The Mythical Creature's Guide to Modern Warfare (14/26)

"Imagine that you are creating a fabric of human destiny with the object of making men
happy in the end, giving them peace and rest at last, but that it was essential and inevitable
to torture to death only one tiny creature – that baby beating its breast with its fist, for instance –
and to found that edifice on its unavenged tears, would you consent to be the architect on those conditions?"

Ivan Karamazov in Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov

Chapter Fourteen, November

As we were running back to the manor, I was trying to keep my thoughts very much to myself, largely because my hormones, in acknowledging with my brain that overprotective Alpha Jake was drop-down-and-ravish-me hot, had decided the ravishing could not wait until after we'd talked about ways not to get killed with the leeches. Well, had decided to decide it could wait. Nearly all the parts south of my brain were in disagreement.

Luckily, everyone seemed a bit too caught up in their own thoughts about our immanent destruction to pay much attention to each other. Except for Seth. He was trying very hard to think about things other than the scene I'd unwillingly witnessed earlier with our mother and... Well, what are we to call Charlie now? Stepfather? Er, no. Still Charlie? Pops? 'Cause if he thinks I'm calling him Dad I'm going to stick it to him where thee the sun don't shine... Anyway, rather then think of said scarring encounter, he was thinking about root canals. Which were apparently less painful.

Stupid ass, mother-fucking son of a whore and a hamster! Jake was thinking quite loudly.

I was running side by side with Jake; every now and again I'd bump into him to let him know I was there. I did it again now. That's being mean to the hamsters out there.

We could've caught her-

I know, Jake.

-but Sam had to go and try to prove who was King of the Wolves-

He does have his ass and his brain confused. I mean, I'm sooo obviously Queen, so you have to be King.

He was bristling with barely contained rage, -and so we couldn't catch her before-

I know, Jake.

-and now I have no kangaroo-fucking, ice-banging idea how we convince the Volturi that Nessie's not one of the Immortal Children-

Maybe the leeches'll have an idea, I told him, not very convincingly I'm afraid. Frankly, I thought the Italians were going to come and slaughter us all, the only question being whether they did it themselves or used one of the nuclear bombs they were sure to have lying around. Or maybe they'll settle for napalm. A nuke going off in Washington might raise some questions they don't want asked.

-and put Sam into his place-

Should be fun. We could sell tickets for a hundred bucks a pop, winner take all. We'd be rich. And then he could by me more shiny things, which I'd decided I quite liked when they weren't in vampires' kitchens.

Under any other circumstances, yes, but...

But now the lingering threat of death kinda takes away all the fun?

Yeah. Stupid Sam Uley.

Ditto, I said, bumping into him again.

I don't like the way he looks at you, he told me, voice growing gruff.

Awe, I joked while my lady bits grew excited at his tone, which is quite annoying when your brother and his two best friends can easily hear everything your thinking if they ever managed to pause for thinking, for just one moment, that we were all going to die. Don't worry, High and Mighty Alpha. I'm not planning on going anywhere. I shook my head, which rattled the dog tag/necklace he'd given me. I'd come to the conclusion that his father was paying him a dollar for every time he did me or something, because that was the only way I could figure out how he'd afforded it. Or maybe he'd just discovered, like I had, random fifty-dollar bills tucked into shoes the leeches let me borrow or placed on top of neatly folded laundry I hadn't washed and certainly hadn't folded. I'm 'yours,' remember?

That didn't seem to help much. He looks at you like he's seen you naked.

Jake, there's no one in the pack who hasn't seen me naked. Or vice versa. It's one of the hazards of being a werewolf.

Which seemed to help even less. He looks at you like he's seeing you naked.

I laughed. Admittedly, I did. Probably not the best thing to do, but still. He was the only one I'd come across lately who'd looked at me like that. Jacob Black, listen to me. Listen to me very carefully: I never loved Sam. It was just kinda... convenience for the both of us, something that was expected of us and we kinda just fell into. Well, at least, it was on my part. We... (I checked to make sure none of the pack was listening. Quil and Embry were trying to think of things we could do to keep the Volturi at bay, manly running to Antarctica, where were could play with penguins on our off hours and see their sparkle from a mile away; Seth had moved on to crappy movies he'd seen lately) we slept together once – once – and I hated it, and made excuses not to see him again for ages after that, and probably would have broken up with him myself if he hadn't gone and done it first. I don't hate him for leaving me. I hate him for not letting me leave him first. I mean, I always had thought he was ridiculously devoted to me, and then he goes and does my cousin? I gave a snort of disgust. I hate him for making me seem the victim... I hate Emily more, because she was my best friend, once, and should have known this, and if you're supposed to be whatever your imprint wants, if she didn't want him boinking her or whatever the moment he saw her, that's how it would've gone down. But she didn't even have the grace to let me break up with him first... I guess it's her I really hate, but it's just so much easier to hate Sam... especially since I started phasing, the bow-legged, scruffy-looking flea-monger... Anyway, I sighed, hating to have to be discussing emotions, however much it seemed to be that Jake might go off and maul somebody (preferably Sam or Irina, but I'd settle for Charlie too at the moment) if I didn't, like I said, the only place I'm going is wherever you're headed, though I might stop for clothes first.

