A/N: This story is a basic AU re-write of the events in New Moon and Eclipse after Bella saved Edward in Italy. Therefore, there are quite a few situations lifted directly from the books. Bella is somewhat OOC because she's gotten professional help during Edward's absence, but I've tried to keep it in line with the original material as much as possible in most cases.

The usual disclaimer: I don't own anything except that Barney tape (much to my sorrow); they're all Stephenie Meyer's characters & world.

Thanks to jkane180 for beta'ing this chapter!

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Oh Mister Sun, Sun, Mister Golden Sun

I held my breath for as long as I could, but eventually, my lungs always won.

Please shine down on me

The gasped influx of air hit like a punch to the gut. Damn panic attacks.

Oh Mister Sun, Sun, Mister Golden Sun

Gradually, I exhaled, focusing on the rainbows drifting across the room, before I realized that anything reminiscent of Edward was probably not what I needed at the moment. The streetlight outside had an unfortunate tendency to mimic the sun's effect on a vampire's skin when it shined through the prism in the window. Slowly—moving too fast meant having to breathe more—I turned my head on my pillow until the dream catcher suspended from the headboard came into my line of sight.

Hiding behind a tree

When I was little, Renee's mom—my Gran—gave me a Barney tape for Christmas one year. Renee didn't really approve of television, even "educational" television, but she thought Barney was less of an offense than me constantly trying the bathroom doorknob while she showered, so I watched the purple dinosaur pretty regularly for a while. At least, until I outgrew the need to make sure Renee was still there, even when I couldn't see her.

These little children are asking you

Now, whenever I was angry or stressed, damned if those same little nursery songs didn't pop into my head without any reason.

Gasp.

Please come out so we can play with you

Over the internal children's chorus, I heard the words of the therapist Charlie'd insisted I see after my near-comatose withdrawal from the world—after Edward's departure. "Panic attacks are a buildup of stress that you haven't dealt with, Bella. The word 'panic' is really kind of inappropriate because you're not scared or freaking out—at least, not until the symptoms overwhelm you."

Exhale.

Oh Mister Sun, Sun, Mister Golden Sun

"You just need to be sure to focus on the feelings of fear, sadness, or whatever you're trying to avoid during the attack. Tell yourself, 'this is a panic attack, and even though I'm scared, I'll be okay in a few minutes.'"

Okay. Focus on the fear of being by myself forever. Focus on the sadness of having told the two most beautiful boys I'd ever seen that we were a bad idea. This is a panic attack. Even though I'm scared, I'll be okay in a few minutes. Or months. After I graduate. Focus on… whatever.

Please shine down on me

The dream catcher was only stressing me out more. I lowered my eyes to my hands, folded over my own flat belly. I'd spent so much time navel-gazing in the past few months, it seemed appropriate. This time, though, I didn't feel the gaping wounds of Edward's betrayal.

Jacob, Jacob, Jacob… He would never forgive me. I'd never see him again.

Oh Mister Sun, Sun, Mister Golden Sun

Gasp.

Hiding behind a tree

If only.

I'd barely had time to form the thought when I heard a rhythmic rattle on my window pane. I tensed, then rolled my eyes. If it had been Edward, he would already have been in the room with me. Probably just that stupid tree branch that I was going to cut off myself, first thing tomorrow, after I finished a good all-night sulk. After I finished forgetting the lack of comprehension, and utter devastation, I'd left on Edward's face after telling him to go, get out, just leave me alone, before he could do it on his own again. Oh God, oh God.

Exhale.

These little children are asking you

This is a panic attack.

"Did you ask him to stay, Bella? Or did you beg?"

I blinked at the therapist. Teresita's makeup-free eyes were uncomfortably perceptive; her pen sat idle on the file folder before her. "I… what's the difference?"

"One is an adult request, a respectful invitation to further discussion. The other is letting someone know you don't think you can live without him."

"Because I can't." I said it without thinking.

"You are, though."

Gasp.

C'mon, Bella, focus. Count your fingers or something.

To please come out so we can play with you

"Bella."

"Bella, you're a very strong young woman. You had your first love, the love of your life, tell you he didn't feel the same way, leave you with no warning, and you've managed to keep on going. That's a blow that would send a lot of adults reeling. You're not here because your father thinks you're weak. You're here because he thinks you need some perspective from someone who's not close to your situation."

Exhale…

And gasp again, suddenly able to breathe, suddenly able to think, because that voice wasn't mine—or my therapist's—it was Jacob's.

"Bella, will you please open the window? If you want to. I know you're mad."

