This is my entry for the 'After Your Heart Stops Beating OneShot Contest'

To view the story and the other entries on the contest page, please visit the following page and vote for your favourite!:


Thanks to Sharon and Becky for pre-reading and encouraging me, I was on the verge of throwing this away more than once before it was finished, and no doubt would have done without their support! Also to Amy for the encouragement of her Power Writing Hour, it really did help :o)

Reader warning: This O/S is Jake/Vamp Bella pairing. If you're not a fan of this idea, consider yourself warned!

Disclaimer: Twilight and all related characters belong to Stephenie Meyer, no copyright infringements intended as I twist her rules.

What's Dead is Dead…or is it?

"It was true?" I choked the words out, unable to think properly with the flashing lights and beeps of the machinery. This wasn't supposed to have happened; this was supposed to have been their damn cover story.

"Yes. I knew you wouldn't believe it if I didn't let you see it with your own eyes, Jacob." Edward's voice was as smooth as ever, but his brow was furrowed and his eyes never left her small, pale frame as she lay covered with a sheet the same washed out tone as her skin.

I crossed to the bed and sank down onto a chair that somebody had left there. I guessed it was for my benefit seeing as none of the leeches needed to sit. I tentatively reached for her hand and my eyes shot to his as I registered that her skin actually felt warm to me.

"Jesus, she's on fire. Can't you do anything?" I could hear the fear in my voice and his face was solemn as he looked back at me.

"Carlisle's been doing everything he can for her. The drugs have stopped working though. There's nothing else he can do, other than keep her comfortable." I felt my anger flare. They'd given up on her.

"You could get her to a Goddamn hospital, Cullen," I spat at him. "Rather than keeping her here while you all play doctors and nurses."

"Carlisle is the best, Jacob. She'd be no better off in the hospital."

"Bullshit," I said angrily, standing up. "At least there she'd have people who wanted to save her life, not end it for her."

In a blur he was there, right in front of me, his black eyes flashing with anger. I backed up slightly, not from fear but because the vamp smell was burning my nose.

"You may find it hard to believe, but I want her alive more than anything."

I snorted.

"Hard to believe? Try impossible."

"Despite your opinion of me, I've never wanted to change her. I know that's what we'd agreed, but I was unhappy about it. This is different though. She's dying. If I thought there was anything that would save her, I'd do it. I'd take her to the other side of the world and pay whatever they asked. If…" his voice softened and the anger in his eyes turned to sadness. "If there was anything that could be done."

I turned away from him and sat back down in the chair. Lifting her hand to my nose, I inhaled the scent of her skin, trying to ignore the way it was tainted with the stench of vampire.

"She'll be dead to me." I looked down into her face. She didn't look peaceful, she looked as though every minute was a fight, which I guessed it was; a fight for her life. One that she was losing. "I'm sorry Bells," I whispered. "I guess this is goodbye." Leaning in I pressed my lips to her head, flinching again at the temperature of her skin. "I love you."

I stood and without so much as a backward glance I strode from the room.

"Jacob?" I rolled over on my bed to see my father in the doorway. "What's going on with Bella Swan?"

I snorted at his question.

"You mean Bella Cullen? She's dead. Same as the rest of them," I sneered, propping myself up to punch some air back into my pillow and then turning back to the wall as I lay down.

"Charlie's going out of his mind, Jake. He can't get past Carlisle on the phone and he's on the verge of getting in his cruiser and heading over there. I've talked him out of it so far, but I can't hold him off much longer, son."

"Not my problem." The old man was really starting to wear on my nerves now.

"Charlie and Bella are like family to us—" I sat up quickly and faced him.

"No! They're not!" I half-yelled in anger. "Are you even listening to what I'm telling you? Bella. Is. Dead. That's it. Gone. The end." I scooted to the bottom of my bed and to the door. My Dad wheeled his chair back to allow me to get out, but I didn't meet his eyes. I had to get out of the small, claustrophobic house.

"Jake, please…" his voice trailed off. As I reached the door I turned back.

"I'll send Seth over to speak to them," I told him, my voice a little calmer now. He nodded once and I left, slamming the door behind me.

I was desperate to just let go, but I took a moment to slip my cut-off sweats off and fasten them to my ankle. I straightened up, took a deep breath and let my instincts take over. The wolf in me exploded and before I knew it I was running along, my anger flowing out through my immense paws each time they made contact with the forest floor.

Hey, Jake! Is it true? Is it, huh? Quil yelled at me in my head as my mind connected with the rest of the pack.

Shut up Quil! Embry snapped.

