DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Twentieth Century Fox, Mutant Enemy, Paramount Studios, Inc and Viacom. The story contents are the creation and property of Djinn and are copyright (c) 2004 by Djinn. This story is Rated R.

Old Debts

Slayer Turned #2


by Djinn




Kirk woke, the sleep falling off him slowly, the same way it had done when he had been human.  He looked over at Chris; she was still sleeping.


Rolling over, he took her in his arms and nuzzled against her neck.  She moaned in her sleep with the low, fierce sound of unchecked hunger.  It had been too long since she'd fed.  She did this--went through periods where she would not hunt--and he had given up trying to entice her.   She did not have to feed as often as he did, and he thought it was her slayer strength influencing the vampire's need.   She did not weaken as he would have if he'd refused to feed.


Although eventually, she would weaken, would become less than she was.  But she had never let it go on that long, had always given in to the hunger. 


He closed his eyes, reaching out with vampire senses that had at first overwhelmed him.  Everything was so clear, so vivid.  Smells were richer, colors brighter, more saturated.  His hearing was off the scale--he imagined he could give Spock a run for his money now.  And not just in hearing.  He'd like to try that Vulcan challenge again, now that he was easily as strong as Spock--and didn't need to breathe.  Except that they'd have to hold the fight at night, or Spock would win by default as Kirk blew away in the wind--gray dust to add to Vulcan's fine red sand.  He wondered if Spock would even come out if he went to Gol and yelled for his old friend--his former friend--to fight him.  


What a fight that would be.  Equals, finally. 


And Chris was even stronger than Kirk was.  It amazed him at times, when he watched her move, watched her hunt.  She was so beautiful.  She was beautiful now too, sleeping next to him.  Looking down at her, he kissed her cheek.


"Mmm."  She burrowed against him, her arms coming around him tightly.  Then she pulled away enough to lift her face to his, her eyes still closed as her lips tilted up into a sweet smile. 


He kissed her, no longer surprised that the tenderness he felt for her had not been superceded by something darker.  He'd thought that being a vampire would change him, would change them both.   And it had in some ways.  Their sex was often violent, and they did hunt and kill people for food, but they still loved each other with an unrelenting passion that was both wild and sweet.  In fact, he was not sure he'd ever loved anyone more than he did her-- evil undead fiend that she was...that they both were.


"I'm hungry," she said softly.


"I imagine you are." 


She smiled, her lips finding his as she pushed him to his back.


"Oh, I'm sorry," he said.  "I thought you meant hungry for food."


Her smile, as she crawled onto him, was terribly wicked.  "That too.  But this first." 


She began to move, and he groaned, losing himself in the feel of her.  He'd wanted her so badly when they'd both been human, had nearly lost her.  Hell, he had lost her.  She'd become something apart, something he could never have understood, could never have.  If she hadn't killed Wharton, if he hadn't been there to watch... 


He didn't like to think about his life if she hadn't turned him.  Facing a future he hated--alone.   Always alone.


Now she was his.  Forever.  Spock couldn't take her from him.  No one could. 


Unless they came armed with a pointy stake.  And he was doing his best to make sure that didn't happen.  So far they'd eluded anyone after them--although they weren't actually sure there was anyone after them.  Chris wondered if Emma believed David had stolen her away, maybe taken both of them.  Emma might be trying to find Wharton, but probably wouldn't think to look for her slayer stalking around town with a full frontal fang-on.


He grinned at that.  A fang-on.


"What are you thinking about?"  Chris laughed as she moved over him, the sound of her amusement throaty and a little vicious.  And so free--he loved how free she was now.




"Death, you mean?"


"Yeah, that.  And you.  Always you."  He pulled her down to him, kissing her fiercely, nipping her lip with his teeth.  He'd transformed, as they often did during sex.  He barely noticed the change anymore--it wasn't something he had to watch for.  Not when he wasn't even trying to blend into his old life.  They'd left Starfleet behind the night she'd made him hers body and soul. 


If he still had a soul? 


They hadn't left San Francisco yet, and he wasn't sure they were going to.  It was one of the hubs of Earth and attracted the lowlifes that seemed to prey on the outskirts of Federation society.  Lowlifes that made excellent takeout.


Gods below, he was hungry.


He tasted her blood where his fangs had cut her, licked her lips to get more of it, sucking slightly.  She hissed, then pulled away from him and bit down savagely on his neck, drinking more than she might have if she hadn't been so ravenous.  He let her, held her as she fed on him, until he began to feel dizzy, then he pulled her hand to him, bit into her wrist and let the blood flow back into him.


She moaned, her body still moving even as she tried to drain him, even as he took the blood from her in equal measure.  They stopped drinking at the same time, she clenching down, he thrusting up over and over as cries of completion filled the basement room they'd commandeered from a Bijorick demon.


She looked dazed, her mouth slightly open, her lips unnaturally red from pleasure and the stain of his blood.  He brushed her hair back and pulled her down to him, licking her lips clean.


"I love you," she whispered.


"And I love you."  He stared at her, felt his face go back to normal, watched as her yellow eyes transformed into the blue ones he knew so well.  "Both ways."


She smiled.  "I need to hunt tonight.  I didn't mean to try to drain you."


"Fortunately, I have an excellent instinct for self-preservation."   He pulled her wrist to his mouth again and kissed the wound he'd made--a wound that was already starting to heal.  The gash she'd torn in his neck would take longer to heal since he didn't have slayer powers reinforcing his vampire abilities.  But it wouldn't take too much longer; he still healed a damn sight faster than he had as a human.  McCoy would be intrigued--if McCoy were actually talking to him.


Kirk wasn't sure how any of his friends would react.  Other than to try to stake him--most of them had been on the Slayer home team, after all.


"Now what are you thinking about?"


He smiled, could feel that it was a sad expression.  "Our friends."


She eased off him, cuddling against him once more.  "Our former friends?"


"Is there no going back?"  He knew it shouldn't bother him.  He was undead.  He'd made the choice to be undead--with her.  That should be enough for him.


It was typical of him to still want it all.  The life of the undead and his buddies welcoming him back to the fold, overlooking how daylight-challenged he was, or that he couldn't come into their quarters without a formal invite.


She sighed.  "I've been wondering that too."


"What would Spike say?"


"Spike would probably stake us."


"Would he?"  He turned so he could see her face.  Would the other vampire really kill her?


"I don't know."  She snuggled in, as if the conversation was making her need closeness even more.  "We don't have souls or chips in our heads.  We kill as we will."


"We don't kill the innocent."  But how long would that be true?  Would they become something truly evil as they grew more accustomed to this life?  Would they stop worrying about selecting the scum of society to make into dinner and just choose the most succulent mortal they could find?


"I know."  Her voice was very small.


He held her, ran his hand down her back and scratched lightly, the way she liked.  She stretched like a cat, her mouth curved into a sexy smile that made him want her all over again.


"How hungry did you say you were?" he asked as he pulled her closer and began to move against her in a way that would have been much more awkward without a vampire's strength and stamina.


"Food can wait," she said, throwing her head back as his fingers began to work in tandem with other parts of his body.




She cried out, her hand tightening on his arm almost as hard as other parts of her were clenching down lower. 


"Chris," he breathed into her hair. 


They lay still for a bit, skin to skin, hands joining as he pulled hers up to kiss--an old-fashioned gesture he knew she liked. 


"I'm starving," she finally said, after many kisses.


"I know."  Pushing her away gently, he followed her out of bed.  They dressed quickly, their clothes dark, nothing that wouldn't blend perfectly into the night.


Their hunt took them to the shady side of town, down the streets he used to walk to get to Weasel's motel. 


"Look," Chris murmured, pointing into an alley.  Two vampires had a man cornered at the fenced end.  


A tall, thin man.  With a crew cut.   


"Weasel," Kirk said as he moved forward.  He wasn't sure if Christine had meant for them to interfere or not.   They'd stopped plenty of lowlifes since being turned, but they'd all been human--the other vampires had seemed to steer clear of them.


He could sense Chris following him, even though she made no noise.  She was letting him lead in this, and he felt his face change in excitement. 


A real fight.  He was in for a real fight.  He couldn't wait.


"Excuse me," he said as they got closer to the other vampires.


One of them looked back.  "Get your own food."


"Yes, well, see.  That's a problem.  This guy's not food; he's my friend."  He grabbed the closest vamp and threw him back into the alley.  


The other vampire started to back away.


Weasel looked up at the voice, frowned heavily.  "Mac?"  At Kirk's nod, he shook his head.  "I'm not loving the new look."  He peered past Kirk.  "You must be the slayer.  Nice to meet you."


"Pleasure," she said, her voice changing slightly as her face transformed.


"Ouch.  You too, huh?"  Weasel leaned back against the fence, but Kirk wasn't sure if he was afraid, or if he was just trying to get out of the way of the fight that was about to happen.


"Why am I helping you?"  Kirk held up a hand when Weasel looked like he was about to launch into a major lecture.  "I'm not talking my motives.  I mean, why aren't you helping yourself?  You're the big magician, try a little fireball, why don't you?"


Chris kicked out at the vampire who was backing away, sending him face first into the fence, then she followed him in and staked him. 


She turned to finish off the other one, and Kirk grabbed her arm.  "Leave him for me?"


She smiled.  "Okay.  But make it fast.  I'm hungry, and I doubt your friend here wants me chowing down on him."


"You've got that right, toots," Weasel said.


She glared at him, but Weasel just laughed.  "I didn't get much of a look at you without the fangs, sweetie?  Bet you clean up real nice."


"You do like to live dangerously."  Kirk said, then turned to the remaining vampire, meeting him as he came in fast.  "And don't think"--he knocked the vampire back into the fence.  "That I haven't noticed"--the vamp launched himself at Kirk, his hands trying to tear into Kirk's neck.  Kirk swatted him away easily.  "That you're not answering me."


"Well, it's like this.  I can only do magic in the motel.  Or very close to it."


Kirk turned to see if he was serious and earned himself a vicious kick to the side of the head.  He went down, dazed a little.  Shaking his head, he held up a hand as Chris started to come in to assist.  "I've got it, dear."  He looked up at Weasel, even as he kept an eye on the other vampire.  "You're not serious?"


"I am.  Never piss off the powers that be."


"Words to live by," Chris said, leaning back against the fence.


The other vampire kicked out in what would have been another crushing blow to the head if Kirk hadn't caught his foot and let the momentum move him into a roll, pulling the vampire off balance as he turned.  He twisted, following the other vampire down, and landing hard on its back.  


"You about done there, Jim?"  Chris moved closer.


"A stake would be nice, sweetheart."  He glared at her.


She laughed and tossed him one.  Catching it lightly, he brought it down into the back of the other vampire in one smooth move.  A second later, he was sitting on dust.


He was about to toss the stake back when she shook her head.  "I've got another.  Keep it."


Shoving it into his back pocket, he got up in one graceful motion.


Weasel eyed him.  "So I'm not dinner?"


"You'd talk through the whole thing.  I hate that."  Kirk turned to Chris.  "Can we walk him home?"


She made a face and rubbed at her stomach.


Ignoring her, he turned to Weasel.  "We'll walk you home."  He let his face transform, saw Weasel seem to relax--not that his teacher had looked particularly nervous around him.  "So what did you do to tick those vampires off?"


Weasel walked with him out of the alley.  "Don't know.  They may have just been hungry."


"I know that feeling," Chris muttered as she walked on Kirk's other side.


"She always this pleasant?"


Kirk just grinned.


"Guess you solved that problem of never being able to be with her?"  Weasel's eyebrow went up almost like Spock's would have.


Kirk realized he didn't feel guilty about Chris anymore.  Shrugging, he laughed.  "I'm evil.  Nobody's going to expect restraint."


"Yeah, you've got a point there."


"You talked to this guy about me?"  Chris looked unaccountably touched.  "That's so sweet."


"Oh, he was gone on you, sister."  He turned back to Kirk.  "So I guess our pre-sunrise lessons are history."


Feeling a bit hurt, Kirk looked down.  "Guess so."


"Well, I probably could rearrange my schedule.  Midnight work better for you?"


Both Kirk and Chris shot him a look.


"What?  You're hunting then?  I can make it later, but you're going to be racing daylight every time we finish.  And you know this kind of work can be draining--you won't be in the mood to race anything much less rosy dawn."


"You can still teach him magic?"  Chris looked at Kirk.  "You can still learn magic."  She grinned at him, a very dangerous grin.  Then she turned back to Weasel.  "Why would you do that?  We're evil."


"You just saved my life.  And you're walking me home.  Color me self centered, but that doesn't make you evil in my book." 


"I can still learn magic."  Kirk rubbed his hands together.


