Break of Dawn



So. You guys are beautiful. I mean, you guys are really beautiful. Seriously, I still can't really believe that there are actual people on this green earth who read this train wreck, and who stick with it and who leave kind reviews and don't flame even when they COULD. You guys just blow me away. Andddd you're figuring by now that there's a reason I'm saying all this shit, isn't there. Well...yes. But just bear with me, it's not as bad as you might think. It's just that I might be off the map for the rest of the year, at least where this site is concerned. I'm putting out a book this year, and hoping it'll hit the shelf late this month, but the thing is, I do have to step up to the plate and handle a lot of stuff, so I'll be juggling all of that AND several other projects that are important to me, and not to mention the novels I've been working on. It's just that my fanfiction is going to fall by the wayside for a bit - and I promise, I WILL be back sometime, and I will finish all my stories and I'll reply to PMs and everything just the same, it's just that I need to focus on my original work for now. But I WILL be back, and I WILL finish this story. I have to, really; there's too much angst in store for me to walk away now.

Okay. Now that I've finished up with that - GUYS IT'S SEPTEMBER CAN YOU FEEL IT, IT IS FALL AND SOON IT WILL BE WINTER MY SEASON IS COMING MY SEASON IS COMINGGGGGG I AM SO READY :DDDDDD I'm just sitting here getting childishly excited staring out the window because it's raining and the sky is gray and it's a cold rain and it's fallllll. And I'm listening to Maps by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs while I type this. Highly recommend this song.

Pain was really nothing new.

As a matter of fact, over the course of his sixteen years Jack had come to accept pain – whether it was mild or intense, merely annoying or positively unbearable – as something that was simply unavoidable; it was a fact of life, it was natural, it was as certain and unshakable as the color of the sky or the changing of the seasons; pain just happened. Previously, it had happened most often when the man with the velvety voice was angry, but it could happen, too, when he was perfectly and impeccably calm; it happened sometimes when the man discovered another empty bed or another wide-eyed little one hovering uncertainly by the door, too frightened to even twist the knob; but it could happen even when nobody had been any trouble at all; it happened on those rare and unsettling occasions when the man was drunk, but it also happened when he was sober; of course by this time there was no man with a velvety voice any longer – Jack had been younger then, and to think this always came as a sort of surprise to him. It seemed to him that he had never really been a child, that he hadn't precisely entered the world at all – simply sprung into being exactly as he was, pale and thin and perfectly grown, the fractured and distorted image of what a man ought to be.

Either way, it followed that pain was simply something he had come to expect; and as such, he saw very little reason to cause a fuss whenever it befell him – thus, when the greasy black handle of the long silver knife with which North had entrusted him slipped a bit, and the razor edge of the gleaming blade happened to fall upon his hand, the sensation that followed was unpleasant but largely unsurprising; as such, Jack did nothing beyond murmuring a particularly vulgar profanity under his breath, and pausing in his task to allow the stinging a moment to pass. A bit of blood, shocking in how red and bright it was, welled up instantly; but Jack was not easily unnerved, and so merely wiped the drops away with his fraying jacket sleeve, and indeed, had every intention of forgetting the incident entirely. He had resumed, and nearly finished, the slicing of the onion when a sudden exclamation from the other end of the kitchen drew his attention from his current occupation. "Jack, your hand…!"

"Huh?" He glanced briefly away from the cutting board, and the onion upon it, which he had, since Aster had left him to it, reduced to small, yellow-white bits.

"Your hand…" Tooth repeated; she deserted her post by the bubbling gray pot on the stove to approach the boy, and there was concern in her voice, a great deal more, Jack thought, than this really merited.

Admittedly, however, when he followed her gaze and saw the fair bit of blood that had trickled down from the jagged crimson slit without his notice, even he had to confess that he rather understood her disquiet. Nonetheless, it did not, in his opinion, truly warrant the anxiety in her brown eyes; and so he handled the problem as he felt appropriate, and cleared the dark red off the pale skin with his sleeve once more. "Sorry about that, I just sort of lost grip of the knife earlier and…"

"Oh, you shouldn't wipe it on your clothes!" Tooth interrupted, for all the world as if he had done something unforgivably indecent. (The remaining three, who had not, up until now, noticed anything amiss, turned around at this point to find out what was going on.)

"You should put a Band-Aid on that, at least – I think North moved them to the third drawer, but I can never be sure—

"I told you million of times," North huffed, seemingly rather stung, "it is in second drawer. I never move it—

"Here, I'll take care of it," Aster pushed suddenly off the counter, taking Jack gently by the wrist. "The kid doesn't even know the way anyway."

"The kid is right here, and the kid is sixteen, so hardly even qualifies—

"You were scared of the clown door in the walkthrough, Frostbite," Aster said, as if he needed reminding.

Jack felt his face flush. "I—I wasn't—!"

Aster just looked at him.

"…Well. A lot of people don't like clowns."

"Da. Too much makeup," North nodded solemnly. "And cackling."

"Thank you!"

The remainder of the night proved enjoyable; yet, had anyone asked, Jack rather felt he would be hard-pressed to explain why. He supposed, if he had to, he could argue that the food had been good – and this was the truth, for the gravy-covered concoction North loaded on their plates was far and away the best thing he believed he'd ever tasted – yet he didn't believe this was quite it; and he supposed, if he must, he could mention North's airplane – and to be fair, the bulky heap of scrap metal the man had somehow turned into a violently red, remote-controlled model craft was rather remarkable – but it had so distracted them that everyone present briefly forgot the dinner entirely, and very nearly burned it; and they might have, had one of the pots not given a sudden, ferocious bubbling noise, and Tooth not rushed off to check on it before any harm could befall it. (Nonetheless, the ten minutes previously had been highly entertaining, as North had sent the plane chasing Aster all round the kitchen.)

Jack concluded, after a moment of thought, that there had been no particulars, no specifics, that he could call upon to answer the question; the evening itself, in its pure and unabridged entirety, was what he had enjoyed – yet when he tried to recall it again in his mind, it was nothing more than bits and pieces, fragments and shards that couldn't even begin to tell the full story. By the following morning, all he could remember for certain was smiling – smiling a lot, smiling more than he believed he ever had in his life, smiling so hard his face hurt by the time they drove away. Throughout the meal, he'd smiled as the others cracked jokes or told stories, and afterward, he'd smiled when North playfully snatched the butter knife before he could ("I try not to let guests walk away with more than one bandage per night"); and he smiled – though he tried very hard not to – when Aster reached out and ruffled his hair so it stood up on end; and when they at last made it back out to the parking lot and climbed into the car, he turned his face to the window and smiled out at the stars the whole ride home.