Disclaimer: I own nothing. This entire world belongs to SM.

Dread was the major thought on Bella's mind when she woke up Monday morning. She had actually enjoyed her time away from reality with Jacob and his friends. Now it was back to real life.

Bella slipped into the classroom just as the bell rang. This was the way Bella liked it now. She didn't have to face her old friends; have to feel their pity or feel them judging her. About halfway through English, she made eye contact with Angela. She didn't miss Jessica's whining, or Eric's yammering, or Mike's constant inappropriate flirting, but she did miss Angela.

Lunch was the same as it had been for the past seven or so weeks. She sat at her table alone with a bottle of water and some uneaten fruit. She looked over at her old table; the one she used to share with the Forks gang. She thought back to when she first arrived here and how welcome they had made her feel. But she had pretty much dropped them to the wayside when she had become involved with him and his family. She never really realized how isolated she really was. She had a life before them and maybe, if she tried a little harder, she could have part of that life back.

As if it were some cosmic sign, her phone went off. It was a text from Jacob. lunch r u busy?

She opened her phone and called him. "Hey, what's up?"

"I had to get a hold of you. Our favorite deviant just got detention for the week. Now ask me why."

"Why?"

"He got caught drilling a peep hole into the girls' locker room!" Jacob chuckled.

"Quil did what?" Bella giggled.

"He got caught drilling-"

"Jacob, I heard you the first time. I was just saying… that is straight out of Porky's. But you probably don't remember that movie." Bella giggled more.

"Of course I know that movie. I've raided Dad's old VHS collection a time or two. And that has one of the hottest scenes of all time. Kim Cattrall howling like a wolf."

Bella could hear the sexual undertones in Jacob's voice but chose to ignore them. This piece of news had just made her day. She laughed out loud. All of a sudden she felt eyes on her. It was making her very uncomfortable.

"Hey, I will call you after school. I have a bit of an audience here and I need to get ready for my next class. Thanks for the laugh." Bella quickly hung up her phone.

They were all staring at her. But the eyes that were the most intense were Angela's. Was that … hurt she saw? Angela got up to take her tray to the conveyer belt. Bella went over to her. "Hey," she said timidly.

"Hey. I see you're back amongst the living. Was that like…Edward or something on the phone? Are they coming back?" Angela asked.

"No, that was just my friend Jacob from the reservation. I spent the weekend out there and he had to tell me something funny that happened with one of our friends and his school," Bella gushed.

"Jacob, wasn't he that skinny kid from La Push Beach?" Angela questioned.

"Yeah, that's him. But he has really shot up and filled out in the past few months. He looks so much older. You probably would not even recognize him." Bella wondered why she felt compelled to justify her friendship with Jacob to Angela. They were just friends after all, weren't they? "So anyway Angela, I have been meaning to call you. Do you want to hang out sometime? Maybe do some homework, go to a movie or something?"

"I would love to Bella. It is great to have you back." Angela gave Bella a hug. Bella tried to hold back her hesitation. She had never been a touchy feely kind of person and physical contact sometimes made her uncomfortable.

"I have been here the whole time. I haven't gone anywhere." Bella gently replied.

"I am glad to have YOU back."

"Well in that case, I guess I am glad to BE back." Bella said, releasing Angela from the hug. The bell rang and Bella walked to her next class. She had wondered what exactly Angela meant. But more importantly, was she really back? Charlie wanted her back. Jacob and her friends in La Push wanted her back. She was even reconnecting with Angela and maybe the others. Hell, even he wanted her to have a normal life, right? Maybe she was back, or at the very least on her way back and she liked it. Bella smiled to herself because she liked the sound of that.

XXX

Her calls to Jacob became more and more frequent. They spent hours on the phone talking about everything and some things of no real consequence. He had invited her down to the rez to spend the weekend but she informed him that she and Angela were going to a movie on Saturday in Port Angeles, but she could come down Sunday. Bella offered to bring dinner for him, Charlie and his dad.

He seemed a little disappointed at first but hid it well. "I am glad that you are going to have fun with some of your friends from Forks, Bella. I am sure you don't want to waste all your time down here with us rez kids. Plus, Angela seemed nice."

"She is nice, but don't think for a minute that I don't enjoy my time with you guys."

Bella could hear the deep sigh of relief come from Jacob. "I guess that gives me extra time to work on the Rabbit Saturday anyway."

"Hey, do you have any requests for Sunday? Anything special you want?" Bella asked.

"We can do whatever you want," Jacob quickly replied.