If you mean 'Is Bella dead?' Quil, then yes, she is. I know nothing beyond that though, so if you're asking me whether she joined the ranks of the Living Dead, my answer is I don't know and I don't care.

I'm sorry, dude. Embry thought.

Thanks. Has anyone heard from Seth? My dad was right; Charlie was family and I needed to help him out with this, as much as it pissed me off to still have to use any brain power on those filthy bloodsuckers.

He ran patrol with me last night. He headed over to the Cullen place straight after. I've not heard from him since.

Thanks, Leah.

For the record, Jake, I'm sorry too. Not surprised, but sorry.

I'd had enough of the noise inside my head and phased back. What to do? What to do? I paced in the small clearing, my thoughts switching between waiting for Seth to come home and just going and getting it over with myself.

"Dammit!" I snapped as I continued to wear a path in the earth beneath my feet. I stopped as I came to a decision. "You have alpha blood in you, Jake," I told myself. "Suck it up."

I broke away from the circuit I was following in the clearing, and headed through the trees in the direction of the Cullens'. Breaking into a run, it wasn't long until I was at the perimeter of their property.

I'd barely stepped through the trees, when Edward appeared in front of me.

"Jacob," he greeted me with a nod. I noticed that the furrowed brow of the previous week had vanished. In turn his eyes, which had been as black as coal, now gleamed a bright golden color. I mean, like they almost fucking sparkled. I rolled my eyes.

"You know why I'm here, mind-reader."

"Don't worry; she's going to call him today."

I ignored the fact that he was speaking of Bella as though she were alive.

She's dead. She's dead. She's dead, I chanted to myself.

"I know the situation is…less than ideal for you, Jacob, but she's as full of life as she ever was before…"

"She's dead." I wasn't even getting into this with him.

"If you just saw her you'd see—"

"No! I didn't come here for this, I came for Charlie. Now if you can guarantee me that you're resolving that problem I'll be going." I turned and stalked away, and then remembered something and called over my shoulder. "And tell Seth to get his skinny punk ass back to the rez…" I'd turned my head to make sure he was listening to me, but stopped in my tracks.

Someone had joined Edward at his side. Bella. She looked different to me and for a moment I couldn't place it, but then it didn't matter because everything shifted. A warmth grew inside me and my very soul glowed with the heat of my love for this girl. I tried to make sense of it. I'd loved Bella for a long time now, so why did this feel so different all of a sudden? Why did it feel like she was drawing me in somehow? Like…what the hell?

I was taken aback by the sensation of a sudden detachment from everything that mattered to me. It was as though a physical change was going on within me, like all that was holding me now was…Bella.

Shit. No! I can't have; that's not how imprinting worked! It wasn't as though it was the first time I'd seen Bella…I stopped, a realization hitting me. It was the first time I'd seen Vampire Bella though.

Why would that make a difference? I wondered. But I didn't wonder for long, because I didn't actually care as I realized that she was looking at me with the kind of intensity that could only mean that she felt the draw too.

Somewhere, on the edge of my focus I could hear Edward cursing and begging. Oh, this was just my damn luck, alright. Only I could imprint on the girl of my dreams after she got married and became one of the undead. With that thought, I fought against every part of my being that was pulling me towards her and turned on my heels. I raced away from them, teeth gritted against the uncomfortable feeling that grew with every pace I put between us.

I didn't dare to phase. The thought of the rest of the pack seeing what had just happened made me want to keep running like this forever. The rightful alpha to a pack of werewolves, who phased to protect their people from vampires, imprints on a vampire. Every time I thought I'd seen it all in this world of magic I'd been forced into, another twist even more mind-blowing than the last came up and bit me on the ass.

I was within half a mile of the beach when I heard the sound of paws thundering towards me. I pushed on harder, but soon realized that whoever it may be was gaining on me regardless of my best efforts in my human form. Slowing and stopping, I saw the sandy colored wolf galloping towards me before he halted abruptly, sending leaves and soil flying out from under his paws.

Seth had been at the Cullens' house, which meant he must know what had happened. And then he'd taken off after me. As a wolf.

"Well, thanks a lot, Seth," I spat out, unable to contain my anger. "I just ran all the way here without phasing so none of the pack would know what happened back there." He whimpered and lowered his head. "Just phase back, will you? I'd rather not have this conversation with an audience right now."

The air shimmered and I averted my eyes as the human Seth untied his cut-off sweats from his ankle and pulled them on.

"I'm sorry, Jake. I heard what happened and knew the only way I could catch up to you was to phase. I was scared you were going to run and not stop again." The kid looked so pained, that if I'd had any room for extra emotions at that moment I may almost have felt guilty.

