A/N: Okay, I said I would try to get something out by Valentine's day, it was a toss up on which story would be published. I have a Bella/Tanya AU I started, but I might keep that too myself, so I started another one that was supposed to be a one-shot just for fun but it's getting out of hand. I'll have to sort that one out for a while before I decide to post anything. Lots of story ideas, but limited desire to work, ya know?
Anyway, this story is different than what I've tried before. There are two plot problems to follow, the first introduced in this chapter, the second introduced in the second chapter. The lines between good and evil will be murky at least, because both sides will do bad or at least morally questionable things. If you're not down with character death or rampant disregard for human life, please avoid this story.
Summary: They say that imprinting is like a million lines converging, tethering the wolf to their mate. They don't say that its like a chain, binding the imprint to the wolf forever.
Posted: February 13th, 2016
"Bella, wake up!" Jacob yelled as he burst into the room, causing the brunette on the bed to sit up with a start.
"Geez, Jake, don't you knock?" Bella groaned out, her heart hammering in her chest. She rubbed absentmindedly at her eyes, trying to get rid of the remnants of sleep. "What are you doing here anyway?"
"Come on Bells, you graduated, you're less mopey, we can hangout now," he said, settling his large frame in the desk chair.
"Why do I feel like this has less to do with hanging out and more to do with wolf business?" Bella spat out, glaring at him.
Jake shrugged, "Why so suspicious Bells, sure the pack will be around, but they're not that bad."
"They hate me Jake, don't even try to sugar coat it, they hate me for dating a vampire."
"Can you really blame them Bells, I mean, you did knowingly date a leech," Jake replied dismissively. "Then you mourned him for months after he dumped you." The wolf-boy shrugged, "I know I can't blame them."
Bella ignored the sharp stab in her heart at Jacob's words and stood up, grabbing some clothes out of her dresser before shuffling out to the bathroom. "Can you leave my room please, I need to get changed if you're dragging me down to the reservation today."
After taking a short shower, Bella pulled on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, and walked downstairs to see Jake eating everything in her fridge. "I made you some toast," he muffled around the chicken in his mouth.
"How thoughtful of you," Bella replied, rolling her eyes. She grabbed the toast from her toaster and buttered it while Jake finished off the jar of pickles.
"Ah, good breakfast, let's go Bells," he said, grabbing her before she could finish her toast.
"Ouch, geez Jake, I'm not as sturdy as you," Bella said as she winced as she rubbed her shoulder where Jake grabbed her.
They road to La Push in relative silence with Jake humming to the music on the radio, further emphasizing the fact that he was tone deaf.
Bella winced as she felt bruises forming on her shoulder where Jake grabbed her. It wasn't the first time that Jake left bruises on her, usually when he grabbed her too harshly. She knew he didn't mean it, but he and the rest of the wolves didn't realize their own strength sometimes.
"We're hanging out at Sam's today Bells," he said as they pulled up in front of Sam's house. "Embry, Quil and I are going to use his game system to play since he has the best TV. Sam, Jared and Paul are on patrol right now, but Emily's here, you can help her in the kitchen. Or you can watch us play video games, you know, whatever, just remember, don't stare at Emily too much."
"I got it Jake," Bella rolled her eyes. So much for hanging out, why am I not surprised that he brought me down here to cook? She had only met Emily once, and it was after Jared freaked out on her and she found out about the pack. She only spent a few hours with the older wolves Sam and Jared, and had never met Paul, but she knew enough about them to know that they hated her.
Bella followed Jake into the house and spotted Embry and Quil sitting on the floor in front of the TV, game controllers in hand. Jake joined them on the floor while Bella rolled her eyes and made her way into the kitchen. "Hi Emily," the brunette greeted the older girl, glancing at the ingredients splayed out on the counter.
"Bella," Emily cried, "Jake said he was going to be brining you; can you help me out? We're having spaghetti and meatballs today, and I'm not sure how to make the meatballs and sauce. I hear you have a good recipe though." The brunette nodded and set about helping, internally sighing though that she was brought down to the reservation in order to cook for a pack of wolf shifters.
"How many are going to be here anyway?" Bella asked a few hours later after making a mountain of food.
