A/N: Somehow my dumbass saved over this chapter and I had to write it over again because I didn't make a back up so it has a lot of changes and is probably way shorter due to the fact it was a year ago and I can't remember all the little details. If someone by some crazy chance happens to have saved my original chapter I would LOVE you to send it to me so I can replace it b/c I know it was much more fleshed out than this. I will probably come back and try to add to it when I get the time, but for now, here's the quick edit. I apologize :(

Chapter Thirty-Four

He's Not Worth Crying Over

The rain was finally letting up. Shame Ethan wasn't.

"'Lifemates?' With a dragon? Absurd," the red head scoffed.

Nina held her arms out to balance herself and him while sliding down the side of a dune. Winds set the stars free from their cloudy prisons. "You didn't have a problem when I was betrothed to Vahn, a human."

"You interbreeding with him would have strengthened Wyndian/human relations. This does nothing but cause a chance for you two to create another monster. I've heard things about the sort of dragon he is, and you're prepared to possibly bring another one of them into this world? You should stay with your own kind."

He was jealous. That was the root of it. Ethan wanted what he couldn't have, and right now that fad was her. She drove one of her fangs into the side of her lip. Regardless, his words had struck a chord. Both her and Ryu assumed the act of lovemaking would've given the Kaiser an ample outlet to appear and voice his opinion on the matter, but due to Nina and Deis' recent evocations he'd laid dormant even during the most climactic moments. She wasn't expecting his next debut to be pretty.

She nearly tripped as the memories associated with those thoughts flashed back to her. Ethan laughed, well it was more a snobbish loud exhale of air through his nose. "Where do you get off caring about staying with your own kind anyhow? Your loins have a rampant reputation for having no filter," she spat.

"Well I don't get off everywhere if that's what you're implying. There's nothing wrong with having fun. Didn't you have fun with him last night, Nina? Sure sounded like you did. Well I like to have fun with lots of different people, but lifemates? This is you committing yourself to a mindless creature. It's wrong."

She wanted to get him to the infirmary as soon as possible. Her burning face scrunched into a scowl. Moonlight danced across the scales still protecting her skin. Ethan couldn't move his hands to direct any spells he happened to chant underneath his breath, but she didn't think anyone in the AG would allow themselves such a handicap. That bothersome gravity spell he cast earlier was worrying. Wind and water were her forte and now fire because of Ryu; earth on the other hand... Ryu's soul poured its distaste for her old friend into her words. "A mindless creature wouldn't have been able to make me feel the way I did last night, didn't you say you heard I was having fun?"

"Cute," he said, not amused.

"Yeah, I can be that way sometimes Ethan. Just like it looks like you can be a total prick." She dropped down to three legs. It was faster this way, and it forced his broken feet to drag against the ground.

"What...because I said you shouldn't mate with a godsdamn monster? Ow! Ow Nina please stand up!"

Reluctantly she complied. He groaned against her back. "I'm in love with Ryu, alright? It's sort of hard not to get to know a person when their soul is inside of you, and I happen to adore that person very much." She leaped from the top of a dune through the first glimmering magical barrier surrounding the outskirts of Coursair designed to ward out monsters. "Nothing else is any business of yours."

Soldiers gawked at her soaring past. She started towards the second barrier, taking another giant leap into star studded sky. "But I love you."

She stumbled upon landing. He laughed that noise at her again. "Looks like I still affect you, are you sure you're ready to commit yourself to him?"

"You're so jealous you're just spouting out anything to hurt me, Ethan," snapped Nina haughtily, glad she was facing away from him. "Never would I have thought you of all people to be so vindictive. Then again, I believed Chasta to be my friend. I guess I was a terrible judge of character before this world taught me better."

Chasta. Someone Ethan hadn't thought about in awhile. Last he'd heard she was in Synesta.

They breezed through the second barrier into the city. Ethan watched sand become boot filled concrete below his swinging mangled wrists. Nina took to the sky before the first city block to perch on the edge of a near building's rooftop and check for a clear route of clothing lines and other buildings to the hospital way on the other side. It was too dangerous to fly with all the fireworks still exploding about. "Jealous, huh?" Ethan said, now that they were out of the crowds and he could hear himself speak.

They were on the move again. "That's right. You don't really want me. You'd take one night getting out whatever you felt you needed to and dispose of me like you do all the other 'trash' that bores you, so stop this little act of yours like you're my one true love waiting to sweep me off my feet," she snarled. Now that she was in the city she could feel the invisible rope of energy connecting her and Ryu strengthening. She wanted nothing more than to get back to him.

"You can't tell me what I want. What if I am in love with you?"

