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Ivy's Song

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“Here’s fine, Glenn”, I said to the FIB agent sitting beside me in the car.

“Are you sure, Rachel? It’s just a few blocks more to the church.”

Matthew Glenn was a detective with the Federal Inderland Bureau, whom I occasionally worked for. Glenn was a good guy, and had made a lot of strides to becoming more familiar with, and accepting of, Inderlanders and their culture. Ivy and I had even managed to show him the joys of the tomato, which all humans were afraid of, ever since a genetically modified tomato had killed off a lot of people during the Turn. We frequently bribed Glenn with ketchup, salsa, and the like whenever we needed information or favors.

I smiled at him. “It’s a beautiful day for walking. I just want to enjoy the sun for a little bit before being trapped in the kitchen, cooking up spells.”

Glenn returned my smile and pulled over to the curb. “Sorry this afternoon was a bust. Guess our intelligence was bad; those dealers must be holed up elsewhere.”

I shrugged as I exited the car, grabbing my bag in the process. “No worries, Glenn.” Closing the door, I bent down to look through the window. “If you do get any more leads, please call us. Ivy and I both want to put these guys down...”

Glenn nodded, saying, “I’m sure I would never hear the end of it if I didn’t. Say hello to Ivy for me. I’ll call tomorrow if not sooner.”

I hitched my bag further up onto my shoulder as Glenn pulled away from the curb. Waving a quick good bye, I started walking to the church. The late afternoon sunshine felt great on my skin. Summer was soon ending; I needed to get out more to enjoy the sun before fall set in. I wanted to enjoy the warmth while I could, as falls in Cincy could be brisk and winters totally brutal. Maybe I could get out tomorrow and sunbath? The sun was starting to set, so there would be no time tonight.

I saw the church grounds up ahead. Our plot was the entire city block; it was mostly occupied by the graveyard and by the magnificent garden. It was a witch’s dream come true: all the plants I could ever need for spelling. We had had enough rain this summer that the plants were growing well. That is, with some help from great pixies. I really needed to thanks Jenks and his family for all their hard work.

As I was walking up to the door of the church, I heard the piano. Ivy’s playing! I thought in surprise. I paused at the doorway, listening. It was rare thing to hear my roommate playing her baby grand piano. Ivy expressed her emotions in her playing, and as she tries to keep control over her emotions whenever around other people, hearing her play was a seldom occurrence.

Her playing ended, which saddened me as I had only gotten to hear a few seconds of music. As I was about to open the door, it quickly resumed. Ivy started singing, which startled me even more. She has a beautiful voice, and I wished that I could hear it more often. I stood still, listening to the music wafting through the air.

I sense there’s something in the wind

It feels like tragedy’s at hand

And though I’d like to stand by her

Can’t shake this feeling that I have

The worst is just around the bend

I recognized the song. Ivy’s a big fan of The Nightmare before Christmas, and I had recently bought her a CD with various artists singing the songs from the movie. This sounded just like the Amy Lee cover of Sally’s Song.

And does she notice my feelings for her?

And will she see how much she means to me?

I think it’s not to be

What will become of my dear friend?

Where will her actions lead us then?

Although I’d like to join the crowd In their enthusiastic cloud

Try as I may, it doesn’t last

And will we ever end up together?

Oh oh

The bridge came next, with Ivy playing with such fervor and intensity that I was momentarily startled. I felt tears forming in my eyes, listening to her play. I had never heard Ivy playing this passionately. I was frozen to the spot, not wanting to disturb Ivy from this emotional outpouring. Soon, I heard her starting singing again.

And will we ever end up together?

No I think not It’s never to become

For I am not the one

Her playing ended. I waited quietly outside for a few minutes more, making sure that she wouldn’t start playing something else. I really didn’t want to come in and ruin this time for her, knowing that she relished these opportunities to play in solitude. After feeling I had waited long enough, I opened the door and entered the sanctuary, to find Ivy sitting on the couch, reading a book.

“Hi Ivy. How was your run today?”

