This is a ONE SHOT written for The Canon Tour contest.
I'd like to thank lovepath and abbyweyr for their excellent beta skills. You ladies rock!
It belongs to Stephenie Meyer, but she doesn't seem to care if we play a bit.
"Why don't we ever have anything we need in this house?" Leah yelled from the kitchen. She slammed a cabinet shut and something hit the wall.
Sue cringed as she folded a towel in the closet turned laundry room. She wasn't ready to face her daughter yet. She understood how much Leah hurt, but her outbursts bordered on ridiculous.
"What is it you need, Leah?" She might have felt a little more compassionate if Leah hadn't slept fourteen hours last night. Her habits were becoming as bad as Seth's.
"Food. I need food," Leah called, "and there's nothing good in here. Seth ate it all. What's with him, anyway? He's such a pig! The dork not only ate everything, he left his stinky socks all over the house, and peed all over the bathroom. Sometimes I wish he was never born!"
Something else hit the wall hard enough to make the window rattle in its frame.
"God, Mom! What is with this house!"
Sue took a deep breath and went out to help her daughter. Days like this made her want her twelve-hour nursing shifts back. The four hours at the tribal store not only paid too little, it didn't get her out of the house nearly long enough.
So long as the tribe's sons kept phasing, though, she needed to stay close to the rez—both for them and anyone who crossed their path. New wolves tended to hurt others and themselves no matter how careful they tried to be.
A scene of culinary mayhem met her the moment she walked into the kitchen. The entire, somewhat sparse, contents of the fridge cluttered the small kitchen table. The cupboards were all open with their contents spread across the counter, and several bags of frozen fish thawed in the sink.
"If you hadn't quit work we'd have more than this," Leah spat at Sue as she used a spatula to scrape out the last vestiges of peanut butter from its jar.
"You know why I stopped working at the hospital," Sue said between clenched teeth.
"Yeah, then why not go back? The Cullens are gone. It's not like the precious tribe needs you, and God knows Dad can't work more," Leah said, tossing an empty can of chickpeas into the trashcan hard enough to topple it.
"Don't speak of the tribe or your father like that. Not in my house," Sue said, her voice rising. She closed her eyes and took a calming breath.
Leah didn't understand because she didn't know. She couldn't know.
Still it hurt to hear her daughter talk of the tribe like that. It hurt not to tell Leah the truth. She'd always shared everything with Leah, but her heritage demanded silence, and Sue was forced to watch Leah suffer and grow bitter without being able to truly help her.
"Please clean up this mess when you're done eating," Sue said, softer this time. She put the mayo back into the fridge.
"I'm gonna need that," said Leah. She glared at her mother.
"On what?" Sue looked around.
"I'm thawing fish. I'll make a sandwich."
"You hate fish."
"Yeah, I do," spat Leah, "but I have to eat it since your son ate everything else. You keep food here for him, but you can't ever seem to keep some for me. I swear, I hate being stuck here!"
"Don't even lecture me, Mom. You and Dad wanted to move a hundred times, but we can't because our precious heritage won't let us. I swear to God, as soon as I graduate, I'm out of here and—"
"Enough, Leah." Sue's voice took on the intense quiet tone that meant she'd had enough. "We have good reason to do what we do."
"I don't see it that way. I don't see why every elder on this stupid rez dotes on the boys and tosses us girls away like we're nothing." Leah's shoulders shook with anger.
Sue pursed her lips and said nothing. Leah's pain was too raw to argue with.
"It's not bad enough that Sam chose her, but everyone, even you, seems happy about it. It's like the tribe thinks I'm not even good enough to take my side." Leah shoved the spatula full of peanut butter into her mouth.
Sue glanced at Leah, glad of the silence a mouthful of peanut butter would give her. Her daughter stared ahead, looking at nothing.
