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Dreamcatcher

Summary:
Dream Jacob/OC. Post-Eclipse. Elizabeth Foster is your typical grad student. When she interns on a summer research project looking for dire wolves in the Olympic Peninsula, she finds more than she bargained for.


Notes:


12. Waking the Dreamer

Rating 4.5/5   Word Count 2138   Review this Chapter

PART TWELVE: Waking the Dreamer

[Elizabeth POV]

We never let go, even when our hands were no longer touching I could still feel him. To say we'd forged a bond would be misleading, the bond had been there since that first moment in the woods. Perhaps it was better to say a critical step had been taken toward accepting what it meant. We weren't there yet, but I could feel it like a distant rainstorm, faint but inevitable. When we found Kat in the antique shop, I heard very little of what she had to say. I was aware of how she was looking at me, but I was too deeply entwined in the moment to reassure her.

The drive back to the motel was filled with an uncomfortable silence. I sat in the front seat as I had before, but I could feel his eyes on me the entire way. When we pulled up, Kat grabbed my arm before I could open the door, her green eyes worried.

"Tell me what happened, Beth." The words were urgent, she could feel me slipping away. "Whatever it is, I'll help you."

I took a deep breath, steeling myself for what I had to say. "I love you, Kat." I put my hand over hers. "But you can't help me with this." Gently, I disengaged from her, pulling the latch on the door. "This is between me and him." I was out of the car before she could say anything else. The one thing I was absolutely certain of was that I had to face this on my own.

He was waiting for me, standing where the far edge of the parking lot bordered the ever-present woods. I ran, not because I was afraid that Kat would stop me, but because I was afraid I might stop myself. I was in too deep, this had to keep going or I'd never know how the story was supposed to end.

When I reached him, he held his hand out to me. "Ready?"

I looked up into his eyes, the same dark and fathomless eyes from my dreams, and then put my hand in his. "Yes."

He smiled, the sort of smile that made my heart skip a beat. One moment I stood beside him, the next we were racing through the trees. Jake held me in his arms, cradled against his chest as though I weighed nothing. He moved through the forest like a ghost, or a wild thing, swift and silent. I tightened my arms around his neck and felt more than heard him chuckle, his arms holding me a little closer. "Don't be afraid," he murmured in my ear.

Fear was part of what I felt, but with it was exhilaration, the sense that I was embarking on something strange, exciting and unlike anything I had ever known. We were traveling deep into the heart of the forest, away from civilization and into places where human footprints seldom left their mark. The landscape was a familiar one to me, I'd walked here in my dreams on more than one night, treading the hallowed halls of the primeval wood. He seemed to know it better than I did, taking a path only known to him, until suddenly we could see the cloud-silvered sky through the tops of the forest giants.

When he stopped, we stood in a sheltered vale, the centerpiece a mist-shrouded waterfall. He set me on my feet at the water's edge, and I stood completely still for a long moment, absorbing the quiet beauty of our surroundings. "This is amazing," I whispered, looking up at him. "How did you find this place?"

He smiled shyly. "I've had a lot of time to explore on my own. One of those times I came here."

I turned to face him and took a deep breath. "The way we came here... that's part of what you have to explain, isn't it?"

"You could say that." He bit his lip, looking at me anxiously. "I'm sort of waiting for you to freak out about it."

"No, no freaking." I tilted my head. "Curious, certainly."

"It's part of what we are," he said quietly. "Enhanced speed and strength, the ability to heal pretty much any wound." He gestured towards himself, a bitter smile playing across his lips. "The size, obviously. My sense of smell... well, there's no comparison. I can also see perfectly in the dark."

I'd like to say that I was shocked, that all of his revelations caught me off-guard. And yet I stood calmly, nodding as he ticked off this impossible list, completely unfazed by it. "What we are... What are you exactly?" That was the question. "And, when you say 'we', who do you mean?"

"You're taking this really calmly." That fact seemed to worry him.

"I'm a scientist, I'm not going to waste time declaring something impossible when I could be gathering information on why it's possible." What I didn't say was that far from relying on empirical evidence, I was taking this on faith. Every fiber of my being told me he was telling the truth.

"You aren't going to want to dissect me, are you?" I think he was teasing, but he still seemed worried.

"Not if you answer my questions." I tried to make my smile as reassuring as possible.

For just a moment, he eyed me warily, still not convinced. Finally he nodded. "I don't know that I can tell you as easily as I can show you." He hesitated, then pulled off his shirt, taking a step back as he dropped it to the ground at his feet. Next he reached for the button of his jeans.

My eyebrows shot up, okay now I was confused and a little...um... startled. "It involves getting naked?"

He grinned, and the grin was slightly wicked. "Well, if I want clothes to put back on later it does."

"I see." I didn't. "Um, should I turn around or something?"

"You can if you want to. But then you might miss something." The wicked grin got worse. "Besides, I'd think a scientist would want all the evidence."

