Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns all of the rights, unfortunately.

It wasn't the first time I had tried to run away, but it was the first time I had tried to run away since my transformation. It was the first time that I had tried to run away as a wolf and not as a helpless human girl. I was no longer helpless. I was no longer my father's little girl.

I pushed my claws into the raw Earth as Emily's ruined face flashed across my mind. I growled and pushed myself harder. "Leah, I want you to be one of my bridesmaids," I heard. Another growl tore through my body as I pushed myself harder.

Ever since my transformation, I had pushed myself like never before. I didn't want their pity; I didn't need it. I remembered the first words that I heard when I transformed, Sam's voice, Oh, God. Not Leah... I can't handle this...

Thanks for the welcome, Sam.

So I had to prove my emotional strength to the pack. I didn't need Sam. I didn't need his pity. And the fact that they were all boys didn't help. I had to prove that as a woman, I could do anything better than they could. I was the fastest runner, after all. I prided myself on that. I prided myself on knowing that if I wanted to, I could run away and never look back.

That's what I thought, anyway.

I was a little bit past Seattle when I heard Sam's voice. Leah, come home. Where are you going?

None of your business, I growled back, running rhythmically. One, two, three-four. One, two, three-four. One, two, three-four.

Leah, I know what Emily asked you tonight. You really hurt her feelings running out like that.

And she hasn't hurt my feelings? I thought bitterly. I knew, deep down, that Emily had never meant to hurt my feelings. I knew that Emily had wanted Sam and I to end up together, forever, happy. Emily wanted to see me have my own children - something that I now knew would be impossible. I knew that Emily had wanted me to be happy. And, I know that Emily had tried to convince Sam to leave her alone. That's when she was attacked.

I wasn't sorry about Emily's ruined face. I wasn't sorry that he had to deal with the guilt of what he had done to her. I wasn't sorry about any of it. But they should be sorry that they had crossed me. I hadn't always been such a wrench; Sam had ruined me and my personality. I would be cynical until the day that I died. Thanks to this defective gene, that would be a very, very long time from now.

Leah, that's not fair! You know that she has nothing to do with this. She wants you to be happy, although I don't see why she even tries with you. You don't need to be this way.

Shut up, golden boy. Go home.

Not until you come home.

Then your precious Emily will be waiting a long time. I'm never coming back.

It wasn't an empty threat. I thought that I could do it. I didn't know why it mattered if I came back or not. I bet everyone on La Push would be so much happier if I left. My mother was constantly telling me to stop moping around. When it happened, my dad said that it was for the better and that Sam knew what he was doing. Since then, dad had died. The pack wouldn't miss me; they thought I was a whiney little bitch. Perhaps I was, but I earned it. I didn't ask for these battle scars. I didn't ask for any of this.

I just wanted to be me.

Leah, just come home, he begged, his voice fading away. I knew that he wouldn't dare command me to come home. He didn't want me around anyway.

I ran and ran for days, not stopping for anything. No food, no sleep. The boys left me alone, which I was thankful for. And then, something over came me. Not the Alpha - that feeling was different and uncomfortable. This was the knowledge that I was doing the wrong thing and that I had to go right it. Suddenly I found myself running in the opposite direction.

I didn't know why I was doing this. It was stupid and childish. I had snuck back into my house (I didn't want my mother or brother to know I was home) and changed into old clothes. Then, I walked myself to Leah and Sam's, debating the whole way.

It was ten thirty at night when I arrived. I knocked on the door loudly. I knew that they'd be sleeping or making love or something stupid like that. Something that Sam should be doing with me and not her. Something that Sam had promised me lifetimes ago, in the brief moments between our kisses and I love yous. After all, promises were no more than words and words had no more worth than the broken treaties that our tribe and tribes like ours had made before.

"Leah?" Came a perplexed voice as the door opened. It was Emily. She had been sleeping and I had woke her, that was clear. Even in moments like these, when she was in nothing more than a light night gown and half-asleep still, there was no denying that she was beautiful. Emily's ruined face shone in the moonlight as she stared at me with dark eyes.

