At the Cliffs

My take on New Moon / Eclipse - written from Bella's perspective

← Chapter 8: Rain      Chapter 10: Talk →

Chapter 9: Meeting

Most of the pack had already assembled in Jake’s living room by the time I slipped out of the bedroom. I had tried to straighten up a little – smoothing down my bed head and crinkled clothes - but there wasn’t a mirror in Jake’s bedroom so I didn’t know how successful I had been. Probably not that successful if Quil’s smirk had anything to do with it. He gave me a friendly – if somewhat cheeky - grin as I entered the room, while at the same time giving Embry a not-at-all subtle jab to the ribs.

I chuckled to myself. It was hard not to be amused by Quil’s antics. He was just such a guy about things. It was nice to see that the werewolf stuff hadn’t put a cramp in his style – so to speak. Though it was probably a good thing that Jake hadn’t seen it – he was in the kitchen helping Emily unload the food that she had brought over - otherwise, he and Quil would have gotten into it for sure.

I stood awkwardly at the entrance to the living room, unsure of where to place myself since Jake wasn’t in the room. Without his reassuring presence, I suddenly felt like a party-crasher. And it wasn’t just because I was about to attend my first ever tribe meeting. I just never quite realized how much I depended on Jake’s solid presence next to me, making me feel like I belonged no matter where we were.

Quil and Embry were leaning against the table on the far side of the room. Jared and Paul were sprawled on the floor next to them, deep in discussion as they gestured wildly with their hands. Leah sat in the corner chair, keeping herself slightly distanced from the rest of the pack. Based on the cast of her mouth, it looked like this impromptu pack meeting had cut short her evening plans and she wasn’t happy about it. She hadn’t missed my entrance either. She took in my rumpled state with a raised eyebrow. I flushed and looked away as the corners of her mouth began to tug up into an amused smile. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to deal with another round with Leah just yet.

Sitting in the middle of the room on the blue faded couch was an old man that I had never met, but recognized by sight as Quil’s grandfather, a.k.a. Old Quil. He was a frail looking man, with his thinning white hair, leathery skin, and slight frame, but one look at his eyes told me that he was as mentally sharp as ever.. Sitting next to him in his wheelchair was Billy. I wondered suddenly what had happened to Charlie and how Billy had managed to get him to leave so they could have this meeting.

Billy looked up as if he had heard my thoughts. He smiled fondly at me, but there was a noticeable strain in his usually warm smile. I wondered if he was beginning to regret my being a part of Jake’s life. He noticed me standing awkwardly at the doorway so he waved me into the room.

“Charlie took Sue to run a bunch of errands and then they’re going to drop off the boxes at the Salvation Army in Hoquaim. They’ll be back in about an hour.”

I nodded and was about to find a place to perch along the edge of the room, when old Quil spoke suddenly. “So this is the girl causing us so much trouble.”

I froze. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Leah sit up straight, her mouth twisting in a wry smile as she waited for my response. Quil and Embry were both looking at the floor awkwardly, unable to meet my eye. Jared and Paul hadn’t heard Old Quil so they continued talking away loudly about some upcoming baseball game until Quil gave Paul a swift kick with his foot.

“Hey man!” Paul protested before realizing that the whole room was silent around him. He ducked his head and shot Quil a questioning look. Quil just shrugged and inclined his head towards me. Paul looked over his shoulder at me and rolled his eyes, but he had the sense to keep his mouth shut.

“Yes, I guess that’s me,” I replied weakly after too much silence had passed.

Old Quil looked at me intently then. His expression was stern but thoughtful and his deep-set brown eyes radiated the wisdom gained from a long tough life. I had to remind myself not to cower under his stare. I had nothing to be ashamed of. At least I didn’t think I did. I didn’t want to put the pack in danger. I didn’t want Victoria to be hunting me. It wasn’t my fault – no matter what Leah had said. A niggling little voice deep inside reminded me that none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been with Edward, but I just shoved that thought away. I couldn’t think about that. Not now.

Just when I felt the tension around me straining to a breaking point, old Quil cracked a wide smile. “I guess there’s no point in living without some trouble to spice things up.”

