Forty-five minutes later, Eric’s wounds were dressed and he was fighting the idea of being admitted to hospital. Kate understood why. He was fighting the urge to go into healing trance. He didn’t need to accidentally turn fuzzy in their nice white hospital beds.
“Look Nurse Hale, he doesn’t want to stay. He’s promised to go see our doctor in the morning if he feels worse. We’ve all had a rough day and we don’t want to be separated. So, unless you are ready to have Eric, myself, Zach and his girlfriend, two dogs and eight cats in your hospital, please let us go home. You said his blood pressure, temperature, and breathing were all fine. If anything happens, we will come straight back.”
Nurse Hale rolled her eyes. Some people. “Fine. I’ll go talk to the doctor. She isn’t gonna be happy.”
“Too bad,” said Zach.
The nurse whipped her head back around, saw who spoke and then hurried down the hall.
“Gee, what kind of history do you two have?” Kate asked.
“I aced her IV class in college in two hours. Plus, I wouldn’t ask her out.” Zach laughed.
Fifteen minutes later, Eric and Kate were getting into her Subaru while Zach and Anne followed in her car. James followed them home. He wanted to make sure everything was okay.
The house still looked like a holiday display with cop cars, lights, crime scene tape and tons of people still milling about. One of the cops was trying to lure Fluff out of a tree where she was enjoying the attention. Kate parked the Subaru and helped Eric out of the car. Going up the steps was no easy job. Eric was sweating by the time he got in the back door.
Cries of joy from Luna and Gretchen echoed through the house as they smelled Eric and Kate. “Shut up! Settle down!” Kate was trying to get past them and all the way in the door.
Eric shushed them and they finally settled down when they smelled and licked his hand. He could see that the remains of the basement door had been removed. Walking into the kitchen and looking out towards the dining room, he could see that clean up had been going on there too. Now all he really wanted was to crawl into bed and sleep.
James was coming back into the kitchen and saw that Eric was getting paler. “Give me your arm Eric. Let’s get you to bed. I still think you should have stayed in the hospital, but I understand.” He helped Eric down the hall. Kate started to follow them and got sidetracked by a deputy.
Eric pointed the way, and James nodded. Eric turned on the light to find Polo, and three of the other cats on the bed. “Shoo! Get off the bed.” Eric watched the cats ignore him.
James laughed behind him and then after letting go, moved the cats off the bed. “There. You better move fast, otherwise they’ll be back.”
“Isn’t that the truth. Thanks for all you’ve done today. I don’t know what we would have done without you.”
“Hell, I’m not sure you needed us at all. Those were some great shots you took on the dogs in the dining room. Ex-military?”
“Yes. Just between you and me, special ops,” Eric said quietly. “I don’t even talk to Kate about it much.”
“I understand. Makes a lot of sense with that information. Thanks for sharing. Now, get some rest. We’ll talk later.” James headed out the door. Kate was just getting to the door. “You get some rest too, lady.”
“I will James. I intend to snuggle with Eric and once that door is closed, not come out till we are both rested.”
“Sounds good to me. Have that boy of yours bring you some breakfast.”
“Oh, I will.”
James walked out into the dining room. He kept looking at the room, trying to figure out what it was he had missed. There was something niggling at his brain. Looking at the floor, he noticed a red powder. Touching a finger to it, he brought a bit up to his nose. A sharp scent told him it was chile powder of some sort. More puzzles. No answers. Straightening up, he saw the tin cans that had rolled under the side board and the table. He thought about them and the chile powder a moment. Walking around the house, he noticed chile powder on other doorways and a few windows. He also noticed bells set to ring. Leaning against the kitchen door, looking at the gaping hole where the basement door had been, it came to him. They’d been expecting trouble. Trouble on four legs no less. James shook his head and called to his deputy. As the man walked over, James thought about the fact that he and Eric were going to have a long talk once Eric was all healed up.
Kate slipped into a teeshirt that hung nearly to her knees and then crawled into bed with Eric. Under his teeshirt, he was bandaged and covered in antibiotic creme. His face was bruised and scratched. The gash on his neck and the bite on the forearm were the worst. Those had required stitches. She pulled him next to her and he curled into her arms. Each breathed a sigh of relief to be by themselves at last.
