A/N: Disclaimer: All rights to Twilight, the accompanying characters, plot lines, etc. belong to Stephanie Meyer. This is a new one I've been poking at for a while with a Mercedes Thompson kind of Bella. Your comments, reviews, and or questions are always welcome. Bella/Leah, with very little fap material. I'm trying to keep this one PG-13.
March 5, 2005, Saturday
I had just pulled the garage door down when I heard the familiar running gate of my little brother approaching from the back of the shop. He's not in the best of shape, but that wouldn't last for very long with the Cullens still in town.
"Bella!" he yelled as I heard the door bang onto the side of the building.
I really had to put a lock on that thing. It wasn't so much that I thought I'd be robbed. That happened once. Only once. The white people have pretty much kept to themselves ever since. Once I tracked the thief down, I beat the crap out of him, strung him up by his ankles onto a light pole eight feet above the street, and duct taped a massage to his hairy privates.
Thieves are not tolerated on the Rez.
"I'm in the garage!" I yelled back as I moved over to the workbench to clean and hang my tools for the day.
I'm not by any means rich, but I've earn enough to buy my own tools, and put down monthly payments on the garage I'm leasing to own. It's one of the perks of being a Quileute I suppose. With only a little less than four hundred tribe members left in our little nation we tend to support each other as best as we can. Nobody is rich here.
Jake dodged the '71 Camaro I was working on for most of the afternoon and came to a sliding stop beside the workbench where I was wiping down a few sockets.
"There is some serious shit going on," he said while trying to catch his breath.
"Language. If dad hears you cussing again…"
"Whatever," he said blowing the reprimand off. "Dad told me to make sure you get this."
He tossed a folded newspaper on the bench to the side of where I was working. Ripper Slays Tourists, the headline read for the Portland Tribune. I frowned at the article. It started in Big Ben down in California and began working its way up the coast, vicious murders in every semi-major city every other day for the last two weeks.
Mustering up the best boredom face I could manage I looked at him. "And this concerns me how?"
He shrugged. "Looks like the Ripper is heading our way."
I shook my head. "He or she only hits bigger cities, Jake. I think we're cool for now."
When I reached for the can of Varsol to get the tough grease out of the nooks of my ratchet I caught my brother taking an opportune glance down my top. I don't wear a whole lot in the shop other than jeans, work boots, and a tank.
"Could you not perv on my boobs, please."
Jake went as white as a Quileute could be for about half a second before pulling it back together. "Dude, I do not perv on you. That's just… ugh!"
"Please don't call me dude. Do I look like a dude?"
That was the main problem. Ever since I sprouted a mystical puberty I was every teen boy's wet dream. It really wasn't his fault. I blame his hormones the most. It wasn't like he was making passes at me or anything; still it was kind of creepy to have your brother checking you out.
He eyed me for a second and then looked around the shop. "Well, you are a mechanic."
I punched him on the upper arm a little bit harder than I meant and he flinched, grabbing at his shoulder. "Ow! What the hell, Bella?"
"Don't be a misogynistic asshole like Lahote, Jake. I swear I will beat you to death if you start that shit, brother or no brother."
He pressed his lips together to stop himself from saying anything and then took a couple steps back to increase the distance between us.
"I need to get home. Dad's probably making Hamburger Helper again."
"See you later, little brother."
I felt kind of bad for running him off like that. There was once a time that I wasn't a hard-ass. It was about nine months ago when I was seventeen and carefree. Dad scraped up enough money to let me attend a mechanic's camp near Port Angeles. It was just for six weeks, but we got to put together a '65 Mustang from scratch. We did other summer camp stuff, but most of our time was spent in a dream shop with all the latest and greatest equipment. It was at the end of camp that I met my first vampire.
At first I thought I was experiencing the growth spurt from hell. I shot up five inches in two weeks and put on about twenty pounds of lean muscle. The guys there thought I was teasing them wearing all the tight clothes. They were just too stupid to realize they were simply too small.
