Steel Against Skin

Disclaimer: I own all of the characters in this, so no stealing. I will send the dragons after you will pitchforks and their stinky fire breath.

Chapter 1

Whoever said angels were beautiful were right, in a sense. At least, depending on your tastes. However, everyone thought the angel outside the window was the most beautiful thing that they had ever seen.
Yes, there was a window outside the window of my first period Algebra class, standing perched atop the flagpole. Strange to see such a lovely creature clashing with the sweet red, white, and blue, but the more you looked, the more the two elements seemed to compliment each other.
" Shana, can't you see her?" Jessica, one of my best friends since elementary school, poked me in the side with her pencil.
" Of course I can." I answered crossly, jerking away from her.
" Then why aren't you looking at her?" Jessica was one of the people that asked the most obvious of questions, most of the answers to which she could find right in front of her face.
" Because I am trying to answer the last question before getting distracted by her." My voice wasn't cold, but Jessica frowned like it was. She often acted like that when her questions were answered.
" Oh, okay." Jessica got up from the little desks we were put in and joined the rest of the class along the windows.
" How do you think she got there? Why is she here? Do you think she's gonna do anything but stand there?" Random voices called out from the sidelines, and I stood up to put my paper on Mr. Kyran's desk.
In answer to Jessica's question, the angel turned to us and smiled. Everyone sucked a deep breath in, and some forgot to release it. I supposed that it was from their reaction to the angels glamour, but I was impervious to it. Angels are a type of magical elemental of sorts, or so they have always classified themselves as. I'm half elemental, water, to be precise, and so I wasn't fazed by her magics at all.
Sure, she was pretty, what with that oval shaped porcelain doll face and the great glowing blue eyes, the lips as red as roses in the summer, and the great fall of ice blond hair down her back that swayed in the breeze at her feet, but I don't think it was any of that that really mattered. More like it was the huge white feathery wings sticking out of her back that blew them away. Or the fact that she was perfectly naked, showing that she was indeed a natural blond. The boys saw naked girls all the time, what with those magazines and sneaking looks into the girls locker rooms, but it was the lack of caring about her nakedness that astounded them all. And it probably didn't hurt that she was built like the goddess of all movie stars, the Miss Marilyn Monroe herself. Curvy in all the right places.
Depending on how you felt about your body, she either made you feel too fat, too thin, or absolutely perfect. Me, I didn't feel much of anything about my body. I could fit into my pants in the morning, it never rebelled against me too much except when I threw too many bowls of Rocky Road ice cream at it, and it was in fairly good athletic shape too. I would have to run for a mile straight before I got winded.
I could see that all the girls were fingering their hair and I knew that they all felt it was too short, even Melinda, who had been growing hers out since birth and the whole length of it went to her knees now when it wasn't braided. I personally didn't care, in fact, my hair probably could have done with a trim about this time of year. It's a dark kind of chocolate brown that goes with my eyes, being a few shades lighter than my hair. That was my one special quality, that they turned amber yellow in the light. That and my magic.
Everyone in my school knows about magic now. We had an exchange student from Ireland last year that didn't know that American students rather tried and hide what magic they had, and it was surprising at how many of the students and faculty alike came out of the trans-dimensional closet.
I was one of the only ones that hadn't, however. For some reason, the students with magic tended to be treated with less respect, less friendly oomph. Unless you were Miranda Stevens, the most popular girl in the whole junior class, who just managed to also be one of the more powerful of the witches around the neighborhood. It didn't matter if you had magic though, because she still would pick on you. Only instead of doing it to your face, you would open your locker and a gnome would jump on your face and proceed to kick it in. And that was only if she didn't like you a little.
I ignored the whole affair with magic at school, but at home it was another story. I have a dose of magic on both sides. My mothers the water elemental, and my fathers the mage of the family. I get taught both kinds of magic, and if I even bothered to come out and tell anyone at school, I would be the most powerful mage of Wickson High. Not that I'm boasting or anything.
The bell rang, and everyone but myself was lax to leave the classroom, except for those that realized that their next class put them in a good, or better view of the angel. They zoomed their asses out of there. I calmly got my things together and went my own way to Science class with Mr. Brockman, the renowned werewolf teacher. Everyone liked him, except the students that were allergic to pet dander. They had to have a different teacher, Mrs. Ryder. She's a terror, despite being only human, though I suspect she's got banshee blood far back in her line.
" Today, we'll be continuing last weeks lesson that was horribly interrupted by Sammy here going and throwing up on the display I had set up." Mr. Brockman motioned to Sammy, the guy in the class that caught every single sickness that passed through the school. Sammy blushed, but knew that he wasn't being made fun of. Mr. Brockman liked everyone unless they gave him a reason not to, and so far, no one had. He was just a natural teaser.
He was also very tall, long in limbs and face, and had the darkest brown eyes that anyone had ever seen; so near to black. His hair was usually shoulder length and put back in a short ponytail of ash blond, but he had gotten it cut over the weekend. It didn't look so bad actually, now that it wasn't constantly falling into his eyes and distracting all the girls. Besides being the favorite teacher in the school, he was also often voted the hottest.
