Just a short little one-shot for the Friendship is Key contest. Did this instead of Storms. Don't kill me. I always alway always feel really bad for Jacob. enjooyy xx

It's a strange sort of friendship but it doesn't make it any less of one. I'm sitting on the beach with him, on this log which the sea has sucked all colour from. It's as white as the wave tops which bubble towards us, and I watch them as they sheet along the sand, coming towards the end of my toes then shying away, slipping back into the huge depths from whence they came. The wind blows from the sea and it plays with my hair, twisting it around, soaking it in salt and making it dry and stringy. The heavens are grey and light, like an old blanket, and like an old blanket I can see holes, holes which the blue sky stares nervously through. Jacob asks me something and I reply, but I'm not sure what he said and I'm even less sure of what I said in return.

I listen to the water as it creeps up and down the beach, up and down, almost reaching my toes again and again but never quite getting there and it strikes me as strange, that something that is so violent and dangerous can be so meek and timid at the same time. I reach down and wait for the next wave to come; it sweeps past my fingertips, and sand rolls up around them like cement. Then the wave falls back, not quite having the courage to reach my toes, not yet, and the sand which holds my fingers falls back and sets them free. I sit up and wipe the water on my jeans.

Jacob is looking at me and I smile up at him, pulling my knees to my chin and resting my feet on the curved, smooth side of the log. You look cold, he says, would you like my jumper? And I say no, I'm fine, and isn't it nice down here? Isn't it pretty? And he shrugs and says I suppose so. I look back out to the sea. I run my eyes over the line where it fades into the sky, all those miles away, where the water stops and the clouds begin. I watch the sea as it breathes in and out, up the beach, down the beach, up, down, calm and even and alive. Jacob asks me what I'm thinking and I tell him I'm not really thinking much at all, really, just how amazing the oceans are. He laughs, a deep, happy, gravelly sort of laugh, and says oh Bella you do say the strangest things. I smile, and let myself fall sideways against his shoulder. He's very warm, a transportable radiator, and I press myself closer because the wind is biting me, and now that I think about it I am quite cold. Jacob reaches up an arm and wraps it around my shoulder and it's heavy and warm and secure and I can't help it, I like it being there.

He says I like it down here, it's calm and I can think, I can think about everything that's in my head and I can sort it out. And I ask him what he's thinking about and he says he's thinking about what he's turned into and whether it makes him a different person and whether that's good or bad. I watch the sea swarm up and down the beach for a while, watch the sand as it moves with it, little tiny stones rolling over each other. And I say, I don't think it makes you different, it just means that there's something you can do that's different, and that it isn't bad, it's exciting and special. And he smiles and chuckles in a well-that's-really-sweet-but-you-don't-have-to-say-that sort of way. And I say, no, really, I think you're an amazing person, Jake, I really do. He just tightens his arm and stares at the sea.

The trees behind us whisper things to the wind as it blows through them, it's an unearthly sound and it makes me think of fantasy worlds and stories I stopped believing long ago, about ghosts and spirits and magic things that lived in the forests of times gone by, kept alive by the will of the people who believed in them. A bird caws and swoops over our head, big and black and with these powerful wings which cut through the air with an effortless grace. The bird turns huge circles in the sky, diving and climbing, over the beach and over the heaving waters, huge wings pushing up and down. It glides over to the cliffs and I watch it get smaller and smaller and then land on the edge of the tallest precipice. It ruffles its feathers and then sits still.

It strikes me then, and I look up at Jacob. We're very small, I say, quietly, we're very small really, compared to the sea and the forest and the cliffs, aren't we? And he says, yeah, I guess so, but only in size. He says he thinks I'm way cooler than the sea, and I punch him playfully and he sniggers. No, really, he says. I know I can tell you everything and you'll say something that makes sense and makes it all better, and you're the best person I know, Bells, and the sea's squat to that, right? And I blush and tell him to shut up. And then I say that he's my best friend in the world and without him I probably would have given up by now, and he says don't say that, Bella, never say that, it freaks me out when you talk like that. I look guiltily down at the sand and apologise.

I know he's going to say something soon, and I wait patiently, because I can tell I have really scared him with my talk of giving up. He takes a breath. He asks me what can possibly be so bad that I'd want to give up completely? And I think about how to phrase it so he'd understand. The waves roll up and down up and down up and down, and the wind blows my hair about even more, and the clouds drift across the sky with an unhurried calm. I don't know, I finally say, I guess I feel so alone and useless all the time, and it's horrible and I hate it and I hate myself and it's hard to see the point of me when the person who I thought was my point is gone forever. And Jacob is very quiet and his arm is very warm and secure and I bury my head in his shirt, my own arm around my chest. And he rests his head on mine and I'm not sure that's allowed but I'm feeling like I'm about to fall apart and it's good to have him all around me, holding me together.

You shouldn't think like that, Bella, he says, finally. You aren't useless, there's nothing about you to hate, and anyway you aren't alone, you've got me. I curl my legs under my body try to warm up against him, as he carries on speaking. Your purpose isn't buried away in someone else, he tells me, it's in you, and just because maybe some git thought you weren't good enough doesn't make you useless. He was stupid to let you go. I wince and say please can we talk about something else and he says okay, but I don't like seeing you sad. I apologise again.

I glance up at his face and he's glaring at the waters, his dark eyebrows pulled down and casting shadows over his eyes, his top lip lifted slightly so I can see the edges of his teeth. What is it? I ask, and his hand balls into a fist against my shoulder. It just makes me so mad, he says, it makes me so mad that that bloodsucking freak thinks he's so much better than you, and that he screwed you over like that and lied like that and it makes me want to kill him, makes me want to hunt him down and-

But I cut him off and say no Jake, don't say things like that, please don't, it doesn't make it any better it just makes it worse. And he looks down at me, anger slowly evaporating off his face and he presses his hand against my cheek. You really are cold, Bells, he says, I think we should go back. I tell him I'm fine, and then I say, Jacob, thanks for being so... but I can't think of the word. He smiles down at me and I know he gets it. I tell him that he's the only thing that really matters all that much to me anymore, except maybe Charlie, and that without him I don't know what I'd do. He stares down at me and I stare up at him, and the moment suddenly grows too long and tense and I have to look away because there was something warm in his eyes that I don't want to encourage. I can sense his gaze still on me, but then there is a cloth-on-cloth sort of noise and I know he has looked away.

I'm sorry, he says, and I know that he'd noticed the moment as well. And I say it's not your fault, and I'm the one that's screwed up. He laughs and says we're both screwed up really, and he takes my hand and slides his fingers between mine, wrapping them around over my knuckles. He says he can wait till I'm ready. I don't tell him that I don't think I will ever be.

I watch the sea slide up and down the sand and I feel my hair slap against my face. The trees behind are still whispering and the cliffs and the bird are still high and majestic. A huge hole is suddenly ripped in the blanket of the sky and the sun pours through, glinting off the edges of the waves and warming my skin. It lights the world up suddenly golden. A wave slides up the beach and laps around my feet, cold and fresh and brave. And I look up at Jacob. He's staring out at the sea and I can see it reflected in his eyes.