"But not every night," Chris murmured to him, loudly enough that he knew she meant for Weasel to hear too.


"Greedy thing, aren't you?  You'll have him for eternity."


She looked down, and Kirk knew she was thinking about the slayers and stakes and him going up in a big puff of dust.


"Or until someone slays one or both of you.  Sorry, I wasn't thinking."


She waved off his concern, the tough slayer act not fooling Kirk.  He didn't think it fooled Weasel either. 


"It's okay," she said.  "Slayers and death are just facts of vampire life, right?  I know that better than most."  She looked over at Weasel, and Kirk saw something off in her face.  "Do you think I'm weak?"


Weasel's smile was gentle.  "Does it matter what I think?"


She looked down.  "Not to me, no.  But to him.  It'll matter to him."


"Why would he think you're weak?"  Kirk looked from her to Weasel. 


"What did Wharton offer you?  I assume it was Wharton, since according to my very robust grapevine, he seems to have gone missing."


She nodded.


"She was trying to humanize him."  Kirk watched her face as misery seemed to drain it of color even more than normal.  She hadn't been trying to humanize Wharton?


"I think maybe he offered her oblivion, Mac.  You might want to explore that some other time."  Weasel pointed up ahead.  "Well, here we are.  Home, crappy home."  A few steps more and he whispered something in a language Kirk couldn't identify, and a fireball appeared and then just as quickly disappeared.  "See, Mac.  I get close enough to the motel, and it's all good."


Kirk nodded.


Chris moved closer for a second, her body cool against his.  "If you want, you can stay with him.  I can hunt alone."


Kirk felt torn.


"Go with her, Mac.  The watchers are out tonight.  And other things."


Kirk met his eyes, saw concern in them.  Smiling, he nodded.  "I'm glad we were in the neighborhood."


"Yeah me too, Mac."  It was the old Weasel, all annoying bravado.  "Stop by when you're ready for a lesson.  Whenever.  Not like either of us are getting any older." 


"Nope, not like that."  Kirk felt a moment of regret--did his teacher think he was weak?


Weasel put a hand on Kirk's arm.  "Thank you, Jim.  For stepping in when you didn't have to."


"Hey, you're my pain in the ass.  If anyone's going to eat you..."  Kirk grinned, laughing at Weasel's expression.  Then he turned and followed Chris as she disappeared into the shadows.




Christine could tell Jim was behind her.  She almost wished he had stayed with Weasel and let her hunt alone. 


Something was bothering her tonight.  Something that was making every slayer and vampire sense she had stand up and scream.  Loudly.



She turned to him, saw the concern in his eyes.


"What did he mean about oblivion?" Jim asked.


She looked down.  Maybe this was all she felt coming?  This truth that she hadn't wanted Jim to know.  "I let David turn me because I was tired of living."


There was no sound.  She didn't want to look up, finally had to. 


Jim was staring at her, nothing but enormous sadness in his eyes.  "Spock's letter.  My behavior at your graduation."


"And you didn't want me."


"I did want you."


"Well, you wouldn't let me in.  How's that?"  She looked down.


He moved closer, nuzzled against her hair, his hand running down her back, down low to the place she loved him to touch.  So possessive, so warm.  She was his; every time he touched her there, he reminded her of that fact.


"I'm sorry," he said. 


She kissed him.  "I know you are.  Now that you're all evil."


"We just killed off two of our kind.  How evil can we be?"


She looked up at him, gave him a hard glare.  "They aren't our kind.  They'll never be our kind."  She pulled away, hurried down the street.


"You get so testy when you're peckish." 


She glanced back at him, saw him grin.  Unable to resist the expression, she slowed.  "And I'm not getting any less peckish as you bump your gums, Admiral."  She saw his expression change and immediately regretted calling him that.   "Jim, I'm sorry.  I didn't think."


"No reason you should have."  He seemed to be fighting his way back to a good mood.  "We gave that life up together.  I'm not an admiral.  You're not a lieutenant."


"Or a doctor?"


"Well, I wouldn't go that far.  Remember that woman you patched up last week?" 


She nodded.  The man who'd tried to cut the woman up had made a wonderful dinner.  Christine had dragged him to the cemetery and killed him slowly.  But not until she'd helped the woman, stopping the bleeding and making sure help was on the way.


"You're still a slayer too."  Jim was close, his voice low and sexy.  "I think you always will be."


"What happens when Silver sets the true slayers on us?"


Jim shrugged.  "He could have done that before we were turned.  You weren't exactly his favorite person."


She smiled grimly.  "No, I wasn't."  Then she shot him a look.  "But he wouldn't have sent them after me.  Not for just annoying him.  Not when I was still human, but now..."


"Well, let's not tell him you're not human anymore then."


She smiled at him.  "Okay."  Then she heard something.  Voices:  low, dangerous.  Two men.  Waiting for someone--anyone--to walk their way. 


"You go on ahead," he said, a cruel smile on his face. 


She licked her lips, making him laugh, then walked down the street toward where the men waited in a darkened doorway.  She made far too much noise, stumbled a bit as if she was a little tipsy.  She could hear a noise above her, realized Jim had gone up onto the roofs, was shadowing her.  She smiled, and her face almost changed in anticipation but she forced it back to normal.  No need to tip her hand before the fun began.


She passed the stairwell.  One of the men came up behind her, and suddenly a knife was at her throat.  She could smell his excitement, the stale, sour smell of violent desire.  Moving her hand, she pushed at him ineffectually, managing to get her fingers under his hand.  Which was all the leverage she would need when the time came.


The other man stepped out in front of her.  "Well, well.  Lookie what we caught."  He ran his hand down her front, lingered in places that she would make him regret having touched.  "We're going to have a lot of fun tonight."


"Define fun."  Her voice wasn't that of a victim, and the man's head shot up. 


"Allow me to demonstrate."  He punched her in the stomach.


It hurt.  She let it hurt, let the pain add to the already growing agony of raw, terrible hunger.  Only his blood would make the hunger stop. 


She stared at him.  "Do that again, and I'll kill you."


Both men laughed, but it was a nervous laugh.  She could tell that something about the way she'd said that had scared them.  Their scent changed, excitement giving way to some small degree of fright. 


She heard Jim creeping overhead.  He wouldn't jump, not unless he thought she needed help.  And by now, he knew she liked to play.  And maybe that was evil of her, but these men were more so.  They would hurt her without a second thought, and her only crime would have been being on the wrong street at the wrong time.  They would hurt her, and they'd derive pleasure from hurting her.


She at least was taking them off the street.  There were women who would not be hurt because she had met these two monsters first.


"You need another lesson, I think."  The man punched her again.


"And you need to die."  She pushed the hand of the man holding her, her other hand coming up to wrestle the knife away.  Using him as leverage, she kicked out, her body arcing up as she caught the other man's head in a scissor hold with her legs--and twisted.  The sound of his neck breaking echoed hollowly in the night air.  He fell without crying out, did not get back up again, but his eyes blinked, as he lay on the sidewalk, not quite dead.


She heard the man behind her whimper, then fall.  He tried to crawl backwards, and she turned and followed him, moving the knife from hand to hand.  "What's the matter?  This no fun anymore?"


She was dimly aware of Jim jumping off the roof, catching up the man whose neck she'd broken and draining him.


The man on the ground tried to crawl faster.  "Lady, we weren't going to hurt you."


"Really?"  She let her face transform. 


He squealed, like a baby pig going to slaughter.  "What are you?"  His voice rose on the last word.

"Your worst nightmare," she said, as she flew at him, no longer caring for the game, only wanting to feed.  His blood filled her, made her whole and strong.  And she closed her eyes and drank all of it, then threw him away from her when she was done.


"Oh my god."


She turned, changing into a human again, but too late.  Emma was there.  Emma had seen.


Jim was moving closer to her.  "This isn't as bad as it looks."  It was the old Kirk tone.


It took Emma by surprise.  "It's not?"


"They were trying to rape Christine."  He pointed to the knife.  "That will match several other attacks in the vicinity."


Christine nodded, wiping the knife off and throwing it to Emma.  Emma did not pick it up.




When Christine didn't answer, Jim did.  "David." 


"Where is David?"  Emma's tone was hard, uncompromising.


"Dead," Christine said, finally finding her voice.


"You expect me to believe you killed your sire."


"He wanted me.  I wanted Jim.  His solution was to kill Jim."  Christine swallowed hard.  "I didn't like his solution."


Emma frowned, but her eyes were suddenly not as hard.  That apparently was believable.  But then she became the watcher again: impassive, starched--ready to slay.  "You're a monster."


"Maybe."  Christine's voice was small, surprising her.  Had she really thought Emma would be as understanding as Weasel?


"I have to tell Kevin," Emma finally said.


Nodding, Christine turned away.  She saw Jim sizing up the distance, as if debating taking her watcher on.  "Don't," she told him.


"But she--"


"--Let her.  It's the way of things."  She kissed him, pulling him to her and holding him close as she left her back open.  Inviting Emma to stake them with her walking stick, to take them both out where they stood.


Emma didn't do it.


Turning, Christine stared at her watcher.  "If you tell Silver, you'll make his day."


"I know.  Maybe I won't."  Emma swayed, put a hand out for something to hold onto, but there wasn't anything. 


Before she could fall, Christine was at her side, easing her down.  Emma tried to yank away, but lacked the strength.


"What's wrong with you?" Christine asked.


"I've been searching for you.  Every damn night, Christine.  I thought David had you."  Emma was crying, pounding on Christine hard enough to hurt.  "And he did.  He had you."


Kirk said, "Well, technically, he didn't 'have' her."  He shot a look at Christine.  "Did he?"


"No."  Christine shot him a "this isn't the time" look.


Emma glared at him, then her.  "You know what I mean."


Noticing that Emma's eyes were dilated strangely, Christine felt her forehead, trying to ignore how her watcher shrank from her touch.  Even allowing for the difference in their body temperatures, Emma felt as if she was burning up. 


"You're ill?"


"I've been ill."  Emma's voice was defeated. 


"Your headaches?"


Emma nodded.  "Chorealpaneic Encephalitis."  She pushed Christine away, struggled to her feet.  Pulling out a stake, she brandished it at them.  "But I'm not dead yet."


Christine held out a hand.  "You don't have to be dead at all."


Emma looked as if Christine had struck her.  "Don't.  Don't you dare."  She backed away.


"Emma.  I can help you."


"You can damn me, you mean.  The same way you damned yourself.  Why, Christine?  Why did you let him turn you?"  Emma's eyes were filled with tears and she moaned, as if she was in great pain.  "I believed in you."


Christine felt Jim's hand on her shoulder, leaned into it, trying to get strength.  "I guess you believed in me more than I did, Emma."


"Well, damn you for that!"  Emma turned, walking away unsteadily, her gait wavering. 

Christine let her go.


"Chris," Jim said, clearly torn.  He looked as if he wanted to run after her watcher.  "If she tells Silver..."


"She won't."


"How do you know?"  He was looking at her as if he thought she was crazy.  But he made no move to go after her watcher, and she relaxed.


"I just do."  She touched his face.   "I love her.  I can't hurt her."


He turned, watching Emma as she wove her way out of sight.  "I hate to break it to you, Chris.  But I don't think we're really evil.  Not if basic self-preservation seems to be beyond our grasp."  Sighing, he took her hand.  "You still hungry?"


She shook her head.  "Let's go home."


"Okay."  His hand was cool on hers, cool but comforting nonetheless.


"I let all of you down," she said, her voice sounding as broken as she'd felt inside lately.


"No, you didn't."


"Jim.  I gave in.  I gave up.  And I took you with me."


"I wanted you to.  What does that make me?"  He pulled her to him, his lips pressing on hers almost savagely.  "I'd have died without you."


"No.  You'd have lived."  She pushed back his hair, tried to remember how his eyes looked in the sunlight, how the gold flecks seemed to glow.  She'd never see him in the sunlight again. 


"Chris.  Don't do this."


"She's dying."  She felt something strange on her face, wiped at her cheeks and her hands came away wet.  She'd never seen a vampire cry.  Other than Spike, and she'd always assumed he was able to because of his soul.  But she was crying now.  She was weeping.


Emma was dying.  Emma could live.  Christine could see to that.


"Chris.  It's her choice."  Uncanny how well Jim knew her. 


"I know."


"She will kill us if we try to force this on her."


"I know."


He sighed.


"Don't you wish you'd stayed with Weasel?"  She gave him a sad smile.


"No.  But next time I see him, I'm going to ask him if he knew this would happen."  He started to walk faster, pulling her along behind him.  "Let's go home, Chris."


Home.  A dark basement with sewer access. But home because Jim was there.  It was more than she would have had as a human.  She had to keep telling herself that.


