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Twilight Fic: Singing in the Dead of Night 3/4

July 2nd, 2010 (02:08 pm)

 

Notes in Chapter One.

Chapter Two

CHAPTER THREE

Patience was a virtue for the undead.

Cold blooded and immortal, vampires had all the time in the world to sit and pine, to contemplate and plan. One night wasn't even a drop in the bucket to those blood sucking freaks.

Wolves, on the other hand, didn't really understand the concept. It just wasn't in their DNA. They ran hot and hotter, with the only settings in life being on and on some more.

So the fact that Jacob had lasted a few hours before concocting an escape plan was actually pretty admirable. His restraint was kind of unparalleled, even he had to give himself some credit there. Maybe he was growing up a bit after all.

But the fact was, the night was going to be too long. Not just for Jacob's withering pride, but for Seth. The kid wasn't getting any better, and Jacob knew it. He had a wet sound about his breathing now, and despite the goosebumps on the kids arms and chest, he was swathed with sweat. The wound had stopped bleeding against, but it was leaking pus now, the raw edges of the wound darkening until Seth's entire lower leg was discolored.

Broken leg or not, Jacob couldn't just sit on his haunches and do nothing.

Doing something, however, was a bit trickier than he'd expected. And a lot more daunting.

But since when did that stop him?

The decision was made. With a look at Seth, he tried to smile. "You think you'd like to blow this joint?" he asked. "I don't know about you, but I'm finding these accommodations less than stellar. Even sleeping at the Cullens with all that smell is better than this."

Seth didn't respond, but snuffled slightly in his sleep before lapsing back into stillness.

"But you like it there," Jacob reminded him. "I think maybe your nose is defective."

He laughed at his own joke.

"Anyway," he said, his laugh cutting off abruptly. "I guess we may as well see how this goes. And hey, if it's an epic failure, at least we can't get any worse off, right?"

Though, truth be told, Jacob knew he probably shouldn't test fate. If not for his sake, then for Seth's.

Then again, Seth was the reason he had to try.

Girding himself, Jacob used the wall of the hole, pulling himself to standing. He balanced for a second on one leg. With a deep breath, he touched his injured leg to the ground experimentally.

The pain was expected, but that didn't make it all that much easier. It was sharp, overriding his consciousness with an uncompromising force, moving straight to his head and blocking everything else out.

But he fought through it. Clinging to his purpose, he clenched his eyes shut, swallowing hard against the pain.

It took a long moment--really long--but it passed.

He was standing, albeit tentatively, on both feet.

With a couple of quick breaths, Jacob let himself relish that accomplishment.

After another few breaths, he cast his gaze upward again, gauging the task ahead.

He had to grimace just at the thought. The hole was still deep--probably ten feet. He'd never be able to jump for it like this, but if he could leverage himself up into the narrowing by the opening, he'd be able to climb up by pressing his back against one end and his feet against the other. It would be an awkward position, and probably pretty precarious, but it could work.

Assuming, of course, his leg held up.

He looked down, trying to get a visual on his leg in the dimness. It was still a bloody mess from the initial injury, but it was a dry mess. It looked morbid, but Jacob knew it wasn't quite that bad.

Still bad, though. It had closed, but the wound was still vivid red and raised. Inside, though his leg was technically supporting some of his weight, it still hurt. He had no way of knowing how far along the healing was--how long did it take to heal a bone anyway? Six weeks for humans? Was that a six hour thing for wolves? Six days?

Waiting six days was out, and Jacob couldn't be sure but they had to be pushing six hours.

Six long hours. But for as long as they had been for him, they'd been longer for Seth.

The kid was still out, limp on the ground. He thought of the rest of the pack at the party. It would still be going, bonfire raging. Quil might have left to be with Claire, but Embry and Leah would have stuck it out. The other pack, too. It was a celebration. A year of peace. Most of the tribe didn't even know what they were celebrating. They just knew that it had been a year of blessings, a prosperous year. The young were thriving. The old were crowned with glory. The tribe was flourishing.