"Yeah, well if I thought that was an option for me, Seth, believe me, I'd have been at the Canadian border by now. This has gone beyond running." I sank down onto a tree trunk that lay covered in thick green moss, about to be reclaimed by the forest. "What happened after I left?" I asked, unable to stop myself. Seth fidgeted uncomfortably.

"I think everyone was in shock. Bella wanted to take straight off after you, but Edward persuaded her to stay. She went to talk things through with Carlisle. I don't know what happened next because I came after you."

Bella wanted to come after me? That was so Bella. Through my confusion I couldn't help feeling a little smug about it. I bet Cullen hated that. My mind went back to the conversation we'd had in the tent on the eve of the battle with the red-headed leech and her minions. I couldn't help but wonder how much of what he'd said that night would become relevant now. Would he really let her go if that's what she decided she wanted?

I realized that I'd run because I hadn't considered one thing. The fact that maybe Bella would choose me over Cullen. Dare I hope for that? I never would have if…if I hadn't seen the look in her eyes as I felt my body tying itself to hers. There had definitely been something there. I'd seen it and I'd felt it.

"Aww, man!" I jumped to my feet and kicked at the tree I'd been sitting on. The rotting bark flew off at the point of impact and the rest of the trunk flew across the ground for a short distance. I turned to face Seth, who was standing looking uncomfortable as hell. "I'd said my goodbyes you know? I spent all that time putting myself through that, but oh no, that's not enough torture for Jacob Black, is it? Let's see what else we can throw at him before he breaks."

I could feel everything building towards an explosion inside me. I turned and took off again, determined to reach my original destination. There was something about the beach that always cleared my head…for a while at least.

I chose my spot to rest; there was nothing accidental about the fact I headed straight for one particular bleached tree of all the ones that lay on the beach. I'd only just settled myself down when I became aware of somebody approaching. I assumed it was Seth, he was stubborn enough to keep following me; but then I realized that I didn't know they were there because I'd heard them approach. I just knew. As I prepared to turn it registered that the ache in my chest had disappeared. It had begun as I ran away from Bella, but now it was gone. And just like that I knew exactly who was there.

"Bella," I acknowledged quietly, not even turning from the crashing waves of the ocean to see if I was right.

"Jake. Is it true? Did you really…" her voice trailed off. It was the first time that I had heard her speak since she'd changed. She sounded familiar and yet so different. I wasn't sure that I could pinpoint the difference, only to say that she sounded…perfect. Her voice alone pulled me in, whether due to the imprinting or to her new status as predator I couldn't say. Bella, a predator. I cringed at the thought, despite my feelings for her.

I nodded and turned to her. My breath caught as I looked at her close-up for the first time. She was standing right beside me, her hair flying in the wind that blew in off the ocean. She was beautiful. It was as though everything that I'd admired about her previously had been intensified tenfold.

I slapped down the thoughts and reminded myself that this wasn't my Bella, but the newly married, blood-sucking version.

"So you've heard it from the wolf's mouth, Bella. You can go home now; back to your husband." She actually flinched as I said the words, and I noticed the deep red color of the eyes that had once been a rich brown. They were freaky as hell, but at the same time…they were beautiful on her.

"Jake, I can't just walk away now. You imprinted on me for crying out loud!"

I stood and turned quickly to face her.

"Bella, you're going to have to walk away; there's nothing to be achieved by you staying. I have no idea what magical fuck-up has happened here, but it makes no sense. We're supposed to be enemies now, not…" I paused, unable to continue.

Looking into her eyes I could tell that she knew the nature of what I hadn't said.

"Carlisle has a theory," she whispered. I snorted.

"No surprises there. Dr Fang has a theory for everything." I turned and made my way to the shoreline, picking up a handful of stones and throwing them one by one into the churning surf that reflected exactly how I felt inside at that moment.

Bella had followed me and was at my side. As I lifted my arm to throw another pebble, she reached out and placed her hand on the bare flesh of my bicep. I shivered at the contact and yet despite her skin being like ice, it wasn't the temperature difference that had caused my reaction.

"Hear me out, Jake."

I dropped my arm to my side and opened my hand, letting the remaining pebbles drop back onto the beach.

"OK. Amaze me with his theory," I sighed. She nodded slightly.

"So, the biggest part that doesn't make any sense is that the pack only ever imprint on somebody the first time they see them after they started phasing, right?"

"I'm guessing this is going to be something to do with it being the first time I saw you after you changed too?" I mumbled.

