Title: Seeing You
Summary: Kim's story.
Disclaimer: The characters and situations are not mine, I'm only borrowing them and I'm not making any money from this endeavor.
Author's note: I've noticed that only about half the people reading chapter one have followed on to chapter 2. So if that describes you, please do me a favor and let me know why you decide to back out. :) I've got tough armor, so constructive critism won't hurt my feelings. Thanks for helping me to improve my writing!
"It's so hard to describe. It's not like love at first sight, really. It's more like… gravity moves. When you see her, suddenly it's not the earth holding you here anymore. She does. And nothing matters more than her. And you would do anything for her, be anything for her…. You become whatever she needs you to be, whether that's a protector, or a lover, or a friend or a brother." -Jacob Black, Eclipse, page 176 (emphasis added)
Kim hunched lower in her seat and bowed her head slightly, letting the brown strands fall loose around her face to hide it. Her heart pounded in her chest and her mouth felt drier than last night's overcooked chicken. She ignored the snickers of the two teens sitting the seats next to her, pretending that they weren't laughing her. It was easier that way.
The door to the classroom creaked and without raising her face, she strained her eyes to see him walk in. Her heart thumped even harder in her chest and her hands started to shake slightly as butterflies migrated en masse to her stomach. She could barely breathe and the lack of oxygen made her slightly light-headed.
She never thought it possible, but the boy had become even more gorgeous. Gone for weeks with mono and he shows back up to school two inches taller and with a thousand more pounds of muscle. All that, combined with his new haircut, had resulted in Jared spending the last three days since his return surrounded by a harem of girls flirting with him.
Kim envied them slightly, how easily they smiled and batted their eyes and wiggled their hips oh-so-alluringly. She'd kill to be alluring. She'd kill for the simple ability to speak coherently to a member of the opposite sex.
She watched Jared step into the room and scan the area. His routine rarely varied. In a moment, he would smile and laugh his way through the crowd and sit in the second row, last seat. He would drop his backpack under the desk and ask the girl in front of him for a pencil with a charming smile. Only he didn't.
Today, his review of the room took longer and seemed more intense, deliberate and thorough, as if searching for someone specific. Finally, his eyes stopped in her direction, Kim figured he'd noticed Sophy sitting directly behind her, and he sidestepped three girls, four backpacks and two boys as he made his way through the maze.
As he grew nearer, Kim dropped her eyes to her notebook. Despite the camouflage of her hair, she would not take the chance he would see her straining her eyes to stare.
Her lungs completely stopped taking in air as he approached. Without even looking, she felt his presence, felt the familiar and tortuous magnetic pull that she both loved and hated at the same time. The sensation intensified with his ever closer proximity.
And then, to her simultaneous delight and horror, he dropped his backpack under the desk to her right and crammed his huge frame into the seat. What about Sophy? Shouldn't he walk around the aisle and start flirting with girl who was sure to be this year's prom queen?
Desperate for something to do, she forced her shaking hands to reach under her desk and pull up her own backpack, searching for a pencil. The teacher would be here any second now. Somehow, her target had disappeared and the search became a quest as she shuffled books and papers around to look for the little yellow stick.
This would just round out her wonderful day. Sophy and Michael snickered beside her again and sharp humiliation slithered through her veins.
"Here," Jared's voice said softly, and his hand brushed against her arm as a pencil appeared on her desk.
Her heart stopped and her eyes darted in his direction against her will. Their revolt only lasted a split second before she gained control, but in that short time they took in his gentle smile and those eyes filled with compassion.
Great. He felt sorry for her. She preferred to be faceless. She wanted to say thank you, but her mouth wouldn't operate as per instructions, so she managed a weak nod.
Mr. Stone called the class to order, saving her from any further interaction.
Lovesick and feeling pathetic, she picked up his pencil and held it in her fingers. This would be the closest she'd ever come to touching him, and she vowed she would never lose his charitable gift.
