Edward wasn't surprised when four months after their wedding -- three months and two weeks since she'd been turned -- that Bella had left him. It was a slow process even in the short amount of time it transpired. He'd heard her gathering her things, slamming every gift he'd given her against the walls and hard wood floors; her voice booming in growls and curses as she forced the last of her possessions into a set of luggage Carlisle and Esme had given them for their honeymoon. He wanted to think it was ironic, but it was more fitting.
"Are you just going to let her leave?" Alice shrieked at him. He flinched but didn't turn toward her. His family could all hear what was happening upstairs, all wishing that Edward would do something. "Please, Edward. Don't just let her leave. Please." He wanted to assure Alice this was for the best and apologize for letting her first real best friend leave without trying to thwart it. The truth was that Edward knew it wasn't for the best, knew that he'd be a shadow of himself, knew that the second he couldn't smell her anymore, he'd crumble to the floor in metaphorical pieces.
The thunderous stomping down the stairs made the entire family look up. Bella stood before them, luggage in tow, glaring right at her husband. Edward's eyes were trained on hers, like they always were when she was in the room. He stood and took one step forward. Bella sighed exasperatedly and stomped toward the front door, slamming it closed. Edward's head fell forward, and he could already feel parts of himself slipping away.
"Edward! Go after her! Please!" Alice screamed.
Esme came up behind her, holding her tight and kissing her head. "This is Edward's choice, Alice. Don't make it harder than it already is." Esme gave Alice another tight squeeze before walking over to Edward. He was barely aware of her hand on his shoulder, but when her arm started to encircle his waist -- the way he'd always held Bella against him, the only way he felt like she could be safe -- he winced from her and stormed up the stairs. He heard Rosalie's laughter, heard Esme and Carlisle trying to quiet her. Nothing made it worse because it couldn't get any worse.
"Someone take his credit cards; I'm not chasing him to Italy," Rosalie said with a smirk.
It was weeks before Edward left his room to hunt. He'd begun to see Bella sitting on their bed, talking to her like she was physically there and not a hallucination. His family had sat outside his room, taking turns and waiting for him to reappear. He stayed alone, talking to empty air and pretending it was his soon to be ex-wife.
Emmett forced him to hunt, catching prey for him and watching as he drank only enough to sate his thirst. When he'd had his fill, he stood, falling against a neighboring tree and waiting for Emmett to finish his own kill. Edward closed his eyes, seeing Bella behind his lids and slumping forward. It was in this moment -- what he was sure had to be one of the worst of his life -- that he smelt the beach mixed with sweat and the reek of wet dog. Emmett was crouched in a warning pose as Edward lazily opened his eyes to see a rusty wolf standing before them.
"What do you want, mutt?" Emmett growled.
Edward looked up and the wolf's mouth was parted open, as if he were smiling. He could hear the laughter in his head, the victory and happiness that rushed through every thought he had. Edward stood, walking toward the large wolf without abandon.
"Does it make you happy? Are you that cruel?"
Only way I'd be happier is if she'd killed you before she ran off on her own, the wolf chided.
Edward winced at the thought, winced at hearing Bella's name spoken -- or thought -- aloud. "Jacob Black, you have no idea what you are making light of. If you did, you wouldn't at all."
Fucking leech. If you loved her, you'd go after her. Clearly, you're more concerned about your pride than your supposed true love. Jacob punctuated this with a barking laugh.
It was enough; it was all he could take. Edward lunged at Jacob before Emmett could stop him. It wasn't a fair fight; Jacob in wolf form was no match to any vampire, especially one scorned by his former flame. "I do love her. I do love her! Take it back!" Edward screamed, his hands pulling at the thick fur of Jacob's body. Jacob only laughed harder, his head mimicking his wolfish chuckle. Emmett finally pulled Edward off and threw him across the clearing. Jacob snorted and turned to leave, but not without a final thought.
Maybe I'll go after her if you won't.
Another week passed, and Edward's family had given up on coaxing him out of his room. He had given up the pathetic reincarnations of Bella his mind was conjuring and longed to go after the wolf, to find him and tear him apart before he could touch his precious Bella. His eyes shut tight as he watched it in his head, his teeth sinking into Jacob's soft flesh and hands tearing every appendage off. His mouth melted into a wicked smile just as he picked up the wolf's scent again. His eyes darkened at the thought of him being on his property without invitation or permission.
"Jacob Black," Edward said low like a growl. He tore through the house, blurring down the stairs and staring his enemy in the eye with cold malice. "What the hell are you doing here?"
Jacob turned to look at Edward, his eyes glazing over the vampire's weak frame, taking notice of the way his eyes were sunken into his cheeks as if he could sleep and hadn't. "I can't find her," he said simply. He looked down, his arms crossing over his chest. "I looked for her, and I can't find her. I'm worried."
Edward stood still for a moment and then laughed so loudly it filled the entire room with a boom. "If she wanted you, pup, she'd come to you. Obviously she doesn't want either of us."
Jacob's expression tensed and he took a few steps until he was closer to Edward, but far enough away so neither were sickened by the scents of their enemies. "I know you still care for her. She could be anywhere; she could be doing things she's not supposed to. Aren't you worried for her welfare?"
