A portion of the tent scene -- from Edward's point of view.
1. Uncomfortable Truce
Rating 4.5/5 Word Count 3832 Review this Chapter
This was torture; an absolute and complete nightmare.
The wind outside the tent howled and moaned, singing a song of desperation and pain; the wisps of its fingers clutched the tent walls viciously, causing the entire makeshift home to shudder in its grasp. Night’s coolness was setting in – I could practically feel each blade of grass freeze, chilled dew cover every surface it could manage to reach.
But it wasn’t myself that I feared for; I could easily withstand Mother Nature’s most horrendous bluster – save fire, perhaps.
No, it was my Bella who I worried about.
Even in the pitch black tent, my sharp eyes caught every shiver that ran down Bella’s spine. My ears could hear when her teeth chattered and when she rustled uncomfortably within the sleeping bag. And it was the most awful form of torture, for I couldn’t do a single thing to help her.
Sitting in the far corner of the tent, I was afraid of making her any colder than she already was; she could hardly enjoy my snow-cold arms around her currently freezing body. I’d already attempted, multiple times, to convince her of returning to La Push, or my family’s home – anywhere warmer than our present location. But, as adamantly as she could through rattling teeth, she refused any suggestion I made.
To make matters worse, the retched dog refused to cease his whimpering – both in sound and thought.
“W-w-w-w-w-what t-t-t-t-time is it?” Bella asked. The words sounded immensely difficult for her to form.
Do something already, bloodsucker. I’m obviously in no position to help, at the moment.
I closed my eyes and pinched the bridge of my nose in a futile attempt to diminish my frustration. I wasn’t quite sure who I was most annoyed with: Jacob and his incessant remarks; the weather, for being so freezing and unkind; or myself and my stupidity at not preparing and packing for such an extremely low temperature.
As the battle between the three raged on in my head, Bella moaned quietly. She probably hadn’t even realized she had done it in the first place, but the action was enough for my thoughts to return to their previous ideas.
“No, I’m f-f-f-f-f-fine, r-r-r-really. I don’t w-w-w-want to g-go outside,” she cut me off, mustering up as much passion for her words as possible. It wasn’t much.
But her sentence contradicted with the way she spoke it; clearly, she was not fine.
“What can I do?” I spoke aloud, distraught with the thought of being able to do nothing for my Bella.
Damn it, just do something already… can’t you hear the way she’s stuttering? If I was in there with her, I sure as hell would be trying to warm her up, somehow…
Jacob’s continuous thoughts were accompanied by a sad whine.
“G-g-g-get out of h-h-h-ere,” Bella tried to order him in a weak voice.
As if I could leave with her in this state… that’s absolutely ridiculous…
“He’s just worried about you,” I spoke for him. “He’s fine. His body is equipped to deal with this.”
“H-h-h-h-h-h.” I wasn’t quiet sure what Bella was trying to say, but it was most likely another effort at ordering him to leave; I couldn’t say I completely disagreed with her.
An image of Bella flew through Jacob’s mind, and therefore entered my own as well. It was a picture I had seen only once before – but ever since, it had haunted my thoughts, a grim reminder of the worst mistake I had ever made. The image was of Bella, lying in the forest, shivering and damp. When Jacob had first presented me the memory, he had not been slow to equip me with the reason for Bella’s depressed and crumbled appearance. That was how she looked not half a day after I left Forks for Bella’s safety.
I wasn’t completely sure why Jacob was thinking of that time in Bella’s life – the time which neither of us had ever truly spoken of in depth. But his thoughts explained his mind’s recent flash to the past.
I bet I know how she looks… just like when Sam first found her… all shivering and shaking, torn up… god damn it, can’t he do anything?! I mean, can’t you do anything, bloodsucker?!
Jacob’s thoughts, as well as his incredibly loud whimper, sent me over the edge of calm and tumbling into the waters of annoyance.
