If Breaking Dawn didn't float your boat, or you can't get past Bella and Edward having a child and/or Jacob imprinting on that child, this is not the story for you. Please hit your "Back" button now, thanks.

Further, if you don't like Jacob, now would be a good time to find something else to read.

Lastly, there will most likely be an M rating on this fic in future, but the story has to go there before I'll change the rating. In other words, it'll probably take a while before the smut happens. Hope you can bear with me for it.

That's it – the last of my pre-story warnings. If you're still here and ready for some fun, thanks for reading along!

2012 Edit - If you're here via the rec from LJ on Fictionators, thank you so much for coming over to read! I hope you enjoy this little look into the future.


Preface

It all came down to choices – easy ones, hard ones, impossible ones. And in the end, the choice was left to me. They gave me that much.

As I stood staring, watching the rise and fall of her tiny back as she slept, I made the most impossible choice of them all. I chose to let her live, let her grow, with her choices her own.

Something I'd been denied since the moment the gene was triggered and my body phased from human to wolf.

I folded myself in half to touch my lips to the top of her head. "Sleep well, my Nessie. I'll be back in the morning."

Back. Yes, I'd be back. Nothing would change, not really. I'd still be her big brother or her best friend. Whichever she needed.

Until such a time that she chose to change that. Of her own accord and not because of any obligation she felt pressed to accept.

Because she'd never know it existed.

Chapter 1

It hadn't been an easy life.

Something about the fact that my parents were vampires made that inevitable.

I often thought, during the tedium of my classes, what it would be like if one day I introduced myself in front of a new class with a true introduction?

"Hi. I'm Renesmee Cullen, though I'm registered here as Vanessa Masen. Have to be, you see, because my brother, the striking boy over there? He's really my father. Married Bella, the beautiful girl attached to his hip, when she was eighteen and he was one hundred and four. See, they're vampires. Well, Mom wasn't when she got pregnant, but she is now..."

It was a fun diversion. Especially when I got to the part where my classmates started running pell mell for the exits.

I didn't remember much about those early days, the first few months of my life, but who did? Granted I had a more advanced mind that my so-called peers, but even with that, the memories of those first few months were hazy and vague. From what I'd been able to piece together about that time, I didn't think it was a bad thing that I couldn't remember much of it. That hadn't been a happy time in my family's history.

But we'd moved past the difficult time and settled into the mundane, every day existence we lived now.

Or, at least, as mundane as a houseful of vampires and one vampire/human hybrid could live.

No one had really wanted to leave the Forks house, but nearly four years of near seclusion there had made it necessary. We'd traveled extensively during those four years, but I knew the chance of a run-in with others they'd known before I was born plagued their minds. And for good reason. None of them looked any different and I…well, I didn't look like any four year old, but I did look too much like my dad.

It had taken six months to put everything in place. Grandpa C was in his new job (pediatrician this time), Esme renovating the beautiful, if needy, estate house (complete with crumbling outbuildings) we'd found; and Mom, Dad and I were enrolled in the local high school. Aunt Rosalie hadn't been ready to run that gambit again, so she and Uncle Em, and Uncle Jasper and Aunt Alice were playing college students this go-round.

Mom, Dad and I had been a bit more difficult. I knew the convoluted stories that had been the cover stories for my aunts, uncles and father in the past, but that wouldn't work this time. Dad and I looked too much alike and Mom and Dad? They'd have a scandal on their hands that would put vampirism to shame if they tried to act like siblings.

In the end, we'd decided that Dad and I would pose as twins, Edward and Vanessa Masen, and Mom would be another adopted orphan, Bella Cullen. Mom hadn't wanted to give up the Cullen name. Dad, naturally, had grinned like an idiot for days about that one.

There was only one downside to our relocation. For me, at least. And for Mom.

Jacob.

Even though we were only a hundred or so miles away and I saw him on the weekends, I still missed him. I was too accustomed to seeing him every day as I had for the first five years of my life. We talked on the phone and texted each other every day (sometimes more), but it wasn't the same as having him close enough to just drop in whenever I wanted to see him.

