This was my fic that was written for the Fandom 4 Heroes compilation which is a great cause to support. I hope you all like it. As usual, I don't own anything to do with Twilight.
The Great La Push Bake Off
It started with an apple pie. Well, apple and cinnamon really, with a hint of nutmeg.
Jake had brought it along one day as his contribution to dinner. I hadn't even noticed, too busy serving up massive portions of roast chicken to pay attention to whatever offerings the pack haphazardly threw on the table. It was a rule of mine; I didn't mind feeding everybody as long as they brought something to share along with them.
So I was completely oblivious to the aforementioned apple pie until Quil remarked on it mid-way through dessert.
"Damn, this is good pie, Emily. Why did you only make one?"
"Don't speak with your mouth full," I automatically replied. "And which pie are you talking about? The pumpkin? There should be four of those if your brothers haven't got to them yet."
He shook his head, but wisely kept his mouth shut this time until he had finished swallowing. "The apple pie."
"It is really good, Emily," Sam agreed with him, putting his free arm around my shoulder.
I frowned as I shrugged the limb off, ignoring his pout at my silent rebuttal.
"What apple pie? I didn't make any apple this time."
"Oh, that was me." Jacob held his hand up. "I brought that."
Quil paused with his fork halfway to his mouth. He eyed the remaining pie on his plate suspiciously. "You didn't make this, did you? You couldn't have. You can't cook and this isn't burnt."
"Naw." Jacob shook his head. "Bells made it for me, only she made two so I kept one of them and brought the other here."
"There's more of this at your house?" Embry's eyes lit up. In fact, everyone's did. I had skipped on dessert because I was already full, but as I looked round I noticed that everyone else had a plate of this fabled pie.
"Is there any left?" I asked, wanting to try it.
"No, but there's some pumpkin left," Jared offered. I knew he was just trying to be sweet, but the thought that my pies that I had baked so carefully this morning were being abandoned in favour of someone else's cooking wasn't reassuring.
"Here." Sam passed me his plate, the only one of the boys' with something left on it.
I smiled at him as I took the offering and was rewarded when his faintly worried look faded into that look of happiness and love that I treasured. I beamed back at him before taking a mouthful of apple pie.
The boys continued to talk and shout at each other around me as I chewed thoughtfully on the dessert. My mind worked on overdrive. This was good. In fact, this was very good. Subtle hints of spices and other unidentifiable flavours were blended with the apple and the base was thin and crisp, not overcooked at all.
"You say Bella Swan made this?"
Something in the tone of my voice must have alerted the boys that something was wrong because they were now all regarding me with suspicion.
"Ummm, yeah," Jacob reluctantly admitted. "She really likes cooking and baking and stuff and she's really good at it. She's always bringing dinners over that me and Dad can reheat or cookies or brownies and stuff."
"Huh."Seeing that I wasn't going to comment any further, the boys carried on with their dinner and I retreated to the kitchen to do the dishes.
"Are you alright?" I hadn't heard Sam follow me in, but I know that he'd picked up the slight shift in my mood and was just checking to make sure that I was okay.
"Yes, I'm fine." I smiled up at him. "I just didn't know that Bella cooked was all."
Sam frowned at me even as his arms came up to link around my waist reassuringly. "Is that a problem?"
"Not at all. It's just useful to know for the future – barbecues and what not..."
I turned back to the sink ending the conversation. I could feel Sam hesitate behind me but as I had told him that nothing was wrong there wasn't much he could do. "I'll get the others to help clear the table." He kissed the side of my forehead and squeezed my waist before retreating to the other room.
I leaned heavily against the counter for a second, unsure of what it was about that apple pie that had me brooding. It was good, sure, but I was confident that I could make something as good if not better than that. I shook my head, banishing my silly thoughts. I should be grateful that I had apparently found someone who was willing to take some of the cooking responsibilities for the pack out of my hands. I resolved to put it out of my mind and when Sam returned a minute later with an armful of dishes, I was humming happily to myself.
My peace of mind didn't last long though. That night, long after Sam had drifted off to sleep, I was still awake, mulling over the success of Bella's pie and trying to catalogue the ingredients she'd included. After a while though my mental list wasn't getting me anywhere and I slid out of bed and headed for the kitchen.
Seven pies and six hours later, Sam wandered blearily into the kitchen.
"Emily?" He rubbed his eyes tiredly. "Why are you up? What are you doing?"
I ignored him and continued to mutter to myself as I frantically wrote down and then crossed off ingredients on a piece of paper.
His warm hands came down to rest on my shoulders and the tension immediately dropped out of my body as just his presence soothed me.
"Emily, sweetheart, what are you doing?"
"Apple pie. I just can't get it."
"Can't get what?" He ran his hands gently up and down my arms as if he was expected me to crack any moment.
