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Between Who You Are and Who You Could Be @riveriver



In Jacob's world, a ringing telephone tends to mean one thing, and only one thing:

Bad News. The kind that usually involves some kind of bullshit about the suckers. Or Bella.

(Or, if he's having a particularly unlucky day, Sam. Although if he were to ever call, especially these days, then Jacob would take it as a pretty good sign that the world is already burning and they're all about to die — in which case he wouldn't be worried, because a call from Sam probably means they're all about to get their chance for some well-deserved payback and an opportunity to finally sink their teeth into some vampires.)

Jacob can be forgiven then, he thinks, for allowing the damn thing to ring out until the house is swamped in peaceful silence again. He's not in the mood for a new episode of the drama that is his life to begin.

When the phone begins to ring for a second time, his dad looks over at him. He raises a single bushy eyebrow. "Are you going to answer that, or not?"


"It sounds important."

"There would be howls all over the Rez by now if it was," Jacob counters, turning his attention back to the television. It's the third match of the Stanley Cup Finals — Oilers versus Hurricanes — and he's not about to miss another pre-game show because he's too busy spending his evening hunting a flighty redheaded bitch who has all but disappeared (again).

He waits until the phone stops ringing. "Maybe it's for you."

"Charlie's out fishing all weekend with his buddies from the station," Billy grumbles with no small amount of jealousy, "and Sue's working 'til late, so I think it's safe to say that phone isn't ringing for me, son."

Jacob grunts at the reminder. He knows exactly where Leah is, and it's only because she's off on Official Women's Business with Kim (a trip that he was unequivocally not invited to on the grounds of sacred bonding time — a premise that he is wholly unfamiliar with, on account of having done all of his friendship bonding while he was in diapers) that he is not in her company.

Point is, he's not happy that she is so far away — and out of the pack's watchful eye — but he's trying his level best to not be one of those guys about it.

(Truly, he's trying.)

If he were perfectly sane — that is to say, if his whole existence didn't hinge on hers, on her well-being and her happiness — then being parted for a day would be a minor problem in the grand scheme of things. He would be able to sit here and miss her like a relatively normal boyfriend instead of fretting whether she's safe or not, knowing that, eventually, he is going to see her soon.

As it happens, imprinting tends to shred those kinds of healthy notions to ribbons. So, instead of indulging the totally possessive imperative to keep eyes on her at all times — and wishing he had Jared's largely superior eyesight — he sits at home instead, watching pay-per-view hockey with his dad as his only consolation.

That, and a phone that won't stop fucking ringing off the hook.

It goes unanswered a third time.

(Privately, Jacob thinks his dad is as wary as he is; they have both learned the hard way that receiving a phone call at seven o'clock in the evening is usually a precursor to exactly the kind of bullshit that neither of them wishes to be involved in.)

Billy cracks open a can of beer. "Maybe it's Leah."

"She loaned me her cell," Jacob replies. It's a heavy weight in his pocket, all but burning a hole in the side of his leg — a compromise for being parted farther than they ever have in the months they've been together. "She wouldn't call the house if it was important."


"Maybe it's Old Quil."

"Spoke to him this morning," Billy says. "Maybe it's the Principal. She looked 'bout ready to ban you from school grounds after yesterday."

Heat suffuses his cheeks at the memory. "Maybe it's your doctor," he retorts. "How many appointments have you missed now?"

Billy glares at him. "With a bit of luck, it's the military school returning my call about your application."

They spend the next few minutes playing their silly game, their suggestions becoming all the more outrageous each time. They're more than happy to take the distraction for what it is, both seemingly quite determined to never pick up a phone again, not if they can help it — though, of course, that's only until Jacob feels Leah's cell suddenly beginning to vibrate against his leg.

That phone he'll answer.

With his dad laughing boisterously beside him, Jacob all but leaps to his feet in his haste to dig the damn thing free from his pocket before he misses the call. "Leah?"

"Good evening, Jacob. It's Edward."

Jacob snaps the flip phone shut. It's only because it belongs to Leah that he doesn't hurtle it across the room where it would — hopefully — shatter against the wall.

He considers it in the ten seconds it takes for the damn thing to start buzzing again. He could always buy her another one, he supposes.

"Who was it?" Billy asks.

"Cold call," Jacob mutters, unable to laugh at his own joke — he's totally saving it for later, though; Embry will appreciate it most — and he watches with a growing sense of unadulterated violence as the silver contraption lights up in his hand again. And again. And again.

Clearly, Cullen is not going to give up.

