~ Gray Line ~
by Windstar and Zee

Disclaimer: The story and characters belong to the authors no you may not take any part of it and post, copy or borrow without their consent. This story has blood, guts and sex. For those of you still with us have a fun read and Happy Halloween.

Thank you to Fia for her work beta reading this (https://www.facebook.com/samilone).

Send us a word if you enjoy reading it: Adarkbow@yahoo.com and zeeamy@gmail.com

The bathroom door opened and a head peeked around the door looking around. Finding the bathroom empty, the head moved further in followed by a female body that looked recently abused, if the torn and bloody clothes were any indication.

Dark, curly hair that just brushed the collar of the jacket she was wearing was matted with dirt, one of the jacket pockets was torn off, and her knuckles were bruised and split open. She walked up to the sink and studied her face for a moment before snorting and clearing her throat until she spat out a wad of blood and phlegm into the sink.

Shaky hands started the tap and with a wince, she ran her hands under the water. She kept looking up at her reflection, checking herself. Finally, she spoke to her reflection.

"I hate you."

Her reflection didn't talk back.

She could do this. She splashed water on her face, finding the cool water soothing on her skin.

She turned off the water and then moved into a stall and sat on the toilet seat. The stall was tiny, her knees practically touching the door. Her dark-brown eyes closed and she let out a breath and leaned sideways letting her face rest against the tile, trying not to think of what germs and filth might be there.

She could do this, she could resist it and somehow she would just get her old life back. She missed being a nobody, a mousy little librarian. Actually she didn't even have enough chutzpah to be a librarian; she was just a research assistant. Meek and mild Lauren Espinoza, going through life unnoticed. Never had the guts to tell off the guy who delivered the papers to the library, even though he leered at her and undressed her with his eyes everyday. Never took her drink back to the coffee counter when they made it wrong. Somewhere in the Bible it said the meek would inherit the Earth, but she couldn't see how, because they'd never speak up when their aggressive overachieving older sister stole it.

She sighed and felt the trembling start in her hands. God forgive her but she hated Susie, her older sister, perfect in every way. Susie, who wasn't a research assistant but a lead scientist in a government think tank. Susie, who was beautiful, smart, and self-assured.

Susie, who was dead, and had taken her secrets with her. Susie, who had changed her into a person she didn't even recognize.

The bathroom door opened and someone stepped inside, footsteps heavy on the tile floor.

Lauren felt the hairs rise on the back of her arms and neck, followed by pain exploding from the back of her skull, as her stomach did a flip.

She gave a shuddering sob; a hand fumbled with the good pocket on her jacket and pulled out a slim case; with a practiced flick of her thumb, the case opened revealing a small vial filled with something dark and oily, and a syringe.

The footsteps got closer, as she stabbed the needle into the liquid and pulled the syringe's plunger back, filling its belly like a large mosquito.

Her door rattled.

"Occupied." She grunted out.

Once upon a time she'd been a decent human being, paid her bills and taxes, secretly read lesbian romance novels that she hid under her bed because she still lived with her parents, and dreamed of falling in love.

Now she was a twisted parody of that Lauren. Jaded and miserable, a misanthrope one-step out of touch with the human world. She pushed the jacket sleeve up, revealing a needle-track along the vein.

The door rattled again.

"What are you, brain-damaged? I said fucking occupied." The old Lauren would never have spoken like that. The needle rested against her skin.

Something heavy hit the stall door, the metal dented and groaned on its hinges.

Startled, she nearly dropped the syringe.

"I can smell you human." The voice that spoke was high and piercing, not meant to be heard by human ears. "Demon killer." It laughed. "A human demon killer, funny, a funny, funny thing. Lucky is what you are. Lucky and stupid. Your luck ends here."

Lauren screamed--the voice was painful, it felt like it was rupturing things inside her head, in her ears. She pushed the plunger down, shooting the darkness inside her, inside her veins. In a second it was hitting her heart and she screamed again.

Bonelessly her body slumped to the side, even as something heavy hit the door again. The hypodermic fell out of her arm and hit the floor shattering. A drop of blood beaded up, welling out of the puncture mark.

Hands gripped the door at the top and then pulled; the lock groaned. The hands switched position and pushed, the top of the door bent and swayed until the screws on the lock gave up and it fell off.

Chuckling filled the bathroom and the door was slowly pushed open.

Lauren's eyes snapped open and she lifted her foot, kicking the door shut. Her eyes were dark, the pupils swallowed in the darkness. Her skin bubbled and then went still before rippling again.

She grabbed the sides of the stall, fingers sinking into the metal, and hauled herself up and over the wall surprising the pissed-off demon there to kill her.

It blinked as if not quite believing what it was seeing.

In her world humans didn't fight demons, the human race was too weak, only able to overwhelm demons and destroy them with sheer numbers. To kill one demon it could take the lives of hundreds, if not thousands of humans to do it. This would explain why the human species bred like rabbits.

The church had in the Middle Ages started a breeding program where they used young women as bait. Then they raised the half-breed demons to be demon hunters. It sounded barbaric but what did you expect from a period of time where women were property? Of course there were a few demons that could impregnate only in human males, but the church had apparently chosen not to use them as bait. On occasion a full-blooded demon would find God or Jesus and be a born-again and hunt their own kind, but generally humans could not stand up to a demon in a one-on-one fight.

Until Susie had used her as bait, just as the church had done to those women all those decades ago. Of course, now Susie was dead, as well as their parents.

She was suddenly so angry. She couldn't stop herself. She charged the demon, angry with Susie and the demon, the stupid demon that seemed to think she wasn't a threat. She screamed, rage pouring out of her as her fists pounded into its thick skin; it was gray and wrinkled, like an elephant's knee. She didn't know where that thought had come from and she almost laughed at the oddness of it.

She staggered out of the bathroom, a cut healing on her forehead. She absently patted her pocket reassuring herself that the vial was there. Her drug of choice. She squinted against the fluorescent lights as she moved slowly down an aisle stocked with shampoo and deodorant. There was an uneasy feeling in the department store. The hairs on the back of her arms stood up as a body was suddenly in front of her. A gun in her face.

"Stand down, it's just a civilian." The voice boomed around her. Annoying.

"You need to leave, there's a demon in here. These nice police officers will get you to safety."

She glared at him. He was a born-again demon. She could see the cross, worn against a pale, scaled chest. Self-importance wafted off of him making her want to gag. A sanctimonious piece of shit. Demons killed. Demons feasted on the flesh and blood of the weak. How did he resist? Did he resist? Or late at night did he go trolling back alleys for the blood and murder of those that would not be missed?

But she let the police take her away to safety. Back on the street she looked around at everyone streaming around her, going home, going to work, oblivious to the horror taking place not twenty feet from them. She missed it. She wanted to be them, be the mindless sheep happy in ignorance.


A small ranch-style house, painted a happy sunshine yellow, had several police cruisers in the driveway and on the street in front of the house. Several local police officers walked around the lawn and in and out of the house.

It was a quiet neighborhood; there had never been a demon attack before, and some of the neighbors just shook their heads or stared confused at the bustling house full of police activity, not quite sure what this meant. Some thought about buying guns, others about finding religion and others ignored it focusing deeper on their everyday lives so they wouldn't have to think about it.

Detective Quinn stood back watching the crime scene unit examine the bodies. There were three total. The male had been lucky in comparison to the two females. He had died from two stab wounds to the skull. The spine had been severed and the brain turned into goop. The females, however, had been mauled, and the skin from their faces removed as well as their hearts. Quinn was waiting for CSI to tell her what she already knew: it was demon. What she didn't understand was who had killed the demon that was face down in the front lawn. Or that would be, if his head hadn't been twisted around so his face stared at the sky.

Multiple demons?

She might buy that if her dead demon had claws but he didn't, so she was still looking for one that had claws. Different breeds of demons weren't known for working well with each other. She rubbed her forehead. She was going to have to bring in a half-breed to sniff it out.

She flat-out refused to work with reformed demons. Sooner or later they all fell off the wagon. Half-breeds weren't much better in her book, but there was a part of them that was human, so she tried to give them a chance. Besides if she took on a demon by herself, slinking around in the shitholes and psychic black holes they loved to live in, her chances of coming out alive were far less than a half-breed's.

Demons, just another reason to hate Hitler.

Up until World War II demons had only been seen once a year according to history, squeezing through cracks between this world and Hell. But Hitler and his fascination with the occult, and his little secret army of occult researchers had opened up huge doorways, as he had hoped to win the war with an army of demons on his side. The psychically-black smeared sites of his concentration camps had been perfect doorways. Only demons didn't care. They killed Nazis and Allied forces alike. Quinn sighed unhappily, fucking Hitler.

"You've got three different types of demon blood. I can't tell you what kind until I get the samples back to the lab. Also, one of the women's fingerprints came back. She's government, Susan Espinoza."

Quinn blinked and tried to focus over her headache to what the tech was telling her. "No, a Lauren Espinoza lives here with her parents." She mumbled out.

"Then she's missing, because that's not her body."

"Christ." Quinn muttered. This was getting worse by the minute. A missing woman and a dead government employee, which meant they'd be calling her every 15 minutes for an update. She wandered out to her car and sat down, shutting the door. For a moment, she enjoyed the silence. Then she booted the laptop and opened up the database on registered half-breeds wondering whose day she was going to make suck.


The bartender popped the cap off a bottle of beer by slamming it against the ancient hardwood bar top and slid it across the bar to the man who'd ordered it. The regular nodded in thanks, staring down into the mouth of the bottle. She left him to it, knowing he preferred his drink alone.

It was early afternoon, well before the bar would be officially open for the night, but she made exceptions for Bob. She had not, however, made an exception for the other patron in the bar.

"Detective Quinn, forgive me if I don't seem excited to see you in my bar."

"You never are." The cop sat down without being asked. "That's the price you pay for flirting on the edge of the Zone. I'm surprised some church group isn't outside trying to save souls." She looked around in distaste. An Irish pub being run by someone so obviously not Irish. Her ancestors were crying in their graves.

Dianna Theron sighed, brushing a hand through her short, artfully arranged, bright-red spiky hair. "Don't tell me, you've come here to take me up on my offer of a night you'll never forget?" The bar owner leaned up against the bar top, well aware of what that position did in making her breasts strain against the tight-fitting T-shirt she was wearing.

"I swore off bad girls and those that need saving when I got my badge." Her eyes didn't even drop from the half-breed's face, although it was a skill she had strengthened over time, only 21 tries until she kept her eyeballs from straying.

"I don't need saving." Dianna gave her a sly smile. "Although, I could be persuaded into it, if you wanted to play it that way." She was good at the game and more importantly, she knew she was good at it.

Theron was a lot of things, most of them wrapped up in a beautiful package. A package that could cause internal bleeding. "I'm activating you for a case."

Quinn didn't doubt that a lot of good Catholic girls had lost their way between Dianna's thighs under the veil of trying to save a lost soul.

"Fuck." The redhead gritted her teeth, shoving back from the bar and heading down the bar away from the cop. "Why don't you just go get one of those little tame demons of yours to do your dirty work? I'm busy."

"Because we know that phrase 'tame demon' is an oxymoron; there is no such thing. Sooner or later we find out they go out at midnight for a little late night snack of the homeless guy in the alley. Or missing kids are bones in their basement. You at least have half a soul."

"Get someone else, I'm not interested!" Dianna yelled, yanking open the door to her office. It stuck a bit so she always had to pull hard to get the wood door open. Usually that was a bit annoying, but this time she rather enjoyed having it slam off the opposite wall.

"Got a whole family murdered." The cop said, pulling out the file and started putting pictures on the bar. "CSI found three different types of demon blood. Now what would make different demons work together?"

The redhead paused, her back to Quinn as she closed her eyes. "Find someone else." She asked quietly, a pleading note in her voice.

Quinn threw down another photo, it was heartless, but they had the luxury of living while those in the picture did not. "I have a missing woman, Lauren Espinoza, pretty enough, in a timid, lost lamb way. Says she was a research assistant at the University Library. Have to wonder what those demons are doing to her?"

"I'm not interested." Dianna growled, her fingers tightening on the worn wood of the .doorframe. It grounded her and she needed that right now. "This is my place, Quinn; I have things to do here." She didn't want to look at those pictures; she could feel the darkness practically radiating from them.

Down at the other end of the bar the only other patron lifted his head, sniffing the air.

"Husband killed quickly, wife and older daughter mauled; the skin from their faces ripped away as well as their hearts."

"Stop!" Dianna whirled, the whites of her eyes wide around the pale-green irises. She stalked forward, sneering, commanding at the policewoman. "Stop it!"

"Why? You don't care, apparently that piece of soul you have doesn't work." She started gathering up the photos.

"Get out." Dianna growled, posture stiff as Quinn's words hit home, probably harder than the detective thought they would. "Take that shit with you." She whirled, ready to slam the door to her office.

"Fine." Quinn slid a business card on the bar top, leaving it with the photos. "Call me when you find that piece of humanity."

The half-demon growled, slamming the door to her office shut behind her as Quinn left. Down at the other end of the heavy, oaken bar top the lone patron sniffed the air again, mumbling to himself as he bent down over his drink again.


Twelve hours later, the redhead lay naked in bed, smiling up at the ceiling above her. That - she reflected as she sat up and reached for the cigarettes she kept next to the bed, had been exactly what she'd needed. Brushing sweat-dampened locks of red hair out of her face, she lit up, taking in a deep drag of smoke and sighed in pleasure.


Behind her a mussed blonde head peeked up over the rumpled blankets. The room stank of sweat and the sex they'd been having for most of the very early morning .

Dianna stood up, sliding a brightly colored silk bathrobe on, "Get your things and get out." She grinning at the startled squeak behind her.

"What?" She turned, smiling coolly at the blond. "Did you think you were going to stay? Sex is sex. That doesn't entitle you to cuddling or some shit. Get out."

The bartender took another drag of smoke, smiling to herself as the curses rained down on her as the human woman got dressed. The shouting didn't abate until the blonde was gone and Dianna shook her head in amusement.

Humans. Would they ever learn?

Another one trying to save her soul.

The smile slipped a bit as Quinn's words echoed in her mind. Fucking Quinn, Dianna thought, stabbing out the cigarette. Just the thought of the policewoman had ruined her good mood.

"Damnit." She growled, running a hand through her hair, which only resulted in more spiky tendrils.

Wearing only the bathrobe, the bar owner padded barefoot through her rooms, pausing at a window to watch the human stumble out of the front door to hail a cab. Certain that her guest had left; she resumed her path toward her private sanctuary. This was her domain, the world she had built for herself. The turn of the century brick building had once housed a slaughterhouse, and had been scheduled for demolition when she'd found it.

It had been perfect.

High ceilings with charred wooden beams, thick brick walls, and most importantly, lots of space. It was the perfect place for the bar she'd always dreamed of owning. That it was located on the edge of the Gray just made it all that much better.

Her rooms were above the bar, a definite bonus after a long night of tending to customers.

She passed through her kitchen, snagging a glass of OJ on the way. Dawn was just starting to break the horizon and she'd be getting some sleep soon. Even a half-breed needed rest, although she needed a lot less of it than humans.

One of the few perks of her little birthright.

"Morning, Sissy." She called as she shoved open the door to her office, after unlocking it. There was no answer of course, but she said the same thing every morning anyway. "Sleep well?"

She kept talking, setting her glass of OJ on a desk precariously over-piled with papers and invoices. The study was ringed with mismatched bookshelves and overstuffed chairs anchored the corners of the fireplace.

Dianna carefully took down the large portrait that hung above that fireplace in the place of honor and carried it to the windows along one side of the room. They looked down over the back of the bar, where she'd had a garden grown.

Not by her of course, but someone who didn't have the ability to kill plants by just touching them.

The portrait was placed on a stand already centered on those windows and Dianna smiled at the figure in the painting. "There, you can watch the garden all day. I'm going back to bed though."

She turned to go, and paused.

There, in front of the door, were the photos Quinn had brought over.

"No!" Dianna whirled on the portrait. "I shredded those for a reason. I am not getting involved in this."

The teenage girl in the portrait continued to stare lovingly out, gaze directed down at the garden below. There was a family resemblance between the two, the same hint of Greek descent, Mediterranean skin tone and strong jaw.

"Damnit, Sissy, I said no."

There was no answer and Dianna sighed, hanging her head. "Why do you always have to be right?"

She left the photos where they were, avoiding looking at them, and picked up the business card set next to them. It was five thirty in the morning and she got a little pleasure in knowing she was probably waking up Quinn as she dialed the private number on the back of the card.

"Ello?" A sleepy voice answered the phone on the fifth ring.

"I'll do it." Dianna leaned against her desk, watching the sunrise color the sky. "Tell them I'll visit the crime scene later. I'll tell you what I find and then that's it, I'm out."

"Dianna?" The human started to ask, but the redhead was already hanging up.

"There." She glared over at the back of the portrait. "I did it. Now I'm going to bed."

She walked around the photos, leaving the ever-smiling portrait staring down at the gardens below.


A Harley would have been in keeping with the image that Dianna enjoyed maintaining of herself, except that it tended to rain a lot in the Gray zone. It could be perfectly sunny and beautiful weather in the rest of the city and inside the Zone it would be drizzling and cold.

This meant she'd bought the next best thing in her eyes, her baby, a BMW M6 convertible. It was horribly expensive, completely vain of her, but she loved that car and it had been the second thing she'd bought, right after the bar.

There was a patrol car parked outside the house and the obligatory yellow tape. She slid out of the car, the leather thigh-high boots, tight pants and tailored shirt were all done to attract attention. Which she got from the cop watching her walk toward him at the tape.

Unfortunately, he wasn't the only one there and her lips twitched as she spotted Quinn waiting at the house's front door.

"Didn't trust me to show up, Detective?" she asked, sliding under the tape close enough to the young cop to make him blush as he saw down her shirt.

"Stop teasing the rookies." Quinn said, sliding away from the wall.

As she did, a small muscular man who looked reptilian, with gleaming white scales, and a large gold cross was revealed. "I told you I wouldn't be needing your help, Paul."

He drew himself up, becoming larger. "Why go with a substandard model?" He hissed out.

"Who the fuck you calling substandard, reptile boy? You looked in the mirror lately?" Dianna raised an eyebrow. "I mean, really, small children must go screaming away from you every time you slink through a playground. Not that I'm saying you're a pedophile or anything."

He hissed angrily, his hand going for his gun.

"I haven't brought you in on a case; you draw that gun I'll have to arrest you." Quinn was well aware that she was human in moments like this, and Paul, the born-again demon hunter could crush her like a bug.

He hesitated. Then his hand slowly moved away from the gun. "I apologize; she just has a way of getting under your skin."

"Go back to the department; I'm sure the Chief has something for you." She said tiredly.

He nodded and left, not before giving Dianna a glare.

"Real nice to see you again, Lizard boy, I mean Paul." Dianna smiled sweetly back at Quinn. "It's so nice that we can get together like one big happy family isn't it?" In her best southern accent.

Quinn just gave her an unamused look. "It was the Chief's idea; he thinks those born-again types that have found God are the bee's knees." She cracked her neck and moved to the door. Absently she told the rookie, "Make sure we are left alone until we finish up."

"Chief would know, if the rumors about him in the Gray zone are true." Dianna quipped, just to see the reaction she'd get from the rookie. She wasn't disappointed by the glare he leveled at her and she laughed as she walked in with Quinn. "You always walk around with a high school kid as your muscle?"

"The scene is cold, bodies removed, no leads: three dead humans, a dead demon, and a missing woman. Why would we bother ourselves with seasoned professionals? Just a bouncer to keep the weirdos away who collect photos and souvenirs from sites like this. I've got them to hold off on the psychic cleaners for 48 hours, after that this place gets scrubbed. They don't want the demons expanding the Gray Zone," Quinn said matter-of-factly. She moved to the living room window. "On the lawn where the day-glo orange flag is, was the body of the demon. His head was twisted around so he could see where he'd been."

"Anyone ever tell you how depressing you are?" Dianna asked, staying at the doorway where she'd entered the house. "Bet you're all sorts of fun at parties, if you ever get invited, that is." She didn't want to be here, didn't want to enter this place. She could hear the echoes of screams already and she'd barely entered.

Evil had walked through this house and a part of her wanted to walk along with it.

"What do you want from me?" She asked to delay the inevitable.

"I want a lot of things Theron, but I'll settle for finding the woman, Lauren Espinoza, that's her name by the way. Finding her alive would be better, but sometimes we settle for just having closure on a case." It was an odd thing--she'd never even really know they had two daughters, not by all the photos of the oldest daughter. She moved deeper into the house to the stairway. "The oldest daughter worked in DC, they have pictures of her with all sorts of important people. I'll keep the Feds away because they'll just fuck this up. They'll want justice for one of their own and the woman will die." If she wasn't dead already.

"You're going to owe me for this one, Quinn," the half-demon said, reluctantly stepping into the house. Her entire body was tense as she felt the sensations whirl around her. With a deep breath, she closed her eyes and lowered the mental barriers she'd spent a lifetime learning how to keep.

"They were all here, together." She murmured, turning left and entering the dining room with its piles of dishes and moldering food. "They were eating together, a family dinner." Her lips twisted in a mock smile. "How domestic, the perfect little American family."

And if there was a note of envy in her voice, she purposefully ignored it. Turning, the redhead moved deeper into the house, nose twitching as if she smelled something, but it wasn't a scent, it was something much more profound than that. These were marks that would last until the Psi Cleaners did their work and wiped it all away.

"There were two of them." She swallowed, heart starting to beat faster as she felt the demons. Felt their pleasure.

"They came through the kitchen. One stopped to kill the dog, it ate it." She licked her lips, swaying slightly as she turned again. "They caught the mother in the hallway, the father was going for a gun, but he never made it. The sister was?" She hesitated. "One was trying to stop the other from doing? something." She frowned; sweat beading against her skin, dripping down her face and back.

"They killed the father quick; they took their time with the mother though." Dianna shivered, torn between the pleasure she felt and the revulsion at feeling it. Her fingers balled into fists and she moved into the living room, where the blood was still on the carpet. "The sister made it into here before they killed her; one of them was going to rape the body but?"

She paused, frowning, turning in place. "The other sister." Dianna breathed, eyes opening as she stared at the hole in the window and out it, at the spot where one of the demons had died. "She's the one who killed the demon." The redhead turned, brushing sweat-dampened hair out of her face to look at Quinn. "Your missing sister, Lauren; she killed a demon with her bare hands."

Quinn was silent, looking at Dianna, the look was guarded. "Are you pulling my leg?" She said quietly, a dangerous undertone to it. "One human against a demon?" It was impossible, maybe 20 or 30 against a demon or some soldier armed to the teeth, but one woman?


"It's what happened." Dianna snapped, exhausted as she walked for the front door. "I did what you wanted, have fun."

"Fuck." Quinn blurted out. "Wait, help me find the girl, this Lauren. That's what I wanted." She followed quickly to the door.

The outburst let Dianna get out the door and into the fresh air, something she really appreciated after being inside that house. "What? Do I look like some kind of bloodhound to you? I told you the girl was alive, the rest is up to you."

Quinn's face became stony. "Guess that soul you have is just for show then. Fine, leave, you'll get your check for your time." The Detective snarled out. "Coward." She couldn't make the half-breed stay. If she pushed, Dianna would turn on the charm and Quinn's free will would fall into her pants.

Anger clouded the half-demon's pale eyes and she took a step toward Quinn, face dark. "You can't just guilt me into doing your dirty work for you all the time." She bit out, angry at the manipulation. "This is the last time, you understand me? I'll poke around the Gray zone for your little lamb, if she isn't there, then you're on your own."

"Watch your anger Theron, or you can start dealing with a bunch of inspectors in your place. There are church groups with deep pockets so I'd be careful that some of your one-night stands don't start filing rape charges. Enough scandal and they'll ship you off back to one of those church states in Europe and no one will ever hear from you again." Quinn's eyes flashed equally with anger. She didn't like feeling impotent, unable to help her own people when they were murdered.

"Lovely." Dianna curled her lip, turning and stalking toward her car. "I'll let you know when the human turns up." She yanked open the door to the car. "But she'll probably be dead if she's in the Gray Zone."


Lauren shuffled around the University. She knew it well, she had gone to school there and then naturally had just taken over the job she had been doing as a student. She didn't go to work; she didn't dare. But it was easy to live here unnoticed, before the University had upgraded its heating everything had been steam. There was what felt like miles of steam tunnels under the University. She had made a home there. Stealing clothes out of the laundry rooms in the middle of the night, sneaking food from the kitchens and showers from the student gym.

Nobody even looked at her funny. She just looked like a ragged freshman. A freshman who couldn't stop staring at the young woman across the quad that was wearing a low-cut top, wondering what the woman's screams would taste like. She paled at the thought and hurried away down the sidewalk as the lights came on signaling night was falling.

"What did you do to me, Susie?" She muttered to herself, wondering yet again what her sister had done to her. Those thoughts came more and more, she had followed one woman back to her dorm, she had felt it when the perfect moment had come, the exact moment when she could have dragged the freshman into the dark and held her down and taken everything she wanted. She had known how easy it would have been to dispose of the body when she was done.

She had thrown up into some lovely flowering bushes and run off, just as she was running off now.

Three weeks ago, her sister had come to her work and asked if they could have lunch. An odd thing, Susie never had time for her. She was a bigwig in Washington, DC.

"I'm working on a drug trial for anxiety disorder."

Lauren had fidgeted, her fork playing with her salad. "Good for you?" It had been a question, not certain what Susie wanted from her.

"I would like to use you in the study."

"I?well? Susie, I don't?"

"You'll be perfect."

And that had settled it. It was a drug trial and Susie had started coming home on weekends to inject her and take back samples of her blood. What could be easier, she didn't even have to go to Washington, DC. Except Susie had lied.

She pushed the heavy dumpster out of the way; it hid a metal grate that led to her new home. Night was coming and so was the rage. She slid the metal back and slipped inside; after a moment it was replaced, looking as it always did.


Quinn sat at her desk, staring at the photos from the crime scene. It had been five days since she'd seen Dianna, and there'd been no call. She still wasn't certain she believed what the half-demon had told her.

"Quinn!" The Captain stuck his head out the door of his office. "You got Feds on the way up; they just showed up demanding to see you."

She just smiled, "Thanks." Inside she wanted to hide under her desk.

"Get rid of them. This is our case, not their's." He grimaced, looking like he'd just bitten into something rotten, and disappeared back into his office.

"I'll do my best, sir." Our case--like he'd been out to the house of horrors or been pounding pavement or losing any sleep.

Her phone rang, startling her, and hesitantly she moved her hand over to pick it up. Not sure she wanted to know what else could go wrong.

"Hey, it's Chip down in the lab, um, sorry I didn't tell you this sooner, the information got lost on a Post-it note . . . anyway . . . " The sheepish voice paused to clear its throat. "Um, so we found three different samples of demon blood. One matched the DOA at the scene; the other has been sitting in our cooler for the last five days."

"What?" Her voice hit a note she was embarrassed to realize only dogs could hear. "Yeah, I'll be down later today." She grumbled. "How'd it die?"

"A runner that Paul killed, it attacked him in the bathroom of a department store. Looks like a broken neck, pretty battered."

She frowned; Paul was big on his gun, probably compensating for something. "What about the third sample?"

"Corrupted. Seems to be a mix of human and demon."

"A half-breed?" She blinked, thinking about what Dianna had told her.

"No. Half-demons have a genetic sequence; this is just smeared together." There was a heartbeat of embarrassed silence. "Sorry, I'm not sure how to explain it simpler than that."

"It's okay." She waved off her annoyance, because it was probably going to be the least annoying part of her day. "Thanks for letting me know. I'll be down as soon as I'm done with the feds."

She hung up the phone and started putting the crime scene photos away. Wondering what kind of DC attitude she was going to have to bend over and take today.

"Is there a half-breed involved in the case, Detective Quinn?" A voice, very close to her, spoke up. The owner of said voice was leaning against the desk beside hers, a sardonic smile on his face as he watched her. He looked like a fed, dark suit, tie, pale shirt and shiny black shoes.

"No, just corrupted blood evidence." She said not moving, not showing surprise, dealing with demons did that. "How can I help you?" She plastered on the same smile she used for her boss. "Agent . . . ?"

"Green." He made no motion to move from the desktop he was leaning on. "And that is Agent Ferris." He hiked a thumb over his shoulder at the large black man with the bald head and nasty scar across part of his face. "We've been sent to help you with the investigation." He smiled, a charming relaxed smile meant to put people at ease that went well with his boyish face.

"That's great if we needed help and this fell under your jurisdiction, which it doesn't." She kept talking knowing he was going to argue. "I understand that . . . Susan Espinoza, did some sort of work for the Pentagon, and I know it's hard to lose one of your own. I promise to keep you informed as I learn anything. But at this time it looks as if the demons involved have been killed."

"Detective." He smiled again. "We're both on the same side here and this is an informal visit. However, there are national security concerns which take precedence. Your Captain is going to be getting a call from the Department of Justice soon. All we're asking is that you keep us apprised of your progress."

"Or lack of it." Agent Ferris grumbled from behind.

"I will. But unless any more leads open up, I'm afraid we might be at a dead-end with the perps killed. You might try talking to our freelancer Paul, he's a reformed demon, he's the one that killed the last one." She smiled again, her face hurting. "Once I get the autopsy notes, I'll send you my report."

"That would be nice of you." Agent Green stood up. "We'll wait for that report then." He paused, turning to look at her again. "Has there been any sign of the sister?"

"No, at this time we can only assume the demon, did what demons do to her and her body will show up."

"Let us know if you find her." The smile was still there but there was an odd look in the fair-haired agent's eyes. "We'll see you again soon, Detective."

"Of course. Sorry to have you come all this way for nothing." She hesitated. "Susan wasn't staying at her parent's house, and I've been blocked from her credit card report to see where she might have rented a room. You don't happen to have that information do you?"

"We'll see what we can find out for you, Detective." He gave her a wave as he left, Agent Ferris following behind like a silent guard dog.

"You do that." She said to herself. She reached down and opened up a drawer and pulled out a disposable prepaid cell phone and dialed Dianna's bar.

It was picked up on the third ring. "What?" An annoyed sounding voice demanded on the other end.

"Heads up. Feds are in town and they've got a hard on for this case. Don't know if you'll be seeing them, but I just thought I'd give you a warning."

She was amused to have woken the half-demon up, returning the favor.

"Quinn?" Dianna groaned, sheets rustling as she moved. "Feds are involved now? Great, thanks a lot."

A female voice asked something in the background and the phone receiver was muffled for a second. There was a heated exchange of words and a door slammed before Dianna uncovered the phone.

"You know it's sometimes nice to sleep with the same person each night."

Dianna snorted. "Variety is the spice of life." She cradled the phone to her ear as she picked up a cigarette and lit it. "What do the Feds want?"

"The dead sister worked for the government; the more I look the bigger the stonewall. I . . ." She hesitated. "I have a gut feeling and it's not good on the older sister. Any feelers on the sister we can't find?"

The half-demon groaned, arching her back and popping the vertebrae into place. "She's either left the city or hiding in a deep hole somewhere." The redhead grinned crookedly as she pulled on clothes. "Or she's cut up into very small pieces at the bottom of the river."

"Thanks for that last one." She was silent. "I'm sorry for strong arming you, but most of the time I have to be an asshole to get things done." That's all she was going to give the half-breed. "Anyway, we're probably going to be closing the case. Paul killed the second demon involved at the house; the third blood smear is corrupted. The case is dead unless something changes in 48 hours."

She frowned, like Dianna would care.

"So both your killers are dead and the sister's probably permanently missing." Dianna smiled, things were looking up. "That means I'm done. I'll let you know if the sister ever shows up, but don't count on it."

"Yeah thanks for nothing, Theron." She hung up and hid the phone again before grabbing her jacket and heading down to the meat locker.

Halfway across the city and, in some ways, even further away, Dianna hung up with a self-satisfied smile. Excellent, she was off the hook for helping Quinn, everything had all tied itself up nicely. Now she could stop pestering everyone she knew to keep an eye out for the human, Lauren and she could get back to her own life.

Yes, she smiled at her reflection in the mirror, as she rearranged her hair, things were looking up.


Lauren was breathing hard, blood coming from cuts on her arms and her knuckles were raw, swollen, and bruised. The room she was in had probably been used for storage but the stone walls were thick and sturdy, easily able to withstand the rages that came over her with the falling of night. They never lasted long but it was like a switch going off in her brain until her mind had time to process the changes that came with the dark.

She fumbled with the metal doorknob and wrenched the door open, stepping into her new home. A place where the rest of the world was safe from her; bedding in a corner, a desk and a chair from a dumpster, a pile of clothes in a duffel bag stolen from the gym. On the desk was Susie's black bag, it was filled with needles, syringes, and six vials of dark liquid, her body would ache just looking at them.

Wanting them, but when she used them she got worse, like more of her humanity slipped away. She rummaged around in a cooler, one side had been bashed in but it still held things. The warm beer tasted good, funny thing was she never drank before Susie had started the drug trial on her. Her stomach wanted more, wanted red things full of blood and protein, and she almost threw up; shakily she set the drink down and closed her eyes.


It was dark, had to be because she had become aware of herself again; hands bruised, a pinky might have been broken. She reached up and wiped blood off her face. She had clawed her face this time. She staggered out of the room, and went straight for her lukewarm beer. An ache started in the back of her head, like the onset of the flu. Absently she set the beer down and slowly exited her lair.

Shadows slid over her as she made her way through the quad, passed carefully manicured lawns, trimmed trees and bushes, the taste of fall in the air, giving it a bite. Near one of the Halls, the freshman one she thought. Blood and fear coated the air, washing over her, she liked it, it was almost arousing, part of her wanted to throw up.

Between the Residence Hall and the Dining Hall, a sidewalk disappeared into the dark of night. She moved through that dark into the empty space between buildings, there was a strong smell of wasted food rotting in metal. There were two shapes highlighted from a dim and dying light that lit up the back door to the Dining Hall.

She smelled demon and rushed forward, overcome with a rage to kill. The girl he was mauling she didn't even notice.

The demon was surprised; he had not sensed anything that would be a danger.

When it was over there was blood. She stared at the mess knowing that she needed to clean it up and dispose of the body. The girl was alive but she didn't care. She couldn't draw attention to her place.


Lenny wasn't much of a human, he wasn't much of a demon either, which was one of the reasons he lived on the very edge of the Gray Zone. The thin man with a receding hairline and scraggy goatee was always shifting from one part-time job to another, always certain he was right on the edge of becoming rich. He owed a lot of people a lot of favors though, another reason not to wander too far into the Zone where some of those people might just find him. Tonight he was handling parking for a nightclub not far from the university, which involved a lot of standing outside, listening to the loud music inside, and keeping track of people's keys.

Sighing, he bit at the fingernail on his thumb, worrying at it as he watched the small amount of foot traffic go by, bored.

"Hey! Valet, can we get our car?" An older man and his young wife were waiting at the foot of the stairs and Lenny winced. Damnit, he wasn't going to get a good tip out of this one.

"Sure, sorry about that sir, do you have your ticket?"

Wordlessly the man held up the small printed ticket and Lenny forced himself to take it.


He riffled through the keys until he found the one with the right number and stood up. "I'll be right back in a?." The words trailed off as he stared past the old man's shoulder as a face he'd been watching for all week ducked down the side alley and disappeared from view.


"Hey!" The old man said angrily. "You getting my car or what?"

"Get it yourself old bastard." He tossed the keys at the man, ignoring the curses as he turned away, fumbling in his pockets for the cell phone Dianna had given him for this purpose.


It was late, or maybe it was early, Dianna really wasn't sure how normal people considered three am in the morning. She didn't really care either of course, as she locked the car behind her and started walking. If Lenny had pulled her away from the bar and a very promising lay for the night for nothing, she was going to hurt the man.

Lauren had never been this close to the Gray before; she didn't like the way it made her feel. It was seductive and she wanted to move closer in to its foggy embrace.

There weren't many people around this close to the Gray at this hour of the night. There was more of a possibility of running into a demon than a human out here right now and Dianna scowled, walking faster as she scanned the area. Lenny was crazy, the human was dead somewhere and she was out here on a fool's errand.

Lauren cut through the parking lot. Tired, her skin buzzed at being so close to the Gray, she was slightly in shock she'd killed again.

Dianna's steps slowed as she felt the skin along the back of her neck crawl. She wasn't alone. Something was behind her, pacing her and she started walking faster again. It felt powerful, she could feel its hunger even from here, and the walk became a jog and the jog a run, which turned into a sprint as she heard a roar. A glance behind her and she could see it, dark and winged, a full demon then, no human form to speak of as it raced after her.

Lenny was going to get a fist to the nuts if she lived through this, the redhead promised herself, ground flying below her as she fled through a parking lot, dodging the two parked cars in it.

Lauren gasped in pain as a headache exploded at the base of her skull. She stopped sniffing the air and changed course. She shouldn't have come here.

Strange things drove her now, especially after dark.

Grifton Park wasn't far ahead; she could make it there and then double back to her car. Then she could get out of here before . . . All those plans died in her mind as the thing behind her kicked a car. The force sent it squealing sideways on its tires, slamming into her side and sending her flying.

The demon roared again, its clawed beak of a mouth gaping wide as it scented blood.

Lauren was moving faster. She jumped over a car and raced down the street.

"All right," Dianna growled, getting up off the ground, spitting out a piece of asphalt. "Fine. You want to play. We'll play." It was a full demon, stronger than she was, faster and definitely uglier.

It growled, swiping at her and she ducked as its claws dug half-foot gouges into the wall near her head. She punched at him, and it didn't do anything other than piss the demon off.

Lauren grabbed a lamppost and used her momentum to flip her around, her feet crashing into the creature and pushing it off its course. She tried to land on her feet but her momentum carried her too far and she slipped and slid on cement on her hands and knees.

Dianna had seen her death coming at that moment, had seen the claws coming at her head and no ability to stop it. Then the demon was twisting, moving to attack a girl who suddenly leapt at it out of the darkness and Dianna was back up. "Watch the claws! They're poisoned!" Dark ichor had dripped from them before.

The demon roared, wings flaring as it did a little hop up and over the ten feet at the human.

Lauren heard a voice shout out something about claws. She shook her head and growled out, hyper-aware of the demon coming at them. Her skin rippled and bubbled and then settled.

"Where you going?" Dianna yelled, leaping out and grabbing a hold of its scale covered tail. Grunting she held on, boots skidding on the asphalt as it pulled her toward the human, wanting blood.

Lauren roared back wanting blood of her own. The sound was weak compared to the roar of the demon but it still was shocking to the demon; it confused it, this challenge to war. The human should be running away. It blinked as the human actually charged at it. Then there was the half-breed pulling its tail.

Lauren ran, legs pumping like pistons, she charged like a bull straight at it.

The demon hissed annoyed with Dianna and turned to snap at her to get her off its tail.

Then it snapped its head back around.

Lauren jumped bringing her hands together and up over her head and then as she fell she brought her clasped hands down like she was swinging an axe.

The demon squealed, a high-pitched painful sound that echoed around the street, as its beak of teeth was smashed and shattered, the sound of multiple bones breaking was heard slightly under the squeal of pain.

A clawed hand caught Lauren across her arm and chest, clothing sliced open but across her skin the claws just skidded over them not able to penetrate, scraping across like nails on a chalkboard and then gone. Lauren fevered, nearly insane for a kill, moved in under the demon's arm and punched into its chest.

The demon's tail lashed sideways, giving Dianna a brief taste of flight. It was quite pleasant, right until she crumpled in to the side of a car; it's high-pitched alarm puncturing the night around them as car lights flashed.

She groggily slid to the ground, the world slewing around her crazily. Which was the only way to explain why she saw the demon rear back, the human climbing onto its shoulders and grabbing its head.

She was hallucinating, Dianna thought groggily as she tried to get up to her feet. Seeing things that were impossible.

It was hard, to twist the head and crush the spine. Harder than the others had been, but the human managed, and they collapsed together back onto the street. She was panting, her lungs desperate for air. Then the shaking that came after the thrill of the kill left her cold, though something inside her was satisfied. Her skin bubbled again and she screamed as the hardness of her skin was undone. Her hands were shaking and she was vaguely aware of tears.

It was easier to kill demons, it eased the sense of guilt in her mind, but she needed to kill, with each kill something loosened and eased inside her. And each time she did, something changed and she thought that she lost more and more of what made her Lauren.

"What the fuck are you?" Dianna groaned, holding her side as she stood up. Behind her the car alarm kept on its insistent bleating, with a Dianna-sized dent in its side. The half-demon stared at the human woman and the dead demon she was crouched over.

Lauren flinched, surprised by the words, she hadn't really noticed the other person. She scrambled to get to her feet so she could run away, but she slipped in the blood and then caught her foot on the demon's tail. Arms windmilling, she tried to regain her balance only to fall back. Her head cracked against the ground and darkness swallowed her.

Dianna blinked, staring down at the woman who'd just knocked herself out. Now that was more along the lines of what she expected from humans. Except? she glanced at the demon who's head whose head almost off its body? except for things like that.

"Aw shit." She grumbled, limping over to the unconscious human. She couldn't just leave her out here, not this close to the Gray zone. What she should be doing was calling Quinn and dumping the human in the detective's lap.

Again, there was a problem. The human had probably saved her life. "I don't turn people in to the police who I owe." Dianna muttered, torn between what she should do and what she wanted to do.

Finally she simply gritted her teeth, picked up the slight woman and started back toward her car. They'd figure things out in the morning.



Lauren gasped and sat up.

Blinking she looked around. This wasn't her place, her shithole under the university. This, this . . . was a place with windows and sunlight. There was a slight buzz at the back of her head but not the pain-inducing headache that drove her into a killing madness.

The room was simple but bright and airy. Tall cathedral ceilings made the room feel even larger than it was. Old brick walls were adorned with a few hanging antiques and a random painting. The bed was the newest thing there, a comfortable queen size mattress and neutral bedding. Somewhere, deeper in the house, music was playing and the sound of chairs moving against wood, and glasses clinking, could be heard.

It was a painful reminder of normality. She threw the sheet that was covering her off and then scrambled for it the moment she realized she was naked. Wrapping it around herself she wondered where her clothes were.

She paused in her winding of the sheet around her body as she noticed three black marks, almost like scorch marks that started on her biceps and ended at her sternum. They didn't hurt, the skin only slightly tender, she winced at a flash of memory. A clawed hand, those claws with poisonous black tips, and then it was gone.

"I want answers!" Someone from deeper in the house yelled, the female voice sounding pissed. A male voice answered, but the low bass voice was lost in the music. Chairs scrapped against wood and a door closed, leaving only the music.

She'd never been to a toga party and it took a couple of tries to keep the sheet from slipping. The voice made her cringe and fear started, followed by the shaking in her hands. She'd need another injection soon. Killing the demons seemed to burn through whatever Susie had gotten her hooked on quicker.

She'd need to inject herself soon.

She looked around but she wasn't going to go far without clothes. She padded silently around the room. There was an undercurrent of suffering to the brick walls, the smell of smoke and beer. Finally she realized she would have to move to the door and that angry voice; there was no other way out, unless she threw herself through the window.

Wood creaked as footsteps made their way up the stairs from below, heading up to the same floor she was on.

Lauren swallowed, wanting to flee, for a moment part of her told her the window would be no problem, she'd survive the glass and the fall. It was the new dark part, it scared her.

She put her hand on the doorknob, thankful that dark voice had less sway in the daylight and cracked it open.

A shape moved down the hallway, dark clothes and a shock of red hair as the female started toward the door that Lauren was hiding behind.

Lauren stood uncertain sweating nervously before she opened the door. The woman was intense in a way that was scary, and the ache at the base of her skull intensified. "Um . . ." She squeaked out as bravery failed her.

The woman paused, surprise flickering across her face before it was carefully blanked. "You're awake."

"Um." She said again. "I . . . Yes, yes I'm awake. Can I have my clothes?" Her voice was quiet and shy and she didn't make eye contact.

"No." The redhead brushed a hand through her hair, leaving it a bit spikier than it had been before as she muttered something to herself. Sighing she looked back at Lauren. "Your clothes were ruined." She frowned. "What's your name?" Best to make sure.

Lauren tensed, not sure if she should give her real name. Those things had been looking for Susie, maybe they were looking for her. She twisted her hands nervously, then sadly realized she'd taken so long to think about what she should do that she might as well answer truthfully, as it would probably seem like a lie. "Lauren."

"Lauren." A sardonic grin from the stranger and she turned on her two-inch heeled boots, walking away from Lauren. "I'll get you some clothes; someone must have left something that will fit you. Then you're welcome to some food while you decide what to do."

"Okay." She said uncertainly. Decide what to do? She hid. Hid until she learned to control herself and they stopped looking for her.

Or maybe until she grew so disgusted with herself she ended it. In the mornings she thought about suicide a lot, so far the biggest reason holding her back was she'd been raised Catholic suicides went straight too hell, she'd seen enough demons.

"Okay." Dianna yelled back, walking through a door at the end of the hall. She emerged a few minutes later, a bundle of clothes in her hands as she carried them back toward Lauren. "Here. These should fit. I'll be downstairs when you're dressed." She shoved the clothes in Lauren's arms.

The redhead started back the way she'd come, stopping at the top of the stairs. "Don't go into the doors at the end of the hall. Got it?"

"Okay." Lauren said uncertainly clutching the clothes to her chest.

"I mean it." The redhead pointed at Lauren. Getting a quick nod in response she went downstairs, muttering to herself.

Once the woman was gone, Lauren quickly dressed. The clothes smelled funny, and it was odd to wear jeans without underwear but that was just, eww. Now dressed, she made her way out the door and down the stairs; it didn't even occur to her to look where she'd been told not to. Susie would have been braver, mouthier, or just handled it better, but Susie was dead and she was not.

The stairs descended into the kitchen of the bar. Dianna wasn't anywhere to be seen but an ancient looking woman was stirring pots of soup and stew over the industrial stove tops. She peered up at Lauren, wielding a wooden spoon. "Sit." She said in a heavy German accent. "Eat!"

"Helga, stop scaring the girl, she's had a bad night." The redhead was back, dragging a chair over to straddle it across from Lauren. "That's Helga, she does all the cooking here."

Lauren suddenly found herself starving, she was considerably thinner than she used to be, and started stuffing the stew and bread into her mouth. Embarrassed, she swallowed. "Thank you Helga." She whispered out before trying to take more ladylike bites.

The German woman waved the wooden spoon.

"She doesn't talk much." Dianna said, arching an eyebrow. "You don't talk much either do you?"

Lauren swallowed. "Um, what would you like me to say? You haven't told me your name or where I am, so really I think you should be talking."

"Right." The redhead winced, rubbing a hand through her hair. "Dianna Theron. This is my bar." She watched Lauren eat, pale eyes narrowing a little. "Thank you." She said it grudgingly. "For last night."

For a moment Lauren was wondering if she'd actually managed to have sex, but the memory flash of fighting a demon made her think otherwise. "Last night?"

"The demon." Pale eyes watched her intently; behind her the German woman kept stirring, ignoring them completely. "For killing him, before he killed me."

Lauren looked at her and her hands started shaking as more bits of memory hit her. "You're, uh, welcome." She pushed back from the table. "I should go. Thanks for the food, it was really good . . ." She babbled.

