-Two years and two months later-
"I can't believe you did that to me, Jacob."
"You really hurt me."
"I didn't mean for it to happen, I swear."
"I'm not sure I can believe that."
"I'm so sorry."
"I just don't know if I can ever forgive you for this..."
"You seriously hurt me, Jacob. That's not easy to forget."
"I'm so sorry, Bella, I-"
"You're going to have to prove that you mean that."
"How? What can I do?"
"I don't know. Time, I guess."
"Yes. I just don't know if I can trust you yet. Maybe ever."
"Oh, for the love of God, come on you two!"
Charlie's voice seemed loud in the dull air coming from the open window, spite the fact there were plenty of noises coming form outside. There were honking from horns, and wheeling engines and beeping sounds from traffic lights. And there were people, people talking, buzzing, from somewhere down and out of sight. And then of course, there was Charlie appearing in the doorway and adding his own kind of noise. He had sweat trickling down his other so red forehead, and he was breathing heavily after trying to carry a box twice his size.
"I could use some help, thank you," he said, breathing like a betting horse and putting the heavy box down on the floor next to Bella.
I grinned down to Bella, and she grinned back at me.
"Sorry I smashed your finger," I whispered, ending the dramatic banter she had started. I picked up her hand and kissed her pinky. "Didn't mean to."
"I might forgive you sometime," she said lightly. "When I'm ready. Who knows."
We heard a huge sigh coming from the hallway, where Charlie had just disappeared to go and carry up more boxes. I grinned and leaned down to kiss Bella quickly and then hurried after him before he'd loose his temper completely.
We were moving. In. Together. Finally. Bells and me. To the big city. Seattle was big, unusual, exciting and positively scary, but not impossible. Thanks to a colleague of Charlie, who had a friend who had a friend, or something along those lines, we'd been able to find this place. It was a tiny little two room, enough to sleep and eat in and be alone in. It was perfect. Not because of the place really, but because of the person I would be staying here with.
It had been two and a half years now. Things were different, but also the same as always. I was just as crazy about her as I had always been. We'd been sticking to each other just like those annoying couples who never seem to get a scratch but just stays and stays and stays. Apart from two weeks, two terrible weeks in her first year at college, when we'd had a huge argument about something I couldn't even remember, split up and not spoken to each other for two weeks because we both were too stubborn to make the first move. But we'd sorted it out, and after that, we'd never been better.
We continued to carry up the last boxes from the car down by the road. On the last trip downstairs I joined dad back in the elevator – he had been waiting downstairs while we carried it all, insisting that he needed to look after the car 'in case the bloody thing got stolen'. When both dad, Charlie and myself had managed to cram our way inside the apartment along with Bella and the bunch of boxes, I wondered how we'd ever make it all fit.
"Don't worry," Bella said bravely, unwrapping plates from a box on the floor and putting them into a kitchen cabinet. "It will go just fine."
Dad and Charlie both popped themselves a beer after the hard labour, (dad insisted watching after the car was hard work for an old man) and went out to sit on the tiny balcony (that Bella had scrubbed down thoroughly the other day as it had been full of bird leavings.) While they relaxed outside – dad sitting in the doorway since it really wasn't room for two whole men outside on the balcony – I joined Bella on the floor unwrapping things from boxes.
"This is gonna take a month," I complained, dragging the nearest box towards me and peeking inside. It was full of casseroles.
"Don't be such a crybaby," Bella smirked. She stood up to move the now empty box out of the way, and went to carry over a new one. It was a heavy one, and she breathed heavily as she struggled to put it back down beside me. With a deep exhale she dropped it to the floor, and wiped the sweat from her forehead. I leaned back on my arms, grinning up at her.
"Just get used to moving your muscles," I said, nodding towards the heavy box. "I'm gonna be all weak from now on. You can't get your usual free muscle power."
Bella huffed at that and sat down beside me on the floor, wiping a stray of hair away from her face. "Pffft," she said, sneaking one arm around to pinch at my bicep. "Good thing I have enough muscle power for both of us then."
