Just woke up this morning with the urge to write about Leah. Also wanted to see how I did writing a point of view that doesn't belong to Edward, Bella or my O.C., Elisa. This is basically just rambling off the top of my head so I hope it came out OK.

It's a one-shot, chockful of Breaking Dawn spoilers. It's basically in canon with Breaking Dawn; it covers Leah's decision to leave her pack and join Jacob. I did tweak it a bit though...it doesn't completely follow what Leah tells Jacob happened. Hope you all enjoy...reviews very much welcome. :)

Independence Day

My mother was sobbing, sitting at the scratched dining room table, and the sound filled me with a mixture of heartache and annoyance. It was strange, awkward, watching her be vulnerable on this level. Normally, she was like me, my mother. Always the strong exterior, the poker face...rarely did she let anyone see her grief. Even when my father died she saved her tears for behind closed doors and the darkest hours between midnight and dawn when we weren't supposed to hear her. And now, here she was, red-eyed, blotchy, nose running, eyes streaming, falling apart as Billy held her hand, his wheelchair taking up half the tiny dining room, and Sam and I looked on from the doorway.

Mixed in with the pain I felt for her was a hiss of impatience. All this hand wringing because my stubborn, stupid, Jacob worshipping, blood-sucker befriending baby brother had decided to leave the flock and throw his lot in with the outcast? She had to know he was going to be OK. Jacob would take care of him - he'd be surprised to hear it, but I had utter faith that he'd lay down his own life before he let anything happen to Seth. And besides, those parasites liked my little brother...they were probably throwing him a welcome party even as we spoke.

"How could you let this happen?" My mother suddenly demanded. For the tiniest second I felt a bit of a thrill that she was going to rake Sam over the coals for letting her baby defect, until I realized her eyes were locked on me.

"Excuse me?" I blurted out. "How could I let this happen? How was I supposed to stop it? I'm not the Alpha; I couldn't order Seth to stay! Plus I didn't even know that he could just leave like that!"

"None of us knew." Sam took over now, his voice pacifying, even as his hollow eyes burned with the depth of his heartache over his broken pack. "I'm so sorry, Sue. I thought only Jacob would be able to break off like that. I didn't realize... I should have done more...if I had known I could have - " He stopped, shaking his head.

"I understand, Sam. You did your best." Mom wiped her eyes, taking a deep breath. She would have to go and be all understanding towards him, when it was his high-handedness that drove Seth away. Meanwhile, she glared at me like I'd committed some kind of crime and all I'd done was have the misfortune to be there.

Sam turned to me. "Leah, I know you probably want to be with your mom at a time like this, but we need you. Everyone's got to be out full force patrolling tonight. As soon as possible, we'll need to re-group and decide what our next move is."

I shrugged and moved towards the door. "'Fine. Let's go."

Sam hesitated. "I need to uh...I need to go home first, let Emily know what's going on. I don't want her to worry any more than is necessary."

Whatever, Sam. I can't stay with my mother but when it comes to you, let's just put everything on hold; forget about Jacob and Seth, destroying the monster spawn that Bella is carrying, and the impending vampire/werewolf war over it. God forbid your precious Emily be forced to endure a single second of strife.

I was glad Sam couldn't hear my thoughts at the moment. Not that I shied away from letting any of the pack experience every single bit of my bitterness, but this smacked of a level of pettiness that was low, even for me. My cousin had endured more than her share of strife through all this. Emily may have gotten Sam, she may have gotten the life that I was supposed to be living, but we all knew exactly how much she'd suffered for it. Despite everything, I felt sick, guilty even, every time I saw her scarred face. Maybe if I could have been more generous, more self sacrificing, not so devastated by Sam's love for her, she wouldn't have resisted him so hard. Maybe it never would have had to happen. God, it sucked that I had to feel crappy about her pain instead of just hating her for causing mine.

Sucked even more that I still kind of hated her anyway.

I looked up to see Sam watching me. His face held that irritatingly familiar mixture of pity and guilt, the one it wore so often that he should get a patent for it. I was so sick of seeing that look. Sometimes I dreamed about clawing it off of him, giving him some scars to match his fiancee's. Undoubtedly though, he'd just find a way to blame himself for that too and it would suck all the enjoyment out of the whole thing.

"What are you waiting for?" I snapped at him. "Go do whatever you have to do. I don't need an escort."

Sam sighed and headed towards the door with a nod for my mother and Billy, and then was gone.

I turned back to the kitchen table to see Mom was still staring at me.

"What now?" I demanded. She seriously wasn't going to start lecturing me about my attitude towards Sam again, not tonight of all nights, was she?

"What now?" Mom's face turned purple with the effort to control herself - I knew it was only Billy's presence that was keeping her from completely melting down. "Seth is out there, alone! You have to go after him, Leah! He's your little brother. You should have taken better care of him. It's your responsibility more than any of theirs! " Her voice was hoarse. "You have to bring him back."

