Title: Of Imprinting And Such
Sequel to: Claiming the Wolf
Pairing: Jacob/Edward, Jacob/James
Warnings: SLASH and other unconventional pairings, AU
Summary: Six months later. When Sam tells Edward something in secret the vampire leaves Forks to find out for himself if it is true, and Jacob is left behind confused and with only Bella as company. Why did Edward really leave? What's going on with the pack? And one of the best questions yet...why is James back? What does this all have to do with Jacob's imprinting Edward?
Note: About the last chapter, in this AU vampires CAN be killed by humans----it's just VERY hard to do.
“So, dad wants to meet you guys.” Bella was saying, dressed in khakis, a camouflage jacket, and boots. “He wanted to know who Jacob and I have been spending so much time with, and I had to give him your names---and he wants to meet you all soon.”
They were all riding in Bella’s pickup, Jacob driving, James riding shotgun, and the girls in the backseat, giggling, gossiping, and now Bella was warning them that they were going to have to go to her house soon to meet the father.
James sighed, leaning back against his seat and looking ahead of him silently at the road. The back of the truck was filled with camping gear and supplies. This was the long weekend they’d be spending in Goat Falls, the first time since his injury that James would hunt for himself, and while he was loathed to admit it, he was nervous.
What if he couldn’t?
The vampire knew that it was just his nerves speaking, but ever since the mutiny and his injuries he’d lost a lot of self-esteem. He’d gone from the feared leader of a vicious coven of bloodsuckers to a pitiful charity case who only survived thanks to the mercy of his sister. It’d hurt his pride horribly, as had her obvious worry that he’d never be the same he was before the mutiny.
“I don’t do good with dads.” Victoria sounded wary. “Not even when I was alive—not even with my own dad.”
That was an understatement.
Their father had started out okay, he’d been legendary with his hunting and tracking skills (something James had inherited) but once they’d met and he’d started drinking and gambling he’d become a true bastard. He’d sold Victoria to an even bigger bastard who’d raped her and let his men do whatever they wanted with her too.
When James had stood up to him, tried to break her out of that hell, his father had warned the others of his intentions (afraid they’d think he was in on it) and they’d been waiting on James. He’d been beaten severely in front of the sister he’d tried rescuing. He truly didn’t remember the pain, but he remembered the terror in Victoria’s green eyes as she was held-back by some of those disgusting humans.
He’d kept his green eyes on hers throughout the whole ordeal, knowing he’d failed as he saw the horror in her eyes as she cried for him. And then he’d been taken to the wilderness and had been wounded fatally and left to die or be eaten alive by the coyotes.
He remembered going into shock, his body bleeding out, burning up, dying slowly. And he remembered a wolf. It was russet in color, standing by his side throughout the whole ordeal, licking his wounds until they’d closed up on their own, but by that time James had already lost too much blood.
The wolf stayed with him some hours, driving away any animal that would feast upon the human reeking of blood and death. It stayed with him and warmed him with its pelt when night fell and with it the bone-chilling cold.
It stayed with him until a shadow of a mortal appeared, but by that time James was almost gone, given over to his delusions and hallucinations. He remembered his shirt being torn open and pain unlike anything he’d ever felt on his shoulder. He’d been too weak to struggle, to do anything, until the creature, which couldn’t be human, finally let go, and left.
The wolf watched the creature go and turned to look at him until he couldn’t see from the pain.
For three days he trembled and his body wracked in pain, and three days the wolf stayed by his side, until on the third day the pain was gone and he was different. He opened his eyes and saw the world with a new light, could tasteit.
And he hungered.
It was only when he was on his feet that the wolf left his side, running away, as if its work was complete.
James had watched the beautiful creature until it disappeared, and then he’d headed back into town at the fall of night. He’d noticed the way his skin shone oddly in the day, and while it intrigued him he didn’t wish the first thing they’d see to be glitter.
In the cover of darkness he visited the town and descended upon Marcus’ slime hole, the screams of his sister and the lecherous laughter of the men only fueling his fury. It’d been a slaughterhouse by the time he was finished, the only ones alive were Marcus and Victoria.
