Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight
Summary: Leah learns that you don't need to sleep to have nightmares, and she may not be the one getting the shortest end of the stick after all.
It took Leah several years to realise that the vilest of nightmares were not wholly confined by the intangible boundaries of sleep.
When she looked back on it with the jaundiced perspective of one weary beyond their years, the prevalent theme of her childhood nightmares was more than a trifle ironic, for in every single one that she remembered, they ended with a snarl, a scream wrenched from her own throat and her sitting bolt upright in her bed, dripping with sweat to find her parents exhaustedly coaxing her into wakefulness.
Her father would tease her, unfailingly but not unkindly the next morning when he asked her if she had dreamt of wolves again, and she would choke out an affirmative between spoonfuls of oatmeal. The wolves in the old legends were supposed to be defenders of their people, benevolent protectors of the tribe against the nefarious 'Cold Ones', but a beast is a beast, a beast in human form was marginally more acceptable to little Leah's way of thinking, and the tales of their strength, size and ferocity did nothing to quell her aversion.
Neither did actually becoming the object of her abhorrence. Although the nightmares she endured while slumbering were infinitely preferable to the living one her life had become.
Her long time boyfriend imprinted, not that she was aware of the existence of the detestable phenomenon at the time, and left her within an hour of meeting her cousin, claiming that the years they had spent together paled in comparison to the connectionhe felt with Emily. Then she was responsible for going the way of her ex with the not so minute offence of causing her father to lose his life due to the terror of witnessing her transformation.
In her less sober moments, she resented him for not taking it in his stride the way that Sue had learned to do, for not surviving that silly heart attack, for having been so phony as to die when he had so lovingly promoted the virtues of those fabled wolves.
Now she welcomed whatever terrors visited her nightly, for they were positively utopian when compared to the reality that awaited in the cold light of day.
She'd thought she had seen it all. She had, in many respects, he had just seen more. He defined the phrase 'Been there, done that'.
While she would sleep to escape reality and awaken to escape the nightmares, he was not graced with such a choice.
His story had not shocked her, when he had haltingly detailed his inglorious past to her. She had seen the signs, as it were. Nobody was as reserved and isolated as he without harbouring an innate fear of rejection. She told him, in the most clinical manner she could achieve, that he should stop skulking around like a fox about to be caught in the chicken coop, and start acting like he had as much right to be in that family as any of them that had been turned by Carlisle, and that he hadn't just jumped on Alice's coattails.
He was stunned speechless, and she had inwardly preened with satisfaction that she had been able to throw the infuriatingly composed creature off kilter just a smidge.
The satisfaction had also helped to mask the unwillingly scrap of pity the sorry tale had birthed, which he surely would have noticed in any other circumstance.
Slowly she came to realise that she was not the only one to endure a torturous existence. She refused to downplay her agony. If it must be borne, then she would bear it kicking and screaming to the end.
To him, his suffering was of his own doing, for not escaping his creator sooner, for believing her lies about the lack of an alternative source of nourishment, for the brutal culling of the newborns in his care. Leah thought he had had paid his dues on that last offence, for dying a thousand deaths along with his victims would be penance enough for the most evil of beings.
And he was notevil. She had never envisioned the scenario she then found herself embroiled in, of attempting to convince a moral vampire that he wasn't beyond redemption, and that despite Alice leaving him, eternity was not to be the continuation of hell he was predicting with such heart wrenching certainty.
A tiny part of her mind, the part that others frequently drowned out, suggested that she merely baulked at the notion that someone thought they could lay claim to the title of most agonising life, or afterlife, and that she was only trying to help him for the simple reason that she could return to her own suffering without viewing it as a competition that she had to win. Stubbornness, that's all it was.
She eventually conceded that it was only partly wrong.
He once said that her emotions were like lightning without the thunder. Abrupt and searing, there was nothing gradual about them, the shift in her mood, from disdain to despair, calm to fury, apathy to euphoria. She laughed at this assertion, and his resulting flinch warmed her heart and the blood pumping through it to boiling point.
Regardless of what the old pack had said, she considered it her God given right to feel however she wanted. She had not wanted to be a shifter, or be a part of her former lovers troop of buffoons, and after she had been bombarded with so many grotesque images of glamour models and imprints in dubious states of dishabille that she felt she was becoming a lesbian by osmosis, she was particularly disinclined to exercise any control over them or the thoughts that fuelled them.
She refused to even try to curb the intensity of her emotions around him, even when she had privately admitted to herself that he had considerably more right to request it than that band of hormonal apes and she was reluctantly gratified when he extended the courtesy that they had not, even when he as good as declared that it pained him beyond imagining.
According to everyone else, her company was unbearable.
According to him, she made the guilt bearable. She welcomed the mutiny of irony and cheerfully took it on board her rebel ship.
And when she had finally gotten through to him that he should step out from the shadow of his whiter than white ex wife's unsettlingly exuberant personality, she was forced to eat her words as her mouth was unexpectedly occupied by a cool tongue that left room for little else. In the after, when they were blissfully entangled and she could grudgingly acknowledge that the scent of charred cotton candy wasn't quite so jarring to the nose and the terror had turned tail only for the dream to come skipping in its wake, she didn't fear the nightmares of her waking or slumbering worlds.
She told him that if he compared the aforementioned and admittedly indescribable lovemaking to a dream or something similarly stereotypical, his dignity would be irredeemable in her eyes. Then it was his turn to laugh, when he declared even had he retained the ability to dream, he was not inspired enough to concoct a vision of such untamed perfection, naked as the day she was born, eyes every ounce as demanding and predatory as the wolf she contained, unashamed and proud and feral as a nature goddess to be worshipped unequivocally.
She asked him to demonstrate how he, as her devotee, would implement this in practice, and as the lust grew heavy in the air until she couldn't tell if it belonged to either or both of them, she was determined that by the time she was through with him, he would be as beyond redemption as she.
And he would never wish it otherwise.
She had someone to wake up to. He had someone to dream of.
Their nightmare was finally over.