Text Size Large SizeMedium SizeSmall Size    Color Scheme Black SchemeWhite SchemeGrey SchemePaper Scheme        

Chasing the Storm

Summary:
AU - What if Alice had seen Bella jump... but Bella answered the phone when Edward called? What if Alice saw a vision of Bella happy... but it wasn't with Edward? What if Edward returned to Forks, with every intention to check on Bella and leave... but when he sees her with someone else, his motives change? How do you choose between the person who was there to catch you when you fell… and the person who was there to make the jump with you in the first place? He let go of my arm, but kept staring at me, and I stared back up at him, eyes wide. "If you're going to let him go, then let him go." --Chapter 12 now posted!


Notes:


12. Chapter 12 - Changes

Rating 5/5   Word Count 3993   Review this Chapter

It was just like my nightmares - no, it was worse than my nightmares because this was real. There was no waking up from this.

Jacob exploded in a mass of russet colored fur and he wrestled Edward to the ground. They were moving too quickly for my human eyes to follow their movements, but I still could hear them - I could hear Jacob growling and Edward swearing and I could do nothing but watch silently in fear. I was afraid to make a sound or get too close when I caught sight of Jacob's teeth dangerously close to Edward's neck and gasped, but Edward's fist came down hard against his face, and he growled. Edward snarled.

"Jacob, no!" I yelled, and his eyes snapped to mine. There was malice there, but there was something else too, something that made my heart break. Jacob was distracted - enough that Edward was able to shove him roughly to the side, and he fell with a yelp as Edward stood up.

Jacob was panting but I didn't think it was because he was out of breath - my heart pounded at breakneck speed in my chest and Edward reached his hand out to me. I hesitantly allowed myself to be folded in his arms, but I couldn't tear my eyes off of Jacob.

Jacob growled, which immediately turned into a howl of what I could only describe as grief, before he turned and fled.

Edward was running his hand through my hair, trying to comfort me, but I barely acknowledged the gesture. He didn't say anything for a few moments. When he did, it was, "You're shaking."

"Cold," I whispered, even though we both knew it was a lie.

He looked at me for a moment, then sighed. "Come on. I'll take you home."

"D-don't want to go home," I mumbled.

Edward sighed, exasperated, "Bella-"

"Please," I begged, clinging to his shirt, and he must have sensed the desperation in my tone because he simply kissed me on the forehead, then slowly swung me onto his back.

"Hold on to me," he murmured. I clutched my arms around his neck and squeezed my eyes shut as he took off running.

We got back to my truck in record time. Edward had to forcefully disentangle my hands from his neck before he could gently place me in the passenger seat. I didn't argue with him when he sat down on the driver's side and turned the car around, heading back towards Forks.

I was still shivering violently, and Edward turned up the heat as high as it would go. He kept glancing at me worriedly out of the corner of his eye. I wanted to tell him that I was all right, but that would have been a lie - clearly, I was not all right.

By the time we pulled up to his house, the clock on the dashboard read 3:45. I was beyond exhausted, but I couldn't get my limbs to move correctly. I knew I should have had Edward take me home - if Charlie woke up and saw, not only that I wasn't in my room, but that my truck was missing from the front of the house, he would be beyond livid - but I couldn't find the will to argue, not when Edward lifted me into his arms and I curled against his chest.

A blur at the front door revealed itself to be Alice. She was shocked to see me, and seemed somewhat horrified by the state I was in. "Bella what are you-" Her eyes snapped up to her brother. "Edward, what happened? I tried to look ahead, but you both disappeared."

"Jacob," Edward spit the word from between his teeth, and I shuddered again.

Alice's eyes narrowed. "What did the mutt do?"

"Alice, please," my voice was hoarse, and I wasn't sure she would listen, considering I was still huddled in Edward's arms. "D-don't."

Alice looked from one of us to the other, then fixed Edward with a long, hard stare.

