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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:


2. Chapter 2 - Breaking Down

Rating 4/5   Word Count 1724   Review this Chapter

I didn’t get my wish.

The dreams came in a wave of black. Edward was walking into the dark, and no matter how loudly I called out, no matter how far I followed, he didn’t turn. He didn’t even acknowledge my presence.

He didn’t know I was there.

Not when I was suddenly surrounded by werewolves, their jaws snapping at me furiously.

Not when Victoria ran right past him, her red hair a flame, and in the blink of an eye, had her teeth sinking into my throat, drinking deep of my blood.

And then, he was simply gone.

I barely held the scream back in my throat as I awoke. I wasn’t sure if Charlie had come home yet from the funeral and if he had, there was no reason to worry him further with my continuing nightmares. I refused to see a shrink.

Charlie must have been home. Some time while I was sleeping, someone had laid a blanket over me. I sat up and rubbed my eyes. “What time is it?”

“10:30.” Charlie’s voice echoed from the kitchen and I jumped, startled. “Sorry,” he said sheepishly.

“No, its fine,” I said, standing with a stretch. “I just didn’t realize that I’d asked the question out loud.”

There was an awkward pause in the conversation. I was about to ask him how the funeral had gone, but he beat me to the punch. “I see Alice left,” he said in the general direction of the now empty couch. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say he almost sounded a little disappointed.

I looked down and studied the pattern of the tiles on the floor as I answered. “Yeah.” I fought to come up with an excuse, and quickly. “Carlisle,” I winced inwardly at my slip of the tongue, “That is, Dr. Cullen called. He said there was a family emergency and she had to come home.” It wasn’t a complete lie, or at least I didn’t think it was. Alice had to have seen something in her vision to make her need to leave so suddenly, and while some of what she saw had to do with me, some of it must have had to do with someone in her family. I fought hard to keep a certain family member in particular out of my head or I might lose it right there on the kitchen floor.

Charlie didn’t need that right now.

“I see,” he said. I could tell he was trying to study my expression and make sure I wasn’t about to have another breakdown. I must have succeeded in keeping a straight face because he simply sighed. “That’s a shame. I was really enjoying her company.”

“Me too, Dad,” I said quietly. “Me too.”

***

I awoke the next morning to light streaming in through the window. I sat up, shocked. Sunlight? It couldn’t be. As I gazed outside, there it was – blue skies, puffy white clouds, and no fog in sight.

Looks like Alice left just in time.

Thinking of Alice made me frown. After saying goodnight to Charlie, I’d come upstairs and almost instantly fell back to sleep. I’d barely had a chance to change before exhaustion set in. Sleep was fitful, however, full of dreams. Dreams of darkness. Dreams of emptiness.

Dreams of blood.

I shuddered, trying unsuccessfully to block out the images that were coming unbidden to my mind. Edward walking away as I stood alone in the dark and couldn’t find my way. Edward walking away while the werewolves tore me apart. Edward letting Victoria get to me, like he didn’t even know I was there.

Unconsciously, I ran my fingers over the scar along my hand. It was cool to the touch as it always was, a few degrees cooler than the rest of my body.

I fought hard against the memories that one scar was a reminder of, against James’ gleeful face as he was about to kill me, against the burning pain of the unwanted change.

There was a time you wanted it, my mind reminded me darkly. There was a time you would have given up everything to be with him forever.

“Shut up,” I muttered back. I stepped away from the window with a shake of my head and started getting ready for school.

Well, if hallucinations didn’t make me crazy before, then talking to myself must make it official, I thought to myself wryly.

The day passed by in a hazy blur, the type that only the monotony of school can bring. We had a pop quiz in English on “Pride and Prejudice,” and I flew through it without a problem. I noticed Jessica throw a glare at me as I finished with forty minutes to spare. She was still furiously trying to fight her way through the first question.

Since I didn’t have work and I was pretty sure Jacob was still absolutely furious with me, I headed straight home. What I hadn’t expected to see as I pulled up was Volkswagen in the driveway.

