I was lost.. gone. I didn't know who I was anymore. What I was doing, How I got here, none of it...
Everything seemed fine. I am going through life as I normally do, calmly. Dealing with and regulating the emotions that surround me. However it's been more difficult to do so lately, as I have not fed in a very long time. Starving myself if you will. The last battle had been so devastating, we'd taken many losses. I'd come home with so many injuries, a huge loss on my shoulders. I couldn't bare it, the guilt, the loss of confidence, the loss of my pride. María had not been worried. Though she'd accumulated a few injuries herself, she was still hopeful of the next battle and already planning it out. How ready she always was for the next step. She always had to be prepared for anything. No set back was ever too big for her. It was quite admirable. Me on the other hand, was less enthusiastic. I'd felt the loss, the depression from everyone -the ones that remained- around me, the quaking of once strong and proud soldiers with high levels of self-assurance. I'd wanted to help them regain their confidence. However, I too had been under the weight of feelings of deep helplessness.
I hadn't thought it was so bad until I realized that I wasn't feeding at all, and couldn't bring myself to. It didn't bother me at first. I just busied myself with work, helping the newborn soldiers recover, creating new ones to substitute the losses, planning with María. Talking with and spending all my time with María away from everything else. I drowned myself in her, and she began to notice something was off with me. After a few days of hovering so close to her, she finally asked me what was up, why I was acting strange. I decided to tell her the truth, she'd know if I was lying for she knew me all too well. I'd told her I'd been feeling a little unbalanced after the last battle. She looked at me for a solid minute before she got closer and pulled me into a hug bringing my head to rest against her chest. Her fingers streaking through my hair as she spoke to me. Reassuring me that I was still an amazing second, an amazing man and that I could bring us back from this. I stayed with her in that position for the rest of the night just talking.
"Don't worry mí major, soon we shall come back from this, stronger, better, faster. We fall and we rise again. You taught me that, and I believe in you." She said smiling down at me. She'd always had more faith in me than I ever did in myself.
I'll admit, it helped some, but I still couldn't find it in myself to eat, and I started feeling the effects, or should I say, consequences of it. It felt as if I was slowly losing my mind. I started feeling angrier, less in control of my emotions. My reflexes were faster, I was stronger. I reacted viciously to the smallest thing. I'd tore the limbs off of two fighting newborns and hid them where they couldn't find them for a week. A poor and unfortunate newborn had to face my wrath after walking up behind me and startling me by tapping my shoulder. She wasn't small by any means, she was nearly as big as I was; but the way I lifted her over my head with ease made her look like a mouse. I'd brought her down on my knee breaking her in half. After realizing what I'd done, I ran away, not bothering to put her back together. I ran and ran until I hit the borders of our territory. I stayed away for days still refusing to eat, I tried pushing myself to eat anything at all but every single time I began my hunt, I subconsciously backed out. I didn't know what was wrong with me. Why I couldn't get over this loss and why I was punishing myself by not eating over it. Had I lost that much faith and strength in myself? That much confidence in being capable to do tasks that I simply couldn't feed and sustain myself? I'd gone nearly insane by the time I'd gone back to base, and that's when it happened.
I lost it..
I don't know how it happened, when it happened, or even what caused it. I didn't find the answers to these questions until I'd finally fed and was back in control of my mind and my body again. I had completely blacked out and when I came to, nothing could ever top the amount of pure horror and devastation of what lay before me. Everything had been destroyed besides the barn that housed our inside training grounds, aside from some holes in the walls that needed work and couple of broken posts, the barn was still left standing; but that was the only thing besides me that was left standing. Everyone else inside lay on the ground lifeless, as lifeless as vampires can look anyway. There was blood strewn everywhere and I realized there had been humans present in this. A couple of torn limbs twitched about as I looked at the faces of nearly everyone I've known for months and some of the new recruits I'd changed. The sight sickened me. I couldn't believe what happened here.
