ENTRY FOR THE PLOT BUNNY CONTEST
Story Name: The New Normal
Word Count (not including header/author's note): 9915
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Disclaimer: All characters are the property of S. Meyer. No copyright infringement was intended.
There was only one thought in my mind.
Fuck my fucking life.
You know that website where people make up crazy shit and post it online, trying to see who has the most fucked up life? I would win, hands down. I couldn't make this crap up if I hired a joke writer.
No lie, I had shit I could have felt sorry for myself over, but who doesn't? We were dirt-fucking poor but everyone I knew was, so big fucking deal. I had two older sisters who teased me; that's nothing special. I was sixteen and couldn't get a girl to touch my dick. While that's annoying, and frequently painful, I sure didn't want to advertise being such a gigantic loser. About the worst thing I could have said was that my mom died when I was little and I had more responsibility than most guys 'cause I needed to take care of my wheelchair-bound dad.
Wah, wah, wah. Crying over it wasn't going to change shit for me.
A man tries to make the best hand he can from the cards he's dealt.
I'm proud as all hell to be Native American. My people have been on this land, the exact fucking dirt where our house sits, for hundreds of years. Nobody gets to say that but us. Plus, my people invented the word 'brave'. Our men are fierce, cocky, bold and 100% men.
We pwned macho.
Oh yeah…some of our men also burst into fur when we got too pissed. And by some, I mean me. And it seemed like everything pissed me off nowadays.
So, all in all, I considered my life pretty normal. Whatever the hell normal was supposed to be.
Then 'normal' went all to shit.
The Quileutes have a treaty with the Cullen coven that dates back to my grandfather, Ephraim Black. That didn't mean that we liked each other, or that the pack wasn't just itching for one of those leeches to so much as cross a rock-solid toe over the treaty line, but we tolerated each other well enough.
Sam was taking the whole pack to a meet-and-great, wolf style. One of Dr. Cullen's 'kids' was back from college, or whatever shit they pretend to do, and was being brought round to meet the pack. Technically, the point was for us to get a whiff of him so that no one accidentally tore him to pebbles (cause that would be such a fucking shame). I was only going along with the charade out of respect for my grandfather and the Council Elders.
The general consensus was that we should phase before meeting the bloodsuckers, make a show of strength and all, but Sam had insisted that we show up in human form. Sam reasoned that we didn't need to prove anything to them; they knew how dangerous we were. The grumbling stopped when he pointed out that communication would have been a problem, too, since none of the leeches were fluent in wolf. I was happy to go along with whatever Sam thought was best. Plus, I figured we were rubbing their noses in our humanity.
Dr. Cullen and the whole lot of them were already assembled by the time we got to the boundary line. Even without having phased first, I could discern the six distinct stenches I'd expected. There was something else, too, in addition to the other nasty odors. It wasn't as abrasive as the other's, didn't assault my nose the way they all did. It was almost tolerable.
"Sam," Dr. Cullen, extending his hand in greeting. "Thank you for taking the trouble to meet with us. Our family values the decades of peace we've shared with the Quileutes and are anxious to protect that peace."
I was impressed that Sam actually shook the leech leader's hand. I don't know if I could have touched him without losing my shit.
"Our Council Elders will rest easier when your 'family' has moved from Forks but are also honor bound to uphold our treaty. Let's do what we came here for."
Dr. Cullen nodded his head, motioning someone forward. "Sam Uley, may I present my son, Edward Cullen."
A tall guy with a very young face moved from the back of their group to stand beside his 'father'. I barely contained a loud snort at their ridiculous family names for each other. I had to give the guy credit, though; he kept his eyes downcast until he stood to face our pack. If he was trying to show his submission to our authority, that he posed no challenge to our peace, he made a smart move.
This vampire looked like any other of his kind: pasty white skin, artificially buff body, schmancy clothes, his body language broadcasting arrogance. There was one important difference: this one was gorgeous. The longer I stared, the more I noticed. His movements were fluid and graceful, reminding me of the natural beauty I experienced every day in the forest. He had high cheekbones that gave his face a regal peace, broad shoulders tapered to a trim waist and slim hips.
Just as I had begun to question what the fuck I was doing noticing shit like that, he raised his eyes to meet Sam's. My Adam's apple bobbed heavily as I struggled to stifle the gasp developing low in my throat.
Edward was beautiful.
Edward's head snapped to the side sharply, forcing my eyes to meet his. For a long moment, my vision did one of those keyhole things you see in the movies where everything is black but a small circle of light in the center of the screen. All I could see was: green. Fuck, if I had paid more attention in English I might have had a better word, but my sight and mind and muscles all chanted: "green". As luck would have it, this was my most lucid thought. My eyes seemed locked with his in a death stare or some other kind of voodoo while my head swam like I was going to faint. His eyes were the only things keeping me rooted to the spot, refusing to allow me to fall. I had no idea what was happening around me because everything was too blurry to focus. My temperature always runs hot, the whole pack has this issue, but I felt perspiration break out all over my body, blurring my vision even more. I felt as if I might boil inside of my own skin. I still couldn't tear my eyes away from the guy so I started to panic for staring like a moron. My body felt the searing emotional heat that usually meant I was about to phase. I was not going to let myself embarrass Sam and the other guys by losing my shit here.
But I'll be damned if I could stop staring.
The force of something heavy jolted my head around; breaking whatever hocus-pocus was making me act the fool. Blinking, I realized that Jared had taken an open-handed swack at my head before moving out of my reach. "Oh, Dude…'sucks to be you' doesn't even cover it," he crowed. Then the d-bag started laughing at me.
Then things went from bad to worse.
One of us must have made some etiquette mistake, forgot to include a "Pardon me," or some shit, because the party started to break up sometime during my haze. My unreasonable brain refused to cooperate, instead supplying thoughts in stutters and stops like a worn-out carburetor struggling to push gas. The single thought running over and over was: Edward was leaving.
