Wednesday April 12th 2006
It was two days until my fifteenth birthday.
For the most part, I was excited, but deep down the coming date made me nervous. Birthdays for me usually meant Seth arriving bright and early, Logan creating a mammoth breakfast and my grandparents giving me presents just before we had to go to school. Seth was always there, ready and waiting, his eyes sparkling. My grandparents knew the relationship between us was special- even more so now- and that since Seth was my best friend, they were accustomed to him arriving at strange times of the day- and sometimes night.
This time it was different. Seth had to be out most nights on patrol and so we couldn't really talk about things. School work was getting heavier since it was exam season and surprise quizzes were inevitable. Some days he wasn't even in school and I looked out for Jacob and the others, hoping they'd come back. I didn't know how bad the danger was. I just knew that when the days Seth wasn't in school, something was going on.
"You gonna eat that?" Brady asked me at lunch, pointing to the home made sandwich made from last nights beef roast. I had been watching the 'pack' table- the table in which Jacob, Paul and Jared always sat at. It was near the windows, overlooking the playing field. Seth sat at it too, not able to sit next to Brady and Collin any more. Most times Seth and I would sit outside alone though, feeling their grazes on our backs.
My eyes flickered to Brady who was still chewing his own sandwich.
"No," I mumbled, pushing it over to him. His dark eyes traced a kind of sadness I knew all too well. Distance. Solitude. Collin was quiet, Gina sitting next to me and writing in her geometry book. My eyes wandered back to the table, remembering Jacob and his sadness, the distraught kind. Paul and Jared were like two peas in a pod, and then there was the quieter Embry who I knew was Jacobs friend. I had spent some time with them- there was the barbecue, and often, when Seth and I ventured to the beach, they would be there playing soccer. I'd see them on the edge of the lake in the evening, reminding me of my gentle protectors- the giant beasts. Seth would run up to them and they would vanish.
I saw little of Leah these days. Sometimes when I went to Seth's house she would be there- asleep in her room, reading a book on the couch. But when I arrived she silently drifted away into the yard, disappearing into the forest. I tried not to take it personally. She was very hard to like. Now I was sort of in awe of her. She was the only woman shape shifter. She was beautiful and strong, reminding me of Pocahontas in the Disney film. Of course, she never sang and spoke to trees. She was very lonely, and in that I emphasised with her.
Suddenly Gina slammed her book shut and looked at me. I could see boiling rage behind her eyes and she breathed sharply out.
"Evelyn, you know I love you, but come on. This is getting ridiculous. You're barely eating any more, looking lonely all the time, and whenever Seth is here- which isn't often- you hang onto him like he's your lifeline or something!" She shook her head. "Dude, what is going on with you? And what's going on with him? He barely looks at us any more."
My throat tightened and I winced, feeling my fingers begin to shake. "Y-you wouldn't understand."
She sighed. "I never understand you two. It's like you're always stuck in your own little world. I've never seen anything like it." She huffed.
Pressing my lips together I stood up from my seat, clutching my bag. "I'll see you later."
"Oh come on-"
"No, really." I turned on my heel, ignoring the faces of my other classmates and making my way to the library. The smell of dusty books and paper ebbed at my subconscious and I flopped down in a chair at the back, huddled in the books and in the quiet.
It felt like I should be mourning something. What was I losing? Was it reality? Was I stuck in my awe of the shape shifters so much that I was slowly losing myself?
After a while the bell rang and so I meandered to class, sitting in the same old seat in the back, the seat across from me ever vacant.
We ran through the forests like we were leaves fluttering in the wind. I was connected to the earth, not quite human but not quite animal either. I was something in between, and Evelyn was right. It was beautiful. It was something unique, something that could connect the two.
The others didn't think like I did. They weren't fascinated with this world and only thought of how to kill vampires. But I saw through that. I saw that this was a gift, and though I had lost my father, I felt like I gained something precious. I knew he would be proud of me for thinking like he would. Running through these forests, my brothers at my side, I was constantly reminded of when I did this as a child, Evelyn beside me. We would jump over boulders and sprint with our skinny legs, her cheeks flushed as we ran and ran and ran...
