Stranger in the Wind

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They pulled apart at last, and Alice traced one finger over her own lips. They felt slightly tingly, "that was nice. You taste like chocolate."

Altair chuckled, trailing one finger over her wrist, "you do too. But then, you always taste good."

Alice glanced down as he traced one finger over the metal links of her charm bracelet, "it's funny ," she said, "how I can wear something all the time and know so little about it. Why aunt Ruby gave it to me, how she knew I would need it. What the stupid moon means..." She frowned, "I wish I'd asked aunt Ruby's friend more questions, you know, the one in Prague with the jewelry shop..." she tried to remember the woman's name.

"She wasn't much help anyways," Altair fingered one of the charms, rubbing the silver heart between his fingers, "very vague, seemed to like her riddles too much."

A sudden thought occurred to her, "say, what happened to that weird money bracelet you got there? Where did it go?"

Altair shrugged, "I got rid of it ages ago. You hated that thing."

She stared at him for a moment, mouth open slightly, "I...you got rid of it? For me? Just because I didn't like it?"

Altair laced his fingers with hers, "I got rid of it because you didn't like it. You thought it made me...greedy or something. I didn't want you thinking I was all greedy or something," he reached out and ran one hand over her hair, "I have everything I want anyways, I don't need money."

She leaned forward and kissed him firmly on the lips, "you make me ridiculously happy, you know that?"

He grinned, that easy charming grin she'd fallen so hard for.

"You throw away money making jewelry," she grinned back, "rescue me from evil magicians..."

He laughed, "That was hardly me, darlin' I think he could have smooshed me on the sidewalk, that one," Altair grumbled, "me being a reg and all..."

Alice rolled her eyes, "You're not a reg, Altair. You're still sour he called you that, huh?"

"He thought I was," he grunted, "hell, I might as well be, for all the good I am with all these monsters chasing after you."

Alice frowned, noticing that he suddenly wouldn't meet her eyes, staring down at his shoes, his long blonde hair obscuring his face. The thought occurred to her suddenly, that Altair probably felt helpless all the time. When Ambrose had been after her, he had no magic to help, and he couldn't hope to defend her from Athena. And he'd been helpless against Ekile. How long had he been feeling inadequate? She squeezed his hand fiercely, "Altair, there are plenty of things you protect me from. Remember that werewolf who was coming on to me last week? You kicked his hairy butt out onto the sidewalk. That was awesome."

Altair snorted, "yeah, but you could have just turned him into a newt if you'd wanted to. And the best I can do is see the magic, I can't even touch it. When Sarah....when she did the spell on me, I could feel it happening. I could even see it. I just couldn't fight it...or do anything at all about it." The frustration was plain on his face, "what happens when that nut case goddess finally catches up with us? Or maybe she already knows where we are and she's just biding her time. What if she decides she wants to come for you? I won't be able to do a damn thing about it..." He ran his fingers through his hair, and Alice reached out and caught one of his hands, holding it between her own, "We'll deal with it if it happens," she forced a shaky smile, to try to show him she wasn't afraid, "We've already finished off one god, we'll just do it again. You know you helped with the Ambrose thing, right? We all got rid of him together, we'll just...repeat the same thing. Team work."

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