The shaking was getting worse.

"Wait." Dianna stood, frowning. "Where are you going to go? Not that I care of course, but you should probably have a plan. The police are looking for you."

That only made things worse. Panic was followed by a craving spike in her gut for an injection. "Police?" She backpedalled, her eyes darting for an exit.

"Police." Dianna watched her, expressionless. "They think you know something about a family that was killed." She shouldn't do this; she should just let the mouse flee back into her hole. But she'd saved her life.

Dianna moved, following Lauren.

Lauren's face became chalky. "I didn't . . ." A memory of a demon retracting two boney claws out of her father's head, the stunned expression on his face and Susie shouting at her to save them. In the end, she'd been too late to realize what Susie had done to her.

Her stomach twisted, she needed a fix. "Please, I need to go." The woman with the red hair stood between her and the only exit.

"Where?" Dianna kept moving, stepping between her and the doors. "Where would you go? Where would be safe for you?" The woman's hands were trembling she noticed.

It rose up in her, her skin bubbling and rippling before becoming solid, like stone. "Someplace safe." She growled out, trying to shove the woman out of her way.

"Not good enough." Dianna knocked away those trembling hands. "What is it? What are you addicted to? Meth? Heroin?"

"I don't know!" She shouted and then pushed back harder, knocking the woman back out of her way. "Sorry, sorry, I can't control it . . ." She apologized as her skin rippled, the hardness underneath breaking away, and then she ran out of the kitchen.

Vaguely she noticed the bar and then the headache tightened like a vice and her head whipped around looking at the lone patron staring at his beer.

A demon.

"Bob!" Dianna yelled a few steps behind Lauren. The man at the bar didn't seem to hear her, staring down at the beer bottle in his hands. The baseball cap was pulled down low over his face and his thin white hands clutched the bottle tightly.

The voice did it, broke her focus. She blinked and black eyes changed back to brown and she dashed for the door.

Lauren got the door ripped open and was gone. She could feel it now. The Gray, the place that anchored demons in their world and gave them refuge, she was too close to it.

She ran faster down the street, her bare-feet shredding and bleeding against the cement.

It was in Dianna to chase after the stranger. To go after her, but at the threshold of the bar she paused. "What the hell am I doing?" The half-demon asked, watching Lauren disappear around a corner in the bright sunlight. She wasn't her problem, not anymore.

Frowning she turned, closing the bar door again.


"Where is the little one?" Helga demanded as soon as Dianna returned to the kitchen.

"Gone." Was the simple answer as Dianna moved to get her own bowl of food. Only to have her hand thwacked by the heavy wooden spoon that Helga wielded like a weapon. "Ow!"

"No guest, no early lunch." The German woman said, turning her back on the bar owner.

"You know, I'm really starting to think you don't know who you work for." The half-demon growled, sucking on a bruised finger. Helga cackled and said something in German too fast and far too fluently for Dianna to follow. Although, she had the sneaking suspicion that she was being told off.

Muttering to herself the redhead turned and strode for the stairs. Since her entire morning seemed to be ruined, she might as well take care of some of the invoices that were waiting for her on her desk. It had never really occurred to her how much paperwork was involved in owning her own bar.

Not that she regretted it, but it certainly seemed to keep her busy.

The heavy metal key was in her pocket, like always and she slid it into the keyhole of her personal office.

"Sissy, I'm AH!" She yelped, ducking as a book went flying at her from one of the bookshelves. "Hey! Stop that!"

Another book went flying for her head and she had to duck behind a chair, the heavy dictionary thudding into the leather chair back instead of her head.

"What the fuck! Come on, she ran away on her own. I did what I was supposed to right? I found her, well she found me, but I tried, she just didn't want any help."

The third book hit with enough force to make the chair rock back on its legs.

"Sissy!" Dianna peeked around the edge of the chair, looking at the smiling face of her sister's portrait. "This isn't our problem!"

A fourth book went flying by her face so close she felt the pages brush her cheek.

"All right! All right." Swearing to herself the half-demon stood up, warily, ready to dodge back behind cover if more books leapt off the shelves. When they stayed where they were she relaxed. "I'll find her and get her somewhere for recovering meth heads or something."

Grumbling to herself she grabbed the old black rotary phone from on top of her desk. The police weren't a normal number she called, but she thought she'd rather leave a message for Quinn instead of talking to the detective right now.

"Hi. I'd like to leave a message for Detective Quinn."


Quinn stood outside the bar, feeling naked out of uniform. She wasn't certain this was a good idea, too close to the Gray at night, but she couldn't shake the feeling the Feds had a tail on her. She sucked in a breath and pushed the door open.

She actually liked the bar; for all she knew most of it was imported from Ireland just like Dianna claimed. It was just the fact that Dianna, who wasn't remotely Irish owned it struck a nerve. She got a few looks but she ignored them, trudging up to the bar and found an empty stool, it was a weeknight so it wasn't packed.

"Whiskey neat, and make it something suitably Irish." She said to the attractive man behind the counter, but brushed off his attempts to flirt. Dianna would find her, then ignore her, but eventually they would talk. It had been a day since the woman had left her that cryptic message.

Elegant fingers slid a glass of whiskey, neat just like she'd ordered it, in front of Quinn. "Knappogue Castle Reserve, just for you, Detective." Dianna's voice was as honey-toned as the whiskey she'd just set in front of her. The half-demon leaned against the other side of the bar, showing off a fair bit of cleavage in the tight shirt she wore. "Was wondering when you'd stop by."

"I wouldn't have to if you would have just returned my phone call during the time I told you I'd be at my desk." Quinn knew it was Dianna's way of taking control and for now let her have it. "I have a feeling I'm being followed." She said quietly over the rim of her drink before downing it. She winced as it burned down her throat.

"So you want to go into more detail of your message?"

The red-haired woman shook her head. "Always business first with you, Detective." Reaching behind her she grabbed a bottle, refilling the woman's drink for her. "You should treat that drink with more respect, it's a forty-year-old single malt whiskey. The bottle costs more than most people's mortgage payments." Dianna smiled. "I rather doubt whoever is following you would be stupid enough to follow you in here."

"Maybe, or maybe they have their own half-demons and demons to do work for them." She said with a shrug. This time she sipped her drink. "You know what they say about cops--even when the uniform comes off, we're still on." She grinned humorlessly as the man sitting next to her shifted nervously.

She let out a breath. "I'm sorry and how was your day today?" She frowned as soon as the words were out of her mouth the civility feeling weird in their normally uncivil working relationship, and even that was grasping at straws for what they were.

Dianna gave her a toothy grin, ignoring the man who suddenly decided he needed to move away from the cop. "It was fine, dear, how was yours? Did little Timmy get to school on time?" She thoroughly enjoyed getting under Quinn's skin, the Irish woman had a good handle on her temper but it flared every once in a while.

The bartender grabbed a beer from a passing server, giving her a wink and taking a gulp of the cold liquid. It was a good night, enough patrons to keep the place busy but not so many that it got chaotic. She was delaying of course, avoiding Quinn's question.

There was a flash of old pain, not that Dianna could have known about how much her response hurt. Five years ago she used to have someone to go home to, someone who she could have exchanged those questions with, and his name hadn't been Timmy, it had been Connor, named after her Da.

"Look." She said darkly, recovering, pushing the pain back down. "You want to talk about the phone message or not?

Dianna's lips came off the rim of the bottle with a wet sound and she watched Quinn through her lashes. "Actually. I think I'd rather talk about why you just looked like you wanted to rip my head off."

Quinn ignored her, taking a sip of her drink, settling her thoughts. That was the problem with demons, even half-breeds; they fed on pain and suffering, got off on it even. Working with them you had to be nearly emotionally dead. Which didn't really speak volumes for the human's integrity. "Theron, that is not a can of worms you want to open. Maybe I'll tell you someday, after I tell you what my first name is. Until then let it drop." She was proud that the neutrality was back in her voice.

"But I know what your first name is." Dianna smiled teasingly, accepting the defeat for now. "I'll just wait to use it when I can scream it out in delight though." She licked her lips, loving the way Quinn's eyes reacted even if the other woman's face was shut down.

"Don't flatter yourself. I don't swing that way." Sometimes with demons it didn't matter you'd go there despite yourself, you just couldn't resist.

She got up. "Thank you for the drinks, Theron. Don't call me again if you're going to waste my time." She pulled out enough bills for a tip and threw them on the bar. Maybe she'd schedule a raid on the bar just to make herself feel better. Honestly though, Theron really seemed to be more human than demon, she doubted they'd find anything.

"Your lips say one thing, your eyes another." Dianna stood up from her leaned-over crouch, sighing. "You really need to work on your social skills, Detective. I've got something on your missing girl. Care to follow me upstairs?"

Quinn sighed and rubbed her nose. Everyone who saw her go upstairs was going to think they were having sex. "Sure, fine, but I'm not going to try to save your soul. I know a lost cause when I see one."

"That just makes it all the more fun, Detective." Dianna purred, walking up the stairs with a sway to her hips. She could feel the eyes on her from below. One of them would be spending the night with her, a pity it didn't seem that would be Quinn though.

She walked down the hall, going in to the guest bedroom and picking up a plastic bag. Inside were ruined clothes that she tossed over to Quinn. "There."

Quinn frowned and looked inside. "And the rest of her would be where? And do I want to know how you got her clothes off of her?"

That earned the Detective a smirk. "Use your imagination. As for the rest, I don't know. She fled out of here after I told her the police wanted to talk to her." Best to leave most of that confrontation out of it, Dianna thought. She leaned a hip against the side of the bed board, watching Quinn.

Quinn let out a breath, that didn't sound good. That almost made it seem like the youngest daughter was guilty of something. "You know that doesn't sound very good. Makes it seem like she's involved some way with the murders." Normal people didn't run away from the police. Damn it. She rubbed her nose again. "But she's alive." They were 48 hours from cold-casing it.

"Very alive. Although I think she might be on drugs. Not sure which, maybe PCP? She had a burst of" Dianna grinned "inhuman strength."

Quinn remembered what Dianna had said at the house. "You're still fucking with me. She worked for the University, in the Library, to be around anyone who might be underage all employees must have a background and blood test to make sure they are human. She's a human and a human can't twist a demon's head around until they can look at their ass."

"Detective, if I was fucking with you, I guarantee you'd know it." Dianna pushed off from the bed, annoyed with the entire thing. "I have people looking for her, but she's obviously got a nice deep hidey hole somewhere."

"You have to be related to a nymph or a satyr. You have sex on the brain all the time, everything is innuendo with you." She wondered if she should bother to find the young woman who didn't want to be found. "I'm going to close the case, unless I find anything that links her to the murders. She's an adult, if she wants to be a junkie and hide away from the world . . ." It would make sense, a young woman who sees her family killed maybe escapes into drugs to hide the memory.

That she could understand.

"Um, there's nothing I can do about that. I already have five new murders on my plate."

"You're not going to search for her?" The half-demon's gaze sharpened. She'd been hoping that this entire mess could be handed off to Quinn.

Quinn's gaze hardened. "What do you think I've been doing? You've had more luck than I. I can only do so much. My life isn't a cop show. My caseload is overflowing; I have feds following me, asking me inane questions because they are lying sacks of shit. I work overtime almost everyday, sometimes if I'm lucky I get lunch that doesn't come from a vending machine. We can't all be oversexed bar owners." But it sounded nice.

Anger was okay although it was a turn-on for some demons, she was fairly certain Dianna wasn't one of those; she did however, make an effort to calm herself. "48 hours and then it's a cold case."

"So if I find her in 48 hours I can hand her over to you?" Dianna asked, just to be crystal clear on this one. If Sissy was going to force her to do something, she didn't want to be stuck looking after some addicted human.

"Yeah sure." Quinn replied. "If that's all, I'll leave you and your regulars alone." She turned for the door smirking. She was going to ruin Dianna's reputation; she hardly looked like she'd just been given a good time.

The bar tender pursed her lips in thought, watching the detective go, too preoccupied by the complications to her normally orderly life to protest.


High-pitched voices gibbered in an infernal tongue, the words and phrases echoing in the dark cavernous room. Pale, fish-belly-white demons, no bigger than a small child, painted symbols on to the cold concrete floor. Their brushes were made from bone and hair and their movements delicate even though they only had three fingers and no eyes.

Somewhere another door opened and different demons came in pushing metal tripods; on top of each tripod was a metal circle that held something tan, it was pulled tight, connected in place to the metal circular frame. They pushed two tripods into the center of the symbols. The tan on top of the tripods was revealed to be stretched skin; two empty eyeholes and pale, bloodless lips opened in a never-ending scream of torment.

Exiting the symbols, two demons bumped into one of the painters and a fight broke out, screams of pain and rage echoed, until a cold, bored voice said, "Stop wasting my time."

The fighting stopped and the combatants dropped to their knees gibbering and bowing.

The voice was attached to a female body, ripe with lush curves and dark hair that cascaded down pale skin. "Very good, looks like we are ready. Where is the Blood Witch?"

When there was no answer the woman turned around, red eyes blazing. "Find me the Blood Witch; time is wasting here." Her voice promised pain and the demons got up, bolting in all directions.

Finally the Blood Witch emerged; her lower half was that of a giant snake while her upper torso was that of a woman. She was naked other than bones and skulls that decorated several large necklaces around her neck, the bones were human and demon, There were odd patterns painted on to her skin, some flashed dark red on occasion while others remained dormant.

"I was watching the stars in a bowl of blood." She snapped out.

"I'll divine my future in your entrails if you don't quit the attitude," the demoness said darkly, promising pain.

The witch swallowed and then bowed. "I beg forgiveness, sometimes I spend too much time looking into the mysteries that I forget my place."

"Whatever. Find out which one is Susan."

"As you command." The witch moved forward, scales dryly rasping over the concrete. She moved to the circle of symbols checking everything carefully. "Very good. Bring me the hearts."

A box was brought to the witch and she pulled out the decomposing organs with a sniff of disapproval, "Next time, a cooler full of blood is better." She began to hum and chant and then squeezed the hearts over each taut skin like a lemon.

The skins began to twitch and the mouths open and shut, and then agonizing screams wailed throughout the room.

The demoness approached, a pleased smile on her face. "Which one of you is Susan Espinoza?"

The faces contorted in agony. "What have you done to us?" They wailed.

"Oh, shut up. Or I'll eat your damned soul. Now who is Susan?"

"You leave my baby alone." One of the faces shouted.

"Thank you. Take that one away and burn it." Demons scampered to do as they were bid.

The demoness moved over, pushing the Blood Witch out of her way. She snapped her fingers and a chair was brought. She swept her tail back so she could sit comfortably.

"Susan, you're a smart woman. You knew I was on to you. Did you guess I had corrupted your boss? It wasn't that hard, not really. I know your little project is a failure, but did you know that someone noticed you taking vials out of the lab? So tell me where your hidden little lab is, so I can destroy any more freaks you've created."

The flap of taut skin that used to be connected to the rest of Susan struggled. "There's no lab," she said hollowly.

"Then why were you stealing the blood samples?" She asked, checking a blood-red painted fingernail, bored.

"The volunteers were not suitable, criminals became too violent once the injections began and the blood started to mix. They flew into rages and killed everyone, not just demons. I theorized that we actually needed a more passive pool of test-subjects, ones not prone to violence."

The demoness went very still, "Who's your test subject, Susan?"

"Why? Scared?" Susan taunted back.

"What's there to be scared of? You made half-breeds, big deal."

"The Great Wyrm and Stone-skinned Soul Eater out of Tibet ." Susan smiled as the demoness's skin became pale. "All those things that make demons scared of the dark."

The demoness glared. "They've been hunted to extinction Chinese occupation of Tibet and Wyrms are easily distracted." She sneered in response.

"A half-breed hid the last one away. His family worshiped it, and cared for it through the centuries; all because demons murdered his heart's true love. He harbored it out of hatred. And we pitiful humans found it."

The demoness was standing now, red eyes blazing like a house fire. "Who is your test subject? Where can it be found?"

Susan's mouth opened in a painful wail trying to resist. "Blood of my blood, she was at the house. She'll kill you. Because she must."

Lips tight together the demoness stormed off. "Put it in a box." She might need to talk to Susan again.


Three AM probably wasn't the best time to be wandering around the Gray zone, or even out of it for that matter, but Dianna Theron couldn't leave earlier. No matter what Quinn thought, there were a lot of things she had to take care of at the bar. There were employees that had to be paid, fights to break up, and customers to mingle with.

A quickie with a rather stunning brunette had taken the edge offthe night's troubles quite nicely.

This unfortunately left her leaving the bar, in Bob's capable hands, at three a.m. to meet with a demon who she hoped would be able to find the missing human. Then maybe, finally, Sissy would stop throwing books at her every time she entered her own study.

The demon was waiting for her outside the back of the bar. It wasn't one of the ones who could ever pass for a human, like Paul. The hulking beast was more like a saber-toothed cat then anything else, although the slime shine of its reptilian hide made even that comparison difficult.

"You're late." The thing growled.

"I had things to settle, Challa." Dianna dug into her pocket, pulling out a small scrap of cloth and holding it out for the thing to sniff. "Can you track from this?"

Challa snorted, turning and loping through the darkness as Dianna sprinted to keep up

Lauren woke sluggishly. She had injected herself with a different vial wondering if it might have a different affect on her. It had. This one made her sleepy and when she did venture up into the quad, she kept getting drawn to shiny objects and valuable ones.

Made her feel vaguely raccoon like. There was a buzz again in the back of her skull, the beginnings of headache, one she had come to associate with a demon being nearby, she was meek not stupid.

Slowly she got up and dressed. Thirsty swept the watches, rings, and bangles off the cooler onto the floor and pulled out a beer, downing it quickly. It helped keep the edge off the headaches. Slowly she snuck out of her hiding hole.

It was late or early, not yet dawn but the fullness of night was gone. On a weeknight, even most students were asleep at this time.

Challa slowed, and Dianna was glad it did. They'd crossed what felt like most of the city at a run and she was seriously regretting the heeled boots she was wearing. Her legs were starting to burn as she slowed, watching the scaly demon scent the air with a forked tongue. "Your prey is near." Challa growled, turning to look at Dianna through yellow eyes. "I have brought you here. Payment now."

"Pushy, aren't we?" Dianna reached into her pocket, pulling out a sealed plastic baggy. "Here you go." She tossed it at him and the demon snatched the bag and the white pills in it, out of the air. "Demons and ecstasy." She muttered, shaking her head as she started walking deeper into the university grounds.

Her pace quickened as she saw movement in the shadows of one of buildings, a library if she remembered correctly. "Hey!" She called, changing direction and moving toward it.

Lauren froze, recognizing the voice; it was the woman who wanted to take her to the police. "Fuck." She grumbled. The woman was too close for her to get to her hideaway without it being discovered.

"Hey!" Dianna really didn't want to run again. "I want to talk to you."

She lifted her head and sniffed almost as if she were scenting the air. There was a demon nearby; the pain in her skull increased. She moved toward the garishly redheaded woman intent on going passed her. "Look, I don't want to talk to you." She said absently following in the direction the demon had left.

Dianna grabbed her arm, yanking her to a stop. "I know that, but it's important," the other woman insisted.

Lauren's eyes flickered for a second, going black. "I need to . . ." She trailed off and gave the strange woman her attention. "What?" she asked, looking at the hand on her arm, knowing how easy it would be to break it.

The flicker of Lauren's eyes made Dianna pause for a second, but she shook it off. The sooner she did this, the sooner she could be home. "It's obvious you're in trouble and I know you're high on something. I owe you for what you did two days ago, let me help you."

Lauren laughed and easily shook the hand off. "A month ago you could have helped. Not now, go away before I hurt you too."

The brush-off actually stung a bit and Dianna rubbed her wrist, eyeing the human. "Fine." Damnit, why was she even out here? "You just self destruct all by yourself. Live in filth for all I care." She wrinkled her nose. "Or should I say keep living in it?"

Lauren paused. "I'm sorry . . . I just . . . you're attractive, it makes it hard . . . you should really not be here." She took a deep breath it was easier when she wasn't so close.

"Little girl, I'm not . . ." Dianna paused, head tilting to one side. Something had changed around them.

"What . . ." She mumbled, turning in a circle. Behind them Challa strode into view large, tusked mouth open, serpentine tongue flicking. "Challa." Dianna frowned. "What do you want? I paid you already."

The human's shoulders drooped and bent inward almost if she was trying to make herself disappear. She blinked at the very obvious thing that was a demon.

"You did not pay me enough." The demon tracker hissed, laughing as forms stepped out of the shadows behind him. Dianna froze; jaw tightening as she realized she'd been double-crossed.

Lauren's skin rippled and she hissed as it thickened into hard scales followed by the sound of tearing flesh as wings emerged from her back. That was a bit painful and startling for Lauren.

Something bad was happening behind her, but Dianna dared not look away from the four demon hounds that were advancing along with Challa. She'd never seen four of them together, hadn't known four existed.

Lauren stumbled a bit not quite knowing how to use her wings. "What the hell?" She grumbled. "Hey kid, I'm here to help you, I only brought a few friends to kill you." She mimicked Dianna.

"Obviously not as much my friend as I thought." Dianna snapped back, slowly stepping backwards.

She hissed and then with a stumbling hop, step, and a jump, she got the wings to carry her up with a powerful contraction of muscle. She was up and over the strange woman and then sailing downward at one of the demons, feet first. Her foot knocking it down as it just stared at her, perplexed to what it was seeing.

Dianna would have laughed if the circumstances were different. The demon hound, which was different from a hellhound, had looked up with the most confused expression on its face as the kid sailed down at it.

Thankfully the previous night had given the half-demon some new wariness and she hadn't come to the meeting empty handed. The pistol had been tucked away in her pocket. It was small but the bullets were blessed with holy water. It made a large impact on the nearest demon hound as she shot it in the head.

"Run, idiot!" She yelled at the human.

The urge to kill was overwhelming, almost as bad as the headache that throbbed throughout her skull. The wings were annoying, although she could pull them around her body for some protection and quickly learned to flare them out to knock her attackers back. She roared out as the demon she had first knocked down bit her in the leg.

Lauren kicked out sending a demon flying back and then caught another and snapped its neck. She roared out enjoying the scent of blood and the feeling of the demonic life force snuffed out. Part of her was horrified and once daylight hit she would purge the contents of her stomach.

They were staying back now, watching her warily. "This place is mine." She growled out, body tense, ready to kill again.

Her leg throbbed and it was still bleeding but she ignored it, ignored everything but the enemies in front of her.

The two remaining demons slunk backward, melding into the shadows. "See you again soon, Challa!" Dianna yelled after him, grunting in frustration when the demon hound escaped. Only then did she take in the changes to the human. The pistol slowly lowered. "What are you?" The half-demon whispered.

Lauren wanted to go after them and her body trembled with tension for a moment then the wings absorbed back into her back through the ruined shirt. Her skin rippled and the scales melted away. She collapsed to her knees, crying. "Go away." Right before she vomited up the beer she'd had earlier.

"Yeah, like I'm that much of a bitch." Dianna shoved the pistol back into a pocket. Stepping around the vomit she bent down, holding the woman's hair away from her face as she wretched. "You can't stay here. They'll be back. You've made some big enemies if Challa flipped sides."

Lauren breathed out. "I can't control my thoughts, my emotions, my . . . anything. Where else am I going to go?" She sniffed and then sat back wiping her mouth with the back of her ruined shirtsleeve.

"That we just ignore until we figure out what to do about it." She held up a hand, quickly, before the human got upset. "Look. You need a safe place to stay and I'm, for some reason, offering one to you until you figure out what's going on. Obviously you've got problems."

Lauren automatically grabbed the hand, letting go once she was on her feet. "I . . . okay. I need to get my stuff." She thought about leaving it, but sooner or later she would need it again. Then there was a fear that someone else might find it.

She wasn't certain this was a good idea, but she was out of options, if those things had been here for her. "I didn't want any of this." She said to herself.

"We never do." Dianna said, watching the area around them. "Get your things, we can't stay here long. Challa's probably going to be back with friends as soon as he can get to the Gray zone."

Lauren nodded. Her back was cold, the night air licking across the skin through the ruined shirt. She shivered a little and then started moving toward her dumpster and the grate. With a little push, the dumpster was moved away from the wall and she pulled the grate out, sliding inside. The only thing she wanted was the bag. Everything else she would leave here in case she needed to come back.

"You were hiding in the sewer?" Dianna's voice echoed off the walls around Lauren. The redhead had stopped at the sewer grate, not moving an inch closer to the area where Lauren had just climbed down. She was staring into the black hole incredulously. Sure, she'd heard legends of people desperate enough to do that, but come on! No one really did that unless they were a rat, did they?

"Steam tunnels." Came the reply. "They stretch everywhere under the University. I can go to the gym and take a shower; I can get to the Dining Hall and get food, and other such things." She emerged with a simple leather satchel and a beaten up duffle bag.

The half-demon raised an eyebrow but didn't say anything as she turned and started walking back the way they'd come. "We need a taxi. I'm not running all the way back to the Gray to try and beat Challa. You all right with moving vehicles?"

Lauren nodded. She followed quietly, not certain what to say. "Why are you doing this?" She asked, suspicious but it wasn't like her options were that great. Being on the fringe of the human world gave her fewer people to interact with, to hurt, but she remembered this woman's bar was on the edge of the Gray, but then there was the problem of the Gray itself.

"It's complicated." Dianna sighed, running a hand through her hair. "Let's just say I'm doing my good deed for the year?" She didn't think Lauren believed her but then again it wasn't really the truth either so she couldn't blame the other woman. "Are you hurt?"

"I . . . . . ." She suddenly remembered her leg and looked down. "It's healing." The scales had made it hard for the thing to do much damage.

"You should have been cut in half by that winged demon by the way." Dianna kept her voice conversational and her eyes on the street ahead of them as they walked. It was too late to get a taxi in the university area but a few blocks over they should be able to find something in the nightclub district. "I saw its claws hit your chest. They went through cement."

That would explain the odd, dark marks on her skin. "I-I-I don't have any answers for you. I don't know what she did to me." Then she clamped her mouth shut not certain if she should say anything to this woman. There was a chance it had all been a setup, those demons attacking them, a ploy to create camaraderie between the two of them.

"She?" Dianna glanced over at the haggard woman at that. Expression softening at the look on Lauren's face. "Come on, let's get you somewhere you can sleep." She said gruffly, stepping out into the street and holding up a hand in front of a taxi. As far as she knew, that was the best way to actually force oneto stop for you.

The horn blaring and the screech of tires as the cab slid to a stop was really just sort of a bonus. "Here." She yanked open the door, shoving a hundred-dollar bill at the cabbie to get him to shut up before the cursing really got started.

Lauren felt a certain lassitude, envelop her now that the fighting was over. She had used a different vial and had gotten different results. The wings had been a very big different result, not that she had used them particularly well. Her eyelids closed slightly and she just really wanted to curl up someplace warm and sleep. Now that she'd killed, and the headache had gone away.

They rode in silence, she was uncertain what to say, and honestly the woman next to her was a little unsettling, in her tight clothes and with her boobs all . . . there.

"You don't talk much do you?" The half-breed asked, watching the human woman's reflection in the bulletproof separator between them and the driver in front as the taxi started moving.

Lauren fidgeted. "I . . . um . . . no." It was easier not to talk or say anything. Everything she said or did was held up next to her older sister's accomplishments. Everything became a backhanded complement. "I'm not really good with them."

"With words or talking to people?" Dianna smiled, keeping it as nonsexual as possible. It was pretty clear that if she teased too much the human was going to bolt right out of the taxi, no matter what speed they were going.

"Uh, with people." She fidgeted some more and looked out the window. "I just don't want to hurt anyone and sometimes . . . sometimes . . . I get urges to do things that I never did before. It's not like, I like living in steam tunnels and stealing clothes from random laundry rooms. I just know the University and it's easy to hide there." The words were stumbled over and hesitant, it was easier to talk when she was looking out the window at the city passing them by.

"When did it start?" Dianna asked, conversationally as if they were discussing what sort of coffee they enjoyed drinking. It wasn't the strangest conversation she'd ever had, but it definitely was the strangest she'd ever had with a human.

Although, come to think of it, there hadn't been too many normal conversations with humans other than in her bed or with Quinn. Which wasn't a fact she enjoyed dwelling on, so she didn't.

Tears welled up in her eyes, but she held them back. "Seven . . . nine days ago, doesn't seem that long for so much change. Demons came to the house they attacked us . . ." She trailed off, thinking. "Before that my sister, she . . . volunteered me for a drug study she was working on in Washington, but the first change came when those demons came into the house and attacked my family. I killed one of the demons, he was going to . . . rape my mother . . . I just snapped. It hurt, I remember the pain. Like my skull was going to split open." She thought she might get sick again and leaned forward letting the cool glass of the window press against her forehead.

Dianna closed her eyes as well, but for a different reason. Her nostrils flared as she gripped the seats. Damn, she'd forgotten how deep humans could feel things. There was no reserve with most of them; all of their feelings were just there out in the open, begging to be felt by everyone around them.

She could feel Lauren's pain and it was delicious.

"Stop." She ground out, gritting her teeth. "Think about something else. Anything else. A puppy or something."

Lauren looked at the woman quizzically, "I don't understand." Her expression changed to a frown. A hand tightening on the doorknob. "What's going on?" She was wary now. Uncertain if she was safe. Her monster moved closer to the surface, making her eyes golden.

Uncertainty was better than pain and Dianna let out a slow breath, hands unclenching. "The pain. I could feel your pain very strongly." She husked, keeping her eyes on the window on her side of the taxi. She just needed a moment.

Lauren considered tearing the taxi door open and fleeing. The only things she knew that could feed off of darker emotions were demons. Logic held her back. There was no headache, no urge to kill, and this woman Dianna, who was dressed like sex on a stick, was holding back. A demon wouldn't have held back.

She was quiet for a while as she focused on her breathing and counting imaginary sheep in her head. Her hand came off the door handle and then after a little more time she said. "The fact you're a half-demon should have come up sooner." She frowned. "I actually thought about killing you." What kind of fucked up thought was that? She'd thought about killing someone, she never used to have those thoughts.

Then she winced realizing she had. The delivery guy, she'd thought about ripping his nuts off and handing them to him, and the coffee guy who always fucked up her order, she'd thought about him slipping in some spilled coffee and bashing his head in on the counter. So she hadn't been as gentle as she thought, but she certainly hadn't acted on these thoughts before.

"There hasn't been much time for actual conversations with you. If you remember." The redhead said dryly. "Last time I talked to you, it ended up in you running out of the bar barefoot." She took in a breath, happy that the barrage of emotions had eased to a dull misery.

"Here we are." She said as the taxi slowed to a stop and she slid another hundred to the driver. "Thanks."

The answer was an unintelligible mumble that might have been you're welcome, but Dianna doubted it as she got out.

Lauren followed, the two bags clutched to her. She vaguely remembered the place, but she definitely remembered the cook, and her stomach growled. She blushed embarrassed by the noise. "Um . . . it's been awhile . . . since I ate." She turned her attention back to the bar. "You don't seem very Irish." She realized the words were stupid the moment they came out of her mouth. How would she know? Was there a certain way Irish people sounded except for the leprechauns on cartoons?

"You saying Theron isn't an Irish last name?" The bar owner said with a straight face, only breaking into an easy smile when Lauren started to stutter something. "Relax, I'm teasing, it's a joke." She unlocked the front door; the bar had been closed for hours now. "The building was here, but everything else was brought over from Ireland. Every stool, every piece of wood, the bar top, it's all from Ireland."

"That's cool." Lauren said just to say something as she followed behind Dianna.

Once inside she took her time taking in everything, she had just run out, last time. It actually felt worn and comfortable like your favorite pair of old jeans. "It's nice."

"Thank you." Dianna raised a hand, waving to Bob as she passed the man and his beer at his usual spot at the bar. Other than him, the place was empty as she kept on going toward the kitchen. "That's it? No questions about why I'd want to do something crazy like that? Everyone else always asks."

Helga wasn't there, but the redhead figured she could at least make the poor girl a sandwich or something to eat. Besides, if she got hungry enough then Dianna would feel hungry and that would result in more chocolate being eaten than she really wanted.

Lauren tensed seeing Bob, and the headache came back, throbbing in her skull. She took a deep breath and let it out. "He's a demon."

"He's also a customer." Dianna paused, holding the door to the kitchen open and looking back over at the human.

The old man didn't say anything, head still bowed, baseball cap pulled down low over his eyes as he stared at the warm bottle in his hands.

The golden glow was back in her eyes, but because she'd just killed two demons it was easier to resist. It took a moment for her to force her eyes from the back of his head and then with a deep breath and an exhale her legs moved away from Bob, and toward the kitchen.

"Is he safe . . . for a demon?"

"For a demon," Dianna agreed, closing the kitchen door behind them and setting to work on a pair of sandwiches. "He came in the first night I opened and he's been here ever since. Pays his tab, and doesn't talk. Pretty much the best customer I have."

Lauren nodded and then let out a sigh of relief once they were in the kitchen and Bob was out of sight. Her eyes blinked and the gold glow was gone. "Can I. . . . have a shower?" Blood was drying, caking to places on her skin.

"Right." Dianna frowned down at the sandwich fixings she'd just taken out. "Food first or shower?" She was bad at this being a hostess thing.

"Food is fine." She sat down, slowly setting her stuff down at her feet. She watched Dianna, wondering why the woman was helping her. She could believe the one good thing for the year, but it didn't make sense why it would be her. Then the sex thoughts were back. "Do you have to wear . . . uh . . . revealing clothes?"

"You don't like my clothes?" An eyebrow arched as the half-demon concentrated on spreading mustard and then cutting hunks of ham from what Helga had made earlier. She rather thought the tight-fitting black clothes weren't that sexy compared to a few of her outfits. Sure, the top hugged her full breasts quite nicely but she wasn't showing that much cleavage was she?

"No, they're fine. It's me, my thoughts are all over the place anymore, almost like someone else is having them." She gave a tight laugh. "I'm sorry, I'll be quiet." She swallowed and concentrated on the worn tabletop.

A few moments later, a plate with a large ham sandwich was set in front of Lauren, directly in her field of view. "You can say whatever you want." Dianna said, settling onto a stool across from her. "I was just curious if you were a prude or one of those religious nuts."

To hide her embarrassment Lauren took a large bite of her sandwich. She chewed for a long time and swallowed, but the blush was still on her cheeks. "No, not a religious nut, I was raised Catholic, which has caused all sorts of internal conflict and issues of guilt." And she was probably the world's oldest virgin.

She took another bite to make her mouth stop talking.

"Strange, the church never really welcomed me with open arms." Dianna sent a wicked smile across the table, picking up her smaller sandwich and taking a bite. "The bar opens at noon, so I'll be busy from then until closing. Except for Sundays and Mondays, we're closed for that. Tomorrow's Saturday, things tend to get, interesting around here on Saturday evenings." Best to warn the human now.

"Okay. I'll try to stay out of the way and under control." Daytime wasn't too bad but nighttime could get interesting. "Did you want me to leave? So I'm not in the way."

"No." Pale eyes snapped up as Dianna looked at the human. "I'm not running around the city chasing after you because my?" she paused. "You're welcome to go anywhere in the rooms upstairs, just stay out of my study. The door's locked, so you won't be able to mistake it."

"Okay." Lauren said, and then worked on finishing the rest of her sandwich. She would just need to do her best to stay under control. "I'll do my best." Done with the sandwich she wiped her hands on the same pair of pants Dianna had given her almost two days ago.

"Shower is upstairs." Dianna ate slower, studying the other woman. "Help yourself to anything in there." She wrinkled her nose. "And I'll set out new clothes for you. Maybe tomorrow we'll get something more in your size."

Lauren got up slowly and grabbed her bags, before heading for the stairs. She was starting to feel sleepy, that lethargy was working its way into her bones again. She paused on the first step and looked back at Dianna. "Thank you."

"Don't mention it." The redhead sighed, watching the human go up the stairs to her private level. "Seriously." She muttered, wolfing down the last bite of sandwich. "Don't ever mention it to anyone."


It was odd what sleeping in a real bed could do. At first it was nerve-wracking and scary, every little sound drawing her nerve endings tight, but finally she fell asleep. When her eyes blinked open, it was sunny and most of the day was gone.

The feeling of lethargy was still there even though she was well rested; she was just coming to associate the feeling with the vial with the red dot on it. There were clothes on a chair and she thought it odd she had slept through someone entering.

She held up the clothes and sniffed them; they smelled of detergent, nothing else.

Dressed but still without shoes she wandered around the room until boredom set in and then she headed hesitantly down the stairs.

There were voices out in the bar, people moving around and bottles clinking as they set up for the night to come. Helga was in the kitchen, standing on the small step stool that let her get high enough to stir the big pots on the stove. "Ah." The ever-present wooden spoon came out, pointing at Lauren.

"Come. Sit. Eat. Frau Theron said you ate sandwich." She made a phishing sound. "Nothing but skin and bones you are!"

"I, uh, thank you." She sat at the worn table again. Her hands smoothing nervously over the grained wood top.

"What are you? Spanish? Hispanic?" Helga demanded, setting a bowl of sausages and noodles down in front of the young woman. Not waiting for an answer, she climbed back on her stool, hunched back to Lauren as she tended her pots.

"American." Lauren said cheekily as she stabbed a sausage with her fork.

"Phaw. You are young is what you are." Helga muttered something else in German.

"If you look down the family tree you'll find someone who was from Mexico and on my mom's side Chinese." She shrugged, not arguing the young part.

"Without your history, you do not know who you are." Helga waved the spoon at her again.

"Helga, stop terrorizing the poor girl." Dianna shoved through the swinging doors from the bar, letting them flap closed behind her on the organized chaos going on outside. "She doesn't need an interrogation."

Ignoring the dark look she got from the cook, Dianna pulled out her own chair at the head of the table. "Don't mind her, she's just pushy and German." She said with a wink to Lauren.

"Is she a half-breed too?" Lauren asked between bites.

"Nope, just old." Dianna grinned, ducking as a dinner roll sailed at her head.

"I am not so old that I am deaf! If you wish to make fun of me, go somewhere else. I am busy." Helga commanded.

Lauren smiled at the interaction.

Ignoring her, at her own peril, Dianna watched the human. "Sleep well?"

Lauren nodded. "Yes, very well."

She focused on her food, uncertain what to say. Because one really didn't know how to start a conversation where they admitted to being addicted to something their sister gave them, that tended to give one demon-like aspects.

"Good." Dianna fiddled with a piece of paper, frowning. The bartender was in her bar-tending outfit. Short skirt with a light shirt and plunging neckline. The high heels just added to the overall impression. "I wanted to talk to you first, but I think I need to call Detective Quinn and let her know where you are."

Lauren tensed.

"You don't have to talk to her if you don't want to. This is the Gray Zone; police don't really have power down here." Dianna smirked.

Lauren knew it made her seem guilty of those murders, but how does one respond to witnessing said murders, being betrayed and used as a guinea pig by a sister, and starting a killing spree of your own.

"I don't know." She fidgeted. "I guess, I should talk to the police but what are they going to do about demons? Worse, I don't think I can handle being under the microscope of questions and procedures." She was afraid she'd snap and hurt someone.

"Then I won't tell her that you're here. But, hard as this is to say, Quinn seems to generally care if you're alive or dead. It will be easier if she knows you're alive." It would also help keep the detective from poking around off the record, which Dianna really didn't want.

Lauren sighed, her shoulders drooping. "I could maybe just talk to this friend of yours . . . here . . . just her, not a whole squad of them."

"Here?" Dianna winced. "Here?" She repeated, just to make sure she knew. "I mean, sure, here."

"Okay." She played with the lighter that she had somehow stolen off of Dianna, not really realizing she had done it. It was gold and shiny and part of her really liked that, since she had left her hoard back at her old hiding place.

"Hey!" The half-demon reached over, snatching it from her. "Get your own lighter."

Lauren gave a growl that startled her, and quickly dropped the hand that had been reaching out to grab it back under her ass so she was sitting on it. That way she wouldn't piss off the lady who was helping her.

With a strange look, Dianna tucked the gold lighter back into her pocket, not really certain how Lauren had gotten it off her in the first place. "I'll be right back. Just relax. You can go out in the bar if you want, but it's a bit chaotic right now. Deliveries for tonight just showed up."

"I'll stay out of the way and out of that room. I remember the rules, there weren't that many of them."

"Good to know. Helga, no terrorizing our guest." She moved out through the swinging doors, back into the chaos of the bar.

"Guest. You are now a guest." Helga shook her head, reaching for the salt.

"Is that a rare thing around here?" And why did Dianna have to wear shirts that put her boobs out there?

"Never guests." Helga shook her head, eyeing the young woman suspiciously as she moved to start cutting up a carrot.

"What?" Lauren said freeing the hand she was sitting on.

Helga snorted, moving back to the pots.

Lauren focused on her bowl, scraping it clean.

Out in the bar, Dianna found a corner booth where she could keep an eye on the half-dozen employees while dialing a number she'd rather not call. At least she might be bothering the detective on her day off, she hoped.

After the fourth ring, it was picked up. "Quinn." Came the out of breath reply.

"Am I interrupting something good?" Dianna purred, grinning. She really hoped she was.

"Damnit, Theron!" Quinn snarled into the phone.

"You were thinking of me during your special fun time? I'm touched. Or I could be if you wanted." Dianna laughed.

"Where do you think you're going?" Quinn grumbled next to the phone and then there was the sound of something heavy being slammed into the police cruiser. "Get in there and shut up."

Attention back to the phone Quinn frowned. "What was that? Never mind, I'm sure I don't want to know."

"Probably not." The redhead agreed. "Can you talk or are you busy having fun?"

"Yeah one second, I'm switching to hands-free." Quinn muttered as she got behind the wheel.

Dianna cupped her hand over the receiver. "Hey! Matt, make sure those kegs go in the basement. I don't want them piled up in the corner again!"

"I'm surprised you didn't have a witty innuendo for that. So what do you want, Theron?"

"Your missing human turned up." Dianna leaned back in her chair. "Alive and kind of well."

There was silence.

"Oh . . . great." Quinn was surprised; she really didn't think Theron would put herself out there for anyone. "After I book this guy, I can be down to pick her up."

"She's not going." The half-breed grimaced. "She doesn't want to go anywhere out of the bar. She's agreed to talk to you, one on one, otherwise no deal."

Quinn bit her bottom lip, her head bobbing side to side as she weighed the pros and cons of it.

"Oh come on Quinn, you're just dying to see me again." Dianna teased.

"You really think highly of yourself Theron. I'll be by in a couple of hours, to talk to her. Not for one of your infamous booty calls."

"Whatever you need to tell yourself." Dianna laughed and hung up. It was really fun playing with Quinn.

Quinn grumbled and hung up.


A few hours later as promised Quinn showed up at the bar. She thought about changing, or at least wearing a jacket to cover up her uniform but in the end decided Theron deserved any business that she lost.

A line was just starting to form outside of the bar, a mixture of human and half-breeds with even an occasional minor demon thrown in. There were humans trying to look like demons, and demons trying to look like humans. It was a confusing mixture, each group trying to be like the other. "Name?" The bouncer asked, sizing up Quinn as the police officer walked toward him. The man was obviously a half-demon, the scale-covered skin was hard to miss.

Quinn quirked and eyebrow and tapped her badge, "This means all access."

"Detective Quinn." He unhooked the red velvet rope, letting her into the bar beyond. "Ms. Theron is waiting for you."

"Of course she is. Really an Irish bar with a velvet rope, lordy if a leprechaun doesn't come by and kick you in the nuts."

There was a band setting up on the back wall, the four-man group were all bald and wearing authentic kilts. Large Scottish drums were being set up, giving a fairly strong hint as to what the night's music was going to be. Dianna, alerted by the bouncer, was already threading her way through the crowded floor toward the detective, a drink in one hand.

She'd sashayed, knowing she looked good, and proud of it. People paused to look as she passed, and watched her as she went, admiring the well-formed figure. Everything about her screamed sex and desire.

"Detective." She smiled, offering the glass. "Whiskey I believe was your drink of choice?"

"Dear Lord." Quinn muttered to herself watching the woman arrive and realized she should have changed; now everyone would think she was a dirty cop.

"Can't, I'm on duty." Which was a pity, it was good whiskey.

"I could sip it for you." Dianna purred, leaning in close to be heard over the general din of conversation around them.

"The girl, Theron." Quinn sighed in exasperation "and then you can get back to your mating ritual.

"You're never any fun, Detective." Dianna laughed, tracing a finger along the collar of the uniform. "She's upstairs. Care to follow me?" She didn't really wait for an answer, turning and walking with a suggestive sway.

That just made Quinn frown harder, but she followed, people didn't part for her as they did for Dianna, but she didn't mind shoving a few people around.

"Very butch of you, Detective." Theron smiled over her shoulder. "Perhaps you could shove me around later?" She pushed through the doors to the kitchen and the stairs beyond.

It wasn't like Quinn hadn't heard that before, people assumed most women in a male dominated field secretly wanted to be a man or was a lesbian. Or she met the freaks with a uniform fetish--there was a guy on Main who was always doing stupid shit so he'd get frisked by a lad or lady in blue. Then there was the opposite: the people who unexpectedly flew into a rage at the sign of a police uniform, a physiological disorder.

She was fine until they went up the stairs then it got interesting following behind Dianna as the skirt rode up as she stepped up the stairs. Fucking half-breeds and their unnatural beauty, seriously she had yet to meet an ugly one, and fuck Dianna for knowing how to work that sex appeal. She was going to start calling on different half-breeds when she needed help with a demon-touched case. It was her fault really, she'd come here.

"She's in the guest room." Dianna sent a smile over her shoulder at the cop, enjoying the effect she was having on the human. It was always fun to tease the good detective. "This is the second time you've been up to my rooms; people are going to start talking Quinn."

"Doubtful, since you aren't throwing me out, nor do I look . . . satisfied, like the other barely legal things you throw out your doors once the sun rises. They are going to think you're losing your touch or perhaps I'm here to do police work." Quinn shot back. Her gaze flicking to the safety of the handrail. Fucking demons, she thought again, for good measure.

"You haven't left here yet, Detective." Dianna purred, stopping at the top of the stairs and waiting for Quinn to pass her. "Third door on the right." She grabbed Quinn's arm, stopping her. "Be gentle. She's suffered a lot already." Pale eyes watched the Irish woman's face intently.

Quinn tried to hide her surprise, but there was a lot to be surprised about. Dianna touching her, which had never happened. Or Dianna showing concern for someone. "When demons are involved there's suffering. I promise to behave myself, no rough stuff. I will just talk to her about what happened, and I'll let her set the pace. You're welcome to stay if it will make you both feel better."

The half-demon blinked, dropping her hand. "Why would I care?" She folded her arms, which did nice things to her cleavage.

Quinn just gave a tight-lipped smile. "I didn't say that you did." Happy her eyes didn't lower, she moved past Dianna to head down the hall. She rolled her eyes as the half-demon didn't move at all making the police officer have to brush against her. She kept her hand on her gun out of habit not that she thought Dianna would steal it.

