Story Title: Breathe Again by ysar
Chapter: 33. Unexpected
Genre: Twilight – Romance / Hurt/Comfort
Warnings: Strong Language, Violence,
Post Word Count: 2578
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!”
The next couple of days were excruciating. I reprised a bit of my zombie role to get through my classes, unable to pay attention when I knew Jacob was out there somewhere, probably doing something incredibly stupid, possibly getting himself hurt or…worse.
I just couldn’t stand it. Walking through the halls, sitting in class, acting like everything was okay. I loved Jacob too much to be envious of the other students, so I just hated them for having normal, uncomplicated lives. Every time I overheard giggling and gossiping, I just wanted to hit someone. Mike started to come up to me once between classes, a big grin on his face, but he immediately changed course when I made eye contact with him. I should have felt guilty for silently pushing him away after saying we would be friends, but I was too distracted to feel much of anything. Even Angela gave me a wide berth, although I could feel her gaze following me as I turned to go to the library instead of eating lunch with everyone else. I just couldn’t stomach the inane chatter and simple conversations when someone I loved was putting himself in danger.
A part of me had wanted to tell him not to go, to stay with me and keep going about our everyday lives. But we didn’t have everyday lives anymore. The pack was always out, always searching and watching. The constant threat of Victoria had made things hard for everyone, whether they knew the reason behind the difficulties or not. Charlie was working overtime, the Newtons were trying to rebuild their store, and the pack was busy trying to guard and protect not only their tribe, but also everyone in Forks. In some ways, I had it the easiest. I hadn’t been able to see Jake much lately, but I could still go to school, go home, cook dinner, and basically go through the motions without interruption. So while I hated what was going on, I couldn’t deny that something had to be done, if not to protect me then certainly so that everyone else’s lives could go back to normal.
When school finally let out each day, I wasted no time, quickly throwing the truck in gear and racing out of the parking lot. Every day I wanted to drive straight to La Push, but I was too afraid I’d get there only to find that Jacob was still gone.
I spent evenings dusting and straightening and vacuuming—basically anything to keep myself busy while I prayed that the phone would ring. Of course, it didn’t. It was too soon. Jacob said they might be gone a few days. I did break down every afternoon and call Emily, though. And just as I expected, she hadn’t heard anything yet, either.
It was Thursday when I finally got some news, even though it wasn’t the news I’d been waiting for. Charlie came home I had dinner ready, and we sat down to what I hoped would be a quiet meal, but he knew something was wrong each day, the second he walked in to a spotless house.
“What’s going on, Bells?” he asked.
“Nothing much,” I said, hoping he’d let me get away with playing dumb. I should have known better.
“No. I mean, what’s going on? Something’s bothering you. Did you and Jake have another fight?”
It was completely out of character for Charlie to be asking me questions like that. Sure, he spoke up when he was really concerned about something. But to ask about the general status of my love life? I must have been a lot more obvious about my feelings than I thought.
I couldn’t very well tell him that Jacob was out hunting a monster that was trying to kill me. “No,” I sighed. “I’m just in a weird mood, I guess.”
Thankfully, Charlie didn’t press the issue, and I didn’t volunteer anything more. The rest of the meal passed in welcomed silence, and in no time, he carried his plate to the sink and then parked himself in front of the TV while I cleaned up.
I was in the middle of washing dishes when I heard a knock at the door.
“You expecting someone, Bella?” asked Charlie as he got up to answer.
Maybe it was Jacob. Maybe he’d come back early. Or maybe it was Emily. With Sam. With bad news. I quickly pushed the thought from my head and began scrubbing furiously. “No,” I said, afraid to get my hopes up.
“Hey, Chief Swan. Ah, is Bella here?”
The plate I was holding slipped and clattered against the sink, and I stood there, frozen. It couldn’t be. I had to be hallucinating. Could it even be called hallucinating if I was only hearing things and not seeing them?
