the road was brighter at the beginning
(when I lived inside a dream)
the end is unknown
but i think i'm ready
as long as you're with me
the xx, "angels"
The Cullen mansion is boarded up, the last of their belongings and cars shipped this morning.
Jacob's own worldly possessions fit into one red toolbox and one single duffle bag, both of which once belonged to Billy. Understandably, the duffle bag is in worse shape than the toolbox; it's fraying at the seams and looking extremely sorry for itself on the passenger seat beside him whilst he waits impatiently for the convoy to roll out.
Nessie had wanted to ride along with him, and he'd instantly hated himself when he'd told her no. Leaving La Push—leaving Washington—is a pretty big fucking deal, and driving away from it . . . This feels like something he needs to do on his own.
He hadn't been able to explain it in a way that Nessie would stop asking questions, and even now she is still upset with him. Fifteen minutes ago, he'd tried to reason with her that driving alone was kind of like how she'd needed to say goodbye to every single room in the freakin' house—fourteen fucking rooms he'd had to walk through, twice—but, despite his imprint's otherworldly intelligence, he knows that she's still having trouble fully understanding what he had said.
(Maybe he's the stupid one. He's joining a coven of bloodsuckers, after all.)
"But we did that together," Nessie said plaintively.
Because you asked me to, had been the response he couldn't voice. But it hurts to hurt her, so he couldn't—can't say these things. He will never be able to say these things.
The only person who seemed to understand was Bella, and thankfully she'd managed to coerce Nessie into their shiny Volvo instead.
(If his former best friend didn't smell like acid then he might have hugged her properly—not the now-normal one-armed hugs and fleeting kisses on her head which still make his stomach roll. Whatever. He's working on it.)
Jacob drums his fingers on the steering wheel, and finally, finally, the last of them are piling into their vehicles and that marvellous Jeep of Emmett's is roaring and—
As soon as he hears her voice Jacob is leaping out of the Rabbit, as shocked as the bloodsuckers she has bolted past without acknowledging. Then he sees the backpack bouncing on her back, the relief in her eyes that she's not too late, and he feels a spark of hope igniting deep inside of him. Dangerous, dangerous hope.
Leah throws herself at him, and he catches her without a second thought, lifting her off her feet.
"Stay," she breathes.
Her arms tighten around his neck, pulling herself closer. "Then let me come with you."
They have rehearsed this, have repeated the same words to one another since the day he told her that he was leaving. And his answer to this next part is always no, is always you promised—you go wherever you want, and I'll go where I want, remember? You promised.
"I know what I said," she whispers against his ear, breathless and trembling, breaking from the script. "But—please. You don't have to do this on your own."
He doesn't think he's ever heard her say please in his life. Certainly not in this life—not since they became pack for the first time; not since she started running on his left flank, guarding him, protecting him.
"Ask me again."
And because Leah has always understood him, because they have always understood each other—even when they did not want to, even when they hated each other—she buries her face in his neck, and her breath whispers against his skin as she says, "Stay."
"Then let me come with you."
"Okay," he says. "Okay."