"There is no other hell for man than the stupidity and wickedness of his own kind."
Marquis de Sade Histoire de Juliette
Chapter Ten, Juliet
It was Christmas Eve, and the snow was so heavy on the ground that, when Embry had relieved us from our patrol of the border (personally, I was a little freaked out that Sam was going to try to mount an assault because of the extra vampires at the manor, because he was just that stupid, and I was afraid one of the younger ones would get hurt. I knew, with the numbers definitely on the side of our pack, that someone would get hurt if that happened. I didn't care about Sam – he could rot in his own personal hell for all I cared – but the others I'd be kinda angry if something happened to) we had forgone the rock for the Cullen's front porch, and were currently curled up in a ball of werewolf and blankets. The blankets because Kate thought it'd be ha-freaking-larious to make us a doggy bed, and blankets were the best she could do at a impulse's notice.
So, there were were, trying to sleep – well, I was trying to sleep. Jake might just have been lolling, but my freaking out about the possibility of the Christmas episode of the Vampire-Lycan War had kind of translated into us kinda doing less patrolling and more of the stuff where, had any of the others phased, would probably have led to some very interesting comments about puppy farms I never in my life want to hear. Nevertheless, the end result was that I was tired, and Jake had a wolfy grin upon his face, and I would've too if it didn't take so many damn muscles to smile – and Kate was there. And was she letting me rest, or at least sitting down wind of us? No. She was talking, fully aware we couldn't answer her in this form, nor were willing to phase out at the moment to strangle her properly.
"...The War of the Roses was the most exciting time in England," she told us. "We were there from 1450 until 1533 – Tanya, Irina, and I. It was ever so much fun. All the war, all the intrigue – and all the kings, of course. Edward IV was especially handsome... Very tall. Very well built. Incredibly intelligent as well, but... It was Ira who got to him first, though. Tanya still hasn't forgiven her for that, and stole some very important generals out from under her in revenge. We were going by the name of 'Talbot' then – Theresa, Katherine and Elizabeth Talbot. Let's just say, when he started to get too interested in 'Elizabeth,' we had to make up the story of her dying in childbirth with Edward de Wigmore... Never expected that little incident to make it into the history books..."
Why is she here, annoying us, instead out out killing some hapless little bunny rabbit or something?
He gave a wolfish yawn and readjusted his head on my shoulders, Because you yelled at her yesterday for flirting with Seth-
Not that the idiot noticed, I huffed. I swear, he was too busy staring at how she sparkled to realize where she was trying to put her hands. I guess she'd never slept with a werewolf if she'd never met one before me, but I absolutely refused to let her make that sexual adventure with my little brother. I mean, first of all, Seth – ew, gross! I found the idea of Seth having sex more repulsive then what he thought about me with Jacob, and that was saying something. And, secondly, I didn't know which was worse, a vampire's frozen fun parts, or a vampiress's. Mental scaring... so deep... may loose motor function...
-and now, ignoring my little interlude, she's trying to annoy us to death. Remember, she was telling us about ye ol' Russia yesterday and the Swabian Dynasty of Holy Roman Emperors?
Honestly, No. I thought the inbred Hapsburg ruled Austria and stop listening after she started mentioning cousins getting married for the eighth time.
She's promised to go through to the time they were nearly run out of Beijing today.
Can we kill her?
I think the Cullens might mind.
We can tell them it was an accident. That she tried to do unspeakable things to Seth and I, er, overreacted.
Pausing, Believable, but...
...how would we explain why we burnt the body?
We spend entirely too much time in each other's heads.
There was an interruption on the edge of both of our minds: Embry. I can hear the two of you, y'know. It's driving me crazy.
Oh honey, I said with false sympathy dripping from my mind-tongue, you're already crazy. We're just taking you out for a walk 'round the block.
It could be worse, Jake sympathized not-falsely; it could be Tanya telling us about all the old guys she's banged. Whereas Kit-Kat seemed to find Seth her challenge, Tanya thought Embry to be hers (as, apparently, she'd given up on Edward. Why anyone would try for Ed-weird in the first place, I don't know, but I was of the opinion these two leeches and the third, far-off Irina, would have sex with a doorknob if desperate enough. Luckily, I suppose, they seemed sated enough at the moment). The one time Embry had shown himself to the vamps, and then only by virtue of patrolling an area they were passing through, Tanya decided to convert him over to the Dark Side. Anyway, the point of this all is that hearing all the people the person who's trying to get you to sleep with them has already slept with is somewhat disgusting. Even if they were kings or handsome farm boys or the Three Stooges or whoever.
