One by One
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Nessie’s the first to find the body.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.