Summary: Jacob and Bella share a bittersweet exchange on First Beach during Eclipse

Author's note: Ahh! :) Writing my first Twilight fanfic yesterday got me all jazzed up and wanting more, so here is another one-shot, a smidge happier than the first (Fire), though unrelated. This takes place in Eclipse, Jake has already force-kissed Bella and has been forgiven. Bella is contemplating the ups and downs of making the "change." The quote below, I just found very fitting and downright inspiring! So….I hope everyone enjoys! And to any previous readers….thank you SO much! Your kind words mean the world to me and I greatly appreciate them!! :)


"The grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for." - Allan K. Chalmers

The sun had barely risen behind the trees that dotted the shore line of First Beach when my silence was disturbed. Wispy pink clouds fought feebly against the coming gray that trailed above, that, despite the sun, threatened to darken the rest of the day. It was cooler than usual, with the chilly spray that gusted to shore from the waves. It sent a shiver along my chest as it hit me, but not as nearly as much as when a cold hand ran along my shoulder, giving it a light squeeze.

"Hey," was all she said before plopping down beside me, shoving her frigid hands into her jacket.

"Hey…" I smiled lightly, moving my face away from the sunrise to look at her.

"I had some trouble sleeping…" Her voice was a whisper above the crashing waves.

We were at our spot.

I frowned a little before speaking. "I'm sorry, Bells."

Shrugging, like it was nothing new, she sighed. "Just getting in?"

"Yeah…Sam wanted to scout the north side of the forest before sunlight. And…this…" I smiled, gesturing towards the gradually lightening of the sky. "This was too beautiful to miss. So, I stayed."

Smiling at the look in my eyes, Bella scooted towards me, shivering lightly. "Yeah…I woke Billy up. How can you stand this?"

"It's not so bad," I grinned, moving my arm around her shoulder and hugging her to my side.

"Not so bad…" Bella murmured into my shoulder, as she wrapped an arm around my front. I let my chin rest on her head before squeezing my eyes closed. This was better than any sunrise.

She snuggled deeper into me, her breaths coming out as tiny puffs against my skin. A gentle sigh of contentment rose to my ears as her free arm wrapped around behind my back, tracing gentle circles on my skin. Her touch made my heart race, my throat go dry, my feet go numb.

"You're like an electric blanket, Jake. I need you at my house," She smiled into my chest, trying to brush over her last words with an air of lightness.

"Yeah," I sighed as her fingers dropped from my side and propped up against the roots of the bleached tree.

"I'm starting to feel a little overheated now." She barely smirked as she pulled away from me, her thoughts elsewhere.

I let her go without question, though hesitation was apparent in my movements, I let her go. Rubbing my hands together - fingers brushing against one another - was my new distraction. I didn't look at her, my feet wriggled under the cool surface. The sand covered my large feet.

She made a little noise before speaking again. "I uh…I used to do that with Charlie when we'd go to the beach. I guess we came here, during the summers. Without fail, he'd always say something about digging to China." I could hear the smile in her voice.

Looking at her again, I returned her smile. "That's nice, you and Charlie like that."

"Yeah…" She murmured, pushing her hair behind her ear.

Again, I could sense that her thoughts were some place else. Thinking of Charlie? Of life without him? Of how it would be when he - ? I shuddered, stopping my impending thoughts, the spray from the ocean suddenly feeling like shards of glass against my skin.

"I'm sure we built our fair share of sand castles in our day too, Jake." Bella smiled in spite of herself.

My head snapped up, my eyes searched her face. Her expression was a mix of several different and contrasting emotions, too many to decipher, but I knew that fear, sadness and doubt were among them.

"Yeah," I managed, squeezing her hand. No matter how much I hated him, I'd be whatever she needed me to be. Right now, she was all I could see, all that mattered. "We did."

Her eyes softened, as she smiled at our hands. "I can just see us now. Running all over this place. You dumping sand down my bathing suit. Gah, Jake you were such a boy."

"Hey, hey. If I recall correctly, you were the one who pushed me down because I wouldn't play mermaids with you. And yes, I am proud to say that even at that tender age, I was very much rooted in my boy-ness."

"Sure, sure." She smiled, stealing my line as she rolled her eyes a little.

I could feel the lump beginning to form in my throat as I met her gaze. I felt her fingers tighten around mine instinctively, the tears not very far from her eyes. Pulling our intertwined hands to my mouth, I placed a warm kiss to the back of her hand before letting our hands rest on my knee.

Her bottom lip began to tremble as her gaze flitted from me to the ocean.

"Oh, Bells…" I breathed, my words coming out in a weak sigh.

