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The Mythical Creature's Guide to Living in the Modern World (21/23)

 

"I'm going to rub your faces in things you try to avoid.
I don't find it strange that all you want to believe is only that which comforts you.
How else do humans invent the traps which betray us into mediocrity?
How else do we define cowardice?"

The Preacher in Frank Herbert's Children of Dune


Chapter Twenty-One, Chi

I'd just gotten out of the shower and was towelling dry my hair when there was a knock at the door. I figured it was Jake and Quil come to get me already, 'cause I had spent a long time in the bathroom. Dirt really builds up when you live at a rock and whatnot. I threw on the same dress I'd been wearing when I'd arrived (it was like all of the clothes I still owned, short and low-cut, and had the advantage of being easy to tie to your leg, with the exception that this one was a green colour) and ran to the door shouting, "Since when do you idiots knock?" But, flinging the door open, it was rather alarmed not to see Jake and Quil at the door, but Sam. Quite eloquently, I thought, I spat, "Holy shit," in his face and slammed the door back shut. "Go away, douche-bag."

Calmly, for Sam, he pounded at the door and said, "Lee, I just want to talk."

"Then talk through the God-damned door, you moron. It's not soundproof."

"Let me rephrase: I want to talk like adults."

"Come back then when your balls drop and we'll deal then."

"Leah..." he sighed. "Look, it's not even you I want to talk to." Well, don't I feel special. Go away then. "I'm looking for Jacob."

"Funny. He's out looking for you. Something about beating you up for being such an idiot yesterday – well, greater idiot then usual – and for trying to maim me. He really didn't like that. I know it's gotta be weird trying to figure out why someone wouldn't be all to happy if you maimed their girlfriend, but..."

"And I'm sorry about that-"

I gave a bitter snort of laughter and slid down the door, so I was sitting with my back pressed against it. "Oh. Yes. That makes it all better. You could have killed me but, hey, you apologized, so no worries. Water. Bridge. Under."

"The half-breed-"

"Oh, just listen to yourself for a minute why don't you? Sure The Things strange, but so are we. You don't see people going around trying to kill werewolves do you?"

"Leah-"

"Besides, it's not about Nessie. Not really. It's all about you and your stupid-ass need to be the jerk in charge. Hell if you're acting like an idiot, it doesn't matter 'cause you want everyone to bow down to what you have to say. And now you're all upset 'cause you're the only one who wants to kill a baby who doesn't hurt anything 'cepting maybe a bloodbank, and Jake rebelled against you and Seth and I and now Quil and Embry went with him."

"Quil and-"

"I thought the part where they didn't come back into your waiting arms after school might've given it away. But yea, for better or worse the two of them have gone Benedict Arnold on your ass. Now go away."

"Leah-"

God, why the fuck wouldn't he go away? "It's odd, but I think the leeches actually bother me less then you do," which was very odd, considering I was going to murder them tonight for betting on when Jake and I would sleep together. I'd not yet decided what show tune I wanted to sing while doing it, I remember hearing something about how Elton John had made a musical out of The Vampire Lestat or something, so I guessed I could always go online and find something from that, but that was too much work for a murder... I knew random songs from Disney movies. They could die to the sounds of Walt Disney. That would be torture enough for anybody.

But, the idiot just wouldn't leave me the fuck alone and, for some odd reason, thought it would be a good idea to continue to talk to me through the door. I resolved not to say anything. Maybe if I was quiet, he'd think there was no one there. It worked with some of the crazy cult people. And girl scouts. Don't get me wrong, I loved girl scout cookies, but the actual people themselves just weirded me out; they were like the miniature, high-voiced soldiers of everything that annoyed me. So, yes, Project Ignore Sam Uley has now started. I will sit here and wait for him to go away. He's like a two-year-old – no attention span at all; - it can't take long.

"Look, Leah, I'm just trying to do the right thing here. Regardless of whether or not they actually kill people, they're a danger. A danger to La Push and a danger to Forks and a danger to everyone else. Okay, so The Spawn's going to follow their 'diet'? So what? Remember the battle?"

