Thank you once again to Betham and Yellowglue for their wonderful help and for holding my hand. I'd be lost without them. I am currently working on a collaborative project with Faite-comme-moi for the Two is Better than One slash contest. Check out our new profile ~sweetmoi , we'll be posting our story within the next week or so.
Thank you to everyone who has reviewed and added Fire in the Blood to their favourites. I'm so very grateful for the support. This is a story I have been thinking about for some time and it's exciting to finally have it all posted. Yep. This is the last chapter. I'm a little nervous, truth be told. Enjoy x
Edward gently shakes him awake. He was dreaming about being buried in snow - it's fading away already, but there is a lingering feeling of being crushed by the cold and slowly freezing from the inside out. He gasps and starts to shake the snow off before realizing the weight on his arm is Edward's hand.
"It's almost dawn," Edward says apologetically. Seth is still curled into Edward's side, but he doesn't remember falling asleep. Reluctantly, he sits up. In the strange kind of half-light, just before the sun appears on the horizon, everything is fuzzy and gray.
Suddenly, he remembers everything that happened last night and everything that will happen today. It's like a cannonball exploding across his mind, and his stomach drops with fear.
"I have to go," Seth says, hurriedly. He's already half undressed, tying his jeans to his leg as quickly as he can. Sam is probably wondering where the hell he is - he was meant to check in hours ago. He pauses, knowing he ought to say something, acknowledge what happened last night, but his mind won't co-operate.
Edward seems to understand. He's on his feet and reaching for Seth's hand. He squeezes it briefly, his eyes saying everything he can't find the voice for, then turns and heads in the direction of Bella's tent. Seth runs into the forest, and phases into his wolf.
He concentrates on keeping everything hidden safe in his mind before he reaches out to the pack. The others are there - they're waiting. Alice says it will be soon. Seth starts to run down to them, but Sam orders him to stay with Edward and Bella. Seth doesn't want to - he wants to fight, he doesn't want to be the runt of the pack left behind; he doesn't want to spend the day 'watching' from afar.
But, what Sam says may as well be law. He has no choice and with a petulant 'yes sir',he turns around and heads back in the direction of the clearing.
He doesn't know how he's going to be able to spend the day with him after everything that happened last night. How is he going to cope without touching him, without kissing him, without falling at his feet and begging him for more?
He takes up his patrols of the area again, looking for any sign of vampires, but the only sweet scent on the air is Edward.
He stays out in the forest, far away from the clearing, far away from the memories of kisses and whispers. He watches the sun rise in the sky, and waits.
Victoria's army arrives an hour later.
In the pack's collective mind, Seth can see everything.
There are so many - a seemingly endless wall of scarlet eyes and stony flesh. They hiss and charge, rushing through the clearing where the Cullens are waiting. The sound of stone crashing on stone reverberates through the air. Seth can't tell who is who. The wolves watch and wait, and then, when the newborn vampires least expect it, they join the fight. It's frantic and furious. Flashes of dark fur, the sound of snarling wolves, howls of pain.
Seth rushes to the clearing, but Edward has heard him coming.
"Get in the tent, Bella," he says, urgently. Seth hears the sound of the tent zipper, but doesn't take his eyes off Edward.
It's happening - it's really happening. At the bottom of the mountain, their family and friends are fighting an army of newborn vampires. This isn't a game anymore.
Seth feels overwhelmingly helpless, petrified to the point where he's forgotten to keep breathing.
"Focus," Edward says as he crouches down next to him. Edward puts his hand on Seth's neck and pushes his fingers through his fur. The contact is instantly calming, and Seth tunes back into the pack, careful to leave his mind open to Edward.
It's like they're there; seeing it firsthand through the wolves' eyes. It's gut-churning, watching a vampire come rushing at you - screaming profanities, intent on the kill. They flinch and gasp as the battle around them unfolds in a sickening blur of blood and crunching flesh. Vampires are being killed, and they can only hope it's none from their side. Vampire flesh smells sickly sweet, like overcooked sugar.
Seth suddenly realizes that what he's smelling isn't on the battlefield, but near. They are vampires close by. Edward is on his feet in an instant.
They hear them at the same time. Two sets of feet running up the hill. Two vampire minds.
