DRAGONTOWN

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Willow had a new best friend, Myst, the Dragon she had met at the bar. As with the Demon, she had felt an instant connection to the Dragon, feeling as if she had known her forever, like there was something instantly familiar about her that she just couldn’t put her finger on.

 

They had become partners in crime, the dream team, all from one night of drinking. She didn’t know which of them had had the bright idea to exact revenge on the inhospitable Demons, but it had led to so much trouble.

 

They had decided, in their infinite wisdom, that Demons would be much nicer people if they didn’t live in such drab, miserable conditions. Wills was sure she was the one that had suggested that they should visit and redecorate, but it was most definitely the Dragon who had deemed their new theme to be Hello Kitty.

 

They had spent a pleasant few hours popping in and out of Hell, with Myst’s help in getting them in and out safely, loaded down with every accessory they could get their hands on at 2am. And with Myst’s ability to travel anywhere in the world, there was a lot to be had. Travelling was its official term, although Myst said it was often affectionately called hopping. It was how magical creatures could use the natural ley lines and energies of the earth, tapping into them to travel from one place to another in the blink of an eye. That was apparently what Zagan had done to get her home.

 

By the time they were finished almost every bedroom, bathroom and hallway had something Hello Kitty in it, including toilet seat covers, bathroom accessories, shower curtains, bed linings and cute posters. Once they were done the whole place looked so much nicer.

 

All of their time together helped Willow keep her mind from drifting off into thoughts of the Demon who had rescued her, the one that Myst said was the King of Hell. She didn’t really believe that he was, how could a being that had taken pity on her, fed her and then taken her home, be the big bad boss? It was impossible to believe.

 

                                                                                                                                    ***

 

Myst flew high above the city, cloaked from human eyes, her head moving this way and that, searching for her prey. Unbeknown to most people, Dragons were actually one of the best trackers in the world.

 

She had been tracking this damned Demon for what felt like forever, though in reality it was more like 6 weeks. The object itself, well that had taken years, she’d been so close so many times, then it had changed hands again and she had been back to square one. Still, it was here now, she could feel it.

 

There! The Demon had helpfully chosen a nice, secluded spot at the base of a mountain to meet its companion, who, much to Myst’s advantage, seemed to be running late.

 

She kept herself shielded from the Demon, a lower class being whose puny powers were nothing in comparison to hers. This Demon was a made one, not one that had been created a Demon. There was a distinct difference and that meant that Myst could call all the shots.

 

She hovered over the creature, her wings barely stirring the air, her great body invisible to anything but the most powerful of eyes.

 

“Demon,” she boomed, her voice in Dragon from being deeper, harsher, rasping like a chain saw, indistinguishable between male or female.

 

She almost laughed but caught herself just in time when the Demon jumped about a mile in the air, falling over its own feet as it span this way and that, looking for the source of the voice.

 

“You have something I want, give it to me.”

 

The Demon although rather stupid, was braver than she had given it credit for. It shook its head, refusing to play ball.

 

This just annoyed the Dragon, now she would have to get tough. Centuries ago she had made the mistake of signing up to the Council as a guardian, she had been younger then, less bitter and had thought that she could do some good in the world, along with the Council, which was newly formed.

 

The Council was there as both a ruling force and a protection for the beings of the hidden world. It didn’t rule by force as many other organisations had done, it cared about those it protected, giving every being, no matter the designation, a fair chance. This meant that, unless the Demon was threatening mortals or their secrecy, it was untouchable to her. Although it wasn’t like anyone would know of even miss the little dick. Myst knew what it had been up to, hopping from one mortal to another just for shits and giggles, picking weak ones whose mental health made them easy targets. It never went so far as to push them into killing themselves or others, but the effects of its possession lingered and Myst knew for a fact that one or two of its victims had taken their own lives not long after the Demon had moved on. Honestly, she would be doing the world a favour. Never really one to play by the rules and being late for a girls night out with her new Witchy friend, she was done playing nice.

 

“Give me the box,” she demanded, putting on her best commanding tone.

 

“Fuck you,” the Demon spat back, still acting the tough guy even though it had no clue what or where she was.

