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Dual Revelations

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Imprinting. He had only recently learned about the uncommon occurrence that brought a wolf to his true mate, but already he understood how it felt. He had experienced the break of his consciousness from everyone and everything except one person, a person who tied his existence to everything around him. He had felt the bone-deep connection that urged him to be near that person.

He hadn't told anyone that he had imprinted, had kept the information locked in his mind, not even thinking about it unless he was absolutely sure he was alone in his own head. Not even the man he had imprinted on knew about the occurrence, and Seth didn't know how he could possibly tell him. He couldn't see himself telling his pack either, for that matter.

But that didn't even matter right now, because he had bigger problems at the moment. His confusion was taking over all of his thoughts.

He stared at the person standing before him, eyes wide and easily communicating his disbelief. How could this have happened? Seth hadn't thought such a thing was possible, but he couldn't deny his own feelings.

His mind whirled as he came to a shocking realization. He could still feel the connection to his imprint, the invisible wire always pulling him toward the other man. But now that wire had split, and there were two wires leading him in different directions. Two wires, two connections, two imprints.

He had never heard of such a thing. None of the stories told around the Quileute tribe's campfire had mentioned a wolf imprinting on more than one person. Come to think of it, none of those stories had told of a male wolf imprinting on another male either, but both of Seth's imprints were men.

And yet, his biggest problem wasn't having imprinted on more than one person, and it wasn't having imprinted on men. His biggest problem was having imprinted on a vampire. Seth didn't know how the pack would react to the fact that he had imprinted on another member of the pack, but he was absolutely sure that imprinting on a vampire was going to be a problem. A huge fucking problem!

He shook off his thoughts to find Paul staring at him, not looking particularly happy. Of course, a happy Paul was rare, but judging by his expression, the other wolf knew what was going on. Seth wondered if Paul was having the same feelings as he was, but there wasn't really any way to tell just by looking at him. If he wanted to know, he would have to ask, and risk setting off Paul's explosive temper.

He plastered an amused grin on his face, falling back on his usual carefree attitude toward the world. Seth may be feeling far from carefree right now, but most people were never able to see through his façade. He had learned that if he acted as if nothing bothered him, the people who spent all their time putting others down would leave him alone. The act had even worked on Paul, whose scathing remarks were seemingly thrown at everyone but Seth.

Seth shoved his hands into the pockets of his cutoffs, his forcibly relaxed posture reflecting the same laid-back attitude as his expression. He made a show of eyeing Paul's body suggestively, wondering how the other wolf would take his boldness.

"What the fuck?" was Paul's scathing response, though Seth wasn't sure if he was responding to the entire situation, or just Seth's obvious perusal. But the other wolf cleared that right up with his next words.

"What the fuck is going on? Why the hell would we imprint on each other? I don't even like guys, I've never liked guys, so why would you be my fucking mate?!?" Paul was pacing around in agitation, his voice rising with every word.

Seth just watched him, making sure not to change his expression, not to lose his easy demeanor. But underneath his outward calm, his mind was spinning. He couldn't see any easy solutions for his problems, and it frightened him. He wasn't ashamed to admit that, at least to himself. This predicament--two imprints, both male, one a vampire--could cause him to lose everything. The pack and his family were important to him, the most important things after the two people he had imprinted on, and he didn't want to lose them.

He had already decided not to tell Paul about his other imprint. Seth thought it would be a better idea to somehow orchestrate a meeting between Paul and the vampire, to see if Paul might imprint on him too. He didn't see any better way to go about this fucked up situation.

Seth had never really held a grudge against the Cullen's, despite them being his pack's supposed enemies. The vampire family living in Forks weren't like other vampires, and unless they started hurting humans, Seth saw no reason to fight with them. But he knew the rest of his pack felt differently, especially Paul, which was why he was so reluctant to make known his connection to the vampire.

The vampire's name was unknown to him. The only ones he had any knowledge of were Dr. Cullen and Edward, and that was only because he had heard Jacob talking about them. Edward was the vampire that was dating Bella Swan, so Jake's reasons for complaining about him were fairly obvious, as the other wolf had a well-known crush on Bella. And Jake had mentioned once that he found the eldest vampire's ability to doctor humans without hurting them intriguing. The vampire must have a very high level of control to be able to handle being around so much human blood and not attack anybody.

