A/N: Howdy!

I know it's been forEVer! I'm so sorry! Been super busy and haven't written anything Twilighted at all for a bit.

BUT I thought I'd share this with you - tentative first chapter of my Sam/Bella story Vantage Point, which is in progress. I say "tentative" because I won't post it until it's complete to the final chapter and things might change between now and then.

For now this is an AU in which Sam is Alpha in a rather different tribal dynamic...

Hey, they want a meet! Quil had been in his human skin but phased wolf to pass the message along. Via the lupine telepathic bond they all shared in the pack, Sam could still catch the scent of the Cullen who had come to the Treaty Line. It was the doctor, the blond male who worked at Forks General Hospital. Leech.

Damned bloodsuckers, they really know how to ruin my night, Paul groused from his run near Strawberry Bay to the south. The sun was setting with late summer clarity over the Pacific Ocean. Rachel's waiting, and she's making my favorite fried chicken!

Go on, we're good here, Sam told the junior members of his pack. Seth is on soon enough and we'll keep it close to the Rez, tonight.

I've got your back for the meet-n-greet, Quil offered.

Thanks, but go on home. Embry'll be on soon, too.

An uncomfortable eye-roll was communicated from Quil. Really, Sam. I've got nothing else to do. Her absence still ached, like an old arthritic pain, but in his chest.

Sam ignored it, as Quil had asked him to do, years ago. Rest. Go to a movie. Read a book, damn it, but you're off duty. I don't want to hear you for at least eight hours.

And who's watching the Alpha, huh? Quil joked. But he was clearly running for home. Sam recognized the familiar trees on the Quileute Reservation. Quil usually took a water-the-trees break on his way back home so Sam did his best to filter that out of his own mind.

Paul's perspective showed speeding trees as the younger man raced back to his imprint, his wife.

For himself, Sam shook his head in that awkward way he was long used to and loped off to his house. It was a modest home, but there were three bedrooms. It was in part a gift from the Tribal Council and part of it a labor of appreciation from the pack. Built low to the ground, there was a substantial kitchen with freshly-painted cupboards (courtesy of Sue Clearwater), a good solid maple dinette set (a gift from the entire Black family) and there were plenty of kitchen towels and cooking and baking ware – many of these gifts were meant to be anonymous expressions of appreciation from different families. Sam had inherited some of them from Old Quil, and some were more recent tokens.

His whole house was decorated in what he termed Tribal Gratitude. It made him smile. At least there were feminine touches around the place. Just no actual females.

The pack's Alpha Male had yet to imprint.

In his head, Sam had an idea about that. Either his inner wolf was incredibly particular or he was not meant to imprint, as Alpha, because he had other things he had to do and his wolf did not want to be distracted by the mating imperative the Elders had spoken to him of, in private moments. From the time he started getting feverish, the Elders had started taking him aside. Billy Black and Old Quil had been in the prior Pack and they shared how it had been for them, the phasing, the learning, the fighting.

And the sex. Because once the males who would be werewolves were feeling their genetic heritage, their libidos tended to get activated in a big way.

"And you have to be careful," Chief Black had cautioned. The diabetes was kicking his ass by then, but he was trying to fight it.

"About what? Please, not the 'safe sex' lecture, Chief." Sam had grimaced, even with as much respect as he had for the Elders.

Billy Black chuckled. "Not gonna do that one, Sam. As a werewolf, you won't have to worry about all those – diseases around and about now." He sighed a little, his dark eyes shadowed as he bowed his head for a moment. "You gotta be careful with yourself, and make sure you aren't making a lot of little Uleys, hey?"

Not the "keep clean" lecture, then. The "keep it wrapped" lecture. "Gotcha."

Old Quil elaborated about a week later. "I need to tell you something, Sam."


"It's personal and private but you gotta know it, all right?"

The heaviness of the old, gravel-rumbled voice had Sam hunkering down next to the Elder's rocker. The Atearas' fire was warm but not too much so, the scent of old wood curling nicely with smoke and apple cider. "What is it?" he wondered, after waiting for what seemed like forever.

"Wolves mate for life, you know," the Elder said, his voice craggy and secretive. "Same goes for us."

