It was the morning of July 15th and Robby intended to sleep very, very late. He had loved the trip to Florida to visit his grandparents with his little brothers. While his grandparents weren't old as werewolves went, he had still had most of the responsibility of shepherding two very active little boys over the last three days in Disneyworld and he was exhausted.
It had been planned for the first three days but both of the younger boys had reacted badly to their first plane flight. They hadn't been well for the first couple of days, so their visit to Disney had been delayed to the end of the holiday.
Suddenly Robby opened his eyes and said “Mom. Pregnant. Girl.” and he was wide awake. He realized there had been something different about Paul as well, he was gloriously happy. He looked at his clock and saw that it was only 9:00 AM. He felt disgusted, he hadn't intended to stir until hunger woke him up, but now he was fully awake. He knew he wouldn't be able to go back to sleep, until he satisfied his curiosity.
Robby got up and in his underpants, headed for his mother and Paul's room. He picked up the receiver. He didn't know if it was programmed for speed dial, like the one downstairs or not, but he knew the number off by heart anyway.
He heard over the phone, “Benson Police Department, how may I help you?”
“Hi, Maxine, is my Mom available?” he asked.
“Sure, Robby, I'll connect you. How was your trip to Florida?” she asked.
He told her, “Exhausting. Both Teddy and Barry were sick the first three days, so we spent the last three days at Disneyworld. I'll tell you following after two little boys, anxious to find Mickey and Minnie and all the rest of the Disney crew, had its downs and I didn't find any ups.”
She giggled, “Sorry about that, Robby, better luck next time. Here's your Mom.”
“Hi, Robby, I thought you didn't plan to show your head until sometime this afternoon.” said Hary.
“How long have you and Paul known you were pregnant, Mom?” he asked with curiosity.
Hary gasped, then said, “Now how… Did Rose tell… no she said wouldn't, so she didn't, so how did you find out? We only found out on Friday.”
Robby explained gravely, “Ever since I became an Elder I've been able to see an aura around werewolves or Gypsys. In the last two or three days I noticed that the kids and Grandma and Granddad's were different, sharper. I think whatever gift the Faerie gave me is starting to kick in. When I came in last night I noticed the same thing with you and Paul, only more so. Paul's just indicated he was really happy, yours, well Mom you better start thinking of some girls names because it's gonna be a girl.” He gave a huge yawn.
He said drowsily, “I saw it last night, but I was so sleepy that I didn't realize what I was seeing. I didn't realize it until, . . .” and then he was asleep again.
“Robby, Robby, wake up Robby, Damn.” Hary said, haning up the phone with annoyance. Norman Peters, Rose's husband and the chief of police, was just passing by,
“Anything wrong, Hary?” he asked.
She nodded, saying, “Yeah, my exhausted eleven year old, just fell asleep with the phone in his hand. It's a good thing that your wife carries a cell phone, Norm.” as she hit the button for another line and dialed Rose's cell phone number. “Hi, Rose, would you please go upstairs and into my room and wake up Robby, long enough to hang up the phone and chivvy him back to his room and his bed. He was talking to me and he fell asleep.”
Rose laughed, “Okay. What did he want?”
Hary explained, “He knows. Something to do with that gift he got and he said it's going to be a girl, so I'd better start thinking up girl's names.”
When Robby finally woke up it was close to two o'clock and unlike the way he normally woke, which was like a light bulb off/on asleep/awake, he lingered in half sleep for several minutes, before he began to wake up fully. He could see Teddy and Barry, his two little brothers sitting on the floor beside their bunk bed and playing some type of game. He was somewhat surprised that they were doing it so quietly, then he realized if he had been so tired, they were probably pretty tired as well.
He turned on his back and put his hands behind his head. Almost absently, he realized that his stomach was grumbling and he was going to have to do something about that pretty soon. He remembered clearly what had happened this morning, including the fact that he'd fallen asleep on the phone and Rose coming in to wake him up and send him off to his own bed. He was going to have to talk to his granddad about this gift. Elder to Elder.
Robby turned his head and saw Barry standing looking at him. “What's up, squirt.”
Barry answered seriously, “I only squirt when I pee, Robby, you know we're not 'lowed squirt guns nomore, 'member.”
Robby chuckled lifting the four year old onto the bed and set him on his stomach, raising his legs so that Barry would have a backrest. He said with amusement, “I remember all right, I'm just glad I didn't get them for you two. Now if it hadn't been the minister and his wife, you wouldn't have been in as much trouble. You just picked the wrong target. But I didn't mean squirt like that, the way I used it just means little and I used it because I love you, the way I sometimes call Teddy sport. That doesn't mean little, but I use it for the same reason, because I love him.”
