A/N: Greetings. This was originally written to help me chart the progress of a subplot-y relationship in my story Chest Pains, about the next wolf pack. But I had so much fun writing it that it got a lot longer than I intended and so I'm now sharing it (it's mostly written, so expect updates at least twice a week). There's an assumption that you already know the characters and their relationships, but for anyone brave enough to follow this story on its own, there's a link to a family tree on my profile. For those who have read Chest Pains, this begins around Chapter 3 of that story.
As for what this story is: it's a love story, plain and simple. As simple as things are when you're a hormonal teenager that turns into a giant wolf.
Any and all facts about Jacob Black in the following chapters are Chuck Norris/Vin Disel/Neville Longbottom facts.
Strawberry Ice Cream (and other miracle cures)
Baxter Uley had never wanted to see Judy Black naked until, well, he saw her naked.
Whatever his older brother said—and he was kind of ignoring Brian out of hand, nowadays—it was weird that his brother was dating Dinah Black. Their mother and her mother were related. Their father had dated her mother. Their father and Jacob Black were also related. Jacob Black could bruise the air. It would be weird being interested in the Black girls.
Sure, he understood that Dinah was awesome—Baxter liked her better than Brian, nowadays, so he was glad they were dating. But it was just sort of understood around La Push that if Dinah Black wanted to do something, she would do it, so it was best just to give in while you could. Dinah was a born exception.
Judy was...Judy. Yeah, she hit puberty and it was good to her, but she had this bizarre habit of acting like she was five and enjoying it. Plus, it was painful, listening to her be happy-happy-happy! all the damn time. It was like watching a cheerleading chipmunk on speed on a roller coaster on fast-forward. It wasn't normal.
Of course, just because he wasn't interested in Judy that way didn't mean Baxter didn't like her. He liked her just fine. Out of all the people he was forced into a pack with, Baxter liked Judy best of all. There was no competition really. Brian was a bastard, Levi was an asshole, Will was a professional asshole and Bert, while all right, was also happy to keep to himself. Judy liked talking. To everyone, but still. It was kind of nice having someone in the pack who was friendly. And not crazy.
He never would have thought about seeing her naked if she hadn't phased in front of everyone and run off into the woods, giving him an excellent view of her very perky—um, yeah.
Baxter did not think about seeing Judy naked.
There was Brian for one thing. There was no way Baxter was going to admit his older brother had been right, that the Black girls were fair game. Not after teasing him for so long about liking their cousin. Worse, Brian would tell Levi.
Their Alpha. Her older brother. The one who randomly took ideas into his head and then carried them out no matter what the cost. The one who could knock a tree down accidentally. The one who though his sisters lived in ivory towers and would do whatever he had to in order to ensure they stayed there.
With Levi came Will, who just thought he was Judy's older brother. Maybe if Baxter hadn't been able to read Will's mind, if he could have chalked everything up as rumours, than Baxter would have ignored Will, who was too grief-stricken from the loss of his imprint to care about anything, nowadays. But Will really had put a guy in a hospital with a fence post, really had been serious when he played with his mother's guns and those were facts that...were hard to ignore.
Judy was Judy. Even if she did have—it didn't matter. Inter-pack dating hadn't been an issue before Judy showed up and it wasn't going to be an issue now that there was a wolf girl.
Sure, Levi and Will tended to stare at each other a lot and both ended up seething with obvious jealousy the second the other talked to anyone else for more than a minute, but, after all, they were first cousins. Hopefully, they would just keep sublimating those feelings of theirs. So when it was just Levi, Will and Brian, there didn't need to be a rule against inter-pack dating.
After Judy arrived...there still wasn't a rule.
Bert didn't like her back to her disappointment, so Levi didn't bother forbidding anyone from going near her (though Baxter was sure that if someone had pointed this out, Levi would have done it without thinking because power mad didn't begin to describe Levi Black).
It was kind of a shame Bert didn't like her and not just because Levi freaked about his heartbroken sister was Levi being even more overbearing than usual. They would have been good together. Bert was quiet and Judy was loud and they would have suited.
