A/N: *sidles back in quietly*. Hi. So . . . who missed me? Okay, okay, I'll rephrase - who missed Jake? :D

So I've been gone about a million years, but I know you're still out there. I just want to thank everyone for being so faithful and patient and sweet and kind. I could go on and on with positive adjectives, but then the A/N would be too long and scare people off and no one would read it. :) But in all honesty, I do love you guys.

That said . . . I'm not re-establishing regular updates just yet. *dodges fruit and other rotten things* I know, that sucks hard, but I'm going to Libya the 11th, God willing, and I won't have a regular internet connection. But I will be writing a lot. Tripoli is just the kind of place that inspires you. :) People interested or looking for updates on what's going on with me or my stories, you can check my twitter, the link for which is on my page.

This chapter has been written for a very long while - actually finished before Hands on Me was - so I decided it was about time I gave it to y'all. You deserve something for waiting so patiently! And if I do say so myself, this is a pretty good chapter. It's our first look into their separation from Jacob's side, and how not-well he really handles it.

Poor kids. They weren't meant to be apart. :(

But please, take this, read, and enjoy. Wish me safe travels, and I pray to see you all again soon.

Endless love. xx.

Disclaimer: I don't own anything. Not even the title - only an obscene love for it, because it is epic. Credit for it's creation goes to the one and only Katie. There has never been another quite the same.

Dedication: This chapter goes to every person who read, reviewed, and patiently waited. And to every Jacob who's ever missed their Nessie until their eyes hurt. Just remember she's in her own barricaded bathroom, missing you too.

In the Dirt

but for what we've become, we just feel more alone
always weigh what i've got against what i left
so progress report: i am missing you to death

- fall out boy, i slept with someone in fall out boy


We ran, following the pixie's lead, for a long time. We met up with the other vamps about ten miles out, took head count, and kept going. There was hardly any talking, I don't think I said ten words, but then I didn't really have anything to say, did I?

I was a dumb-ass to think it would get easier as it went on. The first hundred miles were the easiest. Then I was the farthest I'd ever been from her - that was hell, and then on top of that knowing it might be the closest I'd ever be to her again . . .

But I just kept running.

I didn't know where we were going and I didn't ask. It didn't matter which state, or which fucking country. All that mattered was that I was far from her, and I could feel it.

With every step, I could feel it.

It was like that string behind my navel that connected us was stretching. It could never break - it didn't want to stretch either - but I was giving it not choice. It was like my body was about to turn inside out from pain. It was the same for Seth and Quil too. We all tried not to think about it, even though it was all we thought about.

Finally, our energy began to lag. The wolves, that is. The vamps were dead - they didn't have blood or hearts and they didn't need sleep. We did though, and we all felt a little weak for it - in the back of our heads, even though we tried not to show it to the others.

And I hadn't slept more than an hour in two days. I wasn't used to the long shifts on no sleep we used to run - none of us were, although everyone - in my pack, at least - seemed to have got a little more than me.

Seth had an . . . interesting night with his imprint that I was trying really hard not to see. Not to let it remind me of my own night . . . my morning. It wasn't for anybody else to see and it wouldn't do me any good to remember it now.

Finally, when I noticed Leah was trying to count trees as we ran past to keep from falling asleep on her feet, I knew we had to stop. My pack couldn't fight if they were run into the ground.

I'll run you into the ground, Leah thought, but I ignored it.

Edward? I thought out. He flashed his head around to me, letting me know he was listening. My pack needs rest.

I knew it wasn't really the best time - the vamps did better to run at night. And it was just getting dark now. If we stopped and ate up nighttime, it would put us running more through the day. But it was how it worked out. We didn't need eight hours, just something to keep us on our feet.

Speak for yourself, Leah's head grumbled.

I speak for you too, don't forget it, I snapped. I didn't care. I was tired and pissed and trying to help her stubborn ass out. It wasn't the time for Leah-attitude.

Sorry, Alpha. The tone was sarcastic, but the words were sincere.

We slowed to a jog, and then Edward gave the call to stop. I let out a low howl that told all my brothers, the ones not in my head, to do the same. Edward turned and faced me.

Two hours, I thought his in direction. Just enough to keep us fresh.

"No, it's fine," he said, not breathless, even though he should have been if he were normal. Even we were. "We're on schedule - Alice's visions haven't changed."

I stalked off behind a tree, out of habit really since I could care less right about now, and phased back. Everything crashed back on me as I pulled back on my jeans. I took a second - just one - to lean back against the trunk of the tree and let it hit me.

Then I straightened back up and walked back out. Everyone else was still wolf.

