Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hope loves The First Five Times

The First Five Times




There’s only two of them left now: the bitch and the bastard child. AU.

When this one-shot was first submitted to the “Love for the Unloved” contest I was like Embry and … Leah, really? That didn’t seem like a pairing that would work, especially in AU. But it does work, quite beautifully if I’m being completely honest. If I had one word to describe this story ‘beautifully simple’ would be the word. Okay that’s two words, but you get the point. And by simple, I don’t mean boring or bare or basic, just simple…uncomplicated in its story telling.

I fell in love with this on my first read, astounded by the writing and the story. Both are solid, it’s the combination of both that makes the story so fucking good. Stretch doesn’t need overly flowy or verbose phrasing to get the point across. She gets it across just fine.

Leah is as she always is, pissed off. We like her that way. If she was all hearts and flowers she wouldn’t be her. She’s not pissed off because of Sam or being a wolf or because she simply can be. She’s pissed off because everyone has someone except her. They’re all paired up and happy and ‘in love’ and when you don’t have anyone it’s just fucking annoying.

The First Five Times takes us through the genius of Embry and Leah’s ‘relationship’ as it were. It starts off as fucking, a release, an escape, something to do. It changes and grows into something neither of them expected or wanted. Something beautiful, something right.

The first time it’s a look from Embry, just one simple look of appreciation of Leah’s form starts off the rocky and tremulous journey these two take. It’s rough and raw and that’s the way they want it; nothing more, using each other for mutual benefit. They’re in the same boat after all, imprintless, so why the hell not.

The second time is about getting Embry to shut the fuck up, to leave her alone with all his talking and questions. It’s still rough and raw and just sex.

Things start to change, as they always do. It’s slow and confusing and not something either of them want or so they say, but there is a turning point.

The third time is the turning point. Embry searches Leah out after Jared and Kim’s wedding. He’s not even sure why, but he does. She doesn’t want to talk about it, so she does the only thing she can do, attack and take him. Afterward the turning point happens.

They break apart, collapsing on opposite sides of the hall, staring at each other until Embry regains the feeling in his legs (it doesn’t take that long, but he pretends like it does). She walks him to the door, and before he leaves he asks if she’ll be alright.

“Yeah, why?” she demands skeptically. As if she wasn’t a wreck, as if she hadn’t just used him for pity-sex moments earlier.

“Cause this isn’t healthy,” he tells her. “For you, I mean.”

She wants to yell at him, say something scathing in response, but the wedding has drained her of most of her energy, and he just took what little reserves she had left. “Why do you even care?” she mumbles, and the door closes softly in his face.

Embry spends the entire walk home wondering the same thing.

The fourth time it all comes out and everything goes wrong. The fourth time is my favorite.

But things are happening that she can’t comprehend, like the fact that he’s carefully pushing up her shirt rather than tearing it off.

Like the fact that he’s kissing his way up her neck rather than biting it.

Like the fact that his fingers are combing through her hair rather than pulling it.

Like foreplay, or the smile on his face, or the way he’s pulling her closer without breaking any ribs.

She pushes against him harder, trying to draw the fight out of him. Her mouth is rough against his, biting at his lower lip. But his tongue is soft as it strokes against her own, and his hands are soft as they trace the paths up and down her back. And Leah closes her eyes for a second and it feels like another person in another place, from a time she’s tried too hard to forget.

And she knows it then, without asking or having it said. A switch has flipped, the scales have tipped, and they’re no longer balanced.

She pushes him off of her with all the force she can muster. He rolls onto the makeshift coffee table. The wood cracks under his weight as she scrambles to find something, anything. Her underwear, the exit.

“You asshole,” she whispers bitterly, clutching her clothes to herself and lurking in the doorway. “You just had to do it. I told you not to...but you went and did it anyway!”

He tells her not to be a hypocrite. “After all, you fell in love with me first.”

She leaves him lying there.

The fifth time is surrender and acceptance.

Leah’s standing on his doorstep in the driving rain, acting like she doesn’t feel it. She probably doesn’t. Her tank top and cutoffs and the dark circles under her eyes betray the fact that she’s been running all night.

He opens the door before she even gets there, like he was expecting her. Like he knew she was coming.

“I can’t do this,” she tells him (but what she really means is I can’t do this again).

“Yes you can,” he assures her (but what he really means is it won’t be like that with me).

The fifth lemon is eloquent and beautifully written. Stretch goes a little bit more graphic this time, giving us a little bit more detail, drawing it out for the reader a bit more. She balances the physical and the emotional very well. It’s not all one or the other.

He pulls her down against his chest, capturing her mouth, moaning into her each time she moves across his body, each time she takes in his length up to the hilt. The friction is glorious, the feel of his slick skin against every inch of her own sends Leah spiraling back towards that place full of stars and fireworks and that oh so beautiful burn.

“I…oh,” she babbles wordlessly against the side of his face, tangling her fingers in his hair. “Please…”

“Say it,” he begs her in return. The scent of her is thick on his breath. “Please Leah.”

“Embry.” Lightning shoots down her spine, and she clamps down on him harder than ever before. Her body pulses, pounds. And for the first time since it all began, she breathes his name aloud against the skin of his neck, whispering it like a prayer. “Oh, Embry.”

His world explodes at the sound of her voice, like it’s the most seductive thing she’s ever said.

In his mind, it is.

I love The First Five Times plain and simple.