Disclaimer: I don't own it.
A/N: Updates will come a little less often now, I'm back at uni. Thanks for reading! Review!
Half of my heart's got a grip on the situation,
Half of my heart takes time
Half of my heart's got a right mind to tell you
That I can't stop loving you.
- Half of My Heart, John Mayer
"Good morning, sunshine!"
"It's good?" Jacob asked.
I'd been attending La Push High for a week and a bit now, and this morning I'd met Jacob at school, preferring to bike there on Emily's old, rusty bicycle instead of having Jake pick me up.
I looked up at the sky. It was cloudy, but the sun was peaking through and there was a forecast for clear blue skies in the afternoon. "Looks good to me." Jacob took my book bag from me while I locked my bike to the rack. "Hey, want to come to the beach this afternoon? It'll be too cold to swim soon."
It was well into September, and the days had been growing steadily cooler each day.
Jacob tapped his finger on my nose and slung my bag over my shoulder for me.
"You're forgetting, young one, that with our super-speshul genes, it's never too cold to swim."
I swatted him away and scoffed, "Young one! I'm a month older than you, baby cakes." I reached up and pinched him on the cheeks and he reacted by hauling me over his back in a fireman's grip.
"Oh yeah?" he asked, "What was that you just called me?"
With my newfound strength I twisted my body upwards, sure that Jacob could hold me even if I decided to do a square dance on his back. I turned up and reached over his shoulders to his face, giving his cheeks another hard squeeze.
He growled and was about to spin me around when Embry raced up the school steps, calling, "Get a room!"
Gently, Jacob put me back onto the ground. His hands around my waist burned my skin and I stepped back with a hesitant grin. "Come on, the bell's about to ring."
He nodded silently and we trudged off to maths class together.
"Do you think we'll get our exams back today?" Jacob asked.
I grimaced. "I hope not. I don't want it back, I know I failed."
"I'm sure you did fine," he responded.
I shrugged. Despite the long hours of study I'd put in, I knew I had failed the exam. Not only was I terrible at maths, but La Push High and the school I'd previously attended hadn't had matching curriculum programs.
"It was a bit unfair, making you take a test on a subject you'd never done before," Jacob said.
"Yeah," I agreed. "But I probably would've failed anyway."
Jacob frowned at me. I knew I was being overly fatalistic, but I'd suffered with bad maths results for so long that I knew pessimism was the only way to guard myself against disappointment.
I wasn't disappointed. One double period of maths later, I was walking out of the classroom with my paper in my hands and a deep frown on my face. Not only had I failed, I'd failed miserably.
I felt a warm pressure on my shoulder.
"Hey, don't worry Ada, it's just one test," Jacob told me, squeezing my shoulder softly. He'd passed with flying colours, acing the test with 89% despite not touching the text book to study.
"Yeah," I said quietly, despondent. "Well, I've got government. Have fun in physics, don't blow anything up."
"That's chemistry," he joked mildly. "See you at lunch."
I nodded and walked slowly to government. Mark, my assigned seating neighbour, was already in the classroom and smiled brightly. He was a nice guy, a little awkward, but friendly and smart.
"Hey, Ada, what's up?"
"Not much, how are you going?"
I dropped into my seat and pulled my notebook out of my bag.
"I'm alright. Looking forward to the weekend."
"Yeah, me too."
"Got any plans?"
I was scribbling the date down in the corner of my page and looked up at him.
"Not really. Finishing my English assignment."
Mark grimaced. "Poetry. Not my thing."
I smiled. Our essay was on John Keats, one of my favourite poets.
"Hey, if you want to have a study break at some point, let me know. Maybe we could hang out or something."
He said it very casually, but I could hear an underlying tension in his voice. I turned a little red.
"Oh, er, you mean like a date?"
He nodded, his cheeks matching my blush.
"Oh, um, that's really nice, Mark, but – "
"You're seeing Black," he said, a peculiar tone to his words.
"No, I'm not actually. Jacob and I are good friends. I'm not seeing anyone."
"Then why?" he insisted.
"I don't want to," I said and instantly realised how awful it sounded. "Not because of you. I just don't want to date anyone at the moment. I'm sorry."
"Oh. Well, will you let me know when you want to date?"
I didn't answer him. Blessedly, Mrs. Lake had just walked into the classroom. Mark and I didn't speak for the rest of the lesson.
