The wine looks ominously like blood from where she's sitting on the couch in the dark, with only the full moon lighting it. The double irony of the situation strikes her – one, Pack members are absolutely incapable of getting drunk, and she'd know best, all things considering, and two, how everything reminded her of the Cullens now that they were gone.
She tilts the glass slightly, perusing the dark red contents, then swirls her glass perfunctorily and lifts it to her lips, kissing the rim lightly and letting the bittersweet contents burn their way down her throat, welcoming the feeling of cool fire sliding down her mouth and throat. It was funny, she'd never been a drinker before, always preferring that fake sparkling grape juice to the real deal. But after that had happened, she'd spent a lot of time cuddling up to a bottle of Jack Daniels… or twenty. It had never worked.
But that was all ending soon, wasn't it? She smiled at the tiny bit of wine left, pooling in the bottom of the glass. The Cullens were gone, and there was no excuse for Sam to bind her to the rez anymore. She could finally leave. It would all be over, just… like… that. To seal the deal, she lifted the glass to her lips once more and drained it. By this time tomorrow, she'd be… well, who knows where she'd be?
She sets down the glass and stands up, heading to bed. She knows she won't sleep. But this time, it'll be different. It'll be the last night that she lies in bed, her eyes wide open, seeing and yet unseeing in the dark. But, at the same time, it's the first time that her future is so open, so freeing, so happy. Even when she'd known where she belonged – next to Sam, of course – it had always been pretty much set in stone. She'd marry him, have children, settle down, live happily ever after, blah blah blah.
Maybe she should feel some pang of regret, some feeling of wistfulness. She pauses for a moment with her shirt off, frozen in the act of retrieving a sleep shirt from the dresser in her room, trying to locate that elusive feeling. But nope, there's nothing but excitement.
There's nothing here for her anymore, and there hasn't been for a long time. Because as much as she hates to admit it, home for her is, or was, where Sam's heart was. And it wasn't hers anymore. His warm, tight embrace, which somehow managed to soothe all the hurts and pains that life dealt her, that was all gone. So right now, she had no home. The pack was just her torment, her own personal hell. But it was time to leave, and maybe soon she'd find a new home.
She thinks of the plane ticket that's sitting in her backpack now, which is resting on top of a suitcase next to her bedroom door. It's going to take her to L.A., but that's only the beginning. She may not choose to stay there. She may go to San Fran, New York, wherever the wind takes her. As she gets into bed, she looks at the camera sitting on her dresser, the one she'd scrimped and saved for six months to buy, and the corners of her mouth lift up in a small smile. That camera, innocent as it looked, had been her savior. Somehow, looking at things through the lens made them seem so pure, beautiful. And as beautiful as the rez was, she yearned to see different things through the lens, to explore the world from a different point of view.
She knows she's good, because she's uploaded some of her photographs online and actually gotten business enquiries regarding them. People want to buy her photographs, or want her to make postcards for them, or whatever. Does it really matter? She has a way of supporting herself when she leaves this place, and she won't be destitute. She'll even – hopefully, anyway – be able to send money back to her family from wherever she is, and support them even if she can't be here with them.
And she can't. Not anymore. She's never said anything, but she knows both her mother and Seth understand, that it's just harder and harder every day to watch the man she loved more than anything be so happy with someone who was like a sister to her, to watch the life she's always wanted being lived out by someone who was supposed to love her unconditionally, someone she's always seen as being one of her best friends. Who knew just how she felt about Sam, from the late night phone calls filled with breathless giggles and her gushing excitedly, She knows the other pack members just think she's a shrew, a bitter harpy who can't get over life, but it was more than that. She had loved Sam, with every inch of her being, every fiber of her heart, and it hadn't been enough. It had been the worst, most cruel rejection she could ever have conceived, and from two of the people she loved the most in the world. None of them could ever imagine the pain she goes through every day, every minute, of knowing that Sam has his happy ending after all – it just doesn't include her.
That's why none of them know. Ever since the plan had been put in motion, she's started cutting back on her hours with the pack, swapping her shifts around with all the pack members, rotating so that none of them really know how much she's been slacking off. None of them question it, really, all of them just too relieved that they don't have to patrol with her, and her uncomfortable thoughts of sadness and melancholy and that deep, awful bitterness deep within her mind.
She wonders if anyone has noticed that she's stopped thinking about that recently. She hasn't really been thinking about anything much though, afraid that if she lets her mind wander, she'll start thinking about her imminent departure and they'll find out. She doesn't really know why she's so reluctant to let anyone know, since it's unlikely that any of them will even care. Even Sam would probably be relieved to see her go.
