quinn said, but her expression was getting colder as Alvera got closer.
Dianna snorted. “Then fuck survival.”
Quinn tugged at the chains. “How about you let me go and I can fuck you?”
“Bye Maggie.” Dianna whispered, shaking her head. The real Quinn hadn't been with her for more than a handful of minutes this time. “Later Quinn. Come on, time to go upstairs. I think your mistress is about to come calling.”
“I told you to take the kid and run but know you had to save me. See where that got you.” Quinn snarled as she was being dragged up the stairs.
Grimacing, Dianna had to half-carry Quinn who squirmed. “Either way the kid's going to be safe, I'll make sure of that.” Quinn's last words were playing through Dianna's mind. She had to use that to her advantage, somehow. “Violet! Father Daniel, Father Quinn! I think we're about to have visitors!” she yelled towards the upstairs rectory.
Outside a dark sedan pulled into the driveway. “How ironic?” Alvera said seeing the church.
Inside Violet clattered down the stairs, pausing as she saw Dianna and the struggling Quinn. “You” Dianna pointed at her. “You stay upstairs, no coming down, got it?” Violet nodded, eyes wide. “Father Daniels, you keep her safe, understood?” Still holding Quinn Dianna glared at Father Daniels.
“Are you sure?” Father Daniels asked.
“Unless you have a sword that you know how to use, yes I'm sure.” Dianna grimaced. She could feel the demon getting closer now; she must be right outside the front doors.
“Well we have some swords but I haven't really been trained to use them.”
“Then keep her safe, she's an innocent, you're supposed to protect them aren't you?” Dianna had to pin Quinn to one of the pews she was writhing so much.
Violet bit her lip. “But, I can help,” she protested.
“I will keep her safe,” Father Daniels agreed.
“Thanks.” Dianna gave Violet a wink. “Don't worry Vi, we'll be fine, but you go upstairs.”
The front doors to the church blew open violently and Alvera walked in surrounded by several chattering minions. “Shut up and find her,” she yelled at them.
“You have to really look far don't you?” Dianna shoved a knee into Quinn's back, holding her still. Dianna gave Alvera a feral grin, looking up at the group as they entered the church. “How nice to see you again, Alvera.”
“Oh Dianna, I heard you were in town, but really, to do all this for a fuck. It seems so out of character.”
“I've been doing a lot of things out of character.” A glance at the stairs showed that Violet and Father Daniels had gone. “Seems to be going around.”
“I see that. Give me my property there and perhaps I'll let you live. You and everyone in a five mile radius.”
“Why should I? You can't hurt me, remember the deal?” Dianna laughed. “Besides, I think I rather like what I have right now.” Dianna jerked on the chains around Quinn.
Alvera made a face. “I'm not going to ask how you know about the deal. But fine I'll leave you alone.” Alvera focused on Quinn who began to writhe and jerk in agony. Blood started to drip down her nose.
“Mistress, please,” Quinn begged as pain racked her.
Dianna kept her pinned to the pew. “You keep that up and you'll kill her before we even get to bargaining,” she called, watching the group of minions that had spread out behind Alvera, and hardening her heart against Quinn's anguish. Now was not the time to feel.
“Perhaps I want to kill her. One so easily distracted by an old fuck, is not someone I need in the position of Reaper, don't you think? So, in death I merely add to my collection of souls to torment.”
Yet the pain eased in Quinn, and her muscles relaxed as she gasped for air.
“You said something about a bargain?” Alvera asked curiously.
Demon's and their bargains. It was a universal truth that they all liked to wheel and deal, Dianna thought, careful not to show any sign of amusement. “She's more use to you alive, hasn't she been such a very good Reaper for you? Regardless, I think I'd like to buy her soul from you.”
Alvera snorted “And what could you possibly have that I would want?”
“What does every good Demon want? Souls of course.” Dianna gave her most innocent smile, knowing that Alvera would see right through it. “All those lovelies that I've beguiled and enthralled over the years.”
