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                Kira stays until college graduation.

                She studied European history, even though it never managed to hold her interest that much. She had picked her courses randomly, not caring what she did—after all, she’d reasoned, she would have hundreds of lifetimes to take more captivating classes—but she didn’t regret it. The mind-numbing assignments seemed to slow down time, postponing her inevitable exit.

                She tries not to attract much attention when she does. It’s hard enough as it is.

                “I’m sorry,” she says to Scott, “but I can’t do this.”

                He wants to understand; she can tell. He’ll never know, never understand the dread she felt in her stomach the moment she realized she was no longer aging, never know why it scares her so much to be around the pack while they all grow old and die. She wishes she had more time to explain her decision. How ironic, she thinks. I have all the time in the world, but not for the ones I love.

                Her mother supports her. Kira had a feeling she would. Her father is less understanding than Noshiko, but he still offers his support. Kira leaves before she can feel guiltier about it. She wonders if her mother did this nine hundred years ago, but she doesn’t ask. (She’s been keeping too much to herself lately, and she knows it.)

                She goes to Spain first—its history was one of the few things that she enjoyed studying. Time seems to resume as she immerses herself in the Spanish culture. She learns the language, even though it takes a few years, and she attends the University of Madrid. Her roommate Luciana is a poetry major, and they start dating in their last year. After graduation, they move into a studio apartment together.

                “Todo sucederá, podrá la muerte,” Luciana breathes one night. She has a habit of reciting poems, and Bécquer is one of her favorites. Kira doesn’t think anything of it until she comes back from her morning run and finds Luciana dead on the floor, a spilled bottle of pills in one hand.

                After that, she moves to south France.

                She finds work and lodging on an elderly couple’s farm, and their grandchildren teach her French. Out in the country, she loses track of time again. The only things that mark the years are the grandkids’ birthdays and the holidays. After several years, she packs up and leaves. She tells herself it’s so no one notices she isn’t getting older, but she knows it’s more than that. She knows it’s because she doesn’t want to get attached to anyone else.

                She spends the next year traveling throughout France, never staying anywhere for more than a week. She doesn’t settle down again until she makes it to the Belgium border. She rents out a small apartment in Brussels, gets a new passport with a new name, and enrolls in Dutch and German classes. Her passion, Kira decides, just might be languages.

                She sets off for Germany almost two years later, and quickly finds that her German is inadequate. She stays in Erfurt and takes an economics course at the university while she tries to perfect it. She ends up making a few friends; she knows she’ll end up regretting it when she has to leave again.

                “Do you believe in spirits?” Nils asks one day in halting English. He’s in Kira’s economics class, and they usually do their homework together. He helps her with her German, and she helps him with his English in return.

                I have a fox spirit inside me, Kira thinks. Out loud, she says in German, “I don’t know. Do you?”

                “Sometimes, I swear I can hear my little sister,” Nils says in English. He sketches a small girl on his notebook. “She died when she was vier—four.”

                “That’s terrible,” Kira says sympathetically. She changes the subject back to their school, and they never speak of it again. Kira would have wondered if the conversation actually took place if it weren’t for the image of the little girl that she saw every time Nils opened his notebook.

                After three years in Erfurt, she takes a plane to New Delhi. She doesn’t go to college—she’s had enough school in the last handful of years—but she does rent an apartment in the midst of the city. She gets a job at a local tea shop and starts to learn Hindi, but she only stays for a year and a half before one of her co-workers shoves her against a wall in the back and tries to feel her up. She punches him in the face, hard enough to hear something break, and flees to her apartment. By the next morning, she finds herself staring at a list of flights at the airport.

                “Pick for me,” she says to an old woman next to her. The woman points a crooked finger at the next flight to Cairo, and Kira buys herself a ticket.

                She falls in love with Egypt almost as soon as she arrives. Everything about it, from the noise to the heat to the busy streets fills her with overwhelming happiness. For the first time since she left Beacon Hills, Kira feels alive. She knows she wants to stay for a while, so she gets a condo instead of an apartment and signs up for Egyptian Arabic tutoring. It’s a bit harder for her to learn, but she eventually gets it down and starts making friends. She tells herself that it’s okay this time, because she’s here to stay. For a little while, at least.

                She loses track of time again, only caring when it’s time to renew her passport. Her fake name seems so unreal to her, and her mental dam breaks and floods her with memories of Beacon Hills. How old are her friends now? Are they in their late thirties? Early forties, even? That night, she lets herself weep for them and everything else she left behind.

