Chapter Twenty-Six – Ethics

Chapter Number: 26

Chapter Name: Ethics

Page Numbers:
  580 -604

Date of Chapter:  January 15

Summary:
With Jake lying badly wounded in La Push after the newborn battle, Bella is impatiently waiting for the moment she can plausibly leave the Cullens and stage her return home from her supposed sleepover/shopping date with Alice.  Alice’s attempts to distract Bella by fussing over her hair and clothes are barely enough to stop her from rushing back prematurely to La Push to sit with the unconscious Jacob. But Alice reminds Bella that it’s vital to Charlie’s safety that he doesn’t suspect anything: keeping up a flawless charade is the essence of the vampire’s life which Bella has chosen.

Recognizing Bella’s turmoil, Alice asks if she wants to talk about Jake, but Bella turns the conversation to something else that is haunting her: the memory of the frantic young newborn, Bree.  ÒWill I be like thatÓ she asks Alice, and Alice concedes it is likely, though she can’t be certain: no one before Bella has ever become a vampire of their own free will.  She tries to reassure Bella that the frenzied thirst of the newborn is only a phase and the Cullens will keep her from hurting anyone until it passes.

Bella asks why Alice’s powers can work on her, when she is impervious to those of Edward, Jane and Aro. Alice hypothesizes that it’s because their gifts all act upon the mind, whereas Alice’s and Jasper’s gifts work with physical reality. Bella then asks Alice the question that is really on her mind: does she still see Bella becoming a vampire?  Definitely, Alice replies.  But if Bella changed her mind, the visions would change.  Don’t you know what you want? she asks curiously.  But Bella does know her own mind; it’s just painful facing up to it.  Alice says sympathetically that that it must be terrible to have to choose between two alternatives she wants so badly.

When Bella she returns home, Charlie is waiting for her, and guesses from her misery that she has heard about Jake’s ÒaccidentÓ (he’s been led to believe that Jake got hurt riding his motorcycle).  He explains that he was at Billy’s when Jake was brought home; weirdly, Billy almost seemed to have had a premonition that something might happen to Jake.  To his great satisfaction, the Quileutes managed to overcome their prejudices enough call in Carlisle.  Edward was there too, and Charlie grudgingly admits to being pleasantly surprised by his solicitude for Jake.

Bella remembers how vulnerable Jake looked when last seen, and flinches at the thought of the further suffering she is now going to inflict on him.  Better, she thinks, to be painfully split in two by lightning.  It dawns on her that her human life has at last given her something it will genuinely be a bitter sacrifice to give up.  As if this weren’t enough,  Charlie has a request for her.  He has a hunch that he’s going to lose her soon, and he asks her to please just let him know before she disappears, so he can hug her goodbye.

Bella arrives at La Push to find the Cullens gone and Jake awake.  For a moment, she ridiculously wishes that Edward were there to help her through the coming heartbreak of her conversation with Jake.  It is a confirmation, if she needed any, that she’s making the right choice: Edward is indispensable to her.  It doesn’t make losing Jake any less painful.

When Bella enters Jake’s room, he’s waiting for her, carefully composed.  A moment’s glance tells him how Bella has chosen, and at his first sardonic words Bella thinks she wishes she were dead.  But his expression softens when he sees her pain and he asks worriedly about Edward’s reaction to their kiss.  When she tells Jake how forgiving Edward has been, his initial chagrin gives way to grudging admiration for Edward’s cunning.  Bella realizes to her dismay that Jake still thinks the contest isn’t over.  She strikes back, insisting that Edward’s concern for her is genuine and reminding Jake that he was the one to manipulate her, when he tricked her into kissing him.

Jake is unrepentant: it was worth it to get Bella to realize that she loves him.  Bella asks Jake if it isn’t actually worse this way, given that it makes no difference to her choice.  But on reflection, he says it’s better knowing that he tried everything he could to stop her.  When Bella comes to kneel by his bed, he gently refuses her apologies, saying that he always knew it was a long shot.  Bella is as stricken by his generosity as she was by Edward’s and begs him to give her the dressing-down she deserves.  He does, and then when she breaks down in the face of his mock anger, pulls her close to comfort her.  He vows to stop fighting for her love and just be a friend to her, because he can see that the conflict is pulling her apart.  Like the mother in the Judgement of Solomon, he will prove his love is the greater by being the one to let her go.  Bella doesn’t have the heart to tell him that Edward has already said the same thing.

