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Twilight fic: Singing in the Dead of Night 1/4

June 24th, 2010 (03:34 pm)

Title: Singing in the Dead of Night

A/N: Much thanks to deej1957  for beta'ing this, even when she's not a Twilight fan. Thanks to sendintheklowns  for the hand holding and cheerleading. Without her, none of this would ever happen. My apologies will go out in advance for any inaccuracies or inconsistencies within the fic as related to the Twilight canon. I've read the books a time or two, but I am by no means an expert, and I am not well read in this fandom by any means. My exploits here are totally for my own enjoyment.

Spoilers: For all books. Set after BD with a focus on the wolves.

Disclaimer: So not mine.

Summary: A year after the Volturi leave Forks in tentative peace, Jacob struggles with the new found rhythm of his life.

 

-o-

All your life
you were only waiting for this moment to arise.
-from "Blackbird" by the Beatles

-o-

CHAPTER ONE

Ducking through the brush of the forest, Jacob surged ahead, branches swatting at his thick fur. Using his legs, he sprung hard, flying through the air, landing easily on his feet. Without missing a beat, he picked up running again, skimming lightly over the ground as he dodged the tree trunks. Darting right, he leaped down an incline, veering left away from a thicket of brambles.

The air was fresh in his lungs, filling his chest with each precious breath. It invigorated him, sparking his mind with a beautiful clarity, tingling from his ears to his tail.

He needed this. It made him feel alive, free, whole...

But not alone.

Behind him, Leah nipped at his tail. Quil barreled next to him, nudging against him with some force.

This wasn't just freedom, completion. This was dominance. The need to come out on top was as ingrained as anything for a wolf. And Jacob knew it was more than just luck that allowed him to push it harder than the rest of them combined.

They still tried, though.

Leah's attack was careful and planned; Quil's was overt and to the point. Neither was enough to dissuade Jacob from his course. Instead, he pushed back, stretching his gait and easily edging out the smaller wolf. The sound of paws thundered behind him and someone came up on his right flank, taking a light swipe with their teeth at his side.

The bite caught skin, but not enough. Annoyed, Jacob lashed out, flicking his attacker with a powerful kick.

There was a whimper, and the presence fell back.

Pushing ahead, Jacob could see the clearing of the trees. The smell of the ocean was stronger now, almost upon him.

He was almost there.

Victory was within his reach.

The taste of it was powerful and he gave it one last effort, easily taking up the distance. There was a growl behind him, too far away to matter. Hard breathing, fast paws-background noise.

Then, the sky was visible through the trees. Jacob heard the sound of a wave crashing against the rocks and was greeted with a cool burst of ocean air.

The moment of success was sweet and sudden, and he pulled drastically to a halt, coming to rest easily on the cliff's edge.

He panted, taking deep breaths as he looked across the open expanse. It stretched for miles, as far as the eye could see. It seemed like it was his for the taking, and for a second, Jacob remember cliff diving. He'd never tried it in wolf form, and it just seemed like freedom-a taste of immortality, a second of really living. Legends coming to life. Freedoms being realized. Jacob's full potential finally met.

This was what he liked best. In all the responsibility, in all the difficulties, in the shared minds and phasing, these were the moments that made him feel like everything was worthwhile. Because this was responsibility, this was a chore. No matter how far he went, the pack was always behind him, always calling him back.

He could take the sea now. Run right off and jump. Feel the wind in his hair, the water washing over him. Be a lone wolf, just for a moment, for one perfect, wonderful moment. All he had to do was let go...

The sounds from behind him made him stop.

It was a scuffle, fur on fur and teeth gnashing.

He turned in time to see Seth's sandy form bound easily from the trees. Right on his tail, Embry galloped in. Quil and Leah were not far behind, breaking through the trees rolling one over another, biting at each other with a wolfish determination.

The feeling was gone. The temporary high, fleeting. The lone wolf fantasy lost in the crashing waves. So close, but never his to hold. Just to taste, to want, to need, before real life called him back again. Oh Alpha, my Alpha. Forever to play leader of the pack.

