Beta:MissEllen-Thank you my sweet friend!


AN: Thank you for your patience. I can't promise regular updates, but I can promise I will finish this story.


** Kleenex Warning**

CH.44 Life Support

Previously:

"Kim, I have to phase, I have to... hell I don't know what to do." I slumped down, sitting on her bed with my head in my hands. What the hell was I supposed to do?

"You have to tell him!" she shouted. "Jared, you have to tell him."

Paul's Pov

This was bullshit. Yeah, I knew the fucker was bent out of shape over Kim, but I didn't want to have to deal with our almighty Alpha if he found out Jared had skipped patrol. I ran along the treeline that divided the forest from the houses of La Push until I reached the area behind Kim's house.

I knew he'd be here, I thought following Jared's scent.

Phasing, I slipped on my shorts and stalked across the back yard. The closer I got, the louder Kim's heartbeat sounded in my ears. It was beating much faster than normal and Jared's scent was laced with anxiety and fear.

"You have to tell him!" I heard Kim yell. "Jared, you have to tell him." She repeated sounding frantic.

Tell who, what?

I jogged to the side of the house, stopping in front of Kim's window, the same window I had climbed into after the last disastrous bonfire. Jared whipped his head toward me, jumped over Kim's bed, threw the window open and pulled me inside.

"What the hell?" I growled, the rest of my words died as I took in my surroundings. Kim was crying and Jared looked like he was going to climb out of his skin. Instantly, I was on guard.

"Jared, man... what the hell is going on?"

"Dude... she's uh, fuck..." he stuttered. I looked from him to Kim and then back to Jared

I grabbed Jared's shoulder, "JARED!" I barked, attempting to get him to focus.

Jared turned his head to meet my eyes, "She's pregnant," he blurted out.

"Kim?" I asked, confused. I knew they hadn't been together and I didn't think she'd been with anyone else. We would have known.

"Bella!" Kim sobbed, "Bella is pregnant."

I felt my mouth go dry, "What?"

Jared stared at me."What the hell do we do?"

He and I were just staring at each other, both with what I'm sure were 'fuck me stupid' looks when there was a loud bang. Snapping our heads up, Kim was standing in front of her door that she had opened and then slammed shut to get our attention.

Once she knew she had our attention, she looked at Jared and walked toward him until she stood in front of him. "If what you said is true... then Embry doesn't know. But Bella thinks he does. She thinks that he doesn't want her." Kim choked back a sob. "That he doesn't want the baby."

It was one thing for the Elders and Sam to keep Em from Bella, that was bad enough; but fuck, there was going to be a kid. There was no way this was going to happen. Fuck, my dad was a piece of shit and Embry never even knew his.

"Fuck this," I snarled. "I'm going to go find him."

"Find him? Where the hell is he?" Kim gasped.

"After the bonfire, he took off again." Jared explained, sounding as tired as I already felt.

The Elders had told Sam to let him go. I thought they hoped he'd cool off and go back to his calm self.

They were idiots.

Quil, Jared and I had wanted to go after him. Hell, the guy looked like he was withering away but we knew he deserved a few days without all of us up his ass.

"Paul, get Quil. He might know where he would go," Jared ordered.

Without another word, I hopped back through the window and sprinted toward Quil's house. My mind reeling with my new knowledge.

It didn't take me long to make it to Quil's, but I knew before I made it to the front door that he wasn't home. Frustrated, I headed toward the market, hoping he'd be there.

He wasn't.

I didn't know what else to do so I headed back to Kim's. It didn't take long to get back to her house. Climbing through the window, I found Jared with Kim wrapped in his arms as she cried.

"He's not at home or the market." I told Jared.

Kim stepped out of Jared's arms and sat on her bed. Jared turned on his heel and started pacing,"Fuck!" Stopping mid step, he turned to Kim, "Maybe you could try to talk to Bella, tell her what happened. She'd listen to you, right?"

It wasn't much of a plan, but we didn't have anything else. "Do you know where she is?" I asked.

