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What Could Have Been

Summary:
When Edward left, we know that it had a huge impact on Bella's life. But, it also had a huge impact on Jacob's. If Bella had never come to La Push, Jake would have been able to live a normal life... at least as normal as a werewolf can be. Found a nice girl, imprinted, enjoyed being a 'monster'... all of it. This is another Jacob/Angela. Just so you know. And it's AU, too. I'm trying to keep in the New Moon and Eclipse timeline as much as possible... but there are some parts that I have to make up on my own, as the books were from Bella's PoV.


Notes:
This book would replace New Moon... from Jake's PoV.


5. Chapter 5

Rating 5/5   Word Count 2248   Review this Chapter

As I turned back to the party – still in full swing – the strange feeling returned in triplicate. My body felt … numb. Like I had stayed out in the cold too long. But the night air was fairly warm, for Forks at least. But the most disconcerting sensation was the tension. I felt like the tightly coiled spring in a mousetrap; if anyone stepped on me, I was going to snap.

“Jake! Hey, wait up, man!” Quil called from behind me. How had he gotten behind me? The house was up a ways from where I was, not down.

“What are you doing way back here?” I demanded, sounding a little rude, even to myself.

Quil looked sheepish, and remained silent as we continued to trudge up the path to the flickering bonfire.

“Quil? You ever going to answer my question?” I was getting more irritable by the second.

“Well, I kinda, well … followed you and Angela. You were ignoring me the whole party, and I was … Jake?”

My whole body was shaking so violently, I felt like I was going to explode. A red veil had been dropped over my eyes, making me understand how a bull felt right before he charged.

“Dudes, can I join this party?” Embry was standing hesitantly about three feet away, hopeful that we would allow him to join us.

He examined me, and then yelled out. “Sam! Get over here!”

I didn’t think it was possible, but I began to shake even more furiously at the mention of his name.

Sam came at a dead run, apparently slammed into gear by Embry’s frantic tone.

“Quil, go inside,” he ordered, and the tone in his voice made even my ornery best friend obey him.

“Jacob, listen to me very carefully. You have to calm down, or a lot of people are going to get hurt. Just breathe.”

I ignored him, gaining some semblance of control over my rage. “Get out of my way,” I growled at him, and went in the house.

I was pouring myself a drink when Dad wheeled himself in, a loud thump caused by the arm of his wheelchair hitting the doorframe reminding me of his inebriated state.

I didn’t greet him as he entered, but flopped into one of the wooden chairs sitting at the table.

He squinted at me, cocking his head to one side, reminding me of a small child. “Jake?”

I grunted.

“You look kinda funny,” he slurred, and that was it. Every nerve ending in my body exploded, filling me with a pain so intense I didn’t even have a chance to brace myself for it.

Everything burned; the whole world was going up in flames. Had I died? Was this Hell? I could understand if it was … I had been the opposite of a good person, especially lately. But still, I wanted to see Angela again, and there was no way she would be shipped here for her afterlife. It was a selfish thought, but I wanted her here with me.

The pain abated slowly, sending my body into blissful numbness. I felt weak, like I hadn’t moved for years. I stood slowly, and brought a hand to my face scrub over my eyes.

Something cut me, a scratch right above my eye. I howled in pain – wait, howled?

I brought my hands up again, and fell onto my face. I stood up again, and finally looked down at myself.

The first thing I noticed was the fur. It covered every inch of my body, a deep russet color. Then, as my vision cleared, I realized that it was much sharper; every color was more vibrant, every shape more defined. It was like someone had fitted me with the ideal contacts or something. And the smells! I felt like a little kid inside a confectionary – without the excitement. All I felt was fear. What was I? The claws – which had cut me – the fur, the paws … I was a monster.

“Jacob, you have to go outside. I know this is freaky, but you have to get out of here. You don’t want to hurt your dad, do you? Come on. Just go outside.” Sam’s voice was strangely compelling, and I followed his instructions without thinking.

The cold night air stung my nose, and the flickering embers of the fire hurt my eyes, so I turned away from the noise of the crowd and ran the other direction.

Once again, I found myself wondering what had happened. What was I? A monster. The answer came unbidden to my mind again, but I rebuked it. Somehow, Sam knew what was going on, and so did Embry, otherwise he wouldn’t have called his friend. That meant that they were going through the same problem, didn’t it? Or was I just hoping, grasping at straws?

You’re not grasping at straws. Slow down, man, I’m trying to catch up!

I stopped dead, spinning in a circle, searching with my newly enhanced senses for Embry, who had just spoken.

I’m not talking, genius. You’re hearing my thoughts. There was a crashing noise to my right, and a large dark colored … animal, appeared out of the trees.

Embry?

Yup. Pretty cool, huh? And you’re not a monster. You’re a werewolf. Remember all the stories that we used to hear when we were kids? Taha Aki and all of them?

It was impossible … but I couldn’t exactly deny it, not looking at myself now.

I rolled my eyes, and then laughed at myself. I can’t imagine what a wolf would look like rolling his eyes, but the image Embry had shown me was not complimentary.

Ok, so … I’m a werewolf. What now?

Now, we go back so Sam can explain. He sent me because we’re friends, and he knows you don’t like him.

I snorted. That’s an understatement, man. Why do I have to talk to him?

He’s the Alpha male. We don’t have a choice but to do what he tells us. Embry sounded so serious that I wanted to laugh. No one could order me around. This just showed me how much my friend had changed. He used to be the same way.