Class was a challenge to endure as she tried to pay attention to the teacher, take notes, and constantly remind herself to perform what would normally be involuntary functions like breathing, blinking, and swallowing. Shooting the random glances in his direction through her hair, she realized that he spent the entire hour turned in her direction.
To be realistic, he had to sit sideways; his body was so big that he didn't fit properly into the small space. But she allowed herself a small fantasy that he kept his feet three inches from her own crossed under her desk because he wanted a connection with her, to be close to her. That's why he chose that particular desk today.
A girl was allowed to fantasize, right? And even if this particular fantasy was right up there with pixies and stardust, it was still fun to imagine.
At last the bell rang, freeing her from the torment, and with near superhuman speed she raced from the room to make it to the cafeteria before all the seats were taken. The effort felt Herculean, like one of those nightmares where you run with all your strength, but some invisible force pulls at you.
She should have returned his pencil.
But then she'd have to interact with him.
Shaking her head, Kim yanked open the cafeteria doors to discover she was the first person there. That made life easier. Retrieving her tray, she claimed her table in the farthest corner of the cafeteria and plopped down to flip his pencil with one hand as she picked at the unidentifiable food in her tray with the other.
The yellow twirl of the pencil as it looped through her fingers became mesmerizing, and she soon forgot the gloppy food in front of her. With each rotation of the writing utensil, she amused herself with a memory about Jared.
Flip flip flip flip. The goofy smile on his face in eighth grade when he won the class spelling bee. Flip flip flip flip. The time he bumped into her while rushing to his locker in ninth grade. Flip flip flip flip. The time he cut Mr. Yeager's lawn when the man got laid up with a broken leg. Flip flip flip flip.
This was ridiculous. She needed to get a grip. Whatever mystical connection she felt was completely one sided, and if anyone ever caught wind of the fact that in her own mind she labeled Jared as "mine", she'd be given therapy sessions for sure.
"That's really impressive."
Jared's voice broke into her self-analysis, startling her and causing her to screech while her hand sent the pencil flying through the air with missile-like precision, straight for the center of his forehead.
His hand shot out and caught it with less than an inch for the sharp lead to pierce his skin. "You've got good aim, too," he chuckled good-naturedly.
Kim desperately wanted to say something witty, something blasé and cool. Instead, she stared at him with shock, her mouth slightly open and strange sounds coming from her throat. She forced her mouth closed, furious with herself that her blank mind couldn't produce a simple greeting.
"Is this seat taken?" he asked, gesturing to the empty chair across the table from her.
She managed to shake her head "no", and dropped her gaze back to the slop on the table in front of her.
"Do you mind if I…?" he pointed to the chair again with the eraser of the writing utensil.
She shook her head "no" again, picking up her fork and poking at the red substance, stalling as she waited for him to grab the seat and go, taking his pencil with him. She sighed. So much for her souvenir.
And then the impossible happened. He slid into the seat, carefully placing his overloaded tray on the table, adjusting his drink and settling in.
Kim didn't have the nerve to look around, but she felt three hundred sets of eyes glued to the back of her neck. What on earth was he doing?
"Apple?" he offered, picking the fruit off his tray and handing it out to her.
She only stared at him in confusion.
"It's just," he said, putting the apple on her tray, "I noticed the Daily Surprise wasn't cutting it for you, and I thought you might be hungry."
So this was a mission of mercy. But how on earth could he have noticed her lack of appetite? It wasn't like he ever looked at her long enough to step out of the way in the hallway, let alone realize she wasn't eating.
Yesterday was the perfect example. He nearly tripped over her on their way out of history class, and the look of pure shock on his face that she actually existed humiliated her so badly, she ran to the library and hid during lunch break. The sight of his wide eyes and slightly opened mouth would forever burn in her psyche.
Any second now he would tire of her silence and move on to someone less mentally challenged. She had to say something. Anything.
SCORE! It had been somewhat squeaky, slightly faint, but actual words had passed her lips.
