Well, you all know the drill! I own nothing, all credit goes to Stephenie Meyer.
It felt like years since Nessie had given me the news.
When in actuality, it had only been a few months. The waves at First Beach had been cascading gently against the shore, and the sun was at the perfect place in the sky. And unlike the Forks summers in years past, the temperature was warm but not hot- the perfect day for a picnic. A picnic with the love of my life. I had been perfectly content with sitting in the Cullens' main house watching crappy reruns of 90's sitcoms, but Ness had insisted that we enjoy the weather, if only so she could give me "the big news". Of course, I hadn't been opposed, just so long as we were together.
It was a trait that had never posed much of an issue until recently.
"Jake, you've barely said a word all afternoon. Are you feeling okay?" Ness nudged my shoulder, silently urging me to respond. It was a peaceful silence, one that I fully intended on utilizing until she delivered whatever she had been eluding to all day.
"I'm fine." I offered her a half-hearted smile and she reached for my hand. She projected images of our time together since becoming an official couple. She'd grown up understanding the concept of being an imprint, so when the time was right everything just seemed to fall into place. I saw flashes of the night we went on our first date to her favorite restaurant in town "The Lodge", the first time I took her cliff diving, bonfires at the reservation- and she was happy, but I knew something was missing. "But I would be better if you could tell me your news."
"I asked everyone to keep quiet about this, because I didn't know what I wanted to do, okay? So try not to be too upset with them… Or me." She added quietly. Her beautiful brown eyes met mine for a moment before staring into her lap. Now it was my turn to comfort her. I wrapped my arm around her shoulder and urged her closer to me. Whatever was bothering her, I had decided, we would get through it together- like we always had.
"Ness baby, no matter what I couldn't stay upset with you- even if I tried. And trust me, I've tried." This caused her to giggle a little and she began tracing patterns on my cutoff shorts, aimlessly before continuing.
"Well, back in the fall, you remember how I told you all of the counselors at school had been urging us to apply to schools and everything? I obviously thought that would be a waste of time, but everyone was so stuck on the idea that I figured 'Hey, might as well!'. So I did. I got accepted to a couple of places…" I pulled back to look at her. I searched her face for signs of something- anything- that I would recognize. She had never kept anything from me (and vice versa) her entire life. Yet here we were, on the precipice of perhaps the biggest experience of her life, and I had been kept completely in the dark.
"Renesmee, you know I want you to do what's best for you. Why wouldn't you tell me about this? I mean, I'm so proud of you."
"Because, Jakey, I can't do what's best for me without considering what's best for us." A lone tear slipped from her eye, and I brushed it away quickly with my thumb. Resting my hand on her cheek, I tilted her head so that her eyes met mine. "I just love you so much."
Those words were going to be my undoing.
It wasn't like she hadn't said them before. No, we had exchanged those pleasantries since she was old enough to communicate. It was just that then, everything she uttered held an air of finality. Like it may have been the last time I would ever hear them. "Ness, please tell me what's wrong. You're killing me."
"Jake, I- I'm leaving." She managed to choke out.
"Wait, what? For how long? Like you're going on a trip with Blondie and Alice for a little while…"
Her tears were falling freely now and she pulled away to look at me directly. "No, not this time. I mean I'm going away to school –to the University of Washington- in three weeks." That was never in the plan. College was never something that Ness and I had ever factored into our agenda- or at least I hadn't. Turns out, she had been looking at things a bit differently than I had all along. "Please don't be upset, Jake. This is just something that I have to do… If I, if I don't do it then I'll never know for sure… I mean, if I don't try things on my own for a while-"
"Won't know what for sure? Won't know whether or not we're meant to be together? Whether or not I'm the right choice to make?" I couldn't stop myself. I hadn't felt a rush of emotions this strong since the day she was born, the day my universe finally came together. And now, I felt the very ground we were sitting on fall from beneath me. "Ness, you don't have to go hundreds of miles away to figure that out! You don't have to run away from everything…"
Nessie reached out for me and I jerked away quickly, scrambling to stand. "Jacob, please!" She choked out and followed me. I hadn't even realized that I was walking away until I heard her behind me. "You promised me! You promised you wouldn't leave me, Jacob." I whipped back around, barely able to contain the tears threatening to spill from me own eyes.
