Oi! This is my favorite so far... The writing gets better as you go. (I've gotten better...) PLEASE, review! Few things make me happier!
Part 1: Revelations
His name was Fillin Adulphus. He moved in about a block away from me, was in my grade, and had short red hair and hazel eyes. He was quiet, stayed out of the way of people. Though I don't think many people noticed him staring, he always did, intently watching his surroundings. I'd never heard him talk unless he was spoken to, as if starting a conversation would put him in danger. He was always weary, especially when he caught sight of me.
My friends always said he was pretty normal when they were around him; I wasn't so sure. I'd see him in the hallways: he always seemed to be trying to stay calm, but as soon as he caught a glimpse of me or my scarlet colored hair, his muscular body went rigid and his eyes strained ahead. For the month he'd been in Apple Hill, he had refused to talk to me. Even when I first met him- my parents had dragged me over to greet the new neighbors- he backed into the corner of the entryway and stared at his feet.
"Hey, my name is Andi Otsandra," I had introduced myself, feeling oddly compelled to say my full name.
He'd flinched as I spoke, but still responded, "Hello. I'm Fillin Adulphus."
I forced my icy blue eyes to appear welcoming. "Maybe you could hang out with my friends and me sometime. I'm sure they'd love to meet you."
"No, I'm not sure they would," He had said grimly, and walked away.
I knew he was wrong of course. My friends never had any problem with him. In fact, other than Lyall, they all seemed very curious of him. But what Lyall said was law to us; he was the unpronounced leader of the group, the oldest. To others, he seemed as quiet as Fillin. To the rest of us, of course, he was anything but. If Lyall thought he was right, he would argue until you backed down; he was like a pit bull when he decided something. And what Lyall had decided was that Fillin was off-limits. Everyone had argued with him, except for me. Sure, I tried, but Lyall wouldn't even listen to my argument.
"But, Lyall, he's a nice guy," I pleaded with him one day, "He's just quiet."
"I don't care what you think of him, Andi. I don't want you hanging out with him," Lyall had growled, "And if I see you so much as speak a word to him, I'll have you stranded on a desert island."
I'd smirked. "That's impossible; you can't stick me on an island."
"Then I'll find someplace else to stash you until you're sixteen," He countered grimly.
Not the 'sixteen' crap again, I thought. "What is this about me turning sixteen!? And what does that have to do with Fillin!?"
And, just like I knew he would, he walked away.
Shaylin, we call her Shay, was the most defiant of us; when Lyall had decided against Fillin, she fought the hardest. She pestered him day and night about how unfair it was that we weren't allowed to talk to him, especially for me. I wasn't sure how it was worse for me, but I knew it was true. Perhaps it was because I met him first.
But, she was the one who changed everything when the whole lot of us was hiking in the woods that night. Little Shay, who was about my height despite being two years older than me, confronted Lyall, who loomed over her like a giant. Her golden, hawk-like eyes were blazing and her cropped, pale blonde hair was practically standing on end with fury. She looked straight into his hard brown eyes, which I had never been brave enough to do, and whispered something to him. I couldn't catch what she said, but it sounded like a threat.
"You wouldn't," Lyall growled.
"Try me." She smirked, narrowing her hawkish eyes.
He ran a hand through his short black hair. "You'd blow it for all of us. You'd put her in danger. And, for what? For her to meet someone that we know nothing about?"
"You know as well as I do that he's more than someone, and we know plenty about him," She snapped.
Lon, who was about 17, patted Shay on the shoulder. He had shaggy golden hair, deep blue eyes, and was as tall as Lyall; his hand looked like a paw weighing tiny Shay down. "Come on. Just relax. It's not worth fighting with him."
Shay shrugged him off. "That's why I'm not fighting. I'm demanding he see reason. I'm tired of hiding this."
"You've only just turned 16. I understand why it's hard, but we can't have anything happen for two more years. You waited, so will she." Lyall stared her down.
"Well, she's different. She deserves to know," Shay said defiantly, "There's a reason we're here, and we can't always be."
Nita and Todd had been listening quietly with me. Todd, edgy as he always was, kept shifting his weight. He had red hair like me, and his bright green eyes changed direction constantly. Nita stood like a stone pillar, her long brown hair framing her face and making her dark brown eyes seem even shadier.
"Well, she is listening and probably starting to piece a few things together," Nita interrupted, "That, and if you make Todd any more nervous, he's going to start shifting more than his weight."
Shifting more than his weight? I thought, Is that possible?
"I'm fine," Todd murmured.
Nita cast him a long look. "You're losing it, and you know it. It's fine; you're early."
"Lon, take him ahead, will you? We don't want any incidents," Lyall sighed.
And now I had pieced enough together to be mad. I'd always known my friends hid something from me, but now they were talking about it in front of my face, talking like I wasn't there. Nita was right; I had figured some things out.
"Alright!" I yelled at them, "Someone is going to tell me what is going on."
Lon stopped with his hand on Todd's shoulder. Todd was shivering, twitching.
"Lon, get him out of here!" Lyall demanded, but it was too late.
Todd's body was losing form, red fur was engulfing his body, something was growing out of the end of his spine, and he was shrinking. In a few seconds, a red fox with a bushy, white-tipped tail took Todd's place. It looked at me with bright green eyes that finally seemed relaxed.