Teddy chose that moment to land on Robby's chest and Robby gave an “Oof!!” as he grabbed him around the waist, then said, “Well I love him most of the time,” and he gave Teddy a couple of hard swats on the bottom Teddy giggling.
A free for all was about to erupt and it wouldn't have been as one sided as it seemed. Since Robby couldn't use his full strength against them most of the time, but Teddy and Barry could against him, when his stomach gave a large rumble reminding him of his hunger. Barry, always the more serious of his little brothers said, “Robby your tummy just growled, you better go eat 'fore it gobbles you up from the inside.”
Robby chuckled, saying, “Yeah, you're right, Barry. I gotta eat and then I have to phone granddad, about some Elder business, so we'll have to postpone what was going to be a glorious wrestling match, for a least an hour.”
While the younger boys would have loved a wrestling match right now, they respected the fact that hunger pangs had to be fed, so they hopped off the bed. Teddy was a little incautious and turned his back on Barry. Barry with a grin at Robby took advantage of that fact and tackled Teddy around the waist and the wrestling match was on.
Robby got up and after putting on a pair of gym shorts, calmly stepped over the two combatants squirming and giggling on the floor and headed downstairs.
In the kitchen, Rose was starting to get supper ready. In this case, it just meant browning the ground beef and preparing her sauce, since it was going to be spaghetti for supper. Robby stopped in the doorway. He realized that Rose's aura was darker than most werewolves, looking back he realized that it had always been that way and he thought he knew what to do about it.
He didn't mention it right now; he wanted to talk to his granddad first. Rose looked around as Robby came into the room and smiled. They both heard some bumps from upstairs and her smile widened into a grin, as she said, “Getting some of their energy back I guess. They ended up sleeping almost as late as you did, though they refused to admit that they were tired. They got dressed and came down for breakfast, then flaked out on the living room couch, for the rest of the morning.”
Robby rummaging in the fridge for some cold meats, pulled out a package of ham and another of baloney. He grinned, “Yeah, I think the morning sleep helped all of us. Teddy's turned his back on Barry, who couldn't resist such a great chance. I left them squirming on the floor.”
He finished putting mustard on the seven sandwiches he had made. Three thick ones for himself and two thinner ones each for Teddy and Barry. He poured three glasses of milk. Putting two fingers in his mouth, he gave a shrill whistle. Rose didn't even turn from adding a few things to her sauce. She was used to it.
In a few
seconds, Barry and Teddy showed up in the kitchen door. Robby pointed
to the sandwiches, saying, “Two ham and baloney for each of you and
a glass of milk. Put on some T shirts and sneakers and after I talk
to granddad, we'll go out and play some football. I'd call Wil, but
he refuses to play after the last time Teddy tackled him, he said werewolf
kids played too rough for him. I haven't seen Gary much since the last
month of school. In fact the last time I saw him was on Teddy's birthday.
I think I'll go over this evening to see if he's all right.”
Robby had chosen his mother's room again for the phone call. He was lying on his back his bare feet on the headboard of the bed. He heard his grandmother say, “Hansen residence.”
He told her, “Hi, grandma, this is Robby, can I speak to granddad? I doubt that he's on the golf course today. You two didn't have to do much running but I imagine you were pretty tired last night. I just got up myself and Rose said that the kids napped on the couch all morning.”
She said with amusement, “No, you're right. We decided to take it easy for a few days before we resumed any vigorous activity. Hold on. He just appeared in his study door. Roger its Robby.”
His granddad asked, “Hello, Robby, what can I do for you?”
“I want to talk to you as a Historian,” Robby described what had been going on with his extended ability to read auras. He didn't mention the fact that his mother was pregnant. That was for his mother and Paul to announce, but he did tell him about Rose.
His grandfather thought for a little while before answering. “Robby, I think the Faerie gave you a gift that we thought was gone, possibly for good. The ability of a werewolf Healer. The ability to read auras is the first part. You can't fix something if you can't see it. Do you know what to do for Rose?”
Robby said, with absolute conviction, “Yes, I do. And I know what fixing it will do. It'll allow her to have children. She's only in her early fifties, for a werewolf that's not old, she could still be fertile for another ten or fifteen years.”
“Oh, Norm will love you, changing diapers at his age.” His grandfather chuckled and then more seriously, “The way that he and Rose love children, I think he'd be delighted. You know exactly what to do.”
Robby said, “Yes, granddad and its not even a serious problem, it's just a minor one. It'll only take about an hour.”
