AN: Italics are thoughts as usual.
Sam was furious. He had been pacing nonstop for over an hour up and down the beach and back again, but he could barely contain the wolf. Every time he came close to controlling himself Paul's words came back to him and he felt like wringing his neck.
How dare he keep him away from his imprint? To actually tell him to go away? It was ridiculous! What did Paul know anyway?
But Bella did look scared and she was hysterical.
That traitorous voice in his head – was it his conscience; he did not give a damn who she was, she just wanted her out – pointed out so helpfully. Sam swore and stopped his pacing abruptly.
As if it wasn't enough to have a pack of wolves in his head while phased, now he was hearing voices while human! But maybe, just maybe, Paul had a point there….
Sam was hard pressed to admit that Bella did look afraid and freaked out.
Who wouldn't, she just saw two men change into huge wolves right before her eyes!
Damn that voice! Was it too much to want his head to be his own just for once?
Back to the matter at hand, Paul and his attitude.
Since when does Paul care about what happens to Bella? And what on earth was he doing with her out in the woods in the first place?
Sam started pacing again. Being logical and all was one thing, telling the wolf that was a totally different story. Still he had to calm down. He needed to talk to Paul to get to the bottom of this.
Killing him would be kind of counter-productive, right? He would definitely enjoy it though…
And he would have to apologise to Bella….
Oh Taha Aki, what was he going to tell Bella? The first time he saw her since …well … forever he had to behave like a mindless ass!
This was not the way he imagined explaining to Bella all this mess. But seeing her after all this time… alone in the woods with Paul… and having to listen to Paul – another man – defending Sam's own imprint against him just pushed him over the edge. He snapped and attacked like the enraged wolf he was.
Well done, Sam! You really did it this time….
How he was supposed to fix that he had no idea. Bella was in hysterics afraid of him. And Paul was comforting her….
And pray tell how did Paul fit into this picture in the first place?
They didn't even know each other! Or had they met and Sam didn't know about it? Was that possible? Could Paul have done that?
This was his imprint for fuck's sake! His no one else's!
And if Paul had actually done that….
How dare he? He would kill him for that; Bella was his, only his!
How could he have kept it a secret?
They shared a mind dammit!
Sam kept pacing like a caged animal. He tried to keep calm, really he did, but his mind kept bombarding him with images of Paul with Bella out in the woods. He wanted to trust them that nothing was going on.
These were his brother and imprint for Taha Aki's sake! If he couldn't trust them, what was the point of anything?
His wolf had other ideas though. He was growling at him enraged that he left Bella in the care of another man no matter who he was.
His imprint that he hadn't held or smelt or felt close for so long!
The wolf did not care about reason or trust, the only thing he wanted was Bella. He was trying to claw his way out and run back to his mate. Sam was struggling for control, but it was not easy to contain the wolf while he was also fighting to keep the man calm. Every instinct in him was calling for Bella and she was not there. She was with Paul.
And where was Paul anyway?
He must have known that Sam would be frantic to know that his imprint was so close and still not able to be with her, to have to rely on someone else – another man – to soothe and comfort her.
Surely they were not still together, right? What could they possibly have to talk about that took so much time?
Sam stopped his pacing and punched his fist into the closest tree. Again and again and again until he heard the crack of bones crashing… He leaned forward and rested his forehead on the bark breathing hard. His blood was staining his face and his hand was definitely broken but Sam did not care. The pain was a welcome distraction from the wolf howling in his head. He had to stop thinking like that or he would lose all semblance of control and a rabid wolf would be set free on the reservation.
Sam closed his eyes trying to calm down. He would never forgive himself if he lost control and hurt someone. Bella would never forgive him or for that matter herself either. And it would kill him to see Bella suffer like that for his sins.
No, no no... Not Bella, never Bella!
The wolf cringed at the thought that his mate would be in pain and growled aggressively.
No one would hurt his mate, no one! Not even Sam!
Sam smiled despite his anger. It was hilarious really how a slip of a girl could tame the big bad wolf without even trying. And it would be absolutely fascinating when Bella actually realized her power and began to use it, but he did not care. He belonged to her and nothing could Bella ever do to make him resent her.
Sam sat on the ground with his back against the tree and took a deep breath relieved that the wolf seemed to have calmed a little. He would have to wait it out for Paul to come to him and hope that he would do so alone.
What other choice did he really have?
Sam sighed defeated. He did not dare to show himself before Bella again, not until he had a chance to talk to Paul and clear this mess. He had made himself enough of a fool already, he couldn't afford to make more waves. Even before he lost it completely and phased into a wolf terrifying Bella, he had acted like a jealous, possessive asshole. He would have to grovel begging for her understanding and forgiveness. She was probably furious with his attitude and rightly so; he could see it now that he was thinking more clearly.