“You okay, Bells?” Charlie asked, probably alarmed by the sound of shattering dishware more than the unexpected visitor.
“Yeah,” I said quietly, not sure if I should look up and confirm that I’d truly lost my mind.
There it was again. That voice. I’d know it anywhere.
“Well, I’ll leave you two to talk,” Charlie mumbled.
I stood there for what felt like an eternity, afraid to turn around and confirm the truth. Or maybe I was afraid he wasn’t really there after all, and it was all just some strange dream. But I couldn’t stand at the kitchen sink all night, and sooner or later I was going to have to look, so I slowly dried my hands on a dishtowel, took a couple of what were supposed to be calming breaths, and turned around. Emmett Cullen was standing in my kitchen.
“What…why…something…” I stammered, shaking my head. My words wouldn’t form around the wild tangle of thoughts. Why was Emmett here? Why now? Had something happened to Edward? Was Emmett sent to tell me? Or to finally take me with them?
“You’re okay,” he said, almost like he didn’t believe the words he was speaking.
“Okay?” I asked. I wasn’t okay. I hadn’t been okay since the moment Edward left, and without Jacob, who knows what shape I would have been in? Even so, I was most certainly not okay now. I was completely lost, confused, shocked.
“Alice saw… Well, I just wanted to make sure you’re okay,” he said, suddenly looking very uncomfortable.
“I’m…fine, I guess,” I replied, not knowing how I was really supposed to respond.
“Okay, good then,” he said. “I should probably get going.”
I didn’t say anything. I couldn’t believe he was standing there, and I certainly didn’t know what to think of his wanting to leave after only a minute.
“Take care of yourself, Bella,” he said as he stepped toward me. But then he stopped, as if he was afraid to come closer, and quickly looked down at the floor as he turned and rushed toward the door.
“Wait!” I practically shouted, hurrying after him.
He stopped for a second, but he didn’t turn around, and my heart broke a little more as his hand closed around the doorknob.
He couldn’t do this. He couldn’t just show up unannounced and unexplained after all this time and then leave. He was my only link to the family I’d considered my own, and I didn’t think I could hold it together if he walked out now. I had so many questions, so much that I needed explained, and I didn’t know if I’d ever have another chance.
The door flew open then, but instead of watching Emmett walk through it, I watched as he took a couple of steps backward. I let out a relieved breath, thankful that maybe I wasn’t going to left wondering any longer, and that’s when I saw another pair of golden eyes peering around his massive form, immediately locking with mine.
The red-haired leech was moving faster than we expected, but at least we managed to drive her inland and away from open water. That was the one place she could outrun us. Seth had had been quick about reporting her scent to Sam. Even with the lead she had and the time we wasted standing around in Sam’s living room, we caught up with her pretty quickly.
But of course the second we got close she knew it, and she took off faster than I ever would have expected. We fanned out a little, keeping her moving in the direction we wanted and away from populated areas. Unfortunately, she never stopped to take a break, and she never got tired. We, on the other hand, were wearing out.
Jared had stayed behind, not on the rez, but in Forks, keeping an eye on Bella in case it was a trap. But the leech didn’t seem quite so organized this time. She was alone, and her constantly changing direction made it look like she didn’t have any kind of plan, not even for her escape.
One by one, we dropped off and napped, but never for long. I had thought a couple hours of sleep would do me some good, but sprinting like a madman to catch back up when I woke nearly killed me. The only thing that worked in our favor was the false trails she kept trying to leave. Every so often her scent would lead different directions, and we’d have to split up to check them all. But it also meant she’d wasted time doubling back, and we needed that advantage.
I was determined to catch her this time. She’d been dancing around Forks for too long, getting too close, and while I told Bella it was nothing to worry about, I had to admit I was worried. I knew the pack could protect her. I knew I could protect her. But I remembered how terrified she looked when she realized Victoria was hunting her, and I would have done anything to eliminate that fear.