“What do you want me to do?” I said furiously. “Carry her through that? I don’t see you making yourself useful. Why don’t you go fetch a space heater or something?”
Jacob growled, low and throaty, so Bella couldn’t hear him.
“I’m ok-k-k-k-k-k-kay,” Bella insisted – but she fooled neither Jacob nor I. Unable to contain it any longer, I groaned at Bella’s persistent stubbornness.
Well, damn it, leech, if you’re not going to do anything to help her, then I sure as hell will have to… I do have a parka, after all…
And with those enraged thoughts, Jacob howled, his voice carrying along easily with the wind. I saw Bella’s hands rise to shield her ears from the noise.
“That was hardly necessary,” I muttered, considering how Bella’s body shook more violently now that more of her body was exposed. “And that’s the worst idea I’ve ever heard,” I called to Jacob. In all honesty, the thought of an extra coat for Bella wasn’t completely disastrous; in fact, it would keep her quite warm.
“Better than anything you’ve come up with,” Jacob answered, the sound of his human voice causing Bella to visibly flinch in shock. “Go fetch a space heater… I’m not a St. Bernard.”
While he spoke the truth, Jacob wasn’t completely righteous in his accusation. He was, after all, a dog.
The zipper of the tent came undone as Jacob crawled through the smallest opening he could enter through, careful to stop any wind from entering the already cold space. Though his efforts meant well, I saw Bella shiver uncontrollably inside her sleeping bag, and instantly, I became irritated.
“I don’t like this,” I complained as Jacob zipped the tent door to its original closed position. The putrid scent of werewolf permeated the tiny, enclosed space, and my nose wrinkled in disgust. “Just give her the coat and get out.”
Jacob glared at me from the tent door and narrowed his eyes. I try to help Bella, and this is the thanks I get. I suppose I should quit expecting anything even remotely appreciative from you, bloodsucker. “The parka’s for tomorrow – she’s too cold to warm it up by herself. It’s frozen.” The coat hit the tarp-covered ground with a thunk. “You said she needed a space heater, and here I am.”
As much as I hated to admit it, Jacob had a decent argument. Being a werewolf, he was continually warm, over ten degrees above average on any given day. If he was to lie down in the corner opposite me, he would do a fairly good job of heating the tent and helping to provide comfort to Bella – my Bella.
“J-J-J-J-Jake, you’ll f-f-f-freez-z-z-ze,” Bella’s small voice complained from the sleeping bag.
“Not me,” Jacob replied, his voice entirely too happy for my liking. “I run at a toasty one-oh-eight point nine these days. I’ll have you sweating in no time.” I’m sure she’ll enjoy that, right, Edward? He thought my name mockingly.
I snarled; Jacob’s teeth flashed as he grinned in my direction. Then, he turned toward Bella and began unzipping her sleeping bag.
And instantly, my disposition toward his health – and life – grew deadly.
With speed only a vampire can attribute, I shot up from my place in the corner and pressed a hand on his shoulder.
The contrast between our skins’ color, as well as temperature, was startling. His flesh burned beneath mine with such heat, such warmth; it was entirely different from the feeling of Bella’s skin in contact with my own. With Bella, her heat was a pleasant temperature; it set off a multitude of emotions throughout my body. Passion, contentedness, desire… love.
But with Jacob, his skin was hot – literally scorching my own. Rather than pleasurable warmth, it resembled fire. It burned my own chilled skin, and its heat only increased my own fury – because his heat was the reason I was grasping him so tightly and angrily in the first place.
Jacob slowly swiveled his head to meet mine; I felt his muscles tense beneath my fingers.
“Get your hand off of me,” he growled. I swear, bloodsucker, let go of me before Bella sees an entirely different fight than she’s planning on avoiding tomorrow…
“Keep your hands off of her,” I answered simply, allowing venom to seep into my words.
“D-d-d-don’t f-f-f-f-fight,” Bella whispered below us. I watched as another shudder took hold of her body, and, unable maintain control, she was suddenly thrashing violently.
