Disclaimer and A/N: Very AU/AH. While the plot of this story is entirely original and takes great liberties with the characters, the writer does not own those characters. They belong to Twilight author Stephenie Meyer. No copyright infringement is intended.
Jake Black sped down a pitch-black, two-lane highway in rural Idaho, Godsmack blaring from the blown speakers in the faded '53 Chevy pickup.
He pounded the wheel as the road sign came into view: "Coeur d'Alene: 64 miles."
"I don't have a fucking hour," he said. He clicked the radio off.
He pushed the pedal harder into the floor, as if that would make the truck move faster. He gritted his teeth and wiped his hands on his jeans to clear the sweat away.
Blue lights flashed in the rear-view, but he did not slow down. He had too much at stake to pull over now.
The lights grew closer. The truck wheezed, pushed to its limit. Jake blinked as sweat trickled down his forehead.
When the cruiser got close enough, Jake mashed the brake pedal to the floor. The Crown Vic slammed into the truck, lifting its rear end from the road. He hit the throttle again, and the truck bounced and pulled away from the highway patrol trooper, smoke pouring from the ruined car's hood. Jake watched as the trooper skidded to the side of the road.
Time passed slowly then, the road one long stretch of crests and valleys. Jake's mind wandered. Bella. The War. Edward.
Everything always came back to Edward.
The city glowed ahead as the pickup labored over a small hill. He had to be careful. There was no question that the trooper had called in a description of the truck. He was surprised they hadn't already blocked off the highway, though he supposed that wouldn't take too much longer, even at five o'clock in the morning. This place would be swarming with cops soon.
He crossed over the Spokane River and slowed, making a quick left onto the first road he came to. He planned on ditching the truck somewhere dark. Maybe he could buy himself enough time to find her, steal another car, and skip town before they found him.
Or worse, before they found her.
He tossed the keys in the river and ducked his head down as he crossed the road. Looking back over his shoulder, he nodded a final goodbye to the old Chevy. She'd been good to him through the years.
Over the tops of downtown's buildings, Jake saw the unmistakable glow of the impending sunrise. "Dammit," he said under his breath. Getting out of town unnoticed would be harder in daylight.
The alley up ahead looked like it would provide good cover, so he ducked in there.
Just in time, too, as a trooper cruised by, his spotlight reflecting off the leftovers of a rainstorm that must have passed through here only a few hours ago. Jake crouched behind a dumpster. The trooper flipped his lights on and stopped beside the pickup.
"Looks like I'm on my own," Jake said, moving toward the other end of the alley. He climbed the chain link, flipped over the top, and landed on his feet on the other side. He huffed it a few blocks east, following the signs toward the small town's entertainment district.
That's where he'd find her, the voice on the phone told him.
He came to the bar he'd been told would be there, another anonymous dive in yet another anonymous northwestern town. He'd been chasing her across the region for months now, always a day late. Always stuck cleaning up the mess she left behind.
Not today. Not if Jake could help it. The voice was certain this time. "You'll find her in Coeur d'Alene. Keep to the bars, the alleys. Be sure to look in the dumpsters. It's been rough for her, Jake. She's unpredictable. Be careful."
The bar was locked up tight, as he suspected it would be this early in the morning, so he searched every alleyway and parking lot he could find, occasionally ducking to avoid a patrol car.
After an hour, he finally found Princess Isabella Swan passed out in the back seat of a broken-down Volvo parked behind a college bar. She moaned when he opened the door.
"Bella. Wake up. We've got to get you out of here." He nudged her and moved back.
"Edward, is that you?"
Her breath smelled like whiskey and cigarettes. She moved her long dark curls away from her face, revealing two black eyes. Blood was caked in the corners of her mouth. Her knuckles were scraped raw, her cheeks scratched.
An alleycat scampered out of a nearby dumpster, disturbing a flock of scavenging pigeons. They flew into the air, and Jake had to squint into the sun, now fully risen.
"Bella. Come on. We've got to go."
Still, she did not move. He picked her up, all eighty five pounds of her, and carried her away from the car.