"The pies. I can't get the pies." My tiredness was beginning to show as I fought to stop myself from crying in frustration.
"They look great, Em. They smell really good too."
He didn't get it.
"But I can't get them right," I complained, my exhaustion adding a definite whine to my voice that I cringed to hear.
"Okay." Sam's hands left my body, only to return a second later as he scooped me up bridal-style and crossed the room to sit on the sofa with me on his lap. "What's this about?"
"It's about the pie. I can't get it right."
"Alright." He spoke softly and slowly, the way he did when dealing with one of the pack if they were about to lose it. I briefly wondered if he thought that I had finally gone insane. "What exactly is wrong with them?"
I wriggled in his lap, snuggling deeper into his body and burying my face in his neck. "She's put something in them, changed the mixture or something and I can't work out what she's done and I've tried about a hundred different combinations, but I can't think what it is, and I can't sleep because it's bothering me."
"Sshh," Sam tried to soothe me. "Okay, first of all, who's 'she'?"
"Bella," I cried plaintively.
"Bella Swan?" He sounded puzzled. "Is this because everyone said they liked her apple pie earlier?"
I scrunched my eyes shut. "When you say it like that, then it sounds really silly."
Sam pursed his lips thoughtfully, but wisely didn't reply. Cradling the back of my head, he stroked a thumb reassuringly against my hair. Against my will, I melted against him.
Finally, carefully, he asked, "Well, why don't you just ask Bella for the recipe?"
All of my relaxation disappeared as my body bolted upright and off his lap. Hands on my hips, I glared down at him. "Because then she'll know."
"Know what?" He was utterly bewildered.
I rolled my eyes at him. "Then she'll know that I can't work out what it that makes her food so much better than mine. I mean, I heard Jacob raving about her cooking today, and I guess she's been feeding him because he's been here for dinner a lot less recently, but I just thought that he was exaggerating because he loves her. I didn't think he actually meant it."
Sam leaned forward, his elbows resting on his knees. "It wasn't just Jacob though, was it? It was everyone else as well."
I grimaced at the thought and then blushed as I realised that my expression had given away my pettiness. Sam sighed tiredly and I lowered my eyes as though he had chastened me.
"What's this really about, Emily?"
"I don't know what you mean," I blustered.
"I know that this isn't just about an apple pie."
I shook my head and Sam lowered his eyes. When he looked back up at me I was upset to see pain in them there. "Emily, please tell me what's wrong," he begged. "I can't stand to see you like this and I don't know what to do."
I hated that look on his face, hated that I had put it there. Wordlessly, I held open my arms and he sprung up immediately to enfold me within his embrace. He clung tightly to me, his face buried in my neck and I could feel him taking deep breaths, inhaling as much of my scent as possible to reassure himself that I was alright. I hugged him back fiercely and after a few minutes, he scooped me up in his arms once more and resettled me in his lap on the sofa.
We sat quietly as I rearranged my thoughts, trying to decipher why I was getting so worked up about a pie.
"I think," I began quietly, "that because it wasn't just Jacob, that's why it bothered me. Even just Quil or Embry getting excited over her food didn't really bother me. But then you..." I paused, trying to explain how I felt without feeling stupid about it. "But then you liked it too, and so did Jared and Paul and Seth and Leah... I just..." I couldn't explain it. Sam hugged me even tighter, his arms protecting and grounding me.
I started again. "Ever since the imprinting, and the pack, I've known how I fit in. I take care of everyone... I take care of you. And that's great and I love it. I love that everyone always hangs around here and that we all eat together and just spend time together...like a family. And everyone has their place here; like we all know that Quil's going to make inappropriate jokes and Paul's going to scowl and everyone's going to pick on Seth and tell him what to do because he's still just a baby. You have your place here too – everyone follows you, listens to you – and I felt like I had my place here too. I took care of you all..."
"And now there's Bella," Sam finished for me, when I couldn't say it myself.
"And now there's Bella," I repeated.
"You know she could never replace you."
"Do I?" I drew back so that I could look Sam in the eye. "Do I know that? One day you know that Jacob will take over from you and where will that leave us? Where will that leave me? He'll have Bella to help him and I'll just be..." I choked on my words and realised with horror that I was about to cry. "I'll just be abandoned." I sniffled pathetically and ducked my head, hiding my face from him.
"Hey, hey." Sam's hands moved over my body, trying to reassure me, and he dotted kisses all over the parts of my skin he could reach. "You won't be abandoned, you'll never be abandoned. I'll always be here with you. I'll always love you. All the other guys will always love you too. They adore you."
"Really?" I could help but ask.