I whirled out of the bed, onto my feet, and tripped over my bedding where it lay crumpled on the floor. As I went down to my knees, I saw Jacob wince from his perch—toes barely clinging to the sill, one hand gripping the frame, the other arm stretched overhead, fist clenched around the tree branch I was never going to mess with, ever.

I managed to kick my feet free—losing my Crocs with the coverlet—and stumbled over, shoving the lock out of the way and the window up so quickly I was surprised I didn't fall out, or knock Jacob down two stories. In one smooth motion he swung himself through the opening, past me, like a gymnast dismounting the rings.

As I shut the window again—I did not want any other surprise visitors—well, I did, but I wasn't admitting anything—I saw him turn to face me. I looked up—and up—God, he was so tall now. His shoulders deliberately straightened, his back straight, full lips pressed tight together, brows furrowed. My spiraling delight of a moment ago vanished without a trace, leaving fresh fear in its wake.

Nothing so bad as before, though. No one could hurt me as badly as Edward. Even Jacob—although, with over a century under his belt, maybe Edward just had more practice.

"Bella, I…" He stopped. "I guess you're okay." His nose wrinkled. "And you stink like bleach, so I guess the leeches had a happy family reunion. How's Mister Sparklehole, anyway? Did he take off running when he heard me? He does that a lot, ever notice?"

I shoved my hands into the back pocket of my jeans, barely able to suppress my exhalation of relief. Jacob was angry at me because he thought I'd gone crawling back to Edward after saving his life. His threatening demeanor wasn't due to me ditching him for Italy with a half-assed apology in response to his tears and pleas to the contrary.

"I don't know. Fine, I guess."

For anyone else, the words would've been too low to hear—well, any human else—but Jake wasn't quite human, either. Because I knew the feeling so well, I could hear the unwilling hope he suppressed as he asked, "What the hell does that mean? Is he dead, or is he—oh, wait."

I hated when he did this sarcastic thing. It was so different from the friendly, uncomplicated boy I'd met on the beach all those months ago—but look at him. He was different all over. Why shouldn't that have changed too? Maybe he needed to get a little more complicated on his way to adulthood. God knows I had. "He's not dead. I mean, he's still…whatever, the bad guys didn't end him."

"Goody." Jacob huffed out a sigh and plopped down on my bed. "So. When's the wedding?"

Gasp.

Oh, yay, a panic attack that had nothing to do with Edward's absence, just about the possibility of a lifetime commitment to him. Or maybe it was only leftovers from a couple minutes ago. I grabbed my chest instinctively, hunching forward against the pain. Quick as a thought, Jacob was up on his feet again, pulling me against his bare chest—dear God, those pecs, even the distress couldn't keep me from noticing what my cheek laid againstand rubbing my back. I'd told him about the…episodes, or whatever, months ago, after the therapist had given me a name for the gaping wound in my chest that wouldn't fill, that wouldn't let me breathe deeply. And just like always, he'd asked how he could help.

"It's okay; it's okay. Don't be scared, Bells," he murmured. His breath stirred the hair near my ear. Warm. My sun. I pressed my nose to his skin and inhaled that woodsy scent like my life depended on it, and maybe it did.

Okay, now. Quick, like a band-aid. Too chicken to look into his eyes, I muttered against his chest instead. "I broke up with him."

Oh, ow ow ow, that hurt so badly to admit.

The complete hopelessness in Edward's eyes as I'd directed him back out the window through which he'd come—but then, that was after he'd asked me how I could have believed him when he said he didn't love me, as if normal people didn't in fact use words to communicate and believe the words from people who claimed to love them—or not—and that made me mad again. Mad enough to stand up straight and look for Jacob's reaction on his face.

He'd gone still. Usually, Jacob's mind was an open book to me because he never bothered to try to hide anything at all since the truth about the werewolf stuff had come out. Right now, though, all I could read was a complete lack of expression. Only his body, strung tense as a piano wire, gave me a clue to his mental state.

"What did you say?" he asked. It came out rough, like he'd been smoking a pack a day since his eighth birthday.

"Don't make me say it again," I whispered. Okay, I begged. The truth of it was, I just couldn't stand to hear it from my own mouth; it made it too real.

"The hell? But—Bella—what happened? One moment you're all, 'sorry, gotta go; I choose death,' and within 48 hours, you've dumped him? I mean, go you, but I've got fucking whiplash here."

"Jake!" I freed my arms enough to smack his chest.

He barely noticed, of course. It probably felt like a love tap to Mr. Muscles. "Bella!" he mimicked my tone exactly; the sarcasm couldn't hide his relief though.

