A/N: I don't think it's a surprise anymore that I've churned up another o/s. They're too fun to write, especially when I get an idea that won't leave me alone. This one took it a little further, though, and literally made me stay up all night to finish it. It is not the typical fluffy romance or lemons that I usually write. Ness is a little disturbed, but I promise no violence.

I don't have much else to say other than I hope you like it. And the characters belong to Stephenie Meyer. Enjoy!


Fool's Paradise

I first met Jacob Black at the park in June of 2006. I had seen him for a while, almost every day when I went for my run or walked the neighbor's dog. I think I'd heard his name a few times, too, but it was nice to finally hear it from him that day. I introduced myself as Nessa Swan rather than Renesmee Masen, my given name. It wasn't a big change, but it was enough to let me get away from my old life.

Jacob was what many women would call the dream man. He was smart, tall, good-looking, and friendly. We became friends that day and began talking to each other every day when I'd see him on my run. He confessed to me one day that he'd seen me, too, and had just dredged up the courage to talk to me. I was glad he did, though, because I didn't know if I ever would have.

It was in December of the same year that he asked me out on a date. I was nervous; I'd never had a boyfriend before. I was a mere seventeen years old at the time. He was nineteen and considering colleges. I'd dropped out of high school but finished my GED. If my parents had cared enough to report me missing, I might have been dragged back to Arizona or put in the foster system, but as it was, I had been living my new life comfortably in Seattle, Washington for nearly a year. I made enough money to support myself by doing odd jobs and cleaning houses. Despite my hesitation, I liked Jacob a lot. I agreed, and we began dating.

Our relationship was a slow-building one that never seemed dull or stagnant. We talked and learned so much about each other. I told him the truth about my past, and he promised to love and protect me. It had seemed so odd at first to think that we had so much in common. We liked many of the same foods, movies, books, and even did some of the same things on our down time. He was better at working on computers than I was, though.

We had dated for eight full months before the relationship turned physical. The first time we made love was everything I had ever read about and more. Jacob was the perfect mixture of sweet and dominant, and he even made me orgasm. It seemed that once I'd had a taste of it, my appetite couldn't be satiated. Jacob told me he felt the same. He stayed the night with me more often than not, and I loved having him there. It was even better when I would wake up to find that he'd cooked breakfast for me. I made sure that I cooked or did special things for him as well.

It was July of 2008 that he asked me to marry him. I would have been stupid to say no. We ran into a complication, though, that stopped us from ever making it legal. In order to get married, we had to have a marriage license. To get one, we both had to have valid, legitimate identification. Jacob didn't have a birth certificate or social security card; he said they had been destroyed in a fire when he was a child. His driver's license alone was not enough for him. Myself; I didn't have any of that. Not even a driver's license. Mine had expired a few months before I met Jacob, and I never drove anywhere anyway so I hadn't felt any need to get it renewed. All of my other identification had been left in Arizona when I ran away.

We didn't give up. We had a private ceremony just between the two of us and decided that a union before God was sufficient for what we needed. We didn't need a big, fancy ordeal where fake friends and people who just wanted to be seen would attend. In the eyes of God, our souls were joined, and I was Nessa Black.

I had high hopes of starting a family a few months after we'd wed. Jacob seemed tense when I talked about children, and I asked him why. It took a few weeks of coaxing, but eventually he admitted to me that he couldn't have children. Something had happened when he was high school; an injury to his testicles during football practice had left him infertile. He was so ashamed and begged me not to leave him. I cried as I promised that I still loved him and would forever. We agreed that we would make our relationship the main focus of our lives for a while and maybe consider adopting later on down the line. I knew we wouldn't be able to adopt, though. We weren't legally married, and we wouldn't be able to provide the necessary documentation to get approved for a child. I was okay with that, as long as I could have him.

