Authors Note: This is my first venture into actually writing fanfic…I am however a seasoned reader. I desperately needed to read some good Jake/Nessie fic post-BD and couldn't find any. So, I decided to start one…effectively adding something else to fill all of the free time I don't have! I hope you guys enjoy!
PS: a million bazillion thanks go to Marcy, who fixed my story to make me look good!
Disclaimer: Unfortunately, I'm not Stephenie Meyer and I don't own Twilight.
Song rec for this chapter: "On a Night Like This" by Dave Barnes ...go youtube it. you wont be sorry...you might meltswoondie however.
Today holds significance. Seven. It's been seven years. Seven relatively uneventful years. Seven completely unexpected years.
The best seven years of my life.
I haven't often taken the time to really reflect on these past seven years, I've been too caught up in living them. But now, as I pace back and forth between the trees, I can't help but recall the tense exchange that took place in that clearing just under seven years ago. Maturity by seven calendar years he'd said…the one like her.
A sound strangely similar to a scoff left my mouth. As if I need to know the date to notice her maturity. She's always been beyond stunning…from the very first moment I laid eyes on her. The last year though, has been…difficult. One year ago she was still a bubbly young girl…and nothing more. More interested in perfecting her technique on the piano and finding obscure books than she was with Alice's attempts at taking her clothes shopping. She wasn't the least bit interested in any of Rosalie's makeup (not that she needed it even now in my opinion).
This past year, though…things have changed. I can recall the exact moment I saw her as more woman than girl. I couldn't see it happening because it was a slow progression…huh, the word slow wasn't one that I could usually use in the same sentence as her name. I quit pacing and sat on the damp earth against the base of an old pine tree, remembering.
roughly 6 months ago
We were in the Cullen's back yard; Nessie, Edward, Bella, and I. I was trying to teach Nessie the basics of football, Bella and Edward sat on the porch wrapped up in each other as usual. Nessie is always looking for new information; she wants to know everything about everything…and much of the time knowing isn't enough for her; she has to experience it. Which is why we were in the back yard with a borrowed football, me attempting to look like I knew what I was talking about.
"You see," I said palming the ball, "like this."
"That's how I was holding it, Jake!" she said, exasperated. She reached out and snatched the ball from my grip, and arranged it perfectly in her hand. "See!"
I kept my gaze down so that she couldn't see the grin that broke out on my face. Heaven forbid anyone call Nessie wrong. After I'd composed my expression I looked up, "Oh yeah, you've got it," I spoke with a tad more enthusiasm than was necessary. The easiest way to diffuse her temper was to praise her. "Now reach back and let it roll off your fingers as you throw."
She hauled back and threw it perfectly…with the exception of a little too much force. The ball went sailing through the trees away from the Cullen's home faster than my semi-mortal eyes could follow it. I looked over at her, jumping up and down in the excitement of her first successful attempt and rolled my eyes.
"Great job, Ness," my tone clearly indicated my slight irritation, "I guess we're done now."
She stopped jumping, her face fell. "What…no." She paused. Her brows that were knit tightly together loosened and a small smirk arranged itself across only half of her mouth…a trait, I'd learned over past several years, she had inherited from her father. "It can't have gotten that far; go on and…fetch it, Jake." She started backing away from me slowly as she spoke.
I wasn't angry with her; it was a long running inside joke. Playful banter between friends…but, that didn't mean I was going to let her get away with it. She wasn't a fragile flower by any stretch of the word, and she was going down.
She was out of sight before I'd taken my first step, not that that would stop me from catching her. Her scent was the most potently powerful smell in my world…I could follow just a trace of it anywhere. Without a backwards glance at the two sitting on the porch I was off after her. I wasn't nearly as fast as she was, not on two feet anyway, but soon enough she'd slow down. Her scent got stronger faster than I was expecting, and before I had a chance to register what I was seeing I ran right past her. I skidded to a stop and turned around to face her. She stood perfectly still, football in hand and that infuriatingly cute smirk on her lips.
"I win!" she sang out. I stayed quiet, biding my time…planning. She was faster than me so I had to be smarter. I had experience on my side, I knew her like anyone knows their best friend…plus I knew how she thought. She'd shared her mind with me often enough that I found her to be almost too predictable sometimes.
I shifted my weight back on my heels ever so slightly and paused when her eyes flickered. She'd caught that? Which meant that she knew I hadn't forgotten her little "dog" comment. I didn't waste any time letting her formulate a counter attack in her head. I sprung at her from the side, effectively knocking her backwards into the damp leaves and sticks that covered the forest floor. As she went down, the football that was in her hands flew over my shoulder.
