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Sequel to From Paris With Love

WishesfromSeattleBanner zps226adf37

Thanks Red!

Prologue

"Seakit!" The scream echoed across the woods, filled with desperation.

"Nettlefur! We can't stop. We have to leave her. Come on! You can't save everyone." A dark gray tom shoved against his mate, trying to make her move. Tears poured down her cheeks, and sobs racked her body. 

"I can't..." She choked on the smoke that was pouring into the clearing now. Farther away, orange tongues of fire licked the midnight sky like the claws of an angry predator, bearing down on them quickly. "Seakit..." she whispered, staring into the smoke as if she expected the little she-kit to materialize.

Rockspirit grabbed her scruff and began dragging her away. "You have to save yourself." When this had no effect on her, he added, "For Roarkit."

She nodded, revived by the memory of their other child. But as the two cats, the last of the Clan to run from the fire, exited the burning woods, her heart felt like it was breaking.

"Oh, my little Seakit." She turned to face the forest once more, ignoring the attempts of her clanmates to cheer her up. "I'll come back for you. Some day, we will meet again, whether here or in the stars. Please." Her wish drifted up on wings to the dark sky above, as her large golden eyes focused on the dying trees, which groaned as they were devoured by the flames. 

Then, tails between their legs, the cats turned and left what had once been their home. Forever.


The murmur of voices stirred Seakit from her doze. Her lungs still stung from the ash and smoke, and the earth around her was black with soot. She imagined her fur was the same. 

A pair of cats stood looking down at her, kindness in their expressions. 

"She's just a baby," one said softly. 

"Poor thing. It's a good thing she managed to survive that fire, crawling under this rock like she did. But she needs help. Let's take her in."

"Are you serious?"

"Why not? The others won't mind. And it'll be like having a daughter for me."

Seakit watched as the tom's eyes softened. "Well, if it makes you happy." 

The peach-colored she-cat didn't notice the affection in his gaze though. She scooped Seakit up and smiled. Speaking around the bundle in her jaws, she said, "We'll make her happy. Come on little one. I think I'll call you Seattle. Oh, she has such a cute face..."

Smiling, the brown tom followed her as they padded back towards the city. The cool mist ruffled the newly-named Seattle's fur, as she was carried out of her old, forsaken home, and into a new life. 

Chapter One

Thunder crackled overhead, though no rain actually fell on the dry grass. Everything was so parched that the grass crackled underpaw. Striker marked the last tree, and stretched, rubbing his claws against the bark. The forest had been regrowing well after the fire that had taken place several moons ago, but then the drought had struck, and all hope of the trees restoring their former grandeur seemed to shrivel along with all life.

"Striker! You almost done there?" A brightly colored ginger tom padded in, his brown eyes sparkling. How could Nemo be so energetic when it was so hot? 

"Yeah," he said, dropping down to all fours and following his friend back to their group's main encampment. "Any more news from the spies? Are the Clan cats coming any closer?"

Nemo frowned, flicking his tail against a withered holly bush. "Yeah. Stickle thinks they're heading right this way."

Striker arched an eyebrow. "You mean they're coming back?" He curved his lips into a half-smile. "Well, they certainly will regret that, won't they? We'll make them." 

"Yeah," yawned Nemo. "I mean, this place ain't much during a drought, but I still like it a lot better then the city. More freedom. More prey. More shade," he added, stretching out under a tree at the edge of their camp. All around them, the other members of their group were lazing or dozing under whatever shade they could find. They called themselves The Rustlers, and their leader, Russel, was a mean, one-eared, stout tom with a taste for blood and conquer. When Striker had first joined, the group had mostly stuck to parading the alleys in the nearby Twolegplace, chasing away other cats and claiming little bits of territory for themselves. Then, a while after the wildfire, Russel had seen the potential in the forest, abandoned by the Clan cats that used to reside there.

Now though, it appeared that the Clan was coming back. The Rustlers were in no mood to give up their newly acquired land, and planned to fight for it, if the Clan got this far. And why should we give it up? Striker thought angrily. They left, and we took over. They should just get over it. It's no big deal. 

Raising his head to look around, he made a silent vow, deciding he would fight for this place, no matter what it meant giving up. He had finally found a real place in the world, where he belonged, and after all he'd been through, he would do anything to keep it.

