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The Ripple Effect

Summary:
What if Bella’s parents never divorced & she was a normal girl. Best friends with Jacob Black for all her life & suddenly the Cullen’s moved to Forks. Everything is Alternate Universe, Romance, drama and friendships galore.


Notes:


24. Chapter 24: Changes

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Chapter 24: Changes

The thing about change is they vary in types; there is good, the bad and the in-between. Sometimes when I could not fall asleep at night, I would dwell on these little things. Now I talked with Edward about them until the late hours, before giving way to the exhaustion. Nevertheless, things had to change and eventually and I with them. This was my biggest struggle, evolution was never ending but for me I was always happy with any consistency possible. Jacob was my rock, the one steady and normal friend in my life that I could always go to. That is, until even he began to transform into a pale shadow of his former self.

I was determined to see Jacob today. School was now over; finals had kept me out of La Push and Jacob on the reservation. The more my mind reeled over the situation at La Push, the more obstacles thwarted me. There was a plan now, I was going to wake up early and leave a note for my parents. I could not have Renee stop me with some lame excuse again.

Last weekend when I mentioned how odd things were with Jacob my mother looked at me funny, before turning away. It was strange, as if everyone knew what was going on except me. Even Charlie said it would be best to stay home for a while, until Jacob stops by. But Jacob did not stop by, or return my phone calls. In addition, the more I wondered what was happening, the more people around me clammed up.

The whole world was in on the big secret but someone had forgotten to tell Bella. When I mentioned the weirdness to Alice or Edward, they shook their heads feigning ignorance. My five messages both voicemail and texts to Jacob were ignored. Little by little between paranoia and anger, a plan was hatched. After begging Alice to keep it a secret from her brother, I made up my mind to sneak out Saturday morning.

As I slowly and quietly exited my front door, Edward waited for me; his arms crossed firmly against his chest.

"Going for an early jog,” he asked. A frown clouded his usually beautiful face.

"Yes," I lied, "Or a drive. I just wanted to get out. What brings you here?" I asked. My voice was getting higher in tone as Edward sighed frustrated with me.

"I can hear you lying Bella," he responded, shaking his head with annoyance. I sighed thankful that he could not hear my thoughts.

"I'm going to La Push," I admitted, walking passed him with determination.

"That is not a good idea Bells." He rushed in front of me, his powers blurring his form as he reappeared blocking my way.

"Why not?" I asked, locking my jaw annoyed.

"You just have to trust me; Jacob is staying away for a reason. He is fine; I just talked to him yesterday so..." He looked up at me, shaking his head at his own slip.

"He talked to you but he won't return my calls," I questioned, anger building. "What is going on between you two? Does he know...?" I was becoming erratic now. My hand covered my heart, as I thought of Jacob falling prey to the Volturi.

"Bella, listen it is complicated. La Push is the last place you should be right now. Jacob has come to me for help because of the legends that involve us. I cannot say anymore, I want to; but I cannot." He sighed looking at me with such sad eyes.

“Fine, that’s fine Edward but he is my oldest friend. And I want to see him; I need to see him just like I need to see you some times. I love him, he’s like a brother to me and I can’t sleep. I can’t rest until I see him, even if its just for a minute to make sure he’s okay.” I stared into Edward’s eyes, willing the tears to stay put. They betrayed me as Edward smiled sadly, catching the drop from my cheek before sighing.

“I want you to call me when you get there and when you leave,” he caved. Closing his eyes with worry he braced himself, before staring back at me.

“Okay, I will,” I replied trying to hide my grin as he walked me to my truck.

“Just be careful Bella, stay on the Black’s property. Also try not to make any trouble for Jake,” he instructed looking away for a moment before opening my car door.

“You really won’t tell me what’s going on?” I pleaded.

Edward just stared back at me. Whatever this secret was, he could not betray it. He shook his head helping me up into the car before closing my door.

