Disclaimer: Twilight isn't mine.

The Unscrupulous Council

The Talk

Chapter 23

AN: I'm having a stab at a reviewers request for a Paul and Bella "talk". Let me just say one thing. I struggled. I really did try to keep them in character. But it was a good challenge even if it took longer to post the chapter.

Bella eyed Paul as they finished lessons for the day. He had something to say and she was nervous what exactly that was.

Sue had convinced Charlie that what Bella needed was private tutoring otherwise known as home schooling. Paul took on this job with gusto. Charlie was apprehensive but knew that Bella was so far behind, he was willing to try whatever it took to get her up to speed. They sat at the kitchen table of Charlie's home watching each other contemplatively. Bella gulped.

A week had passed since Bella had been rescued from the Makah. A week had passed since Bella had slept in Paul's bed and she had experienced something very new. She sensed that she had done something very wrong. Especially because Paul hadn't said a word about it all week and Renee had clearly warned her about something like this. Renee didn't want Bella to get hurt. With the large volume of warnings and snippets of information Renee had given her, sex must come with a lot of dangers and pain.

"I wanted to talk to you about what happened last week. I wanted to talk to you more clearly about the imprint." Paul asked calmly and directly. Bella flushed crimson. His eyebrow moving rapidly in a small twitch for an instant was the only indication how much he wanted to laugh at her cute reaction. He decided that laughing wasn't in his best interests if he wanted a candid discussion with his imprint. Bella nodded compulsively even as she wanted to shake her head 'no'.

"You showed fear in my bed when you realized something. That's something I have never wanted you to ever feel in my bed. It has been bugging me all week. What were you afraid of exactly?" Paul sat back in his seat watching her carefully trying to understand what she was feeling. He needed answers and he suspected that she needed answers too. He watched her face as varied emotions checkered her face.

"I er... Renee, always told me not to trust men. She told me men wanted to hurt me. And I suddenly realized I had just kind of handed myself over to you without blinking. I broke every rule in her book. I'm not really sure what to think. You didn't hurt me. I don't think you would. But Renee was positively certain that I needed to stay away to be safe. Before I came to live here, in my experience, men were bad news. They wanted what little money we had or wanted to... do things." She paused and took a clear breath to control her nerves and embarrassment.

Paul worked furiously to keep his reaction under control. "What 'things' did they do to you Bella?"

She didn't look up. "Not much compared to what could have happened. Compared to what happened to Leah." Paul's throat tightened. He didn't think Bella knew anything about that. "I'm not stupid, Paul. Looking at her I can figure out what happened. I'm not sure who. But I have a time line and my suspicions." Paul nodded with understanding. She wasn't entirely naive. Watching her, he felt some consolation that he didn't think anything like that had happened to her. "But my mother warned me about everything. I've been hit a few times-" Paul interrupted.

"Hit how exactly?" He wanted to know precisely what had happened to her. She kept her eyes down as she got up and went to get a glass from the cupboard gesturing an offer to him that he refused. She poured water into her glass before returning to her seat and drinking quietly. Nothing about this conversation resembled comfortable.

"I've been slapped, punched, choked and once shot." She looked up when she heard a growl. She shrugged his reaction off. "I've got a nice scar on my butt from the bullet. But I probably did worse. I expect some of them needed plastic surgery after we defended ourselves. I'm not sure if the guy who shot me lived. I like to think he did. Men definitely seem to be my primary source of danger. Renee has always been right about that." She said, forgetting to use the past tense.

"Is she still right? Am I someone you need to be afraid of?" Paul asked. Bella's eyes shone with tears as she shook her head. Paul was relieved.

"It's just hard to adjust to. And I don't know what to... expect exactly." She mumbled. He watched her closely with interest. This appeared to be a subject he was interested in hearing her viewpoint on. From what Leah and Seth had shared, she didn't seem to know much about sex. He wasn't sure what to say to her about it, but she had made it clear when Sue and then when Emily had approached her, that she didn't want to talk to them. It had never occurred to Paul in years prior that he would have a mate that needed the bird's and the bee's talk.

