Ahh, chapter forty-eight. Sorry for the delay. My baby Blaze died suddenly Feb. 22, the day after I last updated this, and I just lost inspiration. I haven't really written anything since then. Plus I've been pretty sick the past two weeks. Feel like crap. Oh well.

I am debating about a sequel for this story. But either way, the ending is still a ways off (I have a lot to happen even if there is a sequel and I don't have to put it all in one book) so expect a lot more chapters.

I was half asleep when I wrote this chapter. Litereally half way through I had to stop because I didn't know what I was writing anymore. Other stuff kept seeping in. But oh well, it's uploaded now ;) I feel Terry is a little cavalier here, but I guess it's in good humor? Hmm.

Anyway, thanks for all the reviews last chapter :3 I appreciate them all!

Onward!


Chapter Forty-Eight: No Fear for My Life

"Wrong."

I sighed and shifted my posture a little, spreading my legs out a little further, struggling to balance myself while taking up as little amount of space as possible. Kieron walked around me, eyes roaming up and down me, then his hand reached out and latched onto my wrist. He twisted it somewhat, and then nodded to himself, satisfied as he stepped back somewhat.

"Better," he said, "now tighten your hold. Like I told you before."

I gripped the handle of the knife tightly. It was a little knife, a measly kitchen one and nothing like the ones we'd been dealing with before we'd been captured and whatnot, but at least it was something. It was definitely a step up from forks, after all. I held the knife not with a rigid grip but more relaxed, yet forceful and firm, as well. When Kieron nodded instead of scowling, I felt a smile cross my face.

I did something right for once! Hah!

He walked around me again, and then stopped in front of me. Stepped back a few paces, watching me. Then he waved his hand for me to come forward, and I started to step toward him when he scowled and shook his head.

"Attack me," he said, like I should have known, and I simply blinked at him. "C'mon – this is training, human. You can't hurt me."

Pretty sure I can. I mean, I've seen you bleed. A lot.

"Come on," he said with an irritated sigh, and I knew I had to do as he said because we'd already been practicing for hours.

I'd attacked him a lot more than I wanted to in that amount of time, and had yet to be able to even knick him. Once the blade swiped into his shirt, but that was as far as it go, because as soon as I saw that happening, I dropped the knife and stepped back. He growled at me for it but I wasn't going to hurt him.

"Pretend I'm a screamer."

I rolled my eyes. "You're obviously not a screamer."

"I could be."

"Pfft. No you couldn't."

"Oh?" He cocked a brow at me. I envied him for that. I tried to do that and everyone laughed at me and didn't take me seriously. He did it and it just worked. Damn him. "And why is that?"

"Because I'm not afraid of you."

"Am I not threatening enough?"

I laughed even though I tried to hold it back, but I couldn't help it. The tone of his voice mixed with that raised brow just had my stomach twisting in a fit of laughter. I don't think he meant it as a joke, but he said it like he was somewhat offended, and I couldn't help it.

"I don't fear for my life, no offense," I said, smiling at him.

He rolled his eyes, that brow lowered again. "I could kill you. Easily." He approached me.

"Uh huh."

"Don't doubt me."

"Nope."

His eyes narrowed. "It would be easy – just a little swipe." He walked around me, watching me, and in turn I watched him as he did so, swiveling my head toward him. "Fast, too."

"Uh huh."

"I could do it."

"You could, I guess." I grinned. "But you won't."

"Oh?"

"Nope."

"What makes you so sure?" That brow was raised again.

"You would have by now."

"Is that so?"

"Mm," I said with a nod. "I mean, I've been pretty annoying."

"Alpha, have you been annoying," he said with an irritated sigh.

"So you could have killed me earlier. But you didn't. And you won't."

"Oh? Got me figured out, huh?" he asked, stopping in front of me, and I grinned at him, nodding my head, losing my defensive grip on the knife. Not that I thought he'd attack me, I just kept it up in case he was judging me for it, but I figured resting my outstretched arm would be okay for the time being.

"Yup, I so have you figured out, perpetual," I replied, watching him. "You won't hurt me."

"And why is that?"

"Because you looove me," I said in a sing-song voice, grinning as he rolled his eyes again. "Admit it, Kie – you love me. You adore me. C'mon. It's freeing to admit!"

