It turned out Jake's motorbike was faster than mine, though not by much. But as we flew down the highway at about 150 km/h, it was hard to think about that; it was hard to think about anything. Anything but how wonderful it was to have Jake behind me, so warm and strong as the wind tore at us both. The adrenaline was incredible, so invigorating that I was almost sad when we headed back into La Push. But my excitement and curiosity was peaked almost as soon as it had fallen, because while the house we pulled up to was mine, the two men lazing at the front weren't familiar; or at least I thought they weren't.
I knew immediately that they were pack, not just because they looked like it, but because being imprinted on by Jake seemed to have given me a sixth sense and feeling about these kinds of things. Jake didn't look surprised to see them, which made wonder about why they were here; but that train of thought was gone less than a second later. Because once again, I was completely and utterly distracted by Jake's mouth once again brushing ever so slightly against my ear as he spoke.
'They insisted on coming to meet you, I hope you don't mind.' I shook my head at his softly spoken words. 'I think they're planning on interrogating you; I'm pretty good at hiding my thought from the pack, and it's annoying them.' That made me laugh.
'Is that why they were in the woods with you this morning?' I asked, and I turned my head to see Jake give me a surprised look.
'How did…' He started to ask, but I raised my eyebrows at him, and he stopped, shaking his head.
'Supernatural, remember?' I said with a grin, which he returned.
'How could I forget?'
It turned out I had been wrong about not being familiar with the two shapeshifters. Because while I had never met Embry, I had definitely met the other, and under less than friendly circumstances; he was the one I had encountered at the cemetery a few days ago.
Imagine my surprise when I found out his name was Quil. It was the same name as the man I had known as a little girl, the name of his great grandfather. It was bewildering, and I couldn't help but stare at him as a result; until Jake shook me out of it. However, my momentary shock and confusion had been enough to prompt questions about the incident, and I was left struggling to explain the strange occurrence. They found the idea of me knowing all of their ancestors strange enough that they didn't ask for details, which I was glad for. My childhood wasn't something I wanted to share.
And now here we were, sitting in the kitchen, me on the bar stool watching the three wolves devour half of Sera's pantry. It was impressive, really, how much they were eating; it had been a long time since I'd lived with a werewolf, and I'd forgotten just how big their appetites were. But while Jake and Embry seemed perfectly content as they ate, Quil was different. He had a thoughtful, unsure look on his face, despite now understanding what had happened in the cemetery; and I had pretty good idea why.
'You can ask me, you know.' I said, gazing at him as I said it. Embry was now giving me a surprised stare that said he had no idea what he meant, while Jake – who was sat just a half a metre away on the second bar stool – had followed my gaze, and seemed more curious than confused. Quil was now giving me a considering look, saying nothing; probably because he had no idea how to even phrase what he wanted to ask.
I shifted so that my left forearm was resting on the bench, the lightly tanned skinned smooth and unblemished, tapped it with my right hand.
'You want to know about this.' I said.
'You saw what happened?' Quil asked softly, and I nodded.
'Yes. But it's going to take some explaining.' I replied, and I paused for a moment as I debated how to start.
'What did you feel when you were attacking me?' I eventually asked. Quil gave me a strange look for a second before responding.
'It felt… wrong. Not just because you were half human and we weren't really sure if you were a threat, but because of something else. It felt…I don't know how to explain it.'
'It felt liking attack Pack.' Jake said softly, and I turned to give him a slightly surprised look. 'That's why I didn't notice you until you ran into me at the day-care; I was trying to figure out why I could smell Pack, when I knew none of my wolves near.' I nodded at that.
'Wait a second. How come you smelt like Pack when Jake hadn't imprinted on you yet?' Embry asked.
'Because I was already Pack.' Three blank faces stared back at me at my words, and I sighed as I struggled for an explanation.
'It's all because of something that happened with the last pack.' I started, and the three wolves perked up with interest.
'There was a lot of fighting between the council and the pack. Because the council is supposed to be in charge and make the decisions, but if the pack doesn't agree, it's obvious whose going to win if there's a fight. So the tribe started getting uneasy about it; they wanted to find a way to even out the scales.'
'But why? The Pack protects the tribe, they're not going to do anything to hurt it.' Quil said in confusion.
'That's from your point of view. But think about it from theirs; you guys have super strength; what if you decided to use that against the tribe to get what you want? Not that any of you would though; you don't abuse the power, because you're all good, decent guys. But not everyone is like that; I'm sure you can think of a few people you definitely wouldn't want to have that kind of power.'
'Anyway, the tribe wouldn't let the issue drop, and eventually the pack found a way to make it so that they couldn't just bully the council into doing what they wanted; they made everyone in the tribe part of the Pack.'
'What?' Embry exclaimed, staring at me as if I'd gone mad. 'They made them all wolves!?' I shook my head before he even finished speaking.
'No, definitely not. You don't have to be a wolf to be part of the Pack. The imprints are part of the pack, right? I don't see any of them phasing.'
'The imprints are pack because of the imprint bond. So eventually it occurred to someone that maybe there'd be more than one way to be bonded to the pack; and they were right.'
'So the tribe bonded themselves by blood to the alpha–'
'"Bonded by blood"? That doesn't sound good.' Quil said, a hint of alarm in his voice.
'Just a cut on the palm, a few words; nothing extreme.'
'Anyway, they were bonded by blood to the alpha. They weren't strong bonds, like the ones between pack mates and imprints, but they were enough. The tribe became part of the alpha's pack, and under his protection. And because of that, none of the wolves could hurt any member of the pack; or they would suffer the consequences.'