"Carlisle thinks that it's to do with the extent of the change between human and vampire. Vampires have twenty-five pairs of chromosomes compared to the human twenty-three pairs. Essentially I'm a completely different species to before."

I couldn't help but let my calm façade slip for a moment as my frustration flared again.

"Exactly! You're a different species. We're supposed to hate one another. Explain that! We always thought that the whole point of imprinting was to protect our people; how the hell does this," I gestured between the two of us. "Do that?"

"Because I'm not just any vampire, Jake. We've both seen the benefits of working together against an enemy—"

"But we always thought it was about the genes; about creating the strongest line for future generations. Bella you…" my voice dipped to a whisper. "You can't have children now." If I'd thought she'd get upset at me mentioning this, I was wrong. She stuck out her chin determinedly.

"Jake, you wouldn't need to have children to carry on your line if you were with me. You could stay around and do the job yourself."

I stilled as I thought about her words. She was right on all counts. As usual, Carlisle had given it plenty of thought.

"So what theory did Carlisle come up with to deal with the fact that you're married to his son? Huh?"

"Jake, don't—"

"No! It's all well and good you coming here with your possible explanations, Bella, but it's not the theories that really matter, is it? It's what we do about the situation ourselves. This is my life, Godammit! How much more of this do you think I can take? When do I get a break, huh?" Bella's mouth hung open slightly as I stood ranting in front of her. "Do not stand there, all…undead and righteous and…fucking beautiful…spouting theories at me, when all I want is to love you, without any of this other shit! OK?" I looked down at Bella as she gazed up at me, and brought my hand to her face. "It's all I ever wanted, Bells."

I bent and pressed my lips lightly to hers. It was nothing like the last kiss we'd shared. There was no heat other than the spark inside me, as her marble-hard, ice cold lips met mine, but the contrast between my heat and her coldness was scintillating; like no other sensation I'd known. The kiss was chaste and lasted only a moment, but as I pulled my mouth away from hers, I already felt the painful straining of the ties that bound us.

"I have to leave," Bella told me, stepping away. "I need time to process all of this. I just needed to know you were OK." She smiled, an action that showed the strain behind it and then she turned and ran away up the beach with a grace that took my breath away. I couldn't help the deep laugh that slipped from my mouth as I thought about how many times the old Bella would have stumbled on the stones in that distance.

The days that followed were difficult for several reasons. The main one of course, was the ache in my chest caused by the distance between Bella and me. I'd found that distance eased it slightly, so I'd taken to running as close as I could to the Cullens' without actually drawing attention to myself. Seth told me that I didn't need to bother hiding it as they all knew what I was doing, but it felt better that way.

According to Seth, things weren't going well between Bella and Edward. There were constant arguments and he'd heard my name mentioned often during them. Edward had turned in on himself, as I'd seen him do before when he was worried about Bella, and Bella in turn was being less affectionate towards him. I wished I knew more about what was going on, but I refused to push myself on her as I had in the past.

My other main issue was the rest of the pack. They all knew everything now and it had been just as awkward as I knew it would be. Sam, to his credit, had been great about it. After all, he understood all about the problems that came with controversial imprinting. Leah, as I could have predicted, took the news worse than the rest. She was currently sulking and refusing to speak to the rest of us. Imprinting and vampires; her two least favourite things combined into one wonderful nugget of good news. I still wasn't sure who the news was good for; the way I saw it, there wasn't a single person likely to benefit from the situation as it stood.

I was doing some work on the Rabbit in my garage the next time I saw Bella. Sensing her proximity immediately, I knew that she was there. I ducked out from under the hood, grabbing an oily rag and wiping my hands on it as I turned.

"Hey, Bella," I greeted her, unable to hide my smile. I loved the way having her close to me made me feel.

"Hey," she replied. "How have you been?"

"A little off. Like a piece of me was missing, you know?" I half-teased. To my surprise she nodded, her face serious.

"I do know. I feel it too."

"And here we go; straight in with the emo-tastic crap," I mumbled quietly to myself.

"Yep, and I have vampire-spec hearing now, remember?" I rolled my eyes.

"You've got vampire-spec everything, Bells. Except for one thing…"

I'd been meaning to mention it the last time we'd met, but things had got heavy before I got around to mentioning it.

"What?" she asked, clearly puzzled.

"You don't stink like the others. Your smell is…strangely appealing."

"Ditto," she said with a light laugh. "Seth definitely has an…interesting aroma, but you…" she shrugged. "You smell good."

I laughed and raised my arm, taking a dramatic sniff of my arm-pit through the grey t-shirt I'd been working in all morning. Wrinkling my nose I turned back to Bella.

