Title: Great Expectations
Summary: "He's getting bored with chasing showgirls and heiresses, and there's a certain charm to wide eyed innocence." One shot exploring James and his love for the hunt.
Disclaimer: Characters belong to Stephenie Meyer. I am not making any profit off this story.
Warnings: Includes non explicit mentions of murder.
Archiving: Please PM me.
Inspirations/Dedications: Written for a Fight Imprinting Forum challenge.
Author's Notes: ~
It's been a long time since he went to church. So long he can barely remember. Sometimes, he will catch a fleeting glimpse of a life long over. A buxom woman holding a child on her lap as a man whispers promises of salvation into her ear. The memory fades before he can truly take hold of it but it doesn't matter.
Salvation is for the living after all.
He sees a young girl, kneeling, hands clasped in prayer. Her scent is sweet, sweeter than he expected and he finds that slightly disappointing. He breathes as deeply as he can without alerting her to his presence and pulls her image to mind. Young, supple skin...her dark hair falling past her shoulders. A noise echoes behind them and they both turn. A drunk staggers through the doors, looking more for a warm place to stay than redemption but James pays him no attention. The girl is watching him now, he face far too pretty to be his little doll, and he could almost drown in the relief. The anticipation intensifies and he knows that for every wrong turn, his catch simply becomes more alluring.
He'll drink from the girl anyway, but he won't whisper softly in her ear as he drains the life from her. He won't hold her face or grasp her neck like the most precious of jewels. He's saving that for someone special. Someone who already knows he's coming.
He came here through the Bayou. The Mississippi air was warm and dewy on his skin. Now it's thick and heavy with heat he doesn't need. A few more hours before the sun sets. A few more hours before he can satisfy the burning in his throat. He drops to the ground and leans back against a tree. He closes his eyes and remembers.
He sees an old man, his face pinched and worried. The scene is clear, as though it is happening in front of him. The man is feeble, even by human standards and James can barely bring himself to bite down on his worn, brittle skin. It's boring, but even he needs to eat so he gets on with it. Besides the treasure he finds in his wallet more than makes up for it.
The picture is faded slightly but it's not old. Maybe no more than a year. He can smell the lack of time upon it but that's less important than the subject. A portrait of a girl; young. Late teens perhaps. Her face is quite plain but that's okay. He's getting bored with chasing showgirls and heiresses, and there's a certain charm to wide eyed innocence.
He looks at the picture again but he knows he doesn't have to. His mind is made up. A shudder runs through him as he imagines twisting his fingers through her long, black hair. He can almost hear the whimper as he pulls her head to the side, lowers his lips to the throat. He blinks the image away and breathes slowly in an attempt to compose himself. There's nothing that will ruin the moment like great expectations and this is one he wants to savour. Every last drop until the well runs dry, he thinks with a wicked smile aimed at no one in particular.
He rifles through the old man's case, trying to find anything that will help him in the hunt. His senses may be steady and sure but they can't pull information out of thin air. There's a few nice shirts that he transfers to his own pack, a wide brimmed hat to replace his battered fedora and a bundle of letters. He turns them over looking for a post mark -Biloxi, Mississippi- and then regrets his find. Things have suddenly become easier than he would have liked, but he's on the trail now. He doubts he could stop even if he did want to.
It will take him maybe three days to get to Biloxi. He makes a note to stay clear of Texas. There are some fights he has no interest in taking part in. Truth be told, he's not quite ready to leave Chicago but he has a feeling that his find will be worth it. He stands and regards the old man's body with a sigh. He'll have to take care of it. Even a man like him has to abide by rules and he's not going to be the fool who tests them.
He gets that business out of the way as quick as he can. He can feel his senses, all working together. The switches flip, the burning in his throat becomes stronger. The air around him seems to shimmer brighter in the face of his new desire. He can't help but look at the picture once more. He holds it gently between his traces the sweet little face with his thumb. He holds it under his nose and inhales deeply. He can almost smell her blood, feel it slipping down his throat.
He shakes off the feeling, a growl escaping from between gritted teeth and reminds himself not to think about it too much. It's never really as good as he imagines it will be. He always ends up disappointed but he's got a good feeling about this one. He turns the picture over in his hands and smiles. He closes his eyes once more as another piece of the puzzle clicks.
He's lost at least an hour with his daydreaming but the memories are good. In fact, the whole day has been pretty fruitful. If the rumours are right, his quest is going to be more difficult than he first thought. It's a new one for him but not altogether an unpleasant development. He heard scattered conversation here and there, a few charming smiles for the locals and they're more than happy to fill in the missing pieces.
He wonders for a moment if she might see him coming and then considers how delightful that would be. How poetic to have her see her death, his triumph, and be entirely powerless to stop it. He takes the picture from his pocket and unfolds it gently. Handling it like a precious treasure, he lays it face front against his palm and trails his fingers over the black inscription on the back. It's little more than a name but to him, it is everything. It's his thirst, his challenge, his imminent victory and it's quickly turning into his most fascinating hunt yet. It's both his desire and her destiny entwined within a scrawled inscription. My Dearest, Mary Alice.