Is. I sat up a little too quickly, but quickly regained my balance. "Where are my shoes?"
"Lydia, sit down. You have to stay here and rest. Remember how cozy you just said you were? I'm going to take care of this. I just wanted to let you know what was going on… you know, just in case…"
I glared at him. "You and Warren, you're always acting like I'm so fragile! You won't be able to stop them, not all of them on your own. Think about this for a second. They are on their way to completely shatter the values that you have all spent centuries upholding. All of the good that you can still do will be wiped out in an instant, before it even gets a chance to happen. They won't listen to you. They've crossed that line."
Chris gave me an agonized look. "What would you have me do?"
"Take me to them. I know that I can at least stop Warren. He cares more for me than he does revenge, and if that pale, sick girl I'm seeing in the mirror is really me, one glance will snap him out of this. And then you two together can try and talk everyone else back into their senses."
"There has to be another way." He made a violent gesture of denial.
"Clock's ticking, Chris. Maybe there is, but we haven't the time to find one. Let me help. If he does this, it'll cause me a lot more pain than a little walking will." Chris said nothing else for a long time, but finally moved across the room to a small pile of clothing, topped with my shoes.
"I'll be in the hallway. If we're going to do this, it's got to be quick."
A little sneaking around corners got us out of the hospital without attracting the attention of the nurses. Chris brought up the car and didn't even wait for me to click in my seat belt before he sped off.
"How far? How much time have we got?"
"It's usually a twenty-minute drive if you're not afraid of speeding. I'd say we have about fifteen."
I watched trees blur past my window, trying very hard not to think about what was happening.
The last time that the tribe had gone out for revenge, the ones who weren't killed in the attack died anyway, the very same day. It was not in their nature to punish, only to save. Going against that defied their very reason for existence. I had been left, that lifetime, to live out my last nineteen years alone. If Warren did that to me again, I would make absolutely certain that he regretted it, the next time around.
Chris skidded to a stop right next to Warren's car. I threw myself outside before the car was even put into park and raced off in the direction of the nearest trees. It seemed appropriate that this take place in a wooded area.
My legs were unsteady, but I managed to hold steady. Chris was right next to me as we darted around trees, leaped over brooks, and pummeled our way through the brush. Chris, I knew, could follow the scent of his friends. I glanced over at him occasionally, but his expression never shifted from a fierce expression of determination. It was far better than the hopelessness that was threatening to overcome me. I pushed myself faster.
We reached a clearing where Warren, Hans, and the others had stopped to plan their attack. I heard them before I saw them, divvying up opponents and discussing their various weaknesses and strengths.
I crashed through the last layer of trees that separated us, making an impressive amount of noise as I did so. All eyes turned to me.
"Lydia," Warren choked out. He immediately was at my side, checking my forehead for too much heat and putting an arm around my waist for support.
"You're all morons," I told them. "And I can't say I fancied leaving my hospital bed to come out here and save your bums."
"We know what we're doing," Warren said grimly.
"Where is Penelope?" Chris asked.
"She didn't come," put in Hans. If I had to guess, I'd say that he probably was the reason for that. Quite possibly, she had no idea that they were even out here.
"At least someone had the sense to stay away," Chris said. "Don't do this. Do you think that it's what Dalton would want? He could be as hot-headed as the rest of you, but he at least learned, back in Greece, not to cross this line. I thought the rest of you did, too."
I let my knees give out, half because I genuinely was starting to lose feeling in my legs and half because I knew that the best way to cap off Chris' speech was to make Warren insist on a sudden pull-out. Otherwise their stupid manly pride would kick in and keep them bent on self-destruction.
"Lydia shouldn't be out here looking after us. Look at how much she's already been through. She needs rest and care," Hans observed. This was surprising. I almost straightened up with the shock of it before I caught myself.
"I'm taking her back," Warren said, heaving me up into his arms. "And unless you all want to be walking home, I'd suggest you follow."
He turned away without waiting for a response, and the others begrudgingly turned their backs on revenge, as well. There would be other opportunities, I knew, to take on this enemy. But they had to bring it upon themselves. When they did, then my boys would have their chance.
"Don't you dare scare me like that again," I said to him, pressing myself as close as I could manage. It was not until now that I felt the weight of the fear I had been carrying. I had come awfully close to losing him again. That would have been cruel.
"I could say the same to you… but I've decided not to. I'm sorry, Lyd. Sorry that you had to come up here like this." The last of the tension I had been holding melted out of me.
"When I'm back in the hospital, promise not to make me eat their food. It's all mushy."
He chuckled. "What would you prefer?"
"Pancakes. Heaps of them, with blueberries. You owe me blueberries." He dipped his head down to kiss my brow, then murmured assent.
In that moment, despite all that had happened, I felt absolutely content. Though I felt a little guilty about it, I didn't bother letter Warren know that I was already feeling loads better. I knew that I could have easily managed the walk back to the cars. But I needed- and probably he did to- this closeness. Just for a bit… well, that and the rest of forever.