A/N – I think I'm closest emotionally to this chapter so far. It includes a flashback to a difficult time in Jake's life following the epilogue of Eclipse. He does some soul-searching and soon finds a deeper understanding of himself and his relationship with Billy.

Epic shout out to my awesome Beta, Hopeful Wager.

~~Stephenie Meyer owns everything, and I own nothing. A sad but true fact.~~

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Chapter 4 - The Animal Within


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I ran, a flurry of copper fur darting in and out of the trees, hopping over fallen branches, trampling in watery troughs through the woods with which I felt so akin. Everything around me whirred past my body at a lightning pace, creating a hyperdrive warp vacuum that sucked me in drew me to the place I had known so well.

My paws involuntarily slowed to a walk once I came to the place I'd been so many times I could find it without thinking.

Toleak Point.

I gazed my dark eyes over the steep cliffs, sitting on the edge, just inches away from the ledge. Crazy enough, with my face to the wind, being here had always made me feel like I was flying, like I was the only person in the world.

Being human was so hard.

Staying human? Even harder.

Angry. Depressed. Heartbroken. Being emotional while in human form was like contracting a muscle. It burned after a while.

Letting the sweet allure of phasing engulf me was like releasing that muscle after holding it tight for so long. Release. Relief.

I didn't have to try to phase; I had to force myself not to.

After all this time, I still defaulted to my wolf self.

So many steps forward, yet, I still held on to the pull, the lure of my animal.

He always comforted me, or rather, I never felt the need to be comforted while he and I were one.

FUCK! Why couldn't I just be normal and deal with my emotions like normal people did?

All this time. Eight years.

Of course, I'd controlled the phasing. Pretty-damn-well, I'd say. Better than most ever have.

But remaining human while my emotions where bouncing around inside me?

Yeah. Not so much.

When I thought about my darkest time- all those months away - I'd ran and ran until my paws were raw and my legs were weak. I'd ran until I couldn't feel anything anymore, until my little house in La Push was just a distant memory. I just had to get away. I had to escape the ripping in my chest.

I used to feel so dejected for running away. So... weak. But now? Now I look at it as a time when I really figured out who I was: the man without, who constantly struggled to squelch the desires of the animal within.

You know, I found a pack of wolves to live with all those years ago.

Well, not really live with them, but we had a bit of an understanding.

They promised not to gang up on me.

I, a lone wolf who was considerably larger than each of them, promised not to attack unprovoked and not to hunt over-zealously. A treaty of sorts.

How ironic.

After the last time I'd left, I found it harder and harder to find my humanity, and thus, found the ability to communicate with the wolves on a primal level. It was way too easy living like this - no unrequited love; no rez to protect, no leeches.

Eat.

Sleep.

Repeat.

After long, I'd learned how to tune out the mental hum of my kwoli and their concerns for my safety. My state of mind.

It's funny what regret and bitterness can do to your brain.

I remember one morning. I sat overlooking a massive mountain range in what I now believe was the remote outskirts of Victoria, British Columbia. I went over and over what I could have done to make things go differently. I remember thinking of the mess I'd made of my life and the path I'd dragged my pack down behind Bella and the Cullens. How could I look my pack in the face again? The pain of disappointment burned in my chest, though I quickly and effortlessly pushed it away.

I'd caught the scent of an elk on a gentle breeze. A large one.

And I was ravenous.

My eyes darted quickly across the forest, then finally, I located him. And he was a sight. Eight feet tall, no less than 700 pounds. He stood, head bowed to the nearby stream, lapping water into his mouth.

Yes.

My tongue ran across my toothy muzzle as I moved in on him, noting the direction of the wind, and standing down, as not to alarm him.

...though I wouldn't have minded a chase, given the way I was feeling that morning.

Virile.

I quietly closed the distance, creeping... slowly. I was no less than 50 feet from him. Senses alive, on fire with the hunt, my heart banging against my ribs.