The pair kept at it, vying for position. Leah's ear was bleeding and Quil had a scrape along his cheek. Leah was smaller, but scrappier in her technique. It didn't take long before she was on top of Quil, teeth bared and ready to take a deeper bite when Jacob figured having his own pack maul each other wasn't really the best idea.

Loping in, he nipped Leah in the neck, pulling her off Quil with force.

Her hackles flared, but she obeyed, even as Quil sat up, pacing back and forth with vigor in his gaze.

Are you two done yet? Jacob asked, looking purposefully between them. These were his friends-his best friends-and now more than that. They were family, closer than family, and that was a good thing...most of the time.

Leah raised her head proudly. As long as Quil's willing to concede defeat.

Quil growled a little. You got a lucky roll, Clearwater.

Yeah, well, you both came in last as far as I can tell, Embry said, shaking his fur out.

Both Quil and Leah scowled at that.

Jacob rolled his eyes. Times like these reminded him why he'd never looked for a pack to begin with. He'd broken away, content to be on his own. The whole lone wolf thing. The fact that they'd all trailed after him was completely out of his hands and yet now totally his responsibility. If you two would spend less time fighting one another, you might have had a chance in catching me.

You had a really good run today, Jake, Seth chipped in.

Jacob looked at the youngest wolf. Not bad yourself there, kid. Second place?

Leah strutted a bit, rolling her massive shoulders. My time was slow because someone kept trying to pick me off.

Quil coughed incredulously. I do believe I found you in second to last place there, sweetheart.

Leah rose a bit, coming to full height. Should I remind you who was on top when Jacob pulled us apart not to mention who your Beta is?

Quil's snout wrinkled a bit, but he didn't rise.

The conflict looked bad, Jacob knew that, but it was pretty normal all things considered. Wolves were team players, but they still had their own desires and wants. Their ultimate goal was pack unity, but Jacob remembered how it was not being the one in charge.

A hierarchy always caused contention, and with as hot blooded as wolves ran, tempers just went with the territory. His pack was more laid back than Sam's, but Leah and Quil had their moments. Even Embry was known to get in on it from time to time, because that was just what wolves did. The wrestled and they clawed and then they laughed about it afterward. Expected, a bit routine, and all in all, not one of Jacob's favorite part of being Alpha. Playing referee wasn't in any job description he'd ever read, and no matter how well Leah had taken to her role as Beta, she still had a bit of bitter diva in her that was impossible to break.

Even Quil and Embry were prone to bickering, because they were best friends. And guys. Sometimes guys were just stupid, around each other, and especially around girls. Jacob would know; he was one, and he'd had his share of stupid moments around girls.

It was hard to believe that he'd ever be thankful for little Seth Clearwater's good nature. The kid was persistent and pervasive, but he didn't know how to hold a grudge. Not even against Leah, who liked to regale them all with thoughts of Seth's toddler years or his awkward preteen moments.

With a sigh, Jacob stepped between his pack members again. Someone had to play the heavy and it was always, always him. You all sort of suck when compared to me, he said. Now are you all satisfied?

Quil made a face, whining a bit. Sheesh, Jake. Bad mood or what today?

Leah tentatively came down from her guard, sitting back on her haunches. Still upset about the party?

No, just upset that after a year, my pack still can't give me a good run for my money on a simple exercise.

Quil laughed. Oh, boo hoo. Poor Jacob. The put out Alpha with the ragtag pack.

Speak for yourself, Ataera. Leah said.

You really want to still go there, Clearwater? Quil shot back, stepping closer to her.

Jacob growled at him. If you two are going to be stupid about this all day long, then we'll just take human forms so I don't have to hear you in my head.

They all whined at that. We'll be good, Jake. And if Leah starts being problematic, we can just bite her, Seth offered.

Leah scoffed. Like to see you try, little brother.

Ooh, sibling on sibling, that should be a nice change of pace, Embry thought.

I've got twenty on Leah, Quil thought.

Hey, Seth interrupted.

Only twenty? Leah thought simultaneously.

There was probably a time he would have been joining them, plunking down thirty on none of the above. But it was just kind of...different now in a way Jacob couldn't explain. It didn't seem quite as much fun to hang out with the guys when they were in his head. It wasn't as entertaining to wrestle around with the pack when he was Alpha.

