|Miles To Go
Author: Silverspoon PM
For Skychaser FAGE .Bella Swan is about to embark upon a road trip to Forks when on a whim she offers a lift to a hitch hiker. Little does she know that this man will alter not only her views of the world but ultimately, her future. AU/AH.Rated: Fiction T - English - Angst/Humor - Bella & Edward - Chapters: 6 - Words: 16,710 - Reviews: 50 - Favs: 27 - Follows: 6 - Published: 03-15-11 - Status: Complete - id: 6825853
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Ficawesome Gift Exchange- TAKE 2
Title: Miles to Go
Written for: Skychaser
Rating: T for language and themes
Prompt: 'The distance from A to where you'd Be is only finger lengths that I see'
Summary: Bella Swan is about to embark upon a road trip to rainy Forks, Washington, to visit her boyfriend Jake when on a whim she offers a lift to a hitch hiker. Little does Bella know that this man will alter not only her views of the world but ultimately, her future. AU and AH.
If you would like to see all the stories that are part of this exchange then please visit the Facebook group Fanficaholics Anon: Where Obsession Never Sleeps.
Warning – Some readers may find some content of the following chapter upsetting. Contains themes of suicide.
The rain had started up again and I was aware of my entire body trembling as water seeped through my thin shirt. I paid no attention to the cold now though, instead concentrating on simply reaching my destination without being spotted. I stayed away from the road and, where this proved impossible, I used the foliage to hide myself. The ascent was difficult but I knew that it would be worth it in the end. I ignored the protests from my burning lungs and aching calves, and tackled the cliff face with my head bowed against the elements.
La Push beach had been one of Jacob's favourite places. We had walked barefoot together on the sand so many times and in the spring had even caught glimpses of the grey whales. I had tried to photograph them once but my camera was uncooperative and instead all that I managed to capture was a blurred mass in the centre of the ocean. Jake had chuckled at my efforts and yet he had kept the picture pinned to the notice board in his room as a reminder of the day. It was one of the few things I had left of him now.
"Bella, honey..." Renee murmured, her cheeks streaked with tears and her robe pulled tight across her swollen belly, "there's been an accident."
I should never have stayed out so late. When I finally pulled up in the driveway at gone midnight to find Renee and Phil waiting for me in the porch with all the lights on, I had anticipated a world of trouble. I had gotten just that, except not in the ways I had expected.
"Charlie? Dad?" I hissed, gripping Renee's hands for support. "Is he ok?" My breathing had grown erratic and my heart pounded furiously in my ears. I noticed Phil standing in the corner, his arms folded across his chest and his eyes trained to the floor. He looked uncomfortable and yet saddened at the same time. Not Charlie, my logic told me.
I had missed what would have been his final call. I had been at the house of a girl who could be describes less as a friend and more as a convenience. I had all but forgotten her full name now, but she had been a shy, quiet girl who had even less of a fan club than me. We had been working on a bio lab together and I had been finding to my surprise that I was having a reasonably good time. I recalled that she was sweet and funny and even witty once the evening had got underway.
"I am so sorry Bella..." Renee choked out, her fingers digging painfully into my arm as she attempted to prevent my descent to the ground. "There was a truck... your Dad said it all happened so quickly..."
If only I had not stayed that extra hour to order pizza with a girl I barely knew, let alone liked. If I had just been there to take his call then we certainly would have been talking for the remainder of the night, and he would never have gotten on that stupid fucking bike. The driver of the truck had been underage and loaded to boot. Jake on his reconditioned Harley, out on a late grocery run, had not stood a chance when Tyler Crowley had swerved so abruptly into his lane.
"No... it's not true..." I shrieked, wrenching myself free from Renee's grip and backing down the porch steps, tears spilling from my eyes, "you're lying... you're lying to me... why would you lie to me?"
