Chapter 2

Tia Angela Clarke

Tia POV

"Choo- Chooo!!!" my baby sister yelled, her little feet made tiny, thudding sounds as she rummaged through the house, dang this kid has a voice on her, aah, "Chugga-Chugga –Chugga- Chugga- Choo!Choo!!" I jumped infront of the little imaginary train and hoisted her quickly up into my arms, using the last ounces of my energy after running after her all day.

"Whooa! Looks like the train has reached its FINAL destination! Time for the little train to take a nap!" I said with as much enthusiasm as I could muster, "What a great train!"

"Yay! Great Train! Great Train!!" she shouted in agreement, unaware I just doomed her to sleep. Although at 8:30 in the night most three year olds would be asleep already. Tonight was her birthday and someone gave her a train- and man did she freak out over trains.

The culprit- my dad walked up the corridor as I headed down towards her room, while she rest on my shoulder,

"Thank You," he mouthed silently, as we walked in opposite directions, I glared at him- this train thing was entirely his fault! He could have given her a ball but noo...

Sherry was angelic when she was happily sleeping however, and I was glad she enjoyed her birthday despite everything, even as I rested her on her pillow.

"You noisy, little munchkin," I murmured kissing her check.

"Mommy..." she mumbled, turning in her bed to hug onto her large stuff toy, our mother had given her. I smiled, well thank God...she at least still remembers our mom, it has been a while. I gently brushed some of her hair from her face, as I recalled briefly the parent Sherry would never know, but quickly shook the thought out of my head. 

"Mommy will be back soon, Sherry," I whispered over her, almost praying, it was lonely without her, and I wished she would be able to return soon, I honestly did. 

"Titi..." was her response, reminding me of the presence of my sister, who was at least still with me. Even if she always called me that silly nickname. I smiled slightly.

"I love you too, Sherry," Sherry released a soft sigh, before turning over in her sleep, and now I was pretty sure she was now completely out cold.

I walked out of the room, carefully closing the door behind me and went straight to my bedroom door. I felt the presence of someone behind me and turned to see them.

"Dad," I said. Mike grinned down at me slightly, and I could see that look of joy he always seem to get in his eyes when I called him that. He masked it quickly with a exaggerated sigh.

"Darn...you didn't seem surprised at all- seems like I'll have to work on my ninja skills," he joked, I smiled tiredly up at him, and he continued, "Is Sherry asleep?"

"Like a rock." I said, recalling her sleeping face, and then I recalled my other thoughts, to which I gave a smile in hopes of hiding my less than joyful thoughts.

"That's great," Mike started, then his smile seemed to tighten, " I visited your mother today... she misses you too," he said, bouncing slowly from one foot to the next. I hadn't gone to visit my mom in her...state since she went in, she specific asked me not to, neither Sherry or I were allowed to go, so I hadn't seen her for almost two years. "I told her you're taking great care of us," Mike continued, " and you know what, she gave me that same fake smile you just gave me," I blinked, as my surprise trickled onto my face, and he chuckled.

"I can read you both like a book, you are just like your mother," he said embracing me, his face went solemn and he bent his head to kiss me on my forehead. "You've been through a lot too for your age, angel...stop trying to be so strong. Let me handle things" he finished, giving me an even sterner look as he pulled me away to look me in my eyes.

"I'm really okay, you've already helped me so much by taking us in. I don't want-" I started, his face turned into a frown before I could even finish.

"You're always worrying about me and Sherry. When was the last time you just relaxed and hung out with your friends, Tia Angelina Clarke?" my eyes shifted away from him, but I could tell his eyes softened, as he continued, " It's only 8:30, perhaps one of your friends are having something tonight, you should go and hang out with them, you know get some fresh air," he encouraged, sincerity and concern in his eyes, "I don't want you getting yourself all stressed out, for no reason, like your mother did, so go and relax a bit," I bit my lip, and then slowly began to shake my head.

"I'm good, dad," I said, adding a bit more enthusiasm in my voice. His sincere look was replaced was an exasperated sigh, I blinked hopefully.

"Are all the women in my life bent on killing themselves in worry to keep me from thinking about anything?" he said incredulously, before his eyes flashed in determination, as he spoke again, "Go Out! That's an order from your father. I can at least take care of Sherry for a few hours." I could feel my heart fall as my giant of a father looked down on me, and I release my own sigh of defeat.

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The wind was icy cold and sharp stings pricked at my hands until I finally decided to stuff them in my jacket. I was practically thrown out of my own house, and I couldn't even tell my dad I had no-one to go out with. Since we had moved here, as to my mother's suggestion, I had cut pretty much all ties with my friends, not that I had many to begin with. The guys I knew at school now were acquaintances at best, just who was I going to hang out with, even if I did want to relax. Besides, I really did love and appreciate Michael Clarke, and in many ways thought of him as more of a father than my other one. I may have a stronger than normal sense of justice, so since I vaguely knew of my mother's...challenges, I was determined to live my life and be as useful as I could be, regardless of what happened. I didn't even mind dedicating most of my time after school to helping out, since Mike wasn't the best with children, due to his own child-like personality.

