Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight
Chapter Eighteen: The Sun
I gripped Edward's wrist so tightly he grunted in pain. "Is it the pack? They've come for me?"
Edward's eyes searched the tree line. "I don't know. Alice," he said, turning urgently to his sister. "Where are the others?"
Others? I realized suddenly that I couldn't smell Carlisle, Esme, Emmett or Rosalie. Alice's expression was miserable and panicked.
"I saw Bella was feeling sick, so I sent them away so she could have some time to recover. They left for town," she explained.
Jasper hissed suddenly.
Through the snow covered trees in the distance I could barely make out the form of a very large wolf. My eyes flickered to the space around him, but I could not make out any other wolves.
"Edward? Who is it?" Jasper asked, tense.
"I can't hear his thoughts," Edward replied just as stiffly, angling himself so his body was in front of mine. "Whoever it is, he's out of my range."
I wanted to shove him aside and stand beside him, but my headache was still fierce, and I wouldn't be able to concentrate enough to fight and protect him.
I still couldn't see any more wolves.
"Is it Jacob?" Alice asked. I automatically tensed when Alice said his name.
"It better not be," Edward growled.
"It couldn't be," I said suddenly, miserably. "I would have recognized his howl. I don't know who that was."
"It has to be the pack," Jasper said, moving closer to his mate. "But where are the others?"
"They could be surrounding us," Edward mused, his eyes trained on the wolf in the distance, who still had not moved.
My shield! I thought suddenly. I could use it to protect us! But just thinking of my little marble of power sent painful pulses through my brain.
"We can't fight off the entire pack," Jasper said. "We'll have to run for it. If we can outrun them to the coast, we should be alright."
"What about Carlisle and the others?" I asked worriedly. "They could double back for them."
"We can call them on the way," Jasper replied as we readied our bodies to flee. Edward grasped my hand tightly as I wondered how I would keep up with my head throbbing in pain and the world tilting dizzyingly beneath me.
"Look!" Alice said suddenly.
The lone wolf was moving towards us, slowly and cautiously. There was too much foliage in the forest to make out his color. Was it Sam, keeping our attention on him while the others circled around to trap us and tear us apart?
"We need to move, now," said Jasper.
The wolf stopped as Edward growled threateningly. It shuddered and twisted, standing up on his hind legs as his body shrunk and changed. We froze in bewilderment.
"What is he doing?" I asked and received no answer.
No one understood why a wolf from the pack would phase in the middle of an attack. It would make them too vulnerable.
The werewolf, now in human form, strode through the trees in a familiar gate. He stepped away from the line of trees, and the sun lit up his tan skin and shone in his inky black hair. I could smell him now, and hear his faint breathing. Edward gasped suddenly, then tilted his head, confused, but pleased.
"Edward?" Jasper asked, his eyes darting between his brother and the figure that was heading towards us. He raised his hands in a non-threatening manner as he drew closer, and then I could make out who it was.
"Seth!" I gasped. I felt a rush of joy at seeing my old friend, which was suddenly dampened by my confusion and suspicion. Why would Sam send out the youngest of the pack, who looked so vulnerable out in the open? Was it to lull us into a false sense of security? Did he know that we could never hurt Seth, who we still thought of as a friend? Was he moving in now, while we were distracted?
"Stay where you are!" Jasper called out, obviously sharing my suspicions.
Seth froze where he was, his hands still up in a placating manner.
"He's alone," Edward said, his posture relaxing. "He doesn't want to fight."
"I come in peace!" Seth called back, a cheesy grin lighting up his face. "I promise!"
I relaxed, confused but pleased to see him. Seth jogged up to us, and I couldn't help but match his infectious smile. He didn't seem to mind the freezing snow, despite being clad only in shorts.
"Edward, hey," Seth shook his hand.
"Seth," Edward nodded and smiled back. "What are you doing here?"
Jasper was the only one who remained tense. "Where is the rest of your pack?"
"Back at the rez," Seth replied, his smile dropping as his eyes finally met mine.
Shame hit me like a wave, and my smile fell as fast as his had. I realized painfully that he knew that I had killed Charlie, had drained his life away and fled, that I had attacked Jacob twice and nearly killed him as well. I froze, unsure of his reaction to me.
