Disclaimer: Not mine. None of it.
IMPORTANT: No imprinting exists, because it's crap.
Edward barely turned his head at Emily's comment. He already knew what a blur of confusion her thoughts were- fear, anxiety, indecision, and more fear. The past months in his near-constant presence had taken its toll on her nerves. In some corner of his mind, he regretted putting her through all this.
Right now, her anxiety was irritating.
"He'll be here." She repeated for the twenty-seventh time that week. Her tone implied that she was assuring herself more than him. "He will."
Edward had his doubts. He clinically pondered on the possibility of Jacob's failure to arrive, which was more than likely, given the circumstances. There was absolutely no reason for Jacob to even try. According to Emily, no one in La Push-what was left of it- had seen Jacob any more than they had seen him through the past few years. He had disappeared, along with Renesmee, during the war and had never been heard of again.
Until Edward called his old number, which he picked up on the third ring.
"Maybe he got delayed." Emily continued, and Edward finally stopped focusing on her and let his thoughts wander.
The Volturi had been ruthless in their attack- assembling a low-key army of the most ruthless vampires. Their claim that Renesmee was an immortal child had been nothing but a guise to overthrow Dr. Carlisle Cullen's increasingly popular way of life. They had slaughtered everyone who had even the most minor connection to the doctor- including his beloved family, his allies in the Denali, Egyptian and Amazon covens, and the entire wolf pack. Sheer, blind luck had saved Edward because he had instinctively caught a flicker of an immortal mind and ducked, seconds before Alec had trained the full force of his powers on Edward. Emmett had made quick work of the inhumanly beautiful male twin, only to be massacred by a livid Jane.
Both sides suffered heavily, but the expertise and experience of the Volterra had paid off in the end, when Felix and Demetri combined efforts to shred Rosalie, the last remaining fighter, to pieces.
Before they left, Aro and Caius had turned to him.
"Take me, too." he spat.
The ancient duo had smiled. "I think not." Aro had said. "We have plans for you, beautiful one."
Edward had gone to a killing rage, piling destruction upon destruction on the Volturi guard. Still, they had not responded. Exhausted to the very core, Edward had taken up wandering in a dreamlike state for years, until one day, a clear thought formed in his head, piercingly clear in the fog of memories of laughter and joy: he must see his daughter.
Accordingly, he had returned to the reservation to be welcomed by Emily Young and a handful of others. They were all still too shaken by grief to blame him for the deaths of their loved ones. Even Billy Black only looked away when he entered a room.
By unknown means, Bella had given Jacob and Renesmee a way to escape, insisting that Jacob leave the pack and protect their daughter. Jacob had reluctantly left, choosing his goddaughter over his pack. He was currently on top of the list of the enemies of the Volturi, which meant that his every move was followed, with a deathtrap at every corner.
Edward closed his eyes and tried not to focus on the blunt edge of pain, slicing away at his heart. More than the loss of a soul mate, he mourned the loss of a family that he had held close to his heart for over a century.
Distantly, he heard the roar of an engine. A flash of thoughts, on a wavelength he hadn't heard in a long time. Wild, uncontrollable, free.
He opened his eyes in shock just as Emily reappeared at his side. She sighed in relief. "He's here."
So it was that Jacob Black watched Edward Cullen through neutral eyes over a beaten-up Toyota Corolla.
"Ready for this, then?"
Edward said nothing, his eyes raking over his former rival. He had expected the same aloofness he felt around everyone else at the sight of Jacob.
On the contrary, he was stunned by the intensity with which he responded to Jacob. The pain of years dissolved to give way to the old dislike and borderline hatred he had always felt for the man before him.
He was just as Edward remembered. His dark hair was longer, brushing his shoulders. Taller than he remembered- his height was still ludicrous. He seemed leaner, and the years of hiding showed on his face. He looked older.
He was wearing a black leather jacket and a dark blue T-shirt underneath, and denim jeans. His hands- encased in fingerless black leather gloves- were clasped over the roof of the car.
"When will you get there?" Emily asked. Her thoughts told Edward that the silence bothered her.
"Around a week."
Edward looked sharply at him. He shrugged.
"Drive straight through, maybe it'll take two days, tops. Sadly, we'll have to take the roundabout route. No flights, either."
"Oh, Jake." Emily sounded sad. "They still after you?"
"Hard as ever." Jacob grimaced. He looked directly at Edward. "This'll be all rough going, all the way. Sure you can handle that?"
Edward shouldn't have been rattled. But he was. The boy really had a way of rubbing him the wrong way. "Of course I can."
Jacob crossed his arms. He looked like a sharp retort was hovering at the edge of his tongue, but he held it back. "Just a heads up."
Edward immediately felt chastised. He just had been taken by surprise by Jacob's obvious control over himself, the fact that he had turned up at all, and his apparent acceptance of the turn for the worse his life had taken. Jacob took him by surprise.
He nodded jerkily, and Jacob nodded back. Jake checked his watch, and looked at Emily.
"Best be going." He said, briskly. "They expect us to rest at night. I like to surprise them."
Rest. Edward had forgotten. Jacob was still mostly human.
The shifter leaned down to hug Emily. "You take care of yourself now."
His words were soft, but Edward's enhanced hearing picked it up anyway.
Emily's fingers were curled. "You, too."
They held each other for a few silent moments, and Edward turned away, feeling intrusive.
There was a gentle tap on his shoulder. He turned back to face Emily's gentle brown eyes.
"Be happy." She said, wrapping her arms around him. Edward relaxed into the unexpected embrace. "I know you still can."
He smoothed her hair gently. "It's what you deserve."
She drew back, her expression earnest. "You do, too. Never forget that."
He slipped his fingers away from her warm ones. He smiled at her, and she smiled back.
He began walking towards the car. Jake lifted his eyebrows.
"Don't you want to see your father?"
Jake looked astonished he'd asked, then looked away. He yanked the door open with a resounding creak. "Nah. Let's get this show on the road."
Edward lifted his eyes for one last time to the place where he had found a fleeting happiness. His gaze traced the familiar shapes, a silent farewell to a place he'd known.
Then he followed Jake into the car.
A/N: Reviews mean I'll continue.