Finding Truth Behind Legends
A/N: Going to back track here a bit, to give you an insight into Taka Aki’s mind. Many of you have been eagerly awaiting this pov, so I want you to know I took my time making this what I truly envisioned for him.
The news came to me directly from the Blackfoot alpha the very hour the papers arrived. Hurit’s namesake, one Isabella Marie Swan, was set to move back into the old homestead. My dear friend Hurit was a gift straight from the combined ancestors of every tribe. Truly a kind-hearted and brilliant woman, to be sure.
I frown as I think back to Zander giving me the news a couple of weeks ago, as well as my poor reaction.
I, admittedly, was not pleased by the news. Every coyote, both in their spirit or human form, could hear my loud string of growls and snarls, while the mind link we shared was bombarded with my anger at someone trampling through the only place left standing that was a testament to Hurit’s love for the tribe. This girl, this Bella, was undoubtedly already planning on how to change and get rid of everything in the house that screamed of Hurit’s creativity.
I shake my head as I settle into the buck I caught for my meal, remembering how Zander had shown me his conversation with one of my own descendants a few days later.
The Rusty wolf had run to catch up with Zander on patrol, then chuckled when the coyote alpha offered for them to phase and chat at the house. Jacob Black, beta of the Quileute wolf pack thought easily with a mental shrug, “It’s freeing to be able to stretch my legs after the drive out here. I’m good with being your patrol partner for now, if you don’t mind the company. Besides, some of what I need to tell you just won’t come through well in words. It’d be better if you see it.”
I felt Zander’s acceptance as he slowed his pace slightly, then flashes of images filled the mind link of this Isabella Swan as Jacob explained, “She’s smart as a whip, but too loving for her own good. She fell under a cold one’s spell. When he left her, she was already in too deep. He told her she was just a toy… a distraction for him from his endless existence. She almost died, man. Her dad was literally a thread away from having her admitted to the hospital, because she had lost so much weight and wasn’t coherent.”
A bunch of images filled the mind link of Bella in an almost zombie-like state, then a flash of her looking much better while referring to that time as her ‘dark period’. Several scenes of her laughing and looking quite healthy filled his mind as Jacob continued, “She’s better now, but they initially tried to work it out after she ran to Italy to save him. She told me after she finally broke it off with him, that there were just some things that could never heal after they were broken. Their relationship was one of those things, and her trust in them was another. Unfortunately, though she hasn’t outright said it, she believes her heart is another thing that won’t be healed. She’s resigned herself to the thought that she’ll never find where her heart truly belongs, man… resigned herself to never feeling true love.”
After a second, he continued, but at a slower pace. Zander automatically slowed his stride to match. “The biggest problem is this… the head vamps in Italy were the ones she had to save him from, and her life was the cost. She was supposed to turn into one of them or die, Zander, and the head vamps stated that they would send someone for proof. We’ve been protecting her as much as possible, but we don’t have your numbers or link to our histories like you do. That’s why Sam has been telling her stories of other tribes… in hopes that she would want to go to one, since she’d been hinting about needing out of Forks. We didn’t know she was actually Blackfoot until Bella told us about the house right after graduation.”
Jacob shook his head, then stressed through the mind link as he pictured several faces of cold ones, “They’re bad news, man. The last one almost crossed our treaty line several times to get to her after she broke it off with him.”
He thought of a messy, copper-headed male wearing an arrogant smirk on his face, then said sadly, “I wouldn’t put it past him to try the same here, if he finds out where she is. We’re asking you guys to keep a fresh scent around her house at all times, and call us if you want back up. We’ll be here asap. Just please… if not for us, get to know her and do it for her. She’s family to us, and tribe to you… but she’s got a beautiful soul, and is so caring it’s ridiculous. I don’t know how we’d cope if something happened to her, but like I said, we don’t have the wolf power.”
Zander nodded to the rusty wolf, then promised solemnly in the alpha double timbre, “You have my word, Jacob Black. We will protect our kin and your honorary family member, Isabella Swan. If she is as caring and fun as your memories tell, she will be welcomed by the pack with open arms.”
Standing from the remains of my meal, I drag it to the nearby brush as the memories fade. I stretch, my belly pleasantly full, then decide to clean up in the creek. Bella is usually inside cleaning or exploring the house at this time in the early evening, so she won’t notice me.
I play in the creek near the eastern edge of the small island for nearly 30 minutes before my ears perk up. I sense someone near, but not knowing who it is, I decide to err on the side of caution. I swim to the edge of the creek furthest away from the heartbeat, then shake the water from my fur.
