AN ~ As this is a series of one-shots, I will give each a small individual summary. The overall one is this: on I participated in a competition, Musical Cues, where we had to write a 2500+ word one-shot inspired by a song. I entered 4 one-shots, which I will post here, and will hopefully write some more to add further 'chapters'

Disclaimer: The following contains segments of dialogue from Eclipseand New Moonby Stephenie Meyer and The Twilight Saga: New Moon. I take no credit for these.

Summary: Inspired by 'Almost Here' by Delta Goodrem and Brian McFadden. A look into Jacob's runaway days at the end of Eclipse/beginning of BD.

Almost Here

"Don't make me choose. Because it'll be him."

Bella's words echoed in my ears. They cut me deep.

The depth of her chocolate eyes drew me in, and I could see all the pain and fury that burned her inside.

Behind her, Edward's expression was torn between sympathy and victory. I couldn't blame him. I must have looked pretty pathetic.

I lifted my head off my paws and looked up at the sky, wondering what she was doing now. Probably planning a wedding. More pain shot through me at the thought of that leech waiting at the altar for her.

The silver moon that lit the sky reminded me of that night...the night Bella had picked Edward over me. I'd been confused, I'd overreacted...I'd been stupid. Who knows? Maybe if I'd been less of a moron, I'd be the one hiding Charlie's shotgun so he couldn't shoot me for marrying his daughter. Oh, wait - Charlie liked me because I hadn't mortally wounded his daughter or sent her catatonic ! How strange!

Or maybe Bella would still have crushed my heart into the dust and run off with Captain Sparkly because - let's face it - she'd been all over him since the Italy fiasco, and I didn't matter any more. Not now that precious Edward was safe and the beloved Cullens were back in town.

With a sigh, I put my head back down and shut my eyes. My mind was flooded with memories of her. Laughing. Crying. Fighting me off so she could rescue Edward in Italy. I never should have let her go. No, I should've gone with her. Then I could have proved that I cared about her and Edward. "What a mature and self-sacrificing thing to do," she would say, getting ready to kiss me.

God, why do I do this to myself?

With a pang, I remembered when we kissed outside the tent that night. I'd felt invincible. Like a god. I'd finally won the battle for Bella's heart - yes, I'd believed, for a moment, that just maybe she'd pick me.

Lying on the cold, wet, forest floor, I longed to feel her touch again. Even though I knew it was wrong, I longed for that security. A strangled growl escaped my throat, my skin tingling as I imagined her fingers running along it. A moan of longing followed it. Who was I kidding? I'd be lucky if she ever set eyes on me again.

"Jacob, it's Bella. I really need someone to talk to. Could you maybe come over tonight? We're having pizza. Thanks."

No. I'm busy wrecking shoes and learning about my great-grandpa.

"Jake, hey, it's Bella again...come over, please?"

Sorry Bella. I took Embry's shift this afternoon.

"Um...yeah it's me. Listen, if you could call me back that'd be great."

Mono? Seriously dad?

"Jake...call me?"

What exactly do you want me to say? Sorry I broke your heart, Bella. Sorry I'm a miserable sod who can't stop whining. Sorry I love you so much it would kill me to let you go.

...

Ever since Edward stepped of Volterra, Bella's heart had been twisted and torn between us, and it was like I had made the final decision. I had single-handedly crushed her heart. I'd pushed her away. She couldn't trust me. She couldn't rely on me. Even though she knew the reason now, it didn't hurt any less.

I remembered all those messages on the phone...she'd sounded so lost. And I hadn't been able to say a word.

With a stab I recalled the plummeting feeling I'd had in the last instant: the confidence disappeared and I knew that I had lost. In fact, I'd lost a long time before the goodbye kiss - our first and last real one. As if I wasn't feeling bad enough, memories of the disastrous first kiss came crashing in like waves.

"You can have me the way I am - bad behaviour included - or not at all."

"I love him, Jacob. He's my whole life."

"Not anymore. He left. And now he's just going to have to deal with the consequences. Me. Until your heart stops beating, I'll be here - fighting."

And then I kissed her. No 'I love you Bella'. No 'you're my whole life.' Not even a 'well, you owe me.' The first kiss was all about Edward. Oh, yeah, I'm so romantic. Great work, Jake. Uh huh. But still, wasn't a terrible boyfriend better than a terrible monster?

