Chapter 1 - Celebration


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I was close to the front, seated with A through C.

You know, for Black.

I said a silent thank you to my ancestors for having the foresight, however unrelated to this moment, to be named Black; after standing for longer than I'd like that day, it meant I could finally sit down.

Again, I fidgeted, trying unsuccessfully to wiggle my toes under the discomfort of my newly purchased shoes.

Shoes. The bane of my existence - those, and socks. Whoever came up with either of those inventions should be shot. I scanned the crowed and caught sight of the imp that had purchased the torturous shiny black pair currently constricting the blood flow to my legs.

"Jacob, you are so classless. Have I taught you nothing in all this time? I forbid you to wear those on one of the most important days of your life," she'd scowled, glancing at my old trusty leather flip flops. They'd become the closest thing to being barefoot, and that was just the way I liked it.

Weeks before, we'd stood in the walk-in closet of what had become my second - or third counting my apartment and Billy's - home. Alice had come to me earlier in the day asking what I would wear for graduation, followed by my rather amused girlfriend. I'd pulled out my favorite jeans, a white dress shirt, and, the subject of our current argument.

"Alice, you can't even see them," I'd complained., "I'll have on the gown, and besides, who'll be looking at my feet anyway, what, with this handsome mug of mine?" I teased with a dimpled smirk, holding my chin. At that moment, somewhere in the house, I heard Emmett cough, "Bullshit!" then Jasper's laugh.

Eyes darkening, she glared at me then, quick as a flash, climbed the length of my 6'7" frame, onto my back and held her razor-sharp teeth half an inch from my throat before I could exhale from my last breath.

She whispered in a chilling, almost inaudible voice, "I'm not going to have this discussion with you mutt. You'll do as I say and you'll stay alive to bark another day. Now. These are Ferragamo. Put them on."

She quickly placed an icy peck on my cheek as Ness chuckled behind me. I nodded my defeat and searched for the dress socks she'd laid out for me.

***

"Jacob...Black." The chair of the Engineering Department had said my name, nodding his head in silent affirmation of my accomplishment. I strode the stage in three long strides, taking his small right hand in my massive one, grasping the smooth leather diploma case in my left.

I immediately looked to the crowd, in the direction of my blood relatives and much of my extended family. I'd never thought I'd be able to call them most of them that. There was a time when I could barely stand sharing the same air as them - well, I'll never get used to that sickeningly sweet smell - but what a difference one woman can make on the lives of centurial enemies.

Emmett's boisterous cheers and whistles peppered the air, in line with the rest of the Cullens, my pack, my family, Charlie, and Sue's. Most importantly, though, I saw my heart. Ness stood with tears in her beautiful eyes, and a look of pride and adoration on her face.

Flashing her a bright smile, I saw her fair skin flush bright red even from where I stood, the way I'd always loved.

I've loved her since the moment our eyes met, all those years ago.

The steps of my life were carefully mapped in line with hers. I lived for her. She lived for me. Even for this brief this moment, my heart ached not being able to touch her. This moment was as much hers as mine. We had become so much a part of each other that my joy was her joy. The security that knowledge brought me was unmatched. I would never be alone.

No, things weren't always perfect, believe me. We'd made it through my high school girlfriends, her crushes on a couple douchebag jocks, late night patrols, my crazy sisters and Ness's even crazier derivation. Nope, things aren't easy for a wolf and a half vampire who's really only been alive for 8 years, but, I guess in our world, if our relationship wasn't weird, we'd be a tad apprehensive.

I waived my diploma in their direction, and was met with a barrage of flashes and cheers, as I descended the platform and took my seat. Loosening the strings of my European-cut shoes, I sighed with sweet relief.

Later, as we all crossed the gravel-covered auxiliary parking lot, each dividing to our respective cars, I'd inadvertently gazed at the way Ness's hips swayed in her graceful feminine stride. My thoughts immediately drifted to our time this morning as we rushed to prepare for today's commencement.

