CHAPTER 8: Athry's Secret

"Did you want some barbeque too?" Simi said interrupting Urian's thoughts.

"I came to check on you."

"Why? The Simi's okay. Want some barbeque? Good eats." She said.

"I'm good. Just wanted to meet your new friend." Urian said, turning to Azail.

"Oh, sure. Azzy, this here is Urian…" Simi started, motioning Urian with her fork. "Urian this here is Azzy. Oooh the Simi likes to say your name, it sounds so sparkly. Urian's my akri's nephew because he the son of akri-Styxx and akri-Styxx is brother to my akri but they don't know he was baby Galen before not until akra-Appolymi said he was because she kept him away. But now he live with us and his mama and papa, akra-Bethany and akri-Styxx and with baby Ari."

Azail tried to process all the things that just came out of Simi's mouth. "And that makes you two…?" She asked, raising both eyebrows towards Urian.

"Cousins, we're cousins." Urian supplied.

"Oh...I see." Azail nodded. She remembered her manners and offered her hand. "You can call me Azail or Az."

"Urian." He said simply, accepting her hand.

The moment they touched, it was as if the world stood still and a fissure ran through both their bodies. The contact was brief as they both let go of each other's hand almost immediately.

"Whoa, static." Azail chuckled, rubbing her hands together. She laughed it off as she most of the time get that feeling whenever she touches anyone, even Athry. Her sister had described it as 'having too much electrons in the body'. Urian on the other hand stared at her for a full minute. He was sure something happened there when their skins touched.

"You're welcome to join us if you like." Azail offered graciously as she noticed Urian has been standing there watching her. Urian took the offer and sat quietly, eyes still fixed at her. She did a mental shrug and continued on eating her meal. Simi started rambling about sparkly stones and QVC.

Urian studied Simi's new friend with new found interest. The shock that he felt earlier was something that he couldn't just take for granted. He knew he had felt it before but it was faint and almost non-existent. If you weren't paying much attention it would most likely be dismissed as something ordinary but since he was there, observing he knew there was something up with the kid and he was sure Simi's new friend isn't entirely human. Nevertheless, he has to do what he came for. He took a seat opposite Azail and gave her his most intimidating gaze.

"You're not planning on dating Simi, are you?" Urian asked, amused as Azail promptly choked on her barbeque. It was a silly question. There's no way in hell will Ash let a human date Simi but questions like these always catch people off guard and it didn't disappoint him with he got the reaction he wanted.

"W-w-where did that even come from? " Azail coughed, hoping that she didn't snort out meat from her nose. She emptied the tall glass of root beer to down the meat she was chewing. She glanced at Urian and suppressed the urge to laugh. It seems he's also one of the many who wasn't able to tell she wasn't a boy. Why else would he ask such question?

"Well, she has been talking about you non-stop and it's obvious that you like her." Urian coaxed, trying to wiggle out a confession from the kid.

"You're funny. Of course I like Simi..." Azail admitted. Urian's cousin was right to be suspicious she knew her gender isn't something obvious since her manner of dress isn't something that would affirm her femineity. She had been mistaken for a boy for countless of times already and she wouldn't hold it against him is he was one of the many who had made the wrong assessment about her gender.

Urian raised a brow. It was easier than he thought. He couldn't help but admire the kid's guts.

"But I don't date girls. Your cousin is probably one of the prettiest girl I've met but I just don't swing that way. So you can keep your cool guy act and stuff it in your pocket." Azail finished, equally meeting Urian's intense gaze.

Surprise painted Urian's face at Azail's statement. He certainly didn't see that coming. To think Simi's new friend was gay. Everyone was worried for nothing. He gave a silent sigh of relief.

"That's unexpected. Well it explains your earlier comment." Urian said with a nod. "I'm flattered actually. No man has ever flirted with me before but there's always a first to everything."

Confused, Azail gave him a droll stare. Then it finally dawned on her what he meant. Completely flabbergasted, Azail didn't know how to retort. It was the best reaction she had seen so far. He thought she was a guy who was gay and was trying to hit on him. Luckily her mouth was deprived of any food particles when she burst into a hearty hysterical laugh.

She laughed for about five minutes non-stop and had to compose herself when the other customers were starting to stare.

