"We're going out!" Logan called, slamming the back door behind him. Nick was already tearing across the yard to the tree line. Jeremy sat on the kitchen stool watching the young wolves race to the woods. Antonio approached, handing Jeremy a steaming cup of tea.
"They act as if they've never seen forest before," he said taking an empty seat.
"Let them be Antonio, they're teenagers. Remember what we were like at their age?" Jeremy shook his head, smiling slightly as he took a sip from his glass.
"I do, that's what I'm worried about," Antonio said. He looked out the large glass window to see the last glimpse of the boys before they were consumed by forest shade. Nick lunged at Logan, trying to push him to the ground. Logan spun, locking Nick's arm behind him.
"You thought that was going to work on me?" Logan asked laughing.
"No, not really," Nick grunted as his arm was forced higher behind his back. "But who said I wanted it to?" He jumped as high as he could, twisting in the air so that he freed his arm and landed behind Logan. Before he had a chance react Nick got Logan in a chokehold.
"Alright!" Logan gasped, "you win, now let me go." Nick chuckled but released him. He stepped back, glancing at the way they had come. He then pulled his shirt over his head.
"You think we're far enough from the road?" Logan asked, pulling off his shirt as well. Nick shrugged,
"I don't see how we could get any farther away without risking the edge of the property." He slid off his jeans and threw them in a small pile. Just the thought of the change quickened his pulse. He could feel the excitement, the raw instinct building in his chest. He cleared his throat, groaning as he felt his back begin to bend. He braced against the trunk of a tree, slipping off his underwear. He glanced at Logan who was already on all fours, groaning in pain. A sudden sharp snap in his shoulders caused his knees to go weak. His skeleton reshaped itself, this was always the worse part. No matter how many changes he went through, there was always a part of him that wanted to flee from the pain.
In wolf form the woods seemed to open to a new world. He looked over at Logan, he growled playfully. He pounded on him, nipping at Logan's ears. Logan wined, and pushed Nick off of him. The two tumbled through the woods, playing like young pups. After a long rampage through the property grounds the two returned to their starting place. They began changing back, when they were human again, they fell back against the trees laughing. They were coated in dirt, and littered with scratches. Nick tipped his head back against the tree. Logan reached over and threw Nick's clothes at him, pulling on his own shirt and jeans. When they were both dressed they began the trek back to the house, they took the long way. Even though they were exhausted, Nick was hoping over fallen trees and on rocks. Logan looked on in amusement. They reached the part of the property with the small overhang. A drop of about 20 feet. In the winter, the boys would take turns jumping off into the deep snow. Logan turned in the direction of the house, Nick on the other hand stopped. He looked up at a large oak tree, with branches extending over the overhang.
"What are you doing?" Logan asked. He looked strangely at Nick's behavior.
"When I was little, there was a swing tied to that branch up there," Nick said, pointing to the tallest branch on the tree. "My dad would take me out here and push me as hard as he could. I can remember swinging over the drop, terrified." He walked up to the large tree, and tugged on a low branch. "But the rush was insane," he pulled himself into the low branch.
"Whoa! What are you doing?" Logan said walking over.
"What does it look like? Climbing a tree." Nick pulled himself higher and higher. He got about halfway to the branch that extended over the drop when Logan called up,
"Nick I don't think that's a good idea."
"Relax Logan, I use to climb this tree when I was ten," Nick said moving up still. Logan exhaled, looking up at his friend with concern. Nick reached the branch. He stood up on it, arms extended like a tightrope walker. A strong gust of wind ran through the trees. Nick's balance wavered, he dropped to his knees, hands braced on the branch.
"Nick come on, get down before you kill yourself," Logan called. Nick looked down at him and smirked, before standing up again and venturing further out on the branch. The sun was beginning to set in the distance, and the sky was lit in a million colors. The end of the branch started to dip under his weight.
"Nick it's not going to hold!" Logan yelled. Nick jumped back. He turned to walk back when his sneakers slipped on a rotted piece of bark. From the ground Logan saw it in slow motion, Nick losing his balance and tumbling off the branch. He flailed in the air, letting out a shout in surprise, before disappearing over the edge of the drop.
"Nick!" Logan screamed. He ran to the edge, Nick's body lay crumpled on the ground. "Oh God…" Logan muttered, he carefully slid down the drop off, using big rocks as stepping stones. He ran over to Nick. Kneeling beside him he could see blood seeping into the leaves under Nick's head.
"Come on! Wake up!" Logan said, putting a hand on Nick's chest. His eyes fluttered open, and then widened in panic. He grabbed Logan's arm, digging his nails in. He was desperately fighting for air, gasping, he was finally able to draw in a shallow breath. "There you go, just breath," Logan said, trying to assess the damage. He grimaced looking at the gash on the back of Nick's head. He turned it gently, blood coated his hands. "Awe man, that's pretty bad," he said worriedly.
