Stephenie Meyer owns The Host. Aww! You guys, this is the last chapter. Thank you everyone who read and reviewed and favorited and alerted this story. You guys are amazing and I love you all. When I started this I never thought it would get the response it did, and that's all thanks to you. So, I hope you enjoy the ending! Also, remember 500th reviewer will get to choose a character from The Host and I will write a scene (of their choice) in that character's perspective. But since I realize that that might be a little unfair to the reader's who always review, seeing as you can only review once per chapter, I'll also do another contest. Same thing, but this time in your review include a character from The Host and a scene you think would be really interesting to read in their POV. I'll choose the one I think is most interesting or maybe the one that gets the most requests. Sound fair? Blurring The Lines
Aww! You guys, this is the last chapter. Thank you everyone who read and reviewed and favorited and alerted this story. You guys are amazing and I love you all. When I started this I never thought it would get the response it did, and that's all thanks to you. So, I hope you enjoy the ending!
Also, remember 500th reviewer will get to choose a character from The Host and I will write a scene (of their choice) in that character's perspective. But since I realize that that might be a little unfair to the reader's who always review, seeing as you can only review once per chapter, I'll also do another contest. Same thing, but this time in your review include a character from The Host and a scene you think would be really interesting to read in their POV. I'll choose the one I think is most interesting or maybe the one that gets the most requests. Sound fair?
Blurring The Lines
I held Wanda's tiny hands in my own. I could feel her twitch every so often. I watched her eyes move around behind her eyelids. Was she waking up?
I leaned in close to her ear. "Wanderer?" I asked. "We're all waiting for you, honey. Open your eyes."
I kissed her briefly on the lips, then gently on both eyelids. Practically everyone in the caves was there watching, but it didn't matter. She was blinking. Wanda was waking up.
"She's waking up!" Jamie shouted excitedly from behind me, echoing my thoughts. He stood close to Jared and Melanie. They were right beside me next to Wanda's cot.
Wanda's eyes were open now and she was squinting up at the cracks in the hospital ceiling.
"Wanderer?" I said again, placing my hand lightly on her cheek
She turned toward me, looking me directly in the eye. "Ian? Ian, where am I?"
Her voice was different from the last time I'd spoken to her. It was a higher pitch than Melanie's. I'd never heard this body speak before, but it was Wanda. My heart thumped against my rib cage at the way she said my name, but she sounded frightened when she continued. "Who am I?"
"You're you," I told her. "And you're right where you belong."
She pulled one of her hands from my grasp and reached for her face, but then froze. She seemed frightened for a second, but then realized what she was looking at. Her own hand.
She stared at her hand for a moment. It was small, smaller than Mel's. Her finger nails were even painted pink. So unlike Wanda.
"Where is she?" Wanda demanded the next second. "Where is Pet?"
"She's right here," Doc assured her. "Tanked and ready to go. We thought you could tell us the best place to send her."
Wanda turned to find Doc, a cryotank in his hands. "Doc!" she gasped. "Doc, you promised! You gave me your oath, Eustace! Why? Why did you break your word?"
She looked so upset. It looked out of place on this face.
"Even an honest man sometimes caves to duress, Wanda," Doc said.
"Duress," Jared muttered.
"I'd say a knife to the throat counts as duress, Jared."
"You knew I wouldn't really use it," Jared stated.
"That I did not," said Doc. "You were quite persuasive."
"A knife?" Wanda trembled.
"Shh, it's all okay," I murmured to calm her. She reached up to tuck a strand of hair behind her ear. "Did you really think you could leave us that way? Wanda!" I sighed.
I was still a little angry that she had done what she had, but I couldn't be mad when she was right here. We could talk about it, now that she wouldn't feel like she was hurting anyone. Now that she was just Wanda, no longer Wanda and Melanie.
"I told you I didn't want to be a parasite," she whispered.
"Let me through," Melanie said then. I almost wanted to laugh. I was quickly learning that Mel was going to be a great ally when it came to Wanda.
