Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

So this is my first attempt at fanfiction. I hope that you all enjoy it and will read and review for me. I think that the series of events leading up to the birth of Renesmee and Bella's transformation must have been excruitiating for Edward and am interested in exploring the things that he went through using his unique perspective (since he can hear everyone else's thoughts). The beginning is going to be a bit redundant because it's described in the book, but we lose a couple of days when Bella is unconscious and I think that will be the most interesting time in this story. We'll see how far I can get! Let me know what you think and what you'd like me to explore further. Thanks! ~jen

She was asleep when I heard the engine slowing on the highway and turning onto the drive. I knew that Jacob had returned and I had words for him. Several, in fact.

The dog's back. Rosalie was as predictable as ever.

"Stay with Bella," I said, unnecessarily. "I have to talk to Jacob alone. I'll be back before she wakes up."

Whatever. You know I'm not going anywhere, Edward. At least she had stopped hissing at me. She knew now that I wanted the baby to be safe. But her priorities and mine were still not the same. And she knew that too. As much as Bella wanted to believe that she and Rose had a newfound friendship, this had never been about Bella. Rose wanted the baby and Bella was only the carrier. Focus, I told myself. I had bigger problems to deal with than Rosalie's self-centered baby-fixation.

I walked to the garage so that I would be waiting there when Jacob pulled in. I wondered briefly how much damage he would inflict on the car but was almost surprised by how little I cared. He parked the car, undamaged. There was a look of relief on his face that was soon replaced with anger. Traitor, he thought briefly. I couldn't be concerned with that now. There was work to be done and I needed to be get back to Bella.

"A few things, Jacob," I began quickly, as soon as he turned off the engine.

He threw the keys at me as soon as he got out of the car.

"Thanks for the loan," he said sourly. He looked past me. "What do you want now?"

"Firstly . . . I know how averse you are to using your authority with your pack, but . . ."

Oh, no he didn't go there! he all but shouted at me in his head. "What?"

"If you can't or won't control Leah, then I--"

"Leah?" he interrupted, surprised. So he didn't know. "What happened?"

The memory of Bella's sadness ripped through me again and I couldn't help the anger from leaking into my voice.

"She came up to see why you'd left so abruptly. I tried to explain. I suppose it might not have come out right."

"What did she do?"

"She phased to her human form and--"

"Really?" He was shocked. He hadn't known anything about this, after all. Not that I truly thought that he had, but a part of me wished to be angry at him.

"She wanted to . . . speak to Bella."

"To Bella?" I could hear and feel the anger in him now. And it mollified me, slightly. But I was still angry at Leah for what she put Bella through.

"I won't let Bella be upset like that again. I don't care how justified Leah thinks she is! I didn't hurt her--of course I wouldn't--but I'll throw her out of the house if it happens again. I'll launch her right across the river--" I'd wanted to do it this time. Only Bella could have stopped me. And, of course, she had.

"Hold on. What did she say?"

Jacob was interrupting my remembrance. I tried to compose myself, taking a deep breath through my teeth and putting the image of Bella's crushed expression to the farthest corner of my mind.

"Leah was unnecessarily harsh. I'm not going to pretend that I understand why Bella is unable to let go of you, but I do know that she does not behave this way to hurt you. She suffers a great deal over the pain that she is inflicting on you, and on me, by asking you to stay. What Leah said was uncalled for. Bella's been crying--" It hurt just to say that she had been crying. There was nothing that I could do or say to make it better. She knew the pain that she was inflicting on me and on Jacob . . . she couldn't help it. And that hurt her all the more.

"Wait--Leah was yelling at Bella about me?"

He still didn't get it? I nodded perfunctorily. "You were quite vehemently championed." I added wryly.

Jacob's thoughts got confused for a moment. He genuinely didn't think that Leah liked him very much and was completely shocked that she would leave herself defenseless in what she saw as the enemy territory to defend him.

"I didn't ask her to do that."

"I know." Of course I knew that. If I had thought he had asked her to do it, I wouldn't have given him the chance to explain, regardless of what he had done for Bella in the past. Nothing was excusable that caused her pain. Nothing.

"I can't promise to control Leah," he began. "I won't do that. But I'll talk to her, okay? And I don't think there'll be a repeat. Leah's not one to hold back, so she probably got it all off her chest today."

