Disclaimer: I own nothing, except too much useless crap, which does not include Twilight or any of its characters.


"And I thought you were different."

And she thought he hadn't heard her.

The incessant repetition of her words, jammed on replay, circling in his head only intensified his anger. He felt a surge of fury rise inside him. He had to let it out somehow. He clenched his fist and considered punching the door, imagining it was his own face. Like a hole in his already rickety bedroom door that would be any use. But he still felt irascible. Weirdly enough, he wasn't even phasing naturally. Maybe it was because all his other emotions were diluting his raw, animalistic rage. Confusion played a significant part. As well as apprehension, tension, guilt, shame, embarrassment, isolation, angst, exasperation… too many emotions for your average guy to cope with – except Jacob. Because he was different. Apparently. Leah had thought so. Before.

Jacob crashed onto his un-made bed and planted his face into his pillow. Was the intricate web that was his life ever going to untangle? Chances were, probably not. Sure, he had faced unrequited love for himself; so many times it was embarrassing. But he never thought it could work in reverse, that he could ever hurt someone else in that relentless way. The worst part was that it wasn't even truly unrequited because he actually liked Leah. Whether he loved her or not was a different matter entirely. Though, he knew he really liked her. A lot. More than a friend, that fact was blatant. Ever since the day she'd join his pitiful three-wolf pack he knew they weren't ever going to be just friends. It wasn't just some Alpha-Beta bond either, though that probably just added more fuel to their already blazing fire. It was different. To rephrase Leah's words, she was different from any other girl he had known. There was never going to be another Leah Clearwater. He understood her. She understood him. It wasn't effortless like Bella's friendship had been, because Leah could be a hand full at times. But once they did click, it was definitely worth the effort. He could relate to her on a totally superior level to anyone else. He could be honest with her, not like with Bella. They knew each other back to front. He knew how to handle her better than anyone else. Like when she got mad at him he knew how to make her laugh, even when she'd burst a blood vessel trying very hard not to. And when he sensed her slipping back into her underlying state of depression that lingered under her rebellious pretense, he'd hold her hand, stroke her arm, sweep a lock of hair away from her face, anything to distract her from her ache.

Or maybe it was also all those little quirks of hers, all those unique aspects about her that hooked him. Like the way she played games with him, challenged him at any chance she got. Her cliff diving episode could classify as a perfect exhibit. And seeing her wade out of the water, rushing over to meet him, her dress entirely soaked through so that the translucent fabric hugged her skin, water droplets chasing those remarkable curves of her athletic, smooth, flawless body… the most breath-taking sight he had ever seen. She reminded him of a wild, untamed beauty, a goddess of the ocean. He loved how wild and unpredictable she was. When he was with her, he had no idea what she would do next or what absurd idea might ignite in her hectic mind. For all he knew he might end up on an airbus to Cuba on a regular day out with Leah.

He thought it impossible, but Leah was even more attractive when she started talking. Her rich, resonant voice drifted towards him, sailing on the wind flowing musically like an ancient, tribal melody. And her mannerisms were captivating to watch, even endearing at times. Leah was cute, underneath her false bravado. And her smile, like her scowl, was dominant, vibrant and unmissable. Although she rarely displayed signs of her own happiness, he knew he could always be the one to make her smile when no one else could. He could usually twist her arm into doing anything, really. Unlike Bella, Leah was really open-minded and hardly ever stubborn. That's what made her all the more fun to be around. She was up for anything, as she'd once told him. Anything she knew she could handle. She wasn't reckless. Leah was…fearless. And secretly, Jacob found it a huge turn-on, a girl that wasn't afraid, a girl he didn't have to worry about all the time. Fearless. That's who she was.

Leah Clearwater.

He sighed.

Was it possible to love pretty much every aspect about a person and not be completely in love with them? But then if that was true, if he really was in love with her, then how could he devote himself to her wholly and completely when Nessie existed? Not only existed, but as his own form of gravity? What happened to good old Earth gravity, the logical theory he forgot to pay attention to in his fifth grade Science class? Magic; it filled every nook and cranny of his life now. But magic didn't equal love. Just because he was besotted, under a spell, if you will, cast by his Nessie, that didn't mean he loved her. He was infatuated, obsessed, entranced, sure. What happened to real love, or the overused expression, the clichéd metaphor of 'true love'?

