'I'm deciding how I want to die.' I couldn't have sounded more broken if I'd tried. All of Jake's air whooshed from his lungs in a surprised huff, his shocked expression also a mixture of concern and fear. He said nothing as he stared at me, and I couldn't blame him; what was there to say, really? But then he was suddenly moving forwards, moving so fast that I couldn't follow his movements; though that might have been my mental imbalance, more than his speed. Regardless, in just seconds he was by my side, his arm brushing mine as he sat. His hand lightly took hold of my chin, stopping me from turning away.
'No.' He said quietly but firmly, shaking his head as one of his large hands dusted over my cheeks to wipe away my tears. 'You're not going to die.' Now it was my turn to shake my head. I opened my mouth to correct him, but closed it at Jake's fierce gaze.
'Thea, you are not going to die.' He repeated, and I gave him a sad look.
'Yes, I am.' I whispered, and until I heard the slight shakiness in my voice, I hadn't realised I was trembling. Instinctively, I found myself leaning into Jake, my head falling to rest on his shoulder as I lowered my gaze. My eyes fell on the dagger in my left hand, my fingers tightening around the carved wooden hilt; though just a second later they were overlapped by Jake's own.
'You're not going to stab yourself with that, are you?' He asked softly, his warm fingers slipping between my own so that now we were both holding the dagger. 'You know I would stop you if you tried.' He murmured, turning the dagger over in our hands.
'I know.' I replied quietly.
'Then why won't you believe me when I say I won't let anything happen to you?' Jake asked. I stiffened at the question, raising my eyes to meet his confused and slightly hurt gaze.
'I don't doubt you, Jake.' I said after a pause. 'But you don't know what I do.' The hand that was overlapping mine tightened its hold at my sad words.
'Then tell me. Let me help you.' His voice was quiet but strong, his eyes smouldering as he stared down at me. I breathed out softly, biting my lip. I wanted to tell him, I needed to tell him; but I didn't know how.
'I don't know where to start.' I eventually said.
'From the beginning?' He suggested. I shook my head.
'I don't know where the beginning is.' I breathed, confusion lacing my words.
'With this, then.' He said, raising the dagger to indicate what he was talking about. 'This is the same knife you attacked me with the other night?'
'Yes.' I said in a small voice.
'Do you always have it with you?' I nodded against his shoulder. 'Why?' He asked.
'Because it's not just any knife.' I felt Jake straighten with curiosity at that.
'Why? Did someone give it to you?' I was silent for a second before answering, my voice quiet but hard.
'In a way. It depends if you count someone stabbing me with it as giving.' He froze at my words, letting out a somewhat strangled growl.
'Someone stabbed you with it?' Jake asked, shock and reluctance making his voice so quiet I could barely hear it.
'Yes.' I said softly. 'And he did so more than once.'
I rolled onto my side as I let out a quiet scream of pain, pulling my hands away from my bleeding shoulder. My palms and fingers were red with blood; my blood. The very thought made me cry out, because this couldn't be happening, it just couldn't be happening, how could I not have seen this–
My scream when his foot connected with my injured shoulder made my previous cry sound like a whisper. I hadn't thought my collarbone could hurt any worse, but I had been so wrong. Because now the pain was searing, burning, my whole left arm numb from the pain, pain making my eyes fill with tears. But I had to blink them away, and blink them away fast, because a shadow had just loomed over me, and I needed to move–
I tried to roll, but I moved barely an inch before his foot came down hard on my stomach, breaking at least one rib in the process. This time my scream was more of a strangled cry, because it hurt. It hurt too much, way too much, and it took me a second to realise he was talking again. I forced my brain into gear, fighting through the agony so that his uninterpretable mumbles became words; and immediately regretted it.
'You know, I've changed my mind; I am going to tell you why I killed your aunt.' He said far too cheerfully, leaning against a nearby tree to stare me with malice. 'But where to start? I needed to kill someone; to make it impossible for you to head back into Quileute land without dying, you see. Which, as you may have noticed, doubles in allowing me to hurt you without suffering for it myself.' I let out a choked sob at that, trying to curl in on myself to ease the pain; which was bad idea, because it only made my broken rib jab sharply into my lung, causing me to cry out quietly. Leon only grinned, continuing to talk.