“You would give them all to me for one mortal.” Alvera's eyes narrowed. “You do realize when she gets her soul back she will not forgive you for this action. In fact she'll hate you. She sacrificed herself for all of you. You'll throw that back in her face.” But it was so very tempting, all those souls, there had to be a lot, Dianna was very good at seduction.
“Lovely isn't it?” Dianna ground her heart to dust; emotions would get them all killed here. “Think of the irony. It would be deliciously amusing to see and feel all that suffering don't you think? I'd be giving up all of them for someone who would hate me for it.”
Yes, it would be delicious, Alvera conceded. “A tempting offer.” Alvera knew there had to be a catch something that would be giving Dianna the upper hand. “How many souls are we talking about?” She wasn't going to agree to this only to have Dianna reveal she had no souls to offer.
The blob entered the room going up to his mistress. “Alvera.”
“Not now Thomas, the adults are talking.”
The creature leveled a glare with its black hole eye sockets at Dianna.
“Easy there fido, your mistress just tugged on your leash.” Dianna snapped, a vague memory of him coming back. The last time she'd seen him she'd been sitting in a tub of water at the Asylum while Alvera tortured her.
”How many souls is another soul worth you mean?” Dianna turned her attention back to Alvera. “Two? Five? Ten?”
“Considering the amount of grief the Quinn clan has caused me over the years it's not going to be a one for one exchange.” Alvera studied Dianna. “Do you have five souls? Five for one, five for Quinn's eternal hatred of you.”
“Mistress. Let me deal with Dianna, don't fall for another of her schemes,” the blob whispered out.
“I know you hate her, Thomas. I know you don't want me to give up Maggie, but your wants and desires matter very little to me,” Alvera said with a sneer.
The exchange put an almost normal smile on Dianna's face as she watched Alvera set her limits.
“Five souls for Quinn's? Seems a bit steep to me, you'd become quite a bit more powerful with that many more souls.” Dianna pressed down Quinn, keeping her still as she struggled again.
Alvera glowered at Dianna, “Do you know the trouble the Quinn family has given me? Five is a low number in comparison to that. For me to give up a Quinn requires a hefty fee. Or are you playing me Dianna? Your father tried to play me and now he's firmly leashed to my will.”
Dianna's mouth went dry and she studied Alevra carefully, hunting for any hint of a lie, but she couldn't see any. “He would never agree to become your servant,” she said finally, worry coloring her words.
“Dianna, that is so naive of you. Of course he'd never agree but he gambled against me and lost, and now I have spies everywhere addicted to your father's drug of sex.” She watched Dianna with a smirk. “So you bargain with me to save Quinn when we could bargain for your interesting little friend, the one with the unfortunate ability to turn into a demon. The Pentagon is fascinated with her.”
“You don't know where Lauren is.” Dianna's eyes narrowed. She could believe her father would be stupid enough to gamble with Alvera, but not that. “If you knew, you'd be using her right now, or you'd have killed her and used her death some other way.” Like completely destroying whatever shard of a soul Quinn still had.
“No, we deal for Quinn. Five souls from the people who are enthralled with me.” Dianna wondered, as she said it, if this was as close as she could get to selling her own soul to the devil.
Alvera laughed. “You're in love with Maggie. Ah, love, such an interesting wicked emotion that humans feel. So violent and explosive, it easily can become dark and poisoned. You see, Thomas loved Maggie too, loved her so much he'd do anything to keep her. Made it easy to finally cash in on the promise that Maggie's father had given me. Thomas was afraid he'd lost his wife to some attractive half-demon. Seems that Maggie was always calling on this demon to work on demon related cases, this made Thomas angry and frustrated. What Thomas failed to comprehend was that Maggie hadn't strayed, in fact she'd honored their wedding vows, something he had failed to do. All of this because Thomas' love became dark and dangerous. Love is a deadly double-edged sword. See Thomas, that is what the other side of love is, sacrificing your happiness for the one you love. Maggie will hate Dianna forever for this bargain and Maggie hates you, Thomas, for giving your son to me.”
Alvera licked her lips, the pain and suffering this was causing was beautiful.
