“We can just run!” I said and tried to keep the tears from spilling down my cheeks.
“No, he’ll never let you go. And neither can I.” His face filled with agonized apologies. “But I know that I might not come back from this.”
“No, Jack, this is stupid,” I said through the lump in my throat.
A pain so deep grew inside me, I thought it might kill me. It felt as if the ground had been ripped out from underneath me, and I was free falling into nothingness.
“Alice, you’re worth fighting for,” Jack smiled sadly. “You’re even worth dying for.”
“No!” I tried to fight him, so I could break away from him and stop this suicide mission he had himself set on. “This is stupid! This is the stupidest thing you’ve ever said to me! You’re such a fucking idiot, Jack!”
I hit him as hard as I could, desperate to escape from the strength of his arms, but they were unrelenting. He let me struggle in his arms until I tired myself, and he pressed me against him. I could feel the slow, heavy thud of his heartbeat, and it made me sob.
“Alice, listen to me.” Jack had buried his face in my hair, and his words came out muffled. “He’s not going to stop until he has you, not anymore. He’s finally realized he loves you and…. And I saw you kissing him-”
“No, Jack, I’m sorry!” I sobbed. “It’ll never happen again. I promise! I’ll never-”
“Alice, no. It’s not you. This isn’t to punish you, okay?” His fingers were knotted in my hair, and I could still feel the heavy beat of his heart against mine. “I just know I couldn’t live with that. And you can’t fight it. It’s in your blood.”
“Jack…” I tried to think of an argument to counter that, but there wasn’t one.
He was right. I had been fighting the way I felt about Peter for almost as long as I’d known him, yet somehow we had ended up in an embrace when Jack walked in.
Jack moved so he looked me in the face, but he kept his hands strong on my arms, in case I would decide to bolt and spoil his ridiculous plan.
I knew what he was saying almost made sense. He wanted to fight Peter for me, and there wasn’t any other way to reason with him. I could follow that logic right up until the point that one of them would die.
That’s the only conclusion that Jack could come to. One of them had to die, and I knew there had to be something else.
“Alice, I just need to make sure you’re okay,” he said thickly.
“I’ll never be okay without you,” I cried, and he winced at that, but recovered quickly.
“That’s not what I meant. I have to go back out there, and if something happens-”
“We can run away. Don’t go back out there. Then you’ll always know I’m safe!” I interrupted him, but his mind was already made up.
“If something happens, I don’t think he’ll hurt you, but I need to know that you’ll be safe,” he said, and I saw tears forming in his eyes, which only made me cry harder. “I need to know that no matter what, you have a long happy life!”
“You’re not listening, Jack. I will never be happy without you!”
“Please, Alice, for me.” He was begging me now. “I want you to turn.” He must’ve heard something because he glanced back at the door nervously, and when he looked back at me, he was even more insistent.
“What? No! You expect me to live forever without you? No!” I shook my head fiercely, revolted by the idea.
“Alice…” He leaned his forehead against mine and breathed in deeply. “I love you so much. Please. Just do this one thing for me.”
“If you love me, I don’t know how you can even ask me that,” I said.
Without warning, he bit into his wrist and tore open the skin. The room was filled with the intoxicating scent of his blood, and suddenly, his heart beat became palpable.
I had never felt thirst before, not like that, but something about his blood triggered this very animal hunger inside of me. Since he’d bitten me, his blood had become everything to me. He knew as soon as he opened his veins, I wouldn’t deny him.
Pressing his wrist to my mouth, his blood tasted nothing like I had remembered blood tasting. It was sweeter than honey, and flowed like wine down my throat, burning with thrilling warmth. Before it even hit my stomach, an intense pleasure exploded inside me, making my vision blur into white and everything about me felt alive for the first time.
I felt his love flow through me, pure and unadulterated. Even when he had been biting me, I hadn’t felt it like this. Drinking his blood was drinking him, and while so much about him was loving me, everything about him was love.
He only tasted of kindness and innocence and boundless happiness. The worst things he had ever done he had done because I had driven him to it. I was the worst thing that had ever happened to him, and yet he loved me more perfectly and more eternally than anything he had ever loved before.
When he pulled his arm from me, I stumbled backwards. I would’ve fallen if he hadn’t caught me, and fresh tears burned hot down my face. The room spun, and I felt disoriented and dizzy.
The after effects of drinking his blood made me feel like I was incredibly intoxicated, complete with nausea and confusion, and I knew it was only a matter of time before I passed out.
His arms felt strong and safe around me as he laid me down on the couch. There was something different in his expression, in his face, and I realized belatedly I had weakened him. Going into the biggest fight of his life, Jack had the horrible disadvantage of being weaker than ever before.
“Oh, no, Jack! You’re so weak! I’ve killed you!”
“No, Alice, I’m fine.” He brushed the hair back from my face, and I rested my hand on his. He was lying to me. If he walked out of the door and fought with Peter, he would die, and we both knew it.
“Jack… I love you!” I told him fiercely. He was going to leave no matter what I said, so I decided to use my time the best I could. “You were always the one I loved. It was always you.”
“I know,” Jack forced a smile, and even though I was fighting it, my eyes shut. His lips press warmly against my eyelids, and I felt a tear splash on my cheek.
I wanted to say more, and I really tried, but nothing came out. Epic blackness settled over me, but just before everything went completely blank, I heard the sound of hell breaking loose just outside the door.