Teaching the Soul, Touching the Heart

A/N: Set six months after Edward and Bella's funeral. Happy reading!


Me: Skips along merrily, reciting the back page of Twilight

Random Passerby: Isn't that the back page of Twilight?

Me: Yes, yes it is! Keeps reciting

Random Passerby: Hey, kid, the back page of Twilight belongs to Stephenie Meyer, and you have no right to take away what rightfully belongs to her.

Me: Oh. I'm sorry. And third, I was unconditionally and ir-

Random Passerby: glares

Me: -revocably in love with him. There, I'm done. Happy?

Random Passerby: glares
Me: sigh Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse do not belong to me, but to Stephenie Meyer, who is a genius, unlike me. No amount of reciting or wishing will ever allow me access to the ownership of aforementioned novels or of characters or related insignia. There. Happy?

Random Passerby: No. Goodbye.

Me: Eh!

Bella. I can still hardly believe that she's gone. It's so impossible for my mind to encompass this. Bella was one of the only things that was real for me, substantial. If everything else in the world was not real, she was. If everyone else betrayed me, she would not. But she did, even though it doesn't seem like it.

She betrayed me when she left me for him. I shake the thought from my head; I promised myself the day of her funeral, hers and Edward's, that I would try my best to respect him. I know he loved her, with all his un-dead heart and soul, so I should be okay with that. She was my best friend; I'm obligated to protect her in every way. And maybe that's why I despise him so much. Edward. Because he took care of her when I didn't. Because she chose to love him even though I tried my hardest for her. But he loved her, and that was what mattered: that she was happy. And, every day, when I saw the smile in her face and the joy in her eyes, I knew she was.

I'm walking along First Beach, a mile away from my house where I live with Billy, my father, and now Charlie, Bella's dad. He was a little excessively distraught after she died, and so Billy offered at her funeral for him to come live with us. It's a good thing, really. I can cook much better than Charlie, which isn't saying much. When I cook, we have Ragu for dinner. (Billy always claims it's our 'super-secret-family recipe, passed down for generations', or something like that. Whenever he says this, I scoff bitterly. The only thing that's been passed down for generations is this hereditary mutation that causes the bearer to morph into a gigantic, shaggy, smelly dog. Thanks a lot, ancestors. I appreciate it.)

It's cloudy today, as usual, and the rain just reminds me of her. Everything does. The rain makes me want to cry again, like I did at the funeral. I bawled my eyes out, unable to contain myself. I felt really…pathetic when I looked over at the Cullens (or what was left of them) and saw them shed not a single tear. At first, I thought that they were cold, heartless monsters – Bella considered them family, and they weren't mourning! But they were mourning, as I soon discovered. They just showed it in a more…subtle way than I did. And, somehow, it was so much more intimate.

Their eyes were filled with a timeless pain, and I had to wrench my gaze away from them. It hurt too much, the knowledge that somebody loved her more than I did.

The rain soaks my hair and cut-off jeans, but I pay no heed. I'd like to drown. I'd like to throw myself into the ocean and let the waves wash me away, and take my pain away with it. I consider just that; I won't be much loss to the pack. We have a lot now, and more soon. They're reaching that awkward age of mid-teens, where all their limbs are too long for their already-tall bodies, and their muscles are thin and weak. They'll join us soon. Obviously, they don't need me.

'But somebody does.'

'What the?...' I think, spinning around on my too-big feet, stumbling and almost falling in the process. I dismiss the words spoken as if by the wind as just the wind. The weird thing, the spooky thing, is that the words spoken sound way too much like Bella for my liking.

As I turn back around, continuing on my invisible path along the beach back up the actual trail, I see something by the ocean. I blink, and stop dead in my tracks. My vision hadn't been tricking me, I realize, though most creatures aren't on this part of the beach – the sand is slanted so that when the tide comes in, and you're near the water, it's deep. So I am surprised to see any living creature out here.