 I turned my head away from the wind, and noticed the deserted play park, situated on the left hand side of the street. It sat like a ghost town, and from a distance I could remnants of its life only a few hours earlier still present; toys such as plastic cars and dolls forgotten by children laid on the grounds. I felt an urge to go inside and swing on the swing, since I usually go here with Sherry; it was like a second home. The only place I "hung out" as my father put it, hence when kicked out, I came here. The energy from the evenings however were only distant memories and the only thing that took its place was quiet, lonely emptiness and the howls of the wind, as I took a few steps deeper into the park. The park was huge and behind it led into a forest, although there was wall blocking it from children, and multiple exits on each side of the park grounds. 

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 A loud scratching of metal sounded noisily through the park, and I could feel myself jump back to reality. There was dark looming figure in the distance that seemed to be the source of the noise. That huge figure seemed to corner a smaller one and my instincts took over, as I found myself running to where the figures stood. I couched behind a boulder and peeped from behind it. A girl, that looked about five years younger than me, around twelve stood in the middle of one of the parks only lights staring up at a huge, dark, hairy creature that looked like a blown out version of a wolf.

 The wolf took a step towards the girl, allowing itself to be seen clearly in the dim park lights and she seemed to be too terror stricken to move, as she gapped at it. The girl looked to tears, and finally her legs gave out as the wolf approached her another foot at a time. My feet acted before my brain, and I was in front of the girl in seconds. From then I had a front row view of the creature attacking the girl. My breath slowed to almost a stop, and my heart eased to a slight throb, it was definitely a wolf—and flipping huge one at that!

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The creature was as tall as a horse, but much wider and fuller, covered in a thick black hair and carrying a menacing aura. He was standing on all fours, but was still taller than I was. Strangely enough, I found myself momentarily wondering how soft his hair was, until that is my eyes fell to its claws. They were literally razors sticking out from his paws, and sticky with fresh blood. A body lay beyond us a little further back and I could imagine what those things could have done with that body. My stomach lurched as I scanned him even further. His fangs were even worse, and I'd honestly prefer to die by a claw than those lethal saber teeth. I bit my lip staring it in the eyes now, am I really going to die?

The wolf didn't move at all, as if it was contemplating something. I took the chance to look back at the girl who was pale faced, and holding on to my shirt tail. She looked almost as petrified as I felt, although something in me kept me from fully freaking out. Perhaps it was just my determination to live...yet as I looked at the wolf's eyes I felt like if it was something more, that made me calm, even in the face of a beast.

"It'll be alright..." I whispered to her, my eyes shifted from the girl back to the wolf every second I spoke, "It's just a wolf...it's a relative to a dog you know," I said as calming as possible, I would swear I saw the wolf scoff in disgust, at my analogy.

"Dog..."she whispered, almost inaudibly.

"Just like a dog..." I repeated to the child reassuringly, and the wolf released a menacing growl as if in objection. I glanced quickly at the wolf as it started to make advancements towards us, "Are you okay...? Can you run...?" I asked, trying to eliminate the sense of urgency from my face, as the wolf slowly stalked over. I should have brought a weapon, I thought momentarily before the girl tugged on my shirt and pulled herself to her feet. Her eyes showed utter fear, but I could tell she was resolved as she nodded in response. I felt a smile cross my face. Aww, this kid was a trooper, I thought fondly, I could die for that.

"Get ready..." I whispered, nudging her to back me. I could sense her muscles tense nervously, and she glanced back at me. I reassured her with a small smile, and stepped out once towards the wolf, arching myself forward into a fighting pose, I witnessed the late "Champion" use a few nights before he passed. I could hear her heart beats from behind me, and I squeezed her hand for comfort, releasing it within the same second. The wolf stopped, and looked at us, almost as if to laugh.

Its eyes seemed to gleam in interest as I positioned myself completely in front of her and clenched my teeth together, bracing myself--giving the creature as determined a glare as I could muster. I noticed a shift in his aura, and he seemed confused momentarily about whether to pounce or not. Instinct told me I would only have one chance, so again I followed my instinct.

"RUN! NOW!!" I commanded her quickly, in the most demanding voiced I could muster, the girl bolted off in a heart beat, likewise the wolf pounced,less than two seconds after. The girl looked back in time to see him within an inch of her, ready to pounce,  fangs and claws prepared to kill her, after quickly bypassing me and my 'Champion' pose. I guess that really wasn't saying much. A scream erupted from her lips, as he lunged through the air for her. 

I can't let her die, I thought before my mind went blank. I could sense a power surge through my veins, sending small tingles through my arms and a bright, white light flashed out in front of me and the wolf. Slamming him into the ground.