"I made breakfast this morning, Leah, but you never woke up, so your dad and Seth finished it off, that's all. I'll go shopping again tonight when your dad comes back with the Jeep." She tossed a partial package of crackers at Leah. She wasn't really being nice; she just hoped the dry crackers added to the peanut butter would keep Leah quiet a little longer.
Sue began unwrapping the trout thawing in the sink and pulled down a pan to fry it up for Leah. The rustle of plastic told her she had a moment or two more of blissful silence as her daughter downed the crackers.
She hated the distance between them, but for now, Sue had no idea how to fix things besides weathering the hormone storm at the moment.
Things would be better when Harry came home from work. He and Leah had grown close during the last year. Harry could calm Leah and make her laugh when no one else could, and Leah always brought a proud smile to her father's face, no matter how erratic she acted.
"When we were your age, your dad and I both had big dreams. We just found out that being a part of the tribe, of supporting our families and our people, was more important than those dreams."
"You caved in, you mean," said Leah, spraying cracker crumbs across the tiny kitchen. "You believed a bunch of useless, ancient crap that doesn't mean anything. I'd leave now if I had the money. I'd leave and never look back."
"It's not superstitious crap, and you need to stop talking like that," said Sue, her anger heating her words.
"Whatever. You and Dad can stay here like two losers, but I'm outta here." Leah grabbed angrily at a can of peaches and began opening it.
"How much you gonna eat today, anyway?" asked Sue. She flipped the trout, and added seasoning, watching incredulously as Leah began shoving peaches in her mouth. Surely her tall daughter wasn't going on another growth spurt. They really didn't have the money for another wardrobe for her.
"I'm hungry, Mom. Girls are allowed to be hungry, too. Or maybe in this tribe we aren't. Maybe we're supposed to be thin and pretty until we give up our dreams and have babies."
"Enough!" Sue slammed the spatula down on the stove and whirled on her daughter. "I know you're hurt. I get it, but you have no right to talk like that. If that's all you're going to do today, leave. Don't come back until you've learned to respect things that should be respected."
Leah glared at her mother, her eyes not leaving Sue's. It was an unheard of thing for a Quileute child to do. As Sue watched, Leah's cheeks grew red, and then almost purple.
"You have no idea how much I want to do just that," she finally said, her jaw twitching in her rage. She stood, grabbed the pan from Sue and dumped the fish on a piece of bread and strode out of the kitchen.
"You will clean up this mess, young lady!" Sue yelled after her. She grabbed the few items that would spoil and tossed them in the fridge with shaking hands.
Sue paused a moment, trying to come to terms with her daughter's outbursts. Leah was getting worse instead of better, and that worried Sue, but right now she was too angry to feel overly concerned.
Still, uncertainty and worry nagged at her. For weeks, she'd noticed changes in Leah, changes that she didn't understand, but that danced at the edge of a memory of some kind.
Right now, though, her daughter had just destroyed her kitchen and dissed everything important in their lives.
She strode to Leah's door and pounded twice. "Did you hear me?"
"Don't you have a pathetic job to get to?" Leah responded.
"Did. You. Hear. Me." It wasn't a question any more.
"Yes. God! Why can't you leave me alone?"
"Because you tore up my kitchen. Dinner's at six. Be home by then," Sue ordered. She glanced at the clock and realized she needed to leave. Harry had the car today, and she'd have to walk.
"Would you even care if I wasn't?" Sarcasm dripped from Leah's furious words.
"Leah, we care," Sue said, her anger evaporating. "Honey, we love you, but I can't allow you to act like this."
"What's gotten into you?" Sue said under her breath. She turned to leave, but before she did, she heard Leah let out a sob.
"I don't know," her daughter said in a shaking voice
Sue pulled her long hair back into a ponytail, grabbed her raincoat and headed out. She heard Leah wail in anger as she shut the door.
"Dad's gonna be really late tonight," Seth said when Sue walked in the door. His arms and legs sprawled lazily across the sofa as he watched television.
