Chasing You: Chapter 4
"The existence of forgetfulness has never been proved:
We only know that some things do not come to mind when we want them to."
--Friedrich Nietzsche, 1844 - 1900
x x x
"Now hold on just one second, Bella. Tell me something."
You couldn't change things…
"You like me, right?"
"You know I do."
You were stupid to even think it was possible…
"Better than that joker puking his guts out in there?"
It was pointless to ever believe that she would…
"Better than any of the other guys you know?"
"Better than the girls, too."
Senseless to hope that she felt the same way…or rather, that she would eventually…
"But that's all."
And yet, even after she warned you…even after she tried to make the boundaries clear…
"That's okay, you know. As long as you like me the best. And you think I'm good-looking—sort of. I'm prepared to be annoyingly persistent."
"I'm not going to change."
You still fell in love with her…
"It's still the other one, isn't it?"
"Don't worry. You don't have to talk about it."
But now you wish she had…
"But don't get made at me for hanging around, okay? Because I'm not giving up. I've got loads of time."
"You shouldn't waste it on me."
Because maybe then you would've understood. Maybe you would have still been friends. Maybe…just maybe, you wouldn't be hurting so bad right now.
"It's what I want to do, as long as you still like to be with me."
"I can't imagine how I could not like being with you."
You feel something fall away under an angry fog…lost and unimportant, now.
You brace yourself for the impact of running into a brick wall—the texture of a vampires' skin—but you're oddly looking forward to it. Already her scent is assaulting your nostrils—that sweet, musky perfume that almost knocks the air clean out of your lungs…the scent that's screaming at your senses to attack and bite, bite, bite her already! because she's a filthy bloodsucker. She's the reason you have to exist. You have to kill her. Quickly.
But why do you feel so sad about having to attack this one?
An instant before you're supposed to hit the female, she's gone—rolling across through the wildflowers and out of your way, barely dodging your attack. All that remains under your steel claws are a few displaced strands of hair from her head. By the time you land and recover, she's already off the ground and on her feet, flitting off into the dark emerald blanket of the surrounding forest. You follow every one of her sharp movements as her figure pales in the moonlight. Her head snaps around to find you and your chest suddenly aches when you catch a glimpse of her ruby eyes. You try to ignore it.
Do you know her?
Soon enough though, you're right behind her; her chocolate brown hair flailing behind her in the strong wind created by her speed. It's just out ofyour reach, but then again, you aren't at top speed yet. The trees fly past you in a blackened, jaded blur and the fingers of moonlight filtering through the canopy seem to make the forest as alien and strange as the being you're chasing. Suddenly, your nose is flaring with the scent of another vampire coming up just behind you. Its approach is anxious, desperate, angry—knocking and scratching at the edges of trees. Not like a bloodsucker at all. You decide to stay on track and follow the female in front of you, but within seconds, you find that the vampire behind you has caught up, his image broken up and blurred through the think wall of ancient trees.
"Bella!" he screams, and in response she tilts her head slightly, and you catch her expression; one of close-to-pure fear. Your heart lurches painfully in your chest and you almost stop running completely. For some reason…you feel as though you don't want her to be scared of you. But that doesn't make any sense…
"Edward! What should I do?"
You're falling behind now, the aching in your chest making it hard to breathe. That name seems so familiar to you but everything is just one angry blur. You can feel something trying to push through in your consciousness—a memory, perhaps—that's on the edge and just out of reach…
"…Don't quit on me now, Jake. I can't take it."
What? Did she just say something?
"Just keeping running! I have an idea but for it to work, you can't afford to slow down. Understand?" His voice was firm, barely concealing the quivering panic. You shake your head violently to dispel those sympathetic thoughts. They don't care about what happens to you. They hate you. How could you feel so bad about killing a monster? That stupid female must have brainwashed you. You hate them. They're going to get away if you don't do something soon. You need to speed up. But before you can, a loud groaning fills your ears, then a snapping—each sound distinct in your sensitive ears—a tree's falling… just ahead, but it's not going to hit you…
Then something even louder makes your ears hurt like hell.