I cradled the box closer to my chest, almost hugging it for some comfort. There was no grave for me to visit, no physical representation of what had been. Billy had insisted on cremation and Jake's ashes had been scattered to the wind somewhere on the reservation. I had been invited to the ceremony, an honour for a 'pale face' given that I would one day have been Jake's wife, but I could not bring myself to attend. Instead, I had stolen cash from Renee's purse and gone on an epic drinking binge that had led to a visit to the Emergency Room. When Renee and Phil had arrived at the hospital to collect me, they had barely said a word. They had looked disappointed to say the least, tired, and suddenly old. It was then that I had formed my plan, if only to end the suffering I was putting them through with my grief.
"Phil, stop her!" Renee pleaded, her chest wracked with sobs as I buried my head in my hands, gripping tight to my hair and yanking it out in great clumps. "Bella... baby stop..."
I took a shaky breath as I finally broke through the trees at the top of the cliff. Once, Jake and I had watched some kids from the reservation leaping headfirst into the roiling waters below. I had screamed, thinking that they would surely kill themselves, but through his laughter Jake had explained the premise behind cliff diving.
"Isn't it dangerous?" I gasped, feeling the persistent thrum of my heart beating against my ribcage. Jake chuckled and slung an arm around my shoulder, drawing me tight into his shoulder.
"Of course. To anyone that doesn't know what they're doing, the current is lethal. But these guys have spent so much time at La Push, they practically have gills."
We were going to be married. Jake had been saving what little he could put by from his wages at the garage, and he had already begun to broach the subject of his mother's ring with Billy. Jake's sole condition was that I finish high school in Phoenix first before joining him in Forks. I would attend college somewhere close enough to commute, and we would live with Billy until our finances allowed for anything better.
All our carefully laid plans were gone now; dust, like Jake. The very idea tore my heart to ribbons.
"We'll always be together Belles..." Jake breathed, laying his forehead gently against my own. Beneath him, I shuddered as his hand brushed my naked thigh and then moved slowly to caress my hip. He was treating me like I was fragile, all too aware that every nerve in my body was screaming with fear.
"Always," I promised, smoothing my fingertips across his bare stomach and sliding my hand towards the line of buttons on the crotch of his jeans.
I opened the box carefully, wary of the wind that was rising around me. The letter on the top fluttered and the line that Edward had read aloud in the car caught my eye. 'The distance from A to where you'd Be is only finger lengths that I see'.
Except now, the distance between us was so vast that it was immeasurable. Not mere millimetres on some painted globe, but the entirety of the stars and all that lay beyond- if anything at all. Fat tears slid down my cheeks but I made no move to brush them away. Jake had always claimed a great sense of serenity descended upon him when he was standing on the cliff at La Push, looking down at spirit's great miracles. I felt only the stabbing pain of loss, and the fear that comes with the possibility of never seeing the one you love again.
I took a step towards the edge of the cliff face, and then another.
"I want a big wedding," I said, a smile curving my lips upwards. Jake raised an eyebrow and continued to work on the sketch that had occupied him for the past hour. His fingers moved rapidly over the pad and for a moment I was transfixed by the fluidity of his movements. I could see my own face emerging on the pad as a consequence of his pencil strokes, and his talent amazed me.
My thoughts were so disjointed that I struggled to make sense of them, but I continued to edge towards the cliff even despite this. The wind seemed to be almost encouraging me as it buffeted my body from behind, sweeping me along a little.
"I love you Belles," Jake whispered, pressing a kiss to my lips and drawing back to regard me. My cheeks had flushed crimson but I could not look away from Jake's gaze. He loved me; Jacob Black loved me, and I was hearing it for the first time.
I closed my eyes as the toe of my left shoe touched thin air. My tears were coming faster now, increasing with my heart rate.
"Jake..." I murmured, my voice catching on a sob. I wanted to tell him that I missed him; that every second I had faced without him had been more unbearable and agonising than the last. I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs that I loved him, and that the passage of time was ineffectual on my feelings. I wanted to yell at him for leaving me to face the future without him, and most of all I wanted to feel close to him once again.