"I'll just wait for you here." The half-demon made no effort to hide the appreciative look she gave as the detective walked away. "I always did like a woman in uniform." She grinned, leaning up against the side of the hallway.

Quinn knocked on the door, and when she heard a muffled voice respond she opened the door. "Hi, my name is Maggie Quinn, I'm a police officer. Ms. Theron contacted me to come speak to you. Is that okay?" She said, step into the room and shutting the door.

The woman inside nodded, arms crossed across her chest as she sat in the only chair by the window. Dark eyes watched the detective suspiciously as bare feet poked out from under the new jeans she was wearing. "She said you would show up." Lauren said quietly.

Quinn smiled, softly, the young woman looked very lost and alone at the moment. "I'm just going to take out my notepad and a pen. Then I'm going to sit over here, so we can talk."

"I'm not going back with you." There was a hint of defiance in those dark eyes. "But I guess talking wouldn't be so bad." She swallowed, hesitant at the idea of talking about what had happened.

"Well, since you're an adult and I'm fairly certain you didn't have anything to do with the murders of your family, there really is no reason to bring you in. However, being the only witness it will help me out a lot to put a done stamp on this if you can just take your time and tell me what happened. Can you do that for me, Lauren?" She kept her voice soothing.

The younger woman shook her head. She didn't want to do that, running away was so very much better. "I? I don't think you'll believe me."

"You'd be surprised what I'll believe. You know I didn't always work this close to the Gray Zone. I was assigned downtown when I got out of the Academy, not a lot of demon activity in the heart of downtown. Then I got caught on a case, a man had sold his soul to a major demon, wanted power and glory, all he had to do was sacrifice his only son to the demon. So I've seen a lot since that case and now I don't work downtown, I work here on the fringe, and sometimes, sometimes I work nice neighborhoods where demons got in." She never looked away from Lauren, "So I think I'll believe anything you tell me."

The woman swallowed and ducked her head. "All right. But I warned you." She licked her lips, shuddering as she thought of what to tell the nice woman. "My sister, she did research work, did you know that?" It would be helpful to know what the other woman knew already.

"I know she worked for the government, although what she did exactly has been locked up tight." Annoyingly tight. "Would you like a drink or anything? I could have Dianna go grab something." Which was appealing, but might also have the woman relax.

Dark hair moved as Lauren shook her head, looking down at her bare feet. "No. Her cook made me eat just before you got here." She grinned a little at that memory, the grin dying as she licked her lips. "She did genetic work, of some sort. Susan, my sister, she was a bigwig in Washington, DC. She was running a trial on anxiety disorders, said I'd be perfect for it, so she included me." The door opened a little and she tensed, relaxing a bit when Dianna leaned against the doorframe.

The half-demon had been doing her best to linger outside, but it was her house, damnit! She should at least know what the human was involved in before Challa or someone else, tried to snatch her away.

"Things went bad after that." Lauren met Dianna's eyes, then looked away. Why did it always seem like the beautiful woman could tell what she was thinking? "The demons . . ." Her voice broke, remembering that night, the nightmare that had started.

"The demons broke into your parent's house, where you were living and your sister was visiting and attacked you. But they weren't after you, they were looking for Susan. Weren't they?"

Miserable, Lauren nodded and Dianna closed her eyes. The waves of emotion were hard to ignore and she was glad that she wasn't right next to the smaller woman.

"She was yelling at me to help, but I didn't know what she wanted. Then, they were going to?" her voice broke again and she wiped at the tears. "They were going to?" She couldn't even say what the demons had been about to do to her mother. "I hit one, and we went through the window together."

Quinn had the family photos of the Espinoza family back in a file on her desk; Susan and her mother had looked a lot alike. "That was incredibly brave and shows how much you loved your family." She looked up from where she was writing. "How did the demon's neck get broken?" It was an innocent sounding question.

"My hands." Lauren whispered, raising them to stare at the fingers as if she'd never seen them before. "I wanted him dead so badly and then I just kept twisting. The bones broke and . . ." she trailed off looking up at the Detective. "I just wanted him to stop."

Dianna twitched. "I'll get some water," she murmured, turning and leaving before the emotions overrode her sense of self-preservation.

Quinn frowned and looked over her shoulder as Dianna left. "Take a deep breath, Lauren. Can you do that for me? There are all sorts of demons and half-demons downstairs so if you let your emotions spark too much-well, they'll get a little more rambunctious than we like." Her pen tapped against the pad. "So you killed that demon. That's impressive, Lauren. Do you think the injections your sister was giving you had anything to do with what you were able to do?" She kept talking trying to keep the young woman from thinking too much.

Quinn would bet a week's pay it all came back to the older sister and that closed file.

"Maybe." Lauren stared at her hands again, remembering the sound of the demon's neck breaking as she twisted his head. "I think they've changed me." She looked up, staring bleakly at the detective. "I don't know what's happening to me." She'd grown wings last night! That had to be a bad sign, and then there were the cravings. The urges to kill the demons, even now she could feel them below her feet.

"You want to tell me what's happening to you?" If Dianna hadn't told her already what had happened in the house, she might not have believed it. That this young woman had killed a demon. It was still shocking but not overwhelming, she was able to press on, get her brain to think and ask questions. But she knew this, Lauren Espinoza was what those agents were looking for, and she didn't have a good feeling about them finding her.

"How can I tell you about something I don't even understand?" Lauren let her hands drop. She opened her mouth to say something else when Dianna reappeared at the door. The half-demon stalked past Quinn, shooting the agent a look as she offered a glass of cold water to the shaken human.

"Thank you." Lauren smiled hesitantly and Dianna surprised herself by instantly smiling back.

"Take your time." The redhead said, turning and narrowing her eyes at Quinn. "Detective, could I talk to you out in the hall?"

"Certainly." She got up, putting the cap on her pen, and then put it and the notepad into a pocket. She fished out a business card and walked over handing it to Lauren. "Lauren, anything else occurs to you or you just need to talk feel free to call me. That's my direct line." She then stepped out of the room.

"Yes, Theron?" Her tone was tight on the verge of angry. She hadn't missed that shared smile.

"You need to stop." The half-demon growled, after making sure the door to the room was closed. "Every half-demon downstairs can feel the emotions you're putting that woman through and it's going to get ugly if it keeps going. She can't relive those memories just to satisfy your curiosity. I already told you what happened at that house, don't terrorize Lauren just to prove me right."

"You told me the what, not the how. I was trying to create a link between the murder and the older sister." She snapped back and then bit her lip. "But you have a valid point. I don't feel emotions the same way you do, I didn't realize how strongly she was projecting."

She checked her watch and groaned, more than enough time on the clock to get another call or to type all this up. "Thank you, Theron. I'll do my best to keep those Government creeps away. I'll contact you when the girl's house will be clear. I assume it goes to her, but she'll have to contact a lawyer."

"You should stay." Dianna almost reached out to catch Quinn's arm, but she'd touched the human once this night and that was enough. "The music is going to be good." She could already hear the warm-ups from downstairs, the deep bass of the drums beginning.

The detective snorted. "I have things to take care of. Unlike you, I work a real job."

"Pity." The half-breed watched her walk away, before turning to see if her guest needed anything.


A pillow was kicked and it flew across the destroyed room as Green stared around him. He flipped open his phone and dialed a number. "I've got nothing. Just some clothes, her briefcase is missing."

There was a grunt over the phone. "Quinn is back at some Irish bar on the edge of the Gray Zone. This is her second trip here. The owner is a Dianna Theron, nice to look at as all half-breeds are. Not certain if Quinn is dirty or fucking it."

Green shoved the mattress back. "No, everything on Quinn indicates that she's straight but she might be dirty. Her husband and 2-year-old were killed; husband sold his soul to some major demon, sacrificed the son. I'm pretty sure that means she isn't a lesbian. Maybe it's just a call-in?"

"I have a gut feeling about this place, Green."

Green sighed and sat down in a chair. "We need those vials. We need to know what Susan did."

"I can grab Quinn when she comes out; take her someplace where we can have a more thorough talk."

"Not, yet. Let's not push our hand yet."

There was grumbling. "Understood."


Leaving Lauren to her own devices, Dianna went back downstairs after making sure the human had more food and water. She'd offered the use of her laptop and the small selection of books she had in her own room.

The library in her office was off-limits of course.

The bar was crowded, people already dancing as the band stirred them up. The emotions washed over her and she smiled, stunning the customers who were near her as she slipped behind the bar.

This was why she held these parties every Saturday. The wild rush of emotions from the people packed in with her, rolling over them. There was a wide range of emotions, but most of them were good and she felt herself perk up in their presence. Most of the half-breeds in attendance that night were there for the very same thing. It was part of the reason the bar was so popular.

The rest of the week it was a quiet haven, but Saturdays were a celebration of being alive.

"We're doing good business tonight boss!" Pixie yelled, bare abs shiny with sweat as she hustled past Dianna to fill orders.

Good business was great news; there were always people to pay, or demons, legal and less than legal.

Picking a spot at the bar she dove into the fray, helping the bar staff out with handing out drinks and taking orders. The kitchen closed early on Saturdays, Helga refused to stay through the insanity, as she called it.

The emotions lit up this part of the Gray Zone, a beacon of happiness and life, a reprieve from the normal misery. It was, Dianna often thought, the only reason that the bar hadn't been fully swallowed into the Gray.

It was intoxicating, the heavy drum beats pounding through them all, and Dianna knew she was drunk on it all. There was no need for alcohol on nights like this, the emotions around her were more than enough for that. Lust coursed through her and by the time the crush at the bar had slowed, she'd found her target for the night.

Usually she'd take them back to her room and kick them out by the morning, but Lauren was in the guest room and she shied away from her usual method.

"Hey." The human husked, eyes dilated in the dim light as Dianna slid up to her.

"Hey." The redhead grinned, sliding her hands across the slender human's hips and watching her shiver. Oh, this was going to be so good, she could tell already. Leaning in she kissed her, feeling the thrill of the forbidden from the blond-haired woman. Wordlessly she slid her fingers across the woman's skin, pulling her tight against her. "Hmmm." She hummed, feeling the human's heart rate speed up.

"This way." She pulled the human with her, leading her to the food locker next to the kitchen. Helga would kill her if she ever found out, but the cook wasn't there and she was horny.

It was hard and fast, the human giving almost as good as she got and Dianna toyed with the idea of taking her upstairs where she could lay her down on the bed.

Again the idea of Lauren stopped her though and she sent the disappointed blond on her way just before last call for the bar.

It took another hour before the last of her employees said goodnight and she left Bob alone at the bar to head upstairs. The high from the quickie and the emotions of the bar patrons was starting to flag. Tiredly she went upstairs, pausing outside of Lauren's room. The door was closed and she couldn't hear or feel anything from inside. Hopefully that meant the girl was sleeping.

"Sorry, Sissy. I didn't come to say goodnight but things got crazy when Quinn showed up." Dianna flicked on the light after unlocking the door to her private study. Yawning again she moved over to the portrait, picking it up and returning it to it's spot on the wall. "I'll do better tomorrow. Two days off sound good right now." She smiled up at the woman in the painting. "It was a good night. Did you feel that? We rocked the house, everyone had a good time."

As always there was no answer and Dianna chuckled, turning to leave.

An open book on her desk caught her attention and she moved over to look closer. It wasn't a book she recognized, but that wasn't unusual. Strange books had a habit of showing up.

Frowning she turned on the reading light so she could see the yellowing pages in front of her.

"What is this?" She glanced up at the picture and then back at the book, the frown deepening. "Celtic legends?"

Her eyebrows furrowed. "The legend of the Maiden, Mother and Crone?" It was a legend she was familiar with and she snorted. "What, you think Lauren is the Maiden, that makes Quinn the mother and I'm the crone? Gee thanks, Sissy." She closed the book, shoving it across the desk. "You're crazy. The human's just here until I figure out how to help her so you can stop bugging me. Quinn doesn't even factor into this."

She turned off the lights, pointedly ignoring the book.

There was no link among the three of them.

Dianna just wished she could make herself believe that beautiful lie.


Quinn tiredly sipped reheated coffee at her desk. She was staring at the report she had put together after her conversation with Lauren. But in her gut she had a bad feeling about submitting it, well, about the feds knowing where Lauren was. She spied the Chief going into his office and quickly got up rushing inside.

Larry Herbert hadn't aged well due to the nature of his work and the fact the Gray butted up to his district. What hair he had was gray, his nose full of broken veins that only a hard drinker could have, and his eyes were always droopy and had fully packed bags under them. Other than that he was in decent shape. He set his briefcase down and turned around with a little cry of surprise; finding Quinn right there.

"Jesus, Quinn."

"Sorry." She muttered.

He just looked at her and then sighed. "Shut the door."

She did and they stared at each other for a moment. Finally, she cleared her throat and set the report on his desk. "I have located Lauren Espinoza."

He made no move to pick up the paperwork. "And?"

"I have a bad feeling. If I file this then the Feds will know where she is?."

"You think they might endanger her?"

"Not deliberately. But I think they're here about the older sister. All information on Susan is classified. They won't tell me where she was staying, since I know she wasn't staying at her parent's house and they're tailing me."

He frowned and sat down. "It figures they would keep us in the dark. They were probably working on bringing back the extinct vampire and I'll find a whole nest under the Public Library." He grumbled out. "Do you have anything that would connect Lauren to the murders?"

"No, both demons have been brought in dead. Their prints match those on the bodies. The third blood drop can't be matched because it's corrupted."

"So murderers found and brought to justice, the survivor can't be linked to the murderers in any way. Drop it Quinn, we've got more pressing matters than babysitting government types."

"Is that wise sir?"

"I know you have eight open cases, Quinn; why are you in here wasting my time." He barked out. Then reached over and picked up her report and threw it in the shredder. "Case closed, and I couldn't care less what happened to Lauren, now go solve some crimes."

She smiled. "Yes, sir."


Sunday mornings had become a set routine for Dianna Theron. She slept in, indulging in the fact that the bar would be closed that day and recovering from the chaos that was Saturday nights. Usually she would be kicking a human out of her bed by sunrise, but since there was no human today, she slept until nearly ten.

Then it was time for long hot shower, the hot water turned up until it was almost blistering. Sunday was the only day she wore anything approaching casual clothes, tight fitting jeans with a short T-shirt and broken-in sandals.

There wasn't any sign of her guest by the time she came out of her rooms, so she went down to the kitchen and decided it was time for a little more indulging. Cooking in general wasn't something she enjoyed, or was particularly good at, but pancakes were something else altogether.

Pancakes and bacon were very nearly the perfect Sunday brunch and she mixed up the batter keeping an ear out for movement above or the visitor that was the other, less pleasant, part of Sundays.

The visitor beat her guest, which was probably a good thing, just as she finished making the pancake batter. Three loud bangs on the security door for the loading dock, just as always and Dianna sighed.

"Time to give the devil his due." She muttered, setting the bowl of pancake batter in the fridge and moving out into the quiet bar.

"Morning Bob." The old man lifted a finger, head hunched over as he peeled the label off the beer bottle.

That was more of a greeting than she normally got and she placed a fresh cold one in front of him as she retrieved a thick brown envelope from the lockbox she'd put it in the night before.

Another bang on the back door and she sighed. "I'm coming!" The redhead shook her head. "Impatient bastards."

The door was down a small hallway that separated the main bar area from the public restrooms. It was a heavy, metal door that was definitely thicker than normal, but then again so was the front door. She unlocked the deadbolts that held it secure when the bar wasn't open and shoved it open.

"Took your time, Theron." The weasel-faced man outside sneered at her as she stepped out.

"Nice to see you too, Bachi." No way in hell was she inviting him inside. He was taller than her, but stooped at the shoulders and rail thin as if constantly starving. The black leather trench coat that he thought so fashionable hung off him like it was draped over a skeleton.

"It would be nicer if I came inside." He smiled, revealing jagged teeth that were pointed like a shark's.

"No, it wouldn't." She held out the envelope, making certain their fingers did not touch when he took it. "Here's the weekly cut."

"It feels lighter than last week's." Black eyes stared at her and she shivered.

"It isn't." You couldn't show weakness, ever, to a demon. It encouraged them to exploit you. "If your boss has a problem with it, I'm sure he'll let you know."

That made Bachi snarl, but he slid the thick envelope into his coat.

"You know I could always take less from you if you were willing to invite me in." He licked his lips and she fought the urge to vomit at the mental image of what he really wanted. The lust rolled off him in waves.

"Are we done here?"

The tip of a pale-blue tongue licked his lips and this time she couldn't quite hide the shudder.

"For now." He turned to go.

She waited until he was down off the loading dock before calling after him. "Tell Dad, I say hi."

He grunted and kept moving, but she smiled anyway. It was always fun to rub that particular detail in.

Turning she very nearly walked right into Lauren, the human standing stock still in the doorway, eyes shimmering as she stared down the alley the way that Bachi had gone. She hadn't heard the human move, or even her arrival and that was troubling in itself.

"Lauren?" She asked, more tentative than normal. How long had she been there? What had she heard? "Are you all right?" She could see tension trembling in the other woman's muscles.

Lauren blinked. "I'm . . . I'm fine." She rolled her shoulders, easing the tension there. She looked around as if realizing where she was. "I felt a demon, there was a demon here, and his intentions were . . . not good." She really didn't want to voice what his intentions had been.

"I know." Dianna sighed, reaching out to shepherd the human inside, her fingers pausing just short of actually touching the other woman. "You should go inside; it's not safe out here for you."

Lauren let Dianna herd her back inside. "It's not safe during the day?" She almost giggled. "If any part of the day is safe it's daytime." She sniffed getting distracted. "Pancakes?"

She knew Bob was there, but it was easier to ignore his presence even if she didn't trust it.

"I was making the batter when?" Dianna shook her head, not wanting to discuss her weekly payments. "I'm not Helga, but I can make a mean pancake if you want?" She nodded to Bob as they entered the kitchen, letting the door close them off from the empty bar area.

"Pancakes sound great." She said sitting down. "So does Bob just come with the place?" Finding it odd that the demon was here even when the bar was closed.

"He's always here. Came in the first night I opened and hasn't left yet." Dianna answered distractedly as she pondered what pan she could use for two servings of pancakes. She hadn't made pancakes for anyone else for a long time now. "Bacon?"

"Yes, please." Lauren replied politely.

After a moment where Lauren really didn't know what to say, she randomly said. "Your cop friend was nice. I'm sorry I couldn't hold it together, everything is still more raw inside than I thought."

"She's not my friend; she's not your friend either." Dianna slid a tray of bacon into the oven, a trick she'd seen Helga use once that had saved her a lot of grief with bacon over the years. The pan was hot enough and she started out with a small test pancake. "She's a detective, her job is to enforce human laws, don't forget that."

Lauren frowned. "Then why did you call her, if you don't like her. Besides part of you is human and I think I might still be human." She frowned, not sure.

"I'm not sure what you are." Dianna admitted honestly. "And yes, I like Quinn." She shut her mouth on what she'd been about to say. Since when did she talk openly with anyone? Much less a person she'd only known for a day? Frowning, she concentrated on flipping the pancake, giving herself a moment to think.

"She's a good person but if she finds out you broke the law, then she's going to arrest you." There that was safe enough an answer.

"I'll keep that in mind." Lauren said seriously. "So is there anything I can help you with after I eat." She frowned for a moment. "I don't actually have a lot of skills other than reading and researching."

"I don't suppose you can research why Challa would be interested in betraying what was a very expensive payment to get you?" Dianna asked hopefully, making certain that each pancake was golden brown before adding it to the two plates. Lauren was almost painfully thin and she added a couple more to her dish before checking on the bacon.

"Or whatever it is you're addicted to?" She asked, mildly, keeping her attention on the bacon.

Lauren flushed, and played with her pancakes for a bit. "I'm not really certain what a Challa is." She took a huge bite of her and chewed then another. Once her plate was about empty she spoke again. "I'm not really the kind of person that stands out, or is special in any way. I'm kind of a doormat. My sister works in some big government lab, she told me she was working on a drug that would prevent anxiety, told me I'd be perfect in the study. My whole life, you know what my parents have said to me? Why can't you be more like your sister." She played with her food for a second before continuing. "So I agreed. She would come and visit and inject me with the drug. Nothing really changed, not that I noticed and then the demons attacked. She grabbed me and ran me out into the living room where her bag was. My mother was screaming and she injected me with something. Then she was babbling at me to stop them, to kill them. Me, I've never . . . well I wasn't certain how I was supposed to stop them and then they came bursting into the room and I ran away until I heard Susan's screams. Then, then it was like I was a guest in my own body." She shoved a whole pancake in her mouth so she'd shut up.

Wordlessly, Dianna piled bacon onto the free space of Lauren's plate. Keeping a couple for herself she moved over to the table, sitting down across from the human after getting them a couple cups of coffee to go with the brunch.

"The thing about addictions," she said after a few bites, "is that they get worse, they just don't magically disappear." She knew plenty about addictions. "I don't think it's a normal drug, like Meth or cocaine, whatever she injected you with it's more than that. Even PCP wouldn't let you have enough strength to kill a demon." The half-demon smiled, "and it sure wouldn't let you grow wings."

"I have her bag. Her business card is in there. I could call her office, talk to someone . . . I guess." She shrugged.

Dianna thought that over as she took another bite, studying the pale woman across from her. It would be easy to overlook Lauren in a crowd she realized, although the woman had her own sort of innocent beauty. Mentally shaking herself out of such thoughts she took another bite of bacon. "Maybe Quinn could use that. The FBI want to talk to you too, and I'm not sure they'd be as nice as Quinn was."

"Do you think I should talk to the FBI? I'm not really I don't want anyone experimenting on me."

"I wouldn't trust the FBI to do anything other than what they want." Dianna cradled the cup of coffee, peering over the rim of it at Lauren. "So no, I recommend you give the card to Quinn and maybe she can do something useful."

Lauren nodded and then ate the rest of the food on her plate. "I get massive headaches when I'm near demons; they seem to get better once I kill them. I find that unsettling and it makes me a little sick to my stomach. Half-demons seem to be fine. The more I kill the more I need to inject myself, as well."

This was definitely a strange brunch conversation, but Dianna went with it. She admitted, at least to herself, that she was curious about the human woman. "How many injections do you have left?" She got up, moving to get another helping of bacon for the woman.

"Three vials." The woman shrugged. "Probably enough for a while. I don't really know."

"Here. You need to eat more." Dianna put more bacon on her plate and then stretched, arcing her back until her spine popped, shirt riding well up her toned stomach before sitting back down. "To answer your earlier question, Challa is a demon hound. Not a hellhound, they're different. He helped me track you down and then apparently had a better deal on the table to try and capture you. I have a few friends, well, acquaintances, trying to find out who's so interested in you here in the Gray."

"That doesn't sound good." She swallowed nervously. "Did you tell your cop fri . . . um, Quinn . . . did you tell Quinn this?" She looked up at Dianna studying her face.

"No." Dianna tilted her head to one side, pale eyes meeting Lauren's darker ones. "This is the Gray Zone, demon stuff is beyond the cops' ability to do anything about it. Human laws don't exist inside the zone." She grinned a little, eyes mischievous. "You've never been inside there have you?

"Yes, well, kind of. I killed a demon on campus and I dumped the body into the Gray. It was . . . hard to walk away; even now I can feel the gray in the back of my mind calling to me."

"Then you felt it." Dianna stretched back in her seat. "You felt what it's always like in the Zone. That constant fear and knowing that there's something stalking you."

Lauren blinked. "No, it was like a craving, because I knew I'd find prey to kill. I wasn't afraid of it, only of losing myself in it. If I entered, I'd never be Lauren again."

The half-demon blinked in response. "Oh." That was definitely not the answer that a human normally gave. "Craving." She sat back upright. "Then you stay here. We're on the boundary here, not in the normal world, not in the Zone. You're safe here, for now."

Lauren nodded and picked up her plate to wash it. "Thank you again for helping me."

"Don't mention it." Dianna sighed. Which meant she was going to have a guest for a while. "Let's get some house rules straight, all right?"

Lauren looked up from where she was rinsing off her plate. "Okay."

"No going into my study. No exceptions, got it?" Dianna was firm on that point.

"What is in your study? This is the fourth time you've gone off on it. Do you sacrifice virgins in there?"

"Sacrifice is not what I do to virgins." Dianna leered despite herself.

Lauren blushed and looked down at the dish. "You're very sexual; do you do it on purpose?"

"No." Dianna smiled from where she was sitting. "It's part of me. Does it bother you?"

"No . . . yes . . . a little." She set the plate down and started washing the other dishes dirtied to make breakfast. "Lately sometimes, at the University, I'd find myself staring a pretty woman and having . . ." Her cheeks turned even redder. "Not very nice thoughts."

"Do tell." Dianna purred, smile growing. "Please. Think of me as your personal confessor if it helps." She might as well get something out of this arrangement.

She cleared her throat and looked up at the woman and then down. "Well . . . I . . ." She floundered, completely flustered.

"You liked the look of some of those women?" Dianna prompted, resting her chin on her palm as she watched the human intently. "The way they move, their breasts, legs, the way they move?" Yes she knew she said the way they move twice, but it was important.

"Before I . . . well, I lived with my parents, my very Catholic parents, so I never did anything. It would be too hard. But I had normal thoughts about what it would be like to kiss and touch someone. Now . . ." She nodded. "Yeah, normally it was the women wearing those tight shirts that revealed a lot. Suddenly, I would really want to go over and drag that woman away somewhere. Hold her down and do whatever I wanted. Taste their screams."

Both eyebrows rose up. "My, my." Dianna murmured. "All sorts of darkness curling around in you." She studied the slim wisp of a woman washing dishes.

Lauren let out a breath and rubbed her heated cheeks, trying to get the red to go away. "I know. That's not normal or right."

"Lauren." Dianna pushed up, moving over until she was close to the other woman. "There is no normal here, nothing is normal in the Zone. Right is a concept that you bring with yourself." She tapped her fingers, twice, against Lauren's left shoulder.

Lauren looked over at Dianna. "I'll try to remember that, but I was raised Catholic; it's hard to let go of all that indoctrination."

"Guilt." Dianna sighed, and moved away. Guilt wasn't an emotion she liked. "Second rule. You're welcome to enter the bar, but no killing my patrons. The bar's a neutral place, fights stay outside."

Lauren nodded. "I'm getting better. I didn't even growl at Bob today."

"Good." The half-demon smiled. "Progress. The bar's closed today and tomorrow, but we get deliveries tomorrow. Otherwise, we'll have the bar entirely to ourselves." She cocked a hip up against the countertop, eyes watching Lauren. "What did you want to do?"

Lauren shrugged. "I don't know. Normally I go to church with my parents then we have dinner." And then she would sneak off to her room to read one of her battered lesbian romances.

"Church." Dianna winced. "The nearest church isn't a place you want to go to. Dinner I can work tonight though." Dear god, had she just volunteered to cook?

"No, that's just what I did on Sundays. I didn't like church, I think the priest suspected I was a lesbian; he always, well, he creeped me out. I'm kind of boring."

The half-demon's eyes narrowed a little. "Oh." She didn't understand. "You must like to do something?"

"I like to read and . . ." she frowned. "I liked going to the zoo and watching the big cats, and on my way home from the university I'd stop outside this club that played jazz and listen. Sorry, I'm not very exciting."

"Lady, you grew wings and killed the demons who'd killed your family. That's plenty exciting." Dianna pushed off from the counter, moving toward the stairs. "Jazz, that I can help you with though."


Quinn yawned and rubbed her eyes; the keys on the typewriter she was using were starting to blur. Before she'd transferred here, in her last district they'd had computers. They also had more than enough officers, two to a car; she hadn't had a partner in years.

She looked over at the clock, she'd have to patrol as soon as she finished this up. Check on contacts and snitches police work took a lot more work with demons involved.

"Detective Quinn." The voice was familiar as the two Feds walked toward her desk through the darkened squad room. Agent Green smiled pleasantly as he walked toward Quinn. "How good to see you again. We were beginning to think you didn't like us anymore." Agent Ferris walked along quietly behind him.

She blinked and looked up. "Gentlemen. I sent the formal report to your supervisor in Washington; I'm surprised to find you still here. Maybe he hasn't gotten it yet."

"We got it." Green moved closer, stopping near the Detective's desk. "We don't think you gave us all of the information you know in that report. Perhaps you forgot to put something in it?"

"Middle-class family murdered, CSI shows two different demons responsible, both demons killed, one by a department authorized demon hunter, public feels happy and safe and my supervisor has told me to close it and work on more important active cases. Not sure what you want from me, but I don't have the luxury of a government job where I can go fly into towns and stick my badge into business while I stay at the Walden Hotel, which is four stars at least." She snapped back. "So what exactly do you think I left out? The part where the case is closed or the parts where you're getting in my way by tailing me across the city everywhere I go."

"You left out that you met the sister." Green's smile wasn't quite so pleasant anymore. "You left out whatever you talked with her about. You also left out why the demons would kill this particular family and who killed the first demon. Leaving things like that out makes me think that maybe, you're not doing your job." The smile was definitely shark like now. "Or maybe you're just hiding what the demons pay you to hide?"

Most people would have broken or slipped up but Quinn had once killed her own husband and the demon tart he'd been fucking.

"I'm pretty certain I'll never figure out why those demons killed that family because your branch refuses to give me any information on the older sister, who was probably poking her nose in to the affairs of demons. That pissed them off and they were actually there just to kill her but the rest of the family was collateral. Only I'll never figure that out because you're stonewalling me. As for the younger sister . . ." She smiled. "Prove it, and prove that I'm dirty."

"Under the Demon Act of 1945 we don't really need to prove you're dirty, Detective." The ever-present smile was now angry. "We just have to prove that you're aiding and abetting demons."

"Dianna Theron." He called after her. "Interesting bar owner. Not licensed as a full demon, but then again it's so hard to tell sometimes."

"Then you're stuck behind a desk toomuch Agent, if you can't tell the difference between a real demon and a half-breed. Stop fucking with me Agent, you've been lying through your teeth since you said hello."

She turned and with her back straight, stormed out of the building.

"Not very cooperative, is she?" Ferris said.

"No, not really." Green answered, shrugging.


Quinn yawned again, the coffee she had drank hours ago, long since worn off, all it left her with now was heartburn. She was going to close her report of the university for lack of evidence and people didn't care about dead demons, only dead people.

The cell phone in the dash started to ring as she waited at the red light.

Quinn sighed and thought about not answering it, she was almost off, nearly two in the morning on Monday, she didn't want to think about how much longer she'd have to stay up if she answered it. Finally, though, she did. "Quinn."

"Quinn! How's it going?" The male voice on the other end sounded a bit rushed. "Look, I know it's been a while, but you got time to talk with your old beat partner?"

She laughed. "Mikey, Jesus, are you still beating the pavement at this hour?"

"Yeah, you know how it is with people who do real work." He laughed. "Not like you big fancy detectives. Look, something funny happened down here, I thought you'd like to come take a look."

"Really, Mikey?" She sighed. "Only for you buddy. Where are you at and what am I looking at?"

"I'm not sure, but I think it's a demon. You know the interstate overpass at 17th Street?"

"Yeah, I'll be right there. If you feel threatened at all, call in for a hunter. Don't be a hero."

She flipped a bitch at the light and started heading back the way she came.

It was well past two AM by the time the detective arrived downtown. They were well away from the Gray Zone, nearly in the downtown core of the city. A car was parked under the overpass; the dark sedan flashed its lights twice at Quinn as she drove closer.

She parked next to it and got out. "Kind of out of my jurisdiction, Mikey." She said with a grin. "Okay, what do you want me to look at?"

The sedan's doors stayed closed, its dark windows reflecting the light from the sole street light in the entire area.

The entire car bounced a bit though, as if someone inside had just jumped up and down on a seat.

Quinn frowned. "What the hell, Mikey? Quit jacking off and show me what you wanted me to take a look at." She knocked on the window.

The entire car bucked up and down, rocking almost a half a foot on its suspension. The driver side door buckled outwards, the glass shattering. Something inside shifted, glowing eyes peering out at Quinn.

Startled, Quinn shouted out. "Fuck!" Instantly she was retreating, hand going for her gun.

This was not good.

The car bounced again and with a squeal of metal tearing, the entire driver's side door flew off, tumbling into the darkness. The thing inside of the car screamed, high-pitched and barely human.

"Fuck!" Quinn shouted again and then took off for her car. She ripped the driver's side door open and slid on to the seat slamming the door behind her. She fumbled with the keys but got the engine turned over.

She yanked the radio to her mouth and pushed a button, "this is Detective Quinn, I am being pursued by an unknown demon, I am at the overpass on 17th . . ." She cut off as something heavy landed on the car jostling the receiver out of her hand.

The thing leapt, clearing the dozen or so feet between the other car and Quinn's in one leap as it landed on her hood. Claws dug into the metal and it screamed at her, its disjointed jaw unhinging and the creature ripped the antenna right out of the car's roof.

Quinn swerved and then regained control of her car. She kept steady on the gas while her right hand fumbled for her personal weapon she kept hidden on her ankle. The one she loaded with bullets made from a melted cross and blessed.

Once free, she raised the weapon and fired.

It screamed again, tumbling off her hood and the car shuddered as Quinn ran over a large bump. Claws raked under the car, shredding metal as the car ran the thing over.

Quinn let out a breath but didn't slow down. She fumbled for the radio again setting the gun in the seat next to her. "This is Detective Quinn requesting back up and a Hunter. I am on 17th Street heading back toward the Gray Zone."

Belatedly, she realized she was reaching nobody as the creature had destroyed the antenna and threw the thing down with disgust, reaching for her cell phone.


Quinn blinked and groaned; she was hanging upside down. She blinked again and then hit the release for her seatbelt, she remembered wrecking her car. She'd done it on purpose to kill that little fucker, she hoped it had worked.

She eased out of the shattered window and wiped blood out of her eyes and then gave a startled scream of pain as it felt like a hot poker was being jabbed underneath her knee.

She'd give the little fucker his due, he didn't give up chasing her until he'd caught up with her again.

A clawed hand was sticking out from under the wreckage of the car, it twitched once, twice, and then clenched into a fist. The car shuddered, shifting as the demon under it started to move again even after getting sandwiched between the car Quinn had been driving and the parked cars she'd used to try to kill it. A heave and the car rocked, almost releasing the demon as it screamed in rage.

Quinn grimaced and started running to the only place she knew where she might get help. Her cell phone calls went nowhere, which meant someone was blocking her cell signal.

She tried to turn right down the street she wanted but her leg gave out and she tumbled, rolling over and over, her head hitting the cement and causing another gash on her face.

She scrambled up and pulled her gun, firing it at the quickly approaching demon before running down the street. That thing was damn fast and she had to wonder if Dianna would just smile when she read about her demise in the paper.

The bullets punched through it without slowing it down much, the thing leapt, clearing distance between them alarmingly fast. The Gray was very close by; shootings probably weren't even going to be reported to the police.

She was slowing down; frantically she searched around for anything that could be used to stop it, but came up empty. Ahead she could see the bar and felt herself deflate as she saw the lights were all out, weren't bars supposed to be open all the time.

She dug deep and tried to move faster, wondering if she should just stop and eat a bullet.

It would be better than what the demon would do.

Dianna was going to be pissed at her. She leveled her gun at the large front window and fired several rounds giving her a better chance of jumping through it. She wasn't going to have time to ring the doorbell.

Lauren sat up, a headache exploding behind her right eye. She was up and staggering out of the bed before the first pieces of glass landed on the downstairs floor.

"What the fuck?" Dianna yelped, jerking upright in her office chair. It was only two am, early for her to go to bed although Lauren had gone to sleep hours ago. Standing, she pulled the completely illegal sawed-off shotgun from its resting place under the desktop.

The last time someone had broken a window it had been a group of church fanatics that she'd scared off with a shot in the air.

The time before that though, it had been a deranged demon.

A quick jerk and the slide-action shotgun was loaded as she rounded the desk, heading for the stairs. "Lauren!" She caught a flash of a white shirt and then the human was down the stairs. Damn she could move fast, Dianna thought, sprinting down the stairs after the human woman.

The half-demon could feel it now, a hunger that bordered on frenzy. Whatever was coming wanted to kill. Her hand automatically hit the light switches as she flew through the swinging doors from the kitchen to the main bar. The overhead lights burst into life just as a human shape hurled in from the street outside, through the broken stained-glass window.

She almost shot it as it landed, but at the last second hesitated when she realized the hunger wasn't coming from it, but something outside.

There was no graceful way to jump through a window. Quinn raised a shoulder and ducked her head, pieces of jagged glass cutting into flesh. The impact of her landing made her knee give out; it crumpled heaving her into the ground. She slid along the broken glass into the stools where she lie dazed.

The demon followed in moments after Quinn, it paused for a moment staring at the human as if savoring the soon to be kill, and then moved forward.

It was an ugly one; Dianna had to give it that. Muscles showed through rips in the thing's gray flesh and torn skin, long arms ended in curved claws while its face looked oddly disjointed since ita jaw hung so low to accommodate large fangs. Lauren had skidded to a stop in the middle of the room and was staring at the thing in what almost looked like fascination as it stepped through the broken window.

Moving around the body lying by the bar, which the half-breed realized looked suspiciously like Quinn; she raised her gun, cursing when Lauren got in the way. "Get down!"

Lauren tilted her head and looked back at Dianna almost mockingly but then stepped back, unconvinced that the gun would be any good against the thing. Her own skin bubbled and then hard scales formed over her skin.

In the years that she had owned the bar, Dianna had fired the shotgun a total of three times. Twice had been in the air, which meant this was only the second time she'd tried to kill something. Usually there were other ways to avoid conflict that she preferred, but she could feel the thing's intent and there was no way to avoid death tonight.

The sawed off bucked in her hands as she pulled the trigger. The normal lead shot was actually melted down metal from blessed crosses. On a normal demon it would have ended things right there. The pellets ripped apart the skin on the thing in front of her, but it kept moving. The disjointed jaw lowered and it screamed as it moved faster than she'd expected.

Long arms caught her with the force of a semitrailer and she went cartwheeling away, slamming into the wall behind the bar in a shower of shattered whiskey and hard liquor bottles.

Lauren hissed and then with her own super-human speed, attacked the creature. Her long, wickedly curved claws stabbing into the thing over and over.

It howled and tried to turn to face the new threat but even before it could do that Lauren reached up and wrenched its head. The loud noise of bones breaking echoed through the room and the creature flopped dead to the ground.

Golden eyes flickered around the room and then she moved to the broken window searching the night for other threats. A car roared off but other than that there was dark silence.

A low groan finally broke that silence as Dianna crawled out from behind the bar, still clutching the sawed-off shotgun. One look was enough to ensure that the thing was dead and she managed to get up on her knees to see to the cop. "Quinn?" She grimaced as she moved, shards of glass from the bottles shifting in her back. "You alive?"

"Mostly." Came the croaked reply. Glass was digging into her skin everywhere and she could feel the sting of various cuts. Consciousness was tenuous and painful; she let out a deep breath and let the darkness swallow her, now that she was fairly certain she wasn't going to die.

"Great. Stay that way." Dianna used the bar to pull herself up to her feet. "Lauren." She swallowed, feeling the waves of emotion rolling off the young woman. "Lauren, it's dead." Those golden eyes were watching her and she wondered if the shotgun would stop the human.

"Pity." Lauren hissed out. "It was too focused on Quinn, to be a good fight. Its whole purpose for being was to kill her." Her head cocked to the side as the dead creature started to twitch and then the skin bubbled and smoothed away revealing very human features.

Both Lauren and Dianna blinked, that had been unexpected.

"Shit." The half-demon swore softly. "I was really hoping you were the only one they'd been doing that to." She looked up from the dead human on the floor to the suddenly human looking Lauren.

"I'm hungry," Lauren replied, "and we should probably cover your window before something else comes in." Part of her was still horrified, another part of her was extremely satisfied with a kill. In a few more moments she'd be more human than demon and then she'd probably throw up. Her eyes were still gold even though the scales were gone. She shuffled over examining the dead man, and frowned.

The window comment snapped Dianna out of her momentary lapse of movement and she went back to the prostrate Quinn, wincing at the bloody gashes. "First we have to keep our newest guest from passing out again." Grabbing the first aid kit from behind the bar, a necessity in a bar frequented by demons, and a large bottle of clean water, she crouched back down by the cop.

"Ready to get felt up?" The half-breed grinned, undoing the cap to the bottle and holding Quinn's head steady as she cleaned the blood off the head wound. The gash was right at the hairline and was bleeding sluggishly. "Hold still, this is going to sting."

Through it all Bob continued to sit at his spot in the bar, barely glancing down at the mess of blood and cop.

The sting of whatever Dianna was cleaning her with, broke her out of the pleasant fog of unconsciousness. She jerked and mumbled. "Bitch."

Blue eyes fought to open and she really wished she was dead, she imagined this was how a punching bag felt.

Lauren found a broom and started sweeping; finally, she poked Bob with the dustpan until he looked at her then she just glared at him until he got off the stool and started helping - even if it wasn't much.

Since that was the first time that she'd seen Bob move off the bar stool, Dianna jerked in surprise when she saw it. "Sorry." She winced in sympathy at the yelp of pain from the wounded cop. "Hold still you big baby. I don't think you'll need stitches for the head wound, the butterfly bandages should hold it still. Now let's get those pants off you."

"Um." Lauren spoke up. "Maybe you should take her upstairs and away from all this broken glass before you play doctor. Bob and I will get this cleaned up and make sure the wildlife doesn't get in." Lauren didn't know a lot about the Gray, but sooner or latter something would be attracted to the blood, a hurt cop, or all the pain coming off the hurt cop.

"Good idea." Dianna sighed. She stood up, slinging the first aid pack over her shoulder and then bent down, lifting the semiconscious cop up into her arms. It was a little tricky avoiding hitting Quinn's head or legs on anything, but she managed without opening any new wounds.

"Be careful of the feral hounds, they'll probably come sniffing around with all the blood. There's wood in the back store-room you can use to board up the window, I'll get it replaced tomorrow." Dianna hesitated, not certain what to say to the younger human woman, instead, she just nodded and headed for the kitchen stairs.

"Bet this isn't how you dreamed of getting into my bedroom." She quipped to Quinn.

"I'm pretty certain I've never dreamed of it, Theron." Quinn croaked out. This was the most humiliating position she'd ever been in, she'd never really been this helpless before. The side of her face felt like road rash and her knee was throbbing in time with her heartbeat. "I'm also certain I'm not pretty enough or brainless enough to get an invite."

"Don't sell yourself short." Dianna hoped Lauren wouldn't do anything rash with the shotgun she'd left behind downstairs. Jerking the top covers aside, she gently lowered the wounded cop onto her bed, keeping an ear out for any problems downstairs.

"These have to come off, and it's going to hurt." She murmured, undoing the belt at Quinn's waist and then the buttons of her ruined slacks. Being this close, she could feel Quinn's humiliation and pain, it radiated off the human. Best to change those emotions, quickly, so she looked up and quirked a grin. "Who says the ones I bring here are brainless? I don't discriminate."

"I've seen them on occasion Theron." She grimaced in pain as her steel-toed boots were yanked off then it dawned on her that all her clothes were probably coming off. She didn't have any options, not really. She knew a setup when she saw one, that had been a setup.

If she called it in, she put Lauren and Dianna in danger. "I think I dropped my service revolver downstairs, it's important I find it." She babbled not really wanting Dianna to see the hand print seared into the flesh of her collarbone. Dianna would know a demon mark when she saw one. This one had come when she'd sent that bitch back to hell; she'd tried to take Quinn with her.

Her thoughts were jolted rudely as the heavy utility belt came off and then her pants, exposing the swollen mess that was her knee. "Jesus, it's the size of a pumpkin."

"Naw, your breasts aren't that big." Dianna responded absently as she tossed the ruined pants aside and carefully started to pick glass out of the wounds. "You should go to a hospital you know." She felt quite proud of herself for remembering that.

Quinn glared at her for that comment. "You sure you didn't used to be a guy, because you sure talk like one." She sighed. "I can't." She wasn't certain it was remotely safe to go to a hospital; of course it probably wasn't safe to stay here.

"Then stop complaining, I'm doing my best here." The knee was as clean as she could get it, Dianna was pretty sure she'd gotten most of the glass shards. "Here." She wrapped the knee in bandages and helped Quinn stretch out on the bed. "Now for your shirt." She raised an eyebrow with a daring look at the cop.

"My vest really prevented any glass from harming my chest, if you have a shirt and give me a moment I could change myself." It sounded desperate even to her ears and there was the fact that if she tried to sit up she was probably going to hurl.

The redhead snorted and batted Quinn's hands aside as she started removing the shirt and bulletproof vest underneath. "I always wondered how uncomfortable wearing one of these would be." Dear god, was she actually making small talk to try to make Quinn, of all people, feel better?

"It's really uncomfortable until the first time you get shot then you stop caring." Quinn replied, resigned. Her eyes started to drift closed, the burst of adrenaline that she'd gotten when Dianna had carried her up the stairs wearing off.

"Relax, Detective." The redhead undid the vest, revealing the simple bra underneath. "I'm not going to force myself on you." She pulled up the kit and once again started to clean the gashes on the detective's side which she'd probably gotten going through the window. "Unless you want me to, of course." She couldn't quite resist saying, eyes flicking up to the burn prints on Quinn's shoulders and then away without comment.

"I told you I don't swing that way." Even though Dianna made it really hard because of the sexual energy the woman exuded. "I don't even stare at your tits anymore when you're wearing those shirts." That had taken a lot of self-will.

"Guess I'll have to try harder." Dianna purred, running a finger across the wounded woman's stomach. It really was far too much fun to aggravate the detective. "There." She taped off one last bandage. "We'll change them in the morning before I help you with a shower." The grin was downright evil, and she knew it as she leaned over Quinn and pulled the blankets up over the woman to keep her warm.

Quinn was happy that she was in so much pain she didn't even react to the finger Dianna had run over her stomach. "Fucking half-demon." She muttered out, but it lacked any real bite. Her eyes fluttered shut, but her face grimaced in pain. "You have anything for pain?" She asked.

"Yes, but you won't like it." Dianna leaned in closer, pale eyes filling Quinn's vision.

Quinn blinked and tried to move back but had nowhere to go. "What do you mean I'm not going to like it?" All she was talking about was an aspirin, if she were lucky, morphine.

"Shhhh?" Dianna breathed, lips just barely brushing Quinn's, her hands sliding up Quinn's sides to gently touch the human's temples. "Breathe." She whispered eyes closing as she felt for the pain that trembled through the other woman's body.

Quinn was in no shape to push the other woman away and too startled to do anything but let out a squeak of air. Slowly though her eyes closed and she began to breathe in and out. Through the sheet she could feel Dianna's body heat but in a few seconds she was asleep.

The half-demon leaned back, eyes closed as she shuddered. She'd just tasted Quinn's pain, drawing it out of the other woman and it had been just as intense and beautiful as she'd expected. How deeply these humans felt their pains and pleasures, she always thought that was one of the reasons demons were drawn to them like moths to a fire.

"Sleep well." She husked, finally managing to stand and leave. Time to find out what Lauren was doing.

"I'm serious Bob, part of me really won't feel bad about ripping your spine out your asshole, now help me get these boards up and nailed into the wall. It's not like I can do it by myself. Besides I did save you from that scaly dog thing." Lauren said sounding exasperated.

