I can not tell you all how much I appreciate the love and support I have received for my first Host story 'Seeking the Sun'. I have decided to add one more chapter to wrap it up, although I have another all-human in mind for these two that I would like to finish before I work on that so it might be a few weeks. Sorry.
As for this one, I re-read the last chapter in the book again and although I am thrilled Wanda/Ian ended up together, Wanda's left over feelings for Jared left me feeling cold. As much as I love Stephanie Meyer I truly believe she is far too melodramatic with her portrayal of conflicting feelings. I have always thought it is possible to love two people and to embrace those feelings instead of letting them cause you pain. I know that in some ways that is what Wanda did but this is my take on the subject from Ian's POV.
As always I have no beta so please excuse any and all spelling and grammatical errors.
I watched her sitting there, surrounded by her adoring audience from my place across the room. Her tiny hands waved through the air in illustration, her melodic voice weaving a tantalizing spell around the moon lit game room. It was the Ice world tonight, at Jamie's request. We had all heard the story countless times before but each telling was different, unique, just like the soul who lived them.
I lived for moments like these, when the shy countenance of her host melted away and her indomitable spirit shinned through. Pet's body was weak and unable to cope with the rigors of hard labor but my Wanderer was strong, a true force of nature. In the months since her insertion she fought every day, against Mel, Jared, Doc, and even my self to prove that she could contribute to the community. I tried to explain to her that her very presence was a beacon of hope for us all, that she didn't need to work the fields or help unload after a raid to prove her worth, but like her fist host, she was stubborn to the extreme. With Jamie playing her constant cheerleader and the help of most of the community we built a training camp of sort for her. Taking everyday tasks and turning them so that her slight figure was able to adjust and grow in strength before moving on to more demanding jobs. It was impossibly hard to watch her struggle in the beginning. It took more than a few not so gentle reminders from Jeb, once with shot gun in hand, to stop me from intervening, but I resisted and in time it got easier for both her and I. Now she was as capable as anyone else in our varied community, but that didn't stop me from wanting to take care of her and occasionally making sure she got the lightest boxes after raids.
"Tell us about the dragons!" Someone called in the crowd and the request was met with happy support. Another favorite among the children.
Little Freedom lay curled in her lap, his dark head pillowed on her knee while his older brother, Isaiah hugged tightly to her side. Both children had taken to following my little Wanderer around like a pair of smitten puppies since she woke in her new host. It warmed my heart to see her interact with the children, her boundless patience and kindness in dealing with their exuberant nature far exceeded that of anyone else in our small community.
I smiled at the sight and my mind flashed to a vision of Wanda cradling a tiny golden-haired infant to her chest, her heart-shaped face a mask of wonder and love. A child, our child…I had been thinking about the future quite a bit lately. If someone had told me only a year ago that I would fall in love with a soul, our enemy, and be entreating the prospect of building a family with her. Of bringing a child into this new and uncertain world, I would have laughed in their face and then laid them out for good measure. But such thoughts were only further proof of how far I and everyone else had come since Wanda first stumbled into our community.
Shame burned me up from the inside out when I recalled the deplorable way she was treated, the livid bruising that marred her skin for weeks while she inhabited Melanie's body. It sickened me to know that I was partly responsible for causing her harm, but time was a healer unlike any medicine; human or soul alike. Wanda had long ago forgiven me for my part in her capture; such was her nature, and in time I hoped to be able to forgive my self as well. Maybe.
Jamie sat on her other side, leaning forward in excitement, hanging on her every word, and occasionally filling in his favorite details. Wanda smiled with affection at his enthusiasm, trading amused glances with Melanie over his shoulder. Her grey blue eyes flickered down to where Jared's arms wrapped around Melanie is a loving embrace. A familiar crease appeared between her eyes and her voice hitched ever so slightly as she continued her story. Jealousy…
My chest tightened as if a steel vice were wrapped around my heart. I turned away, unable to watch.
