Jake's POV

One sigh. One blink. And then, finally, she was drifting.

I should have been relieved; I should have been glad that she was finally unconscious, no longer trapped in her agony. But her being unconscious meant the bond between us was that much weaker now, and that to me would never, ever be a good thing. The closeness of the imprint just moments earlier was fading in a rush; I couldn't keep her close, not when she was sleeping. And she was only sleeping; sleeping right there in front of me, her soft breaths blowing on my fingers. Yet I couldn't shake the feeling that in letting her sleep, I had just made a huge mistake.

I couldn't shake the terrible feeling that I was going to lose her.

It wouldn't go away, no matter how much I tried to reassure myself. It didn't matter that I could see her eyelids flickering, her chest rising and falling as she inhaled and exhaled; I could feel that death was hovering in the air. I could see it in her, see it in the blood that coated every inch of her, and was somehow all over me as well.

But she could not die. I would not let her die; not while I was watching her. Not while I was staring at her, almost unblinkingly, trying to figure out whether I was relieved or terrified, before settling on a strange and heart wrenching mix of the two. It was a mix that only enhanced the sudden exhaustion that had fallen upon me; exhaustion because the same drug that had forced Thea into sleep was pressing down upon me as well. It was an exhaustion I had been subconsciously fighting against, completely forgotten in my need to talk to Thea. But now, it was creeping back. Now, sleep was being forced upon me.

Except I did not want to sleep. I would not sleep. I could not sleep; not with her words spinning around in my head.

The venom won't kill me.

I didn't know what to think. I didn't know if she was being optimistic, and had just told me that just to try and calm me – it was the type of thing she would do – or if she genuinely knew it wouldn't kill her. But the only way for the latter to be true would be if she had been poisoned by it before…

'She has.' I flinched at the sudden voice, twisting in my chair – when had I gotten back over here? – to once again find Edward at my shoulder.

'What?' I asked hoarsely.

'She has had vampire venom in her system before.' I froze, the words refusing to sink in.

'You got that from her mind?' I eventually asked, my gaze once again returning to Thea.

'Sort of. Her mind is hard to read at the moment…' He trailed off, apparently unwilling to finish his sentence; probably worried that it would set me off again. As if I had the energy for that; I was barely managing to keep my head off the table.

'…Because she's dying.' I replied softly, and I saw Carlisle pause for a moment in his work to glance sadly over at me.


'I know she is, Carlisle. I can feel it; with every second she slips further away.' I murmured distractedly, my fingers once again trailing over her cheek; it seemed almost cruel that she could be so close, and yet so far away. Distantly, I heard someone mutter something too quiet for me to hear; I didn't have the strength to even be curious about what was said. Not until a far louder, but still soft voice, rang through the room.

'If she dies, will you die too?' I flinched at the words, freezing. Yet another unwelcome vision of Thea's dead body floated before my eyes, making me tense. And then, without thinking, I was replying.


It said something about the power of imprinting that until Carlisle asked me the question, the thought hadn't even occurred to me.

It hadn't occurred to me to wonder what would happen to me if Thea ever died. Probably because I was so absolutely determined to never find out; determined not to even think about the possibility. And then, when she really had been dying, I'd been too busy panicking and worrying about her to even contemplate thinking about me. That was how the imprint the worked; she came first. But now that there was nothing for me to do but watch, watch and wait, the idea was stuck in my head.

If Thea died, would I die too?

It wasn't a question, not anymore. I hadn't even had to think about it before answering Carlisle with an unflinching 'yes'.

If Thea died, I would die too.

I knew it; I could feel it. I could feel it in the imprint, in how deep and strong it was; too strong to ever break. So strong that I didn't just feel her hurt, but received the injury myself. So strong that I could talk to her in my mind. So strong that it would pull both into us into death rather than snap. And this wasn't just speculation; Thea and I had both felt it the day she had tried to leave. We had felt the pain, the crippling pain because the bond would not stretch, and could not break. And I knew this would be the same. I knew because even as she faded, I could feel myself fading to.

If she died, so would I.

Time passed; I didn't know how much. And, really, I didn't care. Seconds, hours, minutes; they didn't mean anything anymore.

There was only Thea. That was what my world was measured by now; by her. By her breaths, by her waning and waxing heartbeat. They were the only thing that mattered.

At some point, some tried to patch me up. The slow but steady stream of blood down my chest was stopped by gauze, gauze I didn't even notice I was throwing away. I remembered someone protesting, arguing that I had a hole punched through my chest, and that they needed to do something about it. But I just very bluntly told them that there was no point; no point in healing me, because unless they saved Thea, I would be dying regardless of any wounds I did or did not have.

After that, there was silence. A long silence, a silence that felt like an eternity. An eternity of waiting to find out if Thea, if I, would live or die.

Thea's POV

One rip. One slash. Leon's claws were raking across my belly, tearing through the already bruised skin like butter. But his nails weren't just ripping through my skin; it felt like he was ripping my very stomach from my body, slashing through the flesh with sickening ease as my torturous scream rang out. And I would have screamed again, and again and again, because this pain more than merited it, except I was gone.

Breathing. Breathing was hard, so hard. It was taking every drop of energy in my battered body just to suck in air, and even that was beginning to fail. And then there was my heart; my stuttering, clenching, agonised heart. If it hadn't already reached its limit, it was about too; and I almost looked forward to it.