He smiled broadly, like he'd just received a present or something. "You're welcome."
The feeble conversation came to a screeching halt momentarily while he started eating. She tried not to stare, but as she nibbled on her apple, she couldn't help but watch as vast amounts of food began disappearing at an alarming rate. He must be starving.
Which made the sacrifice of his apple so much more poignant. Why was he here?
"I noticed you didn't have a jacket today," he said finally. "It's going to rain; do you have a ride home after school?"
"Yes," she managed. The bus was a ride.
Jared nodded, satisfied with her answer, but she imagined his eyes had seemed slightly disappointed. He ate a few more bites.
"Sophy and Michael should leave you alone from now on," he said at last, out of the blue. "Let me know if you have any more problems with them."
"Why would I do that?" she heard her voice ask, shocking herself. Did that really come from her?
He pierced her with his gaze, his brown eyes looking into hers. "Because you shouldn't have to listen to them acting like morons all year long," he answered.
The bell rang, saving her from having to answer him. She swung her backpack over her shoulder and reached for her tray, but Jared beat her to it, stacking it on top of his. "I'll take care of it."
"Thank you," she mumbled and escaped into the sea of teenagers making the daily exodus from the cafeteria. She swept along with the tide out into the hall without looking back.
The rest of the day flowed by like a surreal dream. Jared was everywhere. She couldn't escape him. Always down the hall from her talking to someone, or reading a bulletin board. She couldn't remember ever seeing him so often, and she'd been looking for him.
She breathed a sigh of gratitude as she sunk into the seat of the bus. Resting her head on the window, she watched the scenery flow by, hypnotizing her. Another day over.
At last, the bus stopped and she stepped off, watching until it disappeared around the corner. With no one around, she could be herself. The freedom raced through her veins and she walked home quickly.
If she was smart, she'd do her homework. But the day had shrouded her with restlessness, and she needed to work off pent up energy. It only took a moment for her to change her clothes, and within ten minutes, she was ready.
Dressed in sweatpants, running shoes and her favorite hoodie, she donned her earbuds and stretched her muscles before starting her familiar track through the nearby woods. Here was freedom. Here, she was capable, intelligent, and strong. She regulated her breathing and hurtled a fallen tree with a gracefulness she could never achieve at school… or anywhere public.
She pushed herself hard, loving the familiar scrunch of the mulch under her feet, the smell of the wet trees, the cool air whipping at her face. Even the rivulets of rain trailing down her face she felt an affinity with. She was home, and this was her element. She wound her way over the trail, letting the music from her ipod choose the rhythm and tempo of her steps.
She lost track of time, and idly noted that she'd completed roughly a third of her usual routine when something brown flashed in her peripheral vision. She didn't take much notice, probably some passing deer or elk. But the distant brown didn't fade, and she realized that it was keeping pace with her.
Smiling with the thrill, she shot a glance over her shoulder to identify the species of her new friend. To her shock and horror it wasn't a cute doe or masculine elk to greet her, but a massive, horse-sized wolf jumping a low-lying branch.
Kim felt the scream burst from her gut, through her lungs and escape to bounce off the trees and brush surrounding her. Her toe caught on a large rock and the hard ground pounding on her body matched the fear spiraling through her chest and limbs.
Before she could react, before she could pull in enough air to continue her blood-curdling scream, before her body even fully realized it had landed on the ground, a large muzzle, whimpering, pushed at her neck, sniffing.
Frozen in terror, she felt hot breath wash over her face and a warm soft tongue lick her ear before the muzzle poked and prodded her arms, her waist, and finally her legs and feet. She mustered enough control to squeeze her eyes shut tight, waiting for the creature to start its meal and finish her off.
But instead of the sharp teeth piercing through her skin, she heard the animal walk a few paces away, still emitting a gentle whimper.
Cracking one eye opened, she could see that the wolf had backed away from her and sat, staring at her. Waiting.
