a/n: the title is (shamelessly) stolen from a song by "the hold steady." and... that would be all. enjoy :)

Seth was pretty sure that this was breaking every single rule about being a wolf, ever.

But it wasn't like it was his fault, seriously-- Nessie's the one who came to him, Nessie's the one who kissed him, Nessie's the one who told him she loathed it when people call her 'Renesmee' and when Jacob counted her age by years instead of looks. Nessie's the one who said it was okay, that she wanted it, Nessie and her stupid almost-red hair and Bella-eyes.

She still liked showing instead of telling; he knew by the barest rasp in her voice when she talked, riddled by disuse. Seth also thought, very privately (because the very was necessary when you happened to share a mind with your sister and the guy who imprinted on the girl who you like to make out with... occasionally), that she should talk out loud more often, use words instead of pictures. Which had nothing to do with the fact that her voice sounded like the curve of a swan's neck, the beat of the rain.

But still. It was hard to remember that reason when her hand was pressed against his neck, his cheek, his forehead, showing him just what she was thinking about doing with him. And then he'd say something stupid that he always expected to ruin the moment, Damn Ness, what kinda porno romance novels y'been stealing from Rose?

Except it never did, and, well... whatever she showed him, they ended up doing by the end of the night. Every time. Nessie Cullen was just persuasive that way.

Seth spent a lot of time cataloging the things about her that Jacob never seemed to noticed. It was a pathetically easy task, he found out, because the only thing Jake ever noted was her Bella-eyes and Edward-hair, Bella-hands and Edward-laugh. Like she was a complete and utter extension of her parents, like she didn't even have that completely unique way of curving her mouth up just a little bit when she wanted to smile but was too sleepy to do it. That exact pattern of the freckles falling across her shoulder blades, that pale white arch of her foot when she balanced on her toes.

He wondered if Jacob knew that Nessie liked grapes more than any other human food. He wondered if Jacob could tell you that she loved it when he traced over the lines of her palm with his fingers, that it was something he did a lot when it just looked like their hands were hanging close together. Did Jacob know how much she hated it when everyone crowded around her, talked to her, kissed her, hugged her, loved her, all way too much, all at the same time? That sometimes she just wanted everything to be quiet?

Seth might not have been able to give her eternal love and devotion and all that jazz, but he could give her peace and quiet.

Ever since his mother had moved in with Charlie and Leah reclaimed the tattered shreds of her independence by moving into her very own apartment, the house was his by default, and it was quiet. Nessie liked it there best of all-- she showed that to him while they were watching some lame Lifetime movie on TV in his living room. And Seth was definitely proud to say that she was getting way better with her thought-showing: now she could picture whole sentences, words laid out like type on a computer, and talk without saying a word.

It's nice here.

"Yup," Seth answered blandly. "It is."

Nessie rolled over onto her back, her arm just barely long enough to keep her fingers grazing his jaw. I like quiet.

"I know."

He wondered if her short, disjointed sentences would offend anybody else-- make them think it was just nice, polite, insincere thanks for letting her escape here for awhile. But Seth Clearwater knew sincerity when he saw it (an excellent gift for if he ever became a vampire, if he did say so himself), and he also knew that she could only talk as long as she kept the words clear in her mind, and that took a lot of concentration. And, even if she did look on the edge of seventeen, she was still six years old at her very, very core. And distraction came easily to six year olds.

Nessie rocked her body back again, onto her original position. She landed much closer to him this time, though, the whole side of her pressed against the whole side of him. Seth couldn't say that he minded.

Her hand was still on his jaw. Can I call Momma?

The childish appellation didn't faze him. "If you want," he answered lazily, and reached over to flick the volume on the TV down.

She stood up then, quickly and gracefully, moving so fast she blurred in his peripheral vision. She was at the phone that hung from his wall, an ancient corded beige thing leftover from the seventies that Seth never really had the time or inclination (or money, yeah, that could've helped) to replace.

"Hello? Momma? Yes-- I'm at Seth's house."

He got up then, stretching his arms over his head and realizing a little belatedly that, oh yeah, he sort of didn't have a shirt on. Whoops. Things like that were easily forgettable for a teenage werewolf (and didn't that sound like an action movie tag line?). Nessie raised her eyes to meet his, on the cusp of smiling.

"I will. Yes, I did. I know. Yes, of course. No, I hunted with Daddy, remember? All right. Yes. I love you too, Momma. Goodbye."

He had exactly enough time to take one step forward, and then she was on him. The phone was sitting neatly in its cradle, something he had never seen her actually do, but was sort of very efficiently distracted by her hands on the dusky hairs of his arm. She looked up at him, pursing her lips together, and for the life of him, Seth could not make himself see what Jacob saw whenever he looked at his imprint: the perfect genetic combination of Edward and Bella, the half-vampire, the miracle baby. The hybrid, the one-out-of-five. The stranger.

Seth didn't know if that was good or bad, either. But all he could see was Nessie-- Nessie with hair that always fell so enticingly over his sheets, Nessie and her eyebrows that arched up whenever she was excited, Nessie's walk, the bounce in her step when she wanted to tell him something.

Seth only had another two and a half seconds to consider the fact that, no matter which way you sliced it, he always ended up seeing his Alpha's imprint so much more clearly than his Alpha ever did. Then Nessie kissed him, and her brightness blinded him, and his thoughts went silent.