A/N: Yes I really should be dealing with my sadly neglected HP story, not opening my third WIP in the last month. At least I finished this one. Yes, it needs more editing. And yes, I have disregarded cannon points. It was fun. And btw, not a shocker, but I own nothing. Nada. Zip. Not even a zip lock bag of vampire dust. Let alone, any vampires, vampire slayers, people, werewolves, trees or streams appearing in this story. And don’t worry, the meetings of metaphor abuse anonymous starts soon.
Bella felt, and knew he felt, and was confused. He looked at her like he hated her, and saved her like he cared, and it didn't make sense. Any one could see the Cullens were matched. Even. Jasper and Alice. Rosalie and Emmett. Edward and Buffy.
Buffy, breathtakingly beautiful Buffy. Who somehow out shone their easy movements. Who seemed barely human. Who's eyes were a peculiar gold green, and never seemed to go black like her siblings. With golden good looks that matched Edwards. Warm. While Rosalie was more classically beautiful, she was fearsome and cold. Alice was more outgoing, more alive, but less breathtaking. Jasper was handsome, Emmett was playful. Buffy and Edward were intense, and stunning.
The Cullens were matched, and yet Edward would stare like he wanted to devour her, and Buffy didn't seem to care. Didn't look threatened or jealous. And in the hospital, as he was running away after saving her life, Bella couldn’t help ask, "What about Buffy,"
But he didn't answer.
So she wondered. And worried. And when they were in his car, and he was talking like he was dangerous, she was distracted. But in the restaurant, with him leaning over the table, impossibly handsome, spilling his secrets, and looking at her like she was everything, she asked again.
He frowned slightly in confusion. "What about Buffy?"
"Aren't you?" She trailed off awkwardly, feeling her skin heat.
His eyes followed the movement of pink under her skin, slowly down her cheeks, to where her neck slid under the collar of her shirt, and she could barely breathe with the way he was looking at her.
"Aren't we?" He echoed, and there was rawness, a silence to his voice, and it made her limbs tingle.
"Aren't you..." She wet her lips, and asked, "Together?"
It felt juvenile, but he smiled, a slow creeping smile that flooded her veins with a heavy heat.
And she was too relieved to ask more.
After she'd seen him in the sun, sparkling like he was made out of diamonds, his smooth white skin cool as it refracted the thin bits of forest light. After they'd laid in the flowers, on itchy grass, under the dying sun, surrounded by overwhelming perfume and it was perfect, and unbelievable, and they had talked, until she was sure everything she was was hanging around the flower tops in words, and he was still looking at her like she was the rain in the desert, she asked again.
"Jessica, from school, said you're all paired off. That you and Buffy are together." It was a prompt, an attempt for more explanation.
He shook his head. "Buffy is different. I was too in a way, but I guess I'm not." He smiled at her, as if she was why, but she didn't understand.
"The others... they all looked for love, and made it forever. I was okay being alone, until I found you. Because you were worth waiting for."
She could feel her skin heat, even as the long shade of the trees reached them.
"Buffy... she doesn’t wait, she doesn't search." He smiled with a certain fondness, and a bit of puzzlement. "She likes heat. She likes attraction... she doesn't want someone like us."
"Someone like me?" Bella asked.
Edward frowned, cool hands drawing lines up her arm until his fingers were twined with his. "She likes her lovers, Bella, but they are replaceable. They are fleeting."
He lifted their joined hands to his mouth, and kissed the back of her skin, lingering, and when he looked at her, his eyes were serious with promise. "You're not like that."
Buffy was sitting by the hospital bed the second time she woke up, flipping quickly through a glossy magazine. As Bella opened her eyes, Buffy looked up and smiled.
"Hey. You had us worried."
Buffy came towards the bed, studied the monitors, the headboard, the sheet edges.
"Can I ask you a question?"
She met Bella's eyes. "Of course."
"Do you... like me?" It was still awkward. Rosalie didn't. Alice and Esme did. Buffy, she wasn't sure, and was desperate to know.
Buffy's brow furrowed slightly, a more human expression than Bella was used to from a Cullen, and Buffy sat at the bedside chair, taking Bella's hand, her skin only slightly cooler than the air. "Of course."
The conviction was unmistakable, and Bella felt a little knot of worry ease.
