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I'm nothing but a monster burning in a hell that only exists in my head. There's no hope left until one harmless glance chances logic and binds two eternal enemies together in a twist of fate. Can the escape from this hell be found in an infuriating dimpled grin? Or is this another dark, dirty trick of my own mind? A forbidden passion, heat, and intense anger—this is no fairytale.

[Disclaimer: Monster is an originally plotted fic. The ideas within this fic are not to be copied in any way, shape, or form—I have not given my consent to any manner of copying. All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the intellectual property of their respective owners. All canon concepts and characters are the property of the Twilight Saga's author, Stephenie Meyer. No copyright infringement is intended. Similarities are for the sole use of fan fiction, and no profit has been or will be benefited from the posting of this fic.] Emerging Swan Award 2012, nominated into Fandom Choice Awards.

17. Tempers and Tails

Rating 0/5   Word Count 4091   Review this Chapter

"Then all at once he was standing there
So sure of himself, his head in the air..." - Roy Orbison.

Chapter Seventeen

Tempers and Tails

May 23rd, 2005.

Hearing the voice caused me to pause, not breathing. I was frozen as I waited for some response, some answer as to what was going on. No other voice followed. I was alone.

Heaving heavy, hot breaths through the new muzzle sprouted off the end of my face, I tried to calm down. Being the genius I was, I backed up, swinging my head from side to side wildly as if the movement would shake myself into focus. When I moved, I couldn't help but notice how different everything felt, from the drooping layer of moisture in the air to the rough, cool texture of the forest floor against the pads of my paws. I could feel my fur brush the top of my head as I flattened my ears back, trying to block out the sound of the wind as it caressed the trees. My eyes fell shut while I pressed back against the side of a hill. I was mentally trying to convince myself that I was just seeing things, but deep down, I knew everything was more than a hallucination.

After a few minutes of silence, I hesitantly decided to try out my new body. My lips pulled back, revealing my pointed white teeth. It felt so weird now; it felt as if I wasn't even controlling myself. I have become nothing more than a thought process, floating around in a foreign body. Floating. That was a good way to describe how it felt.

The breeze picked up out of nowhere, stirring the silent forest. I could almost feel the damp stickiness of the spring humidity. I could taste the fresh raindrops falling lightly to the ground. When I focused, I could almost hear the light hum of life, signaling the forest's wake after many months trapped in a harsh winter slumber. It was all so defined now, so clear.

My head tipped to the side, my body stretching out. I brushed one leg against the ground, hearing a twig snap under the clumsy movement of my large paw. My strength was still undefined, but I knew that I was much stronger in this body. I allowed myself to breathe again.

That was when I caught the scent of them. My eyes flashed open. The forest around me wasn't as brilliant as it had seemed—it was nothing more than the average green, rainy place I had always known. My heart pumped quicker than usual, and I was burning alive, my fur sticky on my skin. None of that mattered, though. My senses had now locked onto the musky scent of an animal.

I crouched back against the hillside, feeling dirt tumble into my coat when it felt the pressure of my body. Images popped into my mind: a flash of many colors, all blurred with speed while they raced through the forest, silent and swift. I snapped my head around, trying to pick out any sign of movement in the still forest. The wind picked up, blowing loudly, smacking me in the face with the scent of the creatures as they came closer.

When I forced my focus to channel solely on the presence of these creatures, I learned more about them. I could feel warmth, a steady pulse of heat, when it was carried over the opposite bump of a hill across from me. Buzzes of senseless thoughts shot from one place to the other. Paws thundered against the squishy ground, large and powerful but agile at the same time. The musky scent of them strengthened when they neared, closer and closer by the second.

Instinct led my eyes around the forest. I held my ground, a low growl rising in my throat. The swoop of land created a bowl shape around me, leaving me completely surrounded. My teeth gnashed together while I waited, pushing myself up on my paws to force myself to appear even more intimidating.

