ENTRY #89 – AU

Truly Anonymous Twilight O/S PP Contest
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Title: Happily, Tragically, Bittersweet Ever After
Picture Prompt Number: 3
Pairing: Jacob/Bella
Rating: M
Word Count (minus A/N and Header): 2927

Summary (250 characters or less, including spaces and punctuation): Far in the future Jacob and Bella are together, but past events and decisions have made their lives a shadow of what it could have been.

Warnings: angst, sex

Disclaimer: This story utilizes characters, settings, and events from the Twilight series of books by Stephenie Meyer. All recognizable and/or trademarked elements, including, but not limited to, characters, settings, events, plot points, dialogue, etcetera, are the property of their respective owners. No copyright infringement is intended. The author of this story is in no way associated with Stephenie Meyer, or any other affiliates involved with the Twilight series of books, the stories within or other media productions based on them. This story is intended for entertainment purposes only, and no profit is knowingly generated as a result of it.

A/N: This story is canon, post-Breaking Dawn

I was stirred from my thoughts — as always — by the disturbingly uncomfortable heat. The smell was more muted now — not so different from getting accustomed to the aroma of pungent food after a few hours. I felt I should be sweating, but of course my skin was perfectly smooth and perfectly dry. I slipped out of bed as gingerly as possible, taking the large comforter that divided us. He would have no need for it now.

It was still night, so I slipped into the large armchair and opened my book to the bookmarked page. Nights like these were nice. It was comforting, hearing his deep, lulling breaths, as I read and occasionally looked over at my sleeping… I still had no word for him.

His face, even after all these years, returned to that boyish expression I loved so much when he was asleep. All the hard edges disappeared when consciousness left him. It was at night, alone, watching him sleep with the same sixteen-year-old boy's face, that I was able to imagine things were different, better.

Time passed without my noticing. I had just finished the book, looking up as I closed it. Sunlight had begun to stream in through the window. It wasn't bright enough to illuminate my skin yet, but it would be soon.

I slipped out quietly and made my way to the kitchen. I put on the gloves and made pancake batter, wishing I still craved it. I would have never believed food would be up on my top ten list of things I missed.

"Hey Bells, you didn't have to make breakfast. I would have been fine with toast and cereal." He walked into the kitchen with tousled hair and pajama bottoms.

"Oh, that's okay. I still enjoy cooking, and my book was finished," I replied.

He walked over to me, gave me a quick peck on the cheek, and grabbed a fork, stabbing a sausage with it.

"These are really good. Where they from?" he asked, his words muffled by the food in his mouth.

"That little butcher shop in town. You know the one, with the old-fashioned wooden sign."

"Oh yeah, that one. Well, these are fantastic. Got to say Bells, you're missing out!" Again, his face returned to a time years past as he smiled snidely, his eyebrows wagging up and down.

"Yeah, why don't you rub it in?" I grumbled playfully.

Jacob shrugged and picked up a pancake, shoving it into his mouth. "Hey, we've got a bit of a raccoon problem if you're feeling hungry," he snickered.

I slapped him with the spatula and giggled. There was a time when I was convinced I'd ever giggle again. "Go sit down, you Neanderthal! And stop eating off the pans with your fingers!"

It was a usual morning for us. I watched him eat, and teased affectionately about his poor table manners and piggish appetite, all the while smitten by his youthful charm and underlying innocence. Neither the passage of years nor the onset of heartache had been able to totally strip these traits from him.

"Thanks, Bells," he said, as he got up and cleared the table. "That was fantastic."

I remained in my seat and listened to him load the dishwasher and rinse his sticky fingers in the kitchen sink. Soon, the temperature behind me rose as he moved closer, putting his arms around me.

"Love you," he whispered, before he bent down to kiss my cheek.

I turned my head and his lips met mine. My mouth filled with the scent of sweet maple syrup, salty sausages, and underlying wolf. It always lingered, no matter how much time we spent together.

It started as a soft, gentle kiss. His lips yielded to the shape of my stone mouth. I stood up and twisted my body around. He stood upright, reaching his full height. My legs wound around him, and his embrace grew tighter. Our lips began moving with more force and vigor. I felt his tongue touch mine, coaxing my mouth open. That's when I stopped. He knew it wouldn't end well either, as he released me, needing no prompting to do so.

It seemed ironic that I had ended up with the relationship Edward had wanted for us once, with me human. Of course, the difference was I was the vampire now, the human was Jacob, and the reason for our stunted sexuality was discomfort and pain, and if I were honest, also disgust.

That's not to say we hadn't tried, but each time it ended the same way, with both of us frustrated, guilty, and no longer wanting to be in the same room with the other.

His hands lingered on my arms, and mine lightly touched his waist. He smiled, leaned forward, kissed my forehead, and whispered, "I'm going to shower. I'm sure the stench is killing you."

