Pairing: Ian O'Shea/Wanderer, Jared Howe/Melanie Stryder
Fic Title: Remedial Cartography
Author: disco_vendetta (brinn)
Rating/Warning(s): not rated, but around pg-13?
Why This Must Be Read: There are no damsels in distress in this fic (nor in the book), which is one of the reasons I like this book in lieu of my utter hatred for the Twilight series. This has wonderful explorations of all the characters, from Mel to Jared to Jaimie to Ian to Wanderer. It's got a deft hand and some great humor, and seems to understand and grasp the 'verse very well. It's ironic that though this has plenty of shippy things in it, which I like, my favorite parts are the platonic friendship between Mel and Wanderer, and even the scene filled with animosity between Mel and Ian's brother. 'Cause like I said: no damsels in distress.
He finds her in the fields, in between the rows of corn. It’s an accident, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been looking for her all day. She’s so small now, she can fit unnoticed in places their minds all collectively skip over, thinking in terms of Melanie’s proportions. She’s carefully pulling up tiny weeds, the red-brown soil stark against her pale skin. She jumps a little when he materializes between the looming stalks, then giggles, then looks annoyed that she’s giggled. Her features are almost cartoonishly exaggerated - her eyes and lips and cheeks rounded and full - and emotions flickers across them like signal flares. He wonders a little absently if she misses being able to hide behind Mel’s impassive face.
“Hello,” she greets, a trace of laughter still caught in her throat, at odds with the cautious look in her eyes.
“Hey.” He crouches down next to her, knees creaking, pokes his finger in the dirt. Dry, he thinks, Too dry. Someone missed their shift this morning.
There’s a long beat of stillness between them where he looks at her and she looks at the ground. Then finally, she stretches to reach a loop of vine that’s trying to choke one of the smaller corn stalks, and he starts tugging a deep-rooted stub of something prickly, and they’re both quiet and useful together for a while, and it’s nice.
His hamstrings start to cramp after five minutes, so he’s on his hands and knees, grinding dirt into jeans by the time they finish the row and start on the next one. Sweat stings at eyes and every time he rubs at them with one wrist he just makes mud that dries on his face a minute later. He’s sticky and grubby and itching all over when his hands reach for the same clump of green that hers do. They’ve worked their way back to the middle of the row, Wanda glistening and flushed where he is stiff and caked all over with red dirt. He leaves his hand on hers. Her skin is hot against his.
It's just that he remembers what it's like not to be touched for years at a time, or for hours that felt like years, and this is all he knows how to give her to make it easier.
He touches her shoulder, so lightly, and thinks as loud as he can, Let me be kind to you.
Her smile is not wistful, but more…apologetic. Nostalgic, maybe. She knows she used to want this and it's the old her that could still want Jared that she would like to get back most, not Jared himself. It was only when she was sharing with Melanie that she needed him in that wet-eyed, stomach-clenched way. It's Melanie she's missing when she misses him, and he gets that, mostly. It makes him think about when he'd overheard his aunt talking to his mom at the kitchen table about her postpartum - shamed and so confused that she could miss her son so intensely when he was right there playing at her feet. This, at least, he understands, this he remembers. The constant, bone-deep ache of being at once within touching distance and a thousand miles away from the one person you want most.
He lets go because she wants him to, and leaves because he doesn’t know if she wants him to stay or not. The rains start that night, Wanda drifting into Ian’s hands and arms and sweet, greedy touches like a tide. That’s how it should be.
That’s how it should be now, anyway.