Usual Disclaimer: I own nothing and live a happier life because of it. I think SM sucks. All that Blackwater groundwork she laid in Breaking Dawn . . . squished . . . I'll never forgive her. Title from 'Dare You to Move' by Switchfoot.
Between Who You Are and Who You Could Be
(between how it is and how it should be)
"It's one of those bizarre things we have to deal with. It doesn't happen to everyone."
Jacob Black, Eclipse, Chapter 5: 'Imprint'
"Did it happen to you?" I finally asked, still looking away. "This love-at-first-sight thing?"
Bella Swan, Eclipse, Chapter 5: 'Imprint'
"Yes," he replies.
If Bella hadn't been sitting, Jacob's pretty sure she would have fallen.
Maybe she still might. Maybe she'll topple off the tree (their tree, once) and come crashing down onto the wet ground where he's sat by her feet.
Once—before—Bella's lack of balance would have had him throwing his head back and roaring with a laugh. Now, it has him more worried that she'll end up hurting herself. She's proven to be real good at that.
There's also a chance that her precious bloodsucker will want to avenge any injuries she returns home with, however minor, regardless of who is responsible for it. Cullen isn't exactly going to allow her to blame herself, is he? Of course it'll be the Pack's fault for not keeping her safe—from herself, from them, from the natural dangers of First Beach, from the whole damn world. Hell, Cullen would probably blame them all if she caught a cold from sitting in the rain.
Jacob waits one minute.
When the silence turns painful, Jacob hesitantly clears his throat and looks up at her. "Bells?"
She takes a deep, gasping breath at the sound of his voice, almost as if she's been holding it in. She scrubs at her face, wiping away tears that Jacob suspects began to fall almost immediately after he admitted the truth.
(It's not as if he's been deliberately keeping it from her, but still, he feels as if the last weight that's been holding him down has lifted from his shoulders. He's finally free.)
"Aw, Bells." He reaches out for her, but he lets his hand fall when she flinches. "C'mon, don't cry."
"I'm not," she lies, turning her head away. "Really. I'm . . . I'm glad. It's good, right? I'm happy for you."
He doesn't believe her. Especially not when she chokes on a sob and wraps her arms around herself, exactly the way she used to after the bloodsucker had left her. The bloodsucker who had broken her into pieces.
No. It's not the same. Because Jacob doesn't belong to Bella. He has never belonged to Bella, not even after spending months putting her back together. Not when she had crashed her motorbike and called him sort of beautiful. Not when he had saved her from the water and fought to keep her breathing. And certainly not when she'd run off to Italy after he had begged and begged her to stay with him. To choose him.
Maybe she never would have.
Either way, it doesn't matter. She won't have the choice now.
Jacob still doesn't know how he feels about that.
Bella keeps her gaze fixed on the ocean, squeezing herself, holding herself together. It is a long while before she speaks again, and when she does her voice is hoarse.