It wasn't as if I was pining for older male company, or a big strong hug when I'd had a lousy day – my father, uncles, and grandfather were always up for a round of "try and squish Ness to death," but it wasn't the same. Never would be. They were my family and Jake was...well, he was my Jake. There wasn't any other way to describe it than that.

Thankfully, I never needed to. Everyone else seemed to get it just fine.

It hadn't been easy at first though. There'd once been a treaty that had kept my family off of Quileute lands, a treaty set in motion eons ago. Back in the early 1900s, I think. Until Mom and Jake became friends. Of course, that was also around the same time Mom and Dad were falling in love. Still, the treaty hadn't been an insurmountable problem. Then Dad and Jake started fighting.

Over Mom.

Natch.

For most of its existence, the treaty had just been some invisible border out in the trees with a big, virtual "No Cullens Allowed" sign over it. And no one much bothered. It wasn't as if the mountains around Forks, or anywhere else in running distance for super-speedy vampires, didn't provide ample dietary staples. As far as I knew, the Reservation wasn't rife with the vampire version of champagne and caviar. Just the usual – elk, deer, the occasional lost moose – so avoiding that area when they hunted wasn't really a big hardship for my family.

No blood, no foul as Dad sometimes said.

But then, right around the time Mom, Dad and Jake were going through…whatever they'd gone through, the treaty suddenly became a Very Big Deal. Everyone and their brother would whip it out at opportune moments to make a point, or counter someone else's.

It was all still pretty confusing to me because no one liked to talk about that part of my life with me much. From what I've gathered, it wasn't pleasant for anyone, so I didn't push too hard.

The upside was that after I was born, or, rather after the Volturi left, the treaty had been rewritten. The Cullens were still forbidden to bite humans, though I got the impression that was just added as a technicality; the packs knew the Cullens well enough now to know we didn't go around nibbling on random humans for fun. The Cullens were also still forbidden from crossing onto Quileute lands – with the exception of Mom, Dad, and me. The packs had, apparently, accepted that Mom and Jake would always be friends and that Dad and I would just naturally follow her wherever she went.

Besides, it made things easier if we didn't have to be escorted whenever we wanted to visit him, which was, at least in my case, a lot.

Take right now, for instance. I wanted nothing more than to leave school today and try to duck down to LaPush. Just to see him for a bit. I was pretty sure I could make the trip there and back in a night. I might not run as fast as my parents, but it wasn't that far. And if I took Mom's car I could go even faster…

Across the lunch table, I heard my father growl.

Back to reality.

"Easy, Dad," I muttered around the salad I was toying with just as Mom said, "Hush, Edward." I felt the table move when she kicked his leg.

"You're not running all over the state just to drop in on Jacob, young lady," he hissed at me, eyes on the bagel he'd just ripped to shreds.

"I don't see why not," I hissed back.

"It's a school night," he offered lamely.

"Like that ever stopped you," Mom grinned back, leaning over to whisper something in his ear. I couldn't hear what she said, but it effectively ended that conversation. One whispered comment from Mom and my father's world narrowed down to her, just as her world narrowed to him at times.

It had always been like that and I was used to their bickering as well as the meaningful stares that always came after. Thosestares were the reason I'd asked for a room at the main house as well as one in our little cottage. Just like in Forks. Mom had protested at first, not wanting to be separated. Then I'd shown her, in my own way, what life was sometimes like in my room at the cottage. She made it three seconds into the image I showed her before she backed away with a sheepish smile...and helped me decorate my second bedroom.

One of the girls in my French class waved from across the room, motioning me over. I looked back at my parents who were now having a private but intense conversation with their eyes. I left them, towing my salad along with me, knowing they'd not miss me. When they stared like that, the floor could burst into flames beneath them and they'd never notice.

"Hey Ness."

"Hi Kat," I smiled, moving a chair out with my foot and taking the seat next to her. "What's up?"

"Not much," she said in a tone that implied the opposite. "Just thought you'd want a break from your brother and his girlfriend. They're doing it again."

