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The Inevitable

Summary:
-Eclipse in Edward's Point if View- ~*~"It's more Inevitable than the sun rising in the East." -Alice Cullen Midnight Sun~*~


Notes:


23. Training

Rating 5/5   Word Count 8364   Review this Chapter

Chapter 22

Training

A wise man gets more use from his enemies than a fool from his friends” –Baltasar Gracia

“What is it?” Bella whispered, quickly. “I can’t see.”

I looked at her face briefly, watching how her eyes bored into the darkness unseeing, and then back to the moving mass of wolves that was very clear to me. Though I knew she was looking with human sight I still found it slightly unbelievable that she couldn’t see something so large coming at us. The amount of space their large bodies took up made them look massive….unstoppable.

Leaning down I murmured, “The pack has grown.”

For obvious reasons that felt like a huge understatement. Though there seemed to be only four new wolves, seeing them all together and fully phased made me want to replace the word ‘grown’ with ‘exploded’.

The thoughts coming from the massive group were intense. It felt like my mind was absorbing it all too quickly and I actually found myself trying to keep up with the individual thoughts. Some were anxious and apprehensive, some excited and eager, and others angry.

Worse than that, they all seemed to be expressing their feelings at the same time which made trying to separate them impossible. Because every single thought instantly became everyone else’s. They passed from one to the other till it all pulsed together and I found myself listening to one large, very loud, mind.

That’s enough, it’s time to focus’

Silence.

The moment the deep, but firm words were thought, it echoed clearly through every mind, but it did not mix together like the other thoughts. This voice seemed to run on a different level than the others. It was stronger, flowing over top of the main group until it became the central attention of every wolf mind present.

“Fascinating,” I breathed quietly. It was clear who that the voice belonged to.

This is close enough’ it seemed like Sam mostly thought this to himself but naturally the whole pack paused at the exact same time as he did, as if they had thought the words themselves. Which I suppose in a way they had.

I felt my head shaking slightly as I resisted the urge to come up with another word that described what I was experiencing, my mind came up empty. The word ‘fascinating’ didn’t seem to do it justice anymore.

Are you ready Edward?’ It took me a fraction of second longer than it normally would to respond to Carlisle. Which was a first for me, his mental voice was as familiar to my mind as my own. I glanced at him from the corner of my eye and nodded once.

With a slow deliberate movement I watched him step forward. Somewhat exaggerating the slow movements of humans. “Welcome” he said kindly. He was as overwhelmed as the rest of us, but more than anything he was beyond grateful that they had showed up and was willing to help us.

Though I knew they were here to learn and to cooperate, not to help. With or without us they would be fighting the newborns and it wouldn’t be done for our benefit.

I watched as Sam’s large eyes, higher up than the others, moved to meet my own. He knew who I was and knew what I could do. But that was not the only thing that came with the recognition of who I was, there was also anger.

I knew he was the one who had found Bella that night, and I tried to push away the sickening image that flashed through his mind. Though it lasted less than a second it was still too long. I could also tell from the way he quickly pushed it away that he did so more for his benefit than mine; he did not like remembering that night.

I nodded once, simply acknowledging that I would be doing the translating for him and to begin.

His black eyes stayed on me for a second more before he turned to back to Carlisle. I immediately repeated his thought. “Thank you.”

I turned my entire attention to his mind, cutting off everything else, so I could repeat his words aloud the second he thought them.

It was the least I could do for everything he had done, and everything they were trying to do. If they were willing to put aside their hate and way of life, things they believed so strongly in, to work with us this way, then the least I could do was put their leader on as much equal ground as possible with ours.

“We will watch and listen…” I spoke as he went on. “But no more, that is the most we can ask of our self control.”

“That’s more than enough,” Carlisle answered. Then he gestured behind him “My son Jasper has experience in this area. He will teach us how they fight, how they are to be defeated. I’m sure you can apply this to your own hunting style.”

Questions and confusion exploded mentally from the pack. They did not understand Carlisle’s words…what he had meant by ‘how they fight’ and ‘how they’re destroyed’.

I waited till Sam was ready to have his thoughts heard and then asked, “They are different from you?”

Carlisle nodded, “They are very new, only months old to this life. Children in a way. They will have no skill or strategy, only brute strength.” Carlisle took a breath before he continued, “Tonight their numbers stand at twenty. Ten for you and ten for us—it shouldn’t be difficult. The number may go down,” he added, “the new ones fight amongst themselves.”

A low rumbling passed through the air.

Alright…we can all have our own’

Not if they all kill each other first…’

This will be easy…we don’t need their help…’

‘…why are we still here?’

‘…because they will be fighting too…there’s nothing we can do to stop them’

Yeah but…’

No butts this is how it’s going to be…’

Once again I waited, listening to their over confident thoughts and short arguments, for Sam to think words he wanted to be spoken.

It was clear they did not understand the seriousness of a newborn vampire, didn’t comprehend their speed and strength. It will be something completely new to this pack. Hearing their young minds made me remember that, despite their huge forms; over half of the pack was made up of eager, clueless children. They themselves were newborns in their own way and thinking the way they were currently thinking would only get them killed.