"No, but Katie might," she said, grabbing her cell from the little table beside her bed.

"Voicemail," Kim sighed, dejected. "Let me try Bella," she mumbled before placing the phone to her ear once again.

Frustrated when neither Katie or Bella answered, Kim threw her phone down, grabbed her pillow and screamed into it.

I felt like doing the same damn thing.

I took Jared's path on the carpet, walking back and forth trying to think of something, anything that would work.

"We need to find Quil and hopefully Embry, too. And someone needs to try to talk to Bella until we can get a hold of Embry and let him explain everything." I hadn't even realized I'd spoken out loud until Jared answered.

"If I phase I can get to Forks in under twenty minutes. Maybe I can get Bella to come back with me and talk to Kim," Jared suggested.

It was the best we could do. None of the three of us had a car to use.

Jared pulled Kim from her bed, hugging her to him. Finally releasing her, he gave me a long look before moving toward the window. "Keep trying Katie and Bella." he directed as he jumped from the window.

Why the hell were we coming and going through the window?


Jared's Pov

None of us had seen or spoken to her in months. We'd just disappeared from her life with no explanation. I liked the girl and we had all been friends, hanging out together. She was just good. If I were her, I'd hate us.

I could remember the night Sam found her on the forest floor, the way her eyes were dead and she seemed lifeless. As I ran I prayed that she'd fared better this time, but I couldn't imagine that possible. I'd seen them. They had loved each other and now... now she was pregnant.

What a fucking mess, I thought as I neared Forks.

After the bonfire from hell, hearing some of Embry's pain, and learning that Bella had been enduring a pregnancy alone, I wondered if there was nothing safe anymore. If felt as if there was nothing the Elders and an Alpha order couldn't destroy.

I ran to the edge of the Swan property, stopping to listen before hedging out to look in the drive for her car. Hell, I'd have been happy to see her father's police cruiser if it meant I could get to Bella and talk to her. But there were no heartbeats, and upon peeking out from the trees, I saw that the driveway was empty.

I turned and fled toward the business area of Forks. I knew she worked at Newton's. If she wasn't there, I had to no idea where else to look. Saying a prayer to Taka Aki, I ran as fast as I could.

I skidded to a stop on the opposite side of the road from the Outfitter's, just behind the cover of trees. Frustrated at not seeing her red behemoth of a truck, I started to turn around and head back to the rez, before remembering Bella had gotten a new car. What the hell kind of car did she have? I couldn't remember. With nothing to lose, I decided to phase and walk toward the three vehicles in the parking lot. I'd have to act like a dog and try to sniff out her scent.

Jackpot!

Quickly making my way to the front of the building, I opened the door, hearing the jingle of bells from overhead announcing my arrival. I didn't see anyone at the counter. "Be with you in a second," a male's voice called out.

Making my way to the counter to wait, I tried to think of what I would say. My thoughts were interrupted by the same male voice I'd just heard softly talking to Bella. "Bella just go home, you're sick."

I heard Bella tell the boy she was talking to, "No, I'll be okay. I need the hours, plus it will pass. It usually only lasts a few minutes."

"Bella, do you work at the coffee shop today?" He asked.

"Yes, but I don't have to be there until Six. I'll be okay Mike, I swear." She told him.

So his name was Mike. I thought I'd recognized the name from some of the Forks kids' beach trips to the rez.

I heard him sigh, "Do you need anything?"

With my enhanced hearing I could hear Bella shift, "Um in my bag I have bottle of ginger ale and some crackers, if you could get them for me please."

"Sure I'll be right back. Here put this washcloth on your head. Maybe the coolness will help." he told her.

I stood there not any closer to knowing what to say when a tall blonde guy walked out from the back room, looking toward the floor, shaking his head.

"I'm sorry for your wait, what can I help you with..." the rest of his words died on his lips as he looked up and met my eyes. At first I thought he was nervous about my size. We'd all grown used to the reaction. But, that thought quickly disappeared as his face went red and his eyes narrowed into slits.