"Yeah, I know," I sighed dramatically, keeping my face blank. It wasn't easy.

"I swear. They keep that up and the cafeteria's going to go up in flames just from the side effects," Sydney chimed in from across the table.

They all joked, but I could hear what was behind their words. Pure, unadulterated envy. Even my own voice wasn't immune. Watching soulmates was never a peaceful experience to those still without theirs; it was even worse for those who didn't have a prayer of finding one.

"Annnyway," Kat broke in. "I heard a little rumor between Trig and English, Ness. It looks like you'll be getting a phone call sometime in the next few days," she grinned, "or hours." She let the statement settle around the table for a moment before dropping the bomb. She turned to Sydney and stage-whispered, "it seems someone's caught the new boy's eye."

A shock of giggling descended. Because it was, in fact, a high school cafeteria, no one paid any attention.

"Trey Phillips?" Sydney exclaimed over the hand clutched to her mouth, "he's absolutely gorgeous, Ness! Blond hair, and his eyes…" She pressed a hand to her chest and fluttered her eyes dramatically, "absolutely deadly."

I just rolled my eyes when she fluttered hers. Surrounded as I was by the perfected forms of my uncles and grandfather, and especially Jake, physical looks were pretty far down on my list of priorities when it came to what appealed to me. I also knew, from meeting others of my parents kind, that physical beauty was no guarantee that the beauty lay within as well.

"He told Daniel he wasn't into dating, though," Sydney commented after a moment's silent contemplation and a few furtive glances towards the boy in question.

"That's what Alex said, too," Kat agreed, both of them speaking as if their boyfriend's combined word was something close to gospel. "Guess he changed his mind once he saw you, Ness."

"Oh, please," I sighed, tossing an empty straw wrapper at her. "More likely he caught a look at Bella and figures I'm the best way to get close to her."

Kat scowled. "I dunno. I mean, sure, Bella's gorgeous, but one look at your brother and I'm pretty sure any guy would back off quick."

I cocked my head to the side, hearing something in her words, and with Dad otherwise involved, I knew he wasn't listening for suspicions. "What do you mean?"

"Look at them, Ness," Kat grinned, waving a hand in my parent's direction, "you think any boy at this school thinks he's got a prayer of stealing Bella away?"

"Not to mention," Sydney piped up, "I mean, no offense and all, but your brother's a little intimidating, you know?"

I made a mental note to tell Dad to keep an eye on Sydney, but I didn't think it was that vital. Dad was intimidating, especially when anyone male so much as smiled at Mom. I heard him mutter about a guy named Mike once, but then Mom laughed, Dad growled, and they both ran off together. They didn't come back for several hours and the forest behind the cottage looked as though it had lost at least two trees. I didn't bring the subject up again.

My thoughts must have finally penetrated Dad's absorption with Mom because I heard a very distinct sound from two tables away. Thankfully, the bell's ring covered the hiss and I was able to say a quick goodbye to my friends before heading him off.

"Which one's Trey?" he asked before I could even open my mouth. I sighed. Trust him to pick that out of my head rather than a possibly suspicious friend.

"Dad," I said under my breath, my hand on his chest. "Deep breaths, all right? Ripping his head off in the English hallway would be the opposite of inconspicuous."

Mom said nothing, but she started to chew on her lip. So much for an ally there.

Dad was the first to come back to the here and now, looking around the cafeteria and scowling when he found it empty. "We'll talk about this when we get home, baby girl," he added softly, using my childhood nickname because he knew it would soften the frown on my face. And, of course, it did.

"For now, get to class. And good luck on the Biology test," he added, snaking his arm around Mom's waist and steering her towards their phys ed class. "I've got to go keep your mother from cutting a swathe of destruction through our gym class with her basketball skills."

I laughed then, because while Mom had become as graceful as most vampires were after her transformation, any type of sport was still a nightmare. Especially if a ball, bat, or racket was involved.

She was still punching him in the side as they walked towards their class and I headed off to mine.


