The Man With Few Words
"The greatest evil is physical pain." –Saint Augustine
They say that the hottest love has the coldest end.
January Jansen agrees, but only partially. Because when does love really end? Can you ever really stop loving someone completely? Or is love like a birthday present, something you give somebody when you feel admiration for them then they can give it back on their free will?
January Jansen is convinced that she could love Alexander forever.
Forever. What a beautiful word. She thinks 'forever' is lie. Nobody could really love someone forever; eternally. No love is everlasting. 'Forever' isn't realistic. 'Forever' isn't real.
But January wants it. Wants it, wants it, wants it. She wants someone to promise her 'forever'. She wants somebody to love her unconditionally. She wants someone to make her believe in 'forever'. She wants somebody to shake her, slap her, rattle her soul out of her body and tell her that they're going to be together for all of eternity rather she chooses to accepts it or not.
Because January is tired. She's tired of fighting. She's fought for so many things in her life. Some for revenge, some for a sense of self-righteousness, and some for her infallible pride. She supposes that fighting for love makes more sense than all the rest—but she's tired of that too. She's tired of the struggles, tired of lying and cheating, tired of dazzling men. She's just about out of wily beams, witty lines, and pretty dresses.
She's done with this. She craves stability over excitement.
January Jansen is convinced that she could love Alexander forever. Because although Alexander had never promised her the vastness of forever, she's sure that she's got enough fire in her to fight for one final thing. January doesn't need 'forever'. She just wants it.
January is not sure how the covers ended up back on the bed, but she's glad for the comfort it provides. The New York wind that's breezing through the balcony of Alexander's loft is drafty and unforgiving, clawing fiercely at her pale, bare skin, making her shudder. She crawls closer to him instinctively, draping herself over his smooth, lean back like some cheap rug. She presses her cold cheek against the defined planes of his shoulder blades and hums contently.
She knew he was awake. The steady rise-and-fall of his chest, the serene lines in his usually brisk features suggests otherwise, but she knows better. It's his eyebrows that give him away. It's the most expressive of all his little quirks. Alexander is good at suppressing emotions; good at keeping people guessing. But his brows betray him. They arch, furrow, drop. She thinks it's funny.
There's the faint remnants of a scar at where his shoulder meets his arm. A very light outline from where a switchblade had sliced through his expensive suit and sent him to the hospital that day they met. January almost wants to say she's glad for it. She leads her hand away, settling for tracing the provocative dip of his spine with the pads of her fingers.
She speaks softly, "It could be like this, you know. Always." Her heart swelled from inside her chest. Heat flooded her fingertips. She feels vulnerable and giddy.
"Like this?" Alexander repeats after her skeptically. "You mean—seducing me so that I'll sleep with you instead of going to work?" He chuckles, his cerulean eyes half-lidded and that sly grin that drives her crazy tugging on the corners of his mouth.
"That's part of it." She shrugs. The rush of adrenaline inside of her makes her invincible as well as a little fuzzy. She's not quite sure what she wants to say. She just knows she has to say something. Something to make him stay with her. "We can be together, Alex. We can be...more...than this."
Alexander props himself up on one arm. She slides down to the hollow of his chest. His heartbeat is strong and steady, not erratic or skittish like hers. He approaches cautiously, inquiring gently, "What exactly are you suggesting?"
"I mean," Her silvery eyes dart across the ceiling. She frowns, "Why aren't we together, Alex?" She seems to be asking herself more than him. Why is she with Peter? Does she love him? What keeps her from pulling away from him?
"Because you're with Peter." He responds smoothly. His face is perfectly blank. He seems unsure of where this might lead. It bewilders him slightly.
"I don't want Peter." January is serious now. She knows it because her throat is thick and she can't breath properly. She's done with fun and games. She wants him. Him and only him. She's done with this. "Why can't it be just the two of us?"
