I have an EXTREMELY valid excuse for not posting this chapter in such a long time. Since I go to a Catholic School, they've been pushing us to study for our high school entrance exams. BUT I just took the test on Saturday so I am free of all that work! Ok I have finally found proof of my insanity. I had the WEIRDEST dream in the history of dreams. It had to do with peeping toms, me disappearing for hours and finding myself in my friend's basement at 7:00 pm, twice, a magical pie that seemed to cause this disappearance, and my friend's sister saying, "I know, I know." I'm surprised I haven't been put it in a straight jacket and shipped off to a white room where I yell at the walls to eat shoes because they have iron and potassium.

NOTE: There will be some Spanish words in this and following chapters. Translation will be at the bottom of the page. Any of you who do know Spanish and find that I have spelled something wrong, please correct me!

On with the story!

Liam parked just after Maia did, having caught up to her just seconds before.

"You know you could have waited for me right?"

"Of course!" Maia replied cheerily, extracting a water bottle from the backpack she had found in the car and taking a sip.

Liam glared at her then noticed the strange clouding in her eyes. It was hidden well beneath the surface, but he noticed the worry in her emerald eyes. "Hey, we'll find them, I know we will," Liam told her in an uncharacteristically soft voice. Even he didn't understand why he was being nice.

Maia gazed at him in confusion. "Look I hate this mission just as much as you do. I want to get it over with as soon as possible. Then Derrick will...." Maia stopped in the middle of her sentence.

"Then Derrick will what?" Liam asked curiously.

"None of your business," Maia muttered.

Liam took a bold step closer to her, invading her space. "What if I make it my business?" His voice was low and held many unvoiced threats.

Maia's eyes narrowed. She would not be intimidated by this fool. "Then you won't like the end result." Maia growled, stepping closer to Liam. Their faces were inches apart, their breath mingling and their eyes locked in silent combat, neither realizing what this situation would imply to spectators.

A young woman with curls pinned up into a clip ran backwards straight at the two agents, unaware of the impending collision. "Come on Joey! Throw it already!" A brown shape came at her through the sky. She caught the football but crashed into Liam at the same time.

"Aaaaah!" she yelled as she and Liam fell to the floor, the girl lying on top of the young man. The young woman's hair clip burst open and her mass of springy curls flowed around her face. They were a light brown color and more tightly coiled than Maia's.

Maia watched with amusement in her eyes as both Liam and the stranger tried to get up. Maia helped the girl up but left Liam on the concrete. The girl looked at Maia then at Liam then back to Maia again. Her eyebrows came up in confusion but she shrugged and offered him her hand. He grumbled and ignored her offer, pushing himself up and glaring icily at the source of his fall.

Maia's amusement rose a few levels when she watched as the girl became enthralled in Liam's grey orbs. Maia couldn't exactly blame the girl. The first time she met Liam, she had also became lost in his stormy gaze. But she knew better, and pitied the poor girl her sanity.

The girl shook herself out of her daze after a few seconds of staring. "Are you hurt is anything broken? Coño, I'm such a clutz!" She smiled apologetically at Liam but his scowl never faltered. Seeing the girl's disappointed expression Maia cut in.

"Don't mind him, he's just moody that way." The full power of Liam's glare turned to Maia.

Maia smiled when she saw the woman holding in a laugh.

"Are you new to the school? Coño, we haven't had a new student in ages."

Maia tried to place what ethnicity the girl was. There was a Latin accent laced throughout her voice and the word coño seemed familiar. The girl came closer to Maia and held out her hand, as if to shake it.

"Zoraida Cruz, junior here at Heath Highschool." Maia took her hand in her grasp and shook, noticing the bracelet on the girl's small wrist. It read CUBANITA. So the girl was Cuban. Maia suspected she had just found a lead. The gang they were investigating was said to be made up of Cubans.