Oh, now that was just not fair. "Fine. Let's see it." I crossed my arms, hoping he wouldn't notice I was blushing. "Strip down." He noticed. He enjoyed it. And I really wanted to kick him for it. Still, he seemed to realize he was trying my patience and only drew it out a little more than was necessary. I did turn my head to the side so I wasn't looking right at him when the pants were completely off. I'd seen a naked man before. I'd been engaged. But that didn't make the first time with someone new any less awkward.

That... and he was beautiful. Really beautiful in a way that made my heart race and my body respond in a way it hadn't since before Josh died. It felt a little like betrayal, and at the same time, it felt absolutely right.

"No matter what happens, remember one thing for me," he said, his voice quiet. "I will never hurt you, Beth. Never."

I didn't get a chance to question those words. He dropped into a crouch, one hand resting lightly on the ground. Then, for lack of a better word, I felt a power surge go through me. The hair on the back of my neck stood up, a bolt of electricity racing from my toes to the top of my head. At the same moment, Jake's form blurred, energy expanding outward with explosive force. I flinched back, expecting a concussion, but there was none.

A moment passed, and I gathered myself, lifting my head. Where Jacob Black had crouched on the shore of the forest pool stood my wolf. My wolf. The wolf from my dreams, the apparition from the day the bear had attacked. I knew their eyes were the same, I knew that. But I think on some level I had assumed that the dreams were a form of metaphor, the wolf merely a representation that over time had become connected to Jake. Not until this moment had I made the connection that the wolf was Jake.

My knees gave out and I folded into a heap on the cool, damp ground. Shock vibrated through me, the revelation finally tipping my internal scale to overload. Distantly I heard the wolf whimper, a soft and mournful sound. It tore at me, and I forced my head up, watching him take a step back to withdraw. "No." The word was a sob, tearing its way painfully from my throat. I tried to pull myself together, clawing at the ground in an attempt to get my feet under me. "Please don't go." Tears were running down my cheeks, my body trembling so hard I had no chance of standing, but I tried. "Jake... please."

A scent enveloped me, of forests and warm sunlight, with an underlying note of spice; without hesitation I threw my arms around the wolf's neck, burying my face in his soft fur. "I didn't know." I was sobbing again, completely overwhelmed. "You've been in my dreams all this time... and I didn't know." He made a soft sound, a comforting rumble, and curled himself around me, embracing me in the curve of his body.

I have no idea how long we stayed together like that. I lay against him, my head resting on his massive shoulder, listening to the deep, steady rhythm of his heart beneath my cheek. His head lay across my lap, perfectly relaxed, his eyes closed as though he were content to never move again. My hands drifted over him, fingers sliding through the thick, soft plush of his cinnamon fur, never quite getting enough of touching him. Every so often, a little shiver went through me, as for a moment I imagined my hands tracing a similar path across dusky skin instead of soft wolf pelt.

"I have no idea what time it is," I whispered at last. One dark eye rolled open, focusing on me. "You never did answer all of my questions," I reminded him. He made a sound suspiciously like a laugh. "You probably ought to do that," I continued, relentless, "before Kat sends the national guard after us." More laughter, but he sighed, apparently agreeing with me. I carefully untangled myself from him and stood, still a little in awe that I had so recently been cuddling with such a huge and beautiful beast.

Once I was clear, a shiver went through him, and again I felt that shock of energy. Then the wolf receded and only the human remained. The very attractive, very naked human. I coughed, realizing that I was turning bright red again.

"It's really adorable when you do that." He sounded far too amused.

"It's really rude of you to point it out." I was practicing the fine art of not looking. I can honestly say I've never been so relieved to hear the sound of a zipper in my life.

"It's still adorable." I looked up to find him very close, wearing jeans but nothing else. "You know... I really thought I'd lost you there for a minute." He was looking down, not meeting my eyes. "The way you reacted... it was my worst fear."

"I am so sorry." I bit my lip, then did the only thing I knew to do, I reached for him. My hands rested lightly on his arms and I stepped closer, moving so that I could look up into his face. "It wasn't fear. I was just... overwhelmed." Stretching up, I touched his cheek. "Do you believe me?"

"I want to." His eyes found mine. "I want to give you everything." Slowly, as though to give me the chance to pull away, his arms slid around my waist. "Everything that I have... everything that I am."

"That's a lot for a girl to take in." I smiled. "But I will try my best to live up to that."

"Beth..." His arms tightened and then he hesitated.

"Just kiss me, Jake." He blinked, and then that soft, warm smile curved his mouth again. Unfortunately I didn't get to enjoy it for long, because his lips had crossed the distance between us, resting lightly against mine. Standing on tiptoe, I wrapped my arms around his neck and did my best to encourage him to linger. We kissed, softly at first and so sweet that it made me shiver.

Then he kissed me breathless... and I did my best to steal his breath away in return.