Heyas. Well, this is my new one, which has taken over my mind. I really hope you like it - I've worked so hard on it. Don't worry - I'll be updating my other stories soon, just need the finishing touches to those, and I've a week off next week (yesss) so I'll have loads more time to write. Anyway, for now, enjoy this and please let me know what you think. Rated M, coz it's a bit dark, and plus Brady likes to curse a lot. ;)

Sweet Sacrifice

Chapter One: Easier To Run

Something has been taken, from deep inside of me

A secret I've kept locked away, no one can ever see

Wounds so deep they never show, they never go away

Like moving pictures in my head, for years and years they've played...

It's easier to run


Nicole

I had only one place in the whole world, where it actually felt like I belonged there. Anywhere else, I had to conform to what people wanted me to be, what people expected me to be. I always tried, even though I should have learned my lessons long ago. You see, nothing I did was ever good enough. I didn't have anywhere to belong.

Except here. 'Here' wasn't much; a tiny clearing, just within the boundaries of the forest. A small brook trickled by me, the calming sound of water adding to the simple sounds of the wind in the trees, and the music that flowed from my beloved guitar. I strummed it gently, letting the sound of my favourite song fill the air around me, letting me escape for a while.

I taught myself to play, and I liked to think I was pretty good. Music provided such a positive distraction from everything that was messed up in my life, and I always felt a tremendous relief when I could escape to here, my place, with my guitar. This was the only place where I wasn't judged for what I looked like, or how I acted, or for existing, generally.

I shouldn't have been born. I know that's a terribly dramatic statement, but it doesn't even upset me, because it's so true. I had been a mistake, an unwanted accident. That's why my real mother gave me away. She didn't want me. I was never supposed to have been born.

And even now, I couldn't see the point in my life. Every day, I was constantly criticised, constantly frowned upon, constantly left out of everything, and every day consisted of me struggling by on my own. Because my adoptive parents didn't want me either.

You think that the title 'adoptive parents' meant something. You'd think it meant that they loved me. You'd think it meant that they cared about me, about my future, about my thoughts and opinions and beliefs. You'd think it meant they wanted me around them. Legally, if not biologically, I was their daughter, and you'd think that meant something.

It has never meant anything.

They don't even know I can play the guitar. If I told them, they wouldn't care. I'm just that girl who lives in the house with them. They don't know me. They have never made any effort to know me. I've wondered countless, countless times why they even bothered adopting me. They've never showed any form of affection towards me. I don't think they even like me. What were they even thinking?

I mean, they had Tyler, their biological son, their pride and joy… Had they really needed another child? Had they ever really needed, or wanted me?

No. They didn't want me. They didn't need me. They must have realised their mistake soon after adopting me, but they couldn't exactly bring me back, like I was some piece of clothing or a damaged CD. So they just never tried. I brought myself up, taught myself right from wrong, and learned that I've never been wanted by anyone.

I spent so many years resenting them, hating them fiercely, being so goddamn angry with them. Surely I deserved to be loved and wanted? Surely any human being deserved love and affection from their parental figures? If my adoptive parents hadn't really wanted another child, why couldn't they have just left me alone? I could have been adopted into a family who had truly wanted a child, truly wanted me. Why did they have to take that away from me, only to provide me with an upbringing void of hugs and praise and attention? What had they hoped to achieve?

Well, they hurt me. They've royally screwed me up. I can't trust anyone now, because I can't trust that they really want or need me in their life. I will never believe it if they say it. I'm convinced I'm not the type of person anyone can love, anyone can want, anyone can need. I'm just someone who passes the time. I'm just someone to attach a label to. Daughter. Friend. Girlfriend.

They will label me, but it will never mean anything.

My old boyfriends never treated me like I was worthy of their affection, either. They asked me out because of the way I look and the way I dress. I look interesting, I dress interesting. I'm the girl with the bright blue hair and the quirky clothes. She stands out. But those guys quickly found out how boring I am behind my appearance, and how horribly needy and clingy I can get, so desperate for reassurance, and they didn't like it. They never lasted more than a couple of weeks.

Yet I was always heartbroken, every time. And I cursed myself for thinking it would ever be any different.

I was screwed up. No wonder they never wanted me. I could never do relationships right.