My drive to the reservation was faster than usual. I pushed the Chevy to its limits as it moaned in protest. In the corner of my eye when I passed the invisible line onto Quileute territory, I could see movement in the trees. My heart began to beat faster as I pushed the engine further; hoping to out speed whatever was following me. After a few minutes, the animal disappeared from my view and I was pulling into Jacob’s driveway.

When I cut the engine, Jake came outside. He looked annoyed and slightly irritated.

“What are you doing here Bells?” he asked. He was clad only in his torn jean shorts and sneakers.

“Well, hello to you too. I just haven’t seen you around and was wondering...” I started. Jacob rolled his eyes, walking away from me.

I followed him towards the back of the house, into his temporary sat down on one of the lawn chairs, grabbing a soda and handing me one too.

“So as you can see I’m fine,” he blurted out, shrugging as he chugged his drink.

I smiled awkwardly trying a different maneuver, “So I heard you’ve been talking with Edward more lately. I think that’s great.”

He snorted shaking his head, his hair was so short but you could tell he still had not gotten used to its length.

“You came to talk about Cullen?” he inquired, getting up fast and opening his toolbox.

I laughed shrugging, “No, I came to see how you were. I know everything at home has been difficult for you so I thought...”

“Well, everything is fine, just peachy even. So, you can stop worrying so much about me.” I could hear the anger and sadness in his voice, as I stood up while he disappeared under the car.

“So what do you and Edward talk about?” I questioned laughing dryly waiting for my friend to answer.

“Nothing really Bella, its just I thought he would understand.” He poked his head from under the car, switching tools before going back under.

“Understand what?” I prodded. My friend heaved a raspy sigh before swearing under his breath.

“Just stuff Bella, that’s all.” He sat up grabbing his tools before making a beeline for the toolbox.

“You know you can talk to me Jake. There’s the phone or you can come to Forks if they’re giving you trouble here...” I smiled, wrinkling my nose trying to lighten the mood.

“You can’t always fix things Bella,” Jacob spat. He tossed a wrench into his metal toolbox annoyed. “You just can’t waltz down here and try to smile and be perky and fix my life.”

I shook my head, ‘Is that how Jacob saw me?’ “Jacob I didn’t mean it like that it’s just.”

“It’s just what? This is who I am Bella; maybe my Dad and the other guys are right. Maybe my place is here at the Reservation.” His hands were shaking, as he looked away not convinced of his own words.

“You can’t mean that Jacob? You can be and do whatever you want.” I was confused, where had my best friend gone. Moreover, since when did he become so sad and cynical?

He laughed shrugging dryly before looking me in the eyes. “No, that’s you Bella, you have a choice, I don’t.” There was a bite to his words, almost malice as he spat Have at me.

My heart quickened at a thought, but I suppressed it moving closer to my friend. If I could just shake this Jacob away my Jake would come back to me. He seemed so lost and so angry. We have been in fights before, but this was like none of them. This was something more; Jacob wasn't mad at me but he wanted me to believe he was.

“Jake, this isn’t like you.” I stepped towards him reaching out to take his hand. It was so hot; he flinched pulling away from me. “Jacob, are you sick?” I asked when my friend moved further away.

“No, I’m fine Bella. But you shouldn’t be here right now. If Sam and the other guys saw you I’d hear about it.” The way he said, it was odd. Sam, now seemed to wield power over the reservation and I was no longer a welcomed guest.

“What does Sam have against me?” I asked. Jacob walked out of the garage leading me towards the driveway.

“He knows Bella, he saw you with the Cullens.” He eyed me, his gaze wincing with some self-restraint.

“What does that mean? Just because I’m friends with the Cullens you and I can’t be friends?” I questioned. My feet moved me closer to Jacob as he looked away annoyed.

“Bella don’t do this okay; don’t put me in the middle here. That’s why I asked Edward to keep you in Forks, just for a while. It’s not safe for you on the Reservation, not yet.”

“And why is it okay for Edward to know everything and not me?” I retorted annoyed as Jacob led me closer to my truck.

