a/n:  Ack, sorry about the long wait guys.  This is Greenwood Dancer, and my friend isn't able to write for this fic he just told me, so it will be in my hands.  *grins evilly*  lol  No, don't worry, though.  I have a lot of plans for this, so if you can just bear with my slow process, it should be a good fic.

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                Kyra snapped her head up towards the door as the wind caught it and blew it open, slamming into the wall.  She froze, watching the doorway with sharp eyes, waiting for something to happen.  A few seconds later, a man stepped through the doorway, his cloak wrapped around him tightly.  He didn't notice Kyra at first, but closed the door, eliminating the chilly breeze.  He shivered slightly before holding his hand out in front of him, palm up.  A ball of fire appeared above his hand, shedding dim light around the room.  It was then that he saw Kyra crouched on the floor, staring at him as though he were about to strike at her.

                "I'm sorry, I didn't see you there," he said, looking at her kindly.  She stared at him, eyeing him.  He looked to be in his twenties with sapphire eyes.  She was unsure of whether his hair, slightly messed from the wind, was brown or dark blonde.  He was tall, maybe about two inches taller than her, and slim from what she could see through his cloak.

                "Who are you?" she asked finally, her voice low.  She was still crouched low to the floor, her eyes never leaving him.

                "My name is Kane.  I'm sorry if I startled you," he replied.  After a few more seconds of silence and staring, he asked her name.

                Kyra was silent for a minute.  Should she tell him?  Should she lie?  She took a deep breath before saying her name.  She followed his every move with her eyes, many questions flowing through her mind.  Who was he?  Where did he come from?  Why was he here?  What did he want?  But she didn't ask any of them.  Not yet.

                "You seem tense, are you all right?" Kane asked, looking at her curiously.  He moved his hand so the light from the fire shone over Kyra.

                She forced herself to her feet, straightening defiantly.  "I'm fine.  What are you doing here?"

                He seemed surprised at her icy tone.  "I'm merely a traveler looking for a place to rest.  I didn't know anyone was here, so I thought I'd come in out of the wind.  However, if it makes you uncomfortable having me here, I will leave."

                Kyra's eyes bored into his, searching for a trace of something she might be able to use to her advantage.  But his eyes were unreadable, much like hers most often.  His offer to leave was tempting, but she remembered something her mother had told her once.  Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.  Until she was sure of whether Kane was friend or foe it would be best for Kyra to keep her eyes on him.  One thing was for certain, she wouldn't get much sleep tonight.

                "You may remain.  I sense a storm on the way and it might be unpleasant to spend the night outside," she said.

                In the dim light, she thought she saw the corners of Kane's lips twitch upwards.  "I have spent many nights in storms and I've gotten rather used to it."  But he sat down against the wall.  "I don't suppose you live here.  Are you a traveler as well?"

                Kyra gracefully lowered herself to the floor again, crossing her legs under her.  "No," she said, staring at him.

                "You're not much of an interior decorator then, hm?" he said, a trace of a smile on his face.

                "I don't live here," she replied coolly.

                "Where do you live if you don't mind me asking?"

                Kyra simply looked at him, her face expressionless.  After it was clear she wasn't going to say, Kane spoke again.

                "I'm sorry, I'm pressing."

                "Yes.  I suppose you are tired?" she asked.

                "I am, though I can go without sleep for a long time.  Are you tired?" he replied.  He had removed his hand from below the ball of fire, the flames now hovering in mid air.

                "Slightly."

                "If you wish to rest you may.  I didn't mean to interrupt your sleep," he said, looking at her.  Her constant staring would have unnerved most others, but if he was, he didn't show it.

                Kyra simply nodded and lowered herself to the floor in a loose ball.  She turned so she was on her stomach, but her legs were pulled up to the side.  She crossed her hands in front of her and rested her chin on them, never taking her eyes off Kane.  He watched her for a few seconds before waving his hand in front of the fire, putting it out.  Kyra's eyes adjusted quickly to the darkness and she saw he had rested his head back against the wall.  She didn't move for a long time; she didn't even blink very often.  Only when Kane's stomach began to rise and fall rhythmically did she push herself slowly and silently into a sitting position.  Keeping her eyes on him, she began to change.

