Sam - her Sam - didn’t even come inside. He stood rigid just outside the door she held open and wouldn’t meet her eyes.
“I can’t do this anymore,” he said again roughly. “I’m sorry.”
Her mouth worked wordlessly. She’d only just gotten him back. For two weeks, he’d been gone - missing - and then he just re-appeared out of the trees a week ago; shaken, but healthy and alive. He was jumpy and serious and she tried to help him, to get him to tell her what was wrong, but he wouldn’t say a thing.
Three years they’d been together. Two months ago they were talking about marriage - just talking, no official plans, but they’d been serious then. They were on the same page.
But now it was like her Sam had been ripped out of the book.
Just hours ago, she had told him to meet her and her cousin Emily at a friend’s house, and he took one look at them when he arrived, turned, then abruptly left without a word. She thought he might show up later at her house to explain, to apologize… but not this.
Anything but this.
“Sam,” she pleaded in disbelief. “Hang on. Can’t do what? What do you-”
“I don’t love you anymore.” He looked into her eyes then, and they were achingly sincere.
It was like the air had been sucked out of her lungs. She couldn’t speak, much less understand. This couldn’t be right. Where was Sam - her Sam?
“I’m sorry,” he whispered. “I’m sorry, Leah.”
She shook her head. This wasn’t right. She’d just got him back.
He didn’t wait for her to argue. That was all he came to say, so he turned and walked back into the night, out of sight.
Seth found her standing at the open door minutes later, her eyes unfocused with a look of confusion still on her face.
“What’s with you?” he asked, craning to try and see what she was staring at.
She jumped and closed the door, the sound ringing through the house. Then she turned and pushed Seth out of the way, ignoring his overdone cry of pain, and ran to the phone.
She needed to call Emily.
Her dad was not on her side.
She thought he’d be furious on her behalf, but he only sighed with a sadness and reluctance that she didn’t recognize.
When she worried that something had gone deeply wrong wherever Sam had been for those two weeks, Harry Clearwater only replied that he thought Sam was going through a difficult time, and that his character hadn’t changed. Just his priorities.
“His priorities?! Like telling Emily that he’s in love with her?” she’d spat sarcastically.
The day after Sam effectively ended their relationship, Emily - her cousin, her best friend - had told Leah he’d come to see her and professed his love for her.
“ I- I didn’t know what to do, so I told him to leave, but… Leah, he was different. What happened to him? ”
She didn’t have an answer. He wouldn’t say. No one would say.
She suspected her dad knew more than he let on, but he was a steel trap whenever she broached the subject.
Days went by, and she saw neither Emily nor Sam. Emily was oddly dismissive on the phone, always ‘busy’ and never available to talk in person, and sounded like she was only half listening.
“I even went to Billy to see if he could talk some sense into him, but he acted just like my dad, like this was just how he was gonna be from now on,” Leah fretted, the phone held tightly in her hand. “Why is everyone okay with this?”
Leah’s face fell. “Em,” she swallowed. “I just - I’m afraid that if I go to the elders, to Old Quil, he’d tell me the same thing. Why can’t anyone see that there’s something wrong ?”
“ Um… I don’t… he - maybe he’s just changed now.”
She didn’t bother arguing. Her voice stuck in her throat anyway.
There had been rumors. None said to her face, but she heard them. Sam had been seeing Emily - regularly.
She’d convinced herself that it was just him trying to find himself or some bullshit, and Emily would have been the sane one and turn him away. She wouldn’t have accepted him like that. She wouldn’t.
It wasn’t the pounding on the door that scared her.
It was the fact that Paul Lahote - dick extraordinaire - looked like he was going to be sick. He was wearing a pair of jeans and nothing else and was panting like he’d just run a mile.
“Paul? What the hell-”
“Sue?!” he called into the house, ignoring her save for a brief look of guilt when he glanced at her alarmed face. He pushed past Leah and looked around frantically until her mother hurried into the room, and he ran to her. “Sue - thank God - we need you to - it’s an emergency, please- ”
“Okay, okay,” her mother tried to calm him down and went to the cupboard where they kept the first aid kit - Leah couldn’t prove it, but she swore her own mother was avoiding her probing gaze as she quickly gathered supplies, and then was out the door hot on Paul’s heels.
It was Emily.
She’d been slashed in the face. By a ‘bear’.
Claw marks now pulled her once beautiful face downward in a half frown. Emily had told the doctors she was “up north” at the salmon spawning, but Leah knew there was no way that was true. Not if her mother - in La Push - had been able to reach her as a nearby emergency medical professional.
Leah had gone to see her at the hospital right away, but she had been ‘asleep’. They’d had enough sleepovers through their childhood that she knew when Emily was faking. Maybe the drugs they had her on helped with the facade, but she knew.
Emily was avoiding her.
When she arrived home, she saw her mother, exhausted, sitting at the kitchen table with her head in her hands. There was still blood on her shirt. The two women locked eyes, but not a word was said.
Leah’s jaw tensed, and she walked away.
The tears didn’t help.
Leah’s heart had been steadily hardening the more that things were blatantly kept from her and taken from her, and so when Emily came to her and struggled through tears to say that she and Sam were together, that she loved him, Leah’s face was an emotionless mask.
She nodded, only half listening to Emily’s stuttered explanation that she wished it hadn’t happened this way, that there was something bigger that brought them together. The last straw was when Emily had reached for her hand.
“I swear we didn’t mean for this to happen-”
“Don’t touch me.”
Emily blanched, the bandage on her face not able to hide the pain behind it.
“He had a scholarship, you know?” Leah said, eyes narrowing. “He was going to get out of here and go to business school and make sure his mom never had another care in the world. But now he’s staying,” she said, voice dripping with indignation. “And you’re all letting him.”
Emily’s eyes filled again. “Leah-”
“Get out of my house.”
They may have been family, but they were no longer friends.
Once Emily was gone, she was able to breathe normally again.
She turned in on herself.
She didn’t need anyone. They would only let her down.
Except for Seth. Annoying as he was, she knew that she and her brother had each other’s backs. Seth was too good to hate anyone, and she loved that about him. At least there would be one person in their family who could be a bright spot in a world of gloom.
Everyone gave her a wide berth anyway, so it was Seth that kept her updated. Jared was apparently Sam’s new best friend, and the two of them with Paul were now like ‘hall monitors gone bad’. As Seth told it, they’d run a meth dealer off the land - three teenagers against a scary looking, fully grown, armed man. They’d all somehow bulked up like Sam had and ran around the reservation half naked like they owned the place, but they never even got so much as a cold. What was more, in what seemed like a sort of initiation into the group, they all cut their hair so it was cropped short.
Then the tribe council invited them to meetings, and listened to them.
It was insane.
She found herself watching them one day from a shop window. They were literally walking in a V formation with Sam taking point as they approached a construction foreman from Forks that was updating the school gym. They went back and forth for a few minutes before the foreman held out his hand and shook Sam’s hand.
“When do you think we’ll have to pay the pizzo?”
She turned. Embry Call was standing beside her with a similar scowl, his bony arms crossed against his chest.
“Pay the what?” she frowned.
“The pizzo,” he said, eyes still on the trio making a deal with the foreman. “Like the mafia. Protection money.”
She barked a laugh. “Is that what this is?”
He shrugged a shoulder. “Bet you half the pizzo I’m right.”
Shaking her head, she let out a sigh. “Funny thing is, they’re apparently calling themselves ‘protectors’ now.”
Embry’s nose scrunched in disgust. “You drink one protein shake...”