She nuzzled her face into his neck, her arms wrapped around him. Jake breathed it in, knowing it was only temporary. "Oh, Edward," she said. "I had the most otherworldly dream."
"It's me, Bella. It's Jacob. Edward's gone, remember?"
She woke, gasped and furrowed her brow.
"Put me down, Jacob Black. Put me down right now. I am capable of standing on my own."
Her eyes took on a soft pink hue, which was either a sign of her lingering drunkenness or her throttled rage. It is hard to tell with her kind.
Perhaps, Jake thought, it was both.
She brushed dirt from the front of her dress, which was filthy and stained in blood. She grimaced and inhaled sharply when she bent over, obviously in pain.
That is when Jake noticed the blood on her back. Good lord, he thought. There was no going back from this.
"Bella. What happened?"
She smirked and wiped blood from her cheek, but before she could answer, another police cruiser passed by at the end of the alley.
"Hold that thought," Jake said. He took her by the hand. "Can you walk?"
"I am fine, Jacob. I may be small, but please do me the courtesy of not treating me like a child."
They snaked their way through the alley and into a cookie-cutter neighborhood whose only activity was a three-legged dog scrounging in an overturned trash can.
Another patrolman cruised by. Jake suspected the Volturi wouldn't be far behind. They were tapped into every law enforcement network in the country. They might even show up today, he thought.
"We've got to go, Bella."
She looked up, pink tears forming in the corners of her eyes. Her skin glistened in the morning sun.
"Pay them no mind, Jacob," she said, nodding at the patrol car. "They are easily defeated, if it has to come to that. But it shall not. What does it matter anymore? Let them do what they will. I do not have it in me to resist. There is simply no point."
For as long as Jake had been with the Swan clan, he had never heard Bella sound like that before, and it caused him more worry than her physical injuries. Those would heal on their own, eventually, and she would survive. But to fix whatever was wrong inside her would take effort. He wasn't sure she was capable. He'd never seen someone so broken. She would need help. He had to find a way to stop her from destroying herself, if it wasn't too late already.
"Your father worries, Bella. The whole clan worries. And now this?"
She smiled and looked over her shoulder, at the damage she'd done.
"Yes, I suppose this will require some explanation." She sighed. "Do you have a cigarette? This may take a while."
They worked their way back to the front of the bar. So far, no cops had shown, no Guard members either. Jake handed her his pack of Marlboros as he spotted an older Chevy Malibu up the street. An easy car to steal.
He shattered the window with his elbow, crawled in and ripped the plastic away from the steering column in a single, violent thrust. He had it started in less than a minute and invited Bella to take the passenger seat. His old skills were coming in handy.
"So what happened?" he said once they were on the road. "That isn't an easy thing to do."
She inhaled, blew smoke out the window as they headed toward the highway. A trace of pink lingered in the air. She had not lost her powers completely, then.
"I shall recite the facts, sweet Jacob, but you must indulge me a story, first. Where I am going will make no sense if I do not impart a sense of where I have been."
She pulled her legs up onto the car seat and folded them under her before turning to face Jake. The car continued to speed toward the interstate.
"There once was a young maiden, blessed with good health during a time when few were so blessed. The Black Death had overtaken her homeland, you see, and this young maiden witnessed much suffering and sorrow.
"Her father, Charlemagne, had raised her alone, her mother Renee having succumbed to the dread disease early on. The girl could not bear it when he sickened. She had seen and cared for too many men and women his age who did not make it through.
"The plague knew no boundaries, Jacob. It did not distinguish dukes from domestics, nor maidens from matriarchs. It killed without remorse. The fair maiden sought a solution."
Bella paused to light another cigarette. She shifted in her seat as the car veered into the interstate, twisting her legs to the right so she could lean toward Jake. She whispered, as if in a trance.
"Desperate, the maiden sought help from an oracle, despite her misgivings. Oracles were dangerous and unpredictable, given to trickery at a whim. They were as likely to bless a chosen subject as they were to curse them. But the young maiden believed she had no choice. Her father would die without divine intervention.