"Oh, the whole pack now, Embry, Quil and Jake you know, of course Sam, Jared and Paul, they're out helping the newly phased wolves, Brady and Colin. They're pretty young, so Sam figured it would be best if the older wolves helped them. And then Leah will be over later of course, though Leah…" Emily trailed off and Bella just nodded her head. She heard about what happened between Leah, Sam and Emily, how Sam imprinted on Emily even though he was engaged to her cousin Leah.
When Bella heard the story, she immediately told Jake that she was never dating him; she knew that he didn't imprint on her and didn't want to go through what Leah did. Every time Bella saw the older girl, she had a scowl on her face, and glared at everyone, using biting words when glares weren't enough.
"Is it typical for everyone to come here for… lunch, dinner?" Bella asked, not knowing what time it was.
"Not usually, but they've been having some kind of problem with a stray vampire popping up here and there, so Sam wants to have a meeting with the full pack. Well, maybe not Jared, he might be running patrols…" Emily's voice trailed off and she scrunched her face up, trying to think.
"What do you mean stray vampire?" Bella asked, fear gripping her.
"Some red-haired female leech," Quil answered when he walked into the kitchen, snatching a piece of bread off of the counter. "She manages to escape us each time we think we've caught her, but she keeps getting away."
"A red-haired vampire… Victoria," Bella murmured, looking down at the ground.
"That's rich," an unfamiliar voice spoke. "The leech lover knows this knew leech. She coming to, what, take you out for coffee?"
Bella looked up and locked eyes with the sneering, angry man in front of her. As soon as their eyes connected, she could feel something settle around her neck and into her chest while the shifter in front of her froze before shaking violently. "You've got to be kidding me," he seethed. "You've got to be fucking kidding me!"
"Paul," Sam snapped, having witnessed the whole scene. "Outside, now!"
"What just happened…" Bella stuttered out, a growing weight settling on her chest.
The people in the room stared at her and each other before Leah, who had just arrived, snorted. "Paul just imprinted on you Swan," she spat out.
"Leah," Sam barked, walking back into the room. "That wasn't for you to tell her."
"It's my job to tell her Leah," Paul said, walking into the room. "So butt out." Bella took a good look at Paul, particularly his expression. The anger from earlier seems to have disappeared but something about him still set her on edge. His eyes flashed over to her and she felt an immense pressure settle on her chest, making it difficult for her to breathe. "Bella can I speak to you outside?" Paul asked, his voice calm but his eyes hard.
"I don't think that's a good idea," Jake interrupted, looking between Bella and Paul.
"Leave them alone Jake," Sam stated, power rolling in his voice. "They have to discuss some things."
Jake grumbled and Paul turned and walked out of the door. Bella hesitated but it felt as if an invisible tether tugged her out of the house behind the wolf shifter. They walked down to the beach until they were a fair distance from the house. Paul turned around and looked at the brunette, a sneer on his face. "Do you know what imprinting means Bella?" He asked, disgust present in his voice.
Bella licked her lips, "Is that, is that what Sam and Emily have, and Jared and Kim?"
"Kind of, except what they have is different, what this is, this is a mistake," Paul bit out, his eyes fierce. "Our legends say that the imprint is a gift to the wolf spirit warriors for their sacrifice to the wolf, to the tribe. The imprint is supposed to calm the wolf and the wolf is then supposed to be whatever the imprint wants." Paul sneered, a grimace on his face. "My wolf and I agree that you're disgusting, knowingly cavorting with a leech. I'm not touching a leech's used goods, besides, what's to say you could even satisfy me when you're used to a leech's cold frozen dick?"
The tether around Bella's neck tightened and the weight on her chest increased. She took a step back, frightened by the look on Paul's face only to stop when a scalding hot hand tightly grasped her wrist. "Where do you think you're going little girl?" He hissed out, his hand tightening.
"I-" Bella started, too afraid to sleep.
"My wolf and I might think you're a piece of shit, but you are our piece of shit, you belong to us." Bella's heartbeat spiked at the menacing look on Paul's face. "I'm not going to hit you little girl, don't you worry about that, I'm not going to touch you actually," he said, releasing her arm. "You come around down here, I'm going to treat you exactly the way your precious leeches treated you, like a pet."