"You make Edward happy. Tricky, but important. Alice has been waiting for you, and we have too. He loves you."
Bella nodded. "Did you... make Edward happy?"
She left out 'when you were human.’
Buffy's face lightened, as she understood the questioning. "I tried. Like Esme, and Alice. He's my brother, Bella."
"When Carslie made me, he thought maybe, I would be what Edward needed. Alice knew I wouldn't. Edward had never met me. And I wasn't. But it was okay. They loved me anyways, and it gave them another project, two children to match up rather than matching up two children."
Bella considered the idea of being Buffy being made to for Edward, and Edward not choosing her, and didn't understand it. Buffy was strong, and kind and beautiful, and a vampire. It Buffy wasn't enough, how could she be?
There was a knock on the door, and Edward came in, eyes fixed on Bella, not seeming to see his sister by the bedside. As they walked to change places, Buffy patted his shoulder, and he grasped it absently, never slowing on his way to Bella, eyes drinking her in. And it didn't matter if it didn't make sense. Because Edward acted like it was true.
Bella felt nightfall on the woods and didn't care. She'd run out of tears, but the pain and the apathy were bottomless. There was nothing left. Nothing but another eighty years of nothing.
Twigs broke close by, and she didn't move, didn't tense, and didn’t care.
She felt herself being lifted, by firm cool arms, held against a small and contoured chest, and she opened her eyes, looking up at the smooth perfection of the underside of Buffy's chin.
She was delusional. All the Cullens had left.
It was a good delusion. Bella let her eyes fall shut with the weight of her exhaustion. Maybe Edward would appear soon.
In her dreams they danced, and he stared like she was his gravity, and promised her forever.
And when she woke, tucked neatly into her sheets, the still empty, still open CD player mocking her from across the room, she realised the tears weren't gone. A new pool's surface was ripping off inside of her.
Bella turned at the sound of the voice, lilting and smooth and west coast accent.
She raised herself slightly.
Buffy smiled. "Edward is an idiot. I'm gonna keep you from doing stupid things until he realises that. He will Bella."
"They respected his wishes. They don't know the depth of the idiocy in leaving someone for their own good."
Old pain, bitter pain, appeared briefly in Buffy's eyes.
"Did he come back?" Bella heard how pitiful her voice was and hated it.
"No. He died." Buffy smiled softly. "He was a bigger idiot than Edward is. And he didn't have a seer to keep him in check."
"I don't know how long I can wait." Bella hated this. The hollow caving insides.
"You have three choices, Bella. You can follow him, but he'll run from you. You can wait, for him to return to you. Or you can accept his choice, and move on to someone less stupid."
Bella glared. "I can't-"
"I know. So you have to wait. And kick him in the shins for being such an idiot when he gets back. And try to live in the meantime."
"Will you stay?"
"Until it’s time for me to line up behind you to get in on the shin kicking."
Bella's expression was challenging, an excellent change from the usual, as Buffy climbed in the passenger side. "You can't come."
"Let's arm wrestle for it."
"I'm going to the reservation."
"Not getting out of the car."
"They’ll kill you."
"That'll be on your conscience, not mine."
Bella sighed, glancing at the tarped objects in the review mirror.
"Get him to meet you somewhere else."
"To help you fix them."
Bella turned to Edwards’s sister in surprise. "You aren't protesting-"
"The vehicles? No. Every girl should have a motorcycle. The werewolf? No. Every girl should have a friend. You being without me in the woods after three previous displays of near suicidal hallucinogenic behaviour? Yes. Hell yes."
Bella giggled at the swear word. It didn't suit the unbelievably unruffleable vampire.
She pulled out her phone, and speed dialled two.
"Ugh." Jacob pulled back from the hug to stare at Buffy, face crinkled in disgust. "This is why you couldn't come today?"
Buffy walked over, holding out her hand. "Buffy Cullen. Bella's guardian vampire." She sniffed the air delicately, and then shrugged.
He didn't take the hand until Bella elbowed him sharply, twice in the ribs.
Jacob ran towards the overturned bike feeling his heart pound as Buffy casually sauntered along behind him.
He pulled the machine off Bella, and helped her stand despite her protestations that she was fine. The side of her right leg was visible through a long tear in her jeans, the skin angry red and oozy slightly with road rage blood.
