Author's Note: Unbeta-ed. So, I woke up really early this morning. And instead of watching infomercials, as I usually do, I somehow ended up with this. Sorry if it flows funny, or something like that. Eh. (-- Old note. Posting late because I'm a fat, lazy, lumpy lard. No, really.)
Summary: Jake comes back, and Bella confronts him. Or, something like that.
Disclaimer: I won nothing.

Welcome Home, Jacob Black

Bella's ancient trunk wheezes to a stop before Sam's house. A few members of the pack are congregated on the porch, Leah and Seth among them. They cast stares between pure hatred and worry her way as she climbs out of her truck. Her whole body quivers as she approaches, and she tries to hide how frightened she is.

"Where is he?"

Seth gives an apologetic smile, dips his head forward with a shake. "We're not allowed to tell you, Bella."

"What do you--"

"Sam's orders," Leah snaps.

Bella sucks in a sharp breath, her arms slowly slinking around her midsection to hold herself together. She knows it's no use. Most of the wolf pack has been outright hostile towards her since Jacob's disappearance months back. She doesn't blame them, but she knows they'll be of no help. She knows she doesn't deserve the help.

She tries to swallow back the rising lump in her throat, gives a quick nod and turns to walk away. Seth's voice follows her. "I'm sorry."

"He's in the--"

"Alex." Leah's tone is sharp, on edge. Bella knows she loathes being under Sam's command.

Bella faces the group once more, eyes a defiant looking boy who looks awkward in his new body. He is glaring at Leah.

"You've seen inside his head. Heard him. Why can't we just tell--"

"That's enough." Leah bites out, teeth clenched. Alex shakes his head with a scoff.

"Un-fucking-believable," he says, crossing his arms and separating himself from those on the porch. He steps down and as he passes Bella his gaze flicks from her to the encroaching forest. It is brief, tension wound tight over his wiry frame, but Bella understands.

"Thank you," she breathes, overcome with a staggering gratitude. Then she is running. Her legs are wobbly and unstable beneath her as she passes the threshold into the vibrant greenery. She can hear frantic calls behind her, what sounds like a scuffle and snapping jowls, angry snarls.

Low hanging branches whip at her body, and she falls more than once. Still, she scrambles onward. Around her the trees grow thicker, the air damper and darker. Her breathing is shallow, chest on fire as she pushes onward and onward. She has no clear destination, no way of possibly navigating through the creeping vines and hanging moss.

Lungs heaving with effort, Bella pitches forward over an upturned root snaking its way across an overgrown pathway. She tries to break her stop, but the result is cut palms and she cries out from pain and surprise. Frustration swells up within her, and as always happens when the emotion becomes too big for her small body, she begins to cry.

Great, heaping sobs rattle her whole body. She wipes futilely at tears, smearing blood and grime across her cheeks. She's so close to giving up when a branch snaps, her head jerking upward. And there he is. His fur is longer than when she seen him last, and even in this form she can tell he's ragged down. His eyes are black, glaring at her as his mouth snaps closed on a low growl.

There's noise and howls from a distance, growing steadily closer as Bella stands. She recognizes Embry first. Then Paul, Quil, Leah. The whole pack surrounds her, blocking Jacob from her vision. She hears Embry whine, paw brushing the ground. The air grows warmer, tense with unmistakable danger. She remembers once, on the shores of First Beach, stories about giving yourself over to the wolf.

Her heart aches as Sam growls, Leah and Jared flanking his sides with teeth bared. All of this for her. To protect her from what? Jacob? She knows down to her marrow that Jacob will never heart her, recalls him solemn promise in a theater smelling of popcorn.

"Stop," she says, but no one hears. She tries again, louder this time. "Stop! Just stop it!"

The wolves cast her weary glances, gaze shifting from her to Sam, whose back is still to her.

"Please," she chokes out.

Their moves are synchronized, and they part like the Red Sea, allowing Jacob to enter a half formed circle. They move in quickly to cover his backside, bodies anxious. Strangely, Bella is not afraid. Calm washes over her, bathes her from head to toe.

The large wolf before her snarls, lips curling back to reveal sharp canines. Bella's eyes flit over to Leah, who bows her head and toes the ground in preparation for an attack. Her tail flicks restlessly from sided to side, muscles tight and geared for a fight. Bella assumes she's been this way since Emily announced the date of her and Sam's marriage.

Turning back to the wolf before her, she shivers. The first creeping doubt settles heavily in the pit of her stomach as an unfamiliar gaze stares back at her. The towering beast blinks, and Bella mimics the action in slow motion.

Her heart is pounding furiously against her ribs, and she curls her fingers into her palms to try and gain some much needed courage. A high pitched buzz drowns at all other sounds beside her own breathing and that of the Jacob-wolf. She finds strength in that, the deliriously happy thought that Jacob is here and warm and alive. Gloriously alive.

She smiles, water leaking from the corners of her eyes to trail down her flushed cheeks. She knows she must look ridiculous. Her reaction seems to startle Jacob, and he takes a hesitant step back. For a moment recognition flashes across his animal features, but it is gone as quickly as it appeared. The wolf slinks sideways, presses his wet nose against Bella's cheek.

Hot air puffs against her neck, makes her stomach give a funny turn. She doesn't dare turn to meet Jacob's black eyes, keeps her focus locked onto the wolf directly in front of her. Quil whimpers, nudges the muddy ground with his toes. Wolf-Jacob turns a glare toward him, walk directly behind Bella. It'd be so easy to snap her neck from this position, and still she is unafraid.

His nose bumps the back of her head, and she stumbles unsteadily forward. The pack closes in slightly, to a threatening growl from Jacob. Bella shakes her head. Another nudge to the small of her back, and this time she manages to keep her footing. There's a heavy snort, and her hair flies forwards, blocking her peripheral vision in a blur of brown before settling back down.

The wolf is now at her side once more. Bella finally meets his eyes, her own softening as she takes in the caked fur and dark lashes surrounding the two large orbs. The wolf pivots, facing her fully. With a shaky exhale, Bella reaches forward, plunging her hands into the thick matting of fur. The wolf gives a surprised shake, but she holds steadfastly on.

"I miss you so much." Her voice is a strangled gasp, air suddenly hard to come by. She pauses for a moment, and when she begins again her words come out in a trembling whisper barely audible to her own ears. "It's not the same without you, Jake. I keeps going through my days, and there's this big void where you're suppose to be. I find myself wanting to tell you things, deep and stupid things. Like how the other day I made Mike Newton laugh so hard his soda squirted out his nose. Or how I love you so much that it sometimes hurts, physically hurts. But you haven't been around for me to say anything."

"And I want to spend the rest of my life with you. If you'll have me. Because you make me happy, Jacob Black. You do. And what I want, really, is you. Just you. So, I'm asking--begging you. Come back. Come back to me. Please."

A hush washes over the forest. The pack members lose the hard set of their bodies. The massive wolf before her lets out a keening cry, damp breath caressing Bella's skin. One second the towering wolf is there, and the next he is simply gone. In his place is Jacob, naked and crying. There's bramble in his hair, and his body is covered in bruises and dirt.

To Bella he is beautiful. And she's sure, positive down to the deepest reaches of her soul, that she's never seen Jacob look more beautiful than he does in this moment.

She reaches out, slim arms trapping Jacob's lean build to her body, and breathes "Welcome home, Jacob Black."