His grandfather said seriously, “When I told you that you're a werewolf Healer, that's exactly what I mean, Robby. You can fix problems that have to do with being a werewolf. That includes children of werewolves, who for some reason aren't changing when they should at two or three, or when they get old enough to control their change they can't do it. Since birth is so much a part of what makes us werewolves, you'll be able to help couples like Norm and Rose, so that they can have children. That doesn't mean you'll be able to solve all birth problems, some of them are caused by the human side of us. You won't be able to cure human illnesses that we are also susceptible to, like cancer or even the common cold. You'll have to test it out, Robby and see if that's what you are. If we're right, you know what that means, don't you?” his grandfather asked.
Robby nodded, though of course his grandfather couldn't see it, saying, “Yes, granddad, Elders will start sending people that they can't help, to me. As an Elder, I have an obligation to help. But if it's true, you tell the Elders to make darn sure it's a problem they can't deal with and that I can help with. I'm still a pre-teen and I also have an obligation to grow up as well and that means lots of rough play and school and everything else it means to be a werewolf kid.”
His granddad said reassuringly, “Even if you are what we suspect, you don't have to worry about a flood of patients. Two or three a week I think will be the norm. Test it and call me, Robby. I'll talk to you then.” and he hung up.
Robby hung up the phone and after putting on a T shirt and sneakers, he went to collect his little brothers and they played tackle football for a couple of hours. Teddy and Barry were one side and Robby was the other and the younger kids were winning. They were much better coordinated than human kids of seven and four and a half would be and they were far more durable.
Robby would tackle Teddy or Barry as hard as he would if it was Gary and they would just bounce up and continue playing. Other kids began showing up and the game changed from full tackle to tag football. A little before four-thirty Robby called the game and the other kids headed for home, while the three brothers headed inside for a bath and supper.
After supper, Robby had shooed Teddy and Barry up to their bedroom so he could have a serious talk with Rose and he knew just how to get her attention. She was sitting on the couch, doing some knitting, she hated to have idle hands.
Robby sat crosslegged on the floor, put his elbow on his thigh and chin on his hand and just stared at Rose. She ignored him at first but then she began to fidget under his gaze. Finally she put her knitting down and said, “All right you want to talk to me, talk and stop staring.”
Robby got to his feet, without using his hands and stood with hands clasped behind his back. He told her cheerfully, “Granddad thinks that the gift that the Faerie gave me, was that of Healing. Of Healing werewolf problems. Since I became an Elder, I've been able to see werewolf auras and the gift allows me to see them in much more detail." He explained gravely, "There is a darkness to your aura, Rose. You're not ill, but the darkness is what has prevented you from having children. I can remove the darkness if you give me permission. It's a minor problem but a normal Elder couldn't do anything about it. It will take about an hour. You'll know there's a difference, because you'll feel better.”
Rose looked at Robby, nibbling on her lower lip. She trusted him, so finally she nodded.
He said, “All right, lie down on the couch.” She did as instructed and he knelt beside it. His held his hands several inches above her body and began to move them toward her feet. He did that several times, until it felt right and he held his hands above her stomach, then went completely still, his eyes going blank.
She could see his face clearly and he didn't move for almost an hour, not even blinking. At long last his eyelids closed over his big green eyes, remaining shut for about thirty seconds, then when he opened them, life had returned to them. He grinned at her and he got to his feet easily. He should have had difficulty moving at first, having held such an awkward position for so long.
Robby offered his hand and when she took it, he helped her to sit up. He said, “The darkness is gone. How do you feel?”
“You're right, I do feel much better,” she said with wonder.
Robby said with amusement, “Well, I can't guarantee that I've fixed the problem, we'll have to wait for a few months to find out. Granddad said that Norm would kill me if he has to start changing diapers at his age, personally I think it'll do him good.” She giggled at the very thought and she felt a glow about herself that she hadn't felt since she was a teenager.
She gave him a hug, “Thank you, Robby, even if is doesn't work, I thank you for trying.”
Robby told her, “Well, if you want to thank me, stop hugging me, Teddy or Barry could come down at any moment and that would be embarrassing.” She pushed him back at arms length and he winked and grinned at her.
He knocked on the Wilson's door and Mrs. Wilson answered the door. “Come on in, Robby.” When he was inside she gave him a quick hug. “I'm glad to see you back. Maybe you can cheer Gary up.”
“What's wrong with him anyway, Mrs. Wilson?” Robby asked.