“We are willing to take more than our share,” I finally spoke when Sam was ready, “….if necessary.”

From the corner of my eye I saw Carlisle give a small smile, “We’ll see how it plays out.”

“Do you know how and when they will arrive?” I asked for Sam, who had become more serious again.

“They’ll come across the mountains in four days,” Carlisle answered. “in the late morning. As they approach, Alice will help us intercept their path.”

“Thank you for the information, we will watch.” Sam’s eyes turned back to me ‘thank you’.

I nodded and watched as he folded his huge form downward, the others followed one after the other until all eleven wolves were on the ground, their heads up, and their eyes alert.

Waiting.

Jasper’s shoulders were tense as he took a slow step forward. His eyes were on the wolves and though his face appeared unreadable, I knew better. As he made his way to the midpoint between werewolf and vampire, he threw a look at me over his shoulder.

Edward?’

The question was simple but I knew everything he was asking of me and nodded reassuringly.

Trusting me he breathed out heavily through his nose and did something that was exceedingly difficult for someone like Jasper: He turned his back toward what could be considered his enemy and faced his family.

“Carlisle’s right,” he began, his voice strong and sure despite the audience behind him. “They’ll fight like children. The two most important things you’ll need to remember are, first , don’t let them get their arms around you and, second, don’t go for the obvious kill. That’s all they’ll be prepared for.”

His eyes traveled down the line, landing on every face as he explained. I could hear the underling conflict in his mind. He had separated his two lives a long time ago and now, in this moment both lives seemed to be merging. His gaze landed on Alice where she was standing with a soft smile on her face, his eyes lingered there for a moment before he went on. “As long as you come at them from the side and keep moving, they’ll be too confused to respond effectively….”

He took a breath and then asked ,“Emmett?”

Alright…first pick.’ Emmett moved forward grinning widely as Jasper positioned himself.

“Okay, Emmett first” he explained “He’s the best example of a new born attack.”

I snorted softly as Emmett’s grin fell away. ‘I’ll show you newborn’ “I’ll try not to break anything,” he muttered glaring at Jasper, who simply grinned back.

“What I meant is that Emmett relies on his strength. He’s very straight forward about the attack. The newborns won’t be trying anything subtle, either….Just go for the easy kill, Emmett.” He added as he took a few steps back.

I felt a small grin form on my face as I watched Jasper lean forward slightly into a crouch. I knew despite Emmett’s strength and enthusiasm he didn’t have a chance.

“Okay Emmett, try to catch me.”

Emmett barreled forward in a blur, but Jasper had already disappeared. In the millisecond it took Emmett to reach the spot Jasper had been standing Jasper was already gone and on the other side of Emmett’s reaching arms.

I watched closely, taking in Jasper’s every move. As the match continued it was clear Jasper could have had Emmett more than once but he never reached out to end it, instead he position himself in another spot each time so that Emmett’s advances and attacks changed, showing us all the different openings we could take that would keep us a safe distance from the newborn’s deadly arms and still be effective.

Seeing Jasper fighting and moving this freely had me eager to take my own turn.

Though Jasper and I had wrestled before, it was always in a playful manner, something competitive. This was different.

I was seeing a side of Jasper I had only witnessed in his memories. His thoughts were concentrated not only on anticipating Emmett’s next move but also on the openings that move would cause. Openings that would leave a clear shot to a point on Emmett’s body that would end the fight in one swift movement.

And though he never followed through when those opportunity’s arose, seeing it all through his mind, seeing the way he saw things, proved that each move he held back on would have worked. Emmett’s size and extreme strength was nothing compared to Jasper’s mind set.

It’s one thing to know someone was deadly, it was another to see it in action.

Through their fast movements I caught a glimpse of Jasper’s smirk and leaned forward waiting for the spring.

Emmett reached out again and Jasper made a move like he was going to spin to the right and then in the blink of an eye he was to the left of Emmet and flying through the air.

Emmett’s fingers closed around air just as Jasper’s teeth froze a centimeter away from his exposed throat.

“Damn it.”

Emmett’s muttered curse was nearly drowned out by the another low rumble coming from the wolves. Though this time it sounded almost admiring. Jasper’s last movement was so swift and unexpected that even my vampire sight nearly missed it, but I could tell from their minds some of the wolves’ eyes had missed it entirely.

“Again,” Emmett growled.

“It’s my turn,” I cut in quickly, eager more than ever to challenge this new side of Jasper. I felt Bella’s fingers flex around mine again and gently rubbed my thumb across the back of her hand. She had to know I would have to join in sooner or later. Though we were all capable of it, Jasper was the only true fighter in the family and we all needed to learn from him.

Jasper grinned at me, seeming much more relaxed with his situation than he was before. ‘There’s something I need to do first’ he thought as his eyes slid down to Bella.

“In a minute,” he said out loud. “I want to show Bella something first.”

I patiently stepped back, seeing in his and Alice’s mind what was coming.

Alice stepped out of the line and past a still disgruntled Emmett. When Bella caught sight of what was happening I heard her heart pick up and read the fear in Jasper’s mind rolling of her. “I know you worry about her,” Jasper said to Bella, a small smile still on his face. “I want to show you why that’s not necessary.”

