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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.

54. Ten Ways Backwards

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"I can barely swim
And the current's coming in
And the current's coming in again."
- Imagine Dragons.

Chapter Fifty Four

Ten Ways Backwards

There are many things that might go through any sane mind when faced with the presence of a bullet. Maybe the bullet could actually kill me. Maybe it would only leave a bloody mess. Either way, I don't consider any consequences during those few seconds of tension. Only one word forms in my mind with a vicious realization.


The girl's features purely show Quileute blood, but that's meaningless. She trembles, her breath quivering, her voice trapped in her throat. Her dark eyes shine with fear as she closes one eye and lifts the rifle, the tip bouncing slightly as her finger fumbles to find the trigger.

I launch myself forward without a heartbeat's hesitation. The girl gasps and ducks, taking the impact of my charge in her shoulder. She collapses instantly, sprawled against the wall. She blinks rapidly in shock, her arms wrapped tightly around her stomach. Her mouth opens, but no sound comes out. I snarl a fierce warning, about to advance when a sudden movement catches my eye.

A hulking figure sprints out from the doorway, nearly blasting the door clean off its hinges. The man skids to a stop on the porch, his gaze connecting with my own before he whips his head to the side. The second he takes in the sight of her, his heartbeat pauses, his breath hitching. His dark eyes snap over to mine again and he lets out a roaring shout, the words lost as his body twists and bows, ripping apart as he explodes.

His heavy paws land on the porch. The grey wolf shakes out his coat as he settles into his form before coming at me in a charge of bared teeth and enraged snarls, not bothering to think about tactic as he forces himself between the girl and me. I catch his shoulder in my jaws before he hits, twisting as he collides with me. We topple down the stairs together, landing hard in the wet grass.

The grapple doesn't last long. Paul hits the ground on his stomach, and I'm there before he can react. I get him by the throat, closing my jaws around his broad neck and leaning my weight forward to pin him there. My mind sings with the need to defend myself, blazing hot and real. Paul throws his shoulder at me, his muffled growls growing weaker and weaker as my teeth cut deeper into his skin, my own snarls muffled by the mouthful of fur. This continues on for a good few minutes until finally, Paul's struggles come to an end. I release his neck with a huff and slam my weight into his side. He rolls over in the grass, laying still for a moment before shrinking into his human form in the blink of an eye.

I remain silent as Paul groans, not bothering to shield his exposed body. Instead, he places a hand on his rib cage, his chest rising and falling rapidly with each breath. He pats the red healing lines on his throat before pressing his hand into his side. Paul winces, whistling.

"Hurts like a bitch," he grumbles.

As the heat of the moment ebbs away, I rumble low in my throat. Paul shoots a questioning look my way but doesn't comment. His head snaps up just as a shrill cry fills the air. I snap my gaze over to the porch. The girl stands on wobbly legs, a hand clamped over her mouth as she gapes, stricken with horror.

"Oh my God! I— Oh my God! Paul!"

"Shit." Paul glances from the girl to me with a grimace. His eyes dart to the forest before meeting mine for a split second. He strains his neck to look up on the porch with a grimace, returning his attention the frantic girl.

Go. I hear the words in his eyes. Not an order, just a question. I shake my head with a huff, jogging into the humid forest. I'll wait, but I won't go. As I disappear into the trees, I cast a final glance over my shoulder. Paul, dragging himself up by his elbows while the girl rushes toward him, angles his head slightly to find my gaze and nod.

I wait in the light drizzle. Pacing keeps me focused. I pad back and forth in the shadows, just inside the treeline. My mind is mine alone as the rest of the pack remains silent. I don't feel time pass—one moment, I'm pacing by myself in the trees, nearing the warm light of the house, and the next I'm coming to a stop as I sense movement.

The sliding door slips open as Paul shoulders out into the backyard, a shadow against the dull light. He holds clothing in his hands again, though he's barefoot and wearing only pajama pants. He steps into the yard slowly, his eyes searching.

Once Paul comes to a halt at the edge, I make my presence known. I approach him with a huff, stepping up to stand in front of him, my head tilted down. He almost smiles as he sees me, dropping the clothes at my feet before taking a step back.