"I would say so."

"Anyway, I'll talk to Bella about it, too. She doesn't need to feel bad. This one's on me."

"I already told her that."

"Of course you did. Is she okay?"

"She's sleeping now. Rose is with her."

The psycho is Rose now, he thought. I knew that Jacob felt betrayed by the turn of events that had occurred earlier in the day. I knew that he felt that I had been his ally and that I was abandoning him now. But he couldn't understand. My wife and my . . . child. How could he understand when I was barely capable of understanding this new love.

"She's . . . better in some ways. Aside from Leah's tirade and the resulting guilt." I amended. I was unable to let that go.

Better because you can hear the monster now and you're all lovey-dovey again. He continued. How could he feel betrayed . . . how could he feel at all justified? Why did I feel the need to explain?

"It's a bit more than that," I murmured, in the soft voice that thoughts of the child, my child, brought on. "Now that I can make out the child's thoughts, it's apparent that he or she has remarkably developed mental facilities. He can understand us, to an extent."

"Are you serious?"

"Yes. He seems to have a vague sense of what hurts her now. He's trying to avoid that, as much as possible. He . . . loves her. Already."

My mind clouded with the thoughts. My child, our child, growing inside of Bella. I could see why she had been so adamantly against anything that would destroy him. She had seen what I had been blinded to. To Bella, from the beginning, this had always been our child. Our only chance at a physical representation of the love that we so desperately felt for each other. I had been so focused on saving her from the danger that I never saw what she saw immediately. I saw it now, but Bella would always be my first concern. So consumed in my own thoughts of this newfound love, I only caught the end of Jacob's thoughts: But I wasn't killing her. I could guess what he was thinking, but had no time for it.

"The progress, I believe, is more than we'd judged. When Carlisle returns--"

"They're not back?"

"Alice and Jasper are. Carlisle sent all the blood he was able to acquire, but it wasn't as much as he was hoping for--Bella will use up this supply in another day the way her appetite has grown. Carlisle stayed to try another source. I don't think that's necessary now, but he wants to be covered for any eventuality."

"Why isn't it necessary? If she needs more?"

This was critical. This was the crux of why I had come to him alone. I needed to ask something of Ephraim's heir, and I needed to ask it at precisely the right moment. I couldn't afford to have him fly off in a passion now. Time was too short. He was ready, though.

"I'm trying to persuade Carlisle to deliver the baby as soon as he gets back."


"The child seems to be attempting to avoid rough movements, but it's difficult. He's become too big. It's madness to wait, when he's clearly developed beyond what Carlisle had guessed. Bella's too fragile to delay."

I felt the grief that Jacob had been saving up to spread over four days crash over him in this moment. I felt his hatred of me and of the child growing in my wife's belly flood him and I felt him fighting for control. Then he looked at me and I saw the realization dawn on his face. Oh shit. He thought, You really believe, don't you?

"You think she's going to make it," he barely whispered.

"Yes. That was the other thing I wanted to talk to you about."

It was time to bring this home. I needed his permission in order to keep this treaty in place and save Bella's life. I hated to hurt Jacob after all of the infinite hurts that my family had already put him through, but this last one was crucial to Bella's survival. Even if he didn't see it that way.

"Yes," I said again. "Waiting, as we have been, for the child to be ready, that was insanely dangerous. At any moment if could have been too late. But if we're proactive about this, if we act quickly, I see no reason why it should not go well. Knowing the child's mind is unbelievably helpful. Thankfully, Bella and Rose agree with me. Now that I've convinced them it's safe for the child if we proceed, there's nothing to keep this from working,"

"When will Carlisle be back?" He had barely recovered from before. I was about to hit him again.

"By noon tomorrow."

I could see his legs give way and wanted to support him, but didn't want to start a fight. I let him support himself with the car. His thoughts were reeling and I could feel the pain washing over him again and again like the tide.

"I'm sorry," I whispered. "I am truly sorry for the pain this causes you, Jacob. Though you hate me, I must admit that I don't feel the same about you. I think of you as a . . . a brother in many ways." The thought had just come to me, but it was so right. He was my brother in this fight to save the woman that we both loved. "A comrade in arms, at the very least," I continued. "I regret your suffering more than you realize. But Bella is going to survive," if I could will true with my very words, I would have in that moment. But so much depended on the next several minutes. "and I know that's what really matters to you."

