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

Original Posting: Entry into the Paws & Art 2.0 Anon contest. Prompt was to select an adoptable banner from Printing Paws and write an O/S using the banner as inspiration.

It wasn't the first time that I'd happened upon a conversation that was about me. It was the one thing that was sure to send me into rage where I'd be unable to hold back the phase. It seemed the wolf was the only method of escape I had.

"Jake, have you thought about asking your dad?"

I heard Quil's question as clearly as if he'd been speaking to me. Despite Jake and Quil's newly enhanced senses, they still weren't as acute as mine. After all, I had more time and practice than either of them. My phasing had stumped the elders. They'd even tried talking to my mom, asking – more like pleading with – her to reveal my father's name.

She stood firm and said "no." Told the three of them – Billy, Harry and Old Quil, that it was none of their business. Even went so far as to ask them why it was so important after all these years.

Their desire to know and the need to protect the tribe's most sacred story warred within them. I saw how they wavered; their demeanors shifting. In the end their duty to protect their secret outweighed their need to find out my mom's. I'm sure they thought I'd slip up eventually and tell.

They didn't know that I never would. It was impossible for me to do so, because even though I knew – I was forbidden. The truth locked in my heart because I'd always known there'd be a day it would be revealed. I could feel time winding down and knew it wouldn't be long before I'd have to make the decision which would have me embracing who I was.

"You'd ask your dad if he was still alive?" Jake's voice was incredulous as though he couldn't fathom it.

"Of course I would. You're not going to?"

"No. He wouldn't – couldn't have done that to my mom. He loved her so much and he's the chief, he'd never do that."

I wanted to snort at Jake's words. His presumption that Billy was somehow better than all other men because he loved his wife. The fact that he was lucky enough to be born as the heir of the tribe. It wasn't those things that kept someone from straying. It might make it harder, but it was still possible to commit adultery.

Sam's father was a perfect example. Joshua Uley had managed to get a scholarship to Washington State, but Allison had gotten pregnant at the end of their senior year. A shotgun wedding happened that summer and suddenly Josh's dreams for the future were cut short.

He'd tried to be the man he'd been raised to be. But the pressures of marriage, a small child, and his future growing dimmer by the second proved to be too much. He found solace in alcohol and women. It wasn't that he didn't love Allison – it was the fact he lost himself at the same time his dreams had vanished.

Allison finally had enough and kicked him to the curb before Sam started school. It was at that moment, he'd realized what he'd done. His shame and mortification prevented him from staying in contact with his son. And Allison's anger prevented her from being honest, so Sam grew up thinking his father never sent a cent of support.

When in fact, Sam's college was completely funded by his father; the scholarship Sam had turned down, was in fact not really a scholarship at all. The money was there simply waiting for Sam to take it. And if he didn't – it'd be there for his and Emily's children.

"Sam's been thinking about tracking Joshua down and asking him," Quil remarked. "He's our friend, Jake – don't you think he deserves to know?"

I couldn't tolerate another second of their conversation. I had to get out of there. I attached my shorts to my leg and then allowed my anger to overwhelm me, feeling the familiar burn course through my body, the stretching and re-aligning of muscle and bones. I landed on all fours; my paws making a dull thud on the forest floor and I ran.

If there was one good thing out of this; it was the freedom the wolf gave me. I was faster than anyone in the pack. For a short time, I could outrun all their sympathetic and curious looks. I could get away from my anger over what had happened and my fear of what was going to happen.

I ran, pushing myself harder than I had before. The forest around me became a blur of green and brown. The blue sky was barely visible as I ran into the deep and dark places that we rarely patrolled.

I could sense the few others that were in wolf form, but I shuttered my mind, closing their thoughts from me while shielding mine at the same time. I didn't want anyone to be present in my head at the moment. My mind replayed Jake and Quil's conversation over and over. Why couldn't they all just leave it alone? How had they come to the assumption that it was Billy, Joshua, or Quil?

Oh, that's right, because somehow they felt my lack of Quileute blood on my mother's side meant that my father had to descend from the previous pack. That was the stupidest thing I'd ever heard. It wasn't all the Quileute's who carried the gene – it was only a select few. Those who could trace their ancestors back to the original shape shifter Taha Aki.

It was his blood that gave us the power to phase into our wolves. It was possible for anyone with Quileute blood to walk amongst the spirits, but only those with a few drops of Taha Aki's blood could transform into the wolf. The children from his first wife couldn't – only those with his second and third could because he didn't have the magic until after his first wife's death.

