A/N: As always, all Twilight characters belong to Stephanie Meyer, and the only thing I'm getting paid for this is the pleasure of being able to share my over-active imagination with all of you. Now on with the show…
'Why don't wolves eat lawyers? Professional courtesy!'
Jacob and I groaned in unison as the immature jerk standing next to us cackled with glee.
'That's sharks, dumbass, and if you don't knock it off with the cheesy wolf jokes I'm going to be forced to teach you the meaning of the phrase equal opportunity predator.'
I nipped at Seth's flank for good measure, but the insolent little snot just wagged his tail and danced out of the way.
'Hey man, gotta keep my wit together and my lines sharp for the laaaaaadies.'
Jake gave a disparaging snort.
'The only lady you're going to be impressing with that lame line is your mama, and that's only because she thinks you're so darn cute.'
'Man, you don't know jack about my mama.'
My ears perked up. Had he really just gone there? Man, the kid made it so easy it wasn't even fair.
'That's not what yo mama said last night.'
Two seconds later Jake's wolf slammed into me, sending both of us slipping and sliding across the wet morning grass.
'Shut the fuck up, Quil.'
Seth's laughter roared in my head as I sunk my teeth into Jake's ear, wincing when he dug his hind legs into my gut and sent me flying. That one actually hurt. Maybe I should have thought about the fact that I was talking about Sue Clearwater before I opened my fat mouth.
'Hey dude, don't disembowel me just because his old lady's living in sin with your old lady's old man. The kid walked right into it!'
Dead silence hung in the air as Jake's lips curled back, flashing fang as he slunk low to the ground. Shit. This was gonna be painful. I really needed to learn to think before I speak.
Don't get me wrong. I like Sue, and I was really glad things with Charlie were working out. I know Bella and Seth were a little creeped out by the fact that their parents were living together, but I thought it was cool. Hell, hadn't I hauled a half a ton of sh…ah, stuff…to her new house just yesterday? More importantly, like every other young Quileute lad that had ever hung out with Seth or given more than a passing thought to dating the lovely Leah back before she and Sam were joined at the hip, I feared Sue. A lot. Factor in the fact that Charlie had a gun, and the fact that Emmett Cullen (whose ass I was pretty sure I could kick but would undoubtedly deal out plenty of pain in the process) worked for Charlie, and I really should have known better. But hey, Seth had been getting too big for his britches lately. Somebody needed to knock the kid down a few pegs, and I was just the wolf to do it.
'I'm not saying I disagree with you-about Seth, that is, not Sue, I'm not that stupid-but Bella's gonna make my life a living hell if I let that slide.'
Man, alpha wolf or not, our fearless leader was so whipped. Then again, he'd been panting after Bella's heels since we were 16, so that wasn't exactly news.
'Hey, one of these days you'll get it man. That's if you can find a woman that'll have you after I'm done roughing up that pretty face of yours.'
He hiked his haunches up in the air, and I braced for impact. Completely focused on Jake, I didn't even hear Seth coming until he plowed into me, tearing his claws into my side, fangs sinking into the ruff of my neck and shaking playfully before he launched himself off my back and raced into the woods. Jake was howling with laughter when I stood up, shaking myself and grimacing at the blood-stained grass in disgust. Oh, it was so on.
I hadn't gone five steps when another voice plunged into my head, so thick with panic, pain and terror that it took me a minute to figure out what it was trying to say.
'Help me! Help me help me help me help me!'
Shit. That was Sam Jr. My eyes met Jacob's and we moved in perfect synchrony, tearing across the grass to where the little boy's cries had come from. Deep in the woods (man, that kid could book!) I knew Seth was doing the same thing.
Sam Jr., Sam and Emily's oldest son, was an anomaly even in the already oh-so-freaky world of vampires, magic, shapeshifters and things that go bump in the night. At 7 years old, less than half the age I was when I first went wolf, he could already phase back and forth at will. Jaz and Dr. Fang thought it was because of Sam's strong wolf genes and the fact that he'd been around the Cullens his entire life. (The hot blond was even his babysitter. Vampire or not, I was pretty sure I'd never gotten that lucky.) His parents were just glad he'd done it without the massive growth spurt the rest of us had had right before we phased. He still got to be a little boy, just one that tended to go furry when his mother decided he'd hit his daily quota of G.I. Joe.
