I am so so so sorry about taking so long to write this, i've been struggeling with writers block and revision for exams in two weeks.
thanks to shewolf13 and donkeyface for reveiwing on the last chapter and to shewolf13for helping me so much with this chapter.
Before I can even draw a breath, the whole truck is rocked by something landing heavily on the bonnet. Panic seeps through my veins cold as ice. I look into the forever unseeing brown eyes covered by a fringe of dark hair on the body separated from me by only a thin piece of glass.
'Ash,' I whimper.
The soft burning that has been slowly spreading from the back of my neck to the rest of my skin for the past two days suddenly ignites, sending shots of pure agony through my body. Never has my body forced me to Change. I have always been so in control of my emotions, always in control of the wolf. I look at Ash's lifeless body again. My back arches painfully. No, a Change will make me too vulnerable, Clayton's out there. I need to stop, I command my body. Another wave of fear and pain washes over my body, so violent it makes me black out for a second. I keep my eyes squeezed shut, just willing the Change to reverse. The mutt killed him. He killed Ash and he killed Sophie. Tears sting behind my eyes as I let the pain of the Change overcome me. One last unbearable wave of agony crashes through my body, making my inhuman wail turn into a single howl of pain.
I look up and, without thinking, crash through the door window. Glass slices my skin; I don't feel anything as I race into the safety of the trees.
They killed Sophie.
A branch whips back into my eye, forcing me to close it and narrow the other one against the trees.
They killed Ash.
A sharp stone rips open my front paw; the coppery scent of blood fills my senses.
The Pack thinks I did it and wants me dead.
The soft thump of paws hitting the ground sounds a few meters behind me. The wolf pushes me to run faster.
'The mutt has to die,' growls my inner voice. 'Today.'
For possibly the first and last time I agree with it. No more. The Pack is ready to rip my throat out, at least six people are dead - two of which have been the only reasons for my keeping sane over the past two months - and my once near peaceful life has just been ruined in the past 2 hours. I shut off the human side of my brain and hunt. The wolf leaps in anticipation as it pictures mentally what it will do when it finds the mutt and imagines the taste of the warm blood that I will spill from the his sorry throat. Revenge can be a good thing.
As a human it had felt as though my heart had been shattered, like the glass I had crashed through only minutes earlier (had it really only been a few minutes? It feels like a lifetime ago), as a wolf I feel nothing but the blinding want, no, need to seek revenge on the mutt that caused the death of my Ash.
After weaving aimlessly through the trees for an amount of time, my now revenge filled brain can't seem to comprehend I smell a familiar scent on the breeze. A strange mixture of rotting vegetation and wet dog, the mutt. I push myself on, ignoring the growing ache of my underused muscles, after him. A flash of dark fur to my right, the sickening scent of him to my left. I growl in frustration. I can't keep up with him; it's as if he's in more than one place at once.
'Follow your nose,' advises my inner voice.
Unwillingly, I take its advice and follow the mutt's scent. Ahead of me I catch glimpses of a ghostly black shape running ungracefully through the thick trees. I push myself on faster, trying desperately to close the space between us so it's small enough for me to pounce and show him that I'm the wrong werewolf to cross. To make him hurt for hurting me so thoroughly. He veers left into a large cluster of bushes. I try to follow but am nearly trampled on by a rampaging deer. I leap out of the way, narrowly missing its antlers. Some part of my brain – the little part that is still somewhat human – tells me that something must have scared the deer and it wasn't the mutt. I ignore it and pick up the pace again.
The deer isn't the only scared animal in the forest, I realise after nearly colliding with a doe, a small family of racoons, a skunk and a coyote mother with her cub, all with the sweet stink of fear coming off them and their eyes rolling in madness and panic. I sniff the air after losing my prey for the third time. His scent, all but gone, is covered by the smell of burning wood. Thick, endless smoke pours into the sky, blocking out the sun. I turn and run. Every instinct is screaming at me to run, to get away from the danger surrounding me. To my left the orange glow of flames licks carelessly at the leaves. I change direction, determined to get as much space as possible between myself and the forest fire. A burning tree falls in my path forcing me to skid to a stop. What little human part of me that remained while I was chasing the mutt has disappeared, leaving me as vulnerable as the other hundreds upon hundreds of animals trapped here.
