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Monster

Summary:
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.


Notes:
[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.


44. Believe It Or Not

Rating 0/5   Word Count 5123   Review this Chapter

"Searching to find myself
And all I find is you
I could hardly stand myself
So what am I to you?
You could find a reason
You could let me know
I won't blame you
I just didn't go." - Imagine Dragons.

Chapter Forty Four

Believe It Or Not

Hours tick by, passing at a lazy, comfortable pace. Emmett and I stay together, unable to keep more than a few inches of distance between our bodies. There aren't many words spoken—everything is said in the peace of being together. I doze in and out for the first time in weeks, wrapped in the blanket of Emmett's strong hold. It isn't until the temperature starts to warm with the approach of dawn that I wake and throw up my guard once more.

I don't move at first, because Emmett's arms are draped over my body. As my muscles gradually begin to tense and my breathing picks up, Emmett slides his arms off me and rests a hand on my neck, testing my erratic pulse. I smile slightly to myself, rolling onto my side in the dirt to face him. Emmett greets me with his dimples.

"Morning, Jord."

I wear a slight smile while studying Emmett's expression. Dew gleams on his face, sparkling in tiny drops on the line of his jaw and the tip of his nose. We've been out here for a while, maybe even too long. Although the sleep is refreshing and Emmett's hold is better than any action I can find on the reservation, something about the fact is unbelievable. Have we really managed to meet in the middle of the night, under the noses of our families, without any interruption? My mind spins at the idea, half hopeful and half suspicious.

As my mind works faster, Emmett pulls me closer, and I position myself upright. I move slowly, causing the air around me to shift with the motion. Despite the sensation, I don't allow myself to trust my own mind. I reach down to brush my fingers over the denim of Emmett's jeans, only to stop short at the sound of my growling stomach.

This is real, I decide.

"Speaking of that," Emmett says in a hushed tone. His hand snakes into his left pocket. "I brought you a little something."

I drop my gaze to Emmett's pocket, watching as he pulls out a small bag of grapes that has miraculously managed to remain unharmed. I raise an eyebrow at the bag as Emmett places it in my hands. He chuckles at my expression, giving me a big, goofy grin.

"Ooh, table scraps," I joke drowsily, tearing open the bag with a single tug. "You shouldn't have."

Emmett's brow furrows at my words, his grin not faltering. "I shoulda gone for the Milk Bones."

I flash a smile at him. "Maybe you should have. But. . ." I lean back against his chest and flick a grape into my mouth. "These will just have to do. Gotta eat someday."

"That you do," Emmett muses. He watches me chew and swallow, slipping his hand beneath my free one as I eat. I scoop out a handful, glancing down at our conjoined hands. Emmett's thumb rests over the ring on my finger, leaving just enough space for me to see it there. As I stare, his cool breath brushes against my neck and his low voice whispers in my ear.

"I'll take care of you. I'm promising you that, Jordan."

The skin of a grape lodges in my throat. I stifle a cough before swallowing hard, grimacing as the grape washes down. Emmett's stare burns into the side of my face as I pause, my heart pounding against my ribs. Promise. The monster hates this word—the monster hates the fact that Emmett is openly going against it by choosing to ignore the threats. It sends sparks of hate crackling through my body. For a moment, I feel a crushing bout of disgust directed at the ring; for a moment, I need to crush it to bits. But the desire only lasts for a brief instant. I swallow again, forcing back instinct as I realize Emmett's waiting for me to speak.

"You've got me hanging on to something that's still nothing," I begin. My words come smoothly despite the locking of my muscles. "But this nothing's all I have, Emmett."

There's a moments pause. Then, two hands brush up my arms and around my torso. I am gently dragged over the ground, slow enough to give me the chance to reject the movement but quickly enough that I can't find any reason to. Emmett pulls me into his arms, pressing me back against him as he closes his arms around me. The cool puffs of his sweet breath brush the top of my head.