"Wow, you vamps must really have screwed senses." Bella laughed with me and suddenly things felt almost normal for a second; easy, like they used to be.

I reached into the Rabbit and pulled a warm can of coke from the brown paper bag on the front seat. Cracking it open I looked up at Bella again.

"I'd offer you one, only…" I shrugged one shoulder raised my eyebrows in a 'you know?' gesture. She smiled.

"It's ok, I'm not thirsty."

"Glad to hear it, I'd hate to have to run you off the rez." Bella looked at me, a playful look on her face.

"I'd like to see you try, pup," she smirked.

"Is that a challenge?" I asked, slightly incredulous.

"Yep. Are you afraid to accept?" She taunted. I laughed.

"No, but you'll be wishing I was," I told her, peeling my t-shirt off and tossing it onto my tool bench, before slipping my sneakers off. She was standing staring at my body as I froze with my hands on the waistband of my cut-off sweats. "I really don't care if you turn away or not, Bells, but I'd hate to embarrass you, so…"

"Oh!" she exclaimed as she turned. "Sorry! I was…uh…a little distracted."

"Yeah, yeah, I know, 'sort of beautiful', right?" I smiled in her direction.



"Shut up."

I put my hands on her shoulders and guided her out of the garage, not wanting to phase in the small space.

"You want a head start?" I asked, teasing her.

"No. Do you?" she asked. She spoke with an air of indignation, but I could hear the edge of humour in her voice.

"Well, that depends on whether you want me to lap you or not. Ok, on the count of three. One…" I felt Bella brace herself, ready to take off. "Two…" I phased and barked in place of the number three. Bella took off and I raced after her.

I kept up with her easily; we were pretty evenly matched for speed, although if I really pushed myself I knew I could probably get past her. We jumped rivers and dodged trees as we ran through the forest together. Just as we approached another stream, I decided that I'd chased her for long enough. I pushed myself forward and gently wrapped a large paw around her, bringing her to an abrupt halt. She struggled to turn in mid-air and land on her feet, but I'd managed to place myself above her, and nudged her to the ground with my nose. She lay there, not even trying to get up, as she laughed loudly. I licked her face like an over-friendly family pet, and then I did something that I hadn't planned. At all.

I phased back.

Sinking to my knees, I crouched above Bella on all fours, in the same position I'd been in right before I phased. She gasped and I noticed her eyes were fixed determinedly onto my face.

"Ok…this is awkward," she said quietly.

"Is it?" I asked her. "Close your eyes for a moment." I watched her eyelids close and then closed my own. She sighed and I hoped that meant that she could feel exactly what I could. It was the comforting sensation of her closeness; the feeling for once, that the elastic-like connection between us wasn't about to snap at any moment. "You see?" I whispered. I kept my eyes closed, but ducked my head a little lower.

My lips gently touched Bella's. To my surprise she responded, placing one hand firmly on the back of my neck to pull me closer. I groaned and parted my lips slightly, but she shocked me when she abruptly pushed me backward, sending me flying several feet into the air, before I crashed down onto the ground, wincing.

Her hands flew to her mouth.

"Oh my God, I'm sorry, Jake! I didn't mean to push you so hard. I was…I was scared of the venom." I froze. I'd been so caught up in the moment that I hadn't even given it a thought.

"I hadn't thought of that," I confessed quietly.

Bella crossed to where I was sitting on the ground and dropped down next to me, seemingly no longer awkwardly aware of my nakedness.

"Jake…I came to see you because I've been thinking a lot…about us."

"Us?" I asked, my head snapping up. "There can't be an 'us', Bella, we just demonstrated that, right there." She looked pained at my reaction.

"Can I finish?"

"If you think there's any point in it, you can," I told her stubbornly. She ignored me.

"Since that day when you came around and saw me for the first time—"

"You can say imprinted, Bella. It's not a dirty word," I cut in. With a small nod of acknowledgement she continued.

"Things haven't been the same with Edward."

"Yeah, well he never could stand me…"

"I don't mean like that," Bella told me gently. "It's not him who's changed; it's me. My feelings for him haven't been the same. I was talking to Carlisle—"

I scoffed.

"Don't tell me, he has a theory for this too?"

"You're not the only one that this whole situation isn't easy for, you know, Jacob," she snapped at me, standing up in one easy movement that was so fast I almost missed it. "In fact, if you ask me, you have it the easiest. You don't have any difficult decisions to make, do you? No, your destiny is all marked out; it all gets handed to you on a plate!"

I jumped to my feet, towering above her now.

"Oh yeah, Bella. That's how I prefer my life: Out of my own control and decided by some sick and twisted entity that's using me as its own personal puppet show. God forbid that I might actually be able to make a decision for myself!"