Automatically, a growl answered my own. It was louder, though, and edged with a grisly note. My head rose higher at the sound and my shoulders tensed when I pressed into the hillside, leaving no room for anything to sneak up behind me. I was completely prepared to defend myself against what was coming. But, once they had come into view, I realized two things: I already knew what was coming, unconsciously, and I wouldn't have to fight any of these creatures.

The first thing I saw was the tall, black form of a very large creature as it neared. I instantly compared it to a horse. The sleek, shiny coat, towering height, and rolling, powerful muscles reminded me of one instantly. But, when I looked closer, the broad shoulders and wide head told me I was mistaken. Two paws slammed down on the hillside, a tail swishing while a giant wolf stood before me. Its dark blue eyes were wide as it took in the sight of me. The eyes glittered while they studied me with more intelligence than any wild animal could ever hold. An air of authority surrounded the big, black wolf; he even held himself high up in a majestic manner. I started to growl to warn him off, but I was distracted by a small movement.

Four other wolves filled in formation behind the first. The second was almost as tall and broad as the first, but not quite. Its eyes appeared to have a lighter brown hue to them, probably due to the brown fur that covered its body. Despite the light of authority in his eyes, the wolf stood with his head slightly lowered, stationed at the flank of the black wolf. Behind the second was a wolf much smaller, his coat grey with a lighter coloring on the face. His paws were too big for his body. Across from him stood a silver wolf who was only a little bigger than the one before him. The smaller, more slender build crafted a feminine appearance.

A sudden movement tore my attention away. I forced my gaze past her and to a new wolf who had just joined the others. His fur was silver and his body muscular, even more so than the others. His ears pressed to his head, his eyes narrowing when he glared in my direction. He could have been intimidating, even if he wasn't the biggest of the wolves. I could almost smell his ill temper. I was about to give into the instinct to defend myself when my gaze met that of the silver wolf. I fell into the chocolate irises and was struck with a wave of recognition. Suddenly, it all made sense.

When I studied the faces of the wolves a second time, the names came. I listed them all in my head. First, I met the black wolf's gaze, noticing the warmth. Sam. Then the brown one. I had to think for a moment, sifting through conversations and thoughts until his name came to my mind. Jared. The grey one lifted his head, peering around Jared while he stared at me. His gaze took me back to the cafeteria, back to school. The name came to me in a heartbeat. Embry. The female, silver with spots, was glaring at me with a look of irritation that could only come from one person. Nicole. Finally, the silver male wolf, who stood with his head tipped far over as if he was waiting for me to recognize him. Paul.

Hey there, Jord! The wolf tossed his head, breath huffing from his muzzle. His shoulders rolled when he lunged away from the pack, landing softly on the ground. I was wondering when you were gonna show up. You took a pretty long time, if you ask me. Your sissy even thought you wouldn't show up at all! Paul's white teeth showed a grin while he flicked his ears in Nicole's direction.

The pack was suddenly in motion. They trotted down into the bowl, their thoughts being tossed around between minds. I relaxed myself the best I could, but my muscles wouldn't budge. My mind listened to the pack's, dipping into the different thought trails.

Thought? More like hoped. Nicole's sides expanded when she sighed at Paul.

Easy now. She's new to this. Sam's black wolf held his head over the others, hanging back as he watched them all circle me.

Damn, she's tiny! Jared chuckled mentally to himself at his own comment. The brown wolf bumped my shoulder when he passed.

New wolf to the pack already? At this rate, we'll be a hundred strong by this time next week! Embry's tone seemed more hushed; he appeared to be talking to himself.

I shifted my paws, testing my weight before I leaned forward, breaking free of the stubborn clench in my muscles. My mind spun with all the voices. Heat still was pulsing off my body; it was a miracle that I wasn't soaking in my own sweat.

Sam must have noticed this. His gaze met mine and his lips pulled back in a wolf-like smile. Alright, alright. That's enough. She'll need to adjust. Jared, take her out on a patrol, will you? The rest of you are dismissed. Nicole, Embry, Paul, let's go.

