Wake Me Up – Chapter 11

Ah, meeting your soulmate over potato salad. How romantic!

Gavin Hale is trying really hard to not be jealous but this bitch has been online for two fucking weeks.

He’s been online for four years. Alone. Unguarded. For four years! And this bitch just swoops in and gets what every single guide in existence wants before she even finishes her training!

Actually, that’s not strictly true. He’s been physically guarded by his sister and, while he loves her more than anyone else on the planet, she isn’t what he needs. He isn’t what she needs, either. They both know it.

He makes eye contact with his new sort-of cousin and they both roll their eyes as three moms and one dad descend on the new pairing.

Alex glances around and jerks his chin toward the trees.

Gavin checks the coast and finds it clear. All the adults are too busy trying to congratulate the new pair and move them into the privacy of the house without touching the pair or each other. It’s amusing in that socially awkward kind of way but, more importantly, it provides them a wonderful opportunity.

They make for the trees.

The chances of pursuit are slim. Most of the adults are too tired after marching all day to worry too much about them. At least, not in the relative safety of the preserve. Of course, that wouldn’t have stopped them from keeping Gavin and Alex from escaping if they had the option. For no other reason than to not have to collect them later.

The two of them actually make it all the way into the forest without being called back by an adult or a sentinel. It’s a relief.

The barbeque is just too damn depressing.

First of all, because being labeled one of ‘the kids’ is utter bullshit. Stiles is just a few months older than him. Stiles wasn’t forced to sit out of the march organized to honored his own parents. Stiles spent the last two weeks bossing really important people around from here to Hong Kong! Stiles was, in fact, running the damn thing.

Not that preparing the ground at the Mill wasn’t important because planting trees in winter? Really? They were lucky it didn’t snow!

But, it would have been nice to hear all the speeches in person and not have to YouTube them later.

Second of all, the barbeque is the worst! Every time someone started to enjoy themselves they would stop and look guilty and that’s not what mom wanted. Mom wanted a party. She wanted all of the people she loves in one place and for that place to be filled with music, laughter and food.

Gavin watches Alex walk through the woods. He doesn’t really know much about the guy, other than that his father, Chris, recently bonded with Gavin’s Uncle Peter; that his family moved to Beacon Hills almost exactly a year ago; and that the two of them had to do all of the work on their history project this last semester because the rest of their group was completely useless.

Oh, and that the guy has a mean sense of humor not all that different from Cora’s.

Alexander Argent is obviously comfortable with woods in general, even if he doesn’t know these woods specifically. Alex definitely doesn’t know the preserve well enough to know where they are going but his happy gasp when they can see the lake through the trees is rewarding.

Alex is the one that spots Peter sitting down on a fallen tree with Malia just before he and Gavin leave the trees.

Gavin leads them in a sharp right turn that takes them to the day camping areas that the Hale family has been renting out to the community for years. They are most popular in the summer when people use them for swimming and cook outs, but it’s nice to see the park full right now.

Who is running the park with his parents gone? Emma? Peter?

“The Center.”

Gavin blinks, he hadn’t meant to say that out loud.

Alex gives him a tight not-really grin that looks a little painful. “I heard Stiles, Peter and Dave talking about some stuff the other day. Most of the Hale businesses have been temporarily left in the care of the Center since the Center gets most of the profit from them anyway. It’s just until they can get interviews and stuff done.”

Gavin nods, that makes sense.

It’s a little chilly out but that hasn’t dampened the turnout at all. Each and every slot has at least one car in it. Every table is loaded down with food or coolers or people playing cards or dominoes. Half the grills have groups of people laughing with beer in hand. People are throwing around footballs and Frisbees. Dogs are all over the place, wagging around and chasing children.

This is what mom wanted. It’s perfect. Gavin’s heart eases in his chest.

Playing football near the playground are a bunch of guys Gavin recognizes from school. Mostly current seniors but there are some of last year’s graduates thrown in there as well. All of them are athletes, members of the football, basketball, lacrosse and soccer teams. He has no idea how they know who is on which team, they seem to be playing skins versus skins.

Alex talks Gavin into pulling up a swing and ogling the lot. They are pretty shameless about it but the guys are all hot and sweaty and nobody is more sexually flexible than an unbonded guide. Alex gets an honorary inclusion because, while he’s technically latent, he is from one of the planet’s two major guide clans, so his imminent guide-hood is practically a given.

“Oh, god.” Alex looks like he just got caught with his hand in the cookie jar. The one Alex just admitted to being sweet on has stopped the game and is making his way over to them.