Seth caught up with us about halfway to the cliffs at First Beach, the place where Sam Jr. had first been when he hollered for help. Nine times out of ten I hated the pack mind and the complete lack of privacy that went with it, but at moments like this I was grateful for it. We found Sam Jr. curled up at the edge of the cliffs where Bella had decided to go cliff diving years ago, back when she and Jake were still dancing around each other trying to get their shit straight, before she tossed him over for the leech (the first time). My nostrils cringed when I approached the small body, and it was all I could do to make myself keep walking. Sam Jr. smelled…bad. Really bad. Then I saw the bone gleaming through the blackened gash running across his ribs and my heart stopped. Sam Jr. had the same healing superpowers as the rest of us, something Sam and Emily had had reason to be grateful for more than once. The putrid stench, coupled with the fact that it was still laid wide open and wasn't showing any signs of healing, told me something was very, very wrong.
'Quil, go get Carlisle.'
Jake's voice was grim. The little boy was staring up at us, his eyes pleading for one of us to make it better. Without a word I wheeled around, plunging through the trees toward the giant house at the edge of the woods. With Sam Jr.'s screams still echoing in my head I ran like the hounds of hell were nipping at my heels, which, considering what I was, was pretty damn fast. In minutes I had crossed the reservation, breaking through the trees surrounding the border of La Push and diving into the clearing at Vampire Central.
Ducking behind a tree to phase, I pulled on my shorts on the fly as I crossed the lawn to the massive white house the Cullens had built when they'd first moved here a couple of years ago. The place twisted and turned ('meandered', Bella would have said), the glassed in walls to what Dr. Fang referred to as the 'family wings' running in a backwards "U" down either side of what I knew was a fenced in backyard, loaded with playground and climbing equipment for the pack puppies mother Esme and the blond vixen babysat on a regular basis. The front of the house doubled as the local clinic, and as I burst through the front doors I was glad to see the waiting room was empty.
"Quil! What's going on?"
Jazmine-excuse me, Dr. Briscoe-looked up in surprise from the paperwork she was filling out behind the front desk. Even with her crisp white lab coat and the stethoscope hanging around her neck, she didn't look like anyone's idea of a doctor. At 5 foot nothing, with a heavy spatter of freckles across her nose and the thick red curls she kept pulled back in a ponytail so the kids wouldn't get their hands tangled in it, she looked about 17 years old, not the 27 I knew her to be.
Her eyes widened at the urgency in my tone.
"He's out making a house call. Mrs. Newton's angina is acting up again, and he had to go convince her she wasn't having a heart attack. What happened?"
"It's Sam Jr., and it's bad. Really bad. Something laid him open all down the side, and it's not closing back up."
Jaz frowned, dropping the papers in her hand and reaching under the desk to pull up the giant leather bag with the wolf's head on it. I couldn't help but smirk every time I saw it. It was the med kit she and Dr. Fang kept packed for pack emergencies, because if we were coming to get them it meant something had happened that our own natural healing wouldn't touch. (That usually meant that a Band-Aid wasn't going to cut it.) Bag in hand, she bustled out from behind the counter.
If you had told me back when I first phased that I'd be playing taxi, much less that I'd enjoy it, I'd have told you that you were insane. But this wasn't the first time I'd had Jaz perched on my back, fingers twisting in my fur as we dodged the trees and bushes at what, to her, had to be a blinding speed, and I had to admit, it was kind of nice. Not that I'd ever admit that out loud. If anyone got any inkling that I actually enjoyed toting people around, the kids at the rez would have a bit in my mouth and a saddle on my back before I knew what hit me.
We'd barely come to a skidding stop at the top of the cliff when Jaz went sliding off my back, racing over to where Sam Jr. lay, his breathing labored, his eyes glazed with pain.
"He's in shock." Grimly, Jaz reached in her pack and pulled out a vial and hypodermic that I knew all too well. "Has anyone told Sam or Emily yet?"
Since none of us could answer her in wolf form (there were moments when I actually missed having the mind reading leech around) Jake jogged off into the trees, snapping up his jeans when he stepped back out a minute later.