If Seth had been there, that could still be true.

But no. Seth was here, with Jacob. If Seth had just let him run the route alone, if the kid had just listened...

If nothing. Seth had wanted to come. He'd volunteered to come. As a favor to Jacob. To keep him company. No one should have to celebrate alone.

Jacob wasn't alone, that was true, but he wasn't celebrating. That didn't change the fact that Seth just had a good heart. A good mind. The kid was too busy putting Jacob on a pedestal to figure out that nine times out of ten, Jacob was just playing it by ear.

Seth trusted him. Seth respected him. It was as damning as it was inspirational. Seth had had the choice between going to the party and running the patrol with Jacob and he'd picked Jacob. Why? Because that was what Seth did.

All the more reason to get him out of there.

The kid trusted him enough to come, so now it was time to be the Alpha Seth believed he was.

Resolved, Jacob looked up again. Crouching, he forced himself to still against the throbbing pain in his leg.

One jump.

He could do this.

He had to do this.

The pain was spiking and Jacob went for it. Pushing off for all he was worth, he jumped, using every ounce of strength and power he had left.

His hands grappled with the dirt, struggling to find purchase. Legs flailing, he worked to position himself, maneuvering as best he could. It was hard to see, but he worked in the dark, muscles straining as he used his arms to pull himself further up. Just a little more and he could use his legs for support, just a little more.

Then, it happened.

His leg made contact with the wall. For a second, he thought he could hold it.

But then the pain hit him with a devastating intensity. He held there for a moment, screaming against it, eyes squeezed shut before his body betrayed him.

His precarious grip gave way, and he fell back. He landed on his back, hard enough to knock the wind out of him, but the impact barely registered in his consciousness.

His awareness ebbed and flowed, pulsing through him with every beat of his heart. Jacob didn't know how long it took for awareness to return to him, but it filtered back in by degrees. First, sensations beyond the pain. The feel of the dirt against his back, the small stone poking at his right shoulder.

Then, hearing. The night sounds. Insects in the woods.

Last, sight. He was staring up at the hole, a curved picture frame for the freedom he was so close to but couldn't have. The salvation Seth needed but was out of reach still. Rolling his head to the side, Seth was still there, just as Jacob had left him. Unconscious and pale, totally oblivious to Jacob's plight.

No, not his plight.

His failure.

That was what it was. Failure, plain and simple. All his planning, all his efforts, and he failed Seth still. So much for the almighty Alpha.

It was a bitter thought, and Jacob couldn't watch the kid any more. He turned his head back toward the night, closing his eyes against the sting of tears.

A hot tear escaped and he didn't have the energy to wipe it away. Seth wouldn't see it anyway, and that was the point.

He had the sudden urge to sob, but it was a luxury he would not indulge in. He didn't deserve it.

Instead, he kept his eyes shut and controlled his breathing, clinging to his pain, his failure, until it all slipped away.

-o-

He was...shivering?

Jacob couldn't remember shivering. He didn't even think it was possible.

But he was shaking all the same. Fine tremors, up and down his body. Definitely shivering.

The thing was, though, he wasn't cold. Not even a little. In fact, he was hot--hotter than usual, as if that were possible.

Shivering and overheated. All these pieces weren't quite clicking, which meant...

He needed to remember something else. Something about a hole and a broken leg and Seth--

That thought jerked him awake, gasping into awareness. The forward motion jarred his leg and bent over with pain, reaching for it with ragged motions.

He really needed to start timing this crap better.

It passed, though, fading into a manageable distant throbbing. When it was under control, he opened his eyes.

He was still in the hole. The moonlight illuminated the cave in parts, and Jacob recalled his wayward attempt to escape. Wayward and failed.

Jacob sighed, looking over to Seth. The kid was shivering, which was no surprise. His skin looked waxy in the moonlight, sweat glinting off his exposed skin, wetting his hair.

