Disclaimer: SM owns all, I'm just borrowing.

An: I've posted this once before, but it was during one of the many, infamous Fanfiction fails, so I am reposting in hopes that more people are able to read it.

This was originally written for the Fandom Against Domestic Violence fundraiser. As a person who is from a home that was filled with both physical and verbal violence, I thank anyone who contributed. I hope you enjoy this one-shot, it's written a little different than most my other stuff. You can find out more about FADV by going to this website: .com/

Beta'd by Buff82 and pre-read by GinnMeadows. Lyrics are from the song, "Those Nights" by Skillet.

"I remember when we used to laugh

About nothing at all, it was better than going mad

From trying to solve all the problems

We're going through, forget 'em all

'Cause on these nights we would stand and never fall

Together we'd face it all, remember when we'd

Stay up late and we'd talk all night

In a dark room lit by the TV light

Through all the hard times in my life

Those nights kept me alive."

Those Nights

"Mom, have you seen my sweater?" I yell from my bedroom, tossing clothes around the room haphazardly in an effort to find my favorite blue sweater. I know it is Edward's favorite on me, and since tonight is our first official date, I want to wear it.

"Mom!" I yell again, trampling down the stairs in a rush and marching my way to the laundry room like I'm on a mission. Then again, I am on a mission, to find that damned shirt.

My little brother, Riley, is standing in the doorway to the kitchen, and I shove him aside, continuing on my way. That's what little brothers are there for anyway, they give you someone to push around, right?

I mean, it's like my job as the older sister to treat him like crap, and it's his job to be the annoying-as-heck younger sibling. We each know our place in the family dynamic, why try to change it?

My mother, Renee, is in the laundry room, missing blue sweater in hand, and frowning at me. "Bella, you really shouldn't push your brother around. One day he might just be your best friend," she explains with the wise words only a mother would know.

I snort, "Unlikely."

She shakes her head, a smile on her face, and I gratefully take the offending shirt from her, racing back up the stairs to my bedroom in order to finish getting ready. Edward Cullen is picking me up in exactly forty-five minutes, and I will not make us late.

Sighing dreamily as I think of Edward, I recall how we met at the beginning of Sophomore year when he'd first started at Forks High School. His family had recently moved from Chicago, and his father had taken over as hospital administrator in town. Lucky me, his locker happened to be right next to mine, and I'd swooned and nearly smacked my face off my locker door just from the sight of him.

He was beautiful, and not just your average kind of beautiful either. I'm talking other-worldly, god-like beautiful with long legs, wild locks that have the permanent look of disarray, and eyes as green as grass. And when he smiles … oh my God, his smile. It's not even a real smile, just more of a smirk, a beautiful, lickable, edible … focus, Bella, focus.

We started out like any other couple, as friends, more due to the fact that I wasn't allowed to date until I turned sixteen – an event that happened just four days ago. Edward had been invited out with us, and we celebrated at The Lodge, the nicest restaurant Fork has to offer. It was there he asked my father, Charlie, if he could take me out tonight.

Our First Date.

I squeal internally, not taking the chance that Riley might be lurking outside my door with this "spy gear" again, recording my every sound. The kid was stealthy like that, and I'd learned my lesson after he had snuck up and recorded me singing along to The Backstreet Boys last year.

Humiliating.

Checking myself over in the mirror one last time, I was satisfied that I looked ok – hair curled and down? Check. Make-up? Check. Blue sweater with push-up bra? Check. Purse and wallet? Check, check.

Someone knocking on the front door catches my attention, and a large smile spreads across my lips. I smooth my hands down the front of my shirt, and quickly – yet, carefully – head downstairs, not wanting to appear over-eager; though that's exactly what I am.

The smile slips off my face, however, when instead of the god-like Edward I am expecting, I see a short, dark-haired, dark-skinned boy. One of Riley's friends, great. I roll my eyes and cross my arms over my chest because I'm disappointed.

But this kid doesn't seem to notice my disappointment, because he's smiling at me with this large, goofy grin, and I'm looking back at him like he has three heads. What the hell is his problem?

"Uh, Jake, why are you looking at my sister like that?" I hear Riley ask from behind him with a dumbfounded look, but Jake ignores his question, walking until he is standing directly in front of me.