He turned and walked back towards Sam's house before glancing back at the girl. "And not a word to the others, to them, everything is normal," he stated, heading back to the house.
The tether lightened around her neck, allowing Bella to breathe and she dropped to the ground with a gasp. "What was that?" She murmured, rubbing her neck, trying to feel for the cord she felt. Her brow furrowed when she confirmed that there was nothing around her neck. She twisted her arm the wrong way and winced feeling her wrist throb. Pushing her sleeve up, Bella brushed her fingers against the reddened and swelling flesh. "That's definitely going to bruise."
She stayed on the ground for a few minutes, thinking about what had just occurred, what had just happened. Standing shakily, Bella turned to look out at the ocean, wondering if her existence was worth continuing or if she should just walk into the sea. Jake came out to find her a few moments later.
"You okay Bella?" He asked. "Paul came in by himself and told us it was a lot for you to take in."
"I-" Bella started, but she felt the cord tighten around her neck the second she thought about telling Jake what really happened. "It's a lot," she reluctantly gasped out. "I… Can you take me home, I need to think."
Jake was silent on the way pack to the car and as he drove Bella home. The silence unnerved the brunette slightly, but she was more concerned with what happened earlier with Paul than with Jake's attitude. Jake stopped in front of her house and followed her out of the car and to the front door. "I'll be fine on my own Jake," Bella said, looking back at the still silent figure following her.
"It's not fair…" He mumbled after a minute, gazing at her.
"You should've been mine!" Jake yelled, his fists clenched and form vibrating slightly. "If Paul hadn't of imprinted on you, you would've been mine!"
"Jake, we've talked about this…"
"I was giving you time to think it over, you still weren't over that leech. You were going to come to your senses soon though; I could tell you were warming up to me. You were going to give in and be mine sooner or later, but now that Paul has imprinted on you, you're basically untouchable by anyone in the pack."
"How many times do I have to tell you that I don't want to date you?!" Bella yelled, glaring at him.
"Whatever," he replied, stalking back to the car. "I hope you have a good life with the man whore of La Push!"
Bella stared after him as he yanked open his door and drove off in a huff, the tires spinning slightly on the gravel in his haste to get away. She realized as he drove away that they never said anything more about Victoria with everything that happened with Paul.
She turned back to her house and headed for the kitchen, not getting a chance to eat any of the food she had prepared with Emily. The brunette made herself a sandwich and ate it on the way upstairs towards her room. Bella flopped back on her bed, rubbing her chest when she felt the pressure increase slightly. She dozed lightly, mentally exhausted from the day.
She awoke suddenly to a searing pain coursing through her body. It was as if claws were tearing apart her intestines, ripping her apart from the inside. She felt her stomach churning and started gasping for breath, heaving. Bella stumbled out of bed and raced to the bathroom, barely making it to the toilet before retching up everything she had eaten in her entire life. She started dry heaving once her stomach was empty, choking on air as she tried to take breaths. She collapsed on the floor in a heap, sobs wracking her body as the pain continued to get worse before it abruptly stopped, creating a void in her soul.
Bella tried to catch her breath, her body sore and weak from the retching and the throbbing pain. "Oh god, what's happening to me?" She moaned, unable to move from her position.
She didn't know how much time had passed before she was able to find the strength to crawl back to her room and into her bed. Curling into a tight ball, she whimpered as the pain began anew, wondering what evil she had done in her life, or if this pain would be the last thing that she felt.
"Bells, Bells," Charlie's voice filtered into her mind, stirring her to the waking world a few hours later.
"Ch-Dad?" Bella moaned softly, turning over to look at him.
"You left a mess in the bathroom Bella, it needs to be cleaned up," he said gruffly before walking out of her room and back downstairs.
The brunette rubbed her chest as she sat up; the pain had dulled from a piercing ache to a throb, feeling more like constant heartburn than someone taking a knife to her organs. She slowly got to her feet and shuffled to the bathroom, gagging at the smell when she entered the room. As she cleaned up the evidence of her episode earlier, she wished that what caused it would disappear as quickly. What was that anyway? She thought as she threw away the last of the dirty towels.
