A/N: You guuuuys! This is it! I made an adjustment, and just merged chapter seventeen with the epilogue; they're basically the same thing. So here is the last chapter and epilogue of Gods and Monsters. It's been an interesting two months, huh? Enjoy, my lovelies!
I continued to take the pain—both physical and emotional—from Bella for a week and one day after the stunt with Leah.
I didn't feel loved. I didn't feel happy.
I felt like absolute shit.
I left the house today, June tenth, to give Leah her things back. I mean, I could have returned her items any time she wanted them; she hadn't called or anything. I needed to breathe, though. It was funny how things could be going so well, and then before I knew it, life went to shit again. I didn't deserve this. I was a fucking moron at times, but I didn't deserve this. Nobody did.
Sticking to my gut, holding my ground, and with a damn smile on my face, too, I knocked on the front door of the Clearwater residence.
Seth answered with a somewhat delighted expression on his face. The happy little punk. "Hey, Jake," he greeted me. "What's all that for?" His eyes lowered to the cardboard box in my hands.
"For your sister," I replied. "Is she home?"
"Yeah, she is." He opened the door further. "Wanna come in?"
And get pounced? "Nah, I'll just wait here."
"Alright, she'll be at the door in a second."
Seth went back in the house, and I stared down at my feet. Man, I hoped she wouldn't be mad at me. A little over a week was enough time to cool off, right? Well, wrong. Leah wasn't one to cool off so quickly.
I was caught in my own nervous thoughts until I heard shuffling noises, and my pathetic inner monologue just threw itself out the window.
I looked up, and Leah Clearwater, standing in denim shorts and a tank top, was glowering at me. I deserved it. She was hurt—again. I could see all the pain in her eyes; those dark brown pools told more stories than I could even imagine.
In a way, though, the pain made her even more beautiful.
The pain made me want to love her the right way.
"What do you want?" she demanded.
"I—I—just—," I stammered. "I have all your things and I thought you'd want them back."
"I do," she said, her expression unchanging. "And I have yours, too." She walked to her kitchen's windowsill, as if she just kept all that stuff there, anyway, and picked up a teddy bear I given her. In fact, I'd won it for her. We'd gone to the Makah reservation once, and a type of carnival was going on. I could remember that night like it was yesterday. Leah and I had been walking around and I'd decided to try to win a teddy bear for her by playing a little balloon-and-darts game. There'd been nothing that big to win left, but I'd ended up getting Leah a little white bear with a red bow around its neck. And that same bear was what Leah was giving back to me now. It was the only thing she had—or wanted—to give back.
"Aw, Lee, what am I supposed to do with this?" I asked gently.
She shrugged. "Name it 'Bella'?"
This again. I sighed. "Leah, you know I'm sorry."
"I do know," she agreed, "but it's a little hard to forgive someone for, don't you think?"
I nodded. "I guess that's fair." I handed her the box I held. "Here. All of this goes back to you."
She gave a small smirk. "Hm. You kept it all."
"'Course I did," I replied. "I couldn't just let it all go to waste."
I nodded again, looking straight into her eyes.
"Well, you should probably go," she told me after a little while. "You probably have better things to be doing."
"Alright," I replied. "See you at school?"
"We get out in a week and I'm taking college courses. Don't count on it."
"Fine." I backed out of the doorframe, and she was about to close the door, but I put my foot in the way.
"What now?" she asked sharply.
"I really am sorry," I reminded her, "but you don't have to forgive me right away."
"I know," she replied, "but maybe I won't."
I moved my foot out of the way and she swung the door closed right in my face.
When I got home, I felt a sense of… smugness in the air. And it wasn't even my own. As Bella's ghost continued to kick the hell out of me, I felt that it was because she was happy that my life was even worse now.
Only I knew I couldn't be a victim now.
I would rather die than be a victim now.
The ghost must've gotten a kick out of my dad not being home (he was fishing with Charlie like he did nearly every Sunday), because she was destroying my entire house.
From the moment I walked in, a pan was launched at me, and I was only one swift move away from my face becoming a pancake. Damn, I wished it was possible to fight a ghost. I would have kicked its ass. This ghost wasn't a girl or a woman or anything—it was a monster, and it needed to go.
How would I find a way, though?
I frantically charged to my bedroom, and I slid the box of letters from under my bed. I should've gotten rid of the stupid things earlier. As various items were chucked at my back, constantly cutting me (I could feel the blood seeping through my t-shirt), I took the box and started leaving my room. Not only did it contain the letters, but it also had the disk with Mike's movie on it, and my one framed photo of Bella.
I slipped a lighter into my pocket on the way out.
The crazy ghost was destroying the entire house, knocking over everything and chucking anything it could at me. I was surprised it didn't fling the fucking refrigerator at me. I made it to the woods near my garage, though. After being hit repetitively, I could finally throw down the box, ignite the lighter, and throw it in. The box effectively caught on fire, but it wasn't over.
I could feel myself bruising, but I was not going to lose. I was tired of losing a war I never even wanted to fight. I could fight for Bella. I did fight for Bella. I would always fight for Bella. This unreasonable war with her ghost, though, was not fair. And it was not my fault, either.