Of course, there were other people to think about too, even if Bella was the most important one in my mind. We’d been lucky those leeches that were there the night of the fires hadn’t actually attacked anyone, but that luck wouldn’t last long if we all just sat at home and waited for them to strike again.
My time on the hunt was repetitive: sleep, run, track, sleep, run, track. By Thursday we were all so worn out we hardly ‘spoke,’ and every of us was thinking of home. If it weren’t for Sam’s constant urging, not to mention an injunction, the others would have probably left us and gone back after just a day or two. But Sam was determined to do what he was made for, and I was determined to protect Bella.
Jared checked in with us regularly. Even though we could hear his thoughts, and even see what he was seeing if we wanted to, we were so concentrated on the hunt that he was just background noise…until his thoughts were suddenly screaming at us.
I froze in my tracks, zeroing in on Jared’s mind. So did the rest of the pack. For one heart-stopping second, I thought Victoria had deceived us, somehow leading us hundreds of miles from Forks, just so she could get to Bella while we were gone.
The rage that filled me would have been enough to phase into two wolves, if that had been possible. I instantly spun around and shot off toward Forks, racing ahead of the rest of the pack, who wasted no time following. I knew I would be too late. I knew there was nothing I could do to protect her from whatever was about to happen. But getting to her was my only thought. The fact that Jared was there and would fight for Bella hardly registered. I doubted he could easily take on two leeches anyhow, especially when one of them was so big. And then I saw what he was seeing.
A small black haired leech was standing in Bella’s doorway, talking to Charlie, and a bigger one stood off to the side nearby. There wasn’t even time for Jared to react before—
The pack’s initial panic quickly morphed into confusion while my own mind struggled to process what was happening. It had been one of my worst fears, and it was taking place right now, when I was too far away to do anything.
“Jake, what’s she doing?’
‘Is that a Cullen?’
‘Are they back?’
‘What about the red-haired one?’
‘No, we’re going back,” said Sam. “She’s made her choice.’
I had no answers for them. Their questions echoed my own. The Cullens were back, the pack had to stick to the treaty lines, and Bella had made her choice. I had nothing to go home to.
I got to Forks in the middle of the night and even though I knew it would probably make me miserable, I went straight to Bella’s. Sam and the rest of the pack headed home, all except Seth, who was stubbornly insisting that he was not going to miss out on the chance to take down a vampire. I was exhausted, but I was too numb to care. Everything I’d dreamed of had been mine, and now she was gone.
The shades were drawn back from her window, so I was both blessed and tortured with a perfect view. The little one was sitting on Bella’s bed, and they were whispering and laughing like the best of friends. I heard Bella call her “Alice.” This was the one who could see the future. The other one was nowhere to be seen.
I didn’t talk to anyone when I got home. Dad gave me a sympathetic look, and I didn’t even have it in me to be mad at Paul for telling him. At least Paul had saved me the pain of having to say the words aloud. What was I supposed to tell people anyway? That the girl I loved was happier with my enemy? I could barely admit it to myself.
I wanted to call her. I wanted an explanation, an excuse, something…but what would have been the point? Bella had spent all those months wasting away after the damned leeches left, and now they were back. They weren’t allowed on our land, and we weren’t allowed on theirs. And it was pretty clear to me whose land Bella would be on most of the time.
Here I had been trying to protect her, chasing down a monster that was trying to kill her, and they just had to pick that moment to come back. I tried not to jump to conclusions. I tried to believe that she would have chosen me over him, and I almost convinced myself. In my mind I replayed every second I’d spent with her over the last few weeks, and by the time I snapped out of it, I was halfway to her house.
But I knew better than to put myself through whatever apologetic reasoning she would give me. And to be honest, I was afraid that if the leeches were still there, I wouldn’t be able to stop myself from killing one of them. So I turned back, covering the miles home quickly, and flopped down on my bed just seconds after walking in the door.
This was it. I didn’t need a “gift” to see my future. My future was empty without Bella.