She snorted and looked up at him, briefly wondering when in the world the sixteen-year-old had shot up so much in height. “Stay away from them, alright? Don’t let them get to you.”
Embry laughed darkly. “Don’t have to tell me twice.”
But by the end of the week, he was running around right alongside them.
It wasn’t long before more of them joined.
Seth had stormed into the house and could barely get the words out that Jacob Black - his idol - had joined ‘the gang’.
“He won’t even talk to his not-girlfriend-girlfriend. I saw her, she was pissed. And he’s got no hair!”
“What, is he bald?” Leah drawled, not looking up from the bowl she was washing at the sink.
“No, but,” Seth struggled, groaning angrily, “It’s not fair!”
She didn’t bother telling him life wasn’t fair. In any case, he caught himself right after he said it - when he realized who he was talking to - and sighed.
“I mean… I figured he’d at least stick to his guns. Now what do we do?”
Glancing up at him, her hard gaze softened. “Nothing, alright? You do nothing to them or at them or near them.” She looked past him, making sure they were alone in the house, then lowered her voice. “And don’t bring it up with Dad. I heard Mom saying something about his heart medication, and-”
“Heart medication?” Seth frowned. “Since when is he taking-”
“I don’t know,” Leah snapped. “But Mom was worried, so we shouldn’t... upset him.”
Seth’s eyes were wide. He nodded. “Yeah. Okay.”
And now she’d just scared the living daylights out of him.
She shook her hands of dishwater and quickly dried them on a towel. “C’mere,” she sighed, and Seth, little bright spot Seth, clung to her in a hug. “We’ll stick together, yeah?” she said, finally letting the fear pull at her features now that it was hidden over his shoulder. She felt him nod and tighten his arms around her. He was as tall as she was now, and she tried not to let herself worry, but… had he been this tall yesterday?
Seth pulled back with a sobered expression, and it made him look much older than his fourteen years. She patted his shoulder and put on a reassuring smile. “We’ll be alright. We just need to keep things calm around here.”
“What the hell?”
She was trying to pull on her favorite pair of jeans, but it was like they’d shrunk several sizes in the wash. She couldn’t pull them up past her thighs.
“Mom!” she hollered, throwing on a stretchier pair instead and thundering down the stairs. “What did you do to these?!” she hissed, throwing the jeans on the table.
Sue Clearwater looked up with a dangerously raised brow. “Excuse me?”
“They shrunk!” Leah said, gesturing to them. “How do you shrink jeans ?!”
Sighing, Sue picked up and loosely folded the jeans before setting them aside. “I’ll thank you to lower your voice and calm down before I even begin to answer that question.”
Leah glared, but let out a slow breath and unclenched her hands at her sides. “They don’t fit,” she said calmly.
Sue’s brows lifted in surprise and she glanced at the jeans before shrugging. “I didn’t do anything different. They were washed the same way they always are.” Her brows drew together then. “Are you feeling alright? Maybe it’s - I haven’t seen you going out for runs as much-”
“I’m fine,” Leah snapped, cheeks flushing. If the pants hadn’t changed, then that could only mean she was… gaining. She hadn’t gone out for runs anymore, mainly so she could avoid Sam and his disciples. She didn’t think it would affect her this much, this quickly, this physically , but here it was staring her in the face.
Sue’s eyes glanced beyond Leah to Harry, who was watching football on the sofa and seemingly unaware of the drama unfolding behind him, then they settled back on her daughter. “I can adjust them if you want,” she offered softly. “Take out the seam a bit-”
“No, it’s - no,” Leah muttered, gathering up the pile of denim. “Nevermind.”
“I said nevermind!”
She stomped away and caught her brother’s incredulous gaze.
“Calm down,” he mouthed at her, which she answered by flipping him the bird.
She’d been avoiding it, pressing it down, ignoring it for a full week.
For one, she was late. After the jeans debacle, she thought it was just PMS kicking in - she’d get bloated, have her period and go back to normal. Instead of that, however, her nerves stayed on edge and according to her calendar, she was a week and a half late. No cramps, no bleeding, no nothing. Just a fever that scared her into doing absolutely nothing about it.
She didn’t want to panic. There was no way she was pregnant, it had been too long since - she shook the image of him from her mind. Maybe it was stress. That was known to happen, wasn’t it? Girls could get so stressed out that it affected their cycles. Right?
But she’d noticed other things. Her feet hung off the edge of her bed at night, further than they had before. More of her clothes wouldn’t fit properly anymore, but she wasn’t gaining curves in the process - it was muscle. She had whapped Seth on the arm for making a dirty joke the other night and he’d winced in genuine pain. A large bruise had formed later, and he’d tried to hide it, but she caught it before he could, and she was horrified.
At school, it was like she had no filter. She snapped at everyone - teachers, classmates, it didn’t matter - and she nearly took a swing at Quil Ateara. He’d joined the little pack of Sam’s as well, cropped hair and all. She was just leaving the principal’s office after apologizing for her comments about her English teacher’s sex life (she really didn’t know where it had come from, she’d just lashed out when the opportunity presented itself) and Quil had stopped her in the hall.
“Hey, Leah,” Quil said, following her when she’d sidestepped him. “Say, uh… how’s Seth doing lately?”
That stopped her in her tracks. She pinned him with a glare and felt a hum of rage run through her body.
“Stay away from my brother.”
Quil’s eyes widened just a fraction, and he took a step back. “Right. Sure. I was just-”
“You’ll just stay. Away. From my brother ,” she growled.
Quil’s mouth snapped shut and he nodded. He eyed her warily, then walked away at speed, and it took her several hard, calming breaths until she could continue on her way.
Now she was at home, and she felt like she was burning up from the inside. Every little thing ticked her off, and every one of her reactions scared her. She’d kicked at the front door when her key got stuck, and had actually made a dent, and some of the wood from the door jamb had splintered. She hoped her dad wouldn’t notice - he didn’t need anything else to worry or stress about but his new low-cholesterol diet.
She kept her mouth shut all evening, practically fusing her lips together so she wouldn’t start screaming.
At dinner, Harry made a face after eating some of his potatoes and asked Seth to pass the salt. Sue clicked her tongue and swiped the salt before her husband could grab it.
“You can’t, Harry. For the last time,” she sighed.
Harry pouted. “But-”
“No,” Sue laughed. “You’re not invincible. You need to follow this diet.”
Harry grumbled and poked at his bland potatoes. “Can’t I at least have more butter?”
“No!” Leah shouted, and the table went quiet, her parents’ and Seth’s wide eyes on her. She breathed heavily through her nose and gripped her fork tightly. “Just… do what the doctor says,” she said with all of her effort to stay calm.
“Alright,” Harry said with a raised hand and a crooked smirk, making light of it. “I will, I will.”
“Promise,” Leah demanded.
“Leah,” Sue whispered, but Harry nodded soberly.
Swallowing hard, Leah nodded, then stared down at her plate. She’d eaten everything on it, but she was still hungry for twice that amount. Beneath the table, Seth nudged her foot. The look he gave her was one he’d been giving her a lot lately. It was a very clear, What the hell is wrong with you?
She set her fork down and stood, “I’m not feeling well, I’m going to lie down.”
Sue looked up at her with concern. “Okay. Is it a headache? Do you want a hot pad or anything?”
“No,” she scoffed. She was too warm already. “Just… leave me alone.”
“Hey,” Harry frowned. “Dial down the attitude, will you?”
Leah paused, and she just barely registered Seth frantically looking between them. “Oh, so now you care about me,” she hissed, and it all came bubbling to the surface. “So glad to hear once your health is in trouble you pay attention to us instead of the fucking council .”
