Jacob cannot comprehend why Bella, the only girl he has ever loved, still loves that leech Edward after all that he put her through. The most unlikely of events leads to his enlightenment. Jacob's POV on the scene in Eclipse where he tricks Bella into asking him to kiss her.
DISCLAIMER: All recognisable characters, settings and quotes belong to Stephenie Meyer.
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I ran towards the inviting forest clearing as fast as I could, endeavouring to leave my insurmountable pile of problems behind me. The rough wind lashed against my face, pounding at the solitary tear which rested on my cheek, shattering it into a million tiny pieces. My heart was broken too, broken into millions of minute fragments, and yet it was still beating inside my chest, ringing in my ears. My breaths were short and sharp, the relentless air hitting the back of my throat with incredible force. It would have hurt, if it was not for my inhumanly high pain threshold and the fact that other parts of me, my emotions, hurt so much more, making everything else seem completely insignificant.
My speed grew rapidly, until I was moving so fast that everything around me became an unfathomable blur, the trees a vast expanse of green and brown. I spared a backwards glance towards the tent in which my true love and her fiancée sat, wondering whether they had heard my howl, or if they were still blissfully oblivious to my tremendous suffering.
I corrected my thoughts, seething with rage at my own stupid naivety. Bella could, quite possibly, still be unaware that I had overheard, but the bloodsucker had obviously known that I was listening as he instigated the conversation.
He had promised me that he was not going to fight fair to keep her heart, ensured me that he would do anything that it took to emerge victorious over me, and yet something about his velvety smooth voice and his old fashioned mannerisms created a polite façade. I would never have expected him to play so dirty. I wondered if he had enjoyed delving into the agonized thoughts which plagued my mind as a direct result of the conversation he had deliberately encouraged.
I reached the blanket of the tall trees, which cast distorted shadows over me due to the partially hidden sun which loomed in the grey sky. I allowed myself to come to a halt. I leant against a tall, intimidatingly large, tree. I could feel the adrenaline which had overtaken my blood disperse throughout my body as I attempted in vain to calm myself. I took a long, steady breath of air, allowing it to fill the extremities of my lungs as I contemplated my situation with Bella.
I was sure that somewhere, however impenetrably deep down her true feelings were buried, she loved me, but the leech seemed to have her hypnotised. I wondered if one of the freaks clandestinely possessed the power of mind control, for why else would she have welcomed back the person, in the very loosest sense of the word, her broken-hearted and as a shell of her former self with open arms and exposed feelings? Why would anybody still love someone who had hurt them so badly?
Cullen did not deserve her after all the pain and torture he had inflicted on her, whether intentionally or accidentally. He had made his decision when he had left her, and for months, she had seemed so unlike Bella; only existing because she was obligated to do so. Whenever she had spoken, her voice had shaken, and her eyes had looked pained, as if a huge part of her was missing. Often, when we had been on our bikes, a wistful expression had come over her face, usually closely followed by an injury. I was unable to comprehend how she could spend time with the monster who'd made her life a living hell for those months.
Eventually though, I had begun to melt the wall of ice she had built up around herself, and if he'd have stayed away, it would have been infinitely better for me, because I would have won her, but also so much easier for her. She wouldn't have to change herself for me; I loved her more than anything else in the world exactly as she was. She would not be forced to leave her family and alienate herself, made to watch everybody close to her get older and die while she stayed youthful as ever as the world changed around her. She would be able to live a normal life... with me at her side. How I wished that he could have had the strength to stick to his resolve.
I sat down at the base of a lone tree, and bent my knees up to my chest. I rested my head in my hands, wishing that the battle was already raging, so that I would have some distraction from my thoughts. I pictured myself in the midst of the clash, fighting for what I believed in, fighting to protect her while he sat with her, too cowardly to risk hurting himself to protect her life. How could she love someone like that?
I don't know how long I sat there, below the shadow of the great tree, before I heard the footsteps. It could have been seconds, it could have been hours. Time seemed to be an unimportant measure, only counting down to when Bella would be married to the parasite, and I would lose her forever.
"Jacob." I heard the bloodsucker's condescending voice, "I know you're here."
I grunted once, wondering why he had come to find me, and deciding that he probably just wanted to hurt me more. As I had listened to her telling the leech about her ten best nights, every last one of them spectacular because of him, I had felt a knife stab into my heart. Each time she declared her undying love for him, each time she told him that he was like a dream, each time she confessed that a moment was spectacular simply because he was present, the knife went in deeper. He had come to twist the blade inside of me until I had a gaping wound, and my blood was spilling in a pool of despair around my feet.