I finished fervently. Even if he didn't believe that my existence was survival, he was able to talk to me, see me, touch me. Would the promise of that future with Bella be enough to convince him? I didn't know.

"So I hate to do this now, while you're already dealing with too much, but, clearly, there is little time. I have to ask you something--to beg, if I must."

"I don't have anything left," he barely muttered. I could feel the truth in his head. He had given all of himself to us in the past few weeks and we had gladly taken if, leaving him an empty shell. Would the permission that only he could grant me be a solace to him, or would he hold this last gift under my nose only to snatch it away. It was up to him.

"I know how much you have given," I said quietly, with as much formality as I could. "But this is something you do have, and only you. I'm asking this of the true Alpha, Jacob. I'm asking this of Ephraim's heir."

I could feel his thoughts bristle at the words true Alpha, because Jacob never wanted that mantle on his shoulders. I had to strike now, before he could throw it off again.

"I want your permission to deviate from the what we agreed to in our treaty with Ephraim. I want you to grant us an exception. I want your permission to save her life. You know I'll do it anyway, but I don't want to break faith with you if there is any way to avoid it. We never intended to go back on our word, and we don't do it lightly now. I want your understanding, Jacob, because you know exactly why we do this. I want the alliance between our families to survive when this is over."

Sam, he thought blindly. It's Sam you want.

"No. Sam's authority is assumed. It belongs to you. You'll never take it from him, but no one can rightfully agree to what I'm asking except for you."

It's not my decision.

"It is, Jacob, and you know it. Your word on this will condemn us or absolve us. Only you can give this to me."

I can't think. I don't know.

I hated to push him when he was already so broken but . . . "We don't have much time." I could hear stirrings coming from the room above.

I don't know. Let me think. Just give me a minute here, okay?

"Yes." It was the least I could do for him.

He walked towards the house and I followed him. I heard Seth's thoughts in the brush before he shrugged his body through the brush. Jacob is in pain, he thought. He was so right.

"Hey kid," Jacob muttered as he patted Seth's shoulder.

What's wrong with him? Seth thought

"S'all cool," Jacob answered. "I'll tell you about it later. Sorry to take off on you like that."

Seth's wolfy grin was surprisingly attractive.

"Hey, tell your sister to back off now, okay? Enough."

Seth nodded to him and leaned into him.

"Get back to work. I'll spell you in a bit."

I'll be right here, Jake. And then he loped off into the trees.

"He has one of the purest, sincerest, kindest minds I've ever heard," I murmured once Seth had disappeared. "You're lucky to have his thoughts to share."

"I know that," Jake replied.

We both heard it at the same time, but I was faster than Jacob. For now at least. As soon as I heard the sound of the liquid being pulled through a straw, I took off. How could I have been gone so long? She was awake again.

"Bella, love, I thought you were sleeping," I murmured to her as I reached her side. "I'm sorry, I wouldn't have left."

"Don't worry. I just got so thirsty--it woke me up. It's a good think Carlisle is bringing more. This kid is going to need it when he gets out of me."

I hadn't actually thought that far. I was so focused on her well being that I hadn't really thought about what the child would need to eat when he was born.

"True. That's a good point."

"I wonder if he'll want anything else," she mused. I doubted it, but even without being able to see in her mind, I could tell she pictured a perfect baby suckling at her breast. The thought filled me with warmth and dread at the same time. What had I done to her? And what would the reality do to her in the end?

"I suppose we'll find out," I said, not knowing what else to say to her. We would know soon enough, but I knew there was never any way that that particular vision would come to pass. Even if the child did need human nourishment, Bella wouldn't be able to provide it. She would be a vampire like me and unable to feed her baby.

Jacob came into the room at that point and the smile that lit Bella's pained, thin face broke my dead heart. It was the same smile that she had for me. And then the smile fell and the look that replaced it cut me to the core. She was trying not to cry again.

I should go punch Leah right in her stupid mouth right now! Jacob thought rashly, and I couldn't help but smile. I really wouldn't have stopped him if that was what he chose to do, although I didn't disagree with his choice of action.

