After the day I had yesterday, I almost felt the need for adult supervision. So of course my parents weren't getting back the next week. It's not like I was nervous about my soul mate meeting my girlfriend. I ran the early morning patrol so that Brian could spend more time with his sister.
I picked up the smell of half-vampire in the forest.
I did what any relative would do (well, what any of my relatives would do); I headed over to visit.
By the time I got there the house was silent (Seth had the best ears out of all of us, so I was sure he heard me coming), but I showed myself in anyway. They were sitting on the couch like last time, though this time they had cartons of Chinese food on their laps as she lounged on the couch, her feet tucked under his leg.
She had such great legs.
"Hey, kid," Seth said. "Good timing. Sit down."
Curious, I did what I was told. He didn't seem upset; she did, a little, but he was the one she was watching with pursed lips, not me, so I figure I was good.
"Hope I'm not interrupting."
They ignored me. Instead, she muttered, "Jacob's not going to be pleased."
My uncle smiled as she rolled her eyes. Then he stood up and offered to get me something. I asked for a beer (she looked disapproving) so then I asked for a coke and she asked for water and he wandered into the kitchen.
"I have an aunt who can see the future."
She was talking to me.
"Alice," Seth said. Like I cared what her name was. I was still stuck on the seeing the future part.
"Yes," she said. "There's a number of nomads travelling through British Columbia. They have an anniversary to celebrate together, which they're going to do by attacking a small town."
"Is this for real?"
I took the coke, but my head was reeling. My uncle handed her the water and then sat on the armrest behind her.
"Alice is usually right."
"Dad's out of town."
"We know." She sighed. It finally hit me.
"Hey, with Dad and Mom gone it's technically your pack," I reminded my uncle. "You want to do something about this, it's easy. We'll do it. I can already tell you Will and Brian are in. All the way."
"I know," he said slowly.
Technically was the key word. Seth wasn't around for half the year. He couldn't ask them to do this.
Nessie sighed again.
There were labels all over her clothes and a suitcase that might have cost more than our car in the front hall. The entire house was huge, but I think I understood why you would want to go off and spend your free time in the middle of nowhere helping to rebuild what someone had tried to break beyond repair. Duh. My parents had only been showing me my whole life.
I got it.
She had everything, so she gave back. My parents were indestructible, so they protected those who weren't.
Sometimes they screwed up. Hell, lots of times they screwed up. People got killed. People got left behind. People fell apart. They still kept going, still tried to keep an eye on everything. What was the point of superstrength if you couldn't use it to help?
It was all really simple.
So I grinned at Uncle Seth.
"If we can save those people, then we need to do this. So, are you in or am I going to have to do this myself?"
"Jacob is really not going to like this." She sighed yet again.
"How many are there?" I asked. With Embry and Sam out, that left just three of the old timers, if they even wanted to help, plus the three of us.
Six on four is nothing.
I knew I could count on Will.
The rest of the pack wasn't completely convinced, but they were running with us, following along when I asked. Brian didn't like anything that might leave one on one odds, but he was on my left. Seth and Quil and Paul were going to fight together, try to take two out. They had years of practice working together.
I was so pumped.
We could do this.
They used to do this a lot more; I could read it in all the old timer's thoughts. But then they had wives and kids and usually Alice saw things on the other side of the country and how were they supposed to get out there and raise families at the same time?
They missed going on the offensive.
I set the pace, fast but not too fast. I didn't want the guys exhausted by the time we got there. We didn't have a lot of time, Nessie said, but we did have until it got dark. She couldn't tell me much more than that. The second we decided to go after the vamps (the second she let me know what was going on), her aunt couldn't see what was happening.
So we were flying blind. That's why we had supped-up senses. We'd manage.
We go in fast and hard.
That's what she said.
So that's where Will got it from. No wonder my father hated his brother-in-law. We about to head into battle—a little originality couldn't hurt.
From Seth's mind I could hear how close we were getting. The vamps would hear us soon. They probably wouldn't know what was coming for them, but they would try to pick up the pace. I wasn't sure how close they were to the town, but I didn't want to take any chances, so I sent Paul and Quil to head them off.
Part of me wanted to be the first into the fight. Every instinct I had, actually. But just because I looked like an animal didn't mean I had to act like one. Seth and Will would come at them from one side, distract them, and Brian and I would come in from the other when they weren't looking.
Timing was important, of course. I wasn't going to let my bait get beaten up.
Brian had the scent now and we all let it fill our minds, something deeply repugnant. It was a little tricky to anticipate where the vamps were, but we were the experts.
Don't let them get your arms around you. Attack from the side.
The words were still burned into my brain.
We crossed I don't know many miles in a split second and then they were there. I couldn't get over how unnatural they looked, with their pale skin and bright red eyes—their expression was inhuman, a bad imitation of the life that sparked in actual people.