I am even more surprised to see that the 'creature' is a young woman. Immediately, I am drawn to her, and I can't understand why. I just know that…that she is beautiful and perfect and wonderful. I thank my blessed werewolf eyesight, because it helps me to see her so much better than I would be able to if I were still human. She is a few inches about five feet, and I can't help but think how perfectly her head would tuck under my chin. Her hair is a deep auburn that borders on red, and it flows in waves about her shoulders. She is wearing tight-fitting jeans that hug her curves, and a thick cotton shirt of an off-white material adorns her torso. It is cut with an open loop in the front, exposing her neck and a good portion of her upper chest, but not low enough to be considered indecent except for in the strictest of schools. Her collar bones are prominent, and the way they hold the fabric of her shirt slightly up is oddly appealing. I observe all this in seconds, before I see something else.

She holds a thick book in her small, delicate hands, and has her nose almost pressed up against it. I wonder, at first, how she can see where she is going, what with her eyesight being completely obscured by the thin pages of the novel. And then I realize – she can't.

She is walking straight ahead, with a preciseness that I admire. Unfortunately, she is walking straight into the ocean. I start to call out to her, but quickly realize that she can't hear me over the roar of the tide. I jog towards her, frightened for her safety. Under normal circumstances, I would probably roll my eyes at the absurdity of it all – she literally has her nose buried in a book, and so out of reality that she doesn't notice the water furiously lapping around her ankles. Her jeans are growing more and more soaked. I sigh in frustration; she should have noticed by now! Must be a damn good book…

She is past ankle deep in the water now, and I try to run faster. God, how stupid can this girl get? I wince mentally; it is wrong to even think that. It hurts, thinking ill about her. And how much more it would hurt if she was hurt because I couldn't help her!

I nearly die as I see her suddenly disappear from my line of vision. Gasping as I run, for her, not for me, I scan the waters frantically. She's there, her body floating lightly on the shallow waves, carrying her farther and farther into the ocean with every passing second. I see her book lying on the beach a few feet out from the water, and a rock twisted from its original resting place. I conclude, logically, that this is what she must have tripped over. I am horrified. A fall into the Pacific Ocean would not be a pleasant one.

But right now that doesn't matter to me. The cause doesn't matter; what does is getting her out of that ocean alive. My feet steadily pound away at the sand. I am going as fast as I can go, and my clumsy awkwardness has left me. This is too important to trip during. This is the girl I love.

And I haven't even met her yet.

And you won't, I remind myself, gritting my teeth, if you don't hurry your sorry ass up and rescue her! So I run. Reaching the ocean, I slosh through as fast as I can possibly go, salt water splattering my bare chest and face. The cold is chilling, but I am used to it. As soon as the water touches my skin, it is gone. I smirk. It's one of the few advantages of being a werewolf. When I'm hungry and the stove's broken, I can cook an egg on my chest, no sweat.

I am waist deep in the murky waters of the Pacific by the time I reach her. I want to make sure she is okay, to pull her from her unconsciousness now, but I know I need to wait until I get to shore. Lifting her up, I drape her across my broad shoulders and head faster, if possible, back towards short. The nonexistent weight of her fragile body frighten me. I worry that she is gravely hurt; I have heard that you weigh less when you die. Something about loosened muscles or something. I am on shore again, and I continue running. Faster than I would ever have thought possible.

Her breathing is short and uneven, coming in strangled gasps. I grimace – I didn't pay much attention during our CPR unit at the reservation school, but I learned one thing: If you're not sure you know it, don't even try. You'll end up hurting the subject more. And hurting this girl is the last thing I want to do. As her heartbeat slows, I make up my mind. I'm going to do everything I can to save this girl, because I know that if she dies, a part of me dies, too. My soul. My heart. My reason for living.

I place her on the wet sand carefully, gently brushing strands of soaking wet hair from her soft, pale face.

I hesitate momentarily, wanting so badly to merely crouch down in the sand next to her, to hold her face in my hands and comfort her, unconscious as she is. I want to never let anything touch her or hurt her again. I can't do this, however, because she is freezing. Every second spent out here is costing. I check to make sure she is still breathing. My gaze trails to her chest, which continues in its hectic wheezing pattern. Her lips are slightly parted, as if drawing her last breath, like girls do in the movies before falling back on their bedcovers. Dead. I shudder at the thought, and I am surprised as I keep shaking; I take a deep breath to calm myself. She isn't going to die.

