And so it begins, immediately after Christmas. Welcome, drama llama.
Yes, you guessed it; in this chapter, we see the beginning of the love triangle that was absolutely inevitably going to form here. Actually, I guess it would be more accurate to call it a love quadrangle, but whatever it is, we dive right into it in this chapter. And let me tell you, if the rest of the book is like this chapter, I am surely going to have tested the theory that I will die if I jump out my 8th storey window before I get to the end.
The chapter begins with a boring, pointless rant about the pattern of the wins in the game everyone is playing (which seems to be soccer), which is really only designed to remind us how awesome Jared supposedly is, but that he’s slightly less awesome than Kyle and Ian as long as they’re working as a team, because they have psychic brother powers. Who gives a fuck? Kyle and Ian will never be working as a team for anything related to Stryderer, especially without Jared also on the same side, so how is this relevant to anything? …Actually, sorry, I’m probably wrong; this book is irredeemably stupid, so they likely will do exactly that at some point.
Jeb calls an end to the game playing, saying there’s work to be done and he’s tired, so everyone starts to leave to go have lunch. That’s a long time spent playing ball, since the tribunal was at first light, and it seemed to only take like 5, 10 minutes before they started in on the games…that’s hours of playing. Ooookay then; no wonder people are tired…
As everyone leaves, Wanda watches Kyle and Ian interact for a bit, play fighting and teasing each other as brothers do, which both bothers Wanda and reminds her of a memory that Stryder had of puppies fighting. …Alrighty then…another one of those hugely useful memories that she manages to have, while at the same time blanking out on important things…
Stryder confirms for Wanda that Ian and Kyle are just playing around, using another unrealistic line (“The bonds of brotherhood go deep“), and Wanda is pleased with this. She thinks it’s a good thing, as long as Kyle doesn’t kill them. Yes, having fun generally is a good thing until people get murdery. Astute observation.
Wanda is shocked out of her conversation with Stryder by Jared asking if she’s hungry, and she seems surprised he’s “still a believer” (apparently asking someone if they’re hungry means more to her than it ever has to me), even though all that’s happened between her conversation with him and now is that he played some soccer. Wanda, if he is capable of changing his mind throughout the course of a few games of soccer that you aren’t even involved in, I have to seriously question why either of you loves him.
Wanda responds that she’s not hungry, just tired, so he holds out his hand to help her up, which leads to a sharp reminder from Stryder that he’s just being courteous, not trying to hold her hand. Wanda shoots back that she knows that, but is all trembly about touching his hand anyway, and then he gets her to her feet, and things get awkward because neither of them knows what to do next.
Jared keeps holding her hand even though he’s not supporting her weight, and she just stands there on one leg holding his until he asks where she wants to go. Wanda says she doesn’t know, then suggests the mat by the storage area, before Ian shows up, puts his arm around her to support her weight, and says he’ll take her where she needs to go. Oh, here we go.
“Jared’s face was careful, the way he looked at me when he didn’t want me to know what he was thinking.”
Don’t you mean Stryder, there, Wanda? Pretty sure he’s never looked at you that way; at least not enough that you could reference it like that…but I’d be willing to bet he’s looked at Stryder that way plenty of times. I can’t tell if that was a mistake by Wanda or Meyer, there.
Jared and Ian start discussing where to take her, with Ian’s speech seeming relatively casual while Jared’s is more formal and reserved, like he’s trying to contain his anger, which I’m really quite glad Meyer was able to convey. This is showing instead of telling again, and I like it.
They decide against the hospital because of Wanda’s history there with Walter, and then Ian says he’s got a place for her that will be more comfortable on her sore spots, which causes Jared to grip Wanda’s hand painfully tightly, though she doesn’t say anything about it. He suggests that Ian go get lunch while he takes Wanda wherever Ian had planned, and this is feeling much more realistic than most of the dialogue we’ve had from Meyer thus far, so I hope she keeps it up.
Ian starts getting a little bitey now that Jared’s obviously trying to get rid of him, saying that Wanda needs more help than a hand, and he doesn’t know if Jared is comfortable enough with the situation to give her what she needs. He grabs Wanda and pulls her up into his arms, though Jared still hasn’t let go of her hand, and says he thinks she’s had enough exercise, and that Jared should go to the kitchen.