"Believe it or not, this is all I find myself wanting anymore," Emmett whispers. The soft, low tone of his voice travels into my ear and sends my heart racing all over again. Emmett continues as I stare blankly into the black forest, his hands reaching out to draw mine in, holding our joined hands against my body.

"This is all you've got and all you can give me. And I don't mind. Not at all."

My eyes fall shut as I strain to gather my control. Emmett's fingers are filling the spaces in my hand, making me whole, but his words are sending my heart into a wild burst of speed. I breathe out slowly as I speak, taking time to form my words. "How long has there been an 'us'?"

Emmett's chest rises slightly against my back as he inhales. "Couple weeks."

I laugh once his words sink in. It seems like it's been years—like the clock's been overlapping itself in the mess of things. "We're mad," I tell him through my laughter. "Absolutely, hopelessly mad."

Rumbles pass through Emmett's chest as he laughs along with me. I lean my head back against his broad shoulder, catching a glimpse of the undeniable happiness in his expression. Emmett finds my gaze and his brow wiggles. "It's been long enough that I have to stake my claim and tame this wild beauty."

"And good luck to you," I tease. "You'll need it, what with your very odd sort of taste in women."

"No bother to me." Emmett shrugs slightly, twisting the ring around my finger absentmindedly. "But you pick your men pretty damn well, if I do say so myself."

I grin, turning my face in towards Emmett's neck where I place a light kiss. "Is that so?"

"Of course it is," he brags. His head tilts to the side, leaning in close to my own. There's a moment of quiet, the only sounds being the rush of wind and the heavy beat of my heart. "Just listen to it. I get your body going without even trying."

"Mmm. Fun, aren't I?"

Emmett looks smug as his eyes flash down toward the revealed flesh of my chest. "You will be, I'm sure."

"That's it!" My hands slip free of Emmett's own, my body twisting in his grip as I rock forward and onto my feet. He stays planted on the ground as I glare down at him, mimicking his smugness. "Time to clean up that dirty mind of yours."

Moments after the words leave my mouth, Emmett's face is splashed with a kick of puddle water.

Emmett grunts in surprise, raising a hand to wipe his face clean. As his eyes open, they instantly narrow, filled with a playful glint. "Time to teach you some manners."

Suddenly, Emmett is on his feet. I don't bother to react as he lunges for me, his hands pressing into my back as we barrel straight into the river.

The river isn't very deep at the edge, and because of my height, I'm able to catch myself on the ledge of muck. Emmett's body slams against my own, but I'm braced well enough that I don't stagger. Instead, I slap my hands into the water, sending wave after wave of water flying over Emmett's body.

"When I'm done with you, you're gonna shine!" I yell over the splashes.

"You've already dazzled me, babe!" Emmett crows from behind his arms, which are now crossed protectively over his face.

The next round of water hits the bank, my hand swiping through the empty air. I only have time to give a huff before a rough bump to my side sends me beneath the water's surface. I catch my breath before the current captures me, pulling my body away from the edge and down the river. My hands reach out and drag through the thick mud for a few yards before they find their grip. Once I steady myself, I break the surface and plant my feet against the slick river bottom.

Emmett has some game, but I'm not going to let him win so easily. I scoop up a nice handful of mud, lifting it out of the water as I spin around. I'm about to draw my arm back and prepare to strike, but as my body angles to face the river again, my nose bumps into another. My fingers instantly curl in and the mud spills into the river with a plop. The sound of deep laughter freezes my attack.

"Boo," Emmett murmurs under his chuckle.

The flurry of defensiveness is instantly replaced by flutters that swirl in the pit of my stomach. I find myself smirking instead of striking as Emmett snickers at me, his face only centimeters from my own. Water runs down his hair, dripping off his skin and soaking his clothing, leaving little for my imagination. My skin grows hotter at the mere sight of him.

In this moment, I can't find words. I want to growl at my near swooning, but I'm too overwhelmed by the strength of the foreign emotion that's racing through my body to make a sound. I can only stare at the man so close to me, feeling like my heart might give out if it doesn't slow down. Everything about him—from the cling of his shirt to his body to the brightness in his grin—is so real and bright to me, I almost think the sun might have leaked through the clouds and caught the world on fire.

