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I'm nothing but a monster burning in a hell that only exists in my head. There's no hope left until one harmless glance chances logic and binds two eternal enemies together in a twist of fate. Can the escape from this hell be found in an infuriating dimpled grin? Or is this another dark, dirty trick of my own mind? A forbidden passion, heat, and intense anger—this is no fairytale.

[Disclaimer: Monster is an originally plotted fic. The ideas within this fic are not to be copied in any way, shape, or form—I have not given my consent to any manner of copying. All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the intellectual property of their respective owners. All canon concepts and characters are the property of the Twilight Saga's author, Stephenie Meyer. No copyright infringement is intended. Similarities are for the sole use of fan fiction, and no profit has been or will be benefited from the posting of this fic.] Emerging Swan Award 2012, nominated into Fandom Choice Awards.

12. Tick, Tock

Rating 0/5   Word Count 1914   Review this Chapter

"I'm waking up, I feel it in my bones." - Imagine Dragons.

Chapter Twelve

Tick, Tock

March 12th, 2004.

I couldn't explain what I was thinking. Maybe I wasn't thinking at all. There were blurs of people coming and going, like a movie on fast-forward. The pale room around me was blank, and my arms rested on the cool table while the chatter around me continued, a blank hum in the background.

Jacob and Nicole sat close enough that their elbows touched while they listened to Jacob's friends, Embry and Quil, jabber on about nonsense. Quil patted his thick, curly hair and grinned, his mouth moving as he joked about who knows what. Embry tugged at his traditionally long hair and laughed along with Quil. Occasionally, the group glanced over at me, but otherwise I was given much-needed space.

It had been a couple of weeks since I had returned. At first, Sam was angry, giving me hours of lecturing after I'd cleaned myself up. But after seeing that all I was going to do was nod every now and then in response, he gave up and started to worry instead.

The truth was, I was fine. My head was held high as long as the sun was up. I could silently trudge through the days perfectly. But at night, with Paul's absence heavy on my shoulders, I allowed everything to fall down. I would take a little sip of the bottle until I crashed unconsciously into turning tides of haunted dreams.

As long as there was peace, I could keep a level head easily enough. Everything in the cafeteria was generally peaceful. That was, until she walked in.

This was just part of my daily routine. I tried my best to keep out of it, but it was hard to miss the sound of the cafeteria doors crashing open, ten minutes after everyone in the eighth grade had already settled down. Beth was right on time.

She set her shoulders back and raised her chin, sensing the interested audience. The silence of the room showed the fear of everyone around her. I snorted inwardly, watching her face and eyes as they gleamed with satisfaction. She rubbed her glossy lips together and studied the faces of the crowd. She paused for a moment, most likely for effect, before she flipped her hair over her shoulder and raised a hand. She curled in her fingers to gesture her huddled pack of wannabes forward.

Beth led her group down the open aisle. Her heels clicked as she walked; each of them followed, so close that it was a wonder they didn't trip over each other. Most groups of people ducked their heads together and frantically started to whisper. The girls did, anyway. Numerous idiotic guys were too busy checking Beth out to realize their food was raised halfway to their mouths.

It took me another minute to realize the girls were heading straight for my table. My eyes narrowed, matching Beth's. I could tell by the way her lips curled into a smirk that she was about to start harassing me again. I'd had enough of it outside, in the halls, and on the stairs before school, but in front of the whole grade? That was far past overdramatic.

I could feel the whole room watching, mesmerized, as she marched up to us. I arched an eyebrow, ignoring everyone around me. Beth was nothing but trash to me.

I saw the curious glances and knew that Beth and her annoying crew were behind me now, but there was nothing I could do, not while my head was still spinning. Seconds, minutes, maybe hours passed, but I didn't respond.

One sharp prod of a sharp nail brought me back to reality.

"Hey." Beth snickered. It was faded at first but soon clear again, almost as if water had been blocking my hearing but suddenly drained away. She continued to poke me. My hands curled into fists while I imagined snapping those carefully placed nails clean off.

"Hey. Hey, Jordy." A musical laugh, a harmony of her followers, floated around the room in response to her moronic nickname for me.

The cafeteria was probably quiet enough for everyone to hear a pin drop, but the roaring in my ears didn't make it seem like that. It was as if with every poke, Beth was pushing me closer and closer to my limit.

"Enjoying yourself?" I snapped. My head turned just in time to see her smiling. She probably felt very accomplished at having forced words out of me. It was a first.

"Not really." Beth shrugged her shoulders. She stepped around me to place her palms on the table and get in my face. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that Quil stared as her shirt fell. Jacob and Nicole gave him a nudge at the same time before their eyes turned to me again. I kept my eyes trained on the table in a way to control myself while Beth spoke again, this time louder.

"But I have been enjoying Eli. Ever since he's been out of the hospital, we've been very . . . busy." She grinned at me again.