"I am not a victim anymore," I said aloud. I continued to be hit by the ghost, but I didn't move. I just watched the box and its contents burn. "You can't hurt me anymore, Bella.
"You only scared me because I let you and you feed off my fear—that's the only way you gained power. But you know what? I'm not scared anymore. This is over. I am completely done with you Bella. You're gone."
I could feel tears stinging in my eyes, because telling Bella goodbye like this was hurting just as much as the last time, but I couldn't stop. "You're gone, honey. You can't bother me anymore. You've gotta see the light, baby. You… you don't belong here. I don't want to be hurt anymore. If you want me to be happy so much, then you have to leave. It is far past time to let me go, Bella."
No hits. No bruises. No pain.
"You'll find your way, honey. Now let me find mine."
I felt a cool air brush off me, and then a thousand weights being lifted. The biggest feeling of relief I ever had. I felt like I could fly. I could spread my wings and soar into the pink sky. There was no pain. No pain at all.
The seemingly endless war in my mind finally came to an end. I was tired of feeling like I was fucking crazy. I'd strived way too much, but I didn't have to anymore.
Life didn't become perfect, though. It didn't have to be. I didn't want my life to be perfect. It was how it was, and I didn't want to change it. I was just going to ride. There was nothing I valued more now than to be free. So maybe I did get something in the end. Something perfect.
I'd found freedom.
I couldn't regain my innocence, because once innocence was lost, it was lost forever. But freedom was just as good now. I felt like the luckiest man on the planet for that.
In the end, Leah and I didn't get back together, if it wasn't obvious enough. We remained "at a friendship level," as she frequently called it, and she probably didn't want to be with me again, anyway. I also wasn't about to make any more mistakes with her.
In fact, she started dating Embry. Within a month after me and Leah breaking up, she finally responded to Embry's old-fashioned requests for courtship, and now they were dating. Easily the happiest, non-imprinted couple that I'd seen.
With the other couples, Sam and Emily freaked out less about their baby; Emily freaked out less about Quil and Claire; and when Rachel came home in July, Paul imprinted on her. I hadn't thought it was very funny, but my dad did. "I'm praying for our refrigerator," he'd joked.
Pretty much everyone but me had found love, or at least survived their current ones, and I was grateful for that. I wasn't looking for love. Love—along with fame and liquor—has the power to change people, and I wasn't going to be next. Was there a crime in trying to think about myself first?
I'd loved and I'd lost. I'd had a best friend and I'd had my soul and innocence taking away. I'd been controlled by a supernatural being that not even I could fight. I'd had my heart stamped on immediately. I'd even been hit by a damn bus. I'd lost myself and I'd behaved like both a god-like creature and a monster. Neither state was natural or good.
But you know what?
I'd grown from it all. I'd regained my soul, I'd found freedom, and I'd learned to deal with it and make the best of it. I wasn't a victim, and when I was at war with myself, I could ride. Easy at that.
I could also accept Bella's story entirely. I'd been wrong since the beginning; her story wasn't simple. No death of anybody is simple. Bella Swan had done tons of regretful things, but she hadn't been the only one to do so. Bella hadn't been an angel, but she hadn't been a monster or a god, either. She was gone, though. She wasn't coming back. I could accept that, and I could tell the entire rez that. I did, actually. I actually told everyone what happened, and that it could happen to anyone, because it was true. I knew the truth and I was able to share it with everybody. I was even a hero on the rez for a short time. Charlie finding out broke his heart (wouldn't it break anybody's?), but at least he knew.
So I'd done a couple of good things. I wasn't aiming for perfection, but I could take all the good things life had to throw at me. I still wasn't going to look for love, though… but there was no reason to not want to make friends.
That same summer, in mid-August, I got a job at a garage in Beaver. It paid sort of well, and I'd need the money if I was going to try to go to college somewhere. Yeah, you heard me. Embry had convinced me that I needed to go to college. Leah had convinced me, too, but Embry had done the tougher stuff.
Anyway, one day in that hot, sweet month, I went down to the garage like I did everyday. A girl worked there with me. She had reddish-gold hair, eyes the color of cinnamon, freckles across her nose, and one dimple when she smiled. Her name was Lizzie and she was cute as hell. One day, though, instead of working like usual, she brought in a few busted-up motorcycles. Nearly demolished. They obviously didn't work.
"What are those for, Liz?" I asked, chuckling as I got a few tools out, about to start work.
She laughed. "This may sound a little crazy," she said, her dimple prominent and adorable, "but I found these beat up, old bikes, and because I have a mechanic-type friend, I was hoping you could maybe help me fix them up?"
I didn't even take the time to think about it. I couldn't deny her. I mean, what could I even say? Maybe I had a thing for female friends. More specifically, maybe I had a thing for pretty, white girls who liked motorcycles.
…Don't ask me why.
A/N: How's that for ya? There won't be a sequel, but I promise Jake got his decent ending. Thank you all, so much.
Until next angsty fic (oh dear, imagine when that will be),
Your one and only musical, lovey-dovey Twilight fan. *infinite x's and o's*