'Behind The Lyrics' Contest
Title: Chance to be Whole
Disclaimer: Characters are Stephenie Meyer's. This takes place just after Harry's heart attack in New Moon. Thanks to PTB betas EvilPumpkin and Say Goodbye Again
Lyric prompt that you were given: Whenever I'm alone with you, you make me feel like I am whole again
I sat in the cruiser outside the Clearwater house.
Harry. He'd been a good friend, a good man. I looked at the yard, at Seth's bicycle, and thought how hard this would be for Seth and Leah - for Sue. I'd lost a friend, but they'd lost so much more. Losing Renee wasn't the same as Sue losing Harry or Billy losing Sarah, but similar enough for me to recognize grief, to know how had it is to let go. If anything, it was easier for them knowing there was no way of getting their spouse back. How long had I held out hope for Renee? Too long.
I was here for Sue, I reminded myself, rolling my shoulders in my thick jacket. I wasn't exactly cold, but felt... out of place. I opened the door and stepped out, footsteps crunching. Nothing was paved in La Push, packed gravel and large stones sufficed. The stair creaked as I put my foot on it, rotten wood that would give way one day soon. Harry had always meant to replace it. I would do it next weekend, I decided.
A quick rap on the door was answered with a muffled, "Come in." The voice was strained, as though forced out of a tight throat. She'd been crying.
Opening the door, I saw Sue standing next to Billy's wheelchair, scrubbing her face with the back of her hand. Dark hair, cut relatively short, fell into her face, and she brushed it away with the tears she was trying to hide. She didn't need to hide them from me. I knew her loss. Renee wasn't dead, but our marriage was.
Her skin was fairer than Billy's ruddy tones and darker than mine. I could still see the red rims around her eyes and a few darker streaks where the tears had coursed. Unable to bear them, I strode forward, my boots leaving mud on her floor, and put my arms around her.
"I'm sorry, Sue." My voice cracked, and I felt tears that I had yet to shed spring to my eyes. I had let some fall last night, in the dark of my room, but they'd been interrupted by worried thoughts for my daughter who hadn't come home. Here in Harry's house, holding Harry's wife, Bella was far from my mind. "I'm so sorry."
She choked back a sob and tucked her head into my shoulder. "I can't believe it. I knew he wasn't well, but I never dreamed... Why now? Why did it have to be now?" Her angry voice bit at me and she shoved me away, dark eyes sparking first at Billy and then me. "Why didn't he listen to me? Damn you, Harry! I told you. How many times did I tell you?"
Billy's wheel squeaked a little as he rolled to her knees. "You told him plenty. He was a grown man, and they listen worse than boys." His smile was warm and easy, but I could see the grief in his eyes, too. He'd been much closer to Harry than I.
His jibe worked and Sue laughed in spite of herself. "I suppose. If I can't get Seth to stop tracking mud in, how could I expect..." She faded out, frowning at my feet.
"Shit," I swore quietly, stepping back and tugging off my boots.
She chuckled again, probably at my alacrity. Then it was gone in another pained expression before she turned away to hide it. Billy touched her elbow, then stroked her back. I approached slowly, putting my hands on her shoulders. They shuddered very slightly as she fought her sobs. She was trying to hold them on, not breathing.
"We're here for you, Sue," I told her, knowing Billy agreed.
She took a gasping breath as the door crashed open. We all turned to see the two large boys coming in, Jacob towering over Seth. Even so, Seth had shot up to top me by an inch. The speed with which both of them had grown was almost alarming.
Sue's face brightened, darkened and brightened again. I thought she'd meant to lay into the boys for mistreating the door but she just rushed past Billy and me to hug her son.
"Thank God. Where's your sister? I haven't seen her since she ran out of the hospital," she murmured into Seth's shoulder. It was bare, I noticed, though I doubted she did. All he wore was a pair of cut-off pants. Jake was dressed the same. He exchanged a look with Billy, who sighed. I had no idea what that was about, but it probably wasn't my business anyway.
"She's... with Sam," Seth said in a strangled voice.
Sue backed up slightly, looking into his eyes. "Sam?"
"Yeah," Jake put in. "He's trying to console her, calm her down. She's still very upset."
Sue nodded. "I see, but Sam?" The two had dated for a while, but a bad break had happened and I knew Leah hadn't spoken to the boy — well young man — in months.
Jacob shrugged, offering no further explanation. He turned to his father, Billy. "The elders are meeting. They want you there."
Billy nodded. "Funeral arrangements and more, I'm sure." He rolled forward. "You'll stay with Sue, Charlie?" he asked as he reached Jake.
" Mom, I'm going to go to Sam's. If that's okay?" he asked, looking down at his mother with worry in his young eyes. It looked wrong on him.
She patted his arm. "Of course — go. She'll need you. Let me know if she needs me." The last words broke a little in her throat and Seth hugged her again.
