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Rated: E · Fiction · Fantasy · #2152988
Part 5 of many. "I had a dove, and the sweet dove died" - Keats

the hotel and headed out to the small pool that the motel boasted.

I sat on the lounge chair by the pool with a blanket over me, and a jar of Nutella sitting on my lap. I was drained after our tour of Yellowstone. I had promised myself if Will didn't approach us, we wouldn't bother him as I could respect his decision to stay here as the large black wolf that he usually is. I did not expect him to show up at the diner we had lunch at. Though he wasn't in his usual form, his brilliant blue eyes stared right through me out of that old man's face, making my hands shake as I ate. Currently, my hands were on my lap splayed open projecting life size images in the fire. I knew the faces of my mother and father well so it was no trouble to play the scene in vivid detail. I shifted into a younger version of myself and said my lines as I heard them in my nightmares so many times.

"My darling you cannot eat so much honey like that, it isn't good for you, and it displeases your father." My mother crouched beside me as I scooped handfuls of honey out of a clay jar. She smoothed my white curls out of my face.

"No mother, it was because of me that we have the honey in the first place. Father should be happy, shouldn't he?" I inquired, not understanding at the time that my father was not, shall we say, an upstanding citizen. His ego was bruised because his small daughter could do more than he could.

"Of course darling, but men feel things differently sometimes. We must keep this from him, as it hurts his pride." My mother smiled at me as she took the small jar and put it away.

My father burst into the tent then, and threw my mother to the ground. I cowered in the corner of the tent as I did so many years ago.

"What do you mean to keep from me? Surely you don't think you would be able to keep secrets from me, you filthy pigs." My father kicked my mother to punctuate his thoughts. "just because the village thinks you are some type of goddess child, doesn't mean that you get to eat all of your spoils."

"There is plenty to go around father. If we run out, I can just get more." My voice shook as I defended myself and my mother, "You do not need to hurt mother."

"What did you say you little whore?" my father turned his furious eyes to me. I knew what was coming, but I kept up my bravado.

"Are you going to hit me too now father? Are you going to kick me as if I was a dog?" I lay down on the floor and stuck out my tongue like one of the mutts we kept around the camp for hunting. My father stood still for a moment, still trying to figure out if he wanted to hurt me or my mother more. I would do anything to take his attention away from mother so I goaded him further, changing my form to that of a small white dog with smooth fur and floppy ears. I barked at my father willing him to turn his attention to me. My father started to shake with anger, as he brought his foot back and struck my mother in the head. Her neck broke with a loud snap as I changed back to my five-year-old self.

"NOOOOOO" I screamed with my eyes blazing, "How could you do something like that?"

My head whipped around as smoke filled the tent. My hands had caught fire as I lost control of my power, filling the tent with smoke and burning tongues of fire. I cut off the scene as I couldn't bear to watch the rest. Most of the village had caught fire and about half of our tribe, including my father, had been killed in the process. I changed back to my original form and wiped the tears from my face. As I sat back down on the chair and wrapped the blanket around myself, I heard a low, rumbling growl from the bushes surrounding the pool.

"Ya ya, I know you don't like that one, do you?" I mumbled wetly. The growling continued, but it was a softer sound than before. "Good god William. Stop sulking in the trees. If you have something to say, you can just shake your furry ass over here and say it."

"Impatient as ever dove." A smooth voice took the place of the growling in the bushes. A tall olive-skinned man walked out of the bushes and pushed his long silky black curls out of his eyes and into their usual place. Will stalked over to me, years of being a wolf making his stride even and smooth. He wore new jeans and a simple black shirt that showed off the black marks that covered his skin.

"Hello William." I whispered as he made his way over to me. "It has been awhile hasn't it?"

"You've got a gift for understatement dove." He snorted, "It has been about five hundred years at the very least."

"Quit calling me 'dove' Will. I think we've both out grown it." I rolled my eyes at the endearment that he had used for centuries.

