Whoever You Want to Be


"Oh, I knew you'd be a fun job, soldier boy," the beauty laughed as the last spasms of climax subsided. She didn't let him go, nor did she take any time to rest. Instead, she rocked against him once more, still fucking him despite his breathless pleas.

"Gotta stop," Jack begged weakly. "Please stop. Gotta rest. Can't... can't do more."

"But it feels so good, doesn't it?" Serena smiled. She didn't need to look at him to know how he looked.

"Yeah. Yes," he admitted, "but we just... I can't... I can't..."

"I can. Don't worry. I'll keep this party going until you're all finished off, Jack." Her grin became malicious. "Should've gone to your meeting."

"Wh... what?"

"I said you should've gone to your meeting. Maybe you could've confessed your crimes there. But if I was going to let you do that, I wouldn't be here in the first place."


"Oh, c'mon, Jack. Big bad warrior like you. Guys like you should know trouble when they see it." She inhaled sharply, riding out electric sensations between her legs. "Should've seen it in me."

"No. Let go," he said through cracked lips and a dry throat. "Lemme go."

"I will, Jack. I'll let you go. Right to your eternal reward." The mere thought made her shake. "It's gonna be so good... for me. Maybe not for you. But you know that now, right? Can you feel it?"

Jack's eyes fluttered open again. Now he saw the broad, black wings, and the tail, and the reddish hue of her skin. It made her no less sensuous, and did nothing to diminish the pleasures of being sheathed within her, but Jack's heart beat faster.

"Oh, fuck, you've got at least another hour in you. I knew you'd be a stallion. Most of the guys I fuck aren't nearly this in shape, but you're a fighter. You're a champion. All those people you murdered... they knew it, too, didn't they? Before you died? Unh. Mmmh. I'm not... usually into... challenges... but oh, fuck, have you been worth it."

His weak, trembling hands reached for the nightstand.

"I took the gun out of the drawer while you were in the shower, Jack," Serena chuckled. "Paranoid fool. Sleeping with a gun by the bed. But oh, fuck. Such a good cock." Her hands came between her legs to touch his shaft as she rocked back on it. "All the gun you need, right here."

Jack's fear pushed him to try again. The nightstand was empty. He reached back behind his head, hardly able to feel anything by touch now because of the overwhelming pleasure offered by Serena's flesh, but he had to try. His hands fumbled back behind the pillow and found his other pistol on its holster hanging just below the headboard.

He was about to come again. He was close. So close. For the first time since he'd met Serena, he managed to deny himself. His life was at stake.

Jack pointed the gun at her back. It shook in his trembling hand. Holding it up seemed all he could do; the final pull of the trigger was almost more than he could manage.

The bullet struck her at the base of her skull. Serena immediately flew off of him and landed face first against the dresser across from the bed. The pistol fell from Jack's weak hand. He tried to cough, but couldn't muster the energy. His eyes fluttered open once more. The danger was gone. He knew that much, at least. He could rest now. Rest.

Serena rose with rage burning in her eyes. Jack's eyes snapped open again just before the flames erupted from her mouth, engulfing him and his bed. He had no energy left with which to scream as he died, taking years of violent sins with him.

Almost as soon as the last tongue of flame left her mouth, she regretted it. She'd acted out of pain and anger. It was reflex. Sloppy. Stupid. The fire spread quickly, igniting the wallpaper and the sheets. "Aw, shit," she cursed at herself.

Serena looked toward the door for an escape, then the window on the other side of the room—and saw the gleaming halo and white wings of a young-looking beauty in a simple white dress.

"Well, fuck me running," the angel scowled. "I thought I smelled skank in this neighborhood."

* * *

"Please don't call her that."

"No, seriously, she's gotta be a skank," Ian said. He drove along with one hand on the wheel and the other holding his burrito. "I mean if he's ready to dump you for her after dating you for a year and he does it over text? That means he's got somethin' he doesn't want to own up to in person. If you think there might be another woman, then there probably is."

"You don't have to call her a skank," mumbled his partner. For the first time in Ian's memory, she had her phone out in her hands and keyed in commands. "I don't even know her. I don't know what's going on with them. And it's not like we had moved in together or anything."

"Seriously? Shannon, she stole your man! She's a skank!"