I hadn’t realized I was holding my breath until it whooshed out of me in a heady sense of relief. Old Quil’s smile softened and he patted the space on the couch next to him. I sat down gingerly, unsure of what we would have to talk about, but he just patted my hand and turned to Billy again to resume their conversation in Quilleute.

Just then, the door opened, and Sam and Seth came in. They both had clearly just phased back into their human form, because their skin had that strange reddish glow that was more noticeable when they had just phased. Plus, they looked dirty and disheveled, with faint mud and grass stains across their bare chests. Seth even had a few leaves stuck in his hair.

The rest of the pack jumped up and surrounded Seth high-fiving him and each other in a flurry of macho activity. I realized that this was probably the first time that Seth had phased back into human form since he had become part of the pack. Even though I knew that all the guys would hit a growth spurt to coincide with the phasing, it still shocked me to see little Seth Clearwater standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the other guys. Though it was clear that he still had some growing to do as his shoulders and arms had yet to fill in, giving him a gangly uncoordinated appearance.

Leah held back until the guys finished their male bonding routine and then she made her way over to her little brother with a softness on her face that I had never seen before. She examined him critically from head to toe and seemed satisfied when she didn’t see any overt injuries. She leaned up to pluck the leaves out of his hair, but Seth turned beet red and swatted her hand away as he pulled at his hair, trying to straighten himself out. Leah flushed slightly in return but didn’t say anything. Satisfied with her inspection, she returned to her seat, leaving the rest of the guys to stand around to continue their testosterone-fueled back-slapping and guffawing over Paul’s jokes.

Sam came into the living room and greeted both Billy and Old Quil with a ritualistic looking handshake and a half-bow. He nodded to me with a grave smile and then headed towards the kitchen to find Emily, who must have been cooking dinner based on the delicious smells wafting into the room. A few seconds later, both Sam and Jake returned. Jake raised an eyebrow when he saw me sitting next to Old Quil, but he didn’t say anything.

“Alright, let’s start,” Sam said, looking pointedly at the guys who were still chatting and goofing off. They immediately turned to take their seats, but not before Paul did a funny imitation of Sam’s alpha stance when his back was turned. The rest of the guys muffled their chuckles and Quil winked at me as he walked to his seat.

Old Quil cleared his throat with frown at Paul. This time, all the guys piped down immediately.

“So tell us, Sam. What happened today?” he asked, mincing no words as he jumped right to the heart of the matter.

“We scoped out the area that Bella described and we did detect the scent of a few cold ones. There was one fresh scent, the scent that Jake smelled on Bella yesterday, and a few other scents that were too old and faded for us to distinguish how many vampires they represent. But the one thing we could tell was that the scent of the red-head was mixed in among the scents.”

Sam paused. The rest of the pack had already heard this news through their mind-sharing, so the only people who were surprised were Billy, Old Quil, and Emily, who was leaning against the doorframe where she could keep an eye on the timer in the kitchen. I saw fear flit through her eyes before she composed herself. Old Quil tensed up next to me as he inclined his head to indicate that Sam should continue.

“Based on the mix of the scents, I would guess that there may be 2-3 others in addition to the red-head.” Jake stiffened beside Sam. It was clear from the look on his face that he disagreed, but wouldn’t – or perhaps couldn’t – say anything to contradict Sam.

Sam sighed before he continued. “Of course, we can’t be sure of the number. The scents were too degraded for us to really know. If we hadn’t been chasing the red-head for so long, I’m not sure we would have been able to distinguish her scent among the others.”

Old Quil raised a grizzly eyebrow and turned to Billy, who was nodding as he processed Sam’s report. When Billy spoke, his voice was somber and his eyes were grave. “What do you propose, Sam?”

“I don’t believe that they pose an immediate threat to the tribe. The red-head seems to have created a new family for herself. New companions. She hasn’t been seen around here in months. I think that she’s decided to move on with her life. She’s no longer tracking Bella-” he inclined his head in my direction but didn’t look at me, “-in vengeance for her old family. She’s moved on.”

