Summary: [A Twilight "What if…" fic] – Bella didn't survive Renesmee's birth and Edward was unable to save her. In a world without Bella, the love of his life, Edward struggles to cope with her loss and his new status of a 'single' father. Just when he thinks all hope is lost, he finds help in the most unexpected of places. [Canon – AU]


all is not lost


Unable are the loved to die. For love is immortality.

- Emily Dickinson

A single thought graced his mind as he watched the light leave her eyes. It wasn't supposed to be like this… He checked her pulse and then for a heartbeat, but there was none. His body shivered and shook as a dangerous realization dawned on him. She was gone. He could hardly fathom the thought, he didn't want to believe it was possible. They were supposed to be together, live happily ever after together. They were supposed to have all of eternity laid out before them, but instead the birth of their daughter had killed her—her fragile human body could not handle the strain of carrying his child, his part vampire child.

Maybe there's still time…

A new hope sprung up within him as he leaned down to her. If he could get the venom directly into her heart…

…maybe he could still save her. Things didn't have to be this way. He could fix them. They could still have their life together, but just as he was about to bite her, a hand came to rest heavily on his shoulder. Fingers curled and dug into his skin as he was pulled away from her. "It's too late, son…" Was the soft explanation he was offered when he realized that it was truly over. Bella was gone.

There was no saving her, no bringing her back. She had left him, so fully and completely. She couldn't be turned, nor saved. This was the end. He wanted to fall apart. He wanted to cry and scream his anguish because he had lost a part of himself. All he wanted to do was collapse into a dark pit of nonexistence, but he couldn't. He couldn't. Bella may be gone, but she left behind a legacy. A beautiful baby girl, their baby girl—the child neither ever thought they could have, but she existed, pure and beautiful.

A baby's soft, distressed cry pierced the looming silence and Edward knew in that moment that he must go on. If not for himself, then for her sake. He must survive so Renesmee could thrive. He couldn't abandon his daughter; he couldn't forget or forsake the only piece of his Bella he had left. His daughter needed him as badly as he needed her.

It was then he found the strength to turn away from his wife's body. He looked for his baby girl, a mild panic rising within him when he saw that none of his surrounding family members held the little girl…and then, finally, his eyes came to rest on Jacob Black—the man who had not wanted his daughter to live, he who threatened to throw her out of the window instead of take care of her while he tried to save Bella. Tucked away in his massive arms, wrapped up tight in pure white blankets was his little girl, sleeping away peacefully without a care in the world.

Edward breathed a soft sigh of relief, and realized for the first time that he was happy to see the shifter. He crossed the short distance between him and his child and reached for his sleeping daughter, but he met Jacob's tortured eyes instead. "I'm sorry…" he murmured softly, his eyes flickering away and Edward thought he was giving his condolences, but a mere whisper of a thought dispelled that idea. He couldn't, however, decipher the thought that had passed through the young man.

So he merely nodded as he held his daughter, Jacob's eyes flickering between him and the baby before the shifter turned and headed for the door. Edward could hear him struggling to hold back his sobs, and the vampire found himself wishing he could cry too. That would make grieving so much easier.

The front door closed and the baby whimpered. Frowning, Edward looked down at the little girl who was no longer asleep. He saw an image of Jacob flash through her mind, which made the vampire frown even deeper. He shifted his daughter, laying her against his shoulder as he patted her back, confused as to why Renesmee would be thinking about Jacob.

The baby whimpered and wiggled in his hold, and just before she started crying Edward saw Bella's face pass through their daughter's mind. He closed her eyes, holding her close. He knew how much his daughter loved Bella, and he knew that Renesmee realized she was gone. But what shocked him was the guilt he sensed in his daughter's thoughts. "It's not your fault," he whispered softly, conviction strengthening his voice and resolve. "This is how she would've wanted it." And that was something that Edward knew beyond the shadow of a doubt.

x x x

The first few days of Renesmee's life were quiet and uneventful, though the house was filled with chaos and heartbreak. It was time to plan Bella's funeral, a job Edward had respectively side-stepped and passed along to his sister because he simply couldn't bare the pain of arranging it. He hadn't really given himself time to mourn his love's passing. He knew his family was worried about how he was coping, and truth be told, he wasn't handling her passing all that well.