The appropriate sound of retching made him flinch and obliterated his rumination. A door slammed and his feet hit the floor of his bedroom. He followed the disgusting sound into the bathroom, where he found Rachel vomiting into the toilet. She threw up so violently she didn't even notice him until her stomach had finally stopped convulsing. She glanced up at him with a terrified expression on her face and wiped her mouth with her sleeve. She didn't look pale. Her face was full of colour and her tanned cheeks slightly rosy. She didn't appear to be very sick at all, which didn't make sense.

"Jacob!" she called out to him. "Baby brother! Come 'ere!" Then she started crying. That was very unlike Rachel. She wasn't an overemotional type of girl. Something must have been seriously wrong.

He quickly rushed over to her and knelt down on the cold, hard tiles next to her. He let her hug him and her tears soaked into his shirt.

"Rach," he cooed to her, feeling less like a little brother and more like the opposite. "It's okay. Tell me what's wrong. Are you sick?"

She sniffed back phlegm in a very unlady-like way and let go of him, shaking her head. With mascara smudged all around her dark eyes she thew him a mournful glance. "I'm…I'm…"

"What's up, Rach?"

She gulped. "Oh god…Jacob, I'm pregnant."

"Hey! That's not so bad." He shook his head in disbelief. "I mean, man! Rachel! That's great news. You're going to have a baby!"

"Yeah, that usually is a long-term effect of pregnancy. Thanks for the heads up, Jake." She laughed without humour. "But that's the problem. I'm as far from ready for this as I possibly could be right now. Paul and me…we're totally unprepared."

"How do you mean?"

"His salary won't stretch out to cover a child as well! He works as a casual Walmart for crying out loud! And how am I supposed to study anymore? With all the responsibility of a baby? I'm just going to have to quit next semester." She rubbed her face with her hands and groaned. "I can't even finish law school! I had everything all planned out and now my life's just falling apart, all because of this thing inside me." Then she started bawling again and tackled Jacob with another hearty hug.

"Shh," he comforted her as he picked her up off the ground. "You're life won't fall apart and everything's going to be alright. I promise. We can work something out with Dad. I'm guessing that's why you dropped in."

"No," she said sarcastically. "You see, I was getting a little bored of throwing up in my own toilet so I thought Billy's bathroom might be a nice change of scene." She sniffed and gazed up at him, hope beaming out of her watery eyes. "Do you think he'll be okay about it?"

"Yeah, don't stress about it, Rach. I'm sure he'll think of a way to sort everything out," Jacob said with a slight grin. "But he might just rip Paul's genitalia off in the process."

Rachel heaved a half chuckle, half sob. "He's going to be pretty mad, huh?"

"Not at you." He patted her hair. "You're Daddy's little goody-two-shoes-Rachel. Remember? Paul's the one who should be scared shitless right now."

As if on queue, Paul stood, taking up the doorframe of the tiny bathroom. "Rachel!"

Rachel sighed. "Paul, just leave me alone," she told him sternly. "I don't feel like fighting with you again. You get pretty intimidating when you're mad, you know…"

Ignoring her protest, Paul strode across the room, shoved Jacob out of the way and kissed Rachel with so much tenderness Jacob thought he might start hurling soon too.

"I love you, Rachel Black," he told her like he was born to say those words. "And I am going to do whatever it takes to help you get through this. Anything you want, just say the word and I'll do it."

"But you already do too much," she argued. Jacob couldn't believe what he was hearing. Did she even know Paul?

"I don't care." He held her face in his hands. "I won't let you fall apart. You're going to finish law school and I'll do the child rearing. You're way too smart to waste your life being a homemaker, like my Mom. You're too good to lose and I won't lose you over this." He placed his hand on her stomach.

Rachel stroked his hands that were plastered to her face. "You are the sweetest, dumbest, most amazing man I know, Paul."

"Does that mean…"

Rachel nodded. "Yes," she told him heavily, tears forming in her eyes. "I still love you, you great, big, adorable idiot!" Then they kissed again with an impossible amount of vigor and passion.

"You won't regret it, Rach. I promise I won't let you down."

"I trust you." Then Paul did something unexpected. Instead of kissing her passionately again as Jacob had anticipated, he lifted up her shirt and gently caressed her temporarily flat stomach, like there was already a little person inside.

