Disclaimer: SMeyer owns all. I merely write for amusement, and because twisting someone else's characters is much more fun than creating my own. I also don't own Mary Chapin Carpenter's 10,000 Miles, the song from which I snitched the title of this story. Any quotes used will be credited. Okay? Okay.
A/N: Yes, this is a SethxNessie story. No, I am not delusional. Only mildly chemically imbalanced in thinking that approaching a crack ship seriously isn't going to get me lots of odd looks and flames from reviewers. I'm not really expecting any feedback, but if you'd like to give some, by all means please do! I'd love to hear how I can make Seth more in character, how I can make my writing better, or just what you'd like to see in the story. For the purposes of this fic, Breaking Dawn cannon is followed only through the first two "books", and Renesmee's aging process is that of a normal human. Many thanks to my twilighted beta, vjgm. I hope you enjoy.
I was born in the ashes of the fire, and I learned how to burn.
- The Stone Gods
You are cold, suffocating, and wailing when you come into the world. There are venomous teeth crowding your face threateningly, and then strong, icy hands are coaxing you from the warmth of your safe haven.
Come out, they seem to be saying, come out and live. Because you're too big now, too hungry. If you stay where you are you will kill her (your world), and you will die, too.
Those violent hands are ripping you from your mother's body and it is cold out here and you aren't sure how to breathe and you want to go back and – and then, for the first time you are seeing your father. You didn't think it was possible to love someone the way you love your mother, but there it is – his face – and suddenly you are a planet orbiting around twin suns.
Voices blend in a cacophony of sound around you. You can think and feel and now you can breathe, but when you try to understand the words they're forming it all falls and clatters against your ears like anvils. You understand that something is wrong, though. You can smell pre-death lingering in the air.
Then your father, your wonderful, reverent, frantic daddy, is handing you over to another pair of arms. These ones are the antithesis of his: they are shaking so badly they can barely hold you. Your eyes swing around, and for the first time you see her. You stop crying in mid-scream, your entire face forming one long, oval 'O.'
So this is her. She is beautiful, beaming. Even with gray-white skin and a slowly failing heart, all you can see is the blood that runs under the surface of her skin, the tears staining her cheeks and glistening in her eyes and making her human. She is mother. She is lifeblood.
Her mouth opens, and all that racket converges into one beautiful, pure sound. She stutters and gasps for air, and you recognize the sound of your name as the fruit of her struggle. The most vital part of you, the part that is hers, jumps in recognition. She has known you and called you by a name. She, your sun, your universe. Everything in this strange new world is suddenly right.
But you are thirsty, so thirsty, and some primal instinct is directing your mouth to look to her for satisfaction. Your lips seek out a perfect, dark nipple and bite down lustily. Instead of hitting milk you penetrate skin. Then her arms are falling away from you and your father is lifting you back up, and suddenly you hear the growls of a third person.
You look up at him and are struck by the realization that he is important, the third strongest thread in the fabric of this new life. Eyes following him as he bends over her, your mouth stumbles and you try to babble something that will make sense to him.
It will be all right, you want to tell him, my mother is strong and my father is stubborn. There is all the time in the world, still.
Instead you just voice the senseless murmurs of a new citizen of earth.
Then there is another voice. Two growls rumble, one against your back and one from the strange man who still will not look at you. For a moment your lips tremble as you try to hold back an anxious sob. There is too much to see and understand, and you are worried you will forever be playing catch-up now that you don't have your mother to carry you.
You are moving (moved), and your hyper-sensitive little body feels each harsh bounce as you cross this long distance and are placed in a new set of arms.
Blond hair tickles your face, momentarily distracting you so that you don't realize your father is gone. When you notice his absence you begin crying in earnest.
Don't leave me, you think, I'm still so little, and I don't know my way. Who are these people, and how will they help me? Only you can teach me.
But you find that this isn't true, because a musical voice is singing over you without words, and you are settling against a granite chest in exhaustion. Then you and your new partner are flying down the hall, her gentle voice still trying to distract and calm you. You squeeze your eyes shut and try to ignore the fact that you are on the outside now, letting the lullaby do its job and soothe you into oblivion.