He whirled at the sound of the vampire’s approach, ready to defend Bella, but Buffy's eyes weren't on his friend. They were on him, centred in his chest, where his heart was still thrashing with the last fading traces of fear adrenalin.
Bella pushed past him, toward Buffy, and his hands stayed on her, long enough that they were inches from Buffy's hand as she took Bella.
The deep golden stare pulled him in and down and under, and it was something he couldn't bear thinking, couldn't bear feeling, and when her fingers locked around his arm he yanked it back, storming off in the direction had bike had skidded.
When he turned, Bella was huddled up to Buffy, who was looking over her shoulder at him, eyes full of heat.
Buffy met him outside Bella's windows, arms crossed, face cold.
"I need to talk to her."
"You need to apologise."
He sighed. "I know."
"Sometime when she isn't sleeping soundly for the first time in four days."
He sighed, and stepped back, running a hand through his hair, eyes sliding shut for a second in frustration.
Her fingers, small and cold, nestled against his breast bone, fitting between the muscles as if they were designed for it, and he felt his heart shudder briefly, as she leeched off his heat.
"She'll forgive you."
He remembered, Bella, vaguely, as he opened his eyes, and found her staring up at him, small and contained, greed more than sympathy in her eyes.
The cold wormed under his ribs, and for the first time since the change, he wished for a t-shirt.
He stepped back and felt the heat flood through him again.
"I'll tell her you came."
He nodded, and mumbled thanks, and hurried back towards the woods, confused.
Jacob watched, from outside, as Edward sat by Bella's bed, and she stared at him as if a thousand Christmases had come early, and felt his heart hurt.
He heard her fall into place beside him.
"Shouldn't you be at home?" He asked casually, "Now that he's back to keep her safe."
"Yes. And now that my family's back again."
He half turned to look at her, but could still see the window. "Why are you here?"
She stared, saying nothing.
He shook his head, but felt something else. Anger. Desire. Confusion. He was in love with a girl who didn't love him. Who loved someone he hated. Who's sister stood outside in the dark, watching him and waiting, as Edward did to Bella.
No. It wasn't the same.
She was casual. Hungry.
And he was too full of hurt to care.
She saw the realisation, the stiffening of his posture, the relaxing of his face, and she closed in, stepping up onto the log beside him, and leaning in, cold marble hands curling around his shoulders, frozen lips, the first kiss, the wrong girl, the wrong time, the wrong feeling.
He kissed her back, pouring all the energy and heat that made him jumpy into her, and she took it, making it disappear into the bottomless cold, and her skin was softer somehow, her lips gentler, and it made it unbearable.
He pulled away, and in the dark, with his heat, she looked almost human. Beautiful, and kissed. And he could almost feel.
And from Bella's window floated down the low sound of her laughter, and Jacob did the only thing he could.
He ran towards the woods.
His pack could see her; there were no secrets, they could see, and feel, and understood and didn't understand in the same way he didn't. And it was appalling, and pathetic, and unnatural, and there was a rift. An isolation. It was a far worse crime than an outsider who knew their secret. Worse than loving a girl who loved a vampire. There was a coldness, her coldness, sifting down between him and his pack, sifting through him, and some days it helped. Some days it made him too numb to sit around hurting, and thinking of Edward watching Bella in her dark room.
The next time he saw her, she was waiting at the line between the woods, just on the vampire’s side of the stream, shining slightly in the light that filtered down. She was dressed in white to match her skin and he felt himself changing back before he could think of it. His pack was close behind him, and he crossed through the stream. To the vampire side. It was a choice he didn't make, but a choice made none the less.
She held out her hand, and he didn't take it, so she turned, and started running.
And he followed her. When he caught up, she spun, hands finding the heat of his bare chest, his fingers curling harshly into the silk of her dress, and nothing mattered, but the cold, and the rage.
She kissed him like the world was burning, like he was the eternal fountain of blood, and he kissed her like nothing mattered, until he couldn't breath, and his toes were nearly numb with giving.
And then she changed again. Softer. The skin of her arms under his hands became malleable, just cool rather than cold, and her hands, smooth and industrious little hands, slid up into his hair, and she kissed him like he mattered.
Like there was more to this than rage and cold.
