Summary: Bella spends the first Thanksgiving without Edward with Jacob, Billy and Charlie. Jacob/Bella longing and friendship. Set in New Moon.
Author's Note: So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I wanted to offer up this story. :) It's not very cheery, but considering the tone of New Moon, I think it works pretty well. Technically, this may be an AU story, because I can't remember if it said in New Moon what Bella's Thanksgiving was like. But, this is my take on it. Essentially, in the timeline, Edward left a month or so ago, so the pain for Bella is still very fresh. Also, Jacob has no clue what's coming conerning the werewolf issue. lol :) As far as the facts about the school in La Push, I did some research (yeah, I know...lol) and the school is very small, so I'm guessing that they probably don't have a football team. But I'm fairly sure it's near the beach. And yes, the title can, and probably does, have double meaning. ;) So, anyway, I hope everyone enjoys and you all had a happy Thanksgiving! :)
A Black Thanksgiving
A mix of rain and ice assailed the roof all afternoon. It made the damp leaves stick to the ground in cold, cohesive clumps, catching on the bottoms of shoes and jeans. The football today would be interesting, Jacob thought to himself as he settled back at the table.
Billy, who had decided that they couldn't wait any longer for them, promptly blessed the food and began passing the cooling platters around the table. For a time, the only sound that filtered through the tiny house was the clinking of utensils and the ever present rain.
Rachel and Rebecca had opted out of the Black family tradition once again, leaving the two males to fend for themselves on pre-prepared store bought dishes and a turkey that would have been laughable if Sue Clearwater would not have helped Jacob.
This was the only time in years that he wasn't here. Charlie had never missed a Thanksgiving dinner with the Blacks since he divorced Renee. But things would have been different this year anyway, Jacob mused, as he rolled tiny peas around on his plate. This year she would have been here. But, he quickly reminded himself, all that changed when he left. The thought of it made his chest tighten with anger. Jacob remembered, after all, how Bella had looked after Sam found her. How she still looked, according to Charlie's agonizing phone calls - tired, hollow, lifeless.
Jacob had hoped that would have changed by now. Even a glimmer of progress would have been reassuring. But it was half past one and they still hadn't come. Charlie had swore he'd make attempts to get Bella out of the house and over there. Jacob assumed he'd failed, just like Bella's friends had failed.
Exhaling swiftly, Jacob carved into his turkey. It was dry now. Billy seemed to stare at him across the table. 'Maybe it wouldn't be dry if we hadn't waited so long,' he seemed to telegraph with his eyes.
Jacob's stomach grumbled, but he couldn't bring himself to eat. Everything seemed cold and tasteless to him as he imagined what the scene must be at the Swan household. Bella locked in her room, Charlie futilely asking her to come downstairs, to eat, to stop crying.
Jacob's persisting thoughts, however, where surprisingly interrupted by the unmistakable rumble of the cruiser. Jacob's heart made a leap in his chest. Maybe things weren't as bad as he thought.
It seemed like hours to Jacob before he opened the door to invite them in; his smile, he hoped, not too overbearing or telling of his emotions as to make her feel uncomfortable.
"Billy…Jacob," Charlie grunted to each of them quietly as he stepped inside the door. He held Bella by the wrist, gently but firmly, as he pulled her in front of him.
"Charlie, happy Thanksgiving. Glad to see you two could make it. There's still plenty." Billy said as they made their way to the tiny table.
"Yeah," Charlie nodded as he sat down, letting go of Bella.
She looked worse than Jacob could have imagined. Her skin, once glowing and smooth to him, had turned pale and gray. If it was possible, she looked more fragile, like she could break at any moment, like the fork she barely held weighed a ton.
It wasn't fair, Jacob thought as he resumed his place, now facing her, how someone could have such an effect on a person, to make them sick with grief, unhappy, to steal all meaning from their life.
He watched her through veiled eyes as she pushed around the food that Charlie put on her plate. Her sadness tore through him, burning in the center of his chest. Charlie had been right, she was like a zombie staring blankly at them, nodding along when prompted by a question, biting her lip when she felt like she was being monitored.
The relief came when Billy turned on the game and Charlie took Bella's half-eaten plate away. Jacob gathered everything else in his arms and dumped it in the sink. He had to get her out of here. It was stifling enough as it was, she needed to be out in the open air.
"Bella, you wanna head down to beach? Some of the boys are going to play football and I know they'd like to see you again." He offered.
Charlie's antennas went up at Bella's expression which was wary, apprehensive and yet, uninterested. "The fresh air might be nice Bells."
"Okay," she said with a shake of her head, before rushing for her jacket and pushing through the door.
"Jacob, take care of her alright?" Charlie mumbled. It was a warning, a command.
With a nod, Jacob rushed after Bella who was half way down the road, headed for the beach access.
