A/N: I removed all but this first part of the story. So, I'm sorry to anyone who wanted to read more! I'm focusing on other projects now and considering my options for publication. Most of the stuff I have left on fictionpress is very old. I wrote several novels when I was a teenager and ultimately it was a very good experience to write for people on this site and get feedback, but I can't say I'm perfectly happy with any of these stories any longer. I may reboot some of these stories, or reuse ideas here and there, but I wouldn't feel comfortable soliciting publication for any of these texts.

Faery Cage

Chapter One: Supernatural Creatures

Li didn't have any supernatural powers. Not yet. No one expected her to, because they knew she was only half Fae, or because they had no idea that the young woman wasn't entirely human. There was nothing visibly otherworldly about her. The more observant of her friends would notice that she didn't look much like her mother. They didn't ever see her father, so they couldn't know, but Li knew she looked like her father would, if you stripped away the layers of wraith-like shimmer in his eyes, the living tattoos, the chameleon skin and the wings. Li looked like her father would look, if he were human.

It was still dark enough that the cars Li could barely see driving by through the decaying wooden fence had opted to put their headlights on. But Miner Boulevard was safe now, or at least it was safer than it had been a couple of hours earlier, when no doubt there had been dangerous people lurking, deals being dealt and scores beings settled. All evidenced was left discarded in the mounting piles of abandoned filth that Li skirted as she took the short-cut that was most definitely not allowed by any parent in Foxtail Hallow.

Foxtail Hallow was in the uncomfortable stage that a town reaches when it is not quite so small anymore, but not exactly a big city yet. The crime rates were rising and the mall was being revamped with more expensive boutiques and restaurants. The local community college was opening a newer, bigger, better campus, and they had been mentioned on national news twice in the last six months.

It was loosing the scent of magic that had been clinging relentlessly to the edges of the town for the past several decades. It was receding with the forest. Nothing magical had lived in the trees for hundreds of years, but it was still the closest Li ever got to the other half of herself. The trees suggested feral living and mystic power… it was a more welcome reminder than her father's occasional visits. The old world was so long gone that humans didn't think it had ever existed. Most days, Li felt she might as well be human, but then again, she had herself and her two brothers as proof that the supernatural society of earth was just hidden from humans, not gone. She knew better. Her mother knew better.

It was the first day of high school for Li. She had not been able to sleep much the night before, because she was too anxious and uncomfortably excited about the following day, and the year that would proceed in her new life as a high school student. Her cousins in California had all started High School when they went into ninth grade, but her school district was on a different system with only three grades in High School, so the ninth graders still went to the junior high, and it wasn't until tenth grade that you got to move out and move up to High School.

The short-cut past Miner Boulevard was not recommended by anyone, but Li wanted to bypass the long way around the apartment complex and the corner of the shopping district on the way to Astryd's house. Astryd was one of Li's best friends. She was beautiful and rich, but Li was able to look past that and like her anyway.

Astryd lived with her father who was some sort of scientist or doctor, Li had never been exactly sure which one, as they did not talk much about their families. One of the things that Astryd and Li had in common was family drama. Or, at least, Li had always assumed that was the case with Astryd's family, since she had only mentioned her mother once to say that she had died when she was six, and then Li seemed to remember a story about Astryd's older brother running away from home, when he was still quite young; thirteen, or maybe fourteen years old.

In any case, Astryd did not pester Li about her family, so Li offered Astryd the same kindness. Li understood the importance of keeping secrets. She appreciated the lack of curiosity that her friends showed concerning her father, it saved her the trouble of lying. As far as Li knew, no one in Foxtail Hollow knew anything about real Faeries, except for Li's small, secretive family.

She finally passed through the dingy street to the nearly empty parking lot before the edge of the town. There were trees that suddenly sprang up, growing tall and defiantly rivaling the metallic buildings constructed to the east of them. Li hoped that the town would not grow to take over even more of the forest than they had already cut into. The mountains seemed to get closer as the buildings got taller.

