Text Size Large SizeMedium SizeSmall Size    Color Scheme Black SchemeWhite SchemeGrey SchemePaper Scheme        

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.


2. Chapter 2

Rating 5/5   Word Count 3141   Review this Chapter

Paris

Chapter Two

The funeral was long. It was dark and cold in the church, a place I'd never felt comfortable in to begin with. I sat next to Charlie, near the front. He sat stiffly throughout the service, his face clenched painfully into an expression of a man who is holding himself together as best he can. I didn't know how to help him. He was putting on his Chief Swan face for the public, but I worried. I had seen the emptiness in his eyes over the last few days, and I knew he was grieving in the only way he knew how. I wondered if what I was feeling even came close to the worry he had for me during those long months after the Cullens had left.

Jacob sat on the opposite part of the church, with Billy and his brothers. He was wearing a suit complete with a tie, the jacket too small for his enormous frame and revealing too much wrist. He looked uncomfortable in every way, and kept pulling at his tie so that he could breathe better. Every so often he would glance over at us, at me. His face was a mystery to me; I couldn't read it. But I was having trouble reading myself, as well. The third time he turned I gave him a little wave and he faced the front without waving back and stopped craning his head at us.

Sue gave the eulogy, but had to stop midway because she was crying too hard. I cried too. Charlie held my hand, a gesture awkward and foreign for us both but I had the feeling that he was taking as much comfort from me as he was trying to give, so I squeezed his large palm tight and kept it there.

After the last amen I went home. I couldn't go to the burial; I had work. Mike's parents had offered me the day off, but I told them I had to stay busy. I spent the whole hour avoiding Mike and staring at the hiking boots I was supposed to be setting up in a display. Mrs. Newton let me go home early; her eyes were full of worry. Everyone seemed to just be waiting for me to have a relapse, as if Harry had been my friend and not Charlie's.

The whole drive home I thought about Jacob, and felt guilty for thinking about Jacob. Charlie was devastated, Harry was dead, and Victoria was still after me. The sun was shining for once, as if in some sort of bizarre tribute to Harry's memory. I wish that I believed in omens, that the sun told of better days coming. But I didn't. I almost smiled at myself; I believed in vampires and werewolves without a second thought, but that there might be any meaning in the weather was a bizarre concept for me. When I had first come to Forks I had seen the rain as inevitable. Now I saw the sun as a happy chance.

The house was empty when I got back. I went up to my room change out of my black skirt and top that I had worn to the funeral and then to work, lacking the energy to change beforehand. I booted up the computer and wrote an e-mail to Renee, giving her her requested report on the funeral and how Charlie was holding up, then went downstairs to make dinner for Charlie, knowing that when he did make it home he would be exhausted and hungry. I was eager to do whatever it took to make life easier for him, so while the lasagna was baking I cleaned up the kitchen and the living room, vacuuming and spraying some sweet-smelling stuff I had gotten on my last grocery trip. With the sun pouring through the windows the house looked nicer without my extra efforts, but it made me feel better to be doing something.

I heard the door slam and called out, but it wasn't Charlie. Jake instead walked into the living room, still dressed in his collared shirt and dress pants, though he'd ditched the jacket and tie. I looked out the window to see his Rabbit in the driveway. I couldn't believe he'd actually driven out here rather than just transforming.

"Hey," he said, his eyes careful.

"Hey, Jake. You staying for dinner?" I put down the spray bottle and turned to face him. He walked over the couch and collapsed onto it. "Jake?"

He looked utterly exhausted. His eyes had deep circles under them and he almost seemed boneless, his body sagged onto the sofa so much. An afghan I had just folded and placed on the back of the couch caught on the back of his head and slid down over his face. It took him two tries to swipe it off of him and onto the floor.

"Sorry," he muttered. "I'm just really tired."

I blinked at him. I wasn't sure what to say. It was strange, but in the time between Harry's death and the funeral, we hadn't had much time alone together. We were always with Charlie or with Billy, or they were all with Sue and I was alone. Having not known Harry so well, I had tried desperately not to interfere with their grief. I felt like I had cost them all enough, what with protecting me from Victoria and all.

When I glanced back at Jake, he was asleep. I smiled a little at his snoring form, but I still felt really guilty. It was my fault, I knew, that he was so exhausted. In between taking care of Billy and watching out for me with his brothers he had had little time for sleep. I left him on the couch to go and take out the lasagna. I looked out the window down the road but Charlie's cruiser was still nowhere in sight. I turned off the oven but put the lasagna back inside to keep it warm. Then I set the table and went back to sit in the living room, on the floor in front of Jacob, watching him sleep.