                 Kira meets someone else later that year, a boy with a soft smile that reminds her too much of Scott for her to be comfortable. She packs her things and says goodbye to Egypt, leaving every memory that she can’t lock away. At the airport, she gets a ticket for the next departing flight and finds herself on her way to Mombasa, Kenya.

                “You look like someone on the run,” her seatmate says when Kira sits down.

                Kira looks away and bites her lip hard enough to taste blood.

                In Mombasa, she learns Swahili from the old woman living down the hall and gets a job at the hotel next door. In an attempt to not get attached, she stays away from most of her co-workers and doesn’t make any friends other than the old woman. She convinces herself she’s fine with it, but she knows she isn’t.

                Her time in Mombasa is calm and uneventful, until one night two years in when she comes across a man holding up a tourist couple with a knife, demanding they hand over their bags. Something inside her snaps, and before she knows what’s happening the man is unconscious on the pavement and the couple is screaming. She understands why when she looks down and sees her aura surrounding her.

                “Oh, God,” she whispers. “What did I do?”

                Without another word, she races back to her apartment, running faster than she’s ever run in her life. She throws all her belongings into her bags, not letting herself think anything until she’s at the airport. Shaking, she sinks into a chair in the corner of the lobby and calls her mother.

                “Mom,” she sobs as soon as Noshiko answers.

                “Kira?”

                “Mom, something happened—something—I—I did something. My aura. My fox. It’s back. I—” she breaks off and swallows her panicked gasps. “I hurt someone, Mom. I don’t know if he’s dead or not. It was an accident. I didn’t mean to, I swear.”

                “Kira, calm down,” her mother says forcefully. “Listen to me. You need to learn how to control the fox. I warned you something like this might happen; I’m surprised it took this long. Where are you?”

                “Kenya,” Kira whispers. She wipes at her cheeks with the back of her hand. “Mombasa, Kenya.”

                “Go to Mount Daisen, in Tottori, Japan. Ask for Katsuyoshi. He’ll help you. Don’t tell anyone your real name except for him. Do you understand?”

                “Yes,” Kira says weakly. “Thank you.”

                “Be careful, musume.”

                Kira takes the next flight to Dubai, and from there, flies to Osaka, Japan. One train and a car ride later, she finds herself in Daisen in the early hours of the morning, wondering where the hell she’s supposed to find Katsuyoshi (she hopes he speaks English or another language that she already knows, because she still can’t speak Japanese). She ends up at the foot of the mountain, waiting for someone to come by and tell her where she can find him.

                When the sun rises, a woman approaches her and asks her something in Japanese. When Kira indicates that she doesn’t speak the language, the woman switches to English. “Why are you here?”

                “I’m here to see Katsuyoshi,” she says. Remembering her mother’s advice, she adds, “I’m Seiko.”

                The woman leads her up the mountain to a small house and disappears inside. She returns a minute later with a young man who is obviously older than he looks.

                “You’re Katsuyoshi?” Kira asks. “My mother told me to find you. She said you could help me.”

                The man tells the woman something in Japanese, and she bows and leaves. “Seiko, is it?”

                “It’s Kira, actually. My mom said I should only tell you my name.”

                “And who is your mother?”

                “Noshiko Yukimura.”

                Katsuyoshi, Kira discovers, is a kitsune who has been helping other kitsunes control their fox spirits for hundreds of years. He puts her through vigorous training to hone her sword and hand-to-hand combat skills, and she learns Japanese from him along the way. He teaches her to become one with her fox, instead of trying to suppress it, and by the time four years have passed, Kira feels like she’s learned more than she ever has in her life.

                She leaves Mount Daisen when another young kitsune arrives and heads to Tokyo, where she spends another four years at a university studying Japanese history. Oh, she thinks when she starts learning more about Japan’s isolation periods. This is what I’ve been doing. She almost cries in class, barely managing to hold herself together until the lecture is let out. A girl who sits next to her finds her sobbing in the restroom after the lecture is over and offers her a tissue. She doesn’t ask why Kira is crying, and Kira doesn’t offer an explanation.

                After she graduates, she gets a new passport and moves to Seoul to embrace her Korean heritage. Seoul makes her feel the same way Cairo did, and she lets down her walls and brings new friends into her life who help her learn Korean. She attends another university, this time studying art history, and starts dating the American exchange student in one of her composition classes. He’s darker and meaner than she’d like, but she doesn’t want to be with anyone who will remind her of Scott.