"I thought you were spending the day in town at Ryan's house," she said. "And where did you get those?" She pointed to the empty bag of cookies lying next to him.
"Ryan's puking," Seth said. "His mom gave these to me to bring home since the stomach flu is gong through their family. Sorry, I ate 'em all." He gave Sue a lopsided grin and she grinned back.
Seth had a rare soul. He could make anyone happy by just being himself.
"We need more food, by the way."
"Yeah, I know," Sue said. She held up the small bag of groceries. "I'll go to the grocery store tonight after dinner."
"Good, cause I'm starving. Again," Seth said.
A feeling of loss came over her. Even though Harry assured her it would be fine, watching her son show the signs of the change frightened her. The men were actually jealous of the boys, but being a good mother, she didn't like the idea of her son becoming a protector and fighting their sworn enemy.
"How sick is Ryan?" Sue asked, pulling two packages of spaghetti noodles and two sauces from the shopping bag. Between Leah and Seth, they'd eat all of it.
"Him and his sister are puking their guts out. Mrs. Walker didn't look so good either. She said half the school has it. Ryan's really mad because he had big plans for Spring Break."
"Being sick sucks," Sue said absently from her still messy kitchen. Leah hadn't even tried to clean it up. Anger and guilt fought within her. Right now, anger was winning. The final words between them hung in the air around Sue, but she couldn't take them back now. When Leah returned she'd talk with her.
Or get into another yelling match. Whichever.
Sue sighed and pulled out a pot to start the noodles and a skillet to brown the beef.
"Dang, she ate everything!" Seth said behind her. He rummaged through the already decimated cupboards and heaved a frustrated sigh. He slammed the cupboard shut and marched out to the freezer on the back porch.
"Why is dad going to be late?" Sue called through the open back door.
"It took longer to outfit the Californians than he thought it would. Once he drops them off in the Olympics, he'll clean up and come home. Is fish the only stuff you put in here?" Seth's voice tinged with unusual anger.
"I'll go grocery shopping after dinner. I need the Jeep to do it, remember?" How many times would she need to explain that today?
"What are these?" Seth asked. Bringing in a white, hairy bag tinged with purple.
"The label says berries, but I think they're really old, so don—"
Seth ripped open the bag and popped a dried out berry covered in ice crystals into his mouth and chewed. He shrugged and grabbed a few more.
"That's sick," Sue said.
"It's all we got besides fish," Seth replied, purple dribble sliding down his chin.
Sue turned back to her cooking, but Seth poked his head into the kitchen one last time. "Oh, yeah. Leah's in her room, sick. I think she got what Ryan has, and if she ate all that, it's gonna be bad." He grinned mischievously at Sue and jumped back onto the couch.
Sue turned and looked at the trashcan Seth pointed to. It overflowed with cans and freezer bags.
"Oh, boy," Sue said and added a low whistle. Seth was right, if Leah had the stomach flu, tonight would be very bad indeed.
She finished dinner and separated the noodles into appropriate sized proportions, placing two servings—one huge and one large—into the microwave for her husband and Leah.
"Come eat!" She called to Seth. "It's just the spaghetti tonight, someone ate the green beans already. I'll check on your sister."
"If she's got what Ryan has, can I eat her spaghetti, too?"
Sue looked at the overflowing plate of pasta and then at her son's purple stained hands. "You're joking right?"
"Nope. I'm hungry."
"Don't touch anything until I talk to Leah," Sue said with a warning glance. She grabbed her canning pot and cup of water and headed down the hall to Leah's door. She wasn't looking forward to this.
Leah whined like a baby whenever she got sick, and with her already horrid mood swings, tonight promised to be awful.
Leah responded to her gentle knock with a low moan, so Sue pushed her way in.
The room smelled of pungent sweat.
"Seth said you feel sick," Sue said, wiping her hand across Leah's forehead. It came back hot and wet. "You definitely have a fever."
