AN: The lyrics are from the song "The Crimson" by Atreyu. This story was written in response to the prompt: crimson on the LJ community sortofbeautiful.

Disclaimer – I do not own Twilight or "The Crimson" or profit from the use of their content.



The Crimson

First, there is shock and nothing else.

There is shock because for the third time in my short life, a vampire is reaching, tearing, stealing into my veins and siphoning away my blood. My blood. My blood.

There is nothing else because there has been nothing since Edward left—escaped—and my reaction time is slowed with the need to think, think, think about how I should feel.

Scared. I should feel scared.

But eventually I quit processing the shoulds and start processing the now. Like the way Laurent's tongue is pressing down at the wound on my neck over and over, forcing the blood to well up and out and down his throat. I worry that I'm going to run out soon—out of blood, out of time—and it's the first time I've been worried for myself in so long that I know this must mean something.

As the darkness sets in, so does the realization that I don't want to die. I want to scream and cry and feel pain, but I. Don't. Want. To. Die.

And as if the intensity of my thoughts struck out at him with corporeal force, Laurent is falling backward onto the ground yards away. With the loss of blood comes the loss of my sanity, and I imagine that my newfound resolve to live materializes in the form of a giant, snarling, russet wolf that hacks and tears into marble flesh.

Yes, my resolve is that white-hot; it is angry because I am going to die anyway.

I feel it welling up inside
And Robert Smith lied,
Boys do cry and with
Blood tears in my eyes I'm an Anne Rice novel come to life.

The pain is inexplicable. There are no words…

There is a scorching fire and the smoldering ashes I rise from. I rise but do not live. I open my eyes but do not awaken. I take in oxygen but do not breathe. I cry but there are no tears.

Jacob has tears. They run down his face—telling me he knows, somehow Jacob knows—in shinning wet trails that I can make out from across the clearing where I huddle completely lost on the ground. Jacob clings to the trunk of an old, sturdy pine that has seen love and death but has never witnessed the former triumphing over the latter. Strained, shaking fingers sink into the bark until they bleed. Then they sink further.

I gag and bury my face in the damp dirt.

I can't hide the monster… anymore.
One can, only feel desolate for so long until
One starts to change into
Something the mirror doesn't recognize.

The moon goes nowhere, but the sun…the sun eventually begins to rise.

I haven't moved, but Jacob has slowly—painfully, as if every inch costs him a piece of himself—s l o w l y crept closer during the night. He's all I hear: his heartbeat, his breaths, and his whispered mantra of, "Still Bella. Still Bella. Still Bella."

"No," I want to say, "I'm still, but I'm not Bella, not your Bella. Your Bella drank warm sodas, tripped over air, blushed over everything, and talked in her sleep. I can't even look you in the eye." I want to say this, I do, but I still…I still want to live, so I don't say anything.

He stops some three feet away, just as the sun's rays slither from the dewy grass and onto my exposed hand. Of the two of us, I'm the one that flinches. The jerky movement sends rainbows flying, and Jacob stares. He stares long and hard, as I watch his expression through a curtain of my silky, unnaturally smooth hair.

He shudders, frowns, wipes blood-encrusted hands down his face.

And when he opens his mouth, I'm not sure what to expect, but I certainly don't anticipate, "Bells, I have to explain…" He trails off until he's certain he's caught my red eyes. "I'm a werewolf, and, Bells, you're…you're a…"

I nod.

Neither of us can say IT.

The darkness has been biding its time
To claim its latest victim,
Fresh meat for carnal desires,
To become, what I became.
I viewed the sun for the last time.

I stay that way for three days. During the first, the wolves descend. They come loping into the clearing, hackles raised, noses to the ground, and gunning for me.

But it's Jacob I'm terrified for as I look up at him and plead, "Run, Jacob. Run now!"

And he does. He runs. He runs right toward the approaching, snarling beasts, and complete terror seizes me for the three second it takes before he EXPL—legs lengthening, hair sprouting, muscle rippling, jaws snapping—ODES with a ferocious speed that my human eyes would've missed. As he lands agilely on four powerful legs, it's undeniable that Jacob IS a werewolf.

I hate myself for feeling relieved.

There is growling—lots of it—and circling—even more of this—and I haven't a clue as to what's going on. The wolves (Jacob) look at me often as I look at the glittering diamonds on my skin. Morbidly I wonder, if I chopped myself into little tiny pieces, how much I'd be worth—fleetingly an image of Alice fluttering about under the sun in a Bella-necklace and matching Bella-bracelet steals through my mind. (Now I can think about the Cullens and about the wolves looming over me at the same time without getting confused. I test this by thinking Edward and Jacob's name at the exact same moment. It works, but Jacob's comes out just a little bit louder.)