And he was an Alpha, not that he always felt like it. Sometimes he seemed like nothing more than a glorified preschool teacher. Though the fact that they were all essentially supercharged teenagers was really none of their faults. Being a wolf screwed with their self control in major ways, and Jacob was not necessarily proud of some of his split second decisions over the last few years.

That's enough, Jacob thought with forceful inflection, not quite the Alpha's command, but they all got the hint. Phase back. All of you. And Quil, you better have your shorts on before you show your face here again.

The order was met with grumbling, but acquiescence all the same. His four pack members trudged into the woods. Sometimes being Alpha had its perks.

When alone, Jacob let himself phase, throwing on his jean shorts. Being a wolf could be more fun, sometimes, that was definitely true. But they were less likely to have pissing matches about who was better when they were all human again. Jacob was all for some friendly competition (especially since he could basically always win), but sometimes all the jockeying for position, however harmless, was just irritating. Especially since it was always the same.

It was perhaps no surprise that Seth made it back first. For what that kid lacked in grace, he certain made up for in a willingness to please. Embry and Quil were not far behind, but Leah took her sweet time coming out of the woods.

"Sheesh, Leah," Quil said with an exaggerated sigh. "What were you doing back there? Your nails?"

She gave him an angry glare. "You idiots get to walk around without your shirts on," she snapped. "Since last time I tried that I scarred Seth for life and gave you awkward dreams for a month, I thought I'd take the extra moment to throw on my shirt."

And that was unfortunately far too true. And so not what Jacob wanted to think about. Seth wasn't the only one who was scarred. "The shirt is great, Leah, thanks," he offered meagerly. "But we need to talk about more than fashion right now."

"Is this about the party tonight?" Seth prompted, almost as if he'd read Jacob's mind, which was actually kind of a funny thought. "We're all going, right?"

"And that's the million dollar question," Jacob said, a little grateful he didn't have to beat around the bush.

Embry frowned a bit, shifting his weight to his other foot. "Why wouldn't we go to the party?"

Jacob shrugged, trying to stay nonchalant. He'd thought this through very carefully, but he was pretty sure his friends wouldn't get it and he knew them well enough to know they wouldn't let it slide. "Someone has to run a few patrols over the woods tonight, just in case."

"You're kidding, right?" Quil asked.

Leah rolled his eyes. "Does it look like he's kidding?"

"But it's our celebration," Embry said emphatically.

Embry was right, of course. The elders had organized it with a concrete purpose in mind, the one year anniversary since the last serious conflict, when the Volturi had attacked. Since Jacob had been out in the heat of the battle, it had never quite occurred to him how much of a risk it all was. Every last wolf had been there; it could have been the annihilation of their race.

So when they came back alive, the elders had been pretty happy about it. Happy enough to celebrate it. They didn't need much reason to celebrate-life in La Push could be pretty boring-so the tribe had taken to the idea with a flourish. There were grand festivities planned, with food and cookouts and music and games and a bonfire all night long. Excessive celebration for a victory that most people wouldn't even begin to understand.

Jacob shrugged, doing his best to make it sound like not a big deal. He was going to have a hard time convincing them on this point as it was. "No one else knows that."

Quil snorted, clearly not buying it. "But we know it. The elders are doing this for us."

Leah appeared wholly indifferent in classic Leah fashion. "Our fearless leader has gotten quite the hero complex. I think it's pretty much to be expected given how many times he's saved our butts."

The jibe didn't mean much to him, and ignoring Leah was the best way to handle her sarcasm. Besides, it was hard to talk back to the one person in the pack who would probably let him go, no questions asked even if she was PMSing about it all. "There was a report of a tourist being mauled not far from here two nights ago," Jacob reminded them.

"Yeah, and the local police already said it was a mountain lion," Embry said. "The dude was carrying like an entire salami on him."

"Not the best food for a quiet picnic," Quil agreed.

"Wow, you two really are juveniles, aren't you?" Leah asked with more than a hint of disgust in her voice.

Quil proved her point by sticking out his tongue and Jacob tried to remind himself that ditching them altogether simply wasn't a viable option, no matter how much he could use the peace and quiet.

