The Mythical Creature's Guide to Modern Warfare (19/26)

"The illusion which man has that his will is free is so deeply rooted that I am ready to accept it.
I act as though I were a free agent. But when an action is preformed it is clear that all forces of the
universe from all eternity conspired to cause it, and nothing I could do could have prevented it.
It was inevitable."

W. Somerset Maughum Of Human Bondage

Chapter Nineteen, Sierra

"Hang on a second," I said as we got into the car and were pulling out of the lot. "What the monkey-fucking toe-chewing nostril-sucking penguin-pinching hell just happened?" I thought back over the last few minutes... I remembered us arguing... and I remembered paying the two guys who smelt least like Jack and Coke fifty bucks each to sign something...

He turned south on Forks Avenue, heading back to the Cullens' place. After about a mile, he turned left on what appeared to be a service road between Sportsman Club and Russell, but was really the ridiculously long driveway that wrapped behind Bogachiel State Park and stood on the edge of the Olympic National Forest... Quite simply, and with the most self-satisfied grin I'd seen on any guy outside of the post-coital, Jake told me, "We got married."

I thought about it for a moment. That would make sense, what with the paper in my hand telling me that exact same thing. I was just kinda hoping that was something my brain had made up after being poisoned by bad eggs. Now that he mentioned it, I remembered him asking, and me saying something about eloping... "Jake?"

"Yeah honey?"

"Please stop the car. And don't call me honey."

"Sure thing, poodle," he pulled the car to the side of the road and parked it, though.

I opened my door, "Don't call me poodle either. Or sugar, dear, or anything else that might come to your mind."

"Not even sex muffin?"

I rolled my eyes, slammed the door, and climbed into the back seat. "No."

"What are you doing in the back seat?" he asked after a moment.

"Waiting for you, of course."

The poor boy probably thought I wanted to "park" with him, and manoeuvred into the back fairly quickly. Once there, I turned to him with a sweet smile on my face and leaned in really close to his ear... before yelling, "WHAT THE FUCK WERE YOU THINKING, BLACK?" This was accompanied by a large crack as well, caused when Jake had jumped backwards from my yelling and into the left-side door. I think it was the sound of the door pull falling off, but I'm not sure. It might've been the car frame itself. It was pretty dark, even for a Washington winter evening, and only the faintest light hit us. Only super-werewolf eyes helped me see the mask of confusion – and mild pain – clouding his features now.

"God-flapping damn, Leah, what was that for?"

I crossed my arms. "We, apparently, just got married, that's what it's for!"

"What's with the 'apparently'? You were there."

"I do a good job of repressing unpleasant things."

"So the guy wasn't an Elvis impersonator... We're heading back to a house full of vampires who can impersonate any dead singer from the last hundred years you want."

Trying to keep my calm and failing entirely, I punched him in the shoulder and, er, said, "This is NOT about Elvis."

"It's not?" Poor Jake looked generally confused. "Then what's it about? You said you wanted to-"

I put my face into my hands and took a deep breath. When I lowered them, I looked straight into his deep brown eyes – so dark that, especially now, you couldn't tell where his iris ended and his pupil began. Perfect for a horror movie, even more perfect for a real-life werewolf. God, I don't know what's going on. I mean, I love him. I love Jake with all my heart. It was sort of ridiculous really how much I loved him. He made me feel whole, complete, you know – not like anything been missing before, but like I was a glass of lemonade or something and he was just that touch more of sugar needed to make it perfect. I could laugh and joke with him, and he got me, a lot more then anyone else I knew got me. I mean, add the fact that he looked freaking hot when he was in Alpha-mode, was very hot normally, and was so endearingly sweet when I needed him to be and almost as big a bitch as I was when I didn't. I'd fully every intention of chaining him to me somehow – in the distant future, possibly when we were in our thirties, and most probably with an actual chain – I had in no way prepared for this. Very, very carefully – so as not to scream – I asked, "Why do I get the feeling," (breathe, Leah, breathe), "that this is in some way... plan B?"

"Plan B?"

"As in, you couldn't cause Sam so much physical pain they'd have heard him screaming in Timbuktu, so you decided to try to make him jealous instead, and with all the talk about him and Emily finally getting married, and Mom and Charlie, the first thing you could come up with was..." I made a strange gesture between the two of us that, I suppose, was trying to indicate us tying the knot. It looked more like my hand had been possessed by the ghost of a one-handed knitter, but it got the idea across.

