Author's Note: Firstly, I sincerely apologize for the delay. I've been writing a lot, but not on this project, and I've been distracted with… Well, have you ever thought you were doing everything about a subject right, and then someone comes along that flips your whole world upside down and shows you a better way? Well, I'm winded and staggering, but back on track… and if he's happy, I'm...
*coughs* ANYWAY, as always, thanks for the reviewing! And Seylin, I remember how you said you liked it when Edward was just verbally throwing Jacob down during a previous chapter and I was hoping you'd like that when I wrote the line. x3 Also, folks, this is just an Eclipse re-write. It will end long before Breaking Dawn starts in the timeline. So… no Jacob/Renesmee imprinting (though I will address that in one of my later fics), or Edward falling for Bella. (Which is the sort of fluffy relationship that just makes me gag. I can only take fluff in small doses…) Also: Heh, I know, DaNiTiC, and I love long reviews, ACE.
Also, I know it's fanfiction and that I can change the ending, but that's not what I use it for. When I write, it's not to change an ending that I didn't like, it's to expand on a world that I'm fascinated by or that I think hasn't been expanded upon properly. I wrote this fic because I knew something was going on in Eclipse that no one was saying, and I had yet to see a Jacob/Edward fic that dealt with the fact that they couldn't even stand the touch or smell of one another, rather than just being emotionally repulsed. So… I decided to try.
Alright, so here's just one more dual-POV chapter, and I think the alternating situations are different enough that you should figure out who's POV is whose. But just as a hint, it starts with Jacob…
Chapter Fourteen: It's Not Over
Bella looked so beautiful and so beautifully broken in the clearing, surrounded by half-melted snow and a wilted forest. The sunlight gave the ground a gentle sparkle, outlined her hunched and defeated frame, and barely touched the hair that hung in her reddened eyes, making it almost glow. She was just so very, very real. So unlike the man she loved.
Why couldn't Jacob have loved her?
It would have been simple, easy, something everyone would have liked. Why couldn't he be more like Edward, willing to find some sort of twisted happiness from everyone else's happiness? It was as if the vampire could live off of just knowing he had made everyone's happily ever after come true.
But he couldn't do it. He couldn't love her, not really.
"I'm in a hurry, Bella," his tone was flat and unfriendly, "Why don't you get it over with?"
She stayed silent, merely looking up at him with still-watery eyes.
"Just say the words and be done with it," Jacob growled impatiently.
You act like this is such a surprise for me, that you won't ever love me, he thought, the bitterness at himself turning outwards to another target. I saw this coming. Just say it. 'I don't love you. I don't want you. You're just a very convenient friend to me.'
If Edward can say it, so can you. And a lump rose in his own throat.
"I'm sorry I'm such a rotten person," Bella whispered, and the level of self-loathing in her voice was a bit startling to Jacob. Did she really care about him as more than a convenience? That was a surprise, but one that came a bit too late. "I'm sorry I've been so selfish," she continued, "I wish I'd never met you, so I couldn't hurt you the way I have. I won't do it anymore, I promise. I'll stay far away from you. I'll move out of the state. You won't have to look at me ever again."
Jacob narrowed his eyes, incredulity managing to rise through the throbbing bitterness that had taken him over. "That's not much of an apology."
Bella swallowed hard. "Tell me how to do it right."
Jacob uncrossed his arms, but his fingers continued to compulsively tighten into fists at his side. "What if I don't want you to go away? What if I'd rather you stayed, selfish or not? Don't I get any say, if you're trying to make things up to me?"
Jacob didn't even know why he wanted to stay near her, whether it was because he couldn't handle losing them both or because she was his only link to Edward now, but all he could think when he thought of her leaving was No.
"That won't help anything, Jake. It was wrong to stay with you when we wanted such different things. It's not going to get better. I'll just keep hurting you. I don't want to hurt you anymore. I hate it." On the last word, her voice broke and new tears formed in her eyes.
The self-flagellation was more than Jacob was willing to witness at that moment. He sighed, wishing his need to fix people would just go away. "Stop. You don't have to say anything else. I understand."
God, he wished there was an easy solution to this. Something that would make them all happy. Why couldn't he or Bella love someone else? Why couldn't they all just somehow make something work together? Why couldn't one of them just die?
And Jacob suddenly felt a fraction of his tension slip at the thought of dying. It was like a man out in the rain comforted by the thought of being home and dry soon. If he died, the problems would all be over, wouldn't they? Both his and Edward's. And Bella's, really. He could almost imagine the moment-helping his brothers out with all the newborns, but as soon as they could handle the fight without him, he could just… slip up.