Edward and Bella? Their love was unpredictable. Dangerous. It was criminal for them to have come this far - hell, even Edward realised it! He'd nearly killed her, and then his entire family had come close. To protect her - that's why he left. But then he came back and suddenly believed they had to be together. And, worse, she actually believed him!

What Bella and I shared was warm and wholesome. She had been safe and happy with me. Why did Edward have to come back? I'd do anything for Bella; she knew that. I sure as hell wouldn't walk out on her like the leech did. She shouldn't have been so quick to dismiss what we had. It was special. It was like the sun, she had told me once. Did she really believe that? If so, it shouldn't be that easy to leave the sun behind. To cast me aside as if I'd never been there for her. How could she?

Maybe because I had neverbeen there for her. I'd held her at arms' length from the beginning, not wanting to hurt her and yet driving the wedge further between us. I'd totally treated her like...like...a dog! I'd hurt her and neglected her and still expected her to come running when I called. The kiss, the phone calls; they were all evidence. When her heart had been broken by that leech, sure I'd set her on the road to recovery. I'd made her laugh and smile, I'd gotten her out of heaps of trouble, I'd put back together all the pieces of her too easily trusting heart. But then I'd ditched her to go run around on four legs chasing vampires. She'd trusted me with her deepest secrets, and I hadn't even been able to explain my disappearances. I'd promised not to hurt her, and the next moment I'd tossed her into the gutter.

What a fool.

Oh, Bella, what have I done to you? To us? Even if we couldn't be lovers, even if we never got married, couldn't we just be friends?

A hot, salty tear the size of a baseball rolled down my cheek as I recalled the stoic expression Bella wore when she came to visit me after my 'motorbike accident.' More than anything, I wished I could have held her while she cried. But I didn't deserve it. I had never been there for her - worse, I hadn't realised how much she needed me. And in the tent, before the fight, when she had pressed her freezing body against mine, pressed her face into my chest, I'd been too busy gloating to Edward to take it in. She had been worried - about me and Edward, about the pack, about the Cullens. She had needed me, and I had all my attention totally narrowed onto hurting Edward. I'd totally abused the fact that my Bella needed me just as much as him, even if it was in a different way.

But I had destroyed our chances at that too; at mere friendship. Even then, paralysed and bedridden as Bella and I had decided to just be friends, I had known what I was going to do. I had known I wasn't strong enough to hover in the background all the time: eventually I'd do something to make her hate me. I didn't need Pixie Prophet to tell me that. And I didn't need Colonel Carrot-up-his-butt to tell me how much that would hurt all of us. Especially Bella. There was only one way to avoid this prediction, this disaster: I ran as far away as I had the heart to go. As it turns out, I think that was the worst decision I have ever made. I had hurt Bella, neglected her, hated on her boyfriend with every ounce of bitterness I possessed (which, believe me, is a lot) and after all that, she had asked me for one thing - friendship - and I had run away from it.

And the Number One Shonky Friend Award goes to...

...

Jake? Hey, Jake, Leah's voice interrupted my thoughts.

What? I grumbled. And to think I'd spent so long trying to run away. Why do I bother? Drowning in self pity here, do you mind?

Woah, geez, sorry for crashing the pity party. She sounded irritated and hurt. She was right. I was bummed out, but there was no need to take it out on my pack members.

Sorry, I apologised.

It's cool, she replied half-heartedly. Actually I'm having a bit of a pity party myself.

Join the club, I offered. What's up?

Seth and Sue have gone to Bella's wedding.

What?

Yeah, I know right? What a way to stick by your pack.I could picture her rolling her eyes. But - wait, did she say Bella's wedding?

Yeah. What's up?

I've gotta go.

I leapt to my feet and charged off into the bushes. I could hear some more pack minds joining Leah; a confused, excited jumble of thoughts. They'd been wondering when I was finally going to suck it up and come home. Turns out I had been drifting towards La Push for the last few days. Huh. So much for running away from my troubles.

I rushed home and threw on the most formal clothes I could find. I dug through the kitchen drawers until I found something sharp enough and hacked off my shaggy black locks. I glanced at the scraps of wrapping paper on the kitchen table from where Billy had wrapped his gift, and realised I hadn't brought one. I contemplated buying something on my way to the Cullens' - after all, what kind of a shmuck rocks up uninvited to a wedding without a present for the happy couple? - but quickly abandoned the idea: firstly, one glance at my dismally empty spare change jar told me I had no money and secondly; there just wasn't time. This could be my last chance to talk to Bella while she was still human. Apologise. Let her know I knew I was being a jerk. And maybe...just maybe...put in a last ditch effort to stop her forever joining them.