Our bodies, slapping together loudly; soapy and wet. Me holding her soft thigh on my hip while she gripped my neck for support, though she didn't need it - Ness was almost stronger than me in most ways, and could outrun most of my pack if she'd hunted recently.

She'd pulled me - pajama bottoms and all- into the shower abruptly to join her. The lust and moaning and panting soon followed, as did one of the most toe-curling releases of my 24 years.

We reached her navy BMW convertible, a gift from Ed and Bells on her last birthday, and she turned to me, taking me into an embrace, with her hands on the dip where my shoulders and neck met. She showed me the joy and pride she had with an overtone of possessiveness painting the scenes like a thin layer of watercolor. I was hers. I knew that, just as I knew she was mine.

I wrapped my arms around the hips that belonged to me. While she had reached a formidable height for a woman, around five foot eight, the top of her head just barely reached my chin in her heels. We leaned against the car, her mouth on mine, with a fervor that belied the fact that we'd had the opportunity to be together nearly every moment since finals ended three weeks ago.

She'd tag along to the Quiluete language classes I'd started teaching part time in La Push, becoming a bit of a co-teacher to the young students. She'd picked up the language quickly over the past couple years and spoke to me and the pack in it fluently and often.

Or, I'd find her leaning her chair against the wall of the garage while I fixed an engine or changed the oil on a car, waiting patiently (or sometimes, not so patiently) for me to finish. She entertained herself joking with the others, and flirting with me as I watched the clock countdown to when my shift was over.

Not long after I started at UWA, Embry, Quil and I took ownership of the repair shop not too far from my apartment. While it was a struggle at first, the shop had began to flourish around my junior year, and allowed for some extra money to help Billy, cover rent, plus the rest of my tuition.

Carlisle soon insisted that they cover my school costs. After much argument on my part, Esme convinced (or rather, tricked) me into allowing them to pay, as long as I let them pay for my books as well. Go figure. So, I began working at the shop out of my own passion for motors when I wasn't giving time around La Push.

With her eyes still closed, she began showing me a video, mentally edited to display all the memories she'd collected over my academic career.

Me complaining about Calculus.

Us studying for my Senior year Bio final, and her rewarding me with a kiss.

Me telling her I'd gotten accepted into the Civil and Environmental Engineering program at UW with a partial scholarship.

Her forcing me to translate my sociology book into French, and later Latin for Carlisle 'for my own good.'

All my academic moments up until the point of me walking across the stage moments ago.

"I love you... Thank you," I said. She knew what I meant without saying more. I was a guy; with that, comes a certain need, or lack thereof, to not communicate too much. She'd been there the whole way, and she made me better. My tribe was my past and present. She was my future.

She blushed, glancing down. The buttons of my black dress shirt becoming increasingly more interesting to her. It occurred to me - she was the perfect grouping of strength and softness, aptitude and beauty, innocence and assertiveness.

"I'm serious," I began, gently tilting her head up to look directly in her brown eyes. "You make me so happy and are the best part of my life." I breathed deeply, taking in her sweetness. I grasped her thick hair and patting it down her back.

I noted her silence, as I'd learned to do over the years. She'd once told me that she didn't see the purpose of speaking unless absolutely necessary. She'd found communicating, especially with humans, to be a choppy sea. At any moment one could say the wrong thing, the wrong way and the boat would capsize. As she matured, though, she'd learned to become quite the eloquent communicator, and, as when she was a child, everyone loved her for it.

"I love you, too Jacob Black," she started, 'I've loved you forever. You are a good man - smart, funny, caring, strong, giving - and sexy as hell' she thought, grinning. "I am so proud of you, my heart could burst. You've worked so hard for this, and trust me, I should know," she said with a wink.

I laughed, kissing her forehead, then, the tip of her nose.

"We're celebrating until further notice. Now, let's get going," she said, a matter-of-factly.

"Yes, sir, ma'am!" I said with a teasing salute, opening her door and hopping into the passenger side. Sliding the seat to the last notch - Alice must have been riding in the car - I placed my iPod into the dock and ran my thumb along the electronic wheel until I'd found my favorite Charlie Parker album. Ness mouthed an 'I Love You' to me, just after I stole a quick kiss, and then slid the shift into gear.

