Ok 'The Host' is one of my favourite books and I was a little disappointed by the lack of Melanie/Jared fanfics since they're my favourite pairing. Anyway I'd been toying with this idea for a few days now and once I started writing I just couldn't stop! I was too excited to wait until tomorrow to publish it. Enjoy :D

Disclaimer: Although I really, really wish that it had been my imagination that created Jared Howe and 'The Host' it's not. They belong to the brilliant mind of Stephanie Meyer.


Bitter-Sweet

"Ha-ha! Beat you again!" Melanie Stryder bellows triumphantly to the vast, open space of the canyon below, slamming her right hand on the dusty rock face of the cabin entrance.

Following closely behind her, Jared Howe takes the last few agonising strides to the peak of the steep climbing hill that he and Melanie had just sprinted up of, relieving himself of the heavy weight of the goods that they'd stolen on their most recent raid. He reaches Melanie's side, heaving rapidly.

"Where's Jamie?"

Jared huffs. "He refused...to race us...when he realised...you were going to win."

The victorious brunette smiles smugly to herself. "He's such a sore loser."

"Well you did cheat." Jared retorts as he leans against the granulose red stone wall of the cliff.

Melanie looks at him incredulously and holds her hand to her chest, feigning shock. "Me? Cheat? I never cheat. You just need to push yourself harder."

"Maybe." He amends. "But you did give yourself a head-start."

"Humph!"

Jared smirks and pulls away from the wall, extending an arm to snare around Melanie's waist only to grasp a handful of air instead. Confusion is evident on his face as he glances from a guileless looking Melanie to the space where she'd been previously sulking.

"What?" She asks a little too sweetly. "You're all sweaty and gross."

"You've never complained about it before now." He responds good-naturedly to which Melanie quirks a delicate eyebrow at him. Jared grins and dares a chance to ensnare her in his arms whilst she's distracted. He pulls her tight against his body and is content when she melts back into him, nestling her head in the crook of his neck.

Silence engulfs the cabin as Jared presses his face into Melanie's hair, inhaling her delectable scent while she pursues in kissing the pulse point on his neck, extracting a guttural groan from deep within his chest. They both pull back to look at one another, his fervent brown eyes gazing into her smouldering hazel ones, before their lips reunite. The raging fire between them scorches their skin, leaving all of their stolen goods forgotten on the floor.

They finally break apart when Jamie's wailing reaches them at the cabin.

"You guys are no fair!" He sulks, kicking aside a bag full of canned beans before he pushes past the two lovers and collapses onto the tattered couch in front of them. "I'm beat!" He sighs causing both Jared and Melanie to burst out into a fit of laughter...


The brick-red sunlit canyon darkens as day morphs into night. Billions of stars are speckled across the midnight sky, shining down upon the shadowy abyss below. A cool breeze whistles through the crevices of the rocky precipices and into the cosy cabin in which Jared, Melanie and Jamie now take shelter in. Jared is clearing away the remains of their most recent meal as the two Stryder siblings lounge on the fraying love-seat, their stomachs full for once.

"You guys ate like absolute pigs tonight." Jared remarks, cleaning the saucepan in the dim light of a kerosene lamp.

Melanie lifts her head up. "That's because you never told us that you could cook so well." She counters, Jamie groaning in agreement.

Jared chuckles. "Only because you never gave me the chance. What did you think? That I was going to give you food-poisoning?"

"Yeah, well you can be head-chef now. Congratulations you've earned it."

"I'm honoured."

Melanie rolls her eyes—Jared can never be serious, not even if his life depended on it—and hoists herself up off of the deteriorating couch, giving her younger brother the space to stretch out fully now. "You won't be saying that when we're low on food." She promises, leaning down to help him finish off the remainder of the dishes.

Jared grins. "I'm sure I can handle it. Right Jamie?" Jamie doesn't respond and Melanie strolls back over to him, pushing his long, dark, inky hair out of his face.

"He's asleep." She whispers, gently lifting him up so that's he's cradled in her arms. "I'm just going to take him into the other room." Jared nods and the motherly teen carries the young boy towards the small bedroom, carefully placing him onto the large mattress.

Jamie seems significantly younger now, his childlike features more pronounced in slumber. A smile plays across Melanie's face as she listens to him snore luxuriously, his arms sprawled out wide across the bed. Feeling tired herself, she manoeuvres one of his inert limbs so that she has space to lie down next to him when a large calloused hand closes down on her shoulder.

