Author's Note: I just recently binge-read Twilight and Full Moon, and immediately fell in love with them. I say binge-read because, due to the fact that they weren't mine and some one else "needed" them, I was given the deadline of a day each to get through them.
And, as you must know since you are here, it was impossibly easy. I am still so wowed. I feel almost silly jumping right into fanfiction, but I'd rather get this out my system when my musings are still fresh, and my thoughts never straying too far away.
Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer, you are super cool.
How does one decide who to spend forever with? It's easier for humans. With humans, forever doesn't actually mean forever. It means, what, sixty years? Maybe. It could mean one. It could mean less. Humans couldn't be more fragile if they were made of glass.
Victoria flies through the forest, feeling the roots and leaves and brambles tearing at her feet, the cold wind crashing into her face like a barrier and peeling tears from her eyes. She does not stumble, she does not hit a low branch, or veer into a tree as might be considered an easy feat at so high a speed, but it's instinct that keeps her from doing so. In truth she wants to fall, she wants to hurt, she wants to bleed. Anything that would offer a temporary distraction from the real pain, which is all in her mind.
The running itself is helping, sort of. She focuses her dizzy thoughts on that for a while, and a frighteningly vague smile crosses her full lips. She's thinking of when she first learned she could run this way. Back before, when she was alone, and even though she didn't quite fit the denotation of the word anymore, she'd never felt so alive. She is neither particularly sad or happy to think of this time, she only knows that she wants to relive it as completely as possible. If she throws herself headfirst into the memory, it could become real. Or real to her at least, which is all that matters.
Back before he found her, and things got so complicated.
Her sensitive ears pick up the ferocious shriek all too well. What surprises her is that she's the one who made it. So much for distraction…
Within moments she hears something else that has her skidding to a violent stop, her bare feet sending up a spray of dirt and old leaves. She stands completely frozen in the darkness, head cocked anxiously to one side. She can't see anyone, and she would have been able to even without the sparse strands of moonlight streaming through the leafy rooftop. Nor can she sense any hostile presence in the immediate area. But then it sounds again, and she knows that no matter how far away it may be she has to run again. Now.
"Victoria," he says. She imagines she feels her heart flutter, even though it's been years since it ceased beating altogether. She says nothing, hoping it will prompt him to say her name again. It sounds so sweet in his voice, his inflection, each syllable slipping gracefully from his soft-looking lips…
She grows impatient suddenly and leans forward, nipping at the corner of his mouth. Afterwards she contents herself with planting tiny butterfly kisses along the ridge of his cheekbone, not allowing herself to stray too close to his mouth should it keep him from saying her name again. She feels his body reacting against her, the way his shoulders are set so tensely, his neck arching toward her, and he's forgotten to breathe. His eyes are half closed, the blood red irises glittering at her like precious rubies beneath thick lashes.
"Victoria," he says again, his voice barely above a whisper as he wraps her in his arms. And she feels it again, that tremor in her not-heart.
Shit. Shit, they are following her. The filthy dogs must have picked up her scent, even from so great a distance. They aren't howling anymore, but this is in fact what has given her knowledge of their chase. They're attempting to be stealthy, the brutes. They're shooting through the forest like five ugly, hairy, and most potently deadly bullets, and they're being completely silent about it, probably thinking they'll catch her off guard. Victoria scoffs at their arrogance. She's not stupid enough not to acknowledge their physical advantage over her, but she'll be damned (again) before admitting even the possibility that a couple of mutts could outthink some one like her.
Her red hair looks silver-grey in the dim moonlight. It streaks out behind her as she runs, even faster than before though now she's not enjoying it. It keeps getting caught in low reaching branches, and more than a few strands have ripped right out to remain tangled in the forest growth, a more tangible trail for the beasts to follow. Not that they need any help. By now she can smell them, and the fact that they've caught up so soon both irritates and panics her.
Would it be so bad to let them catch me? She tries so hard to bar the thought from her mind, but it flits around, resurfacing in bits and pieces, and she can not banish it altogether no matter what she does. What's the worst that could happen? Or rather, what's the imminent that could happen? They'd approach, their disgusting hairy bodies completely un-fatigued even after the extensive running. They'd surround her, they'd close in… they'd tear her to shreds. And that would be that.