As soon as he realized what I was getting at – maybe even sooner then I realized it – Jake started protesting. "It's not like that, Leah. Not like that at all-"

"Isn't it?"

"No, I mean... Hoover-fucking-Dam, Leah... Didn't you pay any attention earlier?"

"Apparently not enough," I made a more traditional wave at the certificate sitting in the front seat, "because now, you tree-faced, thigh-bone-humping fart-drinker, we're married."

Sadly, "I'm sorry, Lee, but I thought-"

"It is!"

"Then," he asked, now thoroughly confused, "what the fuck is the problem?"

"I don't know!" I raised my palms to my forehead and pressed down. Hard. "I'm just confused and dazed and hormonal and I'm not sure if we've gone out and done this because we're ready for it or because its this whole wolf-thing... I don't know anything any more and it's driving me fucking mad. I mean, sometimes it's hard for me to remember Kate's older then gunpowder and, I dunno, everything but sliced bread – let alone a vampire. And then there's Nessie, who I should hate, but has ended up, oddly enough, my best girl friend since Emily went et tu, Brute on me, and I hate children but, lately, being around her and just having to freaking babysit her and all that, I've found myself thinking how cute she is, and sometimes I even catch myself thinking 'I want that,' even though I'm sure I can't, despite everything Carlisle has said... And everything's all messed up, you know? And then there's the part of me that thinks this means we're going to die whenever the Volturi come..."

"You think too much, Leah."

I hit him again. "Somebody in the pack has- Oh my God! The pack. What do we tell them? What do we tell Mom?"

Jake kissed me to shut me up. I must say, it worked, and lead to the "parking" I'm sure he was expecting. Though having sex in the back of an Audi is not something I recommend when both of you are over six feet tall. We made it work somehow... though we might have bent a few things. And gotten an imprint of one of the seat belts tattooed on my back. But it was very worth it. For a guy that was a virgin only a few months ago, he's learned quite a lot... but I may be biased.

"God," I said as we climbed back into the front and started for the manor again, "and to think Rose thought knitting would be enough to calm the inner beast."

"Please tell me knitting, in this case, is an euphemism for-"

Dryly, "No." I looked down at the sheet of paper in my hand, not quite believing what it said still. A tingly feeling – a little like the start of phasing, but going no further then that – filled me. About a quarter-of-a-mile from the house, I declared, "I'm keeping my name."

"Good. It'd be confusing if I had to start calling you 'Jac-'" I hit him again. "Fucking hell, Leah, I need that arm you know."

"I'm still angry at you."

"You can't be angry at me; it's our wedding night."

I groaned and looked skyward, barely noticing as the car came to a halt. "Please tell me this is a dream, 'cause I'm not coping with this at all."

But, I mean, how bad was it really? I mean, Jake and I were going to be together... and now the state of Washington acknowledged that we were. So yeah shared income taxes. Now just to get that income...

Now just to explain it to Mom. It was New Year's Eve and still relatively early... I could call her. But I can already see where that conversation would lead to ("Hey Mom," I would say, and then she'd say, "Hi Leah. Long time, no see." "Well, you know, being a werewolf is hard. But guess what?" "Charlie already told me about Jake getting arrested. They dropped the charges though, so it's not going to go on his permanent records or anything. Sam has to stay overnight though..." "No, Mom. Not that." "Then what?" "Jake and I got married!" Silence. "Mom? Mom?") and ends with me having to call 911 because she's gone into shock. I should tell Billy first so that he can tell Mom... so at least someone will be with her when she passes out. (I can see how that conversation would go too: "Hey Billy," I'd say, then he'd ask, "Are you pregnant?" all hopeful. Then I'd say, "No... but Jake and I did get married like twenty minutes ago." "Well, what are you doing talking to me for? Go! It's your honeymoon. Make me some grand-babies!" "Billy!" "When you're done, be sure to prop your legs up, that way the sperm are more likely to-" and and that point I'd hang up on him and go console myself with large amounts of ice cream.)

But we can do this. I mean, it's not like being married is going to change anything. I mean, we'll still be here, living at the rock, preparing to fight the Volturi, waiting for various nomads and covens to show up from all around the world and try not to prey on the human population of Forks, and essentially sharing our "place" with my little brother and two of his friends. Only our income taxes will change, and since we have no income other then what the leeches give us, we don't even have to worry about that. It's just a fucking piece of paper anyway...

