Embry has had a secret for quite some time, and then he drops the bombshell--and suddenly Jacob's life is a lot more complicated.
La Push, WA
September 1, 2015
Jacob Black's workshop isn't much to look at, but it's his. He's loved spending all his time at the yacht lately, but sometimes one's hands just itch for their hobbies, and Jake is currently sitting, cross-legged, on the floor of his workshop with his dirt bike--not the lovingly maintained Harley, but the one he built with Bella--in pieces around him. Nothing was really wrong with it, he's just doing a bunch of maintenance and the like. A while earlier, he'd called up Embry and said he should come over. Seems like they never just hang out, anymore, but Jake decided that needed to change. Just because he was in love didn't mean he wanted to lose his best friend! So, he's tinkering in the workshop, waiting for Em's arrival.
Speaking of love, Embry isn't about to miss out on some bro-bonding time with his bestie (who has been difficult to get alone as of late). And so not too fast, not too slow, the teen arrives in an old white work-shirt and faded jeans, letting himself into the shop--but not before knocking on the door to announce his presence. "Hey, Jake!" His hands shove into said jeans as he pads over with the tap-tap of rubber-soled sneakers, and peers over the larger wolf with interest at all the parts. "Taking her apart?"
Jake glances up, grinning as he sees Embry. "Hey, man! C'mon in." He surveys the mess around him and laughs. "Yeah, well. She had some muck stuck real good and deep, so I decided to clean and overhaul everything. Not exciting, but... hey, we haven't hung out lately, so I figured we could at least be bored together." He pats the floor beside himself, covered in a folded-up old blanket for cushioning. "C'mon, join in. You can take the half I can't reach." He is, as usual lately, in visibly good spirits, which is a major change from a month or two ago.
Embry can't argue with enjoying the attitude change. Somber Jacob was depressing. This peppy-but-embarassingly-in-love version is much more pleasant to be around, even if he can't stop himself from the occasional wince. Jason's a good guy, he supposes, but, well. ... Whatever. If it makes Jake happy. So he sits. "Sure. I was busy being bored not doing something Sam asked me to, so this works!" His grin is fresh, white, and a rare thing--not often seen in the wild. "So just cleaning up the muck, huh? This isn't some, like, overdone metaphor for the past few months of your life is it?" Rib, rib.
Jake grimaces a bit and, with a candid glance in Embry's direction, he admits, "Maybe it kinda is? I was really being an idiot for a while. And... well, I feel like cleaning up some of my messes, maybe. And not make any new ones if I can help it." He leans over, shoulder-bumping Embry. "Like neglecting my best bro. I know I've been all scarce lately. I wanna make it up to you."
Embry playfully 'oofs' at the bump, but his grin doesn't fade. "Yeah you were kind of a capital 'I' Idiot," he agrees, holding up a begreased part to protect himself from retaliation. "Hey, I kind of got you needed time and all. I just, you know... didn't expect..." Jason. But that kind of goes without saying. No one did. So he shrugs. Water under the bridge. "But whatever. I'm just glad we can hang again like old times. Before Great Responsibility and all that. Hand me a rag."
Jacob laughs and snatches up a fairly clean rag, tossing it into Embry's lap. "Okay, well, I guess I deserved to be called 'idiot.' I'll deal. But I'm glad, too. I know I had my head up my butt, but... I really missed you man. I hope you know that." Then, feeling a little awkward, he picks up another part and goes to wipe it off clean before he puts it in the "wash more thoroughly" pan. "Old Times might be gone, but... I wanna make sure you know you're part of the New Times. Okay?"
Embry nabs the rag from his lap with a swirling flourish, spinning it around like he's done this before (he has), at which point cleaning and polishing begins. "It's cool brah, you can say you love me. I won't tell anyone." This said in his usual bro-voice, casual as can be. "Hey, I knew you weren't going anywhere permanently. I mean, see what happens when you go without your dose of Embry for too long? You get all... Depressed and Dour. It's embarassing, man. We can't let people see you like that!"
Jake laughs again, softer but still cheerful, and picks up another part, beginning to disassemble it. "You know I love you, Em," he says, with all the easy comfort of someone who knows exactly what his feelings are and has no fear about expressing them. He smirks a little, reflecting on the words, and says, "But, kidding aside... for real. You're never allowed to leave. I might never have kids, but I wanna see yours someday and tell them all the embarrassing stories about their dad."