The sound of a thousand popsicle sticks hitting the kitchen floor was followed almost immediately by a long stream of the most colorful swear words I'd heard this far away from a Quileute bonfire party.

I glanced over at Uncle Jasper from behind the fridge door, my brow furrowed. It was the second time in twenty minutes that his Architecture project, a scale model of the Forks house, had hit the floor. As a rule, vampires weren't this clumsy.

I shut the fridge door, wondering what could be wrong with my uncle when I heard a phone buzz from somewhere in the house. It wasn't mine, but I jumped anyway.

The few sticks Uncle Jasper had managed to put back in place clattered to the floor.

"Oh for fuck's sake! All right, Ness, want to tell me just what the hell is going on?"

My head popped up over the apple I'd taken out, but hadn't bitten into yet. "What?"

"I've been as jumpy as a cat in a bathtub ever since you got home from school and I'd like to know why," his expression was glaring, but his eyes twinkled behind it. "You failing a class? Ditching school?" He winked. "Going after the humans on the sly?"

I rolled my eyes at him. "Uncle Jazz…."

"Well, it's got to be something. Every time a phone rings somewhere, you jump yourself almost to the ceiling. I'm amazed there aren't claw marks up there," he grinned again, his mouth opening as if he'd had a sudden realization. "You know, I've had more than my share of experiences with high school emotions, and there's only one logical conclusion here," he paused and grinned at me, "can I be the one to tell Edward a boy is calling?"

I felt the blood heat my cheeks. I'd inherited my mom's tendency to do this and envied, once again, my mother's inability to do it anymore. To hide my mortification, I tossed the apple in my hand at him. He caught it, naturally, which made me scowl more.

"I'm going to take that as a yes," he grinned.

"Dad already knows, Uncle Jazz," I commented, rolling my eyes. I was trying for nonchalance. Should have known that was about as pointless as outrunning Dad – especially around my uncle.

"He might know the call is coming," he grinned, breaking the apple into four pieces and juggling them easily, "but I doubt he knows you're nervous enough about it to head for human food."

Uncle Jasper was still juggling the apples as he headed out of the kitchen, his architectural project forgotten and a laugh in his voice as he called my father's name.

I sighed and smacked my hands over my face. "Oh, wonderful," I sighed.


n - how'd the bio test go?

great. think i managed a b

a b? your dads gonna flip

kidding jake. aced it. hows laP?

My thumbs paused over the keys. Miserable. Lonely. Wretched. Empty. All of those fit, of course, but I couldn't send them.

great. leahs at 3 weeks not phasd now and emilys getting huge

When Ness didn't reply back at once, I slipped the phone into my pocket and bent back over my current car reconstruction. I wasn't quite lame enough to stand staring at a cell phone like a zombie, waiting for a response.

Close, but not quite.

The car was going faster than I'd ever managed, including the speed-building I'd done with Bella's and my bikes. The by-product of having entirely too much time on my hands. I'd decided to start rebuilding another about three hours after they'd left for Seattle the first time. Actually, Billy'd helped with the decision to start on another car – when I was given a choice of finding something to do or have him ask Paul to hamstring me to stop all the damned pacing.

I grumbled as I tinkered with the engine. At least it was Thursday. One more day and the Cullens would be back in Forks. One more day.

Course, that only made me grumble more. Not long ago, I would have thrown another bonfire party when the bloodsuckers left and considered their return a black day, indeed. Now I was counting the days until they returned every time they headed to Seattle. Pathetic.

I was just about to mess with the carburetor when my phone buzzed again.

Sorry. Phonecall & now aa wants to shop luv u

My first response was a chuckle, of course Shortie wanted to shop. When didn't she? But then my eyes focused on those last two words. I brushed a thumb over the display. "Love you, too, Ness."

"Jacob?"

I turned, jumping at the sudden sound in my normally empty garage. "God, Rach. Could you wear a bell or cough or something? Don't just…turn up. I nearly had a heart attack."

"Right, little brother. Because that'd happen. You must've been pretty absorbed in that text to not hear me coming," she commented, staring at the pocket where my cell phone now rested.

