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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.


13. Chapter 13

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Paris

Chapter Thirteen

Jake and I stayed that way for a long while, curled together. I wanted to cry but didn’t. Jake would assume—correctly—that I was crying tears over him, and I already knew there were few enough ways for me to convince him that I was here with Jacob completely. It was harder for me to myself of it.

Before Charlie woke up Jake left. Through the front door, as per normal. It comforted me to see him waving jovially from my doorway before tiptoeing down the stairs. It was so sweetly familiar to me now that just watching it happen was like sipping happily at a warm, sweet drink like cocoa or tea: it soothed my throat and settled my jittery stomach pleasantly. I was able even to close my eyes and sleep a few hours before my blaring alarm woke me. I felt as though I had really slept, and even though this was earlier than I normally woke up and even though I had only slept a couple hours I was conscious enough and comfortable enough to grudgingly open up a textbook and begin catching up on work before school. In face, I got so absorbed in my calculus that by the time I came back to myself Jacob was outside, honking the horn on his Rabbit as loudly and obnoxiously as he could. No time for breakfast or even coffee, I threw my notes and equations and books into my bag and flew down the stairs and out the door to climb into the passenger’s seat.

“You’re late,” Jake teased, his grin blinding.

“And you’re happy,” I retorted, buckling my belt as Jacob tore out of the driveway. “What’s up?”

Jake fiddled with his fingers against the steering wheel; it was as though he was about to explode from excitement. He shot a sly look in my direction.

“Have I ever told you how amazing you are?” he asked, the smile spilling into his voice.

“What’s going on with you?” I demanded, finding my own lips turning up at the corners. His feelings were always so infectious.

“Well…” Jake tapped the wheel a few more times, this time rhythmically as if pounding out a drum roll. He was clearly enjoying drawing this out far too much.

“We had a meeting last night, just after I left you. Actually,” he frowned, momentarily distracted, “they started without me.”

“A pack meeting?” I asked, confused. A slight bubbling sensation was starting up in my stomach, my nerves beginning to surface; what was so important that they had to start a meeting without Jake, number two in the pack’s command?

“Well, yeah,” Jake drawled, nearly jittery with delight once again. “The pack…and the bloodsuckers.”

Beneath his happiness I could see that Jacob was watching me closely. He was a little nervous that his treating this information so lightly, menially, joyfully even might hurt me. I tried to keep my expression the same. My stomach reached a boiling point and my throat felt raw.

“What happened?” I tried my best to sound happily interested. Jake was unconvinced.

“Well, they called the meeting,” he rationalized to me. “Said that they had forgotten that you had a say in things. That doctor one—“ For once I didn’t correct him; I was too anxious to hear what had happened. “—he apologized for their behavior. A leech! Apologizing!” Jake let out a single, barking laugh. I knew he couldn’t help it. It was too engrained in him, this instinct against the Cullens. And seeing him happy made me happy, if only a little: wasn’t this what I had gone to the Cullens for in the first place? I smiled and touched his hand. “The treaty is all signed and finished!”

“See?” I tried to joke. “I’m not entirely useless.”

“You,” he said stopping the car and leaning across the shift to kiss me, “are incredible.”

After the kiss I realized that the conversation had taken us to school; we were in front of the main office building. And Mike and Jessica were not the only ones staring. I felt my face grow very hot, and then hotter in shame at my embarrassment, when I saw Alice beside her Volvo giving me a disapproving look.

“I’ll see you later?” I said, already getting out of the car.

Jake was doubled over from laughing, whether at my embarrassment or at the look on Alice’s face I was not sure.

“Love you, Bells,” he chortled.

That stopped me. I paused, hand on the car door with my bag slung over my shoulder and my heart trying to figure out what it wanted to say with my lips and tongue.

This was not a moment where I could actually conceivably sit down and sort out my very, very complicated feelings for Jacob. I could only tell him the truth and hope that I meant it the way I knew he would take it.

“Love you too,” I near-whispered. To my surprise, I found myself half-smiling back at him. Jake winked, and I closed the door and he drove off. I watched him go. Then I turned deliberately, cheeks still too-red, and tried to walk to my first class without being made even later than I actually was.

I didn’t need to be omniscient to know it wouldn’t actually go that way.

“Bella!”

“Not now, Alice,” I didn’t snap so much as sigh; it hurt too much to be upset with Alice, hurt even more to strike out at her because of those feelings. Without thinking I stopped to watch her walk up to me. Her face was more frustrated and annoyed that I thought I had seen it; she looked to be almost in pain.

“I’m sorry,” she said earnestly, an odd roughness to her perfect voice. “I don’t know what to say. If I tell you to be careful about what you’re doing, you will go forward it with more vigor than before. But it I say nothing…”

“I thought you couldn’t see wolves,” I reminded her. I tried so hard to appear cavalier but her manner disturbed me. She looked so frightened for me I began to feel frightened for myself.

“I can’t,” she snapped, losing control for a moment. Then she regained herself. “I’m sorry. It’s just so impossible, being blind like this. I feel so…responsible, even for the things that I don’t see.”

