Story Title: Breathe Again by ysar
Chapter: 31. Confessions
Genre: Twilight – Romance / Hurt/Comfort
Warnings: Strong Language, Violence,
Post Word Count: 4954
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!”
His breathing was steady now, but his heart was still thundering, echoing into the ear I had pressed against his shoulder. It made me even more anxious, but I knew we had to talk. Or at least I did.
I sat back just enough to look at him, and it broke my heart all over again. It was all there in his expression: pain, fear, love, hope. The last two, I could deal with, but I needed to do something about the others. But before I could find the right words, he spoke up.
“I need to know everything,” he said softly, his eyes pleading with me.
I nodded and lay my head back on his shoulder, taking a deep breath and telling myself that I just needed to say it all as carefully yet honestly as possible, and get it over with. I’d too often made the mistake of thinking all the drama was over when something else was lurking around the corner, just waiting to take us out. So I wasn’t going to assume laying out all the facts would do anything to resolve everything, but I had to have faith in Jacob. I had to have faith he would really try to understand. And then we could both try not to overreact this time.
“Carlisle and Esme gave me the tickets for my birthday. It was so Edward and I could go visit my mom.” He tensed up the second I said Edward’s name, and I pressed my lips to his neck, kissing softly until he relaxed again. “I got a camera, too,” I said, “and that CD, and a stereo for my truck”
I paused, not sure if I should tell him what the CD really was, and I knew he could figure out the stereo part. After all, he’d seen its mangled remains. But if secrets I didn’t even know about, things that had been hidden away under my floor could cause this kind of pain, I knew I shouldn’t purposely keep anything from him. “Edward wrote me a song, and he recorded it on the CD, but then he left and took everything with him,” I said in a rush. “At least I thought he did.”
Jacob was still silent, still listening, although his grip on me had tightened just a bit. I didn’t really know what else to say, so I just started thinking out loud. “It doesn’t make any sense, really. Why would he give me a gift like that and then just leave me? And what was the point of hiding it? If he didn’t want me to have it, he should have just taken it with him or thrown it away or something. Obviously I wasn’t supposed to know everything was there. And it’s not like I’ll ever get the chance to ask him. He made it pretty clear that he could go on just fine without me.”
As the words tumbled out, the bitterness seeped in. After all this time, after everything I’d been through with Jacob, after werewolves and Laurent and Victoria and…everything, I was angry. I expected the hole in my chest to rip open, raw and throbbing with pain. But it was gone, replaced by sadness wrapped in a slow rage.
“So you haven’t talked to him at all?” Jacob asked.
“No. When he left, he disappeared. They all did. Edward acted like I would just forget about him, like it should be easy.”
“You still love him,” Jacob said quietly, It wasn’t a question.
I sat back to look at him again, not saying anything for several long seconds. I didn’t want to say the wrong thing, and I didn’t want to lie. I reached out, running my fingers over his jaw before placing my hands on either side of his face and looking him squarely in the eyes. “I love you,” I said.
“And him?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” I answered truthfully. “Maybe? I suppose I’ll always love who I thought he was.”
Jacob’s hold on me loosened, and his eyes closed again. No, I wasn’t going to let him shut down now. I leaned in quickly and kissed him. He held himself stiffly, and he barely responded. Not good enough. So I wound my hands around his neck and tried uselessly to pull him to me. When that didn’t work, I just pressed into him harder, refusing to give up until he kissed me back or pushed me away. And just as I started to wonder if too much damage had been done, his lips moved, parting just enough that his warm breath washed over my face.
“I love you,” I whispered, never removing my lips from his.
And finally he kissed me back. It wasn’t sweet or gentle. There was nothing careful about it. But it was everything he was feeling, and I wasn’t going to deny him that. His tongue pushed past my lips as his hand wove into my hair, holding me in place as his mouth pressed almost painfully against mine. I ran my hands over his chest, up his neck and to his face again, just holding and touching and waiting for him to know, to feel that everything was going to be okay. And when I offered no resistance, even threw myself into the kiss, I began to feel the desperation slip away from him. His touch grew softer and his body relaxed, and his lips began making their way down my neck. I tried lifting myself up for him, but the pressure on my bandaged knees was too painful, so I just leaned, letting my head fall back. He moved one hand from my hip to my back, tugging at the back of my robe until it slipped just enough to expose my shoulder, and his lips never left my skin. I noticed too late that his other hand was at the front of my robe, but before I could react his fingers curled around the fabric, clutching it together and pressing it securely against me. I couldn’t help the chuckle that escaped my lips.