He remembered his encounter with the vampire clearly, which wasn't that much of a surprise since it had been only a few days since their meeting. Seth had just finished his morning patrol, and was loping along the border of La Push. Jake had been patrolling with him, but the other wolf had decided he felt like taking a walk, and had shifted back to human before disappearing into the trees. Seth was left alone with his thoughts, which was good, considering what happened soon afterward.

Why the vampire had been pacing along the border, Seth didn't know, but it didn't really matter. Seth had smelled the sickly sweet scent long before he was able to see the vampire, but he had given into his curiosity and sought out the vampire instead of avoiding him. According to the treaty, the Cullen's couldn't cross the border of La Push, so Seth knew the vampire wouldn't be able to attack him unless he was stupid enough to cross the line. As long as the vampires stayed in their own territory and didn't bite any humans, the wolves would not be able to attack them.

To his credit, the vampire hadn't acted hostile toward Seth. In fact, he had seemed to be just as curious as Seth was. Especially when Seth had met those amber eyes and was instantly lost. The vampire's confusion had been painfully obvious by the time Seth was able to get control of himself. He had most likely been wondering why Seth was just standing there, staring at him for what had probably been at least five minutes. And making things even more strange, Seth was still in his wolf form, so the vampire wouldn't have been able to read his expression in order to figure out what was happening.

When Seth had finally realized what was going on, he took the time to look the vampire over. Big was the first thing that came to mind when he looked at the other man. And Seth could see the outlines of muscles even through the vampire's clothes! The man looked like he had spent the entirety of his short human life lifting weights. Seth could clearly remember his thoughts as he had studied his newly discovered imprint.

Mmm...those muscles would feel so good wrapped all around me, holding me close as he thrusts slow and deep. I wanna tangle my fingers in those dark curls as he dominates my mouth with his tongue.

And it might have seemed weird to be daydreaming about such erotic things so soon after finding his imprint, had Seth not been fantasizing about similar things since he was about twelve years old. The only thing he had never experienced in his fantasies was the presence of a real person. Usually the male bodies in his dreams were just that; male bodies with no face, no name, and no meaning to Seth personally.

Unlike Paul, Seth had always been attracted to boys. The only thing that had been truly surprising to Seth about his imprint was the fact that he was a vampire. Seth wondered what would happen with Paul if he did end up imprinting on the vampire. And what if Seth, despite having imprinted on more than one person, ended up alone because both of them refused to accept him?

He didn't even want to contemplate that thought.

***

Emmett was lost in thought as he made his way home. Nothing had been going right lately, and his confusion over his encounter with one of the wolves a few days ago wasn't making things any better. He couldn't get the wolf out of his mind, but he wasn't sure exactly why. The sandy haired wolf had done nothing but stand there, staring at him, and then Emmett had had the crazy feeling that the wolf was checking him out! And that was just creepy, and strangely arousing. Which didn't make much sense, because Emmett was with Rose, and why would he be turned on by an animal checking him out? Okay, so he wasn't just an animal, but it was still weird.

He wouldn't have been so surprised if the wolf had been in his human form. Emmett had never been picky when it came to things such as gender. His only requirement was beauty, which might be kind of shallow, but he couldn't help who he was attracted to. Emmett had been with both men and women in his human life, so he supposed it wasn't surprising that he would still be attracted to both genders. The only problem he was having was his apparent attraction to a boy in a wolf's body.

It was odd that the wolf had just stood there, since Emmett had always been under the impression that all the wolves hated his family. He didn't think it was at all unreasonable for the wolves to hate his family, since they were made to protect their tribe from his kind. And apparently members of the Quileute tribe only went through the transformations if there were vampires living near their reservation. And that meant that it was basically his family's fault that the La Push teenagers had begun shifting.

Emmett only knew these things from talking to Edward. His brother had been around Bella's best friend enough to know what the wolf thought of vampires. But Emmett supposed that it was possible for some of the wolves to have different opinions of their family. Edward had said that the wolf called Jacob was particularly bitter about his transformation, that the shift had completely changed the wolf's personality.

Bella couldn't seem to stop talking about how Jake had once been so happy, how he had pulled her out of her zombie-like state (the state she had been in after Edward left her) with his never-ending smile and sunny demeanor. Now he seemed to be full of anger, and he had a hard time keeping control of himself.

