Title: A Madman's Mercy (Ch 1)

Authors: Amethyst Jackson and Jacyevans

Rating: M/NC-17

Category: Angst, Drama

Pairing: Edward/Bella

Summary: New Moon AU - After leaving Bella, Edward gradually loses control of his ability. When he is led to believe that she is dead, Edward cracks, leaving Bella as the only one who can pick up the pieces.

Disclaimer: Everything belongs to Stephenie Meyer. We're just playing in her sandbox.

Stay not, be gone; live, and hereafter say,
A madman's mercy bade thee run away.

--William Shakespeare, "Romeo and Juliet"

Keeping his eyes on mine, Jacob began to bend his face toward me. And I was still absolutely undecided.

The shrill ring of the phone made us both jump, but it did not break his focus. He took his hand from under my chin and reached over me to grab the receiver, but still held my face securely with the hand against my cheek. His dark eyes did not free mine. I was too muddled to react, even to take advantage of the distraction.

"Swan residence," Jacob said, his husky voice low and intense.

Someone answered, and Jacob altered in an instant. He straightened up, and his hand dropped from my face. His eyes went flat, his face blank, and I would have bet the measly remainder of my college fund that it was Alice.

I recovered myself and held out my hand for the phone. Jacob ignored me.

"He's not here," Jacob said, and the words were menacing.

There was some very short reply, a request for more information it seemed, because he added unwillingly, "He's at the funeral."

Then Jacob hung up the phone. "Filthy bloodsucker," he muttered under his breath. The face he turned back to me was the bitter mask again.

"Who was that?" I asked, even as ice settled in my chest. Something felt terribly wrong suddenly, and I didn't know why.

"Carlisle Cullen," Jacob said with unconcealed disgust.

"Carlisle?" I was baffled. "Why was he calling? Why didn't you let me talk to him?"

Jacob rolled his eyes. "He didn't ask for you; he was looking for Charlie."

That didn't sound right. Why would Carlisle call for Charlie? Maybe he had found out Alice was here, but then, why wouldn't he ask about her? I was about to ask more questions when Jake suddenly went tense again beside me and practically flattened himself against the counter. I looked up to see Alice standing in the doorway. Her face was stark and pale, even for a vampire, and that ice in my chest clenched around my heart.

"Alice? What's wrong?"

"I'm sorry, Bella, I know I promised to stay, but I have to leave immediately. Something has happened, and I doubt the rest of the family knows."

I swallowed heavily. "Is it - is it -" Damn it, why wouldn't his name come out when I so desperately needed to say it?

"Yes," Alice sighed, as if this were the one question she'd hoped I wouldn't ask. "Yes, it's Edward. Please, stay calm. He's not in any immediate danger. I'll call you as soon as I know more, I promise. Just...don't do anything reckless, okay?"

I shook my head swiftly. "I won't." I would be waiting on tenterhooks until that call came.

Ignoring the malicious glare Jake was throwing her from across the room, Alice wrapped her tiny arms around my waist. I allowed myself to be enveloped by her, trying to ease my heartbeat back into a state of calm and forget about the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach telling me that something had gone terribly wrong with... with him.

Alice eyed Jacob behind me, growing more and more tense with each passing minute, and muttered, "And spend less time with the pup. I can't see you otherwise."

Before I had a chance to respond, though I could hear Jacob's growl of outrage, Alice kissed me on the cheek, spun on her heel, and was out the door. I followed to the window, pressing my face to the glass, and watched as she pulled out of my driveway and drove off down the street. I kept watching long after Carlisle's car was out of sight.

"Is she gone?"

Jacob's voice in the relative silence of the room made me jump out of my skin. I stumbled backwards, and he grasped my shoulder to steady me.

"Sorry," he mumbled, his hand lingering on my arm. My mind was propelled back to our almost-kiss in the kitchen - somewhere my mind did not need to be right now with the possibility that there was something wrong with Edward. I winced as I thought his name, pulling my arm from Jacob's grasp to wrap around myself.

"Yes, she's gone," I told him, shifting the curtains back into place. I sat on the couch staring at the wall, trying not to think of anything, least of all Edward Cullen. I heard Jacob heave a sigh from the doorway to the living room.

"What?" I snapped, glancing up at him. My hands were starting to shake, and I clutched them tighter to myself to hide it. Jacob was glaring. Why did it have to be this way? Why couldn't he understand?

"Really, Bella? You're going to let him get to you like this, after what he did to you?"

I stiffened and felt my fingernails digging into my arms as I tried to hold myself together. "You don't understand."

"Damn right, I don't understand," he practically barked. "Why would you even think of him when he clearly doesn't care about you?"

My whole body tensed as his words stabbed at my heart like a knife. The pain exploded into a burst of fiery anger, and I felt hot tears burning in my eyes.

"Because I love him, Jacob! I'll always love him and I can't stop just because he did! If you'd ever loved somebody that way, you'd understand."

I knew immediately that was the wrong thing to say. His face was stricken, as though I'd reached out and slapped him.

"I'm sorry," I whispered, hating how I'd hurt him. "That's just the way it is."