Nina sighed. "If you are, you're in love with what the Kaiser's created, which is not really me. Ryu and I are working to return our souls to their rightful owners so that that person doesn't exist any longer. I didn't ask for all of this power and I don't want it, I want..." she stopped. It was going to be awfully lonely without Ryu's soul when they finally did accomplish this. She shook her head, now was not the time. "I'm...not going to be the same after this is over. Ryu accepts me for who I am no matter what, just like I do him. End of story. I'm done talking to you in fact I'm done even looking at y-!"

Her body seized when she felt him nuzzling into her wings. "He can feel this, can't he? I wonder how you'll explain it-" he purred with a little nip.

She threw him down on the gravel rooftop she was running on and stopped an onyx fist a hair's breadth from the tip of his nose. His hair whooshed wildly back from hunter green saucers. "Don't. You. Fucking. Touch. Me. Again," she snarled almost incomprehensibly. Amber flashed red and a puddle of shame seeped from underneath Ethan's trembling legs. Dragonfear had him in no shape to be embarrassed about it.

Nina burrowed her fingertips into his chest plate like Ryu had before and held him so the dripping bastard had no possible way to harass her. Not that it mattered now, she'd frightened everything out of him. His pale face , one she used to think was so godsdamn handsome lolled blankly to the side. Now that he was gone, everything came loose. Tears streamed freely down her cheeks. She allowed herself a good long moment to sob it all out.

He's not worth crying over.

"I-I know," she hiccuped, "...and that's what makes this so hard."

I despise this man who can make you this way so easily.

"As do I..." she murmured, wiping her sleeve across puffy eyes.

For as long as I draw breath, it will always be in your best interest.

"I know, Ryu," She whispered, gathering herself together and taking off down a clothesline.


Ryu fought to focus on Merybel sitting above him on the headboard of his hotel bed. She was saying something...he couldn't tell what it was, it was too damn fuzzy, just like his eyesight. He raised his arm to rub his eyes. Couldn't. Nina was too far away.

The bed smelled like her. Everything did, including him. He rolled over onto her pillow, breathed in every bit of the Wyndian he could. He'd felt the few hits she'd taken, and while he wasn't scared, he wasn't fully at ease either.

Rest assured I will try my hardest to come back to you, my love.

He'd treated her soul like trash for so long. No longer.

But you didn't. I am aware of what lies beneath the surface no matter how hard you try to bury it. It is the nature of our connection.

Merybel was shaking his shoulders. His eyes were rolling back. He felt heavy, as though he were an anvil in water. In the depths of his mind, Nina's soul pulled him deeper and deeper with her into blackness his faerie friend's voice could not reach. Would it really be so bad for him to stay in her arms?

"MASTER RYU!"

Ryu's limbs spasmed. His eyes shot open. Merybel was standing beside him on the bed screaming into his ear. "I hear you!" he cried sitting up.

Tear filled pink eyes widened along with a smile. "Master Ryu, you're awake! That means the dummy made it, right?!"

Ryu took note of everything. His arms and legs were okay, so was his torso, his head...she must've covered everything in scales. "I think so. I can move now and I don't feel like anything-" he stopped.

Merybel cocked her head at his darkening face. "Master, what's wrong?" His eyes flashed crimson and his aura slammed against her. "M-Master?!" She put up her arms to shield herself, but his rage still almost knocked her off the bed.

"H-he...he...godsdamnit!" Ryu took a deep breath, exhaled it out slowly. He was new to this whole lover thing, but he knew what was going on here. That bastard was exploiting their curse, trying to induce a rage against Nina probably. "No...the only rage I have is for you, you son of a-!"

Knock, knock, knock, knock!

"Sissy lemme in! Sissy I wanna see you! Efan said you were here!"

Knock, knock, knock, knock!

"Isabella, stop yelling!"

"But Sissy's in there, right?! Sissy open up!"

Knock, knock, knock, knock!

Ryu's rage immediately dispersed. 'Sissy?', Isabella? He looked to Merybel.

knock knock knock knock!

"Sissssssy!"


Kittah sat in the infirmary waiting room staring at her hands.

They didn't look any different. Sure they did when she looked like that, but was that really that strong? It had to be.

Red rimmed bright blues went from her innate silver weapons to a magazine on the table beside her featuring a blonde haired human girl in a pink tutu dress singing her heart out. Staff members walking about threw frightened glances her way as they whispered to each other below the threshold they assumed she could hear.

"Is that really Ironsides Bloodclaw lying in there?"

"All tha bums in tha street say it ain't took 'er but three ta fo' hits. She a monsta jus' like 'im."

"Who'da thought that guy'd end up havin' kids. They say he got a son too. They all prob'ly monstas."

