Paul would always remember the first day he saw her.
Jacob and his friends were crashing a small bonfire on First Beach; Sam insisted that the three current wolves ensure that the three prospective ones don't mess anything up.
The younger boys weren't too close to phasing, Jacob just looked like he'd grown a few inches but Quil and Embry were continuing to bulk up. It looked like one of them would be phasing in the next few months at the earliest or the next two years at the latest. Paul wasn't too happy to spend his first real weekend off trailing around behind some dopey kids. However, he could understand why Sam was so obsessive about it; he and Jared couldn't spend ten minutes in Sam's head without feeling the soul crushing guilt surrounding the memories of Emily.
As the pack approached the fire, they saw it was surrounded by kids from Forks. The wolves sat down and easily joined the conversation. Paul was flirting with some girls while they batted their eyelashes and looked his body up and down. The girls were pleased for the company as their boys were off on a hike.
Paul laid back against one of the driftwood logs and closed his eyes. He felt the fire's heat flow through him, relaxing his tense muscles and he couldn't help the small smile that was drifting across his face. He could still hear the ocean crashing against the shore, despite the Forks kids shouting over each other. They all had something important to say and as they consumed more alcohol, their points lost sense but still they shouted over each other increasing in volume.
Paul grudgingly admitted to himself, this was pretty relaxing. It was better than sitting in his garage alone.
A slim girl, who had been desperately trying to get any male attention stood up suddenly and squawked a greeting to the returning hikers. Paul could hear a faint 'oof' and a feminine hiss of pain from the forest. It sounded like there was a girl on the hike. A very clumsy girl.
There was a gangly guy who looked like he was captain of the chess club sitting opposite Jacob; Paul faintly recalled his name to be Eric. Eric stood up and began introducing the hikers as they broke through the tree line.
"This is Mike and Jessica," he said gesturing to a blonde puffball and a tiny girl with wild curly hair. Eric continued introducing the guys until two girls finally broke through the treeline. "And finally there's Angela and Bella who are just coming now."
Paul looked up to see a tall, slender girl walking carefully and looking back to make sure her friend made it back in one piece. The final girl had her head firmly focussed on the ground in front of her. Paul assumed she was the one who fell over.
Paul stared at her with interest. Something about her made it impossible to look away. It looked like she had a curvy figure hidden under a black jacket, she was quite short with what looked like pale skin and a pretty face, however, it was hidden under a curtain of soft chocolate brown hair. Her fingers brushed through it and nervously tucked it behind her ear, as if it would hide things to trip over. Paul snorted quietly. This girl looked so small and fragile, but as she tripped over the sand, Paul could clearly see she was utterly graceless. This was Bella. Her face flushed when she noticed not only Paul staring at her but Jacob Black.
Bella looked up and smiled politely to Jacob, there was a flash of recognition across her features. She turned her smile to Paul.
When Bella's eyes met Paul's, his heart leapt and a surge of lightning flashed through him. Everything holding him to earth vanished and he felt weightless for a fraction of a second before the lightning in his chest shot out and wrapped invisible metal cables around Bella. She was what bound him to this planet now. They were connected and in that half a second of eye contact Paul was irreversibly changed.
Hmm. So that was imprinting.
Sam looked over with a knowing smile while in conversation with a group of kids about cliff diving.
Paul continued to watch Bella as she sat down on a driftwood log next to Jacob. Her brown eyes shone in the firelight. Her nose curved delicately over a pair of plump lips, the firelight danced over her face making her look like a goddess. She and Jacob rose to walk along the beach. Paul stared after her longingly.
They were gone for a while when a gust of wind blew Bella's scent over towards the wolves. They stiffened when her warm cinnamon scent was polluted by a subtle tang of vampire. Like a sugary bleach smell. This wasn't strong enough to really cause the other wolves much concern, but Paul stiffened before beginning to shake.
Sam, from his spot, nodded at Jared and he managed to move Paul away from the humans into the forest before he exploded into a silver wolf.
Paul was terrified and furious at the same time; one of the leeches in Forks had touched his girl. But, she wasn't his girl.