I looked down at her, "no…I win." She stared back up at me with a look in her eyes that I hadn't seen before. I noticed the tiny flicks her deep brown eyes made as they focused on different parts of my face. And that's when it happened, the world shifted and I was suddenly too close to her. It wasn't something I'd ever had to think about before. I jumped back off her, stood up and put a few steps of distance between us.
I watched her raise slowly from the ground, and took another step backwards when I caught myself noticing for the first time the way her hips have rounded, flowing easily into her long legs. My eyes focused on her face…she was staring at me with that same expression as before. I had to go; I wasn't ready for this yet.
"Time to go, Ness…your parents will start to wonder." I took off back towards the house, not slowing until I broke through the edge of the trees and stumbled onto the smooth green lawn. She ran in right behind me and kept on running right into the house. My eyes traveled up to the porch after her, getting caught on a figure standing there still as ice. His expression was easy to read…he'd "heard" our little silent exchange. Oops.
I stood up and started meandering towards my destination. I shook the memory free of my thoughts not wanting to relive any more of it. It hadn't really ended well. Edward was not receptive to the shift in the way I viewed his baby girl; still isn't actually. Not that I can blame him, I knew this was coming. That hasn't made dealing with it any easier.
Nessie and I don't have a romantic relationship by any means, not yet anyhow. It's inevitable, I know…but not yet. That doesn't mean I haven't noticed that she's not a child anymore. Things are definitely changing. It's only gotten worse since the whole football thing. She hangs around the girls a lot more than she used to…she asks my opinion on things like new shirts and whether I think she should wear her hair up or down. We don't play physically anymore, no more wrestling or tackle football. We mutually avoid anything that will encourage uncomfortable contact.
I'm sure she's aware of the situation. We've always been very open with her about the whole imprinting thing. She's known since she was old enough to understand that we were meant for each other and that, if she'd have me when the time came, we'd end up like her parents…living together forever.
For the most part, everyone was pretty understanding, how could they not be when with a touch Nessie could show them all that things were still completely platonic between us. But that didn't keep Edward out of my head. So, I've been enduring his pointed glares for the last six months anytime my thoughts wandered too far from his set-in-stone views of his baby girl. All I had to do was notice the way a shirt fit her a little too snug, or the shadows the light cast on her neck and shoulders when her hair was pulled back and I'd usually suffer a broken toe at the very least (after, of course, he'd told her to go change).
I got to the clearing much faster than I'd been planning to. It appeared that everything was already set for the party, and I wondered why I was here so early. Then she came streaking from the house and flung her arms around my neck.
…Oh yeah. That's why.
"Jake, what took you so long!? I've been sitting around dealing with Mom and Dad's moping all morning without any comic relief." She let me go and took a step back, grabbing my hand and heading for the house.
"Moping?" I questioned.
"Yeah, Mom has been whining all morning about her 'baby girl being all grown up…already!'" she imitated her mother perfectly, bringing her hands up to her face in exaggeration of terror and disbelief. She giggled and let her hands drop, taking mine in hers again.
Oh yeah, this would be the equivalent of all of that I guess. Sweet 16, high school graduation, becoming an adult, rite of passage all rolled into one…and after only 7 years. Renesmee is all done growing. I can see where Bella is coming from.
"Aw, give her a break, kid." I said as I bumped her gently with my shoulder. She stopped, and I stopped with her. "…what?"
"Kid?" she glanced up at me, not as far up as it used to be I mused. Her eyebrows rose in question. "I'm pretty sure I've been beyond 'kid' for at least 6 months, Jake." She continued to stare at me with her questioning eyes.
I looked up over her shoulder to see Bella watching us through the glass wall, listening to the exchange no doubt. I turned my gaze back to Nessie. She was either unaware of our audience or was getting to the point where she just didn't care because she didn't seem the least bit disturbed by someone overhearing the turn our conversation was about to take.
Time to diffuse the situation…this conversation will happen soon I'm sure, just not now…not with an audience…this would be between Nessie and I. "Yeah, sorry Renesmee. Hey is there any human food in there?" I started towards the house again and she followed close behind like I knew she would.
Several hours later, I sat back on the Cullen's couch with a full stomach and a relatively light heart. The majority of the party guests had filtered out into the back yard, attempting the organization of some kind of game, I wasn't really paying that much attention. The day had been hectic, and to be honest I was anxious for a bit of peace and quiet. Nessie joined me quickly, as was the usual. If I was in the room she usually found her way to me. She lay down across the couch; her head nestling into my lap like it was meant to lay there.