"I'll help." Dianna shot Bob a look, shaking her head as she saw the man had retaken his seat at the bar top. "Threats don't do much to Bob. I'm not really sure that's his name anyway, I just started calling him that." She paused to pick up Quinn's service revolver and place it on the bar top with her shotgun.

"Aren't we the threatening one tonight?" She murmured, sashaying up to Lauren and helping her pull the heavy wood over to the broken window. "Threatening to rip out Bob's spine. Very butch of you." The redhead winked.

Lauren blushed. "Sorry, it's the demon thing inside me, its still close to the surface so it was either run my mouth or kill Bob. I'm trying. There was a car out there, it burned rubber pulling out, once the demon was killed." She hefted another large piece of plywood, "I think we should get rid of the body now before someone comes to investigate . . . I . . . I just have a bad feeling."

"Always listen to those, especially in the Gray; they'll save your life." Dianna lifted up the plywood, holding it in place while Lauren used the cordless drill to screw it into place. "We'll take it out back a ways; the hounds will take care of it for us." Then maybe she could get a shower and pick the glass out of her back.

She watched Lauren carefully, seeing the flushed look and the way she moved with purpose. It was a far cry from the wallflower who'd sat across from her at brunch this morning.

Lauren brushed her dark curly hair out of her eyes and finished the last screw. "What?" She asked when she caught Dianna looking at her. "Did I do something wrong?"

"No." Dianna swallowed. Damnit, she was still hyped up from the pain she'd taken from Quinn. "Just noticing how lovely you look when you feel alive."

"Oh." Lauren blushed. "Thank you. Uh, how is your frie . . . Dectective Quinn?"

"Sleeping." Dianna brushed her hands off and studied the wood with a critical eye. The two-inch thick plywood sheets should hold for the night. Turning she raised an eyebrow at the blush. "No one's told you that before? You really do have lovely eyes and your face glows when you're fired up."

That just made her blush harder. "No. Not really. When your older sister is amazing, you frequently get forgotten. I remember bringing home report cards I got good grades--a solid B, but my parents would say 'Oh, Lauren why can't you be smart like your sister." She gave a weak smile at the memory.

"Report cards?" Dianna looked blank for an instant. "Ah, school." She smiled a little sadly. "It sounds like a lonely childhood. Did you have friends?"

"Coworkers." The sad smile turned into a frown. "And now?"

"Now I seem to have impulse control problems. I really don't trust myself back in my old life." Although it was tempting; let's see that slimy delivery guy undress her with his eyes now, ha, she'd probably feed them to him.

"Hmmm." Dianna's lips quirked at the feelings from the human. She turned and headed for the bar. "I need a drink after that wakeup call, you want something?"

"I.. uh.. don't really . . . sure." Talking had made the demon inside go dormant and the shakes were soon to come, maybe some vomiting. The body was still on the floor in the corner.

Two tumblers were produced and placed on the bar, filled halfway with a mixture of dark liquors along with a little something special that Dianna always liked. The half-demon offered one of the glasses to Lauren, following her glance to the body. "Here. I'll drag it out back." It probably was disturbing the human to have it in the bar, she reasoned.

"Thank you." She said taking the glass. "I know I killed it, but more and more I feel like two different people."

"Hold that thought." Dianna grunted, picking up the dead weight and half carrying, half dragging him out the back of the bar. Where she unceremoniously dropped him in the middle of the back alley. She could already hear the wild hounds nearby, there wouldn't be much left of the body by morning. Wrinkling her nose she stopped by the public bathroom to wash off her hands, Lauren had done a job on demon boy back there.

"Two people?" She prompted, sauntering back toward the bar.

"One that's horrified and one that enjoys . . . that . . . killing." Which was a sin. She sighed and took a sip of the drink.

"Your inner demon?" Dianna tried not to sound as if she was teasing, but it was hard. "That part that wants pain, did you have it before your sister started using you as a lab rat?"

"No, of course not." Then her shoulders slumped. "All the time. I just didn't. I always had a little voice whispering to me. Like, like . . . Okay, at work there's a guy who delivers the papers to the library, he's always undressing me with his eyes, it creeps me out. I never did anything about it, just ignored it but part of me wanted to go rip his nuts off and shove him down his throat."

The redhead took a healthy sip of her drink, licking her lips before leaning across the bar. "Lauren, all humans have that. I don't know why people think demons are the only ones with evil in them. We just don't bury it." She grinned. "But then again, most humans can't act on their impulses like you seem to be able to."

"I'm going to hell." Lauren said with a sigh and took another, big swallow.

"Why?" The other woman looked genuinely curious.

"Cause all this is wrong, bad, wrong . . . and . . . and . . ." She shrugged, really not having an argument.

"Have you killed anyone who wasn't trying to kill you? Have you killed anyone who didn't deserve it? I don't think even the human god will send someone like you to hell for that. Besides, I think it's your sister who's in hell right now." Dianna tossed back the last of her drink and refilled the glasses.

Lauren winced a little at that. She might be unhappy with Susan but she didn't want to think of her in hell. "You're right, I just have all this internal . . . stuff."

"I know." Dianna smiled. "You people feel things strongly, you even more, I think. You've hidden away most of your life haven't you? Stowing away your emotions. That doesn't make them go away though, just compresses them, makes them stronger."

She had to laugh, if a week ago someone would have told Lauren that she would be getting drunk in a demon bar at the edge of the Gray she would have hurt something internally laughing. "This is the most fun I think I've ever had." And the most free she had felt and the sad part was her family had to die so she could feel this way.

"This is nothing honey." Dianna purred, with a waggle of eyebrows.

As if on cue, Lauren turned bright red.

The bar owner laughed, downing the last of her drink. "You should get some sleep. Your hands are starting to shake a little." Which she doubted was related to sleep.

Lauren smiled and then impulsively reached over and gave Dianna a quick hug. "Thank you again. I-I really don't want to think of what would have happened to me if you hadn't helped me." She slid off the stool with her drink and made her way up the stairs after a quiet goodnight to Bob.

The half-demon stared after her, shocked silent by the hug. People didn't hug her that just didn't happen. Kiss, try to seduce, strip, ogle, yes, but just hug?

"Guests. I might as well open a bed and breakfast, Bob." She groused, flipping off the lights and heading upstairs after double-checking all the doors and windows.

Behind her, Bob raised his beer bottle in the darkness and took a sip.


That demon bitch was screaming at Quinn, screaming in that demon language that made her feel like the blood was boiling her brain. Alvera clawed at Quinn, hands on her shoulders burning with heat but she didn't waiver, shoved the muzzle of her gun into that bitch's mouth and started unloading. At this point it might be a relief to die. She was so fucking hot, sweat and burning flesh and pain. Quinn woke up screaming. She thrashed in the sheets trying to find her gun, if she didn't that thing was going to drag her to hell.

"Your gun's hanging from its holster, on the closet door." Dianna was sitting, very carefully staying where she was, on the chair farthest from the bed. She'd meant to simply grab clothes to wear for the day, but Quinn's nightmare had caught her.

A faint bead of sweat trailed down the side of her hairline as she clenched her fingers.

"What?" Quinn blinked, her tongue felt thick and nearly useless in her mouth. She was warm, so goddamn warm. She got free of the sheets, not realizing she was naked or where she was.

"The gun, the one you wanted, it's hanging from the door on the closet." Dianna said, pronouncing the words carefully.

She looked around blinking at the light. "She's going to . . . we need to be careful . . . because . . . okay." She nodded her head dumbly, her thoughts fuzzy due to a fever. She tried to stand but there was something wrong with her knee.

The redhead unfolded herself from the chair, moving toward the bed and catching the cop before she swayed and fell over on her face. "You're hurt. There was a demon attack." The human's skin was burning against her fingers and she swallowed at the confusing emotions swirling through Quinn's mind.

Quinn frowned, trying to think was difficult. "Demon? Alvera?" No, that wasn't right, Quinn had survived that. That had happened years ago, Alvera was banished.

"No. Not Alvera." Dianna whimpered. She had to get Quinn back into the bed and stop touching the cop. She could almost see glimpses of the human's nightmare now.

"Wrecked my cruiser." She remembered parts now, she slumped against Dianna. "It ripped out my antenna and my cell phone calls for backup went nowhere." She mumbled.

"I know." The redhead guided her back to the bed, picking her up and laying her down on the sheets. "You've got a fever; the demon might have had some sort of poison." She wasn't sure, but it was too fast for an infection from the glass cuts.

"Am I going to die?" Quinn asked, poison was never good.

"Do you want to die?" Dianna pulled a sheet up over the naked cop. More to reduce her own temptation than to help Quinn.

"Not really. I haven't survived all the shit in my life to let them kill me with an infected scratch."

"Then you probably won't die. Will to live is important in these things." Dianna left for a few moments, going into her bathroom and returning with water and a few pills. "Here, for the fever. I can't do anything about that." She had to help Quinn sit up and placed the pills in the cop's mouth.

Quinn nodded and swallowed the pills no fight in her to argue.

"Are you hurting?" Dianna knew the answer to that, but she decided to at least give Quinn a choice.

"I've felt better. Mostly it's my knee." She was becoming more coherent now, her eyes losing their glassy gaze.

"Do you want me to take your pain away?" Dianna whispered, eyes traveling down the length of the sheet.

Dianna's shirt wasn't buttoned up and Quinn really didn't have the strength of will right now, not to look. "Huh?"

"The pain." Dianna leaned down until her head was sharing the same pillow as Quinn's, stretching out her body so it was just barely touching the human's. Only the thin sheet separated them. "Do you want me to take it from you?"

"Why?" She asked, remembering vaguely Dianna had done it before but why help her at all, that was confusing. They didn't not like each other, but they didn't like each other. Didn't they?

God, Dianna was warm; she could feel the woman's body heat through the sheet.

"Because I can feel it, and I can help." Dianna bit her lip. "Why do you have to be so difficult?"

"Because if I were easy, you'd get bored." It took a second but Quinn frowned as she thought over what she said. "I meant . . . I don't know what I meant." It was hard to think, with Dianna so intimately right there.

"You're charming when you stutter." Dianna chuckled before taking pity on the cop. "Shhh." She whispered, hand coming up to cover Quinn's stomach through the thin layer of sheet as her lips pressed against the human's temple. "Sleep." She whispered, drawing the pain out of the body next to hers with a tremble of excitement.

Hands shaking; she pulled away, leaving Quinn to her healing sleep. Twice now she'd taken pain from the Detective. There could not be a third time, not without repercussions she doubted Quinn would be pleased with.

Her head buzzed from the emotions she'd just taken in, Dianna stripped and took a long hot shower in the adjoining bathroom. Where she quickly brought herself to two long orgasms, in both of which she thought of two completely different human women.

Bad, very, very bad she scolded herself as she toweled off and got ready for her Monday. There was no way she would allow herself to become connected to anyone, especially not a cop and a girl who'd never lived her own life!

With that thought firmly in place, and wearing form hugging black pants and top, she went to her study. A quick check at Lauren's door revealed no sign of wakefulness inside yet, which was good. The half-demon wasn't sure she could deal with more humans right now.

"Sorry Sissy, that took longer than I thought." She apologized to the painting, taking it down off the wall and placing it on its stand by the window. "Quinn was having a nightmare, a strong one and I couldn't get out. All taken care of now though." Was it her imagination or was the woman on the painting ever so faintly laughing at her?

"Don't you dare laugh at me! You're the reason they're here in the first place. I should throw both of them out right now. I don't need this aggravation; I have a bar to run, unless you've forgotten?"

The painting looked just as amused as it had before and Dianna threw up her hands. A night of sleeping in the office chair had not been a great way to try to sleep.

"I'm going to get food." She grumbled to herself, locking the door behind her as she went downstairs. If Sissy was going to laugh at her, she could do it alone in the study. She liked her mornings off, time alone she could spend however she wanted. Usually that was sleeping, but since both beds were taken up with guests that wasn't an option.

And how the hell, she wondered as she started the coffeepot and went to see if there was a paper this morning, had she lost both of her beds to people she wasn't sleeping with?

"Morning Bob." She flicked on a couple of lights for him and checked the plywood over the windows. They hadn't been broken into which was a good sign.

Another reason she'd slept like shit, she'd been clutching a shotgun to her chest most of the night.

There was a paper outside the front door, something you could never count on this close to the Grey. Paperboys had a habit of just suddenly disappearing, which was why she got her paper delivered by a troll-like demon down the block. Unfortunately, he wasn't the smartest demon ever and every once in a while forgot to deliver the paper and ate it instead.

Closing the door, and locking it, she went back into the kitchen and settled in with the first cup of coffee to see what misery the human world was reporting.

She'd just taken her first sip when her pale eyes focused on the headline. The coffee was spewed from her mouth as she doubled over coughing. The drops spotted across the paper, doing nothing to hide the picture of Quinn in full color on the front page, under the headline "Cop Kills Partner!"


Lauren sleepily shuffled down the stairs, her curls were a mess on top of her head, another reason she had decided to let her hair grow out. She peeked out into the bar checking everything. The whole scene from last night gave her a bad feeling, but what did she know about the affairs of demons. She was just a research assistant.


Dianna gave her a weak wave; carefully folding up the paper she'd just finished reading. "Coffee if you want it. How are you doing?" Instinctively the half-demon tried to distract as she tried to figure out what she'd just read.

"I'm good. I only threw up a little once reality sort of sunk in. I just have . . . a bad feeling about last night, and it's not going away. More and more I'm learning to trust those feelings." And she had injected herself again; that always made her feel very good.

Dianna's pale eyes flicked toward Lauren's arm and then away. "Saturday morning I asked friends to look into who would have sent Challa to backstab me. None have gotten back to me, which is strange. Something like that is usually whispered in every shadow of the Gray within hours."

"What would keep the Grey quiet?" She asked as she disappeared into the kitchen and then emerged with a cup of coffee. Or cream with a hint of coffee as her coworkers used to tease her.

Dianna took one look at the muddy mixture and wrinkled her nose. "No more good coffee for you, I might as well brew you the instant stuff." She took a sip of her own cup and sighed. "I don't know. Something that has them all scared, there are a lot of options for that."

"That doesn't sound that good." She said sipping the mixture. "I know the Gray here isn't as massive as bigger cities but still to have every demon inside it scared silent."

"Not good." Dianna agreed, with another sigh. "There might be someone I could ask, but I won't unless there is no other option." Grimacing, she thought of the contents of the paper folded up on the bar in front of her.

Lauren had figured out not to pry, because without Dianna something bad would have happened to her that night. "Okay." She sat down and said to Bob, "morning."

Since Bob was the scintillating conversationalist Dianna had always known him to be, the half-demon spoke up again. "Quinn's been poisoned. Not badly, but she had a fever this morning." She took a sip of coffee. "She should live."

"That's good." She glanced at Dianna from the corner of her eyes. "Right? We want her to get better."

"Yes." It came out a bit quicker than Dianna had intended. "Sooner she's better the sooner she can go home." There, that sounded more like herself. "That thing that you killed last night, you didn't see a police badge on him anywhere did you?"

"He had nothing on him. Penises really aren't that pretty, it's little wonder religious groups are always trying to cover them up in art." She blushed a little when she realized she'd said that out loud.

The half-demon laughed, hard enough that her eyes watered. "Oh, that was perfect." She kept chuckling, as she wiped at her eyes. "Well, thank you. That improved my entire morning." She slid the paper over to Lauren. "Don't drink your coffee when you read the front page."

Lauren opened the paper slowly as if it might bite her. Her eyes widened slightly and she looked at Dianna. "Do you think it's true?"

"Probably not." The half-demon watched her through half closed eyes. "What do you think?"

She flipped through the paper. "I think . . . I think there's no picture of the victim." She frowned as part of the story sunk in, and she paused to read it in detail. She felt tears pool in her eyes. "The other day she told me a story, to make me feel better; I didn't realize that she was talking about herself. She killed her husband when he sold his soul, they're using that as proof that she's demon touched because nobody could face up against a major demoness and win without losing part of their soul. I think it's sad that this same story probably was spun to make her a hero, now makes her a villain."

"I never told you this; if you tell her I'll deny everything." Dianna spared a sharp look at the younger woman, waiting for a nod before continuing. "She had a son, the father's deal with the demoness led to the boy's death. Quinn killed them both, father and demoness; she has the scars to prove it. She has the respect of a lot of people in the Gray zone because of that."

"That's horrible." Lauren wiped away a tear that had escaped.

"That's the Gray Zone." Dianna looked away.

Lauren cleared her throat and did her best to get her emotions under control. "Sorry. How about I go make breakfast?" She got up but was back a moment later to grab her coffee.

"You're making breakfast?" Dianna arched an eyebrow watching her take the coffee mug. "Do you know how to cook? Helga's not due in today; we're officially closed until tomorrow."

"I can manage breakfast." Came the response.

"Then try not to burn down my lovely bar." Dianna closed her eyes, listening to the clanging around in the kitchen. "You have to be careful with your emotions." She said after a few minutes. "Demons love emotions, the stronger the better."

"I'm working on it." Came the annoyed reply

"No, you're reacting to things." Dianna frowned. "This is important, you can't let yourself feel lust every time you see my ass, or sorrow every time there's a sad story. When you go into the Gray it'll get you noticed and then something's going to try to either kill you or use you."

"I don't feel lust every time I see your ass, it's your breasts." The last part was mumbled under her breath. "Go check on the cop or something. I'm trying to make breakfast."

Dianna rolled her eyes. "Now I'm a nurse?" She stood though, and took the paper with her as she went back upstairs. It had been a while, maybe Quinn would wake soon.


"It's like I'm running a bed and breakfast." Dianna grumbled to herself, taking the paper with her as she went up the steps to the private rooms on the second floor. Why did she keep getting stuck in the same room with Quinn? It wasn't good for either of them, and of course there was the little problem of what to tell the good detective about the newspaper article.

Straightening her back, and suddenly wondering if she should have shown less cleavage today, Dianna entered her bedroom. It had only been a few hours since she'd first gotten up, maybe Quinn was still asleep. She could always hope.

Quinn was still sleeping. Her face slack and relaxed, but as if sensing Dianna her eyes fluttered open. The fever had reduced, but her mind still felt like her thoughts were moving through a mud bog. She took in Dianna and dismissed her. Then took in the room, and her state of undress, the throbbing knee and quickly examined what little she remembered. "So how bad is it?" She asked her voice cracking and she swallowed to get moisture into it.

Without answering, the redhead walked passed her to the bathroom. The tap ran for a few seconds and she came back with a full glass of water. Perching on the edge of the bed, Dianna slipped a hand under Quinn's neck to help her up a bit so she could drink some water.

"Your fever's going down. That's a good sign. I don't know about your knee, might be you'll need a cane for a while." She brushed her fingers across Quinn's forehead, testing the temperature.

Quinn was silent; she drank the water and waited. This wasn't them snapping at each other, verbally sparring. Dianna was being nice and caring, she didn't know really how to act. So she stated facts, facts were sharp and clear they could cut and make people bleed but they didn't fester and disease like lies.

"I wrecked my cruiser trying to kill the demon chasing me. I think I hurt my knee in the wreck." She was silent for a moment her thoughts organizing. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have come here, but it was the only thing I could think of. Not a lot of options when something is trying to kill you."

"You mean when a demon is trying to kill you." Dianna leaned back, bracing an arm against the bed and lazily watching Quinn. "Except, it wasn't a demon. When Lauren killed it, which is another story, he turned back into a human."

Quinn opened her mouth and then shut it. That was a terrifying thought, demons hiding inside of humans, living bombs just waiting to go off. Then she got a bad feeling. "What did this human look like?"

"Black hair, average height, male." The half-demon raised an eyebrow, wondering what the cop was thinking of. "Looked scraggly, like he hadn't had a lot to eat in a long time. Why?"

There was a brief flash of hurt and sadness and then it was gone, followed with the distasteful reality that somehow she was going to live a life of disappointment and second bests. "That's not much to go on. But it sounds like my old partner Mikey, when I worked downtown. He called me right before my shift was up, wanted me to come check out what he thought might be demon activity. I thought it was kids messing around. You don't really have to wonder if it's demon activity."

"You think they," whoever they were, "did the same thing to him as Lauren? Made a human into a demon?" That was a scary thought and the redhead frowned, not liking it at all.

"Whoa. What?" That got her attention. "Lauren? That scared little rabbit upstairs does the same thing?" She was sure the fuck out of the loop.

"I told you that was a different story." Despite herself Dianna smiled, amused with the look she was getting from the cop. "How did you think she killed that thing otherwise? I thought detectives were supposed to pick up on things like that."

"We also don't assume things without facts, because that just makes an ass of u and me. Seriously, I figured it was all about the older sister. She worked for the Government, her files are all classified, and the Government agents won't tell me squat about her or what she was working on. They just want Lauren, which I thought meant she knew something about the sister's work she shouldn't."

"She is the sister's work." Dianna reached over, picking up a business card that Lauren had given her and showing it to Quinn before flipping it back down on to the nightstand. "That's the sister's address of where she worked. I was going to give that to you when you could do things like stand up and walk without collapsing."

Quinn didn't get it. One would assume they were making humans into demons to help the human race but then why send one after her. She stared at the card in thought for a moment before she blinked coming back to the here and now. "All right. I need a shower, clothes, and a phone." She should call the chief; they'd declare her dead soon. That would be a nightmare of paperwork to straighten out.

The redhead looked away, generous mouth turning into a frown. "Why? Who are you going to call?" Damnit, she'd hoped for more time.

Quinn frowned. "My supervisor, I got one call out on my radio, that I was being attacked by demons before it got ripped out. They've bound to have found my wrecked car. Jesus, Theron, they're probably wasting valuable manpower looking for my body."

"I don't think you should call anyone, Quinn." Dianna looked back at her, pale eyes softening with something close to pity. "I think you should just concentrate on getting better here and then we'll see what we can do."

Quinn's eyes narrowed. "How fucked am I, Theron?" She asked quietly. She'd never seen Dianna give her that look before. The flirting, the quips, the sarcasm she could deal with. Not this look of pity, this was not something they did for each other. "What the hell aren't you telling me?" It had to be bad for her to be getting that look from the woman.

There was no good way to say this so the half-demon simply reached over the bed, picked up the folded over paper and wordlessly offered it to the detective.

Quinn read the paper, her lips thinning into a straight angry line. How fickle was the world? She wasn't surprised, she'd seen it hundreds of times before: a poor schmuck's life ruined in the media machine, she really never expected it to be her. All because she went with her gut and protected some woman she didn't even know. The headache was coming back behind her eyes as she watched her whole life mean nothing.

"Easy." Dianna leaned in, hand touching the other woman's bare arm, waiting until Quinn met her eyes. "Don't have a stroke yet. It's not over, you're still alive and they don't have you yet."

Angry blue eyes looked at Dianna's hand on her arm. "It's a matter of time Dianna. It's not like I can just go hide in the Gray, I'm human and a cop; it will take a matter of moments for someone to rat me out. I have no money, my accounts will be frozen, my apartment watched, and all my friends will have their lines tapped waiting for me to call. I'm fucked, Theron the best thing I can do is turn myself in and hope I can get a discharge from the force and maybe relocate somewhere where people don't know my name or face." She let her eyes close, so goddamn angry, to lose to those fuckers.

The anger was so powerful the half-demon had to snatch her hand back or be drawn into it whether she wanted to or not. "So that's it?" She crossed her arms, to keep them from reaching out. "You just lay down and die? Is that the spirit that let you survive two demon attacks now? You just roll over and give up?"

"No, first I'd like to take a shower." Quinn said, locking her emotions down, trying not to cause Dianna's half-demon nature to flare up, that was the last thing she needed.

She was good at hiding her emotions, Dianna had to give her that much. Snorting at the thought of the barely able to stand human in a shower, the redhead rose up off the bed and padded to the bathroom where she started the water. Leaving it to fill the claw-footed tub she'd gotten with the rest of the bar, she walked back out.

"Hold on to me." She said, not really giving Quinn an option as she pushed the sheets off her and then picked up the wounded woman.

"Here's a hint, Theron, some woman actually like it if you respect their privacy." She grumbled out, but didn't do anything else. Her knee still looked awful, she'd probably torn her ACL or damaged the joint, that would require surgery or magic to fix she was a little short on paying either off.

"Some women like it when I don't." The redhead shot back, taking a deep breath as she turned, carrying Quinn toward the bathroom. It was a difficult thing to do, carry this stubborn woman and try not to soak in her emotions. She might be good at hiding them, but they ran deep and strong. The anger that over layered them right then was seductive and Dianna's nostrils flared as she walked a little faster.

Quinn shook her head but didn't even try to come up with a comeback. She did give a happy sigh as she slid into the warm water of the tub. "Sometimes I almost forget we don't like each other." She said looking at the half-demon.

"Don't forget." It almost sounded like a plea and Dianna stood up abruptly. "Lauren's making breakfast. I'll bring some back for you if you want to soak in the tub for a while. Yell if you need something."

Quinn leaned back in the tub and let her eyes close. She didn't want to think about anything for a long while. "Food would be nice." She said quietly.

With a jerky nod, Dianna all but fled from her room, confusing avalanche of emotions, hers and Quinn's, tumbling through her as she hurried downstairs.

"That smells good." She announced as she came into the kitchen, glad to see nothing on fire and doing her best to sound normal.

"Thank you." Lauren said looking over at Dianna. "Just ham and eggs, do you just order take out a lot?"

"It certainly isn't delivery." Dianna grinned; distance from Quinn let her get a handle on the emotions. "The last delivery boy got eaten by a Banshee two blocks from here. I usually eat whatever Helga makes, or go get something when I have to run errands." Something she'd been putting off, but sooner or later she'd have to go out.

"You're tense. Did Maggie, uh, Detective Quinn not take the news well." She set a plate down in front of Dianna. "I made Bob test the first batch."

"Did he like it?" The ham and eggs looked good, but she probably should ask just in case. "Quinn is being stubborn and angry."

"He ate everything on the plate, so I assumed he liked them." She sat down with her own plate. "Quinn is . . . well, angry is probably a good defensive mechanism." She took her fork and knife and cut the ham into bite-size pieces on her plate. "Is there a bookstore around here?" She flushed realizing she didn't exactly have any money. Maybe a used bookstore?

"Not one you'd want to visit." Dianna took a bite of the ham, raised an eyebrow at the spices she couldn't identify and took a bigger bite. "Why? I have quite a library upstairs. I could get you some books if you wanted to read something." It was best if they dropped the topic of the good detective for now.

"You do have a very good library I'm sure, in your study that you won't let me enter. But it's not the same, I like books, I wasn't a research assistant for no reason. I like bookstores; I like taking my time checking out covers, flipping through pages, and stopping every once in a while to read something until I find the right book for my mood." She shrugged.

Dianna sighed. Why were things always complicated? The idea of Lauren wandering around the Gray looking for a bookstore wasn't a nice one. She certainly couldn't go into the human parts of the city; the chances of her being spotted were too good.

The food was very good and she enjoyed eating all of it that was on her plate, probably almost as quickly as Bob had. Rising she got another plate, piling it with a bit of everything and a glass of orange juice instead of her coffee. Starting for the stairs she paused, looking back at Lauren with a raised eyebrow. "Are you coming?"

Lauren scrambled off the chair and then up the stairs to follow Dianna. She sensed this was important. Not in the earth-shattering way, but still the moment felt important.

"You don't go in when the door is locked, ever and I lock the door when I go to bed." Dianna was crazy, that was the only reason she was doing this, she'd gone insane. "The books, you're free to read whichever ones you want, but some of them are demonic and that's the only warning I'll give you on that."

There were limits; she wasn't Lauren's mother after all. Pausing at her room she left the food inside, briefly checking to make sure Quinn hadn't drowned. When the woman appeared to be still enjoying her bath, Dianna kept moving toward her study door. "Under no circumstances do you touch the painting over the fireplace, got it?"

"Of course." Lauren agreed like everyday someone asked her not to touch paintings. "Um, how will I know if the books are demonic and do they eat people?"

Dianna grinned, pulling out the old-fashioned key and unlocking the door. "The script will be demonic; you won't get into any trouble as long as you don't read anything out loud or do any sacrifices."

Lauren got a little pale at that. "Not a problem there."

"Good." Dianna turned, cocking a hip up against her desk and watching Lauren closely as the human walked into her study. Lauren was exactly the second person she'd ever allowed into this place willingly. She wondered what the human made of the books lining the walls and the huge monstrosity of a desk with her personal papers piled across it almost haphazardly.

Then there was Sissy's portrait, propped up on its stand looking down on the garden in the back. She doubted Lauren even realized there was a garden back there. Few other people did. A cello dominated one of the corners of the room, while comfortable overstuffed leather chairs took up the other two, her desk backed up against the other.

Lauren studied the books, touching one here and there. "Its a beautiful collection." She said softly entranced by each book she passed. She instinctively knew which ones were demonic; they caused an ache in her skull.

"Some of it was my sister's." The redhead pushed off from the desk, abruptly changing the topic. "That entire bookshelf is erotic books; feel free to browse through it."

Not as bad as there being an actual demon there, but, as Don the geeky IT guy would have said 'It made her spidey sense tingle'. She looked up and over at the shelf in question and then blushed. "I might." She tried to sound defiant but failed.

Dianna snorted and reached out, touching Lauren very briefly on the shoulder. "One last thing." She looked uncharacteristically nervous as she guided the human toward the portrait by the window. "Sissy, this is Lauren." The young woman in the portrait stared out the window. "She's going to come look at our books."

She picked up a book on demonology, and then looked around. Oh, she wanted to ask, but knew better. Instead she said, "Hi." To whatever Dianna thought was there.

With a nod, Dianna let out a short breath. "Okay. Enjoy." She hesitated, feeling oddly vulnerable about letting the human in this room.

"I promise to behave, Dianna." Lauren said sitting down in the overstuffed chair.

"You better." The half-demon lingered at the door, torn. "You're the second person to come into this room."

"I'll behave . . ." She was cut off as the study doors slammed shut and locked. From below someone pounded on the front door to the bar.

Dianna flinched backwards; the door slamming in her face with enough force it would have broken her nose had she been just a bit closer. "Gee, thanks Sissy!" She growled, straightening as she whirled to go see who was pounding on the door downstairs. Lauren was probably safer where she was.

"Quinn, you need help getting out of the bath yet?" She asked, as she paused by the door to her rooms. Someone pounded again on the door downstairs and Dianna growled in annoyance. It was her day off; she shouldn't have to deal with this shit today.

"I'll be fine." Quinn grumbled out.

"Don't turn into a prune." The redhead teased. "I am going to get to see you naked again, just accept it."

She took the stairs down two at a time, the pounding really getting on her nerves as she crossed through the bar to the front door. "We're closed!"

"Demon Affairs; open the door." Came the crisp voice on the other side.

"Fuck." Dianna swore under her breath turning her head to tell Bob, but the bar stool was empty. Demon Affairs. She shook her head and opened the door just enough so that she could lean across it in a way that she knew accentuated her body. "What can I do for the fabulous people at Demon Affairs?"

"I am Agent Green, we're following up on the scene of a demon attack not far from here. I can't help but notice the window to your bar." He smiled at her as his eyes dipped down into her cleavage.

"Oh, that." She said in her breathy voice, lust, she knew that emotion well. "Just some college kids getting out of hand. You know how they get." Green was certainly a handsome looking man, boyish good looks, if she'd go for that sort of thing.

He swallowed, and then seemed to clear his head. "Kids, huh?" He looked down at his notebook. "You are Dianna Theron, correct? A local police officer, the one missing from the crash has been seen here a couple of times. A Maggie Quinn, blue eyes, red hair, and an Irish temper?"

"The detective was not one of my biggest fans." Dianna smiled, leaning closer to Green, which of course gave him a better look down her cleavage. "She doesn't approve of the bar you see."

"If she didn't approve why did she come here so often? Rumor at the police house was she was your sex slave; you had her in a thrall." He laughed it off, while still watching her reaction.

The half-demon's mouth quirked into a sly smile. "Is that the rumor? I'm sure she's furious over it. She doesn't swing my way, Agent Green. Prefers studs like you."

He chuckled even more at that. "So I'm thinking she's being attacked by a demon; crashes her vehicle; hate or not she's going to go for the only place she knows. That would be this place. Mind if I look around?"

"I can't stop you." She stepped back. That was true; the Demon Affairs people needed no warrant to search anything that Dianna had. She was going to have to distract this Green. That was going to be unpleasant. "Bar's empty though, I told you, we're closed today. Quinn would probably rather gnaw off her own hand than come to me for help."

"Thank you." He came in with a frown, looking at the boarded-up windows.

She lingered near him, occasionally brushing against him. Her dad, she thought with something close to disgust, would be proud to see her using her abilities like this.

"Can I get you a drink, Agent Green?"

"Just a water would be great." He smiled at her and tried to discreetly wipe the sweat off his upper lip.

She sauntered away, knowing he was watching her ass as she went and added an extra little sway. Dianna had to get rid of him; he could not be allowed to go upstairs. How far was she willing to go to get rid of him though? Did she really owe Quinn anything? "Nice cold water." She purred, offering him the glass and brushing her fingers against his.

"Thank you." He took a swallow. "You said she didn't like you? Yet in the five years she's been on the force in this district she's come to you 30 times for help on a case, only used you 11 times. I find that odd because she's only gone to a department sanctioned Demon six times and then all the times you refused." He took a step back and with his pen point at various places around the bar. "Rough neighborhood, you have a lot of bullet holes."

"I was accessible when she needed someone to bully into helping her." Dianna pouted. "We are on the edge of the Gray here." She trailed a finger along Green's shoulder. "I keep saying it would be nice if there was some protection for us out here." She purred, pressing closer.

He blinked his thoughts completely derailed. "I'm sure it would, Ms. Theron."

He took a step back as if realizing for the first time this might not have been the best idea. His smile changed. "I have to wonder if you half-breeds even realize when you are using your powers. Or if you're purposefully trying to use me." He pulled out a business card. "If Detective Quinn contacts you let me know. She is considered dangerous, I'm sure the demon communities would cheer as well if she were locked away."

"You'll be the first phone number I call." She watched him through half-lidded eyes as he walked out the door and she closed it behind him. Shoulders sagged a little as she locked up behind him. There were human words for what she'd just been prepared to do, none of them pleasant. Annoyed with herself and the world, Dianna turned and headed for the stairs. Time to get Quinn out of the bath before she did turn into a prune.

Quinn was on the stairs wrapped in a sheet, gun in her hand. She'd been quite ready to kill him, even though it was possible she was wrong, that he hadn't set her up.

The half-demon paused, foot on the second step up, seeing Quinn standing there with gun in hand. "That a gun or are you just happy to see me, cherie?"

Quinn flicked the safety back on the gun. "You're Greek, not Cajun." Her only response to the comment. She wasn't certain if she would have shot him if he had come in to the kitchen, she was surprised he hadn't. Probably didn't want to risk being caught in a bad situation. She had heard the conversation, and had heard it in his voice when he realized he couldn't handle Dianna.

She looked at the half-demon, really looked at her, searching for something. "Why didn't you hand me over?"

Very slowly, Dianna started up the stairs, taking them one step at a time. "Because he said he was from Demon Affairs." That should be enough of a reason, and the half-demon didn't want to talk about any other possibility for her good deed. "How do you know what I am? I've been told I have a good Cajun accent when it suits me."

"I had to go back a long way, but I found your immigration records. I like to know who I'm working with." Dianna had aged well, fucking demon DNA. "You hate Demon Affairs that much, even more than me, surprising." Her knee was throbbing she should have stayed put, but couldn't once she heard that fucker's voice.

"They're scum. Maybe they're some decent ones in it, but most of them just use their position to get what they can. Some of us think they become corrupt from dealing with demons so much." Dianna watched Quinn's face with an almost hungry intentness. "Would you have shot him? Would you have shot me for bringing him to you?"

"Yes." She hesitated, "To shooting him. Funny when he came into the station with his partner we assumed they were FBI, they never once corrected us they were not." She probably would have shot Dianna too, if she was capable of killing her husband, she figured she was capable of shooting anyone.

"So you would have shot him, just for finding you here?" Dianna's eyes glittered a little in the light as she reached two steps below Quinn, close enough that she could feel the woman's emotions. "How dark of you, Detective. What else are you capable of?"

"I never said I'd kill him, Theron. Just shoot him." She gave a ghost of a smile. "You know what they say about cops and criminals? It's merely a uniform that makes the difference. Now come up here and play crutch so I can go lay down. My knee is killing me."

For a long moment, the half-demon stared at her, lips twisting in a small smile. Unlike her own, Quinn's hair was naturally red, she'd found that out the night before. It fit the energetic woman, as did her blue eyes and obvious Irish heritage. All that was missing was an Irish accent and Quinn could easily have come straight over from the isles.

"You're too honorable to be a criminal, Detective." Dianna stepped up, sliding a hand around the human's waist to hold her upright. Her body was warm beneath the sheet but at least it didn't feel feverish anymore. "Why do you dislike my bar?"

She slumped against Dianna not willing to admit to the pain. "I don't dislike your bar and I don't like it either." Kind of how she felt about Dianna, although if the woman kept acting like this things might change, and the detective wasn't comfortable with that. "I think you're the first person to see me naked and not ask about the marks." Honestly Dianna was the only other person than the nurses and doctors to see her naked since it happened.

"What's to ask?" Dianna shrugged, uncomfortable with the entire subject for reasons she did not want Quinn to know. "Your husband was fucking a demon." She was deliberately vulgar as she helped Quinn toward the room. "You sent the demon back to hell for what they did." Best not to mention the son at all though; she wanted Quinn off-balance, not shooting her.

Quinn sighed. "You have such a way with words. His name was Thomas, we worked together, my father hated him, said he would never be good enough for me. He was a good man until in a shootout, a window next to his head was blown out. Glass got in his eyes and after that he was a desk jockey. That's when he changed." There was no emotion, just facts, again why she loved them. She didn't say any more, everyone knew how it ended, just not how it started. "I had people come up to me and want me to lay hands on them. They thought I was blessed. A single human to slay a beast from hell. Now you and I know that demoness wasn't killed, just sidetracked back to hell, but people would call me a warrior of God, or some other nonsense. Now, now I'm tainted." She gave a bitter smile.

Someday she'd be dead, she had no illusions if that demoness ever got back into the earthly realm that she'd come rip off her head and then piss down her neck stump.

She sighed in relief as Dianna helped her back onto the bed. "Do you have an icepack? Or a witch doctor?" She meant it as a joke but it showed how much pain she was in.

"Icepack yes, witch doctor no, although I could probably find you a healer of some type." Dianna pulled some blankets up over the detective and went back downstairs for the ice, wondering who she knew that could heal that knee without charging Quinn for more than she had.

Trading her soul for healing the knee wasn't really worth it, for example.

"Here." The half-demon slid on to what was becoming her usual spot on the bedside and offered Quinn the ice pack from the freezer downstairs. She could feel the pain radiating off the other woman and however good it felt, Dianna didn't think Quinn liked it. Judging by the grayness around her eyes and pale lips, she really didn't like it.

"I could take the pain away." Dianna found herself whispering, eyes hooded as she watched Quinn.

Quinn put the ice on her knee and then looked at Dianna. "Pain is part of being human. We don't heal with demonic healing or have demonic strength; we just keep pushing through the pain and somehow it makes us stronger." She only remembered the one time Dianna had taken the pain away, not both.

"What will it cost me to have that part of you help me?" She asked a knowing look on her face.

"There is always a price." Dianna smile was slow and sensuous. "I'd feel your feelings more directly, it would be a bond between us." She glanced down at the swollen and ugly-looking knee. "As always, it's your choice."

"Di . . . Theron. Why would you want a bond between us? You don't like me." For that matter why would she want a bond? She was mildly upset with the slip; she called Theron by her last name for a reason. She was already demon marked, but she wasn't certain another one was worth it just to have the pain taken away from her knee.

"Then aspirin it is." The half-demon opened her palm, revealing the small white pills she'd brought up from downstairs with the ice. "I wouldn't be who I am if I didn't tempt you on occasion." She smiled, offering them to Quinn.

Quinn couldn't help it, she actually laughed. She took the aspirin and leaned forward kissing Dianna's cheek with a chuckle. "We all have our burdens to bear in life, now go get a pen and paper." She quickly swallowed the pills.

"My burden is to be your secretary?" An eyebrow arched but Dianna leaned over, pulling pen and paper from the drawer in her night table. She sat back upright with a smile, having almost caught Quinn watching her ass as she bent over.

Quinn just quirked an eyebrow then started listing off things she would need. "I need clothes, a knee brace, probably a cane if not a new knee, a gun, bullets for said gun, and untraceable cell phone or at least a couple of disposable ones. Can you manage that?"

"Your service revolver is over there, do you need a second gun?" Dianna sniffed, ignoring the implication that she couldn't manage to get the things that the human wanted. It was vaguely insulting.

"Yes, one that isn't linked to a police officer. Also, he knows Lauren and I are here or you would have had to fuck him to prevent him from coming in for a full look. You're an unknown, well and Lauren's ability to do that thing she does. He came in and found he couldn't handle you on his own. Lauren and I should go somewhere else before they come back." She hesitated. "Maybe you too. Could you say the bar is closed for a remodel?" It wouldn't be a lie.

Insult became outrage. "You want me to close down the bar?" She glared at Quinn. "I can't just shut down the bar until it looks safe again. I have obligations."

"Right. Sorry, I caught myself caring about your safety, forget I mentioned anything. Temporary insanity." Quinn said not even fazed by the outburst.

Which earned Quinn a sharp look from the bright-red haired woman. "Do you have a safe place you can take Lauren?" She still wasn't sure where would be safe for the younger woman.

Quinn sighed. "Probably not." She should go, that would be less dead weight on Dianna, the half-demon wouldn't have to worry about taking care of both her and Lauren. Plus sooner or later she would wear out whatever goodwill the woman seemed to be feeling for her. "I could call my Da or my Grandda." There was a slight accent that came out with the pronouncing of those two words.

Dianna shook her head. "Best not to get family involved if you don't want the D.A. people going after them too." She grimaced. "I was telling Lauren that the Gray is really quiet about what happened with the demon attacking you, unusually quiet. I could try to find out more, someone out there knows what's going on."

"When it's quiet, doesn't it mean more dangerous?"

"Always." Dianna rose up off the bed. "I know it's not even noon yet, but you're going to feel sleepy in a few minutes. I'll bring you some food later." Two of the pills she'd given Quinn had been aspirin, the third had not.

Quinn's face morphed into a scowl. "Dianna, what did you give me?" The sharp tone was cut off by a yawn.

"Nothing very illegal." The grin widened into a smile and Dianna pulled the blankets up over the yawning human. "Sleepy time."

"Nothing very . . . when I'm better . . ." She gave a large yawn and shook her head. "I'm going to shove my foot up your ass." She grumbled even as her eyes slid shut.


The demoness sat in the alter room, mediating. If one wanted to move into the earthly plain and take it over, it had to be done quietly, slowly, and without tipping the balances. She was nothing if not patient, so every night when the moon rose, she opened the portal and absorbed a little more of her power, six more months and she smiled. If a mortal had seen that smile, they would have fallen into gibbering madness.

The room was stone and metal, sleek darkness with only the faint light of the moon shining in, and everything was coated in the smell of blood. A faint drip as blood from tonight's sacrifice flowed from the slashing cuts down rendered flesh and on to the floor from the altar. She breathed out and in, absorbing more power from the small crack between this world and hers.

Were they nothing but cursed and tormented souls that had once been human. She didn't care. If they had been she didn't see that it mattered, it just meant they had been horrible humans not fit to mingle with the human race anyways. Besides, she'd never seen an angel despite what religion said.

She sighed and closed the crack, aware of a presence behind her. "Yes."

It was an anthropomorphic blob that oozed hesitantly into the room. It had dark hollows where its eyes should be and a slit where a mouth should be. It had formed an arm that held a folder. "Our pet has come across this information and brought it to our attention."

She didn't look at the minion, that would be beneath her. She merely held out a hand, and the creature delicately set the folder in her blood-smeared fingers.

She flipped through it, smiling as she came to a photo of Quinn. "Very resilient, isn't Ms. Quinn." Was her only comment. She frowned though as she looked at Dianna and Lauren. "Three? Three women. Fate do you think?"

The blob said nothing, knowing better.

"Three is not a good number; three is an unlucky number for demons."

"Um, the report says that Detective Quinn is assumed dead in a demon attack."

"Really, assumed is not confirmed." She hissed out eyes blazing like a forest fire. "Do you think the good detective would die so easily, if she already survived to send me to hell once?"

The Blob now sorely wished it had kept its mouth shut.

"I would know if Quinn was dead. I've marked her, her soul is mine when she dies just like yours was. I want her brought to me, alive; I have a special torture for her."

No, she could not have Maggie Quinn running around; Quinn would have to be brought to heel, like her husband had been.

"Leave me." She said quietly and went back to her meditation.


Lauren came down the stairs looking irritated as Dianna exited her rooms. "Why did your office just lock me inside of it for the better part of an hour?" She asked unhappily. That had been just a little on the scary side, but not as bad as other things that had happened,

It was, Dianna thought with a wince, going to be one of those days.

"Would you believe that things like that happen around here and just let it be at that?"

Lauren's eyes narrowed, but then she relaxed. "It wouldn't surprise me; my life has gotten really weird lately. I'll let it go for now, but if it happens more than three times you owe me an explanation. So what happened?" Something had to have happened.

The bar owner opened her mouth to try to explain and then paused, glancing at her wristwatch. "Listen, I'll explain it to you, but you'll have to help me do inventory so I know what we need to order tomorrow."

"Okay. You should probably put a new window at the top of that list." Lauren said with a smile as she started down the stairs.

"My, my." Dianna grinned following down the stairs after her. "Was that an actual smile? I think that's the first I've seen out of you."

Lauren blushed because she couldn't help it. "Maybe. How is your 'not friend', Quinn?" She'd given up on using the officer's first name because that was apparently not how she was called.

"Grumpy, in pain and I have to find a healer so that she can walk. She isn't saying it, but I'm pretty sure she tore something in her knee, some ligament or whatever." Dianna shrugged, leading the way out into the bar and the storage room where the kegs and bottles were kept. She handed over a clipboard to Lauren and started sorting things.

"How much do you know about the Demon Affairs agency?"

"Not much, just, you know whatever one learns in school. They were founded shortly after the Revolutionary War, where we fought to have sovereignty from the Church States of Europe. It was created to give the US population an agency that was not under the power of the church to combat demons. Plus they did checks on half-demons, but I think the half-demon thing has mostly fallen to local police."

Dianna gave her an amused look. "Really." She bent back over, counting kegs of beer. It would be a bad night if they ran out of the local microbrew. "They have full, and I mean complete, authorization to deal with any demon however they want. That includes half-demons or people who have? demonic tendencies." She glanced at Lauren again. "One of their agents showed up looking for Quinn."

"Maybe they could help against . . ." Against what she didn't really know. "We haven't done anything wrong. Not really . . . and . . ." She interpreted the look Dianna was giving her. "They're not going to be on our side are they?"

"Who do you think set Quinn up as a cop killer?" Dianna straightened. "Mark down five kegs of the pale beer and seven of the amber. I only have two Guinness left; we'll have to get more of that."