At this unusual gesture, the scene changed dramatically. Suddenly, there was no Paul and Rachel. There was only Jacob and Leah. Except Leah was months ahead of Rachel in her pregnancy, her stomach inflated like a huge, magnificent balloon, glowing with life. And alternate-universe-Jacob was by her side, cradling her, offering her his support that she desperately needed. He watched himself from afar, as if it was happening right there and then in front of him, as he placed a hand on her stomach. A small nudge made her skin quake the tiniest amount and a little part of him greeted Jacob from inside her. Then Leah smiled at him, that rare, animated smile of hers. Except her expression was tinted with a new kind of spark. Maternity.

Real-life Jacob shook his head but failed to shake away the impossible vision. Since that's what it was – impossible. With the way Leah was right now in her life, there was no way she could fall pregnant, let alone Jacob cause her to be so. His delusion wasn't only impossible, but also wrong. But trying to imagine his rightful soulmate, his Nessie, in her place was just sick. Talk about a paradox. Nessie was but a child herself. And as much as Jacob hated to admit it, that's the only way he would ever see her, just as a naïve adolescent with too much knowledge but hardly enough wisdom. To picture her skinny, frail body with an enormous, hideous lump sucking the life out of her was repulsive and disturbing. It was like picturing Bella's pregnancy all over again, since Bella had hardly been mature enough to become a mother either. And honestly, Jacob's opinion remained unchanged, even now.

All these revelations caused Jacob to wonder why on earth Nessie was picked out by destiny or fate or providence or whatever controlled his life now, to be his soulmate. What constituted as a soulmate? Was there some unwritten prophecy he had to abide by? Would he be hauled over the coals if he broke this so-called prophecy? And even more so, he wondered why, when Leah carried every trait Jacob could possibly look for in a girl, why he hadn't imprinted on her?

"Uh oh." Rachel covered her bulging mouth and rushed for the toilet bowl again.

--

"Oh my god, shut up!" Seth's irritating voice echoed through the paper-thin walls of Leah's bedroom. "No way! Oh man, that's so amazing, Mom! Charlie's one lucky guy."

Groaning, she twisted her head towards her bedside table to find out how painstakingly early it was. Eleven o'clock was like the crack of dawn for Leah, definitely far too early to face the soaring excitements and enthusiasms of her little brother.

Without hesitation she threw the blankets off her body, stormed out of her room and into the kitchen to see what all the uproar was about.

She trudged, her slippers making an atrocious shuffling noise, into the kitchen and felt somewhat similar to Quasimodo when he steps out of Notre Dame and into the sunlight for the first time, it was that bright and celebratory.

"Leah! Leah!" Her brother bounced over to her like a bustling bundle of dynamo. "Guess what? Guess what?"

"Must I?" Leah noticed her mother standing in the kitchen corner, looking sheepish. "Hey Mom. What happened to Seth? Or has he always been like this? To this extent?"

"Maybe now's not the best time to drop the bombshell." Sue massaged her left hand nervously with her right. "I mean I know you're not a morning person…unlike someone."

Leah suddenly woke up. "Bombshell?" She crossed her arms and took a seat at the kitchen table.

Sue sighed and started pacing around the room. Then stopped. Then sighed again. Then stared at a spot at the floor. Then smiled. Then laughed. Then Leah thought her mother had gone bonkers too.

Sue finally met Leah's eyes again. "I'm engaged."

"To Charlie?"

"No, to the milkman." Leah suddenly knew whom she inherited her cynicism from. Sue rolled her eyes. "He asked me last night."

"Did you tell him, 'not until you satisfy my dairy needs'?"

"Leaahh…" Sue clasped her daughter's hands and Leah tried not to flinch. "I want some answers! How do you feel about this? The reaction I'm getting from you is very blasé."

"That's cause it hasn't really sunk in yet," Leah told her honestly.

Surprisingly, rage was not the first emotion to win her over. She didn't hate Charlie's guts that much. And they'd waited for a decent amount of time before tying the knot; Leah hoped it was out of respect for her dad and not because they'd broken it off for a short while a few years ago. But what right did Leah have to be angry with her mom? She couldn't exactly be happy for her mom, mainly because she was a little jealous her own mother maintained a more active love life than her, but she could be supportive. It couldn't kill her.

