AN: This is an outtake from The Quiet Room. You're welcome to read it anyway, but it'll actually make sense (hopefully) if you read TQR first. And yeah. That's it.

Beta'd by stitchcat and pre-read by HammerHips.

Disclaimer: S. Meyer owns the Twilight shit. Not me. Shocking; I know.

When the Bitterness Fades

Sitting in my spot on the edge of the cliff, staring over the rowdy surf to the white sand of First Beach, I thought back to memories that I shouldn't. It was a lifetime ago, but I couldn't let go.

The moon was high in the night sky as we laid on our backs, just holding hands. Just spending time together. I'd snuck out of the house for this and it was so worth it. Looking over at his profile in the dark, his chiseled jaw, his thin lips set in his constant almost-scowl, I couldn't imagine ever being without him. His dark eyes said the same as he pulled me onto his chest, and then to his mouth.

The man could kiss me senseless and I lived for the next time. His hands wandered down my back and over my denim cut-offs to grip the tops of my thighs as I straddled him.

"I've told you, Lee, I can wait. Your first time should be perfect." His deep voice melted me as much as the heat in his touch, but his body told a different story. I bucked my hips and ground slowly against his dick, causing him to growl slightly. "You're playing with fire, Little Girl."

"Then burn me, Sam." I said breathlessly. I wanted to sound confident but I couldn't even hold his gaze. I had no idea what I was doing. He only paused for a minute before rolling us over 'til he hovered over me.

With only the night to bear witness, he whispered promises of forever as I whispered his name. Promises his every move solidified and my inexperienced body mimicked. His lips seared my skin, his hands set my soul on fire, and had me begging for more.

But one look at my cousin, a month later, ended my forever.

I heard the howl and immediately I cringed. Pack meeting; oh joy. I took off behind the nearest tree, stripped down to nothing and tied my clothes to my leg. I don't care what kind of emergency we're having, or what war is coming, I'm not getting caught without a change of clothes again. It's bad enough that some of the little pervs hump trees while picturing my wolf version; I don't need them playing with their baby worms while replaying the glimpse they caught of my human ass. Hormone-ridden boys.

Since all of these fucking leeches hung out for a while after the battle and subsequent 'truce', our pack had had a few more members added. Young boys: not even thirteen. But did anyone discourage them? Did anyone tell them what happened the last time we went up against a vampire army? The devastation it caused? Hell no. They replayed their own highlight reels from the massacre for the pups; filling their heads with dreams of being the next savior of the tribe, of being the one that the spirits call upon to die to protect their people. Like they were even old enough to understand that going down in roaring flames of heroic glory is still going down. No Mother's kiss or chocolate chip cookies can fix it.

But what do I care? I'm just the bitch of the pack I thought, as I closed my eyes and surrendered to the shift. My muscles rippling, bones extending and morphing in ways never meant to be, and exploding till I landed on all fours.

Bitch is right. Paul's voice echoed through my head. Well there's that witty banter I've been longing for all day.

Focus! The strong alpha timbre reverberated through my mind, and all of the other wolves as well. Jacob hardly spoke anymore without utilizing his greatest weapon of leadership, but do you still call it leadership if the followers are forced to obey your every whim? I -

Oomph. I winced slightly but jumped up from the ground that I'd been abruptly introduced to with a sharp bite to my left flank and a quick shove just the same. It stung like a motherfucker and I walked around the semicircle of wolves, now tittering like little school girls, while hurling curses as loud as possible in my thoughts. They could laugh all they wanted at the limp I couldn't help, but I'll be damned if they hear me whine about the cheap shot. As the sole female in this pack, I had to be twice as fast and twice as tough to be thought as half the equal. First sign of weakness and they'd pounce on it.

I said focus! Here they come.

I took my place as fifth in the line-up and turned to face the same direction as the rest. The sickly-sweet bleach smell burned my nostrils and I had to fight to stifle the growl that shook my chest viciously. Every cell of my body screamed and shook with only one word, "Enemy!"

There must be ten of them.

Try again pup: fourteen.

Fuck! Why do they stink so much!

It's not that bad…

Shut up Seth! Came from four wolves simultaneously, including me. That boy would find the silver lining in a hurricane, I swear. He was Mr. Glass-half-full-and-I'm-gonna-tell-you-why. I swear the kid probably shit skittles because everything that came out of him was just so sweet and rainbow-colored.

Aw, c'mon! I'm not that bad.

Why are we here anyway?

Because I said so. Jacob growled. His 'voice' unhappy, to say the least, at having his orders questioned.

We could hear them pause, hiding among the trees just out of our sight, and then three stepped forward. They were letting us know they didn't see us as a threat. We were nothing to them besides pets.