Astryd's home was a castle. It was even set apart slightly from the other nice homes that were built into the edge of Foxtail forest. It was no larger than the other homes in their neighborhood, but it was older and had a touch of natural class that could not be imitated by newer models. The stone steps wound upwards from the long driveway towards the thick, tall double-doors.

Li peered cautiously through the windows, and saw that Astryd was standing with her back to the door, putting a new notebook into her bag and talking to a housekeeper who was standing in the parlor doorway. Li rapped her fingers smartly against the glass and smiled as Astryd turned her head with a flip of her black hair.

Astryd hurried out… her face looked a bit strained, like she was upset about something. But, Li could not be sure until her friend shut the door, and slumped against it, closing her eyes with a groan.

"What's wrong?"

"I um…" Astryd was keeping her voice down deliberately it seemed, she must have realised that she sounded funny because she laughed in a way that told Li she was not at all amused then said, a little louder, "I'll tell both you and Emiko at the same time, okay?"

Li nodded, and the two of them left Astryd's porch to pick up their mutual best friend Emiko.

The walk to Emiko's house was uncomfortable at first, because all Astryd could think about was what she was planning to tell her two friends, and all Li could think about was what Astryd might tell them. Since she did not know, Li found herself involved in a great deal of mental speculation that prevented her from arriving at good conversational topics.

Luckily, Astryd was soon distracted by whatever was upsetting her and she instantly began to chat animatedly to Li on one of her favourite topics.

"This is atrocious… you are so pretty Li, you have got to wear something that shows you have a shape!" Astryd was fingering in distaste at the bulky grey sweater Li was wearing. It was quite a lot older than should be allowed, according to Astryd's logic and sagged down almost to the knees of her jeans.

"I woke up late," Li lied, and hugged herself around the middle, so that she could better feel the comfortable fabric close to her skin.

"Is that sweater your brother's?"

"Yes."

"You know, there might be a reason that Jay didn't take that with him to college."

"Because I hid it," Li said proudly, "It is my favourite."

"You look homeless."

"You look like you're inviting someone to mug you."

Astryd's cheeks turned slightly pink as she glanced down at her trendy black dress, t-strap baby-doll pumps, lace tights and chrome coloured jewelry that matched her nail polish a little too well. "I look amazing." She countered.

"Yeah, you're pretty attractive," said Li wearily.

"…Speaking of Jay-" Astryd started but Li interrupted her.

"-At the word 'attractive' your mind jumps instantly to my brother," she lamented, "This is going to be a long year."

"Have you heard from him?"

"No, he's only been gone three days."

"So, he hasn't mentioned me."

"I wouldn't know about it if he had… Why do you want my brother anyway? Do you really want to be with a man who cries because he can't find his favourite sweater when he's moving out of the house to go to college?" Li lifted up her arm so a few inches of grey sleeve dangled in front of Astryd's face for emphasis.

"He did not," said Astryd confidently, "You would have given it back to him if he had."

"He looked very close to tears."

"You should give it back!"

"How come you don't mind Jay wearing this stuff, but I can't get away with it?"

"Because you are a lovely young woman, with pretty features and especially nice legs, as opposed to Jay, who is a guy, so there is only so much he can do." Astryd's blue eyes were illuminated a little under the glare of the rising sunshine as they crested the hill in front of Emiko's duplex. The silence between them became more pronounced by the lack of wind on the early morning air, after a few seconds it became uncomfortable, like they were fighting—or would be shortly.

"…I'm having lunch with Jay Saturday, do you want to come?" asked Li tonelessly.

"I love you," Astryd embraced Li roughly, before she bolted the rest of the way up Emiko's driveway.

