Standard disclaimer: I don't own these characters. I'm only borrowing them for non profit fun and cheap entertainment.
SUMMARY: What would have happened if Jake had been the first of the Quileutes to phase? What if it was too late to help his best friend? How do they find their places in a new world filled with the supernatural.
Author's note: This is my first foray into Twilight fanfiction. I welcome constructive criticism particularly about the characterizations of Jacob and Bella I feel a bit shaky about how they come off. I've managed to more or less complete first part of the story which is nearly 100 pages long so the updates should be pretty regular for the foreseeable future.
Author's note 2: I'm fixing up some of the grammar in these earlier chapters (Dec 2011) Hopefully they will be more readable :)
It was the Saturday after my bout with the flu that Jacob and I decided to give the search for Edward's meadow another attempt. While we got ready to leave the truck, Jake animatedly described a fight Quil had gotten into at school the day before. Apparently one of the seniors at his school had caught Quil making out with his girlfriend. We were parked on the side of the dirt road where Edward and I had entered the woods almost one year ago. As Jacob spoke, he lay a map of the surrounding forest out on my truck's hood and used our packs and a water bottle to hold down the edges.
I had picked up enough orienteering skills over the past couple of weeks that I could at least read the topographical map and get an idea of what the terrain we would be covering should look like. I glanced at my best friend out of the corner of my eye. Would he be in such a good mood if he knew the real reason I was so obsessed with finding the meadow? That it was my last ditch hope of finding some piece of my beloved Edward. Some concrete proof that he had existed as something more than a memory.
Jacob noticed my sudden morose expression and paused in his story. "You okay Bells?" he asked, putting a hand on my shoulder and squeezing gently.
I contemplated shrugging off his casual gesture of affection. I really should be trying to prevent any further blurring of the lines that divided our friendship from a more intimate relationship. However, like some kind of emotional vampire, I drank in the comfort Jacob's warm hand provided.
Come to think of it, Jacob's hand was more than a little warm. It felt like someone had just put a hot water bottle on my shoulder. "Jacob you're burning up!" I reached up to feel his forehead, it was so warm that I was surprised Jacob wasn't in a coma. "You're worse than you were after the movie last week. We need to get you to a hospital."
I tried to walk back to the cab of the truck, intent on driving my friend to the ER, but he caught my wrist in his massive hand. "Relax Bells, I've never felt better."
I eyed him doubtfully, not sure if the fever had fried his brain. Seeing my hesitation he continued, "I've been like this all week; still have a healthy appetite and everything."
His broad grin melted my resolve to take him to a doctor. After all, I kind of owed him some leeway when it came to personal safety. He hadn't questioned me when I suddenly decided to take up extreme sports. If he wanted to risk his health by running around the woods with a fever, who was I to judge him? Jacob grinned wider, sensing my capitulation. Dropping my wrist, he headed back to the hood of the truck and shoved his map under the top flap of his backpack.
Slinging the pack onto his shoulders he stuffed his compass into one of his pockets and held a hand out to me. Sighing, I shuffled forward and took it. The two of us then headed down the road to where Jacob decided today's search would start. As if he hadn't been interrupted earlier, he continued his story about Quil's womanizing.
It hadn't occur to me that my hiking ability had actually improved since I had started hanging out with Jacob until we emerged from the forest into Edward's clearing a full hour earlier than I thought possible. As I gazed at the unnaturally symmetric field I took in the small and large changes that had occurred since my trip here with Edward so many months ago. I didn't miss the wildflowers that were now out of season. I didn't miss the sunlight pouring into the clearing. I missed Edward.
There was nothing of him left here. Like the Cullen's house, this place was abandoned. I gasped as the hole in my chest was torn open as painfully as the day he left. Jacob caught me as I collapsed and I began sobbing into his chest. Great gasping sobs that I couldn't seem to stop. It was like trying to keep from coughing after inhaling water.
"It's all right Bella, we'll find the right meadow someday."
