Read T.J. Klune - Bear, Otter, and the Kid 2 - Who We Are Online
Authors: TK Klune
Bear, Otter, and the Kid Who We Are
382 NE 191st Street #88329
Miami, FL 33179-3899, USA
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the written permission of the Publisher, except where permitted by law. To request permission and all other inquiries, contact Dreamspinner Press, 382 NE 191st Street #88329, Miami, FL 33179-3899, USA
Printed in the United States of America First Edition
For my little brother, Marcus: I’d be nothing without you. S’up, girl?
And to all of you who love these guys almost as much as I do. This one is for you.
First, for Bear and the Kid
: I sought my soul, but my soul I could not see. I
“It didn’t have to come to this,” Otter growls, the barrel of the gun he’s pointing at me like a gaping black tunnel. “You should have just left it alone, Bear!”
I glare at him, this man who I thought loved me, but who, in the end, betrayed me like no other had done before. I take another step back, and my right foot slips off the edge of the rooftop we stand on, the street below at least eight hundred feet down. Blood trickles down from the cut on my face where he’d caught me off guard, right after I’d discovered who he really was. How did I not know? That this man,
man, was not who he seemed?
“How long?” I snarl at him. “How long have you been working for the FBI hunting my kind? Was any of this real? Did you ever care about me at all?”
This causes pain to cloud his hard face, and his eyes grow dark. The gun pointed at my head begins to shake. There’s doubt in him, and my breath catches in my throat. Maybe… just
“I was recruited right out of high school,” he says as he begins to pace, the gun still pointed at me. “I was told that there were things in this world, things that defied belief, and that they were dangerous, and we had to stop them. They said I had an extraordinary aptitude for everything I did, and I was a perfect candidate for a new division of the FBI. I was trained to find these things… and to stop them.”
Shit. So he does know.
I didn’t get my nickname as I’d told you before. I got it because of what I was, what I could become. I discovered at a very early age that I was a shifter, a being capable of turning from human form into that of an animal. You’ve probably heard all the shifter lore before, but I’m here to tell you it’s all bullshit. There’s no such thing as Werewolves, or Were-Panthers, or Were-Giraffes. Only Were-Bears actually exist, and we are slowly dying out, our kind hunted almost to the point of extinction. The Council of the Bears had called an emergency session to try and curb the tide against us, but I was unable to get there in time, seeing as how my supposed boyfriend had suddenly become the hunter and trapped me here on this rooftop.
“I trusted you!” I shout at him as rain begins to fall from the darkened sky. “You are my—” But I stop myself before I make the biggest mistake of all. He can’t know what he is to me, not if he’s to stay safe.
But this is Otter, and I should know better. “I am your what?” he asks me, taking another step closer.
It seems despite my resolve, I can deny him nothing. “You are my mate,” I say miserably. “A Were-Bear is destined to be with only one person, one person who understands him completely, whose biological makeup completes the bear. It’s next to impossible to actually find one’s mate, but I found you. Somehow the Bear God saw fit to give me you. It was always you.”
I shake my head, trying to clear out the hope starting to crowd in my mind. “It doesn’t matter,” I whisper. “You’re a part of the FBI’s secret side agency: People for the Execution of Terrestrial Abnormalities. I knew it the moment I saw your PETA badge!”
“Bear, you don’t understand!” Otter says as he lowers his gun and rushes to me. My Were-Bear instincts threaten to take over, wanting to maul him and shred the skin from his bones, and then hibernate for three to six months in a cave on a nest of grass and leaves while my stored body fat keeps me alive through the winter. But I look up into the gold-green, the eyes of my mate, and the rain falls down around us, and I can’t maul him any more than I can turn him away. “You don’t understand!” he says again. “I’m not what you think I am, either!”
“You’re not?” I whisper as he kisses my forehead gently.
“No,” he says, taking a step back. “I only agreed to go into PETA because I knew I could keep tabs on what they were doing from the inside.
“What?” I ask, chills racing down my spine. “What is it?” “I’m a Were too,” he says, setting his gun down onto the ground. “Bear, there aren’t just Were-Bears in the world. Werewolves are bullshit, but there are others. I….”