“Wh- Leah!” Sue stared up at her, but Leah was focused on her father.
“Did you know they’re trying to recruit Seth?!”
“Check your volume, young lady,” Harry scolded at the same Seth had muttered, “What in the…”
He was picking up Leah’s fork. It was bent and twisted like some sort of mangled corkscrew. She grabbed it from him and started taking faster, heavy breaths.
“I won’t let them take him!” she shouted at her father. “I know you’re protecting them, but they won’t take Seth! ”
“Leah!” Seth reached for her, horrified, then pulled his hand back in shock after trying to grab her arm. “Shit,” he breathed.
Harry’s eyes dawned with realization, and then were wide with fear. “Leah… calm down.”
She felt like she was vibrating, she was so angry. “What aren’t you telling us?!” she continued to shout, heat spreading across her skin. “Why didn’t you - you didn’t fight for me! You’re just letting them take over!”
“Honey, no,” Sue stood, holding up her hands. “Just take a deep breath, and we can sort this out.”
“I CAN’T! ” she roared, throwing the mangled fork, and it stuck into one of the kitchen cupboard doors with a twang . Her breaths were coming short and fast, panting like she couldn’t get enough oxygen, and then she was afraid.
Something was wrong - so wrong. She held up her hands and the outline of them blurred.
“No,” Harry sighed brokenly, and she ran from the table, crying out as pain erupted all over her skin. Her bones. Every nerve. She was on fire.
She was dying, surely. It was agony. Her bones burst and sliced and the rage and fear took over. She screamed and felt a howl of pain shudder through her until-
Her ears rang, and when she looked around, she saw that the sofa she’d run into was ripped and smashed in half. Jagged breaths tore through her lungs, and she cried, but what came out of her mouth was a whine - a howl. Movement in the reflection of the living room window made her turn, and she saw it.
She was... a monster.
The face of a gray wolf looked back at her, teeth bared and hackles raised, eyes filled with pain and rage. She flexed her hands, and instead, sharp claws at the ends of massive paws dug into the carpet.
Seth stood to her left, and she crouched, warning him to stay away, but it was a low growl that rumbled through her chest. His eyes were wide and fearful, and he flattened himself against the wall.
“Seth! No!” Sue grabbed his arm and pulled him from the room, and he stumbled while he looked back, eyes on the creature that was once his sister.
Her voice was gone, replaced with a cry that shook the house.
And then the voices started.
Oh my God. Oh shit, it’s Leah.
Images of trees, emotions like shock and alarm that weren’t hers filled her mind, and she whined, backing into the corner of the living room, knocking over a lamp.
No, don’t get Sam!
Her dad’s there! He’ll know what to do.
But at that moment, she heard her dad’s name in a way that made her eyes fly open (when had she shut them so tightly?) and she instinctively ran to the sound, struggling to maneuver this larger, stranger form she was in.
“Harry!” Sue cried again, holding his hand as she crouched next to him. He laid on the floor, face pinched and left arm curled up in pain.
“... supposed to be… just the boys…” she heard him gasp, then his eyes rested on her. “Leah…”
Dad! she screamed, eliciting a high pitched whine. No! Why is this happening?!
Leah, I know this will be hard to do-
-but you need to calm down and-
Make it stop! She yelled in her mind to whoever was there. Change me back!
Sam’s voice, deep and commanding, filled her mind, and she stumbled into one of the kitchen chairs.
Harry grimaced and looked up at his wife. His eyes were sad and filled with pain, and then he calmed. His features went slack. His body limp.
“No no no no,” Sue cried, checking his pulse, stroking his face, but he was gone. She sobbed, gripping his shirt in her fist, then laying her palm flat over his heart. “No,” she whispered. A startled, garbled sound came from her throat and she placed her other hand over the first, then started doing chest compressions. “No, no, no,” she breathed with each press. But Leah could hear it - the lack of heart beat. It wasn’t going to start again.
A choking sound came from her right, and she saw Seth backing away from all of them.
Seth, she thought with despair, and stepped toward him.
Don’t get too close, Sam warned, and it was like his words were a physical lock on her feet. She stopped.
Seth pushed out the back door of the house and fell out of it with a cry of pain. Pain and fear. And... she knew what was going to happen next.
NO! She screamed in her mind, but it was too late. The disorienting sensation of bursting into a new form flooded her mind, along with more shock and alarm - and pity - that didn’t belong to her. She followed her brother out the door, her head and shoulders just barely fitting through, and found a gangly, sandy colored wolf trembling on its feet in the backyard.
Agonizing pain and grief shook her to her bones, and she could feel the other voices - the other minds now connected to hers - shudder at the onslaught.
Seth lifted his canine eyes to hers, and with a large breath, howled into the night.
The funeral was a quiet affair.
She walked through the day in a haze. Billy Black and Charlie Swan, her dad’s closest friends, helped her mother with the arrangements. She was too wracked with grief and guilt to muster more than a look of recognition when anyone addressed her.
It was as if someone was playing a sick joke on her. The stories of their tribe, the ones she had heard since she was a little girl and held with only a sort of half-belief; they were all real. The ability to change shape into a wolf, to connect your mind to your pack’s, to rip a Cold One’s head from its body with your teeth - all real.
She’d seen it in their heads. Sam, Jared, Paul, Embry and Jake - they had all killed one that had been after the Swan girl.
They reeked, a stinging sweet stench filling her nose just at the thought of them...
The Cold Ones. Vampires .
They had tried to live here, amongst people. The Cullens, a ‘family’ of immortal vampires, acting like humans.
They did this. They came to this place and infected them, brought this dormant gene to life, and it had killed her father.
Actually, she thought, looking at the closed casket before her, I did .
The very sight of her sent him into cardiac arrest. She’d just been arguing with him to fight for his life with a diet , but she had been the one to take that life away just by existing.
Just the boys , he had said. It was supposed to only happen to the boys . Sam, his pack, the council, they had been expecting Seth to phase, but none of them had imagined Leah would first. In retrospect, she saw it happening - her cycle stopping, her body changing, preparing itself to be a warrior.
And now she was toned, stronger, taller, and her senses were on high alert.
Which meant she could hear what everyone at the funeral was whispering.
“... Sue’s going to take his place on the council…”
“... poor kids, he was still young…”
“... Leah, I’m so sorry…”
She blinked and looked up. Her red rimmed eyes met Emily’s for the first time since Leah ordered her to leave her house. Beside her, she felt Seth tense.
Of course, there was more than just sympathy for the loss of Harry in her words.
Because now Leah knew about imprinting .
This was what took Sam away from her. The moment he laid eyes on Emily after he’d phased for the first time, he had known. Leah had never been his soulmate, apparently. It was Emily.
And now, every time she was phased with Sam, she would see it.
The need they had for each other.
And all she could do was watch. Sam still loved her, in a way, but it wasn’t enough. He would only ever see Emily, and she was often in his thoughts. When he’d think about her scars - the ones he’d inflicted, when he’d lost control - he would be filled with guilt.
Leah’s only response to this was to lash out with her own pain, her own anguish, to drown him out. She quickly became the least favorite patrol partner because of this, but she couldn’t find it within herself to care.
But now with Emily, it wasn’t so easy. Loathe as she was to accept it, she did understand the compulsion, the need and the rightness that imprinting had, and she couldn’t hate or blame Emily anymore. Maybe, with time, they could be something of the friends they once were, but until then, Leah could only harden her eyes and remain silent.
“Thank you,” Seth answered hoarsely for her, and Emily looked between them, sorrow in her features.