Many young werewolves make stupid mistakes. They wouldn't guess a thing if he could stay quiet.
Oh, they would mourn, to be sure. But that was nothing compared to the pain he caused when he hung on to everything and tried to force it all to work. And well… dying couldn't be so bad. In fact, it would probably be rather comfortable after the initial pain. Then again, vampire kills were so quick, he probably wouldn't feel a thing. One minute, he would be fighting and the next, his unhappiness would be over.
Jacob's head snapped up, a new light in his eyes. And standing beside Bella's hunched form was Edward, as handsome on the outside as he was ugly on the inside. "Well, you're not the only one capable of self-sacrifice. Two can play at that game," he muttered to them both, a viciously victorious edge to his voice.
He heard a faint whisper of "What?" from someone nearby-but Jacob was too busy talking to himself, and in a way Edward and Bella, to pay much attention to it.
"I've behaved pretty badly myself. I've made this much harder for you than I needed to. I could have given up with good grace at the beginning. But I hurt you, too."
Bella blinked in shock. Jacob's vision of Edward didn't have a flicker of emotion-but why should he, when Jacob himself didn't even know what the vampire would be feeling?
"This is my fault," Bella suddenly insisted, her voice rising. That's odd. She sounds worried about something.
But that wasn't Jacob's main concern-her words were. "I won't let you claim all the blame here, Bella." He let out a humorless laugh. "Or all the glory either. I know how to redeem myself."
"What are you talking about?"
Jacob glanced up at the sun. It was almost high noon, almost time for the newborns to reach the clearing. "There's a pretty serious fight brewing down there," he said quietly, a grin twitching at the corner of his mouth. God, he'd considered this solution before, but never did it seem so… accessible. Easy. "I don't think it will be that difficult to take myself out of the picture."
Vaguely, he heard Bella's breath catch in her throat. "Oh, no, Jake! No, no no no!" She sounded frantic. Almost as if she cared. "No, Jake, no. Please, no!"
But the wolf was in too high spirits to let it stop him. Finally, a new door was open. A door to a place without Edward or Bella or werewolvism or confusion and pain. "What's the difference, Bella?" He shrugged casually and, for once, the gesture felt real. "This will only make it more convenient for everyone. You won't even have to move."
"No!" Her voice jumped up to an even higher volume. "No, Jacob! I won't let you!"
Jacob smiled. He was feeling positively serene. "How will you stop me?"
"Jacob, I'm begging you. Stay with me."
Jacob's gaze and heart hardened. "For fifteen minutes while I miss a good brawl? So that you can run away from me as soon as you think I'm safe again? You've got to be kidding."
And she had better be kidding, because Jacob was tired of being jerked around by pretty girls and horrible, beautiful vampires.
"I won't run away," Bella insisted, looking frantically hopeful. "I've changed my mind. We'll work something out, Jacob. There's always a compromise. Don't go!"
Jacob was unimpressed. "You're lying."
"I'm not. You know what a terrible liar I am. Look in my eyes. I'll stay if you do."
"And I can be your best man at the wedding?"
Bella was still for a long moment. "Please," she said at last.
Oh yes, she would mourn, but not all that much. It was the guilt that would hurt her, not his actual absence. Well, Edward would soon get rid of the guilt, and Edward didn't give a damn about him, so they would both be happy soon enough. And half the pack had imprinted, with more and more doing it by the month. It wouldn't be long until he was worth rather little in their minds, too. After all, what was just some dumb guy in their pack when their only reason for living was one person?
"That's what I thought," Jacob replied darkly, cynically amused at her sidestep of his question. Even more amusing was that, through it all, she was still his friend. He hated her almost as much as he hated Edward and himself, but he would still do almost anything for her. Anything but not die, anyway.
"I love you, Bella," he murmured, rolling the words across his tongue like they tasted funny to him. And in a way, they kind of did.
"I love you, Jacob," she whispered back, sounding wounded by his choice to die.
He smiled. Her lie wasn't enough to change his mind, but it made his day a little brighter. "I know that better than you do."
He put his hands in his pockets, the relaxation settling in further and further, and turned to leave.
"Anything!" He heard her call after him. "Anything you want, Jacob. Just don't do this!"
Jacob turned and slowly looked over his shoulder, still smiling. "I don't really think you mean that."