It wasn't hard to find the Cullen place. From a quarter mile away I could see lights through the trees. As I got closer, I could hear music and people's voices, blurred into each other. After all those joyful, fun-filled hours of morphine injections and bone realignment, I remembered Carlisle's well. Esme replied to it, and I found myself perking up a little. At least one person in the place might not want to kill me if I went bezerk. Might. And that's if Rose doesn't get to me first.

Aw, man, I'm screwed.

We're watching, buddy,I imagine Quil offering enthusiastically. I pictured the pack scattered through the forest, sitting on their haunches, tuned into the pack mind, just waiting for me to make a total idiot of myself. Looking at my chances, I don't think they'll be disappointed. I took a deep breath.

Here goes nothing.

...

Seeing Bella again - with human eyes, no less - was weird, but I could handle it. Even knowing she'd already made her choice, she'd already committed to eventually becoming a vampire. What threatened to release the anger and frustration eating me up inside was when Bella smiled awkwardly, tears leaving glistening paths down her cheeks, and I laughed and started; "I'm going to try and remember you like this. Pretend that-"

"That what?" she snapped, before I realised what I'd said wrong. "That I died?"

Jake! You fool! You moron! You imbecile! It took me a while to get control of my tongue, but Bella hadn't called the army in just yet, so I hadn't offended her too badly. Now I just had to very carefully get myself out of this conversation without getting in deeper trouble. And I managed it. For a while, I kept my head above water. Just.

But then the honeymoon came onto the cards.

"Yes I can have a real honeymoon!" Bella shouted. "I can do whatever I want! Butt out!"

I stopped dancing, the peace of the moment disintegrating immediately.

"What do you mean?" I demanded. "Have a real honeymoon? While you're still human? That's a sick joke Bella!"

"I said butt out, Jake," she hissed, glaring at me. "It's private."

I grabbed her shoulders and started shaking, hoping to knock some sense into her.

"Bella! Have you lost your mind? You can't be that stupid! Tell me you're joking!"

"Ow, Jake - stop!" she shrieked.

"Take your hands off her!" Edward snapped.

In the forest, the pack was approaching. Seth looked around himself and warily approached me.

"Jake, bro, back away. You'll hurt her. Let her go."

Seth took my arm and began dragging me away. I shuddered, fighting the urge to phase. If I did so close to him, I'd tear the kid to shreds. My blood was boiling with fury. I had to tear something. And with each passing second I cared less and less that it might be Seth Clearwater.

No. I wouldn't do that. I wouldn't sink that low. I had to find something else to destroy.

Edward Cullen.

"I'll kill you," I hissed at him, fighting Seth as he pulled me away. "I'll kill you myself! I'll do it now!"

"Don't do it, Jake, come on," Seth insisted, tugging me again. I stumbled after him. Quil and Sam were waiting by the fringe of the forest. Together, the three of them dragged me away.

"No, he's going to kill Bella! Worse!" I protest madly, dragging on my restraints. I had to do this for Bella. I knew what was best. Edward was going to destroy her, damn her...why couldn't these guys understand? Why were they trying to stop me?

"Jake, let it go man," Seth counselled. "It was her choice." I gritted my teeth and doubled over as the wolf threatened to burst free.

"Back off," I choked. Seth obediently stepped back, and I exploded into the huge, powerful wolf that lived beneath my skin.

Jake, what's goin' on man? Quil asked. You were really out of character back there.

I snapped my teeth together and turned my back on him.

Leave me alone, guys, I muttered, stalking off into the undergrowth. Not even Seth dared follow me.

...

I am an idiot.

I am a fool.

There is something medically wrong with my head. There has to be, otherwise why would I have let myself do this, over and over again? After all the pain I'd caused Bella, all the rage I'd suffered, all the spite wasted on Edward, who brushed it off like water on a duck's back, I had still failed to accept that Bella's life was hers to run, her heart was hers to give away. And hers to let her oh-so-loving husband freeze forever.

I'm sorry. That was all I had wanted to say. I wanted just one time, one perfect moment, where something important was shared between us and I didn't screw it up. One time I was totally in the moment, totally focused on Bella, totally there.

I set myself into a lope until I reached First Beach. I stared at the blue-gray water; the huge silver moon reflected on its surface, and was reminded of the tears that glistened in Bella's eyes. The sadness you feel when you have something you love but you know you're going to lose it. The emptiness that told me; you're only almost here.

Only almost here.