The Mythical Creature's Guide to Living in the Modern World
Operation Delta, or How Billy Black Spent One Tuesday Morning in September
Amare et sapere vix deo conceditur.
Even the gods find it hard to love and be wise at the same time.
"Dad?" Jake asked, walking through the door scarcely five minutes after Rachel had left to meet up with her trashy excuse for a boyfriend, Paul. If the boy had merely been dating my daughter, not imprinted upon her, I'd have used him for bait. But he had imprinted on her and, supposedly, could never hurt her. And it did keep her at home, where she belonged, though I felt she was throwing away her life with the bastard. With Rebecca in Hawaii (and not inviting me over near often enough, which is to say, at all) and Jake busy with the werewolf business, even if he was protecting the Cold Ones, she was the only child I got to see any more. I raised three of them; you'd think they'd be a little more thankful about it.
"In the kitchen, son." The one good thing about him spending so much time at the Cullens' was, at least, it was them he was eating out of house and home. I'd not had to go for groceries in over a week, which had to have been a new record since Jake started phasing. "We've still got some eggs left, if you want any." I gestured with my coffee cup, barely glancing up from the newspaper as I did.
One look, though, was enough to make me set down both paper and coffee and look at him right proper: on one hand, becoming Alpha of his break-away pack had done him wonders. He seemed a little older and a little taller then when I'd seen him last (making me wonder where on God's green earth we were going to find clothes to fit him now), if a little bit more wild-looking then I'd have liked my son to be. Dirt was literally falling off him as he walked, and there were bits of bramble and leaf in his hair. On the other hand, though, there was something in his eyes that made me worried. Real worried. A sort of obsession that I'd hoped had been put to bed since he'd come back for Bella's wedding. I'd been pressing every girl in town upon him, hoping he'd find someone to take him mind off the Swan girl and her monstrous, impossible pregnancy. Even Karen Ruesoe – a girl his age with more chest then brains – had failed to catch his interest. Which bugged me, because I was running out of people to "lend" fishing equipment to. If it wasn't for the fact I'd prefer him to marry someone from La Push of the nearby Rez's, I'd have sent away for a Russian mail-order bride for him. Just because I was that worried. I wanted grandchildren; Rebecca seemed to have no interest in giving them to me and I'd rather not have any that might be fathered by Paul, even if they were my dear Rachel's, so Jake it'd have to be.
"I've a problem," he said ignoring the eggs entirely (that's how serious it was), and sitting down the wrong way in the chair opposite me.
"And you've come looking for fatherly advice?" Jake nodded. "Then why the hell you come here? Old Quil's better at this sort of talk." He was. It'd been Old Quil who'd given "The Talk" to Jake and his friends. Hell, it'd been Old Quil that had given Joshua, Harry, Young Quil and I it back in our day. I dealt with the more practical questions, like what type of bait to use to get the largest bass, and what the batting averages of players was season to season.
"'Cause, I mean-" Hell's bells, I think my son is blushing. There can only be one blessed reason why.
Still, I don't think there was enough reproof in my voice for his liking when I asked, "Who'd you knock up?"
"Dad!" but his face went three shades brighter. "Nothing like that!"
"What? Sorry! Is it too much for an old man to want the proud Black family line to continue on?"
Gaping slightly, "Aren't you supposed to be telling me to wait until marriage, and I've a steady income and all that, or, at least, still I'm done with school?"
"You kids. Too responsible for your own good. Half of life is making mistakes, and the rest's dealing with it. These 'plans' and 'life paths' of yours. The cookie people didn't make chocolate chip by careful planning-"
"The cookie people?" he asked dubiously.
"The cookie people," I repeated surely. "Fortunate accident alone made the world's favourite cookie. Think of how awful it would be if we didn't have chocolate chip cookies, son. A 'planned,' 'responsible,' life is like that."
"So you want my life to be like a cookie? By which you mean unplanned and filled with grandchildren for you."
I sighed. This was why I left some things to Old Quil. Exasperatedly now, "What's youre problem, Jake?"
His blush, which had faded some, grew back. After a moment, "How did you and Mom get together?"
Okay. I knew this one. "I was nineteen and working up in Port Angeles at the old Romano's Pizza that used to be on Fifth, across the street from where they put in that strip mall a few years ago..." I could remember that place like the back of my hand. It was a dingy joint, smoky and dark and with this scarlet shade of wallpaper that peeled in places, revealing pale green pain beneath it. A dark wood bar ran all down the length of the place, and several small, square, chequered tablecloth-ed tables were fit between it and the wall, which couldn't have been more then ten feet away. The kitchen was the only thing of any modernity in the whole place, and then only by virtue of looking like it'd been built after the advent of running water. "I was a delivery boy and must have driven every road in this county twice over every night. Anyway, your Mom had been going to night school at Mount Rainer Tech and working days at Romano's, while I'd been working nights. That is, until the college let out for the summer. Ol' Jimmy Romano moved her to nights, which was busier, and the tips better – at least for that summer." Sarah had been earning her way through college; she was studying to become a teacher. A third-grade teacher. She loved children, and was always talking about her little cousins and her cousins' kids, or else spoke of the most common and everyday things with a life and vitality that I've never seen matched, be it her thoughts on the canning company laying off fifty workers for a season or her reaction to hearing one of our ancient legends told at a bonfire. Some might call it simple minded, but only from a distance. The world was beautiful in her eyes, and it made her beautiful in return. "She was twenty, your mom, that summer. You're too young to remember, but you've seen your sisters. She was the most gorgeous thing I'd ever seen. Though her mom was Old Quil's sister, Dinah, her dad was from the Makah, and she'd not come down her much – not like Sue or her sister, Laura. Certainly not like Laura! But, anyway, though I knew her cousins Sue and Laura (and, in many ways, they've always been more Quileute then anything else) I'd never met your mother until the first shift we worked together at Romano's." All I have to do to remember that night – or any day I spent with Sarah – is close my eyes. And I'm instantly transported back in time, to a time when her car had yet to be smashed by a looser drunk who only got five years in jail for taking my wife away, to when my legs could still work and I'd a full head of hair. "We were both on delivery that night, and were reaching for the same box of pizza when our eyes met... and things went from there." Jake didn't need to know the specific details. But, by God, I'd never seen anyone quite like Sarah. She had the greatest sense of humour, too, and the longest legs.... I missed her so much. It was impossible to say how badly I'd taken her death; how badly it still sat with me.
