My sincere apologies for having kept you all waiting so long. This chapter has been in my head since about halfway through Endless Daylight (think last August) so of course it was the hardest to write. You have no idea how many times it's been completely rewritten. Yes, that's right, as soon as I got it decent, my laptop died and I had to start again. Well, it's probably better because of that.
And again, thank you for your patience and for not giving up on me!
I know it's a bit strange to finally get the end of the story a good two months or more after the climax, but there you have it. Also, I have tried to answer all the questions you had, which was easy, since many of them were sort of the point of this chapter. However, a few are meant to be left open. For example, I like to see Embry's feelings for Leah as quite ambiguous. He's not exactly in love with her, but he's learned to respect her. Nor is it entirely innocent.
Three weeks after the fight, everything changes. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Calm down Leah, tell it properly.
It's a cliché to say that sometimes things don't turn out how you plan them. It's the sort of thing I'd expect Bella to say, something that I'd have to bite my tongue from keeping myself from responding, "Golly! I had no idea!" It's also the kind of thing I'd expect to be true of Bella's life—one day she's the new girl in Forks, the next she's married to a vampire, is immortal herself, and has a kid with crazyass mental powers.
In Bella's case, everything turned out perfect. And then there's me. One day I'm happy with my darling, the next he's a freaking Alpha and he breaks my heart because of imprinting. And then I'm watching my father be buried.
Oh, right. I'm talking about Sam here.
Jacob, well, that is going to take some explanation. That's my point. Bella's the one who gets the happily-ever-after, right? So where did mine come from?
We couldn't stay at the Cullens' house forever, even though we both wanted to. I watched him lounge on their leather sofas, his posture as horrible as ever, but his face looking strangely older, while my brother, Captain Food Vacuum himself, scomped down enough food to feed a family. I was sitting between Alice and Rosalie. Jake was next to Seth who was next to Edward. It felt oddly right in some horribly wrong way. What would Quil Senior have said?
I didn't want to leave, but we had to, eventually. La Push was waiting for its Alpha.
Nothing much changed on the Rez, expect to the wolves. Jake, as promised, made his first official action to lift the command of silence, so now all the wolves can tell their parents. Embry's mother may finally understand his behavior as a teenager. Not that it really matters anymore, since almost no one phases accidentally these days, and certainly no one in our pack, er….. you know, the five of us that used to be a pack.
So everything was great, I guess. Except not really, because we were all still in transition. Sam's boys were still licking their wounds, proverbially and literally. For three weeks.
Three weeks. That's how long Jake was Alpha of La Push for. But I'm not to that part of my story yet. Hang on, let me describe it.
Three weeks after the fight, I finally saw Sam. He'd been at home, with Emily and the twins. I was heading over to the Cullens' place to help them pack or something. I don't know. Nessie invited me. I thought at the time that it was just an excuse for her to quiz me about what middle school is like. Her plan was to enroll as an 8th grader. Sure, she looks a bit too young to be in 8th grade, but girls at that age can look older or younger. And that way, she'll have a good five years in wherever they've decided to go. Wait, somewhere in Oregon, Edward told me. Sounded dull to me, but then again, I guess someplace warm like California was out of the question ("look, mom! I sparkle!")
Poor kid was desperate to fit in at school. She wanted to be a "regular human being," as she kept telling me. I told her that the first thing she should do is stop saying "regular human being."
Her mom was no help, Mrs. Queen of "I don't fit in, which is actually my own fault because I never socialize blah blah." Ahem. And her dad and aunts and uncles…. Well, I guess being leeches sort of limited their prospects for socializing.
Anyway, three weeks of Jacob being Alpha, of living in my mom's old house, of falling asleep in his arms every night and waking up pressed against him every morning. And then, there I was, walking along toward the woods, minding my own business, when I saw Sam through the fog that clung to the road.
"Leah!" he said. Not "Lee Lee."
I stopped and looked at him. He had no marks left from what Jake did to him. Of course not, why would he? Wolves heal quickly. Still, it seemed odd. But then I looked at him more closely and realized he had changed, like Jake had changed. I can't describe it now, and I certainly couldn't then. But he looked…
Well, maybe it was the whole "fatherhood" thing.
"How are you?" he asked, and unlike about every conversation we'd had since I phased the first time, he didn't sound patronizing.
"Yeah, I'm alright, you?"
He smiled and I couldn't decide if he seemed dead or happy. Sounds crazy, I know. But he was lacking his usual… um, fanaticism. He looked like a normal person.
"Wanna meet them?"
"My sons. Do you want to meet my sons?" And he smiled again and I knew, without a doubt, that Sam didn't' look dead. He just looked tired. And he was the happiest I had ever seen him. Ever.
