“THERE SHE BLOWS!” Becca hollers at the top of her lungs at the waves crashing on the sand. She’s drunk as fuck, but that hasn’t stopped her from dragging me down to the beach with her.
“Pass the damn bottle before you spill it all!” I shout, the laugh bubbling out of my throat. I refuse to believe I’m drunk. A tad tipsy, but not drunk. There’s a pit barreling down into my stomach, but that doesn’t mean I’m drunk.
She takes another swig and passes it. The smooth neck almost slips out her grasp, but I catch it in time. I lift the bottle to my lips and relish the bubbles racing down my throat. Yes, I am definitely not drunk. I take another drag. Nope, not at all. “Burp!”
“That was a hella of a wedding…” She sighs, her brown legs churning up wet sand. I don’t know when or how really, but at some point between the reception and now, she’s changed out of her long gown and into a shorter dress. Something designer, I guess. I don’t know. I take another swig.
“Yeah…” The waves are rushing to the shore and breaking on our legs. It’s cold as fuck, but I don’t mind the chill. I look across the water. The rain stopped a while ago and the sky is that mix of tumbled greys, extravagant oranges and hints of blue like it always is when it storms.
I down the rest of the bottle. It’s a nice ending to a great day. If only Jake was here with me. Where did he even go? He just disappeared after-
“YEAH!” She suddenly screams in my ear and knocks me out of my thoughts.
I push her away and she retaliates with a drunken stumble and an open hand smack to my chest that burns like all hell. “Oh hell no!” I She laughs and takes off running down the beach. I chase her ass down.
“Wait, wait, wait! I was kidding, Paul, wait!” I heave her over my shoulder and dash into the water. “NO, STOP! PUT ME DOWN” She shouts hysterically.
“If you insist!” I toss her into the air. She screams and falls flat on her ass just as the waves roll in, soaking her from head to toe. Her laughter dies down to a shivering shriek instantly. “FUCK!” She hops up and splashes water as she goes. “You play too fucking much!”
“Ow, shit!” I cringe at the sudden stabbing pain. It’s like fucking icicles digging into my skin! Fuck!
“Mhm, that’s what you get, asshole” She laughs again, pushing past me and plopping down in the sand, dress be damned. She wraps her arms around her lean frame.
I shake off and drop down next to her. “Now, I know you packed at least ten more dresses” The sand is wet, but not soaked. “Don’t play me like it’s your only one”
She rolls her eyes and pulls her knees close. “FYI, Airbud, I only packed three Gucci skirts, blouses and shoes, thank you!” She says matter-a-factly with a high note.
“One step closer to being a Kardashian” I chuckle. “Fucking fiends”
Her smiles lopsides. “As if…”
We sit there for a moment as our smiles die. We’re far enough from the water’s edge so that the tides don’t lap at our feet when it comes in, but close enough to feel the freezing spray on our skin when it does. There’s a few seagulls riding the airwaves like professional surfers overhead. The air still has that humid charged feel to it, but it’s cooled down a little since earlier. Like a humid chill. I don’t know.
She stares at the cloudy skies with its bleak splashes of grey and blue, to the sun still trying to make a comeback even though it’s late in the day. It’s pretty, but…I don’t know. Something feels off about it, like it’s not as serene as it should be, like it almost is too good to be true. Maybe it just needs to be warmer. Whatever.
“Guess I’ll enjoy it while it last” I mumble and lie back. I cross my arms behind my head and rest my eyes.
Only a few seconds go by before the sand shifts beside me. “You awake?” There’s a poke in my side that jolts the shit out of me.
I crack a glaring eye. “No”
She promptly rolls her eyes and breathes sharp and quick. “You think…” She chews on her lip and brushes the hair out of her face. Her bun is long gone. “You think if I stayed here, if I would have stayed here…we could have made it?”
It knocks me completely off guard. There’s a streak of seriousness in her eyes and across her mouth. “Uhm…” It feels weird even tumbling the thought around in my head. How do I even answer that? “I…I mean, I dunno. Why’d you ask that?”