Thirsty. You're still thirsty.
Something is forced into your clamped mouth, foreign and awkward and, like everything else apart from your mother, cold. You turn your head, choke. Try to cry. Then, as your mouth's movements force something out you swallow involuntarily; and then you are drinking (because it is good) and then you are gulping eagerly and there can never, ever be enough.
There are loud, thudding steps. More noises to hurt your ears. You try to zero in on the delicious warmth sliding down your throat and heating you up from the inside out but are distracted by a sudden ripping sound. The hard chest with the soft blond hair is still leaning over you, cooing softly, so you are forced to lift your head and look for yourself.
You see something beautiful and big. Russet fur and dark eyes, pained growls and tense paws. You aren't sure how, but you somehow know that this is the person from upstairs – the third addition to your universe's center. And he is angry, furious with you.
Please don't be angry with me. It was scary and dark where I was, and then she offered me a place in her to rest. She was beautiful and kind and gave me all I needed. I would never hurt her. She will be fine, my mother. Reborn as something else – undead, you think now. But I know the truth. She will be more alive than ever.
He is your third strand, so you are sure that if you can meet his eyes you can tell him this without bothering with that awful talking nonsense. He stares at you, through you, his eyes so sharp they almost cut your baby softness in half. Then they flare, a supernova of browns and blacks and yellows.
Oh, you think, and your stomach drops.
This was not supposed to happen.
He moves toward you and your caregiver, and it seems that he glows a little more with each step he takes.
No, your mind/instinct says faintly, oh no.
But he is not your father, and he does not listen.
Then it happens. You are whipped around. In an instant, an unquantifiable fraction of time that passes so quickly it rips away the sustenance still resting at your lips, you are facing away from him. A wail rises in your throat.
Growls and hisses. Screams and shouts and, as you hear the faint beat of momma's heart thump-thump-thumping back into being, there is an awful sound you know is the tearing of flesh. Howls and whines, snarls and roars. It comes at you from all sides and you are helpless to stop it.
You search for the sound of your mother's pulse frantically, wanting to push aside everything else. It is lost in the noise. Hands smooth over your cheeks and hair tickles your eyelashes and that beautiful, lyrical voice is singing over you again. It is so faint, though…
Because you are bewildered and scared and young (still so very young), you close your eyes and try to wish it all away.
You hear much more. Footsteps and crashes and paws pounding into the floorboards (clatterclatterclatter). More ripping, more growling, more anguished cries.
Then you are being handed off once again, and your wail reaches its peak because you can't bear to leave one more person you trust. Hands like fire shock your skin, burn all the way to your bones. This skin is not snowy white like momma's and daddy's and Golden Hair's but copper like your wolf's.
Shush-sh-sh, this new person mutters over you.
They spring around, and then they are running, carrying you away from everything you know and into deep forests where nothing is safe. You cry, cry, cry as you hear the howls and growls and cries and hisses and tearing continue; scream again when that faint thump-thumping that is Mother, Mommy, Sun dies away.
The two of you stop, and the fat streams of saltwater running down your baby-fat cheeks and your double chin and your whisper-soft chest are joined by sharp points of moisture falling from somewhere up above.
Maybe because your Hard Chest and Golden Hair did it, maybe because it is their instinct to reach, reach, reach until they are holding you in this way, this new Warmth begins to vibrate with sound. Her voice is gravelly and harsh. (And you know, somehow, that this person is a 'she.') The rhythms aren't at all like that timeless melody from before; they are halting and jerky and repetitive. It is still, somehow, comforting.
Then the howling and screaming and tearing have ended, and the sound above you breaks off too.
For a moment you simply gasp for air and hold tightly to each other. Then you are both letting out anguished, bleeding sobs.
The woods are dark and quiet when someone comes for you and the Warmth. You can hear another voice, deep and hard, and burning hands trying to rip you away from your fiery arm-cradle. She holds you to her furiously. There is more shouting, and you are so tired, and your perfect, shining world is so broken and black, and then there is more singing.
Shush-sh-sh, she whispers, in between lines and vowels.
