[identity profile] otempora01.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] ship_manifesto
Title: Choose Life: The Jacob Black and Isabella Swan Ship Manifesto
Author: [livejournal.com profile] otempora01
Fandom: Twilight
Pairing: Jacob Black/Isabella Swan
Spoilers: Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse, so watch for that.

THE INTRO || How I Got Here
Twilight was first given to me by a friend of a friend when the three of us were at her house and she caught me perusing her bookshelf. I didn’t have much of an opinion on vampire books. I didn’t go out of my way to read them, but I didn’t go out of my way not to either. Really, I only liked the cover. I asked her if I could borrow it and she agreed and I spent the entire car ride home reading that book.

I’m a fairly fast reader, so I finished Twilight within the day and I was left wanting more. My friend of a friend had also had the sequel, New Moon on her shelf and I was dying for it. Like everyone else, I was immediately drawn into the smoldering, forbidden love between Edward and Bella, how he had to struggle to be with her and how she wanted nothing more than to be with him.

A couple of weeks later, I had my hands on my friend of a friend’s copy of New Moon and I hated it. Edward left Bella! My perfect couple was torn apart and Bella spent so much of the book hurting that I hurt myself. Worse yet, she spent it with Jacob Black, who I hadn’t given much thought to in Twilight, to the point where she nearly kissed him. I was horrified. I was inconsolable until Edward came back. New Moon could never compare to Twilight in terms of Edward/Bella perfection.

Then I got into fandom and, since I, like Jacob, love a lost cause, the instant I found out that most of fandom was against Jacob/Bella, I shipped it. I like to be contrary and I could see it happening just as well as I could see Edward/Bella, now that I was over my initial rage. My heart belonged entirely to Edward/Bella, however. Jacob/Bella was a minor ship, right up there with Edward/Jacob on the Ships of Mine That Aren’t Likely to Happen. And, eventually, my interest in Twilight began to wane in favor of other things.

Then I met [livejournal.com profile] anythingbutgrey. If you know her, then you know how hard it is not to pay attention to something when she posts about it twelve times a day. She has a way of obsessing over a pairing until you can’t help but obsess over it, too. If you mind, that’s your problem, but I was overjoyed. My friends’ list filled with an onslaught of Jacob/Bella love and since, during the small amount of time my other friends were into Twilight, all I’d ever gotten to talk about was Edward and Bella and how perfect they were for one another, getting to talk about one of my controversial pairings was a huge relief.

The more I spoke with her about the merits of Jacob/Bella, the more I began to believe it. We discussed everything, from how perfect Jacob and Bella could be together to the darker aspects of Edward/Bella. Since I’d already known that Edward and Bella were not the dream relationship I had initially thought them to be, it wasn’t so much that my love for them went down as it was my love for Jacob/Bella went up.

And now, with the release of Eclipse, my heart and soul are aching and there is nothing I want more than for the world to understand why this ship is so beautiful. Hence, this manifesto. I’ll try hard to be objective.

THE GIRL || Isabella Swan
Isabella Swan, seventeen at the beginning of Twilight, eighteen at the beginning of New Moon and with her nineteenth birthday coming up by the end of Eclipse, is the daughter of Renee Dwyer and Charlie Swan. Renee and Charlie married right out of high school, but are divorced by the beginning of Twilight. Charlie is a police chief in the rainy town of Forks, WA, where Bella is condemning herself so that her romantic of a mother can follow her baseball player husband, Phil Dwyer, around. Bella is “ivory-skinned”, “slender”, “soft”, and “obviously not an athlete.”

Bella and her mother both share a distaste for the rainy town of Forks, but Bella establishes herself right away as the kind of self-sacrificing girl who would do anything to make others happy, regardless of her own happiness. Bella moves in with her father, despite the fact that “it was sure to be awkward with Charlie. Neither of us was what anyone would call verbose.” She also mentions that she doesn’t “relate well to people, period.” The very next day, she attends Forks High School and it is there that she catches her first sight of Edward Cullen, who more or less dominates her thoughts for the next three books.

