A/N: In my story, imprinting is a rare occurence and stops when Jared imprints on Kim. In other words, Quil, Paul, and Jacob don't imprint at all. There will be a few new characters as well as the usual suspects.
Disclaimer: All Twilight characters belong to Stephenie Meyer. All new characters and plot lines belong to me. This story is rated M for language, violence, content, and character death.
The prologue was beta'd by Marly and Sweetishbubble from Project Team Beta. Thanks, ladies, for all your advice and help. Also, I'd like to thank my original beta, Babygirl49392, who had real life obligations to attend to. Thanks for being my cheerleader and encouraging me to keep wandering in this alternate universe. :)
Alright, let's get this party started!
About a year after the confrontation with the Volturi guard…
"I can't believe I'm doing this," Leah muttered as she looked up at the sky. As usual, the day was cloudy, with a light mist in the air. She trekked through the woods to the little cottage that housed the vampire newlyweds.
As she entered the clearing, the rancid scent of vampire attacked her senses, and she raised her hand to her nose. The longer she was around them, the easier it was to tolerate, but whenever she was away from them for more than a day, it was like falling off the wagon. Eventually, the smell wouldn't bother her; she just had to adjust to it.
Edward Cullen stood on the porch, holding his daughter's hand. When Leah looked up at the vampire, she had to stifle a giggle. He was dressed in a white chef coat, with black and white checkered pants. Over his shoulder was his cooking kit and book bag.
When Renesmee was born, they had discovered that she could eat solid food. Unfortunately, after Bella was turned into the walking dead, she could barely look at human food, let alone cook it, so Edward had to take over the culinary duties. Even though Renesmee liked to hunt, she still enjoyed a home-cooked meal every now and then. Amazingly, Edward was an excellent chef. He enjoyed it so much that he had started taking courses at the local culinary academy.
"Hey, Leah," Edward said and took a step forward.
"Hey." Leah looked down at his clothing. "How's class going?"
"Good. I'm learning a lot." He looked affectionately at his daughter. "And Ness likes eating the leftovers."
Renesmee looked up at her father and grinned.
"How do you get around not eating in class?" Leah asked.
A small chuckle escaped from his lips. "Well, sometimes I use the 'food allergies' excuse. Other times, I have to bite the bullet and take a bite, then get rid of it later." His face turned into a grimace, giving Leah a visual she certainly didn't need.
"So how do you know if it's good or not," Leah asked, "since you don't like human food?"
"I go by the way it smells." Edward pointed at his nose. "It's hard to explain. The thought of eating human food is disgusting, but the smell doesn't bother me so much."
"If you say so." Leah shrugged nonchalantly.
"Thanks again for doing this." Edward looked down at his daughter and patted her hand. "I'd skip class, but I really need to be there today. We're taking a quiz, and my professor doesn't allow make-up exams without prior notice."
Leah looked down at Renesmee and tried to give a friendly smile. In return, she waved shyly at Leah. Renesmee was dressed in a t-shirt and shorts and hiking boots. Her deep coppery curls were pulled back in a ponytail that hung over her shoulder.
"It's fine," Leah mumbled. I'm only doing this because Jake asked.
"I understand," Edward answered her thought. "I appreciate it anyway." Edward pointed to his head and gave Leah a smile.
Edward kneeled down and placed his hands on Renesmee's shoulders. "Okay, Ness. You stay close to Leah, okay?"
"Okay." Renesmee nodded and reached for her father. "Bye, Daddy."
"Goodbye, pumpkin," he said, holding her close. "Have fun and be careful."
Renesmee hopped off the front porch at vampire speed and landed next to Leah. Her father waved at them as they headed into the forest.
Earlier, Leah had received a call from Jacob, asking her to take Renesmee hunting. When Leah asked about Renesmee's family, Jacob explained that Alice had dragged Rosalie, Esme, and a tantrum-throwing Bella to New York for Fashion Week. Emmett and Jasper were hunting in Northern Washington, and Carlisle was on duty at the hospital.
Jacob, who normally took her hunting when her family was occupied, was taking a few extra classes to graduate from high school on time; a requirement if Billy was going to seriously consider letting his only son leave La Push. Leah didn't mind because the sooner he graduated, the sooner they could leave. Jacob had promised that when he left La Push to start over, Leah could go with him. He'd made the same offer to Seth, Quil, and Embry.