It wasn't going to be a problem ripping them apart piece by piece.
I took the one on the left, let Seth have the one on the right, gave Brian and Will the one in the middle, Quil and Paul the one in the back. In the back of my mind, I could hear Brian co-ordinating, Will listening, but I tuned them out.
Of course they'd do what I'd told them to do.
I thought about the vampire in front of me, Judy's size, with big curly blonde hair. Not the most manly of kills, but just because she looked like a cherub didn't mean she wasn't dangerous. Plus, it was safer for me to take the smaller wolf since I was by myself for this.
I got her in the shoulder before she knew that I was coming for her, my teeth digging into her flesh, tearing at the joint faster than anything, before she should get her teeth in me. Once her arm was off it was easy going. Just concentrate on moving faster, watch for the openings. She stayed close to the ground, trying to use my size against me, but she was a little disoriented from having her arm twitching on the ground beside her.
When she wobbled, I pounced.
She was tougher than I had imagined vampires would be. I knew if I had been human, I would have stood no chance. As it was, I was panting by the time she in pieces at my feet. Then I turned to help the guys, who were chasing a limping armless creature through the forest. I had just started to run when Brian gave the command and Will took out the son of a bitch.
Nice, I said. I was already looking around. Quil was toying with the vamp now, the one-legged creature struggling just to stay standing. Finish it, I ordered. He did.
Seth came through the clearing with a pair of legs in his mouth. I sent Brian and Paul to do a sweep, to make sure the four we had killed were all the vampires in the area.
Alice is pretty accurate, Seth promised, though he didn't disapprove. He was just sticking up for his vamp buddy. I didn't get that, but then, I didn't have to.
What happened to you leg? I asked Brian.
Nothing that won't heal up.
Dinah's going to be pissed you let him get hurt.
Jacob's going to be pissed we let the three of you sneak into Canada, Quil sighed.
Will and I phased back, so we could build a fire to burn the still twitching limbs.
"Your dad won't care," Will said.
"He'll care. He just won't be mad."
I was a tiny bit nervous, but at the same time, I wasn't. I would do what I did again in a heartbeat.
I thought my father would understand.
My mother might kill me for taking off when I was supposed to be watching over Judy, but that was another problem entirely.
Dinah hadn't liked waiting around doing nothing, so she had invited the whole damn neighbourhood over. Not that she explained herself, too busy sticking her tongue down Brian's throat the second we got back. She just waved me and Will into the house. Behind us, I could hear her scolding him for not looking perfect. Then I could hear her admiring how sweaty he was…
"My ears," I sighed.
So I listened to the sounds coming from the backyard instead.
There was food laid out on the table, so Will stayed in the kitchen while I headed out back. I couldn't help laughing at the sight that greeted me. Francy was lying on the ground as three boys danced around her. I think Timmy and Tommy were playing witch doctor. It worked. The corpse came back alive—and gave chase. I guess Timmy had forgotten zombies liked eating annoying kids.
I wondered where the rest of her brothers and my sister had gotten off to for a second (I felt old for a second, thinking about little Artie starting high school this fall—yikes), but I could hear them off in the distance, so I wasn't worried. Besides, Francy was gorgeous, as she pretended to eat Benji's brain.
"You better be naming those future kids you're imagining after me," Will said as he came up beside me, munching on a carrot.
"I forgot she babysat your brother." The way Emily had taken in the rest of us whenever our mothers were busy with work—she never complained even though Paul never told her when he was going to bail. I had a hunch that Francy hadn't said anything, either, when no one came to pick up Benji last year (they all worked and all three couldn't communicate between them to save their lives; it's why Will and Paul had been fine with being in a pack together because whatever was wrong between them, they could better watch over Benjamin that way). I bet Francy just took the kid home with her and told him that had been the plan all along.
The twins were trying to rescue their lost companion, but the zombie-woman was making a valiant effort to keep her prey.
Will continued, "It was mostly the twins. They didn't even think about not bringing him with them if they saw no one was coming. She just...she made it sound like that's what I had planned. Kid always bought it. For a Uley, she's a good liar."
"So that's why you took care of Sam?"
"Please. She took care of Sam. And when she left, Brian tried to take care of Sam, even though he was never as good with kids. I just occasionally brought Sam home at four in the morning." A scowl came over his face. "And practically paid him to take some of that shit off me. Fuck, I let him off so easy. Stupid pack mentality."
"And here I was thinking you just did it for me."
"You were probably the reason I was as nice to her as I was at the time."
"Well, I only made her cry the once." Then he got tired of explaining himself (that, or he still couldn't help being a little jealous of Francy) because he headed down the steps, calling, "Pull her hair."
The kids didn't listen, thankfully. Benji had already abandoned ship and was heading for his brother, who picked him easily, so they could talk eye to eye.