"Hey Bella," Seth said, uncharacteristically quiet.
"Hi Seth," I replied.
"Why don't we go inside and talk?" Alice offered.
We headed for the living room, and I remained close to Edward, wanting to feel his comforting presence close to me. I felt horribly afraid and sick to my stomach, and my headache would not go away. I couldn't bear the thought of sweet, kind Seth hating me.
"Why are you here?" Jasper demanded.
Seth scratched the back of his head. "Well…" his eyes met mine and quickly looked away. He swallowed, took a breath, then said very quickly. "I came looking for Jacob."
"What?" I croaked.
Seth stared at his feet and wrung his large hands. He had grown since I had last seen him. "He took off with some of…Chief Swan's things. Said he had to make things right. He never came back."
Never came back? But I had let him go. Where had Jacob gone if not back to the reservation?
Seth mistook our silence and his face morphed into a pained grimace. "Oh. I thought he-well, Sam was sure that-but he said we couldn't follow him—that he was going to get himself killed—but I thought—"
"Seth, Bella didn't kill Jacob," Edward interrupted his wild ramblings.
"She didn't-?" Seth finally looked up.
"No," Edward said firmly. "He dropped off her things and left. We thought he went home."
"Oh," Seth relaxed. "Oh that's good. I mean, I knew she couldn't, I mean, that she wouldn't-"
"Why don't you start over?" Alice suggested.
Seth relaxed, which I knew had to be Jasper's doing, and he began to tell his story. "After…what happened," his eyes flickered sadly towards me, and I suppressed a flinch. "Sam ordered us to-to kill you if any of you came back. He wanted to follow you, hunt you down, but he didn't want to risk leaving the reservation unprotected. I've never seen him so angry."
Edward's hand squeezed mine, and I realized I was holding my breath.
"Jake was a mess. He got some stuff from Renee and wanted to come up here," Seth continued sadly. "Sam ordered him to stop, but…I've never seen anything like it. When the alpha gives you an order, you have to obey it, but Jake…he refused. We couldn't hear his thoughts anymore, and he left the pack on his own. Sam was furious, but said if he wanted to get himself killed, then we wouldn't stop him."
"I was scared," he admitted. "I thought Jake coming here was a bad idea. I didn't want him to get hurt, and I knew he wasn't thinking clearly.
"When I went home, I was thinking a lot about everything that happened. I didn't want to leave the pack, but I just couldn't deal with Sam's orders. I mean, if you had come back, I would've had to…" Seth grimaced. "I wanted to follow Jacob, to make sure he was ok, so I decided to leave Sam's pack and join his."
"What?" Alice asked. "You can do that?"
"Well, since Jacob broke off, became his own alpha, I figured that if I chose to follow him, I would break off from Sam too," Seth shrugged. "And it worked. I couldn't hear their thoughts anymore, and I was able to follow him. But then I still couldn't hear Jacob, and I thought that maybe…"
"That I had killed him?" I asked dully.
Seth looked at me, and I was startled at the amount of emotion in his eyes.
"You still can't hear Jacob's thoughts?" Jasper clarified.
Seth shook his head. "I thought it was because…you know, he was gone. But now I think that he just has to be really far away, like he was before your wedding."
"If you thought Bella had killed Jacob, why did you still come here?" Jasper wondered aloud.
"Because I had to know for sure," Seth answered, leaning back in his chair. Then he grinned. "And I kinda missed you guys."
Edward grinned. Despite Seth's words and attitude, he still had barely spoken a word to me, and only looked at me with sadness in his eyes. I couldn't think of anything to say to him, and uncertainty tightened my stomach. Then an enormous grumbling sound emerged from Seth's stomach. He flushed embarrassedly. "Er-guess I haven't eaten in awhile."
"I'll get you something," Alice offered, heading to the kitchen.
"You guys still have food?" Seth looked at me in surprise. "Even though none of you can eat?"
"Appearances," Edward shrugged.
Alice reappeared with a large stack of sandwiches, which Seth hungrily dove into. "Shnks," he said with a mouthful of food bulging in his cheeks.
