would you all like it better if credited the title so you knew what on earth i was talking about?
Pulling my hair back into a messy ponytail, I put in my headphones. Time to go jogging. Will is probably still asleep, so I don't bother to text him and tell him where I'm going. He usually likes to join me on my runs, but I think that's more from his protective instinct than from his love for exercise. He's just naturally in good shape.
My iPod is charged - something I rarely remember - and I'm all ready to go. I slam the door and lock it behind me, trying to focus all my energy on matching my footsteps to the beat of the song. In, out. Deep breaths. Don't think about it.
Sometimes, the memories of the accident still remind me of the hole in my heart that no one will ever fill. I try not to think about it, so usually, I'm okay. I take another deep breath. I've been pretending I'm okay for so long. A little longer can't be that hard, can it?
And yet. I feel tears threatening to spill over the dam when I notice someone giving me a weird look. Lia Pierce doesn't cry. Not the Lia Pierce they know in this town. Besides, my parents are still alive, unlike some people's. That's better than I expected.
When I trip, it's completely unexpected. I'm down on the ground suddenly, nursing a bleeding knee. I'm surprised at my unusual clumsiness, but chalk it up to the sidewalk's uneven layout.
"Hey, sweetheart," a disgusting voice says from behind me. I yank out my headphones and stare at a man who's just oozing vibes that freak me out. Don't panic. This is just another resident crazy.
He reaches his hand out for mine. Or something.
Okay, not just another resident crazy. I'm really wishing I'd been a better gym student. I dash away from him, but he's in good shape, and he follows. Shoot. Not getting rid of him that way.
Up ahead, I spot a tree. This is my one chance. I dash towards it at full speed. When I'm close enough, I put my hands up and swing myself in a three-sixty around the branch. I've timed it perfectly. My knees hit the man squarely in the back of his greasy head, and he collapses.
I realize quickly that I'm in a public place. I could've just called for help. Instead, I'm standing in the middle of the park, every single crying toddler silenced. Ice cream falls on the ground.
"Hi," I say nervously. "That was, um, a demonstration. For a stunt. But we probably need medics. Okay, bye." I dash off quickly, leaving two good samaritans to take the man's pulse. Another woman is pulling out her phone.
I take the short way home. Once there, I shower quickly, yank a brush through my hair, and grab my keys. The police station isn't far, and I promised my dad I'd pick up his files. He's confident in his recovery. That should reassure me, I guess.
Once at the station, I see Chief Walters. "Hey," I say. "I'm here to pick up whatever you've got for my dad."
"Oh, hi, Lia." I'm kind of a regular at the police station. My dad's been taking me for years whenever he works and I'm not in school. It's my home away from home.
"The papers?" I prompt. The chief looks really stressed out, and he's already forgotten my request. He has a walkie-talkie around his waist making noise, and his cell is buzzing. Not to mention the three files he has in his hand.
"Yeah, right. They're upstairs with Murphy."
"Cool. Thanks." I sprint up the stairs two at a time. Murphy is my dad's partner. When I was little, he always had cookies to give me. Now, he doesn't give me cookies, but I still appreciate his presence. It's not my father, but it's something. Which is nice.
"Hey," Murphy says, crumbs tumbling out of his mouth. "You here for the cookies or the files, kiddo?" He grins. He's probably the only person who could get away with calling me "kiddo." I am nineteen, after all. But from Murphy, it's just tolerable.
"Files," I say. Murphy motions for me to sit down, and I do. He rummages through some drawers while I watch the latest people being brought in to be processed. One of them, an over-muscled and tattooed man, catches my attention. I watch him closely. When he looks back at me, his face seems to change. Suddenly, I am no longer staring at a man. I am staring at some kind of monster. Or a beast. It almost looks like a bear.
Across the office, another guy, this one more my age, turns his head. "Dam-n Jägerbär," he mutters, getting up. When police look at him nervously, he sits down. Then, more loudly, he says, "Keep your eyes to yourself." The man - he isn't a beast, see? His face is normal! - looks away furiously.
"Um, who was that?"
"Who was what?" Murphy replies absentmindedly. He's only half-present in our conversation.
"That guy over there. He's like my age, maybe a little older. Tall."
"Oh, that. That's Nico. He's kind of a regular around here."
"Regular? For what?"
Murphy laughs. "Looking for relationship prospects, are you? Well, he's always in for petty theft. Seen him quite a few times. Busted him myself once, actually."
"What's a, um, Jägerbär?"
"A who?" Murphy has located the appropriate files, and he's handing them to me. "Never heard of her. Is this a pop culture quiz?"
"Never mind," I say. Then, an idea forms. "Can I go talk to him?"
"I don't think that's a good idea," Murphy says, raising his eyebrows. I put on my puppy-dog face. "But in this case," he continues, "probably. He's already getting out of here. Nobody caught him red-handed this time, so we're going to have to let him go. Besides, the merchandise isn't anywhere we know of."
"Okay, thanks." I scoop up the files. When I turn around, Nico is already gone. I dash out of the building, hair flying behind me, and manage to catch him on the sidewalk.
"What?" he mutters irritably.
"Hi," I say, breathless. "I'm Lia. I was just wondering about something you said back in there - Jägerbär - and I was wondering if you could tell me what that meant."
Suddenly, his face changes. His face is more elongated, and he strongly resembles the monstrous version of a fox. "Grimm," he says under his breath. "Get away from me."
"What? What's a Grimm? What's a Jägerbär?"
"You listen to me," he replies, grabbing my arm and meeting my eyes, "if you know what's good for you, Grimm, you'll leave me alone and never speak to me again."
I end up standing in front of the police station, utterly confused. I'm probably just going insane.
I call Will for a ride to Anya's party.
Anya's nice enough, but she can never dig her nose out of that stupid book she's carrying with her. Obviously, the party wasn't her idea. In fact, it's all her parents'. You can tell by the way they hover. I wish my parents were well enough to plan me a party.
Hel-l, I wish they were well enough to sit up without assistance.
"You okay?" Will murmurs, his breath hot on my ear. A smile tickles the corners of my lips, the events of the afternoon carefully stored away in my memory banks for me to process later.
"Fine," I say. "Perfect." I let him kiss me for a minute before I realize with shock that Anya has been staring at us the entire time.
Flushed, I pull Will away. "That was your fault," I say, unable to keep the grin off my face.
"Maybe you should kiss me again, but over here, where all these people aren't watching."
"As you wish," he says, smiling.
Included @followyourbliss a little bit.
@deercat might want to read.
If you read it, include 'cats' in your comment.