And my friends… were not my friends. Every day I was surrounded by fake, material girls, who backstabbed and bitched and bullied and hated, because they were so insecure in themselves and jealous of other people. They only hung around with me because I drew attention to myself, and they wanted a little bit of attention too. I hung around with them, because occasionally they would compliment me or ask my opinion on something, and then I'd feel important. But they didn't really care.

I can't really explain why I dyed my hair blue and bought a load of unusual clothes. I just wanted to be taken notice of for once. I just wanted to remind everyone that I was still here, still breathing. I think I just craved attention, because I never received it. I wanted to know I was accepted, somewhere, somehow, even if it was just for that girl with the blue hair.

See how dysfunctional and complicated I am?

I don't know why I bothered, sometimes. I could be the most different person in the whole universe, the most interesting, the most unique, and yet still no one would pay any attention to me. It was obvious that I was going to spend all my life alone, never finding anywhere to fit in.

And the truly sad thing about that was the fact I had already kind of accepted this.

I was resigned to the fact that one would could possibly ever want me. I was just an awkward, inept, useless excuse for a sixteen year old girl. All I ever did was play my guitar, conform to that Nicole who everyone expected to see every day, and then daydream the rest of the hours away.

My daydreams were simple. Living on my own in a small town by a beach, far away from Forks. Busking at the side of a road with my guitar, earning barely anything, but loving it anyway. Having a simple, carefree life. Never needing to be anything other than who I was.

Just… anything but this.

I hated Forks. I hated the people. I hated who I was. I wanted to be somewhere else, and maybe find the real Nicole. I knew I sounded like such a cliché, but I never had any clichés in my life. Everything, everyone, was cold. I had to struggle so hard to find anything that would put a smile on my face.

Was it really too much to ask to have a reason to smile?

Obviously for me, it was. Some days I wondered why it had to be me, and what it was about me that had deserved to be left alone, unwanted and unloved. But I always remembered.

I wasn't supposed to have been born. In an ideal world, according to my real mother, according to my adoptive parents, according to my superficial friends and my one-dimensional ex-boyfriends, and even according to me, I shouldn't even exist.


Brady

My ears pricked in the direction of the familiar noise.

A guitar. What the fuck? Who is playing a guitar in the middle of the forest?

I shook my head, rolling my eyes. I'd seen and heard it all now. And I'd seen and heard some pretty weird shit.

I didn't have to investigate. I could just carry on with my patrolling and ignore it. But I was curious. And I was also critically bored.

Sam had stuck me patrolling with the younger wolves, and I felt like I was babysitting without being paid. And I had always hated children, anyway. Lee was messing around, as usual, and Heath and Josh were betting and racing each other, as usual. It was the same old story.

There was never anything interesting to do anymore.

We'd made the truce with the vampires a year ago. Jacob's pack were pretty good friends with them, something I found slightly bemusing. Seth, one of my best friends, was good mates with one - Edward, I think his name was. Personally, I didn't know how he could be friends with the very reasons we were the way we were; I hadn't particularly wanted to be a giant wolf when I grew up. But you know, each to their own and whatever.

Sam was friendly enough with them, but other than that he kept us separate from Jacob's pack. I rarely got to see Seth anymore, which fucking sucked. But Collin and I did make the effort to go see him when we all got a chance. Sometimes I missed it, when we were all in the one pack, and everything was simpler. With two packs everything was a little bit fucked and confusing.

My pack was irritating me. Sam, Jared and Paul might as well be their own elite little gang. Just because they had all imprinted, and had some sort of bond. That meant it was just Collin and me a lot of the time. The other seven were all way too young when they transformed, all thanks to the army of assholes who came to visit us a year ago. So now we had seven thirteen to fifteen year olds running riot, all too tall and built for their ages. And they all came to me when they had a problem. What the fuck?

Well, I suppose I was better than nothing. Sam was too intimidating to them. Jared was always with Kim. Paul snapped too easily, and he was always with Rachel anyway. That fucking imprinting thing was so annoying, and sappy. I don't know why they didn't just go to Collin; he was a nice guy, he had feelings and shit. Tweens-R-Us thought I was 'cool', apparently, but I was shit for advice. I hadn't a clue what I was doing myself, half the time.

But whatever. Most of the younger guys were alright, and being inside their heads wasn't too much of a chore. They were all fairly innocent-minded, and for some reason I felt very protective of that. There was just so much shit in the world, and they didn't need to hear the thoughts of Sam, or me, who had already learnt that lesson.

