Soli Deo gloria

DISCLAIMER: I do NOT own the Host. This is obviously because it's Father's Day, and ALL THE ANGSTSSSSSSSS.

~ Cue Melanie's Stryder's point of view ~

There is a shadow gone from me. Jared. And I wonder, suddenly, when I realize he's gone. I'm in the kitchen, working with Trudy, Carol, Heidi, and Ruth Ann, all kneading at the bread. Jared was just here getting a roll to eat. He hadn't said anything to me as he passed by me, which is strange. He's always one to try to catch a sighting from me towards him. But not now.

My muscles are a little sore, but not an awful lot. Wanda's worked me out. I tear the bits of dough off my fingers and finish the last round to proof. I nod to the women and stick the tray away on the counter. Washing my hands with a pitcher of water, I splash my pants. I'm hurrying. There was something off with Jared. Every emotion is always so apparent on his face. He tries with masks, and man, he fails miserably. I didn't get to see anything but a note of angry sadness as he passed by me.

I'm getting down to the bottom of it, and that's just the fact of the matter.

I hurry down the halls, peeking around corners, trying to see in the darkness. It's night, and so all the holes Uncle Jeb has up in the ceiling are pitch black, with no moon or stars. It's kind of annoying, but then there's the occasional solar-powered lanterns in the corners to guide me along.

The obvious choice here is our room. It's not like Uncle Jeb is having him do some field work at nine-thirty at night. I break off at the octopus halls into ours, running my fingers across the dry wall, getting my fingers dusty. It helps me catch the caves. I find one, and I count off as I touch more. Jared's and mine is the one with the Japanese screen, and its folds are touched by my fingers. It's moved, though. Not as flat. It's bunched up, like it had been jumbled together in a hurry.

I move it back into position before I turn to take in Jared. He's on our mattress, his legs hanging over the side. His back is bowed and his head is in his hands.

"Jared?" I say worriedly. Okay. This is serious. Nothing just gets to Jared. It's impossible. He is spoken with his anger. He doesn't get things and keep them bottled inside. Well, he did when Wanda inhabited my body, but, well, that was an exception!

And he doesn't say anything, and I'm by his side in a second, making the mattress squeak as I sit. "Jared?" I say.

"Melanie," he says. Wow. He sounds bad. There's no tone to his voice, but it's a raging war of emotions that's falling through into the air.

"What's up?" I say. I cringe. Yeah. It's best not to fuss with formalities. Jared and I are pretty much the opposite of formal.

A minute passes. I bite my lip. Crap. He's not answering. I wonder if I've scared him or if he's even breathing.

He turns to me suddenly, and I see everything. The wash of the tiredness, the weariness, the sadness, the anger, the frustration across his face. He's sweating, more than usual, even in June.

"Mel. What day is it?" he says.

"It's a Sunday. In June." I close my eyes and shake my head. It clicks in my head. The date, and the remembrance of the fact that there is a man beside me that once had a laughing father and older, wilder brothers. Sometimes it's hard to remember that my Jared had a family before he met Jamie and me. He was always quiet about them, not wanting to remember the pain too much. Two years had hardened him, but I cracked him. Then the walls came back, when everyone but Jamie was taken from him. To relive the pain twice over . . . how can he bear it?

Suddenly I have his head hugged to my chest, one of my arms around his neck, the other hugging his body close. He shakes under my hand, and I whisper, "I'm sorry, Jared."

"See? This is why it's hard to see souls and not get angry, Mel. Because—they took them. They're there wandering around, trapped, and they don't know me. They're gone, Mel, and I don't know where to find them to get them back," he says. He sounds so angry. My poor Jared. "Before this, before this hell came on, Father's Day was special. Because we planned sports with Dad. We joked with Dad. Dad was my hero. And I haven't seen him in so long. I'm losing my image of my laughing father, Mel. I used to remember that day, him, so much, and not he's going and it's killing me. Slowly. But constantly."

My story of my father is no more the cheerful. I mean, he did lead the Seekers to Jamie and me. But he was possessed, didn't know what he was doing. I want him back now, more than before, because Jared has reminded me that my father was such a big part of my life. He taught me to ride a bike, despite my mom's protests. He called Uncle Jeb and Aunt Maggie the Crazies. I exhale. The breath comes out scratchy and deep.

Suddenly Jared's holding me, his face stuck in the crook between my neck and shoulder, and I'm on his lap and clutching his back in a crushing hug. Suddenly my grip grows tighter, and he whispers, muffled, "So that's why this day is hard, Mel. 'Cause it's a day I used to treasure, and they ruined it."

"You never told me this before," I whisper into his shoulder.

"That's because I tried to ignore it." He straightens and pulls me slightly from him, so I'm looking into those eyes with flecks of light, and he's brushing my dark hair away from my face. He still looks like a sea of emotions, but there's an element of calm in him. He says, "Because we were so happy. And my unhappiness would have shattered our happiness."

"I don't mind that," I say.

He lets out a grim chuckle. "You sure do mind a lot of things, though, Mel."

"I know." My arms loop around his neck loosely. "But it's you. And I don't want you feeling like that. One of the things of being so tiny in Wanda's head was that it was hard to be with you. It was hard to understand your actions from there. Whatever Wanda did, I wanted the opposite. I missed being with you, Jared. I missed you in my own head. That sounds so strange."

"Makes sense," Jared says.

"Jared," I say warningly. I lean my forehead against his and close my eyes. "I missed talking with you."

I feel his lips against mine as he shifts my head to meet level with his. I'm lost for a moment before he pulls away. I take my forehead away from his and see his face entirely, and he says, looking more tired than usual, "I missed talking with you too, Melanie."

"We should do it more. And not keep secrets like that from the other. It's only going to turn into arguing," I say.

"You're not going to argue with me now, are you, Mel? It's kind of late."

"No. Of course not." I shake my head and then stare into his eyes again. "Just, please tell me."

"Sure, Mel, sure." He nods and I hold him close, not wanting to let him go. He's far from okay still, but hey, he's got me to help him, and, as usual, I'm going to help him get through this. We've been through the end of the world together. We can do this.

MY JELANIE SHIP. *Protects like precious treasure* Oh, and the top quote is an idea from GarvinMark. Check out her Tangled stories! :)

Thanks for reading! Please review!