Character/Relationships: Jacob Black
Warnings: Some language
"You really are a cowboy, aren't you?"
It was strange to hear the white guy—the whitest of all white guys—call him a cowboy. For a minute he thought he might have nodded off and started dreaming. Outside the cold wind was howling away like the Pond Freeze days of December instead of the middle of June, and the whole thing felt surreal. His mind went blank for a minute, not knowing how to answer. But then he really didn't have to, because this particular white guy could read minds.
"Yeah, that's me, Cullen. The red-skinned cowboy."
It was well past midnight, and he hadn't really slept at all. Wrapped in his arms was Bella Swan, the girl of his dreams, and just across the tiny tent was the man of hers. Well, not man exactly. It was a strange situation and not without its own sense of satisfaction. Because he, Jacob Black, was the hero of this scenario. Yeah, he was the good guy. And he could remember very clearly when his definition of a good guy was "cowboy."
Jacob and Embry and Quil were always playing Cowboys and Indians when they were little. The woods around La Push were the perfect place for the game. While other boys across America had to make do with fenced yards behind suburban houses or the iron staircases of big city tenements, these three had real trees, noisy streams, wide beaches and unlimited imaginations at their disposal. They also had a variety of resources to make their weapons; curved limbs were like good rifles, broken clamshells made great knives, green twigs could be bent for bows. And when there was nothing else available, a pointed finger could pass for a six-shooter.
It was cool to be Cowboys and Indians, because they were always fighting. They were natural enemies.
At seven, Jacob wanted to be one of the cowboys. He made an uneven sheriff's badge out of aluminum foil and wore two ropes wrapped around his hips to hold his plastic water pistols, which he refilled from the endless supply of mud puddles around his clapboard house. He walked with a swagger, and he talked with a drawl. He called his dad "pardner" and his friend Quil a "dirty Injun." Often Embry was his deputy, handy for running to the kitchen and begging for beef jerky, which Sarah Black dutifully supplied.
When the little squirt Seth Clearwater followed them around and begged to play, they gave him the worst parts. He was the guy who had to guard their broom-handle horses tied up outside camp, yards away. Quil would come creeping through the grass with a dagger made of whalebone in his teeth, while Jake and Embry squatted around a pile of twigs and chewed sunflower seeds, spitting out the ersatz tobacco's shredded shells. Seth didn't complain. They called him Cheechako, Chinook slang for a greenhorn, but he misunderstood and thought they were saying "Cheech" from Cheech and Chong. He started talking in a horrible Hispanic accent at home, and his dad was pissed and wouldn't let him hang with them for a while. Later, Jacob managed to explain the mistake, and Harry Clearwater got it and laughed his ass off.
Cheech. Harry started calling him that himself.
By the time he was nine, Jacob could clearly see that being an Indian was actually the better role. For one thing, Indians never seemed to die. A cowboy could shoot his make-believe pistol with an impressive volley of "pow-pow-pow," but the Indian could simply run away and say, "You missed!"
And whoever played the Indian got to take off his shirt. In the summertime this was a real bonus, especially to Jacob, who loved the feel of the sun on his skin.
Jacob really didn't get the Indian thing. Sure, he knew he was actually an Indian and lived on a reservation--they just called it "the rez"--but it was nothing like what he saw on screen. Quileutes weren't like real Indians. They would never fight John Wayne or attack a wagon train. They didn't use smoke signals or carry tomahawks or live in teepees.
It was no fun to be a Quileute. But it was great fun to be an Apache or Arapahoe or Comanche.
"Jake, take that silly thing off," his sister Rebecca told him. She didn't like the headband with the owl feather or appreciate it when he greeted her with "How" or offered her a puff on his imaginary peace pipe.
"Mom would kill you," she said accusingly.
"Your mother was traditional," his dad explained. "She wanted you to be proud of who you are."
"I am proud. I'm Geronimo!"
Jacob remembered much of his mother's teachings, even after she was massacred on Highway 101 by a drunk fisherman in a Ford pickup. They still attended the community bonfires and healing circles and wished one another "Wisaa Kisbis" at Christmastime. But you couldn't fight cowboys with harpoons and you didn't eat smoked salmon on the frontier. It was all part of the game.
Jacob was 13 when the Cullens moved to town. By then he was too old to play his favorite childhood game, and it would be another three years before he really understood about natural enemies. When he finally found out how cool it could be to be Quileute, he also realized the Indian wasn't always the bad guy. The lines between good and bad had been irrevocably blurred.
Lying there next to Bella, protecting her with his native warmth, he remembered that the Indian never got the girl, not unless he kidnapped her, captured her and spirited her away. But he had tried the ambush approach with her before and ended up with her inadequate fist tattooing his chin.