Tatiana Ewaycz, I corrected facetiously.
You know that but don't remember anything of Kate's spiel on early democratic feeling in eastern European tribes?
I shrugged my shoulders. Hard not to remember a name like that. I plan on using it to make "fairy" references next time she asks me my preferred sex position.
Rather then some charming comeback involving the term "doggy style," through our mental connection, we could feel Embry stiffen and cock his hears. That's defiantly someone coming up the driveway... Doubling his speed, he backtracked on the patrol route to a clump of bushes where he'd be hidden along the drive.
I felt Jake go into Alpha mode, disentangling his furry limbs from mine and moving towards the steps, in case it was someone like Sam or...
It doesn't smell like leeches, I said, forcing myself to my own feet and, to Kate's grate surprise, nudging her knee. She appeared to take this as a sign to get the thought-stealing cradle-robber rather then repeat what she'd said about Margaret Beaufort's husband, Owen Tudor, dying when she was was seven-months pregnant of Henry VI... She was thirteen at the time. So glad I live in this century people. Even if it means I have to deal with vampires. Internet, indoor plumbing, lack of marriages at thirteen... The small joys in supernatural life...
They're not expecting anyone, are they?
I looked to Edward, who'd taken a place next to Kate on the porch. Jake was at the forest edge, waiting to run if necessary. "No, we're not. I can't hear the driver's thoughts yet either."
Then, suddenly, Embry shouted, It's the cruiser!
God, only Charlie? Wait... I thought you told him it would be a bad idea for him to come by over Christmas break, I stared accusingly at the mind-raper. Sure, these Denali vampires seemed to be "vegetarians," but what if they "slipped up" on Charlie? Mom wouldn't take that well... Nor would she take it well if Tanya or Kate managed to seduce him... however nasty that might be.
"We did... ah..." He paused and seemed to be listening to something. He probably was. Jerk-ward. I trotted back to the doggy bed Kate had made and, circling a few times, sprawled back down upon it. "He wants to talk to you and Bella. Together."
Let's see, what did Bella and I have in common? Two X-chromosomes each? Supernatural abilities? The annoying fact that my mom was dating her dad? Please let him be coming to ask us some girl question, like what to get Mom for Christmas. He was leaving it to a little late, but Charlie had never struck me as the rounded piece of kibble in the bowl, if you get my drift. I mean, if he'd not realized his beloved daughter was a blood-drinking monster and her "niece" was really his granddaughter and probably shouldn't be growing as fast as she was, well, that was just bananas for him. If it was anything else, by the shoe-cobbling elves that I'm sure are working for Nike or New Balance or someone in Indonesia, I was going to cut him down to the size of an elf and over-night him to the farthest shoe workshop I could find. Possibly underwater. I see, I told him. You can tell him I'm not here. I buried myself under the blankets some, fully aware that only a complete idiot wouldn't see me. I half-hoped Charlie counted. His daughter certainly did.
"I will try," he said somewhat blandly, and went in to inform his family – though not, it must be said, telling Kate, "Please do not tell Charlie about the kings you and your sisters have known."
And boinked, I added. Don't forget that.
He rolled his eyes.
Charlie pulled up a second or so later, greeted by Jake, now human and walking out of the woods in nothing but a pair of shorts. Granted, Charlie had had time to adjust to the fact that, yes, his girlfriend's children and their friends could shapeshift into wolves, it was another thing entirely to see your best friend's son walk out of the forest when there's easily three feet of wind on the ground, the threat of more in the air, and a wind chill of get-a-parka-if-you-want-to-live. I still found it disconcerting, and I was one of those monsters.
"Hey Charlie," he called out, meeting him before the chief had even made it to the porch. Which still had Kate (also, I might add, in weather inappropriate clothing) the thousand-year-old vampire and me the exhausted werewolf upon it. "What you doing here?"
Charlie explained, in that usual annoying Swan way, that he wanted to talk to me and Is-a-bat.
"Cool. The Cullens kinda have guests, though, so don't be surprised if Bells can't talk long. Lee," he said, now on the porch and lifting the blanket off my head, "Charlie would probably like to talk inside." Where it wasn't freezing to people with normal body temperature.