Suddenly, he darted his head in my direction - must have caught my scent - and dashed away.

Even better. Meal on wheels.

Game. On.

I crouched, then sprang after him. He was a fast one though, nimbly darting around the forest - but I was faster.

It didn't take much. I attacked his side, nipping and biting him, careful to steer clear of those massive antlers. He gave up a fight but I quickly lunged for his throat, shaking my head with a quick snap, breaking his neck. I brought him to the ground and began my meal, tearing into his warm, pliant flesh; a satisfied growl rumbling in my throat.

"OH!" A clipped, breathy whisper floated on the wind. I snapped my head up from my repast to find a young woman- no doubt a hiker- staring at me, paralyzing fear in her brown eyes.

She reminded me of Bella.

She took a measured step backwards, as to not alert me. Her arms at her sides, balancing her small frame, her steps became larger, faster. She wordlessly tugged on the plaid coat of her companion, a guy following closely behind her.

She was terrified of me.

Of me.

He grabbed her tightly, forcing her behind him protectively, and then, as fast as their weak human legs could carry them, they ran away.

I could imagine what she'd seen through those eyes, though: a giant wolf who'd taken down a nearly thousand pound animal within moments. But, afraid of me? Jake was a protector, the protector. That was the moment that brought my humanity rushing back to me.

I dropped my head, feeling almost ashamed, blood dripping from my teeth, and suddenly, though I'd never admit it, I felt frighteningly like, well... nevermind.

Was I a monster? Had he finally taken over me? Had the animal within prevailed? No. I had a pack to lead and a family to take care of. I had people to defend. I had friends and a future. Yes, he and I were the same in physiology, but we were not the same being.

After that moment, I'd slowly allowed my awareness of our pack mind to seep back into my consciousness. Days passed of my listening intently for moments, contributing in others. I wandered, mindlessly at first, but then, with a mission back to where I began. I followed the voices.

It was Leah who talked me, with no judgment, into finding my way completely back home. She knew where my mind was and knew most of where my trip had taken me over all that time. Each of us were just a life-changing event away from phasing for good and disappearing into the nearest clearing. How could she look at me through critical eyes?

***

As I wandered around Forks following that disastrous dinner, I thought about my father mostly. About his words that hurt me so deeply - much deeper than I'd ever thought they would have.

Was I once again wandering? Attempting to escape in search of myself? How could he ever question my allegiance to my tribe, though? To our tribe? We were one in the same, my fathers, our fathers, fished these waters, splintered their fingers, bending wood and forging great things with sweat on their brows.

I remembered tagging along to tribal council meetings when I was just a kid. My long braid whipping down my back with a toothless grin; he'd brought just me with him on those Saturday mornings - something that my sisters and mom weren't a part of.

Billy and I had a great relationship, but it grew so much after I'd gotten older and started phasing. He'd told me once when I was about twelve that I had a warrior spirit. The grin across my face was a mile wide, and, as I packed my small leather bag of essentials I'd need to survive in the forest those following few weeks, I held strong to that knowledge. I soon learned that my taxilit* was one of not only warrior strength, but of discernment and justice and leadership.

I'd felt so close to him then; something so much deeper than father and son. We held the core secret of our tribe- we were descendants of the last leaders of our land. When he spoke, people listened, and soon, they began listening just as intently to my words.

I respected him more than as just my father. He was wise, sharp, and fair; he was everything I wanted to be. I wanted to make him proud so badly. I'd wanted to achieve all that had been hoped for me because, well, I was his only son.

I wasn't the same kid anymore, though, out in the wilderness, searching for answers from those that I knew had been where I was and had lived so much longer than I had. Billy had had his life. He'd had his wife, his children. He'd had the opportunity to live his own life, his own way. He'd made his choices, most of them much different that the ones I'd made since I was sixteen. Now, I wouldn't let him stand in the way of me being able to live my life, my way.