Love. It affects Embry more than he expected, sending a little shock of satisfaction that begins at his tailbone and arcs right up his spine. It's the kind of feedback he gets every time he seems to make Jake happy, but this time... it was a little more potent. For once, Embry glances over to Jake and considers him, not as just a friend, but as a potential partner. It's not a lusty gaze by any means, (though, you know, Jake does have nice arms), but certainly lingers longer than one would expect of a friend-as-brother. At least, until, "Kids?" Embry shakes his head, as if suddenly hit with a bucket of ice water. "I'm sure there's like... weird mystical wuju ways you and Jason can have kids if you really want them. I mean, who says I even want kids? Maybe I'll stay single forever!" There's a nervousness to that statement that Embry does not hide as well as he'd like. Scrub, scrub, scrub.
Jacob picks up on Embry's change in manner, and he slowly twists around to face his friend. "Jason's probably never gonna want kids," he says quietly. He's lost too much already." Then he reaches out, slowly, to rest a hand on Embry's shoulder. "Em. C'mon, why do you keep acting like you'll never fall in love? You're, like, the most loving person I've ever known, except may be Seth, but that kid's so sweet he bleeds syrup. You'd make anyone seriously happy." He raises his eyebrows. "Plus, I mean... I realize this is a recent change for me, but... c'mon. You're also hot." He flashes a big, bright white grin. "You might even be prettier'n me."
Jacob smirks, not quite realizing yet how serious this is, and banters back, "Hey, I never said I wasn't hotter." But then he realizes that this isn't just playful, and he grows serious. He regards his friend for a long, pensive few moments. Then he lets his hand slide down, squeezing Embry's arm, and says, "Em. Embry. You can tell me anything. Don't you know that? C'mon, man. Quit looking so freaked out. It's me. I'm your best friend. Always will be."
With another slow, almost pained look from floor to Jacob, Embry slowly shakes his head. "I don't really think you want to know this one, Jake." But that cat's out of the bag now, and saying nothing would probably just make things infinitely worse. While the grip to his arm is comforting, Embry has a sudden, distinct desire to be far away from Jacob right that moment, as if the dissapointment and disdain might just crush him bodily. Still, he won't have be said he didn't admit this like a coward, and so his eyes never stray from his friend. "I think I imprinted on you, Jake. Awhile ago. I just... nothing needed to change, you know? I've always been here for you. So, I didn't see the need to upset anyone..." Now, he looks away, preparing to stand, as if it's clear Jacob will want some time alone after a bomb-dropping of that magnitude. "I'll go."
A few things happen in rapid succession. First, Jake's features freeze into a mask of quite obvious shock, and he feels a pang go through him. Yes, shock, then disbelief, but then trust. Then, determination. That's the next thing: Embry will feel Jake's hand tighten firmly on his arm, not about to let him go. It's a little while before Jacob tries to speak, but when he does his tone is steady, even. "How long ago, Em? How long have you been doing this to yourself?" He doesn't actually say that Embry isn't going anywhere, but it's in every angle of his body, every part of his presence. He might even seem a little bit angry, but it's almost wholly drowned out by obvious concern for his friend. There's not even a trace of fear.
Embry is already halfway up to standing when Jacob arrests his movement. He kind of hangs there for a moment, unsure if he should keep going out of sheer embarassment and personal disappointment, or just sit and deal. It's a sincerely difficult decision, but ultimately, the latter wins out, and he sits, rather heavily. "Ever since you phased for the first time," he says. It's not meek. Embry may be quiet, thoughtful, and reserved, but the teen's not meek. His voice is laced with feelings of failure, however, all coming out at once, as if this is a huge deviance and disappointment to the pack, nevermind Jacob's own situation. "But like I said, it's not like anything really changed." And that's not untrue. Not entirely. Maybe there was always the yearning for something more, but it seemed distant. Unlikely. Unncessary.
Jacob's eyes go wide, and his grip stays firm. "You've... you've been... feeling that... for months?" he sputters. "And listening to me pine for Bella, then moon over Jason?" He shakes his head. "Em, how could you... go through that? I barely held out not telling Jason for like a week." Some of the anxiousness he feels begins to really show, as he groans, "God. How do we explain this to him?" But then he's shaking his head, and then, then he's suddenly on his knees, reaching out to grab Embry and pull him close, into a crushing hug. "Dammit, Em," he says in a gravelly whisper, "You never have to be away from me, okay? If it's true... then I'll always be here for you, whenever I can, and you can always go where I am, if I'm allowed to let you. I can't... I can't promise you anything more than friendship, but... I will always be your best friend. I swear to you."
