The Man With Few Words
"Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love."—Albert Einstein
Jacob Black was a man of few words.
He didn't exactly choose to be like this. This wasn't his attempt to be cool. It was simply the way he is and he simply could not help it.
No. That was a lie. He knew why he was being this. He knew why he became this angst-ridden, brooding beast. It was all because of her. He held his breath as her name flashed into his mind. Her pretty, pretty hair and slightly pained eyes. Slightly pained—but happy. She was happy without him. Happy with...him.
Him and her. They 'belonged' together. They 'loved' each other. They're 'destined'. What a load of bullshit. It was bullshit because it was true. Because it was irrefutable. He had desperately wanted her to pick him. She had many chances to. Before taking off to Italy, that day in the forest, standing on the altar of her wedding. He hoped that she would tear herself away from him, tear off her ring and jump into his arms.
Jacob Black's fantasy did not come true.
She did go to Italy and reunite with him. She chose him that day in the forest for all of eternity. She married him with such a radiant happiness that it made him mad with jealousy.
There was a hole in Jacob Black. A hole that no amount of Emily's pancakes, Sam's wisdom, or even Leah's heartbreak and the joy he got from knowing that there was someone else out there just like him, could ever fill.
Jacob Black was broken. And he didn't want to be fixed. Least of all by her. No, a different her. The girl with the colors.
Jacob Black hadn't spoken in a very long time. After all, he was a man with few words. In fact, he had stopped counting after the first few months. His pack grew frustrated and eventually gave up. They didn't recognize this man of few words. They wanted their Jacob back. The happy, optimistic Jacob with the lopsided grin. Jacob wanted that Jacob back too. Sure, he wanted to be happy and optimistic and smile. But without her, he simply didn't know how to be. He was a lost cause without her.
And so he ran. Jacob Black; Jacob Wolfe; Jacob-you're-my-best-friend-and-I-love-you-but-I-love-him-more, ran.
His paws had touched Canada, where the weather is unforgiving and harsh. His nose had took in the dry scent of Arizona, where he remembers she told him that it was once her home. He got his hair trimmed in Argentina, where the blazing sun scorched his nose and left him sunburned for the first time in his life.
For an entire year, he ran. He ran until his lungs were going to explode. He ran until he thought he was going to collapse onto the ground, dead. He ran until his muscles clenched and his veins pumped battery acid. Then he ran some more.
And when Jacob Black; Jacob Wolfe; Jacob-you're-my-best-friend-and-I-love-you-but-I-love-him-more; returned to his hometown of La Push, they all thought that he had returned. Their Jacob was finally back. They welcomed him with open arms and wide smiles only to realize, with crestfallen grimaces, that he wasn't. This 19 year-old Jacob had their Jacob's smooth, russet skin and his shaggy, matted hair. Yet, there was no happy, flashing beam. There was nothing in his deep, sunken eyes except the demons he so carefully hid.
Jacob Black returns to them with a hardened jaw and furrowed brows, his great, big, noble head incapable of any expression. This wasn't their Jacob. This wasn't even the angry, heartbroken Jacob. And in his place, there stood the man with few words.
Jacob Black had never seen so many colors on one girl before. He had never seen so many colors in his whole lifetime. All so bright and vivid that it didn't seem real to him at first. But there they were all right. Righteous and haughty, billowing and dancing with the wind at the edge of the trail.
Jacob hadn't expected to see this colorful girl. No, he didn't expect to see anyone at all. Ever since his return, Jacob had acquired a fondness for walking. Running? No; he was tired of running. Instead, he took long walks. Very long...sinuous...8 mile walks.
On this dreary, cloudy day, Jacob had been wandering aimlessly around the woods, ignoring Seth's constant whining in his mind by phasing back. As a human, it was much easier to block out their thoughts. It was still there of course, a quiet, subtle nagging at the back of his conscience, but at least its not heartwrenchingly clear like how it was in his wolf form.
Walking gave Jacob time to think. He's been doing a lot of that lately. He'd just think and let his feet carry him back home. Then he'd sit on the couch and think some more. And once in a while, when he decides that he was starting to reek, he'd take a shower.
This was his routine. He didn't sleep much. Didn't eat much. Didn't talk much. What does Jacob think about, people might ask. Well...everything, he guesses. But mostly her.
His feet carry him onto a worn trail that leads back into town. The wind's starting to whip up but he can barely feel it as it laces through his tangled hair. He shoves his hands into the pocket of his sweatpants and starts a leisure stride.
And it was here. On this trail. On this fateful, cloudy day, that he encountered her.
