She actually squeaked in surprise as he lifted her up, looping her arms about his neck as the door clicked shut in their wake. "Well, this is nice."
"You really don't have to go to such extremes to get me to spoil you, you know," he told her, that smirk still on his face. "Where to? Bathroom? Bedroom?" he guessed the two most likely destinations. They both needed to get cleaned up, and they both needed to rest. Nothing much more than that was likely to happen tonight, until she was on the mend.
"Bathroom, I guess." She sighed. "I'm a mess. And I got you into a bit of a state, too, didn't I?" She rested her head on his shoulder, comfortable to be cradled and carried about after the last few hours.
"I just need a shower and I'll be as good as new," he assured her. As far as he knew, he'd suffered no injuries; if he had, he thought he'd have noticed by now. He smiled as she rested her head against his shoulder, captivated by the simple demonstration of trust and affection.
"I'm not sure I'm gonna be able to stand long enough to shower," she admitted reluctantly. "I think it's a sponge bath night for me."
"What about a bath?" he suggested, seemingly willing to help, whether she settled on a shower, bath, or something in between.
"God, a bath would be heavenly. But you shouldn't have to worry about getting me in and out safely, you know." She lifted her head, looking at him fondly. "It's been a long day for both of us."
"You know," he said, as he started in the direction of the stairs. "I may not be a wolf, but I am a full-grown adult, and this ain't my first rodeo," he teased as he started up the stairs, looking like his burden was no burden at all.
"All right, all right," she conceded with a smile. "But it wasn't about you being human. It was kind of about your girlfriend not wanting to tire you out having to look after her just because she can't stand on one leg tonight."
He couldn't help chuckling again to hear her describe herself that way. "Is that what you are?" he asked, corners of his eyes crinkling with amusement. He really did make carrying her up the stairs look effortless, but then he was in pretty good shape, or so he thought.
"Only if you want me to be." The ball was in his court. She had been as open about her own hopes as she dared to be so far; the next step was entirely in his hands.
"We're not in high school, Maris. Why do we need to put a label on it?" he asked. Though he wasn't opposed to being together, he thought they were both a little too mature to refer to themselves in such terms as boy or girlfriend. The truth was they were lovers, but no one introduced their significant other that way. "Are you worried what your family might think of me?" he asked, as he very carefully set her on her feet, just outside the bathroom.
"Oh god, no." The sheer vehemence of her response should have been enough to reassure him there. "I have three cousins-in-law who are human, and a couple of the little ones aren't lycan. They're still a part of the pack, and a part of the family. My mom will love you."
"Are they all connected to Avalon?" he asked curiously, circling back to the part of her life he found most puzzling. "Do you need help getting undressed? I want to get the bath running," he added.
"I can get started undressing myself," she assured him gently, easing herself over to the dresser to pull out a clean t-shirt and shorts to wear afterward. "Our pack bloodline is connected to Avalon, but we can go generations without ever being called into service by the Lady. Only the Alpha ever visits Avalon, and usually it's only to confirm that they are the new Alpha."
"So, you've never been there," he said, though he'd assumed that from what she'd already told him. He disappeared momentarily into the bathroom to get the bath going and grab a few towels from the cupboard, the sound of running water telling her he was filling the tub.
"No, I haven't." She paused, contorting herself to pull her ruined shirt off without making a sound, despite the internalized screaming coming from muscles that really just wanted her to stop moving while they healed up. "I've made contact, but never been there."
If he'd known the pain undressing was going to cause her, he might have volunteered to help, but he had asked. "So, you'll go in the morning?" he asked, though she'd already told him that. "I have to admit, I'm curious." Satisfied that the bathwater was about the right temperature, he turned to watch her undress, ready to help if he was needed.
She couldn't hide the wince as she set her shirt aside, hands dipping to undo her jeans as she leaned a hip against the wall. "I was going to ask if you would like to come with me," she offered, grimacing at the start of her bend.