Maybe eventually, she'd believe it.




Christine eased out of Jim's arms, crawling carefully out of their bed.  Pulling on her clothes, she was halfway across the basement, when he said, "If you're going to turn her, I'm going to have to object.  She was pretty clear on that score."


She stopped mid-stride.  "I just want to see her."  She heard him sigh and turned to look at him.   "You got Weasel back.  Why can't I have her?"


He smiled, shaking his head.  "I'm not saying you can't have her back, sweetheart.  But she might have other ideas."


Looking down, she said, "I know.  But I have to try."




She glared at him.  "Talking to her.  I'm not going to try to turn her."


He narrowed his eyes, as if he was considering that.  "Would you?  I mean, if she asked you to?"  Sitting up in bed, he stared at her.  "You could save her."


"She doesn't want this life."


"But would you, if she did?"


She couldn't look away; his eyes seemed to bore into her.  "Yes."


The sheet fell away from him as he got up and padded across the floor to her.  He was naked, and he looked like some kind of jungle cat the way he moved--swift, deadly...beautiful. 


"I would, Jim," she said as he reached for her, as he kissed her and held her close.


"Let's turn everyone we love, Chris.  It'll be just like old times."  He was smiling, but there was something that wasn't entirely sarcastic in his voice.


"Are you serious?"


He laughed, the sound strangely cold.  "I'm not sure."  He touched her face.  "If they wanted it, I'm not sure I'd say no."


She began to laugh.  "It'd be a hell of a gang."


"Crew, if you don't mind.  Gang is such a negative word."


"My mistake.  Crew."  She kissed him.  "Crew, crew, crew, crew, crew."  Smiling, she patted him on the butt.  "Get back in bed."




"Because you're distracting me."


"You say that like it's a bad thing."  But he was moving back to the bed.




He stopped, turned to look at her.


"Am I enough for you?"


"Yes.  You are."


"Will I always be?"


He grinned.  "I don't know for sure.  Maybe not.  Hell, for all we know, you'll get sick of me.  But I think between you and the magic lessons, I'll be occupied for a good, long time."  He began to rub his hand down the front of his body.  "Do you want me to demonstrate that to you?"


"Yes.  But later."


"Tease."  He slipped back under the covers.  "Be careful, Chris.  Don't let her stake you."


"I won't."  She hurried out before he could distract her again.


The walk to Emma's townhouse took little time.  It felt good to be back out in the night, free and one with the darkness.  She passed mortals and wondered if they could tell she was different, or if she still appeared to be one of them.  Considering how David had fooled her, she probably did not stand out.


Rounding the corner, she saw Emma standing by the front window, staring out into the night.  Christine moved closer, and their eyes met, then Emma closed the blinds.  Christine watched her shadow move across the blinds, then get smaller.  Working her way around to the back of the house, Christine saw Emma standing at the basement door.  It was open, the screen still shut.  As Christine walked to it slowly, Emma sank down, sitting back against the door jam, staring up at her.


Careful not to make any sudden movements, afraid that she'd startle her watcher if she did, Christine eased down on the opposite side of the door.  The only thing standing between them was the screen and the mystical force that prevented Christine from entering a house she'd not been invited into.  Christine leaned against the screen, could feel the slight push of the power keeping her out.  She drew back.


They sat in silence for along time.  Emma leaned her head back, watching Christine.  Her eyes slowly closed, but not before Christine saw tears in them again.


"Are you in pain?" she asked at the same time Emma whispered, "Why, Christine?"


Emma's eyes opened; they both stared. 


Christine finally said, "Because I was weak."


Emma slapped the floor, the move unexpected, but it didn't make Christine jump.  Somehow she'd registered the movement; her senses had been ready for the crack of sound. 


"You weren't weak, damn it all.  You weren't weak at all, Christine.  Bloody David and his bloody charm."  Emma looked as if she wanted to come through the screen and slap some sense into her.


Christine just sighed.  It was far too late for that.  "Are you in pain?" 


She watched Emma's face as she shook her head.  She saw the faint twinge as Emma moved, saw her watcher's eyes dilate.  So many things she saw as a beast that she might have missed as a human.  Emma's smell was off too.  Just enough to tell her predator's instinct that this was not a healthy individual, was perhaps one who could be easily culled from the herd. 


"You are too in pain."


"Oh, shut up."  Emma swatted at her through the screen.  Then she lifted her hand again, laid it against the mesh.  "I've been searching night and day for you.  Kevin lectured me that I was overdoing it, using up all my strength, but I wouldn't stop.  I thought I could save you."


Christine slowly raised her own hand, laid it gently against the mesh on her side.  She felt Emma push out, could feel her warmth even through the screen.  "I'm sorry."


"I should kill you."


"Maybe you should."


"I may kill you."  She took a deep breath.  It sounded ragged to Christine.  "Later.  Once I've rested."


"I'm sorry."


"You said that already, Christine."


They sat in silence then, the night air growing colder--even Christine could tell that.  Emma was shivering.


"You need to warm up, Emma.  This isn't good for you."


Emma laughed.  She sounded slightly hysterical.  "I know what's good for me."  Reaching behind her, she pulled something out of the shadows. 


Christine tensed, but then she saw it wasn't a stake.  It was a hypo spray and several containers.  Emma began to load one of the canisters into the hypo.  It was a painkiller--a powerful one.  "I knew you'd come here tonight.  And I'm glad.  I don't have to do this alone."


Realizing what Emma was intending, she tensed again.  "Emma, no."


"Will you stay?  Until I'm gone."


"This isn't the answer."


"I'm dying, Christine.  It will be ugly and painful and undignified.  You took the easy way out.  Would you deny it to me?"


"Yes."  Christine pounded on the screen, felt the repelling force intensify.  "Emma, I need you.  I still need you."


"No."  Emma sprayed the first hypo into her upper arm.


"No.  Emma, don't."  The sound came out as a moan.


Emma smiled.  Her face relaxed, all pain apparently gone.  "So good."


"Please, don't leave me."


"You didn't give me much choice.  I leave you or I slay you.  Which would you prefer?"


When Christine didn't answer, she loaded up the next canister.  A strong anti-anxiety medicine, it would act quickly.  Emma would need to move fast to administer the last, an anti-psychotic that would interact with the other two almost immediately.  She would seizure for a while, then that would be it.


"Emma, no."


The second shot hissed into Emma's arm.  Her watcher moved quickly, shoving the anti-psychotic into the hypo and slamming it against her arm even as she fell back. 


She looked over at Christine, her arm reaching out.  "I wish I could touch you."

Christine felt the force holding her out of Emma's house release.  It was apparently close enough to an invitation.  Pulling the screen so hard the door came off the hinges, she tossed it aside as she threw herself onto the floor, cradling Emma in her arms.  "Don't leave me."


Emma's body shook in a seizure.  Then a larger one.  She whispered something.  Christine could hear it perfectly.


"Forgive me."


"No," she said, as she pushed Emma's hair away from her neck.  "You forgive me."


Emma's hand came up as Christine bit down, but her watcher didn't try to push her away, instead she stroked her hair.


Christine sobbed as she bled her, finally pulling away.  She ripped open her wrist, held it to Emma's mouth.


Emma did not drink, her body convulsing again in a violent seizure.


"Drink, damn you!"   She held her down, held her still, and forced her arm over Emma's mouth.


Emma didn't drink.


Christine pulled her arm away, realized she was crying.  Dashing the tears from her eyes, she stared down at her watcher.  Blood was on Emma's lips, but she didn't even lick them.


"I love you, Christine."  Her voice was just a breath.


"Prove it.  Don't leave me."  She held her wrist up again.


But Emma was gone.  Her eyes stared back at her, sightless now, no life in them, no love in them, nothing in them.


"No."  She straddled her watcher, began to try to resuscitate her.  Just a moment.  That's all she needed.  One moment.


One, two, three, four...  She pushed hard, too hard.  Felt something break.  Kept going anyway.  She couldn't breathe for her, but she could do this. 


She tore at her wrist, making it bleed freely.  Holding it to Emma's mouth she let the blood pour in, then went back to the CPR. 


One, two, three, four...  More blood, more pushes, blood, hands, blood--

--Emma coughed. 


And Christine laughed. 


Emma's eyes opened, a panicked look on her face.  Christine could imagine what she was feeling as the drugs tried to push her into oblivion, as her heart slowed from the lack of blood.


"Drink," Christine said, holding her arm close enough for Emma to take it. 

Emma's eyes met hers.  "No," she moaned, the sound barely audible even to Christine.


"Please."  Blood dripped onto Emma's lip. 


Their eyes met, then Emma licked at it.  Another drop fell, then another.  She licked those up too.


She closed her eyes, but Christine saw defeat in them before they were hidden away.  Laying her wrist against Emma's mouth, she felt her begin to suck.


She smiled; Emma wouldn't leave her.


"I never wanted this," Emma said groggily, as she stopped sucking and closed her eyes.


"I know.  I'm sorry."  Christine touched her, felt Emma shudder, but then her watcher drew closer, laying her head in Christine's lap as she gave in to the first sleep of the undead.  Christine remembered that sleep, how relentless it was in its call.  Coupled with the drugs already in Emma's system, there was no way she was getting Emma anywhere tonight.


She heard a noise, then Jim's soft call, "Chris?"


"In here."


He took in the scene, eyed the hypos, the blood spilled on the floor.  Her torn arm--that, at least, he'd understand.   He moved closer.  "Do I even want to know what happened?"


"She was going to kill herself, damn near did.  I...interfered."


"Hmmm."  He went outside, picked up the screen door and brought it inside.  "No sense making it look like the place was broken into."  He knelt down, studied Emma.  "She's going to be stronger than either of us, I bet."


"Probably so."  Christine stroked her hair.


"Is she going to be happy about this when she wakes up?"


"I don't think so."


"Super."  He met her eyes, shook his head.  "Did you set out to do this, Chris?"


"No.  But she made me watch, Jim.  And then she invited me in.  She had to know what I'd do."


He frowned, studying Emma.  "You're right.  She had to know.  Maybe she wanted the decision taken away from her?"




"Well, she's going to be hungry.  Guess I better go rustle her up some food."  He grinned at her, and she loved him more than ever.  "And I think my best girl's going to need some too.  You're down a few pints, I imagine."


She laughed.  "More.  She's a heavy worlder.  She drank a lot."


He looked concerned.  "Do you need some now?"  He held his wrist to her.


She kissed it.  "I'm all right."  She nuzzled against him as he moved his wrist away from her mouth, caressing her. 


He looked down at Emma.  "Any idea what kind of vampire she'll be?"


Christine shook her head.  "All those drugs--for all we know she'll be as batty as Drusilla was."


"Oh, yeah.  That's just what I wanted to hear."   He rolled his eyes and got up.  "I'm going hunting."




He turned around.


"Why did you follow me?"


He sighed.  "Because I knew this was going to happen."




He shrugged.  "Magic?"  Frowning, he said, "Weasel said, 'Watchers...and other things.'  It suddenly occurred to me what he might have meant.  I hightailed it over here, figured you wouldn't be coming back to our place tonight.  Thought you might need me."


She nodded.  Emma moaned, curling up closer against her.  Christine stroked her hair.  "She's my daughter.  Sort of."


"Sweetie, that makes me your son.  I'm not enjoying that thought."


She laughed.  "Then don't think of it and go get us some food."


"Yes, mother."  He winked at her and left, closing the door behind him.


When he got back with two young and very dazed punks in tow, Christine was still sitting on the floor, soothing Emma as she dreamed her first vampire dreams.




Kirk watched as Emma slowly woke.  She stretched, rubbing at her eyes like a child, and he wondered if he'd done the same thing when he'd first awakened. 


"Emma?"  Chris's voice was tentative, unsure.


Kirk touched the stake he'd hidden under his shirt.  It poked into his back, but he found the feeling comforting.  He didn't know what all those drugs had done to Emma, and he wouldn't be afraid to use the stake if she woke up wrong.


"Emma, it's okay."  Chris was running her hand down Emma's arm in a soothing motion.


"Nothing hurts," Emma said softly, her eyes slowly opening.  She stared at Christine.  "You don't know what it's like to not hurt after so much pain for so long."


"I'm glad."


Emma reached out, her hand whipping up to Chris's shirt, yanking her down, so her ear was near Emma's mouth.  "No, it's wrong.  It should hurt."


Kirk reached for the stake, but then Emma threw Chris away from her, and he decided to chalk her bad mood up to not having wanted to be turned in the first place.


"I'm sorry," Chris said.