Emmett couldn't be sure, but the wolf he had met didn't look at all bitter or angry. Those warm brown eyes hadn't glared accusingly when they were met with the sight of a vampire. In fact, the wolf had seemed more intrigued than anything. Just standing there and staring, big head cocked to one side, tail wagging slowly. Emmett had gotten the impression that the wolf was young. His paws seemed too big for his body, and his limbs were long and gangly.

But the look in those chocolate eyes hadn't seemed at all young. And Emmett hadn't even been able to move as the wolf stared into his eyes, seeming almost mesmerized. It was only after the wolf had snapped out of his trance that those eyes had run up and down Emmett's body. Maybe. Emmett could have been imagining that part, but he didn't think so. He could have sworn he felt the path the wolf's eyes made as they traveled over his muscles, from his chest downward and then back up to his face.

That's when Emmett had left, not wanting the wolf to smell his arousal. Because what if he had been imagining the wolf's interest. What if the young wolf ran back to his pack and told them that one of the leeches had been perving on him? Would they try to do something about it? Emmett didn't know, but he didn't want to take that chance. He wasn't really worried about the wolves hurting his family—they were perfectly able to defend themselves—but to tell the truth, Emmett didn't want to hurt anyone in the pack.

Emmett sank down at the base of a tree, deciding that he wasn't quite ready to head home after all. There were too many thoughts swirling around in his head, and he didn't want Edward picking up on them. His family tended to think that he never thought about anything but trivial matters, such as arm wrestling and football, but the truth was that Emmett just made sure to stay away from Edward when he considered the more important matters in his life. And he wasn't ready for his brother to know everything he was going through right now. Which was quite a lot.

He had been with Rose for years, and he had been content with their relationship until recently. But Emmett was tiring of her selfishness, and he didn't know how he had never noticed how vain she was. Another thing he hadn't noticed was that she had never really cared about him. The only reason she had stayed with him so long was that he had treated her like a princess and given in to everything she wanted. She never gave him anything back. Not even her love.

How had he gone so long without noticing? Why had he never sensed that the only person Rose cared about was herself? Why hadn't anyone ever told him? It was a painful realization, especially since Emmett's feelings for her had been very real. He had given her everything, and he was just now coming to the conclusion that it would never be enough.

Emmett hadn't told Rosalie about his feelings yet. She was going to have a major freak-out when he finally did, and he knew he was just procrastinating. He knew he would be lucky if she didn't try to kill him. The rest of their family would never let her do that, of course, but he didn't doubt that she would try. She would probably rip the entire house apart as well, just to try and make herself feel better about losing her whipping boy. He figured that must have been what he was to her. Just a tool used to make herself feel better, someone to tell her how beautiful she was and to buy her presents.

He didn't think she had even noticed the change in him. Their relationship was so one-sided that Rosalie didn't even know that his feelings for her had changed drastically. She hadn't noticed that he no longer waited on her hand and foot, that he no longer complimented her just to put a smile on her face. Emmett was sure that the rest of his family had noticed a change in him, but Jasper would be the only one to know for sure what that change was. Even Edward wouldn't know for sure, since Emmett had made sure to avoid thinking about anything important while he was in his brother's presence.

For some reason, Emmett hoped that he would soon see the sand colored wolf again. He wanted to know who he was, and he wanted to see how far his strange attraction would go. He wanted to know if the wolf had actually been checking him out, or if that had just been his overactive imagination.

***

Paul stared at the boy in front of him, horribly confused. At first Seth's emotions had moved across his face rapidly, there and gone almost before Paul could distinguish them. Shock, confusion, and worry had been the most obvious, and those weren't all that surprising, considering their situation. But then all the tension had drained from the younger wolf's body, and the only thing left on his face was an amused grin and sparkling eyes. What the fuck?!

Paul had never treated Seth the same way as he did almost everyone else, simply because he liked the kid. He was funny, and he was always smiling and laughing. He never burdened the pack with 'poor me' thoughts or other shit like that, and it seemed that everyone else in the pack were always either feeling sorry for themselves or thinking about their girlfriends or something equally disgusting. Seth seemed to save the depressing thoughts for times when nobody else was in his head, and Paul couldn't help but be impressed by that. It was difficult to control your thoughts like that, Paul knew.

