I need to get away from Twilight, but it just keeps dragging me back.

Unhealthy, that's what S. Meyer is.

So here is some stuff, set in the Eclipse universe, I think. I went back and added just a smidge more to the ending, because some people thought it was rushed...and it was. Better? I hope.

Oh, and thanks to Abner for beta-ing!

In all actuality, it's what I've been longing for.

A day to myself.

A little alone time.

Just a peaceful moment to relax and breathe deeply. . . without having to inhale the atrocious odors the of the teenage boys who were constantly scrambling around inside my head and all over my house with their typical grace and charm.

I thought that it might be a nice change of pace if, for the first time in a long time, I didn't have their constant reminder of the freak I've become shoved in my face. Not to mention his constant reminder of everything I've lost due to it. You know, some time to just be human. Like everyone else.

I never thought I could ever be envious of ole Louisey, the overweight librarian from my old elementary school who I swear has been wearing the same five cat-covered sweaters since my mother went there. But I am. After spending this much time with werewolves, I thinking a nice fat tabby-cat would be a welcome companion. At least a cat I could lock up in the laundry room when it has explosive diarrhea and smells up the entire upstairs. Paul, on the other hand, had become particularly adept at shimmying the lock in the washroom.

But alas, it was the sound of my own rumbling stomach that disrupted my slumber this morning rather than the gentle meows of Trinket or Binky or whatever the hell librarian's name their cats. I hadn't gotten back from patrol until dawn and had passed out fully-clothed on top of my sheets without even taking my shoes off. I was desperate for a few hours of sleep before the guys started trying to demolish the kitchen...or as they call it, making lunch. But when I woke to the midday sun shining brightly through my window, I was shocked to discover the clock on my nightstand read 12:35. Was it possible that I had slept through lunchtime? I briefly entertained the thought that the power had flickered during the night and my alarm was wrong, but the empty feeling in my stomach said things were right on schedule. Starving but with that feeble shred of femininity left in me still wanting to retain some semblance of humanity, I forced myself to take a quick shower before making my way to the kitchen. It was while I slid on clean clothes and tied back my wet hair that the uncharacteristic stillness of the house registered. Things were downright silent...and that was downright strange.

Stepping into the kitchen, I was shocked to find the place relatively in order. A few dirty dishes were left in the sink, but other than that it looked like civilized people lived here. I called out to my mom and brother, but my only reply was silence. It was then that I discovered the good Lord had granted me my one wish. And I promptly began to steam.

A sane person would ask why. How was it that I could manage to work up a temper when I finally had what I'd so desperately wanted. But then again, sane people don't exactly exist in this universe. The closest we get is ole Louisey, and she isn't much for asking questions not involving library fines.

But the rest of us, the strange, cursed-by-fate population of the La Push would already know the answer. Because it's what I do best. I whine, I moan, I groan, I gripe, most of all I bitch, about everything and anything. I do it because I'm miserable… I do it because I don't remember how not to.

So here I am, alone in the kitchen with nary a werewolf in sight. No mangy boys rifling through the fridge, no one jacking my laptop and running down the battery, no one gazing at me all sympathetically with that stupid "I'm so sorry for what I did to you" look on his, stupid, ugly freakin' face.

Great. Excellent. Good riddance.

Now where the hell are they.

Because as annoying as it is to have to hear Paul and Jared's crass remarks and Sam's pathetic lovey-dovey adoration of Emily and the rest of the guys teenage angst bouncing around my head, right about now I would prefer even that over having to listen to my own thoughts. Sometimes it's nice to have something, anything, going on upstairs rather than being an unwilling participant in the private hell I can concoct for myself.

An idle mind is the devil's workshop. And today I am feeling that more strongly than ever.

I drum my fingers on the counter-top tensely and try to block out the fact that I am half-hoping for one of the boys to come bounding through the screen door with my horrible rhythm. I fail miserably at distracting myself, and my stomach grumbles loudly in protest at being ignored. Even when I'm busy being angry I can't get away from the never-ending perks of being a werewolf. My face etched in its typical permanent scowl, I search through the fridge for something to satiate my voracious appetite, but find nothing that appeals to me. Seth must have already raided it, albeit quietly, but there is absolutely nothing left of the brisket Mom made last night. Thank you brother dearest. I slam the door hard enough that I hear the liter of coke inside fall over and roll on its side across the shelf. I know that the rage which floods me at the sound is utterly irrational, and for some reason that makes me even more upset. Jerking the door back open, I yank out the bottle and unthinkingly unscrew the cap.

