Chapter Twenty Six

Refresher:

After Jacob starts avoiding her in New Moon, Bella runs away. After being changed into a vampire, she joins the Volturi. Recently, they had a battle in Forks against Victoria and her newborn army, where Charlie was killed, Bella saved Bree, and Jake agreed to Aro's offer of being a guard dog, after imprinting on Bella. Augustus' family is soon coming to Volterra, and Jake is getting a little jealous.

"As I've missed you," he smiled, and pecked my cheek with a kiss. That's when I heard the growling in the background grow stronger, and Jacob erupted into a puff of russet fur.


CHAPTER Twenty Six

Part 1: Bella's POV

It was all so fast. One minute, I was greeting Auguste. The next, Jacob was bursting into his wolf form. The whole massive size, dog-like snarling figuring, snarling—the whole kit and caboodle; the whole nine yards. Right here. In the corridor. Underground. In a space full of vampires.

Before I could so much as comprehend what had happened or think about what to do, he was writhing on the floor. Jane. Didn't she realize this would only infuriate him more?

I cringed seeing him in agony, fighting against her power but not managing to succeed. I was wary of this; what kind of an effect would her gift have on his species? I was nearly with him, crawling in pain, as I saw what he was going through and pondering the effects. If I could've forced my body to think, do, act...anything but stand here, frozen, I would've found a way to stop it.

Luckily, Alec seemed to recognize my thoughts of this only angering Jacob, not to mention hurting him, and used his gift to help Jake out. This broke me out of my trance, and I took Jane's power from her; I've learned that if I take the full power of a vampire's ability, they are completely unable to use it. Jake lay numb on the floor, naked and completely unfeeling.

"Master Aro, Master Cauis—may I have a minute?" I requested. They obliged, taking the rest of the onlookers away with him. Alec gave me a pat on the arm and a pointed glance before he disappeared into the shadows. I noticed Auguste looking questionably between Jake and myself, but he reluctantly left with the others.

I grabbed a decorative blanket hanging on a wall nearby and used it to cover Jake's, err, assets.

"Jake?" I said timidly, worried about how Jane had affected him. No answer.

"Jacob?" I whispered, walking closer to him and kneeling beside his face. His eyes were closed and his breathing was heavy.

"Jake, you alright?" I questioned once again, staring at his limp body. His eyes twitched slowly and his breathing slowly began to even out.

I put my hand over his messy, charcoal hair. He needs to cut it again; it must be uncomfortable having so much fur when he phases.

"Jacob, are you okay?" I questioned again, growing worried. His body continued to twitch back to life, but that didn't stop the panic from crawling through my dried up veins.

The seconds stretched on like an endless day, panic thick inside me, pulsating through my cursed granite heart. Jake's brow twitched.

My small, delicate iron hands cupped his pale, defeated face. Jacob. My Jacob. My best friend, Jacob. Forever and for eternity, no matter what. Hot or cold, putrid or sickly sweet, fur or granite, werewolf or vampire; my best friend, forever.

"Please Jacob. Please, be okay." I whispered softly into his ear, my icy breath biting his flaming ear. His eyes slowly drawled open, adjusting to the light.

"B-bella?" he croaked, his voice hoarse from the screams he had managed to get out during Jane's little escapade. 'If you exist, thank you God' I prayed silently to myself.

"Jake?" I questioned, cautious. Was he alright now? Did Jane cause him any permanent damage?

"Hey Bells." He said weakly, smiling up at me. My return grin spread over my face, illuminating it.

It didn't matter Jake had just blown up at Auguste, it didn't matter he had forced himself on me, it didn't matter he imprinted on me, it didn't matter he was a werewolf, it didn't matter that the rules of nature were against us; all that mattered was that he was here, okay. My one little piece of home, all I have left. My comforter, my personal sun, my Jacob. Forever and for eternity, the one person I can count on to never leave me; never again.