"What to expect? You don't have to expect anything sooner than you're ready for." Paul assured her. Bella was blushing again.

"Not that you did anything wrong. You did what I told you to do, but I wasn't expecting... what happened... last week." She muttered in a way that he found endearing.

"Expecting what to happen?" He asked, patiently pulling out her perspective. He wanted a clear picture of what she knew already.

Bella looked like she might explode with embarrassment and Paul held back the need to embrace her and make it all better. "You were kissing me and pressed against me and... I wasn't expecting it to feel good. I wanted more." Paul exercised as much control as he could. He didn't want Bella to have surprises that would upset her. He wanted her armed with information and knowing what she did and did not want. He had left a book on sex education with her school books but could tell that she hadn't touched it as it collected dust under her bed. He guessed she avoided information out of embarrassment. He needed to understand more so he could make his imprint happy by either stepping back or progressing further.

"You wanted more what? I just want to know how much you know." He tried to explain honestly. He watched her blush continue without rest. The conversation had slowed greatly as Bella struggled with herself. How much could she actually say? She swallowed. She trusted him. She could tell Paul what she knew. Or what she thought she knew.

"What I do know is that if you have sex without condoms or the pill you could get pregnant. Sex is when a man shoves his... thing in... a woman's... thing." She muttered staring at her fingers avoiding Paul's eyes as though she would catch fire under his gaze. If it weren't for the imprint, Paul would have fallen around laughing on the floor. But somehow, he managed to keep a straight face as the corner of his mouth twitched violently. I took a deep breath restraining himself.

"Well, when you put it like that... it doesn't sound like much fun." He said coyly. Bella buried her face in her arms wishing the ground would swallow her whole. She groaned as though she were in pain. "I think I can provide a better explanation than that." And so Paul gently explained things in a more clinical manner the mechanics of sex, the clinical names for body parts and went so far as to draw diagrams for his student as she listened torn between horror and fascination. When he came to the end of his explanation that he hoped was entirely informative, he asked to hear her questions and concerns. He watched her squirm as she tried to voice a question.

"Does it hurt?" She whispered.

"It doesn't hurt guys at all, but the first time is usually painful or uncomfortable for girls. Or so I hear. I'm not a girl and I haven't slept with a virgin." She suspected this was about the hymen. When Bella hurt herself one day falling on her ass and left blood in her underwear, Renee explained she broke her hymen and that she didn't need it. Bella didn't think it would hurt the first time but didn't want to share this personal detail with Paul to confirm her suspicions. It was his turn to blush and this bolstered Bella's confidence that she wasn't the only one feeling uncomfortable with the topic.

"How many girls have you slept with?" She asked. Paul coughed and began to fidget in his seat.

"Not a lot." He insisted confidently. Bella didn't let him off that easily.

"How man girls would be a lot?" She pressed him.

He wished he hadn't started this now. "I don't know, like twenty." Bella's self-confidence continued to be bolstered watching him slip from a dominant position as he shrunk from his imprints tenacity. And so she asked question after question, seemingly each one designed to make him squirm more than the last. Even if Bella wasn't looking to make him squirm, it certainly propelled her to ask more questions. It was when she asked about a term she had heard that had her confused her that he drew the line.

"I think that's enough for one day. Charlie's going to be home soon." Paul grunted taking a stand and packing up to go home.

"But you didn't answer my question about sex faces!" Bella complained. He was making his escape to his truck with Bella close on his tail as Charlie pulled up. Watching Paul's frazzled expression and Bella's determined face, it seemed that a young girl had just chased a fully grown man from Charlie's house. Charlie most certainly approved of that.

During meal time a knock came. Asook answered the door as his family ate with Quil at the table. Asook's second and third were standing at the door eyeing Quil.

"It's time." His second said.

Quil heard and reacted to the statement instinctively. Somehow he knew by the lack of eye contact and awkward shuffling that they were coming for him. He shot out of his seat and straight through the wall of Asook's house to his family's surprise. But waiting on the other side of the wall was a team ready for Quil. After a few hits, the world went black.