Our ability was nothing more than a genetic mutation. One that was passed down along the years, and gifting a few of us who were faced with our enemy the power to protect those we loved. Had it not been for Utlapa and his plan to take Taha Aki's spot, our people would have died out years ago.

The evilness of Utlapa was told over and over, but no one stopped to think about where we might be had Taha Aki not needed to ask the wolf if they could share the wolf's body. Had his anger not been too much for the wolf and together they transformed into a man. A bigger and stronger man, who as long as he continued to phase didn't age, and was free from illness and death.

My legs felt like jello and my lungs could no longer expand without pain. I could feel the tingling sensation in my muscles as I neared the point of complete exhaustion. As much as I wanted to continue to run, I couldn't. And I knew that running wouldn't solve anything.

I slowed down finally taking note of the forest surrounding me. My ears perked up at the sound of running water and I headed in that direction. In my haste to run away, I hadn't paid much attention and realized I was much further south than I'd ever gone before.

I could smell the salt of the ocean, so I knew I was still close to the coast. The small creek I quenched my thirst in wasn't big enough to provide the sound I'd heard earlier, so it must drain into a larger river. Nothing around me seemed familiar and I thanked the spirits for thinking ahead and giving us some type of internal homing device. When I was ready to go, I'd simply feel for the pack and my body would be pulled into their direction.

Lying down, I rested my head on my paws and tried to figure out how to fix the mess my phase had caused. I hated not telling Jake and Quil the truth, but it wasn't my choice to keep quiet either. If anything I just wanted all of them to stop whispering about it. I hated being the center of attention and it frustrated me how for 16 years it hadn't mattered that my father was nameless and faceless, but now it was suddenly everyone's business who he was.

I was so deep in my thoughts that I didn't hear the dark grey wolf approach. The wolf changed his form and slid into his human skin as though it was second nature. I suppose after all these years it was.

"It is a heavy burden you bear and for that my son, I apologize. It is not often that a father thinks of what their actions may do to their children."

It had only been a handful of times that I'd met him. The first was when I was very young and had wandered off into the forest behind the small house we lived in. As the day progressed into evening and it got darker and colder, I became more frantic with making my way home. Instead of moving closer to home, I'd gotten even more lost and deeper into the forest.

He'd found me and carried me back. Transforming before my eyes from the wolf he was to the man who lingered inside. I ended up sick and was in bed for two days afterwards. I'd told my mom how I'd been saved by a wolf. She didn't say anything for a long time, her eyes seemed to search my face, and then she'd hugged me, explaining that I shouldn't tell anyone else.

I hadn't understood the need for secrecy. It made no sense to my young mind. I'd shared my tale with my best friends and Billy had overheard. He'd asked my mom about it and she'd shrugged the whole incident off, blaming the fever I'd gotten after my adventure.

I was slightly older the next time that I saw him. Close to thirteen. I'd seen him from my bedroom window. For days, he'd been there in the shadows, watching me though never coming closer. There was something inside me that made me realize we had a connection. One that ran deeper than the fact he'd saved my life.

After days of his scrutiny, I decided to see if he'd talk to me. While he stayed in wolf form the entire time, I swore I could hear him responding to my questions. We had an entire conversation and I learned a bit about him that day. When it grew dark and my mom called me to come inside, he got up to leave.

His parting words – thoughts – had given me more questions than answers. "Soon you will understand everything. I see the strength you have and your ability to love and care for all. I am so proud of you, my son."

I didn't see him again until after I phased. Suddenly his presence and words made sense. He was the mysterious father that my mom could speak so fondly of, despite the fact he'd abandoned her. The reason why she'd never moved on because he was it for her.

I'd been so angry when I found out. I'd raged at him, using my wolf to attack him and he'd let me. The others hadn't known that I'd phased. My connection to the pack wasn't the same as theirs. I had to accept a submissive role in order for the pack to be aware of my wolf. He'd been the one to show me how to do it.

I fought him until I was exhausted. The transformation from wolf into my human form occurred with a minimum of fuss and I'd wept. Cried for everything that was wrong in my world, for what was to come, and even the fact that I was weak.

"Crying does not make a man weak," he intoned. "It shows the capacity of one's heart as tears are the blood of our soul. I am sorry for the wrongs I have done to you."