The hardest part, Jake tells her, is knowing how effortlessly happy they would have been together, if the world of monsters and magic hadn’t intervened in her life and diverted it from its natural course.  And Bella reflects that he is right.  In the real world he is her perfect mate, and she could ask for nothing more.  But their normal human love has been overshadowed by the supernatural intensity of her relationship with Edward: a passion so impossibly strong that it could never happen in ordinary life at all.  She ponders whether she could have been so certain of her choice if she hadn’t lived through the agony of losing Edward, or whether instead she would have wavered in the face of Jake’s pain.  But the knowledge is now etched deep.

Jake acknowledges that it’s too late now for Bella to be able to let go of Edward and be happy: Edward is like an addiction that she cannot live without.  But he insists that if only the past could be undone, he would have been healthier for her, like the natural things of the earth: the sun and air.  And Bella admits that this is the worst part for her as well.  She can picture in excruciating detail how good their life together would have been, and she wants it as just as badly as he does.  But she can’t have it, and never could have, once she fell in love with Edward.  Her love for Edward is as deep and irrevocable as Sam’s love for Emily.  She has never really had another choice.

Taking a deep breath, Jake then asks her about her plans to get married.  Struggling to match his matter-of-fact tone, she admits that yes, she is marrying Edward: it is something that means a lot to him, so why not?  Jake carefully agrees: it’s not such a big thing — in comparison.  And he asks her how much longer she has left.  She tells him it depends how quickly Alice can organize the wedding: she is putting off her transformation until afterwards.  He asks her if she is scared and she says yes: afraid of the pain, afraid of what her suffering will do to Edward, afraid of saying goodbye to Charlie and Renee, afraid of becoming a bloodthirsty newborn.  When she jokingly suggests the pack may have to eliminate her, Jake growls that he’ll hamstring anyone who tries.

Jake reminds Bella that he will always be waiting in the wings if she wants him.  She amends: as long as she’s human.   Maybe even afterwards, he insists.  Bella wonders aloud when Jake will meet the right girl and imprint on her, but he sourly tells her not to get her hopes up; she realizes that she will probably be jealous when it happens.  ÒLove you,Ó she tells him as she kisses him goodbye.  ÒLove you more,Ó he replies.

Characters Involved:
Bella Swan, Alice Cullen, Charlie Swan, Billy Black, Jacob Black

Characters Mentioned:

Carlisle Cullen, Edward Cullen, Bree, Jane, Aro, Jasper Cullen, Demetri, Sue Clearwater, Emily, Old Quil Ateara, Sam Uley

Places Visited:
The Cullen home, the Swan home, the Black home


Memorable Quotes
:

"Part of being a Cullen is being meticulously responsible."  ~ Alice to Bella

"Just give me some advance notice.  Give me a chance to hug you goodbye."  ~ Charlie to Bella

"I was the natural path your life would have taken…If the world was the way it was supposed to be, if there were no monsters and no magic."  ~ Jake to Bella

He was my soul mate in that world — would have been my soul mate still if his claim had not been overshadowed by something stronger, something so strong that it could not exist in a rational world.  ~ Bella about Jake.

"He’s like a drug for you Bella…I see that you can’t live without him now.  It’s too late.  But I would have been healthier for you.  Not a drug; I would have been the air, the sun."  ~ Jake about Edward.

"The clouds I can handle.  But I can’t fight with an eclipse."  ~ Jake to Bella

"Love you Jacob."
 "Love you more." ~ Jacob and Bella

Important Information learned:

Bella is beginning to focus on exactly what it will be like to be a bloodthirsty newborn vampire, and it is a harrowing prospect.

The most likely reason that neither Aro nor Jane nor Edward can exercise their powers on Bella is that her mind is closed to them.  Jasper’s and Alice’s gifts work on her because they don’t act upon the mind.

Bella has realized that there are things about being human that are unspeakably precious to her — things it will all but tear her in two to have to leave behind.

But the pain of having to say goodbye to Jake doesn’t make Bella waver in her choice.  She knows she needs Edward more.

Jake is convinced that the life Bella could have had with him would have been better for her than life with Edward.  But he recognizes that it’s too late for her now: she can’t live without Edward.

Bella agrees that if she’d never met Edward she and Jake would have been perfect for one another. 

Bella is frightened of being changed into a vampire: of leaving behind her human life, of the transformation itself and of being a bloodthirsty newborn. 

Jake will always be there waiting for Bella if she ever wants him back — even when she’s no longer human. 

Chapter Prepared By:  December

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