Author's Note: Wow. A long time to update . . . I'm sorry. Since I updated do I get a fourth of a cookie? Mmm. Forget the cookie. Drop a review and tell me how much you enjoyed reading. That would be better than two dozen cookies.

Thanks to rosieroo, SirScott, Xara O'Connor, Tears of Deathwishxxx, missboo13, ., and GrannyP for their reviews. It really is awesome to know you guys want an update and like/love the story.

---fire smart---

Chapter Fourteen: Dealing with Jerks


Celeste looked like a lost puppy. It was obvious to me that she didn't know what to do anymore than I did.

"Men are jerks!" she exclaimed.

"I'll try not to take that offensively," Ace teased. He seemed to appear out of nowhere. He was relaxed while leaning against the wall.

"Why did you help Holden?" she said softly. Her hands were balled into fists.

"He's not capable of doing anything by himself," Ace stated; he tried to add cheer to his tone, but I could hear something that sounded like hatred in his tone.

"Which side are you on?"

"Yours," he paused as if considering, "for now."

"Oh, great one, what is your plan then?" she asked sarcastically.

"I think you should train your team."

"Her team?" I echoed.

"That would be Abdul, Dezi, Kazuki, Nova, and you."

"I am not involving them!"

"What? We're not good enough for you?" Nova asked from the doorway. I had been too busy watching Ace to notice and her back-up (Celeste's roomies) had arrived. She had the same defiant look and stance she had had when I told her there was no way she was going to Chicago. She had hitchhiked her way there and back.

"Of course—"

"We're already involved, honey. Whether any of us like it or not," Dezi reminded.

Celeste sighed, looking wary. "All right. Let's find out what your elements are."

"I read that it takes years and years to find out what your element is," Abdul offered, pushing his glasses up his nose while blinking rapidly.

"We're on the accelerated course, Ab." Celeste opened a desk drawer and pulled out four marbles. "We're going to see which one of these hits you hardest. Whichever one does, it's your element. Blue is water. White is air. Red is fire. Earth is green."

"Excuse me. Did you just say you were going to see which one hits them the hardest?" Ace asked.

"Not hit, hit, silly goose." Ace blinked like he had never been called 'silly goose'. Of course, he probably hadn't considering he was an all-powerful hunter. "Ab, step forward, will you?"

Abdul did as she said while looking into her eyes. I thought this was funny because I would be staring at the marbles.

"Y'all want me to say some fancy words or just do it?" she asked, looking around us.

"Say some words. We have to get our kicks somehow," Dezi remarked. "Plus, if this kills Abdul we want him to have at least one moment of glory before he dies."

Celeste smiled at Abdul as if she and he were sharing a secret joke regarding Dezi. "You sure had yours when you crooned "Barbie Girl" on the roof of your house in a lampshade and your boxers."

Kazuki snickered and Abdul grinned. Dezi looked taken back for a second. Then he smiled. "You remember that, Celeste, because you liked the view."

"Yes. My heart goes pit-pat at the very though. Is 'pit-pat' even a phrase?" He nose wrinkled up.

"I don't know. Let's get on with it," Dezi commanded, waving his hand.

"I call upon the air, fire, earth, and water to show them true selves before this brave warrior." She wrinkled her nose again, not liking her lines, as the marbles glowed.

"Wait a second. How are you going to control—" Ace spluttered.

He was interrupted by a flash of red light that bathed us all. In a second, it was gone.

"Ooh, you're fire. I bet you're a fire thinker. I call them 'fire smart'."

Ace grabbed Celeste's wrists in the middle of her babble. "How the heck did you do that?" he growled.

"Like I'd tell you," she sniffed. She didn't appear to be the less bit frightened by his manhandling.

"You have royal fairy blood—"

"Hey, no one knows about that!" she exclaimed.

"Royal fairy blood?" Kazuki echoed.

Abdul's eyes widened.

"Her mother is queen of the fairies," Ace explained quickly and then he turned back to Celeste. "Your father's side is completely Protector. And I know those pansies can't control magick anymore than Myles can control his sex drive. They have to steal magick to get any. We've always assumed your empathy powers allowed you to borrow powers and your fairy side gave you some . . . but to control elements?"

"Do you know what Protectors were like before Alexandra's time?"

"Alexandra is your goddess. She created the Protectors and then destroyed herself because she hated how they became," he recited, looking annoyed that she didn't answer his question right away.

"Have you ever known history books to get it wrong? You know like that time they described your rep as a Hunter—back before you joined the Trio of Fire—what did they say about you? Oh, yes. A Hunter "of no great accord. He was probably chosen so the vamps can look like they're cooperating, but really he's their slave."

A muscle in his jaw ticked. "Your point is?"

"Maybe they got it wrong."

"Yes, I know. How did they get it wrong?" Ace asked, trying to sound patient.

"Why would I tell you anything? You never tell me anything. You didn't tell me about Holden or Myles."

"You want me—" He stopped and sighed. "Celeste, there are limits on how honest a person can be. When you read the future you can't tell everyone everything you see otherwise you could mess up the present, right?"

She groaned. "If I could I'd solve a heck of a lot of problems!" She crossed her arms over her chest. "Of all the stupid idiots I have to depend on . . ." she hissed under her breath. Her expression falsely brightened. "All right. I get your point."

"Is there anything I can do to help?" Ace asked. His eyebrow was raised.

"Ow. Stop me from killing Fuller because technically he is my Protector mate and if I kill him, I die." She rubbed her temples.

"Isn't there a way to break that bond?" Kazuki asked.

"Yes. An incantation done by the male mate, but that also releases her from being a Protector," Abdul answered.

"Which is why the only one who has ever done it was Alexandra. It was after her mate was killed by her father. He released her in his dying breath," Celeste added.

"The story I heard is that Alexandra went nuts and killed her father and mate," Ace mused.

"If she murdered her mate, she would have died," Abdul stated.

"You really have been doing a lot of research."

"Well, I was interested in what was going on," he offered.

Ace studied him. "I bet you were."

"What do you mean by that?" Abdul asked.

Celeste rolled her eyes. "Just ignore him. I do."

---I fall in, I freak out---

Abdul was fire, Dezi was earth, Kazuki was air, Nova was water, and I was water.

"Now what do we do?" Nova asked after many training sessions. We were sitting on the floor. Ace remained leaning against the wall with a smirk. Holden has his arms across his chest and his back against the wall.

"How about we take a nap?" Celeste asked.

Ace laughed.

"What's so funny? I was serious."

"Saviors of the world shouldn't need naps," he remarked.

"Oh, they do when they're dealing with jerks."

---the author speaks through the screen—

Author's Note: I got a kick out of some of those lines. . . Man, I have to stop forgetting what I was going to say (translation: type). I'm feeling a bit quirky today, which means I should probably write something while I have the inspiration. I hope you guys enjoyed reading.