Part of that pain was in Dianna's chest, and it was wrenching. Dianna gave a little cry of hurt as she realized the truth of what it was that Alvera had done. The blob man, what was left of him, had been Quinn's husband. Quinn might be beyond feeling in that moment, but the sliver of a soul that Dianna had taken felt like it was shattering in her chest.
It hurt worse than anything Dianna had ever experience before and she grabbed at her chest, her grip on Quinn slipping as she experienced true emotional agony for the first time. “What is this?” Dianna barely realized she'd spoken the words out loud.
Alvera watched Dianna curiously. “I don't know Dianna, you half-breeds are a strange lot. Why your father choose to have children I don't get . ? Yes, demons fuck humans, it's fun to torture them, and it helps us get what we want at times. But to create life with them, that I don't get. Perhaps it's your own stunted soul realizing what you have and what you are losing by being in love? Perhaps it's heartburn? You're kind really is a mystery.”
“Mistress,” Thomas broke in as the sound of a helicopter could be heard. “We should take Quinn and be gone. Let me kill her. You do not even have to command me so you will not break your bargain with Maggie.”
Alvera considered that but the promise of five souls was so tempting.
“Seven souls.” Dianna straightened, painfully, wiping at her face. It was wet for some reason and she couldn't figure out why. The wetness kept coming though and she suddenly realized what they were.
Tears. She who had never cried before in her life was weeping. “Eight!” she yelled, seeing the tempted look on Alvera's face. Why couldn't she stop crying?
“Sorry Thomas we won't be keeping Maggie.” Eight souls, that was a powerful windfall.
The blob seemed to undulate agitated. Then it shot forward straight at Dianna. “You took Maggie from my marriage you won't take her from me now!”
Alvera couldn't move stunned that Thomas would disobey her.
“You spineless bastard, she wasn't cheating on you, you idiot!” Dianna yelled. Letting go of Quinn she launched herself at the blob that had been Thomas. They met halfway, both of them crashing through pews, wood splintering and shattering under the impact.
Quinn staggered to her feet, blood had run down her face from her nose and covered her shirt. She stood blinking looking at everything around her.
Alvera stared at Quinn a long time then said. “Come here Maggie.”
Quinn started her way over to her, the loose end of the chain dragging on the floor behind her.
Alvera reached out a hand just as a loud crack echoed through the church.
Quinn's eyes widened as a large bloody hole appeared in Alvera's chest. Alvera screamed and frantically dug curved nails dug into the bleeding hole in her chest trying to get the steaming bullet out.
“Stay away from my daughter. She's a good soul, too good for either of us,” Father Quinn's voice rang out. He stood on the stairs a gun in one hand.
“Connor you always were so contradictory. It's a little late to start caring,” Alvera hissed out as she pulled the bullet out and dropped it to the floor.
“Its never too late to try,” Father Quinn replied hoarsely. “Now give my daughter back her soul.”
“Why? You offering a trade?” Father Quinn's hands shook and then he fired again and again. The first bullet went wide but the second hit the demon in the leg.
“We can do this all day. Your bullets hurt but they cannot kill me.” Alvera had just about had enough and as another bullet hit her she turned on Quinn. “You are more trouble than you're worth,” she howled, backhanding her.
Quinn's feet left the ground as she was knocked backward several feet, crashing into a pew. At the same moment the front doors burst open and DA agents streamed into the church.
Eyes flashing red, Alvera rounded on them, gesturing at the servants she'd brought with her. “Kill the humans! Kill all of them!” Dianna might be safe because of the bargain, but these were hers to do with as she liked. They would remember why they feared demons and she would teach them.
The first DA agent to reach her was torn in half by her claws and she laughed, the dark sound shattering the church's stained glass windows. “Come and die humans!”
Near where Quinn had landed, Dianna clawed at the oozing mass that was trying to envelope her head. “You drove her to me, you idiot,” she gasped, fingers digging into the oozing flesh and pulling, trying to tear Thomas apart. “She never would have slept with me if you hadn't given your son's soul to a demon, you fucking moron!”