She shrugs and lays her head on her knees. “I don’t know. Just thinking” Her voice is smaller now, childlike.
I keep going. “I mean…I think we were just young then, you know? We didn’t really know what we wanted”
Her eyes find mine. “We both knew we wanted different things”
I shrug and my eyes drop to the sand. “Exactly. I wanted to stay here to take care of my dad, you…”
“I wanted New York…” She finishes. Things were rocky between us then. We argued every day about college and life after school and what would happen to us. In the end, we both chose.
“And you got it, which is fine, you know?” I admit. “You got a full ride to NYU, internship, the apartment, everything you ever wanted…”
“Yeah…” Her eyes stray.
I chew on the inside of my cheek. “You know, I don’t think or at least I don’t remember if we’ve ever talked about this, but…I was okay with you leaving”
She turns to me. “Yeah?” Her eyes are that same shade of caramel as her brother.
I nod. “Yeah. I mean, of course it sucked for a little bit, I guess. We didn’t talk for a while, which was hard and I felt like I was stuck here, with responsibilities and shit while you spun around in Times Square, but I got over it”
She smiles briefly. “Everybody doesn’t spin around in Times Square, you know…” She turns away again. “You could have always visited. I always told you that. I had the space and food and whatnot”
“Yeah, I guess…” I close my eyes. “But Dad...I don’t want to leave him by himself…”
She’s quiet for a little while. “He wouldn’t be by himself, Paul. You can’t let that be your excuse from seeing the world…” She says.
“Don’t assume you know everything, Becca” I want to say, but I bottle it up.
A moment flies. “It’s just so weird, now. We dated and ended and now three years later, you’re with Jake, my baby brother…huh” She says. “You ever think about it that way?”
Have I… “I’ve thought about it” I admit. “When it first happened and when I saw you, it crossed my mind, but I don’t dwell on it. It’s not important,” I don’t see why Sam made it such a big deal with Leah. “It doesn’t bother me as you would think it would”
“Because of the imprint, right?”
I sigh. “Yeah” The hole in my stomach digs deeper and deeper. What the hell is wrong? A hiss tumbles from my mouth.
“You alright?” She’s looking down at me.
“Yeah” I sit up. “Stomach’s acting funny”
She looks back out on the water. “Well, the food was really…good and filling…” She trails off and sits up. She cranes her neck. “You see that?”
I look at her and see the way her eyes narrow. “What?” I follow her gaze. The waters are dark and a little rowdy, but I don’t see anything out of the ordinary.
I look back to her. “That right there” She points.
I look again. “I don’t…” Then I see it. Something’s moving on top of the water. “The hell…?”
“What is that…?” She stands to her feet.
The pit in my gut keeps tugging at me. I climb to my feet. The waves further out toss and turn something big. It doesn’t look like a shark or anything, but…what the hell…?
She gasps suddenly. “Oh my God! It’s a body!” She covers her mouth. “Oh my God!”
I narrow my gaze. “Fuck” I can see it crystal clear, now. It’s the body of a man flipped on his stomach, the waves rocking it in the water. There’s a ripped white shirt…and russet colored skin…and…
The earth freezes and Becca screams.
I head into the house with Alice right on my heels. “Emmett!”
I ignore her as best as I can. I need to get out of here now.
“What’s wrong? Talk to me!”
Maybe somewhere north. The Denali’s? No, that’ll be the first place everybody will look for me.
I run upstairs and his scent rocks me to the core. I pause at the door and close off my senses in order to maintain my sanity. I go in and rummage through the closet and pack a duffel. Maybe a week or two, I’m not sure.
“Emmet-” She stops at the door and I can almost feel her face cohort in disgust. “Oh my…what-what happened, and Jesus, what is that smell?”
I resist the urge to throw a glare her way as I maneuver around the room. I snatch on some clothes, despite the dirt and grime on my skin. She’s holding my bag when I turn back to it. I reach for it and she holds it out my reach.