"We haven't picked up on a scent," Seth pointed out, the first relevant comment in what seemed like ages.

Jacob clung to it for all that it was worth. "Doesn't mean it's not there," he said reasonably. "And even if it is just a mountain lion, we may need to take care of it."

"But one night!" Quil said. "You can take one night off. Especially if we're just talking about one somewhat insane mountain lion and some not-so-bright out of towners."

"Only if one of you wants to do it instead," Jacob said, as a matter of fact. He could order them into submission-no problems there-but he would feel less guilty if they let him go voluntarily. Orders could be convenient, but they nearly destroyed Sam's pack. Jacob wasn't a brilliant Alpha by any stretch of the imagination, but he knew enough not to repeat that mistake, especially over something like this.

Quil groaned. Embry's gaze purposefully wandered.

Leah shook her head with an incredulous grunt. "Don't look at me. If you want to run around and play good Alpha, that's your business. Me? I could use the distraction. Being a wolf has been murder on my social life."

Seth gave a small half shrug. "I can go," he offered. "I mean, you've been to one bonfire, you've been to them all, right? Not that it wouldn't be fun, but Quil's right, Jake. You deserve a night off."

Sometimes that kid was just too good. He couldn't see Jacob was looking for a way out and a night alone even when Jacob was slapping them in the face with it. "And you do, too," Jacob said.

"Besides, wouldn't that be a little past your bedtime, kid?" Quil joked, ruffling Seth's long hair.

Seth's face darkened just for a moment, and he ducked away from Quil's touch. "I'm just offering to help is all," he said. "I would hate for Jacob to miss out."

"Well, I won't be missing out," Jacob assured them. "Parties aren't really my thing anyway."

"You're just upset Nessie won't be there," Quil prodded.

There was some truth to that. Things without Ness around were never as much fun, but she wasn't ready for the reservation yet. More than that, it was pretty clear to Jacob that the reservation wasn't ready for her. Maybe when she was older, fully matured, they could try it, but Jacob was not about to put her at risk and bring her to La Push. She was infinitely safe, of course, since everyone in either pack would fight to the death to defend her. But the emotional impact was nothing something Jacob wanted to expose her, too. Not with her ridiculous photographic memory.

But it was more than that. The whole thing just didn't seem to make much sense to him. Not that he wasn't happy about the year of peace they'd had and how good things were going for the tribe, but it still didn't quite feel like his victory. At least not in any important kind of way.

Jacob had always done what he had to do. He had never been an overachiever by any stretch of the imagination, and though he knew he was gifted in certain ways, he just didn't often feel compelled to go above and beyond. His desire to protect had always been there, but he'd be a liar if he said that it was really all about the tribe.

Sure, he had fought for the tribe, but for Jacob, it had always been a little bit more focused than that. The tribe was too abstract. He fought for the pack, for Bella. For Nessie.

So this whole tribe-wide celebration felt awkward at best and disingenuous at worse. He preferred the night off, honestly. And he didn't even need Nessie as an excuse.

Jacob rolled his eyes. "Whatever, man," he said. "A little responsibility never killed us."

"No, but it makes you boring," Quil said a little sulkily.

Embry looked equally downtrodden. "Even Sam's taking this one off," he said.

Leah snorted. "Maybe I should consider taking it off then," she muttered.

Jacob gave her a look, banal and desperate. He could tolerate her sarcasm because that was who Leah was, but they'd all had enough Sam angst to last them a lifetime. "All the more reason that we have to cover things tonight," he said, pinning his Beta with a plaintive gaze she couldn't misinterpret. "You can all enjoy the party. It's not a big deal."

Leah's eyes showed understanding and she remained noticeably silent.

Quil was not nearly so stoic, or perhaps just not as perceptive. "Buzz kill," he said.

"You're going to spend all your time with Claire anyway," Jacob pointed out with an edge to his voice.

Quil had the decency to blush.

Leah laughed, shaking her head. "You guys are both pathetic."

"Says the one who wanted to skip it on account of her ex," Quil charged.