When he wasn't tending to Renesmee's needs, he was quiet and withdrawn, more so than he had ever been before. He barely acknowledged his family or thought to ask why Jacob was spending so much time with his daughter. He just couldn't get past Bella's death. He had even considered skipping her funeral, but his mother had convinced him to go. He needed closure and he needed to say goodbye; even if he couldn't manage those things, he needed to be there for his daughter.

He had known that Renesmee was special. He had known this even before she had been born. She was unlike anything their world had ever seen. She was special, not one of a kind, but special. She was a hybrid—both vampire and human. Renesmee was the perfect example of a blending of their two worlds, of his and Bella's. She had all of the vampire's strengths, but none of their weaknesses.

Like many of the vampires in the Cullen family clan, she was also blessed with a gift. It was much like his own, except she held the ability to project her thoughts onto others and could read even a shielded mind. That was how Edward knew his daughter exceeded the mental capabilities of a normal little girl her age. They could converse easily through their minds by sharing their thoughts with one another. It was a special bond between the two of them.

"What do you want to eat today?" Edward asked the little girl as he loomed over her crib, his lips curving into a small smile when a deer flickered through her mind. Renesmee did not need blood to survive, but she clearly preferred it to human food. "Alright. I'll fix you a bottle," he said, leaning down into the crib to pick the baby up.

And then I'll see Jacob? Edward blinked at the silent question, his lips now falling into a frown of confusion. His daughter had been eager to spend time with the shifter, as eager as Jacob seemed to want to spend time with her. He had never thought to question it, but it was becoming a little disconcerting. "Perhaps, but only if you tell me why you want to see him so badly," he countered softly as he stepped into the kitchen.

He eased his daughter into her high chair (along with her accelerated mental growth, she also experienced a higher degree of physical growth—she was only a few days old, though she was already holding her head up, rolling over, and sitting up with no assistance) as he awaited her answer. Because he is mine… Once again Edward found himself frowning at that logic, and quite frankly he wasn't so sure he appreciated his daughter's possessiveness towards Jacob. "And why is he yours?" Edward asked after he had strapped her in and turned to open the refrigerator.

Renesmee didn't answer right away and Edward didn't press her. He leaned into the the fridge and pulled out a bottle of animals' blood (deer blood to be sure) for his daughter's meal. Because he imprinted on me. Edward's reaction was instantaneous. His hand clenched into a fist so tight that the bottle of blood burst in his hand, showering the kitchen in a spray of fresh animals' blood. "He what?"

But Renesmee wasn't worried about what Jacob had done, she let out a wail as her dinner covered the walls, floor, counter tops, appliances, and herself and her father. Daddy! The little girl pouted silently, crying still as Edward struggled to contain his anger upon finding out that Jacob had imprinted on his little girl. If he hadn't had the control that he possessed, he would've gone after Jacob. He would've risked life and limb to tear the wolf apart. Daddy…you can't hurt him… Renesmee said, her wailing having quieted as she watched the fuming vampire with stern eyes. If you hurt him, you'll hurt me too.

Edward let out a heavy sigh, leaning heavily against the red stained counter top as he stared at the door to the refrigerator. "And I would never do anything that would harm you, Renesmee…" he answered softly, finally looking over at his daughter."But I'm still not happy about it," Edward added quickly, having every intention of expressing his displeasure once the shifter decided to come and visit his daughter. He hadn't been over yet today, so he knew it was only a matter of time.

x x x

Afternoon had come and gone and it was now nearing dinner, but he didn't have to worry about getting Renesmee's evening meal ready. He had taken his daughter over to the main house so he could clean up his kitchen. Edward knew she'd be safe under his mother's watchful eye. He was just finishing up the kitchen when he thought that he'd go over to the main house to spend the evening with his family, but just as the thought crossed his mind there was a knock at his front door.