“Alice, I am not in the mood for this!” I make a grab for it, but she snatches it out of the way.
She looks on boldly. “Tell me what’s going on with you, now” Her tone is stern.
“…love you, to…Paul…” Fucking stop!
I open my mouth to speak and nothing comes out. I lean against the far wall and rub my eyes to avoid looking at her. “I just…I need to go. I can’t stay here anymore”
“Why? What happened?” Her voice softens and she moves closer. “Just talk to me. What happened with you and R-”
I breathe through my nose. “I’m not talking about that. I just, I need to leave now” I stand. “Give me my bag, please” I’m begging her.
“Does this have something to do with Jacob?” She asks abruptly.
His name breaks something inside of me that I just…I want to go look for him and cradle him in my arms and tell him I’m so- I reach for the bag and resist the pain in my gut. “Alice, give me my bag!” I feel it growing stronger, tugging on my soul.
“Not until you talk to me” She replies. “Emmett”
My jaw clenches. “Alice-”
“No!” She shakes her head. “No. Look, I don’t know what’s going on with you or why you’re suddenly acting like this. I’ve tried to see what’s going to happen, but I can’t and I don’t know why!” Her eyes shimmer. “And now you and Rosalie are fighting like got damned animals and you and Jake-”
“Just…” I drop my gaze and hold out my hand. “…give me my bag” I grind my teeth together.
“JUST GIVE ME MY…” I stop myself short. I look her in the eyes and for the first time, I see hurt looking back at me. It strikes shame in my heart.
She looks down at the bag after a moment and hands it over. “Where will you go?”
I take it from her hands. “I don’t know, but I don’t want you following me” I sling it on my back. “Please” I’m not asking.
She nods and then watches me glance around before heading to the door. I’m not going to miss anything.
“Emmett, wait” I stop in the doorway and she throws her arms around me. She breathes and clears her throat. “Just call me and let me know that you’re okay when you get there, wherever you go, alright?”
I pull away from her. “I will” I swallow. She looks helpless and small and it hurts, but I don’t have the time to deal with this right now. I head downstairs and out the door. The gravel turns down the driveway and here Esme’s car followed closely behind by Carlisle.
I can’t face neither one of them, not like this. I look up to the destroyed steps and up to the house one last time to see Alice watching me. She nods me on with concealed sadness.
I manage a wave back, but it doesn’t amount to much. Behind me, a breeze sifts through the woods and out steps Jasper. “You alright?” He stares at me.
“I’m fine” I muster.
He analyzes my every move with sharp raised brows. “You’re leaving” He concludes, dropping his gaze to my bag.
“I just…I need some time to myself” It barely scratches the surface, but it’s all I can say without explaining anything.
Understanding crosses his features and he nods in reply. “Alright. Be safe”
I turn and walk away. I don’t want to run. I need this time to think about what to do next.
“EMMETT? EMMETT!” It’s Edward. “WHERE IS HE? EMMETT!”
I don’t falter in my stride. I don’t want to face him, either, but before I know it, his feet are flying over the dirt and he’s in my face with wild eyes.
“WHAT THE HELL DID YOU DO?!” He shoves me back with all his strength. “WHAT DID YOU DO?!”
“Don’t fucking touch me, alright?” I try to maintain my composure. “I’m not talking a-”
He groans. “I don’t give a flying fuck about what you don’t want to talk about! Jacob is…” The fire dies from his eyes. He takes a step back from me and runs a hand over his face. “Fuck!”
His words drop an uneasy feeling in my stomach. “What, what are you talking about?
He drops his hand and chuckles darkly in one rough huff of air. “You don’t even…” He turns away from me.
“What happened?” Something’s wrong. The feeling sinks into my bones. “Tell me what the fuck happened!” I spin him around.