I couldn't let him leave me.
Jared picked that moment to act like a fucktard again, still laughing while grabbing my arm, warning, "Whoa, Jake. You're staying here with me, bro."
"Like hell! Get the fuck off of me!" I snarled, the sound coming out as a rasp instead of the forceful threat I'd intended. A fresh wave of panic had begun as my mind ran wild with thoughts of Edward leaving my sight. I felt like I was the main event at a tractor pull and Edward held that 45 gauge chain taut, dragging my sorry ass along with every step.
Jared is a persistent fucker, though, and almost as strong as I am. "You're going to have to bark at him, Sam. He's getting a little hard to handle." Jared had managed to get a leg lock in and held both of my wrists. Needless to say, I was reaching a nuclear ass-ton of outrage.
"Everyone back to my house. Now!" commanded Sam using his Alpha Voice.
I didn't give two shits what voice Sam Uley used; I wasn't going anywhere that wasn't after Edward. Unfortunately, the rest of the pack were compelled into robot-mode and hauled me through the woods behind them.
Let's just say I didn't make it easy for them.
I was madder than a wet hen. Fit to be tied. A bull facing a red flag.
Indignant as hell.
Sam had Jared hold my shoulders to keep me seated in one of their kitchen chairs. Just as my anger swelled at these cockblocking asswipes who I thought were my friends, I heard Emily call softly from the stove.
"Don't you break my chair, Jacob Black. Things are tight enough for us without Sam having to buy me a new chair."
That calmed me down in a way none of those dumbasses could. Emily had been through enough without me adding to her problems by messing up her furniture.
I'm a transparent mofo, my face a big, traitorous picture window into my soul. Sam must have been able to see my anger dissipate because he started to speak to me like a rational person again. I guess I had been acting like a Neanderthal.
"Are you feeling a little more normal now, Jake?" Sam asked gently, looking directly into my eyes as if they could tell him something that my words couldn't.
"Yes. No. Ugh! I don't even fucking know." I raked my hands across my face, trying to pry loose the words to express what was going on with me.
Sam and Jared were talking again, so quietly I had to strain to hear. "If you asstards have something to say to me, have the courtesy to say it to my fucking face."
Sam sighed, pulling out a chair to sit facing me. "Jacob, let me see if I can tell you a little bit about how you're feeling. You're confused, right? Excited, worried and agitated as hell to be apart from that leech, um, guy, we just met."
How the hell did he know that? I know I wear my heart on my sleeve but Sam was freakishly dead on. I didn't even have the words to explain it myself until he spoke them but what he said just sounded right.
Jared was still standing next to Sam, his head bobbling like one of those dolls from the ball park.
I'm as thick-headed as I am transparent but I suddenly pieced together the one pertinent thing Sam and Jared had in common.
I was in class with Jared when it happened to him. He'd been phasing for about two weeks and had finally gotten enough emotional control to return to school without worrying about phasing in the middle of class. I was glad to have his company again and he was just happy to be back to normal and going back to living his life. I sat down at my desk first period, turned to ask him a question and he's staring at the girl next to him with this huge-ass doofus grin. We both knew her; we'd all gone to school together since we were tots. Jared acted like he'd never seen a girl in his life, much less ever seen Kim before. Kim was almost as bad. She stared back at Jared, all glassy eyed and Cinderella-like. Neither one of them seemed aware of anyone else in the room, something that ticked off the teacher like mad, and have been joined at the hip ever since.
Jared told me later that seeing Kim that morning felt like he was seeing her for the first time. Yeah, he'd been going to school with her for years but it was the first time he'd really seen her for the beautiful person she was on the inside.
What worried me the most was that he also admitted to never feeling 'quite right' unless he's with her. Not that they have to be together 24/7 but he has some wierd nervous energy until they join back up.
"Oh, HELL NO!" I howled, knocking the chair backward as I roared to my feet, my earlier concern for the furniture long gone.
Embry picked up the chair, obviously amused at my situation. "Pretty sure you should settle down before seeing your new boyfriend, Jake."
"I should have known better than to expect sympathy from you fuckers. " I muttered, heading for the door.
"Aw, Jake; don't be like that," coaxed Quil.
"Stop acting like such a baby and park your butt down here," Sam insisted. "Then I can start braiding your hair while Embry goes to get Emily's manicure crap. She has a sparkly orchid color that will really bring out your eyes." Of course, they all three erupted at this idiocy.
"Fuck off," I growled, more determined than ever to make it out the door.
Sam's still a little bigger than me so when he grabbed my arm, I was pretty much forced to sit down where he put me. I could see he was at least trying to act like a grown-up as he said, "I'm not sure what you think we're going to be able to do for you, Jake. I don't think even the Elders know a way to break an imprint."
My other two shit-for-friends were still cackling like hens this entire time. I gave Sam an astonished look, whispering, "I don't want to break the imprint. That's not what's wrong."
And then nobody was laughing.
Sam looked at me like I'd just given him the green light to paint my nails. "What the hell are you talking about, Jake?"
I closed my eyes, shaking my head from side to side, unable to believe that this was happening to me. "I imprinted on him but he didn't imprint back. I need to know why he doesn't want me the way I want him."
I had to give my bros there some credit; they started taking shit deadly serious after that little confession.
"Do you know for sure that you two can even be together? Vampires and wolves are natural enemies for a reason," Jared scoffed.
"Would I still be sitting here if I knew any-fucking-thing?" I yelled, my fists curled in frustration. "Pretty sure that the fact that it did happen to me says that someone thinks we should be together."
Quil was trying to think this problem through. "Dude, you guys are like…Romeo and Juliet."