“Oh Eric, when I saw you go over the back fence, I though I’d lost you,” she said softly.
“No, Sweetie. I told you that I want to be here when we are both old. I didn’t want to die today either.”
“It nearly came to that from what Zach and Ronny said.”
“Yes. They both saw the other wolf. Or what was left of him.”
“Well, I’m alive and he isn’t. Hopefully this will be the end of all of this.”
“I hope so. I love you so much.” She held him as gently as possible.
“I love you too,” he said sleepily.
Zach went into check on them after most of the people had left. There was still a cop in the driveway, but otherwise it was quiet. He opened the door slowly when no one responded to his knock. There they were, curled up almost nose to tail the two of them. A blue glow covered them both. Zach smiled and closed the door.
Kate woke up not knowing what time it was. The curtains were drawn and it was dark. She stretched, feeling every muscle in her body pulling as she moved. How long has she slept? She was so stiff. Looking at the nightstand, she realized that someone had unplugged the clock. There was no glow of digital numbers. Kate fumbled for the lamp cord and turned it on. The light was so bright in comparison, that she thought of Eric and Zach’s jokes about photons and phasers. She sat down on the bed, rubbing her eyes and trying to adjust to the brightness. She wondered where her nightshirt had gone.
Looking over to the other side of the bed, Kate saw that Eric was still in wolf form. The bandages were hanging from him in tatters. She also noticed that someone had put a water dish as well as a water bottle by the side of the bed. The water bowl was nearly empty.
The wolf blinked yellow eyes at her and sniffed the air trying to figure out what had alarmed his mate. Not sensing any danger, he started to go back to sleep.
“Eric, come on. Time to come back. I don’t know about you, but I need the bathroom.” Looking around for a teeshirt or sarong, she didn’t see anything. Standing up, she pulled open a drawer and found a teeshirt and sweat pants. She also grabbed a pair of sleep pants for Eric and tossed them on the bed.
“Hey you! Let’s get up.” She started moving towards the door. Soon after Eric had moved in, all the door knobs had been replaced with handles. This made it easier for paws to open the doors. As Kate reached for the handle, she realized that it was open. She speculated on whether or not they’d been out prior to her waking up this time. She didn’t remember.
Kate opened the door all the way and was almost out the door when the wolf brushed past her. He was checking out the hall, sniffing to see what was out there. Kate just rolled her eyes. He was still sniffing about when she came out of the bathroom.
“Eric, it’s time for two legs.” By this time they had reached the kitchen. The clock on the stove read 2:34. It was the middle of the night. Bigger question was which night? How much time had passed since they came home from the hospital?
The wolf had reached the back door and pawed the handle open. He was out the door before Kate could stop him. He was down the stairs and into the back yard before she even made it out the door. The stairs were cold on her bare feet.
“Eric! Get in here!” She called out as loudly as she dared. Looking around she didn’t see any police cars. She went down the steps until she was on the back walk. Eric was examining the back fence perimeter. He peed on the corner fence posts as well. Kate just shook her head.
“I’m going inside Eric. No dog treats for you.” She turned to go up the steps. She hadn’t gone far before the wolf breezed past her and sat at the top of the stairs.
“Well, the least you could do is open the door for me. I’m freezing.”
The wolf cocked his head and then pawed the handle of the door open. They went inside.
Zach was standing in the kitchen half awake. He looked at the wolf wagging it’s tail and his mom standing next to the door. “I wondered who was up.”
“Just us. Eric here had to go check the boundaries and add to the pee mail. I don’t understand why though. Especially with ‘Max’ in quarantine.”
The wolf stopped wagging his tail. Zach looked down at him. “You know, if I were you, I’d get shifted back fast. I think she’s peeved.”
The wolf looked at both of them and headed down the hall. Zach smiled. “You know Mom, I think that’s the closest I’ve ever seen to you two having a disagreement.”
