Story: The Perfect Gift

Rating: T with a small sprinkling of bad words

Pairing: Bella and Jacob

Time period: A/U Breaking Dawn. The wedding has been postponed by Bella, and she has moved in with the Cullen family. No wedding date has been set yet.

Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight and all of the characters. I only hope she allows us to continue to play with her characters because I love JxB!

"Good evening, shoppers. Our store will be closing in 30 minutes so that our employees can get home to their families for Christmas Eve. Please choose your final purchases and have a nice holiday," an overly cheerful voice chirped over the PA system.

"Can I help you find something, Sir?" an older woman smiled warmly at the man walking around, who looked as lost as a lone child in an amusement park.

"Uh, I don't know what to get my friend for Christmas," he told her, his eyes darting all around.

"What does your friend like?" She probed.

"Well, the thing is she doesn't really like this kind of stuff. I don't know why I'm here. She's not into…" his hand drifted toward a rack of scarves on the glass case. "...$400 accessories."

"Then what would bring you in a store like this?" she chuckled. He glanced at her name tag.

"Sandra, you see she's engaged to a rich guy. Maybe that's what brought me here. Thinking I could find something she would like since she seems to like him and his prissy family."

"Your best friend, you say?" Sandra asked.

"Since we were little," he affirmed.

"I might be able to help you. But you'd have to stick around until after the store closes when I get off."

"Okay. Where do you want me to meet you?" He asked.

"Oh, Jacob. I'm sure you can figure it out," she winked before walking away from him and speaking with a man and woman at the other side of the counter.

He stood for a few moments, opening and closing his mouth, wondering how the older woman knew his name. Instead, he shook his head and went outside. He sat on a bench by the door and watched the last minute shoppers rushing about. Eventually, the doors were locked by a security guard and the interior lights dimmed. Jacob stood looking inside the glass, wondering where Sandra went. The guard came back to the door but didn't open it.

"Can I help you, sir?" he called through the glass.

"Sandra said I should meet her when the store closed."

The man eyed Jacob up and down.

"She takes the bus," he said before turning and walking away.

Jacob whirled around wondering where the bus stop was located when he saw the woman walking toward a little shelter. He started walking her way, but when he caught up to her she was sitting inside the shelter awaiting the bus.

"So, Jacob, you found me. Tell me about this girl that is marrying another man." She turned to look at him, an unexpected twinkle in her eye and a slight grin on her face.

"She's my best friend. No one else gets me the way she does, which is surprising, seeing as how my friends have an inside view. We understand each other with just a look. But she insists he's the one she's meant to be with. I don't understand why. She isn't herself when she's around him and his family. She can be herself with me. I love the way she blushes, and trips over flat, level ground." He chuckled as he pictured her stumbling.

"That must be hard to watch the woman you love marry another man," she surmised.

"Yeah," Jacob whispered.

"I have just the thing for you to give her for Christmas. We can take the bus or you can give me a ride. What do you think?"

"We can take my car. I can run and get it, or we can walk over there together." Jacob pointed to the lone car far off from the bus stop.

"Oh my. Why don't you go get it and meet me back here?" Sandra told him.

Jacob asked her if she'd be okay by herself and then he headed off at a sprint to his car. He didn't want to leave the older woman alone, but he couldn't give himself away either. Starting the car, he turned the heat up on high even though the cold didn't bother him too much.

As Jacob pulled up in front of the bus stop, he saw it was empty except for a gift bag. He hopped out and looked around. There wasn't a bus in sight, nor Sandra. He walked up and saw the red bag, beautifully stuffed with tissue paper. A tag hung from the handle and Jacob flipped it over to read the name, "Bella." Perplexed, Jacob took the bag and got back in his car. He realized that he didn't have much time before he was supposed to meet Bella.

He'd begged her to meet him away from the bloodsuckers and she'd relented, agreeing to meet him at the diner in Forks for a Christmas Eve gift exchange. It didn't really make sense to him why she couldn't see him on Christmas Day, but he wanted to get her a gift. After brainstorming a dozen ideas, he discarded them all, thinking them inferior to any gift the bloodsucker would be giving her. She'd postponed the August wedding much to Jacob's relief, but she still wore the gaudy ring he'd given her.

Slowly, Jacob turned into the diner parking lot, noting there were few cars, aside from the flashy black Mercedes. It still annoyed the crap out of him that she drove that car. It was insulting in Forks where the median income was $40,000 and a quarter of that on the res.

After Jacob parked his car, he took a deep breath and steeled himself for their meeting. He hoped that the gift in the bag was something that Bella would always keep with her, even if she left him and was to never see him again.

The bells above the door chimed annoyingly against his head as he walked in. You'd think one would remember they were tall enough to touch their heads on doors, but despite ducking to miss the frame, he still jingled the bells. Looking up, he stared into Bella's wide brown eyes. She smiled when she saw him, her fingers wrapped around the coffee mug in front of her. Her fingers twitched and she squeezed them back onto the mug. He smiled inwardly, knowing she was trying to keep herself from jumping up and hugging him. Instead, he leaned in and wrapped her in a hug, casually sniffing her hair. It smelled clean, like she'd showered before coming to see him.