"More like Romeo and Giorgio," Embry shot back. Jared gave him a quick fist bump of appreciation.
Sam ignored them, focusing his attention on me. "What makes you think the imprint didn't work on him?"
"I don't know, Sam…you tell me. Is he here right now? I was there when Jared imprinted on Kim and I see how Emily looks at you every day. Do you see Edward here, scrambling to get close to me, acting at all like he can't stand being separated from me? That would be a huge fucking, 'No'."
"Jeez, Jake. You really do sound like a pissy bit..."
Bounding from the chair, I dragged Embry upright by a fistful of shirt until his nose bumped mine. "You're going to talk like a pissy bitch when I rip off your dick and cram it down your throat."
Embry couldn't help himself, chortling, "Oh, hell no; even your threats are gay now. Little obsessive with cocks and throats there, Jake?"
Sam stepped in at that point, "Embry shut the hell up unless you've got something helpful to contribute."
"Everything happened pretty fast. Maybe Edward's going through the same thing at his house? We don't really know for sure what he's feeling," Quil offered.
There's a reason Quil's my best friend.
"Fine. I'll be helpful, then," Embry whooped, bolting through the door.
Once it dawned on me where Embry was headed, I was beyond horrified. I must have looked like something straight out of a cartoon, standing there slack-jawed with my eyes bugging out.
"If I catch him, Sam, I'll rip him to shreds. Be sure to tell his Mom he had it coming."
I couldn't get out the door fast enough, stumbling down the porch steps and nearly faceplanting in the dirt. I barely noticed Quil following behind.
I made it to the edge of the Cullen property just as Embry crossed their lawn. Edward was doing something outside with two of the other males.
Now that he was within sight again the pull toward him, the nearly overwhelming urge to touch him, was quantifiably stronger.
It was less than a minute before Quil joined me. The two of us watched as Embry approached the vampires. Waving his hand in greeting, looking for all the world like he did this every day, Embry gestured back toward Quil and me, his words lost in the distance between us. More talking, more gesturing ensued before the gigantor vamp burst into raucous laughter, slapping Edward on the back and pointing in our direction.
Edward regained his balance, glancing coolly over at us, not a hint on his face to tell me how he was handling this.
Murderously angry with Embry, I considered grabbing and hauling him into the forest for a brisk beatdown but quickly rejected that idea. I didn't want Edward to think I was bad-tempered before he had a chance to get to know me.
"Maybe you should wave or something," Quil whispered, nudging me with an elbow.
My life was already over; what more could one wave hurt?
So I gave a tiny wave, totally fucking mortified.
When the big guy started laughing harder than ever, I noticed that Embry was pointing at me.
"Why don't you start by explaining what happened. Your friend...Embry, was it?.. used the term 'imprinting' but I'm not clear about his meaning."
Edward and I had settled onto a picnic table in the Cullen's backyard. I didn't even want to think about why they would have a picnic table or what picnic meant to them.
On the bright side, the vamp that plays 'Mom' to them had brought me a Coke in a glass bottle. Complete with straw.
"Hmm…pretty sure I'm not qualified to give you a good answer to that." I frowned, feeling as if I'd failed on the very first question.
Edward's voice was gentle, reassuring. "You don't have to give me the Oxford Dictionary definition. Just tell me what you know. What you understand imprinting to mean?"
"When it was first explained to me, imprinting was all about creating a stronger next generation; protecting the wolf bloodline. Supposedly, my genetic soul mate would somehow find me, our eyes would meet across a crowded room and we'd fall madly in love with each other. It's really a pretty cheesy idea."
"Has the true love scenario happened for anyone?"
"Jared and Kim seem to be pretty much made for each other. And Sam lucked out when Fate or whatever picked Emily for him. Leah has always been such a heinous bitch. Sam dodged a bullet on that one, if you ask me."
Ever the gentleman, Edward's voice encouraged me again, "Then there's you."
"Oh yeah; then there's you and me. Somebody's going to have to work pretty hard to show how me imprinting on you is gonna strengthen the blood line." My laugh sounded more bitter than I intended, but then, I did feel I'd gotten a pretty raw deal.
"We may not have been in a crowded room, but did you have that moment of 'this is it' when you saw me?" The only emotion Edward's voice betrayed was curiosity. At least he was interested.
I played with the straw, rolling it back and forth between my fingers as I considered what I wanted to say next. "That's close to how I would describe it. The air around you sort of glittered like you were standing in a spotlight. I forgot where I was, why I was there, what I was supposed to be doing. Once I looked into your eyes, nothing was the same anymore and nothing else mattered. I felt like I'd always known you and that I'd know you forever." I laughed wryly again. "That's not scary at all, is it?"
He laughed, showing two rows of perfectly normal white teeth. "No, it would take much more than that to scare me."
"I'm guessing that the same thing did not happen to you, though. You didn't feel the same way when you saw me?"
Edward shook his head slowly, just a touch of sadness in his eyes. As if he was reluctantly scolding a puppy.
I knew the answer before I asked the question so I swallowed my disappointment, pulled up my big boy pants and went on.
"Thanks for being honest with me. Then why are you here with me now? Not that I'm not really happy that you are, I think I've made that embarrassingly clear, but I'm curious why you would…bother."
Edward looked down at his hands, quietly tapping the table for several minutes. Just as I was about to decide that I wasn't going to get an answer, Edward glanced up to meet my eyes. The room spun and my breath caught in my throat in a girly repeat of our first meeting. Holding my gaze, he tilted his head backward and lifted his eyebrows, giving me the feeling that I better prepare myself for some vomit-level honesty.
"It was the look on your face. You looked so lost, and at the same time like you had been kicked in the stomach. I know how it feels to be teased, to be embarrassed. And you looked like your worst nightmare was playing out in front of your eyes." He shrugged self-consciously and I got the feeling that conversations of this sort were uncharacteristic for him. I was suddenly sure that Edward Cullen was not used to sharing feelings.