"Through the oracle's counsel, the maiden tried to heal her father with a special blend of potions and incantations. Unbeknownst to her, however, the oracle had indeed blended trickery into the spell, though some would think it a blessing."
She was cracking her knuckles and chewing on her bottom lip. Pink tears stained her cheeks. Jake fished a tissue from the glove box and offered it to her.
"I am a mess, Jacob. Thank you for this. You have always been so sweet to me."
Jake blushed and gritted his teeth. "Yes ma'am," he said. "I owe your father my life. If he hadn't taken me into the clan, the Volturi would have killed me. There is no doubt."
She smiled for the first time.
"That is Charlie," she said. "He would do anything to help someone in need. Fooling with the Volturi is but a bonus."
She grew wistful then, staring out the window as the highway flashed by. They had crossed over into Washington and were quickly approaching Spokane.
"The oracle cornered the young maiden as her father wheezed his final breaths. 'Give me your soul Isabella Swan and I shall save your father from certain death. Refuse me and he will die within the hour.'"
She laughed and pulled her legs out from under her, hugging her knees to her chest. Jake heard her crying softly as the car hummed down the highway.
"The choice was easy," Bella said, putting her feet back on the floor. She lit another smoke, smiled as she exhaled, the smoke now infused with pink.
"I gave up my soul to save my father," she said. "That was nearly a thousand years ago."
Jake closed his eyes and thought about the one person he could imagine doing that for. She sat in the seat next to him.
"So that's how Charlie became what he is?" Jake said. "I'd always wondered."
He paused. "But what about you?"
She gritted her teeth.
"It is not so simple, sweet Jacob. Charlie is, indeed, a member of the Fae, a result of the oracle's spell. A millennium later, he is king of all the Fae in North America. And as his only daughter, I am a princess. But the Fae race is not what the public believes Faeries to be. We are a cursed species, given the power of life and death over any living creature. That is a terrible power to have, Jacob. Perhaps the worst power of all."
She leaned against the window, her breath fogging up the glass. She closed her eyes and Jake saw a determination take over the contours of her face, her jaw set hard, her lips pursed.
"The truth is, I harbor a dark secret, Jacob. One I have made known only to him, my Edward. Do you care to know it?"
"More than you'll ever know."
She focused on his face, looked deep into his eyes as he kept them on the road.
"This deal I have made with the Devil himself is torture. Everlasting life came with a high price, one I fear I am no longer able to pay."
"What price?" he asked, truly confused.
"I never wanted to be what I am," she said, crying again, "what I have been for three hundred thousand days and nights. Did you know that? Everyone thinks it must be wonderful, to be able to do the things I can do. To be eternal. All powerful. A princess."
She exhaled a cloud of pink smoke and smiled, as if in remembrance. She shook her head, churning up a memory.
"In a way, I suppose it is. Or it was at one time. But before my recent adventures, it had been a hundred years at least since I stopped to consider my lot in life. I was given immortality, made virtually indestructible. I do what I want, when I want, and mostly with whom I want. I need not sleep nor seek nourishment. I have lived a life so full of wonder every teenage girl in the world would envy me.
"But there is more to life than wonder, Jacob Black."
She brushed her hand across his cheek, sending shivers up his spine.
"Do you understand?"
He told her he did not.
"When you will never die, what is the point of living?" she said. "When you will never want, what is the point of desire? When you can put off what must be done for all eternity, what is the point of doing anything at all?"
She paused, shook her head almost imperceptibly.
"Do you know Shakespeare, Jacob?"
"I had to read Romeo and Juliet in high school, sure. 'To be or not to be,' stuff like that."
"He speaks of decay in perhaps his most famous Sonnet, seventy three," she said, and proceeded to recite a portion of it:
"This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
"To love that well which thou must leave ere long."
"That's beautiful," Jake said. "But what does it mean."
She lit yet another smoke, pulled her legs back up onto the seat and turned to face him again.
"The mere possibility of death gives life meaning," she said.
"It is a lesson which I did not fully learn until I lost him, until the Volturi and its ancient, illogical rules forced his hand."