A kid went missing. His body was found a few days later with his neck torn apart and half-buried in the ground under a bunch of leaves. The next day I was burning up and pissed at the guys for finishing the transmission on the Mustang without me. I ran off in the woods to sulk and bumped into mister pale and stinky. The next thing I knew I'd exploded out of my clothes, ripped his head off, and promptly freaked out. I think I turned into a gigantic dog somewhere in there somewhere, but I wasn't quite sure. It's not like there are mirrors out in the wilderness.
By the way, he tasted awful.
When I figured out how to turn back into a human I freaked out again, snuck back into camp, clothed myself and called my dad to come pick me up. I got a tribal elder instead, Harry Clearwater.
He was the one that taught me that I had to burn the things after I ripped them apart. He was also the one that encouraged Pete Wilde to give me a chance with the shop. The elders set me up in a decent two room pre-furnished house and stocked it with food, which I promptly ate.
They convened a special Council meeting and I found out Dad knew all this crap was real; vampires, werewolves, the whole lot of them. It was cloaked under different names of course. Protectors and Cold Ones; whatever.
Once the tools were clean and hung I left out the back door and headed over to The Clearwater's shop. It was two streets over and things were already coming to a dead stop. That's the way it is on small towns. The smaller they are the earlier the shops close. There's just no need to keep them open.
He was waiting for me and so was the Forks police. I scowled when I saw Charlie Swan's patrol car.
Nineteen years ago, give or take a few months, he participated in a Quileute spirit quest on the insistence from my dad. My mom was there, since she was the local Medicine Woman. Long story short? They both got stoned on peyote and had sex. Ten months later, poof, a bouncing baby girl came along named Bella. They knew I wasn't Dad's since he had to go out of town on some stupid retreat for three weeks.
The whole suck part about this thing is that Dad wasn't upset, Mom wasn't upset, and Charlie has been upset ever since. It made me wonder what the parents had been smoking at the time. When I found out about it Mom treated the whole thing like it was a message from the Spirits, or Coyote playing a trick. Dad was just as forgiving and nonchalant saying these things happened. That was kind of true. Embry Call was born the same way, and to this day doesn't know who his real dad is, but my money is on Harry, the pervert.
Me? I was the half white girl that was the result of making ties with the local law for some unknown reason. At least it was unknown until nine months ago when I turned into a big dog on a daily basis.
"Harry!" I yelled when I unlocked the front door of the tattoo parlor with a key he gave me not too long ago, basically when he started inking my skin.
He originally told me it was tradition to mark the Protectors of the tribe with a symbol chosen by the Alpha of the Pack. With me being the only wolf on the Rez guess who got to choose the symbol? It just snowballed from there.
Whenever Harry does his work, he floods the place with cedar incense, and chants in Quileute. I find the whole process rather soothing even when I'm getting jabbed with a needle. One of the drawbacks of becoming a Protector is that I'm constantly on edge. There is an ingrained paranoia in our DNA to be continuously on the lookout for danger and to head it off before it threatens the tribe. These times with Harry are the Quileute version of therapy so I don't lose my cool. Needless to say I've got a lot of ink.
Just below my navel is the paw print of my wolf. It's smaller of course, but it's uniquely mine. My arms were next, histories of the battles I've fought protecting my tribe from vampires. My entire left arm is covered in a full sleeve; five vampires in all. They aren't on there, but representations of them are there; demons mostly. I refused to be marked with their pale faces. Fire, flame, red-faced fanged things writhing from the trees, the ocean, the sand… everyone tells a different story from a portion of my life.
It's been quiet for the last few months since the Cullens have taken up some of the slack of diverting their brethren away from Forks and La Push. That meant I could slow the sessions down, but not entirely. Since that was the case I chose my own art, something that would take a while to complete, months really since I only came once a week.
"We're in back," he answered.