Jacob had been pacing silently next to Sam, practically vibrating with the force of holding his comments in check.

Sam continued, “This doesn’t change anything. We will still run border patrols to protect to the tribe. If we find evidence that she may think about returning with her new family, then we can reassess the situation. But for now, I don’t think we have anything to worry about.”

For a moment, Sam’s deep measured baritone lulled me into a sense of security. But then I remembered that it was Victoria that he was talking about. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see some disagreement among the rest of the pack. Jared, ever loyal to Sam, and Paul, who just did whatever Jared did, were clearly on Sam’s side. Quil and Embry looked skeptical - Jake must have explained his thoughts to them earlier. Seth looked dazed and confused, as if he were still processing the fact that his life had changed forever. Only Leah’s face remained impassive and unreadable.

Old Quil nodded as Sam finished saying his piece, and then he turned his towards Jake, who at this point, was barely restraining himself from saying something. “Jake? You have something to say?”

“Yes, I do. No disrespect intended.” Jake’s words tumbled out like a flood. He turned to acknowledge Sam, but Sam just nodded for him to continue. “We don’t know exactly how many are in this new family of hers. The scent was too degraded. It could have been 3 vampires 3 days ago or 30 vampires 30 days ago. It’s lucky that we were able to even detect her scent. There could be others hidden somewhere else in the city. It’s not as if we searched every corner.” Sam frowned at this point. Jake continued hastily, “All I’m saying is that it seems unlikely that she would give up. She spent months tracking Bella. Why stop now?”

“She stopped ‘cause we scared her sh*tless!” Paul guffawed loudly, as he and Jared gave each other a loud high-five. Old Quil raised his eyebrows and Paul shut up immediately, looking down as his feet with a flushed face.

“He does have a point,” Embry pointed out thoughtfully. “Sam and Jake scoped out the waterfront area. We know that vampires can swim well and that being in water masks their scent. How do we know how many vampires there are exactly in Seattle?”

“True,” Sam conceded. “But how many vampires there are in Seattle doesn’t concern us. Who knows how many of their kind exists out in the world? Until they come to this area and pose a threat to our people, they’re not our business.”

“But they could be our business,” Jake insisted. “Seattle is not that far away. What if they decide to come here?”

“Seattle is far enough. And if they will leave us alone, then we will leave them alone. We can’t become vigilantes so far away from our land.” Sam gestured towards the rest of the pack, “There are 8 of us now. Two more once Collin and Brady turn. If they come here, we should be able to take them.”

“What if there are more than we think?” Jake asked pointedly. “What if there are 10? 20?” Everyone in the room gasped slightly at the thought. “What if we’re out-numbered? Shouldn’t we go pick off some of them first to try to even the numbers?”

“No. I don’t want to pick a fight with them. What if they had no intention of coming back? If we attack, they’ll definitely seek revenge. We can’t risk that,” Sam countered.

It felt like we were watching a verbal tennis match. Every head in the room swiveled back and forth between the two of them as they argued, but no matter how heated Jake’s words were, it was clear that there was a tremendous amount of respect between them.

“Does anyone else have thoughts?” Billy asked suddenly, turning his eyes to the rest of the pack.

Quil shrugged. Embry shook his head. Paul smirked – it looked like he had plenty to say but it probably wasn’t appropriate to be said here. Only Jared responded, “I agree entirely with Sam. While I understand where Jake is coming from-” he acknowledged with a nod in a direction, “-he’s forgetting that our one and only responsibility is to protect the tribe. We’re protectors. We defend against attackers. We don’t attack ourselves. And we don’t seek them out.”

Billy looked at Jake thoughtfully. “Their argument is pretty compelling. None of us want to provoke a battle for no reason.”

It was pretty clear that almost everyone in the room was on Sam’s side. Jake’s eyes were stormy with frustration, but his voice was steady as he responded. “Okay, but can we at least run double patrols for the next month just in case? And maybe Sam and I can head to Seattle again in a few weeks just to keep tabs on the situation?”

Sam shook his dead. “Double patrols stretch us pretty thin, Jake. You know that. The guys are exhausted already.”

