Just A Girl

Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight.

Summary: Bella gets a new English teacher. It changes everything. New Moon AU. Imprint.


Minutes passed. They were laying side by side on Bella's bed, Jacob's fingers slowly combing through her hair. It felt very much like they were the only two people that existed. Jacob's woodsy scent filled her with every breath she took. She could hear the pounding of his heartbeat under her ear. She could see their entire future laid out plainly before her.

It was unreal, laying here with him. Nothing else mattered. Jacob had held her together for so long and now, finally, he didn't have to worry about pieces breaking off of her and getting lost in the downwards spiral. She was glued back together. Some of the pieces were in crooked angles, pressed into the wrong places, but she was still Bella and he was still Jacob. They fit together. They were made for each other.

Even the spirits had agreed.

Bella knew that she was always supposed to end up right here, like this. Jacob's body was pressed against her, encasing her. She felt infinite at this moment. She felt like a warrior. She could take on anything.

As long as Jacob was standing next to her.

The silence surrounded them. It was soft, feathery, like a down comforter that shielded away winter's wandering hands. Except, Bella had never owned a down comforter and spring was ripening outside of her window.

There was a world outside waiting for them. Responsibilities were knocking on her bedroom door, a sharp, short rapture. Half a second, a breath, a smile – the world stretched beyond them. A thousand inconsequential things littered across the space between what existed now and what Bella could see in the depth of Jacob's eyes.

There were words that needed to be said. Decisions needed to be made. A war needed to be won. And then, maybe they could fall back into their deepest parts. Maybe Jacob would press his hands to her thighs and she could press her face into his sternum and everything would coincide like it was meant to.

Whatever future they were meant to have – unaided by supernatural forces, untainted by the hands of her lost lover, her vampire that sucked out the venom from her wrist and sucked himself from her life – would surely meet back up with them, like two dead ends connecting to make a whole, free flowing path to whatever lay beyond.

Bella would be okay with never traveling beyond her bedroom, right at this instant when time stood still and infinity licked the walls like shadows.

But there was no such thing as forever and there never had been. There had been hypocritical delusions of grandeur once upon a time, but the first drafts of fairytales always ended in tragedy.

Bella had grown past the books that slathered meaningless murmurings across pages. Perhaps, sci-fi was no longer a ridiculous genre. Maybe there was something to be learned from things that lay far beyond the realm of this point in time.

Jacob breathed out, an exclamation of all of his wants and desires that could not be obtained in this moment. Bella suffered with him. But they would grow ripe in their years and their love would age like the finest wine. Of that, Bella was sure.

They just had to make sure they both lived through whatever was approaching from the hills.

"What happened?" Bella finally asked.

"A lot." Jacob said.

A pause. A breath. Four steady heartbeats beneath her ear.

"Tell me about it."


"….and I phased, hoping that I could just do it quick and easy – like a band aid. Sam would realize what had happened by one glimpse in my head, y'know? It was a sure way to figure out who was still alpha or maybe if we were both alphas and some fight had to take place for the position. But, Bells, we all phased, one after another, and we couldn't hear Sam or Paul. So, Embry though that they just weren't phased. I howled for them, like normal. We waited and waited and waited. Nothing."

"Did they not come?" Bella asked.

"No." Jacob shook his head. "They came. We just couldn't hear them. Our minds weren't linked anymore."

"Why not?"

"All that we could come up with was that we had somehow formed two different Packs. Which I didn't understand, because I was unconscious when this had taken place." Jacob ran a hand through his hair. "Jared thinks that the betrayal triggered something and Embry sealed the deal with his alpha command."

Bella chewed on her lip. "So did you actually talk to them?"

Jacob nodded. "Once we figure out that we couldn't hear each other, we all phased back. Sam was pissed. Paul looked kind of ill." He trailed off, looking unseeingly into the distance.

"Jake?" She murmured.

He gave her a soft smile.

"It wasn't nearly as complicated as we all thought it would be. There wasn't even a fight."

"Sam just surrendered?" Bella could not believe that.

"Of course not." Jacob scoffed. "But I was always meant to be alpha and Sam could not fight that. He was born to follow me. They all were."

There was no edge of superiority to Jacob's tone. There was nothing that hinted at hidden glee at his new position of power over his fellow packmates. There was only unaltered honest with sharp edges. Within those edges was the evidence that Jacob was no longer a boy. He was a man.