He stiffened, the smell unmistakable. He even went as far as rolling his eyes in annoyance as he set aside the mop, glancing over the kitchen as he passed through into the living room. He didn't want Jacob thinking he was coming in during the cleanup of an animal sacrifice or something of the sort. He knew the young man had enough prejudice against them without anything to help him a lot, and truth be told, he wanted an easy ride for his daughter. One that didn't include her having to overcome an ancient prejudice that his kind did not deserve.

Edward pulled open the door and leveled the eager young man with a stern look. "She's not here," he answered plainly, watching in amazement as everything that was happy about the shifter was seemingly sucked out of him. He had no idea the imprint so tightly bound Jacob to his daughter. "She's with Esme and Carlisle. I was just about to go over there to spend some time with my family."

Jacob lingered in the doorway (Edward hadn't invited him in yet) and looked around in an uncomfortable fashion. He was obviously struggling with something, that much Edward could tell without having to pry into his mind. The vampire heaved a soft sigh as he waited for the shifter to come clean. "Can I, um, can I come along?" He asked, frowning at the weakness behind his own question.

He didn't answer right away, allowing the wolf to wallow in self doubt as Edward crossed his arms over his chest. "I don't know, why don't you tell me why you need to see my daughter first," he requested simply, sternly. After all, it was his right to know. It was his daughter in the end and he had the right to know if Jacob had imprinted on her, and he deserved to hear it from the shifter himself.

The younger blanched, the look alien on his normally tanned skin. His gaze flickered around in a nervous fashion and he didn't look like he wanted to answer, but he knew he had to. He sighed heavily and steeled himself. He looked at the vampire, meeting his stern gaze. "I imprinted on her, right after she was born. I didn't say anything because, well…" His voice died at that and his throat constricted. Edward saw the teenager's pain and he realized it. He wasn't the only one hurting, he wasn't the only one suffering. He had lost his wife and Jacob had lost his best friend.

"I understand," Edward cut in quickly so Jacob wouldn't have to finish his emotionally painful sentence. "But I don't understand why she had to be the one to clue me in on it. You're a man, aren't you? You can't stand up to me and say you're bound to my daughter?"

Edward had to hand it to the shifter, Jacob had the decency to look a little ashamed of what he had done. It didn't last however. "You've got a lot going on, I didn't want to add more to it," Jacob countered easily, confidently.

The vampire, however, didn't buy it. He snorted softly. "Like that's ever stopped you before. Please, spare me the bull," Edward replied, rolling his eyes as he motioned for Jacob to move out of the door way so he could pass through. "I don't care if you explain yourself or not. I know now and that's all that matters. Though I suggest you learn not to keep something like that from me again if you want to continue seeing her."

He motioned for Jacob to follow him, deciding to allow the younger to accompany him to his parents' house to see Renesmee. "It's been hard on her; Bella's death and, I think…you're helping you her in your own way. I don't want to take that away from Renesmee, but I don't want to be lied to either." He stopped, turning to face the larger shifter. "I'm still her father, damnit. Even if you are supposed to be her soul mate."

For a moment the shifter was completely stunned to silence, but as Edward expected him to, Jacob recovered quickly. "I don't know what you're thinking, Edward, but I'm not taking her away from you. I need to be a part of her life, but I don't want to force you out of her life either…"

Edward didn't say anything. He couldn't because it was like Jacob understood what he was going through. Jacob knew that he couldn't let go of Renesmee because of Bella, and the shifter was alright with that. He actually cared. That was probably the most shocking thing of all. Jacob, somehow, actually cared about his wellbeing.

In that moment, his opinion of the shifter changed. He was no longer the angst-ridden teenager who had loved his wife, Jacob was a man that cared about how he was handling his wife's loss. Edward realized that they both were still hurting, still mourning, still trying to find a way to move on from Bella…and they both found Renesmee to be the key.


Two Months Later


She stood before him with her arms extended and her hands making the 'grabby' motion that silently stated her desire to be picked up. She looked to be a moment away from stomping her foot. Jacob could hardly contain his laughter as he bent down, lifting her into his arms before her palm came to rest on his cheek. She projected her thoughts into his mind, one standing out stronger than all the others: the image of a bed, her toddler bed. Jacob's lips curled into a grin as he started towards the little girl's room. "So you're actually going to give in today and take your nap?" He asked, a note of playfulness in his voice as the girl repaid him with a pout.

