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Hostages

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      “Personal affection is a luxury you can have only after all your enemies are eliminated. Until then, everyone you love is a hostage, sapping your courage and corrupting your judgment.”


                I was smart. Smarter than they all gave me credit for being, and I was more selfish than they all could have realized. This was bigger than Edward, or Charlie or Renee. This was bigger than my love for all of them and the Cullen’s put together. This was about me, and what I wanted. Even with Carlisle willing, with Esme always telling me I was family and Alice treating me like a sister, I always saw the hesitation, the other opinion kept silent and hidden behind accepting smiles. And I couldn’t afford them changing their minds, or manipulating me into changing my own. Vampires were like that, seductive and convincing creatures, even my own. So I waited.
                I waited until Edward and Alice were both going on a hunting trip at the same time, always keeping the idea on the back burner, never full committing to it, and when I found out I was getting a chance to follow through with my plans I slipped and clutched at the opportunity to fast. Alice’s face scrunched for a small second before it was gone and I thought hard of deciding to make Charlie a really great dinner. Edward didn’t seem to notice and Alice didn’t look at me, but she was slightly too stiff, eyes squinted ever so slightly. I would be walking on egg shells.
                I drove home from the Cullen’s that night and got home before her dad, put the fish on the stove to fry and for safeties sake, called Jacob and had him come over. It didn’t take long for him to arrive.
                “Hey Bells.” He grinned, picking me up and twirling me around in his arms.
A solid punch to the shoulder got me back on my feet, even with the pain it caused me it was worth it. I couldn’t wait to be less breakable. “Hey, Jake. I’m glad you came.”
                “First time in a while I’ve been around here, dark and broody is always hovering around you so much, swear I can hear him breathe when I talk to you on the phone, hunched over your shoulder with his eyes touching your face.” He leaned up against the counter, popping a seasoned fried onion into his mouth and chewing over the sweet notes, humming appreciatively while smothering a grin.
                “Cut the crap, Jake.” I muttered, trying to be angry but failing, a small smirk on my lips. Edward loomed aggressively, and Jake wasn’t too far off about the phone thing. “And you’re welcome to stay for dinner if you set the table. Charlie will be happy to see you.”
                “That’d make one of you.” He mumbled, and when I looked back his face was dejected, bottom lip pouting out unaware.
                “Aw, Jake.” I scowled and wrapped my small hand in his huge one, puzzling over how it could have gotten to the size that it did. My fingers curled into his and I pulled him into a hug. I felt his nose brushing my hair and breathing in my scent much like Edward did and I couldn’t deny that Jake loved me.
                “Just wish I was one of your favorite people still…” His words were muffled by my hair but they still made my heart squeeze. He was a good kid, I knew he was, and I was killing him.
                “You wouldn’t love me still if you knew what I was planning…” If you knew the monster I wanted to become.
                “You can do no wrong in my eyes.” He whispered, pulling back and staring down, his black eyes boring into my brown ones.
                “Even if it meant I’d kill.”             
                “I’d help you hide the bodies.” He grinned and in the grin I could all the child that he was, but all the man he would become. My stomach churned with guilt, I’d be the first woman to break his heart and I hated myself for it. I hated myself for a lot of things.
                I felt the tears in my eyes coming to life and threatening to run down my cheeks so I hid my face in his chest. I was eighteen… this was wrong, more wrong than anything. More wrong than me giving my heart to a man just to get something in return, more wrong than promising forever when I knew I wouldn’t want forever with him. Edward didn’t… couldn’t understand that we came from different times. He loved my maturity and the silence of my mind, but he didn’t love me, just the idea of me, and that was balm for my heart when I knew I could never love him, not like he wanted me to.  I wasn’t from a generation of forever. I wanted what he offered, and wanted him as well in some ways more than others. He failed to see the side of me that was an eighteen year old girl. It was hidden behind book titles like Jane Eyre and Mansfield Park. He didn’t know about the girl who would occasionally smoke a bowl with her friends in college back in Phoenix and talk about the state of the world. He didn’t know about spending nights with my mother twirling glasses of Pino and getting drunk while playing Stevie Nicks. I was Bella, his Bella, he just didn’t know all of her. Edward had left at one point, and with him he took opportunity. He had showed me the way to get exactly what I wanted most in this world. Immortality, not for the speed or strength or beauty, but for the chance to watch the world, to experience everything and be big enough to mean that literally.
                When he left me he told me I was holding him back, but the truth was, he would hold me back. I couldn’t be truly happy swimming the deepest depths of the ocean with him trailing behind. I couldn’t run free across the desert with him on my heels. I couldn’t freely watch the rise and fall of empires over the thousands of years with him there, pressing his face in, wanting things from me I couldn’t give him.
                And then there was Jake, Jake who I loved as well, who made me laugh with his sage mind in the body of a sixteen year old boy who thought too big for the small reservation he lived on. He was the awkward puppy in a body too big for his age making his movements just as awkward and uncoordinated as my own. He was my best friend, my own personal sun when I thought I’d be stuck in the mortal world for the rest of my life, when I felt like I could feel my body aging day by day, he made those days last longer and made them mean something. He knew all my secrets, knew the things I couldn’t tell even Edward. He wasn’t my rock, he was the eye of my storm, the one calm constant thing in my life. I promised that once I followed through with my plan I would never turn back, I would never speak to another living person who knew Bella Swan… Jacob Black was that exception.

