AN: This is the original one shot that started the whole story. For obvious reasons, I took it down before I added more chapters, but I'm posting it here in case you didn't get to read it before. Most of it was incorporated into the story, except I stretched the three paragraphs about the wedding into two chapters ;)
Thanks for sticking with me the whole journey! I hope you enjoyed it!
She finally stopped running and collapsed on the wet forest floor. Her mind was screaming don't go! and follow him! but her body had reached its limit. One part of her mind told her this was exactly why he left her- she wasn't good enough, or strong enough, or perfect enough to keep up with him. She was just a distraction. Nothing more.
He ran through the woods with his nose to ground, desperately searching for the scent of the lost girl. Finally, after months of nothing but problems from his furry new skin, there was something positive his wolf could do.
Anything yet Sam? The voice of his brother brought his mind to the task at hand. It was hard when they were all three phased together; Jared and Paul couldn't keep thoughts of their imprints tucked away enough, and Sam was constantly bombarded with images and words he couldn't relate to.
Imprinting. Just another cosmic fuck you for Sam Uley. It was bad enough that he was stuck as a wolf for over a month, unable to phase back on his own. Then to have one of his new pack members imprint on Sam's own fiancée? How in the hell was that fair? But just like his college dreams, Sam had to gracefully step back and step aside for the good of the tribe.
The evil little voice in his mind reminded him once again that maybe there was something fundamentally wrong with him. His father ran off when he was a baby, then the wolf gods took away the love of his life, while making him watch her with her new lover every single day. Maybe he just wasn't good enough to continue the Uley line, or make a bunch of new puppies for the next generation.
The sharp smell of leech brought his attention to the east. I've got something! he told his pack, as he changed his course and soon picked up on the warm smell of strawberries and vanilla. This new scent brought his wolf fiercely to the surface and he was running completely on instinct now.
Find her, find her, mine, mine, mine. Paul and Jared were stunned at the direction Sam's thoughts had taken, but they continued to follow him, keeping their distance a bit.
The huge black wolf stopped nearly on top of the tiny girl, snorting at the offensive stench of bloodsucker that clung to her clothing and hair. She was still muttering quietly, but his keen wolf ears could easily make out her words- not good enough, don't go, don't leave me, must keep running...
He used his snout to nudge her over onto her back and began to check her over for injuries. It never once occurred to him to phase human, that part of Sam was deeply buried at the moment. With just a few well-placed snips of his razor-sharp teeth, he tore her expensive designer clothing from her body and tossed them as far as he could throw, leaving her clad only in a simple white cotton bra and modest panties.
His huge warm tongue began to bathe her carefully, starting at her toes and working his way up her body. As he reached her midsection, her arms began to twitch and she slowly opened her eyes to look at him. As soon as their eyes met, her heart stuttered like she had been shocked, and the haze began to lift from her battered mind.
Warmth. She was being bathed in soothing, comforting heat. Completely surrounded, protected, no longer cold and alone. The sight of the wolf didn't scare her; she wasn't fooled that easily by appearances. The scariest thing to hurt her so far had taken the form of a perfectly ordinary-looking man. Until the wolf proved otherwise, she would trust him.
The man finally emerged from the wolf when he met the warm brown eyes of his entire universe. He couldn't remember anything that was important before this moment, his family, his friends, his fucking tribe, nothing but the angel before him.
Her gaze went from unfocused to warm and friendly in just a few seconds, and she tentatively reached a weak arm up to touch the fur on his muzzle as she breathed a soft, "Hi."
Her touch sent tingles through his whole body and he began to purr without a second thought as he returned to the task of grooming his mate. His tongue was the perfect texture to clean her skin of the leech's scent, and warm her blood as it began to circulate through her frozen body once again. She sighed in relief as she regained her senses under his careful ministrations.
Once the wolf was satisfied that his mate was warm and clean, he melted back into the man, leaving Sam to carefully lift the girl from leaves surrounding her. He was slightly startled to find her clothes were gone, but Paul nodded toward the pile tossed over by a tree. "I'll burn those for you, just take her home and soothe your wolf."
He nodded absently as he turned his human eyes down to the precious weight in his arms. She was smiling softly as she tucked her head against his strong chest, unapologetically breathing in his earthy scent. He held her easily in one arm as he raised his free hand to cup her cheek. "Hi, I'm Sam."