“Something funny?” he asked, skimming his mouth back up my neck to a spot below my ear that sent a shiver through my entire body.
“No,” I gasped.
“I…” His tongue flicked out and his teeth grazed my ear, and I completely forgot how to speak.
“I love you,” he whispered.
The small noise that escaped my throat was my only response.
“Are you wearing anything under this robe?”
My eyes flew open and I automatically lurched backward. He slipped his hand behind my head just as I would have surely banged it into the cabinet.
“Maybe you should get dressed?” he said with a smirk.
“Maybe she should.”
We both jerked our gazes in the direction of Charlie’s voice. He was standing in the doorway, his face only slightly less red than mine at the moment, only whereas my reason was utter mortification and maybe a little fear, his was looked to be pure fury.
“Ah…Char-I mean, Dad…I was just…I…” My complete loss for words couldn’t have been helping the situation.
“Looks like you fell,” he said, his eyes flickering over my bandaged knee.
“Yeah,” I nodded weakly.
“And Jake got you all fixed up?”
“Get dressed,” he said. “And you,” he said, turning his focus to Jake. “Downstairs. Now.”
Charlie walked away before I say another word.
“Guess I’m off to face the firing squad,” Jake laughed.
I half-heartedly slapped his chest. “Not funny, Jacob.” For all we knew, Charlie was downstairs loading a gun at that very moment.
I shifted, reaching awkwardly up behind myself to grab onto the counter and pull myself up, but nearly fell over as a sharp twinge shot up my shoulder. Guess that particular muscle wasn’t meant for that position.
Jake laughed, of course, and slid his hands up my sides under my arms, lifting me easily to my feet. He hurriedly looked away, and whatever dignity I had left died the second I realized why. My robe had shifted and opened just enough that my underwear was showing…and it had stupid little smiley faces all over it. I pulled yanked my robe closed and stepped over him, heading straight to my room. He could face Charlie alone. I would be wallowing in the mortifying realization that I dressed like a five year old.
The first thing I did was change underwear. Plain gray would do just fine. Then I slipped on some jeans and a loose peasant top, and stepped into the hallway. I could hear Charlie pacing, but it didn’t sound like either one of them was talking—if Jake was even still here.
I stood at the top of the stairs for several long seconds, not sure if I should wait or join them, when I finally heard Charlie’s voice. Unfortunately he was speaking so low that I could only make out a few words, and they didn’t string together to make much sense. Well, that could be solved easily enough.
I crept down the stairs as quietly as I could, thinking I’d just eavesdrop a little before deciding whether or not to make my presence known. I was careful to avoid the steps that creaked, and I managed not to lose my footing on the one that wobbled a little. But just as I neared the bottom, Charlie stepped around the corner, glaring at me.
“Back upstairs,” he said, pointing over my head.
Like a scolded child, I tucked my head and did exactly what he said.
“Well?” I asked Jake.
His talk with Charlie had lasted at least three years, and I was pretty sure the stress had taken several more off my life. Their conversation was punctuated by the sound of the front door solidly closing, but I’d been afraid it was Jake who had left, and I was too chicken to go down and see for myself. It was with a mixture of anxiety and relief that I looked up to see him walk into my room.
He shrugged, sitting down on the edge of my bed, avoiding the head of the bed where the Edward memorabilia lay. He had a strange look on his face, though, and I couldn’t help the little bit of panic that set in. Was he here to say goodbye because Charlie had forbidden him from seeing me anymore?
“You were down there for a long time,” I said, hoping to coax a little more information from him.
“Not really,” he replied. “Your dad spent most of it pacing and giving me the evil eye.”
I got up from my seat at my desk and went to sit beside him on the bed. I breathed a small sigh of relief when he lay back, legs still dangling off the side, and pulled me back with him. We both stared at the ceiling for a while until I couldn’t take it anymore.
“Spill,” I said.
“He came in here this morning…we were sleeping,” he said. “And he doesn’t want me coming in the window anymore.”
Well, I knew that. “So…what now?”
“I have to use the door,” he said. “And wear a shirt. And your door stays open.”
“Great. He’s probably gonna peek in a dozen times a night, just to see if you’re in here.”