My eyes harden. I won't let her. I jog several feet away and change. The morph isn't as painful or terrifying as the first time; this time, I know what is happening to me. But there is that split second of horror, that moment when I am terrified that by letting go, I am letting go of humanity. I fear, in that brief instance, that I will lose myself completely to the wolf spirit inside of me.

The change is a bittersweet one. It always is. I bend down my shaggy head and take the back of her shirt carefully in my teeth, hoping to God that I don't scratch her frail human self. My teeth rip halfway through the shirt, and, ashamed, I turn my head and carefully place her on my back. I snag my discarded jeans, stare at her for a long moment, and then break into a run.

I hear Sam's voice in my head, and I begin the fight to keep his thoughts from welding into my own.

Jacob. You are mourning her again. At first, I am confused. Mourning? Mourning who? My love, my life, my soul…she isn't dead. I am saving her from that very fate. At this, Sam's thoughts grow worried.

Bella. I nearly collapse, faltering in my previously easy lope across the beach, now entering the forest. Bella, I hear, and they are my own thoughts now. I shake my head, ridding myself of her name. Yes. I had loved her. I do love her, but she belongs to the bl- no. She belongs to Edward, who died a human. They both did. Bella wasn't for me. I think of the girl on my back. She is.

I quicken my pace, desperate to keep her safe. Sam, I growl in my head.

Yes, Jacob? He is wondering who the girl is, trying not to hope – for my sake – for the best.

She was drowning. I've imprinted. On her. Sam, I'm scared that she's dying. What if she's dying. Please, Sam, get help, I plead. Get the pack and come to Billy's. I can tell that he is running now, too. I see the forest in his mind, and I hear him call to Embry and Quil and the rest of the boys, the rest of my family. His mind is everywhere at once.

We will bring blankets. I will bring Emily. She makes the best chicken noodle soup. Much better than Campbell's. He intends for me to smile, but I can't. Not when she's hurt. Not when she's in danger.

Sam's thoughts again disturb me from my worries. Jacob. My brother. She will be fine. The pack is with you. She will be okay.

Thanks. The word is abrupt and harsh, and I regret it immediately.

No, thinks Sam forcefully. Don't apologize. I understand. A picture of Emily, scarred and weak and bloody, flashes in his mind. Then his thoughts disappear. He has reached my house.

Thirty seconds, I think, even though Sam has left the pack mind, even though it is just me now. I break through the concealment of the dense forest, and Embry and Quil (both in their human forms) run out to greet me. Embry reaches up to take her from my back, and I instinctively tense up and growl. His eyes grow wide, and he jumps away, hands in the air. Mollified by his surprise, I crouch down and allow him and Quil to lift her off.

I feel different now that I have lost contact with her. I feel as if a part of me ahs been wrenched away. Quickly, I phase back, pulling my jeans on in almost the same motion. I jog the few steps up to where Embry carries her, and he passes her limp form over to me. "Here, Jake," he says as I wrapped my arms around her body. I rush back to the house. Sam opens the door for me, and I push past him, not looking at him for acknowledgement of his own. Not caring.

"Oh, my!" comes Emily's gasp from the kitchen. I set the girl down on the couch. Emily rushes in to help me arrange the blankets, tucking in corners. I do this delicately, gently; I don't want her to be cold. I put a hand to her forehead, checking for temperature. Emily makes an exasperated sound from behind me. "Really, Jacob," she admonishes. "You wouldn't be able to tell if she had a temperature, considering yours is…what, 109 now?" I grimace. True, very true. "Move, Jacob," she prods.

"Fine." I reluctantly comply. I move, and it rips my heart out. Emily kneels beside the ratty couch and strokes back the hair from the girl's face.

"Hello," says Emily quietly, her voice soft and comforting. "I'm Emily. Please wake up soon. After we're sure you're okay and comfortable, you can get some well- deserved rest." Emily sits back on her heels, expecting a response, a movement, a sign of the girl's life other than the sporadic heaves of her chest. Emily's brow furrows. "Oh, dear," she murmurs. A gentle, careful hand rests itself on her forehead.

