A/N: Here's a little Leah x Paul item I came up with as I listened to "Shades of Cool" by Lana Del Rey for a few hours. It's been a long five months since I've published anything, but I'm awake. I'm alive. I also want to make beautiful things again. Hopefully, I can. I certainly plan on it. And of course, I hope you enjoy.
His Strange Weather
As she grew up in Washington all her life, Leah Clearwater has always been fond of the rain, but not when it works against her. Washingtonians are funny like that.
Leah loves to watch the wet droplets slide down her bedroom window, but not down her arms. The static-like soundtrack is beautiful on her roof, but not on her head, on her clothes, or the sidewalk she occupies. The sky, too—a dark, gray abyss—is calming and damn near poetic when she watches from her screen door, but not when she's under it. The idea of experiencing the rain live is strange.
This weather is strange in itself, because when it rains here in La Push, it doesn't storm. The rain here speaks for the rain in all of Washington: silently unnoticed. Today, it lets out its emotions, no matter how abrasive. It storms. This weather speaks for Leah, too. Incredible. If only her words would speak for her instead, because as she slightly stares up at the one and only Paul Lahote, clad in a worn-out leather jacket, she has none.
The only thing stranger than the weather of La Push is Paul's. His strange weather makes him unidentifiable. Not like he used to be.
Paul's too cool now—too cool for La Push, for Leah, for anything and anyone he's left behind. If it wasn't raining, he would hide behind his sunglasses. He lives in shades and shades of cool these days. His coolness has thrived in California for some time now, because palm trees are cooler than Sitka ones, because In-N-Out is cooler than Dick's, because rent higher than heaven is better than anything sensible. California is that kind of cool. Almost every cool person Leah has ever known that moved from someplace else and to her school was from California. Not Paul's kind of cool, though, merely because Paul's not cool.
Paul has been uncool since the dawn of time, and a crazy-ass since the age of two-and-a-half. He's been out to get everyone for his entire life, since he's been stricken with ADHD, and a heavy dose of it. He wasn't cool when he randomly ran out of elementary school every two weeks, or when he couldn't concentrate on his work only to come home and have his dad beat the living shit out of him like the knowledge would come to him as quickly as the bruises did. That wasn't cool. It wasn't cool at all.
Leah supposes it's good to forget, and good to move on from the bad things of the past, but not from the good things. Leah is a good thing.
"Where've you been?" she asks him. He's so cool that they have to stand outside to meet again. Cool is not a synonym for sensible.
And it's not like she doesn't know where he's been—he's been in California—but she wants to know what he'll say. Nothing simple, if he's completely cool now.
"Paradise," he replies.
Fucking knew it.
"I heard you've got your life made for you now," Leah says, wiping rain from her face, only for it to be replaced with new, fresh rain. "Heard you've gotten too big for the rest of us." It's like he's a celebrity, but the mental part of it has slipped out and become real. He's always been a star in his own mind—Paul Lahote, extraordinaire of everything and nothing—and now it's almost real.
"Just a little bit," Paul says. Leah hopes he didn't make it as an actor—he can't hide anything for shit. His classic side-smirk makes an appearance. Now Leah hopes to God he didn't make it as an actor; he'd break the fourth wall every time, all because he can't help it.
"What have you been up to?" she asks, itching to smile back. She hates him—she hates him so much—but she wants to laugh like old friends, like they were kids who shared secrets periodically.
"Chasing dreams and paper and all that," he replies. "I've really got things made—it's awesome."
Leah raises a brow. "Real shit?"
"Real shit. The realest shit."
"That's great, I guess." Her tone dips into sarcasm, but he doesn't catch on too quickly.
"It's amazing. It's like…" Paul looks like he's going to drown in the rain, but he's so into the moment, the coolness of the moment, that he doesn't mind. It just makes him cooler. "It's like my world is impeccable. Unbreakable. It's fantastic."
"I know," Leah says, her voice full out sour. "Your world is really unbreakable. That probably explains why I've gotten nothing but one call from you in the last few months, but it's no big deal, ya know?"
"Oh, Lee. Your passive-aggression hasn't died, has it?"
"Actually, a little passive-aggression a day keeps me up a level like you wouldn't believe."