At first, Jacob was surprised. Which is strange, because nothing surprised him anymore. He came to a complete stop in the middle of the road and did a double-take.
Jacob Black had never seen so many colors on one girl.
She stood facing out the edge, down a steep trench of earth and grass. Her raven tress is as black as midnight, waves that fell like a waterfall, tumbling down to her elbow. But in this instance, flew out behind her like some inky, velvet cape.
And she wore...oh God, if Jacob could've laughed, he would've. She wore a pale lavender cardigan, sleeves rolled up. A sky blue button up beneath, pinstriped with white, and a thin braided brown belt that cinched both the shirt and the cardigan to her tiny waist. A strange-looking knit scarf with varying shades of turquoise and orange clashing together, wrapped snugly around her slender neck. She had on a gypsy skirt that went down to her knees, splashes of color and pictures painted on them like cavemen drawing on walls. With her lime green stockings and fire-engine red boots and matching red gloves, she looked like how a person would look like after a box of IcePops threw up all over them.
But Jacob Black just thought she looked dazzling.
After all, he wasn't sure how anybody could dress like that could still manage to look dignified with her head held high and hands—curled into fists—on her narrow hips. Jacob thought that she looked rather proud for one so small. She probably couldn't even sweep his chest. Short and thin as a rail. But adorned with color.
Jacob Black had never seen so many colors on one girl. But she looked like she belonged out there. Her and all her colors.
Frozen in his path, bare-foot and bare-chested, Jacob felt grossly underdressed. And dull.
As if she could feel his searing, burning gaze trained at her back, the colorful girl turned. She looks startled by his presence, or perhaps it was his size. Her delicate, angular face is blank. Her eyes, framed with curly lashes, are dove gray, softening the otherwise bold features, which consisted of slashing cheekbones and a chiseled jaw.
She blinks her cat-like eyes. Jacob raises a brow. The girl breaks into a sheepish grin and holds up a map, "I'm afraid I'm terribly lost." Her soprano is crisp and clipped.
But she didn't look lost. Not to him.
It's Jacob's turn to blink. He didn't know what she expected him to do upon this revelation. So he just continues to stand there like a dumb brute, hands stuck in his pants. She tilts her head, and he notices that she's wearing a hairband wound around her forehead, a large daisy—and from what he can tell, a real one—was clasped there by it.
Taking slow, deliberate steps towards him, she asks, "Are you lost too?"
Jacob blinks again. He's starting to think that it's all he's capable of doing. The presence of the colorful girl made his chest constrict for some reason. She made his blood run a little faster. Bewildered, Jacob furrows his thick brows. He supposes that she took this as an affirmative that he didn't know where he was going too. Which, in a sense, he didn't.
So she resorts to studying the map again, scowling with hopeful conviction. Tugging on the ends of her jet-black hair, she reaches into a sunflower yellow messenger bag and pulls out a compass. She points her little index finger in the air and turns it correspondingly as the compass swivels, gathering its bearings.
The compass stops. And she frowns. "Hmm." She hums, pulling at her long waves again.
Jacob covers the distance between them with two strides. He studies the map only for an instance before silently taking it from her hands and flipping it right side up.
Embarrassed, the girl grins, "Ah, yes. But of course." She holds up the compass again. Her finger swaying. "We should be heading in..." She points left, in the direction he had came from. No, that's not right. But Jacob doesn't tell her that. Her finger then turned drastically, to the opposite side, "That way." She beckons to him with a wave of her arm when she sees that he's still glued to the ground, "C'mon then."
Jacob detects a bit of a Southern twang from her voice. Alabama or Gerogia. One of those quaint milk states.
They walked in silence for a bit, but it was a nice silence. With the girl making marks on her map and checking her compass. Her silky hair shimmied with the breeze and she smelled nice. Like flowers and the ocean.
The girl puts away her map and gives him a hesitant smile. Her stormy eyes are pale and glassy, like a window. "Do you live around here?" She starts conversationally, hands bound behind her back. Her scarlet boots are flat and made wet, squishy noises with her every step.
Jacob purses his lips and nods.
She nods too, staring at her feet, "I haven't seen you around." She admits with a slight crease in her arched brows, "But I've only just moved in two weeks ago. I thought I'd get myself familiarized with the whole place, you know." She pulls at her inky locks, a habit of hers, he imagines. "I didn't expect to wander in this deep...or get lost." Her sly grin made his chest burn. She peers up at the sky with her smoky eyes, smoldering as she squints. "Looks like it's gonna rain."
Jacob purses his lips and nods.
