Hi, everybody!

I wrote the first half of this back in 2010, and I found it a little while ago and finished it.

I don't own The Host.

Enjoy!


Strong

"Jared, I'm scared," I said, and shifted restlessly. The cot beneath me protested, scraping on the rock floor of Doc's hospital. I froze, hoping the noise hadn't woken the big man who slept on a cot just a few feet away. His curled position was strange. Ian had always sprawled in his sleep…

Jared came and sat beside me, and started rubbing my shoulders. I leaned back against him automatically.

"What are you scared of?" he asked. His eyes wandered over Ian's sleeping form, over the arms wrapped around the cryotank that held my sister.

"Not scared, exactly. I just don't know what else to call it." I said. Then, abruptly, "Jared? Am I a bad person?"

"Mel, baby, what's the matter?" Jared wrapped his arms around me, holding me close against him.

I let out a deep breath. "Am I a bad person for hoping that that body"—I jestured at the small blonde figure that occupied the third cot—"won't wake up? For hoping whoever was in there got erased, like my dad did? For wanting Wanda back right now, this instant, even if that might mean taking someone else's life away from them?" My voice cracked. "I miss her, Jared. I miss her voice in my head, and how she always wanted to see the good in everything. I miss her," I repeated.

"Oh, Mel," Jared said, and pressed his lips to the top of my head. "Mel, everything's going to be just fine; don't worry about any of it." He kissed my temple. "You know what you need right now? A little time away from this place. You can come back later, after you've had some sleep. Nobody in here is going anywhere." Jared chuckled softly. "Ian's holding that tank like a teddy bear."

Somehow, Jared always knew what to say. I smiled.

"C'mon," Jared said, pulling me to my feet, "let's go."

We walked back through the tunnels to the room I had first slept in after being released from the prison hole. Pushed aside, the jade screen revealed Jamie reading one of his paperback novels by the patches of sunlight let in by the cracks in the ceiling. He looked up as we entered.

"Hey, Jared. Hey, Wa—Mel," he said, correcting himself mid-word.

"Hey, kiddo," Jared said. "Can Mel and I, um, borrow the room for a bit?"

"Sure," Jamie replied. His voice was smooth, but a hint of red crept up his cheeks.

"Thanks," I said, and rumpled his hair as he passed us on his way out.

Jared lead me farther into the room, then pulled me down onto the mattress, settling next to me. He drew me into his arms, holding me close. We sat there for awhile, silent except for our breathing; Jared's steady and even, mine still shaking.

"I hate this," I said.

"You are not a bad person, Melanie Stryder." Jared's tone was emphatic.

"It's not that," I said. "It's this." I gestured between the two of us, indicating how composed he was.

Jared pulled back, looking confused, then hurt. "Mel—"

I cut him off. "No, Jared, it's not that either. I love you; you know that." I leaned in and brushed my lips lightly across his cheek, noting the stubble there. "I just hate feeling so weak. Like I can't deal with this by myself."

"Oh, Mel," Jared said again. "You don't have to feel weak. You're not. Ypu're the strongest person I know." I let out a choked sob and Jared held me closer, as if he could crush us into one entity. "And you don't have to deal with this by yourself. You don't have to deal with anything by yourself. You have me and Jamie and Jeb and Doc. You have Wanda, and Ian…" I sobbed again.

"But what if she doesn't come back?" My voice sounded pathetic; I barely recognized it as my own.

"She will," Jared said, an oath. "You'll see. And we'll keep you strong."


57 days 'till The Mark of Athena!

Happy Reading,

Separate Entity