That day I learned how I'd come to be born. Several members of the Makah tribe had noticed large animal tracks in the forest, fearing for the tribe's safety traps were set. He'd unknowingly been snared in one near my grandparent's home. My mom had heard his whimpering cries and despite her parents' warnings had ventured into the forest.

The story said something about my mom and her strength. She'd walked up to a horse-sized wolf and freed him from a bear trap. It wouldn't have taken much for him to turn on her and kill her, thinking she'd intended to harm him more. She didn't know that there was a man inside the wolf – only that one of Mother Earth's creatures was hurt.

Over the course of a week, she nursed him back to health. Tending to his wounds and sneaking what food she could out of the house. The entire time he stayed the wolf. He'd been unable to transform into his human self for longer than anyone could fathom. The horrors of those last days of his human life burned into his mind. The animal he was refused to allow him to be human. Perhaps the wolf's fear was of death; for if he allowed the man to become human again, the man would never take the form of his wolf and together they'd die.

It was the day his wounds were finally healed that something extraordinary happened. He'd been gingerly testing out his ability to put weight on his paw while under her watchful eyes. The urge to thank this small slip of a girl overcame him and his form shimmered, the burn and stretch which had become foreign to him occurred and he stood before her.

I don't like to think what exactly happened next or delve too much into the details, but they'd fallen in love. Their relationship only lasted mere months as he struggled and fought with his wolf. In the end, he'd left because he knew it was only a matter of time. The wolf had become too strong over the years and he was forced to bend to its will.

I glanced up at the man who stood before me – my father. He appeared barely older than I. His hair was long and fell just below his shoulders. He wore a leather breechclout, which had been standard attire all those years ago.

It was the one part of the story that had been forgotten or had been deemed unimportant. The ability to phase back and forth and not have worry about your clothes surviving the change was the simple dress of our ancestors. I'd thought about crafting my own, but then I'd have to explain to the pack how I'd come up with the idea.

I stood on four legs and then phased myself. Releasing the tie on my shorts and pulling them on as quickly as I could. I felt my cheeks heat up as they reddened in embarrassment. It made no sense, it never would. I'd understand feeling this way if I had to do this in front of a girl, but this was my father.

"Shall we sit and you can unburden your troubles on me?"

I sighed. How did I explain that at the moment he was the cause of all my inner angst? I was worse than a girl when it came to this stuff.

I sat on a log and he sat next to me. "I can't stand it. None of it. The wolf stuff. You and mom. Everybody talking about it behind my back and in front of me."

"I know it is hard for you, but I sense a change coming. Something not even I anticipated. The spirits have shown me what is to come. I promise that these feelings you have won't last forever."

His words made me feel better, but I needed more. Couldn't he give me a timeline? Some idea of when all this would make sense.

"How much longer? I don't think I can keep repressing my anger. Even my best friends don't see how much it hurts when they won't let it go."

His arm wrapped around my shoulder. The connection we had as a father and son was strengthened by both of us being wolves. I could feel as he tried to pass his confidence of my future to me. The reassurance he tried to give me that everything was as it was meant to be.

We'd sat for hours that day. The silence only filled with words when they were needed. By the time I left I felt a sense of peace. I had to trust in his words and what he'd seen. He was the first of us after all; he had the knowledge of centuries to guide him.

Weeks passed and things remained the same. Each day was a repeat of the last. School, patrol, and of course, pack meetings at Sam and Emily's. Occasionally we'd get the opportunity to chase after the redhead that had been plaguing the area.

Not only was she fast; she had an innate ability to get out of any type of trap we set. We'd taken to creating game plans like football teams would. Well-thought out plays that should have allowed us to take her down weeks ago, but we had no success. I wondered what she wanted and why she kept returning; maybe that was the key to finally taking her down.

It was another day and we were on her trail again. This time she'd crossed over into Forks and had gotten as far as the Swan house before abruptly turning around. Her scent made a beeline towards La Push and we pushed ourselves to catch up with her. The realization that one of the tribe, our family or friends, could be hurt fueled our muscles.

Her scent brought us within yards of Jake's house and I suddenly realized what or who she may be after. Bella Swan. It was the only thing that made sense.

Jake, where's Bella? Was she going to come over today? You guys have any plans? My words were frantic as I tried to think where we should go.

No…I don't think so, he replied back. His mind replaying his recent moments with her though nothing seemed to stand out.

Wait, Jared cried out. I think see recent footsteps leading toward the cliffs.

