Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the authors. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Note: Many thanks to Lakegirl for her excellent edits and suggestions!
Edward first saw the three boys as he and Emmett walked toward the car they'd left parked two days earlier. They had been arguing heatedly about the World Series, and he'd been ignoring the dull hum of thoughts in the unfamiliar Native American tongue for at least a mile before the boys came in to sight. But an abrupt, momentary shift to English caught his attention.
Bloodsuckers, a voice muttered before shifting back to the unfamiliar language.
Edward's head whipped up, and he briefly met the eyes of one of the boys, the leader he guessed. He noticed that all of the boys were unusually tall and gangly.
Emmett picked up on his tension: "What is it?" he asked.
"They know," he replied in a low, rapid voice.
He and Emmett had been hunting this weekend near Quileute lands. Unlike the area around their home in Hoquiam, the human population here was sparse and game was plentiful. In the ten times they had been to this region in recent months they hadn't had any trouble.
The insult uttered by the Quileute boy reminded Edward of something else from earlier that day. Several miles back, he had stopped to examine some unusual tracks. "That's no bear," Emmett had commented as he studied the large prints.
"No," Edward had replied curtly. "I think those are werewolf tracks."
Thinking about the tracks now, Edward began to suspect that they might well be connected to these Quileute boys. Carlisle had not wanted to settle too close to the Quileute lands, as some of the tribe's teenage boys had changed into werewolves as a result of his residence near Forks some years ago. He and Emmett remained motionless as the teens retreated further down the trail. Edward listened intently, but the boys' thoughts remained annoyingly outside his reach, in their native language.
Once the boys were out of sight, Edward and Emmett continued toward the car. Despite his preoccupation with what he had seen and heard that day, Edward smiled automatically as his new vehicle came into view. It was soon after Rosalie acquired her sleek—and utterly ridiculous—red convertible Duesenberg that he decided he wanted a Mercedes-Benz. He had spent several months in southern Germany test-driving different models before settling on the divine 540 K Cabriolet. He'd been driving the Mercedes for three months now and doubted he would ever tire of it.
When they arrived home, Edward recounted the day's events to a grave-looking Carlisle . He heaved a deep sigh and shook his head. "Esme, Rosalie," he called.
Carlisle waited until everyone was seated before he began. "I thought by settling here, further down the peninsula away from the Quileute lands, we wouldn't cause any problems with their boys. But, it seems I was wrong."
"So what do we do?" Esme asked in an agitated voice. She, more than any of the others, liked to be settled and always grew upset when her family had to move again.
Carlisle smiled reassuringly at her, but there was worry behind his eyes. "Well, I think we should talk to the tribal leaders, let them know that we mean no harm to their people. In fact, I should have thought to do so sooner."
Edward could see his father was concerned. "I'll go," he volunteered.
The next morning, after stopping at the small general store in La Push for directions, Edward pulled up in front of a small frame house. He saw the three boys from yesterday's hike lounging in chairs under a tree. He waved and called out, "I'm looking for Joseph Black. Is he at home, please?"
All three teens stared insolently at Edward. He was frustrated once again that their thoughts stayed strictly in Quileute. Finally, the one he'd pegged as their leader yesterday rose and gestured toward the small outbuilding behind the house, "My father is not at home, but you'll find my uncle there if you want to speak to him."
Edward nodded politely. "Thank you."
Before he could knock, he heard, "Come in; I've been expecting you."
Edward stepped through the door of what turned out to be a garage of sorts. Daniel Black, a tall, thin man was seated on a workbench. He looked up only brieflybefore returning his attention to the box of nuts and bolts in his lap. "If only I had some A3s," he muttered distractedly.
"My sister Rosalie might know where you could get them," Edward said quietly from the doorway.
A slow smile spread across Daniel Black's face as he looked at Edward. "Your sister?" He chuckled. "And how is it that your sister would know anything about bolts for a car's exhaust system?"
"My sister knows far more about repairing cars than my brother or myself."
"Is that so?" Daniel Black looked down again, his fingers turning through the parts in the box. This one is just as at ease with humans as his leader. That could throw Joseph off his game. At last, he sighed and looked up, "Well, you might ask your sister about some size A3 bolts; it's a 1923 Buick sedan." He motioned toward the only chair. "Take a seat if you wish. You're here to see my brother, I take it?"
Edward nodded and sat down. "My name is Edward Cullen. You must be Daniel Black." Sensing there would be no rebuff, he extended his hand, and the man reached out to shake it.
"That's right. May I ask what brings you here today, Mr. Cullen?" He gazed thoughtfully at Edward for a moment. It's too late, you know; our boys are already doomed.
"My family wishes me to convey our intentions regarding hunting in this vicinity," Edward replied in a measured tone.