She told him with worry on her face, “We don't know, Robby. The doctor hasn't been able to find anything. The first time was close to the end of school on the twenty-fourth of May and after a few days he seemed fine. Just before you went to Florida, on the twenty-second of June, he got sick again and he's never really recovered.”
Robby had taken in the dates and he was very aware that both dates were just before a full moon, since Barry changed at that time. He wondered if it was coincidence. “All right to go up?" he asked.
“Sure, one thing the doctor is sure of is that whatever he has isn't contagious.” she told him.
Robby headed upstairs to a bedroom that was almost as familiar as his own. He entered Gary's room and his suspicions were confirmed immediately. Gary's had the aura of a werewolf, but a caged one and the reddish color didn't look healthy at all. Gary's face was much paler than would be normal for him. Usually he would be deeply tanned, but now not only was his face pale from lack of sun, but from illness.
Robby didn't stay long, not only was Gary not up to it, but he had to talk to his grandfather again and make some arrangements. He ran all the way home and he was relieved that both his mother and Paul's cars were in the driveway.
Hary was passing by the front door as he entered. Robby said absently, “Hi, Mom.” and then rushed up the stairs. She had seen the worried look on his face and followed him. When he went into her room, she realized that he wanted to use the phone and he wanted it to be private, or he would have used the one downstairs. She went back downstairs to join Paul, in the kitchen where he was finishing what was left of Rose's spaghetti.
After about ten minutes, she heard the thuds of Robby's sneakers on the stairs and then he came into the kitchen. He sat at the table and gave them a recap of his earlier talk with his granddad and his experiment on Rose and then he got to his visit with Gary.
Robby told them solemnly, “I went to see Gary and his Mom told me when he got sick, in both May and June it was just a couple of days before the full moon, this last time since the full moon, he's remained sick. I asked granddad as a Werewolf Historian, whether a child like Gary, who has such little werewolf blood could change. He said it was unusual, but it happened, every once in a while. A long time ago, when they had werewolf Healers, because only a Healer could help such a child successfully make the change. Elders have seen such children since that time. They could see they had an aura. Knowing the children had werewolf blood in their veins, they knew from the symptoms what was wrong. They couldn't do anything for them, they either outgrew it or they died.”
Robby said matter-of-factly, “Granddad said that as sick as Gary has gotten after only his second full moon, he probably wouldn't live very long. I need your help and Teddy's. First, we're going to have to convince Gary's parents that werewolves actually exist and Teddy's the least threatening of those of us who can change. Once he's demonstrated that werewolves do exist, I want Paul to show them that they in fact have werewolf blood in their veins. Then we're going to have to convince them to let me help Gary.
He explained, “And then I'm going to have to help Gary change and that's going to take a long time. I figure twelve to eighteen hours minimum, because first I'm going to have to help him alter his body so that it will accept the change and then teach him how to change. I'm going upstairs and put myself in a trance sleep to gather my power and tomorrow I'll need your help. We'll need to go over first thing in the morning. The full moon is approaching and the closer it gets the harder it will be, so this is the best time.” Robby cocked his head and smiled, “You're not protesting.”
Hary also smiled, telling him, “You didn't realize it, but you were speaking as an Elder. The Wilson's have been friends, and,” she grasped Paul's hand, “now relatives for a very long time, so we can miss a little work.”
“Thanks,” Robby whispered, worry showing on his face now. He got up and started to leave, then stopped in the doorway. He said, “Don't be surprised if you have to carry me home. I'll be all tapped out by that time.” and then he turned and headed up the stairs.
“Teddy, will you stop squirming, it's really uncomfortable.” Robby said to the puppy on his lap.
*I'm sorry, Robby, I'm just so 'cited. This is the first time you've included me in your Elder stuff.* said Teddy. Since it was less than a quarter of a mile from the Hansen-Wilson house to the Wilson house, it only took seconds before they were turning into the Wilson driveway. It was early, just before eight o'clock, since Fred Wilson left for work at eight-thirty and they wanted to talk to them both.
If they were surprised to see them, especially with a puppy in hand, the Wilson's didn't show it. They did show their surprise when Paul indicated that they wanted to have a serious discussion and suggested they go into the living room. When they were all seated,
*All right, Teddy, it's your time.* Robby told him and Teddy after about forty seconds of concentration was suddenly a boy, the Wilson's looked at each other in shock.
Robby said out loud this time, “All right, Paul, you're on.” And in a few seconds there was a big wolf sitting were Paul had been. Paul as a wolf had very distinctive markings and Fred stared at him, with an open mouth, “You?”