"Believe me, dog," Edward said, chuckling lightly as he spoke. "I most definitely did not want to come to find you, and much as I find some of the passionate metaphors that your mind creates interesting, I certainly do not enjoy listening to your thoughts."
"Why are you here then, leech?" I asked, trying to mimic his patronising tone, and failing miserably, instead sounding like an annoyed five year old.
"I'm here because my fiancée obviously cares about you." He murmured, looking quite disgruntled at the fact. "Bella wanted me to bring you back so that she could speak to you."
"Oh, really?" I replied, in a voice as disinterested as I could make it.
"So, you took my advice to heart then?" Edward asked, a smile playing at the corners of his lips. He must have seen the confused expression which I had yearned to conceal, for he elaborated. "I see that you no longer wear your love for Bella on your sleeve, like a fool."
I took a deep breath, and used the tree's strength to hoist myself up to my full height so that I towered over Edward. "We'll see who the fool is."
"Oh Jacob, you must know that I can see right through your transparent, empty threats." Edward said, and I noticed him puffing out his chest and straightening his back in a subconscious effort to appear as tall as me.
"She asked for me to return, didn't she? Maybe she has finally made the decision, the right decision." I growled.
"Or maybe she just wants to apologise, so that she can put your pathetic ways behind her," Edward spoke with utter hatred laced into his voice.
"I can give her so much more than you can," I said, my voice shaking slightly, "you can't even give her the one little thing that she wants without killing her, and you don't even dare to fight for her. You'd rather be a coward than risk loosing your cushy lifestyle."
"I don't have time to explain complex issues to you, cub," Edward turned away, "are you coming to see Bella, or should I just tell her you'd rather wallow in your own despair?"
"Don't get your hopes up, bloodsucker," I hissed, "I'm coming."
We walked in silence through the forest until we reached the clearing.
"I presume you wish to speak with her on your own." Edward said slowly.
"You presume correctly," I said coolly.
"I'll just go to speak to her first, then I'll give you some time," I could tell that Edward was trying to stay civil. He began to walk away, but turned his head over his shoulder to speak, obviously unable to resist one last jibe. "And Jacob, don't get your hopes up. You know what will happen if you do anything she doesn't want you to."
He strutted off towards her. I waited in the forest clearing, growling under my breath as I watched her whisper something to the bloodsucker and let him plant a kiss on her lips. The bloodsucker walked away from her after his bittersweet goodbye, and there she stood, small and alone, with her small arms crossed defensively over her chest. She was staring at me, with a strange expression on her face. She looked happy to see me, but was clearly distressed. She looked confused to the point of bewilderment, and yet she wore a determined grimace.
I walked towards her, each step heavier and more careful than the last until I was less than a metre away from her. The monstrous part of me wanted to make her feel guilty about what she had said, however the rational part of me knew that it was Cullen who had set both of us up. Something about his silky voice and his polite façade made me not expect him to play so dirty. It was not her fault... but I still wanted her to apologise.
I tried to make my voice sound detached and disinterested as I spoke, as if I had not a care in the world. "I'm in a hurry, Bella. Why don't you get it over with?"
Something about the way she cleared her throat and yet refused to speak made me irritated.
"Just say the words and be done with it." I said.
I must have spoken more snappily than I had intended to, because her face fell and she took a deep and shaky breath before she opened her mouth.
She spoke in a wobbly low voice, which was barely more than I whisper. "I'm sorry I'm such a rotten person," she began, and I was about to lie and tell her that it was okay, just to see her smile again, when I realised that she was not finished, "I'm sorry I'm so selfish. I wish I'd never met you, so I couldn't hurt you the way I have. I won't do it anymore, I promise. I'll stay far away from you. I'll move out of the state. You won't ever have to look at me again."
Whatever I had expected her to say, it was not that, and I felt confused. How could she possibly think that I would want her to go away? What had given her the idea that I would be better off if I never saw her again? I felt faintly annoyed because although she had never told me in detail, I imagined she was speaking along the same lines as what Cullen had said to her before he left. She knew how bad that had made her feel, almost suicidal at some points, and yet she was willing, no... eager, to put me through that excruciation.
"That's not much of an apology." I pointed out bitterly.
She looked straight at me for the first time and I could see the pain in her deep brown eyes. "Tell me how to do it right." She pleaded, somewhat pathetically.
I growled quietly and bombarded her with the questions which were running through my head, hoping for some insight into her mind. "What if I don't want you to go away? What if I'd rather you stayed, selfish or not?" I really did not want her to leave, and a sudden thought struck me. "Don't I get any say, if you're trying to make things up to me?"
