The Last Straw

For two weeks now, SSA Dr. Spencer Reid had been holed up in his apartment, struggling with the crippling guilt and depression left in the wake of Dr. Maeve Donovan’s murder.  His teammates, his friends, had come by and called numerous times, but Spencer couldn’t bring himself to speak to or see anyone.  The weight of his emotions was crushing him, and he was teetering on the edge of a major depressive episode.  He just couldn’t find the will to shower, let alone be babied and face all of the pitying stares.  He knew that his friends were worried and, honestly, they had reason to be.  Spencer had spent much of those two weeks struggling to stay sober.  He craved the sweet numbness he could experience with Dilaudid.  He had worked so hard to get and stay clean, but at this point he was questioning the point of it all.  Was it worth it to stay sober when he felt the way he did?  He had lost the one woman he had ever loved and who truly understood him.  He had wanted to spend the rest of his life with this incredible woman, but that future had been cruelly ripped away from him, and he knew that he would never meet someone more perfectly suited for him.  He heard her voice in his mind and tears ran down his cheeks as he curled into the couch even more, tightly gripping “The Narrative of John Smith” in his arms.

The ringing of his phone jarred him out of his troubled sleep.  He glanced at the phone, and then turned to look at the cover of the book that Maeve had left for him at the restaurant.  He still wasn’t prepared to deal with anyone.

“Hey Reid, it’s Derek.  Listen, I’ve got a work question for you.  The UNSUB is exsanguinating the victims and removing their eyelids ante mortem.  Does that mean anything to you?  Hit me back.”  Spencer listened as the voice of his best friend, SSA Derek Morgan, came through the speakers of his answering machine.  He wrestled with himself.  On one hand he had no desire to speak to anyone, but this was his friend and teammate and they needed his help.  He leaned over the armrest of the couch and grasped the phone’s receiver.

After a short conversation with Derek, Spencer decided to put in a call to SSA Anderson to request the case file.

“Hi Anderson, this is Dr. Reid.  I was wondering if you could possibly bring me the file on the case my team is currently working on,” Spencer asked.  Anderson, while surprised to hear from him, hurriedly agreed and promised to bring it over within the hour.  Deciding that he should at least look mildly presentable, Spencer forced himself to his small bathroom to take a quick shower.

Less than 45 minutes had passed when he heard a knock at his door.  Spencer, clad in brown corduroy pants and a rumpled indigo colored button up, padded to the door and glanced through the peep hole.  Seeing Anderson give a small smile and lift the case file, Spencer opened the door and greeted the fellow agent.  Seeing the collection of gift baskets littering his hallway, he gathered them and set them just inside the apartment.  Anderson was there for no more than five minutes before he was headed back to Quantico, and Spencer was sat back on his couch, although this time he had a case file spread before him and he was sedately munching on the mixed nuts he had been gifted.

It didn’t take long before he’d gotten the geographical profile ironed out, and he made a second call to Morgan.

“What’s up, kid,” Derek answered.

“If it is about the art, then it’s clear the disposal sites are scattered around the Mission District area,” Spencer told the older agent.

“Wait a minute.  How did you know-“ Derek started to ask, but Spencer interrupted him.

“I had Anderson bring over some of the files.”

“All right.  All right, hold on a second.  Let me patch in Garcia,” Derek said.  “Reid,” he said once the patch went through.

“Garcia, you should pull a list of all the art galleries in San Francisco,” Spencer said to Penelope.

“Reid, I was just…how are you?”  Penelope’s soft, concerned voice floated through.

“Better.  Thanks for asking.  And thanks for the baskets.  You know, nuts have magnesium, which helps produce-“ Spencer was cut off by Penelope.

“Serotonin.  Yea.  I know,” she said.  “Ok, galleries.  I got a lot.”

“Focus on the Mission District,” Spencer said before hanging up.

That little bit of interaction with two of his closest friends warmed his heart.  He could hear their affection for him in their voices, and while he still didn’t really want to leave the solitude of his apartment, he felt maybe he should.  He collapsed back onto his couch and ate a few more of the nuts Penelope had so kindly chosen for him.

Twenty minutes later saw Spencer zipping up his freshly packed go bag and heading towards the phone to let Garcia know he was going to fly out to San Francisco to help the team.  Just as his fingertips brushed the receiver, the phone started ringing.