Ivy looked up at me. “Hello Rachel. It went smoothly. It was only a quick job; I just needed to get a lowlife to make his alimony payments. He was quick to see the error of his ways,” she said, smiling slightly to show her fangs. I shivered a little; seeing Ivy’s fangs always caused a warm feeling in the scar on my neck. We had already settled on not blood sharing, but it always brought back memories of those two times we had.

“My afternoon was shot. FIB intelligence apparently got the wrong warehouse. Glenn said he would call us if he got any new leads,” I grimaced. “I am famished. Want anything for lunch? I think we still have some leftover pasta with that great sauce.”

Ivy shook her head. “I actually already ate. Feel free to have the rest; I am going out for the night.”

“Another run or something fun?” I said with a smile.

“I just need to go out”, she said coolly.

Whenever my roommate started sounding cold and dispassionate, I knew to stop asking questions. She was more than likely going out to slake her thirst. Once again, I felt guilty that I couldn’t make a blood balance work with her. Ivy didn’t want blood without sex, and I just wasn’t wired that way, and I didn’t want to have to hurt her to get her to stop if she ever got out of control. So, she took it upon herself to seek those needs out elsewhere. I knew that it made her uncomfortable to talk about this; she often felt guilty that she had these urges in the first place. I tried not to stir the hornet’s nest as much as possible.

“Why are you staring at me?”

I blushed, not realizing that I had been looking at her the entire time. Not that anyone would blame me; Ivy is drop dead gorgeous. With her creamy skin, black silky hair, and perfectly proportioned body, she could turn any man’s head (and many women’s). She was wearing her traditional leather pants with a form fitting black t-shirt, so I could tell it wasn’t anything formal at Cormel’s.

“Sorry, I was just phased out there; it’s been a long day. I hope you have a good night. I will see you in the morning?” I inquired.

“I should be back in the morning, yes. Any plans for the evening?”

“Not really. I figured that I would just lay low tonight and enjoy some down time. Maybe catch up on some spelling I have been putting off.”

A car horn beeped outside. “That’s my ride. Have a good night, Rachel.”

With that, Ivy quickly found her way out the door. I understood why she needed to go, but it still depressed me that I would have another night alone in the church. Well, alone as I could get, living with a pixie horde. I glanced around the sanctuary, seeing the pool table there. Kisten. I saddened at the thought of him. There was a hole in my life since he had been killed. I’d give anything to see that smirk of his, the twinkle often seen in his eyes; hell, I wished that I could just hear him say something stupid in that fake British accent of his. I missed his presence in my life. I hated being left alone, as inevitably I knew I would start thinking of him. Tears started gathering in my eyes.

“Great”, I sobbed. “Here come the waterworks again.” I wiped my eyes, feeling bad that I didn’t want to cry anymore over Kisten, but at the same time I was tired of crying. Why did it have to hurt so much? I had to know that it was hurting Ivy as well, as they were good friends and once lovers. They had known each other since they were kids. I never saw her crying, though. I had seen her furious over his death; she wanted to punish the one who had killed Kisten. Maybe once that had been resolved, she would have time to grieve. Maybe she was just better at taming her emotions in the meantime…

I thought back to the music I heard earlier. Maybe she just had different ways of expressing her emotions, ones that seemed kind of foreign to me. If I was angry, everyone knew I was angry. I laughed when I found something funny, I cried when I was I sad. Wearing your heart on your sleeve was quite an appropriate saying about me. Ivy was different. She would allow herself to smile occasionally, maybe a mild chuckle. She never seemed that passionate about anything unless…

Well, unless you pushed the wrong buttons. Last year, Ivy gave me a book, Rynn Cormel’s book on how to date vampires. She specifically told me to read it, with the explicit instructions to avoid doing those things. I read the book, which was quite graphic in some areas. I couldn’t imagine Ivy doing some of these acts, but, to be honest, she kept that part of her life separate from me. I wasn’t sure if she was ashamed of those acts or afraid that she would scare me off, but she never talked to me about them. Some of these actions didn’t bother me, but some of them were just a bit on the weird side. I tried my best to not emulate these in my life, but, of course, I would often ignore the lessons and just do what I felt like. Like following Ivy to a different room after she ended a conversation, and feeling my neck in her presence, and letting my emotions get too riled up, and…well, you get the point. This things brought out a different Ivy.

