"You heard about Sienna?" Sam asked his wife as he sat down to breakfast next to his youngest son.
Emily nodded. "Josh mentioned it. Poor girl."
Sam picked at his bacon thoughtfully. "I hear she's getting some stick from the others."
"She is?" Emily said, appalled. "In what way?"
"Well," Sam swallowed his food before speaking. "One in particular. Sarah."
Emily looked aghast. "Paul and Rebecca's Sarah? But they're best friends!"
Sam shrugged. "Apparently Sarah thought she would be the first to…you know. Josh told me that Sienna was never really interested in it all, never really wanted it that much. Turns out Sarah did."
"Still, that girl needs all the support she can get right now," Emily sighed, turning back to the stove.
Sienna was the second child to go through the phase, after Josh had done a few weeks previously. Ever since her first transformation, Josh had been with her, helping and guiding her, which was more than could be said for her parents. Embry and Amber were currently going through a messy divorce, and the last thing they needed was their eldest child off running about as a wolf.
It had been Josh who had first noticed the signs – he was fairly close to Sienna and her family, and had been aware of her sudden change in temperament. Unlike Josh's increasingly frequent angry outbursts, Sienna had become more reclusive, more distant. She had shut herself up into her world and finally, when it all became too much to bear, she had snapped. Josh – in the Alpha position – had felt the change at once.
It had also been Josh who had alerted Sam to Sienna's outside troubles – the issues beyond her entry to the pack. Sam had always been very tolerant of the kids, understanding that they were all different and would react differently to the strain of living with the pack. However, he could not overlook Sarah's spiteful – and, frankly, irrational – behaviour. She was always the more outspoken of the twins, but she had a loyal heart. Sam sensed that there was something deeper to her anger.
Sam picked up his empty plate and added it to the pile beside the sink. He gave Emily a long kiss goodbye – causing Caleb to squirm and make retching gestures – ruffled his son's hair, and left the house.
Billy was waiting for him by his car, his wheelchair stationed on the edge of the road. He smiled as Sam walked over.
"Jake drop you off?" Sam asked, levering Billy into the car.
"Yes," Billy replied, as Sam hoisted the wheelchair into the back. "He was coming by here anyway – I though I'd save you the trip."
Sam climbed into the front seat, started the engine and pulled out into the road.
"First stop Embry?" he asked once they were driving.
Billy shook his head. "He can't. He's having some trouble with Amber, and he needs to sort the kids out."
Sam frowned, staring straight ahead. "Sienna's his kid too," he said gruffly.
Billy sighed. "Is she out with Josh?"
"Yes, we'll go there now." He took a right turn, heading towards the smaller roads which led towards the forest and away from the town. "She's taken this well, considering…considering everything."
The two men sat in amiable silence as they wound their way through the trees, eventually leaving the grey roads and turning onto narrow dirt paths, the car's large tyres sinking into the ground in the softer spots.
"We'll stop here," Sam said, edging the car off the track and cutting the engine. After extracting the wheelchair from the back of the car, he set it up and helped Billy into it. Billy grimaced at the muddy pathway ahead of him.
"You're forgetting who's pushing you," Sam smiled when he saw Billy's expression. They set off into deeper forest, Sam practically carrying Billy in the chair so that the wheels barely touched the ground.
When they reached the clearing, Sam had to adjust his eyes as the fog descended over them. Fuzzy shapes darted around them as he wheeled Billy to the centre. The shapes grew larger and more distinct as they got closer, eventually coming to a stop in front of the men.
Josh, the larger of the two, had fur as black as his father's had been. His large eyes were as dark as coal but not sinister. They had a friendly twinkle as he playfully nudged the other wolf with his nose. Sienna was much paler, a light beige in colour, with brown eyes. Despite being both shorter and thinner than Josh, you could not ignore the muscles rippling along her flank. They were both beautiful.
Billy let out a long, low whistle from his chair. Sam had forgotten that Billy had not yet seen Josh in this form, and remembered the moment when he first saw his son like this. He had to admit, it was breath-taking.
"Looking good, Josh," Billy said loudly, and the black creature grinned wolfishly.
"I'm guessing you guys are going to stay like this for the duration of this…this meeting," Billy deduced. Even in his fragile state, his voice had the air of the Elders. Sam knew that would never leave him, no matter how old or sick he got.
Both Josh and Sienna nodded, and Sam thought he saw Josh roll his eyes. It was going to take some getting used to, but he was glad that Josh had someone else to go through it with. Sam had voiced his concerns about Josh being alone to both Billy and Emily, but he seemed to be getting on well with Sienna.
After Billy's 'meeting' had ended, and he had been dropped home along with Sienna, Sam and Josh were alone in the car. Both he and Josh were big and muscular, and with Josh riding shotgun there was very little space for movement.
"So, how's it going with Sasha?" Sam asked, breaking the silence they had been in ever since Sienna had gotten out.
"Good," Josh nodded.
"Are we going to meet her?"
Josh smiled. "We'll see." Sam had thought that was the end of the conversation before Josh spoke again. "I think you've met her before. She lives on River Drive. They own the restaurant."
Sam frowned, trying to remember. "The Crawfords?"
"Yeah. Sasha's the eldest of their kids."
"I think I remember. She's a pretty girl."
Josh grinned. "I think so."
They pulled up outside of the house and Josh jumped out. Sam felt the car rise slightly as Josh's weight left the seat and he tried to suppress his grin. Emily had the door open before either of them had reached the path. The warm yellow glow from inside the house illuminated the growing darkness of the evening, and Sam hurried to catch up with his son. Emily waited by the door, ruffling Josh's hair as he passed through. When Sam reached her he planted a kiss on her forehead. His lips brushed across her scars – their old routine.
Sam was interrupted by a thudding against his leg. Rather than it rebounding, the weight remained there, still. He looked down, and saw his youngest son's arms wrapped around his knee. Emily shook her head in amusement at Caleb, scooped him off Sam's leg and carried him towards the kitchen. Sam remained in the hallway, watching his wife and son walk away from him. As if she knew he was watching, Emily looked back over her shoulder and smiled enigmatically. There would be time later.