2

Rose

April 10, 1912

The Bukater girl took a deep breath, staring down at the lapping waves of water. Dark and seductive, the cold front blew around her, causing her hair to billow in the wind. Yes. This night Rose was truly alone—for the first time in what almost felt like ages. She knew now that her death was coming. She smiled feebly to herself, rising to her feet and walking slowly toward the edge of the ship.

It had been a nice, loving journey aboard the Titanic. Rose was lucky; she was one of the few who'd gotten to ride it, though her view of peasants had not changed. But why should she hate them? They hadn't chosen their lifestyle—well, most of them, anyway. She had no personal vendetta against peasants, only disliking them because it was in her blood. It wasn't something she could really stand up to, and she didn't know if it would ever be gone.

It didn't matter. She wasn't ever going to be able to voice her opinion, now that she was dying. Why should she even think about life, when the opposite was true? She took a deep breath and continued to walk. Gooseflesh raised along her arms as the night's cool breeze blew gently over her. Rose knew that in seconds, her entire body would be locked in ice, struggling to remain alive—and she hoped it lost the struggle.

Rose planted her feet carefully on the railing of the front of the ship—she couldn't quite remember what it was called. She rose to the top, then climbed over. Frightened, she grasped onto the edge again. For some reason, she couldn't let go. She wasn't ready to die just yet. No! she thought furiously. I must not think this way if I am to commit suicide. I must do it and be gone.

Rose took a deep breath, closed her eyes, shifted her weight, and prepared to jump off the ledge.

"What are you doing?"

The deep, seductive voice was not one she recognized—in fact, it wasn't anything she wanted to recognize. The man sounded utterly, heartbreakingly beautiful, and Rose tended to be attracted to those sorts of men. She tried to stop herself, but she couldn't help but turn around and look to see who had spoken.

And that was when she saw him. It was the peasant from this morning—the red-eyed one. His golden hair fell in locks around his face, and his crimson eyes watched her warily, as if he were afraid to get any closer to her.

"Why do you care?" she yelled. "No one cares about me, and neither should you."

"Ah, but I do." His voice was just as beautiful as his face, a thousand musical notes on a ukulele strumming one simple line. "I care because what do you think the charges will be if they find me here, your body in the water? What do you think the implications will be?"

"Bad... for you," she admitted.

"Exactly," he agreed. "And, also, for you. You would be dead, and you would have committed suicide. I'm pretty sure that's a big sin. I wouldn't want such a pretty girl to go to Hell."

She felt something stir, deep inside her soul, but she ignored it, just staring into those gorgeous crimson eyes.

"Now, come back over the edge," he crooned, his voice seductive. "Come now... come..."

Rose, as if in a trance, turned and climbed back over the railing. Once over, she jumped, falling to the ground—or she would have if he had not caught her. He'd been standing a few feet away from the railing, but it was still a miracle how fast he reached her. He steadied her, making sure that she was standing straight.

"I don't even know you," she sneered, trying to seem more irritated than she truly was.

"And I don't know you," he replied. "But I'd love to get to know you."

"You... you can't... say anything," she breathed. "If Cal finds out..."

He nodded, pressing his fingers to his lips and pantomiming locking a door and throwing away the key. "Your secret's safe with me, I promise."

She smiled.

"They're going to come looking for you soon, you know," he reminded her. "So we'd better get started on the introductions."

She blushed—a scarlet crimson that made him flinch for some reason. "Well, I'm Rose DeWitt Bukater."

"I'll just call you Rose. The rest is too long." He smiled.

"Fine. What's your name?" she asked.

"My name..." The man grinned, showing a set of pearl-white teeth. "Is Jack Dawson."

Jack

Jack blew deep breaths in and out, through his nose. When he was certain that his oxygen supply was stellar, he looked up at Rose. Her beautiful, fiery eyes wore an amused expression, as if his name surprised her. Her cheeks were still scarlet-red, and they were just as beautiful as the beloved scent of her blood—which was appearing everywhere now. It was torture not to rip his fangs right into her throat—but he resisted.

