Title: Friends?

Rating: M

PostSecret Used: I want you to want to hang out with me at 1PM, not 1AM. http:/bit(.)ly/g1SmZU

Summary: Leah has more than one brother, a whole pack in fact. Would any of them be there for her when they weren't forced to through a linked mind?

•PostSecret concept created by Frank Warren. Recognizable characters and story elements are the property of Stephenie Meyer•


I still couldn't understand what was wrong with me. Was I butch? Was I just really bitchy? I'd punished myself with these questions a few months ago, when Sam left me, and hadn't stopped since. Especially when I broke out of my skin and found myself linked to his mind.

Suddenly, I knew I wasn't the reason he'd left. Everything was so confusing at first, that I just accepted his thoughts: Emily was everything. It wasn't that I became nothing, just that she was so much more. The longer the thought held, the more it hurt. What did she have over me? Why wasn't she a wolf? Why didn't he imprint on me?

A week later, it was still bothering me; Sam and Emily less so, although the memory still tore into me like a knife in my gut. Why was I the only female wolf? What was wrong with me?

No answers came. Mom joined the council and I heard all the legends, and I still had no clue. What was the difference between me and the third wife? Why was I one of her sons? It made me cry, it made me scream, and it made me horrid to the rest of my pack.

I shouldn't have been surprised no one wanted to spend time with me. I was a mess and took my anger out on everyone. Still mourning Dad, still confused by my changes, still heartbroken, and now even my mother and brother were avoiding me. Hugging a pillow, I felt the ripple down my spine. My emotions were getting out of control. The wolf wanted to have me. It was tempting to let it win. Things were easier as the wolf. "The Bitch", as I already started to think of her. She was an animal. She didn't care about true love. She didn't need friends. She hunted and she fought. Simple. Of course, that was only on the rare occasion I didn't find the pack waiting for me. Their minds reflected my strangeness; replaying everything that made me angry and spiteful, even when that wasn't their intent. They were so sympathetic that it made me crazy. I wasn't some poor lamb, I was a wolf!

That did it. My pyjamas tore from me as I instantly tripled in size, sitting on my haunches on the bed. Mom was not going to be happy about me needing to buy more clothes. Whatever. It was blissfully quiet in my head. Who was on watch tonight? Certainly someone was. Someone was always guarding little Bella Swan for some stupid reason. She obviously wanted to join the bloodsuckers, what need did she have for our protection?

I padded downstairs and pushed the door open, thankful for the broken latch. As I entered the forest, I felt a stirring in my head. It was so strange, sharing thoughts. I suddenly saw another patch of trees, a yard. The Swan house, of course. Someone, Embry, fell asleep on the job. I barked a chuckle and stretched my legs, running.

His thoughts were still quiet, and I was thrilled by that. He was still working through the knowledge that his Dad wasn't his father. I had just lost my father, too, so I was dealing with a similar loss. Bets were on Sam for his brother. Sam's dad was a bit of creep and definitely wouldn't be above cheating on his wife.

Christ, you are fast. His thoughts were admiring, something I didn't expect.

Heh, yeah. I like it. I was the fastest of us, with only Jacob even coming close to catching me for speed. It was something. I wasn't as big as they were, not as strong, but I was able to run any of them into the ground.

Oh, I think I have the endurance, Embry thought in reply. But I'd definitely be waiting for you to stop before I caught up.

I barked another laugh in reply. He pictured me, head on forepaws, panting at the end of my sprint. His light grey spotted form came up behind and latched onto my tail - pulling it - before rolling me and going for my ears. I changed my direction and headed his way. None of them had ever wrestled with me playfully like that. I'd taken a bite at Paul and Sam when one or the other pissed me off. That had been rather aggressive though, and the others had usually helped pin me down. What Embry pictured looked like fun. I'd seen the boys play like that.

It took me very little time to arrive at his side, picking up the painfully sweet smell of vampire as I approached. How did he manage to ignore that?

It's worse when they're near. He's in the house now. He showed me Edward Cullen climbing in the window as he had observed it earlier in the evening.

Why? There were no more words for the thought. I was asking about everything. Bella, Edward, Jacob, the pack. Why any of it? Why all of it? It made no sense.

Embry rolled his shoulders in a wolf shrug. She's human, we protect her. It was that simple in his mind. I supposed it should be enough for me, but even as a wolf, it was like protecting the cub that went sniffing in the badger hole for the fourth time. They have to learn at some point, don't they?