Chapter Two

Soft sand cushioned Seattle's sore paws as she took a deep breath of salty air, letting the cooling mist sink into her thick fur. The beach was the one place that offered a little relief from the heat, and she spent almost all her time here, with the roaring waves for company, inspecting seashells and watching glowing starfish in little tide-pools. During the afternoon, anyway. In the evening, she would head back to her cozy home by the park, where Alice, Leo, and Sari would be waiting. For now though, she was all alone. And sometimes that suited her.

Turning back towards the water, she stifled a gasp of shock. Was she imagining it? Blinking her eyes several times, she tried to focus. No, she wasn't. It was there... a cat. The misty, wavering form of a cat, standing up to its knees in water, waves sloshing around its legs. And yet, there was something surreal about this cat. Seattle couldn't just dub it an ordinary creature. There was something stranger, deeper, about the way glitter fell like dust off her pelt, and her golden eyes glowed like miniature suns.

"Seattle. There you are." She was standing a good five tails away, and yet Seattle could hear every musical word clearly. "Come closer. I have a message for you."

"A- a message?" she said hesitantlly, taking a few pawsteps closer. "Who are you?"

The she-cat's eyes turned sad. "You don't know what StarClan is?"

"Sorry, no," she replied, shaking her head. "Why?"

"Never mind. You can call me Sunburst. I'm, well, I'm not really alive. I'm in StarClan. I don't live here, I live in the sky, and we only visit if there's trouble, or we need to sort something out."

Seeing the bewildered expression on Seattle's face, she laughed and sighed. "I'm not explaining this right. You would understand if you were a Clan cat. Actually, you are, and that's why I'm here. To remind you of your destiny, Seattle. Or should I say, Seakit." 

"Excuse me?" Seattle asked. "That's... that's not my name."

"Not anymore it's not," she sighd. "Allow me to introduce myself. I am Sunburst, like I said before, and I was a member of WaveClan."

Seattle watched her carefully. "That's a funny name."

Sunburst rolled her eyes. "No, it's not actually. It's a Clan name."

Though Seattle didn't know what the cat was talking about, a funny thrill ran through her at the mere word. Clan. Instantly, her curiousity was evoked. "What's that?"

"Do you have time? It's a long story," she responded. 

Glancing around, Seattle nodded. Alice and Leo wouldn't need her to help hunt for at least another hour. Tucking her tail around her paws, she meowed, "I've got all the time in the world. Go on."

Chapter Three

"Striker! Get over here!"

The tom's ears pricked at the sound of Russel's voice, and he leaped to his paws. "Yeah?" he asked, dipping his head in a gesture of respect as he approached his leader. 

Russel flicked a ragged ear towards the city. "I want you to head on over there. Solo scout mission. Scope out some places we could camp out during winter, and bring me back whatever goodies you find in the trash."

Nearby, a lolling Stickle raised his head. "It's the dryest summer we've ever had, and you're worried about winter already?"

"Yes." The tom's glare alone was enough to quiet him. Striker winced in sympathy, but didn't help out.

"Right. I'll go right now." Turning, he headed out into the brush, heading towards the sounds and smells of the nearby Twolegplace they occupied sometimes. Though Russel could be a bit harsh sometimes, Striker couldn't help feeling honored that he had been chosen for the mission. He wasn't the youngest, or the most skilled of the band, and it was a privilige.

Once inside, he padded swiftly along the hard, dirty gray surface that lined the Thunderpaths, making a beeline for the park. There was good prey near there, as well as thickly clustered bushes and trees that could make possible camps for the Rustlers during the winter. 

Padding in, he glanced about. Apart from a couple of Twolegs seated on a bench on the other side, the place appeared to be deserted, which suited him just fine. Raising his head, Striker picked up the scent of a mouse. His mouth watered, and he had to remind himself that while he could eat what he wanted, only the best must come home to Russel. The consequences for doing otherwise were dire.

He detected where the smell was coming from, dropped into a crouch, and began advancing slowly on the clump of bushes he had located, eyes narrowed into slits with concentration. Finally, he made out the small brown shape, huddled against the dried leaves of a shrub. Gathering his hindquarters beneath him, he sprang, claws extended to meet their target, and-

A cat's squall? Opening his eyelids, which had instinctively shut, bracing for the impact, Striker found himself face to face with a cat. A she-cat. A gorgeous one.

Letting out a startled hiss of annoyance, he leaped back. "That's mine!"

She dropped the limp mouse with a snarl. "No it's not! I caught it!"

"I saw it first!" he yelled, then realized he was making himself sound like a little kit. Blushing, he glowered at her.