Edward sighed. "I promise. But she's freezing, and I want to get her into some dry clothes before she gets sick."

"I'm f-fine," I snapped, although the fact that I was stuttering obviously said otherwise.

He said nothing in response, but simply carried me into the house and ran up the stairs, ignoring the questions being fired at him at all sides from his family.

When we got to his room, Edward set me down gently on his couch, then disappeared for all of a minute. When he came back, he had already changed and was holding a towel and what looked suspiciously like...

I quirked my eyebrow. "I-is that your shirt?"

Edward chuckled. "Well, I could ask Rosalie if you could borrow some of her clothes, if you'd prefer."

I shook my head, then shuddered. Edward helped me to my feet and practically had to peel my coat off of me. It fell to the floor with a slap.

I toed off my shoes and socks carefully, then blushed furiously as I reached for my shirt. Standing in Edward's room, even freezing cold and shivering, I was embarrassed to be getting dressed - or undressed, in this case - in front of him.

Edward seemed to sense my hesitation and turned his back to go stand by the door. I peeled off my shirt and slipped out of my bra - I couldn't get my hands to stop shaking long enough to undo the hooks - then slipped his shirt on as quickly as I could.

However, when it came time to undo the button on my jeans, my fingers kept slipping. After three attempts, I swallowed my pride. "Edward," I said quietly.

He didn't turn around just yet. "Yes?"

"I c-can't get my hands to stop shaking and I," I mumbled, "I n-need help."

Edward turned around slowly, almost as if he were testing himself – or maybe making sure that I wasn’t trying to play some kind of trick.

I took that opportune moment to sneeze.

He smiled, then easily reached to unbutton my jeans. They stuck to my legs as they glided down, and each brush of Edward’s fingers against my skin sent sparks shooting up my spine. He must have noticed the way my heartbeat jumped – he looked up at me from underneath his lashes, eyes scorching in the darkness, fighting back a smirk as he turned around to grab a pair of pants off of the couch. I took the few seconds his back was turned to push my jeans to the side and step out of my underwear, flushing hotly. This wasn’t exactly how I’d imagined the first time Edward would see me even close to naked.

“You-you know,” I said as he handed me a pair of Forks High School sweatpants to put on, desperately trying to make light of the situation. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were enjoying this.” I lost my balance and had to clutch onto his shoulder for support. I blushed further, slipping into the pants as quickly as possible.

Edward chuckled darkly and scooped me up into his arms, laying me down on the couch. He wrapped me up in a veritable cocoon of blankets and kissed my forehead. “Under different circumstances, I would be enjoying the situation very much.”

I pressed my hand to the side of his face. “Please don’t be sad. This isn’t your fault.”

Edward simply shook his head and pressed a kiss to my palm. “I’m going to bring your clothes downstairs so Esme can wash them. I’ll be right back.”

My eyes were already falling closed by the time Edward returned a few minutes later, sliding behind me and wrapping his arms around my waist.

“Did everything go all right with Esme?” My words were garbled and barely understandable.

“Everything is fine. Sleep, my Bella. I love you.”

“Love you,” I mumbled, burrowing into his arms before allowing sleep to finally take me.

I fell asleep on Edward’s couch. I woke up in the middle of the next afternoon, confused and disoriented, in my bedroom.

My first instinct was to reach out an arm upon waking to pull Edward close to me. When I found no one there, I opened first one eye, then the next. Seeing the familiar yellow paint and white curtains of my room made me sit up so quickly, I almost fell out of bed.

Was it all a dream, then? It had been very vivid – my subconscious had gotten very good if it was all a dream.

Heart pounding, I called out quietly into the room, “Edward?”

When my door opened and his perfect face walked through, I fell back against the pillows with relief.

“Good morning,” he said, and I could only groan in response. Now that I had some idea of what was going on, I could acknowledge that I had a splitting headache.

Edward chuckled and I could hear the chink of china on the table beside me. I opened one eye. “Breakfast?”

