Kagome (_newworld) wrote,
Kagome
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Weighing the Options (Part One) - Non-JRock, Twilight, Edward/Bella/Jacob

Title: Weighing the Options
Author: Kagome
Prompt: Way too many songs. See notes at the end of the fic. :)
Warnings: some angst, sexual content (threesome alert~), language, confused!Jacob. Spoilers for Twilight through part of Breaking Dawn, and then it spirals into AU, I suppose. XD No Nessie, no imprinting.
Rating: NC-17 to be safe
Characters/Pairings: Edward/Bella/Jacob, Seth, Leah, appearance of Rosalie.
Disclaimer: Standard disclaimer applies.
Summary: It’s not as though he doesn’t have options: He can run or he can stay; he can give them what they want or make them leave; he can try to reconcile with them or he can stay angry; he can lie to himself and to them, or he can tell the truth. Which road should he take?
Comments: I have read all of the books like a crazy addict (though I have yet to actually watch Twilight), and of course, I fell in love with the Edward/Bella/Jacob idea. This is a ‘what-if’ kind of fic. No Nessie, though I must tell you all that I do adore her. Not an anti-Jacob/Nessie person. I’m just… more intrigued by the threesome idea. XD Anyway, this fic is long. Thirty-three pages, to be precise. 14,012 words. I hope you enjoy it. ^_^ Posted in two parts, because it's too long to post in one.


Weighing the Options



i. It’s easier to run

He’d always figured Edward to be the coward—the one who ran away. He’d left her once, and Jacob had stayed and tried to put her back together, with the exception of that brief period of time after he’d discovered that his father’s crazy stories weren’t just stories, after all. It was only when Edward had returned that Jacob had made himself out to be a real hypocrite: he’d tried to break off their friendship and he’d left her – or he’d thought he had – with absolutely no intention of going back. The treaty – and the breaking of it – had been the priority at that time. Or so he’d told himself.

It was inevitable that he’d gone back, because he had never been able to keep himself away, even with the bloodsucker hanging around her.

Then he’d found himself leaving her again, off to fight, while Edward had stayed behind. Their positions had been reversed, and for once, Jacob had felt something akin to empathy for the man – if he could even be called a man – that had taken so much from him. He had known then what it had felt like to walk away from something wonderful (he could not have said a sure thing, because he and Bella had never been a ‘sure thing’—that privilege had only been for Edward) with the possibility of not returning. There had been a small chance that something could have gone wrong, and it did.

But he’d healed, in one sense. Broken bones didn’t hold a candle to the other pain he’d been dealing with lately.

This was a decision he’d made without even truly thinking about it. He’d gotten the invitation, phased, and ran, leaving all of that behind.

Almost all of it, anyway.

All of them still tried to communicate with him – Seth, mainly – and in this form, he could not shut them out. He tried, though—tried to keep his thoughts locked up inside of himself, and then tried not to think at all. It was much better to simply concentrate on the feel of the soil beneath his paws and all of the different scents and sounds.

This way, his heart – his human heart – wouldn’t hurt so much. Wouldn’t feel like it was cracking into ten-million pieces or like it was weighted down and being crushed. This way, he didn’t have to deal with the guilt he felt over leaving his father and his pack behind while he worked all of this out by himself. They’d told him that he didn’t have to—that he didn’t need to do this by himself, but he would not be shaken. He was on his own, and he wanted to be. He needed to be, no matter what they thought.

He wasn’t sure where he was now—somewhere in Canada, somewhere that seemed to be chilly almost all of the time. He could deal with the cold, though; he’d dealt with it just fine in Forks. Cold was simply an elemental problem, and was much less concerning than the emotional turmoil he would have been dealing with if he’d stayed in his human form and had decided to stick around for a little longer.

He’d weighed the options only after he’d made his decision—backwards, but Jacob never really followed the rules all that well, anyway. The options had been to stay and suffer, or to leave and suffer, though in a fashion that was slightly more controlled than it would have been if he’d stayed. If he’d stayed, and just been Jacob Black - Jake - he would have come undone completely.