"No, you're not."  Emma pushed herself up, walking over to where the punk Kirk had caught for her lay trussed up.  "Dinner, I take it?"  She looked over at him, as if noticing him for the first time.


"Bon appetit," he said softly.


She jerked the young man to her, biting into his neck without hesitation.  The quiet sound of her feeding filled the room.


Chris turned to look at him. 


He lifted his eyebrows, murmuring, "Like a duck to water..."


Chris smiled, but it was a nervous smile.


Emma finished feeding and dropped the body onto the floor, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand, the movement savage and still very angry.  "I didn't ask to be turned."


"Not in so many words, no.  But you set it up."  Chris had been practicing on him, working out what Emma must have been thinking.


"Oh, you think so?"  Emma strode up to her, getting close, far closer than Chris would have allowed anyone else who was acting quite that belligerent.


"I know so."  Chris took a step in; her eyes were as hard as Emma's.  "Why else did you try to kill yourself right then?  If you'd wanted to die, you'd be dead.  And I'd have found your cold, lifeless body.  You wouldn't have done it when I was there to save you."




"Save."  Chris took another step; their faces were practically touching. 


Kirk had the sudden, very interesting thought that maybe they might kiss.  He wasn't entirely sure how he felt about that, although parts of him were expressing some interest in how that might go.  But Chris didn't kiss Emma, instead she pushed her hard.  Very hard.


Emma went flying back into the wall.  She got up quickly, her face transformed, the snarl loud and very angry as she rushed Chris.


Kirk backed up.  It was up to the two of them to figure out which would be the alpha bitch.  He hoped to god it was Chris.  He didn't relish being alpha male with anyone else. 


He worried that Emma's heavy-worlder body would give her the edge, but slayer strength won the day.  Emma ended up on her stomach, Christine's hand on her neck, her knee pressing down in what looked like a painful way into Emma's back.


"I'm your sire," Chris said softly.


"And damn you for that."  But Emma didn't struggle.


Chris moved off her, letting her up.  "I couldn't let you die.  Learn to live with that.  Or stake me if you're so damned angry about it."


Emma seemed to be looking around her basement for a weapon.  Fortunately, Kirk had moved them all when Chris hadn't been paying attention.  Both women turned to look at him, and he shrugged.


"I figured there'd be a fight," he said with a grin.  The grin charmed neither of them.  He decided not to tell them he had a stake stuck in his pants.


Emma sat down on a bench running along one wall.  Sighing, she flexed her hands, watching her fingers bend and straighten.  Chris sat down next to her. 


"Everything we hated, Christine, is in these hands now."


"We're not evil."  At Emma's look, Chris shook her head.  "Jim and I.  We're not evil.  That story about our soul going bye-bye when the vampire takes over: it's bullshit."


Emma didn't look convinced.


"We only kill the dregs of society.  Criminals and evil people.  They're more evil than we are."


"I'm sure that makes a lovely bedtime tale."  Emma turned to look at him.  "Do you agree with her?"


He nodded.  "I'm still me."


"How do you know that?"


He smiled.  "I'm not going to get existential, Emma.  I know it because of what I feel.  I still wish I was up on my ship."  He saw Chris look at him, her expression a little hurt.  "I still love Chris with all my heart," he said, trying to make up for the first comment.  "I still am angry at the friends I was angry with before she turned me.  I still protect those I care about."


Emma's eyes grew slightly softer.


He pressed on.  "I worry that we might turn evil.  Isn't that fairly indicative that we're not yet?  Maybe not ever?  Would an evil thing worry that it was evil?"


"You're good with words."


"Always was.   Just one more way that I'm still me."  He sighed and sat down in a chair across the room from her and Chris.  "I know Chris still loves you.  Why would she care about her ex-watcher if she wasn't still inside and in control?"  She was about to say something, but he forged on before she could get the words out.  "Why would you even care?  Why would you be mad that she turned you?  If you aren't still you?"


She frowned.


He grinned.  He had her there.


Chris slowly leaned against her, laying her head on Emma's shoulders.  "I do still love you.  I needed you.  I couldn't let you die."


"Selfish child," Emma said, but she rested her head against Christine's for a moment.


"Does that mean you forgive me?" 


"No."  But Emma didn't pull away.  They sat like that for several moments, then she said, "We need to get rid of that body.  And we need to make it look like I left town."


Kirk surveyed the blood on the floor.  "I'm not sure that story will hold water."


"Kevin will never stop looking for us if we don't cover our tracks.   I'll leave him a message, tell him I went away to end this.  I think he'll believe that."  She walked to a utility closet, pulled out a mop and some cleanser.  "Do you want to be on disposal duty, or do you prefer swabbing the decks?"


He eyed the mop with distaste.  "I'll get rid of the body."  He'd already taken out the one Chris had fed off of.  He really needed to get his hands on a disruptor--a weapon that would obliterate a body when they were done feeding would be invaluable.  Or maybe there was a spell that Weasel could help him with? 


"Silver will kill me slowly for this," Chris said.


"He'll hate you almost as much as he does--did David."  Emma looked at Chris.  "You really killed David?"


"Staked him, yeah."  Chris looked down.


Emma glanced over at Kirk.  "You were there?"


He nodded.  He would never forget that night.  That fateful night.  He couldn't decide where Emma was going with the question, so he refrained from commenting.


Emma just sighed.  "I'm going to go pack...just a few things."  She looked over at Christine.  "If I were really running off to kill myself, I wouldn't take much with me."


"Were you going to do that?  Just run off and end it?" 


Emma didn't look away.  "Yes.  When this was all over, I was going to do exactly that."


"And you think I'm a coward?"


"Don't judge what you don't understand." 


"I could say the same thing to you."


Emma suddenly grinned--a slightly hostile grin, but a grin nonetheless.  Tossing the mop to Christine, she said, "It's your fault we're in this mess, you clean it up."

Christine held the mop awkwardly and looked over at Kirk.  "You're sure you don't want me to take out the trash, hon?"


He laughed.  "Positive."  He hurried out into the night before she could change his mind.




 Christine sniffed.  Even to her nose, there was no lingering scent of blood.  Although the visibly swirling vapors of bleach mixed with ammonia and some other heavy-duty cleansers she'd found in Emma's closet probably would have killed her if she'd needed to breathe.


"Nice job."  Emma set a bag down, then moved to the screen door that Jim had carried in earlier.  Reaching down, she began to tear it apart.


"Still upset, I see," Christine murmured, putting the cleaning supplies away before.


"Shut up.  I'm very unhappy with you."  Emma didn't look at her.


"Yeah, I got that."  Christine sat down on the bench and leaned back, watching Emma work out her frustrations on metal and wire mesh.  Her movements were supple and strong--no sign of any sickness.  She was whole and terrible in her new might.  Just like Christine.  Just like Jim.  


"Did you ever think of this?" Christine asked.  "Of becoming a vampire?"


Emma turned to look at her.


"I used to.  When I was with Spike.  Wondered what it would be like...to just let him turn me."


"From what you told me of him, he wouldn't have.  Couldn't have."


"It was a safe fantasy."  Christine grinned, but she could feel the smile fading when Emma's expression didn't change.  "You're not making this easy."


"Am I supposed to, Christine?  Am I supposed to say, 'Oh, dearest, thank you so much for turning me into a demon-possessed serial killer'?'  Is that what you want?"  She tore the screen up with more vigor. 


"I don't want anything."  Christine saw that Emma's hands were bleeding; Emma didn't seem to notice.


Emma huffed, the sound full of annoyance, but she didn't say anything, just tore the screen up more.


"Are you mad at her, Emma?" Jim asked from the stairs.  "Or are you really upset at yourself for wanting to be with her?"

They both turned to look at him.   Neither of them had heard him come in, and Christine smiled.  He was so dangerous; it sent a little thrill through her that he was hers. 


"Stay out of this, Admiral."  Emma's tone was vicious, the title clearly meant to hurt him.


He didn't appear hurt, just smiled as if he'd been the one to score the blow.  "Desire has a way of blowing everything else away.  Desire to live, to be with the people we care about."  He walked closer to her, his stride easy, but Christine noticed that he was watching Emma carefully.  "Who would you turn if you could?  Someone on your home world?  Someone on the council?"


Emma struck out with the piece of frame, but he caught it, holding firmly to the jagged end.  Blood dripped from his hand.


"Or is it me you resent?  Getting between you two?"  He smiled, and this time the smile was not so much vicious as...interested.  "Do you wish it was just you and Christine?"


"What I wish is that one or both of you had had the wherewithal to say no to this."


"Like you did?"  He let go of the screen.  More blood fell as he relaxed his hand.


Christine got up with a loud sigh, suddenly feeling very tired.  "Damn you both."

They turned to look at her.


She gestured to the floor.  "I just cleaned that up."  She grabbed the chemicals, mixing the noxious brew up in relief.  Maybe everyone could stop fighting for a few minutes?   


She mopped viciously.  Then she turned to glare at them.  "Go.  Sit.  Down."


She must have had "sire's voice."  They both went to separate corners, sitting down and watching her as she cleaned up. 


"What's done is done."   She didn't look up as she talked.  "We're family now."


Emma made a disparaging noise.  Jim didn't react, seemed to be on his best behavior, staring at her in rapt attention. 


Christine suddenly had an idea what he might have been like at the academy.  "Brown-nose," she muttered.


He grinned.  Then he looked over at Emma and winked.  Emma laughed softly, then visibly fought back the smile.


"You can't resist him.  No one can."  Christine put the mop back into the closet and dumped out the cleanser.  "Let's go."




"Our place for now," Jim said.  "Then we'll decide."  He gathered up the pieces of screen door.  "We'll dispose of this far from here."


"I'm not sure I want to come with you."  Emma's mouth was set stubbornly.


"Well, I'm not sure I want you to come with us either."  Jim looked over at Christine and winked.  "You could seriously cramp our style."  Again he got the slightly faraway look.  "Or not..."


Christine began to giggle.  "I thought you said I was enough for you."


"You are.  But it might be fun..."

Emma whapped him with the walking stick she'd pulled from somewhere. 


"Very fun," he said, eyeing the stick with no fear and quite a lot of interest.


"Vampires..."  Emma pushed past them both and strode out of the house.


They followed her, Jim touching Christine gently as if he was trying to make up for something.


"Do you want...?"  She glanced over at him, then at Emma.


"Let's take this one night at a time."  Grinning, he pulled her close and kissed her.


"Would you two hurry up?"  Emma glared back at them.


"You're just jealous," Jim said, as he kissed Christine again--out of spite.  Or maybe just sibling rivalry. 


Christine decided to ignore them.  She was too old for this--or not old enough. 




Kirk sat back in bed, watching Chris sleep.  She had her arm thrown over her face, as if to block out some light that only she could see.


"You still love her?"  Emma was curled on the couch, staring over at them.  "That hasn't changed?"


"That hasn't changed."  When she didn't look convinced, he asked softly, "Do you still love her?"


She looked away.  "Yes."  Then she looked back at him.  "Do you really think I want her?"


He smiled.  "I don't think you did before.  Not consciously probably.  But we get a lot of things with these demon powers...and we lose some things too.  Filters, for example."  His eyes narrowed.  "Suddenly...everyone looks good."


She smiled slightly, then looked away again.  "It's odd.  The power.  It's..."




"I was thinking more along the lines of terrifying."  She got up slowly, began to pace.  "We can be anything we choose to be.  And no one can stop us."  Then she did smile.  "Well, aside from a lot of determined young women and a council of mostly old men."


"And some freelancers."  Kirk frowned.  He was more worried about Spike than he'd let on to Chris.  What would her former lover do if he found out what she'd done?   A slayer turned vampire.   No soul.  No chip. 


No future, probably.  Kirk didn't intend to let her get anywhere near Spike. 


He looked down at Chris, brushing her hair back gently, not waking her.  "I put her here, Emma."


"What do you mean?"


"A long time ago, she wanted to go back into hiding.  And I wouldn't let her."  He met her eyes, saw no judgment.  Just curiosity.  "It's my fault she hit rock bottom.  And my fault she let David do this to her."


"She's her own person.  They were her decisions."


"I was her captain.  I should have protected her."


"Is that why you followed her?  To protect her?"


He nodded.  "And to have her."  At Emma's look of surprise, he grinned.  "What?  You don't think I can be introspective?"


She finally grinned back.  An open, easy expression, and he felt some last hackles go down.  Which was good because the stake he'd stuck in the back of his pants was starting to give him splinters.  He reached behind him, pulling it out slowly.

Emma's eyes widened.  "Was that for me?"


He nodded as he put it on the bedside table.  "I don't like surprises."


"Smart man."  Emma pulled a stake out from behind her back too.  "I don't either."


