Disclaimer: I do not own the Twilight saga

A/N: I am definitely still writing Polaris, so don't worry. Working on the next chapter right now. But here is a story I was inspired to write while reading one of the best fics I've ever read on this website, let alone in this fandom, called The Ascent by Stoney G. Pumpkin. If you have not read this story, I STRONGLY recommend it. So this story is dedicated to Stoney G. Pumpkin. Anyway, here goes nothing.



'I need to rest.'

'No Bri, we're close.'

'I'm so tired though.' A whimper accompanied this proclamation.

'Too bad, keep going.' Though it came from the Alpha, it wasn't a direct demand, and the sleep deprived, blonde she-wolf stopped near the trunk of a thick elm. The slight wolf, well, slighter than the males that accompanied her, leaned her body against the rough bark for a minute, letting out another pathetic whine. 'Move Cambria, now.'

The Alpha command made her reluctantly push her body away from the tree and pad sluggishly over to the rest of her pack, while her mate sent a growl towards their Alpha. 'She needs a break,' he protested in her defense.

'She will keep going and you will keep quiet about it.' Another Alpha command shut her mate up and the pack of five trudged on in theoretical silence, though grumbled thoughts and curses could be identified coming from her mate through their telepathic connection, only being silenced by a warning snarl from the Alpha.

Sleep seemed like a foreign concept to them all, as they'd been running for weeks now. Delicious cooked food was a mere memory, raw fish and large rodents having been their only nourishment since they'd left the sunny shore of California.

After continuing for another half hour, one of the males, a large gray, growled in frustration. 'All I smell is leech. Sickening, sweet leech and it's hurting my sinuses. Where the hell is this res Max?'

The Alpha halted after being addressed, all following suit. Cambria took this brief moment of relaxation to collapse onto the mossy ground, panting with thirst. 'Xander…' she whined, her mate pulled to attention immediately at her small plea for comfort. His deep brown fur was nearly as long as hers, the two making a shaggy pair, the pigment of their hair contrasting as he lay beside her, licking at her muzzle. They were all exhausted, hungry and dirty, but the trip had taken a toll on her more than anyone else and Xander felt he was the only one who acknowledged it.

Max grunted, standing still as a statue and listening around him, sniffing the air as the wind blew different scents his way. His stark black fur was sleek and shone blue in the sunlight that cascaded through the thin tree branches in the clearing where they stood, giving the illusion of rippling waves as the summer breeze blew through the thick coat.

As Alpha, he knew he must come through for his pack, no matter how small it was. He had heard there were truths in the tales of the Quileute Natives and he had been willing to lead his pack all the way here; he would find them, damn it!

'Can you pick up a scent Sloan?' Max spoke only to the fifth, and until now, nearly silent member of the pack, his coat a smooth brown, bleached red from the sun. Max knew the passive male had a keener sense of smell than any of his pack, even himself.

The wolf sniffed the air, turning his body every which way in order to catch wind in every direction, however he shook his head. 'It's too faint, but it's there. The vampire smell is too strong to tell which direction it is coming from though. I smell food. I think there might be civilization not far off.'

They all listened and could hear the faint sound of light traffic and human life perhaps a couple of miles away. 'We will head north, towards the sound. I'll decide what we'll do from there.' Max was weighing his options, and the entire pack was aware, so he need not specify that he would either send one of them into the town to find out where the Quileute reservation was from there, or he would opt for continuing to search on their own. They couldn't be far; he knew it.

'This is fucking ridiculous,' the gray hissed, showing his irritation, and also his bad temper, by slicing the sharp claws of his front paw through a bush, making it look as though it were a victim of half-assed landscapers. 'How do we even know they're like us? How do we know they'll accept us?'

It was true packs were close knit and weary of outsiders, but it was a chance Max was willing to take. There weren't many options on the table at this point. 'Logan, calm yourself you fool,' Sloan intervened, earning himself an irritable snarl and snap of the jaws from the silver beast before him.

'Let's go. We're not far from the traffic.' Max ignored the two and their squabble, knowing it wouldn't escalate to much. Logan was brash and easily annoyed, but loyal no less. A strict order would set him straight immediately, this he was sure of.

'I can't,' Cambria whined, her heavy lids nearly covering her shocking green eyes. 'I can't get up.' Her voice was so weak it pained Max to force further movement upon her, but he had no desire to be in close proximity with the vampires who left this scent behind, and couldn't risk the safety of his pack by staying any longer. None of them were in any kind of condition to pull a bloodsucker limb from limb, though Max was sure both Logan and Xander would die trying.

Her dead legs tried to push her weight from the moist ground, but it was useless, her body collapsing back onto the forest floor. 'Let her rest,' Xander protested, and Max became annoyed.

'All right, we will stay. We will stay and rest and wait for those leeches we can smell all around us to catch our scent and tear us apart with their fangs for being in their territory. Surely they'll save the weakest for last; make it long and exceedingly painful.' Max knew his words were harsh, but how else could he make his point? He wasn't trying to make poor Cambria force her tired muscles to move, but it was the right decision.

Max's black eyes locked with Xander's hazel toned ones, the two set in a staring contest before Xander sighed and looked away, down at the small wolf beside him. He nudged her face with his nose, assuring she was awake and listening to him. 'Bri, phase and get on my back.'

'No… no it's not fair. You're all tired,' she protested weakly. She didn't like to be the rusty old link in their chain, ready to break at any minute. She always tried to be strong, but they all saw right through her, at this moment especially.

Yes, it was true, Xander's muscles ached and he wished for nothing more than a steaming shower, a hot meal and a comfortable bed, but he wouldn't see her suffer anymore. 'Shut up and do it,' he growled, all his aggravation coming out, though he never wanted to take it out on her.

Cambria gave no more protest, though her eyes watered as she transformed into her human skin. Untying her clothes and a cheap pair of flip flops from her leg, she quickly dressed, noticing how all but her mate had the decency to avert their eyes as she clothed herself, still sitting on the ground.

Once she was decent, Xander approached her and crouched on his stomach, her slim fingers tangling into the fur at the scruff of his neck and her legs somehow finding the strength to push herself onto the back of her lover.

She held on tight as he rose to all fours, following behind Logan as they made their way towards what could only be a small town. She couldn't help but feel as though they all hated her right now, all resented her, though it wasn't apparent in their thoughts.

It was, after all, completely her fault they had to leave their home in the first place.