"I'll be inside if you wanna talk."

Paul turns back around, jogging toward the door. I watch him with narrowed eyes before falling into my human form and pulling on the loose shirt and small shorts. I call out after him before he reaches the house.

"So that's it, then? No shouting match or tearing down the forest?"

Paul slows. He glances over his shoulder with a smirk playing on his lips. "You've already met the girl here, haven't you?"

"If you're talking about the one shrieking on the porch, then I guess I've had the honor," I say evenly. Something is different about Paul, although I can't figure out what the hell it is.

With a laugh, Paul turns to face me. He shrugs calmly, shoving his hands in his pockets. "Her name is Rachel. She's. . . well, she's my girl."

I hold Paul's gaze. There isn't anything that says 'I'm kidding' in his tone—even his eyes show seriousness, though they're brightened with a sort of relaxed, easy light. I remember his face when he came to see me the first time to apologize—the way his expression has been so at ease, even through the tension as he handed me that bagel just a few days ago. I can see the reason in it now—the forfeiting in his actions.

As the pieces come together, I don't speak. I pop my knuckles, letting out a short breath and shifting my stance over the brittle ground beneath me. Paul grins, pulling a hand free to rub the back of his neck.

"Rachel is Jake's sister. I ran into her on Third Beach the other day. I guess she kinda found me there, but it was all accident, ya know? It just happened out of nowhere. . . it's okay with Billy, but Jake's a little riled up about the whole imprinting thing." Paul snorts. "Not like he has room to talk."

As he finishes talking, Paul drops his gaze to the ground, his expression becoming clouded with uncertainty. "You're not all riled up about it though. Right?"

I shake my head slowly. The trees around me are swaying, just like the balance of my control. "Not at all."

Paul looks at me oddly, though he continues on without questioning. "So beta female, huh? Not bad." Paul smirks, getting a smug look on his face. "Even though King Paul has a better ring to it."

I snort, muttering under my breath, "More like pack piss on."

"What?" Paul glowers, disbelieving. "You're kidding. You got beta. Be proud of it."

I have to exhale and shift my stance to keep myself still. I hold Paul's stare with a burning insistence. "It's not like that. They put me in a position that almost has control, but it's no mystery what they're really doing." I work my jaw for a moment. "They don't think I've proved shit. I'll run the errands too simple for the rest and be out of the way otherwise. It's how it works, Paul."

Paul frowns at me, his lips parted slightly though they form no words. I look over his shoulder as a light turns on. The glass door slides open as the girl—Rachel—leans out.

"Are you out here?"

Paul smirks at me for a moment, his voice lowered to a whisper. "Can you cover for me in the morning? I'm gonna have a shitload of sucking up to do before I explain all this—"

Rachel calls out again, her voice raised shakily. "Paul?"

"Coming!" Paul mutters something to himself, shooting me a final hopeful look before he turns and jogs back toward the house.

"Why the hell not?" I speak to myself now as Paul jogs out of earshot. Without reason to stay, I turn back around and slip back into the forest without looking back.

I run through the thick walls of the heavy air, my lungs swollen with all the breath I drag in, trying to gather up as much as I can. I'm moving only on instinct, barely thinking about the steps of my feet or the silence of my body. I don't pause for a moment, not missing a single stride as I transition from wolf to human in the blink of an eye, slipping into my clothing in another.

My nostrils burn with a bittersweet bite as I near the tree line. Dim grey light spills through the spaces between the towering trees. A breeze flutters the leaves, arousing the stomach-churning stench of leech from the yard. I move closer anyway, inhaling slightly as I break through the space between two oaks.

I find him instantly. He's on the porch, leaning against the railing with his thumbs hooked in his jeans, dry and flawless as he stares at the very place I've come from. He grins broadly, jumping down and breezing toward me. My ears buzz as he speaks, blocking out his words though I feel him pick me up, spin me around, and kiss my lips.

Somehow I manage to say something to him. His golden gaze holds mine as he chuckles, setting my feet back down onto the soft earth. Through the woozy ring, I feel myself start to move as Emmett takes my hand and heads for the house, his head turned over his shoulder. His mouth moves, forming silent sounds.