Sam nodded. "Okay." He wondered if the mystical wolf-gene had an anti-divorce directive in it. Then, he snorted aloud. "I guess my dad didn't get the memo?"

Quil stiffened his spine and glared into the fire. "Joshua Uley was not a spirit warrior. You are."

Chastened and curious, Sam could only acknowledge this. "So, what does that have to do with me? I have to choose wisely or something?"

With a deep breath, the Elder shifted a little in his chair. "It is possible that you won't have a choice, Samuel."

"What?" Bouncing to his feet, Sam shook his head. "You are not going to set me up in some kind of weird tribal arranged marriage crap, Quil Ateara." Inside, he cringed. What if there was some kind of, of inhibition with this shapeshifting stuff? What if they did set him up and did some kind of hinky ceremony? At this point in his life, when he knew how it felt to be covered in fur and to run on all fours, his body pounding and burning and exulting by turns, Sam discounted nothing.

That didn't mean he liked the idea.

Quil lifted a hand, a half-smile making him a bit more youthful-seeming. "No, no. That's not our place. What I meant was that sometimes, our wolf chooses. Happened to me. Happened to Billy's grandfather. Every generation, one or two of us have had that choice made for us, Sam. It's called imprinting."

Sure the Elder was pulling his furry hind leg, Sam snorted. "Like geese. Right. Tell me a new one."

"I tell you, boy, it happened to me." Quil, as a revered Elder, could actually get away with calling the notional tribal chief a boy. "It's something you need to be prepared for." He blew out a breath, rocked a little, and smiled with a wreath of memories clearly turning pleasantly in his mind. "We have a responsibility, Sam, to provide protection for our people. And to provide a new generation of protectors, too. My son didn't phase; he didn't have to. But I am guessing that my grandson might, if – if he is needed. The imprint helps."

Confused and suspicious, Sam hunkered down again, facing Old Quil. "How?"

"Sometimes, our spirit warrior needs a particular mate. One who will give birth to a strong child, male or female, who will contribute to the strength of the pack. The wolf will tell you when you meet her, if you are destined to do so. You'll recognize her. She will be everything you have ever dreamed of, and you'll want nothing more than to protect her and cherish her for the rest of your life together." His voice warmed as he shared this, and Sam could hear that this was a man who had loved his woman greatly and one who believed in this imprinting thing. "We have shared the stories, over the generations, and we have found that the wolf cannot recognize your mate in his spirit wolf form. You have to be a man to recognize her, because that is how you will breed."

"Hold on –"

"No, let me finish," Old Quil insisted without rancor. "That's the purpose of the imprint. When you meet her, when you see her eyes and she sees yours, you will feel as if your world has been turned inside out. She will from that moment on be the only female you will see. You will love her and be happy just to be near her, but you will want to take her as your mate, Sam. That's the meaning behind it. It happened to me; I know what I'm talking about."

Unsettled and instantly restless, Sam rolled up to his feet once more and paced around Elder Ateara's living room. "What about your wife, Quil? Did she just get this, this urge to have sex?" That felt wrong, to Sam. Wrong in so many ways.

"No. And it's something you need to know, Sam. For the imprint, the girl your spirit warrior chooses above all others, there is a choice. But you'll need to be near her and let her choose."

"Choose what?"

"You. She doesn't have to, and if you imprint and she doesn't choose you, we are all here to support you. And, once your wolf learns that his mate is not cooperating, you'll be able to choose on your own. It's not impossible – just difficult." He grimaced and rubbed a knobby-knuckled hand over his jaw.

Having phased back to his human skin after his patrol, Sam hit the kitchen to get himself a quick dinner before having to prepare for the meeting with the Cold Ones. He was reminded of that whole imprinting issue by virtue of the unobtrusive feminine touches he could see. "My wolf wants to mate," he muttered, frying some chicken on the stove. Inside, he was resistant. Not gonna happen. He didn't even think he wanted it to happen. Quil had gone insane when he'd imprinted. Years ago, it had been, and the girl had been thirteen. Hell of a situation. He could still remember the insanity in his friend and pack-brother's mind when Claire's parents had taken her away.

Claire! Claire! Claire! Russet cheeks, long braids, a bright smile and the deepest dimples, surrounded by a sort of glow had dominated Young Quil's mental communications. She's gone! She's gone!