"No, really, Ian. Stop it. I'm serious," Shannon said flatly. "That's a shitty thing to say about anyone and I don't need to hear it. Brad chickening out on me is one thing. She didn't do wrong by me in any way that I know about. She might not even know he had a steady girlfriend, or he might have lied about me and made her think dumping me was healthy for him. So leave her out of it, okay?

"Nobody 'steals' anyone. He's an adult. He makes his own decisions. If he's not interested enough to stay with me, then I don't want him."

"Fine," Ian shrugged. "Jeez. Sorry." He drove on in sullen silence, waiting for Shannon to apologize for snapping at him. When she didn't, he figured he must have struck a real nerve. Shannon could be firm and loud in an emergency, but she rarely rebuked him or anyone else with the company. She was always shy at parties. Quiet. Not withdrawn, but certainly introverted.

He didn't even know Shannon had a boyfriend until the Christmas party last year. Now she had lost him, and seemed mildly annoyed instead of heartbroken. And now, for the first time ever, she seemed absorbed by her cell phone. Ian finally caught a glance at what she was doing. "Changin' your relationship status, huh?"

"No," answered Shannon. "I don't even post that. I'm tempted to shut this thing off except for all my family out of state."

"So what are you doing?"

"Trying to figure out how to make it stop sending me updates when people send me something or tag me."

"Why's that?"

"Because he changed his status and people are bugging me about what's wrong."

"Seriously? He did that already? Shannon, this guy—"

"Is out of my life now, okay?" Shannon sighed. "Just let it go. I'm better off without him. I'll find somebody new sooner or later." She looked out the window, only now feeling a bit glum.

"Well, you're a pretty gal, right? I mean I don't want to get awkward, but you are," Ian pointed out. "I bet you get asked out a lot, right?"



"I think I project it or something, but..." Shannon let out a sigh. "I hate dating."

* * *

Serena hated being thrown through drywall.

She crashed through the plaster and flimsy wood in a mess of dust and splinters only to continue through the coffee table in the living room, too, which exploded in a mess of shards. The naked succubus flopped to a stop at the foot of the entertainment center.

"Oh, you stupid demon asshat," ranted the angel in the bedroom. Serena looked through the hole in the wall to see the angel swiftly gather the burning blankets up in a bundle. She saw Jack's lifeless, charred head and shoulders flop up into view for a heartbeat as the angel included him, too.

"What did I say? What did I fucking say to the last two fuckers I sent back to Hell with their heads shoved up their asses?" She moved out of view, presumably heading for the window to throw the bundle outside where the flames would provide less danger to the building. The wall still burned, but the angel clearly meant to remove what fuel she could before dealing with that.

Serena shook herself. She ached all over, but it would take more than this to put her down for good. That angel could do it, though—she knew exactly who she faced. In just the last few weeks, every demon had heard of Rachel.

She hated feeling afraid, but she felt it now. Going toe to toe with an angel of such power was simply not an option. Nor would Serena get away if she simply turned tail and ran.

The succubus launched herself to a small closet and threw open its doors. Hidden behind hanging coats and suits stood a tall, locked box of some of Jack's favorite things. The lock on the metal box did nothing to keep Serena out; the sharp talons that now replaced her fingernails took care of that.

"I said, 'No more asshats in my city!' That's what I told 'em to tell all of you!" Rachel continued to rant as she came back into view. She had curtains in her hands now, using them to beat at the flames still growing across the bedroom wall. "Other people live in this building, you stupid cow! How the fuck am I supposed to put this out? Piss on it? I don't have that kind of equipment!"

She snapped the curtains at the wall again. "You still out there?" Rachel asked. The angel looked over her shoulder. "I haven't forgotten about y—"

Serena pitched the grenade through the hole like a shot putter. Her timing was perfect, as was her aim. Jack was not remotely the first dangerous man she'd slept with. She sometimes learned all sorts of useful things from her lovers.

The grenade exploded in mid-air, less than a foot from Rachel's back. Flames and smoke obscured Serena's view of the damage, but the succubus didn't waste time assessing damage. She pulled the automatic shotgun from its foam resting place.

Clothing. She would need clothing, too. A succubus had great powers of illusion, but power was finite. Having just a little to work with would make things easier. Even a coat would do. With the Saiga shotgun locked and loaded, Serena stood and kept the weapon trained in Rachel's direction while she grabbed a long black trench coat off of a hanger.

