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Paris

Summary:
What if Bella had never jumped off that cliff? What if Alice had never seen her die? What if the Cullens had never had a reason to return to Forks? AU


Notes:
There are a few passages in this story taken directly from New Moon by Stephenie Meyer. That's because, in order to write this Alternate Universe successfully, I have to be able to take scenes already in the canon and alter them to fit the consequences of the different choices in my own universe. The characters are still the same, so they would still say and think very similar things to what they said and thought in the original story. That being said, obviously the entire Twilight Universe belongs to Stephenie Meyer. I am not that brilliant.


1. Chapter 1

Rating 5/5   Word Count 1637   Review this Chapter

Paris

Chapter One

"Bella."

I smiled and exhaled.

Yes? I didn't answer out loud, for fear that the sound of my voice would shatter the beautiful illusion. He sounded so real, so close. It was only when he was disapproving like this that I could hear the true memory of his voice—the velvet texture and the musical intonation that made up the most perfect of all voices.

"Don't do this," he pleaded.

You wanted me to be human, I reminded him. Well, watch me.

But something stopped me.

I couldn't tell what it was, at first. The rain around me had soaked me clothes to me like a second skin, and I was suddenly aware that I was shivering. It was too cold. I was too cold.

And then I heard it behind me.

"Bella! Bella!"

It wasn't Edward's voice, stopping me from my insanely reckless mission. I turned, wondering if I could jump before whoever it was caught up with me. But over the wind and the rain I could hear the crashing of someone fighting through the woods, and I knew the time for jumping was not now.

I'd have to hear his voice another day.

"Bella! What are you doing?"

I squinted, focusing my eyes through the rain. My arms automatically hugged my chest, trying to get some semblance of warmth. It was Jake. I forced a smile.

"Didn't feel like waiting for you." I shrugged as best I could through my shivers.

Jake had clearly just phased out of his wolf form; his chest was bare and his cut-off sweats were stuck with leaves and torn where he had stumbled through the woods, calling for me. He looked at me like I was insane. A valid assumption, I knew.

"You what?!" His tone made me feel guilty. I knew that the cliff jumping was supposed to be the two of us, and I didn't want to hurt him by having tried to go alone.

"I'm sorry," I mumbled.

"Don't you ever do that!" Jake reached for me automatically, and as wet as he was his arms still felt warm around my shaking body. I moved instinctively nearer to him, huddling myself against his chest. "Are you stupid? Don't you know how fast the current is down there?"

"I'm sorry," I mumbled again, trying to get warm.

Jake noticed how much I was shivering and he held me tighter, sighing as if I were the most pathetic individual he'd ever met. And I probably was. The thought made me smile.

We began to walk back toward the beach together, his arm over my shoulder and me leaning in toward his warmth. We didn't talk. I knew he thought I was an idiot, and I didn't think to ask why he had come to find me. He'd probably smelled me, or one of his brothers had. It wasn't until we got back to the beach that he spoke.

"Harry Clearwater's in the hospital," he said. He was watching me closely. I stared back, uncomprehending.

"Is he going to be alright?" I couldn't believe that he wouldn't. Harry's health had been failing for a while now, but he was one of Charlie's closest friends. Nothing terrible could happen to him.

"He had a heart attack this morning. They...the doctor's say it doesn't look good."

I stopped walking, and Jacob did too. We looked at each other. The rain splattered on my cheeks and forehead, forming rivers from my hairline down my face and neck. I was still cold, but I was thinking of Charlie. I'd caused him so much worry this year. I didn't know it was going to affect him, having one of his friends die.

"Does Charlie know?" I asked Jake, watching his face.

"Yeah. He's over there, too, with my dad."

I took a few steps forward, and sank to the ground as the guilt washed over me again. Jake had been right about the current; I could see the beach from here, the water going crazy in the storm. What would have happened if I had jumped? Would Charlie have lost me, too? How could I have been so selfish?

"What can I do?" I asked, more to myself than to Jake.

Jake took one large stride forward to me, his arms reaching down to pull me up and shake me gently. His eyes were fierce, but with worry rather than rage.