I mean Bella and Paul? Together?
How did that thought even enter his mind, he would never know. They were both too straight forward to be screwing around behind his back. And Paul knew of course that Bella was his imprint and a wolf's imprint was sacred to all the pack.
Would pleading temporary insanity get him out of this clusterfuck?
Paul would let it be no question asked. He knew how missing his imprint had paralysed him. But Bella? How could he make things right? How could he expect Bella to excuse his behavior? What words could explain to her that he was not a madman blinded with jealousy?
He had phased just before her eyes with no concern for her safety or her sanity for Taha Aki's sake!
What a way to introduce her to pack life… Bella would never trust him now. How could she? She would never feel safe with him again. She would reject him!
A choked sob rose in his throat and Sam closed his eyes in pain. In one moment he had destroyed all his chances for a happy future with Bella. He punched his fist to the ground and screamed with despair.
All was lost and he had only himself to blame….
Paul heard Sam screaming and started running in earnest. He hadn't been very eager to meet with him and explain the impossible story that made Bella his sister.
In that crazed state of mind Sam would sure attack him first and start asking question later, much much later after he had shred him to peaces probably…
So Paul was stalling. But that broken sound filled with despair and pain made his hair, well fur, stand up on the back of his neck and his blood to run cold.
For Taha Aki's sake, where are you Sam?
Sam had never sounded like that even in his worst moments when he first realised that Bella was on the plane to Phoenix. Paul was suddenly very afraid of what he would find when he finally tracked him down. He was expecting an enraged Sam, was even prepared to fight him, but that barely human scream was not of an angry man.
Why did it have to be me to deal with this…. this emotional shit? He moaned shuddering.
Would you prefer Bella to have to do it? He mentally chastised himself and took a deep breath to steady himself as he reached the beach and smelled Sam nearby.
Paul phased back to human and walked carefully out of the trees – It would not do to further agitate his unstable alpha – and froze on his tracks when he actually saw Sam slumped under a tree.
Oh Sam, what have you done to yourself?
Paul blinked to hold back his sudden tears at the look of the broken man before him and cursed violently.
And why did I take so long to come find you?
He started towards Sam who gave no sign of having heard him, making Paul panic even more. A wolf had to be gravely distracted not to hear someone approaching at such a close distance.
"Sam?" He called in a gentle tone very few people had ever heard from him.
"Sam?" He tried again when he got no response. Sam didn't even twitch.
That was not good. That was not good at all!
"Sam! Sam, look at me dammit!" Paul shouted kneeling before him, getting a good look of him for the first time.
Sam sat perfectly still under the tree. He had his eyes closed and trails of tears marred his pale face. Paul felt his heart clench tightly in his chest with fear. Sam was always so strong, calm and collected.
To see him now so broken was just not right!
He was always there when Paul and his pack brothers needed him and Paul felt horribly ashamed that none of them realised for so long that Sam was in pain.
And when they finally did get a clue about Sam's imprint what did they do to help their alpha?
They chose to rebel instead since the cat, or wolf as the case maybe, was away.
But not again, never again would he be so selfish!
Paul vowed fervently. He would stand by his alpha's side and help him win his girl.
Even if that meant that he would have to tolerate his alpha and his sister smooching in his head! Ugh!
"SAM! Come on man, look at me!" Paul grabbed Sam by his shoulders and shook him violently with no success.
To hell with caution! We are having an emergency here! Sorry, Sam but you are leaving me with no choice.
Paul slapped him, hard. "SAM , LOOK AT ME!"
Sam opened his eyes and blinked wearily.
"Sam?" Paul sucked a sudden breath, shocked by the pain in Sam's unfocused eyes and whispered gently, "Come on man, it's Paul, talk to me."
Sam blinked again and closed his eyes refusing to look at him. "I lost her", he croaked brokenly.
Paul paused for a second puzzled.
What on earth was Sam talking about? Bella? He thought he had lost Bella? What the…? Never mind, now was definitely not the time."
He squeezed Sam's shoulders encouragingly. "No you did not!"
It didn't seem to make any difference. Sam bowed his head closing his eyes again.
"I lost her", he murmured so faintly that Paul was hard-pressed to hear him even with his werewolf ears.
"No, You did not lose Bella!", he repeated forcefully. "Bella is right here on the res, do you hear me?"
Paul grabbed his chin with his right hand while keeping his left one on Sam's shoulder in what he hoped was a soothing gesture and forced his head up.
"Sam, open your eyes and look at me dammit! Bella did not leave!"
Sam did not answer, nor did he open his eyes. He did not seem to have any fight left in him and that was that frightened Paul the most. He had to get through to him somehow. Sam was suffering needlessly but he was too damn stubborn to listen!