But I know it hasn't, because the light comes from inside of me, opening up a different part of me. The same light is there in Emmett, showing through his eyes. The golden irises gleam, not with the daze of forced adoration, but with something more. Neither of us are bound by spells and magic—we're making this choice now. It's free will.

Or at least, a bit of it that's allowed in this world.

Our moment is broken by a soft whine. Emmett's gaze settles over my shoulder, his brow furrowing at the sound. I exhale sharply and turn my head myself just as a sandy wolf slinks out of the brush. His body is lowered to the ground and his dark eyes are wide. Wariness radiates off the fur on his awkward body. As I stare into his eyes, the wolf's large head lowers and he repeats the same impatient noise.

I don't say anything to the wolf. I look back at Emmett, my heart already slowing back down as it settles into reality. Emmett meets my gaze as I move, his lower lip pushed out in a pout.

"Gotta go?"

The words slice through me, but my lips form a small smile. "For now."

Disappointment is clear on Emmett's expression. I can see it and almost feel it as if the emotion is my own. But Emmett doesn't hold me back. "Alright, alright." Emmett grins again, spreading his arms wide. "At least give your future hubby a bye hug."

I instantly slip into his tight embrace. Emmett holds me close, our wet clothes pressing together. He smirks against the side of my face as the wolf across the river huffs loudly. The smugness returns on Emmett's expression at the sound and he leans in closer as he breathes words into my ear at a volume that makes it clear they're just for show.

"If things get rough over there and the mood strikes, you know where to go."

A gagging noise sounds out, followed by the shuffle of clumsy paws. Knowing Seth is listening along with the amused smile against my skin makes it impossible to resist playing along. I dig my fingers into Emmett's back and let out a deep, breathy sigh. "I'll be there if you come too."

Emmett growls lowly, although his suppressed laughter is evident beneath it. "Make sure you hurry. It won't be long if you keep me waiting."

By now the gags have shifted into whimpers and brush crackles as Seth stomps around on the bank. Emmett's amusement reflects in me, but the wolf in me forces it away. Even as Emmett pulls back to grin at me, with his wet hair and strong jaw just in reach, even as he presses his cool lips to my forehead, I know I have to go. My arms are paralyzed for a moment longer before I take in a final pull of Emmett's scent and break away. My heart instantly starts to pound as I wade a few paces into the water. I swallow back the thickness in my throat and look into Emmett's eyes again. He stands so close yet out of reach, and that might as well mean he's a million miles away. As the pounding of my heart grows painful, a whisper passes thoughtlessly through my lips.

"I love you, Emmett."

Emmett grins like a fool. I return it instantly, but it falters as Emmett's flickers. I almost think my mind is playing tricks on me again, but the blackness hovering on the edges of my vision prove otherwise. I force my heel to spin in the mud again as the blackness deepens, leaving Emmett standing there in the water, causing him to slip farther and farther away with every heavy step.

I walk straight into the face of winter. All bits of warmth trail behind me, fading away. Ahead of me, in the land where I belong, the lights have drowned in shadows and chills race through the wind. There's fog hanging over the ground, lying to me, making it seem as if my mind is clear. Each breath pushes heat into the air. I suck back in each exhale until my lungs ache, just to fill the sudden emptiness inside of me.

As I near, a breath of air stirs the brush, shaking the forest. The gentle serenity found in the warmth of Emmett's arms is choked out by the cold reality of the world that I belong in. A world where dormant genes change boys into soldiers in the blink of an eye; where any well-grounded individual may become a monster by dawn.

The dark shadows wrap around my figure as the drive to protect swells in side of me. I am frozen—a spot of red gone blue—until fever pierces my veins and starts to spread through my body, swallowing me whole. The pressure clamps down on my shoulders again, coming as an aftershock to the sudden bite of ice. This time, it's preparing to shake me, to rattle my core and grind out every trace of Emmett inside of me until I'm nothing but bone and blood—nothing but a killer trapped inside an abnormally tough skeleton. There's only seconds left.