He believed he’d made the right choice. He needed this like he needed air. He needed to do this, so that he could somehow possibly weave the tattered strands of his life back together again so that they formed a whole, without the gaping nothing (which seemed to stretch on forever) in-between.

It all came down to choices, didn’t it?

Jacob shook his head as though to clear it, wanting to rely on instinct now instead of pesky human thoughts that would do nothing more than cloud his mind and cause more unnecessary pain. This was why he’d phased in the first place—so he would not have to deal with anything that human Jacob had had to deal with.

It was easier to be a wolf.

It was easier to run, so he would keep running, not stopping until he felt like his heart had been at least somewhat healed. Healing could take place this way—no time to slow down and become human again, not now.

He caught the scent long before he heard the footsteps, which weren’t loud at all, just pitter-patters on the ground, too quick and too soft for human ears to have even the slightest hope of detecting.

And he stopped. He skidded to a halt, immediately turning and baring his teeth, the fur on the back of his neck standing up. He couldn’t help it, really: knee-jerk reaction, instinct, like it should have been.

Edward stood perfectly still, hands raised as though to say that he meant no harm. He’d done enough already, hadn’t he? Why was he here now, and how had he found him without Jacob knowing a damn thing about it until he’d caught his scent miles back?

Edward didn’t quite smile. He did not answer all of his questions. The look on his face was solemn as he indirectly answered only one of the questions Jacob had floating in his mind. “Come to our wedding,” he said, and everything that Jacob had been pushing away from himself for the past few weeks came crashing down upon him like a ton of bricks. The pain was impossible to ignore, and he knew that the stupid bloodsucker could see it in his eyes, which were not human, though they now laid bare the depth of human emotion that was usually hidden behind them. It would have been worse if he was in human form and he knew it, but this was far from pleasant, and now he wished that he hadn’t stopped and turned around.

He wished that he’d just let the damn vampire chase him until he’d gotten sick of it and gone back home to her. That was where he belonged, anyway—he’d made that choice even before she had, and perhaps before Jacob had ever heard her name.

Jacob knew that Edward could have pointed out that Jacob had to sleep at some point and Edward himself did not, but he said nothing on the subject. He said nothing at all; he just stood there, hands still raised, gaze focused on Jacob. Jacob did not like being the object of the bloodsucker’s scrutiny.

He released a low growl and thought, You already made that offer. The fact that I’m here and not home should be answer enough.

“It should,” Edward agreed—no argument, which was confusing enough by itself. Edward almost always had some smart-ass remark to throw at him. Even the polite wedding invitation had been like a slap in the face: I win, you lose, but come to the wedding anyway. Was this why he was here now? To pour more salt into the wounds?

Edward answered that question, too, with a soft “No.”

So what’s the deal? If Jacob could have spoken the words, they would have been a growl.

“She wants you to come home. She wants you to be there.” Edward said it like it was as easy as pie—no frown or even the slightest catch in his voice to betray him, which meant that he was either acting really well or he was genuinely not at all bothered by the fact that Bella wanted Jacob to come back. Then again, why should he have been bothered by it? He’d gotten what he wanted, hadn’t he?

“Some other… developments have taken place in a relatively short amount of time.” It wasn’t really an answer—Edward was being evasive. He was hiding too, though not in exactly the same way that Jacob had been – and still was – hiding.

Jacob barked out a laugh, though there was no amusement behind it. Say what you mean, leech, or don’t say anything at all. I never liked riddles. If you’re here for her, I don’t see the point. Bella’s a big girl. She can tell me whatever she wants to tell me for herself.

Of course, there was the minor fact that he was basically inaccessible to her right now—she would not have been able to track him down like Edward had, unless….

He terminated that thought before it could go any further.

“I’m not here for her,” Edward replied, jaw slightly clenched. He looked away for just an instant, and then back to Jacob. “Rather, I’m not here just for her.”

