Howl

Chapter Two – Neighbors

After Bella left, Jake's best friends stayed for dinner. Their evening started off like usual – with Artemis receiving the first plate of food. Of course, Quil had tried to snatch it from her but was met with a swift kick to the shin. Then conversation flowed in all different directions. At some point Embry and Artemis went into their own world as they talked about the new TV show Dexter. Jake had assumed they were talking about Dexter's Laboratory which they had laughed at him for, he's sure that one of them called him uncultured. Quil opted to have a detailed discussion about open heart surgeries with Winston in an attempt to avoid any spoilers.

The food had run out quick. Feeding one growing teenage boy was harsh on the food supply, feeding three meant there was hardly anything left by the time they felt full. They were going to need to restock their fridge.

After the boys had left and the men had gone to bed, the cousins snuck out to the garage. Jake had been able to convince Artemis to join him while he worked. He'd promised she would do nothing but keep him company.

Jake had lied.

Artemis spent most of the night and until the early hours of the morning sorting and cleaning parts of both bikes. She'd grumbled and cussed after she'd been handed a new part, but she stuck around. There was a sort of peaceful calm while they did the work. But also, the bikes were a lot of work. Artemis wasn't cruel enough to leave Jake to do it all on his own.

So, when Jake violently shook her awake a few hours later it came as no surprise when she had punched him.

He fell back against the wooden coffee table. The sound of his heavy body hitting the ground startled the two men getting ready down the hall. Winston runs in the room pulling his grey Henley on. His salt and pepper hair is a wispy mess on his head. He hasn't had enough time to style it yet.

"What happened?"

"She assaulted me," Jake says rubbing his chin. Artemis packs a hard punch. Years of martial arts, self-defense classes, and hunting trips meant she knew how to properly fight. Winston had made sure all three of his children had learned survival skills. Throwing a punch had been the first thing he taught Artemis when she was old enough.

"It was an accident!" she shouts sitting up. The thin blanket she had draped over herself pools around her waist. Her body twists so that she can get a better view of her dad. The movement causes her stiff back to audibly crack.

Winston winces at the sound. There's a small feeling of guilt that hits him in the chest. When they had uprooted to his hometown, he had assumed that they wouldn't move back. His son was dying, his other son was already in college, and his daughter was bound to graduate from his old high school and move away for college. So, Winston had asked Sue Clearwater to donate all their furniture. He never had the strength to sell the house. Because of this, when the pair moved back, they didn't have a furnished home to return to. Billy had offered to take them in until their new furniture came in. Billy's place was a small two-bedroom house that hardly had enough space for his family once. With the lack of an extra bed Artemis had chosen to sleep on the living room couch so that her dad would get a bed.

"What happened?" Billy asks. He wheels himself forward into the room. Billy's dressed, black Stetson cowboy hat and all. The hat is his signature accessory. It's something he has worn since Sarah, his late wife, had gifted it to him years ago.

"My daughter punched your son," Winston explains. A hand runs over his hair to smooth it out. His smile causes crinkles around his baby blue eyes.

"Can't take a punch, Jake?" Billy teases.

Jake's hand drops from his chin. He's glaring at his father. "I can take you, old man!"

Billy holds his hands up in fists. "Let's go, son."

"Arty," Winston grabs his daughter's attention. "Get up. Bella's coming over any minute."

She frowns. Looking over at the wall clock she sees the little hand on ten and the big hand between four and five. 10:23 in the morning. A groan of disapproval escapes her lips as she falls back onto the couch. "Tell her to go home and come back later."

Jake grabs her exposed knee and yanks.

A scream rips through her as her body is pulled from the couch and lands onto the hard wood floor. There's a loud thud and a cry of pain. No damage other than a bruised ego.

"Jacob!" Billy shouts.

Winston chuckles. He nudges his brother-in-law, "ten bucks on my kid."

Artemis gets herself up right and lunges for her cousin. They fall back against the floor. She's got the upper hand now.

"Naw, Jake can take her."

She beats at his chest as she's screaming profanities. Her back is hot with pain. "You piece of shit, Jacob! I didn't get any sleep because of you! Now you want me to play nice with your girlfriend because you're a fucking—"

Winston strides over to the pair. He bends down and wraps an arm around his daughter's waist. He is able to yank her off of Jake with ease but has to wrap another arm around her struggling body. "Let me go, Daddy! Imma beat him to next Tuesday!"

"Artemis!" her dad shouts. He's loud from a distance. Up close, it feels like her ear drum is bound to rupture. "Enough already."

Her struggling halts. Her chest rises and falls with each heavy breath she inhales and exhales. Jake's watching her from the ground with a smug smile. Though his jawline is starting to bruise, he has been saved by his uncle.

"Billy and I are goin' down to Charlie's with Harry. Would you like to join us?"

"The Seahawks are playing," Billy offers up.

Artemis peels her dad's strong arms off of her. Her naturally tan skin a contrast to his light skin. "Tempting," she adjusts the shirt she's wearing, an old WSU t-shirt that had once belonged to her dad. "But I don't want to hang out with a bunch of boring old men on a Sunday."

