December 23, 2019 | Posted in WooFPAK Heroes

The police arrive in a beat up ATV. There are two of them, and they introduce themselves as Officer Katrina and Officer Davies. Jag sticks around until he’s certain that there won’t be any issues between them and Sharon, or worse, between them and WooFDriver, and then he goes and all but throws himself down in a heap at the wheel of the Jumbo Jet.

“That was….something,” says Jag.

Princess settles down beside him, careful not to let their fur touch. Even with the ice, cold water the dogs had been given, Jag is still hot enough that it’s hard to stop panting.

Softly, Princess asks him, “did you guys get hurt?”

“No,” says Jag. “But I think Chase is mad at me. I told him…I said that we should leave, before we found the girl.”

Princess’s ears flick. There’s no judgment in her stare, though. “And he didn’t want too?”

“He didn’t,” says Jag. “And…he was right. She was stuck, and hurt. If WooFDriver hadn’t gotten her out of there, she could have died! It would have been selfish, if we had left before finding her. I was just…”

He trails off. Princess waits a moment, to see if he’s going to finish the sentence.

When it’s clear that Jag has no interest in carrying out the conversation past that point, Princess reaches out, nudging his shoulder very lightly with her dark, wet nose.

“You’re allowed to be scared,” says Princess. “There’s nothing wrong with that. We all get scared sometimes. And that was…that was intense. You all could have gotten hurt. You, Chase, WooFDriver…we were all really scared that none of you were going to come back out of there.”

Jag doesn’t say anything else.

He knows, logically, that it’s not his job to be the alpha. None of the other pack members are going to get upset with him if he can’t get something done, if he’s afraid of something. But Jag’s always felt a little bit like it was his responsibility to be the tough one – to stay on top of every issue, to make the hard choices, to be brave even when the others weren’t, even when they couldn’t be.

And wanting to leave a lost girl in the burning woods? That wasn’t brave.

That was the opposite of brave.

“I shouldn’t have suggested we leave,” says Jag, finally.

Princess looks at him with smart, blue eyes. She thinks it over, picking each word very, very carefully. Finally, she tells him, “maybe not. Maybe that wasn’t the right thing to do. But it was an understandable thing to do. And even if you wanted to leave – even if you suggested leaving as an option…the bottom line is that you didn’t. You stayed. You got her out of there. That girl is still alive because of you and Chase.”

“She’s alive because of Chase and WoofDriver,” counters Jag, with a huff.
Princess growls. “Chase says you’re the only reason that everyone isn’t still stuck in there.”

Jag’s head snaps up. “What?”

“He says that you got everyone out of the forest,” repeats Princess. There’s something about her voice that says don’t argue with me.

And – Jag doesn’t.

He just lays there, and stares at her. Then, slowly, he pushes to his paws. “I think…I think I need to go talk to Chase.”

Princess lets out an amused bark of laughter. “I think you need to go talk to Chase, too. That would probably be the smart thing, instead of just hiding away over here – ”

“I’m not hiding,” protests Jag. “I was resting! There’s a difference!”

” – and pouting over something that doesn’t need to be pouted about,” finishes Princess, as if she’d never been interrupted. Her tail thumps, just once. She says, “he’s over with Jim.”

“I can literally see them,” grumbles Jag but, really, he supposes that he deserves the jibe.

It’s time to fix things.

Even if it means admitting he was a little bit afraid.

 

Katelynn E Koontz – Author

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