He laughed.  "How long have you had that?"


She shrugged as she went back to the couch, stroking the fabric as if in surprise at how lush it was. 


Kirk smiled.  He'd been surprised too, when they'd moved into the Bijorick demon's lair.  The creature had been ugly as sin, but he'd had a knack for collecting cushy fabrics and nice furniture.  He hadn't given up this place happily.  Or at all.  They'd had to kill him for it.  Kirk tried to determine if he felt any remorse at all.  Chris had told him that as demons went, Bijorick's weren't completely on the heinous side of the scale of good and evil.  Still, there were a few hundred puppies who wouldn't turn into takeout, and that could only be a good thing--Kirk had always loved dogs.


Besides, they'd needed a place to hole up.  And their needs came first.  Chris came first.  And always would.


And now Emma.  His...sister? 


"So is Chris really our mom?"  He looked over at Emma.  "Sis?"


"Don't push the family theme.  It'll only make you crazy."  She curled back up on the couch.   "Or it'll make me crazy, which concerns me far more."


"So..."  He grinned at her.  "Do you want her?"


She sat very still, not breathing, something that it had taken him days to get over thinking he had to do.  She seemed like a statue, ivory-skinned and still covered in brownish tweed.  He tried to envision her in the black outfits Chris wore. Tried and failed. 


She stretched, pulling off her jacket finally.  He realized that Chris had been the only one comfortable enough to take her clothes off.  She lay next to him naked.  Emma and he--they'd kept their clothes on as if they could protect something.  Well, and they'd both needed somewhere to hide their stakes.

"Does it take that much thought?"  He cuddled next to Chris, his arm pulling her close.  He noticed Emma's eyes tracking his hands.   He eased the sheet down, smiling...taunting Emma a little bit.  "Do you?"


"I don't know."  Her eyes didn't leave Chris's breasts and what he was doing to them.


"Liar."  He pulled the sheet up. 


She got up slowly, walked over to him.  "It's not a lie.  I don't know."  She pulled down the sheet, exposing Chris and him too--even if he was fully clothed.  Something about her look made him feel naked.  "You both look good to me.  It's confusing."  She stared for a moment, then shook her head as if trying to solve some difficult problem.


She suddenly reminded Kirk of Spock. 


Yanking the sheet back up over them, she sighed.


"Oh, for god's sake, Emma."  Chris sounded very irritated.  "Just go to sleep.  On the couch.  In the bed.  I don't care.  Just pick one and go to sleep." 


He met Emma's eyes, felt his mouth turning up.  "Oops," he mouthed to her, saw her smile.


Chris turned over, burrowing into his chest.  "Go to sleep, both of you."


Emma reached down, stroking Chris's hair. 


Chris pulled away from him and looked up at her.  "Does this mean I'm forgiven?"


Emma nodded.


"Well, hallelujah.  Now get some sleep."


"You didn't sleep with David, did you, Christine?"

"Now's probably not the time," he said, but Chris just rolled her eyes.


"I did not have sex with him.  Okay?"  She looked up at Emma.  "I didn't love him."


"Yes, because you only ever sleep with men you love," Emma said, as if she wanted to goad Chris into a fight.


"One guy.  Spike.  And I cared about him.  I still do.   I just wasn't in love with him."


Kirk heard the unsaid.  Not like she had been with Spock.  He waited, suddenly unsure if she loved him the way she had Spock.


She leaned in and kissed him.  And she didn't mention Spock.  But she did say, "Not like I love this man...monster.  Whatever he is now." 

He kissed her back. 


"Now, can I please get some sleep?"


Emma nodded, going back to the couch and curling up.  She looked softer somehow.  As if she had finally let go of something hard and brittle.


"I love you," he said to Chris, not trying to hide it from Emma.  She'd hear it no matter how low he said it.


Chris just nestled in again.  "Jim," she murmured.  "I love you."


He fell asleep to the silence of three non-beating hearts. 




Christine tore off more of her shirt to make a bandage for the lieutenant who was trying to bleed to death on the ground in front of her.  As she worked, a fine coat of dust seemed to float in the unnaturally still air--all that was left of one of the vampires that had attacked him.


She wasn't sure why she and Jim had stepped in.  Except that the man had been Starfleet, and it had seemed like second nature to help.  She'd rushed in and staked the closest vampire before he could finish feeding.  Jim had had gone after the other vamp, who'd run off as Christine had eased the struggling lieutenant down to the grass. 


He was still struggling, looking up at her, his face full of terror.  "Please, no," he said, trying to get away from her.


"It's okay.  Just stay still and let me help."  She had to hold him down.


"So...it's true."  The voice was unexpected--and full of some deep sadness. 


She glanced up.  "Spike?  What are you doing here?"


He was moving towards her in a deliberate way she found menacing.  "I heard some things on the demon grapevine.  About a slayer gone vamp."  He took another step, reached into his pocket.  "Looks like I got here just in time to stop you from"--he seemed to realize what she was doing--"saving him?  You are saving him, right?"


"That was my plan."  She frowned as the man reached out to Spike, mouthing the word "help."  "What is your problem?  I'm trying to help you."


Spike crouched down near her.  "Could be that your bad case of the bumpies is a bit unnerving for the poor sod." 


She realized she was in vamp face--when had she changed?  "Oh.  No wonder he's panicked."  Patting the man on the shoulder, she said, "Look, human.  Just like you."  She forced her face to change back.  It was hard with the smell of blood all around.  "See. Just a harmless little hallucination."


The lieutenant stopped struggling.


"So, you came here to slay me?"  She glanced over at Spike again as she went back to work.


He pulled his hand out of his pocket.  "Something like that."


"Hmmm."  She pushed down hard, saw the bleeding slow, then finally stop.


There was a long silence, then he said, "Guess we have some catching up to do?"


"Guess so."


"Anyone I know do this to you?"

She nodded.  "That awkward guy you saw in the cemetery."


"Your puppy dog was a vampire?"  He shook his head, his expression sour as if disgusted with himself for missing that.  "And you let him turn you?"  


She shrugged.  "I was having a bad day."  Then she looked over at him and grinned--it was so good to see him; he always made her feel better.


He grinned back, then seemed to be fighting the smile.  "That's no excuse."


"Probably not."  Although she seemed to remember it being the reason he'd given when she'd asked why he'd let Drusilla turn him.  "So, are you working with Angel?" she asked.


She could see the confusion in his eyes at her casual tone--he really had come here to kill her then...might still do it.  She couldn't decide if she was worried or not.  Emma would no doubt tell her that was a bad sign. 


"Well, yeah."


"How's that going?"


"Fine, he's annoying as ever and I--"  He sighed.  "I didn't come here to yammer on about the great poof, Christine.  This is not good.  You...being a vampire."


"I know.  Emma keeps telling me the same thing."




"My watcher."


"Oh."  He sounded relieved.  "So you keep in touch?"


She laughed.




"I sort of turned her."


"Sort of?"


"Okay, I did turn her.  But she was dying."


"Before or after you bit her?"


"Before.  Spike, I wouldn't have done it against her will."  She thought about that.  "Or if she hadn't invited me in...kind of and--"  She shook her head.  "It's really complicated."


"But she's a vampire now too?"


"Mmm hmmm."  She adjusted the cloth she'd tied over the lieutenant's wound. 


"So not much of an influence for good?"  His hand was reaching into his pocket again.




Spike whirled, seemed surprised to see Jim behind him.


"Jim, you remember Spike?"


"Sure.  How've you been?"  Jim looked over at her.  "I got the other vampire.   And I used the comm unit on the corner to call for help.  We should skedaddle before they get here."


"Right."  She pushed herself to her feet in one easy motion.   Grinning at Spike, she mimicked him, asking, "Fancy a drink, love?"  When he shot a startled look at the man she'd just patched up, she said, "Not him.  Scotch.  In a glass.  There's this bar we like."  She looked over at Jim. 


He didn't look terribly pleased that she was including Spike.  She noticed his hand moving up to rest on his hip, knew he could reach his stake easier that way.


"You didn't answer my question," he said to Spike, as he walked backwards, never taking his eyes off the other vampire.  "Did you come to make trouble?"


"Well, if by trouble you mean staking a woman I love, then yeah."  Spike was striding after him and seemed to be puffing up in a way she hadn't seen before.


"I have a problem with that," Jim said, letting his face change.


Spike turned to look at her.  "Anyone else you turned?  Spock maybe?"


"He's still not talking to us."  She made a nasty face.


"And your sire.  The geek king?  He'll be around shortly, I expect."


"Oh, no.  I staked him.  He was going to kill Jim, and I had some issues around that."  She winked at Jim, was happy to see him grin back, even if he still looked more than ready for a fight.


"We're not precisely evil," Jim said.


"And I'm not precisely blonde.  And neither makes a bit of difference."


"I think it does," Christine said.  "We could have just eaten that lieutenant.  I didn't have to bandage him up; Jim didn't have to call for help."


Spike seemed to consider that.    Then he looked at Jim.  "You're on record now.  It was stupid to use the comms.  They'll figure out who you are--or were."


"No, they won't.  Face changes"--Jim shifted into vamp mode--"voice changes."  He did sound slightly different.  Harsher, rougher.  "I tested it out just after I'd been turned.  Tried to access my bank account.  No dice.  Couldn't pass the retina scan either."


"Good to know." 


Christine let her face change.  "Do I sound different?"


Spike nodded.  "I guess I never thought much about it.  Drusilla pretty much sounded crazy no matter what face she wore.   But I do remember that about Darla's voice.  Smooth and breathy one minute, a perfect dock worker the next."  He shot Jim a look.  "And don't think for a moment that I'm distracted."


"Here we are," Christine said, as she led them into the bar.  Or tried to.  She walked in; they both hung back, neither willing to turn his back to the other to get through the narrow door.  Rolling her eyes, she walked back outside, pushed Jim in, then followed him, letting Spike bring up the rear. 


Their normal table in the darkest area of the bar was free.  She sat next to Jim, their backs to the wall, and let Spike sit across from them. 


"Glenfiddich," Jim ordered, when the waiter came up.  "All around."  He glared at Spike. "I presume you have no money?"


"You presume wrong, youngster."  Spike smiled.  "But the drinks are still on you."  He pulled out his cigarettes, drawing one from the pack, then putting it back on the table.


As he lit the cigarette, Christine played with the box, spinning it gently, the way she used to do, back when they'd been living together.


Jim's hand settled on hers, stopping the motion, nearly crushing the pack.


"Bugger that.  You can prove your point without ruining my smokes."  Spike pulled the pack out from under their hands.  "Any fool can see she's with you, mate."


"Call him Jim."


Jim glared at her.


"You remind me of someone I used to know.  Another military man.  Didn't like him."  Spike poked the cigarette in the air, the lit end punctuating his words.  "Don't like you."


"Feeling's mutual," Jim said. 

They sat in silence.  Spike puffing on his cigarette, Jim glaring at him. 


When the drinks came, she lifted her glass and said, "To happy reunions."


No one followed suit.


She was suddenly very happy to see Emma come in.  "Over here, Emma."


"I saw the commotion in the cemetery and figured you'd be here."  Emma stopped when she saw Spike.  "Well.  If it isn't a living legend."  She looked over at Christine, her expression a little mean.  "If we could just get Spock here, we'd have all your lovers in one room."


Spike looked at her with interest.  "You mean you and Christine are..."


Emma scowled at him.  "No, that's not what I mean.  Why does everyone think that's what I mean?"

"Well, you said 'all.'  I just assumed you meant..."


Jim was chuckling, finally seemed to relax.  "Sit down, Emma."  He gestured to the waiter for another round. 


"Do we have enough money?" Christine asked softly.  She liked this bar, didn't relish the idea of trying to drink and dash.


"That other vampire had lots.  I robbed him before I staked him."  Jim smiled softly.  "We can drink all night if we want."


"Oh, goodie."  Emma was in a mood.  She glared over at Christine.


"What is wrong with you?"


"Well, this."  She gestured toward Spike.  "He's no doubt come to kill us all."


"Actually, I just came to kill her.  I didn't about know you or Captain Cardboard."


"That's Admiral Cardboard, if you don't mind," Jim said.


"So why aren't you killing her?  Why are we sitting here drinking?"  Emma reached for her walking stick, which she'd leaned up against the table.


Christine grabbed it and let it fall to the floor between her chair and the wall.  "Because it's more fun to drink than to die."  She lifted her glass to Spike.  "Isn't it?"


"Well, I won't argue with that."  He tapped her glass with his own.  "Lots of things I could do with you that are more fun than dying."  Spike's eyes were tender, his smile the one she remembered from so many nights together.


"I'm not enjoying this," Jim muttered into his drink.