"I'm sorry, I might have sent the wrong signals here unintentionally." She began when she finally sobered up. "I know this is probably just a routine check on a girl-cousin-who-met-a-charming-boy thing but let me just ease your worries. When I said, I don't swing that way didn't mean what you think I mean. It's because I'm a girl and I'm pretty sure I'm straight. I don't blame you for not noticing, there's been countless people ahead of you who had the same misunderstanding. Also, for some bizarre reason, I don't really own girl clothes that much so the fashion statement does keep my gender masked, no offense taken."

Dumbfounded, Urian just sat there staring at her. He just raised his brows in response as he couldn't find anything to retort with. When he first laid eyes on her he had assumed she was male. He didn't realize he wasn't able to tell the difference as well. Simi was right.

"Well, I guess I'm so-"

"Look lady -"

His apology was cut short by a Dev's voice from the entrance. A woman barged in walking with long strides towards their table. Azail whose back was in the entrance didn't notice who just came in.

"I knew I'd find you here."

Azail froze as she heard her sister's voice from behind. She cringed inwardly and prayed. She didn't know Athry would leave work just to look for her. She was hoping she would be able to get back before Athry noticed.

"It's not like you to leave without permission." Athry said Azzy turned to face her. She could she her sister turning pale as she did so.

"I'm sorry Athry…"

"Well it's always easier to say an apology huh…" Athry retorted but she turned livid when she noticed Simi sitting in the same table. It was the scent that lingered with Azail a week ago. How could she have been slow to notice. A demon was accompanying Azail since the last week. Dread spread through her like wild fire. If a demon had been near Azail for this long and she failed to notice, it would only mean one thing. She was getting weaker and it won't be long until Sitan and his minions would find her Az's scent.

She glanced at Simi in disgust. Charonte, by the smell of it. She hasn't met one for ages and she had thought they were already extinct. Attacking the demon was out of the question. That would expose her and Azail to anyone who might be a threat. Plus with her power's state she might not be able to combat one and survive. It would be wiser to retreat and reconsider her options.

"Up! Now!" She said as she grabbed the youngster by the arm and practically dragged her to the door.

"Hey, no need to manhandle the kid." Dev said as Athry and her charge headed to the doorway.

"Move it bear if you know what's good for you." She said, glaring at Dev without breaking stride. It was time they knew what she knows about them. She had known the Peltiers for a long time, at least Mama and Papa did. But they didn't have a litter then last time she saw them. It was a shame that they're no longer at Sanctuary, keeping tabs on their cubs.

Aimee tapped Dev on the shoulders as he stood stunned staring at the open door where Athry and Azail exited.

"Leave it be, she's the sister after all. The kid's gonna be fine."

"That's not what I'm concerned about Aim." Dev whispered.

Aime raised a brow. "What then?"

"She called me a bear."

The drive back to the studio was silent and pensive. Az had been mute the whole time. She didn't even try to defend herself and she sat in the passenger seat with tears welling in her eyes. Guilt must be eating the kid alive right now, Athry mused. Served her right for leaving without permission. Azail had never done such a thing. She was always obedient and passive. It's puzzling her why she chose to be rebellious now.

"Aren't you gonna say anything?" Athry started, breaking the silence.

Azail did not even move, not one muscle. She just stared out the window, passively meeting Athry's inquisition.

"I have nothing to say. You should be doing what you're preaching, Athry. Those people were my friends." Azail rebutted.

"If you're waiting for an apology from me, you're not gonna have it." Athry retorted. "What's gotten into you? You left without letting me know. You've never done that before and you went to Sanctuary of all places. It's inappropriate place for someone your age. The people there should have considered that."

"Do you even hear yourself right now?" Azail snapped. "You've been telling me to not judge people the way they look and look what you've did. Sanctuary is a nice cozy place and I made my first friend there. You know well enough that I don't have many of those."

"Don't give me that tone young lady. You don't know how what I've been through all these years and you better not blame me for your misbehavior. You left without telling me and that's one of the things that I don't tolerate and you know that." Athry replied with equal ire.

"I don't know what you've been going through because you never tell me anything. All my life I just listen to everything you say. I never go out and meet other people. I've never meet anyone or befriend anyone my age. It's always just you and your friends and I wasn't even allowed to have friends when I was at school." Azail yelled, at her limit now. They never argued like this and all her pent up frustration with her sister just started to come out.

"I'm just doing this to keep you safe."

"Safe from what?! I can take care of myself Athry. I'm old enough to. When are you gonna start accepting that! Why do you not want me to grow up?"