There are others in the house. The smallest is on her feet, greeting the two of us with a chirpy enthusiasm. I fix my gaze on her as Emmett pauses. She flashes a venom-coated smile as she takes a step toward me, though the look on my face melts it right off.

The others gaze at Emmett, their stares searing. He speaks again, his voice muffled by the ringing. The honey-haired leech rises to his feet, collecting the small pixie into his side. Emmett winks before pulling us along again, guiding the two of us up the stairs.

My head pounds, beating against the outer edges of my skull. I numbly lift my legs, placing one foot on each stair as Emmett leads the climb upwards. The stairs stretch and grow, swallowing my feet as they come in contact. I'm tilted to the side, about to collapse, when finally, Emmett reaches the top and pulls me into his side.

He pauses after a moment, holding me to him as he studies my face. With the passing time, the pounding dulls to a quiet thrum and the piercing ring subsides. Once it clears, I offer Emmett a slight smile. He returns it with a bright expression, like a lightbulb lit in a midnight shadow.

"Why don't we clean you up?" Emmett suggests, as if there's any chance that I might resist.

I don't.

The water is hot, the air clean, and the space small. Our clothes are forgotten on the floor, crumpled in a small heap. Emmett treats me to the soap, washing a nice handful through my hair and over my skin, testing but not teasing. I study the droplets of water that cling to his marble skin, running down his naked body like tears. Emmett chuckles as my gaze wanders.

"You know, the rest of them have left. We have the place to ourselves."

"We do," I say, because for some reason, I'm forgetting how to breathe right.

Emmett smiles, closing his eyes and allowing me to lather soap around his neck and shoulders. His hair is raven black in contrast. Suds run down, chased out of his curls by the spray. I try hard to pay attention to his shoulders, but the feeling of his gaze on my face gets the better of me.

His eyes narrow as I glance at him. His irises are black with hunger all over again. A low purr starts in his throat as my hands freeze, my fingers clenching into his shoulders. The spray hisses above us as I slowly press him back against the wall, holding his gaze as I offer my kiss.

My advance leads to the mistake. As the heat hits, Emmett catches the back of my thighs, lifting my legs around him as he presses my back against the wall. He tilts his head to accept my offer, but before he does, he growls sharply.

The instant the sound reaches my ears, the world collapses around me. My pupils dilate, capturing every ounce of light possible as my vision is washed with red. My muscles bunch, releasing the fire in me, preparing my body for attack in a split second. I close my hands around Emmett's head, holding him away as I heave my weight forward in a sudden, violet movement.

With a crash, the shower door explodes, sending glass flying in every direction. My feet brace on the slippery surface beneath them as my hands press into the walls of the shower. As the glass settles, my gaze lowers to the body laying motionless on the floor.

I don't speak. My heart jumps into my throat, beating madly as I slowly step out of the shower, one leg at a time. My feet sting as glass pricks the surface, but I pay no mind. I stand over Emmett's crumpled form, my blood running cold.

Emmett's body lays flat on the floor, his neck twisted back at an awkward angle. The muscles around his throat twitch as they heal, though it's clear that it's going to be long and painful. As I stare, my hands ball into fists, nodding my head as the monster within me grabs at the last bit of my control. Emmett's dark eyes flicker in my direction, boring into me as I fall apart.


Somehow, my legs manage to hold my body upright. I lean against against the battered wall, busted wide open with angry grooves and the holes of balled fists. I'm sticky beneath the dry coat of soap and hot inside my pulsing veins. I'm alive, everywhere at once, yet suddenly certain that I'm dangerously close to death's outstretched hand.

There's nothing but a drumming noise inside my skull. The repetitive bum, bum; boom, crashing of a broken rhythm. My lungs ache, begging me to fill them up. But I'm so empty. Hollowness is no stranger to me, but this void of absence consistently swelling in my core can't be ignored.

Especially while he watches me.

The sharp yellow of his eyes have dulled, watered down and washed out with grief. He's just as trapped as I am—stuck between that small gap between life and nothingness. Right now, he is a stranger with a name tag taped to his gaze. I see Emmett in his irises, but this twisted, motionless man at my feet can't be him.