Peering through the dark at the stark white face across the tent, Jacob sighed.
Maybe it was better to be the cowboy, after all.
Story Title: Line in the Sand
Character/Relationships: Jacob, meantion of Bella, Renesmee, Edward
Rating: PG-13 for some language
If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, then Bella had me at her mud pies. I guess we were eight? Maybe ten. On her annual visits, I remember thinking she was the only white kid I’d ever met with hair as long and dark as mine. She was quiet, and her mouth was always set in a slight frown. It was serious business, those mud pies…as was everything else she did, far as I could tell.
When my dad told me she was moving to Forks, I worked day and night on that hunk of rusted metal that loosely resembles a truck. I even used half my Rabbit money on spare parts, though I didn’t tell Billy that. No point tipping my hand. Should have figured he had me pegged already anyway.
Of course, when I found out she was dating Cullen, I figured that was it, wasn’t it? You gotta know when to fold: the guy’s got money, looks, and mystique, and apparently the fact that he’s creepy as hell was only a plus. I should have known where all this was headed since that day at the beach, shouldn’t I? Yeah, any idiot would have realized it then. And if I’d been smart, I wouldn’t have tried to impress her with scary stories. I’d have bored her senseless with mundane ones. Vampires? Who said anything about vampires? Yeah, probably wouldn’t have worked, but I still should have tried.
But then there was a chance, wasn’t there? Wide open and waiting, and just begging for the taking. And I took it, of course, and kept on taking it, even once the walls came back up, the defenses drawn. Because a boundary’s just a line in the sand until there’s someone worth bridging it for. And once there is, well, you’ll rip the palms of your hands bloody in that particular tug-o-war. And all that comes of it is a heart rubbed raw.
For the both of you.
The day Nessie was born, things went from bad to oh-my-god-this-is-some-messed-up-shit in about three seconds. Scratch that: three nanoseconds. Because one moment I was staring at Bella’s twisted face, watching her destroyed from the inside out by that thing, and the next I was finally seeing Nessie for what she really was and my brain sort of short circuited. No other word for it. My thoughts became a scrambled mess of what? and what the hell? and then what the fuck?!, and then I was being shoved from behind as Edward barreled down the stairs. Guess he’d finally clued into something other than Bella’s weak excuse for a beating heart. Wanted to see my thoughts for himself. I don’t know. Not my problem.
Except he made it my problem pretty fast. And I didn’t even blame him. He had Bella burning upstairs, Rosalee clutching the baby like we were both about to grab her, which we probably were, chaos everywhere…the leech had a full plate, I could appreciate that. But he wasn’t hearing any of that in my head. No, that’d be way too much to ask. He was hearing only the echo of my first thought at the sight of Nessie. In his defense, it was loud.
Ear piercingly so.
We had to leave Washington. It was inevitable I guess, the way Nessie was growing, and the way our entire freak show of a family--yeah, I’m calling it that--had to stay out of the public eye. The new place is alright, I suppose, and I can phase and run back to La Push in a day and a half travel time if I need to, but none of that matters, then or now. All that matters is Nessie. And when I looked at her back in those early years, I worried. About her growing up. About me loving her. About how that love was going to have to change from adoring uncle-figure to something a lot more likely to get me placed me on a list of sexual offenders in 48 states if this thing was going to work. Which I didn’t see how.
I kept my opinions on imprinting to myself. I didn’t even tell Bella. Edward knew how I felt of course, but remarkably, he stayed silent on the subject. He never said anything to Bella either, far as I know. And I think I would have known, because she’d probably have walked over and punched me in the face for even thinking that far down the road. And these days, it’d probably smart at least a little.
Nessie turns 18 next week. That makes me 34, but who’s counting? Fine, I am. Have been, for years. Phasing just often enough to keep my boyish good looks, marking each of her birthdays with a wish of my own as I tread the waters of the natural aging process: that the binds of imprinting could be severed. That my love for her could be purely on my own terms.
And for all I know, they could have been severed, had I taken an early retirement from pack life. Stopped phasing. Passed the Alpha title onto some other sucker’s shoulders. But I hadn’t, had I? I hadn’t even tried. I was too afraid. Am too afraid. I love her too much to risk losing that thread of connection that ties us, whatever the cause.
It’s strange that I can’t remember precisely when the lines became blurred. If with Bella it was a tug-o-war, with Nessie it was a seamless fusion; a falling into rather than an uphill battle. One day she was small enough to need her shoes tied, and the next…well, she’s nearly all grown up now, and we both know it.
The question is, what are we going to do about it?