What, then? It bothered him that they were both still standing here, going nowhere. Jacob wanted to move again—he was getting restless. Again, he wished he hadn’t stopped running. Edward’s ‘answers’ (which were not answers at al) were only serving to piss him off.

Edward was silent for several seconds. “… Not just for her. For me, too.”

There was too much meaning in his voice—meaning that should not have been there, but was there nevertheless. It would probably even start to make sense, if Jacob would actually let himself think about it.

He didn’t want to think about it. He didn’t want to know Edward’s other reason for tracking him down. He did not want to hear whatever it was that Edward was hinting at. There were a few possibilities – some perhaps even possibilities that should not have been possibilities at all – but Jacob did not want to dwell on it. He didn’t have to dwell on it.

With a parting snarl of warning, he turned and started running again, because that was so much easier than trying to piece together Edward’s disjointed answers so that they fit together perfectly and made sense.

Edward did not follow him.

~*~

ii. I know we’re broken.

In the end, Jacob supposed it was curiosity that caused him to change his mind. Curiosity killed the cat, not the wolf, so he figured he was immune to whatever untoward effects that said curiosity could bestow upon him.

At the very least, he wouldn’t die. He was sure of that. He’d lived through heartbreak, after all, and was still living through it. His heart still beat within him, though in an odd, broken rhythm, like the pieces all tried to beat at once (which was effortless when his heart was whole) and failed.

What further damage could possibly be done when one had already been broken?

After he’d stopped running and had debated with himself in human form, weighing the pros and cons of showing up for the wedding, he’d decided that this would be his farewell to her, because he knew as well as she did that things would not be the same when the honeymoon was over. The treaty would be broken, and she would be a vampire—an enemy, just like him.

This would be Jacob’s farewell to him, too—good riddance, no problems there.

Except only there was perhaps one slight problem: something was different, and he’d noticed it the other day, when Edward had found him. He hadn’t thought about it then, he hadn’t wanted to, because it had been so much easier to push it away.

Part of him wanted answers now. Or at least one answer that made some sense. Stupid vampire had always been so eloquent, so what had been his problem the other day? What had been his reason for coming to Jacob, if not for Bella alone?

Now that he’d already made up his mind and was heading back, he had to admit to himself that perhaps it wasn’t the brightest idea he’d ever had. This could still cause more harm than good—it might only give him one more thing to miss and to regret when everything changed for the worse. What would take place in the near future could not be undone.

He would do this the right way. There would be a proper farewell.

He didn’t think he would make it in time, and just as he figured, he was late, but it wasn’t completely over yet. There was still the reception, and there they were in the middle of it all, looking exactly like a happily-married couple should look.

Then Edward’s eyes met his own, and something was just a little bit off. Oh, he was happy, all right—he loved Bella, Jacob couldn’t deny that. He loved her as much as Jacob himself loved her, and he knew that if there positions had been reversed, it would be Edward’s cold, un-beating heart that was in pieces right now instead of Jacob’s own.

He knew that that knowledge should have been some sort of consolation—that the thought of Edward feeling this pain should have made him feel happy, but it didn’t, and that bothered him as well.

None of this would be happening if Edward hadn’t found him. It was a double-edged sword, though: he wouldn’t be this confused, hand Edward not found him. But he wouldn’t be in the same room with Bella right now, if Edward hadn’t found him, either. It seemed that he couldn’t have one without the other. He couldn’t simply be confused or relieved or happy or miserable; he had to be all of them at once. Too many conflicting emotions, and that only served to confuse him all the more.

He sighed, looking at Edward (he hadn’t looked away from him yet) as he thought, I want some answers, leech.

The hint of a smile tugged at Edward’s lips – how dare he smile now? – and he mouthed, “Later,” before leaning down and whispering something into Bella’s ear.

