"Anyone who clings to the historically untrue – and thoroughly immoral – doctrine that
'violence never solves anything' I would advise to conjure up the ghosts of Napoleon Bonaparte and
the Duke of Wellington and let them debate it. The ghost of Hitler could referee, and the jury might
well be the Dodo, the Great Auk, and the Passenger Pigeon. Violence, naked force, has settled more
issues in history than has any other factor, and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst.
Breeds that forget this basic truth have always paid for it with their lives and freedoms."
Lt. Col. Jean V. Dubois (Ret.) in Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers
Chapter Sixteen, Papa
Five days after the majority of the blood-drinking parasites left, the phone rang. Twice.
Alice and Jasper had found some old friends of his somewhere in Mexico, and were sending them here. Rose and Emmett had come across one of the North American nomads in Wyoming – Mary, I think her name was – and she'd agreed to come to the manor and see what the big deal was.
All three were of the traditional child-of-the-night, I-want-to-suck-your-blood variety. And they were coming to Forks. Today.
Which was why I had to play babysitter. Again.
"Urgh! Why do I have to do it? Why can't Seth do it? Or Bella? Or, hell, we send the kid out into the forest to play by herself. If she's studying the Kabbalah in ancient Hebrew while watching C-Span," (which she was, having decided to make a study of world religions, and intensely interested in the democratic process in the Senate, saying that it was a most interesting combination of 'persons, elected by the people, at the farthest position from direct responsibility to the people' blah blah blah. She was like three-months old. I could vote, but was just glad the process worked somehow), "then I think she can take care of herself in the forest for a few hours."
But they pulled out the bullet-proof car, placed a car seat in the passenger side, and strapped me in, telling me they'd call after they explained the situation to Peter, Charlotte, and Mary and it was safe to come home. Yes, they said home. As in the manor, not my mother's house.
"Oh, it'll be fun," said Jake, as he buckled Nessie into the seat next to me. "You can go to the border, wait for one of Sam's pack to come around, and tell them about all the guests we're going to be getting now that we know we're going to be getting them."
"But why me? Why not you? Nessie likes you too, don't you Ness?"
"I like Uncle Jake very much," said the I-shouldn't-look-like-I'm-a-toddler monster, "he is very furry and makes Aunt Leah smile."
"See?" I said. "She likes you. You like cars. This is a nice car. It works out for everyone."
Jake came over to my side of the car, kissed my cheek through the open window, and said, "The burdens of being Alpha never cease. And, if it turns out the Cullens' 'friends' don't like werewolves very much, I'd rather it be me getting mauled."
"How sweet... and very annoying. You said it'd just be more sex when you promoted me-"
Slightly aghast, "Lee! There's a baby in the car."
"So? The kid knows everything already, I'm sure she knows why there are so many beds in that house when she's the only one who sleeps. But, as I was saying, you never said anything about babysitting. Or having to talk to Sam's pack."
"You can yell at them if you like."
I huffed. "Okay. Fine. But I hate you very much right now. And you still haven't got me a crown."
"Next time I'm in Port Angeles, I'll pick you one up from Burger King-"
I stomped on the gas then and flew down the driveway, hopefully running over his toes in the process. He deserved it. And they'd heal fairly quickly anyway. But still. It was the first time since our little "talk" in the forest that we'd spoken of me being Alpha female, whatever it meant, and I still had no idea what it did mean other then a fun new title to shake in Seth's face, not that I'd had the chance."Stupid, God-cursed, son of a female dog and an onion..." I said through gritted teeth, my anger only fading when Nessie asked, "Why is it you'll mention sex in front of me, Aunt Leah, but won't curse?" I banged my head on the steering wheel instead and the little metal logo-thing on it poked me. "Ow." Stupid car. Stupid vampires. Stupid Jake. Stupid Sam.
"I think you have misplaced anger issues, Aunt Leah."
"No shit, Sherlock. Thought it's far from misplaced."
"Whatever you say. Can we go to the park after you shout at the other pack?" She said this so innocently that it seemed ridiculous to imagine she was going to be the death of us all if the Cullens couldn't find anyone other then these three nomads.
