"Laylah!" I heard my name called from miles off. I cut back a bark of protest as my father called again. I sniffed the air, catching their scent, and running off into the forest. My paws hit the concrete with a thump, as I landed on the back patio.
"Ah, Laylah finally. It's time for the pack to move," my mother said, walking out onto the patio with a towel and some of my clothes. I rolled my eyes as she held the towel in front of me as I Shifted. You see the thing is, my father was the alpha of the Crystal Ridge Pack and my mother was his Beta. We all had a bond to them, me especially since I was their daughter. We could feel each other at the edges of our mind and feel each other's emotions. We were werewolves. Not the kind that had no control over Shifting, but the kind that had complete control over it. Of course it was always harder to stay human on the night of the full moon, so my father would always gather us for a run.
Since he was the alpha we always had to listen to him. We had to submit to him, the animal part of us made it physically impossible for is to disobey. Now back to the part of where our pack had to move. We've been here for nearly 150 years even though I've only been here for little more than 18 years, I look like I'm 25 and werewolves don't usually age past 25.
I dressed behind the towel as I watched my father load the last of the boxes into the moving truck. "Hey dad!" I yelled, "Do you think I could meet you guys there? I mean, well, all the others are already there, setting up in the woods. So maybe I could run there?" I've always preferred my wolf form over my human one. Although I had super strength and was faster than any other member of our pack I still loved to shed my own skin and just let myself run through the forest.
He sighed, letting his head drop, "Alright Laylah, but make sure you're there in 3 days' time." I let out a squeak of happiness as I threw off my shirt and Shifted again. "Honey, you know I love you," my mom said, kneeling next to me as she dug her fingers into my thick tawny fur. I sniffed the air, breathing in the scent of coming rain. I turned to her, pressing my cheek to hers in an affectionate gesture. I rumbled deep in my throat, licking her face. She giggled as she threw her arms around me.
I wagged my tail as she unwrapped her arms from around me, letting my tongue loll out of my mouth, looking more like a dog than a wolf. She stood up, backing away, waving. I turned tail and ran off into the woods.
I crouched in the bushes, watching the buck graze. My ears twitched as I heard something nearby. I sniffed the air and as I caught the scent of humans, an explosion went off and I jumped out of the bushes as something burned in my hip. I yelped as I landed in the clearing where the buck had been just a moment before. I turned around and saw blood welling in my wound. I had been shot. By a human. I knew werewolves healed quickly but that didn't stop the pain from burning its way through my body. A growl ripped its way from my throat as an old man walked into the clearing. "Dammit," he said, "is this the wolf who attacked your brother?" He lifted his gun again, taking aim at me. A whine made its way out of me before I could stop it. I lifted my paw, taking a step toward him.
"Grandpa, stop!" I curled my lips, baring my teeth as a young boy about 10 years old crawled out from under a bush holding a gun. I pricked my ears, standing taller and stopping the snarl in its tracks. I cocked my head to the side as they exchanged words, "Grandpa, that's not it. Don't kill it. Please, Grandpa," my instincts told me to run, but I knew I wouldn't get far. I could hear more humans making their way through the forest.
"Justin! Justin! Dad! Where are you? I heard, gun shots!" a man in his mid-30's came crashing through the bushes into the clearing. He stopped mid stride, as his eyes rested on me. I could smell his fear as he saw the blood dripping from my injured hip. I lifted my head, sniffing the air. Their house wasn't far from here, and I could smell the faint metallic scent of blood.
A sudden pain shot through my head as I realized the pack was gnashing their teeth at the edge of my mind. They could feel my pain and distress and they wanted it to stop. But they were too far away to pinpoint my actual location. I could feel my father's anger through the bond, forcing a whimper out of me. My mother's worries made their way through my mind, stopping me from running.
I laid down, submitting to the pain and the man standing in front of me. I felt the wound beginning to mend itself, but without the removal of the bullet I would never fully heal. I whined, as the man came closer to me. "This isn't the same wolf. It looks like it but this one has darker fur around its muzzle, eyes, and ears. It's not the same." He shook his head as he kneeled in front of me, "This one doesn't seem aggressive. Just in pain." I gave a little bark, turned and looked at my hip. I could smell all kinds of other animals on him, along with disinfectant. I knew he was a veterinarian. "Justin, help me carry this animal, into the garage. And Dad please put the gun down." He reached for my scruff, tugging on the loose fur, as the boy, Justin, slid his arm under my uninjured hip lifting me with a grunt.
I laid my head on the man's shoulder, sending a silent message to the rest of my pack. It's alright. I'm alright. I could still feel their distress in my pain but it began to ebb away. I looked around, as the humans set me down on a bunch of blankets. My amber eyes rested on the young boy's. I stared and stared and he stared right back.
"Daddy," he said, glancing up at his father and tugging on the back of his shirt. "She hurts." He turned back to me, placing his hand on my head. I let my ears flatten against my head as I rested it on his lap. I whimpered as his father, poked around my already closing bullet wound. I shut my eyes as he stuck his tweezers into it and pulled out a large bullet. I gave a small bark as the wound closed, taking the pain with it.
"Dad," He said, "Go check on James while I get a bucket of warm water." Both the men left the room, leaving me alone with Justin. I raised my head, looking at him again. He began to pet my head in a soothing motion.
"I'm going to call you Tawny. Because your tawny," he smiled. I nuzzled his cheek, licking him. I liked this boy, he was…kind. He laughed as I nuzzled him, making me give a throaty laugh that didn't sound at all like a laugh.
The father walked into the room, carrying a bucket of water and a cloth. He eyed me suspiciously. I snorted, as if I'd hurt the boy, I thought. He walked behind me, and I followed his every move as he began to wash the dried blood from around my already healed wound.
"Justin," he whispered. I pricked my ears again, listening. "This is amazing; I've never seen anything like it. Come here and look." I sniffed as Justin stood, my head falling from his lap. "Look," he said, "The wound is gone. It's completely healed." I bared my teeth at him as he poked my hip, letting my irritation with him show.
"It's okay, Tawny," Justin said, coming back to me, petting my head.
"You named her?" his father asked, "You know, Justin, we can't keep her. She belongs in the wild where she was born."
"I know," Justin said, "But it's nice to name her. She needs a name we can call her by." I nuzzled him, letting him know I approved. "Dad? Can I take her to see James? Please?" he asked. The father sighed, but nodded his head. "Thanks! Come on Tawny I want you to meet my older brother. He got attacked by a wolf about a week ago, but he's finally starting to get better. Maybe you and he could be friends." Justin smiled, standing again. I got up, noticing that I was half his height, I sneezed.
My ears twitched as his father's whispering reached my ears. "That's a big wolf. I just hope that she doesn't scare James too much."
I walked up the stairs behind Justin. My paws scuffed and my claws scraped against the wood, making an odd little melody for what I smelled.
My instincts screamed at me. I wanted so badly to gnash my teeth at the idea of a lone wolf on old Crystal Ridge territory, but I couldn't in front of Justin. We walked down a narrow hallway, my instincts screaming at me to get away, and as Justin opened the door at the end of the hallway I was very surprised at what I found in there.