Edward left because he was tired of me; I was just some fling. Our relationship with unnatural, and I was nothing special. I can never hold it against him for leaving. But Jake—he left me for completely different reasons. He left me for me.

He just wanted to keep me safe. He loved me; loves me. He never thought that I was plain, or not good enough for him. He didn't leave for any 'distractions'. He left to protect me; but now he's back.

Upon our reunion, he didn't care we were mortal enemies. He didn't care we were supposed to hate each other. He didn't care that I reeked, or chilled his burning skin. He disregarded it, not caring about anything but that it was me. Unlike Edward, he doesn't care that our relationship is unnatural. He's here for me, forever, no matter what. I'll never be left alone again.

"You alright Jake? I questioned; his body was still almost completely frozen, toppled on the floor.

"Yeah,I'm alright. I was just burned by a miniature angel-like demon. No big deal." He stated sarcastically, rolling his eyes. Good, I thought; if he's up to making cynical comments, he can't be doing too badly.

I wrapped my strong granite arms around his weak, flaming body. His heart was still beating rapidly, like a staccato drum beat rising to the crescendo of a vigorous song.

I never wanted to leave this position, wrapped around him so tight. I wished my cool embrace could wash away the bitter pain, clench the spreading poison of my eternal regrets, remove the scars my flawed existence has left on his heart. I wish my arms, my touch, could fade all the pain and the acid stinging his cuts away. I want to wash the crippling memories away and replace them with nothing but good.

My leaving him when he needed me most. Becoming the enemy to his fantastical existence. Making him watch my father die, and knowing it was because of me. Stealing him from his family and friends. The hostility we've thrust upon him in this place. My coldness and secretiveness about all things concerning Edward. Everything—anything that's hurt him in the past. If only my touch could wipe it away; take the pain away like a mother's soothing kiss. If only.

"Uhm, not that I mind, but don't you think I should get some clothes on?" He smirked, obviously thinking about my arms clung around him with nothing between us but the thin, decorative piece of cloth. "Although, I'd understand if you'd like me to stay this way." He winked.

"No, actually, I'm good. Why don't you get dressed and meet me in my room; I think we need to talk." I told him seriously.

"Oh-okay." He stuttered, instantly nervous.

--x--

"We need to talk." Edward stated seriously, coldly. His expression was blank and he appeared as apathetic as he had the past few days. I falsely felt hope, though, at these revolutionary words. We were going to sort thing out, talk through our problems. How wrong I was.

"We're leaving." "I don't want you to come with me" "You're no good for me." "It'll be as if I never existed." "I'll still love you—in a way—but my kind, we're easily distracted."

Every word out of his mouth pierced through me, paralyzing me. Comatose. My heart was still beating, yet it was as cold and hard as those who made it that way. Because, in Edward leaving me, his family left me as well.

--x--

Why? How could Edward do that? I still need to know. I will find out, I will find closure. My mind snapped back to focus on the matter at hand. Jacob. My words. I've hurt him, yet again.

"Nothing bad, I promise." I told him quickly, smiling shyly.

"Alright." He smiled back, though the nervousness was still clearly visible lurking behind his eyes. I rose from his side slowly, turning to look into those same liquid cocoa orbs in an easier position.

"Need a hand?" I offered him, seeing as it was time for us both to get up and get a move on.

"Really, a vampire offering a werewolf a hand?! What is this world coming to?!" He chided, but took my proffered hand.

"And it didn't even snow this past July!" I exclaimed, grinning at my crazy werewolf friend.

"You never know; maybe this upcoming summer." He kidded back.

"Oh! Jake, after we talk, you should phone home. You haven't contacted anyone since you left for here two weeks ago." I stated, suddenly remembering why I asked Heidi to take me shopping a few night ago. She was like Alice in that matter; I may have only gone for that one small thing, but it became a shopping frenzy.