                “Hye-ja,” he says one day at lunch, “you aren’t from Korea originally, are you?”

                Kira freezes.

                “I didn’t think so.” He leans across the table and tilts his head, studying her carefully. “I want to know where you’re from. I think you’re hiding something from the rest of the class.”

                “I never said I was from Korea.”

                “No, but you let everyone believe it.”

                “You know what, Austin?” Kira can feel her pulse rising. “You’re right. I’m not from Korea. I am hiding something. I’ve been on the run for years from a past I don’t want to remember. Happy?”

                “We’ve all got demons, sweetheart,” Austin says, grinning like a jackal. “Most of us don’t go through that much effort to get rid of them.”

                Kira dumps him that night.

                At the end of the week, she drops out of school and heads to the airport. She goes to Hong Kong this time and forgoes another university in favor of an office job at a bank. By the end of the first year, she’s semi-fluent in both Chinese and Cantonese, so she enrolls in the four-year history Ph.D. program at the University of Hong Kong. She befriends a few classmates, but she gets a single-person dorm to avoid becoming too close with anyone else. She wonders vaguely what her mother would think if she knew Kira was isolating herself like this. I’m Japan, she thinks. I can’t let myself be anything else.

                By the time she completes her Ph.D., she can speak Chinese and Cantonese with ease. There’s something enticing about both languages, and after she leaves Hong Kong she heads to Beijing so she can keep using them. This time, she starts working for a florist named Li-Mei in exchange for boarding above the tiny shop. Her room has a balcony overlooking a busy city street, and she spends her nights on it whenever she has trouble sleeping. Li-Mei gives Kira all the space and solitary she needs; she never asks any prying questions about Kira’s personal life.

                “Child,” Li-Mei murmurs one morning, six months after Kira first joins her. “I fear for you.”

                “What?” Kira stops clearing the table to stare at the older woman. “Why would you say that?”

                “I do not think your presence here has gone unnoticed.”

                “What do you mean, Li-Mei?”

                “I must visit the market,” Li-Mei says, ignoring Kira’s question. “Don’t forget to open the shop.” She gathers her things and leaves without another word.

                As soon as Kira goes downstairs into the shop, she knows something is wrong. Her sword, a handmade gift from Katsuyoshi, is hidden upstairs under her mattress, so she braces herself for hand-to-hand combat as she picks her way through the store.

                She barely makes it to the front door before a snarl sounds behind her.

                She whips around and swings her leg up for a high kick, but a hand shoots out and snatches it out of the air before she can make contact with anything. Claws pierce her skin as her attacker forces her to the ground, and she lets out a shriek of pain. The werewolf releases her and she rips away, leaping back to her feet for another attack.

                “Not a wise decision,” her assailant croons. He’s a least a foot taller than she is, with lean muscles showing clearly under his shirt. He tips his head to the side, and two more werewolves slip out from the shelves to flank him. “We don’t like outsiders here. Especially not foxes.” He says the last word like it tastes foul in his mouth.

                “I wasn’t aware I was intruding,” Kira replies, using English for the first time in months. She wants them to know she isn’t a threat, but she doesn’t know how to interpret the looks they exchange. “I don’t want any trouble.”

                “You’re American,” the first wolf says in English. “That makes this more interesting.”

                “I’ll leave,” Kira says. “Please. Just give me an hour and I’ll be gone.”

                The first wolf murmurs something she doesn’t hear to his companions, and then nods at Kira. He stays while she packs; when she finishes he insists on escorting her to the airport. He’s completely silent on the way there, but once they arrive at the airport he pulls her aside and pushes her against a wall.

                “You can stay,” he says. “As long as my alpha doesn’t know that you’re here.”

                “And why would you lie to your alpha for me?” Kira asks.

                “Because you’re the first fox I’ve met who hasn’t tried to kill me. You intrigue me.”

                “I can’t hide on my own,” Kira says. “I don’t know anything about the wolf packs here.”

                He leans close and breathes in her ear, “I’ll help you.”

                His name is Mǐn, and he stays true to his word. He secures her an apartment in a quieter corner of the city, one that he swears his alpha won’t find her in. He visits her regularly, claiming that he just wants to make sure she’s safe, but Kira thinks there’s more to it than that—not that she minds the attention. She’s just as interested in him as he is in her.