"Listen up, Wanda," she said. "I know exactly what you don't want to be. But we're human, and we're selfish, and we don't always do the right thing. We aren't going to let you go. Deal with it."
"Mel? Mel, you're okay!" Wanda cried. She was smiling up at Melanie like she hadn't seen her in years. I guess she wasn't expecting to ever see Mel like this, standing before her, in person.
"Of course I am. Wasn't that the point of all the drama? And you're going to be fine, too. We weren't stupid about it. We didn't just grab the first body we saw."
"Let me tell her, let me!" Jamie crowed, shoving in next to Mel to get a better look at Wanda.
"Jamie!" Wanda took his hand.
"Hey, Wanda! This is cool, isn't it? You're smaller than me now!" He grinned.
She grinned back. "But still older. I'm almost —" And then she stopped, cutting herself off mid sentence, like she'd just realized something. "My birthday is in two weeks."
She looked back at Jamie. "I'll be eighteen."
What? I was shocked, but I tried my best to keep it to myself.
When Melanie and Jared had first brought this body to Doc's we has all figured she was young. Probably about fourteen, maybe fifteen. I was okay with that. I knew it would probably take Wanda a while to become comfortable enough with me to be in a more intimate relationship. And, honestly, as long as she was safe and happy, I didn't care what kind of relationship we had. I would deal until she was old enough and had a chance to decide what she wanted. I had made my peace with that.
But she was eighteen? Of course, some people looked young. Just like some people looked older than their real age. It was possible.
I decided it didn't matter. Wanda was thousands of years old. She said her body was turning eighteen, than she was turning eighteen.
I watched Jamie pat Wanda's face to get her attention. "They let me come on the raid to get you."
"I know," she muttered. "I remember… Well, Pet remembers seeing you there." Then she leveled a glare at Mel.
"We tried not to scare her," Jamie said. "She's so… kind of fragile-looking, you know? And nice, too. We picked her out together, but I got to decide!" And then he went off on a rant about how they picked her body.
I wasn't listening, I'd already heard him tell this story three times. I was watching Wanda. Her new face was beautiful. Pale skin, golden freckles strewn over her cheeks and nose. Her hair was blond and shiny and I wanted to brush it back away from her face. Jamie was telling her how this body looked like her, and he was right. This is exactly what Wanda looked like. Sweet and fragile and kind and trustworthy. She was beautiful, inside and out.
"Ian didn't come," Jamie said, telling Wanda the part of the story I lived. "He just sat here with you—he said he didn't care what you looked like. He wouldn't let anyone else put a finger on your tank at all, not even me or Mel. But Doc let me watch this time. It was way cool, Wanda. I don't know why you wouldn't let me watch before. They wouldn't let me help, though. Ian wouldn't let anyone touch you but him."
I squeezed her hand, the one I still held, and leaned in close so only she would hear me. "I held you in my hand, Wanderer. And you were so beautiful."
As I leaned back I saw her eyes get watery and she sniffed. I smiled a little. She was happy.
"You like it, don't you?" Jamie asked, his voice worried. He didn't know it was what I said that had caused her to get all misty eyed. "You're not mad? There's nobody in there with you, is there?"
"I'm not mad, exactly," Wanda whispered. "And I—I can't find anybody else. Just Pet's memories. Pet's been in here since… I can't remember when she wasn't here. I can't remember any other name."
"You're not a parasite," Melanie told her. She was standing next to Jamie, playing with Wanda's hair. "This body didn't belong to Pet, but there's nobody else to claim it. We waited to make sure, Wanda. We tried to wake her up almost as long as we tried with Jodi."
"Jodi? What happened to Jodi?" Wanda cried. She struggled to sit up, so I helped her, keeping a hand on her back for support. She glanced around the circle of faces, the faces of her friends. Her family.
"Jodi didn't respond. We kept trying as long as we could," Doc answered. "We were able to keep her hydrated, but we had no way to feed her. We were worried about atrophy—her muscles, her brain…"
I could tell when Wanda saw Sunny. Her face lit up. "Sunny!"