'Consequences?' Jake asked softly, his gaze strong and curious as he looked at me. I got the feeling he was getting a lot more out of this than the other two, connecting it up with other things I'd told him, because his eyes had a knowing glint.
'If the pack attacked any of the tribe, whatever harm they inflicted, they would receive themselves.'
'Which is why when I clawed your arm, I got the same three scratches as you did.' Quil said, sounding slightly stunned, his expression mirroring Embry's slightly dazed one. Jake though; Jake was different. I could tell he was thinking, thinking hard, his head tilted to the side slightly as he gazed at me.
'But how come that works for our pack? Shouldn't it had have died with the last pack?' Jake asked slowly.
'I thought it had. But I guess because you're a direct descendant it still works. The imprint might have had something to do with it too.' I mused, the four of us falling into a short silence as we all thought it over.
'How come we never knew about this til now?' Jake suddenly asked. 'None of that is in any of the legends I've heard.' I shrugged.
'I guess everyone just forgot about it. With all the problems between the pack and tribe solved, there was no reason to think about it much.'
'Hold on a second. You said the bond meant the wolves couldn't force the council to agree to anything, right?' Embry said.
'But what if the council decided on something the pack didn't agree to? They couldn't interfere then?' I shook my head.
'Being bonded to the Pack meant the tribe were loyal to the pack; they couldn't make decisions that would be bad for the pack, so there wasn't an issue.' The three wolves nodded at that, and after a short pause, it seemed they had run out of questions. Quil had gone back to rummaging through the cupboards; now that their questions had been answered, it appeared the wolves were hungry again. But as he opened the door to the cabinet under the sink, he paused.
'Why do you have a gun hidden under the sink?' Quil asked with disbelief, his shocked gaze meeting mine.
'Oh, that's not mine. That's Sera's.' Jake and Embry were staring at me now as well, the three of them looking even more surprised at my words.
'Why does your sister have a gun under the sink?' Jake questioned.
'Habit, I suppose.'
'Since when is it habit to keep guns hidden in the house?' He said incredulity.
'She was married to a policeman; I guess it rubbed off.'
'Was married?' Jake asked, having picked up on my use of the past tense.
'He died.' I said sadly.
I remembered it well. Luke had been a friend of mine; we'd worked in the same squad with the Seattle police force, which was how he met Sera. Their connection was instant; within a year he had proposed, a few months later they were married. A little over a year later they had Ani. And two years after that, he was shot during a night raid.
It had been awful, terrible. Policing was a dangerous job, but we had never imagined we would lose him. It had taken Sera over a year to recover, and even then she wasn't quite the same. That was the reason she had moved back here with Ani; too many memories were in Seattle, painful reminders of what she had lost. It was sad, so sad to think about, the melancholy consuming; until once again, I was jerked from my overwhelming emotions but Jake.
It seemed to be becoming a habit of his; to bring me back to the world when my thoughts had stolen me away. He kept me grounded; something I hadn't realised I'd needed until coming here. When I'd been living with Sera, it hadn't been so hard, but since I'd been back on my own, things had been different. Now, though; now things had changed again. Changed because of him.
'I'm sorry.' Jake said softly, his hand resting ever so gently on my knee as he spoke. It was the contact more than the words that chased away the sadness, and I gave him a small smile in thanks; one which he returned.
'Can you shoot with it?' Quil asked, indicating the cupboard beneath the sink.
'Yes.' I said, smiling slightly as his impressed look. 'But I don't usually use guns.'
'What do you use instead?' Embry asked. From their questions, I gathered that they knew about my work with the police; plus, they had assumed it was my gun, and not Sera's.
'Knives mostly.' I replied.
'You fight with them?' Jake asked, and I could tell he was thinking about the incident last night. I nodded.
'Yes. But I can throw them as well.' Embry whistle, impressed.
'Sweet. Are you any good?' Quil asked, and I laughed.
'Pretty good.' I replied. 'If you pass me one of those, I can show you.' I continued, indicating the knife rack on Jake's right. He easily plucked one from the set, pausing for a moment before handing it over to my waiting palm.
'It goes against the grain to give you a weapon.' He said softly, and I smiled.
'Does it help if I promise not to attack you with it again?' He laughed.
'No; it's not me I'm worried about.'
'Well, I haven't stabbed myself with one yet, so I think we're good.' I replied, and he grinned. Taking a tighter grip on the black handle, I felt the weight of the knife in my hand, judging its balance. The blade was about 20cm long, thin and silver. I twirled the knife in my fingers, feeling it move; before I gripped it tightly once more.
'This'll work.' I said, returning my attention to the wolves; they were watching me with fascination. 'So, pick something.'
'What?' Quil said, looking confused.
'Pick something for me to throw this at.' I expanded. The three men glanced around the room, searching for a target.
'The door?' Embry suggested, and I threw him a look.
'Pick something hard.' I said, and when they all just looked at me, I sighed. 'Ok, I'll pick something.' Letting go of the knife and reaching for the pen sitting on the bench top, I slid from the bar stool and strode over to the far wall. There, I marked a small black dot at about eye level, before heading back to sit at the bench.
'You're going to hit that?' Quil asked, sounding slightly dubious. From here, the dot was just barely visible.
'Yes.' I replied, and grabbing the knife again, I weighed it once more in my hand.
And then, in a lightning fast movement, I flung it at the wall.