23: Run to the Hills

IT had caught the right trail, was following it again, swiftly passing into Indiana, Ohio followed minutes later. Yes, IT was getting closer to what master wanted-and this time nothing would stop IT.
Already the carriage had passed into West Virginia, Tristan and Jack were both tense as to what was waiting at home, though they hid it from Rosalie as well as they could. “Are you sure you don’t need to hunt?” Jack asked her for the billionth time.
She sighed but smiled. “I’m sure. The day I found you again we had hunted.” She made a face as she said we but forgot about it seconds later. She wasn’t going to let anything interrupt her bliss.
“Do you mind if we keep going through the night?” Jack asked Tristan shortly after two.
“No not at all.” They both nodded in unison, again thinking that whatever was coming they would want to get it out of the way-and fast. Rosalie seemed happy about this-of course, she was unaware of the battle that waited at home. Like a volcano that had once stood dormant for so long, it was stirring and getting ready to erupt.
No, she thought of turning human again, then continuing her life with Jack. She smiled knowing that when she had to make the choice to go with Alice or stay with Jack…Well, really what was there to think about? She would always hold a place for the Cullens, always, but they didn’t give her what Jack did and now she felt whole.
Human again…Jack again…The possibilities of what was coming next seemed endless, like every opportunity was open to them. In a way, they were.
It was just before three when all hell broke loose again-and not for the last time. They were about mid-way across West Virginia when it happened-so fast, none of them had seen it. The three of them had been in the front of the carriage when something slammed it into much like a tackler in football and the carriage did several three sixties before it came to a halt. The guards instantly rushed to their sides, though they were scattered about. Tristan was furthest from the carriage, about a hundred yards away, Rosalie was about twenty yards away and Jack was the closest at half that. “What was that?” she asked, Jack instantly rushing to her side, protectively placing her behind him.
“Tristan?” he called anxiously. He saw him stand and wobble back towards them, making him breathe a sigh of relief.
“What was that?” Rosalie asked again, her eyes darting about the woodlands, so many places for anything to be hiding. Jack looked around too, every little movement was another phantom that sent him higher on edge. “Jack?”
He shook his head, by then the guards surrounded them, all three held serious looking weapons. Jack moved closer to Rosalie, his hand instinctively grabbing hers, locking in tightly, as tight as magnets on a fridge door. Their eyes meet for the faintest second before breaking away again, both scanned the area around them. The guards stood motionless, gripping their weapons, their eyes sweeping the land. Tristan stood motionless, murmuring softly.
Again the attack was so swift, so sudden, no one realized it had happened until it was over. The guard that stood in the front was nearly knocked over, a sudden gust that stirred the dirt around them, a body part that tripped Rosalie, sending her to the ground, Jack’s reflexes too slow to catch her. No sooner had her body hit the ground that it was being dragged across the ground at a speed that was nearly blinding. Jack shot after her, desperately pushing himself harder than he ever had.
He tore faster, tree branches scraped at his skin, hardly leaving a mark, his body swiftly dodging the trees, sidestepping the roots. He almost didn’t hear it-the sudden whoosh as others joined him. He easily counted three-though he could hear more behind him…And in front of him too?
IT let out a loud snarl and suddenly stopped, Jack took the opportunity to get within in close range of Rosalie when IT took off again, prompting Jack to run faster, chasing with the others. He saw Michael and Luke, the third had shot ahead, a weapon of some sort in his hand. Jack grabbed a low-hanging branch and swung up, his sword out, cutting deep into IT. Again, IT snarled and slowed some, though IT never stopped. Neither did any of the pursers.
The one that was ahead with the weapon, Jack still couldn’t tell who, stopped and shot up into the trees. Jack raced on, Michael flanking him, Luke shooting ahead to get with whoever was ahead of them. The form that had dove into the trees came crashing back down, driving their weapon into IT. IT screamed loudly, stopped, IT’s grip on Rosalie dropped. Jack sped ahead about fifty paces, scooping her in his arms, before he did a one-eighty and started back towards the carriage, running so fast, his grip on her tighter than ever. He could hear voices behind him but he paid them no attention, his feet racing ahead, taking them further from whatever wanted his Rose.