Cedar was already drifting in the front of the shop and I took a full measure of it into my lungs and blew a relaxing breath out before disappearing behind the privacy curtains to Harry's workspace. Charlie was there in full Forks Chief of Police uniform looking decidedly uncomfortable.
He was really uncomfortable when I showed up out of nowhere demanding child support at fourteen years old. Hey, I'm not that proud. Dad has a hard enough time raising four kids on his own since Mom died. He was too proud to take Charlie's money. I wasn't. I'll give the man credit though. He's been putting it away in a saving's account with my name on it since I was born. It kind of made me hate him a little less at the time.
"Charlie," I said as I entered.
He gave me a nervous nod. "Bella."
Flipping the newspaper around I made sure he saw the headline. "This why you're here?"
I tossed it on a semi-cleared table and dropped my backpack to the floor. Harry was already sitting beside the tattoo chair ready for me, so I slid my hands under my tank and pulled it off without a second thought.
Charlie slammed his eyes closed and turned away while his best friend chuckled. "Jesus, Bella."
"Sit down, girl. You'll scare the pale-faces away showing those canons off."
When I straddled the chair and leaned forward to set my face on the provided padding I took in another breath of the cedar incense.
"You're safe, Charlie," Harry said as he proceeded to cleanse my back before working.
"I just wanted to make sure you knew about what's going on," Charlie said. "They're obviously coming up interstate five. State Police up and down the line are making random stops."
"They're not going to find anything," I mumbled.
"I know that's why I'm here. They're asking for help from all the locals. I was wondering if you wanted to come down to Longview and… um, sniff around. That's the next city in their path."
I chuckled and then heard the telltale buzzing of Harry's tattoo gun. "I'm not a police dog, Charlie. Besides there are going to be hundreds of trigger happy cops in the area. No thanks. If it comes this way then I'll deal with it."
The familiar burning/cat scratchy feeling had begun on my spine in the middle of my back. It was Harry's way of punishing me for making Charlie uncomfortable. Getting inked on the spine hurts like hell, but it was my choice to get it done.
"The FBI is already involved with this ever since he moved out of California. Do you really want them in your business and asking questions if that thing comes up here and suddenly disappears?"
Regular police couldn't touch us on our own land, but the Feds could. He knew that. There was a time I would have snarled at him for bringing the subject up, but I knew this was just him doing his part in protecting me. It was annoying as hell.
I sighed in resignation. "I need to call Pete and see if he can cover the shop for me. Can you get your feds to back off from the areas I'm searching?"
"Maybe. You need to have a good enough story though."
Harry chuckled. "Pale-faces have been using the red man to hunt down their prey for centuries, Charlie. Tell them she's an expert tracker or some stupid thing. White people eat that stuff up."
"I'll Indian up for them so they'll think I'm serious. Harry, you still have that war paint?"
Charlie scoffed. "What do you need me to do?"
Taking a few moments to think I settled on a plan. "I need a fairly detailed map of the area going out a hundred miles on either side of the interstate, and the crime scene of the latest victim. That's it… well, I'll need the area cleared too. Too many people around screws up the scent trail, not to mention spooks the prey."
"I can do the first two, and I'll see what I can do about the third."
I had enough time to shower and change clothes into something a little more rugged. I doubted I'd have a chance to phase considering the amount of law enforcement in the area. That meant I'd be on foot and moving fast. That also meant I'd be wearing camo pants, military grade jungle boots and a tank top. They were the only really made to withstand the punishment I'd give in hardcore hiking. Regular boots and jeans tend to shred themselves on the underbrush and terrain in a couple of hours. I didn't want to have to explain that to the Feds, I'd have enough trouble explaining how I moved so fast while they're lumbering behind me at a snail's pace.