With a sigh, I agreed, and pulled off the road and drove the car into the forest about half-mile, until the brush got too thick or the river too near. But, if I was going to confront Sam's pack, it was probably best we didn't do it on the road where anyone could drive by and see giant wolves arguing next to a baby and a parked car. Turning off the engine, I looked at the girl who would soon be my niece and, with another sigh, pulled out the iPhone. I dialled Sam's number.
Emily picked up. "Hello?"
"Hi, Em," I said with as much politeness as I dared. She was my cousin. She was once my friend. She didn't mean to ruin my life. She had every right to be happy. I was happier now with Jake anyway. She loved Sam. I should hate her for doing everything to me, but I couldn't. It wasn't her fault Sam imprinted on her. It wasn't her fault that what she needed was a lover, not a brother or a friend. It was Sam's he imprinted on her. It was his he didn't fight it. It was his that he was such a jerk about it after, when we were all one pack. It was his that I couldn't be enough for him... But I had Jake now, and I was happy and in love and Alpha female, whatever that meant, and was supposed to be telling the other pack we were having more vampire visitors.
"Wish her Merry Christmas."
I glared at the small child who was now climbing out of her child seat and into the back. There were built in CD/DVD players in the seats, and a decent-sized collection of Disney and Plant Earth DVDs in the arm rest. It figured the latter was kinda like the vampire version of cooking shows. But oh well. "Er, merry belated Christmas. Sorry for ruining your dinner and all that."
"You didn't ruin it," she says honestly. By the background sounds I'm sure she doesn't think I can hear, I can tell she's cooking. Probably her stupid muffins again. If I could cook muffins too, I'm sure everyone would love me... "We were just finishing when Jared sent Colin to tell Sam."
"Er, that's good."
"But I'm so glad you called."
That's surprising. "Are you?"
"Yes," her voice went high and squeaky, like she was excited about something. It rang in my ears like a dog whistle, and I wondered if Sam had ever told her how annoying that was, or if he liked it. He might – Sam was always a little weird that way. I mean, I was half certain he liked the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus, and hadn't hummed them in his head while we were all one big happy back just because they were on the radio and catchy... "Sam and I finally set a date!"
It took me a moment to process this and then, "About time!" Even if they both were the largest jerks in the world, it was hard not to be happy for her. They had, after all, only been engaged for about two years. "When is it?"
"March. March 23rd. Oh, there's so much to plan and do. You'll help me, right?"
"The boys are just being boys right now; they'll get over this 'don't come onto each other's land' thing son and you'll be able to come onto the Rez again. Aunt Sue's been missing you a since you left..."
Yeah. Right. I bet she was delighted to have her teenage werewolf children out of the house so she could hang out with her boyfriend/fiancé (had Charlie even asked her yet? I remember him talking to Bella about looking for a ring, but had they found one already? Had he asked her without one? I'll have to figure that out one day). As well, it wasn't like she didn't know where to come and visit Seth and me... But that's water under the bridge. A mouldy, rotten, never-the-most-well-built bridge on a fault zone... but under it none the less. "Actually, Em, that's why I called... I kinda need to talk to Sam or Jared. Pack business and all that. Kinda important. Can you send one of them my way?"
"Sure... Sam's just in the living room. Where are you?"
"The boundary line, about half-mile south of the one-ten. He'll know what I mean."
I heard her tell Sam in the background. I looked back at Nessie, who was intently watching what appeared to be the mountain-themed episode of Planet Earth. She gave me a thumbs-up and asked if I could pass her the bag Bella'd packed. I did, and she pulled out a bag of gummy bears. Seeing my look, she poured a handful into my hand and went back to her video. "He says he'll be there in ten minutes."