We led a good life for a long while. Jacob went to college and became a computer technician while I continued my house cleaning. We still didn't have very many friends, but neither of us cared. People would look at us strangely when we went out together, so we mostly stayed inside. Gossip about me and how I'd first come to Washington had spread around in my first few months there. People didn't think Jacob and I were right for each other. The poor girl who had to run away to escape an abusive and neglectful family did not belong with the former high school football star. I had first thought that the way people talked about me would make it difficult or even impossible to get any work, but it seemed the luxury of having someone else clean their house for them outweighed the awkwardness of it being me doing the work.

Neither of us cared what anyone said. We talked about it several times, though, because I was nervous that Jacob regretted his decision to be with me. Every single time, he'd promise that I was the reason he was still alive. I had come along at the right time to save him from crippling depression and had shown him that life wasn't all that bad after all. If I was being honest with myself, he had done the same for me. He showed me that men weren't all bad.

It was our two-year anniversary that things started to get a little weird. I went to a small market that I liked to get some groceries for our special dinner and started a conversation with the girl working at the meat counter. I told her it was my anniversary, and she asked me if I was married. As if she really didn't know. I'd been in there with Jacob before, and she'd even talked to him. I reminded her, and she gave me the same odd look that most people did when Jacob and I were together. I didn't bother continuing the conversation.

That night, Jacob said he'd had a similar experience when he bought my roses on his way home. The owner of the flower shop had acted like she had no clue he was married, let alone for two years.

It was only the beginning, though. As weeks passed, more and more people seemed to forget we'd ever been a couple. Some of them even acted like they'd never heard of a man named Jacob Black before. I got into a fight with a lady at the library one day because she told me I was crazy and my husband and I ought to be locked up. If it hadn't been for Jacob, I might have really hurt her. He seemed to know exactly what was going on, though, because he showed up and calmed me down enough to get me away from the shaking girl.

It was October 2010 that the man in a suit arrived at our apartment looking for Jacob. He was at work. The man asked to come in and speak with me. He introduced himself as Dr. Carlisle Cullen from Washington State Behavioral Health. Several people in town had contacted the Department of Mental Health and asked that he speak with Jacob and me about our relationship. I assured Dr. Cullen that our marriage was fine and that he could go. He didn't argue with me, but it wasn't the last time I'd see him.

I talked to Jacob about Dr. Cullen when he got home from work. He was a little unnerved, as was I, that the people around us thought we needed mental help. The rest of the night held an underlying tension that neither of us wanted to examine. It was just there, always lingering in the background of every single glance we gave each other.

After that visit from the doctor, I did start to notice some strain in our relationship. It wasn't anything I didn't think we'd overcome, but it was there. Jacob and I talked over the following weeks about couple's counseling as a way to make sure we stayed strong and never fell apart. We both agreed that it was a good idea, and in the first week of December, I called Dr. Cullen again.

We had our first meeting with Dr. Cullen a week after I called him. It was so awkward. He asked us both questions, but every time he spoke, his eyes were on me. He never addressed Jacob directly. It bugged me, but Jacob didn't seem bothered by it at all. When I asked him about it later that night, he said he understood why the doctor had done it that way. I think I knew what he was saying, but I didn't want to dwell on it. I was tired.

We saw Dr. Cullen once a week. The days between visits seemed to get more strange and awkward between Jacob and me.

It was the fourth visit to Dr. Cullen that changed everything. January 2011; our first visit of the new year. Dr. Cullen usually asked questions or talked to both Jacob and me about things that had happened since the last visit. This time, however, he sat on the corner of his desk and stared at the floor for a few minutes before he sighed and started to walk around.

"Nessa," he said with a quiet, resigned tone. "I have some bad news."

I looked at Jacob and swallowed thickly. I was already nervous. He was, too.

"What is it," I asked. I squeezed Jacob's hand.

"I really didn't want to do this. I wanted to ease you into this and get you to admit or acknowledge it first. I don't have much of a choice, though."