"No," Nick said breathily. He rasped in pain, "my leg." He was taking sharp breaths, sweat coated his brow. Logan moved to look at his leg, blood was seeping through the deim. He carefully pulled up the pant leg, exposing purple, broken skin and white bone peaking through. Nick yelled, head tipping back. He gasped, writhing on the forest floor.
"I-I," Logan stuttered. " I have to get help." He stood, looking at the depleting daylight.
"No," Nick grabbed his leg. "Please," he whimpered, "don't leave."
"Nick I have to," Logan said exasperated. "You obviously you can't walk, and I can't get you back alone." Nick took a few unsteady breaths.
"Don't worry I'll be back as fast as I can," Logan said, and he took off in the direction of the house.
With his heart pounding Logan sprinted to the house, sweat dripped down his face. When he made it to the house doors the sun had disappeared behind the horizon. He yanked open the door, leaving a bloody handprint on the knob.
"Jeremy! Antonio!" He yelled, tearing through the house. He ran right into Jeremy, almost getting knocked over. At the sight of Logan gasping for air, and eyes full of urgency his heart skipped a beat.
"What's wrong?" He asked seriously.
"It's Nick, he's hurt," Logan gasped.
"where?" Logan led him to the drop off. They ran over to Nick who hadn't moved, but was laying unnaturally still. Jeremy kneeled next to the fallen boy, he placed a hand on Nick's shoulder. Nick's eyes remained closed, his breathing shallow. Jeremy turned his head, inspecting the wound which was still bleeding. "Nick I need you to open your eyes," he said gently, but firmly. Nick took in a deep breath, eyelids fluttered open.
"Jeremy," he mumbled, voice weak. He was shivering.
"Are you alright? What happened?" He asked looking at both boys.
"It's higher than it looks," Nick said quietly. Jeremy followed his vacant gaze up into the trees.
"Ok, we're going to get you back to the house," he said, motioning for Logan to come closer.
"Careful," Logan said, "his leg, it's really broken." Jeremy looked at the bloody leg.
"Logan I'm going to carry him, I need you to run ahead tell Antonio if he's back, that we are going to need hot water and extra bandages." Logan nodded and took off towards the house. Jeremy bent down and scooped Nick up. Nick yelled, crying out as is jarred his leg. He was rigid in Jeremy's arms, taking quick uneven breaths.
Back at the house Jeremy laid Nick gently on the table, he was wincing and shaking. "Logan get a towel, place it under his head," Jeremy said, getting a pair of scissors and moving to Nick's leg. He cut up the pant leg, exposing the badly broken leg. Logan was wiping blood and sweat off of Nick's forehead. He was shaking his head back and forth.
"Nick stay still," Jeremy commanded. Nick whined very uncharacteristically. Jeremy Looked up from his leg and forced Nick's eyes open. He saw they were very dilated, before Nick turned his face away groaning. "His head injury is worse than I thought," Jeremy muttered. He whipped the blood off of his leg to get a better look at the break. Nick screamed, arching off the table.
"Stop!" He yelled.
"Nick I need to set your leg," Jeremy began.
"No, no!" Nick was in hysterics, "where's my dad?" He demanded.
"Antonio was looking into a werewolf disappearance a town over. He will be back soon, but I need to…"
"Don't touch me! Get away from me!" Nick cried, eyes watering. It pained Jeremy to see him this way, so young, so vulnerable. He realized that no matter how mature he seemed, Nick was only seventeen, he was still just a child. Jeremy placed his hand comfortingly on Nick's shoulder.
"Shhhh it's alright," he looked up at Logan who seemed afraid. There was the sound of a car engine outside. "Logan that's Antonio, go get him, tell him what's happened, quickly," Jeremy said, still trying to quiet Nick.
"Nick!" Antonio said, rushing into the room. "Ah Nicki," he stroked his son's hair protectively.
"Dad," Nick gasped. He was squirming, growing ever restless.
"Antonio, I can't wait any longer if he wants to keep his leg I have to set it now," Jeremy said seriously.
Antonio nodded, "do it."
"Keep him still," Jeremy commanded, placing his hands on Nick's leg.
"Nicki you have to stay still for me ok?"
"No, please, no!" Nick growled, pushing off the table.
"I'm so sorry," Antonio whispered, he placed his hands firmly on his son, he held him down firmly. Nick sputtered, and groaned. Jeremy pushed the bone into place with an audible crack. Nick screamed until his throat bleed. His father still restraining him. He went limp on the table, breathing heavily, a single tear tracked down his face. His head was pounding along with his heart, every beat caused throbbing. Jeremy quickly wrapped his leg in a splint, being as gentle as he could.
"It's done, Nick? How you holding up?" Jeremy asked. Nick didn't respond, he didn't even look up, his eyes were locked on something in the distance. He took a shuttering breath, and tipped his head to the side. The towel was stiff with dried blood. The world seemed muffled and his vision blurred. Antonio looked at his son, broken and in pain. He placed his hand on him, soothing him until his eyes drifted closed. Nick's breathing steadied, and his body stopped quivering. For a moment at least he was at peace.