I wouldn't mind if you didn't.

God, you're such a boy.

I thought that's what you liked about me.

I rolled my eyes. Aren't we supposed to be working on a way not to have the Volturi kill us all, burn the pieces of our disfigured corpses, and spread the ashes between here and Italy from their supersonic jets?

I already planned that out, he said in his most serious Alpha voice (which almost had me dropping to the ground and going belly up right where we were, mostly because take-charge Jake is hot, just as shy Jake as hot, and I probably have a million-and-one issues that years of psychotherapy and a whole season with the Dog Whisperer won't solve. I mean, I already know who the damn pack leader is! That's kinda the problem. Are there any mythical creatures around here with psychology degrees that are not mind-reading/emotion-feeling vampires? 'Cause I want to know what a twenty-one-year-old human who spends about half her time as a giant Alpha female wolf is supposed to do with her oft bizarre combinations of thoughts, hormones, and whatever else is going on inside me, which can't be good, because I've come to understand Fox is now syndicating my life. I expect them to request I get cancer next. I'll have to go to kemo, and then I'd loose all my hair, and then I'd be a hairless werewolf, and that's just one step too far.

That's good. What's the plan? Mine was not to think how hot Jake was, with his delicious eight-pack and very nice arms... and hands... or how hot he was as a very handsome, very masculine wolf... which was weird to contemplate, knowing that I wasn't just one werewolf thinking another is drop dead sexy, but also could be a werewolf thinking the same of a human, or a human thinking the same of a werewolf... It made me very sexually confused. I wished it wouldn't, even if I generally cured this confusion by having sex with Jake, whatever form we were in. Though, I must point out, only when we were in the same one. Though he was right all those months ago:

It wasn't amateur werewolf porn.

God! Concentrate, Leah! Concentrate! Drag your head back up from your tail and concentrate.

But didn't someone say, "Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we will die"?


Okay. I'm better now.

The plan is: don't die.

That's your brilliant plan?

You don't like it?

How are we supposed to not die when they start ripping us limb from limb?

It involves not getting ripped limb from limb.

I see... how?

Still working on that part.

Still working on that part!

We were long on Cullen land and could see the manor rising spy hop from the evening fog that had descended upon the forest. Everything was very quiet and peaceful. I half expected a narrator (for my crappy TV show life, you know, now into season three) to start singing Silent Night or O Little Town of Bethlehem.

As we trotted onto the porch (the guys phasing and heading in, me taking a minute to find one of Kate's doggy bed blankets before heading in; stupid phasing in clothes), though, we could hear the sounds of quick vampire talking, so quick it was almost hard for us to make out...

"'s the only way, Carlisle."

"What's the only way?" Jake said as I entered. Most the vampires had changed out of their odd Christmas attire and into what could have easily been their version of hiking clothes. Hell, with the heavy plaid button-downs and sturdy boots, it could have been Dad's version of hiking clothes. But they, minus Bella, who must have been upstairs with Nessie (and wouldn't have been of any help at all anyway) were standing in a circle around the coffee table.

Alice didn't answer. "The Volturi our coming, yes, but in my vision it's not until after the heavy snows – the kind we don't get here until February. That gives us a month at the least, six weeks on the outside... If we get enough people to witness Renesmee isn't an Immortal Child... There are only the three, plus the wives and the guard... there are only about a dozen of them... There are eight of us already, thirteen with the Denal-"

"We failed you once, kuzyni," said Tanya earnestly. "We will not leave you in your time of need."

"We are thirteen vampires, then, and five werewolves. If we can only get the nomads... the Irish, Egyptian, and Amazonian covens... even a few of them, just long enough to make them pause..."

"You mean," I said, "there's a chance we won't die?" A couple of heads bobbed. I turned to Jake, who was holding me close to him again (note to self, overprotective Alpha hot, but slightly clingy. Must speak to him about that – not that I really mind, at the moment at least), and said, "I like this plan."

"What do we need to do?"

"Jasper and I will head south... Jazz's experiences will work best there, and I have a strong feeling that Kachiri will be able to help us..." With that, she grabbed the empath's hand and started running before she hit the door. The sound of her Porche leaving the garage followed a second later.