"I got to stay," Sunny said. "Just like you. I'm trying, though. I am looking for her. I will keep looking."
"Kyle had us put Sunny back when it looked like we would lose Jodi," Doc explained quietly.
Wanda stared at Kyle and Sunny for a minute, looking a little shocked. Seeing as how Kyle had treated her when she first arrived, I could understand how she felt. She finished looking at our friends and finally turned back to me.
"You okay in there?" I asked, unsure of how she was feeling. It must have been a lot for her.
"I… I don't know," she admitted. "This feels very… weird. Every bit as weird as switching species. So much weirder than I would have thought. I… I don't know."
"You don't mind staying here too much, do you, Wanda? Do you think that maybe you could tolerate it?" I murmured.
Jamie, Melanie and Jared piled their hands on top of Wanda's in support. Trudy stepped closer to pat her foot. Everyone was smiling at her, showing her how much we all wanted her here. Even Kyle was grinning at Wanda with Sunny, tucked into his side, smiling beside him.
Finally I reached out and brushed her hair away from her face, laying my hand on her cheek. I felt a shock when I touched her. The tingles were back, or still there, really. I loved her the same as I did before. It really didn't matter what body she was in, as long as it was Wanda inside.
She blushed a little. "I suppose I could do that," she whispered. "If it makes you happy."
"That's not good enough, actually," I disagreed. "It has to make you happy, too."
Her eyes kept dropping to her lap, only meeting mine for a few seconds. And her blush was getting worse. It looked like Wanda was shy now. She had never been shy before, and I couldn't help but think she was going to hate it.
"I… think it might," she said. "I think it might make me very, very happy."
I smiled and gently lifted her face so she could meet my eyes. "Then you will stay," I said.
I kissed her. It felt right and perfect, just like it always did when I kissed Wanda. And she kissed me back, in front of all of our friends. I guessed we could work around her be found shyness.
"I will stay," she agreed.
After that, everything went back to normal. Or, sort of. Wanda was having a hard time adjusting to her new body. More than that, to her new role in the caves. She was used to being treated like a slave. Doing everything for everyone, people ignoring her most times. Now it was like she was a princess, the girl everyone loved.
Jared had been right about her face. It was like all the prejudices had just melted away overnight and now no one could not protect her. Everyone, not just me and Mel and Jared, would help her with chores or just tell her to go take a break and finish the job for her. It was nice to see, but Wanda hated the help. She complained about it, infrequently, but still.
Everyone's new attitude toward Wanda didn't end with chores. People were just generally nicer to her. People were constantly touching her, patting her head, stroking her hair, even pinching her cheeks. Even people who had been less than friendly with Wanda in the past did this.
There were some other changes I noticed as well. Wanda had always been beautiful, because Melanie was beautiful. But people had been cautious of her in Mel's body. Afraid. Now, Wanda was still beautiful, but she was also the exact opposite of scary. And people were responding to that.
Before, it was only Jared I had thought of as competition for Wanda's heart. Now, there a few other men who were... noticing her in that way. She wasn't their enemy anymore. She was a friend. Someone who had improved everyone's life here in the caves tremendously. Of course someone would realize what a kind, beautiful girl she was, but I had already had that realization a long time ago.
Wanda and I spent most of our time together, as we usually did, but now it was different. There was still that air of uncertainty between us. I knew I loved her, that hadn't changed. Nothing had changed on my part. I still held her hand all the time, cupped her face in my hands.
I didn't kiss her again though. I wasn't sure how she felt, and I didn't want to be presumptuous. If I took the relationship to the next level she would undoubtedly follow my lead, but I wanted to give her a choice. I figured she could use a little time to get settled and decide what she wanted.
I still caught her staring at Jared every once in a while. And he would stare back. It must have been hard for them, all of their feelings for one another. I could understand that it wasn't just going to go away because Wanda was in a different body. Even Melanie seemed to be having a little difficulty. There had been times when she would reach over and touch my hand or arm and then jerk back like I had burned her. If Mel was having those kinds of reactions to me, I could understand how Wanda was feeling.