To Leah's credit, she didn't rise to the barb. Instead she tossed her head. "I already told you, I'm in need of a jumpstart in my social life. Everyone in the tribe will be there," she said. "It's been too long since I've gotten to mix and mingle with real men." She sauntered close to Quil. "You know, the kind who aren't betrothed to toddlers."

Quil's eyes narrowed and Embry choked on a laugh.

"Wow," Jacob said, looking at his motley pack again. "Should be one heck of a party with you all as the guests of honor."

Leah shrugged. Quil tackled Embry with a headlock. Seth smiled at him.

"We'll let you know how it goes," Leah assured him mockingly.

"Can't hardly wait," Jacob said. Leah wasn't the only one prone to sarcasm, though his was far less bitter. Sarcasm was more effective when in human form, which was another plus when it came to group meetings. He paused, eyeing them all suspiciously. "Just...don't kill each other while I'm off, okay?"

Quil swore as Embry caught his arm and yanked. "I won't break anything that won't heal before tonight," Embry promised with a warm smile.

Jacob knew the response to that before Quil countered.

"I make no such promises," Quil said between clenched teeth. He surged, twisting under Embry and wiggling out. The two rolled the ground, bumping into Leah, who used one leg to shove Quil out of the way.

"Seriously, this may look cool when we're wolves, but you just look like idiots right now," she said.

Jacob sighed. It was almost like clockwork, it was that predictable. And yet they all still seemed to enjoy it, even Leah. With all of her huffing and her head tosses, the elder Clearwater relished pack life. She'd chosen Jacob's pack for a reason, and had never regretted it.

Not even now. Not even when Jacob regretted the entire thing altogether.

As if on cue, Quil and Embry stopped to glare at Leah for a long moment, then with unspoken unity, turned their attack on her. She yelped, fending them off with swift evasive maneuvers, and Seth moved in to assist her, like the dutiful little brother he was. Jacob edged backward from the fray, because he knew from experience that wild punching was not out of the question, as Leah slammed Embry to the ground. The younger boy hit hard and grunted, his eyes closed as Leah capitalized on his poor position. Not far away, Quil was behind Seth, grappling for position as Seth's wiry frame bucked and thrashed.

Perfect. A tag team match right there on the coast. Jacob didn't know which side to choose for, except maybe neither.

"Great," Jacob muttered, knowing even if he did bolt now, he could never really escape this. Some things never changed.

The ruckus was settling now, with Leah sitting on Embry's chest while he flailed uselessly, and Seth was going limp from a killer choke hold, his arms dangling by his sides while his eyelids fluttered.

Tired, Jacob shook his head. "Leah, that's a three count, now get off," he ordered. "And Quil, if you kill him, you have to revive him, CPR and all, so I might let him go now."

Leah got off reluctantly, eyeing Quil with disdain as he lowered Seth to a sitting position, patting him on the back to bring him back to full awareness.

"So anything else you need me for?" Jacob asked.

"No, I think we got it from here," Leah said.

Despite everything, Jacob gave a short bark of laughter. The irony of it all was clear even to his wolfish brain. "Yeah, you're all totally showing why the elders should honor us."

"Hey, like you said," Quil retorted, giving Seth's shoulder a shake while the younger boy blinked blearily. "No one knows it's for us."

"And I'm beginning to think that's a very good thing," Jacob said with a shake of his head.

And there was really nothing more to say. Nothing more to do.

Story of his life. Good and bad, fun and miserable, it was set before him from the days of his ancestors, since the first Quileute turned into a wolf and set this entire thing in motion. All the way down to a pack of misfits sparring in the morning sunlight.

Who was Jacob to fight fate? All he could hope for was to navigate it as best he could, take the good and endure the bad.

With that thought, Jacob turned tail and began to run, hoping to clear the area before they went at it for round two.

-o-

If he was going to spend the entire night playing the responsible Alpha, that really did mean he had to spend the entire night playing the responsible Alpha. They would know if he was lying, which really did kind of suck, but it was just part of the gig.

Which meant, no Nessie tonight. If he was going to survive the night, he would have to give her the day.

The good thing about imprinting was that no one could really give him crap about it. Some good natured ribbing, sure, but imprinting was imprinting. It was impossible to change what was written in his very soul, and there was simply no point in trying.