Imagine that. A carbonated beverage which has just rolled around the fridge tends to explode when opened. Thereby coating me in a foamy bath of sticky spray. I nearly scream, I want to scream, with everything in me, but knowing it would send my mother over the edge I manage to control myself. Barely.

Instead I tear out the door, heaving the now almost empty bottle into the backyard as I hurdle over the fence. Stripping out of my sweats once I'm in the seclusion of the woods, I phase almost instantly.

My body shifts seamlessly from flesh to fur, and leaping into the air I land on all four and hit the ground running. Hard. Sprinting as fast as my legs will take me (which is saying a lot, coming from me) I cover miles of ground with lightning speed, weaving in and out of the trees that block my path. I'm not sure where I'm going, but I'm getting there in a hurry. Anger boils in my veins and restrict my vision, creating a tunnel through which I only see the leaves and new fallen logs that lay in front of me. I concentrate on the burn in my muscles instead of the ache in my chest and let the moments fall away.

I don't know how long I spend out amid the trees, tearing up the earth beneath my feet and running with all I have. My route full of detours and the urge to keep moving no matter the cost, I realize hours have probably passed by I finally get there. My feet have brought me here though my mind longs to stay away. I skid to a stop at the perimeter, my pulse starts to pound. Because obviously some part of me wants to be here, needs to be here even, but the larger whole desperately wants to get away. Conflict churning within me, I throw my head back and howl, a long and loud substitute for human tears cutting through the dead silence. My limbs feel like they have been dipped in acid, searing and yearning to stretch back into delicate bones and smooth skin. I want to throw up. My entire body trembles violently, but I fight the overwhelming need to phase. Instead I pace the rickety wrought-iron fence nervously, whimpering and snarling in turn. I can't do this, I don't want to do this, and I don't want to be here. I can't cry anymore.

My mind had been so focused on paws and dirt and speed on my way over here that I hadn't heard a single voice in my head the whole time. But even now as I look for anything to take my mind off of this, there's nothing but quiet all around me. Which grants me a blessed reprieve, however so slight, from the turmoil raging inside of me. Why is it so quiet, where Is everyone?

Irritated and more than a little bit shaken, I call out to my brother, but find no reply. Sinking my nails into the damp earth, I howl again, this time letting anger hide the anguish. Nothing but the echo of my own voice comes back to me. How can I be the only one phased right now? Isn't someone supposed to be on patrol? Isn't anyone being responsible?

It's probably our stupid alpha's fault. He should have better control of his pack.

And I intended to tell him so.

Casting one more backwards glance over my furry grey shoulder, I set off in the opposite direction from where I had come, towards Emily's house. Not too long ago it was a path I had once traveled regularly, but like a normal person. In a car. Not tearing around on four legs. Now though, I stay away as much as possible. For obvious reasons.

And yet, here I am, about to inflict even more pain upon myself by going to the second to last place I want to be. Hell, I've already visited my top spot, why not make a day of it? Why not torture myself even more by visiting the boy I thought I would spend the rest of my life with and the girl he actually is going to spend the rest of his life with. As if things haven't been rolling along smoothly enough as it is. But sure Leah, why don't you go hurt yourself a little more. At least it will take my mind off. . .at least it's better than being alone.

It doesn't take long before my feet hit the familiar land Emily's house stands on. On the run over the little dilemma of not having any clothes presents itself, being as I had left my sweats strewn on the ground before I phased. For a moment I toy with the idea of walking in naked to remind Sam of everything he was missing out on, but Emily is my cousin and I'm not totally heartless. If he were alone, then maybe…but I figure my best bet is to stay in wolf form when I give him a piece of my mind. If I end up staying after I go off on his leadership skills then Emily would probably let me borrow a few things. Because, as jealous as I am of her, she's a good person, and that's the sort of thing a good person would do.

Turns out though, I don't even get that far.

As I lope into the driveway, I see the familiar dirty old Chevy Jared drives when he's not out running. Well, that checks one werewolf off the missing persons list. Two if you count Sam, whose voice I picked up on right away (that still happens a lot, even in situations when I wished to God it didn't). As I near the house I begin to distinguish more and more familiar tones in the regular din of noise coming from inside. What was going on? Sam and Jared were obviously there, but that was Embry's stupid laugh, and...Seth's boyish giggle returning it? My own brother was there? My whole pack, gathered together without me?