We'd swung by Sam's house so I could get changed, and now, wearing my bikini top and board shorts, I was stepping into the shallows of the Pacific Ocean. The water lapped at my ankles. I was moving hesitantly, not because it was cold but because I'd always preferred to take the process of immersing myself in water slowly. I like to enjoy the experience, drag it out, concentrate on the feeling of water against my bare skin.
"Come on, Ada!"
I waved my hands at him.
Jacob, of course, had run headlong into the water and was now beckoning me in.
"I'm coming," I shouted back.
"Hurry up, slow poke!"
I stuck my tongue out at him. The water was mid-waist now and, deciding I'd made him wait long enough, I took a deep breath and dove into the ocean. After a few strong strokes I broke the surface of the water, right beside Jacob. It was up to my neck here but I was easily treading water.
"Finally," he said. He grinned and my heart wrenched. Jacob Black's smile was, in my opinion, the warmest, most beautiful smile in the world.
I tried to smile back but all I could manage was a weak curve of my lips. Instantly Jacob frowned and I felt deeply the loss of his warming smile.
"You're still upset about the exam?"
I nodded, facing away from him and looking out towards the endless ocean. "I'm never going to get into university with marks like that in maths."
"You want to go to university?" Jake asked.
I frowned, turning to him. "Of course. You don't?"
He shrugged. "I used to. But, I guess, after all this happened I sort of stopped thinking about it." He gestured with his large brown hands and I understood 'this' to mean our werewolf heritage coming to life.
"Why should that stop you? There seems to be no threat here and it's not as if Sam can't spare you.
His frown deepened. "Maybe you're right."
"Maybe? Of course I'm right! Jacob, you're so smart." I put my hand on his upper arm. "Don't you want more than our parents had? Don't you want to do more with your life than hang around here and fix cars?"
"There's nothing wrong with that," he retorted, and for the first time since I'd met him I caught the merest trace of anger in his words. I didn't remove my hand.
"I didn't mean to say there is, Jake, but you have so much potential and nothing should stop you from fulfilling it. I'm not going to keep anything from stopping me."
He looked down at me and covered my hand with his.
"You're definitely going to college?"
I nodded. He wrapped his hand around mine. He didn't say anything but I knew what he was thinking; neither one of us would want to be apart for the length of time I would be at university.
"Well, it's a moot point anyway, I'll never be going to college if I don't get my grades up," I said, trying to joke and lighten the mood which had suddenly turned serious.
"Maybe I can help you there," Jacob said, his face brightening. "I'll tutor you!"
"Really?" I asked. "You'd do that?"
His face softened. "Of course. On one condition, though. You help me with my English essay."
"Alright," I said, suddenly feeling a lot better. "It's a deal. I'll help you in English and you'll tutor me in maths."
"We'll be an unstoppable team!"
I laughed and impulsively threw my arms around him in an embrace. He laughed too and rested his hands on my bare hips. They were warm and large, encompassing almost my entire waist, and I shivered to feel them on me. We drew back a little, staring intently into each other's faces. For a moment I was sure he would kiss me.
"Um." Jacob cleared his throat and took his hands from my body. "We could start this afternoon, if you want. Come over for dinner. My dad's been hassling me to get you over anyway."
"Okay. That sounds good." I took a step away from Jacob and sunk lower into the ocean. "Race you back to the beach?"
He grinned and launched his body into the water. Laughing and shouting, "Cheater!" I followed him back to shore.
"Okay, so which poem did you decide to write about?"
We were at Jacob's house. We'd come straight from the beach so I had simply borrowed one of Jake's t-shirts to wear over my swimmers. My hair was still wet and it was making the shirt damp across my back and chest. Sitting in the living room, my legs were curled up underneath me and my English notebook was in my lap. Jacob had his out too, and I despaired to see how few notes he had taken.
"Um, the one about the star. I picked it because it was the shortest."
I rolled my eyes.
"Of course you did. So what's it about?"
He rubbed the back of his neck with his fingers.
"Um, a star? And a chick?"
I smiled. "Well, pretty much. Keats is using the metaphor of a star to describe his love for his fiancé, Fanny Brawne."
Jacob's smooth brow crinkled. "What, he's saying that his love is like a ball of gasses?" he said innocently. "That's not very romantic."
"It's very romantic," I countered. "Keats is saying that his love for the woman is as steadfast and as constant as a star in the sky. He's saying that he wants to love her always – be 'Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast' forever."
Jacob's eyebrows rose. "That's pretty hot."
"Lots of poetry is pretty hot," I responded.