Hell, if I'd been anything less than a freaky wolf he would have scared the shit out of me, he looked pissed.

"Are you him?" He hissed, just loud enough to be audible to a human's ear. I imagined he was trying to be quiet, so Bella wouldn't hear.

Stuttering, "What, who?" I asked.

"Him…her ex?"

"Nn…" Clearing my throat, "No, I'm uh, my name is Jared." I told him.

"I remember now, you're his friend."

"Mike?" I heard Bella call from the back of the store.

"Uh, yeah, just a minute Bella," He said never taking his eyes off me.

"It's okay I'm feeling better." Bella said and her voice sound hoarse.

"No it's all good, take a couple minutes." Mike hurriedly shouted to her.

"What the hell do you want?" He demanded.

"Is she okay?" I asked, hoping she was. This was all so messed up.

His eyes blazed fire, "Fuck No! She's not okay." He snarled, and for a puny guy he sounded lethal.

"What's wrong with her?" I asked, before I could stop myself. I hadn't a real plan to begin with, and I definitely didn't have a plan to talk to a pregnant and sick Bella. I had no idea what I was going to do.

"Ask your friend." he snarled. "Now what the hell do you want? Bella doesn't need this shit today." He said.

Fuck. I doubted this Mike guy was going to tell Bella I wanted to talk to her. Judging by the way he was acting, he'd taken it upon himself to be her protector. This just kept getting worse and worse.

"I came here to talk to Bella," I admitted, knowing that news was going to go down like a lead balloon. "It's important." I told him trying to listen for Bella.

The look on his face was nothing short of murder. Whoever this guy in front of me was, he cared about Bella. It was clearly written in rage across his face.

"Mike?" Bella called stepping out of the back room. It was like slow motion; her looking up, seeing me, recognition, then a look of total anguish crossed her eyes before she took a deep breath and resignation settled on her shoulders.

I looked at her eyes then traveled down to where her hand was cradling a baby bump.

Oh, holy Spirits! I mean, I knew. Of course I knew; that's why I was here, but seeing it, I was not prepared. Shit just got real.

"Bella, it's okay, he was just leaving." Mike told her glaring at me.

"Bella..." I called out, not knowing how to start this conversation or how to get her away from her the pissed off guy in front of me to even have the conversation.

"Dude get the fuck out." Mike hissed looking between me and and an increasingly pale Bella.

"You're… you're pregnant." I blurted like an idiot.

The sadness that swept through Bella's eyes almost sent me to my knees. She looked down at the floor, took a deep breath and then lifted her head up and looked me straight in the eyes.

"I thought if he sent anyone, that it would be Quil," she said almost too quietly for even me to hear. "I don't want anything from him, only to sign the paperwork then he never has to hear from me again."

If I was confused before, now I was fucking clueless. "What paperwork? What are you talking about?" I asked.

"I…I can't give my son a lot of things but he deserves to know … if Embry will sign the paperwork acknowledging he's the father, the Makah will allow my son to be a member of the Tribe. I only want my son to have Tribal Rights, I'm not asking for anything else. I… I just want my son to know where he comes from. I swear I don't want any money. I want my son to have a Tribe to belong too, so that he knows I wasn't the only one who wanted him." Bella said tears rolling down her face.

Taka Aki... swallow me whole, I beg of you.

I didn't know anything about any paperwork and Kim hadn't mentioned anything. Of course she had just found out about the baby so she probably didn't know either. "Bella…

"Please…" She started to say but stopped short. Blowing out a breath, "Never mind, I'll just add that to the growing list of reasons I'm a terrible mother before I ever give birth, starting with no father." She sobbed before turning back to a stock-still Mike. "I think I will go home,'' she whispered.

"Bella wait, I'll drive you." He moved to grab a set of keys from under the counter, never taking his hate filled eyes from mine.

"No, no I'm okay. Thank you Mike and I'm really sorry about being a shitty employee." She said walking past us.

I couldn't move.

"Why the fuck didn't you just leave." Mike yelled.