Do you really want her to spend the entire night like this, leech? “I’m sure she’ll thank you when her toes turn black and drop off,” Jacob replied viciously, completely aware that he was taunting me.
I took another look at Bella, who was still trying to recover from her recent spasm, before clenching my teeth and dropping my hand from Jacob’s shoulder. Bella meant more to me than anything in this world – and if this is what it took to keep her safe and healthy, then I had to live with the consequences of my actions. The consequences being Jacob’s extremely close proximity to her.
As I took my original spot in the corner of the tent, I warned Jacob, “Watch yourself.”
He chuckled. I believe I’ll be too busy watching Bella for that, parasite. I clenched my fists to restrain from throttling him.
“Scoot over, Bella,” Jacob spoke to her, continuing to unzip the sleeping bag.
I watched as Bella stared at him, shocked and livid as she realized what Jacob was planning to do. I smiled as she began protesting; at least she wouldn’t be spending the night completely at ease in his arms.
“Don’t be stupid,” Jacob said, clearly annoyed. I knew she was stubborn, but honestly, how do you put up with it? “Don’t you like having all ten toes?”
Then, I had nothing to do but sit back and watch in gruesome agony as Jacob slipped himself into the nonexistent space beside Bella, the two of them pressed tight to one another. Bella’s body seemed to relax into his; I imagined the warmth would feel good after being so cold. Jealousy swept through the gut of my stomach as she let out a content sigh.
Damn, Jacob hissed in his head as Bella pressed her fingertips to his chest. I smirked at his obvious dissatisfaction to her cool flesh. “Jeez, you’re freezing, Bella.”
“S-s-s-s-sorry,” Bella replied, her voice still stuttering.
As a tremor ran down her spine and caused her to shake again, Jacob said, “Try to relax. You’ll be warm in a minute. Of course, you’d warm up faster if you took your clothes off.” Think she’d do that, leech? She might even enjoy it… and you’d have a front row seat.
“That’s just a simple fact. Survival one-oh-one.” I could almost here the smile in his voice, but I unfortunately couldn’t prove my theory correct – his face was pressed into the side of the sleeping bag.
“C-c-cut it out, Jake,” Bella chastised. I smiled. “N-n-n-nobody really n-n-n-n-needs all ten t-t-t-toes.”
“Don’t worry about the bloodsucker,” Jacob said; I could almost feel the smugness radiating off him. “He’s just jealous.” Right, Edward?
My fists clenched tighter; I made sure my voice was under control – for purely Bella’s sake – before speaking. “Of course I am,” I replied. “You don’t have the faintest idea how much I wish I could do what you’re doing for her, mongrel.”
“Those are the breaks,” he spoke airily. “At least you know she wishes it was you.” Oh, but how I wish she wishes it was me…
I ignored his thoughts; they were inevitable with the amount of affection he carried for her. “True.”
“There,” Jacob said to a now still Bella; her shivers had subsided and – through Jacob’s eyes – I could see the beginnings of sweat beads gather on her lusciously pale skin. “Feeling better?”
“Yes,” she replied – it appeared that her stutters had been calmed, as well. I closed my eyes and sighed quietly, thankful.
“Your lips are still blue,” he continued. “Want me to warm those up for you, too? You only have to ask.” I believe that was our agreement, right, leech?
I sighed again, only this time more heavily, and with annoyance rather than relief.
“Behave yourself,” Bella muttered. I caught Jacob flinch as she pressed her face against his skin; her lips tugged upward with satisfaction, and mine followed in suit.
I had lived around teenage boys my entire life; I’d attended countless years of school surrounded by them. And I had come to understand the way of a modern man’s mind. Rarely were seriously topics thought about; very few spent time thinking about schoolwork. I had realized that most men’s thoughts revolved around women and their bodies. I had experienced everything, from small crushes to lewd and lusty desires. The older boys grew, the raunchier did their thoughts.