With confusion that quickly turns into fury I pad up the front steps, my chest heaving though the short run hadn't tired me. I peer in through the large paned window, taking in the joyful scene with utter disbelief, eradicating my confusion from two moments ago and utterly filling me with a throbbing pain. The entire wedding party is there, gathering in the living room for a fitting. All the guys in the pack are trying on the black dinner jackets that they would wear as Sam's groomsmen, trading sizes back and forth amongst themselves while grimacing in distaste at the matching ascots and cummerbunds that lay in wait for them. Also scattered about the room are the girls I recognize as my fellow bridesmaids, holding their arms over their heads as Emily and her seamstress mother go over each of them with a measuring tape. Everyone Is laughing, poking fun at one another in their various states of undress and having one hell of a time.

Without me.

I hardly realize that I start to growl, a low rumble building up deep in my chest and coming to fruition with a truly sinister noise from my snout until Sam turns his head to face the glass, his brow furrowed. Once we make eye contact his face falls, and a look of utmost pity washes over his features. That's it. I don't want it; I don't need his pity, not for this. I turn tail and run, ignoring the strings of curses and apologies that erupt from the room after everyone else notices the commotion I caused. The girls were bewildered by the sight of a lone grey wolf quickly disappearing back into the trees, but nothing could be done to try and explain the situation to them then and there. Emily starts crying and they take her into the kitchen to console her while the guys run after me. At least, that's what I gathered from listening to the thoughts of my pack members, being as I'm long gone from the property the second they step out the door. As silent as it had been inside my head all day, now they were making up for it, and a regular barrage of conversation flooded through.

"Leah, stop! Let me explain."

"Explain what Sam? I told you she was gonna be pissed. And guess what, she is!"

"How is that any different from how she always is Jake? Everything pisses Leah off."

"Shut up Paul, that's my sister. Come back Lee, we're all really sorry."

"Who's we?"

"Cut it out Jared, I'm serious. You guys need to pull yourselves together so that we can get her back home before she does something she'll regret. Maybe it would be better if Emily tried to talk to her about this-"

"No." I snarl, cutting Sam off and speaking for the first time. The sound of my icy voice shut them all up. "It would not be better if Emily talked to me about this just because my alpha has his panties in a twist and is too scared to say something to me himself. Screw you, all of you. I don't care. Now just leave. Me. Alone!"

"Leah. . ." Seth said, pain evident in his voice.

"Not now. I mean it."

The rest of the pack break off then, Embry, Quil, Jared and Paul heading back to Emily's before being joined a few minutes later by Jacob, and then finally Sam. Seth sticks around, trying to get close to me but I won't let him. He should know, he was my own brother and he didn't even. . .I throw all my focus into running and eventually even he lets me go. I run for a long time out there, cutting through the woods and making my way down to the beach, running along the water's edge until my fur is heavy with the salty spray. I don't want to leave, but I'm starting to get hungry and I hate having to eat like an animal. All I want to do is go home, eat the entire box of corn dogs in the freezer, and then soak for an hour in the bathtub. Hopefully Seth would have the sense to stay away tonight.

But of course, he doesn't. When I get back home the sky is muted in shades of pink as the sun disappears on the horizon. It illuminates my little brother in such a way he actually looks like he might still be the boy he's supposed to be, instead of the man he's quickly having to become. Crouched over, he checks the air pressure in the tires of Billy Black's truck as it sits parked in the driveway. Of course, with Billy having Jacob for a son the truck was in top shape, but I suspect Seth was really just looking for a reason to get out of the house. I understood his logic completely, and stealthily slip back into the shadows. Home was now number three on my list of places I definitely didn't want to be. I know the reason for Billy's visit, and though his intentions are good, I know I won't be able to take it. Once again I take to the ground.

The Black residence is small, tidy, but an unmistakable bachelor pad. I don't know when Jake found the time to cut the grass, it's cropped short and feels soft against my bare feet as I cross around to the south side of the house. My wolf paws wouldn't appreciate it, but in the shade behind the house I allow myself to phase back to this naked wretch of a girl. Exhausted, moreso mentally than physically, I finally reach Jake's open window and pull myself up through it. The cool metal of the sill grazes against my warm skin as I slip through, and the difference in temperature is a subtle reminder that autumn is looming around around the corner. Most of the pack sleep with the windows open, never able to lower our accelerated temperatures. Besides, it's not as if we're afraid of anything that might try to slip into our bedrooms at night. Unless it's a pissed off she-wolf.

