I didn't know what I was doing. Or rather, I didn't know why I was doing nothing.
Nothing but watching her, pacing, and waiting.
I had already established that my usual patience didn't hold up well when it came to Thea's health; or lack thereof. The wolf wouldn't let me sit still when she wasn't well, and it was even more frantic when I didn't know what was going; like now. It wanted to help, wanted to save her, wanted to run circles around her to keep her safe. Every instinct screamed at me to do something, anything, because she was currently half-dead in my arms.
The problem was, what I needed to do was wait.
To say I was conflicted was understatement. To help was to do nothing, and the wolf thought doing nothing wasn't helping. And, after just five minutes of holding her close as I leant against a tree, the wolf won over. I had had just enough time to lay her on the ground and back a few steps away, pulling of my clothes in a rush, before the animal burst through with an angry snarl. But even in wolf form I was far too restless, worry sending me into action, and so I found myself padding soft circles around her; trying, and failing, to shake off my unfulfillable need to move.
Because an hour later, I was still pacing. I was circling around and around her small body, stretched out on the ground, and I was still as edgy as ever. It didn't matter if I moved slowly around her, each step practiced and careful, or if I moved fast, not quite running as I tried to get it out of my system.
I just couldn't stop.
I had tried. Sometimes I would move up to her, gently nudging her and sniffing her, hoping it would distract me; it didn't. I had tried stretching out next to her, letting my fur brush against her as I curled my body around hers; I had hoped the closeness would calm me. But watching her, my muzzle on the ground as I stared, couldn't stop my restlessness; nothing could.
And so I paced, around and around, and thought.
Thought about the reason I was stuck doing nothing; because Sera had told me to.
Thea had breathed her name, almost inaudibly, before what little life I'd managed to coax out of her had fled in a rush. Still, it had been enough; enough for me to finally have some idea what to do. Thankfully, Sera had been easy to contact once I'd found the phone; and she seemed to know exactly what was going on. Though her initial reaction to finding out Thea was passed out in my arms had been of fear and surprise, she had been quick to suggest a solution; if only it had made a bit more sense.
I just didn't see how being outside Quileute territory was supposed to help. Why did it matter if we were here, or 20m to the right, and on Quileute soil? Still, Sera had been very specific; get her over the border. And I had done exactly that.
If only I knew why it had anything to do with Thea. I had asked Sera, who obviously knew something I didn't; only to be told that Thea should be the one to tell me. And I supposed she was right; I did want to hear it from Thea herself. But not knowing was hard. Not knowing was driving me round and round in circles, because I wanted to know why my imprint was passed out on the ground.
But until she woke up, I would have to wait.
I had just curled myself around her, settling down onto the ground so close to her that we were almost touching, when it happened; she moved.
My ears perked up and my body tensed as I watched her roll towards me with a soft sigh. I rumbled as the bare skin of her arms brushed against my fur; her skin was getting darker now, and the trembling was gone, making me breath out heavily in relief. I couldn't get too happy yet; her eyes were still closed, and she was just as cold and unconscious as ever. Still, it was a start; soon she would be better. She would be better and awake; and mine.
But for now, I would just enjoy her. Enjoy touching her, smelling her, watching her; because now that she was improving, I could finally do what I'd been trying to accomplish for the last hour; calm down.
Being calm was good. The wolf had finally stilled – somewhat – letting me phase back and sit with Thea in my lap instead of circling around her. Which was good – not just because I could watch her more carefully now, seeing the colour slowly return to her skin – but because her body leaning into my chest, her head fitting just below my chin as she curled into me, was far more satisfying than it should be.
And it only got better, because with a soft exhale, she finally spoke.
'Jake.' It was the quietest whisper, but the effect it had on me was far from small. My name. She was saying my name. And the way she said it; not just as the first thing on her mind, but with need; even though she was passed out in my arms, the wolf couldn't help but rumble with contentment. It just sounded so good coming off her lips; so good that for a moment, it didn't register that her speaking meant she was waking up. But she was moving now, her face turning into my collarbone as she breathed out; until she was suddenly inhaling with a gasp, her body jolting as her head flicked upwards and her eyes flew open.
For a moment, she just stared at me, her lips parted as she did so. I stared back, watching her closely; for a second, I had felt a sliver of panic through the imprint, and the tense set of her shoulders was worrying. But the small spark of fear was gone now, taken over by a far stronger sense of relief and recognition.
'Jake.' Another second of staring passed, her relief-filled voice rolling over me. And then, without warning, she was collapsing against me. She threw her arms around my shoulders as she crumpled, her face burying in the crook of my neck as she let out a whimper.