To be honest, I was a little frightened of Ivy, especially when she became, well, aroused. I’m sure that I was mostly at fault for these times, but it was hard coping with a powerful vampire who suddenly wanted to drink your blood. I never knew if she would stop before I was drained dry, or worse, binded me to her as a shadow. Death would be bad, but living with my free will subverted really scared me. I had always been successful at keeping Ivy calm or away from me (sometimes with the help of ley line magic), but I was paranoid of the time when nothing could stop her. In some ways, I was glad that she went elsewhere for blood. I just sometimes wished that we could have found that balance.

Realizing I had been standing in the sanctuary the whole time musing, I headed for the kitchen to make my pasta. A night of TV loomed ahead of me, as any desire to being stuck in the kitchen had left me. Sighing, I decided that maybe I would try to make the best of it by inviting Jenks and his family in for movie night. They’d probably want to watch Peter Pan yet again, but, as I really didn’t feel like being alone tonight, I could survive it.

Maybe.

* * *

I couldn’t sleep. Something was nagging at me, and the only thing I could think about was Ivy’s song. It kept going and going through my mind, like it wanted me to notice something. Exasperated, I finally sat up in bed and turned on the light. I grabbed my new iPhone, one that Ivy had insisted on buying for me. I’m sure that she figured that she would be better able to find me in a bind, as it had GPS installed. I relented on it, only after making her promise that I could pay her back for it. Pulling up the Internet, I looked up Sally’s Song to see if listening to it again would help me puzzle this out. I tried paying attention, but I was sleep deprived, so it made it harder. After the third time through, I finally caught something:

And does he notice my feelings for him?

And will he see how much he means to me?

She changed the pronouns in the song.

She was singing this song about someone. Someone female. I knew Ivy had feelings for me, so I assumed she was singing about me. Of course, maybe she had found someone else…

Something else was nagging at me about the song, and it took me several minutes to realize what it was: Ivy had to have heard me walking up to the door. Vampires had superior senses of hearing, and there’s no way she wouldn’t have heard me approaching the front door. She would often tell me when someone was about to ring the doorbell before they actually did, which unnerved me. I’m sure she knew that I was standing at the door then. She went ahead and played the song anyway; she wanted me to hear it.

Gah!

Here I was trying to pretend I didn’t hear her playing, so as to not embarrass her. Sometimes I had to walk on eggshells around Ivy; despite the bad ass exterior she gave off, she could be quite vulnerable as well. So, I come in and don’t say a thing about the music, no compliments, nothing. She was probably thinking that I was an ass, as I said nothing. She was opening herself up, and I ignored it, and she just assumed that I was ignoring her, like her feelings didn’t matter. Stupid, stupid witch!

Wait, why did Ivy want me to hear her play? And why that song? She had a large repertoire of music that she knew by heart, so, if she knew I was standing there, she obviously picked that particular song to play then. I quickly looked up the lyrics to the song on my phone, seeing if I could figure out if there was a subtle (or not-so-subtle) meaning.

I sense there’s something in the wind

It feels like tragedy’s at hand

And though I’d like to stand by her

Can’t shake this feeling that I have

The worst is just around the bend

Well, this pretty much describes our relationship. Ivy has always been there for me, despite the fact that I always seem to bring trouble home. The worst is just around the bend? That seems like a weekly occurrence here. It did bother me a little about liking to stand by her; I didn’t want to imagine a life without Ivy by my side.

And does she notice my feelings for her?

And will she see how much she means to me? 

I think it’s not to be

Ivy’s feelings for me often make me feel uncomfortable. I knew that Ivy loved me, and I loved her, but not in the way she wanted. I did notice those feelings, but did I really know how much I meant to her? I’ve been in relationships that were more one sided emotionally, so I could see why she empathized with this song. I recognized that she has stronger feelings for me than I do for her.

What will become of my dear friend?

Where will her actions lead us then?

Although I’d like to join the crowd

In their enthusiastic cloud

Try as I may, it doesn’t last

And will we ever end up together?

