Together we stood at the edge of the woods looking into the thickening darkness. Standing behind us was our team ready and willing. I could hear their hearts racing and the shuffling sounds of one or more of them shifting their weight back and forth on their bare, human legs.
Tara took a step ahead of me. Her white ripped t-shirt blowing around her curvy form. Her jeans stained with previous changes and dark, green smudges. I watched her walk into the tiny clearing, the thorns and branches trying to grab at her but her not even noticing. Her hands went out and trailed the tips of the plants, her fingers gently caressing each one as if it were an animal.
She turned back to me and I wasn't surprised to see her long golden hair growing down her body, her back hunching over and quietly and less painful than I had ever seen it happen she changed into her wolf self. Her imposing size walked stealthy over to my side and sat on her haunches.
I stood on my tip toes and scratched behind her ears, patting her lightly. Her big bushy tail wagged across the grass and began to thump happily with each of my passing strokes. The large muzzle that now occupied her face looked behind her and watched as the others we choose began to change as well. Kennedy was first, followed by Poslac. Sunny was chosen for her ability to blur the prey with speed and barging it off course.
The only thing that I was able to bare out were my fangs and I did so in order to present to my crew that I was ready to get the hunt under way. Nodding towards Tara she wagged her tail one last time then dipped her head back and let out a long, heart filled howl.
All around me the howls broke though the dense forest. Some came from the ones behind me, others from the predators of the forest acknowledging us in our pursuit of our meal. Tara let her snout fall and she licked my hand happily.
"You ready?" I asked puffing up my chest.
"I am." Tara's wolf mouth growled and she bolted towards the trees the others waiting for me to follow. I smiled and took off at a dead run towards the shimmering gold of my love. The wood was less dense once you'd made it past the edge of it. Seeing in the dark wasn't a problem for any of us as we soared over logs and bounded through ditches.
I found that somehow I was pulling a wondrous feeling from inside my body. The feeling of animalistic joy to be running with a group of my friends, to be working together to find and provide a bounty large enough to feed us all, was unmistakable one of the best feelings of my life.
The large white wolf known as Sunny leapt in front of me and dug her nose into the dried leaves. Her massive snout heaved and blew back the upturned earth and then she stopped abruptly and threw back her head in a triumphant howl.
The others rushed up from behind me and Tara came trotting back from the darkness to inspect the find. All four of them shoved their snouts into the earth and began to sniff around the spot, scratching at the dirt and roots.
I creped up behind them and looked down at the point of interest. Much to my surprise I caught the scent of the stag, and he was close by. I bent down and the others backed away allowing me to see well. I stretched out my hand and picked up a tiny clump of hair, I rolled the fur threw my fingers and brought it to my nose.
"Only a few hours old," I said looking up at Tara. Her lips curled into a smile and she nodded her head.
"Drink from me." Her voice rumbled.
I stood up and looked at her oddly, "now?"
"Yes, I want our magic to its full potential so that you will have my strength as well as your own to take down the buck." Tara said coming closer to me, towering my tiny form, and turning her shaggy head to the side.
I looked around at the others who were panting and watching us with such intensity it was hard to forget they were human. Slowly I walked over to the shaggy coat of my love and used my hands to part the fur enough to see her cream colored skin. I reached out and touched the smoothness of it and it was human skin, rooted with the imposing fur of her beast.
Moving my head closer I was able to make out the distinct scent of my goddess. I flicked out my tongue and tasted how sweet she was. Becoming increasingly excited I plunged in sinking my teeth in to her flesh. The rush of blood was so quick I nearly let go, but I held strong and sucked down her nectar as quickly as was allowed.
The others around me became restless and started pacing back and forth watching our act with agony. Sensing this I pulled away and licked around my lips the blood still remaining.
Staggering slightly I put my hand on Tara's shoulder to keep me steady until I swallowed all the sweetness down. Once again I was seeing in double just like back at the cabin. But it was so much more intense now that I was finding it very difficult to walk.
"Get on my back." Tara said turning her head to look at me.
I looked at her massive body, about the size of a small pony and worried I'd be too heavy for her to carry me. I laughed that off when I remembered she could probably throw a Toyota though a ten story window.
Gripping the fur on the back of her neck I tried to remember how to mount a horse, the Gods know how long that's been since I've done that. I threw my weight into my right leg and leapt up over her back and settled on the point between her shoulder and her rump. The fur was bunched tightly in my hands but I felt my body relax to being so close to Tara.
The magic that I had sucked from my beauty intensified with straddling her powerful body. It was if her fur crawled in my hand like a living thing, I looked down at my thigh were tiny beetle was crawling up it. It changed colors with each step, blues, greens, reds, as I reached out to touch it the texture graded on my hand then became silky. I was startled to find I was moving and I quickly scooped up the beetle and safely discarded it on a nearby tree as we passed.
