Chapter 25

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"So... we're going to meet your magical little friend again? The one that kidnapped not one, but two people without batting an eye?"

"You don't have to go if you don't want to." Evelyn said, trying not to be too annoyed at the comment since she could understand Brandon's reservations.

"Oh no," Brandon said. "First off, I'm more than curious about what's going to happen during your 'lessons' with him. And second, you need someone there in case things go a little wonky."

Evelyn laughed. "And just what do you think you're going to do if things get 'wonky'?"

"Oh, I got mad kung-fu skills!" Brandon said, dramatically waving his hands in the air like he was getting ready to act in a bad action movie.

"Really?" Evelyn laughed. "Mad kung-fu skills? And just where have these 'mad kung-fu skills' been since I've known you?"

Brandon dropped his hands, feigning defeat. "OK, I got nothing. Chances are I'll just curl up into a ball and cry. But hey! While he's beating me at least you'll have a chance to run away!"

Evelyn shook her rolled her eyes and took his hand. She was in a good mood. The tension at school had all but gone away with news that both Jessica and Derek had not only been found alive, but that they were doing well and would be back to school soon. No details came out officially in regards to what had happened, but Evelyn knew it was only a matter of time before someone in the search party talked about what they saw. Hopefully when that news came out it wouldn't be so strange that she would have some explaining to do at home.

For the moment, however, Evelyn could take whatever good news she could get. It didn't take long for her to fill Brandon in on Puck's visit, and even less time for him to insist on coming with her to meet up with him. His nervousness about Puck was far outweighed by his excitement to see more magic in person. In fact, the end of day buzzer hadn't even finished ringing when Brandon had pulled Evelyn from of her last classroom and out the door.

"So what's he going to teach you today?" Brandon asked as they walked, his excitement contagious.

"Oh, I don't know. Maybe teach me how to use trees as bindings, grow a wooden cage, maybe even create an entire boiler room out of leaves! Really get good at that whole, kidnapping thing. You know?"

Brandon stopped walking and shot her a look. "Funny."

"Hey, you asked!" Evelyn replied with a wink.

It wasn't long before they were off the sidewalk and into the greenish light of the woods. The change from their last visit was palpable. The air was damp, cool and heavy. It smelled of sweet grass and moss, morning dew and afternoon rain. Squirrels and birds played along the ground and flew within arm's reach, seemingly unafraid of the strangers who had wandered within their playground. Evelyn looked around in wonder, suddenly feeling more alive and at home than she had ever felt before.

As they wandered further along the path flowers sprang from the ground at their feet and colored the ground in bright hues of reds and yellows, whites and blues. Their scent sweetened the air further still, drawing in hordes of colorful butterflies and buzzing hummingbirds who took as little notice of the couple as the squirrels.

The sound of water drew called to them from within a thick patch of underbrush. Evelyn smiled and took Brandon's hand, pulling him along and straight at the tangled wall of vegetation. As they drew near the plants swayed and moved, each pulling themselves away from the other to form a path that led to a small, bubbling pool no more than four feet wide. Puck sat cross legged on a stone at the water's edge along the opposite side, seemingly too entranced in his own distorted reflection to notice their entrance into his presence.

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