The lighter, silver wolf and the spotted one both dipped their heads, jogging after Sam without question. I swung my head over my shoulder, staring at the dark wolf beside me, feeling my body tense at the thought of being alone with him. Paul flattened his ears and crouched, his head bent low. He made it clear he wasn't going to follow after them.

Paul. Let's go. The black wolf raised his head, hovering over the lowered silver wolf with narrowed eyes. The tone of his voice was hard and orderly, and something about it sent a prickle of heat through my body.

Sam, it's her first time. She should at least have someone familiar to show her around. The dark silver wolf met Sam's gaze steadily, but his shoulders quivered despite his calm tone. Besides, we all know where she's been. That had to be enough to handle. Don't push her.

The brown wolf growled lowly. I can handle it, Paul.

I didn't say you couldn't, Jared. I was sayin' that it's a pretty shitty idea to-

God, Paul. Why so damn whiny? My ears pressed against my head. The tension was hanging thick in the air, rubbing off on all of us. In the corner of my eyes, I could see the spotted, grey wolf hesitating in the distance, watching us all uneasily.

Both the brown wolf and the dark silver wolf snapped their heads to look at Sam. I followed their movement, studying his expression. Sam's lips were lifted slightly, showing a small flash of teeth. Despite his irritated appearance, the black wolf swung his head from side to side. He twisted back around and led Nicole and Embry back out. Just don't slack off.

With that, the three minds faded away from my own, leaving me with the smug thoughts of Paul and the apparently sour mood of Jared. Lovely.

I'm not normally in a sour mood. Just impatient, really. The brown wolf shook his fur out. Normally, Paul's the pack bitch.

Ha, right. I'm pretty cool when I wanna be, right, Jord? The dark silver wolf brushed past the brown wolf and me, setting off at a jog, leaving both Jared and me to follow after him.

Let's just get this over with. I lifted and dropped my shoulders, not bothering to mask the impatient bitterness in my tone. A light drizzle had started up again, but both of them were having no issue with the wetness or the mud that had thickened beneath their paws.

Oh, c'mon, Jord. Be thankful that you have somebody. None of us that phase, which is what we call the change, are alone anymore. A pack isn't a bunch of freaks with tails and tempers. A pack is a family brought together by magic in our blood, brought together to defend our people. Not a freak show, as you seem to be assuming. Even though he was in front of me, I could see Paul's teeth again as he grinned.

Jared snorted, saving me from having to reply. Whoa, I never knew Paul was so cheesy. The tone in his thought leaned toward disgust, but amusement flowed along with it.

Paul snapped his teeth defensively, mocking Jared's tone. Only for you, Jared! He huffed and paused mid-step, his gaze flickering back to mine. He allowed Jared to jog past him before falling in step with me, both of us flanking Jared as we ran.

Just give it a few days and the oversized paws will go away, too. The brown wolf's body trembled as he let out a laugh. Now you two need to shut it for a while, or you'll end up scaring everything away.

The bitter words that had swelled into my mind faded away with the silence. I quickly adapted to their swift rhythm, my paws falling in a smooth pattern. The rain plastered our fur down to our bodies and the mud tried to suck in our paws, but the surprisingly graceful movements of our large bodies pressed on.

The forest was beautiful. The new scents of crisp plants and fresh rain were enough to cause my head to spin, while the sharpened beauty of it was amazing. Jared led us through an imaginary trail, occasionally pausing to test the air before continuing.

Growing curious, I waited a few hundred more paces until Jared stopped again. I mirrored his movement of bowing his head, my nostrils flexing when I tasted the scents on the ground. There was fresh soil and rain-soaked leaves, but something else beneath it. I inhaled once more, my stomach twisting as the scent entered my nostrils.

