"I don't care so much about Silence."
He shot her a look of utter disbelief. "What?"
"I think most Psy would break Silence if given a choice, but others would choose to hold on to it. That should be an option."
He returned his attention to the window. "If you say so."
"It's not black and white." He could feel her glaring at his back. "Shades of gray dominate."
Something hit his back. "Hey!" When he turned around, Ashaya gave him a prim look. "You weren't paying attention."
"I just don't get it - why the hell would anyone choose to remain an emotionless robot?" He lobbed the pillow back to her.
Grabbing it, she hugged it to her stomach. "Because there are some Psy gifts so dangerous that even we fear them on the deepest, most primal level. Silence is sometimes the only thing holding these powerful Psy back from the edge of the abyss."
Dorian folded his arms and leaned his shoulder against the wall next to the window, from where he could continue to keep watch while facing Ashaya. "No, Shaya, that's the one thing I won't accept. Silence spawned the f**king bastard who took my sister's life. I want it destroyed." Fury uncurled deep inside him, threading through his veins with savage intensity.
"And what about the innocent people who'll lose their minds to the blinding fire of their gifts?" Getting up, she walked over to touch his arm. "You saw the end result of that kind of degradation in the violence of that murder-suicide."
A sheet of red rising at his back, a broken woman in an assassin's arms. "Not my problem." He cupped her cheek. "You're mine. You matter. Pack matters. Everyone else can take their chances."
Ashaya shook her head. "You don't mean that."
"I mean every word. I'll do everything I can to bring Silence down." Because as far as he was concerned, the madness, the evil, it all stemmed from the imposition of a protocol that had eliminated emotion from the Psy.
"No, Dorian." She tugged at his wrist, but he broke contact and turned back to the window. "It's the Council that's the true enemy. Once they're gone, once we have a leadership that cares - "
He snorted. "Psy who lead tend to be power hungry."
"Not all." Pushing into his space, Ashaya gripped his arm, feeling herself teetering on the edge of some crucial understanding. Then he shot her a hard look and she knew. "You're not this bitter, hateful man who refuses to see the truth. You're better than this."
This time his glance was filled with cold rage. "My sister was butchered, Shaya. Butchered. One of the Silenced tortured her, cut her, broke her. Then he brought her home and killed her in her safe place." His hands clenched so tight she was afraid he'd shatter his own bones. "Her skin was still warm when I reached her. I heard the echo of her scream as I ran up the stairwell and some nights, that scream haunts me until it's all I can hear."
She couldn't imagine the depth of his horror, but that nameless knowing inside her, a knowing attuned only to this leopard in human skin, comprehended that his grief could also turn into a kind of poison. The wonder of it was that it hadn't already.
His pack, she thought, recalling the look in Lucas Hunter's eyes that day on the CTX balcony. Dorian's packmates hadn't just looked out for him, they'd refused to allow him to drown under the crushing weight of his tormented anguish. "You were getting better," she said, shoulders tight with sudden realization. "Before I came into your life, you were getting past the loss."
"You're mine." A flat declaration that was no answer.
"It was me," she said, hand dropping off his arm. "I pushed you back into the poison of rage."
"Ashaya." A warning.
"No," she said, raising her voice to be heard above the roaring silence of his anger. "I'm Psy and you swore to destroy the Psy. This... connection we have, it's not something you were ready for, not something you're comfortable with - "
"I'm more than f**king comfortable with you." The words were bullets. "You don't get to walk away from this using some self-serving psychological bullshit."
"I don't want to walk away!" He was inside her, this cat. And his hurt pulsed in her own heart. "I just want you to face up to the truth."
He snarled at her, a sound that raised every hair on her body. "What the f**k do you want me to say, Shaya? That I never expected to fall for a Psy? That it kills a part of me that keeping you safe is now more important to me than destroying the Council? That the guilt of the pleasure you give me is a dead weight in my chest? Is that what you want?" A vicious question. "There, I've said it. But you know what?" He backed her to the window, closing his hand around the side of her neck. "It doesn't matter shit. The leopard recognizes you, knows you were meant to be mine."
"What about the man?" she asked, refusing to let him silence her with the sheer force of his anger. "What does the man think?"
"The man wishes this was easy." His finger rubbed at the ragged beat of her pulse. "He wishes you were changeling or human so he wouldn't have to question his need to hate the Psy, so he wouldn't have to look into his sister's accusing face every time he closes his eyes, so he damn well wouldn't have to feel a traitor to his own vows."
Pain, such pain tearing through her. "I'm sorry."
"No, Shaya, don't be sorry. Because even while the man is wishing that, he knows that he wouldn't trade you in for anything... even if that trade would bring his sister back from the grave." The incredible depth of his guilt was a shadow that turned the blue of his eyes to midnight. "I'll stand watch outside." He left her without another word.