What makes us who we are? Our history? Our actions? Our hopes for the future? Our desires for the past? The Cullens try to discover who they really are.
7. Chapter 7
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At the end of the war, the veterans return home. There is a show—a parade—to welcome them. There are hugs and kisses and praise and questions—but not too many questions—not about the wrong things.
And then they are left alone. The cameras and people and questions fade away, and they are left with the war and their families who want them to be someone they once were.
Then the depression sets in and the loneliness chokes them and the guilt rises up to look them in the eye.
And they aren’t the same. How could they be?
“Guess who?” he whispered in her ear, gently, not wanting to distract her from the book in her lap. She looked heartbreakingly cute with that little ‘V’ between her eyes that she got while concentrating.
“Hi,” she smiled and brought both her hands up to his one, pulling it down. “I missed you.”
He sat down across from her on her bed, and she leaned forward and kissed his lips, then smiled. Jacob laughed, “Geez. It was less than a day, Carlie.”
“Too long,” she shook her head, wrapping her arms around his neck and placing the book beside her. “How’s Billy?”
He shrugged, “Still dancing.”
She smiled and pulled herself into his lap, “Of course.”
“He misses you—insisted I bring you with me next time.”
“Well then, I guess you’ll have to take me.”
“Guess so,” he rested his forehead on hers. “How was church?”
“Eh…” she sighed and bit her lip. “Weird and…heavy and…I said weird?”
“You did,” he smiled.
“It was weird,” she nodded.
She winced slightly and took his face in her hands, “Ugh! I really do wish I could tell you, but…”
“Secrets?” his eyes went wide.
“I’m sorry,” she pulled him into a hug.
He grinned widely and brought his hands down to tickle her sides. She squealed and playfully pushed him away. “You’re keeping church secrets from me, little girl?” He pinned her down and continued to tickle her.
“Not by choice, I swear!” she laughed. “Stop! Jake!” They both laughed as he pulled his hands away and rolled off of her, lying next to her on the bed. After a few moments, she turned towards him, leaning up on her elbow, “I promise, Jake. If I could tell you, I would.”
“Don’t worry about it,” he shrugged. “I’m just messing with you.”
He held up a hand, “Wolf’s honor.”
She smiled and rolled on top of him, “Are wolves terribly honorable? I seem to remember something about little pigs and grandmothers.”
“Ugh,” he pretended to be offended. “A few bad apples and the rest of us as stuck with that rep for eternity.”
“Ah, I see. So you’re a nice doggy, then?” she smirked.
He wrinkled his nose, “When I wanna be.”
She giggled and ducked down into another kiss. They both smiled when they broke apart, and Nessie pushed herself off him.
Jacob inhaled, smelling the garlic from downstairs, “You don’t by any chance know what that’s about.”
“No,” she shrugged. “Though my guess would be for you.”
“You think Blondie’s cooking for me?” he cocked a doubtful eyebrow.
“Stranger things have happened,” she mused.
“Hmm,” he put a finger to his mouth, “No, you know, not really. They really haven’t.”
She laughed, “Hey, maybe she’s trying to grow as a person. Expand her horizons. Make new friends.”
“Yeah, you and Rose—you’re gonna be ‘besties’ in no time. I’m sure of it,” she nodded, running her hands through his hair. “You growing it out again?”
“Nah, just incredibly lazy,” he shrugged. “You like it?”
She wrinkled her nose, “No. Not really—not at all actually. It’s…I mean, if I’m being honest, it’s kind of painful to be looking at you right now. I’m, uh, in physical pain as we speak.”
“Wow,” he nodded.
“Yeah,” she bit her lip, “Its, uh, its pretty bad.”
“Well then, I guess I should fix that, huh?”
“Jacob Black,” she pushed him gently, “Pay someone to cut your hair. Pay someone who knows what they’re doing! You’re being totally irrational.”
“I don’t need someone else to cut it,” he shrugged. “I can do it just fine. It’s a waste of money.”
“Hey, as someone who spends a good amount of time looking at you, I think my opinion should hold some weight here,” she kissed him. “Okay? I order you, you…imprinter, you…I order you as your imprintee to pay someone to give you a freaking haircut.”
“Ugh,” he gave an overdramatic sigh, “Well, now I guess I have to.”
“Yep,” she smiled. “You absolutely have to.”
Downstairs, they could hear the family come home behave how they always did. Carlisle joined in on the cooking, and Bella offered advice and encouragement as Edward watched her ease and comfort with pride.
Jasper and Alice had given a very brief greeting to everyone before darting upstairs—so quick the family could barely see their faces.
Emmett was waiting outside the house, taking his time walking to the door.
And for a moment, things were just as they always had been. For a moment, the parade marched through and music played and everyone felt like they could be who they once were.
“What’s wrong?” Jacob leaned his forehead against Nessie’s.
She opened her mouth to say something and then bit her lip and shrugged.
“Church secrets?” he smiled.
“Not exactly,” she wrinkled her brow. “I just…I don’t know if it was all worth it, you know? I’m not sure what was accomplished. I’m not sure why it needed to happen.”
“Did you grow as a person? Have you repented against your sins?” he smiled.
“Could you not mock me for three seconds, please?” she tried not to smile.
They both laughed lightly, and he nodded, “I’m sorry. Well, I’m sure something was accomplished. Church is good for, you know, self-actualization and meditation and…other very important ‘ations’.”
“Yeah, yeah,” she nodded. “I guess. I just…I thought something would change—something would happen.”
“Maybe it will,” he shrugged.
“Yeah,” she said. “Maybe it will.”
“Renesmee,” Edward stood at the open door and knocked twice on the frame.
“Oh, uh, hi, Dad,” she smiled nervously, trying to inch herself off Jacob’s lap discretely.
“You need to come downstairs,” he said. “You too, Jacob. Emmett—he did something, and we all need to—well—discuss.”
“Is everything okay?” she asked.
The family grouped together and listened as Emmett explained as well as he could. Their voices got louder as the hours went by and louder still when Rosalie caught the red tint to Jasper’s eyes. Bella was quiet, still not feeling like enough of a vampire to discuss purely vampire issues. Jacob held Nessie’s hand and did not let go. Carlisle was calm and pacifying, while Esme contained and refrigerated the meal she’d successfully made. Edward and Alice stayed inside their own heads, throwing out potential solutions and speaking to no one.
And things had changed.