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What Music They Make

Summary:
When an unexpected conflict with the Volturi brings Jacob back into her life, Bella finds that being a vampire only makes it even more complicated for her to be in love with two people.


Notes:


15. XIV: Silenzio

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chapter XIV silenzio



Without love it was very quiet.

Somehow it felt like this was her last chance to save herself. Finding whatever there was left of herself after everything she had given away. She did not have Edward and she did not have Jacob. But she had Bella.

For four days she had been coming by her mother’s house and watching her water her plants, make lemon cake and shrimp pasta, and dust off framed photos including many of Bella as a little girl or high school student and a wedding picture of her and Edward. Though the sight of Renée kept bringing a swelling, wistful sadness, it was also reassuring to be able to see her still going on with life. She could understand very much now what Jacob had meant about it being hard but also necessary and helpful to be able to keep seeing her.

She had a room on one of the highest floors of a hotel with a balcony that overlooked a view of the ocean miles away. It felt incredibly liberating to be able to do practically nothing, and she spent lots of time just standing in the safe privacy of the hotel room watching the distant waves move in the sunlight. She idly looked at herself in the mirror, doing her hair different ways she’d never done it before even though she wasn’t going anywhere, finally leaving them in two long braids which somehow made her look like an unfamiliar person.

She had forgotten how beautiful it could be in sunny regions, how much she used to love places like this. The sky here looked like a completely different sky than the one she usually knew, dauntingly big and robin-egg blue. It wasn’t long before she gave up being thoroughly cautious about going outside; she went out in the evening to buy a parasol and started lying under it out on her balcony during the day, wearing the outfit she’d brought that kept the most of her skin covered just in case anyone else outside was able to see her. Even though she could not feel the sun this way, it was an unusual luxury just to be able to relax outside soaking up this kind of warmth, reading a book or listening to music on her headphones with her eyes closed.

On her fifth evening there, she kneeled on the edge of the balcony and looked over at all of the people she could see moving around, as small as ants but with every detail down to hair color visible to her. On a sudden whim, she went back inside to get the notebook out of her carry-on bag which already had a few pages filled with doodles she’d made on the flight over. She started sketching various things she could see far away — a dog and its owner, a couple walking together, a mother and her baby.

Then as it started getting dimmer, the sky ignited into the most beautiful sunset she could remember seeing in years, burning with fierce colors that spread like bright wet stains of dye in cloth and danced below where they were reflecting on the sparkling waves in the ocean. She just stopped and stared at it until the sky completely darkened into all-too-familiar night, and then she immediately left to see if she could find a place to buy some certain things at this hour. She thought she knew now what she wanted to try to do with her time away.

Two days later Alice called, sounding confused almost to an extent of frustration.

“You’re painting?” she demanded, as if even as she could see exactly what Bella was doing in her mind the concept just did not make any sense to her.

“Yes,” Bella answered calmly, grinning with amusement as she paced leisurely around her room. “I really like it, actually. I don’t feel as ridiculous trying to do it well as I used to. It was the same when Jasper asked me to draw those pictures of the Volturi.”

“How many other talents and powers are you going to discover you have really late?” Alice teased. “I never knew you were artistic.”

She shrugged even though Alice couldn’t see her. “Neither did I. Though I did take some art classes in high school and had a couple teachers try to tell me I was. But I...”

“Couldn’t believe it,” Alice said with a slight tone of knowing annoyance.

She laughed.

“Well, couldn’t you come home and continue your new hobby here?” Alice continued. “He’s not insanely desperate to have you back with him yet, but Edward can’t help but get a little nervous and disturbed when you’re away for so long. You know...a littleannoying...”

Bella giggled a little again and said, “It’s not like anything can happen to me.”

“That’s what I’m trying to tell him, but maybe it’s just an old habit for him to worry about you. I don’t know, I guess the irrational fear that bothers him now instead of that is that you’re just going to leave him or something.”

There was a dark silence. Bella looked down at the clean ivory carpet, biting her lip, and then Alice spoke again first.

“Sorry,” she said. “I wasn’t meaning to make you feel bad.”

