Thea told me everything. And it was just as terrible as I'd thought it would be. The things he'd done to her… god, I was never going to get the images out of my mind. Thea trapped, bleeding, hurt. I was going to have nightmares for sure. It was worth it though; worth it so that she and I were no longer hiding anything. I knew all of her dark and dangerous secrets now, all of the secrets I had spent hours and hours worrying over. All of the strange things she'd said or done or hinted at finally made sense. I understood, finally, everything that was going on.
Including all of the strange and unexpected things we'd discovered about the imprint. I'd thought that maybe hearing Thea in my head had only been possible because of everything that had been happening, because Thea had been so desperate to escape and I had been so desperate to find her. But now that we knew we could, talking to each other through our minds was easy. All I had to do was reach out for her, and she was there. And though it wasn't really necessary at the moment, since I hadn't yet left her side, knowing that I would be able to reach her when she wasn't with me was a much needed reassurance.
Because another thing we'd discovered about the imprint was that when Thea was hurt, I was too. To say Thea was surprised when she found out was an understatement; she was horrified. Her expression had been one of awful fear and panic, the imprint filling to the brim with the same burning emotions. Emotions that I had expected, but nowhere near this strongly. The idea of me being hurt seemed to bother her almost as much as it bothered me, which was both good and bad. Bad, because she was upset and guilty when she didn't need to be. She had been the one being tortured, not me, though she didn't seem to see it that way. But also good, because I could feel and see how much she cared for me.
It shouldn't have surprised me, but it kind of did. I knew how much she meant to me, but with all the panic and fear that had consumed me lately, I hadn't had much time to wonder what I meant to her. The fact that she had been willing to die to save me should have been a tip off, but it wasn't until I saw how upset she was about me hurting that I realised that she cared about me the same way. The thought made me ridiculously happy; all a wolf ever wanted from his imprint was her affection, and I was pretty sure I had hers. And she… she more than had mine. She had all of me, every part of my being locked on to her, obsessed with her, consumed by her. All I wanted was for her to be mine, for her to stay with me. I wanted to bring her back to La Push, live with her, kiss her, fall in love with her, marry her; there was just one problem.
Thea would die if she went back. After a few days on Quileute soil, she would have to leave. We would have to leave, because I was not letting her go anywhere without me, even though the imprint made it impossible. But what then? All I wanted was to bring her home with me, and that was the one thing I couldn't do. I wanted her to meet the pack and my dad, and I supposed she still could, but it wasn't the same. We could always just live on the outskirts of La push, where she would be safe, but it wasn't the same. I wanted her home, in our home, in my house, in my bed, becoming part of my family. That was all I wanted.
And it was the one thing I couldn't have.
'So you alpha ordered Brady?' Jake asked for the third time, the words still dubious. From my position sitting on his lap with my back against his chest, I couldn't see his face; I had to awkwardly twist to see his expression of confusion and disbelief.
'Accidently.' I confirmed, leaning back against him. Jake sighed in bewilderment.
'Weirder than us talking to each other in our heads?'
'No, but… doesn't it seem strange that you did it without even meaning to?' I pursed my lips, thinking that over.
'Maybe? All I know is that in that moment I needed Brady to leave. I needed it more than anything.'
'Hmm.' Jake murmured behind me, thinking silently for a moment. Then, he froze. 'Do you think you could do it again?'
'What?' I blurted, twisting to stare at him.
'Do you think you could order someone again? Now that you know you can?' My eyes widened with surprise. I had never thought of that. Doing it the first time had been completely unintentional, driven by my desperate need. Could I replicate that?
'I don't think so.' I eventually replied. 'Not unless I needed something just as badly.' Jake didn't seem deterred.
'We should test it.' He said, giving me an expectant look. 'Try and order me.' Again, my eyes widened with shock.
'What, now? Jake, that'll never work!' I exclaimed. 'If you can supposedly order me, I'll never be able to order you. You're stronger than me. Plus, I don't need anything.' He just shrugged.
'Try anyway. Order me to do something. Anything.' I stared at Jake in disbelief for moment, as he gazed at me pleadingly. Then, I sighed.
'Alright.' I conceded, shifting against him so I could look at him properly. Still in his lap, with my legs tucked under me, his face was just inches from mine, his dark brown eyes glittering with anticipation. I met his gaze with my own thoughtful one, scrambling to think of something to try and make him do, but my mind was blank. His eyes were so distracting, all I wanted to do was just lose myself in him–
In an instant, an idea came to me.
'Kiss me.' I said firmly, not breaking eye contact with Jake as I tried to force power into my voice. It was hard; I couldn't find the need I had injected into my words last time. So, I settled for the next best thing: want. I wanted him to kiss me. I wanted to touch him, feel him, taste him, and I tried to put as much of that want as possible into my tone. Yet Jake barely reacted to the words; the only indication he even heard me was a glimmer of surprise in his eyes. I kept waiting as the seconds slowly ticked by, but still he didn't move; he just stared at me as I stared at him, until eventually I broke the silence.
