Kit's parents – Mr. and Mrs. Fletcher to teachers and other assorted adults, Mum and Pop Fletcher to the gossips, whom they'd taken an instant liking to, Lara's mom or Lara's dad to his sister's friends and Mom and Dad to them – were certainly taking their time getting home. Not that Kit was anything more than mildly curious about when they were going to arrive; he had more pressing matters on his mind. Like just how much spaghetti he wanted to eat. Did he want the meat sauce or the cheese sauce? Would it be worth making garlic bread? And, more importantly, just how long was a minute? That was how long Lara had said she would be, and if he was going to finish packing, he needed someone to watch the pot.

"What did you want?" his sister grumbled. Then she stared at him, her mouth working silently as though she were working out a difficult problem, before shouting, "Spaghetti is not a breakfast food!"

It wasn't? Since when?

He thought it over for a bit, measuring out about how much he thought he would eat, and then adding another handful for good measure. She was right. He'd never seen anyone else eat spaghetti for breakfast, though that never stopped him. Turning off the element, he put the spaghetti back into its container and shoved it into the cupboard. Well, that solved the problem of what kind of sauce he wanted.

His stomach grumbled, and he thought longingly of a morning four years ago in the Aelfen world, when everyone had been thrusting every kind of food imaginable at him. No one had said that noodles weren't breakfast food then. He frowned at the pot of water. Actually, everyone had been too busy telling him that he needed to gain weight (which he had) because he looked like he would have broken if he fell funny (which he wouldn't have) and that he needed to eat! (Still true.)

"What am I going to do with the water, then?" he demanded. Lara was hardly one to tell him what could or couldn't be eaten for breakfast, considering what she ate whenever their parents were out of the house. If spaghetti couldn't be eaten at ten in the morning, then ice cream and chocolate syrup were definitely off limits.

"Use it for lunch." She wandered back out of the room, tossing her hair over one shoulder.

He stuck out his tongue and threw open the refrigerator door, searching through the shelves for something that could possibly count as breakfast food before spotting the remains of Thursday's roast. People had meat with breakfast, didn't they? Steak and sausage and bacon. Well, steak and roast came from the same animal, and steak could be eaten for breakfast, so roast was now officially a breakfast food! Pleased with his conclusion, he set about making a sandwich, cheerfully adding anything else that was breakfasty by the same logic as the roast, said things including tomatoes, horseradish, onion, green and red peppers, mustard, salt, pepper, hot sauce, lettuce, mushrooms and a little white cheese.

Armed with his bulging sandwich, he marched upstairs to finish packing. There wasn't really that much left to do, just wrap some of the nicer carvings so that they didn't get battered, hide as many of the cross-bred seeds he'd promised his Healer mentor as he could, make sure he had at least four chocolate bars for gossip bribes and remember the camera he'd somehow forgotten every other reunion. Then he had to pull Aria's wedding present out from the back of his drawer, where it had been hiding since he'd purchased it the summer before – no way was he going to bother explaining to Lara why he had a silver and diamond bracelet. Shadow's gift was far from his sister's reach – Stormwing had worked with him on the carving, and the combination of Earth and Water magic had made it a wonderful thing.

He was wrapping a mixture of mostly Aelfen plants and munching the remains of his sandwich when the phone rang.

"'Lo?" Kit mumbled, swallowed, and then added, "Kit here."

"Kit? Great, I thought I'd missed you. You didn't say when your flight was, and it's already Sunday morning. It's Andrew, by the way."

The Earth's'guardian grinned at the phone. "I know. You're the only male gossip. And I leave tomorrow."

"The only non-honorary male gossip, you mean. Well, I just wanted to say that I hoped you had a good trip. Be nice to our encair, mainly 'cause Nat'll chop you up into little bits if you don't."

"And she'll chop you up if you don't tell me?"

There was a pause. "In a sense. But, of course, she loves me far too much to do any permanent damage. You, on the other hand, only have luck and speed and a bit of magic to keep you safe from a vengeful Gossip Queen."

"And the rest of the Guardians," he pointed out happily. "Even if I've got Aria mad at me, they won't let Natalie kill me because they'd rather have Sarah do it and make sure the job was done right. Anyways, Nat's graduated now, so unless she works her way up in the post-secondary Chain" – far less reliable, mainly because of homework loads, and with surprisingly more guys – "she's not a Queen anymore."

"She'll still kill you, though."

"I'll believe that." He picked up a packet, studied it for a moment, and then nodded. "Come over to my house sometime today and I'll give you some tea. It's Aelfen, and Nat will do anything for it. She nearly killed me when I told her I didn't have any more. I guess this pack slipped in back."

"Sure. I'll be over in an hour or so."