She nodded wordlessly and left the siblings to their grief, finding her way back to Sam in the back of the room.
Leah felt her eyes sting, but pushed the tears for them deep, deep down, wrapping herself once more in the haze.
Time. They would need time.
There were two things Leah learned quickly in her new role as a protector of La Push.
The first was that she was fast - faster than any of the other pack members - and she loved it. The second was that Isabella Swan was a fucking idiot .
The girl had no sense of self-preservation, constantly hanging around a family of leeches, not to mention her little cliff jumping excursion with zero supervision and walking into the woods by herself several times , only to either get lost or cornered by vamp.
Add to the fact that she was constantly in Jacob’s thoughts, constantly reeling him in only to deny him, and Miss Bella Swan became one of Leah’s least favorite people on the planet.
As a pack, they bonded, like it or not. While Leah’s pain and bitterness became theirs, Jacob’s yearning and pining and subsequent disappointment time after time also became theirs.
Could she blame Bella Swan for turning her into a shapeshifting monster? Not really. But the double dose of heartache she got whenever she was on patrol with Jake? Absolutely.
She never actually spoke to her. She’d never deign to exchange words with an idiot of Bella Swan proportions.
Oh great. The harpy’s here.
Her lips curled up over her teeth in a snarl. She wouldn’t take the thought back. It was one hundred percent true.
If there was one fucked up thing about all of this, though - besides the actual turning into a wolf that shares a pack mind part - it was that Sam was still protective of her.
And she had to follow his orders.
He had an alpha voice he used from time to time to keep everyone in line and issue commands, but he’d try to be… softer with her, and it grated.
Things between them had gotten easier, but she wasn’t sure how much that had to do with simply getting used to feeling miserable around each other. And then Sam had taken a few days off patrol. When she finally learned why, she surprised herself at how well she handled it.
“Congratulations, man!” Jared hugged Sam with big manly slaps on the back.
“I’m so surprised,” Quil drawled, grinning. “We didn’t see it coming.”
Emily rolled her eyes and tried not to look down at her new sparkling ring on her left hand, but her eyes shot down to it with a bright smile.
They were engaged. To be married.
She wasn’t even in the house yet. She tried to spend as little time here as possible, which meant showing up late to Sam’s pack meetings and leaving early, so she heard - and saw - the news as she stood in the doorway, the handle to the screen door still in her hand.
They hadn’t seen her yet. Her eyes brushed over the simple gold band with a small stone that caught the light, Emily’s smile that lit up the side of her face that could lift, and Sam’s soft eyes on his fiancee, proud and excited and so in love .
A slow breath left her as something within her finally gave in and broke. Like threads of tape had been holding together her attachment to Sam and her loathing of Emily, but they finally gave way and… broke. It was broken. Final.
Sam pulled Emily close to him and kissed her temple, and Leah looked away.
Then she squared her shoulders and stepped fully into the house. The chattering slowly died as she stepped up to them - her brothers, her pack, her alpha and his imprint - and she knew they were waiting for an explosion. Emily’s smile dimmed, and Sam looked like he was bracing for impact.
She pressed her lips into what she hoped was a passable smile and looked up at them.
There was no spite in her voice. It was soft, and a little sad, but sincere.
Emily visibly relaxed, and her hand around Sam’s tightened. “Thank you,” she said, just as soft, just as sad, but just as sincere. Once again, there were more than those two words in her eyes, and Leah answered with a short nod, choosing to leave it at that.
Sam wasn’t able to meet her eyes, but that was fine.
She would put on a brave face and work to be better for Emily - for her cousin. Sister. Friend.
But Sam… that would need more time.
She hadn’t meant to do it.
But once she started, she couldn’t take it back, and then it felt good to throw something at them that wasn’t her own issue, so she ran with it.
It was how she’d learned to cope, and she couldn’t stop. It was a rush.
No one had really thought about Embry’s origins, not while on patrol. He was a happy-go-lucky-kid that was so close to Jake and Quil that they hadn’t really questioned the fact that he’d phased.
But Leah had seen something and she couldn’t not think about it.
Leah, don’t. Please.
But she was staring at him now. It had been the quickest flash of an image, but she’d seen it. Ever the visual learner, Embry had drawn out on a piece of paper how each of the pack members were related to either Ephraim Black, Levi Uley, or Quil Ateara II, the last pack that had transformed after encountering vampires three generations ago. Embry only had his mother, who was from the Makah tribe, and a big question mark connected to either Billy Black, Quil Ateara IV, or Joshua Uley - Sam’s dad.
No one had cared. No one had thought of it. But there were things Leah knew - mannerisms, facial expressions, things you only got to know intimately over extended periods of time and attention - that she now couldn’t help connecting to Embry’s face as well.
Quil IV had been an attentive husband and father in his short life, ended too quickly when his fishing boat was capsized in a storm; Billy certainly could have been the father, but he had been devoted to Sarah and his children; Joshua Uley, on the other hand, had been a shitty father, and had left Sam and his mother when Sam was still young, not even four years old.
Embry and Sam were four years apart in age.
Quil had paused mid scratch of his ear.
Leah pictured Sam’s and Embry’s brows. Hands. The way they shrugged. Laughed. Their faces when they slept.
Embry was buzzing with fear and irritation.
I don’t care who it is, it doesn’t matter. I don’t want to know, and no one-
You do too. You wrote it all out.
Leah continued to stare at him. Even in wolf form, his eyes were set the same way as Sam’s.
Stop it! Embry snarled loudly.
Sam was silent. He was surprised and… disappointed. Uncomfortable. It made them all squirm.
Leah felt a strange sort of freedom in it. They had to feel this - Sam had to feel this.
A brief thought crossed Embry’s mind that he wanted to rip her head off, but the repercussions from Sam-who-still-guilted-over-Leah would’ve been too great.
But that only egged her on.
Do it , she dared him. See if brother dearest comes to your aid or mine.
She got her first real injury that night. Embry had been vibrating with anger, and Sam’s added ire for bringing out their families’ dirty laundry only pushed Embry over the edge, and he lunged.
She’d gotten a few of her own bites in, finally letting loose once the fight was on. Again, she was small, but fast. She and Embry spent the next few days on separate shifts, sporting sprained limbs and bandaged cuts.
He wouldn’t look up at her when she sat down next to him at the next pack meeting, and there was an emotion he tried to bury when they were all on patrol that made her start to regret making such a big deal out of the whole thing.
It was shame. And it was wrong.
“Embry,” she called once they’d phased back from their patrol and it was just the two of them. He paused with his back to her, but didn’t turn around. “How’s your shoulder?” she sighed.
She could see him twitch slightly in confusion since he knew she could see his bare shoulder perfectly from where she stood. There was no sign of the deep, gauging bite she’d given him - supernatural healing abilities took care of that. He glared at her over said shoulder, then sighed and turned to her fully.
“Fine,” he bit out.
“Good,” she nodded. She made sure the other words were in her face, though she didn’t say them out loud.
His jaw was still tense, but his brow relaxed. After a moment, he looked away, then back at her again. “Your arm?”
She held her left arm out wide and smoothed her hand over the unblemished skin of her bicep, then dropped it back to her side, looking up at him. “All good.” It had sported a hairline fracture just days ago, but now it was as good as new. Her mother had made the splint without a word, and Leah suspected Seth had told her how and why she’d gotten it.
Twisting her mouth after a moment, she sighed again. “We okay?”
His lips pressed together into a thin line, but his shoulders relaxed slightly. Several long seconds passed with only the hush of the forest stretching between them, and then he gave a short nod. Without anything else said, he turned back around and headed home.