"You are delusional. Have you suffered from insanity long?" he asked as he stepped away from me, turning his back to me as he walked back toward where he stood earlier.

"Suffered? Nah. Been enjoying it, though," I said to his back. "C'mon. Kie. Say it. Admit it. You love me."

"Attack me."

"Admit it."

"Human."

"Kieron."

He turned back to face me, standing where he stood earlier, and I grinned at him. He shook his head and gestured at the blade in my hand, waving with his fingers, an irritated little motion which beckoned me forward.

I sighed and looked down at the blade in my hand, then back at Kieron. "I don't want to attack you. Don't we have something else I can attack? You know – something with less blood?"

"The minute you make me bleed, human," Kieron said with an upward quirk of his lips, "is the minute you no longer need my services."

I rolled my eyes. "Yeah, yeah, promises, promises. Can't I practice on a tree?"

"A tree cannot defend itself. You wish to attack the weak and helpless?"

"It's just a tree."

"Which cannot fight."

"Kie, c'mon – why are you being difficult?"

Now he narrowed his eyes at me, lips pursing together into a thin white line. "If we had time for you to start out practicing on a tree, then by all means, I would have you slay the tree. But we don't have that kind of time. You are being hunted, human. While they don't want you dead, they are still after you."

I swallowed. "I know, but-"

"We don't have time for trivial practice. You need to practice with a moving target, and all you have is me," he said, eyes narrowed and locked onto mine, holding my gaze even as I tried to look away, because a part of me knew he was right. "So get back into position, and pretend I'm a screamer."

I sighed and shifted back into the stance I'd been in previously, holding the knife as he'd shown me earlier. Then I took in a breath, and charged forward, toward him, hoping he'd move.

He didn't. He just stood there.

I got closer.

He did not move.

I pulled my slash at the last minute, having the blade swipe sideways, away from him, as I came to a halt just in front of him. Grip tight on the blade, I glanced at his face to find him watching me.

"You shouldn't pull your blow," he said with a heavy sigh.

"You weren't moving," I grumbled. "You're supposed to defend yourself."

"And if you see a chance to attack without movement, you take it," he told me, and I felt like I was a five-year-old getting lectured for doing something wrong in school.

"But you're supposed to move – I mean, you did say moving target. And you weren't moving." I narrowed my eyes at him.

He shrugged, a lazy roll of his broad yet slim shoulders, a conundrum. Or perhaps that was just my mind, infusing my knowledge of his actual strength with his actual size. His size belittled him, really – made him look smaller, less threatening, especially to people like Rufus and John, who couldn't see him as I could. I figured Kieron probably used this to his advantage a lot.

"I wanted to see if you would do as I said," he said, shaking his head, "and you failed."

"Sorry, but I'm not going to cut you just because you're having some masochistic tendencies," I said, glaring at him. Did he really expect me to just attack him while he stood there and didn't even both to defend himself? What the hell?

"You haven't been trying as hard as you can."

"Because I don't want to hurt you!" Had he not been listening to anything I said?

"If I thought you could really hurt me, we wouldn't be having this conversation," he said, sighing. "At the most you might slice me, but that's it, and it will heal. Okay? Is that what you want to hear? It will heal."

"No," I hissed, taking a step back, "that's not what I want to hear. Have you not been listening to me? I don't want to hurt you! I don't care if you heal or not, I don't want to cut you!"

He scrubbed a hand across his face, brushing back sweaty bangs, leaving a small trail of dirt on his forehead. "That is enough for today. We will train more tonight."

I swallowed and watched as he sidestepped me and walked back toward the small house we'd been staying in for the past few days. Kieron was right; no one had returned yet, and it did seem like they were gone for a while. Perhaps on vacation. Did Etherians take vacations? Hmm. Either way, the house was empty for the time being, and it was ours. Thus far it was safe, and I knew Kieron snuck out in the middle of the night to scout the area, despite how much I wanted him to stay in the house, undetected. I knew why he did it, and I knew it was logical, but that didn't mean I had to like it.

He usually did it when I was asleep, but I caught him sneaking out once, through the window. Had a nightmare and woke up and caught him leaving. He said he was just getting some fresh air. Hours later he still wasn't back, but my skin wasn't itching or burning so I didn't worry about it too much. He was a lot better now – the 'poison' was out of his system and he was healing quite nicely. Kind of slow compared to the other times he healed, but it was coming along very well.

