Chapter 1: Need to Know - Dark-Hunter
Need to Know
They're in the woods now behind the Swan home. "Charlie," Jacob says, "I have something to show you."
When Jacob starts taking off his clothes, Charlie's eyes near about pop out of his head. What in God's name is Billy's son doing? Something must have happened to the kid when he ran away. Charlie steadily keeps eyes off to the left of the too-tall teen who is now completely naked in the wild greenery behind his house. "Son," he starts to say, with no idea how to get Billy's kid clothed, and wondering already what he's going to tell his closest friend about his only boy.
"Just watch, Charlie."
Charlie is positive that no matter what Jacob thinks he's going to do, this old man does not, in any way, want to see it. Nothing good comes of a teenage boy stripping down in what is practically your back yard. Suddenly, there is--an explosion?--and Jacob isn't standing there, looking older than his years and trying not to laugh at Charlie. In his place is an enormous rust-colored wolf. 'I didn't want this,' Charlie thinks to himself. 'I didn't want to know. Nothing good comes of knowing.' For a moment, his memory of a time when he did want to know washes over him, and he just stands there, gaping at the giant wolf in front of him.
He'd been in the uniform for less than two years when he drove to Seattle to talk to the Assistant D.A. in a case he'd been involved in. It was a case that spanned jurisdictions, and so was out of the hands of the small town of Forks. He wasn't fond of the city. There was too much metal, too much brick and pavement. Being in the city made his heart ache for the trees and fresh air of home. It was late in the day when he'd finished up with the Assistant D.A. Upon leaving the D.A.'s office, he'd needed to work off some nerves, so he'd taken a walk. He'd passed the alley shortly after sundown, on the way back to his car. Down the way, he'd seen a sign for a place called Serengeti Club, and wondered if it was the kind of bar that served beer he liked and not that yuppie microbrewery stuff that was starting to become popular.
He'd never found out, because he'd passed that alley, and just had to help. Had to interfere. Had to know.
Jacob is suddenly Jacob again, putting on his clothes. 'Thank God,' Charlie thinks. He likes the kid much better clothed, and not a wolf. His breath comes to him again, and he repeats a mantra in his head: 'This isn't the same. This isn't what I knew before.' But he doesn't believe it.
The fool boy is talking again, the hint of a smile on his face. The older man wants to wipe the almost-smile from his face. He doesn't want his world turned upside down yet again. Some of the words Jacob is speaking makes it through the fog of denial he's built in his head. "Charlie, you don't live in the world you thought you lived." Charlie most definitely does not snort. He wonders just what kind of world Jacob thinks they live in. Does he know about those...creatures? Does being one mythological, impossible, creature mean that you automatically know about all the others?
He'd walked past the mouth of the alley. There were people there, sounds of scuffling. Of course he'd tried to help. It was what he did. There were two men and a woman, and another person on the ground. The three standing were tall, blonde, and even he took note of how attractive they were. He had noted their posture, seen that they were, all three of them, the aggressors. He'd seen this, and gone into the alley to help the poor person on the ground.
He'd very nearly died. As they'd turned on him, he had thought that they must have martial arts training, to disarm him so quickly. Then, out of nowhere, the three attackers were gone, pulled off of him and dispatched after a short fight.
"Jake, you said that Bella isn't sick any more. Tell me what's really going on with her, with this rare disease." Charlie can't keep the note of desperation out of his voice. This is his baby girl, his little Isabella, who had been so sick.
"Bella was sick, but she's better now. But, she's changed a little in the process." Jake manages to look both serious and jovial.
It is clear to Charlie that Billy's kid is serious, telling him something significant, but thinks this is all good fun. He swallows hard and asks the question he doesn't want to know the answer to. "What do you mean," Charlie asks the boy who is altering his entire world, "when you say Bella 'changed?'" He can feel the nausea roiling in his stomach as he thinks about what he might be about to learn. 'I didn't want this.'
Jacob is grinning at him. "Well, she looks more like Esme now, than Renee."
After he saw the three literally disappear into a cloud of gold dust, he turned to the man who'd saved him. And looked up. And up. He had to be six and a half feet. Black hair. Lean. Held himself like a fighter. "What," he'd gasped, having had the wind knocked out of him, "was that? What were they?"
The tall man had offered Charlie his hand and hauled him to his feet. "That," he'd answered, " is something you don't want to know about. The things that go bump in the night. You're safe. You can go back to pretending you don't believe any of this." His rescuer had a wry twist to his lips as he gestured out to the street Charlie had been walking a few short minutes before.
Charlie'd looked at the body lying on the littered ground. So much blood. The man's throat and wrists had been ripped apart. "I need to know about this," a young and naive Charlie Swan said. I need to know how to protect people, my daughter." He didn't expect an answer, or any response at all. The man who'd saved him had already given his opinion.
"They feed on blood, and use it to suck the soul out of humans. A strong soul can keep them alive for some time." The man had cocked his head, examining Charlie. He'd been reminded of a cat examining a curious toy. "They're stronger and faster than you. Stay in at night. Stay out of alleys. Don't interfere."
They feed on souls. He'd believed the man spouting crazy things. Knew in his heart it was true. And he'd quietly vowed that his toddler daughter would never be out at night alone.
