Story Title: Breathe Again by ysar
Chapter: 34. Closure
Genre: Twilight – Romance / Hurt/Comfort
Warnings: Strong Language, Violence,
Post Word Count: 5138
Status: Work In Progress
Summary: “If Alice hadn’t seen Bella cliff-dive, what would have happened? Would Bella have given in to her feelings for Jacob? Was she even capable of moving on? Victoria’s hunting, Edward’s coming back—and that’s just the beginning!”
“Everything okay?” Charlie asked, poking his head around the corner. His brow furrowed more deeply as he took in what I could only imagine was my shocked expression, and he quickly moved to step between Emmett and me. Any other time it would have been funny, Charlie thinking he could protect me from some of the most powerful creatures in existence, but at that moment the humor of the situation was lost.
“Charlie!” Alice exclaimed happily, moving just a little too fast to get around Emmett. Fortunately, Charlie seemed too surprised at seeing her to notice her unnatural speed.
“Alice?” he asked, sounding just as confused as I was. “What are you doing here?” His eyes darted quickly to Emmett, and then narrowed upon recognition before he looked back over at Alice. “I mean…I didn’t realize you…”
“I know what you mean, Charlie,” she laughed, her perfect musical voice making the moment all the more surreal. “Emmett and I just finished a campus tour in Seattle, and we couldn’t be so close and not stop by.”
“Oh. Well…ah…you guys hungry? We always have leftovers,” he offered, showing his rarely seen hospitable side.
“Oh, no, thank you,” she replied sweetly. “We stopped and got a bite on the way.”
“Speaking of being on the way…” Emmett said, backing toward the door. “We still have a long drive ahead of us. We should probably hit the road.” As if to prove his point, he stepped back outside and waited, looking expectantly back in at Alice.
“Nonsense!” Alice exclaimed. “We have so much catching up to do. How have you been, Charlie?”
I had to hand it to her. She was good. Engaging Charlie in conversation while ignoring Emmett was surely the best way to ensure no one protested. And a part of me wanted to. Catching up? How about explaining? They’d all abandoned me, and yet here they were, standing in my house, acting as if everything was normal. I watched as she laughed and talked to Charlie for a few minutes, not actually hearing a word of it. I was too busy trying to wrap my head around it.
“Bella?” she asked softly, the sound of my name breaking me from my thoughts. I shook myself out of my trance and found Alice and Charlie were both staring at me as if waiting for something.
“Ah…what?” I asked stupidly.
“You girls want to have a slumber party?” Charlie asked.
Slumber party? What was I? Nine? “Ah…sure,” I said a bit uncertainly. I had no idea what the night would bring, but I knew it would be my chance to get some answers.
Alice rushed forward to hug me, and for a second I was taken back, back to when I thought I’d have her forever, back when I’d believed that we would be family someday.
“Ok then,” Charlie said. “You mind taking the sofa?” he asked Emmett. “I know it’s small, but…”
“I’m sure it’ll be fine, Chief Swan,” Emmett replied stepping back inside and closing the door behind him.
Ten minutes later, the “bed” Emmett wouldn’t be using was all set up and Charlie headed off to his own room.
The three of us stood in awkward silence for a few seconds before I just shook my head and walked into the living room. Since I knew Emmett wouldn’t be making much use of the sofa, I took a seat on the well worn quilt thrown over it and waited.
“I suppose we owe you an explanation,” Alice said apologetically as she seated herself next to me.
Emmett said nothing as he sat down in Charlie’s recliner, and though they both appeared to be waiting for me to say something, all I could do was nod.
“I couldn’t see you,” Alice said, sounding almost guilty.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“I just…couldn’t see you. I wasn’t supposed to be looking, but sometimes I just couldn’t help myself, and—“
“You weren’t supposed to?” I asked before she could explain further. I had the feeling I knew exactly what she meant, but some masochistic part of me needed confirmation that Edward really wanted nothing to do with me anymore.
“He…I mean, it would just complicate things,” she said.
“I see.” And I did see. Edward thought so little of me now that he couldn’t even be bothered with Alice’s visions.