Oh oh

Ivy was waiting on me. My actions were to determine how our relationship evolved. We had already had this discussion; she gave me the all-or-nothing ultimatum recently. Joining the crowd? I could see that she wants to be a part of something bigger than herself. She has tried many times to bring our relationship to a new level. Had her hopes for a relationship risen and be dashed? She questions whether there will ever be a relationship…

And will we ever end up together?

No I think not

It’s never to become

For I am not the one

Ivy feels alone, that she will always be alone. She has stood by while I have dated several men, thinking that she would never be in that position. She always supported me, even when she disliked the man I was dating. She kept hoping that I would see her for what she is, someone who loves me deeply.

Ivy was truly, deeply in love with me. I let that settle for a moment. We had often used the word love between us, but it never seemed this deep, this real. It had always seemed like she was hunting me, for blood or for sex (or both). I had always felt that she was just being possessive, like I belonged to her. This possessiveness made itself apparent when I dated Nick, and sometimes when I was with Kisten. It never occurred to me that she might be jealous of what they had: an actual relationship with me. She would never be able to go on dates with me, snuggle together on the couch, or feel the glances of love between us. She settled in to be a best friend, despite being in love with me. I realized her love for me kept showing in her words and actions all this time.

Was I worthy of such a love? My brow creased as I thought of all the many things that I had done that unintentionally hurt her. Yet she still loved me. But does she still? Do I want her to?

I contemplated the last verse of the song again. If she truly believed that she was not the one, was she readying herself to move on? Was she leaving? Had I driven her out? I felt tears streaking down my face at the thought of losing Ivy. I didn’t want to lose her, but was I willing to take the steps to ensure that? Did I love Ivy? My heart was racing as I thought this over.

Ivy was home to me, a shelter from the storms that raged in our lives. I still remembered, when travelling the lines, the church wasn’t home for me; it was Ivy. I didn’t want to imagine a future where she wasn’t in my life. I would never leave her. I always wanted to be with her. I always wanted to be with her.

Warmth flooded through my system when I realized the significance of those feelings. Ivy was mine, and I was hers. Had I been in denial the entire time? I knew that I found Ivy attractive, but I would always think to myself, not in that way. Yet I couldn’t deny that my gaze would sometimes linger on her face, with those beautiful eyes and luscious lips, her creamy skin, her long legs. I always felt an amazing tingly sensation whenever we touched, rare as those times had been. I missed her when she wasn’t here. Whenever she would go out to Rynn’s, or one of her blood sharing sessions, I would feel a pang of jealousy. I’d always assumed that it was my desire to have a blood balance, a desire to have Ivy come to me with her needs. Why couldn’t I accept that Ivy should come to me with all her needs?

Because, I had to admit, I felt inadequate next to her. I nowhere near as pretty as her, I often got myself into trouble more than not, which Ivy frequently had to bail me out of, I drove her crazy with my inability to plan or organize anything, and I was way more insensitive to her feelings than I should be. I could flaunt my boyfriends in her face, yet feel jealous when she went out for herself. I couldn’t understand why she was in love with me. I certainly didn’t deserve her love, after the many ways I had wronged her. She certainly deserved better than me.

I did love Ivy. She had said that I did, had told me that I was denying to myself how I felt, but I had refused that thought. It seemed wrong somehow, like it didn’t fit into my plan. The plan where I went to college, opened up a charm store, and had 3 kids. The plan which didn’t exist anymore, thanks to my being part demon. Any kids I might have would have demon targets written on them. If news got out that I was a demon, I would quickly become a pariah in the witch community. I realized that even that news didn’t faze Ivy in terms of how she treated me.

Now it seemed like I might have missed that chance. She had decided that I had already made known that I didn’t want to be with her. I’m sure that my constant protests that I was straight didn’t help matters. I didn’t know how to even try to unravel this. It felt like I was being torn in two. I guess I knew now how Ivy had felt the entire time.

Uncertain of how to deal with this situation, I headed out to the living room. Sleep had fled from me, so I figured that I could do some reading. Maybe I could figure out how to best approach Ivy about this. I didn’t want to drive her away, but I didn’t want to deny my feelings anymore. I wasn’t sure how Ivy would react. Would it be better to just go on like normal? Should I take the chance?