Jacob isn't in his room, as I know he won't be, so I help myself to his closet. He should be on patrol, or, if he knows what's good for him, looking for me with the rest of the pack. I might have told them to leave me alone, but they better be beating the crap out of themselves for doing that to me today. My rage has subdued to a festering hatred within the pit of my stomach, and I hope one of them encounters a nice hungry mama bear on their search. I play the possible scenario over in my head as I locate a pair of drawstring shorts that I can tighten to fit my much slimmer frame, but I'm coming up short as I push through the hangers for a shirt when I hear someone at the door.

"What the-?" Jacob exclaims, the entire pitcher of iced tea along with a long bendy straw stuck in it falls from his hand and shatters on the ground. His eyes go wide, immediately darting to my naked chest, then, just as rapidly, to anywhere and everywhere else.

"What the what Black?" I say with a smirk, dropping my hands to my hips.

"What. . .what are you doing here? Why. . .where are your clothes!" He says accusingly to the foot of his bed.

"Hmmph, you're one to talk, I can't find a single t-shirt in your entire closet!"

"Well, soooory! I don't wear a lot of them, and most of my older ones got shredded when I first started phasing!"

"So what am I supposed to do? Walk around topless?"

"What? No! I mean. . .why are you even here?"

"I would prefer to have this conversation without you staring at my nipples."

"I am not staring at your-" he swivels his head around angrily, attempting to make eye contact with me but instead having his gaze drawn magnetically to the topic of conversation once more. "Nipples." The word came out as almost a squeak, and his cheeks begin to flush as he stares intensely at the wreck of broken glass and brown liquid on the floor.


"Look." He sputters. "Why don't you go get something out of my sisters' old room, down the hall, last door on the left. They probably even have some, you know, bras left in there. You make yourself decent and I'll clean up this mess and then maybe you can tell me what the freaking hell you are doing naked in my room."

"Sounds like a deal. And get us something to eat while you're at it. Speaking of which, thirsty much Black? I've heard of drinking from the carton, but the whole pitcher? Might as well get one of those automatic dog bowls."

He rolls his eyes and turns towards his door to leave the room at the same time I do, both of us attempting to fit through the frame at the same time. I don't like the way his bare shoulder feel brushing against my own, and so with a not-so-soft shove I push him out of my way. He cusses, calling me a name I've grown quite used to, and I give him an equally pleasant hand gesture over my shoulder as I make my short walk down the hall. Rebecca and Rachel's room is pretty bare, since the girls have been gone awhile, but a few items remain. A framed picture sits on the small night stand between the two twin beds, and in it is snapshot of a six or seven year old Jacob, with tears in his eyes while one of his sisters', I can't tell who, crams a tiara down on his head. God, how things have changed since then. It seems like it hasn't been any time at all that Seth was that small, and look at him now. Look at all of us now.

I find an old, paint-splattered t-shirt in one of the drawers and yank it over my head. It's tight, but so is everything on me these days. My stomach growls loudly once more, and I saunter to the kitchen, looking forward much more to the possible contents of the Black's refrigerator than the upcoming conversation with Jake. He's already there, ringing out the towels he used to sop up the iced tea in the sink and muttering crossly to himself, but he quickly shuts up as I cross the threshold into room.

"Your sisters have small boobs, I can't fit into any of their bras, sorry. Good thing it's not cold in here, this material is pretty thin…" I tease, loving the pink tinge that I see start to crawl up his neck. Jacob might look like a man, but he's still so very much a boy that I can't resist. He too put on a shirt, one he inevitably just pulled out of the dirty clothes, since it's full of wrinkles. "Were you getting chilly, or were you just feeling shy Jakey?"

"Shut up. Now just exactly what are you doing here?" He spits out, pulling an oversized bag of pretzels from a cabinet and putting it on the kitchen table between us. We both sit down, and I stuff my face with a handful.

"Blame your dad. He's over at my place."

"Oh." There's a noticeable slump to his shoulders, and once again he avoids eye contact, concentrating intently on eating.

"Yep." I reply, letting the unspoken exchange of information hang heavily between us. He shifts uncomfortably in his seat.

"You want something else to eat? I think we have some leftover fish in the fridge if you don't mind it cold."