His eyebrows rose higher and a cheeky smirk curved his lips.
"Yeah? Like what?"
"We're not talking about other poems, we're talking about 'Bright Star.'"
"Come on," Jacob wheedled. "Tell me what other poems you think are sexy."
"If I promise to tell you later, will you concentrate on Keats?"
"Deal!" he said, grinning triumphantly.
"Alright, moving right along... our essay question asks us how Keats conveys meaning in his poetry, which is pretty much asking what techniques does he use that show us the meaning of his poem?"
"So I could talk about the star metaphor?"
"Definitely. Keats compares the qualities of the star to the qualities of his love. What other techniques are there?"
"Repetition? He says 'still' and 'ever' a few times."
"Which has what effect?"
"Um..." Jacob stared down at the poem in his hands for a few minutes. "I guess it emphasises that he wants to be 'still' forever? Be where he is with his girlfriend forever?"
I smiled widely. "Exactly. And yet in the last line he seems to accept that forever or timelessness isn't possible for us when he says 'And so live ever-or else swoon to death' as if to say he wants to live forever in ecstasy or die in her arms, and either would be okay."
"We'll live forever, you know," Jacob said suddenly. "It's possible for us."
"What do you mean?"
"As long as we keep shifting, we don't age. Not really. We could live for hundreds of years."
"We could?" I felt almost breathless. "Why didn't anyone say anything about that earlier?"
"Because they won't."
"Why not?" I asked, but the expression on his face told me the answer. "Oh. Because we imprinted. Sam, Jared, the others... their imprints will age normally."
Jacob nodded. "So they'll have to stop phasing. But you and I..."
"We're both wolves. Wow." It was a lot to take in.
At that moment, the front door opened wide and Billy Black wheeled into the house.
I stood, pulling at the hem of Jacob's t-shirt and suddenly wishing I'd brought clothes to change into. My board shorts were hardly indecent but they weren't very long at all.
"Well, hello Ada. It's lovely to see you again," the older man said. We'd met very briefly at the bonfire. His eyes crinkled in a smile. Jacob's smile, I realised.
"You too, Mr. Black."
"Billy, please," he told me. "Are you staying for dinner?"
"Yeah, she is," Jake answered. "Ada's helping me with my essay. It's on poetry," he added, poking his tongue out.
"Ah, poetry," Billy said, coming further into the living room and throwing me a wink. "The food of love. 'Let me not to the marriage of true minds/ Admit impediments…'"
I smirked. "'Love is not love/ Which alters when it alteration finds.'"
"'Or bends with the remover to remove,'" Billy finished with a gentle smile. "That was your mother's favourite poem, Jacob. We had it at our wedding."
Jacob smiled at his father and a content moment passed between the three of us.
"Well, I'll start getting dinner ready."
"Let me help you," I offered.
"No, no, you sit down," Billy said.
"Yeah, and keep helping me."
I laughed at Jacob and dropped back down next to him on the couch as the sounds of Billy pottering around in the kitchen filtered into the room.
"He likes you," Jacob informed me.
"I like him too. He looks like you. Or you look like him, rather."
Jacob smiled is heart-breaking smile and pulled me to him, throwing his arm over my shoulders. I rested my head against his chest, marvelling at his warmth and the steady beat of his heart under my ear.
"Come on then, tell me some more about this poem."
A few hours later, after a well-cooked meal and a gruelling session of maths homework, Jacob walked me home. He cradled my hand in his the whole way and we walked in silence, each enjoying the cool night air and the clear sky above.
When we arrived at Emily and Sam's, we paused at the door.
"'Night, Jake. Thanks again for your help."
"Thanks for yours."
I turned to go into the house. As I moved passed Jacob, he grabbed my arm, his fingers running down my skin to my hand.
"Hey. You never did tell me which poems you think are hot."
"Pablo Neruda, 'Every day you play," I told him, after a few beats. He was standing close to me and our eyes were locked together. "'A long time I have loved the sunned mother-of-pearl of your body,'" I recited. "'I go so far as to think that you own the universe. I will bring you happy flowers from the mountains, bluebells, dark hazels, and rustic baskets of kisses. I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.'"
Jacob gulped. I smiled.
I studied the confusing little boxes carefully, my brow furrowed and my fingers tracing the page, mumbling under my breath. I was baffled.
Emily came noisily into the kitchen.
"Something up, Ada?"
I turned from the calendar.
"Maybe. I don't know." I looked back at the calendar. "I haven't had my period in about 6 weeks. That's very unlike me." I frowned. "Maybe it's the stress."