“And you were just gone,” she continued. “Look, Bella, I know you’re upset, and I’m sorry I can’t explain everything—“
“Can’t? Or won’t?” Emmett interrupted.
Her eyes narrowed menacingly and I instinctively leaned away as she turned to glare at him. “This is all your fault, you know,” she spat accusingly.
“My fault?” he laughed hollowly. “I think we both know who’s fault this is,” he said.
“I’m not the one who decided to be so obvious about it,” she argued.
“And I’m not the one who decided not to tell anyone,” he countered.
“So you just asked yourself in?”
“What was I supposed to do?” he asked. “I had to be sure.”
I had no idea what they were talking about now, but it was pretty clear neither of them planned on elaborating for me. They were too caught up in their vague little heated discussion, and the fact that I was still sitting there didn’t seem to register with either of them until Alice slipped.
“Well, now you’ve upset her,” Alice complained.
“Now?” I asked, suddenly very angry. “Now you’ve upset me? Now?” I repeated, my voice rising with every syllable. “Then just what the hell do you call what happened when you left?”
“Bella, please,” Alice begged, her eyes wide and pleading. “I never wanted this. You know that. You know me.”
“I thought I knew all of you,” I said angrily. “But then you just disappeared. One minute we were practically family and the next you were gone. Like you never even existed,” I added, taking advantage of the words Edward had stunned me with. “I mean, I know his mind was made up, but couldn’t you at least have said goodbye? You were supposed to be my best friend,” I said, choking through my tears as I struggled to get out those last words.
Alice hugged me again, and this time I couldn’t help but cling to her. I was so mad at her, at all of them, but I’d missed them so much.
“Get a room,” Emmett suddenly laughed, lightening the mood just enough to slow my crying, and I couldn’t help but laugh right along when I looked over at him.
The mischievous twinkle was back in his eyes, and though it was clouded by what may have been guilt or pity, it was the Emmett I’d come to miss so much. He stood up then, an enormous grin taking over his face, and held his arms out to me. I jumped up, knocking my shin painfully against the coffee table, and eliciting another one of his boisterous laughs as I practically threw myself at him. I was nearly crushed, but I didn’t care. I didn’t know why they were here or if they’d be staying, and I wasn’t going to miss my one chance to hold on to two of the most important people in my life.
After what felt like not nearly long enough, I pulled back enough to strain my neck and look up at him. “So…” I hesitated. “The others?”
“They miss the hell out of you, little human,” he said.
“Even Rose,” he replied.
I raised an eyebrow skeptically.
“Okay, no, she doesn’t,” he shrugged. “I tried.”
He had me laughing again as a mixture of sadness and joy combined into more tears. “I miss them, too,” I whispered, knowing they had no trouble hearing me. “So much.”
The silence that settled in this time wasn’t awkward or tension-filled, and I knew it was because we were all simply remembering, maybe wishing a little that everything hadn’t turned out do badly.
After a few moments, Emmett once again spoke up.
“Okay, ladies, I’m outta here.”
“But Charlie—” I protested, worried what Charlie might think if he came downstairs and found Emmett’s makeshift bed empty.
“Charlie’s snoring,” Emmett replied. “He’s kind of loud, you know. Besides, I’ll be back before you know it,” he said with a wink.
It was then that I noticed his eyes weren’t as light as Alice’s, and he probably just needed to hunt. If not for being in a house that probably reeked of humans, he most likely could have gone a few more days. It must have been a slow torture for him.
Once Emmett was gone, Alice and I went up to my room, and I changed into my sweats and t-shirt, even though I doubted I’d be getting any sleep. When I came back out of the bathroom she was perched on the edge of my bed, still as a statue, and I wondered briefly if they’d been spending their time away from humans. It seemed strange that she would act so…un-human. But since my window for questions was probably smaller than I would hope, I didn’t waste my time trying to satisfy idle curiosity.
“Explain,” I said, slipping beneath the covers and pulling my pillow up to recline against the headboard. “What do you mean you can’t see me?”