"Dad, the bathroom's clean," Bella said as she called down the stairs. "I'm pretty tired, I'm going to go ahead and go to bed."
"I'll be gone all day tomorrow Bella, I'm going fishing," Charlie called back, making no mention of her going to bed early or being sick.
"Can't decide who's worth living with, a mother who can't take care of herself or a father who ignores me…" Bella murmured as she went back to her room.
She fell into a fitful sleep, only to wake hours later as pain surged through her again and the invisible cord tightened around her neck. She gasped and coughed, trying to catch her breath, forcing out a scream in fright. She felt her heart pounding in her chest, like a heavy thud thundering in her ears. It felt like an eternity, feeling her heart nearly jump out of her chest, her throat constricted by an unseen tether, but it had to only be a few minutes before the pain vanished, leaving only a hollow feeling in her chest. Bella coughed, choking as she tried to suck in air as quickly as possible. She felt something sticky on her face around her mouth after she coughed. Licking her lips, she instantly tasted copper on her tongue, realizing that she had coughed up her own blood.
"Damnit Bella, I thought we were done with this," Charlie yelled, banging on her door. "Stop screaming, and go back to sleep. Edward left, get over it, stop mourning, moping, grow up Isabella." She heard him stomp back to his room, slamming his door with a huff.
"Sorry Dad," Bella whispered, a tear sliding down her cheek. "But I think I'm dying."
"It's been a while since I've seen you down here leech lover," Leah's voice came from behind her. Bella turned slightly from her spot sitting on the sand staring out at the water and gazed up at the she-wolf. Leah looked visibly startled, taking in the changes that had come over the girl since she had last seen her at Sam's weeks ago. Dark bags sat under the younger girl's eyes, and her skin seemed sallow, dehydrated as it stretched around bone and tissue. Bella had clearly lost a lot of weight in the past few weeks with the way that her clothes hung on her frame, dwarfing her. "Geez Swan, what happened to you, you look like shit."
"I'm not in the mood Leah," Bella rasped out. Her voice had been severely damaged by the screaming at night and the cord wrapped around her neck, choking her.
"Seriously, what's up Swan?" Leah asked, sitting down next to the girl. "I thought you would be off with Paul somewhere. I keep seeing him walking around looking smug, like a stuffed up peacock."
"I haven't seen Paul since that day," Bella snorted, instantly feeling the pain set in on her chest. She felt the cord tighten around her neck and her hand instantly shot to her neck, grasping. "Oh god, why now," she gasped, bending forward. She started to choke and shake, dry heaving since she hadn't been able to eat much for days.
"Swan? Swan?!" Leah yelled out, seeing the girl crumple forward, gasping in pain. "Bella!"
The pain lessened to a more manageable ache, something she could function with, allowing Bella to stumble to her feet. She turned and slowly started back to her behemoth truck. "Bella, shit, wait up, what was that?" Leah called after her, catching the girl by her wrist.
"Nothing, leave me alone Leah, just go be like your pack mates and stick your head in the sand," Bella yelled, feeling her wrist bruise from where Leah grabbed her.
Leah released Bella's wrist and watched the girl stumbled away, suspicion present in her eyes. She stood there for a moment before turning towards the tribal council hall, knowing that something was amiss with the girl, especially since the pain that she just witnessed started when she mentioned Paul's name. Something is definitely wrong…
Bella stumbled back to her truck and got in, easing out of the parking lot. She started to head back to Forks, but the pain in her chest increased greatly, forcing her to pull over on the side of the road. She set her head down on her steering wheel and shuddered out some breaths, desperately trying to keep her heart in her chest. Her heart still and the pain stopped, but Bella continued to sit on the side of the road, tears streaking down her face.
A knock on her window startled her out of her thoughts and she turned her head. Her breath caught in her throat as she saw Paul standing outside of her, smirking at her. "You okay pet," he said, sneering at the brunette.
"What do you want Paul?" She asked, licking her dry, cracked lips.
Paul smirked again, "Oh come on pet, aren't you happy to see me? Don't you feel better seeing me?"
Bella stopped breathing, her heart nearly stopped beating at his words. What does he know… The wolf just smirked and walked off, the pain returning the second he hit the tree line.