" Hey Brockman, is that your kid?" Tyler, the supposed bully of the junior year. He was short and bulky, but it was all muscle because he was the star quarterback for the football team. He had no hair to speak of, and his piggish blue eyes made him look like a big bowling ball.
I instantly looked towards the front of the class to the boy sitting in Mr. Brockman's desk chair, his arms crossed against his chest, and my breath caught in my throat. It wasn't because I thought he was lovely looking, because he was, but it was that I knew him that I couldn't breathe.
It was Kristopher Evans, the heir to the throne of the wereleopards. He used to be my playmate when I was younger, but once when we were both eight, he had gotten angry and changed for the first time and then gone and attacked me. I still had the scar on my leg, around my ankle. I wondered if he remembered me as avidly as I was remembering him.
Kris drew the attention of the rest of the girls as well, and I knew they were planning their own individual plans for him, even though they wouldn't get through to him at all. The leopard shifters, at least those of the royal family, mated for life. And especially not with humans, not even those with magic powers.
I heard a crystalline giggle behind me and turned a bit just in time to see Miranda turn her charm on. She threw her long blond hair behind her and turned her glamour up a notch so that her blue eyes sparkled and her teeth were fine and white and even, her lipstick fresh and her body glowing. If there was one thing that I hated, it was people using the glamour spell to make themselves more appealing. And I always noticed it, because it never worked on me or the other magic users with elemental or other blood.
' Dippy.' I thought angrily, and with a small wave of my hand, dispelled the glamour.
Miranda became exactly what she was, a medium height blond girl with blue eyes and lots of makeup and tight clothes that were threatening to spill her out of them. I saw Kris grin, and it was not a good one. He knew glamours when he saw them, and so he must have known that someone in the class had dispelled it. His gaze swung around the class and I resisted the urge to go invisible, knowing that my secret would be out if I did, but if Kris was here, then perhaps my secret was in danger anyway.
" This is my nephew, Kris Evans. He's staying with me for a few weeks while his parents find a new home here. After that, he'll be enrolled." Sighs of relief went up into the air as I tensed up in fear.
It wasn't him that I was afraid of, I had gotten over the attack long ago, but it was what his being here proposed. If his parents were moving here, then that meant that the whole royal family was moving here, and they were all wereleopards. And once they were here, the other leopards would figure out that it was okay to be here. There would be pards all over the place, not to mention the wolf packs that are already here, the tigers that moved in this summer, and even the were eagles that settled the town some two hundred seventy five years ago. It would be a zoo, not to mention all the other weres that didn't have enough members to constitute being a group.
" Mr. Brockman, could I be excused?" I raised my hand, capturing his attention.
He was so involved with roll call that he just waved his hand at me and I went, escaping to the bathroom around the corner. I didn't hide myself in a stall, I didn't like the things, too small and enclosed. Water elementals had a touch of claustrophobia. Something caused by being able to swim in the ocean and whatnot. Instead, I chose to prop my elbows up on the small shelf that ran under the wall mirror and put my head in my hands, putting my forehead against the cool glass.
" Shana." I almost didn't recognize his deep voice, and I turned to look at him before I realized what I had done.
" This is a girls bathroom, Kris. Get out." My voice was flat as I pointed to the door.
" I know it's a girls bathroom, I'm not stupid." Kris's thin lips twisted into a wry grin as he leaned against the wall near the mirror.
" Could have fooled me." It wasn't like me, being mean and icy to someone who hadn't given me any reason to be like this to them. " Why are you here anyway?"
" My uncle told you. My parents are moving to Quietholm Valley. We're going to be living here in a few months and I'm staying with Uncle Jared to get used to everything." I knew that when he said 'we're' he didn't mean his family, but all of the wereleopards in the state of California. It was often that when the royal family moved, they brought as many of their own kind that they could stuff into a place, it mostly being their attendees and their army, though this was a fact not brought up to humans attentions.

" Dammit Kris, couldn't you have stayed in Longveiw?" I asked, not angrily this time, but more tired than anything else.
Kris shook his head, his tawny brown hair swinging against his chin. " Tanya's dead."
I looked at him this time, I mean, really looked at him. He was just as tired as I felt, bags under his eyes and his posture was drooping. He was ashen colored, something that a sick leopard often did. He hadn't had a shower in a few days, or he'd be fresh faced and his hair wouldn't be so lank. His eyes, his beautiful light green eyes, were pinpoints, and I stepped forwards a bit.
" Turn off your empathy and I'll talk to you." I said, knowing now why I was angry and tired and retaliating. He was pushing his emotions at me because his hold on them was lessening.
" I'm getting worse at it. I have been ever since we left Longveiw because of Tanya's death." He smiled at me and I smiled back. " But I'll try the best I can."
" And I will try to block it out." It had been a conversation that we had once when we were younger and his empathy was erratic and uncontrollable. He would concentrate on not making me feel what he was feeling and I would call up that unemotional part of me that was the water and try not to receive any of his emotions. It worked well enough, and we had played all day long.