But then again, she's honest with herself to admit that their apathy would hurt her more than anything. And she can't deal with that pain, can't take the risk of falling apart now, when she's already been so strong for so long. And that's why she focuses on glasses, on empty coke bottles and blunt pencils whenever she has to be in wolf form, just to hide her plans. The pack doesn't realize of course. They're too busy being relieved that she's not thinking about things that make them uncomfortable, or angry.
It all ends tomorrow, though. Tomorrow morning, she's going to be on a bright and early flight to Los Angeles, where the rest of her life will begin. And she can hardly wait.
She's out of bed by four the next morning, since two hours of lying in a bed where she knows sleep will not claim her is a phenomenal waste of time, especially on a morning like this. She grabs her clothes and hops in the shower, and by five, she's sitting in the kitchen eating a bowl of cereal, with her worn leather jacket draped over the back of the couch, and her suitcase on standby next to the front door.
Sue wanders down shortly, her eyes filling with tears as she looks as her only daughter and oldest child, knowing this may well be the last time she sees her baby girl in this house. But she knows better than to beg for her daughter to stay. To do so would be selfish, and she won't be another person to weigh the young woman down with the weight of her requests with no thought or concern for her.
Leah's heard her, of course, even though her werewolf senses have been fading since she hasn't changed in the last two weeks. She rises from her seat, abandoning her half-eaten cereal to hug her mother. "I love you, mom," she whispers in a croaky voice, rusty from disuse. She clears her throat and tries again. "I just… you'll come visit me, right?"
"Sweetheart, I will come and visit you wherever you may be. Hong Kong, Japan, London, just let me know and I'll be there. I've always wanted to see more of the world anyway," Sue replies, trying to hide her sadness with levity. Because even if she'll miss her baby girl, she's so excited that Leah is going to get to do all these things that no one on the rez has ever managed before.
"Thank you, mom," Leah says, her eyes filling with tears that she stubbornly refuses to shed, and sits back down to finish her breakfast.
When she's done, she places her bowl in the sink, and Seth comes down the stairs. He gives Leah a tight, bone-crushing hug, and she hugs him back just as tightly. There really isn't much he knows to say to her right now, since he's never been the best with words, but he thinks that the hug conveys everything he wants to say. Then he picks up her luggage, because even though she's a werewolf as well as more than capable of carrying her own bags, he's still a gentleman, and he isn't going to get many more opportunities to take care of his sister like she once took care of him, so he's going to milk this for all he can.
She trails after him, laughing through the lump in her throat as she complains that she can carry her own suitcase, dammit, and he'd better not drop it. He places the suitcase in the boot of the car and they all get in, driving her to the airport, which is maybe an hour's drive away. They fill the void with soft chitchat, on how she's going to handle everything once she gets there, and her plans for when she's there – trying to catch a glimpse of celebrities and taking sunrise pictures on the beach, obviously – and just ignore the giant elephant in the room, because neither of the Clearwater children are very comfortable with talking about their emotions.
But time runs out, eventually, and they're all standing before the departure gates, and it's time for Leah to leave. They share one last hug before she walks through those gates, and tears are shed by all of them, including Leah, though she'd never admit it.
"You call us as soon as possible, okay?" Sue says, fussing over her daughter for what could be the last time ever.
"I will as soon as I get my new phone number, mom," Leah promises, hugging her mother tight. Then she lets go and wraps her arms around her brother.
"I'll miss you," she says to him, and he chokes back a sob as he hugs her tightly, not wanting to let his big sister, who's been there his whole life, go. "I'll miss you too," he says softly, as he releases her.
"I love you both," she tells them, kissing them both on the cheek one last time. "And I'll talk to you two soon," she promises as she walks through the gates, waving before she turns away.
Half an hour later, she's buckled in her seat, unable to contain her excitement and nerves as the plane slowly starts to taxi and takes off. Her new life is just beginning.
Far away, back on the rez that she's left behind, a deep, crushing pain startles Sam Uley out of his peaceful sleep. He grunts in agony as his insides twist, and his writhing movements wake Emily Uley, who's sleeping next to him, up. "What's wrong?" she asks, blinking the sleep away from her eyes as she reaches for him.
But her touch burns him, all of a sudden, and then it seems like every inch of skin on his body is igniting in flames. He rolls out of bed and half-crawls, half-stumbles, to the front gate, where he phases and howls in agony.
Leah Clearwater, who had once almost been Leah Uley, the love of his life and the soul mate to his human half, had left. And it seemed like she had torn out a chunk of his heart to take with her. Because there is no going back from this, no moving on, no recovery. There is nothing without Leah.
Phew! I wrote all that and uploaded it in one sitting, so if I've made any mistakes, I'm very very sorry. Also, I'm sorry if there are discrepancies, I haven't read the Twilight novels in a very long time, but I was browsing through some Sam and Leah fics and I just had a lot of feels.
That being said, hope you enjoyed, and please do drop me a review to let me know what you thought! Thanks!