A/N: Umm so it's been a while :) Apologies, but unfortunately I had just too much on the past couple of months and somethings had to slide, unfortunately this was one of them and for that I apologise, if you're still sticking with it despite all the delays then I really thank you :) I never thought this story would have made it this far, and I know this is the Chapter some of you have been waiting for, I only hope I've done it justice and it's been worth the wait, this was not easy to right and got rewritten more than any other, I just hope it's what you wanted, let me know =] All speech at the end of the chapter is straight out of Breaking Dawn so all rights to Stephenie Meyer for that. As always, thanks to agirl2224 for her patience, motivation and words of wisdom, I think I would have given up by now if it wasn't for your Tweets, and for the rest of you to reading, enjoy!
I turned round to face Rose, she was sat on the floor by Bella's feet, her face thunderous.
I nodded, acknowledging that I had heard her thought.
What is that..dog still doing here? He's done his bit, he's warned us of Sam's plan, can't he make himself useful and go play guardog?
I sighed, I wished it was as simple as that. I wished I could tell Jacob to go and for him to actually go, I wished he would walk out that door and never walk back again. Sadly where Jacob was concerned nothing was that simple.
I groaned as I heard Jacob line up yet another dumb blonde joke to antagonise Rosalie, as much as I appreciated anyone winding Rose up, if only for the response, it was all getting tiring. In particular for me as my role of referee between the two.
Does he not like his teeth where they are? Or would he rather take a trip to a plastic surgeon?
I didn't hear the punchline to Jacob's joke, but I couldn't miss the stony glare Rose gave him or the flurry of images that run through her head, all of which involved her seriously injuring Jacob. I didn't blame her, not really. There were times when I had those images of Jacob running through my head, how to break every bone in his body, werewolf or human, the best way to hurt him. But I would always be in debt to Jacob Black, I owed him my life so many times over. He was the on who had kept Bella alive for me during those long, dark months of our separation. Without him, Bella may not have made it through, and that alone earned him my eternal gratitude. There was no arguing that we both resented the other, he resented my return and the loss of 'his' Bella, and I resented the bond that tied him to Bella. To see the evident pain on her face when she was forced to pick a side, and her even constant need to have Jacob in her life, no matter how much pain it caused them both. Any lesser man than Jacob would have walked away, found solace in another girl and moved on with their life. But not Jacob. Despite the pain he stuck around, if only for Bella's sake, and at times, I was sure, to torment me. And for that reason he was out of bounds, to hurt him was to hurt Bella, and I would never do that. When I left Bella, I left to save her soul, I left to give her a chance of a normal life. If I'd known then that leaving her would have opened her heart to Jacob, I wouldn't have left. I wouldn't have given him the chance to try and claim Bella as his own, to own a piece of her heart, he wouldn't have had the chance had I still been here, and that was one regret I had eternity to mull over. If he didn't mean so much to her, there's a good chance we would have had our fight by now, both sides desperately wanting an altercation, to air our anger and feelings. But neither would as long as Bella was in the picture. The only saving grace was her, she was the one person we would both do anything for, and if that meant not fighting, then that was what we would do.
I looked around the room, a couple of months ago, this scene wouldn't have been possible. There was too much resentment between me and Jacob, too much bad blood to even exchange pleasantries, however false. Yet now, with Bella's life in the balance, it seemed that there was a relationship now between the two of us, it would last as long as Bella's heart continued to beat. And after that I had no doubt that if all her hopes failed, and it wasn't the venom that stopped her heart, that Jacob would seek his revenge. This time there would be no need to go to the Volturi, Jacob would not show me the mercy they had, the chance to re-think, he would kill me and never regret the decision. Me and Bella's death would be too interlinked for him to ever feel remorse for killing me. I would not blame him for those actions, and I would not ask he forgive me in my final moments, I would accept what was coming to me. Just like time after time I knew Bella had accepted that death was a possibility for her, James, the Volturi, Victoria. Time after time, Bella had stared death in the face, and for the sake of love, had walked willing into it's arms, and for her, I would do the same thing. That would be my final act on Jacob. To not die bitter or eaten up by guilt. But to enter deaths arms the same way I had arrived in Italy. Knowing that I would do whatever it took to re-unite me with Bella. For death is not the end, if it was, then I would not exist, my family would not exist. If death was the final act, if our ability to love died when we did, then how did I have such a capacity to love Bella? How did I fear for the protection of Esme and Alice in potential battles? Why did I sit with Rose when she was having flashbacks of her final moments? Why had I returned to Carlisle after my early rebellion? What was the bond that tied me to Emmett and Jasper? The answer to all of those questions was love. It was love that tied me here, nothing else. No longer did heartbeats or breaths tie me to this earth, it was the people around me, the people that I loved. Knowing that had made these past few weeks easier. To look at my family and to know that whatever happened, whoever did or didn't make it, it would be OK. There was enough love to get them through even the darkest of hours. To know that, even though it would take my time, if necessary, they would accept whatever decision I made in the days ahead, because they wanted what was best for me, because they loved me. Jacob thought I wanted death as an easy option, to escape a life without Bella, hell in it's simplest form. And he was right, to some extent, a life without Bella would be hell. But also because it would be a life devoid of love, at least, devoid of the love I knew now could exist.