The look he gives me is hard and deep. “He’s…” He breathes. “It’s bad, it’s really bad…He’s…”
The world goes quiet. There’s acid building in my throat, but I fight through the tremors rocking my body. “What?”
He hesitantly shakes his head and before he opens his mouth, I’m running.
Please be okay, please be okay, please be okay, please be okay.
“Where is he?!” I shout. Edward’s wary glance doesn’t reassure me.
Please, please, please be okay.
I rip through the streets to his house.
Please be okay, Jake. Please.
I see the red of his house, but I don’t hear anybody. There’s no heart beats sounding off, no voices. I turn to him. “Where the hell is he? Edward!” But he doesn’t stop at the house. He keeps running into the trees and I follow him as close as I can.
Please, please Jake…
We hit the beach and there’s a crowd of people hovering over something on the ground. The smell of blood hits me hard. My breath hitches in my throat.
I rush out there and shove through the crowd and…
It’s him in the sand. H-his father and his sisters are sitting next to him. Bella and…Seth and his pack are trembling around him. There’s a raw scream that burst from the bottom of someone’s belly. Sam is…pumping his chest, but…but…
He isn’t moving. His heart isn’t beating. There’s no blood pumping through his veins. He’s not breathing.
I fall to my knees in the blood caked sand.
He isn’t breathing…he’s so blue and there’s so much blood and so many…gashes and…and…
“J…” I reach out to him. This isn’t happening. I wait for everyone around me to cut the joke and for him to pop up with a grin, but the excruciating pain in my gut is too hard to ignore.
A hard hand grips my shoulder. “Don’t you dare…”
I shove it off. “GET OFF OF ME!” It’s his father. He doesn’t fall back or scramble away, but he looks at me hard with the same intense look of fear and panic as…as… I turn back and just hold his hand. God, he’s so cold, he’s colder than me. He’s so blue…
“C’mon, c’mon!” Sam pumps and pumps. He puts his lips on his and breaths in air, but…it’s not working. My heart quakes. It’s not working. “Please, Jacob…c’mon, please…”
It’s too much to handle. I reach out and stop his arm and look him in his eyes. Sam swallows and looks down to him and falls back and cries.
I look down at his dark legs, once warm and now wracked by cuts and bruises. “I’m…” I can barely get it out. “I…” There’s another hand on my shoulder and I turn to meet Edward’s broken eyes. He squeezes gently.
I look back with blurring eyes to the frozen body of the boy I loved and broke into two. To the people who loved and cared for him unconditionally. To the boy who loved him as equally as me.
I hold his hand and my heartbreak tears me apart. There’s no words to be said. No apologies to utter. No final says to present.
He’s gone. Jacob Black is gone and he is never coming back.
I look up to his pale face outlined in wet matted black hair. There’s a cut on his blue lips and a slice on the side of his face that stretches across his nose. There’s blood oozing from his head onto the sand. Everything is just…wrong.
I lean in and plant a kiss on his cheek that I wish scorched me, but I know better. I know death and it is not fair, not one bit. “I love you” I say into his ear and I rise to my feet and walk.
“Emmett…” I wave Edward away when he takes a step towards me.
I can’t take this. I run my hands through my hair. I can’t. On top of everything – the denial, the acceptance, the heartbreak, and now this - this is too much to bear. I… I need this nightmare to end. I need-
“It was you…” A voice says.
I turn and face the boy who loved him. Paul’s eyes are bloodshot and gushing and distinctly narrowed on me. The people behind him have turned half of their focus on him.
“Paul, don’t!” Seth shouts.
My teeth grind together. “Don’t you fucking dare blame me…” I take one step to him. “Don’t”
His chest heaves and he takes one step towards me. “It was you…” Somebody moves out in front of him and he shoves them aside. “I told him, did I not fucking tell him?” He glances around to the people around us. Sam rises from his place in the sand. “I told him that hanging with you fucking leeches was fucking suicide!” He screams. “AND LOOK WHERE THAT GOT HIM!” He breathes shakily and he starts to quake. “HE’S FUCKING DEAD! DEAD!”