Embry was ready to leave with them whenever they were. Seth was still in school, but said he would join them when he graduated. Quil was set on attending college in Seattle. He'd expressed his desire to get his law degree and come back to La Push to help with legal matters for their tribe.
Leah couldn't wait to leave, so she didn't mind doing this small favor. Jacob had never really asked for anything and only used his Alpha command to keep their secret.
Hunting had never been on Leah's list of favorite things to pass the time. She didn't plan on hunting, though. She was just there to make sure the little half-breed didn't get hurt.
The forest was active; the sounds of birds singing and small animals scurrying by filled the silence. While they were walking, Leah felt Renesmee brush against her arm.
Suddenly, Leah heard Renesmee's sing-song voice in her head.
Why do you hate me?
Leah looked down at Renesmee and crinkled her brow. Renesmee put all her effort into avoiding Leah's stare by looking at the path ahead. Leah shook her head, not sure of what she had thought she heard. Jacob had mentioned something about Renesmee being able to project thoughts into the mind, but it was startling to experience it. A vision of Leah turning into a wolf and leaving Renesmee out in the woods flashed in her mind.
"All right, Red," Leah said, stopping. Leah hoped that she didn't mind being called Red, because there was no way she was calling her that trendy name Bella had given her. Poor kid was going to get into fights if she ever went to public school. "What's the deal?"
Renesmee looked stunned at Leah's response. A light blush colored her cheeks, and she stepped away. She kept her eyes on a rock near her foot while wringing her fingers.
"Why do you think I hate you?" Leah tried her best not to sound irritated.
Renesmee refused to look at Leah. Instead she placed her hand on Leah's forearm. A picture of an angry gray wolf snapping its sharp teeth at Bella and Edward appeared in her mind. Leah blinked a few times and looked back at Renesmee.
She'd thought she had gotten used to seeing into the mind of others, but having her thoughts taken over completely was daunting.
"You think I hate you because your parents are lee-uh, vampires," Leah answered, lowering down so Renesmee would look at her. Renesmee nodded and began twisting her hair. "I don't hate your parents, Red."
"Yes you do," Renesmee said, matter-of-factly. "I know you hate them. I see how your nose scrunches when you're around them, and I know that you think that you're a wolf because of my family."
Damn, this kid is smart.
"It's a little more complicated than that," Leah said, lowering her eyes. "Have you noticed that your family doesn't really like the way I smell, either?"
"Yes," she drawled. "But you don't smell bad to me. You and the other wolves smell like the forest and rain."
Leah paused so she could choose her words wisely. "Listen, kiddo. I don't hate you, 'kay? I'm not going to leave you out here, either. Jacob would ring my neck and turn me into little wolf pieces." Leah grinned and was relieved to see Renesmee smile back.
"Okay." Renesmee's face relaxed and she smiled.
"I'm not going to let anything happen to you. You can trust me, okay?" Leah rose to her full height.
"Okay." Renesmee slipped her hand into Leah's, and they continued to trek through the woods.
Eventually they reached a stream and spotted a doe lapping at the crystal-clear water. Leah was instantly hit with an image of Renesmee and herself in her wolf form taking down the animal.
"Oh, no." Leah shook her head. "I don't really like raw food. That's all you."
Renesmee flashed her bright white teeth and lowered down to her belly. Leah stood back, ready to phase and help if needed. Renesmee approached silently toward her unknowing prey, weaving through the grass.
The poor animal didn't know what hit it. Renesmee jumped up high, landing on its back. It was almost scary, watching Renesmee's sweet little face turn into a predator's. Her sharp teeth sank into the animal's neck while it struggled to get free. Leah had seen the leeches hunt many times, and it was obvious Renesmee had learned a thing or two from them.
Renesmee did have one disadvantage, though. By now, the animal would be writhing in pain from the venom, but Renesmee wasn't venomous. Fortunately, she'd found a way around that. The animal continued to fight, until Renesmee wrapped her tiny arms around its neck. A loud crack rang out, and the animal fell to the ground. Leah was impressed. Renesmee was so strong, and she wasn't even a full vampire.