"Ah why would I quit now?" he replied sarcastically, "I am not a man of change you know."

I rolled my eyes, not entirely sure what to say now that he was here. Truthfully, I had not bargained on getting this far. I had come to Yellowstone five times in the past century, and Will had failed to make himself seen. He must have felt the same thing I did. Will filled the silence, cutting right to the chase.

"You must have come here for a reason Lizzy. You don't really show up anywhere for no reason and with another shifter no less."

I laughed noticing the way that he eyebrows scrunched together and his teeth were bared slightly as he noticed Luke's scent. "That other shifter's name is Luke. He is really young and kind of my responsibility."

Will's sour look turned to one of confusion. I never took responsibility for anyone or anything when we lived with Petram. "What do you mean by young Lizzy? Like one hundred or two hundred?"

I twisted my hands together in my lap. I knew the rule for shifters, that you never disrupt another shifters life, should they be new. You let them live a normal life, shifting so that they look older than they would normally. New shifters usually lived out their first life as normally as they could, but once they watched a couple of generations grow older and die without them, they moved on and lived the life most of us do: unattached, doing whatever we are in the mood for.

"No, he is twenty four. Not just the age he stopped changing naturally, but the actual years that he has been alive." I mumbled. I watched silently, muscles tensed as Will paced around the perimeter of the pool not saying a word. He ran his hands through his multiple times, looking as if he were about to speak, but nothing ended up coming out of his mouth.

"If it makes you feel any better, it was his choice to come with me. Actually, he followed me home and demanded that I train him to use his powers more effectively." I defended myself, willing him to speak.

"Lizzy, you know that we are supposed to leave the new ones alone! You know this and yet there he is. How long has he been with you?" Will growled the words as he continued to pace.

"Well first of all, I did not know he was a shifter when we met. I had been wild at the time and he sort of shocked me into revealing myself. Second, he could only stand me for three years. He left for a year and we've only started talking again three months ago." I growled right back at him. I shifted part way so that only my teeth elongated and silver claws curled from my fingers. I let the growl die in my throat as he stopped by my pool chair.

"I thought you were never going to go wild, dove." Will looked troubled as he stared straight at me for the first time that night, "You swore to me the night I left that being an animal wasn't the life for you."

"I was so young then William. I didn't know anything." I shrugged, "I got tired of humanity and everything that went with it."

"Oh dove, I- " Will started towards me but I cut him off not wanting to continue down this line of thought.

"Will I came here for a reason. Two weeks ago, I felt something similar to what I felt about five hundred years ago. Something is very wrong and I think that most of us know it." The words tumbled out of my mouth faster than most could follow, but Will knew me well enough to understand the never-ending stream. "The problem is, no one will act on this feeling or even knowledge its' existence if no one rounds them up. Last time this happened, we lost ten shifters. That should have been impossible, but it happened because they weren't prepared. I am not going to let the only family that I have left to be torn apart like that again."

Will's face became stony again. He remembered just as well as I did, the tragedies brought upon those of us that didn't join the pack. Chained in an underwater cave in restraints that prevented us from shifting and barred our escape and tortured for the secrets of the ages. Eventually our brethren did the only thing they could. They shifted into the one thing that we can't come back from. Corpses. They killed themselves so as not to release the information they had gained in the centuries of life and experience.

"What do you propose we do about it?" Will sounded resentful. He knew what I was going to suggest, but that certainly did not mean that he enjoyed the idea. I got up then, and walked over to him keeping my face stern.

"I think we need to round everybody up. I've kept tabs on everyone since we split up." I admitted. "The others died because they were by themselves and didn't know what was coming. That never needs to happen again."

"Really? If it is the same thing as last time, then we know how to deal with it." Will turned away from me, "don't you think you are overreacting a bit?"

I balled my fists, but kept them at my sides. "Will, the man that was behind the last incident is long dead and all of his research was burned to ashes. Whatever is happening right now is not the same."