"Where's Brian?" Tommy demanded, but then he was pushing past me into his house. I hoped that he and my sister had finished sucking face by now because the twins weren't going to stop for anything.
"They're back!" Francy called to the woods. It took her a second to pick herself off the ground and dust the mud off her clothes.
"You okay?" I asked.
"Yeah." I believed her; she loved playing with the twins. Leaving was never because she didn't love her brothers. "Shouldn't I be asking you that? How'd the vampire killing go?"
"The vampires are dead, so I think it was a success."
We turned together when the other Uleys erupted from the woods. To my surprise Kara, flushed from the cool air, was following after them.
"How'd you get her to come?" Not only was she here, but she was hanging out with the Uley boys, who were far scarier than Will, in my opinion. Sure, they always said please and thank you but it was about impossible to get them to shut up.
"I asked. That's usually all you have to do. Don't be too long out here," she warned. "I don't want to watch Brian try to explain to my younger brothers what William's snide comment means."
I laughed as I bounded down the stairs, greeting the boys as I passed. I caught Kara in the middle of the yard, her arms wrapped tightly around my neck. Yeah, that was my girl.
"So you missed me?"
"You know I did."
And then I got to kiss her, which was the perfect victory celebration, if I do say so myself.
Will had brought Benji to the food, so I threw an arm around Kara's shoulders and led her inside. "You're really, really sweaty," she said. She didn't sound nearly as excited about it as Dinah had, either.
"Sneaking across the border is hard work."
"Crossing the 49th parallel can't be that hard." Dinah finished sucking face with Brian long enough to annoy me. So thoughtful.
Well, she had managed all this, so she couldn't have been all bad.
The plates were set, the pizza was coming, the radio was on and everyone was around. What more could you want? The Uleys were still trying to hug Brian all at once, so he had to let go of Di's hand, Kara got dragged into a conversation with Francy (hey, as long as she stayed on my lap, she could talk to the forks for all I cared), Will and Benji were arm-wrestling (Benji was obviously winning) and everyone was laughing.
At least, they were laughing until Brian hugged Baxter. "You feeling all right?"
"Fine," his brother shrugged, but Francy was already coming over, gently touching his forehead. For a second. Then she moved her hand away like it had been burnt.
"You're burning up."
I caught Brian's eye. What the fuck had we done?
"I have to deal with two of them?" Will complained. "This isn't fair."
"Are you sure this means he's going to..."
None of us dared answer Francy's question. I started listing off symptoms, irritability and fever being the main ones, but increased appetite and growth spurt being some of the others. Now that we were paying attention, he did look taller. Just a little bit, but enough that we couldn't make ourselves say anything to Francy.
"Does this mean I get to be a werewolf too?" Benji asked hopefully.
"Over my dead body," Will muttered.
I wanted to hit him because that was a little too close to what might actually have to happen. Benji was still young, but if someone died…who knew what would happen then? Who knew what was happening now? No, we knew. The question was why hadn't we realized the only reason so few of us had phased was because the vampires had stayed away from us for so long?
"Think Dad will be mad?" Baxter asked Brian.
"I'm sure you'll do a great job," Brian assured him.
"Can't be any less mature than the rest of them," Dinah said. True.
"Well, since Baxter's also going to be a werewolf—" Francy stuttered over the word, but managed to keep going "—why don't we all sit and please explain to those of us who don't turn into mythical creatures what's going to happen."
"He's going get pissy," Dinah said.
"And bigger," Brian said. "Then he'll phase and have to run patrols with us."
"He'll get to miss school," Will offered. His senior year. Shit. No one else seemed eager for that to happen. Not to one more kid; we'd given enough.
So I reminded Will: "You barely went your last year and they still passed you. If he shows up for tests the first couple of months, until he gets control…"
"Plus, no one does anything interesting in September, anyways," Dinah said.
All of a sudden, Baxter had a fleet of tutors. Brian would help with the sciences, Francy the humanities, Will with math, until Baxter could go back. Dinah and I would help him work on controlling his temper (I could teach him how to accept that being a wolf was natural; Dinah could try to provoke him until he learned not to react). We'd get him back into school as fast as we could.
We'd give him fewer patrols; the three of us and the old timers could deal with it. We wouldn't keep him out of everything, of course. I was planning to stay in contact with Nessie and her psychic aunt, which meant we needed to get him in fighting shape. It didn't seem right, sitting around if there were vampires nearby that could kill people. Even Baxter, whose world was just about to implode, agreed with me. He wasn't even a wolf yet, but he agreed (so did the girls, the rest of the Uley boys, even little Benji). We would help, even if it meant more of us would phase. We'd protect each other as best we could, but then we'd protect other people too. It would be worth it.
The doorbell rang. The pizza was here—the discussion paused. A werewolf didn't like to be kept from his food. Dinah was wondering if putting us on leashes was legal when the Uley boys descended on the table. Fortunately, Francy could keep her brothers back with just a look.