I stared into her slightly wild eyes; I had never seen her lose control. Alice had always had that bubbly exterior; even that last time she had tried talking to me in the alleyways on the way to English she had still been Alice. This was Alice…frayed, torn around the edges. Uncomfortable and uncertain Alice disturbed me more than a violent werewolf ever could.

“You’re not responsible for me,” I told her but she just looked at me witheringly.

Please, Bella,” she began and then held up her hand when I started to argue. “No, no, I’m not going to tell you to come and be with us, you’ve made your decision and I suppose I have to respect that.” Her mouth turned downward. “No matter how stupid I feel that decision to be.”

We stared at each other for a moment, not coldly but almost shocked. I don’t believe that either of us could really understand how we’d come to this, not friends but…enemies? I tried to wipe my mind free of the thought. There was no universe where Alice and I could ever be enemies, fighting against each other.

“I just want you to be as careful as possible,” Alice begged, breaking the silence. “I care about you; I still consider you to be a sister of mine.”

“I still think of you that way, too,” I mumbled. She smiled a little.

Think about it, Bella.” She reached out and touched my hand briefly, gently, and then stepped back. I nodded mutely, and she nodded back. The sad look in her eyes was worse than if she’d slapped me in the face.

She turned and left without saying anything else. It dawned on me after a moment that I was supposed to be in class and that I actually did want to graduate, and so I followed suit.

I fought against my recent habit of dwelling too much on recent events and instead worked really hard to pay attention to the day’s lecture. I took careful notes in each class, even staying after to talk to a few teachers whose classes I was doing most poorly in and received several packets of extra credit work for my troubles. By the time I met Jake again my mind was so full of algorithms and dates and essay prompts and Alice’s words that I didn’t even notice myself unconsciously lean in to kiss him hello. He noticed, of course; it was only after seeing his smug grin that I’d realized what I’d really done. I smiled a little, too. Being sure about something, even if I wasn’t certain I wanted to be quite sure about it, was such a stress reliever. I was now sure what Jake and I really were, to the outside world at least, and probably to him as well.

And me? What did I think we were?

I pushed the question out of my mind. I’d been avoiding it for such a long time and it was certain to catch up with me unpleasantly at some point, but now was not that time and I managed to ignore it semi-successfully.

“How were things at the reservation today?” I asked, just for something to talk about. Jake started talking about setting up perimeters and some skirmishes and how Paul still could not control himself completely and then I interrupted him.

“Hey, do you want to take the bikes out today?”

Looking out the window it occurred to me how nice and dry a day it was. Cloudy, yes, but getting warmer and not damp or too humid. Hardly noticing that I’d just cut across his story, Jake looked at me eagerly.

“Really?” he said.

“Yeah,” I grinned back. “I know I have so much homework to do, but it’s a really nice day and I’m feeling sort of…reckless, I guess.”

It was true. The tumult of emotions over the last few days—or, if I was honest with myself, the last few lifetimes—needed to be let out somehow. Riding had always helped, and I suddenly remembered how much I really missed it.

Instead of driving home, then, we drove straight to La Push and got the bikes out. I had been right in my prognosis; it was a perfect day for riding. I loved the feeling of my hair streaming out behind me, of the pressure of the wind on my face chapping my cheeks and lips. Jake was whooping besides me; no matter how much more thrilling mere running was to him now, the sense of power in riding our bikes and the way we were able to share it together made the whole thing ecstatic. I hadn’t grinned so hard in a long, long time.

Bored with the normal roads around La Push, we decided to go off some rockier, more deserted trails. This was the atmosphere I knew we both most wanted: the isolation of the woods, the thrill of the jitters each bump sent through us. I screamed out loud and Jake screamed with me and I felt all the stress and pain and frustration and fear just escape from my body in that scream.

And then I lost control.

It was not the fault of the uneven road. Nor could I blame the sharp turn I had just taken, or the fact that I had never been down here before.

My tires skidded sideways, and I managed to slow down enough to guide myself into a tree. I clung to the bike knowing that the worst injuries would ensue if I allowed myself to be thrown off. Injury and pain and blood: exactly what would set off this deathtrap into a frenzy that would end in my demise sooner rather than later.

I heard the crunching of metal as Jake phased without even leaving his own bike. His weight was too much for it in the front where he’d been leaning and he almost tumbled forward onto his head. Catching himself with his front legs, he drew himself up to his full height and growled terrifyingly, angling himself in front of me.

Those up ahead unfazed by his display. And why should they have been?

This is a dream, I told myself in that moment. A nightmare. I’m going to wake up.

But even I was not that foolish.

Victoria did not smile at me as she had so many times in my dreams. When she spoke, her voice was higher pitched than I had imagined, strangely babyish in a way that both did not suit her and disturbed me.

“Hello Bella,” she hissed at me, her shining teeth at their brightest with every syllable. She motioned to the companions she had brought with her. I was too frightened even to notice how cliché the whole thing was.

“I’d like you to meet some of my friends.”