Charlie has a sinking feeling. His voice is quiet when he asks, "Does she turn into an animal, too?" 'Please, say yes. I can handle that. It means she isn't what I think she is.'
But Jacob is snorting in mirth as he answers, "She wishes she were that cool!"
Something in Charlie dies.
"It's so cool, Charlie. I'm a werewo--"
"I'd rather not know the specifics, Jacob." He's quick to cut the boy off. He decides, desperately, that his little girl had been duped. She can't have known. A strong soul can keep them alive for some time. "Did she know what she was getting herself into? When she married Edward?" His innocent girl...
"Yeah. She's known all about this since she came to Forks." The boy's voice is still chipper, happy, like this is a conversation about...about fishing. Or girls. Not monsters and impossible things. Charlie can't hold it in. He lets Jacob know, vocally, how he feels about this.
A strong soul can keep them alive for some time. "I want to see her." Breathe. "I want to know as little as possible."
"As little as possible, Jacob. Need to know only. I can already tell you that I don't need to know."
"There's something else. Something you do need to know." He's reassuring, now, speaking calmly. "Bella and Edward inherited a new mouth to feed." At Charlie's horrified expression, he continues. "She's an orphan. Bella and Edward have taken her in. All the Cullens have, really."
"Like a daughter? So I'm like a grandfather?" Charlie can't breathe. 'I didn't want this. I didn't need to know.' But...a granddaughter. Can he handle that?
"Yes." Jacob is beaming. Charlie does not want to know why the kid sitting next to him is so damn happy about all this. "Congrats, Gramps. She's special. More special than all of us combined."
Charlie forces a smile. 'A granddaughter.' The smile comes more naturally. "I don't need to know the details, Jake. I mean it. Need to know, only." He draws in a breath. "I need to see her."
Jacob nods. "It'll be better if you give me a head start to explain."
Carlie moves his head in agreement, and the child of his best friend, this over-grown teenager who turns into a wolf, flashes him a blinding smile that he will never see the same again. "I'll let her know you're coming," he promises. Then he's off.
Charlie does his level best not to hyperventilate. His child. His baby. One of them. A strong soul can keep them alive for some time. Bella can't handle the smell of blood. How...? No. He doesn't want to know.
"You'll know," the tall man had told him, "them by sight. You saw the attackers. What did they have in common?"
He'd responded by pure habit. "Tall. Blonde. Fit."
"A racial trait. They stand out in a crowd."
The tightness in his chest loosens. Esme has brownish hair. Alice's is black, and she's shorter than even Bella. Edward's hair is oddly red. He breathes easier. He carefully does not think about Dr. Cullen or the two blonde children, even though none of the Cullens, excepting the big one, are tall enough to be one of them. His daughter is...something different than those creatures that nearly took his life.
He doesn't know what Bella is, now.
He'll never ask.
Chapter 2: We Will Not Be the Hunted - Buffy
In which a Cullen makes a vow.
We Will Not Be the Hunted
Carlisle came into the room in time to see his father, tall and furious, his face the mottled red that usually indicated a beating was in his child's near future, wrenching open their door. "Watcher," Father spat out with the same venom used when he spoke the word "Catholic."
The man in well-appointed attire (Mr. Wyndam, his late mother's brother, as he'd introduced himself) visiting Father didn't react to the vitriol in the other man's voice, instead sighing wearily and nodding politely to the elder Cullen. His words were clipped, his tone annoyed. "You can not deny your child his birthright, sir. He has a place with the Council of Watchers. He needs to be trained." He paused, and taking in the growing fury on the other man's face, pressed his lips into a thin line and stood. "A good day to you." He walked out the door with a slight limp.
After Father slammed the door shut and stared at it, fuming, he turned to Carlisle, a fire in his eyes that was wholly unfamiliar to the boy. "Son. Heed my words. I will train you. We will not be the hunted. We will be the hunters. The Devil's creatures will learn to fear the name Cullen. There is no need for these Watchers." The elder Cullen tightly gripped his son's chin, tilting the boy's face up, forcing their eyes to meet. "You will not speak with Mr. Wyndam, he is a monarchist and wishes to take you away from me. Do you understand?"
Carlisle managed to answer with "Yes, sir." around the fierce hold of his father's hand on his chin. Internally, any hope he'd entertained of meeting his mother's people died.
Chapter 3: italy - Highlander
In which Methos picks Joe up from the hospital.
Methos pushes open the doors of the small hospital's emergency room, and with nary a glance at any one else there, makes a beeline for the file-covered raised counter and the tired-looking nurse standing behind it. He's spent the entire drive from Seacouver to Forks vacillating between being flattered that he was (apparently) Joe's emergency contact and being annoyed. Annoyed mostly because he knew that if Duncan hadn't gone gallivanting off to his homeland to meet up with his less-irritating cousin, he would be comfortably ensconced at his desk with a beer and stimulating reading material and it would be the Highlander, not him, basking in the universal hospital smell of sterilized illness and death.
Methos hates hospitals. He wishes his mortal friends didn't need them. Didn't die in them.