Eventually Jacob is Jacob again. No, that's not right. Jacob is always Jacob—but I'm not Bella, not anymore. Only now I can understand what's being said, and I've never seen Jacob look so pained, so fierce. The other faces—familiar but nameless—are fierce too.

"We have to get rid of it now," says the tallest; he looks tired with determination. And at first I'm confused until I realize 'it' is 'me'. I'm an 'it' now. Maybe he can't say IT either. "It's dangerous…"

It. It. It. IT.

"No!" Jacob exclaims. "She's…she's Bella. She needs help. My help. We have to…"

"Bella's dead, Jacob."

I nod, wish I could cry because I want to live.

The tall, tired, determined man speaks again, but this time there's something ultimate and unmovable in his voice. He says, "We're destroying it," and that's final.

Jacob deflates, looks destroyed, and suddenly I'm angry. I'm beside myself with rage that this tall, tired, determined man makes Jacob look broken and miserable. But before I can even give consideration to the idea of springing up and ripping off his tall, tired, determined face, Jacob is straightening, squaring his shoulders, and setting his jaw.


In perfect synchronization, the four men stumble back, eyes wide. I stare at Jacob too.

Now it is HIS voice that is ultimate and unmovable. "No one's going to touch her." And it's final.

The man is now tall, tired, and relieved.

Will you still hold me when you see what I have done?
Will you still kiss me the same,
When you taste my victim's blood?
So crimson and red,
I feel it flowing from your lips. (Crimson and red)
My heart is dead and so are you.

The second day is spent planning. Bella Swan has been missing for four days now, and Charlie hasn't stopped looking.

Jacob asks for my bloody shirt in exchange for one of his clean ones.

They're going to tell him I'm dead, and it doesn't feel like a lie.

On the third day, Jacob comes to sit by my side, the closest he's been to me since…(I wonder if our relationship will now be measured in spaces instead of touches.)

It's hard for him to be this close. I can tell by the stiffness in his body and the raspy quality of his voice when he says, "You've gotta get up, Bells. You've gotta eat. You've gotta live."

"Live?" I jump at the light tinkle of a wind chime sounding. My hands flash to my throat in shock. Is that me?

Jake mumbles something—even I can't make it out—about Bells and bells then clears his throat. "Yeah. From what I gather from—you know—credible sources like broody guys in black trench coats and an overly sarcastic stake-wielding blonde, you're probably getting…thirsty." He shifts uncomfortably when I stare at him in confusion. "I mean, don't you need blood to…"

Yes, I realize he's right—and my source is better than a late nineties teenybopper TV series. I need blood; I feel it in the weakness of my muscles, the shakiness of my breath, and the burning of my throat.

I need blood. But I don't want it. I'd rather drink tar.

"I can't…"

"Please, Bells."

Jacob Black is not pleading with me to drink blood. He's pleading with me to live. And damn it if he's not preaching to the choir.

For the first time, I allow myself a deep, encompassing breath, taking in the damp, earthy scent of the meadow, the poignancy of the surrounding moss-covered trees, the unpleasant tang of wild animals—was that supposed to smell appetizing? A shudder runs through me, but I can't push away the knowledge that I need this to survive.

I catch the heartbeat of something reasonably sized but hesitate before pursuing it.

Jacob watches me with what I'm sure he assumes is an unreadable expression. It's not. It's full of regret and aversion and, despite his words encouraging me to live, it makes me feel even less human.

I take off deep into the woods and stop to feed only when I'm absolutely sure he can't see or hear my inhumanity.

The blood does taste like tar, and, as it slides down my throat, I choke.

And it pulses through,
The desire to change, to deconstruct
All of my,
All of my, past failings.
But where to begin, because when you live in sin
It's hard to look at saints,
Without them reflecting your jet black aura back on you.

I run, run, run, and never get tired. Sometimes, Jacob runs with me. And even though he has four legs and I only have two, I'm still faster.

It's easiest for us like this—him a wolf and me a…IT. When Jacob's human, it's hard for me. He's so beautiful and warm (alive), and the contrast between us is devastating. Jacob knows this like he's always known everything about me, and so we run.

The pack is slow in coming around. Paul has no problem saying "vampire"—or "bloodsucker" or "leech" or "walking corpse"—and does so frequently, often with various obscenities and insults attached. The words are biting but I'm made of marble and don't even flinch.