His sister had been a battered, traumatized shell, hands trembling as they tried to hold the shreds of her clothes over her bruised and mistreated body.
He’d given her a choice.
He could kill Marcus and their father to avenge her and then leave her to live her life in town, or he could change her as he’d been done and she could do it herself.
And a little light returned to those eyes as she forced herself to her feet and told him if anyone would kill those monsters, it would be her.
He’d taken her, and his two hostages to the wilderness, the men tied together, and he bit her. It was hard to keep from just killing her, but his will was stronger than his bloodlust. Instead of giving into temptation to just drain her dry he followed his instincts and bit her as had been done to him, somehow managing to pull away, leaving his sister screaming in agony but with the promise of a new beginning.
And when she was turned, when she stood up that third day, she was as him, and her first feed was Marcus. She was full enough to torture their father for the things he’d allowed those men do to her, had helped them do to her, for the trust broken. And then she fed viciously.
From that moment forth they’d decided that humans were the real monsters, and they’d gone off on their own, attracting vampires all around because of the tales of his viciousness and his unparallel senses.
And then it’d all changed when they’d come to this insignificant little town and he’d met Jacob Black.
Everything had happened once he’d met him, and he’d wanted to hate the wolf but couldn’t. Not when Jacob had saved them, not when Jacob had taken them under his wing, not when Jacob smiled at him and something odd happened in James’s stomach at the sight.
He hated himself for how weak he was, for the way the wolf saw him, battered and broken. He’d been a shell for so long, and he’d been ashamed for the wolf to see him like that. He hadn’t even been able to walk properly, bumping into things he should have easily been able to avoid, and such.
He’d wanted to refuse the offer Jacob had given him to train with him and spar, to help him recuperate his physical strength and his waning senses, but James had pushed back his pride and agreed. It’d been a constant blow to his pride as he was shown over and over again how low he’d fallen, how easily the wolf defeated him time after time.
But Jacob never sneered at his failings, only encouraged him and when there was criticism it was constructive, aimed to help him improve himself and not highlight his shortcomings. James’ pride had only survived the lessons intact thanks to Jacob’s thoughtful way of instructing, and in time he started to enjoy the lessons, the sparring, the testing of his senses as he found himself more coordinated, his strength returning, and his senses sharpening to the degree they’d once been.
James was strong now, stronger than he was truly showing. He didn’t know why he kept the extent of his progress hidden from Jacob, though he had a suspicion that it was because he feared that the moment he was deemed healthy enough he and his sister would be dismissed and expected to leave.
And James found that neither he nor Victoria truly wanted that.
Sure, that’d been the deal, but the vampires didn’t want to fulfill their end.
They liked it with the wolf and their human pet.
It wasn’t that James wasn’t at times conflicted with Jacob’s Alpha-ness. James had always been his own leader, never took orders from anyone after his father’s death, so it sore him sometimes that he was under the control of the wolf. He’d been testing his boundaries lately, especially this last month, seeing how far he could push on any subject before Jacob snarled and pushed back.
What’d surprised him was that unlike James himself as a leader, Jacob was fairly lax. He wasn’t very controlling, still sticking to the One Rule and that was mostly it.
Oh, yeah, and no one could say anything bad against Edward Cullen.
James growled deep in his throat at the reminder of the other vampire in his wolf’s life. The sound was hoarse and painful, as his voice was still suffering. He’d been able to form few sentences, but it hurt his throat like hell to do so.
Jacob had told him not to talk too much and strain his voice, and he’d bought him some syrup that was supposed to soothe throats. It was little things like that that made James able to overlook the order not to use the voice he’d lost for so long.
“Don’t be ridiculous. I didn’t do that.” Jacob made a face at Bella through the rearview mirror. “I wonder how he’s doing though. I mean, he just disappeared.”
Victoria looked bored.
They were talking about their student friend, the one that had the name of a bird or a city or something. He’d disappeared around the first of November, and Jacob and Bella had been shocked and worried at the news.
