Heeey everybody! Sorry for the really late update; there's really no excuse for tardiness :( I hope I didn't keep anyone waiting too long... actually, that's a bit selfish. It's been like, two months.

Anyway. So after this chapter is where things start to get a bit interesting. And FYI, I'm writing this in Word Document on my computer, and with the font size and headings and all that jazz, I'm near my goal of 300 pages. So after a few more chapters, this story will actually be finished! But if you really enjoy it, never fear! This is a series, so there are a lot more books to come :D

So thanks for reading this, as usual :D You know I love my viewers. And please, PLEASE R&R! Your reviews always inspire me to keep on writing.

With that, let us begin Chapter X!

Chapter X

Being Alone Is Lonely…

For a few moments, the only sounds to be heard were the rushing water fall and rustling of flowers as a spring breeze blew through the small meadow. Then, like putting gas on a fire, everything exploded at once.

"Azul, look out! Silver!" Luke yelled over the girl, laughing yet again.

"No, Luke, silver doesn't-" I tried, but her laughter just kept increasing like a crescendo.

"DIE!" She screamed at me, preparing to pull the trigger.

But before the gun could fire, she slipped and fell down the small waterfall, screaming like a child.

She fell in the pond with a large splash, then started flailing about like a bird having a seizure. "Help!" She screamed, the gun discarded. "I can't swim!"

Luke and I exchanged a withering and bewildered glance. What the hell was going on? I warily paddled forward, grabbed her small, drowning figure, and pulled her back to shore. She coughed and sputtered and flopped around, the most bizarre thing I've seen in a while.

"Dear God, she really was drowning," Luke observed, realizing it wasn't a ploy.

"I don't even know what just happened," I snorted, shaking my wet head.

Finally, the girl stopped spasming, and was just gasping for breath. Her bangs still covered her eyes, now the wet colour of a dull orange.

"Oh, thank you," she breathed, sitting up in the now crushed flowers.

"Um, no problem?" I said, confused.

"AH!" She said suddenly, bursting into a standing position. "Right! I came here to kill you!"

"You forgot?"

"I WAS DROWNING!"

"Some murderer you are."

She stomped her feet angrily. "I can't help it! Cats don't like water!"

Cats? Now that she mentioned it, I could feel a demonic aura coming off of her, dark and menacing. The same one I felt at Wendy's. She really was following me, trying to kill me.

"Are you a nekomata?" I asked her. Luke gave me a confused look.

She straightened and coughed awkwardly. "Yes, I am. My name is Felina Wilde, a proud member of the Mamoru Pride, here on behalf of the Council to bestow punishment upon Azul Dulcina."

"You're lying," I said instantly, shocking the both of them.

She began to sweat nervously. "Wh-why do you say that?"

"First, you'd call me by my full name if you were truly a representitive," I explained in a bored voice, ticking it off with my fingers.

"Strike one," Luke called.

I glared at him. "Second, the Council is the definition of serious and professional. No way in hell would they send an amateur like you on a slaying mission."

"Ohhh, strike two," Luke chuckled as she looked majorly offended.

"And third, they'd never give away their own name. The look on your face tells me that you never even considered giving me an alias."

"Strike three and you're out!" Luke yelled with a laugh.

She fell to her knees, defeated. "What are you even doing?" I asked Luke.

"Helping."

"How so?"

"I'm so done with you and your obliviousness."

Felina finally recovered, sitting tall yet again. "Okay, so I'm not a part of the Council, and I'm not a hitman. I am, however, still going to kill you."

I snorted. "Sure, that's going to happen."

"True that," Luke agreed.

"Why are you so bent on killing me, anyway?" I asked, tilting my head to the side. "I don't remember doing anything wrong to you."

She flinched. "You haven't."

"Then why?"

"Because… because… I have nothing better to do, okay?!" She broke into fake sobs, making Luke and I edge back bit by bit.

"Maybe it's an actual ploy this time," Luke whispered.

"I don't know. I can sense lies, being what I am, and she seems to be telling the truth. Plus, she was in Wendy's earlier. Why would a demon be alone in Wendy's?"

"Ha ha, what a lonely person."