Now, in a large pile mixed with other random items we purchased, is a cell phone and calling card for Jake. I'd have to a bit of searching in Heidi's magnanimous pile, or—"our" pile, to find it.

"That sounds good. I'll meet you in your room in a sec." He told me, smiling gratefully as he jogged through the halls, the decorative blanket still wrapped around himself.

Once he was gone I walked slowly to my room, pondering what I was going to say. I passed by the eerie and desolate corridors, the emptiness and coldness of it sending chills down my spine. My thoughts slowly began to drift to Edward, as they always do. He was my reason for leaving home in the first place, to choosing this different—though not necessarily bad—way of life, and also the cause of the ever-present ache in my chest. I'd do anything to make him love me again, though I'm not stupid enough to think things could ever be like they once were. My only hope now is just finding out the reasons for he and his family's sudden departure. I want to know why he did it; what I did it wrong—what exactly it was that caused him to leave me. I just need him to explain it to me, to tell me why he ended it, to verify it's over. I want to say a proper goodbye to him, and his family. I want, no, need closure.

I wonder if they'll be mad at me for becoming what I am now, when Edward was so against it. I doubt it, though. There's plenty of vampires out there, what's one more? Besides, it's better for them that I'm a vampire now, because humans aren't supposed to know their secret. Surely they won't mind that I am what I am now—Edward won't be more angry at me for it, would he? He was always protective, and completely against any notion that I become like him, but he certainly couldn't be that angry. I mean, he did leave me, after all. Unless he thinks I changed to stock him, and thinks I'm forcing myself on his family. Which I'm not—or, wouldn't be.

One year. That's how long until I will look for them; once my eyes are golden and I've fully discovered my ability and place in the world. Then I'll slowly begin my hunt for them.

"Bella?" A voice called, breaking me out of my trance. This voice was different from the one I had just been talking with; sweet and melodious, accented in harmonious French. Auguste.

"Yeah?" I called back, turning to face him in the dim, yet still easy to see with, light.

"Uh, I was just wondering, who was the dog?" He questioned; curiosity, jealousy, and disgust clear in his voice.

"That shape shifter is my best friend, Jacob." I stated coldly. "But, sorry for him pouncing on you." I told more sincerely, my earnest voice laced in honesty.

"Well, it was certainly an interesting experience." He grinned, unfazed.

"I guess that's one way to look at it." I smiled back. "I have to go talk to him, though. I'm really sorry. We'll definitely catch up tonight, however." I promised happily.

"Alright. Maybe I'll go talk to Bree; she seems nice. The description you gave of her from your letters matches perfectly." He smiled.

"Well, that's good. Go have fun!" I laughed, waltzing back towards my room. I knew Bree would have fun getting to know him; she knows no other vampires outside of the Volturi.

--x--

Jake and I sat side by side in front of the fire; my favourite place to sit.

"So..." I stated, not knowing where to begin. The flames danced in the pit their own tribal dance. Orange, blue, and yellow tendrils of fire shot from one side to the other, flickering on and off. The wood in the hearth was slowly becoming lit, blinding us in its light. It made crackling sounds accompanied by sudden "pop"s.

"So..." Jake continued, just as lost on what to say as me. Where were the days of carefree conversation ringing with simplicity and ease? Gone. Gone with the days of my mom laughing and gushing with me over her life. Gone with the beloved and cared for life I had with my father—who, along with my humanity, is also gone. Gone with the blissful days of my eternal love, Edward. Gone. All that's good is gone. Nothing lasts forever.

The fire continued to crackle and burn. The coals were scorching with heat. Pictures seemed to appear in the climbing flames, reflections of my forever-subconscious thoughts digging to the surface, plaguing me. Who needs sleep to have nightmares?

"Nice weather we've been having." Jacob stated, motioning to a nonexistent window. I rolled my eyes at him. We're talking about the weather now?

Jacob grinned at my "only you" expression. Well, kudos to him for trying to break the ice.