                Charlie had come home and at two helpings at dinner and passed out in front of the television watching some sports game, an opened untouched beer in front of him warming. Jake waited as I finished the dishes and putting the left overs away, silent with his arms crossed over his chest. The tear stains on his shirt made my face flame every time I caught sight of them and the atmosphere was heavy, clouded and thick and even though I always knew what was coming next, I didn’t know this time.

                He followed my silently up the stairs, just one step behind me. He closed my door for me but never turned away from it. I followed the lines in his shirt, tracing out the muscles in his large back, pulling a pillow up from behind me and hugging it, leaning back against the head board and staring at him.
                “You’re leaving, aren’t you, Bells?” Crap.
“Jake.”
                “Are you leaving with him?”
“Jake no, it’s not like that, you wouldn’t understand-“
                “Why? Why wouldn’t I understand, Bella? I hear it in your voice every time you talk about him. You can’t stand him. You damn sure don’t love him-“
“Don’t speak for me, Jacob Black.” I warned. I hated when Edward did it, so he knew I’d hate when he did it.
                “Oh please, Bella. You know it’s true. You can’t do this to me! I don’t care about anyone else.  If you want to go let’s go, fuck Charlie, Renee, Forks, and the Rez. If you’re blowing out of here you know I’m going to go on that adventure with you.”
“I can’t take you with me… Jake this isn’t something you can come back from, you can’t change your mind about it and Jake you’re so young-“
                “I wasn’t too young before, Bella Swan.” He turned then, his voice low and deep and sounding every bit the man I knew he was. My face flamed red at what he was referring to and my body heated at the memory of him pressed so close, the feeling of our bodies connecting. It was the when I was getting better after Edward left, when I realized I loved him. He was the only guy he knew who was a virgin, and I wanted it to be someone who gave a shit about him. He had parked the rabbit on a turn off to a trail where no cars were. It was the middle of the night and the rain was hammering down. As I stared at him I remembered my fingers making tracks in the fogged up windows, his hair a long dark curtain around me. My legs had been wrapped around his waist and he held me so tight it made me forget I had felt unwhole.
                Fear washed over me. Not fear of him or of anyone or anything else besides myself. I, Isabelle Marie Swan, was certain of three things. One: I loved Jacob Black. Two: I was the most selfish monster on the face of the earth and Three: Nothing… not even the men I loved, were enough to keep me from what I wanted most. Immortality.