Just as I'd told Jake, it took the rest of the day for me to start processing and understanding everything that had happened. It was difficult; I had so many memories jumbled up and out of order, and I didn't really want to think about half of them. I forced myself to do it though, forced myself to remember; because until I did, I wouldn't be able to get over this. Of course, I couldn't help but wonder if I would ever get over this. After being hurt so many times, after so many years of fearing Leon's return… I didn't know if I could ever really feel safe again. Despite the promises Jake had made me, I just didn't know I could believe that Leon wasn't… going to…
'Oh my god.' My words were quiet but shocked, and Jake immediately responded, jerking right of his thoughts to give me a worried look.
'Thea? What is it?' It took me a moment to find the words to reply, my mind reeling from what I'd just discovered.
I didn't know what had happened to Leon.
I had been all but unconscious the moment he'd plunged the sword into my chest; I had no clue what had happened after that. After that, there was only pain. Pain, and Jake's soft voice, his warm arms, his fear through the imprint… but nothing else. Nothing about Leon. I didn't know what had happened to him. And when I'd woken up before, without my memories, I hadn't known to ask. Now, though; now, I needed to know. I needed to know, because I was already feeling the seed of panic blooming in my chest, only enhanced by how stunned I was that this hadn't occurred to me before now. How! How had I not thought this? This… this could change everything. Everything.
'You never told me what happened to him.' I eventually stammered, my voice flat with shock. Below me, I felt Jake's breaths hitch for a second, before he let out a sigh.
'He's dead, Thea.'
Dead. He was dead. Leon was dead.
Leon was dead.
Oh thank god.
A relieved whimper escaped my lips as the information sunk in. Leon was dead. He couldn't hurt me anymore. He couldn't kidnap me anymore. He wasn't going to try and kill me anymore. He was gone. For the first time in decades, I wouldn't have worry to about him. I wouldn't have to be scared anymore.
I was free.
Knowing that Leon was dead helped. A lot. Half of my problem with remembering everything was fear that it would happen again, but now… now, that wasn't a problem. But though I wasn't quite so terrified anymore, and was able to think much more clearly, that didn't make remembering the pain any easier. There were times when my memory of the pain was so strong, so clear, so real, that it was almost as if I'd been transported back to the cave again. And even though those moments never lasted long – Jake was always quick to bring me back – I began to dread them. They left me feeling so weak, so hurt, so lost; I felt as if I just wanted to crumple up into a ball to escape it. But again, Jake wouldn't allow that.
Jake. Jake was… everything. Anything I wanted or needed, he was there to give it to me. And when I didn't even know what I needed, he was there too; he was always there. He didn't leave – or if he did, I didn't notice – and that; that was probably the best thing he could have done. To just be there, to not leave me alone… that was what I needed. He was what I needed. Without him... god, I don't know how I would have survived. It would have taken me weeks, months even, to get even close to normal again. But with him… with Jake, it took only days. Just days for me to process everything, to accept it all, and to try and leave it all behind.
I had her back. I finally, finally, had her back. She wasn't dying. She hadn't forgotten everything. She wasn't being tortured. She wasn't gone.
She was mine again.
Mine. Mine mine mine. For a long time, that was all I could think about, all that mattered. She was mine. But as time passed, and Thea thought, trying to figure it all out, I started thinking too. The relief began to fade, allowing other emotions through. Or really, just one emotion.
At first, I couldn't figure out why I was angry. At first, I had thought that it was the same anger from before; anger that she had been taken, been hurt, by him. And while I was still mad about that, that wasn't what was consuming my thoughts now.
The anger I was feeling now was for Thea. Now that she was finally safe, now that I was no longer panicked and worried, I realised that I was mad at her. And I felt so incredibly guilty about it, not just because she was still injured and recovering from it all, but because of the reason I was angry.
I was angry at her for saving my life.
I shouldn't have been. It wasn't right to be mad at her for saving me, for risking her life. It wasn't right to be angry when the only reason she had been stabbed with the sword was because she had saved me. But even though I knew how wrong it was, I couldn't stop it, couldn't push the emotion down.