"I'm sorry." I murmured, hushed. He needed to hear this; I had to say it aloud.

"You're sorry?" He asked incredulously, staring at me like I had three heads. What's so strange about me apologizing? Did he really think I was such a horrendous creature that I would never apologize for all the things I've screwed up, and continue to screw up?

I stated a simple "yes", gathering my thoughts.

"What have you got to be sorry for?" He questioned, his tone and expression nearly accusatory.

"Plenty." I sighed. He quirked his eyebrow at me, threatening to contradict.

"I stole your life away, Jake. I've messed everything up. If I had of just waited for you in Forks you would've seen me soon enough, I'd never have to be a vampire or a member of the guard; I'd never be sentenced to an eternity of painful immortality—your mortal enemy. Charlie wouldn't have been killed in front of you—he'd still be happily living, enjoying his sports games and fishing with your dad. You'd be with your family, your pack, and your people. I've ruined everything. I'll never be able to tell you how sorry I am—and even if I could, it wouldn't matter. It's still been done." I finished sadly, quietly. As much as I wanted to become immortal to find Edward and get answers, it was selfish. I never should have done this. I've hurt so many people.

"Exactly!" Jake exclaimed, coming over to pull me onto the floor by the fire, grasping my hands in his. "It's still been done; what's done is done. We can't change anything. So stop thinking about it Bells." He demanded seriously. "I need you to stop regretting everything's that's happened. Sure, there are things you and I both wish we could change, but the fact of the matter is, we can't. There's nothing we can do about it now. But, it's okay. You didn't make me leave my pack; I wanted to. There's no place I'd rather be than with you." He smiled, giving our entwined hands a tight squeeze. How did always seem to know the right things to say? "Besides, it seems you like being the 'forbidden fruit', so to speak. You dated a vampire when you're human, and now you've got a werewolf after you when you're a vampire." He smirked, "I really don't mind. Sure, you may smell a little bad..." I wacked him over the head for that. "Hey! You know it's true! I reek to you, too—I've seen you wrinkle your nose!" He laughed. "Yeah, Bells, Charlie died." He said, taking on a more serious, sombre tone. "But, that's not your fault. That's Edward's fault." He spat, and hearing his name come from someone else's lips...it wrenched my stomach into knots inside me.

"I'm just as guilty as him. We were dating—that usually takes two people to do." I added in boldly. It was true; Edward could never be blamed. He would've protected me had he known, I can give him that much. For the time he did love me—which, I have no doubt that at some point he loved me—he would've done nearly anything for me. And I feel he would still have protected me, had he known. Then again, I could be completely wrong. If he truly did care at me whatsoever, he never would have left.

"No, Bella. It's not your fault at all, it's all the leech's fault." He stated unhappily, his voice full of angry conviction.

I gave him a pointed glare, reminding him that I'm as much of a leech as Edward is. Realization dawned on him, sparking in his eyes, and he was quickly going back to reword his sentence. I didn't really care; leech, bloodsucker, parasite, tick, mosquito, vampire...they're all the same thing. Why should I be offended?

"Sorry... I meant it was all Edward's fault. Not yours, Bells." He stated in a definite tone, staring straight into my eyes. I opened my mouth to protest, but he cut me off. "No, Bella. I already know what you're going to say, but you're wrong. It's all his fault. He was either going to kill you or make you fall in love with him. He wasn't one of those people who take no for an answer. There's nothing you could have done about it, Bells." He insisted, but I knew he was wrong. Edward gave me the chance multiple times to walk away, for me to just leave him alone and keep far away. But, I was too love struck to do that. I truly was a 'stupid lamb'. Jake already knew this, though—he just refused to believe it was anyone's fault but Edward's.

"Mmm." I said quietly, indicating I had heard him, but not showing whether or not I believed him. I didn't want to talk about this any longer—I've thought about it long enough; I just wish I could forget it already.