Li was close behind but by the time she reached the stoop, Emiko was already coming out. Like Astryd, Emiko had taken great care in what she chose to wear to school that day. She was sporting a black vintage jacket with too much jewelry and an old pink and black plaid skirt with ripped tights. Her inch-long nails were painted florescent blue on one hand and pink on the other.

Emiko had moved to their town last year from Japan. Li had met her in detention. Li was there to work off a tardy mark, but Emiko had been sent there as punishment for shouting at a teacher in Japanese.

Her eyes swept over Li briefly then she turned back to Astryd, "Did you talk to her about the sweater yet?"

"No more about my clothing," Li said firmly, "Astryd has something to tell us anyway," she looked expectantly at Astryd who frowned at Li, obviously a little furious with her for remembering.

Emiko's distaste for Li's garb was overshadowed by her curiosity as the three of them began to walk to the school now, shoulder to shoulder.

"It's kind of stupid," Astryd admitted, "My dad has decided to hire an assistant to help him with his experiments. His name's Locke… Brian Locke. He's going to come live with us. So he wanted me to clean out my brother's old room-"

"-You have a brother?" said Emiko with furrowed brows.

Astryd bit her lip and looked as tense as Li felt, "Yes. Armando… he's fourteen years older than me, and he ran away from home when I was just a baby," Astryd summarized.

"Why?" Emiko asked bluntly.

"He and my father fought a lot… and there might have been some other stuff. It doesn't matter—I'm not talking about Armando," said Astryd sharply. If it hadn't been clear before that it was a painful subject then it certainly was now, but Emiko seemed to pay no attention to that.

"You should try to find him." said Emiko simply.

Astryd and Li exchanged looks, which was difficult with Emiko between them and Astryd being so much taller than Li.

"I had a dream I had a brother once. Then he turned into a dragon and ate my dog," Emiko informed them.

Astryd rolled her eyes, but Li latched onto the subject of dreams quickly, eager to change the subject, "I had a cool dream last night. I had wings."

"Like an angel in a bad sweater you mean?" Astryd asked with mock interest.

"…It really felt like I was flying, does that ever happen to you?"

"No, I never have pleasant dreams," said Astryd with a devastated sigh, "But I know what you mean, sometimes everything feels too real to be allowed. Like, a few weeks ago, I had a dream I was pregnant with twins…"

Around them more students were starting to fall into the same path they were taking through the last neighbourhood before arriving at Foxtail High School. As Li listened to her friends carry on with their conversation she found her eyes drawn to the sky, where she imagined being taken up miraculously by wings she did not have, almost out of defiance, her feet felt a little lighter beneath her, and she twitched as the first electric shock connected to the skin between her shoulder blades.

They had come to the high school before, to see plays and productions, and last year the teachers brought them down for a full tour. Li had come there several times when her brother was a student to pick him up or drop him off. She thought she would be prepared to enter in this, very different capacity, but she quickly found she was mistaken. The school seemed so much bigger, as if it grew exponentially with every step she took towards it. Most of the students themselves were just too intimidating; especially the kids who hung out behind the gym and around the bleachers next to the football field, which was the trio's approach to the school.

It occurred to Li right there that she may have seriously overvalued the power of the high school illusion; that everyone was there to learn. She could not imagine that these people came here for any reason other than to be noticed. Astryd and Emiko might have had the right idea about their clothes after all. Everyone was dressed in extreme style toward whatever high school stereo-type they valued the most. There were lots of girls like Astryd who opted to wear all black, though none of them quite duplicated the same sleek and chic look that she had probably just pulled together that morning. There were even more girls like Emiko who had chosen to wear that same kind of vintage-punk look. She saw lots of plaid and ripped clothing, accented with chains and gaudy costume jewelry.

The guys seemed like they wanted to rival the girls in extravagance; too tight or too loose jeans and brand-new shoes; loud colours and hair that was dripping with gel. She noticed that a lot of them were wearing make-up.