"Good to know, but I meant for dinner, silly. Any requests?"

"Oh…anything you cook is fine. It has to be better than the toaster pizzas and macaroni and cheese we normally have."

"How about I make a big roast with vegetables? I will bring rolls and a salad with it. I am sure there will be plenty left and you and Billy can make sandwiches or something for the next couple nights." Bella offered.

Jacob was quiet for a moment then he spoke softly, "Thanks Bella. That is really cool of you to do."

"Well I care about you guys. You're like family to me. I finally have Charlie eating normal meals and not at the diner every night. I will see what I can do about you and Billy. Maybe I will make up a few things you can freeze and then heat up throughout the week." Bella was already making mental notes on the meals she could prepare.

Again there was a long pause before Jacob spoke. "Well you are like family to us too. I hope you know how much you mean to me… to Dad and me."

There was an awkward silence. Bella quickly broke it, "Well I need to get going. I need to head to the grocery store; menus to plan and food to cook."

"Yeah, um take care Bells and I will see you Sunday."

""Bye Jacob." And with that, she hung up the phone.

XXX

Saturday Bella spent most of the morning cooking. She made double batches of beef stew and chicken and noodles; putting each in gallon bags. Two lasagnas and two chicken enchilada casseroles rounded out her morning. She made one for home and one for Jacob's. She also found that this made her life easier. She was set for the week for her and Charlie. Now the only cooking left would be tomorrow morning. She wanted the roast to be nice and fresh.

After all her cooking, she went up to take a shower and get ready for her afternoon with Angela. Angela showed up just as Bella finally sat down on the couch to rest.

"You look tired, Bella. Are you sure you are up for the movie?" Angela questioned.

"Yeah, I just needed to sit for a minute. I got up early to make up most of our meals for the week. I made extra so I could take some food down for Billy and Jacob. It's just the two of them and Billy is in a wheelchair. He's also a diabetic and I wanted them to be able to eat something that wasn't junk food."

"So you're doing it for his dad, right? Jacob has nothing to do with it?" Angela snickered.

"Well of course I want him to eat well, too. He is my friend." Bella replied, not really understanding Angela's questioning.

"Your friend that has really shot up and filled out, so much that I probably would not even recognize him." Angela threw Bella's words back in her face.

Bella finally caught on to Angela's insistent questioning and quickly replied, "He's fifteen, Angela. I think that is illegal. We are just friends." She rolled her eyes; the irritation was more than apparent.

Angela just smirked and nodded her head in agreement. She knew pushing the issue would only annoy Bella. She was happy to have her friend back and didn't want to upset her. After a little bit of cleaning up, they were on their way to Port Angeles.

The movie was okay. It was one of those stupid comedies that don't make you think. It was a perfect choice. They caught a burger afterwards. Angela caught Bella up on a lot of the gossip she had missed.

Tyler and Lauren had been caught making out in the back of the bus on the way home from an away game and Mike had caught it with his camera phone. Lauren had offered Mike a little action to delete the picture from his cell phone and Jessica had gotten wind of it. By the end of the next week, Jessica had it all over school and also had Lauren suffering from some horrible STD before it was over with.

Angela talked about other kids they went to school with. Bella listened and could not believe all the things that had gone on under her nose in the past few weeks. Angela also told Bella all about her and Eric. Bella listened but tuned out most of it. The more perfect Angela made Eric sound, the more she thought about him. She had promised herself to get over it and she was trying to make good on that promise.

The ride home was pretty quiet. Bella found herself falling asleep. It had been a long day and she was ready to be home and in bed. She thanked Angela for the evening and then headed inside to find that there was no Charlie waiting up. She quickly changed and went to lie down. As tired as she was, sleep eluded her. She found her thoughts wondering for the first time in a while to him. She made a decision to cleanse her mind of him. Bella was finally seemingly free of the nightmares and she did not want them to return.

She looked over at the clock. It was almost one in the morning. She wondered if Jacob was awake. She decided to send him a text and see if he responded. As soon as she went to put her phone back down, it lit up with a response. She smiled, he is always there. She thought. She dialed the number and was met with an instant answer.

"Hey." Jacob's voice sounded like he had just woke up.

"Did I wake you? I will let you go back to sleep."

"It's fine Bella. I had just gone to bed anyway. Embry barely left a bit ago. Besides who needs sleep when I could be talking with you." Bella could hear the smile in Jacob's voice.

"What did you and Embry do?" Bella asked.

"Same old, same old. I am saving the big Quil conversation for tomorrow. I want to see your face. How was the movie with Angela?" Jacob questioned back. Obviously he thought she had something to tell.