“I hope he’s okay.”
James’ gaze turned to Jacob and he observed the young wolf. He smiled as he saw the boy run his hands through his short hair. He’d gotten it cut at the beginning of the month but still seemed unused to its length, sometimes still reaching for a long lock that wasn’t there anymore.
To be truthful, the vampire had liked Jacob’s hair, but he’d heard Bella telling Victoria when the vampiress commented on it that it was one of the things that Edward liked the most about Jacob. So it’d had to go.
He’d been surprised at how easy it was to convince Jacob to cut it, since Bella said the wolf didn’t cut his hair because Edward loved it so much.
It gave James a little hope, but he kept it in check.
“We’re almost there.” Jacob announced, taking the corner.
They were almost at Goat Falls…
They were going to be alone, in the wilderness, hunting and enjoying themselves in a place that promised to have no cell reception---thus no calls from Edward or anyone else to ruin the moment.
The thought was enough to make James smirk.
Jacob turned to James and grinned. “Nervous?”
The vampire made up his face at that, refusing to admit to the butterflies in his stomach and his doubts.
The grin turned more wolfish. “That’s what I thought.”
Edward sighed as he sat down.
Once again it’d been useless for him to go and try talk to Bartholomew. The vampire refused to see Edward, much less talk to him and tell him what he needed to know.
For two months now he’d been going every single day to the top steps of that large castle, had been requesting an audience with one of the oldest living vampires, and every day he’d been turned away. He didn’t understand it, didn’t understand why Bartholomew wouldn’t even grant him an audience.
The vampire was getting sick of this, sick of asking, of begging. He missed Jacob too much. Edward just wanted to break into that castle, grab Bartholomew by the throat, and somehow force the answer out of him.
Bartholomew had been the only vampire he’d heard of who’d been alive during the time of the female vampire and werewolf couple, and if the ancient texts Carlisle and Esme had uncovered were to be trusted, he’d been a close friend of both females.
If there was anyone who could tell Edward what had truly happened that fateful day when mate had turned against mate, it was this vampire---but he refused to even see him.
In backup capacity, Esme and Carlisle were still studying the ancient scripts in the dungeons of the Vatican that they had access to thanks to Carlisle being a friend of many of the priests in charge (something Edward was going to have to get Carlisle to tell him about later when this was all over), Rosalie and Emmet were still trying to track down the nomadic tribe in Africa that had a witchdoctor famed for his ability to summon glimpses of the past, and Alice and Jasper were still in Singapore.
The latter had found their witchdoctor, who was said to be able to grant those of pure intentions a wish. But the problem with that was that Alice and Jasper had to prove their pure intentions, and that meant communing with the witchdoctor in the deepest of the jungles of Singapore’s rainforest.
With no cell reception.
Alice had asked him before they lost reception to tell Bella and let her know why they wouldn’t be able to call her, but Edward kept forgetting to tell Jacob to inform his friend of this. Their conversations were few and far too short for the vampire’s taste, and he was beginning to get a bit desperate.
He didn’t know how much longer he could hold out on this mission.
And he was beginning to wonder if knowing the truth was truly worth it.
Trying the number once more, Bella growled and threw her phone away in anger as she got the ‘the number you have called can’t picked up right now’ answering machine. She’d been trying to call Alice and Jasper for so long now and the phone either rang and rang or it went to that annoying message.
Was she bothering them? Was this their way of getting her to leave them alone? Had they realized her little crush and thought this was the best way to let her down gently?
Well, consider me let down gently. She rubbed at a tear viciously, refusing to cry. She was going to view the hunt, this was something she’d both dreaded and looked forwards to.
Hugging herself she reached for the nighttime goggles she’d snatched from her father’s things and looked up when Victoria’s bare feet scrunched the ground before her.
“Hey Bellsy. Ready?” She asked, sending a little glance behind her at James and Jacob. The wolf was stripping in the bushes, half covered by the shrubbery, and James was pretending to not watch.
Bella nodded, standing up.