Since that night after the bonfire, Paul was a nervous wreck. His imprint was in Forks. He wasn't safe to go there in wolf form. He didn't even want to imprint and now this girl was in his head. Muddying up his thoughts.
Paul decided to leave it in the hands of the gods. If she came back to La Push then he would tell her and if she accepted the imprint then he would be beyond happy. If not, well that didn't bear thinking about.
Weeks passed since Paul had imprinted. He and Jared continued to go to school, they all continued to patrol. Jared soon imprinted on a girl in their history class, it was all sunshine and rainbows. Kim had been head over heels for Jared since they began school. She was welcomed into their little pack easily.
Jacob and his friends were still showing the early symptoms of the change but no one was concerned. Those kids were so happy, they were best friends and some of the easiest going teenagers on the reservation. They may not even change at all, that was the hope at least.
Paul wasn't suffering too much from the lack of contact with his imprint. He believed it was because she didn't need him. Since a wolf had to be what the imprint needed Paul assumed that Bella didn't possibly know she needed him.
The wolf boys all got on well and with their respective imprints, the pack was the perfect atypical family.
They had recently caught the scent of a trio of nomadic vampires heading into Cullen territory. Sam ordered Paul and Jared to keep their distance from the vampires and make sure La Push was safe. They left Quileute land without any contact with the wolves.
Not 3 days after the Nomads were gone; Paul was in his garage, fixing his motorbike. It was like any other day. He was feeling the dull ache of being away from his imprint, but Paul had begun to get used to that.
Out of nowhere, he collapsed to the ground roaring in pain. His head felt like it was splitting in two. Then his leg gave out from underneath him and his arm felt like it had been set on fire. He curled up in a ball on the ground roaring in agony, wishing to black out from the pain.
Warm arms wrapped around him and held him tightly, they rocked him gently while he roared and shuddered out of this mysterious agony.
As the pain eased Paul was able to groan out, "Bella."
The warm arms turned out to be Sam. He recognised the pain Paul felt from when he hurt Emily. The wolf felt the pain of the imprint as a form of punishment from the gods, for not protecting her.
"Is she alive?" Sam asked gently,
"Yes, but she's hurt. Bad. It's getting better now but I have to go to her." Paul gasped out.
"Go. Go now. Tell her the truth." Sam's voice took on the authoritative timbre of the Alpha.
Paul ran and he ran as fast as he could. It wasn't long until he was at Bella's house, slipping on his cut-offs. The stench of leech was unbearable here. It was like they were living here.
He was sneaking around the side of her house. Paul was trying to find any trace of her scent but it was faded; she hadn't been there for a while. Paul could hear Charlie on the phone to someone; he began to leave when Paul heard "Bella." Paul settled under the living room window to eavesdrop more easily.
"What do you mean she's in the hospital Renee?" Charlie said with his gruff voice barely louder than a terrified whisper.
The woman on the other end of the phone was telling Charlie what happened to Bella when he furiously interrupted her,
"What the hell? What do you mean Doctor Cullen is there? How the hell is she stupid enough to fall out of a two story window?!"
Paul's heart stopped. She was hanging out with the Cullens? Did they hurt her? Did they turn her? No, he knew that she was still human. He suspected the imprint would be severed if she became a vampire. Paul lost his control and exploded into his wolf. He crept back into the woods and began to pace.
There was a shimmer in his mind as Sam phased in.
She's with the Cullens? Where?
Bella is in Phoenix, in the hospital. Apparently she tripped and fell out of a two storey window.
Sam snorted. He knew Bella was clumsy but not that bad. The Cullens were hiding something.
Paul, come back to the Rez. If you want to patrol I won't stop you but I think you should sleep. It'll help you find out what happened to Bella, and if you can connect to her, your healing powers will make her recovery much more painless. I will call for a meeting with our neighbours to assess the state of the treaty. The spirits will show you what you need to see.
Yes sir. Paul may have some temper issues but he really respected his Alpha. He was supportive and sympathetic, Paul knew they were lucky Sam had phased first. He had the wisdom and maturity that made him a strong leader.
Paul went home and murmured a greeting at his father before curling up under the covers in his room. He fell asleep quickly and the spirits took him to Arizona.