I'm tired. Bad dream.

His face fell a little at the admission. He didn't have to ask about the dream to know that it was about Bella's death and her birth. "Do you want me to stay with you until you fall asleep?" Jacob asked softly as he entered her room, setting her on the floor so he could pull out some comfortable clothes for her to sleep in. "Nessie?"

"Daddy," the little girl answered plainly, simply as Jacob retrieved the change of clothes. The wolf looked over his shoulder, heaving a soft sigh. Edward had gone hunting with his brothers, which was largely why he was with the girl. Normally the vampire handled Renesmee's lunch and naptime, and then Jacob visited in the evenings to spend time with her.

"He's hunting," Jacob explained simply, beckoning the girl over so he could change her. "He'll be back by the time you wake up from your nap, but that's only if you go to sleep like a good girl."

The girl heaved a deep, dramatic sigh and stomped her foot before crossing her arms over her chest. "I. Want. Daddy!" Renesmee repeated, stomping her foot again before her gaze locked with Jacob's and that's when Jacob knew he was in for a fight. Renesmee was as stubborn as her late mother.

Jacob was hardly equipped to deal with her when she was in a fighting mood. It was just natural for him to give into her every whim and desire. However, he found himself struggling against the urge to do so. "Now, Ness…" He started softly, soothingly, though sternly at the same time. "…your daddy will be home soon and I'm sure he'd like to see you well rested when he came back from hunting."

Another sigh left the toddler, and then her bottom lip started to tremble and for one terrifying second Jacob thought Renesmee was about to start crying. He knew he'd run off into the forest and drag Edward back to his little cottage if the first tear fell from those chocolate eyes, but luckily, the girl seemed to calm herself. "Alright. Naptime now, daddy later," she conceded.

The shifter let out a sigh of relief, silently thanking whatever had made her change her mind before he beckoned the girl over to change her clothes and then finally settle down for her nap.

x x x

Renesmee had been asleep for the better part of an hour when Edward finally returned from his afternoon hunting trip. All traces of the hunt had been erased from Edward's person, though that was unsurprising; Nessie didn't really care to see her father in an 'after the hunt' state. Jacob assumed that Edward had a shower and a change of clothes waiting for him at the main house after he and his brothers had finished up for the day. His assumption was confirmed when he watched a bead of water slid down the vampire's defined jaw line.

"Didn't your mother ever teach you not to assume?" Edward asked tiredly as he walked through the living room and into the kitchen, probably to put away the replenished blood bags kept around for Renesmee's meals.

Jacob hummed softly at that, looking at the retreating vampire's form over the back of the couch. "Mm, nope. She died when I was young." He tried to keep the amused grin from his face when Edward flinched in response, and then he fought not to chuckle when the vampire looked over his shoulder and offered him a sheepish apology. "It's alright. You didn't know and it's not something I think about."

Edward sighed and turned back to the refrigerator. "But still, you'd think I'd have a little more tact…" he muttered, though Jacob caught it easily. The shifter frowned at that, not understanding why Edward would be upset over something he didn't know. "It's Renesmee," the vampire pointed out, finally closing the fridge before looking into the living room at Jacob.

"She's still having trouble coping with Bella's death, and…" Edward stopped, and Jacob was sure he'd be tearing up if he was still capable of crying. "And, sometimes, I unintentionally remind Renesmee of her. It's just hard not to think about Bella when I'm around her because she looks so much like her mother, and I think she doesn't like being reminded of or compared to Bella."

Edward fell silent, but Jacob didn't think he was quite finished speaking. Honestly he was surprised that Edward was even saying this to him. They had been cordial for Renesmee's sake since Edward had confronted him about the imprint, but this outpour of emotion suggested that they were now willingly getting along rather than simply putting up with each other for the girl's benefit.

"She still dreams after her birth, Jacob, and I know she still blames herself. I try so hard not to grieve in front of her so she won't feel guilty," Edward continued on softly. "I try to tell her it's not her fault, but she just looks at me with these sad, sad eyes…and, then…that's when I call you. You're the only person that can get her mind off of Bella and make her smile again."

