Disclaimer: I do not own the Twilight series. After Breaking Dawn, I'm not sure I want to.
Author's note: This story is not anti-Nessie. It's anti-anti-freewill, like Jacob was until...you know.
Singular Solar Eclipse
Part I: I suspect I might be in trouble when Leah declaring her undying love is the least scary thing coming out of her mouth.
"You didn't have to come."
"Somebody has to make sure you don't abduct baby vamp."
Jacob mentally promises to make Seth miserable tomorrow. Bad enough the pup cancels on him for his calculus tutor, but he doesn't even have the decency to call ahead and spare Jacob the hassle of pulling up in front of the Clearwater house expectantly. If Jacob hadn't honked the horn impatiently, maybe Leah and her pleasant personality wouldn't have come out and yelled at him, just to invite herself along once she caught her breath.
Calling Leah a bitch is redundant. She proudly proclaims she is a bitch in every way, shape and form. It has grown on him, though he hates admitting it, the attitude she effortlessly puts on.
That doesn't mean he doesn't want to just demand she shut up half the time.
"Like I haven't heard that one before."
"Aw, Jake, don't feel bad. Sadly enough, you're not the only one I know who's in love with someone under the age of ten."
The flush climbs over his face and his hands clutch the steering wheel just a little bit tighter. As much as he has bonded with Leah lately, the urge to transform and sink his fangs into her throat is still there. She seems to delight in not making it easier.
"You know it's not like that. I think of Nessie like a little sister."
"I know, kid. Trust me, I do. If I wasn't a hundred percent sure you had less than zero sexual desire for the half-breed I wouldn't be sitting in this car. I would be beating you a pulp, either before or after I called the cops. I haven't decided yet."
Maybe her threat should upset him, but Jacob finds himself strangely grateful. The thought of hurting Nessie repulses him. He would slap the cuffs on himself, if his thoughts towards her ever veered toward inappropriate. Even knowing that they would one day change into something more than sibling affection only serves to disgust him at the moment.
The effects of his imprinting are always obvious, even now. Case in point: right that second Leah Clearwater is sitting not two feet away in short shorts and an old, ripped shirt that he can see down completely. Jacob still has absolutely no interest.
Not that—Leah was always a pain in the ass. But before the imprint, there had been a tiny, well- buried part of him that could acknowledge that she was physically attractive, if nothing else. Now he can barely remember the feeling.
Jacob remembers once asking Quil why he wasn't looking for a girl while he waited for his Claire to grow up. Being a normal sixteen-year-old boy at the time, if one who could turn into a werewolf, but one at the mercy of his y chromosome nonetheless, Jacob had trouble understanding Quil's almost monastic lifestyle as he waited for his soul mate to grow up.
He gets it now. Even seeing Leah naked, a seemingly inevitable sight after a pack meeting, does nothing for him.
He doesn't mind, better for him if Leah knows he's keeping his eyes to himself, but at the same time, it feels sort of strange. One look at a newborn baby and all of a sudden all of the dreams and longings he's ever felt just disappear? The months of wanting Bella Swan just evaporate? It was convenient, letting him keep Bella in his life without ever having to worry about flying into a jealous rage and trying to kill her husband, but he can't help the feeling of loss. All that pining after Bella and...nothing? That sort of sucks.
"And to think I used to make fun of Quil," Jacob sighs.
"You only did it a few times, you bleeding heart. You're actually lucky. I used most of my best lines on him and I would hate to repeat myself."
"I'm sure you'll think of something."
"Lucky you. Just give me a minute."
She winks but lets her attention drift to the window. Apparently mocking his obsession with a child has gotten old.
They sit in silence as the car travels towards the Cullen house. Jake has left Billy's van at the Clearwater's and taken Seth's jeep, in case Nessie wants to go into town. Why the sixteen year old has a car was a mystery to most of La Push. They don't know Edward Cullen hands out cars the way restaurants give out breath mints.
The car easily lets in the warm summer wind as Jacob drives just over the speed limit in case Bella catches him and refuses to let him take her daughter out like she did last time. The summer day is hot and bright—Nessie's parents are stuck inside making it the perfect time for Jacob to visit. The windows are down but even the strong wind does little to cool the two superheated werewolves.
In the passenger seat, Leah has her legs on the dashboard. Her shoes, never a favorite accessory of a werewolf, she kicked off before he had even pulled away from the house. Her bare feet press against the windshield. The wind is blowing her short-cropped hair. She still hasn't gotten over the loss of her long, thick, shiny black mane—as Jacob is unfortunately reminded every time they phase.