But even so, he had never imagined that he would imprint on the kid. That was just fucked up! Paul didn't want to be imprinted on a dude. He didn't want to be different than everyone else, and being with a guy, especially one in his own pack, would definitely make him different. Even more different than he already was.

But his pack didn't know about that, and they never would if he had anything to say about it. It wasn't anyone's business what he went through at home, which is why he never thought about his abusive father when he was a wolf. Nobody needed to know. He would keep telling himself that until he actually believed it. Paul wanted to get away from his home, but he couldn't just leave his mother there alone with his father. She would be dead within a week, and it would be all his fault.

Paul stayed in his home with his abusive father because his mother refused to leave, and he was the only one who could protect her. The old man was no match for Paul anymore, so as long as he was there, his drunk asshole father couldn't lay a hand on his sweet, docile mother.

He couldn't blame his mother, really. Her husband hadn't always been the drunken creep he was now, and she still loved him despite his faults. Paul didn't know why his father had changed so drastically, but he didn't see any reason good enough to excuse his behavior. Beating a woman wasn't acceptable, ever.

When Paul finally pulled his focus back to the present, Seth was eyeing him so obviously that he almost couldn't stop his mouth from falling open. Since when was Seth so damn bold? The younger wolf seemed to have accepted their imprint very easily. The only thing making Paul doubt that his current behavior was completely genuine was the way Seth had looked at the very beginning.

Paul couldn't rid his mind of the very first emotions that had crossed Seth's face. Shock, confusion, worry...Paul had a feeling that those emotions were likely still fighting for dominance in Seth's mind. Paul had often wondered how anyone could be so carefree and happy all the time, and now he knew. Seth didn't actually feel that way all the time, he just put on a show for everyone around him, hiding his real emotions beneath a carefully constructed façade. It made so much sense now that Paul was thinking about it. And he grudgingly had to admit to himself that he admired the kid even more for being able to fool everyone so thoroughly.

But that didn't change the fact that he didn't want him as his imprint. Maybe if he just ignored Seth he would go away? He doubted it, but it was worth a try.

Chapter Text

Nothing. No trace. Seth sighed, disappointed. He had been hoping the vampire would be here, but he supposed that was a stupid thing to hope for. Why would the handsome vampire be spending his time hanging around the border to La Push? Sure, that's where Seth had found him the first time, but that could have just been a coincidence. It didn't mean that his imprint hung out there all the time.

The problem was, Seth had no idea how else to get in touch with the vampire. He had no guarantee that the Cullen's wouldn't kill him if he showed up at their house, but Seth no longer felt as if he had a choice in the matter. The vampire deserved to know about the imprint, especially since the wire connecting them together was becoming more insistent with each passing day. It was becoming physically painful to be away from his imprint, and Seth didn't think he could deal with the ache in his chest much longer.

Even worse, Paul was refusing to accept their imprint. So here Seth was, trying to deal with two separate imprints when one was rejecting him and the other didn't even know about the situation. It was becoming increasingly difficult to keep his emotions locked away, to keep any stray thoughts of his imprints out of his mind while the pack was able to listen in.

He just wanted to be able to tell someone, to let someone see him for who he really was. But he really didn't have any close friends who would understand what he was going through right now. His sister would support him no matter what, he knew that, but he didn't want to burden her with anything else right now. Leah was having a particularly hard time with their father's recent death, and that was on top of her problems with Sam.

Seth was having a difficult time with the death of his father as well, but he was able to handle his emotions a lot more easily than his sister was. Leah tended to lash out whenever she was feeling vulnerable, causing most to assume she was a total bitch. But Seth would always defend her, because his sister was the only person who had never let him down. He loved her and would always support her.

And Jake was like a big brother to him, but Seth knew how much the other wolf hated vampires, and he didn't want to put his friend in a difficult position by telling him something he wouldn't want to hear. Which was why Seth was dealing with things all by himself, wishing there was someone to help him through this, hoping that the vampires would be more understanding than his family and friends.