"Happy Birthday, Ness. I'm sorry it took me so long to get a chance to tell you that." I spoke quietly. She didn't need me to shout, and I was in no hurry to disturb the quiet moment with death glares from Super Dad.
She said nothing back, just kept breathing quietly in and out. I felt a small natural smile creep across my face and without thinking I reached out and grabbed her wrist, lifting it gently and placing her hand on my warm cheek. The first images that crossed my mind were of her and I; over and over and over again…all of them quiet happy moments like the one we were sharing now.
"I'm happy for a minute together as well," I whispered.
I felt her fingers curl and then lay flat on my cheek again. The images changed to a succession of her last 6 birthdays, more specifically, her opening the gifts I'd given her.
"Are you hinting at something?" I hedged. I never gave her my gifts until after her parties. They were never anything big, but I knew straight from her memories that they meant a great deal to her….the little trinkets I made.
I felt just a flash of her frustration in her memories, and then her hand pressed a bit harder into my cheek and I saw an indistinct memory…her sneaking up from behind me and taking me to the ground.
I chuckled. "Are you threatening violence? I thought your parents raised you better than that." The image in my head changed, I saw myself chasing her full speed and taking her down quickly. "Ha! So it was me that steered you wrong? …figures," I scoffed, "I'm always to blame." I felt a giggle shake her torso momentarily, and then she shifted and looked up at me.
"Well?" she spoke quietly, and her face held no sign of the violence she'd just shown me. Her eyes were bright and eager, a little grin on her perfect lips.
"Oh I dunno, Ness…I thought you were an adult now…adults don't get birthday presents."
"Jacob Black!" She very nearly shouted.
"Alright, alright…jeez. Earlier today you were scolding me for calling you a kid, now you yell at me for calling you an adult…make up your mind woman!"
"I'm an adult that will still get a present for every birthday between now and eternity." She said smoothly without missing a beat.
"Right. Well you'll have to wait until later. Your gift this year is a little bit different."
She was intrigued…I could tell from the fragment of a visual I got before she pulled her hand from my cheek and sat up.
"Yup, actually after everyone leaves you should probably nap cause we are going to be out late."
Her eyebrows rose slowly, "really…" she stared at me.
I desperately tried to keep my face straight. I knew what she was probably thinking without her hand on my cheek…it was probably very similar to what I was thinking. I'd decided a long time ago that I would just let it happen naturally, and I could tell that it was beginning to naturally happen.
I sat up and patted her leg. "Really. Really." I said before standing up and heading out back with the rest of the party guests, leaving her on the couch to consider what was to come.
It was still relatively warm outside for the beginning of October; we drove with the windows down even though the sun had already stained the sky a deep pink. It was quiet. She wasn't asking her usual twenty questions whenever I tried to keep a secret from her or surprise her with something. Her curiosity wasn't a result of her not trusting me, but rather just that…curiosity. Nessie couldn't stand to not knowing what was happening.
She'd talked to her mother before we left. I didn't know what they talked about and I didn't ask. I expect that Bella is savvy as to what had already begun, even if it hadn't actually happened yet.
I looked over at her and couldn't stop the smile that crept across my face. She had her hand out the window, her long curls blew lightly in the breeze and when the setting sun flickered on them, I got to see my favorite color in the whole world.
She looked over, caught me staring, and a smirk found its way onto her contemplative face. "What?"
"Are you going to tell me where we are going?"
There it was. I knew it was coming. "And ruin the surprise? No way!" We were close to where we were stopping, but I wasn't going to tell her that. I was having fun keeping something from her, it didn't happen often. I didn't feel the need to keep things from her…a feeling I hoped she returned.
I turned onto a gravel drive that snaked up to my small "thinking" spot, a place I hadn't actually shared with anyone else. Sure, the pack knew about it but they didn't dare follow me here. Edward and probably Bella now knew about it because I wanted them to know where we would be. Edward had been completely against it at first, even though he could hear my thoughts and knew my intentions were completely virtuous (for the most part). Bella had spoken to him, and he'd agreed…again, something I didn't question.
I stopped the car, cut the engine, and turned to watch Renesmee take in her surroundings. "You brought me to the woods." Her voice dripped with sarcasm, "Wow…thanks, Jake!"
I let a chuckle escape my lungs in a gust of air. "I knew you'd like it."
She was speechless and I was quite enjoying it, but that was enough mean…it was time for some, what did Bella always call it…dazzle.