“It’s okay...I don’t know, Alice. I was planning to stay a few more days. I can’t exactly paint a pretty-looking sunrise in Forks.”

“Sure you can. Just make one up in your head.”

Bella grinned, shaking her head. “I’ll see you soon.”

She heard Alice sigh. “Okay.”

“Give everyone my love. Especially your annoying brother.”

“Sure,” she said with a laugh before hanging up.

Despite what she told Alice, she stopped painting things she saw after a while and instead did pictures from her imagination or memory. She painted a dark, foreboding forest like no place in the real world where she used to go all the time in dreams. Even though it was not a very happy place to think about, she wanted to try to imagine it again, and what she would be doing there if she dreamed about it again now.

She got bored with everything on her mp3 player and went out to a music store one night. Edward would buy stacks of fifteen CDs at a time, but she never knew where to start when looking for new music she might like. She could never even be sure if he already had something she was interested in. She did something she never would have been willing to do a few years ago and started conversations with friendly-looking strangers to find out what they thought was good. One man recommended a CD by a 60’s British band which he said was “one of the most unfluential rock albums of all time,” in a very important-sounding way. The cover art was a kaleidoscope of neon colors all swirling and bleeding into each other.

I’m pretty sure Edward would hate this, she thought with an inner laugh as she looked at it. If she knew her husband at all, he was the biggest anti-hippie imaginable. With a small smile to herself she added it to her shopping basket.

After more than a week of being away, she realized with some alarm she could almost do this forever.

It wasn’t as if Edward was the only one having difficulty and feeling strange while they were apart. It wasn’t as if she wasn’t a little lonely never talking to anyone she was used to seeing every day. Every step she took felt a little disorienting and unfamiliar, as if she wasn’t quite used to independently supporting all of her own weight. As she listened to her headphones with her mind drifting, there were Edward songs and there were Jacob songs. She noticed things everywhere that reminded her of one of them or which she knew one of them would think was funny. Never both of them at the same time.

Bella’s feeling of peace here didn’t last past the eighth night.

There was an old red car. It was one of the only vehicles in a large parking lot by a strip mall very early in the morning when there was still an hour of darkness left. Here a vampire couldn’t have the convenience of running from place to place concealed by forest, and even at this time of night Bella had to just walk at a moderate pace for most of the time as she made her way back to the hotel from the beach in case she was seen.

As she was crossing the lot, she realized first that there was someone in this car, breathing slow and relaxed breaths, and saw when she looked that there was a motionless man sitting in the front. She could smell all the alcohol on his breath and in his system from where was walking thirty feet away; he had probably stayed here to sleep it off instead of drive in his condition, if he hadn’t simply passed out.

Then she just as quickly noticed something very wrong. It was not one pattern of breathing from far away she could hear, but two. One much quicker, much less easy and calm. And every few seconds this other breathing she could hear came in uncontrolled, high gasps that sounded distinctly female. Someone was crying.

As Bella turned and quickly approached the car, she became aware of a weak but unmistakable scent. Blood. Fairly fresh blood. She felt strangely detached from her body, as if she was walking through an unbelievable dream that just couldn’t be happening, as she leaned her head over the trunk to listen closely.

Yes. Bella’s eyes widened as she heard what she had dreaded she would — that sound, clearly coming from here inside it. Putting a hand to her face, she gasped and muttered into it, “Oh my God...”

All the car windows were down and in a couple seconds she was able to take the keys from the ignition without disturbing the passed-out driver at all. Even though she was certainly strong enough to break open the trunk without unlocking it, this wouldn’t look as strange.

When she opened the trunk, she first had to stop and adjust to the stronger scent, impulsively holding her breath. Then she took in the sight of the girl: dirty blonde hair in a mess covering half of her face, bruised everywhere, hands tied behind her back, mouth gagged. No older than thirteen. Her eyes looked heartbreakingly dead inside watery pools of tears, until the second they saw her and they immediately widened.

“Shhh,” Bella said softly before she made any sound, gently brushing her hair away from her face. “It’s okay. You’re going to be okay...”

As Bella untied her, the girl’s eyed darted fearfully behind her and she looked like she could barely register what was happening or manage to speak.