"It takes more than that to kill me. Besides, I can hold my breath indefinitely. I'll wash up too. Did you want to go to the museum today?'

"Sure, sure, sounds nice." He looked over my shoulder and out the window. "I guess it's going to be sunny out. They have an indoor parking garage?" I nodded. "Okay, I'll meet you down here in twenty minutes."

This was our usual morning routine. He ate breakfast while I watched, and then we went upstairs to wash ourselves off as much as possible, in an attempt to mask what we were.

The two of us enjoyed spending time outdoors the most. It gave us a chance to be in the open air, our scents diluted. It gave us a chance to be normal. Well, at least what had become to be our normal.

Normal for us was the wolf Jake running, as I ran after him. We would stop often to examine the subtle nuances of nature that would have gone unnoticed if we were human. Every smell, sound, and sight in the woods was a new discovery for us. After our run, Jake and I would go swimming. I would show off, while he had to come up for air, scowling each time.

But this wasn't one of those days. Getting to our running grounds required some travel time on foot in areas frequented by hikers and campers. Their numbers were always more when it was sunny. Today was sunny, which meant an indoor day. Indoor days were always tinged with sadness because the limitations made our thoughts drift to the one that still drove a wedge between us.

So many years had passed. We often went weeks, even months, successfully pretending she had never existed, but we both knew the other still thought of her even though we never mentioned her. It was an unsaid rule in our relationship — one of many.

Renesmee. I hadn't said her name aloud in ten years. I was sure Jacob hadn't either.

When she died ten years ago, everything in my life went dark. Jacob had fallen into a deep depression, turning wolf — leaving everyone and everything he knew. He went days without drinking, weeks without eating, and months without being human. I fell into absolute silence, without movement, like a true marble statue. If it had persisted, I would have ended up with the same cloudy eyes and papery skin as the Volturi.

Edward had been beside himself, grieving for the loss of his daughter, and the loss of his wife. As time passed though, everyone else — even Edward and Rosalie — eventually came out of their mourning to continue with their existence. Everyone that is, except me.

Months later, Jacob came and saved me, again.

He came looking for something, anything, to take away the pain of losing his imprint. Staying wolf hadn't worked, and as much as he wanted to, it wasn't in him to end his own life. He had come to beg Edward. He reminded Edward that once Jacob had agreed to do the same for him. Edward refused. He valued human life, even after the loss of our daughter, even after having seen the pain in Jacob's mind.

That's when Jacob noticed me sitting inside the house, staring out the window. I had been seated there, without moving or breathing, for months. It had been so long since I had spoken, I wasn't sure if I was still able to. Jacob came to me. He knelt and wept on my lap. He knew my pain, because it was his too. Even Edward, as much as he loved her, had not had the same need for her. He had never felt he couldn't exist without her, the way I did, and the way Jacob did.

It happened slowly. Jacob and I spent more and more time with each other, seeking solace in the other's mutual pain. Eventually, my ties to Edward and the rest of the Cullens loosened. Seeing them going about life, as though nothing had changed, was something I could never join them in. Moving every few years, establishing ourselves in a facade with strange names and strange circumstances, demanded too much of me. I couldn't keep all the stories straight.

I couldn't do anything when Jacob wasn't with me. I should have known, because it had always been Jacob who had given me life. Like before, it was Jacob who saved me from myself.

I felt the water slide down my too smooth skin, beading on contact, none of it absorbing through the stone surface. I lathered the strawberry scented body wash, making sure to use a generous amount. I missed my old skin, the way it had swelled from the moisture, and how the scent of soap seeped into the pores, how lotion would change the texture, making it suppler. Now, it was an effort for anything scented to adhere.

The shampoo slid in my hair, as I rubbed hard, trying to make it lather. The water rinsed it out in seconds. It felt wrong that shampoo got washed out of hair so quickly. I still remembered how it felt when the suds used to linger, waiting for my fingers to loosen their hold on my imperfect, textured hair.

"Bells? Did you see what happened to my blue shirt? I can't find it anywhere," Jacob asked, as he walked into my bathroom.

I reached for my robe, slipping it on and stepped out of the shower. Jacob stood by the sink looking in the mirror, assessing the light layer of stubble on his face.

"I ironed it. It's hanging in your closet," I answered. "Don't shave. I like it like that."

"Sure, sure, makes it easier for me," he replied. He smiled and smoothed my hair with his hand.

"You smell nice," he sighed and pulled me close.

"You mean better."

"Better, nice, all of the above." Jacob bent forward, his lips gently caressing my neck.

