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?
Looking around him warily, James didn’t know what to feel when the only one who appeared before him was the slender Clearwater. When he’d gotten the text asking him to come to the meeting place alone and without Jacob he’d been alert and ready for an ambush any minute, but other than Clearwater’s scent he couldn’t pick up that of anyone else, be he or she human, vampire, or werewolf.
“What do you want?” James asked, a little impatient. He knew Jacob, knew the wolf would come to see him to talk about the new situation now that Cullen had returned, and he didn’t want to waste his time here with this wolf if it could be helped.
The wolf before him was silent for a moment before shifting, changing into bashful nakedness. “I wasn’t exactly sure you’d come, or without Jacob. You might have though it was a trap.”
The vampire raised an eyebrow. “I would have been able to sense any trap you or your pack could ever think of springing on me.” The thought that the wolf might have expected otherwise was insulting.
“Yeah.” The Native American nodded in agreement. “You’ve got amazing tracking skills.”
Okay, so he wasn’t so insulted now, but he was still annoyed. “What do you want, Clearwater? And why didn’t you want Jacob here? What is it that you wanted to tell me that he couldn’t hear?”
Brown eyes lowered to the ground. “It isn’t that Jacob couldn’t hear it, I just thought it concerned you more than him.”
Now things were getting intriguing. “How so?”
“The other day the pack got into a scuffle with a small coven of vampires.” The informer announced, shifting uneasily on bare, dirty yet slender feet. “It was led by that vampire that’s out to get you. The French one. Laurence or something.”
“Laurent.” James went stiff immediately. “They were here in Forks? When? Why weren’t we told?” His eyes were pitch black. He wanted to tear that mutinous bastard apart with his own hands!
“They were stealthy about it, looking around. They had a new member with them, a fledgling, only a couple of months since he was turned.” Clearwater’s lips turned down slightly. “He’s extremely strong and vicious. Seems to know Forks well, he was their guide.”
“Guide?” James grumbled deep in his throat, still angered.
Clearwater nodded, pulling a strand of black hair behind a small, shell-like ear. “I don’t know if it was you they were looking for or something else, but they were leaving Forks when we found them and attacked them. They’d managed to knock out some humans hiking in the mountains and would have eaten them if we hadn’t caught onto their scent.” There was a pause. “They were strong, especially Laury and the new guy.”
“Laurent.” James corrected, feeling a little irritated with the Native American, but tried his best to keep it in check. “Did you manage to get a name?”
“No.” There was a shake of the head. “But he did tell us to give you a message. Sam forbad us from telling you, but--.”
“Not the first time you’ve disobeyed a direct order from your Alpha, is it, Clearwater?” James asked, leaning against a tree, folding his arms over his chest. “I thought it was supposed to be impossible for you wolves. I mean, I’m not a dog but sometimes it’s near impossible to go against anything Jake says.”
There was silence.
A little bored, James looked up at the sky and sighed. “It’s impressive is all I’m saying. Especially for someone likeyou.”
Anger darkened those brown eyes. “What is that supposed to mean?”
“You’re a little petite thing.” James responded truthfully, not taunting. “You don’t look like much.”
Fury had those brown eyes almost black. “Well don’t judge a book by its cover! I may be thin but I’m strong! I can take down a leech! I have taken down leeches!”
James snorted in amusement. “’Course you have.”
“I have!” A step was taken towards him, slim body trembling from repressed anger.
“Look at you. One little jab at your pride, when I wasn’t even meaning it in a bad way, and you’re already fighting the shift.” Disgust covered James’ face as he shook his head. “I take it back. You’re not impressive at all. You’re just a little puppy wanting to fight with the big dogs.”
“WHY WON’T YOU RECOGNIZE ME AS AN EQUAL?!?” The light voice was now snarling.
“Because you aren’t.” James responded. “When you prove it to me, then you’ll have my respect. Till then you’ll only be a pretty little puppy.” He shook his head. “And don’t care so much what others think about you, it only makes you vulnerable.”
“I don’t care what--!” And then all the fight left that body and thin shoulders sagged as a sigh escaped opened lips. “You’re such a bastard.”
The vampire only smirked at that, not denying or agreeing, before suddenly remembering something. “So what was the message?”
“Oh, right.” Clearwater seemed to have forgotten about their little argument in seconds. “Larret said to tell you that you’re in over your head and that the ‘nobles’ know what’s going on and they aren’t happy.”
“Laurent.” James murmured on instinct, a little confused. “The nobles? What nobles?” His eyes widened. “He couldn’t have meant---.”
“And he said something about Phoenix or something.” Clearwater made a face. “It didn’t make much sense. Something like Jacob should have paid more attention. But why should he pay attention to the city?”
James froze. “He wasn’t talking about the city.” He turned. “I need to talk to Jacob, now.”