"Who could have done this?!" I asked myself out loud.
"I'll kill them!" I shout in rage.
I looked around, sniffing the air for any unfamiliar scents in the area, pushing out my gift to get a feel of any other emotions beside my own, when I realized there were none I sighed taking a look down at my clothes. I was covered in a mix of venom and blood, in my own hand held the finger that belonged to one of the bodies lying before me. I froze. I could smell all of the scents of everyone in this room heavily covering my body.
I was the one who had done this… I felt my knees buckle but I held on staying strong. I gazed all around, staring at the open mouths and shocked eyes of the ones I'd destroyed. They weren't on fire so they could be saved. That reassured me only the tiniest bit, but the fact that I had done this, and to my own team. It was the ultimate betrayal; but that was not what really broke me. That was not what truly made my stomach turn and made me want to run out the door and throw myself into a fire. The thing that really shattered my resolve, truly traumatized my psyche was a particular scent that wafted through my nose that belonged to one person and one person only, the most important person in my entire existence.
The moment I smelled her scent, her venom on my clothes I broke out of my stoic trance that kept me standing in place.
"No! no. no. no."
I began to chant as I searched for her following her scent through the pile of limbs and torsos. I grew more and more frustrated as I could not find any piece of her and I realized that because blood and venom were strewn all over the place inside this barn so was everyone's scent so it was useless to try and search for her that way. However being in such a frantic state I continued my ridiculous search, growing more and more frustrated as I came up with nothing. Until I heard a faint cough. My head snapped towards the direction the sound came from. My hardened, desperate face turning into that of relief and sorrow.
There she lay, a little further away from the rest of the bodies, horribly mutilated and almost completely dismembered except for a few limbs still attached. I am at her side in less than a second. Lifting the top half of her body into my arms.
"María! María, please speak to me! Please!" I cry.
Her half opened eyes are looking me directly in the face. She slightly opens her mouth and tries to say something but I cannot make out what it is.
"J-Ja-... it-.. o-o-"
"It's okay María" I cut her off. "It's gonna be okay I'm gonna help you, I'm gonna take care of you I promise!"
She tries to speak some more but I just shush her pushing her hair out of her face and stroking it. It was difficult to look her in the eyes, but even more difficult to look away. How could I have done this?! How could I have hurt her?! Had I really lost all control? María, laying in my arms. Her body, ripped apart. She stares up at me, but I didn't see hate nor anger in her expression, I didn't feel it in her emotions either. Instead what I saw, what I felt shocked me. I saw understanding I felt her acceptance. It was almost as if she was trying to tell me that she wasn't pissed off at me, that she didn't blame me for this terrible accident. I half smiled down at her.
"I'm gonna help you okay? You're gonna be just fine angel, I promise you that." I told her, determined as ever to help her recover.
Just then the doors to the barn slammed open and in walks someone I'd completely forgotten about up until now. Peter. following after him, of course, came Charlotte and a bunch of newborns. They were talking about the hunt they'd all went on before stopping at the scene in front of them. I suddenly remembered him announcing that he and Charlotte were taking a few newborns out for a meal before everything went black. I sighed in relief, a little placated at the fact that I hadn't destroyed everyone; but that relief disappeared as fast as it came as I looked back down to María. The poor thing. I'd never seen her like this. So weak and broken.. it truly hurt something deep inside me to know that I'd caused this for her.
"What happened here?!" Peter yells.
"Who did this?!" Charlotte asks.
"Major, do you need me to run the land? I'll find the bastards who did thi-"
"That won't be necessary." I say lowly, cutting Peter off, my eyes glued to María's near lifeless form. Her eyes were beginning to roll into the back of her head.
"What do you mean it's not necessary?! Look at this! Whatever monster did this must pay!"