It’s not like that, Jake. You’ll understand when you talk to him. Come on.

I followed him. What the Hell, it wasn’t like I had to sign up for anything I didn’t want to do, and my new form could kick his sorry human ass.

You’ve gotta stop thinking like that! Sam isn’t the bad guy here, Jacob. We’re all in this together – and yes, I do realize how unbelievably corny that sounded.

I didn’t respond, but I knew he knew how I felt from his thoughts.

Sam stood by a copse of trees about a mile away, completely naked. As a wolf, this didn’t bother me, which was strange. I was so used to everything he did bothering me, that seeing him there naked not bothering me bothered me. Wow, now my own thoughts weren’t even making sense!

Easy, man. Calm down. Embry whispered reassuringly into my mind. I took a deep breath and faced Sam, waiting for him to say something.

Sam gave me a feral smile, and then his face contorted.

Before my eyes, his human-ness fell away and left a giant, midnight black wolf in its place.

Welcome, brother, he said, sounding strangely formal.

I didn’t respond – at least not consciously.

I know you think I’m the bad guy here, but I’m not! He was worried that I wouldn’t like him? I saw that in his mind, as well as other things … the pain over mauling someone named Emily, our most recent argument, Paul’s anger issues … all of the difficult things that Sam had to deal with as the leader of a Pack like ours. Looking through all of this, I realized that Sam was actually a pretty cool guy – the kind of guy I knew I’d be able to become fast friends with. How’s that for irony?

Believe me, it’s weird on my end too, Sam chimed into my thoughts. He sounded amused, but it still freaked me out. I wasn’t used to anyone being able to read my mind, and it wasn’t something I thought I was going to enjoy.

Too bad, Embry though. You get it now?

I went to nod, then remembered my animalistic state.

You get used to it. No worries. A new voice entered the conversation, and another wolf came on the scene. Paul.

You guys couldn’t stay and help for like, five minutes? Billy was a mess, and everyone had to be sent home, and I had to make up a story for Quil … sheesh!

Calm down, Paul. Sam ordered with a sigh. Sorry we saddled you with all that crap, but no, we couldn’t wait.

Paul’s shaggy head turned towards me appraisingly. Welcome, brother, he echoed Sam’s earlier words, then did something strange. He fell to his stomach and rolled over, exposing his throat to me.

What the Hell? I demanded, immediately uncomfortable with the show of submission.

I turned to the rest of them quizzically.

We hadn’t quite gotten that far yet, Paul, Sam explained, his thoughts strained.

`We were going to go with the ‘one bullet at a time’ approach.

Get up! I demanded of Paul, feeling totally lost. Wanna start connecting those dots for me?

Sam came towards me, looking as non-threatening as a giant wolf could. Your grandfather was Ephraim Black.

Great grandfather,I corrected. What does that have to do with anything?

Great grandfather, then. Anyway, he was the last official chief our tribe had.

I pawed the ground impatiently, feeling a bit startled at how easy the wolf’s actions were taking me over.

So what?

Well, the Alpha male – wolf—is, by tradition, the official tribe leader,Sam said cryptically, looking like he thought I was as smart as mud.

Are you telling me my ancestor was a werewolf? That’s interesting, but not exactly relevant. I was really getting frustrated now.

Not just a werewolf. The Alpha! And the position is passed down through blood.

So we’re related? I asked, wondering what the Hell that had to do with Paul thinking that I was dominant.

NO! You’re the Alpha, man. I was just filling in. Sam finally got to the point, and I felt like a huge weight had been dropped on my chest.

I didn’t want to be an Alpha. I was barely a werewolf! I had seen all the responsibilities he had through his thoughts, and I wanted no part of them. I was a kid! I could barely decide what I wanted for breakfast, let alone make life-or-death decisions. These were my friends! No.

No way. You be Alpha, I’m not interested,I told them all, though I was sure they already knew what I would say.

It doesn’t work that way, Jacob. According to tribal traditions –

Dead traditions! I argued back. We don’t even have a Chief anymore. So why should we follow this one? We both know I’d make a mess of the job. You’re good at it. You deserve it. You have it.

But—Sam was not giving up on this! He wanted to, I could tell from his thoughts, but some obscure sense of loyalty to the old ways was stopping him.

Ok, how’s this? If you have to listen to me, I’m telling you to be the Alpha. So there! Does that satisfy your sense of propriety?

Sam sighed resignedly. If you’re sure. But later, I’ll have to step down. I don’t want to do this forever.

Some day,I promised. Now that’s settled, how do I change back? Not that this isn’t cool, but I need to talk to dad, and I promised Angela I’d call her.

We’ll tell you, but be ready for some pretty severe pain. Embry came back into the conversation after being silent for a long time.

Severe pain? I repeated unhappily. Why?

Dude, your whole bone structure changed. Some muscles stretched, some muscles snapped, and some are just floating around in there. It hurts like blazes the first few times, til your body gets used to it.

That didn’t sound fun. Ouch.

You got it, man. Paul chimed in. I didn’t even want to change back the second time.

Enough. He has to change back. Concentrate on yourself, as you see yourself – with someone you care about enough to want to come back to. Then just …drift.

Could he be any more vague?

You’ll understand in a minute. Just try.

He led me through the process, staying in my mind as I thought of my tall, well-muscled frame, dark skin and hair, and big, callused hands, standing next to my dad. He wore a proud grin as we stood there, two against the world. And then … I drifted.

And the world caught fire, again.