 

Myst swooped, dropping the glamour just in time for the Demon to see her coming, to stare death right in the face before she opened her giant maw, filled with a double row of razor-sharp teeth, and snapped it shut around the Demon, swallowing it in one bite.

 

“Gackk,” Myst coughed, dropping to the ground, lying flat as she stretched her neck out. Something was wrong, something was stuck, lodged in her throat.

 

She hacked again, trying to dislodge whatever it was. She had never had trouble swallowing something like that before, she ate Demons and other beings like they were candy.

 

She rolled onto her back and felt her throat with her clawed hands, feeling the hard edge of a box lodged somewhere behind her right tonsil. Shit.

 

This was going to hurt.

 

Closing her eyes, she tried to calm herself -knowing that she was immortal, she couldn’t die from a simple case of asphyxiation no matter how unpleasant it was- she called on the ancient power inside her that allowed her change form at will. The power flowed over her, moving from her feet upwards, but as soon as it hit her throat, it stopped, forcing her back into Dragon form.

 

She began to panic, she couldn’t help it, what if she couldn’t change back? Even with her ability to cloak she couldn’t stay as a Dragon forever more, how would she live? She tried again, but that just seemed to piss off her inner Dragon, her body flickering through the change without her say so, leaving her stuck between forms.

 

Much as she hated to admit it, she needed help. Frantically she thought over every being she knew that might be strong enough to deal with her in her current state. Who could take a tail lashing from a Dragon? One by one, she rejected them all. Too old now, not been seen for centuries, on vacation with instructions never to disturb, dead, recovering from a fight with a troll, and still pissed off with her. Damn. That left only one. She didn’t like the thought of having to owe that guy a favour, but she had little choice. Although, she thought, maybe she could be a good friend while she was there.

 

Gathering her strength and forcing her mind to focus, she located the nearest ley line and grabbed at its energy, focusing on her destination as she started to travel.

 

                                                                                                                               ***

 

Zagan was in a foul mood, which honestly was his usual state of mind most days, but today was particularly bad, and it had nothing to do with the fact that he was still being called to remove Hello Kitty merchandise from various parts of the realm. Ere, had been on a war path about the home invasion, not that he ever listened to her and her bitching. After so many years in the same realm as the bitch he was deaf to her complaints.

 

So, all in all, he was just in a shit mood. Made even shitter but the fact that a Dragon had just popped through his Hell Gate and was currently flapping around the floor of the great hall like a fish out of water.

 

Several Demons were standing around watching the spectacle with fascination, while others debated how best to put her out of her misery.

 

He pushed his way through the small crowd and knelt down beside the Dragon.

 

“What do you want? Why are you here?”

 

The Dragon growled at him, hacking in a very undignified manner, her hands scrabbling at her throat.

 

One of the assembled Demons started to laugh, which seemed to piss off the Dragon on the floor, she managed to rise to her knees despite her obvious discomfort and cough a stream of Dragon fire at the Demon, who caught on fire immediately, running this way and that, screaming for help, not that any of his fellows helped him. It was kill or be killed in their realm, either you got yourself out of a situation or you died trying. Only the strong survived.

 

As the Demon dropped to the ground, the flames overcoming it, Z turned back to the Dragon. Much as he hated most of the Demons in the realm, they had their uses and they were needed alive. He waved a hand to send the others away, leaving him alone in the room with the Dragon.

 

“I’ll ask you again, what do you want?”

 

The Dragon was trying to say something, although he couldn’t make it out.

 

“Fucks sake,” he growled, bending lower to hear what the creature was gasping about. “You have an itch?”

 

The Dragon actually rolled her eyes at him as if he was the dumbest being on the planet and she hadn’t just dropped into his realm and started causing shit. Like she hadn’t been the one that had run around with that damned Witch…oh.

 

“You need the Witch?”

 

The Dragon nodded. Just his fucking luck. The one Witch on the planet that he was trying to avoid, even though she did keep managing to send him plastic containers of brownies that he was sure were home made and flasks full of coffee every few days since he had taken her home. A being that kept its word was a rare thing to him, usually he had to chase them down and beat the crap out of them to get them to hold up their end of the bargain. He hadn’t expect the Witch to even remember his offhand comment, let alone keep abiding by it. She was a curious thing, to be sure. And much too tempting.