The sound of boulders colliding right in front of you, and your eyes snap shut from the shear force of the collision. Your heads pounding and your ears are ringing so painfully that you can't open your eyes. What if these bloodsuckers attack you? It was an ambush. It had to be. You have to get in and sneak up on them first before they kill you…but you can't even open your freakin' eyes! Your whole body's tense, on guard—every, single strand of your fur is standing on edge…just waiting for them to attack. But you can't make any sense of where you are. You've stopped. But nothing is happening. And after you open your eyes and everything stops blurring and dancing and your head stops pounding and screeching…you realize that they hadn't planned to attack you at all.
"I know you don't want to do this, Jacob. You have to calm down."
The female you were chasing has disappeared.
…But not without leaving a trail.
You scan over the scene before, waiting for your sight to sharpen again, and it only takes you a few seconds before coming to a plausible conclusion. The path of obliterated trees at your feet that lurch sharply off to the left were obviously destroyed by the sheer force of their momentum. Apparently, the other vampire that was trailing you had thrown himself through the trees to save the female—his female—and you don't understand why that thought makes you so angry.
"Are you…are you breaking up with me?"
This voice in your head may sound familiar, but it's not making any sense whatsoever.
Then you hear them.
It's not what you expected to hear, but it sounds like they're…they're fighting; the perfect opportunity to sneak up on them and attack. Your chest tightens again, but this time it just makes you angry. How the hell do you know these vile bloodsuckers?
"What's the worst part about being a…about being a werewolf?"
"The worst part is feeling like I'm out of control…like I shouldn't be around you."
They both sound incredibly mad. You skulk your way through the trees, closing in on there location. Their voices are clearer now and you listen to their argument.
"You're not going anywhere, Bella." The male says in a firm voice that clearly showed he was in no mood to argue.
"But I have to help him, Edward. He is my friend!" She counters just as strongly.
"You still think he's your friend? Even after he just tried to kill you?" His voice is bitingly sarcastic and even from here you know instantly that they're talking about you. "I refuse to let you go, Bella. I refuse to lose you."
"I'll be fine," Bella says slowly. "You won't lose me." She doesn't sound like she beliefs it though.
He can see that. You hear his teeth clamp together. "No."
"Edward…I'm not going to fight this with you."
"You're terrified of him, Bella. Admit it."
Why do you suddenly hope she'll say no…?
"Yes. I am," she sighs, "but he's my friend and I have to help him. I will help him." Why do you need help? Why do you have so many questions that are answered with words and memories that don't make sense? More importantly, even if you did need help—which you don't—why would you let a vampire help you? Why would she want to help you? What the hell is going on?
Why do you even care? Why haven't you attacked them yet? Why do you keep hesitating?
"Bella please…we have to get out of here before he finds us again. I acknowledge that he's your friend, but I don't think I'm in any shape to display restraint. Not after what he just tried to do to you. I don't want you to be ups—"
In less than a second you're out from behind the shrubs and lurching towards them. Lurching towards him.
Suddenly, Bella's there in front of him—again—arms splayed in defense, eyes burning a hole through the back of your skull. Her body tenses and you watch, full of trepidation, as she starts to move towards you; her expression flaring with determination.
She's going to kill you.
"Who's afraid of the big bad wolf?"
All you have to is open your eyes…but you're afraid of what you may find when you do open them. Has she attacked you yet? Are you dead? Your head feels cold; the icy feeling traveling all the way down to your neck. Does that mean you've lost your head? Was it snapped clear off your shoulders? But, you can still breathe…although you dare not fill your aching lungs, the capability is still there. You don't even twitch you're so nervous of the female vampire could do…that is, if she hasn't done anything even more horrible already and you just don't know it yet.
Yes…just open your eyes.