Jared is very displeased now, so he says that he can carry her, but when Ian holds her out and offers her to Jared, Jared just looks at her face, sighs and lets go of her hand.
Ouch it is, as Stryder complains about the pain that shoots through Wanda’s chest, which confuses me, because it seemed like in the past few days at least, Stryder wasn’t able to feel Wanda’s pain, just know what she was thinking. Back and forth again, are we, Meyer? Yaaaay.
Wanda apologizes for the pain, but says there’s nothing she can do about it, so Stryder reminds her that Jared isn’t “hers”. Wanda says she knows that, so Stryder complains again and Wanda apologizes again, and that is that.
Jared says he’s going to tag along with Ian as he carries her, because there’s something he wants to discuss with him, which Ian allows. They don’t talk at all throughout the walk until they reach the big plaza where there’s no one else around, and then Jared asks Ian what his take on Kyle is.
Ian responds that Kyle prides himself on being a man of his word, which is very surprising to me given his personality, but Ian does say that in this situation, he’s not going to let Wanda out of his sight, so he obviously doesn’t completely trust him. Jared thinks that’s good, and Wanda says it’s okay and that she’s not afraid, so Ian tells her she doesn’t have to be because no one will ever do anything to her again.
“It was hard to look away from his eyes when they blazed like that. Hard to doubt anything he said.”
Do I detect a wee bit of interest here, Wanda? Falling for him a little bit, might you be?
Jared confirms that Wanda will be safe, so Wanda thanks them both, and they stop talking again until they reach the entrance to Ian’s room. Ian asks Jared to get the door for him, and Jared is unhappy that Ian’s “better place” is his own room, but Ian says it’s Wanda’s room now.
Wanda is about to interject, but Jared asks where Kyle and Ian are staying before she can. Ian says Kyle will be staying with Wes, and he’s not sure where he himself will go, so Wanda tries to interject again, but Ian cuts her off, pretending to remember in that moment that she’s tired, and asks Jared to get the door again.
Surprisingly, Jared does get the door for him, though obviously not happily, and then we get a useless description of Ian`s room in the daylight, which sounds fucking huge, and has quite the furnishings for being in the middle of the fucking desert and lived in by people hiding from most of the world. They really must have some big trucks at their disposal, and the aliens must have some pretty unobservant neighbours for them to be moving furniture like that.
Ian puts Wanda down on the bed and makes her comfy, they briefly discuss why she`s so tired, and Ian tells her he`ll bring her food later so she won`t have to worry about anything. Wanda tells him that it`s his room, so he`ll stay there with her since there are two beds, and Ian thinks that`s a good idea since he can keep a better eye on her that way. Yeeeeeah, that`s why, Ian; totally falling for that.
Wanda closes her eyes, so Ian pats her hand and leaves, closing the door behind him. Immediately after he`s gone, Stryder begins to chastise Wanda about inviting Ian to stay in the room with her, because she realizes that Wanda doesn`t see what Ian will think of her invitation. Wanda starts to understand what Stryder means when Stryder reminds her that she`s “mostly human“, but says it’s not like that; that there are two beds, it’s Ian’s room, and she knows there aren’t enough rooms for her to have her own, so it’s logical that they share. She believes Ian looks at the situation the same way. Ahhh, so naïve, dear Wanda.
Stryder tells Wanda to open her eyes and see that Ian’s starting to feel about her the same way Wanda feels about Jared, but Wanda responds that that’s impossible. The conversation ends there, though, because Wanda begins to overhear Jared and Ian talking about Ian’s concern that Aaron or Brandt might do something to Wanda since Kyle got away with it and might not try again, so they might feel they have to (whereas before they didn’t feel that way because they knew Kyle would do it for them).
Jared sees that concern as valid, so he says he’ll talk to them because they owe him for saving their lives, so if he asks them to do something, they’ll do it. Ian asks if Jared would bet Wanda’s life on that, so Jared says they’ll keep an eye on her anyway, which is probably a good plan.
Jared and Ian are both silent for a bit before Jared asks Ian if he’s going to go eat, but Ian says he thinks he’ll stay there for a while. He asks the same of Jared, but Jared doesn’t answer, so Ian calls him on what he wants to say that he’s not saying.
