*Chapter one briefly mention details of a botched suicide, as well as mental anguish. If this is a trigger for you, please tread carefully.*
Public Service Announcement:
If you feel like if feel like your life is spiraling out of control, and you feel that your only escape from the pain is suicide, please tell or call someone: a friend, 911, a neighbor? Life can be devastating. Get help. No one will judge you.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline. 1-800-273-8255.
(I have taken the liberty of fiddling with canon. So, this is deviation of New Moon, AU)
"We are homesick most for the places we have never known."
― Carson McCullers
*Twilight is the sole property of SM and her publishing company.*
Prelude to a Mate
Jasper and I have always loved the Holidays. There was just somethin' special about Christmas that appealed to the two of us. Whether it was the snow, the presents, or the merely the companionship of our familial ties, December twenty-fifth was a magical time of year for the Whitlock family. Even though our immortal lives had begun with painful memories and excruciating scars, we reveled in the promise that a new year was liable to bring us. A hundred years of brutality was apt to leave more than physical scars, so we always aimed to make new memories. Since we'd fled from Maria's employ nearly a half century ago, we snatch up every opportunity to be together, especially durin' the holidays.
Momma would've wanted that for us.
This year, I had been invited to join my brother and the Cullens at their newest residence in Ithaca, a move made necessary after their lengthy stay in Chicago, followin' a rather abrupt upheaval in Washington. Jasper and I didn't spend a lot of time with one another. Amid him bein' the perpetual student, with his disgustin' dietary habits and crazy view on humanity, and with me livin' the life of a nomad, runnin' around the country bein' the altruistic sibling, savin' the public from rapists and drug dealers (I was a Saint, really), we had chosen to live apart. Carlisle's dogma morally forbade him from takin' human life as sustenance, whereas I believed my lifestyle was a kindness to humanity. Our difference of opinion caused strife in the Cullen household, so in the interest of peace, we separated. My absence was the lesser of two evils, even though I had believed we could amicably coincide.
Having an actual blood relative follow you into immortality was a rarity amongst our kind- indeed a luxury only a very few were blessed with. More often than not, for obvious reasons, a person was forced to leave their family and friends behind following the painful transformation. The fact that I hadn't had to live without my brother was a blessin', in and of itself. That was, perhaps, the only kindness that the warlord, Maria, had ever gifted us, even if it only satisfied her need for power. In that respect, I supposed we were fortunate. Everything else that we had lived through was a travesty. Even though the details of said introduction into the vampire world were sordid, our familial ties and fortuitous gifts afforded the ability to escape the cruelty of the cold-hearted bitch.
Durin' our human life, following my father's death, I had been appointed the head of the household in his stead. Since I had assumed the commission, momma expected me to lead the lil' ones by example. However, at the time, I wasn't ready to fill his shoes. I was far too selfish to be serious about my new role. My guilty pleasures included booze, women, and gamblin'. When I wasn't at work, you would've found me balls deep with a local whore, Charlotte, particularly, as she was my favorite. I ignorined my responsibilities and my siblings. Jasper and Melissa suffered greatly for my sins. My arrogance facilitated the path that brought about our immortality.
Jasper had joined the Confederate Army when he was a mere boy of seventeen, still fresh-faced and wet behind the ears, naïve in all ways. Charismatic to a fault, the lil' shit had falsified his age and rashly signed his life away with a flourish of a quill, becomin' the property of the Government in the blink of an eye. Even in infancy, that fucker could bend a crowd to his biddin' with a single glance. My brother was never destined to spend his life farmin', God intended for Jasper to do great things. And he had, in a manner of speakin'. Though his chosen profession came as a surprise, I thought it came naturally. Soldierin' suited his spirit just fine. It made him a man, brave and tenacious to a fault.
His ambitiousness was his curse.