Seeing no other choice, Seth headed toward the Cullen's house. It wasn't difficult to find when everything in him was yearning to be closer to the vampire. Seth stopped at the edge of the clearing, in awe at the sight of such an enormous, beautiful house. Apparently the vampires were loaded, which didn't really surprise him considering how old they probably were. They would have had plenty of time to accumulate money.

Taking a deep breath, Seth made his way toward the front door of the house. Before he made it even halfway, a vampire appeared on the porch, watching Seth as he continued on his way. He wasn't sure, but based on Jake's description, Seth figured this vampire must be Edward. He assumed there was only one vampire in the family who had bronze hair, but he could be wrong.

"You are correct, I am Edward," the vampire informed him, still watching Seth intently. Seth raised an eyebrow, recalling what Jake had said about some of the vampires having special abilities. Apparently it was true, as this vampire was answering questions that weren't even being asked aloud.

"Why have you come here?" Edward asked. Okay, so the vampire was able to pick thoughts out of his head, but only when they were on the surface. Interesting.

"Um…" Seth wasn't exactly sure how he was supposed to explain his predicament, but he did know that this wasn't the vampire he should be speaking to. What he had to say wasn't anyone's business but…whoever the big, brawny vampire was.

"Emmett," Edward informed him, narrowing his eyes. "Why do you want to see Emmett?" But Seth was saved from having to answer when said vampire appeared.

"Hey…" Emmett said, eyeing Seth curiously. "Little Wolf?" he asked, and Seth should have thought of the fact that the big guy wouldn't recognize his human form. Although…he should be able to distinguish his scent, right? And what was with the name? Even if he was the youngest and smallest in his pack, that still wasn't exactly small. He didn't know whether or not to be insulted, but this wasn't the time to dwell on it.

"The wolf makes a good point, Emmett," Edward said, seeming exasperated and amused at the same time. "You recognize his scent, yes?"

"Yes, Edward, I recognized his scent, but I didn't just want to assume," Emmett muttered, looking insulted that Edward might question his intelligence.

Edward gave them one last questioning glance before heading back into the house. Hmm…now what was he supposed to say? Seth didn't really want to discuss things with Emmett where the other vampires might hear them. Not that the big guy probably wouldn't let them know what was going on anyhow, but Seth thought that speaking in private first might be a good idea. One angry vampire had to be better than a whole coven of them, right?

He sighed, resigned to the fact that he had to have this conversation, and since he was already here, he might as well get it over with. Seth looked back up at the vampire, and up and up and up. Holy shit this guy was tall! Had to be at least six foot five! Damn…that is so hot! He shook his head, trying to rid himself of thoughts that were so not helpful right now.

"My name is Seth, by the way. Uh…can we take a walk or something?" Seth asked, somewhat intimidated. The vampire didn't look at all menacing, despite his size, but that might change after hearing what Seth had to say. "I don't really want the rest of your family to hear what I have to say, at least not yet."

Emmett raised an eyebrow, but nodded. "Sure, Little Wolf, lead the way."

So Seth walked, ignoring the continued use of a name that wasn't his, comforted by the pine smell of the forest and the breeze caressing his skin. He was surprised that despite his size, Emmett made no noise as he walked. No twigs crunched under his feet and no branches swayed with his passing. Everything about him screamed predator, and that was further compounded by the disappearance of any small animals that had been nearby, the absence of sound in the forest. The only thing disturbing the peace was Seth's none too graceful tromp over the forest floor. But it wasn't exactly Seth's fault that his body was growing too fast for his motor skills to catch up.

It was all part of his ability to change into a wolf. Most of the pack already looked as if they were in their twenties when in reality, a good portion were only sixteen or seventeen. Seth hoped that he would eventually be able to move with the same grace and agility that the rest of his pack seemed to possess. It was just embarrassing to be seen stumbling all over the place by his imprint, who didn't yet have any knowledge of who he was and was probably forming an opinion based on what he could see. What must the big vampire think of him? Probably that he was a clumsy dork.

They didn't speak, but strangely, the silence wasn't uncomfortable. Seth was still nervous about his confession, and other than that, what was there to say to a vampire whom he didn't even know?

***

Emmett followed the wolf, amused by Seth's inability to take a step without stumbling or disturbing the forest floor in some way. It made his name for the wolf even more accurate, reminding him of a young wolf not yet able to find his footing in order to move smoothly and gracefully.