She knew very well I was joking, as it would seriously take a few hundred years before she'd become stronger than me. But, as it was, I would probably have to work a bit harder at the gym these days for keeping up everything as they were.
It had been three months now. Three months since the last time I'd phased. I was already running a lower temperature. I'd told her, a long time ago, I would stop phasing, and I was in the process of keeping that promise. It had been three months of determination, but three months nonetheless. Besides, running around on college probably didn't combine very well with phasing. In one way it was weird, to not do it anymore, but mostly it was an enormous relief. I hadn't missed it yet, anyway.
This would be my first year at college, while it was Bella's second. She'd gone to the community college at home first, one year before moving here and spending one year at dorm to evolve in English literature. The year apart had been long and not very fun, but we'd managed. Charlie and Billy had finally seemed to realize none of us could say home forever, and when it came down to it they actually seemed quite content that we were to move in together; Billy wouldn't have to remind me laying off the frozen pizza (as if he was any better), and Charlie wouldn't have to worry about Bella walking home alone in dark, unfriendly places. And since Rachel had moved in at the rez to stay with Paul, she was close to dad and helped him out if he needed that. So all in all, things were good.
Dad had warned me about this. About moving out and, most importantly, moving in with a girl.
"Now, Jacob," he'd said. "You'll find out soon enough that many things are going to get different." And then he'd told me I would have to clean up after myself all the time, as if I didn't already do that, and that there would be much less 'me' and much more 'we'. And then he'd said that we'd probably get sick of each other from time to time, but a night apart now and then would make everything cool again, and then that I would have to pay a lot more attention to the things around me in the apartment and let her stay in control of curtains and flowerpots, and then that there would be no more drinking juice straight from the can.
(Bella had caught me at that once. She'd muttered "charming" under her breath and rolled her eyes, and then started a long tirade about how the ten percent left at the bottom of the can is just spit. After that, I stared demonstratively pouring myself a glass whenever she put a foot in the kitchen, earning another eye roll each time.)
Other than that, it wasn't that much of a difference. There were some areas I simply didn't get, like a conversation Bella and I had had the previous day when we were loading the fridge:
"Hey Bella, you put this in the wrong bag. Ick. Isn't this supposed to be in the garbage?"
"It's Parmesan, Jake. It's supposed to be like that."
"But it's ancient."
"That's the point."
"What kind of poor students have Parmesan in their frozen-pizza-and-noodle kitchen?"
Actually, I quickly found it was best if I left Bella in charge of the whole kitchen assortment thing.
But I couldn't complain. We had gotten good help unpacking since we got this place. Dad and Charlie had been all over the place of course. They had been swarming around us like concerned mother bees, gesturing widely over boxes and sauce pans, fixing windowsills, nailing their fingers together and drinking a lot of coffee.
Leah had been over here a few times too. She wasn't bothering to help us unpack, she was content just standing by the counter, watching me struggle with putting all the kitchen stuff in their rightful-Bella-system place while she was emptying the rest of the coffee that dad and Charlie hadn't been able to get to. Leah had moved into town too, about six months ago, and considered herself quite superior to city-life. She'd decided taking up a few subjects before trying her determinedness at psychology, which she'd probably manage just fine. Her phasing skills were not yet in complete control, as she had a tendency of bursting out in mood-tornadoes from time to time (I wondered briefly what her neighbours were thinking - maybe they thought Leah owned a particularly hairy dog), but she was improving. She'd decided long ago that nothing was going to break her anymore, and now she was sticking to that promise with admirable fidelity.