As your eyelashes tear themselves apart and wait for the light to seep through and sharpen your sight, you immediately realize that you actually have a bloodsucker touching you. The scent is over-powering and you can feel their in-humanly hard, icy skin against yours—even through your thick fur. The contact makes you involuntary shiver. Of course you begin to panic…but then your eyes adjust to the moonlight and you're incredibly confused by what you see.
The female looks like she's hugging you.
You arch your neck very slowly and find her fingers digging tenaciously into the fur above your ears, her stone-like arms wrapped in an un-breakable hold around your neck and her pale face hidden within the bristles of your chest. Her mate…Edward…seems just as surprised as you are. What's even weirder is that despite her freezing cold skin, you feel warm…you're actually really, really enjoying it.
"…The problem is that it means something different to you then it does to me," echoed the same familiar voice in his head.
"That's enough, Jacob." Her voice is muffled by her face in your hair. Your ears must be playing tricks on you, because you swear that she sounds like she's going to cry. She pulls her face out from your chest to stare up at you; the same eyes that once burned you just by looking at them were now filled with a placid kind of sadness.
"I know this whole thing is my fault, Jacob." She smiles a hard, frustrated smile. "It always is. Even as a vampire, I'm a danger magnet. But please, Jake…you can stop being so angry now. I've hurt you, a fact that I'm going to have to live with for all of eternity…"—out of the corner of your eye you see Edward's face twist in response to something she's said—"…but, this is the life I have chosen. I have no regrets and I'm happy. More than you could possibly imagine. And whilst your anger is justifiable, you can't blame anyone else for this whole mess but me. I made this choice. I nearly created a war. If you're going to hate someone for the rest of your existence, hate me."
'But I can't…'
The anger's slowly slipping away and as it does…a small flicker of recognition penetrates the angry fog of your thoughts.
'Bella…I've missed you so much.'
You remember her smile, her hand in yours, her laugh…her warmth…
But then you also recall the first time you lost her…
"Sorry," you had whispered to her. "Bye, Bells."
"You promised," she begged desperately. "Still friends, right?"
You shook your head slowly. "You know how hard I've tried to keep that promise, but…I can't see how I can keep trying. Not now…" It was very difficult to keep your bitter façade in place…and then, realizing that this was probably the last time you'd see her…the last time you would see her human, you feel the mask disappear completely. "Miss you," you mouthed, reaching out towards her.
"Me too," she echoed, her hand outstretched to meet yours, her eyes radiating the pain that made your chest heave.
But then she was stopped.
"It's okay," she whispered up at the vile bloodsucker holding her back from hugging you. It's obvious that she wants to.
Bella was completely relaxed by the thought touching you. You'd never hurt her. She knew that. She trusted you. But the vampire still didn't relent. "No, it's not," he said matter-of-factly, his expression unreadable, cold.
That made the anger flare again. "Let her go," you snarled, livid. "She wants to!" On the verge of losing it, you took a couple of steps towards him, anticipation for a fight suddenly coursing through you. It wouldn't take you long to deal away with him…
Edward pushed Bella behind him and turned to face you.
"Come on! Charlie's mad!" Bella was panicking, her voice trembling. You could see she was desperate to get her beloved leech-lover away from you. "Hurry!" She tugged on Edward's arm and he followed slowly, his eyes never leaving your face. You watched Bella and Edward leave with as dark a scowl as you could manage. As soon as they both disappeared behind the trees, your face crumpled in pain, finally free of the bitter mask you knew Bella hated. You had hurt her, but she'd almost killed you with her decision. You couldn't stay. You run back into the woods as fast as you can, ready to tell your Brothers everything…
Then there was the second time you lost her…
"You could've kept it a secret and just…disappeared. So why come to see me. I bet Edward doesn't want you here anymore than he wants you to—"
"FOR THE LAST TIME JACOB, NO-ONE TELLS ME WHAT TO DO WITH MY LIFE! EDWARD DOES NOT CONTROL IT! EDWARD DOESN'T EVEN KNOW I'M HERE!"
"What? Then why the hell are you here?!"