The longer he watches, the larger the emptiness grows until eventually, it starts to fill. It isn't solid space that moves into the emptiness. It's round after round of shuddering fury, rolling down from my skull and into my stomach. Emmett's chest starts to rise and fall with unnecessary breath, his eyes blinking infrequently though his lips are a gaping silence.

I can't see him there. Not even as his fingertips twitch and his palm rolls in my direction. Instead, I stare down at the torn and trampled ground below, holding the watery ice of my sister's steady stare as she trembles, stinking of fear. I clench my dry eyes shut, holding them closed as if it can erase the scene before me. When they open, I'm greeted again by the sight of the man at my feet, his throat nearly turned backwards even though his body lays flat.

His condition sends a jolt through me, but it disappears into the curling waves of fury again. I press my fingers into my palm, my nails cutting the skin and sticking in deep, holding me together. I'm on the verge of something, though whether it's collapsing or throwing up my guts, I don't know.

My right foot brings me back. I drop my gaze to the white floor, taking in the sight of my bare foot, trapped in the white hold of a hand. My eyes follow the trail of the muscular arm back to the owner's face. He raises his head as I look at him, the movement slow and careful. When I don't react, the man sits up, pausing for another moment before rising to his feet.

I assess the man's movements, but find no significance in them. I only grade his expression, taking notes on the side. He has enough sense to create a small distance and keep his hands lifted in front of himself. Even though he appears to be ready to protect himself, his countenance is hardened with focus. He pulls in a breath, and in its release, speaks a whisper.


Jordan. I might want to know who she is, but the sound of his voice is the only thing I process. He extends a hand toward me as I don't move, the tips of his fingers brushing the bare skin of my arm. The touch triggers the loaded barrel inside of me and I explode.

My knees disappear and I go down. The ground welcomes me with a crunch, throwing me forward, onto my stomach. I growl against the cool ground, pushing myself up onto my arms. I breathe loudly, huffing through my open mouth as the air gags me.

Something inside me has twisted. My stomach lurches again and a hand grabs at my flat stomach, failing to find a grip. A grinding, brittle spasm rocks my body. I claw at my skin, dying to tear out the problem from the source.

I don't have a voice. I gnash my teeth and stretch my free hand across the floor, though it only smears across the surface and hangs loosely at my side. The world tilts, teeters, then tumbles over itself, throwing me into a mad spiral. I hack out another breath and wheeze another one in. My lungs contract, crushed by the force pushing up and out of my body. I stare into scarlet, capturing another breath and holding it in until I pin frantic words.

"Get it out!" I demand heatedly, throwing out the order at the top of my lungs. "It's still in there!"

I roll again, smacked against the wall of my cage. I thrash in the bars, my stomach heaving as my eyes fail me. The world is slipping through my finger tips as my body scalds itself, erupting with a spiked fury that's tearing me apart and bleeding my dry. There's only one thing left to hang on to as I lean over the edge.


I still can't piece together who the hell this person is, but the voice—the voice is real. I repeat the sound in my ears, a sharp ring over the rolling thunder of my heartbeat. My shoulders jerk, racking my frame with shudders. I suck in another breath through the tiny space between my jaw. The air sparks life into my lungs and my eyes jump open.

The man is inches away. His hands are holding me by the elbows, shaking with the tremors that pass into him through contact. His cool breath, a sweet relief on my boiling temperature, irritates my skin and causes a flash of heat to strike my spine, hot to my blood even though I'm already sweating out my flames. I start to growl at him, my lip raising in warning, but the fall of his hopeful expression stops me. I roll my head back and give a low groan that's not human or animal, but trapped in the lost continuum between.

I disappear into a haze. Through it, spots of white appear, a flurry of sudden movement and an assault of desperate voices. A pair of golden stones find my gaze, blurred out through the foggy mist laying over me. They hold me in place as time passes, injecting a shot of ice into my skull. I want to reach out and grab the golden stones; to turn and crush them in my grip, but I'm weighed down by a sudden feeling of relief.