Reaching over, Victoria pulled Bella up onto her back and took off towards the highest tree in their area. She climbed up the noble pine in a flash, dodging branches as she went until she was standing on the highest branch that was thick enough to support their weight.
Lowering Bella carefully, the redhead helped her sit down comfortably and then secured the rope around the harness the human was wearing, tying it to the tree. That way Bella could look down at them and see the miles around them as she watched the hunt, and still be safe. If she fell she’d only fall a short distance before the harness she was wearing and the rope attached to it left her swinging effortlessly in the air.
Kinda like short-distance bungee jumping.
“You know…” Bella whispered, looking down at the goggles that’d allow her to see the hunt during the dark hours. “If I was a vampire I wouldn’t have to be such a burden. I—I could join in the hunt.”
Victoria paused from where she’d been about to descend, curls falling in her face as she turned to look at the human. “Jacob wouldn’t like that.”
“He wouldn’t have a say in it.” Bella whispered again. “It’s my life.”
The vampiress paused, tilting her head slightly before frowning. “You don’t know what it means to be a vampire. Don’t let some romanticized views of it sway your decision.” She flipped her curls behind her shoulder. “I’m not saying I don’t love being a vampire, I’d be lying if I were. I love this.” Her eyes darkened. “But you give up a lot when you change. I knew I was giving him up, but I did it anyway, and sometimes he’s the only one I regret leaving behind.”
Bella’s eyes widened at the confession. “You were in love with someone before you were turned?”
Victoria looked up, surprised. “Yes. He—he was the sheriff of the town we used to live in. He was married and had a couple of children, and he didn’t love me back, but I loved him. He was the best man I’d ever met, kind, sweet, and with a heart of gold.” Her smile was sad. “He was killed after I was turned.”
“I don’t have anyone like that.” And it hurt Bella to admit that, the image of Alice and Jasper rushing through her mind but she squashed it viciously. “Victoria, please.”
The vampiress looked conflicted for a second, before she shook her head. “Sorry Bella, I can’t. Rule Number One.” And with that she descended before Bella could try and convince her otherwise.
Frowning, Bella realized that she wouldn’t get any different answer from James either. Neither vampire would dare turn her because they didn’t want Jacob mad at them.
But she didn’t have much time to sulk because the hunt had begun. The human girl leaned forwards in the tree and watched below as the vampires and wolf stalked the woods, searching for prey large and strong enough to be a worthy rival, following James, as had been Jacob’s command.
This was to test James, his senses, his strength, and it was also Jacob’s way of helping James see how strong and good he’d gotten and help him with his deteriorated self esteem. This hunt would show James that he was strong once more and could fend for himself.
Damn Jake for being so pushy and dastardly conniving, but he was only trying to look out for them in his own way.
And they all knew it.
It was one of the reasons why they liked him so much.
Bella honestly wasn’t sure how she felt about that. She knew Edward loved Jacob, had always been a hundred percent in support of their relationship, but Edward wasn’t here anymore---and James was.
And James was obviously falling hard for the wolf—if he hadn’t completely fallen already.
And Jacob was attracted on some subconscious level too.
And Bella only wanted Jacob happy.
She watched as James caught wind of something way before the others and took off silently, gracefully, Jacob and Victoria shared an approving look before hurrying after him, suddenly coming across the huge grizzly that’d been downwind from them and thus they hadn’t been able to smell.
“Be careful you guys.” Bella whispered, tightening the rope on her harness so it held tight as she leaned forward to get a better look, eyes glued on the night-vision goggles. “It’s huge!”
The three circled the angered beast, seeming to toy with it as the creature struck out, enraged and a bit unconcerned despite its desperate situation.
It charged on Victoria and when she rebuffed it easily it seemed disoriented, reevaluating, before taking off at high speed, obviously deciding better to flee.
And the others took chase.
Deep in her stomach Bella felt herself growing queasy, feeling bad for the bear.
Maybe I don’t have what it takes to be a vampire.
The vampires and wolf ran gracefully along the clumsy-in-comparison bear, easily maneuvering it to the spot they’d designated as the killing area beforehand. They cornered it easily, the bear roaring, swinging at them, desperate.