“Because that is how it is, those are the rules Bella. The only person I can trust is Edward and no, I can’t tell you why. But soon this will blow over and then maybe we can get back to our lives with some semblance of normality.” Jacob turned quickly towards the woods, his attention taken away from me before looking back worried.

He opened my car door motioning for me to get inside. I could see something flicker in my friend’s eye, a longing to tell me something to let me in. “Go home Bella, I will call you when I can.”

He sounded so old, so assertive; I couldn’t stop my legs from complying. While starting the truck I looked toward Jacob. He was bigger, bulkier than before, his muscles gleamed under the early morning sun. He stood even with the door jam, having to duck before walking into his house. I was dumbstruck by my friend and took off down the road more confused and sad than ever before.

It was halfway back home before I realized things weren't right. With a shake of my head my Chevy turned around following my will to sort things out. This time I didn’t pull into the Black’s driveway, but kept going and stopped outside of the Clearwaters'. There was anger, hurt and confusion all boiling inside of me. But mostly I hoped Seth or even Leah would help clear up the situation.

When I slammed my car door shut, Seth met me on the front lawn. He closed his front door carefully, before motioning towards the side of the house.

“You shouldn’t be here right now Bella,” he whispered.

Seth had grown over a foot since I had last seen him. His small frame had widened, his chest had become thicker and he too was sporting a crew cut.

“No-one will tell me what’s going on Seth. Is Leah here?” I whispered as Seth tried to quiet me down.

“You should listen to him,” Leah replied.

She walked towards us from the front of the house, her arms crossed. Her hair was sleeker, even more shiny and vibrant as it lay on her copper shoulders. Leah had become more beautiful than when I saw her last. Yet, there was sadness in her eyes, a bitterness she looked like a tired beauty.

“Look, it is best that you leave. Sam doesn’t want you here and until...” Seth began as Leah growled low at her brother.

“That is none of her business,” she warned through gritted teeth.

“Bella is cool,” Seth argued but he backed away from me a bit anyway.

“Sam says Bella is not to be trusted. He says she is with the others,” Leah added, her eyes narrowing at her brother.

“Well Sam won’t be saying much soon when Jacob...” he began, but the boy stopped turning towards the front lawn with worry.

“Get her to the car,” Leah ordered as Seth took my hand leading me away.

I could feel the tension in the air. The air pressure was rising as Seth dragged me away; trying to placate me while doing so.

“Sam has a temper, and him and Leah well they’re not the same since he came back so...”

I turned to see Sam emerging from the south woods. He was wearing shorts with no shirt, a popular state of dress lately for the Reservation. Leah put her arms out, it seemed they were arguing and then Sam pushed her away as he came towards me. I had never seen Sam so angry before, he was larger more menacing since last year. My heart beat erratically when I heard Jacob’s voice booming and commanding.

“Leave her alone,” my friend commanded. He walked past Leah, who was brushing off her jeans annoyed.

Sam turned back towards Jacob, before narrowing his gaze at me.

“You shouldn’t have come here,” Sam growled, glaring at me sternly. His nostrils flared before he made a disgusted face. It wasn’t the first time he had done this, but I was seeing red.

“I keep hearing that. What have I done exactly to deserve this?” I questioned, trying to keep my voice steady. I wasn’t going to give Sam any enjoyment out of getting emotional.

“You don’t know?” he asked. Jacob stood in between us. The boys were both the same height now. Jacob was becoming more of a man catching up to Sam’s girth.

Jacob seemed more defined. His poise was almost regal, while Sam seemed to teeter at his presence.

“She will go now,” Jacob ordered, standing his ground. Sam looked him in the eyes a fight of wills playing out before me.

“It is not safe for her to be here right now. Especially with all the changes going on,” Sam finally replied his force lightening slightly.

“She came to see me. And now she is going,” Jacob finally announced his arms kept at his side. His muscles were constricting and bulging, as if he was fighting against himself.

