AN: if I owned the series by Mrs. Meyer I wouldn't have had to label this as fan-fiction in the first place…Thanks once again to OcherMe the most wonderful beta reader ever. See the AN at the bottom for more information about this work.

Rearward Blow

He put his head in his paws and breathed out a long sigh. There didn't seem much to worry about out here, seeing as it was, for all intensive purposes, the middle of nowhere. In fact the only thing out here to worry about was himself; which is exactly what he had been trying to avoid all these miles. Still he couldn't seem to care as much as before. Maybe the distance really was helping. Or maybe he was just too tired to care anymore.

In the beginning of all this he never would have believed it was possible, but his paws ached and the muscles beneath his russet fur were actually stiff and almost too heavy to be worth moving. But then again, his heart ached too, to the point there wasn't even a word for it, ached hardly seemed comparable to what he was suffering, and so did his head from even trying to think of the right word for it. Hell, everything hurt. And there was a lot he believed now that he didn't in the beginning of all this, whether he acknowledged it or not.

The physical pain was just cursory to the state of his ravaged heart. There was no real differentiation unless he concentrated, which was hardly worth the effort. He was just one big lump of pain and that was the end of it; the end of a lot of things. He couldn't seem to focus either, thoughts skittered here and there in a pointless attempt to avoid what seemed to be the only thing that mattered: Bella. Bella. Bella. Bella. Bella. Bella. And just like that, it flooded out. Three days work of denial and memories flashed before his eyes, so real he could almost smell them, hear them, reach out and touch them.

So real he could almost reach out and change them.

Almost.

Perhaps.

Once upon a time…

Each memory hung for long moments; as stark and vivid as he felt the side effects of them now in the mountainous and barren country he had imposed upon himself as exile.

That hatefully beautiful voice in the meadow, regretful, emotional in ways it should never have been, not when it belonged to him who was as cold as the snow around them.

"She wants to talk to you Jacob."

"Why do you care?" he snarled back internally.

"I care because I love her." came the bloodsucker's cool response.

"Love her enough to kill her?"

"You already know the answer to that." Edward stated calmly. "Now, are you going to calm down enough for me to explain, or are you just going to keep hurling bitter remarks?"

He was right, damn him. This anger wasn't helping. It was making it harder to concentrate on what the leech was saying. He didn't just want an explanation, he needed it. He needed grounding for this staggering sense of betrayal that, somehow, he had never even dreamed was coming. How could she?

"Because I asked her to." Edward gave a soft laugh. "I begged her to." Jacob turned to face his foe turned temporary ally and found him leaned back casually against a tree, only a slight tension in his stance belying his wariness. The leech took a deep breath and said quickly, "What was said in the tent was my doing only. She—cares for you and would like a chance to explain things for herself. I would ask that you not punish her for something that I started. Will you not give her another chance, just to hear her out, if not for her sake, then your own? There's not much time, the battle will be starting soon. I'm certain you are curious for an explanation, but it is not mine to give."

"I'm positively dying for one." he sneered humorlessly back. Guilt trips, distractions, reverse physiology, two could play that game…

The kiss was angrier than he would have liked, but he couldn't help it. The pain still simmered in him, demanding he do something. So he gave into instinct and fought. He fought against her to overcome the brand of ice that possessed her to the point of blindness. He had to make her see. Despite all of that, it was—incredible. Electrifying. When she had responded, the moment when he had thought she had truly returned his love… it had become all the hotter, all the sweeter, all the more binding. Of course he hadn't seen then that it had bound her to the fate opposite of what he had hoped for…

As it turned out, lessons of the same merit came in many forms. The lesson of "love makes us do stupid things" apparently hadn't been lost on his karma cycle agenda for that day. It had all seemed just too perfect after the stolen kiss in the clearing with Bella. He should have something would have to go wrong. If good things came in threes, why not bad things too? And who better to start things off but the crown and glory of perfection herself: Leah.

"This one is mine." The thought blazed through their connection, her eyes locked on the lone new-born that had thus far been hidden from them.

"Don't you idiot!" he snarled. "You can't handle it all by yourself."

"If Seth can do it, I sure as hell can too." She snapped back, "I'm not some helpless cur you boys can coddle, Jacob. I have the same blood flowing in my veins as you." Which constituted stupid, reckless and impatient to a fault sometimes, but he couldn't just let her get hurt. As much as he couldn't stand her, Leah was his pack mate, his sister, and Sue had been through enough. Sam had been through enough, he carried a hell of a lot of guilt for things he could never have stopped; he didn't need it added to just because the source of that guilt had found a shiny, new, and conveniently dangerous outlet for herself. So, like she had always accused him of, he had gotten in the way. It hurt. A lot.

But it was nothing compared to the conversation, or the letter afterwards…when he had finally woken up. He had told the blood-sucker in the tent that he saw that he loved her in his own way. But that was something of a lie really. She had told him over and over that he wasn't manipulating her. But he hadn't believed it. She had brought the truth gently to him, like a lost child; he hadn't known to take its hand. But when that letter came, even after the war was won, the last the last shard of his pitiful mirror of delusion had broken off and shattered. Edward's love for her was as real as his own, as real as anything conceivable. He had given everything he could, it wasn't enough, and he was forced to acknowledge his ultimate defeat in the form of a few sentences. 'I promise I will take care of her, Jacob. Thank you--for her—for everything.' Yet even as what was left of his heart shredded into pieces, even as it flinched from the idea, a very small part of him respected Edward for it and wanted to accept the choice that had been offered. But was the rest of him ready for it…?

Then hate me, if thou wilt, if ever, now.

Now, while the world has bent my deeds to cross, join with the spite of fortune, make me bow and do not drop in for an after-loss.

Ah, do not, when my heat has 'scaped this sorrow, come in reward of a conquered woe; give not a windy night, a rainy marrow, to linger out a purposed overthrow.

If thou wilt leave me, do not leave me last, when other petty griefs have done their spite.

But in the onset come, so shall I taste, at first, the very worst of fortune's might; and other strains of woe, which now seem woe, compared with loss of thee, will not seem so.

He stood up slowly, stretching individual muscles, as if for the first time, feeling the blood begin to stir and quicken. He turned back toward the many miles in which his heart lay strewn, watching the slow gathering of cloud above the crown of the mountains, its iron certainty of a coming storm. 'Time heals all wounds' they said. Things happened and they came and went, just like clouds and sunshine, earth and moon, meteors and stars… Maybe, when the storm passed, he could go back and pick up the pieces. They couldn't possibly get any smaller after all, and there was a curious sort of comfort in that fact. The choice was made. He wasn't yet sure what his reaction would entail yet. But it was her choice to make. What would come, would come, the worst was over…forever.

AN: the poem that forms the basis of this piece was something I discovered while undergoing the hideous torture known as an AP practice exam shudders The first time I read it I liked it. It was bitter sweet and sad. The second time was after I read Eclipse and it just screamed "JACOB!" I don't think this poem has a name or even a verified author the only thing I can say for certain was that it was printed in a newspaper to a friend of the writer sometime around 1609. Obviously then this poem does not belong to me since last time I looked in a mirror I did not have yellow or red eyes. For those of you looking for the second chapter of Power Plays I ask most humbly for your patience while I battle with a most stubborn writers block. Thanks for reading it's not much to do it, but it would mean a lot if you would review it.