Alex’s taste really isn’t all that bad. The guy is tall. Probably taller than Gavin, so that puts him well over 6 feet. His shoulders are a little narrow for his body but he has foofy black hair sort of like Scott McCall’s and big brown eyes hiding behind glasses.

“Hale!” The guy (Matt?) calls out to him. “Did you want to join us?” His eye contact is intense and almost intriguing except for the fact that a.) Matt is Alex’s and b.) the guy is using it to pointedly exclude Alex. He’s acting like Alex isn’t even there.

Gavin looks between Matt and Alex. Alex’s smile is wilting rapidly, his entire body folding in on itself. Matt’s smile just grows larger as the silence grows progressively longer and more awkward.

Gavin doesn’t know what’s going on here. Does Matt not realize who Alex is? Why would someone be such a dick to the male version of a Disney Princess, whose big sister is even more of a Disney Princess? Especially Disney royalty whose entire family sells automatic weapons?

Maybe he doesn’t know who Alex is? Gavin perks up. In that case, introductions are in order.

“Nah, I’m good hanging out with Alex. Have you met Alexander Argent?”

Matt’s grin disappears like someone threw a switch. Gavin feels the taller man go cold. Then, suddenly, Matt is burning again but this time it’s furious burning rather than the success burning of a moment ago.

Gavin and Alex stand together. They don’t even have to talk about it, they are going back to the house. But Matt’s friends have circled. They are all furious and Gavin has no idea why.

“Whatever you’re thinking, you don’t want to do this. You don’t want to attack a guide.”

“Oh, yes we do.” Mean laughter echoes around the circle. “We want to send a message.”

Matt shoves Alex but Alex just turns his body and the attack fails.

“Asshole.” Matt nods and two of the bigger guys grab Alex’s arms, holding him still. “You think we don’t know what you’re doing? What the Argents are doing?”

Matt starts punching Alex!

“What are you doing?!?” Gavin tries to stop Matt but someone just grabs him around the waist and throws him from their circle.

Not listening to him is what they are doing.

They can’t do this! They are going to hurt Alex! They are going to get themselves killed!

Gavin is screaming now, pulling desperately on the shoulder closest to him. The owner of said shoulder punches him in the face and screams at him, calls him a traitor. He can hear the guy make the distinctive ‘I’m trying to spit’ noise as a thick arm flies over Gavin and sends Shoulder flailing into the violent circle.

Shoulder gets back up and the thick arm, plus the twin that it’s connected to, steps in front of Gavin and growls. Loud.

The jackasses beating Alex stop and turn to Shoulder and the twin in time for Cora to come flying in. She doesn’t hesitate. She doesn’t even glance Gavin’s way. She just dives right into kicking the asses of at least a dozen full-sized jocks all by herself.

She is furious. Gavin has never felt her mind this angry before but her mind is not wild. She is completely focused. It burns Gavin a bit to touch her mind.

Gavin is too dazed to try and figure out what the fuck is going on. He just knows sentinels are here and he’s safe.

Alex will be safe soon.

The bad guys are not safe and they won’t be escaping, either. The Pride won’t let them.

The twin pulls Gavin away from the Circle of Pain as Ellison and Derek wade in to help Cora and defend Alex. At least one of the sentinels is armed (realistically, all of them probably are) because all of the attackers fall from the circle bleeding freely in several places and not just the standard orifices.

Gavin ends up jammed into a wooden hidey-hole part of the playground structure with an actively growling, practically feral sentinel standing guard in front of the hole’s only entrance.

Now that he’s not so focused on trying to help Alex, Gavin can feel a whole lot of angry flooding into the park from the direction of the house.

It’s such a relief! Gavin closes his eyes. He barely notices the sentinel’s shock or the hands on his shoulders as darkness takes him.

-*-*-*-*-

Deputy Jordan Parrish is exhausted and the only sentinel currently on duty.

Most of the sentinels on the force have either specifically requested the day off or demanded Parade duty only. Because, yeah, it’s a national day of mourning for their Alpha, their former Alpha, but Jordan feels that doing his duty to the best of his ability will do more to honor his former Alphas than anything else he could possibly come up with.

And, he has never been much for barbeques so he might as well let someone else enjoy the national mandate to get drunk and play with fire because what else do you do at a barbeque?

All that being said, he hadn’t actually thought anyone would cause trouble. Not today. Not with so much international focus on them. Not with the fucking President in town.

Boy, had he been wrong.