"Who you callin' boring?" Winston looks offended. "I'll have you know we were way cooler than you when we were growing up."

"It's 2007, Daddy, not 1937, whatever was 'cool' back then is old news now."

Billy shares a look with his brother-in-law. "Did she just imply that we're well into our 70s?"

"See ya!" she shouts then runs towards Jake's bedroom that barely has room for his bed. She grabs a change of clothes from her bag that's sitting on top of his dresser. She can hear the familiar sound of Bella's obnoxious engine coming up the street.

Artemis makes her bathroom trip a quick one, her usual morning pee, brushed her teeth – skip the flossing, and change into a fresh outfit. She exits the bathroom pulling her hair up. In the hallway Jake's leading Bella towards his bedroom. She knots the hair tie into her updo.

"Keep the door open, Jake."

His cheeks flush. Hardly noticeable if you weren't looking for it. He flicks her off behind Bella's back. His dark eyes are glaring at her.

Bella chooses to ignore the comment. "Hi, Artemis. Are you coming with us today?" she asks.

She's not sure if Bella's hopeful the answer is yes or no. There is a possibility that Bella thinks of Jake as just a friend and wouldn't mind the extra company. But there is also the possibility that Bella wants it to just be the two of them and is checking to make sure Artemis won't tag along. Thankfully, she's already had an idea on what her plans were for the day and it didn't involve third wheeling her cousin. "Naw, I'm gonna go to my house and get started on the moving process."

"Did the trucks come in?" Jake asks.

She shakes her head no. "Not yet. Should be in by Tuesday mornin'. I'm just going over to figure out what needs to be worked on. Maybe get some paint."

"Artemis!" Winston shouts for his daughter. "Harry's here!"

"Coming!" She shouts back startling Bella. It might be a Keen thing. Like her father, Artemis is loud enough to be heard without raising her voice so when she does, it sounds like she's shouting right by your ear. "Sorry guys but I got to say hi to Harry. Be right back."

At the front door Harry is standing with a family sized umbrella. Billy's threatening to run his foot over. The norm.

Harry Clearwater had no blood relation to Artemis or her dad. He was Billy's friend, but he'd been the first one to advocate that her dad be allowed to live on the reservation. All the residents on the reservation came from the Quileute tribe or their neighbors. Every single person had some native blood running through them, her dad had none, but the Clearwaters had always treated the Keens like family.

"Well if it ain't Arty Farty!" Harry's voice brings a wave of nostalgia she'd missed.

She runs forward and wraps her arms around the large man. His hugs are warm and welcoming.

"How you doin', Harry?" she asks as they pull apart.

"Taking it day by day. It's not easy keeping up with Billy, you know?"

Out in the pouring rain Winston is helping Billy into the passenger seat of the car. Its mostly Winston holding the large black umbrella over the both of them while Billy hoists himself into the front. The car isn't lifted like the truck making it easier to get into with little to no help.

"How's Sue? The kids?"

"They're all good. Sue's been missing you as well. They'll come by later tonight for dinner."

"I'd love that. Has Seth also grown a magical ten feet?" Artemis giggles.

Harry looks over at Jake's bedroom door. Its closed halfway so from their angle they can't get a look inside. "He's grown since you've seen him last. He's in high school now – a big boy."

She laughs.

"Come on, Harry! We gotta get a move on it if we're gonna make it to Charlie's!" Winston shouts. He's standing out in the rain, umbrella still in hand. The wheelchair is packed nice and neatly into the back of the car.

Harry waves him off.

"I'll see you later tonight. Don't go looking for trouble," Harry says pulling her in for another hug.

"Pfft. Me? Look for trouble? Have you met me?" Artemis points at herself, eyes are wide as she attempts to portray a look of innocence.

Harry laughs, "I think your hospital records say otherwise."

She sticks her tongue out at him.

When the men are gone the pair reappear from Jake's bedroom. Bella is waving a checkbook. Jake is leading them out of the room. Both of them have large smiles on their faces. They stop when they notice Artemis is digging through the drawer of an end table.

"Bells and I are going to the junkyard," Jake says.

Artemis looks over her shoulder at the pair. "Kay."

"Do you need us to take you to your house?" Bella asks. "It's bad outside."

The trio look towards the windows where the rain is beating against it. Each raindrop makes the sound of pebbles hitting glass. A walk from Jake's house to Artemis' would take about half an hour.

"I'm all right. Thanks though!" she shots Bella a smile. She turns back to rummaging through the drawer. "Shit! Jake where are the keys to the truck!"

Jake's pulling on his sneakers. He looks up to see her press her thumb to her lips. Something inside the drawer has poked the skin and drawn blood. He points to a discarded jacket on the ground only a few inches away from her feet. "I didn't take it out of my jacket yesterday."

Artemis scoops the jacket from the floor. Sure enough, a set of car keys are stuffed into the right pocket. Along with a few crumbled receipts and a stick of gum.