The rest of the time that evening was spent with me sleeping and Charlie driving to Portland where we were meeting a junior Fed that was supposed to show me the crime scene. For the duration of the trip I was an honest to goodness Forks special detective with a badge and everything. I waved the use of a pistol since they were next to useless against vampires without very special military grade ammunition that you just can't pick up at the local Wal-Mart. Depleted uranium shells held promise, but it's difficult to get a vampire to hold still long enough to test the suckers out. Then there is the whole having to explain carrying around one of those gigantic helicopter mounted Gatling guns to handle the size of the 125 millimeter shells. I much prefer my claws anyway.
I'm kind of hoping for a M82A1 SASR from Charlie for my birthday this year – he's got a friend of a friend. It's an anti-material sniper rifle that's used to take down things like armored vehicles. I'm sure the Cullens wouldn't mind me testing it on them, well, maybe Emmett wouldn't. He's freaking crazy like that.
The next morning and four sausage, egg, and cheese biscuits later we were driving up on a campground that was still roped off and being tracked all over by various uniformed individuals. I sighed. It's really not that bad. Vampire scent is over and above some of the worst things a werewolf can smell. I can compare it to walking into a Burger King and being assaulted by the smell of burgers, fries, and burning grease. It's strong and very noticeable, but add a fresh pile of road kill that has been baking on the asphalt all day and then dipped into corn syrup and suddenly the smell of fries and burgers is muted.
We were stopped and our names were taken before we found a place to park. The junior Fed was even nice enough to meet us at the car. He was maybe in his mid-twenties and dressed in a standard off-the-rack dark blue suit, tie, and shiny shoes that looked really out of place for the situation.
"Special Agent Dean Levoi," he said while shaking Charlie's hand.
I stuffed my hands in the olive colored denim jacket and checked him out. He was a little taller than me, cute, if you were into the whole clean cut city looking kind of guy, with close cropped sandy hair. I wasn't.
"Charlie Swan and this is Detective Bella Black." He motioned toward me. "She helps me out with missing hikers and cases that take me into the deep woods."
The guy smiled at me, measuring me up. "You're Quileute?"
Giving him a nod in return, I commented. "You're observant. Not a lot of people can narrow down a specific tribe like that."
"My mother was full blooded Nez Perce."
"Ah." I looked around, not really interested in hearing a white guy expound on his non-existent Indian heritage.
They're mostly poseurs. Unless you've actually grown up in or around an actual tribe of American Indians then you really need to keep your family tree to yourself. We don't really care if you're 1/32 Apache, especially if you're flaunting your white heritage over your red, and this guy was so white it made my teeth ache.
The scent of day old road kill was still fresh in the air as I looked up at the sky. Rain was coming within a couple of hours and with it the trail was going to go sour if I didn't move.
"It's going to rain soon, Charlie."
He nodded. "Dean, can she do her thing or are you still processing?"
Special Agent Dean gave me the nod. "Go right ahead, Detective."
I moved to the south and once I was into the trees deep enough I sped around until I found the trail, then I ran parallel until I made the camp again on the other side of the scene. There was one thing I didn't like though.
Special Agent Dean spun around and looked oddly at me. "How'd she make it around there so quickly?"
"The woods are her element, Dean."
They circled the scene and met me on the other side.
"They came from that direction."
"They?" Dean asked incredulously. "How did you know there is more than one? We haven't released that information."
I smirked at him. "Actually, it's three. They stopped here for a snack and moved north northwest. I need to track them."
"Three? We only have evidence of two."
With a nod I pointed at a tree about seven feet away. "That's because the third one was leaning up against that tree watching his buddies."
Making it all look like ancient Indian tracking skills was the easy part. When Dean went over to check out the veracity of my claims I lowered my voice to Charlie.
"One, no problem. Three might pose a big problem."
"What do you want to do?"
I glanced over to the Fed and then looked back. "Against my better judgment I think you need to call the Cullens and get them involved. This is their kind exposing themselves. They have laws, or so I'm told. Killing this many people in so high a profile breaks them."
"Fair enough. Where do you want them?"