"It was okay. You would have liked the movie though. It was stupid funny. She talked a lot about things from school."

"Did you miss a lot, find out anything interesting?" Jacob probed.

"A couple got caught making out on the back of the school bus by a guy who took a picture with his cell phone. The girl, a total slut named Lauren, had offered the guy a little action to erase it. It got back to his girlfriend and then she flipped and started all these rumors. Total high school drama."

"Lauren? Is she like a blond and wears a lot of makeup and tight clothes?" Jacob asked.

"Yes, why do you ask?" Bella was getting a knot in the pit of her stomach. She had heard that Lauren had 'visited' the rez. Surely she had not gotten her claws into her Jacob.

"She comes down to the rez sometimes. A few, well okay, a lot of the guys I know, well 'know her' if you catch my drift. She is kind of like a rite of passage" he chuckled to himself.

"Rite of passage?"

"Well if you are looking to lose something, you know who to call."

"Oooh." Bella replied, and then the ramifications of what he said hit her. "How well do you know her?" The words were out of her mouth before she could take them back.

"Are you asking if she popped my cherry Bella?" Jacob was totally laughing at her.

"I know I shouldn't ask. It's none of my business. Just forget I even said anything." Bella felt completely humiliated. But part of her wondered why the thought of Lauren with Jacob bothered her so much.

"You can ask me anything. No. I have never found use of Lauren's services. It sounds kind of weird but my Mom said something that always stuck with me. I mean she died when I was like eight, but she told me that I belonged to one girl and when the time was right, I would know whom that was. I didn't understand what she was talking about at the time, but it stuck. And I know that girl is not Lauren." Jacob was very quiet.

Bella felt awkward. She didn't know if the feeling was generated from Jacob talking about his dead mom, his sex life or something else but she felt the need to break this awkwardness. "Has Embry or Quil taken her up on her offer?"

Jacob snickered. "Embry, hell no. Quil, I would know if he actually had sex with anyone other than himself. So the answer there is another no. Shit, maybe Lauren has standards."

This was better. They were making fun of others and not talking personally anymore.

Bella yawned into the phone. "I am getting tired Jacob. I have to get some sleep before I see you in a few hours. Thanks."

"Thanks? Thanks for what?" Jacob asked.

"Thanks," Bella thought carefully before she spoke, "for being you and talking to me in the early hours of the morning, just because I needed to talk."

"We didn't talk about much, Bella." Jacob was a little confused.

"It was enough to clear my mind. I think I can sleep now. See you tomorrow Jacob."

"Night, Bells. Anytime you want to talk. I am here." They both hung up.

XXX

Bella woke up tired. She had not dreamt of Edward but she had dreamt. She could not remember what it was only that she was pretty sure Jacob and Lauren had been in it. She had slept in and needed to get the food in the oven. Charlie was already sitting at the kitchen table when Bella walked downstairs. He was reading the paper and finishing up his cup of coffee. "Morning sleepyhead."

"Morning. Are you hungry? I can fix up something quick while I start the roast." Bella was already pulling out the roasting pan and turning on the oven.

"I'm fine. I am saving all my room for the roast." Charlie said putting down the paper and taking a drink of coffee. "Did you have a nice time with Angela?"

"It was okay. Saw a stupid movie. We went for a burger and then caught up on the latest school gossip."

"Did you miss much?"

"No, not really," Bella continued to wash and peel the vegetables as she talked. "Just a lot of silly 'who is seeing who' kind of talk. Angela and Eric are seeing each other and it is getting kind of serious. You know; that kind of stuff. I have a feeling I was probably a hot topic around school, but of course Angela saved my feelings."

"I saw a lot of food in the fridge when I came home last night Bella. It looks like you cooked enough for an army."

"Oh that. I just made up meals for the week for us and the Blacks. That reminds me. I need to write out heating instructions for each dish." Bella placed all the vegetables in the roasting dish and began to prepare the meat with seasoning.

Charlie watched as his daughter prepared the meal. "That was awful nice of you Bella. Billy can't get around like he used to and ever since Rachel and Rebecca left home; it is just him and Jacob. They do the best they can but I admit, they know their way around the kitchen about as much as I do.

"I don't get it. Some of the worlds greatest chefs are men, yet all of the men in my life can't boil water." Bella put the dish in the oven and went to sit down at the table. She started writing out the instructions.

"All the men in your life," Charlie chuckled.