No, her senses roar and she feels herself urge forward with an extra burst of speed unbidden.
What's Plan B then? she asks herself. It isn't as though she's thought any of this out, as if she's taken the time or had the thought capacity beyond her raging emotions to figure out a solid route of attack. And she certainly doesn't have a Plan B.
James never did either.
"James, don't do this…" she urges him. Her arms are planted on his shoulders, all that's keeping him from dashing off then and there, and her eyes unflinchingly glare up into his. "You could be—"
"Killed?" he asks, viciously. He reaches up and wraps his large hands around her wrists, squeezing without actually trying to remove them. Somewhere in her mind it registers that this is supposed to hurt, and she fumes at the gesture. James only laughs, a fierce and hollow sound, and flashes her an unhappy grin showing all of his white, deadly teeth. "Don't be stupid, Victoria."
"There will be a lot of them," she points out with a sniff, but she knows how useless the argument is. It's never worked before, it's sure not to work now, even though now is the first time it's been true enough that it might have a dire affect. "She's probably one of the most well-protected humans I've ever seen, I don't know why you had to choose her…"
James's expression is positively feral now. His eyes have gone so dark there isn't a single red glint visible. Victoria knows he just hunted a few days ago, the thirst should not be affecting him so strongly. But it's not about the thirst for James. It never is, even when he honestly needs the nourishment. It's a game. It's a challenge. It's an addiction.
"Please," she says, a last ditch effort. "For me."
He's going after a princess, the honest-to-goodness heiress to the throne of her small country. It's a stupid idea, he must realize that, but he's locked onto her scent and her mind now and no force on earth could cause him to let her go. Victoria imagines the human girl. She must be very pretty, since James prefers to track pretty people, or perhaps very smart. But she does not feel any sympathy for her. She feels nails, and fire, and daggers, and all sorts of things tearing up her insides as she tries to ignore the fact that she is wholly and outrageously jealous of this new object of James's obsession.
His expression has gone hard now, and this time he does remove her hands, forcing them back to her sides. She lets him, and when he's not touching her any more she can still feel his imprint on her arms. Warm, as if he's just been hunting, but it's the exhilaration alone that raises his temperature and colors his face.
She thinks maybe he's going to leave without saying anything, and the thought makes her want to die. But just before he goes he turns around, flashes her a disarming smile, and assures her, "See you later."
It's enough, like always, to make her wait for him.
How could one girl possibly cause so much trouble for beings infinitely more powerful than her? Hatred burns through Victoria, not for the girl herself (whom she has little to no regard for, like all humans) but for the irrepressible Cullen family and their stupid ideals. If they didn't try so hard to be so high and mighty, all the while stooping to such a low level and preying on beasts when human game was so easily available to them… if they didn't take on human pets… James would still be alive.
Some part of her knows her senseless devotion to him is pathetic. No vampire should feel so completely dependent on anyone, even another vampire. It's too human a thing. But she was dependant on James, and she'd like to think that sometimes, when he wasn't tracking, he was dependent on her too. She never decided to be in love with him. She never looked him in the eyes and consciously told herself, "You will follow him to the ends of the earth." But she was, and she would. And now he was gone.
Gone. The word sears through her chest, where she knows she will never feel fake heart flutters again. Bella, she sneers to herself. A flighty human girl could never understand the unrelenting agony she's caused. Trying to live without James was like trying to live without blood. Soon she wouldn't even need that anymore. After this Bella girl is dead, she plans to execute her own demise as quickly as possible. Maybe she'll let the wolves have her after all, though the thought of giving them anything they want disgusts her. Or maybe she can simply wait, and Edward will find her.
Edward. The hatred she felt pondering Bella does not equal even one tenth of the rage that consumes her at the thought of that murderer.
She watches him, clenching her fists at her sides to keep from shaking. The girl, the princess, is dead by now but still he drinks from her as if he's never tasted anything so impossibly delicious and couldn't bear to waste even one drop. His arms are around the girl, holding her to him, one hand tangled in her long, dark hair. When the body finally slides to the floor, Victoria's gaze toward it is smoldering.