“What’s your name?” Bella whispered.

The girl swallowed deeply, taking a moment to find her voice before she faintly whispered, “Jane.”

Bella froze for a split second at hearing the name. Then she just blinked and swiftly, very carefully lifted her out of the car. As Bella easily carried her away, Jane just closed her eyes and went limp except where her arms clung to her, barely staying conscious.

Bella reached the hotel in three minutes. When she came in and set the girl down in a chair, the woman at the front desk went white.

“Call the police,” Bella told her. The woman looked like she wanted to ask ten different questions first, but after a brief hesitation she quickly picked up the phone.

Across from the desk, a man who was restocking a vending machine had frozen and was staring at them. Bella ran over to the opened machine and took a bottled water from it, screwing off the cap as she took it back to the chair.

“Here, honey, drink this,” she said, handing it to the girl. “Do you know how long you were in there?”

She weakly took a drink, her hands trembling around the bottle. “I don’t know...They knocked me out...I was...”

They? There were others besides the one guy?”

She took a shaky breath. “One...There were two of them...”

Bella ran back out of the hotel before anyone had the chance to shout any questions after her.

She found the man still out cold in the car. She opened the door and yanked him out by the arm so fast he woke with a startled yelp, breaking a knee right away when he hit the concrete. This wasn’t happening.

Jesus!” he roared, not getting a chance to turn his head and look at her before she grabbed it and smashed his nose into the ground.

Right before speaking she reached into his head, manipulating his thoughts so that to him her voice would sound masculine and huge, terrifying. She wasn’t Bella. This wasn’t happening.

“The other one who was with you when you took her!” she shouted. “Who is he? Where is he?”

He squirmed and struggled on the ground, trying in vain to turn his head as she kept holding it down. “Who the—?!”

She only had to hit him one more time before he spit it out almost too quickly for her to understand — someone named Shaw who lived in an apartment just three blocks away. Then she had him knocked out and sitting back in the car as he had been before, without ever having gotten a look at her, just in time for her to make it back to the hotel right before the police arrived.

The girl was quickly identified as Jane Healey, who had been missing for over 24 hours. Bella found herself riding in the ambulance with her to the hospital. She had been locked up in the trunk for so long that she was severely dehydrated.

As Bella waited in the hospital, a very confused police officer immediately started asking her about every detail and trying to make sense of her partially fabricated story. He clearly thought she was crazy for taking the kidnapper’s keys right from the car while he was asleep in it after she heard noises from his trunk.

She shrugged, trying to convincingly look like she was only now realizing how stupid it might have been. “I was afraid he might wake up and leave before I could get to a phone...I’m sorry, could you excuse me a minute?”

She dashed off toward the bathroom, waiting until the officer had looked away and then running right past it to find a way out of the building. The streets were still quiet, the light outside still very dim, and it was still easy enough for her to move fast and make sure she wasn’t seen.

The apartment door at the address the man had told her wasn’t even locked when she found it and silently slipped inside. A television was on, a shower running in the next room. Bella thought of herself at age thirteen and this girl’s wrists bleeding from the ropes and had to tell herself she wasn’t here to do anything to him. She was still walking outside of herself, feeling detached from reality.

She found a wallet thrown on the couch, opened it up and looked at the driver's license inside. Joseph H. Shaw. Too easy. She slipped it in her pocket and swiftly crept back out the door.

When she came back to the hospital, there was a couple there talking to the doctor and wiping at their wet eyes. The doctor noticed her approaching and said, “There, that’s her." All at once the woman came forward and grasped her in a tight hug and Bella realized these had to be the girl’s parents.

“You are an angel,” she said as Bella’s eyes went wide. "What you did...I can't believe anyone would do that..."

The close smell of blood distracted her for a second before Bella relaxed enough to tentatively return the hug. “I’m so sorry,” she said.

The woman broke away from her and said, "I'm Kathy. This is Grant."

"Bella," she replied as the father shook her hand, holding it tight in both of his for a second.

“Please, if there’s anything we can do to thank you...”

