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Thoughts of a Dead Friend

Summary:
Jake thinks of Bella on her 19th birthday, knowing she is already -- technically -- dead. Post-Eclipse This is a companion story to Chapter 9 of "September 13th" -- but it can be read independently of that story.


Notes:
ATTENTION READERS: DO NOT STEAL MY STORIES. Someone has stolen some of my stories from this website and posted them as their own on fanfiction.net. It is plaigarism, it is stealing and it is illegal. Read, enjoy -- but don't steal. Post-Eclipse This story is a companion to Chapter 9 of another story I wrote, “September 13th” – however it can be read independently of that story without any consequence. This story was inspired, in part, by the song “Ballad for Dead Friends” by Dashboard Prophets – off the BtVS Radio Sunnydale soundtrack. Excerpts are quoted throughout.


1. Thoughts of a Dead Friend

Rating 4/5   Word Count 2286   Review this Chapter



* * *

It’s a cold day in a cruel world

I really wished I could have saved you

* * *

Jake stuffed another slice of pizza into his mouth, chewing loudly and smacking his lips together. The cheese was still hot – not yet congealed – and the crust was just perfectly crisp on the outside, and soft on the inside. The toppings-tomato sauce ratio was also perfectly proportioned. He swallowed, gulped down some soda, and then reached for another slice. He grinned sheepishly when he caught the amused expression on Chief Swan’s face.



“Sorry,” he muttered. “Hungry.”



Charlie laughed, then turned to his own slice of pizza. Jake and Billy had brought the food with them – dropping by for dinner unannounced. Charlie told them he didn’t mind. He didn’t have plans, anyway. Plus – he’d said – it would be nice having company for a change. He still hadn’t gotten used to the empty house since Bella had gotten married and moved away to college, he told them. And today was her birthday.



Jake cringed inwardly when Charlie relayed this news. He’d known, of course, deep down – but he’d been trying to forget. Trying to forget what this date implied. Yes, it was Bella’s 19th birthday. But she wasn’t actually turning 19. If everything had gone according to her wicked plan, she was already dead. Jake locked his jaw as a swell of grief washed through him, grimacing against the mental image of her crimson eyes and pale, porcelain skin and those purple bruises on her face. He didn’t want to think about it. He didn’t want to imagine the sour, sickly smell she must now emanate. He wanted to remember her alive – as he’d tried to keep her. Bright, pink and sweet. Breathing. With a heartbeat. And a pulse.



Jake forced himself to focus on dinner. He consumed almost an entire pizza by himself. Charlie just laughed and shook his head.




”Growing boys, right?” Billy said.



Charlie grinned and nodded in agreement.



* * *

Have you been dreaming?

I don't dream at all

I have nightmares

* * *



After dinner – Jake offered to take out the trash and wipe down – they turned on the Mariner’s game in the living room. They were doing well this year and if they kept things up, they might make it to the finals – maybe even the World Series. Jake didn’t really care that much about baseball – but it gave him something to talk about with Billy and Charlie; something to distract him from thinking about his dead friend.



But even baseball couldn’t make Charlie forget it was his only daughter’s birthday. He glanced up at the clock during the 7th inning stretch and announced he should give his little girl a call. “Before it gets too late, you know,” he said. “I’m sure she’s out celebrating.”



He picked up the phone and dialed, grinning at them as he listened to it ring. His face grew puzzled, however, as a muffled “Hello?” filtered through the phone.



“Bella?” Charlie didn’t seem certain it was his daughter. He listened another moment. “Bella, are you okay?”



Jake tensed, sitting up straighter. If anything had happened to her, he swore, he would tear that leech limb from limb. It was bad enough he had turned her into a vampire, but if anything had gone wrong – if he’d lost control, or … Jake noticed Billy glaring at him, one eyebrow raised, and forced himself to relax.



“Bella – oh, Edward. Hello. What’s going on?”



Jake’s ears perked up. If Edward had taken the phone away from her, she must not be herself. But of course she wasn’t herself, Jake thought. She was dead. A vampire.



“She sounds … well, she sounds out of it. You haven’t been drinking, have you? No fake IDs?” Charlie’s voice was drifting dangerously towards Police Chief mode. “Oh. Isn’t the drinking age 19 in Canada?”



Jake rolled his eyes. He seriously doubted that Bella was drunk. Charlie just couldn’t recognize the sound of his own daughter’s voice anymore. Because she wasn’t the same. She was dead. Jake closed his eyes, riding another wave of sorrow – tuning Charlie’s end of the conversation out. He remembered telling Bella once that he thought it would be better if she died – six feet under and all – than if she became a vampire. He’d felt horrible afterwards, especially after seeing her reaction. And he felt another twinge of guilt now as he considered the idea again; that maybe he had been right – no matter how hurtful his words had been.

“Happy birthday, Bella,” Charlie now said into the phone – his daughter back on the line. He warned her not to party too hard – to call when she felt better. He told her he loved her. Jake’s lips twisted in annoyance; he contemplated telling Charlie the truth – about werewolves and vampires and what his daughter was really up to in Alaska, if that was even where she’d actually gone. She’d never really told him, not that he’d bothered to ask. He’d been too busy sulking; torturing himself. She’d called him a masochist that last day. It had pissed him off, but she was right. He was a glutton for punishment.

“Hey – Jake’s here, with Billy. Do you want to say hello?”



Jake’s heart dropped into the pit of his stomach. He felt himself go flush and he swallowed loudly. Charlie was moving toward him, getting ready to hand over the phone. “Uh, no, really,” he said. “That’s okay – I really don’t want to. Another time.” Jake’s protests came out in half-sentences and ill-formed phrases. Charlie looked at him as if worms were crawling out of his eyeballs, but he shrugged and held the phone against his own ear.



