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Eternity

Summary:
It's only when her heart aches does she realize eternity means forever. Bella-centric Bella/Jacob.


Notes:
WARNING: Character death.


1. Chapter 1

Rating 3.5/5   Word Count 1207   Review this Chapter

'Just lying in bed day after day,' Mrs. Clark says, 'you realize it's not wooden stakes that kill vampires.' It's all the emotional baggage and letdowns they have to carry around century after century."
-Haunted, by Chuck Palahniuk, p.141-142

***

Before he bites her, he asks her again if she's sure. His golden eyes lock onto her chocolate brown for the last time. She thinks she sees a flicker of hope in his stare, hope that she'll change her mind. She's nervous and scared, but his teeth piercing her skin can't be any more painful than stitches and she's felt the unimaginable burning beneath her skin before. Piece of cake. She can do it. She wants to do it.

"I'm sure," she whispers, "let's just get this over with." She tries to smile encouragingly, but her lips wobble slightly. Edward sighs. She looks away from him, exposing her throat and takes a deep breath, the last one she'll ever need to take. She closes her eyes and anticipates the bite. Her breath hitches in her throat as her skin is penetrated and only moments later the burning begins.

It's only before the pain is unbearable Bella thinks of how much she's betraying Jacob, the one person who wouldn't hurt her even if she asked.

***

She takes it as a good sign when her eyes slowly fade from red to gold, the colors in between a subject of fascination. The oranges and tomato soup reds. But it almost makes her sad that when her eyes are finally gold; they can only change to black.

***

For thirty years she's gone to school. High school after high school. College after college. It's no longer a wonder that Edward's so intelligent. He's only been in and out of school since the previous century.

It's not until she sees a tall boy with silky black hair when she's in the library that she thinks of Jacob. She feels guilty for leaving him. She feels guilty for never even trying to contact him, let alone check up on him. Not that she'd be very welcome in La Push anymore.

***

The feelings don't go away and she keeps them bottled up. Edward knows something is wrong, but after Bella insists she's fine the first time he asks, he leaves it alone. It makes Bella think of how Jacob would whittle it out of her with nudges and bad jokes before prying again.

***

She's shocked to come home from the university one day to find Leah Clearwater on her front porch in a tank top and short cut off shorts, smoking a cigarette. She doesn't look a day older than 26, and maybe that's even too old.

"Leah?" Bella asks confused. Leah drops her cigarette onto the trodden wood and snuffs it with her bare foot, not seeming to feel anything. Her hair is even shorter than it was the last time Bella saw her - then it was just longer than her jawline. Now she looks like a tanned version of Winona Ryder right out of Girl, Interrupted.

"What are you doing here?" she pauses. "Do you want to come inside?"

"No. I just came to tell you. . ." Leah's eyes duck down to her hands where she picks persistent dirt from under her short fingernails. "Jacob's dead." Leah's jaw sets, perfectly intent on not displaying any emotion.

Even though she doesn't need to breathe at all, Bella's breath stops. She doesn't even remember how to breathe. Her body goes numb and in her brain there is nothing except Leah's voice revolving with the words Jacob's dead.

"Dead?" Bella echoes in a whisper. "But he'd only be. . . He's still. . ."

"He wanted to travel a bit. He stopped phasing when you changed, said he wanted to age like a normal human because one of you should," Leah swallows thickly, pushing back any chance of her voice choking or wavering. "He was on his way to Australia, but the plane crashed. There were no survivors."

Bella feels the numbing prick of tears at the rims of her eyes, but the tears can't flow. She never thought she would wish to have the ability to cry. Suddenly her legs feel weak and she allows herself to fall to her knees, dropping her bag in the process. The books in it produce a heavy thud that sounds louder than it's ever supposed to.

"I'm sorry," Leah says, her words surprisingly sincere. She lights another cigarette and saunters off of the porch and into the woods, leaving Bella sitting there in shock. She can hear the pathetic choked sobs and keening emit from her but there aren't any tears. She can't cry for Jacob. She can't cry period.

***

It's late when Edward comes home from a small hunting trip with Alice and Jasper. Edward is the first to see Bella in a sad bundle on the porch and urges the other two to go elsewhere and find something to do. Alice nods gravely and drives away after Edward exits the car.

"Bella?" he says to her, kneeling down next to her. She's sitting, huddled, her knees drawn against her chest. He places a gentle hand on her back and she doesn't move. "What's the matter, love? What happened?"

"Leah was here," her voice is hoarse.

"Leah Clearwater?"

Bella nods stiffly.

"Jacob's gone," her voice is barely a whisper.

It's then she realizes nothing he can do or say will make anything better because he's not Jacob and that she made the wrong choice.

***

Not even Jasper can cheer her up anymore.

She doesn't know how many months, years, decades have passed since she was greeted by Leah at her doorstep. All she knows is that there's always a chunk of her heart missing and it grows all of the time. It feels like Edward has left her all over again.

But this is worse than when Edward left.

She's missing the air she cannot breathe and the sun she cannot feel. She doesn't need to breathe and she doesn't want to sparkle. Not being able to need Air and Sun and Jacob is killing her while she's already dead.

***

When they go to Alaska, Bella doesn't even notice that Tanya is making all kinds of eyes at her husband. She can't care anymore, knowing that a ring from Jacob should be on her finger.

Knowing that she married Edward to get what she wanted now feels like a very hollow victory. She almost wants to tell Tanya to take Edward. She doesn't deserve how hard he tries to make her smile.

***

"You're regretting this, aren't you?" Edward asks her softly. It's been 100 years since she's been bitten - her milestone centennial. There is no 'I-told-you-so' in his voice, but Bella thinks there should be.

"I wasn't prepared for losing people that I loved. . . I didn't realize that eternity meant forever."