Alice took a second to clear her mind and work around the holes the wolves put in her visions by concentrating only on Jasper’s future. I knew this would work as long as the wolves continued to only watch. If one of them, for whatever reason, made a thought of joining in the fight I knew she would lose everything.

Jasper leaned toward the left, and Alice, now ready, closed her eyes.

Bella’s pulse quickened even more at Jasper’s fighting position and I looked down to see her eyes locked wide on a motionless Alice.

Alice on the other hand was already watching how the next second would play out. I watched Jasper leap forward in her mind and then like an instant replay I saw Jasper make the real move. Alice twirled lightly on her feet, her eyes still closed. Jasper was on the other side of her already planning to move again but, of course Alice was still a step ahead, and had already moved.

The leaping and twirling sped up, move after move, spin after spin.

Alice was now completely in a different world than the rest of us, a world that existed exactly two seconds ahead of our own.

This round lasted a bit longer, due to the fun Alice was having. But it was also at a quicker pace and consisted of more graceful movements.

Suddenly Alice’s musical laugh filled the clearing and in a move as quick as Jasper, Alice was perched lightly on Jasper’s back.

“Gotcha,” she laughed leaning forward to kiss his throat.

Jasper’s deep chuckled joined her much higher one as he shook his head. ‘Never had a chance’ “You truly are one frightening little monster.”

The noise that came from the gathered wolves sounded more guarded than it had before. It seemed the fact that tiny Alice being able to out match Jasper, where a much larger Emmett was unable to, impressed them at the same that it made them nervous. They were seeing a side of our family they had never seen before and learning that we were different from the average ‘blood sucker’ in more ways than just our diet.

That’s right’ Emmett thought smugly when he heard the sound. I could tell that his grin had finally returned.

“It’s good for them to learn some respect,” I murmured quietly. Then giving Bella’s fingers one last gentle squeeze I stepped forward. “My turn.”

Bet they weren’t expecting that were they?’ Alice thought as she slipped past me to take my place next to Bella. I shook my head slightly in answer and watched as the smile on her face stretched even further.

“Cool, huh?” I heard her asked Bella from behind me.

Jasper was already in position, tensed and ready.

I was standing a good twelve feet from him when I copied his stance. He had cleared his mind at the moment but I knew it was only a matter of time.

This fight was much different than the others, neither of us just charged into it. He knew that I would read any move from his mind and I knew just charging in would make it way too easy for him.

He tried not to think but I caught his decision to move forward at the last second and took the step before him. He gave a grin at the movement, his eyes still locked on mine.

This should be interesting’ was his last thought before we both moved. This time it was faster and much more deliberate.

Jasper was better at controlling his thoughts than Emmett, he always had been, but no matter how hard he tried to hide them they would eventually give him away.

This would have made things simple for me, except for the moves he threw at me were completely unknown. And due to the fact I heard them only half second before he moved, I didn’t have time to think them through fast enough.

Once he figured this out he increased his speed and his tricks. Lucky for me I was able to match that speed with my own.

I side stepped to the left, dodging his reaching hold just barely. Hearing his next thought I quickly ducked his arm, but then his next thought came too late for me to realize what he had done. While concentrating completely on moving away from his left arm his right had swung back in the opposite direction, his opened hand was aiming for my throat. I was able to move but not entirely and heard the echoing crack as he connected with my back.

Spinning I tried to dash around toward his back but he immediately turned, expecting the move before hand.

I feigned to the left and seeing from his mind that he had caught the false move I had planned on making, I quickly changed my mind and kept heading left while he moved to my right. This left me a perfect opening, one I had just learned from him not fifteen minutes ago.

It took less than a second for Jasper to realize his mistake and with an unconscious growl he spun around when I was a breath away from his back. Our shoulders collided and another loud crack filled the clearing.

Neither one of us took a step back though, instead he ducked and spun to the left while I did the same on the right. In less than a second we were facing each other again.

He planned to move and I moved just a fraction of a second beforehand.

And it started just as it had before.

We continued much longer than the others. Just when one of us came close to connecting with the other the intended grab was knocked away, or redirected.

Edward?’ Carlisle’s thought broke my concentration and Jasper was able to slip in another hit. A frustrated rumble escaped my chest before I could stop it. ‘It’s been over ten minutes now…’ his thought went on.

When I showed no signs of slowing Carlisle cleared his throat loudly.

Jasper and I both froze, our gazes still locked in concentration.

Then it melted.

Straightening up Jasper laughed and stepped back, throwing an apologetic glance towards Carlisle. “Back to work,” he agreed. Then he turned back to me “We’ll call it a draw.” ‘For now’

“Alright,” I said with a grin, clapping him on the back as I went back to Bella. She seemed calm enough, her heart in its steady rhythm. But her eyes were wide as she looked at my face.

“So how did I do?” I asked playfully taking her hand back into mine.

She shook her head a ghost of smile hitting her lips. “You actually enjoyed that didn’t you?” she said almost accusingly.

“Very much.”

“Alright who’s next?” Jasper asked.

Carlisle stepped forward and after him followed Rosalie and Esme.