I ignored her comment and leaned over the car's hood to ruffle her hair. "So what drags you away from hearth and home this evening? Paul finally driving you as batshit crazy as he drives the rest of us?"

"Nope. Just worried about my brother, the one Dad says spends nearly every waking minute in this very garage pounding bits of metal into submission as if they're about to up and revolt against him."

"Don't know what you're talking about," I muttered, wiping my grease stained hands on my jeans. "I just don't like sitting around and doing nothing. You'd rather I, what, go sofa spud? Work on my fantasy football team?"

"Jake, that's not what I mean and you know it. I mean, it's rare enough to find you human these days and when you are, you're in here. When are you going to tell them that enough's enough? That you want your chance with Ness?"

The wrench in my hand bent with the force of my grip. "Stay out of it, Rachel," I ground out between my teeth.

"No, I won't stay out of it. You know Paul won't tell me anything about what you think with your pack-mind thing, but damn it all, I can read my husband, and I can read you, and I know it's eating you up."

"What part of stay out of it did you miss? Do I need to use smaller words?"

Rachel, too used to me to be put off in the slightest by my sarcasm, merely crossed her arms and huffed at me. "Fine, Jake. Enjoy the misery. I brought dinner over for you and Dad. Eat some of it, all right?"

She was gone before I looked back up. "Thanks for trying, Rach. You just don't understand."

She couldn't understand, no one could - at least, no one here. Here, they were all happily together. Imprint and imprinted. Sam and Emily, expecting their second child and Sam two years past his last phase. Jared and Kim, Paul and Rachel, revoltingly happy newlyweds. Embry and Maia, Seth and Jade, newly imprinted and in the flush of new love. Hell, even Quil and Clare were disgustingly content in their big brother/little sister mode.

Together. Every day. While Ness was a hundred miles away the majority of the time.

The bent wrench flew across the garage and punched a hole through the wall opposite me.

If it weren't for bad luck, I wouldn't have any luck at all.

"It was your choice," I muttered to myself. True as it was, the thought brought no comfort with it at all. I missed her like a drowning man missed oxygen.

Once, a very long time ago, I'd watched as Bella would wrap her arms around her torso whenever her mind conjured up images of Edward. She'd told me it was the only way she had of keeping herself together.

Over the past 18 months, I'd come to understand that action a lot more than I ever had then. It was, without a doubt, the crappiest feeling in the world.

It was stupid, really. Sitting here miserable, living for the two days a week I got to see her, like some pathetic puppy waiting for its master to come home. Pathetic. Degrading.

It didn't help that I could see Blondie's smirk in my mind at the puppy reference.

I started pacing again.

Okay, so. So what if I'd made the decision myself? I was entitled to change my mind, wasn't I? After all, Quil wasn't banging his head onto walls over the fact that he'd imprinted on a child, was he? No. He was happily going about his life – granted that life included more Hannah Montana than should be allowable by law, but still. He was with Claire.

"That's it," I announced to the empty garage. "I'm heading straight up there and…"

Before I could finish the thought, Ness' face swam into my mind. A different face than the open, happy and smiling one I usually saw. The one she wore in my mind was one was doubtful, questioning, with a hint of her father's skepticism.

The face she'd wear if she wasn't sure whether what she felt was real or just what was expected. No matter which way I spun it, Ness had too much of her mother in her – and Bella would always strive for what was expected, what would make others happy.

Did I really want Ness that way?

I'd had just about every major choice in my life taken away from me, forced on me by birthrights and situations outside of my control.

Did I really want that for Ness?

Another tool, screwdriver this time, went sailing through the garage wall. I heard it lodge in one of the nearby trees with a thud, but didn't go to retrieve it. Because the answer to either question hadn't changed since I'd watched her sleep that night six years ago.

I didn't want that. No matter how horrible it was here without her, I would not force her into something she didn't want. I would not try to force her decision.

I might not be the sharpest set of claws in the pack, but I had learned that lesson well.