Disclaimer: All recognizable characters and material belong to Stephenie Meyer.


Leah: Jake, if you don't hurry up, you'll be late for the Council.

Jake rolled his eyes - not an easy feat for a wolf - he had better things to do than sit in the Tribal Center's stuffy old room with Sam and a dozen elders; for starters, there was his imprint. He turned a fond gaze on a flash of bronze taking down a deer - Renesmee was turning out to be a fine hunter.

Leah: I'll make sure your imprint gets home safely. Just get a move on, Jake. I don't need to hear my mom moan about her interrupted Charlie time.

Jake: Quit nagging. I'm going, Leah.

Leah phased out - presumably to don one of her many sundresses - and Jake yipped at his Nessie to tell her that he was heading out.

"Bye, Jake," she'd ripped her mouth from the deer's jugular to give him a bloody farewell smile and voraciously returned to her meal once Jake had disappeared deeper into the woods. She knew he wouldn't leave her by herself for long. Renesmee sat back against the nearest tree once she'd had her fill and closed her eyes in concentration, trying to focus on the scents around her to determine which wolf Jake had sent for her.

"Hi, Leah."

"Hey, Ren. Looks like you're getting better with tracking, huh?"

"It helps when you're sniffing out the only female shifter - no one else smells anything like you."

"Learn to take a compliment, kid," Leah tried to ignore the only female shifter bit; she knew Renesmee hadn't meant to be hurtful but the reminder that she was still a freak among freaks (despite the fact that eleven more had phased to join the freakiness since Renesmee's birth) always did smart a bit. "Come on let's get you cleaned up or your Auntie Alice will have a conniption."

Renesmee stood and pouted down at her blood-splattered outfit and sighed, letting Leah lead her to the stream both supernatural girls could hear gurgling from miles away. Gingerly, Renesmee placed a hand on Leah's, asking for permission to show the wolf something with her gift. Leah paused before nodding - even after two years, the whole "vampires-with-gifts" thing still freaked her out; but, she had a bit of a soft spot for the little half-pyre.

"Go ahead," the moment the words escaped Leah's mouth, she was immersed in Renesmee's self-disappointment. "Ren, it's fine to be a messy eater. You can worry about etiquette when you stop being two."

"I'm not two, I'm six."

"Really? I'm pretty sure you were only born two years ago. If I recall correctly, I was there," Leah fought to control a repulsed shudder at the memory of what being there had entailed.

"Leah, you know what I mean!" Renesmee hissed, jumping angrily into the water and splashing around a bit. "I certainly don't look like a two-year-old. I don't have the mind of a two-year-old. I don't feel like a two-year-old!"

"So you're a little different," Leah shrugged, watching waves form as she swung her legs in the water, "but the fact of the matter is you're still two."

Renesmee sullenly ducked beneath the water, staying submerged for as long as she could. She let out a gust of breath, smiling at the swirl of bubbles that erupted around her before resurfacing like some sort of a swamp creature: Renesmee, the half-vamp Loch Ness monster. Leah silently chuckled at the thought.

"You ready to go home now, Ren?"

"I guess," Renesmee swam back to the shore and sighed as she looked down at her ruined clothes. It was a good thing Auntie Alice enjoyed shopping too much to care about what became of the things she purchased.

After leaving Renesme at the back door to the cottage where her family lived (although the term "lived" was relative being that the members of her family were more dead than alive) behind Casa de Cullen, Leah retraced her steps back to the deer Renesmee had feasted on. She thanked the deer for its sacrifice and prayed for the peace of its spirit in the realm of the dead before burying it. Disrobing and tying her dress loosely about her ankle, Leah phased and headed towards the La Push Tribal Center.

-EQUINOX-

"... and the program, if you are amenable, would begin this fall," Billy was finishing up his speech when Leah entered, making as little noise as possible. Jake turned, catching her eye.

She's fine (Renesmee waving from the cottage as Leah walked away) What's going on?

New job opportunity… I'll fill you in later.

"If they are amenable," Elder Strong swept a disdainful eye on the four wolves standing before the panel as he met Billy's authoritative glare with one of his own. "Who are they to speak for the youth of the tribe?"

"They are the Protectors - " Old Quil began.

"So let them protect - hunt Cold Ones or something. They really should have no say in matters of the Council -"

"As the protectors, the wolves - especially the alphas and betas act as honorary members of this council, but of course you are familiar with the old ways, so you already know that - don't you, Noah?" Sue's syrupy sweet tone had a biting edge to it that shut the other council member up; she smiled her satisfaction and gestured for Billy to continue.

"What do you think of the proposal?"

"This sounds like a great opportunity," the council - minus one certain member - was impressed by the maturity in Jake's tone, "please inform them that the Quileute look forward to connecting with their native brothers."

"I agree," Sam's tone was somewhat distracted. "Elders, I have something I would like to say," he paused, silent under their inquisitive gazes.

"Sam?"

The wolf in question looked about the room uncomfortably, pausing to give Leah an especially awkward glance that made both Clearwater women furrow their brows and look upon each other with questions dancing in their eyes.