"Oh." Lauren said as she wrote down the numbers. "So what are we going to do? We are going to help her right?" Even though she realized it would be better and easier just to have Dianna turn the cop over to D.A.

"We should just turn her over." Dianna cocked a hip up against a barrel, curious to see Lauren's response. "It would buy you time to escape; somewhere they might not find you."

"We should. It does seem like the easiest action, but then I'd still be running and nothing would be resolved. With Quinn, she at least knows how they think and how they do things. I think it's better to keep her around. But I know you two aren't friends." Which she thought odd because Dianna had put the officer in her bed.

"No, we aren't." Dianna said, as she again turned to continue inventory. "Tonight you and I are going out. We need to find a healer if she's going to stay with us. Time for you to get used to moving through the Gray."

Lauren swallowed. "The Gray?" She said nervously. All those demons and headaches and the seductive pull of it. "Sounds like fun." She finished bravely.

The half-demon snorted. "No, it's not fun at all, but you have to learn to deal with it or you'll be addicted to those little black vials forever. We won't go into the heart of it; neither of us wants to go there."


Dianna was once again perched on the edge of the chair in her own room, watching Quinn sleep. The human had been out of it for far longer than she'd expected, maybe she shouldn't have given her the entire pill. Next time maybe she'd try half.

"Quinn?" The bright red haired woman leaned closer, trying to wake the cop without touching her. "Quinn, you have to wake up."

Quinn groaned and rolled away from the annoying voice. The move only jarred her knee and she gave a cry of pain her eyes flying open. "Fuck." She hissed out.

Dianna's nostrils flared at the flash of pain and she reached out, lifting the sheet to peer at the woman's knee, if anything it was even more swollen and definitely an uglier color than before. "I had to wake you up." The half-breed offered as an apology.

"Make up your mind, Dianna." She snapped back. "First you drug, me now you want me awake."

"It's almost dark out." A flick of her wrist and the wheeled chamber flicked back into the old-fashioned service revolver, silently she laid it onto the nightstand next to Quinn's head. "You need to be awake while we're gone."

"Where are you going?" Quinn asked relieved once the gun had been set down.

"Into the Gray." The woman was dressed in tight-fitting leather, all black and high-heeled boots. "Aspirin and water are next to the bed."

"Just aspirin this time?" She said deliberately not looking at Dianna.

The bar owner chuckled. "Yes. Just aspirin. You needed the rest. Besides, how else would I have my way with you?"

Quinn rolled her eyes. "The truth to your sexual prowess comes out."

"My natural charms are enough for everyone but you, Detective." Dianna stood up, picking up her favorite leather coat from the back of the chair. It might have been too much leather, but sending a message was important in the Gray. If they were lucky, nothing would bother them.

"How much time should I give you before I start to worry you've mucked it up?" Quinn asked, teasing.

"You just want an excuse to tell me I made a mistake." Dianna leaned down over the cop, well aware that the tight leather showed off a good deal. "We'll be back." She smiled. "And then you're really going to owe me for the present we're going to bring."

Quinn groaned. The last thing she wanted was to owe anybody anything. "I didn't ask for a present, Theron."

"You want to go to the hospital?"

"Now would not be a good time for me to go to the hospital."

"Then you'll owe me." Dianna stood up; it was time to put distance between them. She could feel the pain throbbing in that knee. "We aren't back by tomorrow morning, Helga will find you."

"And what am I going to owe you, Theron?" It was unsettling and exciting, not that she would admit that to the half-demon.

The half-demon just grinned.

"Maybe in your dreams. Now get out of here. I'll be fine, but don't die on me." She didn't need anyone else to die on her.

"Shoot anything that isn't us and you should be fine." Dianna called over her shoulder, only half-joking as she left her room.

Hurrying down the stairs she called out. "Lauren, you ready?"

"Yep." The younger woman said from the kitchen where she was working on the crossword.

"Are you done not being friendly with the cop?" Lauren hadn't failed to notice, for not liking Quinn; Dianna spent a lot of time watching the cop sleep.

Pale eyes narrowed. "Implying something there?"

"No. No implying." Lauren said looking up from the paper.

"You saying something then?" Dianna stalked toward her.

"Yes, words were stated. That for someone you proclaim not to like you spend a lot of time looking after her."

"For someone who was a wall flower, you certainly seem to have a lot of opinions now." Dianna crossed her arms, looking down at the human, eyes amused.

"You're rubbing off on me." She said with a grin.

She was not dressed anywhere as intimidatingly as Dianna. She wore jeans, a T-shirt and a jacket. A college kid was what she looked like. "I feel under dressed."

"You should be scared." Dianna grinned back. "You don't need to look well dressed. You'll be with me."

"Of course, silly me." She grinned and stepped back from the counter. "I guess we're leaving?"

"Yup." She picked up the sawed-off shotgun, hanging it from the also illegal holster under the leather coat. "Time to go raise hell." She smiled. "Or at least wake it up a little."

"That was truly cheesy." Lauren said following behind Dianna. "So do I get a weapon?"

"You are a weapon." Dianna glanced over at her, teeth flashing in the darkness. "I rather like my one-liners." The back door was closed and locked behind them and they started out down the alley, heading deeper into the area known as the Gray Zone.

Lauren tensed as it slid over her, a headache blooming like a flower in the back of her skull. She swallowed and then took a deep breath and let it out. "I imagine this is what a siren's song feels like to sailors."

"Beautiful, isn't it?" Dianna shivered a little, it having nothing to do with the damp night air around them. "Can you feel the despair?"

"No, I feel all the demons. Every one of them, I feel an itch in my palms to snap their necks and burst their eyes under my thumbs. Too many living in a small patch of Gray."

"Huh." Dianna shrugged. "All right, not what I feel but we can work with that. Time for you to stop reacting to everything around you. You're going to be good and just follow me, and not kill anything unless it tries to kill us. Good?"

"Okay." Lauren's eyes were black but other than that she was holding it together. "I will do my best not to kill anything that doesn't attack us."

"No, not your best. You don't kill anything unless it attacks you. You break those rules and we're going to attract attention, which we do not want." Dianna shivered again, settling the jacket around her.

"Okay, okay." Lauren said sullenly, really wanting a kill.

They weren't alone, although the streets were quite dark. There were no functioning light posts here, no electricity for most of the buildings and no running water. This was the part of the city that humanity willed to simply go away. It wouldn't, of course, but it lay there in the center of the human city, a rotting blight.

"So what are we looking for?"

"An old, kind of, friend. She'll help, maybe, if the price is right." The dampness turned into drizzling rain and Dianna sighed. Figures they were going to be wet and uncomfortable. "We might have to persuade her."

"Do I want to know how were going to do that?" Lauren said with a frown as it started to drizzle.

"We're going to start out by attracting her with pain. She finds it as irresistible as the thought of killing demons seems to be with you." Dianna wasn't really looking forward to that part. "And then you grab her and keep her from killing me. It's a good plan, don't you think?"

"That's your plan. Who is this woman?"

"She can heal wounds." Dianna grinned to herself. "But she's a half-demon so you can't believe anything she says or does. It's kind of tricky to get her to heal people."

"Of course. So what is this pain that's going to attract her?" That was the part that had Lauren a little leery.

"Hope you don't faint at the sight of blood." The redhead walked faster, ignoring the dark shadows that lingered along the edges of the street. They stretched out dark fingers toward them, but otherwise they let them pass without doing anything.

"I don't. Not anymore." The last part was mumbled out. She quickened her pace to keep up with Dianna.

"That's good." The half-breed took a left, grabbing Lauren's elbow and pulling her across the street from the figures huddled over trash barrels with burning debris inside. "Malebogias. Best to just let them be." They looked like hobos, but their reputation for doing nasty things to humans was well deserved.

Like most of the Grey, they weren't what they looked like. "You doing all right?" Dianna glanced over at the younger woman, hopping they weren't about to have a scene.

Lauren just nodded, her large black eyes taking everything in. On occasion her nostrils would flare but she made no move from Dianna's side.

"I'm okay." Her voice had changed; it was lower, gravelly. She didn't know if that would still be the case if something attacked them.

"You have to control it." Dianna kept moving, it was never a good idea to become a stationary target here.

"I'm trying to stay absolutely focused on you. It seems to help. Tell me more about the Gray, how does it come into being? Why does it take over some areas and not others? Tell me about anything, how about the first time you met Quinn?" As long as she stayed focused on anything other than the Gray, she seemed to be good.

"Let's skip my first meeting with Quinn. It ended up with her shooting me." Dianna grimaced at the memory. "All a misunderstanding, of course." Well, mostly a misunderstanding.

"I assume they still teach about World War Two in history classes?" She flicked up her leather coat, shotgun pointing out at the thing in the shadows that was trying to stalk them. It paused, considered the two women and decided to squish off elsewhere. She neither knew, nor wanted to, what made that squishing sound.

"Yes, at least when I went through school they did. I did take World History in college."

"Demons have always been around, but they were only the ones who slipped through the cracks and got into the world by accident. The church did a great job of hunting those down, of course they burned a lot of regular people to do it, but hey witch hunts are fun, right?" Ahead of them a keening wail echoed through the empty streets and she abruptly changed directions. Dealing with a Banshee wasn't on her list of things to do.

"So then comes along the Nazis." Dianna checked over her shoulder, making sure they weren't being followed. "Hitler loved the occult, thought he could raise a demon army to fight the Allies for him. Used those concentration camps to fuel the hell gates." She blamed the shiver on the cool drizzle of rain. "But it didn't work like he wanted. Instead of opening gates where he wanted, they opened anywhere there was misery and despair. Like here." She grinned grimly over at Lauren. "By the time they closed there were too many demons out for the church to deal with alone."

Lauren's head cocked as she listened to the wail, but with an exhale of breath she turned and followed Dianna.

"They teach you about that in college?"

"Well, they blame the demon invasion on Hitler, but they never went into detail on the concentration camps. Probably because every world government participates in genocide of some sort. I bet I could link all the Gray Zones in the US, to Indian Reservations, sweat shops, and other things."

"This one's because of the asylum." Dianna licked her lips, looking toward the center of the Gray. "Which we are going nowhere close to. There's an old church not far from here, the healer sometimes uses it. Hopefully she'll be there, if not we'll attract her there."

Lauren nodded. She didn't remember anything about there being an insane asylum in the town, but they'd only studied local history in the fourth grade.

"Quick rule of thumb is the closer to the asylum you go, the worse the demons. It's the epicenter of the entire zone." Dianna paused at the corner, carefully studying the road ahead of them. The church wasn't far now, she could see its bell tower just two blocks away.

"Understood." She winced as her headache spiked. "Uh, there is something nearby that's really demony." Fuck was demony even a real word?

"Demony?" Dianna raised an eyebrow but looked harder. "Where?"

"I don't know. It's not like this, whatever it is comes with a GPS, it's just close. The stronger the demon the worse the headache. You aren't even a strained muscle on my demon radar." She winced at that. "Sorry."

The redhead turned at that. "I'm not even a strained muscle?" She asked, incredulously. That was kind of insulting and Dianna found herself a bit hurt as she turned back to studying the street.

"Probably because you're a half-demon. I seem to only go berserk around full demons. You're very much a badass, I've been scared of you on several occasions, like now." Mostly because Dianna had a shotgun.

"Aww, you know just the right thing to say to a girl." Dianna gave her a wink. "Well, I don't see anything and the longer we stand here the longer we give something a chance to hunt us."

"Fair enough." Lauren said following as Dianna started moving again.

It was nerve-wracking walking down the empty streets, feeling like something was staring out at you from every broken window and busted-in door. There were a lot of those along the streets down here and Dianna found herself walking faster. Why had she thought this was a good idea in the first place? She was insane; they should have just dropped Quinn off at a hospital and been done with her.

"Next time I'll just call an ambulance." She grumbled, pale eyes constantly scanning the buildings and street around them. "Is it following us?"

Lauren actually lifted her head and scented the air. "I don't think so." But it was hard to tell in the Gray, she wasn't used to the sensory overload of the place.

"I don't suppose . . ." Dianna trailed off, catching movement on a roof. Something leapt from roof to roof and she gritted her teeth recognizing that shape. "Challa. He's persistent." She gripped the butt of the shotgun under her coat and sped up, jogging and then running.

"Wait . . ." Lauren said and then sighed realizing Dianna had sprinted off. "It could be a trap." She said to herself and then started running after the taller woman.

Lauren cursed herself for being such a bookworm. "Really, would a walk around the neighborhood have killed me once in a while, maybe using the gym on campus, it was free." She groused as she huffed after the bar owner.

"Challa!" Dianna yelled, chasing after the demon hound as he leapt from roof to roof. "I owe you, you little back-stabbing bitch!" She ran faster, really wanting to get him back for his betrayal.

Lauren heard Dianna shout something up ahead of her, somewhere. She didn't like this.

The demon hound leapt from the roof, clearing the entire width of the street to land on an abandoned building roof on the other side. Other shadows moved up there and suddenly Dianna realized how far ahead of Lauren she'd moved, and how quickly she'd gone. The redhead slowed, shotgun coming out from its holster as she felt a frisson of fear trail up her spine.

"Bitch?" Challa's voice hissed out and the demon hound, along with a good dozen of his friends, leapt down onto the street, surrounding her. "Who is the bitch now?" He laughed, long tongue flicking in the air. Dianna swallowed and raised the shotgun. Shots echoed in the air.

Lauren paused with a groan of pain as her skin bubbled and then smoothed out. Not the scales, she'd gone back to the first vial, the whole 'have wings' had weirded her out. This she was beginning to understand. The stone like quality she now had to her skin and the strength. She smiled, all the better to break demon necks with. She started running; faster and easier now that the change had come.

She recognized them; they'd attacked her in her temporary home at the University before Dianna had taken her in.

Demon something's, Dianna had said. The first one was easy, taken unaware; she snapped its neck and smiled.

"There!" One of the demon hounds growled as it turned to spot Lauren. "The mistress wants her alive." It commanded as the other demon hounds turned and ran towards Lauren, long bounds covering dozens of feet at a time. Dianna looked up, clutching the leg that one of the demon hounds had gnawed on, fumbling with the shotgun to reload it.

"Lauren! Above you!"

Lauren sidestepped and crouched down low, becoming a bump in the road. With her center of gravity so low she became literally an unmovable object.

One of the demon hounds went bouncing off her, yelping in pain as it hit her with all of his momentum behind him.

"The mistress wants her." Challa growled at Dianna knocking aside her shotgun with a paw.

"What mistress?" Dianna demanded, grabbing the small knife from her boot and well aware how pathetic that looked compared to the demon hound.

Lauren stood up and ignored the one that had bounced off her and kept moving, trying to get to Dianna.

She did not have claws, but theirs scraped against her skin shredding cloth but left only black marks against her skin as they could not penetrate the stone her skin had become.

He lunged at her without answering and she got her right arm up to block him, his jaws crunching down on her arm instead of her face. Her scream was high-pitched as those jaws crunched down on bone, shattering them.

Lauren's hands caved in ribs, noses and broke necks.

Challa looked up just in time to see Lauren coming for him and he bounded away, a leap and he was up onto the nearest roof, growling down at her. The few of his kind that were still moving followed after him. "You belong to the mistress, human! She will have you," he growled.

Lauren wanted to follow, knew she could drive her hands into the brick walls and haul herself up after him, but Dianna needed help. She bared her teeth in a growl but turned to her friend. "Fuck, you look like shit." She said getting a good look at the bar owner.

She took off the ruined jacket and tied it around Dianna's useless arm. "I'm not remotely a doctor but that's not good."

The half-demon would have laughed except it came out as a whimper. "Good." She gasped, eyes tearing in pain. Her right arm hung at an unnatural angle and the leg was bleeding from the mauling. "The church, get me to the church." Dianna gasped as Lauren shifted her arm and bone crunched against bone. She was still in shock but that was going to pass soon and then she'd be in real pain.

Lauren could easily lift Dianna up now and started carrying her looking for the church. "Don't you dare pass out or die on me. I've had enough of people dying on me and being too slow to help."

Every step jarred the arm and Dianna tried not to cry out in pain too often. There were too many things that would come to finish them off. "No dying." Dianna shivered, Challa's poison spreading through the wounds. "Healer." She whispered, the pain rising up and swallowing her into blessed unconsciousness.

"Fuck." Lauren cursed again. Dianna hadn't really shared a lot about who they were looking for other than they were a healer.

She struggled with the church door her arms full of unconscious half-demon. "I'm sure I read this in one of my lesbian romance novels. Of course I'd be wearing all leather, I'd be taller, and more dashing."

She blinked and looked around the church, it was empty. "Hello?" She said quietly. She cleared her throat and tried it again. "Hello?"

Crows took flight from the roof above, cawing as they erupted out into the night above. Parts of the roof had collapsed in and water dripped down into the main worship area. The church pews were still more or less in place, although many were covered in the plaster crumbling from the walls and ceiling. "Go away!" A voice yelled from deeper in the church.

"I can't." Lauren said miserably, she had no way to help Dianna or Quinn, and didn't know her way back to the bar.

"Of course you can girl! Turn around and walk out." The voice crackled, frayed around its edges as if it hadn't been used in a long time now. At the far end of the church a shape moved, little more than a pile of rags stitched together.

"Then I'd be cold, wet and miserable. In here I'm just miserable. Do you know where I can find a healer?"

"She's gone." The rags wobbled as the woman underneath them slowly got to her feet. She was little more than a dim outline in the darkened church. "Dead and gone. Leave and maybe your friend can die outside of the Gray." She coughed, hunched over.

"This was, is a church, all are welcome and none are turned away. That's why there are no locks on the doors." She eased Dianna on to the bench.

"There are no locks, girl, because they were foolish." The rags hobbled toward her. A weathered dark skinned face under the hood of rags peered out at Lauren. "Foolish and dead now." The old woman cackled, revealing yellow stained teeth.

"You're not a demon." Lauren said matter-of-factly kneeling next to Dianna checking the wounds. This was not good.

"Your friend isn't welcome here. Take her and leave."

"She's not going anywhere. So either help or go away and be useless somewhere else." She snapped.

"Fire in your soul." Gnarled old fingers came out from under the rag cloak. "Show me your palm." The old woman demanded.

"What?" Lauren blinked but then held out her hand.

"Ahhhh . . ." The hag breathed, grabbing the hand in a surprisingly strong hold as she peered at it over Dianna's trembling body. The other hand came out and fingers swiped up some of the half-demon's blood, using it to trace a design on Lauren's palm. "The maiden, mother and crone." The woman let go of Lauren's hand abruptly, cackling. "Poor girl."

Lauren frowned and tried to jerk her hand back. "What are you talking about?"

"Poor little girl, lost and alone, blood all around you." The hag peered at her, dark eyes almost all pupils. "Do you enjoy it now, the blood and death, poor little chica?" She cackled.

Lauren tried not to answer but finally as if it was pulled out of her she shouted. "Yes!"

"Ahhh . . . " The hag dropped her hand, leaving Dianna's blood drawn upon it. "Thank you." She smiled that yellow-toothed smile. "Seldom do people tell me truths."

"What does it matter? I can't help her." And Lauren owed Dianna, owed her sanity to the half-demon. "What does any of it matter? It doesn't help; I'm always too slow to realize when to use it."

"It is nature to crawl before you walk, walk before you run and sing before you make love." The hag laughed at her own joke, looking down at the very pale looking Dianna. "Lies spill easily from your friend's lips. I have never heard truths from her."

"We all do what we must to survive. We all do what's in our nature. But I tell you true, she's done nothing but help me so please if you can help her."

"And what would you pay me to help her?" The hag peered slyly up at Lauren.

"What do you want?"

"I want many things." The old woman cackled, looking down at the half-breed in front of her who was bleeding all over the floor. "A demon's heart. You will bring me a full demon's heart in exchange for healing."

Lauren swallowed. "I will get you the heart. Will a demon hound count?"

The black woman laughed. "No. A full demon, not a pet. Do we have a deal?"

She looked at Dianna and then nodded. The half-demon would not survive much longer without help.

"Yes we have a deal."

"Hold out your hand."

Lauren did as she was asked.

The hag grabbed onto her hand, using a dirty fingernail to cut the flesh just inside the thumb. A little dribble of blood came to the surface which she blotted with a surprisingly white and clean looking rag that disappeared back where it had come from. "Remember our deal, demon hunter, a demon's heart." The hag pointed a gnarled finger at Lauren.

Lauren stood outside in the drizzle and then looked around sniffing. She tried to memorize everything about this place so she could find it again. Then she started moving, eyes black as pitch as she looked for her demon heart.


Agent Green watched the bar from his car down the street. He was embarrassed about earlier, nearly falling into that half-breed bitch's trap for him. He knew better, he had graduated at the top of his class still he'd nearly fallen sway under her charms. Happily though he'd gone in by himself and no one was the wiser.

His cell phone vibrated at his hip and he unclipped it and flipped it open. "Green."

He unconsciously sat up straighter. "Uh, sir . . . I'm outside the bar owned by Theron now. I have made a visual confirmation of Susan Espinoza's little sister. I spotted her entering the Gray with Theron. I believe that Detective Quinn is inside the bar probably hurt. I was going to go investigate the premises more thoroughly; the bar is closed on Mondays. Uh, sir, is that wise?" He frowned, he really wanted to catch Quinn in bed with the demons, literally or figuratively. Dragging that holier than thou bitch down would make him all sorts of happy. She just fucking rubbed him the wrong way.

"I understand, that is why you are the Director and I am just a field agent. Uh, yes sir.. you are correct we have no concrete proof that Susan used the drugs on her sister. Right . . . yes . . ." He sunk further and further down in his seat. "But sir, I think Quinn is a viable threat to national security. I really feel . . ." He sighed. "Yes sir, I will continue to monitor the situation and report back on their movements. I will not interfere until you give me the okay. Yes sir, I know finding the missing drugs that Susan took are priority one . . . I just feel that they know . . . yes I will find proof before acting."

He hung up the cell phone and tossed it into the seat next to him and then beat on the steering wheel for a good two minutes. Fucking Quinn that woman was goddamn Teflon, already there were grumblings of another government smear campaign on the good detective. It didn't hurt that woman had lost her son and her father was a goddamn man of the cloth. The public loved that fucking woman.


If Quinn wasn't positive that something fairly important hadn't ripped in her knee, she would have left, as it was she didn't know why Agent Green hadn't busted his way inside the bar with a warrant and pack of other rabid DA agents bent on dragging her in. She knew he knew she was here. She didn't know what game the man was playing, but he had to be demon touched, the man screamed dirty.

Her stomach was flip-flopping and she was annoyed with Dianna for not getting her clothes. She had raided the woman's closet just so she didn't feel so vulnerable, they were roughly the same height but she was a stick were Dianna was all curves. She had struggled into some loose yoga pants and a button down pale blue shirt, an odd combination but it fit and she wasn't naked. Now she held the gun staring out the window with occasional glances to the door


Lauren returned, clothes soaked with rain and gore. Her lip was busted and her right eye was bruised and swollen nearly shut, but she still walked under her own power. She had seen things that defied human logic.

The Gray stayed the same, she had no idea how much time had passed in this place of eternal twilight.

Her hand was clenched around something. Demon hearts were surprisingly small.

In the twilight a figure was leaning up against the exterior wall of the ruined church, near the front doors, singing. Her voice was light and sweet in the darkness and she hummed as she rocked slowly back and forth, singing to herself. "Here's the church, and here's the steeple. Open the door and see none of the people. Here's the parson going upstairs, and here she is saying her prayers."

Lauren's steps slowed, there was no headache but still one could not be certain in the Gray.

The humming continued but the singing stopped as the stranger watched Lauren. The clothes she wore were little better than the rags of the hag inside, but she held herself with more pride than most homeless. Hair so blond it was nearly white was cut raggedly around her face, and blue eyes watched Lauren speculatively.

Perhaps just some poor insane soul lost in the Gray. The voice was pretty, soothing, but pretty things often had a sting.

She watched the figure out of the corner of her eye but slowly moved toward the front doors.

The singing started again as Lauren moved, the voice as light and sweet as before no matter how disturbing the lyrics. "It's like a lion at the door, and when the door begins to crack, it's like a stick across your back. And when your back begins to smart, it's like a penknife in your heart. And when your heart begins to bleed, you're dead, and dead, and dead indeed."

This was getting creepier and creepier. Lauren quickened her steps and scurried to the doors of the church. With her free hand she opened the door with a last look over her shoulder at the singer.

The singer raised a pale hand and waved.

Lauren hesitated and then waved back then was through the doors into the church. "I got . . . uh the things you wanted."

The hag looked up from the naked form stretched out on the floor where the altar once stood. Dianna was spread out on what looked like a pentagram sketched in blood. "A little heart." The hag cackled. "Well don't just stand there, come, come."

"Um . . ." Words failed her, she blushed but moved forward. Maybe leaving Dianna alone with the hag hadn't been a good idea. "Why is my friend naked?" She swallowed and tried to focus on the hag.

"Would you rather she be dead?" The hag held out a hand. "The heart. Quickly now."

Lauren handed over the small black thing that looked kind of like a polished stone.

The hag promptly shoved into her mouth. Eyes rolling back she hummed in pleasure, sounding orgasmic. "Oh, so tasty. So much darkness in it. It wasn't an ancient one, but it was old, so many sins." The hag licked her lips, eyes wide and dark as she looked at Lauren. "So tasty."

"I got you a midnight snack?" Lauren was kind of frozen between being pissed off and shocked.

"And tasty it was." She cackled, looking back down at the half-breed. "Pretty isn't she? They always are, mixed breeds. Always remember she's part demon though, she'll tempt you if she can."

Lauren nodded, "I know. It's her nature." She'd put her time trapped in Dianna's study to good use earlier. "But she's been nothing but kind to me so far."

"Lies are her nature too." The hag chuckled, bending down. "You feel the darkness in her, don't you girl?"

She nodded. "Yes. I feel it in everything demon touched."

"That's in your nature too, now." The hag snickered at some private joke.

Lauren was getting annoyed. "Look I did my part of the bargain, now help her."

"I did." The old woman reached down and slapped Dianna across the face, hard.

The half-demon jerked, eyes flying open, in surprise gasping as she rolled sideways. "What? Where . . ." She slowed down, seeing Lauren and the old woman.

Lauren gave a tight-lipped smile. "We found your healer."

"Oh." Dianna grimaced, slowly standing up, not really caring if she was naked and made a face. "That explains the horrible taste in my mouth." The scars on her leg were just faint white dots were Challa and his friends had ripped into her thigh. The arm ached but it was whole once again.

"Yes, you found me." The hag growled. "And I should have left you to die, Dianna Theron."

Lauren sighed and went to sit down. She was tired and her face throbbed.

"This cranky bitch is going to help Quinn?" She snorted. "Quinn's just going to shoot her."

"You can't be still upset about your niece!" Dianna looked around for her clothes, which seemed to have gone missing.

Lauren was certain she didn't want to know what Dianna had done to, with or whatever with the Hag's niece.

The hag raised a finger at the redhead. "She is still smitten for you, despite what you did." Dianna snorted, ignoring the middle finger and finally spotted her rolled up clothes. They were a bloody mess now, but she started putting them on anyway.

"Well she has good taste." Dianna smiled, giving Lauren a wink as she finished buttoning the ruined shirt.

That seemed to infuriate the hag even more.

"Dianna, would you stay focused on helping Quinn. This doesn't seem to be helpful."

The redhead sighed, damn it, she'd almost forgotten. Her head was still fuzzy and the last moments were confusing. The hag's slap hadn't helped. She turned to the angry old woman and smiled. "I need a healing, for a human."

"Go fuck a demon." The hag spat.

"Now, now, no need to get so testy Melva." Dianna pronounced the old word carefully.

"She's telling the truth. It's not a lie." Lauren broke in.

"I'll release your niece." Dianna said, quickly, before one or both of them got a curse put on them. "From my considerable charms." She fluttered her eyelashes at the old woman.

Lauren blinked at that, she wasn't certain she liked how that sounded.

"You will never again taste her emotions." The hag demanded. "And if you do I will curse you until the end of time, Theron!"

"Yes, fine. No need to get all worked up." Dianna smiled at the hag who was glaring at her. "If it makes any difference, the healing is for Detective Quinn." Pale eyes glanced over at Lauren. "The one who dealt with Alvera." She said with meaning and the Hag's eyes sharpened.

Lauren looked between the two women something had changed with that. "Who is Alvera?" She asked quietly.

"One who is best left to rot in Hell." The Hag's lips curled. "What is the healing for?"

"A demoness." Dianna said almost at the same time, before answering the healer. "Her knee, I think a tendon snapped in it."

The hag nodded, moving toward the rear of the church to search for something. Lowering her voice, Dianna moved closer to Lauren. "Alvera had power over a lot of people in the Gray."

"That wasn't a good thing I take it." She said quietly.

"Too much power. She controlled everything." Dianna closed her mouth before she said something else. "There are many who are happy Quinn dealt with her." She said instead.

"Why . . ." She hesitated. "Why did you keep her niece in thrall?"

Dianna looked at her, eyes unreadable. "Because it was fun." She smiled slowly moving closer, until her lips could graze the other woman's ear. "Because she was lovely in bed. Because it's part of what I am, Lauren. You must know that by now." She pulled back a wicked smile on her face.

Goosebumps sprouted on Lauren's tan skin and she took a step back.

"I told you, darkness lives in that one." The Hag was at her side, darkened yellow teeth flashing as she sneered at Dianna. "You should have let her die."

"I've kind of guessed." She said shakily. Lauren's gaze switched from Dianna to the Hag. "It's kind of being mad at a scorpion for stinging you, it's only doing what's in its nature. Besides there's good in her or she wouldn't have saved me."

"She does nothing that does not help her." The hag ignored the sweet smile that Dianna sent her way. "Here." She held up a bottle of what looked like dark mud and handed it to Lauren. "The knee must be wrapped in this, and" she held out a small rusting lunchbox "Quinn must eat these."

Even Lauren knew that wasn't going to go over well.

"Um, do you have anything for a swollen eye."? Lauren asked softly. She was still banged up from getting the demon heart.

"Ice." The hag snapped. "I'm not a pharmacist." She turned away as Dianna chuckled.

Lauren sighed and then glared at Dianna. "You're welcome."

"I know." The half-demon gave a mocking wave to the healer's back. "See you next time, old serpent."

"Come again to my church and you will not leave it, half-breed." The hag's voice echoed oddly about the ruined building as she faded into the shadows at the back.

Lauren peeked outside the doors to see if the strange singing woman was there.

"Looking for someone?" Dianna asked curiously as she held the lunchbox and peeked over the younger woman's shoulder out the doors.

"Um, yes, I mean no . . . I mean . . . well there was a strange woman singing rather morbid songs when I came back to the church with the demon heart."

"Strange things happen in the Gray." Dianna shrugged, stepping outside and looking around. "No one here now."

Lauren nodded and started after Dianna. "If our positions had been reversed would you have saved me?" She asked curious.

"Maybe." She answered honestly. "I like to think I would have tried. What did she want for healing me? You have to be careful, sometimes she asks for more than you can give."

"A demon heart. Which is why parts of my face look like marshmallow." She shrugged.

"It's healing." Dianna gave her a sly look. "Whose heart did you take?" She asked, eyes watching Lauren with avid interest.

Lauren shrugged again. "It had a bloated body with eyes just about everywhere. We didn't exactly exchange names."

"And you killed it just because you needed a demon heart?"

"You were dying. That's what she wanted. I was just going to go grab that demon hound's heart, but that didn't count."

Ignoring that they were in the Gray, something that was dangerous to do, Dianna stopped, grabbing Lauren's arm to stop her too. "And did you enjoy it? The killing?"

Lauren looked uncomfortable. "Why does everyone keep asking me that? Yes, okay, yes. Part of me liked it a lot, part of me is still horrified by it."

"Because your answer tells us how far you've gone." She lowered her voice. "You're a human Lauren, but you're becoming something else I think."

Lauren made a face. "I want to go back and have my family back and be a normal human girl but I can't. All I can do is try to stay me until I stop whatever this is."

"Every time you kill I think there might be less of you." Dianna brushed her fingers across Lauren's cheek, eyes worried.

"Can you stop this? Can you stop what's happening to me?" She watched Dianna's face. "Then stop worrying. Let's deal with the things we can fix, like Quinn's knee."

"Yes." Dianna shook her head, annoyed. She shouldn't be worried for a human. "Time to leave the Gray before we stumble on any other friends."

The singing woman wasn't so bad, Lauren thought.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It took her a moment to realize she was crying.

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Um, yes." She followed behind.

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Stubbornness." She replied with a straight face.

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

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

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

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

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

Quinn just glared.

"Want help?" The bar owner offered helpfully.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The other woman shrugged. "Maybe?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quinn looked at them but didn't ask.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Why not?" Lauren asked curious.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lauren nodded and entered the kitchen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Dianna." Quinn shouted startled by the response.

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

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

"Or what," Dianna's grin turned decidedly evil, "Maggie?".

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Tomorrow." She whispered.

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

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

"You shouldn't." She whispered, hating herself for it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

She hung up and started looking for a car.

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

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

"Da, it's Maggie."

"Maggie girl how are you . . ."

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

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

Maggie cursed.

"None of that. Call your brother."

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

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

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

"That's what older brothers are for."

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

"Situation is that dire." He said sadly.

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

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

"I have to go. I'll call Cain."


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just to be sure she was safe of course.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Right, yelling was a bad idea.

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

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

"She had a gun, I saw it."

"Listen here, you little pissant."

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


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

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

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

"That has Midori in it, right?"

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

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

"A long hard screw."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Giselle shrugged. "I don't see Dianna anywhere, do you little man?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lauren just nodded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lauren laughed at that. "Fair enough."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I promise."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

The ground rushed up and everything went dark again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"That was the chief, he's coming here, now." Ferris shut his cell phone with a snap.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Challa snarled and tried to spit at her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He winked at her and opened the car door.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She said flicking on the light to the bathroom.

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

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

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

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

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

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

"So are you." Dianna laughed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She waited a moment and then got into the shower.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Yes, I loved them."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"The mission? Is that a good idea?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"What happened to her?"

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

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

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

"Oh." That was sad.

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

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

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

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

"Yep, the demon hounds."

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

"Dianna wasn't there, just me."

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

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

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

Lauren pulled a face but did as she was asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lauren winced.


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

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

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

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

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

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

It was well past noon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Quinn took another shower, while Dianna did whatever. She would not think about what the woman was doing behind closed doors.

If they were going to meet with Dianna's father, she couldn't do it smelling like arousal. She cracked her neck and slid the shirt on her brother had left for her. It was large but she could put the vest on and no one would tell. He hadn't seen her since . . . well she'd been larger before everything had happened. Now she had work and working out.

Behind those doors, Dianna was indulging herself in a good thorough sulk. She'd just had one of the worst nights of her entire life and she thought she deserved a little time to feel sorry for herself. When she heard the shower turn off though, she reached over and grabbed the bedside phone. Her cell was missing. Quickly she dialed a number from memory.

"Helga, yes, yes, it's me . . . Helga!" The older woman shut up. "Yes the bar burned, yes I'm fine. I don't know what's going to happen now, just tell everyone to stay home. I'll find out what happens and let you know. Okay?" She listened again and gave a sad smile. "I'm fine I don't know why I'd sound different. Talk to you soon." She hung up before there were any other questions.

Now to see what to wear to see good old dad.

"You ready?" She asked, striding out of her doors wearing the only clothes that would fit. Quinn thought she was a slut, so she might as well dress the part. The T-shirt was at least two sizes too small and rode high on her stomach, and tight against her breasts. The jeans were low on her hips and showed glimpses of the thong she'd chosen.

She didn't want to know why Quinn's brother had left clothes like that for her.

Quinn was sliding the holster over her arm. "One sec . . ." She nearly swallowed her tongue. She could not go into a den of succubi and incubi turned on, that was just a recipe for disaster. "That's what my brother brought for you to wear?"

"I think they fit nicely." She bent over, tugging on the thigh-hugging boots and flashed a look up at the cop. "Don't you think?"

Quinn nodded, she desperately wished she could go back and take back last night and her admission to Dianna, it just made things harder.

"Gotta be the daughter of an incubus after all, right?" There was a bitter note there as Dianna snatched up her coat that smelled like fire.

"Dianna." Quinn said reaching out and snagging her arm. She heard that bitterness and suddenly felt ashamed. "Dianna." She said again. "I'm sorry . . . I'm sorry if I did anything . . ." God she didn't know how to say it. "I like Dianna, the woman I see underneath everything she thinks she supposed to be. I'm sorry if I made you feel somehow beneath me."

"Don't worry Detective; I know my place in this world." Dianna lifted her head, damn if she'd feel bad about being who she was. "I've had enough humans tell me where I belong. Come on, we don't want to be meeting dad during the night. It won't go well."

Fuck, that hadn't gone well. "Yeah, you're right." She opened the guitar case on the couch. "You want any weapons, he left plenty."

"I'm a lover, not a fighter." Dianna purred, but she did take a nice large intimidating looking revolver for herself, which she shoved into her jacket pocket.

Quinn closed the case and slid a jacket on. More to hide the gun than anything else really. She picked up the car keys and tossed them at Dianna. "Let's go."

"So now I get to drive my car?" Dianna knew she was being unreasonable, but she just couldn't seem to stop.

Quinn looked at her confused. "You've always driven youre car. I only drove it here because you were having a meltdown. Understandably so." She opened the front door and stood outside waiting.

"It wasn't a meltdown." But the words sounded hollow even to her own ears as Dianna walked out past the cop and beeped open the doors on the car. Throwing herself into the driver's seat she waited for Quinn. "You ever meet an incubus before?"

Quinn locked the front door and wondered if they'd be back. She made her way to the car and got in.

"No, I don't think so. I'm pretty certain I'd remember, though, if I had." She hated this unbalanced feeling, and cursed herself for changing their dynamic. She shouldn't have told Dianna, now she'd just made things worse. Right now the only thing keeping her out of the DA clutches was Dianna. So she'd fucked everything up, her fault. She just needed to own up to it and move on or they weren't going to live through it. "Any words of wisdom?"

"Yeah, don't think about sex." Dianna answered darkly, shifting into gear and pulling away from the suburban neighborhood. This was not going to be a very fun encounter and she'd hoped they wouldn't have to resort to it at all. "Don't react to anyone he has there; remember, you're a cop out here, but in there, you're just another human." Dianna clenched the wheel.

"You should have some protection at least, from being with me." She said the last quietly, not looking over at Quinn.

It would be hard not to react but it wasn't as if she could call for backup. "I will do my best to forget I'm a cop in there." Sex normally wouldn't be an issue but after that dream and the clothes Dianna was wearing . . . She took a deep breath and focused on her son.

"And don't provoke anyone." Dianna glanced over at her, feeling the shifting emotions. She was getting entirely too good at feeling Quinn's emotions, that was a very bad sign.

"Fine, look, maybe I should just stay in the car." Of course, then she'd be worried about Dianna the whole time.

"We won't be driving there." Dianna gave her a crooked smile. "No roads that we want to drive on down there, he's near the asylum." She looked back over at the road, trying her best not to remember her previous two trips to that place.

"Fuck." Was all Quinn said, a shiver worked her way up her spine. She'd heard of the place, but she'd never been there herself. It was in the Gray, the heart of the Gray, not a place a human or police officer should go.

"Fun days." Dianna said grimly, driving them as far into the Gray as she could reasonably get them before the roads dissolved into complete disrepair. She parked next to what had once been a pharmacy, the front of the store having long ago collapsed out into the street and stepped out.

Pulling a large bill out of her pocket she tucked it under the windshield wiper. "There, maybe the car will be here when we get back." In response to Quinn's curious look she shrugged. "Trolls."

"Right." Quinn had never seen a troll and she was fairly certain she didn't want to. She followed close behind Dianna, her gun drawn, not that she was certain it would do any good, but it made her feel better.

"Are you Catholic?" Dianna asked suddenly as they walked past burnt-out cars. It was somewhere around two, but as usual there was no sun inside the Gray, only cloudy skies. It was best to make the approach during the daytime though, many of the worst things slept during the daytime.

"Mostly. My dad is a Priest." But after what had happened, Quinn's faith had waned like the moon. Of course her da hadn't loved them enough to stay after their mother died; he had lost himself in a bottle and then in the solace of the church. The priesthood had eagerly taken back one of their fallen. A nun and a priest fell in love, he was welcomed back and she had an unmarked grave in a Protestant graveyard, in death still rejected by her faith.

She loved him, it wasn't his fault the church was built on double standards. "I haven't really been to church since I buried my son."

"Dear old dad has a thing about corrupting Catholics, sees it as his duty." Dianna rolled her eyes. "Just wanted you to be aware of it, in case." There were a lot of things that Quinn should be aware of but there wasn't enough time to tell her everything. "You ever been near the heart of the Gray?" She watched the streets; every block brought them deeper, the very atmosphere around them seemed to become more foreboding.

"No. When you join the force you're told very quickly the Gray is not your jurisdiction. If you follow a perp inside of it, you'll have to pay your own medical bills. I patrol the barrier and if it looks like a suspect might make a break for the Gray I shoot them in the leg to prevent it." She'd only done it once but since he was beating up elderly women and raping them, nobody had felt sorry for him.

"So you don't know." Dianna chuckled. "You're something of a hero around here, Quinn. These people are in awe of the mighty demon slayer." She turned, gesturing behind them where, in abandoned buildings and alley ways, dirty faces peered out to watch them.

Quinn's face turned red in embarrassment. "I wasn't a hero, just a mother bear defending her cub." A day late and a dollar short, all she remembered was the anger and thinking that bitch demon might kill her, but Quinn was going to take her with her.

"Doesn't matter, you're still the human that killed someone that was causing a lot of trouble to these people's lives." Dianna looked away and kept walking, this was her second foray into the Gray in a handful of days. If she thought he'd listen, she might have considered praying to God for help.

"She deserved everything she got."

"No argument there. Hope my husband is roasting next to her in Hell." She clamped her jaw shut, not wanting to go there. "How much longer?" She wanted to be out of the Gray before dark.

"It's hard to judge." Dianna shrugged again. "If we're lucky before dark, if not, well? there are worse things than trolls out here. I didn't think I'd ever say this, but I kind of wish Lauren was with us. For being all quiet, she sure likes ripping demons apart." They were getting closer though; she could feel the dampness starting to settle into her bones that she always associated with the asylum.

"I still haven't seen her do her weird shape-changing, demon-killing mojo thing. So I'll take your word for it." It was still really hard to associate the quiet mousy woman with a demon killer. The farther they moved into the Gray, the more Quinn felt like her nerves were being drawn tight until they were brittle. Every cell in her body screamed at her to leave, start walking back the way they came and not look back.

"She's a good kid." Dianna said quietly, feeling the same edginess. "I hope she's all right." Which was the entire point of this little trip, they needed information. Needed it bad enough to come here.

"There." The half-demon said finally, pointing toward what had once been a park. It was full of dead trees now and brown grasses. "See the building on the other side?" She carefully ignored the asylum walls that they could see from where they stood. It sang out to a part of her, calling her and whispering promises. "That's his lair."

Quinn let out a breath. "Daylight's wasting, let's get this done." As pep talks went, it sucked.

Face tight, Dianna nodded and moved quickly. If she refused to look toward the heart of the Gray, she could pretend it wasn't there and maybe the siren's song would abate a little.

It didn't of course, but it made it a little easier to make it through the dead park, the wintry trees standing silent sentinel to their passage. The building that he had chosen as his had once upon a time been a shopping complex. Brightly colored signs advertising wares still hung from the outside.

"We're expected." The bar owner said quietly to Quinn, voice tight as she spotted a familiar corpse-like figure waiting by the main doors. It was early for Bachi to be up and around.

"I suppose that means I can't shoot it." Quinn said, easing her finger from the trigger. She wondered why an incubus would make his home in a shopping center and not in a strip joint; this seemed more geared toward a demon of greed than lust.

Dianna really wished she would, but it was too late now as they stopped in front of Bachi. The demon smiled at her, and again she felt that familiar flesh crawling sensation at the skeletal head's expression.

"Couldn't stay away, could you?" He laughed.

"Stuff it, Bachi, I'm here to see dad, not you."

"I'm hurt." He leered at her and then seemed to notice Quinn. "You brought him a present; maybe he won't be so angry at you after all."

"She's off-limits." Dianna growled.

"We'll see." Bachi licked his lips, pushing open the door for them.

Quinn didn't like being talked about as if she wasn't there, and she really didn't like being talked about as if she was a piece of meat. Wisely though, she held her tongue and said nothing; just followed behind Dianna, gun securely in her hand as a token of security.

Inside, the shopping mall had been transformed. Each store was turned into a play theme, at night they would be full of demons that were attracted by the incubus's power, drawing them to what he had to offer. That was how he controlled a fair size of the Grey, keeping the area in his debt by exploiting their lusts.

"He needed the room." Dianna said, swallowing as she passed by the pretty girls that were walking around. Bachi led them through the mall and she shivered as she felt the lusts and hurts washing around her. It was always confusing for her in here.

"To exploit." She explained, grasping at straws.

Quinn glared at the scantily clad women, some of them she'd bet were barely legal if that. She glared at them to keep them moving so they wouldn't tempt Dianna. She moved closer to the half-demon. "A playground for the depraved. Fun."

Sweat beaded along the half-demon's scalp and she gritted her jaw, taking refuge in Quinn's honest indignation. The depraved around her were not only demons; the Gray called to all sorts of desperate people. Runaways, murderers, abusers, anything and everyone was welcome.

"Seat of his power." She groaned, feeling someone's nearby torture tug at her.

It truly was the land of freedom she thought darkly.

"He's waiting for you." Bachi had stopped in front of one of the larger stores, eyes watching Quinn as he mentally undressed the human. He wondered if she'd scream for mercy or not.

Quinn rolled her eyes at the look.

She'd seen it plenty in rapists and other abusers. Checking her out, wondering where the chink in her armor was, how they could break her. She'd seen it plenty and it disgusted her but it no longer fazed her. She put a hand on Dianna's back, wanting to reassure her that it was okay, that she was here and had her back no matter how bad it got. She nearly gasped at the tingle as her hand made contact with Dianna's back. Some sort of static charge.

Her grip on the gun was unwavering though, and her eyes never left the thing in front of them, wanting to use it so badly on him it made her finger itch to move.

The half-demon startled in shock at the contact on her bare back and then her muscles relaxed. The touch reinforced her link with the cop and she selfishly indulged in the other woman's emotions. They overrode everything else and she took in a deep breath, pleased that the barrage of emotions was fading. Ignoring Bachi, she moved through the doors and into her father's private domain. Here there were both pretty girls and boys, her father had no preference.

These were his private playthings, they all had the glazed-over look of someone fully addicted to an incubus. They'd do anything he asked them, anything at all.

"Come to pay me back what you owe me?" The masculine voice was not happy as he stepped into view, naked except for a robe that did nothing to cover his perfectly sculpted body.

"Malax." Dianna swallowed, watching the dark-haired man stride toward them.

"Daughter." He wasn't watching her though, those devastatingly blue eyes were focused on Quinn.