Will didn't say a word in response, so I walked over to him slowly like you would a wild animal. I carefully put a hand on his shoulder and softened my voice. "William, you know something is wrong. You wouldn't have come to talk to me otherwise. The other shifters are in danger, even Nita."

Will jerked his shoulder away from me and turned to face me. "Who cares Lizzy? Nita abandoned us centuries ago to live in the citadel."

I backed away, taken aback by his rage. "My own sister chose to live in a place where men aren't allowed. I can't even visit her. You said it yourself, she hates me."

"Will no, I am very aware of what I said and that is certainly not it. Nita loves you. She just has a hard time with living this long, which is not dissimilar from your choice to live as a wolf all of the time." I pointed out.

"You'd rip someone to shreds if they came here and you weren't in the mood that day." I defended Nita. She was my best friend and I knew more than anybody the struggles she had seen.

I knew halfway through my statement that I had lost him. Will's face closed off and took on a blank look as he made his way back to the bushes and disappeared back into the night. I sighed and gathered my things off of the pool chair. I hadn't expected him to come with me, but I was disappointed all the same. I hadn't slept in a couple days and I was suddenly very tired. I let myself into the hotel room and flopped down on the unoccupied bed. Pulling the blankets over my head, I let myself slip into a deep sleep.

Luke jerked awake to the sound of rapid breathing, punctuated by short screams and muffled only by the thin hotel blankets. 'Lizzy must be having a nightmare', he thought to himself. She had horrible nightmares as often as she went to sleep, which explained why no one protested when she went for weeks without it. Luke had realized by now that it was better to wake her up before it got really bad. As he walked closer to the bed, Luke realized something was very wrong. A metallic scent hung in the air, and as Luke lifted the covers, a thick, sticky substance coated his fingers. Luke lifted his fingers to his nose, and a sickly sweet and coppery smell filled his nostrils as he realized it was blood on his fingers. Luke fumbled for the lights and almost vomited at the sight of the mangled girl next to him. Lizzy's body was covered in ragged, horizontal gashes that bled freely through her clothes and covered the bedding. Luke ran out of the room, covering his nose against the cloying smell.

'The hell is happening to her?' he asked himself, breathing heavily, once he was outside of the room. He had never seen this happen before and he had witnessed plenty of her nightmare fueled terror. A detached thought flitted through his head as he wondered how they were going to explain the blood to the cleaning staff, as there was way too much to claim natural functions. Luke paced outside the door, trying to figure out what to do, when a blood curdling scream came from inside the hotel room. Luke flung open the door and rushed inside, not bothering to close it again now that everyone had surely heard the screams coming from inside. Lizzy's teeth were bared, and locked in a grimace of pain, while tears cut wide tracks down her face. Luke gripped her shoulders and shook her, trying to get her conscious.

"You've got to wake up! You're making way too much noise and none of your cuts are healing." He said as loud as he dared, trying to salvage the situation as much as possible. Luke could feel his hands becoming slick as blood streamed out of her ragged wounds faster than he could have thought possible. Her wounds should have healed almost as soon as they were opened, but these still looked as if they had been opened only moments ago. Her breath was becoming ragged as each breath ripped painfully through her battered body. Luke continued vainly trying to wake her up until he was pushed unceremoniously to the side by a large black wolf. Luke gaped as the wolf turned into who could only assume was Will Hale.

"What are you doing here?" Luke asked angrily. He did not think that this was the best time for Lizzy's friend to make an appearance. Will tore his face away from the girl's prone body and Luke flinched away, the look of agony on the man's face taking him by surprise.

"How long has she been like this?" The wolf man asked.

"About thirty minutes, but that is only how long I've been awake so it could have been longer." Luke informed him quickly. "I've never seen this happen before."

"I have, though not this badly," Will admitted with a pained look on his face, "I believe I know how to wake her up."