“Well, it’s not all the time,” she said. Sometimes I get little flashes. You know, like a little glimpse of you when you’re at school or cooking dinner, but… It’s just not like my other visions. It’s like I can’t find you sometimes, even when I’m looking for you.”
“I don’t understand,” I said. Alice had never had any trouble seeing me before.
“I don’t either,” she agreed. “You’re right here, but it’s like…it’s almost like something’s blocking me, kind of the way your mind always blocked…,” she trailed off before mentioning him, even though it was already obvious what she was going to say.
“Could it be the distance?” I asked. “Or maybe just…since we don’t see each other anymore?”
“That’s never been a problem before,” she said, shaking her head. “And it’s getting worse.”
“That’s bad, isn’t it?” I asked, worried that her lack of vision could mean that soon there wouldn’t be anything of my future to see.
“It’s frustrating,” she said, “but what I do see isn’t bad.”
“So why now?” I finally asked. “I thought you’d all forgotten about me,” I admitted.
“Bella!” she gasped, seemingly shocked that I would think that. “You know that’s not true.”
I wasn’t so sure. I mean, I wanted to believe her. But how does someone stay away for so long, without so much as a goodbye, if they really care about you? So I said nothing.
“It’s been a couple of weeks since I could see you,” she explained. “The last clear vision I had of you was at a party or something…the beach… but then it got all fuzzy and just faded away. I kept thinking I wasn’t looking hard enough, and that I’d have another vision any day, but it just didn’t happen.” She suddenly looked over at the window, cocking her head to the side as if she heard something. Then a sad smile graced her lips and she turned back to me. “I got scared,” she said. “I kept telling myself you were fine, but I was afraid…something had happened to you, and I didn’t know what to do.”
“So you came to check on me,” I mumbled, a little disappointed. Why couldn’t she have said it was because she missed me?
“No, I came to check on you,” Emmett announced, swinging rather gracefully through my open window and landing on his feet without a sound. “She just tagged along,” he told me.
“I did not!” Alice insisted. “I was trying to sneak away,” she said, giving Emmett a pointed look. “But someone had to get in my way.”
“Not my fault you’re so obvious,” he laughed.
I remained silent, observing their light banter and picking up a few more details. It seemed Alice had tried to sneak off while everyone was hunting, but Emmett just happened to catch her. When she’d finally admitted to him what she was up to, he simply took off without her. I could tell from his expression that he’d been really worried about me, and I wondered if the rest of them would have been so concerned. Actually, I could probably name one who wouldn’t have cared at all.
“You’re not staying, are you?” I asked, allowing my melancholy train of thought lead to the final question that weighed heavily on me.
“No, I’m sorry. But we can stay tonight,” Alice said sadly.
I sighed, accepting it because I had no choice. What I did have, though, were several more hours before they’d have to go.
“So where are you…ah…?” I stammered, not really sure what they’d be okay with my knowing. “So you like where you live now?” I finally asked.
We sat up talking most of the night. Once, around midnight, Charlie apparently decided to check in on us, but before he could even open his bedroom door, Emmett was out the window, back in through the front door, and feigning sleep on the sofa. Charlie gave me a look that told me he thought I was staying up too late, but he chose not to say anything and soon went back to bed. Emmett was back in my room within seconds, and Alice was happily demanding to know everything that was going on in my life.
I really didn’t have much to tell them, though. I skipped over the first few months after they left, not wanting to make them feel any guiltier than they already did, and also not wanting to admit what a basket case I’d been. Emmett nearly rocked right out of my rocking chair when I told them about Mike’s attempts to trick me into dating him, and Alice looked like she might be having a seizure, she was laughing so hard. I mentioned Angela, and Emmett immediately asked about Ben, which seemed a little strange, but he just smiled and looked oddly proud when I told him they were still together.
The hard part was leaving out Jacob. I wasn’t sure how either of them would take it if I said I was seeing someone else, but that wasn’t the problem. The problem was what he was. I knew the existence of the pack was a secret, and just like I’d kept the Cullens’ secrets, I had to keep theirs. So much of my relationship with Jacob was interwoven with his supernatural side, everything from his killing Laurent to protecting me from Victoria, and once I omitted all those details, I didn’t have much left to say.