She knows it's sick, being jealous of a corpse, but with every fiber of her being she wishes she were the one dead on the floor now. If it meant that just for once, she was the most important thing to James, it would be worth it.
He stands apart for several moments, wiping his mouth with the back of his flushed hands, reigning in his control. When he looks up to grin at her, his eyes are almost completely red, the pupils shrunk so small amidst his bloody irises it's a wonder he can see at all in the dim light.
"Hey," he says sluggishly, just noticing her. He's smug, and content.
"Why did you bring that here?" Victoria asks in a small voice, indicating the dead girl with a flick of her hand.
James shrugs, sidling toward her. "You were right, I don't think I've ever seen so many guards for one human. I didn't have enough time to consume her there, I'm sure it would have caused a scene."
Victoria can tell that despite his affected casual tone he's burning with the desire to tell her about the hunt. He wants her to ask how he managed to get into the heavily guarded palace, and how many he had to kill before reaching the princess, and how he escaped without harming the girl until they'd reached the vampires' temporary home.
But Victoria won't play his game tonight. She keeps her fists clenched and her eyes down on the girl, and she focuses on his first words: "You were right."
It feels good, hearing him say that.
I was right.
Victoria is almost positive the wolves have given up pursuit now. Her rage and desire to survive long enough to achieve her goal have kept her fast and unstoppable, no doubt they were getting aggravated with the out-of-reach vampire. Also, she realizes with a sudden strange awareness, they'd driven her far away from the girl. She slows her pace, and her surroundings become clearer. She's never emerged from the protection of the forest, but it seems a little different here. The air feels colder, the wind a bit stronger, and the beginnings of a cloudless, pink dawn swim down through the sparser leaf cover. She is probably in Canada by now.
At this thought she allows herself to stop altogether. The sudden un-use, and the fact that she hasn't hunted since the hiker she took down almost two weeks ago, causes her legs to buckle beneath her. She lands squarely in a patch of mud, but gladly lays back in it. For a while she remains frozen, listening, but sure enough the dogs have given up. She's surprised to find that this thought is a relief, having previously decided she no longer cared for her own life in the least.
I was right James, she thinks. She says it out loud then, and her words seem impossibly loud in the silent forest. But she knows that he'll never hear them, no matter how loud she speaks.
I was right that one day you would pick the wrong human to track. I was right about your stupid game, that no matter what I did or said, it was always more important to you than me.
But I have my own game now, she thinks dreamily. She's vaguely aware that she's exhausted and in dire need of nourishment, and for the first time in years she wishes she could sleep. Humans have it so easy, getting to shut out the world for a few hours whenever they want… and not having to suffer forever without the one they love.
"James," Victoria urges him, "I don't want you to go to Phoenix. This isn't like every other time: the Cullens are powerful. If you go feeding on their pet they're going to want revenge, don't you understand?"
But he just grins ferociously at her like always, and she can see from the look in his eyes that this time won't be any different from all the rest. It is different, it's immensely and life-threateningly different, but James will never consent to recognizing that. He doesn't realize that this time she actually might lose him.
"It's all right," he assures her, his voice rough from thirst and bravado, "They'll never find me. I've got an amazing plan."
Of course, Victoria thinks. You always have a plan. What do you do when for once it doesn't work out?
"Please," she whispers. "Please stay with me."
She hates and loves him so badly right now. She hates how he has no concept of what is in his power to do to her, how he tortures her by putting humans as his top priority and only returning when he's taken his prize. And she hates that there is nothing she could ever do or say to make him choose her instead.
She tries to act normal about it, show her usual resentment but not give away how fearful she is that this really will be the last time. James is too caught up in the coming hunt to notice her efforts. He smiles, and brushes his hand along the side of her face endearingly.
"See you later," he says.
Post A/N: This story is now complete. I apologize for any inconsistency, I wanted to do this in present tense but I can be sooo bad at remembering what I'm doing once I start writing.
Let me know what you think!