"Am I allowed to come with you?" he countered, pushing off his lean against the wall to go to her aid. "Here, let me," he told her, stepping in front of her so that he could help her ease her jeans down her hips and off her legs. It didn't help that they were bloody and sticking to her skin, but he was careful to try not to hurt her anymore than she was already hurt.
"Thanks." At least she wasn't so proud she wouldn't accept help when she needed it. Bracing herself against the wall so he could navigate her jeans off her legs was hard enough without bending to do it all herself. "I'm gonna ask permission to bring you with me," she told him through gritted teeth. "Rhys will have told the Lady I asked for you to be brought into the secret by morning."
"So, what happens if we break up?" he asked. Though he was hopeful that wouldn't happen, they hadn't know each other long and he had no idea what the future might hold for either of them. "Do you stick a neuralyzer in my face and wipe my memory?" he asked, with half a smirk. It was obviously a reference to Men in Black, but he was trying to make a point.
She snorted softly in amusement. "Believe it or not, once you're in on the secret, you're in," she told him. "There aren't that many people who know about Avalon. We keep the number small to keep the secret, but if you know about Avalon, it's kind of expected that you'll do what Avalon asks you to do."
Dev set her jeans aside, either for washing or discarding later, and gave her a curious look. "So, what does that mean exactly?" he asked, meeting her gaze, though he was well aware of her half-nude state.
"Most of the time, it means you're just aware of the secret," she explained, leaning back against the wall, her face pale. "Avalon might ask you to find some information for them, or change a record for one of their agents on Earth. Nothing that's morally wrong, just occasionally illegal."
"Okay, that's enough talking for one day," he told her, sliding an arm around her waist to help her to the bathroom. He'd noticed the way all the color had gone out of her face, and knew she needed to get off her feet. Taking a bath might not be easy, but it would be worth it, and then she could rest.
"What, my vocal chords are on bed rest?" she teased, limping into the bathroom with his help. Now her legs were bare, it was easy to see the swelling and bruising that would take a few days to go down. Her knee had been well and truly destroyed in the rogue Alpha's jaws, but Lailah's intervention had mercifully set the bones back into their rightful places.
More importantly, she was damned lucky to be alive. He'd have to thank Rhys later; without the hunter's help, he might have lost her, and that was not something he wanted to think about right now.
"I'd rather not have to call 9-1-1," he replied, as he helped her into the bathroom. "Steady a moment," he said, placing her hands on his shoulders so that he could remove the last piece of clothing before helping her into the tub.
"You won't have to call 9-1-1," she assured him, though that was mainly because she wouldn't let him call an ambulance. Her fingers gently stroked against the nape of his neck as he drew the last of her clothing down her legs, letting out a low sigh as he helped her into the warm water. "Oh gods, that's almost as good as an orgasm."
He chuckled at her comparison. "I hope I can do better than that," he murmured with a smirk as he reached to turn off the water before the tub overflowed. "Don't go anywhere. I'll be right back," he promised, touching a kiss to her cheek before rising to his full height and turning to leave the room, if only momentarily.
She chuckled, tilting her head into his kiss before he straightened up, letting her head fall back as she soaked in the heat of the water. It wouldn't do a lot for the swelling in her leg, but good god, it felt good to her muscles.
"How long does it usually take for you to heal?" he called from the bedroom. A thump told her he'd just removed his boots, followed by the jangle of his belt, and another soft thud as he pulled off his guns and left them on the nightstand. He hung his jacket on a chair and pulled off his shirt, leaving himself only in t-shirt and jeans.
"Couple of days," she answered, tilting her face toward the door. "Like the bite. That was gone by the next day, pretty much. This is going to take a little longer, but I'll be back to normal in just a few days."
"Can they do anything for you in Avalon?" he asked, unsure if there were healers there who could help with her wounds, though he thought there was probably no better healing power than that of an angel.
"They might. There's power there that doesn't come from Heaven or Hell." She smiled as she spoke, closing her eyes for a long moment. "Won't know unless we ask, I guess."