1 Arabel

I followed Kristy through the dark alley, fire burning in my gut. I saw the shadows following her that she did not, the unseen dangers surrounding her. The woman was as stubborn as an ox, not that I was surprised. How many generations of her family had I followed throughout the decades? Each one of them, stubborn and greedy for knowledge they had no right knowing. Knowledge of me. I had spent the last two thousand years blending into the human's world. Helping them from the shadows, guarding them, protecting them. Over the years I had spent time in so many countries and cities, blending with so many different cultures. It was an honor to spend time amongst these people.

But very few of them new the truth about who I was and fewer still, the truth of where I came from. But most of those who did know, have been long dead, sleeping a slumber they would not wake up from. It was not because I didn't trust humans, that I kept the truth of myself hidden. Yes there were bad humans, I had seen the evidence with my own eyes. Watched the wars start, finish, then start again, never-ending; they fought so much amongst themselves. Yes, there were some that would try to harm/hurt me. Some that would put me under a microscope, dissecting me slowly, only to watch me heal before repeating the process. I had encountered them all at some point of my long life. But amongst the humans I had found the most open–hearted race I had ever encountered. Maybe that is because of where I came from, where I grew up. A place with ice cold hearts and even colder people. But as I followed Kristy through the dark alleyways I knew that she faced danger not only from her people. But from mine as well.

"He said to make it look like a mugging gone wrong," a deep voice whispered in the shadows, a voice she could't hear, but I could. There was a threat to her life that she was oblivious to. I quickened my pace, and both felt and heard Kristy's heartrate quicken. Her body instinctively telling her that she was in danger, even if she couldn't see it. Just as she was going to turn around I let my body melt away, felt my bones crack and shift, my clothes disappearing, threads blowing away in the breeze. So that when she turned around, all Kristy saw in my place was a stray cat. I sat there, my tail wrapped around my paws, my whiskers twitching in the breeze. She stared back at me inquisitively. Then, deciding, that I was not a threat, her heartrate slowed and she turned around and continued on her way, assuming that she was all alone in that alleyway, save for a cat.

But when her back was once again to me, my bones cracked and grew, my fur disappeared while my black hair returned, I called the threads back and they formed my simple black shirt and pants, everything happened quicker than the blink of an eye, one minute a cat, the next a person. The fire continued to burn in my gut, for I knew the true danger that Kristy was in. I sensed the blood-thirst in the shadows, the dark thoughts, the ones that she was oblivious too. A part of me felt torn and sad, knowing that had I not existed, she would not be in this danger to begin with. I kept to the shadows until I came across the first dark presence that had been stalking her. I slid behind him and covered his mouth with my hand, I felt him squirm under my grasp but knew that there was no way he would be able to break free.

"Do you enjoy preying on innocent women?" I hissed menacingly in his ear. He flinched, no doubt under my hot breath as I was having difficulty controlling the fire inside me. He whimpered softly knowing exactly who I was and I smelled his fear, but it wasn't I he was afraid of.

"If I find you tailing her again or threatening her in any way, you would be wise to be more afraid of me, than him." I whispered hotly in his ear. I let him go and as he spun around quickly I stepped up to him. Staring down at him menacingly. I forced my jaw to adjust and shift until I had two sharp fangs and curled my lip at him in a half snarl to let them glint in the moonlight. Again a whimper escaped his throat as he turned and scrambled, running into the shadows, the pungent odor of urine trailing after him. I grimaced in disgust and relaxed my jaw, letting the fangs shrink to a normal size. I listened until I heard his footsteps meet a second pair and together the fled into the darkness. At that time only, I turned back to follow Kristy who had gained some distance between us. I picked up my pace and followed her presence, knowing exactly where she was. I had followed her down this path countless nights in the past month, after I discovered the danger she was in, I had it memorized. But this time, where she would normally turn right, she turned left, so I broke into a run. As I turned the same corner I saw her run up two steps to open a door but the door opened before she could and a tall brown haired man stepped out, catching her off-guard and nearly sending her tumbling down the stairs. I took a step forward, instinctively, my body itching to catch her, but there was no need. He had grabbed her by her elbow and steadied her in front of him.