In her wake, though, I could see a globe, easily two feet in diameter, positioned on the table. There were small markings – two gold dots, one at approximately Forks, the other somewhere in Alaska; a handful of red, with one in South America, four scattered across Europe, and two more in Egypt and China – across it, and the area between the tropics was shaded in a most curious way – not really shaded, but more of highlighted. It took me a moment to realize that no one had drawn on the globe, but rather it had been made that way, with the colouring on the inside of two glass hemispheres that had been expertly fused together. It looked professionally done, but one of the Cullens, I'm sure, had done it.

Carlisle took charge. "Alistair is the oldest among us, after the Volturi and the Romanians. He would be a boon to have."

"If you can find 'im," Carmen interrupted. Despite being three-hundred-sixty years-old and having lived the last couple centuries outside of the Iberian peninsula (I really knew entirely too much about the Denali coven. Thank you Kate, you scum-sucking nematode. I'm sure you have Chlamydia or something. I mean, think about it: Kate, Chlamydia – it is mostly good alteration. I'm sure she's the leech her lent her name to that STD. And, for the record, I've also given pre-emptive thought on which STD to claim Irina has. I cannot think of any, so she gets an IUD instead), she'd a strong Spanish accent. Eleazaar sounds from Iowa when you talk to him. It's very weird. "Whatever rock 'e is 'iding under, 'e will not come out for anything less than absolute confirmation the rest of the world 'as fallen into nuclear 'olocaust."

"He owes me several favours. Esme and I can try to find him, and get Siobhan and her coven on the way. Maybe even some European nomads."

"Rose and I can take the North Americans then."

"And we," said Tanya, indicating herself, Carmen, and Eleazaar, "can go to Amun and the Asians. They trust us."

Kate pouted. "Good thing I like the pet wolves, sister dearest."

Wait! I noticed a flaw in the plan. Edward, you better be listening you piece of mouldy, Victorian-era toilet-rag.

"Tia would never let you near Benjamin if you came with us..."

"Well, how was I to know the little puta had taken him for her mate?"

Not all these mother-fucking leeches are "vegetarians" like you, are they?

"Ladies," said Emmett. I began to fear, because it was his preacher voice he was using. He had started using it about three days ago when he'd given me a lecture on the sin of fornication outside of marriage and how he would have been forced to marry us then and there if only he'd been ordained. I gathered his bet had involved Jake and me "getting together" in that sense before New Years Day, or something like that. "Let us remember what Solomon said in the Psalms: Do not let a man come between you, oh beautiful ones; there are free enough fish in the world for you to need not fight over whose catch it was."

Rose hit him over the back of the head. "Next time around," she said, "you are taking some class where you have to sit and listen to yourself say these stupid things."

"You can take recordings of my sermons and-"

They're not, are they? What are we going to do when twenty gazillion human blood-drinkers show up in Forks? Not only am I super amazingly against the killing of people, but Sam's pack might just take it as a breach of treaty or something to have them all show up... and then I'll be forced to hurt Colin and Brady, and I really don't want to do that. They do not know that which their fucking shit-headed, sulphur-assed Alpha has them do.

"We're leaving. By Carlisle, Esme, Renesmee," she waved. And she and Emmett heading out, arguing over what he should do after Seminary. His next logical idea was Astrophysics. Apparently, he wanted to see if vampires could survive eating extraterrestrial animals. Idiot. You have to find extraterrestrials first. Unless...

"Kate, Bella and I will stay here to convince those you send us then... Though Leah does have a point."

"Cow-sniffing, shrimp-fucking, fleece-stealing slice of Michael Jackson's hell!" I hated having points.

"There's no way an area the size of Washington is going to be able to support even five normal vampires for any great length of time. The humans are bound to notice something before too long, and if we manage to convince the Volturi not to destroy us for creating an 'Immortal Child,' they might just do so for risking exposure."

"I do not like it either son," Carlisle said as the Denalis minus Kate began to head out. "Send them into other states to hunt, if you must; purchase all you can from the blood banks, if they will drink that. Or see if they will do as we do, even for a small time. But we must try."

And then he and Esme were gone, and suddenly, another thought struck my mind. "Fuck!"

"What?" asked Jake as Edward suddenly fell into deep laughter, falling onto the couch while the rest of us looked on.

"I just thought of something: if Esme's gone, who's going to cook?"

Kate dropped onto the floor, denting it a little, in all out peels of laughter. As did Jake, pulling me down the floor with him. I started punching him to let go of me, and it was at the point he started, er, to stop laughing that Seth and Quil headed out on patrol, and Embry went back into the dining room to salvage what remained of the last decent meal he was likely to have for a long time.

Chapter Fifteen