Finally, around twilight, I trotted over to the edge of the woods behind my apartment building and found a pair of sweats, a sleeveless shirt and my favorite flip flops stacked in a neat pile behind a large rock.

Ness.

I took the clothes in my mouth and, behind a tree, phased and dressed. I felt both dread and the extreme need to see her in this moment. My strides quickened with that need as I took the stairs leading to my top floor apartment two at a time.

I opened the unlocked door to meet her awaiting eyes from the couch. The television was on, and it cast a blue tint on her face in the darkened room. She'd been asleep, but I was sure her sensitive hearing and smell woke her as soon as I'd hit that tree to change.

I blinked once, and with vampiric speed, she was on me, cooing and fussing, and running her fingers through my hair.

"Jake, baby, I was so worried," she began, kissing my lips. "I'm so sorry about Billy." She showed me the scene at Esme and Carlisle's, just as she'd re-entered the living room, my back to her running away from the house.

"I'm okay, I'm okay," I said, trying to reassure her. This was actually one of the times where that wasn't a load of BS. I wrapped my arms around her, tilting her head back and kissing her full lips.

She looked at me, running her palms up and down my arms. She slid her hands to my face and showed me how she'd driven my car back to the apartment. How she'd spoken with Bella and how she'd assured Ness that I was fine, that I just needed some time.

Ness knew better than to be worried about me or my safety. She was worried about my fight with my dad, about me emotionally.

She glanced away. "Jacob, you can't keep doing this to me. I can't always worry about where you are or if your phase is the last time I'll see you for months."

"Babe, you know I wouldn't do that," I said, craning my head to look directly in her eyes.

"Do I, Jake? Do I know that?"

"Ness, I would never leave you, you have to know that."

She broke away from me, the first time since I'd re-entered the house, turning her back and wrapping her arms around herself.

"I...I just don't know if I can deal with this Jake. You're always with Embry or Quil or running off, or at the beach. And I stood by you because I knew that my Jake, crazy, silly Jake, would come back from what he's going through right now."

My heart sunk. I knew I didn't have a leg to stand on. I'd seen my mood darken, me becoming more introspective in these last couple months. I was just so stressed about getting out of school and getting this job, and the council. I just needed to get away, some time to think. I was always at the garage or on the rez or doing whatever bullshit I had to, dragging her behind me. I'd been a bit selfish.

"I have class starting up again in a few weeks, and when we get to Seattle, how can I trust that you won't run off again? I don't want to be alone, Jake. I always want you near me. And, well, I'm... scared." I could smell the saline even before her quiet sobs began. She quickly wiped them away; Ness was tough. I'd only seen her cry a handful of times, and at least two of them were because of me. There was nothing worse than seeing a woman I loved cry, especially over some jackass move I'd made.

"Ness, I..." I reached for her and she jerked her arm away from my reach.

"No, Jake, no. I'm fine and I know you're fine, or at least I hope you are," she turned her eyes to me, "and you know, I know this whole thing just goes with the territory. I know that Rachel and Emily have to go through the same things with the other guys. But... that doesn't make it any easier, when I'm left here."

"Renesmee." She immediately looked up at me. I never called her by her full name. "I'm sorry. I know. You have been right there with me through all my bullshit. Baby, you have to understand where I'm coming from though."

"I do, Jake," she said softening, "I do. We don't have the most normal situation ever. And I know how much sacrifice you make daily for everyone, including me, just being with me..."

"Ness, it's no sacrifice, so stop it," I said. "You're a part of me, and I love you. I just...I just need a second. I'm in up to my neck right now, you know?"

"I know. Jake, I know," she said placing her forehead against my chest and gripping my shirt, "and I'll support you through all this. I just had to tell you how I've been feeling," she said through her tears. She grabbed my neck and crushed her lips to mine, wrapping her arms around my neck and pressing her body against mine.

This was ridiculous, the way my body responded immediately. Was this a Jake and Ness thing or, like an imprint thing? Resting her cheek against my chest for a few moments, she let a purr escape from her throat.