"It is just the two of us." Alexander seems frustrated and pained. His low, throaty voice turns comforting, "You know that, don't you?" She's not sure she does. She's not sure how much longer she can pretend she does. He took a deep breath, sensing the words she's unable to say, "We know that when we started this—" He didn't appear to know how to gesture the two of them either, "We know that it wasn't going to last. It's going to end when it wants to. We're here now. Together."
She doesn't want now. She wants forever.
She swallows and stares deep into his pale blue irises. "That's not enough." She tells him.
"That's all I can give you." His voice is deadly calm. He rolls out of the bed, slipping on a pair of slacks and closing the balcony doors. He leans against them, his back to her. "Please, Jansen. Don't make this any harder than it already is. Don't complicate things."
"I'll simplify it then." She slinks out, the covers draped around her shoulders. She glides in front of him and steels her eyes. She forces her gunmetal gaze on him despite the fact that she can't feel her legs and that her heart feels like it's trying to jolt out of her chest and climb into his. "Marry me, Alex."
If he's surprised by her request, he doesn't show it. "You know I can't do that." He says. He looks so alluring standing there, his sandy hair crinkled, his pale eyes bleached like the Carolina sky. January's never felt more insignificant or small. He reaches for her, kissing everywhere he can see. Her lavender eyelids, her sharpened cheekbones, her trailing dark hair. She wants to shrug him off, but she's a little numb, waiting for an explanation. "You're 21, Jansen. You're young and gloriously beautiful. You can have anything in the world. Everything you want can be yours."
"I want you." She states dumbly.
"I'm already yours." The clever, knowing smile flickers. Her skin jolts in an electrifying way that feels awfully heart-wrenching. The smile turns wistful, "I know how you think you know what you want. I know how you think it's me." He shakes his head, "But it's not."
"Peter is a good man." He continues. Alexander is ruthless. She doesn't understand how he can be so unfazed by all this. She doesn't understand how he can be so cruel to her. So unforgivingly cold. She wishes he would stop. Stop filling her head with foolishness and nonsense. "He's good for you, Jansen. I could not have parted with you for anyone less than him."
She glares, hurt; confused. She's a kicked puppy—like he picked her up from the pound, took her home, then decided that 'you-know-what, he's not really a dog person'. "Is this your answer then? That I'm not good for you?"
"Don't twist my words, Jansen."
She can't help but lash out. She can't accept it; the sting of rejection overwhelms her. "Is it because of Pam?" She demands fervently. "Not that you love me any less but that you love her more?"
"Don't do that, January. Don't do that to me." He warns lowly, punctuating each word as if he wants it to be a personal blow to her. He sounds a lot more hurt than she anticipated. It hurts her too. Her chest feels shattered.
"Don't make me then, Alex!" She snaps irritably. January hated yelling. She hates getting angry and raising her voice. It doesn't change anything but in the heat of the moment, she can't stop herself. She can't stop her heart from hammering or her throat from drying. She thought she might explode. "We could like this. Forever." She makes one last attempt. One last charm to draw him back.
But Alexander backs away. His words carving an imprint into her, "We can't be together, January. We can't be what you want us to be. So, please. Don't ask that of me." His glacial eyes are pleading, but she can't seem to bring herself to forgive him like all the other times he wounded her with his logic and reasoning. "We can't be together. Because you can't love me the way I want you to."
Alexander Mahone will forever be the one that got away.
The one who took her heart and never gave it back. The one who she turned herself inside-out for. She can't help but be in pain. She can't help but be the damsel-in-distress. She can't help but be angry and vulnerable and frustrated. She wants to forget him. But she can't. She almost doesn't want to. She would lie in bed, replaying their relationship over and over against in her mind, mulling over every small detail. She can't help but feel there's something she could've done. Maybe she could've loved him more.
January Jansen can't sleep.
She almost doesn't want to. She stares wide-eyed at the ceiling, lost in her thoughts, too wrapped up in the unraveling of her mind to pay attention to much else. In the mornings, she gets up. She goes to the dance studio. She has lunch with her brother. She laughs.