The whole mess with the Bert and the Black sisters was not Baxter's business (say that ten times fast, Judy would have said and then done it). But it's not like Levi was lining up to listen to Bert. It was the kind of thing Brian would have done, except even Brian wasn't nice enough to console the guy who had imprinted on his girlfriend (the sister that didn't like him). So Baxter went over sometimes and got fed and listened to whatever it was that Bert wanted to say but couldn't tell anyone else in the pack.
Well, actually, usually Baxter ended up complaining about the patrol schedule and the fighting and the marking their territory because he liked complaining nowadays and Bert wasn't big on talking. But every once in a while Bert would just blurt stuff out.
Like: "She scared me."
"Dinah?" When talking about the Blacks girls, that was usually the right response.
"Well, yeah. But Judy, too."
"Judy...Judy Black, Judy? Cries when kittens appear in commercials, really believes that world peace will happen one day, apologizes to spiders before she flushes them down the toilet, Judy?"
"Okay, you lost me," Baxter admitted.
"She's just...I mean, I like her. She's great. But...she scares me." Bert went quiet but Baxter had no idea what to say to that (Judy? With her too big for her face eyes and gangly limbs and a way of smiling that automatically made everyone around her happier? Scary? Really?) so the silence went on. Baxter was about to say something just for the hell of it when Bert beat him to it. The kid had been working on his explanation the whole time.
"She's always so excited about everything. All at the same time. It would be like dating a cyclone. She'd make me talk to all her friends and go out all the time and hang around her family."
"They're Dinah's family, too."
Not that imprinting took into account if you were sacred of her family or not.
"Dinah doesn't think their father is capable of dividing by zero."
"True. And she always gives Brian at least a week to prepare before she makes him see her dad."
Bert nodded and Baxter had a feeling the younger boy was filing it away for later. Maybe it should have bothered him that Bert was crushing on his brother's girlfriend, but it didn't and not just because Brian still believed their father should be allowed near them. Dinah wouldn't be interested (and if she was, there was nothing anybody could do about it).
Though Baxter had a good laugh at the idea that Judy might be scary. She might have been a little annoying with her adoration of Bert, but she wasn't scary. And even the fawning over Bert wouldn't have annoyed Baxter if it hadn't annoyed Levi, who, as usual, had to act like everything was end of the world drama.
When he point blank refused to run with Brian one day, he was surprised Levi sent Judy in his brother's place. He had expected Will or Levi himself, someone who would try their best (they were very good at it) to make him miserable enough that he'd beg to run with Brian. He had been prepared to endure the torture. That's why he was grinning when she turned up.
"Will I be able to get out of the washroom if I phase in there?" she asked.
She was the tiniest wolf, which was no surprise as she was the tiniest when they were human, just below six feet (shorter than her sister who wasn't a werewolf). The top of her head just barely reached his nose. He and Brian were the same height, now. His brother could suck it.
"The door's pretty small. It would be better if you changed in the shed."
The guys just threw their clothes down, but she liked trying to keep her clothes clean. Since she freaked out and accidentally phased least of all, her wardrobe was still partly intact.
Her nose wrinkled.
The shed didn't smell that bad, but he did say, "The bedroom doors are slightly bigger. You could probably fit through one of those."
"Awesome. I'll be right back." And then she was in his bedroom (that he used to share with Brian, that he now shared with Artie) and she couldn't shut the door properly or she wouldn't be able to get out so...
"I'll meet you in the woods," he told her.
He was not thinking about how there was a naked girl in his bedroom. It was just Judy. And Judy had a great right hook, so he was thinking about how Levi was being strangely understanding about not making him run with Brian when she showed up.
Oh, Levi's not being understanding, she said. Levi doesn't do that if he can help it. I asked Brian if we could switch, so I could have tomorrow morning off.
What are you doing tomorrow?
Nothing. Judy picked up the pace, trying to get a race started. I just thought...it would really hurt Brian to think you didn't want to run with him.
Her concern for his dumbass brother did not make him feel guilty. At all. Not even a little bit. No sir.
I don't want to run with him.