Nonetheless, he's glad that Joe lives in a time when medicine has long passed what he learned in Heidelberg five and a half centuries ago. Then, Joe would've likely died under the best care they knew to give. Of course, back then, his salt-and-pepper friend probably wouldn't have survived to his current age, anyway. He thanks the nurse for the directions to Joe's room--down this hall, third door on the right--and as he turns on his heel to find his favorite mortal, he notices a kid with messy, peculiarly red hair giving him a slack-jawed look that he normally associates with telling mortals that he's Immortal and can't die.
It is disconcerting, and Methos isn't particularly comfortable, but at the moment he's more worried about Joe, so he files it away for further consideration and makes his way to his friend's room.
The door to the room is open, so he slips in just in time to hear the blond doctor give Joe instructions on wound care and prescriptions.
"Joe," Methos asks in an exasperated voice that does nothing to disguise his concern for the grizzled Watcher, "what did you do to yourself?" In his peripheral vision, he notices the doctor turn so that he's half-facing both men. He's too busy taking in the shiner his friend is now sporting, along with scrapes along his jawline, and a nearly impressive amount of bandaging around his shoulder and torso, to pay the doctor much notice. He winces internally in sympathy. It appears that Joe, at the very least, has damage to ribs. Never a fun injury.
Joe makes a disgusted noise. "I hydroplaned and put my car in a ditch. I'm just banged up a bit." He waves his un-wrapped arm nonchalantly at the doctor. "The good doctor, here, was just telling me he would discharge me as soon as my ride arrived. You have perfect timing."
Methos finally turns his attention on the blond man standing to the side and blinks. It is a face he hasn't seen since he lived in Tuscany two hundred years previous. "Carlisle," he blurts out in surprise, his usual filter between thought and words failing him. He's getting miserably sloppy in his old age; time was when that verbal filter was infallible.
The other man's golden eyes widen a hairs breadth in reaction, and Methos thinks the doctor does an admirable job of not gaping, which he clearly wants to do. "Beniamino?" The question is laden with incredulity, a sentiment Methos echoes.
The man doesn't have the familiar Immortal buzz, yet he is clearly the same young (though he is now most definitely questioning that particular adjective; "young" is now a matter of perspective) doctor he knew. Carlisle is as unchanged as he, himself, is. More so: the man's hair is styled in exactly the same way it was back then. As Ben, he'd worn his hair a bit longer than Adam does.
He steps forward to close the door behind him. No sense on a random passing nurse hearing them discuss events well over a century in the past. As he offers his hand to Carlisle, telling him "I go by Adam now, but yes. You knew me as Beniamino," he fights the urge to smile at the expression of surprise on Joe's face. Surely he was wondering if the Watchers had missed an Immortal, and was filing away that alias for future research.
Carlisle accepts his hand and returns the handshake. Methos is reminded that he used to think his friend's hands absolutely freezing. They still are. The doctor seems to be evaluating him; Methos can feel himself weighed and measured by those oddly colored golden eyes. "You're human." Carlisle sounds confused.
In synch, Joe's and Methos' eyebrows raise. For Methos, it is an echo of the words he and his brothers used when talking about mortals. Does this man consider himself higher than mortals because he himself is not? It is a troubling thought; Methos knows too well what can happen when one follows those ideas to their logical conclusions. "Human?" He questions.
"Well I'm not...and you aren't...how?" Based off of memory, and reading of body language, Methos is fairly certain Carlisle does not often find himself at a loss for words. A glance at Joe tells him there will be no help from that quarter: the Watcher looks as baffled as the two non-aging men in the exam room.
Methos sighs. "I think this is a discussion best had somewhere else. Do you have time for some coffee?"
Chapter 4: Probability - Numb3rs, Stargate: SG1
In which Renesmee starts the new semester.
I skipped a little as I worked my way through the warm bodies and beating hearts of my fellow math nerds. I'd finally gotten my schedule worked out so that I could take the introductory probability course. My roommate had taken the course last Spring and raved about the professor, going on at length over what a great teacher he was, and how he reminded her of a couple of geeky-but-great friends from home.
I was also pretty sure that said roommate had a crush on the professor, but I wouldn't let that color my evaluation of him.
Room 142 came into view, and I allowed the crush of bodies in the hall to carry me in that direction. I slipped out of the crowd and entered the room, where there were already five other students. Ah yes, the usual Tuesday-Thursday early-in-the-program math majors crowd. We were forming our own little clique, always seeing each other in our classes semester to semester.
At the front of the room stood a young dark-haired man whose wild curls looked like I imagine Uncle Emmett's might, if he could grow his hair out. Next to him was a beautiful blonde woman who, to my vampire senses, felt...different. Human, but a little off somehow.
Once the classroom filled in and we were all paying appropriate attention, the dark-haired man stepped forward and began the usual introductions. "Good morning! Welcome to MA 150, Intro to Probability Theory. If you should be somewhere else, please take this opportunity to leave." One wayward student--the only one I hadn't recognized--did indeed walk out of the classroom with an embarrassed look. With a grin for the students, the professor continued. "I'm Dr. Charlie Epps. This," he gestured to the tall blonde, "is Cassie Frasier, our T.A. this term."
As Dr. Epps went over his office hours and the syllabus, I caught the T.A. giving me a strange look. Well. So she could tell that I'm different, too. Fun times in the math world at CalSci! My life as a half-human isn't exciting enough. Oh, no. I get even more excitement in the form of a sorta/mostly human T.A. I truly am my mother's daughter.