"Hi Astryd," a boy suddenly stepped immediately in their path. Li didn't recognize him. He had a thick trail of eye-liner around his lashes. He was carrying a skateboard under one arm, and had black hair that hung down to the middle of his back. His skin was very pale and there was something vaguely serpentine about his features. He looked like he belonged in a rock band.

"Err, hi… Edward," Astryd, smiled vaguely at him.

He briefly looked over Li and Emiko with a sweep of his pale eyes, "Hey." He turned his attention back to Astryd, "I got the job."

"Oh! That's great," Astryd was using her fake enthusiasm voice. Anyone who wasn't her best friend would have believed it.

"You haven't been into the shop," Edward commented.

"Yeah—I've been busy." Astryd shrugged, "I gotta go to class, I'll see you." Astryd hurried all three of them away from Edward.

"Who's he?" Emiko frowned over her shoulder.

"I met him when he was filling out an application at the Moon Hunter; that new age place at the mall… He's nice, but kind of…"

"New age?"

"Exactly."

As they got closer to the school, the style of clothing and the type of people made a noticeable transformation. Suddenly everything looked a little brighter, though no less unfriendly. Here were girls and boys who dressed like they were expecting a paparazzi attack; elegantly styled coifs and pastel colours accenting summer-tans and more stylish jewelry and school-bags that matched. But Li quickly decided that no one, no matter what they were wearing, really looked like they were here to learn.

Li was barely over five feet tall, so she was used to being shorter than everyone, but she was not used to just being walked right over and bumped into at every turn. The second that Astryd had waved goodbye, and Emiko rushed off saying she needed to be on the third floor in two minutes, Li found herself completely overtaken and overwhelmed by the throng of students flowing in all directions around her.

Her bag was knocked out of her hands twice, and no one bothered to help her pick anything up. It seemed that in a world where everyone wanted to be noticed, Li was completely overlooked, though she did not mind much. It was preferable, actually, for her to slip into and be concealed in the crowd. It was easier to watch from that vantage point. It was safer.

It was hard to concentrate in class. Li wanted to talk to her older brother, Jay, but she didn't have a cell phone. Astryd would probably let her borrow her phone, as long as she let her talk to Jay as well… it was a steep price. Though it pained her, Li resolved upon this stratagem before the bell rang in first period and she was shunted to her next class.

"What did you come from?" Astryd inquired lazily from her desk.

"History."

"It's too early for that," Astryd sighed, and Li sat in the desk next to her. Other students were filing in and the room began to fill up around them.

"Hey, I want to give Jay a ring during break, can I borrow your phone?" wondered Li.

Astryd's face lit up at that, "Absolutely you can."

Looking past Astryd, Li noticed Edward in the desk opposite to her. Astryd turned and noticed him staring as well, "Hi Edward," she said, and he smiled at her. "He was in my last class," she explained in a hiss to Li, "I think he wants me," she added even more quietly.

The chuckles that ensued from that were stifled by the arrival of an adult. But she was not one of the teachers, "Settle down everyone!" snapped the administrator, "Now listen, I know your schedules say that this class is taught by Mrs. Webber. But, she unexpectedly went into retirement a few weeks ago, however, your new English teacher, Mr. Smyth is out today and we haven't been able to find a substitute. I need you all to sign your names on this roll and I'm going to set up this educational program on Modern Poetry for you all to watch, do not leave this room!"

Li glanced over at Astryd, who looked as excited as the other students at having a virtually free-period.

As the administrator fumbled with the projector and finally resorted to accepting help from Edward, the other students all went to sign their names on the piece of paper to prove they had been there. A couple of clean-cut boys in expensive clothing lingered a little longer than necessary at the paper, and they were laughing quietly to each other, Li saw why when she approached the roll and quickly skimmed over the other names.

Someone had filled out almost half the spots with fake names. Most of them were just rude but she also noticed Adolph Hitler, Chuck Norris and Bart Simpson. She rolled her eyes and signed her name, then briefly crossed out a few of the really naughty names that she had noticed.