"I'm a demon, too," she interjected. "I can hear you loud and clear."

Luke looked away, trying not to laugh and failing. I swat him on the arm.

"If you have nothing better to do," I suggested calmly. "Go pick on someone your own size and don't psyche them out about the Council."

"No, the Council really wants to bring you in for questioning," she said suddenly, looking up at me (I still couldn't even see her eyes).

I snapped my head towards her. "What. Why."

She shrugged. "It's been going around the demon world. Azul Dulcina, attacked by these creatures of Darkness no one has seen before. Of course the Council wants to question you."

Shock contorted my once calm features. "No one has seen those things before? And how would they even know about it?"

"They had an anonymous tip from an onibaba." Go figure. "And no, they haven't even shown themselves since. They're just after you."

"Are you a cat demon?" Luke interjected suddenly.

"Yes," Felina rolled her eyes. "I hail from Mexico."

"Oh my God, are you a Chubacabra?!"

"No," I said like he was dumb. "Chubacabras are Chubacabras, nekomatas are nekomatas. Why are you even getting them confused?"

He threw his hands in the air exaggeratingly. "Excuse me for not being educated on demon races."

"By the way," Felina said, her mouth becoming confused. "Why are you hanging with a human?"

"Because he's dumb," I told her with a smile. Luke knocked me on the head.

"I can see that." He turned on her, bearing human teeth and trying to be intimidating. "But why are you letting him?"

I thought for a moment. Then I smiled sadly and said, "Because I have no one else." He rubbed my back tenderly. I shivered at the gesture. God, why did he have to do that to me?

She nodded. "I know that feel, bro, I know that feel." Her terminology confused me. "I was alone at Wendy's because I have no one else, too."

"Care to share why?"

Distraction was a success. She settled deeply into the ground, preparing to tell her life's story. "I was born at home, like all demons. The midwife took one look at me and said, 'This child will be different than the rest'. My family hadn't believed her, and kicked her out the second she said that, snatching me out of her arms. But as the years began to pass, they realized she was right.

"I was fascinated with humans society and science. I guess you could call it an obsession, actually. It didn't take long before I was building and inventing things, not even training to be a proper nekomata. My large family felt so much shame and scorn in society. I always showed off my inventions, weapons and the like, and they all laughed at me. I was sick of feeling depressed and like a freak. So I ran away. My family didn't even bother to stop me."

She fingered her long bangs, forever hiding her eyes. "I hid my eyes from humans sight because I knew they would freak people out. Then I took all of my work and dreams to humans society. They all thought I was nuts. No matter where I went, I was a freak. I never, ever found anyone like me.

"But then I heard the news about you. That you were a complete failure as a demon." Strike one on me. "I thought you were like me. So I came to find you. I… was just lonely."

She curled into a ball, resting her head on her knees. "Being alone is lonely."

I could sympathise with her, sort of anyway. I looked to Luke to see if he felt the same way, but he was konked out beside me, snoring softly. Prick.

"I'm not… like that," I said, choosing my words carefully. "But I know how you feel. Like, not about the family thing; mine's gone. But feeling like a freak wherever you go."

So, do you still want to kill me now?"

She shifted uncomfortably in the grass, conflicted. Right now she looked like a complete fool, coming here with one goal but having her mind completely changed within a few minutes. Pssh, I have that effect on people. Luke slid me a sidelong glance, like he knew what I was thinking about. I winked at him.

"I don't think I do," she confessed. "I never really wanted to, I just wanted to talk. I thought I wouldn't be alone anymore if I found someone like me."

"Well you haven't," I reminded her, making Luke snort. So he was pretending to be asleep, the jerk. "Just someone who's willing to be friends with you."

Even though I couldn't see it well, I knew her face brightened. "Awesome!"

"As you know, I'm Azulismiyarah Dulcina," I started, putting my thumb to my chest. "But people just call me Azul. And this is Luke Cruz, my human buddy who is not to be harmed."

"Charmed, I'm sure," he said, giving me reason to slap him upside the head.

She cocked her head to the side. "You never did tell me why you're friends with a human."

I heaved a sigh. "It's kind of a long story. Do you have the time?" I asked Luke, who pulled out his cell phone and grimaced.