I know. She sounded disappointed. I just...I didn't want to see his face when he found out.
He'll find out eventually.
Maybe you'll change your mind before he does. And she sounded so hopeful he didn't bother pointing out that there was no way in hell that was going to happen. He just focused on trying to outrun her.
They ended the run at the Call house, like they were supposed to. All the pack seemed to have clothes at each other's houses, so he grabbed a pair of shorts from the shed and went inside to see Bert. The two pack brothers exchanged greetings (Bert even paused the video game) and then Baxter mentioned that Brian wasn't the one waiting outside.
Bert hesitated. It pissed Baxter off, the way he couldn't stop making Judy feel guilty over something she didn't seem able to stop. She'd gotten her sister talking to the little nerd, for crying out loud. That had been above and beyond anything she thought she owed him.
"Marley's clothes won't fit her."
It was the wolf stuff. Baxter was not an angry sort of person and he should have known better. He wondered at them still having Marlena's clothing around the house, but didn't say anything. He'd never lost a sister; he couldn't imagine how he'd handle that. Besides, his dad had kept all her clothes for over year, until Aunt Leah said it wasn't healthy and helped Francy pick out what she wanted to keep. Just a few of their mother's dresses and the jewellery were left for a while, until the dresses fell to pieces and the jewellery ended up pawned to pay for the booze his father needed to forget.
"Grab her some of your old clothes then. That should fit her well enough."
"She's not a guy."
"I know. But what else are we going to do?"
Bert just looked up. It was hard to tell if the kid was thinking or entering a new dimension. It was hard to know if you should interrupt him or not.
"Okay," the boy said suddenly. "I can bring it out to her."
"I'm grabbing something to eat."
It went without saying that there was a drawer in the house specifically for after-run snacks. Today, it was stocked pretty low, but there was a bag of chips and box of cookies that would suit. Baxter grabbed that and four sodas (Will wasn't around yet but he'd show eventually...and if he didn't, more for the rest of them).
The kids were already on the floor and Judy was talking about her first day back at school. She had rolled up the sleeves of Bert's shirt, but the wide neckline meant it was half-falling off one shoulder. For a wolf, she was pretty petite.
"You're really lucky you get to go back," Bert said.
"How does that work, anyway?" Baxter said as he handed out the food. Her eyes lit up at the orange soda (something about colourful drinks being better for your health, or something, she had once explained—it was hard to understand, since she'd been laughing at the time). "I phased first, but they still won't let me go back for my senior year."
Any longer and he'd never be able to catch up, though he understood why he couldn't go back while he still occasionally lost his temper while tying up his shoes.
"That must really suck," she said. "Cookie?"
"Eat your feelings," Bert agreed.
Judy might have been his favourite, but Bert was growing on him.
"It's because Levi's my brother," she said. "Sorry."
Their Alpha was unapologetic about his bias. Baxter knew if he sucked up to Brian a little he could probably speed things along, but the thought of...it would be unbearable.
"And you're like the nicest person on the planet."
"Why thank you. But have you met my uncle?"
He laughed because, yeah, Seth Clearwater was running for sainthood.
"At least they're trying to make sure you graduate on time," Bert said.
Having Will mutter that he was an idiot was not making sure he graduated on time (okay, so he would never tell anyone because he knew it was the fastest way to get disembowelled, but when no one was around Will was a pretty good teacher, definitely a whole lot better at explaining integrals then Mrs. Emerson had ever been). Francy was the best tutor, tough but patient, though she was really busy. He could figure out what Brian was supposed to teach him on his own.
Bert continued, "I think they'll just have me take a few extra courses later."
Bert didn't care. School wasn't really his thing. His parents hadn't insisted he go off to school his whole life, even though...Baxter had always been better with his hands than his head (when their dad used to teach them to fix things, Baxter had always picked it up the fastest; it drove Brian crazy that he couldn't just pick that kind of stuff up even though he seemed to get everything else as easily as breathing).
"It won't be so bad, Bert," Judy said.
Her tongue was orange from the soda, so it was kind of hard to take her seriously. Especially when it had stained her lips darker, making them look almost swollen.