“No, Bells,” he laughed. “He means when I spend the night.”
“What?!” I asked a little too loudly, sitting straight up and turning to look at him. “You mean…?”
“Yep,” he said, popping the ‘p’ and smirking.
“That’s…” I trailed off, shaking my head as I tried to make sense of it. “Why?” I finally asked.
“He trusts you,” he said, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. “And he thinks you’ll do something stupid if he acts like a hardass,” he said. “Maybe run away again.”
“I never ran…oh.” Charlie still thought I ran off to Phoenix because of Edward. Well, in a sense he was right, but it wasn’t like that. And the situation was reversed, too. He thought I ran off to get away from Edward, and now he thought I might run away to be with Jacob. Then again, I had been willing to run away with Edward…at least when I thought he wanted me to.
I glanced over at Jake, expecting the smirk to still be there. Instead, his eyes were closed, and his lips curved down just enough to be considered a frown.
“Are you okay?” I asked. He wasn’t acting like the carefree Jacob I knew so well, and I was afraid Charlie might have said something else. What, I didn’t know, but something was bothering him.
“Are we okay?” he asked softly.
“Yes,” I said, dropping back onto the bed and pulling myself over to look down at him. His eyes were still sad, and I didn’t know what I was supposed to say to fix that. So I just kissed him.
I started with his forehead, and then his temple, and then over his jaw before I stopped just over his mouth. “I love you,” I said. “I need us to be okay.” I dropped a quick kiss on his lips and looked at him again. “This morning was…messed up,” I said. “But it doesn’t change anything. Well, maybe we need to stop being stupid and start talking things out more. But it doesn’t change us…at least not for me.”
He stared at me for a couple of seconds, looking again like he was searching for something, and then he smiled. My smile.
We lay there for the next couple of hours just talking, mostly about nothing in particular. A few somewhat important things came up, but we both managed to stay level-headed and not fly off the handle again. I asked him about that girl from the bonfire, Maria, and he admitted that most of the pack had been following her around for years. Of course, they were younger than she, so she paid them little attention until after they’d first phased. Only now they had girlfriends, were too busy, or were too full of themselves to take her seriously. Jared had apparently taken her out a few times, but now he was head over heels for a girl in his class.
I told him a little more about Edward leaving. Jake got pretty angry when I told him what Edward had said to me, but he mostly just muttered under his breath and held me a little tighter. The closest we got to yet another fight was when I admitted to him why I wanted to ride the motorcycle and go cliff diving. Jacob immediately threatened to rip both the bikes apart, and even when I explained that wasn’t the case anymore, he refused to ever go riding with me again. Lately we hadn’t really had time, but it wasn’t something I wanted to completely give up. I knew better than to push him now, though. Maybe after graduation, when we had more time to spend together I’d be able to coax him into a ride.
Jake took the UDub news better than I expected, asking questions instead of just reacting, and once I assured him that I wouldn’t simply be moving away, he actually seemed a little excited about me going to college. So now it was up to me to find a way to make it work.
When we finally decided to get up and get our day started, my legs practically screamed at me not to move, but I turned down Jake’s offer to carry me everywhere and popped a few aspirin instead. I was about to suggest watching a movie, a small part of me afraid that Charlie would come home for lunch or something and react badly to both of us lying on my bed. But just as I opened my mouth, I was cut off by a howl.
“Victoria?” I asked. It would only make sense, now that we were in a good place, to face another vampire attack.
“No,” he shook his head. “It’s important, but nothing to be afraid of. I should go, though.”
I was reluctant to let him leave, but I didn’t have much of a choice. At least he didn’t seem too happy about it either.
“I’ll see you later,” he said with a wink. “Leave your door open.” He ducked down to kiss me, and then he was gone.
This. If we could just stay like this everything would be okay. If I never had to let go of her, if we never had to get up off this floor and go back out into a world that seemed determined to make everything hell for us…but that would never happen. Bella started to lean back, and while everything in me just wanted to clamp down and keep her as close as possible, I let her.
Her eyes were wide and searching, and I knew we probably both needed answers. I needed to know what the hell was going on, and she needed to know…I don’t know…something. So I said it.
“I need to know everything.” I only hoped the answers wouldn’t do me in.
A war went on behind her eyes, and I wondered just what I’d asked for. But she just nodded and leaned back into me where I couldn’t see her face. At least there was some solace in her getting closer to me again.