I thought it was a good point, but she hardly seemed fazed. Her voice grew slightly stronger, but halfway through her speech; her voice cracked and became higher-pitched, almost whiny as if she was going to cry. "That won't help anything, Jake. It was wrong to stay with you when we wanted such different things. It's not going to get better. I'll just keep hurting you. I don't want to hurt you anymore. I hate it."
I felt numb and empty. She really was serious about leaving, and she really thought it was for my own good. I couldn't bear to hear any more.
"Stop. You don't have to say anymore. I understand." I lied, sighing, because in reality I did not understand at all.
She seemed to be psyching herself up to speak, and she opened her mouth, the words getting lost on the way to her tongue. She stood lamely, and I mirrored her body. I looked down at my large feet and contemplated the event. I had lost her. She cared for me, not enough to leave Edward for me, and yet much too much to want to see me suffer. Suddenly a brilliant plan formed in my head. It was cruel, yes, but it might just work - if she really did care about me as much as she thought I did.
I looked up at her, the triumph of my idea smouldering in my eyes, and spoke in a strong, deep voice. "Well you're not the only one capable of self-sacrifice. Two can play at that game."
I had counted on her bewilderment that followed. "What?" she asked.
"I won't let you claim all the blame here, Bella. Or all the glory either. I know how to redeem myself."
Her lingering confusion only made me more ecstatic, and more hopeful that my plan could actually work.
"What are you talking about?" she stammered, fear becoming the prominent emotion in her eyes and voice.
I looked up at the burning sun which floated in the cloudy blue sky, barely peering out. I played my next sentence over in my head, knowing that a wrong move here would screw up everything, and still unsure as to whether I had the heart to do this. My mouth made the decision before my brain had had time to, and I spoke, my voice as dark as a starless, moonless night despite the smile playing across my face. "There's a pretty serious fight brewing down there. I don't think it will be that difficult to take myself out of the picture."
The reality of the situation hit me like a smack in the face. Until I had spoken, my death had been an empty threat, but as I considered the enormity of the situation I realised something. If she didn't love me, if she didn't care, my death would unquestionably be a relief. If she didn't want me I would not be able to live with myself, and maybe the best road to take would be suicide, or something close to it.
Luckily, she reacted as I had hoped for. In fact she reacted more dramatically than I could have imagined, relighting the flame of hope. Her whole body began to shake, her knees knocking together and her eyes watering. She choked, pleading with me. "Oh, no Jake! No, no no no. No, Jake, no. Please, no."
I almost laughed at the number of ‘no's she had put into one sentence, because I was giddy in my happiness. Her reaction made it obvious that she cared, and that meant so much to me. I decided to press my advantage, "What's the difference, Bella? This will only make it more convenient for everyone. You won't even have to move."
She shook her head violently, and I saw a solitary crystalline tear rolling down her cheek. "No! No, Jacob! I won't let you!"
I chortled and taunted her, loving the effect that this was having on her. Maybe it would be enough to make her confess her true feelings for me. "How will you stop me?"
She seemed frozen in place as she pleaded frantically. "Jacob, I'm begging you. Stay with me."
I took deep, rattling breaths. She wanted me to stay with her, but she was going to leave me. All she wanted was to keep me from the fight, and then she was going to dump me and confine me to my misery. I stood still as she begged and cried and confessed her platonic love for me. I argued back, threatening to walk away. She continued to beg, becoming almost hysterical. I informed her that if she wanted me to come back from the fight, she would have to prove that she wanted me.
"How?" she asked.
I felt the corners of my mouth tighten into a strange little smile, "You could ask me."
"Come back," she whispered, her voice cracking with desperation.
I almost laughed at the look on her face. She really didn't understand where I was going. I shook my head, "That's not what I'm talking about."
I watched as her face screw up in concentration. I could almost hear the cogs turning in her brain. Suddenly the truth seemed to dawn on her. She took a slow, deep breath.
"Will you kiss me Jacob?" She asked, and I couldn't believe my ears.
I had wanted her to say that for so long, I had longed for her to want me, but I had definitely not expected my relatively cruel mind games to work so quickly or effectively. I felt a twinge of guilt for using her weakness against her, for I was well aware that she wanted to keep me alive. It seemed that she was prepared to do anything for my survival.
I faltered when I saw the strange expression on her face. I felt my eyes narrow in suspicion. "You're bluffing." I stated simply, trying not to allow the disappointment in my voice to show through. For one hopeful, naive, downright stupid moment I had believed that she actually desired me. Who was I kidding?
I began to turn away, but as I picked up my foot I heard her voice. She spoke grudgingly, but I could hear a trace of sincerity. "Kiss me, Jacob. Kiss me, and then come back."