You finally fall asleep, your tears dried to your skin and your bloodless, invisible scars festering.
This is how a world crumbles. This is how people die.
This is how your life begins.
Renesmee was crying silently when she woke. Her tears were cold and wet as they slid down her face, leaving her nose unclogged and her breathing even. She had a strange, sad feeling of displacement, as if she was supposed to mourning something but had forgotten what.
"Nessie?" Her older sister's dark head popped up from the surface of the pull-out bed. "Are you okay?"
"Just a bad dream," she whispered, her chest aching with a strange weight. "You should go back to sleep."
Claire ignored her, though, and, after rising to all fours and crawling across the mattress, she pulled herself up onto the full bed and settled in a hairsbreadth away from her younger sibling. Her dark hands reached out and pushed back Nessie's hair, which was shining faintly even in the darkness. She took in the watery eyes and shaking limbs with her big sister sixth sense and sighed sympathetically. "Oh, sweetie" Her calloused thumbs brushed at the thin water trails Nessie's tears had left in the creases of her nostrils and the wrinkles around her eyes.
Renesmee curled into her big sister. She slid down until she had to bend her knees to keep from falling off the bed. It was worth it, though, to be able to rest her head under much-shorter Claire's pointed chin. Everything about the hug was comforting, the alternately soft and hard lines of Claire's body seeming to relay an unspoken understanding. This didn't surprise Nessie; Claire had an almost unnatural way of knowing exactly what she needed. There were times when she felt more like a mother or a best friend than the controlling, annoying older sibling she was supposed to be.
"There was a forest… and Leah was singing a tribal song. But there was someone else – something before that – everyone was shouting, and I couldn't –" Nessie broke off, her open eyes gazing into the branches and undergrowth from her memory. She was frustrated that she couldn't remember anything more, but Claire's magic hands were smoothing the frustration away as they stroked her hair and rubbed circles into her back.
"Do you think you were remembering the fire?"
She exhaled noisily. "I don't know. I can always feel it so clearly while I'm there, but then I wake up and it all… drifts. My mind won't let me remember." Claire was silent, merely slowing her movements as she let Nessie talk it out. "It doesn't scare me – I mean, I know it's over now. But I just wish that I could remember. That I could say goodbye."
Claire pulled away slightly, and Nessie shifted over on the bed so that she wasn't clinging to the edge. A tiny hand propped up her head, and their eyes met in the dark. Claire's face was considering. "Have you considered that maybe this is all you have of that day? I mean, I don't know much about infant development, but most people don't have a coherent memory of anything before their second birthday. Maybe your brain is just trying to fill in the blanks in what you've been told with random information."
A frown wrinkled her brow. Logically she knew that her sister was probably right. But it didn't feel that way. Some part of her was sure that if she just stretched her mind far enough, she'd be able to remember everything. And, surprisingly, Renesmee found that she wanted to remember. All the trauma and headaches in the world would be worth it if she could catch one glimpse of her birth mother's face.
Her muscles clenched, a fist closing around her lungs. "I hate the feeling I get when I wake up like this. Like I've been hollowed out."
Claire's warm hand reached across to touch her face. "You're not, though. You're here, and you're breathing, and you're real." Her tinkling laugh bounced between them. "You still have the coldest skin I've ever felt… but you're fine."
"Yeah," Nessie agreed, "fine." She couldn't quite make herself believe it, though.
Her sister's knowing gaze bored into her. "Do you want me to stay up here with you?"
She gave a tiny nod, pulling the covers up to her chin. Claire burrowed under the blankets. Once she was situated, she scooted forward and wrapped her arms around Nessie. "This will all look better in the morning. Maybe you can talk to mom and dad, get some answers. You're more than old enough to know whatever you want."
Nessie was already halfway asleep as her sister's drowsy suggestion reached her ears, and she only managed a sleepy slur of agreement before her eyes drifted closed. Sometime during the night, a low, exhausted voice wisped across the dreamscape, drawing out her name in taxed breaths: "Re – nes – mee." By morning the only remaining trace of the memory was the faint smile on Rensemee's lips. Everything else had faded into oblivion, chasing after the nightmares that preceded it.