After an eternity, my shoulders droop and all movement ceases. I close my eyes, breathe in, and re-enter the world once more.

The first thing I notice is the sweat. My skin is cleaner now, though I've sweat out all the heat, producing a soapy scent. The next thing I find is the golden stones—the narrowed eyes of Jasper as he locks eyes with me. Behind him stands Carlisle, riddled with worry. I'm pressed against something cold and hard, my naked body shielded by its smooth surface. I don't allow my gaze to be distracted, but I do pick out the line of Emmett's nose near my face and slowly acknowledge the feel of his body against my own.

"That's enough," Emmett says lowly. His deep voice is hushed as he turns his head away from his brother. "Thanks, though. I really owe you one."

Jasper doesn't bother to linger. He nods curtly, exiting the room without a moment's hesitation. I immediately redirect my attention on Carlisle. He sighs as I pierce him with a silent warning, taking one step backward before he talks.

"Emmett, you do understand that this incident has shown clear symptoms of mental tra—"

Something stops him. I can't tell what it is, but I can only imagine the look on Emmett's face—a look that shuts the Doc himself up in a split second. Carlisle frowns, but smiles in respect as he slips out of the bathroom, leaving us alone.

Silence follows. We stay together, crouched on the cold tile of the bathroom floor. Seconds, minutes, or maybe even hours passed, counted only by the sound of our slow breathing. After a while, Emmett stands in one fluid movement, gently pulling me up with him.

Emmett holds me up, guiding the two of us through the doorway and into his bedroom. I don't struggle, allowing him to lead me to the far end of the bed and lowers me gently, moving my body into place. He smiles slightly, though it barely passes through the layer of worry.

Darting across the room in a split second, Emmett slides in on the opposite side, a cold presence felt on my back. He stretches out above the covers, casually crossing his arms behind his head. The arm closest to me hangs loosely, offering space for me to slip in. Some part of me is dying to turn over, wrap around him, and escape into unconsciousness. The other tells me I'm a dumbass for even considering it.

I lay on the very edge of the bed, leaving only a centimeter of space between me and a free-fall toward the floor. My hair drenches the pillow, creating a warm, wet spot for my head to lay. I keep my arms to myself, one trapped beneath my ribcage, the other slung over the bedside. I've clamped one hand on the frame of the bed, exerting as much pressure as I can without causing damage, channeling every dark, bloody thought from my skull and into my grip.

As we lay tense in the darkness, Emmett begins to talk. My eyes are trained on the clear glass of the window, staring into the silhouettes of the towering trees beyond. Emmett doesn't seem to require my full attention—he speaks in a low tone, his words coming smoothly as if he isn't bothering to think before moving his lips.

"Everything's real crazy right now. I mean, my family's in a panic because of the army that's supposed to be building in Seattle, and we might have to intervene soon. I don't get why there's a wait, though—it's not like we have anything better to do during the day. 'Sides, I'd ditch class to kick ass anyday.

"I know it's crazy for you too. Your whole pack's fucked up and it's starting to drive you into the deep end. I mean, you gotta be feeling that something's coming and that's stressful enough. Then we have to try to stay together 'cause it won't happen naturally. I don't think you mind fighting for this, and I don't either. But I'd want it to be easier you, and the both of us. So I can make you better."

Emmett pauses for a long moment. I don't move my gaze, even though I've taken in every word, and understand every bit, I can't find my voice. Emmett tips his head back, leaning it against the headboard as he continues talking without the slightest bit of hurt.

"We will marry someday. I'll call you Mrs. McCarty, because you won't be a Cullen, and I won't force you to be. You'll be just mine, and you won't have to share me, either. It'll just be the two of us and all the craziness, but I'll make it so we can still be happy with the wild shit that happens. Well, unless you wanna adopt kids. . . yeah, I didn't think you did. That's all cool with me, though. I don't think I'd be up for the whole parenting deal either."

Emmett trails off. With it comes a silence broken only by the light drumming of his fingertips. His words hang in the air between us, unsettled, until finally, he finishes his one-sided conversation with a short laugh.

"It's gonna be worth it all someday, and that's good enough for me."