I did not dare to look at her face, for I was sure I did not want to see her expression. I wanted to think that she honestly wanted me to kiss her. I thought about how low I was being, practically blackmailing her, I had told the bloodsucker that I intended to play dirty, but this was something else entirely. I had more or less decided to leave and stop pressurising her, when I imagined Edward Cullen's gloating face in my mind. I couldn't allow him that kind of satisfaction.
I twisted back around and took a few tentative steps towards her. Her body tensed slightly and she subconsciously shrank back. I could see the doubt in her eyes, and was certain that it was mirrored in mine.
I rocked forwards and backwards on my heels, taking in a deep, calming breath and took another three steps until we were almost touching.
She closed her eyes, I assumed that it was partly due to disgust, and I placed my hand on her cheek. I moved so that my face was less than an inch from hers, and savoured the moment. I could feel her sweet breath on my cheeks; her breaths were short and sharp.
I gripped her face, trying to hold it tight enough to prevent her escape and yet not so tight that I hurt her, for I knew how fragile she was and knew the extent of my own inhuman strength. I dove in and let my lips touch hers, which were sweet and warm despite their motionlessness.
I attempted to force them open, the desire burning my heart and soul. I moved my hand from her face and clutched instead at her neck, and then at her glossy chocolate brown hair. I placed my other hand on her shoulder, and felt her flinch at the warmth of it. I pulled her closer so that our upper bodies were touching and nothing material not even air, remained between us. The invisible barrier she had crafted was still there though, and it would not allow her to return my kiss. She could not escape my grasp, so she stood like a statue, evidently hoping that I would just give up.
I could not give her up though. I had wanted this for so long that I could not let the moment pass. I would not be able to live with myself if I did not take full advantage of the tempting opportunity that had presented itself. Her hands were clenched into fists, and I felt down her smooth arm, bringing it up so it was around my neck, almost like a loving embrace.
I lowered my hand again, this time touching her small waist. I bought her yet closer to me, so that I could feel her legs against mine, and her flat stomach against my hip. I tried to be soft with my lips, using my tongue to try to part hers, to no avail. I traced my mouth across her face, kissing every part of her pink cheek until I reached her ear.
The teenage hormones raged inside of me as I whispered, "You can do better than this, Bella. You're overthinking it."
She sighed in what I believed was happiness, and I thought that finally all that I wished had come true. She had stopped thinking about the leech.
I nibbled gently on her earlobe as I spoke, "That's right. For once, just let yourself feel what you feel."
She began to shake her head, and in that moment I realised she was in denial. Deep down, she loved me more than she would ever dare to admit with Cullen around. I clutched at her head and she jerked away from me. It hit me then that she had not discovered her true feelings yet, for she was still resisting her heart's desire.
I knew she was only doing this to keep me alive, so I pressed my advantage, allowing my voice to become harsh and acidic. Anything to make this closeness last longer. "Are you sure you want me to come back? Or did you really want me to die?"
The thought of my death swayed her when she realised that she could not live without me. She remembered those months when I had been her only salvation and finally began to respond, with alarming, unexpected passion.
She took two handfuls of my hair, and began to kiss me with all the fervour I could possibly have wished for. I gasped in joy and returned my mouth to hers. She pulled me closer so that there was nothing between us. The barrier had dissolved.
I allowed the kiss to continue for a few long minutes, basking in the bliss.
"I have to leave," I whispered finally.
"No," she breathed.
I smiled, for she had finally discovered her true feelings. "I won't be long," I promised her, "but one thing first..."
I bent to kiss her again, briefly. I hugged her to my chest, and felt a slight wetness on my torso. What was happening? Was she crying? I didn't understand, so I pulled away and walked back towards the forest, not daring to look at her face.
When I reached the trees, I allowed myself to think. I replayed all of the events of the past five minutes in my head. She had kissed me, but only because I had tricked her. She had complied, but only to keep me alive. Somehow, that hurt more than anything else. I was in more pain than I had been in earlier, in my enraged confusion.
I loved Bella so much, she meant more to me than anything else in the whole world, but since the bloodsucker had returned, she had done nothing except hurt me. And if I did not give up on her, she would no doubt hurt me more. However, if you love someone, it doesn't matter what they do to you, for you would still cling onto that tiny glimmer of hope encapsulated in the icy caverns of despair. I would never let go of that miniscule sparkle of hope that Bella would come to me.
Everything suddenly made sense. Finally, I realised why she had chosen the vampire who had fragmented her soul for those months. I could finally comprehend. She felt the same way about him as I felt about her. In that moment I realised that I stood not a chance.
I waited impatiently for the battle to begin, it would certainly suffice as a distraction.