Jacob was sitting on the grass taking in the sun. I cut the engine and jumped out of my truck, warily approaching him. I wasn’t sure what mood he was in after yesterday, and I didn’t want to provoke him unnecessarily. I remembered Alice’s warning about young werewolves, but Jacob was also my friend. My best friend and the only person who really understood what I was going through.

So, I let him take the lead.

After a brief moment of silence, Jacob sniffed the air, and his nose wrinkled. “You still reek of leech,” he said.

My eyes narrowed. “If you’ve just come here to goad me on, congratulations, you’ve succeeded.” I folded my arms and stomped towards the door, away from him.

Jacob stood up and scrambled after me. “That’s not why I came here.” I didn’t reply as I opened the door and he sighed, frustrated. “I’m sorry, okay?”

Looking into his eyes, always so open and honest, I could tell that he wasn’t sorry at all, but I rolled my eyes and pushed the door open anyway. “Come in,” I said, fighting the urge to clench my jaw as I said the words.

Jacob headed for our usual place in the living room, and I followed him, dropping my bag beside his. We sat down awkwardly next to each other on the couch, neither of us saying anything. The silence was fast becoming too much for me to bear.

“Look,” he said suddenly, and I jumped. I hadn’t expected his voice to sound that loud in the relative silence of the room. He put his hand over mine, and I let him. It felt nice. His hand was warm, so much warmer than mine. I briefly wondered if that was what Edward felt when he used to hold my hands in his.

I squashed that line of thinking quickly, before it had the chance to go any further, and focused all of my energy on paying very close attention to whatever Jacob was about to say to me.

“I know I promised you I would never hurt you,” he began, “And the longer I know you, the harder I realize that’s going to be. Because, Bella,” he sighed, frustrated, running a hand through his hair. “When you’re with… them,” he ground the word out between his teeth, and I could tell it had been an effort not to say something along the lines of “bloodsuckers.” I greatly appreciated the effort. “When you’re with them, there’s not much I can do to save you.”

“You don’t need to save me from them, Jake.” I was once again being very careful not to say their names aloud. “They would never hurt me.”

“And what about what Edward did to you?” He barked out suddenly, and I flinched at the sound of his name said so harshly. “You were so sure he would never hurt you, and look what happened. You trusted him, Bella, and he left you.”

“Don’t you think I know that?” I yelled at him, pulling away from him and standing up. In all our months as friends, Jacob had respected my needs. He’d known not to bring up Edward, the circumstances behind his leaving me. And now, here he was, ripping open the wound. I didn’t understand why.

I turned my back to him. “Why are you doing this to me, Jacob?” I asked him brokenly, wrapping my arms around myself. I could feel the void creeping in on me, and when the darkness finally hit, I would want to be alone.

“Because I’m trying to make you see, Bella,” he said, coming to stand behind me. “You say they’d never hurt you, but they already have. Maybe not physically – at least not on purpose.” My fingers unconsciously began to play at the scar along my hand for the second time today. “But they have hurt you. And if you just let the Cullens back into your life every time they come back to Forks, you’re never going to get over him! You’ll only get hurt again.”

“Get. Out.” I was barely able to say the words through the sob that was crawling its way up my throat, forcing its way out. I was going to break down; I could feel it coming. Jacob had crossed the line, and for the first time in months, instead of wanting him to be there for me so I didn’t break down, I wanted him gone so I could.

Jacob seemed to sense that he’d gone too far. He took another step towards me, but I didn’t turn around. I was already starting to cry, and I didn’t want him to see. “Bella, I – “

“Just leave, Jacob!” My voice cracked, and I whispered, “Please.”

He paused just another moment before grabbing his bag and slowly making his way to the door. I waited until I was sure he wasn’t coming back in before letting my shaky legs give way.

Edward leaving, telling me he didn’t love me. Alice showing up unexpectedly, departing with her strange advice. Jacob almost kissing me, then telling me things I didn’t want to hear. It was all just too much.

For the first time in weeks, I just let myself cry.