I suspected Leah to be secretly thrilled that Bella and I were coming along. No matter how moody and strong she was, I think city life quickly became a little lonely for her after coming from a small place like the rez. And as it was, she and Bella was still getting along good. Since that weird conversation they'd shared about me - that still made Bella grin disturbingly wide when it came up (yes, it still came up) - seemed to have done some kind of magic between the two. What used to be strained, had magically turned seamless, as if they had both entered a silent agreement to like each other. That being said, they were still themselves. Bella was stubborn and Leah was moody, and they could sit in the same room for hours without really talking. Leah could be reading while Bella made cookies, for example, and they both seemed to think that was just fine.
I had confronted Leah once, ages ago, about spilling my brother-sister highly confidential secrets to Bells. Leah had only scoffed at me and said I should be happy she hadn't told Bella about all those times I'd wet my bed as a kid because I was terrified of monsters in the closet (which by the way was a big, fat lie).
Embry and Quil had been over too, of course, horrified and thrilled at the same time that I was moving away and with a girl. They had given me pretty much the same advise as my dad, only less adequately phrased.
"You two are like an old married couple."
"Only not really old. More middle-aged. "
"How's the bedroom working, Jake, huh?"
"Oh, shut up."
"Maybe he doesn't know yet. Heh."
They had also eaten up all the cookies that Bella had made. I swear, if everyone would keep popping in like this, we'd never get any food or drink in this apartment at all. Like, ever.
Later that night, when Charlie and Billy had left (hugging us goodbye and patting our backs five times each and acting exceptionally mother bear) and all boxes had been either emptied or shoved against the wall, Bella was sleeping steadily on my arm on the couch. She'd been sleeping like this for a while, snuggling up to my side while I had been awake, altering between watching her, watching the ceiling and listening to the sounds of the city.
Her hand was buried in my hair, as she had been stroking it through my hair when falling asleep. My hair was definitely longer now, and she was dragging her hands through it whenever she got the chance. I studied her face in the light from the window, the rest of the room already starting to darken as it was becoming late.
She was still Bells, my Bells. She looked the same as always; pale, brown haired, beautiful. A little older perhaps, a little wiser on experience. But then who weren't.
I hadn't seen Edward since that day, those years back, since we'd said goodbye to them in front of their mansion. I knew he had been speaking to Bella a few times - on the phone. It had been a while, before it happened that first time, and then they had talked a few times after that. Family Fang was up north somewhere now, I think, along with some other family-group-something. They were okay, he said. He was okay, too. Bella thought it was nice hearing from them, making sure he and the rest of the family were okay and not busy killing themselves. If she wanted to talk to them, that was fine. I didn't mind.
She looked happy, now, laying here on my arm. And that was the point to all this after all. That was all that mattered. Always had been. Bella, alive and happy.
She mumbled something in her sleep as she shifted her position beside me. I shifted my position slightly too, resting my head on the armrest trying not to wake her. Bella sighed, a slight smile twitching her lips. I moved one hand up to trace a pattern down her collar bone with my fingertips. Her bra strap fell down slightly from her shoulder by the movement, and I smiled to myself when I noticed. Black, lacy underwear. Oh yes, she had actually bought them to tease me (not in the sexy way, in the haha-gigglealot-I know all your deep, dark secrets-way), but that didn't mean they hadn't come in handy too.
I flattened my hand against her collar bone, feeling the slightly swell of her breasts beneath my hand. My touch raised goosebumps on her skin, but not out of cold. Her skin was soft, her pulse echoing each heartbeat. Slowly, she opened her eyes. She smiled, finding my gaze.
The room was almost completely dark now, to the human eye, as it was quickly becoming night. We could stay here on the couch all night if we wanted. Our place. Our couch. Just the knowledge was liberating. Bella sighed again, smiling, before she lifted her head up to kiss me. It was slow and soft, and it was a moment of perfect drowsiness. She dragged her hand through my hair, making me shiver slightly. Again, not out of cold.
"Love you," she mumbled.
I smiled, watching her sleepy, content expression. "So. Am I forgiven?"
She turned her head to the side and blinked, questioning. "Forgiven?"
"For mashing your pinky in the doorway earlier," I grinned.
