This outtake is a present for my beta Bri who puts up with my shit. Not only is she an amazing beta but she has also become a good friend in the process. So B, this is for you. It's got a nice little helping of Beachsper and Jalice to tide you over and a bit more resolution to the story. (I know how much you LOVE you some sper!)
We only got 86 400 seconds in a day
to turn it all around or throw it all away
We gotta tell 'em that we love 'em while we got the chance to say,
Gotta live like we're dying
-Live like we're dying- Kris Allen
I watch the water tumble down the rocks and thrash against the wall. I can taste the salt of it; feel the bitter texture on my tongue as I watch it splatter below me. It's thrilling, the power of that moment, as the water tumbles and falls around me.
I can smell the sand, the sun, and the water in the air. It engulfs me and overwhelms my senses. For a moment I think of nothing but that smell and the overwhelming calm it brings to my body. I linger near the edge of the cliff enjoying this last moment of peace.
And then I jump.
The impact momentarily stuns me. I can feel my lungs struggling for air, striving to bring oxygen to my body and brain. It only takes a moment for my reflexes to kick in and I am gasping, my head bobbing above the water, legs kicking against the bitter sting of the cold.
The waves crash into me, bringing me closer to the rocks than I am comfortable with. I struggle against them, my legs and arms thrashing through the freezing water as they fight against the waves. It's a slow and heavy battle and I feel like I am continually losing more ground than I am gaining. With each pass of my arms, each swish of my legs, the small land mass in front of me becomes a little bit larger.
By the time I reach the islet my muscles are stinging from the trek. As I squeeze the water out of my hair, I scan the small area surprised at how much it has changed since the last time I had been there. The sand is a muddy brown color and several rocks and shells are lodged into the surface. The contrast to the beach near our house is so great that momentarily I am taken to a different place; one where everything isn't completely fucked up.
It's getting close to winter and most of the locals have packed up and headed back to their lives leaving the normally crowded beach deserted and eerily quiet. It's the perfect time to sit and think; which is something that I am trying desperately to avoid doing. Now that Bella is gone things are different, life is different, and I am different.
There is a single person on the water, his black wetsuit helping define him against the orange sunset behind him. I watch as he paddles out, his surfboard gliding over the water. He takes in the coastline before his eyes reach me and I watch as he paddles in my direction.
"Hey!" I call out, my arm waving over my head, excited at the prospect of a distraction.
He trudges out of the water, throwing his surfboard in the sand before making his way to sit beside me. "Hey yourself," he replies as he plops down beside me.
A quiet settles over us for a moment before he turns and looks at me in confusion. "You're still here?"
I nod my head softly as I contemplate how to respond. How do I explain to him that I couldn't leave because I was worried about Edward? That I refuse to leave until Edward does? It's become this unspoken pact between the two of us that we would stay here and grieve. The problem is I think that his grieving is going to take a lot longer than mine.
"You are worried about Edward," Jasper sighs, his hands running through his wet hair and pushing it back. I watch the movement and watch the molecules of water run down his neck, the sight transfixes me.
"He's not okay, Jazz."
"I wouldn't expect him to be," he replied softly, a frown settling on his face. "How are you holding up?"
I want to feel fine again. I want life to be back to normal, whatever normal is now. I look at him and shrug my shoulders. "I'm fine."
"Don't give me none of that," he twangs and I am momentarily distracted at how thick his accent suddenly sounds. "It's me Al, you can tell me."
"It hurts," I reply instantly as my hand reaches up to cover my heart. "Not only did I lose my best friend but I feel like I am slowly losing my brother as well."
"Have you two talked about it?" he questions, his eyes concerned as they stare into mine.
"I'm afraid to bother him. I don't want to make his pain any worse."
"I'm not going to lie," Jasper whispered, "it's going to be painful. But I can tell you from experience that when you are going through something like this, talking about it helps."
He scoots closer and I can feel the heat of his body, the wetness of the water. Then he wraps his arm around me and pulls me to him. It feels good to be held, to be cared for, and I can't help but cherish the moment.
"What about work?"
The knowledge that I can do my job anywhere helps ease the sting of leaving my shop in someone else's hands longer than it needs to be. I have my sketchbook, I have a fax machine, and a telephone if they need me. For some reason some part of me tells me that I need to be here more. "Work will have to do without me."
He looks down and smiles at me, his eyes lighting up at something that I don't quite understand. I look down at myself, frowning. "What?"
"Nothing, it's just nice to have some company at this time of year."
As I swim back to shore I scan the beach. I am surprised to find my brother standing in the surf, water up to his knees. His eyes are focused on something far away and I take advantage of his distraction, my eyes scanning him over. I can't help but think he looks like a little boy; lost and alone.
For the time being, I leave him to his thoughts, and make my way to our home to dry off and change. It's a nice night and I can't help but want to be outside. Grabbing an apple I make my way to the pit and quickly get a fire going. The warmth of the flames feels delightful on my skin and I tilt my head back and look up at the darkening sky.
"I'm trying to take care of him, B." I whisper and can't help but jump when I hear a throat clear beside me.
"Mind if I join you?"
There is a bit of confusion and pain on his face and I think once again about what Jazz said. "Sure, Bro, pop a squat."