I was sure there would be peace at least, even if there was no Jake, and so I resigned myself to the fact that my next step forwards would be my last.
My foot touched nothing and my knees buckled as a result. I felt my body being dragged downwards by the force of gravity and I did not resist.
The cry came out of nowhere. I was too far gone in my plan to react even if I had desired to and so instead I simply made a silent hope that whoever was watching me was not someone that cared a great deal for my life. I waited for the whistling of the wind as it grazed my falling body, and was shocked when this never came.
A hand had closed around my wrist, knocking the box from my arms and sending it tumbling onto the rocks below. I opened my eyes and gazed downward, watching Jake's letters float towards the water's surface where they would be swallowed up. My last memories of him had been scattered to the wind.
"Let me go!" I yelled, fury seeping from my every pore as I used my free hand to attack my misguided saviour. The wind whipped my hair into my eyes and obscured my vision, but I felt my body being hauled with little effort back onto the cliff face and I was enraged.
"Let me go!" I repeated in a scream. My feet barely touched the floor as I was dragged towards a body who restrained me with ease, allowing me to writhe and struggle without saying a word. I was behaving like a lunatic in my bid to escape and yet I did not care anymore.
"Shhhh," the familiar voice soothed, and in the next instant as my broken sobs escaped me I felt myself being pulled into a solid chest. A hand stroked my hair, smoothing it around me, but I did not react beyond attempting to catch my breath. I sank to the damp ground and strong arms accompanied me, holding me and soothing me as best as they could. When my tears subsided, the wind had finally died down and so I pulled away from the stranger's embrace.
I stared up into Edward's green eyes, astonished. His expression was pained, like he was desperately attempting to make sense of the situation at hand but failing. He reached a shaking hand towards me and brushed my tears from my cheeks, frowning as I shied away from his touch.
"Are you fucking crazy?" he demanded, although his tone was a gentle contrast to his words. I nodded and sank back onto the ground, pulling my knees into my chest.
"Why couldn't you just let me go?" I whispered, fresh tears springing to my eyes as I turned an accusatory gaze upon Edward. His lip curled back into a sneer and he jabbed a finger under my chin.
"Are you really that selfish?" he snarled, no longer reigning in his anger. I blanched at his tone but remained unmoving, allowing him to continue, "What about your parents? Did you think of them at all in this? What about your baby brother? Don't you want him to know his sister? What... what about me, Bella?"
I glanced sharply at Edward, my eyes narrowing to slits.
"You don't know what it's like," I said, shaking my head, "you don't know what it feels like to lose the one person you love more than anything in the world."
"You think you're the only one to ever lose somebody?" Edward asked, running one hand through his hair in a despairing gesture. "It doesn't take a genius to work out it's hard, or that you're in pain... but there are other ways... better ways than this, Bella."
I made no move to respond, my teeth beginning to chatter now as my sodden clothes pressed against my skin. Noticing my discomfort, Edward removed his leather jacket and draped it around my shoulders before settling himself beside me. He reached for my hand, gripping it tight in his lap, and I allowed him to.
"Why didn't you tell me?" Edward said softly, stroking his thumb across the back of my hand. I shrugged and then realised that Edward was no longer looking at me to note the gesture.
"I don't know," I responded, instead. "How did you..."
"I knew something wasn't right," Edward interjected, saving me the embarrassment of finishing my question. "I never would have guessed this... I kind of thought you were coming back to get revenge on a cheating ex or something."
"What?" I said, an amused smile playing across my lips for a moment. I was sure they were beginning to turn blue.
"You said that you and Jake were apart over a year," Edward murmured, turning to face me again, "you said he wrote to you every day. There were only 243 letters. I'm no math brain but something didn't quite add up there."
"Oh," was my only faint reply.
For a few minutes, we sat in silence, neither of us moving despite the chill in the air and the fact that my clothes were sopping wet from the earlier rain.
