A/N I don't own anything. Thanks to Sharebear for the title.
I sat with my laptop open and textbook on my lap, verifying the latest section of my paper. Everything looked good so far. I grabbed another reference and checked my work against that as well. I jumped down to my citations and made sure that everything was listed there. This bloody paper was going to be a quarter of my grade; it needed to be perfect.
I flipped windows to my email.
Just saying hi and wondering if you have a better idea what you'd like to do tomorrow night. Movie? Dinner? I can cook. I make wicked Pad Thai. Let me know.
I smiled. He cooked. What kind of luck was that? I started to write a reply:
Pad Thai sounds fabulous. I'll bring the wine. Unless you'd rather I bring the Vitamin R.
I didn't get a chance to send before my phone rang. I looked to the clock. It was one in the morning. Who would be calling me now?
"Doug?" I asked.
"No." The voice was familiar, but different.
"Black? Is that you, Jake?"
"Heh, yeah. Long time no see, Leah."
"No kidding. That was kinda intentional, you know."
"Yeah, I know." He was sheepish. That meant he wanted something.
"So why are you calling me in the dead of night, Jacob?"
There was a pause. He wanted something and I wasn't going to like it. This just kept getting better.
"Is Seth Okay?" I finally blurted out, starting to fume.
I stood up and stretched. I wasn't angry, I reminded myself. He hadn't woken me. He hadn't said anything, yet.
"Seth's great, Leah. Helping my dad get shitfaced as we speak."
I relaxed. I should have remembered the upcoming wedding. I was still debating inviting Doug. We weren't that serious yet. A wedding, with family, that might be pushing it.
"I have a favor to ask, Leah."
Here it comes. "Yes, Jake?"
"Nessie's gone to Italy, to the Volturi."
I really didn't care about his freak of an imprint. She was sweet and all, but she was still half-leech. On the other hand, she did a hell of a job on those creeps chasing her. I had to respect a girl who was prepared to stand up for herself. Which brought us back to those creeps, the bloodsuckers. "Yeah? I thought we took care of that problem."
"Apparently they've regrouped. I'm taking a handful of us with her family to bring her back."
Oh no. No, no, no. No, he was not.
"And you know Sam's got Levi now."
"I cannot believe you're asking me this." I was growling. I was actually growling. Goddamn Jacob Black.
"I need you, Leah. I need my second. I'm bringing the puppy, and I know you can keep him in line." I wasn't listening anymore. I was desperately trying to count breaths. In-two-three-four-five. Out-two-three-four-five. Yogic breathing. Keep calm. You are a woman, not a bitch. "You know I wouldn't ask if I didn't need you, right?"
"Yeah," I admitted gruffly. "I know."
"But with Ness in trouble, I'm going to be a piss-poor Alpha. I need a second with pull, and that's you. None of the boys will give you any kinda crap."
I chuckled. "Keep buttering, Jake. I think you've almost greased me up. When's this pleasure cruise leaving?"
"Five? But from Seattle, so you can take your time."
I snorted; so much for sleep tonight. "Yeah, I'll see you there." I hung up and went back to my laptop. The screensaver had just come on. I saw my letter to Doug. Crap. I deleted it and started over.
Bad news. Family needs me for the weekend. Really crappy timing, I know. I'm so sorry to bail on you. We'll do something during the week, okay?
Jacob Black was going to pay. I closed my laptop and packed it with a couple of my books in my messenger bag. Then I pulled out a duffel for a few clothes and necessities. I opened my closet. What wouldn't I miss? I pulled out a ratty old sundress. I was amazed the thing didn't have holes. Why had I brought this to Seattle at all? It belonged in a rag bag. Still the sunflowers were cute. It would be excellent shred-wear. I changed into clean jeans and a button down shirt. Finally, I set the alarm on my phone and tried to get an hour or two of shut-eye.
At four-thirty, I paid the cabbie and took a seat on a bench outside the airport. There was no missing the parade of flashy cars as they made their appearance. My brother stepped out of one and my eyes narrowed again. Jacob was bringing Seth. I shouldn't have been surprised, but I was. He really knew how to push my buttons. I also counted leeches. They were two short. Doctor Fang wasn't among them. Great. I picked up my bags and met Jacob outside the doors.
"I can't believe you have me flying with leeches to meet more leeches," I complained.
"Yeah, but it's to take out a whole lot of bloodsuckers, so you're going to come, right?" He smiled at me. What gall. What utter arrogance. And then he put his arm around me. Did he not know how hard I was fighting to keep composure? He probably didn't, I was doing a good job.
"Yeah, for that, and to make sure you don't get my little brother killed." I punched Seth in the arm and he whimpered like the baby he was.
"Thanks for coming," Jacob said with a kiss. "I need a level head out there. Mine's going to be a mess."
I shrugged off his arm. He really had some nerve. "If I have to spend another year trying to shed the wolf, Jacob Black, more than your mind is going to be a mess."
We checked in, and I happily took a window seat. No one was going to try trading with me. Seth sat with me for a while. He caught me up on everything new with Mom and Charlie, which wasn't much. They were old and happy. Work was work. What was new? So I pulled out my laptop and started working on my paper some more while he slept. I had a reply from Doug:
Sorry to hear you won't be around this weekend. I still have all the ingredients for Pad Thai. How's Thrusday?