“Carlisle and Esme gave me the tickets for my birthday. It was so Edward and I could go visit my mom.”
I hated when she said his name. She was all soft and quiet about it, and I couldn’t tell if it was because it still hurt her or if it was so it wouldn’t hurt me. And there were so many questions I wanted to ask, but none of it made any sense yet, especially since she said the tickets were for her birthday. Were they just left behind when he took off? Were they still planning on going? Where did I fit in? Her lips touched against my neck, and I knew she could feel how torn I was. So I tried to rein in my panic and just hear her out.
“I got a camera, too, and that CD, and a stereo for my truck.”
The stereo gave me some hope. That thing was ripped apart, wires cut and sticking out everywhere, and cracked plastic across the face. She’d killed it, a lot like I wanted to do to that leech.
“Edward wrote me a song, and he recorded it on the CD, but then he left and took everything with him. At least I thought he did. It doesn’t make any sense, really. Why would he give me a gift like that and then just leave me? And what was the point of hiding it? If he didn’t want me to have it, he should have just taken it with him or thrown it away or something. Obviously I wasn’t supposed to know everything was there. And it’s not like I’ll ever get the chance to ask him. He made it pretty clear that he could go on just fine without me.”
She sounded kind of mad now, and her words were rushed, like she was spitting them out, so I took a chance. “So you haven’t talked to him at all?” I asked.
“No,” she said, shaking her head against my neck. “When he left, he disappeared. They all did. Edward acted like I would just forget about him, like it should be easy.”
I knew too well just how wrong he was. I’d watched her wallow in it, the pain he left her with. I’d watched her try to rise from it. And I’d watched as she found her footing again. But that didn’t mean she was over everything.
“You still love him,” I whispered. She leaned back and gave me a strange look, like I’d surprised her. The truth was that I’d surprised myself. The words had just slipped out before I could stop them. I already knew the answer, and I didn’t want her to confirm it. I certainly didn’t mean to say it out loud. Shit.
And then she surprised me. She got a determined look in her eye and her hands came to rest on my cheeks. “I love you,” she said.
It should have been enough. I should have just taken those words and wrapped myself up in them because, when it came down to it, all I really needed was Bella’s love. But my heart was on a suicide mission. “And him?”
“I don’t know,” she said, almost apologetically. “Maybe? I suppose I’ll always love who I thought he was.”
I loved her more than anything, more than I thought was possible, more than one little word like that could hold. But I was still in the damn leech’s shadow, and even though I hated that, as long as she loved me and wanted me, I’d be there for her. But it still hurt like hell. I closed my eyes and just tried to breathe evenly. She was being honest with me. I shouldn’t have been mad about it. I needed to just…accept it and keep loving her. She’d come around…right?
She kissed me then, and I just sort of let her. I wanted to kiss her back, but a part of me was asking if she’d rather be kissing that bloodsucker, and the rest of me just started to shut down. I wasn’t made for so much stress all in one morning.
But she didn’t give up on me, even when I felt like I was giving up on myself. Her kiss grew more persistent, even a little rough, and her whole body pressed against me. And then she said she loved me.
I could almost hear the snapping in my mind as every thought just turned itself off and became something else…something that could only feel. I was kissing her before I even realized what I was doing, dying to taste her on my tongue, needing to know that she was still mine. I pulled her as close as I could without crushing her, my fingers trying to sink too roughly into her skin. She responded, kissing me hard and furiously, and it wasn’t until I heard her sharp gasp that I realized it was too much, that I needed to be gentler.
Her hands were on my neck, my chest, my shoulders, and around to my back, and I was so tempted to do the same, but I stopped myself. After the morning from hell, the last thing I needed to do was push her. I loosened my hold on her and tried to calm myself down a little, kissing down her neck only to be met with the worn material of her robe. I tugged it out of the way, off her shoulder, only to feel the fabric slide in front, and I grabbed it, holding it closed before I got myself in trouble. If it was going to fall open, it would be because Bella wanted it to. And I really, really, really wanted her to want it to.
Instead, she kind of giggled. Not exactly the reaction I was going for.
“Something funny?” I asked, smirking against her skin as I worked my way almost up to her ear. There was something about that spot that got to her, and I didn’t understand it, but I could certainly use it to my advantage.
“You sure?” I asked in response to the “no” I barely heard.