"I DID IT PETER!" I scream standing up. "I did all of this! I don't know how, I don't know why, all I know is that I woke up from some sort of trance and everyone was lying here with their blood and venom splattered everywhere! All over me! I'm the monster.." I say anguish thick in my voice. Everything goes silent for a long time before peter speaks up again.
"What do you need me to do Jasper? Do you need to feed?" He asks.
"No, it seems I've already done that, finally.." I say nodding over to the three dead humans in the corner. Peter nods his solemn eyes surveying the entire floor, his eyes stop at María, who was half hidden from their sight by my body, and a soft gasp sounds from his mouth. Charlotte follows peters stare and upon catching what he's looking at she covers her mouth, horror in her eyes. They both look up at me, watching, waiting for me to say anything about their terrified faces. I say nothing..
Charlotte makes a move to get over to her and I quickly throw my hand out.
"No!" I shout. "I've got her.."
Peter pulls Charlotte back to his side.
"Are you sure you have her Major, because we can hel-"
"Positive." I cut him off again, not taking my eyes off of the tiny brunette lying below me. She looked like a broken porcelain doll just laying there.
"Just.. clean this up, put everyone back together and heal their wounds, but don't let them leave.." I command, bending down preparing to lift María up. I place some of her detached limbs on top making sure they're secure before hoisting her entire body high into my arms and sprinting away to the farm house that housed Maria's quarters. I burst into the house, and run up the stairs into her room. I gently lay her down on the bed that sits to the far back of the extremely spacious room and lay out the limbs that aren't attached to her body, which consists of her right leg, her left arm, one ear, and her right hand. I rip off her clothes and toss them behind me. My eyes rove over her body as I asses any and all wounds she may have acquired. I find a couple bites all along her torso, shoulder and neck. I flip her over and find a long scratch running down her back. I cover my mouth, muffling a sound of pure devastation at what I've done. I flip her back over and I look her in the eyes.
"Oh María, my darling. I'm so sorry. I'm so very sorry. I don't know how this happened but I swear on my life that I will fix it! I will take care of you for the rest of my days. I will make sure you're happy and healthy and that no harm ever comes to you from my hand ever again do you hear me? You're going to be okay mí morena."
I watch her face for anything, any feeling any movement. She starts twitching her mouth. I believe she's trying to say something. The sight is so heartbreaking I have to stop her. I press a finger to her lips.
"Whatever you have to tell me, please do so when you can speak and are in a lot less pain sweetheart. Don't exert yourself right now. Just try to rest.."
She sends me acceptance and understanding again as a way of saying "Okay." but I also felt a hint of something else in her emotions. It was hard to make out at first but when I began to focus on it, it became clearer and what I felt nearly made me balk.
I felt love.
I look down at her in shock but then my expression morphs into that of knowing. I look into her eyes, love coloring my entire face. Her face turns into that of confusion. She doesn't seem to know that I felt it from her or why I am looking at her like that. I stop the staring and begin to work. I pick up her leg and begin prepping it for reattachment. She watches me. I lick the part where her leg is supposed to combine with the body, her sweet venom coating my tongue. I line the leg up with the area making sure it's precise to get the least amount of scaring possible and then I look up at her. We both know this is going to hurt, a lot. So I don't even mention it. I just lean forward and place a soft kiss to her lips. I look back down and begin the application of her leg to her body. I can hear the venom and her leg attaching itself to her. She whimpers but as I apply more pressure she begins to scream. I want to shut my eyes and ears but I can't. I have to focus. I hate hearing her scream in such pain, It breaks me inside but it must be done.