I was mad at her. I was mad at her because if she had just let me save her, she never would have been hurt like this. If she had stayed out of it, stayed safe, she wouldn't have been stabbed. And while I was angry at myself for the same thing, for not stopping her, it didn't change the fact that she had thrown herself into danger. She had thrown herself into danger for me; but she had refused to do it for herself.
That was another thing I was mad about; that she had refused to let Brady save her. I understood that she must have been scared, so unbelievably scared, but why hadn't she at least tried? She'd had no trouble risking everything for me, why she couldn't she have done it for herself? It didn't make sense. The reasons she'd given Brady didn't make sense either; they didn't explain why she had ordered him to abandon her. They didn't explain how desperately she'd wanted him to leave her. However, something Leon had said did; which led me to the third and final thing I was angry about.
That this wasn't the first, or even fifth time, he had hurt her. I had known that it had happened before; that he had hurt her before. But never had I imagined that it had happened eight times. Eight. I knew it had happened once, and I had guessed that it happened maybe one or two other times, but eight? It was incomprehensible. To think that he had kept her prisoner, tortured her, tried to kill her, eight times. Even the thought of it happening once was too much for me to bear, and knowing this… knowing this was driving me insane. Not just because of how god damn terrible it was, but because she hadn't told me. I had had no idea. No idea. She'd had this terrible and life threatening knowledge, but she'd kept it secret. She hadn't told me. She hadn't trusted me with it.
And that hurt. That made me angry, because I should have known. I should have known. And the moment I finally got her to talk, I was going to ask why. Why she hadn't told me. Why she hadn't saved herself. And why she had saved me.
'How do you feel?' Jake suddenly asked me, his quiet voice making me stiffen slightly in surprise. Shifting against him, I lifted my head so that I could meet his gaze with my own confused one.
'Didn't you just ask me that like, half an hour ago?'
'Yeah, I asked you about the memories. But I forgot to ask about your body… your chest.'
My chest. My still not healed, bandage wrapped chest. Now that he'd mentioned it, I couldn't help but glance down at it, an action made difficult by the fact that I was laid across him. Jake noticed, slowly sitting upright and pulling me with him, the movement so gentle I barely felt it. That was good; the wound the sword had made tended to explode with pain if I moved to fast. I remembered vividly the time I'd tried to get up off the bed the day after I'd woken up without my memories; I had almost passed out from the agony, because it felt like the sword was once again piercing my body. Other times though, if I was just lying still… well, I could almost forget it was there.
'Is it hurting?' Jake asked worriedly. I shook my head, both in answer to his question and to shake myself out of my recollection. Jake didn't look reassured though, one of his large hands moving to softly splay across the white linen wrapped around my torso. Apart from my bra, it was the only thing I was wearing on the upper half of my body. Until now, I hadn't really paid attention to how much skin that meant I was showing off; with my memories gone, I hadn't really cared. Now though, with only a few thin layers of bandage separating Jake's hand from my skin, I was hyper aware of how close we were; and it was a closeness I desperately, desperately needed.
Touch. His touch… it soothed me like nothing else could. You'd think, after everything Leon had done, that it would be the opposite; that I would flinch at even the simplest contact. Instead, I craved it. I needed Jake, needed him close and touching me and holding me. Perhaps it was the separation that had caused it; that after being apart far longer than we had before, I was overcompensating now. Or perhaps it was the fact that the imprint was finally back to normal, and I wanted the physical contact to match up with the mental. Whatever it was, I didn't mind; touching Jake was wonderful. And touching was something he definitely wasn't protesting.
In fact, he didn't seem to be able to stop. He refused to leave my side, and he wouldn't let me leave his either. There wasn't a moment when we weren't touching. Whether it was as simple as us lying side by side, or as intimate as him pulling me against him so every part of us was touching, there was always something. His arm around my waist. His hand holding mine. His fingers grazing my cheek. His lips moving against my own. They were my favourite, his kisses. So sweet and soft and tasting of forest and him. But as heavenly as they were, I wanted more.
More I couldn't have. More could only happen when we fully together; and we weren't. We weren't, because there was gaping canyon of information between us that I hadn't told him. And not just trivial information, but important things that he had to know. Things he was probably dying to know. Things he was about to know.
