A/N: Here's a little Jacob x Bella whisper that I just found the guts to get out in all its unbeta'd glory. And I'm sorry for all the goodbye stories, though I'm not at the same time. I always feel the need to say goodbye and I don't know why. So much time has passed since I've published anything. I've had a birthday, a Christmas, and I've seen the New Year officially begin. That's too much damn time. I meant to publish this back in November, so happy (way belated) birthday to Josh, and a happy belated new year to everybody else. 2014 is a way better number than 2013 to me. I hope you enjoy this little glimpse of a future project.


Injustices of the Worst Kind


I think I wanna get a little active / There's more to this than being your captive

New directions might need a little practice / I can make it a little less destructive

M.I.A, "Know It Ain't Right"


Jacob Black has seen any and every facet of Bella Swan. He's seen the crust between her eyes in the early morning that she quickly wipes away. It's ugly, she's said, only slightly ashamed. You don't have to see me like that. He's seen the permanent dark circles under her eyes that jolt him, just a little bit. I'm tired, she's said, uncaring for the unfixable. You're never gonna see me not tired. I promise. He's seen—and utterly adores—the chocolate brown pools within her eyes that keep entice him every single time. I've got you wrapped around my finger, she's said, the corners of her thin mouth turned up. That's so funny. You're so funny.

Jacob has seen the kinder side of Bella: the side that wants to help people through their little and big problems like she's perfectly stable herself, her biggest wish. If Emily Young wants to kill herself (again), Bella will get her to stop—most times. Jacob has also seen the more selfish side of Bella: the side that will join in the bad behavior of others. If Emily Young wants to kill herself (again), then Bella will help and try to kill herself in the process (again), too. Bella's just a little unpredictable.

In fact, Bella's just a little bit of everything. Sometimes she walks lightly on air; other times she stumbles, scraping her palms and knees. Sometimes she rides higher than the clouds themselves; other times she can't even be bothered to be picked up, so she lays dagger dead on the ground. Is that okay? Jacob thinks that's okay. Bella? Not so much. Either everything is okay with her, or nothing is. They can (and already have) wake and bake in a tent on First Beach, but God forbid he calls her later to ask how she's doing, just because it's a common nice thing to do and not an act of the chivalry she accused him of giving her on their first date in Forks. She will (and already has) call him up and demand his company all day. They'll talk about how shitty their so-called friends are, how their dads don't give a shit about them, and how life sucks to be graduated and absolutely uneducated and mostly unemployed. They'll pour their hearts out to each other over all of that—just all of it—but at the end of the day, Bella won't call him to ask if he wants to go see a movie where they finally keep their hands to themselves. She won't answer his calls, either.

I don't wanna be that guy, Jacob always tells himself. I'm not gonna be that guy who's a total sucker for a girl that doesn't even like me, but she does like me.

And she does. Bella likes Jacob to an extent. She likes him enough to play him like her favorite game. When she was six, she loved to play Chutes and Ladders. When she was twelve, she loved to play Scrabble. Now she loves to play Jacob.

And it's not like she doesn't know this—she's three steps ahead of him. The real issue is that she doesn't find it wrong, but there's nothing right about it. Has she given away too much of herself? A week in heaven and a feeling of being special for once in his life for him quickly turned into a week of hell and utter self-loathing for her. Of course it did.

*.*.*

A long time ago, when she thought she was just depressed or just had anxiety (as opposed to some freak disorder where she's lucky enough to have a combination of the two), Bella would read. On good days—or worse days, when she thinks back on them—she would go to the public library just down the street from her home in Phoenix and stay forever. She would stay until someone—either Renee or Phil—would notice she was gone. She hasn't hidden in the library since she was fifteen, but that might change today.

The public library of Forks is pitiful. Bella's only visited once, and it was more than enough. It makes her want to cry. It's small, and not in a positive way. Small libraries usually have a lot of heart and care put into them, but not this one. It's not small and cared for at all; it's just there. It's just another attraction in the big, fake amusement park that the world is.

Bella needs to infuse some care, though. It's the only place she has left to do that. It's too late for Jacob, and far too late for her.

It's a luminous Sunday morning in June, but Bella feels like a stormy night in November. After entering the public library right as it opens, Bella hides in the stacks. Nobody notices her or the fact that she doesn't have a card. She loves libraries so damn much for that reason alone: you don't have to have a pass to enter. You come as you are, and leave just a little smarter if you're lucky. That's not her point, though—not today. She can't fix anything about her broken, broken mind.

The previous week was disastrous. It was beautifully chaotic for Jacob, but for Bella? Not so much.

You're just a fucking idiot, she tells herself. You can't just give yourself over and over to someone you hardly even like to get over your piece-of-shit ex-boyfriend and constant feeling of self-hatred. That's not how things are supposed to work.