"We're stopping for two hours to rest." I could tell, as Alpha, just from looking at my pack that they were tired. The vamps would not be able to, but I could. I was their leader and their brother. I could tell. "We won't again for awhile, so try to sleep. We'll see about hunting."

Human food was out, I was pretty sure.

The wolves nodded or growled to show they understood, and fanned out - ignoring the vamps completely, or as best they could - and laid down. I saw no one lay down their head or close their eyes though - too many strange bloodsuckers around. I understood.

There's a difference between knowing something in your mind and believing it - they knew these vamps were with us. That didn't mean we felt safe enough to turn our back on bloodsuckers.

Bloodsuckers with red eyes.

They're not going to sleep with them around, I thought in Edward's direction, knowing he would know good and well who 'them' were.

Edward just nodded and made the announcement to set themselves up about a half-mile away. It was a distance any of us could close in seconds, but far enough to give the wolves some peace of mind.

Carlisle, Rosalie, and Emmett went with the vamps. The rest of the Cullens stayed here, so we were split. I guess trying to make it seem like they weren't shoving the wolves off, even though I was the one who had them sent away.

"You need to sleep too, Jacob." I looked up to see Edward come up behind me. How long had I been standing? "You're dead on your feet."

"I'm not dead," I spat. "Not yet."

I needed to be alone. I needed to sleep, but mostly I needed to wallow in my pain and misery before I had to rein it back in to share my head with people.

"I'll be back in two hours."

I walked off into the woods to find a place to myself. Far enough to hear a raised voice, but not a lowered one. I just needed to think.

I collapsed onto the ground, human, and laid my head against the base of a tree. My tired body welcomed it.

I should use the two hours to sleep . . . but my brain was filled with Nessie.

God, Nessie.

Nessie's face, perfect and beautiful and sweet. Her body, warm and curvy and welcoming . . .

Her eyes . . . as I left her. Fuck!

I rolled over onto my stomach, bracing my face on my arms. Why hadn't I brought a goddamn cell phone or something? So I could talk to her? Message her? Make sure she was all right?

Was she crying? Was she okay? I knew she was trying to be brave for me . . . I hoped the other imprints were helping her.

Was she - was she mad at me? For leaving?

Fuck, I missed her. She was inside my body, inside my head. Every thought or memory I could possibly pull up included her. Everything I had suppressed so the others wouldn't see.

Nessie under me, panting. In my bed, on the floor. Or on her knees, over the edge of the bed - the kitchen table - the sofa. God, she was so fucking hot. So sweet. She kept trying to look over her shoulder, look back at me.

The look on her face when she asked me to smack her - the way her scent . . . filled up the room every time I did. The way she loved to trust me, to give me the control. She was my perfect mate. She was exactly what I needed - I always knew how to give her what she wanted.

Was that why I had lost control in the house like that? I mean, I'd been pissed, sure. Angry. She'd provoked me past anything I'd ever been with her. But - she wanted me to lose it. For whatever fucked up reason.

Not that I should have done it, but somehow Nessie thought giving it to her rough meant I loved her.

And God, I did love her.

I tried not to roar in frustration, since it would carry, and rolled over onto my back to give my hard on room to breathe. What in the fuck was wrong with me?

I just left my wife. I might die. How in the fuck was I getting turned on?

One thing was for sure, I shouldn't be. Nessie was probably in fucking pieces, although I hoped she wasn't. She definitely wasn't getting herself off, that's for sure.

I got pissed as I felt myself get harder, at the thought of Nessie . . . oh, fuck, that was a strong image.

Nessie, touching herself. Thinking about me, missing me.

I tried to push it away. Think of other stuff. Not thinking of Nessie was out of the question, but I tried to think back. Nessie as a baby, perfect and sweet. So young and innocent, when I never had this problem.

But honestly, I could never think of anything to do with Nessie as a problem.

She used to sit on my knee and I'd bounce her around, even though she could easily jump way higher if she wanted to.

God, if I did that now . . . it would probably turn her on. Already on my lap, my leg between hers like that . . .

Goddamn it.

Out of pure frustration and need to do something, I snatched my wolf shirt out of my pocket. Just to make a jerky action, release some tension.

But with it came a small scrap of black lace. Nessie's panties. I had forgotten they were there. I picked them up, laying them across my palm. I knew they were stretchy, but damn. They weren't much bigger than my hand.

I could still smell her scent coming off of them. God. Almost like she was here.

I groaned, remembering how I'd ripped them off her body. How she gasped and writhed against me. So fucking hot. Wet. Mine.

