Chapter 1- Changes - Jacob
Warm chocolate shimmering eyes met mine and I felt perceptibly warmer; like that was possible. The crashing waves and lazy cries of evening gulls provided a nice background white noise to this moment.
“What did you say?” I asked because I missed what she said, lost in what may very well be the last perfect summer day left at La Push.
“I said I hate talking so much,” said the center of my existence.
“Well, it’s good practice. For where we’re going…” I trailed off. I tried to avoid talking about the move. I wasn’t looking forward to this change and I knew I couldn't keep that emotion off my face. I didn’t want to ruin this for her.
“Do you think it’s weird that I want to go with mom and dad?” she forced herself to speak instead of showing me. I knew she was feeling self-conscious about how much she didn’t like being separated from her parents. But after everything when she was a kid, it made perfect sense. I smiled an effortless warm smile.
“Are you kidding, I want to go with them too. I don’t like being separated either.” And the thing is, it wasn’t really a lie. I never imagined my family would be this way. But now that I was here, it made perfect sense.
I felt my phone buzz and knew what it said without checking. Things were really tricky, when all your closest friends and family were supernatural, including you yourself. So how did normal family conventions fit in? How did you tell your 17-year-old, but really, 7-year-old daughter to come home because it was getting too late? Oh, I know! Text her 23-year-old, but really, almost 30-year-old boyfriend. I always knew it was going to get complicated with our frozen aging, and here I was living it. At some point, age becomes entirely pointless, and we were getting close. I have the body of a full-grown adult even though I just technically left my teenage years behind. She has the mind and body of a 17-year-old girl even though she’s only been alive technically for 7 years. Yeah, we’re weird alright.
“I don’t know why he does that,” Ness said. “It’s like, because I’m me they can’t talk to me about something as simple as a curfew. Like I’ll be offended.” The skin between her eyebrows crinkles in that adorable way her mother’s used to when she was human.
“It’s because they don’t want to smother you, after everything. It’s almost like you’re a mini adult,” I said kissing her hair. “Plus, he enjoys irritating me too much,” which was also entirely true. It was the most he could do now that we all had an eternity to be with each other. It wasn’t like he could order me away; nothing could keep us apart, now that time would stretch out forever.
“I don’t think so,” she said, shaking her head. I smiled and let her think she was right. No point. She could never understand what it was like 6 years ago when we had to figure this mess out. And what a mess it was. I was like a bad penny Edward just couldn’t shake. He’d have to settle with tolerating me. Forever. I smiled widely.
“Ok well, let’s get going.” I said getting to my feet in one easy motion. She rose just as gracefully. “You wanna race back?” I asked trying to cheer her up. What a silly thought. She half smiled.
“No, I think I’ll ride. I’ve learned my lesson.” Then she leaned in to kiss me and the entire world seemed to have slowed down to a stop. She pulled away quickly. It was only meant to be a short kiss. We talked about this before. I couldn’t get worked up over every kiss. Even though in reality, every kiss made me feel the deepest ache for her, a powerful loving need that no one but an imprinted werewolf could understand. I shook my head a little to clear it, then stepped behind a tree to de-clothe. I tied my shorts to my ankle and then sank down, effortlessly letting the heat transform me into a russet brown wolf. I shook out my fur and stepped out to rejoin her, this time on all four paws.
She reached out to run her fingers through my fur. No matter how many times I phased around her, she always liked to do that. I licked her face and she recoiled. Then I barked a laugh and started running. An instant later Ness landed between my shoulder blades. A perfectly timed leap. Just a regular old night. Only a lot more talking, it was slightly odd. But I think I liked it.
As we ran like a shadow through the trees, she continued the conversation but switching to easy yes or no questions. She also used her gift again, and was profoundly relieved to do so.
Are you worried about leaving your pack behind? she asked wordlessly. I didn’t respond at all because the answer was no and it was true. Seth was at college and Leah moved away a long time ago. We still spoke in wolf form every now and then, but it was becoming less frequent. Quill was spending all his free time with Claire, now 9, and almost out of elementary school. I felt bad for him. Middle school was on the horizon and everyone knew it was a tricky time. Embry still hadn’t imprinted himself but he did have a girlfriend. They wouldn’t miss me. And it wasn’t like La Push would be in danger. Sam’s pack was here too.