                Within a month, they’re together. They’re not a couple, they’re not fuck buddies, but they are something. Kira spends her days volunteering at a homeless shelter and spends her nights with Mǐn when he isn’t out hunting down his alpha’s enemies. It’s a good arrangement, and she’s okay with it.

                She should’ve known it wouldn’t last. Several months in, she comes home from the shelter and finds a woman sitting in her kitchen. The woman smiles, all fangs, and Kira instantly knows she’s Mǐn’s alpha. A wave of nausea washes over her, and a heavy stone settles in her stomach.

                “Did you kill him?” she whispers in Chinese.

                “The traitor?” the alpha asks. “Your lover? Of course he’s dead. You’re next, little fox.”

                “I’ve been through too much to die now,” Kira says. She lets her fox take control, and she barely remembers bashing the alpha’s head into the wall, successfully knocking her out. The follow-up attack from her betas is a blur, too, and Kira can only hope she restrained her fox enough to stop any deaths.

                The first thing she remembers with absolute clarity is her arrival at the airport. She lets herself cry for Mǐn on her flight, but once she lands in London she locks him away with all her other memories. She swears on her life that she’s done getting close to people.

                Years go by quicker than they did before. Kira suspects it’s due to her disassociation with others. She travels to Ireland, then Italy and Greece and Russia. She goes to Amsterdam to study art, and when she finishes she spends a few years in the Philippines and Indonesia. In each country she visits, she makes an effort to learn the language—she knows so many languages that she rarely thinks in or uses English anymore, something that she’s very proud of—and she attends college in several of them.

                When she changes her name and passport for the third time since China, she heads to São Paulo, Brazil. It’s the first time she’s set foot in the Americas in decades. Her fluency in Spanish helps her learn Portuguese easily, and she doesn’t waste any time enrolling in a Brazilian history course at a local university, though it’s less because she wants to and more because of her father. She suspects that he’s passed away since she left Beacon Hills, but she doesn’t dare let herself think about it.

                When she graduates from college for the umpteenth time, she moves to Rio. On her fourth night there, she runs into a handful of werewolves outside of a grocery store. It’s painfully obvious that they’ve been waiting for her, so Kira raises her hands slightly, the weight of her groceries preventing her from lifting them much farther.

                “I don’t want any trouble,” she says in English.

                “Good,” the closet werewolf says, grinning widely. “We don’t either.” She shoves off of the wall and circles behind Kira, sizing her up, then tips her head to the side. “Rather tiny for a kitsune, aren’t you? I always imaged you people to be much… bigger.”

                “Guess you’re lucky I’m not,” Kira replies, trying to sound lofty and flippant instead of scared. She wishes she had her sword with her, but Brazil’s biggest tourist hotspot isn’t exactly the best place to go wandering around with a katana strapped to your back. (It’s times like these that Kira misses the sword-belt combo her father made for her for her senior year of high school.) “If you don’t want trouble, what do you want?”

                “My mother always told me that foxes have tongues of silver,” one of the werewolves says in Portuguese to the first wolf. “Be careful what you believe.”

                “I’m not an idiot,” the woman snaps, not taking her eyes off Kira. She switches to English and says, “Our alpha likes to know who’s in his territory. One of our fellow betas saw you at the airport, and he's very interested in meeting you.”

                “Of course he is,” Kira says coolly. “Is he also interested in killing me?”

                The woman laughs, and several of the other werewolves join in, though none of them are as loud as her. When she finally stops, she grins at Kira again. “You certainly have a mouth on you. Although, from what I hear, most foxes do.” The last part is pointed, almost a warning.

                “Are we going to stand around and chat, or are you going to take me to your alpha?” Kira asks, letting irritation into her voice. She lifts one of her grocery bags. “I have food I need to get in the fridge.”

                The woman laughs again. “Very well. Why don’t you return your groceries to your apartment, and we will retrieve you in half an hour?” She reaches out a finger and digs it underneath Kira’s chin. “Do not try to run away, pequena. Our pack owns this city and all the surrounding ones. You will not get far before we catch you.” She smiles again, slowly, revealing her fangs. “And then there will be trouble.”

                “I’m terrified,” Kira says dryly, but the wolves are already disappearing into the shadows of the parking lot and none of them acknowledge her. She takes the next bus back to her apartment and, after she puts her food away, settles on the front step of the apartment building to wait.

                The woman from before is the only one who shows up, but Kira suspects that the others are lurking nearby in case she decides to fight. They won’t get one, Kira thinks. She’d reluctantly left her sword under her bed so that she wouldn’t start a fight—accidentally or not. The woman says nothing, just smiles and beckons to Kira.