" So," I said when I had finished raising my water shields. " Tanya's dead? How'd that come about?"
" Could we talk about this somewhere else? I mean, as you pointed out, it is a girls bathroom." Kris asked, and I nodded, going out the door and letting him follow me after I made sure that there was no one in the halls to see him coming out.
" The computer lab would be best, no one is ever in there, and there's a soda machine in there as well." I said, heading downstairs to the lab.
We were silent as we walked, and I was grateful for it. Kris had often unnerved me when we were little, and there was nine years separating us, where there had been no communication, no word between us that we were still alive. Truth be told, for a while I had wanted nothing to do with him after he had attacked me, and even though I had gotten over that, his being here made me resent him a little.
I opened the door to the lab and closed it, hearing the little click that made it lock from the inside. We were going to be talking about serious stuff, and I didn't want just anyone walking in on us, not that we were going to be doing anything that would be counted as suspicious, but you never know. Humans have got awfully perverted minds.
" Sit, I'll get you a Coke or something." I pushed him gently towards a chair and went over to the machine, standing in front of it.
Putting my hands on the plastic wall of the soda dispenser, I closed my eyes and called to the water inside the sodas. I made them want to come to me, slowly lowering my hands down the wall, feeling two sodas leap out of their holders and roll down the tube to where they leapt to my hands and I stood up. I turned around and handed the soda to Kris, who handled the soda as if it was something distasteful. I sat down and popped open mine, swallowing three long gulps before setting it down and looking at him.
" You never saw me do something like that when we were little?" I asked him as he finally opened his soda.
" Not until you decided to try and drown me when I latched onto your ankle." Kris smiled over his can. " And you have to admit, that alone would be scary."
My ankle started throbbing as soon as he mentioned his attack, and I nodded. " About Tanya?"
" She was assassinated. That's what put me in line for everything. She was killed by a human hunter who thought that having animals living in the neighborhood wasn't safe." Kris said, taking a long pull on the soda before setting it down. " Mother decided that it was safest if we moved somewhere more tolerable of our kind."
" Let me guess, dear Uncle Jared told his sister about the coming out of the magical kinds around here and she thought that it was the ideal place." I wasn't being snotty or snide, just factual, and I was right.
" She didn't want to risk anyone else, like myself or my father. She's not a ruler, she can do it with Father's help, but without him, she's nothing better than a maid. If Father or myself was killed, and she didn't take another mate, that would be the end of our line, the end of the pard throne unless one of the lesser nobles decided to come and stand in until we could find someone better." He didn't mention the fact that there was another way, to take someone of human blood and infect them with the virus that was carried in their blood.
Every were carried it, the virus, even if they were born a were. Most now days were born, but there were still those cases where a human was infected from an attack or willingly. That was how Mr. Brockman had become a werewolf. Before his leopard blood had shown up in him, which happens around eight and onward, he was attacked by the neighbors dog, which happened to be the neighbor in his wolf form. Once he got out of the hospital, it was shown that he had contracted the lycanthropy gene for wolves. He would be a were either way, but of a different taste.
" When will the rest of the you start showing up?" I asked, twisting around in my chair to get more comfortable, my legs slung over the arm of the chair and my one arm dropped out of the chair to touch the floor, the other one propped up next to me, my chin in my hand.
" Around the beginning of summer, and my mother and father will be in here earlier to arrange living quarters for them and jobs. Plus, they have to get their own house as well, and a job for my father. Welding just isn't working anymore."
" How many of you will there be?"
Kris looked at me strangely, a smile in his eyes that wasn't touching his lips. It made me shiver for some reason, but I didn't let my unease show at all. " If I didn't know you so well, I would have thought that you were collecting this information to use against me." He shook his head. " But I know you aren't like that. There'll be about a hundred of us, excluding myself and Father and Mother. Seventy of us makes the army up, and the rest are the attendants."
I nodded, slowly sipping at my soda to clear my throat of the lump that had lodged there. If things went as they were, there would soon be more weres than there would be humans, in Quietholm at least. And magic users and other things didn't count as human anymore. We may look like them, but the blood running through us and the things we could do are very different.
" It only seems like a lot, but when they get here, it won't really seem so bad." Kris reassured me, reaching over to pat my knee.
I recoiled a little, drawing my knees up a bit and sitting straight up in the chair. " I never said it was bad." I said softly, then looked to the door. " It's almost time for English, I had better go."
I stood up and started walking towards the door and unlocked it, opening it. When I closed it and looked back, Kris was still sitting in the chair, his soda held in his hands and his eyes staring out at nothing. I left him like that, and went back to Mr. Brockman's class for my things before the bell rang. He said nothing about my being gone the whole time, or that I had been with Kris, but I knew he knew.
" Just be nice to him." Mr. Brockman said as I started walking out the door.
I turned and face him. " I've known him since I was little, I don't have to be nice to him." And I left to English.