"Well, you could leave," Spike said, and again he seemed to be imitating a bantam rooster.


"Or I could just kill you."


"Boys."  Christine shot Jim her best sire-ish look.

He didn't look contrite.


"I still think it'd be funny if Spock showed up."  Emma took her glass of scotch off the tray before the server could set it down.  Draining it, she put the glass back.  "Another one.  I'm trying to catch up."


The waiter hurried away.


"So. You were her watcher?"  Spike gave her his best smile, the one that had charmed their old bat of a landlady.


"She's not buying it.  Are you, sis?"  Jim shot her his own version of the "charm the stars out of the sky" grin.


Emma appeared to be immune to both of them.  "Stop calling me that.  I'm not your blasted sister."


"Well, you sort of are."  Spike shook his head.  "It's all tangled.  Families always are.    Even vampire ones."


"Spike should know.  He works for his grandsire now," Christine said.


"Works with.  With.  Not for."  Spike lit another cigarette.  Seeing Emma eying the pack, he pushed it toward her.  "Go on.  You know you want one."


Christine's eyebrows rose in surprise as Emma reached for the pack.  Her watcher leaned in and let Spike light her cigarette, looking surprisingly femme fatale-y as she did it.


"If we're evil, we must be smokers?"  Jim pushed his chair back and crossed his arms over his chest.  "Enough of this.  Are we going to fight or not?"


Spike blew smoke out, and Emma mimicked him, the smoke mingling, curling up to the ceiling together. 


"We're having a moment here," Spike said, smiling at Emma in a way that Christine thought he reserved for her. 


She was surprised to feel a little jealous.  "Wouldn't want to disturb that," she muttered.


Jim suddenly looked much perkier, so she elbowed him hard in the arm.  He just laughed.


"So what are you going to do about me, Spike?" she asked.


He looked over at her.  "What should I do?"


She shrugged.  "Well, I am a vampire."


"Yes.  You are."  He winked at her.  "And a right nice looking one too.  Have I mentioned that yet?"


"No," Jim said.  "And please don't mention it again."


Spike ignored him.  "You've got no chip to keep you in line."  He frowned, looked thoughtful. 


Was he thinking of tracking down McCoy to get them all chips?  That would certainly take the fun out of their hunting. 


"And you don't have a soul anymore," he said.


"Soul's important?"  Jim was staring at him hard.  "Kodos had one.  So did Khan." 


"I know the routine," Spike said.  "Hitler had a soul and it didn't stop him from doing evil.  Likewise Pol Pot.  And Stalin.  It's a good argument.  Never got me anywhere with Buffy but..."


"We're still evil," Emma said, letting her eyebrow rise as they all turned to look at her.  "I mean by definition.  The watchers will kill us if they find out.  Just as any slayer will."


"But that's 'we' as a species, not 'we' as the three of us," Jim said. "Technically, this town is safer now.  Because of us.  We've taken out a lot of bad guys."


Spike stared at Jim appraisingly.  "So you think I should let you live?"


Jim's smile was dangerous.  "No, I think you should not make me kill you."


Spike's lip curled up.  His smile was an invitation.  "You could try, pretty boy."


"You're calling me 'pretty boy'?  Have you looked in an ensorcelled mirror lately?"


"You think he's attractive?" Christine asked, suddenly doing math equations in her head.  They all involved three.  Or maybe four.


"I didn't mean that."  Jim glared at her as Emma laughed mockingly and Spike just smirked.


"So getting back to the fighting thing," Christine said.  "What do you want to do, Spike?"


He waggled his eyebrows at her.  She laughed. 


Jim's hand landed on her knee and began to move up.  She laughed even more.


"Let me out, love," Spike said to Emma as he shoved his pack of cigarettes into his coat pocket.  "I've got to get back to L.A. before morning."


"We're not going to fight?"  Jim sounded seriously put out.


"Nope.  Sorry.  It's just as well.  I'd win."  Spike waited for Emma to slide her chair in so he could squeeze past her, then he walked over to Christine.  "I miss you, pet.  Life's dull without you."  Then he leaned down and kissed her. 


It was a great kiss.  She could feel Jim's hand clench down on the inside of her thigh, could tell he was reaching with his other hand for the stake.  She pushed Spike away gently, caught Jim's hand as it came up, forcing it back down.  It was easy; he wasn't fighting her--not with that hand anyway.  She squirmed slightly as his under-the-table attack intensified, and he smiled.


"Sire-whipped," Spike said with another smirk.


"I should be so lucky."  Jim didn't stop what he was doing to her, just looked up at Spike, his eyes calm, his smile mocking.  "Someday, we're going to fight."


"I know.  I can't wait."  Spike winked at Jim, then walked out.  All jaunty cockiness.

Christine noticed quite a few women--and men--watched him go.


"I really don't like him," Jim said.


"Can't imagine why not."  Emma sighed, leaning back.  "He didn't want to kill us--what kind of force for good is he?"


"Emma, we're not evil."  Christine was about to signal the waiter for another round when she took a good look at her two fledglings and thought better of it.  Booze was not going to improve either of their moods.  "Okay, we can hunt.  Or we can go home and have that terribly naughty sex you two keep talking about."


"Hunt," Emma said immediately.


It took Jim a little longer to agree.


Christine realized she was a bit disappointed.


As they left the bar, she dropped behind Jim and Emma, watching them as they walked together.  Emma turned to look at her, then stopped, waiting for Christine to catch up.


"Do you want to know why I chose hunting?"


"Because you don't want to have sex with us?"  Christine laughed.  "Or with me or maybe with Jim?"


She realized Jim had dropped back too, enough so he could hear them.


"That's not why."


Jim turned to look at her, and Emma smiled at him. 


"Then why?" Christine asked.


"You tell her," Emma said, looking over at Jim with a smile.


For a moment, he looked like he was going to walk away.  Then he grinned at Christine and said, "Not when it was him that got you all worked up.  We can get you interested all on our own."  Then he looked at Emma.  "If we want to."


"Which it's not clear we do."  She threw Christine a hard look.  "Well, Jim does.  That's obvious.  But me?  I'm not so sure."  


Feeling a bit ganged up on, Christine shrugged.  "Fine.  Don't have sex with me." 


She tried to stalk off, had a good pout going, when suddenly Emma grabbed her and pulled her into a strong hug.


"What was that for?" she asked as Emma let her go.


"I have no earthly idea," her watcher said, as she strode off.


"Does she want me or not?  I'm getting a little lost."


Jim didn't answer, just pulled her close and kissed her.  It was a great kiss, even better than Spike's.  Sighing happily, Christine opened her mouth, letting him in.


"You like me more than Spike."  The way he said it, it wasn't a question.


"Naturally.  You're you."  Grinning at his pleased expression, she took his hand and led him off into the night.




Kirk trailed after Emma, unsure where she was going but not liking the look on her face, or the way she plowed through the crowds of people roaming the pier.  Two young girls bumped up against her and Emma glared at them, then she turned slowly, panning the crowds as if she could feel him watching her.  Her gaze slipped by where he was standing, hidden in the shadows, and seemed to come to rest on an Andorian who was walking slowly, also searching the crowds.


Well, Tolvar was supposed to be psychic.  Nice to know he had some kind of vampire early warning system.


Kirk skirted the crowd, never leaving the shadows and worked his way around so he was closer to the Andorian's booth.  He wasn't sure why Emma had decided to look up her old friend--hoped it wasn't for dinner--and wasn't exactly sure how far he was ready to go to protect Tolvar.


"You're looking good," a voice purred in his ear.


He barely had to scent the air to get assailed by wolfy pheromones--they had no effect on him.  He glanced over at Lori and let his face change, pleased when she took what looked like an involuntary step back.  "Whereas you look just like you did." 


"You used to like how I look."


"That's true.  I don't think I ever much liked you though."


She moved closer, her face wary.  "Well, what chance did I have?  Once you had that nasty slayer to play with?" 


Reaching out tentatively, she stroked his arm, smiling in what he might have thought was an attempt at seduction if he hadn't understood pack behavior as well as he did.  That many teeth was conciliatory not sensuous.

Lori was afraid of him.  He liked that.   He snarled at her softly and laughed when she jerked back her hand.


Her eyes turned dark and he could feel her magic around him, ready to attack.  It felt odd to call on the things Weasel had taught him, felt even odder as they came flooding back, stronger than before--maybe being undead was good for the spell control?


Lori took another step back, and her smile faded entirely.  She hadn't been expecting magic from him?


Letting his face change back to human, he glanced over at Tolvar and Emma, saw that they were just talking.  Which was good, because Emma could have ripped Tolvar's throat open in the time Kirk had wasted playing alpha games with Lori. 


"Why are you here?" he asked.


"I wanted to offer my services."


He shot her a glance. 


"Not that kind.  Although...if you're interested in that."  Again the wolfy attractors flew.


He rolled his eyes.  "Not on my agenda for the millennia.  Sorry."


"There's no need to get nasty."  She looked to see what he was watching.  "Christine's having quite the time turning her friends.  It's not recommended, you know."


"Why's that?"


"Because people don't come back the same."


He smiled.  He'd been thinking about this a lot.  He felt the same.  Darker, stronger, not bound by everyday morals.  But still James T. Kirk.  "We're the same.  Some of us just hide who we really are more than others.  And once we're turned, the differences are more glaring."


"You don't think you've changed?"


He grinned, hoped it came out as vicious as he wanted it to.  "I didn't sleep with you then, I'm not going to sleep with you now.  I loved Chris then, I love her more now.  Let's see, Lori, do I think I changed?" 


"You're meaner."


"You think so?"  He saw Emma stand up.  "I have to go.  What kind of services were you offering me?"


"Basic survival.  You'll need a place to hide.  I can help with that."  She smiled, many teeth gleaming.  "And I could use you on my team.  There's a lot you don't know...about Nogura.  And others." 


"There's a lot I don't care about Nogura and whoever else you mean.  And we're doing fine on basic survival.  But thanks."  He started to walk away, then turned.  "Chris told me I owe you for my first meal.  It's why I'm not going to kill you.  But come near me or my family again, and I'll rip you apart limb from limb.  And I'll enjoy it."


Lori's smile died.  "Why?  What did I do?"


Kirk swallowed, remembering the night Chris was turned--the night he'd gone off with Lori when he should have been with the woman he loved.  "You distracted me at a crucial time.  It was my fault mainly.  That's another reason I'm letting you live.  But I mean it.  Come near me again, and I'll make you very, very sorry." 


When she didn't seem to be taking his warning completely on board, he snarled, his face changing as he lunged at her, throwing her up against the wall.  His mouth was at her neck, his teeth scraping her skin.  "For the record, I won't turn you.  I'll just kill you."


She had her mouth open as if to bite him the minute he let go, and he forced her chin up, shutting her teeth away from him.  He didn't think he could be turned into a wolf too but didn't feel like taking any chances.  Plus it was fun to intimidate her.


"Do we understand each other, Admiral?"  He wasn't sure why he was reverting to titles.  But it felt good.  Put them on some other level besides supernatural.  Maybe he just wanted her to know that even if he weren't capable of ripping her head off, he'd still oppose her.


"We do."


He let her go, strode away without looking back, knowing that was the biggest insult he could give her.  As if she was so little threat, he didn't have to take care.


As he emerged from the shadows, Emma joined him from the other side of the pier.  "I knew you were following me." 


He'd have to work on his stealthiness.  "Wasn't sure what you were up to."


"Tolvar's well connected to the grapevine--he is the grapevine a lot of the time.  I didn't want him hearing about us second hand.  I think he will protect us.  Now that he understands how things are."


"How things are?"  He looked back at the Andorian, saw that Tolvar was watching him, his expression somewhere between concern and puzzlement.  "That we're not evil?  Or not completely?"


Nodding, Emma glanced over at Lori.  She let her upper lip curl, exposing her teeth.  Somehow it was as threatening an expression as if she'd been in vampire mode.


Lori shrank back into the shadows.


"Not that I don't appreciate the solidarity, but why did you do that?" Kirk asked.

Emma smiled, taking his arm as they walked.  "I know her kind.  She'll try me next.  I just wanted to put her on notice that I'm not interested in whatever she has to offer." 


They walked in silence for a while, then she said.  "Are you hungry?"




"I know a place."  She led him down past the piers, back into town, to the park.


"Emma.  This isn't the place to hunt."  He stopped walking, studied her.  "Normal people, just going about their lives--we can't hunt them."


Rolling her eyes, she grabbed his arm.  "Would you see what I've found before you reach for that not-so-well-hidden stake?"


He frowned, touching his back to make sure the stake was still securely stuck into the scabbard he'd made.