In that moment, Jacob saw a side of Edward he never thought he'd be allowed to see; he saw vulnerability shining in the vampire's eyes. Something about the way Edward looked tugged at his heart, he felt the urge to cry rise up within him and Jacob had to force it back. The vampire looked so lost, so heartbroken

He wanted to fix it, and the sudden need to pick up the pieces of Edward's broken heart and mend it was such a shock to the young shape shifter. Jacob looked away, heat rising in his face as he pushed himself off of the couch. Bella had barely be dead for two months, and he had imprinted on Renesmee…he ought not to be wanting to piece together a broken heart that was not his to piece together. He was confused and terrified, though he could not explain the terror that he felt.

The only thing he was sure about was the need to get out of there. "I need to go," Jacob murmured softly, turning for the front door, grateful that Edward didn't try to stop him, but then again, the vampire was probably just as shocked as he was. After all, Edward was a mind reader and there was little doubt he was privy to the inner realization and turmoil Jacob had just discovered.


It had been three days since Jacob had ran out of the house in a panicked rush, his mind a flurry of conflicting emotions that not only confused the shifter, but Edward as well. He wasn't entirely sure what had transpired that night, but he could sense that something between them was suddenly different. He wasn't entirely sure what had changed between them, but he was sure it was the reason Jacob avoided them.

"Daddy?"

Edward glanced at his daughter over his shoulder as he prepared her dinner (for once she had actually requested human food rather than blood). He steeled himself for her question because he knew she was going to ask about Jacob's whereabouts. "Yes, Ness?"

"Where's Jake?"

A soft sigh left the vampire's lips at the question; one he had heard repeatedly for the past three days and like before, he was no closer to having a legitimate answer to give to his daughter concerning the mutt's whereabouts. He was simply at his wit's end, and just hours away from hunting down the dog to drag him back to Renesmee. "He's busy, love. I'm sure he'll come to see you as soon as he can."

The little girl did not look convinced, and Edward couldn't find it within himself to blame her. He was running out of excuses to give her since 'I don't know' didn't cut it for her. "Daddy, take me to Jake!" She demanded, her lower lip stuck out in a pout.

If he had been a weaker man, he might've given into her demands, but as the case was…he wouldn't budge. "No, ma'am. He'll come when he's ready and not a moment before. Have a little patience Renesmee," Edward gently scolded, giving his child a stern look before he turned back to the chicken he had begun cutting into bite sized pieces for the chicken nuggets Nessie had requested.

Renesmee heaved a heavy sigh and rested her cheek against her fisted palm. "But don't you miss Jake, daddy?" She asked in a small voice, looking up at her with those big brown eyes that reminded him so much of his late wife, except now, he could think about Bella without hurting.

He gave pause at the question, slightly startled by it, but he was careful not to show his shock. The vampire did not answer right away. He mulled over the question instead as his daughter watched him with wise eyes. Edward couldn't bring himself to admit that he missed the shifter, but he could say that he felt a significant difference in the house when Jacob was not present. But to say that he missed Jacob…

He didn't think it went that far.

Missing the younger man would imply that Edward actually liked having Jacob around, that he enjoyed his company…and he wasn't sure he could say that with the unwavering certainty that he knew his little girl expected from him. So, no, he didn't miss Jacob, but…he missed having him around?

Another soft, heaving sigh left Renesmee. "Daddy," she started out loud, pinning him with her chocolate brown eyes. If you're thinking about it this hard, then the answer's obvious

He frowned at his daughter, because he didn't think so. It was complicated, at best. "You don't understand, Renesmee. You're too little." The girl, obviously, did not like that. While she had the physical appearance of a toddler at her two month birthday, she had a mind far beyond her years. She could comprehend things that no child ought to be able to.

"You don't see yourself…" She insisted quite plainly, her mind filling with images of a sullen-faced Edward watching her Jacob leave for the night, and more still of how happy her daddy looked when Jacob was around them.