They were approaching the outskirts of Spokane when two police cruisers raced past, lights and sirens blaring. The cops skidded to a stop in the middle of the road a half mile ahead, blocking it completely. A third police car came up from behind and tapped the Malibu's bumper.
"Before Edward, my life had no meaning," Bella continued, as if the world outside didn't exist. "It was simply a series of days following another series of days. In truth, I had been ready to end it, if only I knew how. Some research suggested …"
"I shall get to that in a moment. The point is, I was on the edge, Jacob. But then I met him and everything changed. With Edward, I finally had something to fight for, instead of always fighting against my nature. But when he ..."
She wiped a pink tear from her eye with the back of her knuckles.
Jake pulled the car to the side of the road, worried that the police car behind him would send them into a tailspin. He shifted it into park and waited as officers surrounded them. They'd been on the road less than a half hour.
"Do you know the story of how Edward and I met?" Bella asked.
"I know the basics," he said. "Legend has it that it had something to do with high school, a biology class maybe."
"Oh, yes," she said. "The stuff of Faerie tales. But life is no Faerie tale, Jacob Black."
She told him the story, that she had grown tired of living the life of a Faerie princess and had enrolled in Forks High School as a senior transferring from Arizona. She'd been sixteen when she was turned and hadn't aged a day since.
She met Edward Cullen on her first day, having the "good fortune" to be partnered with him in biology lab. They formed an instant bond, one so powerful that an irresistible psychic force held them together.
"But there are rules," she said, "for vampires."
The number of cops outside had nearly doubled in the ten minutes they'd been sitting there. They hid behind their cars, guns drawn.
Bella flicked a cigarette butt out the window, and three SWAT guys nearly jumped out of their armor. They must have an idea what they're facing, Jake thought. They must know how dangerous she can be.
"Out of the car with your hands up!" one of them bellowed through a megaphone.
"Pay them no mind," Bella said, rolling her eyes. "I am telling a story."
Jake noticed an officer in the rear view, trying to sneak up on them from behind. Bella rolled down the window as he neared the front of the car and picked him up one-handed by his vest, tossing him aside like a rag doll. He thudded to the ground twenty feet away and scrambled to his feet.
"The Volturi, evil council that it is, has a single goal, Jacob: To ensure the survival of the vampire race," she continued. She winced and massaged her shoulder, as if she'd injured it.
"Are you OK?"
She smiled. "I am still weak," she said, rolling her shoulder and stretching her neck. "It is a feeling I am not used to."
"So," Jake said. "The Volturi?"
"Yes. The Volturi. In its questionable wisdom, the Council long ago enacted a host of rules that all vampires must follow, or they shall endure the Council's wrath. First among them, of course, is that humans must not be made aware of their existence."
She stopped to eye the growing throng of officers outside, which now looked to include several FBI agents. She took a deep breath and frowned.
"But close behind is a rule that dictates that vampires may not associate with supernatural beings of any kind without direct council approval. The Council believes the threat of a hybrid being born is too great.
"Needless to say, Edward and I sought no such approval."
Jake watched as the SWAT team formed a line, their shields held high, the officer with the bean bag gun hidden behind them. They advanced slowly, shuffling as a group. When they grew close, Bella seemed to take an interest.
"Would you mind if I paused my story for one moment?" she said. "I shall be brief."
She whipped the car door open and spun toward the group of officers, a pink flash with dark brown hair. First one officer went down, and then the entire line. They each floundered on the ground as if in pain.
"Now where was I?" Bella said, somehow sitting in the passenger seat again. "Oh, yes. The Faerie tale."
"What just happened out there?" Jake asked. He watched the officers climb to their feet, clearly as confused as he was.
"Psht. Humans," was all she said.
Jake smiled. "You have no use for humans?"
"That is not how I meant it, Jacob Black," she said, smiling. She chewed her bottom lip and looked him up and down. "Now be a good little human and let me finish my story."
She raised her eyebrows as if waiting for a response. Jake remained silent, smirking.