"It's time to get you home, Foxy." He hefted himself up and thrust out his hand for me to take (which I didn't hesitate in doing, this time).

"Cruz."

"When are you ever going to call me by my name?"

"Call me Foxy again, and you're dead."

"Why? You're a fox, and quite foxy."

"Is this another word that somehow got warped into an adjective?"

"Wait!" Felina called to us, nearing the sheer of moss. "When will I see you guys again? Where do you even live?"

I grinned. "Enroll in Crescent Academy, and you'll find us soon enough." With that, we took our leave.

Luke heaved a large sigh as we began walking down the forest trail again, the sunlight that streamed through the trees beginning to fade away. "I just wanted to go to school like a normal kid, but now I have two demons to deal with. Who would've thought."

Ignoring that, I gestured up to the sunlight. "Don't they have a name for that?"

He glanced up, making the sun glaze over his eyes and turn them golden. "There might be. I don't remember, though."

"It's weird," I confessed, trying not to look at him with my blushing face. "I never really learned about it, because I was never supposed to be in the sun. But now I'm being forced to live in the world of it."

He was quiet for a minute, then he asked me "Do you miss it?"

I didn't have to ask what. "I never stopped missing it from the moment I left. Sure, Onibaba and Marcus were brutal, but that was my home. And I never went out in the sun. I've never seen a sunrise. I've only watched it set, plunging the world into darkness."

"That sounded awfully emo." I elbowed him in the ribs. "Put that on your list of things to do in the human world."

"What?"

"Watch a sunrise." He stopped walking for a minute, to meet my blue eyes. "With me."

"I thought that was implied," I blushed, looking away.

He grinned. "That's good then." As we began walking again, he continued with his one thousand questions. "Are you ever going back?"

"If- I mean, when Marcus gets better." My voice had gone cold, not wanting to think about the possibility of Marcus never getting better. "I have to continue my training. It's my duty."

For a while, the only sound to be heardwas the wildlife and the wind whistling through the leaves. I was so used to seeing a celestial pink in the trees at this time of year that the green leaves seemed foreign and overwhelming to my oversensitive eyes. I could've sworn I sigh a ball of light dart through some leaves, and grinned.

"I won't get to see you ever again when that happens," Luke said at last, startling me from staring at the onibi warashi.

"Oh," I breathed, reality finally sinking in. I hadn't thought of that. Actually, I hadn't thought about when I had to leave at all. I'd never see this much green again. I'd never be able to see snow. I'd never be able to go to school.

I'd... never see Luke again.

I didn't understand why, but this reality devasted me. Never again would I see his smile, so filled with life and mundane, despite all the horror that he had been through over the years. As I continued to live far into the future, the flame of his human life would sputter out, and I'd be alone again. He was going to fall in love with a beautiful mortal woman, get married, have children. And I would be as still as a statue, guarding Kaguya's celestial palace in the Netherworld. Our lives would be so different, so far apart that we'd forget all about the other.

Luke gasped from beside me, startling me out of my depression.

"Is that... you?" He asked me, pointing to something ahead of us.

With a wary gaze, I turned my head to stare ahead of us. Our steps faltered as we both gazed upon a figure that stood before us, with short white hair that curled at the ends, big azure eyes, and a glare so flat and cold that it could've turned someone to ice. She was dressed in all dark clothing, a black leather jacket, black short shorts, a dark blue tank top, and black combat boots. But she had an eerie blue glow around her, making me breathe a sigh of relief.

"I think so," I breathed. "But it's not real. It's an onibi warashi, or will-o'-the-whisp taking the form of me. Or in this case, me a few years ago, I think. I don't remember what I looked like."

He was giving me a horrified look. "Don't will-o'-the-whisps lure you to your doom?"

I rolled my eyes. "Not if you're aware of what they're doing. I saw it earlier, flitting about in the trees, so it must've seen me and taken a hidden memory." I skimmed over my younger self and frowned. "Man, I looked rough. Why was my hair so short? It grows back a week later even if I cut it."

"Demon thing?"

"Yup."

"Well, maybe you cut it over and over again."

I was getting impatient. "But why would I do that?"

"How the hell should I know?"