Chapter 5: Legacy - Huck Finn
In which a little girl has the most interesting great-grandparent a girl could have.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
"Granpa Huck!" Esme squealed as she struggled to free herself from her mother's arms. Mrs. Platt put the squirming four-year-old on her feet, and she was moving as fast as her short legs could carry her, straight for the person every one knew was the little girl's favorite relative, her great-grandfather.
The elderly man in question seemed both alarmed and amused to see the whirlwind of small child heading his way, and situated himself on a porch rocker just in time for her to launch herself onto his lap and into his arms. There was a loud "oof" and it seemed to Mr. Platt, who was on the porch smoking his pipe, that his child had crushed all the air out of the older man. He had a mind to get up and check on the leathery old man when the familiar bass rumble of Mr. Finn's laugh emerged from under the giggling form of the little girl.
"I reckon there ain't a prettier little one in all of the state," he said as he patted her back with his large, weathered hand.
"I believe you are right," agreed the little girl's father, pleased at hearing his daughter's praises, and admiring the caramel curls that bounced around her head.
Little Esme smacked a wet kiss on the tanned skin of her great-grandfather's cheek. "Venture stories!" She demanded happily. "I wanna hear venture stories, Granpa Huck!"
The old man sent a sly look over at his granddaughter, Mrs. Platt. "Little One has a fine ear for storytellin' don't she, Anne?"
Mrs. Platt bristled. "Don't fill her head with nonsense, Grandpa Huck. You know better."
"Don't know no such thing," he returned. "The stories are all true. Only a little stretchin' here and there." When his granddaughter only shook her head at him, he grinned and situated Esme on his lap, making both of them comfortable for story time. "Now then," he began. "Last I visited, you heard all about the adventures of my friend Tom. Do you reckon you want to hear about the adventures of your old Grandpa Huck?"
Esme made a delighted noise and clapped her hands. "Will I have my own ventures, Granpa Huck?"
He nuzzled the top of her head before he answered, and grinned broadly at her mother, who returned the grin with a half-hearted glare. "Little One, I reckon you will. Now let me tell you how my own set of adventures got started. The Widow Douglas, she'd took me in for her son..."
I swiped Grandpa Huck's last line from chapter one of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Chapter 6: Looking for Flying Saucers - Hitchhiker's Guide
In which someone is just looking for a way home.
Looking For Flying Saucers
Emmett leaned back on the park bench and watched the man curiously. For over ten minutes now the man had been standing stock still, looking up at the overcast sky as though hypnotized. It had taken Emmett a few moments to realize what it was about this man that struck him, and made him watch the stranger doing...nothing. Nothing but stare up.
There was no reason, really, for the still man to attract his attention. With the wind blowing the direction it was, he couldn't smell the man. He wasn't conspicuously tall, and his features weren't what anyone would call handsome, nor ugly. The man's hair was brushed back from his temples and it seemed to Emmett, now that he'd been staring, that the man's skin seemed almost stretched back toward his temples from his nose. He wasn't particularly attention-grabbing. Everything from his well-worn clothes and battered messenger bag scream "normal guy."
The thing was, this man Emmett had taken to watching didn't blink often enough. Humans blinked. It was something Emmett had to force himself to remember: blink at regular intervals so that the humans aren't made to be (more) uncomfortable. The man did not blink the way a human should, and he did not move the way a human should. Humans were never perfectly and absolutely still. Yet Emmett had been watching him for nearly fifteen minutes at this point, and the strange man had yet to even twitch--and he could count on two hands how many times he'd seen the eyelids flicker to moisten the eyes.
It was as unnatural as he himself was, and he was dying of curiosity, wondering just who--and maybe what--this fellow was.
About twenty minutes into his observation, the quiet of the park was broken by a tinkling female voice. "Ford!" It called out. Emmett saw a pretty human woman with dark hair approach the mystery man. "Ford!" She exclaimed again, only a foot or two from the man in question. This time, he started (and it seemed to Emmett that this man, Ford, had a guilty expression on his face for a second) and smiled at the woman in greeting.
"What on Earth were you doing, Ford? You looked like you were in your own little world." She linked arms companionably with the man and smiled up at him.
The man Emmett now knew as Ford seemed to relax as he grinned at his female companion. "Oh," he replied airily, "just looking for flying saucers."
The woman laughed at his joke and asked, "What kind of flying saucers?"
"Green ones!" He replied with a wicked grin and a laugh that sounded, at least to Emmett, forced. He sobered quickly and added, "We should have drinks at the pub. The first four rounds are on me."
The two walked by Emmett on their way out the park, and he found himself contemplating the oddity of humans. Looking for flying saucers? Perhaps the man had seen too many movies. Then the wind shifted, and the big vampire caught the scent of the two, and he startled at what he smelled. Reflexively, he looked up, to find out if he could see what this Ford had been looking for.
Because Ford was certainly not human, and not vampire. Maybe he had been looking for flying saucers.
Chapter 7: Chicagoland - Buffy
In which three vampires meet in an alley, and Alice pre-empts Whistler.
