After the knife throwing, the wolves didn't stay long. At first it was just Embry and Quil that left; leaving Jake and I sitting at the kitchen counter to continue talking. But as nice it was to sit with him, eventually, he too had to leave. It was hard, so hard to watch him go; though it was made easier – slightly – by his promise to return.
Tonight, he said. He wanted to show me something, he told me with a grin; a grin that made my curiosity sky rocket. He wouldn't tell me what it was though; it was a secret. His reply made me laugh softly at the role reversal, because I was usually one with the secrets; was still the one with secrets. But now he had some too, and I would have to wait to find out what they were.
And with that he had left; his lips brushing the gentlest kiss against my cheek as he did.
The kiss almost made it worthwhile to have him leave, because the feeling of my skin tingling from the contact was enthralling. But almost wasn't completely, and I was still sad to watch him leave; I always would be. It was better knowing he was coming back; knowing that if he could, he would have stayed.
But that did nothing, nothing to quell the slowly burning fire in my heart that was the knowledge that tomorrow, it wouldn't be him that was leaving; leaving, and not coming back.
I'd been trying not to think about it. There was no changing what had happen, so there was no point worrying about it. Plus, I couldn't afford to waste what time I had in despair. Yet despite my best efforts, my imminent departure was always in the back of my mind. With everything Jake did it was there, and unpleasant reminder that I was going to lose this; lose him.
Lose him, when because of something that happened almost 36 years ago, I never really had him to begin with.
I let out a quiet scream, curling in on myself at the sharp pain, breaking free of the arms that had held me. I hit the ground hard, but it barely even registered; I was too consumed by the agony that had ripped through me. Stabbing, again and again, feeling as if my stomach was being shredded, being yanked from my body. My breaths had stopped, my hands scrabbling at the ground for something, anything to alleviate it. I found myself crawling across the ground desperately, Cass's death almost forgotten as I found the relief I so wildly sought, throwing myself forward because for some unknown reason, heading in this direction was ever so slowly dimming the pain.
I must have crawled almost fifty metres before I collapsed on the ground, the pain so faint that I wasn't sure if it was real or me remembering it. Somehow I found the strength to roll onto my back, my weak arms groping at my stomach, expecting to find a gash, a wound, anything to explain the agony that had overtaken me.
Instead, I found nothing but smooth skin. Surprise once again stopping my breaths, I blinked the tears from my eyes so that I could validate that what my hands had found was true; there was nothing there. Nothing but my grey shirt, my lightly tanned stomach bare beneath it. I felt over my back as well, and still nothing. There was blood on my hands and legs, but that wasn't mine; my vision was again blurred with tears at the reminder. But I fought back the pain of Cass's passing, because there was something strange, so strange, going on; something I needed to find out.
'I- What-' I muttered in confusion, bewilderment and grief making my voice hoarse and uneven, surprise making me speak out loud, as if saying it would somehow explain it. It didn't, and I couldn't really say I had expected it to, so I was more than bit startled when a deep, masculine voice spoke through the trees.
'Interesting. That worked even better than I thought it would.' My head whipped to the side, my eyes immediately landing on the tall figure that stepped forwards. It took me a second to recognise the man as Leon, one of the four members of the wolf pack, and the only one who still phased on a somewhat regular basis. He had phased a few years later than the other three, with a more diluted bloodline, but was nether-the-less a shapeshifter, albeit not as strong. Because of my connection with Ephraim, I had seen Leon many times, so it was surprising that I hadn't known him at first. Usually, I would have identified him much easier, but the intrigued and considering expression he wore, and the slight malice in his eyes was so out of character that I was left stunned for several moments.
'Leon? I- What are you doing here?' I asked softly, confusion making my words quiet and slow. He stepped closer, and my brain suddenly made the connection, my eyes widening. 'You were the one that brought me here.' He nodded, but didn't explain.
'Why?' I asked brokenly, Aunt Cass's blood drenched body flashing before my eyes as I shuddered slightly, my hands clenching. Leon just shrugged.
'You were so upset. I thought it would be best to take you away.' Something seemed off about his words, but I couldn't pick it out; I was too busy shaking my head, staggering to my feet. Spinning in a slow circle as I oriented myself, I headed back in the direction I'd come from.
I'd left her. How could I have done that? I should be at her side now, but I wasn't. Guilt surged over me in a wave, my breaths hitching slightly.
'I have to get back. I should never have a left.' I murmured hurriedly and despondently, Leon all but forgotten, my mind once again consumed by grief for Cass.
However, I didn't get more than a few feet before I found myself once again crippled by the fierce pain that felt as if I was being speared through the belly. I fell against a nearby tree, groaning, my vision swimming with the pain, barely aware of my surroundings as Leon's warm hands once again took hold of me, pulling me back to where I'd collapsed after the first burst of pain. And just as it had last time, I was blissfully relieved to discover that the pain vanished, nothing but an unpleasant memory as I sagged against another tree.
'If I were you, I wouldn't try that again.' Leon said, his voice snapping me out of hazy confusion. I was bewildered, my eyes wide as I stared at him. What the hell was going on?
'I don't understand. What just happened?' I croaked, my throat dry and my voice shaky. It was then that his words fully sunk in, I straightened, fully facing him as I gave him a wary look. 'What do you mean, I shouldn't try to do that again? Do what?'
'Try and head back to La Push.' He said, his voice strangely cold and hard. I gave him an incredulous look, my stomach feeling strangely unsettled; I had a bad feeling about this.