It’s not that our relationship hinged on those things. It’s just that so much of what he was was so closely tied with who he was. And I was afraid I’d slip up or, more likely, make it obvious that I was hiding something. So rather than chance exposing the pack, I simply talked about anything else but them.
Leaving the pack out also meant leaving Victoria out, but that was probably a good thing. I knew that there would be no way to explain how I even knew she was after me, much less still being alive in spite of her efforts without spilling every detail. And I owed it to Jacob, and the rest of the pack for protecting me, to keep my mouth shut.
Alice told me all about Carlisle and Esme, describing their new house in astounding detail while somehow leaving out the key things that might have hinted at their location. Emmett told me about travelling through Europe for a while with Rosalie, how she’d taken advantage of the Autobahnen and how he’d finally had to drag her home. The entire family had visited Denali a couple of times, and I couldn’t help but wonder if that was one of the “distractions” Edward had been referring to. Alice implied that he was still travelling, but she never directly brought him up, and any time the conversation seemed to be steering toward him, Emmett interrupted with something completely off topic.
Apparently none of the other Cullens had any idea that Alice and Emmett were in Forks, and that’s why they had been in such a hurry to get back. Alice had left a note to assure them she and Emmett were fine, but Jasper and Rosalie would be worried nonetheless, not to mention Esme and Carlisle.
“I don’t think them worrying is what we should be afraid of,” Emmett laughed wryly.
I knew he was talking about Edward. Not that I cared. He’d left me and taken away the family I thought I had. He’d taken Alice away from me, my best friend, and left me all alone to grieve. The fact that he would be mad at them for coming to see me only made me resent him more.
“Why didn’t you say goodbye to me?” I asked, feeling my eyelids beginning to grow heavy.
If her face could have paled, I’m sure it would have. She looked so guilty for a moment that I almost regretted opening my mouth.
“He wouldn’t let us,” she said quietly.
It all made sense now…Alice’s guilt…Emmett’s anger. Edward wouldn’t let them say goodbye to me. Aside from his leaving me, the most hurtful thing he could do was not allow me any closure with the rest of the family. I knew I couldn’t have convinced him to stay, and since he didn’t love me anymore, it would have been stupid to try to do so, but why would he make it that much more hurtful by denying me the chance to say goodbye to…my family?
“I think he thought it was for the best,” Emmett explained.
“For the best? He thought it was for the best? Is he stupid?!” I asked angrily, shaking off the sleepiness that was trying to pull me under.
“Yes. Yes, he’s stupid,” Alice sighed, not at all offended by my outburst.
It was a strange reply, and oddly enough, it made me laugh. Not a gut-busting laugh, but enough to break the tension. Alice took it as an opportunity to abruptly change the subject, and I have to say I was relieved. The last thing I wanted to talk about was how Edward had hurt me.
We spent a little longer pondering the vision thing, why she couldn’t see me most of the time, and why she couldn’t see me clearly when she did get a glimpse. But we finally decided it was just a fluke, probably caused by our abrupt separation or something, and since there was obviously nothing wrong with me, it wasn’t something we should dwell on. Maybe we were just too disconnected now. As far as I was concerned, that was Edward’s fault too. As much as I wanted to be mad at all of them, as much as they’d all hurt me when they’d left, I couldn’t really blame them for standing by Edward, even if he was in the wrong. It still hurt, but I had to forgive them. And the truth was, this was as close to closure as I was going to get.
“Come on, Bella. You’re going to be late to school. Don’t want to keep Mike waiting,” Emmett laughed.
“And we really should be going,” Alice added.
“Can’t you stay longer?” I pleaded.
“No, I’m sorry. But I promise I’ll call. No one ever has to know,” she said.
“That’s not true. Edward will know,” I replied, seeing her wince at the mention of his name.
“Well, he won’t have to know for a while,” Emmett said, “Not until he’s done traveling.”
