Naus wasn't a very patient girl. Ruben often thought it strange that she had picked up so many qualities, contrary to those he exhibited, and perhaps it had something to do with her being human.

Or at least, more human than he was.

"Princess" he purred. Naus scratched at her knuckles and shifted her eyes momentarily to the large Black Panther that sat at her feet. "Stop fidgeting"

"This is ridiculous Ruben, absolutely ridiculous. He's treating me like a rookie, like one of his stupid human lackeys. Do I look human to you?"

Ruben yawned, opening his enormous mouth and displaying his sharp white teeth, and pink tongue. "Frankly, kitten, you do."

"But he knows better, he knows better than that, he can't just leave me out here like this, I mean how long has it been now?"

"Only about fifteen minutes, Naus, not long. He's a busy man."

"Busy on the phone, hey?" Nausicaa Webb sunk into her chair, her mood quickly becoming sullen. "Maui's a demi-god for goodness sake. Or whatever he calls himself. he can find the time!" She pressed her lips together and folded her arms; immediately appearing years younger.

Ruben was glad, she'd been on edge since they had arrived, at least now she was quiet.

The man they were visiting was a client, an important client, a client who would not take it kindly if Naus and her 'cat' came bursting into his office, like she did with the others.

He also paid her better, and the jobs, were infinitely more difficult, and important. His line was long and well established in the World, while Nausicaa represented herself, a member of a race that was fading and failing.

Naus knew that something was the matter today. Like she always knew when things were the matter, because although she might look like a normal girl, slightly taller than your average, she wasn't normal.

She was anything but.

When Ruben and Naus were finally ushered into his office ten minutes later, Naus was decidedly quiet. Ruben, seeing that he would be leading the discussion today, excused himself, and returned in a more suitable form, moments later.

"Nice to see you with opposable thumbs for a change" He said, taking Ruben's hand.

Ruben, bare-chested and wearing the beaten Levi's that Naus always carried for emergencies, sat.

"And you Princess, always a delight." He smiled winningly at the girl and Naus gave him her hand, which he kissed softly. She quickly took it back.

"Yeah, yeah." She muttered.

Naus didn't sit; she took position behind her dark skinned guardian and placed a hand on his bare shoulder.

"What have you got for us?" Ruben asked, his voice a deep rumble.

Maui made no reply, and took his time shifting and rearranging papers. For the first time, Ruben thought he looked a little hesitant.

He was a young man, in appearance, though both the panther-man and the girl knew that he was much older. He had pale eyes, olive skin and black hair. Sometimes, Ruben thought he looked Asian and other times Polynesian, but never entirely one or the other.

Certainly, Maui, for that was his name amongst certain groups, found his birth in mankind, and now, with the extended life span he was blessed with, he represented them, on a far greater scale.

Nausicaa, who had also been born of woman, was much like him, though younger, and less experienced. She had nothing now to connect her with humanity, Ruben had taken that away from the girl long ago, and so she worked for whomever would pay her. Maui knew she had never been asked to do anything like what he would ask her to do today.

He dreaded the task.

Naus knew something big was coming, the same way that she had known, almost twelve years ago, that the Black Panther had been a man. She hid her impatience very poorly as Maui shuffled his papers.

"Any more waiting, and I'm likely to lose the use of my shoulder." Ruben politely stated, drawing Maui's attention to the pale fingers that were digging into his shoulder.

Maui coughed and then ran his hands through his hair.

"I'll come on out and tell you what I want done then." He said. "There is a young man, whom I have been following for some time, and have a great deal invested in, though he is unaware of it." He coughed again. "Recently he has been consorting with a witch, and I would like you to ah. extract him, from the situation."

"A witch?" Ruben asked. "What kind of man is this?"

"Just a normal man, with a little more luck than is good for him. He's blind to us, generally, or he doesn't know what magic is to see it. The witch has found him, not the other way around, and I want you to separate them."

"Why are you so uncomfortable about this, lord, what is at stake?" Nausicaa asked.

Ruben turned to look at her, it was unusual for her to ask questions like this, she liked to leave people their privacy. Most of the time, it was healthier not to know what their clients' agenda was.

Maui looked a little pink in the face.

"He's of my line" he came out and said it directly. Seeing the surprised expressions on his mercenaries' faces, he explained. "Very distant of course, but you know how things are with Gifts, you can't say who's going to have it, and who isn't. I'm a little worried that he has more than he can deal with, and this witch is trying to get to me through him."

"What shape of witch are we talking about?"

"Her name is Nancy Wilde. She's a coven Wiccan, you know, the dancing, embracing nature kind."

Naus curled a lip in distaste.


"Double the usual"

Both the mercenaries froze.

"Double?" the girl repeated.

"Double. Plus I'll cover any expenses that are incurred."

"Done" Ruben spoke for the pair.

A contract was signed and the girl and her cat left.

Maui felt a pang of guilt, deceiving the way he had, but it was fleeting. He only applied human emotions to humans, and he rarely categorised the Princess, or her panther as members of that race.