AN: Hi, everyone! So I'm breaking my rule with this one, starting it while I have another story in progress. I couldn't help it because this would not shut the hell up. Like, at all.

For those of you following my Twi25 drabbles, "Crazy, Beautiful Life", this story will be familiar to you. I wrote entry #11 and when I got done, I kept writing... However, for those of you who aren't, I'm encouraging you to hop over to that story and skip on ahead to #11. I definitely would like you all to read it before deciding to read this story.

Why? There will be a tragedy mixed into this story, right from the get-go, and I've been around long enough to know readers like warning when this happens. I want you guys to know what you're signing up for.

If you go read it (or already read it) and decide you want to jump on board for the whole story, AWESOME. I can't wait to share it with you. HOWEVER, I can almost guarantee you the first few chapters will rip your heart out, and then I'll stomp on it a couple times for good measure. Just being honest so you know what you're getting into. *grins*

BUT you also should know (especially if you follow my work) and hopefully take solace in the PROMISE that my goal is to not leave you bleeding for long. The beginning will likely hurt but it will progressively get better, slowly at first and completely in the end, and will hopefully leave YOU feeling better - and dare I say, happy and fulfilled - in the end.

This story will span about 18 months in the lives of the characters, so I'm doing something a little different than I normally do. This story will be more like a short series than a long, super descriptive multi-chapter story. It will be told in pivotal moments, more than anything. Chapter length ranges from as short as 700 words to as long as 3,500. There are 28 chapters in all, including a prologue and an epilogue. The story IS complete, so it's my hope to post a chapter each day (not including weekends because, let's face it, everyone disappears on the weekends) until it's completely up.

I will stop rambling now. With all that being said, I hope you guys enjoy this. This is my first attempt at Quil as the leading man, so now I can cross this off my fanfic bucket list. ;) *hugs*


Suggested Listening: "Afraid" by The Neighbourhood, "Wolves" by Down Like Silver

On your six, man! There's two of them!

Quil bore down, lowering his head until it was perfectly in line with the rest of his body, allowing his lithe, chocolate-brown frame to move faster.

Trying like hell to put some distance between him and the vampires literally snapping at his tail.

Paul, circle around. Quil, keep them on you. Embry, are you close?

Brushing over his own thoughts, Jacob's booming Alpha commands echoed in every corner of Quil's mind, overpowering the calculated actions from the other members of the pack.

A couple hundred feet, man, and I'm there.

Embry, when you get there, fall in line with Paul and take those fuckers out. Leah, Seth, and Jared are driving the rest of them to the clearing. Let's see how these damn leeches do without the trees for cover.

Huffing a labored grunt from canine lungs, Quil dug all four paws into the muddy earth below him, propelling his massive frame forward with a burst of fluid speed. Leaping effortlessly over a fallen tree, he saw Embry and Paul playing out Jacob's orders as they both zeroed in on Quil and the two leeches tailing him.

Fuck, they'd come out of nowhere.

One second, he and Embry were walking home from work. Quil wasn't doing much of the talking, which was rare for him. Embry was too busy having one of his "proud daddy" moments, as Quil liked to call them, explaining how his two year old daughter, Maddie, had "used the potty" for the first time the night before. He just grinned and let Embry ramble. The little girl was smart as a whip but at two years old, even he had to admit that milestone was pretty damn impressive.

The next, they heard the howl.

With a single look, both of them were running full speed toward the nearest treeline.

There were a dozen of them.

It had been a long time since they had a leech on their lands, let alone so many of them. It made no fucking sense to Quil. Everything the pack knew about vampires proved they didn't move in large numbers - that covens were usually small groups that consisted of two, maybe three, if they were feeling particularly friendly and familial.

With nine wolves in pursuit, the pack was definitely equipped to handle them.

They hadn't been prepared for that fucking many, though.

At first it was just three - one hulking, bearded vamp and a couple icy females. Piece of cake, Quil had thought when they saw the flashes of color and white, marble skin streaking through the trees above them.

Then the rest of them showed up.