"Hey, Bells," he smiled, setting the gift on the bench next to him, as he slid in the booth across from her.

"Jacob," she smiled back. "Merry Christmas."

"Same to you. Watchya got there?" He asked glancing into her mug.

"Hot chocolate," Bella grinned, a light blush blooming on her cheeks.

"Sounds good," he said. The waitress came to their table and took their orders. The woman was used to the amount of food the pack ate, so she wasn't too shocked when he ordered a triple cheeseburger with large fries, a slice of chocolate pie, hot chocolate and a chocolate milkshake.

Bella snickered as he ordered and then ordered her own single burger and an ice water.

"No fries?" Jacob asked.

"I'll just share yours," she told him.

"She'll have an order of fries, too," he told the waitress before she left.

Bella laughed out loud at that one. "Wouldn't want to lose a finger when you steal my food, would you?" Jacob grinned as he sipped the water in front of her.

"Oh, but you can drink my water?" Bella teased.

"I'm just taking a sip. You'd eat half my fries and then wonder why I'm upset!"

"I would not!" she answered, indignation in her voice.

"Whatever!" Jacob laughed at her, knowing this was her usual reaction to sharing food. She thought she'd just eat one or two fries, then be offended when he asked her to stop eating all of his fries.

The conversation remained light and happy as they ate their food. Bella reached over and quickly dipped a fry in Jacob's milkshake, and stuffed it into her mouth.

"You little thief!"

Bella just smiled. Jacob reached over and grabbed the last quarter of Bella's burger and shoved it in his mouth, smiling with the food squishing out his teeth.

"Now, that's just gross, Jacob Black." Bella stared at him in disgust.

"You started it," he said, as he continued to shovel in more fries. He slurped his milkshake, continuing to drink even after it was obvious it was gone.

"Can I get you guys anything else?" The waitress asked them. She looked at Jacob. "A whole cow?"

Bella burst into laughter at the waitress' quip.

"Nah, we're good. I ate a whole pig on my way here. Pickled feet and all."

The girls looked at each other and pretended to stick their fingers down their throats and gag. The waitress left the check on the table and told them to take their time, she was stuck there until midnight regardless.

"So…" Jacob started as he reached down to grab the bag next to him. He set it on the table in front of them. Bella reached into her purse and pulled out an envelope.

"Open yours first," Bella encouraged him. He opened the envelope and pulled out a card. Taped inside were a couple of gift cards and another envelope. Jacob looked at the gift cards for music, a restaurant in Port Angeles and a gas card. He opened the smaller envelope and read the note inside. He folded it and put it back in the envelope and smiled.

"That's really nice, Bells. You know I can always do with a Steak of the Month club subscription."

"I just thought…" Bella began. Jacob reached out and touched her arm.

"I know," he whispered, not letting her finish her sentence. He didn't want to hear how she wanted to make sure he had food when she was gone.

"Open yours," he smiled widely, trying to return to their jovial mood.

Bella pulled the thick tissue paper out of the bag, enjoying the simple beauty of the gift. Inside was a small box. She pulled it out and set it on the table, lifting the lid off. A soft gasp left her lips. Jacob tried to peer around the bag to see what Sandra had left. He was sure she had been more than met the eye.

He waited for Bella to say something. Finally, she glanced up at him with teary eyes. Jacob reached out and slid the bag over so that he could see what the gift was after all.

"Jake, I don't know what to say," she whispered, her voice catching in her throat. Jacob could see it was a necklace with a charm but was unable to see it closely.

"Want me to put it on you?" He asked her, his voice soft as well.

Bella briefly hesitated. "What? You don't like it?" Jacob asked.

She looked at him. Really looked at him. Then she held the necklace up. "I hold the key to your heart? Are you sure this is something I should wear? I'm engaged to marry Edward, Jacob."

Jacob swallowed hard and turned to look out the window. Bella could see his jaw clench as he gritted his teeth. What was he supposed to say? It was true. She would always hold the key to his heart. He'd loved her so much since they were small. Through everything, he still loved her. But he also loved her enough to let her make her own choices despite the pain it may cause him.

"Can I just see it on you? Just once?" He pleaded with her.

She nodded her head, allowing him to put the necklace on her. Her fingers ran over the key and lock charms as she thought about how much it hurt her to break Jacob's heart. She wished she could love him like he deserved. Suddenly, she flinched.

"What?" Jacob asked alarmed at her reaction.

Bella pulled the necklace out and looked down. It didn't seem any different. What an odd feeling. "Nothing," she'd told Jacob. He reached to take it off, but she shook her head.

"It's okay. I want to wear it for you," she told him.

Jacob stood to pay the check for their food and found Bella waiting quietly behind him. She handed him his gift that he'd left on the table; the gift bag in her other hand. His smile was tight, as he wrapped his arm around Bella's shoulder and led her out to her car. The car unlocked itself as she approached with the key fob in her purse, giving them a dim light in the dark parking lot.