Will got onto the bed and pinned her shaking limbs with his knees and lifted her head carefully in his hands. Using his hands to wipe the endless tears from her face, he spoke directly into her ear, making sure there was nothing to obstruct his words.

"Dove, you need to wake up. You are having a nightmare." He told her calmly, but his shaking voice told Luke that this was not as easy for him as he pretended. He talked steadily telling her what was happening around them and some things that would help her calm down. Eventually, the crying stopped and the screaming turned to only the occasional whimper. Slowly, Lizzy's eyes opened and Luke let out a sigh of relief. He saw Will scoop the small girl into his arms as she halfheartedly told him to put her down.

"I'm ok. I'm ok Will. You don't need to worry about me. I'm fine." She told him over and over again, like she was trying to assure herself more than she was trying to convince him.

"Like hell you are Dove. You must have lost enough blood to fill a bath tub." Will said with muffled words as he buried his head in her hair.

Luke felt like he was intruding on something intimate, so he left to check them out of the room. If he knew anything, they were going to have to get the heck out of dodge before anyone else came into the room.

"So, you were serious when you said that you think something is wrong." Will approached me. I had left the room shortly after I had woken up, trying to spare the boys the horror of watching my body heal. I sat quietly as the gashes turned to thick rigid scars, shrunk until they were only thin white lines, then finally disappeared completely. I still remembered the dream clearly, as it wasn't just a vision made up by my subconscious. It was a memory. During the renaissance, when the whole of the human race thought themselves a scientist, I had been experimented on and mercilessly tortured for days on end. They were fascinated by how quickly I healed, and put deep gashes on every limb over and over, until I passed out from blood loss. Though I healed quickly and did not die, I felt the pain as if I did perish every day. It was one of my most vivid memories that I had suppressed so much that it had not shown up in my nightmares until tonight.

Will stopped about five feet away, no doubt wary that I might spontaneously start gushing blood all over again. I wouldn't be surprised since I hadn't had time to change out of my torn and bloody clothes. His face was unreadable as I answered him in almost a whisper.

"Yes. Did you think that I would come here and try convince you to leave if I wasn't certain?" I asked him, "You made it pretty clear that you didn't want to see me again."

"Dove, we really don't need to talk on the subject any longer if you don't want to," he assured me quietly, "I believe you know and that is all that matters."

"You're right. It was a long time ago." I thought wistfully of the summers we had spent with Nita and Petram. We had both been much younger and less troubled, living away from mortals had granted us the freedom to forget that we were different and allowed us to let our guard down. We spent the day in whatever from caught our fancy, which changed almost daily, for who could have more fun in the sky, but the graceful and precise falcons, or who could be more sly and playful than foxes. Things were much different now, but that it the price of getting older. You experience more and become more aware of what happened in the world as times changed and humanity did with it.

"I've decided that you were right." My head snapped around to face Will, not believing the words coming out of his mouth, "We need to stick together whatever this is and I'll even help you to round up the others."

I brought my hands to my face, covering the huge grin that was beginning to fill my face. If I could convince Will then I could convince the others. The tension that had gripped me for the past couple of days leeched slowly out of my shoulders. I had the chance to save my family and I would not waste it.

I woke up in the hotel room with a large wolf curled around my feet. I tensed and lay completely still, turning my head slowly to see Luke lying on the other bed, dead asleep. I turned my attention back to the wolf and spent a solid five minutes trying to figure out what was happening, before my memories came back to me. Will looked to be asleep, but I knew by the way his shoulders drew together and the twitching of his tail that he was awake.

Sure that I wouldn't disturb him, I gently pushed the covers off and grabbed my laptop from the small desk in the corner of the room. I spent some time reading over my letters to the others; making small changes that I felt would better convince them of the gravity of the situation at hand. After the Will had told me he would be coming back with us, he had helped me gather the bloodied sheets and quilt to burn. It's not like housekeeping was going to be able to wash the stain out and there was extra bedding in the small closet. I had had a hard time convincing them that we should stay the rest of the night, but we were all tired so I eventually wore them down.