He sighs before answering. "How did you get this number?"

"Leah kindly shared it with me when she collected Bella a few weeks ago."

Jacob lurches to his feet and stalks out of the living room — somewhere, anywhere his dad can't wave in his face to get his attention whilst mouthing questions. "I have a hard time believing she gave it to you with permission to use it whenever you thought it would be funny to ruin my day."

"Perhaps if you deigned to answer your house telephone, Jacob, I could have avoided infringing on your imprint's privacy," Cullen says with similar exasperation. The only difference is that the bloodsucker still manages to sound condescending at the same time.

Jacob grits his teeth. "What do you want, bloodsucker?"

"We need to talk. Your family and mine. Tonight."

"Not happening," he spits, shutting the cell again. He slams his bedroom door shut behind him and throws the phone on the bed, the poor contraption narrowly missing a collision with the wall, and he resolves to get the number changed first thing Monday morning.

(Unlisted, perhaps; he finds himself wondering whether protecting his imprint from overly persistent telemarketers constitutes a romantic gesture.)

Leah's cell continues to flash for the next ten minutes, during which Jacob stares at it, his body trembling as he deliberates between throwing it out of the window and crushing it to pieces — or, alternatively, running it over to Emily's so Sam can deal with this shit like he's supposed to.

Invariably, Jacob does nothing of the sort.


"Jacob," Edward sighs, "this is a matter of life and death."

"Nothing that concerns you, then, seeing as you are neither," he remarks scathingly.

The stupid bloodsucker lets loose yet another sigh. "Is Leah there?"

The sound of her name being spoken by a bloodsucker almost has him splitting his skin right there and then in the middle of his bedroom; he is already strung tight enough as it is with her being some sixty miles away. "You don't speak to her. Ever."

"Your father, then."

"No. Last time we spoke, I remember specifically asking you to call Sam about stuff," he snaps. He can hear the familiar sound of a wheelchair squeaking down the hall — Billy, undoubtedly on his way to get as close to the door as he can and listen in. "You have his number; you speak to him."

Edward hardly misses a beat. "He is not Ephraim's descendant, nor is he authorised to speak on your behalf. And unless you wish to risk the life of your imprint, Jacob — your pack — then you will speak with me."

The order clangs through him, as hollow as it is futile. Only one person on this planet can order him to do something, and it's not Sam. It certainly isn't Edward.

And yet still Jacob finds himself gripping the phone to his ear, preparing himself to listen. Perhaps it'll give him a reason to seek out Cullen immediately afterwards and burn the bloodsucker for even suggesting he would willingly place Leah's life on the line.

"You have one minute."

"Thank you. I had hoped to deliver the news in person, though I understand your reluctance to attend Bella's graduation party."

"We aren't talking about her, if that's why you've called."

"Alice had a vision. Victoria has made her decision — she is no longer preparing an ambush in Seattle. They're coming here."

"They," Jacob parrots, feeling a little dizzy. "As in multiple vampires."

"Yes," Edward says, his level tone faltering. "She seems to have constructed herself an army. Alice thinks there may be twenty, perhaps more. It changes — twenty-one today, but the numbers are going down. The new ones fight amongst themselves."

"Twenty," he says incredulously. "What business do twenty leeches have in Forks?"

"One of them is carrying Bella's shirt. I suspect it's revenge for Phoenix."

Jacob sits silently for a long moment. Twenty vampires — within spitting distance of the Rez, far too close to Leah — because of the stupidity of the Cullen coven.

Someone is going to die today, and it will not be him.

"If your pack allies with my family, we will have the numbers to subdue them. With our advantages, it will be an even fight."

"Hunting vampires is more our job than yours," Jacob retorts. The very idea of cooperating with bloodsuckers is enough to make his stomach roil. That, combined with the knowledge that he will have to disseminate this information within the pack, is a recipe for fury.

"I wouldn't go that far, but we need the help. We aren't going to be picky." Edward comments mildly. "Besides, if Alice's vision remains the same, they will be here in four days. We need to prepare."

"What exactly are you proposing?"

"Bring your pack to meet with us tonight. We can coordinate strategy."

As much as it kills him to admit it, they will need the Cullens' help.

"What time?"

"Three o'clock?"


"About ten miles due north of the Hoh Forest ranger station. Come at it from the west and you'll be able to follow our scent in."

"We'll be there."

He snaps the phone shut before Edward can reply. He's done more than his fair share of talking today — Edward is no compatriot of his, not when he plans to suck Bella's humanity from her veins drop by drop — but his proposal is sound.