"Hello... Jack Dawson," she said, coming to stand a few inches away from him. The closeness was excruciating. Jack had to press his teeth into the skin of his lip to keep from grapping her, listing her head to one side and moving that beautiful hair out of the way to show her neck, the artery pounding with delicious blood and crimson sweetness—

"Hello," he said. "It's a pleasure to meet such a beautiful woman."

She blushed. "Why, thank you, sir."

"You're welcome. Hard not to find you attractive, even if you are all wet." Jack took off his jacket and handed it to her, making sure he didn't touch her—contact with her warm human flesh would make him lose it, he was certain.

"Thanks." Rose hesitated before continuing. "You know, I want to ask you something—this has been bugging me since I saw you earlier."

"Hmm?" He raised his eyebrows, wondering what such a magnificent creature could want from him.

"Why are your eyes red?" The question took him completely by surprise. As a vampire, there were several things humans could not see, and one of them was the red of a vampire's eyes. It was how he'd gotten on the ship. Humans couldn't see vampires' true eye color—well, most of them anyway; the slayers, a group of humans who existed only to kill vampires, were specially trained to see around the fabled "mist" that protected vampire eyes. Rose couldn't be a slayer; she'd have known why his eyes were red and what he was. And slayers found their mark at thirteen—and he knew Rose was far from thirteen years old. So he was flummoxed for a second. But he came up with a believable lie. "I have a disease in my eyes that turns them red at night. It's called flenaria." He thanked his lucky stars for coming up with the name of the "disease" so quickly.

"Aww, wow. That must feel awful." Rose put her hand on his shoulder, as if to comfort him. He tensed, struggling not to feel the warmth of her pulse against his shoulder. If he was going to convince her that he was human, the best thing to do would be to act human.

"Yeah. It does." Jack tried to breathe only through his nose. Sometimes that helped. If you breathed through your mouth, the power of the scent went all into your throat and through your lungs, making it much harder to resist. Rose's closeness was a factor too. Everything within him was screaming for him to forget about keeping up human pretenses and bite her—and drain her of blood until she was dead.

But Jack felt a connection with the woman. He couldn't kill her; but he did have to taste her blood eventually to see if she was the One, as Fabrizio had guessed earlier.

"Hey, Rose," he said, in an effort to keep his tone light. "How old are you?"

"Seventeen," she answered. "You?"

Oh, that was far from the slayer's mark age, he realized with surprise. If she was a slayer, she'd have manifested her gifts by now. He answered with the age he'd been when turned, though he'd lived for several hundred years past it. "Seventeen."

She chuckled. "Really? You don't look seventeen."

"I don't feel seventeen," he admitted. And he didn't. He felt hundreds of years beyond how old he looked.

"I don't either," she agreed. "Sometimes I feel like I'm too old in my head."

He laughed. "How is that?"

"Because I have suicidal thoughts and no one pays any attention to me and I start thinking about things a seventeen year old shouldn't and it all starts running together—" Rose caught her breath and stared at Jack, blushing. "Sorry."

"It's okay," he said, shaking his head. "You can talk as much as you want, Rose. I'll always listen."

Just at that moment, before Rose could say anything, a loud voice boomed: "Rose!" Jack's body tightened and his eyes closed. He knew that voice.

"I have to go, Jack. I'll see you later. Goodbye." Rose did something that surprised him, even though he couldn't see her expression. She leaned forward and kissed his cheek softly. The blood in her body pounded through his ears, and she was in so close proximity to him that he almost bit her. But she let go, and walked away.

He opened his eyes. "Goodbye, Rose."

...

I haven't written anything for you Titanic fans in a while, so here you go. Jack/Rose development. How do you feel about the story so far?

Thank you for your endless support!

XOXO,

Casey