I gagged, my throat burning when the scent settled in. It was sweet at first, but the sweetness chewed through my nostrils. The acidic perfume was the most awful thing I had ever inhaled, even worse than any garbage dump. The scent pierced my nostrils and clogged up my throat. I found myself backpedaling, swinging my head and coughing. Jared and Paul both looked back at me, and then at each other, and they tossed their heads back, howling with laughter.

SHUT THE HELL UP! I snarled at the two of them. Bombs of instinct exploded inside of me, setting off alarms. I felt my body started to quake with the intensity of the sudden internal riot. WHAT WAS THAT?

Neither Jared nor Paul was worried by my reaction. They only stared back at me, amusement in their wolfy grins. I flashed my teeth again, feeling a strong urge to sink them right into their muzzles and tear the grins clean off of their faces.

Jared winced at the thoughts. That. . .

Is a bloodsucker's stench. Paul's contained laughter surged from his mind to mine while I coughed out the scent, feeling the last bits of it still tingling in my burning nostrils. It took a few minutes for his words to set in, but when they did, I was instantly on full alert.

Shouldn't we be killing it? We kill them, so . . . what the hell are we waiting for?

Nah, it's just the Cullens. Jared trotted over to the scent and carefully snuffed at the leaves, mentally debating whether or not it crossed some line.

Colons? My gaze turned to the dark silver wolf while he stared straight ahead, his lip curled. He was glaring pointlessly into the forest, his eyes taking in the green shades.

Cullens. Paul opened his mind up, pushing it into mine. Pictures of Cold Men and even Cold Women scrolled across his mind. They're a group of leeches that our ancestors formed a treaty with. This scent line marks our boundary between our land and theirs. Our ancestors made an agreement when they came here that we won't hurt the Cullens if they don't cross this line.

My heart picked up, my ears pressed against my head in distaste. What's so special about these bloody bastards?

I watched closely when Paul pulled up a close-up picture of one of their eyes. The eyes weren't the average crimson color, but a shimmering gold. They suck the life from animals, not humans. It's still disgusting, but not as sickening.

How will I know them? What happens if I kill them? I jogged around Jared and stood with Paul, my ears perked and my senses stretching. For once, I was actually nearly interested.

Treaty will have been broken and boom, war. Of course we'd win, but Sam wouldn't want that. Paul's mind abruptly went silent while he continued to scroll across his memories of their appearances. First, an older male with blonde hair, his arm wrapped around a smiling woman with a heart shaped face. Then a honey haired leech with a scrawny one by his side. He showed me the lone one, with bronze hair and a scowl darkening his features before moving onto one who looked like a walking Barbie doll. I didn't really notice much about her; the big vampire next to her had captured my complete attention. The big Cullen really was huge: broad shouldered, muscled, and finished off with a towering height. I watched the hopeful fire in his golden eyes, taking note of his longing for a fight while remembering that he was the one with the thick black hair. Finally, the images scrolled across one more time before they dissolved like mist in his mind.

If we ever did have a war with them, I'd take that one, too. The big one, I mean. His dark eyes set on me, his lips turned upwards on the edges in a wolf smile as he caught my interest. He seems to be the only one who would stand a chance. Against you, anyway. If he faced me, I'd have him before he could bare his fangs.

I nodded my head, but I didn't get a chance to reply. Jared snarled, causing both Paul and me to stare at him. He ignored us, alarm pulsing through his mind. The brown wolf retreated, tossing his head back and letting a powerful howl rip from his throat.

Shit! Paul whirled around, bowing his head as he began to nudge me back away from the invisible line, his body tensed. I shuffled my paws but allowed him to move me, the confusion of the sudden thoughts shooting between Paul and Jared slowing my reaction. Paul shook his head and shoved me with more power while answering my silent question. Sam's coming out here. They might have crossed.

Jared raised his head, his gaze darting around before settling on the two of us. It's pretty close. Paul, I'm gonna meet up with Sam. You stay here and wait.

Sure thing, man. The force of Paul's shoves increased once he disappeared into the brush. Come on, Jord.