And then Bella’s eyes were on him, and they were lit up like a child’s eyes would be on Christmas morning, at the sight of all of the presents underneath the tree. It made Jacob ache, and he could almost feel a new crack being formed in his already-damaged heart. It seemed that he’d been wrong about this situation not being able to cause him more pain, but he would grin and bear it. He’d come here for her, after all.

And for him, but not for the same reason. Jacob wanted answers, and he knew that Edward had them.

He could wait a little while, though. For now, he could settle with dancing with his best friend. His would-have-could-have-been lover. His would-have-could-have-been everything. Forget imprinting. She would-have-could-have-been the one.

He wouldn’t let himself think about that. Nor would he let himself think about how beautiful she looked right now, or how right it felt to have her in his arms. He wouldn’t think about the steady beating of her heart, or the broken rhythm of his own.

Jacob held her and they danced like they had more time than they really had—like this would not be the last time they would see each other. They talked in hushed whispers, smiled together, and everything was going just fine (on the outside, anyway—smile and laugh and pretend nothing’s wrong) until the subject of the honeymoon was brought up, and then Jacob stopped moving. He swore he saw red, and he held onto her like she was a lifeline, and then shook her in order to make her see reason.

A real honeymoon? Vampire and human? Impossible.

He would never hurt her on purpose, just like you wouldn’t, some small, inner voice informed him, but he wasn’t listening. He couldn’t hear anything else except for Bella’s words, replaying over and over in his mind as he tried to regain some form of composure. He could not phase here, it would cause too much of a scene. He’d wordlessly promised himself (and her, and even Edward) that he would not crash the wedding and that he would not make things worse than they already were.

That promise was wavering, though—close to breaking, just as Jacob himself was close to breaking all over again. How many pieces this time? How many pieces would he have to try to pick up and put back together? How many more timed could he stand to do this?

This is the last, he told himself.

You need to talk to him. To her, too. To both of them. It’s important. That small voice was a little louder now, but Jacob made a conscious effort to shut it out. Talking would not do any good right now—she’d made her decision and so had Edward, but he’d thought that Edward had had more sense than that.

Apparently, he’d been wrong.

Edward was by their side – her side – in an instant, of course, because Jacob couldn’t seem to get a grip on his own emotions. It was funny how, when it came to her (or even to him) how Jacob’s emotions seemed to take precedence over his ability to rationalize.

Then there was Quil and Seth and Sam, and they were all trying to get him to calm down. Here, in the darkness, no-one could see them, but Jacob did not want to phase. Not here.

He looked menacingly at Edward. “I’ll kill you,” he threatened, though the small inner voice was still trying to reason with him. “I’ll kill you myself! I’ll do it now!”

There was anger in Edward’s eyes. Fear, too—but not for his own safety. For hers. Of course. There was something else there, too… something that, in his rage, Jacob couldn’t quite identify. It might have been regret, or it might have been pleading. It was definitely something though.

“Edward,” Bella said desperately, voice thick with the tears she was not shedding, “we were going to tell him—we need to tell him….”

“Not tonight,” Edward replied, voice low and soothing for her benefit. “He isn’t himself right now. We need to give him some space, let him calm down. Approach him later on.”

He wanted to ask what in the hell they were talking about, but his vocal cords didn’t want to seem to work anymore.

Jacob found himself stumbling after Sam and Seth, Quil trailing behind. Only when they’d reached the safety of the outside air and the trees did he phase, and even then, the pain wasn’t gone. It was still there—a dull sort of ache. So many small cracks, and how many times could one’s heart shatter? How many times could it be put back together?

Only when he heard the sound of an engine running did he release the sounds he’d been holding back. They were howls of grief, of mourning. The sounds of an already-broken heart shattering all over again. The sounds of a soul in seemingly unbearable pain.

Only when he’d gotten back home and into his own bed (his very human bed) did Jacob realize – with a sort of stunned horror and twisted fascination – what he’d seen in Edward’s eyes earlier.

Longing.

Longing, but for what? And what were they planning on telling him? Did that mean that they were coming back?