The administration woman left soon enough and the video was playing, though Li seriously doubted that anyone watched it. A group of blonde girls were braiding each other's hair and talking animatedly to each other from on top of their desks. The pretty boys were adding more names to the roll and fixing the damage that Li had done to their work. Edward had pulled out a pair of tiny earphones and looked like he was nodding off as he slumped in his seat.

Astryd gave Li her cell phone and began to work on her manicure while simultaneously attempting to listen in, but this was one conversation that Li could not let her friend hear. She stood up and gave Astryd a look that kept her from following, though she scowled back indignantly.

"Hello?" Jay sounded groggy as he picked up the phone, "Geez, I don't have school until one o'clock…"

"Nice to talk to you too," said Li.

"Li? Oh hi, what's up chicky?"

"…I think it's starting," she said while glancing nervously around the room, "I feel real funny, and I got this electric shock through my back this morning, oh, and last night I had a dream about flying, isn't that how it all started for you?"

"Li, slow down and keep your voice low," Jay snapped, "Yes… that's how it started, but you're too young, Li. It happens when we reach adulthood, you're only fifteen."

"I might just be maturing more quickly than you did."

"No way, you are still just a bitty girl, Li. It could be like false pregnancy, you're really excited about having a baby so your body starts acting like it's pregnant."

"Yeah, I've never heard of that," said Li skeptically.

"You're just excited because you're starting a new school and everything, don't start panicking about growing wings-"

"-I'm not panicking, I really think it's happening… just humour me, okay? What do I do?"

Jay sighed heavily and was quiet for a moment, she could hear shuffling sounds in the background, "Have mom call dad, he can help."

Li felt numb at that suggestion, "What? No. I'm not going to ask dad for help."

"That's what I did, Li!" Jay argued back at her, "Dad is the only person who can help you with this right now."

"No he isn't, you could."

"I-I really can't. I'm not the nurturing type."

"Neither is dad."

"Don't start."

"I'm not starting anything, I'm just asking for help!"

"I told you what you need to do, Li."

She sighed directly into the phone and her brother murmured something about a drama queen. "Look, I had better give Astryd her phone back."

"Wait, can I talk to her first?" asked Jay quickly.

"She's busy," Li lied, while glancing at Astryd who was inspecting her cuticles closely.

"Oh, alright, tell her to give me a call later."

"Bye Jay."

Astryd looked up, noticeably upset as Li passed her cell-phone back across her desk, "He didn't want to talk to me?"

"He was busy," said Li with a shrug, she felt a guilty pang as she saw that Astryd looked rather hurt. Astryd quickly recovered herself however, and sat up a little straighter giving Li a knowing look. "What?"

"I just don't understand," said Astryd carefully, "Why you are so opposed to the glorious prospect of moi as your sister-in-law."

Li did not bother to respond. She did not want to talk to Astryd about this any more than she absolutely had to. The truth was that Jay and Astryd complemented each other to an annoying degree. Everyone could see that they would make a good couple, but Li had too much knowledge of when it all went bad to be very optimistic about the truthfully (though she would never admit it out loud) inevitable relationship brewing between her older brother and her oldest friend.

Besides, Jay had a whole separate complication to deal with when it came to relationships of any kind with human beings.

Emiko had third period Geometry with the other two girls.

They got there a few minutes before the class began and sat at the same table together.

"I think I shall insist on transferring into your second period English class instead," said Emiko proudly as she checked her flawless reflection in a make-up compact. "That woman was so boring, there was no way I was going to spend all year listening to her drone on and on about material that could otherwise be quite interesting,"

"I'm sorry you didn't get a free-period," said Li with a smirk for Emiko.

"It's alright… I just sat there and fantasized the whole period anyway." Emiko shrugged.

"About what?" asked Astryd absently.

Emiko blushed pink, "I'm not sure I want to tell you."