I was afraid that she would dismiss it, thinking that I was once again teasing her. Every time I tried to get closer, I would inevitably put up a wall between us. I saw the hurt in her eyes when I did, but I always thought it would be best to keep a strict boundary there. I never once thought that I might be driving her away.

Snuggling down into Ivy’s chair with a blanket, I picked up the latest copy of Witch Weekly. I wanted to smell Ivy’s scent in the chair; it often brought comfort to me when I did. With a heavy sigh, I tried to interest myself in some of the articles. Soon I felt myself yawning. Putting the magazine down, I leaned my head against the arm rest and closed my eyes.

* * *

“Rachel?”

“Mmmm, 5 more minutes…”

“Rachel, did you stay out here the entire night?”

Cracking my eyes open, I noticed Ivy’s face looming over me. A look of concern was etched there, her eyebrows scrunched together in such an adorable way. I loved some of my Ivy’s expressions. My Ivy. I let that thought linger for a moment.

“Rachel?” she repeated softly.

“’Mfine, Ivy”, trying to rouse myself up to a sitting position. My body started protesting at being in an uncomfortable position for too long. I stretched to try to work the kinks out, noticing Ivy watch me. Her pupils dilating, she quickly stood up and backed away from me.

“Why don’t you go to bed, dear heart? It’s still early.”

I smiled at the endearment. “What time is it?” I asked as I rose from the chair. My legs didn’t seem to want to co-operate, so I stumbled a bit before I found my footing. That’s right, Rachel, make yourself look like a complete klutz!

Ivy smiled, amusedly. “It’s seven. I’m grabbing some orange juice before heading to bed myself.”

I saw Ivy turned towards the kitchen and start walking (well, sashaying more likely) that way. A voice rose unbidden from within me: Say something!

“Ivy, wait.”

She paused. She inhaled briefly, before turning back to me. I could tell she was smelling my emotional state, to see why I wanted her to stop. You don’t usually ask people to wait to compliment them on their color choices in their outfit, or to tell them that you passed the cutest house while you were out today. No, the old please-wait was always followed by I-need-to-talk. I’m sure she could taste the fear, confusion, and, yes, desire I was radiating. She turned, with a resigned look on her face.

“Ivy, I…” I paused, unsure of what to say. Time seemed to have frozen, as I struggled for the right words to say. Damn it to the Turn, tell her how you feel!

“Yes, Rachel?” She sounded more annoyed than anything. I didn’t really blame her; she probably felt that this conversation had already taken place many times, with her coming out on the bad end of it.

All of a sudden, I was at a loss for words. I wanted to blurt out, Yes, I love you too, now let’s make with the kissing, and Goddess do you smell good, and I love how those leather pants make your butt look so squeezable, and…well, I guess all that made me too embarrassed to actually start saying anything. It felt worse than being called on in school, everyone looking at you, only to realize you just woke up and there is drool hanging from your chin. Unfortunately, Ivy was not looking very amused.

“Rachel, I can’t keep doing this. You run hot one minute then cold the next. It hurts me whenever you try to start this conversation yet again, only to back off at the last moment. I don’t want a balance with you anymore; you made your feelings clear the last time. I can meet my needs elsewhere.”

Ivy turned her back on me, headed to the kitchen. I could feel the pheromones in the air; she was royally pissed off. Why couldn’t I articulate my feelings for you? I struggled against the fear that I felt, finally realizing that if I didn’t say anything I would never do so.

“Ivy, it’s not about the blood.” I whispered.

She froze at my words. “Then what is it about?” I could hear in her voice the weariness, the pain.

“I think I may have feelings for you”, I said tentatively. I was too scared to say love; too scared that she had already moved on without me. Too scared about what that implied for me and her.

I saw a brief flicker of emotion on her face before the wall went up again. Was it hope? It was hard to say; Ivy guarded her emotions vigorously around me, so it was sometimes hard to read her. However, when she turned back to me, I could only see confusion in her eyes.

“Rachel, why are you saying this? I can feel your fear. You don’t want me to take your blood, so I won’t. You don’t need to say these lies to me, to try and convince me that it’s okay to drink from you.” A stone wall would be more giving than Ivy’s expressions right now. In a way, I could feel her fear as well; she wanted me to be telling her the truth, but was too afraid to say it. After all I had put her through, I’m sure that her hope seemed like a very faint thing.