“Hello,” Spencer answers the call, brows furrowed.

“Dr. Reid?  This is Dr. Norman from Bennington Sanitarium,” the voice says from the other end of the line.  Spencer’s heart starts to race.  It never is a good thing when his mother’s doctor calls him.

“Yes, Dr. Norman?  What’s going on,” he asks.

“I’m sorry to inform you that your mother died this afternoon, Spencer.  She had complained of a headache last night then this morning she fell to the ground and started seizing right after lunch.  We think it may have been caused by a brain aneurysm.  She was gone before the EMTs showed up.  I am so very sorry,” Dr. Norman informed Spencer.

“I…thank you for calling to let me know,” Spencer replied in a flat tone.  He said nothing more before his knees gave out and he dropped the phone.  He didn’t know what to do.  Spencer was devastated by the news of his mother’s death.  Two of the most wonderful women that he’d ever known in his life being cruelly snatched away in less than a month, and Spencer could only feel like he was being punished for something.  What had he done to deserve this pain?  He’d done his best to care for his mother for as long as he possibly could, but she had needed more help than he could provide by himself.  He had tried to save Maeve, but ultimately was unable to.  Maybe this was his fate.  Being left behind by everyone he loved.  His father hadn’t cared enough to stay when he was a child, Ethan had dropped all communications with him after their first day at the academy, and Elle had ran off and hadn’t been heard from since.  Gideon, a man that Spencer had looked up to as a father and mentor, had left the same way his actual father had, leaving just a note.  JJ had been torn away from the team, although she had come back, and Emily had faked her death, come back to the team, and had left again.  Maeve had been murdered and his mother had succumbed to a brain aneurysm, of all things.

Spencer was tired of all of the hurt from being left by his loved ones.  He was tired of trying to get past these losses he had suffered.  There was only one way to take away those feelings, though, and he would have to force himself to his feet to go and find it.

The sound of his door closing echoed through the empty apartment, as Spencer left to find his old dealer.

Accidental

He should have never been there in the first place.  It wasn’t her fault, but he blamed her for it, anyway.  Ever since Sam pulled her out of the woods, the wolves had all felt a bit connected to her in some way.  Sam and Jared just chalked it up to being concerned about Bella being mistreated by the leeches, but Paul knew it was something more.  What, though, he couldn’t put his finger on.  It was driving him mad, this draw he felt towards this girl he’d never even met.  One way or another, he would figure it out.

 

Bella was so angry.  Anger and hurt and so many other emotions she couldn’t even describe welled up inside of her.  How dare he say those awful things to her?  She just couldn’t reconcile the boy she fell in love with telling her that she was a distraction; that she was a simple minded human who would soon forget all about the supernatural world.  The existence of supposedly mythical creatures was not something that one could just turn around and forget about. For some reason, during her internal rant, she was reminded of the tribal legends Jacob once told her.

 

Paul knew that it was time to return to the res, but he couldn’t bring himself to walk away.  He didn’t have another patrol until tomorrow morning, and it’s not like he would be missed if he didn’t go home.  The only people he was accountable to were his pack, and even they held him at arm’s length.  Paul didn’t blame them, not really.  He knew that his personality was a bit abrasive and they didn’t want to subject their mates to him.  He didn’t really want to be subjected to their mates, either, though.  He wasn’t their biggest fan.

 

Tossing and turning in her bed, Bella tried her hardest to get back to sleep.  Glancing over at her alarm clock, she noted the time at just past three in the morning.  Groaning, she rubbed her eyes and sat up.  Obviously her attempts at sleep were futile.  She eased herself off of her bed and grabbed her blanket, wrapping it around her shoulders.  Walking quietly to the seat beneath her window, she picked up her copy of Great Expectations and thumbed to her bookmarked page.  Just a few pages in, her eyes were drawn to the woods outside her window.

 

Tired, but unable to sleep, propped up in the branches of the tree as he was, Paul rested with his eyes closed, listening to the subtle sounds of the forest at night.  The rustling of sheets inside of the house caught his attention and he slowly opened his eyes.  He watched her slender frame move towards the window and gently settle in, legs curled beneath her.  He could tell she was reading, but wasn’t able to make out the title of the book.  A few moments later, he watched as she looked towards where he rested and their eyes met.