"Yes we are new here. I'm Wo-" Maia stopped abruptly, realizing her mistake. "Maia." Her name felt strange upon her tongue, almost alien. "Maia *Steele*," She said, grimacing when stating *her* last name. "And the guy sulking over there is Liam." She refused to say Wolfe. "We just moved here."

"Oh! So I was right." Liam rolled his eyes but said nothing. When she noticed him again she brought herself up to ask. "Are you two.....together?"

Maia took a huge gulp of her water and started to choke. Liam looked about ready to murder. It was a look he seemed to favor. Or at least he favored it when around Maia.

"Ok.I was wrong. I just assumed because you two were so close when bumped into you that....." She trailed off.

After recovering from her coughing fit, Maia began to rub her temples. "No he's my brother." She forced the last bit out reluctantly.

"Adopted brother," Liam input automatically. He would be dammed if people thought he shared her blood.

"That explains why you don't look alike." Zoraida turned when a hand was put around her shoulders. "Oh hey Joey. Did you see what made me do? I bumped into these newbies here 'cause of you."

The young man, presumably called Joey chuckled. "Sorry about that. I don't know my own strength when I start throwing that ball." Despite his warm voice, Maia had to hold back a shiver that threatened to race up her spine. His deep brown eyes were even colder than Liam's but Maia suspected no one else could see that. His hair was spiked and a small goatee grew at his chin. He wore a black muscle Tee shirt with the words Cuban Pride boldly scrawled across the front.

"This is Joey Fuentes, my distant second cousin or something along those lines. I can't ever really keep track since we have a *big* family."

"Joe, these are the newbies, Liam and Maia Steele."

"Nice to meet you Maia." Maia flinched being called by her first name was still strange to her.

"Call me Wolf, everyone else does."

"Wolf, eh? And why would everyone call you Wolfe."

"Certain, similar qualities," Maia lied, leaving the reason as vague as possible.

"Well then, nice to meet you, Wolfe. Welcome to Miami's own, Heath High." He turned to Liam. "I don't doubt you've gotten bored of hanging around gossiping ladies. Want to come with me? I'll introduce you to a couple of my friends."

Maia nudged Liam with her elbow before he could say no, giving the smallest of nods. They needed information and fast, no matter how wary they were of making *friends*.

"Sure," Liam replied offhandedly. They walked away, Zoraida watching Liam like a hawk.

"Dreamy isn't he?" Maia said dryly.

"Exactly what I thought."

Maia rolled her eyes. "Don't get attached to him. He's dangerous and has the emotions of an icicle."

Zoraida laughed. "You two don't get along very well do you?"

"You could tell?" was Maia's sarcastic reply.

"Oh come on he can't be that bad."

'Oh yes he can."

Zoraida sighed wistfully. "I wonder what it's like living with him."

"Hell."

"So why'd you come her?" She bent down to pick up her clip, then threw it in the trash when she realized it had broken upon impact. Seeing the girl trying to tame her unruly hair, Maia took the scrunchi on her wrist and offered it to her.

"My mom had business here."

"What does she do?"

"All kinds of things. She handles record deals. Sometimes she choreographs music videos. She helps set up movies whenever she's asked." Maia shrugged. "I hardly see her." Maia had read the file while in the car and knew exactly how a child of such a busy women should act. A long time ago, Maia had been offered a career in acting. Instead she chose the secret service, an acting job in itself. This assignment would be her hardest though because she had to act her age

Zoraida's eyes were full of awe. "You mean she works with las estrellas? The stars like J.Lo?"

Maia shrugged. "I guess, yeah. I don't really ask. Although her clients sometimes come home, I never really interfere. They're only normal people deep down inside though."

Zoraida laughed hysterically. "Normal people! Now that's a new idea. You have the life. Stars every where you go, a cool mom, and a cute guy who lives in your *house*!"

"I wouldn't call him cute," Maia retorted but admitted to herself that she was lying. Liam *was* gorgeous, no matter how obnoxious he was. His midnight hair that fell into his beautiful eyes, orbs that were a stormy grey flecked with bursts of black; his rare but shining smile; his muscled chest and arms, so perfectly fitting in his black shirt, all of his assets were perfect. Every bit of him except his frigid and pompous personality.