"She does need you, Mom. She didn't mean it. You know she didn't." I couldn't help but wonder what Leah might have said. Angry words, no doubt.
"I know." Sue sniffed a little. She stepped away from Seth and he turned to follow the other two out the door.
"Jake," I called as they left, "have you seen Bella?" Jacob's face darkened as he scowled.
"Not since last night." He didn't say anything else but pushed his father roughly down the step, making wood and metal chair complain. She must have said or done something out of the ordinary. She and Jake had been getting along well since that brief interlude a month ago. I'd ask him later.
I realized that I was alone with Sue, both of us staring at the closed door. Her back was straight, though her arms were crossed in front of her, one hand at her mouth, worrying on a nail. Her long lashes were still damp. Her thin frame was erect and strong. Harry had neglected himself physically, leading to his heart attack, but Sue was well-muscled, toned. Her job as a nurse required it, just as mine did. How many times had I admired that profile and kicked myself for looking at my friend's wife? More than I could count. Any moment now she would turn...
"Charlie," she said in surprise. "I forgot you were here. Can I get you something to eat?" She turned for the kitchen, hostess reflexes drowning out any other motions and emotions.
"I'm fine. Let me make you some tea though," I suggested, reaching the kettle ahead of her.
She quirked an eyebrow and smiled. "You? Tea?"
I huffed through my mustache. "Just because I don't drink it... It's supposed to be soothing right? That's what people do when..." Hanging my head I felt the need to apologize again.
"It is. Tea would be lovely, thank you, Charlie." She put her hand on my arm, squeezing very gently. Her lips turned up very slightly. It was so much better than the worry and sadness that had darkened them all of yesterday. Tentatively, I traced them with a fingertip.
Snatching my hand back, my mouth slackened in shock. Had I just done that? Harry wasn't even in the ground yet, and I... I loathed myself in that moment. A worthless, greedy, grabbing man.
She surprised me though, reaching up to trace a finger down my nose. Her lips turned further into a smile - not as warm or relieved as the one she'd given Seth, but happy. "Thank you, Charlie." She said as I turned away to open cupboards, looking for tea. It came in bags, right? Boxes?
"No problem," I said lightly, finding a box and opening it to reveal several bags. Relief washed over me, knowing I might not screw this up. The kettle was about to boil.
Her arms curled around my sides, hands flat to my chest, and I felt her face press into my back. I was still wearing my jacket like an ingrate. "Thank you," she said again, cheek making a whisking sound against the smooth fabric.
I turned slowly, carefully, lifting my arm to curl around her. I leaned back onto the counter, bracing myself. Pulling her to my chest, I stroked her hair. "I'm sorry."
"You've said that." Her voice held a tinge of anger. "What are you sorry for?"
"That you have to go through this. That you have to feel a part of your heart die. Feel it torn away and buried with him. That you have to push on to do what you've done everyday as though nothing has changed, when nothing will ever be the same." That was me, after Renee, pretending nothing had changed. "That you will do this alone."
She swallowed hard. "I won't do it alone, Charlie. You're with me." She tilted her head back, looking up at me. If I tipped mine down, our lips would touch. I started to pull away, but she took her hand from my back and grabbed my chin, tugging it.
I was rigid as she kissed me, completely uncertain. Her lips were plump and full, soft on mine, closing around my bottom lip. Her eyes were closed, and her hand tensed on my back, pulling me closer. She wasn't uncertain, but she might be a moment from now, or regretful.
Her eyes opened slowly and she backed up, looking down. "I see."
"Huh?" What did she see? Something I did? Damn, I'd never been able to understand Renee, but she was Renee — I wasn't sure anyone could understand her. I thought I understood women better now, which was foolish, I hadn't really spent any more time with any.
"I thought... together..." She seemed unable to find the words, instead coloring very slightly. "Silly of me."
I seized her in my arms and kissed her, much more earnest, putting everything into that kiss that I'd wanted to all the years I'd envied Harry, envied what he had with this wonderful woman. My friend's wife. I shouldn't look at her the way I did. I knew I shouldn't think of her beneath me, moaning. I definitely shouldn't imagine her in my kitchen, reading the paper with me in the morning. The domestic seemed more of a slight against Harry than the erotic. I'd never dreamed I could have her, and certainly would have done anything to prevent what had given us the opportunity, but I wasn't about to let her think it was because I didn't want it. "When I'm alone with you, I feel whole again." Simple truth, small, but there it was. I hoped she didn't take too much from it, didn't feel any pressure by it.
She nodded, seeming to understand. Abruptly her face screwed up and she buried her face in my chest. "How could I?" Shit, I thought. Here was the guilt. At the same time, she shared her grief with me, not hiding, not disappearing, clinging to me as cried.
There was nothing I could say. I held her and prayed she would forgive me, forgive herself. I prayed that we could be whole, together.