After the leg is properly attached I seal it with a little more of my venom. I quickly move onto the next part so that we can be done and over with this. I don't want to prolong this any longer than I have to. For every piece of her that I reattach I place a small kiss to her lips as a way of apology for the pain I've caused. Every scream that rips through her throat tears my heart just a little more. I quickly finish reattaching all of her limbs and move on to healing her injuries. I place my fingers into my mouth coating it with my venom and running it over all the bites that plagued her body. She flinched each time my fingers rubbed my only healing solution into her wounds. I was using a lot of my venom to help start the healing process but I didn't care. I would use all the venom in my body if it meant I could help her. She's everything to me. I would never allow her to just suffer. Finally, I turn her over and stare at the long scratch snaking down her back. It sure was a sight to see. It started from just below the back of her neck and went all the way down to right above her waist. Instead of repeatedly wetting my finger and rubbing it all in going along the line I decided to use my tongue and trace a long trail of venom along the scar. She tensed and whined and whimpered as I went along but I figured that would be the fastest way to get it over with. I turned her back over and got comfortable. It felt so good to see her whole again. It was best to wait a while for her limbs to completely integrate itself back into her body. It shouldn't take long, maybe about an hour to allow everything to settle and she should be good to try and move about. It may still hurt but at least it'll be permanently attached. She turned her head to look at me. We stared at each other for a long while before I spoke up.
"You're going to be just fine María.." I reassured her stroking her cheek with the back of my gave a weak smile.
"I.. I kn-know." She replied.
I smiled. She was able to speak a lot better now there was a bit of a stutter but that was probably due to the amount of pain she was still experiencing. It should go away in a while. She was healing well, I was glad.
"María I.. you don't know how sorry I am-" I began but she shook her head which made me stop.
"s-stop.. apologizing. It's n-not.. yo-your fault." She clenched her eyes shut. Grimacing in pain.
"What's bothering you the most?" I asked, watching her closely.
"I'm so sorry." I get closer to her body and lean down placing a soft kiss to her head. Her gratitude floods the emotional air surrounding us. Her way of saying "thank you." I kiss her lips and whisper "you're welcome María." She grins at me, closing her eyes I see her body relax a little more into the bed. "I'm going to let you rest off your injuries, they should be healed in about an hour. I am going to go and check on Peter and the rest." I tell her as I make my way to the door.
"n-no!" I hear her choke out. I turn back around and look at her.
"p-please stay.. please."
I stare at her with a dumbfounded expression. María was never the type to show such emotion, much less the type to beg. She never needed or wanted anyone's company. So for her to just randomly yell for me to stay with her was.. shocking. It really let me know she was probably suffering mentally as well as physically and didn't want to be alone. Maria always hated being vulnerable in any way. I assume she wouldn't feel all too safe being left alone hardly able to move or help herself. This assumption is proved correct after I sit on the bed and feel a strong sense of safety rolling off her in waves. It warmed me inside knowing she felt so safe with me, even after what I had done, she still believed in me and my abilities. She still wanted me around. A warm smile broke through my lips.
"I'm here María." I say soothingly.
"pp-promise?" she asks me looking into my eyes pleadingly. I lay down right next to her and place my arm over her midsection.
"I promise" I answer kissing her forehead. "Now please rest." I tell her, soothing her further. She closes her eyes and turns her head into my shoulder taking a deep breath as she relaxes.
I lay there watching her rest, listening to her take random deep breaths, probably trying to soothe herself I presume. A million things start to run through my mind, as I lay there thinking about everything. Losing that battle, starving myself, feeling myself becoming more violent yet still not being able to eat because of my depression at my loss, destroying nearly all of my army, and worst of all, hurting María. I don't know how I could ever do such a thing. I look down at her, she looks so small, so fragile.. it kills me inside knowing that I almost killed her. What if I'd went a step further and built fire? What if a fire had already been going when I went nuts? My mind ran through all the possible scenarios and just the thought of them made me sick to my stomach. I could never, would never let her die like that. I try to focus on her but I can't stop my mind from going back to the "What ifs". What if this happens again? What if I lose it again? I can't hurt her like this twice. I watch for any signs of pain that may cross her face. They occur, but are few and far in between and I help when needed.
It takes two hours before she moves again, opening her eyes. She looks at me and then around the room.