Once every one had their turn Emmett finally got his rematch. Jasper took his time on this second round with him by pointing out and explaining the positions and openings I had read from his mind earlier. I listened and watched carefully as did the wolves, and as the lesson continued I found that I was becoming more optimistic. With the strength of the pack combined with our own advantages of being prepared and learning from a very experienced mind, we had this fight. I even found myself becoming eager for it.

I was so intent on the lesson Jasper was giving I hadn’t realized how long we had all been here until I felt Bella move to the inside of my arm and lean into my side. I looked down and saw that her eyes were half closed. I wrapped my arm around her shoulder to support more of her weight, allowing her to lean into my chest more comfortably.

“We’re almost finished,” I whispered.

Hearing me Jasper’s eyes glanced swiftly at Bella and then to me. Silently agreeing with me he turned to the wolves, surprising all of us by speaking to them directly.

“We’ll be doing this tomorrow. Please feel welcome to observe again.”

Sam looked at me swiftly but I already knew what he was asking. “Yes,” I answered for him again. “We’ll be here.”

He looked back to me. ‘I think it would help if we became accustomed to your family’s scent individually, to lessen the chance of making mistakes during the fight.’ I nodded in agreement and with a heavy sigh released my hold on Bella.

Sam’s request made sense and it was a good idea but I didn’t want to leave Bella. Jacob had been waiting patiently for the time he could step forward since Jasper had ended everything and this would be the perfect opportunity.

Realizing how juvenile I was acting, I pushed it all away and I stepped toward my family.

As I’m sure you know there are some new members who have never been near…. one of you before.’ Sam’s thoughts added. ‘ it would probably help if no sudden movements were made’

I nodded once before I addressed everyone. “The pack thinks it would be helpful to be familiar with each of our scents—so they don’t make mistakes later. If we could hold very still, it will make it easier for them.”

Carlisle’s eyebrows rose slightly but he quickly nodded. “Certainly. Whatever you need.”

The pack rose back to their feet, once again making their full mass clear. It wasn’t until I heard the light gasp from Bella that I realized with the new dim light leaking through the horizon she could probably see the wolves more clearly now.

Fighting the urge to run back to her side I stood warily in my spot. Watching her face as her eyes followed the movements now visible to her.

The wolves had already begun, from the corner of my eyes I could see Sam leaning his large nose toward Carlisle.

I vaguely registered Jasper’s tension or the wolves’ wary movements.

My mind had focused completely on Bella’s face. I watched as her eyes moved down the large line of wolves, stopping on the much larger one standing behind Sam.

Jacob.

I saw the recognition on her face immediately, though the furrow of her brow made her looked slightly confused.

Jacob turned his head toward her then, and through his mind I saw his eyes lock on Bella’s. The feelings that rushed through his mind when he too read the recognition had me clenching my teeth. But I didn’t move. I waited.

Jacob was waiting too, he had no plan of moving toward her if she was frightened, and for that I was thankful.

Come on Bell’s it’s just me’ he thought, though he knew there was no way she could hear him.

Suddenly Bella’s face lit up with fascination. No fear. No worry. It was a brightness I hadn’t seen in her eyes all night and the sight hurt as much as it delighted.

I knew she’d know it was still me’ Jacob’s large muzzle fell open in a lopsided grin. The natural response to the happiness I could feel in his mind.

Bella’s soft giggle filled my ears and I couldn’t help the slight rise of my lips. Hearing that sound, no matter the situation was still contagious to my mind.

Then Jacob moved from the line of wolves, straight past me and Alice.

I froze.

Jacob stopped mere feet away from Bella, his huge form towering over her. I dug my heels into the ground willing my body to stay put. Jacob would not hurt her. I knew this. I knew it even without being inside his mind.

But she looked completely defenseless standing there with a beast a hair’s breath away. For a moment I wondered if this was what Jacob saw when she stood next to me. Did she look this small and fragile with me? I was just as dangerous as he was, and to Bella more so than him in certain ways.

Jacob leaned forward slightly, bringing his large head downward till his eyes were level with Bella’s. He was searching her face, looking for signs in her features the same way I had so many times before. Being inside his mind in that second made me realize how well he actually knew Bella’s face. How well he could read her eyes. But I could also see how well her eyes were reading his.

“Jacob?” her voice was soft but clear.

Jacob chuckled and though it sounded human in his mind, it came out as a throaty rumble through his wolf body. ‘That’s right….it’s still me’ he repeated.

He continued to watch her face and I continued to watch through his mind. It was very clear on Bella’s face that she could read Jacob through his eyes as well as I could mentally. A part of me craved desperately to know what she was thinking and the other was glad I couldn’t hear.

A soft, awed, smile formed on her lips as she reached a slightly trembling hand toward him. As her fingers met the thick fur Jacob’s mind immediately tuned into the touch, into the feel. He may be in a wolf form but his mind was still very much human. And unfortunately I could hear everything. As Bella’s fingers continued to stroke his face, he closed his eyes, a satisfied sound escaping his throat.

My mind was screaming at me. Telling me to move. Telling me to plant myself in front of Bella’s body. Telling me to protect her. Telling me to take hold of what was mine.

