Once, Judd would've answered with a yes or a no. That was before he fell in love with a woman who saw no evil in him. "There's nothing to fix. What I can do is teach you to control it. So you can use it for good things."
"Like putting broken bodies back together."
He saw the boy consider that, his teddy bear clutched tight to his heart. "That wouldn't be so bad."
"Actually," Judd said. "It's better than that - it's pretty damn good."
A shaky smile. "Yeah?"
"Yeah. So, you ready for your first lesson?"
Dev woke to the insistent beeping of his phone at two a.m. on the day they planned to corner Ming, very aware of Katya cuddled against him. Only when he felt her breathe did his heart settle into a steady rhythm.
Turning to the screen of the small comm unit on his bedside table, he flicked it on to find Jack's shaken face looking at him. "Dev, William's sitting here eating chocolate crunch cereal."
Dev shifted his brain into gear. "Weird time for it, but that's still good news, so why do you look like you saw a ghost?"
Shoving a trembling hand through his hair, Jack said, "Because my son tells me an Arrow came to see him tonight and started teaching him how to be good."
"Damn" - Dev whistled softly through his teeth - "she came through."
Jack wasn't listening, his attention fixed on something to his right. "I'll be there in a second, sweetheart." Returning his attention to Dev, Jack shook his head. "Melissa's just sitting there, petting his hair like she's afraid he's going to disappear. But he keeps on smiling."
"The Arrow isn't a threat to William," Dev said, knowing Ashaya Aleine would never harm another mother's son. "I have a feeling he has to worry about his own name getting out - that's probably why the night visit."
"I don't care if he wants to visit at three in the f**king morning if he can do this for my son." A shaky laugh. "I'll do whatever the man wants. All you have to do is tell me."
Three hours later, Dev called Jack back. "He wants you to move to San Francisco." The information had been relayed through Dorian.
"Man's got family to protect," Dorian had said. "Less people who know what he can do the better. I didn't even know before he decided to tell me today."
Dev raised an eyebrow. "This guy sounds secretive."
"I'd have him at my back anytime." A steady gaze. "He's determined to help that kid - determined enough to share a secret he's kept for a hell of a long time, so if I was you, I'd do exactly as he says."
Now Jack didn't hesitate for even a second. "I'll start packing."
Hanging up, Dev met the eyes of the woman who'd just exited the bathroom. "Come to bed."
She didn't argue, but as she walked across the room, he saw something that made his spine knot. "Your balance is off."
"Yes." Sliding into the bed, she ran her fingers down the roughness of his jaw. "But I don't want to talk about that right now. Love me, Dev."
And because he could deny her nothing, he did as she asked.
If Dev had allowed himself to acknowledge the enraged helplessness that twisted around his mind in a thousand coils, he might've done something stupid. As it was, he compartmentalized. It was a skill he'd gotten very good at as a child. The machines, the metal, usually helped, but never when it came to Katya. She reached too deep, made him feel too much.
"I didn't think the non-Silent could do that," Katya said to him that evening as they discussed the final preparations. A bare two hours remained. Dev would've preferred a longer lead-up, but not only would Ming be in the city today, but the longer they waited, the more Katya would lose of herself.
"Do what?" he asked, looking up from his sketch of the location where they planned to lure the bastard.
"Shut away emotional responses." Rising from her seat on the sofa in front of him, she walked over to sit on the arm of his chair. "You've gone cold."
His slid his own arm around her waist in an instinctively protective gesture. "It's necessary." Tugging gently, he brought her into his embrace. "A soldier can't operate unless he's completely focused on the target."
"How long were you a soldier?"
"Few years after high school." He frowned and annotated a gap in the net of snipers he planned to have cover the meeting spot. "I decided it'd be the easiest way to get the kind of training I needed."
"Needed for what?" A warm hand along his nape, a kiss pressed to his cheekbone.
"Katya." It was meant to be an admonishment, but he was lost the instant he met those hazel eyes. Groaning, he pulled her down with a hand on the back of her head and bit at her lower lip in sensual punishment. "I know what you're trying to do."
Her gaze darkened to jade shot with tiger's-eye. "Let me."
It took her long minutes to release a sigh. "I don't want to lose you."
He looked at her, waiting for her to understand.
"No," she said after almost thirty seconds of silence. "I wouldn't choose safety either if it was you."
He kissed her for that, for accepting his need to protect her, keep her safe.
Afterward, she nuzzled into his throat. "Just a few minutes."
"Just a few." He needed to have every piece in its absolute accurate place or it would all turn to shit. If they worked it exactly right, the Councilor would find a physical meeting more expedient than a psychic one. Because a meeting on the psychic plane would leave Katya ultimately vulnerable - Dev was sure Ming had a hidden back door into her mind, one that would allow him to easily skirt the shields he'd put in place and take anything he wanted.