My arms reached up and wrapped around him. I felt his hand slip beneath the towel. I did nothing to keep it from falling. It was always after a shower that made it more tempting. After a night in bed together, becoming as acclimatized to the odor as much as we ever could be, then washing away as much as we were able to, covering up what remained with poor substitutes for what we once were, that was when we convinced ourselves that it was possible. That was why I let my towel fall, and reached for Jacob's rather than my own.

I could feel him pressed against me. Against my stone body it felt firm, but hot, like fire. I would have sat inside an inferno, allowed my venom to ignite and burn me from the inside out. I would have suffered all that and more, if it meant I could have Jacob the way I had wanted him for so long — the way I should have wanted him so long ago.

"Bells…"

"Jake…"

Our bare bodies pressed into each other until no space remained between us. He lifted me off the ground, and I wrapped my legs around him. He moved us closer to the wall, until my back was pressed against the cold, stone tile.

His lips, his tongue, and his hands roamed every part of me within his reach.

My legs held tight, but with restraint, always remembering he was human despite his strength. I reached down with my hand and grabbed him. He was hot, hard and throbbing.

I felt my lips quiver when his tongue moved down my neck. I was forced to let go of him, as he lifted me higher, engulfing my nipple into his heated mouth.

I turned my head away from him and bit down on my hand.

He lowered me onto the shower bench as his body descended. His hand reached out to turn on the water; I reached with mine for the body wash, snapping it open, and letting it fall. The scent of strawberries filled the stall, and our feet were covered in pink suds.

Jacob's mouth moved lower and lower, and my back arched in response. I slid forward, until I was balanced on the edge of the bench.

The trail of fire burned a path from my neck to my hips. I knew its destination. Always, he denied himself, suffering for me.

"Jake, no…" I whispered.

He didn't stop.

"Jake, please, I don't want you to…"

I heard rattling and looked up. He had grabbed the showerhead with his long arm. His hand was wrapped around it, lifting it up from the holder as I was hit with water. I held my hand out, taking it from him, and directed it at my abdomen, letting the water flow freely between my legs where Jacob was.

I felt the climb, as the intensity reached an unbearable level. Jacob gripped the bench with his hands, causing cracks in the teak from the pressure. I tried to relax, to end it for him, to reach my climax, but he reached his limit first. My body crashed with disappointment as Jacob's head turned away, gulping a mouthful of air before he directed the shower spray into his mouth.

I pushed him up against the glass stall, sucking on his ear. He buried his face in my hair and his fingers reached down, to finish the job his mouth could not. I leaned into them, feeling his touch. It was soft, flexible, and hot. It was almost as good.

I pushed myself up, positioning myself. I wanted him. I had always wanted him. And he wanted me. He had always wanted me.

"Bells…"

"Please, Jake. We haven't tried in so long… maybe this time…"

Desire had taken over reason; in the same way I knew it had taken him. I felt his need for me. I tasted it on his skin. Jacob couldn't fight it. It didn't matter how many times we had tried before. It didn't matter how many times we had failed. Our hunger surpassed reason. Our love had survived the impossible. Our hope existed in the face of perpetual failure.

Jacob grabbed me aggressively and pushed me against the tile wall. He lowered me, and I felt myself give to accommodate him. It was the only thing that made any part of this body change. I knew now why Tanya and her sisters sought out human men. It wasn't the same as it had been with Edward, where nothing changed, and nothing moved. Only warmth altered. It was like a fault line in rock, giving when a tremor came. Jacob was my tremor.

The fire was agonizing when he entered my body. I knew the icy cold felt equally intolerable to him. Yet the physical discomfort never dissuaded our quest for passion. Always we tried, and always it ended the same.

A rhythm was established. I felt the tension rise in Jacob, the same as it rose in me. The raging heat burned me from the inside, as though my venom was aflame. Jacob's eyes were closed, his face contorted in pain. He wanted me more than anything, but I knew the cold — for him — was enough to burn. Ice didn't feel cold to him, but my skin sent chills every time he touched it. It was the same for me. I could place my hand on a heated stovetop and feel nothing, yet his flesh made caused an agony I thought had long become a memory.

It was too much, for him and me. We collapsed together on the shower floor, pulling apart as quickly as possible, and curled up on opposite sides, unable to look the other in the eye. Jacob took a few deep breaths as I continued to hold mine.

"You want to stay in today, Bells? I can take a nap, so we can go for a run at night."

"Sure, that would be wonderful, Jake."

He rinsed himself off perfunctorily and stepped out of the shower. As he dried off, making his way out the door, I called after him.

"Jake?"

"Yeah?"

"Thanks."

"Sure, sure. I didn't sleep very soundly last night; I could use a nap," he replied, smiling as he left.

He was my Jacob again. He knew what I had thanked him for without my telling him. He compromised, disregarding his own wants, to make me happy. I knew, because he had slept like a baby last night, as he did every night. It would have been perfect, this life with my Jacob, if only I could be his Bella again.