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One by One

Summary:
A second of hate atop generations of loathing. Two mistakes, a few miscalculations, and one girl in the wrong place at the wrong time. That's how it happened, but in the end, looking back, it was inevitable. This is always what had to happen, from the moment they caught that dreadful smell. One by one, they had to fall. One-Shot. Post Breaking Dawn.


Notes:
Right. Warnings: this story is DEPRESSING. seriously effing depressing. character death. language, i think. um... depressing.


1. They Fall

Rating 3.5/5   Word Count 3751   Review this Chapter

Jacob Black is the last to go. Why not? He survived everything else. He survived the transformation, survived his soul mate choosing death over him, survived betraying his brothers, survived a responsibility he never wanted, survived watching the girl he loved die for a monster, even survived the imprint with something of himself intact.

But he’s damned if he’s going to survive this. Why would he even want to? Every one he knows, everyone, is dead. They have all fallen, one death after another, like dominoes in an endless line of cause and effect, the ties of love turning to weapons as war breaks out where there once was family.

They are so young, little more than children, any of them. They die as one, too. Their wolf forms are unfamiliar to themselves and the pack. Neither the children themselves nor their leader know how to use them. They are like newborn vampires, uncontrolled strength.

And strength took them down. One blow with each granite arm, felling three at a time, so the bodies lie on the ground, stunned.

The Alpha takes revenge- it is only right, with so many lives lost, that it becomes his duty to take vengeance. Emmett is in pieces as he dies, burning, burning heat in the air, burning cold on Sam’s tongue.

Revenge is sweet- the sickly sweetness of vampire stink.

She’s on their land the next day, begging for death. They refuse (like this will go back and reverse the opposite decision made by the opposing side) (as if they could change the past) (pretending this can still be stopped).

She falls to her knees and begs.

Leah Clearwater, of all people, has mercy. The Alpha growls a command, but when has she listened to him, anyway? Like she cares about orders. No, she leaps, phasing in the air, and the beyond beautiful blonde girl dies easily, a smile on her face.

Thank you, she whispers.

Leah stands over her pile of ashes and whispers, You’re welcome, Rosalie. After all, we bitter, barren bitches have to stand up for each other, don’t we?

It’s really remarkably easy for Kim to kill herself. One human, one slash to each wrist, like the slashes that slew three children apiece, only this time there’s only one casualty.

At least directly.

Just a minute ago, she was cursing her human frailty. She could not go and protect her protector. She was trapped here by her weakness. But now, she thanks God for mortality. She doesn’t have to beg for death. Fragility holds the power of Jared’s razor in her hands.

She doesn’t know if he’ll come back. She won’t let him be Sam or Paul. She takes matters into her own hands. One. Two. Fall.

Quil announces it is his last fight to the surviving pack. Embry and Sam whine a little, but the younger two accept his decision. Of course.

He can’t go on risking his life. The delicate face of Claire appears behind his eyes and he closed them. He would take her in his arms and run, because this fight wasn’t going to end with any of them surviving. He would escape instead.

He never gets the chance.

Bella Cullen’s teeth are in his neck when she realizes and drops him to the floor.

Quil? Is that you?

He’ll never answer. He’ll never get the chance to run for his life, to run by her side.

Somewhere a little girl cries out in her sleep. She won’t remember what she’s lost, but she’ll always know.

How it all started? Jake remembers.

Kill me. Please kill me. Jesus, Sam, just do it. I’m begging. How long you gonna make me beg? I can’t off myself. Help me out. Wouldn’t you want the same if this was you? Kill me.

Emily had recovered from the wounds Sam gave her. But some things don’t scab over. A thrust to the belly with a wolf’s claws is one of them. Rachel Black was never going to get up and go on. Her life was over, and it was, undoubtedly, Paul’s fault.

I killed her. Why won’t you kill me?

They should have. But none of them had the guts. Or the mercy.

Embry’s a bottle and a breath, a bottle and a breath, and he drinks himself to the grave. Really quickly, too.

Amazing, that he had enough money to buy enough booze to knock off a werewolf. But he’s the only pack member left, with the keys to every liquor cabinet and the contents of every college fund they’ll now really never use.

It only took a week after the carnage for that corpse to appear.

His mother always knew that Sam Uley was no good. The first night he disappeared, she knew her baby boy wasn’t going to make it out alive.

That doesn’t make it any easier when she finds his body.