Bella closed her eyes and breathed deeply; you pushed the guilty feeling to one side. "To say goodbye," she said simply, with just the tiniest hint of a growl, and you softened your grasp so she could speak freely. "You are my best friend, after all." The words physically stung you—sending a shock right through your whole body. The sudden pain throbbing madly in your chest was making it hard to breathe…and so finally, in that split second, those words push to a decision you thought you'd never, ever consider.
You let her go.
She didn't make any move to run away; she stayed frozen in the street, watching you struggling to keep your heart in one piece. You're on your knees now; the will to stand has been taken away by the pain. You're at her mercy in the middle of this abandoned street and both of you were soaking wet. She gingerly placed a cool, shaky palm against your blazing cheek, a deep sadness resonating in her eyes. She leaned forward slowly—her entire fragile frame shivering with the cold—and pressed her lips lightly to your forehead, like a singeing ice burn against your boiling skin.
"Goodbye, Jacob. I'm…sorry. For everything. For hurting you, for…for leaving you, for leaving everyone." She sounded genuine—her voice broke twice. Not that it mattered.
She started to walk back to the house, hesitated, then turned and came back, kneeling down in front of you—tremors are violently wracking her body and her lips are a disturbing shade of blue. It takes her a few tries, but she eventually mimics your previous actions—placing her frosty palms against your hot cheeks and resting her forehead against yours. Her sudden proximity alarmed you, but you fought back the urge to grab her; your fists clenching painfully at your side. "J-Jacob…please…I know I have…no right, but can I…ask you to do something for me…no…two things, actually?" You didn't answer, but she continued anyway. "P-Please…look after Charlie, and…and, and I know I sound like a…a hypocrite, but p-please…just…move on with your life…don't let me hurt you anymore than I already have. Be someone else's sun; make them as happy as you made me…happier, even."
Again, she stood up, turned, and walked back to the house.
You didn't follow her. You didn't move. You phased right there, howling in the storm.
The final goodbye.
And then…the final revelation that you had indeed lost her forever; when you came upon her in the meadow. You had to fight yourself just to get up the strength to look at her—the reason you had attacked Bella in the first place…
"Edward didn't bite me…he kissed me."
The treaty was still standing…and you have broken it by openly attacking the vampires first.
"What are you doing to him you leech? Let go!"
"Jake, you okay buddy? What did she do? You look as if you've seen a ghost!"
"Jacob, snap out of it right now!"
"She hasn't done anything!"
The arguing voices snap you back to reality and when you look up, you can see your brothers standing right there, arguing fervently with each other…with Edward. Embry approaches you, and you watch the glint of anticipation in his eyes carefully. "Don't worry, Jake. I'll get her off you."
Edward snarls, but Embry just shook him off. "Calm down, lover-boy. I won't hurt her…yet."
Edward only growls louder, the sound ripping from his chest as he crouches in anticipation, fists clenched tightly at his sides.
Bella's knuckles instinctively tighten around the clumps of your fur; ready to fight. But, instead, you back away from Embry, growling at him in warning. You remember clearly now. She endangered her life to save your sanity and now, you'll do everything you can to protect her, too. You owe it to her. You still can't believe that you actually had tried to attack her…actually tried to kill her. You completely lost it and now you feel utterly ashamed, because you've broken yet another promise you made; more to yourself rather than her, but still…you'd promised that you would never lose your temper around her. Ever.
Embry gives you a confused look and behind him, the rest of your brothers stop arguing to watch what you're doing. "Jake, man, you too? What the hell is wrong with you? Are her arms wrapped so tight around your neck that she's cut off the oxygen to your brain? 'Cause you ain't thinking straight."
You only snarl louder in response and your friend's eyebrows knit together in irritation. "Come on, dude. I'm trying to help you out here," he says, taking another step forward. You immediately take a snap at him, baring your teeth, and he cringes back and sighs. "Fine. Whatever man. You wanna be a hero, don't let me stop you. But you're wasting your time protecting her. Why do you still let her get to you so much?"