We stood face to face, the anger all but visible, aura-like around the both of us. After a moment Bella opened her mouth and continued to speak, softly now.

"Carlisle thinks that my bond with Edward might have been part of the imprinting process," she told me.

"That makes no sense," I told her, shaking my head in confusion.

"He thinks that maybe the pack really needs me and you to be together. The magic stretched further than usual to create a strong bond, almost like imprinting, between Edward and me. Remember when I told you that I never had a choice? I made a comparison between me and Edward and Sam and Emily?" I nodded. "Well that was how it felt. Think about it. Without Edward I'd never have been changed. I may have ended up dead, or stayed human, but there wouldn't have been any reason for me to become a vampire. I'd never have become who you needed me to be, without Edward."

In some kind of twisted way, what she was saying almost made sense.

"And now…?" I prompted her.

"And now…I don't feel that way about him." She looked down at the ground, sadly. "I still love him, but I don't feel the pull that I felt towards him. I…Jake, I feel the pull from you now, and it scares the hell out of me."

I took a step closer to her and wrapped my arms around her, burying my nose in her hair.

"Me too, Bells…me too."

We stood like that for a moment and I adjusted to the new feel of her. Her softness had gone, but I couldn't bring myself to think of that as a bad thing as I held her close, revelling in the feelings that she caused inside of me.

"I have no idea where we go from here. We can't even kiss properly dammit, because of the venom," I sighed.

Bella moved back slightly.

"Carlisle had something to say about that too," she said. I rolled my eyes.

"Of course he did. How he's never won a Nobel prize is beyond me." Bella swatted my arm playfully.

"Ow!" I yelled at the hard impact and rubbed where she'd hit me.

"Oh, not again! I'm sorry I keep hurting you! I forget," she confessed sheepishly.

"Never mind, I'm fine. Just tell me," I urged her, intrigued to see if Carlisle's insight could help with our biggest stumbling block.

"When the pack began to fight with us against other vampires, Carlisle was concerned that one of you would get bitten. He began working on a vaccine. It was never finished in time for the battle, but he thinks he has it now; Seth's been helping him trial it."

"Yeah, that figures. Over-eager pup," I stated. It didn't surprise me, but her next sentence did.

"He's offered it to us."

"Excuse me?"

"I said, he's offered his venom vaccine to us." I tilted my head.

"Your father-in-law has offered us the use of his vaccine, so that you and I can be together?" Bella nodded and I rested one hand on my hip and gestured with the other. "Bella, when I say it out loud like that, can't you hear how ludicrous it sounds?"

"Jacob, marriages break-up all of the time. Edward has said that if I really want to be with you, he'd never make me unhappy by stopping me."

I rubbed my hand over my eyes.

"Bells, this is all kinds of crazy, you know?"

"I know."

We were both silent for a long moment before I sighed loudly and spoke.

"Where do I sign up?"

"You…you want to try?" she stuttered. I smiled at her reaction.

"I kind of don't have any choice. There's this industrial strength cable type connection that has me on one end and you on the other. Unless the good doctor has a theory on how to break it…?" She shook her head. "Then I'm in." I shrugged.

The situation with the rest of the Cullen clan had quickly become strained at best and difficult at worst. Carlisle, as ever, was Doctor Diplomacy. I figured that his hundreds of years as a vampire meant that his super-natural-ometer was set to 'unshockable'. He had done his best to make sure that everybody was happy and had everything they needed; including giving me the venom vaccine. It was nasty shit, and made me sick as…well, a dog, in the couple of days after he gave me the shot, but he assured me that his tests had shown it to be effective.

Carlisle was just about the only one of the family who remained on good terms with Bella. Esme, as good as she was, was nonetheless to all intents and purposes, Edward's mother. She had loved Bella like a daughter, but Edward was her son and Bella had hurt him. She wasn't cruel to Bella, but she couldn't bring herself to be too friendly either.

Rosalie had been the worst. When she heard that Bella was planning on leaving Edward for me, the situation turned ugly and Emmett had to hold Rose back to stop her from attacking Bella. Not the smartest move, given Bella's newborn strength. Still, she was a blonde; what else could you expect?

Edward? Well he'd skipped town of course, within hours of Bella giving him the news. I couldn't blame him; I'd done exactly the same thing after all.