Bella is awkward, shy, painfully teenage, but also extremely mature with an unusually large vocabulary. She is extremely clumsy, which is the character trait that stands out the most about her. She injures herself and others playing volleyball. She trips at least once a day. She is a danger magnet. Her opinion of her looks is low, as is her self-esteem, and she can’t seem to understand why nearly every boy in school is tripping over themselves to be around her. As if to compensate for her own perceived plainness, Bella frequently muses about how perfectly gorgeous Edward is in a perfectly gorgeous sort of way. She cannot seem to grasp why this beautiful creature would even look twice at someone like her, clumsy, awkward, and, once she finds out what Edward is, human. She’s a Virgo, her birthday is in September and, curiously enough, the sight and smell of blood makes her faint.

After Edward enters her life, he becomes her life and she his. If Bella is confused as to why Edward is interested in her, Edward is equally perplexed as to why Bella would want to date a monster like him. He drains animals of their blood to keep from draining people of their blood. What attracts her to him? Besides which, he is constantly struggling with himself not to give in to the overwhelming urge to drain this particular person of her blood, because Bella’s scent is, to him, like fine wine to an alcoholic. It is because of this that, after Bella cuts herself at her birthday party and is nearly ripped to shreds by his brother Jasper, Edward decides it’s time for the Cullens to pack up and leave. He hopes his absence will help Bella get over him.

He severely underestimated the depth of Bella’s love (at best) and obsession (at worst), although his absence did give her a chance to get to know Jacob Black better. Bella has an apparent knack for attracting supernatural monsters and has a “private mind” that keeps Edward from being able to see her thoughts and Jane of the Volturi, vampire royalty, from inflicting mental torture on her.

Bella describes how Jacob looks the very first time they meet. Initially, “he looked fourteen, maybe fifteen”, had “long, glossy black hair pulled back with a rubber band at the nape” with “beautiful, russet-colored” skin and “dark” eyes. She finds him “pretty.” Jacob has two older sisters a “little over a year” older than Bella: Rachel, who is in Washington State on scholarship, and Rebecca, who lives in Hawaii with a Samoan surfer she married. Jacob builds cars, is a Quileute Native American, has an infectious grin, owns a motorcycle, and has a crush on Bella which expands into love in New Moon

In New Moon we learn more about Jacob than the casual reader could ever imagine. He gets ill after going to the movies with Bella (and Mike Newton) and discovers that, in response to the presence of vampires in Forks, he and many of the males in his tribe are turning into werewolves. Jacob in particular is a rusty brown werewolf whose fur is directly related to the length of his hair prior to changing. His temperature skyrockets to the point that prolonged exposure to it makes Bella sweat, he doesn’t take his clothes with him when he turns and, therefore, carries pants attached to his leg for when he changes back into a man, and he hates the scent of the “leeches” or vampires. He’s a two years younger than Bella, sixteen in Twilight, seventeen in New Moon, and eighteen in Eclipse, although, physically, he looks twenty-five.

After Edward leaves her in New Moon, Bella brings a wrecked motorcycle to Jacob to fix and remembers “how much [she] really liked Jacob Black.” Jacob is a sunny sort of guy with an easy smile and laugh that Bella finds contagious. It’s hard not to smile in his presence and he has a great sense of humor. Jacob is every well-intentioned teenage boy you’ve ever known. He falls for Bella, hard, and in his quest to A) keep her safe and B) get her to love him, he frequently annoys her and is annoyed by her.

However, he is equally unable to stay away. After he changes into a werewolf for the first time and is advised to stay away from Bella on the grounds that fledgling werewolves have a volatile temper that could be dangerous to others, he only manages it for a short while before he is sneaking into Bella’s bedroom and giving her hints to help her figure out the secret he’s unable to actually tell her. When Bella runs after Edward and brings him back to Forks, asserting herself as firmly Team Vampire in his eyes, the very prospect of her death (and subsequent resurrection as one of the undead “leeches”) is enough to convince him not to throw in the towel until Bella realizes that she’s in love with him, too.

Jacob is as stubborn as he is loyal, as rash as he is dedicated, as kind as he is judgmental. His only goal in life is to keep Bella alive, whether she is willing or not. And if she wants to fall in love with him along the way, well, who is he to protest?