We entered the manor to Edward letting loose a spasm of laughter that caused every vampire (and half-vampire) in the room to turn away from the documentary on World War Two they were watching and stare curiously at him. They were a curious group – Edward, sitting next to Bella, with little Ness between them, on the couch; Kate sitting on the floor below them, her back against the couch and elbows propped on knees, looking even younger then the seventeen she claimed; the mated nomads, Peter and Charlotte, were sitting on the adjoining couch looking bored (I took this to be because they'd been turned, or so I'd been told, during said war), Charlotte flicking idly through a stack of fashion magazines while Peter was doing the same with a pile of Country Livings; Mary, Motuckquas, whatever the hell she wanted us to call her, was the most curious, sitting at Edward's piano bench and knitting at about twenty-miles a second, so that feet of what could only be scarf for the house or, maybe, to run along the boundary were forming as we watched – but all had the same expression on their face as they turned to look at Ed-weird. He was the oldest vampire here, after Mary and Kate, I realized, and soon after that was certain that Kate hadn't gone with her sisters and Eleazaar to Egypt for more then some cock-up with one of their vampires, but because she was over a thousand-years-old and, from what Nessie had said earlier (God, could it have only been today?), it seemed that the older a vampire was, the more others listened to them, however grudgingly. And Kate gladly let Edward be in charge here, because it was the Cullen's home, and now the "head" of this gathering looked like he'd lost his mind. 'Cause nobody, not even vampires, laugh during World War Two documentaries.

"Sorry," he said, turning to look at the door, "the wolves are back."

They all turned at looked at us, the nomads crinkling their noses, Kate frowning. "Chyort voz'mi!" she said, scrambling to her feet and coming over to us. "I was sure you were going to drive to Las Vegas too."

I glared at her and stomped over to the place she'd vacated, sitting down and trying to listen to the narrator describe in gruesome detail and not-at-all-vague euphemisms the Siege of Leningrad. "I hate you."

"I love you, Aunt Leah," Nessie said, sliding off the couch and into my lap. She turned around there to face me and lifted her hand to my face. She showed me pictures of her relations' various weddings and the wedding scene from The Little Mermaid.

I rolled my eyes at her. "Yes, Ness."

She clapped her hands and looked up at her dumb-ass father. "I win the bet Daddy!"

I would have sprang up and started shouting if Nessie wasn't still in my lap. Jake, who was watching Mary knit curiously, as if it were some sort of dumb sporting event boys liked to watch, certainly looked stunned. We both contented ourselves with a resounding, "What!"

Bella, clicking the TV off, calmly explained, "Jasper has another bet going on. This one was on when you would get married. Emmett had by Christmas, Nessie before wolf breeding seasons begins, Rose February, et cetera – congratulations by the way – so they've that pot to divide up, plus the other one."

"Other one?" I asked faintly, not sure I wanted to know and debating internally on whether I should stay for the answer or run now for the kitchen. I was starving.

"The one on whether or not you'd be pregnant when you did."

"Oh," I said even more faintly. I as going to have to extricate Nessie from my lap and head straight for the kitchen. That was obviously the only place left I could go where I wouldn't be caught up in this insanity. I mean, I was married now for Gods sake to a high school senior talking to vampires about the bets they've placed on my love life. Something was clearly wrong with the world. I don't know what, but something was. Maybe I'll wake up soon and just find out that I'm dreaming. Yeah, that's it. I'm dreaming and soon the aliens will show up and...

I looked up. No aliens, just perfectly white ceiling.


Time for an emotional breakdown in the kitchen, accompanied by my one true love, Karamel Sutra, and whatever I can manage to microwave without burning the house down. Which, while they would deserve it, the blood-sucking fiends, would leave me entirely kitchen-less.

"So," asked Mary as she untangled a new skein of yarn to add to her creation, "who wins if Kiwidinok didn't know she was with child when they wed?"

I began to yell, "I am not a fucking kiwi, you lame-ass, pansy-footed, snake-fucking, banana-eater," but only got as far as the kiwi before I started choking on my own breath. Jake, I noticed dimly, had collapsed into the piano, hopefully breaking some important part of it.

"Aunt Rose," Nessie said calmly, then poked me in the chest. "Daddy, Aunt Leah's not breathing."

If I could've, I'd have shouted, "No shit," at her but, as it was, clearly couldn't. I settled for glaring at her as I passed out. Maybe, if I was lucky, they'd give me Versed again... I'd a feeling I was going to need it.

Chapter Twenty