It hadn't been my intent to go to war. It hadn't appealed to me in the way it seemed to call out to him, almost a siren call in its intensity. Momma was a mess for weeks after she found his letter on her pillow. Even though I was damned near twenty-six when the asswipe skipped town, I still found myself on the receivin' end of a switch. Christina Whitlock had a fiery temper that matched her crimson locks. I thought gettin' off the tit was the best thing that ever happened to that boy, but she let me know how wrong I had been by beatin' me within an inch of my life. After that night, it hadn't been a conscious thought of whether or not I would join the Army, it was out of my control, at that point. I wouldn't leave my brother's life to chance if I could've kept him safe. So very reluctantly, I packed my satchel and left home, sharin' in my brother's fate.
I had been lucky to have been assigned to Jasper's regiment. It easy allowed me to keep him close at hand. While I was content being a mere grunt, the kid drug himself up the ranks quite quickly, makin' Major before his balls had even had a chance to drop. To my dismay, my brother refused to allow me to remain neutral and forced me to dig deep, to discipline myself- something I hadn't always been keen on doin'. Eventually, his persistence paid off and I had earned the rank of Captain under my brother's tutelage. I was a damned proficient soldier, both as a human and as a vampire, but strangely enough, I hadn't found my new role quite as rewardin' as my brother had found his. It wasn't in my nature to be second best. After all, I was far too pretty a man to be someone's bitch, let alone my baby brother's bitch.
Word of our friendly rivalry spread across the encampments. Our tenacity had earned us quite the reputation, and soon, we had garnered ourselves the unrequited appreciation of a certain vampire Warlord. I learned later that the Mexican bitch and her two coven whores, Nettie and Lucy, had laid in wait and snatched him up on a mission outside of Galveston, Texas, where he had been evacuatin' women and children.
That was the last time I saw my brother alive.
Several weeks passed me by and I unwillingly found myself in charge of our unit, promoted on my brother's merit. It didn't feel right. I wasn't right without him, and I became despondent in his absence, heavy with grief. I couldn't eat or sleep, plagued with nightmares even during my waking hours. I knew I couldn't live without him. I couldn't face momma- tell her I had failed to keep her baby safe from harm.
For three weeks, I wallowed under the self-deprecatin' fog of doubt and depression, under the crushing weight of survivor's guilt. The soldiers and my superiors believed the young Major abandoned his regiment. That was a blatant falsehood. Jasper Whitlock was anything but a deserter. It wasn't in his nature. Despite everyone's speculations, I knew deep in my soul that my brother was dead, and I couldn't bear the thought of bein' left behind. I wasn't strong enough to survive without him. Without Jasper, I was weak, incompetent even.
I saddled up my horse in the wee hours of dawn and rode out about four miles, only stoppin' when the tears made it difficult to see. Swingin' my leg from the stirrup, I gingerly lowered myself to the ground and upholstered my pistol. I turned it over in my hands and tentatively ran my fingers over the weapon, revilin' in the feelin' of the cold steel against my palm. The metal was like satin against my skin and mentally 'sang' to me as I traced my fingers up the barrel, across the top strap, pausin' at the hammer. I cocked it back gently and cringed at the ominous noise that it had made, though the sound had done little to dissuade my decision. I furled my fingers around the hilt and allowed my forefinger to take up residence on the trigger.
Sobs racked my body, and in my anguish, I crumpled to the ground and wrapped my arms around my head. I had never felt so alone, so completely vulnerable, before that very moment. My mind was alight with activity, on a constant loop, brandishin' my anguished memories behind my eyelids like millions of tiny photographs, hell bent on destroying me from within. It was all encompassin' and raw along the edges, eatin' away at my essence like rotting flesh. I could still hear his voice, rich and authoritative, chastisin' me for takin' the easy way out. And he was right. My heart was cowardly, and I was takin' the easy way out, but I hadn't known how to function without my best friend. I hadn't been strong enough, then. Hell, I wasn't strong enough, now.
How could I live a normal life without Jasper? I was so heartbroken.