'And then I needed to weaken and distract you so I could get you out here; what better way to kill the person you're closest too?' He said matter-of-factly, and I felt fresh tears began to flow down my cheeks. Oh god, I shouldn't have started listening. When I had screamed the question at him, I hadn't really wanted an answer. But now that I could hear the words, I couldn't seem to tune him out again; not even when I forced myself to roll away from him, groaning at the agony that ripped through me.
'What else? I now I have justification for killing you.' He continued. 'And I suppose watching your pain at her death was just a bonus.'
A bonus. Watching me lose one of the people I loved most was a bonus. Just in case I didn't already hate him, that line would have made me do so. I couldn't comprehend the words; couldn't understand how he could be so unbelievably cruel.
I needed to stop listening; I needed to stop because I didn't want to hear what he was saying; didn't want to hear the horrible words. I didn't want to hear him savour my pain; hear him talk about murdering my aunt Cass as nothing but a means to an end. But at least while he was talking, he wasn't trying to kill me; and so I blocked him out, blocked it all out, and just tried to breathe. I tried to breathe through the pain, through the rib that I could feel that was so, so broken and digging into me. But I had to breathe, had to breathe so I could get myself out of this; if not in one piece, than at least alive.
But even as I thought the words, he had finished speaking. I could sense him coming up behind me; I could imagine his sadistic anticipation.
I had run out of time.
Because now he was pulling me upwards, his arm jerking me from the ground by the waist. His horrifying laugh was the only warning I got before the knife was coming down again, driving deep into the right side of my back. I didn't even have the air to scream; I could only gasp, soundlessly crying out from the agony. His arm was the only thing keeping me up, my legs having no hope at all of taking my weight; I was all but limp in his hold.
Except now he was pulling the knife out with a sickening slowness, the slick sound making my stomach heave. I could feel blood soaking into my back, warm and sticky, and the horribleness of it almost gave me enough to strength to move again. But then he was driving the dagger into me for the third time, plunging it into my back again, but lower this time. I felt it scrape against a rib, and I shuddered at the agony.
It was too much. It was all too much. My vision was nought but a dark blur, his evil laugh dull and distant in my ears. Every part of me ached, my lungs burning, my torso alive with three searing points of pain from the accursed dagger.
And it was just as my three stab wounds became four, my right side suddenly flaring to life with agony, that my body finally gave up. Even though I was screaming at myself to stay awake, stay awake, stay awake, because I knew that if I didn't, I probably wouldn't get the change to be awake again, I couldn't do it.
It was just too much.
I wouldn't have gotten anywhere without Jake. Focusing on him, his hand wrapped around mine, was probably the only thing keeping me together. But with the imprint all but gone – my control all but gone – there was only so much he could do. He couldn't keep me from slipping away; sometimes to stare at his hand, or the wall, and other times to stare at nothing as I remembered. Yet though he couldn't quite keep me all there and in one piece, he did keep bringing me back and pulling me together.
And so, with his careful words and touch, I had begun to talk; talk about him.
Leon. Murderer. Betrayer.
'There were four wolves in the old pack.' I said. Jake gave me a confused look.
'I thought there were only three?' He asked, his eyebrows crinkling in bewilderment. 'All of the legends and stories mention three.' I shook my head.
'There were four. But one was erased from all the records.' Jake blinked in surprise at that, and hesitated before speaking again.
'Why?' He eventually asked, his tone wary; I gave him a sad look.
'He did things that were unforgivable; and he was exiled because of it.'
That had been the beginning. From there, I honestly wasn't sure where the conversation went; my roiling emotions, frequent memory flashes, and complete lack of control meant that it was hard to keep track. I was sure I talked about some things twice, and others not at all, which should have worried me; Jake needed to know everything if he was going to make sense of it. But it was so, so hard to worry when I couldn't stay on the same train of thought for more than few minutes. At one point I was sure I murmured that I'd forgotten to tell him something; but whatever it was, it remained forgotten.