"Okay, let's go. This thing is just making us mad." He shrugged and we began walking again, the motorcycle coming into sight through the trees.

But before we could reach it, I heard the younger version of my voice call out "It's inevitable."

I froze midstep. Slowly turned back to face it. "What... did you just say...?"

It grinned, looking severely eerie. "It's inevitable... Nirvana."

And then it disappeared into a ball of glowing blue light and darted away, erupting with giggles the entire time.

Luke cocked his head to the side. "What's the matter?" He placed his hand on the small of my back, making me shiver and come back to reality.

"Nothing, nothing," I said, shaking my head and spilling white hair on his chest. "I'm just... imagining things."

How in the hell did that onibi warashi know what that girl in the dream said to me? Granted, it could have pulled it out of my memory. But somehow that didn't feel right. It felt like it knew itself. And what did 'Nirvana' mean?

And… why did my eyes look so sad and empty?

I was probably looking into it too much. But I couldn't help but imagine that little girl, the me when I was young, against a red sky, cold eyes piercing, and blood dripping from her little claws.

"Azul, look out!" Luke yelled, but it was too late. The last thing I saw was him and the motorcycle, standing against the highway, before I felt the impact of the large tree root hit my foot and I ate dirt.

Coughing as I sat up and tried not to feel the sting to my pride, I demanded, "Whatever happened to the guy saving the girl before she hit the ground?"

He was smirking. "You're a big girl; you can handle yourself."

After everything that just happened, I wasn't so sure anymore. Something was going on. The shadows I once took solace in felt like enemies now.

...

"Azul, where in the world were you?! The school called!"

I visibly cringed. Karen was home, and judging from the scent, so were Hunter and Carson. On top of that, I could smell bacon frying, but it was far too burnt. That was a bad sign. She was pissed.

She continued ranting and asking questions as Luke and I took off our boots and jackets. He looked worried, almost afraid to be here. That Karen would just kick him out because of the rumours circulating. But I knew she wouldn't. She was far too kind.

So we strode into the kitchen, and she looked up from the burnt bacon. And then numerous emotions played on her face, fear and concern the most dominant. Before she could say anything, I cut in.

"This is Luke, my friend." I put emphasis on the last word to try and console her. "He goes to the same school, and he's our neighbour. And he wouldn't hurt a fly."

Shock made her mouth fall open. And anger. She clearly told me when I first came here not to associate with the next door neighbours. And hello, look who's here.

She was clearly at a loss for words, so Luke cut in. "Hello," he said politely, trying for a calming, soft tone. "You have a lovely home."

I could tell that one little compliment almost won her over. Karen obviously took pride in her interior decorating, so one compliment had her totally sold on you. But she still looked dubious and afraid, so that wouldn't cut it this time.

She tried to refocus on the bacon, but her tiny frame was shaking slightly. "O-oh, I see," she stuttered, trying to sound calm. "Um, how did you two meet?"

Better not tell her that he almost made me road kill. "Uh, we met at school. We have the same homeroom."

"That… that makes sense. So, why were you absent from school?" She was trying to be nonchalant, but I could hear a slight tremor of anger in her voice.

I had a lie prepared immediately, as my nature implies. "I was still feeling sick this morning," I began, trying for sympathy. "And as I was walking out the door, I fainted. Luke found me on his way and took me to the hospital. Turns out, I was really dehydrated and had a sun stroke. So they gave me some pills and large amounts of water and…" I spun in a circle to show I was fine. "Taa daa."

Luke tried not to let his jaw drop at my amazing lie. Karen hardly made the effort.

To distract them from my little song and dance, I cocked my head to the side curiously. "Am I eating burnt bacon?"

Like being jolted from a dream, Karen jumped and gazed into the pan. "Oh my, I'm sorry. I haven't been… myself lately…" She kept mumbling as she tossed the bacons and put on some more.

That was weird. She was acting really different. And I didn't know if it was my imagination, but… did she seem… bigger? "Are you feeling alright?" I asked, concern sugar coating my voice.

"What?" She was clearly unfocused. "Yes, I feel fine." She tried for an easy smile, but it was tight and strained. "Just a bit tired. We're having lunch outside today. It's already ready; I was just frying up your bacon."

