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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

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.

12. Chapter 12

Rating 5/5   Word Count 2184   Review this Chapter

Chapter Twelve

Edward’s face stayed with me. It shouldn’t have surprised me, not with the way that just seeing him had made me feel, not having felt my heart beat like it actually had life in it for the first time since he had left, but I was shaken by it nonetheless. Shaken and a little angry. Why wasn’t it Jake’s face that stayed with me, Jake who had stayed with me, who was still there with me? But the mystery of Edward’s face, of his words…can I give you a ride home…refused to leave, refused to be forgotten. Why had he offered? Why had he been there at all, outside waiting for me, but not inside as I had yelled at his family? Why had no one yelled right back?

I stepped shakily back into the house and wrinkled my nose at the sound of something burning. There was Jake, grimacing over a large pot, his hair wet and dripping from the shower he had presumably taken and his face clean and so warm and human looking that it made my heart hurt. I smiled at the frustrated lines between his eyes and at the corners of his eyes.

“How do you do this?!” he demanded of me without turning to greet me. I found myself grinning at his ineptitude, so like Charlie, and walked over to place my hand on his arm and guide him gently away from the stove. He stepped behind me and wrapped his huge arms around me from behind, squeezing me gently and forcing me to close my eyes for just a moment and be lost in the warmth of him. It was so different, so much more welcoming than the cold of the Cullen’s house that I almost couldn’t believe it.

The meal was lucky; it hadn’t been the ravioli burning, just some tomato sauce that Jake had evidently found somewhere and had been attempting to heat up. I threw it out and filled the pot with hot water in the sink, leaving it to soak and turning back to the pasta.

“You did a good job with these,” I murmured, surprised at how they were staying together as they cooked. I had half expected to find them open all over the place, ricotta cheese floating in murky water.

“That was the last jar of sauce,” he said apologetically. I smiled.

“Don’t worry about it,” I said. I’d make some sort of butter sauce instead.

We stood there like that for a while, me stirring with a wooden spoon already heated up by his hand and him with his arms around me and his cheek against the top of my head; he was so tall. Edward’s face was almost effectively gone from my sight, though he hovered around the edges of my vision still. I concentrated on the deep strokes of the spoon in the water and on Jake’s breathing in my ear.

“Bella?” Jake said after a while.

“Mmm?” I muttered, shifting out of his grip to get some oven mitts and put a colander in the sink. Jake kept a couple of fingers in my hair, twisting them around there.

“You smell like leeches?”

His voice went up at the end, a question. I new he knew where I had been, but knew he was afraid to really ask. Why was he afraid to ask? Was he scared I was going back there? Was I going back there?

I dumped the ravioli in the colander, the great cloud of steam rising up and stinging my eyes. I was very careful to make sure all of the pot’s contents landed in the sink at the very least, and then that the pot was back on the stove before it could hurt anyone. Then I turned and kissed him very gently.

“I’m sorry I stink,” I said, and he broke out into that grin I loved so much. It was as if a miracle had occurred, as if somehow Jake had been given back to me fully restored. Then I saw the hesitation behind his eyes and realized that I would have to give him an actual explanation of where I had gone and why.

I stretched up onto my toes and lay my head on his shoulder, my arms reaching around him to just hold him close to me. His arms were gentle around my waist; he buried his face in my hair.

“You don’t have to tell me about it if you don’t want to,” he said softly, kissing my hair in a motion that reminded me suddenly so much of Edward that I went completely stiff in his arms.

I was angry with myself. I wanted Jake in my head, Jake whose arms were around me and whose cheek was against the crown of my head and whose kiss I could still feel on my temple. I wanted to tell him that I had gone for him, no other reason but for him, to tell him that I loved him and that all I wanted was for him to be happy and as he used to be…

A door shut heavily against the frame.
“Bella!” Charlie called through the hall. I heard him hang up a jacket and his gun, and Jake didn’t let go of me but just looked up to grin at the kitchen door. “Smells good!”

Charlie poked his head through the doorway into the kitchen and seeing me and Jake there broke out into a smile. I knew how much he loved it that I was with Jake; he also knew, on some level, that the more time I spent with Jake the healthier I seemed, the happier, the more productive. He saw Jake’s being here again as a sign of better times to come, of a happier and more well-rounded Bella.

“What are you two making?” he asked.

I pulled away from Jake very gently, turning to smile at Charlie. I hated making him worry.

“Ravioli,” I said, reaching over to shake the colander a couple of times to get rid of excess water and keep the pasta from sticking to each other. I swerved around Jake to dump it all back in the pot and then went to the fridge to get out some butter and garlic. “Jake did an excellent job in cutting and filling them.”

Jake laughed a little, which was nice, and then Charlie joined in, which made it nicer. I smiled to myself as I began melting it all together. The scent of garlic joined the cheese and pasta smell and I suddenly realized just how hungry I was.