"Victoria." Edward hisses as he recognises the thoughts of the red-headed vampire he met briefly last year.
Seth is surprised by the sudden burst of anger and determination that floods his veins. There is no way that bitch is going to hurt Edward, or Bella. He doesn't have to time to be nervous, already a plan is forming in his mind.
Seth pushes out his thoughts and shows Edward a rocky outcrop that's further down the mountain. Edward seems hesitant to leave Bella, but Seth's idea is a good one. They can't afford to let the vampires get close to her, but maybe they can use the terrain to their advantage and ambush them before they make it up this far.
Seth bounds off into the forest with Edward close behind. They reach the rocks just in time to see the two vampires emerging from the trees. The red-headed vampire sees them first and lunges for the safety of a nearby tree. Her male companion is just a kid - maybe the same age as them, and she urges him forward. His eyes blaze scarlet with hatred, and Seth growls as he steps toward them.
The world narrows down to one vampire - it's all Seth can see, this crazed and deadly threat to Edward.
Edward is talking, trying to reason with him. He recognizes him somehow, uses his name - Riley; tries to convince him that Victoria is using him, that she's just after revenge for James's death. Seth barely hears a word that Edward utters, he's so intent on keeping Riley in his sight. He begins to imagine him lying in a pile of broken limbs, burning in a fire of purple flames. Exterminated.
For a moment, it looks as though Edward might have succeeded in talking him down, but then Riley snarls and leaps. Edward has already seen the decision in his head and he's in the air, meeting the boy-vampire head on before Seth can even move. It's so fast Seth can barely see who is hitting who - it's all a blur of pale limbs, the sound of cracking concrete echoing against the rocks behind them. It's awful to watch, and Seth paces around anxiously, trying to keep an eye on Victoria, while still watching the two vampires wrestling on the ground.
Part of him wants to rush in and help Edward pin Riley down so they can finish him off, but in his head, Sam's words are replaying over and over. He can feel the weight of his Alpha's orders heavy on his soul, and the bond that ties him to the pack. This is what Sam wants - for Edward to suffer, perhaps even to die. If it was any other of the wolves up here with Edward right now, they'd just let everything take its course. There would be no hesitation - they'd take the easy option and just let the other vampires finish him off.
If it were Jacob, he'd probably be helping Riley.
This is what Sam wants.
This is what is best for the pack.
While Seth hesitates, Riley has gained the upper hand. He has Edward in a headlock and there is a sickening screech, like nails on a blackboardas he continues to twist Edward's head. Edward yelps in pain.
A split-second later, Seth is flying through the air. His teeth clamp down on Riley's neck, and he pulls him off Edward. They fly into the ground with a heavy thud, but it's Seth who gets to his feet first, his gigantic paws pushing down on Riley's shoulders. The vampire is struggling, snarling and gnashing his sharp teeth at him. He screams hate-filled words at Edward, and Seth snaps.
The vampire flesh burns his mouth as he sinks his wolf teeth into Riley's neck. He doesn't hear Riley's pleas for Victoria to come to his aid, doesn't hear the venom gurgling in his throat as he rips out the vampire's larynx, doesn't hear the sudden silence of death. He bites and tears at what remains of the vampire, obliterates him into an unrecognizable mound of pale stone and glistening silver venom. All that matters is that Riley isn't hurting Edward anymore.
It's the first time he's taken pleasure in killing something.
When he finally comes to and realizes Riley is gone, he looks around and finds Edward standing over the body of Victoria. Seth hadn't even been aware that they were fighting. Edward takes a lighter from his pocket and sets her remains on fire, before walking over and doing the same to Riley. His face is expressionless as purple acrid smoke fills the air.
"Phase for me," Edward says, quietly.
Seth finds it hard to think about being a boy again. His human self seems far removed from the carnage his wolf is capable of, and it's not until he thinks about the feeling of Edward's lips pressed against his, that he is able to phase back.
Edward pulls him into his arms the second Seth has finished tugging on his clothes. They cling to each other for what seems like hours, offering up silent words of thankfulness that both of them have survived. That they still have each other.
Edward's kisses are fierce, and Seth feels like he's being devoured. It's a slow, sensuous death that tastes like victory and sweetest relief; his mind fills with images of champagne bubbles and snowflakes.