“Hey!” Clearwater called after him when the vampire would have hurried away.
“What?” James snapped, turning.
“You could at least thank me, you know.” Arms folded stubbornly over a naked chest. “I risked a lot coming out here to tell you.”
The vampire paused for a moment, looking short stuff over. “Thanks puppy.”
“I have a name.” Fists clenched as anger began to build up again.
James sighed, impatient with this little game, back towards the informant. “Maybe it’s safer for you to be called puppy.” He announced reasonably.
“Maybe I like danger.” Came the snappish, childish answer.
The vampire bit down to keep his laughter at bay. This puppy was a weird one. Laughter bubbled up inside but he kept his face emotionless. “Fine then.” He turned to the young Native American, deciding to humor the younger being. “Thank you, Seth.”
A small smile played on those lips. “Your welcome, James.”
Wondering if it was always so easy to anger and please the kid, James shook his head, shrugged and left, his mind already on other things.
He never noticed the fact that the young wolf shifted yet didn’t leave until he’d disappeared from sight.
She didn’t know what was funnier, the way her dad lost horribly at Dominoes or the way Victoria did her best to help him win---unsuccessfully. Thanks to this Bella had been winning almost every game, and she was beginning to think seriously about betting money on it. It wasn’t as if her dad gave her a huge allowance anyway…
“I suck at this game.” Charlie sighed, eyes on his hand.
“No you don’t Charlie.” Victoria placed a gloved hand on his in a near comforting way. “Bella’s just really good.”
Right. Bella bit back a grin.
“Well, her mother was always good at these kind of things.” Charlie replied, looking a little more cheery at the thought.
Victoria, on the other hand, pulled her hand away, gaze returning to her hand, pouting.
Honestly, Bella was going to giggle any minute now. Sure, the situation was bizarre, but she’d had enough time to get used to her friend’s crush and father’s obliviousness. Plus, her dad needed a good woman and Victoria needed a good guy in her life---though how they’d be able to have a relationship without the redhead telling him she was a vampire was beyond Bella.
Then again, they’d be lucky if they got far enough to worry about that. First Victoria had to somehow get Charlie to notice her.
And so far all her tries had been failures.
Pathetic, horribly funny failures.
She’d even been wearing gloves so that she could touch him more and somehow disguise her coldness…but nothing was working.
Hearing her phone ring, Bella froze as she recognized the special ringtone.
Yes, there the vampiress’ name was flashing on the screen.
Bella’s heart raced in her throat and she stood up quickly, feeling dizzy. “I’m---I’m going to take this upstairs. You two start a new game together.” She hurried up the stairs and slammed the door to her bedroom before looking at her phone again.
It stopped ringing.
A sense of regret filled her stomach, making her want to vomit.
And then it began to ring again, Alice’s name flashing on the screen.
Why is she calling me? After all this time? Bella sat down on the bed slowly and muted the sound of the ringtone, just looking at Alice’s name flashing.
God, she was going to vomit.
The ringing stopped.
She held her breath…
And it began to ring again.
…she exhaled, hand beginning to tremble from the desire to hear the vampiress’ voice.
Don’t give in so easily! You’ve been trying to build a resistance to them! Remember? You can be strong! You were just a bother!
Tears filled her eyes and Bella closed them, collapsing onto her back on the bed, placing her hand over her face.
It stopped ringing.
And then Jasper’s ringtone sounded throughout the room.
Bella’s laughter was agonized as she closed her eyes tighter, Jasper’s ringtone doing the same dance as Alice’s had, ringing out and only stopping enough for the vampire to redial and then the melody was swirling around the curled up human being.
She wiped at the tears and sat up, looking at the screen as Alice’s ringtone sounded out again.
They---they sure are being persistent. She was losing the battle and she knew it. Maybe Alice had a vision and she’s trying to warn us. Maybe she can’t get through to anyone else and I’m putting everyone in danger by being childish and not answering their phone calls. If—if something happened it’d be my fault. Yes. I have to answer this---her.
Finally able to give herself a good enough excuse for her weakness for their voices, Bella closed her eyes tightly, took in a deep breath, and then brought the phone to her ear, pressing ‘speak’. “Hello?”
Her voice was wobbly.
There was silence.
And then there was Alice. “Bella.”
And it was the emotion in the vampiress’ voice as she spoke her name, as if she were praying, that did it. Bella broke down crying into the phone, feeling like such a fool and such a dependent little---.
“Please don’t cry.” Alice whispered, voice choked. “I---we’ve missed you so much.”
“Then you---you should have---called!” Bella tried to snap but she was crying too hard to sound anything other than heartbroken. “You should have cared enough to call!”
“Call?” There was a moment’s silence, and then Alice was angry. “Didn’t Edward tell you?”
