"The way I see it, you're stuck with me. Lupe is... I mean... was, like a father to me, and his word goes, but I need to go find the people that did that to him, to me. I know you didn't know him, but, fact is you owe him. You do. So, today we pack, set off tonight, wolf form. But somethings going to happen here, so we need to go as soon as possible. See, all the wolves are leaving already. Its like, when Lupe died, part of the sanctuary, the old sanctuary, the strength behind this place died with him... So what do you say? You coming with or am I going to have to carry you out of here?"
Through this whole speech his eyes had roamed all aorund the room, or focused over my shoulder. But as he finished speaking, his eyes settled on my face, finding mine. As he fell silent the air seemed denser, crackling with some kind of energy. A white-hot bolt of pain went through me and I felt torn. I badly wanted to go with him, but the weight of what I had cost him pressed heavily on my mind.
He stepped forward so that he was close enough to touch. I looked away, afraid of what he might read in my eyes, but he caught my chin gently, forcing me to look him in the eye.
"What are you so afraid of?" He asked quietly, suprising me.
I shook my head in denial but he held my chin still. I felt my pulse accelerate.
"Nothing. Tyler, it-its nothing.." I muttered, but it fell flat as my voice cracked.
Suddenly, he pulled me into a feirce hug. After a second, I put my arms around him, feeling like a fraud but sensing he needed it as much as I did.
"You wouldn't be able to pick me up in wolf form." I muttered against his chest.
He pulled away, giving me a searching look.
"Might as well save you the effort.. You're right. I do owe it to Lupe to come with you." And I owe it to you aswell. I added silently.
"Good," he replied, the ghost of a smile on his lips.
"Look, you haven't slept at all. I'll take a watch for a bit while you rest." I said eventually.
He immeadiately protested but cut himself off with a yawn.
"Believe me, I am used to it." I said tonelessly. "And I owe you that much for helping me out earlier. And I could start getting basics together; canteens for water and that kind of thing. That way we will be quicker leaving."
I could see it when he finally caved in. His shoulders slumped. "Okay. Wake me up in a couple of hours though."
I nodded, though privately I was going to let him sleep for most of the day. Tyler made himself comfortable and was very quickly asleep. I couldn't help but notice how vulnerable he looked. I promised myself then that I would protect him the best I could.
It was late afternoon before Tyler stirred again. I had placed two packs by the door, both carrying the essentials for each of us. I was sitting in the window, watching the forest when I felt his eyes on me. I had no idea how long he had been watching.
"How are you doing?" I asked.