She too waited, and tried to regulate her breathing in an attempt to combat the irregular pulse which alternately stopped, and then sped. She didn't know what the delay was, but she didn't want to make any sudden moves and change the wolf's mind from whatever had caused it to spare her a few extra minutes of life. Eventually, though, laying in the water-logged mulch got cold, and she new she couldn't sustain this level of panic-filled adrenaline without permanent heart damage.
Taking in a deep fortifying breath, she slowly sat up and crossed her legs, never breaking eye contact with the wolf. Gradually, almost cautiously, the beast stood on all fours and approached her, finally sitting again a few feet in front of her.
The panic in her veins receded, downgrading to simple caution. Which was absurd, at best; she sat alone in the woods with a mutant deadly animal of mythical proportions.
But he just sat there, looking at her, panting lightly.
"Hello Big Guy," she finally said.
The look on the wolf's face was almost comical. And that's how she knew she was insane; to believe that this animal actually existed and that it could have an expression of pure shock in its eyes as it cocked its head slightly.
"I hate to break it to you," she informed him, "but as The Big Bad Wolf, you are a hopeless failure."
Now the animal pulled his head back slightly and she would swear he looked affronted.
Any and all fear of this beast disappeared like fog in the rising sun. She couldn't explain it, but for the second time in her life, she began to feel a strange connection. The magnetic pull usually reserved only for Jared reached out and fused itself to her core.
Huh. Weird. Maybe Jared wasn't as special as she thought. Maybe, just maybe, she could actually connect to other beings after all.
"Well honestly," she continued, "I was there for you to maul, and all you did was breathe on me."
Was that a smirk on that furry face?
"Not that I'm complaining. I do thank you for not devouring me."
The wolf huffed, and its head dipped slightly.
"But maybe you weren't doing me any favors," she reasoned. "Maybe I'm simply I'm not your flavor."
Could wolves raise an eyebrow?
"This could really be an insult," she continued. "Are you saying I'm not good enough for you?"
That massive pink tongue started bathing her face and neck, slobbering all over her.
"Oh gross!" she shrieked through her laughter, and pushed at its face to get him off her to no avail. "Ok! Ok! I take it back! You think I'm delicious!"
The wolf huffed again as it backed off, now with a smug expression.
Soaking wet, the cold had seeped into her bones and chose that moment to send a chill through her body. The wolf saw her shiver and growled softly as it lay down next to her, pushing in close. Warmth radiated off him, and she buried her arctic hands in his fur.
"Wow, you are really hot!" she exclaimed. The wolf turned its eyes to her, and she imagined amusement. "Look, I'm not a freak, ok? I'm sure that to a girl wolf, you're everything sexy."
He huffed and narrowed his eyes slightly as he twitched his head to the side. Kim could almost hear the "Yeah, right. Whatever."
"You know, it kind of sucks that you are figment of my imagination."
Big Guy's eyes shot to hers, staring.
"It's just that I had a really bad day, and here you are making it all better. I can talk to you." She shot him a wry look. "I can't talk to people; I end up sounding like a retard." She sighed and began running her fingers over the thick brown fur, scratching occasionally. "I hate being shy. Everyone at school thinks I'm either challenged or stuck-up."
The wolf snorted again, and she couldn't decide what he meant.
"It's getting late," she said after a moment of silence, rubbing his fur one last time. "I have to get home. My parent's will start to get worried."
She stood, and the wolf copied her. Leaning its massive head down, he pushed his forehead into her stomach, nuzzling her. In the process, he pushed her back a couple of feet and she laughed with a light heart. "Yeah, it's good to have a friend. I haven't had one for a very long time."
Big Guy licked her again, and she smiled as she swatted at him "Quit that!" she ordered. "Wanna race home?"
The wolf snorted and posed in the "ready" position. "Ready… Set…" The wolf took off and she scrambled to catch up. "Cheater!" she yelled around laughter, and followed the brown blur down the trail.
She couldn't remember the last time she felt so alive