Fuck, that sickly sweet smell of rotting flesh was everywhere, burning Quil's nostrils like a red-hot flame, inciting a single moment of panic in the rest of the pack members. They weren't the same pack they were years ago, back when they were cocky teenagers who thought they could take on anything the leeches had to throw at them. They had things to lose now - Jacob, Paul and Jared had imprints. Sam and Embry had families…

However, the moment didn't last very long.

Because they were also bigger now. More experienced. More calculating and precise than they were back then.

And Quil had no doubt in his mind this was something they could handle.

In that moment, he could see Embry and Paul fall into perfect formation behind the two leeches, teeth gnashing as they gained on them.

As Quil busted through the treeline into the clearing, he let his tongue loll out of his mouth - the wolf equivalent to what he would call a cocky grin.

Piece of cake, he thought again the moment Paul went for vamp on the left and Embry took out the leech on the right, the crystalline sound of limbs tearing from bodies echoing in Quil's ears.

Still, it was far from over.

In less than a second, Quil surveyed what was happening in the clearing. He counted six leeches. A couple of them dangled from the tree limbs, taunting Leah's sleek white-grey wolf - toying with her as she angrily launched herself at them from the ground.

Keep smiling, assholes . You just wait till I get you out of that fucking tree.

Quil was already heading that direction when he heard Jacob's voice in his head once more.

Sam and I are driving two more of them in. Give us two minutes. Quil. Get those leeches out of the tree so Leah can have some fun.

Got it, Chief.

Quil phased back before he hit the tree, the voices disappearing from his head just before he leaped from the ground, colliding with the bark of the weathered conifer. Scrabbling against the wood, he effortlessly climbed it, throwing a glance toward the ground to see Leah still distracting the two leeches.

Perfect.

Swinging around, he pulled himself up to the branch the fuckers rested on, grinning slightly when his eyes flicked downward. The gesture widening in a sadistic kind of way when he saw Leah stop jumping, sitting back on her haunches instead. Patiently waiting.

Quil didn't make a sound as he pulled one arm back, bringing his fist down with every ounce of supernatural force he possessed inside his body.

The power behind the blow caused the branch to splinter beneath the weight of it, sending the branch, the needles, and two very surprised leeches straight into Leah's razor-sharp jaws.

Snickering, Quil jumped from the tree without a second thought, body shifting and muscles elongating before he even hit the ground. Four legs reaching the earth instead of two.

By the time Quil turned his sights back on the open meadow, the clearing was a flurry of wolves and fur and hissing and marble bodies. He counted again, still seeing six leeches and trying to figure out where he was needed.

That big, bearded one went to the trees. Not sure if he's running or heading your way. He's slick though - keep your eyes open!

Sam's voice was steady but warning.

Stay on him, Sam. Try to get him here, if you can.

Quil could see Jacob and Paul on the other side of the clearing now, unsure of how Jacob and Sam were separated in the first place. Regardless, it evaporated from Quil's mind a second later when he saw Leah had taken out one of the two vamps Quil had given her on a silver platter, but was struggling with the other - a flighty, pixie-looking creature that moved entirely too fast and kept entirely too close for Leah to get a grip on her.

And now Quil could see there was another one heading that way, sights set on helping the bitch.

Quil pushed back on his haunches, ready to run.

Already there, man. I got this.

Quil laughed, which came out as a sort-of breathy noise in his head.

Show-off. You know you don't always gotta be one step ahead of me, Em.

Ha. Just gotta make sure you remember you're not as awesome as you like to think you are.

In that moment, Quil saw Embry burst through the brush, veering to the right. Leaping in one swift movement, he used a tree stump as a springboard, launching into the air. His lithe, dark grey form aiming and poised for the second leech, who was getting ready to wrap his arms around Leah…

The rest of it - every moment that followed - happened in slow motion.

Standing there, Quil saw it all, every horrifying second playing in what felt like a thousand different corners of his brain.

From one corner, he could see the huge vamp with the beard tearing from the treeline - the one Sam was talking about. The one that was there in the beginning.

He disappeared from view before Quil could figure out where he was going. With a shake of his head, Quil saw it again, from a different angle. From Jacob's minds-eye as their Alpha tossed a severed head from his jaw into the grass. As he looked up, locating the leech. As his paws pressed into the ground and he ran.