A familiar voice shouts in the distance. I ignore it and run. Every tree, every bush, every leaf is ablaze, surrounding me from all sides, trapping me. A lit branch whips the side of my body as I race past sending fierce shocks of pain rocketing through my body. I collapse to the floor, unwilling and unable to go on any further. Fear consumes me, a blackness slowly spreading through my exhausted body. Every instinct, every part of my brain, is screaming at me to continue to fight, to never give up. The wolf is going mad, trying to override the human's logic and irrational calmness. The witch is panicking as well, the inherited fear of fire that has been passed along from generation to generation flares nearly as strong as the animal fear of the wolf.
'Get up!' commands my inner voice.
What's the point? If I survive this then the Pack will only get me later. I would rather die here. I close my eyes and block out the world around me. Every breath drags through my sore throat, causing me to cough violently every few seconds. Time ticks by, I don't move. Once I would have fought with everything I have to just to live another day, yet in the end all it took to finish me off was a branch on fire. Is that really a better way to die? Or would being at the mercy of the Pack be nobler? Slowly, the human pushes past the wolf, letting me see logic.
I force my eyes open, the scene in front of me hasn't changed much. More smoke in the sky and the tree on the left wasn't in flames before. I try to get up but am forced down by the burn in my side. I twist round to see it. My red fur is wet with blood and nearly burnt to the skin in places, not good. Branches rustle quietly in front of me. I flatten myself to the ground, unable to smell what's coming over the smoke. A howl rings through the gentle crackle of the fire. No, please god no.
A white blonde wolf emerges from the bush, followed closely by a golden coloured one, both with piercing blue eyes so noticeably human that any hiker would know that they are no ordinary wolves. I growl defensively and try to get to my feet. Clayton growls back twice as loud and threatening. I shy away from him instinctively. I watch him as Elena slowly circles me. Just do it, just kill me. Why bother with all this? I can't run, I can't fight, so why not just get it over and done with? Warm breath stings my burn making me whimper softly. Without hesitating, Elena licks the wound as clean as she can with the limited amount of time before gently prodding me. Clayton stands to the side, watching me wearily while keeping a look out. I whimper in protest.
I can't get up, it hurts too much.
Elena nudges me again harder. You need to get up, now!
With much encouragement and help I finally get shakily to my feet. Clayton jerks his head to the side. This way. Elena and I follow behind him as we race through the trees, not daring to stop to catch our breath, all fearing the flames that would be upon us in seconds if we did. With each stride the flames seem to vanish further behind us and the air becomes easier to breath. My side, however, feels as though it is constantly on fire, being burnt over and over again each time I move, making my vision go in and out of focus. I grit me teeth and put my full attention on getting out of this hell. I'm so focused on getting out that I don't notice the rabbit hole until my paw has fallen into it, knocking me off balance and to the ground.
I lay still, my ankle now throbbing nearly as badly as my side, the tenderness having returned from twisting it earlier. I listen to the sounds of Clayton and Elena skidding to stops ahead of me and then racing back to me. Elena nudges me, telling me to get up. I try to move my legs but they don't respond. I shut my eyes, ready to let unconsciousness overcome me completely, when strong jaws grab the scruff of my neck and some how get me onto their back. I bury my nose into their fur, Clay. The rhythm of his muscles working together is soothing and familiar. The number of times he's given me piggy backs in both forms is unbelievable to anyone outside the Pack. Well, I guess they aren't really piggy backs as he normally just shoves me off him in less than two seconds. His breathing soon becomes uneven with the combined weight of my body and the struggle to keep running at full speed. The occasional sharp branch catches my side, but I barely notice as I let my brain wander closer to sleep.
I vaguely notice that we've stopped moving and are surrounded by people with familiar scents (all with the underlying scent of a werewolf) that my sluggish brain can't keep up with. Strong yet gentle hands pull me off Clay's back and set me gently on the floor. The buzz of voices quietens as that same someone prods gently at the burn, checking it for infection no doubt. I whimper slightly as he presses too hard on a certain spot and am met by soft, calm reassurances immediately. He presses a hand over my heart, going through every medical examination he knows as usual. I lean towards his touch without thinking. My protector, my carer… my father. He says something but I need to concentrate to understand his words. I don't bother. He repeats himself. I force myself to push past the fogs of near unconsciousness and concentrate on what he's saying.