"Why not?" Astryd looked up, suspicious.

"…Well, you know how we were talking about your missing brother this morning?"

"No. I don't recall."

"I was just imagining that he could be really dishy."

"He's almost thirty." Astryd hissed.

"The perfect age for a woman of my maturity," Emiko said in a sing-song voice.

"You're fifteen and an idiot," Astryd hissed at Emiko.

"I'm brilliant," Emiko said confidently, and she did have a point. Astryd got good grades but she studied constantly, while Emiko was gifted with the ability to get straight A's even when she had never studied and always did the most minimal amount of homework she could get away with.

"Why do you think my brother would be hot anyway? I suppose it is because I am such a vision," Astryd flipped her long dark hair over her shoulder for effect; it caught the light at just the right angle to momentarily blind them all.

"Actually, although you are stunning, my love, I was thinking…" Emiko blushed as if considering, rightfully, that it would be unwise to utter the following words, "I was actually just thinking that your brother must be attractive, because your dad is."

Astryd gave Emiko a well-deserved punch in the arm, just as the teacher entered the room and called them all to order.

~*~

Li was not particularly surprised or pleased to see her father's motorcycle parked in her driveway as she returned home from school that day. She paused at the bottom of the sidewalk, with one foot still on the asphalt, wondering how long she could stall. Through the blank front window, her father's silhouette appeared. He lifted one hand in greeting.

Defeated, Li lifted her own hand in salutation and marched immediately up the driveway. Her father had already opened the front door to give her a hug which she returned, burying her face deep into his thick coat.

"Come on inside," he said after a moment, and pulled away to help her over the threshold and close the door.

Li and her father had a strange relationship. Whenever he was away Li absolutely hated him. The second he returned, she never wanted him to leave, but he always did.

Her mother was sitting at the kitchen table, wearing that same entranced smile that she always wore whenever her husband was around. Looking at Li's parents, you would never know that they were married. In fact, you would probably never guess that they ever even knew each other.

Li's mother, Holly, looked like she had walked out of a good-housekeeping magazine from the 1950's. She was wearing one of her favourite outfits; a simple but flattering green dress with a string of pearls. Her short blonde hair was accented with a white ribbon tied like a headband behind her ears. Her brown eyes were unfocused as they joined her in the kitchen.

In opposition to her mother, her father looked quite frightening. He was tall and had a few noticeable scars, like a tomcat that could not stop fighting with the other animals in his territory. His hair hung almost to his waist and was a salt and pepper mix of grey and black. He was older than her mother by ten years, and though he had no more wrinkles than she did, his hair colour gave his age away. His hair was accented with a number of braids and beads, bones, trinkets and bangles. Likewise, his coat, which was brown and very old, was covered in patches and badges and things he had collected over the years. He had the same jaw-line as Li and the same vivid, royal blue eyes.

"How was your first day?" asked her mother with a smile.

Li shrugged, "The school is really big."

"You'll get used to it," said her mother, and for some reason her parents exchanged a look. Her father seemed angry, but her mother simply looked defiant.

"What are you doing here?" Li asked her dad, but only because she could not bear to ask the real question on her mind; 'how long until you take off again?'

"I just stopped in to check on you… I'm going to go meet Jay for dinner-"

"-You could eat here, you and Jay, I mean. The college isn't far," Li tried not to make her voice sound too eager.

Her father smiled, but it faded very quickly, "No, I'm afraid we've got something to discuss."

There was a pregnant pause and then Li just nodded.

"Oh! It sounds like Isaac is waking up," her mother glanced at the warbling baby monitor, then exited the room swiftly. They could hear her cooing to Isaac through the monitor.

Her father swept his hair aside from one ear, revealing a large chunk that was missing from the cartilage, "Li… Jay called me this morning."

Of course he did. Li leaned back in her seat and crossed her arms over her chest.

