Note from Shadow: Sorry it took me so long, but this is longer than the others. Enjoy, and please review.

Part Three: Belief

            When he woke up she was sitting in front of the T.V. watching the weather channel. He looked at the clock expecting it to be midmorning, but it wasn't. As a matter of fact, it was three thirty in the fucking morning.

            "Whaswrong?" he mumbled running a hand through his tangled hair. She jumped then settled down again.

            "What did you say?" she asked cocking her head to the side in a confused manner.

            "I said what's wrong," he replied walking over to sit next to her. Damn, the floor was cold. It wasn't overly soft either. This girl was nuts! He looked longingly at the bed he'd just vacated.

            "Nothing. I have bouts of insomnia. I've found that it's best to just let them work themselves out," she said seemingly absorbed in what the weather in Kodiak, Alaska was going to be like.

            "Ever tried sleeping pills?" he asked.

            "No."

            "Why not?"

            "I never wanted to."

            "Don't you need sleep?"

            "Not really. I can just borrow from something else before we leave."

            "You still do that?" he asked a little surprised after what he'd learned about her.

            "Not often," she said in a voice that warned him not to talk any more. He nodded and got back into bed. Julian mumbled something as he crawled in next to him but didn't wake up. Greg thought about the girl. She might be an asset. Then again, she might be a liability, and Greg wasn't one to tolerate liabilities for long.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

It wouldn't stop going through her head.

            She wasn't Christian, so technically the words shouldn't mean anything to her. Hell, she didn't even really believe in any god. They should just be words. It was just that… somehow they'd transformed into something mesmerizing and horrible at the same time. Maybe it was the fact that the girl saying the words was dying. They had to mean something to her if they were her very last words. She couldn't understand why she was being tortured with the girl's death.

            Her stomach rumbled reminding her that the real world existed. Now that she noticed it, she felt like she was starving. Staying awake most of the night would do that to you. She dug around in her jeans and found a wrinkled dollar bill. Jackpot! She'd seen a snack machine just down the hall. She could be there and back in less that five minutes. She crept over to the door and carefully opened it. It made a creaking sound that she was sure would wake them all up, but they continued to sleep. She stepped through the doorway and quietly closed it.

            She practically ran down to the snack machine. She flattened the one on the side of the machine and pushed it in impatiently. It spit it out the first time, and she cursed it before smoothing the dollar again more carefully this time and pushing it into the slot. She nearly hugged the machine when it accepted the money. She looked for a moment then chose to get some chips and a pack of gum. It wasn't a seven-course dinner, but it was the best she could do with a dollar. She started to open her chips when she felt the connection.

            "Shit," she hissed.

            I need some help here! She projected the thought to Julian who she considered the most likely to actually help her.

            "Zy!" Brice exclaimed embracing her. She pulled out of his arms as quickly as she could.

            "What the fuck are you doing here?" she asked him.

            "I knew I'd find you. Oh Zy, I thought I'd lost you again," he said looking close to tears. This was not what Brice was like. He was tougher than this.

            "You've never found me, Bri. There was nothing for you to lose," she said making sure her shields were strong.

            "Don't say that! You're my fucking sister for God's sake! I love you!"

            "You think you do," she said quietly.

            "Huh?" he asked confusedly.

Julian appeared looking disheveled and blasted him with energy from behind. He screamed in pain then blacked out. He wasn't as strong or perceptive as he'd always thought. Poor Brice was never really in touch with reality.

            "You okay?" Julian asked looking at her pale form.

            "Yeah," she said taking a deep breath to calm herself.

            Julian immediately called Nadia and Greg to tell them they needed to get out of there as soon as possible.

            They piled into the car. Nadia sat in the back with Zy so that she could sleep better. Zy finally fell asleep after about an hour. Her sleep was dreamless this time.

            She woke up only when the car stopped and was turned off.

            "Hmm?" she queried rubbing her eyes to clear them.

            "We're here!" Julian said smiling as if he was coming home after a long trip. That was actually the impression she got from his energy as well.

            "Where's here?" she asked sitting up straighter so that she could look around. They were in the country parked in the yard of the only house around. It was white with paint that was beginning to peel and a huge purple barn next to it. She'd never lived in the country and had assumed that all barns were red.

            "This house belongs to a lady named Eva. She lets a lot of us stay with her whenever we need a place. She's a pretty cool lady. She has visions and stuff like you wouldn't believe," Nadia said opening the door on her side.

            Try me, Zy thought silently.

            A short, slightly round lady ran out of the house and opened her arms to them.

            "My babies are back with a new little chicklet for me!" she said smiling in a slightly eccentric way.

            Zy looked at her suspiciously.

            "Eva, this is Zy, the girl I told you about the other day," Julian said as he hugged her.