You know Sam’s busy with the baby, she thought, her mind wandering to Sam as well. Doesn’t that make you alpha-in-charge? It was true that Sam was busy as a new father, but there were more than enough able-bodied qualified wolves to protect La Push. So, I shrugged. I knew she was only asking me these things because she felt guilty. She knew that whatever she decided I would need to go along with. Because I couldn’t bear to be away from her for more than a few days at a time. I understood her guilt, and nothing I could say would stop her worrying. It was just part of her. Something definitely inherited.
I have to admit I am excited we’re going. I’m excited about being in a new place for a change. Now it was my turn to feel guilty. Nothing was keeping her here. She could go anywhere she wanted at any time. Not even the sun could hold her back. But she knew I felt obligated to live with my pack. It was the job I’d been born to do. So, she stayed to be with me. I’m sorry I didn’t mean it that way. She said after a beat of silence on her part. I shrugged again. It was true. I was holding her back. So, I was glad I agreed to go. It wasn’t for forever. We could always come back. We were kind of silly, really. One big happy family going off to college. If we were normal, it would be seriously weird. And I technically wasn’t going to college yet. I was along for the ride, but didn’t know what I’d do yet. Money certainly wasn’t a problem anymore.
I’m excited that you’ll have the chance to figure out what you want to do. She thought, and it was 100% sincere. I could taste it through the thought. She wouldn’t have minded if I never wanted to go to school or get a job. If I wanted to be a La Push bum, guarding the tribe and hanging with the pack. And I’d essentially done that for 6 years. But it was true that even though I had my family and the love of my life, something else was missing. I have a purpose; pack alpha and defender of the Quileutes, but I don’t have a hobby. She pointed this out to me one lazy night back at Billy’s, watching TV on the couch. And she’d made it clear that being in love with her couldn’t count. And the thought stuck with me for a while. I like fixing cars, but I didn't have to be a greasy mechanic when there wasn’t a great need to be. When your family had crazy deep pockets, things changed.
So, I thought about it, and realized I just needed to try new things. It was the only way to learn what I like. I twitched my ear to signal a yes back to her. We were almost there. I could hear the river and the sickly-sweet vampire scent was growing stronger in the air. I slowed as I saw the lights of the cottage.
Love you, Jake. She thought and it was the sweetest most genuine thought. She kissed my head and jumped off. I poked her on the back with my nose. She tangled her fingers in my fur again for the briefest moment and then went inside. We didn’t need to discuss tomorrow’s plans. We already knew. I heard footsteps walking toward me and Edward came out of the house.
“Hey,” he said.
Hey, I thought. You’re going to have to talk to her. She’s figured out that you text me to end our dates. She doesn’t understand why you guys won't give her a curfew. He raised an eyebrow at me. Hey, I didn’t tell her! I didn’t even check my phone. She just figured it out when the phone buzzed.
“It’s strange for me, this new concept of you dating her. And I’m trying to navigate everything I’m supposed to do as her father,” he said looking frustrated, but more at himself than me.
You knew it was coming. I thought before I could control myself. That’s what I sometimes enjoyed about these conversations. These were thoughts, so it wasn’t like I could be blamed for having them.
“Yes, you can,” he said but smiled anyway.
Yeah, I still hate this. I thought, irritated about the mindreading, all these years later. He changed the subject.
“I caught the end of your conversation. It sounds like you’re on board with the move,” he said.
Well, I’m getting there. I want her to be happy.
“That’s all you ever want which, trust me, I like as her father. But I just wanted to talk to you to make sure this is really alright with you. If it isn’t, Bella and I can figure something else out.”
Oh man, this makes it even worse. Everyone’s going change course for me? I don’t think so. Change is good even it isn’t immediately welcome. I thought, hoping I believed it was true. Do you still want to go? I asked him, suddenly wondering if he was just going along with it for them.
“Certainly. Bella and I discussed it before the wedding. I think it’s good for her. Moving on with life and doing something new. We waited and waited for retaliation. But you can only do so much of that. I think it’s become an unhealthy mindset, waiting for attack.” I nodded because I also felt it. The first month after the Volturi left I had to sleep at the Cullen’s every night, because I was terrified it wasn’t really over. Rosalie particularly loved it.
You think you guys will get too cool for me eventually? All of you wearing your matching Dartmouth gear? I tried not to think sourly, but somehow, it’s all I manage.
“Jake, you can go too if you want.”
You guys give me enough cash as it is, I think. But I really don’t want to go to that college. It’s too high for me, no matter how many vampire tutors I may have. Edward heard all of this, which saved time. I hated repeating myself.
“You’ll find something in New Hampshire to do. You and Nessie will have a lot more freedom than we will.” It’s true. We weren't limited by daylight. “I’m not worried. Like my daughter said, I’m interested in what you want to do.”