That is why it surprised me immensely whenever Jacob’s thoughts stayed quite clean. Although his jokes were extremely suggestive, they were clearly only meant to rile me up; not once did his thoughts become vulgar. Several times, Jacob pictured him and Bella sharing their forced kiss that occurred not so long ago… but that was all. For the most part, he thought about a future between the two of them; he envisioned their wedding, their children, and their children’s children. If it hadn’t been for the fact that it was Bella he was consciously dreaming about, I would have found his thoughts incredibly sweet.
They continued in their futuristic manner until Bella mumbled, “Jake?” Then, his mind wiped blank. “Can I ask you something? I’m not trying to be a jerk or anything, I’m honestly curious.”
Those words rang a bell, both for Jacob and me, and immediately I was in Jacob’s mind, standing in Bella’s kitchen, watching and listening as they spoke about Bella’s and my relationship. As quickly as the memory began, it ended, and Jacob chuckled.
“Why are you so much furrier than your friends?” She paused, seeming to think over something. “You don’t have to answer if I’m being rude.”
“Because my hair is longer,” Jacob answered.
“Oh. Then why don’t you cut it? Do you like it to be shaggy?”
No, not exactly… but I believe you do…oh, wait… aw, crap… bloodsucker, I swear, you say anything and I’ll…
My body shook with silent laughter as Jacob’s forgetfulness of my ability rendered him speechless.
“Sorry,” Bella yawned, “I didn’t mean to pry. You don’t have to tell me.”
Jacob scoffed. “Oh, he’ll tell you anyway, so I might as well…” I can’t believe I’m doing this… “I was growing my hair out because…” Oh, hell… “It seemed you liked it better long.” Thanks a lot, parasite.
I didn’t need to hear Bella’s thoughts to know she felt awkward at his admission; the air in the tent grew thick. “Oh. I, er, like it both ways, Jake. You don’t need to be… inconvenienced.”
“Turns out it was very convenient tonight, so don’t worry about it.”
I barely held in a growl.
As Bella’s breathing grew slower and deeper, I peered through Jacob’s eyes and watched as her eyelids slowly drooped and eventually shut.
“That’s right, honey, go to sleep,” Jacob crooned.
A new voice of thought plunged into my mind. He better have a good reason for getting me out here… right in the middle of a well-needed sleep, too… gotta rest up for the big fight, after all…
Immediately, I recognized the voice. “Seth is here,” I murmured to Jacob, making sure to keep my voice down for Bella’s sake.
“Perfect. Now you can keep an eye on everything else, while I take care of your girlfriend for you,” he replied smugly. I had to bite my lip in order to keep the hiss that was threatening to escape, inside my mouth. A noise such as that would be sure to awaken my Bella.
“Stop it,” Bella groaned; her voice was thick with sleep.
But then, it seemed as though Jacob finally realized that he could rile me up simply with the indicative slip of the visions in his thoughts… for now his mind began growing increasingly provocative. The images began somewhat innocently, featuring him and Bella sharing a passionate wedding kiss, but suggestive enough to make jealousy and annoyance bubble in the pit of my stomach. And then the wedding kiss transformed into the reception for the guests, which showed the bride and groom dancing their first song. But the dance blossomed into their wedding night, and a much more rigorous activity was beginning to mould itself into his mind…
“Please!” I whispered furiously at him, and his thoughts immediately ceased in surprise, which made question whether or not he was sharing those thoughts deliberately. “Do you mind!”
“What?” he asked; he sounded truly confused. I could see his brow furrow in concentration.
“Do you think you could attempt to control your thoughts?”
I smelled the reeking blood rush to his face. “No one said you had to listen. Get out of my head.”
“I wish I could. You have no idea how loud your little fantasies are. It’s like you’re shouting them at me.”
“I’ll try to keep them down,” he whispered back. I’ll bet you’re only upset that you can’t act with her like… that, right?
“Yes,” I spoke quietly. “I’m jealous of that too.”
“I figured it was like that. Sort of evens the playing field up a little, doesn’t it?”
