MASSIVE DISCLAIMER: I own nothing. I am so small, and I have no money. There's tons of quotes pulled directly form the book for dialogue and stuff but the only way I'm writing a bibliography for this fic is with a gun to my head.
I've had like 70% of this story typed out for a long time and the first bit is finally okay enough for me to talk myself into publishing it. If you don't like the beginning half (which is mostly canon but in Jake's POV,) just know that I wrote it to better understand Jake's character. Consider the canon portion optional. The second half is where canon is thrown out the window, and it's like porn – you'll know it when ya see it. Plus I'll probably throw in an author's note. Any feedback whatsoever is greatly appreciated, but please try to be nice. Like I said, I am so small, and I have no money. I'm doing this for fun, and for anyone who, like me, was done dirty by smeyer.
The first time I caught sight of Bella Swan was on First Beach, when she came down in a group from Forks on the first nice day of the new year. The sun was out, turning the usually stormy gray sea into a light navy blue and glinting off the white-caps. The tide line rose up from the swells of heaving water and broke off into the rocky shore like a metronome. The familiar, steady beating kept me from following the fireside conversation closely. I was busy day-dreaming about being one of the birds floating along the brisk surging of cool, briny wind coming from the ocean. I would flap my wings until I could touch the bubbling mess of clouds circling the sun.
Rebecca had run off with her Samoan surfer on a day like this two years ago. Rachel had packed up her battered old station wagon with all her things and drove herself away not long after, waving out the window as she turned the corner. I hadn't seen either of them since. I was marveling at how much had changed since then, when both my sisters disappeared and left me alone to take care of Billy. I missed them more than I was bitter, though I would have liked to be mad.
What broke me from my reverie was one of the guys from Forks announcing the stragglers returning from the tide pools. A greasy-haired boy with a face like a slice of pepperoni pizza motioned to two girls, introducing the second one with the last name 'Swan.' That's what caught my attention, initially.
Charlie Swan was family, in a way. Billy had given him the rusty old Chevy – or, as I liked to call it, "the fossil on wheels," – for less than he had paid for it in the seventies. The girl must have been his daughter, so we sort of knew each other.
She was vaguely familiar, yet I couldn't place where I had seen her before. She looked nothing like Charlie; she had a heart-shaped face, eyes large and widely spaced, with a thin nose and prominent cheekbones. Her lips were too big to fit her slim jawline, and her dark eyebrows were straighter than they were arched. Yet, something about her reminded me of Forks' Chief of Police.
The more I watched her the more I realized it wasn't her physical appearance that reminded me of him, but rather her mannerisms that made them so similar. She sat quietly, gazing into the fire with dark chocolate brown eyes, eyebrows creating a small crease in the middle of her brow, just like Charlie while watching an engrossing sports game. When she smiled, the corners of her eyes crinkled in the same way I remembered on my Dad's best friend, the kind that lit up their whole face and made them look like younger versions of themselves.
I realized what her smile reminded me of. It was a vague memory, dulled by time and the fog of youth, somehow strong enough to stick around in my subconscious. Bella Swan was playing in the living room with my sisters, smiling politely, but the girls were too shy to become good friends with the strangely pale girl from Arizona. I was their little brother, and therefore obligated to be as annoying as possible, but Bella never seemed to mind. When I popped my head over the couch and asked if I could play with the Ken doll, that same smile lit up the young girl's face as she laughed and tossed it to me.
She sat next to another girl, both looking uncomfortable with eyes settled on them. A boy who I recognized as Mike Newton, whose parents owned a sporting goods store in town, offered them food as they rested next to the fire. He had a halo of golden brown hair settled over sky-blue eyes, with perfectly straight, white teeth. His eyes hovered over Charlie's daughter possessively, and I felt my heart sink.
Apparently, she was already spoken for.