Taha Aki, do not let me make a mistake here! I beg you!
Paul braced himself for impact and plunged in all the way. " Sam, for the last time, Bella did NOT leave! I left her at my house unpacking."
Sam fought to get out of his grip as his eyes opened wide; the thought of his imprint in another man's house was bound to get a reaction. Anticipating that move, Paul was actually betting on it, he pushed him down again and held him against the tree.
"Yeah, I thought that would get your attention." , he whispered, "Will you listen to me now?"
"Yes, Bella. Your imprint, Bella who has not left you! That Bella. Will you focus now?"
Oh, Taha aki, please spare me the blessing of imprinting!
" Sam…." Feeling guilty for his outburst, Paul tried to calm himself. He released his grip on Sam, but kept his hands on his shoulders. They both needed the contact. "Sam, try to focus…We have a lot to talk about and even more to explain before we go to find Bella."
"Bella must hate me now…. How could she not?", Sam exclaimed incredulously, " I jumped to conclusions! Stupid, stupid conclusions!" Unable to contain himself now that the dam was broken Sam jumped to his feet and started pacing. " I yelled and screamed just like her father! I was out of control! I phased in front of her! I scared her!"
So that's what brought up this breakdown! Now we are getting somewhere….
"Is that out of your system?" Paul asked when Sam finally paused to take a breath.
"Do not mock me, Paul!" Sam growled, "You just don't understand!"
Finally, a reaction! Anger is good. Thank you, Taha Aki!
Paul jumped to his feet and marched across the beach to where Sam stood. "No, I don't understand what it's like to imprint, but what I do know is that Bella does not hate you. How do I know? Because I talked to her! I explained to her…."
"You had no right!"
"Do not growl at me Sam; I had to tell her our legends and how we change into fucking wolves, since she saw it with her own eyes!" Paul snapped finally losing his patience. "Think man! And while we are at it, there is a perfectly good explanation why I was out in the woods with her in the first place and we will get to it, later. Now, I did not mention imprinting. You will have to explain that after you finish groveling. "
Sam watched silently oddly fascinated by Paul's outburst.
Who would have thought that Paul had it in him to comfort Bella and tell his alpha off all in one day's work? Paul who prides himself on being a jerk…
"How did she take it?", he finally asked. Did he dare hope?
"She was shocked all right. It's not every day you learn that people close to you get to turn into giant wolves."
"Paul!" Sam growled impatiently.
Paul looked out over the ocean trying to find the right words. Why does this have to be so difficult? Imprinting was supposed to be a gift from the gods! Not wanting to taunt Sam with his silence, he turned to him again.
"Bella is a strong girl; you know that. She took the legends well enough. Look Sam, I know that you think that Bella reacted badly. Yes, she was hysterical, but it was not just fear of the wolf. You don't have the whole story yet, but today was an extremely difficult day for Bella even before we phased in front of her. Sam, I have never lied to you. Bella does not hate you and she will not run screaming. You have to believe me."
It's true Paul has never lied to me. Dare I hope? I will have to. "All right, Paul…. I overreacted, on all fronts… " I can't believe I've been such an ass. Missing his imprint is driving the wolf insane and I am losing control over him. Oh Bella, how am I to explain this mess to you?
"No apologies, Sam. We're cool." Enough already with talking about our feelings! "Don't tell me we will need to hug and kiss?"
Sam couldn't help but laugh at Paul's disgusted face. "And here is the Paul we all know and love! You had me worried for a moment with all this deep talk!"
"You had me worried too. For a moment I really thought that we had lost you today." Ugh! I can't believe I am talking about my fucking feelings! Man up Paul!
"Thank you brother…" Sam choked with emotion. It was nice having someone take care of him for a change.
Paul made an impatient gesture of dismissal refusing to say another word about feelings. Seeing him squirm, Sam decided to let it go. "Just how angry is Bella?"
Paul smirked at him, "Oh, she is angry all right, but she did promise to listen to you. How are you at groveling? " Finally some entertainment! "I really don't envy you that!"
"I will have to explain everything to her and hope for the best. I am not looking forward to that, but there is no other way she will understand… " I will have to hope. What other choice do I have? " Now what is this about you two being alone in the woods? And why is she unpacking in your house?"
"Oh, that's a completely different story and a long one that is!" Paul laughed relieved at last.
Sam seemed to get better back to his old self minute by minute – having Bella close to him in La Push had already made a huge difference – and Paul would finally get to completely shock his alpha with the most unbelievable story!
"Why don't we phase and let Bella tell it in her own words? It is her story after all." Paul suggested with a smirk. And this way I will get a front row sit in your head to watch the show. "Ready?"