A/N Sorry for the ridiculous wait between updates. RL got kinda crazy and I really struggled with this chapter. It's shorter than the others but it took me four attempts to even feel like it was worth Mischief_Maker1's time to beta. I hope you like it. I'm already working on Chapter 5 - promise.
I definitely don't own any part of the Twilight saga, well, other than all the books, DVDs, soundtracks and scores. Hmmm... Seriously wish Stephenie Meyer would make this whole thing publicly traded. Maybe then I'd recoup some of the money I've spent.
I sensed the moment Sam and Jake rejoined the pack's patrol before their minds even put forth a thought. It was eerie to be so completely connected. You hear about soul mates and people who can sense their loved one as though tethered by a cosmic force, but I'd wondered at times if it was the same as being completely mentally connected to 9 other individuals. Anytime I took the sacred shape of my ancestors I had no secrets. My heart, soul and every thought were laid bare.
Where are Collin, Seth, Leah and Embry?
Only two of the Cullens went to the funeral with Bella, Sam, so the Doc took the female bloodsuckers hunting and the other two males offered to pick up the patrol closest to the edge of the Res. So, we thought it would be okay for a few of us to get some down time. They know we'll call them back if they're needed or you're not okay with it. Otherwise, they'll be back at dusk to spell a few of us.
Good thinking. Thanks, Quil. We want to be ready, but we don't want to have anyone so run down they're not 100 percent.
Is Bella okay?
I felt Sam's emotional flinch at the inquiry. His mind went back to his less than tactful disclosure about the death of the boy in the meadow – Ben.
None of us had known who he was. We had estimated he was probably a freshman, or maybe a sophomore, but hadn't expected him to know any of the Cullens or Bella. For one, word had it none of the Cullens associated with anyone at school other than each other and Bella had pretty much made their ways hers. Secondly, he was barely the height of Brady or Collin and had a bunch of comic books with him.
She's taking it hard. She really seems to think it is somehow her fault. I tried to get her to see the blame is on the leeches but she just gets mad and shuts down, so I stopped trying.
Jake and Sam's thoughts both flashed to the funeral they'd attended today. It was like seeing a movie, but rather than viewing a flat, two dimensional image you saw it from multiple camera angles.
We all continued to run our patrol, spread throughout the Res and parts of the surrounding forest as Jake and Sam allowed us all to attend the funeral and pay our respects, albeit, in a less conventional way.
They hadn't attended the services at the funeral home. Forks is a small town and while we weren't exactly strange faces, we weren't part of the group either. The memorial service was going to be mainly Ben's family and friends and it would have been obvious that we weren't friends of his when the only person we knew in the gathering was Bella and her two bloodsucking tag-alongs.
So, Sam had decided it would be best to wait and join along the fringes of the group when they went to the cemetery.
Is that -
Yea, Paul, Cullen was a pall bearer – if you can believe that shit.
Huh. I didn't realize they had friends besides each other.
Who's the girl?
Which girl, Brady? There's only a couple dozen…
Sorry, Sam. The girl sitting between Bella and his parents. His older sister? She seems to be taking it pretty hard.
Jake, you said she's his girlfriend, right?
Yea, Bells said her name's Angela. They'd been dating for a while, I guess.
If she only knew two of the people she leaned on during her boyfriend's funeral were the same kind of bloodsucking monster that killed him …
I had the same thoughts, Jared.
Sorry, Jake. I know it couldn't have been easy for you to be there and see Bella with him.
I'm alright, Quil. I just want this all to be over with already, preferably with a lot of dead vamps.
As the remainder of the graveside service went before us in our collective mind's eye, our thoughts were numerous and emotions ran the gambit. Guilt for having missed the parasite that took the young life. Sympathy for the loss of a loved one as well as empathy as some of us had lost own loved ones, as well, although not in such a horrific manner. Anger, at both ourselves, again for missing the bloodsucker, and that the existence of a creature as horrible as that would make our existence necessary.
Jake and Sam had hung back and to the side of the group so they could see the family, and with them, Bella and the boy's girlfriend, but as the mourners began to disperse they had to leave or try to explain their need to attend the funeral of a boy they hadn't known.
Just as Jake and Sam's thoughts had shifted back to the green and greys surrounding us, our four remaining members joined us. I hadn't even realized dusk had arrived.
Someone shift the conversation. I need a distraction.
Distraction from what, Jake?
The point of a distraction, Seth, is to not think about something so why would I want to rehash it to tell you about it?
That was uncool, Jake, we haven't even been here. How was he supposed to know what has your panties in a twist? Other than we all know the glorious leech loving Bella Swan is the only thing that gets you all riled up these days…
Fucking shut it, Leah!
Hey, Sam, just because you're the Alpha doesn't mean you get to control everything we think or feel.
WHAT PAUL? Three voices resounded at once.
Geez … angry much? I was just wondering if Rachel was gonna be home this weekend.
No, Paul, Rachel has some big tests coming up soon and said she needed more study time. I guess you'll just have to hang out at your house and eat your own damn food.
Awww, Jake, I'm wounded. I thought we were bonding.
The only bonding that's gonna happen is my foot to your ass if you don't quit mooching off my family. We can barely support ourselves, let alone your dumb ass.
I do not mooch. I allow you to share with me. And I only do it because Rachel keeps telling me she wants me to get to know your dad better. Like he doesn't know me well enough now.
Whatever. She's not coming home for a couple weeks. She said she was gonna call you.
Well, I haven't exactly been home much lately, now have I?
Claire's started –
Not again with the 'Claire is the most amazing, smartest, most beautiful toddler in the world' crap.
Fuck, Leah! Is there anything you won't bitch about?
Whatever, Jared, just because a few of you idiots have imprinted doesn't mean all of us should have to be regaled with the drivel.
Paul, Jared, Quil, Brady …
Now that the others are back from their rest, go and take a few hours. Try to actually get some sleep. Be back at midnight. We'll need our numbers strongest in the longest part of the night.
See ya then.
I had been running the patrol closest to the edge of the Res' forest line so as soon as Sam gave us the okay for some down time I found the first good place to stop and allowed myself to regain the sanity that can only come from being the only one in your head. As the cool ice slithered down my spine I felt the shimmer as my body shifted and my muscles contracted to the smaller human form.
As much as I hate Edward Cullen, if his ability to hear everyone's thoughts was anything like being tied into the pack's mind, I felt sorry for the guy. I couldn't imagine hearing every thought from every person that was even close by and having no way to shut it off. How is he not a raving lunatic?
I untied my shorts from my ankle, pulled them up over my calves then thighs before fastening them and placing the small leather tie in my pocket. These moments after shifting were always the most awkward for me. I kept waiting for the day one of the older Res women would come wandering by and I'd have to try to explain why I was standing there naked as the day I was born with my shorts in my hand.
As clothed as I ever was any more, I began the walk home.
Now that my thoughts were mine, and only mine, again I let myself think back over the images from the funeral. The girlfriend haunted me. Her face was so drawn and lifeless as though she had died, as well. She had strong features and despite her obvious pain she carried herself with an inner strength. She leaned on Bella and the littlest leech but she didn't allow herself to crumble and be carried. They were assistance, not support.
Hmmm. She'd be fine. She was still young and even though it would clearly take some time for her to recover from her loss she would have time to find love and be happy again.
At least I hoped so.
Once again, my thanks go to Mischief_Maker1 for her time and patience in working with me as a beta and mentor. If you love the wolves and want a very AU story read her "You Wanted More" and its sequel, "Consequences of Wanting More."