Somehow I could make out Jacob's words over the sound of my breakdown. Even as far gone as I was, I could hear the confusion in his tone at my over the top reaction. God, how was I going to explain this to him without hurting him? Would he think that I had just used him to get some piece of Edward back?
"It's not...I mean this is the right place." I managed to gasp out.
"But he's not here." Jacob spoke softly, no accusation in his tone.
I was so surprised at his reaction that I actually stopped crying. "You knew?"
Jacob shrugged slightly self consciously. "I figured it had something to do with him, you were so hell-bent on finding the place and all."
I just blinked in disbelief. I thought I had been so sneaky enlisting Jacob's help to find this place, but he had known my motivation all along. I felt more than a little foolish, and didn't really know what to say. Guilt was already starting to gnaw at my stomach while Jacob watched me, gauging my reaction.
Before I could say anything more, he pulled me into a tight hug and whispered, "I've told you Bella, I don't mind waiting for you. I'll take any excuse to spend time with you."
I desperately wanted to correct him, to tell him that there wasn't enough left of me to wait for. That he should go out and find a girl who wasn't so broken that she needed a danger induced hallucination to make her day complete, but I couldn't. I couldn't take the risk that he would actually listen to me and push me away. Edward had been so opposed to turning me, but that was exactly what he had done. I was now little more than a vampire; only instead of blood, I fed off Jacob's warmth and emotions. I almost laughed at the irony.
I don't know how long the two of us stayed like that, but eventually I felt whole enough to gently push against Jacob's chest and stand up. I self consciously wiped my eyes as Jacob stood. He held out a hand and asked, "Want to head home?"
I nodded. I took his hand and was about to let him lead me out of the meadow when something made me look across to the opposite side.
There, standing just beyond the edge of forest, was a lone figure. Seeing the utter stillness, the pallid skin, a rush of piercing hope rocked through me. I suppressed it viciously, fighting against the equally sharp lash of agony as my eyes continued to the face beneath the black hair, a face that wasn't the one I wanted to see. Next was fear; this was not the face I grieved for, but it was close enough for me to know that the man facing me was no stray hiker.
And finally, in the end, recognition.
"Laurent!" I cried in surprised pleasure.
It was an irrational response. I probably should have stopped at fear. That was definitely the reaction Jacob was hovering around. "You know this guy Bella?" I had forgotten that normal people were supposed to have an instinctive fear of the monsters.
I nodded absentmindedly. Laurent had been one of James' coven when we'd first met. He hadn't been involved with the hunt that followed, the hunt where I was the quarry, but that was only because he was afraid; I was protected by a bigger coven than his own. It would have been different if that hadn't been the case. He'd had no compunctions, at the time, against making a meal of me. Of course, he must have changed, because he'd gone to Alaska to live with the other civilized coven there, the other family that refused to drink human blood for ethical reasons. The other family like... but I couldn't let myself think the name.
Yes, fear would have made more sense, but all I felt was an overwhelming satisfaction. The meadow was a magic place again. A darker magic than I'd expected, to be sure, but magic all the same. Here was the connection I'd sought. The proof, however remote, that somewhere in the same world where I lived he did exist.
It was impossible how exactly the same Laurent looked. I suppose it was very silly and human to expect some kind of change in the last year. But there was something... I couldn't quite put my finger on it.
"Bella?" he asked, looking more astonished than I felt.
"You remember." I smiled. It was ridiculous that I should be so elated because a vampire knew my name. Jacob eyed the man uneasily; under the natural distrust was another emotion. If I hadn't known better I would have thought it might be jealousy. Maybe he was used to being the only one who could make me smile like this. I gave his hand a reassuring squeeze before I could help myself.
Laurent grinned. "I didn't expect to see you here." He strolled toward us, his expression bemused.
"Isn't it the other way around? I live here. I thought you'd gone to Alaska."
He stopped about ten paces away, cocking his head to the side, eyeing my and Jacob's linked hands. His face was the most beautiful face I'd seen in what felt like an eternity. I studied his features with a strangely greedy sense of release. Here was someone I didn't have to pretend for, someone who already knew everything I could never say.