            "Well hello, little missy. I hope these three haven't corrupted you too much yet."

            "There's nothing left to corrupt," she said in a bitter tone that made Eva shudder even though she wasn't empathic.

            "I doubt the truth of that, sweetie. Let's move this shindig inside, though. I just finished making some cookies. If the others haven't already eaten them…"

            "Say no more!" Julian said, "Onward to chocolate land!"

            "Spaz," Nadia muttered smiling.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

            Eva couldn't believe that the girl standing in her kitchen eating cookies was the same creature who had saved Jules, her adopted son, from those vile people. She seemed perfectly docile right now. She watched as the girl fidgeted with the raggedy necklace hanging around her neck while she ate a chocolate chip cookie. Her eyes quickly scanned the girl. She was cute in a waifish, unkempt way. Her hair was a nice enough color but appeared to be so stringy and tangled that it ran the risk of becoming like those "dreadful dreads" Kassie wore.

            "Nadia, darling, may I speak to you outside for a moment?" she asked steeling her resolve. She wanted to know more about the girl who had entered their extended family.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

            Zy watched the two of them leave the room suspiciously. She thought about listening in on their conversation but decided not to. Instead, she listened to Greg and Julian argue about what they wanted to do first. It seemed that the log permanently lodged up Greg's butt was only a big stick now that he was in his "home". Apparently, Greg wanted to go swimming in a nearby pond while Julian wanted to play a game with the other kids here.

            "Jules!" a girl shrieked as she ran into the kitchen and jumped in his arms. She had dreadlocks tied back loosely and bright gold eyes that would put a tiger to shame. Zy looked away from the warm scene. She told herself it was because it was too saccharine sweet for her, but in her heart she knew it was because she doubted she'd ever have anything that good. Not after all the stuff she'd seen.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

            "So what's up?" Nadia asked directly.

            "I wanted to ask you about the new girl, Zy," Eva said matching the girl's directness.

            "What did you want to know?" Nadia asked agreeably. She didn't mind gossiping every once in a while. The new girl was as interesting a subject as any other.

            "Well, what do you think of her?" Eva asked remembering the girl's bitter words when she first met her.

            "She seems okay," Nadia said thinking about her next words, "I kind of feel sorry for her, though. Those people she was with seem to have twisted her a lot. She's got a lot of power, too, which makes me scared for her. She seems really young to not be with her family."

            "I guess we'll just have to be her surrogate family then," Eva said decisively.

            "I knew you'd say that," Nadia said hugging the woman tightly.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

            The girl began talking about what had happened since he'd left, and Zy left the room. She felt like she'd been stretched to her limit and needed a little time to recharge. She sat on the floor in the hallway and began to meditate. She felt the tension slowly leave her body until she felt the faint buzz that came with channeling energy.

            "Ow! Sorry!" a child's voice said breaking the tranquility. Zy opened her eyes and found that a small girl was sprawled in her lap.

            "It's okay. I was just meditating," she said reassuringly.

             "Are you the new girl?" the child asked turning impossibly bright eyes on her.

            "Yeah," Zy said uncomfortably. She looked around for a minute waiting for the girl to either say something or move.

            "Hey! You're supposed to be huntin' for us!" a little boy said petulantly as he came down the hall. His scowl turned into curiosity when he saw the new girl, however. He'd heard rumors about her being superwoman and seeing the future.

            "Sorry, Cricket, but maybe the new girl wants to play. She looked bored. She was asleep in the hall!"

            "I was meditating," Zy tried to explain, but the children didn't seem to hear her. Sometimes old people just don't know what's good for them. She heard the thought and tried to keep from giggling.

            "Okay, but we gotta find the others so we can teach her," the boy said in a slightly peeved tone. He didn't want to share his discovery so soon.

            He ran outside and began yelling. Kids appeared from different place until there were seven including the girl and the boy.

            Zy followed the girl outside curiously. She'd never really lived around other kids when she was younger. She'd only had one older brother, and he pretty much stayed out of the way most of the time until recently.

            "Okay, it goes like this. One person's the hunta. The rest of us hide somewhere good.  About powers, you can use them but nothin' dangerous. Claire's still huntin' since she didn't finish her turn last time. She counts to twenty an' then tries to get us. You get it?"

            "So it's kind of like hide and seek?" Zy asked.

            "I dunno. I neva played that. This is called hunta and hunted," he said. Zy shivered at the name for no particular reason. It sounded so violent for a kid's game. She remembered playing tackle football and mentally shrugged. Okay, maybe all kid's games were a little violent. She nodded to the boy.

            "I think I get it," she said. She pulled her shields tighter around her in preparation. She could hide if she had to. If nothing else, this would be good training for her life.