She shook her head. “Oh no. No. I just...Sorry, I think they still have some questions to ask me...”

She turned away and went to the officer who was still waiting for her, trying to look a little nervous now. “Sir...Listen.” She took the wallet out of her pocket and handed it to him. “The girl told me there was another guy besides the one you already took in. This was sitting on the passenger seat and it doesn't seem to be his.”

He opened up the wallet and looked at the ID, immediately giving her a puzzled and shocked look.

“I...was stealing it,” she said quietly, putting on a guilty look. “That’s how I got close enough to hear her kicking around in there. I’m sorry I didn’t say anything sooner—”

“Right,” he said quickly, eyes still wide. “Thanks. I don’t think we need anything else now, you can leave....Jesus...Hey, Caplan!” he called urgently to another cop as he quickly left her side.

She sighed and sank into a chair as she was finally left alone.

People kept talking restlessly around her, a white buzz of noise. The thick, dark clouds in her head cleared, exposing the nightmare that had just happened as exactly what it was as the time crawled to morning. She waited to find out that Jane was going to be okay. She stayed there in the chair feeling frozen with shock, fiddling with her wedding ring or sometimes her bracelet, feeling like she couldn’t move from this spot. She didn’t know why.

If Edward were there, she knew he would have shed nothing but bright light on the whole thing. What’s wrong? Are you so shocked to discover that you’re still capable of being good that all of your faith in yourself suddenly depends on this child being all right? If it were me, you know, I probably would have just killed both of them, but you...

Jacob would have acted like he was taking everything lightly, making it seem like it wasn't that big a deal after all. So saving my ass with your special vampire powers gave you a taste for heroism, did it? You should get yourself a cape...Come on, Bells, you know there was no other way to handle it. You had to do it. But it’s over now.

Just thinking about them like this and imagining their words slowly calmed her. But at the same time, it made her miss them so terribly it was as if she had not seen either of them in years.

Right before Bella needed to leave because the sun was coming up, Jane was awake and asked to see her to say goodbye. They didn’t talk about what had happened. Her father had brought her favorite teddy bear to her, and Bella asked about the tiny gold necklace with a bluebird charm around its neck.

“I’ve had it since I was really little,” she explained, her voice hollow and tired. “The chain doesn’t fit me anymore, so now my bear wears it.”

Before Bella was about to leave, Jane insisted she keep the necklace as a gift. Bella was disarmed by the almost careless way she offered it to her, seeing that it must have meant a lot to her before and over a couple days had become nothing. How could she take it?

But it seemed to mean a lot to her that she be able to give Bella something, at least, so she smiled and thanked her.

That evening as her plane took off into the sky, she did not stare out the window but just looked forward. She was definitely quite ready to go home.

Edward was already waiting outside, looking anxious, when she pulled up the driveway of the immense white house she was so happy to see again. She knew he had to have seen everything that happened because of Alice, and she might never have been so relieved to not have to explain something in her life. She got out of the car and went to meet him right away, leaving the car door open behind her, and they embraced warmly without having to say anything.

He could tell how upsetting her experience had been just because of the way she buried herself in him, so desperate to feel something secure again. “Oh, Bella,” he said into her hair, squeezing her tighter.

“I missed you,” she said.

Emmett had already come outside and was opening up Bella’s trunk. “Alice said you had a lot to unload,” he said.

Bella turned around to see him. “Well, sort of...I brought back some of the things I painted.”

Damn,” he said, uncovering one of the canvases to see a detailed forest landscape. “Yeah, you sure did.”

Edward and Bella laughed softly.

“He’ll get it,” Edward said to her. “Come on.”

They went inside and sat down together, joining all the others who were home. Bella knew that the kind of risk she had taken by doing what she did for the young girl wasn’t something any of them could afford to turn into a habit, and she had been a little worried about what some of them would think of it. But Esme and Carlisle both seemed brimming with pride for her. Emmett was even very amused by the idea of the first man they had arrested having a crazy story about how he got beat up that wouldn’t make any sense to anyone.