The pressure on her chest was manageable as she restarted her truck and continued home. She made it home and into the house before she passed out on the floor.
"Bella, Bella come on, wake up!" Leah's voice filtered into her mind as she felt soft pats to her face. "Come on, don't let him do this to you."
"Leah…" Bella murmured. "What?"
"Thank god," Leah said, relieved when Bella's eyes cracked open. "How long have you been lying here?"
"What time is it?" The brunette croaked, sitting up slowly. "I got back around 3 I think…"
"It's almost midnight," the older girl hissed out. "Where's the chief?"
"I don't know, he's almost never here anymore, might be out fishing…"
Leah snorted, "Probably at my house fucking my mom…"
"What?" Bella asked, wide-eyed.
The older girl sighed and sat down on the floor. "I found out a while ago that my mom and your dad were having an affair, have been having an affair actually, for several years now. It's part of the reason why I phased for the first time and also part of the reason why I didn't like you."
"That bastard," Bella murmured, leaning back against the couch. "Harry was one of his best friends… Oh, so those 'fishing trips,' some of them were just to pop down to the reservation to get laid? What a bastard, some genetics I come from, my mother is a whore and my father is a asshole, just great."
"I think you've had enough pity-party time Swan, enough to last a lifetime," Leah said, getting to her feet before hoisting the other girl after her and huddling her into the kitchen. "You need to eat, you're barely 100 pounds, that's not healthy."
"I can't eat Leah, I haven't been able to eat since…"
"Since Paul imprinted on you," the other girl finished her sentence, knowing that she quite hadn't put it together yet. She pushed the girl down into the chair gently before finding the ingredients to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. "Paul is on patrol right now and for the next few hours, so we have time to get food in you and for it to digest partially before you start to feel pain again."
"So whatever this is, it is connected to Paul somehow," Bella whispered, slowly eating her sandwich.
Leah continued to make a few more sandwiches before sitting down across from the girl. "You knew?" She asked quietly.
"No, not really, I saw him today when I was leaving La Push… trying to leave anyway. Something he said, the way he said it made me think that whatever was going on with me was connected to him."
"It's not only connected to him Bella, but it's because of him. He's doing this on purpose Sw- Bella."
Bella stared blankly at Leah, her body on autopilot as it continued to take in the calories it desperately needed through the sandwiches. "What do you mean?" She asked after finishing her second sandwich.
"What you said, the way you looked, none of it seemed right to me. You've always looked kind of pale and sickly, but it was worse than that. I went to the archives in the tribal council hall to see if they had any answers." The older girl paused, a disgusted look crossing her face. "After some digging, I found a journal left by an unnamed wolf in the time of Taha Aki, it told the truth of imprinting, what was withheld from us by the council."
"Just tell me Leah," Bella urged when the girl stopped speaking.
"For the wolf, imprinting is like a million cables, connecting us to our family, our dreams, our lives, snapping and reattaching as one cord to our imprint." At Leah's words, Bella's hand shot straight to her neck where the invisible tether clung to her, tightening slightly. "We were told that imprinting was a gift from the spirits for being wolves, giving us someone that would complete us, but it's not, not really. Imprinting is from the spirits, but it has more levels than what the elders told us. It provides wolves someone who they can control; the imprintee becomes whoever the wolf wants them to be or the imprint will actively punish them, forcing them to break so the wolf can mold them."
"So that is what Paul is doing to me? Breaking me?"
"Sort of, except the way he is doing it is different," Leah replied hesitantly. "After I read the notebook, I phased and waited. The guys can't hear me in the mind link unless I want them to, I've managed to hide this by projecting angry thoughts about Emily and Sam."
"Emily and Sam… Oh right, Sam was going to marry you, but imprinted on Emily. Jake told me that being in your head was a nightmare due to your thoughts about them."
"That's what they think, Sam was an ass, and Emily was a whore. I always thought it was amusing and slightly perplexing at the changed she went through after she started dating Sam, but after reading that journal, I understand better now. Sam wanted a housewife he could fuck at any time, and forced that on Emily."
"So what is Paul doing to me?"
"I phased and waited until I felt Paul phase as well, and I heard what he was thinking of," she started again. "Bella, he, he's been sleeping around, that's who he is, the man whore of La Push, but every time he sleeps with someone else, someone not you, the imprint punishes you for not being enough for him, for not being worthy of his dick, his sperm."