"That isn't all, Nessie," I began, "you honestly think I'd just bring you out here and then drive you home? …c'mon now!"
She looked a little shamed, but not enough to force me to feel bad for misleading her. There was also still a burning curiosity in her warm brown eyes. I got out of the car and stretched. I didn't usually drive up here, I usually ran and my body was stuff from being cramped in the driver's seat of Nessie's tiny car.
She followed my lead and once she was out she saw the small campsite I'd arranged this morning. "We're camping?" She turned her questioning eyes on me.
I nodded, gauging her reaction. As difficult as it was to believe, we hadn't ever been camping before. We had hunted at night before, but this was different. A first in several ways. The first time I'll share my sacred place, the first time in well over six months that we've been out of reach of Edwards prying gift. It was nice to think that our thoughts would be only ours tonight…it was finally time for a discussion that I'd been both dreading and dreaming about for several years.
We ate, well I ate and she insisted that she'd rather find something later. I didn't argue, and I didn't tag along when she excused herself for a few minutes. We spent most of the night goofing off and playing. I made her eat a s'more, claiming it was sin enough that she'd gone this long without ever having one. We teased each other and played in the fire, into which she threatened to throw my shoe at one point. It was so easy to be around her. So comfortable…like there hadn't ever been a time when I didn't have her. I enjoyed the easy conversation; it was so different from the emotional one that was fast approaching.
It was time to redefine the word love. Did I love her? Absolutely, more than life itself. Was I in love with her? Not yet, but I was getting there…faster by the second. It was beginning to feel like I was losing control. A feeling I found to be both incredibly frightening and deliciously addictive at the same time.
I looked up at her, the glow on her face from the warm fire that neither of us really needed was indescribable. She stared back at me over the flames and something passed between us. Something wordless. Touch less. She licked her bottom lip and that something clenched in my stomach.
No more waiting. I stood and walked over to her, taking her hand in mine.
"C'mon, Ness. Let's go for a run." I drug her up to her feet and dropped her hand. "Give me a second to phase, okay?"
She nodded, and I ran far enough into the trees that I hoped I would be invisible to her sensitive eyes to phase, and returned to her quickly. We exchanged a glace before I took off into the forest towards what I'd really come up here to show her.
I ran, knowing she was following until I got to the cliff. The spot where you could see everything. Where the sky touched the Earth no matter where you looked. Nessie stepped up behind me seconds after I'd approached the cliff. She'd fallen back a bit when I slowed so that I could phase without an audience.
I looked over my shoulder at her. "Yeah." I reached around me and grabbed her hand pulling her to my side, "Just wait."
We stood in silence for a few minutes, and then eventually ended up sitting in patchy grass that led up to the edge of the cliff. It was still dark, but the horizon had begun to smolder with the approach of the sun. Nessie had taken my hand and had been playing idly with my fingers for several minutes…something she's done for as long as I can remember.
My mind raced, wondering how to approach the subject. I've never had a hard time telling her anything. What was I going to say? I love you? She already knew that…we exchange those words daily. Without anywhere else to start, and unwilling to torture myself any longer I went with it.
"I love you, Ness."
She sighed, long and deep. "I know that Jake."
"No…I mean…I, I'm beginning to fall…in love, with you." I turned to look into her face. Why was this so hard to say? This declaration that I've known was coming from the very first second I saw her beautiful face.
She smiled and nodded her head. "I know that already, Jake." She repeated herself.
I paused. "You do?"
"Of course I do. I'm a woman Jacob…we're perceptive creatures." Her expression was almost cocky; her eyebrows challenging me, a twinkle in the rich brown of her eyes.
I just continued to stare at her, trying to figure out what she was thinking. I've never in my life been so jealous of Edward Cullen. She reached out and placed her palm on my cheek…thank God!
She showed me…me. It was me playing games with her, running with her, watching movies, coloring, talking, hunting…we were on family outings and get-togethers. Nothing about them fit our conversation. They were just memories.
"Nessie, I don't see-"she cut me off with a quick 'shh'.
"Did you see yourself?" She asked.
"Of course I did, but, Ness…"
"Look," she placed her other palm on my unoccupied cheek so that she was cupping my face in her hands.
It was me again…only more recent. First me looking down on her after the whole football thing, followed by a succession of her own memories of me. My reaction to her in a black dress after a shopping trip with Alice and Bella, I was clearly stunned. She showed me several instances where she caught me staring at her, a soft contemplative look on my face that could only be interpreted as love. The contrast between the two visions of myself was stark and unmistakable.