A hint of kindness appeared in her face, slipping in like something so natural she couldn't help it. It softened her already pretty features, and made her sea-colored eyes seem even rounder and sweeter. Striker scowled to hide the way his heart was pounding. "Fine, take it. I don't want to fight over a dumb mouse anyway. I'm better then that."

The she-cat shrugged. "Nothing wrong with taking food when it's yours. Sorry about the squabble." With that, she turned to walk away. 

"Wait! What's your name?" Striker asked.

She turned, her gaze open and friendly. "Seattle."

"Er... Great. Maybe I'll see you around some time." He turned and galloped away, ignoring her startled voice behind him.

"Yeah- Wait! What's your name?"

But he was already gone. 

Chapter Four

Shrugging, Seattle padded back to where Alice and Leo were waiting. There was something about the tom's face, bold and harsh, but with a hint of vulnerability about the edges, that made it stick in her mind. And she didn't even know his name.

I have more important things to worry about, she reminded herself, her heart giving a nervous flutter as she thought back to her meeting with the StarClan cat. Seattle hadn't been told much, and definitely not the full story, but from what she had gathered, her parents had been WaveClan cats. Unfortunately, the whole Clan had disappeared last summer, after a ravaging forest fire, and hadn't been glimpsed since. They left one thing behind though. Me.

As usual, her foster parent's calm faces helped quiet her fears as she approached. Alice's face softened pleasantly as she saw the mouse, and Seattle felt a pang of satisfaction cover her guilt at taking that other tom's prey.

"Hey," she mewed, padding up to them.

"Hello Seattle," said Sari, her warm hazel eyes filled with love and pride as she looked her over. Seattle smiled and dropped the mouse at Sari's feet.

"For you," she said.

Leo nudged her a vole. "Here you go," he said, glancing at Alice to make sure she had a big piece of fresh-kill before begining to eat himself. Leo was their sole paternal figure; he took care of them all, but Seattle knew he had feelings for Alice. It was evident in the way he looked at her, in his voice when he talked to her. Sadly, she doubted the peach she-cat knew, or even suspected them.

Glancing up at the sky, Seattle drew in her breath. The dying sun was sending wavelengths of orange spasms across the lilac-blue sky. Wispy tendrils of pink and violet hues encircled the fiery ball of blazing red as it slipped beyond the horizon, as if trying to hold back the day, while the coolness of night tried to sweep over the land. The result was the sultry sweetness of dusk; Seattle shivered as a chilly breeze crept up her backbone. 

"The scenery is so beautiful," she said, eyes fastened on the panorama before her. In the distance, the sea was a sparkling kaleidoscope of color, like a giant cat had dipped a brush into the sky, then swept it across the cerulean water. 

"Isn't it?" Alice murmured, her blue eyes reflecting the fading light as she sat by Leo, Sari on her other flank. Looking at them, Seattle felt an acute pang of lonilness, as if something was missing from her life. Something important. Sunburst's words echoed in her head. Is she right? Do I really not belong here? Is my real family far away, waiting for me to return? And... why did they leave me? Turning toward the sea, she tested the name out on her tongue, like a music note escaping out into the twilit sky. 

"WaveClan."


"Seattle! Wake up! Wake up!"

"What?" she said groggily. Blinking sleep out of her eyes, she made out Leo's face, filled with worry. Alarm shot through her, and she repeated more clearly, "What is it?" 

"Rogues," he said through clenched teeth. "Coming this way. And they're out for blood."

She scrambled to her paws and shook out her thick gray pelt. Sari and Alice were already up, the moonlight illuminating the worry on their faces. "What are we going to do?"

"Fight them off," Alice said grimly. "For as long as we can. Then run."

Seattle raised her head, and made out several strange smells on the breeze. "There are too many," she said, turning to Leo, and shooting glances at Sari. Her message was clear: Why didn't you get her out of here? He shook his head wearily, and she realized the the elder, who could be fierce and prickly as a thorn sometimes, must have refused.

The fur along Alice's back raised like a ridge. "They're coming."

"We're ready for them," Seattle said, trying to inspire confidence in her friends. The truth was, she didn't think they were. Not by a long shot. All she could do was bring the fight to the rogues, and give all she had to keep the others alive. 

Chapter Five

"Remind me," Striker panted as he ran alongside Nemo, "why we're doing this again?"

His friend shrugged. "Russel said so. We might as well teach these cats a lesson, get warmed up for when we do have to fight those mangy Clan cats."

"If we fight them," he corrected him. "We might not."