 

Bella couldn’t see much of anything in the inky darkness of the hour, but just after she had glanced towards the trees, she felt a sharp jolt in her chest.  With a quick intake of air, she placed her right hand just above her breasts.  Her heart beat swiftly, and her eyebrows furrowed in confusion.  She could find no reason for this physical reaction, so she shook off the strange occurrence.  Bella’s eyes went back to the words of Charles Dickens for but a moment before being pulled back to the same spot in the trees she had looked before.

 

Stunned, Paul almost fell out of the tree.  His heart and mind were racing.  He had imprinted on Bella Swan!  On one hand, he was ecstatic, on the other, he wasn’t sure what to feel.  The other imprints were so meek and mild, subservient almost.  Paul had often wondered if they had always been that way, or if that was caused by the imprinting.  If it was, he would do whatever he could to break it, as taking away a woman’s personality was unacceptable in his book.  At least he had figured out the reason he was drawn to Bella.

 

Without her permission, Bella’s hand reached up and unlatched the window, opening it to the cool, humid night air.  The crisp scent of autumn and wet earth invaded her senses, along with something else that she couldn’t place, yet gave her a sense of contentment.  A small smile graced her face, as she felt she was finally letting go of the hurt and anger Edward had caused by his callous words and abandonment.  She was young, intelligent and pretty.  There was much to look forward to in her life, and she wouldn’t allow a perpetual teenage boy drag her down.

 

As soon as the window was opened, Paul was treated to an intoxicating aroma.  His eyes rolled back in his head as he deeply inhaled the delectable scent of wild strawberries and warm French vanilla.  He opened his eyes just in time to see a beautiful smile on the face of his imprint.  A smile!  He was thrilled to see the look of utter pleasure on Bella’s face, and could feel himself smiling as well.  Slowly, he eased himself down from the tree and moved gracefully towards the open window, intent on speaking with his girl for the first time.

 

Bella spotted movement at the tree line, and watched a handsome, half naked man walking towards her house.  She looked him over from head to toe, enjoying the shape of his muscled frame.  She wasn’t sure what this man was doing in her backyard, nor why he was heading straight for her, and yet she could do nothing but stare at him, ensnared as she was by the look in his eyes.  Well, life certainly couldn’t be all bad if this hunk of a man revealed himself to her on a regular basis.  Maybe he could lose the shorts, too.

 

As soon as Paul had made it close enough to Bella to be heard, he told her that he had something he needed to show her.  She looked a bit confused, but smiled and nodded her head in acceptance.  He never broke eye contact with her as he stripped out of his shorts, and enjoyed the look of lust in her eyes.  He couldn’t help the cocky smirk that spread across his face any more than he could help the twitch his dick gave.  He wouldn’t apologize for it, but he had hoped he had better control of his body.

 

Bella had never seen a nude man in person, though she couldn’t think of a better male specimen to see for the first time.  She had no idea why he felt the need to give her a show, but she certainly wouldn’t complain.  The view was much too nice.  The confusion and lust caused by this man’s impromptu strip show chased the lingering bits of nasty emotions she had felt away.  She was now singularly focused on whatever this man had to show her because if it was anything like she was seeing now, she had no reason to complain.

 

Paul pulled his attention from the brunette beauty staring at him and focused his attention inward, calling forth the wolf.  He felt the beginnings of the shift, and took one last glance at Bella through his human eyes watching her own widen in shock.  Landing on his front paws, he stretched and then sat back on his haunches.  Paul was trying his best to tune out the panicked voice of Jared in his mind, but quickly gave up and sent him a quick replay of his imprinting on the girl who was staring at him, mouth agape and eyes unblinking.

 

Bella couldn’t believe what she was seeing.  So, the tribal legends that Jacob had told her were true!  She had known that at least the vampire bit was true, but watching this man turn into a horse sized wolf right before her was mind blowing.  She finally got her body back under control, and snapped her mouth shut, blinking rapidly.  She backed away from the window slowly until she heard a pitiful whine.  Quickly returning to the casement, she held up a single finger in a ‘just a moment’ gesture and turned around, collecting herself and hurried down the stairs.

