It had long since come out that Bella had not been staying in California – or wherever – with her mother. But safe in his bubble-world of pack and tribe and Edward, Jacob hadn't been a part of Charlie's frantic, dark-eyed downward spiral. It hadn't touched him, though Billy had seen it and been touched by it.
Yesterday had been the official memorial.
Jacob crumpled the little leaflet that had contained the songs and prayers and when to stand and sit, and tossed it in the trash.
Two months ago the Cullens and the pack had driven off the newborn attack. There were new faces – the Olympic Coven had adopted Bree and her partner, some guy named Diego who hadn't been in the battle at all. And Emily had given birth to the beautiful baby boy they'd all been expecting for a while now.
But Seth was dead. And that was a raw, screaming agony that had driven Jacob as far away from all things vampire as he could get. A vampire had killed him and a vampire had been the cause of the conflict, and it was easier to blame them than to face the fact that Jake had been the one to send Seth into battle in the first place. Jake had been the one who allowed it when Seth begged and pleaded, and Jake was the one who was supposed to protect him.
He had been too small and too young and too unable to separate the vampires that were his friends with the ones come to kill him, and he'd hesitated just a second too long.
And then he was dead.
They'd burned his body on the beach. It wasn't the normal burial but Seth had loved the beach, loved the waves and the crackle of the bonfires they lit after a day spent surfing, and it seemed appropriate. There had been speeches and tears but eventually the pack had driven everyone but Sue away. She was the only one allowed to see their tribute to her son as they sang the wolf-song of loss until dawn.
Jake had howled the loudest and the longest, and when it was over he walked Sue and Leah home.
The hole where Seth had been – their puppy, their mascot, the light-hearted enthusiastic optimistic Seth – wasn't ever going to close over. Maybe if they'd been normal human friends – but Seth had been a vital thread in the tapestry of the pack, a unique note in the wolf-song, a familiar and needed soul melting into the pack-mind. And now he was gone.
But he had been the one to bring Jake his passport, and he would never have forgiven his alpha for not doing this.
"Where are we going?" Edward asked again. "I feel ridiculous, Jacob."
"You look it, too." The grin felt strange on Jacob's face, new and raw as if he weren't used to it anymore, but he knew that would change. He knew Edward would change that. "Green's a good colour for you, though."
Edward snorted, but his lips twitched. The green blindfold was only the icing on the cake – the real challenge was thinking of nothing but the motorbike engine he was building in his head, piece by piece so that Edward wouldn't hear where they were going.
It was almost impossible, but Quil and Embry had been helping him practice in wolf-form.
Jacob stopped, and feeling it through their joined hands Edward stopped too.
Watching his mate's face, Jacob felt a cracking of the hard, icy layer that had become plated around his heart, enough to let something warm and tender well out. Edward looked adorable and silly, but it was knowing that the vampire was submitting to this indignity for Jacob that made him want to well up.
Gently, he let go of Edward's fingers. The vampire stiffened, but then relaxed as Jake cupped his mate's face and kissed him softly.
"You can take off the blindfold now," he murmured.
"Finally," Edward muttered, but he was smiling. He blinked as the light found his eyes, and he pushed the green cloth into his pocket, looking around with dawning comprehension. "Jacob. Where are we?"
Jake smiled, and led Edward up the steps. The wolf pendant swung out over Edward's shirt. "Come on. I want you to meet my dad."