But the uncertainty of our relationship, that all washed away with the rain. When the monsoons came everyone was forced to move into the gameroom. It was crowded, but better than sleeping in mud.
When Wanda had first woken up in her new body she had had to stay in the hospital with Doc. Jared and Melanie had kicked Jamie out of their room as soon as possible, so the kid was staying with me while Kyle was in the hospital with Jodi. Now Kyle was slowly working on building a new room for him and Sunny to stay in after the rains, because there just wasn't any room left anywhere else. Which sort of left Wanda hanging.
I wanted to invite her to stay in my room, but she'd have to share a mattress with either me or Jamie. And, while I was certain she wouldn't mind sharing with the kid, he hadn't offered.
The night we moved to the gameroom changed things though. Jamie and I had already carried our mattresses over, and now I was helping Wanda carry her cot—because she could never hope to even lift it on her own, let alone carry all the way to the gameroom.
"Over here, Wanda," Jamie called, waving at us. "There's room for all three of us now."
We walked over, Wanda ahead of me because I was trying to navigate all the mattresses while carrying the cot.
"You don't really want that cot, do you, Wanda?" Jamie asked. "I'll bet we could all fit okay on the mattresses if we shoved them together." He grinned at Wanda and kicked one of the mattresses until the two were touching. "You don't take up much space," he told her.
Without even waiting for Wanda and I to agree to his new sleeping arrangement, Jamie took the cot from me and placed it on the floor on it's side so it would be out of the way. Then he laid down on the mattress farthest from us. He rolled on his side, facing away from us, and said casually, "Oh, hey, Ian. I talked to Brandt and Aaron, and I think I'm going to move in with them. Well, I'm beat. Night, guys."
I stood, watching Jamie for a few seconds. Had he planned this? Giving me and Wanda the chance to be together? It seemed like a lot to pin on the kid, but he was smart. Did he see the dance I was doing with Wanda and this was his way of saying "just get on with it already"?
Beside me, Wanda was looking Jamie the same way I was. If he had planned this, it was because he thought that giving me and Wanda this push would make her happy. Was he right? It was dark in here, but she looked a little shell shocked.
"Lights out," Jeb hollered across the crowded room. "Everybody shut yer trap so I can get some shut-eye."
Everyone settled onto there mattresses and dimmed the lights until the room was pitch black. I took Wanda's warm hand in mine and guided her to the mattress we were supposed to—according to Jamie—share. She laid down in the middle of the two mattresses, farther away from me then I would have liked, but I kept hold of her hand.
"Is this okay?" I whispered, keeping my voice low so that no one would be disturbed. I could still hear a few other conversations going on around us though, so I was sure no one would mind.
"Yes, thank you," she said.
Jamie rolled over and knocked right into Wanda. I felt the movements through the mattress.
"Oops, sorry, Wanda," he murmured, and then he yawned. It sounded a little forced.
That's when I knew for certain he had staged this whole thing. The kid was giving me an opportunity here. Like hell if I was going go waste it.
So when Wanda rolled out of Jamie's way and right into me, I didn't hesitate. I wrapped an arm around her as she tried to give me some space, holding her close to me. She must not have minded my arm around her too much, because she rolled so that she was facing me.
I pulled her closer.
"Is this okay?" she whispered, echoing my question.
I leaned closer, kissing her gently on the forehead. "Better than okay," I assured her.
We were quiet for a few minutes. Most of the other conversations had died down, so I leaned in close to Wanda's ear. "Wanda, do you think… ?" I began, quietly, but couldn't seem to find the right words.
"Yes?" she prompted, her breath warm against my neck.
"Well, it looks like I have a room all to myself now. That's not right."
"No," she agreed. "There's not enough space for you to be alone."
"I don't want to be alone," I said. "But…"
"Have you had enough time to sort things out yet?" I asked. "I don't want to rush you. I know it's confusing… with Jared…"
I didn't want it, but the jealousy was still there whenever I thought about Jared and Wanda. She would always love him, it wasn't going to just fade away, but I hoped she could get over him and be happy with me.