Now I'm the uncomfortable one, though.
"You felt sorry for me?" My teeth were clenched together so tightly that I could barely force the whisper through my lips. I could feel an angry flush begin to paint its way from neck to hairline. My anger was a flash fire and I began to pant, shallow gulps of worry that I wasn't going to be able to scrape together enough control to keep from phasing right there.
Talk about making a bad first impression. Sorry, I'm such a slave to my emotions that I explode into a giant ball of fur at a moment's notice.
Yeah, I'm definitely boyfriend material.
Edward was quick to correct me, his tone cutting through my angry haze. "No," was his response, firm and quick, commanding my attention. "'Sorry' is not what I meant at all. Kindred spirits is closer to the truth; a fellow sufferer." He gave me a tentative smile.
I think it was meant to be reassuring.
Apparently, I was not to be pacified. In fact, while I had never had an actual panic attack, if having one means that you think your heart is about to burst straight out of your chest and you're going to die any second, then, yeah…I was full on into my first panic attack. And the added threat of bursting into 400 pounds of snarling fur? That wasn't helping.
I staggered to my feet, stammering like the blithering idiot I was. "I…I…I need to go." Some small part of my mind managed to maintain a shred of control, probably some wack reflex caused by the imprint, because I thought to ask, "Can I call you?" before sprinting toward the forest.
I'm pretty sure that he agreed but I didn't stick around to make sure. I figured I could always claim to have misunderstood or something.
Needless to say, the fur flew after that.
A day later found me slouching on the couch, staring at lame TV and trying not to think about my miserable life when Quil showed up on my porch.
"Hey, Ja-cob! How's my best gay friend doing?"
"Go home, Quil. I'm not in the mood. And I'm not gay."
I had nearly resumed my position on the couch when Quil grabbed my upper arm, trying to slow me down enough to talk to him. Shaking him off me with a snarl, I immediately felt like a douche when I saw his brows furrowed in concern.
"Dude, you're a guy who's desperate because the guy he likes doesn't like him back. What do you call that?" He was completely serious.
That stopped me dead in my tracks in a way that all of his brute strength couldn't. I dropped to the couch with a gloomy groan.
"I am not desperate, and I'm more than a little pissed at you using that word. But I guess that's it, huh, Quil? Why would Edward want to be with me, anyway? He's not gay. Hell, I'm not gay. It's not like I've been eyeballing other guys' asses and drooling over the eye candy." I wouldn't have thought my mood could have dipped any lower, but turns out it could.
Quil settled next to me, persisting, "Okaaay…I see your point. But that was the Jake you were before you imprinted. I still say that one guy liking another guy fits the definition of 'gay'."
I slumped down against my closest friend and considered his words. "When you put it that way, I don't have much of an argument. What does it matter what I call myself, anyway? Screwed is what I really am. I'm bound to Edward in every way imaginable and can't do a damn thing about it. I'm stuck in limbo here. He's all I can think about, you know? What's he doing, what's he thinking, does he think about me, like, ever? Does he think I'm a complete moron for bailing on him yesterday?" I balled my hands into fists, tossing my head back in a frustrated, tortured howl.
"You know, Jake, I just gotta believe that these things work out somehow. This imprinting stuff is part of our history, part of what makes us who we are. It's gotta happen for a reason."
That comment pushed my button so completely that Quil may as well have stomped on it with both feet. "How can you even say that to me? I'll tell you the reason for this: Nature has a sense of humor and I have a target on my back. I am at the center of the cruelest joke imaginable. Not only am I going against everything that my tribe considers honorable and decent, Edward didn't imprint on me. Now, I'm not going to have the wife and kids and dog that I had always expected and there's every likelihood that I'm going to end up with nothing."
Quil put his head on my shoulder, looking up at me with a pout. "You'll always have me."
"That is so not helpful. I'm being serious! This is my life we're talking about."
"Yeah, and you're doing a better job mind-fucking yourself than if I had bent you over. It may make you feel a little better now but, in the end, it doesn't mean anything."
Feeling like a douche, part deux.
Quil continued, overlooking my doucheyness like the good friend he is, "My Dad thinks that the imprint's one-sided because Edward's not human. Hang in there, Jake. Just because he didn't imprint back doesn't mean you'll never be together. You'll just have to convince him how lovable you are. How's Edward going to be able to resist your magnetic charm?"
"I really am screwed, aren't I?"
Quil popped open a bag of chips, offering one in consolation.
After a week of moping, the need to see Edward got so bad that I called him. I justified to myself that talking to him for a little while would take the edge off of the constant ache in my chest. Embry's threat to pay Edward another visit may have also been a factor.
The call was awkward and brief. We arranged to meet at the treaty line to brainstorm a plan for our time together.
Where does a werewolf take a vampire for a date?
Of course, I was early.
Embarrassingly, pathetically early.
I even wore a new shirt.
Our first date hadn't even happened yet and I was already in deep. I tried to look casual, maybe even a little provocative, crossing my arms and leaning against a tree as Edward drove up.
I'm pretty sure I failed miserably.
"Did you come up with any suggestions for this afternoon?" I yapped as Edward exited his car. "I got nothing. I mean, I can't exactly take you to lunch."
Yeah, that was a charming opening line.
Luckily, Edward didn't seem to notice. "Hey, just because water or coffee isn't part of my usual diet doesn't mean I can't drink them to be sociable. If you're hungry, we can get something for you to eat."
I looked at him bashfully. "I want to get to know you, though. I don't want to put you in a situation where you have to pretend to be something you're not."