It's a difficult question to answer, 'how could you suffer in silence for that long,' when the truth of it is... complex. "It didn't seem right," Embry begins, pausing as he's pulled into that thick-armed hug and, really, for that moment, feeling... like he's right where he should be. It's, again, not a physical response, though a heady one all the same, but the gravity of that spiritual connection, whatever it is. Moments like this make it very hard to deny. His arms dangle at his side, almost unsure of what to do, but, tentatively, they slide around Jacob's torso, hugging him back. "I didn't... you had so many other things to worry about, Jake. What good would it have done to tell you? I didn't want you to be distracted with just..." 'With just me,' is how that would have ended, but Embry can already sense finishing that would probably get him a Look, so he rests his head against Jake's shoulder and sighs. "I already told Jason." And then quickly, "It was an accident. He just... guilted me into it. And honestly, Jake, he was okay with it. He actually encouraged me to talk to you about it, but I just wasn't ready." As it goes without saying he will always be there for Jacob, he just nods at Jacob for the rest. He wasn't expecting anything from Jake, much less a promise of that magnitude. "Thanks, Jake."
Jason Christopher is inside of K9's looking at blue prints which are spread out across the bar. There is a mug of some sort of a green tea steaming alongside of them which he occasionally takes a sip of. He is looking between the various designs, and occasionally making a note on a legal pad. This was supposed to be a pack objective. Something to draw them all closer. Funny how much things could change in just a couple of days. He cracked his neck and glanced over at the stage. This was not going to be any biker bar. It wasn't going to be a sports bar. Or a piano bar. Or a club. It would be something of a fusion of them all. It didn't matter what the others had planned. He made another note, and sipped at his tea.
The door opens to admit Jacob, who has Embry in tow... literally leading him by the hand. He pauses only for a moment, gets a determined look, and then strides on in. He pulls a chair out for Embry, glancing down at it with a look that half-instructs, half-requests him to sit down, and then he does the same. Leaning forward a bit, he gives a nod at the plans and says, "I like the new ideas." That's his only comment, knowing what these new plans are replacing, but then he quickly changes gears. "Jason... Embry told me. We need to figure out what to about this." The tension and concern are obvious in his voice, his posture... but just as evident is his absolute trust that Jason will know what to do.
Being lead by the hand is an intimate, awkward thing, and Embry isn't sure how he feels about it. But Jacob's the leader, insisting they tale Jason Really Right Now, and, well. There wasn't really any saying 'no' to that. "Hey," Embry says, lamely, not sure what else there is to say, until everything's been put out on the table. So he sits, and he leans back, and he crosses his arms, and he tries not to look like he's been put in time-out.
Jason Christopher glances at Jacob as he enters, as well at who he is dragging along. "Jacob. Embry." He has a educated guess what the interuption is about just based on who it is. But Jacob's words certainly dispell any partial doubt. Taking a long, deep breath he hops up on the bar and stares at them both for several moments. He takes another thoughtful sip of his tea and sets it aside. "I'm not particularly comfortable with the imprinting that occurs within this pack. You know that already Jacob. But I also don't know why Embry has imprinted on you. I didn't know it could happen. Anymore than I knew that a female of your tribe could phase. Or a member could imprint on a member of the same sex. This is, if anything even more of a mystery to you than it is to me." He quiets for a moment and ponders. "The way I see it we accept that it is and move forward. Or we investigate the legends to see what truth there is and find if there is a way to displace or remove an imprint." It seems rather matter of fact to him.
Jacob looks almost stricken at the idea of removing an imprint, though he doesn't reject the idea out of hand. He does give Embry a questioning look, as if to know whether he would want that. Then, turning back to Jason, he asks, "So... what would it mean if we... accept it and move forward? Jason, I... I told Embry that he's my brother, now. At least. He's got to be part of my family... whatever it is. Wherever it is." Jason's demeanor is hard to read, that matter-of-fact manner almost hurtful to see, but it's clearly what Jason needs right now, so Jacob doesn't protest. He just starts getting used to it. "Maybe we can't understand the imprint," he says quietly, "but we understand what it does. And my best friend just told me he imprinted on me. Jason... you're smarter than me. Wiser. How do we do this? I can't keep hurting him." The guilt he feels is obvious. Embry stuck with him all through everything, even the Bella situation. And Jacob hardly noticed.
Embry shifts, a mite uncomfortably. He spreads his legs wide, resting his elbows thereon, and then sinking his chin into his hands as he listens to the back-and-forth. It demands a certain amount of soul-searching, these big questions. Does he want to keep the imprint? Would he even want to remove it. There comes a point, however, where he can't stay silent any longer, and he just blurts out, interrupting if he must, "I'm always going to stand by you even without an imprint, Jake. Maybe it knows that. I dunno. I've always just wanted to see you happy. So. What would make you happy?"
