Boilerplate: The Twilight universe belongs to Stephenie Meyer – I'm just playing in it. I don't own anything except my laptop computer.
Part of this story is very obviously influenced by a certain person's appearance on Conan.
Quil was positive that the best method for catching pretzels in one's mouth was to try and position one's head directly into the flight path of the salty snack.
"You're over thinking it," said Jacob, as another pretzel whizzed past Quil's ear and landed on the garage floor underneath the Rabbit. "Be more Zen – watch."
Embry laughed. "I don't think anyone has ever accused Quil of over thinking anything before." He lobbed a pretzel towards Jacob, who caught it effortlessly in his mouth.
"See," Jacob said, crunching the pretzel. "Zen."
Quil gave an exasperated sigh. "No! You're just, like, part seal or something—SEAWOLF!"
Jacob grinned, obviously feeling quite smug about his pretzel catching abilities and Embry was mumbling something about 'Seawolf actually being a not-bad book.' This state of affairs could not stand. Quil had to act—he stuck his butt out, wiggled it, and mimed a pair of gills with his hands. But it wasn't until Quil began making noises implying that his impression of the Sea Wolf happened to be deeply in love with a mermaid named 'Smella,' that Embry lost his normally calm and cool demeanor and burst forth with a stream of very undignified giggles. Naturally, this only encouraged Quil further and he began improvise a Sea Wolf Dance.
Grabbing the bag of pretzels from the giggling Embry, Jacob swiftly reached in and aimed an entire handful at Quil's head. As soon as the first one hit his shoulder, Quil turned around and opened his mouth. He caught one and grinned, victoriously raising his arms over his head.
"Seawolf – 1, Quil – 0," quipped Jacob. "Zen, dude. It's all about Zen."
Embry wiped the tears from his eyes with the back of his hand. "That, my friend, was classic. I bet that dance could totally scare off all leeches in a 5-mile radius.
"I will add it to the repertoire." Quil grinned and tweaked the ends of an imaginary handlebar moustache. "Zee blood-suckeeers, Zey do not like zee comedie!"
"Ugh! Don't remind me," Jacob groaned. "I think the last time Cullen had fun was in, like, 1842."
"Yeah," chimed in Embry, "That was the year Daddy gave him his own pony."
"Fathah, may I paste flowers in my scrapbook or shall I practice the piano first?" Quil's Edward impression sounded suspiciously like Quil's Lord Fancy-Pants character—created for Jacob's benefit after Mrs. Ateara had scolded Quil in front of him for leaving the bathroom a goddamn mess again—but neither Jacob nor Embry saw anything wrong with the overlapping of the two. Lord Fancy-Pants was a perennial favorite around the Black family garage.
"Imagine Eddie getting mud on his shoes!" Embry said, giggles starting up again.
"You should have seen his face when I pulled up on my bike in front of Bella's school," said Jacob, "He was practically shitting blood."
Jacob grinned but Quil caught Embry's eye. They needed to change the subject—fast. "So, do you want to see how a Seawolf takes a dump?" asked Quil just as Jacob moaned, "What does she see in that stupid, boring, leech anyways?"
Embry stood up, holding the bag of pretzels, ready to fling them at Jacob should the situation require it but just at that moment the phone rang in the house.
The three wolves all heard Billy answer—it was Bella. Jacob dashed out of the garage and into the house to take the call.
Embry sighed. "He's never going to give up. Never. She's going to break his heart again and again until there is nothing left."
"I don't know," said Quil and he began pacing. "I think she likes him but she just doesn't know it yet. You know how girls think that life is supposed to be like one of those stupid romantic comedies—and all those movie guys do is think about love or whatever. That's such bullshit. There are more important things in life than romance. What about hanging with your friends? Or, like, getting a job? Think about it – Cullen is like a hundred years old and he's still in high school—of course he has tons of time to stalk her, he has nothing better to do."
"Maybe you're right," Embry conceded, "but it doesn't mean that Bella will figure it all out in time. For a smart chick, she's really just kind of dumb." He bit into a pretzel to emphasize his point.
