Twilight and its three and two half sequels are the creation of Stephenie Meyer. This story is fanfiction based on characters, settings and concepts from Twilight, its four sequels and the first half of Midnight Sun, all of which are the creation of Stephenie Meyer. No party other than the submitting author may alter this work in any way other than font size and other reasonable accommodations to formatting.
I would like to thank TrillionSchiffer for some hardcore, get-your-wrists-dirty beta-ality on this chapter and following, but ...due to something drastic, I would like a third opinion on something story-level. Any takers?
Fanfiction or not, done exclusively for fun or not, I try to research things when I can. Vampires aren't real but Stockholm syndrome is. Right when I was starting this story, I'd gone looking for a book about Japanese people kidnapped by North Korea in the 1970s. I thought it would make a good parallel. I didn't find one until late last year, The Invitation-only Zone, by Robert Boynton. The biggest difference was that the North Koreans would capture couples in pairs (often from seaside makeout points), separate them, tell each one that the other had been set free in Japan, and then keep them in isolation for a year and a half to break them down psychologically. Then one day they'd be called to "a meeting," to be told that the other really was in North Korea and would they like to get married right that hour?
That also would have made for a good fictional story, but of course it was too late to go back and change this one, and I don't think Aro is self-aware enough to think of what he does as kidnapping on that scale, especially when he gets so many volunteers and has Chelsea to grease the wheels.
Anyway, Invitation-only Zone was fascinating, well and accessibly written, and covers an important part of recent history. The kidnappees were often put to work training spies on how to pretend to be real Japanese, but after their cover was blown, a lot of them ended up working translating newspapers from Japanese to Korean for the Kims to read (ordinary North Koreans aren't allowed information about other countries). His handlers would usually remove anything they considered substantial, but one day they missed something: One guy saw an article about an activist organization, in which the families of kidnapped Japanese petitioned the government to acknowledge that their relatives really had been kidnapped and weren't just missing and seek redress. There was a picture.
It was of his dad.
"One more thing. Never turn your back on your enemy." —Jasper, Eclipse
I stopped in my tracks. On my left, Bella did that thing that bloodsuckers did instead of stopping in their tracks, where she wasn't moving and it looked like she never had been in the first place. Her face looked scared and it looked like it had always looked scared. Quil had barreled ahead of us full steam a few minutes earlier and I could hear in his head that things hadn't gone well.
"Are they all right, Seth? Is that why we're stopping?"
Gotta love a girl who knows to keep it to yes/no questions when your larynx is set up for howling. I nodded. Quil wasn't all right, but that was the best we could do.
Any second now, Jake would tell me to change back and give her the 411, but so help me I was going to find out for myself first. Now that most of the fight was over, I slowed down, kept my nose to the wind and focused on what I saw from his perspective. Quil was mostly limited to the blood vessels in the backs of his eyes.
What. The. Hell?
I'd always thought the bloodsuckers were creepy. I'd had no idea, not until Jake broadcasted me the thought of Cullen standing there clutching a severed head like a goblin with a pumpkin. The half-hissed, "I can get it out of him, brother," like the other bloodsucker had a gooey candy center or something. He didn't look young and harmless or even human any more, eyes tight and face full of shadows.
He sounded... Well it was weird, but he sounded like a real vampire, like what'd I'd thought vampires were before I'd seen real ones, half-rotten and slinking. I almost felt sorry for the other bloodsuckers, and they were the ones who'd actually killed people. What the fuck was this Volterra bullshit that it could take what I remembered as a prissy Volvo-driving rich he-bitch and turn him into a real monster? Then all of a sudden Jake wasn't in my head any more. Probably turned human. Quil was too busy remembering to breathe to look at what he and Cullen were doing.
"Seth?" asked Bella.
Shit but Quil had been in a bad way. And Jake'd looked pissed. I exhaled, shifting so that I was on my human knees in the snow. Fuck it.
"There was a fight," I said. "Jake wants you out."
"Out there in the fight?" she asked. "Okay, which way?"
I shook my head. "No, out of our land. I mean he wants you and your boyfriend to leave. He's mad."
Her eyes got big. "Wait, did you say that Jake was in a fight with Edward?"
I held up my hands, "No, not fighting each other. There were more vamps. Three or four. They're gone now but Quil got hurt and Jake's mad." I looked away for a bit. Whatever had happened out there, it hadn't been her fault. She only just got here, and...
...and a vamp who comes back to her hometown to make her dad his favorite beef stew and hold his hand in a hospital bed probably didn't need to be ripped up and burned just yet.
"He's not kidding, Bella. I think you and Edward better just leave."