I sighed heavily, and she wrapped me in a hug. Emmett did the same, and I swear it felt like he kissed the top of my head.
“Please come visit again…if you can,” I said hopefully, heading to the bathroom to brush my teeth.
“We’ll see,” Alice said softly.
And when I came out of the bathroom, they were gone.
I don’t know how I did it, but I slept. No tossing and turning, no dreams, no…anything. But I suppose that’s because the part of me that was capable of dreaming wasn’t capable at anything at all that night. Waking up wasn’t so uneventful, though.
The second the sunlight slipped through my barely opened eyes, the sights and sounds of the night before slammed into me with a force even I wasn’t strong enough to withstand. My head spun and my stomach churned, and jumped from bed, running toward the bathroom and shoving Rachel out of my way to get there. I heaved the contents of my stomach, all the while wishing it was as easy to purge the pain in my heart.
Paul nearly ripped the door off its hinges to get to me, and I could hear the crumbling as the ineffective spring in the baseboard buckled and the doorknob embedded itself into sheetrock. I didn’t even look up, expecting he was there to kick my ass for pushing Rachel, and in a way I welcomed that. Anything would have been better than what I was feeling right now. But after a moment I only heard him sigh, and a second later his footsteps carried back down the hall away from me.
I needed to get it together. I needed to think straight and figure this out.
What if I was wrong? What if the leeches were at Bella’s for some other reason? No, I didn’t have a clue what other reason there could possibly be, but anything would be better than losing her. I just couldn’t lose her.
There was a knock on the already open door, but I didn’t bother looking up. I just slumped back against the side of the tub and tried to get a grip on myself. I was completely freaking out to the point of being sick, and I really didn’t know anything yet.
“Not now, Dad,” I said, slumping back against the side of the tub.
“Well, make it soon,” he said. “Sam wants to see you.”
I shook my head instead of actually answering and plunked down in a chair across from Sam. He was finishing the last of his breakfast, and he didn’t even look up when I sat down. Emily set a cup of coffee and a plate with a couple of biscuits in front of me, and I tried to smile my thanks, but I knew it fell short. She just patted me on the shoulder and went into the living room, where she flipped on the TV and started watching some soap opera crap.
“Have you talked to her?” Sam finally asked, still chewing his last bite.
“Not yet,” I told him.
“You plan to?” he asked.
Of course I planned to. I had to. I was just dreading it. “Yeah.”
“You know we can’t protect her,” he said. “The treaty—”
“I know about the damned treaty,” I snapped.
Is if one problem wasn’t enough for me, the treaty restricted us from guarding outside La Push. Not only did my girlfriend have leeches in her house, but now some stupid treaty that was probably a hundred years old stood in the way of my protecting her. The Cullens had their territory, and we had ours. Except Bella was standing in theirs.
“That gonna be a problem for you?” Sam asked.
Was he serious? What part of it wasn’t a problem for me? Any other guy would have been able to walk into his girlfriend’s house, kick the ex-boyfriend’s ass, and be done with it. But not me. No, I had to worry about losing control with Bella’s vampire houseguests and accidentally hurting her. I had to worry about breaking some old treaty that I never even got a say in making. I had to worry that she might choose them, that they would turn her into one of them.
“No,” I sighed, not really wanting to spill my guts to Sam.
He gave me a weird look, kind of like he didn’t believe me, but he didn’t say anything. After a couple of seconds, he got up and took his plate to the sink. I sat there like an idiot while he grabbed his keys and kissed Emily goodbye. Apparently he had places to go or something, and leaving me at his kitchen table was just fine with him. I didn’t care where I was anyway. Everything inside me was still all jumbled up and hurting.
“Jake?” Emily called softly.
I turned and saw her patting the sofa cushion beside her, so I dragged myself on in there.
“Wanna talk about it?” she asked.
I just shook my head. I didn’t want to talk about it. I just wanted to figure it out and do something about it. The Cullens were back, Bella was happy with them, and I was…I didn’t know what I was, but it wasn’t good.