Sam introduced the rest of us, and I thought I saw her eyes flash to me when he said my name, but it was probably wishful thinking. She ate in silence, though not uncomfortably; she seemed to be thinking very hard about something, like her mind was elsewhere.
As we ate, the clouds marched across the sky, blocking out the sun every now and then, their long shadows turning the waves inky black. The birds cawed at each other, getting ready for the impending rain.
The group thinned as people broke off in twos and threes. Soon, the beach was sprawling with activity. Couples walked down to the shoreline to put their toes in the sand and throw stones into the choppy water. Embry went with them to show off how many times he could make his rock skip before it finally plopped to the ocean floor. Quil wanted to go back to the tide pools, but the water would be too high to see anything cool, so I stayed. Mike ditched the group to visit the village's tourist trap gift shop, followed by a tiny girl whose height was mostly made up of a bad perm. She had been following him around all day like a neglected puppy. Some of the local kids went with them, probably heading home. The only people left who I knew were Sam and Jared, neither of which were able to hold my undivided attention.
I noticed Bella sitting alone after Mike and his stalker left. Maybe she wasn't already spoken for.
She must have noticed me psyching myself up to sit next to her, because her eyes sized me up apprehensively. I wondered if she was comparing me to Mike, who was obviously older, and seemed the popular type – not a fair comparison, in my opinion.
"You're Isabella Swan, aren't you?" I asked, trying to break the ice.
"Bella," she sighed, looking disappointed.
"I'm Jacob Black," I said, holding out my hand for her to shake. "You bought my dad's truck."
Her eyes lit up in recognition and a relieved smile stretched across her face. "Oh," she replied, shaking my hand. Her fingers were cool and smooth against mine. "You're Billy's son. I probably should remember you."
"No, I'm the youngest of the family – you would remember my older sisters."
"Rachel and Rebecca," she exclaimed, voice rising an octave. Her eyes scanned the girls at the ocean's edge. "Are they here?"
"No," I chuckled at the idea of hanging out with my sisters, shaking my head. "Rachel got a scholarship to Washington State, and Rebecca married a Samoan surfer – she lives in Hawaii now."
"Married. Wow." Her voice was stunned, mouth hanging open.
That was the moment I realized Bella Swan could never lie – her thoughts were practically written on her face, changing from moment to moment, as ever-turning as the tide. She was an open book, pages flipping in the wind, and I was surprised by how much I liked reading the emotions as they flicked across her features.
"So how do you like the truck?" I winced. I had not made my own distaste for that rusted pile of junk a secret, and now I felt sort of guilty for giving it to this unsuspecting girl with such open, honest eyes.
To my surprise, her smile brightened. "I love it. It runs great."
"Yeah," I laughed, fighting against the urge to roll my eyes. "But it's really slow. I was so relieved when Charlie bought it. My dad wouldn't let me work on building another car when we had a perfectly good vehicle right there."
"It's not that slow," she objected, her chin jutting out stubbornly.
"Have you tried to go over sixty?"
"No," she admitted, a blush coloring her cheeks.
"Good. Don't." I warned, grinning.
She grinned back easily, the same kind of smile that crinkled her eyes and made dimples in her cheeks. "It does great in a collision," she offered in the truck's defense.
"I don't think a tank could take out that old monster," I agreed with another laugh.
"So you build cars?" She asked, looking impressed.
"When I have free time, and parts. You wouldn't happen to know where I could get my hands on a master cylinder for a 1986 Volkswagen Rabbit?" I added jokingly, on the very off chance that she would know what that was.
"Sorry," she laughed, "I haven't seen any lately, but I'll keep my eyes open for you."
I flashed her a smile, eyes appraising. She was pretty, but not overtly. It was a quiet, modest sort of beauty, the kind your eyes could slide over and not notice if you weren't looking close enough. Now that I was very close, I saw her eyes flash intuitively under my gaze, like she recognized something there.
"You know Bella, Jacob?" Someone asked from across the fire.
