The Twilight Series belongs to S. Meyer, no copyright infringement is intended. I'm just playing with the characters.

AN: This is very roughly beta'd. All mistakes are mine and I apologize for them in advance, but I wanted to post before I go to sleep as I'll be at work all evening.

They lay there in the aftermath, arms wrapped around each other; their heart beats slowing and their raspy breathing the only sounds in the room. His hands stroked her skin causing goose bumps to break out on it.

"Do you really think there's a chance?"

"I do. I wasn't going to say anything until I had enough evidence."

"But what about if you imprint?" Fear laced his words.

She had told Seth to keep it a secret—the things they had learned from their wolves and Old Quil. There was going to come a time where things would change in the pack, but it wasn't the time. She wondered if she was doing the right thing by revealing what she knew.

Taking a deep breath, she rose up to look at his face. "You can't say anything to anyone—at least not yet."

He frowned at her, but nodded his head all the same. "Okay, I won't."

"I won't imprint. Nor will Seth."

"How can you be sure? Just because your ancestor didn't—doesn't mean that you won't."

"I can't tell you any more about it, but it won't happen. I promise. All we need to do is talk to Bella and see if she knows how it happened. We've got to find out if she'll help us."

He sighed. He understood why she thought it was necessary to see Bella. At the same time, he knew what happened every time he was in Bella's presence. The bond—whether it was real or not grew stronger.

Even seeing her a few days ago had gone better than expected. Was it because he had been with Leah? The wolf and man desiring the same thing. Or was it the knowledge of what was in Bella's blood? He wasn't sure and he didn't care to test his theories out.

"I don't know…"

"Jared, I promise, everything will be fine. I don't think that she'll talk to me alone. I scared the crap out of her the last time. I can't ask anyone else."

"But what happens if I can't fight it?"

"I'm sure I can think of a few ways to keep you focused on me." Her words were punctuated by her hand gripping his length and stroking him.

He hardened instantly and within moments she was straddling his waist. Her parted thighs revealed her soft heat. He reached up and grasped the back of her head, pulling her face toward his. His lips crashed into hers.

He put every bit of feeling he could into the kiss. Even though he was scared—he had to remember she had just as much to lose as he did. And together they could overcome anything that came their way.

They spent the night reaffirming the promises they had made all those months ago. Before Sam had returned from the dead, before the supernatural had pulled them apart, and before they realized how many challenges would stand in their path. Their promises were whispered and communicated by touch.

In the morning, Leah was the first to wake. Her desire to get things done was weighing heavily on her mind. The sun had barely risen over the horizon and her eyes popped open. The dawning of a new day—the first day of their future.

She carefully got out of bed and found a tank and sweats to put on. Making her way to the kitchen, she picked up the clothes they had dropped in their haste the night before. She hung their clothes over the back of one of the chairs.

She had never been big on cooking, but she thought they could do with some fuel for this morning. Reaching in the fridge she found the things she needed to make a hearty, yet simple breakfast.

Jared woke up to the scent of bacon frying. His stomach growled as he remembered the last time he had eaten was yesterday evening with Seth. Bacon wasn't the only scent in the air either. His senses took notice of the scent of their night, which lingered.

Seth wouldn't be pleased to know that he and Leah had spent the night doing things other than talking. Getting out of bed, he found his shorts and pulled them on. Then he crossed over to her window and opened it up. The crisp November breeze blew through the room, airing it out.

He wasn't sure whether she had clean sheets or not, but he pulled the sheets off her bed and bundled them up. They should have enough time to throw them in the washer and dryer before they left this morning. Those two things should be enough mask the scent.

He carried the linens to the small laundry room that was located at the back of the house. It had been similar to Old Quil's. An afterthought as the house had been built when having a washing machine was a luxury that wasn't afforded by many. It took him a few minutes and soon he had the washer started. It was where Leah found him a moment later.

"Oh, hey," she greeted. "I'd wondered where you went. What's with…" she asked, pointing.

"Well, maybe I stretched the truth a bit. I don't know how pleased Seth would be if he came home…"

"It's a big thing, isn't it?"

"Scent," he paused, continuing at the tiny jerk of her head. "Yeah, the heightened senses take some getting used to and maybe it's a bit cave man too. I like, well we like when you smell like us."