He thrusts his hand out towards me, still smiling like an idiot, and introduces himself. "Hi, I'm Jake."

I glance from his face to his hand and back again. "Yeah, I know. Riley just said your name," I respond with irritation, hoping he gets the point. This kid is getting on my nerves, and I don't understand what his problem is.

Then, as if he couldn't have surprised me even more, he speaks again, and I'm left wide-eyed and jaw open.

"I'm going to marry you one day," he says, as if it's the plain and simple truth.

A melodic voice answers him before I do, "Get in line kid."

Looking over Jake's head I see Edward has arrived, and I recover from the shock of kidlet's brazen comment, my skin tingling with Edward's words instead. Somewhere nearby I hear my mom "aww" while Riley is saying "eww," but the whole situation seems surreal, so I ignore them all and let Edward lead me out the door and to his car.

At nine o'clock sharp I am walking back through the front door, my first date a success. Edward was a perfect gentleman, taking me to dinner and a movie, opening my door, pulling out my chair. I'm high on happiness, ready to go upstairs and text Angela with a full play-by-play, not sparing any detail.

My parents are still awake in the living room watching TV, and I know they've been waiting up for me. I stop to say hello, and they ask me how my night was, though I'm sure the smile on my face tells all. Renee is giving me a knowing look, and I wonder briefly if she can tell I've just had my first kiss too. If she does, she doesn't say, and I figure this is more for Charlie's sake than mine. There are some things a father just doesn't need to know when it comes to his daughter.

Excusing myself I creep quietly up the stairs in hopes of not drawing the attention of a certain brother of mine. Once inside the sanctity of my room I am able to change into the comfiest clothes I can find, my Hello Kitty pajama pants and an over-sized t-shirt that once belonged to my dad. I find my phone, and then my fingers are flying over the keys, dishing out the news of my date to my best friend.

It's later when Angie's telling me goodnight that I realize two hours have passed. Charlie and Renee have long since gone to bed; their footsteps had padded into the room across the hall at least an hour ago. I, however, am not tired in the slightest.

Deciding to watch a movie, I tiptoe out my door and towards the living room, careful not wake anyone. My curiosity is peaked, however, when the low hum of the TV can be heard as I draw closer. A shadow figure moves in the chair across the room, and I slap my hand over my mouth to keep from screaming.

His attention snaps to me at the sound, and it only takes a minute for him to recognize who I am and smile in that all-too-cocky for a thirteen-year-old kind of way.

"What are you doing here?" I hiss, wondering why the annoying boy known as Jake is still in my house.

A lazy grin replaces the cocky one as he answers me. "Riley invited me."

I roll my eyes even though I know he can't see it. "Nah, really?" I bite out sarcastically. "Where is Riley anyway?" Glancing around, my brother is nowhere in sight.

He shrugs, and turns back to the movie he is watching. "Sleeping."

"So … you just thought you'd wander the house in the middle of the night and scare the crap out of people?" Grabbing the blanket from the back of the couch I lay down on it, waiting for his answer.

"You're kinda rude," he states, and I'm slightly offended, though he's entirely right. "I wasn't wandering, I was sitting, and it's not my fault you're a scaredy-cat."

My jaw pops open for the second time that night due to something this kid has said. He's watching me with one eyebrow quirked, daring me to contradict him. And I'd like to, a whole slew of words are filtering into my mind, but my mouth isn't cooperating, so I huff and turn away from him.

"Stupid kid," I mutter under my breath.

His half-snort makes me think that I haven't said it quite as quietly as I thought.

It's quiet, too quiet, as I watch whatever it is he has playing. I don't recognize the movie, and I don't really care either. My eyelids are drifting closed, but I'm still too keyed up from the wonderful night to want to go to sleep and have it end.

"How was your date?"

The question breaks the silence, and I'm incredulous that he's asked me that after everything else he's said to me. I look over at him to find out if it's some kind of trick question, only to see that he's being sincere.

"Um, it was fine," I answer politely, too weirded out by having this conversation with my brother's friend to elaborate.

He tilts his head to the side, studying me, and I squirm a bit under his gaze. "You like him?"

I nod.

His eyes fall to his lap, his voice quiet, "I'm not a little kid, you know. You can talk to me."