"Could you hang it up for me?"

Jake grabs Bella's hand and pulls her outside. The jacket Artemis has just hurled in their direction doesn't meet its intended target. Instead the thing hangs off the handle of the door

She cleans up a little before leaving.

The drive was short, but she had driven with caution. The street where Artemis lived for five years was usually quiet. Her neighbors had been older, most of their kids in their adult years or have children of their own. That left the Camerons and the Keens as the only two with young children.

Her direct neighbors lived next door with no fence dividing the property. Growing up Tyler Cameron's only child Jared spent most of his time playing in the yard or exploring the dense woods surrounding the homes with Jesse, Artemis' older brother. The only time she was allowed to join them was when the boys were forced by their parents.

At the front door she realizes that she has left her key back at Billy's.

She looks over at the driveway next door where a truck is parked. Surely that meant that someone was home. Tyler and his wife Diana were given a spare key by Winston when they first moved in. 'In case of emergencies' Winston always told her. It hadn't been used for emergencies. There hadn't been an emergency where it had been needed.

She's able to make it to their front porch without getting soaked. It's a small miracle. Now she silently prays that someone was home. She knocks on the door twice. The knocks are soft. Truthfully, she doesn't expect any one to hear them, yet the door is pulled open a moment later.

Standing in front of her is a muscular shirtless man. He stands well over six feet, closer to seven. On his right shoulder is a tribal tattoo. Even with his large figure he still gives off the good boy charm.

"Artemis?" he breaths out. He can't believe she's standing in front of him. He, like others on the res, had heard the rumors. Artemis was shot while hunting. Artemis fell off a cliff and is paralyzed. Artemis fought a group of bikers and fucked her face up. Artemis died. He wasn't sure which one had been true other than that she had not died. That much Billy would willingly disclose to the pack.

"Jared," she greets with a smile. "I forgot my keys at Billy's. I was hoping you still had the spare."

He nods, his movement is slow. "Yeah, ummm… let me check?" He is talking just as slow. He takes a few steps away from her but only looks away when he has to turn in to another room.

The door is left open which means she gets a clear view into the living room. She doesn't think this is meant as an invite inside, she remains out on the porch.

Jared returns a moment later holding up a single key. It's attached to a red ribbon that is tied twice. "This should be it."

He hands her the key.

"Thanks Jared. I'll return it later."

"It's your key."

She nods. "Yeah, but it's the spare."

"When did you get back?" he asks.

"Friday night," she takes a few steps back.

The conversation feels awkward to her. She doesn't do awkward well and wants to bolt. Jared can see that, in an attempt to stop her, steps out onto the porch. One more step back from Artemis makes her trip over herself. He leaps forward and pulls her against him.

"Well, that's embarrassing," she mutters into his chest. Her face feels warm and she's sure he'll see the blush on her cheeks.

Jared steps back but keeps a hold on her. He wants to get a good look at her. His eyes rake over her scars, her facial features and down her body. He is not checking her out. And it's not him focusing on her scars. He is just in disbelief that she is standing in front of him.

"Listen, Jared," Artemis presses her hands against his bare chest. His skin is hot, like he is running a fever. "I think you're hot and all, but not my type anymore."

Her words seem to snap him out of whatever head space he was in earlier. He releases his hold on her and steps further away. His cheeks are now just as pink as hers are. Him being flustered isn't his typical behavior. He'd always seen her as Jesse's annoying little sister and had avoided her when he left for college. This felt weird to her.

"I'm not your type? Anymore?"

She smiles, "Thanks for the keys. See you around!"

He watches her sprint across their yards. Her yellow rain boots splashing mud everywhere. She is inside her house in seconds, not a single stumble in her movements. He stands at his door a little longer before going straight to his phone.

Inside the Keen house, Artemis stands in the living room. The walls are still a crème color, the floors are bare, and the only furniture is a lone couch pushed against a wall underneath a window. A throw blanket sits on the ground beside it in a bunched mess.

A walk through the house shows her that none of their old furniture other than the couch, and a few appliances were left. Upstairs the bedrooms were bare of furniture. Jesse's room has two posters of his dream car still hanging on the wall, a 2001 Ford Mustang GT, grey in color.

Her bedroom is a bright pink color she had chosen as a preteen. Now at seventeen she finds the color to be awful and can't wait to repaint it. The two windows in the room face the surrounding woods.

Both her parents had a love for nature. Her dad had grown up hunting, fishing, and camping in the backwoods of his hometown. Her mom spent her life helping injured and dying animals around the reservation. It was only natural that their daughter fell in love with the wilderness as well.

After some time writing down a list of supplies and paint colors on her shopping list, and a few sketches of outlines there is a knock at the front door. When she opens it, she is surprised to see who is standing at her doorstep.


Thanks for reading!


Author's Note:

If anyone is curious how my OCs would look if casted in the Twilight movies;

Artemis would be played by Devery Jacobs, Winston would be played by Pierce Brosnan, and Jesse would be played by Blair Redford.

You could picture them however you'd like.

Thank you!