Digging into my pocket I pulled out the terrain map and pointed along dense forest area. "They're moving in this direction. I'm wolfing out and following to see if I can narrow it down. Tell them to come down this way and I'll call ahead to Jasper. He'll be the most useful in this situation, and whoever he wants to bring with him. They need to move now because I don't know if they'll go east or west when they hit Olympia."
He nodded discreetly. "Be careful, Bella."
"Just keep the cops east of five and I'll be fine. I really don't feel like getting shot today."
Running back to the car I grabbed my pack and headed out into the woods.
"Where's she going?" Dean said. "How did she know to look there? There's barely a footprint."
Charlie smiled at him. "This is what she does, Dean. Just be glad she's on our side."
Once I was far enough away I started stripping and stuffing my clothes into the pack, but I kept a close ear out for Special Agent Dean.
"She said it looked as if they were heading east northeast along the interstate. I'd concentrate your dogs and men there."
"Where is she headed?" Dean asked as I attached the bungee cord around my waist.
"Detective Black is tracking them from this end and will notify us if the trail changes."
Dean sounded doubtful. "The trail is at least a day old."
I heard Charlie chuckle as I phased and started to take off running. "Bella is the best at what she does."
In the forest nothing can beat the dexterity, speed, and senses of a werewolf in full sprint. Even then I was still a day behind them. I could only hope that they'd take a break and maybe play some vampire Parcheesi or something. Just outside of Centrailia I had to come to a stop and called in another dead body to Charlie.
"He's a hiker. This one is torn to shreds, Charlie. It's really messy."
His voice dropped down to a low whisper, but I could hear it well enough. "Do we cover this one up?"
I glanced around the area and frowned. "It's only an hour old tops. They're in the area. Tell, Special Agent Dean where I am and I've borrowed a motorcycle or something to get this far so quickly. We need to corral these things or they're going to be Olympia when the storm hits. After that I'm going to lose them."
"Understood. Wait for the Cullens, Bella."
"I gotta go, Charlie."
I thumbed off the call and brought up Jasper's number directly after. I didn't trust them too far off their own properly. Even weekly visits to make sure they are staying on an animal blood diet gave me little piece of mind, I didn't like dealing directly with them for long periods of time. Frankly they just gave me the creeps.
"Jasper, I'm about three miles west of Centrailia. They were here killing someone else no more than an hour ago, and they're headed northwest."
"Schafer State Park," he said. "That's where Alice said we'll find them. She said we'd encounter them first. Follow the noise when you get there."
I glanced at the map and nodded. "I'm about fifteen minutes out, so it'll be soon. See you at the party."
One last call to Charlie warning him away from the park and I was phased and running at top speed again. I hoped there was a big lunch at the end of the road, because those biscuits were long gone with this much activity.
A high pitched screech let me know I was less than a mile away when I let loose with a howl as I leaped across the highway hoping that I was a blur to anyone that was looking. The strong scent and the sound of battle directed me a little ease when I heard the telltale sound of a speeding vampire headed my way. I didn't even break stride when I saw a flash of red hair, and a pale face painted with fear. Two more bounds and I leaped into the air catching the redhead's leg in my mouth and clamping down before Emmett had a chance to steal my prey.
She screamed and I ripped it off at the knee.
"Damn!" Emmett yelled. "Two more seconds and I would have had her!"
I dropped the leg and tore my claws into her back before the redhead had a chance to turn over. Her head came off a second later and rolled to the side.
Emmett back away when I growled at him.
"Good doggie. We're here to help, remember?"
Glancing to the right I looked back at him.
"We already got the other two. I'll just take these pieces and burn them alright?"
I was too pissed. That's the problem with hunting prey. All my senses were on high alert and my wolf still smelled vampire in the air, ally or no. At my second growl Emmett raised his hands and backed away.
"Fine, burn her yourself. We'll be back here when you're done."
He blurred away and I turned back to the head that was still not dead, looking at me with glazed eyes and a gaping mouth, screaming in silence for the death I brought with me.
