Chapter Fifteen – Bitterness
Title: Through the Window Came the Wind
Author : lifelesslyndsey
Disclaimer: It might not be mah sandbox, but I'm building castles. But I'm not profiting from them.
Warning: language, and adult concepts in probably graphic citrusy detail.
Summary: He fought to do what was expected of him and she did the opposite. If love was less about finding that perfect someone, and more about finding that someone who makes you perfect, you never know who you might find. Love might bring out the best in us, but first, it brings out the worst.
A/N This one was beta spanked by MsEerieChastain. If you see her, spank her back. It's how we say hello, good bye, thank you. You know, like shalom or aloha.
Hurt leads to bitterness, bitterness to anger, travel too far that road and the way is lost.
Red hadn't felt the separation at all, and I hated that. Hated it so much I damn near needed prayer. I wanted to hate her, but it wasn't in me to hate anyone really, so instead I hated that we meant so little to her. That I meant so little to her, even though I already knew that I meant nothing to her. Nothing. But sometimes it's the proof that's hardest to accept; I couldn't lie to myself anymore.
I could hear them, even from the front yard, as I lined up the log on the chopping block, dropping my ax down on it with brutal force. It split, and I stacked the pieces into the pile, sweat already clinging to the gray t-shirt I'd bothered to wear. For her.
Always for her. Everything for her.
And for what?
Maybe we were wrong about imprinting; who was really to say the imprint was ever effected? Embry had told me, though, that Red wasn't handling it right. He wouldn't have lied, not Embry. Send Paul or Quil, and they'll lie through their sharp wolf teeth, but never Embry. So why should she have arrived at my door looking as if she didn't have a worry in the world? It wasn't fair that I had to suffer alone; I'd asked to imprint on her about as much as she'd asked to be imprinted upon. I didn't want to admit it, but I didn't want to believe I was alone in this.
I felt my skin tremble, the faint shimmer of power ghosting across my flesh as my anger rose and rose and rose. I was working myself up and I knew it, it was stupid but I was powerless to stop the process. It had been a very long time since I had phased accidentally, and I had no intentions of beginning now. I tore off my shirt, letting it drop to the ground in tatters. Sprinting toward the shed between my mother's house I ducked behind it for some level of privacy. My hands were shaking even as I kicked off my shoes and jeans, phasing before the denim even settled into a pile.
It was different being a wolf. We saw the world at a new angle; our muscles pulled and shifted differently, the scent of the world tickled at our nose, bright as any color. I hauled off through the yard, catching a glimpse of the pack through the wide living room windows, Red pale between my brothers, frown etched in her stone-cold face. It stopped me, paws slipping in yesterday's thick mud. She stared me down through the double pane of glass, and though the pack looked on as well, it was only us.
I might have been half way across the yard but Red stepped closer to the window, palm pressed against the glass. She was close enough that I could see where her breath misted and fogged. I snorted, shaking my head; it didn't matter, none of it did. Here I was pinned beneath her brown eyes, here I was pinned. She'd proven her freedom by persevering inner punishment without so much as a qualm. I'd never leave the Rez, and she'd spend her whole life running from a man who'd run from her.
I'd paint my whole life around her and she'd never even think to put me in her picture.
When I made my way back from an impromptu boarder run, barely three hours had passed. My mother was sitting on her front porch in the white rocker I'd made her when she was pregnant with the girls.
"Do you feel better?" she asked mildly, over a pile of tangled pink yarn and a pair of knitting needles. "Get everything out of your system?"
The sun caught on her face, and I pushed down the guilt that rose with the pale scars of skin there. "I'm fine," I mumbled, leaning against the splintered wooden awning post. "Just...just needed to think."
"About the girl," Momma said, pointing a needle toward my cabin. "She's very pretty."
"She's a lot of things," I said in reply, dropping down to sit on the step before her. She ran her fingers through my hair, tugging lightly in reprimand.
"You had me worried," she said, smoothing her palm over my neck, thumbing though the hair at my nape. "The girls too; they haven't seen you in a while."
I sighed, leaning into her palm. "I wasn't really fit to be seen, I think."
"Don't send her away again, mijillo," she warned me, slapping my cheek lightly. It seemed the fight in the kitchen so many days ago was already behind us. Some doors closed themselves, and this was one. Any time I spent talking about Josh was a waste of my time and Momma knew it. "I can't bear to see you like that; it does neither of you any good."
"Did her just fine," I grouched, hanging my head. "She looks so much better for it."
Momma snorted, rolling her eyes at me. "Perhaps she wanted to look good for you, did you not think of that?"
"Given the air of general hostility between us, I sincerely doubt it's for me," I replied, eyes flitting to my front window. I could still see them all, hunched over their books. Bella was pointing at something in Jared's book, while he watched in rapt attention. She was at ease with them; them and not me.
Peeling my eyes away, I found my Momma looking at me again. "Baby, I think maybe all that hostility is uh... well, I think it's tension."
"Well, yeah," I said, rolling my eyes right back at her. "All we do is snip at each other."