                Her eyes went from dark brown to a brilliant green, the pupils now tall slits. She began to shrink, her arms and legs receding into her body.  Her clothes were absorbed into her flesh to be replaced by thick, raven fur.  As the fur reached her hands, her fingers shrank into tiny paws.  She could feel the new muscles developing inside her, allowing her to extend razor sharp claws.  She arched her back as the fur traveled down her back.  As it moved swiftly down to her derrière, a tail began to emerge, small and stubbly at first, but it quickly elongated and narrowed, twitching every now and then.  Her nose had reduced in size, now tiny and pink, long whiskers protruding from her cheeks.  Her hair had been absorbed into her head, stopping only when it was about an inch away from her scalp.  Pointed ears now stood up off her head, rotating, listening for any unusual sounds.  She shuddered as her transformation ended and poked her head out from under her cloak, the only piece of clothing that hadn't disappeared.

                Her green eyes could see through the darkness as though it were day and when her gaze rested on Kane, all the hair on her body stood on end.  He had awoken and was looking around, looking rather unnerved.  He had risen to his feet and a small, jeweled dagger was in his hand.  Kyra narrowed her eyes, aware of the fact that they reflected light, but Kane had already seen her.  He breathed in relief and tucked the dagger away under his cloak.

                "Why didn't you tell me you were a shape shifter?"  he asked, looking down at her.

                Kyra blinked at him before transforming once again into a girl.  "You didn't ask," she said, sweeping her cloak from the floor.  She felt slight irritation at the fact that she had been caught, but she didn't let it show.  Instead, she swept her cloak around her shoulders and fastened it, staring at Kane all the while.

                "If you have the ability to transform into animals, I imagine you live in the forest," he deducted.  Kyra didn't confirm it, but she didn't shake her head either.  "May I ask for how long?" he asked.

                Her mind raced, trying to think of how, if she gave the information to him, it would affect her.  Would he be able to use it against her?  Or was it meaningless?  Unable to think of a reason not to tell him quickly, she spoke the truth.  "Two years."

                "I see.  You don't look terribly old, may I ask your age?" he asked.  Kyra felt annoyance jolt in her.  Was he going to continue questioning her all night?  Perhaps she should have told him to leave when she had the opportunity.

                "It is impolite to ask a woman's age," she stated flatly.

                "I'm sorry, you're right.  I'm pressing again."  Kane sat down and leaned against the wall, looking at Kyra.

                "Yes, you are.  It is my turn to press.  Where do you come from?" she asked, walking silently over to the window, a few feet from Kane.  She slid down the wall and sat down, her gaze remaining on him.

                "From far away," he said.  "A part where magic isn't quite so feared.  I got a nasty shock when I revealed who I was in a town that didn't understand me," he said with a soft chuckle.

                Kyra nodded.  "I know about that misunderstanding," she said.  For the first time Kane could hear emotion in her tone, bitterness.

                "I imagine your powers are innate then?" he asked.

                She nodded reluctantly.  "Yes.  Yours aren't?"

                "Mine are a result of studies," he replied.

                "I see."

                "When did you first realize your abilities?" he asked.

                Kyra looked at him for a moment, trying to decide whether his questions had another intent behind them.  After a few seconds, though, she answered.  "When I was eight.  I realized I could understand what my cat was saying."

                "Did it say anything of interest?" he asked.

                "If you call telling me to empty his litter box 'of interest,'" she said.  Kane laughed, looking away from her for a few seconds.

                After a couple minutes, he spoke again.  "May I ask your reasons for transforming earlier?"

                "I am more comfortable in my feline form," she replied.

                "You weren't a cat when I first entered."

                "Why else would I be in here?  Do you not think that if I have the power to transform into any shape I desire that I could turn myself into a mole and burrow underground for the duration of the storm?  I have problems spending the night as a human and sometimes I attempt it to see if my problems have gone," Kyra said.  She immediately wished she hadn't said so much.  She shouldn't be talking at all to him.  He could be anyone wanting anything at all.  When he asked her about the problem she had, she was silent.

                "I see we have expired the topic then," he said and Kyra nodded.  "What shall we talk about now?"

                "Why are you here?" she asked, blinking at him.

                "I am a traveler as I said before.  I move from place to place and learn what I can and help others," Kane said.  She had to admit she was surprised that she hadn't intimidated him with her blank expressions and cold voice.  Her tone got even cooler when she replied.