"You want some spaghetti?"

"What?"

"Spaghetti. It's not a breakfast food, evidently, so I didn't make it. But if you can eat it for supper, you can eat it for lunch, so I'm having spaghetti for lunch. Want some?"

"Lara finally told you that spaghetti isn't for breakfast?" Andrew's voice, now slightly strangled, strongly suggested laughter being choked back. Then, suspiciously, "So what did you have for breakfast?"

"A roast beef sandwich."

The gossip gave up his struggle to hold back his laughter.

Kit leaned against the doorway and slowly thumped his head against it. He should have remembered that giving one gossip permission to come over was basically asking for all of them to show up. Still, by the time the Rachel arrived, he'd had the common sense to hide the spaghetti. Some twenty-odd girls – along with two guys – could eat far more spaghetti than he had in the house. As it was, he'd ended up breaking into his stash of chips and other snacks, silently wondering all the while just why everyone had to come to his house.

Well, because his was more or less central to all of the gossips of the Kierstha region. And because he was a very nice enshira, or at least, that's what Nat said. And because in a house where the supervising teen was 'calm, if a bit weird' – Lara had told her friends that often enough, usually when he was 'asleep' – some twenty-odd girls were nothing to shout about, especially when parents weren't calling and asking why their daughters spent so much time there. More than likely that last was because gossips weren't idiots.

He drummed his fingers a bit, worrying about one of the grade ten gossips, Melanie. She was cheerful enough, and she wasn't having any trouble at home, but she was a hemophiliac, and he had no idea what to do about that. Most of his training had been battlefield related – relaxing muscles that were convulsing, healing bone and skin, repairing damage done to brain cells and staunching blood flow, not thickening blood or whatever it was that one did to cure hemophilia. Maybe Ravenar, the Aelfen Healer who'd taught him, would have some ideas.

The doorbell rang and the Earth's'guardian made a strangled sound. Who hadn't been here already? With a sigh, he turned around pulled open the door and said, "Hello, th –" He blinked at the slim, brown-eyed girl who stood before him. "Oh. Jenna. Come on in."

"You were expecting someone else?"

"Maybe." Anyone else, really, with the exception of the mythics. He never seemed to know when Jenna was coming, unless Lara had told him so.

"The blonde?"

"Not until tomorrow. She's staying with Nat." Then, when he noticed the slight gleam in her eyes, he added in the bland sort of voice gossips used when stating the obvious, "She's engaged. The wedding is in British Columbia this summer." Or maybe not. But he was hardly going to add that it was possible that the Air's'guardian and the Shadow were going to get married in the Aelfen World, with a vast assortment of mythics acting as Aria's kin.

"Oh."

He shook his head when she trotted up the stairs to Lara's room. The pair of them would do quite well in the gossip Chain, though there might be a few delicate areas. Like when Nat's successor told Lara that her 'calm, if a bit weird' brother was actually the Earth's'guardian, a mage that outranked emperors and had Healed thousands in a single afternoon, before bringing the Fire's'guardian back from near death. That little talk would earn him a much louder conversation – preferably over the phone, because he still wasn't certain which of his parents he got his Aelfen blood from, much less whether they were aware of it.

Something tickled the corner of his mind. Not the so-welcome touch of another Guardian's thoughts, but something still very much appreciated, considering the circumstances: His parents. Not quite here yet – the cluster of trees up the street had recognized them, in the vague sort of way that trees remembered people. Sociable, though inanimate beings that they were, they passed the message down. Enshira's parents are coming – since trees didn't move, coming was more of an impression of the changing seasons than anything – down the street now. Or, depending on the language one spoke, Green one's mothertrees season changing leaf falling stone river. Perspective, as his English teachers had insisted while they overanalyzed yet another piece, was important.

Kit smiled, straightened his shirt a bit, listened to make sure Lara and Jenna hadn't done anything ridiculous or questionable or Shakespeare related – and, no matter what class Lara insisted it was for, there would be no practicing of plays in the house while he was supervising. At least, not practices that involved his sister kissing boys that were looking a little too closely at certain body parts below her neck. And since her English and Drama teachers were fond of those plays and Lara was a remarkable actor, that meant she was usually in that sort of role. The first time it had happened – the beginning of his grade twelve, Lara's grade eight – he'd been reading a book on avian bone structures and listening to his sister and company doing the final touches on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, it had stunned him just long enough that the kiss had ended before he'd said anything. But after a look at the carefully blank look on Lara's nearly six foot tall brother's face, her classmates had very hastily agreed that perhaps they had practiced enough, and really had to go now.