We watched as Jared played what he was picking out through his mind. They were small prints, likely made by a pair of sneakers and seemed fresh enough for them to be a possibility. We ran in the direction they were going and Jared caught a glimpse of red hair flashing in the treetops above.

We'd nearly made it to the cliffs when we heard Bella's voice. She sounded half-crazed as she spoke, "You wanted me to be human! Well, watch me!" There was a pause as though she was waiting for someone to answer her before she continued, "But you won't stay with me any other way."

It was Jared whose eyes first captured as she raised her arms up to the sky and pushed off the cliff. Her body disappearing from view in the blink of an eye. Jake pushed himself harder and sped past all of us. He didn't even bother to phase back, jumping as a wolf from the same cliff she'd jumped off only moments before.

The sky was dark and ominous. The wind howling and the waves below crashed into shore. I felt an unfamiliar sensation run along my fur. The events of the day weren't over. This was just the beginning of something big that would be life-changing.

The day Bella jumped was the same day we'd gained two new members to the pack, and also, the same day we lost one of our own. Leah phased unexpectedly – strangely at the same moment in time that Bella jumped – and Harry's heart couldn't take the shock. In her confusion, Leah hadn't realized she was a wolf and she continued her angry tirade on her father. Seth saw everything, realizing that their father was dying on the living room floor and he phased too.

He'd managed to push Leah to the patio door and somehow Sue had held her wits about her so she could slide it open before turning back to her husband. Sue hadn't known or realized the truth of the stories. She'd gotten a crash course in the days preceding and following the burial of her husband. The Clearwater siblings learned all the secrets their father had knowingly hid. Leah learned the truth of Sam and Emily's betrayal though it would never eradicate the bitter taste it left her with.

Even more than before I could use the guidance of my father, but he wasn't present. It didn't matter how far I'd run or how angry and confused I was. It seemed he'd done the same to me that he'd done to my mom all those years ago.

I became one of Leah's targets. She wasn't happy. Her anger at her father, Sam, Emily, and our ancestors trickled into the pack. At first it was insidious and we could all understand it. As time moved on, it got darker and crueler; it wasn't easy to let the insults and jabs go. They felt personal and some of us began to fight back.

Without my father to ask for advice, I turned to my mom. The tragedy which had befallen the Clearwater family was known – at least the part about Harry was. I explained without bringing up the pack or Leah's phase how we'd all experienced bouts of her ill temper and cruel words.

"Embry, I know I can't imagine what she's gone through, but sometimes when we have things that are hurting us, we strike out at anything and everything. She had to deal with Sam breaking her heart last summer, seeing him and Emily around the rez, and now her father's death. I'd bet she's still feeling lost and can't find her way. Be her friend. Let her know that you care about her."

Putting my mom's advice to work was harder than I imagined. The first few times when I approached Leah and offered friendship had ended badly. I had the bruises, both physical and to my ego, to prove it. I persevered and slowly she opened up to me.

I realized we were alike in more ways than one. Her purpose felt unclear just like my destiny was burdensome. And even when I thought we'd become friends and perhaps a bit more, she'd still have moments where she'd push me away. It took time, but I realized she only did it because she was scared. Pushing me away allowed her to test the truth of my words.

The Cullens had been back since Bella's cliff dive, which we all knew was really a suicide attempt. Bella was safely ensconced in the leech's arms and Jake was heartbroken, furious over her fickleness. The redhead still plagued us; only now we were certain who her target was. I'd been right when I assumed she was after Bella.

Once again we were chasing her through the forest. We'd refused to accept any offer of help from the Cullens. It was bad enough that we had a treaty with them. Bad enough that we all knew Bella would eventually be one of them. Whether we'd void the treaty after she was changed remained to be seen, but it was a thought that weighed heavily in our minds.

Leah and I were in the lead. Her smaller size gave her an edge on speed. Not that I minded running behind her. Today I was finding it hard to keep my eyes focused on the pursuit when all I could think about were her curves and the goose bumps that rose on her skin when I touched her.

We were so close to the redhead and I was sure today was the day we'd end it. I could feel it. Same way I'd felt things changing the day Leah phased. Enough was enough. This vampire had roamed our lands for too long.

I watched as Leah pushed her body harder, gaining speed and catching up to the redhead. I did the same not wanting her to fight alone. My fear that she'd be hurt or killed provided better fuel than my desire to capture this abomination and destroy it.