Quil! Contain yourself; your howling will wake up the Rez!

They took her. Her parents took her. They moved. Sam, she didn't want to go, she didn't.

Did you do anything?

No, I swear! You know how I feel about her. Playful protection, a heart-connection, but not an overtly mating-directed affection. It was difficult to verbalize but the wolf in Sam understood immediately. I had to talk to them, and I went with Billy and he vouched for me but they took her away!

It had been years. For days, Quil had howled in madness, then he had languished in some kind of deep depression that nothing could rouse him from. Finally, he was able to function on a normal level again, though there was an emptiness inside him, always.

Sam never, ever wanted to feel that way. It terrified him to even think about being so out of control.

He was just finishing his solitary meal when he heard footsteps approach the house. This was not uncommon. He was not a Tribal Elder, but he was considered to be a leader because the Elders deferred to him. It was just that the families unaffected by the presence of the spirit warriors in their bloodlines didn't know exactly why the Elders did so. He cleared his dinner away, took a swig of soda, and reached for a shirt. Having given up all sense of personal dignity around his pack-brothers, he still tried to keep it for the rest of the world.

It wasn't one of his pack brothers; this much he knew by the scent. Those people with whom he dealt day in and day out all had scents that he had internalized. Who else would come by here?

Sam opened the door and felt his eyebrows shoot into his forehead. "Chief Swan, hello."

"Sam, good to see you." The Chief of Police was entirely welcome on the Rez, and was lifelong friends with the Black and Clearwater families. Additionally, since the death of Harry Clearwater a few years ago, Chief Charlie Swan had been a more frequent visitor to Sue Black's place. Cops and nurses... "Er, can I come in or something? There's a problem and I'd kind of like your help."

This was another part of being the Alpha that Sam had taken on a couple of years ago. It was "understood" that he was involved with Tribal Law Enforcement. "Protect and Serve is my motto too, Chief Swan," he said to Charlie, moving out of the way and wordlessly ushering him inside. "Can I get you something to drink?" He noticed that Charlie kept his service weapon on his hip.

"No, no thanks, Sam." Charlie stood in Sam's open living room, thumbs loosely hooked on his belt. "I just wondered if I could get your perspective on a problem I'm having in Forks."

Sam hadn't bothered to tuck in his t-shirt, so he could feel it riding up on his abdomen when he turned and closed the door, hand near the top. "What's the problem?"

"We've been hearing about a blond male, about five-ten or so, who's been seen on the border of the Rez. He's been, well, stalking some girls in town and some of them are from La Push. I just wondered if you'd heard about this?"

Sam stiffened. "Has he, er, hurt anyone?"

"No, and we can't seem to catch him to talk to him. He's only been saying suggestive things, apparently. Harassing 'em. But one of the young women is Leah Clearwater. And two of the others, quite frankly, remind me of my daughter so I guess I'm trying to be proactive." Charlie smoothed his mustache with a practiced, absent swipe of his thumb and forefinger.

It was like there as a click in Sam's head. "Sue's daughter, yeah?" Sam didn't even try to hide his smirk.

"Yeah. But you know, I'm also worried about the others."

"Well, I'll ask around, Chief," Sam said, already thinking it might be the one that got away, that day. "We can't do a whole hell of a lot, though –"

"Until he hurts someone. Yeah. We've got our eyes open, though."

"We will, too. Do you have a picture of this guy or a sketch or something?"

Charlie pulled out a paper from a pocket and unfolded it. "I know it's not real fancy, but some of the girls talked to Mark – he's got pretty good on composite drawings – and this is what we've got."

Sam's nostrils flared. "Oh yeah. I've seen this guy." Damn it, I was afraid of that. Gotta talk to the Cullens too. Crap. "I'll make copies and show it around, too. Thanks, Charlie."

The men shook hands and Charlie left. Sam said all that was expected, but part of his mind was remembering the day he became Alpha of the Quileute Wolfpack. Killing this leech would be a pleasure.

Hey, Sam! Seth's mental presence was buoyant, always.

Sometimes, the kid's cheerfulness got on the Alpha's nerves, but most of the time he took heart in Seth's demeanor. Sam had grown up knowing he might phase when his time came – the boys with the right bloodlines had been informed upon entering puberty. For him, the knowledge was a responsibility. For Seth, it had been an opportunity. Occasionally, Sam envied his young pack-brother. Good timing, Seth.