"If Russel wants a fight, he'll get one," Nemo said seriously, and Striker knew it was true.

"They're up ahead!" Russel called, like a lead wolf howling to the rest of his pack to arouse their bloodlust. It worked like a charm. Fangs bared, lips peeled back, and yowls of what Striker considered to be pointless(seriously, what would it accomplish?) fury filled the air. Slowly, he made out the shapes of cats huddled in a corner of the park. One in particular: a dark gray young she-cat with large blue-green eyes. He gulped, his paws suddenly slowing as if weights had been tied to them. It's her. Oh no.

Not understanding his sudden hesitation, he forced his paws to move onwards, reminding himself of Russel's wrath on anyone who botched a mission, even one as stupid as this one. 

"Get 'em guys!" Russel skidded to a stop, letting the rest of his band shoot past him. 

A brown tabby tom leaped to the head of the cornered group of cats. Seattle stood beside him, claws unsheathed. When she spotted him, recognition flared in her eyes, quickly replaced by hatred. He winced inwardly. He wanted to assure her that this wasn't him, that it wasn't his idea. But he knew it would make no difference.

"Striker!" yelled Russel. "You take out the old one! Seriously injure her. No killing. Tonight, anyways." His voice was so cold it was scary.

Striker's stomach clenched, but he nodded. Turning, he repositioned himself to face the elderly gray she-cat, and lunged towards her, fighting desperately to keep his dinner down. He never got to her, though. There was a furious screech, and then Seattle was on top of him, clawing for all she was worth, her face furious. "How dare you!?" she screeched, ripping at his ear.

Suddenly, there was a grinding sound, as something huge came to a stop. Nearby, a peach-colored she-cat froze with fear, letting go of Nemo's leg. "Twolegs..."

"Run!" yelled Russel. "Scatter!"

Striker struggled fiercely, but Seattle had become a statue on top of him, pinning him down. In a few seconds, the rest of his group was gone, and he was still trapped. Worse yet, he could hear a door open, and the clumsy thud of Twoleg paws hitting the ground.

"Get out of the way!" The brown tabby tom grabbed Seattle by the scruff and ducked behind a huge bush. Striker just had time to dive after them before the Twoleg sent a thick beam of light shooting to the spot he had been sitting. Panting, he crouched beside Seattle. Her eyes were huge as an owl's, and she was trembling. 

"What do they want?" she whispered.

He didn't dare reply. The Twoleg's night vision was evidently horrible; it swung the blaring light past their bush several times without pausing. Finally, it seemed to give up. They heard the crunch of its heavy paws as it walked away. A few minutes later, the monster's engine roared to life, and it shot away into the darkness, leaving behind a thick cloud of choking, foul-smelling fumes.

The brown tabby spoke carefully. "I think it's safe."

They all crawled out from under the bush. Striker shook out some thorns from his pelt, then looked up to find the other four cats staring at him with open hostility. His pelt prickled with self-conciousness. "Um... Hi."

"You're lucky we have too much dignity to kill you on the spot," the tom hissed.

"Leo." The smaller cream cat touched her tail to his shoulder. "We don't know that he planned the attack."

"Being a part of it is enough, Alice," he retorted hotly, but his fur lay slightly more flat, and the fire in his eyes faded. 

Seattle took a step forward. "You." Before he could reply, she turned to her friends. "I agree with Leo. He would've helped kill us, and enjoyed it."

Striker had a feeling that pointing out that their instructions had been only to maim would not help his case. Great. What do I do now?

"I- I'm sorry about that." When their stares remained devoid of any change, he continued, "It wasn't my idea, but I did go along with it, and I regret that. None of you deserved to be treated like that. I should have known better." 

"Smooth words," Leo said. "But you can't talk your way out of this one."

He blinked steadily, all his nervousness vanishing. Somehow, he no longer wanted to just talk his way back to the Rustlers. He actually wanted to convince them- particularly Seattle, for some strange reason- that he was a good cat. That they could trust him. "What else can I do to make you believe me?"

Seattle snorted in disgust. "What do you care? Just go back to your group of maurading morons."

"Seattle!" Alice said sharply. The elderly she-cat flicked her tail.

"Let her speak her mind."

Though he knew his words were feather-brained, Striker said, "No. I don't want to go back."

She raised one eyebrow. "What are you saying?"