Everybody flinches away from him. Edward dives for me, but I’m too quick. I snatch him up by his throat and hold my thumb over his windpipe. He fights my hold as his body full on shakes.
“LET ME GO!” He roars weakly. His hands rake at my arm and face, his nails now claws digging into my skin.
“Emmett, enough” Edward’s at my back. “Let him go”
This has to be said. “I LOVED HIM WITH EVERYTHING IN ME, YOU FUCKING ANIMAL” I say into his face. “HOW DARE YOU BLAME HIS DEATH ON ME!”
“LET ME GO!” He growls. His face begins to blur and the flesh beneath my hands shifts into fur. Before the hair spreads across his body, I toss him away from me. I don’t care where he goes, but I hear the splash of water when he hits it.
I meet Sam’s eyes and the glaring eyes of the pack and his family and the onlookers and Edward.
The deep growl that reverberates across the beach causes me to look to the big drenched grey wolf standing where he hit the water. His teeth are bared and his bloodshot eyes are now screaming for my murder.
I hold my ground as the people around us scatter. He lunges, teeth ready.
And then suddenly, there’s a gut wrenching gasp of air that silences everything.
“Oh my-HE’S BREATHING! HE’S BREATHING! JACOB’S BREATHING! HE’S ALIVE”
“What?” I run back to him. The sand beside me splashes as the wolf phases. He’s alive! His eyes are clenched shut, but he lurches to his side and vomits water and bile into the sand. He’s alive!
“Jake…” I reach for him, but he jerks away entirely from my touch.
The water keeps gurgling from his mouth until it runs red and then he opens his eyes and screams. Everybody rushes around him, trying to lift him and cater to him, but his face scrunches in pain and his body convulses.
“CARLISLE!” I scream. “GET CARLISLE!”
His screams don’t stop for a long time. Even after we get him to the house, they grow shriller and more bloodcurdling.
“Clear the table!” Sam orders. Jared knocks everything off and we lay him down on top carefully. He twists and turns and screams. It hurts so bad to see him hurting.
“Where’s Carlisle?” The fucking leach shouts. Sam’s eyes follow them.
Edward tries to calm him down. “He should be here any minute, okay. Be calm, stay strong” He encourages and he just turns and watches.
Rachel stands on the other side of the table, one shaky hand on Jake’s head and the other on her chest. “Okay, okay, we-we need some towels and some hot water. Becca, Emily, move!” She shouts over his screams. They go to gather the supplies.
“Seth, help me open the windows” Bella says and she and Seth break out around the room.
There’s a knock on the door and in steps the blond haired leach in his doctors coat. Carlisle meets Sam’s eyes and Sam nods. He breezes over to the table and gives Jacob one look before he breaks out his satchel.
“What are you going to do to him?” I ask.
His golden eyes flash to mine momentarily. “I need to sedate him in order to decrease his pain and further examine his injuries” He says, plunging a syringe into a vial of clear liquid. “I’m going to need the three of you to hold him still for me” He says, looking to me, Sam, and the leach.
Sam moves without question and takes his legs again. The other leach holds him at his chest and I secure his waist. He struggles and fights against our hold, his screams of pain raw and deafening, but we hold him to the best of our ability.
Carlisle sticks the syringe in his arm and just as quick as he supplied it, it’s away and out of Jake’s skin. His screams ring on for a few more moments before they grow weaker and spaced apart and then ultimately stop. Jacob goes still again. He relaxes some, but I can still see the pain etched in his face.
I look to Sam then to Carlisle. “How long will he be out?” The leach asks. I don’t look his way. Not right now and not here.
Carlisle looks to him and then to everyone around the table. “Approximately four hours” He looks behind me. “Edward, would you contact the hospital and let them know I’ll be out for the rest of the day” Fingers slide across a phone behind me and Edward steps out the house. “Also, to fully understand his condition, I’ll need the room” He shrugs out of his coat.