In the bedroom, Rachel coughed as she got to her hands and knees. Her head felt like it had been used as the ringer for a cathedral bell, and for that matter so did the rest of her body. She recovered quickly, but even she wasn't invulnerable. Rachel blinked and looked around. At least the blast had blown out most of the flames.

She couldn't have this here. People lived in this building, and protecting them took priority. Bad enough that the succubus had started a fire, but Rachel hadn't expected her to escalate straight to explosives. She got off her knees just in time for the second grenade to land at her feet.

"Aw, sh—" she managed before the grenade blew, lifting her with enough force to bang her up against the ceiling before she landed on the smoldering remains of the bed. This grenade brought with it more fire rather than less. Rachel burned, and with her so did the room.

"Fucking knock that shit off!" raged the angel. She allowed herself to go intangible, rushing up through the wreckage of furniture and going straight through the wall to launch herself back at her opponent. She couldn't remain in that state and land a blow, though, and her foe knew it. As soon as she came through the ruined wall, the shotgun blasts erupted at point blank range.

Rachel screamed more in anger than pain. A mortal body would have been shredded; hers would be severely bruised when this was over. Still, she came on, bringing a fierce left hook into Serena's side that took the succubus off her feet and sent her flying over the bar separating the apartment's living room and kitchen.

She stormed after her opponent. Serena's mouth let loose another storm of fire the instant Rachel was in view. Every tongue of flame that didn't strike Rachel ignited something beside or beyond her: the countertop, the wall, the carpet. Rachel staggered back under the assault, and had to take another step back as the gun came up and pounded her again.

Serena held down the trigger. She saw blood and smelled burnt flesh. Even angels had limits. Perhaps, Serena dared to consider, she might have a shot of getting out of here in one piece after all. She rushed forward, throwing everything she had into a brutal kick to Rachel's midsection. The angel tumbled back onto the floor, still coughing and still smoldering.

The last two rounds burst from the Saiga, its barrel within arm's reach of its target on the floor, and then Serena was out the door.

* * *

"Fuckin' cop. I know that guy. He gave me a ticket last week."

The police car rolled down Broadway Avenue in the opposite direction. Shannon looked at it in the mirror anyway, more out of reflex than rational thought. She had the shotgun seat, her clipboard in her hand so she could keep up with the larger-than-normal load of paperwork after their trip to the ER. It was silly to look in the mirror. How could she even see the guy's face? "What, how fast were you going?"

"Not the point," Ian grunted. He drove on, the bitter frown on his face unchanged since they left the hospital.

"Mm-hm," Shannon nodded. Despite the continual downer of a day, she managed a smirk at that.

"No, seriously," he countered. "I'm just sayin'. I told him I was an EMT and everything. Still wrote me up. Fucker."

"No respect, I guess," his partner shrugged. "God, what a day."

"Yeah, it's pretty shitty. You know Frank's bound to re-shuffle the schedule so we aren't working for the next two days at least, right? Just so he can say he doesn't have us on the street while there's a complaint pending?"

"It's a bullshit complaint, Ian," Shannon replied. "The nurses all said that guy's just in trouble with the hospital for his own fuck-ups and wants to shift blame for this somewhere else. Seattle Fire thought it wasn't a life-threatening call, otherwise they wouldn't have given him to us for transport in the first place, so we're covered there. And we did everything we were supposed to do and nothing we weren't supposed to. We did everything we could."

"That don't mean it won't turn into a thing."

She let out a long sigh. "Yeah."

"Sorry about your boyfriend."

"I'm over it." She paused. "Could've done it a couple weeks sooner, though. Wanted to go to a show on Halloween, but he got all hung up on going to some party and now I'll never get tickets."

"For what?"

"Local bands playing downtown. Throbbing Ennui. Rockerdammerung. Cool guys."

Ian smirked, but said nothing... until he couldn't hold it in. "Seriously?"

Shannon smiled back without looking at him. "Kiss my ass." Then she blinked and leaned forward for a better view. "Hey, is that black smoke up there?" Shannon asked, pointing off to an apartment building just a couple blocks ahead off of Broadway.

"What, that building there?"

Then they saw the windows burst as an explosion went off inside the corner apartment. Shannon grabbed for the radio. "Go, go!"