I scoffed to myself. I'd already heard, via gossip in the halls, about Eli's long, painful hospitalization. He really did deserve it, but something about Beth's words, just the way she said them, set a spark of fury in my veins.

I could feel Beth's eyes flick back and forth when she studied my expression. The soft laugh was basically breathed right into my ear. She slapped a hand on my cheek, nails scraping the skin. She laughed when I stiffened before stepping back and giving high-fives to her giggling followers.

Nicole's lips moved. She glanced at Jacob, Quil, and Embry, but all of them were watching me. She continued to speak, but it was like she was on mute. The rage inside me erupted, and I was shaking from the aftershock. I pressed my fists into the table and jumped back, knocking a bragging Beth back a few steps. She squealed, her arms flailing around in a movement similar to those of flapping chicken wings.

"Look at you. Little Miss Perfect, squealing like a pig," I sneered. The words were full of venom, meant to sting and burn. I saw her nervously cast her eyes over the cafeteria, and then watched her flinch when she realized her audience was even more interested in the show. I advanced slower, the tips of my fingers trembling.

"That's what you are. A squealing pig, flopping your chest around because you'll never have anything better to do than show it all off to the boys so you can suck on anything that'll fit in your mouth."

She gasped, the sound louder than I would have expected. No, it wasn't just her. Nearly every kid had gasped while they stared in amazement. A collective whisper sent a buzz of noise through the room while Beth struggled for words.

"N-No," she murmured, awkwardly lifting herself up from the floor. Her clothes were wrinkled, hair frizzed. The flaws cracked her perfection and made her vulnerable.

"Excuse me?" I closed the distance. I towered over her, allowing my fury to blaze over my expression. The mocking tone of my voice and posture caused her eyes to glimmer with embarrassment.

"Please." Beth scoffed, straightening her shoulders. "Honey, you aren't even worth the dirt I spit on. And neither were your parents, which I heard is what made you so weird. Thank the Lord they're dead."

Normally, I would give her no further response but an eye roll, but this was different. It was different because the bottled up emotions were now set free. Different because she'd talked about my parents-she'd hit a sensitive spot. Her comment directed the conversation into a forbidden topic.

Time slowed, but the flames of rage inside me were let loose. The captivated audience and everything around me whisked away. My fist swung forward, feeling sluggish with the dragging of time.

Tick, tock.

My fist met her lip, busting the skin and bringing a sprinkle of blood. Her eyes crinkled, mouth slowly opening as she screamed. The sound droned on while her body fell, thudding to the ground.

Tick, tock.

Beth shuddered but pulled herself up. Smudges of makeup were all over her face. Tears ran down. Her mouth opened again, but no sound came out. She took a step at me, still in slow motion. I could have easily dodged her, but the slowness of time was weighing me down. It took forever just to bend my knees, and that was the only thing I had time for.

Claws dug into my scalp while furious fingers knotted in my hair. The thickness of each strand dulled the irritation of the yanking. I wasn't bothered by such a stupid move. I forced myself forward, knocking Beth back against the wall.

Tick, tock.

Her body jerked and her mouth opened again. I tore myself back as fast as possible, but Beth's slow moving fingers caught my cheek. Blood welled up, hot and wet, sliding down my face in three distinct trails.

Tick, tock.

I thought about punching her some more. Really, I wanted to beat her into a raw hamburger, and I could have. But as time dragged on, I realized that would take more time than I had. Surely teachers had already been notified and would end this before I could lay another hand on her.

So instead, I ducked under the points of her nails and reached out to grab a fancy chair, the ones that the richer kids paid to have at their tables. I ripped it off the ground, holding it up, feeling my small muscles flex under the weight. Beth's eyes widened, her arms slowly rising as if to protect her face.

I swung the chair hard enough to hear it crack. Strength pumped through my arms. I could feel the vibrations in the legs of the chair as it struck her. She cried out, crashing down to the ground while blood poured in between the spaces of her fingers.

Amazement surged inside me as I stared at the crumpled chair. What had I just done? There was no way that I could have. . .

Tick, tock.

Blinking, I realized Beth was slowly trying to raise herself up. My foot lifted, and then hammered into her face, right under her chin. I leaned back away, my breathing heavy as I stared down at the thrashing form below me.

Eventually, Beth's jerking started to subside and blackness slid over her eyes. In a heartbeat, time sped up to its usual pace. I stood upright, chest heaving with my heavy breathing. I turned, surveying the scattered room, my expression twisted with fury and utter disgust.

Blood had splattered on the tables, swirling splashes of crimson in the pale cafeteria. My ears were ringing, my head spinning. The swelling in my throat made it hard to breathe. I simply stared, my burning eyes locked on the crumpled pile of Beth on the floor. I almost expected her to hop up, screaming about a broken nail. Only she didn't. Beth lay on the ground, not moving.

My eyes moved up to study the faces. Tremors shook my body and made it hard to see. The room was a shocked sea of silence.

Until someone screamed.