"Everybody off, out of the pool," I said.
Damian's sorrow was almost like rain on my skin. Nathaniel wasn't sad. He went straight to panic, afraid he'd done something wrong. "It's alright, Nathaniel, you're alright. We're all alright." I wasn't sure I actually believed that down to my toes, but the panic subsided, and everybody got off of me. Yeah. Though Damian's sadness clung to me like I'd walked through some metaphysical cobweb.
While we were getting untangled, Micah came through the splintered door. I'd been found in compromising positions by boyfriends before, but never with less embarrassment. He didn't ask stupid questions or make me feel like a slut. In fact he concentrated on the most important thing. "Wow," he said, and the wow seemed to take in the blood scattered here and there on the floor and the walls, the injuries that he could see on most of us, the broken door, all of it, but what he said out loud was, "Is everybody alright?"
I started to get up off the floor, and Damian offered me a hand up. I wouldn't have taken it normally, but we'd just had sex, and it seemed odd to slap away his hand. The moment my hand touched his, I realized it was more than that. That need to put my skin against his was still there. One moment of good sex didn't take away centuries of need. Sex was like some kind of fuel like food--you burned it up and needed more.
I got my hand out of his and took a slightly shaky step away from Nathaniel and Damian. A little distance would be helpful, I hoped. "We'll all live," I said.
"Good." He cocked his head to one side and said, "I didn't know that Damian could walk around this early in the day."
"He can't," I said.
"Do I say the obvious, 'but he is walking around during the day,' or do you want me to just stop asking questions?"
I was suddenly tired, and I probably wasn't the only one. "Have you been to bed at all?"
He shook his head, and as if I'd reminded him, he rubbed his chartreuse eyes, his sunglasses already tucked into the front of his shirt. "When I drove the guy home from the bar, he had a live-in girlfriend and a child. Girlfriend started a fight about his drinking. Anger does not help you fight the change."
"Did he shift?" I asked.
"No, but it was close, and he's so new..." Micah shook his head again. "I'd feel better if the girlfriend was a little more understanding about how dangerous he could be. She just didn't seem to understand."
"She didn't want to understand," Richard said.
Micah turned and looked at him. I realized that of all the people in the room, Richard had been the only one that Micah hadn't really looked at. "Then you've met Patrick's girlfriend."
Richard started to shake his head, stopped in mid-motion, and winced. "No, but I've seen it. The human spouse just doesn't want to understand that they're married to a monster." I think he meant it to sound matter-of-fact, but it didn't. It sounded bitter.
I'd never made Richard feel like that, that I knew of; no, he'd spent a great deal more time making me feel like a monster. So I let it go. I let it go because I didn't know what to say, or if there was anything to say. Okay, I had one thing to say. "The coalition is offering a monthly meeting for family members. I thought we'd given flyers out to the werewolves."
Richard got to his feet, cradling his arm. "This is my Patrick, Patrick Cook?"
Micah said, "Yes."
"And you've been baby-sitting him all night?"
"Yes," Micah said, again.
Richard looked down at the floor, then back up. He met Micah's gaze, but his face wasn't completely happy about it. "Thank you for looking after my wolf."
"The wolves are part of the coalition, too," Micah said, "I'd do the same for anyone's people."
"All the same, thank you."
"Don't mention it."
There was one of those awkward silences. I hated to leave everybody alone, but I really needed a shower. The shower would hurt the wound on my throat, but I'd just had sex without a condom, which meant all the mess had gone into me, but it wouldn't stay there. So I needed to clean up. Truthfully, I'd have preferred a condom, but it hadn't occurred to me until afterward. Tammy had gotten pregnant on the pill. Yeah, she had fallen afoul of the fact that antibiotics don't mix well with the pill, but still. That one percent chance suddenly seemed like it wasn't good odds. Damian was a thousand-year-old vampire; chances were he was infertile, but still... It was one thing getting pregnant by a boyfriend, but pregnant by someone who wasn't even that... well, that seemed somehow worse. "I'm taking a shower."
They all looked at me. I guess it was abrupt. "I'm sorry, but I just can't stand here like this anymore. So everybody behave themselves. I'll be as quick as I can."
"I'll call for a doctor," Micah said.
I nodded. "Good, good." I suddenly had to not be there, naked, smelling of fresh sex, with Richard and Micah in the same room. Having Damian and Nathaniel na**d didn't help my comfort level. I was fairly comfortable around nudity in general now, but specific nudity, that was still a problem. For more reasons than I was comfortable with, I needed to leave the room.
"By the way, there's a woman crying in your car in the driveway," Micah said.
"My car?" I asked.
"No, Richard's, or at least I assume it's Richard's. I know Gregory's car, and that's not the one she's in."
Richard cursed under his breath, something he rarely did. "Clair, I forgot about Clair."
"Who's Clair?" I asked.
He hesitated, then said, "My girlfriend," then he was walking to the door holding his arm like it hurt to walk that fast.
His girlfriend, and I'm buck na**d the first time she sees me. Great. Well, at least she hadn't seen me f**k Damian. That helped. Sure, great. Just great. I was shaking my head as I went toward the bathroom.
It was Gregory, in his growling voice, who said, "I guess it's none of my business, but should Richard really be in front of the house where cars could see him? He is covered in blood."
I turned and looked at the leopardman and said, "Shit, no." I started for the door, and Micah stopped me. "I'll go. I'm the only one that they wouldn't call the cops on right now." He squeezed my shoulder and smiled at me.
I realized that I hadn't kissed him hello, I always kissed him hello. Of course, I was still covered in blood and other bodily fluids, and none of them were his, but he might not understand that that was why I hadn't wanted to get too close. Some of my confusion must have shown on my face, because his smile widened. He turned me around by the shoulders, gave me a little push toward the bathroom, and slapped me on the ass. "Get cleaned up, I'll take care of things here."
"I can't believe you just did that," I said.
"Did what?" he said, and he was grinning at me.
I could probably count on one hand the number of times Micah had grinned at me. His eyes were sparkling with laughter as if it were all he could do not to let it out. I was happy to see him having this good a time, really I was. But I wasn't sure what was funny, and I didn't have the courage to ask. It was probably something that would be at my expense, or something I'd just done that he found cute. I was not cute. Confused, f**ked-up, bruised, but not cute. Nathaniel and Damian knew better, but as I passed Gregory, I had to say, "If you touch my ass, I will rip you a new one." I said it as I moved past him, not even pausing.
"You're no fun," he growled.
I looked back just before I turned out of sight of him. "Oh, I'm a lot of fun, just not for you."
He snarled at me. "Bitch."
"Woof, woof," I said, and finally made it into the bathroom.
I tried not to think in the shower. Thinking bad; hot water good. I turned the shower head to as hard as the water would go and the let the water beat against my body, finding bruises I didn't know I had. Once I would have been hurt, really hurt, by the beating that Damian had given me. Thanks to Jean-Claude's vampire marks I was just a little stiff. The bite would take the longest to heal, and even that would be gone in few days, a week at the outside. The healing was great, the rest of it... well, let's just say the jury was still out.
I heard a noise over the pounding water. It took me a minute to realize that someone was knocking at the door. I tried to ignore it. The knocking stopped for a second, and I thought, oh, good, but it started again, louder, as if whoever was knocking thought I hadn't heard the first time.