Instead of sitting in a different chair he makes his way to the open spot by my feet and sits down, his body slumping in exhaustion. He is entranced by the fire, and I watch as the flames flicker over his features. I think of soothing words that I have heard people use and realize that none of them really help, really matter. Instead I sit up and wrap my arms around him, my face pressed against his back. He lets out a gentle sigh, his body slumping further and before long I can feel his muscles shaking.
It only takes a second for me to realize that he is crying.
My mind won't shut down and I find myself having trouble falling asleep. I step out onto my patio and look out over the water before turning and facing the sky. It's childish, I know, but I close my eyes and focus all of my energy on a simple wish.
I want to see him smile again.
Opening my eyes I am startled to see a lone figure sitting on the beach. At first I am concerned that Edward has gotten up but as my eyes focus in the dark I realize it is another person entirely. I pause for just a moment before grabbing a pair of sandals and creeping down the stairs.
The wind blowing off the water is chilly and as I walk I wrap my arms around myself. He seems to sense my presence because he turns to look at me, surprise clearly evident on his face.
"What are you doing out here?" Jasper asks softly.
"I was going to ask you the same thing," I reply my voice wavering.
"I'm just thinking." His voice is soft, almost a whisper on the breeze that blows the words to me.
"I saw you sitting out here and I couldn't sleep," I reply answering his question the only way I know how.
"We sure are two pees in a pod." His chuckle brings a lightness in my chest and I can't help but sigh as I realize I am smiling. I shiver slightly and before I realize what is happening I am settled between his legs, my back against his chest.
"Better?" he questions. I only nod my head in response. He smells like musk, salt water, and cinnamon and I find myself distracted by it. I know that there is something here, something that has been indefinable for long enough.
"Jasper," the word tumbles from my mouth and I can feel his body still behind me.
It is all I need to hear.
In that moment I know everything that he is saying with that one word. That he feels it too. That he knows that it is going to have to wait. (I could never do that to Edward, not so soon after.) In that moment it is enough to I know that in the future we will have our chance.
I wake with the sun and am surprised to find Edward sitting in the kitchen. I know that he is waiting for me and I am not quite sure why. He looks up from the table and seeing me sighs.
"Can we go for a walk?"
He waits on the porch while I throw on some clothes and then I meet him, watching as his eyes scan the water as if he is memorizing everything about this place.
As he steps into the sand, his hand reaches back grasping my fingers tightly between his. I look at our entwined hands and gently squeeze.
"What's the matter?" I question. He shakes his head minutely before tugging on my hand, pulling me down the beach.
I can feel a change in the air and I am confused. I look up at him and am taken back by the peaceful look on his face. We walk for quite a while in silence and then suddenly he stops. He sits on a rock, pulling me down beside him. The waves are crashing on the shore but otherwise the beach is completely silent.
"Did you promise Bella you would look after me?"
I am taken back by the question and surprisingly unsure how to respond.
"Edward," I reply softly, "you're my brother I would look after you no matter what."
He seems to understand that this response is all he is going to get from me and he nods his head. I look out over the water thinking about all the years spent here and I am pulled from my daze as I feel his arms wrap around me.
He hugs me tightly to him and I relish the feeling.
Pulling back he looks at me and I am surprised to see a small smile on his face. Although it is far from the way he used to smile, it is still a smile, and it settles something inside of me. I know that eventually everything will be normal again; whatever this new version of normal is. I can't help but smile in return. For the first time since the funeral I feel truly at peace.
"Love you," I whisper.
"Love you too, Sis.
I just want to write a quick thanks to all of you for the f'ng awesome amount of support on these last few chapters... I loved reading each and every one of your comments and reviews and hearing how this story made you think and feel. I wanted a challenge and I definitely got one. Thanks for coming on the ride with me :)
I'm working on a few new things... Hopefully I will have the first chapter of a new story up within a week. Look for a sneak peek below the break.
Placing my shaking hand on the door, I stood for a moment forcing myself to hold back the tears that were threatening to spill over.
'You're so weak.'
I couldn't argue there. I clicked open the lock looking around my empty bedroom in fear. It seemed like the coast was clear but you could never really be sure. Holding my breath, I listened to the quiet around me. I could hear Charlie's television blaring from the other room and my shoulders slumped in relief. If Charlie was home then I was safe, wasn't I?
I grabbed the clothes off of my bed, throwing on my favorite pair of jeans and a baggy sweatshirt. The weather outside was cold and the familiar clothes brought a comfort and warmth I knew I wouldn't be finding outside. Rubbing the towel through my damp hair, I squeezed the moisture out as my eyes focused on the ledge of my window.
The jagged nails where I had hammered the window shut still jutted out of the frame at awkward angles. I knew that I would eventually have to explain the mess to Charlie, explain why I was afraid for my window to be open. I wasn't really ready to do that yet.
Grabbing my book bag I cautiously made my way to the door, flipping the lock before opening the door and peaking out into the hallway. The coast seemed to be clear so I took a chance and ran for the door.
"Bella," Charlie called as I ran past the living room. Cursing under my breath I stopped and turned around looking at my father as he sat on the couch watching television. It was seven in the morning and he was already nursing his second beer. Maybe everything that happened with mom had more of an effect on him than I realized? "I know it's your first day of school, but everything is going to be fine."
I nodded my head, unsure of what to say. Charlie seemed to take that as acceptance of his little pep-talk because he turned back to whatever he was watching before. I made my way to the front door and looked out the peephole checking the lawn.
It looked empty.