If she said she was fine, I wasn't going to push the subject. After all, she barely knew anything about me. And despite the copious amounts of fast food I already had today, I still had room for plenty more.

"Is it alright if Luke joins us?" I asked, much to her surprise. He shot me a warning glance, but I mouthed that it'd be fine.

She hesitated, most likely considering the family's safety and reputation. The murderer next door neighbour dining at the Greene's? The horror! But to be fair, he was a murderer, but he looked like a saint compared to me, a big, bad demon.

Regardless, being the polite woman she was, Karen said, "Of course he can."

Luke was obviously relieved. I thought he was being silly. I mean, what was the worst that could've happened? They couldn't treat him like he was some sort of monster. After all, they didn't have any proof that he was some sort of murderer. All they had was the talk of the neighbourhood and a town that needed some excitement.

I knew the lunch would be awkward, but Karen found out how nice of a guy Luke was. And how obvious it was that he wouldn't hurt anybody. So it actually turned out to be quite peaceful.

But Karen was still out of it the entire time.

And so was I.

...

Heels clacking on wet cement.

That's all that could be heard in the dark city, besides the soft patter of rain. The pace was quick, businesslike. Obviously going somewhere with a goal in mind. But where, was the question.

The dark of the night was drowning in deep, dangerous waters, not even the light of the moon to be seen. Florescent signs of neon colours blinked on and off, old and running out of gas. All the establishments were closed. The place was obviously dead, so why would anyone go through it?

Just then, another set of footsteps joined the first, but this one heavy, almost as if it was coming from a man wearing boots. The first faltered, then eventually stopped. The nearest sign blinked on, casting a neon blue glow on the one wearing heels. It was a girl, tall, but young. Her face couldn't be defined, because it was like I was watching from a third person perspective, the back seat of a car. And she stood with her back to me.

The second came to an easy stop, unlike the first. Like they anticipated her faltering. It was a man, insanely tall, wearing a long black cloak so no features could be defined.

"What do you want?" The girl asked, her tone cold and neutral.

The man threw out his arms exaggeratedly, like he was sick of her games. "I thought that would be obvious. You can't run from us, little one. Your fate is inevitable."

The girl's shoulders tensed, and I knew mine would too, if I could. That word again. I'd had about enough of it. Just then, she whirled around, and I would've gasped at the sight of her face.

It was me, about fourteen if I had to guess. My hair was just past my shoulders, pure white as always and curling at the ends, stray wisps framing my face from the rain. My skin was pallid, as per usual, and I even looked cold. I was wearing all black, like the leather jacket, leggings, and knee high stiletto boots. No wonder the heels were clacking. My eyes looked just the same as they had when the onibi warashi took my form, cold, blank, a bit sad. But now they also looked certain. Like I was about to do something that was change everything, but it would be worth it.

"Nothing has been set in stone," I said, my voice an icy wind lashing out at him. "Your plans have their faults."

"Even if you go to Kohaku, nothing will change," he sighed, gruff and irritated. I felt like I recognized the name, though it was just a tickle at the back of my mind.

"Things will change," I murmured quietly. "This is for the best. I can't let myself remember who I am, what I've done. If I did, nothing will ever change." I looked straight into the man's eyes, or which I assumed since I couldn't tell because of the hood covering his face. "But I believe that the future me without these memories will be able to do something, since she won't have all the grief I have carried."

He barked out a booming laugh, though it had no humour and was cruel. "You think you can destroy me?" He boomed, like the very thought was audacious. "Destroy her? How can you destroy something that has everything you do?"

"For that very reason. She knows things you do not. Things she knows not to say. She is a part of me," I smiled. "And the me of the future will be able to destroy her."

"And if she doesn't want to?"

The threat obviously took me by surprise by the way I jolted and stepped back. "There will be a way. Somehow, some way, she'll be destroyed. And your plans will be thwarted." My grin turned feral and frightening, something I had never seen on my face before. "The very thought that you could take on my father is laughable."

"Is that so?" I could almost see the matching smirk on his face. "Then go ahead and laugh!"
With those words, the creatures of Darkness practically melted out from the darkest corners of the street. The swirled, curved, whatever they could to get to me, expressionless but terrifying. My expression became panicked, and I frantically glanced around to find a way out. I had been surrounded.