Lauren entered the church last, because Agent Green was an idiot. As she could see from the dead she knew she had been correct to argue she should have gone in first. She had taken the serum with the Stone Golem blood, too scared of the unknown to use the other vial. Lauren hesitated seeing those who had once been her friends, but of whom now she wasn't certain. She was upset that they had forgotten her while she was trapped in a personal hell.
But Lauren let those thoughts go and charged the demon.
A DA agent exploded in a mess of gore as he had the misfortune of getting in front of Alvera. The demon Alvera laughed again in pleasure, glowing red eyes watching as Lauren charged toward her. Just as Lauren neared, Alvera sprang, leaping up and over Lauren to land a dozen feet behind her.
Casually Alvera wrenched the head off the nearest DA agent, throwing it at Lauren's back.
“How nice of you to join the party. I was wondering how long I was going to have to wait. I'd dearly love to know how you came back from the dead, human. Thomas was quite upset when it turned out you weren't as dead as he thought you were.”
Dark nails glittered with blood as Alvera gestured to the roiling mass that was currently engulfing Dianna.
Lauren had side-stepped the thrown head, which sailed right past her. Her gaze flickered to Dianna and the blob-like creature before going back to Alvera. She said nothing, Blue had brought her back and the cost had been painfully high. Blue no longer knew who she was. “You need to die or go back to hell. Those are your options.” Lauren didn't even know if it was possible for her to stop such a powerful demon.
“Now why would I want to do that?” Alvera gestured to the room. “Look around you, you're friends are fleeing for their lives. I own Quinn, and you're dear mentor is about to have her life crushed out of her.”
Alevra's eyes flicked to the stairs, amused to see Father Quinn trying to reload his gun. The thing was little more than an annoyance.
Lauren knew she shouldn't talk to the demon, because it would just warp an already bad situation. She shrugged and tensed to charge again.
“Why do you try to save those who have abandoned you?” Alvera laughed again, enjoying the moment. “Why save those who don't care about you?”
“I'm not saving them. I'm stopping you.” Lauren said suddenly charging. She swung a fist at Alvera.
Quinn now staggered to her feet, a gash in her head bleeding badly. She moved to her father and took the gun out of his hand. “Give me that. Do you have a flask on you?”
“Maggie that's a completely inappropriate thing to ask.”
Quinn just forcefully turned her father around and grabbed the flask out of his back pocket. Then she ran down the stairs snagging a lit candle. Quinn unscrewed the cap and dumped it on the blob that was suffocating Dianna, and then promptly touched the candle to it.
There was an unholy scream that seared through her brain and brought Quinn to her knees, hands clasped over her ears to try and protect herself.
Gasping for breath, Dianna shoved the thrashing blob off her, watching as he rolled himself away on flames. “Thanks.” she croaked, staggering to her feet after him. The flaming blob plunged himself into the ceremonial baptismal pool, quenching the flames. With a thoroughly evil smile, Dianna followed, ripping one of the spotlights down off the wall as she went.
“You think that's going to stop me?” Thomas the blob demanded, the words soft around the edges as he stood up in the water.
“Nope.” Dianna ripped the wires out of the base. “But this will.” She tossed the sparking wires into the water.
Quinn watched and tried to remember anything about being married, nothing came to her. She sat down holding a hand to her bleeding forehead.
Thomas's screams died down quickly enough, although the blob like form he had inhabited kept shifting through different shapes for minutes after. “Come on you.” Dianna limped back to Quinn, slinging an arm over her shoulder and helping her up.
“And where are we going to go?” Quinn asked but didn't resist.
“Out of here before those two bring the entire place down on our heads.”
Alvera and Lauren were throwing wooden pews and stone fountains at one another. It was rapidly deteriorating into a slugging match that Dianna didn't think they should be near.
“Father Quinn, get out of here!” Dianna yelled. He was still standing on the stairs, staring at Alvera.
“You can't be leaving. My daughter doesn't have her soul back,” he shouted coming down the steps. “I thought you had some plan to get it back.”
“Goddamnit!” Dianna yelled, why did everything have to be so fucking hard? “Keep her safe.” she pushed Quinn towards him, grimacing as she did something she knew was stupid; She went to try and help Lauren.