"I feel like I need to puke," Leah said without shifting out of her rigid fetal position.
"No kidding, Leah. You filled your stomach with a toxic mixture of food."
"I was hungry," she said into the pillow.
"Okay, well, I brought you a bucket and some water. I'll check on you a little later," Sue said, rubbing her daughter's knotted back.
"Don't touch me!" Leah hissed. "It hurts. And tell Seth to turn down the television. It hurts my head."
"Hey, can I have your dinner?" Seth yelled from the living room.
"I'll take that as a yes," he said. The television's sound dropped to a barely audible mumble.
"Here's the pot. I'll come check on you a little later. Half the town has this bug," Sue said, standing to go eat her own dinner.
"It doesn't feel like the flu, Mom. It hurts too bad," Leah's tone took on the tone of someone in pain.
Sue sighed and closed the door behind her. Her daughter could be the biggest drama queen.
Sue swiped the washcloth over the counter one last time. Leah's latest tantrum did force her to wash out the cabinets, something she rarely did, and now her kitchen smelled of pine and bleach. She leaned back against the cabinets and looked around. The kitchen still needed a good mop job but looked much cleaner than usual.
Her eyes lingered on the jumble of family pictures scattered in mismatched frames along the back wall. Their lives had once been simple and happy. Boring, yes, but normal. The oldest frame contained a faded snapshot of her fifteenth summer. She stood off to the side of the image of close friends looking over at the three boys who always made her laugh. She couldn't remember now which one she was watching, Harry, Billy or Charlie, not that it mattered any more. That was a carefree summer, filled with fun and the promise of new love. It was the last summer of her innocence, before she learned that the old legends weren't legends at all.
The hall toilet flushed, and the tub ran for a moment. Sue realized Leah must have finally lost the battle with her stomach.
"Whoa, you look terrible," Seth said from the sofa.
A loud pling and thud sounded, and Seth yipped in surprised pain and then made a disgusted noise.
"You puked in that thing!" he protested.
Sue rushed out to see her daughter standing over Seth like she was ready to hit him. On the ground, her canning pot rolled across the room.
"Knock it off," Sue said automatically.
Leah's crimson, enraged face turned to her mother.
"Did you hear him?" she screeched.
"I didn't say anything mean," Seth argued. "You do look awful, and you're acting psychotic!"
Leah's fist smashed into his stomach, and Sue shoved her daughter across the room.
"Leave him alone!" she yelled.
Leah stood and whirled on her mother, but she only took one step toward her mother before her knees buckled.
Sue reached her just as Leah began heaving. She grabbed the small wastebasket and shoved it under Leah's face.
"Ugh, that stinks," Seth said.
He was right. Leah heaved a bizarre mix of food into the small bucket as Sue grabbed the canning pot. By the time Leah finished, both were full to capacity.
Sue pulled back Leah's long hair, and felt her daughter's body burn beneath her hand.
"You have a fever," she said to Leah. "A bad one."
Leah's body shuddered.
"Seth, go get me a bucket of cold water for your sister. And I need a rag or towel."
"Mom, is she okay?"
"It's just the stomach flu. That's all," she said to him. "It will pass, but we need to bring her temperature down. Go get me the cold water, please Seth."
Seth quickly placed one of the cooking pots on the floor beside his now still sister.
"It's okay. I'll clean it off you," he said gently. He began wiping the cool water across Leah's neck and then around her face. "Mom, she's so hot it hurts my hands."
Leah's body convulsed, and she retched up bile and foam onto the worn carpet of their living room.
"You fed me bad food," Leah yelled through heavy breaths. She lurched away from her mother and brother, stopping at the wall to lean back and glare at them.
"This is your fault. If Seth hadn't eaten everything, and you bought enough food for us, I wouldn't be sick."
"I didn't do this," Seth said. He looked at his mother for support.