"I think," she started, staring at her mother's nervous face. "I think it's great, Mom. I'll support you with whatever decision you make."

"I said yes."

"Then supporting I'll be."

Sue's face lit up. "Oh I'm so relieved, honey!" Then she got up and threw her arms around Leah, which freaked her out a little. Her mother wasn't a particularly affection being.

"Why? Did you think I'd go all psycho-bitch-daughter on you?"

"Watch your language," Sue snapped reflexively. "And, no. Not necessarily. I just thought you might feel a little…uncomfortable about the arrangement. Considering his relations."

"Don't sweat, Mom. Bella and I will be bosom buddies!" Even though the words 'Bella' and 'bosom' used in the same sentence almost caused Leah to gag.

"Tone down the sarcasm, dear. You'll leave a bitter taste in your mouth."

"Like mother, like daughter."

Sue ignored her comment. "And of course there's the matter of your father…"

Leah stared at her feet. "Charlie can never replace Dad."

"That's what I thought you might say. I never said he would," her mother said, entirely nonchalant, as she stood up to continue making breakfast. "And he never will, for that matter."

"So? Aren't you excited?" Seth topped off his annoying little brother routine by breathing down Leah's neck and invading her personal space.

"For what?"

Seth paused for a moment and his jaw dropped. "'For what?' What's there not to get excited about? There's going to be wedding, Charlie's going to be moving in AND we'll be related to Bella, which means we're pretty much Cullens!" He smiled at her with his mouth wide-open, practically asking her to assault him.

Leah growled. "If you say that I'm related to a leech ever again, I'll cut your leg of with this knife and beat you about the head with it!" Leah wielded the piece of cutlery in the air and Seth ducked.

"Man, lighten up, Lee." Bacon and eggs arrived at the table and Seth was sucked down to his seat like a magnet. He shoved a stupendous amount of food in his gob and said, "Beshides, I kno' you're frend wiv Ro'alie n Alishe," spraying particles of breakfast all over her face.

"I never said I was friends with them," she told Seth sternly and threateningly as she indicated her mother's discoloured expression to her brother.

Seth swallowed. "Mom, they're seriously not as bad as you think. They're pretty amazing, really. Especially Edward. And their accessories are to die for!"

"Money doesn't make the world turn round," Sue said, handing her son a much-needed napkin. "And it doesn't change the fact that they're all cold-blooded murderers."

"Not all of them!" protested Seth. Sue eyed him suspiciously. Heckling

"Oh, if that's the case then I stand corrected!" Sue exclaimed derisively.

"He's right," Leah sided with her brother for once. "Carlisle has never tasted human blood. Besides, you probably shouldn't tell Charlie you think his daughter's married into a family of cold-blooded murderers. Not exactly the stuff a strong relationship feeds on."

A knocking at the door hindered Sue from scolding her daughter. "Can you see who it is, Little Miss Outspoken?"

"Sure thing, Mrs Culle- I mean, Swan." Leah sprang out of her chair, out of fear mostly, and answered the door to stand in the presence of…

Jacob. Again. Fantastic.

"Leah, I really need to talk to you," he said urgently.

"Okay." She folded her arms.

He raised his eyebrows in surprise. "Um. All right, then. So, the thing is…"

"Well, it was nice talking to you, Jake," she told him, shutting the door in his face. She innocently skipped back to the kitchen.

"Who was that?" her mother asked.

"Carol singers." She continued eating her breakfast casually.

"But it's not Christmas," Seth stated.

Leah snorted a laugh hysterically. "Try telling them that."

This time, the doorbell resounded. A frustrated moan escaped Leah's lips. She jumped out of her chair, scraping its legs across the kitchen floor to create a cringe-worthy, ear-piercing sound. "Jesus!"

"With saintly language like that you should join them," Sue commented.

"Man, they're not too bright, huh?" Seth pondered.

The second time she opened the door the sight wasn't any better.

"So what will it be, Silent Night or Come All Ye Faithful?" Jacob smirked and Leah felt like punching him.

"How about 'Get the fuck away from me you giant, moronic ass'?"

He shrugged. "Sorry, don't know that one."

"Well, you should, considering that's what you are."

"Leah," he moaned. "Come on, just hear me out?"