He’d been out on patrol when the call came through to dispatch and they’d sent him down to the lake.

What he found there stopped him cold.

Sentinels had taken over the playground equipment. They were guarding the swings and the jungle gym. They were patrolling the football clearing. He couldn’t get line of sight on any guides other than Sandburg and Stilinski but he got a sense of weight and bodies from the big crawl structure with a slide. They must all be stashed for safekeeping.

The Pride was exhibiting behaviors that Jordan hadn’t seen the likes of since Afghanistan. When the unit he had been in was ambushed, the three-pair Pride in his company had similarly taken possession of a bunch of caves to protect them.

Fourteen roughly college-age kids are strewn about, bleeding and broken on the sand. Most of them are unconscious but one or two were awake and moaning over their very not-straight limbs.

A blood-splashed, pissed off Jim Ellison is a sight to fucking behold. He looks like something out of an ancient legend or like a campfire horror story made real.

With an equally pissed off and messy Derek Hale beside him, Jordan can’t really blame the paramedics for not forcing their way into the sentinel circle. They have to be scared out of their minds. Anyone with half a brain would be.

Parrish exits his patrol vehicle and approaches the two alpha pairs. Both sentinels abandon their guides with firm instructions to stay put and met him in an open, neutral area.

The two Alphas are furious. They had specifically requested the park remain empty today. Someone had violated Stiles’s standing orders and because of that a bunch of bullies had beaten the shit out of two guides.

They need to clear out the area so that the sentinels can start to relax. Otherwise, no one on the sand is getting medical attention.

Calling more mundanes into this situation, especially armed ones, would only make things worse. It would cause the protective sentinels to ratchet up their security measures and the borderline feral ones to escalate. It might possibly cause a preemptive strike against the interlopers in order to keep their guides safe.

So, Parrish calls dispatch and gets every sentinel on staff sent in despite the holiday. He calls the sheriff personally, fairly confident that, while John Stilinski is definitely an armed mundane, his presence will calm Stiles and therefore Derek and the rest of the Pride. He lends Derek his phone so that his alpha can call the Center to get a Constabulary Assist Team and some guide-doctors sent their way.

The moment Stiles sees Sheriff Stilinski jump out of his cruiser, Stiles’s shoulders relax. Sentinel and guide shoulders all around the park similarly drop, backs straighten, heads go up. The tension that’s been running through every Pride member on site cuts just about in half immediately.

Even with all the help they can muster that the Pride can accept, it takes hours to get everyone’s contact information and clear the park.

Once Parrish can no longer hear the wheels on the last visitors car, he sets his fellow deputies to checking the fire pits just in case someone got stupid in the rush of getting the fuck out.

It’s a while after that before the Pride manages to untangle itself from the sandbox. In the center of the group are two young not-even-out-of-high-school-yet sentinels that are as feral as he has ever seen a sentinel go outside of a hail of bullets. Each one is wrapped around a guide, one of whom is bleeding and the other is unconscious.

The guide-doctor they get on site is both charming and beautiful. She speaks gently with a lovely foreign accent and keeps her tone light, her body posture unthreatening. She wakes the sleeping guide with a word, manages to treat each injured guide through a tangled web of sentinel limbs and isn’t the least bit intimidated by the growling.

She ascertains that one of the guides actually came online during the incident and promises to train him personally. She assures him and his sentinel that training is one of the services she provides her Pride in France and she’s quite good at it.

She doesn’t use a single machine, which is good because the smells and the noise of most medical machines are horrible for sentinels anyway.

Judicious use of pain medications, medical wrapping tape, a splint or two, a bunch of psychic nonsense that goes right over Parrish’s head and she declares them fit enough to go to the station. She sternly warns the Sheriff and each of his onsite deputies that they have to be gentle with her patients and that they better make sure all four of them make it to the hospital. Tonight. Or else.

After the guides are taken care of, the Pride manages to pull back enough to allow the Paramedics to treat the rest of the attackers. Three had already been dragged out of the sandbox by the CAT responders and rushed to the hospital by the EMTs when their heart rates had dropped dangerously low. The remaining eleven were all awake, in pain and sitting quietly waiting their turn.

They don’t remain quiet.

The perpetrators seem to gain confidence on the ride to the station. Or maybe it is just because they are no longer under the direct care of a bunch of pissed off sentinels. Of course, it could also be the pain medication they were provided turning off their collective common sense. Whatever the reason is, they all suddenly get chatty.