I was literally about to bust the fucking seam on my jeans. I was sick, and I decided I didn't care. I brought the panties up to my nose and inhaled. Closed my eyes and tried to imagine Nessie was close. That I was in bed with her, not on the cold fucking forest floor somewhere in continental North America.

Her scent was amazing, even when it wasn't as concentrated as when she was in front of me. Ness would probably be disgusted if she was here now. But she wasn't - she was really fucking far and I missed her really bad and I wasn't half as strong as I thought I was.

My other hand reached down and undid my jeans.

Disgust curled up in my stomach with my lust, but I ignored it. Like this situation could get any more fucked up. I slid down the zipper and drew myself out, hissing a little at the feeling. Only because I was so far gone.

I hadn't used my hand since we'd been married - it didn't feel right anymore, Shit, it didn't feel right now - and it was easy to tell my hand was shit compared with Nessie's. Her small, delicate, warm hands . . . or her body. Her body was the best.

But I didn't have either of those - I just had my hand.

I took the panties into my right hand and threw my left arm over my eyes. I didn't want to see anything, remind myself where I was. I just wanted the pictures on the inside of my head - those hurt too, but those pictures had Nessie in them.

I threaded my hand through the lace and wrapped my fingers around myself. I tried to imagine Nessie was still wearing them, that I was laying on top of her or standing behind her, sliding myself between her thighs, teasing her.

I knew it would be painful as shit once the climax high went away, but I let myself imagine my homecoming. Walking into our house - I didn't care if it didn't make sense - I wanted to imagine Nessie in our house. She'd come running up and I'd snatch her in my arms, take her straight back to the bedroom.

Give it to her hard and fast, since she liked it like that. More loving than last time though. Not angry, just in love. But she would be safe - I would be with her - no need for a condom. I could feel her, every inch of her, like I was meant to.


I let my head run with it. Nessie leaning into my neck, rolling us over on my bed.

"Let me take care of you, my Jacob," her sweet voice would say.

Then she'd lower her her body onto mine.

Oh, fuck. I gripped a little tighter and pushed my hips up into my hand, like I would have to do if I was on my back with Nessie.

I imagined her riding me - God, that would be a fucking sight. We'd never done that. I hadn't . . . wanted to ask her to do anything. I wanted to take care of her. She'd never mentioned it - she'd brought up the spanking, so I figured if it was something she really wanted, she would tell me.

But God, I was kinda regretting it now. What if I died without ever having seen that?

She would be amazing. I'd hold onto her hips, help her move the way I wanted, her body on perfect display for me. I'd be able to see every inch of her - then . . . near the end, when she sped up . . . her breasts would look amazing.

Then I got . . . the best image. One of the ones I'd been trying to keep out because they were way too beautiful to think about, too hard to enjoy and know it might never happen.

One thing was the same: Nessie was over me, riding me. But there was a big difference. Her stomach. Instead of perfectly flat, soft . . . it was rounded out. Soft skin, but much more firm. And inside, was our baby.

Nessie, pregnant with our child. Making love to a pregnant Nessie.

I'd never . . . thought pregnant women were sexy . . . I hadn't thought anyone was sexy in years, until Nessie grew up, but . . . God. Even in my imagination, it was so beautiful. To be able to give her that, a baby, like she wanted. And to see her like that . . .

I imagined holding onto her belly while her body rocked over mine. So beautiful.

Maybe she'd have to lean back, hold onto my legs. Her body would look even better then. I'd run my hands up her thighs, up her sides and then around the front of her body to pluck at her nipples. Back down to hold her stomach.

Damn it, I wanted it so bad.

I imagined her like that and my hand worked faster. Her small hands on my thighs. Her body, swelled out and beautiful - not sick, not hurting, amazing - moving up and down.

My hands on her stomach instead of her hips, steadying her.

Against my palm, I'd feel a kick.

Goddamn it. Everything I could possibly ever want and might never have.

I worked my hand harder, let it build, let the story keep playing in my head.

Nessie's body, working faster and faster. She was getting close, I could feel it. I could tell from her pants and her sighs, her breathing getting faster and faster.

"Oh! Oh, Jake . . . Jake."

I brought my arm down to my mouth - still keeping my eyes shut tight so I didn't lose the picture - and bit down so I didn't call out. I imagined her mouth in that beautiful o-shape it made, her hair thrown back, brushing my legs.

I raked my heels through the dirt and bit my flesh clean through, until I tasted blood. I rode out the pleasure and the image as long as I could.

But soon, all too soon, the pleasure was gone and Nessie's sweet body had faded from above me, and I was just alone in the dirt.

