The following scene was deleted from the ending of the very first draft of TTD:P1 because it was inconsistent with details from Earth Song about how Smirkums ends up under the CNA’s protection. It does, though, hold true to the relationship between Erikhó:wa, Guillermo, and Owen.

The CNA. 

Of course. I feel like a an idiot for not thinking of them sooner. For not thinking of them first. 

The Council for North America is a group of shifters supposed to facilitate shifter-human coexistence, but I’d bet my life that they would welcome me into their lands if they knew my situation. Yeah, one of their members is Kanontienentha, but there are others, and they’re all equal.

I bet the bison representative would have taken me in since Kachina had once been part of the herd. The bison would have had the sympathy and the resources to help me…

But I’d run to your parents because they were the only light in the dark when I’d decided to run.

Stupid. I could not have made a worse choice by exposing your parents like this.

I know I can ask Guillermo to drive me to the CNA border, and I know he would, but you’ve picked me up from raven lands several times in his sedan. I don’t know if the raven even paid attention to stuff like that, but now, knowing how much I’ve already put your parents at risk, I don’t want to gamble with how long raven memories might last.

None of that changes the fact that I have to leave. I don’t have a choice. The longer I stay with your parents, the more reasons I give the ravens to harass your family.

I make my way to the kitchen and try my best to explain why I have to leave in a reasonable tone of voice, but no matter the calm I’m trying to put out, Guillermo’s nostrils start flaring and Owen’s eyes get all squinty like when he’s losing at chess.

“Nonsense,” Owen says, as Guillermo cuts off my reasoning with an impulsive hug. “We’ll take you to the CNA.”

“Our neighbor has a minivan that I’m sure we can borrow,” Guillermo says, releasing me.

I wish I’d been more of a hero, then. Someone who can’t feel fear would not have risked you parents’ safety just to secure mine, but I’m not a hero. And I need help.

“Thank you. I know that you didn’t want to get involved. I’m so sorry. I never—”

Owen wraps an arm around me and squeezes, cutting me off with a gentle gesture of affection that I know is rare for him.

“You do not need to be sorry for who you are, or who you’re growing to be,” he says. “And we are so glad that we can be here to help when your family can’t. I know Serena would be here if she could be.”

The assurances from people who are effectively my in-law breaks down the angry walls I’ve been putting up ever since Kachina and I first spoke on the phone. The promise of love and acceptance no matter what that I hadn’t received at home leaves me holding back sobs, but I can’t stop the tears.

“Thank you for everything,” I say, sniffing past the snot.

Owen gives me another squeeze and lets me go. “Steady on, now,” he says. “Let’s get you to the CNA.”

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