I yearned for her company, to see her bright eyes light up when she saw me, to get that burn-like feeling whenever I saw her. She was constantly on my mind and I wanted desperately for her to experience this. I wanted her by my side again.
A part of me missed being a child. Things were so much simpler then. I could be friends with who I liked, could talk to anyone about anything. But now I was in the pack, my friends were literally cut in half.
I didn't like to think of that. I was protecting them, and though they may never know of our secrets, they would live. And that was all we needed to do. To keep the tribe alive, for our precious blood to continue down the line.
We came to a halt at the top of a cliff overlooking the Olympic Park. The sky was still smothered with clouds, rain far away over the mountains, the lakes flat disks, the forests curling around them. I felt connected to it all. Right now as we stood on our paws, our energy fed into the ground. I knew I did not only keep the tribe alive. We were an important piece of nature. It wasn't vampires who were the top predators.
Well, I didn't like to think I was a predator. We hunted, of course, but we didn't enjoy it. Sam told me that most vampires loved to hunt, loved to kill their inferior.
Come on Seth. Embry called me and I turned, following them down the cliff, trailing scents, small animals creeping beneath our paws, flying in the sky above us, nestling in the bark. It was Embry, Jared and I, on the usual patrol, taking a day off school due to Sam wanting us to branch out. Embry and Jared conversed about various vampire scents they recognised as being the Cullen's. I stayed behind them, walking slower, my mind on Eve. How was she doing? Was she missing me?
Shut up Seth! Embry abruptly shouted and I scowled at him.
It gets annoying after a while. Embry sighed. She's at school bro. She's safe, dammit.
I know. But does that mean I can't worry?
To him, yes. Jared snickered. But I know the feeling.
He did know the feeling, I supposed. I had to listen to Jared constantly worry about Kim and it bugged me, too. But he had imprinted. That was normal. Me, well, I guess I was just obsessed.
Finally, I was allowed off to go to Evelyn's house. I was annoying Embry too much and he just wanted me gone. I moped a little on the way to her abode. What was so annoying about thinking of my best friend?
I came to a stop outside of her house, smelling her instantly, hearing her talk to her grandmother about her homework. I smiled to myself and quickly phased, dressing and running up to the front door.
I gobbled Jon's sweet potato shepherds pie. It was a staple in the Hund household and I couldn't get enough of it. Evelyn had heated some up for us and we ate at the breakfast bar, her grandmother doing the washing in the other room. Bread was baking in the oven and smelt wonderful and warm.
"Is there any more?" I asked, looking to her as I licked my fork. She had barely made a dent in hers.
Rolling her eyes she stood and took my plate, walking to the fridge and placing some more in. I grinned at her as she placed it in the microwave. She crossed her arms as it hummed, gazing to me.
"Thanks." I said. She smiled softly.
"'S okay. You need all the food you can get."
I chuckled and the microwave pinged. She brought it over to me, the pie steaming. She sat next to me, her legs swinging beneath her. We talked a little about school, me wandering what I had missed, her explaining quietly. She was very quiet and my mind buzzed as she ate silently.
Later, as I was preparing to go, she sat on the stairs and watched me carefully. I knew I was going to phase but I pulled my shoes and jumper on anyway. Glancing around to her, I saw something glimmer in her beautiful eyes. They connected with mine and I smiled, walking to her. She stood on the step and hugged me as tight as she could. Granted, it didn't feel like much, but I knew it was a lot for her. So I embraced her gently, my fingers brushing the ends of her hair. It was always so soft, curling slightly. It was longer than it once had been but she often tied it up, hiding the golden masses behind her pale and delicate face.
"Evelyn, we don't have to hide things any more." I murmured, pressing my cheek against hers. "You know everything now. Don't keep things from me. Please." I knew she was. I could read her too well.
She sniffed and pulled away from me. "I won't." She told me. "But you should go."
I huffed, frowning at her. "I should be in school tomorrow. You tell me then."
Her eyes flickered but she nodded, squeezing my hand and then beginning to walk up the stairs.