A while later, Bella and Edward went upstairs together and Edward spent a long time looking at all of the paintings she had brought into their room. Most of them depicted real places but they all looked at least a little dreamlike and surreal, the colors she'd used evoking intense moods, and they were all easily identifiable as coming from the same unique point of view. He sat back on the couch next to her, continuing to look at them lined up against the shelves from afar.

“Did you ever consider doing anything in the arts at all?” he asked, crossing his arms thoughtfully.

“No,” Bella answered. “Not really.”

He smiled. “It doesn’t particularly surprise me that you have had this kind of hidden talent all along. You have always been good at expressing yourself. You write beautiful letters.”

Bella shook with a short laugh. “When have I ever written you letters?”

“In school,” he said, looking like he thought this should be obvious, “when we gave each other notes in between classes.”

She raised an eyebrow. “If you say so.”

“There you go,” he said teasingly, “doubting yourself as usual. Which is another reason I wouldn’t be surprised for you to discover just about anything you’re capable of.”

“Give me some credit,” she said with a smile. “I’ve gotten better.”

He smiled back. “Yes, you have. In fact...perhaps a certain kind of understanding of yourself is all you've been missing to be a very subtly manipulative force. Maybe you're not any good at lying on purpose, but the way you act and talk has never given a very good impression of what you are really like. You're the kind of person who nobody would ever guess is a danger, who simply stays quiet while nobody realizes you're paying close attention and observing everything they do to use it against them. The way you can control people now is a quite passive-aggressive kind of offense because it only works on someone when they are not even aware of your influence. And it works because people tend to never be able to suspect what you are really thinking— I should know.”

She laughed. “I guess I see the logic there.”

He nodded. “Your real self is always so locked away...sometimes even to you,” he said, and then looked back at one of her paintings. “But when and only when you do wish for your thoughts to be known, you are quite gifted at saying or showing what is in your mind, in one way or another.”

Bella kept looking to the side at him, her eyes widening just a little with a complete realization. Of course. It was like she had understood this, deep inside, for a long time. Ever since Jacob had asked about it and planted the question in her head...

He found her intense gaze on him and looked back at her. “What?” he asked.

She reached forward and took his face in her hands. “I’m ready to show you something now,” she said quietly, looking at him closely with concentration. His expression was questioning, but he waited and didn't say anything.

She didn't know exactly how she knew she could do it. She just suddenly had complete confidence about it. She closed her eyes and thought of all she had seen the whole time they were away. She concentrated on images of the beach and the city, the things in her mother’s house, and all the people she had met. She remembered the mixture of liberation and pain it gave her to be there away from him. All of this she remembered and let him remember it, too, gently pressing herself into his mind to make it feel as if he had been there in her shoes himself.

And she thought of saving the young girl. Not simply the memories, the images of what had occurred that he had already seen, but everything she had felt afterwards and what it had meant to her. Sitting in that hospital, she had been unable to stop thinking about how easily she’d hurt that human and how easy it would have been to do even worse to him. Because whether or not they deserved it was not the point. This was what she had hated so much about using her powers against others in the first place. This was what had brought Edward back to his family again many years ago after he’d run away. This was why he and Jacob had begged her not to join the Volturi even though they knew she would always be good. The things she did to other people because she was powerful enough to and could hate them enough to, over time, could hurt her just as much as it hurt the ones who had it coming to them.

Bella had accepted this kind of danger when she became more than just human, and she had now returned to her family finally understanding that this was what their kind had to be careful about all the time. She would always have to be afraid of what she might turn into and what she was capable of, even if she had still never crossed the line. She had learned in the last few weeks that even her choices had so much more power than she’d ever realized—that she did always have choices, possibly with shattering consequences. But all of this meant that she also had the power to do good.

As she illustrated all of these realizations in Edward’s head, he raised his hands to her wrists and grasped them. His eyes were open but unfocused, looking just like Alice’s did when she was seeing something in the future. Then when Bella was finished and the flow of images and thoughts stopped, he blinked and looked right into her face. They kept looking at each other in realization for what seemed like a long time.

So much happened just in that moment. The significance this had to them changed everything, and they knew it.

Edward put his hand to her face, looking like he would be crying if he could. "Finally I can see what is in your head," he sighed heavily. His words ended with her mouth covering his.