I stared at the screen trying to figure out my next move. I had brought up an airline site to book a flight, but I was still undecided on where. My natural instinct told me to go round up everyone personally, but the very small and most rational part of me said that a venture like that would not be welcome. I listened to rationality in the end though it made me uneasy. I booked three first class plane tickets back to New York and chuckled at the thought of Will in a plane. He had not been human since they were invented and his reaction was sure to be very entertaining.

As if summoned by my thoughts, Will stalked over to where I was sitting. His hulking form was able to look over the table at the laptop, interested in what I was looking at. His muzzle blew hot air onto my hands as they flew across the keyboard.

"Will, you're being distracting," I scolded him quietly. He ignored me and put his front paws on the table, making the cheap wood groan under his weight, "If you need something just tell me, but if not stop trying to break these poor people's table. I've already done enough damage here."

I sighed darkly and resolved to send a large sum of money here as soon as I got home. Will shifted painfully back to his original shape, still in the black shirt and jeans he had worn. I grimaced watching him. He had lost the grace in which he used to change.

"What are you doing?" he asked, squinting at the screen. I laughed softly and his brow furrowed even more.

"I am booking us a flight back to New York. It is the fastest way back." I explained, "I am trying to get the others to meet with me so I can warn them as well."

This was apparently the wrong thing to say. Some may ask how I came to this conclusion, and the answer is that Will broke the desk. The wood splintered as he brought his fist down on the brittle wood. There was a time where I might have been scared at this show of strength, but as it was I looked on calmly. I was fairly pissed that he seemed to have developed such a short fuse during his time alone. I looked over to where Luke lay sprawled and was baffled to find that the sound hadn't woken him up. Good to see that I could count on him to sleep through pretty much everything.

"Care to tell me the reason for that?" I gritted my teeth, "I thought you might be happy to know that I wasn't just going to leave the last four people of our race in the dark about a threat that is able to kill them."

"Ya that's great and all, but you could have told me earlier! You know I'm not of the best of terms with Nita and what if she stays? What if they all stay?" he growled at me. He bent over me in a classic maneuver to show that he had the upper hand. I started to feel my canines digging into my lips, and welcomed the sharp edges to accompany my next words.

"Well then you are just going to have to get over it or leave. It is selfish and small minded to resent someone after all these years especially when their life is in danger." I stood on my chair so I now had the upper hand. "I thought you learned your lesson about greed centuries ago, but apparently nothing gets through your thick head."

Will backed off now, though he was shaking now, trying to contain his anger. At the very least he seemed taken aback by the venom and ferocity that my words contained. I balled my fists and prepared to fight as he paced round the small space. I had seen him like this before, when some of the men in town harassed Nita and I just before he taught them a lesson. Those men didn't bother us again (In fact none of the men would come near us after that) and Will was insanely proud of himself for weeks afterwards.

"Hey, are you two ok?" We both snapped around as we heard Luke's bleary voice from across the room, "What happened to the table?"

"Nothing," Will and I snarled at the same time. "I can't be inside anymore. Call me when it's time to leave."

With that Will stormed out leaving me still boiling and Luke sitting on the side of the bed still utterly confused. I took some deep breaths and came slowly back to myself. After realizing I was still standing on top of the chair, I hopped down lightly and walked over to Luke.

"From how y'all acted last night I thought you were on better terms with him." He noted incredulously.

"Well there is a good reason we haven't seen each other in centuries." I grumbled and flopped down next to him. I thought about the encounter and smiled mischievously, "He looked pretty surprised when I went off on him though."

"Actually, I was wondering about that." Luke chuckled. How was this kid so easy going I thought to myself, "You were pretty scary, but not so much more than usual and he was pretty riled up too. Why was he the one stepping back?"

"Well I only learned how to defend myself after we parted ways." I admitted. I wasn't proud, but I'd had no idea how to keep myself safe after he left, but I learned the hard way that it was a useful skill to have.