As much as he never wants this moment to end, he knows it can't last - he needs to phase back to a wolf so he can see what is happening down with the others.
He needs to tell Edward.
"I'm sorry," he says softlyas he moves out of Edward's arms. Edward looks at him questioningly, and Seth burns the image of his amber eyes into his mind. Golden eyes that stare at him as if they can see right through to his soul, eyes that mirror the same knee-weakening desire that he feels when he looks at Edward.
He doesn't know if Edward will ever look at him like that again.
Then he opens his mind and everything is there for Edward to see. Seth flicks through all his memories. Every moment of horror, every despicable thing that he has done under Sam's command - it's all there for Edward to see. He shows him who he really is; not the vulnerable boy that needs his protection, not the inexperienced lover who steals kisses from him in the dark, but the real Seth. The monster. The liar. He shows him the conversation he had with Sam. Shows him what Sam is capable of.
Edward buckles over as the deluge of images and thoughts hit him. He's sucking in air like he's drowning; it's so much to take in, so many assumptions burning up into thin air as the treachery and deceit becomes apparent.
Seth isn't sure if Edward is capable of taking anything else, but he pushes one last stream of memories at him. That moment he first laid eyes on Edward; the vision of him shimmering in the soft light, how beautiful he looked with his pale, flawless skin and his gold-colored eyes - how it felt to fall in love with him in that very first instant. Seth shows him the intensity of everything he feels for Edward, how the evening he spent in Edward's arms was the happiest night of his life, how much Edward means to him, how perfect he is.
Edward whispers his name, but Seth is already moving away, pulling at his clothes. He doesn't even wait to remove them properly, and they fall in tatters to the ground as the wolf runs into the forest. He doesn't answer Edward as he calls out to him.
Edward stares after him for a second, still trying to process everything Seth has shared with him. How could he have been so stupid, to accept the Quileute's offer of help at face value? He knew in his gut that there was something not right about the whole situation - but he went along with the plan, lulled into a false sense of security by Jasper's experience and Carlisle's assurances that they needed the extra numbers. He should have known something was amiss when he realized they were capable of keeping their thoughts from him, and that Alice's gift was affected by them, too.
Sam Uley is evil. There is no other word for it, and Edward shudders as he thinks about everything that bastard has done. How he hurt Seth. The hatred he feels for Sam is indescribable - even what he feels for Jacob is nothing compared to this. Rivalry over a girl seems so pathetic and childish now.
The thought of his family fighting alongside a pack of wolves who are going to turn on them makes him feel ill - he has to get down there, he has to warn them, he has to find Seth.
Before he met Seth, he thought he knew what love was, he thought he knew everything about himself and what he wanted. In just a few days, Seth has made him more confused than he's ever been in his life, and yet, he's never been so certain of his own feelings.
He turns, intent on heading back to the tent. Bella can't be left up there on her own, who knows what evil things the pack might do to her. But she's already there, standing at the bottom of the rock formation - she never does what she's told.
He doesn't know how long she's been there, and what she's seen. He starts to speak to her, but words fail him. She just shrugs. "I knew before you did," she says.
He grabs her hand and pulls her after him. "We have to get down there."
They run as fast as Bella's human legs will allow. It's a slower pace than Edward would like, and eventually, he throws her on his back and carries her down the hill.
Eventually, the forest floor flattens out and they approach the clearing. Edward is relieved to hear the internal voices of his family. They're all still alive, but there is smoke in the sky and the whole area reeks of death.
Edward approaches cautiously, not sure what he's going to find.
Around the clearing there are purple fires; a dozen, maybe more. His family are scouting the area, picking up pieces of dead vampire and adding them to the death pyres. The pack are still in their wolf form, and Edward arrives just in time to see Sam attack the last remaining vampire, decapitating him with one sweep of his giant black paw.
There is a victorious shout as the vampire's body falls to the ground, and the wolves join in, howling as if they all share the one voice. It makes the hair on the back of Edward's neck stand up.
He turns to Bella and urges her to stay hidden in the trees. He wishes he had more time; time to apologize, time to ask for her forgiveness. He wishes he knew what to say that would make her believe him. All he can do is make her promise that she'll stay out of sight - that, no matter what she hears, she has to stay out of the way.