For the purposes of "when is this taking place?" It's shortly after Jasper and Alice meet, but before they've connected with the Cullens.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Jasper tucked his small mate close into his body, wanting to shield her from the detritus of society that surrounded them in this back street of Chicago. He knew, intellectually, that Alice was every bit as indestructible as he was. The only thing able to harm them were other vampires--and between her precognition and his empathic abilities, they had ample warning of any such encounters. What he wanted to shield her from was the dirt, the rats, the humid summer air that was weighed down with sewer gases and the rank body odor of the unwashed humans who lived in the shadows of the tall buildings above. His little star was too pure, too good, to have her dainty, saddle-shoe clad feet traipsing along the thick film of unidentifiable something that coated the street here.
She looked up at him, then, and smiled. It filled the whole of his sight for a moment. "What would those in the darkness do, Jasper, if they had no light to guide them?" Her voice took on a distant quality that he was coming to associate with her getting lost in her visions. "There is ever a light in dark places, for those who are willing to look."
Jasper bent low to place a gentle kiss on the top of her head. "And so you are for me. A guiding star that came to lead me out of the darkness of my life. So, little North Star, why did you insist we come to this part of the city tonight?"
Her small arm slid across his lower back to settle at his waist. "You can't feel it? We're needed."
Reluctantly, he loosened his focus on Alice and allowed himself to better feel his surroundings. To be able to function in any populous area, Jasper had been learning to mute or at least ignore the inundation of emotions from the humans that surrounded them. With Alice as his primary focus, he could go about his life without being overwhelmed. Changing his focus to the surrounding area also encouraged him to pay attention to the pulsing blood and appetizing aroma of the street's human residents. Scattered around them, in the various alleyways and recessed door stoops lived the remnants of humanity; those men who couldn't or wouldn't function in society. He could hear their heartbeats, and they laid out a pattern that he found all too tempting. They'd be so easy to pick off, no one to notice...he was brought out of his contemplation by a steely finger in his ribs.
"They're people, Jazz. They have stories and lives and emotions that will hurt you as you feed. We aren't here to eat." She pointed to the entrance of an alley just ahead and to the left. "There. We need to walk to the mouth of the alley."
Jasper bit down on the shame he felt at his lapse, and directed his eyes to the alley Alice pointed out. Nothing stood out to his eyes. The usual water-filled indentations in the pavement, graffiti-decorated building walls, crumpled newspaper pages, and miscellaneous refuse were there, as well as a fat rat that darted behind a moldy, crumbling shipping crate. He shifted his attention back to his mate, who was a bundle of barely contained energy and excitement. There was a tinge of sadness, too, under her anticipation; he wondered what she'd seen in her visions.
"What are we looking for?" He asked quietly, too fast for any humans nearby to hear.
"Wait." Was her quiet, enigmatic answer. Accompanying it was a wave of mischievousness. He took that to mean he was meant to squirm and to not know what was going on.
They stood there, still as statues, waiting for whatever it was that Alice had Seen. Twenty minutes later, Jasper got an inkling of why his mate had steered them to this place when an overwhelming sense of self-loathing, mixed equally with fear and misery, filled the alley and nearly knocked him over with the weight of it. He turned wide eyes to Alice. Before he could say anything, she squeezed his had reassuringly.
"That's why we're here," she whispered. "He needs us. You two will understand each other, help each other keep on the right path." Having said that, she gently tugged him toward the alley. "Move slowly. Don't scare him more than he already is."
They moved so that they had a better view of the alley and its occupant. There, in the shadows, was a man. He was huddled in clothing that was only steps away from rags, his chin-length hair lank and grime-crusted, his skin coated in dirt that made him look much older than Jasper thought he probably was. Jasper stopped breathing, wanting to keep out the odor of rotting food, garbage, and decaying flesh. They alley was fetid; the man offensive in his smell.
Alice slipped out from under Jasper's arm, and cautiously approached her target. "Hello," she said quietly. She paused just outside of arm's reach and bend slightly in an attempt to catch the man's eyes. "I'm Alice. The man behind me is Jasper." Alice tilted her head in a curious manner that reminded Jasper of tiny song birds examining something. "We won't hurt you," she added.
The man looked as though he were trying to pull further into himself, hunching minutely closer to the stained brick wall, pulling long legs tightly into his torso. Jasper's first thought was that the man's subconscious had picked up on their otherness, and was telling him to hide. His empathic ability, though, proved that idea wrong. There was no fear, well, no additional fear in the pathetic creature than there had been before they'd made their presence known. Just that same nearly paralyzing self-loathing and misery.
"Alice," Jasper began, wanting her to give up on this poor soul already, wanting to go back to her mission of finding this coven that was like her--them--in their desire to not feed from humans. What did some vagrant in a forgotten alley in Chicago have to do with finding they who Alice said would be their future family?
When the stranger spoke, it caught Jasper by surprise, to his chagrin. "Why are you here? What do you want with me?" The man seemed to gather himself, then added. "You should go away."
"We're not going away," Alice answered firmly. "You should know now that I don't usually take 'no' for an answer." She gentled her voice and said, "As I said a moment ago, we won't hurt you."