Quil awoke under a tree canopy in the night sky. He recognized the surroundings as the Olympic mountains. "You will not phase." Asook ordered in his Alpha timbre. He watched his Alpha circle him from above as he lay in the snow high on a mountain. His old pack and his new pack stood either side. "You made a foolish mistake years ago. You broke your imprint and your most protecting tie to your pack. Jacob was concerned enough to protect his imprints by not ordering your death immediately by banishing you. Your banishment proved that any hold your life carried over her life, has lost it's sway. We are free to carry out any punishment we see fit." Asook looked up at Jacob. He stepped back and Quil Sr's new pack turned their backs on him leaving him defenseless as they stripped to phase and left the mountain top.

Time passed and he watched Jacob silently circled Quil as the man stood to his feet. Snow attached to his back, fell away in clumps. But his attention fell on an angry Leah as she stood between Seth and Brady holding her closely to provide body heat and support. Quil Jr stood slightly in front of her but without blocking their view. His face was stone towards his father. His feelings of betrayal were obvious. Paul stood close to Quil Jr with seething rage towards the older man written clearly on his face.

"We would like to torture you slowly before death." Jacob said when he stopped circling Quil and stood behind him. Jake's face was directed at Quil's ear and Quil fought back a shudder. "I worry about what more damage that would do to my pack. You have traumatised your family and your pack. The world that you supposedly protect your wife and son from isn't the real danger. You were always their biggest threat. You have a long line of people who want to kill you." Jacob stepped away and continued to talk while sneering at Quil Sr. "You kidnapped and repeatedly raped a fellow pack mate and a pack brother's imprint." He referred to Brady. "When she phases again, her memories will add further insult and pain to my pack and I doubt that memory will wash away before the next generation of wolves shifts? How many generations will be traumatized by you?" Jacob said with pain in his voice.

"Erase the memory. Protect them." Quil Sr answered.

"That's another mistake. Manipulating the pack. You whisper poison in Alpha's ears. Erasing memories will not clear up the hurt and pain. It will only mean that we don't remember why she is in pain. That serves no one but you. Further charges, and there are many it's hard to decide which ones to list, is damaging your imprint emotionally, spiritually and physically. Not only is she your imprint, but my pack brother's mother. Imprints are to be cherished. You turned her life into a living tragedy." Quil went to speak but Jacob shot him a look. "You will listen!" He said darkly and Quil swallowed compulsively. "You've had too much freedom to speak your lies and to manipulate us. We will not hear anymore of what you have to say. You will listen. Another imprint had her childhood ruined as she was ripped from her father and forced to live homeless for eleven years. We know only a small amount of what happened to her during those years and I expect we will be paying those consequences for many years to come. To add insult to injury, you kidnapped her and put her life in danger playing a disgusting game of cat and mouse. You are revolting. You have damaged the tribe enough. We no longer have any ties to protect. And if I didn't care so much about my pack, I would put you through a slow agonising death. Instead, I hope you rot in hell." And with that, Jacob unexpectedly phased and ripped off Quil's head much to the surprise of everyone standing there.

They stood in silence.

Smoke left the chimney of the two story Victorian brick house surrounded by tree's. It had been updated in the past year, with the treated wooden floors, stained and polished. Custom built-in dark wooden cabinetry in the kitchen with stainless steel fixtures and appliances. Fashionable granite counter-tops and a wine rack and professional grade stove. The sleek double sink sat in the kitchen island at an angle. A family of five sat in the dining room. A bench against the glass wall overlooking the backyard and pool, had storage below the seat. The rustic table held four more chairs around it. The scene was elegant even as the youngest of the three children whined. The six year old didn't want Cornish Game Hen for dinner. He wanted macaroni and cheese with ketchup. And maybe some hot dogs.

"Micah, we don't have any pasta in the cupboards. We've been eating far too much of it lately. Eat your meal or go hungry. Those are your choices. Whining will only end up with you going to bed early. I really can't stand whining." Micah pouted with his arms folded.