Tara stared at a slow trot allowing my legs to adjust to riding again. I leaned down and hugged her around the shaggy neck and she took that as her cue to pick up the pace. The forest whipped by me and I was swallowing down my urge to become motion sick. There was another loud howl that erupted from beside me and I looked over to see Poslac galloping next to us, his tongue hanging out, ears back and what looked like a tiny smile at the corner of his jaws.
Sunny flanked and Kennedy leaped in front of us her nose to the ground in a rough snuff of tracking. Each of them in turn let out the call time and time again until Sunny came to a shuddering stop. She sniffed around a tree then perked her ears up, standing up straighter. Tara and I came to a halt next to her. I clutched Tara's fur tighter staring in the direction that Sunny was.
Something small caught my eye, the ripple of brown and a flash of white and the others that I thought were behind me flew like a bird towards the tiny movement. I could feel Tara's body shiver with excitement, the kind that I had never felt in her before. She gave a tiny yelp and bolted after the others.
My lover's body was a work of art, the way she twisted her paws in the air and how her shoulders grew tighter with upon landing. The quietness of her breathing she only sucked in tiny wisps of air at a time. Becoming bolder I let go of her fur and threw my hands up in the air, allowing my fingers to touch the tip of the forest herself.
Tara stopped abruptly nearly toppling me over her head and raised her nose to the air. There was a loud crack and an echoing yip of one our members. Tara took off towards the sound and broke through the tangling brush. We skidded to a stop again at the drenched body of Poslac. I hopped off Tara instantly and cried out in shock as my feet splashed in a pool of his blood. It was like being in hell all over again as he lifted his giant head to look at us. I bent down and stroked his ears, my tears welling in my eyes.
Tara circled her pack member nervously, whining and trying to nudge him up with her nose but it was no use. He rolled over exposing a gaping hole in his chest that was slowly eating away the fur and tissue around it. I leaned over him and looked down and saw a shimmering sliver object. His tail gave one final thump in the puddle of his own blood and his head rolled to the side, his eyes holding the only truth that this beast was once a human.
"Oh my god," I whispered.
I heard the cock of the gun again and was quick enough to leap up and tackle Tara to the ground. Not quick enough though to save the bullet from imbedding in her right shoulder. She screamed painfully and sprawled out on the ground scratching at the earth in pain.
I heard three then four more shots further down the woods and the horrible cries of the others.
"Tara get up, please baby get up we have to go!" I cried tugging at her still working arm. She laid there still in complete shock. I'm not sure from being shot or seeing her most trusted wolf dead at her paws.
"I-I can't move." She spit out.
"Baby you have to try! Please don't leave me!" I pleaded. Her eyes glazed over and she slumped back to the ground again.
"The-the bullet, it h-hurts so much," her wolf-mouth growled. I sat beside her and looked over her body; the same effect of the bullet was the same for the cross on my face the burning of her flesh was overwhelming and it nearly made me lose myself while watching it. I had to help her I had to save her from this pain. I looked sadly over the wound and made up my mind. Bending down I opened my mouth to the hole and bit down. Tara cried out trying to wring her body free of my grip but I held fast and bit down harder, locating the silver stub in seconds. Closing over the bullet I locked my jaw and yanked backwards, ripping it as a whole out of her skin.
Her desperate cries did not go unnoticed to me as I spit out the offending item. The blood at her arm slowed but didn't heal up immediately.
"I-I have to change." She said weakly.
I stepped back giving her more room and watched again the effect of her infection take place. With gruesome howls and tired whines, Tara laid placid on the ground, her ripped clothes showing patches of her scraped skin.
There were shouts and more shots being fired and I quickly scooped Tara up and supported her with my shoulders. With all the strength I could find Tara and I trudged though the forest, desperately searching for the clearing to escape.
A man jumped out of the brush startling both Tara and myself. He raised a large, high powered rifle to Tara's chest and pulled back the hammer. Rage bubbled quickly in my gut and before I could even think I had side kicked the rifle out of the guy's hand who just happened to be a vampire. I tackled him and began to punch him hard in the face, but he was much too smart for me, he threw his weight into my lower body, tossing me aside.
I rolled over and glanced up at Tara. Her eyes were blood soaked and deadly, she dipped her head back and let out a savage howl, one that made my chest hurt to hear. Like a burst of flame Tara exploded into her wolf form. Her animal body shivered and leapt at the pale vampire, her claws were opening his chest and his horrific screams echoed off the trees.
Watching with an uncaring eye I crouched low to the ground avoiding another hidden shot. Finally the man's body stilled and Tara quietly stepped off of him and looked at me with a kind of despair in her eyes.
"We have to get back," I said, suddenly feeling something back home was going horribly wrong.
Tara nodded and we both took off towards the clearing, Tara with a slight limp and me wide eyed and in total shock of what was happening. This had to be the work of Drusilla that bitch was attacking us when we were the most weak and venerable.
