Near to You

A/N: This was entirely inspired by the song "Near to You" by A Fine Frenzy. Go listen to it. Now. Go do it. Listen to it as you read this. Dooo itttt.
This is sappy and sad and sweet, but I hope you like it. Let me know.

She knows she needs him, even as she spits out a verbal barb meant specifically to hurt him. Not to taunt him, not to tease him, but to hurt him. She doesn't try to do it, but she doesn't remember how else to treat someone. And she knows as soon as the words leave her lips that he's done, he's had enough, and she's only surprised it took as long as it did.

Years. That's how long she's been pushing him away, that's how long she's been blocking his way in. It's just easier this way, it's familiar. She can't do anything but push him away, because she's broken. She's not broken like a toy with a snapped off piece or something that just needs new batteries. She's broken like a snow globe that's been dropped off a cliff and shattered into a thousand pieces. And all the water's leaked out.

Because when Sam left her, he didn't just leave. He pulled a Sherman-through-Georgia, looting and burning everything in his path. Leah just happened to be in his path.

He didn't just break her heart. He broke her spirit.

She had started to let herself believe that she could just be again. Because when she was with Jake it was like she was better. She'd hoped the automatic reaction she had to scorn, to hurt, to push – she'd hoped it would fade. She'd believed it would, with him. And she'd hoped he'd wait, she really did, even though she knew that wasn't fair and that he deserved better than secondhand. But she knows he can't wait, won't wait, she knows better than that deep down, because fate has it in for her and there really is something too wrong with her for even Jake to fix.

He's staring at her and she knows he doesn't want to but they both know he should. So he turns away.

Years. That's how long it's taken her to heal even this much, and she still has a long way to go. And she knows that without Jake, she doesn't even want to bother, though it's taken her all those years to admit it. But she still hasn't told him, and so it really doesn't matter if she knows, because he doesn't. Oh, he knows the broken part, he knows the mean part, but he doesn't know the need part. He waited with her and helped her for longer than she possibly deserved and she should take that and be grateful, except she can't.

She knows she should tell him these things, even as they fly through her head over and over, but she still can't manage to form the words.

He's walking away and she's letting him go, and it's like Sam all over again but worse.

Because years. That's how long she's been falling in love with him, and it's a greater, better love than she ever had for Sam. Her love for Sam came from the sky and it shined down and it warmed her, but her love for Jake had roots. It held her down. It helped her grow.

He's at the door and she knows this is it, she might as well stop breathing now because that's what it feels like. She can't speak, can't even cry.

And then he turns back to her. And he's moving towards her again and he stops in front of her with pleading eyes like she's the one leaving him.

"I'll stay," he's saying, "but only if you tell me why I should."

Leah gapes at him, and she knows this is her chance. This is when she can make that final step towards healing, towards happiness, towards love.

"Because," she begins, only to falter. Jake's eyes have so much hurt and she wants to make it better, she wants to help him in all the ways he's helped her. There is a voice in her head that tells her that if she wants to help him she should let him go, but she drowns it out when she remembers that he's still here. He's still waiting.

She still can't speak, not eloquently enough to even form sentences. She begins to panic because this is her chance and she's wasting it.

Jake sighs and it's a sigh that says he should've known. He closes his eyes against her and she knows that if she can't tell him, she has to show him.

She places her hand against the left side of his chest, right over his heart. It is steady and strong and everything Jake is. At her touch, Jake opens his eyes again and watches her carefully. She places his hand over her own heart and lets him feel its beat for a moment, and she sends out a prayer to the universe that he understands.

Their hearts beat together, like one.

He meets her gaze again and she knows he needs more. So she steps into him, and their hearts beat faster together, and she brings her lips to his for the first time.

Their kiss breaks and their foreheads press together.

"Stay," she finally says, "because I need you. Because I'm better with you."

"I need to hear you say it, Leah," he whispers, and she knows he's begging.

And this really is the point of no return. She can never take this back. But as she looks into his eyes, she realizes she will never want to.

"I love you."