Jared tells him that the body in “there” (Ian’s room) does not belong to Wanda, so Ian had better keep his hands off it. Ian laughs and asks if Jared is jealous, but Jared says that’s not the issue, the issue is that despite that Wanda and Stryder seem to be cooperating, it’s still Wanda making the decisions for the body, so Ian needs to consider how it would feel for him if he was Stryder, invaded as her body was, and then living trapped within it with someone else telling her body what to do, while she is unable to speak for herself.
He asks Ian if in that situation, he would want his wishes to be respected, at least by other humans, and Ian says he has a point and that he’ll keep it in mind. Jared is not appeased by that answer, especially when Ian follows it up by saying that he’ll “think about it“, so he tells Ian that the body and the person locked inside of it belong to him.
Ian asks Jared if he’s sure that Stryder still feels that way, and Jared says that she will always be his, and he will always be hers. That is sweet, and would cause a great feeling of love and elation for Stryder, which it does, so I’m definitely not going to say anything bad about her reaction this time. That would be the best thing in the world to hear in Stryder’s situation.
Wanda, however, is understandably not as happy about hearing that, though she doesn’t say or do anything. Ian and Jared keep talking, with Ian asking Jared to see the other side of things by thinking about what it would be like if he was Wanda; trapped in a human body only to find out you don’t belong with your own kind, and surrounded by violent people who hate you and want you dead, even after you’ve almost died trying to help your host get back to her family.
He asks Jared if he, in that position, would deserve a life too for having done all that, and yeah, okay, Ian has made what Wanda’s done sound very admirable, and Jared should have a hard time countering that. If I’d just been told that story about Wanda, I’d certainly have felt sympathetic toward her, but as it is, I’ve seen how she’s actually thought and acted throughout this journey and it wasn’t as wonderful and self-sacrificing as all that…but still, Ian’s point is well made.
Jared doesn’t respond when Ian stops talking, and Wanda starts to tear up thinking about how highly Ian thinks of her. Ian asks Jared if he takes his point, so Jared says he’ll have to think about it. Ian tells him to do that, and Jared is about to protest, but Ian interrupts him and tells him not to get worked up about the physical aspect, since Wanda isn’t exactly human, despite the body, and she doesn’t respond to physical contact the same way a human would. Uh oh…prepare to be hurt, Ian.
Jared laughs and tells Ian that Wanda is fully capable of responding to physical contact; that at least her body is human enough for that. Ian goes silent. Jared asks if he’s jealous, and Ian admits that he is, then asks how Jared would know that.
Jared tells him it was an experiment that didn’t go the way he had expected it to, and admits that Stryder punched him because of it. Ian is confused about that, so Jared says it definitely wasn’t Wanda that hit him because of the expression on her face after, and Ian gets really pissed, asking him if he ever thought about what that would do to Wanda.
Jared is confused by Ian’s anger, so Ian tells him to get out and stay away from him for a few hours, then goes back into his room. So he really, genuinely does care about Wanda and her feelings. That’s nice. And hopefully Jared can feel some well-deserved guilt for doing what he did.
As much as parts of this exchange between Jared and Ian were problematic, I do like that they seem to sort of balance each other out and make each other see the other side to the situation. I still don’t know how that’s supposed to fill 23 more chapters, though…
When Ian gets back in the room, he sees that Wanda is still awake, which surprises him, and he realizes that she heard the whole conversation. He waits to try to hear Jared leave, but he can’t hear anything, so he sits down on the mattress across from Wanda and addresses what she heard.
Wanda says sound carries in the caves, which again makes me wonder how no one heard the goddamn room being destroyed after her fight with Kyle, but whatever, and then Ian asks her what she thinks. I’m not sure exactly what he’s asking about there, but perhaps just what she thinks of both of them loving the different parts of her, so this should be interesting. As interesting as this book can be, anyway.
That’s the end of the chapter, and there’s not really much to say other than what I already have, since I don’t know what will come of this…but I expect it to be awkward. Yay for awkwardness! So join me next time for New Year’s Eve awkwardness. Wheeee!
(See Mike’s take on this chapter at http://emptystress.wordpress.com!)