Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight.

Author's note: Whew, a little over 24 hours between updates...Wow. It helps that I'm home sick with what feels like the plague. Won't you be a lovely audience and review? Pretty please?

Jacob held his breath. It was imperative that he get to his position without making a sound. He wanted to transform but if he did, the others would know what he was doing. Sam would find out eventually, as soon as he phased again and the link between their minds forged. But until that happened, this was his only chance to learn of what went on these damned secretive meetings.

He never forbade it. He chanted the words in his mind but, while technically true, Jacob would definitely get into trouble for this. Council meetings were for council members only. It was implicitly understood that only Sam, the Alpha of the pack was permitted to attend.

To hell with Sam.

Speak of the devil. Sam was the last to arrive, and he sauntered into the building used for tribal meetings without so much as a glance in Jacob's direction. Thank god, Jacob sighed and started to breathe naturally again.

"Thank you for coming, Sam."

Jacob rolled his eyes. It was ludicrous how much Sam and the rest of their comrades were worshipped, especially by this bunch who knew the full truth of what they were. The council treated them like kings, but what were they really? Prisoners. They were all bound to this place, to these people. Bound to be protectors. Bound to be trapped fighting.

"Sue," Sam greeted her as he shook her hand. "Quil. Billy."

"Let's get to business," Billy looked up at Sam expectantly. "What news?"

"We've caught their scent four times since the incident," Sam reported. "There's no pattern. Twice they've come from the north. Once from the south. Once from the sea. They've always stuck together, never splitting up."

Quil, the oldest member of the council croaked his question. "What do they want? Have they spoken at all?"

"They haven't said a word," Sam said. "Though, to be fair, we haven't tried to talk to them."

"It's getting difficult to contain," said Billy. "Hiking season is in full swing and the dead and missing are piling up. So far they've killed randomly but sooner or later the police is going to figure out it's the same perpetrators."

"We're trying," Sam was frustrated now. Jacob couldn't blame him. The way the elders were talking...they had no idea how difficult the last month has been on the pack. The most frustrating thing, other than why exactly they've lingered in their area, was that there were only two of them against their five. It was pathetic. And it was alarming. They were just as fast as the wolves. Just as agile. Just as deadly with their teeth and nails. They were true monsters. Killers.

Billy looked to the members of his council. "Perhaps it's time we ask-"

"No!" Sam interrupted gruffly. "We're not going there."

"They can help you, Sam." Billy continued undeterred. "They know how to fight their own kind."

"Even if they wanted to help us, if we do this, we'll always be in their debt." Sam shook his head as he spoke as if shaking away the nightmare scenario that he envisioned. "That will have repercussions for decades if not more, just like your treaty did."


"You question the treaty our ancestors made?" Billy asked slowly.

"All of us question it," Sam said as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.

Billy sighed. He looked so old just then, older even than the ancient Quil. "I know it's hard after all the stories you've heard from us, from myself even. But the Cullens are not like the others. Our ancestors were wise to see it."

"There's no point arguing about this," Sue spoke up. "We can't undo the treaty. We can only honor it until they break it. And they haven't. Yet."

"So you've said," Sam said through gritted teeth. Jacob inched closer to the open window. He knew, just as the council members knew, exactly what Sam was thinking.

Billy wheeled himself forward, looking annoyed for the first time that night. "We have been through this. Countless times. They did not reveal our secret. She found out on her own."

Countless times indeed. Jacob had never seen his father so insistent on anything as when he spoke of Bella Swan and the night he was held hostage. Billy had managed to put out the flames of warmongering among the council and the pack in the days after, as he repeated over and over that the Cullens had not broken their side of the treaty.

"My pack has too many cubs and not enough seasoned fighters, and that's why I went along with your claims. We'd never win in a fight against the Cullens. Not now. But you must realize...none of us believe it."

"I don't care what you believe!" Billy yelled. "We've chosen our path. It's done. The treaty still stands and I'll be damned if you make Bella Swan your reason for ignoring it!"

Whoa...to Jacob's knowledge, this was the first time any member of the council raised their voice to Sam Uley. Two months ago, the irony of Billy Black defending Bella and the Cullens against his own people would have brought him to his knees with laughter. Now, as was the case for too many hours of his long days, he didn't know what to think. Or what to feel.

Sam looked at him in shock. "How...how you of all people can defend her...it's tearing Jacob apart!"

Billy shook his head. "She's just a girl," he whispered. "What happened with my wife..." he paused and looked Sam in the eye. "...is no different that what happened with Emily."