"Ooh! Ooh!" She jumped up and down in mock enthusiasm. "Will there be an encore of yesterday's 'you know why' speech? Cause I can hardly contain myself in anticipation for that one! It's up there with Martin Luther's 'I have a dream'."

"Can't I just apologise?"

"Sure you can. If it makes you feel like less of an asshole, then be my guest."

"I'm sorry."

"Are you now?" Leah stroked her chin. "Hmm, is this for screwing me over, rejecting me, manhandling me or ramming me into a tree trunk?"

"Look, I was a total.."

"Jerk?" Leah offered. "Ooh, sorry Jacob. I think you need a thesaurus cause I've heard that one too many times, hon."

Jacob shook his head and laughed, exasperated.

"Is that all? Okay, thanks, Jakey. Bye now."

Jacob held the door open. "Leah!"

"Leah!" Sue's voice echoed from behind her. "What on earth are you doing?"

Leah stopped trying to slam the door in what she recognised as an intruder's face and Jacob toppled inside. Jacob cleared his throat, straightened up and greeted her mom politely, "Morning, Mrs Clearwater. Congratulations on the engagement."

Sue placed a hand on her chest out of flattery. "Why thankyou, Jacob. And how's Billy holding up?"

"He's alright, same old, same old. You know Billy."

"That's good to hear. So, what are you up to today, Jacob?"

"Actually…" He glanced at Leah menacingly. "Leah and I were just about to head on down to the beach."

Leah swore she could have ripped him to shreds right there and then.

Sue threw Leah a look that said 'fancy that' and told him, "I think that's a great idea. Leah doesn't really get out much these days. Plus, it's a lovely day for it."

"Certainly is, Mrs Clearwater." Leah could tell Jacob was straining himself, trying not to burst into ripples of laughter.

"You can call me Sue, honey." Sue beamed at Leah and she felt like firing a bullet through her head.

"Certainly is, Sue honey."

Sue's boisterous laughter shattered what was left of Leah's dignity. "It's always so refreshing to find a young man with a sense of humour, isn't it Leah?" She nudged Leah vigorously. Sue wiped a tear of mirth away from her eye and sighed. "Well…" Her mother very deliberately glanced back and forth between the two of them. "You kids have fun." On her way out of the room she winked at Leah not so subtly, just to make sure her not one inch of her daughter wasn't completely and entirely mortified.

"Thanks, Mom," Leah uttered through gritted teeth.

Furious, she clawed Jacob's arm, dragged him outside and slammed the door. "So you enjoyed Canada, right?"

"Why?"

"Cause that's where your head's gonna end up once I've severed it from the rest of your despoiled anatomy!"

"Do you ever get tired of thinking up empty threats to assault people with?"

"Do you ever stop being a jerk?"

"I thought you were 'over' that word. I have a thesaurus at home you know."

"Oh shut up!" She poked him in the chest. "You have no right to talk to me this way, after the way you treated me!"

He ruffled the back of his hair out of stress. "You're right. Look, Leah. Come on, look at me."

She turned her head away purposely in a similar manner to a fifth grader.

"Leah…" He grabbed hold of her face. "Look. At. Me."

She held back budding tears. "What?" she shrieked at him.

"Will you give me a chance to explain?" he asked her softly, his intense stare smouldering her all over again.

"Fine," she whispered and he let go of her.

"What we have, what we are…" he gestured back and forth between them. "It's too amazing to waste. I've never been able to relate to someone in the way I relate to you, Leah. You're one of a kind, just like our relationship and I don't want to screw it up over a stupid make-out session."

"Is that all it was to you?"

"No," he immediately replied. "No, of course not. It's just…insignificant compared to our friendship…well, ex-friendship now."

"Not ex," Leah told him softly, smiling weakly.

At this, Jacob's face lifted and brightness shone from his raven-coloured eyes once more. "You mean a lot to me, Leah. You know that, right?"

"Maybe you should remind me more often." She dared to look up at him; dare because she knew she'd have to suppress that inexorable urge to kiss him again if she did. And she'd predicted right, because when she stared up at his benevolent, affectionate face, she lusted to tackle him right there and then.

Then he gently swept a lock of hair out of her eyes, and this caused her to smell him; his woody, musky, fresh scent drifted towards her on the wind, making her body turn limp. God, is he actually trying to torture me?

"You mean a lot to me, Leah."