"And?" She prompted.

"It turns out," Jacob said softly, "It was a lot harder for Sam to maintain the power of alpha than we thought. It was kind of tearing him in two. He didn't really want to give it up – it felt so powerful to him. I could see into his mind as soon as I made the decision that we could not have two packs. I could see how much the alpha position meant to him. It gave him something tangible to hold onto, y'know? I couldn't fault him for that. But it was never meant to be his. He wasn't equipped to deal with the sheer weight of it. That doesn't make up for some of actions, but it makes him seem less of a villain - at least to me. He did kind of leave me for dead though."

"Why did he do that? Why did Paul do that?" Bella asked, the horror of the previous night still ice cold within her.

"Jealousy." Jacob said softly. "Sam knew that I wouldn't be able to fight the pull much longer. He didn't want to give it up. He honestly didn't want me to die – I could see it in his mind, I could feel it. But he still did what he did. There's no taking that back. And Paul…. He doesn't have any family. He had no one. Sam has been his best friend since they were kids – kind of like Em and I. Paul would follow Sam anywhere, come hell or high water. I hadn't realized how drastically Sam had changed since phasing until I really looked into Paul's head." Jacob cringed. "It's not pretty in there. He's so angry – at everything. At the world. At his parents. At himself. At the whole wolf thing. At Sam too, for changing so much. But he can't turn his back on Sam because he's all he's got left."

"He had the rest of you though. He didn't have to follow Sam if he didn't want to." Bella pointed out.

Jacob shook his head. "We may have been shoved into each other heads, but there was no ingrained loyalty for one another. We didn't just phase and suddenly become brothers. We didn't even try."

"You should try." Bella pressed. "You need to be a Pack, Jacob. It's a part of you. You can't fight it – none of you."

"I know." He agreed, clasping her hand in his fist.

Bella frowned. "What's going to happen to Sam though? Are you…. punishing him?"

Jacob shook his head. "No… I mean, he's going to definitely be running extra patrols… But he's not a bad guy, Bella. I kind of… mind raped him to be honest. It wasn't one of my proud moments. He's not a threat to the Pack. He just needs to… grow up a bit I think. Everything was kind of thrown on him too fast and the weight was too much and so he fell into petty desires. And when he first phased… for a month he had no idea what was happening to him, running around in wolf form. It would make any man slightly crazy."

Bella pressed herself closer to Jacob's side. "You're going to be okay, right? With this alpha stuff? You're not pushing yourself too hard?"

"Nah. I just get to make lots of decisions now." He gave her a slightly vindicated smirk.

"You'll tell me," Bella started, softly, "If you need anything. You'll tell me if you're feeling too much pressure. Okay?"

"Bells." Jacob pressed his forehead against hers. "I'm not Sam. Don't worry about me. Besides, Embry's already stepped up to handle all of my insane moments."

"I told you he was your beta." She felt slightly smug now.

Jacob grimaced at her. "As soon as we phased, I could feel the new bonds. I knew I was alpha and I knew that Embry was beta. The others could feel it too. But I still don't know… with Embry's parentage. It could still be that Embry is my brother and is just acting in steed for the beta position. Sam isn't fit for the job at least."

"Let's not worry about that, okay?" Bella kissed him chastely, her lungs breathing in the air he had just exhaled. "We can get a paternity test done if you want, but it's useless to worry over it."

"Okay."

Jacob pressed his lips back to hers. His tongue traced her bottom lip. She tugged on his with her teeth. Something animalistic sounding came from Jacob's throat. She pulled back, looking at him through her eyelashes, laughter clearly defined on her face. He grinned at her, a full Jacob smile that she hadn't seen in a while.

"We're going to make up for all of this." Jacob whispered to her. "We're going to get our shit together and we're going to destroy this fucking redhead leech and you and I are going to live happily ever after."

"Okay." Bella smiled at him. "Sounds good to me."

"Good." Jacob breathed out, a weight lessening from his shoulders.

Bella pressed her lips back to his.

"Good." He repeated into her mouth.


Hi

I started writing again. I'm not sure if it was the changes in my life or you that inspired me. I know that these letter began with the intent of keep each other focused on our writing goals, but they've done a lot more than that for me.