"He… Embry doesn't know. I swear he doesn't know." I defended my friend.

Slamming his fist down onto the counter, "I find that hard to believe since I've stood next to her listening during half of the dozens of messages she left telling him about the baby. Hoping he gave a damn. " He snarled, before continuing, "Do you know what she's been through? She works two fucking jobs, she's been in the hospital twice from stress, and she cries all the time. Your friend….did more damage than fucking Cullen ever dreamed of doing. The only thing keeping her together is the baby; she loves that baby with everything she only thing she's asked for is for your fucking friend to sign some goddamn papers so she can give her son his culture. I don't think that's asking too much." He yelled.

"I… fuck!" I yelled. What the hell could I say?

"You don't get it do you? Your friend didn't just break her heart, leave her alone and pregnant. This is a small town. It doesn't matter what year it is, can you guess what people say behind her back, or better yet the things they've said to her face?'' He said looking disgusted.

"Just fucking go." He sighed, turning to walk back into the room they both came out of earlier.

I walked out of the store, the bells mocking me with their jingling. I didn't know what the fuck to do. Crossing the highway and walking into the forest, I slipped my clothes off, packed them into the small bag I had brought and tied it to my ankle.

Phasing, I ran like I'd never ran before back to Kim and Paul. We had to figure something out.

Quil's scent was fresh as I passed through the trees behind the market, I nearly stumbled over my legs when I abruptly stopped in order to phase and catch him.

I quickly threw on my clothes and pulled my cell phone from the cargo pocket. Sending Paul a text to meet me at the market. Slipping the phone back in the safety of my pocket, I sprinted toward the store.

I walked through the door and saw Quil waiting on a customer; thankfully the woman appeared to be the only other person besides me and Quil in the store.

Paul pulled a flushed Kim inside and we moved to the side and out of the way as the customer finished her purchase and left the market, only after eyeing the three of us up in curiosity.

As soon as she was out of sight, I locked the door and flipped the sign to "closed".

"What the fuck man?" Quil asked until he saw my face then he looked from me to Paul then to Kim. "What's wrong?" he asked, coming from behind the counter toward us.


Quil's Pov

I knew something was wrong. Really, really fucking wrong. Jared looked like he was going to throw up and Paul looked seconds from shredding his skin. Hoping for an answer I turned to Kim. I could tell she'd been crying.

"What's going on?" I asked again.

"I just got back from Newton's." he said looking down at the floor.

Fuck me, I thought, knowing this was going to be about Bella.

Paul shifted on his feet; he had a soft spot for her even if he would never admit it. Kim choked, trying to hold onto a sob that broke free despite her best effort.

"Jared! What the hell is going on?" I yelled, getting more worried by the second.

"Bella was there." The way he whispered Bella's name sent chills down my spine.

I just stood there, unable to say anything. This was Bella, my friend; the girl I thought of as a sister. "How bad is she?" I asked.

"Dude, it's fucking bad." He said looking up at me for the first time. The look on his face scared the shit out of me.

"What aren't you saying?" I asked.

"Who patrols next?" he asked, not answering me. Sam and Jacob would be getting back to the rez soon, and from the looks of it, Jared didn't want either of them to see his memories.

"I do in fifteen minutes." Paul told him.

At least we'd have a few more hours before Jake and Sam would phase in. That is, if neither of them phased early to 'check' up on us.

"Wait, aren't' you supposed to be on patrol?" I asked looking at Jared. Whatever was going on was bad if Jared skipped patrol.

"I'll phase and show you, I just… I can't… I'll phase." Jared mumbled.

"Kim, stay here. We'll be back as soon as we can." Jared told Kim, pulling her to him before releasing her and quickly leaving the store.

"Uh, get a drink or a snack... whatever you want." I tossed over my shoulder as I followed after Jared and paul.

Jared, Paul and I made it past the tree line, shedding our clothes in silence.

I'll show you from the time I walked into Newton's.-Jared said, as the first glimpses of memory began to fill mine and Paul's minds.