"Better cold than raw." I grunt, staring at the fake wood grain in the table and continuing to shove pretzel after pretzel in my mouth as Jacob jumps up and opens the door to the refrigerator. His back to me, he starts talking again, his words stiff and stilted.

"Leah, about today, at Emily's…we really didn't mean to hurt your feelings. It was just. . .well, Emily knew what size dress you wore so she was going to go ahead and order it without having to bother you about the fitting. It seemed like something you would rather avoid anyway."

"How very sweet of her."

"She knows the wedding stuff is hard for you, she was only trying to be nice. And she didn't mean for it to happen today, but the jackets came in, and Sam didn't remember...anyway, Seth and I figured you would want to be alone. You're always saying how you want us to get out of your hair and everything."

"Uh-huh..." I swallow, hard.

"They didn't do it on purpose, the timing was just bad. No one was trying to exclude you, honest." He lays the Tupperware container on the table next to the now-empty bag of pretzels. Suddenly, I have no interest in eating.

I can't talk. There is no way on God's green earth I am going to start crying here and now, not in front of him. Jacob's right, why did I come here?

"Leah…" He takes a deep breathe. "When my Mom died, I was really young, so I don't remember a lot about it, about her. That makes me sick sometimes, not being able to have really known my own Mom, but at the same time it makes the grieving a little easier. For my sisters' though…well, the day she died is always hard on them, even now. And on Billy too, that's why he went over to see your mom. I get why you wouldn't want to go and deal with him on top of everything else, but he knows what Sue's going through and he's just trying to help. I would too, if I knew how. But I don't. All I can say is, I'm sorry Leah. We're boys and we're dumb and I'm sorry we made you sad on the day your dad died."

I ball my hands into fists, fingernails pressing so tightly against the insides of my palms that it won't be long before I draw blood, though any wounds will heal up in an instant. I bite my lip and try, really really try not to, but it's futile. I feel the hot tears prick at the corners of my eyes, and like some dumb blubbering little girl I start sobbing right at the Black's kitchen table. Awkwardly, Jacob stands up and comes around to my side, rubbing my shoulder rhythmically.

"I'm. Fine." I say through clenching teeth, the tears pouring more profusely with every passing second. He doesn't say anything, just squeezes my shoulder softly and keeps on rubbing. The silence is comfortable, but it does little to soothe me, and with a shaky breath I open my mouth to break it, unsure of just what is going to come out.

"I-I didn't want to be alo-one." I stammer. "I don't want to have to spend the day reliving what happened last year. It's too hard, it hurts too much. I can't, I just can't." The words resonate through my head, the same way they have been all way. 'Ican'tIcan'tIcan't.' I can't think about him, I can't let myself feel this way, I can't remember...and with a surge of emotion I do. I remember my father, pretending to be sleep next to my mother while I made a ruckus sneaking in to bring them breakfast in bed for their anniversary when I was little, patiently teaching me how to drive his truck and not losing his temper when I swerved to avoid hitting a floating grocery bag and drove straight into a ditch, glaring daggers at Sam when he came to pick me up for our first date...my father always was an excellent judge of character. The sobs come harder now as memories wash over me, some good, some bad, but all of them painfully, beautifully, real. I could almost lean forward and dive into them, slip seamlessly back into an eleven year old girl sitting on Harry Clearwater's lap on the back porch while the sun sets over the trees. I could, if not for the steady anchor of Jacob's hand on my shoulder and his voice in my ear.

"I'm sorry Leah, I'm so, so sorry. I don't know what to say." He drops to his knees next to my chair and I turn to him, his face blurry through my tears. My chest constricts painfully as I gasp for air, but I know I can't stop what I've started. It's been a year since he passed and I haven't talked about my Dad's death with anyone, not even my family. My Mom used to try, but she would always end up crying and Seth would get all quiet and stare at the ground and I…I would just leave. Running as fast and as far away as I could, running until all that I am is a beating heart and heaving lungs, with no room for sorrow or mourning. Running until I'm hollow, a shell of the girl...though really, not a girl at all. The empty space inside of me is caving in now though, and I'm aching. These memories of him filling are that abyss so suddenly that my body isn't prepared and it can't stretch fast enough to accommodate. The onslaught is overwhelming but inevitable. I just never imagined I would have to face them like this. Here. With Jacob.