"I do love somebody that way," he whispered. He sat down next to me and grasped my hand easily, as if I wasn't just holding it tightly against my body. I closed my eyes as he ran his thumb against my knuckles, not able to respond, because it wasn't fair that I was putting him through this and nothing would come of it. I could see that now. Whatever Alice was going to tell me when she called - and she would call, I had to keep telling myself that, or else I would drive myself even crazier than I felt I was already going - I knew I would do what she asked of me, no questions asked, because Edward was involved, and I could never say no to him.

"Jake..." I started, but he cut me off swiftly, as if he could hear the rejection coming before the words ever left my mouth.

"Don't," he said, standing quickly, hands balled into fists at his sides. "Don't say anything." He took a deep breath, but I could still see a fine trembling beginning in his arms. "After all of this - after the way all of them hurt you, you're still going to go to him if Alice calls and asks you to, aren't you?"

His eyes were blazing with his anger. I nodded slowly. "I have to, Jake. I love him."

"Well, that solves everything then doesn't it! You love him. I'm glad for that, Bella, very glad for that, but don't be surprised when he breaks your heart again."

I had to grasp onto the arm of the couch for support. His words bounced around in my brain, repeating themselves over and over again until I was dizzy, my worst nightmare finally dragged, kicking and screaming, into the daylight.

Instead of giving into the temptation to cry, I glared fiercely, standing up to my full height and looking him square in the eye. I'm sure I wasn't too intimidating to him, but I wasn't about to be looked down at by him anymore. "I. Love. Him. It doesn't matter if he loves me; if he's in danger, I'm going to help him, because the thought of him being hurt..." I wrapped an arm around my stomach and tried to hold back the gasp in my throat. "It kills me, Jacob." I narrowed my eyes at him. "And whether he rejects me or loves me or changes me right there on the spot is none of your damn business!"

I'm pretty sure it was the thought of me being changed into a vampire that finally made him snap. Jacob shut his eyes tightly, trying to control himself, but even I could see the trembling in his arms become an unsteady shake.

"I-" he started hoarsely, before turning around and taking off, leaving the front door wide open behind him.

I slumped back onto the couch, trying to hold in my tears and stop my shaking. Eventually, when my mind was comfortably numb, I finally got up to close the open door. And then I went to start a very long and complex dinner for Charlie, because I needed the distraction.

In the end, I couldn't avoid thinking about it. Even as I was dicing vegetables, my mind wandered to our argument. Why did it have to be this way? Why did Jacob have to feel things for me that I could never return? And the day's events were enough to confirm that for me. No matter how much I'd wanted to make Jacob happy, I knew now that I could never kiss him without thinking of Edward. I couldn't let it go. Edward had taken my heart with me when he left...and it was never coming back.

I was surprised not to feel the urge to cry, but there was only resignation at the knowledge that I would be only half a person for the rest of my life. Maybe I'd known it all along.

Over the next few days, my thoughts bounced from Jacob to Alice to Edward...but mostly to Edward. Now that I had let him back into my head, I couldn't get him out. Where was he now? What had he been doing down in South America that could possibly lead to him being hurt? What could hurt a vampire? Could I go on living this way if anything happened to him?

Charlie could sense my agitation, and I knew he wanted to know why Alice had left so suddenly, and why I wasn't talking to Jacob. Again. But he didn't ask; I think he was afraid I'd go off the deep end again, and I just might, if Alice didn't call soon.

Finally, after a week of waiting, the phone rang as I walked in the door after my afternoon shift at Newton's Outfitters. I ran into the kitchen so the call wouldn't kick over to the machine, promptly tripping over the lip in the doorway and almost flying into the wall. I balanced myself against the doorframe and grabbed the phone on the fourth ring.

"Hello?" I asked breathlessly.

"You know, you didn't have to run to the phone," I could hear the restrained amusement in Alice's voice. "I would have called back in ten seconds. If you hadn't grabbed the wall when you did, you would have sprained your ankle, and I would have been fetching you from the hospital."

"Fetching me?" The rest of her words faded to the back of my mind as my heart skidded to a stop and lodged itself somewhere in my throat.

"I'm already in the car." As she spoke, I realized I could hear the wind whipping past in the background. "I'll be there in less than an hour. Go upstairs and pack. Bring at least two weeks worth of clothes and anything else you think you're going to need - I don't know how long you're going to be gone."

"Gone?" I was barely able to gasp out the word. I steeled my nerves and asked the inevitable question. "Alice, where's Edward?"

"Denali," she answered shortly, "Where you're going to be by tonight."

I gripped the edge of the table, her words making my head spin. My knees were shaking. "Charlie..." I said faintly.

"I'll deal with Charlie when I get there. I already have a plan. And stop panicking," she added after a moment's pause. "You can have a nervous breakdown as soon as you get into the car."

I gripped the phone so tightly in my hand, my fingers fell asleep. I tried very hard to breathe, but my lungs refused to work properly. "Alice, what's going on? What's wrong with Edward?"

"The only thing you need to know right now is that we've tried to help him and there's nothing we can do. You're the only one who can help him, Bella. So, stop worrying and start moving."