I furrowed my brow. "What are you talking about?"

Dr. Cullen went back to the corner of his desk, sitting right in front of me. "The Department of Mental Health has taken a further interest in your case. If I can't convince you to accept treatment, you will be hospitalized." He began to pace again. "I am terribly sorry about this. I've told the board that you're no threat to yourself or anyone else, but that doesn't matter."

I looked at Jacob again. He was being oddly quiet, just staring at his lap. I took a deep breath and squared my shoulders. "Please, Dr. Cullen; what is going on?"

He came and squatted down in front of me. He balanced himself with his hands on the armrest of the chair as he stared into my eyes with a desperate look in his.

"I need you to listen to me, Nessa. I need you to try to understand. Jacob is not real. You don't have a husband. It's just you and a figment of your imagination in this office with me."

It was by far the most ludicrous thing I had ever heard in my life. I closed my eyes and shook my head. "What?" I looked over at Jacob. He was still there, as real as ever. He wasn't defending our relationship, though. He just sat there, still staring at his lap. "Jacob?" He looked at me and offered a kind of a half-smile.

"Nessa, please," Dr. Cullen begged. "I need you to recognize that you need mental treatment. If you agree to let me help you, I can keep you from being hospitalized."

"This is stupid!" I cried. "I have been married for two years, Dr. Cullen. I have known my husband for nearly five years! How can you sit there and tell me that he doesn't exist?" I reached over and grabbed Jacob's arm. "Jacob, please. Help me." My eyes watered as I stared at my husband, begging him to prove to this doctor that he was real.

Dr. Cullen put his hand over mine. "I'm so sorry. You have until the end of the week before they take matters into their own hands. I won't be able to stop them if it goes that far."

It didn't make any sense. I'd had conversations with him. We'd made love. I'd shared my whole life with him.

"I have some things for you to take with you when you leave today."

I hadn't realized Dr. Cullen had gotten up. He placed on the edge of his desk a thick stack of papers and a packet that looked like some pills.

"I beg of you to think this over. You can call me with your decision or fax the top paper to me with your signature."

Jacob and I stood up. I looked at him again, my eyes trailing from his size eleven shoes to his thick black hair. He was staring at me with tears in his eyes. I sniffled and turned to the doctor.

"Why?" I asked. "Why are you doing this?"

Dr. Cullen stood in front of me and took my hands. "It is my job to help you. Believe me, I have weighed the pros and cons of both options a million times. I wondered if it would be better if you just got the help you need without the lengthy explanations. In the end, that kind of thing is for people who are dangers to themselves or society. You are not. It's not healthy, Nessa, but you're not going to hurt yourself. Please don't let them hurt you."

I sniffled and pulled my hands from his. I didn't say anything as I stepped around him and picked up the things he wanted me to take. I looked at Jacob. He nodded, and we left. I heard Dr. Cullen sigh just before the door shut.

Hours passed silently that night. Jacob and I ate dinner then watched a movie, but every single moment was fraught with a kind of sadness that I'd never felt before. Jacob turned to me on the couch when the movie was over.

"Can we talk about this?" he asked.

I shook my head. "No, we can't. He's the crazy one, Jacob."

He pulled me close, and I snuggled into his chest. "We both know that's not true."

I closed my eyes tightly as my chest began to close. "Yes it is."

I felt him shake his head as he kissed my hair. "Nessa, I love you. I love you enough to know that I can't keep you."

I pulled back and looked up at him. "I see you, Jacob." I reached up and touched his face. "I feel you. How are you not real if I can see and feel you?"

He shook his head again. "I know you know the truth."

Tears clouded my vision. I did know the truth. It had been in the background of nearly every moment of my life for the last five years. I'd chosen to ignore it, though, because Jacob was my reality. He was what I craved so much. I leaned in and kissed his lips.

"I don't want to lose you."

He nodded, and two tears fell down his cheeks. "I know, honey. Believe me, I know."

