"Why, hello, Dove," the girls says, her words laced with venom. "Pleasure to see you back."
Dove frowns, her fists clenching. Ash looks at me, eyes wide, anticipating a fight. "I'm just getting my things and then I'll go."

A few more hunters enter the room, anxious to see what's going on. Rena holds a hand out, stopping Dove. Dove steps back angrily. "Where have you been all these days, Dove?" Rena says. "It looks like you've made some new... friends." Rena meets my eye and a smirk appears on her lips. Dove remains silent. "How interesting. A rogue... missing all these days... comes back with two vampires. Seems quite curious, doesn't it?"

Dove frowns. "I was unaware, rogues were supposed to check in every day."
Rena flicks her hand carelessly. "They aren't. I'm just curious about your new friends." She smiles softly.
"They're fine. I'm just getting my stuff. Let me get my stuff, Rena."

Rena flips her long locks over her shoulder. "No, I don't think I will. You know, people have been talking about you, Dove. Some people here think you may be a spy. I'm not naming names, but the rumor's out there."

"I'm not a traitor," Dove spits, getting up in Rena's face.
Ash quickly grabs Dove's shoulder and pulls her back before she can do something bad to Rena. "Stop," I find myself saying, "She's not a traitor."

All eyes flick to me, and Dove jerks out of Ash's arms. "Coming from the vampire," Rena spits, continuing on without skipping a beat. "Another rumor's been going around too, Lovey-dovey. A hunter was found dead. And it wasn't from any ordinary weapon." She pauses for emphasis. "A hunter's knife."

Dove didn't do this - this, I know. She's been with us the last week or so. But Dove's immediately in Rena's face again, furious that Rena's trying to frame her. "Take it back!" She screams. Rena winces dramatically, backing away. "Don't touch me, witch!"

Dove's face falls and she steps back. Angry tears shine in her eyes, refusing to fall. I study her as she glances around the room, searching for someone who believes her. Everyone shrinks away, believing only Rena. A guy pats Rena's shoulder, holding her away from Dove. "Ryan, I think it's time for you to show Dove out," Rena says bitterly.

Ryan grabs Dove's shoulder and pulls her towards the door, Dove reluctantly following. Ash and I numbly follow after them. Murmurs echo through the room behind us.
"… knew she was a spy...."
"… powers, she's always seemed weird to me...."
My head jerks up at the last one, but I remain facing ahead. Ash nudges me. "It's okay, Jett." I nod.

At the entrance, Ryan stops and gives a sheepish smile. He hands Dove a backpack and shrugs. "Sorry about back there, Dove. I managed to get your stuff while they were distracted. If it means anything, I don't think you're a traitor." He reaches down with his thumb to wipe away her tears. "Come visit me sometime, okay?"

Dove nods and offers a small smile. "Okay. Thank you, Ryan." She reaches up and gives him a hug. She stares at him a moment longer, then walks out the door. Ash stumbles out behind her and I begin to follow him, but Ryan catches my arm. "Take care of her, okay?"
"What?" I ask, startled.
"I said take care of her. She isn't as tough as she acts."
He offers me a sympathetic smile and pushes me outside, shutting and locking the door behind me.


"Why does Rena hate you so much?" Ash asks bluntly. I turn and smack him when Dove's back is turning, hoping he didn't upset her, with Ryan's words still ringing in my head. I don't know what he meant, but it makes me feel uncomfortable.
"Her boyfriend fell in love with me," she says with a shrug. "Dumped her and everything. I didn't like him, but he never went back to her."
"This whole thing is over a guy?" I ask.
Dove frowns at me. "She loved him. That's not a small deal."

"Why didn't you like him?"
"Oh boy, do we really have to go into this?" I know her question is rhetorical and she sighs. "I don't do that love thing. Anyway, Rena's always me - even before the thing with Jack - because I'm a rogue. Why be a rogue when you could have close hunter friends and live in a safe house? She thinks I'm...uh, different."
"She doesn't like rogues?"
"Who does? We're outcasts." She laughs softly. "But maybe she's just jealous, my kill record's better." Ash flinches and she glances back at him. "Sorry. Not exactly the type of crowd I should brag to, huh?"

"What stuff did you get?" Ash asks, changing the subject.
Dove takes the backpack off her back and begins rifling through it. "Some cash, bubble gum, a pair of earrings -" She stops walking abruptly.
"What is it?" I ask.

She falls to her knees and dumps the backpack out on the ground, panicking. Objects scatter all across the sidewalk. I see regular objects spill out - a notebook, some papers, gum, lip gloss - and then there's the knife, a long silver dagger engraved with symbols I don't understand. The blade glows with a shimmering gold light. Dove ruffles through the objects, breath coming out in short little gasps. I kneel beside her. I can faintly hear her repeating "Where is it?" Over and over again.

She suddenly lets out her breath and slumps back, her shoulders relaxing. She dangles a thin, short necklace chain in front of her face. A single charm - a bird; it's a dove - twirls on the end of it. Dove breathes a sigh of relief and fingers the charm.
"What is it?" Ash asks, breaking her from her reverie.

She jumps and drops the chain. She glances back and forth between us, as if just remembering we are here. "I... it's nothing." She mumbles, quickly stuffing everything back into the bag, the knife last. She stands and wipes her hands on her jeans. "We can go now." I notice how she avoids eye contact and begins to walk, faster than before. Maybe Ryan's right. Maybe Dove isn't as tough as she pretends to be.

The End

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