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Where I Live (Part 8)

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It stung so bad I could barely move my arms and had an extreme headache, but I had to get back to the surface. Swimming brought fresh pain so intense black dots swam in front of my eyes.
When I came up above the water, I heard someone shouting my name. I looked up to see the young Bird of Prey circling around and around Ethan as he stared over the edge on his hands and knees.
I growled though he couldn’t hear it and yelled up at him, awkwardly swimming with one arm so I could shake a fist at him. “Come down here so I can shred those wings, you coward!”
“Awwww,” I heard him call as he flew in place, making me wish I’d let him fall, “Did the poor wittle kitty get wet? Is the kitty gonna hiss at me? I’m so scared.”
“That’s it! You’re dead!” I swam slowly up to shore and walked back up to where Ethan was still sitting on the ground, watching angrily as the other Bird of Prey circled out of reach.
He stood and walked to my side as I got closer, putting his jacket around my shoulders. “Kryn, are you all right?”
“I’ll be red for weeks.” I muttered quietly. “Now what are you doing here, Raven boy? How did you find us?”
“I’ve been following you.” He said, landing on the edge of the outcrop, a good distance away.
Ethan kept a hand on my shoulder to restrain me, holding it lightly so he wouldn’t hurt me. It hurt anyway and having him this close made me feel like biting down on something – namely him – but I didn’t say anything. I bit my lip instead.
“What are you doing with her?” The black clad kid directed his gaze at Ethan. “She’s a Jungle Cat. Even if she still had her hat you should be able to tell.”
I put a hand up to my head and found that my hat was indeed gone. Ethan didn’t seem to care. “Your point?” He asked.
“My point!? We needed you and you disappeared for months!” Now he was getting angry. “And now I find you with the enemy! Needless to say, I’m a just tad upset!”
“You . . . you know me?”
His angry expression changed to one of confusion. “Huh?”
Ethan took a couple steps forward, looking and sounding desperate. “You know me, don’t you? Who are you?”
His gaze shifted to me. “What have you done to him, Cat?” He spat the word. “What have you done!?” Eyes narrowing, he ran towards me, but Ethan caught his arm as he went by. The boy didn’t seem to fight against him and just stood there glaring at me.
“Calm down. She didn’t do anything to me. She actually helped me, if you can believe it.”
“Let go.”
“Then don’t. But if you try to hurt her I’ll throw you off the cliff.”
The smaller boy looked up at him in disbelief, jet black hair falling over his right eye. “Wait . . . what did you say?”
“I’ll throw you off the cliff?”
“No, before that.”
“She didn’t do anything?”
“After that!”
“She helped me.”
“She what?”
“Do you want me to spell it out?”
He turned slowly towards me, not struggling against Ethan’s grip, all traces of anger gone. “You what?”
“I found him passed out with a head injury in the parking structure near my house.” I pulled Ethan’s jacket tighter around me as a breeze blew by, making me shiver. “He couldn’t remember anything about anything so I brought him home with me. The rest is history.” That reminds me . . . When I found him I was still in the process of searching for Ty Lan. How am I gonna do that now?
“But . . . why? He . . . He could have . . .”
“What? He could have what? He didn’t remember that he was supposed to hate me and he didn’t remember where he lived or who he could go to. What else could I do?”
“You could have done what any other Cat would have done: left him there.”
“Well maybe I’m not just another Cat.”
“Can I interject?” Ethan asked.
“Maybe,” The boy said, cringing, “If you release the death grip you have on my arm!”
“Oh, sorry,” Ethan let him go, “I’m kinda tense right now.”
“It’s fine. Just . . . just explain to me what happened.”
“What’s the magic word?” I asked, holding back a shiver.
He glared at me, but with less force this time.
“It happened just like she said.” Ethan cut in. “She found me in a parking lot with no memory. She brought me home with her, cleaned my wound, gave me this.” He put a hand up to the bandage around his head. “Which, actually, I don’t need anymore. Hey, Kryn, could you cut this off?”
“I can’t.” I said quietly. I can’t get so close with these claws.
“What? Why not?”