As Quil finally found his fucking legs. As he ran, too.

They were both seeing it now - a fucked up kind of double vision as the bearded vamp dropped to the ground, feet in front of him as he slid through the moist grass.

As one white, ice-cold hand snagged another large, jagged tree branch from where it rested on the dirt.

As he dug his feet into the earth, his marble body skidding to a stop.

Right under Embry.

Right as his body arched downward. Right as the leech rolled to his back, bringing the tree branch around.

EMBRY!

Quil wasn't entirely sure it was him who screamed his friend's name, but he could feel the bone-chilling howl escape his canine lungs when the leech jabbed the thick branch upward with every ounce of strength his inhuman body possessed.

Burying it to the hilt.

Straight into Embry's chest.

The blow stopped Embry before he could hit the ground. The vamp grinned sadistically, using the branch to toss Embry's punctured body to the side, the grey wolf hitting the ground with a sick and disconcerted thud.

Nononononono!

Every single second felt like a fucking hour as Quil tried to get there. As he tried to ignore his instincts to run to his pack brother, and to ignore how his legs weakened when he fought it. Instead, Quil set murderous, feral eyes on the vamp, channeling that adrenaline elsewhere as he pulled back his lips, hatred and vengeance thick in his snarl.

The bearded fucker barely had a chance to turn back - to realize the fate he sealed for himself - before Quil was on him, tearing his head from his body in one swift, unforgiving movement.

Quil! Get Embry! We'll get the rest.

Jacob's order was thick and clear in Quil's head just before he hit the ground on human knees, finally seeing the grey wolf had involuntarily phased back - that it was now Embry lying in the ankle-high grass, naked and shaking. Forgetting everything else happening around him, Quil crawled on all fours across the distance separating them, moving to the side his best friend faced.

Reaching him, it felt like someone punched Quil in the fucking stomach. Everything inside him twisting into a vicious knot when he saw the branch was still there, protruding directly from the center of Embry's chest.

Dangerously close to his heart...

Quil thought he might vomit when he saw the crimson blood staining the wood. When he saw how swiftly it was spilling from the wound.

Embry's eyes were distant but frantic, looking a hundred places as he tried to fathom what was happening - as he tried to process everything through the shock that no doubt held his body in an iron grip.

Eventually, though, his eyes found Quil's, hanging onto them with an urgency Quil couldn't comprehend.

"Quil…"

Quil made a noise in his throat he didn't recognize, frenzied eyes assessing the wound. Brushing over the heavy, thick branch with his fingers, he tried to figure out what the fuck he was going to do.

"We gotta get this out of you," he murmured, trying like hell to keep the words soothing. Comforting.

Quil glanced down in time to see Embry nod, his chest just above the wound heaving as he struggled to breathe in and out.

"Okay…" Quil wasn't a doctor. He wasn't even a fucking nurse, but he knew he couldn't just leave the thing in his friend's chest. He knew he had to try to get it out so Embry would have a chance. So his healing abilities would stand a fighting shot at fixing what was wrong. "This is gonna hurt, buddy, so hang on, okay?"

He missed Embry's second nod, one large, steady hand curling around the branch, the other around Embry's midsection. Bracing himself, Quil closed his eyes, gritting his teeth as he tried to pull.

Stopping when Embry's blood-curdling cry filled the clearing they were in.

Stopping when he realized the jagged end of the branch had likely punctured more than Quil could see from the outside.

Stopping when he realized there was no way it could come out. Not yet. Not like this. Not without a doctor.

Quil felt so fucking helpless.

"Jesus, man," Rocking forward on his knees, Quil's hands lifted to his temples as he tried to figure out what to do. His eyes held the black ones of his best friend, who was now trembling viscerally as he fought to draw in his next breath, beads of sweat gathering on his forehead from what Quil had just tried to do.

"Quil…"

"You'll be okay," Quil soothed, interrupting Embry's insistent plea. Leaning down instead - doing whatever he needed to do to comfort his friend in that moment - one hand brushed sweaty strands of hair back from Embry's forehead while the other man's glassy eyes watched Quil. "You'll be okay, we just gotta get you out of here."