"Sam," Old Quil's folding chair creaked beneath him as he shifted, using a wooden cane for support, "Go on ahead and spit it out, son."

"I," he called upon the power of the Alpha and stopped fidgeting like a nervous pup as he addressed the council, "Elders, my mate is pregnant again and I'd like to stop phasing so I can grow old with her and my pups."

Leah internally nodded to herself, so that's what the look was about. The man that should have been hers was having another baby that could have been hers with a woman that would have been her had things been different; had there been no such thing as supernatural creatures, and imprinting, and fiancee-stealing cousins, and she-wolves, and heart-attacks, and barren wombs. Leah ignored the concerned looks of her mother and alpha, instead of focusing on the clock mounted above the only window in the Tribal Center's conference room; the clock was only right twice a day - it had stopped working ages ago, but no one could be bothered to fix it.

"Let me be the first to congratulate you, Sam," Billy smiled a tired smile and Sam ducked his head deferentially, "but are you sure this is what you want? Are you sure you want to give up your wolf, your pack?"

"I think it was always meant to be this way. I was never really meant to be Alpha, just to usher in the new generation. I believe my purpose has been served and I would like to step down and let the rightful Alpha take his place," his eyes darted to Jake's surprised form and back to the council as he shifted uncomfortably.

"Very well, I believe the details should be handled by those of us who are more directly affected by the wolf hierarchy, so we'll leave those matters to you, but please be sure to keep us informed, hmm?"

The four wolves nodded and Billy's eyes swept across the room - he looked every bit the chief he was, even in his wheelchair.

"Was there anything else on the agenda? Yes, Noah."

Noah Strong opened his mouth to speak and a cacophony of howls rang out.

"New phase," Jake explained to the wide-eyed council, "likely Daniel Talltree; the betas can take care of him while we finish up here."

With one last respectful nod to the elders, Leah and Jared escaped from the Tribal Center via a backdoor that led straight into the woods where Judah Taxilit, the youngest member of Leah's pack, frantically tried to stuff himself into his clothes and run to the center

simultaneously.

"Leah!" her name was equal parts panic and relief on his tongue as he lost the struggle to hold his shape and burst into a white wolf.

Leah followed suit, tossing her silvery-gray wolf head as she demanded to be brought up to speed on the situation - and what a situation it was.

There were three - four - three - four voices in her head:

Judah: He won't stop phasing. This is not good. So not good. So not good. So not good.

Seth: Look, Leah, I have no idea who just phased, but it's definitely not Danny (the boy who'd been on wolf-watch sitting in his room doing homework)

Unknown Wolf: Mine. Mate. Protect. Mine. Mate. Protect. Mine. Mate. Protect. Mine...

Embry: I'm Embry

Unknown Wolf: Mine. Mate. Protect. Mine. Mate. Protect. Mine. Mate. Protect. Mine...

Embry: and you are?

Unknown Wolf: Mine. Mate. Protect. Mine. Mate. Protect. Mine. Mate. Protect. Mine...

Judah: So not good. So not good. So not good.

Embry: Leah, we have a problem

Leah: Thanks for the update, Sherlock. Jude, phase out. Seth, stay with Danny, but phase out. Embry, how close are you?

Embry: About 50 yards - he's growling, won't let me approach. Hey Leah, you realize Jude's naked?

Leah: Crap, hold on.

"Jude, wolf it to Billy's and then go home, and think silently, got it?"

"Got it," her order rolled over the younger wolf seamlessly and Jude and Leah phased back simultaneously.

Leah: Embry, I'm on my way. Can you tell me what exactly is going on?

Embry: I'm at the beach watching this guy (tall native kid) go nuts over his lost phone. All the

sudden he's vibrating and then - BAM!

Unknown Wolf: Mine. Mate. Protect. Mine. Mate. Protect. Mine. Mate. Protect. Mine...

Embry: - he phases. This girl (pretty native girl with long hair)

Unknown Wolf: Mine. Mate. Protect. Mine. Mate. Protect. Mine. Mate. Protect. Mine...

Embry: -sees and she's like "Holy Q'wati," and then, as she's fainting, in the millisecond her eyes are rolling back, BAM! - he imprints.

Unknown Wolf: Mine. Mate. Protect. Mine. Mate. Protect. Mine. Mate. Protect. Mine...

Embry: She falls on the ground, he phases human, sees me, phases wolf, growls, phases, and he's been doing that pretty much ever since (girl unconscious under man-wolf, constantly phasing between forms).

Unknown Wolf: Mine. Mate. Protect. Mine. Mate. Protect. Mine. Mate. Protect. Mine...

Danny: LIMIT AS N APPROACHES INFINITY! What the hell?! Mrs. Cameron, I will end you! Paws? Holy Q'wati - I've finally cracked. Oh my gosh. I am hallucinating! Calculus broke my brain.

Seth: Danny

Danny: And now I'm hearing voices! Oh my Q'wati. I am turning into Sybil. (The people, the people) What the -

Seth: Danny try to calm down. I am Seth, the legends are true, you are now one of the Quileute protectors.

Danny: (Mrs. Talltree's voice "Daniel, sweetie, are you - Holy Q'wati! It's a wolf! Richard get my gun!") Mom? Mom? It's me - Danny, your son. Mom?