“I said there were to be no outsiders,” Sam reminded him, narrowing his gaze on my friend.

“And I disobeyed you. But now she is leaving,” Jake replied, after a pregnant pause.

“Like hell I am,” I chimed in. Jake turned to me, his eyes were pleading. I was intruding on something much bigger than our friendship right now. His look was all I needed to shut up.

“Are you challenging me Black?” Sam asked. His face wasn’t angry though, instead he smiled almost enjoying the moment.

Seth and Leah watched as Jacob turned from me, back to Sam.

“I am saying I will call you Bella before I come to visit,” my best friend called to me. He turned away from Sam, as if the argument was over now that I was in my truck.

"But Jake," I pleaded as he helped me into the truck.

"You remember this fall, what I told you?" He smiled shaking his head playfully like a puppy with a new toy.

"What about it?" I asked. Jacob motioned to close the door as I buckled my seatbelt.

"You didn't read all of it did you? Not really," he laughed closing the door before playfully patting the hood as I drove away.

What did Jacob mean? And what was going on in La Push? The further I drove away from the reservation the more the anxiety lifted from my chest. There was something going on with the Quileute tribe and Jacob was trying to tell me. The further away I drove the more my fingers itched to figure it all out.

The realization hit me as I pulled my truck into the driveway. Alice's yellow sports-car sat idle in the drive. With my friend visiting that meant my parents were awake, this didn't bode well for me. I was welcomed home with two angry parents. Renee looked worried while Charlie seemed annoyed at my disobedience. Alice was in the kitchen, smiling as both my parents' arms were sternly crossed whilst they gave me stern glares.

"Where did you go young lady?" Renee questioned. This was her angry stern Mom impression; it was strange on my Mother.

"An explanation is in order Bells," Charlie followed up. Alice raised her eyebrows not helping the situation.

"I went to see Jacob. He called me so," I shrugged sitting at the kitchen counter as my parents exchanged knowing glances.

"So Jacob is okay then?" Charlie asked. His brow furrowed as I looked up trying to keep a poker face.

"Well I was hoping you wanted to hang out Bells?" Alice asked as Renee nervously pulled bagels from the brown bag.

Somehow my friend had calmed the situation. From interrogators to nervous fidgeting parents Renee and Charlie turned away. It was the quickest transition in my entire life and made me more paranoid.

"Yeah, you two go have some fun. No sense in staying cooped up this summer," Charlie agreed unusually eager to get me out of the house.

"Well I need to go upstairs first anyway." I motioned towards my room as Alice followed in my wake.

"Did Edward send you over?" I inquired as my friend trailed me into the room.

"No, this is a solo mission. I just figured you might need me here for some reconnaissance," she chuckled waking up my laptop with ease.

"So you know what Jacob said?" I asked as Alice shook her head with a frown.

"You talked to Jacob? That makes sense;" she replied. “So when are you going to finish this story you’ve been working on?” she asked, rifling through my files.

“When it’s ready to be finished,” I responded. Alice had a way with getting me off track.

“You’ll have some free time soon,” she laughed. My friend handed me the computer before we both collapsed on the bed.

"Your not going to tell me what's going on are you?" I questioned. But Alice didn’t respond, instead she just smiled shrugging.

With a sigh, I began going back to the bookmarks from the fall. Here was all the information I could find about the Quileutes and the cold ones. We spent over an hour combing through various sites. Alice watched me patiently as the pieces of this puzzle began to come together.

"Wolves," I blurted out. Alice perked up from playing with my snow-globe.

"Yes," my friend sang. She leaned over my shoulder to read, as I Google searched.

"It keeps going back to the Quileute tribe and their legends. They supposedly descended from wolves. All the stories I heard growing up. When Jacob’s elders would wear ancient wolf hide and tell stories about the time before now." My mind was reeling everything was starting to make sense.