"Ha, ha," she told him. "Same goes for you, Alfie."

He chuckled warmly. "Thanks, Betty."

"Betty?"

"Hey, if you can have nicknames, then so can I."

Leah shrugged. "Fair game."

"Speaking of games…" Jacob glanced towards the direction of First Beach and then gazed at her audaciously. "Still up for a swim?"

"You know me, I'm up for anything, remember?"

Jacob laughed. "How could I forget?"

--

Awkward silences seemed to stalk Leah wherever she went like ominous, dark shadows lingering over her head. Though, this time she wasn't alone to dwell in her feeling of discomfort, considering the volatile situation everyone was jammed in. Edward looked a slight portion more than uncomfortable, which was understandable, although he seemed nowhere near as irate as Jacob. Apparently Leah wasn't really the one sitting next to him on the Cullens' couch, because he was practically beside himself with rage. He just sat there motionless, fixed to his seat, his face twisted into a contemptuous scowl as if there was fetid meat in the room; a very fetid piece of meat with a South American accent.

While Edward and Jacob were enraged, Bella bewildered, Alice strangely fey (as usual), and everyone else edgy, Rosalie was parading around the room like it was raining twenty-four carat diamond necklaces.

"So, Brazil…" Rosalie spoke with an unlimited amount of gusto in her voice. "That's where everyone's completely soccer-crazy, right?"

"I s-suppose," the dark-skinned youth replied, his voice shaking out of fear. "Except we c-call it 'football'."

Hell, I'd be scared too if I were him, right now, Leah decided.

Rosalie giggled at his accent. "Do you play 'football' yourself?" she asked, as if everyone else was having the time of their life too, just as she appeared to be.

Nahuel shrugged. "A little."

"Oh, he's so modest!" Rosalie grabbed his arm playfully and shook it. "I'm sure you're just a Ronaldo in the making! What do you think, Nes – Renesmee?"

"To answer your question in a tone of sincerity, I have to say I'm unaware of any athletic talents he possesses, whether they exist or not." As the Rory Gilmore of the family spoke, her deep brown eyes remained squarely fixed to the floor.

Rosalie sighed. "Isn't she one for words? I mean, I was alive in the era when people spoke like that, and then Renesmee's born only, what, six years ago and she's practically a mini Jane Austen! It's pretty amazing, don't you think, Nahuel?"

"She's a genius, that's undeniable." He glanced at Renesmee sitting next to him and snuck her a sweet smile, which she returned without hesitation and her cheeks flushed scarlet. But as soon as a trickle of sanguineness tinted the boy's features Edward and Jacob immediately shot him down with another glare and his face drained of any sort of cheer.

Renesmee dared to glance up at the scene and Jacob caught her eye, which was no surprise, considering how his agonizing expression was unmissable. The eeriest part was how he'd remained silent the entire evening, not uttering a single word. This was very unlike him, and unsettled her. She yearned to talk to him, explain the weird situation with Nahuel, but she knew she couldn't do that, not right now. Things between them were just too complicated. She couldn't talk to him like a brother anymore, since he obviously loved her in a different way. Or so she thought. But how could she be sure about anything anymore?

Aptly timed, Esme announced dinner was ready, to all who it was applicable.

But a change of scene and the materialisation of a dinner table in front of them barely diminished the tense atmosphere or the dubious conversation.

"So, Nahuel," Rosalie started. "Where are you staying in Forks?"

Nahuel gulped. "I'm not staying in Forks."

"Yes," Edward spoke for the first time, his voice sounding similar to the sharpening of a rapier. "Where are you staying, now, Nahuel?"

"Port Angeles," he admitted reluctantly.

"I see," Edward said coldly through gritted teeth. "What's your business here?"

Nahuel cleared his throat. "I...arrived here at the docks. I'm a…well, a fisherman really."

"I see," Edward repeated himself and continued to throw invisible daggers with his eyes at the strange, young boy sitting dangerously close to his daughter. "What I meant was, what is your business with us?"

Nahuel chuckled nervously. "Well," he started and dropped his knife and fork loudly on his plate. "I wished to visit your family again," he announced, this time with more confidence. "I'm assuming you remember the last time I intruded on your hospitality along side my Aunt Huilen?"

"Where is your Aunt Huilen? Is she even aware your whereabouts?"

