When I got back to Dae’lin’s office and the fish bowl Sage was talking with Dae’lin in her office. I stood outside the open door half listening but mostly watching Sage gesture with his hands and speaking quickly.

Dae’lin waved for me to join them and Sage turned to who she was beckoning and his face light up with a smile. I grinned back at him. I reached for Sage’s waist and lightly hung my thumb on his back pocket. “What can I do for you Dae’lin?”

“Your friend…” She looked out my arm behind him and then turned to look up at me with a small blush on her cheeks. “He was just informing me he couldn’t make the changes we need.”

“What changes are those?” I asked. I had every intention of talking Sage into helping us frame Emerson for the hacking, but I had every intention of doing it with finesse and not bludgeoning him over the head like Dae’lin was prone to do with me.

“The human authorities need a fall guy, we have a dead man. We need the two linked together. I figured if you trust him enough to watch the dragon do a job, then he’s trust worthy enough to do that.” Dae’lin said.

“He is. But I’m sure you tactfully put it and just didn’t say here’s what you need to do?” I rolled my eyes.

I pulled on Sage’s pocket. “Let me talk to him.”

Sage laughed. “I am standing right here you know.”

I kissed his check. “I know. Come with me beautiful.” I winked at Dae’lin and took Sage out of her office and into a quieter hallway.

He was looking at me with an amused look, the sparkle in his eyes told me he was interested in what I had to say. I leaned against the wall with one shoulder and crossed my arms in front of me. I wanted to touch him, which meant that would be a bad thing right now. I needed to not persuade him with sex. This wasn’t about us.

He laughed and mimiced my pose. “Okay. Speak then.”

“Dae’lin told you what needed to happen?” I asked.

“Yeah. I can’t do it. I’ll get fired – then I’ll go to jail.” Sage said flatly.

“If I can work around that for you?”

“How are you going to do that?” Sage asked incredulously. “You don’t have that kinda clout here, what makes you think the US government is going to just let you do this?”

“Sage, love, we’ve been doing this for countless millennia – hiding in the shadows is what we do. I can get you authorized access to get into secure servers.”

“If you have that access why me? Why jeapordize my freedom?” He was getting angry.

“You like what you do?” I asked. “White hatting companies firewalls, finding the holes and then reporting it?”

Sage frowned. “It’s legal work.”

“Is that what you want?” I asked.

“You are asking me to break the law.” Sage said.

“I am. Human law.”

“I am Human.” Sage spat at me.

“So am I but I’m not too. Which is the same for you.” I said softly. “You were raised by wolves. You’re a technopath. You are of our world just by that alone, but Danny found you and he raised you as a wolf.”

“So?”

“The Clandestine Providence governs human law even though human’s don’t really know it. It is our job as gifted beings to protect the humans. What do you think would happen if the humans find out that a dragon who runs a gang is trying to make humanity fall? Or that the finest research facilities in New York City – the same ones who are searching for a cure for cancer – are run by supernatural creatures who feed on human blood. Il Cane is not just the vampires enforcer – she funds things for humans. The Night Life building is centered around vampires getting services needed to live a human life – but humans on the night shift benefit from it as well.”

I sighed. “I know I’m asking a lot of you. I’m asking you too choose a side. Join me, us, in protecting humanity or live in the ignorance that you were once part of.”

“You can’t make me forget any of this.” Sage said.

“No, I can’t. But I know someone who could. I know someone who could erase your life with Danny and Rosie and give you a normal human one. No wolves, just your path ability. I can’t take that from you. We can give you the life you want without any of this shit. It’s rare that we do this. But we can.”

Sage sank to the floor, “Why can’t I just stay this way and not work for your people.”

I sat down next to him. “I don’t think you could handle the ramifications of my life. I wouldn’t be able to stay in your life. I can’t protect you in your world. Erasing me from your life would probably save you a lot of heartache.”

“I don’t know about that. Forgetting you could be devastating.” Sage joked but it was laced with venom.

“I’m sorry. I should never have asked you to do this for me.” I stood up. “Thank you for the laptop. I’ll have someone else babysit.” I started to walk away feeling broken inside.

Sage called out, “Nox.” I stopped but I didn’t turn around. He sighed. “Would you give up everything to be with me? Would you pretend to be human for me?”

I took a deep breath and nodded. “I would. And I can. If it means you’ll stay with me forever.” I walked forward and turned the corner. I could feel the anxiety level rising from the question. I’d thought about so many times and the anxiety always made me cringe in fear. I wanted to get away from it away from the question and the answer. I needed some fresh air I couldn’t breathe.

I was almost to Dae’lin’s office when I felt Sage grab my arm. He turned me violently around. “You would give up all this for me? To be something you aren’t?”

I nodded. “I would. And I can. All I have to do is exile myself from the Venatori. I can’t come back. My children can’t come back without jumping through major hoops. I can forfeit everything I know and live a human existence. Others before me have done it.”

“What would you do?”

I shrugged. “I dunno. Go to college get a degree? I could be a cook or a fitness trainer. I don’t have any formal training in any of it but I could do what needed to be done if someone was there to help me start out.”

“You’ve thought about it before haven’t you?”

I smiled. “Every time Aaron throws my tray across the table, and every time someone thinks me bringing in the monsters is a wrong thing. So it’s a pretty weekly thing for me.”

Sage asked. “Would you do it for me?”

“Would you? Give up everything for me?” I smiled softly at him, “I’d give my life to make you happy Sage. So giving up my world is nothing.”

“Why would you do that? We hardly know each other?”

I took a deep breath. “Because I learned to trust my gut a long time ago. You brighten my day just by being near. You see me. Not the image I put out. You see around it. It doesn’t scare you. I need that. I need you. Leaving you is going to be hardest fucking thing I’ve ever done in my life.” I turned and walked away again.

Sage fell into step beside me and took my hand. “I’ll help you. It’s not illegal if you have access.”

I shook my head. “No, Sage. It’s alright. It’s selfish of me to want you to do this. I get it now. I’m not going to ask you to choose between me and that. I’d like you to babysit her. But that’s all. I won’t ask you to do something you don’t want to do if you don’t ask me to what we just talked about.”

Sage laughed and stopped. He pulled me in against his body with a smile. “That’s a deal.” He pressed his lips over mine and I sank into his embrace. I let out a little whimper and collapsed against him. He caught me and the kiss broke, “You okay?”

I could feel Dae’lin standing outside her door waiting for my answer. I nodded but I couldn’t say anything.

Dae’lin spoke softly, “Bring him in here. He just had a panic attack. He’ll be fine.”

The Last Phoenix (in order)