As the pain ravaged my mind, I conjured up visions of my demise. The thought of my own funeral pyre was the loveliest thought I could conjure, an beautiful escape from the fiery claws of reality. Resigned to my fate, I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and raised the firearm to my temple, closin' my finger over the trigger.
In the seconds it took to engage the loadin' mechanism and trigger the precision cap, I was no longer alone. My eyes had time to register the tiny, raven-haired woman at my side for only an instant before the bullet entered the chamber. The woman's wide eyes bore into my soul, garnerin' somethin' unknown from my own empty depths. She immediately grasped the hilt of my Remington and flung it effortlessly from my palm. The cartridge discharged from the barrel miles away from its intended target, causin' my horse to spook and tear off across the heat-ravaged earth.
The woman grasped my face within her hands and smiled a devilish grin, cooin' at me like a small child. "Oh, no, pequeño! I shall not allow you to die in such a manner. Your battle skills will be so valuable. I can help you put that pain to a better use."
I ground my teeth together and scoffed at the lovely angel before me. How dare she take away my respite? "Ya' no nothing of anguish and loss, woman. Ya' should've let me die," I snarled, furious that she mocked me with her pretty tongue.
A tiny alabaster hand ghosted up and painfully tightened itself around my throat, slowly liftin' me off the ground. I grasped her wrist and clawed at her flesh, attemptin' to free myself from her grasp, as I frantically gasped for breath. But my efforts were futile. She was strong, inhumanly strong for such a small female. Narrowed crimson eyes studied me serendipitously. She tilted her head slightly and smiled wryly. Whatever she had garnered from my appearance pleased the raven-haired woman and she dropped me in a heap on the ground.
"You look so like my newest recruit, a soldier himself, actually—brothers I would imagine," she mused. I was confused. Whom did she speak of? Was it my brother? "You must be the famous Captain Whitlock that my new pet agonizes over?"
I gasped and unsteadily clambered to my feet. Was it true? "Jasper's alive?" I queried.
"In a matter of speaking, yes. Would you like to see him again, cariño?" I nodded emphatically, frantic to learn anythin' about my brother. My reaction had obviously pleased the ethereal creature. "Very well. If you survive, you'll be of great use to me. Perhaps, with proper persuasion, my newest soldier will become more cooperative"
She turned to me and harshly uttered a phrase that would haunt my sleepless days and nights for all of eternity.
"Bienvenidos a mi ejército, mi amante." (Welcome to my army, my lover.)
I rolled in to the tiny town of Alpharetta, Georgia late Christmas Eve. It was a necessary stop on my journey, as I both required sustenance and gasoline. (Carlisle preferred I hunt outside of their hometown for obvious reasons.) I believed this tiny burg would serve both very nicely. After my basic needs were met, I planned on acquirin' the ever-crucial mistletoe. No festivity was complete without that small token of affection. One could not garner enough kisses, and I always exploited every opportunity to engage in my favorite activities.
Once off the freeway, I coasted into the local truck stop and fueled the truck, happily whistlin' a tune while clandestinely scannin' the lot for my next meal. Outside of bars and dark alleys, truck stops were frequent haunts for prostitutes. Since I only garnered my victuals from the miscreants of society, I had hoped I might snag a tasty morsel outside this establishment, killin' two birds with one stone. Regrettably, I had found no such creatures slinkin' around the lot, so I quickly strode into the station, paid for my fuel, and jumped into my vehicle.
A bar it is, then.