Another stinging breath is pulled through my mouth. With it comes the sweet scent of Emmett, still there, standing back across the river. I know there's no time to waste, but my eyes are riveted back to him. The wind blows through my hair, throwing a wave of it in front of my face. Through the spaces of the black locks, two golden eyes catch mine in a stare, following the bright flash of a smile. One eye winks at me, and then the final traces of warmth are gone with the man darting back into the forest without a sound.

Just as the shell of my body starts to crack, I can hear my own voice in my head, whispering words that don't have time to reach my lips: I'll come back to you.

The wolf inside cries out, begging for release from this body and this suddenly tortured mind. I don't have any time to waste. I clench my hand, fingers digging through thin cloth and denim, tearing the clothing off my body. As one leg reaches out into another stride, I throw myself forward, shedding my human skin in seconds. My paws thump silently to the ground before disappearing into the brush ahead.

On this side of the river, there isn't much grass. Layers of dirt have peeled away under the paws of dozens of generations of wolves. What's left of it is soggy with the rain, churned and mixed into muck. My steps are practiced enough that I don't leave a print and there isn't a single clump of white hair snagged in the thicket. Although I might be careful, the sloppy steps of oversized paws scatter across the mud and crushed twigs are littered with barely invisible strands of sandy fur. The scents of the fur match the scent of the wolf that is approaching me from behind.

Nasty! Nasty, nasty, nasty! All this gooey love is . . . nasty!

Seth rants on in his head, barely managing to cover the memory of the shared moment witnessed between Emmett and I. Through his mind, the act is convincing enough to seem as if we really meant each word that's said—it's convincing enough to send the nausea rolling through Seth's body.

The sandy wolf is shaking his head from side to side as he tromps through the brush toward me. My mouth is curved back in a wolfish grin, although my mind is scattering across the forest, picking up on scents and sounds undetected by the distracted wolf. Huffs puff out of his mouth as he tries to fall in place with me.

Not so fast, kid. I rocket forward suddenly, leaving Seth behind in a spit of mud. I freely stretch out my legs and work my muscles, picking up the pace, as I'm sure there's no nearby threat. Even though the forest is calm, my mind and body remains on alert.

Seth isn't anywhere near focused. The memories continue to blare in his mind, causing him to paw at his head in an attempt to stop them. So I'm just supposed to stand here and think about . . . that?

Do you know how to do anything else?

There's a pause. Um, no. Not really.

I swing my head sharply, taking out a small thorn bush. Then you're good for now.

But that's not fair! Seth's paws thump in the distance as his mind flashes with images of the forest. Sam keeps me out of everything. This is my second patrol and I. . . C'mon, I'll shut up about it. Promise!

My pace remains steady, even as Seth comes up next to me, his head raised and his ears perked. He has to push himself faster to keep up, but he doesn't seem to mind at all. I don't think anything of it. My focus centers on the surrounding forest. But Seth's mind is jumpy, filled with questions and observations and random thoughts that fly through his mind without much point.

The two of us run like this for nearly half a mile. I have the stealth to run smoothly and silently without a mark, but Seth is inexperienced and sloppy, flattening out the brush behind us. If that isn't enough, his thoughts grow louder and louder with each passing moment until they nearly block out every other thought.

Anger starts to set in, and I know I can't let it overtake me. With a flash of my teeth, I roll my head in Seth's direction, stopping in place. As I do, Seth stumbles to a halt. His eyes widen and his paws slide.

Whoa! What's— Seth freezes. His dark eyes narrow in on a space in my fur, peering at the red mark on the skin of my neck. Images of breaking skin and flows of blood expand through his mind. What's that?

My lip curls back slightly, revealing the tips of my teeth. The answer to that belongs behind closed doors, I think to him. My tone is casual, but the sarcasm is heavy underneath.

Seth doesn't notice the sarcasm, though. His mind has abruptly gone nearly silent, only displaying the forest around him.