Sometimes, when it gets especially lonely. When the world doesn't seem as mean and she just wants to make an effort, she'll huddle close to Peter. She tries to embrace the boyishly floppy hair along with the boyishly charming smile; and then it seems almost as if she's back to the way she was. She didn't realize that she had missed his expressive, poetic eyes and his serene demeanor.
She missed all of him. And from the way he grips her tight to his chest, the sigh escaping his lungs, she knows that he missed her too.
Loving Peter comes naturally. It's effortless and easy. January's done it so many times over her lifetime that she doesn't even have to think about it anymore. It's like shimmying back into a dress you thought you were too fat for and is both delighted and surprised to find out that it still fits like a glove.
January Jansen decided then and there that she doesn't need 'forever'. She doesn't need excitement or passion or any of those foolish nonsense meant for silly teenage girls. January Jansen will settle for ordinary. She'll settle for contentment.
Dying. It feels a lot like drowning.
January Jansen is well-aware that everybody who's ever been fucking ran over by a car probably says this, but she'll just emphasize it for dramatic effect: She did not expect it—at all.
She remembers it being an uneventful day. She had rehearsal; she was scolded by her instructor about her turns not being sharp enough, she took a coffee break with some other dancers, then she sulked a bit before heading off into the showers. She dressed slowly, the way she always does. She's wearing a new sweater that day. Pearly white cashmere with a wide boat neck and a leather miniskirt.
She calls Peter. They were going to have lunch together. Maybe at that nice Japanese restaurant she loves so much. He'll be here to pick her up soon, he says, that there's a hold up in traffic and that he loves her. She replied that she loved him too.
Then she exited though the Metropolitan Opera House backdoor, walked out into the street, and was promptly hit by a taxi.
The initial impact was devastating. It came at her full speed, as if it did not understand the concept of 'stop'. The heavy metal of the front bumpers smashed, with breathtaking force, into her calf. The socket of her knee jarring out of place immediately, the telltale sign being the sickening crack that vibrated through the air. The broken fibula is twisting out of the muscles as her ribs crushed against the hood of the car.
January Jansen would've hollered, but she feels as if her lungs are deflating.
She rolled bonelessly onto the car, helpless and hopelessly unaware, her shoulders rammed into the windshield followed by her head, which made a horrifying 'thud', cracking the glass into spider webs.
Dying. It feels a lot like drowning.
Like you were forcefully shoved into a pool of ice water. You didn't expect it to be quite so icy. You imagine yourself to be tougher, but the pinpricks of the chill is searing into your bones, freezing all your nerves. Your muscles are heavy and lacking. Even your heartbeat is slower, although you can hear every agonizing thump in your ear.
The whole world is muted and muffled. The images you see are from underwater; blurry, unreliable. The voices you hear are all slurred together, the words don't make sense.
January has a vague sense that she must be seriously hurt, because she's never felt anything quite so disconcerting or so detached before. She tries to blink the shock away from her eyes. Her chest is burning from lack of oxygen.
"Breathe, January!" She wheezes. The cold air rushing down her windpipe and tearing at her sternum, bringing exploding spasms of pain blooming across her body. "Damn it, Jan! Breathe!" She breathes again. The agony makes her light-headed. It makes her faint. All her senses are in hyperdrive, throwing her off balance. "Come on, January! Wake up! You have to stay conscious!" And inhale again. GodMotherfucker, her leg is on FireBurningLikeHellOhFuck. She can feel someone's arms around her, desperately pulling and yanking, dragging her out of her peaceful frozen pool.
Reality hurts like a bitch. A bitch with puppies.
"Wha—ahhh, what's goin-, I don't..." Her mind is broken. Coherency flees her. All January can focus on is the throbbing heat that's setting her knee ablaze, the crackling sound her chest makes whenever she breathes, there's also something sticky running down her head. It feels warm, thick; wet. "Wher, wh...P-Peter?"
She's still laying on the top of the stupid yellow taxi. She's all splayed out, with all of her bent at awkward angles. In her mind, she's wondering if this is tangling up her hair because she put a lot of effort into combing it this morning.
