"There is a way to be of service to one's country without being a fool;
there is a way to be of use without being used – without being a servant of old men, and their ideas."
Owen Meany in John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany
Chapter Five, He
His hands, however, did not stay there long, seeming to expect someone four, five inches shorter than I was, as I'd been before I started phasing. Realizing this, they travelled upwards, calloused hands moving with the certainty of possession, up my neck and to my face. He was coming still closer, his momentum pressing him unpleasantly close against me as I was pressed further against the fridge, mouth opening in shock, anger, and preparation for the longest string of French known to man or wolves.
"What the mother-fucking, ass-wiping, cunt-licking hell do you think you are fucking doing, duck-stealing, cow-jumping, shit-collecting dickhead?" might've been the start of it, but before so much as the first gasping word of protest could escape my lips, his were on them, tongue taking advantage of my open mouth, one hand doing an awful parody of cupping my face (too harsh, too heavy, too not his) while the other ran back down to my chest, touching places he'd no right to touch.
For one terrible, awful moment, I froze, trying to figure out what awful universe I'd fallen into and what demented god was ruling it. And then the fury was there, seeping into every cell all at once, putting me in a place past anger, past simple disgust, alighting every inch of me with fire such as I had not known before, so much so that I was surprised he didn't pull back at the sudden burning of my skin. And then my hands were moving up to his shoulders, the fury giving me strength beyond his own, and, grabbing the skin there roughly, I pushed him off me so hard he crashed into the table – and would have broke it if it wasn't such an old, sturdy thing. A growl emanated from my throat.
"What the fuck Uley!" I screamed, pausing my oncoming rant just long enough to spit and sputter out his terrible taste, too much salt and much too sour... Not at all like Jake, who was... But I was too angry at the moment to even remember what Jake tasted like, only that this was wrong and I hated it and I was going to castrate the fucking shit-headed monkey-raping koala-stomping dirt-bag with own leg bone here in a minute if he so much as looked at me again and God only knows what I'll do if he tries more than that. In the calmer place, hidden deep beneath the fury, a part of me says Emily can never know and somehow manages to take control of my voice, or at least it's level, so I was hissing the words so lowly a human could not have heard it.
But we were not human, and sometimes we forgot that. Sometimes the animal took over, and in this place was not Leah Clearwater Black and Sam Uley, but an Alpha female away from her back and a dominant male who, even in this hell-hole of salt and sea and sour musk, could smell the holly-like scent that I'd been gaining ever since the packs separated. "I don't know what the hamster-fucking hell is wrong with you, but get a grip on it," I said lowly, softly, an edge of command in it. "I am not yours. I will never be yours. And, all that time ago, when we were dating, I wasn't yours then either. You touch me again and I swear to God that they'll never find the pieces."
"It doesn't matter," he hisses just as low, voice ragged, "you can't be with him. He's wrong. He gave up the Alpha. He gave up his heritage. He protects bloodsuckers. You can't be with him. You just can't." He slowly found his way off the table and, dropping into a predatory crouch, bare feet making no sound against the linoleum though the cups from earlier had been strewn across it in many tiny pieces, the liquid inside now cold and running in rivulets along the dips in the floor, made his way towards me.
I circled away, keeping the table between us, angling for the door, wanting to get out of here. Sam? Making a pass at me? While I was pregnant? Emily staying in her room, though she must have heard the crashes? Me, being here in the first place, trying to be nice? God, what was the world coming too? What was La Push coming to?
La Push, the homeland, the heartland, the place where I was born and where I will die and in whose soil I will be buried, the place from which I had sought to leave for so long and the place to which I was at last returning. The land of our heart, in which mystery and magic still play beneath the cloaking veil of mist that hangs over our peninsula and clears way only to reveal the shadowed sky, so vibrant and alive with stars and the moon, the mother, who turns her light every which way, looking for us, her children lost to the night. The land of our blood that knew us before Q'wati went to the wolves and made them men, that knows us as wolves again, where there is much life and much hope, much suffering and much pain that can never be shared, not with anyone, because what is real here is but a dream elsewhere, and elsewhere they do not have the sight of the sea crashing endlessly against the cliffs, or the comfort of the trees that grow tall and deep and shelter us in their embrace, or the safety of the clouds that blanket the land and kept the ever-watching eyes blind to us and our people.
The land of our ancestors. The land that was Dad's and Grandpa Aaron's and Great-Grandma Abigail's and Oldest Quil's before it ever was mine, whose flesh is now the soil. The land that Ephraim Black made safe for us, as did his son, and his, and as Jacob is doing now and one day our children will... And into this land I give my flesh, to be my children's soil, and my children will give theirs, to nurture my grandchildren. The Land of Lands, La Push.
Now, though, it was wrong, and the stars do not shine as brightly on us, for they know that the two packs cannot last any longer. We must be one again, so that all will be happy, and all will be well, and children can know their parents, and parents may hold their children's children, and the stars may shine again upon the homeland, the heartland, the place where I was born and where I will die and in whose soil I will be buried.
Things had gotten out of control. There were too many vampires. They had been here for too long.