Renesmee made slurping noises as she drank the animal dry. After she was finished, she pushed the carcass away and looked around for Leah.
"Wow," Leah said, coming from behind the bushes. As she approached, Leah looked down at the innocent-looking girl with blood running down her chin. "You're pretty good, kid."
"Thanks." Renesmee beamed as she wiped her chin with her sleeve. "It was Jake's idea to snap its neck first, since I'm not venomous."
They walked a little further into the forest, and Leah stood back as Renesmee took down two more deer. She had no idea how much Renesmee needed to be satiated, but she did notice the color coming back to her cheeks.
It was getting darker. Although neither of them needed the light to see, Leah suggested that they head back.
"One more?" Renesmee asked with a crooked grin much like her father's.
"Okay, Red." Leah nodded. She couldn't believe it, but she was actually starting to like the little half-breed. For one, Renesmee's scent didn't make her want to vomit. Another thing, she was an interesting little girl who told silly jokes, and thought that her Uncle Emmett was the funniest man ever. She enjoyed spending time with the wolves, learning about their heritage and listening to the Quileute legends Billy Black shared. She even expressed her desire to go to La Push to collect seashells from the beach and her frustration with her parents' "lousy excuses."
"Leah?" she asked, a hopeful look on her face. "Will you take me there one day? Jake's always busy with school, and Mom and Dad say that I can't go because I can't swim." She narrowed her eyes. "But I know there's more to it, and they won't tell me because they think I'm too young."
Leah looked down at the frustrated expression on Renesmee's face. Obviously, the Cullens hadn't told her anything about the treaty, which Leah could understand. Even though Renesmee was a smart girl, Leah didn't think she would understand that her family wasn't allowed in La Push because of what they were. They probably could have come up with a better excuse, though. Really, how hard would it be to teach her how to swim?
"We'll see," Leah answered. It was something that her father used to say to her when she was younger and he wasn't sure he could keep his promise. Her response seemed to satisfy Renesmee, though.
They approached an elk eating leaves from a small bush. It was huge, easily weighing six hundred pounds, with sharp antlers. Renesmee gave Leah an expectant look, which she returned with a look of wariness.
"I can do it, Leah," Renesmee insisted.
Leah thought back to all the animals she'd watched this little girl take down. Maybe she could. Besides, wasn't Jacob always betting her that he could take down the largest prey? It would be nice to see Renesmee, a little vampire, take down something large and beat the big, bad Alpha.
"Okay," Leah said, smiling. Geez, was she really smiling? "But I'm going to stay close, and if you get in trouble, I'm jumping in."
"Deal." Renesmee nodded and went into predator mode.
Just like before, she eased forward on her belly, silently moving through the grass. A stick snapped under Renesmee's palm, causing the animal's large head to whip up in alarm. It looked around and spotted Renesmee hiding in the bushes. Its eyes widened in terror as she jumped out of the brush. It kicked out a hoof, knocking her back against a tree, the force of it causing the truck to crack. A hit like that would have broken a normal human's bones.
"Red!" Leah exclaimed, her heart leaping in her chest.
"I'm okay," Renesmee replied, as she got up and started brushing herself off. It had a decent head start, but Renesmee turned on her vampire speed and chased it into the woods. Luckily, Leah was fast too, so she wasn't too far behind.
The elk hopped over fallen trees as Renesmee chased it deeper into the forest. Leah briefly considered phasing into her wolf form so she could keep up. She was fast as a human, but even faster as a wolf. But she wouldn't be able to talk to Renesmee, not to mention the whole being naked thing.
Renesmee ran and leaped high in the air, growling ferociously as she caught her prey. Before they hit the ground, she sank her teeth into the elk's large neck. A loud crack echoed off the trees, and the animal fell limp in her arms.
Leah smiled at Renesmee as she began to feed. A sudden feeling of pride swelled inside of her. She couldn't wait to brag to Jacob that Renesmee had taken down an animal that large.
As Leah looked around, she realized that a lot of things were familiar. Of course, she knew the forest. She'd grown up in La Push, and she had become even more accustomed to it after she became a wolf. But the gangly tree was something she'd known since she was a child. They were near the Quileute border.