This was more like it, the morning I had hoped for. One where I could hold her and kiss her and feel her heart speed up and her breathing change. Even if we never really did anything more than kiss, I loved that I could do this to her.
“I love you,” I breathed.
She made the cutest little whimpering sound and the hand holding her robe closed fought like hell against my better judgment.
“Are you wearing anything under this robe?”
She jumped back like she’d been burned, and I almost laughed at her, but she looked so shocked and embarrassed that I couldn’t. “Maybe you should get dressed?” I suggested, knowing I wanted anything but that.
“Maybe she should.”
Bella stuttered and stammered, probably making things look even worse than they were while Charlie was probably thinking up all kinds of new ways to kill me. I didn’t really care if he saw us kissing, but Bella’s robe trying to fall off and her straddling me was probably a little much for him.
“Get dressed,” he told her. “And you,” he said angrily as he turned to me. “Downstairs. Now.”
Bella struggled to pull herself off my lap, the combination of her probably sore legs and her constant clumsiness working against her. Her little struggle was working out too well for me, especially when she plopped right back down, and that was the last thing I needed before trying to reason with her gun-wielding dad. I ended up having to lift her, thinking that would solve the problem, but instead I got an eyeful of what she was wearing under the robe. What should have been innocent, silly looking panties was anything but, and I had to look away before I did something really stupid. I was never going to look at a smiley face the same way again. In fact, I was pretty sure I was going to develop some weird fetish for them now.
Charlie didn’t exactly look happy when he finally left, but at least he hadn’t gone completely nuts like I expected him to. I actually felt a little sorry for him. I mean, he was a good guy, and a good dad to Bella, and I wasn’t exactly making his job easier on him. At least now I knew the worst he would do was talk to my dad, and while I knew I’d probably get another condom lecture because of it, it was nothing I couldn’t handle.
“Well?” Bella asked as soon as I walked into the room.
I didn’t really want to tell her everything Charlie had said. I mean, I didn’t want to keep it from her, but he’d just seemed so … sad or whatever, and I kind of felt like maybe he wouldn’t want me reciting the whole conversation. After all, I was the one he’d wanted to talk to, not Bella, which I had to admit was a little backwards. Then again, he was okay with me spending the night in his daughter’s room, so maybe backwards was just his way. Whatever the case, I kind of felt like I was being trusted with a lot more than just Bella, and the last thing I wanted to do was betray that trust. So instead of saying anything, I just shrugged and sat down on the end of the bed, as far away from the leech crap that was still sitting there.
“You were down there for a long time,” she said.
“Not really,” I told her. I looked over at the clock—it had only been a few minutes. “Your dad spent most of it pacing and giving me the evil eye.”
She walked over and sat down beside me, so I leaned back, falling hard against the mattress, and pulled her back with me. I couldn’t help but smile to myself, knowing I’d get to lie here a lot more if she’d let me.
“Spill,” she demanded.
I told her about Charlie walking in while we were sleeping, and I listed off his little rules, laughing when she assumed he’d be watching her like a hawk from now on. And the look on her face, as well as the little screech that came out when I told her I was basically allowed to sleep with her was priceless. What sucked was when I had to tell her why
“He trusts you, and he thinks you’ll do something stupid if he acts like a hard-ass,” he said. “Maybe run away again.”
“I never ran…oh.”
It was obvious the second she figured out what I was talking about. And I hated it. I hated that she’d ever run off like that, and I especially hated that the leeches were the reason. Even more, I hated that the one they’d killed had tried to kill her first. But that was in the past, and I just needed to stop thinking about it. It was all her past. I wanted to be her future.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
“Are we okay?” I asked right back.
The kissing on her bathroom floor had been amazing, but I didn’t want to think that fixed everything. I’d been a complete dumbass, and she’d been a little crazy, too. Kissing, as good as it might have been, wasn’t a cure-all.
“Yes,” she said, surprising me a little with the quickness of her answer. She lay down with me again and kissed all over my face. It was probably the sweetest thing she’d ever done.
“I love you,” she said. “I need us to be okay. This morning was…messed up, but it doesn’t change anything. Well, maybe we need to stop being stupid and start talking things out more. But it doesn’t change us…at least not for me.”
I looked up at her, into those big brown eyes, and if I hadn’t already been flat on my back, the love in her eyes would have knocked me over.