My heart did a conga to see Edward smile a little, obviously pleased with my declaration. "Fair enough. Well…hmm…going to my house is not good." Before I could open my mouth, he explained, "Too many excessively nosy people with excessively good hearing."
"Oh, yeah. How do the others in your…family…feel about this?" I asked, gesturing between us.
He did the cutest eye roll. "Their reactions are all over the map. Esme, of course, is extremely pleased that I may have found someone."
I beamed. "Really? I always liked her."
"Alice thinks we would be adorable together, Carlisle finds your imprinting on me fascinating from a clinical standpoint and will probably question you for hours once you let him start. Rosalie is dismissive of me even under the best circumstances, Jasper would like me to be happy for a change and you've seen Emmett's reaction first hand."
I nodded my head, trying to process all of the information. Edward had spoken very fondly about his family, as if they were an actual family.
"And you? How do you feel about this?" I was too much of a coward to look him in the face when I said it but I couldn't look away for long; I was too anxious to see his reaction.
Edward gave me a dazzling smile, making me so schmoopy that I had to lock my knees to keep them from buckling. "I'm here, aren't I?"
I smiled back, feeling the joy in my entire body. It wasn't the commitment I craved from him but it was progress.
"Here's an idea; would you like to take a run?" Edward offered.
I was eager to spend time with Edward any way I could but what was on my mind at the moment didn't involve chasing each other. Unless he intended to let me catch him. "We could do that…if that's what you'd like to do." I was hedging and I think he could tell.
"I know you wanted to get to know each other but this would be a way for both of us to burn off some nerves. I'm pretty fast," he threw in. "If you're afraid I'll show you up…"
"Doubt it!" I yelped. "I'm the fastest guy in the pack."
"Is that a challenge, Jacob?" Edward's eyes started to dance and I was captivated, anxious to see them continue.
Dropping my voice to what I hoped was a husky tone, I teased, "You can take that whichever way you'd like."
Edward leaned in toward me, his entire face betraying amusement now, "In that case…Race you!" and took off at lightning speed.
"Damn, he is fast," I swore, realizing immediately that I would need to phase to keep up with him. Stripping rapidly, I phased in mid-stride and bolted after him.
My spirits soared with the familiar freedom of the forest floor beneath my feet, my nails digging deeply into soil and compost. The acrid scent of greenery and decay, fungus and foliage filled my attenuated senses to bursting. I was long past the fear and disorientation of my first phase; these days I looked for excuses to phase, eager to lose myself in the rhythm of running with no particular destination.
We didn't see many animals, which was nothing unusual since I generally scared the crap out of them. The lone exception was a mountain lion several hundred feet up the mountain, at the perimeter of my sight line. He dropped to a defensive crouch as soon as he caught my scent. Then he rose from his crouch to pace back and forth, full of authority and confidence that we were equally matched.
My juvenile brain was laughing about cats and dogs when I noticed that I was missing the Edward-in-motion show.
Dim as I was, I still managed to figure out that running slightly behind Edward had distinct advantages. I considered him a sight to behold under any circumstance, but Edward was nothing short of glorious when he ran. He was the definition of grace; amen, end of story. Even through the light clothing he wore I could see the beautifully efficient way Edward's body worked. All of his muscles moved in unity, as if he was dancing instead of running. The sight of his ass alone, tensing and releasing as his weight flowed from one leg to the other was hypnotic.
My panting had nothing to do with the quick pace Edward had set.
Then he turned his head, glancing over his shoulder to check how closely I was following. Even if I hadn't imprinted on him, even without my elevated awareness of his emotions, it would have been impossible to miss the joy coursing through Edward's body. Running for the pure pleasure of it, surrounded by the forest's incomparable beauty, reveling in the thrum of muscles working in harmony, Edward had never looked more alive. My traitorous brain reminded me that he wasn't alive, a thought that warred with the image before me. His presence right there, right then, seemed as natural as my own. I became captive to the process of follow-the-leader, content to allow the pull I felt toward him guide me along.
It wasn't long before Edward slowed his pace to match mine, allowing us to run beside each other. I wanted so badly to take this as an indication that he saw us as equals, maybe even partners. I knew it was too much to hope for but my heart had apparently gone sappy like that. I told my mind to shut the hell up, letting out a playful woof as I zigzagged through an area full of fallen trees. Edward giggled as he shot from side to side, keeping up with me effortlessly.
He fucking giggled. Edward was having as much fun as I was.
In fact, I was having so much fun that I was mega-disappointed when I realized Edward had turned us around, leading us back toward his car. I hadn't been able to track the sun through the forest canopy so I was surprised to find the sun low on the horizon when we regained our starting point. I seriously hoped that he would want to do this again soon.
And again and again and again.
Trotting over to my clothes, still right where I left them, the awareness of what would happen when I phased back caused me to freeze in indecision.
My clothes were in a pile on the ground.
I had taken them off so they wouldn't shred when I phased.
I was going to be bare-ass naked as soon as I phased back.
What to do? Grab my clothes and phase back behind a nearby tree? What if Edward thinks I'm going home and drives off before I can get dressed? Besides, I didn't need teeth holes in my new shirt. I'd had to do a complicated tune-up for Quil's dad to earn that money.
It's not like I had all afternoon to dither about it, either. Turning my back to Edward, I phased back quickly, grabbing my boxers in hope of hopping into them before I died of embarrassment.
An unmistakable growl came from Edward's direction as I placed one foot in a leg hole, trying to bend over as little as possible. The sound didn't just startle me, I stilled so completely that I could feel the tingle of Edward's eyes on me, scouring across my dark skin.
I straightened to my full height, allowing the boxers to drop to the dirt. Still self-conscious, I was just as excited by Edward's obvious interest. Had he known this was going to happen? Would Edward have manipulated our plans so that nakedness rewarded him at the end of our run?