To Jacob, the world was still so black and white, wrong and right. He hated me because of what I was and who I was. He honestly believed that if I had never returned that him and Bella would be together by now, and maybe he was right? Maybe once Bella's heart had healed enough she would have found it in her to love again, and unlike Jacob, I wouldn't have begrudged her that chance of happiness. It would have torn me up inside to see her with someone else, to watch them make a life with one another, but if it would have made her happy, then I would have found the strength to do it. It was what separated me from Jacob, my ability to remove my own feelings from the situation. Now sat here with Bella, I didn't feel anymore at ease about the situation, even though she was healthier than she had been in weeks, her cheeks were glowing, she could eat properly. It didn't make me any more optimistic, but I wasn't letting it show anymore. Unlike Jacob who sat there looking as if he'd entered his own personal version of hell. I, on the other hand, had lived through thinking I had lost Bella before, this in comparison, the more time went on, was more bearable. She was still here, and most importantly, there was time. There was time for me to watch her as she slept, to hear her talking in her dreams, to memorise every inch of her face, of course in the end it would be more painful. But in a selfish way, to know that we had time, made whatever lay ahead more bearable now. To know that Bella knew this time that I did love her, that I had always loved her, that all I ever wanted was to keep her safe, protect her, at the very least, she would die knowing that. And I would be able to walk to Jacob without a heavy heart, but knowing that Bella died knowing she was loved, and that the only reason I was doing this, allowing Jacob to do this, was because I loved her too much to bear a life without her.
Done putting the worlds to right yet?
Rose's face was thunder personified, her beauty marred by stony features, her gaze so fierce it almost boarded on comical.
I raised an eyebrow.
You looked like you were on another planet. Not that I blame you, anything to escape him. Seriously, why is he still here? Can't you tell him where to go? Preferably far away? Other end of the county would be good. Although you'd probably still be able to smell him....
I smiled, could always rely on Rose to moan and complain. Jacobs constant presence had rattled her beyond belief, his constant taunting of her did little to soften her mood, or her feelings towards him. Just like Jacob, Rose wasn't prepared to sweep her feelings under the carpet, even if to protect Bella.
Bella's hand brushed mine, the touch was like an electric shock, her skin was so hot at the moment.
"You OK?" I asked quietly, as not to bring to much attention to her, even when ill Bella hated to be the centre of unnecessary attention, especially when Rose and Jacob were around.
"Empty" she said raising her cup up in the air.
She smiled guiltily, she knew the idea of her drinking blood made my stomach turn, it wasn't right. But it was helping her, and anything that helped her was a necessary in my book.
Carefully I took the cup from Bella and leant down to Rose, handing the cup over to her. The smell of human blood hit me in the back of my throat, even after all these years of abstaining, it still held temptation. I could feel my throat burning with desire, I opened my mouth, allowing air to enter my body, anything to distract me from what was in my hands. I tried to focus on Bella, anything to rid my mind of the thoughts that were currently racing through it.
"Can you get Bella some more please?"
I was careful not to use the word blood around Jacob, knowing he was more touchy about it than me. I noticed him visibly shudder as he saw the cup, even though he couldn't see what was inside. I guessed just the mere idea of it was bad enough.