“Oh right,” Charlie said. “Not a good idea tonight.” He laughed at something Bella must have said – or maybe just a thought he’d had. ”Well, anyway. I just wanted to wish you a happy birthday. You have fun, okay, kiddo? Be safe.”



Jake relaxed, a flood of relief filling him, when Charlie finally said goodbye and hung up the phone. The police chief chuckled as he plopped back onto the couch, taking the TV off of mute. Sounds from the ball game filled the room – the announcer and commentators, the crowds cheering, the smack of the ball on a wooden bat.



Charlie glanced over at Jake and Billy. “Apparently, my daughter is a little drunk tonight. They took her into Canada. I guess she can’t hold her liquor too well. She sounded real funny. Edward said she was just tipsy. One too many drinks.” He chuckled.



Jake rolled his eyes and gritted his teeth. Bella was not drunk – he knew that – because she was drinking a different kind of liquid these days. No, Bella was not drunk – but he wished he were. He could use a drink after this night. A stiff drink. He doubted Billy would approve or allow it, but maybe Sam might take pity on him. He’d have to remember to stop by after they got back to La Push. But more than anything, he just wanted to be alone.



The game was close, but fortunately the Mariner’s scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth and sealed the deal – a victory for the M’s without going into extra innings. That meant a victory for Jake, too – because it meant he could finally go home. Being in Bella’s old house was starting to get to him, making him feel claustrophobic. The ghost of her smell still lingered in the walls and furniture and it haunted him; it made him shiver for the first time since becoming a werewolf and he didn’t like it.



He breathed deeply when he and Billy stepped outside, savoring the smell of the earth and the trees – moist from a recent rainfall. When they got home, Jake helped his father inside and then excused himself. He needed to get away; he needed to be alone.



* * *

I'll never forget you

I really wished I could have saved you
* * *

Jacob ran. He did not transform; he wanted privacy. So he remained clothed and on two legs and just ran – feeling the wind whipping his hair and his skin, washing away the sweat on his brow. He’d taken his shoes off and he reveled in the feeling of the mud and sand between his toes and on the soles of his feet. When he reached the end of the woods, he stopped – looking out over a rocky cliff at First Beach below him. He scaled the rock face, jumping the last ten feet or so down to the sand. It would have been a risky climb for a normal person, but it was effortless for Jake. He inhaled the ocean air in deep, gulping breaths – as if trying to swallow the wind. With each gust – each breath – he felt restoration filling his body. But it was not enough to wash away his grief.



He walked towards the ocean and sat down at the water’s edge, letting the waves touch his toes, soaking the hem of his jeans. He wrapped his arms around his knees and looked out over the water. The sun had dipped below the horizon already, but a faint red glow still clung at the ocean’s edge – the rest of the sky already bathed in midnight and stars. It was a clear night; they were more common on the Olympic Peninsula during late summer like this. It always got nicer after Labor Day; after the tourists left.



Jake fell backwards and lay silently in the sand, turning his face to the darkened sky. He closed his eyes, letting his other senses grow stronger. He focused on the feeling of the sand on his back and his arms – each grain, each pebble. He tuned his ears into each wave that lapped at the shore. He savored the wind on his skin, like an invisible blanket. Like a lover’s arms. He imagined Bella’s arms – imagined his own arms wrapped around her, keeping her warm against the evening chill. As if she still needed warmth. As if she were still human; still with him – beside him. He squeezed his eyes shut more tightly, willing the emotion to stay away. But there was too much, and slowly the tears began to come – one at a time, spilling over and running down his bronzed cheeks.



He opened his eyes again, blinking up at the stars – blinking away the tears that made his vision go blurry. He imagined her face in the sky – the blush of her cheeks, the way her hair would tangle at the slightest breeze. How she would stumble over the tiniest bramble. And how he always managed to catch her – at least, when it had been just the two of them. He didn’t want to think about the other set of arms that also always managed to catch her. Cold arms. Stone arms. Just like hers, now, too, Jake imagined.



He didn’t want her to be cold or stone. He wanted her to be warm and soft – as he remembered her; as he’d always wanted her. Even now, he still craved the feeling of her hand on his arm or tangled in his hair. He remembered the way her lips had once felt against his, hot and moving against his mouth. He remembered how it was when she’d finally stopped resisting; when she’d finally given in. And even then – even after she realized how much she truly loved him – she still rejected him. She still chose that other life; that other man.



“I hope you’re happy,” Jake said to the wind, his voice bitter. He sat up, running his fingers through his hair to knock out the sand. He stared out at the ocean, not ready to go home yet. Not ready for company. “I really wished I could have saved you, Bella.”



As he watched the waves continue rolling in, Jake’s sorrow turned to anger. Rage colored his vision red and the tears falling down his cheeks turned hot, even against his skin. He yawped – a guttural sound of Walt Whitman* – and yowled and screamed and ran into the water, crashing through the waves. He ran until he could run no more, until the water grew too deep and his feet no longer touched the ocean floor. Then he floated up on his back and let the waves carry him back to shore – then pull him away – then carry him back. Over and over again, until his back rested against solid ground once again. And then he refused to move, letting the waves continue rolling over and around him. Washing away his sorrow; cleansing him.



So this is grief, he thought. This is sorrow. This is what it feels like to lose a friend.



“I’ll never forget you, Bella,” he said, whispering to the moon. “But I really wished I could have saved you. I wish I’d saved you … I wish I’d saved you.”



The words repeated on his lips, a prayer. An oath. A broken promise. A vow.



A breath. A beat. A pulse.



The waves continued their relentless break upon the shore.



“I wish I could have saved you.”



* * *

The End

* * *