And maybe it all made sense. Aro saying it almost seemed like she was meant to become one of them. Her being his singer and the only exception to his talent, practically drawn to him through bad luck because of how she had always seemed to attract danger, and even having some kind of predisposition that made it easier for her to stay in control when she became a vampire.

It was as if they had been made to compliment one another, the weakness in his talent being the strength of hers. In that moment, it felt like they had always been meant for each other.

For the first two days she was back, Bella spent time only with the Cullens. Edward never asked what she knew he had to be wondering.

She was very happy again, but things were not complete. It was as if she still hadn’t completely come home yet.

She tried not to go to Jacob. She knew it could be time to get used to the idea of letting go again, and for all she knew he would appreciate a more clean break. But after spending so much time distractedly wondering about him, she knew it was futile. So much had changed between her and Jacob since they’d started seeing each other again, and she still didn’t know where exactly it was going. She just wanted to see her friend. At least then she would know.

It warmed her heart in a certain indescribable way only this place ever would when she came to his house and found him in the garage. Even if many things were out of order and still in the dark, as long as Jacob could be found tinkering around and fixing things in his garage it meant the world was functioning as it’s supposed to.

Bella had been absolutely sure that Jacob would be understanding as long as she still hadn’t come to see him again after returning to Forks. What she certainly hadn’t expected was the look of unreserved joy and excitement that slowly lit up his face after he looked up and saw her approaching outside. Right away she had a strong impression that he himself was a little surprised by how happy he was to see her, after everything.

Nothing mattered. He walked out of the garage and right over to her and hugged her enthusiastically, picking her up off the ground and then swinging her around once while she tried to object but was smiling anyway.

“Jacob, you can’t—Hold on!” she said, almost overwhelmed as the scent of his blood hit her like a hard wall all over again.

“Oh,” he said, looking up at her guiltily as he remembered. “Sorry.”

But she had comfortably put her arms around his shoulders now and he could see she was in control, so he kept holding her like this.

“See, you’re okay,” he said encouragingly.

Hearing his voice was like ground holding her feet. She looked down at him, seeing the way his features all seemed to be weighed down a little less, even though his smile still wasn’t quite right. “You seem better,” she said.

“Yeah?” he said, setting her back down on the ground so that he towered over her again. “You look alright, too. Some sunshine must have done you good.”

She rolled her eyes at the obvious irony of his statement. “Well...maybe. My quiet little vacation ended up being a little more intense than I’d hoped.”

He raised his brow curiously. “Really? What happened?”

She looked at him hesitantly for a moment. Finally she smiled and shook her head. “It doesn’t really matter. How is everything here?”

They went inside as he told her how things had been going for the pack. Jared and Kim were getting married in a couple months and were going to have to choose a different best man because it was supposed to be Paul. Emily and Sam were going to name their baby Seth if it was a boy (Bella remembered what Alice had seen but kept it to herself when she heard this). Jacob was optimistic that he and Leah would be able to get along again someday as long as they could completely avoid bringing up the way they each felt about the Cullens.

“Oh wait, except we didn't exactly get along great before,” he said dryly.

Bella smirked, looking over at him as they were sitting on his bed. “At least I haven’t destroyed your friendship.”

“No, just turned me into a lousy leech lover just by comparison to her and the others. They can’t be thinking I’ve gone soft when I’m the one who leads the pack, dammit.”

“Hey, how do you think I feel being the family freak who thinks her werewolf friend smells delectable?” she said.

“Pretty appetized right now, I’m sure,” he said, holding his wrist right out in front of her nose.

She hit his hand away from her face. “You’re cruel!”

He chuckled, leaning back to lie across the bed. She joined him, lying back so they were both staring up at the ceiling.

“Jacob...you were right about me,” she said. “About how much I can do, I mean. During the fight, I didn’t really make you change back so I could save you. I just said something in your head without realizing it.”

He rolled his head to the side to look at her and smirked. “Told you. How did you figure that out?”

She shrugged. "I don't know, it just came pretty easily. I have a feeling once I've gotten more used to doing it, it'll be easier than just opening my mouth to tell somebody something."