Rose took the cup from me and I saw her bit her lip as she inhaled the fumes, it took her a moment before she was able to move, enough time for her body to cope with the temptation.
Still so tempting.
I nodded, acknowledging that she was not the only one who was tempted.
Rose's record was cleaner than mine, she had never even tasted human blood. Even when she had killed Royce and his accomplices, she'd never drank their blood, not wanting herself to become tainted even further by them. But it didn't make the smell any less tempting to her, we were designed to be attracted to human blood, and however hard we tried to abstain, the temptation was always there, the smell burnt the back of my throat the longer I held the cup. It took me only a second to move to the kitchen, refill the cup and return, but in the meantime Jacob had moved to sit closer to Bella, my seat now taken, Rose looked at me, the disgust on her face clear to see.
There would always be 3 pieces to the puzzle now; me, Bella and Jacob. It was my blingsightedness stupidity that had allowed Jacob to enter our lives in such a prominent position. To leave Bella was to know I could never lose her, I knew that now. The idea that I had lost her had dulled my thirst for her blood, had splintered my heart into a million pieces, and that was just what I could remember of those blurry days. To go through all of that to the then be reunited with her reaffirmed to me that she was worth it all. Yet it had brought Jake to her, and that was a flipside I could not ignore. Jake was the one who brought a smile to her face when no-one else could, who had saved her from a cliff- metaphorically and literally. I owed him, that was a constant thought whenever he was around, but his ever constant presence seemed too higher price to pay.
How does she put up with it? The smell is awful....
I looked over at Rose, her face crumpled up in distaste as she eyed up Jake. I shot her a warning look, Rosalie was not known for her subtlety and the last thing I needed was World War III between her and Jake when Bella was in such a delicate state.
'Play nice' I whispered in a voice so low I knew only she would hear me.
She shot me the same look she'd shot Jake.
Shall I throw the doggie a bone?
She just grinned at me this time, the grin that coupled with everything else about her should have had her staring at you from a billboard somewhere. To choose between her and Alice was both unfair and likely to end in my head being ripped off. But Rosalie had been a part of my life for so long, it was hard not to have a favourite. To outsiders it probably appeared that me and Alice were the closest, the crazy little pixie who had talked me into doing all manner of crazy and irrational things. The only other member of my family who was tortured with having a 'gift' they had neither asked for nor wanted. Alice was also the one to have brought me to Bella, who guided me through the moments of doubt and insecurity. She was also the one who'd brought Bella to save me in Italy, the Porsche had been the least I'd owed her for that. But was Rosalie was the other half of my conscience, if Alice was my optimism, then Rosalie was my caution. Unafraid to say what she felt, Rose had caused us all headaches in the past, not least me and Bella. But after years of living with Rose and her thoughts, her ever constant, ever vivid human memories, it was easy to forgive her. To have to live with what she did was no easy feat, I'd seen the memories, the memories no-one but me and her knew about. Just thinking about Royce King and his cronies made me want to crack my knuckles in anticipation of a fight. With Rosalie there was an overwhelming urge to protect her, to let nothing else hurt her. Having been inside Rose's head for so long, it had brought out an instinct in me, secondary only to how I found myself trying to protect Bella, but with Bella there had been something more tangible to protect her from; James, Victoria, The Volturi, the baby. With Rose, it was all inside her head, how do you protect someone from themselves?
It was dark, so dark she knew she should have called for her father to come and walk her home, but the time had gone so quickly she hadn't thought about it. She knew these streets, and it wasn't as if it wasn't too late for her to be out alone. Anyway, soon enough she would be Mrs Royce King and have her own personal driver, so in the grand scheme of things one little walk home didn't matter. She was so distracted in her thoughts: the wedding, Vera's baby, their future, that she barely noticed Royce and his friends until it was too late. At first there was nothing to fear, the smell of alcohol on him however overwhelmed her, especially as he didn't like drinking. But it didn't unnerve her as perhaps it should have, infact she didn't think anything was out of the ordinary until Royce reached forwards and tore off her cardigan, the sound of laughter rang in her ears. She closed her eyes, thinking that would help block everything out, but it did little to help. She could still hear everything, smell, feel, infact it just heightened all her other senses. She wished they'd just kill her, anything, anything but this. To leave her alive after this was worse than murder, to live the rest of her life with these memories was more than she could bear. Eventually all her senses went dull, but still she couldn't open her eyes, too afraid of what she would see when she opened them. They'd gone, that much she was sure of, perhaps they'd left her there to die? She could only hope. How much time had passed she didn't know, but suddenly she was aware of a cool touch on her skin, she flinched, yet still did not open her eyes. Had they come back? The touch was cold, ice cold on her skin, much cooler than theirs had been.