"I'm Bella, I think." Her face scrunched with a small frown as she looked around them, "I'm not sure why I'm out here."
It was Sam's turn to frown now, had she hit her head or something? If that leech harmed his mate... Taking a deep breath, he turned his focus back to her, "Have you been hurt?"
She thought about it carefully before shaking her head, "No, I don't think so. I just feel strange, like I'm waking up from a long dream. Or am I dreaming now? No, but this seems more real." She placed her small white hand on his firm bicep and squeezed gently as she nodded to herself, "This feels more real."
The wolves exchanged puzzled glances before Jared spoke up, "She could have been poisoned by them. Kept under their power. You seemed to wake her up just then- she is your imprint, right?"
Sam gave them a brief smile, more emotion than he had shown in months. Paul felt a twinge of relief that his friend and alpha would finally know the peace that only his soul-mate could bring him. He patted Sam on the shoulder and nodded toward the reservation. "Take her to your house, we'll cover for you."
Through the quickly-darkening woods, he ran with his tiny mate in his arms. She was content, safe for the first time in months, and completely enamored with the strong man- or wolf- that held her. It bothered her slightly that there was something she was forgetting, some feeling of inadequacy that she couldn't place. She finally conceded that if it was truly important, it would come back to her eventually.
It wasn't until he ran into his backyard, that he realized he never put his shorts on when he phased back. His nudity never bothered him, but he wasn't sure how she would react. He also thought she hadn't noticed her own lack of clothing.
As they entered the house, he could still smell the leech tainting her luscious brown hair, and his wolf once again took control of the situation. "I'm going to get you in the shower to warm you up and get you clean, is that alright?"
He wasn't really asking her, but she answered anyway, startling herself with her words, "Only if you will join me."
His eyes searched hers, finding them clear and decided, and he slowly leaned his head down to meet her lips with his own. As soon as they touched, it was like the earth shifted and their two broken souls merged together as one. There was no more Sam and no more Bella, there was only us.
He kissed her softly at first, then harder as she pressed against him. Her soft pink tongue reached out tentatively to taste his lips, and he quickly opened his mouth give her access to every part of him. Their tongues danced a prelude of what would soon come, and he only stopped long enough to start the shower and step inside, still holding her tight to his body.
She moved her legs and he reluctantly set her on her feet, moaning as her nearly-naked body slid against his firm erection. She glanced down almost in surprise, then shocked him further when she took him in her soft hand and squeezed with a feather-light touch.
A few flicks of his wrist had her bare before him as her undergarments drifted to the shower floor in pieces. He swallowed her startled gasp and lifted her up to wrap her legs around his waist. Fisting his hands in her hair, he remembered the purpose of the shower and quickly washed the remaining traces of his scent from her skin and scalp.
Breathing deeply to be sure she was clean, he turned the water off and wrapped her in a threadbare towel as he carried her into his room. He laid her gently on his bed with all the care of a fragile doll, and stood to admire her pale perfection.
She didn't hide her body from his hungry gaze, as she didn't avert her eyes from his strong muscles and smooth copper skin. Her tongue peeked out to trace her lips as her eyes fell eagerly on his engorged member jutting out proudly from his body.
He growled, deep in his chest, and stalked toward her on his hands and knees. She thought his warm caramel eyes took on a yellow tint, but didn't think any more of it as his hands took possession of her body, caressing her breasts and pinching her nipples, before venturing lower to tease her folds. Her moans and sighs spurred him on as he quickly became lost in a wolf-driven cloud of lust.
She felt incredibly tight to his calloused fingers and he looked at her in shocked pleasure when he realized she was still a virgin. He managed to ask her if she was sure before he carefully worked his way into her body until they were truly joined as one.
They both cried out in ecstasy at the feeling of completeness and absolute devotion that spread outward from where they were connected. He began to move slowly, in and out, until she was crying out for more. Acting purely on instinct, he pulled out and rolled her to her stomach in one fast motion, pulling her up to her knees as he entered her again from behind. He cradled her back against his chest and moved his mouth constantly kissing and licking from her shoulder to her neck as his hand rubbed circles on her clit.
The feeling of pleasure grew higher and higher until he came with a roar and bit down fiercely on her neck. As his teeth broke her skin, she screamed out in rapture and her memories came rushing back at once. He laid her down gently as her strength gave out, and waited for her breathing to settle before asking if she was ok.
