A/n: A one-shot borne from the totally out-there remark: "Oh please! If Bella and Jacob did hook up and get married and blah, Jacob would just end up imprinting on their daughter because he's one karma-ly challenged dude."
Written by: Ria & a smidgen of help from Rio
Bella is 23 & Jacob 22, of course.
Oh God. Please no. Not her. No, God, not her.
As exhausted as she was, Bella refused to sleep. Ever the stubborn woman, that Bella. She just wanted to coo into her daughter's face again and again, cherishing the tiny bundle. "She's beautiful, it's she, Jake?" Bella's eyes were filled to the brim with tears as she took in the sight before her. A tiny face wrapped in blankets, with two tanned arms reaching upwards, towards Bella.
"Oh, bless her, she knows I'm her mother! My daughter… Oh Jake, we have a beautiful little girl? Do you realize that? We are parents!" It was the third time in the past few minutes she had said this. Clearly, she couldn't yet wrap her mind around it. Neither could I, for that matter. But for different reasons.
I forced the grimace on my face away, trying valiantly to smile as proudly as I did before my eyes had locked on my daughter. The most important person in the world to me. "I can't believe it either. She's an angel, Bells. Just like her mother." Yes, her beautiful mother. Bella was still as stunning as she had been the day we were married. The day I promised to love her forevermore, to never leave her, and to be by her side until our lives were to end. And I had meant every one of those words. In fact, I knew I still did. How could I not? My feelings for her would never change, could never change. Never.
Bella wiggled her finger about, giggling when tiny, tan fingers wrapped around it tightly. "What a strong grip. And what beautiful, large brown eyes she has. Beautiful. It's the only way to describe her, huh, Jake?"
My throat tightened. "Yes," I answered, my voice near a whisper. "She is very beautiful. I've… never seen anything as beautiful as her." Ashamed, I turned my head away.
In that instant, I hated the girl. The poor, defenseless child who had unknowingly become my imprintee. My world. My everything. Yes, I truly did hate my own daughter. Though I knew it was by no fault of her own, I hated that she had to destroy the peace and happiness I had known with my wife. My Bella. I hated that I had to love her. I hated it oh-so very much.
And, rivaling the hatred, there was the guilt. Towards them both. The two women I loved - and one not even yet a day old. Why? Why did fate have to be so frickin' cruel? Was I just not meant to be happy? Was Bella just not meant to be happy. Was my daughter not meant to be happy either? For none of us would be. I would have to leave the woman whom I had been happily married to for 2 years and do it knowing I would be killing her. Bella would have to live with the disgust of her husband imprinting on their daughter, a being who shared his own bloodline, and then the pain of losing both beings she cared so much about. And what of the baby? I would always have to be near her, her mother having to leave from the pain this would cause her, and then what? Tell me, oh cruel powers that be, ones that sent this fate upon me! Would she be forced to marry her own father? Oh God…
Bella, blissfully ignorant of the tormented inner working of my mind, continued to giggle and coo with her child. Eventually, the child started to return with squealing sounds of her own. It was a heart-wrenching scene; I wanted to vomit.
"Such a gorgeous smile! Jake, you may want to invest in one of Charlie's guns; this little beauty is going to be a heart breaker!"
Didn't I know it. Heart breaker? She was already a home wrecker.
I had to try to reason with God again, fruitless, as I knew it would be. So, I pleaded silently to myself. When I look at her again, please, let my feelings just be that of a father. A doting father. An overprotective father. A good father. Not one who would leave his child's mother for his unexplainable fascination with his own daughter. So, with my last bit of hope riding on it, I turned my body again, this time facing the bundle directly.
It happened again. The whole world seemed to be pulsating, shifting before my eyes. And then suddenly, there was no world. I couldn't see the off-white hospital room anymore with the peeling wall plaster. I couldn't see the beeping heart monitor, the green line jumping in pace with my wife's heart. And I couldn't even see my wife, as pale as the moon in the pastel pink hospital gown and smiling as always. No, all there was, all there would ever be, was that tanned child who was snaked around my heart and constricting it. Her every breath gave me reason for living. Her every heartbeat gave my strength. I was utterly and completely at her mercy, for I no longer decided what was important to me; only she did.
And I so desperately wanted to continue going against my nature, to go on hating that girl that would rip my world apart. Only… I simply couldn't. It was a paradox. To hate the only being who you knew you would always love, no matter what. And it was frightening; for I used to say that being would always and only be my Bella. She alone was my life, in spirit and marriage. Was.
Again, I was begging for the answer to my "why" question. Was this whole thing truly brought upon myself? Had I done something to cause the unhappiness of those I loved? Indeed, what could be horrible enough to warrant the losing of their precious wife and daughter in the same moment? Nothing. Nothing could compare to this.