Quil grinned at him. "Amen, brother."
They sat quietly for a few seconds; the muffled tones of Jacob's voice rose and fell emphatically. He didn't seem to be in any hurry to return to the garage.
Quil yawned and stretched. "I think I'm going to clear out. My mom asked me to pick up milk at the store before I came home. I don't want to be too late."
"Chicken," replied Embry, but he grinned at Quil anyways. "I'm going to stick around for a little while longer. Chances are only 50-50 that Bella is on her way over."
Quil paused. Jacob's laughter filled the space. "Probably more like 70-30," he said.
"You're on – how much do you want to bet that Bella breaks Romeo's heart," asked Embry.
Quil dug through his pockets—all he had was the five his mother gave him to get milk—and looked up at Embry. "Loser has to Seawolf in front of Sam at the next meeting."
Embry groaned. "Fine," he said. "But I can't believe you're staking your reputation on Bella's ice cold heart."
"Yeah, well, I like to live on the edge—see ya, Embry." Quil waved over his shoulder and headed out the door.
It was about 3 miles from the Black's house to the General Store, part of it through the woods. Quil was too lazy to change out of his clothes and shoes to phase, so he just whipped his T-shirt off (Clallam County Intramural Soccer 1998), stuck it in his back pocket, and ran. As far as Quil was concerned, two of the many excellent things about being a werewolf were increased speed and the seeming inability to get tired.
He kept up an easy jog until the trees started to thin. The woods tailed off into scrub brush at the edge of the parking lot and Quil put his shirt back on as he stepped through into the gritty lot behind the General Store.
There were only a handful of cars, but Quil caught sight of John Miracle leaning against the side of his battered blue pick-up truck. John's cousin Thomas was with him and the two were sharing sips of something out of a brown paper bag.
Quil raised a tentative hand in greeting. John and Thomas had both dropped out of high school a couple of years ago to pursue other interests, such as drinking, smoking, and trying to scam white folks up at the Casino.
"Hey Ateara," called John, "want some?" He waved the bag in Quil's general direction.
"Nah," said Quil, "thanks, though."
"Sure, sure," said John. "Leaves more for us."
There were a few people milling around inside the store and, this being La Push, Quil was certain to know all of them. He sighed and tried to stealthily make his way to the refrigerated cases in the back without running into any nosy middle-aged ladies who would ask him about girlfriends, school, and the marital status of every single one of his cousins.
One hand was on the handle of the case when he heard somebody call his name. He turned around to see Sue Clearwater beaming at him. Standing behind her, with the world's surliest expression on her face, was Leah.
"It's so nice to see you, Quil!" said Sue. "I heard Sadie got married last month over in Wellpinit. I bet that was nice."
"Oh, hi, yeah, I didn't get to go," said Quil, "but my mom did."
Leah rolled her eyes.
"Is she here?" said Sue, looking around.
"No, it's just me," Quil answered. "I'm getting milk."
Leah snorted at this and Quil shuffled uncomfortably.
"Well, then, Quil, tell your mom I said hello." She smiled and patted him on the arm.
Sue pulled Leah along down the aisle. "Would it kill you to be pleasant once in a while?" she hissed to her daughter once they were out of sight. "You're just embarrassing yourself when you act like this."
There was no response from Leah.
"And the way you dress—it's like you're just pushing boys away."
"Could you just stop harassing me for like two seconds? God! Maybe I like the way I am—who cares what some dumbass boy thinks?!"
Quil heard the front door open and slam shut, the bell tinkling. Leah would kill him if she knew he had overheard the argument with her mom. Slowly, he selected his milk. He then browsed through the rest of the shelves—butter, cheese, yogurt. He wondered if Leah was gone yet—water, tea, soda. He heard Sue pay up and leave and breathed a sigh of relief.
He started to the front to pay for his milk but turned back and picked out a Coke for himself. He had earned it.