"The weather here gets pretty awful, doesn't it? But I rather like the rain..." The girl walked with a spring in her step. Almost as if she were dancing. And she flailed her arms about for emphasis. Jacob noticed that there was a very awkward grace with her, for every once in a while there would a clumsy break in her fluid step and she would appear to stumble, like taken by surprise.
Jacob couldn't really concentrate on what she was saying. Probably because it was all just nervous ramblings. But he nodded in places he thought was appropriate and kept his eyes forward. He had no idea what she was talking about, but he liked the way she talked. In fact, he found her intriguing. He found her colorful clothes and crisp voice comforting.
He thought of her. How she never wore colorful clothes. How she never had flowers in her hair or smelled like the ocean. And he grew a little angry. The corners of his mouth twisted into a scowl. Why doesn't she? Why couldn't she stand in front of him like the colorful girl did, and looked like she belonged?
His blood thundered in his ear and his chest ached with something fierce. A deep, burning fire brewed within him as he realized that her metallic gaze was not gray, but rather...silver, and that her mouth was very red. His head snapped over in an instant and he blurts involuntarily, almost like a brain fart, "What's your name?"
There goes his vow of silence. His voice, which is usually already husky, is now a deep croak. The muscles in his jaw were sore from being clenched shut for so long. His lungs felt squeezed.
The girl stopped walking for a moment and in that awkwardly graceful way of hers, staggered. Her silver eyes are glimmering like tinsels on Christmas trees. She tilts her head again, as if trying to recall rather or not she's mentioned it before. She resumes walking, and she chimes in her staccato, "January."
No, Jacob wanted to say. It's October.
She must've noticed the confusion on his face because she peered deep into his sunken eyes with her own glittering ones and clarified, "My name is January. January Jansen."
They're strolling down the road in that casual speed again. Jacob Black tries the name out on his stiff tongue, "Jan-U-airy."
She's turns and hums, "Hmm?"
The corners of her mouth twitched. Jacob noticed that it was a very sweet smile. Like she found the sound pleasing. It kinda made his throat swell. She hooks a strand of silk black hair behind her ear. He found it a little mesmerizing. "How 'bout you, stranger?"
It takes him a few moments to realize that she was asking for his name. It wasn't that Jacob didn't want her to know his name. It wasn't that it was some big secret. He just didn't want to get too attached to her. He blinks and purses his lips.
"Jacob." But he wanted her to know his name. "Black." He wanted her to say his name in that funny articulated way of hers.
And she didn't fail him. "Jay-cub." She drawls. He found her Southern twang charming. He found all of her charming. Her colors and her flowers and her unusual name. "Jay-cub. Juh-cake." She crinkles her nose when she laughs. Her laugh is loud and uninhibited. It was real and true. He remembers her laugh, which always sounds more like a cough, hesitant and miserable. He wished that she could've laughed like January.
They had stopped yet again and judging from the look of the clouds, they were going to get caught up in the rain if they didn't pick up their pace. He could smell the rain. The dampness in the air, the sogginess of the ground, and the faint scent of gardenias.
He took bigger steps, his arms swinging freely by his side. January struggled to keep up, almost working up a brisk jog, her cheeks rosy from the cold. Her colors leaped with her, coal black tress flying.
Something deep inside Jacob Black ached. Something near his chest, something that made his pulse pound within his ear. Jacob Black felt as if he was on fire. Not the way he felt before he phased, that inexplicable anger, but rather a slow, burning flame. As if the girl with all her colors and her silver eyes had crawled under his skin and set up camp inside of him.
And there goes the brain fart, that burst of energy not even the man with few words could restrain, "Where are you from?" But if Jacob was embarrassed, he didn't show it. He just inclines towards her with his hollow, sunken eyes.
She blinks, and if she were surprised by his remark, she didn't show it. "North Carolina." She replies with ease, seemingly a little more relaxed now that he's joining in with the conversation. "Daddy taught at Duke. English Literature professor." That would explain her enunciation skills. "Mama stayed at home mostly but she had piano classes, although I never really picked up on it real well, I just couldn't sit still..."
He hung onto her every word like a pathetic puppy. He would absorb all the information and store it in the back of his mind. And the questions flooded out of Jacob Black naturally. He couldn't stop them. Not even a goddamn dam could stop them. He had to know her. He needed to know her. He...wanted to know her.
Did you go to Duke?
"No. When I graduated, I packed my bags and went to New York. Studied at NYU for three years. Liberal and visual art. I couldn't paint to save my life but I liked learning about it. I had this wild, rebellious dream that I would go to a big city and see the world, you know. Do exciting things? Make a name for myself?"
