Disclaimer: Don't own.
Author's Note: Old. Unbeta-ed.
Weeks pass without a word from Jacob. No call. No letter. No singing telegram. Bella gets nothing from him.
The pack are sparse on details. Forests, hills, stretches of sky and highway. Seth sighs wearily into the receiver when she calls, explains that they 'just. don't. know.' And can't she understand, accept that tiny fact and be done with it?
She passes Jacob's face on telephone poles and tries to convince herself it doesn't matter. The pack is right, she should consider Jacob Black long gone and move on with her life already. She should heed Alice's advice and stop worrying about him. She should also brush her teeth after every meal, make sure she gets a full night of sleep, and always say 'yes, please' and 'no, thank you.'
But she doesn't. And she can't stop the longing and concern and affection and anger that assaults her when thoughts of Jacob climb up from the deep well in her mind - where she thought she'd thrown all memories of him down. She did, she truly did, watched as afternoons spent in the garage and late night spaghetti dinners tumbled down and down and sunk beneath murky water.
Edward holds her hand, days and months and years after Jacob has gone and time stops making sense. He hold her hand in his like it's something delicate, a tiny butterfly with rice paper wings and wisp like antennae. His forefinger strokes her palm, coaxing her toward an emotion that she's been falling away from. He looks at her, touches her with infinitely sad eyes and says 'We can wait. If you want we can postpone the wedding. Call the whole thing off if you wish.'
'Don't be silly,' she wants to say. But what comes up instead is a small animal noise, high pitched and strangled, followed by her cry of 'I'm sorry. Edward, I'm so sorry.'
And she knows if he were human he would cry. But he is old and has taught himself to be weary when it comes to emotion. So, Edward collects himself before the disappointment can completely wash through him. He tells himself later, he will face this - the empty and the nothing growing inside him - later. And he holds her hand the entire drive back to Charlie's.
Bella cries and cries, and there are no other words for it. She does not sob, she does not wail, she doesn't keen painfully or weep dramatically. She cries and whispers how sorry she is. 'And you're so good. Edward, you may be the best person I've ever met, and I'm selfish and hurtful and I'm sorry. God, I don't think I'll ever forgive myself for treating you this way, and I wish I could...Oh, I wish I could have loved you more.'
And Edward smiles, because he is kind and gracious, and presses his cool hand against her cheek, murmurs 'I forgive you.' And it is the last time Bella Swan ever sees Edward Cullen.
After that time passes in the funny way it has since Jacob's departure. Thursdays proceed Mondays, and hours skip forward then jump back. Bella loses track, only knows of time's passage by the red ticks on the calendar Charlie hangs beside the fridge in the kitchen. Fourty-three.
The fourty-fourth day, pen hovering over a Friday that came promptly after a Sunday, the doorbell rings. Bella's heart beats at the base of her throat, and she knows. She knows it's Jacob the same way she knows the sky is blue and ocean deep. She just does. She grips the counter, pen clattering to the floor, and breathes.
'What took you so long?' She asks when she finally manages to open the door. It took her five tries, the knob kept slipping from her palm.
Jacob shrugs, looks down at his feet like a child being scolded. 'Can I come in?'
Bella steps back from the door, and Jacob squeezes into the entryway. Bella thinks that years from now she will always remember this. This exact moment, right here. She will tell anyone interested enough that she knew, long before Jacob did, that they were going to kiss. She'll tell them how her soul had quivered inside her in anticipation, how it felt like an eternity for Jacob to catch up.
He does so slowly, eyes darkening and mouth going soft. His breath hitches, just the slightest. In fact, it'd have been barely noticeable if Bella weren't so in tune with him. She looks up at him, the faintest of smiles tugging at the corners of her mouth as Jacob's fingers lightly brush the line of her jaw. Her throat constricts, a half formed plea stuck to her teeth like taffy.
Jacob's face, so serious, hovers close to hers. 'I'm going to kiss you,' he tells her solemnly. His hands come to rest gently on her shoulders. The heat of him weaves through her clothing, caresses her skin like an exhale.
'I know,' Bella wants to answer. But what comes out instead is a shaky 'Okay' as she takes a small step forward, presses her body close to Jacob's. Pale fingers slip up, Bella's hand pressing flush against his chest. His heart thrums against her palm like the frantic flapping of a small bird's wings. She is suddenly nervous, glances away from Jacob's weighty gaze to stare at her skin contrasting starkly with his.
'Bella,' he says softly, but still doesn't move in to kiss her.
She remembers time jumping in hopscotch lines, waking up cold and sad and alone. Bella remembers trying to cling onto her fading love for Edward while caging in the part of her soul wound tight to Jacob's. She remembers a kiss in the forest, part of her leaking out into Jacob, taking up residence in his body like another organ - an extra lung or kidney, an added heartbeat. Bella thinks of all this and more. She thinks of loving Jacob, really loving him, and it is terrifying.
Jacob is watching her, nervous and weary and full up to his impossibly high eyebrows with a fiery devotion. 'What?' he says. The hands on her shoulders curl, fingers clinging desperately to her.
Bella moves. Or Jacob does. Maybe they both do, heads simultaneously tilting up and down. And they're kissing, every bit of them fusing together until they're one solid, breathing being. Something not quite human, not quite wolf. Or boy. Or girl. They kiss, and it isn't an explosion of colors on the flesh of their eyelids, it is a shared breath and a tired finally. Because this is it. Not forever, but a strong and steady 'for the rest of my life.'
It is how Charlie finds them, foreheads touching as they murmur quietly back and forth. Hushed words, and trembling fingers brushing tearstained cheeks, and the air is hard to swallow down. They don't notice him, too wrapped up in one another. So, Charlie quietly takes hold of the brass knob, shuts the door, and drives down to La Push.
And in the house, limbs hopelessly tangled, Bella wonders where she starts and Jacob ends, if they were ever two seperate people. She looks up at him, and says 'This is it' voice amazed and breathy, not at all her own. Jacob nods, utters 'Yes, it is.' And that is that.