“Speak for yourself,” I heard Paul mutter under his breath before Jared smacked him on the side of his head.

Jake pressed on, “We don’t have a choice Sam. I just don’t believe that she’s given up. And I don’t want us to be caught unawares. We need to prepare for the worst-case scenario.”

“And how do you propose that we do that?” Leah stood up suddenly from her chair as she sauntered over casually to where Sam and Jake were standing. “Huh? So say worst-case, Victoria has 20 vamps with her. And they decide one day to come and kill us all. What chance do we stand? Even if we had double-patrols going, we won’t know that they’re coming until they arrive at our borders!”

Leah’s words were like a Molotov cocktail. The entire room burst into a cacophony of arguments. From Paul, calling Leah some un-nice names, to Jared, protesting that Leah was underestimating the pack, to Quil and Embry, who had started arguing amongst themselves about Leah’s remarks, the chatter around me was deafening.

“Silence!” Old Quil shouted over the clamor. The boys quieted immediately. “What do you propose, Leah?”

“My point is that we can’t do anything except just continue what we’ve always done. Going to pick a fight would be stupid. Running ourselves ragged just in case of a worst-case attack is equally stupid. It wouldn’t give us an advantage and it would just exhaust us before the fight even began. We should just do what we’ve always done – run patrol on the boundaries, train for battle, plan for what we would do in case an attack happens, and then just hope for the best,” she finished with a dismissive wave at the room.

The room fell silent as they processed her words. Finally, Billy spoke, “Jake? What do you think?”

“She has a point,” Jake acknowledged, his voice steady despite the frustration written all over his face. He could tell that he was on the end of a losing battle. I was probably the only one in the room who agreed with him that there was no way Victoria had given up on all of this.

“Sam?” old Quil prompted.

“Of course,” Sam said as he turned towards Leah with a warm smile and gave her a courtly half-bow. “Leah’s right. As she always is.” Even though he meant it as a compliment, the interaction between the two former lovers was awkward at best. Leah’s chin came up a notch and a flash of annoyance flickered through her dark eyes, but she didn’t say anything.

“Okay, so then we’re agreed,” Old Quil pronounced, bringing our attention back to the point at hand. “We continue our work as planned. And we reconvene if we obtain new information.”

Jake looked like he wanted to protest. His mouth was half-open, but Billy caught his eye and gave him a subtle shake of the head. Jake sighed deeply, but closed his mouth, his entire face darkened as he looked towards his feet.

Emily seized the opportunity to break up the tension and announced that dinner was ready. The rest of the guys were up and out of their seats immediately, crowding into the tiny kitchen. Sam pushed Billy’s wheelchair into the kitchen followed closely by old Quil. Leah slipped out the door without acknowledging anyone. In five minutes, everyone and everything had returned to normal, as if the tribal meeting that had just ended hadn’t spelled out the potential end of the Quileute pack.

The only two left in the room were me and Jake. Jake was still standing in the middle of the room staring out the window. Even from here, I could tell that his eyes were dark and stormy, fixed at a distant point in misty forest as he mulled through his thoughts.

When he felt my eyes on him, he turned and fixed his piercing gaze at me. He raised an eyebrow in question. I just shrugged. I didn’t know what more there was to say. If no one else believed us, at least he and I were on the same page. We’d figure something out. Jake seemed to understand. He dropped the grim expression and gave me a wide grin instead.

I flushed when I realized that his eyes were raking over me, taking in the rumpled bedhead and clothes that hadn’t fooled Quil earlier either. I rolled my eyes as I pushed past him towards the food. He chuckled. And with that, we joined the rest of the pack and also forgot – for a moment – about the danger that was unfolding around us.

← Chapter 8: Rain      Chapter 10: Talk →

About Me

I'm a Twilight fan who believes that Jacob Black is better for Bella than Edward, so I wrote these Team Jacob fanfiction stories to try to convert as many people to my side as possible. :)

I've tried to stay as faithful to the original books as possible up through At the Cliffs, which is when I break off from canon and write out Eclipse the way I wish it had happened!

So ... what do you think? Good? Bad? Ideas for other stories?

Please let me know!

Jane

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