Once again, Edward had left him with more questions than answers.

That night, after he’d drifted off into a fitful sleep, he dreamed of Bella writhing under Edward, and he dreamed of Edward’s mouth on her neck, and then of the two of them, beckoning him, that same look of longing in Edward’s eyes. The look in Bella’s mirrored his.

He woke up gasping for air, and then the sudden wave of nausea had him rushing for the bathroom.

He didn’t understand, and now he wasn’t sure if he ever would.

~*~

iii. And if you ever come back, I will let you

“Uhm… They’re back.”

Jacob slowly cracked one eye open, and then the other. Seth was standing there in the middle of his living room, biting his lip and scuffing his foot against the floor, looking just as uncertain as Jacob knew he had to feel.

It had been two weeks. Two weeks since Jacob had seen them, and even longer since he’d had any of his questions answered. Stupid Edward and his stupid secret-keeping. Stupid Bella and her desire to have a proper honeymoon. Stupid Edward and his stupid willingness to do anything for her.

Jacob felt that familiar sense of uneasiness that he’d been feeling lately every single time the subject of Edward and Bella was brought up. Along with it came a sudden rush of something akin to relief, if it could have been called that. At least it meant that she wasn’t hurt (but it also meant that perhaps he’d been wrong to act out at the wedding, not that he would have ever admitted that to anyone other than himself because he saw no reason to give them another opportunity to gloat over his occasional stupidity), but didn’t it also mean….?

“So she’s really part of the family now, huh?” Jacob asked, trying to sound as nonchalant as possible. A little acid leaked into his voice, though, and that ruined the whole ask-me-if-I-care attitude. “If she is, I guess we know what that means. Treaty broken, and--”

”She’s not a vampire,” Seth interrupted before Jacob could finish. At Jacob’s incredulous look, Seth winced a little. “She isn’t… yet, at least. She’s still Bella.” He gave Jacob a pointed look. “And you know she’ll still be Bella even after she’s a vampire.”

Jacob waved at the boy as if he were a bothersome fly. “Yeah, yeah. Except that her heart won’t beat and her skin will be cold and she’ll stink and she won’t look like herself anymore and she’ll want human blood and that could possibly make her a danger to society. Other than that, she’ll be exactly the same. No problem. I’m sure Sam will just love the whole ‘danger to society’ part, especially. It’s my personal favorite.”

Seth sighed, rolling his eyes. “You know what I meant, Jake. Don’t go trying to pull that crap. Have you forgotten that the pack is connected, and that we know what you’re feeling? I don’t like that you’re making yourself miserable like this when you don’t have to. You could talk to them. I mean, to me, it doesn’t matter if you have a… a thing… for Edward, too. He’s a good guy and--”

“I don’t have a thing for that bloodsucker,” Jacob interrupted, alarmed at how angry he sounded, because he knew Seth didn’t deserve to get yelled at.

The thing he hated most about being a werewolf was that the pack was so interconnected that it was next to impossible to keep private thoughts private, which meant that the recurring dream he’d been having since the wedding was not unknown to the others. Nor was the fact that he’d gotten used to the dream, and wasn’t afraid of it or even nauseated by it anymore.

Mostly, he just wanted answers.

But that sure as hell didn’t mean that he felt anything for Edward Cullen other than the same rivalry he’d always felt toward him, did it?

Of course not.

“Okay,” Seth said quietly, bowing his head a little, making it clear that he did not want to argue. “I don’t want trouble, Jake. I don’t want you to be mad at me.”

Jacob didn’t want to be angry at Seth, either. And he wasn’t—not really. The anger he felt was misplaced, and was directed at Edward (for always taunting him, whether the idiot was aware of it or not—though he probably was) and at Bella (because he knew she was in on this somehow, and because she was still planning on becoming one of them). Mostly, though, he was simply angry with himself for still loving her and for actually caring about whatever that look in Edward’s eyes had meant that night. He shouldn’t have cared, but he did. He shouldn’t have wanted to talk to them, but he did. He shouldn’t have wanted to see them, but he did.