 

Why was it always him? Why did he always end up with the shit landing on his doorstep? He just wanted a quiet life, and while he knew that there was little chance of that, he didn’t need any extra disruptions.

 

He looked at the Dragon still writhing around on his floor. He needed her gone, sharpish, before Ere got wind of it and took matters into her own hands. All they needed was the wrath of the Immortal Council coming down on them. Honestly, there wasn’t much the Council could do to them apart from make things damned awkward, and he didn’t need the hassle. It looked like he had no choice.

 

“Fine!” he stood up, waving a hand, creating a portal between the great hall and the Witch’s room. He saw her, lounging comfortably on her bed wearing nothing but a vest top and tiny shorts. The Gods hated him. He’d already known that but now he had even more confirmation.

 

A fat, fluffy black cat meowed at him.

 

“Hello, cat.”

 

OK, he had to admit, it was rather funny to watch the Witch almost fall off the bed in fright. She glared at him accusingly. “Why did you do that?”

 

“Say hello to the cat? Because he said it first.”

 

The look she gave him told him she wasn’t amused.

 

“I meant just pop in with this…” she gestured to the portal. “Whatever the fuck that is.”

 

“Your presence has been requested.” He stepped aside to let her see the prone Dragon, who was now turning an interesting shade of purple under her golden scales. The beast had changed from human form and was now taking up almost all of the great hall, the tables shoved aside by her mighty frame.

 

“Shit! Is that Myst?”

 

“Yeah. Bring beer.”

 

                                                                                                                                ***

 

One minute Willow had been lying quietly on her bed and the next she heard the one voice she had been desperate to hear, the one being she had been praying to see again, even though he had ignored all the treats she had been sending, just as she had promised.

 

Now there he was, looking as gorgeous as ever, if a tad more pissed off than when she had last seen him. Had he finally decided to stop being a dick, to stop ignoring her and maybe ask her out on a date?

 

No. He just needed her help, didn’t that figure. It was what everyone wanted from her. Although, to be fair, he had helped her first. She just couldn’t help the flair of disappointment she felt. She had to face facts, she had been kidding herself. They didn’t have a connection, he didn’t care about her one way or another. For once in her life she had thought that someone might like her for her, not for who she was or what she could do for them. Apparently not.

 

She looked over his shoulder at the Dragon on the floor. A DRAGON!

 

She jumped up, grabbing her bag, as if that would help, and started forward, stopping when he asked for beer. She reached into the small fridge beside the bed and grabbed a six pack she had bought for when Myst visited and stepped through the portal.

 

“Myst! Babe, you OK?” Wills dropped down next to her friend. The Dragon hacked again, like a cat trying to bring up a fur ball. “No, of course you aren’t OK.” She turned on the Demon that was lounging against the edge of the portal as if this sort of thing happened every day. Just another night for him.

 

“Do something. Help her!”

 

He shrugged. “Not my jurisdiction.”

 

“So you’re just going to leave her like this? What kind of arsehole are you?”

 

“The type of arsehole that doesn’t give a fuck about anything or anyone, you’d do well to remember that.”

 

“She could die!”

 

“She won’t die, she’s immortal.”

 

The Dragon flailed, her giant body rippling from head to tail.

 

“It’s a death throe!”

 

Zagan rolled his eyes at the dramatics of both females who had invaded his realm. When he spoke, he did so slowly, like he was talking to an inebriated idiot.

 

“I can’t help her unless she makes a deal with me.”

 

“What kind of deal?” Wills was suspicious of his motives now that his attitude had taken such an abrupt turn.

 

“Well, since she’s in no position to bargain, shall we simply agree to a favour, Dragon?”

 

The Dragon nodded, not even bothering to try to speak. Urghh, he was going to have to go in.

 

Sighing, he rolled up his sleeve and knelt down beside the large head of the Dragon. “Hold her still.”

 

Willow looked at the Dragon on the floor, she was as large as a small truck, taking up almost all of the cavernous hall and appeared to have a bench stuck in her left armpit.

 

“Oh sure, yeah, I’ll get right on that, I just have to stop a moving train first.”