"It seems I didn't have to do anything." Shay smirked.
Lyall whipped around at her. "Do you realize what this means?! It means we have to completely change tactics to do our job. It will be harder to keep track. And now, she might end up early."
"That's the thing, Lyall; she can handle being early. Todd was just too edgy," Shay explained.
The fox barked at her and narrowed its eyes.
She glared at it. "You know it's true."
I was still in shock. Todd was now a fox. How was that possible?
"I guess we should explain." Lon shrugged.
"Don't you dare, Lon," Lyall snarled at him.
Lon grinned lazily and began to do the same thing Todd did. He shrank, though not nearly as much, his spine stretched a good 2.5 feet longer, and his body was enveloped in golden fur. His muscles became more pronounced, and he fell on all fours. The rest of his body short haired, he had a long mane around his neck. Lon was a lion.
Nita was laughing, and I had no idea why. That is, until I saw Todd the Fox cower away from Lon the Lion. He fell over himself and hid behind Nita. Then something went off in his mind and he appeared again, head lowered.
Nita bent down to stroke him. "It's okay. Animal instincts do that. We all freak out when the Lion comes out. Except me, of course." She grinned.
I was a bit freaked out. Not so much that there was now a lion sitting two yards away from me, but that it had once been Lon. Also, that Todd the Fox was afraid of him. Todd the Person stayed by Lon like a little kid following his big brother around.
Now, Lyall was glaring at Shay and Nita. "Don't you two dare."
Shay turned to me. "Andi, you know my full name is Shaylin Falk."
"Yeah," I confirmed.
"Well, you know Lon is a lion and Todd is a fox. Do you know what I am?" She asked.
"How should I know?"
Lyall sighed, giving up, "What she means is our names say what animal we are."
"Shay, Lon, and Todd aren't names of animals," I pointed out.
"They mean animals though," Shay scoffed.
"Lon means Lion, Todd means fox, and Shay means falcon. Usually our last names mean the same animal or some kind of noble title to add, like Lon Ambrose. Ambrose means immortal," Lyall explained.
Nita stepped in, "And Nita means bear."
"So if you're named after a certain animal you can shift into that animal?" I asked.
"The other way around, kid. You're named after the animal you will be able to shift to. It carries through families. That's why the last name usually means the same animal." Nita clarified.
I turned to Lyall. "So what does Lyall mean?"
He smirked. "It means shield wolf."
"I probably should have figured that one out," I laughed.
Lyall frowned. "Why?"
"Because that's exactly what you act like as a human, and you said the wolf is your favorite," I explained.
"Oh," He said.
We stood in silence for a while; Lon and Rowan shifted back.
"You still haven't asked the most important question…" Lyall whispered.
"What?" I asked, confused.
Shay's mouth dropped. "What you are, of course!"
"What do you mean?" I flinched.
Lyall explained slowly, "You're a shift-shaper, too, Andi."
I shook my head vigorously. "No, I'm not. Andi means warrior."
"True," Lon said, "But your last name, Otsandra, means she-wolf."
My eyes widened. "I'm a wolf?"
"Of Co-"Shay started to say.
"Not yet," Lyall interrupted her.
"You're not supposed to find out until you're 16," Nita explained.
I gasped, "So that's what all this is about me turning 16!"
"Yeah," Todd murmured
"But wait," I narrowed my eyes at Todd, "You're only 15."
"I was early," Todd whispered, pained.
Lon messed up Todd's hair. "This kid was snooping around and found out before he was ready. Now, he can't control his changing very well. Good thing you're small, dude."
Todd looked up at Lon admiringly. "Yeah, I'm no lion prowling around school."
Lon laughed warmly, like he always did. "You only wish."
"Does that mean I'm going to change without meaning to, like him?" I asked, a bit panicked.
"Not until you try shifting first. And plus, you're stronger than Todd; you should be able to handle it a bit easier," Lyall reassured me.
"Should I try?" I asked.
"Well, we'll see," Lyall hesitated, "I don't recommend doing it right now. If your animal instincts overcame you, we wouldn't be able to keep track of you very easily. And…" He trailed off.
"What?" I demanded.
Shay giggled, "You don't know how to keep your clothes with you when you shift. Lyall's too much of a wimp to say it, 'cause he didn't know his first time. It was a bit awkward for him to change back."
"Even I heard enough to figure it out," Todd grinned.
"No one told me," Lyall muttered, a blush turning his tan skin red.
Lon patted him on the back. "It's okay dude. I almost did the same thing. Almost."
"Yeah," Lyall scoffed, "Thanks."
"Come on, Lyall!" Todd pleaded, "Let her try tonight!"
Lyall hesitated again, "I don't know. Not here, at least."
"Then we can take her back to my place," Nita suggested. She had an acre of fenced in forest in her backyard.
"Yes! That's where I changed!" Shay exclaimed, "It's perfect."
Lon laughed, "Yeah, that's where you changed. The difference is, when you changed, we had to put up a net."
Shay giggled, "Even that could barely hold me."
"I guess…" Lyall sighed, "But it's up to Andi."
I only had one question left. "What's it feel like?"
Lyall finally smiled. "You'll have to feel it for yourself, but don't worry; it's not painful."
"Alright," I said, "Let's do it."
Review! Review! And thanks so much for reading!