She nods, and he doesn't wait any longer. He walks into the clearing.
Well, look who's come to join the fight, boys. Sam's mental sneer grates on Edward's mind, but he chooses to ignore him. His eyes are scanning the grassy field, looking for a sandy-colored wolf, but his heart feels empty and he already knows Seth isn't there. He tries not to think of all the worst-case scenarios.
The wolves start moving. At first he thinks they're advancing on him, but then he realizes they're pairing themselves off with members of his family. A wolf for every vampire; mismatched pairs spread out around the field. Edward can hardly believe his eyes - the wolves are lining up their prey, preparing for the real battle. They have the element of surprise, and they know exactly how best to kill a vampire; after all,Jasper taught them everything. Edward has relied on Alice's gift for so long, it takes a second for him to remember that she is completely unaware of what is about to happen.
Sam is walking towards him now; a gigantic black wolf with cold, yellow eyes, his hackles up and his muzzle drawn back in a snarl.
"Run!" Edward screams at the top of his voice. He can only hope his family heeds his warning. He can't give them anything more.
He charges at Sam, hoping to catch him off guard, to get the first hit in before the pack leader realizes that he knows about their plan.
Sam is only a few feet away, but it seems to take forever for him to cross the trampled grass between them, to leap into the air, to throw himself at the wolf who wants to kill him. Every step seems like a million miles, and Edward feels the air rushing past him as if he's entering a vacuum devoid of everything except the huge black shape looming in front of him.
It's as if time has stopped.
A blur of gold flashes past him. Where Sam was standing there is now a confusing tangle of growling fur - black and sand. Edward is already in the air and he lands on nothing, rolling on the ground and coming up in a defensive crouch.
It's hard to see where one wolf starts and the other ends - they're tumbling over each other, locked together by their massive paws, snapping their jaws at each other. It's savagery in it's most pure and instinctual form. Brutal.
The sound of teeth connecting with soft flesh makes Edward sick with worry, but he can't tell which wolf is leaving bright red blood on the grass. With every spin and twist, the scarlet stain that covers both bodies gets bigger, and Edward soon realizes that this is a fight to the death. One of these wolves is not going to survive.
Around him, the rest of the pack are attacking - the ground shakes as giant paws hit the ground, the air suddenly filled with the sound of snarling wolves. He can hear shouts of warning, feet running, the sickening clash of sharp claws and stony flesh. He wants to see what's happening, but he can't take his eyes off his wolf.
Seth turns his head then, and holds Edward's gaze.
Edward realizes he never had a chance to tell Seth how he feels.
The small, sandy-colored wolf closes his eyes.
Edward wonders what the hell he is doing.
No no no no no no!
Edward runs as fast as he can, but he's too late.
Sam delivers a blow that crushes all of Seth's internal organs.
The pain radiates off his mangled body like a sound wave.
Every wolf in the clearing stumbles as it echoes through the pack bond. It's enough to give the Cullens a moment's advantage, and there are yelps of pain as the vampires fight back.
Edward doesn't hear anything except the sound of Seth's slowing heartbeat.
Seth's body has spontaneously phased back into his human form. Edward's heart cracks in two as he sees the awful gaping hole in his chest, and all the blood. So much blood. It smells like copper and seeps onto the grass beneath him in a sickening pool of red.
Edward kneels by his side and cradles Seth's head in his arms. The sound of wolves being defeated fills the clearing, but Edward is only aware of Seth. He's dying, bleeding out as he lies in Edward's arms.
This can't be happening.
Seth's eyes flutter open, and he manages a faint smile as he sees Edward above him. He makes a coughing sound like he's trying to speak, but Edward puts his fingers to his lips.
"I know. I love you, too."
It's the last thing Seth hears before the darkness claims him.
Edward pulls Seth's broken body into his arms, holding him close to his chest like he can somehow will him back to life. His beautiful face is untouched and peaceful - like he's sleeping. Edward simply can't understand how Seth can be gone. They had so little time.
Everything around him is the color of blood.
Someone is screaming.
He doesn't look up when Sam approaches.
He never sees the giant wolf raise his paw and deliver the fatal blow.