They arrived at the studio and Athry was at a loss as she pulled up in the parking lot. She could not tell her sister what she was worried about, for fear that Azail would not be able to accept it. Her sister left the car without another word and Athry was left searching the words to make up another excuse to keep Azail in that form for another couple of decades.

Katoteros

"Be relieved, family. Your worries are unfounded and unnecessary. It's a girl and very human at that. No horns or secret incisors just your average puny human. Very mortal." Urian began as he flashed himself into the living room. Simi followed suit, sulking.

"That lady was mean. She gives the Simi the stink eye. No one ever does that to the Simi except that mean heifer goddess. Oooooh if ever the Simi see her again she gonna hear what the Simi has to say." Simi pouted, slumping herself in the couch.

Ash and Styxx were on the floor playing with Galen, Sebastos and Theron. "So it's a girl?" They chorused as they both looked up at the same time. Although they may look and sound different, they still resemble each other so much that when they say things in unison, Urian gets peeved.

"Can we not do that please, it's freaky." Urian said, staring hard at his father and uncle. The twins just chuckled.

Tory looked up from grading her papers and slowly made her way to the couch.

"Had a bad day, Simikey?" She began, petting the demon in the head.

"Oh pooh! The Simi's too upset to talk about it akra-Tory." Simi replied as she cuddled Soteria close. She grabbed the remote control on the coffee table and dialled to QVC. "The Simi's just gonna watch QVC to make it go away."

Ash shook his head as Simi laid her head on Soteria's lap and proceeded on watching her show in silence. He turned to Urian who joined them on the floor to play with the babies.

"Anything worth telling us?" Styxx inquired as Urian picked up his brother.

"The new friend turned who out be a girl, has sister who marched into Sanctuary and plucked her out our table, resulting to Simi's ire. They left without further ado. No introductions. No nothing. Not that it matters. But she seemed a little agitated to me. Well, probably a lot. Anyway, who in their right mind wouldn't be when I'm in their presence?" Urian shrugged nonchalantly. "Also considering she wasn't human might have been the reason."

Ash and Styxx's identical eyebrows rose in unison.

"Sometimes I wonder where that arrogance came from." Tory mused, shaking her head at Urian.

"Did you just say the sister's not human?" Ash lifted a brow, curious.

"Yeah. She was probably a deity or something. She hid it pretty well. The killing intent on Simi and on myself gave away the disguise. You could have seen her. She was seething so much I could practically see her sizzle."

"No wonder Simi's upset." Tory said, still petting Simi's head. "Isn't that strange though? You said Simi's friend is mortal but the sister isn't?"

"Yeah and her disdain towards Simi was so tangible. I didn't get that." Urian added. "Simi said it was her first time seeing that person."

"What did she look like? You sure you haven't met her before?" Ash inquired, it would be difficult if they would have to handle someone they don't know having a grudge on his charonte like that, especially when it seemed, unjustified. "Can you identify which pantheon she could possibly be from?"

"The strange things is, I couldn't. She looked like an amazon, built like one actually, only leaner. Real tall, probably as tall as Tory and she had this tan like nothing I've ever seen before, the kid had it too. Almond shape eyes and slightly pert nose. She was good looking actually but the kind that intimidates you. Wasn't my type any way." Urian described. "And she had this look in her eyes that seemed like it could drown you."

True, the woman she met on the restaurant was a looker but he got turn off my the attitude. She may have been some sort of deity but she certainly didn't have any manners. Urian scoffed. Come to think of, most immortal beings don't.

Ash was trying not to cringe as Urian described the woman he said was the sister of Simi's friend. He knew a lot of tanned women who were built like an amazon but an amazon looking woman with almond eyes that could seem to drown you, only one woman would posses those eyes and she met him again just recently.

"Did she have three moles arranged like a triangle on her chin?"

Urian paused, recalling Athry's face. "Yeah, I think she did."

Just as he thought, it was her. Ash stood up, carrying Theron with him. He turned to Tory with a serious look.

"Hon, can I borrow the calling card Athry handed to you last time?"

Puzzled, Tory nodded. "Sure, just let me get it." She said as she stood up and headed for her purse that was on the table. She took the card and promptly handed it to Ash. She gave her husband a concerned look. "What do you need it for?"

"I'm gonna call her. It's rude to just flash into her house without permission. I'll just ask her why the Lemurian Chthonian had such killing intent towards Simi."

TBC