Wait, I can’t tell him. “Nothing, it was nothing.” I walked up closer and put a hand on his head, pulling him closer and the bandage away at the same time. I unsheathed a single claw and cut through all five layers in one swipe, then stuffed the shreds in the jacket pocket and stepped back. That was . . . too close.
“Kryn? You all right? You look a little . . . shaken.”
“I just fell twenty feet into a lake and it’s cold out here.” I gave a little smile, conjuring up the excuse quickly. “How am I supposed to look?”
He paused, then smiled back. “Sorry . . . I’ve never seen you like this before.”
“Like what?”
His smile broadened. “Soggy. . . Or weak, actually.”
“Well, I am pretty soggy, I’ll admit. But otherwise I’m fine.” I tilted my chin up a little. “And I still have some birdie butt to kick for tackling me off a cliff.” I threw a glare at the still watching kid.
“Bring it on, kitty cat.” He glared right back.
“Calm down, both of you.” Ethan stood in between us, arms out like he was ready to stop a fight by force.
“Fine,” I said, “Now that we told you what happened, you tell us why you’re here.”
“Isn’t it –” The kid shook his head, “Okay, it’s not so obvious since he has amnesia, but I came here for him. I thought you’d kidnapped him or something.” He nearly did a double-take when he saw how I was looking at him. “Hey, think of it from my point of view. I saw you and him on your bike, headed full speed ahead. Logically, why would a Bird of Prey and a Jungle Cat be together unless they were trying to kill each other?”
I groaned and turned around, throwing my hands up in disgust as I paced. “I hate that! When did that start? When did the clans start going against each other? Why do we fight just because we’re different?”
“Kryn . . .” Ethan began but couldn’t find the words to say.
I let my hands drop to my sides with a sigh, pulling the jacket up as it slipped down my shoulders. “Forget it. I’ll deal with my personal issues later.” More issues than you know about. “Now . . . you,” I pointed at the kid. “What’s your name?”
He paused unsure whether to say it or not. “Kole.”
“Why exactly were you following Ethan? Him specifically, not just because you saw us together.”
“Ethan? Who’s Ethan . . . oh . . . you renamed yourself?”
“Why?” Ethan said, looking desperate again. “Do you know my real name?”
“Yes.”
He paused for a split second. “Well?”
“Well what?”
Ethan grabbed him by his shoulders. “What is it!?”
“All right, all right! Let me go!” Ethan took a few steps back. “It’s Hikaru. . . Hikaru Rea.”
“Hikaru.” He said slowly, as if testing it out. “Does . . . Does it mean anything?”
“It means flowing light. By itself, Hikaru means light. . . That’s part of the reason why I’m here but . . . I can’t explain this as well as my parents can. . . We should go to my house.”
“But I can’t . . .” I looked at myself. “Well, I need a place to go, but I can’t just waltz right into your house. Have you forgotten these?” I pointed to the top of my head.
“It’ll be all right once we explain. Get on your bike and follow me.” He unfurled his wings and walked to the edge of the cliff, then looked over his shoulder. “Oh yeah, one more thing. Don’t call me birdie boy anymore.”
With that, he jumped off the edge. We turned to get on my bike as he pulled up, soaring high into the sky. As we drove, I had Ethan – I could never think of him as Hikaru – keep looking up and telling me which way Kole was going. Apparently his eyesight was pretty good too. Learn new things every day.
The temptation was so strong that if I hadn’t been focusing on driving, I might actually have reached down and sliced into his arms, if only to feel the warm, flowing blood seep between my fingers. I shook my head quickly, pushing those thoughts back by thinking over and over that if I let go of the handle bars we would crash.
We drove for nearly half an hour and I could almost feel Ethan’s tension, through his voice and through the constricted muscles in his arms. When we finally stopped, we were in front of a house out in the hills. This place’s big enough to hold my entire family. I put the kick stand down and got off after Ethan. Kole landed on the roof and jumped to the ground, making me thankful that no one was around.
He landed lightly and went up to the door, pausing in front of it. “Just a tip for survival. Hikaru, hold her hand as you walk in.”
“Why?” He asked curiously.
“So she appears to be less of a threat. Yo, Cat girl, pull your hood up.”
I did so. “It’s Kryn, Bird boy.”
“Just do it.”





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