The boundary between the Cullens'/our land and Sam's (here after to be known, respectively, as our territory and the La Push Pack's territory) falls roughly eight miles from La Push proper and five miles from the town centre of Forks. It bends north-west for fifteen miles to the middle of Lake Ozette and south-west to the mouth of the Hoh River. The leeches – and for the moment our pack (to be called, for convenience, the Olympic coven and pack) – has the stretch of land from the border east to the Olympic National Park, and between Beaver and the head of the Hoh River. We go around their land, they don't go to ours. It works like that. Conveniently, the someone in modern times built the Goodman Mainline Road right across the one-ten, and it falls in so near the right place La Push gave up three feet to make it perfect. Driving a half-mile south of it brought me almost to the Quillayute River. Sam couldn't miss me, even if I didn't have an exotic Mercedes parked some distance from any formal road.
I dragged Nessie and the gummy bears from the back seat and sat, munching them with her on the hood of her father's million-dollar car. "Hey Sam," I called out to the wolves I could hear running my way, "and, let me guess, Jared?"
They paused and walked out to the car before I could see either, but it didn't matter. "Oh, you brought Paul? I would've though he was do busy trying – and failing – to diddle Rachel, but I guess you must have been giving him tips – on the failing part, that is, so that he'd know what not to do." I slid off the hood, unconcerned about how much of my leg was revealed when my dress slid up, and handed the gummy bears back to Nessie, and asked if her mom had packed any fruit roll-ups.
"No, but we have pudding cups and juice boxes."
"Grape, fruit punch, apple-"
"Chuck me an apple, will you?"
As I stuck the straw through the little tinfoil hole in the juice box, I noticed box boys looking at me oddly. "You're not," Paul said slowly, his brains obviously the only one working before ten o'clock in the morning, "pregnant or anything, are you?"
I burst into laughter. "You guys," I managed through chortles, "are idiots. I mean," I tried to catch my breath, "why would I tell you if I was?" Which I'm not. I mean, I'd my period only what? Two weeks ago? I wouldn't even know if I was. Which I'm not. Unless werewolf cubs grow super-fast, like half-vampire ones... And now I'm freaking myself out needlessly. "I'm a werewolf. I'm hungry. God." I took a sip of the apple juice. Tasted like cardboard and sugar, but it was still pretty good. I'll have to make sure to get more of those.
"Em said you had pack things to discuss. I assume it's about that female vampire who ran through here on Christmas?"
"Irina," I nodded.
"Whatever. What about her?"
"Why in such a rush, Uley? Is it just habit, or do you just have no manners at all?" I sucked on the straw, being real sure that it made that annoying sound straws make when what they're in is empty as loud as it could, and watched as he figured out my insult. Seeing all those wheels turning in his head was a rarity, though hardly a treat. "Anyway, the Cullens have this plan to deal with the fallout of your incompetence."
"And that involves The Spawn being on the border how?"
"Nessie's not that bad. Except when she's trying to explain the Fermi Paradox."
"It's a serious question," Nessie said in her prim and proper way, opening a juice box for herself. "If the universe is about fourteen billion years old and contains a multitude of Earth-like planets, then we should be able to detect signs of extraterrestrial existence, such as probes or radio signals. Since we do not, either Hanson's idea of the Great Filter is correct, and humans are relatively unique, or it is the nature of intelligence to destroy..." Nessie noticed at me glaring at her, and gave me a small "I'm sorry Aunt Leah" smile as she stopped.
"Like I said," turning back to the boys, "She's mostly not that bad. Better then Kate anyway. Can't look at a banana any more with feeling sick... But Nessie being here's just temporary. I'm babysitting. And no," I turned my glare on Paul, who was snickering, "It's not that funny."
"Yes it is. You've turned into such a girl-"
I threw the empty juice carton at him. "Funny, last I checked, I was a girl. I've even had Jake confirm it for me, in case I was confused that day. What's your excuse? Rachel decide she'd rather do a girl then your sorry little ass, or couldn't she tell the difference?"
"We don't need to-"
"Of course we need to fight, Sam! You, for one, are a giant douche-bag. One giant, six-foot-something bag of expired douche. Nice of you to finally set a date with Emily after all this time, too. You've only been engaged for how long? Since a month – two at the max – after we broke up?" (more like six, but still), "What did you do? Knock her up? I don't think you've got her up a pole – she didn't mention it over the phone – but, then again, she might just expect I already know. After all, we're cousins. And you, Paul, we'll, there's so much I could say to you about letting yourself imprint on Rachel, but it's just too obvious for me to even bother wasting words on it.