Jacob stands, taking long strides towards his bedroom door; as expected, Billy is wheeled right up to the threshold, with not even a shred of guilt painted on his lined face.


"We're going to war," Jacob says gravely. "I'm going to Sam's. I should be back in the morning."

"Tonight?" Billy asks, alarm lacing his tone.

"We're cooperating with the Cullens. Four days from now, if we're lucky. We're meeting tonight to set a game plan."

Billy nods once. "I'll set the VCR."

Jacob waits until he is already on the threshold of Sam's yard to sound the alarm, letting loose of a single howl that they have come to associate with a threat. As soon as the first wolf phases in — Quil, luckily — Jacob commands him to marshall the others to Sam's, phasing before Quil can ask any questions.

Sam is waiting on his porch steps, his hand already on the button of his shorts, though he stops when Jacob shakes his head.

"Emergency meeting. Cullen called me. We're going to war."

Emily, who stands a step behind Sam, emits a deep sigh, retying her apron. "I'll put leftovers in the oven."

"Is he sure?" Sam asks, his face slipping back into his usual frown.

"The psychic apparently saw them arriving four days from now — twenty, if we're that unlucky."

Sam swipes a tired hand across his brow, looking far older than his twenty years. He doesn't need to reply — he simply moves aside, permitting Jacob to enter, to slump down in one of the many chairs that are assembled in a permanent semi-circle for pack gatherings (a tradition that will surely be tarnished after this hasty meeting).

One by one his brothers trickle in, expressions ranging from mildly annoyed (Paul) to deeply concerned (Brady). Jacob says nothing, opting instead to stare at the ceiling, studiously working to compartmentalise his growing anxieties about Leah and his father and the rest of the Reservation.

Finally, when a dripping wet Collin scampers into the crowded room, breathlessly apologising about getting caught mid-shower, does Jacob look at his pack (Sam's pack, he corrects himself), taking in the myriad of faces before him.

This, he thinks resolutely, is going to suck.

"Edward has told me Victoria is bringing a small army to the Rez in four days. We're training with the Cullens tonight."

It's pandemonium, the sudden overlap of voices, some more raised than the rest, but Jacob simply holds his palm up, wordlessly commanding silence.

"I don't want to cooperate with the Cullens," he announces, looking at each of them in turn. "But we don't have a choice. I refuse to let one of us die over an almost century-long conflict. We're meeting them at three. Everyone needs to be here by two-thirty. Questions?"

Seth, ever the placid one, raises his hand. "I've never killed a vampire."

"That's not a question," Paul comments, earning an elbow to the ribs from Jared.

"Baptism by fire, Seth," Embry says. "We're bred to make vampire confetti."

Sam nods. "He's not wrong. We'll work out the details later. Go home, rest, do what you need to do to be ready."

"Food's on the table, boys," Emily hollers down the hallway.

With that, the pack disperses almost as quickly as they gathered, spilling out of the living room into the kitchen or yard (or, in Quil's case, to the lumpy sectional couch that has been wordlessly anointed as the best pre-patrol napping spot). It's almost possible to pretend it's any other day, sandwiched between Embry and Seth at the dining table, shovelling down pasta salad and three-day-old bread rolls.

That is until Seth decides to speak.

"Have you told Leah?" he asks, like a well-aimed punch to the gut.

"God, Seth, I was almost having a good time," Embry mumbles, stabbing ruthlessly at the penne on his plate.

"She's still out with Kim," Jacob says tersely. "I don't want to stress her out just yet."

"That's fair," Seth comments around a mouthful of half-chewed bread. "Where's she gonna go when we're fighting?"

"That's easy," Paul interjects, swiping a waffle from Embry's rapidly dwindling plate. "We station her upstairs in Sam and Emily's bedroom with my BB gun."

"I don't hate that idea," Embry says. "She's got a pretty good aim."

"We are not giving my girlfriend a gun," Jacob says exasperatedly. "We'll come up with something better."

"What, are you worried she'd shoot Swan? I'd put five bucks on that," Paul retorts, impervious to Jacob's scowl.

"Ten," Embry raises, "but it's a warning shot."

"Screw you guys," Jacob grumbles, "I'm going home."

(They shake on it before Jacob's feet even touch down on the dirt outside.)

Back at home, Leah naps for a whole two hours and thirty-five minutes after Kim drops her off, promising to drive the Clearwaters' car back to their house.

Not that Jacob keeps track of the time.

(He does.)