She thought about his concerns about seeing Bella and she wondered if this was another key. If she smelled like him and he like her—would it be enough to keep him focused on the matter at hand? Regardless of Bella's hold over him.

"Hmm…normally I wouldn't suggest this, but maybe we shouldn't shower. It'd keep our scents on each other."

He pursed his lips in thought. "I hadn't thought about that. It's worth a try."

"See, I told you we could do this."

A small smile curved her lips as she moved closer to him. His arms extended automatically and pulled her into his embrace. Standing on her tiptoes, she placed a tiny peck on his lips.

"You call that a kiss?" He teased when she pulled away.

"You think you can do better?" She raised a single brow in challenge.

She should have known better as he accepted her challenge. His hands tangling in her hair and his lips covered hers. Her soft moan was the only invitation he needed. His tongue thrust inside and he slowly turned them, walking her backwards until she was trapped between him and the dryer.

Moving his hands, he grasped and lifted her up. Her ass was barely resting on the dryer and her legs were splayed wide. She reached down and pulled his body into her spread thighs. This time her fingers didn't fumble on the closure. He hadn't the opportunity to work her up to the point where she didn't know what her name was.

Her fingers deftly freed him from the tight confines of his shorts. She pushed them down his hips and wrapped her hand around him. Her hand was bold and firm, a perfect mix of friction and movement that had his hips rolling toward her.

He grabbed her tank and pulled it over her head. The evidence of their earlier encounters was already fading. The bruises and bite marks so faint that without his superior vision, he would have thought they were a trick of the light. His wolf was peeved.

While their scent clung to Leah like a brand, he wanted unmistakable evidence that she was theirs. Something that wouldn't leave her body in the morning or with a shower. He had never felt his wolf this keenly. Never had he made his desires so strong and overpowering.

"Jared…" she crooned.

The calling of his name brought his eyes up to her face. A shocked gasp came from her as she saw the possessive look in his eyes. She felt the spirit of her wolf, Sopiya. The split personality she had developed since she had phased into a wolf seemed to be guiding her towards this. Whatever this was.

"Yes," she answered to a question that hadn't been asked. A question that she could sense more than hear and understood in her heart that this was another key in the puzzle she was trying to solve.

If she wanted him to be hers, and she—his. This was one action that could have the biggest impact on making it possible. He needed this in a way she didn't at the moment because she already considered him her mate. He wasn't sure of his wolf or wasn't sure of what was going to happen when they saw Bella, but this would give him the certainty he desired.


He blinked, his gaze focusing again on the woman in front of him. The woman he was going to claim as his own. She lifted her hips as he grabbed the pants she was wearing, pulling them down her legs. Her arms and legs wrapped around him, pulling him toward her warmth.

As he rubbed against her sensitive flesh, he hesitated. He wasn't sure what the stakes were any longer. His wolf chomped at the bit, but for reasons that didn't make sense.

The wolf seemed to scream at him, telling him to release the hold he had on him. His uncertainty became fear. He didn't know what he would do if he hurt Leah and he began the difficult process of backing away from her. His hands reached down to unlock her legs from his waist.

She could feel his every emotion and fear. And where she was unsure how to respond—Sopiya wasn't. So, she relied on the presence inside her, letting it direction her words and movements.

"No," she ordered brusquely. "I can take it—you don't have to be afraid. I was made for this, for you and your wolf."

Then she offered him her neck. Her head tilted back and to the side, revealing the smooth column of skin. His eyes zeroed in on the pulse that beat rapidly in her throat.

It suddenly made sense to Jared. His wolf's desire was to mark their mate. To ensure that their scent would never leave her and she knew what he wanted. She had given him permission.

He plunged his cock into her waiting heat. One hand twined in her hair and held her head in place. His eyes focused on hers. Their gazes a mix of their human and wolf sides. Loving and possessive. Gentle and primal.

Her fingernails marked the skin of his back at the force of his thrusts. The sharp dagger-like nails felt painful and pleasure-filled. His hand tangled tighter in her hair and he pulled harder on her head. Her neck contorted in a way she didn't think was possible.

Slowing his thrusts, his other hand found her clit. He stoked and rubbed the swollen nub until her thighs began to shake; the trembling violent as she neared climax. His skilled fingers and the drag of his cock against her walls were too much. She cried out with a hoarse scream.