Edward could tell Jacob was concerned, but it was so heartbreaking to think of Bella, especially to have the knowledge that Jacob had actively looked for her after her departure from him. "I don't care what she does, or where she is. That's her business now," Edward said coolly. He shifted his weight and glared at Jacob, trying to show the contempt that he couldn't make himself feel.
Jacob moved forward one more step, his eyes staring a hole through Edward. "I always knew you were a coward, but this just solidifies it."
Edward's glare intensified, his feet planting firmer to the ground. "Fuck you, Black."
"You wish, Cullen."
Jacob chuckled and turned, walking out the door, still laughing.
Fucking Cullen. If I could hate him any more than I do, I would. He's such a fucking asshole. I'll find Bella, and when I do, I'll be sure to rub every second of our happiness in his pompous face.
Edward was searching the woods for someone -- not the one he should, but the one he most decidedly shouldn't. He was horrible at tracking but something was leading him toward a certain spot in the woods, and when he realized where he was, he stopped short and waited. It was exactly nine minutes until he wasn't alone anymore. He could hear the heavy footfalls across the forest, the paws pounding into the earth, claws digging in and uprooting the leaves and debris. When he caught sight of the wolf, he moved just in time so that Jacob tumbled in a ball behind him. Edward laughed to himself as he turned. "Not living in bliss yet? I was sure you'd have a cottage with a white picket fence by now."
Jacob morphed out of his wolf form, pulling the sweatpants from the pouch on his ankle and sliding them on. "What do you want, Cullen?"
"Nothing really. Just wanted to see if you had found her yet. Looks like you haven't, considering you were so quick to respond to me at your treaty line." Edward shifted his weight and began to walk towards Jacob slowly. "She doesn't want you either, Black. She wants destruction and blood and death. She's a vampire now and one that enjoys taking human life. She's a monster now, and even you can't reverse that." Edward continued to advance until he could smell Jacob's breath. "Stupid dog. She hates you, too."
Jacob's mind raced with a million thoughts of No, she doesn't! You don't know! and I still love her, that accounts for something. Edward laughed and shoved Jacob's shoulders, turning from him so he could laugh more without looking at the pathetic look on his face. Edward had been devastated, it seemed only fitting that Jacob should be too. He held on to silly delusions that Bella was waiting for him to find her. The simple truth was that if Bella wanted to be found, then she would be. She could be in a foreign country now for all either of them knew. Why doesn't she want me? he heard Jacob think and it stopped him cold. There was a fragility and vulnerability to his voice. He turned and looked at him, Jacob's eyes set on the ground below, searching it for answers that even he didn't know.
Edward looked back at Jacob, his eyes kinder than before. "She doesn't want either of us," he said quietly. Jacob didn't look up, barely even acknowledged that anything had been said between them. Edward walked towards him again, his eyes focused on the boy falling apart in front of him. He didn't know why he cared, couldn't have put his finger on any one reason except that he knew the pain well -- knew the feeling of being unwanted, unloved, and completely torn into pieces.
Jacob's head rose, his features softened. Edward couldn't help himself from thinking how young he looked in the face. The rest of him was oversized -- too large and awkward-looking -- but his face was that of a scared teenager, pained from his first love giving up on him when he'd never given up on her. "I always thought she'd come to me -- when she left you."
Edward looked away, unable to see Jacob as he said these words, making the events from the past weeks and months real. "I did too. At least I would have known she was safe," Edward admitted selflessly.
"Where do you think she is?" Jacob asked.
"I don't know, but she's keeping a low profile. Alice can't see her either. We think she's shielding us from seeing her future."
Jacob folded his arms around his middle and faced away from Edward as he spoke, fury in his voice. "It's all your fault. You, selfish bastard. You made her a monster, and then were surprised when she embraced it." Jacob turned back to Edward, tears filling his eyes and sliding down his warm cheeks. "I hate you; I'll never, ever forgive you for this. It wasn't enough that you took her from me, wasn't enough that you married her. You had to kill her too." Jacob's hands were now fists, digging into his sides and causing the pain Edward knew was meant for him.
"Don't you think I know this? I... I wish I could have changed this, but it's what she wanted." This felt like an easy way out, and it was. Jacob took a few wide strides toward him and was in his face. He breathed out against Jacob's face, watching as Jacob winced at the scent.
I hate you.
Edward didn't move, let Jacob stare him down like everything was his fault, and maybe it all was. It happened too quickly for him to take it back -- his lips were against Jacob's, his arms pulling Jacob against him. Jacob resisted at first, but then his hands were in Edward's hair. Edward could taste Jacob's tears; feel more falling as their kiss deepened. As fast as it had begun, it was over, and Jacob was pushing Edward as hard as he could, his face smeared with the tears Edward wished he could shed. Jacob didn't say anything, but instead scoffed and ran off into the woods, phasing as he ran. Edward was left in place, his fingers going to his lips to brush across them. He wanted to rationalize what had happened, but nothing made logical sense. He'd kissed Jacob Black and liked it.