"Heh. I bet Eddie's thrilled that he finally has some way to sort of know what you're thinking."

She smiled. "Yeah. He really is."

Jacob's face turned a little more gentle, and then it showed some faintly pained acceptance for a moment. "Well, that's good," he said softly.

She turned onto her side to face him. “Want to know something kind of funny?”

“What’s that?” he asked.

His expression changed as she started concentrating, his eyes looking past her as the images started going into his head. She thought of when she had found him there in the clearing and discovered where he was bitten, and then plunged into the very different kind of memory it had reminded her of. The first time she had almost kissed him, in her truck after he had taken her home. She remembered it very clearly; she had felt a little shaken after everything that had happened that day, her head still so full of the crushing waves that when she blinked the bruise-blue water in the storm was all she saw behind her eyelids. But when Jacob hugged her, the nervous feeling she had in her stomach was more like floating than drowning, and her heart beat like a bird pecking wildly against its cage. It had been more than just nervousness...

Then she let him see what she had been thinking about doing in that moment right before he turned away from her. Because it was kind of funny, really, where exactly she was going to kiss him and where she’d had to draw his blood out of the bite. And not funny at all.

And maybe it all made sense. Maybe things did not have to work out perfectly in the end, falling right into place as if the pull of destiny was arranging everything just so, for them to still have meaning. He’d been there in her life in the form of that truck she’d loved before she knew it. He was a mechanic when she’d needed a mechanic. And even now after she’d been turned, things kept compelling them to meet again. In a way Bella couldn’t even articulate to herself, she could see now because of these little connections that perhaps their suffering had never been a mistake. Right then, it felt like she was unmistakeably meant to be here with him.

Jacob was silent for a while after seeing all of the memory, looking a little awed as he kept staring past her. Then he looked into her face wistfully.

“Bella Swan,” he sighed. It was all he said.

"I'm sorry," she whispered.

"No, I'm glad you showed me. That's...Wow. Your head..."

She laughed softly at his inability to respond, and then he cracked a smile. They both rolled back onto their backs and stared up in silence again for a while.

“Do you have to work today?” she asked, wondering if she should leave soon. It felt like a strangely normal question to ask.

Jacob shook his head and then seemed to have a sudden thought. “Do you want to do something...you know...kind of fun?”

“Fun?” she echoed.

"Yeah," he said in an unsure tone. "I haven’t been out of the house to do much of anything lately. I don't know, what do vampires do when they've had a bad past few weeks and need to unwind?"

She shrugged. "I guess hunting is always pretty relaxing."

He looked at her with a raised eyebrow, obviously not prepared for that. "Hunting?"

"Sure. Hunting is fun. Especially if you can take a lot of time to try to find your favorite kind of prey."

He looked like he was trying to understand the concept for a while before deciding it made enough sense, but his face still expressed some kind of culture shock. "And what's your favorite? What animal tastes the best to you? Besides me..."

She laughed lightly and nudged him with her elbow. "I like deer and elk the best," she answered naturally.

"Deer and elk." His mouth tightened like he was trying not to laugh, perhaps as he tried to imagine her attacking a deer.

Something occurred to Bella and she said, "Hey...Do you still have our bikes?"

Slowly, and with just a little embarrassment, he smiled. "Yeah. They're still here. I’ve kept them in good shape, too."

"Do you want to go for a ride?" she asked. "I promise I won't hurt myself this time."

He laughed. "I think I can believe you this time.”

At first they started taking both of the motorcycles out of the garage, but Bella thought of how she would be able to safely go much faster than him and suggested an idea. He ended up riding in the seat behind her as she drove one, holding on tight to her waist as they whirled around the curves of the road effortlessly with the trees just a blur going past them.

They never talked about what they were going to do from now on. They had known how everything was going to be from the moment she had shown up outside his garage and all the sudden they both couldn't believe they'd gone four years without each other. Treaty or no treaty, there was one vampire who would always be welcome here as long as he was the protector in charge.

Sometimes, Bella thought, things are more worthwhile all because they surely can't last.