He half-contemplates waking Leah up to tell her the dreaded news but, knowing her, she'd roll over and continue snoring, especially considering her exam-induced sleep deprivation. Instead, Jacob settles for watching the recorded game, her head in his lap — something that his father quickly comes to appreciate, because it means that he cannot yell at the television (not without earning Leah's ire, that is).

She wakes up sometime during the post-game programming, grumbling about a sore neck and hellish cramps; he never thought he'd be so grateful to hear a series of complaints, but he's since realised the ugly possibility that her grievances may be numbered, that, come Thursday, she may have to find a new audience for her woes. The thought sends an involuntary shiver through him, startling Leah into full awareness.

"What? What's wrong?" she demands, rubbing sleep from her eyes.

"You just woke up," Jacob says, attempting to placate her. "How about I make you some coffee—"

"Don't bullshit me, Jacob Black," she says, her eyes narrowed to thin slits. "We don't do secrets."

"Edward called me," he says slowly, before launching into what feels like the millionth explanation for the day.

Leah's expression remains guarded while he speaks, near-impossible to read, and he almost thinks that he should have gotten in on Paul's bet. Finally, when she's fully caught up, he closes his mouth, letting her brain catch up to the madness of the present.

"I'm coming tonight," she says finally. "That's a statement, not a question."

Jacob winces, already picturing everything that could possibly go wrong — papercuts, a Paul-Emmett rematch, a rogue leech ambush.

"I don't think that's a good idea, Leah," Jacob says carefully.

"Well, is she coming?"

She needs no name.

"I'd expect so," he says reluctantly, knowing the argument is effectively over and that he has lost.

"Then so am I," Leah declares, unfolding her legs from the couch to stretch. "You should get some sleep if you're going to kick Edward's ass tonight."

It's a convincing proposition.

"Fine," he says, feeling like a child being sent to bed early as she drapes the blanket over him. "Will you be here when I wake up?"

"Sure, sure," she says teasingly, laughing at his scandalised expression. "That's my saying now."

"You're the worst," he tells her, his eyes already slipping shut.


A/N: To avoid clogging the FFn story with too many outtakes/interludes, the next one-shot written by Hyacinthed is posted on AO3 and can be found here (though is not mandatory and has no bearing on the main storyline): archiveofourown dot org (/) works (/) 38543041

Anonymous reviews have been disabled. Login to review. 1. prologue 376 0 0 2. one 2713 0 0 3. two 2883 0 0 4. three 3092 0 0 5. four 3549 0 0 6. five 4417 0 0 7. six 3583 0 0 8. seven 4480 0 0 9. eight 3691 0 0 10. nine 2438 0 0 11. ten 2859 0 0 12. eleven 2354 0 0 13. twelve 2534 0 0 14. thirteen 3152 0 0 15. fourteen 1990 0 0 16. fifteen 4078 0 0 17. sixteen 3025 0 0 18. seventeen 4411 0 0 19. eighteen 3998 0 0 20. nineteen 3855 0 0 21. twenty 3548 0 0 22. twenty-one 4653 0 0 23. twenty-two 3493 0 0 24. twenty-three 2837 0 0 25. twenty-four 3524 0 0 26. twenty-five 5365 0 0 27. twenty-six 3566 0 0 28. twenty-seven 2778 0 0 29. twenty-eight 2824 0 0 30. twenty-nine 4339 0 0 31. thirty 3234 0 0 32. thirty-one 4997 0 0 33. thirty-two 3742 0 0 34. thirty-three 5483 0 0 35. thirty-four 3923 0 0 36. thirty-five 4638 0 0 37. thirty-six 2612 1 1 38. thirty-seven 4409 0 0 39. thirty-eight 4292 0 0 40. thirty-nine 4088 0 0 41. forty 4542 0 0 42. forty-one 6594 0 0 43. forty-two 6667 0 0 44. forty-three 2359 0 0 45. interlude one (quil) 1346 0 0 46. interlude two (embry) 2681 0 0 47. forty-four 3563 0 0 48. forty-four 3602 0 0 49. forty-five 4955 0 0 50. forty-six 3038 0 0 51. forty-seven 6046 0 0 52. forty-eight 4827 0 0 53. forty-nine 3557 0 0 54. fifty 3128 0 0 55. interlude four (sam) 5016 0 0 56. fifty-one 4120 0 0 57. fifty-two 5802 0 0 58. fifty-three 4843 0 0 59. speak now or forever hold your peace 1865 0 0 60. for the record 3626 0 0 61. rachel black 3263 0 0