Do Us Part
In real life, happy endings take time. Blackwater.
1. Do Us Part
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You promised her 'til death. You meant it too. They live forever, her kind, and we don't. You would age and whither away, while she'd look like a smiling, bouncy-haired, clear-skinned, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed teenager for the rest of her life. And one day you'd die, and it'd make no difference to her. Give her ten or twenty years and she'd be back on her feet – if she'd ever faltered at all. But she was filthy rich and so pretty it makes your teeth hurt and you imprinted upon her, so of course you promised her.
...for better or for worse, for richer (which she could only get), for poorer (which she'd never be), in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us (you) part.
That was the last time I saw you. At your wedding, to her, the girl with the stripper-wanna-be name. You flew off on your honeymoon, just forgetting us, your pack, and leaving us for Sam to grab up and-
You left us. You left us, left me, for God's sake. What the fuck was wrong with you? Were you too blinded by her perfectly white smile to see what you did to us? Did you just forget that you left Seth and me without an Alpha? Did you honestly think Sam would just forgive and forget and-?
I shouldn't be so angry. Not after all these years. I can't expect you to try and make up for twenty years of mistakes. You would do it, though, if I let you.
That's why I love you.
You have any idea how much it hurt to see you imprinted on that, that thing? I thought, 'fore she was born, that we had something, or were starting to, at least. We'd both been burned in love, but we were smarter now. Or so I thought. We-
The night before The Spawn was born, I dreamed you came to me and kissed me in ways Sam never had.
It doesn't matter now. It was only a dream, and the next day you were the love slave of a mutant, something more despicable than even leeches. And on her six birthday (though she looked hardly more than sixteen, and so pretty it'd be pointless for me to try denying she wasn't, isn't still) you married her. And went to some place sunny, maybe even that island where she'd been conceived, and never came back. You went on to Canada, or Alaska, or wherever the Cullens' next stopover was, and were gone. Forever.
Going back to Sam's pack after that was terrible. Seth couldn't take it and left before you'd been gone a year. East. I don't know where. Mom still hears from him from time to time. He was always so very smart. He could do that, just pick up and move, and be able to survive.
Not me. I'd no skills, nowhere to go, so I stayed. Got a job at the diner. Lived at home. Embry came by the diner a lot, 'cause he worked at the shop next door, and he was a lot of things – fun and steady and sweet, in his own way, and there – but he wasn't you. He was all I had, though, my only support in Sam's pack with Seth gone and Quil paw over muzzle for a now teenage Claire. And he asked.
So I said yes, and promised him everything.
…for better or for worse, for richer (which we'd never be), for poorer (which we could only get), in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.
You were gone. You'd never loved me anyway. I'd no reason to say no. What else could I do?
Things didn't change though. The pack was the same, the job was the same, and the only thing now was Embry and I were living together in a place not far from where either of us had lived. Maybe for a time we were happy, but it was fleeting.
I didn't love him. I couldn't love not after Sam had broken my heart and you'd shattered what'd managed to heal. I think he knew it. He thought he could heal me, but he was just... he was fun, yes, and steady, and sweet, in his own way, and always there... but we never fought. Not once. He'd give me my way on anything, if I wanted it. After a while, I stopped wanting.
There's only so long you can swim against the current 'fore it finally gets you. Dead end job, dead end town, hell, dead end husband – it all piles up in the end. We were just two people, moving through our lives together. No, not even together, just side-by-side, slowly slipping further and further away, until, at last, we parted.
It took us seventeen years to realize it. Or admit to it. Sometimes I felt I knew it from day one.
The pack was the same, though other people had babies and they were starting to have babies of their own. The job was still the same. I was living at home again, with Mom, and that would've been completely the same if the years hadn't taken all the colour from her hair and some of the strength from her step. And I was still slip-sliding away, feeling so beaten and broken sometimes I just wanted to go the highest cliffs – the same ones your precious Bella went schizo on – and end it all. But I never could do that, much as I wanted to. It'd be letting Sam win – you win, though gone, without so much as a phone call, not for nineteen years.
Nineteen became twenty.
On the twenty-first, you came home.
You walked right into my diner and sat down at the counter. You didn't recognize me. I didn't recognize you either, not at first. You looked as old and broken down as I felt, and I didn't need to you tell me to know she wasn't with you. You'd left her, 'cause there was only so long two people could live side-by-side before they realized they were moving apart. She was still young and you, you only had her. No real friends, no family, no pack, just her. A person couldn't survive that way. God knows I wasn't.
And she had someone else now. A human. A young one, who hadn't even been born when either of us got married. There was talk of turning him, so he could be young and beautiful, forever. But he was only a symptom.
Sometimes, you dreamed I came you me and kissed you in ways she never had, and there were no secrets in that family. The Spawn found out, and thought-
Neither of us knew, but there was Bradley now and, even if it'd never been true, it might as well been.
And we became a pack again. You got a job and lived at Billy's house, and, while it might've seemed like nothing had changed, it had. We were both broken, no smarter than we had been when we were kids, but we had each other. You were fun and sweet and sometimes got so angry I thought you might hurt someone and not at all the steady, even person Embry had been, but you were there, in a way he'd never been.
The first time it happened, it was your anniversary – it would've been twenty-two.
The second time, it was just desire to feel, if only for a fleeting moment, we were loved.
The third, it was my anniversary – it would've been my twentieth. You came over with movies and chocolate and beer and it didn't just happen. We sat on my coach together and first it was your hand 'round my shoulder, and then it was my head on yours, and the beer was untouched and I just looked at you and felt something like I'd never felt before, not with Sam, not with Embry, and you looked at me the same way and after that it just became natural, 'til you were at my place more than you were at Billy's, and I started laughing again, and so did you, until...
You're waiting for my answer. I'm still trying to process you asked. I know how hard it is for you to be doing this, after she broke your heart. I can see it in your eyes, your beautiful, dark eyes, that you're worried that I'll say no. You're even more worried I'll say yes and that, one day, I'll break you all over again.
“Jake,” I manage, my voice coming out a choked whisper, and I don't know why I'm tearing – I've been through this before, and I love you, and I've never felt so alive as I have since you've been back – but I do anyway. I realize you're still kneeling, and so I tug you up, 'til you're towering over me like you always do with the slightest frown starting to form on your face (your eyes already giving way what you think this means), and, still threatening to cry, I whisper, “Yes,” as lift myself up to kiss you. “Yes. Yes.”
This time it'll be different. I know it will be.
…for better (which you've already made me) or for worse (which we've already pulled each other from), for richer (which we'd never be), for poorer (which we could only get), in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.
And, with your warm lips hard on mine, I really do think that, this time, it really will take death.