Okay, amazing fans of my writing. Here's the deal. I'm updating some/most/all of the prior chapters of this story. No HUGE changes that I'm aware of right now; just some minor tweaking/editing. I will also be finishing this story! Yes, I'm finally finishing.
What I've decided to do is end this story at a place where it makes sense. Then I will complete my other two stories I'm working on and come back for a SEQUEL. You WILL get a vampire baby in the sequel, I can guarantee it.
Thank you all so much for your patience with me during the updates that have at times taken FOREVER. I appreciate it greatly.
Also I hope that you do take some time to read my other works Emmett's Undoing & Becoming Bella. They are NOTHING like this story because I do like to experiment with my writing. That also means Bella gets to experiment as well.
Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight, any of the characters in Twilight, or anything related to the books and/or movies. If I did, I would be way too busy- doing dirty things with the Cullen boys- to sit down at my laptop and write this story. The scenes and general plot ideas that I did borrow from Stephenie Meyer have been revamped to fit my story.
Learning to Live Again
Chapter One: Unlikely Companion
I stared up at the moon. Even in all my pain, all my numbness, all my regret and self-loathing, I noticed that it lit the night sky beautifully. It was sparkling. Sparkling in the night the way that he did in the sunlight. I could literally feel the hole in my chest growing bigger, becoming pure space. There was nothing left to me.
No more tears came, and I did not know why. Maybe I had no more tears to shed. Maybe it wasn't worth crying over anymore. Or maybe I had known all along that this day would eventually come. Not every love story had a 'happily ever after.' What made mine so special? I was just another teenager in love with the wrong boy.
This wasn't the only reason for the sudden stop to my tears. I felt his presence without needing to look up from my position on forest floor. I was still lying on my side with my legs curled tightly into my chest. I'm sure that I resembled a drowned rat, but I couldn't find enough feeling in me to care right now. I had never been one to be concerned with my appearance anyway; why start now? Jasper didn't care what I looked like. He knew the state that he would find me in.
"Bella," he whispered as he crouched in front of me. I didn't move, didn't bother to look up at him. Jasper- being the ever patient vampire that he was- reached down with his left hand and moved the strands of hair from my face. I couldn't feel the cold of his skin anymore. "I'm sorry."
I didn't want to speak, I didn't want to feel, I didn't want to see anyone right now. He knew this, of course. Jasper could feel everything that I was or was not feeling at this moment… at every moment. I did not envy the ability that he brought to the Cullen family.
My former family. They had made the decision to leave me behind. They had pretended to love me for the past year, made me fall in love with all of them- even Rosalie. Now they were off to bigger and better things. I was stuck here in Forks, crumbling into a shell of my former self. The minutes had turned to hours, aging me slowly.
"Please stop," Jasper whispered, his slight southern accent begging me. "Please stop blaming yourself, hating yourself. It hurts me so much, Bella." He stayed crouched beside me, but we were no longer touching. I blinked once, trying to focus on his face. He looked pained, confused- just like me. "I don't understand all that you're feeling right now," he continued, gauging my reaction as only he could. "It's all so strong but it's also jumbled. I was halfway to the Canadian border and I could feel your emotions exploding. I told Alice that I was going hunting, because I'm not supposed to be here. We all promised him that we would leave you be. I couldn't just let you stay here and feel this way, though. This is all my doing."
I heard all that he said but did not respond. I had nothing to say. I felt nothing- was nothing- so I had nothing left to offer. I had no opinions, no thoughts, and no views. At some point during his explanation of how he came to be in the forest with me, he had guided me into a sitting position where I was leaning against a tree trunk. I didn't even know he was doing this until he had already done so. No control over my own body.
"Please say something, Bella. Let me know that you can hear me, that you understand what I'm saying to you." He was begging again. "Even if it's only to yell at me or to curse me."
I lifted my eyes from the ground and looked into his. They were not black anymore. He had hunted, so now they were gold. They were beautiful again. I spoke as he recoiled from my gaze; I told you there was nothing left to me. He couldn't even bare to look at my emptiness, my shell. "I don't understand anything anymore, Jasper." He didn't speak, so I continued. "I don't know what's happening or what I'm feeling or what I'll do now. I knew that he was keeping something from me, but I never expected it was this. I didn't think that you all would leave me. I wasn't prepared."