In all, imprinting was like the rest of wolf-hood. It didn't ask questions, it just was. It demanded and Jacob had no choice but to fall in line. He couldn't stop loving Ness any more than he could just stop being a wolf. It didn't leave much room for negotiation, needless to say.

Sometimes he still looked at Bella and wondered, just like sometimes he still ran through the woods and wanted to keep running. But he always came back-to the pack, to Nessie. It was like tides pulled by the moon, there just wasn't any choice in the matter.

For all the futility he felt when it came to the pack, he could never regret Ness. It just wasn't even remotely possible. It would be like regretting his own existence. Regretting oxygen.

Even if he wanted to, he didn't know how to do it. At least, he didn't know how to make the doubts last. The moment he saw her, he was in love all over again. She was his reset button.

He found her in the yard. The Cullens' property was mostly forest, but there was a small cleared area between the main house and Bella's cottage. Nessie liked to play there, doing acrobatics off the trees or amassing an impressive collection of leaves.

Jacob liked it when she was out there, too. It smelled less like vampire that way, and he usually could avoid having to come into extraneous contact with Rosalie.

Even a year later, he couldn't bring himself to really like her. Respect her, maybe, but even that was a stretch.

For Ness, though, he'd tolerate her.

Then again, he'd do anything for Nessie.

As it was, Nessie was running and dancing circles around her mother, giggling, her perfect laugh filling the forest with its serene sound. She was barely over the age of two in terms of years, but she looked like she was seven. Her brown hair was still in perfect ringlets, falling long over her shoulders. She was dressed immaculately, Alice's contribution, no doubt, though she did have a penchant for jeans and t-shirts just like her mother when she was permitted.

Bella caught her with a laugh of her own, hugging her tight. "Okay, okay," she said. "Your turn then."

Nessie straightened, her little head lifted. Then, she paused, her head cocked to the side. "I think I smell...," she said carefully, eyes scanning the forest. "Something...no, someone wonderful!"

"That's too easy!" Bella said, her eyes flicking to Jacob. She grinned. "You're supposed to make me guess in twenty questions."

"Not this time!" Nessie exclaimed. She whirled. "Because Jacob is my surprise!"

With that, Nessie broke into a run, flinging herself at Jacob with all her strength.

Jacob caught her with a laugh, staggering under her weight. "What are they feeding you these days?" he asked joking, wrapping his arms around her. She smelled like sunlight and the ocean after the rain. "Wait, scratch that, I don't want to know."

She giggled, pulling away to look at him, all smiles. "I had people food this week," she said. She put a hand to his cheek, sharing a memory of eating French toast with strawberry syrup.

"Mmmm," Jacob said. "Though I prefer maple myself."

"I still like mountain lion," she said. She looked back at her mother. "Mommy and Daddy say I still can't hunt them on my own."

Jacob strode toward Bella, hoisting Nessie higher. "And with good reason," he said. "We don't want you to destroy the entire species with your voracious eating habits."

Her laugh tinkled in his ears. "Mommy says it's dangerous," she said, sharing a snippet of memory, Bella lecturing her seriously about the importance of being safe.

Jacob did his best not to snort out loud. He raised an eyebrow at Bella. "Your mother has a point," he said. Then he looked at Nessie conspiratorially. "But sometime you should ask her about riding motorcycles and see what she really thinks about danger."

Bella cleared her throat purposefully. "Yes, well, we all have to grow up sometime, don't we, Jacob?"

He placed Nessie on the ground and leaned over brushing Bella's cheek with a cordial kiss. "That's what they tell me," he said. He flashed her a grin. "I'm not sure I believe it yet."

"That's because you're kind of immortal, too," Ness chimed in, her large eyes serious. "Not completely, but you get to choose it. I think that's neat. Getting to choose when you grow and when you don't. I just grow. Carlisle said I grew a whole inch last week!"

Jacob kneeled down, gauging her. "A whole inch?" he asked. "Hm, I would have guessed two."

She giggled again, looking up at her mother. "Jacob is good at guessing," she said. "Is that a wolf thing?"