Sam flinched and looked away. It was the sharpest weapon Billy could draw against Sam, and the cruelest. Emily was Sam's imprint, the love of his life. And because of her proximity to him, she was an unwitting victim to his claws when he phased uncontrollably, and would have those horrible scars for the rest of her life. It was Sam's most regrettable act.

The four of them stood in silence. Only old Quil's labored breathing reached Jacob's ears as he strained to hear what, if anything, else would be said.

"The treaty stands...for now," Sam said with a tone of finality. And he left without another word. Jacob remained in his spot, hidden by shrubberies and a big garbage bin.

Inside, talking resumed albeit more quietly.

"I'm not saying you're wrong," Sue said to Billy. "But the girl does complicate things. Sooner or later, they're going to make her one of them. Even if you somehow convince the tribe that it doesn't violate the treaty, which it most certainly would, we'll then have possibly the most powerful, most destructive vampire on our doorstep. You say the doctor helped her control her powers. What will happen if they get worse? If he can't help her again?"

"I don't know," Billy said desperately. "But until that day comes, Bella is a human being and that means she falls under our protection."

Ha. Jacob didn't have to see Sue's face to guess at the skepticism that must be painted on it. The pack doesn't classify Bella as human. They had no idea what she was, but no one that could do the things she could do with fire could be thought of as human. If she and the pack were ever to meet head on...Jacob doubted very much any of them would consider her a human to be protected, no matter how friendly she behaved.

Billy had given them all so much detail about that night. And Jacob too, though his hysteria with his first phasing colored his own version of events heavily, relayed what he could remember. The strange, horrid smells of the nomads and the Cullens. His utter panic. How Rosalie managed to make him cooperate. God, she was beautiful. Even through wolf eyes that could see the unnaturalness, the coldness of her features, he had been mesmerized by her. It was her, a sight he had grown accustomed to from seeing her with Bella so many times, that snapped him out of his blind panic.

Her voice had guided him from Charlie's house to that damned school. When he thought back on it, and he thought about it a lot, he felt amazed that she managed to convince him to stay outside the school and not go inside to rescue his father and Bella himself. It wasn't until long after the evacuation and Bella and Billy were both taken to the hospital that Jacob really put together everything that had happened and what it meant. The legends were true. He was a wolf. The Cullens were bloodsuckers. And Bella...not only was she in love with one of them, she knew about his people before even he did. Oh, and she could control fire.

Bella. Bella killed his mother. Bella saved his father.

The world was upside down and inside out, and Jacob just wanted everything to go back the way it used to be. He wanted to ride his motorcycle alongside Bella. He wanted to look forward to catching a glimpse of the impossible beauty that was her girlfriend. He wanted his biggest worries to be how he would graduate from high school and save for college.

But all of that was gone now. And he couldn't bring any of it back.

As Jacob got up from his spot and made to leave, another clandestine figure on the other side of the building dusted herself off. Leah Clearwater waited several more minutes until the remaining three council members left before she too headed home. She'd catch hell from Sam for this, but she didn't care. What could he do, really? Sam can go fuck himself.

"...We'll then have possibly the most powerful, most destructive vampire on our hands. You say the doctor helped her control her powers. What will happen if they get worse? If he can't help her again?"

"I don't know," Billy said desperately. "But until that day comes, Bella is a human being and that means she falls under our protection."

Sound was such a funny thing. It could travel for miles and miles if the conditions were just right. And Bella's powers ensured that conditions were perfect when she wanted them to be.

Miles straight up, the last of the council's words rose until they reached Bella's ears. In complete darkness she floated on a blanket of nothingness, and listened.

So the pack thought she was dangerous. Well, they're right. She could light them up from here, right now. What could be more dangerous?

I don't want to kill them. But the nomads clearly do.

Or did they? It was pretty foolish what they were doing. Victoria and Laurent had the whole world for their hunting ground. The Quileutes aren't going to chase them across the globe. So why the cat and mouse game?

And why...how could Billy have forgiven her so easily? She had left nothing out of her tale to him. He knew exactly how his wife had died. Bella didn't understand it, and to be frank the pack's distrust made a lot more sense. They didn't even know how many she had really killed. They didn't know how much she wanted to kill...right at this moment. If that came to the light...well, even Billy would greenlight whatever Sam and Jake wanted to do to her.

Rosalie's hair. Her hands. Her mouth. Her skin on mine.

She glided gently back to Forks, high in the black sky. People were dying. If pride was keeping the pack from asking the Cullens for help, maybe she could circumvent all that. No, she wouldn't risk putting her family in danger. But...Edward...

Bella laughed softly to herself as a plan started formulating in her mind.

Author's note II: Let me know your thoughts! Reviews kind of make life worth living especially when my head's all stuffed up with snot like it is right now.