 

“Comfort her then, just distract her so she doesn’t bite my arm off. I happen to like this arm.”

 

Wills nodded and sat down beside the Dragon, who lifted her head and flopped it across the Witch’s lap. The weight was like that of an extremely large dog.

 

“Open up.”

 

Wills laid a tentative hand on her friends’ head, stroking the shining scales. They felt just like a snake’s did, dry and smooth, with a little ridge at the edge of each one. This was so surreal. Three months ago she had been standing at London Airport, preparing to leave the only home and world that she had ever known, to leave England far behind, and now she was sitting on the floor in a Hell realm with a Dragon laying on her lap.

 

Myst opened her mouth wide, like she was preparing for a dental exam and Z got right to work, reaching his arm down her throat up past his elbow.

 

The Dragon gagged and shuddered but managed not to snap her jaws shut.

 

“I can’t reach it. Hang on.” He whispered a few words in a language she didn’t understand, although he sounded good saying them. Myst shifted again, grunting with discomfort.

 

“Got it.” He drew out a box, about the size of a paperback book, made of wood, it had something carved into it, although she couldn’t see much through the Dragon slobber that covered it.

 

Myst immediately shifted back to her human form, gasping as she gulped in large lungfulls of air, coughing as she recovered.

 

“You alright?”

 

Myst nodded but when she tried to speak she grimaced, shaking her head. The box had obviously done some damage while it was stuck there and while shifting back and forth Myst had expended too much energy, not leaving her with enough to start healing on her own.

 

“She needs healing,” Z commented, dropping the box in the Dragon’s lap and then wiping his arm off with a cloth he had manifested from nothing, something she still couldn’t get over.

 

“Well, heal her then.”

 

“I don’t think she wants to owe me another favour, do you?”

 

Myst shook her head, coughing again.

 

“Fucks sake!” Wills grabbed her bag, digging around inside until she found a small bottle of healing potion that she’d been carrying for emergencies. She handed that to Myst, who drank it down in one gulp.

 

“Now come here.” Willow wrapped her hands gently around her friends’ neck, calling upon her sluggish, bound powers to summon up as much healing energy as she could. She felt it respond, slowly at first, then stronger until it flowed through her hands and into the flesh of Myst’s neck. She felt her hands grow warmer and warmer as the pain drained out of her friend and into her own hands.

 

“Gods, that’s better.”

 

Wills was so grateful to hear her friends voice again. They had only known each other a few weeks, but she had come to love the Dragon and couldn’t imagine not hearing her sarcastic tones again.

 

There was always a risk with healing anyone, the healer would often take the ailment into their own body where it could take hold and cause them some serious damage, but with a supernatural creature it could be even worse.

 

Willow dropped her hands to the floor, visualising her fingers elongating, turning into roots that burrowed through the floor and down, deep into the earth. She used earth energy to heal and would always give it back for the earth to take and reuse. She closed her eyes and opened her mental shields, visualising the pain as a brown, sludgy mess that would pour out of her fingers and into the earth. And she waited… Nothing.

 

“Urghh, get out of me!” she grunted in frustration, straining like a cow giving birth. She tried again, making a noise that should never come from a human. “Fuck. Fuck! FUCK!” She’d heard that this could happen, although it was very rare.

 

“Problem?”

 

Shit, she didn’t want him to think she was an inexperienced idiot that couldn’t even do a simple healing right.

 

“No, it’s fine, just a little stuck. I just need jump start.”

 

She didn’t expect him to help her but as usual he surprised her. He stepped forward and she waited patiently, bracing herself for his hand on her shoulder, for the little jolt she needed. Not so.

 

Without a hint of warning he shot a bolt of energy at her. It struck, hitting her smack in the middle of her chest. She jolted backwards, managing to catch herself before she fell flat on the ground. Her hands felt welded to the ground as his power flowed through her, forcing the pain out in a rush.

 

“Fuck!” she yanked her hands away from the ground, feeling like her palms were red raw. His power had felt cold, like a shot of ice water running through her veins. She began to shiver, unable to stop her body from reacting to his energy, arousal flushing her skin even though she tried to ignore it.