And he was positive she didn't.
"Stay," she begged, but it sounded like she was stalling. She wouldn't stay, not after that wonderful door was closed. It didn't make her a bad person, that was just how she worked.
Jacob shook his head determinedly. "No, I'm going." But what kind of friend would he be if he didn't toss her a small bone, just to soften her suffering a bit? "But I could leave it up to fate."
"What do you mean?"
"I don't have to do anything deliberate-I could just do my best for my pack and let what happens happen." He shrugged. "If you could convince me you really did want me to come back-more than you wanted to do the selfless thing."
But that would be silly. She had no idea what selfish really was, so how could she be selfless? She thought that kicking Jacob out of her life and taking away the last of Edward's humanity was selflessness.
"How?" she asked, and he knew she would do whatever he told her to in that moment.
"You could ask me," he suggested, a bit of sarcasm creeping into his tone.
"Come back," she whispered, and Jacob all but rolled his eyes. I said ask me, not assume you know the best for me and give me an order.
"That's not what I'm talking about," he said with a small shake of his head, but no amount of annoyance could take the relaxed smile off his face.
She was quiet for a fraction of a second. "Will you kiss me, Jacob?"
Jacob casual mellowness shuddered. "You're bluffing."
Let's hope you're bluffing. You can't honestly think another make-out session will solve anything.
"Kiss me, Jacob. Kiss me, and then come back." Her shoulders were squared. Her voice was sure.
Jacob couldn't even begin to say what he was thinking. He was still sure that she would run as soon as he was safe, but that she was willing to go that far just for his temporary safety said something.
That information alone might have made him start to forgive her, if it wasn't for the one fact that stood against all of her occasional niceties: she was taking the man he loved and killing him. That was unforgivable.
And she thought that Jacob was only madly in love with her, so in her eyes, she was using her own body as a bribe to get the man that loved her to do her bidding. 'I'll give you one little touch if you just do this one thing for me.'
Intelligent. Manipulative. Cruel.
Perhaps it was better that he didn't love her.
But still… She would never know how dirty of a thing she had just done if he didn't kiss her.
But was it really his job to teach her a lesson? Not really.
But, then again, maybe a consensual kiss would be all it takes to make her realize she was in love with him.
Maybe if she realized she loved him, she would genuinely miss him when or if he died. He could use that. It would be kind of nice to have at least one person miss him-and Bella was as good as anyone.
He would kiss her-but he was still angry at her suggestion. He didn't have to be nice.
He reached her in three steps and took her into his arms, his anger transferring into a violent passion, as it had done every time with Edward. Bella held perfectly still. Annoyed, Jacob wondered if she had never kissed anyone like that. Carefully, but still very firmly, he took her wrist and put it over his own shoulder and did the same with the other one, hoping she would take the hint.
Then again, he shouldn't be callous. With the toxic venom in Edward's mouth, she probably couldn't kiss him like that. Still, as her passive resistance continued, his annoyance grew, and he abandoned her mouth to kiss and nip down the line of her jaw and into the feminine slope of her throat.
So, so different than Edward. There were no hands clutching at him, no soft and resistant groans, no twitches that gave away the real level of arousal. Just the thought of it, even as he kissed a friend he felt nothing but disgust for, made his mouth water.
"You can do better than this, Bella," he muttered tauntingly against her chill-not ice cold-skin. "You're over-thinking it." If you're going to sell your body as a bribe, you had better learn to do it right.
But instead of plugging her nose and diving in, she shivered and half-melted. It was as if his words had touched a chord in her and he half-wondered if that was the feeling of her denial melting away.
"That's right. For once, just let yourself feel what you feel," he encouraged softly. Let someone, just one person in this damned world, love him. But at those words, she shook her head and half pulled back, and the annoyance came rushing back.
"Are you sure you want me to come back?" Jacob asked, the taunting edge back. "Or did you really want me to die?" No, you don't want me to die, you just want me to keep doing what's convenient for you.
She didn't say anything, but at that, her fingers suddenly clutched at his hair with a wild fervor, and with that same mixture of bitterness and amusement, Jacob matched the passion step for step. She kissed him like he was all she could ever want, and by the way one had slid sensually through his hair while the other clung to his shoulder with need, he was vividly aware that she was aching only for him in that moment.
That's more like it.
Too bad it was too late.
He pulled back, smiling slightly at how her lips jerked after his as he put distance between them. His relaxed happiness was back, and he was pleased to see reality slowly dawning on her. Yes, you just cheated on your fiancé and sold yourself to meet your own ends. You're halfway to a vampire already.