You think different, he sent. He showed me his thoughts, fighting to win, strength contests, desire for girls, pleasure in seeing how things work. We don't spend so much time on 'why.'

I barked a little. Well, I guess I am still a girl, then.

He sniffed my butt and licked his nose. Yep, girl.

Fuck off, I answered, yipping slightly in laughter. It wasn't nearly as odd as it would have been for him to feel me up if we were human; this was just what animals did. We were animals. It wasn't much more than if he'd... I dunno, hugged me or held my hand or something.

You think different, he sent again. I like it. That came across with an air of exploration. He was interesting in getting a look inside a girl's head. Learning how we thought.

Heh, well, use it wisely. I caught a sniff of vampire and my hackles rose. I'm on it. I told him, running in the direction the scent had come. I stopped quickly, finding myself a few yards from the largest Cullen. He grinned at me, dimples popping on his cheeks.

"Neutral ground," he reminded me.

I sniffed and instantly regretted it, whining and pawing my nose.

"Aww, something prick you, puppy?" He had the nerve to try to reach out and touch me. I snapped at his hand, which he pulled back quickly. "Easy. No harm. Just checking on Bella."

Embry was on edge with me. Why were they so worried for her? We were watching them as much as Bella, making sure no accidents happened.

Again with why, Embry thought. I outran the vampire to the house. Don't you ever just accept?

No. I bowled into him, rolling him onto the ground. He yipped and bit at me, tugging on my ears with his teeth and kicking to roll me onto my back. He succeeded, too – stronger. I wasn't pinned though and was soon on my feet across from him, baring my teeth and licking my chops. He barked a laugh and lunged for me this time. I circled, nipping his hind. He whined sharply and I felt his pain as my teeth tore skin.

Sorry!

No sweat, gone already. It was and he pounced on me, nearly tearing off my ear. You wanna play rough? he asked, growling slightly as I shimmed away from him again.

Yes! I didn't hold back even a little, using teeth and claws both. I got raked and bit, blood spilling, but it didn't matter. It was thrilling, fighting, not for my life, but for the joy of it. Releasing myself into the nature of the creature I had become. Not for the first time, I revelled in the simplicity of being an animal.

Embry's thoughts changed, becoming more feral, they also became... amorous. That wasn't the right word. He was suddenly driven to mate. He seemed to notice though and shook himself out of it, turning human.

"Shit, I'm sorry Leah. Don't know what came over me."

It took a little more focus for me to change shape, and I was a little uncomfortable being naked with him – I hadn't been a wolf as long as he had. Slouching slightly so I was covered by the bushes between us, at least a little, I answered. "It's okay, just part of the wolf."

"Yeah, but.." he blushed a little and stepped toward me. I froze, feeling like a deer in the headlights. Wishing dearly I was a wolf again, I realized how much I appreciated being predator rather than prey.

Embry brushed my cheek and the hair that was now cut short behind my ear. "Thanks."

"Um, no problem. Thanks for... not being like the others," I said, rolling my eyes a little.

He chuckled. "How's that?"

I shrugged and crossed my arms over my breasts. "When you point out how I'm different, it's not like them. They make me feel weird, like a freak."

He laughed. "We're all freaks, Leah."

"You know what I mean."

"I do," he answered and brushed my cheek again. "Thanks for letting me see inside."

I blushed this time. "You and all the others," I muttered.

"I'll let them thank you themselves," he said with a grin.

We both caught the scent of the Cullen returning at the same time and phased back into wolves, instinctively. We were safer this way.

"Good night, mutts," he hollered as he ran past.

I'm going to head back to bed, I thought, fighting a yawn.

I'll... try not to fall asleep again. His tongue lolled out of his mouth as he laughed at himself. Actually, he looked up at the moon. Jared should be coming to relieve me soon. Sleep looks so good. He pictured himself in bed, wrapped around a girl with dark skin and long black hair. I didn't know her. I wasn't sure he did, either.

Yeah, sleep, I thought with a snort that came out as a huff.

He lolled his tongue further. Sleep comes after, he tried to explain. I barked and ran for home.

Sweet dreams, Leah.

The next day, I worked the store. It was quiet; but after lunch Embry, Jacob and Quil came in. I looked at them, still not quite sure what our non-wolf relationship was. We'd never really been friends, and with the exception of Embry last night, I hadn't been particularly nice to any of them as wolves either. They grabbed some snacks and headed out.

"Hi, Embry," I said, taking his money.

"Hey." He didn't quite meet my eyes and looked over his shoulder at his friends. "Later," he said, turning to go.