A broody middle daughter, seventeen year old Marie, finished her meal and looked at her father expectantly. She still didn't understand what sort of vacation this was. Hanging out with her family in the middle of nowhere on a rainy peninsula wasn't her idea of a vacation. Her parents bought this cottage in the boonies to get away from the Seattle on weekends and during the summer. Her parents had ancestral roots with an Indian reservation a couple of hours drive away but didn't have any other connections. They seemed to think this was going to bring the family closer and suited some strange need to connect with their ancestors or whatever they were talking about. Marie wanted the cruise around the Mediterranean. She was very disappointed by this whole thing. Her father saw she had eaten most of her meal and waved her away. Maria took off out the glass doors to the pool pump shed where she pulled out her reading material. It smelled somewhat of chemicals but the noise gave her the familiar backdrop of sound that she was used to living in the city. There was something unnatural about only the sound of the wind through the tree's. She eyed the pool as she passed. Who wants an outdoor pool in such a rainy place? She didn't understand her parents.

She had set up a hammock in the shed and now took a seat as she poured through poetry. She was currently reading a young poets anthology from a university. She hadn't paid attention to which one. One poem reminded her of her older sister, home from school eating in the dining room. She was all grown up and sophisticated now. Maria frowned. She read through the poems enjoying the emotions they pulled from her. Her eyes grew heavy. It was okay if she fell asleep. Her father would come out and get her at bed time. Soon she was asleep.

Maria woke up cold and her head hurt from being around the chemicals for too long. She was thirsty and she wondered why her father hadn't come to get her. She fell out of the hammock less than gracefully and stumbled to the door. She was stunned by what she saw. Her mother was screaming in excruciating pain from somewhere in the house. Micah was on the ground with a distant death like expression frozen on his face. Her sister, Kayla was strewn across the kitchen in pieces as though she had been ripped limb from limb strangely without much blood to speak of. A man held a body part, her sister's arm and playfully slapped a woman across the face with the hand. The wall of windows to the kitchen had been smashed through and a young girl was sucking from her father's throat as his body hung limp. They wore hooded cloaks and were grinning at her clearly amused by Maria.

"A fifth! What a clever hiding spot! I couldn't hear or smell you! I'll have to remember that one!" The man with the arm said.

"I say we let her live for ingenuity!" The woman who was slapped with the hand laughed.

"You know we can't do that!" The girl said dropping her fathers body to the ground.

Maria knew that her face was coloured in horror.

"Can't we keep her? Just for a little while? She's adorable! Look at those sad widdle puppy eyes!" The woman pleaded buoyantly as she played with the same hands fingers. One finger came off and the woman looked ruefully at it with little concern.

"I suppose. We're going to be here for awhile. This house might make a good temporary base while we watch the mutts." Her red eyes stared at Maria. Maria had noticed that they all had red eyes before. She smothered a scream. The girl cocked her head to one side and Maria's body exploded in excruciating pain. She was burning from the inside out! As though she had drunk fuel and it had been set on fire as her mouth provided the oxygen needed while depriving her of air. She screamed an inhuman sound. The pain stopped after some time but the echo remained and Maria remained curled up on the floor.

"You hurt my new pet." The woman frowned, disappointed. "I want to see her horrified puppy eyes! Not a traumatised waif." She waved dismissively at Maria. The man standing with her grinned.

"Wait, humans want to live. If Jane doesn't keep hurting her she'll rebound. Give her some water and sleep and we can have our plaything back for the remainder of our time here. We'll give her a show unlike anything she's ever seen." He chuckled. Another man came out of the house carrying Maria's mothers body watching the scene with amusement.

The young girl stood close to the man, clearly in charge of the group. "Don't lose sight of what we're doing here. We have two packs of mongrels to gain information on and we don't have much time. You can have your squeaky toy." She glanced at a sobbing Maria. "But don't let her draw attention to us. And don't forget they eat a few times a day. Humans are very needy."

AN: Secluded homes in the woods are creepy. Anyway, hope the wait was worth it!