"Baby,"Momma said slowly, her expression pained, as if there was something to be learned here, that I wasn't getting. "I mean to say...I think some of it is sexual tension."
"Taha Aki," I said, reeling back. "God, momma. We're not going there." I didn't have many lines that can't be crossed, but talkin' sex with momma was one of them.
"I don't know how it works with y'all wolves, but...sometimes all it takes is a good tumble," she said simply, as she fingered through the mess of pink yarn in her lap. Her eyebrows were raised, forehead wrinkled as if she was daring me to reply in negative.
"Momma," I replied, just as pained. "Sex is not the answer to everything."
"Worked out fine for me," she replied with a grin. "Best three things in my life came out of sex."
"Oh my Gods."
"Look, Sammy," she said with a sigh, dropping hands into her lap. "I'm just saying that I think a lot of this fighting and nagging is just foreplay. Oooh, your daddy. He never knew what he wanted; use to harp on me like no one's business when he wanted some. Don't think the man ever even realized it."
"Please don't compare me to him," I said, closing my eyes. The last thing in the world I needed was to be compared to him. I needed that like a match to my ass. "I think you're jumping the gun a bit. We're not even...close."
"I think the imprint negates the need to date and dance around each other," she replied with a shrug. "I mean, what is dating for? It's all interviews, getting to know the person is good for you. You already know that she's made for you, and she knows you're perfect, if only subconsciously. So, that's dating good and done with. A good roll in the hay will calm you right down, take the edge of your snipping."
"Well, as much as I appreciate all your motherly advice, I'm going to have to disagree," I said sagely, pushing up from the step. I gave her a quick peck on the cheek and steeled myself for the return.
"Hey Sam," the guys greeted, as they were shoving their things back in into their bags.
Jacob slapped me on the back, flashing me a grin. "Good job on getting Bella in on this. I forgot how good she was at teaching."
Little Red blushed, eyes flickering to me. "Um. I mean, I know that this was my punishment...for uh, what I did. But if you guys need help again, just ask. This was...fun, I guess. I'd like to help, if you need me."
"And it's more productive than arson," Jared offered with a grin, elbowing her as he gathered his shit.
Quil grinned, ruffling her bangs and she swatted his hand away with a grin. "I know for sure I'm going to need your help again," he said, and Embry nodded. My eyes narrowed at the casual touch, but I pushed it away. She didn't let me touch her like that or at all, but that was for her to decide. Still, she wasn't his to touch and he knew better, especially when it was well known I was at my wit's end.
"Quil," I said, somewhat sharp. "Take patrols. Push the border five miles and do a double run on the east side," I ordered, softening my tone. We were looking for a damn vampire, after all. Still, I couldn't let my conflict control me. "You can have tomorrow off."
He frowned, edging away from Red and nodding. "Uh. Sure, no problem Sam."
Quil waved himself off as he disappeared out the door, jogging towards the woods, his shirt already off. "Jake, Jared, Paul, I know it's Friday but if you're looking for a little overtime, I need the basement bricked and cemented at the new property. Nothing tricky, mostly manual labor, and you'll get time and a half for it."
Paul frowned. "Can I bow out? I have a thing...with my dad."
Paul's dad was sick, had been sick for a while, from the hepatitis his mother had given him years ago. Whatever the thing was, I was pretty sure it meant dialysis. "Going up to Port Angeles? You want to take my truck?"
"Can I? That'd be great. The breaks are shit on the Taurus right now," Paul said, losing some tension in his shoulders. I tossed him the keys and he flashed us all a grin. "Thanks again Bella, you really helped. It's a lot easier when someone reads the questions to me."
"Happy to do so," she said, giving an awkward wave. "Seriously, if you need anymore help, just call. Maybe we can cram a study session in before you sit for your tests." She'd passed my test, certainly. No one could punish you like you could punish yourself; Red's decision to continue tutoring had been exactly what I had hoped for. At least there was that.
"That'd be great," he said eyes shifting to me. "I better get going."
"We'll head up to the ...er, new property," Jake volunteered, elbowing Jared in the stomach. "I could use the cash and Jared has no life. Everything there?"
"Yeah, boys in the morning should have left the tools. Place is locked up," I said, grabbing the Hallow Property key off the key hook by the door. "No fucking around. Last time I left y'all alone you put a hole through the ceiling."
"I didn't know I could jump that high, to be fair," Jared said, rubbing his head. "And I fixed it."
"Even so," I replied with a grin. "Get going. Gonna want you back by six though. Sue wants the pack to come for dinner, and Jake and I have to talk about...something." I gave Jake a quick look, and he nodded sharply in reply. Good, I thought, Billy had talked to him about my punishment. "Looks like Seth's nearly there; she wants us to get acclimated with him before the change."
"Someone else is..." Red struggled for the words.
"Seth Clearwater," I cut in, waving Jake and Jared off. Jake bumped Bella with his shoulder and she slapped him, laughing as they left. "He's young, but we think he'll be the last of this generation. Hopefully, anyway."
"As long as they don't come back," Red said, eying me carefully. "The Cullens."