“What the fuck? No! Hell no!” Embry starts. Everyone who followed us in stirs in controversy.
“Guys, listen-” Seth tries to say, but nobody listens.
“The fuck we look like leaving him alone with you!?” Jared barks from across the room.
“We don’t even know if you’re a-” Leah begins.
“It is NOT up for discussion!” Sam says over everybody and the room falls silent once again. Jared and Embry roll their eyes while Quill shifts in his stance. “Everyone out, now!”
They mumble and grumble, but file out the house. Sam watches them go and then with a heavy exhale, looks to me.
I shake my head. “No. No. I am not leaving his side again” I can feel the tears welling up. Sam steps over and wraps his arms around me.
He holds me tight for a few moments. “Let him do his job, okay? He knows what he’s doing” He says in my ear. It doesn’t sit well with me, but I don’t argue any more than anyone else does. I take Jake’s hand in my own and squeeze gently before I go out and sit on the porch. Billy is the only one who doesn’t leave.
The door shuts behind us and echoes in the silence of the yard. Now we wait.
I sit down on the steps. What happened to you, Jake? Why did you do this? The step beside me creaks and Becca sits and wraps her arms around me. We sit like that for a long while.
“He’ll be okay…” Sam mutters from the other side of the porch. “He’s strong. He’ll be okay”
“Please…” The leach murmurs from behind me.
Part of me wants to believe that so bad, even though he’s awake and breathing, that he’ll be okay. I want to, but…Jesus, Jake…
The seconds turn into hours and then pretty soon, the door opens and Carlisle steps out. Sam rises from his spot between Emily’s knees. I bolt from my space and so does the leach and Bella.
“Well?” The leach blurts out. “How is he?”
Carlisle sighs. “He’s in critical condition, but he’s stable. I stitched up his wounds and reset his broken bones in order to give his healing factor an advantage whenever it kicks in” A collective sigh goes around. “He’ll be bed ridden for a few weeks, so he’ll get a lot of rest” He meets Sam’s eyes.
Somebody breathes behind me. “Thank God…”
“Thank you” Sam says graciously. He reaches out his hand and Carlisle takes it without any hesitation.
“Your welcome” He flashes a supporting smile. “I also gave him another dose of the sedative to help him sleep. Don’t panic if he sleeps off the next few days. It’s normal for this type of trauma” He glances back into the house. “His bandages do have to be replaced every three hours, though. Perhaps-”
“I’ll do it” I say automatically.
Sam looks at me. “We’ll take turns” His eyes flicker beside me. “You, Bella, and I”
I barely look at her out of the corner of my eye.
“Good. When he does wake, give me a call. I’ll come out and check on him myself. I also moved him from the table to his bedroom for a more comfortable arrangement, if you don’t mind”
Sam and I nod. I swallow thickly. “Can…I see him?” I almost expect someone to protest. I glance around behind me to see everyone attentive and listening. Becca and Rachel nod me on. I pass them a small nod. They understand.
Carlisle nods and steps aside. “Sure” I step inside, Sam right behind me. “Emmett, may I have a word with you?” Carlisle says as we pass.
“Not now” He says and then he’s walking in behind Sam. I almost turn on him, but Sam places his hands firmly on my shoulders and steers me to the bedroom.
The door is open. Billy is sitting in his chair in front of his bed. My eyes trail over to where he lies and my hand finds Billy’s shoulder.
He’s asleep, but there’s bandages covering most of his lower body and chest. There’s five over his ribcage and one over his collarbone and more on his hips and thighs and down his legs. There’s a wrap around his head, too, right over his eyebrows and a gauze strip across his nose and cheek. There’s already red splotches piercing through the bandages. His face is resting at ease, his chest moving in even rises and falls, but his body…
I breathe and squeeze Billy’s shoulder. After a moment, his hand finds mine and holds on tight. Tears prick my eyes.
“Fuck, Jake…” The leach sighs.
What the fuck did he do to you?