The legacy of Jacob and Bella really begins in New Moon. Although Jacob appeared in Twilight, he and Bella did not really begin to come together as friends with a potential for more until the second book. Bella, broken and numb after Edward and the Cullens skip town, smiles for the first time in months with Jacob Black. He fills the hole that Edward has ripped in her chest, teaching her to laugh and smile again when she thought she never would again. He is her sun, in her own words, shining over the darkness that has become her life. He helps her to live her life again, instead of just wandering distantly from place to place, detached from everyone and everything she used to love. They go motorcycling together, cliff diving together, and, when it becomes obvious to Bella that Jacob’s feelings for her extend beyond friendship, they almost kiss. A well-placed phone call was the only thing stopping Bella from attempting to move on from Edward with Jacob. A well-placed phone call forced Jacob to save the kissing for Eclipse and, by then, he’d lost her completely.

But let’s take their relationship in stride. First, we’ll examine why they work. It’s more than just because Jacob distracts Bella from the pain she feels from being without Edward. He’s more than just “the distraction” or “the placeholder”, keeping her sane until Edward returns. He’s all of that and more.

Jacob knows Bella inside and out. In the time they spent together in Edward’s absence, he got to know her. If asked, Jacob could probably very easily rattle off Bella’s favorite food, color, movies, and childhood toy. I don’t doubt that Bella could do the same for him. There’s a difference between talking and talking and Bella proves that in how she converses with Jacob as opposed to Edward. Her conversations with Edward largely consist of “I love you” – “I love you, too”, “Insert flowery speech here” – “Insert blush here”. Though cute, if you go for that sort of thing, it’s insubstantial. For two people who don’t really know one another, Edward and Bella are dreadfully eager to spend the rest of their lives together (or non-lives as the case may be). Meanwhile, Jacob liked Bella before he knew her in the puppy love crush that a younger teen might get on an older one, but he didn’t fall in love with her until he got to know her. Add in the fact that she was a facsimile of her former self when he was getting to know her and his love seems even deeper.

It’s often a source of chagrin for Edward that he can’t read Bella’s mind, but Jacob, who has never been in the possession of that power, knows her mind better than he knows his own. He’s never needed to ask, “What are you thinking?” because he knows. He knows Bella. The two of them have a partnership. Although Jacob is younger, he certainly looks older and although Bella is older, she acts younger. The two of them balance one another out. Unlike Edward, Jacob never treats Bella like an incompetent child. He doesn’t protect her from things that would hurt her to know, but hurt her more to find out had been kept for her. He doesn’t back down from what is, quite possibly, the most important fight he’ll ever partake in just because Bella thinks she can’t wait it out alone. He knows when to give in to her requests (Bella, feeling guilty about the events of Eclipse, asks him to yell at her for her “wretched human stupidity” and Jacob easily agrees until she starts crying—then he comforts her) and when not to pamper her (he gets her grounded by telling Charlie about her stints with a motorcycle to keep her safe from Edward—though he later apologizes because he knew that he was wrong to do so).

On the other hand, we have Bella. The fact that she chose another man over Jacob aside, her feelings for Jacob are, as of Eclipse, definitively ones of love. At first, Bella felt nothing more than friendship for Jacob and then, when she realized he wanted to be more than that, she entertained the thought of getting over Jacob with Edward. It may sound shallow, but it wouldn’t be the first time she’d use Jacob that way, as she flirted with him to get information in Twilight that eventually helped her figure out that Edward was a vampire. As Jacob later says, if the phone hadn’t rang just then, Bella might have actually been okay. She loved Jacob, though it wasn’t, in her mind, as powerful as her love for Edward, and she would have been happy with him.

Bella catches a glimpse, while she’s holding Jacob, of their life together and how it could be with children and her family and human friends and, for an instant, she wants that. Jacob is the naturally path her life would have taken, he says, if she’d never met the Cullens. Jacob is everything Edward is, minus the centuries of maturity and the body temperature of -100. He protects her, he makes her feel like a child without treating her like one, and he’d do anything for her. In return, Bella loves him, shares his pain (“his pain, my pain”), and skips out on her high-security protection from the Cullens to see him against Edward’s wishes. Edward had to dismantle her engine to keep her from driving down to La Push and even though this would raise a warning flag in any normal girl’s mind, a few flowery words and Bella’s anger dissipates. This point has been discussed many times, but her eventual decision to stick with Edward wasn’t because, as she says in Eclipse, she didn’t have a choice. It was because she doesn’t want a choice.