"I have to leave," he whispered, still not wanting to miss the battle. He still had no intention of not dying.
"No," she whispered back, still holding on to him.
"I won't be long. But one thing first…"
He knew he owed her this much at least. He bent and kissed her slowly, sweetly. Every ounce of their up-and-down but sure friendship into that one kiss. It was how he had wanted to kiss her every day they had fixed motorcycles together. "That should have been our first kiss. Better late than never."
She swallowed hard and pressed her face against his chest. Jacob gave her one final squeeze before stepping back. "I'll be right back," he grinned teasingly and then sprinted into the trees. He didn't bother clearing his mind, though. He knew he couldn't have, anyway.
Let the pack find out. It wasn't as if he'd be alive much longer.
He released his hold on his already-shaking body and exploded into his secondary form, built for ripping vampires apart and taking harder hits than a truck could, and howled with joy at the physical manifestation of his new mental freedom.
He felt the whole pack with him, he heard them gleaning the dialog of his argument with Edward from his mind, he saw them look at the vision of an emotionless Edward blurred by tears.
Stop it, mutt.
The words still ached in Jacob's heart, and he felt the pack feel that.
What surprised him, though, was that he didn't feel any shock. Just… resignation. Worried acceptance. Semi-supportive incredulity. And the knowledge that they'd known since the day Leah confronted him. They'd known and had just humored his attempt at being secretive.
You could have just told me you knew and kicked me out of the pack, you know, Jacob commented darkly.
No-we need you. Sam replied. You're our brother. You belong with us, and we need you.
A semi-hysterical laugh escaped Jacob, garbled by a dog throat. He had forgotten, with Edward gone, they were one short during the fight. They couldn't afford to lose another fighter for their side, it would be risky to the loyal pack members. Afterwards, he would probably be disposable, though.
Perhaps he deserved that for lying to them, but it still stung a little.
Now, Jacob, Sam began, but Jacob ignored him. It was okay. He lied to them. They lied to him. They were all even.
Jacob, we just wanted you to be the one to tell us. That's why we didn't tell you, Quil said quietly, and Jacob heard the sentiment echoed from the others.
Still, much like Bella's epiphany, it came a little late.
He stood silently and faced the direction the newborns were coming, refusing to look at his packmates as they arrived one by one. Sam and Carlisle had split them into two teams. Jacob led Quil, Paul, Jared, Emmett, Alice and Jasper-he'd learned their names after hearing them enough times during the practice fights. Meanwhile, Sam led Leah, Embry, Carlisle, Esme and the blonde… Rosalie, I think.
Jacob heard Quil join him first, and then Paul and Jared just a few moments longer. They flanked him, their concern for him offsetting their eagerness for battle-even for Paul. Jacob rolled his wolf eyes. They all had imprints, it wasn't as if they would miss him all that much. The sun was bright, the air was clear, the forest smelled nice and felt gentle and quiet. It was a good day to die.
He felt three sets of eyes turn towards him immediately.
You know… hypothetically, he replied casually, not particularly caring whether they believed him or not.
Through Seth's ears, he could hear that Edward was back in the tent with Bella, but he couldn't make out the words. He vaguely wondered if he went too far in teaching her a lesson. He knew he had left her under the impression that anything she did would affect his decision to die or not, and since he would die, perhaps that was a little too much guilt for one person.
Even for someone like Bella.
He heard a good deal of small animals start to scatter, sensing the danger that was coming. Jacob could feel the fur on the back of his neck prickle, and knew it would be less than even ten minutes before the pack of newborns came down around their heads. He had only a little time to undo the potential damage he could have done.
Seth! he called, instinctively looking over his shoulder in the other wolf's direction, even though they were miles and miles apart. Seth, can you do something for me?
The young werewolf's tone was wary. What?
I need you to relay a message for me, Jacob said quickly, seeing the other wolves tense as they heard the rushing of many things running quickly through the woods and still tried to pay attention to Jacob's words. Jacob ignored them. I may have said something a little hastily when I left Bella. Edward has probably seen what it is from your mind. Could you tell him to tell Bella it was a lie? I don't want her thinking it's her fault or anything.
Jacob… Jake, it is a lie, isn't it? Seth asked shakily.