It was hard to be quiet; Quinn wanted to ask who the hell Malax was. But she managed and when his eyes fixed on her she drew every ounce of will power she had learned dealing with Dianna and hundreds of other demons and half-breeds over the years.

She could feel his gaze like physical fingers, touching her; in response she drew back the hammer of the gun in her hand and thought of her son covered in blood.

"This is Detective Quinn." Dianna swallowed again, tense even with the feel of Quinn's hand on her back. Meetings with Malax were never pleasant.

"Quinn . . . ahh yes." Understanding dawned and Malax laughed, turning to help himself to a glass of something that a pretty young human teenager fetched him. "Did you bring her here to pay your debt to me? I admit it's an unusual choice but she does make a striking figure."

Quinn's teeth ground together, it was so hard not to say anything.

"She's mine." Dianna slid an arm up along Quinn's, sliding it around the cop's waist, touching skin. She needed this contact or she'd completely loose herself here.

"Is she now?" Malax smiled, an expression that sent the nearest of his harem to their knees, quivering near him. He played with the hair on the head of the nearest.

Quinn nearly misfired the gun at the touch. She swallowed and almost moaned. Absently she relaxed the hammer of the gun and took her finger away from the trigger.

"If she is not my gift, you owe me the rest of your mortgage on the bar." He laughed a beautiful sound. "I rather like playing banker, it amuses me that you were forced to come to me to get money."

Dianna's hand clenched in anger. "I did what I had to." The story of her life. "I'm here because we need information, something you have a lot of."

"Information is pricey and you already owe me so much." He walked closer, smiling pleasantly. "Perhaps you'll have to prove yourself again. Do you remember how pleasant that was? Bachi does." He looked slyly at Quinn, enjoying these word games.

Quinn's gaze darted to the thing at the door her eyes narrowing.

"Didn't know that, did you, human? Would you like me to show you how I had Dianna prove she was my daughter?" Malax laughed again at the look on his daughters face.

The cop's mouth opened to say something but then she closed it, hating it but having to trust in Dianna. This was not a place she understood, words uttered could be held against her or bind her in promises not intended.

"She's not a part of the deal." Dianna stepped in between them, face tight. "We need information on a demoness and where a friend of ours is. It's not much for someone who knows everything that everyone wants in the Gray."

"Tell him he can have the bar. Tell him you forsake it, he can resell it and recover his monetary loss. He's not going to help." She said the words in a rush, breaking her silence.

Dianna's back stiffened under Quinn's touch but Malax's eyes sharpened. "You'll forsake your claims on the bar to me?" He almost purred at that.

"Yes." Dianna's whisper was harsh. "If that's the price." It hurt more than she'd expected.

Bingo, he knew shit that could help them. The bar was gone, burned in demon fire a worthless piece of property that no one would buy.

Malax moved right up into Dianna's personal space, fingers stroking her cheek. "All of your claims." He repeated.

She jerked her head with a nod, out of his touch.

Quinn's eyes narrowed, she didn't like the sound of that. "Wait. What does he mean, all of them?"

"Doesn't matter." Dianna hissed, as Malax's attention swung to the human. He stepped around his daughter, eyes almost luminous as he moved closer to Quinn. "The mighty demon slayer herself." His voice purred as he drew closer to her. "I should welcome you properly."

Quinn raised the gun up, "Not if you want to keep that trouser snake working between your legs." It was level with his crotch. "Knowing my brother, this is loaded with something that will hurt a little."

Malax smiled a radiant expression as he began to focus his entire will on Quinn. Dianna slid a hand against his cheek, turning his head toward her before things got ugly. "She's not part of the deal." The half-demon repeated. "You want the bar, you give me the information and we complete the deal. Touch her and you get nothing."

Her father hesitated; he wanted Quinn, that was obvious. Slowly, he stepped away and Dianna shook with relief.

Quinn was tense enough she expected to shit a diamond. "I want to know what he means by all your claims."

"The human was with Melva today, seems to be tagging along with Melva's little dimwit of an assistant." He flicked his robe over his arousal. "You'll find them in the old church. As for Alvera, she desires a way back into this world. Something that she thinks your human can take away from her."

Both of them ignored Quinn, father and daughter staring at one another. "That is what you wished, isn't it?" He smiled and Dianna slowly nodded.

"Who is after Lauren, tell us that and we have a deal." Dianna said, almost forgetting that bit.

"Alvera of course. It has a beautiful symmetry to it don't you think?" He laughed again. "A powerful foe, I will be interested in seeing who wins, either way will suit me." The demon held out his hand.

Reluctantly, Dianna let go of Quinn and held out her own which he grabbed. Bone crunched on bone and her legs folded under her as she went to her knees with a cry of pain. "You are nothing to me now." He growled. "All you had is mine; your claim on my domain revoked."

Quinn fired, an instinct, to save her friend, but she did not fire at Malax but at his seat of power. Most major demons like to keep a reservoir of power stored near them. In case, just in case. A totem carved into his bed, a symbol of power collecting every lusty thought and deed. "Let go of her now. Or I shoot you next."

"Feisty aren't you?" Malax let go, smiling as he stepped away. "I will love to get to know you better." He promised as Dianna got shakily to her feet.

Quinn wanted to say something, but she decided not push her luck. She moved to Dianna's side.

"Are you okay?" She asked whispering into Dianna's ear as she flicked the safety on and stuffed the gun into the back of her pants.

Her arms went around Dianna, helping her.

"Peachy." Dianna gritted her teeth; fairly certain he'd just broken bones in her right hand as Quinn helped her to her feet. Malax watched them with hooded eyes and she wanted to get the hell out of there. "We should go, now."

Quinn nodded and herded them to the door. "I'm sorry; I should have kept my mouth shut." She said quietly. She couldn't help feeling this was her fault.

"Was worth it to see you aim a gun at his dick." Dianna forced a grin, shoving past Bachi and out into the mall.

"I should have pulled the trigger." Quinn said with a glare at what's his name at the door. "Uh, did you really sleep with that, that . . . thing?"

"I had to prove I was his daughter." Dianna jerked her arm out of Quinn's touch, she couldn't bear to feel the disgust that she was certain would follow. Curious and sometimes hostile eyes watched them leave.

"Would you stop it?" Quinn said exasperated. "I don't think any differently of you, other than sorry you felt you had to do something you didn't want to."

"Let's just get out of here." Dianna said, holding her right hand. It throbbed painfully and was already starting to swell. Bastard had broken something in it.

Quinn sighed, rebuffed. "Yeah." She fished the gun out of her pants and flicked the safety off. She didn't really trust Malax to just let them go.

"Where to now?"

"We should find Lauren I guess?" Dianna cradled her hand to her chest, walking faster as they left the front doors to the mall. The trees seemed even more foreboding now and she wondered if that was just her imagination.

"How pissed is your dad going to be when he finds out he just got a pile of hellfire scorched earth?"

"He knows. He wants the land it was on. He'll use it to expand the Gray." Dianna's words were short and clipped by pain. "He's pissed I won't be paying him five grand a week anymore though."

Fuck and Quinn thought they'd gotten the better end of the deal. She sighed. "Alright let's find Lauren and I'll try not to make things worse by talking."

"Don't stop now." Dianna forced a grin. "I mean you could.. QUINN!" She yelled, seeing the thin stick of a man suddenly dart out from between the dead trees at the human. Bachi moved with a deadly silent intent, blade gleaming in his right hand as he leapt at the human.

With years of training behind her Quinn didn't even hesitate she turned and fired; three shots to the chest and two to the head.

They fell in a tangle of limbs, Quinn cursed as the gun flew out of her hand.

Bachi tumbled into Quinn, thrashing as the bullet holes she'd shot him with smoked. Still not dead even with all that damage. "You son of a bitch . . ." Quinn fumbled with her pistol, awkward in her left hand; the fingers in her right weren't working too well at the moment. Before she could manage it the demon's convulsing slowed and then stopped as he died, tangled up on top of Quinn.

He was surprisingly heavy, and Quinn grunted trying to push him off of her.

"Quinn?" Dianna gave up on the gun, using her good hand to help push the dead demon off the cop. "You okay?"

Quinn got up slowly; she had to wonder if that was meant for her. "Come on, let's get going before any more surprises."

One last kick and Dianna nodded, jaw tight with pain.

Without hesitating, Dianna handed her gun over to the Detective.

Quinn's nostrils flared when their skin touched and she had a sudden desire to crush her lips to the other woman's. She yanked her hand back and shoved the gun into her holster.

For a brief second pain was washed away in something far more pleasant and Dianna's lips quirked up in a grin at the human. "You're dangerous."

Quinn blinked. "What?"

"Those deep emotions of yours." Dianna sighed as the pain crept back in. "Come on."

Quinn licked her lips as she watched Dianna's lips move. She had to shake her head slightly to shake loose her thoughts. "What about them?" She moved to follow, feeling warm she undid the top button on her shirt.

"I can feel them from over here." Which was true, the pain masked them a bit, but she could feel Quinn's arousal and anger. The combination was intoxicating. "I hope the information we got was worth it."

Following didn't help because she had to look at Dianna's ass highlighted in those tight jeans. It had to be Malax's influence she'd been fine before entering that place.

"Did we really get anything?" She asked voice cracking

"Sure." Dianna was having trouble focusing as she felt where Quinn's desires were going. Since when did she have to be good? She was half-demon for god's sake! "Alvera's behind the attacks on Lauren, we didn't know that. Or that she's trying to come back."

Her emotions really didn't seem to be all that deep right now. "Okay. That is something new. How did she find out about Lauren? I can't even find out about Lauren." She put a hand over the cut on her arm, it was hot to the touch and slick with blood, she squeezed it tightly needing the pain to clear her head as her dream from this morning came back to her.

Dianna stopped abruptly; they were only a few blocks away from the edge of the Gray now, and turned to grab Quinn's shoulder with her good hand. "You have to stop." Pale eyes were wide and dilated. "Please, you're torturing me."

"I'm trying." Quinn said quietly. "I was fine until the attack, keeping everything buried; your father did something to me." She didn't know that for sure but suddenly her control was at its ragged end.

The half-demon whimpered, eyes closing at the touch. "Please." She breathed.

Dianna's skin was cool and soft to the touch. Quinn could feel every exhale against her skin. She felt like she was burning where Dianna touched her. "Let me go Dianna, I can't seem to help myself." Everything was suddenly so close to the surface.

"Can't." The other woman groaned and then she pulled Quinn against her, exalting in the feel of her body pressed against each other. Not caring anymore she tilted her head, wanting a kiss, needing one more than she thought was possible. Aching for it.

"I want you more than anything." It was true but this wasn't the place for such admissions, but it didn't stop her from closing the gap and kissing Dianna with all the passion she had stored up.

Moaning, Dianna turned them, pushing Quinn up against an abandoned storefront. Desire and passion, the emotions swept through her so hot they burned everything else away. She needed Quinn or was it that Quinn needed her? She couldn't tell whose emotions they where.

Quinn felt hot enough to light up the night sky. She bit and sucked at Dianna's lips, while hands slipped along bare flesh to find purchase under that too short shirt.

Her cop's brain told her it wasn't right, none of it. It screamed of a setup. Except it felt so extremely right. Dianna was inside her skin, touching places that had never been touched, inflaming passions she didn't even know she had. The cop in her wouldn't shut up that something was off.

Diana leaned her head against the rough wall, trembling with desire. Fuck--she was going to die if she didn't get some release soon; she needed this like she needed breathing and right now she would have gladly given up breathing to have Quinn. "This is a bad idea, worse idea doing it here. We can't stay here."

Quinn's breath caught at the kiss against her skin. "Later, someplace where your father isn't around. Sorry, so sorry, I put us at risk." He'd gotten to her somehow made all those private emotions rise uncontrollably to the top

"Why are you having such a hard time now?" Dianna murmured, suddenly grabbing Quinn's arm so she could peer closer at the small wound. It still was bleeding a little, bright-red blood seeping through. But around the edges there were flakes of something darker, almost black and she suddenly understood what Bachi had tried to do.

"Bastard." She whispered. "Bachi's blade was coated, probably had a bit of Malax's blood on it, that's why you're having trouble. The blood of an incubus can unlock all sorts of inhibitions." Unaccountably, the half-demon felt sadness at that. So all of this was because of the blood, not because Quinn had actually decided she wanted her.

Firmly, and against every instinct in her, Dianna pushed away from the human.

Quinn gave a bitter laugh. Her blue eyes were dark as they watched Dianna push away from her. "That doesn't mean those aren't my emotions, he didn't give them to me, force them on to me. He just brought them to the surface." She pushed away from the wall and straightened her clothes. "But wait I'm Quinn, I'm Robocop, I can't possible feel anything for anyone. I'm a sexless creature that vaguely looks human. Let me tell you Theron, those were all mine, as embarrassing as it is to have them all brought to the surface and laid bare, that was all me."

She kicked the wall in frustration. "Just go, just start walking. I'll follow 10 feet behind so I don't fucking taint you with my feelings." Quinn didn't feel any better for the outburst because Dianna was still there. She could see a bloody handprint, hers, just under Dianna's breast. Desire spiked again, remembering the feeling of Dianna's skin. "Just go." She said again, her voice laced with misery.

"Taint me?" Dianna laughed. "Quinn, do you even realize who it is that you're talking to right now? You can't taint me, those emotions?" The half-demon hesitated. "They're strong, just like you, and beautiful." She looked away. "But you shouldn't have been forced to share them with me like this, in the middle of the Gray."

Quinn nodded, her expression was still miserable. "Let's just get going." She wasn't a hundred percent positive Dianna wasn't just being nice so they could get the hell out of this place. "Before I share more than my emotions." The heat was coming back, radiating out from her bones.

"I would really like it if you would." Dianna groaned though and turned, starting to walk. Why was she having to be the good one? She was a half-demon for fucks sake! The throbbing pain in her hand was the only reason she could avoid jumping Quinn right there and then.

Quinn watched her go, holding back until she felt that Dianna was far enough in front of her. Then slowly she started moving. Focusing on breathing, hoping to gather all her scattered emotions and put them back down deep inside before she got them killed. She nearly had just now; overwhelming Dianna, distracting them both like that in the Gray was deadly.

"I know where he was talking about. It isn't far." Dianna called behind her, nerves jangling from their recent exchange. She couldn't recall the last time she'd gone so many days without release, and now after having tasted Quinn, she was finding it very hard to simply walk away. Even the throbbing pain in her hand wasn't enough to fully distract her from the throbbing between her legs.

"Okay." Quinn said from behind. This was torture, why couldn't half-demons be ugly, why did Dianna have to go show her that behind all those facades she was actually a decent person. She cared for Lauren that much was obvious; she even kind of cared about her, or respected her for killing Alvera.

The cut in her arm pulsed each step heat and desired bubbled from somewhere inside of her. Fucking incubus's and their fucking games, she thought angrily and then deliberately kicked a large chunk of cement stubbing her toe. The flash of pain momentarily cleared her head.

"Stop hurting yourself!" Dianna grated out harshly without looking back, wobbling in front of Quinn. This was intolerable, something was going to have to give or she was going to kill someone! She never wanted to be linked with a human, hadn't even known it could be this intense or she would have run away screaming before Quinn had even introduced herself.

"Sorry." Quinn said quickly, confused how Dianna knew what she was doing back here. They needed to have a talk and soon, this had started with that kiss back at the bar before she had left.

"Just? don't do that." Dianna growled, quickening her pace. The sooner they were out of the street and had found Lauren, the better. She wasn't going to be able to survive much more of this.


Alvera, dark goddess of the down below, seductress and tempter of men's souls, wasn't very happy. She stared at the body at her feet. "What is that?"

The minions shifted nervously chirping in their tongue. The blob like thing moved forward a slit formed making a mouth. "That is Challa. I believe."

The demoness poked it with a stiletto-clad foot. "The girl?"

"Still on the loose. Also to give you more bad news, the DA picked up Maggie Quinn, she escaped, which from what I understand is a good thing. The agent in charge was going to kill her. It seems like she's pissed off the man."

"I understand the feeling, but she's mine to kill." Alvera said drawing back her bloodied foot. "Get me the Blood Witch, I need to know what Challa saw. That abomination needs to be put down before she upsets the balance of things."

Everyone fled to do her bidding.


Lauren followed the dancing and singing Blue, not really sure where they were going but really, she felt compelled to chase after Blue and make sure nothing happened to her. Which was silly because Blue had been taking care of herself just fine before Lauren popped into her life. Clutched to Lauren's chest was her sister's black bag. The tea had helped some but the shakes were coming back, she'd have to pick a vial and inject herself soon, the muscles were starting to cramp in her neck and along her spine.

"Here, showers." Blue came to a sudden stop at the edge of the Gray, pointing at one of the few buildings that held life still in it. The old YMCA was still in operation, stubbornly resisting the Gray that had crept around it. "Hot showers." She practically moaned the word as she turned to look at Lauren, eyes wide.

"Thanks." Lauren said with a smile. She had to wonder how this place had stayed free of demons. Moving forward into the building she looked around suspiciously.

"Don't worry about them." Blue grabbed Lauren's hand, pulling her toward the side entrance that she used when she visited. A group of men lounged by the door, weapons quite visible as they talked and joked back and forth. Harley bikes pulled up nearby were festooned with colors and elaborate paint jobs, the brighter the better.

"They keep an eye on things." She explained, threading her fingers with Lauren's as she brightly waved at the nearest bald man with a huge mustache.

Lauren blushed as Blue threaded their fingers together and she weakly smiled at the bald man as she was dragged behind Blue.

"You don't talk much do you?" Blue giggled, as the men made way and bowed to her as she passed. "They're silly." She pronounced, leading Lauren through the back ways of the complex and toward the showers.

"Silly isn't really a word I would use to describe them." Lauren said to prove she could talk. As they came to the showers, the young woman blinked. "Ah, it's open shower, no private stalls." She wasn't certain her face could get redder.

"No one will bother us." Blue promised, shoving a bar across the door to lock it from the inside. There'd been problems with that a few times until the inner lock had been rigged up. The large shower area could handle a dozen women and Blue happily set about stripping in front of Lauren.

"You don't like getting naked either?" The homeless woman teased as Lauren stared

"Either?" Lauren said when she picked her jaw off the ground. This wasn't good, Blue, despite the robes of poverty and homelessness she wore, was a fit and lovely looking woman. She made her decision which vial to use, the one that made her skin like stone and ultra-strong was rather aggressive. She settled on the one that gave her wings. She tended to be mellower even if she liked to take shiny objects.

"I'll be just a second . . ." Her eyes darted around the old locker room until she found a bathroom stall. "I'll just . . . yeah."

"Okay." Blue looked at her puzzled, but started up the first shower, waiting until the first blast of steaming water settled out. The rag tag pants and shirt were quickly tossed aside and the naked woman practically leapt into the water stream.

"It feels good!" She stuck her head out, frowning. "I don't know youre name. I'm sorry; I forget things, like names sometimes. I know what people think but I'm not stupid, I just, sometimes thoughts hurt, you know?"

Her muscles seized and Lauren nearly dropped the needle. "Uh, oh, yeah? thoughts can hurt, memories especially." She got the needle into her skin.

"Are you okay?" Blue stepped more out of the shower, dripping wet.

With a push of the plunger, peace settled over her. "I'm fine. My name's Lauren by the way." The laziness of the Great Wyrm settled into her DNA, soothing her.

She tossed the needle and the vial back into the case; she'd have to remember to toss the used needle. She opened the door and set down the case and started removing her clothes. It would have been nice to have clean ones but she didn't think it was very likely that would happen.

The shaggy blond didn't look very believing of that, but she stepped back under the water. "You don't sound fine."

"I'll be better than fine in a moment." She said with a smile; her eyes flashed gold in color and then back to brown. With a contented purr, she stepped under a nozzle of hot water.

"Is it drugs?" Blue glanced quickly over at her, admiring the darker skin and clean lines. Lauren looked nice she decided, not scary like most of the other women that Blue ran into. "Drugs are bad."

Lauren winced feeling somewhat ashamed. "Kind of . . . I don't know really."

"Your arms have marks." Blue said, moving out of her shower to grab Lauren's hand, turning over the arm and tracing the needle marks with her fingertips.

Lauren gasped, surprised and her eyes shifted color. "Blue." She pleaded. "Please don't."

The other woman ignored her, humming to herself, lips moving to a song that didn't quite fit the humming and Lauren's skin heated where Blue's fingers touched and stroked. The skin shifted under her coaxing, returning to what it should have been as Blue reminded it that it should be whole. The redness seeped away and all that was left were small pockmark scars.

"There." Blue whispered, looking up a little into Lauren's eyes. "Better."

Stunned, Lauren looked from her arm to the woman holding it. "Amazing. I've never seen anything like it."

Blue ducked her head, wet hair swinging in front of her face. "I like helping people and you're hurting." She kept her fingers where they were, inching closer. The air was cold and Lauren's shower and body were warm.

Lauren's eyes got wider. "Blue? I don't think that's a good idea." Her body did, but her body was betraying her left and right these days. Plus Melva would kill her if she did anything to or with Blue.

"Oh." Blue ducked her head, snatching her hand away. "I'm sorry, I thought, I mean . . . you were nice to me, and I thought you liked me, but . . . I'm sorry." She pulled away, back to her own shower, shoulders shaking.

"Blue, no, I mean yes. Yes, I do like you." She said louder than necessary as the other woman retreated.

"It's okay." Blue scrubbed at her hair, hard. "I know, I know, Blue, you're cute but I don't like girls like that, Blue you're funny but I like girls that have money, Blue, Blue, Blue, that means no, no, no."

"Blue . . ." The words tangled in her throat. "I like girls like that, I like you like that, but I've never had a girlfriend let alone kissed a girl, and I'm not exactly safe to be around." The words came out in a messy rush of vowels.

The scrubbing slowed to a stop and Blue turned. "You like me? Really? You're not just saying that to the poor girl?" Blue's eyes were wide and hopeful.

"I'm really not in a position to judge you about anything." Lauren said her breath catching; Blue was long lanky limbs with defined muscles in her legs, and naked. Lauren diverted her eyes

"Oh." As soon as it had come the sadness disappeared, replaced by a radiant smile. "I like you too, I think I do. You're nice and you look really good." Blue bit her lip, blushing a little.

Lauren blushed harder. "Thanks." She hurried and washed herself afraid; she'd do something bad to Blue, afraid the demons inside her would take over. "You have a nice bod . . . um.. you look good too." She said with a shy glance at the other woman.

Giggling, Blue started washing again, much happier than a minute ago. "You've never had a girlfriend? Not even a little one?" She kept stealing glances over at Lauren.

"No, I was too afraid what . . ." she sighed. "I was too afraid of everything."

"Oh. Were you afraid of kissing?" Blue licked her lips.

"No, I wanted that more than anything. I was afraid of everyone else. My parents more than anything, they were very, very Catholic; being gay wouldn't have been a good thing in their eyes, and I was already a failure in so many ways to them."

"I'm sorry, that sounds horrible." Blue scrunched up her face, turning off the shower she'd been using. "It's okay if you say no, or you don't want to, but I could kiss you?" She said hopefully.

Lauren swallowed. "I'd like that." For a moment she thought she might hyperventilate

Completely at ease naked, Blue padded forward, licking her lips again as she got closer. "You're shivering." She whispered, fingers trailing against the skin of Lauren's arms. "Birds of a feather flock together, and so will pigs and swine, rats and mice will have their choice, and so will I have mine."

Lauren was sure that it made sense to Blue but as long as she wasn't a pig or swine she'd live.

"I'm a little scared I think." She said softly.

"Scared of me?" Blue took a little half step closer, the hot water splashing down on her.

"No, god no, maybe of the moment. Maybe how things might change once I kiss you. Maybe . . ." She gave a nervous giggle. "There are a lot of maybes."

"Maybe you should shut up." Blue teased.

Lauren's jaw clicked shut.

"Hush little baby, don't say a word, Mama's gonna buy you a mockin'bird." She sang quietly, leaning up and ever so carefully pressing her lips against Lauren's. Her chest brushed against Lauren's and she gasped in surprise. Swallowing she pulled back, shaking a little herself.

Maybe they should have waited to kiss when their clothes were on. Lauren's hands went around Blue's waist. "You okay?"

"Good." She swallowed. "But could we . . . I mean, again?"

Lauren nodded. She raised up on her toes to kiss Blue.

This time was better, longer, without either of them gasping and drawing back in surprise. Blue felt like singing and dancing when they stopped and she threw her arms around Lauren, hugging the naked woman tight.

Lauren was feeling different. Her fingers dug into Blue's sides and for a moment she wanted things very less sweet and innocent. Her eyes were gold and skin bubbled. Her gut cramped and with all the inner strength she could muster she let go of the woman pushing her back a bit. "Blue, I need you to step back." Her voice hissed out as her skin reformed into hard scales. "Please, I don't want to hurt you."

"Sorry!" Blue scampered backwards, eyes wide as she stared at Lauren. "Your eyes . . . how'd you do that?" She stared at Lauren confused.

Lauren stepped back as well her back hitting the cold tile wall and she slipped down it and hid her face in her hands wanting to cry. Her first kiss and she nearly raped the woman. How fucked up was that?

"Oh . . . no, please don't cry. I liked the kiss." Blue wrapped her arms around herself, wanting to help but Lauren had told her not too.

Lauren gave a hiccupping laugh. "It's not your fault, I liked the kiss too." She mumbled out through her fingers. "Its my fault."

"Why?" Cautiously Blue crept forward until she knelt near Lauren's feet, the hot water keeping them warm.

"Cause. I can't control the things inside me. A simple kiss and the demon comes bursting out wanting more, wanting to take."

"Take?" Blue blinked. "Take me?"

Lauren nodded her face heating up even more despite the scales that now covered it.

"Oh." Blue reached out to touch those scales, fascinated. "Would it be ummm . . . taking, if I gave?"

"What?" Lauren looked up from her hands shocked.

Blue blushed, turning very red. "It's not taking if someone gives." She said quietly.

"True, but you hardly know me. That's something pretty important to give to someone you don't know."

"I know you, the important parts." Blue drew her hand away. "But I know people are slower at this." Impulsively she leaned in and kissed Lauren quickly. "We should go; others will want to use the showers."

Lauren was so stunned she forgot she was upset, she nodded and slowly stood up.


Quinn looked around the abandoned building. "Someone was here. But they're not here now."

It had taken awhile but she'd found the room someone used to live in. There was fuel for a fire and a bed of sorts.

"I can't believe you found this." Dianna stepped around lumps of what she hoped were only coal, staring in fascination at the old-style boilers around them. "You think it was Lauren?"

"I'm a detective, I detect." She said with a sniff. "As to the person or persons, I have no idea."

"Can't you just detect that?" Dianna snipped, still on edge from earlier. Things were definitely strained between the two women.

She looked through two different sleeping nests. "Human or half-demon, demons just smell different. But nothing left behind to say who was here." She stood up her mouth in a thin line. "Fine, I'm Lauren, the second home I've ever known is destroyed. I have no food, water or supplies, where in this area would I go to get that stuff?"

She cracked her neck. "I'm thinking a church or soup kitchen. No questions, no one would look at you twice."

"Two choices then." Dianna bent down to peek in the teakettle that was inside of one of the boilers, sniffing its contents. "The church she came with me to get the stuff to heal your leg, and the YMCA isn't too far from here, they do handouts some days."

"Church." To Quinn's mind was the logical place. "She's been there before; it will have some sense of safety with its familiarity."

"Melva's not going to be happy to see me again so soon." Dianna sighed and stood up, catching Quinn watching her ass.

"Fine, I'll go to the church and you go to the Y." Quinn said looking away.

"What and let you regain your composure? No way, we go together." Dianna said with a smile, her sadistic side showing.

Quinn sighed and ran a shaky hand through her hair. "Fine, whatever." She started up the creaking metal staircase.

"Love the view." Dianna teased from behind her, following her up the stairs. Quinn certainly had a nice firm-looking backside.

"Stop it Dianna." Quinn growled out. "You don't get to tell me to control myself in one breath and then start teasing me in the next." She'd had the whole walk to get her emotions back under control. Her arm throbbed and ached where the cut was, the skin was hot and red. Flashes of Dianna and her, locked in a passionate embrace flickered in her head and she was asserting every piece of control she had not to put them in danger and not to get herself rejected again.

Twice was a record for her making a fool of herself.

"Quinn, this is what I am. You met my father, sex is part of me." Dianna shifted the makeshift sling she'd made to keep her hand steady. She'd made the mistake once of touching it against her thigh on the walk here and had nearly doubled over in pain.

"The connection just makes things even worse." She muttered.

She knew that, had always known that about Dianna, that's why she'd never said anything or acted on her attraction. Except last night, the stupidest thing she'd ever done. "What was that. What connection?"

"Between us, good god, you aren't going to tell me you haven't noticed it?" Dianna reached the top of the stairs after Quinn, throwing up her good hand in annoyance.

Quinn blinked and turned around looking at Dianna. "I . . . you could always feel emotions. I just thought it was that, that I was slipping, I needed to work harder."

"Well, that's not it." Dianna snorted, looking away. "It's partly my fault I guess, I should never have taken your pain away. It just made it stronger every time I did it and then . . ." She shook her head.

"And then what?"

"And then everything fell apart and your feelings came out and now I don't think it's ever going to go away!" Dianna whirled on her, yelling, fear and anger merging. "It's going to be fun feeling your pity for me, or how I disgust you for the rest of my life!"

Quinn's eyebrows rose into her red hair. "Then take the connection away. If it bothers you so much, take it away."

"I can't!" Dianna shoulders slumped and she dropped her arm, pale eyes watching Quinn with something like fear in them. "I can't." Turning she pushed past the human, eager to leave.

They made it outside of the abandoned building and Quinn looked around. "We're not done talking about this connection thing." But she was willing to let it drop for now, as they had more important things to do, like finding Lauren. They weren't too far from where the bar had been.

"How do we get to the church?"

"This way." Dianna glanced at the sky, it was still daylight, but they were burning precious time with every argument. Quickly she started moving, hoping they could get this over with before night fell. "Melva's the one who I went to get your knee healed." She explained as they moved, wondering how long they could go without something else trying to attack them.

Quinn followed doing her best to stay back away from Dianna, but when her focus wavered she would find her steps increasingly drawing her closer to the woman. "Thank you for that by the way, healing my knee." And the only payment Dianna had wanted was for her to take Lauren and go. Dianna was a better person than a lot would give her credit for, herself included.

"Yeah well?" The former bar owner rolled her eyes at herself. "I wanted my bed back." It was lame as explanations went but she kept getting distracted every time Quinn got closer to her. Was she always going to be a slave to the human woman's feelings now? The thought set her teeth on edge and she moved faster. "Melva's strange, just to warn you. She's not a demon, I never could figure out what she was exactly, but she's been here for a long, long time."

Quinn somehow thought she wasn't going to like this healer woman. "I promise to be on my best behavior when I meet her." She said moving faster to keep up with Dianna."

"She might like you; she likes anyone who takes an active dislike to most of what I do." Dianna slowed finally as they reached the crumbling church. What exactly, she wondered, had she done that was so bad she deserved to visit Melva twice in one week?

"The soup kitchen must be just closing." The half-breed nodded at the homeless and abandoned that were slowly trickling out of the ruined church. There were always more of them than she suspected could survive in the Gray. She thought, or at least hoped, that most of them simply stayed at the edge of the Gray.

"Half-breed." Melva spotted them far earlier than Dianna would have liked and the hunched over woman moved to stop them at the door. "What do you want?"

"Pleasant, isn't she?" Dianna said aside to Quinn, earning her an even darker scowl from the dark-skinned healer.

"She certainly seems to have your number." Quinn responded. She stepped forward unconsciously placing her hand on the small of Dianna's back. She gasped and her eyes dilated. The cop wanted to rip the half-demon's clothes off right there. It was close for a second, only her stubborn will kept her from, in her opinion, utterly embarrassing herself again. She snatched her hand away, and gritted her teeth for a second before croaking out. "We're looking for our friend. A young woman named Lauren; I understand you met her the other night."

Dark eyes studied the human and then the flushed and far-away look on Dianna's face. After a second or two the crone startled cackling, almost bent over laughing as she held herself up against the side of the church door. "Oh! It's priceless! The mighty Dianna tamed by a human, tell me half-breed, does she lead you around on a leash?" Melva laughed.

Dianna tensed, eyes furious, but Melva was already ignoring her, studying Quinn as she continued chuckling to herself. "And you must be the one with the knee problem. I wondered then why this one," a thumb was hooked at Dianna, "would bother caring. It's clearer now. Come in, I was about to have tea, I think I'll enjoy hearing this story."

"We don't have time?" Dianna grumbled, not wanting to get humiliated again.

"Yes, you do. Lauren's with a friend of mine, perfectly fine. They should be back here shortly in fact if I know my friend's patterns well enough." Melva moved away from them, surprisingly fast for an old woman.

Quinn hesitated, but then followed not really having anything better. "Tea sounds great." She said weakly knowing somehow Dianna was mad at her. "Uh, since you're a healer, do you have anything for this cut? It's infected with some demon blood." Maybe if the wound was treated everything would go back to the way it had been.

In the back of the church, a place where Dianna had never gone, there was a reasonably sized kitchen set up under part of the roof that was still intact in the old rectory. Melva set some water to boil and then peered closer at the cut on Quinn's arm. "Ah, I could heal the cut, but the effects I think will last." A yellow gap-toothed smile appeared on the old woman's face. "Which I think you already know about, don't you?"

Without looking away from Quinn, Melva reached over and grabbed Dianna's broken hand, squeezing it. The half-demon yelped in pain, eyes tearing as bone ground against bone. "But I could heal this, for a price."

Quinn's hand was on top of the old woman's, her eyes flashing in anger as Dianna yelped. "What's the price?"

"Nothing really." Melva smiled again as Dianna tried to keep breathing through the pain. The old woman's grip was painfully strong on her broken hand. "The goodwill of the police is not something I often have."

"Because you're inside the Gray. The police have no power here." She felt the muscles tense under her hand. "However, outside the Gray I would do what's in my power to make sure your issues were addressed quickly and with respect."

"Then we have an agreement." Melva let go of Dianna's hand, the half-demon sagging up against Quinn's side, hand burning from the pain. "Do we not?" The old crone held out her hand.

Quinn nodded and carefully gripped the old woman's hand to shake it. Her left arm went around Dianna to support the woman.

Melva shook her hand and with the side of her thumb's fingernail, cut Quinn's skin as she pulled away. Dark eyes dancing with amusement, she sucked the small drop of blood off her finger. "A deal in blood is binding. Now tell me you're story while I fix this one's hand."

Quinn made a face but she didn't jerk her hand away. "My story? I guess it started with a mass murder in a quiet cul-de-sac in a rather mundane neighborhood." She helped Dianna sit down and then sat down near her, rattling on about being chased by demons and pissed off DA agents.

The healer nodded occasionally, listening with interest as she plastered a truly vicious smelling mud mixed with what might have been demon's blood around Dianna's hand. The half-demon wrinkled her nose but a stern look from Melva stopped any comment she'd been about to make. Instead, she focused on Quinn's body pressed up against her own on the bench. It was a very pleasant sensation and she was almost lulled into a doze by the time Melva stood up.

"It's done, your hand should be fine now." The hag watched Quinn as Dianna flexed her newly healed fingers, still amazed at the hag's ability to heal. "Dark forces are amassing against you. If I were you?" She glanced sharply at Dianna. "I would have come here for advice rather than risk seeing her father. Will you take some free advice?"

Hindsight was all was 20/20. She doubted how free the advice was going to be. "Sure." Quinn said looking at Dianna's hand.

"If Alvera is bound on returning to this world, she will have acolytes preparing her way. A full demon lord cannot just enter Earth without a portal being formed, which usually happens by ritual sacrifice. Someone," Melva glared again at Dianna as the redhead wiped her hand clean. "Should have known that. You stop the portal forming and she's won't be able to threaten you anymore, or Lauren."

Quinn should have known that too, her son had been used once before to open that portal. "I like the idea of her not being able to hurt anyone." Quinn said. She tried to help remove the bandages and goop from the hand but received a glare from Dianna so she let the half-demon handle it.

"Any idea where this portal might be?"

"There's really only one place around here that will do." Melva had an evil look in her eye as she stood up.

"The asylum." Dianna sighed, peeling the last of the goo off her hand. She really had to remember not to touch Quinn's bare skin, the effect was too startling. "It would have to be the center of a Gray Zone for the portal to work and the more misery that happened there, the better."

"She didn't use it last time." No, she had used the living room in her house. Quinn groaned and tried to crack her neck. "It's too late in the day to go in there." She was certain she didn't want to go in there anywhere remotely around dark. "I need a shower and clean clothes." And more weapons if she was going to breach that place.

Dianna very nearly said they should go back to the bar, but her mouth snapped shut as she remembered, again, that there wasn't a bar to go back to. Which also reminded her that Sissy was gone, forever this time and she looked away angrily. "There's a hotel not far away, we can find something to wear near there."

"You aren't staying here." Melva agreed, her part done. "And if I'm not mistaken, your friend is coming in now."


Lauren's steps were slow as they approached the church. Their fingers were still intertwined, and she wasn't certain it was a good idea but as she relaxed the scales had gone away leaving her own perma-tanned skin. She may or may not have an insane girlfriend, one that wanted to have sex with her. Lauren had to wonder if sex was as good as the stuff she read about in her lesbian stories. Somehow she doubted it.

Then she wondered how sad Blue might find it that she was still a virgin in her 20s, the thought that Blue might laugh at her made her stomach hurt.

"I always come back here for dessert, Melva makes a pie, sometimes, and it's really good." Blue had kept up an almost nonstop description of things as they'd come back from the YMCA, happy to have had a hot shower, and beyond thrilled to be holding one of Lauren's hand.

Only when they were nearly to the church, did she notice that Lauren wasn't really answering her anymore. "I'm sorry, I'll be quiet, I'm talking a lot again, aren't I? I could sing if you want. I just like the sound of voices; it means I'm not alone, even if it's only my own voice." She flushed, knowing how strange that must sound.

Lauren smiled, unable to help it. "I like your voice too. So you sing or talk if you want."

"Are you sure, you're not just saying that to be kind are you? I mean if? if you like someone like a girlfriend?" blue eyes peered down at Lauren hesitantly, "you don't really just have to say things just because you think they want to hear them."

Lauren shrugged. "I dunno, I've never had a girlfriend before, so I guess I don't really know what to say or do. I'm all nervous." Especially after the incident in the shower, what if all those demons inside her got the upper hand and she hurt Blue? Now her stomach hurt for a different reason.

"That's why you look like you just bit a rotten bit of food?" Blue looked worried now, tugging Lauren to a stop outside the front doors to the church.

"Yes, kind of." She shrugged but looked at Blue. The strange woman really was beautiful. "Are you sure you want to be my girlfriend? I'm not exactly safe to be around, and, and, and . . . I've never had a girlfriend or done lots of things."

"Done lots of things?" A confused look passed over the other woman's face. "Like dancing? I can teach you, I'm really good at dancing, the teachers all said so." She smiled brightly at Lauren. "And I like you, you're good for me." She was quite certain about that.

"Actually, I don't know how to dance." She frowned, getting sidetracked. "Blue, you don't really know me. We've had a series of odd life-threatening meetings." And a kiss and it was a good kiss. "And I don't really know you." And it was hard to think with Blue looking at her like that. Derailed, she finished with, "Can we take it slow?"

"Slow is good. As long as we dance. Life without dancing isn't really life." She let go of Lauren's hand, humming to herself as she danced an improvised flamenco around the other woman, coming to a stop in front of her with a smile. "I like kissing though." She said seriously again.

"I like kissing too." Lauren agreed. Except when it made her want to throw innocent young women to the ground and ravish them.

"So there could be kissing." Blue wanted to be absolutely clear on that part.

"Yes, as long as . . ." she stuttered and blushed. "As long as I don't hurt you."

"I trust you." Blue said, and she did, completely. "You're not a bad person." She laid her hand against Lauren's chest, right about her heart.

Lauren looked down at the hand. "I don't know how you can be sure about that. In the shower I . . . I changed."

"But you didn't do anything." Lauren said reasonably with a light smile. "Nothing I didn't want. I told you, I know you."

That was true she had stopped before the darker thoughts had taken over completely. "Okay." She said blowing out a breath. "I don't think Melva is going to like me kissing you."

"Melva doesn't like a lot of things." Blue kissed Lauren's cheek, sliding their fingers together.

"What is it that Melva doesn't like?" The old woman asked making Blue jump in surprise as she realized they had an audience. Eyes widening, Blue slipped behind Lauren, warily watching the three women at the church door.

"Me." Lauren said miserably. Her eyes darted and then her gaze fell to the cracked and broken stairs.

"Why wouldn't I like you, child?" Melva wobbled out, leaving a surprised looking Dianna behind her as she reached out and tilted Lauren's chin up. "Never be ashamed of who you are." The old woman said quietly. "You have friends here, even if one of them isn't worthy of being your friend." Melva didn't have to look over at Dianna to make it clear who she was talking about.

"I . . . uh . . . because. You . . . Dianna's treated me better than my own family, so please stop putting her down around me." She said finally.

"Little one has claws." Melva laughed, letting go of her chin. "Perhaps if she proves herself as worthy as you see her, I will. You should go, it will be night soon." Melva gestured at the darkening sky.

"Go where?" There was nowhere to go. The bar had burned down and she looked over at Dianna miserable again. "I'm sorry I couldn't stop them from destroying your bar, the fire burned so hot, so fast."

"I'm happy you're alive." Dianna stepped away from Quinn, making a wide pass around Melva as the crone went back into the church and gave Lauren a quick hug. "Now you've got me hugging people!" She shot over her shoulder at Quinn, gruffly.

"The good detective has been helping me search for you." Curious pale eyes flicked to the young woman holding Lauren's hand.

"This is Blue, she's Melva's assistant, and she saved me last night. Gave me a place to hide while those demons were looking for me."

She nervously licked dry lips. "Blue, this is Dianna."

Dianna eyed the homeless woman, lips pursed a bit in thought. "I know you. You came by the bar singing a few times didn't you?" She frowned.

Blue nodded, eyes flicking around as she hid behind Lauren, having gone silent in the face of strangers.

"Well . . ." Dianna looked over at Quinn. "We should go, we can talk later."

Quinn nodded. "It will be dark soon. I'd rather be someplace safe."

"For all of us." Dianna said, seeing the look on Lauren's face. "That is if you're . . . friend, wants to come as well?" She really wasn't sure what to make of Blue.

Lauren looked at Blue. The woman had been fine before her. "It's up to her."

In response, Blue tightened her grip on Lauren's hand.

With a wry look, Dianna turned and started moving, frequently looking back at the two younger women. "What's that all about?" She said quietly to Quinn, happy to have something to talk about that didn't involve the two of them.

"Melva." Quinn said as if that explained everything she needed to know about the strange young woman.

The detective doubted Melva would allow a spy for Alvera to be anywhere near her church.

"Yeah, well, Melva's not my biggest friend." The half-demon grumbled. "You have any cash on you?" She switched topics, picking up the pace as it was definitely getting darker.

"My brother left some in an envelope." She answered. "How far are we?"

"To the edge of the Gray? Not close enough."

Quinn cracked a grin. "To where we are going to spend the night."

"Was that actually a smile?" Dianna grinned. "Hope you like motels."

"They creep me out. Too many calls out to them when I was a beat-cop."

"Oh, right." Dianna frowned. "I'm not really sure what other option we have?" She glanced behind her again, not sure why she was so cautious about Lauren holding the taller girl's hand.

"Stop it. The girl has enough self-esteem issues. Your opinion of her really matters." Quinn said quietly.

The other woman sighed. "I don't know why it should. But don't you think that's a bit . . . fast?"

"Yes." Quinn said in agreement. "Look, the girl has been thrown into an incredibly stressful situation, it's not a far stretch that the first thing that comes along and makes her feel loved and safe she'd cling on to. If they last, they have a rocky road ahead. You and I know that, but this is their young love, they don't."

"Did you ever have a young love?" Dianna glanced over at Quinn, feeling a touch of the other woman's melancholy feelings. They were getting a bit too close to forbidden topics.

"Yes. In high school, her name was Lindsey, she broke my heart plus my Da found out and I had to read all the really bad parts of the Bible that deal with how sinners are treated in hell."

"Pleasant." Dianna's lips curled in distaste at that. "Another reason I love the church and it loves me." She sighed, instantly regretting saying it. She wasn't trying to antagonize Quinn. "I always wondered what high school would have been like. I never made it past junior high, the parents nearly rioted saying a half-breed would be horrible for their precious children to be exposed to. Sissy brought books home for me to read though."

"High school is just more of junior high, and just as horrible." Quinn said. She wasn't going to ask, she wasn't going to . . . "Who's Sissy?"

"My sister." Dianna's tone tensed. "She . . . was my family. Not that useless hag of a mother that gave birth to us. Sissy was my real family." They were nearly out of the Gray, and not a minute too soon.

Quinn wanted to ask what had happened but something in Dianna's tone told her not to ask.

For her part Dianna was silent as they walked the rest of the way out of the Gray, lost in her own memories.

"I don't think she likes me." Blue whispered to Lauren as they walked behind the two other women.

"She . . . ah . . . She just doesn't know you yet. It's been a bad day, she lost her bar and the ghost, so just give her a chance." Lauren said quietly.

"Ghost?" Blue's eyes widened. "She had a ghost?"

Lauren blinked. "You told me about the ghost, the one you'd sing too." Please let Blue remember and not be crazy.

"The lady in the window." Blue blinked. "She was kind. I sang lullabies to her, she was always so sad."

Lauren let out a breath, she'd have to believe Blue on the sadness, she'd never seen the ghost.


"I told you that flashing a smile and a little bending over would get us a nicer room." Dianna flopped back onto the queen-sized bed, groaning in pleasure at the feel of lying down. The constant stress of being inside of the Gray had worn on her and she felt as if she could sleep for days if given the chance.

Once again she quickly avoided thinking about the fact that she was now homeless. "Please tell me we didn't just make a mistake giving Lauren and Blue their own room?"

The two younger women had been giving each other doe eyed looks all the way to the room and in a fit of insanity, or maybe it was romanticism, either way it was bad, Dianna had volunteered to share a room with Quinn. Which, judging by the expression on the detective's face, hadn't been entirely welcome.

"They are adults; no matter how young Lauren acts she is 21. I'm more concerned about that Blue girl; she doesn't act all there." Quinn looked around for someplace to sit that wasn't the bed with Dianna. She sank down onto a worn wooden chair and drummed her fingers on the scarred tabletop, feeling awkward.

"The singing of nursery rhymes is a little creepy actually, although she's certainly easy to look at under all those dirty clothes." Dianna sighed, not having to open her eyes to feel the mix of feelings coming from the other woman. "You're going to want to talk about things now, aren't you?" She whined.

"Well you can either tell me or I can leave and go back into the Gray, and talk to that strange healer/witch woman. Your choice." She was getting tired of Dianna knowing more about her than she knew about the half-demon. The woman knew about her son and husband, she even had shared her first puppy love proving she wasn't as straight as she claimed and got nothing back in return.

This, Dianna reminded herself was why she didn't do relationships. "Fine." She gave a disgruntled look at Quinn and squirmed her way across the bed so she could reach the small hospitality bar. She was going to need a drink for this, she was certain.