"That's enough. Stop it now, Embry." It was Sam, calling in his usual authoritive tone.
"Hmph. He's the one who's lost it," he mumbled, stepping away.
Just at that moment, another unfamiliar wolf broke through the trees. This one was a starched, snowy white with a few displaced, odd black spots here and there. The most obvious one covered its entire right eye. The strong beams of moonlight reflecting off his fur made him seem even more intimidating. It surprised you when it looked straight at you with such a knowing gaze. It took awhile for recognition to sink in.
"Yes, it's Quil," Paul answered for you, a disgusted look on his face. "You've been so busy chasing your beloved vampire there that you weren't here to meet up with Quil for his first run."
"Bella!" Edward called, his voice seething with disgust. "We're leaving. Now." He begins to shove his way past Embry and the others, all eyes on him. He stops a few meters away from you, his eyes flickering warily from your face to her back.
"Alright," she says finally, sighing meekly. She lets go of your fur, and the warm feeling instantly vanishes, intensifying the pain in your chest. Edward makes a grab for her arm, pulling her away towards the forest. Sam steps in front of him, stopping him in his tracks. You take the opportunity to flee into the forest to phase back and put some clothes on. No doubt Sam will want to reassure them both about the newly enforced treaty. And you want to say goodbye to Bella properly this time.
You're back out in about three seconds, and Sam's still talking…Bella's still there. You release a breath you didn't realize you were holidng. She turns to see you when she sees you reappear, her eyes filling with relief as she smiles at you. "I thought you didn't want to say goodbye…which is understandable I suppose," she whispered. Edward's hand tightened around hers.
"Sorry," you mumbled, utterly ashamed, but she only shook her head. "S'okay. It's my fault." Her voice was bleak, broken. She knew what was coming. You had to fight really, really hard to keep your expression smooth.
"Bye, Isabella," you mouthed. Your voice wouldn't work—the giant lump that had formed in your throat made sure of that.
She beamed. "No, I'll find a way to see you again. I promise."
You laugh, but it only sounds broken, chocked. 'Still as stubborn as always…'
It's amazing, but you're not angry anymore…sort of. Even when you see Edward's hand clutched tightly to hers…even when she leans into his shoulder, smiling up at you. You wonder what it is. Is it because you now know Bella has always loved you, not in that way, the way you'd like, but that she's always cared about you? That you're still her friend? Is it because you've finally accepted the path she's taken in life, no matter how much you oppose it? You still hate Edward with a passion, but you still love Bella, and that seems to cancel your initial anger at him out, for the moment at least.
…Is it because you know she's happy, even when you won't be without her in your life. So much for not being angry, it bubbles lightly under your flesh because you remember Edward was the one who took her from your life…from her life, willing or not.
"If you turn another human—bite or not—we'll be onto you," Sam warned Edward in a low voice.
Edward didn't reply. He only nodded.
"Well, as much as I would love to stay here," Edward announced, voice dripping with sarcasm, "I believe it's time we left. Bella, shall we go home, now?" It wasn't really a question. He couldn't wait to get out of here.
Bella only nodded once before Edward pulled her towards the trees. She turned to look at you one last time with a brilliant smile. It was that which triggered the memory, Bella's sweet voice ringing as clear as day in your mind.
"I made a promise to myself, once," she started, snapping you out of your private revere. "That day when I had to say my first goodbye…the day Edward thanked you for saving me…"—her voice was thick with pain—"I promised myself that, before I had to say goodbye to you forever, I would see you truly smile. And until that day comes…I can't make myself truly leave. I can't let go."
You call on all of your happy memories of her, all the laughter and joy you shared with her, and poured it into your face, releasing a real, effortless grin for her as you watch her disappear behind the trees. The look you catch on her face makes you believe that she's going to cry.
Then she's gone. And you're still smiling, because you know that you'll see her again. It's just a matter of time now.
You've kept your promise, now you wait for her to keep hers.
'I'll find a way to see you again. I promise.'
You grin towards the forest. 'And I'll be looking forward to it.'