Quinn stared at her father then at Dianna's back. “ You should be getting my soul back!” she shouted at her father. “You should be wading into danger, but yet again someone else is trying to clean up your mess.”
Father Quinn looked ashamed for a moment. Quinn wavered her knees feeling weak.
“Sit,” Father Quinn said, before rummaging around for something to put on the wound. He turned around only to come face to face with Agent Green's gun. “No need for that Father. I'll be taking care of Ms. Quinn.”
Alvera swung the pew like a baseball bat, catching Lauren in the side and driving her against a stone wall. “You can't beat me you know.” Alevra swung again, wood breaking as she slammed Lauren against stone again and again. “You can't kill me.”
Lauren's stone skin took the brunt of the damage. She tried to get up. Finally she kicked back her foot catching Alvera's knee. Black blood oozed out of various cuts and wounds, which was scary, Lauren had never been hurt before while in demon form.
“ Your You're pathetic.” Alvera snarled, getting back up to her feet. “Fighting because you don't know what else to do. You could be so much more than this, but no, you serve humans.”
Lauren still tried to get up to her feet. “I am human,” she shouted back. “All this is your fault. You murdered my family. You started all this.”
“No. You're sister started all this, I couldn't allow her to finish it.” Alvera grabbed Lauren by the shoulder, throwing her backward. A stone pillar shattered from the force of the impact, the entire length of it crashing down to the floor around Lauren.
Lauren groaned, her legs now trapped by rubble. “I'm doing you a favor really.” Alvera picked up a stone water basin that probably weighed half a ton. “I'm going to send you back to your family, isn't that nice of me?” Alvera grunted, hefting the basin above her head, ready to bash Lauren into the ground with it.
Alvera was going to win, Lauren was sure, she just wasn't strong enough. Lauren frantically dug into her pocket for the other vial the final product of her sister's work.
With a wordless scream Dianna slammed into her from the side, sending both herself, Alvera and the basin tumbling sideways.
Alevra quickly got to her feet and hauled Dianna up, a hand around her throat. “Dianna you should have just stayed out of this.”
Feet kicking in the air, Dianna tried spitting at Alvera's face, but missed.
There was the loud crack of a gun being fired. Alvera's head whip lashed to the side and a hole appeared in her head. The demon's eyes went cloudy and her nerveless fingers dropped Dianna.
Quinn stood, one arm around Agent Green's throat while the other hand pressed his finger to the trigger of the gun he was holding.
Slowly Alvera's wound healed and she shook herself. “You seem to be under the impression I am your average lowlife demon that spills out into this world,” Alvera hissed as flames erupted over her and her body began to change.
“Great.” Dianna gasped, standing up slowly as she stared at the thing that Alvera was changing into. “You're a Demon Lord.” Dianna had never really met one before, hadn't even known there were any on Earth.
“Very astute Dianna.” Alvera hissed. With a gesture Quinn's eyes rolled up into her head and she passed out.
“Two down and that just leaves you,” she said to Dianna.
“I don't suppose I can say sorry now can I?” Dianna smiled hopefully, taking one slow step after another backward. “Maybe bribe you with even more souls?”
“No, I think we are past that,” Alvera said with a grin.
“I have a nice bar you could have.” Dianna edged a bit further away thinking that maybe she could make the stairs if she ran fast enough.
There was a blur behind Alvera and then a pew came smashing down on the demon's back. Lauren then dropped the broken piece of wood and leaned over, grabbing Alevra and picking her up.
Alvera could tell something had changed in Lauren. Her eyes were solid black and her tan skin now had a golden glow, she seemed more powerful, an aura around her that hurt Alvera. Then Alvera was flying through the air as though she had been casually tossed. She slammed into the wall denting it, cracks spider-webbed around her.
Lauren was there in a blur of movement hand at Alvera's throat.
“Impossible,” Alvera croaked.
“I gave you options, now you die.” Lauren said without emotion as her fingers tightened.
“You can kill me but your friend will die shortly after, I still have her soul.”
Lauren hesitated, unsure if it was a trick.