What was a surprise, however, was that Seth's eyes were open, staring right at him.

Jacob smiled. All things considered, seeing Seth awake was a good thing. "How you feeling there, kid?" he asked.

Seth's gaze didn't waver; his eyes didn't blink.

Something twinged in Jacob. He swallowed convulsively, inching closer and lowering his head to get in Seth's line of vision. "Seth?" he asked again, a little louder this time.

Finally, Seth blinked, a long slow motion, his pupils dilating slightly as they focused on Jacob. There was a brief flash of recognition, then the kid wet his lips. He took a heaving breath, an almost drunken smile spreading over his face. "Jacob?"

"Yeah," Jacob said, working to keep the tremor from his voice. "How you doing there?"

A peaceful expression passed over Seth's face, eyes taking a dreamy look. "Pretty good," he answered carefully, but his voice was soft and tripped over the words. "It's kind of nice out here."

Alarm bells were sounding in Jacob's head and it was everything he could do to keep from panicking right then and there. Something was wrong--very wrong--much more wrong than before. He moved a hand, gently brushing it across Seth's brow and flinching from the heat. "I'm glad you're feeling better then," he offered tightly.

Seth nodded a bit. "Can't even feel it anymore," he said. "I'm thinking it was just a dream. I have lots of dreams these days."

"Yeah?" Jacob asked. He moved carefully around, closer to Seth's leg. "What kind of dreams have you been having? And we all know about the recurring one about Alice."

Seth actually giggled a little. "She's pretty."

It took some work to get in a position where he was close enough to see Seth's foot without blocking the meek light. But he didn't miss a beat in the conversation. "She smells, man. And you give her a headache."

"She loves Jasper, anyway," Seth said with a small sigh. "Still pretty, though."

Jacob couldn't really argue that point, even if he wanted to. "We need to find you a nice human girl to hang around with," he suggested. "Bella might still have some friends from school."

"Nah," Seth said.

Finding a decent position, Jacob was moving closer to look at the wound. "What? You too good for mere mortals?" he asked.

Seth shuddered a little when Jacob's hand touched his leg above the trap. "Why would they want me?" he asked.

Jacob's brow creased. The wound looked worse--the discoloration had spread almost all the way past Seth's knee. Below the wound, though, was even worse. Mottled and swollen, it looked horrific. "What's not to want?" Jacob made himself ask. "Chicks dig the exotic thing we've all got going on."

"Just a kid," Seth returned regretfully. "Got to stop tripping over my own feet, first."

Funny Seth should mention that. Jacob's fingers went tentatively to the swollen foot, expecting to find it hot.

But when he touched it, he was shocked by how cold it was.

Jacob couldn't help it; he cursed. Seth was losing circulation to his foot. He didn't need to be a doctor to know that that was all kinds of bad. If he didn't get the trap off Seth and soon, the kid might lose his foot.

"Something wrong?" Seth asked, and he raised his head to try to see Jacob better.

Jacob shook his head quickly, trying to keep it together. "No, no," he said. "So you're really feeling better, huh?"

Seth nodded, seemingly satisfied at Jacob's assurance. His gaze wandered away. "Can't feel much of anything. Like I don't even have legs anymore. Kind of crazy. Like I could fly. I mean we can do a lot as wolves, but we can't fly. Flying would be kind of fun, don't you think?"

Jacob felt his jaw tremble. He forced his eyes closed. "Yeah," he agreed. "It'd be pretty awesome, man."

Seth sighed a little. "Maybe you guys, though," he said. "You can do anything, Jake."

Jacob opened his eyes, finding Seth looking at him, wide eyed and serious.

"You and the pack," he said. "The pack always goes on."

"Yeah, maybe we can all try it together," Jacob said. "Maybe skydiving. That looks like a thrill."

"You should," Seth told him. "Tell me you will."

Jacob's smile was wobbly. "Sure," he said. "We'll set a date. We'll all go together."