Graduation is soon. I sent in my forms for my cap and gown today. I'm not particularly enthusiastic about doing the whole graduation ceremony thing, but I figured my parents deserve that much. I proud of myself too. I'm proud that I made it through this far. As long as I don't fail any exams from here on out, it'll be a smooth ride.

I hope.

There are a lot of loose ends left in my life, but I've started to figure out that not everything can be tied with a bow and set out for display. A lot of things will always be there, silent on the edges. You can forget about that most of the time, but late at night they'll creep up on you. I'm worried about drowning in them, but it's easier now.

I thought I was in love before. And I think I really did love him. It was honest. My feelings were not born out of some hypnotic notion or emotional vindication that left me easy prey. I knew what I was doing. As much as I wish to excuse my actions sometimes, I can't. My actions were my own and always will be.

I can see a future now. For so long I felt empty, going through the motions in search of something that would make sense. I've found it. That long forgotten thing that I can't figure out how I didn't see sooner. It's like picking up a penny off the road and wondering why anyone ever dropped something so shiny.

I want to start reading again. I used to read so much. I want to find the pieces of my old self again. I'm ready to incorporate old things back into the new me.

Do you have any reading suggestions? I'm even open to sci-fi.

Hopefully,

Bee


Time passed. The threat of Victoria increased tenfold. She was teetering on the edges of the Pack's defense line. The new unity that flowed through the Pack seemed to scare her, Jacob thought. After the attack with her newly made vampires, Victoria seemed more suicidal, but also more careful. The Pack was confused. Exhaustion swept through all of them. And Bella.

Bella was rarely left to her own devices. A wolf was always with her – either in the woods outside of where she was currently at or inside the house with her. She had started cooking a lot more – feeding the Pack large appetites. It seemed when the alpha role had transferred away from Sam, the Pack stopped hanging out at his house as often. Or at least, heading there for food.

Bella worried about Emily when the boys started showing up more and more at her door for food as opposed to the little house in La Push. Bella had a lot of other things to keep her busy. Emily didn't.

But Bella didn't head down to La Push to see Emily. Jacob had thought it best to give Sam and Emily some time to themselves. And he didn't particularly want her anywhere near Sam. He may had forgone punishing the older man because of the circumstances, but that didn't mean that Jacob trusted Sam with her.

Bella didn't particularly trust Sam with Jacob, either.

The new dynamics were hard to slip into. Charlie had gotten a shock when he had come home for dinner to find the majority of the Pack had taken over their living room. He had turned slightly red in the face, but Jacob had talked him down without Charlie even having to say a world. She had always known that Charlie approved of Jacob.

Jacob and Bella had not made their relationship 'public' so to speak. They were in a relationship though. They moved around one another like they were orbiting each other. They made out a lot too. Typical teenagers. They had not had sex. Bella was kind of looking forward to the moment they did, but she wasn't really keen on rushing it. They had time.

For the first time in her life, Bella didn't feel like she had to rush anything. Except getting Victoria taken care of.

As soon as the redhead was out of the picture, everything would be as close to perfect as possible. Maybe she and Jacob could go away for the weekend, leave Embry in charge of the Pack and have some true time to themselves.

Bella was itching for something outside of Forks. There was a life beyond this tiny town. She knew that Jacob would forever be bound to La Push, but that did not mean that he had to be present there all the time. He had options too.

She had never talked to Jacob about what he wanted to do with his life. She didn't know if he was interested in college like Embry was or had a different path in mind. She would support him, whatever option she chose. But there was a sliver of her that wanted Jacob to go to college with her and immerse himself in the passage of time. They could rent a shitty apartment and get drunk together and make out on the living room floor. It was all there, in her head like some soap opera that couldn't be turned off.

Bella had dreams now. But she knew that's what they were – dreams, not fracturing particles of reality crammed inside of her head. The last thing she wanted to do was build Jacob up in her mind differently that how he really was. She wanted to remember him honestly, blemished and imperfect, with a voice like the ocean crashing into the rocks and how he had endeavored to shove whatever he could of himself into her to round out her paper-sharp scars.

Jacob would always be a mechanic, but she didn't need fixed anymore. He had realized that, she hoped. She hoped he looked at her now and saw her as she was and not the gaunt faced girl that showed up at his house with two broken skeletons of motorbikes.