Junior was working the counter that day and took his time getting the milk into a bag. "Nice day today," he said and handed the bag over. "A good rain always clears things up."
"Yeah, I guess," replied Quil, who took it and left as fast as humanly—or wolfily—possible. He walked slowly back towards the woods, enjoying the fresh air. Sometimes being inside just felt too confining, like he was boxed in.
"You dumb bitch!" came a cry from the back of the lot, shattering the peace. Quil jogged around the corner and saw Leah facing off with John and Thomas. Thomas was clutching his hand over his eye.
Leah reached down and Quil saw that Mary Crow was lying there. Mary ignored Leah's hand and stood up on her own. Quil saw a hurt look flash across Leah's face before she turned back around to John and Thomas.
"This is none of your business, Leah," said Mary, coldly.
"But he pushed you down," she replied. "You can't just let him do that."
"It was my fault," Mary said, "I lost my balance." She rubbed her arm where a bruise was forming.
"Mary, I saw him hit you."
Mary looked away.
"If you weren't such a dyke, Leah, maybe you would know how to keep a man," smirked John.
Leah responded by kicking him in the balls—not as hard as she could have, but hard enough to hurt. John fell to his knees.
Before Leah could turn around and catch him watching, Quil backed up around the side of the building and sat down on the front steps. He pulled his soda out of the bag and fiddled with the ring on top. It's not that Quil didn't like Leah, it's more that he was too intimidated by her to be anything but intimidated by her. He liked joking around and teasing Jacob and Embry and sometimes even Jared and Paul, but Leah was different. She spoke with real anger and used words to hurt.
Leah came stalking around the corner, a cigarette dangling from her lips. She stopped and pulled a lighter from her pocket. The flame shook a little but she managed to get her cigarette lit. She took a huge drag and leaned back against the wall of the building.
"Hey, Leah," said Quil, figuring she was going to find out anyways. "I saw what you did back there—that was cool."
"Whatever," Leah replied, exhaling smoke. She didn't look at him.
Quil didn't know what to say, so he stood up. "Well, I guess I'll see you around," he said and started walking towards the road.
He got a few paces before the image of Leah's hurt face flashed before him. He turned around and saw the slightest glimmer of moisture in Leah's eyes. Quil walked back.
"Now what?" snarled Leah.
"Here," said Quil, holding out the soda. "I thought you might want this."
Leah looked at the can of Coke. Silently, she reached out and took it.
Quil waited for her to say something but she just took another drag on her cigarette, so he turned around and walked away again. He didn't feel like running anymore, so he walked along the side of the main road, thinking maybe somebody would drive by and he could hitch a ride. Quil got about half a mile before he heard gravel crunching behind him he turned to see Leah jogging up.
She slowed as she reached him.
"Hey," Leah said.
"Hey," Quil replied.
"So, my mom kind of ditched me in the parking lot."
"Yeah. She said I was quote being difficult unquote." Leah rolled her eyes. "So—are you going to try and hitch a lift back to town?"
"I guess," said Quil. "I don't really feel like phasing." He shrugged. "Besides, I'd look really stupid carrying this milk in my mouth."
"Do you mind if I walk with you?" Leah asked, not quite meeting his eyes.
Quil tried but was unable to keep the surprise from his face. "With me?" he asked.
Leah turned to walk away. "Forget it," she said, "I'll cut through the woods."
"No, wait!" said Quil, and he put his hand on her shoulder. "It will be way easier to get a ride if I'm with a hot chick."
She gave him a weak smile. "Shut up, Ateara," she said. But Quil could tell she didn't mean it. They walked in companionable silence for a while. A couple of cars passed by but neither Quil nor Leah felt the need to flag them down.
Leah pulled out another cigarette.
"Did I tell you about the time Jacob and Embry tried smoking?" Quil asked her.
She laughed—a genuine laugh. Quil grinned.
A familiar orange truck passed by them and Quil waved as Bella Swan drove on deeper into La Push.
"But let me tell you something else, first," said Quil. "Do you want to hear what Embry is going to have to do at the next pack meeting?"