Each branch that was earlier a breath of life was now a barrier from my destination to protect the others. I batted them away like flies and hunched over with the sudden burst of pain that penetrated my back.
"Ahhh!" I cried out throwing my body forward into the leaves. Tara threw her body above me and locked her legs. Her growls could have been heard all the way to Russia her bared teeth dripped saliva next to my head and I turned a bit to see her.
"Baby, I'm okay. I'm still coursing with your blood and my magic is pushing the bullet out I can feel it." She stepped off of me and nuzzled me with her snout. I staggered a bit but pulled myself to my feet a bit wobbly. I rubbed my back and felt the silver killer bounce off the back of my hand.
Tara whined and licked my face happily. We both knew what needed to be done, sorely but surely I managed to break myself free of the forest and found my feet once again pounding on the cobble streets.
Unmistakably Tara was still in wolf form as we shoved our way though the crowds of people. Many, (before we even made it to them) screamed in fright and threw themselves up against the store windows and brick walls.
A few blocks rounding from the town house the smell of smoke and looking towards the sky captured a terrible black fog. My insides turned into a knot and I chanced a look at Tara and saw the same instant worry falling upon her face. The sounds of sires clung to the air like a bad dream. We both picked up the pace a little more even though we were both at the breaking point of collapsing.
We slid around the corner and both of us instantly stopped dead in our tracks. There in mountain of flames, was the black outline of our still burning house. There were people gathered behind yellow saw-horses watching the blaze with interested. But there were more bodies rushing back and froth from the house to the street.
Both of us heard the shrill cry of our beloved pup. Tara broke from beside me and raced towards the house. She was knocked over by a black blur and she rolled and sprung back to her paws. There, nearly bigger than Tara stood a big, black Leopard, who only could have been Christopher, for that was the only wereleopard I knew. In his rounded jaws held by the scruff of the neck was our blackened pup Yaku, whose limbs lay limp in the care of the jagged teeth.
His eyes were dark green that were darkened by the silted pupils and he looked at us curiously. Before I could react Tara had snapped her mouth around the cub and yanked him away, quickly running towards me and dropping him in my hands. The small crowd around gasped and began to back away. Christopher let out a heinous scream and the small crowd became a no crowd very fast. He turned his head back to the burning house and bolted back inside.
This time he did not emerge as quickly and I ran as close to the fire as I could possibly get, searching for him. I looked around at the smudged faces of the other vampires and werewolves standing at a distance and tried to make a quick head count but I lost it all when there was a desperate yell from inside the burning mess. Yaku tucked safely in my coat, I ran to the other side of the horror and tried to see inside but it was no use.
The scream became more girl-like and younger. Tara was next to me in a flash trying her best to find a safer way into the house but she could not find any and the structure was crumbling fast.
"Dawn's in there!" Tara growled to herself and tried to push though one of the open doorways but failed.
Sure enough Buffy and Faith came to our sides at once, Buffy in a shamble of tears.
"Get her out somebody, please!" Buffy cried trying herself to be that somebody. But Faith held her back, holding her close.
There was no use the only thing we could do now was watch and wait. There was a loud groan from the woodworking and sharp cracks of the frame. I backed away quickly holding Yaku to me and tugging on Tara to follow. She looked at me sadly and got out of the way in time as the house fell forward, spraying a mist of ash and coals down the rural street.
Buffy let out a heart filled cry and fell to her knees. Faith following her and tenderly began stroking her hair with her pale fingers.
"Wait! Look!" Janielle cried pointing her finger towards the sea of smoke.
The form which had been pointed at grew larger until it became recognizable. There, clinging for dear life around the killer cat's neck was the grungy body of Dawn. Her sobs were quiet but indicating the breath of life still passed though her. Buffy sprang up and pulled her gingerly from the smoking fur of Christopher. He allowed her all the patience in the world and slowly limped off towards the cluster of our coven and pack members.
"Hey!" Tara's low voice growled from beside me. Christopher stopped and turned his head lazily as Tara padded up beside him.
"Thank you for saving our little one." I heard her whisper. He nodded his head curtly and continued his pained gait towards the others.
Tara rounded and came back towards us, stopping short and licking Yaku on top of his head.
"What are we to do now? We have no place to go." I said looking at the pile that use to be our house.
Tara and I both looked at the others. All of them were as scared and worried as we were.
"We'll go to the forest." Tara said firmly.
"To the forest, but how will my coven survive out there?" I asked quickly.
"We will teach each other how to survive. Drusilla will not get away with this, we can not let her know she has won. Together you and I can do great things and we both know that. So let's put our great minds and tremendous love to the test and become one with ourselves."
I looked at her, proud and valiant as she stood there, so full of confidence and ready to take on anything. I knew she was right, for I had always known she was the right in my life. Holding Yaku with every ounce of my love I gave my command. The command to follow and eventually lead and as my coven and I stood at the base of the woods, once again I was reminded of the right thing I was doing and with a new sense of deliverance I took that first step of righteousness.