Naomi Rousseau had resigned herself to a life of nomadic wandering, but she hadn't counted on running into a certain pack of shape-shifters! Naomi, half shape-shifter and half werewolf (Moon Child), now struggles to figure out where she fits in on the Pack's social ladder, and to top it off she is drawn to the alpha who is far too good at pretending that everything is okay. Adapting has always been second nature to Naomi, but staying in one place might prove to be her greatest challenge. Jacob x OC, with a few liberties taken to make it pretty AU. Rating is for language, possible mature subject matter, and some sensuality.
1. chapter one!
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I leaned against the trunk of a grand tree, both relieved and suspicious at and of the calm of the morning, wary and intrigued by the heavy fog that surrounded the forest's clearing. No one is there. I told myself. If someone was there I would hear them; I would smell them. No one ever snuck up on me, no one ever got the chance. That was the beauty of supernaturally powerful senses. Still, I couldn't relax. Hell, I don't think I've ever relaxed. Especially since Nata disappeared. My expression became even more cold. I felt my silvery-gray eyes narrowing at that thought. It was his fault. He probably left of his own accord, bored of my... What did I have? What was I? I am responsible. I know the risks we take by not holing ourselves up deep within a mountain, by not hiding. Roaming around is not the smartest thing... but it's the only way we stay sane. He never gets that. He just doesn't get it! Him and his dreams of settling down... fuck. He's probably stuffed in some –
I forced myself to stop. Those thoughts would solve nothing. Nata was gone. He'd been gone for a year. my brother was gone.I had to get that in my head or else I might end up suffering the same fate.
Closing my eyes, I threw my head back, looking up at the upper branches of the tree, wondering just how many creatures were sharing this space with me, too small for even my enhanced eyes to discern. These thoughts made it easy to think that you were bigger than you were, that I might mean something if I was thousands of times greater in size than those small organisms. Looking up at the sky, thinking of the void that lay beyond what was covered in gray clouds. No... I'm not as big as I think I am, am I? None of us are.
What does it even matter? Why try so hard? Why not just let myself get eaten by vampires, those filthy bloodsuckers. The reminder of those foul creatures made my lip curl up in a manner reminiscent of what I often did while in my other form. That's just crazy talk, Naomi.
"That's just crazy talk..."
Where am I, anyway? Last I had checked I was somewhere in Oregon, but I had traveled quite a distance over the last few days. A nonsensical, random one, zig-zagging here, looping around there – my goal was to be untrackable.
Nata never learned to do that like I did.
I think that is what his fatal mistake was. He had been too rigid, unwilling to change patterns, convinced that the vamps would be too sure of our species' – or at least the parts of it we got from Father – demise. "They probably don't look for us, Ree, they killed so many... they even killed Father! Why would they be looking for us? We are but two. And only halfway, so really, we're just one, little sister."
To which I'd always reply with, "Better safe than sorry, not-so-big-brother." This normally would fuel a mock-fight, most often in wolf form.
I slumped down further on the ground, willing myself to forget.
"That'll be $4.76, Miss...?" The cashier asked with false brightness, the megawatt smile doing nothing to lighten her tired brown eyes. Humans. Do they not realize their freedom? So long as they stay out of the way of a blood-sucker, they have things pretty damned good. Even if they age. And die. But I can still die, can't I? Nata can...
"What's it to you?" I asked curtly, earning a tired sigh in reply as the cashier dropped her cheery façade. Scrounging up the change from my pocket, ignoring the disdainful glance of the person behind me, I handed the sufficient funds to the woman, who now looked as blank as I imagined that I, myself, looked.
"No respect..." The woman breathed as I walked away, words not meant for me to hear. Long ago I had learned not to show that I heard things I shouldn't, even knew when to play dumb and occasionally pretend not to hear things, even though I should have even if I were human. Made it more natural that way, didn't it? Don't take it personally.
Never take it personally. Nothing in this life is personal. Life sucks and then you die. Immortality was just a ruse, a way to fool you into taking unnecessary risks and throwing it all away – and you'd have no one to blame but yourself. At least most humans knew not to take risks, a lot of humans knew life was fragile — not nearly enough did, but at least there were some. But among the supernatural ranks, no one cared about life, they were disenchanted with it, too unafraid of death to care. That was always the fatal mistake, thinking you were immune from death.
No one can run from that. Except... maybe... with luck... me. Shit, I hoped so. After how many years of caution, I was still around, wasn't I? I'd lost my parents and my brother in the process, but at least one of the Rousseaus had survived, right? Better than nothing. Is it really? I didn't know.
"I don't care." I mumbled to myself, walking down a sidewalk. "I don't care." I repeated, ignoring the fact this was an attempt to convince myself. "I don't care." I said once again, in a quiet, sing-song voice. This garnered a look from someone sitting on the bench at a bus stop, but I ignored it and breezed by, my plastic shopping bag in hand. One thing about being on your own and only being able to secure an odd job here and there was that cars were out of the question, same with houses or apartments, even rentals were little more than a distant dream.