"You're right," he agreed. "I did go to Alaska. Still, I didn't expect... When I found the Cullen place empty, I thought they'd moved on."
"Oh." I bit my lip as the name set the raw edges of my wound throbbing. It took me a second to compose myself. Laurent waited with curious eyes.
"They did," It was Jacob who spoke. His angry words tearing at the edge of the hole left in my chest.
"Hmm," he murmured. "I'm surprised they left you behind. Weren't you sort of a pet of theirs?" His eyes were innocent of any intended offence.
Jacob stiffened at Laurent's words or possibly at the fact that the vampire seemed to completely ignore his presence.
I smiled wryly. "Something like that."
"Hmm," he said, thoughtful again.
At that precise moment, I realized why he looked the same, too much the same. After Carlisle told us that Laurent had stayed with Tanya's family, I'd begun to picture him, on the rare occasions that I thought of him at all, with the same golden eyes that the... Cullens, I forced the name out, wincing, had. That all good vampires had.
I took an involuntary step back, closer to Jacob. Laurent's curious, dark red eyes followed the movement. It felt like Jacob was vibrating he was so tense.
"Do they visit often?" he asked, still casual, but his weight shifted toward me.
"Lie," Edward's beautiful velvet voice whispered anxiously from my memory.
I started at the sound of his voice, but it should not have surprised me. Were Jacob and I not in the worst danger imaginable? The motorcycles were safe as kittens next to this. I did what the voice said to do.
"Now and again." I tried to make my voice light, relaxed. "The time seems longer to me, I imagine. You know how they get distracted..." I was beginning to babble. I had to work to shut myself up. The lie was not made any more convincing by the way Jacob looked at me as though I was crazy.
"Hmm," he said again. "The house smelled like it had been vacant for a while..."
"You must lie better than that, Bella," the voice urged. At the same time I realized that Laurent wouldn't be so candid in front of a civilian like Jacob if he had any intention of letting us go.
Desperately I tried to be more convincing. "I'll have to mention to Carlisle that you stopped by. He'll be sorry they missed your visit." I pretended to deliberate for a second. "But I probably shouldn't mention it to...Edward, I suppose " I barely managed to say his name, and it twisted my expression on the way out, ruining my bluff. "He has such a temper... well, I'm sure you remember. He's still touchy about the whole James thing." I rolled my eyes and waved one hand dismissively, like it was all ancient history, but there was an edge of hysteria to my voice. I wondered if he and Jacob would recognize what it was.
"Is he really?" Laurent asked pleasantly... skeptically.
I kept my reply short, so that my voice wouldn't betray my panic. "Mm-hmm."
Laurent took a casual step to the side, gazing around at the little meadow. I didn't miss that the step brought him closer to us. In my head, the voice responded with a low snarl.
"So how are things working out in Denali? Carlisle said you were staying with Tanya?" My voice was too high.
The question made him pause. "I like Tanya very much," he mused. "And her sister Irina even more... I've never stayed in one place for so long before, and I enjoy the advantages, the novelty of it. But, the restrictions are difficult... I'm surprised that any of them can keep it up for long." He smiled at me conspiratorially. "Sometimes I cheat."
I couldn't swallow. My foot started to ease back, but I froze when his red eyes flickered down to catch the movement.
"Oh," I said in a faint voice. At this point I realized there was nothing I could do about what was going to happen to me, but maybe, just maybe Jacob could survive. My life didn't have much left in it, but Jacob still had a future to look forward to.
Taking a calming breath I let go of his hand and stepped away from his protective warmth, towards Laurent. The vampire's eyes widened in surprise. I took another breath and forced it to be steady, "Why don't you head down to the truck Jake, Laurent will make sure I get home okay."
I fumbled with the keys in my pocket for a moment before getting them out and tossing them to Jacob. I prayed that my carefree smile was convincing.
Jacob looked at me doubtfully while I turned back to my inevitable exsanguination. Laurent was grinning at me with undisguised amusement. I was so glad my loyalty entertained him. "No Jake, stay. After all it is such a nice day."