"As I was saying," she went on, "Edward and I were connected. There was no one who could touch us, nothing that could hurt us. We had to keep our love a secret from the Volturi, of course, but that is not as difficult as it sounds. His parents Carlisle and Esme were as gracious as could be, and we could not have done it without help from his siblings, Alice, Rosalie and gentle Emmett."
She sighed. "Please," she said. "Do you have another cigarette? This pack is empty."
Jake fished through his pockets, looked through the glove box and the center console, but came up empty.
"No matter," she said. "We shan't be much longer. I believe you know most of the rest of the story. It is not the part I wish to recite."
He did know the rest, having been taken into the clan as it was developing.
The Volturi came after the Cullens with a vengeance when the relationship was discovered. Aro, the Council's leader, sent a team from the Volturi Guard to the Cullen compound, but with instructions to seek counsel with Carlisle and Esme, Edward's adoptive parents. The true nature of the Guard's mission needed to be shrouded in secrecy. They were afraid of Edward's sister Alice. She could see the future, but only if a decision had been made.
When the team arrived at the compound, Aro sent instructions to slaughter the family. The Guard did exactly that, with one exception. Once the order had been given, Alice sprung to life. She fought off two members of the Guard in an attempt to save her family's life, but was knocked unconscious and left for dead. She woke up to see her entire family slaughtered. Her husband Jasper had clearly been killed while trying to protect her parents, his headless body sprawled across the entryway to their room.
Edward was not there, much to Aro's dismay when he later discovered it. He had been on his way home from a secret rendezvous with Bella at the Swan estate when the attack occurred. His proximity to Bella shielded his location from the Volturi. Just before his arrival home, however, Alice contacted him psychically and warned him off.
He immediately raced home, of course, but he was too late. With Bella's help, he was able to nurse Alice back to health. She remained at the Swan estate, protected from the Volturi. Vampires and Faeries had always been natural enemies, but they had worked out a truce of sorts centuries ago.
But now, battle lines were drawn. Armies were gathered. A chosen one, desolate and blessed, emerged to lead the Fae. War was imminent and seemed unavoidable. Lives would be lost, of that both sides were certain.
And then Edward did what no one thought he would. He surrendered.
"It is what must be done," he told Bella one evening as they strolled by the lake on the Swan estate.
Jake ducked behind a tree, sure that he should not be listening but unable to pull himself away. It was not the first time he had followed Bella on one of her nightly walks. Ever since Charlie had taken him in, he found himself irresistibly drawn to her. It was as if she had somehow imprinted on his brain and permanently changed its structure.
"That cannot be true, Edward," she told him. She bit her bottom lip and gripped his hand tighter.
"If the only way to avoid a war that would undoubtedly kill hundreds, perhaps thousands, is to give myself up, then I really have no choice. I must do what's right, Bella.
"The Volturi will not kill me," he continued. "I am too valuable to them. They want me, they want my abilities. You know Aro will use every power at his disposal to convince me to join the Guard. I won't, of course."
"Edward, please do not do this. There must be another way. We can run away together. They would never find us. My shielding ability would keep us safe. We could go wherever we wanted."
"I can't risk that they'd find you, Bella. You know what the Guard would do to you if that happened," he said.
She paced the forest floor, biting her lip and twisting her hair around her middle finger. Jake knew this meant she was nervous. Scared, even. He secretly yearned to hold her, to comfort her, to take her away from the mess her life had become since Edward joined it.
"We could try that procedure I told you about," she said, crying now, right up in Edward's face. "It might actually work. There is no way of knowing until we try, Edward. Please."
He sighed and ran his hands through his hair, walked away from the conversation. Then he halted, turned to face her. "We've been over this, Bella. I simply can't abide that kind of foolishness."
"You can't abide, Edward? Seriously? Forgive me, but who in the hell do you think you are? I am nine hundred years older than you. I believe myself capable of making a rational decision. Besides, as I have explained to you repeatedly, the prospect of a life without you is little different from death, for me."
He walked off in a huff, Bella close on his heels.
Jake watched them go. He wondered what they'd been talking about. What procedure was Bella talking about? What was Edward so afraid of?