And for a moment, he believed it. With his eyes closed, and her close, the smell of vampire faded into the smells of forest, leaving only the smell of girl. The feel of the curves of her back under the thin material of her dress. The soft skin of her shoulders, and the satin of her hair.
And in his mind it was brown. And in his mind it perfect. She pulled away, and when he looked at her, remembering, her eyes were mostly green, and she shook her head, her hands falling from his skin. He reached for her as she slipped away, but she eluded him. "I'm not her."
And the rage was back, the heat returning as his blood churned, and the words spat themselves from his mouth. "I know."
"I won't ever be."
He knew that too. And knowing that was acid, and he couldn't smell the woods any more, but the sharp acrid scent of vampire clung to his skin, and she watched him with sad hungry eyes.
And he ran for the water.
They came in wolf form, doubtful, to watch the vampires throw each other about. She was the smallest, but in the clearing, there was no doubt she was not the weakest. Even before they began, her movements, her manners gave it away.
Bella stood with the vampires, and it hurt, but more than his eyes stayed on Bella, more than they stayed on Emmett or Jasper, they strayed to her, as she fought, and glowed without the sunshine. Deadly, and almost beautiful, in a way that had Sam snarling at him for thinking it.
And when they skulked away she followed. Until the stream. And he looked back on the other side, to her, watching, patient and still, and then to the pack disappearing towards home. He followed them, and when he turned back for one last glimpse, there was nothing there but undisturbed leaves.
He woke with the smell of vampire strong around him, and felt the crackling of fur pushing against his skin even as he opened his eyes. In the dark of his room, she was there, watching from beside the doorway.
He stood without thinking.
"You can't be here."
Her eyes dropped, and he scrambled for a blanket.
She was closer when he looked up, one hand against his cheek, pulling the blush, invisible in the dark, from his skin. "I forget how young you are." She confessed, and before he could think, she was closer, and he was falling, back to the edge of the bed, his fingers curled tight around his sheet. She stood before him, and tilted his head up. And the smell of her, in his room, was unmistakable.
"They'll kill you."
She kissed him like that didn't matter, and this did.
And his eyes lingered closed even when she drew back to allow him breathe. And when he opened his eyes, she was gone, only the slowly dissipating cool on his lips, and the stink in the room proving she'd been there.
He stood on the edge of the wood, and debated. It meant something. To go without her waiting.
He dipped one foot into the stream.
It meant something dangerous.
He was knee deep in the water when he saw her, sitting calmly on the other side, tracing patterns into the ground.
She didn't look up until he reached her.
"Edward heard you."
The name stung, but only slightly. Her hand reached up, and pulled him down, and he let her, falling across the symbols, smearing their lines into the dirt. A happy face with fangs smiled up from under his elbow. Three hearts with curving tails surrounded his head.
Her hands landed across the hearts on either side, obscuring them, and the breeze whisked the smell of her way, and there was only the sound of his breath, his heart, and the underbrush, and the feel of her.
And it was enough.
Jacob felt his heart pull as she asked him, a dull ache, of realistic love. He loved her. He betrayed himself with her soon to be sister-in-law, but he loved her. But he knew her now. Knew her looks. Knew her heart. Knew that she would never look like that to anyone but Edward. His fight was gone, and it hurt, but it was better.
He shook his head. "Sorry."
Her eyes shone. "Please?"
He reached for her, and the warmth and softness of her skin startled him, and the strength of him startled her. "I'm sorry."
He pulled his hand back, and she rubbed her arm where the skin was red, and looked away.
He looked away too, over to the pack milling about in preparation, over to the vampires.
Buffy was watching him, eyes bright, face even, and even as his stomach rolled and his blood boiled, he knew he was an idiot. The rage was gone now, but there was something else. Something equally dangerous. Equally powerful. But it wasn't enough.
Nor should it have been.
He broke the stare, and found Bella gone, holding hands with the one she'd managed to convince to stay on the sidelines.
And he didn't look back at Buffy until the fight was half through, and Alice screamed that Victoria wasn't there. That Edward needed help. That Bella would die. And he was running the track he'd made earlier. And she was behind, above and ahead, and he caught glimpses of ivory and gold between the trees, and smelt blood, vampire blood, on the wind behind him.