I looked over to see a blonde girl from Forks sitting next to a dark-skinned boy, watching us with jealous eyes. The girl was probably pretty, but I wasn't focused on her. The boy sitting next to her was watching Bella with the same possessive stare Mike had, and I sensed a pissing contest in the works.
"We've sort of known each other since I was born," I laughed, smiling at Bella again when the guy's eyes narrowed.
"How nice." The girl said in an icy tone. Her eyes, which were practically translucent in the light from the fire, narrowed slightly.
"Bella," she called again, voice deceptively innocent, "I was just saying to Tyler that it was too bad none of the Cullens could come out today. Didn't anyone think to invite them?" Her voice rose two octaves by the end, a knowing smile twitching her lips up.
"You mean Dr. Carlisle Cullen's family?" Sam asked before anyone else could respond, much to the girl's irritation.
"Yes, do you know them?" she asked condescendingly, turning halfway toward him but not meeting his gaze.
"The Cullens don't come here," he replied in a tone that closed the subject, ignoring her question.
The boy tried to win back the girl's attention by asking her opinion on a CD he held. She turned back to him, thoroughly sidetracked, and began talking too fast for me to understand.
Bella stared at Sam. Her eyes were focused, calculating, working on a problem. I should have known she would see right through Sam's dismissive tone to the implication behind it. Sam was looking into the dark forest behind us, his hands trembling.
I tried to distract her from Sam's odd behavior. "So, is Forks driving you insane yet?"
"Oh, I'd say that's an understatement," she replied, a grimace twisting up her nose.
I grinned in understanding, happy that my diversion had worked. I was about to ask her another question when her ears perked up, and I saw an idea click into place like flicking on a light switch.
"Do you want to walk down the beach with me?" She asked, looking up at me from underneath her eyelashes. Her eyes were wide, innocent, and so easy to read. I was drawn in, eager to learn more about her, so I jumped at the opportunity to talk with her alone.
We walked north, across the multihued stones, toward the driftwood seawall. The clouds swirled to a close above us, like a door sealing us off from the sky. The sea turned its usual dark cobalt, churning in the harsh, biting wind. Walking away from the low fire, it felt like we were leaving the real world behind us, entering an atmosphere of impending rain. The beach and it's accommodations dropped away, leaving only the shore being battered by the sea, the seagulls circling overhead, pelicans calling out to each other, the caw of a hawk – life was in full view around us, transitioning from the sunny morning into a stormy afternoon.
"So you're, what, sixteen?" She asked, eyelids fluttering up to me and then quickly looking down in embarrassment. A blush, red and vibrant in contrast to the wet sky, bloomed on her cheek.
"I just turned fifteen," I admitted, feeling very smug.
"Really?" She gasped, eyes widening in shock. "I would have thought you were older," she admonished.
"I'm tall for my age." I had just started a growth spurt, and the growing pains were finally starting to seem worth something.
"Do you come up to Forks much?" She asked pointedly, arching her eyebrows up to me.
"Not too much," I said before I could help it. Frowning, I added, "But when I get my car finished I can go up as much as I want – after I get my license," I tacked that part on at the end, hoping she wouldn't pay attention to it.
"Who was that other boy Lauren was talking to?" She asked, changing the subject. "He seemed a little old to be hanging out with us."
"That's Sam — he's nineteen," I told her, beaming from ear to ear at her casual use of the inclusive plural.
"What was that he was saying about the doctor's family?" She inquired, stuffing her hands further into her pockets.
"The Cullens?" Of course, she had probably noticed them and wondered what their deal was. I had been curious, too, before I asked Billy and got the whole spiel. "Oh, they're not supposed to come onto the reservation." I looked away, out toward James Island, reluctant.
I glanced back at her, biting my lip. "Oops. I'm not supposed to say anything about that."
"Oh, I won't tell anyone, I'm just curious." Her smile was alluring, and the pressure bearing down on us from the clouds made me feel like we had crossed over to a world with no one else in it, no expectations or rules – a world where she might want me, too.
