With the incident of those monsters being on a steady decline, more people began to feel safe to stay outside when the sunset. At least for an hour or two. The chaos had been leaving everyone on edge in fear of their lives, and they were still unsure, but also eager to get back to their normal lives, free of the constant sense of danger. The positive news was a welcome change.
Sleepovers were a somewhat regular thing in the group, with them rotating who's house they went to, and this time, it was hers. Despite this being the first time in a while that all of them, or the five of them, she should say, were together, she kept an eye on the window as they sat in the living room. Given how often TJ liked to pop up at her window, she wouldn't put it past him to show up again tonight.
They settled into a horror movie marathon pretty fast. With plenty of popcorn, soda, and other junk food to go around, they say either on the couch or floor, with their eyes glued to the screen.
Their shaking nerves didn't do them any favors when they heard something loud outside. It sounded like something decided to send the trashcans outside flying. The movie on screen went ignored as they focused on the noise.
"I think one of us should go look," said Vince.
"That sounds like you're volunteering," Spinelli said.
"I'm not, but one of us has to go over and look, right?"
"We're all going over to look."
Together, they slowly walked to a window. The noise had gone away, so whatever it was that caused it was probably gone, too, right? When the curtains were pulled open, and the five of them were face to face with one of those monsters, with only a sheet of glass between them. They screamed, it roared, and raised its massive paw to swipe at the window and break it, but it didn't get that chance, as it was swiftly kicked away and to the ground. Landing in front of the window was the resident superhero himself, hood up and ready to defend them.
Their fear soon turned to apprehension and excitement as they each watch the 'hero' in question fighting off the monster. And he was doing a good job, until he was thrown onto the street. He handed hard, and they winced at the sound of impact, except Spinelli who was well-aware of how much damage he could take.
But he struggled to pick himself back up. The same monster that threw him approached, and was ready strike. But another fighter came just in time landing a hit and saving him from what looked to be a deadly blow. Still, he stayed low to the ground, hunching over, and struggling to stay up even that much.
He was able to pick himself up the last times Spinelli saw him after a fight, even after being impaled, but this was different. He couldn't stand fully, and the shaking of his legs threatened to make him fall to his knees. Whether or not to go out there and help him was a thought that didn't last longer than a second. She moved from the window and grabbed her jacket.
"Spinelli, are you crazy?! What do you think you're doing?"
"I'm helping out a friend, what does it look like?"
"Didn't you see those things? They're all over the place!"
"It's extremely dangerous out there!"
"Then stay here. I'm gonna go out there and help him," Spinelli said, stepping into her boots.
"C'mon, Spinelli, we're not gonna let you go out there by yourself."
""Then hurry up!"
The five of them rushed to get their jackets and shoes on before opening the front door. They could hear the fight going on around the block, but from where they were, couldn't see anything. But they did see their target slump into the nearby woods. The tree's were sparse enough to see through, but in the middle of the night, it looked thicker than it truly was. Quietly, they walked into the woods, looking for him. Just a few minutes in, they thought about how stupid it was for none of them to think to bring a flashlight.
They turned to where Mikey pointed, and saw a form slumping into a small cave. Together, they walked to the cave, keeping an eye out for anything that might pop out of nowhere.
"Where is he?"
Their answer was given in the form of a roar from deeper inside. It began to rain, and not wanted to be out in the middle of the woods, they huddled just on the inside of thee cave.
"Relax, I've got this," Spinelli said. With one hand on the wall of the cave, she made her way deeper inside, but it didn't take long for her to reach a dead end, a pile of rocks. Looking up, she saw the only source of light available, the dull glow of TJ's eyes from under his hood.
"You still alive own there, Spin?"
The sound of their voice caught his attention, and the smell of burning wood wafted through the cave as smoke blue through his nose with the occasional ember. He laid on top of the room, looking uncomfortable but unwilling to move from his spot.
"Hey, calm down. They're our friends, remember?" She asked. "They aren't gonna hurt us. I know you're out of it, but you have to recognize them, right? I'm fine, guys! Just stay there."
But they weren't listening, as she heard their footsteps approaching. This only made things worse, as she saw the light of the fire rise in his chest before blue-tinted flames slowly flowed out of the sides of his mouth. By the light of the flames, she saw his fangs were much more pronounced than the last time she saw him.
Crap. Clearly he either didn't want the others near him, or didn't recognize their voices at all. One way or another, he was willing to breath fire to keep them way.
"I told you guys to stay right there! I'm handling things!" She yelled back. They were still out of sight, good. Well, since TJ didn't look like he was going to move from his spot, maybe it was okay to go back to the others for a minute. "Stay here."
"What's going on, Spinelli?" asked Gus.
"Look, he just wants to be left alone, so can you guys stay at the front of the cave?" She asked, aggravated, which came off as angry on any other day. The chance of them finding out things was getting too close for comfort.
"Is he mad or something?"
"Sure, whatever. He's really ticked off, so don't make it worse."
Loud clicking, not unlike the same clicking she head weeks ago in this same cave, echoed against the wall, along with limping steps. She turned and saw the subject of the conversation step out of the shadows, leading against the cave wall, with an expression showing he was immense pain, but despite this, he was still limping. With every step, he breathed out a puff of blue flames.
The moment she took one step closer to help him, he wrapped his tail around her waist and moved her behind him, making her fall to the ground. The others, however, didn't know how to respond. How are you supposed to react when your friends steps out with horns, fangs, and a tail (and were those wings?!)
"Spinelli, what's going on. . .?"
From her position on the ground, Spinelli saw the light of the flames rise from inside him.
"Stop asking questions and duck!" There was less than a second between them hitting the ground and a strong, steady stream of fire being blown where they stood. Once it was over, TJ slid down the wall and landed just in front of Spinelli, panting, and very clearly exhausted.
"Spinelli, do you mind telling us what the heck is going on?"
". . .God, I don't even know where to begin."