Nice, he wasn't mad. I replied to tell him we were on for Thursday. Around then Jake woke Seth and took his seat.
I punched his arm when he sat down. "I owe you way more than that," I reminded him.
"Yeah, you do," he agreed. "How are you, Leah? Liking Seattle?"
"I am. Classes are great. I have a job just off campus in a pizza joint. It sucks, but it gives me a little extra cash. And I have a boyfriend." I punched him again.
"What was that one for?" he asked.
"Making me miss his Pad Thai. He was going to cook for me this weekend, you jerk." I was teasing though, and he could tell.
"That's awesome. That you got a guy, not that I'm a jerk." He yawned widely. "I should really sleep, but I just can't."
I just nodded; I didn't really care about his personal issues. I was kinda curious why his girl had run off, but didn't especially want to ask. "Why are we on such an early flight anyway?" I asked instead.
"To beat the Vamps from Denali."
"More bloodsuckers, just great," I muttered.
"Yeah, the more the merrier, right?"
"Whatever." I pulled out one of my books and opened it.
"That for class?"
"Yeah. This had better not take long. I have a paper to finish for next week."
"A paper? What's it on?"
"Substance abuse. Cocaine specifically." I showed him the cover of my book.
"Really? So, does studying addictions like that help you understand why we wolf and why it's so hard to stop?" Insight – not Jacob's strongest suit.
"A little. I'm still figuring it out myself. When I have an answer for you, I'll let you know." I smiled and looked back into my book.
"So, who's the guy?" he asked now. "How long?"
I narrowed my eyes. Why did he want to know? "Not long. Just a classmate. His name is Doug. I don't know if it's going to work, but it's nice to know I can still snag a guy." I grinned.
"And one who cooks Pad Thai," he laughed.
"Well, I've got my standards."
He fell asleep after that and I went back to my paper and my book. Edward looked over the seat at me at one point. What?
"Interesting paper," he commented.
It was a quiet flight for the most part. Most of us slept. I looked out the window eagerly when we were flying over the continent. I'd never been so far from home. The green here was completely different from our forests. The white of the buildings made a startling contrast.
Of course, nothing is simple. We had to sit around the Pisa airport waiting for leeches. Doctor Fang and the soldier were already there, but the ladies were taking their sweet time coming from Alaska.
Airports are so generic. If we had to wait I wanted to be outside. I was pacing before I realized it. I stopped myself and did some stretching instead. I drew a bit of an audience. I didn't give a damn. If they'd never seen the sun salutation before, screw them.
I felt more human after a set of three and went in search of coffee. I found the Cullens getting a rental vehicle a couple counters down. I walked back with them. "How many are we?" I asked the doc.
"Eight in our family, five in Tanya's and six of your pack, of course."
I nodded and sipped my java. "We need all that?" I asked.
"Hopefully we don't need any of us," he answered. Always the optimist. I quickened my pace and got upwind of them. My nose was going to regret this decision. Check that, my nose already regretted this decision.
Thankfully the second clan had arrived in my absence, so we were ready to go. The coffee had woken me just enough to really enjoy the scenery. We only had two leeches in our van, too, so the smell wasn't unbearable. Some of the guys could use with a shower though.
The buildings were so... old. I'd never seen things so old. Our people had been on the peninsula for centuries, but our structures were never meant to last. Not like these stone buildings. And the sculptures and fountains, it all screamed of age and time.
"Leah," she short leech asked me, "can you collect a change from everyone? Just in case you need it." She passed me a pack.
"Yeah." I passed the bag around and the guys all stuffed shorts and shirts in. "Okay, all Y chromosomes out, please." I demanded. I got a couple of odd looks, but closed the door forcefully on them all before changing into my shred-wear. I squeezed my jeans and shirt on the top of the pack and opened the door again. I kicked off my shoes just before jumping down.
"Thanks," Alice said, taking the bag from me.
"Sure. Thank you." She didn't need to carry all our stuff. Well, one of them did. It defeated the purpose if one of us carried it.
She smiled at me, and I walked a little faster to catch up to Jake. Just because I was polite, didn't mean I wanted to get friendly. I watched the doc suddenly veer off the road. What the hell? Then we caught up to the smell. Leeches. Gag me.
"You are going to pay," I muttered at Jake, covering my nose.
"So don't come any closer," he suggested. "Take a look around, clear your nose. I got this." If he wanted to rub elbows with the bloodsuckers, who was I to argue.
I walked back to the guys. "Hey, just a pack of leeches ahead, but not one that concerns us, apparently. I'm not getting any closer than I have to. I suggest you do the same."
I was met with nods. Quil looked a little off. "You all right?" I asked him as the others headed into the grass.
"I'll be okay. Never been this far from Claire, that's all."
Imprints – I didn't want to know. "Well, keep it together." I turned away and found a lone, scrubby looking tree. I climbed up to get a better view of the countryside. I watched the boys chasing each other below and shook my head. What a bunch of kids. As I did, I realized I'd let my hair grow out. Crap, I was going to be shaggy. Well, good thing it was just the once.
Jacob let out a shrill whistle and I cringed. I jumped down from the tree and slapped him. "What the hell was that? We don't have names?"
"Shit, sorry, Leah. I'm just used to doing that at home." He blushed. Right, they were all still wolves. It was just me trying not to be.
"Yeah, whatever." I crossed my arms and followed the leech parade into town.