They want anyone and everyone to know they did it for the Pride! They were defending the Pride! Protecting the territory from those coveting Argents! Several of the attackers go so far enough as to insist they did a service for the community! And that they should get medals!

Medals, for violating the bonds between the Tribe and the Pride, on today of all days? Parrish rolls his eyes and shakes his head. They want medals for injuring guides. They’re delusional.

They won’t be his problem for long, though.

Stilinski-Hale has already banished the little fuckers from the Tribe and wants them out of town yesterday. The fourteen of them are never welcome in Beacon Hills ever again.

The local alphas aren’t the only ones that are furious. Sandburg-Ellison and Sheppard-Gibbs are shouting at people from here to Washington DC.

They’ve already had the incident qualified as a hate crime, a federal offense.

Now, in the wake of the post-Fire Fuckup of Epic Proportions, the Director of the FBI is running, jumping, climbing trees to get back on the Hale Clan’s good side. They have arranged for three armored transport trucks and armed them with FBI guards and drivers. They are just waiting for the Asshat Squad to be processed so that the FBI can whisk them away.

They’ve already flown two of the hospitalized perps to Sacramento for continued treatment.

They don’t think the third is going to make it.

-*-*-*-*-

What a fucking relief. She is more grateful for Isaac every day.

Allison couldn’t imagine sitting around the Hale family home without him. Being single and useless, while Scott plays security-alpha and organizes the pairs left behind to defend the Hale property, just in case. Being part of ‘the Package’ and watching while Scott stands on the porch looking tall and heroic, giving orders with Kira at his side.

Instead, Isaac, or rather her being with Isaac, makes her part of the defensive force. An active part of the team. Equal with Kira, even if nominally under her direction.

Isaac doesn’t demand any explanations of her, not about Scott and definitely not about Kate. He doesn’t press her with his expectations. He just gives her what she needs and accepts everything she can give him with equal grace.

Allison has no idea what she did to deserve him.

Isaac has even gotten them assigned to baby duty with Jackson and Malia, so she doesn’t have to deal directly with Scott or his new lady at all unless she wants to. Without asking, just because he knew she’d want it.

When the call comes for changes of clothes and toiletries to be taken for Aiden, Gavin, Alex and Cora, Allison, Isaac and Lydia volunteer.

Getting out of the house makes breathing easier. The drive to the station isn’t really long enough to be a decent reprieve, maybe Alex will need them to stick around or something?

God, she’s an asshole. She fights to swallow her shame as she enters the Sheriff station. Hoping her brother’s trauma is enough to get her out of an awkward social situation.

“Excuse me.”

A familiar-looking deputy glances up from his place at the front desk when Allison calls his attention. He looks tired. He feels tired. She’s a little surprised that he isn’t swaying in his seat.

“We’re here for the Park victims.” She holds up the bag of clothing and shower goodies she packed for Alex. Dad and Sheppard-Rabb are in the back somewhere, watching out for the Pride’s rights and had insisted on showers for the attacked. The constant smell of blood was no doubt keeping Aiden and Cora agitated.

“Allison Argent?” The badge-wearing sentinel asks. She nods. He stands “I just need you and your party to provide IDs and sign in.” He starts to push a clipboard their way and then he freezes.

Shock, fury, fear and hope roll over her mind from the sentinel behind her. From Isaac.

-*-*-*-*-

Camden. The deputy sitting, now standing, behind the desk is Camden Lahey, Isaac’s older brother.

He can’t be. Camden wasn’t a sentinel, not when Isaac knew him.

But, he smells –

No, Camden is dead. Their father beat Camden to death the same day he ‘accidentally’ killed their mother. The same day Kali and Jennifer had burst into the Lahey house and claimed responsibility for executing Justus Lahey for his crimes against his family and the Tribe… Didn’t he?

Blake-Asan had never told anyone that Isaac had carried out his own father’s sentence before they even entered the house. No matter how extensively they were questioned or who called them on the carpet for their story, they stood up for him.

Like only Camden had ever done for Isaac before.

Hadn’t he?

-*-*-*-*-

Camden. No, Jordan. Jordan Parrish hadn’t seen his little brother in eight fucking years. He had, in fact, never intended on seeing Isaac again.

How do you explain to someone that you couldn’t take the abuse anymore? That you didn’t have the guts to stand up to your own father? That you had run away, so horrified by the sight of your mother’s cooling corpse that you didn’t even stop to think about the little brother that adored you? That you ran, ran right into the arms of the Center and were never the least bit inclined to look back?