She looked at Renesmee, who was happily drinking from her prize on Quileute land. The treaty was simple. If the Cullens were caught on their land, the wolves had the right to hunt them. This could turn into an all-out war, especially if one of the wolves hurt Renesmee.
"Red!" Leah called out. "Get back over here!"
Renesmee looked up in alarm as Leah ran toward her. "Leah, what's wrong?"
"We have to—" Leah's sentence was cut off by a growl. "Shit!"
Renesmee turned around to see a large wolf approaching. It was pitch-black like Sam, but its belly and chest were white as snow. A howl resonated off the trees, which meant more of them were coming. She abandoned the fallen animal and scurried behind Leah. Leah stepped backward, keeping herself between the wolf and Renesmee. For every step Leah took backward, the giant wolf took a step forward. Renesmee squeezed Leah's hand to the point of breaking bones.
I'm so sorry, Leah! Renesmee rambled in her mind repeatedly. Whatever I did, I'm sorry!
"It's all right, Red." Leah patted her hand so she would ease up the death grip. "You didn't know. Stay behind me, okay?"
Renesmee nodded and wrapped her other hand around Leah's.
Two more wolves came out of the forest. The black wolf in front grinned evilly at Leah as slobber leaked from its open mouth. She didn't recognize any of them—not the silvery white one in the back and not the golden brown one on the left. It had been over a year since she had escaped Sam's mind, which meant she didn't know these new wolves. She had a feeling they knew about her; she was the only female shifter. However, the one in front looked like he was waiting for the Cullens to break the treaty so he could attack.
"Look," Leah said in her most authoritative tone. "Back off! She's only a child. She doesn't know anything about the treaty."
They continued to move forward, crossing over the treaty line. She'd realized that the treaty only worked one way. They could cross over without violating it, especially now that technically it was null and void.
Where was Jared, or Brady, or Collin? She'd even take Paul if it would help.
"Listen to me!" Leah shouted, as they continued to advance. Leah heard sniffles behind her and felt her own wolf inching to the surface. She would fight them all to keep her promise. "You don't know what kind of war you're starting. This is Edward and Bella Cullen's daughter! They will kill you if hurt her. And Jake's not going to be too happy, either."
They didn't care about the Cullens, but Leah mentioning Jacob Black surely got their attention. Jacob wasn't just another wolf; he was an Alpha. The two wolves in the back exchanged wary glances, and Leah figured that they were probably debating the issue in the pack mind.
She was going to have to phase and get Renesmee away. She thought about fighting them off, but she couldn't take all of them. The only option was to run, simply because she was the fastest.
The first tingles of her wolf started to run through her body, so she gently pushed Renesmee out of the way. Renesmee looked startled, and a vision of the two of them running away flashed in Leah's mind.
"That's right, Red," Leah whispered. "When I give the signal, you run and don't stop, okay? I'll be right behind you."
Renesmee nodded and wiped her tears. She took a few steps back to give Leah room to phase. Leah's body began to vibrate when she heard someone else approach.
"What's going on here?" a familiar voice said. A man appeared out of the woods, his cutoffs clinging to his hips. His russet skin glowed in the fading sunlight.
Leah had never been so happy to see Sam Uley in her life. She sighed in relief and pushed her wolf back, but she stayed on alert. He stared at Leah for a moment, smiling weakly.
"Hi, Sam," Leah said as she turned her eyes on the wolves behind him.
"Leah?" Sam answered quizzically. "What the hell are you doing here?"
"She was hunting." Leah nodded to the trembling little girl behind her. "And she accidentally crossed over the border. This asshole…" She glared at the black wolf. "…wants to attack her because of what she is. Honestly, she doesn't know anything about the treaty, and she sure as hell didn't know she was on Quileute land."
The black wolf snapped its teeth angrily at Leah. Keeping Renesmee safely behind her, she stepped right up to him and said, "Listen, tough guy. You may think you're hot shit with your buddies behind you, but I'm not one to be fucked with." She smacked him across his large snout. "Got me?"
The wolf growled and advanced just as Sam jumped in his path.
"Aaron, back off!" Sam commanded. The wolf struggled to look around Sam to glare at Leah again. "I said back off!"