Jasper’s all red eyes and snarls. Civility is gone. What matter are manners in the face of death? Of war? It’s a time for his instincts, and he lets them all rage. Only stronger than his training to kill is his lust to feed. And one scent calls him, rising over the reek of werewolf.

The old man’s eyes close in his leather face. Jasper is glad of that. They were too dark, too knowing. As if he understood. But there was a sense of heartbreak in them, and he smiles a little at that. It removes a tinge of the guilt.

Jasper leaves the drained corpse of the man in the wheelchair where he spent the last twenty years of his life.

Nessie’s the first to find the body.

Kim?

No answer. Of course not. It’s a corpse, Nessie, and corpses don’t talk, except the ones she calls her family.

Jared’s the first one to find her there, standing in a pool of blood around the girl he loves, red on the tile, red on her hands as she shakes her, shakes her, never wakes her.

Kim? Kim?

And he sees her. Red curls bouncing, red blood drying, red fury washing over his vision and there will never be peace. He won’t allow it, and the anger rules him, and he runs madly from the pain, only himself enough to know he must wait to take his inevitable vengeance.

Damn bloodsuckers killed him. Paul, our Paul, they killed him. Broke the treaty. Killed him.

It’s just the two of them, Embry and Quil, running faster and faster. They’d skipped patrol the other night. Missed it because Quil was rocking Claire to sleep, tiny and so vulnerable in his arms, and Embry’s mom had put a padlock on his window and it’d taken more than one day to file through the iron bars.

They run faster, cheering each other’s fury on. It’ll take all their resolve, when they instigate this fight.

By the time they alert Sam, they’ve already attacked. He tells them what a mistake it is, but it’s too late to go back. And they’re brothers. They stand up for each other, even if what they stand up for is a horrible mistake. They’re still standing together, even if it’s doomed to be their last stand.

The pack runs to help them fight their misconceived battle. It has begun.

Guilt tears at her like she tore at him. In a half-remembered life, they were friends. She remembers a ride in a faded red truck on a lonely day when the near-stranger trusted her with his fear. A hard thing for a teenaged boy to do.

She killed him. With these hands, she killed him.

I won’t fight. I won’t.

I’ll stand with you, love. Don’t fret. We will go together.

But Nessie… Oh my God! Edward! There she is!

The girl bounds into the clearing, and six wolves leap for her at once. Guilt or no guilt, the two who destroyed their friends amongst their enemies have no choice. She is their daughter.

They stand. And then they fall.

Billy Black is prone in his wheelchair, motionless, still. His dark skin shows no pallor from the total lack of blood beneath it, but the slash in his throat is unmistakable. Killed by a vampire.

Jake knows who did it, and he calls for the only available pack member to help him take his revenge. Leah runs by his side, ground by ground, the only thing firm in this world anymore. They find him easily. A golden head falls to the forest floor. A fire consumes, burns, burns, burns.

It’s literal, tearing the body to nothing. And it’s inside them all. Burning. Burning. Burning.

Edward and Bella didn’t fall alone. They took down Collin and Brady on the way. The youngest, the most inexperienced, they fought back to back and died that way.

Jacob buries them, once the battle’s lost and won. Back to back. How they lived. How they died. How they rest now, forever.

Best friends and brothers, back to back, back to back.

They trusted one another perfectly. Watch my back. I will.

Wasn’t enough.

She was never a part of Alice’s family. Bella, her dearest friend, her sister. But the child she never saw wasn’t.

She didn’t see that coming. She didn’t expect it. And the unexpected is something Alice has learned to hate, desperately, despairingly.

Jasper’s dead now. Dead. It’s such a final word in this burning world and she can’t see any brightness ahead. Not one ray of it.

They killed him but it was because of her. Her, that baby who never should have been. A danger. She wishes now she’d just let the Volturi stop it when there was still a chance. Anything that Jasper could live again.

But he won’t.

So she’ll find her revenge, and then she’ll follow him.

She hunts through the dark spots in her sight to find the wolves, and then she tells them her plan.

He went down in the first battle.

In the end, Leah supposes she should be glad. Better that, than to live and watch his friends and family turn on each other. Better than to be her, watching everyone he loves die one by one.

She should be glad.

But when Seth jumps in front of Edward’s teeth, bared at her neck, all the feeling she could find was guilt and the soon-to-be-forever omnipresence of heavy grief.