And then as one they attacked, and the bear was no match.
It was beautiful, terrifying, entrancing, sickening, and so many different things Bella couldn’t even pronounce. She forced herself to watch until it was over, watched the moment the bear’s body went still, watched the feeding, watched when they finally pulled away, sated, covered in blood.
She was sickened and exhilarated all at the same time.
She’d finally been let into the inner world of the vampire and the wolf, seen the monster inside each of them, and it didn’t scare her.
When the others finished and Victoria waved in her direction, Bella smiled and waved back, genuine despite the way her body trembled slightly in shock.
She had a lot to think about.
A lot to decide.
Victoria was right.
She didn’t know the truth about being a vampire, and she couldn’t make a decision this important so hastily.
But Bella was beginning to see the truth of the vampires…
…and while it was scary as hell, and at times a little sickening, it didn’t mean the appeal had lessened.
Bathed and changed, Jacob laughed as he watched Bella slap Victoria’s butt with the piece of wood she was using as a weapon when the vampiress lost hers. Victoria had continued teaching Bella how to fight, reigning in her strength to make it more even, and Bella, while clumsy in everything else, seemed to have taken to the lessons very good.
“Loser!” James croaked in his hoarse, painful voice, taunting his sister.
Victoria, rubbing her smarting bottom, stuck her tongue out at her brother before picking up her makeshift staff and starting the match again. “This time, you’re going down.”
Bella laughed. “Sore loser!”
“My butt’s the only thing sore here.” Victoria laughed as well as they started once again.
The males laughed before sharing a smile, and Jacob quickly looked away, feeling that blush again, reaching for a lock of hair and wincing when he remembered how he’d cut it off.
Sure, it made sparring and such easier, but damn, he missed his long hair!
“Train?” James rasped, looking at Jacob oddly.
The wolf looked back at him curiously, wondering what the look in his eyes meant. “You want to do it now?”
For some reason James smirked at that as he nodded.
“Ok.” Flipping onto his feet, Jacob rolled his shoulders and neck, warming his muscles, eager. He liked sparring with James.
It started slow, circling each other, intent one of the other, not noticing that Victoria had defeated Bella and the girls were now watching them.
Usually James waited for Jacob to make the first move, but this time he sprung out rapid as a lightning bolt and his shoulder made impact with Jacob, knocking the air out of his system, the shock sending him tumbling to the ground, James following.
And in record, thanks to his surprise attack and temporarily leaving James breathless, James had beaten the wolf. He straddled the wolf’s hips and leaned over him, pinning his arms over his head, their faces painfully close, that smirk deepening on the vampire’s face.
Shocked, confused, heart racing, Jacob looked up into James’ face not exactly sure what was happening or why he wasn’t trying to push him off harder.
And then his eyes widened in horror and he blanched as he realized he was getting hard.
He needed to get the vampire off before he realized how Jacob’s body was reacting to this!
James smirk grew for some reason as he leaned forwards, the action causing his lower body to grin harder into Jacob’s humiliating problem, his face closer than before.
Jacob blinked. He must have meant ‘give up’. Give up the match. And while Jacob hardly ever surrendered it was of great urgency that he got James off of him. It was only because of some miracle that the vampire hadn’t noticed his hard-on pressing against him.
“Okay, I give up, you won the match.” Jacob then pushed up harder and managed to get James off of him before sitting up and placing his hands as casually as he could on his lap without drawing attention.
“You okay, Jake?” Bella asked, sounding worried as he closed his eyes at the dull pain of his throbbing.
“Yeah.” Jacob nodded, clearing his throat to keep his voice normal.
God, he was embarrassed.
When it finally went down Jacob went to his sleeping bag and sat down on it. It’d been so long since he and Edward---and Edward was gone---and he was teenager…it was to be expected that he’d reacted that way.
It had to be.
So deep in his thoughts, Jacob didn’t notice James smirking knowingly at him as the girls sat closer to the fire and chatted deep into the night.