"I miss him. I miss him so much sometimes I can't even breathe. They say it gets easier but it's not, it's been a whole year and it still hurts just as much now as it did then."

"I know honey. . ."

I don't quite know how it happens, Jacob sitting on the linoleum floor with me cradled in his lap, but it's nice, and for some reason I just feel so fragile, with my tear-stained face pressed against his dirty, wrinkled shirt, that I can't stop the words or the cries that come pouring from my throat.

"I was looking for you guys, I couldn't be alone with my Mom today, she's a wreck and I knew I would be too. So I was waiting, hoping you would show but no one ever did. Not even my own brother! So I went running. . .and I ended up at the cemetery. I didn't want to be there, I haven't been since the funeral. What's the point? His bones are all that's left, my father isn't there. But for some reason my feet took me there. It was hard Jake, too hard, too fresh, too soon for it to all have been a year ago. I couldn't stay there, so I went to find Sam and...and..."

"Shh, shh, honey it's going to be okay. They didn't know. I promise. Nobody would ever do anything to hurt you."

"Sam would. He did."

"He couldn't help it. You know it hurts him to see what he did to you. He feels terrible about what happened out at Emily's, Seth didn't say anything about today and your Dad before you got there because he didn't want to talk about it. He's still so young, he doesn't know how to deal with everything just yet."

"But I don't know how to deal with everything! I don't know how to deal with anything, with Sam, with my Dad, with my stupid abnormal werewolf life!"

"I know, I know, but none of us do, not really. Even the elders are at a loss, what has happened in the past year...it's so much more than even the stories foretell. It's all trial and error now honey, we're all learning together. There isn't some manual about the do's and don'ts of being a werewolf...or even just a regular person. You just gotta lean on the people who care about you to help you get through it. People like us, like Seth, and your mom. . .and me."

I snort disdainfully at his statement. "Yeah right, Jacob Black and Leah Clearwater, best friends forever."

He's silent then, and I wonder if I spoke too harshly. I don't have much room to criticize him, after all, he is holding me while I cry my eyes out in the middle of his kitchen floor. The awkwardness of the situation hits me then and I pull away from his now soaked chest to peer up at him. I'm feeling too broken to be embarrassed (and since when do I get embarrassed anyway), and so I stare at him boldly. I let myself take in every last detail about this boy I know so well and yet not at all. His face flushes a little at the intensity of my gaze, but his eyes never flicker away from my own. In the dim fluorescent lighting of the room against the starless night sky, he's gorgeous. I realize this fact with a start, and I'm shocked to find that I hadn't ever noticed before. He's younger than me, but yet, so grown up I can hardly recognize the little brat who used to play lego's with my brother. His eyes, always dark, are now black with intensity,I feel my breath grow short and uneven, this is ridiculous, I try to tell my uncooperative lungs. He's Jacob! The silly little werewolf boy who would live in his garage if his dad let him! Who calls me names and teases me and...lets me cry on his shoulder.

Well that much is new, at least to me. I wonder if it, if he, this grown up Jacob has been here longer than I realize but I have been too wrapped up in my own problems to notice. It is entirely possible, I decide, and wonder what else I might have missed in the meantime.

We sit there for what might be an eternity, just staring at each other in silence while my tears begin to slow. Finally, he lifts one large, callused hand to cup my face, running a hot thumb under one eye and then the other to wipe away the salty precipitation. That simple action breaks something inside me, and without a second thought to what I'm doing I lean up and capture his lips with my own.

I haven't kissed anyone since Sam, and even that was years ago. I almost forgot that thrill in the pit of your stomach from just the slightest bit of contact, but it only takes a moment for the sensation to race through me, cutting through the pain and warming me to my fingertips. It's a soft kiss, just a simple, singular brush of my lips against his before I lean back. I'm scared, of course, but my fear of rejection doesn't even have a chance to bite before he tilts his head forward and repeats the gentle caress. I note the strange yet wonderful feeling of his too-hot mouth against my own, before he moves it to press gently against my temple, and then my forehead. We lean against each other then, connected at this strange junction while I close my eyes and struggle to control my pounding heart. A thousand conflicting emotions pulse through me. Fear, pain, desire, disbelief… Is this really happening? Or perhaps, more strangely, is this really feeling so entirely and inexplicably...right? I sigh softly, so softly I think he won't hear, but of course I'm mistaken. He slides a large, warm hand up from where it rests on my waist to place it against the nape of my neck, his finger entangling themselves in my matted black hair. He uses this leverage to pull me closer to him then I thought possible, inclining his head down so that our gazes once again meet. His eyes are wide and imploring, searching mine for permission while our lips remain separately by only the slightest of breaths. I smile, and in doing so I feel the scratch of his stubble against my chin.

