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    Lana swallowed hard, fingers clenched so hard on the edge of her seat that her knuckles turned white as she blinked rapidly, trying to hold back tears. The young darkling woman in the driver’s seat turned her amber gaze on her. “Lana? Are you going to be okay?” For once, Reenka’s voice was soft, and when Lana just shook her head, swallowing again, she reached over, giving Lana’s arm a slight reassuring squeeze. “I’m so sorry, Lana...” She glanced in the rearview mirror, to get a look at the exhausted tabby in the back seat. Lana shut her eyes, recounting mentally the events that had led up to this.

 

    Lana stood across the street from the public park, eyes scanning the children, until she finally saw him. Her breath caught in her throat, and she blinked back tears. “James...” she whispered, looking at the twelve year old boy who so care-freely spoke to another child. His hair was a dark, dark black, his eyes an aqua blue- yet unlike Lana, his facial structure favored their father. Lana took a deep breath, holding Kit close for a moment to calm herself. “It’s now or never, Lana...” Kit jumped from her arms, nudging Lana’s legs.

    Ten years ago, with the aid of Kan’deh’Len, Lana had looked up her family- but she had refused to go meet them. Finally, however, Lana had given in to Reenka and Kit’s nagging, and had again searched for them. But now that it was time... Lana balked. Kit nudged her again, and taking a deep breath, Lana walked forward.

    “Ex-excuse me, is your name James?” The little boy lifted his head, blinking blue eyes that reminded her so, so much of how her own used to be. “Huh? Yeah, why?” Lana sighed in relief. “May I speak to your parents? Please?” She barely even noticed it- the word your, instead of our. As if she no longer considered them her parents. The small boy thought nothing of it, smiling. “Alright. I’ll be back later, Terry!” He waved at his friend.

    Moments later, Lana found herself standing in front of a man, and a woman. Lana saw herself in the facial features of the woman- the oval eyes and small nose, the pointed chin. And the man- Lana swallowed, trying to fight down a lump in her throat. Her ears, which had so often annoyed her, and her smile- these she saw reflected back at her. She took a deep breath. “My... My name is Lana, sir, ma’am. And... Up until twelve years ago, it was Elilana.” She scooped Kit up, tensing.

 

    A long moment passed. Lana shut her eyes, about to turn away. “Eli? Elilana?” The note of astonishment in her father’s voice practically ripped her heart in two. “Lana these days. I... It’s me, papa.” Lana scarcely had time to blink before she was snatched up into a bone crushing hug. “Look at you! You’re all grown up now, I hardly recognize you! What happened to your hair, and eyes?” Her father brought his hand up to touch her hair, and Lana jerked away by instinct. “Magic. It’s... It’s a long story, papa.”

    “I have a sister?” Young James sounded... Almost angry. “You never told me that!” Lana’s father released her, and Lana looked to her mother- only to wince when she saw the woman looking at her coldly and angrily. Lana winced. “Mama?” The woman’s gaze remained impassive. “Don’t call me that. You’re not my daughter. You’re not Eli.”

    Lana took a step back when she heard the hate in the woman’s words, tears filling her eyes. “I am, mama. It’s me. I’m so, so sorry that it took me so long to come home... But it’s me, Eli. Don’t you remember when we’d make cookies together, when we’d-” Lana never got to finish her sentence, stumbling back and dropping Kit with a gasp when an open palm hit her cheek, leaving a red handprint. The tears that had threatened finally came, and she turned and ran before the woman could see them.

 

    Kit wasn’t even dazed from the ground, watching for a moment as Lana ran off- and how, after a moment, she began running on all fours, as she had for years. The aging tabby turned, purple eyes fixing on the woman with a glare. “Congratulations. You just sent your daughter running off in tears.” There was a gasp from the father as he spoke, and a screech from the mother. James, however, knelt down to look at the feline in curiousity. After a moment, the boy moved to pick him. up. Kit let him, jumping from the boys arms, to his shoulders. “You know, she was afraid of this, when Kan’deh’Len looked you two up. Seeing you now, I can’t say I blame her- I think she guessed your reaction almost perfectly.” The cat makes no effort to keep the disdain from his voice. “She spent two years in hell. Two years, wanting her mother. She was so fucking hopeful when we made this trip down here- about you, in particular. Talking all about the days she spent with her mother, how her mother loved her so much, how her mother made a blanket for her. She still has that blanket, you know. I don’t think she ever told Kan’deh’Len where she got it, or that she kept it, but she still has it. Spent hours one night, repairing every single tear, removing every stain, repairing it. Still sleeps with it when she’s scared.” Kit quiets, waiting for the woman to absorb this.

    Her answer was disappointing, in the extreme. “That’s not my daughter. I don’t know who she is, but that’s not my Eli!” Kit growled. Not the soft, irritated sound most cats make- no, this was a true growl, reminiscent of a large cat, like a lion- one of the few minutes where he allowed himself to show his-not-entirely-mundane nature- well, besides the talking, but the talking was unrelated, really. “She was. She’s not anymore, thank god for that. This would break her if she still considered herself to be your daughter. She stopped being Eli eleven years ago, stopped being yours a year after that. She’s not sure who she is now- but she was willing to find out with you. After this? Pretty safe bet that you just scared your kid away for good, lady.” Now Kit wasn’t the only one glaring- James had joined him now, glaring at his mother. “I had a sister, and you never told me!” “We thought she was dead, son..” His father started, trying to placate him. “The memory hurt your mother too much, we both agreed to move on with our lives. We had you to worry about now, remember?” This, if anything, seemed to just anger the twelve year old more. “That’s even worse! You would have just forgotten about her? About your own daughter? That’s horrible!” Kit nodded in agreement, fury entering his violet eyes. They forgot about Lana- They forgot about his Lana! How dare they! Without a word, the cat jumped from his perch, lifting his tail and stalking off, glaring angrily at the two adults as their son railed at them. After a moment, he ran, but not to Lana. No, first he need to find someone who could carry Lana. If she was as far gone as he feared- but he hoped she wasn’t- someone would need to, after all.

 

    Reenka tapped her fingers boredly on the steering wheel, wishing she hadn’t opted out of going to meet Lana’s family with them. True, the car was nice and cool, with no wasps, and it was also true that her appearance would cause a bit of a stir- at this thought, Reenka absently touched her index finger to a thin scar running across the back of her left hand- but it was so boring in this ca- Reenka was startled out of her musings when she heard a scratching at her door, looking over to see Kit scrambling up until her could hook his forelegs over the edge of the open window, looking angry. “Come on, Lana’s upset and I need someone with thumbs in case she’s gone off it.” This was the only explanation Reenka received before the cat jumped back down, and she got out of the car, starting to run as she saw he’d started without her.

    “Kiiit! What’s wrong? Did something happen, is she hurt, is there a demon?” Reenka fired off one question after another as she managed to catch up to the feline, hurrying along beside him. “Yes, emotionally and probably mentally. and only if you count her mother as one. And her father, I guess. The woman refuses to accept Lana as her daughter, the father was kind while she was there, but the moment she ran, he admitted that he had attempted to forget about her. That they both had.” Now Reenka joined Kit’s rage, silently promising herself that the two would pay for that. First, though, they had to find Lana.

    Surprisingly, that didn’t take long. They found Lana by a tree, leaning against it as she caught her breath, crying silently. Reenka said nothing, just walking over and hugging the white-haired woman gently, leading her back to the car.