Edward was shocked to see what he saw in Nessie's mind. He could hardly believe that those were real memories the little girl held of him, but they were. That's one thing Renesmee Cullen would not do; she would not lie. Not to her Daddy and not to her Jacob. You miss him, she added in a final tone, the statement not leaving her thoughts, but Edward heard it as though it was his own.

"I…I miss him…" Edward finally conceded, leaning heavily against the countertop.

x x x

It had been a long, hard three days full of confusion and awkwardness, so much so that he had resisted his natural urge to see and spend time with his imprint. To say that he missed Renesmee would've been a gross understatement. It felt like someone had cut off his arm while he was asleep and he had woken up with a piece of himself literally missing. But she wasn't the only one he missed; he missed her father. On a lesser degree, but the feeling still had a profound effect on him.

It disturbed him; that and the sudden thought he had concerning his muted desire to repair Edward's broken heart. He had spent the better part of the last three days trying to forget, and then ignore that desire when he could not forget it. When he realized that he could not ignore it, he tried to understand why it was plaguing him, but the answer would not come and he was through tormenting himself over it. He needed to see Nessie, maybe then he'd be able to figure out why piecing together the vampire was so important to him.

With that thought in his mind and the desire to see Renesmee weighing heavily on him, he pushed himself out of bed and grabbed his car keys. He didn't bother to leave a note as he left the house. He knew his father would not care that he had gone to the Cullens. He got into his car and started it. As he pulled out of his driveway he got the overwhelming feeling that he was walking into something that would irrevocably change his life forever.

He did not care to think on the feeling that had suddenly welled within him. There was simply no explanation for it. He wouldn't bother himself with trying to figure out what it could possibly mean. He had already spent three days away from his imprint because he was trying to figure out feelings he couldn't understand. Jacob wouldn't allow his thoughts to prevent him from seeing Renesmee again; whatever that sudden, overwhelming feeling meant it could wait until after he had seen his imprint.

and her father, Jacob added silently as he turned down the dirt road that led to the Cullen's house, the slightest of flushes touching his cheek at his private admission. Okay, so maybe he did miss Edward…

x x x

Edward heard the car pull into his driveway as he had so many times in the past two months that he had lost count. For one terrible moment, Edward thought it was another figment of his imagination summoned by an unseen force to torture and tease him, but then the wolf's heady aroma hit him. It was then, precisely at that moment, that he knew Jacob had returned to them.

The vampire turned away from the countertop and started for the living room with the intent to inform his daughter of their impeding guest, but before he even reached the room he heard a whoop of joy and the pattering of little feet to the front door. "Papa Jake! Papa Jake!" Renesmee cried out in obvious joy as she threw herself at the shifter.

Papa…?

The word slid through his mind like butter, leaving him to wonder as Jacob knelt down to give the little girl a proper hug. How long had Jacob been 'Papa' to his daughter and why did the simple word send a shiver of fear down his spine? He would've said it was a mistake, a slip of the tongue, but he knew it was not. Renesmee did not make those kinds of mistakes. She meant what she said, always.

"Renesmee…?" Edward started softly, a bit unsurely because he wasn't sure he wanted to hear the answer to the question he was about to ask. "Why did you call Jacob, Papa?"

Big, brown eyes looked up at him. They shined with the innocence of youth, but there was a wisdom there that was not often seen in children Nessie's physical age. She untangled herself from Jacob's embrace, only keeping hold of his hand as she took a step towards Edward. Her other hand extended for him to take.

He hesitated, but only for a moment. He stepped forward and knelt down as well. Before he took his daughter's hand, he glanced over her head at the younger man. Their eyes met for a moment and Edward started at the feelings that jumped within him. Finally, he took Renesmee's hand.

Memories flashed through his mind: pictures, images, and sounds that were not his own. They were Renesmee's and she was showing him flashes of himself and Jacob. Perfectly domestic scenes of cleaning the house, cooking dinner, washing dishes and playing with Renesmee—they looked so happy together. So happy and so natural.

Someone gasped, but he wasn't sure who was responsible for the soft sound. He was so lost to the memories of his child that he could've done it and not realized. In Renesmee's eyes, he realized, they were a family. He was Daddy and Jacob was…Papa. Edward choked on the realization, but it did not deter Renesmee.