"I know, you want to grow your wings, but you're too young," he shook his head, "You've got at least a few more years. Jay just got his wings."

Li did not look at him. Were they all thinking about her like she was some kind of child making up a fib to get attention?

"You don't need to be in such a hurry to grow up."

Her mother had returned with Li's baby brother on her hip. Her father reached for him and the baby curled into his chest, whining a little in the discomfort of his half-awake state. His blue eyes were open and scanning the room for his toys and playmates.

Her father did not stay long. Isaac was just getting back to sleep when he passed his younger son off to his wife and kissed her saying, "Goodbye, Holly."

"Ambrose," she said, almost pleadingly to him, but he just shook his head and was gone.

~*~

It is not in the nature of supernatural creatures to settle down. They are intrinsic nomads. That was what Li's mother told her, at least. Li always thought that the truth might be more simple; her father could not be bothered to live with his family. He came by every couple of weeks, and sometimes he even stayed for a few days at a time, but he was always just arriving and he was always just leaving. Of course, there were complications. Under very temperate conditions, emotionally and physically, Li's father Ambrose could appear almost normal. Like a human man who was just a little eccentric.

All they needed was for a climate change, an emotional surge, something that happened every day to normal people and Li's father would reveal himself to be anything but normal.

She could appreciate the difficulty that a Fae would have living day to day with human beings. Her parents tried to make it all work, so it caused the least amount of danger and suffering for all of them, but sometimes, Li thought they did not try hard enough. The truth was; this arrangement was easier for them. They had their own lives. Her mother had her job and her children. Her father… well, she really did not know much about what he did when he was not with them. Li always thought that her parents were probably in denial about the whole situation. She had always been confident that growing up without a father hadn't hurt her too badly; they would all grow up just fine. But still, it was no secret that she would have rather had them both around.

Li, Jay and little Isaac, were only half human. But the human half was overpowering when it came to appearance, so they were able to live quite comfortably among their mother's people, without the least amount of suspicion that there was anything otherworldly about their blood.

Of course, things became more complicated for Jay a few months ago when he reached adulthood and grew his wings. Like their father, he just hid them as best he could, but unlike her father, he spent all of his time inches away from people who would be very disturbed to see him in his natural Faery state.

The vanity across from her bed was hung with blue silk the same colour as her eyes. It was a long stretch of fabric that she had bought because it was on sale and she thought she might make a dress out of it on a rainy day. It was raining now, and getting dark. A bolt of lightning accompanied yet another electric shock through Li's back. She was sitting on the edge of her bed, staring at her reflection, at those eyes that were so like her father's. Wide and large, though slightly almond shaped and framed by long black lashes that curled without encouragement.

Her brother and her father… they were the ones in denial. She was growing up right in front of them and had been for years. Just because her chronological age did not match up with what her body was telling her, they were going to insist that she was still a child, even when she could feel the truth of it. She was about to grow wings too.

Telling her to wait a few years was as useless as walking up to a woman in labor and saying: "Wait! Not yet, you're not ready!"

Li felt another twinge and she rolled her shoulders back, still watching herself move through the mirror. She could talk to them again the next day, she probably still had a few more days before she really transformed, that was typical… she had heard her father explain it enough to know what to expect, even without his immediate help. He said that it started with little electric shocks. He said you dreamed of flying every night, sometimes even willing yourself to hover a little over the covers, even without wings.

She remembered how Jay had drifted, eerily asleep and unaware, all the way into the hallway one night, with his bed-sheets trailing on the ground from his levitating form. You would find yourself taken over completely by your emotions, as if you had no control or self will. You had to be careful during these mood swings, because it was very likely you might hurt the people around you.

There were also hallucinations and chronic spells of dizziness and giddiness that often were quite inappropriate. Even if Li began to do all of this, it was doubtful that they would admit that she was changing. Probably, they could chalk all of it up to normal human teenager behaviour.

Spinning a cocoon was the part that Li was most worried about.