"Later," I answered, a little saddened. I reopened my magazine, not so interested in the contents any longer, instead wanting run away - wolf-style.

Two nights later, it was my night to patrol. Sam was with me, making it just about as bad as possible. Being Alpha, I couldn't snap at him the way I really wanted, and being Sam, he couldn't stop thinking about Emily, which was fuelling my bad mood.

Go to her then! I sent him after yet another image of the two of them slipped past in his mind. It's not like we're expecting an attack. I've got this.

I watched him weigh the idea, and then he sent agreement. Call if you need me.

Yeah, maybe if I was near-death I would. He didn't respond to that, thankfully, just left. I ran the circuit around our territory twice as fast without him. Fighting back tears, I reflected on the love he had for his imprint. I wouldn't have that, would I? No one was going to imprint on me.

Someone phased. I waited to see who it was. Embry. I sighed in relief and changed my direction.

Hey, girlie, he sent, picturing the lady parts he'd sniffed the other night.

Gross.

He barked a laugh and ran toward me. Well, you seemed to need confirmation. See, you don't have one of these.

GROSS! I replied as he focused on himself now. Of course, they were all much better endowed as wolves and though it probably wouldn't be frightening in this form, I still thought of myself as human.

Oh, yeah, gross. He had caught that thought. Are we really... He drifted off into his own ugly thoughts of engorged members and sexual deviancy. We both whined a little at it and I tried to block him, thinking about anything else, shopping, makeup, hiking, waterfalls.

Thanks, he sent as he came out of it. That was not pretty.

No, it wasn't. I agreed. I shivered a little, remembering pieces.

He whined and put his head down. Don't remind me. Ugh.

I chuckled. Then, focusing, I phased human. "There. Now you don't have to worry about it."

He phased with me, but was obviously aroused. "Sorry." He strode to a fallen log and sat, hands covering himself as he groaned.

I stood for a moment longer, and then moved to sit beside him. "It's all right. No harm done."

"Thanks," he murmured again. "Leah. Could I-" He stopped suddenly and looked down. I tipped my head in his direction, so I was nearer when he spun back, his lips finding mine. My eyes went wide and I backed away from his kiss.

"Embry, I don't think-"

"No, don't think," he murmured, kissing me again. This time, I pushed him aside. He didn't fight me, but sighed. "Yeah, I'm not... him." He looked down again.

I chuckled. "You think that's it? No, you aren't Sam, thank God." I shook my head, still amused. "It's not that Embry, I'm just not..." I didn't know what I was.

"It's okay, Leah. I'm... going back to bed."

I couldn't help it, I laughed. He looked at me, frowning.

"Alone?" I asked, still chuckling. He got my reference now, his thought the night before.

"Unless you're joining me," he said cockily and leaned in for another kiss.

This time, I was prepared and put my palm to his puckered lips, shoving him back. He was laughing with me. He reached out and grabbed me into a hug. I tensed; worried this was like the kiss. We were both nude, my skin pressed to his, but something in the way his hand held the back of my head, and the other rubbed my back, it felt... familiar. I sighed and relaxed, resting my chin on his shoulder.

He kissed my ear and that was so much less awkward than kissing my lips. "Thanks again, Leah. One of these days, you're going to get fed up with me and just rip me a new one, aren't you."

I laughed. "Probably. Not tonight though." I patted his back again before releasing him. He rose and phased, running off. I waited a few moments before donning fur again myself.

He was in his yard, about to phase back. He pictured me in his head before doing so, human. I felt the friendship, the familiarity that had come with that hug. It was weird, but he was my brother in the pack.

My relationship with the rest of the pack never improved, and Embry seemed to go with them whenever it wasn't just the two of us. When I was a wolf, I was usually so preoccupied by the minds of the others that it didn't occur to me until after. When I was human, it hurt - seeing him hanging with his friends and feeling that I didn't count as one.

It was impossible to keep secrets in the pack, but I was going to try. It would help to get it out, written down somewhere, so I wouldn't keep it inside. That was a sure way for one of the others to pick it out of my head.

I pulled one of the postcards off the rack in the store. They were intended for tourists who came to First Beach. I grabbed a sharpie and wrote on the one with a pair of frogs.

I want you to want to hang out with me at 1PM, not 1AM.

Now, who could I send it to? The bells on the door jingled and I shoved the card in my back pocket.

Embry entered alone.

"Hey, how you doing?"

"Um, okay, I guess. What's up?"

He shrugged. "Just wanted to see you."

I smiled.