She breathed out. "I still want to help."
I shook my head. "It's good to want things, but we tried that."
She shook her head, faster than I had. "The vampires they were fighting, could you see them?" she asked. "I know you guys can hear each other but could you tell what they looked like?"
I blinked a few times and nodded.
"Were their eyes bright? Like weird bright?"
I thought back. "Yeah, a little," I said. "Like the ones who were here twenty years ago. The weird strong ones."
"Newborns," Bella said. "Vampires in their first year. If the eyes were getting dull, then maybe they were a few months along."
I frowned, leaning forward. "What's that got to do with it?" I asked.
She reached out as if to put a hand on my shoulder, then pulled back, as if she wasn't sure she should. She definitely shouldn't. I was cold enough.
"If they're newborns," she said, "they'll have a handler. There is or was a mature vampire within an hour's run of here," she said.
"I think that might have been one of the ones Jake killed," I said. I saw her press her lips together. "But I'll be on guard, just in case." I breathed out looking her up and down. I reached out and took her hand, managing not to flinch at the feeling of clammy rock, like an old dentist's chair. "Look, I know you were just trying to help," I said. "I've had a few bad breakups in my day too, and I would never want anything bad to happen to any of my exes." I leaned back. "Well, maybe not never, but you know what I mean."
"But I don't think you can do anything else here to put things right between you and Jake," I said. "You got your vampire boy and you got out of that Italian place, and it sounds like you had to work your butt off for both."
She laughed. "Hell yes."
"So go live your life. Go find the other Cullens and do ...whatever they do," I managed. "And don't worry about us. We've been through worse."
She smiled a little, just one part of her mouth. "It's really good to hear someone say that," she said, "even if it's just one person."
I shrugged. "Bloodboy doesn't?"
"Edward loves me. He'd say shit like that even if he was lying."
"Well I definitely don't love you," I said, turning my head away with one palm outstretched. "Sorry, I'm married to the hunt."
She rolled her eyes.
"...engaged to the chase..."
"Seth, could you be serious?"
"...going steady with the takedown."
"Seth," she said. "Could I get a phone number or whatever system you're using now or something?"
I blinked. "Why?"
Her eyes were gold and sad. Maybe that was it. They didn't look like vampire eyes. "I want to come back someday," she said. "And calling ahead seems like a good idea—"
I shook my head.
"Look," she breathed, each word coming like she had to push it out of her body. "This isn't just about Jake. If Jake never forgives me for screwing him over, I'll carry it forever—" her lower lip crumpled up. "My dad, Seth," she said. "I just saw my mom a couple weeks ago and she looks so old I almost didn't recognize her and Charlie—I thought I could tell him about all this but he's in the hospital and Edward warned me about how fast it can all go so if—"
I put a hand on her shoulder. "I think I get it," I said. "My father died of a heart attack."
"I remember," she said.
I looked down long enough for the wind to kick up.
"You're no good to Charlie dead." Truth be told, I was on the fence as to whether she was any good to him alive. Seeing her would probably give him another coronary. I'd never called Charlie "Dad" or anything, but he'd been good to my mom, and I could watch his back for that.
"Besides," I said. I gestured to myself with both hands. "We don't get old, remember? If it takes Jake a hundred years to cool down, no big deal."
"We only age if we quit. Jake won't ever quit." Me either, probably.
She gave a little smile and started to get up.
"Uh, one more thing," I said. "With this wind-chill I really want my fur back, but before I change, I gotta say, just get in your car and leave. But don't take Route 112. You've been outta town, but it's got potholes the size of Paul Lahote's ego."
She snorted. "Last thing we need is a blown tire."
"Then just go. Jake and I are taking Quil back home, and then we are rounding up the reserves. A lot of the guys have never seen a vampire that wasn't trying to kill them. They're not going to stop and ask you or your vampire boy for ID."
"Okay," she said, nodding, her lips still thin. "We'll have to go back to the house, check one more time—" I blinked. Check for what? "—but then I'll take Edward north. It was good to see you, Seth."
I gave her the smile that I saved for my future ex-girlfriends. "It's been a trip."
I watched her go, and that was weird enough. I guess all that time in a city made the woods weird for her. I gave myself a second to wonder what that had to be like, living somewhere where they'd kill you if you tried to quit.
I waited for the voices in my head got louder as my fur grew. The cold air lost a lot of /its bite and I gave myself a grateful shake before heading off after my brothers. Then I realized I couldn't hear anyone. That either meant the situation was so normal that they felt perfectly cool changing back to butt-naked clawless human dudes, but I really didn't think so.