"I know. There's no one I need to graduate with." He'd been a bit of a loner.
"I could help if you wanted to try keeping up, though," Baxter offered. "I did just do all that stuff last year."
"I don't mind."
"Just think it over," Judy said, smiling brightly. "Baxter's right—it would be easy for him to help you." Then she frowned, making those red lips pout more. "You could help me, too, right? I don't want to fall behind."
"I'll help you. But you won't fall behind," Baxter said to the sophomore. "You start and our illustrious Alpha will stop running patrols and start having everyone tutoring you full time."
"Levi would do the same for anyone."
Which was part of the problem. It was okay to do some things in moderation. Levi Black did not seem to understand that.
"I'm not saying he wouldn't."
She cocked her head to the side, like he made more sense sideways. "You don't like him very much, do you?"
"I'm a werewolf. I'm pissed off at everyone by default."
"I'm not angry at everyone."
Bert reminded them: "You did get kind of pissed when Levi sat on you."
"Brothers suck," she pouted.
Baxter didn't need to be told that.
But he ran a few patrols with Brian because it didn't seem fair to make Judy rearrange her life to protect his older brother's feelings. He could mostly ignore Brian, anyway.
During the summer he'd worked odd jobs, but Will had declared that Baxter wasn't making enough. Baxter was given two options—get a job or leave home. Will was not one for sugar-coating things. After two years of his family pretending their father didn't have a problem, it was kind of refreshing.
Brian wanted to try to see if they could get him a job fishing, but that was full time and Baxter did want to graduate high school (probably before Levi got his diploma). His dad suggested—well, he didn't want to hear that. He got a job cleaning up after tourists at the lodges.
"You'd rather be a cleaning lady?" Levi asked with all his usual tact. Baxter probably never would have heard the end of it, if Will hadn't said, "It pays." Sometimes Levi's perpetual hard on for the older boy was useful. Besides, it's not like his brother could have defended him properly.
"Do you put those little mints on the pillows?" Judy asked him as he walked her home from school. They let him go back eventually, with strict instructions to take off whenever he wanted, though Baxter tried to go as often as he could.
"They don't give me mints."
"You could buy them yourself."
"You could. It would be fun."
"Yeah, cleaning up after people isn't supposed to be fun."
"Sure, it is," she insisted. "It's like you're getting paid to snoop though people's stuff."
"Snooping is illegal."
She just giggled, falling against him as she walked. "Only if you're caught."
"No, I'm pretty sure it's wrong either way."
"You're no fun," she said, poking him in the arm. "I still think you should give people candy. It makes you happier."
"It'll rot my teeth."
Judy sighed, loudly, melodramatically, trying to impress upon him that this was just foolish nonsense that he would outgrow one day if he worked very hard at it. "You wouldn't have to eat it. Just giving it to people helps."
"Seriously. Why else do you think Will gives me all those jujubes?"
Because he was too proud to show up at her house empty handed even though everyone on the rez knew Will and Paul couldn't get along to save their lives and sometimes it was better if Will didn't stay with his parents?
"Because he thinks you like them?"
"Well, yeah. But also because giving people candy makes you feel better. This is a true thing in the world."
A thought crept into his head and because this was Judy—and she would have been offended if he hadn't asked her everything that popped into his head—he asked, "Do you even like jujubes?"
"They're okay," she said with a shrug. "Jelly beans are actually my favourite, but Will was upset so he misremembered and it just didn't feel right to say—Jujubes are great, too. As long as it rots my teeth, I'm happy."
"I think you're making fun of me," he observed.
"Yup. Race you!"
And then she dumped her school bag at his feet, knowing he couldn't just leave it there and it would buy her even more time. But he didn't mind in the least that she would beat him (and rub it in his face for hours because that's what werewolves did). For reasons he didn't want to think about, Baxter didn't mind at all.
Judy was fifteen.
Baxter was not unaware of this fact.
Levi was two-hundred and eight-three pounds of muscle.
Baxter was very aware of that fact.
Judy didn't look fifteen
Baxter was trying very hard to ignore what was, unfortunately, also a fact.