Leah knew Sam used his Alpha command by the soft whine coming from the wolves in the back. She felt the familiar sting from his order, and she was glad didn't have to obey it anymore.
"All of you!" Sam shouted and pointed toward La Push. "Phase and wait for me at my place."
Aaron tried to resist the order, but it was futile. Their paws pounded the earth as they disappeared in the forest, and Leah and Renesmee were left with Sam.
"I'm sorry," Sam answered, tiredly rubbing his forehead. "They're new." He turned his attention to Renesmee. "Are you all right, Ness?"
She nodded and stepped out from behind Leah to face Sam. He kneeled down until he was eye level with her. "What kind of treaty do you have with my family?" She alternated her glances between Leah and Sam.
"Uh…" Sam looked hesitantly at Leah. His big palm landed on Renesmee's shoulder and lightly squeezed it. He slowly rose to his feet and met Leah's eyes. "That's nothing for you to worry about, okay?"
"Yeah," Leah interjected, tearing her eyes away from Sam's. "We won't let anything happen to you. Remember what I told you earlier?"
Renesmee nodded, and she stepped closer to Leah.
Sam looked away and ran his hand nervously through his hair, stopping at the back of his neck. "How bad is this going to be?"
"Edward's not going to be too happy about the wolves going after his daughter. You're lucky it was me with her and not Jacob or her father. Talk about starting a war."
"Dammit." Sam breathed in. "Is there any way we can keep this to ourselves?"
Leah laughed again. "You of all people should know that I can't keep things from my Alpha. Besides, asking Red to keep something like that to herself is a little much, don't you think?"
Sam looked down at Renesmee, who remained silent. "Red?" Sam looked back at Leah and quirked an eyebrow.
"Shut up," Leah quipped as Sam laughed. She'd missed hearing his laughter, especially if it was from something she had said. When she looked up, she was surprised to see him still staring at her with a mixture of respect and regret. It lasted for a few moments—enough to make her blush. She looked down at Renesmee leaning against her and smoothed her hair back.
Sam nervously cleared his throat. "Tell Jake to call me. We'll need to discuss this."
"Okay." She watched him run back across the border and disappear in the woods. "You ready to go home, Red?"
"Yes," she replied and held her hand out for Leah's.
Darkness fell and the two of them headed back to the cottage.
When Jacob and Edward stepped outside the cottage, Leah was swaying on the porch swing with Renesmee tucked underneath her arm. She was sound asleep, with Leah softly caressing her shoulder.
Earlier that evening, Jacob had watched intently as Leah filled them in on the events of the day. Edward had paced the room, furiously running his hands through his hair. Jacob had asked Leah to sit outside with Renesmee while he spoke with Edward about the issue. After things calmed down, he knew what he had to do.
"Hey," Jacob whispered, leaning against the doorjamb. Leah looked up and put her finger to her lips for him to be silent. Edward approached silently and picked up his sleeping daughter. She stirred awake and slowly opened her eyes.
"Goodnight, Leah," she slurred sleepily. "I had fun today."
"Me too," Leah answered back with a smile. "Goodnight, Red."
Jacob was surprised that Leah was genuinely smiling. It was something he hadn't seen in a while.
Edward turned around while settling Renesmee over his shoulder. "Thanks for keeping her safe, Leah," Edward whispered, rubbing Renesmee's back to lull her back to sleep.
"No problem." Leah tried to respond nonchalantly, but Jacob heard the sincerity behind her response. No doubt Edward had picked up her thoughts.
Jacob turned toward Renesmee. "Sweet dreams, Ness."
"Night, Jake," she said softy with her eyes closed. He gently kissed her forehead and looked up at Edward.
I need to talk to her about my decision.
Edward nodded in agreement and headed inside. As the door softly clicked shut, Jacob looked out at the forest. The soft creaking of the porch swing told him that Leah was approaching. She walked past him and slowly descended down the stairs.
"Well," she said, turning to look up at him. "I'm glad we'll be leaving soon. We won't have to worry about all this pack drama."
Jacob moved down the stairs and stood next to Leah. "Let's take a walk." He pulled on her sleeve for her to follow. She exhaled, stuffed her hands in her pockets, and followed him.