"Did you find your Mom?" I asked finally, resting my head against Edward's shoulder and sighing as he encircled me in his arms. He seemed to have been waiting for the green light to make contact with me, and I knew that his feelings had begun to extend beyond mere friendship.
Edward rested his chin against the crown of my head before he spoke, gazing off into the distance with a thoughtful expression darkening his features.
"I think I did," he replied, "I guess I still don't know."
"You didn't knock?" I demanded, pulling free from his embrace and slapping him across the arm as he shook his head.
"Hey, you try to throw yourself off a cliff and I'm the one getting slapped?" he snapped, massaging the top of his arm and shaking his head at my somewhat skewed logic.
"Why did you leave without seeing her?" I asked. Edward shrugged, clearly reluctant to answer but my frown gave little room for argument on the subject.
"I thought about it," he said, no real emotion present in his tone or expression. "Made it all the way to the front door, considered knocking and then... I just didn't. I turned right around and headed back towards the highway. Hitched all the way here and asked for directions to your Dad's house from the nosey woman in the hardware store. Saw you sitting in your car just staring at the place, so I followed you."
"That's not a reason why," I chided, shivering as the breeze whipped up for a second. Edward held me closer and laid a hesitant kiss on my forehead. My entire body stiffened and he murmured an apology at his sudden thoughtlessness.
"All I could think about was you Bella," he whispered, avoiding my gaze. "I was standing on my mother's doorstep, and I couldn't get you off my mind. Ever since finding out I was adopted, all I've thought about is finding my birth mother; getting to see her and talk to her, ask her if she's ever thought about me too. Then, I have this amazing opportunity right in front of me, but suddenly I don't want it anymore because I can't stop thinking about the girl whose car I hitched a lift in. She left me... you offered to stay."
"I guess maybe you didn't want it as much as you figured," I answered, skirting around the implications in his speech deliberately.
Edward shook his head and a slow, sad smile crept across his lips, "Or maybe I finally found something I wanted more."
I shot Edward a wary gaze. I was beyond tired, and every muscle in my body cried out for rest. It was a conversation that I could not face.
"I'm broken Edward," I said, my voice louder than I had expected. "I can't give you what you want. My heart still belongs to Jake."
"I can wait," Edward promised, his tone more assured than pleading. I blinked in surprise. I had never considered a time when I may feel at peace enough with Jake's absence to consider moving on with my life.
"I..." I faltered, shaking my head from side to side.
Edward held up a placating hand, "I know now is so not the time Bella. I'm not a total ass. I just... I care about you."
I remained silent and before I could even begin to formulate a reply, Edward was speaking again.
"I care about you," he reiterated, "and I can be whatever you need me to be, until you're ready for me to be more. Even if that day never comes, I'll take what I can get."
Swallowing hard, I turned my teary gaze upon Edward, who flashed me a warm smile before caressing my cheek with the back of his hand. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes for a moment.
"I don't know how long that will be in coming," I murmured, "if ever."
"I can wait," Edward promised, and I knew without any doubt that he would. Despite his bravado and reputation, Edward Cullen was as good as his word in many respects.
"Whatever I need you to be?" I inquired, my head cocked to one side as I watched Edward lean eagerly towards me.
"Anything," he said, emphasising each syllable to punctuate his point.
A single tear dripped down my cheek and I affixed Edward with a watery smile.
"How about we start with a friend?"
With a slow nod, Edward captured both of my hands in his own and drew them into his chest.
"I can do that."
Together, we remained until the sun had begun to dip below the horizon. The lapping of the sea against the rocks at the base of La Push cliff was the only sound to punctuate the silence.
It was Edward that suggested gently but firmly that we leave before darkness descended completely and I became victim to hyperthermia. However, despite the constant knot of dread that weighed heavy in my stomach, I left La Push feeling lighter somehow. I had a friend, a concept that had become alien to me in recent months; someone to fight my corner for as long as I wanted or needed.
I had Edward and, although we had travelled far together, in many ways we still had miles to go.
Skychaser - I hope you enjoyed your gift.