"I'm sorry that I ran away, Emily. I'll be your bridesmaid, if you still want me," I whispered, wondering if she would forgive me for being the crazy ex.

"Oh, Leah!" Emily exclaimed, pulling me into a hug. Her face lit up with happiness and I smiled grimly. Behind her, in the doorway to the bedroom, I could see Sam shirtless, staring at us as if I were crazy.

"What's going on here?" Sam's voice called as he came closer. I stared at the ground when Emily released me, not wanting to look at Sam's shirtless body. I didn't want all of the memories of our time spent together to come back to me. Not now. Not here. Maybe one day, when I was on my death bed, I would be able to look back on those memories with a sense of bittersweet remembrance, but right now... right now, the pain was far too strong.

"Leah's just agreed to be my bridesmaid," Emily said excitedly, reaching for Sam's hand.

"That's very kind of you, Leah," Sam said.

"Right. Well, I'm going to be going now. Sorry for waking you guys up. See you around, Emily," I said, still having not looked at Sam. I turned on my heel and started to leave down the road.

"Wait, I'll walk you home!" Sam exclaimed, coming after me. He had put on a shirt sometime between when I first saw him and when I left moments later.

"I don't need to be babysat," I said defiantly, crossing my arms over my chest as I walked. I kept my eyes and head forward, not wanting to look at him.

"Leah, don't be this way. I just wanted to say... thank you for making Emily happy. She's been worried sick with you gone," he said, as if I was supposed to care.

"Whatever," I responded, grabbing at my too short hair. I could still remember how it felt to have Sam run his hands through my hair. I was sort-of glad when I changed. That was the first thing about me that went. I didn't need it. Sam didn't call me beautiful anymore. Sam didn't even think I was beautiful anymore. That used to bother me, but now I knew that I could survive. Even if the hole in my heart didn't go away for a long, long time, I would survive.

Some days my happiness was fleeting, other days I could feel a hollow sense of what it used to be. My cynicism was my protector. I didn't have to worry about caring about people when I was too cynical to be loved. I wasn't the same girl that Sam had known, that Sam had loved. Idly, I wondered if it bothered him.

"Leah, I just wanted to say--"

"Shut up, Sam!" I exclaimed, turning to face him for the first time. "Just shut up already! I'm sick and tired of this; I'm doing this for Emily, not for you. Stop thanking me. Stop saying that 'I just wanted to say...' because it's over. I don't need you to pity me, so leave me alone!"

"Leah," Sam said softly, reaching out to pat my hand.

"Don't ever do that again. Go back home to Emily, Sam. Go," I said in a hard voice before I ran down the road towards my house.

For the second time in less than a week, Sam didn't come after me.

A few months later, Jacob Black ran away. The bloodsucker that was marrying Jake's precious Bella had sent a wedding invitation. I understood why he left and I think I was the only one who gave him any breathing room at all, any time to think. I knew that he'd return.

Jacob was old enough to take care of himself. We were both too cynical for this world. We were both too cynical and too hurt and we were both going through practically the same thing, just in different ways. Jacob's leaving woke me up and I realized something that I had never known about myself: I was glad that Sam never came after me.

Sure, my heart hurt because Emily and Sam were together and I couldn't have the happy family that I dreamed of, ever, with anyone... but I also realized that this was my life. I knew that I had to make the best of it and that moping wasn't the best way to cope.

I made a vow to myself. When Jacob came back - because I knew that he, too, would see all the reasons why he had to come back - I would try to be less dreary. I wasn't going to promise that it'd work, but I would try.

Perhaps trying was all that I could do. Perhaps trying was all that any of us could do.

As I transformed, I heard it again, though Sam hadn't meant for me to. He was having a chat with Seth, my younger brother.

I just wish that I could escape Leah.

Yeah, well , I wish I could escape you, Sam, I thought bitterly as I transformed back into myself.

I wouldn't run away this time. Running was cowardly. Running was too easy. I'd face my problems here on La Push, face to face. Just not now. I'd do it when I was able to, when I was ready. It might not be today, but I'd face them eventually. For now, I just wanted to go to First Beach and sun for a little bit.

For now, I just wanted to be the old Leah Clearwater.