"Well, this was really nice, Jake. I hope you have a good Christmas," Bella spoke up.

Not finding the right words, Jacob reached out and gently grasped Bella's fingers. He held her fingertips in his hand as he brushed his thumb over each finger. The sound of Bella's heartbeat speeding up could only be heard to him. Without asking her, he lifted her fingers to his mouth and placed a warm, lingering kiss there.

"Merry Christmas, Bella," he told her, as he placed her hand back by her side and stepped back. Before he got out of reach, he reached out and touched the necklace. His finger traced along the chain, feeling Bella's collarbone in the process. Then, he opened the car door for her. Bella slowly got in the car. Jacob closed the door behind her and walked away. His heart sank in his chest. This dinner felt so much like a farewell, and not like a Christmas Eve celebration. As far as he knew, they hadn't set a new date for the wedding. Maybe that had changed.

Glumly, Jacob walked back to his car. He stared at the Rabbit. The car was his pride and joy but often he wished he could buy a better car. He sighed heavily and unlocked the door, climbing into the driver's seat. He turned the car on and sat there staring off in the night, his thoughts lost in the future he would never see. Shifting the car into reverse, Jacob backed out of the parking space and drove off into the night. He couldn't bear to head home and so instead he decided to take a run. The dirt road was familiar to him and he parked his car off the side knowing no one else would be out there. Preparing to phase, Jacob stripped off his clothes and left them in the front seat.

Then he phased and took off into the night. The speed was one of the best feelings, but the way he had to dodge the trees and branches, helped Jacob to focus on something other than his trip to the mall and dinner with Bella. Finally, a few hours later, he felt calmer and made his way back to his car. As he came closer, he could hear the ringer on his phone. So he opened the car door and picked up his phone. It was his dad.

"Hey, Dad. What's up?" Jacob asked.

"Jake, are you still with Bella?"

"No. Why? What's going on?" Jacob immediately stepped back from the car, debating whether he should phase back or get dressed.

"Edward called here. She hasn't come home since she left to meet you at the diner he said."

"Shit. She left a few hours ago. I put her in the car myself. Has he called Charlie?"

"Charlie is here with me at Sue's house. Not sure if she went to his house or not."

Jacob swore. He hated that Bella had moved into the Cullen's house. He couldn't patrol their house and made only a few passes around the Swan house.

"Dad, let me go so I can look for her." Jacob tossed the phone on the seat. Damn it. Where would she have gone? Jacob wasn't far from home so he decided to go home to see if she'd left a message at his house. He took off into the trees. It was only a few minutes before he came up to his backyard. He jogged up into the yard, when he heard her crying softly. Without thinking, he simply rushed up to her.

"Bells?" he called out when he got close to her. She glanced up at him and covered her eyes.

"Jake!" she squeaked. Jacob looked down and realized he was as naked as the day he was born.

"Sorry. Hang on." He ran around the back of the house and grabbed a pair of shorts off the dryer from the back porch. Shoving his legs in as he walked to the front of the house, he stumbled a couple of times before getting them on both legs.

"Bella, what are you doing here?" Jacob asked as he made his way to the front porch and sat down beside Bella on the step.

"I don't know, Jake. I just felt like I was never going to see you again, and that broke my heart."

"Why wouldn't you see me again?" He asked almost breathless, his suspicions must have been close.

She didn't answer for a while, and Jacob waited patiently for her to put her thoughts together.

"I...I decided that Edward and I were going to Vegas to elope for Christmas," she said, still sniffling.

Jacob's heart skipped a beat and he felt a huge lump in his throat. The panic rose but before he let himself get too worried, he assured himself that she was there in La Push. She had not rushed back to Cullen.

"Elope?" He whispered. "You don't want a wedding?"

"I never really wanted a big fancy wedding I feel bad that the Cullens spent so much money on the wedding I postponed this summer. I figured we could go get the ceremony done quickly and inexpensively. But..." Bella stopped and stared up into the sky. "I don't know. It just doesn't feel right. I don't think I can marry Edward right now."

"Then don't," Jacob interjected. She reached out and laid her palm on his thigh to quiet him.

"I've realized there's more that I want to life. There's more things I want to be able to enjoy." It was hard for her to admit.

"Bella, that's all I've ever wanted for you. To enjoy life. To be happy."

"I know, Jake." She leaned her head on his shoulder and Jacob reached his arm around her back, holding onto her. When he felt her start to shiver, he asked her what she wanted to do.

"I want to stay with you," she told him.

"Then stay," he said.

"Merry Christmas, Jacob," Bella said and then she leaned her head back to look at Jacob. He looked down at her, and Bella's eyes drifted down to Jacob's lips. Jacob took the cue and leaned down to place a gentle kiss on her mouth.

"That's the perfect gift," he whispered into her ear. "Merry Christmas, Bells."

You know the deal if you read my stuff. Work is busy as all get out. My college class is wrapping up this month, so I'm hoping to have a little time to invest in writing. Thanks so much for taking the time to read. I love follows, favorites and kind reviews.