"Now, Bella, I think I need to apologize." He stated austerely. Now it was my turn to look incredulous.

"What do you have to apologize for?" I scoffed, feeling a strange sense of déjà vu.

"For being an idiot. Listen, I know I've already apologized, but I really am sorry for, well, for forcing myself on you earlier. Really, I am a complete jerk. I actually can't believe you're still talking to me. And then, again, after losing my temper with Auguste...really, Bells, I don't understand how you can even sit here holding my hand at me after what an idiot I've been." He let out sadly, forcefully, ashamedly.

"Jake, no, I understand. Well, I mean, it really was not okay for you to do...that...against my will, but I'm not going to go off on you for it. Everyone makes mistakes, and while I wish you hadn't done that, I can't find it in myself to hate you for it. I know I haven't been treating you fairly lately, but I'm just so...upset after everything with E-Edward. He was everything to me, and I know how much you hate him—and I just, well, I don't want to set you off. And then I'm hurting so much, Jake. I don't want to add any more burdens to you, to cause any more stress then you're already dealing with, after me making you come here and all," I continued, finally letting it out. Unfortunately, Jacob stopped me.

"No, Bella, wait. I have to say something. It is not your fault I'm here. It's not anyone's fault. It's not a "fault" at all. I wanted to come, Bells." He told me, his dark mocha brown eyes piercing mine, as though he was telepathically trying to engrain the message into my mind. "And it seems I have to apologize for something else, as well. I never meant to pry into your life. I know how hard it is for you to talk about Cullen, and I really do understand that having me here would make you uncomfortable—there's been more than one time before I've brought him up, unintentionally hurting you. You don't have to apologize for that either, Bells. I understand, really. You just need time."

I stared up into his orbs, amazed by how mature he could talk, and how understanding he could be.

"Bells, please, just...I'm just really sorry. I've been such an idiot lately. I realize now how...how horrible I've been, and I'm not going to be like that anymore. If you just want to be my friend, that's fine with me. If you want me to be your older brother, younger brother, whatever—it's fine me with me. If you want me to be a mentor, protector, care-taker, accomplice, friend—whatever you want, I'll be it. I promise that no matter how much it may hurt me if you l-l-like someone else, I'll manage. Don't do anything to make me happier, Bells. I live only for you, and seeing you happy makes me happy." He smiled, and then continued. "I really screwed up today. I'm not use to the...the anger. As werewolves, or shape shifters as you call us, we have a temper that's very hard to control. It's part of the reason why I wasn't allowed to see you after I first phased—I could hurt you, severely, if you so much as said the wrong thing or looked at me the wrong way. I'm really trying to get over it and these intensified emotions of anger, but I'll do it, Bells. Anything for you." He told me, and I could practically feel the honesty seeping through it; the love, the sincerity, like a warm, comforting blanket keeping me safe and together. Jacob; my personal sun. Forever.

"Thanks, Jake...for everything. For being so honest with me. I'll try to be more open, too, from now on. I really appreciate you telling me this. And, well, you already know that I don't have...romantic feelings for you, Jake, but I do love you, as a friend—as a brother. I'm just not ready for a relationship right now, and I don't know if I ever will be," I explained, just about to tell him the ending to the speech I've wanted to say for quite a while now. I know I've said it before, but this time it just seems so much more...honest. It's like a wall between us has been taken down and I can tell him how I feel so much easier now.

However, he cut me off before I could finish my graceful ending.

"Oh, Bells! I'm so happy! I don't care how long—or if you ever—see me romantically. So long as you'll talk to me, be with me, that's all that matters. I just need you in my life, Bells." He smiled, hugging me in a very tight, bone-crushing hug; it was so tight that I actually felt my granite skin being smooshed together in the circle of his arms.

"Sorry to break up this moment, Bella, but Aro wants to see everyone now." A voice came from the doorway. When did they approach? I didn't hear anyone, and I always hear it when people come to my room, even though they're graceful vampires—especially if they open the door.