By this time, Jasper had joined his mate and stood beside her, one arm protectively around her shoulders, his other loose and ready to defend them should the need arise. There was something...off about this man. Reluctantly, he took in a breath, tasting and smelling the air to determine what it was that was tinging his sense. As he did so, he sorted out the ambient smells of the buried parts of a big city, focusing on the man in front of them. Then he smelled it. He let out a sharp huff, then jerked both himself and Alice several feet back. "He isn't human," he hissed to his mate, surprised and wary. The man wasn't human, no, but he wasn't vampire, either. He smelled like neither.
Her answer was simple, delivered in her bell-like voice: "I know."
The self-loathing wafting off of the strange male ratcheted up. Jasper's lip curled at the sense of it. He was almost awash in self-hatred, his own doubts combining with the emotions coming from the male to create a heady, debilitating mix. To his shame, he felt his knees buckle. When he thought he was going to succumb, he felt Alice's hand on his forearm, her forehead against his cheek, heard her soothing voice calming his nerves. With her as his center, Jasper regained control of his emotions, separating out the male's influence from his own and concentrating on maintaining his balance.
"What..." The male hesitated, the visibly gathered his courage and continued, "what are you? You don't smell like any demon I know of."
Alice's spike of surprise echoed his own. Demon?
"Demon?" Alice asked, giving voice to the question they both had.
The male's face, previously open with his agony and weakness, now closed off as though shutters had been drawn over a window. Jasper felt the male's emotions shift from curious and cautious with a healthy measure of fear to suspicious and fearful. He was positive that if the other male hadn't already been trapped against the wall of the alley he would've run from the two vampires. He was close to terrified.
Knowing that Alice was invested in this creature, even if he didn't understand why, Jasper projected calmness, hoping to settle the male down. "My mate didn't lie," he added to the wave of calm, "we do not intend you harm." He smiled wryly. "She likes to help strays: I am a perfect example."
Alice smiled kindly. "We are not demons. We are vampires. We live off the blood of others, though Jasper and I have chosen to feed from animals rather than humans."
"Vampires?" The male's voice was incredulous. His posture straightened, and though he was still crouched, it was easier to see what a large frame--broad shoulders, formerly powerful chest and arms--he'd been hiding while folding in on himself. "I am a vampire. Have been one for nearly two hundred years. You look, smell, sound, and feel nothing like any vampire I've ever met. Try a new line." For a moment, his indignation and irritation overwhelmed the fear and pushed back the self-hatred Jasper had been feeling. Then the male slumped, and the old emotions were back. "I was one-fourth of the Scourge of Europe. I am--was--Angelus." His lips twisted as though he'd tasted something sour. "I don't think I can wear that name, now. Call me Angel."
Alice's "light in dark places" line inspired by Tolkien (Galadriel's gift to Frodo).
Chapter 8: Eye Candy - Supernatural
In which Dean is indignant, Sam is amused, Edward is distracting, and the ladies in the diner feel dirty.
(Told from the POV of an original character.)
About halfway through second shift, right after you place Mrs. Vormund's usual--a fish sandwich with a side salad drenched in Thousand Island--when they walk in. You and Patty have the diner divided in half, and you find yourself fervently hoping that the two young men take a seat in your half. As lesbian as lesbians get, their good looks would be lost on your fellow waitress, and you want to be the one to appreciate them up close. The fact that they look like they aren't much older than your oldest son, who is (to your eternal surprise and pride) in graduate school, isn't terribly important. Good looking is good looking, and you know by now to appreciate fine specimens of the male persuasion when you can. Port Angeles isn't known for it's crop of beautiful men.
They are both rumpled and draped in layers of shirts. Under the shorter one's (not that he's short; it's just that the other one is really tall) worn leather jacket you see flannel and a t-shirt. The taller one--who looks to be of an age with your son, now that you've watched them for a good long moment--is wearing a barn coat and flannels that look like they've seen better days. You notice that the shorter one looks around the diner in a way that reminds you of your dad, who retired from the service when you were in your thirties. They both, but he especially, have that always ready look you came to associate with military men and you find yourself wondering if one or both of them served. The taller one (the younger one, you think) has the long hair that's so popular with kids these days, so perhaps not him.
You take a guilty sort of pleasure when they choose a booth on your side of the diner, and you resign yourself to feeling like a dirty old woman for oogling such young men. Once they've settled in, you walk over with a coffee decanter and menus. The older one flicks a quick look to your name tag, then unleashes a smile that you feel in your toes. He's trouble, and you know it, but you can't help but respond in kind, beaming at the two young men.
"Tell me, Ann, how are your burgers here?" He has green eyes that seem amused, if tired, and inanely, you find you want to compare that green to the lush undergrowth of the surrounding forests here. You aren't usually the kind of person to feel poetic about anything, especially not an attractive man, and you immediately decide that a nice long nap after your shift is a good idea. You must be over-tired; there's no reason for this handsome young man to affect you so.
You're horrified to discover that under his intense gaze, you're blushing in a way you haven't blushed since your days in high school. 'Down girl,' you tell yourself. 'He's the same age as your kids.'
You take their orders--for the older one a burger loaded down with what Earl, the cook, calls 'heart attack fixins,' and a veggie burger and side salad for the taller one--and head to the back to get yourself under control. As you turn to leave their table, you hear:
"Dean. Lay off the eyes! You're embarrassing her."