I squirm. "What, Emily?" I whisper. "What can I do to help her?" Everyone turns to stare at me; the pack in sympathy and pain, Emily in confusion.

"Jacob," she starts, "you don't even know this girl, why do you think you need to help her?" Her words, however innocent, hurt me. I recoil, as if poked with a hot poker.

"Because." I draw in a shaky breath. "I need her. I need to be with her, to know her, to look out for her. To be her…her everything. Because she is mine." Normally, the guys would laugh. They would collapse on each other in fits of messed up guffaws and laugh their guts out. But this time, they don't. This time, they solemnly look on, their eyes offering prayers and support and care. They understand. They've all felt and experienced the imprint, even if it hasn't happened to them.

It takes a moment, but Emily's eyes suddenly widen. "Oh," she whispers. "Oh."

I panic. "What's wrong, Emily? What's wrong?" I take a step forward, placing a hand on her shoulder. Sam knocks my hand away from her, the apology already in his eyes. I shove my hand in my pocket. I know he is right; when I'm acting like this, worried as I am, I can't be near someone who I could hurt.

"Nothing's wrong, other than the obvious." She smiles briefly at me, but it contains more worry than anything else. I look carefully at the girl, assessing her. Seeing if anything is freakishly messed up. Her head's attached, her limbs bending the right way…

Then there is silence as I realize she has stopped breathing altogether.

"Jacob," Emily says quietly, not even turning to look at me. "She may need CPR." My fists clench…she is in danger, then. Of dying. "Do you want me to?..." My mind isn't really working.

After a few seconds, I say, "Yes. Yes, Emily. Please." She places a comforting hand on my shoulder. I ignore it. I am unwilling to accept comfort. It's not that I don't need it. I don't deserve it. I am shaken from my thoughts as Emily rolls the girl into a strange position: one leg curled up, slightly tilted to her side. Emily begins CPR, lowering her mouth to the girl's. Two strong breaths, out. Nothing. Hands in an odd fist, against the center of the chest. Push, push, push, push… I hold my breath. This must work. It has to work. I need it to work. I need her to live.

Push, push, push. Emily stops, bends down. Two strong breaths out. One, two. No difference. She returns to pushing. Push, push. I watch anxiously, my mind in anguish. Finally, after what seems like forever, Emily sits back, sighing.

My eyes shift over to the girl, as if by instinct, hopeful. But there is nothing – no movement, no breathing. Just a faint heartbeat.

I gasp out in pain – no, no, no! Not her! Not when I could be happy, finally. I fall to my knees beside her, taking her beautiful face in my large, warm hands. "No," I whisper, stroking the damp hair out of her face. "Please, no." No response; I feel so hurt, so angry, so terribly sad. It's awful. I think again, briefly, of the Cullens, and how they acted at Bella's funeral. How I acted. I realize now that I didn't love her – not that way, not like they did. Not enough. But this girl…I love her. I close my eyes shut, blinking away the tears that have brimmed.

This was true pain.

I stroke her hair, gently touch her shoulder, smooth out her shirt. I pull the pillow so that it is more under her head, and tug the blankets to that they cover her almost completely.

There is silence behind me. Silence from my pack, my family. I thank them in my head. I need this moment to be with her. I gaze at her face, her lightly tanned complexion contrasting the pale walls around her. Her mouth is slightly open, her full strawberry lips chapped with the salt of the ocean. Her nose curves slightly upward, and her cheekbones are angular and soft at the same time. Her skin is smooth, her eyebrows delicate. Her lashes are a deep black. She wears the tiniest frown on her face, as if unhappy with the way things turned out.

I would be, too, I think, if I had drowned in the ocean while reading a book. Place the palm of my hand against her neck, where the blood of her veins pumps gently, rhythmically. Too slow. Unintentionally, my hand increases its pressure on her throat. I know it's wrong, and Sam steps forward to stop me, but I release the pressure before he reaches me. As soon as my hand is no longer in contact with her neck, a great, gasping, drawn out breath is taken.