"The stomach bug is going around town, Leah. Half of Forks is sick with it. Nobody did this to you," Sue said, her voice quiet and her hands outstretched. Something in Leah's look warned her that her daughter was near a breaking point again.
"Let's get you back to bed, Leah," Sue said. She slowly walked over to where Leah slumped against the wall and reached down.
Leah raised a shaking hand and let her mother pull her to her feet. As she did, a strong tremor, almost a convulsion shook Leah.
Under her practiced hands, Sue felt her daughter's temperature rise another notch. Something in the back of Sue's mind shifted to panic mode. She felt her own skin grow damp, suddenly sweaty and cold at the same time.
She'd seen this before.
"It can't be," she whispered, shock making her voice weak. She looked at her daughter, searching for what she knew couldn't be found. Leah's body shook again, harder this time. Terror fought against practiced calm as the terrified mother fought with the trained nurse.
"Seth, call your father. Tell him to come home now." Her voice remained steady even as her body trembled.
"What's wrong with her, Mom?" Seth's voice held a note of hysteria in it.
"Just call your father. Quickly."
Leah's muscles began convulsing again, but she pulled herself from her mother's grip and staggered toward her room.
"Don't touch me!" The words came out as a feral growl. "Stop touching me! Just leave me a lone." She slammed her door hard enough to crack the doorframe.
"Wow!" Seth looked at his mother, his eyes wide. "Does she need a doctor? Mom, why are you crying?"
Sue tried to answer her son, but a sob chocked the words off.
"We can't take Leah into the hospital. Not yet," she finally managed to say.
"I can't let her go there yet. I need your father here. Just go call him."
Seth jumped up and ran for the phone.
Just sickness. Please just sickness, Sue said to herself as she took the pot of vomit to the small bathroom. This is what the town has. It has to be.
The toilet was already plugged up with the first of Leah's vomit, so Sue simply headed out the back door to throw it onto the bushes. As she did, her daughter screamed in rage from her bedroom, and something heavy thudded against the back wall.
Something twisted sickly in Sue's mind, something ancient and undeniable. She felt her own gut wrench in reaction.
"You can't do this to us," she spat through her teeth to the sky above. The wind whistled through the trees, bringing with it the smell of a bad storm. The breeze ruffled her long hair, brushing it against the clammy sweat on her face. "Not her. You can't have her! The legends say only the boys. Only the boys." Sue spoke to the wind and the sky and all who might hear her.
It was impossible, unheard of, but the small voice that nagged her thoughts for the last few weeks refused to be silenced.
"She's my daughter," Sue pleaded. She threw the rancid contents into the bushes behind her home.
"He's coming," said Seth as she walked back in and began washing off the bucket.
She looked up at him. Her son's body showed the marks of manhood- shoulders broader, legs wider—but his face looked like a scared little boy as he watched his mother with wide eyes.
Sue knew she should call Sam and Billy. She knew it as instinctively as she knew to stay away from the bloodsuckers, but she couldn't.
Leah's sick, only sick.
Before Sue could clean the other puked in pot, Leah stormed out of her room and headed to the bathroom.
"Oh, God!" she moaned when she saw the overflowing toilet and headed to the kitchen. She didn't make it. Once again, vomit splattered all over the carpet.
Sue grabbed the kitchen trashcan and held it for Leah as she heaved again and shook violently.
Instinctively, Sue wrapped her arms around her daughter, cold fear knotting her gut. Sue held her daughter as tightly as she could, needing to feel Leah's skin against hers, just as when Leah was small.
Leah continued to tremble in her arms, her body so hot it made Sue's arms hurt.
"It's okay, baby, it'll be okay. I'm here, honey."
Leah pushed back against her mother, tripping over the other bucket of vomit.
"Stop touching me!" she roared. "You're hurting me!"
"I'm not hurting you, Leah. Calm down. Tell me what you're feeling," said Sue, her hands outstretched to her daughter.
"I will not calm down! You did this to me! You're always trying to stop me, always wanting me to fail!"
