Disclaimer which shall apply to the entire story (I'll only say it once): Original characters and the F150 (in real life, a Mark LT) belong to me (actually, the truck is a company vehicle). Everything else belongs to their respective owners. I'm just playing with the characters and make no money from this story. Many thanks to Stephanie Meyer for giving us her wonderful books! No copyright infringement intended. The first intro into Jacob's POV is an excerpt from the end of Eclipse. Really, I own nothing except the computer on which I type.
Title Song: Beyond the Sun by Shinedown
Song for the beginning: Bittersweet by Apocalyptica featuring H.I.M. and the Rasmus
Song for later: Shed Some Light by Shinedown
Chapter title from Written in Blood by She Wants Revenge
(Sorry,I can't help pairing music with my writing)
Chapter One - Tearstains and Could-Have-Beens:
I was calm. Of that much, at least, I was certain. I always got that way when things went completely upside down. Calm at the front, steady through the storm, the rock for all involved and then once the crisis ended, I'd slide off in the shadows to fall apart. Now, however, was not the time for falling apart.
Not when I had a very strange man sitting in the passenger seat of my truck.
Highway 165 wound through the foothills, past tiny towns with nothing more than a tavern and a gas station and finally all the way up to Mount Rainier National Park. At night hardly a soul was ever seen once Evans Creek, the ORV (Off Road Vehicle) part of the park was closed. This made it my favorite place in the world, away from the bothersome city lights, the pollution, and most of all the population. I loved to be alone, just me and the trees sharing the beautiful night sky.
It was a particularly bright night, the moon shining so fierce I hardly needed headlights to see. As tempting as it was to be wild and drive dark, I kept my lights on. I jumped at every rustle and funny shaped clump of grass enough as it was. There were animals a-plenty in the woods and I had no desire to have a deer imprint in the front of my baby; a lifted, supercharged F150 that I'd built myself.
It was this very paranoia of deer splattering that shed light, as it were, on a terrifying sight I'd not encountered before.
In the trees straight ahead, at the beginning of the next curve, was a large - something - that on first assumption I'd thought to be a bear. Logically I knew that bones and fur and roar were no match for steel and supercharger and 37 inch tires, but that didn't prevent my heart from attempting suicide by nearly climbing out of my chest. I couldn't take my eyes off of it.
As I looked, confusion warred with fear. The beast I saw was ragged and yet… still eerily beautiful. Dirty reddish-brown fur covered perfectly formed muscle, all of which was clearly visible in the light from my high beams. I'd never seen a bear in real life, but I'd seen enough pictures to know that if this was a bear, there was something wrong with it. It shuddered, in obvious pain and fatigue, never once seeming to notice me or my own metal beast (surprising since the thing was far too loud not to notice, especially in the silence of the woods) and thudded to the ground, unmoving further.
Curiosity won out over self preservation and I shut my high beams off and slowed the truck down to a stop. Still with a death grip on the steering wheel and my foot poised on the gas, ready to run should the need arise.
My mind worked in overtime, imagining all sorts of scenarios, from gruesome to absurdly weird, but as fast as my thoughts ran, they stopped even quicker when the animal/bear/thing suddenly twitched, and turned into a human. A very large, very male, very naked, human. That was, I decided, the strangest thing I'd ever seen. Odd that it didn't seem to bother me more.
Do something, my heart whispered. Mentally I agreed with myself, pulled the truck to the edge of the road nearest him and threw it into park.
My body barely registered the fact that I was running until I stopped just shy of him. Cautiously this time, I tiptoed forward, not wanting to surprise him if he was coherent. I reached out and touched his shoulder, startling myself when I felt the warmth of his skin; illogical given the coolness of the evening air. Feeling silly, I reminded myself, Strange shape-shifter/star trek reject… remember?
I reached out again, this time pressing my hand to his chest. I felt his inhalation, faint but existent, and felt reassured. Pulling away I whispered, "Hello?" My voice sounded awkward to my own ears.
A pitiful whimper answered me. "Bella?"
"Close I guess, but no…" I responded, "Beth. I'd like to help you, if you're agreeable to that."
As I studied the inert form, I weighed my options. It didn't take long to determine a course of action and I organized my plan into clearly defined steps. Step One: Providing it was possible given our size difference, get him into the truck. My cell didn't have good reception in the mountains and it would be faster to drive him down the hill than to wait for an ambulance. Besides, what would I say to the paramedics? "Sorry, I don't know what's wrong with him either. Maybe ask a vet?" I mocked to myself.
"You'll have to help me a little," I said. "I'm not a wimp, but you're twice as tall as me. No way am I getting you all the way to the truck by myself."
With a reassuring groan from him, I stooped down and wrapped one of his arms around my shoulders. "On three, okay?" I counted out loud.
My legs gave all they had on the rise up, which was good because if they'd had any less, we wouldn't have made it upright. He was easily more than a foot taller than my own five foot three, and weighed in my estimation half a ton. On top of it all he was shaking with exhaustion and possibly an illness of some sort (something I hoped wasn't contagious).