Then as if Jacob could hear my thoughts or sense my change in body language, his large eyes suddenly cut towards me, where I still stood frozen.

Who needs permission’ his thought sneered. ‘Watch this’

He closed the short distance from Bella’s face and licked from chin to hairline.

While Bella’s voice cried out in humored disgust and Jacob jumped back with a choked rumbling, that could only be considered a laugh, I resisted the urge to make good on my promise. But I stayed put. This was mostly due to the fact that none of us could afford for me to lose my temper and break the dog’s face, but it was Bella’s laughter joining Jacob’s barked laughs that sealed the deal.

No one here saw what I had seen: Bella touching his face and him kissing her again, as he said, ‘without permission.’ No one else could see it that way because no one else was inside Jacob’s mind in this second as I was. ‘Told you I’d get another chance’

Eww dude’ one of Jacob’s pack cut through in his mind. ‘Seriously I bet she tasted like leech’

The field had gone silent except for the two still laughing. Jacob it seemed had gotten over his little triumph of side stepping my threat and was now completely absorbed in his moment with Bella. Beyond pleased with himself for putting that smile on her face.

Most of the pack’s thoughts were as disgusted as some of my families.

Alice and Rosalie’s thoughts were simple and expected:

Ugh….’

That was sick’

But it was Emmett’s that had me clenching my fists.

Dude isn’t that like…did he just, you know… kiss her?’

I glared over my shoulder at him. He put his hands up and shrugged. ‘Just saying’

Bella’s laughter fading made me turn back just in time to see her eyes taking in the two groups watching them. Her eyes landed on mine briefly and I knew I wasn’t fast enough to wipe the irritation and disappointment away. Hell maybe a part of me wanted her to see it.

Jacob’s barking laughed picked up again. ‘Cool it blood sucker’ he thought, clearly picking up on my mood. ‘I said I wasn’t going to fight fair either, and besides if Bella thought it was like that she’d probably of broke her other hand and you know it.’

Our eyes stayed locked for a few heartbeats. A part of my mind registered the wolves departure, only two lingering near the edge of the woods, but by this point I didn’t care.

And besides’ Jacob went on, his laughter now gone. ‘she needed the laugh anyway’

I sighed, my shoulder’s relaxing. I shouldn’t have let it bother me. It’s not like I didn’t know the dog would do something like this. Bella giving Jacob the cold shoulder could only last for so long, and if the bracelet on her wrist said anything it was clear she had already forgiven him.

It was time to move on and go back to sucking it all up like I had done before.

And it would start now.

Releasing a slow breath through my nose I moved to Bella’s other side and took her hand again. “Ready to go?” I asked softly, ignoring the large dog not four feet away.

Wait’ Jacob’s thought was strong and on instinct looked up at him ‘This Saturday, where is she going to be?’

I knew who she was, because unfortunately, there was only ever one she on his mind.

“I’ve not quite figured out all the details yet,” I answered as quickly and politely as I could. All I wanted to do was leave. The last thing I wanted to think about was what I would have to do: Put Bella on a plane. And it was also the last thing Bella needed to hear after everything else that had happened in the last twenty four hours. I still didn’t know how I was going to break it to her, much less be able to put her on a plane and leave.

What details? There shouldn’t be details, it’s simple, she has to be out of Forks….what are you waiting on?’

“It’s more complicated than that,” I said lowly. Trying to keep my temper from rising again.

No, it’s not….Send her to Renee or leave her on the reservation with…’

“Don’t concern yourself,” I ground out, cutting him off. To say this was a touchy matter for me would be an understatement and the last thing I needed was Jacob Black walking all over it. It didn’t matter where I sent her, it would still be just as hard to leave. I knew I had to face this sooner rather than later, but not here, and not with him. “I’ll make sure it’s safe.”

“What are you talking about?”

I suppressed the urge to groan. I had said too much. Relaxing my features I looked down and met Bella’s eyes. “Just discussing strategy.”

you mean she doesn’t….you haven’t…’ I looked back to see Jacob’s large head looking between the two of us. When he caught my gaze his eyes hardened. ‘You haven’t discussed any of this with her yet have you?’

He took my non response as an answer and dashed towards the edge of the forest.

“Wait,” Bella’s voice called out. Her face was confused as she reached forward, but Jacob was already blending into the shadows. “Why did he leave?” Bella asked, looking up at me, her eyes wide and questioning. Seeing the hurt on her face at his fast departure proved more than anything that Jacob was once again forgiven.

“He’s coming back,” I reassured her quietly. “He wants to be able to talk for himself.”

Jacob had now reached the two wolves still waiting for him on the edge of the tree line. They knew as well as I did what he was about to do.

What are you doing man?’

Jake you can’t just…’

Despite his brothers’ protest, and much to my disappoint, Jacob phased. It was strange hearing his mind snap back. It was like listening to it solidify, it was no longer part of one whole but a whole in itself again.

Then I heard his voice. “Relax,” he addressed both wolves.

Their mental protests were now silent to him, but the uneasy rumble that escaped both their chests were very clear.

Jacob slipped on his pants and started to make his way forward, but as one of the wolves began to follow behind him he paused. “No.” he said turning back around.