If Jake had taken the mantle of his forebears from the beginning, when we were one small pack and were, mostly, a family – of second and third and fourth cousins, of brothers, - then maybe... Or if he'd stolen it back when the idea of killing Nessie was first brought up, right before the split, then maybe, just maybe...
But we are who we are. I am a bitch and Sam is a pig walking on two legs and Jake is the Alpha-in-the-rough who just needed time...
...And we are what is primal within us. We are wolves in human clothing, and this is not about the Leah-and-Sam that once was, when we were both human, I see that now, in his stance, in his words. Sam loves Emily. I honestly think he just wants what's best for me in an overprotective, prudish, idiot-brotherly way.
But he was not Sam and I was not Leah.
I growled at him, baring teeth and crouching as low as I could manage. I have a mate already, stray, it said, and you cannot overpower him. Run along before you kill yourself fighting.
His returning snarl was from somewhere in him farther gone. It made me think, "Me Tarzan, you Jane," only with that R-rated connotation Disney leaves out of their movies.
It also made me back for the door, feet moving slowly, my own footsteps not so soft as his as I fought to keep my awkward balance. I was going to kill him! I was going to fucking tear off one of his God-be-damned, flea-bitten, cow-humping legs, pull out one of the tinnier bones, and use that to saw off his nearly-non-existent, hypocritical, cheating balls. Then I was going to take them, shove them down his throat till he choked on them, and then show him the true meaning of cruel and unusual punishment – but not today. I was half as big as a whale and dressed as an elf in a horror flick today. It was one thing to fight the Volturi while I was still feeling somewhat mobile, but it's another thing entirely to get into a maiming session with your ex when you don't have to, especially when said ex seems to have no problem breaking personal boundary rules. The twins wanted to rip him a new one and I quite agreed with them, but I could never live with myself if I let them get hurt like this. I'd honestly come here to just talk to Em and annoy Sam. I wasn't looking for baby showers or sexual assaults.
What do you think, cubs? Should Mommy stay and fight, or should she go out and get mouthwash and come back to fight another day – with pointy things? They ceased their kicking for a moment, and I took that as "Mouthwash, Mommy, please," which was good because if I didn't find some soon I might have to burn my tongue... which would probably heal in a day or two, and then I'd have to do it all over again every week or so for the rest of my life, and that would be just a terrible hassle...
Sam managed words now, trying to straighten up, but seeming like a man possessed, unable to control all of his movements. Like the main characters in a movie I'd seen where aliens were trying to mind control everyone – the ones trying to fight it, that is; the ones who didn't looked like zombies. "I- I don't know why but- but you just can't," he tried to force himself to stand upright, but failed entirely and settled for crouching by the chair he'd broken earlier. "Things – they don't make sense when you're around. I- I love Emily. But-" he put a hand to his forehead, pressing hard, and I could feel the doorknob behind me, trying to turn it without turning around, "but whenever you're around the world- You smell like- Can't stop the things I-" The door clicked, and I tugged it open, trying to get a space long enough for me to dash through. "The thought of you- you with Jake – makes me-"
The door was open; I didn't wait to hear what he said. I just ran out of there, pulling the door shut after me and jumping into the Audi. The gas station by the old church, that was where I had to go. Mouthwash. Lots and lots of mouthwash. And mints. And possibly some sulphuric acid.
I slammed on the gas, turning around in the drive so fast that, when I saw Jared running towards the house from the corner of my eye, by the time I turned around both he and the house were out of sight. I was at the gas station in no time flat and, nearly using werewolf speed, I ran into the place, found a bottle of Listerine, and opened it in the aisle, glaring at Andrea McCauley, the attendant who'd been working in this place since we were in high school.
"You know, if you're looking for a hit," the girl said picking at her fingernails, "A beer costs only eighty-nine sense more."
I guzzled the bottle, threw it over some shelves into the trash, and grabbed the four other bottles on the shelf. On my way to the register I picked up the entire display of TicTacs and deposited these on the counter before going back, grabbing a good amount of gum, and adding it to the pile, daring Andrea to say something as I pulled the top off a box of the mints and pouring the whole container into my mouth as I simultaneously pulled out "my" credit card from my back pocket.
"Fifty-two fifty,"she said, swiping the card. "You want a bag, or you going to eat it all here?"
"Ha ha, very funny." I'd like to see her deal with her creepy ex sticking his tongue down her throat while his fiancé was in the next room, when all she wanted to do was mock him for a bit and find some kind of solution for the two packs problem. I mean, really.
We weren't the animals we could become. It didn't have to be like this. We could be civil to each other. We could be that family of brothers (and sisters) again, or at least be whatever cousins and second and third and further cousins were to each other when they weren't feuding and fighting wars, however much I doubted that was possible from every story Kate had ever told me of the long-dead royal courts. We could live in proper houses, at least, thought the rock was almost home. And things could be as they were always supposed to be. With Jake in charge and the pups looked after and Sam knocked down from his I-am-Alpha-hear-me-roar perch...
And even as I gathered my bags of things and went to sit on the hood of the Audi, wondering why I'd come back to the Rez in the first place, I wondered how I could have ever stayed so long away.