                "Why would you want to help humans?  They are nothing but cruel creatures whose main goal is to destroy themselves and all other living things around them," she snarled.

                At this, Kane's eyebrows raised.  "Not all of them are cruel.  You aren't."

                "You don't know that."

                "I can sense it."

                "Your senses are wrong.  Besides.  We are different.  I refer to those without abilities.  Those who despise us because of our differences.  Those who will murder each other for no other reason but because it is fun, or that they aren't the same.  And those who will take advantage of Mother Nature and her wonders.  They are the ones I speak of.  And there are far more of them than the innocent.  Because the innocent are the victims," she said, her eyes flashing dangerously.

                "Have you had bad relations with the ungifted?  You seem very against them," Kane said calmly.

                "You're very observant," Kyra replied, raising her chin defiantly.  "I have known only one person worthy of my time.  And he was a victim."

                "Was he your love?" he asked.

                "Hardly.  He was my little brother," Kyra growled.  Her eyes flashed a vibrant green and for a moment, they transformed into those of a cat.

                Kane's eyes softened.  "I'm sorry.  I know what it's like to lose a loved one."

                "You know nothing.  It's time for a subject change," she stated, her eyes dark brown and expressionless again.

                "Of course," he said, but said nothing afterwards.  They merely looked at each other, she at him with a blank stare, he at her with hidden curiosity.  She would easily win a staring contest; for every once she blinked he did three times.

                The silence in the shack seemed to emphasize the crack of the thunder outside, the flash of the lightning seeming brighter.  After a few minutes of listening to the rain pound on the cloudy window, Kyra became irritated again.

                "Are you looking at something in particular or are you staring at me for lack of anything else to do?" she said coolly.

                "You fascinate me.  I've never met anyone whom I haven't been able to see what they're thinking through their eyes," he said, his gaze locked on hers.  After a moment, he blinked and leaned back against the wall.  "You also are the most attractive person I've seen for a long time, so, in either case, I have a reason to look at you."  Kyra stiffened slightly and shifted away from him slightly, her cold eyes boring a hole through him.  Kane immediately put up his hands in defense.  "Don't worry, I don't intend to do anything.  I merely state what I see."

                She relaxed only a little, keeping her eyes on him.  She wasn't sure what to do.  Should she leave?  It was true that she could morph to cope with the storm that still raged outside, but now that she had given Kane so much information about herself, how could she just leave?  What if he worked for someone dangerous?  Keep your enemies closer…  No.  She wouldn't leave.  Now she had to stay.

                "You seem tired.  Rest.  Tomorrow I'm sure will be a busy day," she stated finally.

                "What do we have to do tomorrow?" he asked, tilting his head slightly.

                "You don't have to do anything I suppose.  I must make sure the storm hasn't damaged anything," she said.

                "You are the caretaker of this forest?"

                "Yes," she replied.  Then, as an afterthought, she added, "All its inhabitants know me and care for me as well.  As a result, they do anything I instruct them to."

                "I see.  A good relationship to have," Kane said.  Kyra wasn't sure if her warning had gotten through to him, but she supposed she could always prove it to him in the morning.

                She morphed into a black cat again under the curious gaze of Kane, leaving her cloak on the floor.  She sat down and looked at him with emerald eyes.  After a minute, Kane stretched his hand out slowly to touch her head.  She growled and crawled backwards quickly and he immediately retracted his hand.

                "I'm sorry.  I'll see you in the morning then I suppose," he said.  With one last look at her, he leaned his head back against the wall and closed his eyes.

                Kyra watched him for a minute before turning and jumping onto the windowsill.  She could see Kane resting a few feet from her and, satisfied with his distance, she curled up and rested her tail over her nose.  She didn't close her eyes right away, though.  Instead, she gazed outside, the foggy window now blurry from water as well.  But the full moon still stood out crystal clearly.  Would Kane be her downfall?  Would her goal of the past two years fall flat at his feet?  But, as uneasy as she felt, there was no sinking feeling in her stomach.  She didn't understand the contrast of her instincts and finally decided she'd think more about it come morning.  And, as her eyes drifted closed, she fell into a light sleep, her ears twitching, listening for any unusual sounds.

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a/n:  Okay, it's kind of slow right now, but bear with me.  It'll get interesting soon, I promise!