"What do you want to know?" She unscrewed the cap of Jim Beam and poured two shots worth into two glasses, added ice and offered one to Quinn.

Quinn took the drink doing her best not to touch Dianna's fingers with hers. "Who was your puppy love?" It was an odd question but hopefully an easy one to break the tension.

"Ms. Rosenbloom." The half-demon said before her mind could remind her why it was a bad idea to say that. Grimacing she took a sip of whiskey, having wanted to lie, not tell the truth on that one.

Too late now.

"She was my eighth-grade math teacher." Dianna swallowed another sip. "I loved her desperately, beyond anything approaching reason. Sissy warned me?" She shook her head, short-cut red hair moving with the gesture. "It was completely unrequited."

"I should hope so." Because otherwise, she might be tempted to visit Ms. Rosenbloom and have a little talk about registering as a sex offender. "How did we get connected? Why?" She had to make her mouth shut so she didn't overwhelm the room with questions.

"That's my fault, mostly." Dianna grinned wryly at her. "I took your pain away from you twice, that sharing of emotions started it, and then?" she shrugged. "I don't know when it happened, maybe after we visited my father, maybe before, but it's stronger now. Before I had to be touching you to feel you clearly, now just being close to you is enough."

"Three times. Twice with my knee and the last when I was shot, the bruises from the impact on my vest. Why did you connect us? You seem to know that would happen."

"Three times. It's always three." Dianna downed the last of the whiskey and opened up another small bottle. "Because you were in pain. I didn't mean to connect us like this, I knew there was a risk, but I never thought it would be this strong!"

Quinn nodded and sipped her drink. "I believe you." She took another sip enjoying the burn of the alcohol down her throat. "Do you want to break this connection?"

"Does it matter? It's pretty obvious you do." Dianna said quietly, hearing the bitterness in her voice.

Quinn was silent for a moment. "I do want to break it. But . . ." She held up a hand to silence Dianna. "Because it's obvious you don't want it, also it would have been nice to have been asked before just waking up connected." Girls just liked to be asked about certain things. "I don't want to lead you around by a leash." Echoing Melva's words. "I want you to be with me because you want to, not because you're forced." She finished her drink standing up. "I need to clean this wound."

Dianna looked up at her words, surprised by them. "Who knew it Detective; you do have a softer side." She hesitated, finishing her own drink. "Do you want help?"

"Maybe, do we have anything to disinfect it or bandage it with? I probably need help with that." Quinn said looking in the bathroom.

Which was why she missed the hungry look on Dianna's face as the half-demon stood. "It's a good idea, who knows what Bachi had on that blade other than my father's blood." She licked her lips, this was dangerous, she'd never had a lot of self-control to begin with and now she was pushing those boundaries.

Quinn sighed. "I'm going to have to go down to that little corner market and get some stuff. You want anything?" She should probably grab some food for the kids.

"Food. We all need food I think." Dianna flopped back down on the bed. "You want me to come with you?" How incredibly domestic a conversation, she really was losing her edge.

Quinn looked at her. "If you want, but I'll be right back. It's not even two blocks away."

The other woman licked her lips. She wanted a shower in the worst way and this was the perfect opportunity for her to get one without putting on a show for Quinn. "You'll be careful?"

"Cop, remember? I'll be back in a bit." She headed out the door, shutting it softly behind her.

"Demons and Demon Affairs remember!" Dianna yelled after her, already regretting her decision to stay behind. But as Quinn moved further away she felt thetension drain from her body as the constant emotional bombardment eased.

Deciding to do what she did best and live in the moment, she stripped and went for a hot shower.


Agent Green easily picked the lock and then with a pair of bolt cutters, cut the chain on the door. He eased it closed slowly behind him, not too concerned, the running shower would cover most of the noise he might make. He removed an air gun from his waistband and made his way to the bathroom. The door was cracked, all the better for him. He peeked inside, even happier that the curtain was fully closed and the mirror was steamed over. He almost lost it as the first orgasm washed out over the small space. God damn incubi and their lot.

Taking a moment, he took a deep breath getting his mind focused again. Surging forward, he ripped the curtain open and shot her twice, before she could recover enough of her senses to be a threat. He watched with satisfaction as the drug in the darts went instantly to work and she slumped into the small tub.

Reaching over he turned off the water. He smiled looking at her body. "You know if I didn't hate Ms. Quinn so much I might consider hauling you in. We could have a lot of fun with you locked up." He chuckled and drew a small black case out of his pocket. "You're going to kill her for me. Another sad killing due to a demon." He opened the case and drew out a needle and a vial. "You ever wonder what it would be like to be a full demon, well you're about to find out. Tell Quinn 'hi" for me." Quickly he injected her and put everything back. "Oh, you can kill Lauren as well. She's good dead or alive."


Lauren was nervously lying in the bed, she'd turned up the heat not liking the cold room, while Blue was in the bathroom. She picked at the comforter. She was being silly, she was 21 after all and they'd kissed sans any clothes. So this shouldn't be a big deal. Right, not a big deal. She was an adult; she could sleep next to someone, no big deal.

"Toothbrushes! I like this place." Blue bounded out of the bathroom, and flung herself onto the bed next to Lauren, bouncing them both up and down on the springs. "It'll be like having a sleepover." She whispered, eyes bright with joy as she curled up next to Lauren.

Lauren had to giggle at that, her nervousness easing. "I guess it will be like a having a sleepover." Tentatively she moved her body into Blue's, enjoying the warmth coming from Blue's body. It made sense, since this demon's aspect seemed to be more serpentine that it would like being warm. No more violent thoughts or her body breaking out into scales. She kissed Blue's temple. Pausing to enjoy the taste of the woman's skin. "You okay? Life seems to be a bit weird right now."

"It's good, I don't have many friends." Blue hesitantly put an arm across Lauren's stomach and when that seemed okay, she rested it there and sighed in pleasure. "It gets boring talking to yourself, you always know what you're going to say."

She played idly with the buttons on her girlfriend's shirt. "Are you okay?

"So far, so good. No bad impulse control problems. You okay?" She looked at Blue's hand on her shirt. Slowly she picked it up and traced the long delicate fingers. "Melva says you're her assistant. What's it like being able to heal people?" She remembered watching the needle marks disappear on her arm. "Does it hurt you to do that?"

"It feels good." Blue bit her lip, watching their fingers together. "I used to get headaches, bad ones, anytime someone got hurt. I thought it was blood? but it was anytime." She shook her head. "Then one night one of the girls, the lead, she broke her leg falling. It hurt so bad and I had to do something? my parents said I was a witch."

She lowered her head. "Melva found me after that. A tisket, a tasket, a green and yellow basket." She hummed to herself, tracing Lauren's fingers.

"They called you a witch? That doesn't sound nice. I take it you don't really see your parents." She watched Blue's hands against her own.

"It's hard when they try to set you on fire to purge your sins." Blue's voice was barely above a whisper.

"What? They tried to . . . really . . . that's, wow . . . that's messed up." She thought her life had been rough, always being compared to her perfect sister, but her parents hadn't tried to burn her.

Slender shoulders shrugged. "Baa, baa, black sheep." Blue whispered, laying her head down on Lauren's shoulder. "You used a needle again."

"No, not since yesterday. The cravings come and go. No rhyme or reason to them." Lauren said quietly. "My sister used me in one of her experiments. Only she told me it was a study on self-confidence. She made me into a demon."

"You're not a demon." Blue sounded sure of that. "You're Lauren."

Lauren gave a grin at that. "Thank you." She yawned feeling warm and sleepy.

"Sleep." The other woman shifted closer, drawing a blanket up over them. "Good night, sleep tight. Wake up bright in the morning light. To do what's right with all your might." She half-sang.


Quinn was worried when she came back to the room and the door was open. She set the bag of groceries down and drew her gun. Slowly she entered the room doing a sweep. "Dianna?"

The room was empty, the clear-glass tumbler that she had drank out of was still sitting on the table, full of melting ice.

She moved slowly to the bathroom. "Dianna? Are you okay?" The door was shut but she didn't hear anything. Wouldn't the connection thing tell her if the woman was hurt or dead?

Something shifted inside the bathroom at the voice outside. Dianna blinked; eyes opening as she slowly became aware of the world around her. She didn't know what was going on, where she was. She felt odd, her skin felt tight and her body was warm.

"Dianna? Are you in there?" Quinn called out, her hand going to the bathroom doorknob and turned it.

There was a reflective surface on the wall and Dianna stretched, tail flicking as she watched herself. Why did the red eyes look strange to her? The long black hair seemed strange too. Nostrils flared as she turned toward the door; tail flicking as the door opened. She could feel the woman on the other side of it, feel all of her suddenly.

A low growl and she sprang at the door, slamming it open and carrying both her and Quinn through to the floor.

"Shit!" Quinn squawked out, taken so completely off guard. As her body hit the ground, the gun flew out of her hand, sliding across the floor.

The thing that had been Dianna shifted against Quinn, sniffing as clawed fingers flexed against her captive. "Human . . ." she growled, tail lashing upward.

Quinn went still; she'd been in worse situations and come out okay. "What did you do with Dianna?" She asked softly, keeping her voice even.

The woman laughed, revealing slight fangs as she pressed up against Quinn's body, claws slicing through the woman's clothing.. "Dianna." The name meant something she thought, but there were more important things than talking. She wanted this woman and she would have her, no matter what.

"Yeah, my friend, Dianna." This wasn't good; in fact it was getting downright scary.

"Gone." Dianna licked her lips, feeling the other woman tremble beneath her. One by one, her claws flicked off the buttons from her shirt, slicing through the string.

"Don't do this." Quinn pleaded, her brain frantically working. The door wasn't shut all the way so it was possible that someone might walk by. Her gun was a few feet away and a demon was on top of her working on her buttons.

"Why?" The demoness purred, ripping the shirt off. The bra was next and she was close. Her body thrummed with excitement. It was a little odd that she couldn't bend the woman with her will; she should be able to do that. Quinn should be mindlessly moaning her name right now.

"Why?" Quinn looked at demon. "Because no woman wants to get raped." She tried pushing against the thing on top of her.


The word rang a bell somewhere and the demoness snarled. "Pleasure. Will make it sooo good." She wanted this, she should have it.

"To you maybe." Quinn gave up pushing against the heavier body on top of her and then in a quick self-defense move raked her fingers over the demon's eyes. Soft tissue was still soft tissue regardless of species.

Dianna yelled in pain, rising up off the woman below her, snarling in pain as she lashed out at the thing that had just hurt her.

Quinn drew up her legs and pushed against the denser body sliding across the floor. The carpet burned her skin and claws tore into her leg causing her to give her own cry of pain. She ignored all that reaching for her gun.

Staggering she got up, gun between them. "Where the fuck is my friend?" She drew the hammer back.

The demon lunged, bullet going straight through her shoulder as she slammed into Quinn. The momentum carried them both through the door to the room and out into the hallway beyond. Words were beyond Dianna, she wanted to kill the thing that had hurt her.

Quinn was certain this was not going to end well for her. The demoness was stronger, she'd gotten lucky and caught it off guard, and she doubted she was going to get another chance.

The gun was gone and she couldn't breathe only claw at the hand around her neck.

"Mine!" The demoness snarled, trying again to bend Quinn to her will. Why was it not working?

Quinn would have uttered a defiant fuck you but she had no air to spare to form words.

Standing, Dianna hefted the squirming woman up against the wall. "Mine." She said again, quieter this time as her claws stroked up against exposed skin. Why was she fighting so hard?

Quinn's struggles got weaker until her hand fell away from Dianna's and blackness overwhelmed her sight.

The struggling had stopped; Dianna smiled again loosening her grip.

The claws slid down Quinn's chest, resting against the front of the bra and stopped. Something wasn't right, the succubus paused. Why wasn't she doing what she wanted to do? Frustrated she tried again, and once again didn't do it. Her tail lashed annoyed.

There was no answer from the unconscious woman.

With a silent snarl again, Dianna picked her up and carried her into the room.


Quinn coughed, her throat felt like the desert--hot and scratchy.

"What have you done to me?" The voice sounded like Dianna's but it was much throatier, lower.

Slowly her eyes opened. She was on a bed. Not particularly a good thing considering her last memory. "What did you do to me?" She groaned out.

Her pants were still on, that was a good sign, the demoness was lying on the bed next to her, not a good thing.

"You fought me." The succubus curled up nearby was covered in the shadows of the darkened room, only her red eyes flashing.

"Of course, I fucking fought you. You were going to rape me." She paused and took a breath trying to get herself under control. "Why didn't you?"

"I don't know." Dianna moved closer, tail sliding up and along Quinn's pant covered leg. "You should have been begging me to take you. Why weren't you?"

Quinn could feel Dianna so she was nearby, but the connection thing was muffled like it was under water or something. "I don't beg demons to fuck me. Now what did you do with my friend?"

"But you smell so good." Dianna leaned closer, closing her eyes as she sniffed. "You feel good too." She whispered, ignoring the question. What friend? "I need you, I shouldn't need anyone. I should take anyone I want."

"Civilized people don't do that. My friend was the other woman in this room, Dianna."

"I'm the woman in this room." Dianna laughed a low throaty sound. "Dianna." She repeated the name, it sounded familiar.

"Don't play mind games. Dianna, wasn't a full demon only half. You are very much a full demon."

Quinn coughed and tried to clear her throat. "Dianna never tried to rape me. She flirted and teased but she always respected the word no."

"She was weak." The demoness's lips curled in disgust. "Let humans hurt her. I'm stronger." She watched Quinn with an unreadable expression, those red eyes slits. "You hurt her." The claws twitched, shredding a bit of bedding.

"To be a half-demon, hated by both human and demons and still be a decent human being; that made her stronger than you and me. We hurt each other." She admitted. "What do you care? Just kill me and get it over with. I'm tired of games."

"Don't want to kill you." The admission was slowly made as if the demoness was only just realizing it. "Want to have sex with you, make you mine."

"Sorry, not going to happen. Besides I'm already connected with Dianna." Whatever that meant, Dianna still hadn't been clear.

The demoness surged forward, pinning Quinn against the bed. "No, there is no connection. I don't need you! You're nothing, a human, a sheep."

Quinn blinked, thanking god she was smarter than the average bear. "I love you too, Dianna." She whispered out, trying to get a hand free to touch the woman. She was so changed, but if she looked she could still see the Dianna in the demoness's face.

"Love." The demoness spat the word. "That is weakness, meaningless emotion. I do not feel love! I am lust, I am desire."

"No argument there." Quinn got an arm free and gently touched Dianna's new face. "What happened? I was gone maybe forty minutes at the most."

The demoness frowned, the memories were fuzzy but they were more pleasant to think about than why she couldn't have this infuriating woman. "Pain." She remembered. "In my back." There was more, something she should remember, something important. "A man." Realization lit in those red eyes. "Greeennnnn . . ." She hissed, yes that was his name.

"Demon Affairs." Quinn said with a grimace. God, if they had something that could turn humans into demons and half-breeds into demons, the world would be swarming . . . with demons. "Fuck." Alevra didn't want to kill Lauren, she wanted Lauren's blood to make her own plague.

"Please?" Dianna whimpered, pressing against Quinn.

"What? No. God, you barely even remember me. I'm like a one-night stand but worse, you don't even know my name."

"Quinn." Red eyes sharpened. "You're Quinn." She would know that name anywhere.

Okay, the demon had her there. "You don't like me. You just want to fuck me because I'm convenient. If the maid would have come in, you'd be fucking her."

"I'd be owning her." Dianna corrected her as she leaned in, lightly nipping. "I want you, we both want you. Want you so badly it hurts." Her tail twitched. "I'm supposed to take what I want."

That hurt a little, she was convenient. "Well, you tried to take and it didn't work; why don't you think about that? While you do that, I'm going to get up, put on the rags of my shirt and clean my wound."

She started to scoot back to the edge of the bed.

The demon snarled, fangs exposed but she stayed where she was, curled up on the bed. Red eyes watched her carefully though, muscles tensing anytime Quinn moved nearer the door.

"The bags are just on the other side of the door." She opened the door but only leaned out, grabbing the bags. She set them on the table and searched through them until she found what she wanted.

"You won't leave." It wasn't a question.

Then she went into the bathroom, not bothering to shut the door. "Nope, this is me not leaving." The wound was red, the skin around it inflamed.

She turned on the faucet and scrubbed it. Then with a grimace dumped rubbing alcohol on it.

"I shouldn't feel this." Dianna was there, suddenly, in the doorway having moved as quietly as a ghost. "This is wrong." She didn't move into the bathroom though, staying just at the door.

Quinn was wearing down; she unlike the other person in the room was only human. "I want my Dianna. I want her to be happy with just me and no one else." And she wanted world peace, God she wanted the impossible. Tears stung her eyes. "

"You're so much more." Dianna whispered, so close she could just barely touch her skin. "What if your Dianna is gone?" She whispered, claws snipping the bandage off for her.

"She's not. I can feel her. It's muffled, but she's still around."

"We're the same you know." Dianna moved around behind her, tracking the shivers along Quinn's skin. "She is me, I am her."

Quinn turned her eyes flashing angrily and slammed her hands into Dianna's chest. "Then act like it. If you're her, then be her, unless you want to be your father with a harem of stoned lust junkies following you around. They don't love him, they're just addicted to him, if another incubus came along that was more powerful they'd leave him for a bigger high. Love doesn't leave."

"Love hurts." The voice sounded like Dianna's for an instant and the succubus closed her eyes, leaning against the bathroom tile. She felt strange.

"Because it's not easy. It takes work and trust and all those are easy to hurt." She looked at the succubus in front of her; the look on her face was so very Dianna. She stepped forward, not able to help herself and gently kissed those lips. It was all bittersweet, she barely had a chance with the half-demon Dianna, she had no chance with a full demon. A single human couldn't keep a succubus happy.


Green sat in his car playing with the police scanner.

"Why are we just sitting here?" His partner's bass voice rumbled out.

"Waiting for police to find the body. Then we'll move in."

"Wait, what body? Why are they going to find a body? What did you do when you went to take a leak?"

"I went to their room and injected that half-breed with the drug. Once she kills Quinn, it will be permanent; she'll be a demon forever. We go in and save the day or we go in, in the morning while it's sleeping and save the day." Green shrugged.

"You did what? We fight demons, not make more of them. What if she doesn't kill Quinn, huh, you think of that? The drug doesn't permanently change the DNA until the kill, it needs that chemical rush from the brain from the first kill. Then we have an even more pissed off Quinn and crew to deal with."

"That's a stupid way to make the drug work. It's not permanent until the subject's first kill. Don't you think?" Green said, sidetracking the conversation.

"Apparently those three demons don't come into their demon powers until their first kill, which is why they are so hard to find and rare. They can wander around looking human all their lives. A genetic aberration. Susan Espinoza theorized most were monks doing good, turning the other cheek until the last straw; only then would they kill, causing the change. Hiding in plain sight unless their temples were overrun. Didn't you read the report?"

"I read parts of it." Green said grumpily.

"What is your deal with this Quinn woman?"

"I just don't like her. She kills a major demon, by herself, come on, she's dirty or she's a half-breed hiding in plain sight. A human can't do that. Look at us, we're held together with spells and bioengineering to make us resistant to demon attacks. So I'm telling you that woman is a liar and she's got half the world worshiping her." Green snapped out.

"Whoa, whatever." Ferris settled in, returning to his more customary silence even as he kept a wary eye on his partner.


Before she realized what she was doing, Dianna had Quinn pressed up against the wall and was kissing her as thoroughly as she knew how. She wanted Quinn so badly it hurt. Only when she was moving her hips, pressing against the human did she realize what she was doing and spring back.

Which put her in the shower, staring wide-eyed at Quinn, chest heaving as she kept herself in check.

"See the real Dianna's in there. A succubus couldn't show that restraint." She moved forward into the shower, feeling somewhat heady at having the tables turned.

"Don't." Dianna whispered, voice harsh, eyes widening even further as Quinn moved.

Quinn stopped. They stood looking at each other and slowly, so very slowly, Quinn forced herself to relax and examine the bond between them. Growing up with a father that used to be a priest and a mother that used to be a nun, she had learned a lot about self-control and denying immediate desires and pleasures.

After a few minutes, she spoke. "I'm sorry, Dianna. I haven't been very fair to your needs. I'm going to guess you have the female equivalent of blue balls. Probably not the healthiest thing for someone part incubus. Because of that you've probably been distracted, not really at your best. That's my fault because of this connection."

"Blue balls?" The demon laughed, tossing her head. How could she explain the desires that made up her constant existence? More and more memories of the actual Dianna were starting to surface now; did that mean it was starting to fade? She could only hope.

"I could have dealt with it before," she murmured, laughter fading as she faced Quinn. It was an odd place for a talk like this, her naked, Quinn half-naked, standing in the bathtub of a hotel room.

Nothing else about them was normal though, so why should this be?

"I'm human, no matter what people think about me." The hellfire burn scars on each shoulder stood out red against the rest of her skin. "I can't make any promises not to be weird in the morning, but I'm also tired of fighting this and you, also because I'm human. So I'm going to kiss you again and it's not because I pity you." She'd been horny since the morning and Dianna really needed to be at her best. She undid the bra and then the pants and moved forward to kiss Dianna again, and being human made her hypocrite .

"If you start this, it won't stop." Dianna groaned, eyes eagerly watching Quinn strip. God she looked good, she wanted her even more now and it was only by clamping her claws against the side of the shower that she stopped herself from simply tackling the other woman.

Quinn moved forward. "I know, but you need to remember: I'm human, I'm breakable." Dianna was unholy beautiful in this form, but she still preferred the old Dianna to this, but she would adapt if Dianna never changed back. She slid her hands around Dianna's waist. "And it's been awhile." She kissed too warm lips.

That kiss was Dianna's undoing. Whatever self-control she'd managed to claw back from her old self disappeared under it's influence and she grabbed Quinn, urgently pulling their bodies together.

Warm skin met skin and she moaned into the kiss, frantically trying to fit them together closer. It wasn't enough and with a mounting urgency she picked Quinn up, marveling at how light she felt, and carried her blindly out of the bathroom without bouncing off too many walls.

It was a miracle she made it to the bed, Quinn had wrapped her legs around her waist and the insistent heat between those legs made Dianna's head swim. The smell of their arousal mingled in the hotel room and only served to drive Dianna's desire higher.

They tumbled together onto the bed, legs entwined and breasts pressed against one another. There wasn't time for slow, Dianna couldn't, wouldn't wait. Her entire focus was on the naked body pressed against her, perfectly sculpted even with the demon scars she bore.

She trailed claws that were becoming more and more like fingers, along the other woman's body, tracing and stroking. Lips following to nibble and suck, lightly biting Quinn's small breasts before soothing them with her tongue.

Above them were the burn scars, vivid hand prints that covered the human's shoulders and for a moment Dianna was amazed that she'd survived them. Hellfire generally killed anyone that was unlucky enough to be burned by it.

They were testaments to Quinn's life and Dianna kissed them as much as any other piece of skin, their murmurs of pleasure turning into cries of pleasure as she guided Quinn's fingers up inside her, where she needed her.

Arching, she thought she might have screamed in pleasure as Quinn moved inside her. An orgasm, either hers or Quinn's it was hard to tell, boiled through her hard and fast and she wanted more.

They flowed from one position to another, Dianna careful to remind herself that Quinn was fragile, at odds with the tough detective persona that she'd come to know. If there was a position or an angle that she hadn't tried with Quinn, it had simply been because she'd been overwhelmed by their lovemaking.

It was late, or very early, depending on your point of view by the time they stopped. Somewhere along the way Dianna's tail had disappeared, she wasn't sure when, maybe while Quinn had been doing that thing with her tongue that had nearly made her pass out, or later when they'd tried doing each other at once.

Either way it made it easier to lay on her back, Quinn half collapsed across her. She knew she was smiling like a fool, but it just wouldn't stop.

"I think every room around us just had wet dreams." She said, stroking fingers through Quinn's naturally red hair. Her own was still long and black, maybe she would keep it that way now. Actually, she was certain she'd half-heard a few moans through the walls that weren't their own either.

"Not surprised, you're like some sort of sex, orgasmic, bomb." Quinn said breathlessly. She wanted a cigarette and she'd stopped smoking when she'd found out she was pregnant.

"Just imagine if I was a full succubus." Dianna smiled slowly, fully content for the first time in what felt like forever. She didn't think she even needed sleep after that, Quinn had been right, she'd been denying herself and it had been making things worse.

"Green shot me." She blinked her memories crystal clear now. "With some dart thing, in the shower."

"We should get moving, they know where we are." She yawned but she was so damn tired. "He probably wanted you to kill me and Lauren, I can't think of why else he would do that and then leave. Fuck, let me nap, then I need to shower and you need to find me clothes; you destroyed my only set."

"Sleep then." Dianna leaned closer, pressing her lips against Quinn's and drawing away the woman's fatigue, it was disturbingly easy now to do that. Silently, the half-demon slipped from the bed, relieved to see her eyes back to their normal pale color in the mirror. Tucking the blankets up over the naked woman in the bed, Dianna found something resembling a full set of clothes that she could wear.

Apparently they needed some shopping before going into the Gray again.

Time to get the kids up, one of them was keeping watch on Quinn while she slept, the other was going shopping with her.


Lauren was in the bathroom. The door firmly shut, something had washed over them, and nearly destroyed her self-control. They had found themselves all over each other. She moaned just remembering the taste of Blue's lips.

She stared at herself in the mirror, dark golden scales, gold eyes, and wings. The pain of the leather membranes ripping out of her back had actually given her back part of her sanity, the part that made her retreat quickly to the bathroom. Her eyes blinked, not up and down, but the lids closed from the sides, it was disturbing.

"Blue, I'm sorry; it's not your fault." She called out through the door. "I was just a little overwhelmed." That was putting it mildly.

"Are you sure?" Blue hugged herself, worriedly watching the bathroom door from the bedroom. "You ran really fast."

Lauren swallowed and opened the door; fairly certain whatever had happened was done. "I was afraid I'd hurt you. The change was out of control." Probably triggered by her arousal.

"I didn't mind." Blue's voice was very small as she stared up at Lauren. "Did I do something wrong? I know you said slowly, and I was being good all night, even with you all warm and next to me, but then that happened and I just wanted to touch you." She knew she was babbling, so she clamped her lips shut.

"It wasn't your fault. Whatever that was, was outside our control." Lauren felt bad; it wasn't the woman's fault. "Don't do that. You haven't said anything wrong or bad, there's no need to be quiet." In the larger room she flared out her wings enjoying the feeling. She didn't think she had the muscles to actually fly with them, but gliding was possible if she remembered correctly.

"The wings are pretty." Blue said quickly, watching them flex. "They look like dragonfly wings. Do they feel strange?" She brushed shaggy hair out of her face, happier now that Lauren wasn't upset with her.

"Yes, they feel really strange. I don't think they're for flying." They folded back down covering her almost completely from head to toe, she didn't want to think about where all that mass had come from.

Blue reached out, tentatively stroking them with a smile. "They feel softer than I thought." She was about to say something else when someone knocked on the door to their rooms, causing her to yelp in surprise and yank her hand back.

"You two up yet? We have things to do, people to annoy." Dianna's voice sounded through the hallway door.

Lauren looked at Blue and then the door. "We are. Uh . . . one sec." She moved slowly to the door and unlocked it. She opened it slowly. "There was a problem." She stepped back.

"What sort of . . . oh." Dianna blinked staring at the wings and then at Lauren's eyes. "What happened?" That was completely unexpected. Quickly she stepped in and closed the door, no sense alarming others.

Lauren blushed, even with the scales her face turned red. "Something kind of affected . . . us . . . I lost control. I managed not to hurt Blue." She rushed to say the last part.

"Oh." Dianna's smile widened. "Sorry about that, my bad." She shrugged, not really particularly sorry about it. "Guess that mean's you're staying here to watch Quinn and your friend is coming with me shopping."

"Oh . . . uh.. okay."

"Since Green's been in my room already, I'm going to go get the sleeping woman and she's going to stay with you while you get the wing thing under control. Okay?" Compared to that, her hair having changed color and grown long wasn't really worth mentioning.

"Green, here. Shouldn't we . . . uh . . . do something like leave?"

"Quinn doesn't have any clothes, you two are running around in rags, and I'm wearing something that's probably going to get me arrested for indecent exposure. We need supplies before we go into the Gray again. Especially if we're going into the Asylum." Dianna grimaced at the mere idea of it. "Be right back." She closed the door behind her as she went to bundle up the good detective.

"I have to go with her?" Blue didn't seem really thrilled with that as she looked at the closed door.


"Shhh." Dianna whispered, gathering the woman, blankets and all, and picking her up. She was heavier than before, or maybe Dianna wasn't as strong, but she managed. "Lauren's going to watch you while you sleep." She felt a surge of protectiveness for this normally hard-bitten cop.

A yearning to keep her safe that was tender as it was fierce.

Ignoring the startled look of a maid outside in the hallway, she kicked twice on Lauren's door to get her to open it.

The door opened with Lauren standing out of view behind the door.

Quinn had gone back to sleep in Dianna's arms.

"Here." She tucked Quinn into the bed, giving Lauren a pointed look. "Keep her safe okay?" She kept her voice quiet, trying to let Quinn sleep more.

Lauren nodded. "You keep Blue safe." She stood awkwardly, not able to sit until she changed back. "And don't take too long."

The half-demon gave her a wink. "Deal. Come on little Blue, time to go shopping. Let's see how far Quinn's cash will go." She waited for the young woman to unfold herself from where she'd been crouched and carefully slip past Dianna.

Quickly, the blond kissed Lauren on the lips and slipped out the door.

Dianna waggled her eyebrows at Lauren, following Blue out the door.

Lauren just blushed again.


The wings were gone by the time Dianna and Blue came back. Quinn was still asleep, the cop hadn't moved once since Dianna had deposited her into the room.

"Hey." Lauren said opening the door, her eyes checking Blue to make sure she was okay and then Dianna.

The blond waved, biting her lip as she wondered if Lauren would like the new clothes. "Dianna said I had to wear something other than what I had."

"No." Dianna said, carrying bags inside and laying them down next to the bed. "What I said was that you would look nicer wearing actual clothes and not just those stained things that were once clothes in a prior life. I think I did well, don't you Lauren?" She grinned at the younger human as Blue stepped inside.

She'd gotten them all jeans, something that would hopefully stand up to what they'd be going through shortly. She'd also found time to buy Blue some hair ties so that the poor girl could get that long hair out of her face. That coupled with a new T-shirt, did a lot to improve the girl's look.

Lauren nearly swallowed her tongue. "Uh, wow, you look nice. Really nice. I like your hair up like that." Her face was getting red again as she tried not to let her gaze focus on Blue's breasts that were highlighted in the new snug clothes.

Blue's blush became even redder and she smiled shyly.

"Here." Dianna shoved the leftover cash into Lauren's hands. "Go get us some food, there's a shop on the corner. Wait for us there." She was working hard to avoid laughing at the two of them. Between the blushes that were going on, the two of them were absolutely adorable right at that moment.

That and she wanted to wake Quinn up without an audience. Which was odd since she'd never really minded having an audience before.

Lauren blinked at the money and then grabbed it. "Let me get dressed and sure." She rooted around the bags until she found something her size and went and changed in the bathroom. She washed her face and checked her breath before leaving. In the clean clothes she felt human again. "Ready, Blue?" She asked, opening the door.

Blue rocked back and forth, hands stuck in the pockets of her pants, nodding quickly.

Dianna just grinned at the two of them, making it quite clear what she thought was on both of their minds. "We'll be down soon, so no doing anything I wouldn't do." That certainly left a lot open to interpretation.

Quinn slept on oblivious to everything around her, red hair poking out through the covers.

Having to nearly shove Blue out the door, Dianna closed it and locked it behind them. "Thought they'd never leave." She muttered, stripping clothes as she went toward the bed. There was only one way she could think of to make Quinn's wake-up call pleasant.

She slid under the sheets naked, sliding her body up against Quinn's sleepy warmth and slowly began to kiss the Irish woman's exposed neck, her fingers sliding along the woman's ribs and stomach. "Time to wake up." She murmured into an ear, fingers sliding lower.

Gooseflesh sprang up along Quinn's skin and she gave a breathy moan as her eyes cracked open. "Are you trying to kill me?" She was sore but Dianna's fingers felt so good where they were.

"I'll be gentle." Dianna promised, ducking her head under the covers so that she could gently kiss and tongue that sore flesh.

"Oh God." Quinn said eyes squeezing shut, her hands reaching and tangling in that long dark hair.

Dianna was slow and gentle, the climax built steadily under her skin until she came with a gasp, biting her lip. Quinn slumped back into the bed, the muscles in her stomach slowly relaxing and her left hand stayed tangled in that soft black hair. "You are a wicked woman. That's the best wake-up I've ever had, I think."

"Mmmm." The half-demon hummed her own approval, licking her lips as she crawled up to kiss Quinn. She'd had her own pleasure riding out the waves of pleasure from Quinn's orgasm. "Good morning, again. I hope you slept well for a while." It wasn't much, but four hours was all that Quinn was getting.

Quinn was surprised by the kiss but didn't say anything. "I slept very well, considering this isn't our room." She stretched and then snuggled into Dianna's body. She had loved her husband very much, enjoyed being with him, but there was something nice about a woman's softness and curves, also there was the lack of stubbly facial hair that had made oral sex a turnoff. "I suppose that was your way of getting me up and moving." She mumbled into Dianna's neck.

"Seemed like a good way to go. Nicer than pinching your ass wasn't it?" Dianna slid her fingers through Quinn's hair, marveling at the color of it. "I've never told you this, but I like your hair. I think this was what I wanted when I dyed mine." Maybe she'd stick with black hair; Quinn certainly seemed to like it long.

"I hate to break it to you but your hair was not anywhere near my color." Quinn said with a relaxed sigh as Dianna's hands moved through her hair. "If you keep doing that, I'll go to sleep."

"Sadly, there's no time for that today." Dianna kissed her briefly once more and then slid her way out of the sheets. Any longer touching Quinn's skin and she'd loose her control again. "I sent the kids for food, Blue and I went to Wal-Mart for clothes and had a fight with the most obnoxious little troll of a human woman I've ever met." Pale eyes rolled as Dianna remembered it. "I hope Lauren gets Blue to talk more than I did; I think she said two full words while we were out. You getting up?"

Quinn grumbled at the cold air but sat up stretching. "Fine, I'm up."

"Jeans or slacks?" Dianna pulled both out of the Wal-Mart bags, hoping they fit. "First time I've ever shopped for clothes for someone else." It had been much more fun than shopping for herself.

Quinn looked at the clothes. "Slacks." She said getting out of the bed with a wince. That was probably more than a lifetime of sexual activity rolled up into a couple of hours.

"You all right?" The half-demon couldn't, quite, stop smirking a little as she watched Quinn get dressed. Who was, she suddenly realized, the first woman she'd ever slept with and found even more attractive in the morning.

Quinn's response was to swat Dianna's shoulder. "You know I'm not. Most of those muscles haven't had a workoutt in a while. Stop looking so smug." Although the smugness was better than the indifference she'd been expecting.

The smirk grew larger. "You kept pace well, right up until you collapsed." Dianna dodged another swat, laughing. "I was certain this was supposed to be awkward and full of bickering." She said, once she was certain the Irish woman wasn't going to come after her.

"What would be awkward?" Quinn asked, pulling a gray T-shirt over her head. She dug around in the sack and pulled out socks.

"The morning after?" Dianna leaned up against the wall, watching with interest as Quinn bent over. "That's what it's supposed to be right, awkward, you telling me I tricked you into it or something like that?"

"I suppose. You didn't trick me, I knew before we got naked it was probably a one-time deal and that I would do my best not to be bitter or angry with you. You've always been very honest in your wants and desires. You like sex, you're not monogamous, and you have no plans to change that. So if I want to get bent out of shape, I only have myself to blame." Which she might, for giving in, short-selling what was important to herself. She wanted someone who would love and want only her, but she couldn't fault Dianna for her human weakness, and for now it had all been worth it. Tomorrow or whenever she woke up alone, she'd bitch herself out.

The smile faded and Dianna frowned. "Yeah." That was what she'd told her after all and the half-demon pushed off from the wall. "We should go, burning daylight after all." She picked up a backpack stuffed with things that might be useful.

Quinn felt the change between them and winced. That was what she'd been expecting when she woke up. "Yeah, let's go get the kids." She slipped into her shoes and followed.

"Here." Dianna tossed a spare backpack toward Quinn, leaving the rest of the shopping bags behind. If they made it out of the Gray tonight maybe they could come back, if not then it really didn't matter. "Flashlights, flares, walkie- talkie although it probably won't work and rope, also a knife just in case."

"Have you spotted Agent Green? I expect him to be bursting into our old room looking for my dead body anytime now. Good thinking in moving me." Despite the embarrassment of Blue and Lauren knowing what they had been doing.

Dianna shrugged. "Who knows what that prick is doing. I hope some demon gutted him . . .." She trailed off, mouth opening in surprise as the elevator doors opened revealing the agent in question across the hotel's lobby. "Well shit."

Green was arguing with the hotel manager, gesturing toward the ceiling above him. "You just rent rooms to demons without proper identification! Who knows what they could be . . ." He trailed off, eyes widening as he stared back at the two of them.

Quinn pulled Dianna back into the elevator, hitting the door close button and then hit every button to the top floor. Once they hit the second floor, she pushed Dianna out and then dragged her to the housekeeping closet where, as she had hoped, the staff had left the door propped open. She shoved them both inside and quietly shut the door, breathing a sigh of relief when it clicked shut.

"What are you doing?" Dianna hissed, as they were wedged in together. "That prick injected me and tried to get me to kill you! We should kick his ass."

"Right and have the DA hunting us for the rest of our lives; no thank you. Agent Green is causing enough of a shit storm for himself, he's going to be shipped off to Alaska soon. Spending government resources without any solid leads, the government frowns on that."

"How do you know he isn't just doing what they tell him to?" Dianna whispered back, ears straining for any sound of movement outside.

"He's by himself. He's made this personal. If he had a leg to stand on, this place would be swarming with agents. You killing me was his ace in the hole. You didn't do as he planned."

"He still shoved a needle in my ass, he deserves some payback." Dianna pouted a little.

Quinn heard the stairwell door open and pulled Dianna into her, kissing her, just to make sure the woman didn't do anything stupid. Somewhere in the back of her mind she was aware of the doorknob rattling.

There was a moment there, where Dianna was certain she was going to get her chance at revenge, and then Quinn went and distracted her. It was a really bad sign that the human could distract her so thoroughly and quickly. Within seconds, she'd forgotten completely about the man she wanted to deck as hard as she could, and was focused completely on Quinn's lips and tongue.

Once Quinn heard the stairwell door close again she pulled away, breathing heavy. She swallowed and still couldn't find any words. Finally she said, "Damn." She reached behind her and slowly opened the door.

Pale eyes opened after a second, irises dilated as she stared at Quinn's back. How the fuck did she suddenly have that sort of power over her? "He gone?" She licked her lips, voice hoarse.

"Think so." She slipped out the door moving to the stairwell door she opened it listening. There were fast footsteps going up, then a door opened. She gestured for Dianna. She let the woman go first and then silently shut the door, moving them down the stairs.

"We really should just go tie him up somewhere." Dianna grumbled, finding the utilitarian stairwell and the way down.

"Don't have time, daylight burning remember."

"Spoilsport." She let out a relieved sigh seeing Blue and Lauren waiting for them in the coffee shop.

"He's an idiot. He walked right past them and didn't even notice them."

"He's got a serious issue with you." Dianna hefted the backpack over her shoulders. "I think he wants you very dead."

"Yeah." Quinn said in agreement, but she couldn't fathom a reason why.

"Wait . . ." She grabbed Quinn's arm before they went inside, stopping outside the front door. "Do we really have to do this? We could just go, somewhere, away from here. Take them with us if they want." She really didn't want to go to the Asylum.

"Then take them and go. I can't let that thing do what it did to my family to someone else's family. I just can't. I can't let her get the secret to Lauren so she can make more half-demons into full demons, or humans into demons. You changed back but others might not be so lucky."

Dianna sighed, dropping her arm. "Blue shouldn't come with us." She said, looking back inside through the glass at the two women, barely out of their teens, laughing with each other. There would be no laughter inside the heart of the Grey.

"Blue will make her own decisions, she lives in the Gray with the healer witch, and she's probably better suited to survive it than us."

The entire thing made Dianna's stomach twist but she gave a short nod and pulled open the door. "Fine. My tempting you for the day is done I guess." She gave a sad smile.

"You'll just have to suffer my wounded nobility a little longer. You can go, Dianna; I won't hold it against you."

"Right and let the people who burned my bar down get away with it?" Dianna's lips curled in a snarl. "I don't think so." Which was of course the one and only reason she was going along with this; it had nothing to do with staying close to Quinn.



Lauren moved closer to Blue, trapping her body on the stool between her and counter. "Hey. Like your coffee?"

"You have some . . . on your lip.." Lauren looked around but no one was paying attention to them. This close to the Gray, people only paid attention to themselves.

She leaned forward kissing it off.

The other woman blushed, leaning in and kissing her back quickly. "What about your wings?" She blinked. "They disappeared."

"For now. Sometimes my skin is made of stone, other times it's scales, it just depends."

"With the vial?" Daringly, the blond reached out and took Lauren's hand.

"Yes. They scare me but I can't stop."

She let Blue take her hand, smiling.

"I worry. Darkness spreading through your veins." Blue bit her lip, tracing her fingers along the back of Lauren's hand where the veins were just visible. "Changing you." Frustrated, she shook her head, looking up to back at Lauren. "London bridge is falling down, falling down my fair lady." She whispered.

"Then when I change I have to hope I'm like Dianna." Not like other things that haunted her nightmares.

"Dianna's only half though. She gave me sandwiches once, when I was singing to the lady in the window." Blue brightened at that memory. "Build it up with iron and steel, iron and steel, iron and steel; Build it up with iron and steel, my fair lady." She looked around quickly and then gently kissed her hand.

"I have to be half because I'm human; I can't lose the core of what I am." But maybe that was the lie she told herself.

Blue had no words for that, she shook her head, there was only hope after that. "Dianna's arguing about me again." She nodded beyond Lauren's shoulder at the windows.

Lauren turned looking over her shoulder. "How do you know?"

"She looks upset and she doesn't like me." Blue said, as if it was obvious.

"If she didn't like you, she wouldn't have given you a sandwich." And anyway Dianna always looked upset these days.

"I liked the wings." Blue said suddenly as she looked up from her spiced coffee, changing subjects abruptly. "They looked nice, but the eyes were strange." She kept glancing around behind her, trying to figure out what it was that Dianna and Quinn were talking about. They didn't look happy, whatever it was.

"Thanks." Sometimes it was hard to keep up with Blue in a conversation.

The door opened and she knew their pleasant coffee talk was over. "Hey." She said to Dianna and Quinn. "I uh, like the hair."

"I was thinking of dying it bright pink, maybe purple." Dianna said back, just to see the look she got from Quinn. She was still irritated with the human from this morning, and her refusal to let her pummel Agent Green. "Coffee break's over, time to get moving before we lose our chance. Last chance for you two to catch a bus going far away from here." The half-demon eyed them both.

Lauren looked from Dianna to Blue then back at Dianna. "I'm not leaving you. I've already lost one family, I'm not losing another." She stuck out her chin defiantly. Family, huh?" Dianna grinned. "You sure you want to make us family? You don't usually get to choose those things and there might be better options around."

Blue looked from one to the other, feeling the need to stay quiet.

It was Quinn that spoke. "Stop being a jackass, Theron, she's made her decision now you just have to learn to deal with it."

Lauren was silent watching Dianna, somewhat hurt by the words. She stepped back feeling Blue's leg touch hers and felt better. "Let's just get going okay."

The half-demon winced. "Damnit." She ignored the two other women and grabbed Lauren's arm. "I didn't mean it like that, just that maybe you should hang out with people who are a bit more? stable?" More likely to live through the next few hours was what she really meant.

"Families are chaotic, Dianna, but they support everyone in it. You've supported me since the moment you adopted me." Lauren said quietly.

The now dark-haired woman swallowed past a suspiciously large lump in her throat, giving the younger human a swift hug. "Well." She said gruffly, doing her best to show that Lauren's words had not affected her at all. "You coming with us too?" She nodded at Blue.

"You'll need a healer." Blue said certainly, taking Lauren's hand as she stood up. She wasn't just sitting this out.

"Fine." Dianna rolled her eyes and looked over at Quinn. "I guess you have your group of insane lunatics ready to go into hell for you." She wasn't kidding about the hell part.

"You are such a sweet talker." Quinn said shaking her head. "You can leave, Dianna; we've pulled you into this, when this is really is about me and Lauren. You've repeatedly wanted us to leave you alone and what do we do? We get your bar burned down and then your father renounces you. We've caused you enough pain." A last out for the half-demon, Quinn was torn with wanting Dianna somewhere safe and having her near. God why had she slept with the woman? If they lived it, would kill her to watch Dianna take another lover.

"I'm in this." Dianna's eyes narrowed. "That bitch owes me for a bar. Besides, who do you think she's probably getting her virgin sacrifices from? Dear old dad's probably involved in this up to those greedy little eyes of his." She lifted her nose. "Besides, who's going to get you into the Asylum if I don't come along?"

Quinn held up her hands in surrender. "Fine. Lets get going?" She turned heading for the door.

Lauren smiled at Blue and with their fingers intertwined headed for the door as well.

A half block down the street Agent Ferris sat in an unremarkable blue Chevy sedan, watching as the group of women exited the shop and started moving. Flipping open his cell phone he hit speed dial, eyes never leaving the group as he started up the car with his free hand.

"Hey, yes I have them. They're leaving the coffee shop now. What? Probably toward the Gray. We'll lose them if they?" He paused, an eyebrow rising at the vitriol in his partner's voice. "You want to call in the full agency to get them? You sure that's?." he trailed off as the phone went dead.

"Great." He pulled away from the curb, staying well back from them. Things were about to get interesting.


Quinn shivered as the Gray fog grew thicker. Here they were going back into the Gray again. For what? That one question hammered the inside of her skull. For revenge--was she risking all their lives for revenge on the demon that seduced her husband and murdered her son?

They should just run away. To Mexico maybe.

"Second thoughts?" Dianna asked, as they breached the edge of the Gray and kept moving. The fog wasn't uncommon during the daytime, as if the Gray wanted to eliminate any chance that sunlight could penetrate here. It was better than the constant rain as far as the half-demon was concerned.

The four of them were a large enough group at the edge of the Gray Zone to keep any potential trouble away. The real danger would start nearer to the Asylum. It wasn't really safe there, even during the daytime.

Quinn was quiet for a second and said. "Yes." Admitting to those second thoughts, not loud enough for Blue and Lauren to hear. Doubt was pounding away at her nerves.

"That's the Gray." The half-demon answered, moving just a little closer to Quinn as they walked. "You can't let it get to you though; if you start feeling nervous, then you'll get scared and everything in this place will come after you wanting a taste."