Jacob sat in front of Bella, her fingers curled into his flanks, and watched Edward fight the female, Victoria. And watched Buffy destroy the male. Piece by piece, his cries to his companion going unheard, as Buffy quickly, brutally tore him into more pieces than should have been convenient, and dropped him down.
Then she was running, back the way they'd come, back to the fight, and since Victoria was headless, and Edward had control, he followed.
When he emerged on the battlefield, he saw the last of them, flying at Leah's belly. He dove.
He caught the vampire's body, as Buffy landed twelve feet away with his head, blood on her fingertips, and a smile on her face, and Emmett picked her up, and spun her around, both of them high on the death of the battle.
And he could hear the thoughts of his pack easing.
Hear them watching her celebrate saving the life of one of them. Of killing one of her own.
The youngest in appearance, eyes like blood, stepped forward, blank face not completely hiding her cruelty.
Calmly, she denied them the life of the girl.
The Cullens stepped out of the way.
Eyes like blood focused on her, and the cruelty curved a smile as Buffy fell, knees into the dirt, blood streaming from her eyes, The girl cowered behind her, as Buffy’s skin cracked along the cheek, at the neck, the tip of her right ear hitting the snow.
His muscles bunched to leap, as her mouth opened, glistening with blood, shaped with agony, as she tried to grab the vampire reaching past her for the girl, and blood red eyes pinned her to the ground.
The others stood, afraid, and looking away.
Her blood ran across the snow, staining it pink, and there was nothing in her eyes, as little flakes of her mouth peeled away and fluttered down.
One of the hooded vampires announced it done, and the red eyes looked away, the cruelty pouting, but they turned, leaving her there, cracks resealing slowly, too slowly, still bleeding on the ground.
The others circled around her, and in their middle she was unsteady on her feet, hunched and weary, and the other wolves began away, and he waited until she looked at him. Finally she did, and her eyes were empty black, and the urge to run after red eyes made his bones ache, but he knew better, knew that if the others had done nothing, there was a reason, so he did the only thing he could. He followed his pack back home.
He was deep into their woods before he found her, well away from the stream. He hadn't seen her since the wedding. When she'd stood up with her sisters, ear grown back, face hollow, and eyes black, and smiled without moving her eyes.
When he'd tried to dance with her, ignoring the thoughts of his packmates, and had her pull away from him like he burned.
She was sitting in the sun, wearing almost nothing, and the sight of her hurt his eyes. Legs crossed, hands on her knees, eyes closed.
He approached, eyes averted from her brilliance.
He knelt beside her, and she took his hand, standing, and leading him away from the light, back under the trees where he could look at her.
Her eyes were gold again, but her face was still tired.
She shook her head, and he didn't bother. He had nothing important to say. Nothing true. He slid his hands into her hair, and she placed hers overtop, leaning into his skin. When her eyes opened, there was green dancing through, and borrowed heat, and something soft, and he could feel it in himself, along with the sad knowledge that it didn't matter. That it was nothing more than letting her pull him down beneath the trees, and knowing even when his eyes shut, who it was that kissed him.
Gravity shifted, and he couldn't think couldn’t breath couldn’t couldn’t. It resettled, and there was only joy. Absolute, all encompassing joy. Love more than anything he'd ever dreamed of, the brilliant cousin to the paler echo he felt through the pack bond. She was his, and he knew it, and the world was perfect. He would wait, and love her. And be with her every day of her life. All those days stretched out, glorious and bright.
When they took her away, and didn't let him follow, and he looked up at the world again, he noticed Buffy watching him gently, and there was sadness, a quiet nagging sadness that had no real effect on his ocean of joy.
She reached for him, and held either side of his face, her hands cold and firm as stone, and stood on a footstool to reach his forehead, her lips freezing against the unwavering heat of his skin as she kissed it.
Then she let him go, and stepped back, and he could see that she had known. And that was good, because he couldn't apologise, Couldn't pretend. Everything was in the next room, waiting, and Buffy was so long ago it didn't seem like his life, but he didn’t want to hurt her.
She walked away, past him, out into the sunlight, and he didn't look back, but watched the door to the other room, for any sign they'd let him in.
I’ve been sick all day. I always seem to post when I’m in a weakened condition. Worth posting, or should I have waited until the harsh light of day (i.e. I should take it down immediately and buy a head covering bag of shame!)