"Leah, calm down. Your father will be home soon, and everything will be okay.
"Nothing is okay, Mom. Nothing." Leah wiped her hand across her face. "You never listen to me, never understand. I hate this place and these people. I hate my life, and most of all I hate you."
Leah stood defiant, glaring at her mother despite her trembling.
In the silence, they all heard the Jeep's tires crunch and Seth ran out to meet his father.
"Seth said you're sick," Harry said as he strode into the house.
Sue felt her shoulders loosen in the presence of her husband. Harry was Sue's steady rock and the most learned of the elders. He would know what to do.
And Leah listened to Harry when no one else could reach her.
"I wouldn't be sick if mom had food here for me," Leah snapped. She wrapped her arms around herself, and shuddered.
"What are you talking about, Baby? You just got sick like all the people in town," Harry said. He walked over to Leah and with a large, weathered hand pulled Leah's wet hair from her face. "Didn't you give her anything for the fever?" he asked Sue.
"We don't have any more. She took it all for a headache she's had for like a week," said Seth. He stood by the front door, looking like he wanted to run away.
"There's a medical kit in the back of the Jeep. Go get it," Harry ordered his son.
"She's still vomiting, Harry," Sue said gently. "Maybe we should wait."
Harry looked around the house, his eyes widening as he took in the evidence of Leah's illness.
"How bad are you, Babygirl?"
"I just got sick from eating the damn food in this house. There's never enough food here and what Mom brings in, she gives to Seth."
"This isn't food poisoning," Sue said to her husband. She looked at him, willing him to understand her unspoken fear.
"You don't know what this is!" yelled Leah. "Stop saying you know what's wrong with me!"
"Leah, calm down," Harry begged his daughter. He reached out and pulled Leah into his arms. She fell against him like she was suddenly too exhausted to walk. "You're burning up. Maybe we should take her to the hospital," he said to Sue.
"Are you sure?" she asked. "What if this is more than a virus?"
"What do you think this is, Sue?" he asked, his eyes narrowing. Then, they became very wide. "She's just sick. She's a girl, Sue, and she's just sick. We'll take her to the hospital and let them help her. Let's get her to the car."
Sue walked forward to help Harry, but Leah backed away from her mother.
"Don't touch me!"
"Leah, we need to get you help. I know you're sc—"
"Just shut up, Mom! Stop talking to me like you know what's going on!"
"Leah, that's enough," Harry said firmly. He looked at Sue and then tightened his hold on his enraged, trembling daughter.
"What's going on, Leah? Why are you so angry at your mother?"
"Are you taking her side?" Leah shrieked. "She always take the boys side. No one cares about me. No one listens, especially not Mom, and now your taking her side?"
Sue nodded and stretched her sore legs to stand. Her mind whirled in a hundred directions at once, but she trusted Harry's judgment.
"Seth, help me with your sister," Harry said.
Seth stumbled over and took hold of Leah's arm. "Com'on barf-face, let's get you to the car."
"I said, don't touch me!"
At that moment, Leah lurched, and Seth cried out.
"What is that?" he asked, backing away from Leah.
Harry hung on to his daughter a look of sheer dread on his face.
Sue had seen it, too. Her child's bones had moved under her skin. Leah rolled her head back and screamed, and the scream grew into an agonized howl. Harry toppled over as Leah lurched again.
"What's going on?" Seth yelled. "Mom, Dad, what's happening?"
Sue rushed over, placed her hands under Harry's arm and pulled him up.
He still held Leah to his chest, refusing to let her go.
"It's okay, Princess, I've got you," he said into her ears, and then he lifted her into his arms and staggered toward the door.
Leah began to flail her arms and kick her legs. "Let me go!" she demanded. She kicked at him with a strength that again toppled the large man to his knees. "Let me go!"
"No!" Harry yelled back. He gripped his daughter with all his strength and held on tight.