***

I silently gazed at the symbol of my achievement, tracing the gold lettering on its maroon cover with my fingers, and grinning like a fool.

I had to admit, I was proud of myself. Rachel and I were the firsts in my family to graduate from college. Hell, there weren't too many folks on the rez that had done what I'd spent the last four years doing. As the weight of that realization settled in my mind, I glanced up after what seemed like forever. We'd arrived.

"Jake, babe, we're here. Now, you know if we don't get in there soon, Alice and Dad will come looking for us," Ness said with a gleam in her eye. I paused, taking a moment to enjoy our solitude. A quick mental wave of gratitude for Alice flashed in my mind, as I glanced over at my love, who looked particularly edible tonight, in tight jeans and a sheer top.

She absently threw her copper waves over her shoulder and I caught the delicious zephyr I'd come to love and lust again.

She smelled like cinnamon and cloves and honeysuckle. Although I'd seen her just about every day for 8 years, my mouth still watered at the scent of her. I felt my body response in an unintentional, yet welcome way.

"Ness, let's skip this," I said, motioning my head in the opposite direction of the party, "I have something to, uh, show you back at my house..." I quipped, running my index finger lightly over her right nipple, smiling.

My apartment on the Forks/La Push line had become our escape shelter over the last 2 years. While it did nothing to make the the 2-hour trip to campus any more agreeable, (I'd whittled my classes down to Tuesday/Thursday so I'd only have to commute twice a week,) I mostly loved that it served as a bit of a refuge for me and Ness.

It didn't bode well for our love life that her dad was a telepath and her family had super hearing. We could hardly kiss without someone hearing the sound of our lips coming together. Showing her my love in physical form had become a bit of a problem to say the least, so we would escape there often to relieve some, tension.

"Come on babe," I said pressing my lips to hers, "I need you."

She responded to my touch, clutching her hand around mine, leading it to grasp her breast roughly, then the other. She shivered, and chuckled, as I heard her heartbeat speed, "You have something to show me, huh?" she began, sexily dragging out the syllables on her glossy lips.

"I have something to show you," she said, a purr at the back of her throat, "Jake, you know what you do to me?" She ran her hand up my thigh, her left hand settling on the side of my face, showing a scene of us, just yesterday; her head in my pillow gripping the sheets, me behind her.

"Whoa, okay. So, you can't do that. You win," I said with a grin, kissing her neck. I dragged my eyes up her shapely hips, small waist, and finally, her breasts that I'd grown to adore. She was definitely sexy, "You know, that is not the way to get me in this party any faster." I said licking my lips.

"I know baby," she said innocently, knowing full well the effect her body had on me, "But, I promise, it's gonna be a good time here with everyone who loves you, and later,we'll have will be an even better time. " she said smiling and kissing me passionately.

"Now, let's go in and celebrate. My baby is a college graduate!" she said with a wink., "We can finish this later," she said gesturing between the two of us.

I reluctantly stepped out of the Ness's car, knowing that this thing would go late into the night. That's what you get for partying with weirdoes who never sleep. I looked around and clearly Alice outdid herself as much with the decorations as she did with my shoes.

The Big House was decorated just like Bella's birthday party a few years back, I recalled. I liked the whole Miami thing Alice had going on. She'd replaced all the living room furniture with white chairs and rugs. The electric blue, green and yellow lights made me forget we were partying in gloomy, overcast Forks.

"Jacob, congratulations!" Carlisle greeted me at the door. Ness and I were the last of the group to make it up to Esme and Carlisle's. I smiled happily as I saw all the people I loved in the same room.

Bella greeted me with a big hug and kiss on the cheek, while Edward, ever the gentleman, gave me a hearty handshake. Emmett and Jazz followed with slaps on the back and nooggies to the head. Ness laughed contently, as I grabbed her around the waist and kissed her. Seth and Embry had already found the food in the kitchen, and waved over mountains of chicken, macaroni, and lasagna, mumbling congrats.