"So I'm just here to tell you the Cullens' plan to keep us from all being killed, which Jake thought you might like to hear."
Paul snorted. "What are you then, his bitch? Tell-"
"Language, Paul!" I gestured at Nessie. "I don't want her ending up with a mouth like yours. And I'm nobody's bitch," I said, not caring that I'd just yelled at Paul for that very word, "I'm Alpha female," whatever the hell that means. I honestly just thought he was having me tell the La Push wolves 'cause he didn't want to have to explain to Emily why he killed her fiancé, "and you're not, so you can just run off and blow yourself. If you can find anything to blow."
I turned back to Sam. I was pleased to see that he wasn't – pleased to see that I'd been promoted, whatever that meant. Some kind of werewolf engagement? Common-law wolf marriage? Vice-president? Who knew? I as happy, he was happy, whatever we each thought was going on. All I knew is that I wanted a better crown then the cardboard one I'd been promised. I'm sure the Cullens had one in their basement and, if not, the Denali clan had to have one after all the time they spent doing various members of royal houses. "Anyway, we're having people over to prove to the Volturi that Nessie grows and all that. Nomads. The few other covens that exist. They're not veggies-"
"But," I said loudly, "Edward and Kate are going to force them to eat out of the state, at the very least, or use bagged blood, or go veggie for a while. No one from Forks, or La Push, or anywhere nearby is going to get hurt if we can help it-"
"This is the most dangerous-!"
"It's the only thing we can do! Either this, or they're going to kill Nessie and-"
Stepping forward, to the very edge of the boundary, "Well, maybe she should be!"
I jumped backwards, grabbing Nessie from her perch on the car hood and holding her close to me. I don't care if she was soon-to-be-idiot-in-law's daughter, or if her father was a cheap popcicle. She was just a baby, and a cute, if somewhat annoying, one at that who called me Aunt Leah and shared her juice boxes with me. I clutched her to my right side, one of my (dare I say 'subtly muscled'?) arms wrapped around her more squishable parts of her while her little white arms clung to my mud-streaked dress. I held my other out, curved like claws, as I crouched down protectively. Very cooly, I might add, looking nothing like anything from West Side Story. "You so much as touch the air she's breathing and I'm gonna beat you so bad your granddad's going to be spinning in his grave."
"You've gone insane!" Sam tried to insist to me, in a half-crouch himself. I think even the stubbly hairs of his five-o'clock-shadow were trying to stand on end. "She's a vampire and-"
"Half a vampire. Meaning she's half human," I my own voice going low as hint of a growl slipped into it.
A snarled came from his own, "She's a vampire and needs to be destroyed, just like the others. I told you they were dangerous. I told you-"
"And I told you to stay out of my fucking business, Uley! You try to hurt this child and you won't live to regret it. Even Paul thinks you're being stupid, which is something. We're just trying to-"
"You know what will happen if the Volturi come."
"They'll come either way now, whether or not Nessie's alive. The Cullens are-"
"Are you their pets now, Leah?"
"Will you stop the mule-shitting whale-ass interrupting me!"
Paul was staying back, half-crouched himself, but looking like he didn't want this fight. And it was Paul we were talking about. It might only have been because Rachel would have locked him out of her pants for a month if she heard he'd been beating on her brother's girlfriend, but still. At least he was behaving smart. Unlike Sam. I was all the way crouching down now, my free hand supporting some of my weight as I remained poised on the balls of my feet. Sam was only a head above me, and Nessie was scooting around to clutch onto my stomach, to free my other hand too. Smart kid. Annoying, but smart. "You're putting all of La Push in danger over a vampire!" he hissed through clenched teeth and, unconsciously I think, stepped menacingly towards me.
It was enough though. He crossed the border, and before I could even think another thought, those damned maternal or animal or whatever the hell they were instincts kicked in and I was phased, exploding out of my clothes as Nessie scrambled to hold onto my belly-fur and clawing at the first part of Sam I could reach.