He was surprised to find himself thinking how cute the wolf looked with his plump bottom lip caught between his teeth, his hands fidgeting with the bottom of his t-shirt in a nervous gesture. Emmett wondered what there was to be nervous about? What reason did his Little Wolf have for showing up at his home, risking his life in order to speak with a vampire whom he had seen only once?

Of course, his family would never attack one of the wolves without just cause, but Seth was young. Any knowledge he had of vampires had probably come from the Quileute elders or his pack leader, whom were distinctly prejudiced against Emmett's kind. They looked on his family as mindless bloodsuckers who couldn't possibly control themselves the way they claimed. No matter that his family had been surviving on animal blood for years. Emmett doubted that the pack would ever see them as anything but monsters that needed to be put down. And obviously some vampires were like that, but his family wasn't the same. They were vegetarians, as was their name for a vampire who didn't consume human blood.

But obviously his Little Wolf didn't feel the same way as the rest of his pack. Emmett didn't sense any hostility in Seth. In fact, nervousness was the only emotion that Seth was clearly showing. Emmett didn't even need to have Jasper's ability to feel other's emotions to know that Seth was nervous. Which brought him back to the fact that he didn't know why.

He stopped walking, his amusement increasing as he watched the wolf continue on without even noticing Emmett's absence. Emmett cleared his throat quietly, pressing his lips together to avoid voicing his laughter. He didn't want his Little Wolf to be embarrassed, or to think Emmett was laughing at him. That wasn't really the case. If anything, Emmett found the wolf's awkwardness attractive, and he hoped it wouldn't entirely disappear with age. Which didn't really make sense, because what reason would Seth have for remaining in contact with Emmett, a vampire, his enemy?

Little Wolf turned, flushing slightly as he realized that Emmett was no longer with him. Deciding to just ignore Seth's obvious embarrassment, Emmett spoke. "We're far enough away now," he said, making sure to keep his voice soft and non-threatening. He didn't want to make the wolf even more nervous than he already was. "Nobody will bother us here."

Seth stayed where he was, not making a move to lessen the distance between them. Straight white teeth continued to abuse a now slightly-swollen bottom lip, and the wolf's shirt was suffering under the nervous fingers gripping and pulling it. Little Wolf seemed unable to keep still, his feet shuffling through the dirt and pine needles beneath them, his eyes flitting this way and that, but avoiding Emmett completely.

Finally, the wolf took a deep breath, releasing it slowly as he seemingly forced his body to stop fidgeting. He still wouldn't meet Emmett's eyes, fixing them on the forest floor just short of Emmett's feet.

Those soft, dark eyes flicked up to Emmett's face, but lowered again just as quickly, as Emmett watched the wolf struggle with what he wanted to say. "So…um, okay," Little Wolf stopped there, taking another deep breath, forcing his eyes up to meet Emmett's, finally.

"You're probably not going to like this, and I'm sure you won't understand completely either, but I'll try to explain it." Confused, Emmett furrowed his brow, wondering what the wolf could possibly be trying to say. He kept quiet though, waiting for Seth to continue.

"Um…I imprinted on you, which basically means that you're meant to be my mate," Seth paused and in that moment, he looked just as confused as Emmett felt. "I've never heard of a wolf imprinting on a vampire, and I'm sure my pack would think I'm crazy if I told them, but I know what I'm talking about, what I'm feeling."

Okay…the wolf's nervousness definitely made sense now. Emmett was his mate? What the hell? He understood Seth's confusion about their mating completely, because it didn't make sense in his mind either. But for some strange reason, he believed that Seth had imprinted on him, and he was far from upset about it. Inter-species mating might be strange, but Emmett had found this wolf appealing from the first moment he saw him.

He stayed still, not wanting to scare his Little Wolf away by seeming threatening. There must be more to this imprinting thing than he's told me, he thought, delighting in the way Seth had begun fidgeting again.

"So, what exactly does this imprinting involve?" Emmett asked, taking a seat on the forest floor. Maybe he would seem less imposing sitting down.

Seth followed his lead, sinking down to the ground and leaning against a towering tree. The wolf was quiet for a few moments, obviously thinking about how to answer the question.

