there's nothing stronger than gravity
Written for twilight_swap at LiveJournal.
1. there's nothing stronger than gravity
Rating 4.5/5 Word Count 1643 Review this Chapter
"Waiting in the wings for any slip-up, any little mistake. She's ready to run in and take you up, stealing you away for her own dark purposes. She wants you for herself. If you screw up, you're hers, and it's over. That's just the way the world works.
"You can't fight her. She's stronger than anyone, everyone, and struggling just makes it harder. When you fight, she simply digs her long, pointed nails into your skin even deeper. You can't get away. Escape is impossible. All she wants you to do is come quietly and accept your fate, because the easier you come the easier her job is.
"Like a vulture, preying on the disadvantaged, she's hungry. Hungry for your body and your mind and your soul.
"She's Death, and she's waiting."
Billy's words echo menacingly in Jared's mind and it's so hard to block them out when he's been afraid of death since he was little. He'd heard this story from Billy when he was just six, and from then until now he has imagined pale women with blood under their nails slinking out from dark spaces, trying to get hold of him. Trying to take him away from life. He doesn't want to die, doesn't ever want to die.
The fact that there are bloodsuckers on the reservation isn't helping his fear.
x x x
He doesn't want to go to school, but Sam is adamant. You've skipped a week already, and you want to eventually graduate if you want to do anything with your life. (Although it's difficult to imagine himself in a desk job instead of what he's supposed to do -- run free like the wild animal he is.)
His feet drag as he forces himself to walk through the door to the old high school. He's early, unfortunately, so he sits at his desk and draws on a random scrap of paper. His teacher doesn’t say a damn thing, even though there’s nobody else in the room yet, which is fine by him. He doesn’t want to deal with anything right now.
He's lost in his drawing and so it takes him a few moments to realize that the seat beside him is being pulled back and occupied by someone. There's a strange sensation in his chest -- he doesn't know what it is, but it sort of feels as though his heart has lurched out of his chest, trying to find something.
He turns his head to look at his neighbor, and he's struck with the realization that he's never seen anyone so beautiful.
Last week he hadn't spared her a second glance -- hadn't paid attention to her at all. He can't remember her name. But now, he thinks, she's the one he'll be with for the rest of his life. He's in the middle of Literature but those stupid long-dead poets have already flown out of his mind, because she's the reason for his existence.
He doesn't know how he knows this. He doesn't know why he even noticed this girl today. What's going on? His mind is writhing in confusion. The first day in civilization after a week as a wolf, and this is what happens?
The only thing that's certain in his life right now is her.
He stares at the straight black curtain of hair hiding her face from his vision. Look at me, he commands her silently, and her head turns.
Their gazes meet, and now both of them are oblivious to the outside world. Her eyes are a dark, dark brown with flecks of gold, and he doesn't ever want to look away.
His head is spinning and he realizes he's been holding his breath. He exhales loudly, and she closes her eyes and smiles.
x x x
He's so beautiful, she thinks. Is he really all mine?
Kim's eyes take in Jared's sleeping form stretched across their new king-sized bed. (His feet still hang off the end.) He sleeps shirtless, and the contours of tanned muscle make her fingers yearn to run lightly over his chest. But her cold hands would wake him out of his deep slumber and she doesn't want that.
So she contents herself with staring, hugging her knees and watching the rise and fall of his chest. As she watches, she hopes fervently that he can stay like this -- safe -- forever. But the worry of leeches prowling their territory is too real, and it bursts her little bubble as soon as it's formed.
x x x
It's right there, staring at her.
She knows what it is, knows those blood-colored eyes and that chalky-pale skin. Knows the fierce hunger in its gaze.
She can't even tell when it moves, but it does, and suddenly it's right in front of her. For some reason, she's not afraid, even as her death stares her down with those demon eyes.
As her throat is torn apart, her last thought is of Jared.
x x x
There's a hole in his chest and it's never going to heal.
He knows this with the same absolute certainty he felt the first time he really saw her. And his inner voice is frantic to find her.
Even as he races in his four-legged form toward where he knows she'll be -- even as tears pour from his dark eyes and soak into his fur -- even as he hopes with all his heart that she's okay --
-- he knows.
And the sight of her body lying lifeless in the grass and the reek of the vampire's burning scent just drives that point home. Drives it with an ancient rusting nail straight into his chest. His brothers are worried -- they don't know what's going on, because he blocks it all out and howls at the dark night sky.
Why wasn't he there for her? He could have prevented this, he could have saved her...It's all his fault, all his fault.
And then he remembers. Hungry for your body and your mind and your soul.
He can't fight this. Nobody can.
Phrases float through his mind, now, a dim whisper of his brothers' collective voice.
bloodsucker -- not your fault -- defenses -- I'm sorry -- they want Bella -- so sorry.
He doesn't take his eyes off her beautiful form, lying limp on the ground. He lifts a paw and gently strokes her face, and a shining tear falls directly on those smooth, red lips.
The wind shifts, blowing from the darkness of the forest towards his shaking body, and he knows the leech left those very trees not long ago. Should he run, and take down the vampire? But he can't leave his life-mate, can't leave Kim's side...
Then Sam's voice echoes in his head.
x x x
He doesn't know what he's going to do without her. His paws pound on the damp forest floor as he runs, but the steady rhythm doesn't help his thought-process in the least. What's going to happen to him?
The scent of the vampire burns his nose, like too much sickly sweetness in one place. It's almost too easy to track the leech, because its scent leaves a trail as clear as a gravel pathway to its owner.
There's the monster, not twenty yards away. He can see it clearly as a silhouette against the twilight sky, red light glancing off the prismatic form.
The cold bloodsucker is dead in his arms, but he's not feeling anything. He'd expected to feel anger, vengeance, perhaps satisfaction, but he's numb to these things. Jared doesn't know why, but he can't feel anything anymore. The voices of his pack bounce blankly off the walls of his mind, because he's not paying attention. He's thinking about ripping limbs off the now-incapacitated vampire, about his strategy for safeguarding La Push, but he's not thinking about the lifeless eyes of his love. He's not thinking about how cold and pale she was in his arms, almost like...
Because when he thinks that way, he can't breathe. Can't move, can't swallow, can't blink. His whole life stops and it's just not worth it. The only thing that doesn't cause him pain is staying neutral. Being numb.
He drops the pieces of marble flesh in a pile on the ground. Sam approaches slowly from the opposite end of the clearing in human form, bearing a lighter and fuel.
Jared spins around and runs away, away from all his bitter memories, away from any feeling at all.
x x x
The wind buffets him like a physical blow, but he stays still, standing over the edge of the world.
He stares at the earth at his feet. His hair is cropped short, so close to his scalp that he's nearly bald, because of Kim. She'd told him that she preferred short hair. It makes you look more handsome, she'd said playfully, and he'd laughed.
She's been gone for a month now, and he still remembers everything about her. He holds on to those memories with an iron grip, determined never to let them go. Never to forget.
He watches green waves crash against the cliff's rocky base and thinks about jumping. Considers it for a while -- the sun rises higher in the sky, nearly directly overhead, and he's still standing there. But he knows that Kim hated when he went diving, and who is he to disrespect her wishes?
So he turns and walks slowly back to his small house, imagining she'll be in the kitchen, waiting for him.