He chuckles, but it's hardly audible under the sound of the rain.
Leah doesn't get the point in any of this. Are they supposed to be catching up? A part of her wants to know what he's been doing, but another part of her already knows that it's not legal, so it doesn't matter. And because she's notoriously passive-aggressive, dripping with sarcasm, and the queen of sly digs, it also doesn't matter that she's going to set herself up for disappointment.
"Walk with me?" he asks, turning his body into the opposite direction, looking over his shoulder at Leah. He's not even an actor to her; he's a full-on motion picture of his own. A lovely vision in black and white, that's what he is. So Leah walks with him. As much as she hates him, she can't think of a day when she won't walk with him. She's never missed out on that opportunity.
"So, who's got your heart today?" Leah asks him, and it's not even passive-aggressive or rude; that's just how Paul functions. It's a natural law discovered by science.
"This girl named Belén," he says, bringing out his Spanish accent. "Belén Reyes."
Leah fights the urge to roll her eyes. There is only one reason why he's into this Belén, probably: he's embracing his half-Mexican heritage, so he has to put his hands on anything remotely Latina, which is also probably why he moved to Los Angeles, the City of Angels. He's infamously been one to fall in love with beautiful names, regardless if the person is beautiful or not. That's why Leah hardly ever stands a chance with him.
"¿Cómo es ella?" Leah knows Paul gets a kick out of the Spanish language, and she's better at speaking it, whereas he's better at understanding it. He loves hearing her speak Spanish.
"Ella es muy bonita y le gusta bailar."
Leah smiles, not at the importance of what he says, but the choice of vocabulary, and, of course, the way he says it. He's still on the first level of Spanish vocabulary. Belén is very pretty, and she likes to dance. Amazing. Incredible. So cool. As if Leah isn't like that. Paul is totally in it for the name. The only thing he loves more than women is their names.
Rain soaks through Leah's light jacket, lighter shirt, and nearly impermeable exterior personality as she walks close to Paul. She is totally calm except for the brewing underneath her skin that makes her burn up. She's surprised she's not steaming yet.
Paul is so difficult: he's unfixable, and his heart is unbreakable. She can hate him all she wants, but she can't hurt him, even if she tries. What's even worse is that California didn't make him unbreakable; he's been that way for most of his life. All it took was one break from his father, and all of a sudden, he was solid. In two pieces, but two solid pieces. She can't make him better, either, but when he calls out for truth and honesty, he calls for her. He always does. He lives for love—even the bad kind—but when he wants the real deal, he knows what it is and where to find it. His relationship with Leah is so unbalanced; his heart is closed and full, yet hers is open and empty. She'll give everything, though, and he won't. There's nothing she can do about that, either.
"When will you go back to California?" Leah asks. It's a more straightforward and honest question to ask than just How long will you be here? She can also save herself from the further disappointment earlier. Any amount of time he says he'll be here will never, ever be enough. She can't do anything about his strange weather, and it shouldn't have taken her so long to realize that.
"Soon," he says. "Before you'll get used to me again."
"I don't think I could ever get used to you again. Not even if you stay here with me for the rest of my life."
Knowing Paul, her words don't even hurt him. Nothing hurts when your heart is unbreakable.
He looks down at her—and not by much since he's only six feet tall and she's five-foot-ten—with a look of understanding. Hopefully, he understands himself. It shouldn't matter if Leah does. Not to him.
"I guess it's time for me to go, then," he says, not at all out of spite. There isn't a hint of bitterness on his tongue. He's always been that way: pure.
"Okay," Leah responds. "Okay." She's not as solid as she thought she was.
"I'll see you around?" he asks.
She knows damn well she'll see him around, but he won't keep his eye out for her. "Maybe."
He's not headed toward a car or anything—just away from her, just like old times. Just lovely. "I'll be praying," he says.
Leah nods her head up and down. That was all he was about when he wasn't chasing his unrequited dreams, even since childhood: he'll be praying for peace, love, and Leah to find something new, just like he did. He's too cool for her, but not above praying for those who need it.
What a savior.
He turns around completely and begins to walk away, without even a wave in Leah's direction.
"Stay cool," she calls to him, watching the droplets of water drip down the back of his leather jacket.
"The coolest," he responds.