After a moment, she giggled. It wasn't really the reaction I was expecting.
"What?" I demanded.
"I was giving you time to sort things out," she explained in a whisper. "I didn't want to rush you —because I know it's confusing. With Melanie."
Melanie? I jumped a little at that. "You thought… ? But Melanie isn't you. I was never confused."
"And Jared isn't you." I could tell she was smiling. I couldn't see her in the dark, but I could hear it in her voice.
But as much as I wanted to smile back, there was still that lingering doubt. That jealousy. "But he's still Jared. And you love him," I said, and my voice sounded strained even to me.
"Jared is my past, another life," Wanda told me. "You are my present."
I had never heard more perfect words in my life. She was solidifying everything I'd hoped for for so long now. I closed my eyes and whispered, "And your future, if you want that."
"Yes, please," she said.
And then we were kissing and that was it. No more uncertainty. No more jealousy, if I could help it. We were in love and we were about to start our lives together. Finally, after so much drama and heartache, we would be happy.
When it was time to go on a raid, Wanda and I went together. There was no way she was going to stay behind—even though Jared and I, and even Jeb, had tried to convince her to. And as much as I hated the idea of Wanda being in danger, she was certainly looking forward to raiding again. I think it made her felt needed. It was the one thing in the caves that she could still do better than anyone else.
Especially since Sunny was out of the question. She wouldn't even let Kyle go on the raid. She had gone hysterical when he'd mentioned it.
Jared and, of course, Melanie, would be going with us. Aaron and Brandt had also volunteered.
We were all just getting everything settled at our secret cache where we kept the van and the moving truck when it happened. None of us had seem it coming. Maybe I was too busy with Wanda to notice. She was so excited—practically bouncing up and down—and I was laughing at her and holding her hand and not paying enough attention to my surroundings.
That changed the second the lights shot out of the darkness at us. I squinted, but it was too late. The Seekers had already seen that there was no reflection from their light. Wanda was standing behind me, but, even if they'd seen her, I didn't think it would have helped.
This was it. It was all over. I could feel Wanda reaching for the cyanide pill she kept in her pocket and I reached for mine too. I wished I had forced her to stay behind in the caves. Now she was going to die like the rest of us.
Maybe, just maybe, the Seekers would save her. Maybe they could save her Soul and place it into another body. And then Wanda could come back one day and live with our family again, if the Seekers didn't get them first.
I prayed we would be the last of the casualties tonight.
"Steady, now, everybody just keep calm," one of the Seekers called out. "Wait, wait, don't be swallowing anything! Jeez, get a grip! No, look!"
The Seeker turned his flashlight on himself. He was older looking, shaggy brown hair. Worn looking, not polished like the other Seekers I'd seen. And his eyes didn't reflect the light back at us. They were just brown.
"See?" he said. "Okay, now, you don't shoot us, and we won't shoot you. See?" He laid the gun he was holding on the ground. "C'mon, guys," he said to the rest of his group. They all holstered their weapons.
Everyone of them had weapons. Aaron had our only gun.
The man went on, but I was still staring wide eyed at him. He was human. "We found your cache here—clever, that; we were lucky to find it—and decided we'd hang out and make your acquaintance. It's not every day you find another rebel cell." He laughed. "Look at your faces! What? Did you think you all were the only ones still kickin'?"
"Think they're in shock, Nate," another man said.
"We scared them half to death," a woman said. "What do you expect?"
After a few more moments, Jared was the one who finally regained his composure enough to ask, "Who are you?"
The man laughed again. "I'm Nate—nice to meet you, though you might not feel the same way just yet. This here's Rob, Evan, Blake, Tom, Kim, and Rachel along with me." He gestured to his group beside him. "There's twenty-two of us altogether, though."
Nate held out his hand and Jared took a breath before stepping forward to meet him.
"I'm Jared," he said with a smile. "This is Melanie, Aaron, Brandt, Ian, and Wanda. There are thirty-seven of us altogether."