'Jared is my past, you are my future' I heard her words ringing in my head and knew they were true in my heart, but that knowledge wasn't enough to ease the ache that followed witnessing such longing looks. I had never been a man prone to self-doubt, it wasn't arrogance that fueled my confidence, but a strong sense of morality and respect for others. I thought I had lost those things after the invasion, lost my humanity, but it took one silver soul to show me that I was still capable of kindness and love. I would have given her anything she asked, I would have walked away if that had been her wish, and although I know she wants me as much as I want her it was still difficult to know that some small part of her would always long for Jared. That I would never be the only one in her heart and I was too selfish a man to want any less.
"They're just a shadow, you know that right?"
I was so lost in my thoughts that I hadn't notice Melanie break away from Jared's hold until she was plopped down at my side. Confusion dominated my mind when her words finally registered.
She must have noticed my expression and elaborated. "Her feelings for Jared, they're no reflection on her feelings for you. If there is one thing I know, it's that Wanda loves you as much as I love Jared."
Clear, concise, a fact.
The confidence in her voice loosened the vice around my heart. I offered her a small smile in thanks but my eyes had already strayed back to linger on Wanda. Jared was closer now, offering his side for Jamie to lean against. Both were watching her with similar looks of devotion. I wanted to punch that look right off Jared's pretty face.
A soft hand on my bicep reigned in my thoughts and brought my attention back to the red-head beside me. "I'm not so sure they're just a shadow…" I spoke my doubts quietly, afraid to voice them any louder for fear of giving them life.
"Yes they are." She assured before looking off as if she were lost in some far off place. "The feelings, they're like an echo really. They start off loud when you least expect it, but the longer you listen the more they fade until there is just a quiet hum in the back of your mind. She can't control them, and in time…who knows, it may fade all together." Her lean shoulders shrugged in indifference while her face remained soft, contemplative almost. I wanted to believe her more than I could express.
"Did she tell you that?" I asked and cringed as I heard the note of doubt creep into my voice. Weakness.
"No, it's what I know…from experience." Hazel eyes glanced at me fleetingly before falling to her lap. I was almost shocked to see a russet flush splotch across her cheeks in the dim evening light.
"Then you feel…" I couldn't even finish the thought it is so unbelievable. It had never occurred to me that some of Wanda's feelings for me could have bled over to Mel. Not when she had practically wrenched control away from Wanda every time I so much as touched my lovely soul while she inhabited Mel's body. We were friends now but there was a line between us. I honestly believed she still held some resentment toward me. Could I really have been so mistaken?
"Don't get any ideas O'Shea." She quipped with a playful shove to my shoulder but sobered under my disbelieving stare. "Like I said, it's just an echo, but yeah…I do feel it sometimes."
We regarded each other for a moment, both searching. She was the same as she was before the split, only different. When Wanda inhabited Melanie, she held her shoulders curled in an effort to make Mel's body appear smaller, less threatening, but Melanie walked tall, with complete confidence in her abilities. Her face was smooth and beautiful as always but as I traced the lines of her mouth, cheeks, and eyes with my eyes she seemed diminished somehow. No less beautiful, but without Wanda's light shinning through her sun kissed skin, this body held little more than a passing attraction for me.
I felt a pang as a bittersweet smile tipped Melanie's lips, she could read my thoughts and it hurt her. "Melanie…" I didn't know what to say to her but she stopped me with a shake of her head, silencing any apology I could blunder out.
"She made me promise her something before…well you know." And I did know; neither one of us liked to think about the weeks we waited to have Wanda back in our lives. "I would have done anything she asked me to do. I didn't want her to leave Ian; you have to know that…" I knew that as well. "She wanted me to take care of you. I didn't want to but not for the reasons you think. I was afraid; afraid that you wouldn't…that you wouldn't let me take care of you."
My world tilted as a single tear tracked down her cheek. Without thought I reached out and pulled her against my side. To my surprise she didn't resist the loss hug but snuggled against my side, her familiar warmth settling over me like a blanket. "I would…" I started to say that I would have let her but the longer I thought about it I knew that I wouldn't have been able to stand her presence if Jared hadn't stopped Doc from carrying out Wanda's wishes. It annoyed me to no end that I owed Howe but no matter how much it galled me I was grateful for his intervention.
"No you wouldn't have and that's OK. I don't blame you for it, not when I was the one that pushed Wanda away from you. I was afraid back then. I didn't know it at the time, but I can see now that it wasn't just my body rejecting you, it was more than that. I was afraid that if I didn't do something that her feelings for you would infect me just like my love for Jared infected her. Looks like I was right."