Good question, he told himself. What on earth am I getting myself into? He took a deep breath. "I'm saying... I don't want to be with the Rustlers anymore. I- I don't expect you to just take me in. That's all right. I'll live on my own." The truth was, if they didn't take him in, Striker had no idea where else to turn. Would he have to eat his own words and go crawling back to the Rustlers? What would Seattle think of that? And why did he suddenly care so much what she thought?

"Take you in?" Leo said incredulously.

Alice took a commanding step forward. Her hazel eyes were kind as she smiled at him. "How about we give it a try? I'm warning you, you're not instantly accepted in our group. But we're not kicking you out either, if you really want to stay here."

"What?" screeched Seattle.

"I agree, Alice," said the elderly she-cat, laying a calming paw on Leo's; the tom was bristling so much he looked like a porcupine.

"Thank you Sari. Now, let's get settled for the night-"

"Forget it," huffed Seattle. "If you want to make friend with this- this killer, then go ahead." She stomped off.

Striker stared after her, shocked. Was that really how the other cats viewed the Rustlers? He had only joined because he'd had no real choice, but now he was beginning to regret it.

As he curled up several tails away from Leo, Sari, and Alice, he vowed to himself, I'll overcome my past. I'll gain their trust. Just wait and see.

Chapter Six

"I can't believe you let him join us," Seattle huffed, glaring at the sleeping Striker. "It's well past dawn and he's not even awake yet. What kind of cat-"

"Seattle," Alice said warningly. "I know you may not like him, but we owe it to him to give him at least a chance. You haven't known cats like Russel. I have. They don't give you any chance, or choice. And if you have nowhere else to go-"

Seattle turned away before she could finish. She didn't want to hear that. Striker had seemed nice enough when she'd run into him hunting, but the fact that he had tried to kill Sari was unforgivable.

Anyway, I have my own problems.

She thought of Sunburst once again. Seakit. If that was truly her real name, then was her life a complete lie?

Glancing at Leo and Alice, she found herself unable to believe that of them. She knew they weren't her real parents; she'd always had that feeling, but this was completely different. This was hiding her past from her. Unless... maybe they had never known. Maybe she hadn't been the only one never told of her Clan heritage.

With a sigh, she laid her head on her paws. Why did life always throw everything at you all at once? First she found out she belonged to a faraway group of cats called SeaClan, and next thing she knew, a strange possible killer was moving in with her family. It was ridiculous, unfair, and annoying, to say the least. Just thinking about it made her want to explode.

Instead, she said, "Should I go hunting now?"

Leo gave her a concerned look, as if sensing her pent-up emotions. However, he didn't push it, just gave her a fatherly smile. "That would be nice."

"Okay." With unduly haste, she scrambled to her paws and trotted away from the others. Sure, she'd get over it. She always did. She was "sweet little Seattle", the perfect peacemaker and yes-cat to everything. Who cared if her life was turned upside down? All that mattered was that the entire world was happy. 

Reminding herself not to be bitter, she headed back towards the park. Apart from the occasional sound of a Monster roaring past on the Thunderpath, all was silent. She preferred it that way; it gave her time to think. And she had a lot to think about. 

It didn't take her long to hunt down a mouse and two voles. Relieved that she wouldn't be returning empty-pawed, she twirled on her paws, turning back to where her family had camped out- and found herself nose-to-nose with Striker.

"Gah!" she shrieked, leaping backwards. The prey went flying; a vole draped itself on top of Striker's head.

An amused grin slid across his face as he flicked his head to get the vole off. "Nice aim."

Regaining her composure, Seattle glared at him icily, leaning forward to pick up her prey. "So. You're finally up."

Thankfully, he had the decency to look slightly abashed. "Sorry. Yesterday was a really tiring day, what with preparations and-"

"Preparations to ravage more cats?" she interrupted, flattening her ears back and scooping up the vole that had hit him on the head. Striker opened his mouth, closed it, and sighed.

"I'll never convince you that I really didn't want to join the Rustlers, will I?"

Anger fueled Seattle's response. "No! You were about to kill Sari!"

A greenish tinge appeared under Striker's fur; he looked like he was genuinely going to be sick. Seattle almost felt sorry for him. Almost. "I really didn't mean to..." His gaze dropped to his paws. Though she knew she should probably march off with her nose in the air, Seattle couldn't quite get her paws to move. Instead, she stood there staring at him dumbly, wondering how such an evil tom could look so innocent and repentant. Finally, Striker raised his head and met her eyes. "Listen, I may not know much about the city, but I know a couple of places out in the woods where we can have some fun." He leaned forward and offered his tail hesitantly. "Let me make everything up to you."