'Can I?' He requested softly, his fingers skimming the edge of the cloth binding my torso in a silent question. I nodded, knowing without explanation what he wanted; he had checked my wound so many times now he'd almost looked at it more than Carlisle had. I understood why; I felt his guilt every time he looked at it. Despite my many reassurances that it wasn't his fault, he just couldn't seem to forgive himself; which was part of the reason I'd decided that today, I had to tell him everything. Once he knew what I did, he wouldn't blame himself anymore; or at least, I hoped not. And then, finally, he would be mine. The hand peeling away my bandages and trailing across my skin wouldn't be as platonic as it was now. The man whose lap I was sitting on wouldn't just be any one thing – a friend, a carer, or lover – but everything. My everything.
If he wanted me.
I knew it was stupid to doubt it, when he showed such concern and care for me. I shouldn't be able to doubt, not with the promises he made or touches he'd given me; things that told me he wanted more too. But through the imprint, I could feel that he was hiding something. He was holding something back, and that… that worried me. That was the other reason I wanted him to know everything, and know now; so that neither of us would have anything to hide.
'It still hasn't healed.' Jake remarked sadly. I started slightly at the words, jerking myself out of my thoughts and back to reality. Glancing downwards, I saw Jake's fingers hovering above the long red scar stretching down from just below my breasts to my belly button. True to what he'd said, it hadn't changed since yesterday; or the day before that, or the day before that. And what Jake didn't know, but I did, was that it wasn't going to.
'It's not going to heal, Jake.' He stiffened at my words, his head whipping upwards so that his surprised gaze could meet my uncertain but determined one.
'It's not going to get any better. It's going to stay like this.' Jake's eyes flickered with a myriad of emotions as I spoke; too many for me to figure out what he was feeling. He said nothing; whether because he had nothing to say, or because he was waiting for me to speak, I didn't know.
'The venom. It stops it.' Jake flinched at the word 'venom', his gaze slightly pained as he spoke quietly.
'How do you know?' I grabbed his hand with my own, slowly moving it so that his fingers were lightly pressing against the four older scars across my lower stomach.
'Because these never healed either. They… they were poisoned with venom too.' Jake's eyes had dropped from mine to stare at the red lines he was now touching, so I couldn't see his reaction to my words. I could feel it though; feel his realisation, his sadness, his pain, and… his yearning. Yearning that could be for only one thing; an explanation. Lifting his gaze once more, his directed the entirety of his pleading stare onto me.
'Will you tell me?' He asked, as his other hand came up to cup my cheek. 'Please?' I nodded slightly.
'Yes. But… not here.' I saw and felt Jake's surprise, followed instantly by confusion. Without prompting, I continued. 'I don't want anyone else to hear. I just want it to be us.' I said softly. Jake's gaze lightened as understanding dawned, and he gave me a small smile.
'Okay. Let's go out there then.' He replied, jerking his head in the direction of the window, and the forest that lay outside of it. I nodded my agreement; the forest was good. The forest would calm me, calm both of us. With quick, deft movements, Jake began to rewrap the bandages around my chest. He said nothing, but I was grateful for the silence; I needed time to think. Then, without waiting a moment more, Jake adjusted his grip on me before lifting me up in his arms. I couldn't help but frown slightly as he carried me out the door and down the stairs; I would have much preferred to have walked.
'You know, you frown almost every time I carry you anywhere.' Jake suddenly said, his voice slightly sad. I glanced up at him, meeting his slightly hurt eyes. 'You don't like me carrying you?' I shook my head.
'No, it's… it's more that I don't like not being able to walk.' He raised his eyebrows. 'I don't like not being able to something. It feels wrong to be so dependent, so weak.'
'You're not weak, Thea. You could never be weak.' There was strange edge to his words, one that I couldn't figure out as Jake hid his emotions.
'I don't know about that Jake.' I replied. I fought not to lose myself in memories of the many times where I had been more than weak, choosing instead to focus on Jake's arms around me. 'But I do like you carrying me. I'd just like it a lot more if it was a choice.'