He closes his eyes and raises his face toward the sky. “I… am a WereOtter.” Then, as if my night couldn’t get any stranger, Otter’s skin suddenly
begins to shift and tremble, fine brown hairs sprouting from his arms as he shrinks. Muscles and bone snap and creak as they shorten, and within seconds, Otter the man is gone, and from a pile of clothes crawls out a fat brown otter. He waddles over to me and sits up on his haunches, his nose twitching as I fall to my knees.
“Why didn’t you just
me?” I ask, my voice hoarse. “Don’t you know how alone I was? Even with you there, I felt so alone because I couldn’t tell you my greatest secret!”
Otter looks at me sadly, his whiskers drooping.
I just wanted to keep you safe. If they had found out about you, you would have been taken from me. And I’m not just talking about PETA
His nose twitches in my direction, and for a moment, I wonder if he is trying to smell me. I think that’s very weird.
The Clan of Otters,
There was a prophecy foretold generations ago that there would be a union between a Were-Bear and a Were-Otter, and it would unite the two groups. But Otters are fiercely territorial and have since been trying to negate the prophecy so we don’t have to share our underwater dens. Bear… there’s something you should know: you are my mate too. And the prophecy… is about us.
Otter falls back to his feet and waddles back to his clothes.
It is true
, he thinks back at me.
And I have the proof right here. Bear, what I am about to show you has never been seen outside of the Clan of Otters. I risked my life to get this, in case a moment like this arose, where I needed to make you believe. But first, shifting always drains me, and I need to eat to regain my strength
. Otter pulls a clam out of his coat pocket and rolls over onto his back, placing the shellfish on his stomach.
“What the hell are you doing?” I growl.
I am an otter. We eat clams off our bellies. It’s how it’s always been.
“We don’t have time for this!”
All done. Here… take a look at this and—
But that’s all he’s able to get out. The rooftop door suddenly opens, and men in full Kevlar race out onto the building, automatic rifles pointed at each of us. Otter shifts back into his human form, standing naked between me and the gunmen. “Whatever happens,” he says quietly to me, “I need you to trust me. Can you do that, Bear?”
Can I? This man is everything to me, but everything I knew about him was a lie. But even I, the Crown Royal Prince of the Were-Bears, cannot deny my mate. “I trust you,” I whisper. I feel him shiver against me, my words causing gooseflesh to ripple across his skin.
I should have known. I’d heard stories about how sadistic the guy in charge was, and I should have put two and two together. I haven’t seen him since a year or so ago, when he discovered my identity and we last battled, but he hasn’t changed at all, not really. That grin is still the same.
The Kid reaches up and rubs the patch covering the right socket where his eye used to be, a remnant from our last fight. I’d ripped the eye from its
socket while in my bear form, and his screams had been long and loud. “You’ll pay for your transgressions, Bear,” the Kid shouts, “and pay dearly you shall! You have nowhere to run. My men have this place surrounded! You are now my prisoners, and you’ll come back with me to the underground PETA lair, where I’ll perform dastardly experimentations and will finally glean the secrets of the Were-Bear and Were-Otter! The world will forever remember what PETA and I have done this night! The world will be mine!”
The Kid cackles again. “Oh
, I’d forgotten you were mates. Such a trivial thing, love is. It can bring even the greatest man to his knees.” He looks darkly amused as he glances between us. “Have you told him yet, Otter? Have you told Bear your final secret?”
“When a Were-Bear and Were-Otter are destined to be mates, such as is written in the Prophecy of Otter-Se-Ra, the otter is biologically endowed with the capability… to become pregnant.”
Lightning flashes overhead.
“You’re pregnant?” I whisper to Otter.
He nods sadly. “With a litter of Otter-Bears.” He presses my hand
“I just thought you were getting fat,” I say, feeling a kick against my palm, the little life inside my mate.
“Fat with my love for you,” he whispers as he gazes into my eyes.
As we fall through the night air, the rain slashing against our faces, the Kid screaming from somewhere up above, I shift into the Great Grizzly that is my Were-Bear form. My arms and legs explode in muscle and hair, the claws stretching into wicked three-inch black hooks. My face elongates and my snout picks up a billion different scents in the air. But then my royal heritage reveals itself as wings unfurl from my sides, catching the wind and lifting us up.
, I think at him.
And I can breathe fire.
I open my jaws, and a great flaming gout shoots out of my mouth, causing the rain around us to hiss as it evaporates.