The rest of the patrol doesn't lead to anything entertaining. There isn't much to see, especially with the sheets of pelting rain pouring through the treetops. Branches tremble under the rush of the wind. Bark is stained black as it rots in the cold wetness. Mud melts through boulders, spilling into fresh pools of rainwater. There is miles and miles of green silence.

I slow as I reach the end of the trail. The salty water leaves a tang in the air and I can hear the sound of waves sweeping over the beach. Everything is still here, and nearly calm until Seth nears, trailing behind.

All clear! he announces cheerfully.

Damn. I huff, my gaze watching the beach through the spaces of the trees. The whining and begging chased off all the fun.

Hey! Seth yelps in offence. Jeez. I'm still getting used to all of this.

Note to self, I think in a mutter. Never patrol with the ones who run like moose.

Sorry, Jord. The sandy wolf stops a few feet behind me, hanging his head. I just wanted to have some fun.

Fun? There isn't fun in this life. There's the exhilaration of the wind and the rush of the crush of bone in our jaws, but there isn't fun. This life is so much more than Seth can even comprehend yet. He's just a boy.

I don't get the chance to respond. As my thoughts shift, Seth has darted over to a tree. He's spotted a squirrel as it eases out of its place in the branches. I can hear it chittering with delight as it realizes the rain has stopped. Its tiny paws scrape the bark as it darts out. I raise my head to catch a glimpse of the little black animal. The movement catches the squirrel's eye and its whiskers twitch. A moment later, it lets out a shrill alarm and scatters off.

Aw man! You scared him away! Seth leans around the tree and barks out once. Don't gotta be scared, little guy.

My ears press flat to my head. Do real wolves make friends with squirrels?

Seth's head turns over his shoulder. He stares at me for a long moment before he grimaces. Uh, no, not really. But, uh, I was supposed to tell you something earlier but I forgot. He shifts his stance, quickly turning away as he senses my attention. I don't know if Sam told you, but we have another pack meeting at his and Emily's soon. Guess we'd better head out now since we're done, huh?

As the thought scrolls through Seth's mind, I'm already moving, set into a jog. Unless you're craving squirrel stew, we'd better get it over with.

()()()

Seth marches straight into the house, already beaming before he reaches the door. I follow behind in my dirt-covered clothing that I've just ripped out from the top of a tree. Moss crumbles off my shorts and rain drips off my hair while mud is caked to my skin. I barely even notice, but just to humor myself, I wipe my feet on the mat before I duck inside.

The house is home. Any stranger could think that. The scents of sweets and the warmth in the atmosphere might actually be calming if not for the tension that buzzes above my head the second I step inside.

Everyone has to be here, crammed into the living room. Jacob stands at the very edge of the group, his eyes tight and his shoulders set. Jared paces behind him, mumbling into a phone. The rest of the pack stands around the small television, circling around Brady and Collin who are crouched right before the screen with wide eyes.

Sam leans against the wall. His arms are folded tight to his chest and worry wrinkles his forehead. He nods as the door shuts, too consumed in his thoughts to look over. I stand at the edge of the circle and behind the couch as Seth peeks around Leah. Jared brushes by me as he continues to mumble into the phone.

"Hey, guys!" Collin pipes up, breaking the heavy silence. "Look what I found!"

"It's just news, dude." Brady sighs.

"Maybe it is." Collin shrugs, brushing off Brady's words. "But it's a lot better than listening to Sam go on and on about how important patrols are!"

"Would you chill out?" Quil groans. "You're gonna worry yourself to death over nothing."

"Sounds good to me," Paul grumbles.

I raise an eyebrow, moving closer to the gathered pack. Leah, who's closest to me, glances my way and angles her shoulder just enough to make room. I slide in place as the pack continues to speak, my eyes trained on the silent blue announcement floating on the screen.

"That's happening in Seattle, Sam," Nicole says quietly, as if she doesn't expect a room full of people with enhanced hearing to hear her. "It's so close to us."

