Even though Jack had to tackle Katy, his relief when she turned human was gut-churning and profound.
Teague had been wounded in the heat of battle with a kiss of rogue vampires in a way that had been terrifying. Excruciating. Every fear Jack had ever had for the three of them. But Katy's refusal to return to her human form had been frightening, too. Jack... Jack was the weakest member of their little group, in spite of his size and apparent strength. He was the emotional one, he was the one who lost his everlovin' mind in any given situation.
Teague was the leader. Katy was the anchor. Jack was the emotional drama queen who could fuck up a wet dream if someone didn't throw a rein over his shoulders and pull hard, and he'd been the one giving all the orders and doing all the thinking since the three of them had been shoved on the medivac helicopter and taken to the hospital where Teague was plastered, and then... oddly and surrealistically enough, taken here, to a house on a cliff, overlooking the redwoods and gray blue surf of Monterey.
And for the last twelve hours or so, he'd... he'd sat, here in this spacious, darkened room, looking out at the ocean below them. He petted Katy, kept her calm, and listened above the sound of his own heartbeat for Teague's breathing and the occasional grunt as he tried to turn sideways and curl up in a ball, only to be thwarted by the gazillion layers of plaster and fiberglass that covered him from the balls of his feet to the top of his balls and above.
Somewhere above Teague's breathing, Jack could hear the sea.
Teague didn't whimper -- not even in his sleep -- although the pain must have been breath-stopping. He just lay there and twitched, the weight of the plaster and all of the pulleys and things keeping him from curling into that ever-present, psychologically necessary self-protective ball. Jack had been torn between going to lie down with him, bed be-damned, and staying with Katy. But Teague was unconscious, and Katy was holding onto herself by a thread, and so he'd made the hard choice and stayed where he was needed instead of going where he wanted to be.
About an hour before Katy fell asleep (and two hours before she woke up so spectacularly), the phone rang, and that proved a welcome distraction. It had been Green.
"Hullo, Jacky. You lot settling in?" Green sounded... tired, Jack thought. Weary and a little bit ragged.
"He hasn't woken up yet," Jack said plaintively, and Green was not so weary and so ragged that he couldn't soothe an emotional-wingnut-werewolf's frazzled nerves.
"He will. Lambent said the push he gave would have sent a mortal into a coma for a week. Teague will wake up eventually, when his body's not working quite so hard at putting itself together, yeah?"
"Yeah," Jack said, with some relief. It was nothing he hadn't thought of himself, but... but he was a beta wolf. He had been his whole life and had known it from the moment he met Teague Sullivan in a bar and wanted his first man. He needed confirmation that it was going to be all right. Good beta wolf, right?
But then, even Jacky could grow a little beyond being a beta wolf.
"How is Lady Cory?" he asked reverently. The leader he'd resented for taking so much of Teague's time. The woman he'd been jealous of, because so many men seemed to fall at her feet. The little, smart-mouthed college student who could barely hold on to her patience most days when Jack was being his queenie, possessive worst. She'd almost killed herself to save Teague's life.
There were not enough ways to show your loyalty after that.
"She's..." Green sighed. "She scared us. Is still scaring us. Her clambake wasn't over by a longshot when you three left. She's sleeping now, but she's got some more grim business to do in a bit."
Jack sighed. So, here he'd been, freaking out and resentful because he had to be the head of his werewolf household for half a day, and the kid, (she was younger than he was. Goddamnit! She was nearly three years younger than he was. She was younger than Katy!) the woman who'd slit her throat on her enemy's knife to keep Teague from falling from the sky without even a little bit of a net, she'd been saving the world during that time. And now she was going to wake up from a little nap and do it all again.
"Tell her..." He breathed out hard, knowing no words were enough. "Tell her I'm grateful. Tell her that. Jacky's grateful."
For once, Green didn't ask if Jacky was going to be okay. It would hit Jack later -- and hit him hard -- that this was as close as Green ever came to being self-centered, and that what had happened with the little sorceress beloved by so many had shaken the tall, self-contained, and joyous sidhe to his sound and wholesome core.
"I'm glad you're grateful, brother," is what Green did say. "I'm profoundly glad that the lot of you will be okay. But don't get me wrong. What she did for your mate, she can't do again. Ever. There's more here than you know, Jacky, and her life is much bigger than her life. Teague won't let her do it again. He'll likely be hard pressed to forgive her for it now, ye ken?"
"I'm sorry?" Jack didn't understand the expression.
Green sighed. His accent had slipped. It did that sometimes, took a little memory surf around England, depending on the mood he was in. When he spoke of Adrian, it was damned near cockney. Jack had once heard him speak of the old ruling structure, and it had been pure aristocrat.
"Do you understand in your bones, Jacky boy," Green said softly. "Do you feel with all your breath that what she did was wrong?"
Jack tried hard to remember. It had all been so confused. He and Katy had been on the fringes of the battle, picking off vampires and shapeshifters who had entered ground zero for their fight. And then Cory had screamed, "Teague, get him!" and something huge pursuing Jack had disintegrated -- with a little help from several silver rounds in Teague's shotgun. ENDEXCERPT