We decided to limit the search to Vampires and wolves. When the search query came back, my heart skipped a few beats. Werewolves it corrected, legendary Limikkin vs Vampire. My hand covered my mouth as things began dawn on me. Jacob was right. While I spent all my energy focusing on the Cold Ones; I never bothered to look up more about why they were enemies. Alice sighed, laying back down as I closed the computer dumbstruck.

"We couldn't tell you, it was forbidden. Some part of the agreement made years ago," my friend murmured.

"Why can't I go to La Push then?" I inquired trying to take this all in.

The supernatural really was all around me. My best friend and my love, shape shifter and vampires; suddenly I felt in the middle of some teen drama. Alice stayed silent, waiting for me to relax before answering.

"They're changing, that's why I can't see them. I could not today and not that day in the woods," she whispered breaking me from my reverie.

"That's what Sam was talking about? He was the one who tried to save me in the woods from James. The growl was him it had to be. That's why Sam was so upset." My heart was thumping hard, my chest heaving with every desperate breath.

I grabbed my cell-phone as Alice watched me, taking it away before I could get it open.

"Alice," I cried as she began typing a text message for me.

"I told him you read what he wanted you to and that you will wait for his text." She laughed tossing me my phone back, "What I'm faster?"

I shook my head, slightly annoyed but grateful to my friend. If it weren't for Alice, my hands would have shaken throughout the text.

"What do I do now?" I asked unaware of how to handle this situation.

"You do nothing, he is still Jacob right? So you do nothing. The last thing he wants is for you to treat him differently," she advised taking my hand and leading me out of my room.

"Where are we going?" I inquired. Alice laughed walking me down the stairs.

"This calls for homemade mint chocolate chip ice cream, Esme made it yesterday for you." Alice chuckled, waving to Renee as we walked out of the house.

My parents were too eager to see me go with Alice. Their trusting faces waving us away as we walked down the drive. I was led into the car, locked on autopilot as my friend drove. There were little things still in the air that were irksome, and that’s when it dawned on me.

"My parents have been acting weird. Have they known all this time?" I questioned the last two weeks finally coming together.

Alice sighed, driving at dangerous speeds towards her house.

"I think they have some idea, yes. Sarah needed someone to talk to and they brought your parents in."

"But Edward," I interrupted. Alice shook her head, turning on the road towards her house.

"It's part of the pact. We don't tell anyone about the Quileute’s and they don't tell anyone about us."

Alice replied so plainly and suddenly, that we were in her driveway before I could catch my breath.

"So should I pretend not to know with them? Or should I confront them?" I wondered turning to my friend as she parked her car.

"You wait until Jacob contacts you, until then there's nothing you can do Bells."

I shook my head confused at Alice, "That goes against everything my heart is telling me to do though."

"Do you trust me?" my friend inquired turning the car off before staring me down.

"Yes of course, this is just hard;" I replied annoyed at myself.

"Esme will know what to say," Alice reassured me as we entered the house. It was eerily quiet, except for a sweet humming coming from the kitchen.

"Where is everybody?" I questioned as my friend sighed.

"They're meeting with Jacob; it's what those two have been working on all this time."

After the last few hours my brain was ready to let Alice's comments go.

I ate mechanically while Alice chatted away. Occasionally Esme glanced at m; she had that look that Mother’s get sometimes. With a smirk, Alice left us alone as her mother smiled intent on having a conversation.

“How are you handling all of this Bella?” she asked, patting my hand gently.

I shook my head, trying to find the right words.

“I have no idea? Maybe tomorrow it will sink in. But right now I just want to see Jacob, to make sure this is real.”

I was stammering, but a gentleness was emanating from Esme and it calmed me.

“I can only imagine how you feel right now, but it will get easier. You are a very accepting and mature young woman. There is no doubt in my mind that Jacob is a good friend; he has certainly proved to be towards Edward.”

I blinked a few times, jealousy sprouting in the pit of my stomach. I wanted Jacob all to myself and Edward too. The idea of sharing them was making me feel five years old. I laughed at the thought as Esme grinned satisfied.