Zoraida finally gave up. "Come on before the bell rings."

"Zoraida, I'm not joking. Don't get your hopes up with Liam."

The young Latina shrugged. "Whatever you say newbie."

"Thanks Zoraida."

"Get with the flow chica. Call me Z, everyone else does."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Hey Wolfe, move over a seat." Maia scooted over to allow the young man a seat. She was surrounded by an assortment of people seated at the lunch tables. Most were either juniors or seniors but there were a few younger members in their humungous congregation.

"Wolfe, are you an actor or what?" A guy with slightly long, dark brown hair and natural highlights streaking through it slid into the seat on her right. He had the same chocolate brown eyes that Zoraida had and his warm smile was identical to hers. Zoraida's brother Cameron Cruz was an all around good guy.

"Huh?" was her intelligent answer.

He only laughed. "You had the teachers in the palm of your hand. It was like you were casting some kind of brujeria."

Zoraida laughed at that. "Ooooh we've got a newbie bruja."

"I'm no witch and I have no idea what you mean. I didn't do anything to the teachers."

"Oh sir, mayhap you can call me Wolfe. It will do ye no harm. I am a shining angel from heaven above." Zoraida fluttered her eyelashes and clasp her hands together in prayer. Her voice was high and sweet. The whole table exploded into laughter at her mocking imitation of what Maia had been asking every teacher that day.

"You are nothing like me," Maia huffed.

"That's right! Her eyes are a *lot* prettier," One of Zoraida's many cousins called.

"And her eyelashes are longer."

"Her voice is prettier," Zoraida's sister commented. The table began to chuckle again as Maia rolled her eyes.

"Her smile isn't as fake." Liam muttered under his breath. Maia, who had been forced to sit beside him, was the only one to hear.

"I'm glad someone realizes that." Maia told him quietly.

Zoraida's brother handed her a tray that held an assortment of food. She glanced up and noticed everyone else was getting one too. He shrugged. "I always buy lunch, it's like my duty. No se porque "

Maia laughed and he smiled warmly at her again, watching her intently. "What they said is true you know, no one else's eyes are as pretty as yours. I'm glad we've finally gotten a girl in Miami worthy of its reputation of being full of beauties." Maia blushed. Already, Cameron had taken it upon himself to become like an older brother to her. This whole group was like one large family; no matter if they were Chinese, or African, Indian or Cuban, they were all like brothers and sisters. Maia noted that they were the perfect suspects. They matched all of the descriptions in the file to a tee. Already she had begun to feel warmly towards the people sitting around her and she regretted the rule she had always forced herself to abide by. Don't get attached.

"Hey newbie want to drive to Key West with us? It's like a tradition to go on the first weekend of school. One last fling you know?"

Maia instantly looked towards Liam and Zoraida took the hint.

"You too Liam. The more the better."

Liam shrugged and Maia nodded. After a few moments of conversation with the members around her table, Maia lapsed into a silence. She gave a few noncommittal responses, not really paying attention to what the topic was. Her eyes roamed the table, falling upon laughing freckled faced sophomores, to the softly chuckling senior. Her gaze was drawn to a few seats left of her and she noticed Zoraida's strange cousin Joey. He was watching her with intense dark brown eyes, the inner core burning with an emotion that made her want to gasp. He didn't talk much and the conversation he made seemed to be distant and detached. He hid something from the world and Maia was determined to find out what.