Step One was completed with one final, labored step and an awkward half pull, half shove into the passenger seat. In this case it was fortunate he was so tall, he compensated for the height of the truck.
Step Two: Get into the truck myself. This step I hardly had to plan, already closing the door before I fully processed the train of thought.
Step Three: Drive home.
I was running before I hit the trees, my clothes strewn out behind me like a trail of crumbs – as if I wanted to find my way back. It was almost too easy now to phase. I didn't have to think. My body already knew where I was going and, before I asked it to, it gave me what I wanted.
I had four legs and I was flying.
The trees blurred into a sea of black flowing around me. My muscles bunched and released in an effortless rhythm. I could run like this for days and I would not be tired. Maybe, this time, I wouldn't stop.
However long I'd run, however far, it wasn't enough. My anger bound me to my wolf form. It was all I dared to trust. Wind and trees stung in place of the tears I couldn't cry while phased and gratefully, the sun hid from me behind layers of clouds. At the first nightfall, I was glad for the darkness and ran recklessly, lost in movement.
Maybe it was days; the daylight rose and fell, and the darkness shrouded me again and again until my fur was matted with bits of forest, held together with the rain that beat down in typical Washington fashion.
It was almost a relief when the clouds dissipated. Since I'd left home, I'd been in solitude with the forest, but now the moon joined us in a perfect trio. I howled my rage to her – my unearthly cries echoing until my throat protested and I ran out of breath. I fought fatigue – kept running long past energy was gone, until running was automatic.
Rage turned to a bitterness that shook my bones and the hole in my chest scraped, raw and bleeding with every heartbeat. My legs shook with the strain of exertion, forced me to slow to a walk until I gave into absolute exhaustion some time later, and finally fell.
I didn't have the energy to be angry anymore. Taunted by the nearing blackness of unconsciousness, my body phased into my human form without considering the source of the new hum in the background or the scent of another, a girl, nearby. Her soft "Hello?" reached through the weary fog of my mind.
"Bella?" I knew it couldn't be her, the scent was wrong, but I wished with all my heart I was wrong.
"No…" she responded and I acknowledged, accepting, not listening for further explanation.
Somehow she either managed to convince me to stand or hauled me up by sheer force of will, then slowly led the way to the source of the hum; which had become a distant presence in the back of my skull.
We drove, and I heard her voice faintly but was too far gone to hear more than snippets, "… at my house. It isn't far," I processed during moments of some clarity, "unless you need a doctor?"
This question was enough to prod my defenses and I apparently managed to adequately convey my disgust.
"Guess not," she murmured at my shudder of dissatisfaction.
She was right though, about home not being far, because it wasn't long before I heard the engine cease and the consistent forward motion of the truck halt.
"I'll be right back with a blanket. It's dark, but I don't suppose my neighbors would appreciate seeing you starkers."
She shut the door and I deliberated whether or not a more comfortable place to sleep was worth putting of the bliss of being passed out. Before my lethargic brain cells could decide, the door I was comfortably leaning on clicked open. Something wonderfully warm and fuzzy tucked under my arms, and wrapped around me.
"Come on," the warmth of her voice encouraged. "You'll sleep better inside."
She was right. I knew she was, and suddenly having her there comforted me, motivated me out of the truck, up to the door, and finally into the house. We stalled for a moment near the couch before she turned and led me down towards a door at the far end of the hallway.
It was a relief when the bed came into view, and I fell on top of the covers still holding the blanket she'd gotten around me.
The last thing I heard was, "You won't fit on the couch, so crash on the bed. I'll be right near if you need anything."
I had a very strange man sitting in my passenger seat. I'd always relied heavily on my instinct, it had never steered me wrong about a person yet, but somehow… this one was different than anyone I'd met before. And not just because of the whole sci-fi thing either, my brain interjected. It was almost as if I'd found someone I'd known all along, even though they weren't there before. Very strange, I thought.
I glanced over at him. He was currently half slumped onto the door, still very much naked, which didn't really bother me any, but certainly would be a source of much embarrassment (I assumed) for him should he wake up. It took a bit of twisting, but I managed to get my sweater off and draped over his lap.
"I don't really know where to take you," I paused and chewed thoughtfully on my lower lip, "so you can stay at my house. It isn't far from here. Fifteen minutes maybe? Depends on how far up the mountain we are. I just live over in Enumclaw anyway. Unless you need a doctor first?"
I wasn't sure he'd heard anything I'd said, I was mainly just talking to make noise, but his nose scrunched up and he made a decidedly aghast noise.
"Guess not," I murmured, unsurprised.
I kept quiet after that, even though my mind was racing. Who was he? What was that stunt he did with the shape-shifting? Plenty of time to ask him later, I supposed, provided he doesn't die on me. That thought was more than uncomfortable, and I kept a closer eye on him.