"Ah. So, you didn't have to fend for yourself before that?" Luke was beginning to piece together a better picture of the dynamic Will and I used to have.

"That is correct. He is a hunter so I never thought I would need to worry about my safety." I told him. He tilted his head at the mention of hunters so I quickly explained, "Hunters are half angel, half human with unnaturally good reflexes. They are amazing warriors charged with the mandate of protecting the world from demons."

"We've killed our fair share of demons. Shouldn't the hunters have gotten those?" Luke asked, "I mean I was more than happy to wipe them out, but if that's someone else's job, then who are we to interfere?"

"Oh, those missions were mostly to annoy the Covent!" I laughed. I took great pleasure in taking care of demonic activity in New York as it made the base in the city feel useless. The catch for them was, they couldn't tell me not to and had to thank me as a brave civilian every time. It cracked me up. I explained this to Luke who, of course, did not see the humor that I did. We talked for a few more minutes before grudgingly agreeing that we must pack and get out of the room as the first wisps of sunlight streamed over the horizon. In only a couple of hours, the noise complaints would start, followed by inquiries from the manager and none of us wanted to do that. As we were finishing up, I realized something.

"Wait! Luke, before you zip that up, can you lend your sneakers to Will?" I had forgotten that his feet were bare and he most likely did not own a pair of shoes.

"Of course." Luke took out the shoes and closed the suitcase. We locked up the room and made our way out to where the rental car was parked. Will had told us to call him when we were ready. He didn't have a phone so I assumed he meant the literal definition of the word.

"Hey! Will! We are ready to leave!" I screamed into the trees that surrounded the motel. I felt like an idiot, but I kept it up, "Anytime would be lovely!"

I caught sight of a lean black shape moving across the edge of the parking lot before Luke did. Will stalked up to us with his ears twitching and changed into a man again. I snuck a glance at Luke as this happened. Luke had not seen himself change, so he had gotten used to the way I controlled the change. He was looking a bit green as he watched Will and I suppressed a smile.

"Are we going or not?" Will mumbled to himself. He looked kind of embarrassed which served him right. He really didn't have to lose his temper like that.

Wordlessly, I handed him Luke's shoes, opened the door to the back for him, and hopped into the passenger's seat. The boys followed me into the car and silently, we drove to the airport. About thirty minutes away from the airport, I reluctantly broke my silence and explained security, plane etiquette, and anything else he might need to know about how he was supposed to behave.

I had expected huffy silence at my efforts, but the more I explained, the more interested he became. Will was intrigued that humanity had built flying machines that we could use to soar across the country in comfort. In addition to his rapt attention I also received many questions.

"So, the planes didn't used to have this much security?" His brow was furrowed.

"They only instituted it after some bad men took control of the planes and ran them into buildings. Now they have metal detectors, x-rays (That is a machine that lets you see inside of a bag), and random pat downs." I told him, amused.

"How will patting someone down keep us safe?" he exclaimed, "You can see bulges in people's clothing just as well."

Luke and I exchanged smiles and told him that people had gotten very creative in where they have hidden things. Will listened with varying degrees of disgust and admiration. I was happy to see him loosening up, and definitely glad that it was looking unlikely that I would have to claim he was my support dog. During the car ride I had developed a very real fear that he would have to be muzzled.

We got through security without much trouble and made it to the gate slightly ahead of schedule. I wasn't high on sitting down anymore, so I offered to get us something to eat from one of the fast food places that surrounded the gate. I had a craving for Chinese food so I made my way into a panda express. I ordered kung pow chicken bowls for Luke and me, and grilled beef for Will. I knew that transitioning from raw meat to the processed crap that humans usually ate wrought havoc on the digestive system. I did not want to imagine how awful the plane ride would be for Will if his body reacted badly.