"I know that you weren't, Bella. That's why I had to come back. When Edward told us what he had decided, we were all in shock. None of us wanted to leave, especially Edward and Alice. Carlisle told us that it was ultimately Edward's decision. I know that it's because of how I reacted the other night, though. I'm so sorry for my actions." Jasper couldn't look me in the eyes anymore and was now staring at the wet ground of the forest.
"It's not your fault, Jasper. We all know that I'm a klutz, and I never expected you to try and hide who you are. I would never want any of you to do that! I love all of you so much for the persons that you were when you were human and the persons that you are now as vampires. I love you all as individuals and as a family. I loved you as my family." I finished my rambling in a whisper. I couldn't remember where I was leading my conversation, so I chose not to finish instead.
"You are our family, Bella. Please don't doubt that. Don't doubt yourself. We all think of you as a part of our family," he tried to explain. It didn't make sense.
"How can you even say that with a straight face?" He looked shocked. I immediately regretted causing that reaction in Jasper; however, I couldn't stop myself. "You don't hurt your family like this, Jasper! You don't leave one of your own behind in pain… confused and hurt. Imagine doing that to Alice, Jasper. Could you live with yourself? If you left her heart-broken and lonely?!" The tears were streaming down my cheeks again.
"I could never, Bella!" he yelled back at me. He was standing right in front of me now, hands barely grazing my arms, making sure that I looked into his eyes. "And I'm not doing it to you, either. I came back, didn't I?" His voice was barely a whisper, but I could feel the emotions in it as much as he could feel my own.
"Why are you the only one?" I sobbed out, collapsing against him.
"Because it had to be me, Bella. Edward's keeping a close eye on Alice, Esme and Carlisle are trying to keep the family together, Rosalie is oblivious… Emmett's feeling too betrayed to act," he rationalized. I knew that he wasn't finished. "It had to be me, because… well, it was my mistake to fix."
"I'm not something for you to fix, Jasper. I'm not a car, I can't be fixed. I- I will never run right again," I said with an exhausted shrug.
Before Jasper could respond, he turned quickly and placed himself in a crouched position in front f me. I couldn't hear anything, but it was obvious that he was listening to someone or something in the woods. "It's late. Your father has a search party looking for you."
"I don't want to be found." I looked at the ground again, wishing that I could somehow sink into it and stay there forever. Forever. That word once held so much promise for me, so much love, and so much opportunity. Now it was a threat.
"You have to be found, Bella. You have to go back to the normal life you had before you got dragged into our freak show." Jasper grabbed my arms and pulled me up with him. He didn't let go; I didn't have the strength to stand on my own feet.
"I can't lose you too, Jasper. It's not fair." I reached out and grabbed his hands in my own, not letting him move away from me. I was desperate to not lose all of them. I couldn't bear the loneliness that would result. I had been the product of a broken family once; I didn't believe that I could survive it a second time.
He seemed to be having some sort of inward struggle as well. Jasper didn't want to leave me in pain but felt an obligation to his wishes. His wishes that I were left all alone. Unprotected. Unable to care for myself. Unloved. Unwanted.
"I won't leave you tonight, Bella," he said with surety in his voice. He had made his own decision. "I'll meet you at your house in an hour. That will give you enough time to reassure Charlie that you're okay and get cleaned up. We'll figure this out, Bella."
I blinked again and Jasper was gone. I stood there, suddenly feeling the cold of the weather and rain. I felt pain coursing through my entire body and immediately regretted not moving for the past few hours. I felt a wave of comfort wash over me, reassurance from Jasper that he would meet me tonight. I had never appreciated his gift so much; he knew what I was feeling and how to make the pain and doubt more bearable.
I slowly and tentatively took a step forward, toward the yells of my name and the beams of light coming from what had to be flashlights. I tried to yell out to them, but my voice wouldn't work anymore. I trudged forward slowly, wincing with every movement. My legs trailed behind me slower than my body, feeling like pins and needles were being pushed into me. When I had walked a few yards from where I had been lying in a heap of misery, I saw my father walk through a path between two tall trees.
Charlie's face brightened with the discovery of his only daughter. He rushed over to me, slipping out of his police jacket and sliding it over my shoulders. As soon as I saw my father, tears started spilling from my eyes again and I fell against his taller frame, once again demanding support.
I did still have a family to think about. Although a huge part of my life had abandoned me, there was Charlie and Renee and Phil to think about. I needed to take care of myself for them… not because he had asked me to. I allowed a small but brief smile to cross my lips when I felt Charlie scoop me up into his arms and walk us toward our home.