But then I closed my eyes, clenched my tiny fists.

Azure flames erupted from my body, and the creatures reeled back in absolute horror. The man did as well, his hood tearing off to reveal the very man who must've taken me away when I was young. I knew because of his eyes, red as blood with flickering molecules. The face of evil. He looked surprised, shell shocked, even.

I was paralyzed with shock. Since when could I do that?! What did it mean?! My eyes flashed open, the same colour as the flames, and glared with everything I had.

"This world will never be yours, Hades!"

...

I awoke with a jolt so large my breath was taken away.

My breath gradually began coming back in shallow, panicked bursts. That couldn't have been a dream. That must have been a memory. But it made no sense to me. Hades? Like, the Greek god of the Underworld Hades? And I was on fire. Blue fire. Wasn't blue fire the sign of Satan? And those Dark creatures again…

Every bit of information seemed to be attacking my brain at once, so I let my head fall into my hands and clutched at my hair. My heart was pounding so fast that it felt like it was in my throat.

My father… I said something about taking on my father. But he was a sweet man, who never hurt anyone unless he had to. Why would Hades want to fight my father?

The dream made no sense to me. I shook my head, trying not to remember. But I had a feeling it would haunt me throughout the school day. Tiredly, I slipped out of bed, tore off my pyjamas, then began dressing in my uniform, which now smelt clean and fresh from being in the wash yesterday. I rolled up my sleeves, like usual, and tied my long hair into the usual high ponytail, leaving my bangs to hang in my eyes a bit.

I glanced at the blinking alarm clock. It was five thirty, the normal time that I got up. So I pondered what to do for a while. But then I heard weird little taps on my window, and I opened it up with no effort to find Luke standing in the backyard, grinning up at me.

"What's up?" I asked, leaning against the cill.

"I was going to go to school early," he explained. Dang, he looked good in the colours of dawn. Though the sky was still a tad dark, with the sun just peaking over the horizon. "To do some work. Wanna come?"

"I don't see why not," I said. I fled from the window quickly to write a note to Karen, telling her that I just went to school early. I slipped it under the crack of her door, grabbed my messenger bag, then leapt out the window.

"Oh my God!" Luke yelled, standing like he was prepared to catch me. But I easily landed right beside him, only wavering a little bit.

"I can't believe I can still surprise you after all you've seen," I chuckled, raising an eyebrow.

He rolled his eyes. "Yeah, yeah, I'm still not used to the whole 'hey, I'm a demon fox' thing." He handed me a helmet he had tucked under his arm.

I took it and placed it on my head, buckling up under the chin. "What's on the itinerary for today?"

"Cooking," he explained, wincing. "I help out the cafeteria lady, Chantel, sometimes, though I'm not much of a cook."

"Lucky for you, I am," I said proudly.

It was his turn to raise an eyebrow. "A demon chef?"

"Well, why not?" I asked, placing my hands on my hips. "I'm good at it, too, if I do say so myself."

He casually leaned to one side with a smirk, crossing his arms. "Oh really. Guess I'll have to try your food sometime."

"Yeah," I giggled, blushing and heading out the gate. "You will."

...

"Whew!" I exclaimed, examining our handiwork in the kitchen. "Done!"

Breakfast dishes of bacon and eggs, quiche, crepes, and fresh fruit seemed to almost sparkle on the counter, looking almost gourmet. I had to hand it to her, Chantel was a pretty good chef. According to Luke she used to have her own restaurant, but quit when the stress became too much for her. Now she was our friendly cafeteria lady, who looked really impressed with my work.

Meanwhile, Luke's food sat untouched in the corner, looking burnt and tastless. I called it the 'rejection spot'. He didn't have any talent for cooking, whatsoever.

"What time is it?" He asked Chantel, still pouting.

She lifted her thin little arm and glanced at her watch. "Almost eight, dear. I can't believe how quickly we did all this!" She glanced at me again, amazement clear on her face. "You're amazing, Miss Dulcina."