Jared removed his fingers from her center, but left the hand that was tangled in her hair. Leaning forward, he began to whisper in her ear. Naughty things that if she wasn't incoherent would have had her blushing; instead, all she could do was answer them with a breathless, "yes."

The tempo of his thrusts increased, his hips rolling in a circling motion. Her belly began to throb again. Her hips jerked toward his and when his mouth began its journey down her neck, starting at her ear, she started to beg.

His mouth fastened on the meaty part where her neck and shoulder met. His teeth grazed it and her core quivered around him. His tongue and teeth teased the area and he felt as his sack tightened, pulling closer to his body in anticipation of his impending climax. He curled his free hand around her hip, holding her in place while he snapped his hips against hers.

He couldn't hold on any longer—the white-hot rush of his orgasm spread through his body. His mouth opened, his teeth sinking into her as he plunged a final time into her. The hand holding her hip tightened; fingers curling into it hard enough to leave a bruise. The other hand held her head in place, preventing her from moving until he let go.

The metallic taste of her blood combined with the scent of their sweat. His senses were on overload. His cock spurted cum so deep; it seemed unlikely his scent would be washed from her anytime soon. He continued to suck her flesh, his hips rolling into hers until she whimpered softly.

Her quiet sound brought him back to reality. Shock and concern replaced his earlier euphoria. He pulled his teeth from her skin, his tongue laving the bruised and injured flesh. His hand untangled from her hair; his other uncurling from her hip. Then he took a step back, but it wasn't far enough away, so he took another.

He couldn't meet her eyes. His gaze locked on the linoleum-covered floor. What the hell had he just done? He had hurt her—allowed his wolf to take over his body while he was in his human form.

Leah saw his distress; felt it. Even though she wasn't sure of her strength, she jumped off the dryer. She needed him to get that she was okay before he ran from her. She had Sopiya to help her navigate through these things. He had nothing other than his wolf and she doubted his wolf was able to communicate things clearly.

She closed the distance between them. Her hands reached to cup his face, pushing it up so that he no longer was looking at the floor.

"Jared, I'm fine. It's fine."

His eyes refused to meet hers, but she continued to speak, "I understand it—I do. My wolf is different and she communicates with me even when I'm not in wolf form. She explained what it was about and if I didn't want it, I would've said no."

"But…I couldn't…didn't stop until you cried out." His words a soft whisper.

"But you stopped—it's just new to you. Your wolf is an animal that lives inside you, but mine is different—she's the reincarnation of my ancestor. So she's more human than animal, but the two sides of her co-exist."

Her confession brought his eyes to her face. His curiosity apparent. "So, it's true then? What Old Quil thought—that your wolf is Sopiya?"

Nodding in affirmation, she prepared herself for his next questions. "Then that means that Seth's wolf is important too. And if your wolf is Sopiya, then the only other wolf in our histories that could be of the same magnitude of her would be…Taha Aki."

She figured it was better to answer his questions while they ate breakfast. The food she had prepared was cold, but at least she remembered to remove it from the hot stove so it wasn't burned. She heated up a plate of food for each of them and together they sat down at the table and ate. She told him what she could and explained to him how some things she wasn't ready to share. He understood and didn't pressure her for more details than what she provided.

Afterwards, they cleaned up the kitchen and laundry room before throwing her sheets into the dryer. As they got fully dressed, he fussed over the mark on her neck. It was nearly healed in the short amount of time since it happened. The mark revealed a circle of his teeth with just the slightest pinkness surrounding it. He asked her whether it hurt and inspected it from nearly every possible angle.

His concern was touching, but it didn't take long before she got annoyed. "You can look at it all day, but we're not going to avoid what we've got to do today. I told you it's fine and you can see that it is."

He grizzled at her words though in the end he agreed to let it go. She wasn't averse to kicking him out of her bed for a while if he continued. It would be hard after the past few days, but she would find a way to cope.

By the time they left La Push it was nearly nine. Granted, that was still early, but she had found out from Angela that there was some type of break so that the teachers could have conferences. She also had gathered that Bella was an early riser and hopefully Charlie would already be at work.

She drove while Jared nervously picked at the fraying hem of his shorts. If she wasn't so worried, his anxiety would be endearing. Instead, she focused on what she needed to say to Bella and what the possible outcomes of their talk could be.