She supposed that was as close to his forgiveness as she was going to get.
And that was fine. She knew she didn’t deserve more.
She didn’t know it would be like this.
She didn’t know that the wolf would take over so completely.
The Cullens had gotten them ready for this. Some crazy vamp was after - you guessed it - Bella Swan, and the monster had made an army of rabid ‘newborn’ vampires, killing their way to Forks.
“Don’t let them get their arms around you,” the battleworn blond one said. “Newborns are strongest just after they’ve been changed.” And so they practiced. They prepared. They learned how to fight these ramped up leeches.
Now, here they were, in battle. And Leah wasn’t afraid.
She was alive .
Three vampires she’d taken down. One with the help of Sam, and two by herself. The Cullens and the pack were working together to get these red eyed freaks put down and there was something running through her - adrenaline, fury, hunger, she didn’t know - that fueled her and rejoiced in the metallic tearing sound when each vamp was ripped in two.
Four down. Five and six in a team effort with Quil and Embry. Dozens of others already eliminated, their stone corpses strewn about the clearing. She wanted another, wanted to attack, to rip, to kill, but they were all finished.
She was panting, a wolfish grin on her face, exulting in their success, and then her ear pricked - a sound to the left.
He was big, but he had somehow been able to hide.
She could handle him.
She slunk behind the trees to get a clear shot, and she thought she heard Seth’s voice in her head, but she ignored it. She needed to eliminate the last threat.
The vamp finally saw her, and its dark eyes widened, then sharpened on her. She bared her teeth in a deadly snarl and lunged, her sharp jaws opening to attack.
In a flash, she was shoved aside and tumbled across the ground, then rolled to her feet.
Jake’s mind was much more focused. He knew she wasn’t big enough to take on the last leech - she couldn’t overpower it, not by herself.
But in his haste to protect her, he had no time to defend himself, and the newborn opened its arms wide, then she saw and felt the crushing pain of stone arms crushing Jake’s right side.
Panic, anger and fear all converged within her, and with Sam and Paul, she lunged at the vampire, but was once more kicked away.
Leah, snap out of it!
She snarled and shook her head. The vamp was dead. She was fine.
But Jake was not.
Her world of fury and rage dissolved into one of confusion and fear and agony. Everything came into sharp focus, and then she could hear Seth. He was up on the mountain with the Swan girl and her vampire lover, the ones that had caused all of this. They had had their own battle on the mountain face, and Seth, who had been there deliberately so he wouldn’t have to fight, had gotten his own kill. But now he was scared.
And she was too.
Just then the little vegetarian vamp, the one that claimed she could see the future, told them all to run.
She looked at Jake, his russet wolf form struggling to breathe, and the panic doubled.
The doctor vampire, the oldest looking one of the Cullens, was ripping the dead vampires’ clothes into strips and with the blonde Barbie vamp started to splint Jake back together with cloth and tree branches.
“You can’t stay here,” the Doc said. “You need to leave. The Volturi won’t recognize your scent but they can’t know about you. Prop him up and help him.”
Embry ran to Jake’s side before she could, and shot her an angry glare. Together with Sam, he helped Jake stand on his remaining unbroken legs, his right front paw hanging limp.
I didn’t… I didn’t mean-
Shut up and run, Leah, Embry growled.
Leah. Go straight home.
Stiffening, she felt the press of Sam’s order, and knew she couldn’t disobey. She glanced once more at Jake as he struggled to walk, then bolted into the trees.
Jacob healed in about four days.
It meant having some of his bones re-broken so they set correctly, and ‘Dr. Fang’ (the doctor vamp) pumped him with enough meds to put a horse under, but he was eventually fine.
Jacob and his on-again-off-again girl Bella Swan finally came to the conclusion that he apparently loved her enough to let her go. So she went.
Their parting had been… odd. They loved each other, but she ‘couldn’t live’ without her immortal teenage boyfriend that would most likely turn her into one of them ? Leah thought Jacob had it right - the vamp was like a drug to this girl, that she’d gotten too much of something she shouldn’t have, and she was addicted. He couldn’t compete with that, not realistically. So he put himself on the backburner on the off chance that she’d change her mind.
Leah tried not to draw similarities, but she couldn’t help it. In a sick way, it was like this girl had imprinted on the vampire. It was the only way she could really comprehend it. She and Jake, they couldn’t compete. They were left behind when the supernatural took over.
But that was where the similarities stopped. The two relationships in and of themselves were miles from each other. A three-year commitment versus a yearlong ‘friendship’ with one kiss that ended in a punch to the face?
No. Jacob’s moping needed to end. And not just for his own sake.
Leah had woken up just that morning from a dream where she’d been pulling in Bella Swan herself for a kiss . Seth had taken one look at her disgruntled face at breakfast and snorted. It wasn’t the first time something like this had happened, and she was getting tired of dealing with these infiltrating feelings for someone she barely knew.
So she decided to try and nip it in the bud.
“Jacob,” she barked, once she’d found him brooding at the cliffs, and marched toward him. “How much longer is this going to take?”
Jacob visibly tensed, but his answering voice was calm. “Jump off a cliff, Leah.”
She rolled her eyes. He thought he was funny. “Really, kid,” she sighed, plopping down next to him. “This has got to stop. You have no idea how hard this is for me.”
He scoffed. “For you ?” He turned to her then, and she realized he thought she was joking. She didn’t bat an eye, though, and he turned back to the sea, scowling at it. “You have to be the most self-absorbed person alive,” he said darkly. “I hate to shatter the dreamworld you live in where everything revolves around you, but I couldn’t give a shit about what’s hard for you . Go . Away. ”
Her eyes flashed, not that he saw it. She had enough to deal with without dreaming about smelling some idiot girl’s hair. “Just... look at this from my perspective for a minute, alright?”
He scoffed a laugh.
“Stop snorting and pay attention,” she snapped. Or you’ll become like me, you dipshit.
“If I pretend to listen, will you leave?” he asked, sending her a simpering smile.
It was the same tone, the same expression he’d use when he would call her a ‘harpy’, and it stung. She hid it with a sharp exhale. “This is making me sick, Jacob,” she hissed. “Can you imagine what this feels like to me? I don’t even like Bella Swan, and you’ve got me grieving over the leech-lover like I’m in love with her, too. Can you see why that might be a little messed up?”
He didn’t quite roll his eyes, but she could tell he wanted to.
“Jake, I dreamt about kissing her last night!” she said tiredly. “What the hell am I supposed to do with that ?”
“Do I care?”
She scowled at him. Jacob did not wear bitterness well. He wasn’t even going to try to move on from this, and he was usually the better adjusted human of the group. They really didn’t have room for her sharp attitude plus his banging around in everyone’s psyches.
“I can’t stand being in your head anymore. You need to get over this girl.”
Jake took a deep breath in and let it out slowly, but didn’t otherwise respond.
“Look, Jake,” she said, sharply, “she’s going to marry that thing.” While he twitched at the thought, she tried not revisit her conflicting emotions from just days before when she’d agreed to be one of Emily’s bridesmaids. “He’s going to try to change her into one of them. That’s it. That’s what she wants, right? Time to move on!”
Time to get out of this hell while you can.
“Shut up,” he growled.
She rolled her eyes with an irritated sigh. Denial would get him nowhere. “He’ll probably just kill her anyway,” she muttered, sneering at the thought of it. “All the stories say that happens more often than not. Maybe a funeral will be better closure than a wedding.” She scoffed a laugh, not unlike the ones he’d made earlier, and suddenly the air around Jacob started to shake and ripple.