The sound and smell of Jasper popped up on my right as I sat there crouched, watching the last of the redhead burn in an oily purple fire.
"Miss Black. Are we good?"
I nodded without looking. "Thanks for your assistance."
"Not at all. We'll notify our authorities the problem has been dealt with. There shouldn't be any reprisals this time, ma'am."
A grunt left my throat before I stood and pulled out my clothes from my pack. Emmett was in the background leering away at me while Jasper turned to the side averting his gaze.
"The FBI was involved," I commented. "A lot of eyes are going to be on this area. I can steer them a little east of here, but not by much. They left a trail anyone could follow. It'll lead right here."
A crack of thunder interrupted our discussion and the rain began to fall, easy at first.
"Understood. Have a pleasant morning, Miss Black."
I nodded. "You too, Jasper."
Once I was dressed I started making my way back to twelve while I called Charlie.
"Are you okay?" was the first thing he asked. Like I said Charlie is an okay guy beyond boning a married woman so many years ago.
"I'm fine. It's over. Jasper and Emmett are cleaning up the mess. Tell them I lost the trail in Capitol State Forest. It's raining. That should keep them busy enough for the evidence to wash away."
"Where do you want me to pick you up?"
"There's a Subway off of Main Street and 107. Meet me there; I'm starving."
An hour later Charlie pulled up in front of the Subway. I'd already finished off my third meatball sub foot long and the two ladies behind the counter were giving me weird looks as I unwrapped the fourth. When Special Agent Dean pulled up alongside him I frowned and slurped at the last of my Coke.
Wadding up my extra wrappers I tossed them in the trash and filled my drink back up before returning to the booth. Charlie and I were already on the same frequency when he entered the restaurant and nonchalantly ordered himself a roast beef like he'd been doing this every day for all of his life. Special Agent Dean was a tad edgier as he kept looking at me, still wet from the rain I ran through to get there.
"So, you lost them?" Dean sat down across from me and gave me the doubtful eye.
"It's raining. Trail goes cold in the rain. Don't Nez Perce do any tracking? That's pretty much elementary school stuff on the Quileute Rez, but you weren't raised on the Rez, were you Special Agent Dean? You're a city boy. I'm guessing Spokane… no, you're too eager. Seattle, definitely."
"Bella," Charlie chided me.
Dean took it in stride. "You don't like the FBI, Detective? And I know that's bullshit by the way. I checked the Quileute police department. The only listing they have for a Bella Black is a mechanic. Judging by the grease under your fingernails I'd say that was you."
I held my hand up. "I think that's dirt, but you're welcome to do a scraping and have it analyzed."
"Alright," Charlie interfered. "Both of you back down. Bella is my detective. Why don't you run a check in Forks, Levoi? I'm sure you'll find everything in order."
Looking over at me he pointed his sub at my chest. "And you be nice to the FBI agent. He's giving us a lot of slack here."
I shrugged and bit into my sub as I held it with my greasy fingernails.
"Where's your motorcycle by the way?" Dean asked all innocent like.
"Owner picked it up already… and I didn't even get his name to thank him. Nice guy. Average height, average weight, he was wearing a hat and a hoodie so I couldn't give you a good description."
That made him smile. "You're funny, Detective Black."
We ate in relative silence for the next ten minutes before Charlie finished up and gave Dean a nod. "You be sure and give us a call if there's anything else we can help with."
They shook hands and Dean even held his hand out to me. His smile faltered for just a moment as I'm sure he felt the heat pouring off me.
"That's quite a warm grip you have there, Detective Black." He paused for a moment. "We're going to mysteriously not hear anything more from the killers, aren't we?"
I tiled my head at him. "I wouldn't know anything about that, Special Agent. I'm just a tracker."
He squeezed my hand again. "Somehow I seriously doubt that. I'll see you around."
There was a really bad feeling in the pit of my stomach that told me he was very right about that.