 

She held out a hand so he could help her up, her legs feeling a bit too trembly to hold her up alone.

 

He grabbed her hand, pulling her upright, although he didn’t let go straight away, his eyes riveted on her chest. She glanced down, noticing that her nipples were looking very pleased to see him. She yanked her hand out of his and crossed her arms protectively over her chest.

 

“I meant a little spark, not the whole engine.”

 

He shrugged, completely unashamed to be caught staring at her tits. “Go big or go home.”

 

She shook her head, trying not to laugh, not wanting to encourage him. He’d been a dick to her, rude and dismissive, so why did she still want to wrap herself around him and cling like a limpet?

 

 “Take the Dragon and go. It’s nearly time to eat, you don’t want to be here when they all come pouring back in.”

 

She raised an eyebrow at that. “I heard you are the big cheese around here, King of Hell and all that, surely you could control a few Demons.”

 

His eyes went cold, his tone clipped. “You know nothing. Leave, now.”

 

“There’s no need to be rude.”

 

“Baby, you haven’t seen rude yet. Go.”

 

He turned away, and on instinct she caught his arm to stop him, wanting to say thank you on the Dragons behalf, but he span round, yanking his arm out of her grasp, his fangs bared in a hiss.

 

“Don’t fucking touch me.”

 

She was shocked at his reaction. Was she that repulsive? That annoying?

 

“Fuck you,” she spat back, embarrassed and pissed off.

 

“I thought we established that oral was off the table, or is fucking different to sucking?”

 

Her mouth dropped open in shock at the crudeness of his words and the venom in his tone.

 

Glaring at him, she turned away. Grabbing her bag she helped Myst to her feet. She wanted to turn back, to give him a piece of her mind, but she didn’t. She couldn’t stand to look at him right at that moment.

 

“Leave the beer.”

 

She flipped him the bird over her head, dragging the Dragon through the portal, which snapped shut behind them the second they left it.

 

Myst stumbled a few steps, collapsing on the bed. “Thanks for coming to get me.”

 

Wills bent and hugged her friend; the Dragon was still not her usual self. Normally she was confident and bubbled with energy, but at that moment she seemed almost human.

 

“I think you should stay here for the night, rest and then we’ll get you home in the morning.”

 

The Dragon nodded, almost asleep already, her eyes sliding shut. Wills grabbed an extra blanket, knowing that Dragons ran hotter than humans and could use up extra heat when healing. She then pulled off her friends boots then tucked her into bed, covering her over with the extra blanket.

 

She wandered the room for a bit, feeding and then playing quietly with the cats, reading, watching a little TV, expecting that at any moment she would crash herself. Healing always took it out of her, using up her own personal energy as well as that of the elements around her, and as soon as that caught up with her she dropped like a stone. But not this time.

 

She kept waiting for her energy to wane, but she was buzzing as if she had just downed four cups of coffee and some pro-plus.

 

Risking the bathroom, just hoping that the werewolf down the hall had cleared his hair out of the plug hole recently, she took a warm bath, relaxing back into the fragrant water.

 

Finally, after a hot chocolate she felt ready to lay down and try to sleep, eventually falling asleep with her latest read.

 

                                                                                                                                  ***

 

“You live here?” Wills looked at the house in complete and utter awe. She had thought that it would be big -since Myst turned into Dragon the size of a small truck-and likely a bit posh too, she had been alive long enough to amass quite a fortune, but she hadn’t expected it to be quite so nice.

 

They had driven out of town and over St Claude Bridge and into St Bernard’s Parish. Myst had driven some way down Bayou Road, deeper and deeper into the countryside which reminded Wills of England in some ways, taking a sharp right turn off the road to rattle down a track. The road led to two houses, the biggest to the right being the one that Myst stopped in front of. The back yard stretching out right into the bayou and beyond. It was the perfect location, close to a wooded area, big enough and far enough away form people for her to be able to stretch her wings, or so she said.

 

The Dragon was feeling much better after a long sleep and a big breakfast in the café near Willow’s boarding house and insisted that she would be fine to be left alone now that her energy was back up.