Leah: Danny, go with Seth

Danny: Mom? Mommy? Help me.

Leah: Daniel Talltree, go with Seth. Seth get him out of there before she comes back! Embry, go help him.

Embry: Are you sure you don't need me to stay here?

Leah: I've got it covered. Hustle!

Embry: Yes, ma'am.

As Embry turned, he saw that Leah had phased and was making her way toward the new wolf and his imprint on all fours in human form, her back arched and her butt swaying with her movements. Embry couldn't help but let his eyes rove her body a second time.

Seth: Eyes to yourself, Embry!

Seth attempted a growl for Embry's benefit and the guilty wolf peeled his eyes from Leah as he galloped toward Seth and Danny.

Danny: Is that a tail? Come here! I want to play with you!

It was a dizzying sight, Embry wished that Danny would quit chasing his tail and was surprised when the cub actually did, sitting on his haunches and wagging his tail enthusiastically as he looked over at Seth with a goofy puppy grin, before taking off after a scent he'd caught. Embry bounded onto the scene, impeding the chase and Daniel whimpered as his rabbit scampered away.

Embry: Ben, sit down and listen. I am Embry Call and that is Seth Clearwater. (Danny conjured up the image of the two wolves' human forms and Embry sent out a wave of encouragement)Exactly. We - along with a number of other guys

Seth: and Leah

Embry: are the werewolf protectors of La Push.

Danny: Werewolf? But it's not a full moon...

Embry: Okay, so we're not exactly werewolves; technically, we're skinwalkers or shapeshifters - whatever term you'd prefer. Long story short, the legends are true and now the ancestors have chosen you to join us.

Danny: So... I'm not crazy?

Embry: No, you're not.

Danny: Can I unpoof, or am I stuck?

Embry: Unpoof?

Seth: I think he means phase.

Embry: Oh, right. Of course, you can phase back. We'll help you.

-EQUINOX-

Leah army crawled toward the trembling wolf who was hovering over his imprint at a pace that would've been slow for a human, and was thus, agonizingly slow for the she-wolf; but, there was nothing she wouldn't do for this wolf - or any other wolf - he was pack, and pack was everything. She lowered herself onto her belly and stared into the wolf's eyes; he whimpered and looked away, settling into his human form, still crouched over his imprint. Leah sat up slowly so as not to frighten the wolf who was making noises low in his throat and showing his teeth.

"Shh, I'm not gonna hurt you, little brother." her voice was barely a whisper, but she knew his supernatural abilities allowed him to hear every word.

The wolf phased human and kept his shape; he blinked like he was just waking from a fog.

"What just - how did I -"

"We're wolves - the ancestors have chosen us to protect La Push from the evils of the supernatural realm."

"But those are just legends."

"I used to think so, too," Leah's explanation was interrupted by the groanings of an imprint.

"Are you okay?" The new wolf was instantly in his imprint's face as her eyes blinked open slowly.

"I... I think so," she smiled shyly up at the boy whose face was hovering above her own; admiration quickly turned to abject horror as she realized that his face was not the only part of his anatomy available for her viewing pleasure.

"Oh my gosh, Aaron, you're naked!" she sat up quickly, her forehead narrowly avoiding his as she rushed to avert her eyes and instead found a nude she-wolf. "Leah! What kind of a freaky nudist cult ceremony-"

"So I'm guessing you don't remember what happened." Smirking with more amusement than she should have, Leah untied the dress hanging around her ankle and slipped it over her head.

"What happened?! Am I still a virgin?"

"You still have your clothes on, don't you?"

The new wolf - Aaron - growled a warning at Leah, who growled back menacingly. Aaron vibrated with an impending phase.

"Calm yourself, you don't want to hurt her. Take a few steps back," Leah nodded her approval when Aaron complied.

"Can someone tell me what's going on? Actually, I don't think I want to know. I'm just gonna go and you guys can have your freaky nudist pow wow or whatever," the girl slowly began to back away and found herself colliding with a warm wall of man.

"Don't go," Aaron pleaded, desperately grabbing her arm; the girl began to swoon and caught herself, tearing out of his arms and clapping her hands over her eyes.

"Don't touch me! Put some clothes on, Aaron! What is wrong with you?"

Aaron looked heartbroken. It was time for Leah to take the reigns again.

"Shut up for a moment, girlie."

"Andie," the imprint corrected sullenly.

"Aaron, there should be some shorts over by that tree," Leah pointed before going back to Andie. "Look he's a wolf, you're an imprint; he protects La Push from vampires and the two of you will be disgustingly in love for the rest of your lives and live happily ever after."

The imprinted couple wide-eyed and shell-shocked, looked from Leah to one another shyly. Leah sighed, she'd probably messed that up royally, but they seemed to be taking things well.

"You're probably burning with curiosity and I'd bet you're hungry, or at least you are," she gave Aaron a significant look. "We'll go to my house and eat something, hopefully, someone will be there who can answer any questions you might have. C'mon."


End Notes:

Okay, so I hope you enjoyed the first chapter. Please review!