Practically Love

by Mackenzie L.

Basic summary: Bella reflects on her deepening feelings for Jacob Black. New Moon, non-canon moment. One-shot.

* The Twilight Saga & all of its characters belong to Stephenie Meyer

He gave 'being' an entirely new meaning.

Being with Jacob was like swimming through a coral reef. Suddenly she was surrounded by brightness and colors, the most mundane sounds were like music, and the absence of sunlight was no longer unsettling. With the distant awareness that he was present somewhere nearby, there was a senseless novelty to the mangy, dim city of Forks.

Jacob was not like any other boy. He was special - in a completely non-clich├ęd way... if there was such a thing.

And Bella supposed she was mildly infatuated with him, with his undeniable charm.

It was in the boyish way he spoke, his exotic heritage, his laughing black eyes, his swaggering gait - that rugged appeal that made him so attractive to her.

It was watching him leap out of windows on a cool, humid night; take off into the ebony stretch of woods without a stitch of baggage, knowing exactly where he was and where he was going. No matter how many cars and bikes he tended to and treated like gold, his favorite mode of transportation was his own two feet.

He wore the scent of the forest like it was perfume. It clung to him everywhere he went. Nature followed him, longed to be with him.

Just as she longed to be with him.

It was one of those things. Suddenly, everywhere she associated with the boy became sacred ground. The dreary, gray sands of La Push glittered in her eyes. The tall trees that so innocently obstructed her view of the Quileute reservation were but a frustrating barricade that stitched a seam in the land that separated them.

It was this separation. Unspoken, unmentioned. As long as it existed, she would want him even more.

His presence was like fire, slowly chiseling away the icy shell that was left behind by her Edward. In reluctant surrender, she dropped her denial and submitted her heart to the casual power of Jacob's warmth. Where she found him, she found herself.

Her mind would often retreat to the childhood games they shared, the timeless triviality of molding mud pies between palms that were too small. Two pairs of palms, covered in dirt, were still separate by color as they were now. Ivory and russet.

And part of her missed the innocence. The things that went unnoticed in a child's eyes were so glaring in those that peered through the visor of a slow-moving decade.

Bella often felt more than old enough, even in young age. Being with Edward had emphasized her maturity, her obsession with passing time, and the fear that accompanied it. It was one thing to drop to her knees in fascination and awe over the centuries of wisdom a vampire could offer, but it was quite another to drop to her knees in laughter before a boy just a year younger who could make her smile over the smallest things.

It was hard to believe, now looking back on things, that Edward had been her one.

When Edward left, Jacob slowly but surely became her one. And her sanctuary became a dingy backyard garage, where the aromas of motor oil and gasoline could easily disperse her worries, her uncertainty.

He was always there.

Everywhere Edward had not been, Jacob was - waiting in the background, waiting to rescue her from a ruthless current that threatened to drown her.

And that image was forever branded, burned but never blackened, in the smallest tucked away part of her heart. His young face taut with intensity, skin like rust, eyes like coal, his voice chiding and passionate. The droplets from his glossy black hair seemed to fall in slow motion, wanting to prolong their journey down the warm planes of his face. She remembered how air had never tasted so seductive, how water had never seemed so evil... how much she had missed being alive.

That heat, that fire, that sun that her Arizona had worn high like a golden crown, was not gone forever as she had feared.

She had her sun. She had her Jacob.

In a pitiful little world where nothing but gray clouds watched over, Jacob was the sun, and the sleet melted on his searing brown skin and flowed away forever.

The thought that he could be hers had not been conceivable until now. Yet the thought that she could be his was not merely appealing - it was the hand of God reaching out to her, offering her a second chance at life. At true happiness.

He could give her things that Edward could not. In place of material security, Jacob offered her his still beating heart, a soul that he was sure he possessed, an adoration for her that was no less genuine, but so much more fiery. And not a stitch of luggage - just him, on his own two feet.

So she decided.

She would allow him to be her friend. But not for long.

She could deny him no longer. Because what she felt for him...

It was practically love.