Jake always looked so much younger when he slept, even though I realized he was still growing. Nearly as big as Sam now, it was a miracle he fit onto the couch. But the tension that had been permanently etched between his eyes softened and almost disappeared in his sleep. His lips seemed to curve up naturally, reminding me of how carefree and happy he'd been before vampires and werewolves had complicated his life. I tried to think about how I had been before all this had happened to me, but I knew that I had the opposite experience of Jacob. Though in the end Edward—I still winced inwardly at the name—had destroyed me, I could not regret being with him. I only wished that Jacob had not been dragged into this world, where he was bound to fight a war he had not signed up for. Not that there any more vampires living in Forks. Only Victoria.

Suddenly I began to worry about Charlie's absence. Had something happened? He hadn't said that he was going to be very late. I struggled to remember. Could something have happened to him? Wasn't Sam or Jared or somebody supposed to have been tailing him? My heart rate began to escalate, and breathing became hard. Where was Charlie?

I wanted to wake Jacob up and ask him to go and transform so he could get the news, but he was so tired and it was my fault enough as it was. All I could do was wait. I got up and went to the kitchen, pacing in front of the windows. Watching the road, looking for headlights. Looking for Victoria, too, even though I knew I wouldn't see her coming.

"Bella?"

Jacob's voice, right behind me, startled me so much that in my pacing I tripped over a dishtowel I had dropped earlier and went flying onto the floor, letting out a shriek as I lost my balance. I thudded to the floor, Jacob reaching me in enough time to not miss my spectacular fall but not enough time to save me from it. As I struggled to get up, wincing, I found him unable to move he was laughing so hard.

"You...idiot..." I groaned as I pushed myself into a sitting position. He kept laughing, bent over. "Are those tears coming out of your eyes?" I demanded.

Jake could only point helplessly.

"You...me...startled...fell..." he managed to gasp between bursts of laughter. There were indeed tears coming out of his eyes, and I had to fight the urge to wipe them away. They were annoying.

"Well, I'm so glad I entertain you," I said sourly, standing up and glancing out of the window again.

Jacob wheezed his way over beside me, leaning on the kitchen counters for support, still doubled over. I elbowed him in the ribs, but sadly it seemed to have little effect.

Even this, though, could not truly distract me from the fact that Charlie was not yet home. I walked closer to the window, stumbling a bit as my foot hit the stupid dish towel again. Jacob, who seemed to be recovering from his attack, automatically reached out an arm around my waist to steady me. I unconsciously leaned in toward him, my head on his chest.

"So, Bells, is there something romantic in the yard tonight?" Jake teased as I stared unblinkingly out the window, willing Charlie's car to round the bend.

"Charlie's not home yet," I muttered, using my arm not pinned to his side to motion out into the driveway where my truck sat alone.

Jake let go of me so quickly that I almost fell over again; I had to grab hold of the counter to steady myself.

"You mean I didn't tell you?" he demanded.

I was staring at him now, instead of the roadway.

"Tell me what?" Panic began to whine in my ears. Jake laughed again, forcing my hit him on the arm. "Tell me what?"

"Bella, Charlie's with Billy! I can't believe I didn't tell you!"

The panic exploded in my face, anger replacing it. I was humiliated at worrying so much about what Jacob seemed to think was such a laughing matter. He must have seen the look on my face, because he quickly stifled his laughter, though his eyes still crinkled in the corners.

"Calm down Bells! I'm sorry, I meant to tell you right away, but I was too tired to even phase and run here, I had to drive and that took longer, and then I sat on your couch and I was so tired..." His eyes pleaded with me, even as he tried not to laugh.

I sighed, and my rage ebbed away. He still looked tired, though better than he had earlier. I sighed, trying my best to stay angry. I bent down and picked up the dishtowel I had tripped over twice now and threw it onto the counter.

"I was worried, Jake. I thought Victoria had gotten him, or something."

Jake's eyes widened, and all hints of laughter disappeared.

"God, Bella, you think we'd let that happen?! I told you we were going to keep you safe, didn't I?"

Just for something to do I walked over to the oven and took out the lasagna, touched its top and then decided I didn't care if it was cold or not. Reaching in a drawer I grabbed a knife and began cutting it into pieces.

"I'm sorry. I know you said that. I was just worried is all," I explained, as I cut.

Jake grabbed me from behind and pulled me into a bear hug, taking me so completely by surprise that the knife sliced into his forearm.

"Jake!"

He let go of me and set me down, but didn't seem worried. He examined the cut, which was welling over with blood, then went over to the sink and started running it under water. I sank to the floor, feeling woozy.

"I'm sorry, Jake, I'm so sorry—"

He laughed. Again. I was getting sick of him laughing at my worry.

"No worries, I'm fine. Look."

He held out his arm for me to see, and sure enough the wound had already knit itself back together and was now looking at least a week old.