Peter's girlishly floppy hair is the first thing she sees. Then his worried, puppy-brown eyes. Then the lopsided loop of his lip, jutted into a ferocious frown. "Jan, can you hear me?" She can't. Not really. She hears his voice, it's sort of an involuntary thing, but she's not listening. Peter's peering deep into her eyes. In his warm, melting gaze, she sees her reflection, bleeding and shattered. "You have to stay with me, January. Stay with me, alright?"
"Hmm?" Her eyes flutter. She's never been good at following directions.
"Jan! Jan! Goddamn it, Jan." She's pretty sure that this is the only instance where Peter's ever sworn to God like that. Her Pretty Peter whom goes to church every Sunday. "You have to remain conscious, January. You could go into hypovolemic shock, do you understand me?"
Of course she doesn't understand him. What the hell is he going on about anyways? She's fine. She will be fine. She just, she just needs to sleep it off. Yeah. That's it. When she wakes up, she knows she'll be alright again.
Peter will fix her. Just like he always does.
She remembers once vaguely promising that she wasn't going to stray after the whole Alexander fiasco. She remembers telling herself that she's done with this cheating and lying business and that she would...adjust to the domestication. And for a while, that was enough for her.
She'd come home every day for dinner. Pasta Tuesdays. Lasagna Fridays. Sundae Sundays. She's there for all of them. She puts in a nice movie, puts her head on Peter's shoulder while he studies, and puts her heart in his capable hands. And soon, she tells herself that the Alexander fiasco doesn't affect her anymore.
Then the whole car fiasco happened. January, for the first time of her life, is at lost. She's at lost for words, at lost for her injury, at lost for an identity. Who is she supposed to be now? She was January Jansen: dancer, girlfriend, sister and daughter.
Now, she's—January Jansen: limp, sleeping around, and someone who doesn't return her family's calls.
Peter thought she had post-traumatic stress or something like that and pulled a lot of strings to get her a slot in Dr. Nolan's, the most notable shrink in off of New York, busy schedule. January doesn't mind sitting in a ritzy office for 90 minutes a week, talking about her limp and her recovery. They're always discussing the same shit anyways. Her leg hurts like hell. She's indulging in self-destructive behavior. She needs a new profession.
She knows all this. How could she not? But what she wants is to be fixed. She knows something is wrong. It's all dysfunctional. Yes, she gets that.
Now, make her better.
January Jansen refuses to cope. She refuses to spend the rest of her life with a cane, limping around like some wounded puppy. However would she live like that? How would she smile again? How could Peter still love her, if she's no longer the same January?
And whom would she love? Would she ever love again?
Dr. Nolan suggested a procedure. It was an experimental trial, but she had pounced at the chance. They would insert Ketamine in her brain, induce her into a coma. Drown her, then revive her. It would allow her brain to reboot. She would regenerate faster, maybe regain use of her leg. Maybe she wouldn't have to hurt anymore.
But maybe she would hurt more. Maybe the needle would miss its target by a millimeter and leave her with permanent brain damage.
Peter begged her not to do it. He's a medicine major. He would know the risks. His soft, poetic eyes pleading for her to stay with him, "Don't do this, Jan. Don't. It doesn't matter to me. I love you just the way you are. Come back. Come back to me."
"You love me just the way I was. I'm not the same anymore, Peter. I...don't know how to be January again." She's standing in the apartment they've shared for years. And she's trying to make him understand she's doing all this for him. For them. Can't he see that? "You gotta let me try, Peter. You have to give me a chance to get better."
"I've given you too many things, January. I've stood by you and I've let you take whatever you want from me." She's never seen Peter so determined. "And you know I would do anything for you, Jan. I would love you. Each day until forever. Whatever you want from me, it's yours. It's my job to protect you. Why won't you let me?"
She won't because this all has nothing to do with him. This is about her. And she needed to do it for herself. So she called up Dr. Nolan and signed the consent forms. The surgery is performed, and she could walk.