"Do you like scary stories?" I asked, trying to make my voice ominous. Billy was a gifted storyteller, and I had spent years listening to him, so I knew the basics, but I wasn't sure if I would be able to pull her in the same way he managed to suck someone down into his narration, like you were living it in real time.
"I love them," she enthused, eyes wide and sincere.
I lumbered over to a nearby driftwood tree, lodged in the sand with its roots sticking out like lightning strikes across the sky. I sat on one of the twisted roots, motioning for her to sit on the exposed body of the tree. I stared down at the rocks, encouraged by her enthusiasm for the story, trying to remember exactly how Billy did it. The inflection in his voice, the haunting rumble of his throat, the magic he worked on his listeners; I was pretty sure I could mimic his strategy.
"Do you know any of our old stories, about where we came from – the Quileutes, I mean?" I began, trying not to smirk.
This was gonna be good.
"Not really," she confessed, eyelashes fluttering against her flushed cheeks as she glanced down.
"Well, there are lots of legends, some of them claiming to date back to the Flood – supposedly, the ancient Quileutes tied their canoes to the tops of the tallest trees on the mountain to survive like Noah and the ark." I smiled. "Another legend claims that we descended from wolves – and that the wolves are our brothers still. It's against tribal law to kill them."
My voice dropped lower, taking on a sinister edge. "Then there are the stories about the cold ones."
"The cold ones?" She asked, genuine intrigue dripping from her tongue.
"Yes. There are stories of the cold ones as old as the wolf legends, and some much more recent. According to legend, my own great-grandfather knew some of them. He was the one who made the treaty that kept them off our land." I rolled my eyes in an effort to distance myself from all the superstitious mumbo-jumbo.
"Your great-grandfather?" She pressed, urging me to continue.
"He was a tribal elder, like my father. You see, the cold ones are the natural enemies of the wolf – well, not the wolf, really, the wolves that turn into men, like our ancestors. You would call them werewolves."
"Werewolves have enemies?"
She stared at me, eyes sober and impatient, begging me to continue.
"So you see," I continued, words driven faster by her sudden seriousness, "the cold ones are traditionally our enemies. But this pack that came to our territory during my great-grandfather's time was different. They didn't hunt the way others of their kind did – they weren't supposed to be dangerous to the tribe. So my great-grandfather made a truce with them. If they would promise to stay off our lands, we wouldn't expose them to the pale-faces." I winked, eyeing her ivory skin.
"If they weren't dangerous, then why… ?" She trailed off, looking confused. From the look on her face, she was taking this story really seriously. I was momentarily impressed with myself.
"There's always a risk for humans to be around the cold ones, even if they're civilized like this clan was. You never know when they might get too hungry to resist." I deliberately worked a thick edge of menace into my tone.
"What do you mean, 'civilized'?"
"They claimed that they didn't hunt humans. They supposedly were somehow able to prey on animals instead." I kept my voice casual. This wasn't the good part of the story.
"So how does it fit in with the Cullens? Are they like the cold ones your great-grandfather met?"
"No." I paused dramatically. "They are the same ones."
Her face contorted with fear, shocked and real, and I smiled. It would be impossible for a seasoned performer to fake that sort of horror, and Bella was no actress. I was willing to bet she wouldn't be able to lie if her life depended on it.
"There are more of them now, a new female and a new male, but the rest are the same. In my great-grandfather's time they already knew of the leader, Carlisle. He'd been here and gone before your people had even arrived." I was fighting a smile, trying not laugh at how scared she was.
"And what are they?" She finally asked, sounding strained. "What are the cold ones?"
I smiled darkly. "Blood drinkers," I replied, watching her shiver from my voice. "Your people call them vampires."
For a moment, there was a flash of something I didn't understand in her eyes – but then she turned away, staring out at the water as it lapped against the tide.