Bella was talking to him, here in the present.
"Yeah. Sorry," he said. He coughed. He looked outside. He watched the cops talk amongst themselves, apparently content to wait this one out over coffee and doughnuts.
"Can I ask you a question, Bella?" Jake said, breaking an uncomfortable silence.
"Certainly, Jacob. You know I would tell you anything."
"What were you and Edward talking about the night he left? I was, uh, nearby and overheard your conversation."
She looked at him as if seeing him for the first time. The corners of her mouth lifted into a slight smile, and her eyes began to glow pink.
"Jacob Black, you are certainly full of secrets, are you not?"
She tapped her fingers to her lips and sighed heavily. "Where shall I begin?
"Ah, yes, with the undead," she said. "Obviously, vampires are virtually invulnerable. Only a few things are fatal to them, despite what popular culture has come up with. Garlic? Religious icons? Wooden tools? Ridiculous.
"But prolonged exposure to harsh sunlight is deadly. It crystallizes their skin over time, eventually settling into a rigor mortis-like rigidity. That is why they appear to sparkle in sunlight. Beheading always works, as does blood deprivation. But that is all. If they keep their exposure to the sun minimal, and they feed at least every two weeks, they will survive for eternity."
"Human or animal blood, right?"
"Of course," she said. "But Fae blood is another matter entirely.
"A vampire who feeds on a Faerie is immediately overcome with a powerful surge of an adrenaline-like substance. They become immensely strong, for a time. And dangerous.
"I, myself, have seen it only once." She gazed out the window as if in remembrance.
"But it soon kills them," she continued. "Their veins literally explode from the inside out. It is not a pretty sight."
She looked Jake over.
"The point is, Jacob, that vampires and Faeries do not mix. There is no way for a vampire to turn a Faerie. Such an attempt would only result in the vampire's death.
"But what if there were a way for a Faerie to become human again? A vampire could turn a human."
"Is there a way?"
"When Edward left, I was heartbroken," she said. "But I let him go, believing there was nothing I could do. But several weeks of torment left me virtually broken. You remember this, do you not?"
"I do," was all he said.
"That is when I left, Jacob. I believed I could find him, despite his haunting ability to block my mind. I knew the Volturi would not take him back to their headquarters. It would be the obvious place to look. I believed that I knew him so well, there was nowhere he could go that I could not find. No one he could talk to that I would not sense. I followed the trail as best I could. They lay low, traveling from small town to small town across the northwest, no doubt aware that I would follow.
"I believed I was on the verge of discovery with every small town I encountered. I believed I had just missed him every time. But it soon became apparent that I was on a fool's errand. There was no evidence of Edward anywhere I went. The trail went cold.
"I simply lost it after that, I am embarrassed to say. I believe you have seen some of the aftermath?"
Indeed, he had. Drunken brawls in bars from Tacoma to Salt Lake. Police involvement in most. The worst had been in Bozeman, a college town halfway between nowhere and nowhere else. She'd started a massive fight there that left two kids dead, though neither by her hand. The FBI had traced her path, figuring out she'd crossed state lines several times.
The feds issued a Be On the Lookout order, a nationwide BOLO, which brought attention from the media.
"The Pixie Pugilist," the headlines called her. They dug up yearbook photos from Forks High School, splashed them across their front pages. Nancy Grace and her ilk followed, setting up live trucks, interviewing Bella's teenage "friends." It was sickening.
That is when Jake began getting the phone calls.
"Last night," she said, the tears now flowing such a bright shade of fuchsia that they almost looked like blood, "I was desperate, Jacob. At the end of my rope.
"I slashed my wings off with a broken Corona bottle in a bar full of rednecks. In my drunken state, I was convinced it would somehow make me human again, to be rid of those wings. Edward had always been against the idea.
"He was right, of course. It did not work," she said, turning so Jake could see her back. She lifted her dress, and he saw that new wings had formed. They looked soft, a translucent shade of pink that Jake had always thought of as resembling a form of living stained glass. They were beautiful, criss-crossed with veins that glowed, filling the car's interior with a salmon-colored light.