I followed him home. For so long, before I had Jacob, I thought of Emily's house as everything I should have had. But now that it's their house, and more importantly, now that I don't care, it just seemed surreal. Like the first time you see your fourth grade teacher at the grocery store and realize she has a life outside of teaching you cursive, and you sort of thing oh. right. I should have known that. Sam and Emily's house was like that. It seemed like this alternate universe where people my age were adults.
One look at the living room and Sam wasn't my ex-boyfriend anymore. And he wasn't the ex-Alpha, either. He was a husband to Emily and a father to his sons. I followed him to their bedroom, where a crib had been set up for the boys. Emily was there, holding one while his brother napped.
The look that passed between Sam and Emily wasn't nauseating, although it should have been. Whatever spell had come over me walking into Sam's house must have hit me pretty hard if them staring at each other like that didn't make me feel ill. Wordlessly, Sam picked up the sleeping baby and handed it to me.
To me. The infertile girl with zero baby experience. I don't think torturing Seth as an infant qualifies me to hold Sam's kid… what was he thinking? I could drop the thing.
But I didn't. The baby stirred when I took it from Sam and looked at me. "That's Ephraim," Sam said quietly. He nodded with his head toward the baby Emily was holding, "and that's Levi."
I paused. "You named your kids after my great-grandfathers?"
He smiled and Emily laughed softly. "Yeah. You know, wolf names. Anyway , Levi was my ancestor, too."
"I noticed," I said dryly.
"And we thought," Emily started, and stopped, and started again, speaking slowly, "we thought that Ephraim was a good name. We wanted La Push to have an Ephraim and a Levi who are brothers. Who won't tear us all apart."
I heard what she wasn't saying. That Ephraim was Jake's ancestor, and that Jake and Sam were passed their...power-struggle? Their whatever the hell it was that made them both crazy.
We were all quiet a moment, and then Sam said, "do you want to hold Levi?"
"Uh, okay," I said, and we traded infants. There was another pause, and I became aware that Sam and Emily were looking at me kind of oddly.
"You alright?" Emily asked kindly.
"…..yeah," I said, trying to figure out what they were talking about. When people ask me that, it makes me wonder why I shouldn't be okay. I mean, what did they know that I didn't?
"Oh." Emily said, and laughed. "It's going to sound really stupid now. It's just, Sam and I thought… we wondered if you might…imprint on one of the twins."
To my credit, I did not drop the baby. But I did nearly choke on my own tongue.
"Sorry to disappoint," I managed to squeak out.
Neither of them seemed to be as uncomfortable as I was. Is that what they thought I needed? Just to imprint, and then everything would be okay. My face must have betrayed me.
"Lee Lee," Sam said, of course he said it, he can't give up that nickname for the life of him. But the way he said it... how a man talks to his sister. "We aren't judging you. It's not that we don't want you to be with Jacob. It's just... there'd me symmetry to it, wouldn't there?"
Symmetry. Yes. I'd imprint on the son of the man who broke my heart, just as Jake had imprinted on the daughter of the woman who'd broken his.
And in that instant, I swear to god, everything suddenly made sense. I realized what I had to do, what Jake had to do. How things had to be and why everything else was wrong.
"Do you love your sons?" I asked Sam.
"Yes!" He looked aghast that I had to ask. Emily was looking from him to me and back. I think she knew I'd figured something out.
"More than you love the Tribe?"
"....it's not the same..."
"Sam, answer the question," I pressed, "do you love your sons more than you love the Tribe?"
He sort of stood there with is mouth open, and then finally, "My sons are part of the Tribe."
"Yeah, okay, I'll take that as a yes. Thank you. I have to go now." I handed Levi back to Sam and left the Uleys' house as quickly as I could without openly running.
I haven't seen Sam since, and that was over a year ago.
Symmetry. That was the problem. Jake as Alpha, Sam as beta, just like their great-grandfathers were. The Cullens leave, just like they did before. Then in a few generations they come back. Sam and Jake and I are all long dead. Sam's great-grandsons, descended from his twins, don't like the Cold Ones, because they've heard the old stories, but they don't know, because they aren't wolves yet. And then, suddenly, they are, because the Cullens are back.
I ran to find Jacob. Nessie and her packing could wait.
I remember running into the room we shared, and practically shouting at him in the passion of my realization.
"You don't love Nessie like Sam loves Emily. You love her like Sam loves his sons."
He just stared at me, and I ran to him and threw my arms around his shoulders, clinging to him. "Jake, we don't belong here. Sam does. He has his sons to think of now, and he's not like how he used to be. He owes the life of the three people he loves most in the world to Dr Cullen, and he won't forget it. And... Levi and Ephriam deserve to never have to worry about protecting the Tribe from the Cold Ones."