"No, Sam's at that thing. I sent Seth to go get Emily and take her to your place." He nodded at Sam Jr. "You think a vampire did this?"
Slipping the hypodermic behind his shoulder and into his ribs, Jazmine frowned down at the little wolf.
"I honestly don't know. It doesn't look like vampires, but since most of the time you wolves can take a lickin' and keep on tickin' vampire venom makes the most sense. It's the only thing I know that can override your own natural immune system, which would explain why it hasn't started to heal yet."
Reaching back into her bag she pulled out a pair of gloves and a container of something that smelled even fouler than the stench rolling off Sam Jr. Unscrewing the lid, she started packing it into his wound.
"Ugh." Jake's head snapped back. "What the hell is that?"
"It's a Musa paradisiacal tincture, an herbal anti-venom I've been playing with for surface wounds like these. Hopefully it'll help speed up the healing process." She screwed the top back on and stood up, frowning. "I really don't like the way he's breathing. I need to get him back in human form and hooked up to some monitors, but I can't do that here. Can one of you carry him back?"
Jake looked over at me and I nodded. Without a word he picked up the little wolf cub and draped him across my back, then ducked back behind the trees. A second later his wolf came trotting back out to belly up to Jaz. I waited for her to hop on his back, then the four of us raced back through the woods to the clinic where we'd hopefully find the equipment we'd need to save Sam Jr.'s life.
Emily was waiting for us when we got there. Her hand clamped down on Seth's when Jake stepped through the doors, Sam Jr.'s unconscious human body stretched out in his arms. I hesitated, torn between avoiding the horror of the damage done to that tiny, mangled body and seeing if Jaz needed any help dealing with the wolf without Carlisle there. But Jake was with her, and as alpha he could do more to keep Sam Jr. under control than I could. I went over and sat down next to Emily.
"What happened?" Her voice was barely a whisper, and the fear in her eyes said she really didn't want to know. Unfortunately, I didn't have any answers for her.
"I don't know. We were on patrol early this morning and we heard him yelling. We found him at the top of the cliffs on First Beach."
Emily closed her eyes.
"Damn Sam straight to hell," she snarled. "He and Sam Jr. went up there yesterday. Sam told him he'd take him looking for treasure when he got home today. I guess he decided he didn't want to wait."
"How did he get up there in the first place?" I wasn't touching Sam's eternal damnation with a ten foot pole, but I knew Emily usually kept a tight leash on the boys when he wasn't home. Having kids that can outrun a Mac truck will do that to you.
"He snuck out this morning while I was making breakfast. I was outside looking for him when Seth showed up."
She nodded a weary head toward the back of the house.
"Esme heard him fussing when we got here. When I told her you were bringing Sam Jr. in, she said she'd keep him until we knew what was going on."
"That was…nice," I said awkwardly. Even after all this time I still wasn't used to thinking of the bloodsuckers as anything other than our mortal enemies. Complimenting one of them on her maternal instincts just felt….wrong.
Emily grew silent. I knew she was worried about Sam Jr., and I really, really wished Sam was here instead of representing the tribe at some conference in Seattle. You wanted a vampire dead, I was your guy. Your car's engine had a glitch, just pick up the phone. You need someone to soothe a worried mother whose seven year old had snuck out of the house and been ripped up by something we'd never seen before, and I was totally out of my depth.
Seth squeezed her hand and looked at me a little desperately. Fortunately, we were both saved from having to come up with something to say when Dr. Fang walked in the door. He frowned when he saw the three of us sitting in his waiting room.
"Jaz and Jake have Sam Jr.," I said, nodding my head down the hall. Without a word he strode toward the examining room, leaving the three of us sitting there to wait.
Time ticks by unbearably slowly when you're sitting in a doctor's waiting room watching bad tv. I was pretty sure the clock had actually started crawling backwards by the time Jaz and Dr. Fang appeared an hour later, Jacob standing behind them. Emily clutched my hand as she stood, and I realized she was about to cry. I didn't need her to ask the question that was coming. I could tell just by looking at their grim faces that it wasn't going to be good.
"Is he going to be okay?" she asked in a trembling voice.
Jaz walked over to her, eyes dripping with sympathy as she reached out and squeezed her hands.
"We don't know, Em. We just don't know."