I would be glad for this to end. I would be glad for my heart to stop, for me to die, if it meant it would all stop. No more being slammed into the ground. No more claws slicing through my skin. No my teeth sinking into my body.

No more Leon trying to kill me.

It was just as he had so smugly said; one more strike was all I had needed. One strike that wasn't like the others; the others had been inflicted to hurt, not to kill, but not this one. This one would be – was – fatal. This one would end it. This one… this one…

This one was burning. It was burning. My stomach was on fire.

And it hurt. It hurt it hurt it hurt. Despite the fact that I was barely breathing, a painful whimper somehow escaped my lips, a shudder running through my body. It felt as if my very body had been set alight, my stomach ablaze. It was burning, burning fire, licking across my skin, searing through my veins. My hands were clawing at my belly now, pressing painfully into the savaged skin; I didn't care if it hurt, I had to stop the flames.

Except there were no flames. My fingers and palms were slick with blood, clutching at my stomach, but there was not even a hint of heat. There was no roaring fire, not even a tiny flame; there was only my wet, bleeding body.

No. No, that couldn't be right. I was burning; I could feel it. I forced my eyes open, sure that if only I could glance down at my stomach, I would see the inferno that was burning me alive. And yet, there was nothing. There was nothing but my hands, pressing against my torn open abdomen, now covered with fresh red blood… and silver.

I blinked, sure I was imagining it, sure that hallucinations had finally claimed me, but it didn't disappear. Mixed into the blood that was streaked across my hands was a shining silver liquid; the same silver that I saw laced the deep slashes across my stomach. My burning stomach…

'That should be starting to hurt about now.' Leon suddenly remarked, his voice strangely cheerful. I flinched at his voice, but didn't look at him; I didn't have the strength or the will to see his smug expression. Even as I stared at the silver, black spots were appearing in my vision, my head swimming from the effort of keeping my eyes open; an effort that failed as another pained shiver ran through me.

'It's vampire venom, in case you're wondering.' He continued matter-of-factly. I almost missed the words as agony suddenly flared up within me, biting back a scream. The fire was everywhere now, not just in my stomach; it was in my very veins.

No. No, it was too much. I couldn't take it.

'I've heard it's agonising; rumour has it there isn't anything else quite so painful.' I didn't doubt it. The venom felt like liquid flames, molten fire. It was searing through my blood, burning me from the inside. I couldn't even bring myself to care, to wonder, what it would do to me; all I wanted was for it to stop.

I wanted, needed, the agony to stop.

Another convulsion wracked my body, a pained cry escaping my lips.

Stop. Please, stop.

'Why?' I choked out, the word more a desperate plea than a question.

Stop. Make it stop.

He laughed then, and even through my closed eyelids I knew he was grinning.

'You didn't think I'd just let you die, did you?'

Jake's POV

It had been four days. Four long, hellish, seemingly never-ending days.

And Thea still wasn't awake.

Fortunately, I had spent the first day and a half dead to the world, dead to her. I hadn't dreamed, hadn't been haunted at all by my memories, sleeping too deeply to think about anything. I envied myself that now. I envied the fact that for a short while, I had been peaceful. It was peace I hadn't appreciated nearly enough; not even when it had inevitably started to end.

Waking up had never been so hard before, or so confusing. I hadn't understood at the time why I was so damn groggy, why I had had to practically claw my way back to alertness. But now, I knew better. Now, I wished I had stayed asleep.

Because being awake was a living hell.

All I could think about, all I could see in my mind, for every second of every day, was her. Which I wouldn't have minded, if not for the fact that every image of her in my brain felt like I was being stabbed through the heart. It was actual torture, real and physical pain. With every breath I took it was hitting me again and again, as new horrifying memories paraded through my mind.

Thea dead. Thea dying.

Thea with the sword plunged into her chest.

Thea bleeding. Thea screaming.

Thea with the sword plunged into her chest.

Dead. Dying. Bleeding. Screaming.

Dead. Dying. Bleeding. Screaming.

Dead. Dying. Bleeding. Screaming.


No. No no no.

It wasn't real. It wasn't real it wasn't real it wasn't real. She was here, right here. She was right in front of me, right in my very arms. But it didn't matter though, none of it did.

She was still gone.

Doc said it was okay. He said that it was expected given how much of the drug they had given her, and considering the drug was supposed to induce a deep sleep. Words that should have been reassuring, but instead were the opposite.

Because once again I was remembering the fact that the dose they'd given her was lethal.

Lethal. Fatal. Deadly.

They had given her something that could kill her. It didn't matter that Carlisle had repeatedly told me the odds of her dying from the drug were infinitesimal. It didn't matter that she had asked for it, asked for the medicine that could take her life. I didn't want anything that could hurt Thea, let alone kill her, anywhere near her.

But it was too late.

Because it wasn't the drug, the thio-whatever, that was driving me insane with worry. No, it was the vampire venom that had me in a near-constant panic.

What would it do to her?

That was the question that kept me up at night, that swarmed my brain on a never-ending basis.

What would it do to her?

Supposedly, it wouldn't kill her; a fact I hoped was true with every fibre of my being. And it also, supposedly, wouldn't turn her either; something else I desperately hoped was true. But knowing this, hoping for this, only made the question that haunted my mind even more infuriating.

What would it do to her? What was left, what else could happen? I refused to believe it would do nothing; it didn't seem possible that such an important and deadly substance could have no effect whatsoever. No, there had to be something. But what?

What would it do to her?

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