"Stupid werewolf," I muttered to myself, and Jake laughed again.

"I'm sorry," he said again, and I shoveled a chunk of the cold lasagna onto a plate for me and handed the rest of the pan with fork to Jake.

"Just save some for Charlie. Lasagna's his favorite," I warned. Jake grinned.

We went back into the living room, both of us fitting onto the couch now that Jake wasn't sprawled across it. We sat on it backwards though, so that we faced the windows rather than the television. The glow of the sunset made everything in the room glow red, like blood. Or like Victoria's hair.

"She's still in the woods," Jake said, reaching out his hand to take mine, clearly knowing what I was thinking about. "She's biding her time, Sam thinks, trying to think of a new strategy. She's so tricky...I'm scared that if she leaves, it won't be for good but to make a better plan. One we can't guess."

I shivered, but took my hand out of his so I could put my plate of lasagna on the floor, where my trembling wouldn't knock it anywhere and stain something. Jake turned to look at me.

"We're not going to let anything happen to you. Or to Charlie," he added. "I'm not going to let anything happen."

I shook my head. The last thing I wanted was Jake out there in the woods somewhere, fighting Victoria. But I didn't say anything, because I knew he didn't see it that way. Jake didn't understand the dangers of vampire hunting yet, of that I was sure. He might have managed to kill Laurent, but it had made him too cocky, and by the way Victoria had been able to avoid him and his brothers I was afraid she was going to be a much better fighter than any of them thought.

Sitting there, still watching the sky grow rapidly darker, my thoughts did not know quite where to turn. I was still slightly annoyed at having been embarrassed with my panic considering Charlie, and was still uncertain as to where Jake and I stood with each other. I couldn't figure out which way was right anymore. Would Juliet pine after Romeo, no matter how much time had gone by? Was that the definition of true love? Or was letting go? Was being a little happier, and making Paris happy, the right choice?

I struggled to find something to say.

"What are you doing here, then? If Charlie's with Billy, shouldn't we be there too?"

Jake grinned.

"Well...Charlie thought that you might be too tired after the funeral and work and all that to come out. So..." His eyes lit up and he slung his huge arm over my shoulders, nearly knocking me over. "I came to keep you company!"

I smiled back. I couldn't help it. He was acting so much like the old Jacob, my Jacob, that I was almost able to forget the gaping hole in my chest.

"And what makes you think I want company?" I teased.

Jake squeezed me close.

"I'm sorry I slept so long," he said, softly and sounding like he meant it.

It was so easy with Jake. Just leaning over, into him was too easy. I could see it in my mind: the angle of my body, the tilt of his head. If I was not careful, I knew what would happen next. But did I want to be careful anymore? My mind blurred, whirled, and I stood up, ducking under Jake's arm.

"I'm really sorry, Jake," I said, and I meant it. Not just for getting up, but for leading him on, for not even knowing myself what I wanted. "I'm just so tired...it's been such a long day..." My eyes begged him to understand.

His smile seemed more tired than before, but gentle. He didn't seem upset with me.

"I get it. You've been working all day." He stood up too. "I'll take you up to your room."

But as I went to nod, suddenly the hole opened up, the wound throbbed more painfully than it had in months. The thought of Jacob in my room...where Edward had stayed so many times, watching me sleep...

My arms automatically surrounded myself, holding me together. I wanted to apologize to Jake, but I was lost, too far away, feeling every moment of the pain as though I had been stabbed. Or bitten.

For a year that was really only a moment, Jake stood there watching me and I collapsed while standing so still. Then he smothered me in his arms, holding me so tight I could hardly breath and rocking me back and forth. And for the first time in so long, I began to cry. My face was wet within seconds, soaking through Jake's collared shirt. I sobbed great gasps of air that made me feel as though I would never breathe correctly again. Jake mumbled something into my hair, and kissed my forehead. I could feel the kiss there like a brand, burning not because of his heat but because of his emotion, his feeling. The meaning behind this simple act was just too much. I couldn't do this. I just couldn't.

"I won't do anything you don't want me to, Bella," Jacob whispered. "I swear."

His arms never loosened their grip on me, held me until the sobs quieted and I felt more hollow than before, as though the tears had contained some part of me that was now lost. I couldn't speak. I let myself be held and just breathed while I could.

Later, after I had stumbled my way alone up the stairs into my bedroom, the tears started again. There were no great gasps now, just a trickle from my eyes, silent and sad. When I did fall asleep, I did not dream as I normally had. Instead of my usual nightmare, I dreamed I was lying in my bed, watching Edward watching me. He stood there, and in his eyes I could see that whatever I had lost tonight, he had gained. He seemed fuller, more real than he ever had to me. I just stared at him, memorizing his face and wishing with all my heart that he could be real, but knowing that it could only be a dream.