When Jared said Wanda's name I took a step to block her from the others view. I had been to stunned at seeing humans, and so many of them, to realize that Wanda was still in danger. They wouldn't understand about her. They would try to hurt her if they realized what she is, and they outnumbered us. They had more weapons...
Nate blinked and his eyes widened. "Wow. That's the first time I've ever been one-upped on that one."
Jared sounded startled. "You've found others?"
"There are three other cells separate from ours that we know of. Eleven with Gail, seven with Russell, and eighteen with Max. We keep in touch. Even trade now and then." Again, Nate laughed. "Gail's little Ellen decided she wanted to keep company with my Evan here, and Carlos took up with Russell's Cindy. And, of course, everyone needs Burns now and then —" He stopped talking suddenly and glanced around. His eyes settling on a tall red headed man who was standing a little apart from their group. The man, I realized, I was looking at Wanda.
"Might as well get that out of the way," the man next to Nate said.
Nate was watching us carefully. "Okay. Rob's right. Let's get this out there." He took a breath and said, "Now, you all just take it easy and hear us out. Calmly, please. This upsets people sometimes."
"Every time," Rob said. I noticed how his hand was hovering close to his holstered gun.
"What?" Jared asked, suspiciously.
Nate waved the red headed man forward. "This here is Burns. Now, he's with us, so don't go crazy. He's my best friend—saved my life a hundred times. He's one of our family, and we don't take kindly to it when people try to kill him."
One of the women slowly raised her gun.
"No, it's okay, Nate," the redhead, Burns, said. "See? They've got one of their own." He pointed right at Wanda and I ground my teeth together. "Looks like I'm not the only one who's gone native."
He grinned at Wanda and abruptly walked toward us, toward Wanda, his hand extended in front of him. He was a Soul, I realized.
Without another word, Wanda stepped around me to meet this guy Burns.
"Wanda, don't. I don't think..." But she wasn't listening to me.
"Burns Living Flowers," he said, taking her hand.
"Wanderer," she introduced herself.
His being a Soul should have made me feel better, but he was smiling at her in a way that set me on edge.
"It's… extraordinary to meet you, Wanderer. And here I thought I was one of a kind," he said.
"Not even close," Wanda told him. Yeah, between her and Sunny, this guy wasn't as unique as he would like to think.
"Is that so?" he said. "Well, maybe there's some hope for this planet, after all."
I was jealous. Again.
I knew I shouldn't be. I knew Wanda loved me. I knew she didn't even realize how this Burns guy was looking at her. She didn't notice things like that, she was too innocent.
But I was still jealous. I didn't like the way he said her name. "It's... extraordinary to meet you, Wanderer." Wow. Seriously?
I wanted to run over there and wrap my arms around Wanda's tiny little body. I wanted to be possessive, show him she was mine. I didn't because I knew, better than almost anyone, what would happen if I rushed toward Burns. The others, the humans with Burns, they all had their hands on their weapons. They were ready for a fight, and I wasn't going to make any sudden moves. I didn't think they'd actually shoot, but it still wouldn't be the most diplomatic way to start things off.
Wanda was smiling. "It's a strange world," she said.
It surprised me that she was repeating what I had said to her the first time we spoke. Well, the first time she spoke to me of her own free will, anyway. But somehow, those words just seemed to fit this moment perfectly.
"The strangest," Burns murmured.
It was true. According to Wanda, Earth was the only world that had ever made her question her actions toward her host. It was the only world she felt comfortable on. It was her home. Wanda belonged here, with me. How could two people of different species falling in love not be considered strange?
I knew then, watching Wanda turn her head to smile at me, that nothing would ever come between us. No matter what happened in the future, Wanda and I would always be able to count on each other.
Through everything that had happened, Jared and Melanie had never once lost faith in each other. They both knew that nothing could come between them. Not Wanda, not me. Nothing.
And looking at Wanda now, I knew that nothing would ever come between the two of us. She was mine, and I would always be hers.