At first, she was confused—why her heart suddenly leaped out of her chest when he walked her to school, or why her stomach flipped of it's own volition when he was helping her with her homework and he accidentally touched her. That was so, so confusing. Because he was Jacob, darn it, her big brother. These things had never happened before, and she'd never thought they would.
"Nessie?" He asked, one night, "You ok?"
They were sitting across from each other at the kitchen table in La Push, eating. Quil was playing with Claire in the living room (she was going through the Barbie phase) and they'd quietly left the two to grab something to eat.
"You seem distracted."
"Why do you care?"
He raised an eyebrow, and she blushed.
"It's nothing, really. Just thinking about the summer."
"Oh. Ok, then."
Which was really what she loved about Jake—he knew when to drop things.
And then she was shell-shocked—pulsated to the bone and damn freaked out. Because now that she knew the problem, now that she understood what was going on—how had she missed it? How had this happened? When had this happened? It made so little sense and yet every bit of it—
"Nessie, are you sure you're ok?"
"Fine, absolutely fine."
"You're a crappy liar, Ness."
"Then just believe me, OK?"
He shook his head and went back to his meal, picking at it cautiously.
She was more than a little out of it as she drove back, her eyes barely concentrated on the road.
She was driving. He could drive. They could drive. The could drive…
Across the country.
She broached the idea with him the day summer of her senior year in college started. She knew it would take some talking around, but she was ready too—
"Are you serious? Ness, that'd be… awesome, actually."
She wasn't all that surprised he'd agreed that quickly, actually. Still.
"Oh darling," she grinned, putting her hand to her forehead in a fake swoon, "Did you fall from the moon? Did you catch Diana's foot and kiss her hand? Is that why you agree so quickly with me, is that why you're so easy to comply?"
"What are you smoking?" he asked, shaking his head again and tracing circles in the palm of her hand. They'd done that forever. It only occurred to her now how… well, for lack of a better word, romantic that was.
"Pot, actually… well, not really. You'll always be my pot, Jakey."
He smiled absently, still staring at her hand.
"You really want a road trip?"
"To… I don't know, where do you want to go?"
"Didn't think you were the type."
"I dunno, Ness, you're so… European…"
"I live in goddamn Washington."
"I know. What do you want to see in New York?"
She grinned. "Hippie stuff."
"Nice… You know, we could go to San Francisco for that and you'd get full blast—"
"Jake! I'm fresh out of college! I need a break and I need a life!"
"Let Angela or Alice take you shopping—"
"You were saying it would be awesome ten minutes ago."
"I know… I just…"
"I'm twenty-two. And not just in looks, either, you know…"
"I know, Nessie!"
"Then what?!" she demanded, grabbing her hand away. "What, Jacob, what else could you possibly ask of time? You want me to go gray?"
"Nessie?" Alice poked her head in and looked over both of them in worry. "Didn't you want to go see Amelia?"
"Oh… yeah. See ya, Jake." They stood, and she awkwardly waved goodbye. In minutes, there was the sound of the car door slamming and the slight grumble of the engine… and she was off.
"What did you say now, kid?" Alice asked wearily, sitting where Nessie had been. "Nothing. Honestly."
Alice raised an eyebrow. "Alright."
He dropped onto the couch beside her. "She wants to drive to New York. Don't you think that's a little crazy?"
"But you said you wanted to."
"And then I changed my mind! Can't a guy do that?"
"So you brought up her age as an excuse?"
"You know me… that's what I always do. Jeez, Alice, I'm… what? Thirty five now? She's so young."
"That is stupid, Jacob Black. You're not really thirty-five… you still look like you're in your twenties—you'll always look that way—and she's looked about twenty for most of her life now."
"So what's my problem?"
"I don't want to hurt her. I imprinted on her, Al—what does that make you do? I'm kind of worried, you know…"
"If you touch her—"
"I know, one of you would shoot me alive. Thanks."
"Not at all."
"Alice, she's old enough now that I…"
Alice looked at him curiously, a touch of a smile on her lips. He didn't notice it though.
"I can… you know… be in love with her. Like, actual love."
"You don't think that can go the other way around?"
"No, I… what?"
"You heard me."
"Yeah, and… really think so?"
"Yes, Jacob, I do."
She smiled fully this time. "Any time."
Nessie went to her friend Amelia's briefly, before she came back, parked her car in the driveway, and ran off into the woods. She sat at her favorite rock and breathed out.
She wasn't mad because he wouldn't take the trip with her. She couldn't care less, really—she was only mad because he wouldn't do it because of her age.
And, of course, because she loved him.
He snuck up behind her, that moron. She could tell it was him though, because he sat beside her and didn't say anything, as Jacob often did when they'd argued over something stupid.
"What?" she asked finally, after ten minutes of this silence.
"You know how I… you know, the thing that…"
"Imprinting, Jacob. I'm old enough to know what that is, at least, so don't dance around the words."
"Right. I've imprinted on you."
"I know that too."
"And you're twenty-two."
"No, really?" she muttered sarcastically.
"So I'm kind of worried that I might… you know…"
She looked at him, the truly sincere expression on his face, and burst into laughter. "You? Have you ever even kissed a girl?"
He bristled, "Of course I have!"
"Oh really?" she smirked.
"Have you kissed any boys lately?"
Her smirk widened. "Yes, Jacob. I have. You told me to go out with him, and it was really sweet, actually, and—"
"Ok, no need for details. That's not my point."
"Then what is your point?"
He sighed and looked straight ahead. "I love you, Ness. That's all."
It seemed so different, the way he said it now. Of course they'd said their I-love-you's before, but in a sibling-like sort of affection, camaraderie rather than a romance.
"I know." She murmured. "I love you too. But in that way." She added.
"What way?" he turned to look at her, a bewildered look on his face. She leaned into him and pecked his lips lightly. "This way."
"Oh." He grinned. "Not this way?" he kissed her, none too lightly.
She was panting a little when he pulled away. "That too."
"Whoa…" his eyes widened. "Did I honestly just do that? I'm so, so sorry, Ness, honestly, it was so impulsive and if I've offended you or your father—"
She laughed. "You liar. It's really just my father you're afraid of offending, isn't it?" she pulled him by his shirt collar and kissed him again.
"So what if it is?" he said when they were done.
"Well… you know… If you haven't offended me, I could defend you—"
"Funny, very funny, Ness." He kissed her one more time and hugged her to him, pulling her off the rock gently. "Ah, you stupid, stupid little girl…"
She punched him half-heartedly in the jaw—he winced slightly and hugged her tighter. She relaxed in his arms, and they sat there for a few minutes, unmoving, reveling.
"You know something?" she murmured into his shoulder after a while.
"My dad's still going to kill you."
"Yeah. I know."
"But he'll get over it."
"Is that so?"
"I thought he would."
Silence. Then—"So… which boy did you kiss before me?"
She grinned evilly and turned to look at him. "Seth. Junior prom night."
His eyes widened, and he growled. "That little—"
"I dared him to."
"Because he looked all cute and tall and awkward…" she said apologetically.
"But not nearly as cute and tall and awkward as you looked during senior prom." She added.
He grinned, and they started walking back. "You suck, Ness."
"Yeah… well, Dad never really found out, so please don't think about it…"
He smirked. "If you can stop me…" And he ran off in the direction of the house.
"Jake!" she shouted furiously, and ran after him.