Again I was at a loss for words. I had no idea she felt that way but I could tell she wasn't done yet and held my peace. "At first I didn't really notice it, I was too wrapped up in being reunited with Jared and Jamie, and then finding Pet for Wanda. Once we had her back and I saw how happy you two were and I thought that it was over…but then I was working the fields and I heard you laughing at something Kyle said...without even realizing it was up and half way across the field."
She laughed at the memory and I recalled that day with perfect clarity. Kyle had been telling me some stupid joke and I looked up to see Mel standing in the rows looking at me with a half-smile sweetening her familiar face. At the time I had assumed that she heard Kyle's joke but now I could picture the confusion in her hazel eyes. I hadn't noticed it then because Wanda had come looking for me seconds later. I felt like an ass for not acknowledging her that day.
"I'm sorry Mel. I wish I could take it away, make this easier for you."
"Don't be sorry Ian. I'm not, and I'm not telling you this to make you feel bad or get sympathy. I used to fight these feelings, I felt like I was being unfaithful to Jared but I don't mind them anymore. They're a part of me, a part that my sister left with me, and it may not make sense to you, but I like having them. You are an amazing man Ian O'Shea, and I am grateful for the love I feel for you. It reminds me that I'm alive. That I made it, and I know for a fact that she feels the same. First hand experience and all."
Mel sent me a blinding smile and for a second I felt the pull. It was like a tether around my heart; it gave a yank but broke under the strain and faded as I returned her smile. Pulling her closer I give into temptation and brushed my lips against hers in a feather light kiss, no more than a touch of lips but she smiled wider when we pulled apart. "Thank you…" I whisper against her forehead and I meant it with everything that I had. Mel grinned up at me; she understood.
My heart-felt ten times lighter and with a glance around the hall I saw that story time was over. People were filtering out of the dimly lit room, some stopped to give us strange looks as we pulled our selves up but we ignored them.
Mel bid me goodnight and headed back to where Jamie had Wanda wrapped in a bear hug while Jared stood with them talking to Jeb. I observed them for a moment; watched the way Jared looked at Wanda over Jeb's shoulder and her glances in return. With Mel's perspective still fresh on my mind, I could see the affection between them but when Melanie joined their group and was engulfed in Jared's arms there was no frown to be seen. Maybe Mel was right, it comes and goes but it is just an echo of another life. A tether attached to their hearts that gives a tug of reminder every now and again but is too weak to hold them together.
Goodbyes were exchanged, and then my Wanderer was walking toward me without a backward glance. The smile that graced her lips while she spoke with the others paled in comparison to the sun burst that lit her face as she caught sight of me lurking in the corner.
My eyes drank her in like a man parched from the unforgiving desert sun. Pet's body was fragile in appearance but Wanda was radiant and fierce. For all the love I had for her I did enjoy the contrast between her small willowy figure and my more substantial bulk. I could feel a familiar ache blooming in my chest while I watched the gentle sway of her hips with each floating step. It was a strange dichotomy, this protective instinct coupled with an overwhelming desire to lay her down on our bed and ravage her until she was hoarse from our lovemaking.
I loved her smooth creamy skin, so soft and supple under my calloused fingertips. I used to worry that she would dislike the roughened texture of my touch, but she was quick to reassure that she found the contrast between our skins pleasurable, arousing even. It was the testosterone talking but it stoked my ego to know I could bring her to the heights of ecstasy with such simple touches. She was so responsive to my touch now, responding in a way that she was unable to experience in Melanie's body.
"There you are! I missed you." She cooed happily and walked into my waiting arms. Laughter bounced off the cave walls as I spun her in a wide circle; eliciting more of those hypnotic sounds. Through a cloud of golden fringe I caught a blaze of red close cropped hair lurking in the archway.
Nate and the other soul had visited with us for the last few weeks. Jeb had hopes of trading with the new group of survivors, but Jared and I had our own ideas as to why Burns accompanied his friend and it had nothing to do with trading. I didn't trust him, not one bit. That was one point Howe and I were in complete agreement on.
"What are you looking at?" Wanda asked noticing my preoccupation. Her golden halo fanned around her as she turned to follow my gaze.