He was in a hospital room, Bella was asleep and her usually pale skin was even whiter. One leg was wrapped in a thick cast, her other leg was just wrapped in a bandage. Paul could see her arm was wrapped up tightly too and her smell was different. She'd had a blood transfusion or two. Paul's spirit self rushed over to her bedside and tried to hold her.
When his spirit hands reached Bella, they sank into her skin and Paul was drawn into her memories of what had happened.
Paul saw Bella; she was playing baseball with the Cullens. They were in a muddy field during the thunderstorm. Everyone was smiling and it looked like they were all having fun. Vampires having fun, now that's an oxymoron. Out of nowhere the three nomads appeared and asked to join the game. Bella was leaving with Ginger Cullen when one nomad smelled she was human. Paul felt Bella's fear as she hid behind Ginger. The hunt had begun.
Paul saw Bella in a massive Jeep, he heard her demand to go home, to try and lead the vampire away from Charlie, to keep him safe. This time Paul felt her heartbreak as she crushed her dad. Charlie's eyes were filled with tears in Bella's memory. Paul's heart swelled with pride, this girl would do anything to make sure her father was safe.
Paul suddenly felt the Arizona heat as Bella's memory jumped. He was with Bella as two of the Cullens drove her to a motel. He was sitting next to her in the back seat of a nice Mercedes and Paul was desperately trying to comfort her despite knowing his effort was useless. This was just a memory. The Arizona scenery shot past, a blur of yellows and blue. Paul felt Bella's fear and anxiety, he ached to comfort her.
Like a skip of a record the scene had changed and Paul felt the tense atmosphere in the bland motel room, everyone was waiting for news on the nomad. The room was stuffy and dark. He could feel Bella's anxiety ease as one of the Cullens, the blonde who looked like he had seen too much of the world's darkness, sent waves of calm over her. Bella smiled shakily at him. Paul realised with a jolt that these vampires had special abilities. This one could affect emotions, and the woman with him began to have visions of the future. Bella noticed this and through her, Paul began to feel uneasy.
Bella turned to the Cullens and asked the man, Jasper, what the woman, Alice, had seen. The woman began sketching an image of the nomad in a room. Paul watched over Bella's shoulder. Bella recognised the image Alice was drawing. It was the ballet studio where she had taken lessons as a child. When Bella said this to her two body guards the memory shifted and Paul was sitting on the bed watching Bella pack her clothes into an inconspicuous black suitcase. Her phone began to ring and the caller ID said it was her mother. Since this was Bella's memory Paul could hear what the other voice was saying as clearly as if he was in the hotel room too. The vampire was threatening Bella's mother. He had her prisoner and he told Bella to ditch her bodyguards. When Bella agreed to meet him there was another sickening jolt and Paul was with Bella in the ballet studio the future teller had seen.
Paul watched helplessly as Bella found out she was tricked. He saw relief relax her face, she had accepted she was going to die so easily and she was happy her mother was safe. Paul growled when the vampire began taunting Bella and he threw her around the room. He felt her head split open and her ribs break. Paul roared with rage when he watched the vampire break her leg with a sickening crack. He watched as ginger Cullen raced in through the doors, swatting away the other vampire with one hand, he cradled Bella gently as he tried to jump out the window to save her. The other vampire grabbed ginger Cullen's foot and threw him and Bella back on the ground. A piece of a shattered mirror had severed a big artery in Bella's leg and she began bleeding profusely. The sadistic vampire smirked at Edward and bit into Bella's arm. She began screaming and writhing on the ground. That was it. The image of the vampire causing Bella that much pain made Paul so angry he phased.
He jerked awake into his room and turned his wolf eyes to what's left of his broken bed. Luckily his dad was in on the secret, this would have been difficult to cover up otherwise. Paul leapt out of the window in wolf form and ran deep into the forest. Sam and Jared phased in. They were both speechless at what Paul had experienced.
At least the Cullen's haven't broken the treaty. Good old Jared, the voice of optimism.
I can't phase back. I feel terrible, my imprint has been spending time with vampires and it almost got her killed. I couldn't protect her. I'm worse than those Cullens. Taha Aki is punishing me. Paul was whimpering with a paw over his snout.