"Sue, think about what you're saying." Billy objected before I could speak. "It isn't any safer for Leah to go after Seth on her own then it was for Seth to go after Jacob!"

Mom frowned for a few moments, clearly looking for a way to argue, but what could she say, really? The truth? That she'd happily sacrifice me in the quest to get her baby boy back? No, of course she'd never say that because it would be admitting out loud something that she was in total denial about. Like everyone didn't know already that she preferred Seth to me, always had. My father had too, when he was still alive. No wonder I had let my whole world revolve around Sam when we were together. The rush it gave me to be with him, the only person who ever wanted me above anyone else, was intoxicating. I'd been hooked on his passion, his acceptance of me; had never realized how dangerous the addiction was until the day I lost my fix forever.

My night was shitty enough as it was; I didn't want to stick around waiting for Mom to drum up another reason for me to go and get myself killed. I spun around and headed for the door. "Gotta go, Mom. I don't know when I'll be home."

"Leah!" Mom stood up from the table and I turned back to her with a resigned sigh, waiting for her to tear into me once more.

I couldn't blame her, really. I know how it must have seemed to her, like I didn't care at all that Seth was gone. I hesitated a moment. For once, I wished my ability to be comforting, to say the right thing, hadn't dried up along with all my dreams. "Mom...look, I'll do what I can. You know, for Seth."

She nodded, her lips pressed firmly together, whether from disapproval or to keep more tears back, I didn't know. I went out the door without another glance back.

Once outside, I didn't head towards the forest to phase right away. Instead, I walked around the back of the house, so neither of them would see me if they happened to glance out the window, and leaned against the dirty whitewashed wood. I needed this, just a few minutes to myself to think about all the new ways in which my life sucked even more now. The pack was torn. Jacob was gone. My brother was gone. No matter what anyone thought, I would grieve for them both. Jacob was the only one who didn't pity me anymore, who was never afraid to tell me to go to hell. The only one who had ever come close to understanding the pain that I had to live with every day. I was going to miss that. And Seth...what was I going to do without Seth? We weren't close like we had once been, and it didn't take a genius to figure out whose fault that was, but I needed him. Didn't the stupid kid realize that? That he was the only one I could still count on, the one person in this world who loved me unconditionally, no matter what? How could he abandon us for Jake's lovestricken mission of mercy? How could he just leave me behind like I was nothing to him?

Impatiently, I wiped away the tears that had leaked from beneath my closed lids. I didn't want to be blubbering right before I went on patrol; it would be just about impossible not to think about and the last thing I needed was more cloying pity from the others. It wasn't hard to turn my thoughts away; I thought now about everything had happened, the reason why our pack had fractured in the first place. The same reason why pretty much anything went wrong around here these days. It could all be summed up in two words: Bella Swan. Or Cullen. Like I cared what name she was going by now. All I cared about was that that insipid, pale faced drama queen had managed yet again to bring total disaster down on our heads. Leave it to her to get knocked up with some life sucking parasite. And then Jacob, who had been just fine with throwing down with the Cullens over her when he thought she'd become a vampire did a complete 180 and decided she and her demon spawn had to be protected. From us. It just freaking figured.

So now we were divided. And maybe we wouldn't fight, at least not now, but it was inevitable, wasn't it? From what Jacob had shown us, it wouldn't be long before the thing was completely baked and ready to come out. We would have to act soon, and when we did, there would be a battle the likes of which our ancestors had never imagined, brother against brother.

Brother against sister.

I didn't want to be part of this. I didn't want to fight my brother. I didn't want to fight Jacob. I didn't even want to kill Bella and her evil, mutant spawn.

I stopped, shocked in place for a minute by that realization. Wait a second...I didn't? Seriously? I hated Bella Swan . And despite the fact that I really wasn't down with killing humans, I still should be jumping at the chance to make her whining, manipulative mouth shut. the. hell. up. for all of eternity. And, thanks to Sam, I'd get a total pass on having to feel guilty about it too. In fact, for once, I'd probably be the hero of the pack if I was the one who took her out and spared the rest of them from having to face Jacob afterwards. My own mother might even be proud of me. So why was I not wanting to make the most of this golden opportunity?

I stayed there for a moment, mulling it over, ignoring the faint howls from the forest telling me to hurry up. Did I not want to kill Bella because Seth liked her? Because it would destroy Jacob? Well...that was a part of it, I had to admit. But there was more...I didn't want to kill Bella because...oh good Lord...I felt kinda bad for her. Of all the rotten luck, to be pregnant with some impossible, unnatural leech baby. Worse to love it, to want to protect it, especially when that went against all that was rational. When everyone you knew was against you. I knew what it was like to love someone...something you shouldn't. I definitely knew how impossible it was to stop. If I was in her shoes, what would I do? Did I even have to ask? I'd fight...I'd fight like hell for my child. No matter what the consequences.