We had a girl in the pack too, Louise. She was struggling, getting used to being a wolf and having to cope with being inside the heads of all of us guys. Sometimes I thought maybe getting Leah to talk with her might help her out a bit, but I hadn't seen Leah in months, and I didn't really feel like seeking her out; we had never really gotten along.

I was the type of guy who blurted out stuff without thinking. Stuff I said always came out wrong. Plus, I was kind of an asshole sometimes, even I would admit that, and I swore too fucking much and any normal person would be instantly put off by me. But I wasn't about to change - to hell with that. The people who shared my head accepted me, and that was all I wanted.

Because I was bored, and had nothing else to think about, and was uninterested in hearing the thoughts of Lee and Heath and Josh and Karl as they all joked about, I followed the sound of the guitar. Whoever was playing it, played it well. 'Wonderwall', by Oasis. I couldn't hear any singing, but I recognised it nonetheless. My curiosity grew the closer I got to the sound of the music.

When I was a few feet away, I debated whether or not to transform. I didn't want to freak whoever it was out, if they heard me rustling around in the bushes. The last thing that the packs wanted was another bear alert or whatever the fuck, people traipsing up and down the woods searching for us. or for what they thought we were. It was just unnecessary hassle. We had enough on our hands anyway, trying to control the younger wolves, who seemed to like picking fights with their former bullies and almost transforming in front of their whole schools. Never a good idea.

I decided to transform, and I threw on the black sweats that I had had tied to my left back paw. I inched closer towards the music, listening. I could hear every individual strum. I could hear a brook. I could hear breathing, a heartbeat.

Through a small break in the trees, I could see the clearing. There was a girl, sitting cross-legged in the grass, the guitar balancing on her lap. She had long, bright blue hair. My eyebrows raised. Interesting. I could only see her profile, but she was pretty. She was small, thin, delicate. Long lashes, and her eyes were… baby blue, I thought. Her hair was striking; the more I stared at it, the more it appealed to me.

Maybe she was a rebel. Maybe she had been bored one day. I didn't fucking know. But I was interested.

Just so you know, I don't make a habit of chatting up random girls. Fuck that shit. No girl was going to want me, anyway, what with all my dazzling fucking charm. I had given up on dating, because this stupid, pathetic little part of me was waiting for my imprint.

I wasn't convinced it was going to happen for me. I didn't believe it would. But I still hoped. Sad, I know.

But looking at this girl, there was something about her that intrigued me.

Without thinking, I stepped out of the trees to approach her, forgetting that she had no idea I was there.

Seeing me in her peripheral vision, she jumped, the music stopping abruptly, and I heard her intake of breath. Her eyes locked with mine, wide with shock.

Oh, holy fucking shit.

That was my last sane thought.

Then my whole world just fucking flipped on me, so that everything keeping me grounded was up in the air, and I would have been left with nothing, if it wasn't for her. She was keeping me on the ground.

Because she was my world.


Nicole

The silence in the clearing was very loud.

I had stopped playing, due to fright, mostly. This guy had appeared from absolutely nowhere, and he had stopped dead, staring at me.

I was a little unnerved.

There was a moment in which we both just stared at each other.

He was gorgeous. Tousled black hair. Bronze skin. He wasn't wearing a shirt, and he had the most amazing body - he had more muscles than I'm sure he knew what to do with. Everything about him was perfect. He was insanely hot.

But I stopped drooling over him, because I was confused. I began to feel a little wary. I wasn't sure if I should have felt afraid or not, but there was something about him that told me I had nothing to fear. I had always been a believer in following my gut instincts. It wasn't like I had anyone else to advise me, anyway, or save me.

I didn't feel afraid of him.

Maybe I should have been. No one knew, or even cared, that I was here, all alone, somewhere in the forest. This guy could be a psycho for all I knew. But I didn't feel afraid of him.

I was just unsure.

I opened my mouth to speak, but I couldn't find a single word. I didn't know what to say. So I closed it again, and waited. His expression was still frozen on his face; that amazed, surprised expression. It made me curious. He looked like he had found something that had been lost for ages. That was the only thing I could compare it to.

Eventually, he spoke.

"Hi," was all he said. He had a beautiful, deep, gravelly voice.