She sniffled lightly before our foreheads touched, mine bridging the gap between us. As I put my free hand to her face, her eyes caught mine once before looking at our feet, the soft tears trailing down her face.

"I want this so badly…but I'm so afraid, Jake," She murmured barely above a whisper.

I wasn't sure which this she meant. A life with me, with everything she knew and loved, or a life with him. Forever. I didn't speak.

"I thought it would be so easy, before. So natural and right. I knew I would miss everyone. Everybody that I love. All but him. And I…I thought I was alright with that. I love him, I do. But I'm just…so…so afraid of losing everything else that I'm not even sure what's real anymore." Her words came like a flood, between sobs and flashes of her eyes. Her lashes were thick with tears, her lips pink with movement, her cheeks rosy with the chill in the morning air.

"I'm here, Bella. I'm real and I'll be here every second of the way. Until you decide, whatever you decide, until your heart stops beating…or not." I stumbled along the words until her eyes locked on mine.

"Jake," She mumbled as my fingers brushed across her cheeks, trying to dry the tears that wouldn't stop.

Slowly, I lifted my head from hers. Hesitantly, I let my lips brush along her forehead. The sound of her breathing grew shaky, unsteady as I moved to her cheeks, nose and chin. Her lips trembled, her eyes closed, as if waiting for me to kiss her again. Sighing, I pressed my lips to her eyelids, before pausing again at her forehead.

"You know I love you Bella." I felt her take in a sharp breath. "You don't have to say it back or at all even. I'm just reminding you…that I'll be here. That I'll do anything you ask of me. I know I get jealous and say stupid things. I know I'm wrong half of the time and you hate me for it, I hate myself too. But regardless, when all is said and done, I'm yours. For whatever you need me for. I'm yours."

The only sounds that filled the silence that remained was the crashing of the waves and our breathing. I didn't say anything else and I didn't expect her to either. We simply sat there, her head crouched below mine, her forehead pressed against my chest, her hands squeezing mine every so often.

We spent the rest of the morning like that, just being, breathing, holding each other. It was simple, easy and yet so incredibly hard for both of us. The chance of us having a healthy, normal friendship had died on that first day that I'd laid eyes on her again. That first day right here in La Push.

I knew what she didn't back then, I knew what she was beginning to know now. That we were connected, from that first smile to the last heartbeat, no matter the outcome of her current circumstances. I didn't have a choice but to love her, to comfort her, to be anything she needed me to be. I was bound to eternal servitude and we both knew it.

Around mid-morning she let me run my fingers through her hair without protest, without a sigh or tear. Her eyes, rimmed pink from crying - I had lost count how many hours she wept - simply met mine for the first time since I had last spoken and flickered for a moment. I blazed my trails diligently, softly as my fingers grazed her scalp and dragged through to the ends before repeating the motion. My eyes burned from lack of sleep but I didn't dare move, not wanting any frame of time with her in it to end.

Her eyes didn't meet mine again for a while. There was so much to think about, too much, for the both of us. Only my thoughts stayed in the present, unmoving from where we were in this moment in time. I knew her thoughts were far away though; her eyes clouded ever so slightly once in a while, unaware of her current circumstances.

"Jake," Her voice sounded hoarsely, her eyes blinking softly.

Opening my eyes, I returned her gaze, knowing that it was over now. Nodding once, I pulled us both up simultaneously, brushing the sand away from my clothes. I waited for her to do the same, before we made our way back to the landing where I knew she'd parked.

I draped my arm loosely over her shoulder as we walked, feet sinking and squishing in the sand underneath our feet. Silence reigned until we made it to her truck. The sight of it made my eyes prickle.

"Are you okay to drive home?" I wondered aloud as she opened the door, fishing out her keys.

"Yeah. I think I'll be able to sleep now. Thanks…" She replied, giving me a half smile.

I knew how I must look to her, tired yet restless, full but unsatisfied, weak but still determined.

Blinking a bit, I returned her smile as best I could. "Yeah. Me too."

Pressing against me briefly, her arms closing around my waist, she murmured "goodnight" softly before she turned to her truck, her expression pained, tinged with a glimmer of hope that flickered stubbornly behind her eyes. She wasn't giving up without a fight and neither was I.

"Goodnight Bella," I replied, my eyes trailing up to the midday sun, a trace of a smirk on my lips. "Sweet dreams."

She gave me a fleeting look and a small wave before she drove away. My eyes followed her truck until it disappeared and was back on the highway. Only the glint of hope I'd seen in her eyes stayed with me as a billow of sand echoed her departure.

The small spark ignited my purpose again, refueled and restored me as I made my way back home. It settled my fears and doubts, helping me to know that if she still had hope for us, that in the end, everything would fall into place.