She tugged at him.  "It's just up ahead." 


They moved like darkness itself.  No sound, no breath, no heartbeat, just walking death--provided Emma wasn't leading him to a bunch of kids making out.  He heard voices up ahead.  Scenting the air, he could tell whoever they were after was using Norissan--the telltale smell of the vapor was clear to his vampire senses even if a human wouldn't have smelled it on the strong breeze that had blown in from the bay.


"They moved here," Emma said, "when their normal haunts became too dangerous thanks to you and Christine."  Emma stalked through the bushes as if she was part jungle cat.  She looked over at him.  "They sell Norissan.  You know what it does?"


He nodded.  Norissan was instantly addictive and eased the judgment centers, making an addict very susceptible to instruction.  The Orion syndicate was famous for using it on their slave girls.  It made the normally vicious women very...pliable.  Going off it too quickly could make a person crazy.  He remembered Marta--she'd probably been a victim of that.  He could imagine some well meaning fleeter taking her out of whatever nasty situation she'd been in and inadvertently causing her to go insane.


Kirk didn't like the idea of someone selling Norissan in his backyard.  He glanced over at Emma, could see that she'd known it would bother him.  Her smile was a little bit cruel.


"You know how to play me."


"I do."  Her smile shifted, showed some affection.  "I always could have...it's just, those filters you referred to.  I think you're right.  They're gone.  I like...spinning your head."  She shrugged.  "But was I wrong?  Aren't these exactly the types you and Christine take out?"  She leaned in closer, her lips on his ear.  He could feel the coolness of her skin as she said, "Won't we make the world a better place by draining them?"


"We will."  He turned to look at her.  "Are you trying to seduce me?"


Her smile was instantaneous.  "I'm not sure.  Is it working?"


"Little bit."


"Hmm."  She looked pleased.  "It's all very...confusing."  She didn't look confused.


"Let's get dinner."


"Right.  Business before pleasure."  Her eyes gleamed.  Literally--she'd changed into vamp mode.


"There will be no pleasure without Chris.  Got that, Emma?"


This time, he couldn't read her smile.  He decided not to try to figure it out, just followed her in as they decimated the gang of punks who'd thought moving to a more upscale neighborhood was a good idea.


She surveyed the five bodies.  "I hate digging.  It ruins my nails."


"If you think I'm going to do all the work here, you're wrong.  You're as strong as I am."


"Very possibly stronger."  She looked over at him, grinning in a way that he had a feeling she'd copied from him.  Bending down, she started to dig under a group of trees, where few humans would go. 


He frowned.  Some dog would smell the bodies.  Or a wild animal would dig them up.  They needed some way to dispose of them.  Some better way.


Weasel had shown him how to make fire.  He'd only ever been able to conjure small flames, but the way his magic had flared tonight with Lori gave him an idea.


"Emma, move back."


She looked over at him.  "Why?"


"Just do as I say.  For once?"  It was hard to be the alpha male with his women.


She backed away.


Closing his eyes, he began to dredge up memories.  Campfires on trips with his father before he'd died, playing with fire with his brother--forbidden of course--and bonfires on the beach during parties at the Academy. 


He peeked; a tiny flame was building in front of his hands.  He needed more, more intensity.


He remembered Tarsus IV, could smell the fires from the bodies being burned after Kodos's massacre.  Yes, this was what he needed.  Memories so intense he could feel his mind shying away.  He forced himself to recall more: the flickering flames, the crowds of Federation reps and Starfleet officers, the stench of burning bodies.  It had been the way to treat the departed on Tarsus IV.  Burn the dead.

He turned it into a mantra.  Burn the dead.  Burn the dead.  Burn the dead. 


"Jim," Emma's voice was low and a bit scared.  Fire was not their friend anymore.


Opening his eyes, he saw flames roaring up from his hands.  They didn't touch him, didn't even feel hot to him.  He looked at the corpses.  They'd have to burn hot, burn fast.  He needed more.


He closed his eyes again.  Remembered the flames of Spock's firepot.  Imagined the torches flickering in the cave Spock must be living in now, in some place named Gol.  A place of no emotion.  A place where emotion was burned away.  Where Kirk was burned away.  By his best damn friend. 


Those letters Spock had sent--Kirk was here, now, having to worry about getting rid of bodies in part because of Spock's letters.  He'd nearly lost Chris because of Spock.  She'd nearly been destroyed.  Because of her lover, because of his friend.  Anger--there had been anger and cruelty buried in those messages from Gol.  Fire disguised as logic, intended to burn down everything good in their lives.


"Jim?"  Emma sounded really scared now.


He opened his eyes again.  The fire blazed.  "Damn you, Spock," he said, as he sent the fire out.  "Damn you for this."   As the bodies were consumed quickly by the magical fire--fire that left everything else alone--he added in a whisper.  "Damn me."


Emma moved closer to him.  For once, she wasn't playing.  Her eyes were full of compassion--and a little bit of fear.  "Let's find Christine, Jim." 

When he didn't move, she took his arm again.  "Let's go home."


He let her lead him away from his memories, the smell of fire lingering in his head long after they'd left the park.




Christine sat in the motel room, studying the ring that would call the portal to Kirsu.


"You know how to use that thing?" Weasel asked as he finished making the bed.


She slipped the ring back on her finger.  "It's just a piece of jewelry."


"Right.  And you need a magically shielded room because you want to polish it in peace."


She shot him a look.  The one that generally made Emma and Jim behave.


"That doesn't scare me.  Not here.  Not on my turf."  He smiled at her, but she could feel his power buffeting at her.  Not threatening, but not exactly friendly either.


"Okay, maybe it does do something," she said.


He chuckled as he emptied the trash.


"Don't you hire help for that?"


"I used to.  But they all run off.  Either because they're scared or because they find a hot guest and leave with him or her.  Or it."  He grinned.  "Are we having a conversation here, toots?"


"No."  She found herself smiling too.


"My mistake."  He sat down next to her, holding his hand out. 


She handed him the ring, not even questioning that it was a good idea.  Jim trusted him--that was good enough for her. 


He studied it for a moment, then glanced over at her.  "Jim know you're here?"


She nodded, but could tell he wasn't buying the lie.  "Well, he knows that I'm planning to come here...someday."


"He wouldn't like it that you're here now, I take it?"


"Probably not."


"Are you meeting an illicit lover or planning to betray Jim?"




He nodded.  "Okay then, use the room as long as you need it." 


As he got up, she touched his arm.


"My ring?"


"Oh.  Right."  He handed it back to her.  "This is powerful." 


"I know that.  I just have to figure out how to harness that power."


"Force of will generally does the trick.  Or a really good imagination--just picture what you want to happen and maybe it will." 




"I know you've got something else tucked into your shirt."  He reached over, touching where she'd hung the amulet that Spike had given her.  "This is even more powerful."


"Do you know what it is?"


"Nope.  Don't you?"


"Not exactly."


He shook his head.  "Never a good idea to walk around with something that powerful if you don't know what it does.  Not safe to keep it around."


"I know."


"And I'm guessing that's why you want the room.  I'll stop with the neighborly advice."  Smiling, Weasel walked to the door, then turned to look at her, the smile fading.  "Tolvar told me you turned your watcher too."


His voice dropped, took on a warning tone.  She didn't like it.  Slowly tilting her head, she studied him as if he was destined to be her next meal.


"I told you, that doesn't scare me."  He shook his head.  "How many others are you planning on taking with you, Christine?"


"You don't approve?"


"You turned my apprentice into an undead fiend.  Call me crazy, but I have some issues with that."


She smiled.  "You're a good friend, Weasel."


"You didn't answer my question.  How many more?"


"I think I'm done.  Two kids is plenty."  She turned away, trying to signal him to let it go.


"I hope you mean that."  He pulled the door shut with a bit more energy than was necessary. 


Sighing, she stroked the ring.  It was too late to feel bad about Jim and Emma.  They were what they were.  They were what she was.  End of story.


Closing her eyes, she pictured the portal that Laura had called up.  Saw it forming, heard the noise, felt the crackle of energy.  A small wind came up in the room, followed by the noise of the portal forming.  Opening her eyes, she let the portal grow and hang in the room.  Then she let it close back up.


Smiling, she stroked the ring again, imagined the portal and felt the wind.  She made the portal grow big, then let it die again.


She did it again, and again.  And again.


The sixth time, another portal popped open, and LaVelle jumped out.  "What the hell do you think you're doing?"


"Am I giving Marion conniptions?"  Christine grinned.  She lived to tick LaVelle off.




Reaching up under her hair, Christine unhooked her necklace and pulled it off, dragging the amulet out from under her shirt.  Letting it fall off the chain into her hand, she held it for a moment.  Then she tossed it to LaVelle.


"What's this?"


"Don't know.  Something to do with Kirsu.  I'm sure it hasn't escaped your keen powers of observation that the stone is the same as the ones in the rings."


LaVelle glared at her. "Where did you get this?"


"A friend found it." 


"What am I supposed to do with it?"


Christine shrugged.  "Take it back to Kirsu.  I'm sure Marion can figure out something."


"I'm surprised you didn't just bring it to Kirsu yourself."  LaVelle leaned up against the dresser. 


"Yeah, about that..."  Christine tossed her the ring too.  "My having this is a liability right now."


LaVelle stared at her, then slipped the ring on her finger.  "So you'll want it back later?"


Christine nodded.


There was a long silence as LaVelle just stared at her.  Finally, she said, "How much later?"


"I don't know.  Just later."


"Oh."  LaVelle pulled out a stake.  "Later--when you're not a vampire--later?"


Christine was on her feet.  "Well, yeah."  She moved so she had room to kick out without getting tangled in the bedspread.  "I take it that's a problem for you?  My being a vampire?"


"Yes.  It is."   LaVelle seemed to be waiting for her to attack.  When Christine didn't do more than get into a defensive position, she frowned.  "What's wrong with you?"


"With me?  I'm not the 'all slayer, all the time' gal here.   I was just doing you a favor and returning something that belonged to you."


LaVelle sighed loudly.  A sound of frustration.  "Why?  Why did you do that?"  She studied the amulet again.  "There are people who might want this, Christine.  You could have sold it for a lot of money."


"Damn!  You're right.  Give it back and I'll do that."  Christine rolled her eyes.  "I'm a slayer."


"You're a vampire."


"Who was a slayer.  Okay.  Little bit different, I'll admit."


"You kill people."


"So do you."


"I kill vampires."  LaVelle's mouth was set in her customary twist of annoyance.


"Well, we're people too, you know."  Grinning, she backed up.  "You going to slay me?"


"I should."  LaVelle smiled--or tried to.  It was a terrible attempt, probably because she was too busy throwing the stake. 


It came flying, end over end toward Christine.  A perfect throw--one that should have hit her in the chest and burrowed deep.  If Christine hadn't caught it, stopping it before it could hit her.


"Damn."  LaVelle's smile was real.  "That was impressive."


"Thank you.  It's additive, in case you were wondering.  Slayer plus vampire.  I'm very, very strong."


"So I don't want to fight you?"  LaVelle looked as if the thought was even more appealing now.


"Probably not."


"Hmmm."  Exhaling slowly, LaVelle pushed herself up on the dresser, and sat, legs dangling, studying Christine.  "So...how did this happen?"


"I had a bad day."


The excuse didn't work any better with LaVelle than it had with Spike. 


"A really bad day?"  Christine grinned.  "Okay, so I gave up. For a moment.  A rather crucial, vampire had his teeth in my neck, moment.  Not a good time for me."


"And now?  Now is?"


Christine thought about that.  "Well, yeah.  It kind of is."


LaVelle frowned.  "Explain."


"I was sort of...tortured as a slayer."


"Maybe because you ran.  And hid."  LaVelle's glare was a real one.  She'd never gotten to run or hide.  She'd been fighting all her life while Christine had been pretending to be a mild-mannered nurse.  "Maybe if you'd ever faced what you were.  And what you'd done."


"Wow, look at you getting all insightful."  Christine sat down in a chair by the door and crossed her legs.  "I was facing it.  But things weren't going very well for me and..."


LaVelle yawned, and Christine couldn't tell if it was real or put on.


"Am I boring you?"


"Yes.  You are."  LaVelle stood up.  "You were a slayer.  We don't give up."


"Okay.  Bad judgment call on my part."


LaVelle pulled another stake out of her pants.  "If I see you again, I'll kill you."


Christine rolled her eyes.  "What part of 'I'm very, very strong' didn't compute?"


LaVelle ignored her and jammed the amulet into her pocket.  "Thanks for this.  And for giving the ring back.  Marion's going to be really sad that you've joined the other side."


"I haven't joined the other side.  I'm just a little sunlight-challenged is all."