"Where's everybody else?" he asked once he had swallowed.
"In town," Jasper answered him. Then he shook his head. "I still can't believe you came here on your own, especially if you thought we had killed Jacob."
I felt a surge of warmth towards Jasper, who had thoughtfully said "we" instead of "Bella".
Seth shrugged and swallowed another sandwich, and Edward smirked at him. "Seth has always been too trusting for his own good."
"Or too smart," Seth grinned and waggled his eyebrows. I would have laughed if I hadn't felt so nervous about his reaction to me. His sandwiches were gone within minutes. Then, as if he suddenly realized he was only wearing shorts, grimaced and asked, "Uh, you guys don't have a spare shirt or something, do you?"
Edward chuckled and rose from his spot beside me. I instantly felt colder, but within seconds he had returned, a pale gray t-shirt in his hands, which he tossed to Seth.
"Thanks," Seth replied and pulled it over his head. He heaved a satisfied sigh, patting his stomach, and then he looked at me.
"Er…Bella? Could I maybe talk to you? Alone?" Seth asked, looking nervous but determined.
Oh no, I thought. This is it. This is the part where he tells me that we aren't friends anymore, that he couldn't be friends with a red eyed monster who had killed her own father. I looked to Edward desperately, hoping he wouldn't let me face that by myself, but he was looking at Seth thoughtfully. He nodded.
"Bella, why don't you take Seth to the clearing where you were getting lessons from Jasper?" he suggested.
My heart sank, and I stood and nodded, nervously rubbing my hands on my jeans.
"Be right back," Seth said to the others as he followed me out the door. He remained a pace behind me and stayed silent as I led him through the snow. My footsteps were light and silent, while his heavy feet crunched loudly behind me.
My mind raced with things to say to him, apologies, excuses, but nothing sounded right. Seth and I had never been close, but I considered him a friend, so much like a playful, pestering younger brother, who I had immediately liked the moment I met him. Seth saw the best in everyone. How could I deal with his rejection?
All too soon, we had reached the blindingly white clearing, and I perched myself on a snow covered boulder. There was a moment of awkward silence, which I had to break.
"Are you sure the cold doesn't bother you?" I blurted.
Seth grinned. "Nah. It just feels nice, like a cold breeze or something, you know?"
I nodded. The cold didn't bother me either.
Oh God, here it comes. I braced myself, stiffening.
"I didn't just come here to find out what happened to Jake," he admitted. "I also came up here to tell you that Sam is wrong. What happened wasn't your fault."
"What?" I blinked stupidly.
His face was sincere, and I was struck by how his eyes had dropped their childish, playful look and were replaced by a wisdom that was beyond his years. "Sam and the others, they blame you for the Chief's death. But I know better, I always have. Jake was wrong to bring your dad there. He knew what newborns were like. We all did."
I grimaced, and Seth continued.
"You did what your instincts told you to do, you couldn't help that," Seth shrugged and stuck his hands in his pockets. "I'm sorry for what happened to your dad."
I nodded, emotions closing off my throat and making it hard to speak.
"And even if you had…killed Jake," Seth winced. "I wouldn't blame you. I mean, I care about him. He's like my brother. And I would miss him, a lot. But he messed up, big time, and you were the one who got hurt. And I'm really sorry for everything that's happened to you. You dont deserve that."
I leapt from my seat and pulled him into a tight embrace. He grunted in surprise, then wrapped his arms around me. Heat radiated from his body, made even more intense by my icy skin. I had been wrong. Jacob wasn't the sun. Seth was. Pure and loving and warm, his kindness melted everything he touched.
"Thank you," I whispered.
I couldn't see his face, but I knew he was smiling.
A/N: Tada! Another update, pretty soon after the last one, huh? Aren't you proud of me? :) Were you surprised by Seth's visit? Or at his reaction to Bella? I hope I got his character right. As you all know, I adore reviews, even when I don't deserve them. Thanks to all of you who are still following this story and letting me know you still like it and have forgiven me for making you wait so long. And of course, welcome to all of you new readers! I will try to have the next chapter up soon, and trust me, you will not want to miss it! Thanks again everybody.