Someone had looked at me when I said that? I was walking against the wind, not with it. Alarmed, I stopped, turning to look at the guy who was sitting at the bus stop. Inhaling deeply, I realized I hadn't even paid attention to the smells around me. Stupid, stupid, stupid...! Shit! He smelled... He smells like Nata! Not the same, no, nothing of that sort... but... it's so familiar. Drawn to it, I walked back toward the bench, cautiously. Why does he smell like...? "Shape-shifter?" The words stole away from my thoughts, stowed away into my throat and wrestled its way out onto my tongue and into the air against my will.
The guy's head snapped toward my so fast I was sure he'd have gotten whiplash. His dark brown eyes were wide, though I could almost hear him, I imagined it... I imagined it...
"Is that what you are?" Why did I ask that? Stupid, stupid, stupid! Back-pedaling, I shook my head before he could answer. "Nevermind! Sorry! Bye." I am the picture of eloquence. Whirling around, loathe as I was to put my back to a stranger, I speed-walked away, silently willing him to just shrug and forget about it.
"Wait!" Against my instincts, I paused, slowly turning to look at him. "Did you just ask what I think you did?" I shrugged.
"Probably not, dude." I took a step back, to which he took a step forward, then another, and another, he was walking to me. Run, run, run, now, dammit, just run! But I didn't. I, the one who had always been smart and kept my chin tucked down and my guard up, just stood there dumbly as he approached.
"You asked me if I was –"
"I didn't ask if you were anything."
"Shape-shifter. You said shape-shifter. In a question-tone!" I could tell he was aiming for accusing, for suspicion, but the way he said that last part was surprisingly child-like, as though he was pleased that he knew I had said that. Or something. How was I supposed to know?
"Shape... shifter?" Play dumb, play dumb... take my word for it, take my word for it...
"Don't play dumb with me. I know what you said."
"I don't think you do, man, just drop it." I backed up a bit, the arm with the grocery bag held out in front of me a bit.
"What, you're gonna take me on with a plastic bag?"
"I'm creative." I warned seriously, though the guy evidently didn't think so, as he chuckled. I frowned. "What? I wasn't trying to be funny." I decided I didn't like this... this... shape-shifter? He hadn't affirmed it or denied it.
He glanced over his shoulder, as though worried an eavesdropper would be lurking. No one was near us, just the occasional car driving by. While he was preoccupied with that, I turned on my heel and starting stalking off. My heart all but stopped when I felt a hand grab my elbow, an unwelcome advance onto my person and a reminder of how Nata would always drag me around. Spinning back around, I launched myself forward, elbowing him square in the chest. "What the hell!" He coughed, releasing my arm and falling back a few steps, hunched forward a bit, having not expected the move. Ha. Ha.
"Don't touch me." I spat icily, sure that whatever irate expression I had on my face wasn't pretty. Not that I cared. I've never bothered preening myself.
"God damn! Was that really necessary?" The guy was trembling, quivering, and not in fear. I knew that sign well – he was about to shift. Fuck! I thought, immediately regretting the defend. I was surprised that he hadn't shifted, he was obviously fighting it hard – we were in public, why wouldn't this stranger? At the same time, why would he?
"Shit. Sorry." I backed up a few steps, holding my hands up, palms-out, trying to look as least threatening as possible. Fuck, fuck fuck!
A few moments passed, him trying to calm down and me cursing up a storm in my head. We both probably stuck out as odd, or maybe not, given that there wasn't many people around. Finally, he took a deep breath and glared at me. I tilted my head a bit and averted my gaze, the movement reminiscent of being in wolf form, one of the gestures I'd often do when my brother out-muscled me in a wrestling match. Forfeit! Forfeit! I'd yelp in our heads, ducking my head and not looking him in the eye. Nata... Where are you?
"The fuck was that for?" He was shaking again.
"Why the fuck did you –" I broke off, looking away again, taking another step back. Don't shift, dude, don't shift. "Public place, man, not a good idea." The voice of reason, perhaps that would make him chill out.
"Not a good idea to attack me!" He snarled, stepping forward with me stepping back in reply.
"Of course not!" I eked out, loathe to take the submissive role, I wouldn't mind duking it out with this stranger, or at least trying to. If I couldn't beat Nata I probably couldn't beat this guy, if I were going to be honest with myself. Still, there was a part of me that was like spectators at a brawl, hollering Fight! Fight! Fight! But we were in public, it would be flat-out stupid to shift forms here. Probably flat-out stupid to even think about doing such a thing at all. When he didn't say anything, I hazarded a glance at him, surprised to see the guy was almost apologetic. Almost. Not quite. "I'm gonna go." I turned around.
"Dammit, who the hell are you?" Then he was in front of me, so fast that even my eyes struggled to track the movement. "And what do you know about shape-shifters?" He paused. I could tell that there were some gears clicking and ticking back behind those dark eyes for that moment. "You're one, aren't you?" Lie, lie, lie, part of me ordered without hesitation. And risk pissing him off?