I took my arm out of my mouth and let it collapse to the ground, forcing myself to lick the remaining blood off of my teeth. I stared at the leaves on the tree above me.

If Nessie were here, I wouldn't have to swallow it down or spit it out . . . she'd take it. Nessie liked my blood. I could tell, even though she only bit me hard enough to break skin the one time.

I loosened my grip on myself and pulled my hand away, bringing Nessie's lace panties with me. I left them resting on my stomach, and let my other arm collapse onto the dirt too.

I gave myself a few minutes to wallow in the disgust I felt for what I had just done. I really was a pervert.

My body felt heavy. The fantasy of Nessie and the crash after the orgasm left me tired in a way I hadn't been before.

I lifted my head up just enough to look over my body. Somehow, I'd avoided making a mess over myself. Not out of any attempt of my own, that's for sure, because I'd been too far fucking gone to give a damn about any of that.

I shoved myself tiredly back inside my jeans and did them up. I didn't bring Nessie's panties back up to my nose, because I knew now they'd smell like me more than her. I hadn't messed them up too bad though, so I stuffed them back into my pocket.

I rolled over, kicking dirt over my mess and throwing a handful over the blood. My wound was just sealing over. It probably should have been healed by now, but everything else in my body was fucked up, so why not?

I rested my head on one of my forearms and closed my eyes again. Tried to think of Nessie in a non-painful way, which was impossible. I settled for fantasy again. I was laying in bed, and Nessie was in the kitchen. I could still hear her heart and smell her scent. She was making breakfast and I could smell it.

She would wake me up with a kiss in a few minutes.

I didn't wake up with a kiss though. I woke up with a kick to the ribs.

Leah's stupid ass was lucky I didn't phase on the spot.

"Get up, Alpha dog, it's been two hours." I rolled over and snatched at her leg, but she managed to jump back and keep balance. "Looks like somebody got their beauty sleep."

"Fuck you, Leah." I wasn't in the mood for it. I pushed myself up and grabbed my shirt, tucking it back in my pocket. Leah rolled her eyes - I guess being a bitch was just her way of making it all seem more normal for everybody. "Looks like you didn't."

Just a more sophisticated way to call her ugly.

She probably wasn't, but I wouldn't know. I couldn't look right anyway.

"Oh, my broken heart." I shoved down some more guilt when my eye caught the disturbed dirt as we walked off. "You too special to sleep around everybody else?"

"That's exactly it," I told her sarcastically. "Maybe I didn't want to hear your mouth."

She bumped my arm and I took it without giving anything back simply because I didn't feel like it. I didn't have the energy for anything besides doing what I was here for, what I was born for.

Protecting Nessie.

We walked into the clearing, where everyone was still wolf, and Bella and Edward were whispering some love shit to each other. Leah fell behind to phase. I could smell the other vamps getting closer, coming back.

Edward got up and walked to me when he caught my scent.

"Are you all right?" He was trying to be nice, but I really didn't want it right now. I just nodded. "Did you end up getting any sleep?"

I did. But an image of what I did before I slept flashed across my brain, too quick for me to call it back. It was only a thought, not even an image, but it was enough to make Edward's eyes narrow.

They flashed down to my left pocket.

I thought I heard a growl, but I know I saw the disgust on his face. Bella stepped up behind him, looking between us, trying to figure out what was going on.

"Jacob . . . "

I didn't even care. I couldn't even deal with it right now. I got that he saw something he probably didn't want to - I got that it probably made him want to scratch his eyes out. Throw up some o-negative in his mouth, whatever.

But I couldn't and wouldn't deal with it. His disgust on top of mine.

I turned around and walked back to my pack.

"Stay the fuck out of my head."

Coming soon: The Peace Bride

"I will not consent," I informed them, stepping back from them as if their presence was poisonous. "I do not consent."

"We don't need your consent, strictly speaking," the Alderman said, gently, a veiled threat. Threatening words coated in sugar. "You are an unmarried woman. Your uncle is your legal ward, and he consents."

The truth stumbled on me like a thousand bricks when I realized that they were right. I was a woman. My uncle was my ward. The only way to change your ward is to . . . marry. I had no prospects, and the only man within twenty miles who could perform a wedding ceremony was my decided enemy.

I staggered, holding onto the head of a chair for support. My other hand found my breast and pressed there, to calm my racing heart. It felt as though it were in my throat.

How long had they been brokering this deal? Was I their bargaining chip from the beginning, or had I just recently come into play?

And why was I being bartered like a case of liquor, and unable to do anything about it?