Seth's face fell a little. "You don't need me," he said. "The pack can go, though. It'll be fun. Promise me you'll go, Jake. Promise..."

Seth's focus wavered, eyelids falling heavily. His body slackened, and Jacob could hear the kid's heart miss a beat.

Panicked, Jacob scrambled back toward Seth's side, ignoring the pain in his leg when it sparked. "Together, man," Jacob said. He put a shaking hand on Seth's cheek, tilting it toward him. "We'll do it together."

Seth's eyes were distant again, his breathing stunted.

"Seth," Jacob said insistently. "Seth."

But Seth didn't answer. His heart was lurching now, his body loose.

It occurred to Jacob that Seth might lose more than his foot.

Seth could die.

No, Seth was dying.

Seth was dying in a hole and Jacob was just sitting here, watching it happen.

It was a horrifying truth, numbing and encompassing. Seth was fading right before his very eyes and he couldn't do anything.

It was a panic unlike anything he'd ever known, even worse than when he's thought Bella's life was at risk, when the Volturi had come for Nessie. It was worse than anything, the sheer immediacy of it.

From that emotion came something else. Something stronger, something wild. A fierce determination born of frustration, pain, fear, rage, desperation.

He wouldn't let this happen.

He wouldn't.

Jacob barely had the presence of mind to step away from Seth, his body contorting as he phased, vicious and fast. It started in is arms, spreading instantaneously to his chest and head. It hit his legs last--muscles and bones ripping and pulling--and he howled with the intensity of it.

But he couldn't slow down for it. The pain, for as intense as it was, paled in comparison to the emotional weight of the situation. It wasn't even coherent thought anymore, it was just action, pure instinct. Go, go, go, go.

And go, Jacob did.

He cleared the lip of the hole with a single jump, claws scraping at the forest floor as he tried to keep himself from falling. But didn't stop, wouldn't stop, pushed himself harder, breaking into a run.

His leg protested, but he pressed on, reaching a full gallop in the trees. The terrain rose and fell in front of him, familiar yet foreign. But he didn't need a map. He didn't even need a scent to follow.

The night air was crisp, electrifying him as he sprinted. He had never run this fast before; the need had never been this pressing. His heart was pounding, as fast as his feet, pumping him further and faster, faster and farther. The sound of the air whistled in his ears, and he kept low to the ground, streamlining his svelte body as he cut through the night. His field of vision narrowed, focused ahead on the only thing that mattered.

Help.

Now.

Now.

Jacob wasn't even sure of his destination until he got there.

He pulled up short, skidding to a halt, his good leg in front. He bit off a yelp of pain, stumbling to keep his footing from the abrupt stop.

The Cullens' house was quiet, as it usually seemed to be, but there were still lights on. Even if the place was dark, Jacob knew they would still be awake.

And Jacob wouldn't care if they were asleep anyway.

He didn't even phase back--didn't want to waste the time. Instead, he howled loudly, pawing at the ground of their yard, letting the noise take on a desperate, distinguishable keen.

Sucking in air again, he let loose a second time, this one louder than the first, bellowing so loud that it pinged his leg and shook his chest.

He was about to rip a third one from his lungs, when he saw the front door open.

It was Carlisle who came out first, fully dressed and brow furrowed. Esme was at his arm. They stayed by the door, watching him. The vampire couple didn't ask, but the question was in their eyes. By the time Edward arrived to interpret, with Bella in tow, the entire family was on the lawn, looking at him worriedly.

Edward approached him, eyes intent. "Jacob, you must slow down," he said. "You must let me understand."

Bella hovered just behind her husband, her amber eyes deep with concern.

Jacob had to forcibly restrained himself--he wanted to grab them and just pull them. But they could help, he remembered, he had to remember. They could help Seth.

Sitting back on his haunches, his hackles were still raised.

"Jake, you can tell us," Bella chimed in, her voice touched with encouragement.