"We could drive over, you know?" Jacob called out, but she shook her head and plodded on.
"How's school?" Bella finally asked when Jacob caught up to her.
"Uh...school. It's good. Well, not good. But bearable." Jacob stumbled over his words as he kept in stride.
She nodded slowly in response, her eyes glittering in the mist of rain.
It wasn't fair, Jacob maintained as they walked in silence to the access path. The Cullens had sucked all of the joy out of her. It wasn't right.
"Jacob! Man, how about that ga -" Quil stopped short on seeing Bella trailing behind Jacob. "Oh, do we have another player today? It would make it even. We've nev -"
Bella looked suddenly anxious.
"No, Quil. She's not playing," Jacob said hastily before he made things worse. "I can sit it out too, Bella. We can just watch?"
"No," she murmured. "No, you play. I'll watch. It's fine."
That was the most he had heard her speak all day.
The rest of the afternoon went by in a series of slow plays and heightened moments. Jacob could feel Bella's eyes on him, sad and deliberate. Not all the time, but he could feel it. The gaze was penetrating and hard when it came: moments of interest in what the boys of La Push considered football to be and moments of introspection when he was almost certain she was thinking of the Cullens.
A few times he almost thought he saw her smile as he dove for the ball, faked out one of his friends or tripped onto the wet sand. Regardless, his heart pumped a little faster when he thought her eyes were on him, movements were a little more daring when he thought she would noticed, personality a little more goofy when he thought she would laugh.
The game ended on a sweet note of victory for Jacob's team. Embry set up the ball nicely with a pass to Jacob, who ran it in for a touchdown beyond the imaginary goal line that stretched into the trees. By the time Jacob made his victory lap back around to the clearing, Sam and the rest of his friends were packing up, those of the opposing team shooting him dirty looks.
"Did I gloat too much?" Jacob asked rhetorically as he watched their retreating forms, almost forgetting that Bella was there.
"I think you had every right. You played a good game," she replied quietly, looking up at him, her arms tucked around her knees.
Jacob could barely contain his happiness. Was she actually smiling?
"Yeah, well…" he muttered in response, his heart pumping wildly.
The corners of her mouth pulled upwards gently. "You shouldn't be modest. You're good. Do you play at your school?"
"Uh, no. We don't have a football team. The school is too small for that," Jacob replied as he dropped to the sand beside her. "We have a great view of the beach though. Kind of makes up for it…"
"Yeah," she replied. "I bet that's great…"
"It is," he said softly, trying not to stare at her too hard.
The wind picked up suddenly, sending bits of sand, ice and rain into their faces.
"Oh, watch out," Jacob murmured as he instinctively pulled her hood to cover her face, his body angling toward her.
The gust of wind blew over and died down just as quickly as it came, leaving them inches apart and silent again. Jacob moved away easily, trying to rationalize that he would have done that for any one of his friends, but couldn't bring himself to believe that he would have done that for Embry or Quil.
"Sorry," he said as a "thank you" trembled from her lips.
Great. He sighed, assuming that he'd made her think of Cullen. He was really beginning to hate that family.
"You're welcome," he smiled, standing to his feet and extending a hand to her. "I guess we should get back before Charlie gets the K-9 Unit out here."
"Yeah, you're right. We should go…" she replied, barely bracing herself against him as she stood.
Nodding, he sighed again. Guess you blew this one Black, he chastised himself as they made their way back to the access path.
The rest of the walk was quiet, both consumed in their own thoughts as the rain fell harder. He vaguely wondered if she was scared he'd try to shield her again. Yeah, just great.
Thankfully, devastatingly, Charlie was ready to go when they got back. The air was just as thick in the house as it was before they left, both adults staring a hole into Bella. He hoped that at least the hour or two of fresh air had done her some good. She smiled, he reminded himself.
"Thanks for having us Billy," Charlie said, not taking his eyes off of his daughter, as if trying to read her expression.
"Yeah, thanks Billy," Bella said as if Charlie had told her to, then suddenly turning around. "Thanks Jacob. I enjoyed it."
"Yeah," he said enthusiastically. "Yeah, me too. We should do it again sometime."
She nodded and tried to smile, but the clouds were coming over her eyes once more. Charlie was at her wrist again, pulling gently as if trying to remove her from the house before the tears came.
With a final wave, they were gone. Nothing but a trail of mud the cruiser's tires had kicked up was left. Jacob's eyes followed the uneven strips in the land, watching the car until it turned out of sight. His heart began to grow steady and slow again, his breathing calmed and his hands sliced through his hair.
He hoped that next Thanksgiving she would be better, that she would be happy. Maybe she would be over Cullen by then. Maybe she would let him in, let him get closer to her. Maybe she would love him back. Maybe…