"Feeling any better?" I ask. her eyes move back to mine.
"Much." She answers.
"Would you like to take a bath?" I implore.
She only nods.
I stand up from the bed and hold my hand out. She grabs my hand and I hook my arms under her legs sweeping her off her feet as I make my way to the bathroom.
"You know that I can walk now right? My leg should be healed by now.." she says giving me a weird look.
"I know; but I feel like I owe you so.."
I set her on the counter before leaning over the tub and running the water, I make sure to place some essential oils and scents into the water because I know that's what she likes. I turn to her as the bath fills. She's looking down fiddling with her fingers. I walk over to her and grab her hands and she looks up at me.
"What?" I ask, curious about the look on her face.
"I don't blame you.." she says, her voice very soft and low. I immediately know what she's referring to. I knew she didn't, from her emotions I'd felt when I'd found her earlier. I'd been meaning to ask her about it, about why she wasn't upset with me.
"Because I understand all too well Jasper.. I've seen it happen to a lot of people.. even me."
I looked at her in disbelief, as long as I've known her I couldn't imagine her, as controlled as she was, losing it like that.
"So, you really aren't angry with me?" I ask. She gave a soft laugh.
"Believe me, if I was angry you'd be dead by now. In fact, I was a little upset at first but then I realized that I couldn't be too angry because I'd been in the same position and had acted the same way."
I nodded as walked back to the tub bending over and stopping the water. I turned around and María had hopped down from the counter and had already begun stripping herself of her clothes.
"Do you uh, want me to leave you to it?" I asked cautiously making sure I didn't look at her body.
"No, not really.." she answered casually.
"Well, I kinda thought you'd want a little, 'you time'." I implore.
She looks down before she speaks.
"Well, I thought maybe.. you could bathe with me.. like we do after really big battles.."
The fact that she wanted to bathe with me warmed my heart a little.
"Of course I'll get clean with you." I said beginning to undress myself.
I sit in the tub first getting comfortable before extending my arms motioning for her to follow and sit in front of me. She climbs in and settles between my legs facing me sighing softly as the water hits her body. She leans into me laying her head on my chest. We laid there for a minute just relaxing in the water. I looked down at her and saw her face scrunched up in what looked like confusion. She seemed to be in deep thought. I could feel it in the air.
"What's on your mind?" I asked her snapping her from her trance.
"You." She answers.
"What about me?"
"I don't understand, Why didn't you end me? Take over my army? Control my territory? The power was right there… and you let it go. Why?" She asked looking up at me.
I didn't know how to answer her question. I leaned my head back and thought it through. Why did I not take over? I could have, the perfect opportunity was right there as she said. I could have burned everyone in that barn or just burned María and put all the newborns back together and took control. I could have been in charge of everything. It would be my territory, my army, and my blood.. but I didn't. Why? Because I have feelings for her? Maybe.. but why should I have feelings for her? She brought me into this life and we certainly haven't had the best moments but; over time, we've grown closer. She's practically the only person I've come to know and trust besides Peter. I've known her longer than anyone, she's never betrayed me or left me behind. I've seen her vulnerable side one rare occasions. I know she's not as cold as she makes herself to be. I know that deep inside she has heart, she has capacity for love. Maybe that's why I can't kill her. Because I know her, she's my creator, we've had many deep conversations about all sorts of things. I see her humanity, her potential to be better than she was yesterday. I was so devastated upon seeing what I had done to her that I nearly broke. Killing her would truly feel like murder, i don't think I've ever completely admitted it to myself before but.. I love her, and surprisingly, I wasn't even upset at that thought, in fact I felt.. warm. Like I'd finally come to terms with something I knew was there for a long time already. It felt freeing. I looked down at her and reached my hand out and stroke her cheek.
"Because killing you would be unnecessary. It would render everything around us pointless. I would be in this all alone and I, I just can't imagine hurting you like that, because killing you would hurt me too. You're… special to me."
