Summary: Paul/Suze. His presence pushes me out of focus, out of reality, clouding my mind with visions of lips, hands, limbs entangled, and I am addicted.
Disclaimer: I'm just defiling the original version with my own deviations like any good fanfic writer. If it were mine, I assure the lovely and talented Mrs. Cabot that the fandom would be significantly smaller. Don't sue!
Author's note: I fell out of love with Jesse and Suze as a couple the moment Paul Slater arrived on the scene. Don't blame me for his charisma! If you hate Paul and adore the Jess-meister, you might want to sit this one out. Everybody else – okay, okay, I'll admit. Contrivance Jones co-wrote the first half of this prologue. I know, I know! Bad authoress! Plot contrivances are to be heartily avoided! I swear Mr. Jones won't be re-appearing after this if I can help it. Although… I wouldn't hold your breath if I were you – I'm a liar. To make up for it, I vow to keep characters as In Character as I possibly can so help me God. Thanks for reading!
Jesse didn't come back the second time he died.
I thought he would, I really did, if for no other reason than the universe just would not be so cruel as to remove him from my life permanently after all we'd been through. How could it be, that after having him alive with me, in the flesh for a mere six months, he'd be killed just like that? It wasn't fair; not after everything I had done to bring him back to life, to be with him.
It didn't occur to me until after the shock had worn off that Jesse had been living on borrowed time. Granted, his life was unfairly stolen before he even had a chance to really live it initially, it still didn't justify his existence in my time. The fact was that I had grossly tampered with the laws of nature to bring him to me in his physical form. The love of my life, alive in a future he should never have witnessed while he drew breath was a happy side effect, but it didn't change the fact that I had altered the course of history.
Maybe six months with Jesse this way was more than we should have had, maybe it wasn't meant to be. Which, while painfully, devastatingly, disappointing, didn't change the fact that we'd still be together forever. Or so I thought.
And really, why wouldn't I? I had, after all, first met Jesse when he was a 150 year old ghost living in my bedroom. I had fallen madly in love with him before he had a body everybody else could see. I'd known I wanted to be with him while he still shimmered with that unnatural light which revealed him to be dead. Because really, that was the only thing that set him apart from any of the alive people I knew. I could still talk to him, touch him, and look into his eyes before he ever existed in this realm. Ghosts are every bit as real to me as any living person.
So when he died for the second time, I expected him to show up in his spectral form before too long. We'd mourn the loss of all that could have been, but he'd still be here. Sure it would be hard, and abnormal, and complicated, but we'd work it out. All that mattered was that we had each other in some form or another.
But he didn't come back.
Jesse, it seemed, did not have anything tying him to this world the second time around. A fact I struggled with for days before I finally remembered why. And looking back, I really should have paid more attention when he said it.
You would think that a person who has spent her entire life seeing a whole world most people don't even glimpse until they're dead would be just a tad more perceptive than the norm. But, surprisingly enough, my specialty seems to be missing all the pertinent clues until it's too late. Hindsight's 20/20 and all that.
Although in my defense, when the crucial utterance was made, it really didn't come across as an ominous warning to a love-struck mediator/shifter such as myself. It was more like a loving sentiment from my boyfriend, a throwaway line that didn't carry any more weight than all the other declarations of his ardor.
Besides that, I was at the time operating under the naïve assumption that the two of us had all the time in the world. Warning bells that would have otherwise sounded were trumped by the sweet dulcet tones of my love's soothing voice. I was a fool.
Because when your boyfriend tells you that thanks to your love and everything you've given him, he knows he'll die a happy man this time around? He means business.
When he compliments your mediating to the point where he "jokingly" claims you don't even need his help anymore? Don't, for the love of whatever High Power you subscribe to, tease him back with a flippant agreement!
There are so many things I know now I should have done differently, and I would have changed it too. Don't think I didn't try to go back in time and fix it when I realized he wasn't coming back. I didn't even start mourning until I'd attempted and failed to back-step over and over again.
But it turns out that once the ghost you're supposed to be mediating has effectively crossed over, his entire past becomes off limits to you, shifter or no.
I had worn out every avenue, attempted every possibility, basically just existed in a lovely shroud of denial before it finally sunk in. Nothing I could ever do would bring him back, and nothing would ever be the same.
Jesse was gone forever.
Senior year began 3 months after the world came to a screeching halt, following a summer of misery and endless therapy sessions. Yep, my mother worried (let's face it – for good reason) that I might try to off myself in my state of severe depression, fell back on one of her old favorites in terms of parenting; forcing her only daughter to endure a shrink.
I don't blame her of course, and if you would have seen me in the weeks following Jesse's accident, you wouldn't either. I was a wreck, and it showed. I think, disgustingly enough, I even went close to two weeks without showering at one point. I certainly couldn't uphold the Ackerman family tradition of working or learning during vacation in my state. It was a miracle the days I even managed to get out of bed.
Anyway, Mom thought Dr. Caldwell – an accomplished therapist she'd interviewed for a news story once – would be just the person to push me back into the land of the living (Hah Hah). I don't know, I guess she was competent enough, but I really don't know if she 'fixed' me. Because, in all honesty, you don't go through losing your first real love without coming away altered. Even as I cooperated with Dr. Caldwell in the sessions, I wondered if I would really ever be okay again. Was it even possible to move on from this?
But then… my mother went through it, losing my dad and all, and I have to say she's pretty happy now. And I wanted to be too. Don't think I was determined to be depressed and lost, or anything else – I wanted to get better. I knew Jesse would want that too; it is after all what all the grief counselors tell you in the support groups, and besides that it's just the way he was. He'd absolutely hate for me to be miserable.
So I tried, I really did, so hard to be Susannah Simon again, the person I was before his death. I approached my senior year, ready to make a fresh start. I'd be Suze, but I would be better in honor of Jesse's memory.
Anyway, you know what they say about the best laid plans? Yeah, it's true. Because as far as I know, the old Suze didn't have an addictive personality. But then, where Paul Slater is concerned I've never really been the greatest version of myself anyway. You could say the guy brings out the worst in me, and you'd be right, but you'd also have to acknowledge all the ways he pushes me to make the most of… well me.
Either way, his influence was the only thing that really connected strongly in all the disconnected months following Jesse's death. He offered me something I didn't know I even wanted, until I realized how much I needed it. Now before you get the impression that he introduced me to, say, crack, let me clear it up for you. It's not drugs I've become addicted to, or alcohol, or any other big no-no of the sort.
It's something far more dangerous that I need, or rather someone. Because it's him I crave like a hopeless junkie. It's his presence I desire. I'm sick, but I lay in his arms and he smiles against my neck and it feels too good to care. Every time I tell myself how wrong this is, he touches me with his raw, unrefined truth, and I hold onto it because it's desperately alive.
Paul Slater. My sometimes enemy, occasional friend, perpetual nemesis. My bad habit, guilty pleasure, and my weakness. My addiction.
Now how the hell did that happen?
A/N: Now to spend the better part of this story answering that question. Go easy – I'm a crybaby. (A lying crybaby) Ch. 1 is almost finished.