                Kira follows her through a back alley to a waiting car, and although she hates the idea of getting in it, she slides into the backseat behind the wolf. The drive is silent, although the other woman watches Kira the entire time, amusement sparking behind her dark eyes.

                When the car finally comes to a stop, Kira is led out of the car into a large mansion overlooking the beach. The place is crawling with werewolves; she can feel their eyes following her as she goes by. The woman takes her to a light, open lounge where a dark-skinned man is waiting.

                The man’s commanding presence leaves no doubts in Kira’s mind that he is the alpha. Not knowing what the customary greeting is, Kira merely says, “Hello.”

                “Hello,” the man repeats. He glances past Kira to the wolf who brought her in and says in Portuguese, “You’re sure this is the kitsune?”

                “I’m sure,” the woman says.

                The man smiles and turns back to Kira. “Forgive my rudeness,” he says in English, spreading his hands wide. “I prefer to know the supernatural creatures living in my territory.”

                “Perfectly understandable,” Kira replies.

                “My name is Ciro,” the man continues. “I’m the residing alpha in this region. My territory is vast, and it is only by my good grace that most packs are allowed to live in it. I also allow singular travelers to live here, whether omegas or… others.” He smiles at Kira.

                “You’re quite generous,” Kira says carefully. “What do you want from me in return?”

                “My pack has kept this territory for countless generations,” Ciro says. “It is only by a certain set of rules that we have maintained ordered. If you wish to stay, you will obey our rules and answer to our pack. If this will be an issue for you, we will ask you to leave.”

                “I just got here,” Kira replies. “I don’t feel like leaving yet. What are your rules?”

                Ciro’s rules are simple and to the point. No killing, no revealing oneself to humans, and no fighting with any other supernatural creatures. Kira is all too willing to accept the terms, and she is returned swiftly to her apartment. She sleeps soundly, feeling safe for the first time since Mǐn’s death, and, in the morning, applies to another university’s history program.

                As the years go by, she keeps a civil relationship with Ciro’s pack, staying out of their way and focusing on her school and work. She doesn’t personally see Ciro again until after she graduates when she pays him another visit to thank him for his hospitality. She leaves Brazil after that, and spends the next two years in Cuzco, Peru, before deciding to move to an island.

                One renewed passport and one boat ticket later, Kira finds herself in Kingston, Jamaica, with an overpriced apartment and no job. Her mother has continuously been placing large sums of money into Kira’s private bank account over the years, with Kira adding a fair portion herself with her various jobs, but after two extremely expensive college tuitions in Brazil, the account is starting to run dry. A month goes by before she manages to find a minimum wage job, and after only another month, she decides it isn’t worth it and packs her bags.

                Her next destination is sunny Jacksonville, Florida, and after only a few weeks of job-searching, she gets hired as a world history professor at a local community college. She loves the work—after learning so much history from various countries, she knows more than the curriculum does and she instills tidbits of trivia with her students every now and then. As a result, the students take an instant liking to her and her reputation spreads around the school (it feels strange to her, to be on this end of the college experience, but she thinks she likes it).

                Florida suits her, but she only stays in Jacksonville for a few years. Her passport already puts her age at higher than her looks, and she knows it won’t be long before someone notices that her students look older than she does. She ends up moving to Key Largo, and spends another two years relaxing at a beachfront condo. Once she catches herself befriending locals, she rapidly gets a new passport and name and buys the first ticket to an international flight on the airport’s website.

                When she lands in Montreal, she ends up enrolling in another local college’s history program (another Ph.D.) and getting one of the private dorms instead of an apartment. She starts working two different jobs on campus to cover the cost, but she distances herself from her co-workers to avoid an abrupt end like in Key Largo.

                After Kira graduates, another large sum is deposited in her account, so she leaves Canada and goes to Greenland, where she struggles to learn Danish and Greenlandic. She spends six years there, living with a girl around her age (well, she corrects herself, around her physical age), before she finally gets a new passport and moves again. She goes to Denmark, armed with her new fluency in Danish, and from there ends up spending several years each in Norway, Finland, and Sweden, once again learning the languages as she goes.

                When she finally gets bored of Scandinavia, she heads to Saudi Arabia and spends another plethora of years traveling through the Middle East and Asia. She loses count of how many times she either renews or replaces her passports, to the point where she doesn’t know the amount of names she’s carried since leaving Beacon Hills. Before, it hadn’t been very hard to keep track—now, with dozens of identities in dozens of different countries, she can’t be bothered to obsess over them.