When the two-story white house came into view, Jared's stomach clenched and he reflexively swallowed his rising vomit. He had never been to her house. He avoided anything relating to Bella like the plague. Now they were going into the one place that was sure to be saturated with her scent.

And would it be the scent of death he would smell? Or something that would pull his wolf toward her? Wrapping its steely fingers around his spine and bending him to her will. There had to be another way.

"Alright, let's get this done with." Leah's voice interrupted his musing and his heart stuttered as she put the car into park and turned the engine off.

He wondered if he would be quick enough to run from her. He shook his head to dispel the idea. She would anticipate his moves and he didn't have the ability like she did to block an intrusion into his mind.

Taking a deep breath in and then exhaling, his hand wrapped on the silver handle and he opened the door. He talked his body through each move. Telling his body where to put his limbs and how to turn until he was out of the car; then he instructed his feet how to walk to the door of Bella's house.

Leah slid her hand into his. Her fingers twined with his and she gave his hand a gentle squeeze. A steady rhythm of three squeezes and then a pause followed by three more squeezes and a pause. It took him longer than it should have to understand what she was doing. It was the same thing he had done for her when she had to face the elders and pack only a few short days ago.

Her actions bolstered him. He could do this. They could do this. She had chosen him all those months ago and so had he. This crazy wolf business couldn't change things. Sure, they had gotten off-track, but they weren't any longer.

He was the one to lift his hand first and knock on the door. The faint sound of footsteps grew louder as they got closer. The door opened slowly and cautiously, taking forever to reveal Bella.

Bella stared at the two people on her doorstep. She knew why they were here, but she wasn't sure what she was supposed to do about it. She glanced at their joined hands—and she felt the same feeling that she first felt when Edward left.

"Hi, Bella," Leah greeted. "Do you think we could come in for a bit? I wanted to apologize for the other day and I thought we could all talk."

Bella's heart raced at the reminder of what had happened a few days ago. She hadn't protested the story that Jake gave Charlie, but inside she seethed. Why was her father so quick to believe others when they told him about her "accidents?" Her lack of grace was a well-known fact, but that didn't mean she was so clumsy that she couldn't go a week without an injury of some kind.

Her hesitation prompted Leah to speak again. "I'm really sorry, Bella. I didn't mean to hurt you—and I know that it seems like a copout, but I wasn't myself that day. It was the first day I'd phased and I learned the truth…"

"How'd you know?" Bella asked sharply.

"About the venom?"

Bella nodded and so Leah continued, "I didn't—at least not the human part of me. It was my wolf. It was the wolf who didn't understand why none of the others had noticed. And it was the wolf that showed them."

"Fine," Bella agreed, pushing the screen door open and stepping to the side. "We can sit here."

Bella pointed to the same kitchen table which was nestled near a bowed window. The lace curtains on the window filtered the early morning sun. Leah and Jared sat with their back toward the window and Bella waited until they were both sitting before she took a seat.

Crossing her arms over her chest, she waited for one of them to start speaking. It was a leftover gesture from those few weeks after Edward and his family left. When she was sure her heart had been torn from her chest. Her arms struggled to hold her body together. Every breath was painful—wrenched from lungs with an unspeakable agony.

Every day had been like that for two weeks. Up until the day she had met Jared's eyes. At first she didn't realize what happened. The realization dawned much later that evening when she was at home in her bed. The agony had dissipated without warning. Somehow, she had wished for the pain to go away and it had.

At their continued silence, she got angry. It was something she hadn't been allowed to feel when she was with Edward. His presence did something to her. It didn't matter how much she hated when he controlled or manipulated her—somehow she would cave and give into his demands. Had it not been for her desire to please him and Alice—they would still be here. Instead, she had gotten a paper cut and ended up surrounded by six suddenly ravenous vampires. He left to protect her.

"What's this about? You've already made your thoughts very clear, Jared, so what are you asking for my blessing?"

It was the first time since they had shown up that he glanced up and met her gaze. The pull was a tiny niggling sensation at the back of his mind. Like his body remembered something, but his brain didn't care. He felt as she tried to pull him in. Her eyes locked on him, pushing what could only be described as a poorly crafted bond.

Had it been any time before the events of this morning he would have been powerless to resist. Whatever, however she had managed to forge the imprint—he now realized it was false. It was a shadow of what the others felt and that was why he had been able to resist for as long as he had.

"No. I'm not here to ask permission. We're not here for that. We're here to tell you this has to stop," he told her.