“Just cereal and orange juice.”

“My stomach thanks you,” I said, sitting up slowly. “How did I get home last night?”

“I didn’t want to wake you, but I knew that you and your truck should be home before Charlie left for work. When he came in to check on you before school, there was a rather convincing note about a migraine sitting on your nightstand. He didn’t seem to want to bother you – he thought you’d been looking off the past couple of days.” I snorted at that. Edward shot me a withering look. “He left you a note on the counter.” He handed it to me. “He wants you to call now that you’re awake.”

“That migraine excuse wasn’t too far from the truth,” I said around a bite of cheerios. “My head feels like it’s going to split open.”

Edward was gone for barely a second. When he returned, he had a glass of water in one hand and two Tylenol in the other.

“Thanks,” I murmured, swallowing the pills with a large gulp of the water. I handed him the glass and leaned my head back against the headboard. Edward moved to sit behind me, his legs stretched out on either side of me. I tried to lean against him, but he moved to stop me, pressing his hands against my shoulders.

“Edward what are you- oh,” I practically moaned as he began to knead gently at my shoulders, then worked his way up my neck to my temples. I whimpered – the pressure of his cool hands was a balm for the pain, better than any medication could ever be.

I let my head droop forward. “Keep doing that, and you’re going to put me straight to sleep.”

Edward chuckled, his hands never ceasing in their actions.

I don’t know how long we sat like that, Edward silently massaging my head and shoulders, me with my head bowed, letting thoughts drift in and out, but eventually, I hesitantly voiced the one thought that had been repeating itself constantly. “Edward… Edward, I have to go to La Push.”

His movements finally paused. I sighed, knowing without looking at him that I’d upset him.

“Bella,” Edward’s voice was strained, as if he were trying to contain his emotions. “I really don’t think that’s wise.”

“Wise or not, I have to go. I have to make sure that Jacob is okay.”

Edward pressed a kiss to the back of my neck and shook his head. Each time his head moved in either direction, his lips caressed my skin. I shivered. He was trying to distract me on purpose.

“Distracting me isn’t going to change my mind,” I told him breathily.

Edward sighed and his cool breath made goosebumps rise along my neck. “I know. Which is why I’m coming with you, at least as far as the boundary line.”

“Edward, I don’t-“

“This isn’t up for discussion, Bella,” Edward’s tone left no room for argument. “You aren’t going to change my mind about this.”

I sighed and pulled myself out Edward’s arms, “Fine,” I grumbled. “If we’re going, we should leave now.”

Edward kissed my forehead. “Compromise, my love.”

“Yeah, yeah,” I muttered, pulling on my shoes. Edward said nothing, merely smirked at me, lips threatening to tug into an all-out smile. I narrowed my eyes at him. “What?”

“Nothing. I was merely wondering if you were planning on wearing my clothes to see Jacob – not that I would mind very much - or if you were going to change into some of your own.”

I stared down at myself. I hadn’t even realized I was still wearing the clothes I’d put on at his house last night. I blushed hotly.

“Let me go change and call Jake,” I mumbled, opening my drawers and grabbing the first change of clothes I could get my hands on before practically running to the bathroom. I threw on my clothes as quickly as possible before making my way down to the kitchen where Edward was already waiting. He handed me the phone as soon as I walked in.

“Thanks,” I said, dialing Jacob’s number. I wasn’t sure if he would be home, but I figured he would be - if he’d even gone home last night. I cringed.

The phone rang five times before someone finally picked up.

“Hello?”

“Hi, Billy, it’s Bella,” I said. “Is Jacob there?”

Billy paused. He might have been whispering to someone – I couldn’t really tell over the phone. A few seconds later, he told me, “Bella, Jacob’s busy right now.”

I glared at the wall in front of me. “Is he really busy, or does he just not want to talk to me?”