There is something to be understood about the basis of Bella’s personality and that is this: she never had a childhood. Her mother was a flighty, childlike woman and Bella spent most of her childhood taking care of her with occasional periods of it being the other way around. She made the decisions and, though those decisions were usually ones that benefited her mother first and herself second, that still forced Bella to mature at a very early. Then along came Edward Cullen, who had centuries of maturity and the desire to care for her, in addition to being perfect physically, mentally, and emotionally. What girl would say no to that? But, beyond that, Edward is an easy choice. He’s not even a choice. Edward makes her decisions for her. “We can’t have sex because I might accidentally kill you”, “I won’t make you a vampire because it’s not something I would have chosen for myself”, “You can’t go down to La Push and visit the werewolves”, “I’m leaving town and while I’m gone I want you to get over me.”

Whether he means to be or not, Edward is controlling, playing a “Daddy knows best” role in Bella’s life, if you’ll excuse the incestuous undertones that statement implies. In his presence, Bella turns into a simpering five-year-old incapable of doing anything but try not to pass out from his kisses and admire his beauty five times per page. Without him, Bella shuts down and becomes a robotic, suicidal shell of her former self who can’t hear anything relating to him without feeling her chest ache and who dives off cliffs to hear his “voice” in her mind. Her love for him boarders on obsession and has crossed the line into unhealthy. Bella is often referred to as the “anti-feminist” and for good reason. She’s the quintessential damsel-in-distress who either sits around and waits for Edward to rescue her, waxes poetically on how she doesn’t deserve someone so perfect, or defers to his judgment on everything except A) hanging out with Jacob, B) marrying him (as opposed to becoming a vampire and being with him for eternity, which she is extremely willing to do) and C) going to college (because Edward > college, in her opinion). And on the first two, she eventually relents.

Jacob is her sun; Charlie, her father who has disapproved of Edward ever since he brought her home half-dead, would be the first to cheer if Bella chose him. Edward is her life (or, as Jacob states, her drug); without him, Bella cannot function, and no one loves them together more than Bella herself or, perhaps, Edward. Edward is a gentleman, the perfect guy who every girl envisions coming in to swoop them off their feet. He speaks old-fashionably and believes in traditional ideals, like that premarital sex is wrong. His flower phrases alternate between heartwarmingly sweet and sickeningly disgusting, depending on your level of cynicism and whether or not you love romance novels. He’s strong, brooding, and protective, what every girl wants and what only one girl gets. Jacob is a teenager, he acts and reacts like a teenager, and he is a werewolf on top of them. Meyer’s werewolves transform not during the full moon, but when they get angry and with their body heat roughly equal to that of a boiler and their mood swings worse than a pregnant woman’s, it takes a certain amount of control to keep from going wolf every second of the day.

Unlike Edward, Jacob hasn’t had the time to cultivate that control. He doesn’t think before he speaks and has a tendency to blurt out things he later regrets and goes to any lengths to gain forgiveness for. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do for Bella, but he knows her well enough to know when to agree and when to disagree, knowing it won’t make her love him any less. To be with Edward, Bella has to give up everything: her soul, her humanity, her family, her friends. To be with Jacob, Bella need only ask. There is nothing about her that needs to change. To be fair, Edward loves her as is, too, but Bella doesn’t. She is eager—too eager—to become a vampire to feel worth of him.

Even Edward occasionally wishes that Bella didn’t hold him in such high regard, even though he’s hopelessly in love with her and that’s unlikely to change. Edward, being the great martyr second only to Jesus Christ and Bella herself, holds Bella while she cries over the other boy she loves and has recently been locking lips with without a single comment, hoping (knowing) she’ll choose him in the end. Jacob declares a free-for-all against Edward, one last phase of war before he loses Bella to matrimony and vampirism forever. He both wins and loses—Bella finally realizes she’s in love with him, but even that isn’t enough to keep her from staying with Edward. Edward, being ever the gentleman, even goes so far as to invite Jacob to the wedding with the explanation that if he was in Jacob’s shoes, he would at least want the choice to go. Eclipse ends with Jacob turning into a wolf and running as fast as his four legs can carry him, trying to leave himself and his pain behind.