That’s when I hear a beautiful but sassy voice say, “On the newbie mission, huh? Jake’s marking scent hasn’t even dissipated, yet he sends a newbie wolf to check up and make sure I’m okay? Well, you can go back to Washington and tell him I’m fine. As you can no doubt scent, Zander and rest of the coyote pack are overprotective, just like Jake. I’m well protected from vampires here.”
I chuckle internally at her statement, now knowing this must be Bella, then finish shaking out my fur before turning to face her. She’s hidden in the trees near the opposite side of the creek, so I can’t see her face properly. She gasps as her eyes widen, so I tilt my head to the side in question.
She has ridden on Jacob’s back multiple times. Why is my wolf form so unexpected?
It’s my turn to internally gasp as she slowly comes out into the open, allowing me to see her face fully. Stunning green eyes capture my whole attention, causing my entire world to be yanked out of alignment, then slammed back in, with her as the center of focus.
My heart hammers in my chest as realization hits me. It’s finally happened! My soulmate has finally shown herself to me! Praise the ancestors!
I’m brought back to the present when Bella says shakily, “I’m sorry… I thought my best friend Jake sent you. He’s a wolf, like you… from your line, if I’m correct.”
My head tilts to the other side now as I study her. Is she scared of me? No… I sense only nervousness and curiosity.
I take a deep breath and let that thought settle, then make my way slowly back into the water, to cross over and see her closer. When I reach the rock and sand edge of the island she stands on, I sense a bit of shyness as she gives me a smile, so I resolve not to try transforming back until after this conversation. It’s just as well, since I have no clothing to put on once I’m human again. She might be feeling shy thinking that I’ll shift in front of her.
My little mate is an enigma I will love spending my eternity solving.
I pad over to a spot well away from her current position, then shake the water from my fur. Once done, I notice she’s positioned herself to sit on the large boulder. I sit next to her, then she says, “Thank you for not leaving… and again, I’m sorry for assuming you were a pup. You know, spending so much time on the reservation, I heard legends of a great white wolf. My dad is best friends with one of the elders, and his son -who is the beta of the current pack- is my best friend. I guess it kind of comes with the territory. The Quileute reservation is our second home.”
I chuckle internally at her ever thinking I was a pup, then hum at the confirmation of her knowing the legends… at least what my tribe still holds close to them, which isn’t much. I give her a slow nod to let her know I’m still listening.
Bella seems to realise something, judging by her facial features, then offers, “Crap, where are my manners? My name is Bella… Bella Swan. This was my Great Gran Hurit’s place, and is now mine. You’re welcome to the creek anytime you want, by the way. I won’t tell anyone you were here.”
I barely manage to hold in a chuckle at the cuteness of her outburst, but smile as much as possible in this form at her mentioning the creek and not telling anyone I was here. It is not the time for my descendants to know I’m alive.
My little coyote chuckles in response, “Yeah, I love the creek, too. That’s why I come out here. Tonight’s the first time I’ve been here around sunset though, since I’ve been busy settling into the house. It’s beautiful… so peaceful. Will you stay and watch the sunset with me?”
I smile even more, letting her know I like this idea very much, then look out at the trees. I hear one of Zander’s pups, Shiloh, whisper through the mind link as he nears the border not too far from Bella’s home, “Congratulations, Sir. I’ll keep watch around here and have the others cover the rest of my area, to allow you time to concentrate on your imprint.”
I send him a mental thank you, then slyly look at Bella. She seems deep in thought, so I nudge her hand with my nose. She smiles at me in apology, “Sorry. You’ll come to find that I tend to get lost in my head easily, especially when there’s a puzzle to solve. I’m very curious by nature, something I’m beginning to realise is not all my own fault. Gran Hurit was very curious, too. Did you know her? Were you around this area when she was alive?”
Ah, so that’s what had her deep in thought.
I can’t help but chuckle at me being a puzzle, especially when she’s the enigma of this equation. At my nod of agreement, she continues, not seeming ruffled at all that she’s essentially talking to herself, “I want to know so many things, but by you still being in your wolf form, I guess you aren’t quite sure about me yet. That’s okay. I get that I’m strange, I do. I’ve been told that all my life by practically everyone around me, and never really fit in anywhere before.”
My resolve not to phase now wavers, but I remember my lack of clothing to put on. Firming my resolve, I suddenly want to hurt everyone in my little mate’s life that has ever made her feel unwanted. Instead, I nudge her gently in a comfort gesture. She changes the subject, then, asking, “If I’m right, with what I say next, will you be honest with me?”
