Hawke nodded. "Fair enough." Nobody played games with mates.
"What do you want to see?" Sascha tipped her head slightly to the side, her eyes on the wolf. He was feral in a way that even Dorian wasn't, his beast separated from his humanity by the thinnest of layers.
"I want you to prove you are what you say you are."
"Are you sure?" she asked softly.
Hawke's jaw could've been carved from stone. "Yes."
She took a breath and let her eyes flutter shut. As her senses expanded, she felt the full brunt of Lucas's possessive, dominant personality. He was pure strength, pure heart. But buried deep was an echo of the staggering pain suffered by the young boy he'd once been, an echo that now beat with a fierce need to protect. She felt his determination to keep her, too, but that was the one thing she could never allow. He'd already spent a childhood without parents - she would not condemn him to a lifetime without a mate.
Behind her panther, she could feel the dull anger that was Dorian, so wounded that she'd have to spend years to lighten his anguish. Except she didn't have years. Tamsyn was gentleness and joy, power and care. The soldiers of both groups gave off their own distinctive emotional scents. But it was Hawke that she was searching for and Hawke that she found.
The wolf's emotions struck cold terror into her heart. She'd never felt such pure, unadulterated rage. Dark and violent, it was a scar across his soul. Hawke could function, could rule, but this man would never love, not so long as he was blinded by the red veil of blood and death.
Sascha didn't know if he'd feel what she was doing, didn't know if he'd find his proof. What she did know was that she couldn't let him walk away without trying to heal the festering wounds in his soul. Like Dorian, he couldn't be healed overnight, but perhaps she could give him a moment's surcease.
She wrapped mental arms around him and drew away the anger, the violence. And gave back joy, laughter, pleasure. To her surprise, she felt him react to her like Lucas did. He jerked in shock and then started trying to push her out. He was no Psy but he was definitely saying No!
She withdrew at once.
When she opened her eyes, it was to find him staring at her as if she were a ghost. "I didn't think the empaths existed anymore." His voice was half wolf.
It was the right word, the word that had been systematically destroyed from the Psy lexicon. "Neither did I," she whispered, letting her back rest against Lucas's front. His arms came around her and she swore she felt the ruffle of fur against the skin.
"Do you know how to attack using your powers?" Hawke's eyes lingered on her and Lucas's skin-to-skin contact.
"Nothing smooth," she told him, having thought about this upstairs. "But it'll keep me alive long enough to give you what you need to find Brenna."
Lucas's arms tightened across her shoulders. "I won't let her set the plan in motion unless we can pull her out of the Net safely."
Hawke shifted position. Sascha's eyes met his and her soul froze. He knew. Somehow, the alpha of the SnowDancers knew that she couldn't leave the PsyNet without facing death. Mutely, she pleaded with him to remain silent. If Lucas discovered the truth, he'd never let her go. Never.
And she needed to go, needed to wipe out a lifetime of failure by saving this one vibrant light before her own flickered out forever.
"Sorry, sweetcakes," Hawke raised his hands palms out, "but you're his mate. I'm not going to let you kill yourself and have Lucas out for my blood. In that kind of rage, I wouldn't want to take my chances against him."
Lucas's arms became manacles. "What's he talking about, Sascha?" It was a warning. She'd kept something from him and he wasn't happy about it. To Hawke, he said, "You can leave now. You got what you came for."
Hawke looked at them for another long moment before nodding. "We have two more days if the killer sticks to his usual pattern. Protect your woman, panther." With that the wolves left, tracked out of DarkRiver territory by Mercy, Clay, and Vaughn.
Lucas didn't wait for the sentinels to return. "Nate, Dorian, secure the house."
"Lucas," Tamsyn began, "maybe you should - "
"Stay the hell out of this." Lucas's eyes met her shocked ones. He'd never spoken to Tammy like that. "Nate, if you want your mate to last the night, you'd better get her under control." He wasn't kidding. There was only so much he could take and Sascha's keeping a secret had pushed him over the edge.
I'm not going to let you kill yourself...
What did the wolf know that he didn't?
"Don't talk to Tammy like that," Sascha ordered.
"I'll talk to my pack however the hell I feel like. You don't get to have a voice until you explain yourself to me." Grabbing her hand, he began to haul her up the stairs.
A psychic blow hit his chest but he was expecting it and took it with a grunt. "You're not that powerful a Tk, kitten." He was in the grip of the panther's instincts and there was nothing civilized about them.
"Damn it, Lucas. Let me go!" She tried to pull her hand away and kicked out at his shin.
Fed up with her wriggling, he bent down, threw her over his shoulder in a fireman's carry, and ran up the stairs. Her weight was nothing to his changeling strength, her fists on his back mere caresses. She was yelling and screaming by the time he got her into the bedroom and locked the door.
When he put her down on the floor, she took a swing at him. Only his lightning-fast reflexes saved him from a black eye. He pinned her hands behind her back before she could try again. Furious eyes met his. The woman in his arms was pure fire and heat, as different from the Psy he'd first met as night was from day.