"Hi," I replied, unable to think of anything better to say.

There was another short silence, and then he began to walk towards me hesitantly. There was something mystical in the graceful way that he moved, and I was unable to tear my eyes away from this strange, beautiful apparition.

Because he couldn't be real.

If he was real, he would have stayed well away from me, sensed the train wreck that I was, just like everybody else.

But, to my shock, he sat on the grass next to me, his eyes never leaving my face. His hand reached towards me, almost automatically, as though it had intended to take my limp, forgotten hand, but he stopped himself quickly.

I was perplexed.

"You play really well," he said quietly, gesturing towards my old and beaten guitar, which sat loosely in my lap. "I heard you playing."

"Thank you," I said, and I gripped it tighter, strumming again nervously. The music softly filled the air around us and we both sat there, unspeaking. I didn't know what to say. I had no idea who this guy was, and where he had appeared from, yet I couldn't explain why I felt so comfortable with him, so safe.

The atmosphere shouldn't be this clear, this relaxed. We didn't even know each other.

I met his eyes, searching for answers, wishing I could somehow get inside his head and find out what he was thinking. He gazed back, his eyes intense and gravitational. I couldn't look away.

I was hypnotised.

I didn't understand any of it.

"What's your name?" he asked suddenly, and I thought I detected urgency in his tone. But I must have imagined it. Why would anyone want to know my name, let alone urgently?

"Nicole," I answered, and he smiled suddenly, stunning me.

"I'm Brady," he said, and I nodded, attempting to smile back.

We were quiet again, simply gazing at each other. I wondered how long this strange peace between us would last.

Because anything directly involved with me disintegrated into tiny little pieces.

Anything that touched me was forever tainted.

I didn't know how to warn this guy. He should know. He deserved to know, he deserved not to be lead on. Because once he knew the real Nicole, he wouldn't want her. No one wanted her, or needed her, or would ever love her, after all.

But a sick and selfish part of me didn't want to warn him. It was telling me to stay with him a little while longer. I didn't want to explore these feelings, and find out what this meant, because it scared me.

So I did what I do best.

I ran away.


Brady

I stared after her, not quite sure what the fuck just happened.

She got up. She ran away. Without saying a word.

I was just stumped, too shocked to unfreeze myself and try and follow her. I couldn't make my feet move.

I didn't understand why she had just left like that. Had I frightened her? I didn't think so. I hadn't been able to detect any fear in her eyes, just uncertainty. Which was understandable. I wasn't quite sure what the fuck had happened myself.

I focussed my ears, needing to be able to hear her every footstep, her every breath, her every heartbeat, as she moved further and further away from me, because I couldn't bear to sit there without her. Her scent lingered with me, an ethereal reminder of her presence.

I listened to her heartbeat, and the sound of her breathing. The most significant sounds in my world.

I couldn't fucking believe it had happened to me. Me. I was probably the last werewolf in both packs who deserved an imprint. I never thought I'd be next, as much as that stupid, pathetic little part of me had wanted and wished for it.

Nicole.

She was perfect. She was amazing.

But I wasn't going to follow her, not today. She obviously needed space; I couldn't expect her to just fall into my waiting arms, as much as I really fucking wanted that.

There was something about her that triggered my protective instincts. Maybe it was because she was so small, so thin, so delicate. So breakable. But there was something else. Her eyes were haunted, and the depth or their uncertainty and doubts and lack of self-confidence had chilled me. She was so fucking fragile, and it was killing me.

But it would work out. It was meant to be. We were meant to be.

I just had to convince her that I would not break her. She could trust me. She could depend on me. And maybe, eventually, she could love me.

Tomorrow was going to be the start.

I would convince Nicole that it was OK, that I was OK.

I would convince her to place all her faith in me, all her trust, and I would show her that I would never let it be broken.

I wasn't a good guy, all the time. I was a fucking idiot, I fucked up a lot, I bumbled my way around, I jumped to conclusions, I said things I wasn't supposed to say, I swore too much, sometimes I was grumpy for no reason, and basically I was an all around asshole. But I would do better than that, I would be better than that. For Nicole.

Because she was my world.

And I'd make sure that she knew, and understood, and never doubted, that there would never be another time when she'd run away and I would not follow.


Easier To Run - Linkin Park.

Thanks for reading! No Seth yet, I know, but soon.

Lurrve xox :D