Even though it’s been confirmed that Bella Cullen, the newborn vampire, is more or less a done deal, Jacob and Bella still stand out as one of the deepest, most beautiful potential couples I’ve ever shipped. They have a friendship, a partnership, and a relationship that could have happened if Edward Cullen hadn’t stumbled into Bella’s life or had stayed gone when he decided to leave it. The ease with which it could have been, and how Bella even saw that, stings Jacob and all the people who believe in this pairing. Jacob still has one last shot at love—werewolves in his tribe can imprint, which means that, once they turn and see the person they are meant for, regardless of whether or not they’ve seen this person a million times before their first change, they are pretty much ruined for anyone else—but that is not only a cop-out, it’s an insult. Jacob tried desperately to imprint on Bella and, when he didn’t, insisted that he didn’t see anyone but her. If Jacob and Bella is destined to become a doomed ship, it is my sincerest hope that Stephenie Meyer doesn’t insult us by having him imprint upon a girl that Jacob hasn’t spent so much time protecting, loving, knowing, and worshipping. Isabella Swan may be one girl with two soul mates, but Jacob Black is just a boy who’s found his true love at a young age and had to watch her waltz into the arms of someone who, essentially, wants to kill her. I think he’s suffered enough.

THE FANDOM || Recommended J/B Fanworks
Collide - [livejournal.com profile] idealfacade – PG-13/R – Drama/Romance
summary: She's involving herself in some illicit affair that should have never happened in the first place.

Sanctuary - [livejournal.com profile] perfectillusion – PG-13 – Romance
summary: Bella Swan normally does not leave handwritten notes behind everywhere she goes.

Apologies - [livejournal.com profile] kkkkaylamariex3 - PG-13 – Romance/Angst
summary: None given.

You Still Crumble At My Name - [livejournal.com profile] anythingbutgrey - PG-13 – Angst/Romance
summary: It's last September again, she is lost in the woods, and she may be right in front of Sam Uley, but he will not find her this time.

I Have You Breathing Down My Neck - [livejournal.com profile] anythingbutgrey - PG-13 – Angst/Romance
summary: Companion fic to the above. He has been running for so long he doesn’t even know how to stop and breathing is a word he no longer understands. It makes him think of her, giving him life, and a future her, no longer needing air.

Give Me Something To Come Home To - [livejournal.com profile] otempora01 - G – Romance
summary: Self-pimp. Just when Jacob’s given up on her coming back, she does.

Five Times That Bella Swan Kissed The Wrong Guy - [livejournal.com profile] nekare - PG – Romance
summary: It’s you that kisses Jacob this time, and when he says about fucking time against your lips you laugh and press harder against him. Being with him feels as natural as being his friend once felt. He’s your family, and that’s everything.

Settling - [livejournal.com profile] poppysleep - NC-17 – Romance/Drama
summary: Bella has been ditched big time. Instead of going completely nuts, she marries Jacob. Now she's just kind of crazy.

Tuesday Morning - [livejournal.com profile] xphoenixrising - PG – Romance
summary: None given.

THE SUPPORT || J/B Communities
[livejournal.com profile] sortofbeautiful; A cornucopia of fanfiction, icons, fanmixes, essays, and discussions about our favorite couple can be found at this, the official Jacob/Bella community. It’s the first and arguably the best, so join today!

[livejournal.com profile] wildlove_jblack; A Jacob Black fan community because that boy doesn’t get enough love, especially after Eclipse since he’s being accused of rape and tainting Edward and Bella’s love.

[livejournal.com profile] doomedshipclub; Lick your wounds here. For every ship that should have happened in canon and didn’t. And it hurts, goddammit.

[livejournal.com profile] la_bellaragazza; Not exactly J/B centered, but it’s the largest Twilight fan community on LJ and a great place to go if you want to break into the fandom.

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