able to handle, but I'm not good at jokes. I'm not good at sex, either."
She rolled her eyes. "So not believing you here. About jokes, maybe. You don't always get them, or sometimes you think something's funny that I don't get. But sex?" She shook her head and found her own smile. "Come on."
"I can do sex, of course. But it's too…" He shook his head, clearly frustrated. "This doesn't fit into words well. I need a connection. Sex without that connection is too lonely."
Her heart was pounding and it had little to do with her run. "Friendship is a connection."
She searched his face, seeing something different there, but unsure what. She tried to speak lightly. "You're giving me ideas, you know. If that isn't what you had in mind—"
"My mind has become strange territory. I don't know what's in it myself, so I can't tell you." He dropped his hands. "But you'll get chilled, stopping like this when you're sweaty. We should keep moving."
"I need to stretch first." Stretching helped with lactic acid buildup in taxed muscles, making them less likely to stiffen. It would also give her a few minutes to locate her brain, which had to be around here someplace.
Kai untied the jacket she'd fastened around her waist, shrugged it on, and moved to the curb so she could stretch her hamstrings. "So why did you track me down?" Automatically she reached for his shoulder to balance herself. This kind of touching they'd done often.
"I need to let you know about the killer."
"What about him?" She dropped her heels off the curb. "Or it."
"It may be a chameleon."
"You're not talking about a cute little lizard that changes color."
"No, this creature changes its form entirely, not just its color. Chameleon is the closest word in English."
"Not the illusion of change? It really changes?"
"Yes. Mass is preserved, as is the essential brain composition and metabolism. They can look like anything, though, and unlike demons, they change quickly if they have a good pattern for the new shape."
"Scary." She switched positions, this time pulling her knee to her chest to stretch her quads.
He was looking at her legs. He never looked at her legs, not that way. "I wanted you to be watching for something that seems human, but isn't. You'll be able to tell from the way its thoughts look, won't you?"
She nodded, a frown pleating her forehead. "You have any reason to think I'm likely to run into this creature?"
"You aren't giving me a warm, fuzzy feeling. And what about you?" She started back at an easy jog. "Can it trick you?"
He fell in beside her. "Since its metabolism doesn't change, I'll smell the truth if I'm close enough."
"But you're not lupus."
This smile was amused. "No."
Personal questions amused him now, instead of making him run the other way? "Is that all you came here to tell me? To watch out for something like looks human, but isn't?"
He nodded. "I may have exaggerated the urgency. I think the killer is a chameleon—that fits what I know—but I'm not certain. They're extremely rare, for one thing, and normally they exist only in high-magic realms."
"Is that where you come from? A high-magic realm?"
Another answer, offered as easily as if his true nature wasn't a big, fat secret.
He added, "Not the realm where chameleons are found, though. They're constructs. That's not allowed in… my home realm."
"Made, not bom."
"But—but how could that be possible?"
"As I understand it, the mage—no, it would have to be an adept. He or she would start with—"
"Hold on. There really are mages and adepts? I thought that was just myth, like unicorns or… never mind." She'd been about to say "or dragons," but they'd turned out to be real.
"Unicorns are real, too. Or mostly real. They don't exactly live in any of the realms, but… wait, wait." He held up a hand, forestalling the questions hovering on her tongue. "I'll explain another time, or try to. I don't understand unicorns myself.