'It's ok, you're going to be ok Rosalie, I promise you' came a voice. The voice was familiar, yet she could not place it, it was comforting and warm, something about it made her trust the man, so much so that when he lifted her body off the ground she did nothing to resist, and when he moved, it felt like he was flying through the air. Maybe this was Death? Was there a better place she was going to? She could only hope......
I looked over at Rose, her knees drawn up to her chest, she looked so vulnerable, forever young in immortality. Her hair sprawled over her knees as she hid her face, anything to hide her fear. I'd seen that memory a thousand times, yet everytime it pierced my heart,it made me more determined Bella wouldn't have this life, she wouldn't end up like Rosalie, full of regret and a lifetime of human memories to deal with.
"Ew. Someone put the dog out" said Rose, the look of disgust back on her face, her moment of weakness over.
Jake had moved back to his original seat near Rose, and it was clear her time of playing nice was now over. I retook my seat next to Bella, her feet now resting on my lap, she smiled at me before taking yet another swig from her cup, the smell burnt me once again, yet I still managed to smile back at her, however much energy it took for me.
"Have you heard this one, Psycho? How do a blonde's brain cell's die?".
I prayed that Rose wouldn't react to that, I could see her visibly biting her lip as to not give Jake the satisfaction of her anger, but it was a struggle.
"Well? Do you know the punch line or not?"
I glanced over at Bella, her eyes went between Rose and Jake, waiting to see which one would push the other the furthest. She hated pitting people against each other, she didn't realise that it was meant to be this way, that despite all her intervention and hoping, vampires and werewolves were never going to be friends.
"Has she heard it?" Jacob asked me.
I didn't want to get involved, like Bella I didn't want to get caught in the middle of what was sure to turn into a fight, but I knew Jake wouldn't give up, he really did act like a teenager sometimes.
"Awesome. So you'll enjoy this bloodsucker- a blonde's brain cell's die alone".
All of Rose's concentration was going into not killing Jacob, despite all the scenarios that were racing through her brain, all extremely tempting, even I had to admit that.
"I have killed a hundred times more often that you have, you disgusting beast. Don't forget that."
All credit to Rose, that was much nicer than the profanities that had been going through her mind, must have been for Bella's benefit.
"Someday, Beauty Queen, you're going to get tired of just threatening me. I'm really looking forward to that".
It was almost laughable to see the image of their fight from Jacob's perspective, like many before him, he underestimated not only my sister's strength but her anger, good luck to him was all I thought as from Rose I saw images of Jake being what I can only describe as tortured.
The words came from Bella, the most unlikely of sources. A small grin spread over Rose's face and I had to restrain my own, if Bella was losing patience with Jake then there was hope yet that he could leave, but then I remembered everything that had gone before. Every thought I'd seen in Jake's head, the exchanges I'd seen the two share, the pain on Bella's face, and I knew hope was all I had.
"You want me to take off?"
Bella looked hurt at the very idea, and I felt all that hope evaporate out of me, I sighed, and I knew he'd hurt me, and for once I wasn't bothered, it would be one more reason for Jake to kill me these days.
"You look tired".
"I'd like to beat you dead" muttered Rose, her voice too low for Bella's human hearing to register. Yet again I resisted the urge to laugh out loud, Jake to his credit said nothing in response, instead just moved further into the chair, a clear indication he wasn't going anywhere for a while.
"Rose, can I have some more?"