"We should wait for Judith and Bertrand," she reminded us all.
"Newest member of our pack?" I addressed Baxter. "Leaving my kid sister alone with a guy is the fastest way to find yourself at the receiving end of punishments you can't even begin to imagine."
"Basically, Levi scowls a lot," Brian said, wrapping his arms around Dinah's shoulder.
"I'll get them," Will said, standing up. Did he really have to like Bertie? Judy was his cousin. She was a poor defenceless little girl and he shouldn't be allowed to take advantage of her.
"You're not cursing out loud," Kara said.
"Well, today, I'm giving the guy a break," I muttered.
"How come killing things always puts you in a better mood?" Kara wondered as she laid her head on my shoulder.
"Hey, even Brian likes it."
"Though I'm not quite so obvious about it," he protested.
Dinah gave him a look that made me want to puke, but my gagging set everyone off, even the kids who were too young to know why Di should never be allowed to look at Brian like that in public. We could always laugh and I was kind of proud of us for it.
We figured Will would be quick because of the food. It did seem like he was racing back, dragging Judy and Bertie by the wrists, the two of them scrambling to keep up with him. Good. I guess he was finally on my side. I just hoped whatever had convinced him wasn't too…I shivered just thinking about it.
Then I started planning how I was going to kill Bertrand Call.
"They were arguing," Will said as he came back through the door, practically throwing the kids inside in front of him. The way he said it…the expression on his face…I gently pushed Kara off of me and went to take my sister's hand.
Brain was going to Bertie. It only took us a second to know for sure. They were on fire, too.
"No one else can phase," Dinah said, scowling at Artie, the twins and Benji.
"They'll outnumber us then," Francy agreed.
"I thought you said I couldn't," Judy said, gazing up at me. My kid sister…did it really have to be my kid sister? Not Judy. They could take all the Uleys, the rest of La Push for all I cared, but Judy? Will and I shared a quiet look of regret. But we couldn't go back now and I still refused to be sorry for it.
"Looks like you can, Jubes."
And she grinned up at me. Bertie was looking lost and confused as Will started explaining things, Brian was still trying to look brave for his brother, but Judy was grinning like a loon.
You know who didn't think it was quite so awesome?
When my parents came back they already knew everything, seeing as they were mindreaders and everything, but they still seemed shocked.
The idea that my little sister was going to be joining the pack did not go over well. Still, it was hard to deny. She had started to get pissy and Judith was a lot of things (pure evil) but pissy wasn't one of them.
"We're never leaving you alone again," my mother declared.
"I'm sorry I took the pack out." I regretted the consequences, but I can't say I was really all that sorry about it either. We saved people. Saved lots of people, because vampires didn't just kill a person a year. They killed and now they couldn't anymore. Because of us. I was sorry my little sister had to suffer because of it, but I think I might still do it again. Being a werewolf was kind of awesome. Saving people was even better.
I'd do it again.
"It was your call," my father said. If I looked for it, if I was an annoying punk kid, I could have heard condemnation in his voice. But it would have been all in my head. Dad meant it. It was the way it worked. It had been my call; what's done was done.
"We're the one's who are sorry."
It was probably a little rude to laugh in my mother's face.
"What did you do? You gave us superpowers."
Mom didn't look convinced; I really did laugh in her face.
"Hey," I said, "Maybe it's just because I'm too damn stubborn to think any other way, but whatever being a werewolf means, I wouldn't change it for anything. Judy'll think the same way. Hell, she's excited to join the family business."
Mom finally calmed down. When Dad started laughing (of course he started laughing), she even joined in. When they stopped, she was smiling.
"Jake, I think we're being muscled out by our own children."
"I'm kind of looking forward to retiring. I might actually get to take a vacation one of these years."
"Nah. Someone still has to run La Push."
I said: "Until Dinah figures out how to do that."
"True," Dad said. "Well, Leah, how do you like feeling obsolete?"
"I could get used to it."
They were gazing into each other's eyes so I stared at the floor, then at the wall, and then just got pissed.
"Okay, so I'm going to go. I've got people waiting for me."
When I was opening the door my father stopped me, calling my name in the tone of voice that was impossible to resist, even if he was going to stop being the Alpha one of these days.
"You'll do all right, kid," he said.
"More than all right."
But I didn't need Mom to interpret for him anymore.
"Can't do worse than you did."
My father and I laughed together and then I headed out to join my pack.
A/N: So...yes, the story is ending there. Because I'm internet-less all of June and because year one is over. I'm trying to decide on continuing the next year or jumping ahead a few years...I don't know where I want to continue writing from, but I am going to continue. I'm not finished with these characters yet. It's going to be called 'Chest Pains' and that's about all I've got. And now I've got a plane to catch. Bye!