Her hand is out the window. She's catching the wind or trying to, and Jacob doesn't have the heart to tell her it can't happen. Maybe it can—it would be just like the female werewolf to do the impossible just to prove him wrong.
Eyes are vacant as she stares. Her face has settled into a melancholy mask. Maybe all this talk of imprints has reminded her of Sam, the man she loved, the wolf she lost to his imprint, her cousin. She's stopped thinking of him as much, ever since she left Sam's pack and joined Jacob's. Even with the groups on friendly terms, her pain has diminished somewhat. Diminished, not disappeared.
Maybe she's just lonely. Ten members of the pack have imprinted. She has watched, felt the perfection of the experience. Maybe she wants it for herself.
Whatever the reason for her sadness, Jacob can't allow it to continue. He likes Leah fiery and, yeah, a little bitchy. Not sulking.
"Why do you even want to come?" he asks. "Finally ready to admit the vampires aren't that bad?"
"Never. Over my blood-drained body."
"I'm sure they'll be happy to oblige. Or maybe not. I bet even your blood is bitter."
"Not funny," she snaps. He grins. It was.
"Maybe I'm just hoping the little bloodsucker will drain you dry."
"Feel free to jump out of the car at any time."
She laughs, a tinkling sound that is strange coming from her powerfully built body. He hates Sam, sometimes. He shouldn't have to watch Leah tell herself that death threats are signs of affection in order to survive.
"Maybe I just get a kick out of watching a five year old walk all over you. I might get to see you wear a princess crown and eye shadow today."
"I'd rather dress in drag and dance a hula."
Leach cackles. "She's got you quoting the Lion King? You are so whipped."
"Leah," he snarls as she laughs again. Finally, an excessively long time later because it wasn't that funny, she answers.
"Someone has to go with you."
"They won't hurt me."
"So I don't need a bodyguard."
"I'm not here to protect you. It's just that if someone didn't come with you...you wouldn't come home. I won't let that happen to Billy."
It's not true, not completely. He would return to La Push...eventually. It's just hard to be apart from Nessie. The others know this and understand. He feels a tiny stab of guilt thinking about his father. It's just so hard to remember that there are other people in the world when he is looking at her. She's the sun and she blinds him, as he circles around her helplessly.
Seeing how her comment upsets him, Leah goes back to being flippant. "Or maybe I just want to see Rosalie."
Jacob almost chokes on his horror. "Ugh. Why?"
"She said she'd show me how to take apart the engine on the Porsche if..."
Leah prattles on, seemingly unaware how little interest he has in Blondie's hobbies. It's scary, this...relationship Leah seems to have struck up with the most unpleasant of the Cullens.
It's not friendship, whatever is between the two of them, but it makes some kind of twisted sense that they would be kindred spirits. No one will be overly surprised if both Rosalie and Leah turn out to be the spawn of some unholy power. It seems to Jacob their camaraderie is built on their unpleasant personalities, their ability to make other women feel self-conscious, and their enduring (if better hidden) dislike of one Bella Sw—Cullen.
It is sort of his fault, this demon partnership. If the rest of the pack hadn't preferred he bring someone along when he visited the Cullens, Leah would never have gone back to the vampire holdout. She never would have had a chance to exchange biting insults with the blonde vampire, until she finally went to the blonde jokes.
When Rosalie complained that the one about brain cells was old, Leah had complained about him not crediting her properly. Under their breath, both women had muttered, "Dog." It was the start of the world's scariest alliance. They still don't like each other much, but they seem to enjoy disliking each other more than they should have.
"You're gossiping with the undead? I didn't realize you were that desperate for friends."
"Ha ha. You're just upset because she can't stand you."
"I don't care if Blondie likes me or not."
"You will when she tries to talk her niece out of falling in love with you."
"She wouldn't." Damn, Blondie. She will—and she'll like it too.
"She won't," Leah finally says. "But if you hurt mini-vamp she wouldn't feel bad about ripping your head off. Literally. After she's ripped off other...important parts of your anatomy, of course."
If he hurts Nessie, Blondie will have to get in line. After he finishes beating himself up, Edward and Bella will get their turn. Even furious parents fail to scare him—the likelihood of him hurting Nessie and still wanting to live is nonexistent.
"Hey, Leah. Are you twelve? Isn't insulting a six year old a little beneath you?"
"We've decided she's six now?"