Embry is the first to approach me. I'm sitting on the edge of a cliff swinging my legs back and forth as I watch the waves crashing below, when he settles down beside me. I don't even hear his approach—I was a poor excuse for a human and an even worse vampire.

"Sooo," he draws out nonchalantly, "you're pretty hot."

The comment is startling—no one has ever complimented IT Bella—and I whip my head up to stare at him with wide eyes.

He's looking me up and down unabashedly. "I'll give you twenty bucks to take your top off. Fifty for the whole deal."

I blink. And then strange, chiming notes are pouring from my lips, and it takes several moments to realize that I'm LAUGHING—not smiling, not giggling, but laughing. It's loud and melodious and music to my still heart.

There's a small, knowing smirk playing on Embry's lips. "I guess you don't really need money cuz you don't get to do much shopping, huh?"

I nod in amusement. It's true. Jacob brings me all my necessities.

He sighs as if this is a major setback. "Right, then let me cut to the chase. Bella," he declares, "I want to be friends with benefits."

My smile is poorly hidden—now that it's appeared for the first time in almost three months, it just won't go away. "With who?"

"With Quil," he scoffs, rolls his eyes. "No, with you. Obviously."

"Obviously." I tred carefully, not knowing exactly what it is he's up to—and he is up to something.

At my parroted response, he gives a small devilish smile. "Is that a yes?" And before I have a chance to respond in the negative, Embry's hand is on my thigh, fingers pressed up beneath the hem of my shorts as he leans in.

And then Embry Call is kissing me. I sit stock-still in stunned silence as he presses his warm, pliable lips against my cold, sturdy ones. It's a backwards kiss, not what I've had in the past (isn't the boy supposed to be cold?). When his slick tongue strokes my unmoving lips, any thinking sputters and comes to an abrupt halt.

He's at it for several seconds, and when he pulls away with a triumphant smile and says, "My work here is done" before scampering off, I still have no idea what he is up to.

And all I have is hope
My inner burn's not fading,
I'll wipe the blood from my cheek and get on with my day.

Two hours later I'm still staring gap-mouthed at the space Embry vacated, and it takes the duet of a pounding heart and pounding steps to pull me from me reverie. Jacob bursts from the tree line, and I'm on my feet and by his side in an instant—literally.

I flutter around him anxiously. His hair is a rumpled mess. Angry pink lines on his cheek suggest healing scratches, and a wound on his side is still dribbling blood.

"Holy crow, Jake! What happened? Was there an attack? Is anybody else hurt?"

A scowl twists his face as he snarls, "Just Embry."

"Is he—" But I don't get to finish. Jacob grabs my hips—the first time he's touched me since IT—and spins me around into a nearby tree with enough force to elicit a groaning protest from the wood.

And I'm being kissed for the second time that day. Jacob's lips are slow and purposeful, and I'm certain that if I were human they'd be bruising. His hand's on my thigh, running along the creamy length before hooking beneath my knee and hoisting it up to his hip. The other arm wraps around my waist and PULLS; we can't possibly be any closer, and his heat melts me to the core.

The next time I see Embry, I give him a really big hug.

Will you still hold me when you see what I have done?
Will you still kiss me the same,
When you taste my victim's blood?
So crimson and red,
I feel it flowing from your lips. (Crimson and red)
My heart is dead and so are you.

I lurk in the cover of the underbrush, crouched low to observe the buck deer undetected as it runs its antlers up and down the bark of a wide, towering tree. This hunter's instinct, this knowledge of when to wait and when to strike, comes naturally to me as it should, but it's been six months and I've yet to taste the pooling of venom in my mouth. The blood does not call to me, and all I can do is recollect vague words about human characteristics and vampire gifts, and none of it makes much sense. When I explained it to Jacob, he said it made perfect sense.

An unexpected snap of wood startles the buck, and when it turns its head away towards the source, I'm lunging, ensnaring, and biting before it even processes it's no longer alone. The fur and flesh give way like sawdust beneath my teeth. If I close my eyes—and I always do—I can't even feel the panicked writhing of the animal in my grasp; it's frenzied kicks and bucking strike me with the force of a butterfly landing on a child's finger.

I stop breathing as the blood seeps into my mouth, and my tongue flicks the warm, filthy liquid to the back of my throat to be consumed and converted into energy. Pull, flick, swallow. Pull, flick, swallow. Pull, flick…

A shift in the wind brings a powerful, familiar scent to my nose. My eyes flash open and meet chocolate brown orbs set in the fur of a russet face.