Highway 165 hit Highway 410, which took us straight to Enumclaw. It wasn't more than a handful of minutes later until I turned down the familiar residential street that led to my driveway. Past the quaint older houses, all well kept and mostly all owned by retirement age folks. My own house was much the same, originally bought by my grandparents and inherited by my father when they died. He didn't have a use for the house, but it was owned outright so it was given to me. "Much better than dealing with a room-mate, Sugar," my dad had said.
I'd never been more grateful for that than just now.
My driveway came into view and I pulled in and shut off the truck. "I'll be right back with a blanket," I told him. "It's dark, but I don't suppose my neighbors would appreciate seeing you starkers."
He didn't even twitch.
I came back a moment later, as promised, with a blanket and carefully eased the door he was using as a pillow open. I lifted his arms and eased the blanket under them, and then took him in an almost-hug, leaning him forward so I could ease the blanket behind him. He sighed into my arms, and my heart tugged uncomfortably. Stop that! I insisted.
"Come on," I prodded. "You'll sleep better inside."
Getting out of the truck wasn't nearly as bad as getting in and it wasn't long before we were standing in the entryway. I debated, couch or bed? Shaking my head, it wasn't really a question at all given his size. I headed down the hallway.
He didn't need any encouragement to find the bed once we reached the room. "You won't fit on the couch, so crash on the bed. I'll be right near if you need anything."
If he was beautiful, although sad, as a creature, he was breathtaking as a man. His copper skin contrasted with my pale hand as I touched his cheek and reached up to feel his silky, dark hair. He was even taller than I'd thought, all stretched out and hanging off both ends of the bed.
I sat gingerly on the bed and tried to convince myself that I was just being a Good Samaritan, being motherly, being… anything at all that made it reasonable that I should feel anything for someone I didn't even know. It was absurd how much it hurt me to see him, the shadows under his eyes speaking loudly of the pain he was in. I shouldn't want to hold him in my arms to soothe the ache in my own chest, an ache that twisted into my throat every time I looked at him.
Good grief. I was ridiculous. Here I am, I berated myself, worrying over him like some lovesick teenager when the most I should be is clinically detached! This can't be right; maybe his powers include some kind of… love potion no. 9 effect.
Vaguely comforted by a conclusion that cleared me of any insanity; I stood and made my way in the dark toward the kitchen. When he woke up he'd in all likelihood be hungry and since he was so warm, probably dehydrated too. Filling a glass with water was a normal, perfectly fine task and I set to it with more vigor than usual; I was determined to not get attached, despite whatever weird powers he might come with.
I needed to keep strong. Crisis wasn't over yet, I was still needed. What I needed were my Steps. And now I sound like an addict.
Step Four: Get water. It was an easily done task, if not for the horrible noises that suddenly emitted from the direction of the occupant of my thoughts. My skin prickled at the sound, and the glass of water was instantly forgotten in my hand.
It was again the moonlight, perfectly tracing his figure on the bed, which led me to witness this newest breakdown. No longer prone but curled on his side, large hands fisting over his chest.
The sound he made was oddly wolf like, a keening howl that prickled my skin and wrenched that odd tug in my heart. I climbed onto the bed behind him and clumsily slid one arm under his head and one around his chest, covering his large fist with my own small hand.
"Shh," I whispered as I held him. Something under his skin rippled and I imagined it was his pain. I pressed my face into his back and held on, willing him to use me as his rock. The crisis was far from over it seemed.
For hours, I stayed with him. Long after my extremities had gone to sleep and a crick formed in my neck. Still he cried and still I held on. Even as he shook, his other hand covered mine, clinging desperately to me as if I really were an anchor. Moonlight broke into dawn before finally his breath evened out and he drifted to sleep.
Sleep was unexpected. After longing for the bliss of unconsciousness, I didn't expect to fall right into a normal sleep. Possibly I was just too exhausted to think about her but in any case, I didn't fear the dreams that would come. Later of course, I would regret that.
In the back of my mind I knew my mystery woman was still there, felt her hand on my head, felt the comfort and was glad for it, whoever she was and whatever it meant. She must have left at some point because as quickly as the unidentified calm came, it went with her just as fast.
Nightmares stole my sleep in stages, first with Bella's name, then with Edward's. Both of them together… and then Bella dead. Standing alone on our stretch of beach, her skin cold and hard, her scent sickly sweet. "I'm sorry, Jacob," she mouthed. "It's for the best. I'm happy this way. Edward and I will have forever. You and I would have only had a lifetime." The dream Bella grated the already raw wounds and I clutched my chest as if it were a physical pain.
Someone was making a horrible noise, and it wasn't until reassuring arms went around me that I realized it was me. Even knowing, I couldn't stop. Couldn't muster the energy to run again, my body wouldn't even phase. All that was left were tears. A hand covered mine and I focused on it; used it as a rock to anchor myself as I swam through my pain like a river.
She'd brought the comfort back with her and slowly it took over, lulling me back to sleep as the first tendrils of light crept over the blankets.
End of Chapter One
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