So much had changed so quickly that her head sometimes spun with the force of it.


Bella was currently in the kitchen. The game was on in the living room and the sounds of the Pack filtered through the wall. She smiled to herself. There was a comfort in having them so close to her now. A new dynamic had taken its position and started soaring.

Jacob was leaning against the counter, watching her with warm eyes.

"Here." She murmured, holding up the spoon she was mixing the red sauce with. "Taste."

Jacob obliged, pressing his tongue out along the rim of the spoon. She grinned at him, cheeks pink.

"Good." He smacked his lips together. "Very good. But I know something that tastes better." He wagged his eyebrows at her suggestively.

She rolled her eyes at him, unable to hold in her giggle.

"Okay, break it up!" Quil smirked at them as he appeared at the kitchen door. "Or do we get dinner and a show?"

Quicker than Bella's human eyes could follow, Jacob had pounced on Quil sending the two crashing to the floor. The laughter that came out of their mouths filled in the spaces of the moment.

Embry appeared at the door, looking down at the two of them were fond amusement. He looked up at her and rolled his eyes.

She rolled hers back at him, sticking her tongue out.

Embry stepped over Jacob's leg to reach her, wrapping a friendly around her shoulder and kissing her temple.

"I think we're raising children." Embry said conversationally to her.

"Oh yes." She played along. "If they don't stop wrestling on the floor, they won't get dinner." She peered down at the Jacob and Quil still half on top of each other on the floor.

Jared appeared at the doorway of the kitchen, a huge smirk on his face.

"I still get dinner though, right?" He batted his eyelashes at Bella. She laughed, her chest heaving up and down.

Composing herself, she glanced at Embry conspiringly. "What do you think, honey?" She crooned at him.

Embry smirked at her. "I don't know, honey." He crooned back at her in an absolutely hilarious accent. "Dinners not ready, yet. He could still ruin his chances."

Embry suddenly grunted in pain. Jacob had kicked him right in the shin.

"Stop chatting up my girl." Jacob teased, pulling himself off the floor and stealing Bella from his arms, only to laugh at the look of offense on Embry's face.

Quil stayed on the floor, seemingly perfectly content on the tile.

Bella easily stepped out of Jacob's arms, took a leap over Quil's stomach and turned off the burner on the sauce.

"Ready." She announced.

Bella quickly sidestepped out of the kitchen while the boys began to load up their plates. Jared caught her before she made her escape fully.

"Aren't you going to eat?"

"Yeah." She said. "I've just got to…" She gestured towards the living room. Jared's face hardened slightly.

"Do you want me to come with you?" He asked.

Bella shook her head. "It's fine. You'll be able to hear everything anyway."

She glanced at Jacob as she left to find him staring right at her, face full of question. She shook her head lightly at him and he nodded at her.

In the living room, Paul sat like a statue on the couch in front of the TV.

Paul and Sam had been largely excluded form Pack get-togethers – however informal they were. Bella hadn't exactly planned on cooking dinner for an army tonight, but they had showed up at her door and who was she to turn them away. To be honest, she loved having them around. She was tired of being alone. She had been alone for seventeen years before she moved to Forks and she was done.

So she could understand Paul in some respects. From what Jacob had told her, he was really just a very lonely and very angry boy that didn't know how to rid himself of negative emotions besides spreading them to other people. And that was toxic.

But after the whole thing with Sam and Paul and the others had blown up, the two had tried to keep their distance. They obeyed Jacob and avoid starting problems, but they did not try to blend in.

Jacob, Embry, Quil, and Jared had started falling into each other's movements, echoing one another like shadows. Jared had found things in common with the younger wolves. While he did not hold the years of friendship like Jacob, Embry and Quil did with one another, there was a bond that came from existing in each other's heads. And it wasn't being ignored any longer. They had intimate knowledge of one another and with that came trust. Jacob would never betray that trust, even to tell her things.

Bella accepted that.

She also accepted the fact that things needed to move one and people couldn't be stuck in the same molds forever. Therefore, here she was standing in front of Paul – who had hesitantly followed Jared into the house that afternoon. The only one that Paul seemed to be slightly comfortable around anymore was Jared. Jacob had told her that he was even avoiding Sam. Some things you couldn't forget.

