They were in the garage, Bella and Jacob just like always. It had been two weeks since the battle, two weeks since other - less upsetting, more upsetting - things, and life went on.
This went on, and it was too much for her and not enough for him, and they both knew they'd keep doing it, on and on, over and over.
Best friends forever. Right.
Jacob wiped oil off his hands with a dirty rag, shoved it in his back pocket.
"So I'm wondering, Bells, what's it like being in a cross-species relationship?"
Bella flinched a little, though his tone was light, jovial even. She cast around for a clever way to not-answer that, finally settling on "Why don't you just ask Sam or Jared? Or better, bring it up when you're out running with them."
"Aw, come on. You know it's not the same – we are human, just, you know, special." He grinned over at her and she looked down, rubbed at a greasy fingerprint on the rabbit's shiny new paintjob, muttered "Special, that's one way of putting it."
He ignored her, pressed on with his line of questioning. "So come on, what's it like? Is it weird? Is it amaaaaaazing?" he asked, a mocking twinkle in his eye.
She met his gaze, stared him down as best she could. "It's great. It's the same as being in a normal relationship. Get over it."
He nodded slowly, considering her answer, then shook his head as he reached into his toolbox. "Nah, it can't be totally the same. I mean, being with a vampire, that must be a little different."
Bella's brow furrowed in annoyance and perhaps a hint of confusion, because where exactly was he going with this crap? "Well if you mean we don't stand around fiddling with engines and having awkward conversations about things that are none of each other's business then I guess - "
Jake laughed, cutting her off. "No, no," He ducked his head, shot her a sidelong glance, "I mean um, sex must be different. You'd think."
Bella's eyes widened. "I'd think shut the hell up," she snapped, her mouth opening and closing a few times afterward like someone had tripped a wire inside her.
He held a hand up like a white flag, trying to stop his grin giving way to laughter at the sheer mortification on her face. "God, sorry, no more S-word, I promise. I'll try to keep it G rated for you from now on, Bells."
She rolled her eyes, was pleasantly surprised that they stopped moving when her brain told them to, turned her attention to the car window. "Just keep it… not… talking."
Jacob watched her while he struggled with a smirk. He was pretty sure he'd never seen anyone spray Windex angrily.
He turned away to hide his amusement, reached into the bonnet and wriggled a wrench around for a moment. Bella began to relax into the quiet again, into the familiarity of this – Jake hunched over the rabbit, light rain scattering on the tin roof, a little obsessive cleaning to keep her hands busy.
"So what about just kissing a vamp? That must be different, it's gotta be."
Bella turned stiffly, just stared at him, appalled that he was bringing this up again.
He smiled too easily, reached for a screwdriver, or a spanner, or something, Bella didn't exactly care.
"So is it?" he asked, before popping the thin piece of metal between his teeth while he fished around for something else.
"Jacob. Seriously." Bella could barely get words out her jaw was locked so tight. She tried to shake herself loose. She really didn't need to be giving Jacob any extra intensity to work with, even if it was only born out of irritation, and nothing more, nothing more.
She had to at least try to keep this casual.
She managed a smile, just a quick twitch really. "What is this, the Spanish Inquisition?"
He took the screwdriver-spanner-whatever from his teeth, twirled it around with a chuckle.
"Sorry, I'm just curious." He turned fully to face her, leaned against the rabbit and cocked his head to one side. "I mean, I've only ever kissed this one girl, and that was all warm and wet, you know? And her lips were really soft and all velvety, but then she kinda pushed up against me so hard it was almost like - "
"Jake." His name was a trembling reprimand.
"Oh. Am I making you uncomfortable, honey? Too soon?" His faux nonchalance was wasted on both of them.
Bella swallowed. "I'm fine, it's just not appropriate for you to - "
Jacob leaned over, far too close, startled her into silence as he breathed her in. "You sure you're fine?" he asked, let the question linger, husky and hot at her neck.
Bella managed a Shh sound, and even she didn't know if that was all if it was supposed to be or if it had been the start of Sure.
It didn't matter. Nothing mattered.
She heard the faint clink of metal falling on the floor on another planet, far, far away from here, just as his lips met hers.
She dropped the Windex first, then the roll of paper towel and neither of them made the slightest sound but she wasn't listening anyway because she was lost in this and she was kissing Jacob wildly, and he was breathing in quick and sharp through his nose with every shift of their lips, because she wanted him, she wanted him and it was so good.
He grabbed hold of her waist, easily, instinctively, pulled her up his long body, smiled out curved kisses when her legs wrapped around his hips, when her small hands grabbed at his hair.
"Is it like this?" He caught her lower lip between his teeth for a moment, wrapped one arm under her, the other round her back, ground himself against her, felt her press back like it was the only thing she could do, the only thing. "Does it feel like this?" he asked, his voice low and rough.
Bella just made sounds, – Mm, sah, ah – shook her head, and his fingers dipped, slipped under her shirt and stroked at the small of her back.
"Jake, I can't, it's - " she gasped when he growled at her neck, slid his hand up to her shoulder blades in defiance. But she was shaking her head again now, and for a different reason. "Jake it's wrong."
He sighed, might have sobbed if he'd let himself because he couldn't bear it, he couldn't bear her taking this away from him. He pulled her tighter against him for a moment before he set her down, lowered his forehead to meet hers, swallowed quickly while he waited for his heart to slow.
"It's not wrong," he breathed shakily when he could speak again. "It is so, so not wrong."
He brought his hands to her face, pressed one to her cheek, slid the other into her hair, looked her straight in the eye as he said "I love you, Bella."
Her lips quivered against each other, her eyes shone with dangerous liquid when she whispered "I know."
He smiled, like he was pleased she understood that – it's only the most obvious thing in the world - rubbed his thumb back and forth over her cheekbone and said with the same certainty "You love me."
Bella squeezed her eyes shut, wishing there was anything she could say to that but "Yes."
"Would you say it? Please?" He'd hesitated for a moment, before daring to ask her for that.
She opened her eyes, panic ripping through her as she thought to herself Oh God, he's making me say it, if I say it it's real, if I say it I can't make it go away, if I -
"I love you."
It was a lot easier to spit out than she had anticipated, and suddenly it was being followed with more – I'm in love with you Jacob, I love you so much, I want you so much.
He shuddered at her words, chest convulsing like it couldn't contain what he was feeling, reached down and took her hand, lifted it to his lips.
His eyes were closed when he kissed her knuckles, but she saw the ring, bright, sharp and judging, telling her No this is not okay, this, right now, is not okay.
She tugged her hand away gently, and his grip crumbled like he didn't have the presence of mind to react at all. When he realized no part of her was touching him anymore, he had to force himself to open his eyes.
"I have to go," she said softly, and he nodded as all color drained, wall to wall, as his fingers and lips tingled into numbness.
She stopped at the garage door, twisted the ring around her finger, diamond up, diamond down, diamond up, diamond down. There were small-heavy words collecting in her mind and Bella wasn't sure what they meant really, not yet, but she knew they had to come out now before she walked away, for her as much as for him.
He lifted his head to look over at her, squinted a little because the sun was out now.
She smiled. "I'll be back."