"Hell yeah, you duck-smoking boner-rider," I almost said. But I didn't, because I was trying to ignore him. If I didn't think he'd come through the door the moment I got up, I'd have gotten the phone and tried calling around for Jake and Quil... but that'd take ages. We really needed to find a way to keep from loosing cell phones while we were phased, 'cause communicating when we weren't is kinda difficult.

Anyway, the bastard continued, "All those vampires? Newborn vampires? So close to town? Not only were they a threat to us, think of all the people in Seattle that were killed or lost people because of them while that woman was making them."

Almost, again, aloud, "Mama Vamp is dead," and no one else, that we know of, has a grudge against the Cullens. Except us, but we weren't going to kill them. Not for being vamps at least. Murder them for being bastards maybe, but not because they were doing a very unconventional blood drive amongst the Olympic Peninsula's fauna. Thus my date with an axe later. If Jake and I don't-

And we're not going down the path of Jake's hotness while Sam's standing outside my door. Isn't Mom supposed to be home? Wasn't Charlie supposed to be running into her after he left Monster Manor? I mean, I'd not heard her and she'd not shown up after I got out of the shower or made an attempt to answer the door, but I'd not even thought to look in her room... God, gross. Wrinkly old-people love. Can't even think. Must hope that they're out looking at pottery or antique hairbrushes or something. Think of better things – food, Jake, Sam on fire – anything. Anything but that.

But the honest to goodness problem is, when I'm quite for too long I start thinking. Thinking about how werewolf genes have done much for my benefit, as far as how they're expressed in Jake, that is. Thinking about how at this very moment Jake could be out looking for Sam and instead run across some girl from school and imprint on her and ruin everything. Again. Thinking about how it could happen like in five years or something, and ruin everything even more. About how, if you'd told me I'd be dating Jake the day before, I'd have laughed at you. About how, according to Emmett, I smelled like a dog in heat, and how we were wolves, and how (as I'd learned, along with many other frightening details about wolf sexuality that hopefully didn't transfer over to werewolves) only Alpha pairs mate in wolf-packs, and how he was the Alpha and I was the only wolf-girl and how my scent had started to change only after our pack had broken off from Sam's... About how, if I smelled like a dog in heat, if that meant I'd have to worry about that God-awful thing people call a period again, and all that comes with it. Like birth control. Like, if that was the case, would I-?

"And that was only the most recent thing. They all-but-broke the treaty turning Bella, and now there's her daughter to deal with. What if they turn another person to be her mate when she grows up? What if half-breeds like her can have children? How many more vampires are we talking about moving to Forks? Two? Ten? How many more Quileute children does that mean will start phasing, at younger and younger ages? How long does it mean we'll be doing this? Another five years? Ten? A lifetime?" For every year the Cullens' stayed, we spent another year in perpetual youth. The boys all looked to be in their early twenties, even Seth, though some of the younger ones looked like they actually belonged in high school, but still. I'd not changed one bit since I first phased... which did wonders for my skin and meant I never had to worry about shaving my legs, but was kinda annoying. We could get away with it now, looking twenty-ish when we were about that age. But we could live for ages like this... if the Cullens chose to stay, perhaps in isolation, going to school or to work in other parts of the state, where they could easily run to and from in an hour or so, and then "coming back" to Forks as their own supposed kids in twenty years or so... And we'd be forty-somethings looking no older... The legend of Taha Aki had him living for three generations, at least... "People would notice that, Leah. We have birth certificates. We went to school with these people. What'll we tell them when they're fifty and we're still looking like we did when we were teenagers? When the funerals start happening, and we're still the same?"

"People can say whatever the fuck they want." Ooops. That came out. Ignore. Must ignore everything the tea-bagging melon-pincher is saying.