‘Shouldn’t’ meant nothing when it came down to what Jacob knew to be true.

“… I’m not angry with you, kid,” Jacob finally answered, throwing an arm over his eyes tiredly and sighing. I just want to stop feeling like I can’t make sense of anything anymore. I want to stop wondering what they’re doing and I want to stop caring about it. I just want to be able to move on from it like I ought to.

“They were very specific, Jake. They wanna talk to you. They wanna see you. They said they need you.”

Jacob snorted—a derisive sound. “They’ve never needed me.”

“They do,” Seth insisted. “It’s important. And you need to talk to them.”

“I don’t need to do a damn thing,” Jacob corrected him, though there was less bite to his words this time.

And he knew he was right—he didn’t need to do anything. He didn’t need to see them or talk to them or ask them what the hell was going on.

Didn’t stop him from wanting to, though.

So he went to them, but only when Seth was gone and the house was empty except for Billy and himself. His only answer when Billy asked where he was going was, “Out. Don’t worry—I’m not running away again.” Silently, he added, Yet.

He didn’t phase, because then all of them would know where he was going. He took his motorcycle, navigating the winding roads effortlessly, weaving in and out of traffic like it was as normal as breathing—like he never had to pause and think about it even once.

Jacob’s mind was focused on other things, anyway.

This was probably why he didn’t even realize he’d reached the Cullens’ residence until he was actually parked in front of the house. He didn’t remember parking the motorcycle, and he wasn’t fully aware of walking to the door. He supposed he really was out of it.

It was Rosalie who answered the door—the blonde one that Jacob had always considered to be completely conceited and little else. Bella had never shown much liking for her, anyway, and that had been enough to make Jacob dislike her.

She looked at him with an obvious look of disdain. “I thought I smelled dog.”

He would have retorted with a clever comeback – or he would have tried – but it was then that he heard Edward’s voice, a low growl of warning: “Let him in, Rose.”

It was pretty clear that she didn’t want to comply, but she did. With a roll of her eyes, she stepped back and let Jacob inside. He shut the door behind himself before venturing further into the house, wrinkling his nose. What a smell….

Edward met him in the living room.

“Jacob,” he said politely, nodding his head slightly, and Jacob returned the gesture, hands balled into fists at his sides.

“You know why I’m here already,” Jacob began, keeping his voice quiet, not wanting the others to eavesdrop on the conversation. “So why don’t you just tell me what I want to know, and we’ll skip over the awkward dancing around the subject part. You’ve done enough hiding, the both of you, and it’s not fair, because you know everything that goes through my fucking head while I’m around you, and I know absolutely nothing.”

He heard her before he saw her, and he smelled her even before then. She stopped at the top of the stairs, smiling sweetly at him before all but bounding down the stairs, taking them two at a time. “Hit Jake,” she chirped, her smile widening. She was human, still as fragile and beautiful as the day he’d met her. “We were afraid you wouldn’t come, and Alice couldn’t tell us anything because she can’t see you, and--”

“Vampire sex as good as you expected it to be?” he sneered, and he knew it was a bit of a low blow, but he couldn’t really help himself. It was just too easy, and besides, he felt he was entitled to it.

Her smile faltered for a moment and she blushed beautifully. Jacob would miss that. “Jake, you shouldn’t… You can’t still be angry about it or worried! You see that I’m fine. He was gentle, and I’m still me.”

“But for how long, Bella?” Jacob asked, and there was no anger now—just resignation. Not true acceptance, but what could he do to stop the inevitable? Absolutely nothing.

She was frowning now, and she stepped close to touch his face. “Did you come to argue, Jake? I don’t want to fight. We have to ask a favor of you.”

“No,” Jacob breathed out, though he didn’t move away from her touch. “I’m here for answers of my own today, Bella. I’m asking the questions.”