"I thought," she said, "that I could be with him. I thought I could fix everything.
"I was a fool, Jacob. The teenage girl I appear to be. He does not want me, anyway."
"That's not true," Jake blurted, and he winced. He knew he had to do this, despite the pain it would cause. He'd do whatever he could to save her the heartbreak. That, in the end, he would be breaking his own heart did not matter.
He loved her too much to allow her to be in this kind of pain. Not when he could do something about it.
"Whatever do you mean?" she said.
"Bella," he said, "please don't hate me for this, but I've been in contact with him. With Edward."
She inhaled sharply and closed her eyes, forcing a calm over her body.
"Please continue," she said.
"He's been calling me, texting me. He's escaped, somehow, and he's been tracking you, I guess. He always knows where you are. He told me that staying away is killing him, but he feels like he has no choice. It's for your own safety."
Jake began to tear up. He set his jaw and continued, knowing this was for the best.
"He contacted me right after your case first went public," Jake said. "He's really worried about you, Bella. He doesn't want to see you come to any harm."
"Where is he, Jake. You must tell me. If you feel about me the way I believe you feel about me, you must tell me."
Jake looked outside, shook his head. How had his life come to this? Three years ago, he was hustling dime bags on a Seattle street corner, stealing cars when he got short on cash. Now? Now he was involved in a potential war between two races of supernatural beings and hopelessly, dangerously in love with a Faerie princess.
What a strange, fucked up world he lived in.
"I don't know, Bella. I swear it on my life. He won't tell me a thing. Says he's living a peaceful existence far away from the Volturi. Says he's keeping an eye on you, that he'll return one day, if you'll have him.
"He wants me to find you. He wants to bring you home. He wants to make sure you're safe. He said I'm the only one he trusts to do it."
"Jacob Black," she said, a rueful smile crossing her lips. She shook her head and smiled, a pink glimmer emanating from her face like none Jake had ever seen. The interior of the car began to glow, and then so did the whole crime scene.
It shook the cops outside from their slumber. They all crouched lower behind their police cruisers, set their coffee cups down and squared their shoulders toward the car.
"I wonder if someone out there has a cigarette I could borrow?" Bella said, smirking and reaching for the door handle.
She opened the door, looking back over her shoulder toward Jake.
"Please wait here," she said. "This shall only take a moment."
Jake placed a hand on her arm, the first time he'd been brave enough to touch her. A warmth overtook his body. He felt happy. Truly happy for the first time in as long as he could remember.
But still, something nagged at him.
"I need to tell you something," he said, unable to look her in the eye. "I've made a terrible mistake."
She looked into his soul with those bright pink eyes.
"You have made me the happiest girl on the planet," she said, beaming. "Whatever it is can wait. It is time for us to go."
She told Jake to get in the back seat and keep his head down.
"I am risking a war, you know," she said. "The Volturi will be here soon. I can feel it. There is no hiding what I am about to do."
"A life without risk," Jake said as he climbed over the seat, thinking of the risk he was taking, "is a life without growth."
She smiled at him, tilted her head to the right.
"You surprise me, sometimes, Jacob Black," she said. "Now be a good little human and get down."
With that, she walked into the day and the world ended in a pink flash.
When Jake came to, Bella sat in the driver's seat, a cigarette dangling from her lips as Interstate 90 flashed by. Van Morrison wailed from the radio.
"If you find your baby's gone
"And you don't know where or when
"You wonder, yes you wonder
"If you'll ever see him again
"Just remember, remember
"These simple words I brought
"Soon it won't hurt half as much
"No it won't hurt half as much
"No it won't hurt half as much as you thought"
Jake would let his secret keep, for now. He didn't have the strength to tell her that Edward was never coming back.
A/N This one-shot was the first fanfic I ever wrote. It was an entry in the Season of Our Discontent anonymous angst contest (it didn't win). I acknowledge it's not the most angsty thing out there, but I like it. Thanks for reading. I've been told I should make this a continuing story. Still up in the air on that one.