Billy rolled over to me, playing the proud father role, "Jake, I am so proud of you; you've have made me so happy. I just wish Sarah was here to see all this." I fought back a brief wave of emotion, as I bent down and hugged my dad, and kissed him on the cheek.

Even Rebecca had made the rare trip from Hawaii and stood alongside her husband Roe, Rachel, and Paul. I fought the urge to hear the ever-satisfying crunch of his face below my fist as he kissed my sister. I'd never get used to that jackass.

Billy called to me, leading me to the Cullen's massive back deck. "Jake. So, have you decided what you're gonna do yet?"

I fidgeted, something I never did, knowing immediately what he was referring to. Billy had a way of making me feel like an 8-year-old without even trying.

"Well, I dunno Dad. I haven't heard anything back from Howard Morgan or HCI. There are a couple more that I'm waiting on before I make a decision."

"Jake, you know the council is meeting this week about all this. They want you to take a more, permanent role, and you know what that means don't you?"

I refocused my attention on my father, then glanced away in contemplation; painfully torn with this decision.

I knew what it meant. It meant they wanted me to stay in La Push permanently. It meant I'd have to give up the things I'd come to want so much over the past four years, for the things they'd wanted from me my entire life.

I hesitated, "I know Dad. You know me, and you know I'll take care of it...just need time to think."

"I know, Jake, I know. But I want you to remember that your decision affects many. Remember who you are."

I closed my eyes, as my chest tightened. I let out deep breath and stared out into the darkening forest listening to Billy explain so many things that I'd heard over the years from him. From Harry; from the others. I nodded occasionally, feeling my mood begin to darken with the thickness of seriousness and responsibility.

Don't get me wrong. There was nothing better than running with my pack. Hearing the ever comforting sound of multiple heartbeats in my head. The vibration of paw to earth; wind in my face - crisp, cool air in my lungs. Being one with the earth.

And, of course, I loved helping around the rez; it was so much a part of me. I'd sat in on countless council meetings and even spoke when given the opportunity. I even think a small part of me enjoyed getting the respect I'd garnered recently. The way the tribe nodded respectfully as I walked our land. The way the teens immediately straightened their posture when I passed. The whispers of recognition and deference.

I just. I just don't know what to do. I just wasn't sure I was ready to give up what I'd worked so hard for.

One for many.

I swallowed my default impulse to phase, climb the banister, and take off into the woods. No. I wouldn't run. This was something I'd have to deal with. I'd have to come to a decision, and soon.

After talking with my dad for some time about my next steps after graduation, I started itching to get back into the party. I had already rolled up my sleeves and undone the first couple buttons of my shirt, but it was way too hot for Forks in May. I mean it was hot. It had to be at least 80 degrees, which was crazy considering the sun had dipped nearly entirely below the horizon. Plus, I was nervous.

I glanced away from our conversation after about 20 minutes, to see Alice's head pop out of the door, followed by Ness's.

"Hey guys, is this a party or is this a party?" Alice exclaimed in her musical voice. I smiled standing, and wheeling Billy back through the large doors.

"Hey, hey" I said laughing, my mood automatically lightening, "it's never a party until I get there, you know that." I walked to the kitchen, realizing I was starving, at the smell of Esme's chicken on the stove; I hadn't eaten since that afternoon before the ceremony. "Babe, I'm gonna grab something it eat," I said to Ness, "You need anything?"

"No, I'm okay. Go ahead Jake," she smiled, placing her hand on my chest, with a quick peck, "Don't be gone too long."

I strode over to the kitchen to get my fill. After a brief moment, I felt a tug at the back of my head - someone was pulling my now shoulder-length hair. I turned to see it was Rose.

"I guess they're handing out degrees to anyone nowadays, eh, dog?" Here we go.

"Yeah, that would explain how you managed to get one, right Blondie?"

She scowled at me for half a beat, and then hugged me lightly, "Whoa there, now, let's not get ahead of ourselves." I said, feigning the need to push her away with a horrified look on my face.