Jacob laughed. Hardly. And then he turned towards the rushing sound with a resolute set of his paws, hoping the message got to Edward and that he would do what Jacob asked him to. After all, after all that Jacob had gave, it was the least that soulless leech-that poor, broken person-could do.
x X x
When Edward received the message, he automatically cringed, but Bella's face was pressed into the sleeping bag so she didn't notice. When he went back with Seth, that was how he had found her, and she hadn't moved since. He softly stroked her hair, watching Jacob through the others' eyes, and he'd heard the sentiment along with the words through Seth.
And as much as he hated it, he agreed-and he would do it, however distasteful it was. After all, after how much Jacob had done, Edward supposed it was the least he could give in return. A little peace for a dying man. A dying wolf.
Edward began with a reluctant chuckle. "And I thought I fought dirty. He makes me look like the patron saint of ethics."
Come on, you can do better than that, he told himself firmly. Jacob was lying, Jacob was lying, Jacob was lying. Tell yourself that enough and it becomes the truth. Jacob was lying.
"I'm not mad at you, love," he continued, his hand moving from her hair to her cheek. "Jacob's more cunning than I gave him credit for. I do wish you hadn't asked him, though."
Bella sniffed. "Edward. I… I… I'm-"
He cut her off with a gentle shushing noise.
Jacob was lying. Jacob was lying.
"That's not what I meant. It's just that he would have kissed you anyway-even if you hadn't fallen for it-and now I don't have an excuse to break his face. I would have really enjoyed that, too."
"Fallen for it?"
Edward swallowed hard, glad that he didn't have to do this while she was looking at him. He was disgusted with himself. With Jacob, too. He should have told the man to go fuck himself, that he should stay alive so he could tell Bella he was lying himself.
So that he would have incentive to come back.
"Bella, did you really believe he was that noble? That he would go out in a flame of glory just to clear the way for me?" Edward asked, trying to sound like the very idea was ridiculous. He kept his face soft and emotionless just in case she looked up, and he was glad for it because that was just what she did.
"Yes, I did believe that," she grumbled faintly, staring at him with blank desolation, but then her expression crumpled and she buried her face again.
Jacob was lying.
"You're such a bad liar, you'll believe anyone who has the least bit of skill."
"Why aren't you angry with me?" Bella whispered. "Why don't you hate me? Or haven't you heard the whole story yet?"
Yes, Edward had definitely seen the whole story, the whole pack had picked it up, but it was rather secondary in their minds. It was rather secondary in Edward's too.
"I think I got a fairly comprehensive look. Jacob makes vivid mental pictures. I feel almost as bad for his pack as I do for myself. Poor Seth was getting nauseated. But Sam is making Jacob focus now."
He could hear the alpha's snarling through Seth. He, along with the rest of the pack, was slowly realizing the intensity and the drive of Jacob's master plan. He was scared. He was horrified. He wanted to find a way for Jacob to stay, but the russet wolf was convinced that he was going to be kicked out of the pack, that Bella would forget about him, that Edward didn't love him.
He was going to die.
No. No, Jacob was lying. Jacob was lying.
God, I wish he was lying.
x X x
The rushing noise split into two halves, and Jacob heard Sam's group tense. They had all given up talking to him. They were all convinced that they would have a chance to yell at him after the fight-like he was really going to be there. Like they could really stop him.
His mood was so high, he flashed a wolfish grin just as a dozen newborn vampires flooded the clearing.
He would've been afraid of their numbers if he wasn't so damned happy to see them.
Half of them, probably having never seen werewolves, froze in their tracks, growing horror in their eyes. Jacob lunged, his first kill almost depressingly easy. He sent the head flying one direction and the limbs in another, and caved in the entire torso with one slam of his paw. Let the disgusting thing try to reassemble itself now. Meanwhile, he heard Quil having trouble with one of the braver newborns and Jacob leapt into the fray, causing a distraction while Quil decapitated it with a single snap of his jaws. Jacob snickered as his brother spat out the fragments of the thing, but quickly moved to the next one.
They were too new to being vampires. They fought like humans-lunging and punching and losing limbs because of it. The next time one did that, Jacob grabbed the swinging arm in his jaws and sent the remainder of the body flying through the air with a massive sweep of his own paw. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Emmett rip one of the newborns to absolute shreds, laughing all the way. Crazy bastard.
