Chapter 1

Loner

The pack ate noisily, talking about this and that at their lunch table. Jacob was quieter than the others, his head completely absorbed in Bella Swan, as usual.

The members at the school lunch table consisted of Jared, his imprint Kim, and Paul on one side, and Jacob and Embry sitting across from them. Quil had phased a couple days ago, but he was staying at Emily's learning to control his emotions.

"Jacob. Jake? Hey, Jake." a fry hit his forehead, making him look up.

"What?" he asked, looking across the table where Kim was sitting next to Jared, their chairs pressed together with his arm around her.

"I said, isn't that your sister over there?" Kim repeated, pointing to a table only a few tables from them. Jake looked over his shoulder to see. At the table sat a familiar, young girl. Her slightly wavy, black hair went down to the middle of her back, she was wearing faded blue jeans and a blue jacket over a black tank top. Kori Black was sitting at one of the round tables all by herself.

Jake blinked before narrowing his eyes slightly.

"Yeah, it is." he answered, not sure why she was by herself.

"Why's she sitting alone?" Embry asked, having looked over his shoulder to see also.

"Maybe she doesn't have any friends." Paul suggested, stuffing a handful of fries in his mouth. Everyone at the table glared at him.

"Dude." Embry muttered, shaking his head as he couldn't believe the temperamental wolf had actually said that.

"What? Why else would she be sitting by herself? Obviously, no one wants to sit with her." Paul pointed out, defending himself.

"Maybe we could invite her to sit with us. We have enough room." Kim suggested, gesturing with her hand at the long, rectangular table they sat at every day, which had twelve seats.

"Uh, no." Paul answered, "She's not a member of the pack, therefore, she doesn't deserve to sit here."

"I'm not a member of the pack either." Kim pointed out, her quiet voice only a bit louder than usual. Jared tightened his grip on her, feeling that she was slightly hurt.

"That's different. You're an imprint. Kori's just Baby Alpha's annoying little freshman sister." Paul answered, nodding his head towards Jacob, earning a growl from the rightful Alpha.

"I agree with Kim. I think we should invite Kori to sit with us." Jared added his view.

Paul rolled his eyes. "She's just a-"

"Guys, check it out.' Embry interrupted, nodding towards Kori's table. The whole pack turned around to see Seth Clearwater approaching Kori. Thanks to their super hearing, the pack was able to listen.

"Hey, Seth. What's up?" Kori asked as she put her hamburger down.

"I was about to ask you the same thing." Seth answered teasingly. "Why are you sitting by yourself?"

Kori was silent as she looked at the table for a moment. "I'm not."

Seth tilted his head slightly. "Really?" he asked, not believing her, "Cause your table sure looks empty."

"Yeah, well…um…my friends are just…really slow getting their lunch. Their still in the lunch line." Kori explained.

Seth didn't look like he believed her. "Well…do you want me to sit with you until they get here? You know, to keep you company?"

Kori shook her head and smiled up at him. "No, that's fine, Seth. I know your friends are probably waiting for you." she answered, looking over at a table nearby where several guys were sitting, a few of them watching Seth and Kori.

"Yeah, but they have other people to sit with. I could just sit here until your friends get here. The guys won't mind."

"Seth, really, I'm fine. I can last a few minutes by myself. I promise." Kori reassured him, not looking him in the eye, instead studying her tray.

The pack watched, curious about what Seth would do or say next. Finally, he let out a long sigh.

"Alright. If you're really sure." Kori nodded. "Well, I'll see you after school."

"Yeah, see ya." Kori answered with a smile as Seth headed to his friends.

"Right, that settles it." Embry said. "Kori!"

Kori tensed slightly, showing she heard her name, but she went back to eating.

"Well, that's rude." Paul retorted sarcastically as he ate his pizza.

"Kori!" Jared called.

Kori looked around the cafeteria before looking over her shoulder at the pack. Jared waved her over while Embry patted the empty seat on his opposite side from where Jake was sitting. Kori looked at them for a moment, glanced around the room and noticed several people watching her, and shook her head before turning back around.

"Ooh, denied." Paul chuckled as he ate one of his cookies.

"Shut up." Jared groaned, getting annoyed at his best friend's antics.

"Kori Black!" Embry shouted a bit louder.

Kori lightly slammed her hands down on her lunch tray before turning around again, her face showing she was annoyed as well as embarrassed. Embry waved her over. She looked around a bit before getting up and slowly making her way towards them, her arms crossed over her chest.

"What?" she asked quietly, looking down at Embry. Even though he was sitting down and she was standing, he wasn't that much shorter than her.

"You wanna sit here with us?" he offered.

Kori blinked in surprise. She hesitated for a moment, glancing around the cafeteria as dozens were watching her.

"Um…why?" she asked nervously.

"Cause you look pathetic sitting by yourself." Paul announced before stuffing another bite of hamburger in his mouth, eating nearly half of it in one bite. Jared punched him in the arm.

Kori glared slightly at him, but it was weak.

"I'm not eating by myself." she grumbled quietly, knowing the pack could hear her anyway.

Paul rolled his eyes. "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't know you had imaginary friends."