Daniel Black resumed his work as he spoke. "The county game warden is a man by the name of Milton Gardiner; lives in Forks.
"Naturally, we abide by the game laws," Edward said. "But I'm here to speak to your brother about our . . . kills."
Don't you mean "prey," not "kills"? "I see." Daniel nodded. "You know, of course, that tribal lands are out of bounds to sporting hunters."
Edward changed course. "My brother and I came across some of your boys when we were returning to our car near your land yesterday. They seemed to have been out hunting too."
Daniel nodded. "That was my nephew Ephraim, and his friends Quil Ateara and Levi Uley. Those were the boys you saw when you drove up. They did do some . . . hunting over the weekend," he said carefully. Patrolling our lands to protect our people.
"Their weapons were not obvious to a casual observer and they didn't seem to have any luck with their hunt, but I daresay they are fine hunters nonetheless," Edward noted casually.
"And how did you and your brother fare with your hunt, Mr. Cullen? Did you return home with any meat for your family?" Daniel was staring fixedly at him, no longer feigning disinterest.
"Our weapons are likewise not obvious to a casual observer. And, like your nephew and his friends, we had a successful hunt but returned home without tangible evidence of our good fortune." Edward leaned forward. "My father has reason to believe that your people may remember him from some years back; he was living near Forks then, much closer to your lands."
"We remember him," Daniel replied tersely. Another lost generation of our boys.
"Then you may recall that he spoke with your tribal leader at that time about his own hunting habits. My family members all share my father's philosophy. We only hunt certain types of game. Our hunting habits pose no danger to your people…or to anyone else," he added pointedly.
Daniel met Edward's level gaze. "And why would your hunting habits be of any concern to my brother or myself?"
"My family leads a quiet life in Hoquiam. We are very happy there and aren't looking for any trouble. My father is a physician; my sister and brother and I attend the local high school."
"You look old enough to be getting out of school soon," Daniel interjected.
"In another year or so," Edward replied mildly.
"And will you and your brother be looking to get work at the paper mill in Aberdeen after you've finished school?"
"No, my mother is anxious to move closer to her family in Wisconsin, and I expect we will move on when we've completed our education," Edward replied.
"I see," Daniel paused, reflecting. "So, let me see if I have this right. You've come to assure us that our people would not be . . . affected . . . by your continued hunting in this vicinity, and you'd like to avoid any . . . unpleasant . . . questions from the locals here or nearer your home in Hoquiam." When Edward nodded, Daniel tilted his head and asked, "And what do we get in exchange for keeping our thoughts to ourselves?"
Edward chose his words carefully. "Your boys out there," he nodded in the direction of the front yard, "hunt in this area outside of your land as well. I think my family would prefer to come to some understanding about territorial boundaries. We wouldn't want a simple misunderstanding to become anything more than it needs to be."
"You're aware that the law guarantees our lands are off-limits to sporting huntsmen in any case," Daniel pointed out.
"Naturally," Edward replied smoothly. "But, if a disagreement occurred outside the bounds of your land, it's easy to see how matters could get out of hand. It might be best if we could all agree on some parameters going forward. Perhaps we could agree that my family is free to hunt on adjacent lands, without worrying about problems with your . . . people, or about, as you say, unpleasant questions, so long as my family stays off of Quileute lands."
"I think that might be something we could discuss," Daniel replied carefully. "Perhaps you'd like to bring your father to see my brother tomorrow. He should be back by mid-afternoon."
"We'll be here. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me, and if my sister has any of those A3 bolts you need, I'll bring them along," he said, smiling slightly.
He stood to leave when he saw Daniel's eyes go glassy, his body rigid. Hearing the man's thoughts, Edward moved quickly from confusion to understanding. Daniel Black must be one of the Quileutes with "second sight." Carlisle had mentioned that there was a seer in the tribe every so many generations. Edward remained quietly by the door and concentrated on the images in Daniel Black's head.
Oppressive clouds, a sudden wind whips the trees. A young woman stands on top of the craggy cliffs, looking down placidly at the churning water below, the rain of a violent storm beginning to fall. Her long dark hair whips across her face in the wind. She seems to be having a conversation and yet she is alone. She hesitates for the briefest second before she plunges off the edge.
Edward started to move, thinking it might be better to leave Daniel with his visions, but he stopped as the man was seized by a new image.
She stands alone on the edge of the outcropping. She is watching, a smile playing about her mouth, and then he is there too—the Cullen boy—wrapping one arm around her waist. They watch the waves for a time in silence and then he urges her back to safety, his hand in hers. Her expression as she turns is both content and yet wistful.
Daniel's body relaxed, though his eyes were now closed. "Bring your father to see my brother tomorrow," he repeated quietly.
"I'll do that, thank you," Edward said. Who was that girl? And what had he been doing with her? Shaken, he eased the door closed behind him.