Now I watched as he disappeared into the house, leaving the door open in his wake. I sighed, scrubbed a hand across my face, and then walked toward the open doorway. My muscles ached and my head hurt. Sleep sounded marvelous at the moment, and maybe some food.

Mmm…food…

I poked my head into the kitchen and found Kieron cooking. I stared for a long moment, hiding a smile. He was a good cook, really. It was just odd, thinking of him as one. Made me laugh.

"What's so funny?" he asked, sparing me a brief glance.

"Nothing," I said, dropping my knife onto the kitchen table. "I'm gonna shower. Let me know when the food is done."

"Who says I'm cooking for you?"

I just grinned at him and left the room, heading toward the bathroom. I couldn't wait to step into the hot water and relieve some of this tension in my shoulders. Then I could eat and sleep and be refreshed and…ready for tonight.

Ugh. More training.

Don't get me wrong, I don't hate it. I know it's necessary. Doesn't mean I like it.

I was never one for the rough and physical work, and I certainly didn't want to hurt anyone, but it was a necessity here. Screamers might not want me dead now, but they wanted Kieron dead. They wanted everyone who got in their way dead. They'd kill them without a second thought. If I could do something, I had to stop them. I had no hope of simply overpowering them – the very idea was absurd – but maybe, by training, I could find a way to outmaneuver them. Kieron knew a lot of their moves. He also was an experienced fighter, and thus the best teacher, right?

That didn't mean I had to like fighting him. Especially when he stood there like an idiot and refused to move or defend himself from the pathetic human.

It was as I was stepping into the shower that it happened.

I was just stepping into the spray of water when the door to the bathroom flew open and Kieron barreled in, a snarl on his face and a certain glow in his eyes I couldn't place. I blinked at him, suddenly aware the shower curtain was not yet all the way closed. Quickly I ducked behind it and held onto its soft and damp edges.

"What's going on?" I asked.

Kieron gave me a look and put a finger to his lips. I swallowed and nodded before gesturing at the shower. The sound of water was a pretty recognizable noise. He hesitated but then nodded and I shut the water off. After a few loud drips, the room fell silent, and I nearly yelped when something was pushed into the palm of my hand.

I blinked down at the knife, the one I put on the kitchen table. In Kieron's other hand he held another blade, similar to my own. I took my blade and nodded. I wasn't sure what was happening but I knew it couldn't be good, and having a weapon could come in handy.

Kieron paused and opened his mouth, tongue lapping out across his lips before it darted back into his mouth. His nose twitched and then he growled, watching the door like a cornered animal, back arched and everything, fingers now deadly claws.

The knob twisted. Rattled. Floorboards creaked.

Then the door opened. All I saw was a blue blur as Kieron dashed out of the bathroom and flew through the air, attacking whoever dared to open the bathroom door, and I'm ashamed to admit I cowered in the shower. Sorry. Remember I'm pretty naked here and I am not a fighter.

I watched around the curtain as Kieron raised his blade and slashed at his attacker. The howl which escaped whatever it was Kieron hit left me breathless, because I knew that sound.

Screamers. They found us already. They were here. How many? Just this one? Surely others would be coming soon.

With a growl I darted out of the shower and quickly tugged on some pants – fuck the underwear for now, I need pants – and then darted out of the room, gaze locking onto the screamer fighting with Kieron.

Kieron seemed to have it under control. Whatever weakness he previously suffered seemed to have worn off by now. His moves were quick and agile, graceful as he sidestepped a deadly swipe of vicious claws and used his momentum to leap onto and off the wall and back at the screamer. He twisted in mid-air and caught the screamer in the face with his foot. A small gash was left in its wake, and some odd bruising, but the screamer didn't seem to mind the new scars.

Instead it focused its gaze on me, and I felt my stomach churn as my mind came to a stop.

It looked at me.

Right at me.

"Human."

Like it knew…but knew what, I didn't know. I knew I didn't like it watching me like that, with those creepy discolored eyes. A slow smirk worked its way onto the screamer's face as it took a step toward me. I took a step back just as Kieron stepped between the two of us, back to me, hands held out at the ready in front of him as he faced the screamer. In his right hand he held the knife.

"Human."

I blinked. "Yes?"

"Run."