 

Myst unlocked the front door with a shrug. “Welcome to Casa Dragon.” She stepped aside to let Willow enter before her, but her friend’s attention was riveted on the house next door, the one to the left of the Dragons.

 

It was gorgeous, not as large as the Dragon’s house but big enough. The outside was made of white and grey bricks, with black accents along the porches, roofs and framework. A balcony on the first floor circled the entire front of the house over which gable windows, three in total, showed the presence of a large attic area. The house was a mish-mash of pitched roofs, chimneys, gothic columns and towers, and black iron work that called to her. It was as gothic as you got in Louisiana and she was in love.

 

“Wow, who lives there?”

 

Myst stuck her head back out of the front door and glanced down the road. “No one, it’s empty. I own that one too, well, technically I do, but I built it as an investment for a friend.”

 

“It’s gorgeous. Fuck, what I wouldn’t give to live somewhere like that and not have to share a kitchen with someone that eats everything in sight.”

 

Her friends head tipped to one side, as if having an internal debate with herself as she looked from Willow to the house and back again, then apparently came to her decision.

 

“Wait right here.”

 

She ran off into the house, coming back a few minutes later with a set of keys.

 

“Come on, lets go take a look inside.”

 

Wills followed along behind, curious to see inside the beautiful house. She had a secret, she liked to look around houses. She had taken to going to open houses when she had lived with the coven, playing a little game with herself where she imagined how she would decorate the house if she owned them, if she ever had a home of her own.

 

The inside was just as nice as the outside, not to her tastes, she would have taken advantage of the outside gothic style and extended it to the inside. Instead of pale cream walls she would have chosen reds, purples and blues with black woodwork, to match the outside.

 

They wandered through the house, Myst showing her all the rooms on the ground floor, a spacious kitchen, two reception rooms, one of which Wills would have turned into a library, a dining room off the kitchen, and a washroom.

 

They climbed the curving staircase to the first floor, inspecting the three bedrooms – the master suite with a bathroom attached- and a full bathroom, standing out on the balcony to look over the land which was still empty of all life. The house was lovely, but it had a neglected, empty air about it, showing that no one had lived there for quite some time. It was clean, Myst said she employed a cleaner to come in once a week to keep it dust free, but you could tell that it had been devoid of life for a while. The thought of the house standing alone made Willow feel strangely sad.

 

They climbed the last staircase to the attic area, which had been converted into a bedroom with a half bath attached and another room that Wills assumed was for its original purpose of storage.

 

Enchanted by the window seat in that nothing room, she sat down on it, looking out over the grounds. They weren’t as manicured and orderly as Myst’s, her friend preferred big open spaces to stretch out and sunbathe, this garden was more like an extension of the woods that it bordered, kept separate by nothing more than a small gate which led to a tiny bridge used to cross the small stream that served to separate the garden from the woodland. It was amazing, perfect, and it felt like home.

 

“I love this place so much.”

 

Her friend twirled the keys in her hand, then dropped them in the Witch’s lap. Wills looked up, startled.

 

“No one is using it at the moment and probably won’t be for a long time, it makes more sense for you to stay here and look after it, one less job for me to do.”

 

Wills pushed the keys back into her friends’ hands. “No way, I could never afford the rent on this place.”

 

Myst tossed the keys back, almost hitting her in the face. “Who said anything about paying rent? This place is fully paid for, you’d be doing me a favour.”

 

“No,” Willow caught the keys and threw them back at her. “I don’t need charity or to be beholden to anyone, not again.”

 

“Do not make me force you to take them, because I will, I’m bigger than you. I could lock you in here and keep you prisoner until you agree. I’m a big, bad Dragon, we do that kind of thing just for shits and giggles.”

 

“You wouldn’t dare!”

 

“Try me.”

 

Her friend stood firm, the keys dangling from one hand where it was propped on her hip, the look on her face said that, yes, she would dare, she was just waiting for an excuse.

 

Knowing she was beaten, but refusing to admit it, Wills grabbed the keys back. “Fine, but only because you are my friend and you said it would be helping you out. no other reason.”

 

“Of course not,” Myst agreed, smirking triumphantly as the Witch pushed past her, ignoring her. “Let’s go get your stuff. I’ll drive.”