"Really," he stated in a tone that brooked no question. "No-one could ever replace you, not in the pack, not ever. No-one would ever think of it either. I don't think it would ever occur to Bella that her gesture would be taken that way; she probably doesn't even know that Jake brought the pie over and didn't just eat it himself."
I raised my head, expecting to see exasperation on his face at my silliness, but instead found only love there.
"You're one of a kind, Emily. You're one of us, part of the pack. You'll always have a place here, and one day, when Jacob finally steps up as Alpha, you'll still have a place here in the pack. We won't ever abandon you. Everyone adores you. Trust me, I can hear what everyone thinks and they all love you; they can't imagine how much harder things would be if you weren't there to help and just be you. You help make this curse feel like it's worth living through." He kissed me then, a deep and slow kiss that took my breath away and sent tingles down my spine. When we broke apart, he rested his forehead against mine. "I won't ever abandon you. I love you, so very very much."
"I love you too," I whispered, and my words were rewarded with a beaming smile that lit up his face. I would do anything to keep that smile there.
He kissed me again and this time when we broke apart, I sighed. "I'm sorry I'm being a pain," I mumbled.
"You're not being a pain," he immediately rebutted. "Don't talk like that."
He was too sweet, and I leaned forward to quickly peck him on the mouth before standing up. "Come on, let's go back to bed."
"No more pies?" he asked warily.
"No more pies," I reassured him.
We cuddled up in bed together and I traced my fingers tiredly over his chest thinking about his words. A small smile danced across my lips as I thought about his assurance of my place in the pack. It felt good to know that I truly was needed and wanted, that I was an integral part instead of just a useless hanger-on.
Placing one last kiss against Sam's chest, I drifted off to sleep.
When I woke up later on that day, I immediately felt better and I jumped out of bed with my usual enthusiasm and flitted off to the kitchen to make breakfast for everyone. All of the pack were here, crowding in the living room and drifting in and out of the garden. Unsurprisingly, the pies that I had made in the middle of the night were gone and had been replaced by a pile of dirty dishes.
Shaking my head, I began to fill up the sink to get rid of the crockery littering the counter before I started cooking breakfast. As I did, a pair of warm arms snuck around my waist from behind, and I leaned back into Sam's body as he nuzzled my neck. Placing a kiss against my pulse point, he murmured, "Feeling better today?"
"Absolutely." I turned around to greet him properly, wrapping my arms around his neck.
From outside came a familiar greeting howl, before Jacob crashed through the front door, dragging Bella behind him by the hand.
"Is breakfast not cooked yet?" he asked impatiently.
I rolled my eyes at him. "No, because some people," – I raised my voice for that part – "left a ton of dirty dishes on the side so those have to be cleaned before I can cook anything." The sound of good-natured grumbling came from the living room and I smiled fondly at the sound.
"Hi Emily, Sam." Bella greeted us both quietly and I could feel Sam's concerned gaze on me at being faced by my source of anguish last night. "I hope you don't mind my being here," she continued. "Jake said you wouldn't, but I don't want to impose."
She looked so hesitant that I couldn't help but reach forward to pull her into a welcome hug. "Of course, you're always welcome here." I could practically feel Sam sag in relief behind me.
Bella smiled at me as he then muttered something about getting an update from whoever had been on patrol last night and he dragged Jacob out the back door with him. I turned back to the sink as Bella came up beside me.
"Do you want any help?" she offered. "I know it can't be easy to make enough food for all the guys by yourself."
A brief flare of resentment lit up my spine before I shook it off, reminding myself that Bella wasn't trying to usurp my position, just be helpful.
We got to work and before long we had whipped up a feast for the pack that would probably take them all of five minutes to completely demolish. We both stood at the breakfast bar with our own meals, staying out of the way of all the pushing, elbowing and fighting over the last piece of bacon.
"I don't know how you do it," Bella commented softly. "I would never be able to feed all of these guys every day. I think I'd go mad."
"I enjoy it. I love cooking and baking; I always have."
"It shows as well," she replied. "These waffles are to die for." She poked the one of her plate with her fork. "Would you mind teaching me how you make these some time? I can never get them as fluffy."
A burst of pride welled up inside me, followed by a brief moment of smugness that Bella was admitting that my cooking was better than hers. It was a silly, petty reaction to have, but I just couldn't help myself.
"Of course," I agreed graciously. "And... and maybe you could share how you made your apple pie that Jake brought over yesterday. I couldn't work out what you'd added inside it."
"Absolutely." She smiled at me. "It can be like a recipe exchange."
Her enthusiasm was catching and I grinned back at her. All thoughts of competition fled out of my head and I began to get excited at the prospect of having another girl around the house, one with whom I had a common interest.
Five minutes later Sam came into the kitchen to see why we were being so quiet, only to find us hunched over a bowl of pancake batter, heads together, as we tried to concoct the perfect recipe.