Paul changed back. He nodded, saying, “Yes, Fred, it was me.” He explained to the others, “Fred was only four when his mother was killed, in the same accident as my parents. Since he was so much younger, he had even more trouble accepting their deaths than I did. I started going into his room to comfort him, though I must admit it was a comfort for me as well. At first it was every night and then as our mutual grief relented somewhat, I began to show up at longer and longer intervals, until finally when I could see he didn't need me any more as a wolf, I finally stopped. As he grew older he thought of me more and more as a dream.”
“Why did you come forward now, Paul? I know there has to be a reason, you've always been somewhat secretive and I can see why, but why now?” asked Fred, recovering somewhat from seeing a childhood dream come to life.
Paul explained grimly, “Because Robby asked us all to come. Teddy to demonstrate that werewolves exist, me to show that you have werewolf blood in your veins. At our wedding, Robby was also made a werewolf Elder and they are our leaders, our lawgivers and if necessary the ones who hand out punishments.”
Paul gave a quick recap of what had happened with the Faerie and the gift that Robby had been given. He said soberly, “Elders have the ability to see werewolf auras, the Faerie's gift enhanced that, but that wasn't the gift’s primary purpose, it made him a werewolf Healer and there haven't been any of those in generations.”
Robby took up the tale, “A werewolf Healer can heal things that only involve the werewolf part of werewolves. One example is that I can tell that Mom is pregnant and that it's going to be a girl.”
Gail Wilson looked at Hary, who nodded, saying, “I'm pregnant and we're pretty sure from what my father-in-law says that Robby will be right, that it will be a girl.”
Robby took back the tale then, saying, “When you told me the dates that Gary got sick, that told me something, they were just before the full moon. Barry is still too young to control his change. From the time werewolf children are between two and half and three they start to change at every full moon. Between six and eight, they begin to control their own change and are no longer affected by the moon. Teddy started controlling his change just before Christmas.”
Robby told them, “Gary's sick because the werewolf blood in his veins is trying to make him change, when his body is not quite capable of doing it. For some it's a passing thing but when it hits as hard as it did to Gary, he'll get sicker and sicker and will die, unless something is done.”
Fred Wilson asked anxiously, “This Healing ability, that will let you help him?”
Robby nodded, telling him reassuringly, “Yes, while I can't alter his body for him, I can persuade his body to do the needed alterations, that will allow him to complete the change. Since he's almost twelve, he'll be able to control the change right away, though it'll take a few months before he can do it quickly. My granddad is a Werewolf Historian, he told me that he knows of cases where the person was in their late teens and learned to change with the help of Healers like me.”
Robby said seriously, “It won't be a short process, it'll take between twelve and eighteen hours, for his body to make the alterations. To learn how to change will only take a few minutes for someone his age.”
Fred and Gail looked at each other; since they knew and trusted everyone in the room it wasn't as hard a decision as Robby had feared it might be. They looked at Robby and nodded. He sighed with relief.
Robby told them, “You can watch if you wish, but it'll be very boring, I'll feel the energy flow of his body and when I locate its strongest point, I'll go into a trance and I won't move until I'm finished, nor will he and the first thing I want to do is go to the bathroom. I was too excited to go before we left home,” said Robby grinning at the Wilson's who couldn't help but smile back.
It was coming up on the twelfth hour mark and as Robby had said it was a pretty boring process for those watching. He had placed a chair next to the sleeping Gary and closing his eyes this time, since they had ached after he had finished with Rose the night before. Once he located the strongest point of the energy flow, he went into a trance and locked Gary into a trance as well. He had sat there without moving ever since, persuading Gary's body to make the needed changes.
It was almost at the fourteenth hour mark when he moved and opened his eyes. Gary got up on his elbows and the pasty look was fading from his face. As Robby had said it didn't take much time to learn how to change and within ten minutes, Gary was barking at the awesome feeling. Robby let him enjoy it for a little while but then he demanded that Gary start learning how to turn back into human form, with the force of an Elder behind it.
That took much longer, close to twenty minutes before Gary was a boy again. Robby enforced on Gary the knowledge that he shouldn't change unless he was at the Hansen-Wilson house, that after a few times he would be able to change completely on his own, but right now he needed supervision to help him change back.
Sure that Gary understood, he let himself relax and fell asleep in the chair immediately and as he had told his Mom and Paul, he had to be carried home. It took a couple of days of mostly sleep, before he was approaching normal.
A couple of months later an ecstatic Rose told them that she was pregnant, though Robby had known for almost a month. She asked him whether she should pick out a girls or a boys name. Robby looked at her, cocked his head to one side and grinned, “You're going to need one of each, Rose.”