"Worent be payin' a pretty price fo' all o' them."

"Must be nice ta be close personal friends wit tha Shade Queen, eh?"

She didn't know what was going to happen when her father awoke. She'd let so many people see what wasn't supposed to be. Now Worent would know where he was...and of she and Gray's existence. Would they have to live in that damn hotel their entire lives because of her?

Lesley had gone into the ground and Kittah'd lost it. There was no turning back once she'd heard the shaman's neck break. He'd put up no defense. Probably never intended to.

She didn't love Lesley, not like he apparently did her, but she'd be lying to herself if she didn't admit something was there. Ever since he'd saved her and she'd gotten a glimpse of him, she'd dreamed about him off and on. After awhile it was like that's all he was. Now he was real, right here proposing feelings to her she didn't understand how to take or reciprocate. Bare silver feet tapped against checkered flooring. Blue swiveled to a clock set a little too high on the wall.

"Kittah?"

The woren looked up and immediately stood. "Nina! Ah..." She looked over at the man Nina was using as a glove.

Nina's head cocked at her. "Your clothes...?"

"Me? Look at ya! An' 'im...?" Kittah pointed to Ethan.

"I..."Nina looked to him. "It's a long story. First I want to hear about you. Let me get him off my hands and we'll talk."


After admitting Ethan, the hospital wouldn't give Kittah or Nina any information about Lesley or Ironsides other than they were in no danger of dying tonight. Their cutting eyes and not so subtle irritated clicks of teeth told them they didn't want two women in torn clothes who obviously looked like trouble hanging around anymore, so the two decided to make their way back to the hotel together to meet Isabella.

"You took out your AG father in one hit...that's amazing, Kittah!" Nina commended, hopping over some broken fences and making her way through a tight squeeze between two buildings. If she could help it, she was going to keep the conversation off of Ethan. Even thinking about him now was making her sick to her stomach.

Kittah followed close behind. "It be Weretiger's strength not me. I ain't had no control ova it. Be tha scariest thang I eva did have happen."

Nina knew that feeling all too well. "Don't feel bad about it, someone was in trouble and you reacted. Maybe when your father wakes up he'll realize Lesley's on our side...but then again your father doesn't like you around me either, so our side isn't exactly good in his opinion, huh?"

They sprinted on pipes overhanging a group of kids and teenagers lounging on blankets laid out on a lower rooftop checking out the fireworks. They clapped and cheered them on as well as the red dragons streaking across the sky, tossing bottles of sodapop their way. Nina caught hers with a thanks and took off the cap with her teeth. "'e dinna have ta handle it like that," muttered the cat twisting the top off with her tail and taking a sip of her own. "I dun think I care too much 'bout 'is judgement any mo', but I ain't so sure 'bout Wolf-...Les..." She fell silent.

It wasn't long until they reached the hotel. Kittah stopped to catch her breath beside a brightly lit pool spanning longways across one of the lower roofs they landed on. Various inflatable animals floated lazily in its empty, quietly lapping waters. "So what happened with you and Lesley anyway?" asked Nina after it looked like her friend had composed herself.

"Dun ya wanna see ya sis?" asked the Woren quickly.

"I do, but,"

"Dun ya wanna figger out what ya gon do wit' 'er once ya an' Ryu leave?"

She really didn't want to talk about Lesley. Nina dropped it. Fair enough since she had her reserves as well. "Yeah, I guess I do need to figure that out."

"Honestly me an' Shyloh, we's got it." Nina looked to her. "That's wat Shy's been doin' out here ta keep busy, helpin' out tha kids livin' here. Ya think ya's tha only fugitive taken haven inna place like this? Some these kids will neva see tha outside o' Coursair cuz o' they's 'rents sins. Shy's tryin' ta give em' tha educations they need. There's some trainin' grounds here too. Ya sis'll be able ta mess wit magic stuffs if'n she want Theys teachas fo' anythin' ya want purty much, an ya kno' she'll be safe here since Caleb an' me gotta stay for as long as this Weretiga bidness be on people's minds-oof!" She stumbled back as Nina gripped her in a bear hug.

"You'd do that for me? You'd take care of my sister while I was gone?" she asked incredulously.

Kittah laughed. "O' course! Ain't that what friends is fo'? An' like I said I ain't got no where ta go, it'll be fun ta hang out wit' 'er! Hell mebbe when ya git back she be talkin' like me! Be a hoot, huh?"

Nina buried her head into her friend's neck, hugging her so hard, the cat had to beg her to let up. "I-I don't know how to thank you, Kittah..."

Silver paws patted the back of her head. "Jus' knowin' we's friendly be payment enuff."