"Harry. It's not the flu," Sue said. Grim determination took hold of her as her instincts forced her to accept the truth. "All three lines. She has the gene from all three lines. You have to let her go."
"Yes, it is." Harry's turned his furious face to his wife. "It can't happen to her. It won't happen to her. I won't allow it. Not to my baby."
Leah's body shook violently, and with a shove of her arms, she sent Harry hurtling against the television.
The force of Leah's attack knocked Sue back against the sofa and then onto her knees.
Leah crawled away from them, and then turned. She winced, as if the pain had grown too much. Then she turned her feral eyes on her parents. Recognition clouded her face for a moment, making it soften against the agony.
She held out a shaking hand to her father. "Daddy! Help me!"
Harry jerked forward, and came face to face with a mammoth white wolf.
Seth's screams became lost in the wolf's terrified howl.
The animal tried backing away from them, tail between her legs and her head shaking as if to get something off of her. She turned toward the door, but knocked against the sofa. As if it were an enemy, the white wolf attacked it, ripping apart the arm and back before stopping and shaking her head again.
"Leah, wait!" Harry called from the ground. "Stay, I can help you!"
The wolf continued to back up whining and looking around as if it were being cornered.
"Call Billy," commanded Harry.
Sue spun on her feet and reached for the phone. Seth grabbed her as she tried to go in.
"What's happening," Seth cried over and over. Tears rushed down from his eyes and dribbled onto his shirt.
Sue grabbed his hand and pulled him beside her.
"I'll explain in a minute, Seth," she said, as calmly as she could. Still holding her son, she picked up the phone and dialed Billy's number. Three times her shaking fingers hit the wrong buttons, and she finally stopped to take a deep breath before trying yet again.
The third time, she carefully tapped the numbers, and the phone rang. The simple, common sound washed Sue in familiarity and helped her focus.
"Don't leave me Baby. Don't leave me," Harry said. Sue's focus shifted to her husband. Something in his voice sounded very wrong.
Harry leaned heavily on the ruined television set, one arm supporting his weaving body and the other gripping at his shirt, just over his heart.
"Sam will know," Harry said from the door. "Sam can help her. She'll be fine."
Sue watched her pale husband crumple back onto his knees.
A heart-wrenching cry came from the shaking white wolf. Then, it burst through the front door and disappeared into the woods.
Sue didn't hear Billy's voice at first. She watched her husband collapse as if he were moving in slow motion.
"Dad!" Seth gasped. He flew to his father's side shaking Harry's motionless form.
"What's going on? Sue? Leah?" Billy's voice finally broke through to Sue.
"Harry's heart," she gasped into the phone. She felt out of breath, like she'd held it far too long.
"Sue, what happened?" Billy's voice took on the authority he so rarely showed.
"Leah phased and Harry saw it. His heart—I think he's had an attack. We need to get him to a hospital," she managed to say. The phone shook against her cheek.
"Where's Leah?" Billy asked after an eternal moment of silence.
"She ran off," Sue said. Her body shook with a sob, but she refused to let the panic clawing at her mind and throat to get to her. She couldn't.
"I'm coming." The phone went dead.
Sue became aware of her son's panicked sobs as he shook his father.
"Start CPR." She dialed Emily's number.
"What?" Seth looked at his mother with terrified eyes, shaking from fear.
"Seth, I need you. Start CPR. We need help, and I'm calling Sam."
"Call an ambulance," he screamed at her. "Why can't you call an ambulance?"
"Hello?" Emily's calm voice was something from a far off universe.
"I need Sam," Sue said. Another sob caught in her throat.
"He knows, Sue. I'm so sorry."
Sue slammed the phone down and raced to her husband's side.
She felt for a pulse, and the stillness of his body under her fingers made panic rise yet again. But she refused to give it purchase. Her husband and children needed her.
She gave Harry breaths and then began counting compressions, letting her actions and training steady her frayed nerves.
"Momma, what's happening?" Seth cried to her.
