As it so happened, the way Liberty looked at me like some king of demon was the least of my problems. Once the fighting rage died away a little, I got really dizzy. I’d wrapped the lady’s off white linen curtains around me to cover my scales, but they rapidly stained dark red. Someone was losing a lot of blood. I should do something about that. I wondered vaguely what I’d done with my kit.
Liberty caught me as I staggered. She carried me out as the world went all swirly. I had a bad feeling I was going to see the inside of a hospital room again.
Bobcat tried to use Liberty’s distraction to limp quietly away.
She stuck a foot out and hooked his good ankle, tripping him onto his furry face. The cop cars caught up with us about then, pulling to sudden stops all around us. One cop pulled right up onto the lady’s lawn and jumped out.
“Hi, Flynn,” I waved with my non-scaly arm, the rest of me thoroughly covered, in increasingly blood-soaked curtains. Bobcat’s claws must have nicked a good sized vein somewhere in my belly. Or, he could have damaged my liver considering the location of the claw slashes. I’m not sure my internal organs are in the same place as a normal’s but that’s where a liver would normally be. “Can you call Jack for me? I think I need to go to the hospital.”
“Same thing happened last time I worked with you, supe girl,” Flynn commented.
“This time I got the bad guy, though.”
“Looks like he got you worse.”
“I need transport to the nearest hospital, right now,” Liberty said, all field commander again. “Special teams has the perpetrator in custody.” She nodded over where the supe squad SWAT guys had put a metal muzzle on Bobcat. Metal bowling ball looking things went over his hands. They put them on his feet, too, and loaded him on something that looked like a motorized wheelchair had a love child with a moving dolly. Yeah, Bobcat was bagged and tagged.
Liberty got in the back of Flynn’s squad car, still carrying me. She held me like a big baby, wrapped in red-soaked swaddling. Flynn ran the siren and the flashy lights and drove damn near as crazy as Jack. The siren sounded different, though. Police, fire, and ambulance sirens each have their own song.
“Dee, I need you to answer the question.” Liberty shook me a little.
I didn’t remember her asking me a question. “What question?”
“What are you, Dee?”
“I’m just me, okay?” The hurt I felt when Liberty saw me all scary-looking came back. I turned my head away so she wouldn’t see me trying not to cry. “No matter what I look like, I’m still me.”
“I know you are, Dee. I’m a Protector. I’ve worked with Platinum Princess, Stone Golem, and the Human Shark.”
“That guy is freaky-looking, with all those huge teeth.”
“He knows the genus and species of every butterfly and wildflower in Central Texas. His gardens are beautiful.” Liberty shook me a little again, like I’d started to doze off. Did I? Not sure. That ride is all a little fuzzy. “You’ve lost a lot of blood. I need to know if there’s anyone who might be able to donate for you.”
I chuckled a little. Some days it sucks to be an endangered species. I stopped because chuckling really hurt. My belly felt like it was stuck in the Human Shark’s mouth. My face itched, too. I touched my cheek and felt bone, though, so didn’t think scratching was a good move. “Maybe Vlad or Fafnir, but they’re the wrong clans. Knight would be my closest match, probably, but he’s gone, too.”
“White Knight could donate blood for you?” Liberty sounded surprised. “He’s like you?”
“We’re like 6th cousins or something, same species and clan in any case.”
“Dee, I’ve got one more question.”
“Shoot. I’m not going anywhere.” My whole body felt like it was made of lead. It was an amazing effort to wave one hand in a “whatever” kind of gesture.
“Did you kill White Knight?”
I blinked. That was a weird thing to ask. It woke me up a little. “Kill him? You have no idea how much trouble I went to to SAVE his sorry ass.” Some vague part of my mind realized that Liberty was using my woozy condition to pump me for information, but I couldn’t muster the energy to care.
“Is that what happened at Vlad Tchovsky’s house two months ago? You saved White Knight?”
“Vlad would have shishkabobbed him. Never go after Vlad with a sword. He’ll feed it to you.”
Liberty smiled. “I’ll keep that in mind.” She nodded to herself as if I’d confirmed her suspicions. “I was afraid Knight might go after Tchovsky after that confrontation on Mansfield Dam. Knight seemed to think it was his duty to kill him because Mr. Tchovsky called himself a dragon.”
I nodded. “Because he’s like me.”
Liberty blinked. “You’re a dragon! Of course. That explains a lot.” Then a tiny wrinkle appeared between her perfect golden eyebrows. “But you said Knight was …”
“Yeah. Knight’s a dragon, too. He just didn’t know it before. He does now, unless he’s a complete idiot, which I wouldn’t rule out.”
She looked thoughtful for a moment. “Knight’s alive, then.”
“Why did you think I killed him?” I wondered vaguely. I shivered under the curtains. “And why would you work with me if you thought that?” And why didn’t Flynn turn on the heat? It was freezing in that car. The siren kept going far away and coming back in some weird Doppler effect. He needed to get that looked at.
“Knight’s never taken more than a day or two off in the 40 years that the Protectors have existed. I asked Eye in the Sky to find him. Nothing. He’s completely off the grid. When I got the report about the disturbance at Tchovsky’s place the same night he ‘went on sabbatical’ I thought you and Tchovsky had probably killed him together.” she shrugged. “I worked with you because I wasn’t going to treat you like you were guilty until I had proof. And, I just didn’t think you were the kind of person to do something like that, unless Knight forced you to, in self-defense or to protect your friend.”
“Innocent until proven guilty.” Of course, Liberty would be the one person to live that to the letter. I huddled against her warmth. And she could deal with my weirdness. As friends go, she was okay.
Too bad she couldn’t pull several units of Silver or Green clan dragon blood out of thin air.
I fell asleep, knowing I wouldn’t wake up. Even Liberty couldn’t save me.