"What does he want, Bree?" I asked the figure in the doorway; I bet she used her camouflaging technique to hide herself from our view while she watched—it was the typical Bree thing to do. Though I really am surprised I hadn't smelled her or heard her approach.

I was really annoyed Aro wants to see us. I wanted to talk to Jake some more, now that we've finally gotten things straightened out. I guess that'll have to wait.

"Something about a good 'old family supper. Don't worry, Marcus is already waiting for us. I think Aro just wants to say a few words before we go, though." She explained.

Sighing, Jake and I got up and proceeded to the door. That's when I saw Auguste standing by her. I looked up at Jake nervously, and saw him give a curt nod to the man he so quickly has taken a disliking to. At least he's making an effort be nicer now—though I could see his hands clenched in fists at his side.

"Come on, mon cheri Bella, I'd like to learn how you hunt!" Auguste exclaimed in his thick French accent, smiling a huge, breath-taking smile. I couldn't help but return it.

"I'd love to!" I replied, and the four of us walked together to find Aro before our hunt with Marcus.

I wonder what Auguste will think of the vegetarian eating smile.

I just hope Auguste and Jacob can behave themselves...


AUTHORS NOTE: (yeah, this one's pretty extensive...)

.*.When Bella is worried about Jake after Jane used her power on him, she does have a legit reason. Yes, Jane's power is purely mental, but the pain could cause emotional/psychological problems, and she doesn't know how it affects those outside of their own kind.

.*. Someone told me this in a review, and I feel the need to explain myself. "When a wolf imprints on a person they become completely and selflessly devoted to that person, as long as that person is happy they're happy. This is spelled out quite clearly in the books. Thus, if Jake has imprinted on Bella then he'll be happy as long as she's happy. He'll become whatever she needs, so if all she wants is a best friend then that's what he'll be content to be. He certainly wouldn't force himself on the imprinted."

I do completely agree with what he/she said, however, I don't think that makes how Jake acted incorrect according to the books. Sam permanently scarred the face of the girl he imprinted on. That is not the way to treat your soul mate, obviously. So why would Sam do this? Doesn't this go against everything imprinting stands for—unconditional love for the imprinted and wanting only what's best for them? No, it does not go against imprinting. Being a werewolf, anger is intensified for the first while, somewhat like the crazed newborn stage. It actually takes days for them to calm down enough to phase back into human form after their first transition into being a wolf. Sam did not hurt Emily intentionally, and just because he imprinted on her it doesn't mean he was unable to hurt her.

In the past chapter, Jake forced himself on Bella and blew up on her. This, also, is not the way for someone who imprinted to treat the person they imprinted on. However, the anger he felt was intensified and he truly could not stop himself with such raging emotions. Also, although Jake has physically matured drastically, that does not mean his emotional maturity is the same. He truly believed that if he told Bella how he felt she would fall in love with him; that if he finally took the chance and kissed her, she'd kiss him back and things would be all good. Well, at least, part of him felt that way, that doing this would clear up her feelings for him.

The anger he felt was because Bella had been pushing him away, and he wanted to be with her so badly. Yes, the imprinted will be whatever those the imprintee wants or needs them to be, but that doesn't mean they don't have freewill. Believe it or not, this is a personal opinion, but I'm pretty sure even those who imprint can screw up with those they imprint on. Jacob deluded himself into thinking Bella wanted him and that this was the best way to show her his love, and hit her with the realization that she was in love with him too. He felt the pull not to do it, but he still had the anger and the free-will. He was so tired of bottling up his feelings and emotions that he just had to let it out; he couldn't control himself—just like Sam.

Luckily, in this chapter the imprinting sense has taken over. Yes, he had to blow up at Auguste first, but he was able to talk to Bella and get over his problems, thus becoming and acting the way someone who imprints should really act.

I hope this makes sense to you all, and corresponds to the books. It makes sense in my mind...