"No." An expression of depression tinged his young face. "Huilen and I haven't spoken for…a while. But I assure you she would have no problem with my visiting your family, unless you do."

Edward eyed him distrustfully. Bella nudged her husband. "No," Edward finally uttered. "Not yet, anyway." After that, Edward loosened up a little. At least he didn't look like he was about to flay Nahuel alive anymore.

The rest of the evening followed in a similar fashion, until it was cut short.

"Leah, I'm leaving," Jacob announced to her at the first chance he got. "You coming?"

"Yeah, I guess so. I have no other way of getting home."

Jacob glanced around the room apprehensively. "Sure, sure. Let's go."

Leah hastily thanked Esme for dinner and chatted quickly to Rosalie, confirming a shopping trip ("We're in desperate need of a seduction dress!" had been Rosalie's exact words) and headed out the door.

Jacob remained in an uncharacteristic trance of silence the entire drive back to La Push. He spoke for the first time in what seemed like years as he dropped Leah off at her house.

"Thanks for the lift," Leah thanked him as she unlocked the front door to her house, trying to keep her tone light.

"Sure, sure," Jacob said in a contorted, painful voice. It was clear what was on his mind, or rather whom. And if there was one thing Leah couldn't stand, it was how Jacob fixated about Nessie right in front of her, as if Leah was totally oblivious to him. Did she really think she was that stupid? She knew that expression, she used to wear it all the time. The face that said, 'the world is ending because she/he doesn't love me'. There was only one thing in the world that made a person look like that. The cruel concept of imprinting. She yearned more than anything to wipe that look off his face, to rid his thoughts of anything Nessie or South American fisherman related and force him to relish in her.

Memories sparked like little matches all over Leah's brain and she remembered all of his distractions. All those times he held her hand, stroked her skin, hugged her and held her close in her arms to release her of her pain, when she felt lonely, frustrated, inadequate or just plain miserable. It was only fair to reciprocate.

Her hand shook with anticipation and trepidation as she reached for his, her motive being purely to console…mostly. But little was she aware the space between them was alive, electric, almost pulsing with volatility. Between them was a grenade precariously suffocated by a single pin and, at the slightest graze of her finger against his skin, was removed. Spontaneously, Jacob sprang to life and kissed her explosively against the back of the front door, causing it to slam shut from the pressure of his body smashing into hers. At a time like this, Leah wasn't one to hesitate, so she dove into the kiss with as much urgency as he did. As it was their second true physical encounter, they were both braver, which was blatant in their every move. Leah didn't waste any time and let her hands explore around his body as his lips moulded into hers. She first traced the back of his neck, then ran her hands over the tight, tense muscles of his back and finally, she braced herself and lifted the bottom of his shirt, allowing her hands wander over his broad, burly chest she'd stared at many a time and even dreamt about touching, trying to memorise every contour.

Jacob was just as venturesome as her and didn't hold back. Except there was a different kind of emotion driving his every touch. Loneliness. This burdensome thought struck him and all his movements suddenly slowed, as did the kiss. Leah sensed this and paused, enclosing her arms around his back to secure him. In response, Jacob seized her face and kissed her hard and slow, almost in a painful way. There was no physical pain, but it was impossible for Leah, when she was that close to him, to remain untouched of his emotional suffering. It was like he transferred all his agony into her with that last, long and intense yet soft and gentle lingering kiss, that sent chills down her spine.

"I'm sorry," he told her, his voice cracking with every word, as he broke away from her. "I'll never let this happen again. I'm sorry. I'll never hurt you again." Then he opened the door and strode away into the cold night.

Leah tried to search for him in the darkness and yelled out hopelessly, "Jacob! You're not making any sense, wait!" Her voice echoed eerily around the empty trees.

But then, as a new kind of breath-taking agony finally swept through her fragile body she collapsed to the floor, wept the tears he should have shed, suffered the pain he should have felt and she was left wondering, when after being so close to him only a moment ago, why he'd left her feeling more alone than ever before.


Author's Note: What did you think? I'm gonna keep this A/N fairly short, in order not to bore you to death and also because I really haven't got much to say. Oh wait, I found something to say, which is that soon I may not be updating as frequently as I have recently so I just apologize for lack of future updates. If you just made sense of that sentence, I congratulate you.

So, back to my original question, what are your thoughts on this chapter?