You’re always fishing around up there and know all my thoughts; what do you think my brain wants to do? I think, and I’m surprised by how much worry is attached to it.
“Don’t you know your own mind?” He asks with a laugh. I turn back toward the woods.
Nope. I think as I start to cut back through the trees, running home to La Push. But I don’t get far.
“Jake?” I hear and then there’s dull thud as she lands close to me on the damp forest floor. This is someone I actually have to speak with to communicate. As much as I appreciate this, it also means I need to phase. I coughed a bark and she knew I wanted her to wait. Five minutes later I’m wearing my ratty shorts again as I walk out to meet her.
“Hey Bells, what’s up?” The moonlight falls on Bella’s face, making her golden eyes eerily glow and her paper-white face shine.
“I heard you talking with Edward,” she says strolling next to me, heading toward La Push. She’s considerate. She knows I want to go home, so we keep moving. Just at a much slower rate.
“Yeah, lots of secret stuff,” I say, deadpan. She ignores it, because after all this time, she’s more than used to it.
“We’re going to look at the house this weekend, move our things over,” she said, with her ringing musical voice. It was getting harder to remember how she used to sound.
“Huh, when I think about you guys, I don’t imagine you packing or moving around boxes. Won’t you just get new stuff?” After I’ve said it, I realize it’s a bit fresh but she seems to be thoughtful about the comment.
“That’s true. I’m thinking about certain books of mine. Renesmee’s stuff, so I guess not so much.” There’s a beat of silence. “You don’t have much stuff either do you Jake?” And the truth of it is no, I don’t. I think it’s left over from when I lived wolf without anything possessions for so long. I liked the freedom of it.
“We certainly don’t have to worry about clothes,” she added lightly. I laugh; there was no truer thing spoken. I was certainly her toughest nut to crack. For a few years, I downright refused to let Alice choose anything for me to wear. Some sort of silly werewolf ego thing, or maybe just me being an ass, but eventually I had let her choose clothes for me, mainly because Ness was in on it. I had to admit she gave it real thought. She picked athletic light clothes for me that looked better than the ratty T’s and sweatpants I wore, but weren’t too fancy either.
Some of the fabric was so stretchy I could just tie a knot with the clothes themselves to my leg if I needed to phase on the fly. And I knew I would want to bring some of it with me, but knowing her, it was already over there.
“Are you guys sure about me living in the house?” I asked, pleased that for the moment, my thoughts were my own. It was, supposedly, a huge house with plenty of bedrooms. And If I lived there, I’d also be with Ness, but I doubted they would let me sleep in her bedroom with her right down the hall. I wondered if that’s why they asked me to live with them, so they could police us. But I could be wrong.
“I know you’ll want your own space eventually. And it’s ok if you want to get your own house or apartment when we get there. I just…” she trailed off and I imagined the things she would say. “I’m not ready to have Renesmee gone all the time with you at your place,” she said, predictably Bella.
“Well, she’s old enough to go to college Bells, I feel like that’s when you get freedom,” I said, keeping my voice level.
“She is but she isn’t. She’s 7,” she said to me for what felt like the 100th time. But she was wrong. Developmentally she was 17, one year later than when I stopped aging.
“But she’s not Bella, and you know that. If you want me to stay in the house and be good I will, but I know her and she’s going to get frustrated.” There’re a few moments of silence as trees pass by, moonlight peeking through every few steps.
“If you’re worried about...well, you know, stuff, you don’t need to be,” I said feeling suddenly very awkward and glad that we’re both facing forward.
“I’m actually not really. I’m just sad she won’t be around me as much. Other parents have 17 years to make peace with that idea,” she said wistfully.
“She’s decided to go to college when you are and where you are, it’s clear she still wants to be around you.” I supply. “I’m not going to take her away from you. I’d just like to be able to be alone with her from time to time where our thoughts belong to ourselves.” I said. She sighed.
“Yeah, I do admit I enjoy that. Too bad I couldn’t have passed that gene on to her. Ok Jake. We’ll get another place,” she said turning to look at me.
“You don’t need to yet,” I said. “Give it some time. I know she wants to live in the house for a while.” And it’s true.
“Thanks Jake,” she said before flitting back through the trees, ending the conversation for now. Back in wolf form, I pondered my fast approaching future. Quill’s consciousness popped into my head and he was silent for a moment, curious about the direction of my thoughts.
You know what they say about eavesdroppers. I thought dryly.
