A/N I don't own Twilight

Welcome to Shreds, little bits of Torn that will not make the story for various reasons. Thanks to Sherry, Deb and Hev99 for their wonderful feedback and support.

As Torn is one year old today, I want to take you back to where it all began...


The end (the beginning)

September 12th.

Something's in the air. I can feel it in my guts. And my gut feeling is never wrong.

He's drunk again. Beer was replaced by vodka a few hours ago.

I move quietly, so quietly the only thing I can hear is my own heartbeat.

I hope he passes out soon. Sleeps on the couch so I can go to bed and forget this day.

Chances are slim, I know.

My shoulder smarts. He kicked me when I was on my knees, cleaning the floor of the bathroom where he vomited his guts out. I have to put ice on it, but then he'll notice that I hurt and I won't give him that satisfaction.

It'll heal. It always heals.

Something's in the air. It's in his eyes, the way he follows my every movement without even moving the rest of his face. I hate him, hate him so much.

The only thing I can do is be calmer, quieter still. Finish my work as quickly as possible and hide out in my room until he's too drunk to stay awake.

It's all a matter of time. It's all a matter of determination. Who can hold their breath the longest.

I'm not sure I can win it tonight. He has vomited, which means his stomach is now empty, but it also means that a lot of liquor has left his system. It will take longer for him to pass out.

If my gut feeling is correct, I won't be having the last word tonight. I won't win.

But I can't upset him. Can't set him off.

I move slowly to prevent making any sound. Wipe the counter one last time, rinse the glass I used to take a sip of water.

It's a matter of time.

Peeking into the living room, I see his eyes are closed. Light from the TV flickers on his face. His mouth is open, he's snoring softly.

He's asleep.

Quickly, quietly, I tiptoe past him and make my way up the stairs, skipping the fourth step because it squeaks.

I tuck a strand of filthy hair behind my ear. He won't let me shower. He told me I'll have to ask for it. The skin of my head itches with unwashed hair, but I'll be damned if I speak up to ask for a shower. I don't dare to take one without his permission. I don't want to face those consequences.

Slipping into my bed fully clothed, I don't care anymore. It's all my fault; somewhere along the line I did something wrong and this is how I pay for it. That, and the countless other offences I can't possibly prevent. But every time I vow I will do better, try harder.

Make sure that next time, he won't find a reason to hurt me.

Shards of sound drift up to my room. I should have turned the volume of the TV down when I went up. Then again, it might have woken him and I didn't want to risk that.

Turning to my other side, I lie with my eyes open in the darkness and wait for sleep to take me.

It doesn't come. Of course it doesn't. It rarely does.

My breath hitches when I think I hear something. What was that? I see solely darkness and the silence rings in my ears, disturbed only by my wildly beating heart.

Nothing.

Was I mistaken?

I rarely am.

I listen, but hear nothing. Perhaps I was wrong. It can happen. I fuck up all the time, in the end.

My eyes go wider and I freeze up completely when suddenly the room gets lighter, slowly. My door is opening. Breath hitching, I turn to see Stefan standing in the doorway.

"You think you're the only one who can be quiet?" he asks slowly, lowly, happy to have surprised me it seems. He comes to me with deliberate, heavy steps, cornering me like he likes to do, knowing there's no way out for me.

I'm panting now, seeing him advance.

My gut feeling was right. He's drunk enough to be violent, yet sober enough to be so very strong and calculating still. The most dangerous combination.

The bed dips as he sits down on it, and I fight against gravity to not roll toward him. He lies in bed with me and rolls on top of me in one movement, taking my breath away with his weight.

I don't dare to shut down. There's something gleaming in his eyes I don't trust. There's more to it tonight than his pleasure in my pain.

Still, I do my best to ignore him, even though under his touch I can feel the bruises bloom.

He becomes angry when I don't react to his actions. I look away until he grabs my jaw in a painful grip and makes me look at him.

"You're so stoic, it's time I really break your spirit."

Oh, shit.

His hands tear at my clothes and I hear fabric rip, but he wrestles them from me until I am naked and vulnerable. I struggle to ignore the flaring pain, struggle to ignore his stale breath that reeks of liquor and the remnants of his sour vomit.

Please, let this be over soon, please.

When he's done, I'm almost relieved, hoping that he will leave and let me sleep. But he's not done. It's not over. A hand crosses my face with such force my neck cracks.

He's livid, rambling about my silence. Finally, he sits up on his knees and his hands close around my throat. "Let's see if you can make a sound…"

Air is taken from me and suddenly I can no longer breathe. I meet his eyes and I know my fear, for once, is really showing. He grins wickedly and tightens his grip.

I'm choking. I can't breathe in, I can't breathe out. His weight is heavy on top of me and as my lungs begin to burn, black spots start to appear before my eyes.

It can't end like this. However often I have wanted my life to be over, it can't happen like this.

I struggle, bringing my hands up and clawing at his face, his wrists, to let him relieve his grip.

"Just ask for it," he says, his voice sickeningly sweet and not even strained from the force he is using. "You only have to ask…"

In a last desperate attempt, I bring my leg up as hard as I can. In his confidence that I will never fight back, he has knelt over one of my legs, giving me this opportunity I cannot ignore.

My knee hits his groin with unexpected force and he exhales in a heavy groan. His hands leave my neck to cup his crotch and I heave, gasping for air, coughing, still feeling like I'm suffocating.

Out, I need out.

He's not paying attention so in the one second I have, I scramble back from underneath him and my foot hits his groin again, making him double over in pain as he slurs out a string of profanities.

I flee. Throwing on pants and a sweater, I grab my shoes and my backpack without knowing what's in it, and I run, followed by his curses and his stumbling steps.

"Don't you run from me! You'll always end up here and there will be hell to pay for you. Isabella, think twice before you turn your back on me!"

I'm out on the street already, pulling the door closed behind me so hard the glass shatters. I run, on bare feet, until I am three blocks further. Only then do I stop to put on my shoes. My feet are already bleeding, the blood streaming away in the heavy rain.

I am too shocked to cry, I think. The thick raindrops soak me in minutes and are a nice substitute for all the tears I have held back in my life.

I still can't breathe properly. My throat hurts so badly, I can't even touch it.

I can't think yet about what I have done. Will perhaps never think about it. I fought back. I did the one thing I was always taught not to do. I hurt him.

If I have to go back, I will not survive. But right now, I live.

In the distance, a church clock strikes twelve.

With a new determination, I set course to the only person I know I have a chance will help me.

Renée.