'Back? We haven't left…' I said with confusion, but I trailed off at the end, glancing around as I spoke, and realising that we were, indeed, out of La Push. That is, if you counted being about three steps outside the border line as being 'out'.
'You took me to the border.' I half asked, half stated, my feeling of apprehension growing. He said nothing, instead staring at me with dark brown eyes. I'd never noticed before, but they held a spot of cruelness, and I shifted uncomfortably under his gaze.
'Why shouldn't I head back?' I questioned slowly, cautiously.
'Well, because you can't.' It made me shiver, how harsh and forbidding his statement was. 'You must have noticed what happened when you tried to do so just moments ago.' I felt my forehead crinkle in confusion.
'I still don't-'
'I fear the pain will only get worse the more you try, intensifying the further in you go. I suspect it would kill you before you got very far.' He said it so matter-of-factly that at first I couldn't believe the words that had come out of his mouth. But when they did sink in, I shook my head fiercely, the sick feeling in my stomach growing by leaps and bounds, seconds away from becoming panic.
'No. That can't be true. I have to go back.'
He laughed. He actually laughed. A deep, menacing, spine chilling chuckle, that made fear spike within me and caused my heart to race. But even more fearsome was the anticipatory, evil enjoyment on his face as he spoke again.
'I'm afraid I can't let you do that.' I was frozen against the tree trunk, so I had nowhere to move as he stepped closer. I belatedly realised that he'd been moving nearer and nearer with every sentence he spoke, but I'd been to ignorant to notice. My brain was still reeling, still burning with the image of Aunt Cass's body, the knowledge of her death making my mind slow.
'Why not?' I replied, my voice almost a whisper.
'Well, because I didn't go through all this to get the chance to kill you with my own hands, only to have you do it yourself.'
It was safe to say I was failing epicly in my aim to not think about tomorrow. Without Jake, my thoughts and memories were running rampant, and no matter what I did, I just couldn't seem to shake them. It wasn't just that Jake always seemed to know when I needed a distraction or a nudge to snap me out of my mind; it was that his very presence made it so much easier to not be consumed by them in the first place.
When I was out of La Push, I was so much more in control. I didn't have the nightmares, I didn't barely sleep from restlessness, and I didn't attack people in my sleep. I still remembered everything, of course. But the distance, being separate from of it all; it helped me keep it under control.
I liked being in control, needed to be in control. Since I'd first left La Push, I'd had only myself to rely on. There were others – friends, close and not so close – but they didn't know what I did. And even those who did; they couldn't help. There was only me; I was the only one strong enough, fast enough. I was supernatural, and stuck in a supernatural world; no one else stood a chance.
It hadn't always been this way. When I'd had the Pack, I hadn't been alone in being supernatural. I hadn't needed to worry. But things had changed, things had really, completely changed; worried and alone had become so, so familiar.
Until almost three days ago.
Supernatural beings had come back into my life; one in particular. One shape shifter that had made it clear how very alone I was, and reminded me how much I didn't want to be. But even more than that, Jake gave me back my control; he was my control. Because of him, I had been relaxed for first time on Quileute soil since I'd been banned from ever setting foot on it.
I needed him; needed him badly. Not just now, but always.
But he wasn't here now, and in the meantime, I knew I wanted to see; knew who I needed to talk to.
It was strange to walk up to the house, knowing that Thea wasn't inside. I was used to feeling the relief, the fulfilled need, that came every time I approached her inside the wooden house; yet instead I was walking only further away from her. But I kept walking, making my way up the steps and across the porch, because there was something I'd come here to do.
My knuckles rapped sharply on the wooden door, and I heard Thea's sister Sera gasp in surprise inside. And then I was waiting, waiting, waiting–
The door swung open, showing Sera standing there with a mixture of surprise and expectation as she recognised me.
'Jake.' She said. 'Usually I'd assume you were looking for Thea, but since I think we both know she's not here…' She trailed off, looking at me curiously. I had to grin at her perceptiveness.
'Actually, I wanted to talk to you.' I replied, and this time she didn't look surprised. Waving me into the house, she led me into the kitchen, and for the second time that day I claimed one of the stools at the bench.
'So should I take a guess about what you want to talk about?' She asked, as she started rummaging through one of the kitchen cupboards.
'I'm pretty sure you already know.' I replied, and she gave me a knowing look.
'Thea?' I nodded.
'How much do you know about her?' I asked. I already knew that Sera knew about the supernatural; half-vampires, shapeshifters, and that I had imprinted. But I wanted to know how much else there was; and how much I was missing.
'More than most.' Sera replied. 'More than you, I think. Though maybe not by much.' I perked up slightly at that; it was hard to judge sometimes how much I really knew about Thea, but by what Sera was saying, I wasn't doing too badly. Which was good, because I wanted to know her, needed to know her. Needed to know her so that she could be mine; mine to understand, mine to look after, mine to protect.
And it was that need that had brought me here.
'Do you know what she's been worried about the whole time she's been here?' I asked, and she stilled.
'Maybe.' She responded, with a hint of hesitance. 'Is that what you came to ask?' I shook my head.
'No.' Sera raised her eyebrows at that, her slight wariness disappearing. 'I'd rather hear it from her, not that I think you'd tell anyway.' I said, and she grinned.
'No, I wouldn't.' She replied. 'So what do you want to know?'
'I want to know if I need to be worried.' I asked, and again she paused, thinking over her answer. She gazed at me as she did, seeming to be searching for something; what, I had no idea. But eventually she sighed, so softly I almost didn't hear it, and gave me an answer.
'She's going to be okay, Jake. That's all I can say.'