He had to tell them, but the thoughts wouldn't come to him. Not like he needed them to. Just parsed images. Fragmented pieces. There was too much adrenaline, too much pain. Too much information. Too much everything and not enough of what mattered. Seth. Hurt. Now.

Simple, but enough. The tone would be enough. The vampires knew him well enough for that, they had to.

Edward nodded, patient, understanding. "Carlisle, Bella," he said in an even tone that belied the urgency that Jacob knew he had to feel. "We must run. Jacob will lead us. Esme, Alice, prepare for company."

Simple, to the point. Jacob would have been grateful if he'd known how. The others moved about their assigned tasks without question.

Edward looked back at him, taking a step closer. "We will follow," he said, his eyes carrying the promise with far more weight than his voice ever could. "Take us to him now."

Jacob didn't need to be told twice.

Turning on his heel, he lunged into the woods once again.

-o-

Running wasn't hard for him, not anymore. Maybe there was a time, but he could barely remember. Life before being a werewolf didn't seem real anymore, not really a part of him.

But it was hard now.

His lungs burned, his chest feeling tight, like it was on fire. There wasn't enough oxygen, there was never enough with each inhale that grated harshly in his lungs and when he exhaled, it was a hacking cough that almost made him stumble.

Almost.

He had to run. Faster, faster, faster.

His leg was nearly numb, the feeling almost gone. But somehow he could still feel it, the shafts of healing bone bending against one another, step after step, protesting in vain.

There was no time for pain. When there was time for pain, he'd let it hurt. It could hurt all it wanted, when it was over--when this was over--when Seth was safe.

Seth.

Alone and unconscious in the bottom of a hole. A trap on his leg. Dying.

Dying.

He didn't know he was there until he saw the hole in front of him. Almost too late, and he pulled back ungracefully, almost skidding right over the ledge again.

Which would have been great. Break his leg twice in one night. That would be one for the legends. As if this wasn't enough already.

A hand pulled him back. Ice cold and steady.

The instinct was to snap at it, but he didn't have the energy.

When he looked back, Bella was there. "We can handle this," she said. "Just relax."

Bella was a bad liar. Bella was a vampire. Cold blooded immortals. Invincible. They could handle this.

He nodded his head, whining a bit.

Carlisle and Edward breezed past them, disappearing down the hole. Jacob moved to follow, but Bella's delicate hand was stronger than it had any right to be.

"I told you, we've got this," she said. "You need to rest."

He couldn't hear that, wouldn't hear it. He did the only thing he could, turning huge eyes back to Bella. She was in love with Edward, but she still loved him. Always would, and he knew it. There was only one thing she could say no to when he asked, and this wasn't it.

"Bella, love," Edward's voice came back at them. "We need you."

Bella was out of excuses, and Jacob didn't wait for her to relent. Instead, he limped to the hole, sparing only a second to make sure he wasn't going to crush Seth before he jumped down.

This time, Jacob was prepared for the landing. It still hurt, and he might have allowed himself a whine if he hadn't seen Seth.

His young friend was right where Jacob had left him. It was hard to tell if the kid looked worse, because Jacob knew his own perception was entirely off at this point. Nothing was jiving, everything was a beat off. It was like watching his father's TV when the audio was out of synch with the picture.

Because Carlisle was kneeling over Seth, hands probing, checking, fingering the wound. The doctor's face was twisted grimly as he moved to Seth's chest, placing a steady hand on the sweaty skin, feeling and counting. Seth didn't move except his chest, which rose and fell rapidly. His pale face was lax and empty, colorless lips slightly open, hair plastered across his forehead. Jacob could barely handle it--Seth just looked so young, too young to be here.

Carlisle's expression darkened.

"Do you want it off here or at the house?" Edward asked, and even Jacob knew what the doctor had been thinking.

Bella had landed behind Jacob soundlessly, and she moved past him, standing next to Edward.