Gah, what the hell was I thinking? I could never be in her shoes. What a disgusting turn of events. That miserable excuse for a human being was going to unleash a demon baby on the whole town and I was feeling all kinds of empathetic towards her. This had to be some kind of sick cosmic joke. Besides, I didn't get a choice. I was part of the pack. I would end up doing what Sam wanted. Whether I liked it or not, my will was his.

I didn't want to think about this anymore...none of it. I just wanted to run, and forget. Too bad I'd have to listen to the rest of them going on about it all night long.

I moved away from the wall, and then I headed for the trees. As soon as I was out of sight I stripped down as fast as possible, bundling my clothes into the small pouch and attaching it to my leg. With a sigh, I straightened up and then I was running, and as I ran I felt it...the heat, starting from my toes, rushing through my body, instinct taking over, and then it exploded out of me, changing me, and I was on all fours, flying.

Voices immediately echoed in my brain, irritated questions about where I'd been, the continuation of conversations that had already been going before I'd joined them, whispers and quiet despair over our lost members. I tried to block it all out but Sam's voice cut across them all, burning into me, impossible to ignore.

We were starting to worry, Leah. Is everything ok?

Fine. I bit back what I really wanted to say. I was just...thinking.

No one asked what I was thinking about - none of them wanted to know. As if they had any option other than to hear it anyway. And since I couldn't get them out of my head, I might as well make them most of it, right?

I was thinking about...choices. And free will. And belonging. And how quickly things can change. How one minute you can have someone, and the next they're gone. No warning, no transition, just gone. They were yours and then not yours a second later. Funny how that works.

Oh, not this again! I could hear the collective groan and I smiled to myself.

Oh yes, this again. Let me tell you a story, boys... Maybe this time though, it's about something else. Maybe this time, I'll tweak the ending. Wouldn't want to get too predictable.

More mental groaning, pleas for me to shut up and just concentrate on the circuit I was supposed to be making. I ignored them as I let the images come to me.

The memories took me back, took us all back...

To my house, such a different place then. A refuge, walls full of love, life, happy memories.

We were walking through the front door. Her arm was linked in mine and we were laughing...laughing, can you believe it? Five seconds before my world was going to be obliterated and I was laughing...

Sam was waiting, not for her, but for me. I remember it all, every detail, the way his head snapped up at the sound of the door opening, the way his eyes looked for me. I remember every second of that final look, the love in his eyes that was mine alone. He was happy I was home...he was standing up, arms reaching for me...

And then I spoke the words that doomed me. "Sam, this is Emily."

How could it happen so fast? A universe should not be able to be destroyed in less than a second. A love should not be able to be forgotten in less than a heartbeat. His eyes...one moment they were the eyes of my Sam, then they looked away, fastened on to her, and when he finally looked at me again, it was like he was seeing a stranger...

I could feel his pain as I shook off the memory. Any other time I might have enjoyed it but I had other things on my mind.

I want you to tell me, Sam. Who do you belong to? Whose are you? Not mine...right? Never mine again. And yet I've always been yours. Not only the pathetic ex that can't stop loving you, but your flunky, at your beck and call, here to do your bidding. Deep down, does that give you some kind of thrill, a little kick, much as you might deny it? The fact that you got her and you never had to lose me either?

The others were yelling at me now, screaming at me to stop it, that this wasnt' the time, but he was silent. He couldn't answer. And it was fine. I didn't need his response. I didn't need anything from him.

Just say it, Sam. Who do I belong to? Whose am I?

Still no answer. He was so sure he already knew.

No. Not yours. Not anymore.

He realized it just a fraction of a second too late...the cords that bound us together had already begun to snap. I felt his shock and horror with a deep sense of gloating satisfaction.

Leah...NO!

And then they were gone. All of them. Finally, there was nothing but blessed silence. And freedom.

The silence wouldn't hold though. I could hear the howls echoing through the woods, the snap of branches as they turned, running, seeking me out, trying to stop me. I whirled and began to run, faster than I ever had before. hearing them fall away, unable to catch up.

And as I ran, I imagined Jacob's face when he saw me, when he realized I had come to join him.

There was just no part of this that wasn't going to be fun.

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A/N EDIT 9/30:

I am really grateful for the nomination of this story in the Breaking Dawn rounds of The Twilight Awards. It's my first nomination for a fanfiction award so THANK YOU so much!

And I have a new Leah one-shot coming out soon called A Day Without Rain. It's somewhat of a follow up to this one but it can also stand alone, so I won't be releasing it as a new chapter of this story, but as a new one-shot story.

Excerpt from A Day Without Rain:

For one strange second, I almost wanted to laugh. Well, at least life was consistent. As soon as the pain got more bearable, as soon as I dragged myself to my feet, it threw something at me to knock me down once more. I could count on that more than I could count on the rain returning to Forks.

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Original A/N

Leah was fun to write - I may have to revisit her in the future.

I cribbed the last line from Cordelia on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Damn, I miss that show.

Reviews are always appreciated.