"Paul, shut up." Embry growled.

"Ignore him, Kori, everyone else does." Kim smiled reassuringly up at the young teenager. "You're more than welcome to sit with us, though. If you want to."

Kori looked down at her feet, uncomfortable with all the attention.

"Um…look, Kim, I…appreciate the offer, but…my friends are still going through the lunch line. They'll be out soon, really. But, um… thank you for offering."

"Okay, if you're sure." Kim answered uncertainly.

Kori bit her bottom lip and nodded before turning and hurrying back to her table.

Paul snorted. "You know, Black, your sister's a little liar."

But Jake didn't hear him, his thoughts once again filled with Bella Swan.

XXX

After finishing her lunch, Kori hurriedly left her still-empty lunch table and put her tray above the trash can where it was supposed to go. She hoped the pack didn't notice none of her 'friends' had come to the table to eat. They probably didn't. If any of them did, it would most likely be Kim. Kori didn't really mind Kim, of anyone in the school she could easily see herself being friends with Kim. There were just a couple problems.

For one, Kim was an 11th grader while Kori was in 9th grade. Another thing was she was an imprint. Her and Jared were inseparable, they told each other everything. And then there was wolf telepathy. Kori really didn't need the whole pack knowing all about her.

What Kori was saying was, no, she had no friends at school. Well, except Seth. Seth was her best friend. Had been since they were in diapers pretty much. But he had his own group of friends at school, and she didn't want to drag him into her problems.

She would've told Jake everything, if he'd asked. But he'd been so wrapped up in Bella Swan that he didn't even give her a second glance anymore. They used to be really close. He would take one look at her face and know something was wrong. He was the best older brother she could ever want, but that all changed when Bella started hanging around with him.

So when Kori finished eating she went to the bathroom. It was like clockwork. She always had to use the bathroom after she ate lunch. And today was no different.

As Kori was washing her hands the door swung open. A quick glance made Kori mentally flinch. One of the downsides to using the restroom at the same time and place every day.

"Hi, Kori." Liz greeted in a sarcastic tone.

Kori kept her head down and tried to walk around them and out the door. But Diane and Beth stepped in front of her, Beth shoving her back a few steps.

Liz, Diane, and Beth were three girls in her grade who enjoyed making her life a living hell.

"Leaving so soon?" Diane asked teasingly.

"I have to go to my next class." Kori answered, forcing her voice to stay strong and looking at the spot between Liz's eyes. She was too much of a coward most days to actually make eye contact with anyone.

"Really? Well, lucky for us we still have a few minutes before the dismissal bell rings." Liz pointed out cockily. Kori tried to think of an excuse to get out of there, but before she could Diane's fist slammed into her stomach, knocking the air out of her.

Kori gritted her teeth against the pain and hunch over, her hands clutching her stomach. Two hands shoved her against the brick wall by her shoulders.

Beth slapped Kori across the cheek, making her head snap to the side and her cheek burn from the blow. At that moment the bell rang, dismissing the students from lunch.

"Aw, saved by the bell, huh Kori?" Liz teased before the trio turned and left the bathroom.

Kori swallowed the lump in her throat before slouching back against the brick wall. She caressed her stinging cheek with her cool hand, trying to make the burning sensation go away. She stepped forward to look in the bathroom mirror.

Her cheek was tinted red, a faint hand-shape was barely visible. Kori gently rubbed cool water on her face and patted her other cheek in an attempt to make them look the same color.

Then, she hurried out of the bathroom to her next class. She was just glad it was Friday.

XXX

At the end of the day Kori pulled her backpack strap on her shoulder and closed her locker door. Before she could walk away a strong shoulder crashed into hers, making her slam backward into her locker door.

She looked over to see a group of guys walking away. The one who ran into her looked over his shoulder at her. It was Jackson. Jackson looked like any other Quileute teenage boy, with short black hair and tanned skin. He smirked cruelly at her, a taunting glint in his almost-black eyes. Kori glared at him until he turned back around. When he wasn't looking she rubbed her shoulder, which hurt a bit after being slammed against her locker.

Kori took a deep breath and headed to the front door of the school. When she walked out the large front doors she paused at the top of the front, cement steps.

In the parking lot she could see the pack gathered around Paul's Jeep, Jacob's rabbit parked only a few spots away.

'Okay, just keep your head down and head straight for Jake's car. The others won't even notice you,' she thought to herself, taking a deep breath. She took the first step down the stairs.

"Kori!"

She stopped and turned around, seeing Seth hurrying towards her.

"Hey Seth." she greeted with a smile.

"Hey fibber." he greeted back with a small smile.

Kori tilted her head slightly at the nickname. "What's that supposed to mean?"

Seth crossed his arms. "Your friends never showed up at lunch. You ate all by yourself."

Kori looked at the ground, hooking her thumbs on her backpack straps. "Oh! Um…yeah well, they actually couldn't make it to lunch today…because…they got detentions and had to eat in the classroom. They didn't get to tell me until later."