And then the reply: "Dude. You're just jealous that ladies of all ages don't swoon over you."
You quash down your embarassment at letting pretty young men fluster you and the mom part of your brain kicks in. They're brothers, you conclude. The exchange you just overheard, the voices tinged with affection but laced with long-held irritation, they way they seem to counter balance one another, it all points to brothers. It reminds you of the verbal matches your own sons have. 'Move on,' you tell yourself. 'You are no Demi Moore and they are definitely on the same level as Ashton Kutcher. Just appreciate the pretty and move on with your day.'
It's later, when the young men who threw you for a loop earlier have nearly finished their burgers and have covered the booth's available surface area with papers that seem to be igniting a fierce debate between the two, and you're refilling their thirsty coffee cups, when two teenagers walk in. You catch a glimpse of them out of the corner of your eye, but you're focused on pouring the coffee without oggling to two handsome men at your table, so you don't really look at the new arrivals.
You meet Patty behind the counter, where she's changing out one empty decaf pot for a full one. "Did you see them?" She hisses in your ear. This surprises you. Patty is the least gossipy woman you know.
"Them?" You ask, curious.
"The kids that just came in."
"What about them?"
Patty grins at you. "If you think those two men at your table are hot, check out table nineteen."
You do, and any of the guilt you felt at checking out your two young men is burned away by the absolute mortification of finding a boy who is clearly in his teens so incredibly attractive. He can't possibly be older than your youngest son, a juinor in high school, and yet there is something about him--his wild auburn hair that is almost coppery bronze, his flawless and smooth skin, his piercing eyes that are the strangest brown/gold color you've ever seen--that is compelling. 'Stop it,' you snarl at yourself. 'You're disgusting, looking at him like that. He's the same age as Josh! You'd beat any woman senseless who looked at your child the way you're looking at this boy.'
Your fellow waitress (oh evil woman, for pointing out that boy to you; you can't keep your eyes away) shakes her head. "I noticed the girl first, of course. She's pretty in an understated way. Then I saw her boyfriend. Ann, I don't look at men like you do, and even I know he's the single most good looking male I've ever laid eyes on. And he must be the same age as my niece, Angela."
"So you're saying," you whisper to her, "that you're just as messed up as I am, for noticing the good looks of a teenage boy?"
"We're both disturbed," she agrees.
You don't realize, when you go to the table to deliver the bill and collect the plates of the brothers, that you aren't even noticing their handsome looks. You're completely distracted, watching the table with the two teenagers who are so clearly in love (it makes your inner romantic swoon, to see how they look at each other). You're startled out of your reverie--during which you've automatically been clearing their table while they talk quietly--when the taller one laughs.
"Dean," he says with a guffaw. "I think there's finally a man out there prettier than you." He flashes you a wide smile that's half apologetic, and continues. "Ann hasn't even noticed you flirting with her since that guy walked in with his girlfriend."
The older brother--Dean-- huffs, but visibly resists the urge to turn around and see who his brother is talking about. "No possible." His voice is all gravely confidence. "There is no such thing as a man better looking than I am. I'm it."
You chuckle at the two and shake your head in amusement. They really do remind you of your sons. Thoughts of the two young men and of your sons leave your head, though, as the teen at table nineteen shifts around in his chair and your eyes watch him despite your inner protests. It is almost like you can't help it. He is the most attractive thing in the room, and you are helpless against that.
"Right," you vaguely register the younger brother replying. "You're so 'it' that our waitress has already forgotten you exist." His voice is heavy with amusement, and your ears perk up when he continues. "I think I'll leave her the biggest tip yet, just for ignoring you."
Chapter 9: Classmates - Labyrinth
In which a former Forks resident opens to the door to adventure.
At first glance, Jessica thought that the guy sitting next to her in Econ 102 had two different colored eyes.
At second glance, she thought that he must be related to the Hale siblings from high school, despite having tan skin rather than their deathly pale color. He had their fair hair color and was as unnaturally handsome as they'd been beautiful.
At third glance, Jessica Stanley fell head over heels in love with the strangely attractive blond man.
A month into the semester, she finally gathered up the courage to talk to him. Toby, his name was. Toby Williams. This was when she realized that his eyes were not different colors but instead one had a pupil that was hugely and permanently dilated, relegating the ice blue of that iris to a thin ring around the dominating black. It'd happened, he told her when she asked, about the time he was six months old, and there was no medical explanation.
"I'm a mutant," he'd joked. Jessica couldn't shake the feeling that he knew more about his mysterious eye, but they weren't close and she was afraid of scaring him off, so she didn't pry.
Toby was a couple of years older than she was, though they were both sophomores at the UW. He'd taken some time after high school to "go adventuring" and live with his older sister and her husband.
"Your sister's married?" Jessica had asked, incredulous a little. She'd thought Bella Swan was the only one silly enough to get married so young.
"Sarah's fifteen years older than me," Toby had explained. "So yeah. Married. Her husband Jareth is awesome. I liked staying with them."
"But you decided to move out for college?"
"They don't really live near anyone or anything. Attending class kinda required that I stop mooching off of them. Sarah says it's good for me to be on my own anyway." He'd stopped, a far away look in eyes. "Mom and Dad are on the East coast. It's nice that Mom can't just pop in on me, here."