The girl is straining for air, grasping frantically for the oxygen she has not breathed for several minutes now. She coughs up salt water, even some seaweed, and Emily hastens to gather up dry towels. A wave of joy rushes throughout me, but it is quickly stayed as I realize that I need to help. I take a towel from Emily, gently tucking it under her chin. "It's all right," I murmur as her previously sporadic breathing evens out. "You're safe now, it's all right. Everything is all right." I keep up my mantra; the sound of my voice seems to sooth her.

After what seems like forever, the girl is finished sicking up. I take the previously white towel and use the dry part to wipe her mouth. I wipe my own hands on this, then take a clean towel from Emily to dry her face. I throw the towel to the floor, turning back to the girl.

She stares at me, eyes wide, and sweat caused her auburn hair to stick to her forehead. I don't know what I expect her to say. "Thank you", perhaps, or "where am I?" But I certainly didn't expect what she does say.

"I'm sorry," she says, and her eyes fill with tears. I don't respond; I can't. Her voice has enthralled me. It is musical, soft, silvery. It makes me feel like summer and rainbows and flowers and fairies. I want to lose myself in her voice.

Instead, I remain firmly in reality. I frown. "Sorry?" I ask, confused. "Why are you sorry?" She looks down, her hair in her face, her thick lashes casting shadows on her cheekbones.

"Because I…because you've gone to all this trouble to…and I-"I take her face in my hands. She stops abruptly, her cheeks flushing. I snicker in my head – she blushes easily, too. The boys will have fun teasing her.

"No," I admonish her firmly. "You shouldn't be sorry. I saw you drowning in the ocean, so I ran you p here to my place. Emily took care of you, and now you're awake." If anything, she blushes even more furiously at this. "What?" I say, unsure of what I have done to upset her.

"Nothing," she replies quickly. I raise my eyebrow at her skeptically. "Well,' she amends," I was…did you see…what happened? How I…" She trails off.

I finish for her. "How you ended up in the ocean?" I take my hand from her hair and fold it in my lap, smiling at her. "Yes, I did." She turns over, burying her face in the pillows. The dark blue blanket slips off of her hip. I take it carefully and throw it back over her.

She twitches. The pack chooses that moment to leave, and Emily follows wordlessly.

After a moment of silence, I say, "It's all right, you know, to like books."

Her head comes off the pillows suddenly, and now she is glaring at me angrily. I am startled, and so flinch back. I swear I see the tiniest of smiles grace her pallid face, but if it is real, it quickly disappears. "I don't need your permission to like books," she growls, on the defensive.

"I didn't mean to say that you needed…" I correct myself awkwardly. "That you had to…" I give up. "I'm sorry." I hang my head shamefully.

"Don't be. I know I'm a nerd." She grins, and she is beautiful.

"No, you're not." I grin back. "Embry is." A strangled yelp comes from outside the front door, followed by the sound of the door banging open.

Embry comes to stand in front of me, hands curled into fists at his sides. The rest of the pack follow behind, faces expectant. They want something good. Well, they're going to get it.

"Yeah, but it's basically a secret. He finds his nerdiness embarrassing. You see, he actually knows things like the first fifty digits of pi and the quadratic formula and stuff." I shake my head sadly. "Today is March 14th. He actually brought a-"

"Well, it was pi day!" Embry interrupts. I snicker to myself – he is so easy to goad. "You know, it would be sad to miss an opportunity like that."

The girl looks confused "Pie day?" she mumbles to herself.

"Yeah!" says Embry excitedly. "March 14th, 3/14, 3.14…and I brought one in and it was really good. Everybody liked it, Jake, you're just being an ass," he finishes, growling, then swiftly exits the room in an angry huff.

"What did he bring in?" she wonders.

I smile wider. "Pie."

She lifts an eyebrow. "As in…apple pie kind of pie?"

Umm…what was it? "No. As in cherry pie kind of pie."

She rolls her eyes. "Yeah, he's a nerd." Then she adds, as an afterthought, "But the quadratic formula is really cool. Negative b plus or minus the square root of b squared minus four times a times c, the quantity of which is divided by two times a."