Oh come on, she thought watching him struggle to rein it in. When would he get it through his thick skull that this girl he thought he loved was a selfish vacuum around him? Did he have no self-respect?
When he finally calmed down Jacob glared at her, and she returned his simpering smile from earlier.
“If you’re upset about the gender confusion, Leah,” he finally said, his words slow and deliberate, “how do you think the rest of us like looking at Sam through your eyes, huh?” He glowered at her. “It’s bad enough that Emily has to deal with your obsession with him. She doesn’t need us guys panting after him, too.”
She felt her jaw lock into place. A hot taste filled her mouth as the low - but accurate - blow hit her word after word and she felt the heat spread through her limbs and down her spine.
Jacob had been healing in human form for the past several days, so he hadn’t been privy to the stray thought that Sam had failed to keep hidden just after the whole newborn vampire battle fallout. She had snapped at Paul when he questioned whether she’d covered an area on her patrol as they exchanged shifts, and Sam had to use his alpha voice to break them up. Then she heard it. It was faint, but clear.
What I wouldn’t give for one day without her here screwing everything up... just one...
Leah had quickly phased back mid-run so he couldn’t tell she’d heard and pedaled to a stop on bare feet. She had taken a few gulping breaths, but pushed the hurt away. She may have felt something break between them before, but she realized that had been her hope that he’d come back to her. This was… loathing. He wanted her gone. And it tore at her.
As Jacob sneered, unknowingly rubbing salt into a fresh wound, she scrambled to her feet, willing herself to get away from him so she could at least save these clothes before she exploded, but not before she took that hot taste in her mouth and spat it in Jacob’s direction.
She was shaking so hard she nearly tripped when he laughed and hollered back at her, “You missed!”
She let her outrage shake her into phasing, and bolted north at a run. Her mind turned to how her feet dug into the earth and her limbs pushed her to flying speeds through the trees. She didn’t get very far, though, when her own thoughts creeped back to the forefront, and she had to stop.
Confident that she’d be alone but for the wildlife around her for several miles, she phased back and stood, panting into the still silence. Birds, falling raindrops and the wind in the trees were all she could hear beyond her own pulse beating in her ears. She hadn’t gotten her clothes off in time after all, so she had nothing to change into, nothing to cover herself, but she didn’t mind.
There was no one to see. No one to care.
There was no one.
Jacob’s words resurfaced and she rubbed her face roughly, as if it would make them disappear.
But all it did was give her a small place to hide, behind her own hands, so she could let the pain release. Let her features crumble where no one could witness it. Let the sob finally rise and escape with a piercing yell that tore at her vocal chords and startled the birds in the trees.
Sam would be wearing a tailored suit in a few months’ time, and she would have to walk down the aisle toward him wearing a blue bridesmaid’s dress. She would have to watch him promise to love and cherish someone else, and witness the joy on his face when he was officially bound to them.
The sound of her cry echoed once, and then died, and the still silence pressed against her ears. She gasped and held her head in her hands, pulling the bitterness, the pain, the anguish - and the love - back around her in a protective shield.
She had tried once to separate herself from the pack in the beginning, to be free of their minds - of his mind - and the constant torment, but all she’d managed to do was pull that shield together, weak though it was. There was no escaping any of this.
Until she stopped phasing for good, this was how it was going to be.
There in the forest, alone with her own thoughts, she took a deep breath, let it out slowly, and pushed her short hair from her eyes. Then with squared shoulders, she turned and walked the rest of the way home on her own two feet.
It was mid-July.
On a sunny and blessedly windy day to lessen the heat, Leah put on a blue chiffon dress.
She even did her makeup and styled her hair, or did what she could now that it was so short. In the mirror, she took a deep breath and made sure she could look like she was having a good time. A smile would be too much, it would absolutely look forced on her. She wasn’t that good of a liar. But a generally pleasant expression? Yes, she could do that. Eyes open, brows slightly raised to show interest and just the slightest upturn of her lips, and she was, for the first time in months, approachable.
And what a wonder and a gift that she was still not approached.
She stood with Emily’s sister and a girl from Emily’s home in Neah Bay, held a small bouquet of flowers in her hand, and…
Later, she couldn’t honestly recall most of that day. Some part of her shut down, and she merely existed there, amongst other girls in dresses and boys in slacks in front of a crowd.
She faded into the background and became one with the hum of the air-conditioning in the meeting house, all other sounds and attentions becoming a blur of muffled colors and voices.
And then she was riding home in a car with her mom, who reached over as she drove and took Leah’s hand in hers with a gentle squeeze. Leah slowly and wordlessly pulled her hand out of her mother’s grasp, and turned her face to the window.
In her reflection, she could see that she had at some point lost the expression that said ‘I’m having a good time’ and was now vacant looking and sort of glazed over.
From the driver’s side, she heard a sniff.
Ah, well, she thought. It was worth a try.
Seth, bless him, thought he was good at keeping secrets.
She had come home after her patrol shift just in time to see him to hang up the house phone and spin around with a horribly guilty smile. “Hey!” he squeaked.
Leah merely rolled her eyes and turned to go to her room. She knew Bella Swan was calling the house. The first time she had called, Leah had answered. Bella had hesitated, then asked for Seth.
“He’s not here,” she said, though she was looking right at him across the room.
“ Oh ,” Bella stuttered. “ Uh, do you - could you ask him to- ”
“No.” She hung up.
Seth had glared at her while she parked herself right by the phone for the rest of the day. Any other calls she suspected happened when she was away, and Leah was mildly pleased she seemed to scare the poor girl. She’d answered once more only for the caller to immediately hang up.
She was not pleased, however, with the reason for the calls.
After Leah’s squabble with Jake, he’d apparently gotten a wedding invitation from the very couple he was brooding over, and he took off.
Like, literally ran away . Weeks later, he was somewhere in Canada, trying to ‘become the wolf’, and wouldn’t talk to any of the pack. Billy didn’t seem to be worried, convinced he’d eventually come back on his own. And Bella Swan had the audacity to check up on him.
She wouldn’t admit it out loud, and she did as best she could to hide it from the rest of the pack, but…
Leah wished she could have done it too.
The moment that thought crossed her mind, however, she remembered her mom and Seth, who had just lost Harry, and she knew it wouldn’t have been the same. She couldn’t have left them, couldn’t have stayed away. Not really.
But the idea of taking off and letting her emotions shift from a human’s to an animal’s that only lived to eat, run and survive… it was so tempting.
Instead of running off into the wild, however, she was at home in La Push, looking through the Peninsula College catalog. She’d graduated high school by a thread, several of the pack members having been given special extensions for papers and projects thanks to the tribe council stepping in. She didn’t have any definite plans, being a part of the pack still put so many things in flux, but she figured she could still look at her options.
Seth, coming down the stairs in a pressed shirt and slacks, glanced at the catalog and his smile dimmed. He’d never said it outright, and he covered it well with sibling annoyance, but he liked having her with him in the pack. The fact that she was making tentative plans like this to go away made him sad.
“You going to church?” she scoffed in confusion, eyeing his nice clothes.
“No,” he said, then frowned. “At least… I don’t think so.”
Their mother following him into the room in a nice dress and a pinched expression gave Leah the answer.
It was the wedding day. The wedding of Bella Idiot Swan and Edward Reads-Minds-Without-Permission Cullen. The human and the vampire.
Leah’s mood soured. She didn’t like the idea of either of her remaining family members being in a place with so many vampires hanging around, but she had no desire or inclination to go with them.