Silly man; he should have just asked. I would have stripped for him in a heartbeat.
Taking a deep breath, I glanced resolutely over my shoulder to look at Edward. His face was even more open and vulnerable than it had been earlier that afternoon. His look was feral as he stared unabashedly at my body. Edward's face clearly communicated everything he was feeling at that moment: curiousity, excitement, anticipation, longing, hope.
I felt like he was giving me a gift.
Edward's willingness to risk opening up to me emotionally spurred my next decision. Catching and holding Edward's gaze, I turned until I faced him fully. His blatant interest made me feel strong, invincible. I was so choked with emotion at the atmosphere between us that my dick hardened completely, lengthening under his fierce scrutiny.
I spread my arms wide; palms open to him, inviting him to look to his heart's content. To witness the effect his presence had on me.
We stared at each other like that for several minutes. Neither of us spoke; words were unnecessary. We'd established a connection in the forest and had succeeded in carrying that connection along with us.
Eventually I grinned at him, inclining my head toward my clothes while cutting my eyes toward them at the same time.
With a playfully resigned sigh, Edward nodded his consent and walked to the driver's side of the car. He wore a lopsided grin that made my heart sing.
I have never dressed so quickly in my life.
Turns out Edward did want to see me again. We quickly fell into a routine of running together a couple of times per week. What we did with our time varied; we raced, walked, sometimes sitting together in the leaves and broken limbs, talking until we lost all sense of time. We ran to Port Angeles a couple of times (why drive when running felt so good, despite those occasions being in human form?). The days we spent together were pure bliss for me, whether we had naked time at the end or not. Edward and I never discussed this part of our dates. At least, I assumed we were dating; I was too nervous to push for clarification.
Edward was the one who finally brought up his eating habits. I would have been content to ignore that part of him completely but Edward was strangely determined that I have a clear understanding of his life, his existence. It was increasingly hard for me to think of Edward as undead.
We both hunted that day.
I had sensed that something was off about Edward, his muddy-dark eyes being one clue. I was surprised to hear how he struggled to feel satisfied with eating something which didn't totally satisfy his hunger. I don't know that I would be strong enough to have that kind of daily smackdown with myself.
My second surprise was how calm I felt watching him feed. I hunted if I stayed in wolf form for an extended period of time and never gave it a second thought. Edward was careful about what and how much he ate, to a greater degree than I ever did.
Instead, of waiting for me in the car Edward met me on the narrow dirt road after I dressed. He looked so determined that my stomach turned, immediately expecting the worst. The day had left me emotionally jacked.
Closing my eyes, bracing for bad news, I felt Edward's lips brush softly, experimentally against my forehead. I was afraid to breathe, afraid to move, afraid that even thinking might make him disappear. When his hand softly brushed against the nape of my neck, a wild tremor ran the length of my spine at the cool surprise of his touch, the way a chilly breeze brings fresh energy on a steamy day. I wondered idly if the clash of his cold skin against my heat produced a plume of steam. I sure felt steamy enough. Edward's lips lingered; gentle reassurance that we were closer now. Just as I began to hope that he would push things further, his lips were gone.
Taking my hand, Edward began leading me to the car. My fingers brushed his back before my hand gripped his shoulder. Apparently I wasn't ready to leave.
As the warmth from my hand radiated outward, Edward began to ease into my touch. Tentatively, I extended my fingers outward, exploring the soft play of fabric against his firm shoulder. I was completely lost in the smallest detail of him: how surprisingly little pressure caused his muscle to yield, as if I could knead it with my palm.
My hand continued its trek to the juncture of his neck and shoulder, creeping over the crest to cross Edward's chest as I gently tugged him toward me. I noticed he'd stopped breathing but wasn't sure if this was a problem or not. Did he even need to breathe?
I was breathing enough for both us, my heart rate reaching hummingbird mode. When I finally had his back flush against my chest, head tucked beneath my chin, I sighed in relief. Wrapping myself around him nourished me in a way I'd never imagined.
Edward's deep chuckle reverberated across my chest and my answering smile was undeniable. "You almost make me feel small." He laughed again, leaning backward even further against me.
"Small is definitely not a word I would use for you," I growled, closing my eyes to savor the moment. "Now that I have you like this I don't want to let you go."
"I don't have anywhere else I want to be, Jacob."
I was wearing a path in the linoleum, pacing back and forth in our small kitchen.
Edward was coming over, but that wasn't why I was wigged out. He had wanted to know if I was alone. Seems he wanted to discuss something.
That can't be good.
I was relieved to see Edward smiling when he arrived. He kissed me chastely, evidently happy to see me. Once we settled at the kitchen table and exchanged small talk, I relaxed a little further. Maybe this wasn't going to be so bad.
Afraid to let my guard down too far, though, I finally blurted out, "You need to get on with telling me what you came to discuss, Edward. I've been driving myself nuts trying to figure out what's wrong."
Edward took my hand affectionately, smiling determinedly. "I need to be honest with you about something. You asked me, back in the beginning, why I agreed to spend time with you."
"I remember. You were explaining how you didn't feel sorry for me and I had a major meltdown."
"That's perfectly fine, Jacob. Neither of us was dealing with the situation well but we were doing the best we could under the circumstances."
"What do you mean 'we'? You seemed perfectly normal." At that, Edward quirked an eyebrow, piercing me with one of those devastatingly intense looks of his. I couldn't help throwing my head back in laughter as I caught his meaning, "Right. As if I knew you well enough to have any clue what was going on with you."
Inclining his head in acknowledgement, Edward continued, "I took the cowardly way out of answering your question and owe you my most sincere apology for that."
I frowned in confusion but he held up his palm to me, asking that I allow him to continue uninterrupted. "What I told you was the truth. I want you to know that I've never lied to you. Lying is something of a necessity to my kind, and I've become quite adept at it, but I've never lied to you."