I aimlessly drove around the city, on the prowl for an institution that was still open on the eve of a holiday, and found myself in a shady part of town. Perfect hunting grounds! I slowed and pulled my truck against the curb, slidin' from the vehicle and continuin' my trek on foot. It only took me three blocks to find a suitable candidate for tonight's meal. I stalked toward the group of three men who had a young woman cornered in a seedy alleyway, clawin' at her clothes and loudly tauntin' her with both vile expressions and unquestionable intentions. The poor thing was sobbin' uncontrollably, attemptin' to dissuade the group with whatever monetary items in her possession. The men, I knew, wouldn't have been satisfied with mere pecuniary items. After a century of studyin' human behavior, I knew without any doubt that only her flesh would've appeased the fiends. Sadly, she would need to be among the dead, as she would've been a witness to my sordid acts of violence. Our secret was sacred.
Death was preferable to defilement.
A growl slipped from my clenched teeth, and I sprung at the first of the assailants, snappin' his neck with deadly precision. His repugnant form slumped into a heap at my feet, mouth agape with a silent scream that would never leave his tongue.
"Oh, God. Jack we gotta get the fuck outta here…fast," the portly man uttered, voice quaverin' with fear. I allowed him a few moments before I sprinted down the alley and grasped him by the throat, sinkin' my teeth into his trachea, as his scream gurgled and died away.
Two down, two to go!
The remaining man cursed under his breath and dropped to his knees, promptly wettin' his drawers. Peter ole' boy, you still have the touch! The man begged for his despicable life through loud sobs. I smiled wryly at his fear, not at all sorry that he would die such a grisly death. Besides, terror made the blood so much sweeter, and I was fuckin' hungry. I crouched to his level and swiftly snapped his neck, promptly endin' his reign of terror.
The woman whimpered and took several steps back, apparently frightened by my feral behavior. Well, darlin' I'll end your fear here soon.
I bound to my feet and quickly stalked toward the tiny woman and pinned her against the wall. Then, I quickly wound my one arm around the back of her fragile neck, and used the other to silence her delicate lips, preparin' to sever her spinal column in one swift movement. The young woman deserved a peaceful end to the violence of this night, and I intended to gift her such. She was so very innocent, and I hated myself for murderin' one so young.
But when I met her terrified gaze, my whole world tilted on its axis. A yearnin' so profound slithered its way into my chest and skillfully wrapped itself around my undead heart. My inner demon roared in my head. Mine, he howled authoritatively. I gasped and closed my eyes, agony rippin' though my undead heart. Venom pooled behind my lashes, burnin' my eyes with the acrid liquid. A dagger sheathed itself in my gut and somethin' akin to nausea washed over me and tightened itself in my belly. I felt physically ill.
Oh, sweet Jesus! Peter, you almost killed you own goddamned mate!
The lovely woman slumped against me, incoherently mutterin' various things under her breath, 'vampire' bein' the most prevalent word. Her little heart raced under her breast, beatin' so fast it reminded me of a jet engine upon take off. An agonizin' moan slipped through her quivering lips, and I swore my undead heart shuddered under the weight of her sorrow. As I continued to gaze into her lovely, hazel depths, I knew my life was irrevocably changed. I had waited several lifetimes for this very moment, and I wouldn't ever let her go.
She shivered under my hands, and I reluctantly released her from my hold, restin' my hands on her shoulders, instantaneously lamentin' her loss. God, what a treasure!
Her arms wrapped themselves tightly around her torso, as though she were attemptin' to hold herself together. Oh, sweet girl, how could someone so young be carryin' such pain? "Are you here to kill me? Please, if you are, have mercy and kill me quickly. I beg of you, don't hand me over to her."
I shook my head, grabbed her forearm, and pulled her into my arms, layin' my head against her hair. I was content for the first time in my vampire existence. She sagged against me and shook with violent sobs, obviously drownin' in despair. My heart broke into a million pieces at her profound sorrow. If it took the rest of my existence, I would wipe those tears from her eyes and keep her safe from harm.
I took a deep breath and let it out, her beautiful essence washing over me like calming waters. "Oh, darlin'. My lil' mate, I could never harm ya'. I am so sorry for the hurt I have caused ya'. I promise I will keep ya' safe within my arms forever."
Well, what'd ya' think? Reviews are appreciated.