“Tell me what?” Bella had somehow managed to calm down somewhat, wiping at her tears and reaching for a case of Kleenex, blowing her nose. “That you ignored all my calls? I figured that out all on my own!”
“Bella!” Alice voice was odd. “Bella, we couldn’t receive your calls! We didn’t have reception where we were! I toldEdward to tell Jake so that you’d know! So that you wouldn’t--.” There was a break in her voice. “You mean you’ve thought all this time that Jazz and I had abandoned you?”
And Bella found herself crying again. “I have to go.”
“No. Bella. Please.” Alice whimpered. “I’ve missed you, we both have. Please, we just need to hear your voice.Please.”
And that was when Bella realized that the same hurt she was feeling was echoed in Alice’s voice. She froze, before slowly wiping at her already red eyes. “You and Jazz---you didn’t leave me?” Why was she asking this? It sounded so embarrassing.
“Bella…” Alice whispered. “Don’t you realize how much you mean to us?” There was a pause. “The moment we got reception you’re the first person we called. You’re the only person we thought of calling. You mean so much to us…why can’t you see it?”
Bella’s eyes widened, and she felt a blush making its way up her neck before she closed her eyes tightly and shook her head, telling herself not to take things in a different context than it was being offered. Alice was telling her how much they cared for her as friends.
They had each other, they didn’t need her.
Not like that.
“I---I’ve missed you guys.” Bella whispered back, heart thumping rapidly in her chest. “A lot.”
“We missed you too.” Alice sounded like she was smiling. “Jazz wants to say hi.”
There was a noise.
“Jazz.” Bella wanted to cry again at the sound of his voice. “God Jazz. I’ve missed you.”
“Shhh…” Calm and soothing could be heard from his voice. “Don’t cry Bella. Okay? We’ll see you soon. We’ll be landing in Port Angeles in a couple of hours, and we’ll drive over there to see you right away and clear up everything. Okay?”
Bella thought about Victoria, but then realized that this was good opportunity to leave her alone with Charlie.
“Okay.” Her voice was small, like a child’s.
“We really missed you, Bella.”
And then they’d hung up.
Bella pulled the phone from her ear and wiped at her ears, blowing her nose once more.
Silence reigned in the room.
Then a small smile began to tilt her lips.
Alice and Jasper were coming back to her.
Jacob had found himself waiting on the steps to James and Victoria’s house. As usual, when he had his head filled with questions he’d go there to just relax and think things over, and James was always a good person to talk to. James was Jacob’s right hand, his best friend, and the wolf realized how fortunate he was to have a friend as good as him.
He sighed as he hid his bowed head in his hands. It was midday and the sky was high in the air, but he didn’t feel the heat, too involved in his thoughts.
‘We didn’t imprint…’ Edward’s voice echoed throughout his mind.
No. Jacob closed his eyes tighter, digging his fingers so harshly into his hair it hurt. No!
‘We didn’t imprint…’
It had to be a lie. A misunderstanding. It had to be. Jacob had imprinted on the bronze-haired vampire. He had. There were all the symptoms and, and…
I love him.
Jake knew he was still resentful and angry at Edward for leaving him, new that a part of him felt betrayed and wanted the vampire to suffer for what he’d gone through---but Jake loved Edward. His wolf loved the vampire, it’d gone nearly insane with want when it’d felt him near. Jacob hadn’t been able to understand the desperation his wolf was feeling but now he did. It’d sensed Edward near and it’d wanted to be with him.
‘We didn’t imprint…’
Wasn’t that the reason they’d gotten together in the first place? Because they’d thought they’d imprinted on each other? Wasn’t that the basis of their relationship?
Jacob tried to regulate his breathing, tried to keep himself calm as he remembered.
Edward had liked him long before Jacob had thought he’d imprinted on him. The vampire had near stalked Jacob formonths before, and Jacob had been irritated because he could sense himself following the leech’s every move when they were close together. At that time he’d hated Edward but had still been fascinated with him.
‘We didn’t imprint…’
“Who cares?” Jacob growled, tightening his grip on his hair painfully, not understanding how he wasn’t pulling it from its roots. “WHO CARES?”
“I care.” James’ voice was amused. “What’s got you in this mood? I’da thought with loverboy back you’d be in cloud nine or something.” The blonde sat down next to him on the steps leading to the porch.
Jacob sighed, closing his eyes. “We didn’t imprint.”
James was frozen next to him. “What?”
Running his hands over his face, Jacob took in a deep breath. “Edward told me that we didn’t imprint. We aren’t soulmates, we---that we aren’t…” His shoulders slouched and he closed his eyes tighter, so tight that his eyelids were hurting him.
There was silence before James began, oddly hesitant. “And—and how do you feel about that?”