Edward’s hand was on his shoulder then, a gentle pressure. Jacob should have pulled away from that, at least, but he didn’t.

“Let us ask one favor of you, Jacob, and then you can ask us anything you want to ask. We will answer you honestly.”

The way he said ‘favor’ made it obvious that what they wanted would not be something small. “You’re jerking me around,” he accused. “You’re going to ask for whatever it is that you want, and then you’re going to--”

“You have my word,” Edward interjected, looking solemn.

This time, Jacob did manage to pull away from them. “What good is the word of a leech, huh?”

”Jake,” Bella said softly, and he hated that she sounded so sad. “Please.”

Of course, what else could he do now but listen to them? It seemed to be the only way that he would get his answers, anyway.

“… Fine,” he finally said, but he wasn’t happy about it, and he made it known that he wasn’t. His tone wasn’t exactly cheerful, for one.

“We want to stay here,” Bella began, reaching for Edward’s hand and holding onto it. “This is our home, Jake. Surely you understand that.”

For some reason, Jacob felt like he was being lured directly into a trap. “The treaty,” he reminded them gravely. “You told me you’d be in Alaska with the penguins and I wouldn’t have to worry about the two of you being my enemies. I don’t want to have to hunt you down.”

“This is why we need your help,” Edward said. “Your blessing.”

Blessing? What in the hell was he talking about?

Edward answered him before the question had even formed on his tongue: “You are Alpha.”

Jacob’s eyes widened and he shook his head. “No. That’s Sam. Want me to go get him for you?” He didn’t mean it, really—he wouldn’t have gotten Sam for this.

“You are Ephraim’s heir,” Edward replied calmly. “You are the only one who has the right to give us permission to stay, or make us leave.”

Jacob shook his head again. “This is not my responsibility. I can’t give you what you’re asking, so just forget it.”

“But you can,” Bella whispered, her soft voice insistent. “You can, Jake. We want to stay and you can let us. You can say that it doesn’t break the treaty. Even Sam would agree, when it comes to this. We were allies Jake. He knows that we would never cause any harm.”

Jacob clenched his fists again, hands trembling. “If you’re so certain that Sam will see things your way, why don’t you ask him, then?”

“Because he’s a stand-in and you’re the real Alpha,” Edward responded. “We need your answer.”

“No,” Jacob said automatically, without even pausing to think about it. And then, “You don’t know what you’re asking of me. There can’t be two Alphas and you… Bella, you don’t know what you’re going to be like! You could be dangerous to everyone! Are you even thinking about your friends? About Charlie?”

“We will be watching her at all times,” Edward told him, as though it were meant to be reassuring. It wasn’t—not really.

“And we’ll figure everything out in time, when it comes to my Dad,” Bella added. “We were talking—thinking that maybe we could pull it off. And even if it doesn’t work… We won’t tell him anything that he doesn’t need to know. We won’t put him in any danger, Jake.”

“You could kill him, Bella!” He wasn’t quite yelling now, but he was close to it. “You’re going to want blood! Human blood! And your father is human!”

She instantly cringed, moving closer to Edward’s side. He wrapped an arm around her waist, leaning in to whisper sweet, nonsensical words into her ear.

“I’m going to hunt before I plan on seeing him. I’m going to make sure I have myself under control.” She glanced away, now seemingly very interested in something on the far wall. “Even then, I know something could go wrong, but I won’t let myself hurt him, Jake. I can’t. He’s my Dad.”

”You don’t know what you’ll be capable of, Bella,” Jacob replied, and he was calm now, trying to make them see reason.

“If it comes down to that, we’ll leave,” Edward said. “If it becomes clear, even for a second, that she will not be able to control herself and that we cannot help her, we’ll leave Forks. We won’t make it any worse for you or anyone else. You can forget we ever existed.”

Forget. As if Jacob were capable of forgetting the fact that they’d come into his life like a whirlwind, scattering things everywhere. He imagined that if they left, they would leave everything just like that: a mess.