"I can't do what he asked."

"Yes you can. You can because I won't let you get hospitalized and force-fed some drug that'll render you catatonic. Do it his way, Nessa. Please."

My lips trembled. "I love you so much."

He kissed me and pulled me on top of him. "I love you, too."

We spent the next few hours making love on the couch. It felt just as real and amazing as it ever had. I didn't care what anyone said; I was in love with Jacob and my soul belonged to him. It always would.

I didn't do anything that night. The next day went as normally as ever. Jacob went to work, and I went to clean a house down the street. When I got home, Jacob was already there. He was reading over the papers Dr. Cullen had given to me. He showed me a few specific papers that explained what would happen if I had to be hospitalized. They talked about large, padded rooms, timely medicine delivery, twenty-four hour staff, and even supervised leisure time. It all depended on what one was in for. I could only imagine that I'd get the same treatment I'd always gotten around town. It wouldn't be nearly as glamorous as the papers made it sound.

After dinner, Jacob got up without a word. When he came back, he set a glass beside me with the packet of pills from Dr. Cullen.

"For me, Nessa," he said.

I pushed the pills away. "I can't."

He stopped me before I could drop them off the table. He held my hand as he leaned forward and met my eyes. "For me."

He was crying again. So was I. I got up and sat on his lap to hug him tightly. He held me just as forcefully. "Okay," I whispered. "I love you."

"I love you, too."

I stalled for a few more hours until bed time. Before I could talk myself out of it, I signed the papers saying that I took Dr. Cullen's advice and would accept treatment, then I sucked in a deep breath and popped the two little white pills out of the packet. Jacob handed me a glass of water. I swallowed the pills, then threw myself at him and cried like I had never cried before in my life.

I think Jacob took me to bed. I was still crying as I laid next to him, gripping his shirt in my fist. "I love you," I whispered between sobs. I heard him say it back to me a few times.

Eventually, exhaustion won and I fell asleep. When I woke up the next morning, Jacob had already left for work. I called Dr. Cullen to let him know what I'd decided. I felt so empty.

I met with Dr. Cullen later that day to give him the papers I'd signed. He promised to keep me out of the hospitals and nut houses, then he designed a treatment plan for me. I got a prescription for more of the white pills I'd taken the night before.

I stayed up late that night waiting for Jacob to come home from work. I knew, deep inside myself, that he wouldn't. He was gone. I curled up on the couch and cried until I passed out from fatigue when the sun began to come up.

I never did see Jacob again. Dr. Cullen thinks it's a good thing. The people around me feel safer knowing that the crazy girl with the former imaginary husband is sane once again. All I feel is empty.

~*~0~*~

Three years passed from the date my whole life got turned upside down. I slowly began to rebuild myself with the help of Dr. Cullen. I fought with him when he asked me to go back to my given name. I wouldn't be Renesmee Masen again, but I did eventually agree to be called Nessa Swan. I wanted to get out of Seattle and away from all the whispers, so Dr. Cullen referred me to a good friend of his, Dr. Jasper Whitlock in a small town called Port Angeles on the west coast. I accepted and moved to a new apartment. Dr. Whitlock was not quite as friendly as Dr. Cullen, but he had a certain charm that was witty and relatable. I liked him almost as much as I liked Dr. Cullen.

In March 2014, two months after the move, I ran into a man at the supermarket. He was tall with dark brown hair and a crooked but adorable smile. My heart nearly broke into a million pieces when he told me his name was Jake Clearwater. He looked confused when I quickly said goodbye and walked away. This could not happen to me again.

I told Dr. Whitlock about the encounter at the store. He surprised me by saying that he knew Jake Clearwater. Jake's younger brother, Seth, had been a patient of his for a few years after the death of their father, Harry.

"So he's real?" I asked, just to be sure.

Dr. Whitlock smiled widely and nodded. "He's real."

It seemed I had a lot to think about.

