So what had started out as a bit of drinking with his closest mates had suddenly turned into four's-a-crowd kind of party. JessiCate had been the last to remember to be quiet, and had led a flame too close to her by screaming. Now she was huddled next to Gavin in the lee of the tree, healed but tired. The panic died after she had come-to from her healing, and the others realized that the dragons were content to spar with eachother, if the kids didn't make their presence obvious. The only problem was that they were right up against a forest they couldn't enter, and the only way out was through the dragons. Lokie was sure that crossing directly between two angry dragons qualified as making their presence obvious.
Two of them. A dragon sighting was a rare thing these days. The species had recovered quite well from the last time men got testy and tried to wipe them out. But the ones who survived the last world war had retreated far from civilization. Lokie used to dream about dragons, finding them and taming them, and doing heroic things, etc. etc., just like all children. But the reality was a bit off-putting.
Lokie peered cautiously through the thick needles, shading his eyes from the flashing of firebreath and the circle of flames from the grass below. From the light he could see the beasts, leaping and crouching and snapping. He had always thought firebreath was accompanied by great roars, but aside from the occasional snarl and the crackle of rogue pinecones, the night was silent. Especially silent, for the squirrels and birds and foxes didn't want to run amok** of the dragons anymore than Lokie and his friends did.
Behind him, he heard a nervous chuckle, and he started badly, whirling around to see JayCate giggling with a cigarrette in her mouth and Gavin on her lap.
"Fuck it," she muttered, and struck a match, held it to her cigarrette, and sucked. The end of the fag went up in a startling flame, then went flying as JessiCate spat it out, barking "Bugger it! I lit the wrong end!"
It would have been more amusing if the dragons hadn't suddenly fallen still, the night black. And funnier still if Gavin hadn't burst out in an idiotic guffaw that continued to echo for what felt like minutes. Lokie felt suddenly dizzy, as a curious tug from his subconscious invaded his thoughts, and for a moment he was a feral creature, aware only of his fear and this alien presence in his head. But then Lokie regained himself, and he said out loud, "We intend neither harm nor challenge. We only seek passage." Where had that come from?
Now he was nearly knocked off his feet (since when was he standing?), but he recovered faster, and sensed the tug again, but in two directions this time, and both very strong. Jealousy, possessiveness, anger. He suddenly understood. Dragons communicated teleconsciously, but could only do it marginally well with humans. They were trying to talk to him, as if they saw him as a sentient** being. Only he was two slow-witted to catch on. But he thought he knew. This was a territory dispute.
There came a frantic whisper from his back.
"Loke? Are you all right? Sit down, girlie!" It was JayCate, and apparently Lokie had Shifted, for he looked down at himself and saw a clumsily cross-dressed skinny girl. He hadn't accidentally Shifted since he had hit puberty, and the trait exhibited itself for the first time at football game. Lokie had been kicked off the league for legal purposes after that, even though she immediately started taking lessons to learn to control it. Sex-shifters were the most common type of Shifter, but that didn't count for much. Her parents still had to pay a fortune to have her properly trained.
Lokie sat down, but felt calmer. She took a deep breath and said cautiously, "We have no place here, no matter who's land this is. But we mean no harm. Let us pass." Now she felt her head spin a third time, and knew somehow that her voice was calming the beasts. They were sniffing the air, curious. She supposed she smelled different, but mostly Lokie thought it was her words. Where had they come from? She sounded like a fairytale dragontamer. If she'd had time for self-awareness, she would have thought she was in a completely ridiculous situation, but she didn't question her sudden lack of fear because it felt right. She was in control.
* don't know much about england's geography or climate. so I make a lot of shit up.
** how the fuck do you spell that?