Author's Note: Oh hi! Yes, a new fic. Since we're in the last chapter of Don't Fear the Reaper and I got bitten on the ass by a plot bunny, I decided to post the prologue. This is Vamp AU and NOT a comedy. Big love to betas mac214 and jkane180. Also katinki is pre-reading as she's a sexpert in all things dark and kinky. DoUTrustMe pre-read too. As always, no copyright infringement is intended, do not read if you're under 18 or easily squicked by a little gore.
In the Shadow of Your Heart is a horror/romance, and the vampires are only canon-ish. No singer and no telepathy. Also, no Alice or Jasper.
The stars, the moon, they have all been blown out
You left me in the dark
No dawn, no day, I'm always in this twilight
In the shadow of your heart
-Florence and the Machine
When I was seven, I burned my hand on the stove.
Sure, it fucking hurt, but what stuck with me some ten years later was my body's intrinsic response - my hand snapped away from the element seemingly of its own volition. How did I know to recoil before my brain could even perceive the heat?
The answer wasn't hard to find: if you touch something hot enough to burn, warmth receptors stop firing, and specialized pain receptors take over. In other words, my brain protected my body faster than I was able to understand what was happening . . . before the pain crippled me into impotency.
There was no point dwelling on that. Trying to remember pain is an exercise in futility.
The mind protects itself.
Why was I thinking about this?
Because at four o'clock on my eighteen birthday—September 13th, 2008—I watched my childhood friend, Jessica, have her head blown clear off her neck not four feet away from me. We had stopping in at the 7-Eleven in Port Angeles on a class trip to the Historical Museum, and the shooter was a scruffy man wearing nothing but camo-print cargos and a sawed-off shotgun .
Shit, I remembered - it was an indelible bloodstain on my psyche. I remembered walking into the store, my fingers clutched by my boyfriend Mike's clammy hand. I didn't want him to touch me, and I was feeling restless that day, desperate for something pivotal to coax away the feeling of inertia that plagued me of late.
Be careful what you wish for? Nah. I didn't believe in that - luck, fate, god, whatever.
I believed in my mind. I believed in my parasympathetic nervous system. I believed in biology, the receptors that pulled me away from the hot element.
But I didn't believe my eyes.
"What are you looking at?" Jessica demanded. She was facing me, and the gunman was behind her, cocking his head, fixated by something he saw on the back of her skull. I couldn't move or speak, even as I felt Mike's hand slip away from my own. I wanted to warn her, but maybe it was best if she didn't know it was coming.
"Nothing," I said quietly.
The shotgun blast exploded into chaos, but I was perched on the eye of a needle, moving carefully, slowly, deliberately. So carefully, I crept away from the shooter. While everyone else was busy screaming, I dropped to the ground and covered my head, vaguely aware of the spray of blood that covered me. The bits of matter that clung to my clothes . . . I didn't want to fathom what they were, but I couldn't help but wipe my hand against the floor.
I saw pieces of hair and bone, and swallowed my screams
I stayed very still, trying not to cry. I just breathed. Over and over again, I breathed and prayed for the first time in my life that my body would keep breathing. Protect me. Pull me back from the burn, God. Brain. Neurons fire and save me . . .
Killers like moving targets, my mind told me wisely. I wouldn't move.
Shells fell to the ground, tinkling like metal raindrops. I somehow heard the empty, falling shells above every other sound . . . and then I heard nothing.
For a blissful, terrifying, and interminable moment, there was darkness.
And then pain. White, red, and blinding.
Consciousness exploded through me, leaving me cold and nauseous; it was nuclear winter in my mind. I groaned, swallowing bitter saliva as my stomach forced acid into my esophagus, burning a terrible path into my throat.
"Mike," I croaked. "Don't let go of my hand."
I was going to die. Biology had failed me.
My fingers were still intertwined with Mike's, but his hand was colder than usual, unresponsive to my touch.
I was so cold too.
Another shotgun blast exploded through the tiny store, and my ears rang, my mind numb with shock. My blood rushed in my veins; I could hear the steady whooshing. I concentrated on the rhythmic pulse of my heart, the reassuring metronome that signified I was still alive.
"I don't see him, Mike," I whispered. "Maybe he's gone?"
His hand was so cold. Why wouldn't he squeeze my fingers?
"Don't let go of me," I whispered, turning my head.
Mike's eyes were open, unblinking; the hand I held was no longer attached to his body.
I screamed. I'd leave the world crying, begging, fighting for my life. The logic I'd clung to was lost, and I didn't care that pleading wouldn't help. My fear ruled me now.
"Don't cry. You're okay," a voice said; a man, no, an angel said, perched on top of a display case like a quadruped ready to pounce. He was beautiful, the light bouncing against him like he was a constellation of diamonds, a spectrum of colour refracting against his skin.
"What the fuck . . ." The gunman spoke for the first time, but his words tapered off into a gurgle. Faster than I could register, something shot through his abdomen, effectively eviscerating him; transmuting him into a pile of organs, the echo of his attacker's footfalls reached my ears in seemingly the same instant.
The angel licked a line of blood off his wrist, and suddenly, I was blinded by rainbows.
There were bones beneath my head; there was no other explanation for what cradled me as I thrashed against the cold, hard vines that had me ensnared. I'd expected to feel the grimy, linoleum floor of the 7-Eleven beneath me, but gravity seemed to have evaded me.
"I apologize . . . I'm not used to handling something so fragile."
"W-what?" I tried to rub my head, but my arm wouldn't move.
He was speaking to me, but I couldn't hear anything above the rushing in my ears. I thought maybe I was dying, that I'd died with the rest of my classmates, and he really was some sort of angel. I mean, he looked like one. Archangels were supposed to be terrible creatures in the Old Testament. Satan was an angel. He was probably beautiful too.
I'd have to re-evaluate my belief system.
My throat was so dry, and my lips felt pasted together. I needed to speak. I couldn't summon words.
"I think you've soiled yourself," the angel/demon informed me.
He was right, I realized, flushing with shame. "I'm s-sorry."
"The smell is rather pungent, but it doesn't really bother me," he said clinically. "I imagine it's uncomfortable for you, though. I'll help you bathe, if you wish."
Feeling had not yet returned to my lower extremities, so it was difficult for me to comment about my level of comfort. "I don't know." I really didn't know anything; it was an apt reply. "Are we flying? Do you have wings?"
"No." He might have smirked . . . it was hard to tell. His facial expressions altered so quickly. Even his mouth seemed to move at a different rate than his words. "I'm running. I'm taking you to my home in the woods."
Why was he taking me to his home?
"I want my father," I whispered.
"I'm sorry . . . you can't go home. It's not possible."
A/N - I'd love to know what you think.