She glanced to me. "Yeah?"
"Make sure to look out your window." I winked and quickly scurried off before she could ask me what I meant.
Sprinting out of her house, the door closing behind me just as I reached the gate, I moved swiftly into the trees, using them as cover as I stripped and phased. I could hear her heart hammering and I knew she had ran up the stairs.
I moved to the spot I knew she could see me and looked up to her open window. She beamed at me and waved, and though I wanted to wave back, all I could do was huff. She smiled softly, folding her arms on the windowsill and gazing down to me with her pale eyes. They looked almost silver in the moonlight. I knew I couldn't stay long- in fact I could hear Sam calling me back- and so I listened to her heart beat one more time before drifting back into the woods.
The next day
I looked out for Evelyn as I came into the lunch room with Jacob. He had been telling me about last nights patrol and how Jared had killed a rabbit just by stepping on it. Accidentally of course, but that didn't make him laugh any less.
I spotted her outside, a beanie over her head and tendrils of her hair lifting in the wind. I smiled and left Jake, knowing we could have a good laugh about it together later. I liked him. He was like a big brother to me.
Fleetingly I moved past my old table, feeling Gina's eyes on me. I gripped the door handle and walked outside in the breezy air. I knew it must have been cold for her and so I sat next to her on the picnic bench. She looked up to me and smiled, tugging her coat closer to her.
"You okay?" I asked her.
"Cold." She mumbled. I grinned.
"I can remedy that." I took both of her small hands in mine. They were freezing shards of ice and so I rubbed them quickly. She sighed in relief.
"Your job certainly pays." She smiled. She seemed more like herself today and for that I couldn't be happier. "Okay, grandma made an extra Swiss cheese ham sandwich for you. D'ya want it?"
"Do I?" Her grandma made the best sandwiches. While her grandfather did all the heavy cooking, her grandmother dealt with the leftovers and most of the time gave them to me. We got a lasagne from them the other week which I knew Leah had sneaked a bite of. Or a few bites.
She got it out for me and we ate together in the coldness, keeping each other company when others did not. It was always the way with us.
"I'll tell you now." She said quietly, overlooking the field and the beach in the distance. I had hoping she would bring it up instead of me. I didn't like forcing information out of her. I just wanted her to be happier.
"Yesterday, Gina got... well, she got kind of angry at me." She said, looking to me. Her eyes were calm, still waters. I began to get lost in them and so I tried hard to listen to what she was saying. "She misses you. She misses us, really. They all do. I feel like I'm losing her..." she pressed her lips together and I glanced to the window, seeing Jacob was watching us. His face was emotionless, but we had been inside each other's heads. We knew that if we saw nothing in our brother's face, that was when they were thinking the most and trying the hardest to hide it.
This was the nature of the pack. You were cut off from your friends, your family, everyone. And when everyone thought you were no good, that you were the scruff off the boot, that was when you knew you weren't attracting any attention. They would be wary of you. They would leave you alone.
Evelyn was brave though. She stuck up for herself and our special friendship and found out because she had to. I knew I could no longer live without her. The other was inevitable.
"It's normal." I told her, looking away from Jacob and taking her cold palms again. "We will lose people, Eve, more people than we can bare, but it is for the good of the tribe. Of us."
She bit her lip and sighed. "Will it always be like this?"
"I... well, I hope not."
But I knew it would. I didn't have the heart to tell her that. I couldn't see her more broken than she already was.
Since it was her birthday tomorrow, I made it clear with Sam that I couldn't do much pack stuff. He understood, thankfully, and so I awaited her birthday with butterflies in my stomach.
She hadn't told me if we were doing anything, and I didn't suppose she wanted to do much now that we were classed as 'loners'. No zombie movie and pizza dinner like last year from what I could tell.
It was during this time of year, near the latter part of the semester, that she would become more secluded. I knew she would want to go to the grave yard tomorrow, if only for a little while. In two months would be yet another anniversary of her parent's deaths. I knew the pain now, the loss of hope, and I knew I could stand solidly by her side through it all.