“It will be at their home,” Sue sighed, rightfully uncomfortable with the idea of being around the Cullens as well. “But Charlie said Pastor Weber is the officiant, so it might as well be church.”
Leah sneered. How could they ask an actual man of the cloth to officiate such an unholy union?
“Anything you want me to pass along?” Seth asked, as he pulled on his shoes, a hopeful edge to his bright tone. He was excited. He and the groom-to-be had struck up some messed up sort of friendship, and she hated it.
“No,” she said simply, turning back to the course catalog.
Seth would’ve answered her with some sort of snarky comment had not their mother told him they needed to get going so they could pick up Billy. “Go start the car, hon,” she told Seth.
A moment later, Leah felt her mother’s slim arms curl around her shoulders in a hug from behind. Sue pressed a kiss to her daughter’s head and squeezed her gently. “We won’t be gone long. Positive thoughts are appreciated, though. I feel like I’m heading to a lion’s den.”
Leah hesitated. She hadn’t been the daughter her mother had raised for months now. She was someone new and horrible, someone who couldn’t look her mother in the eye. Perhaps this was why Sue had embraced her this way, so she couldn’t see her face.
After a moment, Leah lifted a hand and squeezed her mother’s arm. “You’ll be fine.”
There was always a chance that something could happen, some freak accident could send all the vamps into a frenzy and they’d kill every human in attendance, Pastor Weber included, but Seth was there. In the million to one chance that something horrible happened, Seth would get their mom out of danger.
“Thanks, honey,” Sue answered gratefully. “Love you. See you tonight.” She gave Leah one last squeeze, then followed Seth out to the car.
As she listened to the car pull away from the house, Leah sighed. “Love you, too,” she whispered.
She should not be happy about this.
She really shouldn’t.
But she was free .
There might be a war between the werewolves and the vampires soon, and she might have to fight the people she’d eventually come to think of as family, but…
He was gone.
Sam was only in her head when she thought of him, and she didn’t need to think about him. As her feet pounded towards the Cullens’ place, she caught the recent trail left by Seth and followed it. Sure enough, a minute or two later, she heard her brother sound an alarm just before she trotted up to him and Jacob.
Just hours ago, they had all been planning to attack the house these two were now guarding. Sam had tied his will to their feet. He wouldn’t take no for an answer.
Bella Cullen nee Swan hadn’t been turned into a vampire, but she was pregnant with an abomination, and that was unacceptable in Sam’s eyes. The human-vampire hybrid creature that was growing inside her was a mystery and a danger, and it needed to be eliminated along with all of the Cullens.
But Jacob had gone to see them (well, to kill them, initially) and he came back singing a different tune. He couldn’t agree with Sam. Bella might die giving birth to this… thing, but he couldn’t justify killing the rest of them. If the Cullens weren’t their enemies anymore, then an attack like this was murder. He was sure of it.
She cringed just thinking of the sharp lash of Sam’s alpha commands that he’d laid on Jacob to obey. No loopholes to be found. The kid had lowered all the way to the ground from the force of it.
And then, a miracle happened.
Jake broke free. Became his own pack. His own alpha.
And he left.
Seth had been arguing along with him, his bond with Edward swaying him to Jake’s side, and he followed Jake, breaking free of Sam’s puppet strings.
Leah had panicked, watching her brother run away from the protection of the pack and toward uncertain danger. She had hoped he’d stay behind, like he was supposed to do last time, but he was bent on protecting his friends. His vampire friends.
Her bright spot, running toward death.
She looked reflexively to Sam, whose head was a storm of betrayal, anger and shock, but there was nothing he could do. Seth’s loyalty had shifted. They couldn’t hear him anymore. Both he and Jacob were gone.
She couldn’t help but howl with the rest of them. It was painful, this loss.
Sam called off the attack. They wouldn’t win a fight against the Cullens with two of their number fighting against their own pack. They needed to regroup, talk to the elders, figure out their next plan of action. Things were complicated now.
Sam, I - I need to tell my mom.
Sam’s mind was still a mess of loss and desperation.
Fine. Sure. Go. We’ll meet in the morning.
She ran home. Her mother was already in bed, the house dark and quiet. She padded up the stairs and peeked into her mother’s room, wondering how she could tell her that Seth, whom she was supposed to protect, was now in danger of fighting against his brothers.
He was still so young.
Curled up under the covers, her mother looked small, still only sleeping on her side of the bed. Billy often commented that Sue would have been quite the wolf, had their generation been exposed instead of their children’s. “Of course I would,” Sue would agree with a smirk, but then would glance in her daughter’s direction. “Which is why, as the wolf mother, I trust my cubs to keep us safe.” It was both a note of confidence in her kids and a reprimand to Billy to lay off Leah’s sharp edges.
Leah pretended to ignore it, but she appreciated it every time.
Pulling the bedroom door closed, she went back downstairs and sat at the kitchen table to think.
Two packs. Two pack minds.
She could stay with Sam, stay with the pack in La Push where there was safety in numbers, or…
Or she could go with Jacob and her brother.
She sat at that table for hours, weighing the pros and cons; constantly being around vampires or keeping her sense of smell intact, stay loyal to the tribe or loyal to family; murder or suicide. Lose - lose.
Her hands raked through her short hair into the small hours of the morning, but in the end it was the selfish part of her that decided. It wouldn’t be for Jake, not for Bella, though she was partly doing it for Seth. Underneath it all, though, she was giving in to temptation.
Outside, the sky was lightening, and she knew she had to leave now, before any more official decisions were made.
She pulled a pen and pad of paper from the kitchen junk drawer and wrote as best she could with a shaking hand.
We’re with Jacob. It’s all really complicated but please don’t worry. I’ll make sure Seth doesn’t do anything stupid.
I love you,
She felt like she was walking through molasses, walking away from that table where the simple note sat. Then, as her decision grew clearer, as she felt her loyalty shift, she phased.
She was light. She was flying. Her head was quiet, and she realized it was because there wasn’t a cacophony of voices to fill it anymore. Far off to the east, she knew there were two that were waiting.
She was free.
She was going to cut a bitch.
She’d just had a - sort of - heart to heart with Jake about staying with him as a pack when all this was over and - sort of - understanding why Bella and the protective Barbie vamp were so gung-ho about this baby, when she heard, then saw him… driving?
What in the hell..?
That was definitely him in the sports car flying away from the house, and his face was all distorted and screwed up in rage, but… why didn’t he just phase? Why hold it in? What was going on?
She circled back toward the house until she could hear voices.
“... but wh-why would he-”
“He doesn’t want what we want, Bella. You know that.”
Leah recognized the Barbie vamp’s voice. Rosalie.
“But he’s been here still,” Bella sniffed. “He’s been here even… even if-”
“Bella, love,” said the Baby Daddy, “he’s… hang on.”
A moment later, he was standing on the porch, eyes sweeping the trees. She made herself visible.
What’s wrong with Jake?
Edward winced. “He was upset.”
Upset? she thought incredulously, bringing to mind Jake’s rage filled expression.
Edward closed his eyes briefly and came down the steps to the grass, as if that would put them on even ground. Her tail swished in suspicion.
“We can… I can hear it,” he said, and a light came into his golden eyes that she could have sworn was… happiness. But Jake had seen him before, he hated this thing as much as Jake did.
Edward heard that and seemed to struggle for words. “It loves her,” he said, and shook his head in awe. “It’s incredible, that it has such clear thoughts at this stage, but it makes things different now.”
And that was it. She’d heard enough.
“Leah,” Edward warned, reading her intentions.
Get out of my head.