As soon as Jared's memory finished, I phased back. Kneeling in the dirt, I didn't attempt to hide the fact that I was crying. It took me a few minutes to get myself together enough to slide my shorts back on. Once I was covered, I stood and looked at my pack brother.

Noticing that Paul was gone, I looked toward the trees, listening to his heavy paws pound the damp earth, "Paul?"

"Patrolling... no one wants to be in his head right now." Jared said shaking his own.

Jared grabbed my shoulder forcing me to look at him, "You okay?"

What he'd just shared in the mind link was enough to haunt anyone.

"Embry has been my best friend since we were born. I don't remember a time when he wasn't there. And Bella..." I stopped unable to finish. I truly loved the girl as if she were of the same blood. How did this happen? I just didn't understand.

He squeezed my shoulder that was still clasped in his hand, "I know," he whispered. Locking his eyes on mine, "Quil.. we're going to have to tell him. Tell Embry about Bella. About the baby.

I nodded, knowing it was true.

"Do you know where he is?"

"Yeah," I confirmed. Embry had gone to the cave. I'd known that was where he was just as I'd known that was where he was last time.

"Cave?" Jared guessed.

"He's been sleeping there. I don't know where he goes during the day, but he always goes back there," I explained sadly. I knew the cave had been special to Embry and Bella. Em always found his way back there. I imagined he could lose himself in Bella's memory without distraction.

Jared nodded, understanding without words. "I'll go with you."

I was glad. I wasn't sure I would be able to get the words out once I faced Embry. This was going to kill him. He'd been withering away and slipping farther and farther into hell. This was sure to be the final nail in the coffin.

Jared and I walked down the beach; my entire body ached knowing I was about to further rip my best friend's heart out.

As we neared the entrance, I stopped to take a deep breath, "I'd rather do anything else in the world."

"I know. Me too," Jared said as we approached the cave.

We got lucky, if that's what you wanted to call it. Embry was inside.

The sight of Embry took both mine and Jared's breath away. He was sitting against the cave walls, his eyes closed. There were a few pictures scattered around; I didn't have to look at them to know what they were.

He'd been gone a few days and was filthy from running all day and probably most of the night too. He looked like he'd lost even more weight and his shoulders sagged. It was if he'd been captured and tortured.

Gathering up courage I didn't really have, I stepped closer to the shell of my best friend. "Em, can we talk to you?"

He opened his eyes; they were so fucking empty.

I opened and closed my mouth several times before Jared took pity on me.

"Em, I uh, had to go to Forks today." Jared confessed. Embry's body jerked slightly.

"Did you see her?" His voice was nothing more than a hoarse whisper.

"Yeah,I saw her." Jared choked.

"Is she okay?" Em asked his eyes searching, pleading.

"Fuck!" I heard Jared mumble so low that it was almost unheard.

"Tell me she's okay." Em begged, looking between me and Jared. His chest was rising and falling with the speed of his accelerated heartbeat.

"She's… "Jared started but stopped, seeming to swallow the words.

"What, she's what?" Embry's panicked voice pleaded.

"Pregnant." Jared whispered.

Embry sucked in a breath and I'd have sworn it sounded like a death gurgle; it looked like he was trying to force air into his lungs. I didn't know if I should say something or wait for him to say something, but the howl slicing through the air made my mind up for me.

"I'll check it out, stay with him." Jared ordered. "If I need you, I'll come get you."

I looked at Embry. "Em?"

Embry was frozen. His entire body had stilled. I stood studying him, unsure of what to do to help him. It was only Jared's frantic call from outside the mouth of the cave that took me away from Embry's catatonic state.

"I'll be right back." I assured Em walking out of the cave to find Jared. The look on his face had me fearing the devil himself.

Jared leaned into me, whispering so low I had to strain to hear him, and when I did I wished I had never gotten out of bed this morning.

"There's been an accident… it's Bella."


Several readers have asked when the angst would end... not for a few more chapters. Hang in there, I do have a plan. :)