 

Paul cocked his head to the side and listened to her footsteps, wondering what she was doing.  Hearing a door sliding open, he stood and shuffled in place.  He watched Bella as she quickly made her way around to the side of the house, stumbling in the dark, and walked right up to him showing no fear.  This pleased him greatly, especially as it had rendered Jared completely mute.  Emily and Kim were extremely uncomfortable around the boys in their wolf forms, so seeing Bella accept him in this body was quite satisfying.  Paul nudged her gently with his head.

 

Bella couldn’t help but to reach out and scratch behind the behemoth’s ears, causing him to make a grumbling sort of noise.  She couldn’t help but giggle and wonder if he’d start kicking with his back leg soon.  She sighed and pushed on him, telling him that she thought it was time he turned back into a man and explained things.  The large wolf chuffed and took a few steps back.  Bella watched in fascination as the wolf seemingly melted away into the strapping, bronzed body of the, so far, nameless man.  She took another opportunity to check him out.

 

Paul chuckled as he grabbed his shorts and slid them on, resulting in a pout forming on Bella’s face.  He introduced himself and divulged the legends of the cold ones and the protectors to her, but was shocked when she let him know that she had heard them before.  He laughed as she blushed, regaling him with her amateur attempt at flirting and coercing the information she had wanted out of the naïve Jacob.  Paul was elated to see that his imprint, while a bit shy, was not the meek thing that his pack mates’ imprints were.  She was wonderful.

 

For her part, Bella was completely captivated by Paul.  Not only was he fun to look at, but he was fun to talk to.  Charming and intelligent, but with a quick wit and biting humor, she enjoyed conversing with him quite a bit.  Finally she asked him why he felt the need to reveal himself to her.  He seemed to tense up a bit, but after a deep breath he explained imprinting and how it applied to them.  She was taken aback at first, and maybe a little hesitant due to her recent epic failure in the world of dating.

 

Paul can practically see what is going through her head and rushes to reassure her that he wasn’t trying to push her into anything.  All he wanted from Bella was a chance for them to really get to know one another.  Later on they could decide, together, where they wanted their relationship to go.  He had high hopes she would agree to that, and was slightly reassured by her answering smile.  A bright grin broke out on his face as she told him she couldn’t wait to get to know him more, and he grabbed her in a bear hug.

 

The embrace that Paul had given her had probably been the best one Bella had ever had.  She had never felt so safe or cared for as she had in those few moments.  She knew then that the relationship between them would likely progress swiftly.  Surprisingly, that thought didn’t make her feel uncomfortable.  She was rather looking forward to it.  Paul was different, she could tell.  He seemed self-assured and assertive; knowing what he wants and going after it.  She smirked.  He also didn’t seem to have any reservations about being nude, so maybe he’d teach her about carnal pleasure.

 

It started with that one night Paul could not control his curiosity.  It had been two weeks since that first night and things were progressing rather nicely, Bella thought.  They had talked about everything, from their lives before the supernatural had invaded to how Bella had gotten tangled up with the Cullens and how Paul had dealt with phasing for the first time. Although Paul was brash and unapologetic, Bella appreciated these things about him.  He was real and honest.  Rough around the edges, maybe, but he was true to who he was, and she loved it.  She loved him.

 

Paul was enjoying learning so much about his imprint.  She was caring and loyal, but she wasn’t one to be pushed around. Paul liked that a lot.  He respected that about her.  It was honestly a bit confusing to him how she had bent to the demands of the leeches, but maybe that had to do with their creepy vamp pheromones, or whatever the hell it was that made normal humans think they were so enthralling.  He had kept his cool when she told him about her experience with the tracker, but it wasn’t without effort.  He was falling hard.

 

Bella sat on her front porch, waiting for Paul to show up.  She was a bit surprised that he hadn’t beat her here, as he typically did on days his patrol schedule didn’t interfere.  Leaning back to rest on her elbows, she enjoyed the mild weather while wondering what was keeping him.  Did they find something while patrolling their land, or were Sam and Jared giving him a hard time about their relationship again?  She did her best not to worry over her imprint, but she wasn’t able to shake the concern completely.  She sighed, and resigned herself to waiting.