Beside her, Liam was acting similarly to her, listening and absorbing information that he stored to be discussed later. He also watched someone, but it wasn't Joey. His eyes were constantly going to the girl Joey had his arm draped around. She looked upon their group with contempt and her lips seemed to be formed into a permanent pout.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Maia took her key out of her book bag and inserted it into the lock. Liam was waiting behind her, sulking as usual. They hadn't spoken since they had left school and Maia supposed everyday was going to be like this. A very loud thump was heard inside the house and Maia's fingers fumbled the lock open, pushing the door inward and making it bang against the wall. David looked up from the assortment of metal parts and pieces strewn around him. The pieces were already making smudges on the tile floor and the expensive pieces of art around him were pushed onto the curving couches so that they wouldn't be in the way. She had expected a house filled with chandeliers and Victorian styled lamps, but what she saw was the essence of modern flair. There was a long carpet checker-styled leading from the doorway to the back of the long hall, where Maia could see a set of stylish stairs leading to the second floor. Right behind the stairs were long, tall windows showing the 'outdoor room' of the whole estate, which included a swimming pool, a Jacuzzi, and an outdoor greenery.

"What the Hell was that?" Maia exclaimed, "And what are you doing?'

Liam paid no heed to the troublesome young man or his exasperated partner, walking straight towards what he supposed to be the kitchen, in search of something t drink.

David glanced at her sheepishly. "I have to sort through these pieces to see what I'm going to use for the new jet." He swung his head around. "Liam, mate, get me a drink will you?" He didn't appear to be going anywhere for hours.

"If I can find the kitchen first," Liam's muffled voice came from one of the other rooms. Maia followed the voice and found him in what could only be called the living room, which meant that the room David was in was the anti-room. It was vast, almost as big as Maia's closet back home. The walls were all either white or black, alternating. The contrast caused shadows to lurk in corners and the strange paintings on the wall to seem haunting and eerie. A large black wooden table was in the center of the room and the white leather couches were hardly inviting.

"This room is comfy," Maia muttered.

"You could tell too?" Maia jumped, as Liam seemed to meld out of the shadows. Her senses had been honed to alert her of anyone near, but Liam seemed to be one with the dark corners of the silent room.

"I thought you were a spy, Wolfe? Spies are never caught off their guard.

Maia scowled. "Did you find the kitchen?" she grumbled. She did *not* like the fact that this arrogant jerk had snuck up on her.

"Nope, I was just investigating the room when you walked in. It seems some of our stuff has been shipped here." The walls were covered with pictures of the two of them. Liam's were only as far as about eighth grade but there were some decidedly embarrassing pictures of Maia when she was four years old.

"I swear God has something against me." Maia went around the room, taking down any pictures that would discriminate her in any way, hearing Liam chuckle behind her the whole time.

Maia turned on him when her task was done. "I don't see anything funny. Except maybe that picture of you in tights."

Liam blanched when he noticed the large photo of him in his costume while playing Romeo in a school play.

"It doesn't do you justice." Maia commented in an amused voice. As she walked into the room that branched off to the right, Maia felt Liam's eyes boring holes into her. The young woman pushed the door to the next room open and blinked. The light in this room was dim. The room itself was larger than the living room. Rows upon rows of blue velvet seats were all aligned in fronts of a stage, the spotlight on the center where a piano was positioned. Maia let out a small breath she didn't know she had been holding.

Her hands itched to dance across the keys on the piano, her throat tingled with the urge to sing, but the girl would rather drown in her own blood than let anyone hear her sing, especially the idiots in this house. Maia knew from experience that when she began to sing, she lost herself in the music and her bottled up emotions surfaced. She decided to go back the way she came before Liam discovered the room.

The door on the left lead to a set of stairs winding downward. The door had a pad to punch in numbers. The door was slightly ajar, leaving room for her to slip in. She recognized it as a duplicate of the practice room she had at home, complete with the mats on the floors and several punching bags hanging in the center. The room was surprisingly as badly lit as the other. In one corner there was a long table laden with row upon row of weapons. There were darts, throwing stars, daggers, long knives that looked like they belonged in a kitchen, very sharp metal sticks that glistened with a black liquid. The list went on and on. Hung on the walls were swords of every kind: kodachis, katanas, fencing swords, even the heavy and antique broadswords. Glass boxes were stacked upon each other, each containing one type of rifle or explosive device, from the silent gun to the bazooka, time bombs to grenades. All the boxes had a very high tech looking locks.