"Woah," he said, as if talking to a nervous horse.

"Please help me," she said, her voice panicked, "someone has been following me." At this the man stiffened and turned and looked in my direction, I stepped back into the shadows, but he had noticed.

"Stop!" he yelled after me, and I heard running, I melted into the shadows of the alley I was in, once again letting my body shift and change, ignoring the pain that I had grown so accustomed too, but this time instead of a cat I changed into a common street rat. I watched as the man ran into the alley. I saw his hard chiseled jaw clench tightly, his gray eyes flickering through all the shadows, looking for danger. As he came unknowingly right next to me, I felt the fire in my gut lurch, twisting and turning. Wanting, for reason unknown to me, to reachout to him. He looked at me, but immediately dismissed me, what surprise is there to a rat in New York?

"Damn," he cursed under his breath and scratched at the prickly stubble on his jaw. When I sensed his muscles relaxing, that was when I noticed his hand, which had been tensed above the butt of a gun, a gun sitting in a holster next to a detective's badge. I cursed inwardly as I realized that she had gone to the police. He turned to go back to Kristy, still standing on the steps of what I now knew was a police station. I followed him, staying in the shadows, a rat walking behind a detective.

"Come inside, and tell me what's happening." He instructed kristy, guiding her through the doors of the precinct. I slipped in behind them unnoticed, praying inwardly that she would with-hold some crucial information. But my prayers went unanswered. While he sat her down at a desk, and took a seat across from her, his eyebrows raised in surprise.

"Hey, you're that discredited reporter," he said. I felt Kristy stiffen and she scowled openly at him.

"Discredited only because no one believes me," she muttered, looking down. The man watched her and I watched the man, his gaze was soft, but older beyond his years, he had one curved scar on his left temple and I saw the hint of another under his shirt collar, but despite that I saw the gentleness in his eyes, despite his gruff appearance.

"I suppose you should tell me what's going on?" he said, leaning back and resting a leg on his knee and leaning forward on his elbows, giving her his undivided attention. Kristy gnawed on her lip in hesitation before starting.

"I'm sure, as everyone else, you know that I am no longer a reported, due to the discredit I lost my job and no one else will hire me." She said, he nodded.

"I have a blog now," she mentioned.

"Still have this notion of someone, or something, guarding New York?" he asked, and I saw the hint of a smile twitching on the corners of his lips. Kristy sighed and shook her head,

"You're just like everyone else," she said, and moved to take her leave but his face immediately grew serious and he gently took her arm in his,

"I'm sorry," he whispered, "continue." She sat down with a huff and sighed, scratching her head.

"I don't blame people for thinking I'm crazy you know." She said with a sigh, leaning backwards in the chair "everyone thinks I'm crazy." the detective made no move to disprove the statement.

"I started the blog after losing my reporting job," she started, "I figured, this way, someone, anyone, who might know something can reach me." She said softly.

"But instead of encouragement, I started to get creepy messages and comments, threats, to drop the subject. Then a few weeks ago I started getting the feeling of being watched and followed." She said, "but I have no idea who's doing anything."

"What subject exactly do they want you to drop?" the detective asked, no judgement in his voice.

"The subject of the Guardians."

I sucked in the breath I had been holding as she said the one thing I was hoping her to keep to herself. But instead, now, another victim had unknowingly been dragged in. I heard the word whisper in my mind as she said it, 'Guardian', and I knew, just as I heard it, so had the person targeting her. The detective stiffened and turned to look in my direction and I felt my heart lurch at the heat in his gaze only realize with a feeling of stupidity that even if he saw me, he only saw a rat. But with a frown he shook his head, and turned back to Kristy.

"You realize right, that without any idea of who is following you, there isn't anything we can do?" he said softly, apologetically. Kristy sighed and nodded her head, she knew this very well. The detective stood up and gave her his hand.

"At the very least, let me give you a ride home tonight,"

"REEVES!" a shrill woman's voice yelled over the hushed din of the precinct, "I sent you home an hour ago! Get your ass out of here!" the detective scowled and looked over his shoulder.

"I'm leaving, I'm leaving," he muttered and waved her off.

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