It wasn't long before another battle appeared in the space, the second team having driven the other newborns into the clearing. The two vampire groups instantly jumped into the same group to protect each other's backs, but Alice and Jasper-moving faster than Jacob had ever seen them move in the play battles-darted through the clump and absolutely shattered it. Vampires went everywhere, and they were losing badly. Carlisle and Esme were taking one down and Sam and Leah had teamed up with another one. Jacob heard Paul's distinctive snarl then saw an unidentifiable body part fly past him. The newborns, just scared teenagers really, were screaming now. Screaming and crying and falling to pieces everywhere.
Jacob's pack didn't need him there anymore. There was no way they would lose. And with that, Jacob immediately attacked two newborns at once, swiping at them both with one swing. They darted out of his range and then teamed up against him. They were fast, but Jacob was faster. Unfortunately, as soon as he was crushing one against the ground, the other leapt at his throat and he was forced to release the leech. He turned to snap at the second one, but in that moment, the first wrapped its arms around Jacob's throat.
For one frozen moment, Jacob vividly felt cold arms begin to crush his neck before he saw a flash of brilliant blonde hair and one of the arms was missing, shortly followed by the head and the rest of the vampire. He opened his eyes and saw Rosalie staring furiously at him. "Stupid move, mutt."
Jacob curled a lip into a vague sneer, but he couldn't reply, so he just turned and leapt for the next one. It was kind of nice, being able to be reckless for a while. Rather fun, really. And it wasn't as if he had anyone he had to go home to.
x X x
Edward's breath caught in his throat, and without thinking, he was on his feet. He didn't have time to go through the door, so he grabbed the ceiling of the tent and ripped the whole thing down. Seth was already turning towards him, crouching, ready to spring towards the clearing. He was fast. He was strong. He was a wolf.
He could survive and make Jacob make it out of there, too.
For a single, frozen second, they breathed the same air, knowing that they shared the same feeling even though the mind link only went one way-utter horror.
Edward clenched his fists. "Go, Seth!"
And the young werewolf was gone.
He had almost done it. Jacob had really, almost done it. If Rosalie hadn't been at a loss for a newborn to fight, the werewolf would have been beheaded.
Maybe with Seth there, they could all kill the newborns before Jacob could use one of them as an easy out. Edward was with Bella-they would figure something out. Or someone or something could get Jacob under control. Maybe his pack could work to reign his heart back in.
But just as he began feeling hopeful, he smelled two things simultaneously: Victoria and whatever vampire had been in Bella's room.
With one quick motion, he grabbed Bella and pushed her back against the rock face, assuming a fighting position in front of her.
"Who?" Edward heard Bella whisper behind him.
"Victoria," he answered, already feeling the defensive snarl rumbling in his chest, and praying hopelessly that Seth was still in range, that he would hear her and her companion coming. "She's not alone. She crossed my scent, following the newborns in to watch-she never meant to fight with them. She made a spur-of-the-moment decision to find me, guessing that you would be wherever I was. She was right." He clenched his fists again. "You were right. It was always Victoria."
He heard a twig at the edge of the trees snap and turned his head towards the sound just in time to see Victoria and a blond boy-Riley, Edward quickly found out his name was, appear from the shadows. From Victoria's mind, all he saw was vision after upsetting vision of Bella's violent demise. From Riley's, he saw worries about his newborn friends, visions of passionate nights with Victoria, and repeated flashes of a boy named Diego that watched Riley as if he was all the world to him and stared at him in horror and hurt as Riley killed him.
The other boy's gaze reminded him of Jacob's.
Edward gave a tiny shake of his head. He couldn't think about that now, not when the plan Victoria was all but chanting in her mind was going to be so effective. Riley would attack Edward and Victoria would kill Bella as soon as he was distracted. And while Edward knew he was a pretty good fighter, he couldn't take on someone like Victoria and another vampire.
He needed to get rid of Riley. Edward dug in the boy's mind further and, once again, came to thoughts being torn between Victoria and that Diego. Doubts about his choice. Doubts about Victoria herself. Doubts that Edward, hopefully, could use as a wedge between the two vampires.
"Riley," Edward said, just barely above a murmur. "She's been lying to you, Riley."
x X x
Jacob was panting, bits of fur torn from his body and bleeding from cuts and bad scrapes from being thrown multiple times-but he was still happy. The battle was all but won, but it wasn't over. Not yet.
He flashed his teeth at one of the remaining newborns as he and Jared leapt at it simultaneously. The two of them blocked its way, forcing it back against a tree and dodging its wild punches. Jared turned one of his ducking movements into an attack and knocked the leech of its feet, which Jacob promptly pinned there. As one, they both reached down, grabbed an arm and tore their prey in half.