"I'm not running!" Why did he keep telling me to run, then proceed to train me so I wouldn't run? Wouldn't have to run?

"Damn it, Terry, there's more on the way," Kieron hissed, shoulders tense, all hunched up and knotted, muscles shifting occasionally. He'd expressed a few of his wolfish features, and his fuzzy ear twitched back, listening for me.

"More? More screamers?"

"Yes, human, so run!"

"I can't-"

"Damn it-"

Whatever he was about to say was cut off as the window in the bedroom exploded. The sound rumbled through the floorboards and left me swallowing thickly. To Kieron's right, another screamer emerged from down the hallway from the bedroom, snarling as it stood a lot closer to Kieron than I liked.

Kieron glanced at the new screamer, ear twitching again.

"Human," he said quietly, and I glanced at him. He was mostly just in front of me, and he was speaking softly, but I had a pretty good idea the screamers could hear him as well.

"Yeah?" I whispered back.

"Time for that tree," he said.

I blinked at him. "Huh?"

"Human. The tree."

I have no idea what you are saying to me…

"The tree," he said, and I stared at him.

Tree?

Last time we talked about trees, it was when we were training, and-

"Oh," I whispered as it hit me, and he gave a tense nod before focusing his gaze back on the screamer in front of him, ignoring the screamer to his right at the moment. The screamer smirked and stepped forward, like Kieron made a mistake, but I knew better.

Just as it was about to lunge forward and tackle him, I did the same to it. I was surprised when I managed to knock it to the ground, and wide eyes stared back at him, obviously shocked. Without thinking I rose the blade and slashed downward, managing to scrape it across the chest before it howled and threw me off. I hit the wall, winded, and then struggled to my feet as the screamer stomped toward me, odd blood seeping from the wound on its chest. It was deeper than I thought it would be but obviously wasn't slowing it down any.

I wasn't sure what Kieron was doing but he seemed busy. I could hear the sounds of a scuffle but didn't dare look away as the screamer came toward me, my back against the wall. I had nowhere to go and it was watching me intently. If I tried to run I'd die. Maybe it had orders not to kill me, but the look in those eyes said otherwise. This was revenge – I surprised it, hurt it, and now I would die.

It lunged forward. I held the blade out and closed my eyes because I knew I couldn't move, had no hope of doing so, and only hoped the knife did at least some damage to it before it killed me.

The blow never came, though, and I snapped my eyes open to find the screamer on its knees in front of me. Kieron yanked his knife out of the screamer's back and nodded at me, waving me away, and I slipped away from the wall and down the hallway, toward the bedroom. The other screamer lunged at Kieron, angry cuts across its face, and Kieron spun, growling as the knife was flung from his grasp.

"Kieron!" I tossed my blade at him.

He caught it with ease and swiped just as the screamer lunged at him, catching it across the throat. The creature staggered back, snarling, and then darted out the open door. I stepped toward Kieron when he didn't move, and found that the other screamer was gone as well. Not dead on the ground, but gone like the other one. Maybe they really were cowards.

"Are you okay?"

I blinked because those words were not my own. Focusing again on Kieron, I found him watching me. "Yeah, I'm fine," I said. "You?"

He had a cut across his left cheek but otherwise appeared fine, thankfully. "I'm good." There was a pause and then he sighed. "You did a good job today."

I smiled at the praise, despite my earlier fear at the screamers' presence. "Thanks! But I had a good teacher."

He shrugged and turned away from me, facing the kitchen. "There will be more."

"I know."

"We need to leave. It isn't safe anymore."

"I know."

As I stepped toward him, he slid his gaze toward me, watching me. "You seem far too relaxed for someone who could have died today."

I smiled and shook my head. "I wasn't going to die."

It was true screamers were dangerous, but I hadn't been as terrified as I had been before. I knew they were dangerous, knew what they were capable of, but I didn't run, didn't hesitate when slicing into that screamer, and that put me in a better mood because for once, I wasn't some helpless little human who needed saving all the time.

"Oh?"

"Nope – because we make a pretty good team, huh?"

He scoffed and shook his head.

"Admit it, Kie – we do."

"I am going to pack."

With that, he left the room, neither confirming or denying my statement, and I smiled after him.


And there's that chapter. Not much was explained, unfortunately, but I tried. Thanks for reading and please review!

~Averick~