Jason Christopher sighs some and is ill prepared for drama and heart wrenching moments right now. He slips off the bar and rests a hand on both of their shoulders. "We don't know anything about this really. Why it happens. If it is reversible. What it means. I know it is unique to your kind. In all of my years of travel I've not ever seen it's like among any other wolves or packs." He swallows and considers again. "The evidence we have so far suggests that an imprint is permanent-" He stops speaking as Embry bursts in with that thought. But thats really the heart of it there. "Thats the problem here. What will make Jacob happy...is what I wish..." The words burn like bile in his mouth. He still hates it. But the prince of werewolves is forced to wonder. If he could remove Jacob's imprint...and potentially lose him....would he? Could he....
Jacob grimaces at Embry's declaration and Jason's observation, both. He gives a slow nod, admitting the truth of it, and says quietly, "Right now... what would make me happy is anything that would make... make all of us happy. So if you're happy--" he looks to Jason, and then to Embry, "--and you're happy, then I'm gonna be happy. I don't... I don't like this 'remove imprints' stuff. It's not natural. It's not how we're supposed to be. And I don't want some magic mojo trying to take away my ability to experience true love." His shoulders slump, then. "But I also don't want to keep Embry from ever... having that. Jase, I just dunno what to do. But... I have to trust in you. It's, like... all I've got, here." He looks up at the older werewolf, that same trust shining openly in his eyes.
Everyone wants everyone to be happy. What a mess! Embry mops his forehead with a hand, trying to make sense of it again. "I'm whatever you need me to be, Jake. If being your best friend is all that means, then that's all it means." He doesn't say it like it'd be a quiet sort of suffering, but with a conviction that may be coming from the mystical strength of that imprint, or maybe he just doesn't like seing Jacob stressed out so much. So he turns instead to Jason and shrugs. "Short of us all being 'together' I don't really see how 'true love' is going to work out like Jake keeps talking about. But I mean, I don't need that. I'm happy just... being where I need to be." And there's that happiness again. Sometimes Embry can't help but wonder if it's his mouth these words are really coming out of.
Jason Christopher wraps his arms around Jacob and holds him there for a moment, just holding him quietly. Then glancing at Embry he reaches out for him. Intent on drawing him in as well. "Jacob....Sweet Jacob. I know you believe otherwise. But even after all my years I do not have all the answers. But, to be honest I am glad of that. It means there are still things in this world we will discover. All of us. Together." He isn't sure how this works, if there is a way out of it or not. Or if any of them would want to take it if there was. So for now, they would just have to accept and try and all remain good to one another.
Jacob reaches up to hold on to Jason's arm, hugging back as best he can from his seat, and reaches with his other hand to squeeze one of Embry's. The details are confusing, and the future is anything but clear, but Jason said all of us and together. Embry's mention of everyone being together in a perhaps different sense isn't lost on Jacob, but he's not sure what to do with it yet. It certainly rolls around in his brain. But for the moment, he just says, "Yeah. Together." He looks firmly at Embry. "Because now you're part of the family." Oh, it's true that he and Jason have had no ceremony or formal commitment made, but... Jacob imprinted. From that moment, Jason became his family. And he clearly now considers Embry part of it, too.
Embry at first isn't sure what to make of Jason's inclusion of him--part of him admittedly was comfortable with the friend-in-the-shadows schtick he had going as of a few days ago. But the warmth of the embrace, especially once Jacob involves himself too, is probably the most included he's ever felt in anything, and that acceptance is hard to deny. One of the teen's rare smiles parts his lips, and he gives both of the other men a big, broad-armed squeeze-hug, deciding to step into the future as well, and see where it takes them. "Okay, together," he agrees, also unsure of precisely what this makes all of them, but... who cares? They'll work it out. "Thanks guys. For being so cool about this. I'm... I'm really honored," he says, even blushing a little as he looks away, sheepish and perhaps feeling a bit undeserving.
Jason Christopher thinks back to his original family, and the brother he has long thought killed them. The spike of pain is like an icicle in his heart, but he betrays none of it outside. His heart beat never even fluctuates. But the Beast, laps up the pain like mother's milk. Family. Was he ready for THAT again? He really just wasn't sure. Not so soon after learning all that he had. Learned from Ethan, who was now gone too. Not after everything he had lost nearly a century before. After a moment he steps back away from them both and swallows hard. Disguising it with another sip of tea. And inside him a monster that was spending more and more time awake lately, exhaulted at his pain and misery. "Yes, together....somehow all of us will find a way to see this work."
Jacob stands to complete the embrace between the three of them, though he leans back against the table, trying to affect a more casual air, once Jason steps away. He even manages a bright, sincere smile. "So everything's okay. It's gonna be fine." And he is visibly relieved. Yet, something... something about Jason nags him. Part of it's just knowledge, knowing what happened to Jason's family, but there's something more, and he can't tell what. But, Jason seems so outwardly fine, he just can't dwell on it. So he smiles, taking refuge in his sense of relief, and trusts that when Bad Things Happen... they'll face them together.