The dejected sound of his words make me feel like shit; that I've somehow hurt his feelings, but there's something in the way he says this that makes me believe him. I don't doubt that I could tell him anything, and he'd never tell a soul.

So I talk. I tell him about Edward, about Angie, about school, about how scared I am to grow up because being a kid sounds so much better than being an adult. In return he tells me about his friendship with Riley, how they met over the summer at a baseball camp, and I am awed by this new perspective of my kid brother. Jacob tells me about his life in La Push, a reservation fifteen minutes away, but most of all, he tells me about his mom and how much he loves her.

Because apparently Jacob's mom is sick. Like, really sick. His voice breaks a little when he talks about how she used to be, and then how now she spends her time in a hospital bed inside their home with around the clock care.

That's when I know that his words from earlier are true, he's not a kid, because he's already experienced more than any kid should, and that ages him beyond his years. Suddenly I'm feeling like the one who's younger, and that he is the older and wise one.

And thus began the start of a beautiful friendship.

We never hung out together. I didn't call him and he didn't call me, we didn't talk if we saw each other in town, but those weekend nights when he'd spend the night with Riley were ours. We'd wait until everyone had fallen asleep and then sneak into the living room to watch a movie while we'd talk. Sometimes, as time passed, he'd come to my room and sit in my floor as we listened to music or silently read books, just liking the close presence of one another.

Edward and I continued to date; in fact we dated all the way until graduation. He never knew about my friendship with Jake, and I never mentioned it, but when it was time to decide what colleges we wanted to go to is when we both found out that our plans for the future were very, very different. A week before our High School graduation, Edward and I broke up. It was messy, there were tears, heck – there was even a ring, but I knew that following him to California for medical school wasn't for me, and he wasn't willing to try a long-distance relationship.

Jacob is over that night, comforting me as much as he knew how for a fifteen-year-old who had never dated before and knew very little about emotional, teenaged girls.

"You're too good for him," he says to me as I sniffle into my pillow, tissue in hand. I'm a snotty, blubbering mess, but he doesn't seem to care. He never has.

Riley can be heard snoring through my bedroom walls, and I've never been so grateful that my brother sleeps like a bear in hibernation.

"Really?" I ask hopefully, cursing myself for sounding the weak, little girl I am not.

He smiles cheerfully, wiping a tear from my cheek. "Really."

Such an innocent gesture has left a warm tingle on my cheek, and I am surprised by the response my body is having – butterfly knots in my stomach. This is Jacob. You've just broken up with Edward. Get ahold of yourself Bells.

I sit up, shifting myself until I'm sitting against my headboard. Jake is seated at my side; it's the first time he's ever sat on my bed. He's changed over the past two years. His hair is longer, brushing his shoulders, he's grown several inches, finally standing taller than I am, but he's still scrawny and his feet are still too big for the rest of his body.

"Thanks," I say softly, my sniffling subsiding.

Reaching out, I tentatively grasp ahold of his hand that is settled on his lap, squeezing gently. It's a bold move, we've never touched before other than the rare and occasional hug when one of us is feeling exceptionally down, but I want him to know I appreciate him being there for me.

He tenses for only a moment, eyes trained on our touching fingers. "Bella …" he trails.

Looking up at me then, something in his expression changes, too quickly for me to react. In one moment he's beside me and in the next he's moved forward and he's pressing his lips against mine. I'm stunned, frozen, and unable to respond.

But then my mind catches up with what's happening, and I pull my hand from his to place one on either shoulder and push him away firmly.

"Jake, no."

He pulls away from my touch as if he's been burned, an obvious look of rejection upon his face. It's a startling sight, because he has never looked anything but optimistic anytime I've turned down his advances, always stating the same thing, "I'm going to marry you one day."

This time is different, I can tell.

"It's not you, Jake, -" I start, but he cuts me off.

"Oh, great, the 'it's not you, it's me' speech," he snaps.

I cringe at the sound of his anger, but I don't begrudge him for it. "I just don't think of you that way. I'm eighteen, you're fifteen. We can't be together like that," I explain, unable to look him in the eye.

There's silence, and I think he's going to say something, anything, but the bed jostles as he stands, and then the door clicks shut as he leaves.