"We think." Carlisle isn't exactly sure.
"Loch Ness sure is the luckiest kid I know. She's got what? Three, four birthday's a year?"
"Sort of. Stop it with the names, Leah. I'm starting to think you don't like her."
"What? Do you really want me to call her—" Leah pretends to gag. "—Renesmee?"
Jacob cringes. As much as he loves Nessie and Bella that was not Bella's finest moment. Couldn't Edward have stopped that travesty at least? Jacob understood giving the woman you loved everything she wanted, but there should be some limit. This was a child's life that Bella was ruining.
"Nessie," he snaps. "It's two syllables. You should be able to remember."
"Careful, kid. You might hurt yourself. What's your problem?"
"You never have anything good to say about her."
"So? I never have anything good to say."
He smiles, he can't help it, but he tries to cover before Leah sees.
"But you go out of your way to bitch about Nessie." Leah doesn't answer, but Jacob suspects he's on to something. She'll probably bite his head off—she always does—but he asks:
"Is it because she's an imprint?"
"Yeah, because I'm so jealous she now has you following her around constantly." He wants to snap back, but the next thing she says is in a careful tone that makes him pay attention. "I don't not like the imprints. I just...I actually feel sort of sorry for them."
"Liar. Name one that you actually like."
"Claire's officially the sweetest kid I've ever seen." There's a little bit of maternal longing in there that doesn't seem to be going away. "And I like Rachel okay. And Kim is...sort of—that is besides the point. You were right about it."
"I'm sorry? Could you repeat that? I was right?"
"You can't take it back."
"Fine." She shouts a little. "You. Were. Right. Imprinting sucks."
The playful mood ends abruptly. "I said that before I knew what it was."
"Just because you've imprinted doesn't mean you were wrong about how wrong it is," Leah says, like this makes sense. "It does suck to lose your ability to choose."
"It's more like you wouldn't want to choose anything else."
"What you wanted before you've imprinted is suddenly null and void?"
"That's not what I said. It's just that you realize there's a..." he hesitates, not wanting to upset her but he unable to deny how he feels. "It's like there's a better choice that you didn't realize was there."
"Do you really think Rachel who was hell bent at getting out of La Push really wants Paul—lazy, unmotivated, hot-headed, Paul—to be in love with her? Would Quil really have chosen a two year old? Maybe he would have fallen in love with Claire later on, but not after twenty years of actual living, not this servant crap he's doing now. Brady wouldn't have picked Mrs. Johnson—with his lifespan, she's barely going to be around for most of his life.
"You can't even lie and say you would have picked what-the-hell-was-her-mother-thinking over your precious Bella. I was there, Jake, in your damn head the whole time. You loved boring old Bella—really loved her. If it wasn't for the imprinting you would still. Why should it change your mind like that?
"And whatever everybody might think now, Sam did love me. Even he knows that. He was just forced to choose differently."
Leah's sitting up in the seat, face flushed, dark eyes flashing. He lets her take a few deep breaths and pretends he doesn't notice how her hands are shaking, though he slows the car down just in case they have to phase. She gains control over herself in a minute.
"Sorry. It's just..."
When she doesn't say anything, he starts worrying. Her brows furrow together, the crease drawing a harsh line on her face. It's a good thing semi-immortal werewolves don't age or that would be one impressive wrinkle.
"I chose you. And it sucks that I lost that."
"Um...that's touching, Leah. Really...touching."
"That's not what I meant," Leah snaps at his shifting eyes and awkward posture. "Come on, kid, mind out of the gutter. I wasn't talking about choosing you for...that."
"Good. I mean, you're Leah."
"One of the guys," she sighs.
"That's not—" He can feel the very fine line he is walking. In his mind, she really is one of the pack. His friend. His brother. Like the way he feels about Quil and Embry. Except not. She's Leah. His beta, whatever that means. She is different, however, much he doesn't want her to be.
"Leah, could we get back to where you basically declared you're eternal devotion? Because it's the love part that's worrying me."
"Don't flatter yourself, Black. Yeesh. There was no love of any kind, thank you very much. I knew you'd overreact."
"There is no over reacting going on."
"Sure. Sure." Leah spits it out eventually. "If I wasn't going to imprint or be imprinted on or however it works with the freaky female thing, then I should at least be able make some decision about my future. So I did. I chose your pack, even if it meant leaving Sam. I chose you. But it didn't matter what I chose because you had no choice but to pick evil spawn."