I catch her gaze in response, hoping the truth shows in my eyes as I give her a nod of agreement. She doesn’t beat around the bush with her next question, instead asking me plainly, “You’re him, aren’t you? You’re the great white wolf of their legends… you’re Taha Aki.”
Still looking into her eyes, I take a breath and give her a slow nod. She relaxes slightly as she offers, “So that means that your third wife wasn’t your imprint. You’ve been searching all these years for your mate. When she died -God, that must have been horrible- you couldn’t take it, could you? So you left… came here? The coyote pack offered you a sanctuary to heal and find your true mate, so you took it?”
My head tilts as I think, ‘No, yes, no, there’s way more to it than that, and they saved me from myself.’
I can’t very well explain until I have a voice she will understand, so I settle on giving her another nod. Her brow furrows a bit before she says, “I know that there must be more to how everything happened, which wouldn’t be relayed properly through simple nods or head shakes. Since I’m still a stranger and haven’t learned your wolf’s body language, thank you for telling me that much.”
I let out a breath that she understands at least that much, nodding my agreement, then look to the sky. Sundown is never the same, but oddly it holds no fascination tonight when my mate is so much more interesting. I turn my head to look at her again, only to see the last of the sun’s light dancing off her skin. At her awed whisper of, “Wow… so beautiful,” I can only nod in agreement. My mate is extraordinarily beautiful at sunset.
A sudden distress howl from Shiloh fills the air as he flashes a picture through the mind link of a dark male cold one with braids in his hair, his eyes a deep threatening red. He’s wearing a black cloak and a heavy necklace with a V and crest as the pendant.
Fear seizes my heart in my chest as I remember a drawing that Jacob showed Zander of that symbol. I quickly look back to my mate, then nudge her as I drop down to my belly, all while thinking to the pack, who were phased in and rushing to Shiloh’s location, ‘He’s here for Bella! Station two out of sight at her house; I’m bringing her now!'
She climbs onto my back, then I follow her trail back across the picnic island. Seeing a journal with Hurit’s scent, I carefully pick it up between my teeth. There’s no time to waste in packing the rest up. I dash toward the house at full speed, trying to keep focused on both my surroundings and the fight happening not too far from our location.
I skid to a stop near her bedroom door, but she hops down before I can lower myself. Once in front of me, she says seriously, “Thank you. Go… help them. I’ll stay inside. Please, no matter what time it is when this is over, have someone let me know everyone is safe.”
I lick her hand once in response, but physically have to rip myself away from her to go help the pack. Shiloh already has a broken leg, plus I think Zander has a fractured cheekbone. With a pained look at my mate, I determinedly run toward the fight, knowing she won’t be safe until the cold one is dead.
I can hear the coyotes giving chase, hoping to lead the cold one into a trap. I catch up to them quickly. Unfortunately, it takes over two hours of playing cat and mouse before we manage to trap this slimy bastard into one area well away from Bella’s house. There are no trees for him to use as an advantage, so it’s finally kill or be killed.
The coyotes are each biting or swiping their paws when they have a good shot, but Greg is the first to actually remove a body part. It boosts the collective spirit of the pack, but when I start to see the younger pups tiring, only one thought fills my mind in a loud growl. ‘This vampire will die by my claws. I will not lose my mate to this blood sucker.’
Red fills my vision, and all thought ceases after that. I remember ripping off a foot, as well as a complete hand, but when I move to rip off the one missing two fingers, my aim is off slightly. I feel a sharp pain in my chest, but his surprise allows me to gain the advantage; his arm and hand are my prize. With a loud snarl, I dive back in, taking pleasure in slowly ripping the rest of him to pieces.
It’s only after the pieces are being gathered by the pack that I realise what the pain in my chest is, and why the pack has been screaming through the mind link. I wobble slightly as I look down to see my fur covered in red, barely managing to call Zander’s name before my legs give way beneath me.
Something’s wrong; this isn’t a typical battle wound. I think of Bella, of how much blood I’ve lost. I know I’ve lost too much; I may only have hours left. My heart cries to see my mate one last time.
Maybe one of Hurit’s concoctions will give me a bit more time with her.
Zander’s face fills my cloudy vision. I can barely manage to refuse both the healer and doctor before demanding in my own alpha timbre, “You will not move me one inch, unless it is to take me to Bella. Only my Bella.”