* * *

She heard sirens as soon as she made it to the rooftop. Smoke from the fire downstairs billowed up around the corner of the apartment building. The sun hadn't quite set yet. All in all, it made for more eyes looking her way than she would've liked, but Serena could escape from mortal vision fairly easily. Angels were another matter. That took real effort. Evasion was more practical.

The natural thing to do would have been to run out with all of the mortals fleeing the building to the streets below. She could blend in and hide that way. She could quickly enlist some altruistic fool in her escape. But that seemed likely to be what the angel would expect of her.

Instead, Serena decided to go up rather than down, and to make brief use of her wings rather than her feet. It was easy to forget that the succubae had wings; half the time they were concealed, anyway, and even then the demons rarely flew.

She took in the skyline, picked a direction and spread her wings.

The hand that grabbed her ankle exerted enough force to nearly break it. Serena yelped as she was flung to the floor. She watched Rachel float up through the roof, bringing one angry fist down onto Serena's stomach. Reflexively, the succubus jerked half-upright, sitting up only to take an elbow to the face.

Rachel released Serena's leg, jerked her to her feet by her wrist and held on tight as she unloaded punches and kicks on the succubus. In a matter of seconds, the fight had entirely turned; regardless of Rachel's injuries and flagging strength, she had the upper hand and wouldn't lose it now. The fact that the succubus held it together even this long spoke to her high rank in whatever demon lord's court she served.

By the time Rachel let go, Serena was punch-drunk and swaying on her feet. The angel wound up for an uppercut and let it fly, crying out, "Shoryuuuken!"

Then she opened her eyes and saw the unconscious succubus flying in an arc off the roof and down onto the street below.

"Aw, shit."

* * *

Amazingly, the street was fairly clear when Shannon and Ian came around the corner. Their siren wailed, their horn honked and their lights flashed, and for once everyone seemed to know what that meant and got the hell out of the way. Their ambulance was the first response vehicle to arrive.

Ian and Shannon looked quickly for someplace to park where they wouldn't block any fire trucks. Consequently, both of them only saw the woman in the trench coat fall from above and land in front of them out of the corner of their eye. No one could reasonably hold Ian responsible for hitting her with the ambulance, but he let out a guilty shriek just the same.

"Take care of the wagon!" Shannon said, jumping out of the ambulance without missing a beat. She hustled over to the fallen woman, making sure to look in every direction and assess the situation. Shannon couldn't really see how the victim had gotten there—nobody could jump from one of the rooftops all the way out to here in the middle of the street—but at least it didn't look like any other women were falling from the windows.

She looked about Shannon's age. Fit. Naked under her trenchcoat. Battered and bloodied, but not lethally so to outward appearances. She smelled of smoke. A big, ugly gun lay beside her. Shannon slipped her gloves on without even thinking about it as she assessed the situation. The victim was already on her back, and thus in a good position to receive care. "Can you hear me?" Shannon asked as she looked her over. She took up her wrist and felt for a pulse. "I'm a paramedic. I'm here to help you. Can you hear me?"

She didn't answer. Shannon felt sure there was a pulse there, but a weak one. Nothing indicated she was breathing, though; no chest movement, no sensation against Shannon's ear as leaned over the victim's mouth.

Naturally, she saw, Ian now had trouble with a crowd. He couldn't leave the wagon yet. Shannon drew a crowd, too. She continued her initial exam, but came to the same results. She reached for her CPR mask, but it had fallen out of her belt pouch when she pulled out her gloves. She didn't see it anywhere in reach.

"Hell with it," she muttered, and put her mouth over the fallen woman's to give her a breath. Instead, the thousand year-old succubus released her last breath into a mortal woman.

Shannon's eyes went wide. Her throat burned, but her body froze and she couldn't let go. Her limbs went weak. That burning sensation went all the way through her, chasing away her sudden, inexplicable chill.

Whatever happened next, Shannon wasn't sure; she passed out.

* * *

She remembered castle walls. She remembered torches, and hearth fires, and the laughter and conversation of a feast.

She remembered her dress. It was long and flowing and beautiful, fit for a noblewoman. A woman like herself.

She remembered the smell of beer and the sweat of men. She remembered the feeling of men's flesh, holding her and caressing her and stroking her inside. More than one man, all at once. She remembered lustful laughter, and needful grunts, and satisfaction and hunger for more. She remembered being taken. She remembered liking it.

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