With Jacob behind me I locked eyes with the vampire and mouthed the words 'please let him go'. I could feel tears start to fill my eyes, as long as he let Jacob go I could die. I wasn't happy about it, but like last year with Renee, there were worse ways to go than giving your life to save another.
I heard Edward yelling at me not to give up, to keep fighting, keep talking, but I forced myself to ignore him.
Laurent hesitated at hearing my plea, maybe he wasn't a complete monster after all? Looking at Jacob, he said, "Very well, run along boy."
I felt relief flood through me at his words. Relief that was squashed when Jacob grabbed my arm and jerked me back behind him. "No chance in hell you freak."
Laurent raised a perfectly sculpted eyebrow. He was seconds away from killing my hopelessly outmatched knight in shining armour. My mind raced to find a way of getting Jacob out of here before Laurent lost his patience.
Suddenly it came to me, granted it was as cruel as what I had done to Charlie last year, but it would save Jacob's life and that was enough. Grabbing his arm, I pulled myself in front of him, putting my back to Laurent who was now only ten feet from us. Forcing anger into my tone I yelled, "Dammit Jacob take a hint. I asked Laurent to meet me here so he could take me to Edward. I'm trying to run away, I just didn't want to hurt your feelings you silly little kid!" I realized that my words made no sense in the context of what we had already said, but I hoped that Jacob would be far away from here when he realized that.
Jacob glanced away from the vampire and when he made eye contact I saw that I had hurt him. Hopefully that would be enough, but then his expression clouded with confusion. "That doesn't make any sense, you didn't even know where this place was. Besides, you're obviously terrified of this guy."
My hope that I had managed to get Jacob to leave faded as I saw his eyes return to Laurent and his face harden. He pulled me behind him again. I tried to stay between him and Laurent but I couldn't resist his physical strength any more than I could Edward's.
Laurent laughed, a loud boisterous sound, carefree and completely at odds with the situation. "It seems that your friend refuses save himself. How noble."
The next thing I was aware of, was Jacob flying through the air and Laurent standing directly in front of me. The vampire had closed the distance between us and thrown Jacob in a movement to fast for me to see. I was frozen in place, and Edward was yelling at me so loudly that I barely heard the sickening thud of Jacob hitting the ground.
"Did Victoria ever find you?" I asked, breathless, desperate to distract him. It was the first question that popped into my head, and I regretted it as soon as the words were spoken. Victoria who had hunted me with James, and then disappeared. She was not someone I wanted to think of at this particular moment.
But the question did stop him. "Yes," he said. "I actually came here as a favour to her." He made a face. "She won't be happy about this."
"About what?" I said eagerly, inviting him to continue.
He smiled charmingly at me, "About me killing you."
Then he was on me, face buried in my neck. He was breathing me in, but didn't bite down yet. Instead he whispered, "I swear, if you knew what she had planned for you, you would be thanking me for this." Then I felt his teeth pierce my skin.
I whimpered in pain and my eyes sought out my best friend's body so I could at least think goodbye to him before I joined him. He had landed behind Laurent, nearly thirty feet from us.
I was surprised that instead of a broken body, my eyes focused on a tall Quileute boy getting slowly to his feet, eyes blazing with anger, body shaking like a cage that held a dangerous animal. Seeing him alive was enough to momentarily ease the growing burn of venom being pumped into my neck.
Even as I prayed that he would just run, I saw his weight shift forward into a hunting crouch that reminded me vaguely of Emmett when he sprang at Jasper. I was in too much pain to be surprised when he suddenly flew towards us. Halfway through the air his body seemed to explode. Before I could even process what I was seeing, some kind of furry monster tackled Laurent and I with all the subtlety of a freight train.
There was short scuffle as the Jacob-monster tore at the vampire on top of me. It was briefly interspersed with blinding pain when the Jacob's paws or teeth raked across me instead of Laurent.
Suddenly I saw the vampire's surprised expression as his head and shoulders were torn away from his rib cage. I wondered if he was even aware of what had just happened, the whole attack had lasted less than three seconds. That was last coherent thought I had before I descended into hell.