Kittah's kind words turned Nina's waterworks on again. "I promise I'll talk to you about Ethan but I can't right now, I just can't, okay?" She sobbed into her fur.

"An' me 'bout Lesley to ya, but come on, now ya gotta go see ya sis." She turned and led the Wyndian through glass doors into the hotel.

From behind a bush, a copper blur streaked into the shadows.


"Wow Master that looks just like her! I didn't know you could draw!"

"Ah...neither did I...?"

"Wooooooow mister!"

Nina and Kittah walked into Nina's hotel room to see Ryu, Isabella and Merybel all huddled around something in the middle of the floor. Isabella was the first to look up. "SISSY!" she cried jumping up and barreling into her arms.

"Isabella I'm so glad to see you," Nina's wet cheek pressed hard against hers. "I've been so worried about you!"

"Ah, Sissy you no worry!" Isabella cried pulling away. "Efan save me from the bad people! Where he at?"

Nina's stomach ached. She caught Ryu making a face over where he was scribbling something on the object they were congregating around; Isabella's sketchpad. She didn't want to have to do this so soon, but she couldn't risk Ethan attempting to lure her away. Or anyone for that matter. She sat her sister on top of the dining room table. "Izzie we need to talk about something very important. This is real, serious, Big Girl stuff I need you to pay attention to, alright?" She was almost seven and Wyndians were smart. Nina would have to try to get through to her.

Isabella sat up straight. Her colorful pixie cut was adorable. Nina made sure to compliment it before getting to business. "Isabella I know Ethan saved you from all the bad people in Wyndia but you have to understand he is not a good person. If you see him anywhere without me, you must promise you'll never, ever go near him no matter what he says or what gifts or treats he tries to give you, alright?"

Izzie's nose crinkled in confusion. "But Sissy, Efan say he's your boyfriend! That you no love Loodia anymore, you love him!"

Now Ryu was really scowling. Nina shook her head quickly. "No, sweetie, no."

"Then," the little Wyndian leaned in close, whispering, "Is he your boyfriend? He's a scary dragon!"

Nina laughed both at her sister and at Ryu acting like he wasn't being talked about. "A scary dragon you're letting use your sketch pad."

"But Efan say dragons are dangerous!"

"Listen Izzie, Ethan is the one who is dangerous, you have to believe me," said Nina firmly. "I know he saved you but he did it so that he could use you to make Sissy very, very sad so you have to promise me right now if you ever see him you will run the other way without a word. Even if he tells you he has Sissy or Sissy wants you to because it will always be a lie!"

"Efan is...really bad?"

"Yes. Promise me, Izzie. Give me a real, Big Girl Adult promise."

Isabella's eyes were wide. She nodded and shook her sister's hand firmly. "I promise, Sissy."

Kittah walked up beside them, "'ey now dun be scarin' 'er too bad, she gon be worried too much 'bout wat she gon be wearin' ta school ratha' than a jerk like 'im, 'specially since I be with 'er."

Isabella's eyes got even bigger. "Sissy you never tell me you know a kitty person? You know a faerie, a dragon, and a kitty?!"

Nina laughed. "This 'kitty' is going to be taking you to classes everyday. Real classes like in the city and in storybooks with loads of children your age in them, how does that sound?" The little girl couldn't contain her giggles.

"I get to go to school?! With other kids?! With a kitty?! Really Sissy?"

"If'n ya want, I can take 'er ta meet Shy now, She jus' on tha next floor abova ya prob'ly eatin' dinna."

Nina looked to Ryu still scribbling then back to her sister. "Do you want to go with Kittah, Izzie and meet one of your teachers?"

"Is ya hungry? She might even have some o' 'er students still ova fo' ya ta meet."

"You hear that, Izzie? Maybe some new friends!"

"I wanna go with the kitty, Sissy!" She dropped down and took Kittah's paw.

"I ain't gon be long, I promise, an tha food be healthy," said the woren at the door.

"Thank you, Kittah," said Nina to her silver friend. "And thank Shyloh as well."

"I love you Sissy!"

Ryu was up when she turned around to investigate his actions. She didn't have to, he handed her the sketchpad. There was a rough, yet surprisingly detailed sketch of her standing at the end of a balcony on it. "Ryu, you can do something like this?" breathed the Wyndian in awe of her dragon.

"I have your sister to thank for teaching me these hands are good for something other than destroying." he used them to pull her tight against his slightly shaking form. She set the book on a table near them. "I was worried," he spoke softly, setting his chin on the top of her head. "but my faith never did waver." Nina gripped the back of his shirt, let lose onto the front of it. He smiled, letting her cry it all out. "Welcome back home, Nina."