“Confused.” Jacob responded truthfully, refusing to open his eyes, to accept the situation. “I’m confused because I’msure Edward’s the one for me, that even without the imprinting he and I would have gotten together…and I’m in painbecause I love him and I scared about what this means for us as a relationship.”
James gaze went to his feet and a strange emotion played over his face, but mostly his loose hair hid it.
“I came here to try and think. He---he told me so many things, and my head, it felt like it was about to explode with all the new information being fed to me. I don’t want to believe anything he’s told me, and I refuse to believe that he’s not my mate.”
James’ golden gaze was firmly on his shoes. “What if he isn’t? What if you’re mate is someone else? What if you’re destined for someone else and you just don’t realize it because you’re holding onto him stubbornly?”
“If I don’t imprint on Edward, I’m not imprinting on anyway.” The wolf whispered, hugging his knees to his chest. “I don’t want to imprint on anyone else.” He turned to look at his right hand man, his beta. “Do you think I’m being stubborn and selfish?”
There was silence as James opened and closed his mouth, seeming to want to say something before closing his eyes tightly, his whole body trembling before it stopped and he turned his golden gaze on Jake, a sad smile on his face. “Of course not. You—you l-love him. You have a right to choose whoever makes you happy and not let something else decide that for you.”
“Thanks.” Jacob smiled back at James. “You always know what to say, don’t you?”
For a moment a jolt of sadness made those eyes more golden, and then it was gone as quickly as it’d appeared, James serious once more. “Clearwater texted me, wanted a meeting with me, alone.”
Jacob frowned. “Why?”
Taking in a deep breath James ran fingers through his loose hair. “Jacob, remember your friend who disappeared after Halloween Night?”
“Phoenix?” Jacob asked, wondering what this had to do with Seth.
“I’m almost sure he’s a vampire.” James announced, face neutral. “And that he’s a part of what’s left of Laurent’s coven.”
“What?” He was on his feet immediately. “How does Seth know this? Why would this happen?”
So James told him everything the youngest of Sam’s pack had told them.
“I should have paid more attention?” Jacob asked softly in the end, looking confused and guilty. “To Phoenix? But---I paid him attention, just, not special attention.”
“I think the more important thing is that I believe Laurent is trying to get the Volturi involved in this.” James announced, cool and business-like. He was always like this when they were talking pack-matters, which was one of the reasons why he was Jacob’s right hand man.
“Volturi.” The wolf tried remembering where he’d heard of them before. “Oh, right. Aren’t they like vampire royalty or something?”
James nodded. “Laurent said that the ‘nobles’ know what we’re doing and don’t like it.”
“We’ll deal with them when that times comes.” Jacob nodded. “In the meantime, I need to learn more about the Volturi. If I remember right, Carlisle knew one or two of the members, maybe he’ll be able to get me some information when he comes back.”
“So all of the Cullens are coming back, huh?” James asked, kicking at the ground softly.
“Yeah.” Jake nodded, staring ahead of him. “It’s going to be odd to get used to them again.” He smiled at James. “You’ll like them though.”
“Yeah. I’m sure we’ll get along like a house on fire.” James suddenly stood, hands in his pockets. “You’ll have to introduce me when I get back.”
“Get. Back?” The wolf’s dark gaze rose as did he. “What do you mean? Get back from where?”
“I still have some unfinished business to take care of.” James responded, turning towards him. “As long as Laurent is still alive I’ll never be able to go forwards in life and my sister will never be safe.”
“So you’re just going to go after him?” Jacob couldn’t believe he was hearing this. “I didn’t take care of you and got you healthy again for you to commit suicide!”
“I’m stronger than I was when you first met me.” James responded, face emotionless. “You’ve made me stronger than I’ve ever been, Jake. But I need to do this. I need you to let me go. Just for a little while.”
The wolf gazed on him in before looking away and shaking his head. “James, this is something you need to do, and I’ll support you---even if I am pissed and worried right now.”
James smiled slightly. “Worried about lil’ old me?”
“Yeah.” Jacob nodded. “Worried about you, gramps.”
And the vampire was suddenly laughing, pulling Jacob into a hug. “You don’t have to worry about me. Nothing’s going to happen and you know why? Because you can’t get rid of me that easily.” His hug tightened. “And I’ll come back when I’m done. You won’t even have time to miss me.”
“Idiot.” Jake scolded softly, hugging the vampire close. “I’m missing you already.”
James was strangely silent as they just hugged each other.
Both unaware of their audience.
Turning so that his back was against the tree and he was hidden from sight, Edward closed his eyes tightly and leaned his head against the harsh bark. He’d been worried and followed the trail of the wolf only to see him, like this, with the other vampire.
His heart was hurting him more than he could explain.
One terrifying thought made itself at home in his mind, echoing endlessly.
Have I lost him?