I stare at her. "You are a nerd."

"Thanks!" she says flippantly. "So, Jake…who exactly are you? All I know is that you are Jake and the pie-guy is Embry. And she's Emily," she finishes, pointing at Emily.

Okay, so I've always suspected it, and Embry and Quil have always assured me that I am, but now I am sure of it: I am an idiot. I have been talking to her, babbling about things that she can't care about, when all she wants to know is what is happening, who we are.

She bites her lip, worried and quiet. Yeah, I'm stupid. I never want to see that look on her face again, never want to see the hint off fear in the crease of her brow. She doesn't deserve to worry.

"Yeah," I say brilliantly. "I'm Jacob Black, seventeen year's old. We're a my Dad Billy's place. You're in La Push, on Quileute reservation land. We're all Quileute, and we're kinda like one big family.

"That's Quil, he's an idiot and a softie, even though he doesn't look it-" Quil growls "-or sound it." I grin. "Of course, pie-boy is Embry, and he's a sensitive nerd at heart. Quil and Embry are my age." I point to Paul. "That's Paul, and he's got issues. Mental issues." Paul glares at me. I turn to the girl, who stares at me with intense eyes that I can't seem to look away from. "Nah, I'm kidding. Paul's all right, but be warned." My tone darkens, and I continue more seriously at a stage whisper. "Don't ever eat his food. He'll kill you." Paul barks out a laugh, and I relax, relieved that I hadn't said anything to make him mad. I point to Sam, who is standing in the corner behind Emily, rubbing circles lovingly into her shoulder blades.

"That's Sam," I say, and I can tell that the girl notices the change in my tone of voice: respectful, reverent. "He's kinda like…the group leader. He keeps ug guys in check, but he's a ton of fun. We mess around, but we're not bad guys." I break off, willing her to trust me, even though she doesn't understand all that the pack history entails. "And, of course, Emily." I smirk ruefully. "The mother of the group."

Emily smiles. "Maybe someday."

Sam takes her in his arms. "Someday soon," he whispers, and kisses her scarred cheek softly. I turn away, but not before I see Emily shiver with pleasure.

I turn back to the girl expectantly. She is quiet for a moment. Then she speaks.

"My name is Wendy. Sholberg. Wendy Sholberg. I'm from West Virginia." She tries to sit up, struggling to get her arms free of the blankets that surround her. I reach over and pull the blankets off her shoulders. She nods her thanks, taking a breath.

"My parents are going through divorce." I growl, thinking it is imperceptible, but she looks at me, startled. She continues, fiddling with the edge of the blanket nervously. "I mean, they're great parents, but every kid gets annoyed with their parents, right? Mom and Dad…well, they haven't been doing so great. Dad gets a little…and so Mom brought me out here to Washington. We're debating on getting a house out here or in the northern part of Oregon."

I wonder what she meant by 'a little'. 'Dad gets a little…'

"Hey, Wendy?" I interrupt as she opens her mouth to continue.


"What do you mean…your dad gets a little…A little what?" I am concerned. No, more than that; scared. Scared for her. If she was implying what I thought she was…

She looks down at her hands, lashes casting a dark shadow along her cheekbones. "He's…" Her breath hitches in her throat, something I shouldn't be able to hear. "He's gotten…mad…lately." Wendy unconsciously touches her side, wincing a little at the slight pressure.

My eyes narrow in anger. "He's hurt you," I state flatly, and I can barely contain the sudden rage that courses through me.

Her voice, if anything, is quieter as she continues. "Yes. He…he would get mad at Mom, saying that she wasn't good enough, and he shouldn't have married her when he got her pregnant with me. That I wasn't…worth their marriage and…" – my hand grips her shoulder – "and that he'd like us to die and go to hell." She says this surprisingly calmly; I begin to shake, I can't help myself. I squeeze my eyes shut, willing the anger away.

Unexpectedly, she laughs. The sound is bitter, if beautiful. Cutting. Harsh. Deadened. "I reckon hell is a lot nicer a place than with him." I stop shaking. I'm no longer enraged; I am frightened. Frightened at the way this conversation has gone – her, wishing for death.