Kori glanced up at Seth. He was looking down at her, only being a couple inches taller than her, with narrowed eyes. He didn't know if he should believe her, she couldn't blame him. They told each other everything, and they'd never lied to each other about anything. They could always tell when the other was lying.

"Well, um, I gotta get going. See you later, Seth." Kori smiled at him before turning to walk down the steps.

"Wait." Kori stopped and looked over her shoulder at him again. "Are you doing anything tomorrow?" he asked curiously, stepping down to the same step as her.

"No. Why?" Kori asked curiously.

"Well, me, dad, and Billy are going fishing tomorrow. I was wondering if you wanted to come."

"I don't know." Kori shrugged, "I wouldn't want to intrude on your 'guys fishing trip'."

"You wouldn't be." Seth argued. "Billy's always talking about how much he misses his kids fishing with him. He'd love it. Please?" he begged, bringing out the puppy eyes.

Kori rolled her eyes with a grin. "Not fair. You know I can't resist the puppy eyes. Okay, fine. I'll go."

Seth grinned, showing his white teeth. "Great. So, my place around 9:00 tomorrow morning?"

Kori nodded. "Yep. Sounds good."

Some shouting made them look towards the parking lot. Jared was giving Embry a noogie. Kori rolled her eyes, not believing she was really older than them.

"Hey, Kori?" Seth asked uncertainly. Kori looked at him, showing she was listening. "Do you know what's going on with them?" he asked.

"What do you mean?" Kori asked nervously.

"You know what I mean. Everyone says they're on steroids, but I can't see Jake or even Embry doing drugs."

Kori looked at her feet for a moment. She could see out of the corner of her eye that the pack had stopped messing around and were watching her, waiting to see what she would say. She couldn't lie to Seth, he was her best friend, but it wasn't her secret to tell.

"I…I can't tell you, Seth. It's not my place to say. I'm sorry." she looked up at him, her eyes pleading with him to understand.

Seth smiled reassuringly at her. "It's fine. I get it. Sorry for asking, it's none of my business."

"Thanks Seth. See you tomorrow."

"Yeah, bye."

They walked down the steps, going their separate ways at the bottom, Seth heading towards where Leah was waiting by her car while Kori headed towards Jake's rabbit. She kept her head down as she passed the pack. Out of the corner of her eye she saw only Kim and Paul were still watching her. Well, Paul was more glaring at her, like usual. He hated her, she knew that.

Kori walked around and hid most her body behind the rabbit, waiting by the front passenger door for Jake to unlock it.

She faintly heard, "Alright, I'll see you guys later."

Several other voices shouted bye as Jake headed toward his car. Kori climbed in as soon as he unlocked it.

The drive was quiet for a few moments as Jake backed out of the parking lot.

"So, what'd you and Seth talk about?" he asked curiously.

Kori snorted. "Like you weren't listening to the whole thing anyway."

Jake sighed. "Alright, whatever. So you're going fishing tomorrow?"

"Got a problem with that?" she asked.

"I'm just trying to make conversation here, jeez. Calm down, Kor. Did you have a bad day or something?" he asked in an annoyed tone. Kor was a nickname Quil had given her a long time ago that caught on with a few other people, mostly Jake and Embry.

Kori shrugged, looking out the window. "No."

She didn't really have a bad day. Sure, most people would consider it bad, but compared to most days in Kori Black's life it wasn't that bad.

Jake seemed to give up trying to talk to her, so the rest of the drive was quiet. Finally, they pulled up and parked in their driveway.

As they got out a sharp, short howl ripped through the air, causing a shiver to run up Kori's spine. She'd never admit it to the pack, they had big enough egos as it is, but wolves were her favorite animals. And their howls had a tendency to comfort her.

"Crap." Jake muttered, slamming his door shut.

"What's up?" Kori asked.

"Leech." he growled. He started walking towards the woods backwards. "Hey Kor, could you-"

"I'll tell dad you might be late for dinner." she answered with a roll of her eyes.

"Thanks!" he shouted as he pulled his T-shirt over his head, tossing it on the ground as he raced into the woods.

Kori rolled her eyes again as she walked into the backyard and picked up his T-shirt before going inside and tossing it in the hamper.

XXX

Later that night Kori's eyes snapped open. She looked around her dark room, not knowing what had woken her up. She looked over at the small alarm clock on her bedside table. It was 10:34 at night.

A long, mournful howl snapped Kori's attention to the window beside her bed. She crawled out from under her blankets to the edge of her bed, crawling over the footboard until her bare feet touched the cool wooden floor. She crossed her arms to try chasing away the chill as she looked out her window, seeing if she could spot who howled. She didn't know the pack well enough to know who was who in wolf form. Not that she really cared to, but something about that howl stirred something in the pit of her stomach. She wasn't sure what it was, or if she liked it.

She spotted a couple shapes racing through the trees at the edge of the forest, and she could tell it was someone from the pack, but she still didn't know who it was.

Deciding to give up, Kori climbed back in bed. But it took a couple hours for her to fall back asleep.

XXX

This is the first chapter of my new fanfic You Don't Have to be Alone. I hope you all like it so far, reviews are very much appreciated. Let me know what you think. Thanks!