A/N: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight. I just wanted to create a character worthy of Jacob and insert it into her world.
This is my first fic - though I have been thinking about it and working on it since this summer. Thank you to JDSK for agreeing to be my beta and for loving my Jacob (though she's not typically a Jacob fan). Thank you, too, to Angel/EdwardZukoRocks for introducing me to Twilight, fan fiction, and robsession.
It was time.
The sun had begun its descent toward nightfall and the shadows were already beginning to angle lower in the sky. This far north in the Canadian wilderness, not much else marked the passing of time as well as the shadows and the sun. It was generally always cold, sometimes wet, and sporadically evergreen. The seasons seemed to be snow and not-snow.
As the sun dipped lower still, the chill in the air grew more pronounced. It was definitely the tail end of another not-snow. It was time to go back. To go home.
Jacob stood on the rocky crest of a low mountain peak. The intermittent wind ruffled his russet fur. He'd seen two not-snow seasons fully through now. Two years. It was enough. He was tired of running and tired of being alone. Before he'd left, before so many things, he'd been an outgoing, happy, typical tangle of teenage hormones. He needed to be that again.
His pointed ears twitched and swiveled left at the sound of some small animal making its way home through the scruff of trees behind him. He surveyed the horizon and settled his gaze southwest. He estimated it would take a few weeks' travel to get to his cousin's house in British Columbia. Waiting for him there were clothes and money. An agreement he'd made when he'd last communicated with Leah about six months ago. His father could send a care package to Kamloops. When he was ready to make contact again, when his "spiritual quest," as his dad called it, was over, he could phase back there.
As the last rays of the day crashed into the crest of the mountain opposite his, Jacob threw back his head and let out a long, piercing howl of farewell.
Chapter 1 -First Sight
Maura's eyes hurt. Dry, red, gritty. The muscles in the sockets ached.
She'd been on watch for half the day today. Much longer than she'd ever planned. The morning drizzle had finally slacked off around noon, the sun burning off the last of the blanket of clouds that had hovered for days. Her shoes squished as she shifted her perch, and an unsuspecting flock of birds startled and hastily flew away. Maura had been so still. A characteristic of hers. The birds hadn't noticed her until she moved.
"Ugh. This place sucks." The Olympic Peninsula, Upstate Washington. How had she ended up here and for so long? Oh yeah. She planned this godforsaken trip.
She checked the view again, down into the woods through a clearing towards the La Push township - nothing. "Where are they? What do I think I saw? I sawit."
Crap! She was talking to herself. Again. Out loud.
"They didn't see me. I know they didn't. They have no clue they're being watched. Which is strange. They should." But they were not as aware of their surroundings as she thought they would be. They seemed distracted. They were "them," she was sure of it, though she had no concrete proof.
"Maura, you're crazy." She repeated his words back to herself. Mac. Her ex.
She shook her head to clear that image from her mind, and the raven strands that had escaped her ponytail whipped water into her face. "I'm soaked. I'm sitting here in Bumfuck, Washington stalking a band of tribal brothers - well, one girl - because I think they're…shape shifters…because…I don't know why." She stood and stretched her aching muscles. "Go home, Maura." She gathered her meager belongings - knapsack, water canteen, tarp, and blanket. It was early September. Wet and cool here in the forest between Forks and La Push.
Shape shifters. She had followed this crazy notion all the way from her semester abroad in Scotland after some drunken encounter with a fortune teller. A palm reader who told her a theory about the jagged, crooked life line on her right hand. She ditched college. She had driven Mac so far away. He was right. She was crazy.
But she found them. The Quileutes. And she had found them, too, almost immediately. During some annual end of summer festival in their tiny town. Obvious, really, if you were looking. If you wanted to see it. They moved as a unit, alternately playful as puppies or as intimidating as a pack of wolves. Surprisingly unguarded as they enjoyed this moment of celebration and the tourists it brought to their quiet town.
They never looked over. Never. But she was unable not to stare. To obsess. To memorize. To jump to an almost instinctual, unsubstantiated conclusion.
They were all so unusually tall, towering over the natives and tourists alike. Their height combined with beautiful reddish-brown skin and short, almost buzz-cut black hair made them striking, both individually and as a group. They definitely distinguished themselves from the crowd.
"Handsome, aren't they?" An older woman had observed her. She smiled at what must be just another tourist come to witness the native festivities. They had suddenly erupted in laughter, and the one girl punched the tallest one in the arm as she grudgingly smiled. "Rambunctious, too." The lady looked at them fondly. "Are you enjoying the festival?"
"Yes, ma'am." Maura smiled, barely able to tear her eyes from them to even be polite.
"The south? What brings you all the way here?" The lady easily caught Maura's southern drawl in her two word response.
Maura hesitated. "Um, backpacking? I've done part of Europe, so you know, the northwest US was next, I guess." Just then Maura noticed the group's mood shift slightly. With an almost imperceptible nod of his head, the tall one signaled his…pack. They'd given brief goodbyes to the others in their group and turned in unison, heading out of town towards the woods.
"Enjoy yourself. And there's a bonfire this weekend, if you're still in town." The friendly woman moved on, taking her place across the small town square to join those that had just been left behind.
In that second, Maura turned on her heels. She had to follow them. Why? This was beyond crazy. Quickly, she tried to trace what she'd seen of their path. She was fast, but they were much faster. They had vanished.
Something unnamed pulled her in a particular direction towards the woods, away from a more logical well-worn path to a small break in the tree line. Her heart was pounding in her chest. Her head began to hurt. "Not now," she thought. Not the awful migraine or the unexplained buzzing. Static, like when a TV or radio loses signal. She clutched her head in one hand and used the other to stuff her small bag into the front of her hoodie.
She crossed the tree line. Which way? And then, in an instant, she tripped over a root and landed in a tangle of underbrush. She caught her breath. "Shit, shit, shit. Don't move, don't breathe," she thought frantically. No, they had to be long gone. They wouldn't have heard her. And then -
A flash caught her eye. She didn't exhale. "Still, be still," she willed herself. That she could do. Except the static was getting louder and the throbbing in her temple raged. She wanted to scream. Instead she silently and slowly turned her head in the direction of the flash. Something shimmered. Wait. What? And then a soft snap and rustle of leaves, and another flash. This time of dark…fur?
Had she seen that? Had she just, almost, seen it? Them? The static was louder than it had ever been before. She'd noticed that change ever since she'd come here a few days ago. Stronger, louder. She let a soft gasp escape her lips and froze again. "Stillness," she willed herself again. Stillness was her gift. Something she could do incredibly, unexplainably well. It had scared her family so much when she was younger.
She remained still while the static and the pain raged. And then a piercing, skin tingling howl broke the quiet of the forest and momentarily cleared the torment in her head. And again, the howl. And then, answering calls.
Wolves! Shit. How close? She sprang up from the brush to make a run for it back to the safety of the town.
Wait…wolves? And so her watch began.
A/N: Please review!