Coughing, Embry's face crumpled beneath the pain and Quil tried...again...to ignore the small trickle of blood washing over his friend's lips.

"I don't think wolf healing can fix this, Q…"

Quil barked out an overly loud laugh, looking around frantically and realizing for the first time no one else was there. That the pack had driven the leeches away from the clearing, and no one was left but him and Embry.

"You're funny, Call. You're a funny guy."

Quil half-expected Embry to answer, but when he looked back down, he could see the blank look in his best friend's eyes, now focused on something Quil couldn't see.

Feeling the excruciating panic rise in his chest, Quil leaned forward again, taking the other man's face between both of his large hands. "Em? Em, look at me!"

It took Embry a moment but he finally blinked, just once before he focused on Quil's gaze.

"I'm so cold…"

Quil shook his head frantically, feeling that same panic wrap around his throat. Feeling an unfamiliar burning in his eyes as he reached up with one hand, swiping the moisture from his cheeks he didn't know was there.

"Stop it," he growled, looking down. Holding Embry's liquid eyes, he refused to look at the spot in his chest that was still pumping out blood. He refused to acknowledge how he could feel it dampening the grass beneath his knees, or to admit how Embry's face was becoming more sallow by the second.

"You're gonna be fine."

Embry squeezed his eyes shut, using every ounce of strength he possessed inside him to smile. To open his eyes and find Quil's again.

Gutting Quil from the inside out when he saw the lone tear squeeze its way from Embry's eye, disappearing as it fell into the grass below him.

Quil couldn't help it, this time ignoring the throbbing ache in his chest - the hollow emptiness - as he reached out, taking his best friend's hand in his. Leaning forward and offering him his own smile when Embry's lips parted to speak.

"Be there, Quil...for Maddie. For Bella…"

Quil wanted to wipe the hot tears from his eyes again, but another part of him didn't give a fuck as he shook his head obstinately.

As he tried to understand how any of this could be happening.

"You're gonna be fine…" he whispered again, although he wasn't so sure he believed it anymore. He wasn't so sure that was the case as Embry's chest stilled, missing a handful of breaths before he found another. Before it happened again. How the seconds ticked by, creating longer gaps before Quil could hear the air pass over Embry's lips.

Desperation clawing at his chest, Quil looked up in time to see Jacob's human form tearing from the treeline, running toward him, Paul and Leah following a moment later.

It was in that single, split second Quil unwillingly saw everything. Every day of their twenty-two years on that earth. The times when he and Embry were kids and they got in trouble for trying to tie firecrackers to the tails of the reservation's stray cats. How pissed Embry had been when Quil lost his virginity before him, and how he rubbed it in Embry's face. The first time they got drunk on Quil's grandpa's moonshine and Quil just clapped his friend on the back, leaving his hand there when at the end of the night, Embry sobbed, years of frustration over a father that was never there coming to a head.

How Embry had been an awesome father anyway.

How fucking happy Bella made him. How much one beautiful little girl had completed his world. How much his family meant to him...

A weak squeeze of his hand pulled Quil's attention back where it belonged.

Quil didn't know what death looked like, but staring into his best friend's eyes - seeing that single moment of clarity and determination - he couldn't imagine he was seeing anything else.

"Promise me…please."

Quil released a defeated breath, ignoring how it took everything inside him - every hope, every bit of self-reassurance he felt - right along with it. As he realized no matter what the outcome, no matter what happened, he would give his friend this much.

Even if he wasn't around to make sure Quil saw it through…

But Quil knew he would have promised it anyway the moment he silently agreed. Before he spoke the words.

As he felt his heart shatter in his chest.

Because Maddie was Embry's life. Bella was Embry's life, and Quil would make them his life, if that's what Embry wanted.

So Quil smiled, doing the only thing he could think of, thankful for an infinite moment when he saw a single glimmer of peace in his best friend's eyes.

The same moment Embry took his last breath, but not before Quil could say his last words to the person who'd been his best friend his entire life.

"I promise, Em…"


AN: *WAILS*

I'm just gonna leave it at that...

Review if you like.