 

Running as a man wasn’t Paul’s preferred method of getting to his imprint’s house, but he didn’t feel like dealing with his pack mates at the moment.  Although they were supportive, somewhat, Sam and Jared had both expressed concerns about how Paul was dealing with the situation.  He didn’t understand why.  He and Bella were both happy and taking things at the pace they both felt most comfortable.  He wouldn’t be pressured into toeing the line, nor would he allow Bella to be.  Paul was sure Bella’s personality had something to do with their discontent.  She wasn’t like the others.

 

She wasn’t sure how long she’d been waiting, but as soon as she heard the crunch of leaves coming from the side of the house she was up on her feet.  Paul had just rounded the house when Bella launched herself into his arms, and pressing her body tightly against his.  She loved the strength and warmth he possessed.  Bella nuzzled her face into Paul’s neck and took deep, greedy breaths of his scent and could feel him doing the same, with his nose pressed into her hair.  She pulled back and tilted her head upwards, locking eyes with him.

 

Paul loved Bella’s scent.  It was, at once, soothing and arousing.  Feeling his length harden in his shorts, he quietly grunted and looked down into her eyes.  She felt it, too, he knew she did.  The spike in her scent told him so, as well as the increased heat between her legs.  There was little else he wanted, at that moment, than to rip her clothes from her body and bury himself in her sweet heat, but they weren’t ready for that just yet.  He leaned in closer and pressed his lips to hers, enjoying their sweet taste and texture.

 

Bella moaned into the kiss.  Paul’s tongue beckoned her lips to part, and she didn’t hesitate to open herself to him.  This wasn’t the first kiss they had shared, but it seemed more urgent this time than it had in the past.  As much as she was enjoying it, she had a nagging feeling that Paul was distraught about something, and she wanted to get that taken care of and out of the way.  After the issue was settled, maybe they could take this upstairs into her bedroom.  She was hoping to be less dressed and horizontal with him shortly.

 

Paul groaned in disappointment when Bella broke the kiss, but rested his forehead against hers and took in another breath of her scent.  He slid her down his body to set her on her feet, causing both of them to moan.  Paul took her hand as she stepped away from him and couldn’t help smiling at her.  He took in her flushed cheeks and darkened eyes and was amazed by her beauty.  Her dark hair and eyes set against her alabaster skin was striking, especially in the sunlight.  He couldn’t help but to pull her in for one more kiss.

 

Bella sighed and stepped back, gently tugging on Paul’s hand.  She led him up the porch steps and into the living room of her home.  Bella dropped his hand and slid off her light sweatshirt, revealing the thinning, cotton band shirt she’d worn underneath.  She heard Paul’s breath catch in his throat and quickly remembered she hadn’t bothered with a bra this morning.  Bella blushed lightly, but was flattered that the hint of her nipples through the material of her shirt aroused him.  Smiling, she tilted her head towards the couch and prepared herself to hear what was bothering him.

 

Paul knew he needed to explain why he was late getting here and what was eating at him, but that glimpse of her tight little nipples was enough to get both the wolf and the man riled up and ready for action.  He closed his eyes and took a deep breath before settling onto the couch close to his imprint, but not touching her.  As much as he wanted her on his lap, he wouldn’t be able to have any sort of coherent conversation with her that closely, right now.  He took a moment to organize his thoughts before speaking.

Sully the Snow

“Are you sure this is okay?  I would hate to feel like we’re imposing on their couples retreat.”

Bella bit her lip and sighed.  She’d been so excited to just catch a break from everyday life that when the cabin was mentioned she had packed up her bags and put them in the car within a minute.  Now that they had arrived, however, she was worried that they would be intruding on the other Whitlock couple’s little get away.  Jasper just shook his head and chuckled at her concern.

“Darlin’ I promise you, they’ll be real happy that we decided to join them.  You know Peter better than to think he would have invited us if they hadn’t really wanted us here.”

“You’re right, of course.  When are they supposed to get here?  I can’t wait to look around!  This place is beautiful,” Bella said while she admired the gorgeous architecture of the cabin and the way the snow contrasted against the lovely dark wood.  They had done quite a bit of traveling together and stayed at damn near every bit of property that was owned amongst the Whitlock coven, but Peter and Char had just plucked this one up a few months back.  After having it gutted and remodeled, this would be the first time anyone had actually stayed in it.