Painful as it was, thank God we'd had this conversation with Carlisle when all this began. After that first night, I think everyone anticipated our lack of control and wanted to take the necessary precautions.

"Look babe, it's late, and you already know I forgive you," she mumbled into my mouth through her kisses. She began lifting my shirt above my head. I tugged the collar pulled it the rest of the way off. She drug her eyes up and down the length of my body and smiled approvingly, raising a perfectly arched eyebrow and clicking her lips.

She ran her palms down the front of my body, following the trail with a string of open-mouthed kisses lead by her tongue.

She was trying to kill me, I was sure of it in this moment.

She led her fingers to my lips and I took them into my mouth, rolling them over my tongue and sucking lightly. She slid them from my mouth, quickly, roughly untying the string of my sweats, and placing my hands underneath the oversized t-shirt she wore. I glanced down.

She had on the tiniest black panties, the kind that had those almost invisible strings stretched over her hips, held together by two small, insignificant triangles of cotton. Shit.

I hooked my thumbs under those strings and jerked them down her body, simultaneously pulling her shirt over her head. Ness pushed me towards the couch, sliding my sweats over my hips and onto the floor. She placed her hands on my shoulders urging me to sit, and I complied, taking each of her breasts in my mouth as she stood in front of me. She roughly threaded her fingers through my hair, tugging my head back, forcing her nipple from my lips.

Ness brought her hot mouth to mine, and I instinctively found her wetness with my fingers. I heard her breath catch in her throat. She grinded her hips against my fingers, pushing me back against the sofa. Taking my erection in her comparatively small hands, Ness rubbed her thumb across its smooth head, bringing her finger to her lips and licking it hungrily.

"Mmmm," she purred, closing her eyes for a brief moment. She opened them and refocused on my face, straddling my lap and reaching down with one hand to position my length at her opening, the other pulled her folds apart. I held her hips, watching this action in reverie, guiding her to sit, and oh, God, did she sit.

It took every ounce of willpower in me not to squeeze my eyes shut, but I had to look at her. Reaching up to use my shoulders for balance, she bent her knees, and eased onto my shaft, bouncing ever so slightly, trying to take the full size of me into her. After a few slides up and down, she finally sat parallel with my hips, with me deep within her.

"Ssssss," I said, jaw tightening, as squeezed the soft skin of her back. I rocked against her, thrusting against her rhythm, my toes immediately curling under.

"Oh, God, Jake," she whimpered, throwing her head back as she rocked her hips against me forcefully. As much stamina as I had, looking at her- her breasts bouncing from her pace- I wanted to release deep into her immediately. This position always did me in...she just looked so hot and so... raw.

She began riding me faster, pulling her wetness the length of me to the tip, then sliding down. Over and over, she slid, each pass making her so much wetter around my shaft. She was dripping.

She moaned and mumbled a host of incoherent obscenities and words of lust and sex, brushing her lips lightly across my ear. Her first climax came and went quickly and powerfully, as it often did from this angle, though mine took a little more time.

After hours of making love in my spacious living room-as well as on the dining room table... and floor, we were both spent, finally collapsing into bed around dawn.

Ness- hair wild, skin glowing- stretched and curled her pouty lips into a contented smile, kissing me deeply.

"God, I love you," she said, reaching for my length and stroking it lovingly. Placing her hand on my cheek, she showed me a few more positions we'd never tried. I guess I could give it a go one more time.

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Chapter End Notes:

*Quileute people wanted to find their taxilit or their personal spirit guardian power. They would often send their youths on spirit quests to find their own personal taxilit. When these youths were on these quests, they couldn't be used in the villages. The lives of the Quileute people were full of many spiritual rituals and helped to guide and inspire them. http:// www. u-s-history. com/pages/h1565. html

I LOVE REVIEWS! They're even better than spirit quests and night-long/early-morning romps with your imprint!