There was a nearly inaudible noticed in the distance as Esme perked up. Alert, she looked up towards the window before turning back to me.

“They are outside Bella.”

She took a whiff of the air, as the front door opened slightly.

“Jacob is waiting for you, go,” she encouraged giving my hand a gentle squeeze.

I bounded down the steps, falling into Edward’s arms as I tripped on the last one.

“Bells,” he chided helping me back on my feet.

“Jacob he’s waiting for me,” I whispered my heart pounding at the thought.

Between being in Edward's arms and wanting to talk to Jacob my chest was pounding.

My boyfriend looked up, listening to his Mother’s thoughts before smirking at me.

“Of course, go. He wants to talk to you on common ground, that is why he has come”

Before I could leave him, Edward kissed me on the forehead. He then gently released me out the door.

Jacob was leaning against the old oak tree by the side of the house. His face was staring at the ground and hard to read. He seemed cautions and curious at the same time. I smiled, trying to hide my reservations; after-all this was still my best friend. The last thing I wanted was for him to feel anything had changed between the two of us.

“Jake,” I called as my friend looked up surprised.

“Hey Bells.” He laughed oddly standing up straight to greet me. “Wanna go for a walk?” he asked motioning towards the lush backyard.

I gave him a quick nod, stuffing my hands into my pockets nervously.

“You could have told me Jake,” I mused smirking at my friend.

He chuckled running his hand through his thick mane.

“No I couldn’t actually. But there was a loophole, you already knew about the legends. So in the end I just reminded you, it was Alice’s idea actually.”

My smiled broadened, imagining Alice finding some way to let me in on the secret.

“So what is it like, being... a wolf?"

I couldn’t stop the laugh from escaping, as my friend winced.

“I’m not sure, I haven’t completed the change yet. But when I do I’ll be sure to let you know,” Jacob joked. He kicked a rock into the forest as we returned to the driveway.

“So can you hang out with me now, or are you out on bail?” I was trying to keep the mood light, Jacob responded the right way.

“I snuck out actually, so the others have no idea. I’ll run home to get the scents off of me first. Maybe take a dip here or there along the way.

Jacob seemed to brighten at the idea of running through the woods towards La Push. His smile was so welcoming, that for a moment I forgot all that had transpired.

“So now what do we do Jake? When can I see you again, without all the cloaks and daggers?”

We fell into stride again, walking down the winding drive towards the woods by the roadside.

“Whenever I can I’ll text you, maybe a phone call here or there. It’s just not safe right now. But when the time is right I will tell you everything Bells. I just need you to trust me okay?”

He leaned away from me, his nose in the air as he took long steady breaths.

“Promise?” I asked, holding out my pinky as Jacob shook his head amused.

“Come on not the pinky swear again Bella, are we ten?” He chortled, wincing at the immature gesture.

I shook my hand, pinky still out trying to break him down. “I promise,” he finally caved locking fingers with mine for good measure.

We were kids again for a minute, keeping secrets and looking out for one another. But the wind changed and Jacob was gone, disappearing into the woods on his way back. Despite our few words I knew everything would work out now. Just seeing Jacob, feeling a part of his life again was enough for me.

My boring life had taken a turn with Edward, and now Jacob was starting an adventure. He was still changing into something entirely different all-together. For him this was the beginning and I wanted to be with him all the way. Every scrape and bruise, from the chicken pox to the measles it was Bella and Jacob. Now he was alone and the more I thought about it, the more determined I was to be by his side.

For the past year I was so focused on Edward and me; while my best friend in the meantime was going through hell. This was it, if Edward was going to help Jake he wouldn’t be doing it without me. One way or another I was going to make things right. I owed Jacob my support. Since Sarah had Renee and Billy had Charlie, it only made sense. This was a new beginning for Jacob, a new start; I could feel it coming. There was a whole new world out there and no way Jacob was going to venture it solo. What tomorrow would bring I wasn't sure. But, what I do know is that none of us will ever be the same.