I blink awake to an unfamiliar place. A large bedroom, with a four poster bed, heavy drapes, massive windows and a small sitting area welcome me.
A familiar smell, clean and musky, cleanses my memory. But my head aches, what in the world happened to me?
I feel hesitant. An unfamiliar place, with no one around me. This isn't my room, my bed, my sheets.
I sigh and rub my eyes. I feel drained for some reason. Like all my energy has left. But I am pleasantly surprised when I find I am still able to walk.
I fling back the covers and stumble to my feet, closing my eyes as a wave of pain overtakes me. "Mm.." I press a hand to forehead. I look up and navigate through the room to one of the windows. I move one of the drapes to see a massive garden, rolling hills, and the outskirts of a city.
I abandon the window and look to find a door, I open it to find a luxurious bathroom. Nope, not an exit.
As I navigate, my memories come back. The festival and ferry. The Train and my Jump. Jabeth saving me and Jabeth's scarf. Then boarding the bus and meeting Charis.
On the other side of the room is another door. I open it and look to find a magnificent lounge with a staircase and long balcony with another room and longue. A door sits on either side of the current one I hold open.
This place is rich.. Not that my palace wasn't. But, it's new..
I trot down the stairs, scanning the room for any issues. Where are Jabeth and Xavier? Where am I anyway?
Suddenly, movement catches the corner of my eye. Quick and bright, even a flicker of heat warms the side of my body.
I turn around, but don't see anything. I hesitate before going down the stairs further. I need to relax, but I can't even remember why I'm here. Is this enemy territory? Unlikely, but then why do the hairs on my neck stand up on end?
I reach the base of the stairs and look around the magnificent place. Still no sign of Jabeth or Xavier.
I cup my hands around my mouth in an attempt to find them. "Xavier! Jabeth!"
No response. I couldn't have been kidnapped, could I? I feel myself pale before I pace the floor in front of the steps. I was with Jabeth and Xavier, and they wouldn't have left me, right?
I know for a fact that Jabeth and Xavier would protect me, and as wild as a guess it is, I just have this gut feeling.
Suddenly a creak sounds behind me and I turn in relief, expecting one of my current providers. But instead I come face to face with a firey inferno-
SHHHIIITTT! "GAH-" I'm knocked to the floor as a body slams into me, as hot as hellfire and fierce as a tiger.
"AH!" I scramble to protect myself, covering my face as jaws snap by my neck and claws scraping my sides, scuffing the wooden floor. "G-Get off!"
I come face to face with blue eyes. Not familiar to me in anyway. I watch as a streak of flames wave behind this beasts head. It's jaws dive for my neck again and I kick my legs against it, shoving the beast off of my body before scrambling to my feet and sprinting across the room. "Help! Somebody!"
I don't know what's happening right now, but I am pretty sure I need a new change of pants.
I slide over a table when I look to see the wolf darting across the side of the balcony, it's roars fierce and it's eyes determined. I disappear behind a wooden column and steady my breaths. This thing obviously wants to kill me.
I hesitate before looking around the column, but the flame is nowhere in sight. What was that?
Fiery jaws spring into view around the column and I scream, darting around the column and back into the living room where I see an emerging figure.
I run towards him and hide behind his back, my fingers clutching the loose sides of his shirt around his waist. He looks at me, confused.
Suddenly the beast comes into view and charges straight for us. My breaths are heavy and I scream up at Jabeth, "Kill it!"
He just blinks at it instead, and I don't bother to read his expressions as a bounding creature of heat and fire charges towards us. "Jabeth!"
The monster snarls at me and goes to lunge, where I cower behind Jabeth. His left arm comes behind him to shield one side of me while the other halts in front of him. "Stop!"
The beast halts to a crouch in front of him, growling at me with such hate. But Jabeth holds firm. "Zuko! Stop!"
Zuko? This thing has a name?
The wolf hesitates, weighing his options. But Jabeth changes his right hand to shield me as well until both arms cage me close. "Zuko, enough. She's a friend.."
Is he is bodyguard or something?
The beast halts, and the fire subsides. His fiery eyes don't back down, and only then do I see the flesh and fur beneath the flames.
A wolf? A wolf on fire, how am I not surprised?
Once Jabeth is sure 'Zuko' won't attack me, he rests his arms by his side, his breathing uneven. Was he scared?
He slowly looks to me, and I follow his gaze to my hands clinging to his thin grey t-shirt. I snatch my fingers away and dangle them by my side.
Jabeth looks like he just woke up. His brown hair is disheveled and there are flecks of sleep in his eyes. A pair of long pajama pants drops to his ankles and his feet are bare. A thin t-shirt clings to his muscles and hangs loose at his waist.
My eyes stray to a nearby sofa where a blanket is half dragged off the bed and some of the pillows on the floor.
Oh.. he must've been sleeping on the couch. So many questions plague me. Why am I here? Is this Jabeth's place? Where is Xavier? How does Jabeth command this wolf named Zuko?
He turns around and rubs his eyes, giving a half hearted chuckle. "Well good morning to you too."
I point to Zuko, is sits tall and proud. "Z-Zuko? You know him?"
Jabeth nods. "Yes, he's my, what some people may call," he quotes with his fingers. "Spirit Animal."
Oh, I mouth.
Jabeth looks back at Zuke before planting his hands on his hips. "He's also my bodyguard. He doesn't like visitors, and then again neither do I." He turns back to me. "Your the first female who has entered my wing of the mansion. And he knows I don't like women, so obviously the situation was suspicious."
I snort. "Obviously-wait what? I'm the first?" I point to myself.
Jabeth gives a half sided shrug. "In a matter of speaking, yes. The only other females who enter is the maids. And I only have one, the other is my butler."
I tiltt my head. "I thought butlers were extinct."
For the first time in a long while, I see a genuine grin stretch Jabeth's lips. He looks much better when he smiles, it even makes my breath catch.
I shake it off and turn to the matter of the moment. "So.. what happened to me?"