For 3 months, there were no side effects. For 3 months, she was old January again. She couldn't run, or dance. But it was close enough. She could take strolls in the park. Could go back home to North Carolina and tell Mama that she's going to be all-okay. Then one evening, when it's storming out in New York, the rain pouring torrents, flooding the streets, the faint, aching tingle came back. She wrote it off as something situational. It would be gone soon. Yet, when the storm subsided, the pain didn't.
She panicked. And that's when she realized it.
The stress, building up inside of her. All the pressure and the fear of being cripple. All those surges of powerful emotions mixed with the Ketamine. It short-circuited something in her brain. Made her eyes flash. Made the whole world seem gray and off-balance.
It was one of the clauses on the release form for the Ketamine treatment. The type she had was degenerative. Worry and shock drives it worse. Makes her vision swim. She's already lost green and red. Her world only represented in shades of grays, blues, and yellows. It was a strange thing. An even stranger thing to know that eventually, that's all she'll be able to see. Black and white.
The concept is frightening and foreign. She's not used to feeling alone. Not used to the feel of loss. Not used to the gravity of the situation. Somebody is always there to fix things for her. Somebody is always there to promise her that things are going to be all right and that whatever she's missing, she'll get it back.
And so she ran. Packed up her belongings, found the most obscure little down with perpetually gray skies that won't pierce her irises or burn her corneas, and fled there. She found the nicest boy with deep, russet skin and just the most beautifully sad eyes that makes her heart hurt. She knows that he's broken, just like her. Knows that he doesn't speak much, but there's always so much going on in his head that he just won't tell her.
It's okay, though. Because she hides things from him too. Things that she thinks makes her weak and vulnerable. Like her color-blindness. She keeps those feelings inside of her, because she doesn't know if she can stand being injured again.
She left everything behind her for him, in a way. She left her city, her dream, her brother. Left her entire life to search for something that'll make her whole again.
Peter, with his deliciously crooked smile. Peter, with intentions truer than gravity. Peter, who she was her world. She had to leave him behind too. He's too great of a reminder of her painful past.
But January Jansen will be fine. She has him now. Him, who's angry scowl is really just a mask he hides behind. Him, who is tall and strong, in contrast to her being small and girlish. Him, he tolerates all the things that she does. He doesn't ever get mad at her. Doesn't ever question things that she doesn't want to give answers to.
He likes her. Just the way she is.
She knows he thinks that she's distant. Thinks that she's just playing around with him. Thinks that she's just silly and foolish and what they have isn't real.
She lets him think that. Because she knows it's real. She knows that he's real. She knows what she feels for him is real. And that's all that matters.
January Jansen could love him. If she wanted to.
My dear readers, I am alive. I do apologize for leaving you guys for such a long period of time without updating or telling you what's going on, but the truth is, I've been busy with finals and with school and with this new creative writing class that I took up and I simply thought, I don't know how to go on with this story anymore. But then I realized that I owe you guys more than that. That you guys deserve more, so I whipped up this old Word doc, I started a while back and wrote furiously to finish it.
I've reconstructed my plan, I think you guys would be glad to know, and that although updates will be coming in slower, they will still happen. I was VERY inspired by the Eclipse movie (i.e. Taylor Lautner shirtless) and I dug up my plans from before, altered them slightly, and decided to speed things up. So, what should you expect from the next chapter, you ask, dear readers?
How about January finding out that Jacob is a werewolf? Good, no?
Anyway, I've decided that I've been wallowing long enough and it's time to really jump into the full gear of things and bring in the full plot. The updates will be coming VERY slow, because I have several projects that I'm working on, but have no fear, I indeed WILL be continuing to work on this story and I hope you guys will be patient and stay with me while I am writing.
Question of the day: What have you learned from January's POV? What do you expect is going to happen when our darling Jan finds out about Jacob's true form? What's your favorite line in this chapter?
Have no fear, Kitty is still here. And you will see me again real soon. Promise, readers.