She was so cold
now, she shivered underneath the blanket. Sylvanos mopped her forehead,
a wash rag held in shaking fingers.
Even now, she couldn't just be still, he thought.
"Get out of here ... meet the boys on the road if you ... have to ... just ... get the hell out ..." she rasped.
"They're coming here right now," he said quietly.
For Gaia's sake, just stay with me until they get here.
"They'll be tracking us, Syl. You ... know the drill ..."
He nodded. He knew there were probably more banes than he wanted to think about looking, sniffing, prowling after their tracks. He could only pray that the small creek he'd driven down would obscure enough of the trail to throw them off for a bit.
Then there was a car outside, the sound of voices coming toward the door, as he turned and she brought up her .45.
Brian flung the door open, then went white as he stared down the barrel of the gun. She dropped it to the ground from her shaking hand.
Jeremy was second in the door. He paused for a moment and then instinctively came to his mother's side. She ran her hand through his hair and smiled weakly.
Jeremy looked at her - he could sense that death was very near. He didn't know how he knew, it was just something in his head. He'd always had that gift.
Now, though, he wished he didn't have it.
TJ went white, then green. He had seen enough in his seventeen years to know that this was no 'mom fell down and hurt herself again' injury. Blood stained the blanket and ran down the side of the couch. There was a large puddle of it on the floor already, soaking into the cracked linoleum. He stared, fascinated, at the way it ran along the indented pattern of the tiles. There was too much here for him to take in, more than he could believe was happening. He shut down and backed against the wall.
"Come to me ..." she beckoned, and he shook his head slowly.
"I'm ... close. I'm here," he said, but his words were distant and his eyes were a million miles away.
She closed her eyes then, and tears spilled slowly down her cheeks. She wept not for herself, nor from the pain - she was Garou, dammit, and had felt far worse pain - but for her boys.
She realized that without her, they would be naked, unprotected.
Well, didn't you know that sooner or later, you would die? some small voice inside her asked, and she bowed her head and wept even more then.
Jeremy laid his head on his mother's shoulder. The pressure on her broken bones almost caused her to scream in agony, but she held her tongue, knowing that he would take these memories with him for the rest of his life.
"Sylvanos, we gotta do something!" Brian shouted at the boy.
In answer, Sylvanos just shook his head sadly.
Suddenly, without warning, TJ sprang on him, swinging wildly. Brian, surprised by the attack, had no time to respond before TJ had knocked Sylvanos to the floor.
"What in hell do you mean? You haven't called anybody? Get on the phone, get an ambulance!!!! What the fuck happened? What kind of crazy shit did the two of you do out there?!"
Brian easily pulled the boy up off of Sylvanos' chest. The gypsy's eye was already beginning to swell shut from a blow. He turned his head and spat blood onto the floor.
"Oh my God ... !"
Everybody turned to see Bruce hovering at the door. He almost stumbled over his brother's feet as he rushed to his mother.
"My God, my God, what happened?" he wailed.
Boudiccea looked up at him, the one, the firstborn. She smiled a sad little smile. Blood ran from her mouth as she coughed.
"Mother, don't try to talk. We're here, we'll get you to a hospital, don't worry. We'll make it ok..." Bruce stammered. Her face was too pale, he knew she had lost a lot of blood.
She raised her hand to his. He looked so horrified, she had to try to calm him, reassure him...
"Kenneth," she said quietly. Her pet name for him, never Bruce, never Kenny, but Kenneth. "It's too late for me ... we were ... ambushed. I think it's ....s-s-silver nitrate ... oh, merciful Gaia! ..." she began to cough up thick, blackish blood. Bruce stared, horrified, as gray tissue spewed across the blanket.
Ohmigod that's lung ... mom's lungs ...
She drew in a deep wheezing breath, and then turned to him again. He could see her fighting unconsciousness to focus her gaze on his face.
"You must do two things for me ... watch your brothers; protect them. They are not strong ... like you ..."
He nodded his head yes, and clutched her hand tightly. She could see tears cresting in his eyes, but she knew he would not cry. Not now, at least. Maybe later, when he was alone, but not now.
"Find ... your father ... He will protect you all ... My purse .. has his address ... And ... tell ... your father ... that I was wrong ... to leave him." She let this last slip out. Bruce gasped.
"Yes ... I was ... wrong ... He was a ... good man ... He didn't deserve ... most of the things ... I suspected ... he had sold us out ... Now, I see I was ... wrong."
And, as Bruce felt a chill slip over him as well, she whispered one more thing. So faint, almost unhearable, but Bruce picked it up nonetheless.
"Tell your father ... I will always ... love him...."
Her grip tightened on his hand, and then, as he stared uncomprehending at her face, her features began to change, somehow, like a watercolor left in the rain, her face ran and lengthened, her nose stretched, and her eyes shifted their position.
And Bruce found himself looking into the face of a great black wolf.
And he began to scream.