Jacob glanced down at his half . I win. Do I get a wish?
Not with the kinds of things you'd wish for, no. Jared grumbled and tossed his down. I killed more vampires than you, anyway.
Jacob snickered. Yeah, but you took all of yours down with a partner.
Across the clearing, he heard an exasperated sigh from Sam. Hello? Battle for our lives going on right now.
Paul came padding up next to him. Not anymore.
Jacob glanced around. The clearing was covered in chunks of stone, moving, crawling, trying to pull themselves back together, but no one was left standing. The wolves and Cullens slowly started picking up pieces and tossing them into a big pile, and Emmett was fishing in his pockets.
Meanwhile, Alice had rushed over to Carlisle and the others and was whispering very urgently with them. Jacob wasn't sure what about, but the head vampire called over the others and left the wolf pack to clean up the mess.
Which most of them did gladly-except for Jacob.
He was too busy standing at the edge of the clearing and scanning every inch of it for a potential enemy, trying to fight back the bitter disappointment that was beginning to rise in his throat. He didn't die. He got so close, more than once, but he didn't die. He just… stayed alive. Stayed…
He slowly closed his eyes-that is, until a low, feminine snarl grabbed his attention. He looked up to see Leah facing a rustling bush, half-crouched and waiting for the thing inside to jump out.
And with a flash of glittering white, Jacob's hope soared once more.
x X x
Things hadn't gone well. With a few soft, loving words from Victoria, Riley's doubts were wiped away and both vampires had turned to attack the vampire that stood between them and Bella.
Edward couldn't stop the pure, unadulterated joy and relief as Seth came thundering back to the little clearing by the cliff face, pinning Riley down and shredding his arms and hands. The wolf jumped back just as the newborn aimed a kick for his shoulder, but he wasn't fast enough to keep the attack from landing. The cracking noise reminded Edward of his and Jacob's fight in the practice field, of Jacob's persistence and his confession.
Edward… Edward, I love you.
The vampire tightened his fists. He couldn't think about that now, not with Victoria shuffling back and forth, looking for an opening and forcing him to match her steps. They stepped together, her both aggressive and fearful, him compensating. It was almost like a dance, though less like the kind on polished marble floors and more like the kind on dirt that moved to the beat of clanging and clashing steel.
A few yards away, Edward heard Seth take hit after hit and dish out everything he got back. Through Seth's mind, he watched Jacob still fighting a mass of newborn vampires with his pack.
With one backwards shuffle, Edward realized that Victoria was attempting to escape, and quickly-verbally-reached out for her. A few short taunts about James and how much he cared for her and she was back into the dance, fury at him mixing with her frustration and hatred of Bella. Fury that made her foolish.
The fight between Riley and Seth wheeled closer and Seth passed just behind Edward, his tail brushing his waist and shoulder-a sign of silent support to other two vampires.
Riley ignored it, not understanding the significance, but Victoria's eyed widened comically. From her mind, Edward heard her confusion and surprise, stunned that the mortal enemies were fighting together. Voluntarily, rather than out of real need.
"No, he won't turn on me," Edward replied to the question repeating in the back of her mind. "You provided us with a common enemy. You allied us."
Not a lot of vampires knew about werewolves. The only ones who really could know were all of the old ones and any young vampires who knew the old ones. Carlisle had told Edward about them. The Volturi had sent out huge hunting parties to wipe out every werewolf-man, woman or child. Because of that, they had become very, very scarce, and it was rare to run into any sort of pack. It was rather startling for his family when they had moved to Washington and encountered one. It was terrifying, but they learned that the pack was as scared of vampires as they were of them, so they made a treaty and tried to ignore one another.
Victoria, and the two men she once traveled with, were one of the few vampires that had encountered a werewolf. He could see visions of them tracking a baffling scent across Siberia until they came across its source: a middle-aged werewolf. He could see the animal through Victoria's eyes, and it was a pitiful sight. It had no family, no hope. It stayed alive merely because of the twisted sort of immortality given to werewolves, but it was utterly miserable. At the sight of the vampires, he was inflamed with rage-and even knowing he couldn't win, he attacked all three, merely on principle. It wasn't long before he was torn to pieces. Literally.
And Victoria thought that every werewolf was like that.
"Look more closely, Victoria," Edward nodded to Seth, and used the distraction of the conversation to move closer to the woman. "Is he really so much like the monster James tracked across Siberia?"