            "GO!" Cricket yelled. Claire covered her eyes and began to count. Zy walked around looking for a spot until the girl hit thirteen. Then, she dove into a bush and curled up in a ball on her side as she concentrated on reinforcing her shields. After she was satisfied that she was mentally shielded she began vividly imagining that she wasn't there and that there was just bush and more bush covering her.

            I am air, mist, and steam, incorporeal, intangible, and nonexistent. My body is nothing. My thoughts are the thoughts of nature. My energy is the earth. The earth swallows me as its own. I am one with it and everything connected with it.

            Feeling was the first to leave, which was a good thing. The ground wasn't too comfortable. Everything else stayed, but she felt like she could both see and hear more than she should have. It was a lot like when she meditated only deeper. She felt herself begin to drift but couldn't seem to work up enough energy to call herself back.

            She seemed to float at first, over fields and ponds she'd never even seen before. Soon, however, she felt as if she was streaking through the sky like a flash of lightning that couldn't stop even if it wanted to. She didn't really want to, though. It was a feeling greater than anything she could have felt in her body.

            She suddenly stopped over a city, and she felt pain and sorrow wash over her as she went closer to the place she was being led. She was suddenly stopped by someone shaking her shoulder and yelling at her. She snapped back into her body with a sharp pain. Her eyes snapped open in shock before she met the eyes of the one shaking her.

            "What the fuck?" she queried looking around in the almost complete darkness.

            "What happened, Zy?" Julian asked staring into her startled eyes, "We tried and tried to find you. How did you hide so well? Even Eva couldn't find you! God, I was so worried."

            "How long?" she asked, her voice scratchy.

            "Hours," he said seriously. He looked her over and stood up. He offered her his hand, and she had to use it to pull herself up. It was painful to move, and she would have fallen if he hadn't put his arm around her waist to catch her. She finally regained feeling in her legs, and he led her in through the door where they were immediately met by worried faces.

             "Where have you been?" Greg asked angrily. She knew the tone and winced inwardly.

            "I was hiding. Apparently I fell asleep. I'm so sorry," she said putting on an act of being embarrassed and remorseful. She felt her eyes grow big and tears gather in them. Fuck that whole nobility and truth thing. She'd do anything she could to get herself out of that nasty situation unscathed.

            "Since when were young people taught to be such good liars?" Eva asked shaking her head. Zy looked at her, surprised. No one had ever really seen through one of her acts.

            "Did it have something to do with your powers?" Nadia asked curiously not seeming to miss a beat. Zy looked at her for a moment then looked away. The look she gave her was anything but kind.

            "Zy…" Julian began in a pleading tone.

            "You want me to tell you?" she asked in a hard voice. She looked at them suspiciously, "Well do you? Or is it just that you think I can help you with something?"

            "Zy, it's not like that," Nadia said sensing the suspicion and anger.

            "Really? Then why don't you explain to me why you're so damn curious when it's none of your business? I haven't pried into your lives!"

            No one said anything until they felt her reigning in the anger. She took many deep breaths before she was finally calm again.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

            "Why don't I take you to your room," Eva said taking the girl's arm in a motherly way. She understood outbursts better than the others. Hell, Geoffrey had screamed whenever anyone touched him when he first got here. She showed the girl into the guest room. The girl sat in a chair looking both uncomfortable and remorseful.

            "Hon, don't worry about what happened back there. We all have our own touchy subjects. You don't have to talk to any of us about your powers, but if you want to talk I'm always here. Believe me when I say that I've been around long enough so that almost nothing can shock me." She squeezed the girl's shoulder as she walked out.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

            Zy made sure the woman was gone before she let the sobs that had been building out. She sat there, shoulders shaking, and cried for herself. She let the self-pity wash over her in waves. She finally fell asleep about half a box of tissues later. She didn't feel any better than before.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

"Hail Mary, full of grace.

The Lord is with thee.

Blessed art thou amongst women,

and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary,

Mother of God,

pray for us sinners, now

and at the hour of our death.

Amen."

"Oh god, not again," her dream self said.

"Zy, oh God it hurts. Not physically, really. I guess I'm lucky there," the girl drew in a shuddering breath, "You know I haven't been to confession in years."

"You know I don't believe in that shit," Zy said more fiercely than she really had to.

"But I do," Lacey whispered, "Belief can be magical." Oh God, that sounded almost exactly like something she'd said to Lacey when they first met.

"H-hail Mary, full of grace.

The L-lord is with th-thee.

Blessed art thou amongst women,

and b-blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

H-holy Mary,

Mother of G-god,

pray for us s-sinners, now

and at the hour of our d-death…

Amen."

Lacey spoke the words in a desperate and choked voice. Zy knew what she was thinking. She'd done some pretty bad things in her life. She felt tears running down her face before the image was taken away.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*