The only thing worse than what she did is that she would have to break off everything with Jacob. She didn't like him the way he liked her; she didn't see him in her future when she looked in his eyes. She didn't want to hurt him, though—she never wanted to hurt anybody. Ever since she was sixteen, just getting in touch with her level of fuckedupness, she knew that she would never want to harm anyone close to her because she understood. Being so far from the inside of things, she watched people, and she understood them. She understood—and still understands—that everyone's just trying to get through what they have to get through in order to move on the better and brighter things in life, and for her to make that any more difficult for anyone else would be the worst thing she did.

She tries to not be a bad person; she truly does. She tries to remind herself of all of that, but things never click in time, and maybe there wouldn't be a trail of broken hearts following her if they did.

Maybe that's just what she hates about herself the most: she has the right intentions but they never come off the right way. What's the point of even trying, then?

*.*.*

In La Push, Jacob wakes up alone, the scent of Bella on his body (the odd combination of honey and lavender), the taste of her on his lips (strawberry and the shame of marijuana), the sound of her in his ears (God, Jake, that's so funny and you're so funny). He supposes that's the second best thing, since Bella's not the kind of girl one would wake up with on a daily basis. Aside from the lucky times he's seen her wake up, he's really familiar with the girl who he'll soar through the sky with at one in the morning but see her again only five short hours later. But she's not the kind of girl to wake up with. She loves the gypsy life.

Sadly enough, Jacob loves her. He loves everything about her, but only selectively. He loves the crazy side of her, the side he just spent a week with in its entity. That side got him to go camping on the beach, smoke weed (and not die from coughing fits), discover the importance of the artist The Weeknd, have deep conversations on top of a cliff, and blow some time off at the movies. Jacob doesn't like the other side—the side that frequently discusses how much she wants to not live anymore or how much of an idiot she thinks she is—as much, but that's what he has to deal with if he wants to love her. So maybe he doesn't truly love her; he only loves bits and pieces of her, but he loves the idea of loving all of her, and there doesn't seem to really be a difference. He wants to love everything about her from the paleness of her skin to pools of chocolate that are her eyes to her ski-slope nose to her rare but beautiful smile to her uneven lips to her legs that stretch for miles to the wideness of her lovely hips, and if he thinks he can love all of that, then he can.

He doesn't know why, but he feels as if he changed his life for the better and the worse. Before he met her for the second time, for that awfully strange date, he woke up expecting nothing but the same mediocrity he's lived in for his entire life. He used to wake up with no hope or enthusiasm for his day, for no one to make his day a little better. Now he wakes up with confidence, excitement, and fear all at the same time, and there's something good about that. He knows it. He hopes Bella knows it, too.

After he dropped her off at home last night from their movie date in which they didn't really pay attention to the movie, Bella seemed off, somehow. Even though being off all of a sudden is her thing, her trademark, Jacob felt it. He would have called and asked later, but he knew that would get him nowhere. It never has before. She lives on her terms; that's one of the only things they have in common.

Jacob gets out of bed and decides to go see her. They never established "visiting hours," but they never had to; even when they don't completely understand each other, they still do. With a little pep in his step, Jake throws on jeans and a t-shirt and makes his way to his car, a Volkswagen Rabbit that also has Bella, Bella, Bella signed in it, as well as on it. She couldn't not leave her signature wherever she went, even if she tried.

*.*.*

At the library, Bella strolls through the young adult section. She used to live here, back when she was ten. She felt like a rebel for reading material for the younger set of adults before she was even a teenager, but now she can't help but feel and accept her age. And she hates it, too. She really does. Her mother, Renee, recently got into these kinds of books—Bella recognizes most of the titles. Renee practically demolishes these books, which puts a weird taste in Bella's mouth. These specific books were meant for her. These books were written by some middle-aged authors with the idea of Bella in mind, and for Bella to have that taken away by her mother hurts. When Renee doesn't completely ignore her daughter, she takes away what is rightfully hers, which Bella views as an injustice of the worst kind.

Then again, as Bella looks at the summaries of these books, she must admit that Renee can have them. She can have all of them since they sound like crap. Back when she was a kid, she read everything. Now she chooses books with caution—often with so much caution that she never finishes them. She picks up a book with a cover that intrigues her, but after reading about it (and flipping to the last page), she wants to cry. She's had that feeling a lot these days.

That girl is me.

Based on what she read, the story is about a guy whose life is so utterly lifeless until he meets some lunatic of a girl who lives on the edge and makes his life take a turn for the better and the worse only for something horrible to happen to her and leave him completely static again.

Maybe Bella has a stalker who manages to see into the future, too, because this sounds a little bit too much like her and Jacob, and that's just a little bit too unpleasant.

Shaking her head and flipping through the book's pages, Bella can't keep herself away from it. The book has Post-It notes with thoughts in different handwritings and folded pages throughout it—it's been examined. It's been loved. This horrible book has been adored by so many people, and she can't see why. She suddenly slams the book shut before its secrets and messages can fly out like bats out of hell, but she can't bring herself to set it down. That's kind of her life she's holding, as much as she hates to admit it.