The deer bolts from my slack arms.

I stare—shocked, ashamed, afraid—and can't manage much else until a still-cooling drop of blood escapes past my lips to side down my chin. And then I'm the one bolting.

"No. No. No." is the mantra playing in my mind as I scamper away.

He wasn't supposed to see that. He's not supposed to see that side of me. Ever.

That's IT Bella, and IT Bella is a retched, inhuman thing that Jacob doesn't deserve. And dammit, why can't I cry?

The sobs come and come, but the tears NEVER do.

A high-pitched whine signals his pursuit, and even though I'm faster, he's gaining on me. Widely splayed paws catch the back of my calves, sending me face-first into the forest floor. I easily shake his weak hold loose—his intent is to capture not to wound—and in the space of a half-second, I'm back on my feet running.

Ten strides later, we collide again, only this time there is an arm around my waist, a hand gripping my thigh. We fall hard, and I twist around so I can push my hands against his chest to protect him from smacking into my stone body. He grunts in pain anyway.

Escaping the wolf was easy, but Jacob's human hold is unbreakable.

I tilt my head back just as the sky opens up and lets out a steady sprinkling of rain. The drops fall down my cheeks and finally—finally—I can cry.

Jacob crawls up my body, wipes his thumb across my chin, and then closely eyes the red-stained digit. Screwing my eyes shut doesn't stop me from seeing him, seeing his revulsion upon realizing what I truly am. I'm no longer an IT; I'm a vampire.


I keep my eyes closed.

His voice is all amused concern with a twist of hurt. "I wish you wouldn't run from me."

I give in and look up at him through barely parted lashes. "I'm sorry you had to see that."

"You kidding? I had a great view the entire chase," he teases, but it's not as lighthearted as he hopes.

Slowly I shake my head back and forth. "I'm so sorry, Jake."

His sigh is heavy and crushing. "Let's make a deal," he says quietly. "You don't apologize for being a vampire and I wont apologize for being a werewolf."


"Promise," he breathes against my ear before pressing his lips languidly against mine, hungrily sliding his tongue against mine. The appetizing sweetness of Jacob mixes with sour lingering of blood, and the staggering sensation is my undoing.

"Promise," I acquiesce in a breathless mumble, as he rains heady kisses down my neck.

And all I have is hope
And all I need is time
To bury in pine under six feet of time
The lies I told me about myself.
Claw my way out,
Pick the splinters from under my fingernails.
I won't lose hope,
I won't give in.

Jacob introduces me to Billy as his girlfriend from a foreign country—somewhere exotic sounding with too many syllables—located in the depths of the North Pole. It hardly ever gets any sun there and that's why I'm so pale. Apparently up north we've all become ectothermic through "the mysterious and unstoppable force of evolution." So really it can't be held against me.

"She's like an Eskimo but cuter."

I'm too nervous to find any humor in the explanation, but Billy does. He smiles, shakes my hand, and says it's a pleasure to meet me. The twinkle in his eye hints at more than just amusement.

My distaste for blood is the subject of much speculation and teasing in the pack, and sometimes Quil waves a pricked finger beneath my nose just to piss me off.

"I dare you to lick it," he goads, as I sit up on an elevated countertop watching him, Embry and Jacob work in the garage. Well, Embry and Jacob are working. Quil's just asking for it one too many times.

"Okay," I concede, clasping his wrist and bringing his hand to my mouth. It takes some control on my part not to grimace—werewolf blood tastes especially foul—and the closer I bring his bleeding finger to my lips, the wider Quil's eyes get.

The tip hovers between my opened teeth, and out of the corner of my eye I see Embry snickering and Jacob frowning. A knowing smile plays at my lips for a single instant before my mouth closes around his finger—all the way to the knuckle—and sucks.

Quil's cocky grin is replaced with shocked wonder as he stutters something incoherently.

A snarl sounds. And the awful taste is worth it when two seconds later, Jacob's massive form is between us, shoving Quil backwards with a warning growl reverberating through his chest.

I snake my arms around Jacob from behind until they clasp together over his broad chest. My chin resting on his shoulder, I look down at the red, shame-faced Quil and have to burry a smile in Jacob's neck.

Jacob's not as amused by my ploy, and that night I spend a lot of time making it up to him—but Quil doesn't ask me to suck his blood ever again.

Just live and breathe, try not to die again.
Just live and breathe, try not to die again.
Just live and breathe, try not to die again.
I try not to die again.