Victoria glanced between Seth and Edward, disbelief growing out of the confusion. It made no sense to her, that every vampire's worst nightmare was actually a potential ally. "Not the same?" she asked, overlaying her image of that other torn creature to Seth. And though Edward hadn't realized it at first, there did seem to be a rather distinct difference between the two. Seth's shoulders weren't as bulky, and though that could just be attributed to age, the way his nose stopped short like a Shepherd's and not like a wolf's couldn't. His whole frame seemed a bit… softer. Domesticated.
It was like looking at two different species of dogs-the body shape was mostly similar, but there were little details that set them apart and made them too different to lump into the same category. Were there differences in werewolves based on region, or were the Quileute wolves something completely different? Edward knew they could shift when there wasn't a full moon, but did traditional werewolves?
He was pulled from the line of thought by Victoria's still-disbelieving and angry "Impossible!"
Edward smirked lightly. "Nothing is impossible. Except what you want. You'll never touch her."
And their dance tripled in speed. She kept attempting to duck around him, push him to the side, slid between him and Bella-but he blocked her, knocked her hand away from him with a sharp crack and made sure he was always between the two women. Their odd little battle became violent, though, when she lashed directly out at him-not to reach Bella, but merely to cause pain to him. Edward felt claw marks across his shoulder where she had raked him and narrowed his eyes. The next time she reached for him, he disabled the hand with a grab and twist of his own wrist. She gasped in pain and fury and her next attack just much closer to his throat. No longer playing passively defensive, Edward curved his fingers into claws and his steps turned aggressive.
x X x
The newborn leapt from the underbrush, terrified and furious, trembling from head to toe but facing them with clenched fists. Leah laughed and jumped forward.
When she was knocked back by a violent shove from the leech, Jacob's hope got any higher. He began to run to that side of the clearing.
Leah lashed out with a paw, but the vampire ducked out of the way and pressed her back defensively to the tree. The rest of the pack moved forward to help Leah, but Jacob was faster.
x X x
With one last wild, desperately disappointed look in Bella's direction, Victoria turned and bolted. She was fast, but Edward was much faster, and he caught up to her before she even made it through the trees.
With one sharp snap of his nearly indestructible teeth, he broke her spinal cord and took her head clear off her shoulders. With a flash of flowing, red hair, her head bounced and rolled halfway across the clearing.
Meanwhile, Seth had finished disassembling his enemy and was barking joyously, both at the victory and at Jacob being alive.
In less than ten more minutes, vampire and wolf had all the broken pieces of Victoria and Riley piled together and covered with pine needles before the whole thing was lit. The smell burned Edward's nose with its overwhelming sweetness, and for a moment, Edward wondered if that was what he smelled like to Jacob. But then how was he able to get so close all the time?
Edward glanced from the flames to Seth and back to Bella. They had made it. Everyone had survived.
Everything was going to be okay.
x X x
Leah fell back, but her body was coiled to spring. The newborn fell into a fighting crouch. Jacob's door to joy and freedom flew wide open. He was going to be free! In less than a handful of seconds, his misery would be nothing at all.
The force of his paws on the ground and his size carried him forward at an incredible speed and, when he collided with Leah, he sent the female werewolf tumbling. As soon as he slid into her place, the young vampire moved. Through Seth's ears, he vaguely heard an agonized scream of "No! Don't-"
That almost sounds like Edward.
-before frigid arms closed around his neck and haunches in a mock-hug and he was crushed like an empty soda can.
"The tears run down like razor blades
And no, I'm not the one to blame
It's you, or is it me?
And all the words we never say come out
And now we're all ashamed
There's no sense in playing games when you've done all you can do
Now it's over, it's over
Why is it over?
We had the chance to make it…"
~"It's Not Over" by Secondhand Serenade
A/N: Again, I'm very sorry for the delay, especially because I actually had this one finished for a while and just kept putting off posting it… Well, it's posted now, and I'm hammering away at the final chapter, trying to fit it into a logical timeline.
Also- this song was honestly a bit hard to pick, since I needed something that could explain both sides. I actually had two different songs in the running, since I didn't decide on whose POV it would be until it was almost done. In the end, I just took chunks out of both versions of the chapter and kind of crunched them together and chose this song.
Wow, this is actually a rather short A/N for once… Don't really have much to say.
Oh! Also, if you paid close attention there, you caught a hint of another upcoming fic. I read that Bree Tanner story a couple weeks ago and, well, decided to expand on it a little. *roguish grin*