She sought out the tree where she’d buried the t-shirt and cotton shorts Esme had offered her (and that she’d promptly threw in the river, then fished out later), dug them up, phased, and threw them on dirt and all.
Edward, of course, stood rigidly in her way as she marched up.
“I need to speak with your wife ,” she spat out, not slowing down.
“This is not the time,” he pleaded, wincing slightly.
Eyes narrowing as she got closer, she shouted her thoughts at him.
And when is the time ?! When you have your killer baby and she’s dead?!
His eyes shut and she saw a shade of the ‘burning man’ Jake had seen in him. She kept her quick pace to the door and side stepped him, relieved and a little alarmed that he didn’t stop her.
And there she was. Sickly and pale with a protruding stomach that looked more like a tumor than a pregnancy, just like she’d seen it in Jake’s head.
“What are you doing here?” Barbie snarled, standing protectively in front of Bella.
Leah ignored her, fixing her eyes on the side of Bella’s face that was visible to her. “Do you really not know?” she growled, and the girl’s dark eyes still fresh with tears looked up at her. “Are you really that self-absorbed and selfish that you don’t know why he would feel betrayed by this? By all of you? By that ?” she spat, gesturing to the thing growing inside of Bella.
In response, the girl placed a protective hand over it.
“He has every right to be angry if this is the way you’re treating him, shoving his own loss in his face.”
“Leah.” Edward had come in behind her.
She took a step closer to Bella and Rosalie moved to guard her.
“I’m not going to do anything, Barbie, for fuck’s sake.”
Rosalie’s lip curled in disgust. “Say another word and I’ll rip your-”
“Rose.” Bella’s small hand touched the vamp’s arm, and with a look of reluctance, the blonde stepped aside. Bella looked up at Leah wearily. “Say what you need to say.”
Leah scoffed, taking in the girl’s tears that were threatening to fall. “Fine. You don’t deserve to cry over him.”
Bella’s eyes flashed. “He’s my best friend. If I upset him-”
“He’s the one person who has been fighting for your life, and you gave it away! ” Leah shouted at her, effectively shutting the idiot girl up. “Do you know how much he’s given up to be here, to protect all of you? Do you know how much it kills him to see you like this, to have you constantly wanting him close just to watch you wither away? Because I do,” she said heatedly, “not just in here,” she tapped her temple, “because you know it goes deeper than that. He can’t hide it, can’t get rid of it, and he can’t get away from you no matter how toxic you are to him, no matter how much you hurt him, no matter how much you fling your own death from that thing around like it’s a good thing.”
She was breathing quickly now, and she was in danger of letting her own experiences mix in with Jake’s but maybe that was the point.
“God, I thought I had it bad,” she laughed harshly. “But he has it so much worse than I did with Sam because this was all your choice . You’ve ruined a perfectly good man, all because you wanted to be perfect like them,” she glanced at Rosalie with disdain. “Fuck Jacob’s feelings, right? He’s only human.”
Bella’s face contorted as she looked away.
“That’s enough,” Edward growled, encircling a marble hand around Leah’s arm and pulling her back.
“And all it got you was a monster that’s killing you from the inside out,” she snarled as she was pulled across the room. “How fitting.”
Rosalie looked like she was about to spring, and Edward’s grip on her tightened, practically shoving her to the door. Leah saw Bella wipe under her eyes and she dug in her heels.
“That better be guilt!” she shouted, pointing an accusing finger at the sickly girl. “When it comes to Jake, that’s all you get to feel! You hear me?!”
She was shoved onto the porch and the door slammed shut behind both she and Edward, who was as still as stone, but his eyes were burning and dark.
“Do not come back here.”
She glared right back at him. Inside, she could hear the sobs start.
“Wouldn’t dream of it.”
Of course, days later, she had to come back.
She was the only one on guard.
Her brother was inside, getting put back together by the doc, since the newborn vampire version of Bella Idiot Swan had attacked Jacob, and Seth was dumb enough to get in the way.
Jacob was perfectly fine, out on the lawn bickering with Barbie vamp. Between them was the cause for all of this.
Ugh, she couldn’t even think it without cringing.
This thing. This… being , changed everything.
Jacob was done for. He would go with them now, she knew. Wherever they went, wherever that little human vampire experiment went, he would follow. He would protect her to his dying breath, just like all the other wolves would for their imprints.
She had told him before that whatever happened, she would go with him. She’d be his second, his beta. They didn’t have to be close or anything, they could just be… away. Seth could go back home to La Push, finish school and be a kid, but they could leave.
But that future had blinked out of existence the moment he laid eyes on the baby in his arms.
And all she could do was watch.
They were getting closer, her mother and Charlie.
Sue was helping him into the world of werewolves and vampires, helping him walk among it with human feet. And Leah could see it, the way she looked at him like she just wanted to take care of him. Leah couldn’t blame them, not really, not now that they had something so insane to bond over, now that they were both on their own in dealing with it. He made her smile.
It didn’t stop her from missing her dad.
But she couldn’t focus on that or she would turn into something even more ugly.
So she focused on her job. On her role.
Jacob was with Nessie constantly, so she would bear the stench of the vamp house and check in with him, not that he’d really care. It would take a moment for him to snap out of whatever happy trance the girl had put him in but then he’d nod or give an order.
Touch base with Sam’s pack.
Make a circuit to the north.
Have Seth take over so she could sleep.
She bared her teeth in what she hoped looked like a manic smile in response to the last one, to which he only rolled his eyes and returned his attention to the little girl toddling around in front of him.
The Barbie vamp watched her go with sharp eyes, and she curled her shaking hands into fists.
She had known the free feeling would be temporary, she just hadn’t expected it to flip like this so soon. She was free of Sam, but trapped with an alpha that had gone nuts over taking care of a baby. And since said baby came from Bella Idiot Swan - Cullen , she was a Cullen now - she had to watch this girl, this stupid girl who was now a mother so quickly, and a monster so instantly, exult in her happiness.
Leah didn’t want immortality. She didn’t want to be as strong and as tough as boulders. She didn’t want a husband that could leap over rivers and analyze his daughter’s growth with the knowledge of several PhD’s.
But as she scanned the house once more before she left, she saw in everyone else there what she figured she would have to wait a very long time to find.
A reason for her smile to be real.
She slept for two days straight after the trial.
That’s what she had thought of it, anyway. A trial.
The vampire police had found out about Renesmee and thought she was an illegal creation or something. Leah didn’t quite get all the details, it was all fairly rushed and full of vampy jargon and histories she didn’t quite grasp, but in the end, it was all of them - sixteen in total with a few new kids added to Sam’s pack - that stood with the Cullens and dozens of other vampires as witnesses against a wall of red eyed people eaters.
Leah was ready for a showdown, something much bigger than what had happened in the spring.
She was ready to die.
On Jacob’s flank, she was poised to protect, to attack, to run, bite, kill, whatever he needed her to do.
A pasty white Cold One who thought entirely too much of himself seemed to talk forever, and Leah had to control the urge to snap at him.
He was threatening Renesmee. To do that was to threaten Jacob. She wouldn’t stand for it.
But lo and behold, they walked away without a scratch.
Because Bella Idiot Swan… used her brain.
The people eaters apparently relied on mental weapons, like Edward’s invasive mind reading, but they’d torture you with pain instead. And Bella was somehow able to shield them from all of it. Add in another kid they found like Renesmee that was perfectly fine and not a danger to the world after a century of life, and the Red Eyes had no case.
The Cullens cheered.
The impending doom was lifted.
She could rest. She could hope. She could plan.
She was going to live.