She looked up at him and froze mid-compression.
He'd backed up against the wall and looked wide-eyed between the decimated sofa and his fallen father.
But that isn't what made Sue's body rigid in unbelief.
Seth's body shook violently, and his skin seemed to ripple, as if something inside was trying to get out.
"Seth, no Seth," she tried to say, but her voice no longer worked and her chest constricted too tightly to let her take a deep enough breath.
She held up her hands to him and forced herself to speak. "Calm down, Seth. I can explain. It's okay, Little Man."
Seth grabbed his belly and doubled over as if he'd been punched.
"Seth, baby, no. Hang on, I'm coming," She stood to run over to her son, but strong hands caught her from behind.
"It's too late," Sam's strong voice said from behind.
"No!" she cried. "No!" She struggled to get out of his grip.
"Help Harry," Sam commanded. "I'll take care of Seth, and then I'll get Harry into the Jeep." Sam stepped over Harry's body and headed to Seth.
It should have registered that Sam stood naked before her, but it didn't.
"Dad!" Seth called in agony. "Dad, get up! Help me!"
Sue pressed down on Harry's chest rhythmically. She heard the change before she saw it. She couldn't see much of anything anymore because her eyes were strangely unfocused, as if something was in them.
When she looked again, Sam stood before a sandy colored wolf.
"Seth!" Sue's long wail sounded as wild and tortured as the wolf howls sounding outside her door.
"Don't stop," ordered Sam, his voice controlled as he pointed at Sue. He stood aside and motioned to the door with his head.
The small wolf shivered and dropped to the ground, as if it didn't want to go.
When Sue bent to give her husband breaths, she felt the wolf race past her.
Sue's shoulders rose and fell as she counted out the beats of her husband's heart, but they shook violently as she grappled with the insurmountable feeling of loss.
"Billy and Emily are here," Sam said quietly. "I'll put Harry in the back of the Jeep. You keep going."
Sue nodded, but couldn't follow his words. Her mind numbly counted and forced her sore shoulders to keep their patterned rhythm.
Sam disappeared for a moment and then returned.
"C-c-all ahead," Sue stammered between her ragged breaths. She could hear Sam talking but couldn't hear the words. All she knew was the endless counting as she forced life into Harry's dead heart.
"I called them. You have to stop, Sue," Sam said. His hand fell on her shoulder, and she sat back. For the briefest moment, she didn't know where she was. This place wasn't home. The sofa leaned against the wall, broken and shredded. Buckets of vomit spilled over the floor, making the home reek. Beyond the chaos around her, the kitchen gleamed in pristine cleanliness, as if no one lived here anymore.
"What happened?" she asked as Sam pulled her up from the floor.
"I don't know," he said. "I'll help your children, Sue, you help Harry." His impossibly strong arms almost carried her to the back of their Jeep where the center of her world lay lifeless.
"Get in," called Billy from the passenger's seat.
"But my children," she protested as she climbed along side Harry's cooling body. Her hands began to tilt his head without her understanding why.
"They aren't yours any more, Sue. They belong to the tribe, to the pack now." Sam shut the door, and instantly a massive black wolf stood where a man had been.
"Hang on, Sue," Emily called as she gunned the engine.
Sue turned and looked at the man she loved.
"Get up," she begged in a coarse whisper. "Please, Harry. Please. Get up and help me. I can't do this alone."
Then she automatically blew air into Harry's cold lips.
As she began pressing on his chest, Emily turned on the headlights and backed the truck away from the home.
In the woods, several sets of eyes reflected back at Sue. All but two looked worried, almost sad, and two sets reflected back abject fear.
And in that moment, it felt as if her soul split, leaving a hole in her chest so painful she screamed in agony and rage. The heritage she'd sworn to protect had wrenched all she loved from her.
Gasping for air that seemed suddenly too thin, she breathed again into the body below her and began counting her husband's heartbeats.