I focusedall my energy to control that reaction. I would not fall into a pointless, destructive fight with Sam. He was my brother still, even though I was rejecting him.

There is only one Alpha for this pack. I'm not contesting that I'm just choosing to go my own way.

Do you belong to acoven now, Jacob?

I flinched.

don't know, Sam. But I do know this -

He shrunk back as he felt the weight of the Alpha in my tone. It affected him more than his touched me. Because I had been born to lead him.

will stand between you and the Cullens. I won't just watch while the pack kills innocent - it was hard to apply that word to vampires, but it was true - people. The pack is better than that. Lead them in the right direction, Sam.

I turned my back on him, and a chorus of howls tore into the air around me.

Digging my nails into the earth, I raced away from the uproar I'd caused. I didn't have much time. At least Leah was the only one with a prayer of outrunning me, and I had a head start.

The howling faded with the distance, and I took comfort as the sound continued to rip apart the quiet night. They weren't after me yet.

I had to warn the Cullens before the pack could get it together and stop me. If the Cullens were prepared,it might give Sam a reason to rethink this before it was too late. I sprinted toward the white house Istill hated, leaving my home behindme. Home didn't belong to me anymore. I'd turned my back on it.

Today had begun like any other day. Made it home from patrol with the rainy sunrise, breakfast with Billy and Rachel, bad TV, bickering withPaul... How did it change so completely, turn all surreal? How did everything get messed up and twisted so that I was here now, all alone, an unwilling Alpha, cut off from my brothers, choosing vampires over them?

The sound I'd been fearing interrupted my dazed thoughts - it was the soft impact of big paws against the ground, chasing after me. I threw myself forward, rocketing through the black forest. I just had to get close enough so that Edward could hear the warning in my head. Leah wouldn't be able to stop me alone.

And then I caught the mood of the thoughts behind me. Not anger, but enthusiasm. Not chasing... but following.

My stride broke. I staggered two steps before it evened out again.

Wait up. My legs aren't as long as yours.

SETH! What do you think you're DOING? GO HOME!

He didn't answer, but I could feel his excitement as he kept right on after me. I could see through his eyes as he

could see through mine. The night scene was bleak for me - fullof despair. For him, it was hopeful.

I hadn't realized I was slowing down, but suddenly he was on my flank, running in position beside me.

am not joking, Seth! This is no place for you. Get out of here.

The gangly tan wolf snorted. I've got your back, Jacob. I think you're right. And I'm not going to stand behind Sam when -

Oh yes you are the hell going to stand behind Sam! Get your furry butt back to La Push and do what Sam tells you to do.

No.

Go, Seth!

Is that anorder. Jacob?

His question brought me up short. I skidded to a halt, my nails gouging furrows in the mud.

I'm not ordering anyone to do anything. I'm just telling you what you already know.

He plopped down on his haunches beside me. tell you what I know - I know that it's awful quiet. Haven't you noticed?

I blinked. My tail swished nervously as I realized what he was thinking underneath the words. It wasn't quiet in one sense. Howls still filled the air, far away in the west.

They haven't phased back,Seth said.

I knew that. The pack would be on red alert now. They would be using the mind link to see all sides clearly. But I couldn't hear what they were thinking. I could only hear Seth. No one else.

Looks to me like separate packs aren't linked. Huh. Guess there was no reason for our fathers to know that before. 'Cause there was no reason for separate packs before. Never enough wolves for two. Wow. It'sreally quiet. Sort of eerie. But also kinda nice, don't you think? I bet it was easier, like this, for Ephraim and Quil and Levi. Not such a babble with just three. Or just two.

Shut up, Seth.

Yes, sir.

Stop that! There are not two packs. There is THE pack, and then there is me. That's all. So you can go home now.

If there aren't two packs, then why can we hear each other and not the rest? I think that when you turned your back on Sam, that was a pretty significant move. A change. And when I followed you away, I think that was significant, too.

You've got a point,I conceded. But what can change can change right back.

He got up and started trotting toward the east. No time to argue about it now. We should be moving right along before Sam...

He was right about that part. There was no time for this argument. Ifell into a run again, not pushing myself quite as hard. Seth stayed on my heels, holding the Second's traditional place on my right flank.

can run somewhere else, he thought, his nose dipping a little. didn't follow you because I was after a promotion.

Run wherever you want. Makes no difference to me.

There was no sound of pursuit, but we both stepped it up a little at the same time. I was worried now. If I couldn't tap into the pack's mind, it was going to make this more difficult. I'd have no more advance warning of attack than the Cullens.

We'll run patrols,Seth suggested.

And what do we do if the pack challenges us?My eyes tightened. Attack our brothers? Your sister?

No - we sound the alarm and fall back.

Good answer. But then what? I don't think...

I know,he agreed. Less confident now. don't think I can fight them, either. But they won't be any happier with the idea of attacking us than we are with attacking them. That might be enough to stop them right there. Pius, there're only eight of them now.

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