She knew that, the Gray got to a person. She let out a breath and tried to push all second thoughts from her head. "Thanks." She blinked realizing how close Dianna was next to her. She blushed lightly, sure it was her imagination, but she thought the woman still smelled of sex, their sex. Swallowing she looked anywhere but Dianna, feeling her gut clench.

"Good." Dianna whispered. "Think about that. Think about me between your legs this morning." She licked her lips, feeling the wave of arousal. Much better, things might still target them, but it wouldn't be the full demons that fed offfear and self-doubt.

"Don't." Quinn said, but her face was heating up even more, and her mind had gone there, to their morning.

"Why not?" The other woman grinned archly. "Aren't you in a much better place now? Things in here want to feed off fear and confusion."

Quinn just gave her a look but didn't say anything. From in front of them Lauren asked. "Do we have any weapons?"

"Quinn's carrying around some guns." Dianna shrugged, not really sure if guns would do anything for what they were about to enter. "I got some contractor stuff from the home tools section, but really our best bet is to avoid fighting altogether. Although . . ." She smiled at Lauren's back "You're kind of a weapon all by yourself."

"Okay. Then we might want to go down a different street, I'm starting to get a headache."

"Already?" Dianna's smile faded and she looked around quickly. They weren't even a few blocks into the Gray yet, not good. "This way." She turned right, going into an empty bank, hoping that the rear door she remembered would still be there.

"Shadows on the wind." Blue whispered, staying very close to Lauren as they walked, blue eyes flicking about, constantly worried.

Quinn pulled her gun following Dianna.

"As if things weren't freaky enough." Dianna muttered to herself, listening as Blue hummed a nursery rhyme behind them. The bank had been abandoned decades ago; marble floors were thick with dust. Theirs were not the only footprints that had disturbed that dust. It was an eerie feeling moving through the shadowed emptiness.

Quinn wished for a flashlight, "Why do the emergency lights work?" she wondered. But the occasional light only served to make the atmosphere creepier.

"Someone's making it their home." Dianna moved faster, the lights making her even more worried about this place. There were no right answers in the Gray though, just the least wrong answer. "There, the rear door." The old-style exit sign painted on it was only just visible under the dust and grime.

Everyone moved quickly toward the door. Quinn pushed everyone in front of her toward the door, covering their exit.

Something flickered in the shadows, a mostly human shaped figure although the head looked abnormally large as the thing shifted in the flickering light. "Demon killer." Its voice was low, like rocks grinding against each other.

At the front of their small pack, Dianna shoved against the door, grunting as it gave only a few inches. Apparently, it had been longer than she remembered since she'd come through this way.

Quinn leveled the gun, hands steady. "Lauren, open the door with that super-strength of yours." She barked out.

"Demon Killer." The thing said again, not moving any closer to Quinn.

"Yes, I've killed a demon." Not that it had done much good since the bitch was back.

"A little help here, Lauren?" Dianna grunted, shoving again against the door, which gave a few inches more.

Lauren took a deep breath, she'd never called up the demons inside her, they just came and went as they pleased. "Come on." Everyone was relying on her, the stress made her stomach hurt.

Blue's fingers slipped out of her hand and she leaned in, kissing Lauren's cheek. "Relax. Don't force it, you'll strain something." The blond teased, at odds with the tension around her.

"Huh," Startled, Lauren nearly jumped. "Right, no strain." She needed to open this door or they might die, or worse, something would hurt Blue. Her skin bubbled, changing into scales, eyes became yellow suns, and teeth became fangs. She pushed into the door next to Dianna and felt the metal move and groan.

Whatever wasn't letting the door open didn't move, but Dianna's eyes widened as she watched the hinges in the doorframe buckle and then rip out of the concrete wall. The door ripped open from the wrong side. "Remind me of that next time I need a can opener." Dianna shook her head, looking behind them at where Quinn was facing down the demon. "Quinn, door's open, time to go!"

The thing took one step toward Quinn, the solid floor shaking under his weight. "Demon Killer. Death stalks you." He rumbled again, yellow eyes peering at her through the misshapen face.

Quinn wished she had something flippant to say back but she had nothing, only the memory of Dianna between her legs to prevent the mind-numbing fear from washing over her. She backed up toward the door, eyes not leaving the creature in front of her until she was outside.

"Troll." Dianna said, wrinkling her nose in distaste as soon as Quinn was outside. "They really like sucking the marrow from human bones."

"He tried to eat me once, said he wanted to play cards." Blue whispered to Lauren, happy to hold the other woman's hands, even if her skin did feel funny.

Lauren's eyes narrowed and she wanted to go back and hurt the thing.

"This way, Romeo." Dianna caught sight of that look and recognized it. Part of the building behind the bank had fallen off the roof, blocking the rear door. Like everything in the Gray, the buildings were crumbling here. "This should get us behind the Asylum." She hoped, as they headed down the trash littered alley way.

"Good. " Quinn said, wanting to be done, wanting to sleep for days.

"Not really." Dianna moved up to the front again, leading the way.

Since they were in the middle again, Blue leaned into Lauren as they moved around debris in the alley. "See, you can control it." She said, inordinately proud of the other woman.

"I guess. I'll believe that when I can control myself more than once." Lauren said slightly bitter.

The blond hesitated, not sure what to say. "I trust you." She said finally, squeezing her fingers.

Quinn rolled her eyes. "Look, kid, it's like you're a teenager again, you just have to get used to all the different hormones and stuff. But I'm going to guess you were always quiet and controlled in high school, never making waves, never letting others know how they pissed you off or let that cute girl know you thought she was hot." No wonder Lauren's sister experimented on Lauren. Lauren had an iron will, perfect for controlling demonic urges.

"I would have liked knowing you in high school." Blue said quietly, thinking it would have been nice.

"I was quiet and all those other things Quinn said. I volunteered in the library, I love books."

"Books are good, but maybe I could have gotten you to come dance with me?" Blue said, hopefully.

"Its possible, but I was so shy, I would have made a fool of myself."

"You would have looked cute doing it." Blue gave her a bright smile.

Ahead of them, Dianna looked over her shoulder, both eyebrows raised incredulously.

Quinn couldn't agree more. Except the farther they got into the Gray the more a heavy depressive weight seemed to pressing on her, only the sweetness of Lauren and Blue's crush or whatever seemed to make the air lighter.

"I think I wish I was in high school right now." Dianna grumbled, goosebumps shivering across her skin as she slowed her pace. The alley ended ahead of them and beyond that was the imposing dark outer wall of the Asylum.

"When they first built it, this was made of white granite. The story goes it was dyed black by the sins of those inside." Half of her loved this place, the other half despised it. All in all, she'd rather be somewhere else right now.

Lauren gritted her teeth as the low steady ache in her head blossomed into a head splitter. Fingernails lengthened and with a cry of pain the skin on her back split as leather wings formed.

"Lauren?" Blue worriedly watched, not sure what she could do, as the woman she hoped was her girlfriend cried out in pain.

"Maybe it was a bad idea to bring her here." Dianna muttered, meeting Quinn's eyes.

"Go ahead and say it." Quinn snapped back. She was getting grumpy and her shoulders hurt.

"I like the way you scream my name?" Dianna smiled, turning around and heading for the Asylum walls. "That what you wanted me to say?" She called back, letting Lauren recover on her own time.

Quinn was taken off guard by that, she had expected a 'told you so' from their previous conversation outside the coffee shop.

Blue blushed, deciding she was going to pretend she didn't hear those words and didn't understand what they were talking about. Instead she kept rubbing her hand along Lauren's back, feeling muscles shudder under her touch.

"God, they're weird." Lauren said letting her wings stretch and work loose. She looked up at Blue and then leaned her scaled head in close, she breathed out, the warm breath washing over Blue's face. Then she opened her mouth, her tongue snaking out and hesitantly licked the woman's cheek, tasting Blue's scent.

It was a different way of experiencing the world.

"They're weird." Blue agreed, giggling just a bit at the strange feeling that was. Not at all weird like Lauren and her were.

"You coming?" Dianna yelled, trailing her hand along the base of the asylum wall, searching for something.

Slowly Lauren folded her wings around both of them. "Just a sec." She let out another warm breath. "I . . . whatever happens in there, please don't hold it against me."

Wide blue eyes studied Lauren's new face and she reached up, touching that face. "I won't. But I'm coming with you." She didn't want to get left behind again.

"Of course, we're a team." Lauren said never doubting Blue would be with them.

"Good." It wasn't a good time for it, or the right place, but Blue leaned in, kissing her softly. "Good." She repeated.

Lauren made an odd purring noise in her chest in happiness and opened her wings.

Quinn was scratching her shoulders. "So do we just walk in? Or scale the wall?"

"There's a way . . ." Dianna frowned, searching. "Somewhere around here, I know it was . . ." She grumbled, probing and prying at the dark wall. She knew she was in the right place, where the hell was it?

Quinn watched curious.

"See, this is why you needed me." The half-demon knelt down in something she didn't want to look too closely at and reached into a run-off pipe. Something clanked and an ancient, blood-rust colored iron door groaned as it swung out of the wall. "See?" She forced a grin. Why were they doing this? They should be running away from this place.

"Dianna, I find it interesting that you knew that was there. Anything you want to tell me?"

"Starting to doubt me too, Quinn?" Dianna wiped off her hands, standing up.

"No, we're too deep in this shit for that. You going to avoid my question?"

"Banks don't give loans to half-demons, you know that? No business loans, no papers, no tax breaks for anything you do. No money to do what you have to do." Dianna lifted her head.

"No, actually I didn't know that." Quinn wondered what that had to do with the secret door.

Feeling their eyes on her, Dianna looked away, studying the courtyard beyond. Weeds had taken over most of it, although the occasional newspaper still fluttered about on errant wind gusts. All of the windows were intact here; no one had dared hurl stones at this building. If you stared long enough you could see things moving behind those windows, ghostly outlines of patients and doctors from the turn of the century.

"Which means that if you need money to start a bar that was your sister's one desire, you need to find the money elsewhere." She swallowed; Quinn wasn't going to like hearing this. But maybe it was for the best to end things now.

"So you go to the only demons in the Gray that have money." Dianna wondered if Quinn knew what was coming yet. "My father wasn't happy but after I proved I was his daughter, he had to lend me some." But not all, oh no, he'd been good at making sure to give her far less than she'd needed.

Pale eyes turned to look at Quinn, feeling the dawning horror in their link. "And the other was Alvera."

Quinn swallowed and kept her mouth shut to prevent words that wanted to come out from coming out. There was a stab of betrayal that Dianna would go to that demon. She kept quiet because part of her knew Dianna didn't deserve her harsh words for doing what she needed to survive.

She closed her eyes and practiced the breathing techniques she'd learned when she'd gone to a therapist. She still felt betrayed but less angry. "That sucks." She said finally opening her eyes. "Come on; daylight's burning."

"Right." Dianna smiled bitterly and turned, stepping into the courtyard. "No going off to examine anything alone, no one goes wandering off or splits up. There's enough danger in here without us doing stupid shit." She dug around in her pack, tossing flashlights to the two younger women. "Last chance to back out."

Lauren rolled golden eyes. "We're going with you."


Inside, deep in the basement of the Asylum red eyes opened, and with a purr, pale arms stretched overhead. "Lovely, lovely, Quinn's here; no more playing cat and mouse games."

The blob peeked in through the doorway, "Mistress?"

"We have guests. Divide them, they stink of old magic together, so divide them so I can conquer."

"As you command."

"Oh and I need Quinn alive, the others I don't care about."

The blob jiggled, which might have been a nod.


Blue stuck close to Lauren's side, holding her left hand and not at all minding the claws. They were reassuring in this place of darkness. The air smelled strange, old and musty but full of an iron taint that might have been blood. Things moved around them and she had to close her eyes, whispering nursery rhymes to herself. They weren't real things, just echoes of what had happened here before.

Doctors with mad smiles and scalpels dripping blood chasing after patients who were screaming for help while nurses laughed and danced naked.

Evil, evil things had happened here and she felt her skin crawl.

"Rock a bye baby, on the tree top. When the wind blows the cradle will rock?" She peeked through her lashes, wishing she'd kept her long hair dangling in her face. The ghost of a nurse, or maybe it was a patient wearing a nurse's uniform, screamed as the doctor behind her slit her throat. Still holding the spurting body to him, he looked right at Blue and smiled.

She shut her eyes hard. "When the bough breaks the cradle will fall, and down will come baby, cradle and all."

Ahead of them Dianna glanced back, only catching hints of what Blue was seeing. She knew bringing someone with psychic powers like Blue's in here was a bad idea. To the rest of them it was just hints of movement out of the corner of the eye, Blue was already terrified.

"Lauren, you have to keep her calm, she's going to?" Dianna trailed off, footsteps coming to a stop as she listened intently. Something had shifted, deeper in the Asylum, something powerful had stirred.

Lauren leaned into Blue, wings opening and settling around them. A useless shape inside, she wished for the one made of stone, but she'd chosen this one because it seemed less aggressive and she'd been concerned for Blue.

"Blue, come on, it's going to be okay. They're just memories locked in this place, they can't hurt you. They just want you to feel as bad as they do. So they're going to try their best to torment you because they can't touch you." She reached out a clawed hand and it sliced through a shadow with no effect on her or the shadow. Other than a slight coldness nothing happened.

"Memories can hurt." Blue whispered, staying right where she was. It wasn't as frightening here though and she hoped she could keep walking like this. "Can I stay here?" She whispered, tightening her hold on Lauren.

"Here in this hallway? Probably not, but next to me, sure unless we need to fight." She looked at Dianna worried, then back to Blue. "Blue, you can shake off the bad memories; don't let them drag you down," she said softly. "Try and think of happy memories, like . . ." She tried to come up with something. "Our first kiss."

That was a happy memory and Blue had already decided she was going to treasure it for a long, long time, no matter what happened. She nodded, swallowing, and opened her eyes again. The images were still there but they looked a little less firm, not quite as real as they had before. Ignoring them she focused on the solid feel of the shorter woman next to her and the memories that she wanted to relive.

The half-demon ahead of them waited impatiently as Blue got herself under control. "You both okay?" When she got a nod, she started moving again, hoping that she remembered the way to the basement levels.

"We get split up, for some reason, try the walkie-talkies. If they don't work, we need to make our way to the basement. That's where the?" There were no words for what was in the basement and Dianna shivered. "Treatment rooms were." That would do for now. "Quinn, you all right back there?"

"Yes, I'm fine." Her shoulders where the demoness had burned her hurt, they throbbed in time with her heartbeat and she was beginning to think it wasn't a coincidence, maybe it was reacting to the heavy demonic influence and magic. "Basement check."

"Mommy." A child's voice shouted out and Quinn stopped heart in her throat, it had sounded like Conner. She looked around but didn't see anything. "Did anyone hear that?" She asked.

"Hear what?" Lauren asked.

"Mommy." It came again.


"I didn't hear anything Quinn." Lauren said looking at Blue and then behind at Quinn who had fallen behind.

"Quinn?" Dianna turned around, worried when the Detective took a step away from them. "Whatever it is, Quinn, it's not real? Goddamnit!" She swore as the other woman took off running. "Fuck. You two stay here, do not move!" She yelled as she took off after Quinn.

"Dianna!" Lauren shouted but the woman was gone single minded on Quinn, "It's probably another trap." She said mostly to herself, she sighed and looked at Blue. "Wanna make out?" She wiggled her nonexistent eyebrows trying to lighten the mood.

Which worked as Blue giggled. "Not with that tongue." She did lean in close to Lauren, eyes wide as she stared down the decrepit side passage that Quinn and Dianna had disappeared down. "What do we do?"

"We wait here, then we try the walkie-talkies, and then we try to find the basement." She pulled them over out of the center of the hallway and wrapped both wings around them peeking over Blue's shoulders, not liking this at all.


"Mommy." Came the child's voice again, closer.

"Connor?" Quinn said desperately. It was impossible, Connor was dead, but it sounded so much like her boy.

There at the end of the hallway a small pale figure stood, lost and alone. "Mommy?" It said again.

"I'm here." She ran faster pushing tired muscles. There was a crack and a groan of metal and wood as the floor fell out from under her.


Dianna heard the crash, but she'd somehow lost Quinn in the twisting hallways. Cursing, she backtracked, finding the place where she thought she'd lost the human and took the righthand turn instead of going straight.

"Quinn? Can you hear me? Quinn?" The half-demon called, worriedly searching the side rooms as she went. These looked as if they'd been doctor's offices at one point, or maybe administrative offices, it was hard to tell after so many years of neglect.

Rounding another corner she shook her head in relief. "Quinn, what are you doing?" The detective was standing at the edge of a collapsed section of hallway, staring down into whatever was below.

"He wasn't your boy, whatever you heard that wasn't your child." Dianna moved closer, focused on the detective's back. Maybe she could grab her and pull her away from the opening if she got close enough. The Irish woman made no sign of hearing her, she stood right where she was, staring downward and a little thrill of warning ran up Dianna's back.

"Quinn? Can you hear me?" She reached out to touch that familiar skin, gasping as the woman whirled on her, red eyes flashing. The thing that looked like Quinn grabbed her hand, laughing.

"Quinn, can you hear me?" It mocked, face twisting into a shape from nightmares as Dianna struggled against its grip.

"Why don't you find out!" The thing screamed, pulling Dianna toward the cave in, it's grip on her hand like steel.

Dianna had a glimpse of Quinn laying at the bottom of the hole, maybe two or three floors down, and then she was falling, arms cartwheeling as the broken wooden floor below rushed up to meet her.


Lauren grumbled and fiddled with the walkie-talkie but the claws were not helping. "Dianna? Quinn?" She said before her finger slipped off. "Blue, a little help."

"Yes, clawed one." Blue quipped, taking the walkie-talkie before Lauren put a claw through the speaker.

Pressing down on the talk button she held it up to her mouth. "Dianna? Can you hear me?" Only static answered, and it kept answering for the next dozen or so times that she tried. Worried blue eyes looked down at Lauren. "That's not good right?"

"No, it's not." Lauren looked around. "We need to find a nurses station, they would have had an emergency exit sign, that will give us a rough map so we can find some stairs. I'm not trying an elevator."

She had to push Blue a little to get her moving, and it was awkward moving so close together, but it was the only way to keep Blue going. Her headache was worse, which meant demons were active somewhere nearby.

Lauren paused and looked inside a room; it looked like someone had made a fire inside. She sighed and moved on to the next one. She gave a toothy grin and let go of Blue's hand to move inside. With a heave of muscles, she ripped the metal sign off the wall.

"Wow." Blue blinked watching the entire metal sign come free, screws that had anchored it into the cement wall coming with it. She let out a low whistle. "Very butch." She thought that was the right way to say it.

"Uh . . ." Lauren looked from the map to Blue and then back to the map. "Right." She brought it over to Blue so the woman could shine the flashlight on it. "We're here." She pointed at the little star. "And the stairs are?" Her eyes tracked around the map. "There. Jesus how big is this place?"

"Melva said it was bigger inside than it looked outside." Blue said, tracing a finger along the dirty sign. "We have to go through here." She pointed at a large area that said isolation rooms. "I don't think I like that idea."

No, Lauren imagined Blue wouldn't. She couldn't imagine the amount of psychic crap in those rooms. People locked in them with only their thoughts for company. "I'll be with you. I won't let anything happen to you."

"Okay." Blue said, voice small. She really didn't want to do this, but she would. "I'm not letting go of you." She warned, as they stepped back out into the hallway. Wincing as echoes of the past played out around them. Most of those echoes were very grizzly, the one with the patient ripping out the doctors eyes and eating them was probably going to be in her nightmares.

Lauren felt bad, but she couldn't just leave Dianna, she owed the woman more than to turn around and flee. But she wanted Blue to be safe. A woman she hardly knew but that felt more important to her than anyone else she'd had in her life to date. She could almost hear her sister's voice saying that was because Blue had kissed her. Maybe that was true, but Blue believed in her, believed in her to be strong, to do the right thing.

So finding Quinn and Dianna was the right thing.

"But I'm keeping my eyes closed when we go through there." Blue said, being very certain that Lauren knew she wasn't going to watch.


Quinn's eyes opened everything was dark, everything stank. The smell made her stomach roll and she grimaced and took some deep breaths.

"Probably not the best smell for a human." A seductive voice said, the words stroking and caressing the air. "But for a demon even a half-demon it's pleasant. Nice to meet you again, Detective. Always one step ahead of me. I was going to come get you in time, once I was stronger, but then you had to surprise me by coming here. Might have worked, but you of all people can't surprise me anymore." Alvera was sitting on a throne of bloody bones made from all her sacrifices; out of the darkness around them demon eyes watched, burning red coals in the dark.

Before, this room had been used for various treatments; shallow tanks with brackish water and wires, benches with tie-downs among operating tables. "In this room, horrible, horrible things were done to stop human misery, only to prolong it. The stench of that misery is like a perfume."

Quinn forced herself to sit up. As long as the bitch was talking, she was still alive.

Dianna lay in one of those tanks, arms tied to the side of the bathtub, her breathing causing ripples to form in the water that she half lay, half sat in. Wires sparked in the back of the room, giving brief flashes of light to the darkness that they were in.

Quinn swallowed. "Let her go."

"No. I had a delicious thought. Wouldn't it be interesting to see if I can split a half-demon into parts?" Alvera moved, a whisper of cloth on skin. "Of course, you could always stop me." She slid her fingers along the bathtub, fingers trailing in the water.

"I did it before; you think I can't do it again." She forced herself to her feet. Her back screamed in agony and she almost collapsed.

The demoness's laugh was dark. "You can barely stand. You're weak. This isn't your home and you don't have surprise on your side this time." Alvera's hand shot out, wrapping around Quinn's throat. Effortlessly she lifted the human up off the floor and then threw her back down. "On your knees, where you deserve to be." Alvera snarled.

Quinn cried out as she hit the dirty floor. She shook her head clearing the stars and then she started getting to her feet. "I'll find a way, you fucking bitch." The words weren't as defiant sounding in the dark room.

"Like you found a way to save your son?" The dark voice chuckled, fingers flicking through the water again. "Oh, that's right, you didn't. His soul is mine."

"His soul was too pure for a dark thing like you to hold on to." Quinn spat out.

"Unless . . ." The voice purred, picking up electrodes and inserting them into the water. "His father sold his soul to me."

Quinn's heart shattered at the words. "No." Her world titled and she couldn't breath.

"Yessss." Laughter echoed off the walls. "That makes two members of your family that are mine."

"You can keep that thing that calls himself my husband but you can't have my son." She hurt; it felt like something inside had broken.

"I won't just give up such a delicious soul for nothing." Alvera purred. "A strong soul, something worthwhile for such a trade." The next wire she picked up sparked as she touched it against the side of the metal tank. The brief current caused Dianna to spasm inside of it.

"Stop." Quinn begged, feeling Dianna's distress. "What do you want?"

"Your soul of course." Alvera smiled in the darkness, an evil expression in the darkness.

"You'll let them go? Dianna, my son, in exchange for my soul. Let them out of this place."

"Dianna is mine; she owes me a lot of? what is the term?" The wire sparked again and the half-demon thrashed in the water. "Interest. Yes, interest for the loan I gave her. I intend to have my pound of flesh, Detective. But your son, yes, he can be freed."

"No, Dianna's mine. So you can try to collect but good luck with that." She laughed feeling better to have one up on the demon.

Slowly she got back up, remembering a fundamental thing about demons, they were liars. "I don't think you have my son. I think you're a liar." She had faced this thing once before, she could do it again even if it meant dying on her two feet.

She moved toward the tub wishing she had a gun but instead she whispered the Lord's prayer.

The smile was more of a snarl this time. "You'd damn your son's soul for all eternity just for this?" Dianna thrashed as Alvera shoved the cable into the water. "How long do you think it will take for her brain to melt?" The smile was back. "Are you feeling her pain?"

"Yes." Quinn hissed out. "Prove you have my son."

She was taking as much of Dianna's pain on herself as she could, she owed the woman that much for getting them into this. "Cause I think you're lying."


The air around them was getting colder and Lauren had a pretty good idea that wasn't a good thing where Blue was concerned. She kept up a stream of nonsense. "It's okay. I'm right here. I'm not going to let anything happen. It's okay." It became a mantra of sorts.

"Did you like having a sister?" Blue blurted, shivering as she clung to Lauren's hand. "I always wanted a sister." The stairs were through the doors ahead of them, but they were on the other side of the isolation rooms, which were also through the doors.

The shivering got worse as they moved into the dingy corridor beyond. A dozen cells were off the corridor, empty except for the ghosts inside of them. Which Blue tried to ignore.

"No, she . . . uh . . . she's the one who did this to me. Said it was to help with anxiety, instead, she made me a demon. She was smart and pretty and everything I wasn't, and my parents spent their whole life asking me why I wasn't more like Susan."

"You're smart and pretty." Blue pointed out, the shivering lessening a little. "Even when you have wings." That was a lot to get used to, but she'd seen a lot of strange things in the Gray.

"Thanks. So you were an only child? Did you grow up here? Well, not here in the Gray but in town?"

"No." Blue shivered, looking away from the body hanging in the isolation cell they were passing in front of. "New York." She swallowed. "My parents were rich, very rich. Daddy worked for a big bank, mom was involved in all the parties and the right fundraisers." Blue kept her eyes closed. "They thought I'd gone insane." She swallowed.

"It's okay." Lauren careful of her claws rubbed Blue's back. "I've never been to New York, I've never been out of the state."

"We could go. See the statues and the shows. I like the plays, and then there's the dancing. I was going to dance, I was good, all the teachers told me so." She felt Lauren slow and, reluctantly opened an eye. The thing standing at the far end of the room, in front of the stairs, didn't look like a ghost.

"That's not an echo, is it?" She said worriedly.

Lauren's eyes were murderous slits, and she hissed a warning to the thing.

The thing at the end of the hallway moved toward them and Blue shivered as she got a good look at it. It looked like Dianna, the form was right, the hair was right, even the way she was smirking looked like the half-demon.

But it wasn't Dianna. The edges of her blurred a little if Blue looked hard enough and her shadow flickered, moving between different shapes as if the light being shown on it was ever changing.

"That's not Dianna." Blue whispered certain of it as she was of anything else.

"Of course, I'm Dianna." The thing moving toward them said in Dianna's voice. "Your friend. I got lost looking for Quinn, have you seen her?" There was even what sounded like genuine worry in that voice.

Dianna never made Lauren's head ache like this. The scaled woman moved in front of Blue with a growl. Wings spread so she blocked Blue from the demon, she stared at the thing, she would have believed it to be Dianna, it was perfect except she'd never had the overwhelming urge to kill Dianna. The urge to kill this thing drummed through her with every beat of her heart.

"Hey." She hissed out. "What do you call a demon that kills other demons?"

Something shifted in the thing's face, just a momentary flicker of something other than Dianna's eyes and mouth. "I don't know, Lauren." She kept walking toward them, eyes intent on the humans.

Blue slowly backed up, eyes wide of what she could see around Lauren's wings.

"Hey you've heard that one before, that's the right answer." Lauren said. As the thing in front of them stopped moving and blinked in confusion she sprang, muscles tensing and releasing in that blink of an eye. Claws out, wings snapping into her body.

The thing's form changed even as Lauren leapt for it, the boundaries of Dianna's body sagging and flowing until it wasn't so much a person as a blob that vaguely resembled a human. The thing flowed around Lauren as she struck it, wrapping folds of itself around her as the force of the impact sent them both tumbling along the floor.

Hand over her mouth, Blue backed up, not sure what she could do, if anything to help her girlfriend. Something behind her moved in the darkness and she screwed her eyes shut.

"Just echoes." She whispered to herself. "Just echoes of the past. Can't hurt me, they're just shadows."

Cold dead fingers wrapped around her ankles and pulled, sending her falling face first to the ground, arms outstretched as she screamed. The fingers dragged her backward kicking and fighting, into the isolation cell.

"Laur?" The scream was cut short as the rusting metal door swung shut.

"Blue." Lauren shouted. Claws slashing and gouging into the blob. How did one kill a blob? Fire or ice, she would guess but she had neither. She tore herself away from the thing and ran at the closed door, hitting it at almost full speed.

The door groaned as it slid back half an inch but didn't open. She pounded on it, her claws scratching the metal. "Blue!" She shouted again just as she was yanked back by the blob. "Damn it!" She screamed trying to turn around and face it.

Suddenly it was over her head, covering her nose and mouth, and she couldn't breath. She clawed at it and tried to pull it off. Her legs trembled after 30-seconds and then they gave out.

The blob wrapped itself around her, bearing her to the ground, tightening its hold as it did so. Only when it was certain that she wasn't moving anymore did it pull away, its mass rolling down the hallway to report back to its mistress that the two others had been taken care of.

Dirty fingers reached out through the half-inch gap that Lauren had opened. Just barely she could pull on the door, Blue throwing everything she had into it so that the door slid open, reluctantly. Behind her the shadows burned, blue flames flickering through them.

The human was covered in bleeding scratches and dirty from the contents of the cell she'd been dragged into. None of that mattered to her though as she stumbled to Lauren's side. "Lauren?"

Frantically she knelt next to the woman who was slowly looking more like a human and pressed her hands to the woman's chest.

Lauren wasn't breathing. Terror seized her and she focused her powers.


"Prove it. Prove you have my son's soul." The demon had to be lying, had to be. She licked dry lips and watched Dianna's body convulse, her own skin buzzing.

Alvera licked her lips, it was an unexpected bonus to be able to hurt Dianna and have the human feel it. She really enjoyed bonuses. "What would you want for proof, his darling little screams for help from his mommy?" She yanked the cable free of the water, leaving Dianna collapsed in the water. She didn't want the half-demon dead yet, no that would take much longer.

"Whatever it takes to convince me you really have it? The burden of proof is on you, not me." Quinn said voice steady even if her body wasn't so much so.

"How about I show him to you?" Alvera's smile was nasty as she stalked toward Quinn. "Would you like that? Would it make your little heart bleed to see him again?" She waved and the pool of water in another one of the tubs shimmered, glowing as it showed a young boy surrounded by demons. "Can you see how terrified he is?"

Quinn nodded, tears streaming down her face. "Why?" She asked, her voice a hollow shell.

"Because he should have been your brother." Alvera was loving every tear, every moment of heart-wrenching pain. It was delicious. "Your father sold your brother's soul to me, did you know that?" She laughed at the expression on Quinn's face. "Traded it to me for the soul of his beautiful wife."

"I don't understand." Her mother had been a nun, how had Alvera gotten her soul? "That's impossible. She was a woman of the church." But it was a well-romanticized story, how her parents had defied their vows to find love.

The demoness laughed. "Really? Do you think she'd always been a nun?" The smile was pure evil now. "She tried to redeem herself." More laughter, almost giggling this time. "But that's not how it works, she should have known that. When they fell in love your father pleaded with me, begged me to give her soul back. I agreed, for a price."

Quinn let her eyes close, all of it just too much. "My brother." She said weakly. "But I've met the demon that has his soul and it's not you."

"Yes." Alvera's eyes narrowed with sudden fury. "It's not. His soul is out of my reach, but yours wasn't. How easy it was to seduce your husband and then to get your son's soul?" She nearly purred in pleasure. "Worth every second. Until you ruined it by nearly destroying me!" That earned Quinn a hard punch across the face that sent her tumbling.

Recovering her composure Alvera smiled. "It's all right though. You gave me the perfect anchor to keep me from being completely gone, those scars on your shoulders. Now with your soul I'll be fully returned."

Quinn sat jaw aching, wanting to so completely just give in to the mind numbing depression that waited to overwhelm her. But that had never been part of her character. She rubbed her jaw and looked at the demoness. "It burns you up, doesn't it, that at every turn my family has one upped you. Every turn. I could walk away and give the Quinns a perfect score. Quinns three - Alvera zero. Or . . ." She could tell she had the demoness, the thing was hooked on her every word. "we could make a deal."

Alvera's smile was blinding in the darkness.


Lauren snuck into Blue's hospital room whenever she could, sometimes the nurses chased her off, and sometimes they pretended not to see her. She talked to Blue, told her everything she could think of, but mostly she begged the blond woman to wake up.


Cain woke with the sound of a gun being cocked. His red eyes snapped open and then he went cross-eyed staring down the barrel of a gun.

Quinn looked at her brother. "Get up." She said quietly.

He was sandwiched between a curvy African-American woman and some sort of Norse God. Is this what she had to look forward to, a life of debauchery? "Get up, don't make me ask again."

Cain nodded and worked on squeezing out from between his two lovers for the night.

Quinn tossed him a robe and then moved into the kitchen. She pulled out a glass and his best whiskey and poured herself a double. She slammed it back and then poured another.

"That's no way to treat a fine drink."

She looked at him over the rim of her glass. "Is it true?"

"A lot of things are true. Any truth in particular?"

"The one about Da, mum, and you? Did my son die for the sins of my family?"

"Oh." He said quietly. "When we found out Alvera had been killed by you, we thought it was over."

"Is it true?"

He sighed, "Yes. Da fell in love with a nun breaking his vows to the church. She was a Ridden, a pathetic human that had sold its soul to a demon. This nun's soul belonged to Alvera, but she in turn fell in love with him. They begged Alvera to let mum's soul go, and she agreed, for a price."

"Your soul." Alvera hadn't lied.

"Yeah, the soul of their first born. I found out about it and shopped around. If was I going to lose my soul, might as well be to a demon I liked. Thrasher was pleased as punch to fuck Alvera over and take my soul before my 18th birthday."

Quinn finished her drink and poured another nodding. "But Alvera wasn't willing to sit back and have a laugh about how the humans had fucked her. So she came after me, figured if she got my husband and my son, I'd follow. Only I didn't and I didn't kill her."

"Yeah. Just sent her back to hell for a bit. Quinn, I'm sorry. You deserve better than your family."

"Shut up, Cain." She leveled the gun at him. "You're going to pay me back for all the shit I've endured on your and Da's behalf."

"Sure, whatever you need."

She nodded. "Fix Dianna's bar. Get it back from her father, get him to leave her alone, and make it look like it never burned down, and give her the deed. She owns it debt free."

"Sis, Malax? He's no small time player, he's the King of Lust."

The gun went off, and he squealed in pain as the bullet entered his thigh.

"Do it, Cain, make it happen. Thrasher can't be small potatoes if Alvera didn't fuck him up for poaching your soul."

He nodded. "Fine, consider it done. Anything else?" He squeezed a hand over the bullet hole, blood sluggishly dribbling out from between his fingers.

"I need a fake ID."


Lauren snuck into Blue's room. She was tired, some green thing with tentacles had tried to eat her when she'd taken a shortcut through an alley. She dumped the dying flowers out of the vase and put in the fresh ones and sat down. Only to give a squeak of shock as she saw blue eyes looking back at her.


The young woman's mouth opened. "Who's Blue and who are you?"

Lauren's mouth open and shut. "This isn't funny, you're Blue."

"My name's Violet."

"Violet." She said dumbly.

Suddenly, there were nurses and doctors in the room, and Lauren found herself outside.


Quinn had bought several plane tickets in her name all going different places. Then as Alice Little she bought a train ticket to New York, where her father's church was.

She waited for him, sitting in a pew, watched him come in and talk with several of the church volunteers. He looked smaller, more broken blood vessels in his nose. She got up and lit a candle for her son and then stepped into the confessional. She waited for him to notice the light.

"How may I help you child?"

"By stepping up, and taking responsibility for your sins."

There was silence, it stretched out for minutes until it broke. "Maggie?"

"Yes, Father Quinn. It's your daughter."

"I don't know?"

"Yes you do, you know exactly what I'm talking about. My son dying because you couldn't keep it in your pants. You loved a demon-ridden whore more than you loved your own children and then once she was gone, you still refused responsibility, so instead you went and hid in the church on the off-chance Alvera came for you. I have news for you, Father; she came for me and took my son. Your grandson."

"Don't you dare call your mother a whore!" He shouted back.

"You've known all along that she'd come for me. She took Connor and you said nothing. I get framed for murders I didn't commit, nearly killed by demons, and you say nothing."

"I told you to talk to your brother, it's not my fault you blame him for things beyond his control, and refuse to talk to him."

"I shouldn't have to. You should have told me, it's your sin, your lust, that put your children in this situation."

Her answer was silence.

She was getting up to leave when he asked. "What do you want? I didn't want my grandson to die or you or Cain, but I loved your mother so much. Do you know how much it killed me when she died from cancer?"

"I want you to give your soul to Alvera so she'll let Connor's go, like you should have when you betrayed your vows for a roll in the hay."

"I can't."

Quinn wasn't surprised. "Goodbye, Father." She exited the small booth.

She stayed in a hotel room for two days drinking and waiting. Almost every night there was some sort of erotic dream starring her and Dianna. It hurt, because Dianna was probably with some vapid, bubbly blonde; fucking her brains out, not her, never her, only that one night. Those memories would have to sustain her. Distance and drink muted the bond; perhaps she was as weak as her father.

"Did you find your answers? Get all your affairs in order?"

She blinked and then looked at the now occupied couch seat next to her. The demoness sat there, smirking. "Yes."

"Your father's not here so I'm guessing he's still the spineless bastard I knew him to be."

She nodded draining the glass. "Let's get this over with." She set the glass down and stood up.

"Yes, let's." She reached out, only to be stopped by Quinn's hand. "What?"

"I do this and you leave my friends and family alone?"

"Yes, yes, that's the deal."

"I want your blood on it."

"Fine." A claw quickly cut her hand and then the demon's. Alvera looked at Quinn, "Maggie Quinn I get your soul and in return I will do no harm toward your friends and family." She only agreed to this because Maggie had so little of each. Then she clasped Quinn's hand. "Happy?"

Quinn nodded, "Last thing. Let Connor's soul go."

Alvera made a face, but then pushed a hand inside and pulled something out. A spark of pure light, it hurt to look at it. Quinn thought she heard the whispered word 'Mommy' and then it was gone.

"Leave Dianna alone."

"Yes, covered under friends and family. Are you done?" The demon snapped.

Quinn nodded.

Alvera moved her hand back from Quinn's and took something with her. Alvera stared at her the soul in her hand. "It seems light."

"I know what a soul weighs." The demon considered that and then shoved it into her mouth devouring it.

Quinn blinked. She felt hollow. She blinked. She felt oddly unencumbered.

Alvera watched her. "You look so much like your mother now." She stepped forward to kiss her.

Quinn stepped back. "I'm not her. And I'd really rather not think about what that just inferred about you and my mother."

The backhand sent her across the room but in the blink of an eye she was up.

"You'll do whatever I tell you to. You belong to me."


It was two days before Lauren could get back inside to see Blue.

She opened the door looking around. "Blue? I mean Violet?" She shut the door and walked over to a chair and watched Blue sleep.

She bit her lip worried, she should go find Dianna. She'd know what to do. But the half-demon had her own issues.

Suddenly the door opened, and two people came in dressed in fine clothes and stinking of their own self-importance.

"Who are you? Get this janitor out of my daughter's room. Oh God, it probably doesn't understand English. Does somebody speak Mexican in this horrid place?"

"I understand you just fine." She blurted out. Only to still find herself shoved out of the room. "Stop it. Stop touching me. Blue! Blue!"

Suddenly a metal cuff locked around her wrist, and she looked up into the face of Agent Green. "I've got this. Glad I could help you find your missing daughter. Come on Lauren, time to go home."

"No." Lauren tried to wrench her arm free but only found herself surrounded by agents.

"What were you doing in that Asylum in the heart of the Gray, Lauren? Where's Quinn?" In the back of the van Agent Green's questions never stopped. They'd drugged her with a muscle relaxant so none of her muscles worked, she couldn't change shape, couldn't fight them. Didn't matter, without Blue. It had been her fault, she'd died and Blue had tried to bring her back. Blue shouldn't have done that. All her fault.

"Where's Quinn?"

God, she wished he'd stop asking that, no one knew. She'd woken up in the Asylum with Blue unconscious next to her and the stamping of several booted feet. Then the DA agents had crashed through doors, she had run, feeling bad for leaving Blue. Bad girlfriend, she was a bad girlfriend.


Cain Quinn stepped into the police station, sunglasses in place and holding a cane for his limp. Maggie just had to shoot him with a melted-cross special. He stopped at a desk. "I understand you're holding one Dianna Theron illegally, and if you don't release her I will make a call to the HDCLU, and you'll have a camp-out of several angry protesters outside your doors. How would that be for business?"

The man paled and swallowed nervously. God, he hated the Half-Demon Civil Liberties Union. "Uh, let me take you to the Chief."

"Yes, let's." He said with a neutral smile.

The Chief looked up as his door opened and then sighed as he saw Cain. He waved off the Sergeant, "I've got it."

Cain came in with a smile.

The chief spoke before Cain could. "Look, I don't believe any of this bullshit about your sister, but it looks worse the longer she stays away and these DA hacks build a case against her. So tell her to come in."

"I'm not here about my sister. I can't tell her to come in because I don't know where she is. I'm here about a Ms. Theron, whom you have been holding without any reasonable cause."

The Chief paled, no one knew they had Theron in a cell. "The DA . . ."

"Can blow me. Now either release her or deal with the HDCLU and myself. The DA is really high on my shit list, particularly this Agent Green, who seems to have a vendetta against my sister. I'm horrified at how this . . . her brothers-in-blue have turned against her as well as this city. She has given all of herself in the ideal of 'To Serve and Protect' and this is how she's repaid? Wherever she is, I hope she has found a better class of people to have her back."

The Chief flushed. "I will have Ms. Theron released; she will need to stick around for any questions related . . ."

Cain cut him off. "Any questions can be filtered through Ms. Theron's lawyer." He pulled out a business card and set it on the desk.

The Chief picked up a phone. "Release Theron. Yes I know, now just release her. Her lawyer is here."


Cain put his hand on the small of Dianna's back as they moved out the front doors of the station. There were a group of people there holding signs about police brutality against half-demons.

"I thought you weren't going to call them." The Chief sputtered.

"I lied." Cain said, moving Dianna through the crowd. He did stop to speak for Dianna. Condemning the police and then praising them for giving in to pressures from a dubious agency like Demon Affairs and keeping Ms. Theron locked up without a lawyer, showing yet again how half-demons had little or no rights.

"Just keep looking pathetic and lost," he whispered into her ear, "and don't say anything." He moved them to a waiting car.

Dianna nodded a little, it wasn't a hard request. Everything hurt, either from what Alvera had done to her or the beating she'd taken in the holding cell. The entire details of the last twenty-four hours were very fuzzy; she had big gaps in her memory. The last thing she clearly remembered was falling through the air in the Asylum, the ground rushing up to meet her.

There were only fragments after that, shattered pieces of remembering.

Screaming in pain as Alvera shocked her in the filthy pool of water, the broken look in Quinn's eyes as she watched.

The feel of rough hands on her as the DA agents arrived, and then flashes of traveling in a helicopter she thought.

Gingerly she got into the car, wincing as bruises ached with the contact. Her face must look a mess.

"Why are you doing this?" She said as soon as Cain got inside, the swollen split lip making it harder to talk than usual.

"My sister asked me to and in 15 years my sister hasn't asked me for a thing." He tapped on the partition separating them from the driver and the car started moving. He opened the wet bar and grabbed a handful of ice, wrapping it in a towel and handed it to her.

"She's alive?" Dianna cursed the hopeful note in her voice as she took the ice and pressed it to her right eye.

Cain lifted his sunglasses and rubbed demon-red eyes. He'd heard rumors, things that made him uneasy. Alvera wasn't gone and she'd gotten a new Reaper. That made many of the bigwigs uneasy. It made him uneasy because his sister had fallen off the radar.

"As far as I know. She showed up. Asked a bunch of questions, shot me in the leg, made me promise some stuff and then took a fake ID and left."

"Shot you in the leg?" Dianna grinned a little and immediately regretted it. "Thank you for getting me out of there." She dabbed at her lip with the towel, sighing as she realized she'd split it open again. "Now what?"

"You were a very hard woman to find and the more I dug the more I was horrified at what I found. I have no illusions about demons; I have done a lot of bad things to get where I have in life, it's part and parcel of being a Ridden. But the sheer amount of government cover-up and corruption going on around this stinks more than a mob boss's trial." He poured himself a drink. "I am taking you home, per my sister's request."

They drove toward the Gray Zone, a route very familiar to Dianna. Finally, the car stopped.

"Maggie said all you really wanted was your bar and to be left alone." He said as the doors unlocked. He reached out, opening his door and slid out before limping over to Dianna's door and opening it.

Confused at where they were going, Dianna watched him get out, following. "I don't really have a bar or a home anymore. Remember the 'burning it to the ground' thing?"

"Yes, I read about it. Never been to your bar, your father and I don't get along." He helped her out of the car and then turned her to look at the rebuilt bar. "There's some mean German woman in the kitchen making lunch, I don't advise keeping her waiting."

"Wha?." Dianna blinked, and then blinked again, mouth open as she gaped at the building where her bar had been. It looked almost identical, newer than her place had been, with workers still painting the outside. "How?" She trailed off, thoughts whirling. "That's impossible," she settled on.

"I know a Timebender. She put a bubble over it, luckily she only accelerates time. So inside the bubble, time moved faster, normally she charges a lot of money, helps out in big labs making experiments go faster, but she owed me a favor. There are still a few things inside that are missing like bar furniture, lighting fixtures, and other things. As I am made to understand, girls like to pick that stuff out for themselves." He paused and pulled out a slim leather document holder. "Oh and this is yours as well." He handed her the deed to the land and the building.

Wonderingly, Dianna took the deed in hands that only trembled a little. She was very quickly approaching the limits of even her endurance. "Quinn arranged this?" She whispered.

"Yes, Maggie arranged this." He was silent for a moment biting his lip. "Dianna, this was our fault, you merely got swept into a grudge match losing your home, your dignity, and at every turn you helped my sister. Maybe grudgingly, but you were there for her when the rest of the world wasn't. She wanted you to have the things that were taken from you because of her. Your bar and well, your peace and quiet."

It was what she wanted, what she'd always wanted. Why then, did it feel like she'd lost everything, Dianna wondered? What was that empty feeling from?

"Will you tell her I'd like to see her, if she wants to?" Dianna asked, voice quiet as she stared at the building.

He sighed, suddenly looking very human. "I don't know where she is. She's just disappeared."

Dianna jerked her gaze away from the building to narrow her eyes at the demon servant. "She what? What do you mean she just disappeared? You said she was fine."

"Last I saw her she was." He shot back defensively. "Look, I've learned to leave her alone. If she needs something, she'll stop by. I have someone checking in to the fake ID I gave her. Following her trail, but do you have any idea how many Alice Littles are in the world? A lot, which is what makes it such a good ID." He angrily loosened the tie he was wearing. "Why the fuck do you care?"

An excellent question and one that Dianna had no answer for, none that she was willing to share with anyone else at least. "Tell her I'd like to see her if you see her again." Was all that Dianna said, a bit of her old self showing through again. "Thank her for the bar? it?." She trailed off, confusion choking off the words again.

It was perfect, but it would never replace what she'd lost. Sissy was gone, would always be gone and Dianna was fully alone again. Swallowing she shook her head and walked for the door, not once looking back as she went inside.

End of Part 1

Continued in Gray Line part 2 - The Fallen by Windstar and Zee

Don't send us hate mail! This turned into a trilogy, which we have finished and are sending to our lovely beta reader. They are written and will be posted, promise.

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