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Walking with the Ghost

Summary:
I was staring at a changeling: enormous and angular, comprised of russet skin and heat. A blazing, glorious sun that washed over me in ways subtle and wise, burning away the shadows of twilight...

After jumping into the waves at First Beach, Bella comes out from beneath the overwhelming shadow of Edward Cullen. In that moment, she becomes a woman, finding the reasoning, intelligent person who existed pre-New Moon. And sees, truly sees, Jacob Black for the first time.

[Props to JokesOnJane for the awesome banner!]


Notes:


1. Chapter 1 - Bella

Rating 5/5   Word Count 607   Review this Chapter

It took only a moment for the icy skin of the Pacific to break under my weight, the vacuum of the arrival drawing me deep enough to be caught by the tow.

Before I could catch a breath, before I could consciously remember to pull air into my lungs, I was under again. Dark hair pulled through the rough foam of the surface before being swallowed whole. My throat was thick with water, my chest in a vice as I panicked. What the hell are you doing, Bella Swan? There was no ethereal cadence in the voice that clamored for my attention. It was furious, sensible, making commands with firm authority. Push upwards! Get above the water! Kick those damn legs! Live! Live! I supposed, in the half-conscious moments I spent clawing for the surface, my eyes focused on the diluted light that skimmed the dark water, that this voice that had stoked my own anger, channeled every ounce of my dimming strength was something I had temporarily misplaced. The quiet reason that had lived under the shadow of Edward Cullen’s glamour.

It was ironic that I would find myself just as I was dying.

***

It was the low pant of dogs that brought me to consciousness.

My eyes were slow to respond to the impulse to open them, heavy and shy against the irregular pelting of cold rain on my face. My fist was curled around beach grit and something was pulling the wet tangle of my hair so hard I thought my head was going to explode under the pressure. I drew in my first conscious breath too recklessly and my lungs spasmed wetly against the bruised cage of my chest. I rolled weakly, turning my face into the beach as I vomited up what felt like oceans of salt water and bile. Oh fuck, I was alive.

I was not alone. As I buckled under the weight of lifting myself away from the watery purge of my stomach, I felt strong hands at my forearm, bringing me upward. No, no, no, no, my inner voice cried out in mingled shame and horror at the thought of someone finding me here. Of what they would say to Charlie. But it was too much effort to struggle and I fell bonelessly into a crushing embrace. I was enveloped by the scent of cedar, an earthy thing that seemed to emanate from the burning body around me.

“J-Jacob?” I stammered, my throat burning as the name came out a croaky whisper. I was a fraction of an inch away from his mouth, watching it move in words I couldn’t hear. I tried to focus, disbelieving my luck, and forced my limp hands up to his face, beach grit tracking the path of my palms. I dragged in a painful breath as I watched the rain over his lips. Without thinking, I traced them with my thumb, bringing the finger to my parched mouth. Jacob stilled, his words falling around me as his grip tightened. I caught his eyes in the same moment that I caught my breath.

I realized that while I had spent ages looking at Jacob, I had never truly seen him.

I was staring at a changeling: enormous and angular, comprised of russet skin and heat. A blazing, glorious sun that washed over me in ways subtle and wise, burning away the shadows of twilight. All the while hiding nothing of itself. With a clarity I had apparently revoked since coming to Forks, I knew something had shifted in me. I was waking from a dream.

So of course, I burst into tears.