A/N: Here's a special thank you to Reamhar and SecretlySeverus for seeing my story through to its end. I've learned so much from them, as well as from everyone who's reviewed.
~Leah: Seventy years later~
The older I get, the less I believe that that spirit animal bogus was ever legit. It's a suspiciously good excuse for my wolf-soul-mate brother to own dog after slobbering dog. He only keeps them away from me half the time I visit, I might add, the half the time when I rehash our troubled youth. When I remind him how poor Ness had to meditate for weeks just to rescue him from his pet's sinister kinsmen.
Everyone was safe and sound in the end, blah blah blah. He always reminds me of that. We found Dad in a half-dead dog that once belonged to Embry's grandma. It's surreal to remember that reunion still…good surreal, but also just intense. When Seth or anyone else casually brings back those memories, I make an excuse to leave and have a date with my favorite old trees.
Jake and Seth were so excited to welcome Dad back that the clapped him on the shoulder and knocked him over. The worst part was that I couldn't even keep dad from falling-I was frail like him, not rejuvenated like Jake and Seth. Even Carlisle could confirm that my body was in some kind of limbo-I wasn't aging like Jake and Seth were, at least not yet. Every day I prayed (to no deity in particular) that my body would make up its mind. I just wanted that pained look of longing to leave Nessie's face.
As soon as was marginally polite, the day of the reunion, I made off for a circle of firs I'd seen that morning. I was choking up with guilt for putting my family ahead of Ness, and I almost snapped at her for making the feeling worse when I found her sitting on a fir stump. I didn't snap, thank god, and she didn't even say hi to me. She just held a folded piece of paper up out of my reach and handed me a blank sheet and a pencil. Without looking down or trying to hide what I was writing, I scrawled, The goddamned mission is over, and I still love you.
Before I finished writing, she dropped her folded up paper in the dirt. I didn't try to pick it up…I just let her kiss me. The next time Carlisle ran a test on me, I was making immortality enzymes or whatever. Maybe a coincidence, but I doubt it.
There is one thing I seem to have lost to the wolves forever: I'm still a genetic dead end. My period never came back, but…I'll deal. I've changed more than enough diapers at this point, what with Jake, Seth, and Dad having babies and grand-babies. They all got married, sooner or later, and of course my mom married Charlie. I think I even changed Angela's baby's diapers once or twice, before she moved back east for that fancy professor gig.
Mom, Dad, and Charlie have been dead for more than twenty years. It shouldn't hurt anymore, I think, but it still really does. I'm physically still an age where having no parents is a weird, sad thing, but since when has my physical age had anything to do with anything? When I was really twenty years old, I turned into a wolf and lost my dad…basically grew up hyper-fast 'til I felt a hundred. The older I get though, the more distant that time seems, and the younger I feel, in a lot of ways.
Ness broke down in private after Charlie's funeral, and we talked about Jake's death for the first time in years. Charlie was old, and it was a completely different deal, but the difference doesn't really register when you're immortal.
Some of our tears that night were for Jake, never mind that he came back safe and sound. It wasn't that we didn't love beer-bellied Grandpa Jake, more that young Jake vanished forever without anyone noticing.
I definitely wonder what Grandma Leah would look like sometimes. Ness wonders the same thing aloud. I counter by wondering what her kids would look like, which isn't even hypothetical-we think she could have them. Jake even gave her a vial of his sperm for her birthday once. It was a joke, but she keeps it in Carlisle's fanciest freezer.
We've talked about that vial off-and-on over the years. Not jokingly, but not super-seriously either. We've gotten in the habit of talking more seriously about it after funerals, but so far it's stayed frozen, and I'm totally fine with that. Rather, I'd be fine if not for the reason behind Ness's cold feet: the fact that she perfectly remembers her childhood as far from perfect.
On the surface, it's not clear why Nessie's childhood was so awful. She was loved and rich and way too perfect to punish. I might not understand how she feels, as much as I love her, if I couldn't experience her memories firsthand. It hurts more than you might think to grow up with a secret identity you can't talk about, to watch actors on TV and know that they can stop acting whenever they want, when you can never stop acting unless you're alone with your family.
I'm positive we're going to have the sperm talk today. We're going to a funeral, but that's not the main reason. Until yesterday, there was more where that sperm came from (cue cringe), but now…there isn't. Jake's gone.
Jake is going to be honored with traditional trappings galore. His resurrection made the Quileutes more religious on the whole, though their faith was never quite the same again. Hermie and Helen got to come out of hiding and were put on the council for a while. We all kept in touch with them sort of, but still…we wouldn't have had them give the eulogy if they were still alive.
Nessie takes a little longer to get dressed and glammed up than I do, so I'm waiting in our living room for her to come downstairs. I'm glad the staircase is straight and exposed enough that I get several seconds of good staring time.
It's not that Ness looks especially glammed after all-her silk dress is a little wrinkled and the part in her hair is askew. I'm dazzled by the way she looks more in control of herself than she's looked at a funeral before. She's been crying; you can tell-she never pretends to be okay when she's not-but when she sees me, she smiles a smile that comes from her eyes.
A/N: My second special thank you is for everyone who's followed my story to its end. I hope you'll forgive me for not resolving everything, but as a reader, I like being free to imagine a certain amount for myself. Nothing would make me happier than to inspire more Leah and Nessie stories; for some of you to say what I left out or correct what I got wrong. Thank you for getting to know me a little through my story, and for letting me get to know you a little through your reviews. I would love to meet more of you now that it's over, and for you to consider griping about the stuff I need to improve on, even if you've never done so. Thanks again for reading!