I felt bad for a second, wondering if I had laid it on a bit too thick. After all, the Cullens were real people, and they probably wouldn't like the local gossip.
"You have goose bumps," I laughed delightedly, trying to diffuse the tense atmosphere.
"You're a good storyteller," she said distantly, still staring into the water like it was trying to drag her in.
"Pretty crazy stuff though, isn't it?" I continued, trying to bring her back to the beach. I sensed she was elsewhere, turning something over in her head. "No wonder my dad doesn't want us to talk about it to anyone."
"Don't worry, I won't give you away."
She was still staring into the ocean, cutting me off from whatever reaction she was having. Was it that bad?
"I guess I just violated the treaty," I laughed nervously.
"I'll take it to the grave," she promised, then shivered.
I was beginning to regret saying anything. "Seriously, though, don't say anything to Charlie. He was pretty mad at my dad when he heard that some of us weren't going to the hospital since Dr. Cullen started working there."
"I won't, of course not."
"So do you think we're a bunch of superstitious natives or what?" I tried to keep my tone playful, but there was an underlying hint of worry. She still hadn't looked away from the water.
She turned her head and smiled at me gratefully, but her eyes were hard and guarded. "No. I think you're very good at telling scary stories, though. I still have goose bumps, see?" She held up her arm to show me the raised skin.
"Cool." I smiled.
Then the sound of rocks clattering underneath expensive boots announced the arrival of Mike Newton and his shadow. They were fifty yards away, walking over to us. Mike looked determined and worried. The girl following him looked angry, her nose twisted up in disdain.
"There you are, Bella," he called in relief, waving his arm like a teacher's pet with the answer to a question.
"Is that your boyfriend?" I asked, trying to disguise the jealousy in my voice.
"No, definitely not," she whispered, leaning in closer to me. She carefully turned away from Mike and winked at me.
I couldn't help but beam down at her, eyes half-closed in admiration. Now that I was really paying attention, it seemed like her beauty wasn't so subtle at all. In fact, it glowed from her face with a pink blush, giving color to her pale skin. Her eyes glittered beneath a frame of long lashes, lips twisted in a conspiratorial smirk. I understood now the possessiveness of Mike and Tyler, coveting her expressive eyes for themselves.
"So, when I get my license…" I trailed off, wondering if it would be too much to reach out and take her hand.
"You should come see me in Forks. We could hang out sometime." She smiled again, this time seeming happy at the idea of spending more time with me.
Mike – and the girl who looked like a poodle who kept getting hit with a rolled up newspaper – had made it over to us. He sized me up with a quick once-over and looked back to Bella, satisfied with my frustrated expression.
"Where have you been?" he asked, addressing her as if I wasn't standing right there staring daggers at him.
"Jacob was just telling me some local stories," Bella explained. "It was really interesting."
She smiled over to me warmly, and I grinned back, pleased by her obvious preference.
"Well," Mike paused, running his eyes over me again, and I recognized the jealousy in his voice. "We're packing up — it looks like it's going to rain soon."
The white kids had just picked up on the changing weather, and I heaved a sigh. Bella had come with the sun, and now she was leaving with it.
"Okay," she chirped, jumping up from the ground unsteadily. "I'm coming," she assured, catching her balance on one of the gnarled roots of the driftwood tree.
"It was nice to see you again," I said, taunting Mike.
"It really was," she sighed, smiling up at me with reverent eyes. "Next time Charlie comes down to see Billy, I'll come, too." She promised.
My grin felt like it went all the way across my face. "That would be cool," I replied, trying to sound casual, as if this wasn't the understatement of the century.
"And thanks," she added seriously, giving me a meaningful look before pulling up her hood.
We hiked across the rocks toward the parking lot. The skies were bursting at the seams, allowing a few raindrops here and there to spill over. They were loading all of their stuff into the back of a big white Suburban. I watched Bella crawl into the backseat while I returned to Sam, lost in a new daydream.