 

                                         ***

 

Wills was tired, so tired she could barely open her eyes. She had spent the entire day before with Myst, moving her things into the house, settling the cats and then going out to celebrate.

 

There had been drinks, there had been dancing, there had been a kiss with a rather nice fae male with ice blonde hair and sparkling eyes, but all she could think was that he wasn’t right. His eyes were blue, not the pale silver that she dreamt of, his hair wasn’t a dark brown verging on black and his skin was pale, not the latte colour she wanted. Damn, she had it bad for an inconsiderate, rude arsehole. How fucked up was that?

 

Just like the night before, she had been buzzing with energy, unable to settle to sleep until the late hours, finally crashing around 5am. Now it was barely half 6, but the cats had woken her demanding food.

 

She fed the cats and set the coffee maker brewing, then made a start on breakfast. It was a simple enough thing, she just sliced a bagel in half and popped it in the toaster, but just to know that she could have food in the house and know that it would be there when she went back, was magical. Her cats were enjoying having the run of the house too, having been cramped up in one room for over a month.

 

The buttered her bagel and added a few swipes of cream cheese, taking a bite as she reached for the coffee pot. Without her say so, her mind wandered straight to Zagan, and his lack of coffee making skills. How could anyone fuck up coffee? If she had still been talking to him she would have taken him some…

 

The thought had barely entered her mind when the world tipped sideways, seeming to fall away from her feet. Her head was fuzzy, dizzy like she’d downed five tequilas in quick succession. Luckily the sensation passed quickly. She blinked, confused when the world righted itself, leaving her, not in her new kitchen, but in a room she had never seen before.

 

The walls were painted a dark, dark red that seemed to make the room look smaller than it was, although that might have also had something to do with the huge four poster bed that dominated the center of the room. Black curtains hung from the mahogany wood, which matched the black sheets that covered the bed and its occupant.

 

She just stood there like an idiot, holding a bagel with a bite out of it in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. She was staring, she knew she was, but she couldn’t take her eyes off the naked chest of the man in the bed as he sat up, the covers dropping away to pool around his waist, showing that the nakedness went all the way down.

 

He was more gorgeous than she could ever have imagined, and she had imagined a lot, frequently and in great detail. Just as she had imagined, he was leanly muscled, wide in the shoulders but tapering down to a slender waist. His skin was unblemished by even the smallest scar and she itched to stroke it, to find out if it was as soft and smooth as it looked. She could practically feel her fingers stroking gently through the smattering of hair that covered his upper chest and pecs, gliding across sleek muscles, feeling the ebb and flow of each inch as she caressed her way down his body.

 

As she watched his chest twitched, one pec bouncing as if he had felt the touch she had just conjured up in her mind.

 

She was dumbstruck, not knowing what to say or do. How the hell was she here? He hadn’t summoned her, she was sure of that, for he looked just as surprised as she was. Confused and a little bit scared, she said the first thing that came to mind.

 

“What the fuck?

 

Her mind was whirling like a top, jumping from question to question, shit, fuck, what the hell just happened? Did I just travel? Holy crap on a cracker, can I jump him?

 

The man in question just sat there, looking right back at her, but not volunteering an explanation of any kind. And that just pissed her off all the more. He’d gone from helping her to treating her with contempt that most people reserved for dog shit on their shoe. And now she was there, panicking, rapidly heading towards a melt down of epic proportions and he didn’t give a crap.

 

“I blame you!” she yelled at him, throwing the bagel in his general direction. She needed help, help form someone that actually cared and would give her the answers she needed. Myst! She needed Myst!

 

No sooner had the thought crossed her mind, she felt the same shifting of the floor under her feet, the same sensation of being just outside her own body, dizzy and sick to her stomach, though it was nowhere near as bad.

 

“That’s about right, it’s always my fault, why should this time be any different? You could have left the coffee!” Z’s answering yell followed her as she faded away.

 

The world solidified into yet another new place, this time the living room of a house that she assumed was the Dragons, she never actually made it inside the day before.

 

The panic was still riding her as she opened her mouth and bellowed her friends name as long and loud as she could.

 

She’d never been so grateful to hear the sound of running feet in her life before.