Bella rested a hand on her head. "Most definitively," she said. Her eyes settled on Jacob for a moment. "Wolves are full of surprises."

Jacob stood up again. "Vampires have their moments," he added. Then he looked at Ness, reaching out to tickle her. "And human-vampire hybrids are the best surprises of all."

Her laughter escalated, high pitched and giddy as Jacob attack. She flitted away, sprinting up a tree branch, bounding from one to the next before holding on and grinning at him triumphantly.

"Hey, not fair!" Jacob protested. "Not unless I get to wolf out."

Nessie leapt again. "Mommy says no phasing in the house!"

"I'm not in the house!" he protested.

"Oh, close enough," Bella said.

"Told you!" Nessie said gleefully.

Jacob made a sound of mock hurt. "If I wanted to be teamed up on, I would have just stayed with the pack."

Nessie paused at that, swinging down from the tree and landing lightly on her feet. "Are they coming over any time soon?" she asked earnestly. "Seth promised to play a game of kick ball with me."

"Sweetie, it's not polite to push that kind of thing," Bella said.

"Nah," Jacob said. "I'm sure they'd love to come by soon. Seth would be over this weekend, I'm sure, but we've got this big thing down at the reservation."

Her eyes lit up. "Like a party?" she asked. "I like parties. Alice throws wonderful parties." She offered up a hand to show one.

Jacob laughed, catching her hand. "I remember. I was there."

Nessie's smile widened. "Are you going to go to the party, too?"

He made a face, shrugging a bit. "Nah, no need," he said.

She looked worried. "But parties are fun," she said. "Your friends will all be there."

"Not all of them," he said, leaning in and touching his forehead to hers.

She wrapped her arms around her neck contentedly. "I could go with you," she offered.

Jacob stiffened slightly, eyes meeting Bella's just for a moment.

Bella stepped forward, putting a hand on Nessie's shoulder. "You already promised to play checkers with Jasper tonight," she reminded gently. "You need to keep your promises."

Nessie considered that, frowning a little. Then she nodded, looking at Jacob again. "You can still have fun with your other friends," she said. "They're fun, too." This time, he let her share the memory. Leah's birthday party. She'd been appalled that the leeches had thrown one, but there'd been cake and presents and music and they'd all had fun.

He had to smile, pressing a kiss to her forehead. "It was fun," he agreed. "And don't worry about me. I'll be fine. Just worry about beating Jasper at checkers."

Her smile broadened again. "He doesn't cheat like Emmett," she said. "And I wouldn't worry about you ever."

He feigned surprise. "Yeah? And why's that?"

"Because I think you're perfect just the way you are," she said with confidence.

She was so sure of it, so completely earnest, that it had to make him pause. Because this was Nessie, his Nessie, the one person in the world he knew like he knew himself, who knew him better than he knew himself. His other half, his perfect balance, and she believed it.

Then, she giggled again, squirming out of his grip and running toward the trees. "Can you catch me, Jacob?" she called back. "I've been practicing."

For a moment, he just watched her amazed. Amazed at everything about her, the way she moved, the way she laughed. She was the most perfect creature he'd ever seen, every last detail about her. The way her eyes sparked with curiosity. The blush of red in her dimpled cheeks. The warmth of her hand when it pressed against his cheek.

"You better go get her," Bella's voice interrupted his thoughts. She was leaning close, smiling at him. "She won't wait forever."

Something pulled in his chest, something deep, something real. Nessie wouldn't wait forever, and Jacob just wondered if he would.

The thought slipped away in the sound of her laugh as she called to him again. He couldn't help but smile, lunging after her as they took to the woods.

NEXT

 

Comments

Posted by: sendintheclowns (sendintheklowns)
Posted at: June 26th, 2010 01:05 am (UTC)

I love how you flesh out the characters and bring them to life. I especially love seeing Jacob with Nessie in this chapter.

I get the feeling that it won't all be fun and games for Jacob and friends. Can't wait.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: July 1st, 2010 09:45 pm (UTC)
neal smile

How sad is it that you're my only reviewer and I still don't manage to reply to you on time?

I fail!

But I'm still glad you like the fic :)

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