"It's not like the days when our people first started shifting. I mean, we're living an a Rez where maybe three people a year go on to college outside the county, and the best job around is the canning company half-hour away, and the only people who stay on the Rez after they graduate are those, like us, who have to or those who don't have anywhere else to go. But still. There are electronic records. Video cameras. A million people with cameras posting on YouTube. The longer we stay different, the more likely someone's going to notice something, or someone'll slip up...

"And what if the Cullens' slip up? Or one of their 'friends' visits and starts attacking the town? What if-?"

I could play the "What if?" game better then anybody. I didn't plan. I didn't expect anything out of life. I didn't think a God-damn day ahead if I didn't have to – not any more, because plans were meaningless in this world. You could make them, have the best of intentions, think everything is going smooth as silk, and still they'd derail. Did I ask for Sam to break up with me – when I could have gone to the University of Washington and gotten out of La Push and maybe done something with my life, or made a million dollars, or cured cancer? Did I ask to turn into a wolf who could, apparently, go into heat like any other canine and have to deal with that, whatever it might entail? For Dad to die? For Mom to start dating Charlie? To fall in love with Jake, to risk everything, again? God no.

"Shut up, Sam," I told him through the door. "Obviously you've not gotten the memo: life isn't some happy-go-lucky '50's dream, you zombie-humping ass-poker. Things go the fuck wrong all the time. Plans have to change. You just have to take what life throws at you and do the best you can with it. Get religious and beg for forgiveness and understanding and whatnot if you think that'll help, or go home to Emily and marry her properly and have so many freaking cubs you have to start numbering them and just have a family and find some sort of comfort in that; or just deal with it by dealing with it, 'cause that's the only choice you have. Or else you can go and be one of those idiots who jumps off the cliffs to kill themselves 'cause they can't take it any more and give Emily a chance to do something with her life after you and let the rest of us who actually are plodding along here get on with the business we've been set to do. Now get off my freaking porch and leave me the hell alone, like most ex-boyfriends do with their ex's."

There was silence for a while after this, and I almost thought he'd gone when he started to speak again – my name real soft and low that if I didn't have supernaturally freakish hearing, even as a human, I probably wouldn't have heard. But I did. And it sent shudders throughout my body – and not the good kind, like Jake had done (and already my world was slowly becoming wrapped around him and our pack and his idea to protect the vampires from our cousins and our former pack brothers). No, this made me remember just how bad it'd hurt when he'd broken up with me, out of nothing, and when he'd tried later to apologise, or even later when he tried explaining it away by imprinting. That tone of voice wasn't mine any more, not from him, and I didn't want it beside. I was long over him. Besides, I'd someone else who said my name that way, who promised never to leave me unless I wanted him to, and so what if he was my Alpha and jail-bait and all of this could be broken if he imprinted on someone else? I was willing to take that risk now that I knew he'd not been acting out of whatever made people have one night stands. But I couldn't take Sam trying to usurp that tone and speak to me like he still loved me – like he still could love me – and had my best interests at heart. Because I knew better now. Being fucked-over by a guy tends to do that.

I was going to insult him some more when the blessed sound of fist hitting jaw resounded through the air, and the weight of Sam's body flew against the door I was still leaning against and shook it mightily. There was only one person who I could imagine doing something like that to La Push's favourite child, and I was proven right as opened the door (causing Sam, in surprise, as he'd been leaning against it, to fall backwards at my feet) and saw Jake, vibrating as he tried to keep from phasing, standing there, in only shorts and more then a little damp from the rain or maybe sweat.

My heart fluttered more then a little. I'll admit it. I think it's always fluttered looking at him – and why wouldn't it when he looks like that? - and I wonder how long this thing has been building between us and how much longer its been mutually denied. "Hey Jake. As you can see, Sam dropped by."

But Sam, looking sharply from one to the other of us like he was at a tennis match, was already getting up.

"That was a terrible joke, Leah," Jake chided dryly, then turned to Sam. "What the fuck are you doing here?"

Oh, please, I thought. Let's not go through this all again....

Chapter Twenty-Two.