They didn’t expect it to start a war.

Edward saw that horrible sorrow in Paul’s eyes and knew it intimately. Though his whole family cautioned caution, told him no, wait, we don’t want to make this mistake, we’ll never take a life, he knew sometimes it just wasn’t worth living.

He had gone to the Volturi, and they’d been so cursed stubborn about it. His family had refused, just as Paul’s family had refused him. But he knew the feeling.

She’s dead. She’s dead, she’s dead, she’s dead, and it’s your fault.

It was the only thought he could have, the only thought Paul could have now. And by her own hands or by his angry claws, what was the difference? Your fault.

Edward kills him quickly.

Maybe he should have stopped to think, because the minute he realized he wasn’t going to die he had a really good reason not to want to.

That whole thing had begun with a misunderstanding; a misunderstanding almost as great as those about to follow this.

Her parents lie still on the ground but she doesn’t have time to mourn them. Collin and Brady are not even an afterthought. She’s too busy grieving for herself.

Her life is going to end at the hands of people she loves.

She reaches out a hand to Jared.

I didn’t do it, I didn’t, I didn’t. She killed herself. It wasn’t me.

He doesn’t listen. He can’t. She doesn’t blame him—it’s too much. And she really was in the wrong place, at the wrong time. Yellow eyes, black eyes, wolf eyes with no whites and too-wide pupils and no love inside. She doesn’t see Uncle Sam and Embry and Jared.

She sees danger.

Jared leaps first for her throat and she closes her eyes. But the impact never comes.

Do you really think I’d let him do that, Ness? Jacob says as she sobs into his shoulder, looking at the fallen.

Edward, Bella, Collin, Brady, Jared. They mourn for them all.

Go to Emily’s, Jacob suggests. He never forgives himself for that.

Phil and Renee die, two weeks later, before the survivors can come up with an excuse for the holocaust. It’s a car crash. How prosaic.

The high of the first battle and the guilt and rage and fury wears into a slow, tired sorrow. The leaders meet. It’s a peace talk not nearly so risky as the first treaty-making, generations ago. After all, neither of the sides can do war. They are not clearly divide, vampire against wolf, any longer. There’s half-humans and imprints and friendships tying them together, until they’re all one family, and no one wants to suffer betrayal.

As a show of good will and because neither Carlisle nor Sam wants them alone, Emily and Esme are there, at first glaring and then their identical personalities wearing down enmity. They chat like sisters by the end of the meeting, casually, offering a familiar suggestion to Carlisle or Sam.

The consensus is this. There will be no more war. Peace, at any price. But there is one too high.

At the very beginning of it all. This moment is seared into their collective consciousness, a memory of such absolute agony that none of them can bring themselves to blame Paul for all he set in motion.

Paul, you idiot, I have actual ambitions, you know. I’m not staying here the rest of my life.

What are you saying, Rachel?

I’m breaking up with you.

And claws of fire, right into her core, cutting out her heart like she cut out his, and she’s broken on the floor and her breath’s all gone forever and so much pain.

Kill me.

Please.

If only they had.

None of them will wish if only he hadn’t, because they know he wished that, even in the brevity of his life after, enough for an eternity. Instead they wish:

If only they had.

You tried to kill her.

I didn’t. Jake, it wasn’t me who…

You tried to.

Hasn’t this destroyed us enough? Jake, we’re the only ones left.

You tried to kill her.

His mind is a wall and Embry breaks himself against it, trying to find the way back into the friendship they had. How does he excuse this? It’s not like the time he stole Jacob’s GameBoy in seventh grade. Not at all.

So they fight, even though the war should be over (because everyone who fought in it is dead).

Jake doesn’t kill him. He shatters his leg with an immense blow, but he’s the one who limps away.

Embry just sinks. Lower and lower. A bottle and a breath.

They run again. A second force, based on a second error.

White flags flying high are stained with the red blood and the red curls and the red rage in their shared eyes and they attack.

Stop, Sam roars, but he isn’t phased yet, not in time, he won’t with Emily there (like he’d make that mistake again) and the pack’s too far gone to hear his human voice and obey and he can’t force them like this.

Carlisle dies first (Jared and Embry) and then Esme is falling (Collin and Brady. Their first kill).

No peace. Kim’s life was too much to pay for it, and Sam agrees when he sees the vision. Jacob’s imprint is one of them, but she’s not even human. Maybe Nessie can be saved, but the pack has priorities.