"Wendy," I start, but she cuts me off.

"No, it's okay, Jacob. I'm past that, now. I'm safe. My mom's safe. I'll heal. So will she; it'll all be okay." I look at her dubiously, and her eyes widen. After a moment, she casually rolls her eyes. "Jacob, I'm not suicidal. Now that we've left him, I'm better."

Better. If this is better, the pain that was in her eyes, the fright that was tangible in her voice…I don't want to know what she had been like when she was in danger. I don't want to know what she looked like when she was being hurt. No; I know I wouldn't be able to handle it. I can barely handle this.

I finally work up the courage, the strength, to ask, "How bad did he…did it get?" My throat catches, and I mentally berate myself. You sound scared, kid, get it together.

She frowns into space thoughtfully. "It never got too out of hand; the worst time landed me in the hospital for a week." Upon seeing my horrified expression, she elaborated: "He broke several of my ribs." I was still in shock. This girl doesn't deserve anything like that, any pain at all. She is too kind, selfless, beautiful, playful, angelic…

"But why," I whisper, and I know that I look as tormented as I sound.

"Because I was an easy target. My mom and I are built like each other – small and weak, on the outside, at least." She grins suddenly. "On the inside, however, we are vicious little creatures, I assure you." I choke back a snort.

"Yeah, snappy little vipers, I'm sure." I laugh, and I am amazed at how comfortable I am around her.

There is silence, and she slowly sinks back into her protective, impenetrable shell. She is visibly saddened.

And then a fierce light comes into her eyes. She juts her chin out, almost insolently. "But I can take care of myself. Me and my mom…"She bites her lip, the light in her eye dying a bit. I can take care of my mom; we'll be fine. We don't need anybody, now." Her posture dares me to argue, but I can see the tears gathering in her eyes.

I take her chin, pushing her hair behind her ear with my hand. I lean in close. "But you want someone," I say, and I hope it's true. I hope she doesn't want to cut herself out from life, avoid everyone who can offer assistance or comfort. Avoid me. "You want someone as a friend, don't you?"

She gazes at me appraisingly. "Yes," she says softly, "but I want someone, who will be my friend, be ready to be whatever I need them to be." She looks away from me, glancing out the window. Avoiding eye contact. "Someone who will love me for me. Someone who will never leave me." Her voice breaks on the last words, and my heart nearly breaks along with them.

"That," I say, sliding on the couch next to her and taking her in my arms, "I can do." She looks surprised at the sudden contact, but settles into my arms soon enough.

She doesn't understand what this means, not entirely. But I do know one thing. Soul mates are destined to be together, and there's nothing that can break them apart.

I know that, with whatever is ahead of us, we will always be together.

Because that's what a soul mate is: the one person that can reach past your hard outer core, your thick fur, or your granite skin. The one person who can make you see, make you feel. The one person who can teach your heart to love like no other, can touch your soul like you could never imagine.

I look down at Wendy, cuddled into my arms, smiling peacefully. A strange warmth fills my heart. I know that, like Bella and Edward, I have finally found the person who I will love for all of eternity.

A/N: Please note that I just had to give Jacob a happy ending…I really like Jake, and he wasn't faced with the conflicts Bella and Edward were.

There WILL be a sequel to this, in all likelihood, but connected more to the Cullens.

Here's the summary:

Bella and Edward are gone. Deceased. In heaven. The Cullens' grief is beyond words – but a visit from the Volturi to check on the now-dead Bella Cullen pushes them over the edge. The story of life, love, passion, and how there is no boundary where there is love.

Um…I love you all very much…so…

Me: Do you love me, reviewers?
You: Um…s-sure…

Me: How MUCH do you love me, reviewers?

You: Um…I…I guess I'll…


You: …Oh my goodness. Another Alice…

Please, guys, give me an opinion here. Opinions are good.

Before you run away and review (HINT HINT), I have a challenge for you. The first person to figure out the basics (very basics) of what happens when the Volturi come in the next installment will be recognized. Take a guess. Love, Jojo