Yes, Jacob Black has definitely grown-up, and I have been too self-absorbed to catch it.

"Is this...I mean...is it okay if..." He stutters, the nervous words sounding foreign in his deep voice, husky with desire. He grimaces at his own statement, those beautiful eyes finally breaking contact as he stares at the ground.

On second thought, maybe he hasn't matured quite as much as I gave him credit for. But I decide I'm okay with it.

"Yeah, it's okay. Just don't think this makes you my boyfriend or anything, Black." My voice is soft, breathy, and coming in short pants. I watch a flicker of confusion dance across his face and then light up his eyes and he captures mine once more.

"As long as you don't think this makes you my girlfriend or anything, Clearwater." He growls back, before leaning in to kiss me, really kiss me this time, finally deepening the contact we both so desperately crave.

My already hot flesh now feels like it is smoldering, due in part to the proximity his own elevated temperature and the fire he has ignited in me. I feel droplets of perspiration beading on my lower back where he has slipped his hand under the hem of my shirt to rest on my skin, and the direct contact of our skin positively sizzles. I pull away first, gasping for air and fanning my face with my hands to catch my breathe. He chuckles at this, the deep rumble in his chest resonating deliciously throughout my body as I lean against him. I relish the feeling, the safety and the warmth, and drop my hands to cling to him all the more tightly. His kiss, his touch, and his amazing laugh makes something fluttery deep inside my chest twist violently in such happiness that I almost feel bad for making him blush barely even an hour ago. Almost, because it brought us to this. Almost, because I can't wait to make him blush some more.

He hears Billy first, and for once in my life I thank God for being a werewolf. It only takes a split second for us to disengage from each other, but as soon as I'm on my feet I feel them being swept out from underneath me. Jacob's strong arms snatch me up and lift me into the air, bridal style. We twirl in a dizzying circle one time before he sets me down on the counter and plants a kiss on the tip of my nose. He dashes away in an instant, and by the time Seth pushes Billy's wheelchair through the door his upper body is hidden inside the refrigerator. He swings his hips from side to side to a silent tune and I feel the giant grin on my face grow even wider. This simply will not do. I am Leah, the miserable she-wolf. I don't smile.

But now I can't stop.

And I don't want to. So when Seth quirks an eyebrow I stick my tongue out at him good-naturedly, enjoying the perplexed look that washes over his features at my uncharacteristic response. I thank Billy for letting me borrow a tool he will never notice I don't take from the garage and hop off the counter to make my exit. On my way out the door I can't help but to give the fridge door a gentle shove, squishing Jake between the mustard and cold cuts. He gives a high-pitched false squeal of pain, and that stupid smile shows up once again. I bolt out of there before my brother and Jake's dad can say anything.

I take the long way home, the human way, enjoying the cool breeze and listening to the crickets chirp. I let my mind wander from Jacob back to my father, and though more tears follow the memories I arrive home feeling better than I have in a long time. About my past...about my future.

It's a nice feeling, letting go.

Since I missed the fitting, my bridesmaid dress (stupid, pink, halter-y thing) was a little tight when it came in. Like the guys, I've grown more than a little since becoming a werewolf, and Emily hadn't allowed that margin of error when recalling my size. If it had been too big I could have taken it to be altered, but since there really isn't a way to add more fabric, or more time to order another size, I just have to deal with it. My mom tries to help me make it work, buying me this corset that had certainly been constructed by satan-worshippers and putting my heels on for me when we discover that I can't quite bend that far down without popping a few seams, but I'm still uncomfortable as hell. I can't inhale or exhale too deeply in the thing, and sitting was definitely out of the picture, but as Jacob walks me back down the aisle after the ceremony is over, he leans over and whispers something in my ear that makes everything worth it. If Jake thinks that I'm the most beautiful woman in the church, breathing is definitely highly overrated.

This was the convergence of two fics I had an idea for, but no urge to write. Abner suggested I morph them into one, and though it took a little time, here it is! I know it ends abruptly, but I'm more interested in how Blackwater could come to be, and once I get there I get bored. .. .Hope you enjoyed!