A second before his parents would have reached the door, he opened it and waved at them. "Here, Mom, I'll get that for you. Lara's upstairs with Jenna, and there's some spaghetti in the fridge if you're hungry." His mother cheerfully surrendered the two suitcases, hugged him, and then returned to the car to shut the trunk. The enshira hid a wince – just how much stuff had his parents brought with them? – and carried them to the foot of the basement stairs. When he came back up, Lara and Jenna were downstairs again, his sister bouncing eagerly from foot to foot and her friend anxiously twisting her hands behind her back.

"Please, Mom?" Lara begged. "It's already been paid for, and Lindy couldn't come because her parents won that vacation in Italy. Everything's already set up, and Lindy said that I could pay her half back and then she wouldn't have to buy me a Christmas present."

His mother looked at her husband, who shrugged in the same sort of way that Kit and Andrew shrugged when Natalie asked them about something they really didn't want to get involved in. "The tickets are for tomorrow, and they're non-refundable," Jenna added. "We've tried, but it's too late for that. And the last day to get out of the camp was Friday, and Lindy only found out about the trip the day after you left, Mrs. Fletcher. We would have asked out, but we couldn't reach you."

Kit would have agreed – when his parents went out, they went out, and neither brother nor sister could reach them – but he still wasn't sure just what else he would be agreeing to. His tickets were non-refundable for a rather different reason, after all: free coach tickets given away by a former gossip didn't have an ethical monetary value. In any case, he was going to British Columbia no matter what happened, even if he had to tell his parents that he was the Earth's'guardian and that he really needed to get going because his dragonchild friend Stormwing, who also happened to be the Water's'guardian, was building a World Gate so that he could jump from Ontario to the Aelfen court to British Columbia.

Lara pulled out her best card. "You let Kit go out of the province!"

"I'm eighteen," he pointed out dryly. "Technically, I'm not under my parents' anymore. Just my landlords'."

"You were fourteen when you went to BC, and you didn't even have someone you knew with you!"

He ignored that. "Where does she want to go?"

"Jenna and Lindy were going to camp, but Lindy –"

"Is going to Italy now, yes."

"– so now Lara has these tickets and a free space at camp, and I want to go to Goldenwood!"

"You want to go –" Kit paused, realized just what she'd said, and then all but shouted, "You're going to Goldenwood?" Nononononononono! Not good, not good, not good at all. Younger sister and friend finding out that eighteen-year-old older brother was going to a camp to meet up with some of his friends and then finding out that said friends weren't all human. He could feel his summer slipping like water through his fingers and stifled a groan. Why now?

– Something I should know about going on? – an amused mental voice asked.

– Aria! My sister wants to go to Goldenwood! –

"Why wouldn't you want me to go? You said it was a lot of fun," Lara said.

– Let her come, – the Air's'guardian decided briskly. – She'll get worked up otherwise, and she and your parents will wonder why you don't want her there so much. It'll be easier. –

Probably. But still… He heaved a mental sigh. "Just never really thought about you going there," the enshira apologized, completely honest. Lara and Jenna in Goldenwood weren't the last thing he'd expected during his reunion with the other Guardians, mainly because it had never even occurred to him to even think about them coming. "I could keep an eye on them once they get there. They probably have the same flight as me, too, so I'll be able to get them to the camp."

His mother blinked, a bit surprised by her son's siding with his sister. But, as she'd said often enough, Kit was A Mature Adult Presence, who could be trusted Not To Do Stupid Things. "Well…"

"It won't kill them," he assured her. But he would find out if there was a female equivalent to the Green group, and get his sister out of it as soon as possible, if not sooner. Gossips were everywhere, after all, and the fact that the Air's'guardian lived in British Columbia made it even easier to get things done there. "They'll have some fun, meet some new people, and be so tired by the time they get back that you won't hear a peep from them for the rest of the summer." And a group away from Cal'asan Home. Definitely a group away from Cal'asan home.

"You did say you wanted to do some renovations this summer," Kit's father added. "With the kids out of the house, we won't have to worry about keeping them out of their rooms, or how we'll manage with only one washroom, or about – " The last comment was mumbled, and the Earth's'guardian was fairly certain that he wasn't interested. At all. Ever. "It'll be the perfect chance."

"Well…"

Jenna beamed like a gossip revealing a royal flush in one of their many poker games. "My parents gave me a note, in case you were worried about anything. I said you probably wouldn't be, 'cause you were the one who sent Kit to Goldenwood in the first place, but they wrote it anyways." She produced it from a back pocket and presented it with a flourish, smiling as she watched her read. "Well?"

"I suppose that it couldn't hurt," his mother finally concluded. "But Kit, you're to watch them until they arrive at Goldenwood, and if your return flight is scheduled later than theirs, you're to see them to the airport. Call when you land, and make sure you have enough cash for the taxi driver. And when you get to wherever it is you're staying, call us so that we don't worry."