As I nodded my understanding, Edward began to hesitate. "What surprised me was how difficult it was to tell you the entire truth. It was completely unexpected and surprisingly uncomfortable. Jacob, how much do you know about vampires?"
This abrupt change in the conversation was a little startling. "I think I've learned a lot. I know how you spend your days and nights. I've seen you feed so that's no mystery anymore." I started to feel the strength of my words as I spoke. "You've seen me in ways that no one other than my pack brothers have and I thought it was the same for you. Are you trying to tell me that there's something I don't know?"
"Yeah, I guess I'm still beating around the bush. In addition to everything you already know about vampires there are some of us who also have … special abilities." Edward paused and looked at me expectantly, allowing his words a moment to penetrate.
He should know by now that I'm pretty lame, so subtle hints may not be his wisest course of action.
I slowly started putting pieces together aloud, "So you're telling me that you're one of those 'special' vampires? Exactly how special is 'special'? Damn, Edward; you can fly, can't you? Why didn't you tell me before now! That is the coolest thing I've ever heard! Can I fly with you? Like, if you hold on to me and I promise not to…"
Edward seemed thoroughly baffled and shushed me sharply. "No! I can't fly; nobody can do that. Flying is a vampire myth, not a real ability. No; what I do isn't anything like that. I can hear your thoughts."
I smacked him on the arm, instantly grateful that I healed quickly. "You are so full of shit! I would know if you could read my mind. Dude, if you knew what was really going on up here you'd have told me, 'Thanks, but no thanks' from the very beginning."
The look on Edward's face sobered me up pretty damn quick. "On the contrary, Jacob; that's precisely why I'm here with you right now. Other than helping to keep my family safe, I have never had a single reason in nine decades to be grateful for this ability. There are so many things I despise about this existence but knowing what people are thinking is unequivocally the worst. Meeting you changed that."
My thoughts were swirling; it was all I could do to focus on Edward's voice as he continued to speak. Please don't tell me that he's been able to hear every filthy thought I've had about him. Is he seriously telling me that he knows all the random things that run through my disgusting mind?
"Yes, but I need you to trust me and listen. If, when I've finished, you're unable to forgive that I've deceived you on this point, I'll understand. Are you okay or should I wait to continue?"
I nodded my consent, more stunned and embarrassed than angry.
"I was curious enough to see what this imprinting business was about that I agreed to spend time with you. Jacob, please understand that I have been content with my own company for so long that I had stopped looking for a partner. I've been alone for a very long time and believed that I'd spend the rest of eternity that way. My intention here was to humor you for a short time, find out how the imprinting process worked, with no intention that we would ever become involved."
I squirmed to wrench my hand away, unsure if I would be able to sit through his explanation after all. Edward strengthened his grip, waiting until I was looking at him again before continuing. His voice carried a new urgency, "Jacob, the purity of your thoughts, the strength of your commitment to the people you care about, the devotion you had for me before knowing anything about me was staggering. Being privy to your unfiltered thoughts was what I needed to move beyond the sullen, bitter ass I was before I met you. I am a very selfish creature. It was enormously flattering to hear how fascinating you found me."
"I can't believe that this is something new for you," I blurted. "You must have women, probably guys even, falling over you all the time."
Edward shook his head emphatically. "No, Jacob, you have to trust me that what you feel for me is so much more. Yes, having strangers attracted to me because of my looks is nothing new. I have no way to completely shut out what I hear so I've had to work very hard learning to tune out most of what people are thinking. If I'm lucky, it becomes something like background noise. The thoughts I hear about me are usually so disgusting or demeaning that they're completely unattractive. What is so vitally different about you is that you have an honest appreciation for me. Not because of what I say or what I do or the way I look. Not what you believe people will think when they see you with me, not what you want to do to me or have me do to you."
I was suddenly appalled and probably turned scarlet. He can't seriously be saying that I've never thought about doing nasty things to his body.
I wanted to tackle him, sit on his chest and lick him from head to toe every time I saw him.
Edward started laughing and I nearly ran away again as the horror of his confession set in. He stood, pulling me to him in a reassuring embrace. My horror dissolved as the hard chill of his body brought my temperature to nearly normal. The sensation of this gorgeous cold compress holding me close made me so giddy that I started laughing along with him, despite having no clue what was funny.
"Yes, Jacob, I know perfectly well that you've had some indecent ideas." The naughty promise in his wink morphed my remaining embarrassment into excitement. "But even those thoughts were a product of what you knew and already appreciated about me. When you're with me, I'm the center of your universe; nothing else exists. Let me tell you, that's powerfully flattering. You're so happy to simply spend time with me that you're content with anything we do. Talking, sitting quietly, they're both equally fine as long as we're together. When we do talk, you listen; really listen without your mind wandering to what's for dinner or what you did earlier that day. Your thoughts clearly show how I fulfill all your needs and, by extension, you're fulfilling mine."
Whether from his touch or his words, Edward was rapidly making it difficult to think of anything except mauling him. "Edward, I'll take your word for it, that I give you my undivided attention and all. If you can really hear what's going through my messed up mind, though…you've got to know that holding me like this is making it very hard to pay attention to a word you're saying."
He brought me closer, wrapping himself around me until we were pressed closer than the pages of a book.
Edward tilted his head, brushing his lips lightly across mine then brushed his hips against mine as well. "Mmm, I have to agree; very hard, indeed."
I could only shake my head at his awful, seductive joke; speech was totally out of the question. Edward was obviously right about my single-mindedness; all I could do at that moment was fill myself with what he was offering. Sight, sound, scent, touch and I couldn't wait to taste. My senses had never felt so satisfied.
