'You don't know that.' He said forcefully.
'Yes, I do.' I whispered, my fingers digging into his chest through his shirt. 'It's not– I don't– I can't do what I have to.' I eventually croaked.
'So don't do it then.' I shook my head.
'I have to!' I cried, trembling again.
'Why? Because someone's making you?' He asked, a hint of anger in his tone.
'No! Not someone, something.'
'What difference does it make?'
'Because I can't fight it, Jake! I don't have a choice!' I exclaimed.
'There's always a choice.'
'Not with this.' I said quietly, my voice breaking. I couldn't look at him anymore; not now, not with what I was about to say.
'I'm leaving.' I whispered, and I felt him stiffen against me.
'What?' He replied, his voice so shocked and bewildered that I choked out a sad whine in response. 'What do you mean you're leaving?' He asked, his tone fierce now. I just shook my head, my lips trembling.
'Thea, what do you mean you're leaving?' He repeated, forceful, though his voice had an edge of fear.
'You know what I mean, Jake.' I said softly, reluctantly bringing my eyes to his; just in time to see something break inside of him.
Oh god, what had I done? His face; for a second, it held nothing but pure horror and devastation. Then there was the panic, and the hurt; that was even worse to see. And last of all, there was the shock; shock because he just could not believe what I'd told him; refused to believe it. And that refusal was growing, rising up to consume him, packing the single word that was his response.
'No.' His hands on me were tightening, his gaze searing as he shook his head almost violently. 'No.' His eyes were pained as they looked down at me, his body pressing mine more firmly into the wall.
'You can't leave.' He said, the hand on my cheek trembling as his thumb drew a soft circle. 'Thea, please.' He sounded broken; so completely and utterly broken. It felt like I was breaking him to see him like to that, to feel it through the bond. And to think I had done that; I had hurt him.
'Don't go, Thea. Please don't go.' I couldn't seem to look away from him, his sad brown eyes devastating. 'You have to stay. Please, please stay.' He was pleading now, and it was killing me.
'No, Thea, don't leave. Stay. Stay with me, please.' Didn't he understand how much I wanted to? It was taking all I had not to fall apart right that second, taking all I had to keep my tears back; because doing this was tearing me apart.
'I have to go, Jake–'
'No.' He said, clutching at me as if his life depended on it. 'Thea, I can't let you go.' He whispered, and then he was moving, his hot lips crashing down upon mine.
The kiss was fierce, fierce with his need; as if maybe kissing me would convince me to stay. As if maybe, if he kissed me hard enough and for long enough, I'd forget that I wanted to leave in the first place.
I wished it would. I wished I could just forget everything, and lose myself in the taste and feel of his lips moving against mine; but I couldn't. But that didn't stop me from kissing him back just as passionately, and with just as much urgency, because I didn't want to leave. I wanted to stay, I wanted so badly to stay, but it was impossible.
So because this would probably be the last time I ever kissed him, I pulled him closer, grabbing his neck and his hair and deepening the kiss. He groaned, pushing me harder into the wall, if that was even possible, and I gasped at how good it felt to be surrounded by him and only him. But as wonderful and consuming the kiss was, it couldn't last forever; too soon we broke apart, both breathing heavily as he continued to press against me.
'Stay.' He breathed, his face still just inches away from mine. I gave him a miserable look, unable to repress a sob.
'I want to, Jake. But I don't have a choice.' I whispered.
'Why?' He asked, sounding as if he was being tortured.
'Because if I stay, I'll die.'
For a moment, he simply stared at me. His complete and utter shock had taken over, and he didn't even seem to realise he was moving backwards, his mouth parted as he stared.
'What?' He eventually managed to choke out, sounding strangled. He looked horrified, devastated; as if someone had just kicked him in the stomach.
'I'll die if I don't leave.' I repeated, and now he was shaking his head, shaking it furiously as he looked at me.
'No.' He snarled, suddenly storming forwards and pulling me so tightly into his arms that I thought he might crush me without meaning to.
'No, I won't that let that happen.' He said, so strongly that it left no room for argument. I could feel his hand in my hair as he pressed my face into his chest, and any other time it would have been wonderful to hug him like this; but not today.
'I'll keep you safe. I won't let anyone hurt you.' He said, and I could feel that he was still shaking his head in refusal. But he didn't understand, didn't know what I did, and I had to force myself to speak.
'You didn't hear what I said before, did you?' I mumbled against his chest, and he tensed slightly at how sad I sounded. He released me slightly, once again backing me against the house so that he could look down at me.
'You telling me you're leaving wiped everything else you said from my mind.' He said, his voice hard.
'You can't fight this.' I said softly.
'The hell I can't.'
A loud and piercing howl suddenly sliced through the air, cutting me off and making us both freeze in position. Jake's head had whipped to look in the direction it had come from; the Pack was calling him. I didn't know how I knew that, but his indecision as he turned to look back at me confirmed it. He was staring now, analysing me; looking for something in my face. He didn't seem to notice that he was shaking slightly as he stared, but after half a minute, he suddenly stopped and sighed, his strong hold on me releasing slightly.
'Thea.' His gaze was searing as it met mine. 'The pack needs me; I have to go and find out why. But I need you to wait for me.'
'10 minutes; that's all I need. Please.' He asked, his tone almost begging. He was begging, because he didn't think I would; because he didn't seem to realise that while I was breaking him, I was also breaking myself. He didn't know that I was telling him all this because I couldn't stand to leave him with nothing; leave with him without explaining. And he still didn't understand, so of course I would stay; I would stay until he did. I owed him that.
'Okay.' I said softly with a nod, but he still didn't move. The look he was giving me said he didn't know he should believe me; he didn't quite believe I was going to wait for him. And that hurt; hurt more than it should, even though I knew why.
'I'll be here, Jake. I promise.' I continued, and he let out a deep breath, leaning his forehead against mine.
'Thank you.' He breathed. And with one last searching look, he was off, disappearing into the trees at a run. I watched him go; watched him so intently that at first I didn't realise that without him to hold me up, I was sliding down the house. But I let myself fall; let myself keep sliding until I hit the ground so that I was sitting against the house.
I would sit, and I would wait.
Even though part of me thought that maybe I should leave now, because seeing and hurting him again was too hard, I would wait. I had promised him I would wait, and so I would.
But I had forgotten about the one thing – the only thing – that could make me break that promise.
Because after barely a minute had passed – a minute of staring at the trees as I waited – I felt it; the sharp, piercing pain of something stabbing me in the stomach.