"Leah," he said, like he wasn't entirely following me, "The Cullens are leaving. Sam's sons won't phase."
"But their sons, or their grandsons, or their daughters, might. Don't you see? We don't belong here, either of us. I'm the only one of my kind, and you, you've imprinted on a vampire half-breed. Jake, Sam's....Sam's probably the best thing for La Push right now."
He didn't say anything. Just looked at me.
"I know he's not the proper Alpha," I started, because I didn't want Jake to think that's what I was saying, "I know you are. But..."
And he kissed me. I would have said so many things. I would have explained it all to him, said that when the Cullens came back one day, we'd be there, too. Or else we'd help make sure the Cullens never came back, so no teenagers at La Push would ever have to worry about what was happening to them. But whatever happened, we'd be there. Our destinies belonged to the Cullens, because Jake had imprinted on Nessie, because Rosalie understood me, and because we were so clearly different from everyone else on the Rez...
"Leah, I love you." He said, between kisses.
Along the Oregon coast is a small town. Small, but big enough to have a college. That's where Jake and I live now. We go to school. He has no idea what he wants to major in, but he has plenty of time to figure it out. I keep taking classes in Indigenous Peoples Studies and Women's Studies.
No one thinks there's anything odd about us. We've sort of made casual friends with people. Normal people, I mean. Seth keeps driving down to visit, even though it takes about a day to get down here. I think he's going to move down soon. Mom would be happy if he went to school. Embry, too, might come, but right now he's staying with Quil, who would never leave Claire. Seth, between eating all the food in our place and worshipping Jake, tells us that things at the Rez are going well. No one runs patrols any more. The Cullens are gone, and Sam is much less of a zealot. Seth said it was because he knew he was only beta and that if he got out of line Jake would come home and smack him down.
Jake and I know it's because of his new family.
I talked to my mom on the phone yesterday. She's happy. Things at the Rez are so calm now. Tomorrow, Seth's driving down to visit, again. Embry is coming with him, but he's probably going to try very hard to avoid the leeches. Oh, right, the leeches. Yeah, they're here too.
As far as anyone here knows, Jake and I are just two college students. Maybe early twenties, maybe mid twenties. We rent a small duplex. It's owned by the new doctor in town and his wife. They moved here just before we did, and everyone seems to like them. The doctor works in the hospital here and his wife just got hired to be the art teacher at the middle school. They have us over for dinner a lot, and I am pretty sure anyone who is nosy enough to notice thinks its sweet. The young-looking married couple being so friendly toward the students who rent their property. (In case you were wondering, no one eats dinner at the dinner parties. Well, sometimes they make some food for Jake and I and Nessie.)
The other half of the duplex just got rented last month. To another young couple who just came back from their honeymoon. In Paris. Luckily, we get along with our neighbors really well. They can be intimidating to other people at first, but most who meet them realize that they are friends with us, and immediately think they are more normal. If they had any suspicion that there was something wrong, they push it out of their minds. Just imagining the cold glint to their skin.
Still, if anyone saw the scars running up Emmett's chest and back, they might go back to thinking he's terrifying.
And then there's Nessie. She's as happy as I can imagine anyone being. In 8th grade, and making friends much more easily than her mother ever did. She's even invited some of her friends home before.
A lot of people already know Nessie's story. Or rather, her "story." The people she calls her parents are, quite obviously, way too young to be her real parents. Her parents died a few years ago, and since then she's been with her mother's brother, Edward, and his young wife, who is also a student at the same college as me and Jake. So no one thinks its odd we know them, either. Edward doesn't go to school, because he has to work.
In a bookstore. That he owns. It sells used books, most of which are crumbling. And it smells like old books in there, too. It's very... well, sort of where you'd expect undercover vampires to hang out. It's called "The Swan." Which is sort of vomit-inducing, if you ask me.
There's an apartment above where he lives with Bella and Nessie. I guess he's had a lot of years to read during (Rose told me he used to read a lot before he met Bella). It was Nessie's idea, actually, and it does help the cover story. At Alice's insistence, he started wearing fake glasses. Those, along with him working, make him seem older. He can pass for early twenties, maybe 24. That helps explain Nessie, and also why he's married. No one would entrust a child to a seventeen year old boy, after all.
Frankly, I think their cover stories this time around are much better than all pretending to be in high school. Rosalie and Alice told me that pretending to be students meant they could stay in one town longer, but since they have Nessie now, they don't need it. Ha, I'd love to see Bella and Edward posing as high school students with a daughter.