'Thank god you found me.' She mumbled breathlessly into my skin, relief making her voice thick as she melted against me. I couldn't help but smile softly as I tightened my arm around her waist, breathing in the smell of her hair as I enjoyed the moment; she was glad to see me. And god, it felt good to be wanted, needed; especially by her. But at the same time, I couldn't help but worry; because her relief was so strong, it made me wonder what exactly had happened that she felt that way.
I inhaled Jake's wonderful scent as I clutched at him, pressing my face into his shoulder as I soaked up his warmth, the heat fierce against my cold skin. I wondered if he knew the reason I was collapsed against him; not just because I wanted to – though I did – but because I didn't have the strength to do otherwise. I didn't know how I'd sat up so abruptly when I'd first woken, because at the moment I felt so drained and weak I could barely even lift my head to look at him; though I managed it, with Jake's help. His hand trailed up my cheek to slip through my hair as he looked at me carefully, his voice soft as he spoke.
'How do you feel?' The worry in his words matched his expression, mingling strangely with his touch of happiness in his face; he was happy to see me. And I; I was so, so happy to see him. Happy to see anything, to be alive to see at all; a thought that was equal parts relieving and saddening.
'Cold.' My voice was faint as I replied. 'Weak.' Jake's hand on my hip tensed, and I wondered if he meant it to. His slight smile was fading now, his gaze strengthening.
'I'm just glad you're awake.' He said, and I smiled softly, letting my eyes fall closed for a beat.
'Me too.' I breathed.
'Thea.' Jake's voice was sharp, making my eyes fly open. His eyes were dark with worry, and he shifted forward slightly so that we were closer. 'You're not going to faint on me, are you?'
I paused for a moment. '…No.' His eyebrows rose slightly.
'You don't sound sure.' I sighed quietly.
'I'm not going to pass out again…for now.' He didn't look at all reassured.
'But later?' His voice was soft and concerned, and I gave him a sad look.
'We need to talk about later. And… other things.' He gave me a pained look.
'Like me finding you half-dead on the floor?' I flinched slightly, and not just because I didn't like to remember the pain; but because the word 'half-dead' was far more accurate than he realised.
'I'm sorry.' I breathed. 'I swear I don't usually faint so much or so often–' He cut off my fast spoken words with a finger over my lips.
'You don't need to apologise.' He said quietly but strongly. 'I'm just worried for you.' I gave him a grateful smile, but my sad eyes probably ruined it. Because I was sad, so sad; and he would be to, once he heard what had to say. And I didn't want to make him sad; my very being balked at he thought. But I didn't really have a choice.
'Last night…' I started off quietly, by brow furrowing in concentration. Last night… well, I couldn't remember much. I had been so upset and off balance, all I could recall was fragments.
'I don't really remember what I told you.' I said. 'I wanted to tell you everything. I was going to, and I tried to, but–' Again he stopped me with finger.
'You don't need to explain that. I know you weren't all there. And I know you were upset.' His voice was hollow at the memory. 'But you told me a fair bit, and I thought by the end I knew most, if not all.' He continued quietly, but I shook my head.
'Not everything. I knew I'd forgotten something; I remember telling you I'd forgotten something.'
'I remember.' He cocked his head to the side slightly. 'And I'm guessing you know what it was now?' I gave him a sad look.
'Yes. I can't believe I didn't tell you, because I've never forgotten it before; I can't forget it.' If Jake hadn't been worried before, he would have been now; I could see the concern in his eyes growing by the second. I took a deep breath then, meeting his gaze.
'There's a reason I never come to La Push.' He stiffened.
'Yes. Because of him.' Jake practically snarled the word, but his anger faded fast when I shook my head.
'He's not the problem. There's something else.'
'The reason I couldn't get away from him, all those years ago, is because I'm not allowed on Quileute soil.' Jake looked confused, but stayed silent.
'You remember yesterday, when I tried to leave.' He frowned and shuddered, but nodded. 'Well, it was the same but opposite; I couldn't get back in. He did something – I don't know what – to make it physically impossible.'
'It was like… being stabbed in the stomach. Over and over again. I couldn't make it more than few metres. And the only way to make it stop was to cross back over the border. It was as if the land itself was against me; was poisonous to me.' Jake looked mildly horrified as he stared at me.
'But– But you're here now.' He whispered. I shook my head.
'Actually, I'm not.' I looked pointedly over to the invisible borderline, and Jake's gaze followed mine, hardening with realisation.
'That's why your sister told me to bring you here.' He breathed, sounding stunned. 'Because you were–' His voice cut off with a strangled sound, his expression looking tortured.
'But you've been in La Push for days.' He said quietly and somewhat desperately.
'Over the years, the effects have worn off somewhat. It can take days before they begin to sink in. But in the end, they always do. And unless I leave in time; well, then I won't make it out at all.'