The cadence of time is often compared to the likeness of a river; it is a steady flow that moves one direction, carrying us on our journey through life, and never circling back around to be recycled from the start.

Time for me is like a puddle; there is no discernable end, no perceptible flow or current, and—if I wish—I can step over it and ignore its existence completely. That, I realize, is how the Cullens and most other vampires live. They walk around time, observing and patronizing, only occasionally venturing to stick in an appraising finger—and simply for the sake of remembering what it feels like to be wet.

Jacob makes me want to not only observe time, but engage it. With him I find myself not standing beside the puddle, but stomping and splashing in the middle until I'm soaked. Time is something to be appreciated, drowned in, and every drop should be filled with as many memorable moments as possible.

Together, Jacob and I live beneath a waterfall.

Will you still hold me when you see what I have done?
Will you still kiss me the same,
When you taste my victim's blood?
So crimson and red,
I feel it flowing from your lips. (Crimson and red)
My heart is dead and so are you.

There hasn't been a vampire spotted in Forks in three years—aside from me, and I hardly count. It seems the danger is gone, or at least temporarily absent, and with it goes the need for La Push's giant, fury protectors.

The pack is slowly starting to disband. Embry to college. Quil to Seattle. Sam to fatherhood. Everyone is moving forward. Including me.

The theory goes that as long as there are vampires in the region, Quileute boys will continue to change, continue to leave their regular lives behind in exchange for the demands of the werewolf. My presence is a hindrance in this instance.

But it's one thing to leave the Olympic Peninsula, and another thing entirely to leave Jacob.

As we sit side-by-side atop the driftwood log on First Beach, I explain to him that I can't linger here any longer, and he immediately responds in agreement—life should be about choices, and he views the wolf as a removal of those choices.

So for the next several minutes I completely devote myself to soaking up everything that is Jacob Black. I run my hands through his short black locks, trace the angular features of his handsome face, run my fingers over the muscles hidden by his shirt, and think about all of the times I've touched him like this before. Countless times.

My hands tremble at the thought of not touching him ever again.

"Bells?" he questions, enveloping my tremulous limbs in his hot grasp.

I shake my head over and over in denial of a life without him. "Jake…how am I going to leave you?" The task seems impossible.

He frowns. "What do you mean?"

Doesn't he understand that he is everything in my life worth having? An existence without him won't be living at all. He is the elusive sunshine, the breath of air, the falling tears, the beating heart. Take that away, and what's left? Just me. Just a vampire. Just Bella.

But his needs and wants come first, so I do my best to smile and whisper, "I love you" before relishing in a final kiss. (And to think I once preferred the cool marble to this furnace of feeling.)

Reluctantly I pull away, brushing a kiss along his knuckles just for an excuse to touch him longer. I'm glad—for once—that he can't see me cry. "I'll always be thinking of you," I tell him earnestly because some part of me always WILL.

Jacob looks confused again. "You going somewhere without me?"

"I just said that I need to"—the word catches in my throat—"leave." I cast my eyes to the sand and do my best to sound neutral despite the aching in my chest. "You agreed…"

"And what? You don't want me to come with you?"

"No. No, of course I want you, but…"


The list is a familiar one. "What about Billy? What about getting older and having a family? Children? Won't you get tired of me? I mean, do you really want to live forever?"

There is no hesitation. "Yes."

And I don't argue.

Will you still hold me when you see what I have done?
Will you still kiss me the same,
When you taste my victim's blood?
So crimson and red,
I feel it flowing from your lips.(When you taste my victim's blood)
My heart is dead and so are you.

There is a legend—tales—of a forsaken wolf god and his pale-faced lover, a woman so beautiful the angels barred her from heaven in a fit of jealousy. Together they meander the Earth, spiriting from pole to pole, quietly touching the lives of everyone they pass.

Those who've claimed to see them, swear the woman is faster, that her legs carry her over water and through mountains. The wolf…the wolf is always chasing after.

What they do not understand is that I am not running because there is a wolf on my heels. Rather, there is a wolf on my heels because I am running. Because I am alive.



AN: Wow, it's been forever since I've posted anything on . My writing style and fandom tastes have changed a lot since then, and I figured I'd just post my one-shot because no one would trust me posting a multi-chaptered fic (given my track record of not finishing them). So I'll wait until I'm actually done writing that one before I start posting chapters here, then no one will have to worry about being left hanging! Check out my profile for more info.

I'd love to hear all feedback and comments!