Her smile is sad. Her gaze, more charcoal than metallic. "Not really." She answers softly.
The man with few words only waited a beat. Why are you here?
She seems to perk up at that, "I moved here! New York was...a little too much for me and I was much too ashamed to go home. So I thought I'd take a break, you know. Just...settle down for a year or two. Take it easy."
Jacob Black wanted a break. Jacob Black wanted to settle down. Jacob Black wanted to 'take it easy'. But she wouldn't let him. She'd haunt him day and night with the smile she saved just for him and make his head spin with dreams he could never achieve. She was cruel to him like that.
"—Jacob? Did you see that?" Her gunmetal irises pierced through his dark, empty pupils. "Jacob!" She points her compass finger towards the woods. "There was a bear, Jay-cub. I saw it!"
Jacob could still see it, melting itself against the pending darkness. It was Embry. His gaze directed curiously at the girl. Jacob's eyes narrowed and an explosion of anger bloomed inside of him. Gruffly, he urges her forward by stepping in front, "I don't see anything."
She tilts her head in a familiar gesture, that big, dumb flower still cinched into her hair. She pulls on her raven waves. "Are there bears in the woods, Jay-cub?"
The man with few words didn't know what to say to the colorful girl. So, he just shakes his head.
He knew she was still uncomfortable but that was forgotten as she launched into an encounter of her own. He liked how feverent she was. And he liked how her words are crisp but her voice, dewy. He liked how her silvery irises always peered at him with wonder and secrecy, as if the she's telling him things only he's allowed to know.
"When I came here yesterday, I saw a duck crossing."
Jacob Black waited for the big reveal. And...the duck took forever? And she killed the duck for being so slow? And Jesus parted the path like how Moses parted the Red Sea and the duck crossed to safety?
Jacob Black didn't say anything. He just blinked.
And January Jansen's face fell a little. She raises a very arched brow and demands, "Do you see ducks crossing a lot?"
Jacob Black wanted to smile. He would've if his hard mask allowed movement. He feared that if he were to grin at her silly story, his face would've cracked—or fell apart.
They walk on for a few silent moments and it wasn't until he looked down, that he found her looking up at him. She was just so elfishly small. She's grinning softly, and she touches the flower in her velvet hair.
"You don't talk much." She says. It wasn't phrased as a question; a statement.
The man with few words shakes his head. "No." He answers and she seems put-off so he adds, "I used to."
She blinks, "And?"
Jacob Black; Jacob Wolfe; Jacob-you're-my-best-friend-and-I-love-you-but-I-love-him-more, shrugs his broad shoulders. "And...it didn't help."
Talking did not make her stay. It did not convince her that he was the one she needs to be with and not him. It did not make any difference whatsoever. Talking was useless. At least with silence, he could curl up in the space between the words and turn his back on the loneliness.
January Jansen; the girl with the colors; the girl with a flower in her hair, lets her red lips curve into a slight smile. "Ah." She murmurs before making an abrupt stop. She glides over to the edge of the trail in that clumsy, agile way of hers and picks out a blood red poppy. The color of the crimson petals matched her gloves. She dances back to him and stands on her very tiptoes.
And Jacob Black just stands there; immobile.
Very slowly, she pushes the stem behind his ear, her slender arms straining until she manages to tuck it neatly among his tousled mane. "But when you're sad, you need to hear your sorrow structured into sound." Her eyes, light as the rain, are glowing.
Jacob Black; Jacob Wolfe; Jacob-with-a-flower-behind-his-ear. Jacob's heart burned. His heart—which he thought was nonexistent throbbed.
Jacob Black had never seen so many colors on one girl before.
The Man of Few Words has always been like a little pet project of mine and it's been brewing in my mind for...quite a while now, actually. I have pages upon pages of scribbled notes and you would not imagine the things I've got planned. I mean, most of them are to be eliminated but I definitely have a few directions I want to take it.
I think that, you know, this story's definitely written in a different style than I'm accustom to and I'd love to hear your thoughts on it. Tell me what you think about this Man of Few Words and our impish little January Jansen and their first meeting.
Feedback is always much appreciated.
I'd also like to dedicate this story to my bestie, Jen, who--without her, I would be nothing and to AneleTiger, who gave me the big final inspiration for this story that gave me the push I needed to post it. Her story 'The Newtonian Law of Gravity' is seriously amazing and the Jacob part of the short story in it 'The Lost and the Found' is the BOMB! Check it if you haven't already!
Love you all,