"Why are you chuckling? I swear. You do something nice and all you get is crap. I'm going upstairs to take a shower. I'll finish the instructions when I get done. Oh, we have about and hour and a half till it will be time to leave."

Charlie just chuckled again to himself as he watched his daughter walk out of the room.

XXX

The ride out to the reservation was quiet. Bella found herself getting more anxious to get there. She just wanted to get away from her dad and his snickers. She wanted to hang out in the garage and watch Jacob work on the Rabbit. She wanted to talk about Quil and his recent behavior. She just wanted to lose herself and not think about anything.

Jacob was running to greet them when they arrived. He enveloped Bella in a huge bear hug before letting her down to help Charlie with the food. They set everything down on the table. Bella turned on the stove and watched Charlie and Billy settle in front of the television. Jacob broke the silence, "Can I help?"

"Sure thing, first put that food in the freezer. Then you can help me by washing the vegetables for the salad."

"Everything looks great Bells. You sure outdid yourself. Thanks for everything."

"No problem. I am just going to heat up the roast and rolls. We should be eating in about a half an hour."

They heard cursing coming from the other room. "Sounds like Dad and Charlie are watching the game. I don't think the Seahawks are doing well."

"Seahawks, huh? Maybe they will hit a homerun or something and come back to win."

Jacob laughed. "The Seahawks are football Bella. Homeruns are baseball, the Mariners."

"Sorry. Maybe they will score a goal then," Bella looked at Jacob who was still shaking his head. "Make a basket?" she squeaked, hoping she wasn't completely useless. Jacob still shook his head no.

"Score a touchdown, Bells. Are you sure Charlie is your father? I think I have to lower your age. Maybe you are like twenty now."

"Shut up. I may not know sports, but I know things a lot of other things you would think are cool."

"Like what? Tell me something cool you know that I don't know you know." Jacob goaded.

"I know," Bella started.

"Yes?" Jacob was very close to her face, a grin from ear to ear.

"I know," again she failed to finish the sentence.

"Come on Bella. You are losing years by the minute. Soon you'll be back in grade school." Jacob continued to goad.

"Ford Mustangs made their debut in April of 1964. But it was actually for the '65 model year."

"Continue," Jacob said, very amused.

"It made its debut on a racetrack in May of '64 as the pace car for the Indianapolis 500. One of the more popular forms of the Mustang was the Shelby Mustang, which was built from '65 to '70. Carroll Shelby is the man who designed it. Sometimes, it is confused with the Cobra."

"Okay, okay. I was wrong. Bella knows cars. Your cool meter just went off the charts. I guess you are back up to at least twenty-three." Jacob conceded defeat. "I will forever be paying homage to your greatness."

Bella took the roast out of the oven and let it sit. She placed the rolls in to heat up. All the vegetables were washed and Bella took over making the salad. "So tell me more about Quil. Don't keep me in suspense. How did his detention go? I still can't believe that's all he only got. I figured that was at least a suspension."

"Oh suspension would have been like a vacation for Quil. So he got detention with Mr. Culpepper. He is the worst. They only white teacher at the school and he is like ninety years old. Sometimes I think he thinks it's the old west and he has come to save the savages. He made Quil write 'I will not be a deviant' on the boards 100 times every day after school and then, on Friday, he made him write each and every girl in the gym class that period, an apology letter, stating what he was going to do, why it was wrong and why he will never do it again."

"Well he needed something bad for that." Bella shook her head in disbelief. "I mean I would have felt bad for those girls if Quil actually succeeded. He didn't succeed did he?"

Jacob shook his head no.

"Can you imagine having Quil seeing you naked? Having to be the star of his sexual fantasies?" she asked.

"Well I don't have to worry about that, but you might. I think he has quite a crush on you."

"Well politely tell him thanks, but no thanks. I am not ready to get involved with anyone right now." Bella continued working throughout the conversation. She had finished the salad and was pulling the rolls out of the oven.

Jacob raised his eye brows. "Right now? If I tell him that, he will be outside your window everyday until you decide maybe the time is right."

"Okay then just tell him I am interested in someone else. That will keep him off my back."

"Are you Bells?" Jacob asked. He walked over to the cabinet and took out the plates to set the table for dinner. "Are you interested in someone else?" The look on his face showed a hint of hopefulness.

"Of course not, Jacob. I just had my heart ripped out by a v-…ery big jerk. I just don't want to lead him on or hurt his feelings." Bella looked in the refrigerator for dressing and pulled out the Italian and Ranch, setting them by the salad on the table.