A tiny, red haired dynamo hits Ca- Jordan in the chest. “No,” she says like he’s a dog trying to have a go on the carpet. “We can’t have this right now. There are members of your Pride that are much too delicate for this to happen here.”

She’s right. She is absolutely right. He can smell the growing ire of both sentinels in the back. He can hear their guides’ frustration and confusion.

But he can’t help it.

No, yes, he can. He just needs to swallow it back. He can’t do this to them. He can’t let this hurt them.

-*-*-*-*-

The sentinel Lydia is pushing against goes limp.

Not completely limp. His weight doesn’t come crashing into her or anything but he’s definitely not so rigid and seems less distressed? He’s definitely pliable but he is not actively interacting anymore. So maybe he’s just a different kind of distressed? Could he have put himself into a fugue state?

Lydia frowns. This close to him, actually touching him, she should be getting all kinds of empathic output from him but she’s not. She puts a hand directly on the skin of his neck.

Distress. Heartbreak. Pain. Fear. Anger. Distress. Heartbreak.

Repetitive and intensifying emotions. He’s apparently away but currently non-responsive. So, he’s probably trapped in some sort of a self-containing emotional feedback loop, an emotion-induced fugue state.

The self-containment won’t last for long. They need to get him out of here.

She needs to get him out of here.

Her eyes track over the sentinel in her arms. She had come along to help emotionally support Cora and Aiden. This is not what she expected.

But her sentinel is gorgeous. Assuming his spirit guide is the bird thing she’s been looking for.

Sandburg-Ellison and Sheriff Stilinski come out of the door behind and to one side of the front desk.

“Get yourselves to a bonding suite,” is all Dr. Sandburg tells her before he and his sentinel start ushering Allison and Isaac towards the back with all of their baggage, both physical and figurative.

The door closes behind them and all she can feel is relief at Isaac’s absence. Whatever is going on, he was making it worse on her sentinel.

She still needs to get Deputy Parrish out of here. A police station is way too emotionally charged for a compromised, possibly delicate sentinel. She won’t be able to pull him out of this state until his instincts tell him he’s safe.

She can’t take him home. Her mom would definitely notice and lose her mind.

She can’t take him to his home. She doesn’t know where it is and it’s not like she can ask him.

They need somewhere neutral, which would be the Center. Dr. Sandburg’s right, not that that is surprising.

She can use her spare key to Allison’s car to get them out of here. Allison will understand.

A cleared throat has her looking up. Stiles’s dad is leaning against the door to the back with his arms crossed. His face looks pinched. His eyes are full of a pain that Lydia doesn’t actually understand. He pulls his keys off of his utility belt. He removes one of those cheap karabiner key chains from the rest of his ring and tosses it her way.

Most of them look like house keys, one is either a lockbox or mailbox key but the last is significantly larger than the others with the word “JEEP” stamped on it.

Stiles’s Jeep.

The sheriff is basically giving her permission to steal his son’s Jeep and use it in the kidnapping of his deputy. Relief floods her system.

He nods at her before turning and heading further back into his station.

She can do this. Maybe being surrounded by the smell of his alpha will help?

Well, he’s going to be surrounded by it, either way.

She pulls the deputy’s arm over her shoulder and gets them moving toward the parking lot.

Alpha-scent does, in fact, help.

By the time they make it to the Center, Deputy Parrish is blinking and actually looking around! He is not yet responding to aural stimulation but that would be a ridiculous expectation of an unbonded sentinel in this sort of situation.

Of course all their progress is almost undone when the officious little bastard that admits them at the Center tries to separate her from her sentinel for the traditional pre-bonding cleansings. And then he has the nerve to call for someone with a tranquilizing gun to shoot her sentinel when said sentinel growls at him!

Of course the sentinel with the tranq gun refuses to help the little weasel and instead helps Lydia push through her demands for a bonding room.

They both end up throwing Stiles’s and Sandburg’s names around until someone with a brain stem dismisses Weasel and leads them to one of the bonding rooms the Center keeps on stand-by.

The sentinel and his guide voluntarily post themselves on the door just in case Weasel gets a second wind.

Finally! She’s alone in a barely lit room with a sentinel she met two hours ago. So, what now?

If it were Jackson, she would strip him, put him to bed and play some Adele really softly until he came around. But this isn’t Jackson. This is someone so much more important to her. Someone that, ideally, will be much more important to her for a much longer time.

Well, he can’t get comfortable in a utility belt. The Kevlar she felt through his shirt can’t be all that comfortable, either.