"Right.  You're good at self-delusion, Christine.  I'll give you that."  LaVelle rubbed her ring. 


A portal opened instantly.


"Take care of yourself, LaVelle. And of the slayers."


"Don't give me any new ones, Christine.  I'll never forgive you for that."


"I'm trying not to.  I'm trying to lay low."


"Try lying out in the sun.  It'd be a faster way to destroy yourself."  LaVelle shook her head, disappointment clear.  Then she stepped into the portal and was gone.


"Nice to see you too," Christine called after her, trying not to feel the sting of LaVelle's words. 

But she did.  Which was stupid.  LaVelle hadn't liked her when she was a slayer, why would she like her now that she'd become the eternal enemy?


She pushed LaVelle's stake into her pocket, feeling surprisingly sentimental about it.  Just a piece of wood--a piece of wood that was supposed to kill her.  But it made her happy to have it, and she knew she'd be using it in her next hunt.


Locking the room up, she found Weasel in the office, watching the news.


"Everything okay?" he said, not taking his eyes off the vid.


"Yep."  She wandered around the office, looking at the information display, bringing up ads for San Francisco attractions.


"Going sightseeing?" he asked under his breath. 


She sighed, turning to him.  "All this disapproval is not doing much for my 'trying not to be evil' resolution."


He turned to her.  "Then go be evil.  You're a vampire now.  Go enjoy the life."


She looked down.


"Man.  You can make even being the evil undead an angst fest.  You are a piece of work."


She turned to go.


"Hey.  I'm not saying it's not endearing.  I admire your desire to be good.  I really do.  I just wish you didn't have to worry about it.  I wish you were still human."


Looking up at him, she let her face change.  "I'm not."  Her words came out practically as a snarl.


"Yeah.  I know."  He waved her away.  "Mac's waiting for you.  Better git on home."


She let her face change back.  "Thanks for the room."


"No problem, toots."


She didn't even bother to glare at him as she left.   Muttering to herself as she walked back to the apartment, she passed two punk kids who began to follow her, making lewd comments.


Whirling on them, she let her face change into something far scarier than they could ever be.

They ran.


"Try and do something nice for someone...all I get is grief."  She let her face change back as she hurried home.


Jim took one look at her and grabbed his coat.  "Let's hunt."


"Don't want to hunt."


Emma looked up from the couch.  "What do you want to do?"


"Be human," Christine said. 


"Hmm.  Little late for that, love."  Jim pulled her close, kissing her gently.


"Where were you, Christine?"  Emma walked toward them, her eyes narrowing.


"Nowhere.  Everywhere.  Somewhere I probably shouldn't have been."


"That's very poetic, sweetheart."  Jim smiled at her.  "Also not exactly honest.  I can smell the motel on you.  Weasel's air freshener is pretty distinctive."    


"I had to give the ring back."

The light dawned in Jim's eyes.  "Ah.  The two of them gang up on you?"


Emma frowned, clearly not understanding.  Jim looked like he enjoyed that she didn't.


"They were mean."  Christine pouted.  It felt good to sulk.


"Poor Chris."  Jim pushed her back against the wall, nuzzling her neck.   Then he bit down, the pain surprising her. 


She moaned as he drank briefly, then he pulled away. 


Emma moved forward slowly, her eyes changing to yellow slightly ahead of her face's transformation.  "You're not going to tell me what you two are talking about, are you?"  She got very close to Christine, scenting her, then she too bit down, in nearly the same place Jim had.


The pain was exquisite.


She drank for quite a bit longer.  When she pulled away, she licked her lips, smiling dreamily.  "That was interesting."


Christine felt a surge of anger at both of them and tried to knock them away, but Jim caught her hand and pulled it to his mouth, biting down on her inner arm. 


She groaned, then jerked Emma to her, finding her neck, teeth turning into fangs as she buried them in Emma's flesh.  The blood roared into her, clearing her head, making her strong again.


Damn LaVelle.  And damn Weasel. 


Emma stroked her hair as Christine drank.  Then she began to whimper--Christine was taking so much.  Jim moved closer to them, never letting go of Christine's arm, and raised his free hand to Emma's lips.


She bit into his arm frantically, drinking in loud gulps.


Christine finally let her go, pulling Jim closer and making him let go of her arm.  She kissed him slowly, passionately.  Then she turned to Emma and gently pulled her away from Jim's arm.


Emma looked up at her.  There was something missing in her expression, and Christine realized it was the mockery she'd seemed to wear ever since she'd been turned. 


"We hunt.  Or we stay in.  Together.  Which is it, Emma?"


Jim turned to look at Emma.  He didn't seem to care one way or the other, turned back to nuzzling Christine's neck.


When Emma didn't answer, Christine pulled Jim closer.  "Fine.  You hunt.  We'll stay in."  They kissed, long and hard, and she pushed him against the wall, grinding against him.


He moaned.  Then he moaned again when Emma began to touch them both. 


"I don't want to hunt," she murmured, as she kissed Christine's neck.


Jim let her go, turned to look at Emma but made no move toward her.  He seemed to be content to let Christine take the lead in this.


"I...I don't want to watch," Emma said softly.


"I didn't say you could watch."  Christine smiled, knew the expression was mean.  Then she pulled Emma to her and kissed her. 


And Emma kissed her back.


She was a very good kisser.


Christine turned to Jim, smiling.  "You're going to like this."


For the first time since she'd gotten back, she saw the light come into his eyes.  He grinned.  "Yes?"


She kissed Emma again.


And moaned--Emma was an exceptionally good kisser.


"Oh, yes," she said, pulling them with her to the bed.


As they pulled off each other's clothes and tangled together on the bed, Christine discovered that Emma was good at more than just kissing. 


They ended up cuddled together, Jim on one side, Emma on the other.  Their hands clasped over hers, and she smiled. 


"I love you both," she whispered.


"Selfish child," Emma said gently, as she kissed her.


Jim nestled in closer.  "I love you Chris.  I'd follow you into hell.  Human, vampire, it makes no difference.  Believe that."


"I do believe that, Jim."  She closed her eyes, letting their bodies anchor her as she drifted off into sleep.




"There's something coming, Mac.  I can feel it."  Weasel looked up from the herbs he was crushing.  "Can you feel it?"

Kirk nodded.  Then he yawned.  He was truly weary.  Loving Chris could be tiring. Loving her and a heavy-worlder all night, that had been truly exhausting.  But fun.  A lot more fun than he'd expected.


"Late night, Mac?" 


"None of your business."  Then Kirk looked over at his teacher.  "You going to mention that Chris was here yesterday?"


"Nope."  Weasel grinned at him, holding his hands out for the crystals Kirk was cleaning.  "Do I need to?"


"Guess not."  Handing him the stones, he paced.  "She's hurting."


"No, my friend.  She's wallowing.  I think that's what she does best."


Resisting an urge to knock Weasel across the room, Kirk said, "You don't know her."


"She was a slayer who let a vampire turn her.  Let.  Not was forced.  Not was killed and then turned.  Let him turn her."  Weasel's face was set into hard lines.  "She turned you.  She turned her watcher.  And now she feels bad?  Now she wants a big do-over?  I'm having trouble assembling a float for her pity parade."


"I think it's just delayed reaction.  To the reality of the situation."  Kirk picked up one of the wands lining the top of the chest.  He could feel the power in the copper strip, could feel the crystal on top pulsing. 


"Or she's slipping into darkness."  Weasel shot him a look.  "Slayers are dark to begin with, Jim.  And this one..."


Kirk remembered Alma's words to him when they'd first met.  She'd thought Chris was dangerous.  On the ledge.


Sighing, Kirk put the wand back.  Last night, he'd thought Chris had been on the ledge.  It had scared him to hear her say she wanted to be human.  She'd sounded so lost.  He hadn't been sure what she might do.  So he'd distracted her.  With pain, with himself, and finally with Emma when she'd joined in, as he'd known she would.  They'd given Chris something new, something to hold on.


He didn't think either of them had particularly wanted crazy threesome sex.  But he thought they wanted to be alone, without their sire, even less.  Emma understood Chris at least as well as he did, and she was trained to see the signs of mental breakdown.  Of emotional surrender.  Of a lost soul.


Or non-soul.


He forced his mind off Chris--she'd seemed fine when he'd left her with Emma.  "So what is this thing that we both feel is coming?"


"Not sure.  Something big.  Something dark."  Weasel frowned.  "And it doesn't feel...alive exactly."


Kirk closed his eyes, tried to get a feel for whatever it was.  Right now, it was just a slight pulse in the back of his mind.  An awareness of something with no true knowledge of it.  It was as if he'd somehow tuned in on a distress call--but one meant for somebody else.  "It's coming this way," he said, unsure how he could tell direction but certain he was right.


"I hope to hell not.  It doesn't 'feel' friendly."


"No.  It doesn't."  Kirk met his eyes.  "There was a time when something coming meant I could expect to be sent out to discover what it was--and what it wanted."  He grimaced.  "Back in the day when a pretty sunrise wouldn't mean ashes-of-captain on a landing party."


"You still miss your ship, Mac?"


"I do.  I think I always will."  He sighed.  He missed his ship, his friends, his life.  He almost wished he could blame Chris for taking those things away, but he'd done it to himself long before she'd turned him.  He'd accepted promotion, accepted them pulling him off his ship and shoving him behind a desk.  If he was dead--if he had no life--it was his own damn fault.


"Well, maybe if your girlfriend hadn't--"  Weasel looked down--at Kirk's hand circling his wrist just hard enough to cause pain. 


"You need to lay off.  Leave Chris alone."  Kirk squeezed a little harder. 


"Or you'll what?"  Weasel met his eyes, his expression even.


Kirk's hand suddenly felt very, very hot.


"Let go, Mac.  Or flames are next."  Weasel smiled tightly.  "And I know how you vamps love fire."


"Hey, I forgot to tell you.  I made fire the other night."  Kirk laughed at Weasel's expression, letting go of him and moving closer in his excitement to tell him what he'd done.  "I needed to get rid of some corpses.  So I made fire.  And it was hot enough to burn just them...and really fast." 


Weasel frowned.  "You weren't strong enough to do that before.  Or skilled enough, anyway."


"I know.  I think being a vampire helps the magic."


"Well, that's disturbing."  Weasel handed him the bowl of herbs.  "You grind these.  You're the one with super strength."


Kirk made short work of the roots, crushing them down, then adding the leaves to it and turning them into powder too.  "I'm glad I can still do this."  He snuck a look at Weasel.  "Are you?"


"That remains to be seen, Mac."  Weasel took the bowl from him.  "I'm sure all my friends in the mage brigade are snickering at me for letting you continue these lessons."


"There's a mage brigade?  You never told me that.  Are the dues hefty?"  Kirk grinned, glad that he and Weasel could still joke--that they still had this strange relationship. 


Weasel gave him something Chris couldn't.  Not now and not before either.  Learning to work magic meant Kirk had some purpose, some aspect of normalcy, even if everything about his teacher and the magic resided in the abnormal side to the spectrum.


"So, what are your plans?"  Weasel took a sip of the coffee he'd brought down with him from the office.  "You going to stay in San Francisco?"


"Why?  Will you miss me if I go?"  Grinning, Kirk said, "I can't see going anywhere else.  This is home."   As much as any place that wasn't space could be home.


"I hear you." 


"So will you tell me how you irritated the powers that be?  Why you're stuck in this hotel?"


"You really want to know?"


Kirk nodded.


"Okay.  But later.  We have work to do right now."


Kirk smiled.  Chris wasn't expecting him back before sunrise.  He thought that she and Emma might be working out their part of this new relationship they all had going--which meant establishing their own dynamic, both in and out of a bed that was suddenly too small.  Kirk smiled.  He fully intended to continue his own bilateral arrangement with Chris--wasn't sure yet whether he wanted to do that with Emma.  He found her interesting.  Attractive too.  But he wasn't drawn to her, and wasn't sure he should be.  Not that way.  He was with her because she was with Chris.  He didn't think he wanted to make any more of it than that.


"Mac?  I don't know what you're thinking about, but it's obviously much more riveting than magic.  What say you pay attention to me?"


Kirk laughed and forced his mind off his vampire lovers and onto the less confusing task of learning magic.  He'd figure out how he was going to relate to Emma later.  For now, he would just ride the current they were on and let Chris take the lead. 


And he'd watch Chris, but he wasn't going to make trouble where there wasn't any.  She tended to dive into the deep end of the angst pool.  More often than he liked, but was he in any position to throw stones at someone for that?  After all, he could wallow with the best of them.


But enough wallowing.  Everything would work out the way it was supposed to. 

Everything always did.