“Okay, then,” she said. “You can listen.”
I let my head drop against the back of the sofa and closed my eyes. I really just wanted to go to sleep and forget that whatever was going on ever happened.
“She calls every day, you know,” Emily started. “As soon as she gets home from school, she calls to see if you’re back. I’m actually kind of surprised,” she laughed. “The way she looks at you when you’re together…the way she sounds when I tell her you’re still gone…I half expected her to be camping out at your house by now.”
She stopped talking for a minute and flipped through some channels, and I didn’t say a word. I knew how Bella looked at me. I saw how much she loved me, and that’s what was making this so hard. I couldn’t believe she’d leave me, but then I saw them, those things, and everything I was afraid of came to the surface. What if it wasn’t enough? What if the time we’d spent together and the way she was around me wasn’t enough. What if I wasn’t enough?
“Sam says you can’t protect her,” she finally continued. “But he’s wrong. Just because you can’t hunt vampires in her backyard doesn’t mean you can’t look out for her. I know you haven’t talked to her yet, but you’re only kidding yourself if you think it’s better this way.”
“I don’t,” I sort of mumbled. “It hurts like hell.”
“Why? Because you don’t know what’s going on?” she asked. “Because that’s your own doing. You could have called her. Hell, you could’ve gone to see her, but instead you’re moping around here.”
I shook my head. “I wanted to go over there…you know? I just wanted to see her. But I was so pissed off, and I couldn’t…what if I lost it? What if I ended up hurting her like…?” Shit. I knew better than to finish the question, but it was too late. Emily knew exactly what I meant.
“Then you did the right thing,” she replied, and I immediately felt guilty for even bringing it up.
I knew Emily was sensitive about what had happened. I mean, who wouldn’t be? Sam hurt her—bad—and it probably just made it worse that we all knew about it. He spent so much time hating himself, and she spent so much time forgiving him, and here I was bringing it all up again.
“But what if she’s already gone? What if I’m too late? I shouldn’t have come home. I shouldn’t have gone to sleep. I was sleeping and she was probably packing.” My words were rushed and sounded just as scattered and panicked as I felt.
“Do really think that?” she asked.
“No,” I sighed. And it was the truth. I was just so scared that I might be wrong.
“Wanna know what I think?” Emily asked.
“No.” She was just going to tell me I was being stupid, which I already knew.
“I think Bella’s at school right now, and she’s going to call today just like she’s done every day. You can either hide here on the rez you can clean yourself up and go see her. She’s been waiting for you, Jacob. She missed you and worried about you and waited for you.”
“I know, but—”
“No buts. You either love her enough to face her, or you don’t. Maybe you find out she’s leaving, and you get some closure. Or maybe you find out you’re an idiot, and she’s just crazy enough to hang onto you. But either way, you find out something, and you’re not stuck here wondering about it. It’s that simple.”
“I can’t…I…what if I say the wrong thing?” I asked. “What if I screw this up?”
“Bella loves you,” she said, as if that solved everything.
I only hoped we were both right about that.
I was halfway to Forks when Sam happened to phase and caught me. He probably wasn’t thrilled about where I was going, but what he really had a problem with was the fact that I was running around in wolf form. The second I felt his mind imposing on mine, I phased back. Running as a human was easy enough anyway, even if it wasn’t nearly as invigorating
I didn’t see what the big deal was anyhow. Yeah, I knew we weren’t supposed to patrol Forks if the Cullens were back. But why did that have to mean I couldn’t phase? It’s not like I was planning on stopping off at their house or cave or whatever they lived in. The truth was that I didn’t want to see them at all.
I circled by her house first, praying that her truck wouldn’t be there. Sure enough, the driveway was empty, and even though I kept telling myself that was a good sign, that it must mean she was in school, I couldn’t just wait around to find out. I jogged over to the high school after that, slowing my pace to something a little more “normal” since I was in the main part of town in the middle of the day, and I just about fell to my knees when I saw that rusted up hunk of metal parked all crooked at the edge of the lot.
She was still here. I could still breathe. For now.