I was still getting used to being in a small town where everyone knew everyone else's business in a way so much more intimate than my former Seattle neighborhood. I wasn't sure that was a bad thing when everyone was so nice to me. I ran into Jake Clearwater a few more times. Once in the bookstore and once at the library. Although Dr Whitlock had said he was real, I was still hesitant to let myself get to know him. People might know my business and want to let me into their lives, but I still had a firm wall built around myself. There had been several times that I wondered which reality was actually real. Had my former life with my husband been the truth, and all this in Port Angeles with Jake Clearwater the dream?

Dr. Whitlock said it was normal to feel that way. I was nervous to put my heart on the line again. He said I shouldn't rush anything, but I should consider the consequences if I continue to live my life in solitude.

Jake Clearwater tried to talk to me on several occasions. Each time, the name would ring in my ears and make me think of my Jacob. If I let myself see it, I could admit that they looked similar. Jacob had been tall with dark hair and dark eyes as well. Jake Clearwater wasn't as charming as my Jacob had been. He was silly sometimes and stupid others, and he could be clumsy. One time I caught myself smiling a little after he tripped over his own feet at the library.

June of that year was a turning point. I had a dream one night about my Jacob. I tried to reach for him, but he pushed me away. He spoke to me, but his words were garbled. When I woke up, I finally understood. He'd told me to be happy.

I wasn't sure I could ever love another man. It didn't mean I couldn't make friends. The only two people in the world I felt I could trust enough to consider my friends were Dr. Cullen and Dr. Whitlock. I talked to and interacted with other people on a daily basis, but I didn't ever let myself care about any of them. I made something of an advanced plan with Dr. Whitlock, then I put it into action.

At the library the next day, I waited for Jake Clearwater. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Jake. Just Jake. Dr. Whitlock had told me on several occasions that I needed to stop making such a clear distinction between my Jacob and Jake Clearwater because Jake Clearwater was the real one; he was the only one I needed to worry about.

As it had happened several times in the last few months, Jake . . . Just Jake . . . he walked in with his brother behind him. They looked around for a little while, then Jake sat next to me with a book in hand. He glanced at me with his crooked smile.

I swallowed. "Hi," I said, my voice barely a squeak.

He nodded. "Hi."

I cleared my throat. "How are you?"

"Not bad; you?"

"I'm okay."

"Whatcha readin'?" He gestured to the book in my hands.

I showed him the cover. "It's, uh . . . Body of Lies. By Iris Johansen."

He nodded again. "Is it any good?"

"Yeah, actually it is. Um, what are you reading?"

He shrugged. "I don't know if it's going to be good or not." He showed me The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Steven King.

"I've read that one. I thought it was good."

His smile grew wider. "Yeah? Good to know; thanks."

I almost tried to pretend that I was going to read like I usually did. Instead, I took a deep breath and pushed myself forward. "Sure. Have you read a lot of his stuff?"

"Not really, no. I've read the basics like Pet Sematary, Carrie, and Cujo, though. They were pretty good." He tapped the book in his hands. "You like his books?"

I nodded. "Yeah, I do. I haven't read them all, but I've got quite a collection. I think The Stand was my favorite. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it."

He laughed. "I tried once. I think it's probably the longest book known to man. No way in hell I have the patience for that. I've seen the made-for-TV movie of it, though."

"It's not the same," I said, scrunching my nose.

We talked a little bit more about Stephen King and other authors while Seth looked around for things he wanted to get. When he was finished, he came back to let Jake know he was ready to go.

"Do you have any plans this afternoon?" Jake asked me.

I shook my head. "No, not really."

"You want to come grab some lunch with Seth and me?"

"Hey, yeah, good idea," Seth said happily.

I wasn't sure. It was a big step, but I was at least half certain that I was ready to take it. I took a deep breath for courage and nodded. "Yeah, I'd like that."


A/N: Thank you for reading!

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