"Awww…I see." Once she looked in his direction he disappeared into the shadows; my fists clenched around her waist reflexively. Desirous thoughts from moments ago dissipated and my protective instincts kicked into overdrive.
"I don't like him. He wants you." My voice came out in a near growl. One tinny hand caught my chin and turned my eyes to meet hers, the silver ring that denotes my beautiful soul's presence glint in the dim lighting and reflected off the walls like mirror ball.
"Are you jealous Ian?" She asks in that soft lilting voice that sent shivers down my spine. "Because he is just a friend. I think he's lonely." She added as an afterthought.
I didn't believe that for a moment but I nodded my assent in favor of avoiding a disagreement. Grinning wickedly I scooped her up and ran the short distance to our room and away from prying eyes. There would be time to deal with Burns later. Wanda sharing time was over; I wanted her all to myself.
It wasn't until we were settled comfortably in our bed, both sated that she spoke again, almost hesitantly.
"Can I ask you something?" Her delicate fingers played with the coarse hairs on my chest. The skin burned under her light touches but there was a hint on unease in her voice that drew my attention away from her teasing caresses.
"You can ask me anything."I murmured against her hair.
"Why do you love me?" The question came in a near whisper. I had to strain to hear her but I knew I didn't misunderstand.
With one pull she was sprawled across my body until her wide silver rimmed gaze was level with my own. I wanted to see her face, to see what was going through that head of hers. She had never questioned my love for her before, and I was surprised to see doubt swirling behind her eyes now.
"Do I need a reason?" I countered. A becoming blush colored her porcelain cheeks and I could feel her heart humming against my chest. I wanted to ask her what brought this on but I waited for her to offer the information. Knowing it was better for her to work it out on her own from experience. She was still adjusting to the variability of human emotions and I found it best to let her work through her inner conflicts in her own time.
"I guess not, but I was wondering. You don't need to answer me. I was just thinking about my time with Melanie tonight. I know all the reasons Jared fell in love with her, I remember him telling her one night under the stars. But when I think of my time with you all I can remember in pushing you away…" She voice broke as she trailed off and a fissure opened up in my heart at seeing her doubt her own worth to me.
I took her trembling fingers and brought them to my lips so that she felt my words as well as heard them. "I can tell you that it was your kind, guileless nature and your humanity despite our inhumanity that drew me to you but that's not why I love you." I began while kissing each finger of her left hand before moving on to her right. "Those are just facets of your personality that I adore and admire but if you want to know why I love you than…I don't have a reason."
A sweet frown creased her temple, I leaned forward and kissed the line until it smoothed under my lips.
"I don't understand." Her lush lips pulled down in my favorite pout. Her pout was one of the few traits of Pet's body that my Wanderer had embarrassed and used to her full advantage. One quiver of her lower lip and anyone would fall over them selves to earn her smile once more. Melanie was very proud.
"Reasons change when people change. Humans grow and evolve overtime. Who you are today is not who you'll be in ten, twenty, or thirty years and that is the way it should be. But what I feel for you will never change because it's more than a set of reasons. My love for you is a fact, fixed and finite."
Diamond tears trailed down her face. I cruse myself for making her cry but she smiled through the tears and I knew they were tears of joy. Yet another trait of Pet's that annoyed her in the beginning but I found endearing. "I love you Wanderer. Whatever twist brought you to this world, to me…there is not a day that goes by that I don't thank the stars above for your light."
Cherry lips attached to mine and I kissed her back with all the love I had inside. Need sparked into a raging inferno between our tangled souls. Hands pulled and stroked any available skin that could be reached; each touch stroking the flames higher until we were burning. Our breaths came in short ragged pants as we pulled apart.
"I love you too Ian O'Shea with all my soul. For every reason and none at all." She whispered into the hollows of my neck before nipping at my exposed skin deliciously.
"Make love to me…" She sighed against my lips. As her willing slave I was helpless but to comply to my ladies demand. Doubts were for fools and tonight I was going to show both of us how little they mattered in the face of our love.
*sigh* I love this couple so very much! This is only a one-shot so I truly hope everyone likes it. If you like it please REVIEW! You know you want to write something in that box below. ;)