Edward ran his nose along my jaw, travelling back and forth in several slow passes. His voice murmured so low that it took a moment to determine if he was talking to himself or to me. "I'm an incredibly lucky man if you're not angry at me. I was afraid that forgiveness was too much to hope for."
Was he kidding? In what dimension could I have felt anything but horny when his lips nibbled me so…
"Carnally isn't a word, sweetheart, but I love the way you think." Edward's lips met mine again, more forcefully this time.
"I should be really angry with you," I panted in an unconvincing whimper, my hands committing the highs and lows of his back to memory. "I reserve the right to be angry at some point in the future, when I'm back in my right mind."
"Agreed," Edward promised as his lips moved to my collarbone, making that my new favorite move of his.
Sometime during Edward's exploration I lost rational thought, my instincts taking over as we allowed ourselves to touch, unrestrained, for the first time. My skin wore a numb memento of Edward's path until my entire body wore a remembrance of his touch.
I have no idea when I decided to taste him; I seem to remember removing his shirt, apparently coming to my senses with my tongue between his pecs, lapping at the shallow divot before tracing the firm curve of muscle.
Edward had begun wearing a light, musky cologne. As I considered the scent, I noticed with appreciation that my nose didn't burn any more. He had managed to convert his scent into something not only pleasant but provocative. Arousing.
Edward chose that moment to press his hips against mine again, tearing a guttural cry from both of us.
"I think I'm going to really like having you know what I'm thinking. At times like this, at least."
"Another way to use my ability that you've shown me. I should find a way to express my appreciation to you."
With that, Edward pressed his flat palm to my abdomen, gliding his cooling touch until it came to rest above my heart.
It was such an intimate, caring gesture that my throat constricted, tears forming without warning.
He shushed me softly with his lips, "I know."
Pulling away just enough to catch my eyes, he smirked wickedly, "It was the most efficient way to warm my hand."
I didn't have more than a second to ponder Edward's meaning, his hand breaching my jeans the next moment.
Not only was my question answered when his noticeably-warmer hand wrapped around my dick, I couldn't help but appreciate his thoughtfulness.
Edward's laughter was a happy rumbling in his chest, his whole torso vibrating with amusement. "Every muscle in your body just went, "Ahhhh."
I nuzzled his hair, kissing my way around the rim of his ear as his unoccupied hand released the button of my jeans, pulling the zipper down with surprisingly little effort. "It's showing its appreciation for your appreciation."
That last word was mangled by a hiss as Edward nudged my jeans open and began to stroke me, his hand firmly gripping my now steel-hard cock. I don't remember ever having been harder.
Edward kissed me again; a slow, sensual kiss in divine contrast with the quick pace of his hand.
He had taken only six remarkable, heavenly passes across my dick, palming the head as he went, before my balls began to tighten and I knew I was going to explode.
"Ungh, Edward…slower, babe, please…otherwise, you're gonna have a messy hand any minute, and I don't want this to be over so soon."
He slowed his rhythm without losing any force, making the friction all the more agonizing. My forehead had fallen against his shoulder, my hands gripping his ass.
"Edward, I'm still…" He cut me off, again, with the force of his lips. If he was going to shut me up, that was my preferred way for him to do it.
I had to give in; it was useless to continue fighting him. Two additional strokes and I howled; well, not literally, erupting in spurts of sticky jizz all over his hands and shirt.
He pressed his forehead to mine as I swallowed thickly, trying to steady my breathing.
I didn't have to tell him how profoundly amazing that was; or that he was my first everything.
Edward already knew.
Tugging a towel off of the oven, I mopped up his shirt and hand. Then I tented my fingers against his chest, dragging them coyly toward his jeans. I hoped my eyes were full of lust as I told him, "Now it's your turn."
Edward shook his head, catching my hand and kissing my fingertips, "Not tonight. I didn't come here intending to do that and I need to discuss venom precautions with Carlisle first. I won't take any chances with you getting hurt, as unlikely as that may be."
I pushed him into a chair, kissing across his cheek while settling myself in his lap. "You know that I'm only agreeing with you because I'm insanely happy right now. Don't get used to it."
"Oh, I see plenty of agreement in our future. I can hear the relief I'm not even sure you're aware of echoing throughout your body once I'm with you. Your mouth may say no but your body says yes." Now he just sounded smug.
"Edward, some of that is the imprint. I have a pull toward you that's hella strong. Scratch that; borderline obsessive is closer to the truth."
"I know, sweetheart. I understand obsession, believe me. I can hear that layer of need. I should warn you that vampires are equally zealous once we've chosen a mate." Edward's tone was serious; he should have known that I was well beyond listening to warnings by then. His eyes sparkled with excitement, his high cheekbones accentuated by his joyous smile.
Then I felt shaky for an entirely different reason. "Are you telling me …?"
Edward nodded, his breath cool in my ear, causing the hair on the back of my neck to stand in the sexiest way. "I want us to be together. I want to know everything about you, all of the minute things that make you happy, make you smile, make you scream…You're going to find that my obsessive need to be with you is going to make your imprinting bond look like a schoolgirl's crush."
It only took a second for me to decide I could live with that.
A/N: It was necessary to suspend the bit of canon that states vampire venom is highly lethal to werewolves. It would have been beyond sad for Jacob to imprint on someone and never be able to swap body fluids.
I'm endlessly grateful to the person who allowed me to write this story by providing this wonderful prompt:
Jake/Edward. Rated M. Jake imprints on Edward but since Edward isn't human, the imprint doesn't bind him to Jacob. So, Jacob has to make Edward fall in love with him the old fashioned way.
With his charm and sparkling personality. ) Angsty, UST, eventual HEA.
I can't thank Meikela, estas es yo and mellyfrisco6 enough for pre-reading. Their feedback made the story so much stronger than anything I could have produced on my own.
Thank you for reading.