"Aw, this is nothing," I laughed, patting her on the back (maybe a little too hard, since she started coughing a bit). "You're the amazing one. I could never do this all every day."

"You're Luke's friend, right?" She asked. I hesitated, but nodded. "Then you'll help out again?"

I smiled at her. "I don't see why not."

We returned our aprons to her, then made our way back into the halls of Crescent Academy, which were gradually filling with the arriving students. Becca was among them, and she started whispering to her friends again.

I, of course, could hear every word she was saying, despite the other chatter amongst students. It was something like, "Look. There's the freak and her little emo boyfriend. I heard from Jack that he has weird scars all over his body. What a sick bastard."

I was about to go on aggressive mode, when from behind her a heard another voice say, "That's where you're wrong!"

Luke's and my jaw dropped.

Felina stepped out of the crowd, wearing the freshman version of our uniform, a black and yellow plaid skirt and tie with a black blouse. But her labcoat was over it all, and her bangs were still covering her face.

Everyone in the hallways seemed to stare at her in utter shock. Even Becca had nothing to say.

"These two," Felina began, striding towards us. "Are the nicest people I have ever met. So you can just stuff your mouth with another dick, mmkay?"

A collective 'ohhhhh' erupted from the hall. Luke was pounding the wall with his fist, laughing his ass off. I didn't really get what was happening, so I just stood there like an idiot.

Becca's face went red, and there was the ugly vein on her neck again! "Freaks will be with freaks," she muttered, marching away with her little posse.

"That… was… AWESOME!" Bridget said, rushing up to us from the door. "Who the hell are you, girl? You know some serious trash talk."

"Felina Wilde," she said, grinning her weird little cat grin. "A friend of Azul's and Luke's."

"Come here for a second!" I hissed, pulling her away from the crowd and back into the cafeteria. Some students were already there, gathering to catch some breakfast. I got a slight satisfaction at watching them eat my food then talk about how good it was, but it wasn't the time for that. I dragged Felina behind the counter, and Luke quickly followed.

We all crouched down behind the fridge so Chantel wouldn't notice us. "Are you out of your mind?!" I growled. "What the hell are you doing here?!"

She cocked her head to one side, confused. "You told me to enrol in Crescent Academy."

"I didn't mean it literally! How the hell did you manage that in one day?!"

"Here's a nekomata power you probably don't know about," she snickered, lifting her bangs away from her eyes. Luke and I reeled back and bumped into the fridge at what we saw.

Felina's eyes were a zapping yellow, with numerous circles surrounding her almond-shaped pupil. Her eyebrows were a dark orange, making them seem even more surreal, and she had high cheekbones that cast eerie shadows over her face.

She looked straight into Luke's eyes and simply said, "Sleep."

His eyes rolled back into his head and he collapsed to the floor with a large thud. I could already see a bump forming on the side of his head.

"Ahh!" I screeched, still trying to be quiet. I slipped my arms under him and held him to my chest. He was breathing softly, and he almost seemed to sigh contentedly. "What did you do?!"

"We nekomatas have the power of hypnosis," she said, looking smug. "As you can see. The concept of cats and their haughtiness is where the power stems from, so we lure our prey to us with our charm and hypnosis."

"Well stop it!" I hissed, shaking Luke.

She heaved a sigh, then looked straight at him again. "Wake up."

His hazel eyes snapped open, looking directly into mine.

"Well hello," he purred, and I dropped him on his head again, blushing profusely.

"Never do that again," I scolded her. "Not with all these humans around."

I could sense the eye roll. "Please. No one was looking. Regardless, I hypnotized the teachers into thinking that I belonged here. Though I'm new to the students." Then her lips slipped into a pout. "Although I'm in the grade below yours, so we won't have any classes together."

"This is nuts," Luke groaned, rubbing his head tenderly. "If someone had told me a month ago that I'd start going to school with a bunch of demons, I would've kicked them in the shin. But here I am, involved in this spiral of lies." He sat up properly, and I looked at him guiltily. I didn't want him to fell like he was obligated to anything.

But then he slid his gaze over to me, and got that smile on his face that made my heart and stomach go into roiling terror, like being swept away by the sea. "Not that I mind, though."