“It isn’t even that. I’m just tired, stiff and don’t even know what day it is. I’ve tried to get him to shift, and instead I got the trip outside,” She tried to stifle a yawn.
“Well, it’s been about thirty hours since you got home from the hospital. It isn’t the first time you’ve been up either. At least one of you has done the pee mail thing since you’ve been home.”
“That’s right,” said Eric as he came back through the door dressed in the sleep pants she had tossed on the bed. His scratches and other injuries were well on the way to being healed. The bruises were even beginning to turn from deep blues and purples to greens and yellows in some places. His neck still looked the worst.
Kate looked from Zach to Eric and back to Zach. Puzzled by the two of them, she grabbed a stool and sat down. “Are you trying to tell me that either Eric or I checked the fence line prior to just now?”
“Yes,” Eric and Zach said at the same time.
“Oh come on! I think I’d know if I walked down the hall before now.”
“Umm…. Kate, are you sure?” Eric asked.
Zach just smiled. “You know Mom, you’ve got really nice gray fur with some white highlights.”
“Zach! You’re just saying this to tease me. Right?” Alarm tinged her voice.
Eric walked over to her and wrapped his arms around her. “He’s right Sweetie. You look really nice in fur.”
Kate thumped her forehead with the palm of her hand. Leaning her head into Eric’s chest, she didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
“Mom, when I went to check on you two after you first came home, there were two wolves in the bed. You were curled up nose to tail.”
Kate looked at him, and a memory suddenly played across her thoughts. “Oh. Ooh my, oh gods… I thought that was just a dream!”
“No Sweetie, it wasn’t. I woke up a time or two and you were just as sweetly furry as I was. Oh, and it was me that checked the yard. I can still smell all the strangers and it’s hard to rest. I can detect so much more in wolf form than I can human. So, I didn’t shift back at first when we woke a bit ago. Sorry if I annoyed you.” His breath softly caressed the top of her head and then he kissed her hair. Kate was still trying to take this all in and just turned to hug Eric. He held her close while she sat quietly.
“Zach, how about a cup of tea?”
“That sounds like a good idea. You know Mom, you’re taking this a lot calmer than I thought you would.”
Kate looked over at Zach who was filling the kettle. She thought about what he said. “Yeah, I guess I am. There is more disbelief than panic I guess. It’s just that I don’t remember turning furry. I don’t know if I’d know how to do it consciously. Or turn back for that matter.”
“Kate, many of us never do. It’s why life can be so hard for some of us. Control is a big issue. It was part of the reason I have been concerned about you and Zach as well.” Eric was looking from one to the other.
Kate remembered the conversations that they had about this. She stood up and went to get the cups. Thoughts were flying ninety miles an hour through her brain and she was trying to make some sense of any piece of it. “So, not only did you awaken the latent shifter in both of us, but now at least I have totally shifted? And I don’t remember it?” Kate sat the cups on the table and tossed teabags in each cup.
“Yes. You may also never shift again, or get better at it. I don’t know. Like we discussed, this is new territory for me. I would guess that the stress of what went on pushed you over the barrier that has kept you more human than wolf all these years. It could also have been part of the healing trance.”
“Oh yeah Mom. You two were covered in the deepest blue haze I’ve ever seen. It was darker than that time Pat crashed his bike and cracked his head.”
Kate remembered that particular trip to the hospital. Pat had a head on crash with a car and flipped over his handlebars on to the pavement. Even the nurses at the hospital had noticed the energy field.
“It also isn’t the first time you two have had that kind of haze over you,” Zach added.
Kate looked at Eric and recognized that he had been doing a great deal of healing. That took energy. Looking within herself she realized that she too had done some healing. Lots of it. She had also helped Eric. “Oh gods,” she said, trying to take it all in.
Eric wrapped his arms around her again. “It’s okay Sweetie. I’ve already promised to share my dog treats. We’ll even get you a nice purple collar if you want. Complete with tags.” He was trying to make her laugh.
Kate looked at him and then started laughing. They were still laughing as a very sleepy Anne walked into the kitchen to see what the noise was all about.