"Any vampire," I replied. "Any vampire that chooses to linger. We're inclined to kill them quickly. This part isn't exactly unknown to vampires. It's cloudy, wet, and easy to hide in. We get nomads all the time, but mostly they just run through. But since the Cullens set up home...their curiosity keeps them lingering, I think."
"I don't want the Cullens to come back," she said abruptly, leaning against the kitchen island. "Sometimes I wonder if that's why I come here so much. Because they can't get me here."
"Are you afraid of them getting you?" I replied, watching her eyelashes flutter against her cheek. She was just as pale as she had always been, particularly in contrast to myself, but her freckles were dark against her skin, spattered across the bridge of her nose and cheekbones.
She looked at me, head cocked to the side. "You know? I really don't think I am. I feel safe here," she said, suddenly shuddering; like the truth had just crept up on her. "It's part of the...history in this place, isn't it? You said that these were...sacred grounds."
"Something like that," I said. "The legends say that these grounds are consecrated with the blood of our people. This land wasn't gifted to us by the Government, like many reservations. It was ours to begin with. According to the legends, our tribe will always be protected here. That's where we come in, I think."
"And I'm part of the tribe?" she asked, looking over at me carefully. I nodded, caring not to elaborate, but she was having none of that. "Why? Why me?"
"Because you're special," I replied. "I've told you that."
"Special to who?" she asked, shoving her hands into her pockets, shoulders slumped forward. "What makes me so special?"
"Special to- everyone. The pack," I replied, tripping. "To be fair, your father has been regarded as pack for some time. He's Honorary Brother Black among the Elders."
She gave me a wan smile, stretched tight across her face. "So I only matter because of my father?"
"No," I said sharply. "You matter because...you matter." I frowned at myself, glowering. "You look a gift horse in the mouth, Little Red. It's going to bite you."
"I think you mean gift-wolf," she replied in kind. "I'm curious."
"Well, you know what they say about curiosity, and all that. Just be grateful; the tribe has been very giving towards you." I gave her a pointed look, and she blushed shamefully, looking away. I leaned back against the counter hard, until the sharp edge bit into my back, hands curled over the wood until my knuckles were white. I was still tense, still angry, but I did all I could to keep it out of my voice. "You look...better. Time away did you good."
She snorted, hand digging into her bag on the kitchen island, fishing out another pack of smokes. Wordlessly she lit one, holding it in her mouth and inhaling slowly, so slowly, smoke escaping between her lips, cascading upward in curls. "You think so?" she asked, cigarette held delicately in the 'v' of her two fingers. "Maybe I should stay away."
There it was, that bitterness. Always so bitter; so bitter it choked me. My heart hammered in my throat, gagging me, but this game she insisted we play...I told her I refused to lose. "Maybe you should."
The flinch in her face was visible, but she steeled herself anyway, flicking her ash on my floor with no regard. "Maybe I will."
"Maybe you won't," I growled now, straight from my stomach, watching her shiver.
She took another long drag from the cigarette, pursing her lips as she released the smoke. Her eyes were hard, narrowed, and angry now. "And if I leave today, are you going to come hunt me down?" She asked, ashing on my floor again. It landed on my bare feet, but I refused even the slightest of twitches as it burned between my toes. "Isn't that what the big bad wolf does?"
She licked her lips and I watched, the distance between us growing smaller by the second, though I wasn't sure who had taken the first step. We were chest to chest, breathing in tandem. "That depends," I said quietly, watching her tongue slide across her bottom lip again, nervously, "if Little Red Riding Hood has anything the wolf wants."
Anger flushed her face a pretty shade of red, the little wrinkle between her brows deepening. But she blinked, glaring harder, bringing her cigarette to her mouth again, the cherry inches from my down turned face. "If she does, she's not giving it to the big bad wolf. Why do you think she keeps running away?"
"Fuck that," I replied harshly, stealing the cigarette between her fingers, and setting it to my mouth. "She wasn't running. Bitch was a tease."
Her mouth fell open indignantly, head reeling back. "I am not a tease!"
"Were we talking about you?" I asked with a laugh, dropping the cigarette butt into my sink. I caught her hand as she swung it to slap me, fingers curled over her tiny wrist. "Now that's just plain rude."
"You bastard!" she hissed, tugging in my grip. "God. Why are you doing this to me? I hate you! I fucking hate you! You make me want to scream."
It would always hurt to hear it but familiarity had taken the sting out of it.
She stumbled, wriggling against me when I refused to release her. "What exactly do you think I'm doing to you?" I snarled, adrenalin racing up my spine. Her touch did that; her violence was too much like passion. It emboldened me, 'til I was drunk off her angry power. "If you want me to make you scream Red, all you gotta do is ask."
She was cool against my skin, free hand pressed against my naked chest, where my heart slammed against it. She gasped, the wiggling coming to a stop, eyes snapping up and I could have fucking punched myself in the face.
I was hard.
Of course I was hard.
Then she kissed me.
A/N so the next chapter is actually what got this story deleted of FFnet the first time. So there will be editing. And redacting. And linking to other sites where you can safely read the chapter in it's entirety.