She made a face. "Watch out or I'll use some of my transmutation powers - I have enough to turn your hair green." It was a bluff but she got to see Lucas's eyes narrow in warning as he debated whether she was serious.
"You have power," Tamsyn muttered, interrupting them. "Maybe you're an E-Psy like your great-grandmother. Maybe being an E-Psy is no longer allowed, so they categorize you as non-specialized and bang it into you that you have no power to speak of. Tell someone a lie often enough and they'll start to believe it, even to the extent of handicapping themselves."
Sascha's eyes widened. "When I was a child undergoing training, the instructors always told me I had so much potential, and that it was such a pity it was blocked."
Lucas suddenly rose in a startlingly fast movement, destroying her train of thought.
"What - " She found her feet as he set her down.
"Quiet." Nate's head jerked toward the front yard.
Lucas's body was a study in silent danger. "Where are Vaughn and Clay?"
"Out back." Nate prowled to stand beside Lucas. "Tammy, get Sascha out of here."
"I'm not leaving. This is my fight, too."
Lucas whipped her a blazing green look. "Actually it's not. That's the SnowDancers out there. Tammy?"
The healer crossed the room and took Sascha's arm. "Come on. Lucas won't be able to concentrate if you're nearby." It was an almost inaudible whisper.
Sascha felt the protective fury in him and knew Tamsyn was right. Frustrated but unwilling to endanger him, she followed the other woman out of the living room and to one of the windowless upstairs bedrooms.
They encountered Dorian in the hallway, a sleek presence dressed head to toe in black. He put a finger to his lips and jerked his head for them to keep going. Sascha froze as she felt the lethal anger coming off him, so dangerous it threatened everything and everyone in its path.
"Come on." Tamsyn tugged at her arm.
Dorian scowled and motioned for her to go. Sascha forced herself to start moving again. The sentinel's deep anger wasn't something she could fix, not when he seemed determined to nurture it.
She turned to Tamsyn the second they were behind the solid wooden door of the bedroom. "How can you stand this? Being shut away safe while they might not be?"
"I'm the healer. It does no one any good if I die. I fight my battles after they've fought theirs." Intense emotion overlaid her every word.
"At least you get to fight. They should've let me help - I have enough Tk and Tp powers to cause some mayhem."
"There might not be any need for violence. The wolves have a pact with us." Tamsyn didn't sound too convinced of her own argument. "I've been thinking of something."
"What?" Sascha paced the room, feeling more like a caged animal than the cool, controlled Psy she was supposed to be. "That it's idiotic to be locked up here when we're fully capable of protecting ourselves?"
"If you go down, you make Lucas vulnerable." Tamsyn's words pleaded with her to think. "If the SnowDancers pick up that the mating dance is incomplete, they'll use you as a lever against him."
"Will they know if we don't tell them?"
Tamsyn paused. "I'm not sure. They're wolves, not cats. Their scent is very different from ours - they might assume you already belong to Lucas."
For some reason, that made Sascha smile. "How can you talk about belonging to someone so easily? I thought predatory changelings were independent by nature."
"Simple." Tamsyn walked over and took Sascha's hand. "Because Lucas belongs to you, too."
Sascha wanted to break the contact but she could feel the healer's need for touch, for Pack. Nate was down there facing off with the wolves, and despite the logic of her statements, Tamsyn was terrified. Not quite understanding how she knew what to do, she pulled the other woman into a hug. Tamsyn came without hesitation.
"How can you treat me like one of the pack?" Sascha asked, even as she stroked Tamsyn's thick fall of hair.
"You smell of Lucas, and I don't mean on a physical level. It's difficult to put into words." She pulled back from the embrace, as if she'd received what she needed to be strong again. "Our bodies and hearts recognize yours. We know you're one of us."
"But I'm not mated to Lucas yet," Sascha argued, feeling the noose slip about her neck. She couldn't, wouldn't, destroy these people who'd come to mean everything to her. If Lucas went down, DarkRiver would fragment. The pack might physically survive with the deadly sentinels at the helm, but they'd all be broken. She would not do that to them.
"You're so close as to make little to no difference." Tamsyn pushed her hair off her face and held up a hand when Sascha began to speak. "Don't ask me what the final steps are. I can't tell you. It's different for each couple..." She sighed. "But the male half of the pair usually has a better idea of what's needed - I guess it's nature's way of ensuring the more independent females can't avoid bonding."
"He'll never tell me." She sat down heavily on the floor, her head hanging between bent knees. "I'm coming apart at the seams and I refuse to take Lucas with me."
Tamsyn knelt in front of her. "That's not your choice to make. Mating isn't marriage. You can't divorce each other and you can't walk away once you've found one another."
Sascha met the other woman's compassionate gaze. "I'll destroy him." It was a painful whisper.
"Maybe. Or you might save him." Tamsyn smiled. "Without you, Lucas might've become too much his beast, too much the predator, cruel and without mercy."