As I waited for my food, I noticed an extremely tall, redhaired man enter the restaurant. I thought most people were tall, but this guy had to be seven feet tall! His coppery hair that stuck out in every direction was accompanied by a scraggly beard. For all of his odd looks, he was dressed normally in khaki shorts and a Coca Cola t-shirt. I watched him order in a low, gravelly voice that grated on my every nerve. He glanced in my direction noticed my discomfort. He gave me a toothy smile that showed off pointed fangs. Oh, for god sake. I glowered back at him, scowling. This oversized leprechaun was actually a fire giant. A cousin to the frost giant, which honestly should have been more common in a cold, mountainous environment such as this. The thing about this variety was that fire giants were supposedly less prickly. Legends depicted them as wiser less violent of the two, yet I had met quite a few in my life time and each had tried to kill me.

The giant came over to my corner and regarded me disapprovingly, "You are very small to be one of fire."

For some reason, I pissed off fire giants by just existing which is probably why they all tried to kill me. It was like they could smell my power, and it never failed to draw them to me if I was near them. I didn't have time for this today and the airport certainly couldn't afford to fix the damage that could be caused if we went at it. Now that I thought about it, I pinned the 'one of fire' thing on another person the last time this happened, so I decided to try that.

"I'm not in the mood today buddy. Take your cosplay shit somewhere else." I crossed my arms and glanced over to the kitchen to see if my food was ready. It was not. The giant blinked slowly, but continued in a nicer tone. I think. It was hard to tell when someone sounded like they exclusively ate sandpaper.

"I'm sorry little one." He apologized, "You smell like ash and flames."

"Side effects of camping," I replied dryly. This elicited a loud barking laugh.

"No not your clothes!" he boomed, "The scent of your soul and mind is like the embers of my people."

"You say that you can smell my brain? That is ridiculous. Who or what did you say you are?" I asked. He didn't seem to want to kill me, so I wanted to make sure I knew his name before I left. Giants tended to live extremely long lives and their names tended to hold significance. Legends may tell me whether or not I needed to exterminate this guy.

"I am Menoetius little one." His large hand engulfed mine as he shook it firmly. It felt like solidified magma and probably would have melted a human. No hiding anything now.

"Lizzy Winter. So, you're a fire giant and you don't seem to want me dead, how is that?" I was taking this at face value. My lies had not fooled him for one second, yet he had not attacked.

"You were not burned." Menoetius pointed out. "Yet you are not a fire giant."

"Figured that out on your own did ya?" My voice dripped with sarcasm that the giant didn't seem to notice.

"No," the giant admitted. "There are rumors circulating about you Little Winter that even I have heard. Rumors of people who change their shape and live forever and their leader who controls the element of fire."

I opened and closed my mouth a couple of times trying to find words, any words. "Who?" I asked when I finally regained my ability to speak.

"A man in a bar. Not just one but different men in different bars. He says that you are dangerous and unstable beings, worse than demons and twice as clever. Says you've been around too long and nothing that can escape death should be on the earth." The giant told me sadly, "It isn't true of course and they don't have many followers, but the stories scare some of us."

"I promise that we don't hurt anyone. Well, not anyone who is innocent." I assured him earnestly.

"It is not I that thinks you are a threat. You don't seem capable of doing me any harm at least." He frowned, "I'll tell my friends not to believe a thing those awful men say."

With that Menoetius lumbered over to the counter to pick up both of our finished meals. I thanked him as he handed me my food and rushed back to the gate, scared that I wouldn't make our flight. When I got to the gate, there was still a couple of minutes left until boarding and Luke was on his phone. He was most likely texting Amber about our adventure and informing her that we were on the way home. Will had passed out in one of the chairs and was none too pleased to have me wake him up. He grumbled the whole time we were boarding and was outraged when I told him that he needed to stay awake a bit longer so I could tell them what had happened. I knelt in the aisle by their seats and began.

As I related the story, Luke look properly horrified while Will looked less than impressed. When I was done, Will threw his hands up in exasperation, "Ok so the onl

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