And sometimes he didn't. He saw scenery speed by on the way to the Treaty Line as Seth continued. Can't wait to see the Cullens! Emmett is so cool! He's got the latest Playstation console and –

Enough with the leeches, already! Embry chimed in. They're bloodsuckers, Seth.

The Cullens drink from animals. I eat animals. I'm cool with that, Seth countered.

Sam snorted, the sound resonant in his lupine muzzle as he ran. Enough. I can smell them already.

Me. Too. Embry informed him, his contemplations dark and annoyed.

Remember the mind-reader, Sam cautioned, gratified when the others immediately focused their thoughts only on the immediate surroundings. They had learned that the Cold One called Edward could read their thoughts as they were thinking them, though he could not probe their memories. I'll phase human, now.

Got it, Sam.

Veering off from the other two, Sam snorted out his muzzle again and stilled, breathing in the green in the air. The earth-scent. The reminders of humanity in a lingering taste of rain. He visualized his body as it was in its proper form, dominating the spirit warrior within. The strange feeling of diminishment always twisted his stomach and heart, for a time. As if the warrior within his psyche didn't really want to let him go, but realized it must.

Once in his human skin again, Sam shook himself, inhaled deeply, feeling the proper muscles of his chest expand and contract. Then, he scooped up his track shorts to get dressed before meeting the vampires.

They still stank, even without his wolf-nose. Grapefruit rind, cotton candy, and burned sugar. The spirit warrior wanted to make damned sure the shapeshifter would always recognize an enemy. He saw them, there in the open, on that stretch of grass. The blond male who was the doctor. Why the man always wore a scarf was beyond Sam, but Cold Ones weren't human and hadn't been for a long time. Then there was the big one, Seth's favorite. And, of course, the mind-reader.

I really hate you being in my head, the Alpha thought strongly.

The bronze-haired leech, Edward, shrugged.

"Sam Uley," Dr. Cullen said in calm greeting. "Thank you for coming." He nodded to Embry and Seth as well. "And you, too. I know that this isn't how any of us choose to spend an evening."

Sharply, Sam nodded. "No, it isn't. So. I hear there's been a prowler. You know anything about him? I caught his scent and even Police Chief Swan is working on the case. Targeting young women." As if on cue, Embry and Seth both growled, their fur bristling in the damp air.

The big vamp rolled his massive shoulders. "That shit don't wash. Where was he seen?"

"Along the borders between the Rez and town. Hasn't done anything overt, but he's a problem. One more thing," he added, his voice like flint, "He's one of those who was with the redhead who killed the last Alpha, Jacob Black."

Dr. Cullen whistled, rocking back on his heels in a move so human that Sam blinked. "We'll keep an eye out for him. All right. I wanted to see you because some of us will be starting school at Forks High. My sons Edward and Emmett, as well as my daughters Rosalie and Alice."

"What about the scarred one?" Sam inquired.

Edward answered, his tone cool and even as if butter wouldn't melt in his mouth. Well, hell, it probably wouldn't, Sam reckoned. "He really prefers to avoid humans when he can. He'll be playing the role of a veteran, returned from his tour of duty and recuperating with his family."

Sam nodded; it made sense. All those scars that one had had to mean he had survived a lot of battles.

With an abrupt shake of his head, he firmed his stance. "All right. The treaty gives you the right to go to town, and we will cease patrolling there. Keep a lookout for the blond one." He stared at the mind-reader. "Can you see what he looks like?"

"Yes. I'll sketch him out for the rest of the family."

Family. Ri-i-i-ight. "Fine. Anything else, Dr. Cullen? We have humans to protect."

Dr. Carlisle Cullen smiled easily. "Not at all, Sam. You are much like your great grandfather, you know. Levi was a good man. I'm sure he'd be proud of you."

Don't patronize me, the Alpha thought. Aloud, he merely thanked the vampire. "We'll be in touch."

A/N: My thanks to chef diamond heart for the grapefruit rind.

I have my twitter link on my profile now (or I will) if you're looking for me. I'm around pretty much every day. Somewhere. lol I'm still here!