Another disgruntled wine.

“No Quil,” Jacob repeated. This time his voice was stern and I watched through Jacob’s mind as the wolf froze.

You have to listen to him’ the other wolfs’mind said.

but Sam said….’

Sam’s not here now…’

I felt my eyebrows raise in surprise. The wolves were right, Sam was no longer here, physically or mentally. He had phased back into human along with the other wolves by now. And despite that it was very clear the two remaining wolves had been given orders they had to follow. Orders by Jacob.

Interesting.

Before I could examine this any further Jacob was in front of us again, his now human face set in the familiar sneer.

“Okay, bloodsucker. What’s so complicated about it?”

Both the two remaining wolves and my family were watching closely.

What’s his problem’ I heard Emmett’s thought first. Without looking toward my grouped family I knew he had made a move to come toward us, but Carlisle placing his hand on his shoulder made him stop.

“I have to consider every possibility,” I said calmly. “What if someone gets by you?”

Yeah right’ Jacob snorted. “Okay, so leave her at the reservation.” He said again. “We’re making Collin and Brady stay behind anyway. She’ll be safe there.”

I clenched my teeth, but before I could speak Bella’s angry voice interrupted us. “Are you talking about me?”

Jacob kept his eyes on me as he answered. “I just want to know what he plans to do with you during the fight,” I doubt Bella heard the smugness in his voice but I did.

Do with me?”

I broke eye contact with Jacob to look down at Bella. Her angry eyes were completely focused on me now, but I could also see the what lay beneath.

“You can’t stay in Forks, Bella,” I said soothingly, trying to ignore the image of leaving her in the airport. “They know where to look for you there. What if someone slipped by us?” Just the thought made my chest constrict. The only thing that’s keeping them from going straight to town is Alice. She’s the only reason their path will be intercepted and changed.

Bella’s face drained of all color and my hands instantly reached out towards her as she choked out Charlie’s name.

crap…’ “He’ll be with Billy,” Jacob said quickly before I could speak.

I froze in the process of pulling Bella toward me, my hands only making it to her shoulders. Because I couldn’t help but look back at Jacob. He had seen Bella’s reaction as clearly as I had and I could hear how desperate he was to wipe the fear from her eyes….as desperate as I was.

My eyes traveled down and saw his hands, slightly forward as if he was reaching too. “If my dad has to commit a murder to get him there, he’ll do it.” He went on, his focus completely on Bella’s face.

I truly hate moments like this, because they always made hating Jacob Black difficult.

“Probably it won’t take as much. It’s this Saturday right? There’s a game.”

“This Saturday?” Bella asked looking back up at me. “Well crap!” she frowned, now disappointed. “There goes your graduation present.”

I laughed as I slid my hands off her shoulders, letting one lace through her left hand as I gave it a squeeze. I noticed Jacob had dropped his.

“It’s the thought that counts,” I said through my chuckle. I had completely forgotten the concert. “You can give the tickets to someone else.”

“Angela and Ben,” she said immediately. Then sighed, “At least that will get them out of town.”

Reaching up with my free hand I gently stroked her cheek, smiling when the light blush returned to her face. “You can’t evacuate everyone,” I said softly. “Hiding you is just a precaution. I told you—we’ll have no problem now. There won’t be enough of them to keep us entertained.”

‘…ugh..come on…’ “But what about keeping her in La Push?” Jacob interrupted us impatiently. I dropped my hand from Bella’s face and turned my body back toward him.

“She’s been back and forth too much,” I answered unable to hang onto any of my anger toward him. “She’s left trails all over the place. Alice only sees very young vampires coming on the hunt, but obviously someone created them. There is someone more experienced behind this. Whoever he…” I paused remembering Bella’s thoughts from earlier “…or she is, this could all be a distraction. Alice will see if he decides to look himself, but we could be very busy at the time that the decision is made. Maybe someone is counting on that. I can’t leave her somewhere she’s been frequently.”

And since Bella’s thought of Victoria, sending her to Renee is impossible now too. She has to be sent somewhere completely new.

“She has to be hard to find,” I added, “just in case. It’s a very long shot, but I’m not taking any chances.”

Seeing Bella’s face in my peripheral vision made me pause and rub her arm. “Just being overcautious,” I said lowly, still looking at Jacob.

He was slowly coming to an idea.

“So hide her here,” he finally voiced, waving his arms towards the mountains. “There’s a million possibilities…places either one of us could be in just a few minutes if there’s a need.”

I was shaking my head before he finished. It really was a good thought except for one problem. “Her scent is too strong, and combined with mine, especially distinct.” I also knew when they stole Bella’s things it wasn’t just her scent they collected. My own scent would be mixed with her clothes and pillow just as strongly, making it impossible to miss, or get lost in the path of another human.

Jacob’s next thought came fast so I spoke before he could speak it. “Even if I carried her, it would leave a trail. Our trace is all over the range, but in conjunction with Bella’s scent, it would catch their attention. We’re not sure exactly which path they’ll take, because they don’t know yet. If they crossed her scent before they found us…”

I cringed at the thought. If this happened all our planning would be for nothing….they would reach their destination before they hit us.