So, you’re living with vampires now? He asked but his tone was light, teasing.
Yeah, I'll lose my sense of smell in a week. I said. But he always knew this was the path for me, until Nessie and I got our own place. You just drop off Claire? I thought conversationally.
Yeah. He sighed heavily. He had been very wistful lately, sad that Claire was almost a teenager. Only about 3-4 years out.
Think of it like this. I ventured. You went through your wolf changes in like, two days, right? She just needs to change into her adult self, and it's also pretty unpleasant. He caught on.
It's just going to take her years to get there. He thought quietly.
Yeah. Hormones. Something more shocking than any wolf gene.
You're telling me he thought, worried about the future. There were flashes of his thoughts and it was my turn to pry a little. He kept imagining groups of teenage boys.
She’ll never replace you bro, I thought. It's a phase. You're the one for her. She's just too young to realize.
She knows I'm a werewolf. And not aging. And I love her. He thought, thoughts brimming with emotion.
She may know that but she doesn't get it yet. Her brain's not there yet. She'll know when she's 18. Have faith. I said, and he knew my advice was fair. I was in the same boat. But it was easier for me. Renesmee was supernatural as well. We share our secrets together. Bond over them. She's also not in school either.
The Cullens ended up holding a mock graduation for her and I. We both took the GED after many years with vampire teachers. Carlisle taught me after I lost my temper with Edward, always telling me I was wrong before I even gave an answer; stupid bloodsucker. Sometimes Ness would join me in Carlisle's “class.” It was a process we did together so that I would get my shit together. I never did go back to school. Of course, she passed her GED test with a perfect score. Miraculously, I managed to pass too.
Emmett was the commencement speaker, which was ridiculous. Alice designed golden over-the-top graduation robes that she and Ness wrestled me into. For a small vampire, she was fairly strong. Carlisle handed us our diplomas, which Edward made. They looked legit, similar to the IDs he also forged from time to time. In addition to my diploma, I received a second diploma in recognition of dumbassery. Rosalie's work. I remembered how Ness’s bell-like laughter echoed off the trees. The best part was our graduation gifts; although mine was too fancy to drive on the reservation.
I ended up being the one to teach Ness how to drive. So far, it was my favorite thing we’d ever done together. Recently, we’d been riding our motorcycles on the reservation, to Edward’s dismay. Occasionally Bella would join us, she still enjoyed it. Although we were careful never to ride them when Charlie was visiting. It was incredible how much Charlie had managed to take in stride these past 6 years. Once he realized how fast Ness was growing, he must have figured she’d be a teenager in no time.
One afternoon Ness and I were chilling with Charlie, watching a game and he’d turned to me when Renesmee had left the room and said, “She’s why Bella almost died isn’t she? It’s because she was pregnant?” I blinked and stared at him saying nothing, stunned. He knew I wouldn’t confirm or deny anything, but he nodded to himself and continued watching TV. Explaining my relationship with her eventually was the hardest part for him to comprehend. I mean, at one point I did love his daughter, her mother. Even I recognized how the whole thing seemed pretty messed up. I eventually ended up using a werewolf example to help me.
“Have you ever met Emily, Sam’s finance?” I asked him the day after the topic had come up. He paused in thought over the lasagna Bella had baked for us.
“Yeah, Sam’s very close to her,” he said, which was quite an understatement.
“Sometimes my kind gets that way, it’s sort of part of the package.” I said evasively. There were several moments of chewing and I could almost hear Charlie’s gears turning as he thought about what my words could mean.
“Ahh...” he said when Renesmee came into the room with a martyred expression. She didn’t really enjoy eating human food. I looked up to see her and smiled, and there must have been enough evidence on my face for him to get the picture. We finished eating and I helped Charlie do the dishes. He laughed suddenly, his face turning almost red.
“What?” I said, bemused.
“I’m just thinking. About Bells. She must have loved that,” he choked. I had to hand it to him, he knew his daughter. To this day, he still hadn’t learned what she really was though. Which was good; it was best for him to never know.
Quill’s impatience for my drifting thoughts caught up to me. I said when are you leaving? He repeated. I must not have heard it.
I think next week. I thought, surprised by the proximity. Quill felt disappointed. He wasn’t eager for me to go. Hey, I’ll still visit. And it’s not permanent.
I guess we still grow up, even if we aren’t aging. He thought wisely. We met up in the woods. He had been running from the East.
Yeah, I thought as we raced through the trees, eventually parting ways to go to our houses. I guess so