Still, I couldn't help but to think back to near 4 years ago. I had only came to be everything I currently was in that one year, in that one month, on that one day. That day that changed my whole life. Because at that time, I had hurt someone. Deeply, I had hurt them and took away their everything for my own selfishness. Yet, I didn't care. My happiness meant everything to me, so why should I think about another's feelings, the one who was trying to destroy me as I had in the end destroyed him? What he wanted didn't matter. Only what I wanted. It wasn't even that my way was "best" or "easier". No, it was just the way that led to my happiness. Others could judge me harshly, but deep down, we were all like this, willing to step on others for our own goals. So I paved the way, not caring who paid the price for it. And to placate myself, I repeated again and again, "He would have done the same to you if he was in your position. He would have gladly hurt you instead of hurting himself. No one would have been so unselfish as to just give up on their happiness for another's." Yet… why was there always a sliver of doubt, one that chanted that he was not so petty? That he would have been more mature about it then I had been.
On that day, I had hurt him to the point of no return, this I knew. And besides that, I destroyed the lives of his whole family as well. For I had taken away their sister, their daughter… and his wife.
Looking back, I knew my methods were not always tactful, and were often underhanded. Still, all's fair in love and war, or so I've been told. So what if I had used the invitation Edward had sent me as an excuse to get close to Bella again? So what if I had used the Cullens' sympathy as a chance to coax Bella away from them? So what if I had used Bella's birth family and pre-wedding jitters against her when getting her to leave Edward at the alter? These combined tactics had brought me the greatest joy I had ever known. So… it was all worth it in the end. Right?
And Edward must have that it was for the best, because he never even tried to follow her and me. And his absence sent Bella into a spiral of depression, yes, but I was able to free her from it in the following year. She hadn't spoken his name since that day when we run away from Forks, from her wedding, and from Edward. She couldn't have regretted what we did because she eventually opened up to me and agreed to marry me. And now she had given birth to our daughter. My imprintee. I guess that brought us full circle, I realized as my thoughts drifted back to my dilemma.
"Jake? Jake?" I made myself take my eyes of the girl to stare into my wife's eyes. It was beyond difficult to tear my vision from the girl who meant everything to the woman who now didn't. She would see it. Once our eyes locked, she would just know that I was different now. That I couldn't be with her any longer. That I was about to ruin the life we spent so much time trying to rebuild. That…
"Yes, I can hardly take my eyes off her too, sweetie. Don't worry; we have the rest of our lives to cherish her, after all." So I be relieved that she didn't see it? But no. Instead, I was all the more torn up. I wanted to be caught, to be yelled at. I knew I would deserve it.
Bella twirled a strand of her hair around one finger, watching the child play with her other pointer. "I was so caught up in the moment, I totally wasn't thinking! Jake, sweetie, we have to come up with a name for her. And I remember our promise: if it was a boy, I could pick. But, since it's a girl, it's up to you. So she can blame you when she's older if it's a stinker name." It amazed me that Bella could still smile while the gesture seemed so foreign to me.
"Kay," I choked out. "Err. Do you have any input? Any preference for a name?" I was stalling and I knew it, but I just couldn't tell her about my imprint yet. She was so happy, and still so weak from the C-section. I just… I wanted to hold off. I looked at her expectantly, holding her tiny hand in my own.
"Um…" Bella looked just so adorable when she bit her lower lip like that. Although she was technically older then me by a year, that habit never failed to make her look like she was 17 all over again. "Well, I really don't mind about that name," she finally answered. "I mean, I'll love her no matter what we call her by. But I am partial towards unusual names. I mean, there were four girls named Brittany in my Creative Lit class last semester. I want something where…. Where you can sense it has a meaning and it's not commonly heard, you know?"
I nodded my head, not really paying attention. Right now, the girl's name seemed the least important thing to me. I let myself fall back into my pondering under the pretense of thinking up a good name.
I knew this shouldn't be happening. None of us deserved this. No, not even me. I had only taken a path that would benefit me. Sure, it was selfish, but one had to live for themselves, not for others. And what did I own to Edward Cullen? Bella's life? All the times he had saved her, his family being vampires was the reason she had needed saving in the first place. That hardly meant I should have stepped aside and let him kill the love of my life. No, I concluded, I didn't owe that leech a damn thing. So I didn't have to feel the least bit guilty of what I did to him.
But… did everyone see things the way I did?
Did whatever powers that be out there see things the same way I did, that I was merely looking for happiness, the same as everyone else? No, I bitterly understood. No, they must not. For if they did, they would have never made me imprint on my own child and crush so many hearts in the process. No, this must have been my past coming back to bite me in the ass. Such a cruel thing.
"I've come up with a name." My eyes hard, I took the child out of Bella's arms. She stiffened for a second, not yet knowing me as her father like she instinctively knew Bella to be her mother. But it didn't matter. I would only be a father to her until she grew up a bit more. Then I would be her friend. Then… Then, even I didn't know what would follow that. This is the universe's version of payback, in the form of a tiny, tanned baby who looked so much like her mother. This was just what the universe felt I deserved. "This… is my Karma. Welcome to the world, Karma Isabelle Black."