Melanie yelps and turns to face Jared, who holds a finger to his lips, motioning for her to come join him. Confused, she follows him back into the main room, a question forming at the tip of her tongue. They sit together on the love-seat.

"What the hell was that about?"

Jared frowns and Melanie instantly feels bad about the harshness of her tone but he did scare the living daylights out of her.

"I just wanted to spend the first waking moments of your birthday with you."

She pulls back from him. "My birthday?"

He nods. "May 22nd. That is your birthday. Isn't it?"

Indeed it is her birthday and she knows that it must have been near but certainly not today! Then again, Melanie never bothers to keep track of time anymore. What was the point when the world had already ended? However Jared refuses to let his life be measured by night and day-each second is precious to him which is why he always keeps a watch or two on him, to know that they still pass by—and so he had planned on surprising her when the time eventually came.

"It is your birthday isn't it Mel?" Jared asks again, not noticing the tears streaking down her cheeks.

Melanie nods profusely before hugging him tightly to her. He rubs her back soothingly as she cries into his shoulder.

Later when the tears stop falling and Jared actually manages to untangle himself from Melanie's iron grip, she thanks him by kissing him fully, purposely on the lips.

Jared draws back in bewilderment, his tawny eyes swirling with conflicting emotions. "Melanie-"

"Shh. Don't ruin this moment with logic. Let's deal with the consequences tomorrow." She murmurs, leaning back in and reigniting the kiss. He doesn't argue; instead he follows her lead, his right hand caressing her face as their night begins to fill with hot slippery kisses and the fierce intensity of the fire that burns between them...


The scene fades away into darkness again. It's even later into the night now, almost two years later, and the three rebels are no longer free amongst the crags of the Rocky Mountains; instead they're moving around warily in the kitchen of some old country house, the worms who occupy it having left to go on holiday several hours ago. The three of them work together to steal food from the fridge and pantry, the glow of a tiny TV screen being the only source of light in the ominous room as Jared occasionally heads outside to deposit the goods in the jeep.

Jamie is stuffing his face with some left-over cookies whilst absentmindedly flipping through the dull selection of TV programmes for anything other than the garbage that the parasites often shove down their throats. Meanwhile his sister scavenges the cupboards for anything else that may be of use to them, having already gathered the food in a pile for Jared to bag when he returns from outside. Her back is to the wall, an instinctual stance that she still can't shake and probably never will so long as she's a fugitive in this dangerous and unforgiving world. She watches the flickering screen until Jamie decides to settle on some cheery news channel, hoping that the weather will come on shortly.

As usual the anchor-man is full of overbearing optimism, his silver-rimmed eyes reflecting back the glare of the studio lights. There's a story about some worm who has achieved an exceptional amount of community service and the studio cuts to another news reporter in the midst of downtown Chicago. As he's talking, a vivid blob of red flashes across the screen which immediately catches Melanie's attention.

"Jamie rewind the TV back a minute."

The boy turns round to face his older sibling, crumbs spilling down the front of his coat. "Why?"

"Don't ask me why just do it. Oh you know what…" She sighs exasperatedly, reaching out to snatch the remote out of his hands before winding back the news to the point where the red flash flitters around in the background again.

Melanie replays the same bit repeatedly, again and again, staring at the screen with a fierce intensity when Jared pushes back through the door into the cramped little kitchen and looks at Melanie in mystification.

"What's she so freaked out over?" He asks the younger boy but Jamie just shrugs.

"It's her!" Melanie cries out. "I can't believe it! It's really her!"

Jared glances at the TV. "Who?"

"My cousin Sharon." She answers him, rewinding it back again.

Jamie focuses on the antique TV set now. "Where? Where?"

"Look. Can't you see her?" Melanie points at a red-headed woman a few years older than herself. She moves swiftly through the crowd, her eyes flitting back and forth as though she's paranoid that someone is watching her.

Jared opens his mouth to speak but Melanie cuts him off in her excitement. "Who else could it be? Aunt Maggie lived up in Chicago. I'm willing to bet that Sharon's hiding out in her mother's secret den. You know those two were just like Uncle Jeb. The Crazies." She laughs and Jamie joins in. "Besides no one but Sharon has hair as bright as that."

Jared frowns at the pair of them "Melanie whilst it's possible that that woman is Sharon, there's absolutely no way of telling whether she's still human or not." He states bluntly, crushing Jamie's sudden buoyancy. The boy's smile falls and he looks back at Jared sadly. His sister however stands her ground.