                She thinks about her mother, wondering if Noshiko went through the same thing or if she chose to stay in one place anonymously. At some time during her stay in Pakistan, several million dollars had been dropped into Kira’s account, and she had assumed that her mother finally passed away. She doesn’t know how her mother managed to live as long as she did—Kira herself is already growing restless, and it hasn’t been anywhere close to the better part of a millennia that her mother had lived.

                Eventually, she returns to South Korea and enrolls in another college in Incheon, earning a degree in Korean music history. Once she graduates, she buys a plot of land out in the country and fumbles through a dozen different housing blueprints before finally breaking down and commissioning one from a father-son carpenter duo.

                “I don’t understand,” the teenage son asks her one day as she helps him mark a board for cutting, “why would you want to live out here all by yourself?”

                “I’ve been alone for most of my life,” Kira says, smiling sadly. “I’m just tired of running.”

                She completely loses track of time after her house is finished. She doesn’t have anything except the home and the woods, and she is blissfully unaware of the outside world. Everything she needs she has—a stream for fresh water and fish, a forest full of healthy plants to eat and land animals to hunt, a cozy, strong home, and a clearing to practice with her sword. She even ends up taking in a few hurt animals she finds in the woods, nursing them back to health and then setting them free.

                She can finally be happy, or at least pretend to be.

                After years and years and years, the temptation to travel again overwhelms her, and she ends up on an airplane to Paris. She’d picked it through her old trick—the first available flight—and although she’d been there before while roaming France, that was decades ago and she wants to see how much it’s changed since then.

                The first thing she does is get a hotel room—she doesn’t plan on staying much longer than a few weeks—and the second thing she does is revisit the Eiffel Tower. As she stands on the observation deck, looking over the city, she feels a shiver go through her. She’d seen the date on her plane ticket earlier that day, and she finds it hard to believe that she’s spent almost two hundred years exploring the globe.

                Kira thinks of her old friends and knows, with absolute certainty, that they’re all dead now. “I could go back now,” she whispers aloud in English. She draws a circle on the railing in front of her.

                “Back where?” a voice next to her asks. She jumps, startled, and looks over her shoulder to see a beautiful black girl smiling warmly at her. “Do you travel a lot? This is my first time outside of the U.S.”

                “I used to,” Kira says, managing a smile. Something about the girl seems familiar, but Kira can’t place it. “I haven’t in a long time, though.”

                “What countries have you been to?” the girl asks.

                “It’d probably be easier to say which ones I haven’t been to.”

                “Oh, wow.” The girl laughs. “That sounds like a story. Tell you what,” she continues, lifting up the camera hanging around her neck, “I’m actually studying abroad. Photojournalism. I’m supposed to make this huge project about interesting people I meet.” She points a long, red-painted fingernail at Kira. “You sound pretty damn interesting. Can I buy you coffee and put you in it?”

                “Okay,” Kira agrees easily. “As long as free coffee is involved, you’ve got me.”

                “Awesome,” the girl says, her smile splitting into a huge grin. “Let’s go!”

                “Right now?” Kira asks, slightly bemused, and the girl nods encouragingly. She reaches out to grab Kira’s arm, but as soon as her fingers touch Kira, Kira’s foxfire sparks onto her skin, burning her.

                “Ow!” she exclaims, jerking her arm back. “Wow, that was so weird—like some freak static electricity. Are you okay?” she adds, glancing at Kira with a worried look in her eyes.

                Kira stares at her blankly. The question and the look are the final pieces she needs, and she suddenly knows exactly why the girl seemed familiar. She opens her mouth, but the only thing she can manage is a raw, broken, “Scott?”

                “What?” the girl says. Her concerned look turns into confusion, but Kira knows what she saw. She doesn’t know how or why, but she knows this girl is Scott. The girl waves her hand in front of Kira’s face and says, “Hey, you okay?”

                “Sorry,” Kira says quickly, shaking her head. Scott, Scott, Scott. “I think that shock messed me up,” she continues, smiling sheepishly. Scott. It’s you. “You still up for coffee?”

                “Of course,” the girl replies. Scott’s big smile is coming back onto her face, exactly like Kira remembers it. “Shall we?”

                She doesn’t know why this girl is Scott, but as Kira follows her to a corner café, she realizes she doesn’t care. The only thing that she cares about is that he’s back.

                Scott’s back.