"I just—okay, the reason I did it is personal. I don't want to tell you what he—what happened."

Those dark eyes narrowed. "Did he hurt you? Goddamn it, Bella—"

"Okay, sailor mouth, settle down there. All you guys are really bad for each other's language. No, he didn't hurt me. I mean, not physically. And even if he did, you don't get to hurt him back. I handle this my way, with my rules, because it's my relationship, not yours. Got it?"

He stared at me, eyes still slits, but then finally, he jerked his head in a half-nod. "Got it."

Phew. I'd practiced that speech with Teresita—with various scenarios, although I had to admit I hadn't seen this one coming—about ten times before it'd sounded convincing. Jacob wasn't always great about respecting the boundaries I drew, but this time I wasn't going to let him get away with anything. "I don't want to talk about him again with you. At least, not now. Maybe later, but I want to decide when. So unless he's talking to you—"

"If he talks to me, I'll kill him," he interjected.

I ignored that little invitation to bunny-trail. "Then you have no reason to bring him up. Is that cool?"

"Is this a rule or something? Like, 'play nice, Jakey-boy, or no biscuit?'"

I choked out a giggle. "Kind of. Except I think I know what your idea of a biscuit is, and you won't be snacking ever."

He started back a little. A grin cracked his reserve. "Bella Swan, are you talking about having sex with me?"

I planted my hands on his chest; he let me shove him back a little more. "Shut up, Jake! I'm talking about never having sex with you, because you are a boy and now I am totally anti-boy." And anti-centenarians-in-boy-bodies. I laughed while I said it, though, and that was a mistake. It was as if that small chuckle released the pressure valve on the anxiety I'd been holding in all this time, draining it from my muscles and leaving nothing but exhaustion in its wake. Suddenly, I could barely hold my eyes open. "Go 'way, furball. I've gotta get some sleep."

"Most people let their dogs sleep with them," he said, all helpfulness.

The bed abruptly turned into something too big to ignore. I was in my room, with a boy—a real boy, not an ancient man posing as one—who knew I was technically available, and he would never have the unnatural self-control to which I'd grown accustomed. I stepped to the window and opened it. The early spring breeze brushed my face, erasing the warmth he'd radiated into my pores. "Get out, Jake. You're not my bitch."

"Sure feels like it sometimes," he murmured, but he moved to the sill, then, lightning fast, ducked and gathered me into his arms. "Jesus, Bells. I'm so damn glad you're okay. When I saw you lying down like that… I thought—I thought you'd be like you used to be, when he first—"

I hugged him back as hard as I could. "I could never be back where I was. I'd have to forget everything that happened in the past few months, and I'll never forget that."

He pulled back and cradled my face in his hands—hands that enclosed me, covering from the top of my head all the way down past my jaw. I closed my eyes like a sunbather, turning my face to the heat. Please don't do anything stupid, Jake. Let me enjoy having my friend back for a moment.

For once, telepathy must have worked, because all he did was plant a kiss on the top of my head and leap out the window. He turned to wave goodbye at the edge of the woods, and then backed into the shadows. I could see his hands at his fly, getting ready to strip before he phased, until the darkness pulled a curtain over the show. I leaned out, pretending to myself I wanted more fresh air.

That was too flimsy an excuse to even fool me. Sighing, I retreated back into my room and pushed the window closed. Just as I reached up to pull the cord on the blinds, though, a flash of white caught my eye. I froze, staring.

Edward stood under the streetlight, halo-lit, gazing up at me and making no attempt at concealment. He must have practically flown over the instant he'd sensed Jacob leaving; otherwise my werewolf friend would surely have smelled him.

The anguish I'd inflicted on Edward was written upon his face so clearly that I caught my breath in mingled grief, regret, and—so miniscule that I could almost pretend it wasn't there—the tiniest bit of vengeful satisfaction. That's right, you bastard. Hurt like I have.

We stared at each other for what felt like hours. He maintained his pose like the statue he resembled so closely, unblinking, but I could hear the blinds rattle with the trembling of my hand and knew the rest of me probably was too. I leaned against the pane to steady myself, my breath forming a circle on the glass. Every cell in my body cringed away from the sight before me, fearful of more pain; yet, my broken, stupid heart flailed toward him, as suicidal as its owner had been in his absence.

At last, the sculptured lips moved.

Bella, he said.

I jerked back, away from my addiction, and the motion loosed the blinds' cord-clasp. The beige slats descended, cutting off my view of the street. My chest tightened.

Gasp.