I turned to face Bella, the cup that I had refilled no more than 15 minutes before was empty, I glanced over at Rose. Bella being able to keep the blood down and her body's reaction was more than we had hoped for, but her reliance on it was not something we had wanted, and the amount she was consuming was giving Carlisle cause for concern, about what it meant for the baby? And most importantly for Bella. Rose looked at me, a split second of worry of her face before turning to Bella with a perfect smile on her face. With Rose now out of the room, Jake closed his eyes with the intention of sleeping. It was just me and Bella. Lazily I ran my finger up and down her calf, her smiling in return, a light pink blush on her cheeks, so Bella. It was the contact with Bella I had missed, feeling her pulse, her breaths, the constant reminders of her humanity. Her skin was warm beneath my icy touch, fire and ice, so juxtaposed, yet surviving together.
The voice startled me, it was so quiet that at first I thought I'd imagined it, but my hearing was impeccable and I knew I'd heard something.
"Did you say something?" I asked Bella.
She looked back at me, startled. I'm sure my face mirrored hers; confusion, puzzlement, bemusement, all mixed together.
"Me? I didn't say anything".
"What are you thinking about right now?" I asked urgently, desperately trying to make sense of all of this.
"Nothing. What's going on?" she asked.
"What were you thinking about a minute ago?"
"Just........Esme's Island's. And feathers".
Any other time I would have laughed, and admired the rosiness that now adorned Bella's face, but I was too wrapped up in the moment to even think about her answer.
"Say something else".
"Like what? Edward, what's going on?".
Mommy's upset? Mommy?..........Mommy........Love Mommy......
If I'd been human, this would have been the moment where I would have had a heart attack. None of Carlisle's medical equipment could penetrate Bella's womb, yet apparently the gift I had not 5 minutes before cursed could. The voice was androgynous, I couldn't tell Bella whether it was the boy she so desperately believed it to be. But it was there, it was real. And more importantly, it knew who Bella was. Just hearing the word 'Mommy' tore at my heart, hearing our child call Bella 'Mommy' was more than I had ever hoped for. He/she knew who she was, knew her emotions, and just like the rest of us, wanted her to be happy. Without thinking I put my hands either side of her stomach, the first time I had ever done so. My child, our child, was in there, alive, I kept replaying the voice over and over in my head, it was such a perfect sound, unlike anything I had ever heard before.
"The f-". I could barely get the words out, my emotions had the better of me. Like a bolt of lightening I suddenly understood everything Bella had done, her steadfast determination, her hope, her belief that it was all worth it. In just one moment, yet again, my whole world had turned, I'd gone from resentment to sheer love. I brushed my thumb over her protruding stomach, so full of love for both her and the child inside. The child who seemed to care about her almost as much as I did, there was nothing to fear anymore. There was no demon, no monster trying to kill her. Just a baby, a baby who like any other, knew who its mother was and loved her more than anything else in the world, what was so scary about that? "It......the baby likes the sound of your voice".
There was complete silence in the room as all the others tried to take in this new development.
"Holy crow, you can hear him!" shouted Bella, moving at the same time, the sudden movement made her wince but nothing could wipe the now ecstatic smile from her face.
Instinctively I rubbed the spot where the baby had kicked Bella, hoping to comfort the pair of them.
"Shhh. You startled it......him".
I still couldn't determine the gender, but I trusted Bella more now, now I was somewhere to understanding her love for this child, my faith in her was expanding.
Bella's eyes bugged open with wonder and awe, she then patted the exact same spot.
Mommy!...........Love Mommy. No hurt Mommy.....
"What's he thinking now?" demanded Bella.
"It.....he or she is,". I looked up at Bella and saw nothing but boundless love staring back at me. In that instant, I knew, now more than ever, that it was all going to be ok. It wasn't going to be easy, the odds were still against us, but yet, they always had been, still we'd made it this far. Was it so impossible to do this aswell? I still had doubts, but the voice that came from inside of her pushed all of those to one side, it loved her, it unconditionally loved her, just like she did, how could it go wrong? "He's happy"
Bella went to speak but the words got lost before she'd even spoken them, just like me there were no words for how she was feeling. Her eyes gleamed in a way I had not seen in weeks, and I punished myself for ever doubting her. The moment Bella had been waiting for, for me to change my mind had arrived, and as much as I knew she loved the fact the baby was happy, and knew who she was, there was something in her eyes that told me that she knew what I had just experienced. That utter shift in perspective, the protective instinct that was growing inside of me, nothing could take this away from us. Tears ran down her eyes even though she was smiling. It was all worth it, that much was clear now, every moment of panic and utter terror was now worth it, and what's more, I knew I would never regret any of this, not for these few moments, even if that was all we ever got, it was worth it.