"Hey Bells," he said immediately. "How ya doing?"

"I'm fine," she said.

"Big day today, huh? Lots of new stuff."

"You don't have to do that, Jacob."

"Don't know what you're talking about," he responded easily, sitting on the arm of the sofa near her head.

She looked at him warily. "I'm so s--" she began to say.

He gently pinched her lips closed between his thumb and finger. I balled my hands up into fists. I wouldn't let her see how angry his little touches made me. I wanted to break his fingers, crush them in my hands. She was mine! But, even I had to admit, she was also his. And I despised that even more.

"Jake," she mumbled, feebly trying to push his hand away. Every instinct in me wanted to help her, but I knew that he knew better than me how to handle this. I had prepared him, after all. But if he messed it up and made her hurt . . .

"You can talk when you're not being stupid," he said thickly. I railed against that. How dare he!

"Fine, I won't say it," she mumbled into his hand. He pulled it away. I chuckled silently to myself because I knew what was coming. How many times had she surprised me just this way?

"Sorry!" she finished immediately and grinned through her cracked lips.

Visions of faceless girls in a park swam through Jacob's head. She's everything I was looking for . . . and everything I knew I would never find.

I left his head then because I didn't want or need to share his pain. I knew as much as anyone how much he was suffering right now. I knew that she loved him but that it wasn't enough. That she loved me more. It was a hollow victory. Look what had become of her and what could so easily still happen to her. That was all linked to me. I would save her, but at what cost. I remembered with Jacob the many blushes, the warmth of her near me . . . all that would be gone. The direction of Jacob's thoughts changed and I knew that he was directing this to me.

Fine. Go ahead. Save her. As Ephraim's heir, you have my permission, my word, that this will not violate the treaty. The other will just have to blame me. You were right--they can't deny that it's my right to agree to this. And with that he gave up the last shred of himself. He had given us everything. Everything that he could give.

"Thank you." It was all I could say. I hoped that he knew how much his words meant to me. How much his sacrifice meant in the face of all that was to come. He would continue to be my brother.

They continued to talk for a few moments, but I was lost in thoughts of my new brother. Brother to a man who was in love with my wife. Who saw what I was about to do to save her as killing every shred of her humanity and taking away her soul. The irony was choking.

Bella spoke with a pained look on her face. "Rose?" she called.

"Again?" Rose chuckled.

"I think I've drunk two gallons in the last hour," Bella apologized.

I moved out of her way as Rose bent down to lift Bella up to take her to the bathroom.

"Can I walk?" she asked. "My legs are so stiff."

"Are you sure?" I asked immediately.

"Rose'll catch me if I trip over my feet. Which could happen pretty easily, since I can't see them."

Rose set her on her feet, watching her intently as she stretched first one arm and then the other. I winced with Bella as she stretched the kinks out of her muscles. All this pain. It would be over soon, I knew, but it galled me to see her so.

"That feels good," she sighed. "Ugh, but I'm huge."

I looked her over. Her mid-section was painfully swollen and almost misshapen. Her body hadn't had time to adjust to all of the changes that the baby had caused so quickly, and she hadn't bloomed like most pregnant women. She looked bloated and sick and in pain.

"One more day," she whispered, patting her stomach.

I was as anxious as she was to have it over. I wanted to know for sure that she was safe and would be whole again.

"All righty, then. Whoops--oh, no!"

It happened in the blink of an eye, but Rose, Alice and I had all reached the cup as it hit the couch, spilling blood on the light fabric. We didn't see Bella until she had already begun to bend down to try to catch it.

I heard it, knowing exactly what was happening but not wanting to believe that the sickly, wet ripping sound was coming from inside my wife.

"Oh!" she gasped.

Her body went completely limp, dipping toward the floor but Rose caught her before she hit. I was there as well, my hands reaching for her and thoughts of tomorrow forgotten completely.

"Bella?" I asked. I heard the fuzzy thoughts then, panic and pain mingled together. The baby, our baby, couldn't breathe and was dying. The placenta had severed and the time was now.

Bella screamed and her eyes rolled back in her head as the thoughts grew more and more panicked. There was no air and the baby was suffocating. Bella's body twitched and she began to vomit blood. It seemed that I would become a surgeon as well as a father today.