She stares at me for a long while before she speaks.
"Yes, we've been together for so long, we've been through so much.. you've shown me sides of you I've never thought even existed. We've stuck together through any and everything, faced against all sorts of enemies and opponents and so much more... María, you are special to me.."
She looked as if she was about to cry.
"Jasper… I haven't had anyone feel such things about me in so long… so very long I-" she was getting a little choked up.
"Shhh, it's alright María" I say rubbing her back soothing her. She lays her head back on my chest.
"I know I'm not the best person.."
"I'm not either.. no ones perfect, but that doesn't mean we can't grow together.. that we can't be ourselves together.. just because you're broken and I'm broken doesn't mean we don't deserve love, and who better to receive love than from someone who understands? From someone similar? I want this María.."
Her eyes wandered up to mine. Her face seemed deeply troubled as if she was deciding on what to say next.. then as if she'd come down to a decision she sat up and faced me.
"I want this too Jasper.."
Her mouth formed a smile as we looked each other in the eyes. It was the softest, most genuine smile I'd ever seen grace her face and she looked utterly breathtaking at that moment. I couldn't help but smile back, her smile was so contagious.
"I love your smile." I tell her as I begin to wash her hair. Her smile grows.
"I love you." She responds and the emotions that overtake me and fill the room is something straight out of a fairytale. I can't do anything but smile.
"I love you too María." I say meaning every word.
We continue our bath in a comfortable silence. After I finish washing her hair, I wet a washcloth adding soap and begin washing her body. She watches my every move as I travel all over her body, working up a nice lather. The calming, soothing emotions that surround us putting us both in a lovely daze.
After we finish getting ourselves clean and dressed, I help her down to the barn where we meet up with Peter. I take a look at all the surroundings. Everyone seems to have been put back together but their fear rises as they one by one begin to notice my presence. I subdue the growing levels of terror to a quiet caution.
"At ease soldiers! I am fine, no harm will come to you." I announce.
They all relax slightly as they hear the reassuring tone in my voice however they are still on edge as any newborn would be.
"They'll be fine." Peter says, "How is everything?" He asks. He worded the question casually but I knew what he was referring to.
"She's going to be just fine.." I answer watching as she spoke to Charlotte about something I could not hear.
"So.. what stopped you from.. ya know.. killing her?"
I turned to him, a dead expression on my face, I could tell from his emotions and the look on his face that he immediately regretted asking that question; but I answered anyway.
"I don't really know why.. I just couldn't bear the thought of harming her any further, or never seeing her alive again.. it's as if something in my subconscious was stopping me from doing it, even when I had no control of myself at the moment, I couldn't finish it, not against her."
He just looked at me, he didn't implore any more, probably guessing it was something I didn't want to talk any more about. He gave me an update on the newborns, the rival army and the borders of our territory before leaving with Charlotte to their own quarters. Before exiting the barn I caught him glancing at me with a knowing look. I ignored it and walked to María. She was looking at a drawn out map at a table in the corner of the barn I wrapped my arms around her, she tensed before completely relaxing in my arms.
"I see you're back into your element." I say nuzzling my face into her hair. Inhaling the sweet scent of apple.
"Why yes, minor setbacks will never stop me from my work. There are a lot of things at stake. As long as my opponents are at work then I will be too."
"Hmm maybe you work a little too much." I say planting a soft kiss to the top of her head.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, even with the losses and devastation we took last time, we have rebuilt ourselves a lot faster and a lot better than our opponents. From what I hear from peter they still have not even replaced their lost soldiers. It will take a while before they work themselves back up to be some sort of threat again. So, why don't we take a little time to ourselves?" I suggest, as I begin to sway with her.
"Hmm, perhaps you're right.." she says turning in my arms facing me. "Maybe we should take a little.. vacation." She smiles leaning up, kissing my lips. I grin.
"I like the way you think.."