"Of course you're happy, pretty baby, of course you are. How could you not be, all safe and warm and loved? I love you so much, little EJ, of course you're happy".
To see the pure adoration on Bella's face was the best sight in the world, nothing had ever made her this happy before. Not me, not Jacob, nothing but what was growing inside of her would ever make her smile like that.
"What did you call him?" I asked.
She blushed, as if I'd caught her out.
"I sort of named him. I didn't think you would want...well,you know".
Well that had been before, now all I could think of was this baby, of names, nurseries, clothes, toys, of holding it in my arms. Of seeing Bella cradle our child, our impossibility.
"Well your father's name was Edward, too".
"Yes it was."
Daddy? Daddy....... Daddy...... Mommy.....Mommy.......Love Mommy.
That stunned me yet again, the baby knew who I was? It knew my voice? The moment caught me, and I stayed silent for a moment. I was a Dad. An actual Dad. As in responsible for another being. Responsible for watching it grow up, evolve, to teach it the ways of the world, to protect it against anything that threatened it harm. What had previously scared me, now seemed the most natural thing in the world, and what I wanted more than anything else in the world, more than anything I wanted to be a Father.
"What?" asked Bella anxiously, her eyes fixed on me.
"He likes my voice too" I admitted with pride in my voice, the magnitude of my realisation still hitting me like a tonne of bricks.
"Of course he does. You have the most beautiful voice in the universe. Who wouldn't love it?"
I should have told her that it preferred her voice, but she wouldn't have listened, she refused to believe she could come second to me despite my constant telling her otherwise.
"Do you two have a back up plan? What if he's a she?"
Bella wiped away her tears, her smile still glowing.
"I kicked a few things around. Playing with Renee and Esme. I was thinking.... Ruh-nez-may"
Mommy. Mommy happy.
The baby adored Bella, that was evident. The voice was so full of joy whenever it spoke of her, more so than when Bella spoke of it. I loved the voice, I listened out carefully, trying to pick out a gender but there was none, none that was clear anyway.
Mommy....... Aunt Rosalie. Mommy.....Mommy.....Mommy happy.....Daddy?
Rose and Bella were talking about names but I heard none of it, all I could hear was the voice of my child, pitch perfect, advanced vocabulary, absolutely perfect. More beautiful than even Bella's voice. I couldn't wait to hold it, to see just how it had combined me and Bella, would it have her eyes? Her mahogany hair? We were both pale so that was pretty much a given, if it took after Bella then there was no doubt it would be the most beautiful child who ever existed.
Mommy, love you. Love Mommy.
"What? What's he thinking now?"
I didn't answer Bella, at least not at first, instead I leant in closer to her, so close my ear was touching her belly. The distance wasn't really a factor, least not with me hearing it. I just wanted to be closer, to make up for all last time, to enjoy this moment, to cherish it forever, with my child.
"He loves you. He absolutely adores you."
I'd been so caught up in Bella and the baby, I'd forgotten that Jacob was there. His thoughts overtook the baby's in my head, his anger, his feeling of betrayal. I could almost feel his pain, he did nothing to hide it. Unlike the rest of us who wore smiles, he wore his grimace for the world to see. Any other time I would have taken pity on Jacob, but now, there was nothing more I could do. The people who mattered most to me were right here, and I wasn't going to go looking for redemption in Jacob Black anymore, my perspective had changed. But I knew his hadn't, nothing could make him feel this way about the baby, and I couldn't expect him too, this baby meant nothing to him, especially if it killed Bella, to him it was just still a monster. I watched him become more and more contorted with pain to a point where I could no longer stand it and I was no longer sure he was in control. I moved instantly to the end table, picking up the keys to the Aston Martin and threw them at him.
"Go, Jacob. Get away from here".
That was the best he could do now, to get as far away from here as he could get, that was his only chance of getting over the pain of Bella, the baby, the road his life had taken. I wouldn't take the blame anymore, not when I had so much more to concentrate on. What was here beneath my fingers was all that mattered anymore, nothing else