Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight.


Chapter 1

"She's not safe here," the doctor said. His voice was grave with truth and warning.

Jacob struggled to sit up. His bones were still mending, and the painful process had him groaning. He tried to hold on to his rage, to rebel against what he was suggesting.

"No."

"Jacob," Carlisle reasoned. "She can't stay here. They will come for her."

"I can protect her," he argued.

Edward, who had been quietly observing in the corner, stepped forward.

"Jacob, if the Volturi come, and they will come, they will bring an army. Even together, us and your pack will not be enough. They will destroy all of us."

Jacob struggled to keep his face stoic, but inside he felt horror stricken at the image of that war. Yet, his wolf, that other part of his being was salivating at the idea of battle.

Guilt churned in his gut. Was he being selfish wanting her to stay in Forks?He'd hoped maybe he could still change her mind about becoming one of them.

Even if she never chose him.

There was silent war being waged inside Jacob, tearing his heart, his thoughts, his resolve to ribbons.

"Where?" he asked, pushing the word through gritted teeth. Nothing about this situation felt right.

"Florida," Edward said. Jacob raised his eyebrows in surprise. "With her mom."

Jacob frowned in confusion. How's his sparkly ass going to go there?

"I'm not going," Edward answered Jacob's silent question.

"Who's going to protect her then?"

He hated to admit it, but at least when she was with Cullen, he knew he'd protect her.

Well, from everything but herself.

"The only way she'll ever be safe is away from all of this."

An image of Bella, sad and broken, resurfaced in his mind. It had been physically painful for him to see her like that when Cullen had left her.

Edward winced. "She broke up with me already, Jacob."

Jacob's eyebrows shot up in surprise.

"This morning."

Now that Jacob looked at him, he looked as broken and defeated as Jacob felt himself.

But that didn't mean a part of Jacob wasn't silently happy. Even if she had broken his heart, at least she wasn't going to marry him and die. Hope bubbled up inside him.

"They know about the wolves Jacob. She can't stay here."

Jacob sighed. "Okay, Cullen, I get that. But if you and she aren't getting hitched, and she already told me-"

"She won't leave unless..."

Edward trailed off, sharing a glance with Carlisle.

Jacob's blood went cold. All his sore muscles were suddenly rigid and tense.

"Unless what?"

"If she thinks you didn't make it," Carlisle revealed in his quiet but certain voice.

Jacob wanted to burst out of his skin. "You're going to tell her I died?"

Jacob looked between the two vampires. Both their faces were completely serious. He couldn't help the disbelieving laugh that erupted from his chest.

"Bella's a smart girl. She'll never believe you! What about the pack, my dad, Charlie!"

"She'll believe me," Edward said.

Jacob studied him for a long moment. Then snorted. "Yeah, you've really mastered the art of manipulation with her, huh?"

Edward's face changed as a hiss came through his teeth.

Jacob chuckled. It was still fun to rile him up. It gave Jake a little perverse satisfaction.

"Edward," Carlisle chastised. He turned to Jacob. "We'll take care of it, but you have to disappear for a little while."

Jacob didn't want to agree to this. It was crazy and ridiculous. He opened his mouth to protest, to tell Cullen there was no way in hell he'd lie to her like this.

Edward spoke first, "If she stays, not only will she die, but your whole pack will be destroyed. You can't win this one Jacob. Alice has seen it."

Jacob didn't answer. He just lay prone in his childhood bed and stared icily at the two vampires.

After several long tense seconds, Carlisle sighed. "Let's go Edward. Please Jacob; think about what's best for Bella."

With that, Edward and Carlisle left, leaving Jacob alone to sort through the clusterfuck that was his thoughts.

This was crazy. Maybe he could just talk to Bella. Tell her to leave. Maybe this time she'd listen.

Hell, who was he kidding? She'd just dig her stubborn little heels in. And then what?

His confidence in being able to protect her was suddenly waning. Could he take the chance that that pixie's vision would come true? His whole pack, his tribe, everyone would be in danger. And for what? Just so he could have her close?

If she thought he was dead, would that hurt her as much as her being dead would destroy him? Or would she be able to let go. To finally live a normal human existence. Without this fucked up fairytale destroying everything like a plague.

"Shit," Jacob cursed to himself. His hands twitched at his sides. He was still too broken, too sore to move them.

He couldn't believe he was actually considering this. Jacob stared at his ceiling, eyes unfocused. His head was swimming.

~000~

The late afternoon sun slanted into her room, splashing across her tear soaked face, highlighting the red in her messy brown hair. She blinked open her eyes, marveling at how innocent the room looked, how the sunshine made everything look and feel pretty and okay.

But a second later, the sharp pain in her chest, where her heart was breaking, reminded her that nothing was okay. The pain was suffocating and consuming. It was too much. And her own fault. She deserved this torment after the pain she'd inflicted.

The stark ugly realization hit her hard, cutting off her air supply. The hole that she had once learned to live with, that felt almost satisfied by Jake, and then healed by Edward's return, opened up. Raw and bleeding and intense. She almost doubled over from the waves of pain.

The memory of last night with Jacob played through her mind.

His broken body, the sweat on his brow.

His whispered words.

Maybe even then...

And then the night she spent crying.

Bella still felt ragged and exhausted from the events of the last week. And from the last twenty four hours especially. Bella curled in on herself as the memory of her morning with Edward flashed in her mind.

After a long beat of silence, she cleared her throat to speak. "Edward, I—"

Edward held up his hand, then closed his eyes and shook his head. "Please love, don't. You don't have to say it. I already know."

Edward stood up, and she still marveled at his gracefulness. He crossed the room and kneeled by her bed, taking her hands in his.

Bella was stunned into silence. He was just going to let her go? Just like that? She wasn't sure if she was relieved or angry.

"I'll always love you. And I'll always be here if you need me. I promise I won't disappear again."

A moment later, she felt him kiss her forehead, and then he was gone.

Something about Edward's easy departure, about the stark contrast of his last words to her compared to Jake's struck her hard.

And she started crying all over again. A fresh new heartache rippled through her. In less than twenty four hours she had managed to break Jake's heart and Edward's. And her own. Twice.

When her tears finally subsided, a suspicious question rose in her gut, cutting through the heartache like a hot knife.

Why was Edward so willing to let her go?

There was something else going on. Something he wasn't telling her.

And she was going to find out what.


Thanks to kissa_621! Thanks for helping me work out this crazy idea that was bouncing around in my head.