She wasn't finished yet.

x

"Thanks for helping me tonight…" His voice was soft, hardly above a whisper, but it was because he had just laid Renesmee down. Edward remembered that night, it was just last week. Just before Jacob disappeared.

Jacob lips curled into a smile. A beautiful smile that lit up his whole face. Edward remembered the way it made his still heart seemingly race in excitement because he knew, somehow he knew, that smile was meant for him. "Hey, it's not problem. You know I don't mind helping you out."

Edward had smiled as well, but it wasn't in reply to Jacob's statement. No, it was because Jacob's smile and presence was simply infectious. "Still…it merits a 'thank you'…" There was a pause, an elongated pause between the two men before Edward spoke again. "…I don't know where I'd be without you."

That had been the first night he unconsciously admitted that he needed Jacob. He needed the younger man in his life. And, now, he was beginning to think he needed him for more than just the extra help around the house.

"I'm sure you'd manage just fine," Jacob murmured softly and a bit awkwardly as he glanced away for a moment. His cheeks were flushed by the time he looked back and Edward remembered not being able to resist the urge to touch those red cheeks.

He lifted his hand and his fingers brushed across Jacob's smooth skin; he remembered the shock of heat as though he were still touching the younger man. He realized suddenly that he wanted to touch him again. He wanted that heat.

x

That was when Nessie pulled her hands from theirs, the movement causing Edward's eyes to flutter open. He was stunned to silence. He was every bit as silent as Jacob. Both men shocked. Both of them process what they had seen in Nessie's memory.

"That's why I call him Papa," she said with such conviction as she left them, walking the short distance to the coffee table where her crayons and coloring books were laid out. She picked up a bright pink crayon and began to color a page, not paying the adults anymore mind. It was as though she knew they had a lot to deal with now that they had seen her reasoning.

x x x

Jacob wanted to say so many things in that moment, but the words were lost to him. Everything he had meant to say had gone in light of what Nessie had shared with them. He had seen his relationship with Edward from an outsider's view. He had been shown, not only how much he meant to Renesmee or the 'family until', but how much he meant to Edward.

Whatever was there, whatever he had felt…

It was more than he ever thought possible or stopped to consider. That alone was enough to shock him. He swallowed nervously and finally, finally allowed his gaze to turn to Edward. He was met with equally shocked golden eyes and he knew, he knew he wasn't the only one confused or scared by what he had seen.

What do we do now?

Edward looked just as clueless and as lost as he felt. The tension grew between them; a nervous, suffocating tension that he tried to break by speaking—"I…"—but, failed. He sat back on his haunches and ran a shaky hand through his hair.

What do we do? What do I do? What can I do?

"You stay. Don't run away. Face this, whatever it is," Edward murmured softly. He sounded unsure, but there was a certain determination in his voice. "Renesmee needs you. This family needs you…" He paused for a long moment, swallowing before continuing. "I need you."

A warmth, unlike anything he had ever felt before, rose within him; it made him shake and shiver, it scared him, but encouraged him. This time, though, he thought he knew what this warmth was. It was the same warmth he got whenever Bella smiled at him, it was the same thing he felt when Bella had kissed him on that mountain top…

…it was, dare he even say it? Dare he admit to it? Could he admit to it?

Edward's gaze grew uncertain, fearful, and just the slightest bit hopeful. Jacob nearly jumped at the chance to spill his guts and confess to the warm that was still filling him, but he resisted the urge. This was a big thing to feel, to admit too so soon after Bella's death. "I'll stay," he murmured softly, promising only because he knew that with time, he'd find the courage he needed to say what he was feeling.

Relief was the only word Jacob could use to describe the look that came over Edward's features. It was as though some profound weight was lifted from his shoulders, and that finally things could move on. Jacob was speechless at the way it transformed Edward. He wasn't sullen, or depressed looking anymore. He smiled and he actually looked happy.

"I am happy," Edward admitted softly, reaching for Jacob's hand.

As their fingers laced together, Jacob got the sense that he was the one responsible for Edward's happiness, and what's more…he had a feeling that he'd be responsible for a lot more of it in the future.