Carlisle sighed, thinking just for a moment. "Here," he said, and there was certainty in his voice. "The wound is severely infected. Leaving the trap in place will only exacerbate the infection. Seth's body cannot handle that strain."

Hearing it said so plainly, hearing the diagnosis he'd already known--Jacob had thought that would make it easier. Give him some kind of closure. Make him trust that it could be helped.

Well meaning fantasies, though. Jacob never thought of himself as a dreamer, but he had trailed hopelessly after Bella no matter how many times she insisted she loved Edward. Maybe he had a bit of Don Quixote in him. Fighting windmills and dreaming the impossible dream. In the end, fur and teeth were no more effective in the face of mortality than rusted armor and a broken lance.

Edward was crouched on the far side of Seth, almost pressed against the wall. Bella had moved in across from him. His old rival's face was unreadable, but Bella's was still like an open book to him. This grossed her out. More than that, it scared her.

Bella was no stranger to blood and danger, but this unnerved her.

"You must be careful in removing it," Carlisle advised, and his voice was taut, his face drawn. "Do it quickly, and do not hesitate."

Not just Bella, Carlisle, too. The doctor was the epitome of calm and togetherness. But he was worried. He was worried.

Jacob looked at Seth again. Looked at the closed eyelids. Looked at the unmoving arms. Looked at the gory mess of his leg.

Looked at his responsibility. Looked at his friend. Looked at his failure.

It was shocking and stunning and just too much. He was stuck there, just watching, passively while the others work. Carlisle had one hand on Seth's chest, the other across his brow, his eyes fixed on the kid's face. It was Bella and Edward who were doing the hard work, unnaturally pale hands gripping the trap, pulling, pulling...

The trap groaned, metal parts cinching and giving, but it obeyed and opened.

Faster than Jacob could almost see, Carlisle lifted Seth's foot, extracting it and repositioning it on the ground. Fresh blood marred the wound, and Jacob could see the full extent of the damage once again. Even in the darkness, the discoloration was worse, shades of purple and blue barely muted from horrifying technicolor.

Seth didn't move.

In all of it, the kid didn't move.

Jacob's own leg was alive with pain, and Seth didn't move. Like he didn't feel it. Like he was already...

Carlisle had Seth in his arms in an instant. "We must go--now," he said, and he leapt clear, taking Seth with him.

And like that, Seth was gone. Just that easy. All that Jacob had tried to do all night, they'd done so easily. Within minutes.

The stark contrast was just too mind blowing. He didn't even know what to do. He didn't even know if he could do anything.

It was anticlimactic. It was...

What was it?

Edward paused, meeting Jacob's gaze. "He will be well taken care of," he promised, even if Jacob hadn't realized his own thoughts.

Bella edged closer. "And what about you, Jake?"

He cocked his head, wondering why it mattered.

Edward's face flickered imperceptibly. "We can take care of you as well," he said.

Jacob shook his head. Seth.

Edward smiled. "If you would like to get back of your own volition, perhaps we should go?"

The question confused him.

"Or maybe you would like to be human when this happens," Edward said, like he knew something Jacob didn't. "I will even ask Bella to leave."

That question didn't really make much sense either, but nothing made sense. How he was here. How Seth wasn't. How he had gotten here. How he was getting out.

"Jacob, perhaps...," Edward was saying.

And that was all it took. Jacob had nothing left, nothing to give, nothing to hold back. He let himself go, his body going lax as it phased back. Everything hurt and he couldn't fight what he wasn't in control of and that acceptance was the last thought he had before he passed out.

 

Comments

Posted by: sendintheclowns (sendintheklowns)
Posted at: July 3rd, 2010 12:45 am (UTC)

I love how sweet Jacob is when talking to a delirous Seth. And he managed to get help.

Very action packed and a real nail biter.


Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: July 17th, 2010 12:34 am (UTC)

I am so far behind.

But thank you--I really dig the Jacob and Seth bond, as if it wasn't obvious :)

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