"If only you were a couple years older," I whisper out loud, admitting for the first time ever that I may feel something other than innocent friendship for my brother's best friend.

The following week I leave for college in the great city of Seattle. It was my plan all along to stay near my family in case they needed me, get my teaching degree, and then return to Forks for work. I visit often, though Jake is never there when I do.

I don't have the courage to ask Riley where he is, and there's no mention of him, so I never know. I make new friends while I'm gone; a girl named Alice makes it her mission to become my best friend, and I let her, loving her exuberant presence. Angie and I talk through the occasional email – she's gone to school in New York, far away from where I am.

There's a guy named Garrett that I date briefly, but there's something missing every time he touches me, kisses me, holds me. That spark that you always hope to find, but it never comes. Sadly, the relationship does not last, like many others I've had, and I'm not surprised, nor am I upset.

"Hey Riley," I ask one day when I'm out to dinner with him. He's been living in Seattle for six months now, sharing an off-campus apartment with me as I finish my final year of school. "What ever happened to that friend of yours, Jake?"

I try to make the question sound off-hand, random, and not like I'm thinking about a friend of his he hand in middle school and early high school.

"Jacob Black?" He questions with a furrowed brow.

Nodding as I finish chewing the bite of salad I've shoved in my mouth, I hope he answers. "Yeah, him."

"Um, I think he still lives in La Push. His mom died about two years ago, and he's been helping his Dad out with his two younger sisters. I think they're graduating this year."

My fork hits the plate half through him speaking, and my eyes are wide before I smooth out my expression. Riley wouldn't understand why this news is such a big deal to me. His mother died, and I wasn't there, is all I can think.

"Bella?"

Holding back the tears that want to slip out, I manage to keep my emotions in check. "Hmm?"

"Why do you want to know about Jacob?" My little brother is looking at me oddly, and I become uncomfortable, so I stare at my plate.

"No reason," I mumble.

He doesn't question me further, spearing a bite of pasta on his fork instead.

"Hey, remember when he used to say he was going to marry you?" He laughs. "I seriously thought you were going to kick his ass eventually."

I smile genuinely at the memory, "Yeah, I remember."

I've never forgotten, my sub-consciousness reminds me dutifully.

Returning to Forks just eight months later, after I'd graduated from Washington State University, is a lot easier than I thought it might be. I expected to find it odd living in my parent's house again, just until I can find my own place, but it's not. I feel comforted by the familiarity of my room, being there on a daily basis.

It's June, and for once the weather is nice, the rain holding out until late evening – or so the forecast says. You never know with these things. Either way, I am grateful for the warmth of the sun, and fond memories of the beach are calling to me, and I know where I want to spend my day.

Dad is at work, and Mom is out with her friends having lunch in Port Angeles. I have no idea where Riley is, so I am enjoying the time alone. It is much needed.

The sand is soft beneath my feet as I sink my toes into it, shoes forgotten on a rock nearby. I'm not the only one there; people are spread out everywhere, though it seems I am the only one alone. Tall figures in the distance catch my eye. There are several of them, men, playing Frisbee and splashing through the shallow areas of the water. I imagine it's still too cold to go any deeper.

One in particular stands out – familiar.

Without realizing, I have wandered closer to their group, and I can now make out their faces. I recognize none of them, except the one, but his back remains towards me, so I can't be sure. His shortly cropped hair is nearly black, his shirtless form toned and muscular; he is definitely no boy.

Dark, tanned skin is glistening with a fine sheen of sweat, and I know I must be ogling the poor guy. His friends notice me, and I can see them whisper to each other as I blush. Mystery man laughs then, and I am both frozen at the sound and sighing in relief.

Jacob.

He doesn't have to turn around for me to know it's him.

His body turns to face me as if he's been called, his confusion obvious, and I realize I've said his name out loud. Confusion gives way to recognition in a matter of minutes, and I've never seen him smile so big. Any worries that he may still be angry about our last encounter together wash away and are replaced with nothing but happiness and seeing his beautiful face again.

"Bella!" He shouts as he runs over to me, scooping me up in large, warm arms that wrap completely around my body because he's gotten so big.

I'm holding on for dear life, not only because he's got my feet dangling off the ground, but also because I've missed him more than I thought. Over his shoulder I can see his friends watching us, curious. He sets me back down on my feet, but I'm reluctant to let him go.