Jacob’s mind back pedaled quickly, his face twisting into a grimace.

“You see the difficulties.” I murmured, taken off guard somewhat by the strong reaction.

“There has to be a way to make it work,” Jacob muttered to himself. He looked away back into the forest, ‘It’s her scent….that’s our problem…’

Bella’s warm shoulder leaning into my arm as she swayed on her feet. I pulled my mind from Jacob’s and wrapped my arm back around her, pulling her weight up again. “I need to get you home—you’re exhausted. And Charlie will be waking up soon.”

Wait!’ My head snapped back to Jacob. “Wait a sec,” ‘Her scent…we have to cover it, he can’t carry but I could’ “My scent disgust you right?”

“Hmm, not bad.”

All of our scents will already be mixed with yours, if they run across the trail before they reach us they wouldn’t think twice about it.’

“It’s possible,” I said. I was curious now to see if this would work. The thought of Bella being safely hidden but not entirely out of reach, had me very hopeful.

“Jasper?” I called over my shoulder.

His head jerked up, he was able to hear our whole conversation but he had no idea what our new plan was. He walked toward us, Alice slightly behind him. Her face was frustrated again, she could tell from my voice that we had plan and she hated the fact that she wasn’t already in on it. I was about to tell her to relax that I would explain, when Jasper’s next thought distracted me. It was sharp and demanding.

What’s he doing?’

I looked back toward Jacob to see him stepping cautiously toward Bella. His eyes quickly flashed to Jasper’s face, and I realized my brother was watching Jacob’s every move, his eyes full of warning. Apparently this wasn’t the first time tonight Jasper had confronted Jacob. I knew Jasper didn’t all together trust the pack, he was more or less dealing with them, but this was different. Jasper didn’t trust Jacob personally.

I have to carry her…no one’s going to freak out on me right?’ Jacob’s eyes flickered to me and I gave a slight nod for him to continue.

Jacob reached his arms out and though I was somewhat pleased to feel Bella recoil into me slightly the thought that she wouldn’t want to do this made me hesitate. After what happened the last time she was alone with him I couldn’t blame her.

“We’re going to see if I can confuse the scent enough to hide your trail,” Jacob explained quietly, watching Bella’s wary eyes. He was slowly coming to the realization that despite the fact Bella had accepted his apology, that did nothing to restore the trust she lost in him.

When Bella didn’t move, or take her eyes off Jacob’s still open arms, I finally spoke before I lost my nerve and threw this whole plan away. “You’re going to have to let him carry you, Bella.”

She frowned, looking at me in slight disbelief before she turned back to Jacob.

Damn I really screwed up…she…’ Jacob’s thought cut off abruptly when he remembered that I could hear his every regretful and ashamed thought as it ran through his mind.

He breathed out heavily, avoiding my gaze.

Still looking at Bella he rolled his eyes. “Don’t be a baby,” he muttered sourly. Aggravated at himself and me .

And then Bella was being yanked from the ground and up into his arms. I heard a small gust of air escape her chest at the sudden rough movement and the sound had me taking a step forward. Only Jasper tensing and making a similar move toward Jacob made me stop.

Alice grabbed Jasper’s hand at the same time Jacob caught my movement.

Ten pairs of eyes were on me now.

Waiting for a reaction.

Bella’s heart beat four times before I broke eye contact with Jacob and turned toward Jasper. He met my gaze, and though his mind was full of disbelief, he now knew what we were trying to do.

“Bella’s scent is so much more potent to me—“ I explained quietly. “I thought it would be a fairer test if someone else tried.”

He gave a slight nod. And while his eyes moved to follow Jacob as he ran towards the woods, mine did not.

Jacob was moving fast, his footsteps and Bella’s heartbeat getting fainter by the second.

By now my family had crossed the field to stand with us. They were all curious as to whether this plan would work, but more than that, each mind was filled with utter disbelief as they stared at they knew me too well and were unable to comprehend what I had just done. How I was able to do it.

“It was the only way,” I snapped into the silence. Or what was silence to them.

Carlisle nodded, “Do you think it will work?”

“I don’t know,” I sighed, running my hand though my hair. I couldn’t hear even the faintest beat of her heart now. I closed my eyes and strained, trying to pick it up. Nothing.

Panic was beginning to set in. It was irrational, I knew she would be fine, and if this plan worked out it would make things much easier.

The wind picked up slightly, sending Jacob’s strong scent straight at us. But there was also an undertone, and though it was faint, it hit my senses strongly. Bella.

Disappointment washed through me and I looked up quickly, glancing at my family’s reactions. I listened closely to their minds and I tried to see if Bella’s scent registered in their senses at all.

I relaxed slightly when I came up empty. This ridiculous plan may be worth it after all.

“Alright Jasper,” I said quietly.

You think he’s had enough time?’

“Plenty,” I said.

A little over five minutes later Jacob was visible through the trees again. He had looped back around and hearing his thoughts I knew exactly where to meet him.

I could also hear Alice and Jasper closing in.

It will definitely work’ Jasper thought as he blurred towards me.

It’s perfect’ Alice added.

