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Dreamcatcher

Summary:
Dream Jacob/OC. Post-Eclipse. Elizabeth Foster is your typical grad student. When she interns on a summer research project looking for dire wolves in the Olympic Peninsula, she finds more than she bargained for.


Notes:


16. Morning After Cure

Rating 5/5   Word Count 1714   Review this Chapter

PART SIXTEEN: Morning After Cure

[Elizabeth POV]

I sat on a rock in the vale, listening to the muted sound of the waterfall as it tumbled into the pool at my feet. Twilight held dominion, the day winnowed down to its last few moments with a sense of anticipation, as though the forest held its breath before sliding into evening's embrace. As I gazed down into the water, a dark reflection appeared beside my own. Feeling no fear, I reached out and stroked my hand down the shoulder of the black wolf.

He lowered his head so that our eyes met, and I felt certain he was trying to tell me something.

"He's concerned." I hadn't heard that voice in a very long time. Closing my eyes, I counted heartbeats, hoping it hear it again. "You were always so beautiful when you did that. Like you were waiting for me to kiss you."

Someone joined me on my rock, and I knew without needing to open my eyes who it was. His scent, his voice, even the way his body fit against mine when we were this close. "Josh."

"Hey Red." He pressed a kiss to my temple, and I shivered from sweet pain. In profile he was just as I remembered. Perfect nose, stubborn jaw and lips that were made for generous smiles, his sandy blonde hair falling into hazel eyes. I loved those eyes, I'd teased him once that we would only have children if he promised they would have his eyes. That moment seemed so stupid now. "You can't live in the past forever, love. It's time to move forward again."

"I don't know what you mean." But I did, and he knew it too.

"I love you, Beth. But you can be so hard-headed sometimes." He stroked my hair, that smile tugging at his lips. "I will always love you. Dying didn't change that, and it never will." His arms wrapped around me, holding me tight, and it was all I could do not to fall apart. "I don't want your guilt," he whispered. "It wasn't your fault."

"I messed up everything," I murmured brokenly.

"No." He shook his head. "If I could take those memories away, I would." For a few moments, he was silent, then he touched my face. "Do you know what I want?"

"What?"

"Be happy." His hand lifted my chin, and I met his eyes through a glaze of tears. "Every day you should laugh, so that the dimples come out in your cheeks," he traced his fingertip across my lips. "I want you to smile again, Red. I want you to love someone. To be touched and cherished by someone that loves you back." He shook his head. "You don't belong on a shelf, getting dusty with memories."

"You don't understand," I said hoarsely, but he pressed his fingertip to my lips again.

"I do. More than you could ever know." Again he kissed my forehead. "Live for me, Beth," he whispered. "Make love, have babies, grow old... don't waste the time you have by locking yourself away." There was so much more to say, and we both knew it. But the time had run out. All but forgotten, the black wolf made his presence known again, whining softly. He stepped closer and looked at Josh expectantly. Josh met his eyes, his expression sad, and nodded. "I have to go, baby."

"No... please stay."

"You don't need me, Beth. But there is someone that needs you." His lips brushed mine, slow and soft and lingering. "I love you, and I always will." He moved away, and in that one simple act, let me go. Before I could even call his name, the twilight faded into black.

####

I woke with a start, and knew immediately I was in unfamiliar surroundings. My head was aching, but I had a feeling I was getting off easy. Yeah, the more I remembered about last night, I was sure of it.

Yawning, I slid my hand down Jake's arm and curled my fingers over his. I was still wearing his t-shirt and little else, and as I traced the smooth surface of his fingernails with the pad of my thumb, I remembered what it felt like to have those big, deft hands underneath my borrowed shirt. 'Be happy.' I remembered the way Jake caressed me, as though I were something precious, to be handled with greatest care. 'I want you to love someone.' I remembered his lips, drinking me down like the water of life. 'To be touched and cherished by someone that loves you back.' I remembered his eyes, looking at me as if I were the only woman in the world. The most beautiful, the most perfect, the one meant for him.