It couldn't have taken me five minutes to reach the choke where the fight had taken place. It felt like an hour. Jake barely gave me a nod as I slowed to a trot.
I looked down at Quil. Shit.
Did a number on you, bro.
He was actually thinking about Claire and their rugrats, picturing their faces cute and smiling instead of covered in Cheerio-flavored saliva cement.
Knock it off, Quil. You're not gonna die.
What if Eli's a wolf too, Seth? I want him to get to leave La Push if he wants.
So he'll take off for a while like Jake did. It's not a big deal.
I practically felt his rib bones poke into his chest when he breathed. It was a big deal for Jake. Took two girls burning him and an order from Sam.
It won't be like that. Besides, we went years without enough vamps around for anyone to go wolf. Maybe Eli'll hit another slim patch.
His neck muscles sank as he stared straight ahead. Fat chance. That's not happening. This is vampire ground now.
What, 'cause Bella came back? She's leaving.
No, said Quil. The Cullens stayed here for years, came back, and not just because of the weather or whatever excuse. Something keeps calling them. Until we find out what that something is... The breath left his body and I was almost worried it wouldn't come back in. This place is a magnet for them, like maybe it was a magnet for our ancestors, from before Taha Aki. People who can do things that other people can't.
Wasn't enough being a werewolf, now he thought he was a goddamned prophet too?
Quil, you need your rest. We'll take you back home and you can sit on your ass watching TV with the kids while Jake and I handle this.
You're going to need me, Seth,
We'll miss you, but we can do it.
No. If I'm not there, then...
His thoughts split into fibers as he finally nodded off. Or passed out, which was less good. God but who got to decide when I'd had enough comatose relatives in one week?
"Well?" asked Jake.
I tipped my head, letting him read the Well what?
Jake exhaled, just barely looking away. I imagined him as a teenager, shuffling his feet.
I glowered. Next minute, my bare feet were in th-e freezing snow. Again.
"What do you want me to say?" I said. "And you did a shit job of setting his bones. Why didn't you wait for me or until we got him back to Emily?" She'd had more practice patching up wolf boys than anyone.
"I did it myself," he said.
"You're pissed about Bella."
"I'm pissed about leeches."
"That's an excuse. They wanted to help, you know."
"They made it worse." He stepped toward me, eyes like flint. "It just didn't work, Seth. We were practically falling over each other."
I folded my arms, looking up at the still-empty branches. "When you came back from the military, you were all 'practice practice practice' and 'work the problem.'"
"We don't have time for that."
I couldn't argue there.
"Besides," said Jake, "we need to burn some bodies. Then we need to knock on a few doors."
I exhaled slow, glad my breath wasn't steaming in the air at least. "Don't make this worse for us, Jake. I know you feel rotten that Quil got hurt, but if you call the other guys back from reserve—"
"This isn't about that."
Like hell, I thought. But the corner of his mouth was picking up. There was that gleam in his eye like the night before he'd figured out that Paul's bachelor party gave him blackmail material for life. ...like hell?
"Bella and the Cullen will be leaving," he said. He leveled his eyes at me. "These other vamps were after them. And he let one of them go. Which means that there's someone to report back."
Suddenly, a lot more than my feet felt cold.
He shot out a dark smile. "You told her about route 112 being crap, didn't you?" SMOOTH OUT
I rolled my eyes, going full head-tilt. "Well they're probably going to go see those other vamps in Alaska," I said, "so if they're not ditching the car—the last ferry to Seattle probably left twenty minutes ago, and waiting until tomorrow would be colossally stupid, so..."
"They drive east then south," finished Jake. There was no ferry service across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, not any more. Vamps were known to swim it, but not so much four-door Kias. The Cullens always had liked to act all civilized. Cars and shoes and normal clothes and shit.
Jake crouched down and traced two lines in the ground. Highway 112 had been crap ever since the last major storm cluster. Route 101 had been rerouted a bit over the years, but the basics were the same. Not-so-open water separating us from Canada, chunk of less official woods and farmland between La Push and Forks and the goddamned-how-many-thousand acres of Olympic National Park further east. The magferry only ran to Seattle these days, and not at night. If you wanted to get north, the closest thing to a direct route was through Tacoma.
He leaned down and traced lines in a patch of snow. "Highway—here—" he traced the line of the new road, then the discontinued Route 1. "This spot. Practically cliffs on one side, Lake Crescent on the other." He looked back at me with a smirk. "Not much of a spot for an ambush unless the people doing the ambushing don't need to breathe."
I practically fell back on my heels. "Seriously?"
