Disclaimer: James Wright. Twilight.
Author's Note: Post-jump scene take five billion and two. Enjoy! Unbeta-ed.
they too must have slept all night with their eyes open
You look small, curled up on the couch, wet hair plastered to your forehead, neck, cheek. You're asleep, hands pressed to your chest. I watch the steady rise and fall of your breaths, how they stutter and shake from your lips. I'm sure everything in you is chapped, that breathing's hard.
I almost drowned once, when I was younger. I know the feeling of sandpaper lungs and a scratchy throat. I know what it's like to kick and fight the crushing waves of the Pacific, to swallow the salt water and give up. I want to wake you up, take your small hand in mine and tell you all about my experience.
I was seven, and it was three months after my mom's death. A car crash, nothing exciting. No monsters, no magic, just a drunk driver. A simple car crash that left my mom dead and dad paralyzed.
I don't even know what I was doing on the beach, I can't remember. All I know is that the waves were calling to me, so I walked in. They pushed me back at first, and then the sea was pulling me in. I let it.
You'd probably understand. Maybe not.
Your chest stills momentarily, and so does mine. Then you cough, and my heart resumes its beating. Every bit of me is dripping with relief, and I want to take you in my arms, hold you closer than I ever have before. I want every nerve and cell of your body pressed against me, want you to soak into my skin, take up residence under my flesh.
I reach out, brush the hair from your forehead. Your skin is clammy, pale--like the white of stars and pearls. There's the lightest of flushes to your cheeks, and my fingers trace the faint blooms. You stir under the brush of my fingers, face turning into my touch. I feel like crying as the softest of sighs escapes your mouth.
I wonder briefly if you know how much you mean to me? Do you know that I nearly died on that beach, too? My heart stopped, literally stopped. Everything narrowed down to you, and I can't even remember my thought process. All I can recall is a vague whine in my mind, a voice repeating, over and over, pleasepleaseplease. Then your eyes shot open, and you rolled onto your side and wretched out sea water.
You were the most gorgeous thing I've ever seen.
I trace the line of your nose, dance my fingers across your brows and the cupid's bow of your upper lip. Your lashes flutter, and then you're staring up at me. Your eyes are dark, sad and asking for forgiveness.
"Hey," I whisper. Anything louder would be too much right now.
"Hi," you manage to rasp out. The faintest of grins ghosts across your lips before you frown, eyebrows slopping into a 'v'. Your tiny hand unfurls from your chest. I follow its path as it comes up to cup my cheek. "You saved me."
I nod solemnly, turn my face to kiss the soft flesh of your palm. "Yes."
You grin again, the quickest flash of teeth, then coo "My hero."
The way your voice sound, all soft and faint, still rough from swallowing the sea, makes my heart shudder. I'm not sure whether I should laugh or cry, instead reach up and slowly twine my fingers with yours.
"Bella," I murmur. "Tell me what happened."
Your eyes widen briefly before shutting tightly. You try to pull your hand back, but I tighten my grip. I watch as your whole body begins to shake, and then you're crying. Great, big sobs that seem to make the whole house quiver. Your pain is mine, and each cry and pitiful utterance from your throat tears at my heart.
I keep a firm hold on your hand, don't move in to hug you to me. Crying like this, you don't need to be held, but need something to hold on to. I know it's not much, keeping your hand in mine, but it's all I have to offer at the moment. I hope it's enough.
Your sobs begin to slow; your body begins to stop its trembling. I loosen my grip on your hand, and realize that you're holding on to me fiercely, knuckles white. Your free hand sweeps across my cheek, the lightest of caresses, and I'm surprised to find that I've been crying too.
"I'm sorry," you say softly. "I didn't mean to hurt you. Scare you."
"It's okay," I answer, shoulders rising in a heavy shrug. Your eyes drift away from mine, and the quiet of the house settles over us. The radiator continues its fight against the cold, and outside the rain falls heavy on the earth. I turn to the window. It's dark out, the road silent and empty.
"I hurt," your tone is hushed, but I can feel the pain in your words, the relief of finally being able to share your burden. "I hurt all the time. There's this hole in my chest, this big, gaping hole. Sometimes I feel like I'm suffocating, as if the world and time have stopped and everything is being sucked into this single point. And there I am, right in its path."
Your breath catches, and I watch as your eyes shut slowly. You grimace, and my face mimics the expression. The weight on your chest, well, it rests on mine too.
"When…when they left everything stopped. Time meant nothing, meaning ceased to exist. I disappeared. I became numb. It was the only way I could deal with being left behind. I shut down, but even then I still hurt."