She managed to get a hold on the vampire. Her teeth sunk into its arm, causing the redhead to lose her momentum. Together they tumbled, but the vampire somehow managed to get her bearings quicker. Leah's grip on her arm had loosened when they rolled and the vampire ripped her limb free.

"You'll be the first one of these dogs that I'll kill," she replied with a cackle.

My heart stuttered as I realized I was still too far away to save Leah. By the time I'd reach her, this vampire could end her life. This wasn't what I'd imagined happening. Things had been making sense for once in my life. My parents, phasing, Leah, everything – I couldn't lose her.

My anxiety was shifted to the entire pack along with Seth's. In the midst of everything, I'd forgotten her little brother was running with us. There was no way that he or Sue would be able to face another tragedy.

Embry, Seth, calm down, Sam ordered.

His order had no effect on either of us and I watched as the redhead grasped Leah by her fur and threw her into a tree. The cracking sound we heard, I couldn't be sure whether it was the tree or Leah's bones. As her head hit the ground, her thoughts became silent to us.

The redhead advanced and I'd nearly reached Leah with Jared and Paul hot on my heels. As she crouched over Leah's still form, her hands moving to lock around Leah's neck, a dark grey wolf came out of thin air. His body slammed into the vampire, pushing her away from Leah.

Bright red blood flowed from her head and a wound on her side. The second one was from the vampire's sharp nails as they'd dragged along her rib cage. Time had slowed down to the point I could see everything. My options lay before me and I had to make a choice.

My father or Leah.

I could see his struggle with the redhead. Feel the weariness of his body. Knew that this was the first time in many years that he'd fought a cold one. The last time had been the day his beloved had died.

You know who to choose, my son. You've always known. This is your destiny.

His words rang through my body. Every fiber feeling the determination of my choice. It was Leah. It would always be her because I loved her. We didn't need an imprint to tell us we were soul mates, we just were.

I ran over to her and phased back, using my shorts to stem the flow of blood from her head. I whispered in her ear all the things I hadn't said. The things I wanted to tell her every day for the rest of our lives.

I heard the sounds of battle around us. The screeching sound of the vampire being torn apart, the howls of satisfaction as the pack destroyed her. It wasn't long before I smelled the stench of rotting flesh burning. The sun's rays were clouded with purple smoke.

We'd won. Or they'd won. But Leah was still lifeless in my arms. I could hear her steady heart beat and saw her chest rise with each breath, but her eyes remained closed.

I begged and pleaded. My words no longer a whisper. "Please, Leah. You have to wake up. Please. I can't do this. Not without you. I love you."

Minutes, perhaps hours passed. I couldn't be sure of time any more. It felt like it was speeding up and slowing down at the same time. Her eyelids fluttered and her body trembled. I worried that this would be our last moment together.

She slid effortlessly into her human body. I pulled her into my arms, shielding her as best I could from the pack's eyes. Her weight and warmth, the feel of her body against mine felt right. It felt like I was coming home after centuries of being gone.

"Embry," she called my name breathily. "That wolf… there was a wolf… he saved me…"

Her confusion was evident by her words and face. The order which had prevented me from saying a word for so long was gone. My tongue no longer tied to keeping the secret.

I nodded. "Sweetheart, it was my father."

It was many days later when Leah and I finally saw the others' memories of that day. My father sacrificing his life for Leah's while I'd held her close and begged her to stay with me. For all the years he'd been given, all the things he'd seen, he hadn't been strong enough. Or perhaps, he was tired of wandering.

The redhead struck him down. The wolf's hold over him disappeared. By the time the pack reached them, he was human with his blood spilling from his body onto the forest floor. The rage the pack felt at that moment was indescribable and the vampire didn't stand a chance of surviving.

They'd ripped her apart. Paul phased back and got a fire going while the others threw the pieces of her into it. They howled together, a single unit, when the smoke filled the sky.

Then their attention had turned to Leah and me. They watched everything as it happened. Through their eyes, it seemed like something magical had occurred. Half of them swore they saw a spirit walk over to Leah and breathe life back into her. The other half thought it was simply a reaction to their recent kill, breathing into too much smoke from the fire.

Either way, she'd woken up and when she'd asked about the wolf that saved her; my answer pulled their eyes from us back to the man who lay forever stilled on the ground. The man who'd fathered me and could have been my twin, aging before our eyes becoming a withered old man.

The rhythmic sound of drums and chanting were carried on a breeze. The wind swept through the forest and as though he was made of sand, my father's body disappeared. Swept away and scattered across our lands. He'd returned home.