Things weren't much better on the La Push side of the treaty line either. Despite all of my father's previous arguments about Charlie and Bella being family, when it came down to the thought of a vampire moving into our little house, my father just about jumped up from his wheelchair in rage. I did my best to explain that Bella staying with the Cullens, or returning to Charlie's house weren't viable options at the moment. Eventually his version of a compromise was to say that if Bella was moving in, he was moving out and going to lodge with the Clearwaters for a while. Though we felt responsible for forcing him from his home, we had few other options, so we thanked him, promised it wouldn't be forever and made the most of our new living arrangements.

I wasn't sure who'd been the most excited the day that Bella moved her stuff in. Finally we were both hoping for an end to the incessant ache in our chests that being apart caused us. I found it hard to believe that I'd been so ready to give up on Bella before. She was still the same girl underneath the ice cold skin, only it was as though she'd been enhanced; souped up. Had I really just compared the girl I loved with a car? I smiled to myself.

"What are you smiling at?" she asked me, lowering herself onto my lap. I wrapped my arms around her waist as she wound hers around my neck.

"Well, I was just thinking how you're impossibly closer to perfect now." I smiled again at her, taken by her beauty.

"Is that right? Well, how about you show me some of your Jacob Black perfection that I like so much, huh?"

The smile eased from my face as I looked down at her mouth and licked my lips in anticipation. I angled my head slowly towards her and she moved to meet me. Our lips touched softly and I slid my tongue out to run across the marble-like skin of her lower lip. She moaned and parted her lips, her own tongue darting out to meet mine. I groaned as the sweet, perfect taste of her spread into my mouth.

We'd only allowed ourselves to share kisses like these in the last day or so, wanting to be certain that the vaccine was in full effect before we took any risks. It had been worth the wait, but holy shit, I couldn't get enough of her now. I figured it was a good job that we weren't your average humans, because our faces would be raw by now from the amount of time that we'd spent making out.

As our kiss deepened naturally, I lost myself to the otherworldly sensations that being so close to her, brought me. It was the nearest thing to peace I'd ever known, whilst at the same time it was as though every sense was extraordinarily heightened. It truly made no sense, and I wasn't about to waste precious time with Bella, trying to figure it out.

My hands cupped her face, as hers pushed through my hair. Slowly I moved one hand downwards, sliding it over her neck and down to cover her breast. I moved my thumb across her firm skin, and a thrill ran through me when her nipple hardened further at my touch in a typically human response.

Bella gasped and arched her back, pushing her chest out towards me. Needing no further encouragement I slid my hand further down, and under her shirt. She hissed when my hands touched her bare skin. Whether it was because of my heat, or the electrical impulses that throbbed at every point our skin met, I had no idea.

In a sudden blur of movement, I found myself shirtless and lying on my back on the couch, my feet hanging off one end, as Bella straddled me.

"Whoa, Bells! What the hell was that?" I asked, still in shock and trying to figure out what had happened. She laughed lightly as she dragged her finger nails gently down my bare torso, causing me to shiver in ecstasy.

"Let's just say that vampire speed can have serious benefits," she told me, raising an eyebrow.

"Really? I got ten bucks that says you can't get your own shirt off as fast," I challenged her teasingly, smiling as I knew whichever way the bet went, I couldn't lose.

A blast of air crossed my body and then there she was in just her bra. I swallowed deeply at the sight of her beautiful, creamy skin. "OK," I croaked. "I'm beginning to see the advantages here." She smirked and leaned forward to kiss me, the first touch shocking me as the iciness of her skin met the heat of mine, before I relaxed into the contact.

The bare skin of her waist was flawlessly smooth beneath my hands as I held onto her. She slid down my body a little as she bent to feather my neck with gentle kisses and licks. My eyes almost rolled back in my head at the blissful sensation. Suddenly, as she edged lower still she brushed against my cock, every bit as hard as her own skin as it strained against the fabric of my jeans. I groaned loudly at the contact and Bella deliberately tilted her hips and rubbed herself on me again.

"Holy fuck, Bella!" I exclaimed breathlessly. "That feels—" She did it again, rendering me speechless as an ecstatic moan escaped from my lips.

"That good, huh?" she asked, her eyes perceptibly filled with desire.

"Seriously, you have no idea how good that fee—" She pressed herself against me again with the same results.

I twisted and we rolled off the couch and onto the floor so that Bella was below me now on the thick rug. I couldn't help thinking that it was nice for your girl to be unbreakable sometimes. I lowered my face towards her and she pulled me down for an urgent kiss, one hand on the back of my neck and the other rubbing tantalizing circles on my back. Her strength was incredible; there'd have been no way to get away from that kiss, even if I'd wanted to. Eventually though, the pressure on my neck eased and I took my opportunity, pulling away from her lips trail my tongue across her jaw. I nibbled gently on her ear lobe and traced a line down her neck.