My pouting is short lived, however, because he doesn't let go; instead, he grasps me firmly by the hand and pulls me over to where the group is now standing together, their game forgotten. A wave of shyness suddenly overcomes me, and I stare at my feet as walk, my hand gripping his firmly.

His skin is warm, and I am comforted in a way I haven't been in years. This is what I've been missing, my body is telling me, and I believe it.

"Everyone, this is Bella."

It's a simple introduction, and I make a quick glance around, my face blushing furiously.

"So, this is Bella?" One boy comments, eying me speculatively, and I'm wondering if Jake has mentioned my name before. Based on the slight red tint to Jacob's russet skin, I imagine he has; the thought is somewhat thrilling, I'm happy that his friends know who I am.

I have nowhere to be, so I stay when a guy named Embry asks me to. There is no awkwardness that I am the only girl in their group now, nor am I uncomfortable with the knowledge that I am at least three years older than every one of them. The entire experience is fun, freeing, and I finally feel like I'm home.

When it's time for Jake to leave, I ask him to walk with me, just hoping for a few more minutes to spend with him. We talk about school, about work, but I don't dare ask him about his mother. I have no right.

"I'm sorry," I tell him instead when we stop beside my car. Looking into his eyes, I know he knows I'm speaking about more than just our misunderstanding all those years ago. I'm sorry for not being there for him, for not being strong enough to be what he wanted me to be.

He smiles softly, wistfully, but then it's replaced with the cocky grin that I remember. "I know."

Slapping him playfully, I unlock my car. It's time to go, but I'm still having trouble doing so.

"Are you busy tomorrow?" I ask, eyes wide and hopeful and not ashamed to show it.

Grin still in place, he shakes his head. "Nah, I'll pick you up at noon."

It doesn't surprise me that he's not even asked me if I'm free then, but instead has made the assumption and walks away before I can respond. I smile to myself, not minding at all because this is Jacob, and it's just so right.

The following day there's a knock on the front door at exactly twelve p.m., and I'm a frazzled mess of nerves. It is the first time that Jake has shown up at our house for me, and not for Riley, and a small part of me is worried what my mom will think. But then I chastise myself, because what she thinks doesn't matter; I know what I feel.

Opening the door, I am left breathless. It'll take me time getting used to seeing him again, seeing the man he's become. Lean muscles, sculpted jaw, intense, dark eyes.

"Are you ready?" He asks excitedly, and I can tell he's just as happy to see me as I am to see him.

I nodded mutely, my voice still not found.

"Oh, hi Mrs. Swan," he greets, and it's then I realize my mom is standing behind me, being the nosey person that she can sometimes be.

"Hi Jacob!" She sounds surprised, her eyes darting between the two of us. "It's been too long, what are you doing here?"

The curious glint in her eye tells me, just like all those years ago with Edward, that she knows exactly why he's here.

"Well, it seems Bella here has finally come to her senses. I'm picking her up for our first date," he answers like it's the easiest question in the world. I also notice that he's smiling like he's just won some huge prize, and my heart swells.

My mother nods with a small smile, turning away without another word. Like she knew, like she knew this would happen … could she have known? My internal mulling is interrupted by the warmth that surrounds my hand; Jake pulls me out the door.

"Come on," he chuckles. "I've waited six years for this. I don't want to waste one minute."

We climb into his beat up, old VW Rabbit, and I can't keep my eyes off him. He is so happy, it's contagious. I am in a sort of dream-like state, a bit unbelieving of what is happening. He had been that same thirteen-year-old brat who seemed so damn cocky to me when we first met. It hadn't taken me long to figure out he was just an old soul - wise beyond his years.

I grin at him, suppressing the urge to laugh. It was all quite funny. I lose the battle, and laughter spills out.

"What's so funny?" He beams down at me.

"Oh nothing, just … just …" I trail with a sigh, relaxing into my seat. We come to a stop sign, and Jacob glances at me curiously. Our eyes lock and it's there that I see it. Years of reliability, companionship, love, admiration, devotion … I see what he saw all those years ago, what must have spurred him with that strange confidence. I see our past, our future.

"What?" He tries again.

I supply him a half shrug and smirk. "Just, that I'm going to marry you one day."