"If you want to attack them in open country, here's your shot," he pointed. "Seattle's got too many cameras, too many eyes. The vamps have that rule about keeping things on the downlow from humans. If they don't want the cloak weirdoes showing up, then this is their last chance."
"No, I mean seriously?," I asked. "Shit, Jake. I thought you were just pissed."
"I am," he said. "You had a point, Seth. I didn't really want to kill her. In a lot of ways..." he breathed out. "But our people and the humans in Forks are my responsibility."
"So she's bait?"
He stared at me for a long moment.
"So she's bait."
Ordinarily we'd have gone back to burn the body of the vampire I'd left on the hill, but the timing of this thing would have to be near goddamned perfect, and we had a million things to do. The first was to drag Quil back to civilization, which was good because it was on our way.
The second was to knock on a whole lot of doors.
Faces of men I knew. Most of them looked more or less the same, but you could see time working at the edges of their eyes and starting to thin out their cheeks. Mostly you could see it in the wildness that was fading out of their bones, the tension that had shaken out of their muscles.
The wolf inside you didn't go away until long after you'd stopped feeding it. Some of these guys had only just felt the howling in their blood go quiet.
I'd open a door and hear a TV on, a radio blaring or some kid screaming in the back. Sometimes his wife would come up first.
Paul asked what I wanted. Embry didn't. Jared just said "Where?" Sam'd moved to Portland for a job but I could bet he was getting a phone call. Most of the others just let me stand there. Some of the wives tried to punch me.
"It's bad. It's like back then."
Embry looked at me.
"For how long?"
"As long as it takes."
Wives and girlfriends were kissed. Children sent to bed. Old, expendable shoes were dug out of closets like old habits from the backs of minds. I walked into the woods on two feet and came out on four. It was like driving toward a big city: You go from three radio stations to twenty.
When I caught up with Jake, I saw Embry and Jared waiting. Pelts of black and brown and gray like sea ice in winter.
The voices in my head came like a song I'd forgotten, dark and exciting, like being young when there's something important at stake. My brothers were back.
Shit, Jake. Bella was here? Charlie Swan's Bella?!
And the Cullen boy? They're not moving back, are they?
A growl split the glade. No. Jake said firmly. They are not staying, but they were followed. A group of vampires, a large one, has come here hunting them. They're the ones responsible for the killings.
Paul's tail lashed. And you're saying we protect them for old time's sake, is that it? Treaty or no treaty—
Jake's jaws snapped in front of Paul's face. I'm saying, Paul, he snarled, that anything that has no pulse and stinks of sulfur is your enemy. Any vampire still on our land—any part of our land—by dawn gets smoked by noon. THAT is why I called you back. Nothing less than an invasion.
The invaders are after Edward Cullen and Isabella Swan,
I couldn't help it. The thought jumped into my head. Isn't she Isabella Cullen now?
SHUT UP, SETH.
Don't get me wrong, there was nothing like instantaneous communication when you needed to hunt down something that could run faster than most bullet trains, but it did do a number on everyone's filter.
Still not over getting dumped. It was high school.
Oh who cares? A leech is a leech. Time to put them all down.
Would be WAY less uptight if he'd just imprint and get it over with...
Jake glared at the last wolf. Paul.
I can't help thinking it, Paul answered, not halfway to an apology. Just saying getting married did wonders for me—remember how you used to think I was an asshole before I imprinted on your sister? This was followed by a few choice if involuntary memories of what Rachel was like in the sack. Jacob was growling like a freight train.
SO! I thought, And if we catch Bella or her vampire boy before the invaders? I asked, making sure to stress that "the invaders" did not include them.
Jake's tail lashed.
Same as always. The Cullens are not our enemies, but they're not our friends either. They're not our people or any of the others we protect. There were a few yips and nods.
If you see a vamp and you know it's Cullen or Swan, don't attack. But do NOT wait to see the whites of their eyes. Protect yourself first.
I could feel the undercurrent. The new guys who'd wolfed out after Bella' left, when the big crowd of freaky strong vamps came looking for Cullens—who'd left us to clean up their mess. Even a few of the older guys didn't feel that helping Emily serve muffins a few times got Bella a pass.
There was a crashing of teeth, snarls and growls. At first this had seemed like a bunch of guys having a collective midlife crisis, but soccer dads didn't have the fangs or the muscle to back it up.
And what if they get in the way? asked Paul. Or try to stop us killing their kind?
Jacob's jaws snapped.
You know what to do.
Whew! This story has gone on so long that I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of the early readers have aged out of the fandom (yes you can enjoy Twilight at any age, but you tend to have to have something going on in your life to enjoy this novocain, and those things don't last forever).