She dropped her hands and locked her eyes with mine. "You see, Jake? …you see why I already know?"
My heart was pounding. I'd been waiting to give her more time, I tried to keep it from her on purpose…and I'd failed miserably. She'd known for as long as I had. I guess it doesn't get much more 'naturally' than that.
The sun had broken the horizon, and was shooting burning rays of red and orange across the ocean. The small waves breaking on the shore could almost be interpreted as a fire. It was beyond breathtaking, and I usually couldn't take my eyes off it when I was up here by myself…but now? Now, I couldn't tear my eyes from her…not that I wanted to.
"Ness, I…" I didn't know what to say. "I'm not any good, I mean…this is, not…I can't, I mean I don't know-"
And that was it. I don't know if she just didn't want to hear me babble on any longer or if she was through waiting just as much as I was, but she slid her arm around behind my neck and hesitated for only a moment before she leaned in and touched her lips to mine for the shortest second of my life. I couldn't bear to open my eyes even when she pulled back just a fraction of a centimeter and waited. I could feel her warm rapid breath wash over my open lips, taste it on my tongue.
"Jacob…" her lips ghosted against mine as she whispered my name, "look at me."
I finally let my fear that this wasn't real go, and slowly lifted my eyelids. She was so close. We'd been that close before, more than once…just not in the last 6 months. I couldn't keep my eyes from examining hers. At this distance I could see all of the tiny flecks of green and gold that littered the brown.
I must have kept quiet a moment too long. "Jake, I'm sor-unn…" she began but she couldn't finish. I leaned in…closed the distance between us and caught her bottom lip between mine. Her shoulders relaxed and she responded gently…slowly. My fingers found their way to the crown of her head, winding their way into her soft curls.
I ended the kiss very much the way it began, so slow. I pulled back but held her head to me, touching my lips to hers once, twice, three more times before letting her go.
I opened my eyes to see that it was her that couldn't find the will to look this time. She was sitting so still, so quiet. If I couldn't hear her pounding heart and her rapid breaths I'd be worried. I smiled, reached out and ran the pad of my thumb so carefully over her closed eyelid. Her face cracked, and broke into a smile as her eyes opened.
"Better." She sighed.
She nodded. "That was better than I'd imagined."
I couldn't hold in the laugh. I was elated! I hadn't felt so lighthearted in a very long time. It was like everything was coming full circle. I'd loved acting as friend and guardian to Renesmee while she grew, but after just that one relatively innocent kiss I could already tell that being her companion was going to be even better…she was right. Better.
We ran back to the campsite hand in hand. It was slower, but I wasn't ready to let go of the night just yet. I'd told Edward and Bella that we wouldn't be back until after noon. As distasteful as I found the thought, both Nessie and I needed to sleep for a little while.
"We should sleep for a bit before we go back….your mother would kill me if she knew how little rest you've gotten tonight." I said as we reentered the campsite.
She slowed to a stop and examined the tents. "Separate tents?" she asked.
"That would be your father."
"But we've slept in the same room hundreds of times."
"I know that…and you know that…" I paused, "and I'm fairly certain he knows that as well, he's just unwilling to accept it at this point."
"Right. Maybe we should just head home now…I'm really not that tired, like…at all."
I thought about it for a moment, just long enough for her to try and hide a yawn.
"Uh-huh…I don't think so. Besides, I'm in no hurry to get home to let daddy-dearest pick my brain." I said with a smile.
"Hmm, you win. We sleep." She turned and headed towards one of the tents.
I followed her slowly, and cleared my throat. When she stopped and turned I said, "first of all, that is my tent…"
"and second, after everything that happened tonight…after this pretty incredible birthday present if I do say so myself…you're going to make me go to sleep without a goodnight kiss?"
A smile found its way across only half of her perfect lips, which meant she was about to get snarky. "Oh, I dunno, Jake…it's not really technically night."
Two could play that game…and these two were the best. "Oh…I guess you're right," I said and started to unzip my tent. She was able to feign success for about 3.6 seconds and then she placed her hand on my shoulder. I stood and turned to face her.
"Do you see the sun?"
"Uh, not yet…it's back behind those trees," I pointed over her shoulder.
"Me either," she stood up on her tip-toes and realigned my world once more as she kissed first my top lip and then my bottom before quickly heading over to her own tent. "Oh and Jake," she said, already halfway through the small door, "I think I might be falling in love with you as well."
I groaned and climbed through the door as gracefully as I could. Life just got a whole lot more complicated…let the games begin.