Felina observed us with a smirk. "I think there's more going on here than you two being 'just friends'."

At the same time I asked, "What do you mean?" Luke exclaimed, "What! No! Um. What are you talking about?!" Then started laughing like he was certifiable.

Both Felina and I looked at him in concern. Maybe he had hit his head harder than I thought.

"'Scuse me," said Chantel, gazing back at us hiding behind the fridge. "Shouldn't you kids be getting to class?"

"You heard the woman," I scolded Felina. "Shoo, shoo."

"Fine, fine," she groaned. Then she started giggling. "This is going to be so much fun!"

"What do you have first period?" Luke asked curiously, cocking his head to the side so his bangs fell in his eyes. Shiiiieeet.

Felina grinned a pointy-tooth grin and said, "Science!"

Luke and I began fearing the worst.

As Felina darted off and we started off towards our lockers, I asked Luke when the poetry assignment was due. I had finished it already, but I just wanted to know.

"Tomorrow," he explained. "You're not worried about her? At all?"

"What do you mean?"

"An inventing demon going to a human school? Sounds like a recipe for disaster if you ask me."

"Felina said she's been living in human society for a while now," I shrugged. "She probably knows how to blend in."

He still looked troubled as we entered the classroom, where everyone was chattering away. People were pointedly ignoring us, but that was to be expected, especially after the stunt Felina pulled this morning. We gingerly sat in our desks, and Bridget bounced up to us excitedly.

"Ever since you got here," she started, directing it at me. "Things have gotten a hell of a lot more interesting. Who was that in the hall?"

"Azul's friend," Luke explained. "Felina."

"She looked… kind of whacky. No offense."

I tucked some strands of loose hair behind my ear, not really paying attention. "None taken," I sighed. I was a bit worried. After all, I knew what could cue my transformation and Backlash, but I had no idea about her. What if something made her angry, and she was suddenly all kitty cat? Agh, this was so frustrating. I didn't understand why these interferences kept popping up in my life when I had more pressing issues at hand.

Why did I keep having cryptic dreams? This was starting to get aggravating.

"Hey, Azul," Bridget snapped, getting my attention. She crossed her arms with a huff, looking down at me with concern. "You okay? You seem pretty out of it."

"I'm fine," I waved her off. "I just didn't get much sleep last night."

"Oh, speaking of that," she drawled, waggling her eyebrows. I didn't like where this was going. "Where were you two yesterday? I couldn't help but notice you were both absent."

I glanced over at Luke. He was smiling at me like we shared a big secret. Which we did. I grinned back.

"Oh my god, I knew it!" Bridget exclaimed, jazzing her hands in front of our faces. "You two totally got together! I heard Mr. Cruz over here dumped Raven flat on her ass- good for you, by the way- and that he's been hanging with you more!" She shot her arms up in the air, yelling, "The spontaneous combustion of emotion strikes again!"

"It was nothing like that," Luke groaned. I was still completely oblivious to what they were talking about, suddenly craving Peaches n' Cream oatmeal. "We just happened to skip together and ended up hanging out."

"Suuuuure," she drawled sarcastically. "You two don't have to hide it from me; I'm cool."

"But not cool enough to remain in your seat when class starts?" Demanded Crabiner, suddenly behind her. She let out a yelp and scurried to her desk. He sighed impatiently and began talking about how our poetry assignment was due tomorrow, and we could present them if we wanted.

No way in hell, I hissed at myself, will I ever make my feelings public to humans like that.

But looking at the guy sitting next to me, who was trying and failing not to stare back, I decided that I wouldn't mind sharing my thoughts and feelings with him. I could sense liars, and he wasn't one. Luke Cruz was a naturally kind, funny, and honest person. I didn't think humans like that existed.

Heaving a sigh, I propped up my elbow, rested my chin on my hand, and began gazing out the window. The sky was completely clear and a crystalline blue, and the sun shone down on us like it was smiling.

I never thought my life could change so much in such a short amount of time. I never even considered that… that I'd grow to care so much about people like this.

Very slowly, I knew I was beginning to appreciate my life that I had been given. Maybe that's what the dreams meant. That I should appreciate my life right now, and do my best to live in the present.

The rest would come after that.

...