"I don't get what you're talking about."

"I talked to Rosalie," Leah interjected.

They watched as Bella paled for a moment before gathering her bearings. "So? Rose hates me, she always has. I'm sure she didn't have anything nice to say about me."

"Actually, I don't think she hates you. If anything, I think she's jealous of your humanity and it makes her angry that you are so willing to give it up," Leah declared.

"Well, she should work on her technique."

Leah smiled and chuckled softly at Bella's antics. At the moment, Bella was showing her true age, which was that of a teenager. A kid who had gotten their way one too many times and wasn't used to being denied anything.

"I'll have to let her know. But that's not the real reason we came here. We're here because I know about James and how Edward saved you. I also know about Edward and Alice's powers. What I'm missing is your side of the story. You care to share it?"

Bella chewed her lower lip, her eyes flitting around the room nervously. She had never spoken to another living soul the events surrounding James' attack. How close she had been to death whether it was from James' venom or Edward draining her to stop the change. And the injuries she received had made it a very close call. The doctors had told Charlie and Renée, over and over, how lucky she was.

While she debated whether to give her side of the story, Leah and Jared waited patiently. The silence grew and became so uncomfortable that Bella felt she didn't have a choice. Her voice quiet, a near whisper as she started to tell the story from her unique perspective; the perspective of a human who knew what life and death were.

Leah and Jared listened; neither interrupting her tale. They knew they would get more by letting Bella speak versus asking her all the questions they had. Bella's story established Rosalie's.

When she reached the part of her birthday and how the Cullens had left the very next day, Leah's heart hurt. She understood what it felt like to have the supernatural storm into your life and take away your choices. And she could sense the underlying rage Bella had toward the Cullens, in particular Edward and Alice. Their betrayal seemed the most severe.

"Rosalie had a theory," Leah stated quietly. "She thought maybe James' venom changed something inside you. Edward couldn't hear your thoughts before, but if the venom changed the glitch in your brain—maybe he could."

"How'd you do it?" Jared asked.

Bella knew exactly what he was referring to and Leah's statement about Rosalie's theory only confirmed what she had suspected. Too many times after James' attack, Edward had gazed at her puzzled. Too many times, he had asked her to repeat what she just said—only she hadn't spoken a word.

She remembered that day in September. It was barely over a month ago. Jake was trying his best to be her friend and cheer her up. Emily and Rachel had been welcoming and it felt wonderful to belong somewhere. The best part was none of them knew the Cullens personally, so they didn't give her the same pitying glances her classmates did.

The first time Jake came over, she had been shocked by his appearance. When she met his group of friends, the pack, she realized the scary stories he had told her last spring weren't just true when it came to the cold ones. It seemed unreal, but these young men turned into wolves to protect their people from vampires.

And when Emily mentioned the word imprinting, she was intrigued. Soul mates—it sounded so romantic and perfect. Edward had told her time and time again that they were mates, but he had lied to her. Imprinting seemed so much stronger. The bond between the wolf and his mate were unbreakable. Not even a prior love interest could do it—Sam and Emily were proof of that.

They were on the beach that day, playing soccer. She wasn't good at sports, but she had been cajoled into playing. As she fell for what she was sure was the hundredth time, Jared reached a hand down to help her up.

It wasn't the first time he had looked at her and like every other male there, he was attractive. She thanked him for helping her up and he made a teasing comment to her. His face curved into a smile; two dimples, one on each cheek peeked out.

She kept her eyes on his and suddenly wished that she could have his devotion. And it truly wasn't about him; it could have been any of them. She just wanted someone to love her that would never leave. His eyes widened in surprise and he leaned down, his nose snuffled against her skin as he spoke her name.

Her wish had come true, but the happiness of the moment soon turned bitter. He avoided her at all costs and fought against the bond she had unwittingly created. His rejection of her was too soon on the heels of Edward's and so she fought back. It didn't matter that he didn't want her—he was going to accept it. She knew it was wrong, but she didn't want to feel the ache where her heart used to lie before Edward tore it from her chest.

"I just thought it," she answered. "I didn't even realize at first that I'd done it. And when Edward left, it hurt so badly—suddenly it didn't. Jared was like a drug. The few seconds of happiness that I got were enough to have me continue to do it."

FF_8756144_38 04/16/2013 6:27AM