Sam doesn't respond. He watches Jared pace, frowning to himself.

"It is close," Jacob agrees in a low voice. "What the hell are we gonna do if it comes here?"

"If what comes here?" I ask suddenly. Various pairs of eyes turn on me, while others stare straight ahead as if I haven't even spoken.

"There's something going on in Seattle," Paul tells me, refusing to look my way as he speaks. His jaw is tight, but the aggravation in his expression seems indirect.

"Murders," Collin adds.

"And there's enough problems out there already," Jacob continues. "What if it comes too close and we have to step in. Bella—"

From beside me, Leah's eyes narrow. Her voice comes out clipped, dripping with annoyance. "Forget about Bella. We've heard enough about the leech-lover. She'll probably have sprouted fangs by the time that problem comes any closer."

Leah's words inject another layer of tension in the air. Jacob's expression darkens, highlighting the stress that seems to weigh him down. Circles ring his eyes and his hair is more shaggy than I've ever seen. It's almost as if he's being crushed by his own worry.

"Leah," Sam mutters. "Enough of that."

"Fine," Leah spits. She meets Sam's even stare without a pause. "You all can worry all night about Bella, let Jake kill himself over her. I'm not going to waste my life over that pathetic—"

"You will," Sam insists. His voice is low, powerful, although the authority is strained by his own exhaustion.

"Will what?" Leah challenges. "Bow down and obey your command? Go ahead, Sam. Keep me in this pack and torture me every day."

Sam's brows pull together. Leah shakes her head at him, then the pack. She doesn't wait to be excused. Instead, she storms out of the house, making sure to slam the door behind her.

Sam rubs his hands over his face as the force rattles the house. Seth flinches and shifts his weight to his other foot. The rest of the pack doesn't seem bothered, far too used to it by now.

I grind my teeth. If this is really another Bella fretting gathering, I have no place here either. My gaze jumps from face to face, but no other wolf moves. We all stand in silence, staring at nothing.

Seth breathes out quietly, looking over at Jacob. "He . . . he could be right," Seth says hesitantly.

Embry nods to back him up. He clears his throat before speaking. "What if the problem does come closer? What if whoever it is threatens our people?"

All eyes move back to Sam. He presses himself back against the wall like a cornered animal. A heavy sigh is heaved from his lungs and his gaze moves to Jared. Too absorbed in his conversation, Jared heads into the kitchen to start another lap of pacing without any acknowledgment.

"What if this is connected to Bella?" Nicole smirks as she says the words, her icy gaze finding my own. "She's human. We have to protect her. And there have been so many leech problems lately, it could just be another one of those. If it is, we have a direct connection to find out what's going on."

I snort, holding Nicole's gaze. "I'm not a mailbox for Leech Land."

In the corner of my eye, I watch as Jacob casts a expectant look Nicole's way. Too focused on me, Nicole doesn't even notice. Instead, she whirls around to face Sam. "Sam, you're in charge. What do you say?"

Sam rakes a hand through his hair, his cheeks puffing out as he blows out a large breath. He frowns at the floor before he looks my way, his mouth moving slowly as he forms the words. "You could."

Nicole's approval practically glows. She flashes a content smile my way. "Well? What do you say?" Her tone is sweet and thick, making it clear that in her eyes, I don't have a choice.

The rest of the pack is still as they watch. Paul's the only one who moves, turning his head to stare directly at me, seeing and speaking as if I'm nothing but air. "She does the pack a favor. If she still cares about any of us, anyway."

My insides are churning and my veins blaze. I growl once, meeting each expectant stare with a glare as I turn back toward the door. "Don't expect me to take notes," I mutter as I pace over to the door. Three long strides and I'm out in the open, breathing in the cold once more, shaking my head as I hold myself together against the temper that burns inside.

"Just make sure you keep it casual, sis!" Nicole calls through the open door. I don't look back, but she keeps talking anyway, her voice projecting over the trees and ringing in my ears.

"Don't let them know how divided your loyalty really is. It makes us all look bad."