When they came to a stop at my side Jacob froze, caught off guard by how quickly they had arrived.

I waited as he sat Bella carefully on her feet, resisting the urge to move forward and take her myself. Her tired eyes stayed glued to my face the whole time and when her warm fingers wrapped around mine I finally let myself breathe.

“Well?” Bella asked.

“As long as you don’t touch anything, Bella, I can’t imagine someone sticking their nose close enough to that trail to catch you scent,” Jasper answered with a grimace. “It was completely obscured.” ‘The whole way’ he added looking at me.

“A definite success,” Alice said, her little nose wrinkling. Though I wasn’t sure if was meant for the smell or the fact that she answered without seeing it.

“And it gave me an idea,” Jasper went on. ‘A way to make sure the newborns are lead in to the clearing.’

“Which will work,” Alice added quickly, eager that for once she could be confidant in her answer.

“Clever,” I murmured. Having Bella leave a false trail would guarantee their path lead straight to us, and it would even lessen the chance of them catching her scent in the real one.

“How can you stand that?” Jacob’s voice interrupted my thoughts. I looked at his aggravated face before I turned to Bella’s confused one and explained. “We’re—well, you’re—going to leave a false trail to the clearing, Bella. The newborns are hunting, your scent will excite them, and they’ll come exactly the way we want them to without being careful about it. Alice can already see that this will work. When they catch our scent, they’ll split up and try to come at us from two sides. Half will go through the forest, where her vision suddenly disappears…”

“Yes!”

I found myself smiling as I looked at Jacob’s eager face.

I knew how he was feeling. Everything was slowly working out, falling into place….falling straight into our hands.

They didn’t stand a chance. With the help of Jacob and his pack not one newborn would survive.

Suddenly I was distracted by Jasper’s next thought.

“Not a chance,” I snarled, turning towards him.

“I know, I know,” he said quickly. “I didn’t even consider it, not really.”

Consider what?’ Alice stepped on Jasper’s foot. He looked down at her. “If Bella was actually there in the clearing, it would drive them insane. They wouldn’t be able to concentrate on anything but her. It would make picking them off truly easy….”

A low growl escaped my chest. Whether Jasper was aware of it or not his mind had slowly turned eager the longer he talked.

He caught my gaze and added quickly. “Of course it’s too dangerous for her. It was just an errant thought.” Then his gaze faltered and glanced beside me. Alice’s blurred vision was flickering back and forth, but it was clear enough to catch a quick flash of the same image I had seen earlier tonight.

“No!” I said loudly, stepping slightly in front of Bella.

It wasn’t going to happen and enough was enough.

“You’re right,” he said calmly, taking Alice’s hand. He knew he couldn’t control his mind well enough to stay near me and decided to move back to the others.

I’m sorry Edward,’ he thought ‘Old habits die hard’ “Best two out of three?” I heard him ask Alice out loud, without glancing back at me.

He was actually serious wasn’t he?’ Jacob thought angrily. He was watching jasper’s retreating back with a look of disgust.

“He looks at all the options…” I said quietly. “It’s thoroughness, not callousness.” I knew this, but my reaction was caused by a reason none of them knew….none of them except maybe Alice. We had both seen Bella lined up with the rest of us one too many times tonight. Hearing that idea actually voice as a possibility was too much.

I ignored Jacob’s snort and quickly changed the subject. It was time to call it a night and get Bella home. “I’ll bring her here Friday afternoon to lay the false trail,” I said. “You can meet us afterward, and carry her to a place I know. Completely out of the way, and easily defensible, not that it will come to that. I’ll take another route there.”

“And then what?” Jacob asked at once. “Leave her with a cell phone?”

“You have a better idea?”

“Actually I do.”

“Oh…again, dog, not bad at all.”

Jacob turned to Bella. “We tried to talk Seth into staying behind with the younger two. He’s still too young, but he’s stubborn and he’s resisting. So I thought of a new assignment for him—cell phone.”

Bella waited and when it was clear she wasn’t going to get any more information she nodded slowly. I could tell from her eyes though, she had no clue of what Jacob had meant.

“As long as Seth Clearwater is in his wolf form, he’ll be connected to the pack,” I explained. Then turning to Jacob I asked. “Distance isn’t a problem?”

“Nope.” ‘The longest we’ve tested it is was a little over three hundred miles. It was still clear…..we probably could have gone further with it’

I felt my eyebrows raise. “Three hundred mile? That’s impressive.” I didn’t have a chance of reading over that much distance.

“That’s the farthest we’ve ever gone to experiment.” Jacob explained, seeing that Bella’s face was confused again, “Still clear as a bell.”

Bella nodded in understanding but her brow stayed furrowed.

“It’s a good idea,” I admitted. “I’ll feel better with Seth there, even without the instantaneous communication. I don’t know if I’d be able to leave Bella there alone. To think it’s come to this, though!” I said, the disbelief strong in my voice. “Trusting Werewolves!”

You’re telling me’ “Fighting with vampires instead of against them!” Jacob echoed.

I smirked, “Well, you still get to fight against some of them.”

Jacob grinned back, “That’s the reason we’re here.”

And that’s exactly why we would win this.