Paul, this wasn't your fault. This was the Cullens responsibility, Sam began.
No. She is MY responsibility, look at the girl; she can't walk over sand without tripping up. I should have told her everything the night I imprinted. Paul was inconsolable and the other wolves were clueless as to help him.
Eventually Sam began to think in terms of what protects the tribe. Paul, Jared and I do not believe you have done anything wrong. Before you interrupt me, I understand your guilt. If you want to go wolf for a while and run patrols around La Push, I will explain your situation to your father and to the council.
Thank you, Sam. Paul turned and began to run, he ran all over La Push, he even followed the scent of the other Nomads as far as Canada. He ran and ran. He was hoping to run his guilt away. The rich green of the forest was a sickening blur as he flew between the trees. He glided along the pacific coast and he continued running until he passed out from exhaustion. Paul fell into a routine where he would sleep then he would start running again.
Soon that little while turned into a few months. The summer passed by and the forest slowed into its autumn routine. There were oranges and browns dispersed throughout the forest. Sam would check in with Paul every week, with tribal news. Soon Paul became more wolf than man. He relied on his instincts and became one with his forest. He didn't even attempt to phase into a man any more. Being the wolf had eased the pain of his imprint and the distance between them. Wolf feelings were easier to deal with than human ones. However, that didn't stop him sleeping in the woods beyond her house.
Just being close to her had eased the pain and his wolf was reassured that Bella was healing well. Ginger Cullen, or Edward, stayed in her room while she slept every night and Paul was ok with that. As long as he was protecting her, Paul could forgive his "life-challenged" disability.
It was mid-September when Paul was settling down for an afternoon nap behind Bella's house. It wasn't long until he heard her monster roll into the driveway. That truck looked stronger than most tanks. It was just missing a machine gun. He could smell Edward inside the house and he heard him sigh as he moved out to greet her.
Paul heard Edward ask Bella to go on a walk with him, of course she agreed. Bella sounded relieved, it didn't seem like they had spoken for a while. Paul followed their footsteps, or Bella's at least. She stomped on each twig in her way, hoping to avoid being tripped up. Paul was impressed, she didn't stumble once. Edward stopped when the house was still in view.
Paul could feel Bella get nervous. He watched as they discussed an incident at the Cullen house, and then Edward told Bella she wasn't good enough for him and his family. Paul let out a low growl, this girl was brave, selfless and she accepted the Cullens for who they were, not what they were. This leech didn't deserve her. Cullen pressed a kiss to her forehead and took off with that lightning speed his kind were known for.
Paul watched as Bella began tramping after Edward. She was calling his name and sobbing. Paul's heart broke for her. He could feel himself phasing into a man again.
A cool breeze drifted through the trees and shrubs. Paul looked down at his body and stopped himself running after her. He needed clothes, Bella would freak out if she saw him naked. He forced himself to phase again and took off towards La Push at full speed.
Jared was phased in already and he heard Paul's memories of Bella and Edward's conversation. He wisely stayed silent, only to direct Paul to the tree where the wolves kept spare cut-offs. Paul thanked him and told him to warn Sam. The elders needed to know that the Cullens were leaving.
Selfishly Paul was excited, he had the chance to win Bella over. First he had to make sure she was safe. Paul phased into a man again to tie his shorts around his calf, it was an alien sensation walking on two legs and he could honestly say he had missed it. Paul shook himself a little bit and began running in wolf form back to Forks. The sun had set in the time it had taken him to reach Bella's house.
Paul could see Charlie pacing on the phone in the kitchen. He was trying to arrange a search party to find Bella. She hadn't come home. The leech had really abandoned her.
With a snarl Paul pelted into the forest following Bella's scent. She followed the trail for a while and then her scent lead off through a clump of ferns. She was nowhere near Cullen's trail. God she walked far. Paul could smell her blood where she had tripped as he followed her route through the shrubs.
After about 6 miles into the woods Paul finally found her. She was curled up under a tree. Her face was stained with tears and her eyes looked vacantly at the moss in front of her.
Paul could feel himself become a man again and he slid his cut-offs on.
"Bella" Paul whispered.