"It's not like I did that purposely to screw with you."
"I know. You can't chose your imprint blah blah blah. It's just that I keep having my choices taken away from me and maybe I sort of feel sorry for the girls because they never really got the chance to realize how crap this whole thing is."
"Undying love is crap?"
"Maybe. If you don't get to pick who's doing it." She shakes her head suddenly, as if a bug had flown too close. "Whatever. It doesn't matter."
Two years ago Jacob wouldn't have believed he could have a serious conversation with Leah Clearwater, let alone one where he wanted to make her feel better. Being in a rogue pack together sure could mess up a guy's social life.
"Leah, are you still in La Push because you think you have no other choice?" he asks. She takes courses at a college in Seattle, but still lives at home. It's safest and for the best, but she had wanted to leave and she would never explain why she hadn't.
"Like you could function without me to watch your back."
"Please. I would be fine without you nagging me all the time."
"I do not nag."
"Repeatedly saying the same annoying information that I already know over and over? That's the definition of nagging. Not that I don't appreciate it," he adds, because she doesn't really nag. He's not sure what she does, exactly, but it helps.
When she doesn't answer right away he adds, "Since when did you start caring about what the pack needs?"
"Since the pack started needing me. Where else am I going to get to take care of eighteen idiotic, immature guys twenty-four seven without pay? Why would I give that up?"
The conversation quickly ends when the jeep pulls up in front of the Cullen house. The white building feels more and more like home each time he visits, though he suspects that anywhere Nessie is will feel like home. Leah might disagree, but she's too busy hopping out of the jeep before he's even stopped.
Without pausing to knock, Leah pushes through the door and announces their presence. She always does this; it's her version of testing his food for poison before he eats it. He would be annoyed at the unnecessary precaution, but that would just piss her off and it's hard enough keeping the peace as it is.
Rosalie is the vampire that comes out. It doesn't surprise him not to see Edward or Bella—they usually use his visits to squeeze in some alone time. The part of him that used to love Bella wants to cringe.
Rosalie is smiling on the porch, still bathed in shadows. She always looks so much happier when she's not looking at him. Leah has an identical smirk on her face. Neither woman moves to hug the other as Jacob pulls the keys form the engine. They just stand in the doorway, insulting him in low voices. He knows better than to expect anything different.
He feels a bit like a five year old staring at the Mona Lisa. A part of him knows he's staring at something impressive, but he simply isn't capable of appreciating it.
This is what Leah was talking about, he thinks.
Leah's taller, but not by much. Rosalie has softer curves, but Leah isn't overshadowed the way most other women are. Their features differ greatly but both are straight and strong. They are both predators. There would be no hiding that, even if they wanted to.
Rosalie's smile is more sinister, with her sharper teeth framed by a vibrant red mouth. With her white skin and flawless beauty she could be a famous marble statue from years past. Every part of her looks painstakingly crafted; chipped and sanded until she is flawless. It's the blonde hair that is the most deceptive. All the Cullens, in one of life's strange ironies, look like angels. Rosalie, with her golden tresses, looks like their Queen.
She's otherworldly. An ancient goddess that man has no choice but to fall down and worship. Her eyes promise no mercy, but it makes no difference. It's impossible to resist wanting to put her on a pedestal and fall down in adoration.
Leah tosses her head, like she expects hair to flutter gracefully over her shoulder. It doesn't, but without the black curtain it's impossible to ignore just how vibrant she is. Her eyes burn through everything, her teeth flash. In her face is a promise...you'll like it when she tears you apart.
Rosalie might have fallen from Heaven, but Leah sprang from the earth. Even stationary her body is in motion, ligaments and muscle straining under quivering skin. She grows and moves and every breath she takes is in perfect harmony with the world around her. If she is an animal, she is not an unnatural one. She belongs to the wild.
She is raw. Primitive. Powerful.
Together, they scare the shit out of him.
But he sees neither woman when his beautiful Nessie bursts through the door from behind Rosalie. Just a child, but she blots out everything else around her. There really is no choice about who he would chose to gaze at for eternity. Nothing from this world or the next can compare to the tiny little girl.
Her russet hair is tussled by the wind. It is decorated by funny yellow bows that Jacob knows can be blamed on Rosalie. His girl probably can't stand them at all.
He catches Nessie in his arms and twirls her around, listening to her giggle. Every last bit of tension flows from his body as he inexplicably finds his place in the universe. It makes him forget everything Leah has said—even the parts he agrees with.