Blinking back tears, I rolled over and looked into his peaceful, sleeping face. He seemed so young like that, I could almost believe he was sixteen when his face was so untroubled. Age, I reflected, was only a number, and my number was simply a little higher than his. It could be no more complicated than that if I let it. I made my choice and shifted forward that last little distance, lightly touching my lips to his. I kissed his upper lip, and the full curve of the lower, pressed a kiss to each corner of his mouth and the tip of his nose. Somewhere between his nose and his lips, he woke up, and as I lingered he started to kiss me back.

I tasted the inner depths of his mouth, tangling my fingers into his thick, dark hair. He was still bare chested, and I could feel the heat of his skin through the t-shirt like a banked flame. I wanted to run my hands over that heat, over all of him, but I knew before long we'd encounter the same problem as last night. His name was Quil.

Apparently Jake was having similar thoughts, his dark eyes searching my face as we pulled back. "Are you still drunk?" he asked warily.

I giggled, I couldn't help myself, although it made me wince as my head throbbed. "No, not drunk."

"Delirious?" The beginnings of a careful grin tugged at his lips. I reached out to touch it, exploring its widening curve.

"No, not delirious, either." I chewed my lip, choosing my words carefully. "I had a dream... and then I did some thinking."

"What did you think about?" His arm tightened around my waist, pulling me just a bit closer.

"That you won't be sixteen forever. That I can't afford to throw away something amazing." I stroked his cheek. "I don't know how this is going to go. I still need some patience... but I think it's worth trying."

The words were barely out of my mouth before he was kissing me. Joyful, hungry kisses that made me shiver from head to toe. He rolled onto his back, pulling me with him so that I was sprawled on his broad chest, his fingers twined into my hair. It had been a long time since I'd made out with someone quite that enthusiastically. I knew I was rusty, but if he noticed he didn't seem to care. Jake had a very intuitive way of knowing where to touch, how to kiss, making up for what he lacked in experience with talent. We managed. And before long we had Quil grumbling at us again.

I finally insisted that I needed a shower and clean clothes. Although I ended up throwing a pillow at Jake when he insisted that if I cared about the earth that I would save water by showering with him. Dork. I pulled on my jeans but retained custody of his t-shirt, stepping outside into the muted sunlight of an Olympic early morning.

I knocked next door, listening for Kat. After a minute or two, Jake leaned over me to knock again, more loudly.

"Just a blasted minute. I'm coming," I heard Kat say furiously on the other side.

"Uhoh, it sounds like she's got a hangover," I said quietly, making a face. I didn't know the half of it.

The door opened and Kat stood in it, wearing the comforter off the bed like a toga. She had her sunglasses on and her hair was in disarray. She looked like she'd been partying all night long. "Oh dammit, I didn't expect you to have him with you." Turning her head, she glared toward the bed. "Put a pillow over your bare ass unless you want the entire world to see it," she hissed.

"What the hell?" Jake being taller than I was, apparently had a better view. "Don't tell me... you didn't!" He looked at Kat, incredulous. "You and Embry?!"

"Busted," a tired but cheerful voice announced from the bed.

"I hope Embry didn't like unicorns," Kat observed a touch smugly, examining her nails. "Because I doubt they'll be interested anymore."

"Weren't you the one that started the whole fuss about their age?" I arched an eyebrow.

"Sixteen's over the legal age of consent," she said with a shrug. "I checked."

"Okay," I loved her like my sister, but it still wasn't any of my business. "Well, I'm just going to grab some clothes, and then I'll use the shower in the other room."

"That works." Decision made, Kat was in no hurry to linger in the bright light of day. Just like I was in no hurry to linger in the room. I grabbed fresh clothes, assured an apologetic Kat that I was alright, and hurried back out. Embry had covered his butt at least, but that was still more of him than I'd expected to see.

Jake had waited outside, and once I rejoined him, he glanced back at the closed door and scowled. "What's wrong?" I leaned into him, looking up at his face. "Want to talk about it?"

"It's nothing." He stepped back over to their door. "It's just... now I owe Quil $20."

I put my hands up. "Don't tell me. I don't want to know."