Emmett works at the bookstore, which means it's worth going just for the comedy value. It also gives him and Rosalie a reason for being over there a lot. And since we're their neighbors, well, see, it all folds in on itself. Rosalie is still trying to figure out what to do. She says she's sick of doing high school and college over and over.
Hey, it's better than us all living together in a giant....monster compound. That was what Bella thought we'd do, I think.
Nessie spends a lot of time at our place, as well. Convenient that Jake and I share a backyard with Rosalie and Emmett. Bella and Edward are over a lot, too, and yes, Edward's always harassing us about getting married. Esme and Carlisle come, too. (My mom and Charlie came out to visit last year for Christmas. It was pretty amazing. Seth came along. I think Charlie is happier now that he finally knows the truth. And has had time to adjust. And has my mom.)
You're probably wondering about Alice and Jasper. They've been here, but they've gone again. I think they're just taking some time to enjoy each other. Alice and I are close, not as close as I am with Rosalie, but close. Still, she hasn't told me every thought that crosses her mind. But every month or so they drop by. Unnoticed by everyone but us. Although, now that Jasper's twin sister is our neighbor, I think they might stay longer, since a cover story is already in place. Maybe they can rent somewhere to live from our landlords. Alice talks about going and getting another degree in fashion design. I kind of want her to open a little boutique shop, personally, but maybe that's just me.
I have a feeling Jasper's enjoying travelling where every they are going. Of course, they were at Rosalie and Emmett's wedding in Paris.
As I said, Nessie is so happy now. She's starting to feel normal. Have her own life experiences, instead of just reading about them.
I guess she gets a happy ending, too.
And I still get to fall asleep in Jake's arms every night. He whispers he loves me as I fall asleep, and we both know that the other has no regrets. We are both their for Nessie. And the Cullens are there for us.
"Are you going to tell her?" my wife asks, leaning over my shoulder and looking at the papers on my desk.
"No, dear," I say, taking her hand and kissing it. "She's young. They're both young. They have got plenty of time to worry about that later."
My wife is quiet, but I know what she's thinking. That she had a child when she was younger than they are now. But, to use a cliché, times are different now. And neither of them seems ready to be a parent. "In any case, love," I tell her, "they'd have to stop phasing first."
"Surely just she would?"
"Can you imagine Leah not phasing if Jacob still were? For one thing, she'd start aging and he wouldn't…"
"Oh, yes, it's terrible when you're with a younger man!" my wife teases. I could remind her that Leah's already older than Jacob, or that technically, I'm older than my wife, having been born centuries earlier.
"I still think you might want to mention it to them," she insists, returning to the topic of our discussion. "Otherwise they're in for a rather large surprise if they ever do stop phasing."
"I somehow think Jacob will better handle that particular 'surprise' than did Edward."
Esme has come to lean against my desk now, so I can see that she smiles when I say that.
"Wouldn't it be lovely if they had a daughter, though?' she asks. "One with Leah's genes? Do you think her daughter would be able to phase?" she's put this question to me about a dozen times now. And every time I've told her the tests I ran on Leah weren't that detailed… I'd probably have to extract eggs from her to tell that kind of information, and that procedure in and of itself might cause complications that decrease her chance of conceiving.
"I don't know. I thought you'd root for a boy…" I say it as a joke. My wife still wants to see Nessie end up with Nahuel. I suppose as grandparents its none of our business whom she marries, but I think we'd all like to hope it will be someone as quirky and unique as our little angel (for all that she hates being called that!).
"No, that's you, dear," she teases back, but she's right. I would like to see it, one day. Although, from everything I know of Jacob's father, I don't think he'd approve of uniting our bloodlines. Nor, I hazard to guess, would old Ephraim have signed the treaty with me so long ago if he'd known that one day I'd entertain such an idea.
*sigh* The end.
When I started writing this in my head last August, there were lots of moments of the Cullens and Leah and Jake spending time together in their new locale. On about the second or third draft, those scenes went out. For one thing, some of it had already happened earlier in this fic. For another, I didn't think it really fit with the theme of Leah closing up a certain part of her life.
However, way back when I had just barely posted the chapter before this one, I had a sudden flash of what my next Twilight fanfic is going to be. It's about Emmett. And it's really a humor and not at all serious. So stay tuned for more Culleny-interacting goodness.
Lastly, Lady Adrienne Wolfe Gentry pointed out a very obvious error. Yeah, so Emmett is also from the South. Uh huh. And I have no way of fixing that right now, so I am just going to own up and say, yeah, I am massively stupid. In my Emmett story, I will not make that mistake. (The Emmett story is because I seem to have made about 100 factual errors about Emmett over the course of writing this story. So rather than read the books again to figure him out... I'm doing a fanfic.)