'You need to Change,' he tells me patiently for the third time.
My first reaction is that I can't, not like this, not with all this pain already. Fear seeps through my veins. I try to control it. He's here, if anything goes wrong (which it won't of course) then he will know what to do and look after me. That's his job. I empty my mind and force myself to relax. For the second time that day I let myself suffer the full hell of a Change. I'm halfway through the Change when I realise that people are watching me, I try and make the Change reverse, only doubling the pain already coursing through my body. A strangled howl turns into a scream as the Change ends. I curl into a ball to protect myself from anymore pain. Tears run down my cheeks and into my open mouth, tasting of salt water. I cough and throw up; clearing my lungs from the smoke I had nearly forgotten about. A sharp needle pricks the skin of my forearm. Ice melts through my body and slows my brain until I turn numb and finally enter the bliss of sleep.
I'm flying. Flying through the trees of Stonehaven, the delicious smell of a young doe only a few short feet in front of me. Karl is waiting south somewhere with Noah and Reese while the rest of us hunt. Nick and I are running side by side, covering it's right flank, with Antonio and Clay chasing it from the left. Together the four of are chasing it towards Jeremy and Elena who will take it down. A Pack hunt. There won't be enough for all of us, but it doesn't matter, the forest here is full of rabbits and other tasty meals for me to hunt with Noah and Reese afterwards.
I look ahead as Jeremy jumps onto the back of the doe and with a well aimed slash at its throat kills it. The rest of us gather to wait our turns, apart from Antonio who boldly runs straight to the doe and digs in. Jeremy snarls at him. Soon the two of them are snarling and nipping each other companionably as they eat their share side by side. Elena and Clay move in as soon as they've moved away, eating most of what's left, Nick joins them after a few minutes, neither complains. Karl moves in as soon as the Beta couple have left. I yawn and settle down in the sun to wait for my chance to scavenge any scraps left over. As much as I like rabbit, a healthy deer is much more appetising. The last of the adults move away from the doe leaving it open for us, the Pack youths. Noah and Reese eye me wearily, waiting to see if I'm going to feed or not. Normally, hierarchy is by age but as I've been with the Pack longer and the Alpha's child I'm higher up then them. Noah takes a step forward. I stand up and trot over to what's left of the doe. I eat about half of what's left before leaving it for the boys. I'm not even a few paces away before they attack it and fight well naturedly over what's left. Boys.
Most of the Pack Elders are dozing in the sunlight, a tangled mess of coloured fur and limbs. Jeremy is the only one fully awake. I go over and place myself directly in his sight, blocking Noah and Reese. He sighs and looks at me. I ask him, using a mixture of grunts and head jerks, if I can go and hunt for my own meal. He nods his head awkwardly to give his permission. My face splits into a wolfy grin and I race off. I hear him chuckle behind me. Uncaring, I hunt for my meal.
After only running for a few minutes I'm joined by a dark coloured wolf, not much bigger than me, with brown eyes. I slow down so he can keep up with me but he surprises me by speeding up and heading into the thicker trees ahead. I follow eagerly, wanting to be near him, to feel the protection of his body near mine. I break through the last barrier of trees and stop dead.
In front of me is a scene I've seen many times. The Pack asleep together, bodies pressed against each other, the random paw twitching as the owner runs in their sleep. The black wolf I had followed here lies down and motions me to join him. Willingly, I pad over and press myself against him. I look at the wolves in the clearing one last time, my family.
I open my eyes and watch trees blur as they fly past the window. That's the second time I've dreamt of Ash as a wolf and as part of my family. My family. I look at the people inside the car. Clay's driving; Jeremy's in the passenger seat and my head is resting on Elena's lap. None of them have realised that I'm awake yet.
'Don't you even want to know where you're going?' demands my inner voice rudely.
I know exactly where I'm going, I tell it, letting my eyes drift closed again. I'm going back home.