"You can stay here," he said, holding my shoulders tightly. In his eyes was a message I didn't want to read. "You can stay here with me. I'll take you home and we'll get you some dry clothes and you can sleep and be safe."

His words about my safety sent a jolt through me. I'd forgotten, with Harry being in the hospital and the cliff diving and Edward's voice, all about Victoria.

"Is she coming?" I whispered, and suddenly my trembling had nothing to do with the cold.

Jake pulled me into a hug, an embrace that filled the hole in my chest and warmed not only my drenched skin. His head rested on my own, as though he was kissing my hair. I wanted to tell him to stop, but my own arms were around him too and he was so warm...I felt so safe. I knew immediately that Victoria had gotten away again, but I felt comforted nonetheless. I felt right in Jacob's arms.

If Romeo was really gone, never coming back, would it have mattered whether or not Juliet had taken Paris up on his offer?

Edward's voice was still fresh in my mind. I could hear it again, his pleas as I got ready to jump, if I concentrated hard enough. I knew it would be downright miserable to give up my hallucinations and try to be a grown-up. But maybe I should do it. And maybe I could.

If I had Jacob.

"She got away, Bella," Jake whispered in my ear. "We tried, we almost had her. But then she went out into the water...I went to check the beach, you spend so much time there, I thought she might double back..." He stopped, burying his face in my hair. "I'm so sorry," he whispered.

I remembered wishing that Jacob were my brother. I realized now that all I really wanted was a claim on him. It didn't feel brotherly when he held me like this. Would it be so wrong to try to make him happy? Even if the love I felt for him was no more than a weak echo of what I was capable of, even if my heart was so far away, wandering and grieving after my fickle Romeo, would it be so very wrong?

The wind howled in my ear, but Jake's breathing was slow and soft and matched the pace of my own. The wet from the downpour had glued us together, my shirt sticking to his skin. My fingers were suddenly very aware of the smoothness of his wet back, of the strength of his arms around me. I closed my eyes. It all just felt so nice. Almost like being a whole person again. His warmth was enough to thaw the permanent coldness of my insides, if only a little. I couldn't feel any guiltier, thinking of this when Harry was in the hospital, when Charlie was in pain, but I closed my eyes and I clung to the feeling of being a person again.

But then Jake let go. He stepped back. His eyes would not meet mine.

"Sorry," he mumbled. Then he looked right at me, his eyes on mine and I could see all the pain and the desperation there. "Sorry. I know you don't feel exactly the way I do, Bells. I swear I don't mind. I'm just—" He laughed a little, his big shoulders shaking and spraying water a bit. "—I'm just so glad that you're okay that I could...and that's something no one wants to hear." He laughed again, as if it were a joke. I smiled too, weakly, but my breathing was more rapid and I felt as if I might collapse on myself. I reached out for his hand on instinct to keep my balance.

Jake smiled at me, and after a moment intertwined his fingers with mine. I squeezed his hand, not sure at all what message I was sending anymore, or what kind of message I wanted to send. His hand was rough and warm; his thumb gently traced the length of my forefinger. And then there was his grin, my smile, the one with the teasing mischief in the eyes and the joyful upturn of his lips. Without warning, he swung me up so that he was cradling me in his arms. I shrieked involuntarily as a swooped through the air, and then he started running in the direction of Billy's house. Each step caused me to bounce, my stomach leaping in ways I didn't really like; I laced my arms around Jake's neck in order to feel more secure. His laughter nearly deafened my ear, so close to his face. His breath tickled, warm and nice smelling.

Could I do it? Could I betray my absent heart to save my pathetic life?

I snuggled into the warmth of Jake's chest. I had to slow down. I had to think. This was not something I should be deciding like this. This was not something I could be deciding like this.

When we got to Billy's, he was waiting for us outside. His face was quiet, drawn, but his eyes pierced me from the moment he came into view.

Jake's laughter died. The distraction of his breath was no longer distracting; I couldn't feel it in the wail of the storm.

Harry was gone.