But there was such a thing as forgiveness and Bella had always been told that she gave it away too easily.

"Are you going to come eat?" She asked him softly but not shyly.

Paul looked away from the TV to look at her. "I don't want to… uh…"

"You won't get in the way."

The wolf that had insulted her straight to her face that day in the kitchen was gone. In front of her was a boy swaddled in insecurity and trying to climb out of his self-inflected shipwreck.

"C'mon." She ordered. He stood and followed her to the kitchen.

The rest of the Pack, minus Sam, was already sitting at the table, plates loaded. They all looked up when Paul entered the kitchen behind her.

Paul faltered at the doorway. She glared at all of her wolves, Paul included.

"We are going to sit around this table and have a nice dinner like a happy little family and I will have no glaring or insulting and you will not throw food, Quil."

All five of them nodded at her.

There was always a leap of faith before progress was made. It was understood that day in the kitchen, the leap had been made.


The following day was Saturday and Bella had just parked her truck at Jacob's little red house. Unfortunately, Jacob would be on patrol for most of the day, leaving her to her own devices. The Pack was trying to draw Victoria out into the open. The days that best suited the wolf-hunt were weekends, when Bella could keep her feet firmly planted on La Push soil.

But Bella had a secondary motive with her stop today.

It seemed ages ago that Embry had first told her about the secret journals left by the last Pack – Jacob's great-grandfather. Bella had not forgotten about them. They seemed like something held over her head, teasing her with the information that was surely pressed inside of the pages in the lines of past generations and birthright and the curse of supernatural; the honor of being a protector.

Sam, as previous alpha, had never read the journals as far as Bella was aware. Jacob had not mentioned anything about them to her. Perhaps, he had too much on his mind to fully engage every aspect of his birthright. Bella, however, seemed to have a lot of time on her hands.

Embry had called her the alpha female, after all. Surely that meant something.

Billy was current chief of the tribe. He was the one locking away those journals and he would be the one to give her answers. So here she stood, at the door of the little red house that she spent almost as much time in as her own. She had long sense moved passed the formalities of knocking.

"Billy?" She called as she headed inside.

He was sitting in his wheelchair, flipping channels on the TV when she found him. He glanced up at her, a wane smile on his lips.

"Bella." He greeted in that deep voice of his. "How are you today?"

"I'm okay." She said, smiling. She sat down on the edge of the couch and chewed on her lip, wondering how to phrase this.

"Is everything okay?" Billy always did seem to have sixth sense when it came to trouble. But Bella was not trying to start trouble. She was trying to keep trouble to the minimum these days.

Less for her wolves to do.

"I want to read the journals of the last Pack." Tumbled out of her mouth before she could retrain herself. Well, too late now. "I'm the current alpha's imprint – that's got to mean something, right? And Jacob and I have talked about it." That wasn't completely true, but she knew Jacob would back her up if asked. "But he's running himself dry trying to catch Victoria and keep up with mundane life. The Pack has so many questions and Sam never looked into it before… I just want to help them, Billy."

Billy watched her with those knowing eyes. Bella wondered what his thoughts were on the whole dynamic change in the Pack. Jacob had told her that his father was happy he had stepped up to his birthright, but Bella didn't know how well informed Billy was on the event that lead to Jacob's newly accepted role. Bella didn't even know if Billy accepted her. For all she knew, he was upset that his son had imprinted on her.

At least, Billy had never been upset about them spending time together before Jacob phased. He had encouraged it, actually. And she and Jacob had been something long passed the lines of friendship by the time he turned into a wolf. Maybe she was reading too much into everything, now-a-days.

"Bella," Billy began. "The current alpha is the one with the power over who reads what is in the journals. I am only the holder of them." His eyes twinkled at her, so much like that of his son's. "Once Jacob gets off of patrol and gives me an official 'yes' I'll pull them out for you."

That had gone a lot smoother than Bella had expected.


Jacob came in through her window late that evening with a bag in his fist. He had taken to spending most of his nights in her room, when he wasn't on patrol or needed elsewhere. She slept better with him around – her dreams were less strange. Jacob still saw her every day – even if it was for five minutes. The imprint bond made it too hard to be away from each other for too long. Bella had begun to feel a physical strain herself, when it was approaching the twenty-four hour mark. Along with the fact she was sure he could feel Jacob's emotions at times as acutely as her own, there was evidence that their bond had gotten stronger with the passage of time.