In his mind, it most likely did. But I couldn’t compared Bella’s love interest to a playing field; she was entirely too delicate. I chuckled. “In your dreams.”
“You know, she could still change her mind. Considering all the things I could do with her that you can’t. At least, not without killing her, that is.”
He had hit the nail directly on the head, and was pounding it in, slowly but surely. And his visions were coming back, now, stronger than before… he was surely thinking of them intentionally, though, this time.
“Go to sleep, Jacob,” I told him, being sure to modulate my voice for Bella. “You’re starting to get on my nerves.”
“I think I will. I’m really very comfortable.”
For the sake of Bella’s wishes – and Jacob’s life, as well – I thought it best not to reply, in words or actions.
The wind howled once again, a vicious reminder of the werewolf who was currently occupying the inside of it.
If I asked you a… question… bloodsucker… would you answer it?
“Maybe I would,” I answered his unspoken question.
“But would you be honest?” he inquired again, his voice sounding dubious. Would you edit you answers, like you do sometimes with Bella? Which, by the way, I find really annoying and unfair to her.
I did my best to hold in a laugh. “You can always ask and see.”
“Well, you see inside my head – let me see inside yours tonight, it’s only fair,” he insisted.
“Your head is full of questions. Which one do you want me to answer?”
Which one… which one… oh! “The jealousy… it has to be eating at you. You can’t be as sure of yourself as you seem. Unless you have no emotions.” I wouldn’t be surprised, really, at the last option.
Jacob had taken the hammer once again with a death grip, and pounded the nail one more time. Ignoring his obvious taunts, I tried to keep true to my word and answer as frankly as possible. “Of course it is. Right now it’s so bad that I can barely control my voice. Of course, it’s even worse when she’s away from me, with you, and I can’t see her.”
“Do you think about it all the time? Does it make it hard to concentrate when she’s not with you?”
“Yes and no; my mind doesn’t work quite the same as yours. I can think of many more things at one time. Of course, that means I’m always able to think of you, always able to wonder if that’s where her mind is, when she’s quiet and thoughtful.”
Does she… does she think about me? Does she talk about me when you’re around?
The sincerity of his thoughts startled me, and I took a moment in answering; the words burned my tongue on their way out. “Yes, I would guess that she thinks about you often. More often than I like. She worries that you’re unhappy. Not that you don’t know that.” My answer became biting as my mind wandered through the past few weeks. “Not that you don’t use that.”
“I have to use whatever I can,” he muttered. “I’m not working with your advantages – advantages like her knowing she’s in love with you.”
“She’s in love with me, too, you know.” I know it; I can feel it when she looks at me… when she holds my hand…
I didn’t reply as an image of Bella whirled into his thoughts; she was smiling, her head on his shoulder, their fingers interlaced, as they peered out onto the ocean at First Beach. My muscles tensed.
Jacob sighed, and the vision left his mind, though it stayed imprinted behind my own eyes. “But she doesn’t know it.”
“I can’t tell you if you’re right,” I spoke, my voice annoyed because of both my confusing obstruction of her mind, and the picture I was still seeing, which could be given as proof for his earlier words.
“Does that bother you? Do you wish you could see what she’s thinking, too?”
“Yes… and no, again. She likes it better this way, and, though it sometimes drives me insane, I’d rather she was happy.”
As the wind picked up pace and beat against the walls of the tent, I saw Jacob’s arms reflexively constrict around Bella’s body; her breathing deepened. It hurt to admit that, if it were not for the overheated werewolf, Bella would be in a much more sickening condition at present.
“Thank you,” I told him. “Odd as this might sound, I suppose I’m glad you’re here, Jacob.”
He snorted in his mind. “You mean, ‘as much as I’d love to kill you, I’m glad she’s warm,’ right?”
A silent chuckle shook my body. “It’s an uncomfortable truce, isn’t it?”
I knew it.
An uncomfortable truce, indeed.