“Well, someone was a bit overeager in getting out of the house and into the country, so we won’t be seeing them for at least another six hours.  What do you say we make a quick run up to Calgary to hunt, kitten?  It won’t take more than two hours to get there,” Jasper wheedled.  It wasn’t imperative that he hunt right away, but it would kill time and relax the both of them.  Besides, it had been months since they’d hunted in Calgary.  It was time to clean up the streets a bit; time to take out the dregs of society.

“Ooh, time to take a bite outta crime?” Bella bounced on her toes and smirked.

“Come on, McGruff, let’s get on out of here,” Jasper replied, grinning down at his mate.

They took off through the glistening snow heading north.  The scenery was absolutely lovely this time of year.  Bella had fun using the trees’ trunks as launch pads and limbs as poles to vault like the Traceur she had become.  Shortly before her change, the two had watched some film that was heavily focused on Parkour and she got it into her mind that once her clumsiness was no longer a problem, she would teach herself how to move like that.  Jasper agreed to learn as well, and it was something that they both had immense amounts of fun doing.  They quickly learned, however, that they enjoyed a natural setting as opposed to hurtling around the city.

They arrived in Calgary just after sunset and decided to walk around downtown for a while.  Their prey wouldn’t be out just yet, anyway.  Holding hands, they looked into shop windows and even found a small pseudo-cabin warming gift for the other Whitlock couple.  Time passed quickly and they headed towards the clubs.  It was rarely difficult to find their particular fare around bars and clubs.  Although it was still early, it didn’t seem to matter to the scum; those human monsters that preyed on inebriated or smaller party goers.

It wasn’t long before they heard a surprised scream and muffled pleadings of a young woman.  Quickly but discreetly making their way to the source of the cries, Jasper used his gift to knock the female unconscious.  The three men chuckled and rudely joked about how it didn’t matter if she was awake or not, that they would use her body the same.  Bella and Jasper stepped out of the shadows and made their presence known.

“Well, hell, look at that pretty little thing!  Come on over here, sweetheart.  Let a real man show you a good time,” one of the lowlifes called out.  His buddies snickered at his comment and leered at Bella like they couldn’t wait to get their hands on her.

Jasper growled, long and low.  Bella shivered, as she never could get past how erotic that rumbling was to her.

“Real men don’t need to gang up on and attack a woman to get their dicks wet.  No, I’ve already got myself a real man.  We’re only here for a quick bite to eat.”  The smile on her face promised pain.

Jasper ramped up the attackers’ fear until they were shaking and close to hyperventilating.  Bella and Jasper pounced on their prey.  Bella already had her fangs into the smallest man’s throat while Jasper knocked the two remaining degenerates’ heads together, knocking them both out.  He began to drink deeply from one, pushing the other to the ground.  Two more bodies hit the asphalt, as the couple finished their meals.  They glanced at one another heatedly.

“You up for sharing dessert, kitten?”

“Mmm, that sounds lovely, Major,” Bella purred.

Jasper reached down and hauled the last of the would-be rapists up in between his mate and himself.  Staring into one another’s eyes, they bit into either side of his throat.  The hot and savory crimson blood gushed into their mouths.

Soon the flow of blood was petering out and the man’s heart stopped.  Bella kept a hold of the back of his jacket while her mate returned to the two cooling bodies just feet away.  After grasping onto them, the pair made their way to a large dumpster settled at the employee’s entrance of the nightclub.  Dumping the bodies in, Bella chuckles as she nicks her palm to spread venom over the recently deceased and Jasper smirks at her as he tosses a burning book of matches on top.

“Fire in the hole,” the blonde vampire mutters.

“Indeed.  Back to West Glacier, cowboy?” Bella tossed over her shoulder, as she was already heading towards the main street.

“We’ve still got some time to kill, kitten,” Jasper drawled.

Bella smirked as her eyes darkened to ebony.  She flashed her mate a sensual look and licked the tip of one fang.

“There’s quite a bit of forest with pristine snow to sully on our way back to the cabin.  I’m sure we can spend our time wisely.”

Jasper’s eyes flashed midnight and a slow, provocative grin graced his face.  Glacier National Park was about to be defiled.