She wondered if it was all building up to something or if it would continue to bloom. If one day, she would be able to feel Jacob as a full body extension of her own soul.

The interesting things was, when Bella had talked about imprinting with Emily – the only other Pack imprint – she had never mentioned these side effects, so to speak, that had made themselves known to Bella. Emily had described the draw that she had to Sam, but it felt nothing like the rope that tugged and tugged at Bella's chest until she was in direct skin contact with Jacob.

As if Jacob felt the rope as well, he sat his bag down at the end of her bed and grabbed her in a full body hug. He kissed both of her cheeks, a smile on the corners of his mouth. Bella pressed her lips to his, her tongue swiping against his teasingly. They broke apart, breathless and giddy in their togetherness.

Just having him near her made everything gain more color.

"How was patrol?" Bella kept her forehead pressed against his.

Jacob's mood darkened significantly. "I'm starting to wonder if we're ever going to catch this bitch. I'm worried about you all the fucking time. It's driving me nuts."

Bella tightened her arms around him. "I'm sorry."

Jacob kissed her again. "It's not your fault. My wolf is all up and arms, thought. He wants to hide away in the woods with you."

"Really?" Bella asked.

Jacob gave a hum in confirmation. "He thinks you're too skinny. He wants to bring you dead animals every time I come and see you."

"I'm not that skinny." Bella argued.

Jacob laughed, pressing his lips to her throat. "You're perfect, Bells. I don't care if you suck the entire universe inside of you, I'll still love you desperately."

Bella pressed her face to his hair in embarrassment. "What else does your wolf think?"

Jacob sudden tension was almost unnoticeable, but Bella was an expert on all things Jacob.

"What is it?" She asked.

"Well… he kind of wants you." Jacob murmured sounded very much like the sixteen year old boy he had been before he had turned into a wolf.

"Oh." Bella started petting his hair.

"I'm not pressuring you or anything, Bells." Jacob murmured in that same soft, embarrassed tone. "I'd never."

"I know." Bella said, calmly. But her face was probably the color of a tomato. "I love you, Jake. We have the rest of our lives, okay?"

Jacob looked up at her and their eyes met and everything was right in the world.

"Okay." He agreed and gathered her to him. They laid there together, soaking each other in.

"Do you bring the journals?" Bella asked.

"Yeah, they're in the bag."

Bella sat up and grabbed Jacob's bag off of her floor. Inside were three leather-bound journals that looked like they had seen the full extent of their age.

"Have you looked at them?" She asked Jacob.

He shook his head. "I'm not really… enthusiastic about this aspect. I figure if it's important, you'll let me know."

Bella kissed the underside of his jaw. "You should read them, eventually."

"I will." Jacob said. "But right now, I have a leech to kill."


Bumble Bee,

I would love to read what you're writing! If you'd like to share. I promise to tell you very nicely if you suck. I doubt you do, though. You're a very expressive writer in these letters.

You've become a friend to me in the past months, Bee. I'm thankful for that. It's nice to have someone on the outside of everything. It gives perspective.

Graduation, now that's a big deal. I don't know if I'll walk for graduation next year or not. It seems like a pretty useless ritual for me – especially since I want to continue on with my education.

I think my college prospects are brighter now. Do you remember that conflict with my friend and my boss? It's all worked out now, for the better. There's a new freedom in my life now. A heaviness that's dissipated. It's nice.

I can see a future too. It's different than I ever imagined it before, but it's there. I may not get everything I had planned before this year, but it won't be bad. It may even be nice.

As for book recommendations, I've been waiting forever for you to ask.

The Giver by Lois Lowry (Another validation of love)

The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver (A pretty feminist-like fiction novel – made me want to be a better guy)

The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald (One of my favorite books - I attached my copy in this balky envelope. I'm one of those people that abuses books and writes all over them, but I thought you might be interested in reading some of my notes. This book has a profound message that I think you'd understand. You can send it back to me in your next letter.)

Looking forward,

Your friend

P.S. I'll also attached one of the best sci-fi novels of all time. Don't make any judgements until the end. Happy reading!