“She's right,” Dianna yelled, hobbling towards the two of them, shielding her eyes from the fires. Everything that Alvera touched was burning with hellfire, everything but Lauren that was. Lauren glowed with her own light and any flames that touched her went out without a fuss. “I was trying to save Quinn's soul.” Dianna hadn't really succeeded either.
“Give the soul back, and I'll spare your life.” Lauren said without hesitation.
“Ms. Espinoza I am ordering you to kill that demon,” Green shouted from the stairs where he had cuffed Quinn. He gestured for two of his men to haul her away.
Lauren looked at him. “Our job is to help humans. Ms. Quinn needs our help.”
Green gave her a nasty look. “Ms. Quinn is a traitor, I was working with her husband to root out the corruption in her police department, and he was my mole inside. As a desk jockey no one really paid him much attention but he observed a lot. He felt his wife had been corrupted do to all the work she did with half-demons, and now you can tell that he was right. He was a good man that had been greatly maligned.”
Lauren blinked at him and then looked over to where a pile of ooze floated on the holy water. “Were you not paying attention? He did all this. He was crooked and sold his soul as well as his families.”
Green's face turned red. “I gave you an order.”
Alvera didn't want to die and she didn't want to go back to hell , it would be a huge loss to her plans, but a small defeat here would be easy to bounce back from. “I'll give her soul back.” Alvera's eyes flickered to Dianna. “All of her soul back ,if you just let me live.”
Dianna opened her mouth, and then slowly closed it. Maybe that would stop the ache in her chest and these changes that she didn't understand. Would she go back to how she used to be? It would free Quinn from her, and Quinn deserved more than Dianna could give her.
“Quinn will die without her soul, Violet said as much earlier.” Dianna really hoped Violet was hiding upstairs, safe from all of this.
She also hoped the church wasn't going to burn down around them while they kept talking about it.
“Do it. Give her soul back,” Lauren said.
“You promise not to kill me.”
“You're disobeying a direct command!” Green screamed, raising his gun at Lauren. “Kill her now or I'll put you down for being a traitor!”
Creeping down the stairs, Violet moved carefully, bare feet probing each step before she moved in case the wood creaked under her weight. She'd been hiding upstairs just like
Dianna had wanted her to, until she'd felt people dying. She couldn't explain to Father Daniels how she'd known that, but she had and she couldn't stay away from people in need of healing.
Violet couldn't live with herself if someone she thought of as a friend died because she didn't do anything.
So instead she had bolted out of the door the second Father Daniels had turned his back, and now crept down into the chaos, Violet frroze for a second when she spotted Alvera being held by someone she thought she should know. Dianna was near them both and she was happy to see her alive.
The crazy man at the base of the stairs with the gun was a problem though. He was aiming it at Dianna and the other woman, at least she thought it was a woman. Father
Quinn wasn't far away either and they both looked at each other with complete understanding, as they both began moving towards the screaming Agent Green.
Lauren was unconcerned by the gun, he could try to shoot her, but he would fail. She was so much faster now, so much more than she thought possible. It was slightly overwhelming.
“Do it. Return her soul.” Lauren relaxed her grip on Alvera, but didn't let go.
“Dianna needs to come closer,” Alvera said smugly.
The gun might not hurt Lauren, but Dianna was sure as hell aware of agent Green aiming it at them. Gingerly she moved closer to Alvera, suddenly doubting if she wanted to do this. There was a small part of her that was screaming at her to run away but she'd made her choice, and Quinn needed this.
“You're a traitor, Espinoza!” Green yelled, finger tightening on the trigger.
From her spot on the landing of the stairs, Violet tensed and then jumped over the wooden railing, just as Father Quinn rushed Green from behind. The three of them crashed to the ground, the gun firing with muffled bang.
Lauren turned at the sound but the moment her focus wavered Alvera tried to get loose.
She quickly returned her attention to Alvera, slamming her back into the wall.
“Do it or I will unbind your molecules and you'll cease to exist,” Lauren snarled.