Somewhere behind him, IT let out another earth-shattering snarl, followed by a string of gun shots, both prompting Jack to race faster. At long last the carriage, standing up-right again, came into view. Tristan was on the outside, waving to Jack. “Hurry!” He nodded and raced to him, two people following right behind him. From behind him, he could hear several voices, all male. The five piled inside, the carriage standing still. “Protect us, oh great ones, protect us from all that dares to harm us, protect us in our time of need, our darkest hour.” The voices were fading now, driving whatever was out there away from them. Slowly, Tristan’s spell could be felt in the carriage, surrounding it.
Not until he was certain he had control over his body did he look around. Tristan was in the front, next to him on the left was Luke, Michael was on his right. “What are you guys doing here?” he finally asked, looking from one to the other.
“We got a call-from Alice.” Michael stopped and looked at Rosalie but she had no reaction to this information. “She said she couldn’t see everything-just that something was coming for Rosalie. Something she couldn’t see but had no doubt that it was going to destroy her.”
Jack looked down at her, her face was expressionless, her eyes open, staring at nothing. “Rose” he said softly. “If you can hear me, squeeze my hand.” At first he felt nothing, a sudden wave of panic hitting, and then he felt her hand squeeze his gently. “You’re safe now. I promise nothing is going to happen to you.” He tore his eyes up to meet Michael. “Who else was out there?”
“John, Allen, David.”
Jack nodded, one hand Rosalie still held, the other running through her hair as he had done earlier. “I’d say thank you but it seems so mundane” he said softly, still looking at the immortal in his arms, as if the sun rose and set in her face.
“Despite my…Animosity towards her, she is still my sister. And I knew that if she was lost, then you would find a way to leave us too. And I don’t mean like you did the first time.” Jack looked down, his eyes on the floor of the carriage as opposed to Rosalie.
“Are they going to be ok?”
Luke nodded. “Yes. This was part of the plan-well, David wasn’t in it until the last second-but we would take who we could.”
“After Alice called, John called a meeting with all of us. He didn’t want to take us all, but he didn’t have David so he knew he had no choice to take us all, leaving the rest of them in charge of Tommy and Nick.”
Jack scowled. “That was stupid.”
“We didn’t have a choice. We needed to protect her and well you. So, Michael and I followed you, John and Allen were in the opposite direction to lead it away from us so we could have a chance to escape. David came out of nowhere-that’s who you saw in the trees. You couldn’t see it but he just kept coming after well whatever that thing was, over and over he attacked it.”
“Was that the guns I heard?”
“No that was Allen and John. I have no idea why, we were shooting at a ghost.”
Jack shook his head. “I don’t know what it was but all I know is that for some reason it wants her.” He looked down at her, she was exactly the same, though the grip on his hand was tighter.
“We won’t let that happen.” Jack looked up and nodded then back down again. Luke pushed a hand through his disheveled blonde hair and sighed leaning back on the left bench. Michael sat on the right one, Jack on the couch, Rosalie in his arms.
The carriage started off, moving so steadily it seemed to float off the ground. Silence encircled the five of them, coming so close to losing any, potentially all of them had left them all shaken. Eventually, her eyes moved, a look of worry in them until they found Jack’s face, calmness replaced the fear. She smiled at him, gently sitting up, her head leaning next to his neck, taking deep breaths, holding on to him tightly. He embraced her as well, miming her actions. The other three turned their gaze away from the couple, not wanting to intrude on this gentle moment. He heard her open her mouth, the words out of it couldn’t have been any sweeter: “I love you.”
He smiled and said just as quietly “I love you too.”
Master had seen it all, from the attack on the carriage to Jack once again being the hero. Master was beyond mad at what had happened. Master could not believe that IT had been foiled by a band of small, incompetent vampires. And more than that they had hurt IT!
Master gritted it’s teeth and turned away from the sight, too disgusted with everything in the world right then. Dr. Crane shook his head yet kept silent. He could tell that master needed to be left alone then so he quietly left, awaiting IT’s return as IT would no doubt need his care again.