With a herculean effort, I pulled myself over to Jake again.
"Jake?" My voice sounded weak and cracked. I hated it with a passion.
He just lay there, completely immobile, his face white with blood covering one side. I shuddered and fumbled for his pack, my hands clumsy from the burns the holy water had left behind. Eventually, I managed to open Jake's pack to get at the stores he had brought. I ripped a small corner off, clumsily pouring some into Jake's mouth.
"Come on, Jake, wake up.. please don't leave me alone again." I kept dripping blood slowly into his mouth, sighing in relief when he began to stir. I was only semi-concious myself. His eyes flickered open, that beautiful brown I never forgot. I handed him another fresh packet and he devoured it in a flash. I managed a weak smile.
"Don't scare me like that okay?" My voice sounded distant to my own ears. I was struggling to keep concious, my head spinning. "Next time, keep up."
Jake laughed in a way that reminded me of times when I thought vampires were myths and that Lee was nothing more than a creepy outsider. My world had been turned inside out since then. But Jake was still here. It was me who was slipping away again. Me who was causing the problems and me who had sentenced Jake to imprisonment with Zelthar by exposing him.
"Jake, Zelthar knows.." I said with difficulty. "About you.. He thinks I'm still working.. He wants you in three days..."
Jake caught me as I slumped. "Here."
He handed me a bag of blood. Supressing my usual adversion, I drained it. When I sat up properly, Jake hugged me tightly.
"You're still the scarier one." He murmured in my ear from behind, his breath caressing my cheek. I turned to meet his lips with mine. When we broke away, I buried my face in his shoulder, just under his collarbone. His arms formed a protective circle around me. We stayed that way for a long time.
"I'm scared, Jake. No matter what happens, no matter where we go, they'll follow us. They'll find us." I met his eyes with horror in mine. "I can't let them have you. I can't stand it if they get you because of me... Jake, you have to leave me behind. You have to get away from them, away from me. They'll find you through me. Wherever I go, I get recognised once this mask goes on. I can't let you get hurt again because of me-"
Jake stopped me by simply placing a gentle, elegant finger on my lips. He kissed my forehead tenderly before replying.
"I am not leaving you to them. We'll face them together Asha and there is not a thing you can do or say that will make me leave."
He brushed the solitary tear away from my face. "We're stronger together Asha."
I nodded, still not entirely convinced but tired of fighting alone. Selfishly, I stayed with Jake.
"Where do we go from here?"
Jake told me where the Mansion was and where to find it. He said that no matter what, I should get there, to be safe. He promised to be with me as long as it was possible for him to be. We ran together, changing the direction we were running often, crossing streams and confusing our scent as much as we could, doing anything to throw Zelthar and Lee off our trail. When morning came, we went up a large pine, Jake pulling me against his chest to put his arms around me as we slept and healed for the night to come.