"Shut up Jacob. I'm trying to congratulate you, you ass. I guess you can't teach old dogs new tricks," she said, an almost smile crossing her beautiful face.

"I'll take that, Rose. You're turning into a regular softy on me," I said winking at her. She rolled her eyes and went to join Em on the chaise in the corner of the room.

As I sat at the table, I glanced over, at Nessie as she spoke with her parents and Esme, glancing occasionally at me as I stuffed my face. I finished and walked over to stand next to her while she spoke. No. I wouldn't worry about all that now. Not today - I'd celebrate my accomplishment, and deal with it later.

She unconsciously turned her body towards me, to accommodate me. Over the years, we'd learned to welcome and adjust to each other's energy and presence. I noticed Edward looking strangely at Ness, and I wondered what the hell his deal was. After standing there for a few moments, I couldn't take it anymore.

"I just need to change out of these monkey clothes," I mumbled, turning towards the front door, "It's hot as hell; I'll be back in a sec."

I ran the half-mile to Ed and Bella's cottage, beginning to strip out of my shirt as I ascended the large staircase. I searched for my favorite ACDC t-shirt, and sandals. I snapped my head to the left, ears immediately perked as I heard a low sound coming from downstairs and smelled the familiar sweet aroma.

She was in front of me, kissing and biting my shirtless chest and working the fly of my dress pants before I could protest. Not that I ever would.

We'd been gone about 20 minutes. Long enough for me to bring both of us to quick, but heated climaxes, with Ness seated on top of my large dresser, and just before the partygoers (the human ones anyway) could notice we weren't there.

Ness hopped down quickly and readjusted her white lace panties, as I didn't bother taking them off, only moving them slightly to the side to accommodate me. Wordlessly, I finished changing and we ran back to the party with knowing smirks.

I suddenly realized what Edward's malfunction was: Ness must have been having some less-than-pure thoughts about me as I left the party. I turned to her with a chuckle.

"What?"

"Oh, nothing," I replied grinning.

After much celebrating, the party started to clear around 3AM. Billy and Charlie had already left around midnight, taking Sue with them. Leah had to get back to her fiancé, a man that, while he was no imprint-Sam held that title- she'd grown to love immensely, to all of our relief. I'm sure none of us mourned the loss of Leah's bitchy former self.

Jared and Paul stayed to help clean up, but left around 2am, congratulating me again and talking of a vamp versus wolf football game tomorrow afternoon; Seth, Embry, Quil, and Sam soon followed. I fingered the gifts that sat atop Ed's piano, among them, a set of classic historical journals from Carlisle, a platinum Cartier watch from Alice and Jasper, and plane tickets for a trip to Morocco from Ness.

"We can use them anytime within the year. I'm thinking for your birthday in December?" she'd said excitedly., "Maybe we can visit Ben and Kebi while we're out that way."

We'd actually grown closer to the Egyptian bloodsuc-, uh, coven, over the last couple years, though Amun hadn't really warmed up to us yet. Not that I was that concerned.

"Sure, Sure, babe, Sounds good," I said, grabbing our bags.

I reflected briefly back to a rougher time for all of us. Getting back in the swing of high school once I'd returned from, what I now affectionately call my 'trip to Alaska' all those years ago was pretty tough. But, I got it together, and with the help of most of the folks standing around me now, I'd made good on Billy's hopes for me.

Ness came up to me, grabbing my hand, and showing me the two of us, back at my place, her laid on my chest.

"Well, you don't have to tell me twice," I said with smile. I thanked everyone again and packed all my gifts into my Mustang, opening the passenger side for Ness.

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A/N- It's an important time in Jake's life. I knew I wanted to include this in the story, as it humanizes Jake (well as human as a shape shifter can be.) This chap is for all the folks out there wondering what the heck Jake was doing after the Volturi left at the end of BD, and no – he wasn't Rosalie's lap dog.

~~The Twilight Saga and all its characters are owned by Stephenie Meyer. I just make them do whatever I want them to. Dance puppets, dance!~~