"But no parasite would be that fearful of being seen. Can't you see how she's trying to blend in? Why would one of those worms do that?" Melanie argues, folding her arms across her chest defiantly.

Jared bites his lip. "I don't know. Maybe she was in a rush to get somewhere. Mel, baby, we can't afford to risk it. Even if she is human there's little chance of her believing that we are. I mean we didn't exactly think that we had stumbled across another human being when we first met. Not until we saw each other's eyes."

"Which is exactly why we need to go. There's safety in numbers right? Plus it's hope. Hope that we aren't the last people in existence on this planet."

"I don't like it. It's too risky. I couldn't afford to lose you or Jamie."

Melanie smiles tenderly. Jared's protectiveness never fails to warm her heart but sometimes he is too overprotective; the whole point of being human is being able to take a few risks every now and then.

"You couldn't lose me if you tried." She teases, slowly moving towards her lover's tense figure. Wrapping her arms around his neck, she kisses his cheek softly before whispering in his ear. "I'll always come back. I love you too much to stay away."

"I know." He answers, pressing his lips to her forehead, promising to himself that he would never let her go...

Jared startles awake, sweat beading across his forehead as he struggles to remember his whereabouts. His throat is uncomfortably dry and in the darkness he can hear Jamie snoring softly. For a brief moment he thinks that he's back at the cabin, waiting for the impending sunrise that signifies their sheer luck at being able to witness another day pass by. He rubs his eyes sleepily but as his sight improves an overwhelming wave of grief sets in as reality catches up to him. Lately his dreams have been the only means of escaping the devastating truth that currently haunts him every waking minute of the day.

Melanie. His uniquely beautiful and witty Melanie had been captured by those filthy body-snatching parasites—which is a fate far worse than death itself—leaving him and Jamie behind to mourn her absence.

Never before has his spirit been so crushed; not even the deaths of his laughing father and two burly elder brothers could compare to the intensity of his breaking heart when he found Melanie's crumpled up note back in Chicago. Jared had always been able bounce back from the worst of things but the loss of the one person who he had cherished the most had snuffed out all of his warmth like a flame, rendering him sour and resentful. All of his emotions seem to have ebbed away, leaving nothing more than the cold empty shell that he is today.

Melanie was unlike anyone else Jared had ever met before; from the very moment that they first kissed Jared knew that she was his missing half and within the first few days of making her acquaintance he was certain that he could never fall in love with someone as fiercely as he did for her. Now that she's gone he feels as though he has no incentive to live other than the sole instinct to protect Jamie from harm. It was his last promise to Melanie and he would do his damnedest to keep it.

Even at the caverns Jared still feels partially responsible for the boy's safety despite there being several other family members who could now take care of him. Only Jared's need to watch over the kid isn't just out of loyalty to Melanie, he had developed a deep brotherly bond with the young boy and couldn't bear to see him go through any more traumas.

In fact Jared sometimes relies on Jamie to keep him stable since he's the closest connection to Melanie he has, but for most part the gangly teen is a painful reminder of everything he had lost and so Jared often pushes him away, knowing that Jamie is suffering just as much as he is, and is in need of some emotional support like his sister used to provide, but the heart-broken man couldn't bring himself to show any weakness. Even though he struggles to maintain his steely composure 24/7.

Almost every night Jared would sneak down to the river room where he would vent out all of his pent up anger. Quite often he cursed the world for taking away the girl who had stolen his heart. Sometimes he would speak to her and lamented to her about the good times before the grief became too much for him to resist. He knew that Melanie would scold him for this. That she would be upset at how he would seek solitude to mourn her loss.

'Stop moping and grow a pair Jared.' She would say. 'You need to get over yourself for Jamie's sake.' He'd smile at the thought of her scowling at him, but it was easier said than done.

She would be blissfully unaware of Jared's pain and suffering as her spirit is safe from the dangers of the current world. Yet Jared would do anything to bring her back if were possible. After all Melanie had been cruelly stripped away from him along with all of his remaining hopes and dreams, leaving him with nothing but empty promises and two and a half years of bitter-sweet memories.


Voila! I only ever intend for this to be a one-shot but I am currently writing a Mel/Jared fic that will be hopefully posted up here sometime in the future. Anyway if you liked it or if you've spotted any mistakes, let me know. It'll encourage me to write even more and improve on my writing.

Lefthandedpeoplerule :D