I rolled my eyes at him, but trotted through the door he opened for me. The paused to listen as Chief Swan came across Kate. "Allo," she said, doing her best Russian accent, "I am Ekat-"
Jerking Kate back from Charlie, he pushed her through the door too. "Charlie doesn't need to know who you are, Kate."
"Wasn't she at Bells' wedding?" he asked anyway as I climbed up onto one of the oddly vacated couches in the now-empty living room. Even Kate, after entering, disappeared upstairs.
"Yeah. She's one of the Cullens' cousins. Believe me when I say its just better not to meet them."
Making an odd gesture at me, where I was rolling on the white cushions in hopes of shedding upon them, he seemed to be trying to say, "Are they like you?"
"No, they're not like us. Just don't let them get you alone."
I nodded, then sunk my head onto my paws, willing this to be over with. Jake, luckily though, chose to sit beside me rather then go upstairs like the rest of them, to watch whatever wondrous thing Nessie was doing at the moment, or play Scrabble in Latin or something else idiotic. I lifted my head up and scooted forward, resting it on his thigh. He did the petting thing that should creep me out but didn't – and probably weirded out Charlie seriously – and, together, we waited for Bella.
"Is she...?" he asked somewhat nervously.
"Bells is coming... Oh, you mean Leah? No, she's having a I-don't-want-to-deal-with-being-human day."
Indeed I was. After having to spend the better part of a week human for that delightful thing people call menstruation (coming from the words men and frustration, in case you didn't know), I was enjoying being wolf again. It made me feel normal, however odd that sounded.
Then Bella the Vampire Doer was there, and all three of us – Jake, Bells, and me – were staring at Charlie, waiting to begin.
"So," he said, doing that blushing this that his daughter thankfully couldn't do any more and he shouldn't be doing in a house full of vampires, but what did he know? It filled the silence like a falling pin. Which is to say, not at all.
"Yeah, Dad?" she said eloquently after a moment more of silence.
I gave a doggy huff. Let's see: he only wanted to speak to his daughter and his girlfriend's daughter, but oddly enough not Seth. I was at a loss, but already I was bored. I just wanted to sleep. Some of the things I probably shouldn't think about with Embry still phased were rather exhausting in excess.
"As you know, I've been seeing Sue for quite a long time..." God. No. No! No! I refuse to hear this. I pressed my ears close to my head and squinted my eyes shut, but super-werewolf-hearing still forced me to listen to the words, "...and we like each other quite a lot and..."
Embry, please, please, please kill me now.
Why? What's going on, is-?
Charlie Swan is going to me my stepfather.
There was a small pause. And then, Charlie's not so bad.
To which I had to respond, Go fuck yourself. You're just General Hospital and Days of our Lives' love child. No one cares what you think.
I'll have you know it was Guiding Light and Days of our Lives.
Whatever. It still makes you the product of a scratch on somebody's scrotum. I should be an author or something with the way the words flow from my lips. ("Once upon a time there was a loser girl who thought her self-worth was defined by how many times a day her boyfriend fucked her. Then one day he ran off with a younger, prettier princess from the next castle over, and she was left with a whole bunch of squawking mouths to feed and a guy who won't pay any child support on time and never tells them to eat their vegetables when its his weekend to take them, making you the 'bad parent.' The End.") Or maybe not...
"...so I need your help picking out a ring you think Sue will like."
Oh, thank God! He'd not proposed to her yet. There was still time... Is Mom hypo-allergenic? I could get him to give her a cheapo ring and then when her finger turns all green she can dump his ass from here to Trenton.
Bella, of course, immediately agreed, and jumped up and hugged her dad and everything. Me, I just stayed laying there. I looked at Jake plaintively, so he told Charlie, "She's, er, happy for you and her mother, Chief Swan, and wishes you luck." No I didn't. I distinctly do not wish him luck or anything of the sort. I dealt with their creepy old-people love hoping it would pass, but I'm not letting Mom marry a man whose only other relationship was with a woman who ran out on him... I mean, it's for her own emotional safety and sanity. This must be stopped... Or not. I was really tired. "She's just... had a long morning."
Well, yeah, that's one way of putting it.
Then I closed my eyes again and hoped that it would all have been some strange, sleep-deprived delusion. It wasn't, and I fell asleep instead, and had dreams of Skittles-coloured wolves who wanted me to by subscriptions of their wedding magazines for their school fundraiser...