But Jake had heard this story often – every time we had pizza, for that matter – and he rolled his eyes at his old man's reminiscing. "That's not what I mean, Dad. I mean... how did you know Mom was the one, out of everybody else out there? How her?" When I saw the way her eyes lit up when she smiled. I knew I'd never done anything to deserve someone like her. With her I wasn't just living: I was alive.
I felt a smile stretching of its own accord from ear to ear, thinking of my son becoming as fool as I was over a girl. "Who is it, son?"
Pretending not to know and, growing redder still, failing utterly, "Who's what?"
"The girl you're sweet on, who is it?"
"Er-" His voice was entirely too high to be believable as any sort of lie.
"I'm just going to keep asking until you tell me." I would too. I had done so... It just brings back memories of the Great Picture Day Conflict of '95 even thinking about it.
He burred his head in his arms, which took up easily half the table. Even his scalp was red. Now that was something. He must really have a thing for this girl. After he leaves, I'm going to have to hunt her down and make sure she feels the same. Or make her. Sure, I can't go around pandering how he's the true Alpha and whatnot of the werewolves, et cetera et cetera et cetera, but I can make hints to the girl's parents. And, together, we can arrange any sort of situation to force them together. Then I heard a faint mumble.
"You're going to have to speak up for an old man's ears, Jacob."
"I," he said very slowly, "I.... Ithinki'minlovewithleahclearwater."
I burst out laughing.
"Dad! You're not helping! I'm being serious here!"
Having to hold the table to keep from rolling backwards from all my shaking, "I know you are. That's what makes it so funny."
"And what the hell is so funny," he asked, lifting his head up and glaring at me, "about me liking Leah?"
"That you're so God-damn worried about it."
"You don't know her like I do. You've not been inside her head. It's scary. If I tell her and she doesn't feel the same... God, she'll probably fix me. And then there'll be no grandchildren for you."
I paused my laughter to consider this. "True. But you two fight like a married couple already."
"Or she could just hate me."
"She doesn't hate you."
"In fact, I'd venture she, er, likes you just fine."
"Now I know you're playing with me."
"Girls don't just break off from their packs to hang with their kid brother and his best friend."
"To get away from their ex's they do."
"Jacob, take it from someone who's lived a little longer then you have: girls are absolutely, completely, and totally nuts. Especially Clearwater women. Harry told me the first time he tried to kiss Sue, she hit him over the head with her purse-"
"Great encouragement dad."
"Well then, Mr Know-It-All, do you want my help or not?" He gave a gesture that I'd come to interpret as a "whatever" shrug, though I couldn't be sure as I thought it was a wolf thing, and so I did. "As I said, if you knew anything, you'd see she likes you. Now, you know why you like her? - you don't have to tell me, you just have to know. Leah's an upfront girl: telling her upfront is probably the best way to go."
"Er, I pretty much did that already. She told me to stop mocking her."
"Then try again. Hell, knock her out and drag her back to your cave-"
"First, Dad: disturbing. Secondly, it's not a cave it's a rock and it's hers anyway."
"Even better. If she's invited you to her place already, half the battle is won."
Jake stood. "I think I'm going to go now."
"Fine." This is why people went to Old Quil for these sorts of conversations. "Good luck. Godspeed. Whatever. Just get the girl."
"You need to stop watching soaps, Dad."
I wheeled my chair away from the table and towards the living room. "90210 is about to be on anyway."
And Jake ran out, shaking his head at me and darting into the woods. Jake and Leah... Sure, he'd have to do some convincing, but if Leah was willing to put up with the Cold Ones for Jake's sake, there was defiantly more then I-hate-my-ex syndrome going on.
Besides, it was either this, or settle for having Paul's children for my only grandkids.
a/n: okay, here's the makeup for me forgetting Delta in "The Mythical Creature's Guide to Living in the Modern World." Hopefully you enjoy the Billy moments, as many people requested. I'll start on "The Mythical Creature's Guide to Modern Warfare" in the next day or so, working on it an aeSTHetic symultaniously. The Billy-Sarah Pizza courtship is taken from what my dad tells of him meeting my mom, with some changes, and without the maternal eye rolling that usually ensues.
In other news, I'm exausted, so if I could wake up in the morning with tonnes of reveiws, I'd be very happy. --aadarshinah