"Yeah. You wouldn't want to hurt his feelings." Jacob barely spoke. He looked down at the table while he placed the plates there. "What do you want to drink? We have milk, water and Kool-aid. I figure Dad and Charlie are having beer."

"I have not had Kool-aid in forever. Is it…"

"Grape, yes it's your favorite." Jacob finished her sentence. He poured a glass for each of them and sat down at the table. Jacob knew he shouldn't be upset. She was just dumped and it is too soon for her to think about me in that way. Will she ever see me the way I see her? He thought to himself.

"Dinner's ready." She called in to the others.

"Can you bring it in here?" Billy asked. "Jake can make my plate. He knows what I like."

"Sure." Bella replied. She made her own father's plate and took it to him. When she got back in the kitchen she made her own plate and sat down at the table with Jacob.

He never looked up from the plate and was shoveling the food in. "Great food Bella," was all he offered.

"Is anything wrong Jacob?" Bella asked, noticing the change of mood.

"No. Why do you ask?"

"You just got quiet and you are never quiet." She half chuckled, hoping to draw him out of whatever funk he had slid into.

"I am just enjoying your food. I haven't eaten like this since… well a long time."

"Is that all?"

"What else could it be?" he replied, trying his best not show how he really felt.

"Well you kind of got quiet when we were talking about Quil. You aren't jealous of him or anything, right? You have no reason to be jealous of anyone."

"I'm not jealous Bella. I don't know what I am. Can we talk about something else?"

"Sure, that's fine with me." Bella wanted to change the subject almost as much as Jacob now.

"So you called me pretty late last night. You didn't have much to say about your night out. Maybe you should have just come and hung out with me."

"I don't know. Maybe I should have, I had so much fun last weekend. The guys were great but when we were playing cards, listening to music, camping out and talking… I don't know. It just felt like when we were kids. I saw Charlie having so much fun and I was just happy."

"Bella Swan…happy. It's been awhile, but I am glad you are back."

"Why is everyone saying that to me?" Bella pushed her food away, more than a little miffed.

"I didn't mean to make you mad. I'm so sorry." Jacob began apologizing profusely.

"No, I am sorry that I am so moody. I just don't know why people keep saying that to me."

"Well, for me, we were so close when we were young, even though I only say you once a year. Then you quit coming and I missed you. You came back and I only saw you a couple of times. You were always with…" Jacob stopped.

"Edward. The Cullens, you can say their names. I promise I won't go to pieces." Bella felt a tightening in her stomach but strangely, the huge pain in her chest wasn't pounding.

"Well I was kind of told not to mention the "E" word around you. Sorry." Jacob stopped. He thought for a minute, and then continued. "You were here but I never quite got my friend back until Halloween and I am just glad to have you back. Can I tell you a little secret?" Jacob asked, looking up from beneath those long, thick lashes of his.

"Sure, go ahead." Bella said, stumbling over the words.

"When I was real small, I always thought of you as my best friend. And yes, I have Quil and Embry, but really I don't think they ever quite got me like you did. I never ate a mud pie for them."

"Or played doctor?" Bella giggled.

"Especially that. I am kind of embarrassed about that. I had hoped you wouldn't have remembered that." Jacob blushed profusely.

"Well Doctor Black, help me with these dishes and then we can go for a walk or something," Bella said as she stood up and took her plate to the sink.

Jacob followed. Soon they were finished and headed out the door. They took a big step forward that afternoon, just reconnecting on the most basic of levels. They talked about things you only talk about with your best friend; Bella's pain over staying away for so long, her guilt over being away from her father and now her mother. Jacob talked about his sisters leaving him to take care of their father and about missing his mother on a daily basis. They never talked again about the "E" word though.

It was getting late so Charlie and Bella started getting ready to head back to Forks. Jacob invited Bella out the next weekend. He was installing something in the Rabbit and the guys would be there. Quil was bringing pizza. Bella thought it would be great and jumped on the chance to come back.

As they walked around the cruiser, Jacob leaned into Bella's ear and whispered, "Just so you know… things have gotten bigger over the years. Don't think that just because you have seen it… it still looks like that." Jacob wiggled his eye brows at her and smiled his trademark cheesy grin.

Bella blushed and tried to find the right words to say. All she could respond with was, "Good to know."

The trip home was short and Bella went to bed as soon as they arrived. Thoughts of the afternoon filled her head. But the images that filled it the most were of a blushing Jacob while his words rang in her ear. She tried to put it out of her head. That night she dreamt again, but instead of monsters and Edward or of Jacob and slutty girls, she dreamed of two small children running and laughing on the beach of La Push.