Unfortunately, I became a little exasperated at Ivy with her words. “I’m not lying, Ivy.” I said brusquely. “Why do you always assume the worst when I try to talk to you? Whenever I start talking, you shut down; it’s like you don’t want to listen to me at all. You’re so damn stubborn, I don’t know why I bother trying to talk to you at all!”

I regretted the words immediately when I saw the tone shift in her face. My words hurt her deeply. She muttered a “good night Rachel”, walked swiftly into her room, and slammed the door. Great. Here I was, trying to express my emotions to her and apologize for all the many times I had treated her poorly, when I go and do it again.

What do I do now? Apologizing seemed like the norm for me, which I’m sure she was tired of hearing. In truth, it felt that the majority of the time, I was saying I was sorry for one thing or the other. I had gotten tired of apologizing. The problem with improvising all the time is that you don’t always consider how your actions may affect those around you, and you end up being the ass in the room.

I realized that I needed to do something big to make this up. She needed to feel loved right now, more than anything. She had opened herself up to me by singing, and maybe I could do the same. She knew I hated singing around her; her voice sounded like an angel, while mine sounded more like a cat in heat at night. Still, I remembered the lyrics she had sung to and about me, so I thought about it for a moment before singing out loud:

And does she notice my feelings for her?

And will she see how much she means to me? I

hope our love can be

Silence reigned. After a few moments, I had resigned myself to being too late, that my Ivy had left me. My head hung low, I turned and started back towards my room. I looked up when I heard her bedroom door open softly. Ivy stood quietly, framing the doorway with her presence. I could see tears in her eyes. Goddess, I thought to myself, I’ve hurt her again. I can’t forgive myself for this. Mumbling a quick “I’m sorry”, I resumed my trek to my bedroom, where I could cry in private.

I quickly felt Ivy’s hand on my chin, lifting my head so that I could see her face. She quietly wiped the tears from my face, ones I didn’t even know were there. “Rachel, I need to know something, and I need you to be completely honest with me.”

Too scared to say anything further that might hurt her, I simply nodded my head.

“Do you truly love me?”

I saw the same hope that had briefly been on her face before, now again etched on her face. It was warring with a hesitancy, a fear. I felt my heart break at that, as I knew that I was partly the cause of those feelings. Ivy had already gone through more in her life than most people do in their lifetime; the pains that had been afflicted on her caused her to doubt her self-worth. My previous insensitivities had made it that much worse, and I could see the end result now.

“Yes, Ivy, I do. My head never wanted to listen to what my heart already knew. It took listening to you play yesterday to recognize how much love you had for me. Once I came to terms with that, it became easier to see that I love you back.”

I hoped and feared how she would respond. Had I hurt her too much? I knew the fears I had in my heart were made oh so clear to Ivy, but I couldn’t help myself. The love I wanted was on the line, and I didn’t want to lose it.

“Rachel”, she pleaded, “please don’t let this be a game. I can’t have my emotions pulled apart like this again. I can sense your emotions; you are in turmoil. You obviously don’t really want this. I don’t want to have this conversation yet again, because, every time, I can tell your heart is never in it.”

Ivy moved to leave, and I knew she was putting the wall between us again. I quickly grabbed her arm; she tried to pull away, but I could tell she wasn’t using her full strength. “Rachel, please let me go”, she painfully asked. She hadn’t used vamp speed to get away from me, so I knew that, in some way, she wanted to be stopped.

“I can’t, Ivy. If I don’t say this now, I never will. Yes, I’m scared. I’m anxious, nervous, and excited. I’ve never had the courage to confront these truths in my heart. I don’t want this chance to pass me by; I don’t want it to be too late for us. I want to try having a relationship with you, Ivy. I want you to be a part of my life. You once told me that it was all or nothing, that it was up to me to make the next move.”

Ivy, trembling, looked me in the eye. “And what do you choose?” My heart broke on hearing the longing and hope in her voice. I cried a little, despite myself.

Smiling through the tears, I leaned up on my toes and gently kissed her. I folded her into my arms, whispering, “I want it all.”