For some strange reason, Seattle found herself unable to say no. Instead, as if some other force had taken over her mind, she heard her voice saying, "Okay. Let me just bring this prey back to Leo and Sari."

And then a smile. Small, but it was there. "I'll meet you here."

Chapter Seven

She'd actually said yes! Striker could hardly believe it. It had been a long shot, a desperate attempt at showing her that he did care what she thought of him. And she'd be back any minute now...

Self-consciously, he began to groom himself, running a paw over his black fur. Usually, he didn't give a hoot about his appearance - you didn't need to look good to be a Rustler, as evidenced by Russel himself - but with Seattle it was different. She was always so effortlessly beautiful... Striker felt a strange need to impress her, at least a little bit, despite her obvious hatred of him.

He didn't understand it, but he couldn't help it.

"You waited! Sorry it took so long; Leo wanted to know where I was going. I told him I didn't know, and then I had to assure him I could take care of myself-" She halted, as if realizing what she was saying. Striker tried not to feel offended that Leo thought he might hurt Seattle; he gave her a big smile.

"No problem. Shall we?"

Side by side, they began trotting away from the park. A cool breeze ruffled through their fur, bringing Seattle's sweet scent to his nostrils like a delicate perfume. It was enough to make him delirious.

After a few seconds, Seattle broke the silence. "So where exactly are you taking me?"

Feeling happy that he finally had something over her head, Striker mewed, "You'll see."

A slightly suspicious look crossed her face; he felt a pang. Does she really distrust me that much? But whatever she was thinking, she was kind enough to keep it to herself. Instead, she gave him an intoxicatingly sweet smile and nodded. 

"So," he began awkwardly, feeling the need to make conversation, "have you always lived with Leo, Alice, and Sari?"

"Yeah," she said, a guarded look in her eyes. "At least... I think so."

Striker blinked, not sure what she meant by that. "I-" he stopped himself, not wanting to pry. "Okay."

Guessing his question, she sighed wearily. "It's complicated. I used to think that I had always lived here, and that I had been orphaned here, in the city. But now, I'm not sure. Turns out I wasn't even born here, and... I don't even know if I'm an orphan." She glanced up at him, and the sad confusion in her gentle eyes tore at his heart. "But that's not your problem; I'm sorry to bother you with it."

"That's fine," he said gently. 

Then she asked him one question that he did not want to hear. "Striker, what do you know about WaveClan?"

Oh, just plenty. In fact, yesterday I was talking about wiping them out completely. And did I mention that my group, the Rustlers, took their territory? Can't forget that act of kindness.

"Not much," he lied.

Her face fell. "Oh. It's just, I saw this cat, and she told me that I was a WaveClan cat."

His eyebrows went up. "Who was this cat?"

"She's dead. I mean- ugh, I don't know what I mean." Seattle raised her gaze to his. "I'm sorry, you must think I'm crazy right now. I'm just going through a... tough time, I guess."

Without pausing to consider it, Striker leaned forward instinctively and touched his nose to her shoulder. "Hey, I said it was fine. I mean... I know we don't really know each other, but I'll listen." Shyly, he ducked his head. "I'd like to get to know you."

Incredulous was the only way to describe the look she gave him. It was like the idea that someone would want to know the prettiest cat in the world was foreign to her. It baffled Striker; the she-cats that hung about the Rustlers were cocky and arrogant, nothing like her. And he was very okay with that. He had never met someone like Seattle before.

"Are you serious?"

"What?" he blinked.

"About wanting to get to know me," she said, studying him as if trying to judge his motives.

For once, Striker told himself to completely forget his Rustler training, which was based on deceit and cruelty. He just wanted to be completely open. "Of course I was."

As if she was losing a struggle with herself, a smile slipped across Seattle's face. "I- okay. Let's start by going wherever the heck you're taking me. But we'll need to be quick. I want to be back to help hunt for the family." She blushed. "I know, I'm incredibly lame and a goody-two-paws, but-"

"Nah, you're not. I get it." Striker wanted to tell her that she was being an idiot to criticize herself for being selfless, but he kept his mouth shut.

Seattle nodded briefly. Then she sighed. "I guess I owe you an apology. You're not that bad." Her eyes searched his face, and he found himself captivated by their sea-colored glow. He couldn't look away. "I want to trust you, okay?"

"Okay," he breathed. 

"And I promise, you can trust me," she said. "Now, let's go."

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