"I feel a connection to you, like there's a wire between us and it pulls me toward you whenever we're apart. And it's painful to be away from you for long periods of time. When I ignore the urge to go to you, it feels like there's this huge knife in my chest, and it twists a little more with every step I take away from you. That's why I had to tell you, because I couldn't stand the pain anymore, I couldn't ignore the pull anymore." Seth looked over at him, and Emmett could see the fear clouding his eyes.

Emmett pushed himself up from the ground, intending to comfort his Little Wolf, but paused when Seth flinched away from him. Poor little guy probably expected the big, vicious vampire to attack him now, but Emmett had no intention of hurting the wolf.

"It's okay, Little Wolf," he said softly, slowly moving toward Seth. "I won't hurt you."

He sank down to his knees in front of the wolf, reaching for one of Seth's hands. Emmett closed his eyes at the feel of his Little Wolf's hand in his, stifling a moan at the warmth seeping into his perpetually cold skin. Nothing had ever felt so good as this wolf's skin against his, the heat traveling from Seth's hand to warm Emmett's entire body. He had never known it was even possible for a vampire to feel warm.

Emmett opened his eyes again, meeting Seth's surprised gaze. "Is that everything? About the imprint I mean?" Seth shook his head, his eyes locked on Emmett's face, not even blinking.

Seth shook his head again, snapping himself out of his apparent daze. "Um…no, it's like a wolf's imprint becomes their entire world, keeps them grounded. Nothing matters but the imprint's happiness. The wolf is completely devoted to keeping their imprint safe and happy, even if that means staying away from the imprint, which would eventually cause the wolf to die." He stopped there, staring into Emmett's eyes earnestly, willing him to understand. "I only managed to stay away for a week before I had to come and find you."

Emmett couldn't stand to hear the pain in Seth's voice, the longing for Emmett to accept what he was being told. Seth probably expected to be sent away to die, but Emmett had no intention of bringing this wolf any more pain. He wouldn't let his Little Wolf suffer another day without his imprint. Emmett was surprised by how protective he felt of the wolf. He didn't even know Seth, but all Emmett wanted to do was sooth all his pain away.

Emmett brought his free hand to Seth's face, caressing the smooth russet skin with his fingertips, his chest tightening at the way Seth automatically nuzzled into the touch. "I won't send you away, okay? It probably sounds strange, but I feel a connection to you too, albeit in a different way."

Seth lowered his eyes, picking at some loose debris on the ground. "I haven't told you everything yet," he admitted, looking as if he thought this next admission would change Emmett's mind.

His Little Wolf peeked up at him through long, sooty lashes, making Emmett want to hold him close and never let go. "I imprinted on someone else too, but he doesn't want me," Seth told him, voice tight. "It's another member in my pack, and he imprinted on me too, but he's been trying to ignore it, and I don't know if he'll ever come around. That's another thing I've never heard of, having two imprints, but it happened."

And then Emmett couldn't stop himself from pulling his Little Wolf into his lap, because Seth sounded close to tears, and Emmett couldn't stand to see him in so much pain. He didn't understand why he felt so strongly connected to the wolf, but he wasn't going to suppress his need to be close. Seth needed him, and Emmett wasn't going to make the wolf suffer another rejection.

***

Five days. Paul had successfully avoided his imprint for five whole days, and it was getting harder and harder to continue the torture. Because he wasn't hurting only Seth with his rejection, but himself, and it was agony to make himself ignore the pull.

And the worst part was, he felt terrible for making Seth suffer so much. Because Paul knew exactly what the separation was doing to him, and despite what everyone might think, he hated to be so cruel. He couldn't bring himself to change his mind, though, no matter how much pain he was causing himself and his imprint.

Even worse, Paul's respect for Seth had increased steadily over the past few days. The pain Seth must be feeling had never once showed in his expression when others were around to see it, nor had Seth allowed it to appear in his thoughts when he was a wolf. Seth had maintained his façade, even going so far as to repeat his blatant perusal any time he caught Paul alone.

It was maddening, and frustrating, but Paul couldn't make himself accept the imprint. He didn't want to alienate himself from the pack, and wouldn't imprinting on a male, on a pack-mate, do just that? He had to assume it would, because it had certainly never happened before.

He wondered if Seth had thought about that? About the fact that telling the pack about their imprint could lead to trouble.