Silence. Billy hesitated, “Bella-“

“Billy, I’m coming over there whether Jacob wants to talk to me or not. He deserves an explanation, and I’m willing to give him one. Tell him he can meet me at the boundary line, or I’ll wait for him there all night. His choice.”

Billy sighed, and I could tell over the phone that he was frazzled. “All right, I’ll tell him.”

“Thanks, Billy.” I handed the phone back to Edward, who hung up then turned back to me, eyebrows raised.

“What?”

Edward’s expression melted and he folded me into his arms. I was a bit startled by the gesture, but caught myself in a moment, bringing my arms around him. He buried his face in my hair and began kissing my neck. My heart pounded, and I sighed.

“Oh, Bella.”

I pushed away from him so I could try to see his face. There was something very sad about his tone of voice. “What? Edward, what’s wrong?”

Edward lifted his head and brushed a piece of hair behind my ear. He smiled, but his eyes were pained. “Nothing. You’ve just changed so much.”

I finally understood. He was blaming himself again for leaving me. I wasn’t sure what exactly had brought on the round of self-loathing this time – perhaps something I said to Billy, or the way I said it. All I knew was that I wanted to reassure him, to wipe that look out of his eyes.

I leaned up on my tip-toes and kissed him, molding myself to his body, wrapping my arms as tightly around his neck as I could. Edward pulled me as close as he dared, but kissed me softly, almost hesitantly, his kisses feather-light against my lips. I kissed his cheek before letting my feet fall flat on the ground again.

Edward said nothing, but clasped my hand tightly in his. “Come on,” he murmured. “We should leave so we can have you back before Charlie gets home.”

The ride to La Push was quiet. Neither Edward nor I said much. Edward simply held my hand on the seat between us, running his fingers back and forth across my knuckles.

When we arrived at the boundary line, I sat up straighter in my seat, eyes scanning the area. I saw Jacob’s car, and my heartbeat immediately accelerated.

“He’s here,” Edward murmured, and I could hear the edge of tension in his voice, could see the unemotional mask falling instantly across his face. I reached up to cup his cheek in my hand, then kissed him softly.

“I’ll be safe,” I said, “I promise.”

“What you promise concerning your safety rarely comes to pass,” Edward said. I rolled my eyes. He stuck his hand into his pocket, then handed me his cell phone. “Just in case you need me. If anything happens, do not hesitate – call my house or Alice right away.”

I nodded, kissed him one more time, then opened the door and hopped out of the car. I waited until Edward turned around and drove away before approaching Jacob, who I could now see was leaning against the passenger side of his car, arms folded across his chest.

"Hi," I said awkwardly as I approached him. Jacob said nothing but simply got into the car. I sighed, seeing no choice but to follow.

The trip to his house was short but felt like ages, the tension in the car staggering – neither of us said a word, but this silence was so different from the comfortable silence between Edward and I. Jacob’s hands were clenched on the steering wheel, his eyes narrowed on the road ahead of him. I wrung my hands in my lap.

Jacob parked the car and walked off, still never saying a word. When we reached the beach, I’d finally had enough of the silent treatment.

“You know, if you weren’t going to say anything to me, you might have well just stayed home.”

“Why are you even here, Bella?”

The venom in his voice threw me, and I stuttered through my answer. “I just… I needed to see how you were, Jake.”

“Oh, I’m just peachy,” Jacob said sarcastically.

“If you’re just going to be nasty, I'm going to go home,” I snapped, my anger rising.

“Well, how would you like me to act, Bella? Happy? Yes, that’s it – I’ll be overjoyed that you chose the bloodsucker over me. Speaking of, were you going to tell me at all, or were you planning on letting me find out by watching the two of you suck face all over town?”

“That’s not fair!” I yelled, fighting back the tears of anger I could feel behind my eyes. “And for your information, I had only just told Edward not ten minutes before you showed up last night. If you had bothered to ask, you would know that!”