Alvera nodded and then reached out and seemed to pluck something off of Dianna and then herself. For a second Alvera held a glowing spark and then it was gone. “There
Maggie Quinn is released from my services now let me go.”
For a brief second there'd been a terrible pain in Dianna's chest, almost as if Alvera had been plucking out her heart. Then it was gone and all pain faded away, leaving behind emptiness. Dianna blinked, confused for a second. Hadn't she just been sad about something?
Lauren looked at Dianna. “Check on Quinn, make sure it worked,” she asked.
Quinn's eyelids flew open and she screamed and thrashed. The men holding her were startled and dropped her. Pain and guilt assaulted Quinn and as she hit the floor all she could do was curl into a ball and sob.
“It worked.” Dianna snorted, seeing the woman collapse. She paused halfway there, suddenly realizing that Violet and Father Quinn still hadn't stood up. Shaking it off, she crouched down next to Quinn, glaring at the two men who'd been trying to take her away.
“Back off,” she snarled, apparently intimidating enough to make the two DA agents take a step away.
Alvera looked at Lauren. “You promised, now let me go.”
“Actually I promised not to kill you.” Some knowledge locked in the stolen DNA that was now her DNA caused Lauren's vocal chords to vibrate. A single pure note emerged.
“No! No!” Alvera thrashed. “You can't.” She howled out and then tried to claw Lauren.
The note was painful to the ears of demons and then it cracked reality, opening a portal back to hell. “I'm sending you home.”
Lauren lifted Alvera up and tossed her into the opening, standing guard until it closed again.
When it closed, Dianna looked up from where she'd just curled up onto the ground, mimicking Quinn's position, eyes leaking blood, and stared at Lauren. “How?” she croaked, body still thrumming from what had just opened so close by.
“What does it matter?” Lauren said, her anger at Dianna leaking out slightly. She made her way to where Agent Green had fallen. She moved Green, he still lived. The older man was dead a bullet hole in his chest. Finally she checked the woman. Lauren's breath caught. “Blue?” She gently moved her checking for a pulse.
Violet's eyes fluttered open and she stared up at Lauren, confused. “I tried to save him…” she whispered, eyes staring past Lauren at something only she could see.
It still hurt Lauren that she wasn't recognized and she had to swallow the bitterness that threatened to close her throat down. “I know. You did everything you could.” She reached out and brushed blond hair out of Violet's blue eyes. “I'm glad you're okay.”
“I…” Violet blinked, focusing slowly on Lauren, still confused. “Do I know you?” She seemed familiar, as if they'd met in a dream.
Lauren opened her mouth and then shut it not sure what to say. “No, you don't know me. But I knew you once upon a time by the name Blue.”
Behind them Agent Green groaned and moved, and Lauren knew that she needed to get him out of here before the situation got out of control again.
“I'm sorry I need to go.” Lauren said, standing.
“Wait!” Violet tried to get up and the room spun alarmingly. She'd tried to heal Father Quinn and it hadn't worked well at all. She thought she'd almost been able to bring his spirit back but she wasn't sure. “Will I see you again?”
Worried, Lauren moved and steadied Lauren. “Careful.” She helped her sit again. “It's possible, but I don't know. The Pentagon kind of owns me now.” She leaned forward, knowing she shouldn't, and kissed Violet's temple. “Take care.” She got up and picked up Agent Green by his belt loop and dragged him out of the Church.
Dianna glanced up from where she was crouched next to Quinn as Lauren passed,. “Stay safe,” she called after her, frowning just a bit before she looked back at Quinn. “Quinn, we have to go.”
Quinn blinked and wiped her eyes. She nodded. “Can you remove the chain now?” she asked in a subdued voice.
“Good to see those blue eyes again.” Dianna undid the chains, tossing them aside, hating the feel of them. “Violet, we have to get out of here before this place burns down.”
Father Daniels was suddenly there lifting Father Quinn's dead body. “I'm sorry I tried to keep her up there with me. She can be fast when she wants to be.”
They moved out of the church, the sound of fire engines clanging through the air.
Inside the building, in the middle of the rubble and hellfire, a small vial twisted and melted in the heat until nothing remained.
End Part 2