I glanced between the retreating brown wolf and the dark silver wolf, my heart thumping with excitement. My body swayed slightly as Paul pushed me again. What am I supposed to do?

Go home. Paul jabbed his shoulder into my side, knocking me back a few feet.

I huffed and slammed a paw down to catch my balance. Sudden irritation rose inside me. I found myself bracing my paws before the bigger dark silver wolf, my teeth bared defensively. I'm a fighter too, Paul.

Paul kept his head low and muzzle pointed downward, probably to keep me from feeling intimidated, his dark gaze probing into mine. He waited until my lip dropped slightly before he shook his head at me, his mental voice suddenly calm. You're new, and this isn't the kind of business for newbies. Besides, we don't even know if there will be a fight. Sam is coming now to ch eck the scent. Just head home. Sam's place isn't even a mile from here. Paul paused, measuring the emotions in my eyes. If backup is needed, you'll be the first to know. Just let the older ones handle it for now.

I started to protest, but the expression on his wolf face stopped me. I growled gently at him, turning and shooting off into the forest, thundering across the wet ground. I pushed myself hard, the wind whipping into my fur, the rain wet nothing on my heavy coat. I didn't care while I forced myself onward, thinking only of the fact that my big chance to take out a vampire was foiled all because of my own pack's protectiveness.

After minutes of hearing only the huff of my breath and the pounding of my footfalls, Paul's mind fought its way back into mine. I knew he was only checking to make sure I was heading home okay, but something about the sensation of his mental presence set another spark of anger inside of me. I growled softly as he looked through my eyes for a moment. His voice spoke clearly in my head as he started to fade out. It's okay; you won't miss a thing. See ya, Jord.

Snarling at Paul's last thought, I shook my head wildly, rearing back and halting. My paws slammed down, sending up a flurry of wet leaves and dirt. My body shook as I willed myself to go human, desperate to get the others' thoughts out of my head.

I stood there for a few minutes with my head down, my body unchanging. Finally, I calmed down enough to drag in a deep, muggy breath through my nostrils. My eyes fell shut as the world spun around me again, whirling around me in fast-forward. I felt dizzy, as if I, too, was caught in the mess. My knees hit the ground and I leaned forward, trying to catch myself. I opened my eyes to see what was really going on, only to see my hands beneath me.

Sighing in relief, I slowly stood up, checking my body for any signs of harm. I froze when I looked down, realizing I had no clothes on. My head snapped up, eyes narrowed as I searched to make sure there wasn't any unwanted audience. The only thing that met my gaze was the dark, swaying trees.

I wrapped my arms around myself and turned, setting off at a steady jog. The trees were already thinning out here. My stride lengthened, my arms pumping as the trees flashed by. The wind slapped against my exposed body with the speed, but I didn't care. I needed to get home, and quickly.

The eagerness got the better of me. I blasted out of the tree line, rushing toward the porch. My foot caught on the stair, pulling me down with a snap. I started to curse at it, but my voice morphed into a howl, my paws suddenly shooting back out in front of me as my wolf body thudded on the stairs. I shuddered violently, rolling on my back. Just as my shoulder blades touched the stair, my body shifted again and I was human once more. I let out a heavy sigh, scowling at the grey sky above me.

This whole wolf thing was going to take some getting used to.

My thoughts turned sour again as I rolled over, hands catching the stair as I dragged my throbbing, burning body up. I let out a shaking breath as the porch scraped my bare skin, tearing away at it. It wasn't fair that I had to come home and be out of all of this. How would I ever get used to being a wolf if they shut me out? Paul was out there, getting to deal with the vampires, while I was home waiting for him to call me. But if he called me, then I'd get to fight. Fight a Cold Man. . .

"Kill a vampire." I whispered the words softly to myself, testing them on my lips. Realization dawned upon me. I wasn't just a heated, oversized freak. I was a fighter now, and I could fight against the creature that had haunted my life for the past eleven years. I almost grinned. Almost.

Maybe having a tail was going to be worth it after all.