"I'm fine," she gasped quietly, turning to look at him in awe. "I remember now. The Cullens, They kept me locked in my own mind, under their spell or something. Then Edward broke me. He took me in the woods and told me they were leaving me- that I was just a distraction, not good enough. I had to follow him, it was compulsion, I had no choice. No choice until you."
Her eyes filled with tears as she stared at her mate, "You won't leave me. You won't hurt me. You won't lie to me. You saved me, Sam. In all the ways I could be saved. Thank you."
He pulled her close and nuzzled her hair, whispering to her softly in Quileute. I love you, my life, my soul. You are my world.
They drifted off to sleep in each other's arms, content to shut out the world and leave the consequences to tomorrow. The only thing he knew was that she was his and he would never let her go.
They were married on Christmas Eve, despite the protests of most everyone they knew. It wasn't too soon, or too fast, and they weren't rushing into anything. The pack understood, of course, and Bella's new best friends, Kim and Emily, stood proudly at her side.
Charlie gave her away with a tear in his eye and a warning look for Sam. It was completely unnecessary; there was nothing that would make Sam harm his girl, his beautiful mate. She was his imprint, his life, his entire world.
The wolves howled in celebration as they were pronounced man and wife, while the local gossips shook their heads and twittered behind gloved hands. They may not have had support, but they had each other, and that was all they needed. The rest of the world couldn't touch them.
It had been six months since the Cullens left the sleepy town of Forks. Rosalie and Jasper were the only vampires not pouting at the loss of the family pet. Alice had been unable to see her since Edward left her in the woods, and it was assumed by all that she was dead.
Rose thought it was disgusting the way Edward had toyed with the human girl. He kept her under his hunter's thrall, and she was powerless to act against his or Alice's wishes. The rest of the family didn't see it, they thought Edward and Bella were truly in love, but Rose's twin was under no such delusions.
Claiming to need a long hunting trip, the blonde vampires slipped away from the family home in Vermont and ran as fast as they could to the rainy Washington town. They wanted to be sure that their family would not come under suspicion for exposing the secret and leaving a human alone in their world. Rose was hoping the girl had been able to break free from Edward's spell and was moving toward a happy human life. Neither expected to find what they saw in Charlie Swan's backyard.
Staying upwind from the house, they watched a radiantly happy Bella carry a load of Charlie's clothes from the laundry room at the back of the house to the clothesline near the forest's edge. Her face was fuller and flushed with a rosy glow, and she hummed quietly as she hung her father's flannel shirts and worn jeans, moving with the practiced ease of a familiar routine.
As she bent to get the next shirt, a movement in the woods caught the vampires' attention, and they were shocked to see a huge black wolf stalking toward the girl. Rosalie made to move, but Jasper stopped her with a firm hand. "He loves her," Jasper breathed quietly in his sister's ear.
The memory of the original La Push wolves came rushing back to Rose when the black wolf shimmered into the form of a man and slipped on his shorts as he hurried to his wife. "Let me help you, baby girl. You need to be resting some now, you know."
Bella leaned back in his arms as he swiftly hung the rest of the clothes and tossed the basket carelessly to the side. He dipped his head and nipped at the mark on her neck, bringing a rush of arousal that Jasper could both feel and smell clearly.
Rose's attention was glued to Sam's massive hands that drifted down to cradle the obviously rounded swell of Bella's small, but growing, belly. Had they really only been gone for six months? She had to be at least that far along!
She turned in his arms and leaned up for a kiss, one he gave freely and enthusiastically without a second thought. She laughed when he lifted her up to wrap her legs around his waist and protested that the baby was in the way. He laid his hand on their child and shook his head, "Never. He's never in the way. He is right where he belongs, just like you and me."
Her beaming smile warmed the two cold, dead hearts perched in a tree just out of sight. As Sam carried his bride through her father's house and out to her truck to head home, he glanced at the Cullens and gave a warning growl. No words were needed- his intentions were perfectly clear.
They would return home with the news that Bella had died the day they left, and it wouldn't even be a lie. The Bella they knew was gone, and a healthier, stronger woman had taken her place. There were always monsters in the woods, one who left her there and one who found her, but she was getting her fairy tale ending after all.