Jacob simply stared at me. I was breathing hard, and the cool breeze off of the water was making me shiver. I was ten seconds away from pulling out the cell phone and calling Edward when Jacob asked something that completely threw me.

“Why?” The question wasn’t simple, and neither was the answer, but I understood what he was asking.

"I love him." There was really nothing more I could say.

"You love me, too," Jacob argued.

"It's not the same," I countered, letting him hear how tired I was of this conversation – of the entire situation. I didn’t want to hurt him anymore than I already had, but I’d made my choice – why couldn’t he just accept it like he’d promised me he would?

"Isn't it?" He walked towards me slowly and I had to fight the urge to take a step back. His eyes were intense and focused solely on me. "Something inside of you knows better than that, Bella, or else you wouldn't have kissed me that night in your bedroom."

"You kissed me," I whispered, knowing that my argument was futile. Whether I’d made my choice or not, I couldn’t change the past - it wasn't like I hadn't kissed him back.

Jacob laughed, the sound coming from low in his throat. "I don't recall you telling me to stop." His hand was on my arm and even through my sweatshirt, his skin felt hot against mine.

I closed my eyes. That was something I couldn't argue.

Jacob leaned forward and I felt his breath, hot against my neck. I tried to fight against the shiver that went down my spine, but didn't quite succeed. "You know that I'm right."

"It still doesn't change anything," I whispered.

"Doesn't it?" Jacob's face was directly in front of mine, and his hand was under my chin, preventing me from turning away. If he kisses me now, I don't know what I'll do. I swallowed hard.

But Jacob did something I didn't expect - he took his hand away from my chin and simply stood there, inches from kissing me, yet inches from stopping. I balled my hands into fists to stop myself from closing that distance. No, no, no.

We stood there for what was probably only a few minutes, but what felt like hours, simply staring at each other, him daring me to make the first move, to prove myself wrong, daring me to defy all of my earlier actions. Daring me to change my decision. This was the moment of truth, and we both knew it.

Then, Jacob leaned forward, and just before his lips touched mine, I whispered, "No."

Jacob froze. I wanted to close my eyes, if only to shut out the pain that came into his eyes at my refusal. My heart thudded, waiting for his reaction.

Then, Jacob stepped backwards so fast, I gasped. His hands were trembling, his entire body thrumming with the need to change, and his eyes were shut tight.

"Bella," his voice came out strangled. Then, he turned his back on me and fled into the woods. I heard the loud pop of clothes ripping and tearing to shreds, and saw the large shadow of a wolf fleeing into the distance.

"Jacob!" I yelled, automatically stepping forward to go after him, but a hand on my arm held me back.

"Bella, no." I jumped, startled, then spun so quickly that the person's other hand shot out to steady me. It took my eyes a few moments to focus, and when I realized that the hand on my arm was attached to Sam and not Edward, I wasn't any less nervous. If anything, I was more anxious, but I still tried to pull my arm from his grip.

"Let him go," Sam told me, not letting up his grip on my arm. His voice was concerned, but the tone had a hard edge, and in that moment, I was sure that he had seen my choice in Jacob's mind. Even if he hadn't seen what had transpired just now, he knew about the fight in the clearing. He knew that I chose Edward.

Tears filled my eyes, and I stopped struggling. "Sam, it’s my fault," I told him, and Sam's eyes flitted to my face from where they were previously trained on the woods in front of him, as if he could somehow see Jacob from where he was standing, even though we both knew he could have covered miles by now. "I-I pushed him away, I didn't- He tried to, and I didn't-"

"Bella-" He hesitated, then took a deep breath. "Your choices are your concern." His eyes took on the same hard edge as his voice and I knew in that moment that I wasn't going to like what he was going to say. "But as long as they are hurting one of my pack members so deeply, they are my concern." He let go of my arm, but kept staring at me, and I stared back up at him, eyes wide. "If you're going to let him go, then let him go." Then, he took off in the same direction Jacob ran, yelling, "Go home, Bella," over his shoulder.