He had to do this carefully, or he could ruin all the progress she'd made in the last year. She'd come a long way from the mean harpy that she once was. There were no more agonizing memories of what she had shared with Sam in the pack mind, or even the thoughts of her fertility. The last thing Jacob wanted to do was send her free- failing in a sea of pain, simply because she felt betrayed.
They were in the confines of the forest when Jacob stopped walking. He could hear her heartbeat picking up with anxiety, and he knew he had to just tell her. She always hated people walking on eggshells around her.
"We can't go, Leah." He looked over at her for a response.
Even in the darkness, Jacob had no problem seeing the shocked expression on her face. Then she began laughing nervously. "Whoa, Jake, you almost had me there."
"I'm serious, Leah." He pulled on her shirt to get her to look at him. While she stared at him in shock, he continued. "I've been thinking about it for a while. This thing with Ness was the final straw. We have to join the two packs so we can communicate better."
Jacob watched Leah's face contort into pure anger and hatred. "You stupid asshole!" she screamed. "How could you do this to me? I thought you were my friend!" She stomped off, pushing aside low-hanging branches to clear her way.
"Leah, wait!" he called after her. He moved quickly, knowing that if she phased, she'd outrun him. "Just listen to me!"
"Listen to what?" She stopped and spun around, causing Jacob to jump back. "More of your bullshit? I won't go back into his head, Jacob! I won't!"
He saw the angry tears pooling in her eyes that she refused to let fall. He reached out to her and she snatched her arm away.
"Things will be different this time, Leah," he pleaded. "I promise."
"If I have to take orders from him…" She hastily wiped her tears.
"Who said anything about taking orders from him?" Jacob's brow furrowed.
She paused for a moment. "I thought…"
"Leah," he said with a gentle laugh. "I'm taking over as Alpha, and I already have you as my Beta. Sam would be my third."
Leah paused and looked up at Jacob. "So Sam would have to listen to my suggestions? And he'd have to respect my decisions in your absence?"
Jacob nodded smugly and crossed his arms. "I haven't talked to him about it yet, and I'm hoping it won't be too hard for him. It might be a relief for him with Emily and the wedding…" He stopped when he saw the sad look on Leah's face. It was obviously still a sore spot. "I need to make sure Ness is safe and that a war doesn't start between the Cullens and the pack. If we leave now and there's another incident, you know what will happen. Do you want to come home to that? What if something happens to Seth because we left?"
Jacob knew that one of the most important things to Leah was her little brother.
"You're my second in command, so I wanted to approach you first. Then we can talk with Embry, Seth, and Quil. Then I'll go see Sam."
"I don't know, Jake," Leah replied. Jacob was happy to see that she wasn't angry anymore. "I know that it wasn't his fault that he imprinted, and I really do wish him the best, but I don't think I can handle being around him yet." She wrapped an arm around her stomach and weaved her fingers through her hair.
"It will be okay, Leah," he said, throwing an arm over her shoulder. "Trust me. Besides, it seems you have a new hunting partner." Leah glanced at him and smiled. "Ness couldn't stop talking about how much fun she had today. When I tried to call her 'Red', she told me that that was your name for her. She'd be really disappointed if you left now."
"Yeah, until Bella finds out," Leah grumbled. "We're not exactly BFFs." Jacob hadn't been present during the infamous showdown at the Cullen mansion, but he'd seen it through the pack mind. It was common knowledge that Leah didn't mince her words when it came to Bella's constant indecisions. Leah did apologize for being so harsh after Bella admitted that she'd been a little selfish when it came to Jacob and ever since then they'd been civil, but that was where their relationship ended.
"I'll talk to Bella, and she'll come around." Jacob squeezed her shoulder. "I can't do this without you and Sam. The new wolves need to know that the Cullens are not the enemy, and we need to be united in case we get attacked again."
"I see your point, Jake," Leah said, walking away from him.
"And I'll talk to Sam about his thoughts," Jacob assured her. "I'm sure Sam has his own tricks. We all do."
"Okay," Leah conceded with a deep exhale. "If you need me, I'm here."
"Great!" He hugged her tightly.
"Okay, Jake," she squealed when he lifted her off her feet. "You know you're not my type."
Jacob laughed. "Oh, Leah, you know you love me."
A/N: I'd love to hear you thoughts if you feel like sharing!