"What, like you're doing me? Renesmee, you don't seem to understand that you're… You're my…" I ran both fists through my hair before continuing. "Just go. Just go and see what the rest of the world may have that is so much more than what I can offer you." I waved my arms to our surroundings. "This is all I can give you, Ness." I held my hand to my chest. "This is all I have for you."
She was sobbing now. And it took everything I had not to pull her to me and remind her that everything would be alright- that I would make everything alright for her. But I couldn't lie to her. There was no way I could convince her if I didn't even know myself. "So that's it? You don't even stay to hear me out?" Her hiccups were dividing her sentences up into broken phrases. "Maybe I should just go then!"
"Yeah, I guess you should!" Before I thought better of it, I was phasing into wolf form and sprinting through the woods. I had no idea where I was going, but I knew that I had to leave.
I hadn't spoken to Jake since school had started and I honestly couldn't describe the hole that had formed where he used to be. The hardest part of it all was that Washington was great. I had met so many amazing people and learned so many amazing things, and the first person I wanted to share them with was hundreds of miles away. And he was completely unwilling to listen to me. I could only imagine the amount of pain he was feeling, but wouldn't even take my phone calls. The only ways that I knew he was alright were through my periodic phone calls to Seth. We'd become really close over the years, and of the boys in the pack, I was probably closest to him.
"Yeah, Ness, he's doing alright. He's actually working with some guys in town on a business plan. He's thinking of starting his own shop, right off of the rez! It's gonna be great if he can pull it off. I've never seen him so driven before. The man's like a machine." I held onto his every word. Jake was throwing himself into something productive, which I was glad to hear. In a way I was hoping I would hear something worse. Something that let me know he was feeling just as lousy as I was.
"That's great. I'm so happy for him." I worked myself up enough to feign happiness for Seth's sake. And I was happy for him, but I really wished he would speak to me or something.
"He's still having a hard time, you know. You're his soul mate, Nessie. Every day you two are apart is like a little something breaks in him." I felt the familiar prickling of tears burning the rim of my eyelids, but I refused to let them fall this time. My aunts had both urged me to stop allowing myself to feel this overwhelming guilt when I came home for Thanksgiving break. After dinner (hunting for us, but those were just details), we (along with my mother) had slipped into conversation about Jake, and I had let it slip that we still hadn't spoken since summer. My father, of course, had been poking around my thoughts for long enough to know that already though.
"Renesmee," Aunt Rose had begun "if you don't see the world on your own now, how can you ever make a full commitment to him? Won't you feel like you're just settling without knowing what else there is out there?" This reasoning had made all the sense in the world when they were urging me to apply to colleges in the first place, but now, it was all getting a little blurry.
I directed my attention back on Seth, who despite his best efforts had a very short phone attention span. "I know, Seth. I just wish he'd talk to me or something. But enough about me- what about you that little slice of Heaven, Aubrey?" Seth had just imprinted a month ago on Aubrey Ateara, one of Quil's distant cousins, and couldn't stop asking me for love advice. Not that my romance was a picture of health or anything, but still.
He launched into telling me a story about how he took her down to the garage to see the bike he was working on (with Jake's guidance) and how excited she had been about the prospect of riding it together someday. She was a precious girl with a big heart, I knew from the last time I came to the reservation. She had long curly jet black hair and a shy smile, the perfect compliment to Seth's effervescence. I was excited for the two of them. "And anyways, you have to come over when you come home for Christmas! When does your break begin, anyways?"
"I take my last final on Friday morning and I'll be on the first train out that afternoon." I beamed into the receiver at the thought of coming back home for longer than two days and seeing the people I loved so much… Some of them at least.