She must not have noticed anyone behind her, but when she turns around, she sees Jacob Black. As much as she doesn't like him as much as she could, she can never get sick of him. His russet skin and short brown hair are lovely. They make her feel somewhat warm. His height and size make her feel secure. Her heart makes her feel lonely. The universe can really suck ass sometimes.

"Bella," he says, relieved in a way.

"Jacob," she says, not able to determine how she feels to see him here.

"What are you doing here?" they ask each other at the same time. Jacob chuckles; Bella fakes a laugh that she really doesn't have to fake.

"I like books," she says, gesturing to the horrible one in her hand. "You?"

"I was gonna go to your house," he admits, "but I saw your truck here and, well, you can see it from anywhere." He chuckles again.

"Oh. Did you want to talk to me about something?" she asks, tucking a lock of her hair behind her ear. She hates her ears, but she hates a lot of things about herself and Jacob's already aware of them. As much as she doesn't exactly like him, he knows her.

"Uh," he says, struggling to find a decent way to tell her no. He could easily just say no, but he doesn't want it to come off that way. "Not really." Smooth as hell.

I'm not buying this mess, she thinks. I never do, and I'm especially not buying it today.

"Jake," she begins, "why do you like me?"

Jacob finds himself at a loss for words. "What—what do you mean?" he finally asks.

"I mean what I asked," she replies. "Why do you like me?" She holds her tongue from asking cutting, snarky questions that would only lead to his heart breaking at her expense, and if she's going to break him, she's going to break him the right way: with honesty.

He would say he loves her for her mind, but that would sound like a load of bullshit to her, so he tells it like it is. It's not right, but he does it, anyway. A lot of things in the universe aren't right, either. "Bella, I like you—I love you—because you're amazing. And the thing with that word—amazing—is that people use it on stupid shit. People describe a stupid-ass cat video on the internet as amazing, or some action-packed trailer for some stupid-ass movie as amazing, or the homeless guy doing stupid-ass standup comedy down the street as amazing. The word is so overused that when people finally get married or hold their newborn baby in their arms, they can't use that word because they've already wasted it on some stupid-ass cat video on the internet. But, Bella, I don't use that word for just anything—I really don't. I reserved it for you because you are amazing in the entire sense of the word. You define amazing. You changed my life—"

"Jacob, don't," Bella whispers, but he keeps going.

His eyes are nearly animated as continues his spew, and from here, there's no way to stop it. "You changed my life, Bella, and I need you to know that. Just before the week we spent together, I felt so dead inside. I did, and I didn't know why, but goddamn. I saw the light when I spent time with you and it lasted all through the time I spent without you—"

"Please—"

"—And there's nothing more I want to do than be with you more. I hate to say it like this, but I'm going to be honest: you're almost an addiction." His voice grows louder. "You know that? I can't stay away from you, and even as I know for a fucking fact that you want almost nothing to do with me, I acknowledge the almost. I acknowledge the part of you that does want to be with me, and that's what's keeping me hanging on. That's literally it and I—"

Her voice is as loud as the pages of a book flipping. "Stop."

"I love you, Bella Swan," he says, loud enough for the entire library to hear. "I love you."

"Stop it!" she exclaims.

His rampage is over and he hangs high and dry, just realizing what he's said, but before he can apologize, Bella goes on a rampage of her own. She's certainly had enough time to think about it, and the novel she continues to grip gives her some sort of power.

"I can't believe you're making me tell you this," she says with a sad sigh, "but I'm not your manic pixie dream girl, Jake, and I thought you were smart enough to see this. You know that, right? Because you're not the first guy to experience all this from me, and you're going to be the last, either."

His eyes remain glued to hers, listening, absorbing.

"Damn, Jacob…" she falters. "I mean, I'm not here to complete you or take you on some cliché whirlwind adventure that you'll find in some romance novel today, like this likely piece-of-shit I'm holding in my hand right now. I'm not here to make you feel alive again or appreciate life a little more, if that's what you've been trying to get me to do, which is what it sounds like. My goal isn't to specifically change your life, all right? All right? I already have a hard enough time trying to live my life, and I can't be your only source of happiness. I can't because that's not fucking fair. I'm just looking for a peace of mind. I'm just here to walk the sidewalks and smell the roses and breathe the air. So please… please don't make me the reason for every step you take or every scent you inhale or every breath you breathe, just because you think it'll liven you up. That's not my job—that's yours."

Before he can say anything else, Bella—running on fumes—shoves the book from her hand to his. "Read this," she says. "And don't talk to me again until you see how wrong we are. That's all I want from you."

She turns and leaves the young adult section, leaves the library, and possibly leaves his life. All that remains of her is a trail he can't seem to follow this time.


fin.