Around Toby, Jessica couldn't help feeling a little provincial. Toby never talked down to her or treated her like a townie, which she practically was, but he was so traveled already, far older than her than just two years would suggest.
In mid December they went out to lunch to celebrate the last exam of the Fall term, and to say goodbye until classes began again in January. She was driving the relatively short distance to Forks and he was flying to New England to stay with his parents. After lunch they watched Roman Holiday and made out on the squashy loveseat she and her roommate had finagled into the small room.
Jessica sighed wistfully as the closing credits rolled and she snuggled deeper in the extraordinarily warm arms of her boyfriend. "I wish I could go to Rome. It seems so romantic."
Toby's arms tightened around her. "We'll go," he said, decided. "Next summer, after finals are over. After that, we can visit Sarah and Jareth."
She felt her heart swell. "You want me to meet your family?"
"Of course. We'll start with my sister and brother-in-law. They're easier to get along with." He paused. "Though getting to their place is an adventure. Do you think you're up for it?"
She worried her lip between her teeth. Not an adventurous type, she wanted to say 'no.' However, this was Toby she was talking about. "I think," she said hesitantly, "I think I can be up for it. Is it the kind of adventure you can ease me into?"
The huge smile on Toby's face was her reward for stepping out of her comfort zone. "I'll scare you as little as possible. It's worth it, Jessica, I promise. They live in the coolest place ever."
Chapter 10: Protector - Angel
In which self-loathing steps aside for one man's inner champion and protector.
I'm conveniently ignoring the fact that Angel arrived in The States in 1902. Hope you don't mind my bending of Angel's history. (so, pretty much, pretend the episode "Orpheus" either didn't happen or the dates were shifted.) Long live alternate universes and mangled time lines!
1900, Chicago, IL
He cocked his head as sounds of a scuffle filtered into the alley from its mouth. From what he could see through the rain, a girl--a young woman, really--was being bodily dragged from the street into the alley. In the back of his mind, he critiqued the method of nabbing--the man barely had a grip on the girl's wrists, hadn't covered her mouth to keep her from screaming, and she looked to be doing some damage to his shins. Sloppy, his demon whispered. He closed his eyes and turned his head from the sight. He wasn't like that any more. He could barely bring himself to kill rats when he needed to feed.
Angel convinced himself he didn't care when the man succeeded in slamming the much smaller woman against the wall of the alley and put his hand over her mouth, stifling her cries. He kept himself from reacting when the man told the girl exactly what he had planned for her in that alley. He pretended not to hear her muted sobs or smell her blood when he hit her.
Suddenly, unaccountably angry, Angel surged to his feet from where he'd been slouched against the stained brick wall of the alley, from where he'd drained a particularly large and foul-tasting rat of its life blood, and ripped the older man from the crying woman. She was young, closer to eighteen than twenty, a tiny thing in a rain-soaked dress, with big green eyes and flaming red hair that reminded him of a home long abandoned. Her cries had woken him from his stupor. Too many times, he'd been the predator of such young women, before the gypsy's curse. So much blood was on his hands.
The man hurting the girl stood no chance. Even in his pathetic and weakened state, the vampire who'd once terrified Europe was unstoppable for a human. Catching the other man by his collar, Angel picked him up and threw him against the opposite wall, and the primal part of him relished the sound of crunching bone and gasps of pain. He knew, from long centuries of experience, that the man, though still alive, would not be getting back up.
Angel turned to the girl, then, to see how much damage the man had been able to do. Her hair was plastered to her head, some stuck to her cheeks, clinging to her neck and shoulders over the washed out print on her dress, which might as well have been a second skin with how the now pounding rain pressed it against her body. The bruises already blooming across her jaw and cheekbones, along her wrists and hands, spoke to what she'd suffered. He finished his assessment, and then noticed her eyes.
Angel had never been the rescuer, not as Liam, not when he had taken the name Angelus. Always he had used or ignored. Not since he'd stopped assisting his mother with chores had he helped. He had never seen a woman look at him in gratitude before this moment.
His world tipped on its axis, and his perspective changed.
"Thank you, sir." The girl gasped out. She'd wrapped her arms around her torso in a vain effort of warmth, protection, or perhaps modesty. The rain falling so steadily from the sky ensured that all she succeeded in doing was making herself look smaller, more vulnerable.
Moving to take off his own sodden coat, he stopped when he had it off and extended out to her, seeing for the first time how ragged and filthy it was. "It's not much," he said quietly, no longer used to speaking to others, "but it might help you stay a little warmer until we can get you home."
He saw her assessing his offer, saw her assessing him. Angel read her face as she realized that he lived on the street, and that he truly was offering her all he could. A ghost of a smile flitted across her face before she met his eyes. She came to a decision, nodding her head and shyly reaching for the meager protection he was holding.
"Thank you," she said again, this time her voice stronger. "I live just a few streets over, with my husband. I won't have your coat for long." She cautiously came up to him. She was, he noted, tiny; she didn't even clear his shoulder, the top of her head instead coming only to the center of his chest. "I'm Elizabeth Masen."
"Best get you home, Mrs. Masen. Your husband will be worried."