“You want to set the table, Dad?” I asked, giving it all a careful stir.

“I will, Bella, I think there’s a game Charlie can check out while we finish everything up,” Jake said, moving too fast for Charlie to protest and—I thought I caught it—winking at him. Whether I actually saw it or not, Charlie grinned wide and agreed and left. Seconds later the sounds of some sort of game, who knew which sport, came drifting through the house.

Jake began taking out plates and forks and walking them to the table. I rolled my eyes and finished mixing the butter sauce into the pasta and went to get a bowl and spoon to serve it with.

Dinner tasted as good as it could have, even without the tomato sauce. Jake chatted animatedly throughout the meal, eating full half of the pasta and a few of my noodles directly off of my plate. Charlie smiled and threw in words here and there, and I just sat back and enjoyed it all. Having done something, seeing Jake so happy, it made the entire time just seem to exude a kind of warmth that I desperately needed. After Jake had scraped the last bit of sauce from his plate Charlie shoed us away, insisting on doing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen. I tried to warn him of the level of flour and sauce splattered everywhere but he waved me off. Jake followed me up to my room, and I knew he was going to interrogate me on what had happened today, on where I had gone and why. As we reached my bedroom door I turned to him.

“I’ve got a lot of homework to do,” I hedged. It wasn’t as if it wasn’t true; this sudden happiness made me actually want to try and graduate, if only to make Charlie feel better.

Jake cupped my chin with his warm hand and tilted my head up to kiss me gently. He pulled back, his nose wrinkling.

“You still smell, you know,” he muttered. I winced.

“I’m sorry,” I said, and this time it wasn’t funny. I was afraid he might actually be hurt by my mysterious actions, in a way he hadn’t shown before. He must certainly be confused. Even though he had told me that I didn’t have to tell him, it was still clear that I should.

I took his hand in mine and pulled him into the room behind me. His was so big that my fingers felt doll-like and lost within it. I led him to the bed, and sat down next to him.

“I went to the Cullen’s today,” I confessed, as if he had not already figured it out. His eyes went slightly dead and his shoulders stiffened and I knew he was preparing himself for something awful. I felt so guily; I reached out my hand to touch his hot cheek. “I was so angry,” I explained, “So angry that you had been hurt so much by all of this, that it was my fault—“

He tried to cut me off here, his eyes turned angry and his hand left mine to hold up in protest but I kept talking, overriding him.

“It was! You were all fighting over me, and it was so stupid, I’d already told Alice…” I trailed off for a moment, finding my breath. I tried to find what I had been going to say. Jake was staring at me, his anger not completely gone.

“You went to those leeches alone for me?!” he demanded, and I nodded, not looking at him.

“You were losing it, Jake! You were disappearing, leaving me, you were so dead in your eyes, so angry…” I took his hand back into mine and gripped it tightly. “I told them to leave it alone. I told them that I was fine, that they were being unreasonable. I told them to lay off and then I left.” I looked up at him fiercely, wanting to address directly his most obvious and prominent concern. “I left them and I came back to you.”

Jake crushed his lips to mine, kissing me with such a need that no matter how much I might love him, I knew I could never match it. I tried though. I kissed him back as fervently, I forced myself to focus on Jake and only Jake, to push Edward’s face to the farthest reaches of my mind, as far away as possible. And I wanted to kiss him, wanted to be with him, wanted to love him with all that I was capable of. I did love him. He knew I loved him. I held his face in my hands and he held me close with his arms around my waist and his hands on my back and I kissed him with everything I could.

But then he broke off, away. He looked away from me and I wondered if my thoughts had been so transparent, if he suddenly found me disgusting, if I really did smell that horrible. A million panicked thoughts all vied for attention in my head, and none of them could even slightly be ignored. My heart pounded as I looked up at him, trying to read his face, trying to understand.

“I’m sorry,” he muttered, then looked back at me, straight into my eyes. “I’m sorry, but…”

“But?” I whispered, my voice hollow. Was Jake going to reject me too? What abominable creature must I be, to drive away the best of people from me? To hurt Jake like this.

“I have…to ask, I know you don’t want me to…” he took a breath while I watched him in mute horror. The silence was painful

“But…” Jake tried again, and licked his lips nervously. “But, what he there, too?”

Suddenly I knew exactly the question Jake was asking; he needed to know that not only had I left the Cullen’s behind for him, but that I had left Edward as well. He had seen me and Edward, had seen me after I had left, had witnessed just how tied together our lives had been. Jake could not be with me unless he knew it was over.

He was right. It was so fair of him, only fair of me. But did I have an answer for him?

I looked up at him, wishing he could understand without me telling him. Wishing I even knew what I wanted him to understand.

I touched his face again, letting my hand linger on his cheek and down his jawline and resting it against his warm neck. The skin was soft and somehow delicate there.

“I came back to you,” I repeated, and he understood.