'Nothing?' I asked softly, tilting my head to the side and blinking. Jake grinned.
'I wouldn't say that.' He rumbled, before suddenly lacing his fingers in my hair and pressing his lips to mine. The kiss was soft, but it still made me melt; my sigh wasn't just one of surprise, but of pleasure. He was so warm, and he tasted so good; the feel of his mouth slanting over my own was heavenly, sending a rush of tingles through my body that lingered even when he pulled away. It took me a moment to gather my thoughts as I reeled, but eventually I managed a quiet murmur.
'I'm confused. Did it work or not?' I was pretty sure it hadn't, but Jake's comment and kiss had me second guessing myself.
'No. You didn't order me.' I nodded, my brow furrowing in confusion.
'I wanted to kiss you anyway.' He answered before I'd even spoken the question. I laughed softly at that, smiling. Jake grinned in return, his gaze finally moving from mine to glance over my shoulder. He sighed.
'It's getting dark out. We should head back.' I blinked in surprise, suddenly paying attention to my surroundings. Jake was right; the trees were casting long shadows across the ground, and only a few patches of sunlight were still visible on the leaf-littered earth. I stared, shocked, barely noticing that Jake was pulling us both up off the ground. It wasn't until he set me on my feet, and I swayed a little, that I finally broke out my temporary stupor.
'Where did all the time ago?' I said disbelievingly, as Jake steadied me with a hand on my hip; with my chest wound, even standing was hard.
'Away. We were too busy talking to notice.' He replied quietly.
'But the sun's almost gone.' I said, perplexed. How had I not noticed? I was supposed to be alert about these kinds of things, and yet I'd lost track of an entire day. Frowning, I glanced back over to Jake; just in time to see his stricken expression.
In an instant, my confusion was forgotten.
'Jake? What is it?' I asked softly. As quickly as it had come, the pained look on his face had disappeared, changing back into his smooth expression. His gaze didn't change though, his eyes staying strangely dark and hard and…haunted. That was the word.
'Tell me? Please? I told you everything.' I said pleadingly, gently placing my hand on his arm. He sighed.
'You said "gone".' He murmured quietly, and somewhat reluctantly. I said nothing, not understanding why the word was significant.
'After you were stabbed, that's what you kept telling me. "Gone." Meaning that you were gone; that I couldn't save you.' He said, his voice edged with pain; he was remembering it. I couldn't help but frown seeing him so torn up about it, about me. But it wasn't just a frown of sadness, but of confusion. Because while my memory of what had happened after Leon had plunged the sword into me was pretty sketchy, I definitely didn't remember telling Jake that I couldn't be saved.
'No I didn't.' I said slowly, my brow furrowing in concentration as I struggled to remember. Jake gave me a solemn look.
'You did, Thea. The memory is pretty much burned into my brain. You, whispering over and over again, "Gone".'
Gone. Gone. Gone. The word was on constant loop in my head now as I forced myself to think back.
Gone. Gone. Gone–
Oh my god.
'I wasn't talking about me.' I whispered, stunned as realisation overwhelmed me. In an instant, my memory had come rushing back, the sudden onslaught leaving me reeling. Next to me, Jake froze, but I couldn't see his expression; I could only see myself, being stabbed with the sword…
'You weren't?' Jake said slowly, his voice confused and disbelieving. I barely heard it, lost in my mind.
There was pain. There were my hands clutching at the blade's hilt, coated with blood. And then, in a rush, the sudden jolt that had felt like I was doused in ice water.
'The poison.' I said, the words spilling out of in a rush. 'The barrier or whatever stopped me from staying in La Push is gone. That's what I was talking about. It disappeared right after he stabbed me, and it must have been because you killed–' I yelped, my words cutting off as I found myself suddenly lifted up into the air. It took me a moment to realise the reason my feet were now dangling off the ground was because Jake had me enveloped in a crushing hug, his face buried in my hair as he heaved a sigh of relief.
'Oh, thank god. ' He breathed into my shoulder. 'I've been so worried about what we were going to do when you got better, because you couldn't go back, but now you can–' His words were fast and mumbled, and it took me a few seconds to make sense of them, still reeling from the realisation I had just made.
I could go back to La Push. I could live in La Push. I could go home again. It was what I had wanted for so long, and now… now I finally had it. It didn't seem real. It should have been impossible. And it had been, until Jake…
Jake. Jake, who was placing me back on the ground with a soft jolt, my brain finally kicking back into gear just in time for his next words.
'You'll come back with me, right? You'll stay with me?' He asked, his voice deep and urgent. His gaze was piercing as he stared down at me, his eyes burning with so many emotions I couldn't look away; and I didn't want to. His eyes were beautiful, so dark and deep and brown and powerful. Eyes that were promising me everything… everything I had ever wanted. When really, Jake was everything I had ever wanted.
So I grinned, reaching up a hand to gently run my fingers through his hair.
And then his mouth was suddenly claiming mine in a passionate kiss. In an instant, I forgot about everything, consumed by him. Consumed by his heat, his strength, his taste, his touch… and the knowledge that I would actually be able to stay with him.