Perhaps, in a sense, it was a decent enough plan… or perhaps it would have been, if Jacob were willing to put it all on the line for her. For them. But he continued to argue against heir case anyway, and they continued to plead with him. He knew that he could argue with them until he was blue in the face and it still probably wouldn’t make a difference. Their minds were made up.

Now Jacob had to decide what to do. He knew what the best option was—he knew that he should tell them no. The word was ready, right on the tip of his tongue, but he couldn’t seem to spit it out.

And they were still trying to make him see it their way.

“Everything that we love is here,” Edward told him, and Jacob glanced at him, not sure what to make of those words. More questions, still no answers.

“You’re here,” Bella murmured, and it was in that moment that Jacob cracked. It was that which caused him to give in, and he wanted very badly to accuse them of emotional blackmail, but the look in their eyes was sincere.

Jacob sighed. Why me?

“Because you’re the only one who can,” Edward replied to the empty air, answering the unasked question.

There was a long moment of silence while Jacob battled with himself, and then, not looking at them, he finally answered, “Fine. You have my word that the treaty will not be broken when you… when she changes. But if she hurts someone, it’s over, and you had better get the hell out of here….” Because I don’t want to be the one that has to track you down.

The moment he said the words, he distinctly felt the separation between Sam and himself. What did this mean? Was he on his own now?

“You will not be alone,” Edward told him, and Jacob narrowed his eyes at the vampire. He couldn’t stay out of his head for two seconds, could he?

Edward chuckled softly then, and shook his head. “You’ll see that it won’t be as bad as you think.” In a quieter voice, he breathed, “Thank you. Once again, I am indebted to you.”

“You owe me nothing,” Jacob replied, now turning around so that his back was to them. Edward had already said that he owed him, and Jacob didn’t really want to add to it. What did it mean, to have a vampire in your debt?

“What about your answers? I promised you that you would have them.”

So apparently, Edward truly intended to make good on his promise.

Jacob shook his head. “Too much in my head already. Another time. Maybe when you’ve proved to me that she’ll be okay, and everyone around her will be okay. I don’t want to see newspaper headlines about people who suddenly and unexplainably vanished from their homes, or whatever.”

It was funny, how he’d come here demanding answers and he was only about to leave completely empty-handed again. But this time, it was of his own free will. He was leaving without his answers because he wasn’t sure he couldn’t handle anything more today.

“Won’t you stay?” Bella asked, sliding her arms around him from behind and nuzzling against his back. He lingered for a moment, savoring the feel of her heartbeat—strong and steady and sure. Human. How much longer would it remain so?

“And watch you die?” He had no energy left for anger or sarcasm anymore. The question was empty, hollow. “Thanks but no thanks, Bells. I’m going home.” He pulled away from her and she didn’t try to keep him there. She let him go, and he supposed it was only fitting, because he’d let her go too, in a sense, hadn’t he?

But he kept coming back, too. And he had the feeling that he would keep doing so, at least until they answered his questions. After that, he would be free, right? Maybe. Best-case scenario, perhaps.

And then there was that tiny voice that asked if he truly wanted to be free of this, and it made him want to growl, because of course he did. He didn’t constantly want to worry about them, or to keep coming to them, after his questions had been answered. There would be no point after that.

No point at all.

“We’ll be waiting for you,” Edward said as Jacob headed for the door.

Jacob chose not to comment—he merely opened the door and shut it behind himself as he left.

That night, Jacob dreamed about them again, only this time, Bella wasn’t human. And this time, when they beckoned to him, he went, and he reveled in the feel of their hands and their mouths on his skin.

He woke with his heart in his throat and his erection straining against the confines of his boxers.

Now, he felt even more confused than ever.

And the thing that confused him the most?

The fact that he actually woke with the hope that his dream had been real.

~*~

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Tags: bellaxedward, bellaxjacob, edwardxbella, edwardxbellaxjacob, edwardxjacob, jacobxbella, jacobxedward, twilight
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