As I reached her breast, I wrapped my hand around it, rolling her nipple between my finger and thumb before wrapping my mouth greedily around it. Bella squirmed as I swirled my tongue, sucking on the skin until it was warm, before switching to give her other breast the same attention. The tension and sense of urgency was building, palpable in the air of the room. I dragged my tongue further down her body until I reached the barrier of her jeans. Slowly, I undid the button and pulled down the zipper. I was alert in case she should ask me to stop, as I silently prayed that she wouldn't. She didn't. She helped to push them down and off her legs, until she lay below me in just a pair of black, lace panties.

Apparently Bella liked things to be evenly matched too, and before I knew it, she'd unfastened my own jeans and pushed them down my legs with her feet. I was between her legs now as she lay back with her knees bent up either side of my hips. With only the thin fabric of our underwear separating us now, the sexual tension was bordering on unbearable; for me at least. I guessed from the way that Bella gripped my ass and pulled it down so that my cock was pressing against her, that she was feeling it too.

Without warning, I suddenly found myself firmly in her cold grasp, her fingers quickly warming on my excessively hot skin. As she held my hard length in her hand, her eyes became hooded and she licked her lips, her gaze fixed on mine. Slowly she began to move her hand, stroking up and down as I squeezed my eyes closed and gritted my teeth to stop myself cumming there and then.

"Bells, as incredible as that feels, honey," I panted. "I really think you should stop, before it's too late,"

"I want you now," she whispered in response, her hand moving from my skin and ripping my underwear from my body. I froze, wide-eyed and incredibly turned on by the gesture.

"OK," I told her. "If that's how we're playing it…" I reached down and ripped hers off too. She gasped, grabbed my now naked body and pulled me down, arching her back and lining herself up perfectly. She shifted and pulled my ass roughly towards her. Almost before I realized what was happening I was plunging inside her. The temperature difference was literally breathtaking, adding an extra dimension that I couldn't have guessed existed. It lasted only seconds though, because as we moved together, everywhere that we touched became an even temperature; she cooled me and I heated her. She was wet, and her muscles clung deliciously tightly to me as I moved in and out of her, my own strength ensuring that I was able to make sure she accommodated me.

I didn't have a lot of experience. I'd handed in my V-card on the cliffs above the beach one night with a girl from the rez as I struggled to come to terms with Bella's marriage to Edward. We'd hooked up a few times after that, but it had never come close to feeling anything like this did with Bella.

Her body was addictive and with every thrust I wanted to feel more of her. I raised myself up onto my knees, reaching my hands under her ass so we didn't lose our connection. She wrapped her legs around my waist and the angle allowed me to get even deeper inside her. With the new sensations that the depth brought, we were both quickly panting and groaning each other's names.

Bella pushed herself up off the floor in a flash of movement, and wound her arms around my neck. She was wrapped all around me now and for the first time I remembered exactly how strong she was.

"Be gentle with me, Bells," I whispered. She loosened the grip her arms and legs had on me slightly, as she panted an apology in my ear, before taking my earlobe into her mouth and sucking gently.

I could feel my climax rapidly approaching. I opened my mouth to warn her, but before I could speak, she beat me to the punch.

"Fuck, Jake!" she gasped. "I'm going to…" her words trailed off as she began to tighten around me. Any fears I may have had of her crushing me inside her faded, as I raced over the edge myself, my cock pumping ferociously to empty inside of her, my hardness an even match for her strength.

I slumped down on the floor, my back against the couch and my legs in front of me. Bella was still wrapped around me and I rested my head on her shoulder. She hummed gently, her fingers playing with my hair as my breath slowly returned to normal. As soon as I was able, I lifted my head so that I was nose to nose with her. Slowly and gently we closed the small distance between our mouths, and shared a long and tender kiss. I revelled in the fact that when we were together like this, there was no temperature difference between us. Together we made something that was normal and natural, rather than being two supernatural freaks.

"I love you, Bells," I told her. It was the first time that I'd been able to speak those words, knowing that she was mine.

"I love you too," she replied. "I only wish it could have been enough, sooner." She sighed and I kissed her again.

A sudden urgent howl in the forest nearby made my ears prick up and ended the kiss abruptly. My eyes fixed on Bella's and she returned the look, as we both jumped to our feet.

"What's up?" she asked, a worried look etched onto her perfect features.

"We'd better find out," I told her. "Welcome to the pack."

A/N This was possibly the most nerve-wracking piece I've ever written in terms of reader-reaction.

Please hit review and let me know what you thought *ducks into trench*