She sets to, removing his boots, utility belt, uniform shirt and the Kevlar vest. On second thought she also removes his socks, regular belt and uniform pants.

She settles him under the covers, strips down to her own underwear and crawls onto the bed but over the covers. Then, she starts talking to him. She’s not even sure what she’s talking about but it doesn’t seem to matter.

She watches color return to his face. He manages to flex his fingers and toes. Soon, he’s answering questions, including his name, age, and date of birth. At one point, he pulls her under the covers and against his body.

She tries to ignore the fact that it’s a really, really nice body.

Finally, after she has no idea how much time has passed, he is actively engaged in their conversation. He’s asking questions and stating preferences.

You are not at all what I expected.”

There is something in the way he says that simple statement that gets her back up. Something sexual? “Oh my god. Don’t tell me that you’re gay? I don’t think I can handle a platonic bond.”

He gives her one of those re-evaluating-your-intelligence looks that her princess-mode freak outs have always garnered. Then, he blinks, tilts his head and seems to look right through her.

That look is enough to stop her (probably over) reaction.

She knew intellectually that she could have no masks with her sentinel but seeing it, experiencing it is shocking. And a relief.

“Not gay. Bisexual? Maybe. In a healthy relationship with my prostate? Definitely. I mean, my soulmark is a horse. A stallion, actually. So, I expected-”

“That your guide would be,” Lydia hesitated. “Hung like a horse?”

Her sentinel flushes and gives a single, abrupt nod.

She doesn’t even try to fight the naughty little smile she can feel spreading on her face. “I’ve always wanted to use a strap-on.”

He kisses her forehead and promptly changes the subject, plunging right back into their previous conversation. “How is my being a cop a problem? You were expecting to join the military. I’ve seen you talking to the recruiter.” There are levels of questions in there. She can feel them.

“Cora has always been a very good friend. Probably was my best friend before her brother came online. Better than Jackson. Better than even Allison at this point. I expected we would, you know, do the working bond thing and I would need to be able to go with her and do whatever she decided to do.” She could feel the weight of the deputy’s gaze. “Cora has always been really protective of me, so I figured-”

Parrish snorted. “That’s probably because the Hale Family code is ‘Protect the Guide’ and you hate being a guide.” Another not-really question.

“That’s stupid. I don’t hate being a guide. My issue has nothing to do with me.”

“What is it then?” he asks, raising a single sexy eyebrow.

“My dad came online when I was six. He divorced my mom and bonded with his sentinel before I was even seven. He left us. He hurt my mom. He broke her heart to pieces but she’s never hated him. Even now, she still loves him and he has no time for her. She can’t move on. She’s so alone.”

“You know he didn’t have a choice. His sentinel – ”

“I know. I know she needs him. More than you need me but he – they. I feel like they could do something. My mom has never seen them together. I feel like – ”

He pulls her close and starts running a soothing hand down her back. He knows. She knows he knows. She’s certain she can feel him in the back of her mind.

After a while he rolls so he’s flat on his back and pulls her along so that she’s draped across his chest. Normally, she’s not much for manhandling, probably due to her rather severe case of Small Person Syndrome, but when her sentinel does it it’s more than a little thrilling.

He brings his arms together in the air above them and unsnaps the button on his black leather “on duty” soul-cover.

She can’t help but grin when she sees her palomino Clydesdale dancing across his wrist.

She pulls off her own bright green soul-cover and shoots it across the room like a rubber band before showing him her soulmark. She has no idea what the bird actually would be considered. It’s a stone gray eagle of some sort with black markings.

She feels him relax into the bed.

“Do you know what it is?” She’s insanely curious. She’s never found anything like it in any book she’s ever read or on any forum or database on the internet. The Center’s resources were useless and had nothing but records of a dozen other guides with her mark. None of whom had ever bonded.

“I call it a phoenix.” She almost gives herself whiplash turning her head to look at him so quickly. “What else do you call a huge fucking bird that can shoot something a lot like white phosphorus out of its feathers? And the bird survives. Like it’s nothing. Do you know how horrible white phosphorus is?”

“Pretty arrogant, naming your spirit guide after a legend.”

“How do you know my spirit guide isn’t the source of the legend?”

“I don’t know.” She casts her eyes suggestively downward. “You haven’t shown me anything legendary, yet.”

He laughs.

So, sue her. She’s 18 and she knows what she wants.

He kisses her.

“You are ridiculous.” It sounds a lot like ‘I love you’ when he says it like that. “Come on, let’s shower and I’ll show you something legendary.”

 

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