"It's not the stress."
I turned around. Emily was looking very guilty.
"I'll call Leah, she'll be the best person to explain this to you."
It didn't take long for Leah to arrive.
"Come on," Emily said, "We'll bring our tea out to the back porch."
"Tea's not going to fix this, Em," Leah said, a hint of scorn in her voice.
"Fix what?" I asked. I was beginning to panic, was something terribly wrong with me? Was I somehow pregnant? Had imprinting with Jacob caused some kind of immaculate conception?
Leah sighed and sipped her tea. "Has Jacob told you that you can't age?"
"Yeah, he said that as long as I keep phasing, I'll stay the same."
"That's literally the same," Leah said, "We're virtually frozen in time. For you and I, that means frozen in our cycle as well."
"You mean we don't get our period?"
"Well, that's not too bad. Get's rid of the hassle, really."
"Ada, we don't produce any eggs. You and I can't have children."
My tea dropped out of my hand and onto the patio. The glass didn't break, but the hot liquid sloshed everywhere. I didn't notice.
"We can't have children," Leah repeated.
"Ever? But what about when we stop phasing and start aging?"
Leah shrugged. "We don't know. Maybe then, maybe not. But until we stop phasing, you and I aren't really even women."
Emily scoffed. "Leah, there's a lot more to being a woman than having babies."
"What would you know, Emily?" Leah responded sharply.
Emily flinched back, hurt. "Are you okay, Ada?"
"Yeah. I think I'm going to go for a walk."
I wasn't okay. By no means was I thinking of having children at any point in the near future, but the thought of never being able to have children shook me. I wanted to be a mother. One day, I wanted to give a child the kind of love that my mother had given me. I wanted children. With a shock, I realised that I wanted to give Jacob children. And now I might never be able to. Would he hold that against me? Would he wish that he had imprinted on somebody who could give him a family? I didn't know.
"Are you going to see Ada, son?"
I nodded at Dad and pulled a grey t-shirt over my head.
"I'll probably stay there for dinner."
He smiled knowingly and nodded. "See you later then, kiddo."
I waved and left the house, jogging the short walk over to Sam and Emily's cottage. I was buzzing with energy, knowing that I would be seeing Ada in only minutes. She gave me butterflies, and it felt like the very beginning of a relationship, even though we were both in so deep; the flirting, the casual touches, the tingling, the hope I felt whenever she smiled at me or nestled closer to my body when I embraced her.
"Hey, Sam, Em, how's it going?"
I'd let myself into their house, as always. The couple were in the living room, watching something on TV.
"Good, thanks, how are you Jake?"
I nodded. "Awesome. Where's Ada?"
The way that Sam looked at Emily made me nervous.
"Is something wrong?"
Emily shook her head.
"This afternoon Leah and I told Ada that she might not be able to have children. She went for a walk; she's been gone for a couple of hours. I think she was a bit upset."
"I'll find her."
"Jacob, she might want some space – " Emily was saying, but I was already out of the house. It was growing dark outside. I was sure that Ada wouldn't get lost, but all the same I wouldn't feel right until I'd seen her. Removing the shirt and pants I'd only just put on, I crouched to the ground and shifted. My senses exploded around me. It didn't take long for me to discern the spring flower smell of Ada from the tangy smell of the sea and the richness of the pine forest. I set off at a trot.
Her scent stopped about three kilometres into the forest from Emily and Sam's place. I shifted back and pulled my jeans on. I couldn't see her, but she could see me.
"Up here," came a soft voice.
I looked up. Ada was sitting on the lowest branch of a tall, thick tree.
"How did you get up there?"
She raised an eyebrow. "I climbed."
I made quick work of the tree and dropped down next to her on the branch. We sat in silence until, finally, Ada spoke.
"When you told me that we could live forever, why didn't you tell me that we won't be able to have children?"
A thrill went through me at her words; her desire to be with me forever.
"Because we don't know that. And because it's not important to me."
She looked at me, her hazel green eyes sad and disbelieving.
I shook my head.
"But you are."
"How do you know, Jake? How do you know that in ten years, fifty years, a hundred years, you won't want children?"
"I just do. I just know that you'll always be enough for me. There's nothing else I want. I… I hope that I'm enough for you to."
With her small hands she lifted one of my arms and placed it around her, tucking herself underneath.
She didn't say anything. She didn't need to.
A/N: please remember to REVIEW. Thanks!