"What are you saying?"
Leah took a deep breath, "He knows his fucking around is hurting you, he can feel you through the bond. When he fucks someone else, or even masturbates, the imprint takes it as you not being enough for him, not being worthy of carrying the next line of wolves, and punishes you accordingly."
"It feels like a pressure is sitting on my chest, a cord around my neck and claws ripping apart my organs," Bella whispered, her hand still rubbing at her throat.
"That's the imprint, the spirit of the wolf is literally tearing you apart from the inside," the older girl said, sympathy and disgust present on her face.
"Why are you helping me?" Bella asked suddenly, looking at Leah with suspicion. "Why are you telling me this? You hate me…"
"I'm not going to lie Swan, I don't like you, but I was disgusted once I knew what Paul was doing. I don't like you, but I hate the pack, the council, the tribe even more," Leah replied, anger present in her eyes. "They took everything from me and then expect me to sit by while this shit happens? I don't think so."
Leah sighed again, "Once I knew what Paul was doing, I stayed phased for a while until Sam phased in. He started talking to Paul about how he was doing with 'fixing' you, correcting your leech loving behavior I guess. Apparently Sam and the elders were operating under the assumption that Paul was using the imprint to correct your behavior, they have no idea what he's really doing, though what they think he is doing is bad enough."
"Did they… did they do something to the other imprints, I know you said Emily was…"
"A whore, yup, a dirty, rotten, whore, and I'm pretty sure they knew about 'correcting' her behavior. As for Jared's imprint Kim, well, she's a genius, had a scholarship to Berkeley for engineering. As soon as Jared imprints on her, she rejects the scholarship to stay with him. Now she's finishing her senior year of high school and well on her way to being a statistic for teenage pregnancy."
Bella jumped out of her seat at Leah's words and started pacing, "I can't fucking believe this shit, I can't believe it. First my dickhead vampire boyfriend dumps me like yesterday's garbage and his whole family leaves, then I find out a psycho vampire is hanging around and I'm pretty sure she's after me, I get imprinted on and controlled by a rat bastard, and then I find out that the old farts in charge of the place, some of the people I've known since I was a baby, are condoning have girls basically brainwashed and forced into situations they don't want. And they want me to go through that as well!" She collapsed on the floor, tears flowing out of her eyes.
"I can't do this," she whispered before looking back up at Leah. "Is there a way to break the imprint? Get rid of it? I let someone control me before because I thought I loved him, because I thought he loved me. Looking back, I regret it, so I'm definitely not going to let some racist, prejudice idiot control me."
Leah looked pensive, "As far as I know, there is no way to break the imprint. Only death will free you."
The brunette's heart dropped into her stomach at the older girl's words and she slumped to the ground in defeat. A stray thought entered her mind as she mulled over Leah's words. "Only death will free me…" She murmured. "So if I die, then the imprint is broken?"
"Yeah, but you'll be dead so there isn't really much of a point," Leah said, sitting back. She paused for a moment and thought about her own words before glancing down to look at the other girl. She took in the thoughtful expression, the almost calculating look in her eyes as she realized what the girl was thinking. "Please don't tell me that you're thinking about-"
"It's the only way Leah, the only way to be free of this," Bella stated firmly. "It's the only way to be free of the imprint and see the next sunrise. At the rate Paul's going with his nefarious scheme, he might kill me sooner or later, so I'll die either way. At least one option has me waking up three days later."
Leah pondered her words and nodded her head. "I hate it, but you make sense, doesn't mean I have to like it. And how are you going to get turned into a bloodsucker anyway? Just find the closest leech and go 'Hi, can you turn me into a vampire, I know I smell and look like food, but don't do it.' Like that will work."
Another memory flashed through Bella's mind, which helped make her decision. "I have an idea but you're not going to like it."
"I'm a wolf Swan, I don't like any part of this conversation but I agree, you turning into a vampire is better than turning into a mindless drone or Paul finally killing you."
"Thanks Leah, I need your help with this. I need you to help me get out of town."
"And go where?"
A/N: Let me know what you guys think, I'm curious