Kit nodded patiently – the same speech as before, except for the bits that involved Lara and Jenna. Then, once Lara started rhyming off the things she would need for camp and their mother began running around to make sure they had some of the more bizarre items – who on earth uses a two and a half foot piece of twine at camp? – he trudged upstairs to make some adjustments to what he had packed. He was certainly going to need more of the high-energy Aelfen mix than he had planned on bringing originally.

Krista Stormwing, Water's'guardian and ka'Dhashirvai trained, lazily drifted upon the easy thermals in her mostly human form, the most obvious exception to her physique being the huge, blue-grey wings that sprouted from her back. The other additions, less evident but highly useful, included the second set of eyelids that all dragons possessed, a transparent membrane that made blinking in the strong winds unnecessary, a set of chest and back muscles that no human had ever possessed and hollow bones. Then, within the space between one heartbeat and the next, she folded her wings and plunged downwards, unfurling them with a snap a half second before it would become critical and skimming over the water, a fierce smile on her face as she pumped upwards for another dive. Flight was a glorious celebration of everything it meant to be a dragonchild – of wind and air and warmth and cold and the sheer powers that were the six Elements that formed everything.

She plummeted to the lake again, but dove into the water this time. She might not be able to breathe fire like most of her kin, but that was hardly a concern when she was the Water's'guardian. Not only that, she was also the only one save the Worldmaker to create a World without help from anyone but another Guardian. The Worldmaker's World – the Aelfen World – had been born on a battlefield while the legendary fairy fought off the Foul One, forged of the blood of Shadow Loststar and Dha'rian Sunsword, the last of the Guardians of Light and Dark. Krista's World, to which she'd bound the Foul One's descendants, had had its foundation laid over a longer period of time, and so the weaving hadn't been fatal, but it was still an impressive piece of work.

She was still underwater when she felt the first tremor, somewhere deep within her chest. She paused and resurfaced, wondering if it was one of the infrequent earthquakes that shook the draconic World, stretching out with her magic. At first she could find nothing, and she shrugged it off. She was no Earth's'guardian – that was Kit's work – but she would have been able to sense another quake coming. Then something touched the corner of her mind, something that didn't belong.

The endhrai considered it for a moment. It was almost as though a tapestry of magic hung in her mind, and her sharp eyes noted a small thread near the bottom beginning to unravel itself. She smoothed it out and sealed it in place with a touch of her own magic, then carefully inspected the rest for any other loose threads. Nothing. But still…

Something in that tremor had seemed wrong. A bit too final.

She shifted so that she was fully dragon, and then took to the sky once more, thoughtful. She was hardly an expert on the Worlds, but then again, no one but the Worldmaker really knew why that magic worked precisely the way it did. As she was fifty thousand years dead – more, by the draconic measure, since time passed faster in their World – Stormwing would have to talk to those next closest to the magic.

Good thing that they were meeting in Cal'asan Home that summer.


-beams- I'm glad that everyone seems so happy about a sequel. I wasn't sure if I would do it, but now that I've started, it doesn't seem as impossible. I'm glad you liked the first chapter, hope you like this one, and do remember to review!

Reviewer replies:

Wolfie: -bows- I live to serve. -chuckles- Actually, I think I can picture the general expression… Though it's always funny when someone's reading over your shoulder and it takes them a bit longer to catch on. I'm not sure when the next chapter of The Gryphons will be… I'm a bit stuck with one of the events that I need. Still, it should be out by next Friday… October seventh. And I'll get to Destiny and Memories when you update it – No homework this weekend! -happy little dance- I chose the first day for my English presentation, and I finished a bunch of tests in my other courses, so I'm freeeeeeee!

Mya von Dor: -laughs- I didn't expect people to be this excited, really. I'll keep updating, no worries about that. If nothing else, Pyrshalyn's back to insisting that I don't really need to do that much homework when I already understand it, and he's very persuasive.

Casey Drake: -nods- I like Kit too. He was the second Guardian to pop into my mind – I got them from a dream in which there was the scene where Sarah meets Kit. Well, he'll be around quite a bit this story, so you'll get the pleasure of seeing things from his PoV.

Phoenix: -chuckles- Homecoming hyperactivity, eh? Glad to see that Kit and Aria and Shadow still inspire squeel moments. Yup, you'll be seeing a lot of Kit this time around, though there'll still be bits with the other characters. Do enjoy!

Alexei: Just make sure you don't knock anything over in your happy dance! Like I said before, I was kinda hesitant about starting a sequel, but since you guys still seem to like it, I'll keep going with it.

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