"Who.?"

"It's for me." Maia jumped when she heard Liam's voice. The young agent suppressed a shudder when she saw him almost literally melt out of the shadows in the corner.

"What?"

"I told you. Derrick probably set this up for me. I didn't acquire my skill without practice."

Maia laughed. "So, you're one of those types are you?" Liam noticed that her accent had come back.

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"You depend on weapons. You're weak without your precious toys. You probably don't even know how to fight hand to hand."

"Care to test that theory?" Liam asked in a deceptively cool voice.

"No, actually." She turned and made her way to the door. A slicing sound made her instinctively step aside. The small blade rushed by her, nicking the skin on her arm and embedding itself in the opposite wall

Maia slowly turned to see Liam smiling smugly at her. He didn't notice that in the dim light her eyes were blazing with fury.

"Were you trying to prove a point?' The redhead asked, every word said with deliberate care.

Liam shrugged, his smirk firmly in place. Maia dropped to the ground and swung her leg out in a swift kick. Liam crashed to the ground with a loud thud.

"Well then you've failed miserably."

When Liam got to his feet, he was blushing crimson from humiliation. "Was that supposed to be funny?" he growled out.

"Perhaps. I was just trying to teach you a lesson. I really with don't like playing games with little boys today so I'll be leaving."

"Little boy?" Maia had already turned her back on him. Another dagger slid out of his sleeve to land in his waiting palm. He flicked his wrist and the weapon shot straight for the heel of her shoe. She jumped just a fraction of an inch off the ground, the blade stuck in the table leg beside her.

"Are you trying to get hurt?" Maia demanded. "Homicidal tendencies aren't healthy.

"I was just trying to teach you a lesson," Liam replied, mimicking her earlier reply.

"I don't need you to *teach* me anything." Liam's reply was cut short when Maia came at him with lightning speed. She pinned his hands to the wall, her grip like iron. "You're the one who needs the lesson."

He coolly laughed in her face, despite his current position. "You'll get no where with that barbaric way of fighting."

"Says the boy caught in his own trap," Maia retorted. "Hand to hand combat is not barbaric. It's a perfected art which is probably too advanced for your puny mind." Maia jumped backward just before Liam stuck her in the side with a very sharp stick.

"What happens when you're out of range for one of your attacks? How are you going to defend yourself then." To accentuate his point, he hurled a throwing star at her. She did a back flip and kicked the sharp metal with the point of her foot. Liam had to move aside quickly so that he didn't get hit with his own weapon.

"What happens when you're cornered with no way out and no party tricks up your sleeves?" Maia asked in a quiet tone. She knocked him down onto his back and sat on his chest, her knee digging into his ribs. Her eyes were filled with a passion that did not come from their heated banter. He reached for the fallen throwing star but Maia's other knee stopped him. "What will you do when you're backed up into a wall with no fancy knives. The only weapon you have is your own body. You're trapped. You're weak. And you've no escape. What then?"

Liam was staring into the most expressive green eyes he had ever seen and he was beginning to drown in their emerald depths. The emotion swirling in those blazing orbs of green fire was not alien to Liam. It was hatred. But it wasn't hatred of him It was hatred of the whole world in general. This spunky and sharp girl wasn't everything she seemed.

The spell was broken when she got to her feet and held her hand out to help him up. He took it grudgingly and pulled himself up. "I've learned that little trinkets can't save you when you're in that kind of situation. You can only rely on your own wits. If you can't, then you're dead." Maia picked up her fallen purse and opened the door.

"What is it that has you so scared? You act like you've been in a situation like that. What causes you to feel that you're only resort is to go down kicking and scratching?'

"I fear nothing," Maia snapped. The door slammed after her departure.

FINALLY I got that chapter done! It took me soooo long to write. Since only one person voted on David's orientation I suppose I'll just make him gay. It'll spice up the story and it makes him a little easier to write.

~~~~Lex le Fae~~~