"Oh." Her eyes narrowed slightly, and she smiled as she pretended to think it over. "It depends."
I raised one eyebrow at her. "Depends on what?"
Her eyes twinkled. "Depends on how you decide to make it up to me."
I smiled down at her, recognizing the all too familiar feeling of my brain decreasing in size. She could still do that, with only a few words. She smiled back at me, her eyes twinkling again, and I leaned forward to press my lips to hers. I could feel her smile against my lips as she kissed me back, her hands fumbling their way up my chest resting around the back of my neck. Her breaths became louder, and my brain was becoming pea-sized, and on top of it all it was our couch. Our place. It was almost too good to be true. I pulled back slightly, breaking the kiss.
"You know what this means, huh?" I asked her, when she rested her head back down on the pillow. I kept my arms around her waist, keeping her body close to mine.
She smiled up at me. "What does this mean?"
I looked at her, her eyes wide in the darkness. Man, I loved that girl. "It means we're disturb proof."
She raised one eyebrow, studying me, still with that smile on her face. "Disturb proof?
I traced my hand up her neck, before moving it back down. "Yeah. We have our own place now. Just you and me."
"Yeah," she agreed. "We do."
There was a moment of contentment as we both basked in the realization.
"And you know what that means, right?" I continued, studying my own hand on her pale skin, trying to keep my own grin in check.
"We can have really loud sex all day and no one cares, because there's no one around to interrupt."
Bella snorted a laugh. "You've really thought about this, haven't you?"
I grinned down at her, seeing the laughter in her eyes. "Of course I have, what did you expect?"
She only grinned back and shook her head. A stray of hair landed across her forehead, and I tucked it behind her ear.
"So you know what this means, right?" I said, feeling the side of my lips curve up without my permission.
A smile threatened to break out across her face as well. "What?"
I caught her gaze for a second, letting the grin form on my face for real as I took in the glint in her eyes. Then, in one movement, I rolled over and hoisted her up over my shoulder letting the afghan fall to the floor – our floor - as I stood from the couch. Bella squealed in surprise.
"Jacob!" she cried, laughter shaking her body as she was turned head down, dangling over my shoulder.
"Nope," I said, hoisting her hips further up on my shoulder in a firm grip before determinedly heading towards the bedroom. Her hair was almost reaching the back of my knees. "Not good enough. You're going to have to be much louder than that."
A.N: (I just realized it's the last one! Oh my...)
That's it, guys. It is a little weird to be ending it, but I am where I wanted to be when I started writing. I hope you have liked this one, I know I have learned a lot from writing it. It got out with a bad start, but it turned out to be the story I've enjoyed most to write. Thanks to every single one of you who left kind thoughts and comments, they have been both helpful and encouraging.
Important stuff first:a humongous thank you to JJ Twi1ight for all the great help and beta-work. Writing about another culture in a second language hasn't always been easy (I've had to smack my own forehead a few times and grin when I realize I've accidentally slipped in norwegian words like 'overvære' or 'nudler' and she of course have no idea about what the heck I'm trying to say). Also a tremendous thank you to kallmecrazy for beta-work and helpful suggestions, correcting my grammar and providing lots of encouragement. Better betas than these two are difficult to find, I bet!
Over to the less important stuff:
So, what's next?
- So far I have two other projects going on. There will be another Jacob/Bella story. It is not a sequel to this one - I'm going all human this time. I've started writing and planning, but want to get a bit more control over it before I start posting.
- There will also be a one-shot thing or two, but I don't know when because it is not quite done yet either.
- There might be one-shot drabbles related to this story – I don't have anything written yet, but I'm open for ideas!
So if you're interested, stick around - I'm guessing I'll get to post something around Christmas.
And finally, totally off the point (and since this A.N. is reaching novel-size anyway) and just because I feel like it:*inserts favourite quote*
"I know exactly what words I am wanting to
say, but somehow or other they is always getting
squiffsquiddled around" - The BFG/Roald Dahl