I swallow thickly. I want to comfort you, but I don't know how. I don't know what to say, what to do. What's considered appropriate at a time like this? Do I pull you towards my chest, offer cheap words, It will be okay. You'll be okay. Am I supposed to give some inspiring speech on grief and loss, moving on and hope. I can't. I'm not good with word. I don't know what to do. I've never dealt with something like this before, so I settle on keeping your hand wrapped securely in mine.
"I feel like I'm breaking apart most days. You help me, you know. When I'm with you I can almost forget I'm broken. I don't know if—Thank you, Jacob."
I give your hand the briefest of squeezes, and the corners of your mouth lift for only a moment.
"And today, I just—" You pause, eyes opening. Your gaze finds mine, and I'm frozen. "I hear his voice, when I'm not careful. And he was screaming at me, yelling at me to stop. But I couldn't. I had to hear him, and so I jumped."
My heart stills for one agonizing moment, and then resumes in double time. From deep within me, a tiny flicker of anger ignites. It grows, spreads hot across my chest. I'm surprised to find myself getting angry. Is this what I'm supposed to be feeling? Is this right, or normal? Shouldn't I just be happy and grateful that you're alive?
"I tried to fight the waves," you continue, unaware of the anger licking its way up my throat. "I did. But I couldn't do much, they kept pushing me down. I got tired. God, was I tired. So I stopped. I quit fighting, and I wanted the ocean to take me. Because that meant the hurting would stop, and that's all I've wanted since he left."
"You're selfish," I find myself spitting out. You flinch, pull your hand quickly from mine.
"What? Jake, no. I—"
I scoff, glare down at your tiny frame on the couch. "Did you even stop to think? I mean, did you consider how what you did would affect Charlie at all? Your mom? My dad, the pack, the kids at school? Did you even care how I'd feel?"
"I can't—I don't—Jesus, Bella. I can't even think clearly, let alone speak. Do you know how much I hurt? Do you know I nearly died out there on the beach? You can't, you can't just go around doing things like that and expect no one to care."
"Jake, please, I—"
"No," I bite out, shaking my head as a tremor rocks down my spine. "No. Just…just let me talk, okay?"
"Okay," you answer, voice feather light. I sigh, and a bit of my anger begins to melt away, roll down my back. I reach forward, knuckles brushing across your cheek. You're crying; tiny, silent tears that leave little dark spots on the seat cushion. I take a deep breath, hold it for as long as I'm able, and let it out.
"Okay," I repeat, my voice just as quiet.
Neither of us speaks. The house groans in the cold, settles down for the night. The hum of the radiator is the loudest sound at the moment, beat only by an occasional sniffle from you. I'm still angry, pissed, mad, whatever. How you could even—If I had been a moment too late. Do you even know that—
"I'm mad at you," I whisper, leaning in close to your face. Pale and beautiful. "I'm mad at you for doing what you did, for not talking to me, for giving up. I'm probably going to be angry with you for a long time, but that doesn't mean I'm not happy you're okay. I am. Beyond happy, actually."
"I just, I wish this had never happened. I wish you'd talked to me. Told me how you felt. I could have helped. I would have tried." My voice cracks, and I'm annoyed with myself for feeling embarrassed over that.
"Oh, Jake," you murmur, dark lashes brushing your cheeks as you blink sleepily up at me. "It's not your fault."
I drop my head, rest it on the edge of the sofa, and let out a tired sigh. All of me is tired, aches with the feeling. "I could have done more. You shouldn't have felt so alone."
Your small hands slide across the cushion, fingers dancing lightly across my forehead. They flit their way over the back of my head, sending warm shivers through my being, and brush the backs of my ears. My anger disappears at your touch, and my whole body sags with relief. The feeling drips from me, drownsthe room in a pool of relief and gratitude that you're okay.
You're alive. There's pink in your cheeks, and you're touching me. Tiny hands holding the sides of my face, forcing my head up. Your eyes are wet with tears, and you're smiling. How can you be smiling?
"Jacob Black," you command firmly. "You will not feel guilty about this. You did everything you could, okay?"
I nod, and your face breaks into the most breath taking smile. "Good. Because things will get better. We're going to be okay."
I feel like crying. This moment, this exact instance, in the living room of my house, rain pounding outside, the radiator hard at work, this is when I know. I love you, completely and wholly. Just you. The thought slips forward from somewhere deep in my mind. No fireworks, no fanfare. No chorus of angels singing hallelujah. Only simple fact, a casual observation. It's dark out. I love you.
We're going to be okay.