He will stand with them. The treaty is gone. The dawn gives way to the sunset: the inevitable war has broken.

He sees them fall, his eyes dark in his dark face, no tears shed, no rage ripping through his spine. He watches, and he knows with a knowledge that lies deep in him and aches with the constancy of old wounds that it is his fault. They died under his command, all of these children, one by one, because he was not enough to protect them.

But he has more immediate problems, like the fact that the reason for his existence is completely alone. Danger rushes headlong towards her and he leaps toward Nessie as Emily opens the door to the little yellow house. Amazing how the sun still shines through it as the two Alpha wolves finally have their fight.

Sam falls, and Emily runs upstairs. No one expects her to come back down. Even Jacob’s optimism only goes so far.

No one ever tells Rebecca Black what’s happened in La Push. No one needs to. Even when she and Rachel bickered so hard and so long they didn’t speak to one another for months at a time, they were still twins. Even the least supernaturally inclined person could see it. Two bodies, but one soul.

Rebecca Black is exactly half a person now. She has no will to walk or talk or eat, and no knowledge that she even should. She starves to death in her own home because she can’t lift the cup of soup to her mouth and her handsome surfer husband is too proud to bring her to the crazy hospital.

Wolves, the only ones that survive. Just two of them. Leah Clearwater and Embry Call. No imprints, no family left but one mother apiece. They’re all but untouchable. What can hurt them now?

Vampire, just the one. The rest are dead. Alice Cullen. She saw the family she was meant to be a part of before she could ever be near them, but it was with her own, real eyes she watched them fall.

They make up the avenging army. Aro was right: they could not predict when she would become a danger. It is time to attack. To kill.

Jacob is talking to her, looking out into the forest. He hears a soft thump as she falls.

By the time he whirls around to search for danger, it’s too late.

Emily, do you know where Sue’s at? Emily? Em- Oh God!

Chief Swan sees the bodies. Sam, in wolf form, not that he’s seen him like this before. But he can recognize the boy’s wise eyes, he knows the stories. He’s figured out more than anyone realizes.

Emily’s upstairs, on the ground, fallen. Carlisle and Esme lie on opposite ends of a couch, steaming piles of ashes. He doesn’t recognize them, but he’s seen enough.

Like Harry Clearwater, his heart just can’t take it. It spasms, and he collapses on the stairway, midway between the other four corpses.

Alice Cullen was really the best planned out of all of them. Even blind, she had a talent for proactivity.

She knew Jacob would take care of her death after Nessie’s. She needed to die, and he was more than happy to oblige.

It’s a thin, peaceful smile as her head is ripped off that clues him in. She knew Ness had nothing to do with it and was just merciless enough to kill her anyway.

In time, he forgives her: none of them were going to survive this anyway.

When she’s sixteen years old, Claire Denson finally gives in. She realizes there will never be anything more in life, and no one’s ever going to be able to explain to her why she doesn’t just want it, she expects it.

Claire Denson cuts her wrists a little deeper than usual. Pain is better than emptiness, being alone without knowing who you’re missing. She could never shake the feeling there was supposed to be something epic in her life. She’s tired of grieving when no one knows what she’s lost.

What does she have to live for anyway?

Leah disappears after the battle. Her mother (metaphorically) burns herself on Seth’s pyre. Billy and Charlie and Harry and Seth all so close to each other are just too much for her to take.

Jacob’s the only one at the funeral, and the casket closes slowly.

A howl from the woods cuts itself off. He knows, with realization sinking like a stone in his gut, that Leah, too, is gone.

A week after Claire kills herself, Jacob Black goes to the Volturi, phases in the middle of the square, and waits for death. He’d kept an eye on the girl, for Quil’s sake. He’d lived, for Nessie’s. But he was sick and tired of it all. He’d watched them fall, all of them, seen as the ties of love that had held them so tight turned into fire, as the knots that held them together turned into a web for flame to rush across.

It’s a relief to die. Not even a pleasure, like it was for Alice, not a necessity like for Sue. Just a relief. Stopping the pain, suicide in its purest provocation, a death because life is pointless and little more.

It doesn’t hurt much, and he smiles the now (and unfortunately) familiar smile he’d seen on so many faces. His last words are Thank You. He has no one to say goodbye to.

Everyone he’d loved, he’d lost. One by one.

One by one.