The first through was their leader, Victoria. I got a sharp nudge in the side from Seth when I couldn't hold back my snarl upon seeing her. She took my Sam from me. Well, her and this curse from genetics and tribal spirits of old. When the elders used to sit around and talk about this spirit moving here, and that spirit being in the eagle there, I just rolled my eyes and passed it off as the ramblings of superstitious old men and maybe early-onset dementia, but when you become one of the ones touched by a spirit's curse, it's kind of hard to deny they exist. Believe me, I've tried.

This isn't Days of Our Lives wolf edition! Get a fucking grip, Leah!

This is exactly why chicks suck to have a mind link with.

Leah, take a hike. I'll deal with you later.

Jake, I'm -

GO! Again, that Alpha command seized my muscles and I had no choice but to obey.

Yes, Master. I snarled and took off straight toward the vamps. I could feel their shock, and if they'd been human, they probably would have pissed themselves as my tail swooshed across their faces. I'd pay for it later, but I could care less. When you'd lost everything, what more was there?

Once I found my stash of clothes, I phased back and took off running. I wasn't trying to outrun anything besides my own thoughts, my anger, my unimaginably horrible suspicions. I just needed to run.

I needed that release. To feel the earth beneath my bare feet and my muscles rippling with each length. To feel the rain whip across my face and taste the drops on my tongue. I needed to feel something besides rage and sorrow and hatred. So I ran.

I felt him behind me before I saw him, or even heard his loud ass. "If you want to talk to me, Little Brother, do it as a man, not a dog. Oh, wait. Same thing, huh?"

I turned and saw him strutting toward me in his cut-off sweats, looking very much like the little boy I'd protected from the class bully not so long ago, yet too much like Jacob for my liking. Sam would not have approved of any of this.

"Is the meeting over?" I asked, not really caring, but knowing he'd fill me in anyway.

"Yeah." Seth said quietly. He looked nervous, uncomfortable. The pack was one big boys club, and then there was me. Seth always got caught somewhere in the middle.

"What happened?" If that dog did anything to hurt my brother, Alpha or not, he'd be missing a tail by sundown.

"Oh, nothing big. It seems that Bella escaped," he looked confused as he said this, and I knew exactly why, "from that place she was at."

"You mean the home for psychos and veritable nutjobs?" He winced, ever the optimist, ever only willing to see the best about a person. No matter how crazy….no matter how evil.

"I thought she went there, well, on her own - or whatever. Why is it such a big deal that she left? Maybe she's better?" He wasn't really asking me, just thinking aloud, but I posed my own question in return.

"What'd Jake say?" Seth took on a distinct deer-in-the-headlights look. I'd seen that look before, on him and on Bambi; it always meant the same thing.

"Oh, he said that we needed to find her before she hurt someone, but his thoughts -" he stopped abruptly, then took on what I think was supposed to be a casual stance. "He phased to talk to the leeches and they decided to start looking for her. You know, for Charlie." I just shook my head. Not even Seth was this fucking naïve.

"For Charlie," I said, laying on every gum-drop, fairy-land expression and motion I could. "You mean they are going to work to bring a girl, who the vampires have always wanted dead, back to her father who threw her a very nice funeral just a few years ago. Boy, that is swell." Seth looked away, kicking at the ground, as I fluttered my lashes at him.

"They did that to protect her!"

"From what! From what, Seth? Those watered-down blood-suckers! Think, Seth! Get your head out of Jacob's ass and think!"

"Why do you always have to be a bitch, Leah?" I recoiled. My brother had never called me that, in his thoughts or in words. He didn't want to admit it, but he admired me too much to disrespect me. Plus, I'd give him the kind of beating he'd only read about. But not now. No, now - in this moment - that hurt.

"Why are you trying to pretend like everything is normal? That this is some Brady-esq attempt at a family reunion?" He just kept his head bowed. I knew he was sorry, but we'd deal with that later. The way I figured it, we only had a few more minutes alone and I had some questions needing answers.

"What were you saying about our beloved Alpha's thoughts?" Seth looked up, startled again.

"Oh, nothing -" He began uncomfortably. The boy never could lie worth a shit.

"Bullshit, Seth! He was hiding them again, wasn't he?" His silence was proof again. "I knew it!"

"You don't know anything, Sis! You think you do, and that's going to get you in trouble. Look, just keep your head down, and your mouth -" He stopped when he saw the look on my face.

"It was one thing when we were bound by a treaty that was forged by our predecessors to keep the peace with basically harmless leeches, but we're running their errands now! They kill people, Seth! They don't get those glowing red eyes from tomato juice or draining flamingos!"

"Jacob did what he needed to save the tribe -"

"Seth, when you make a deal with the devil, what does that make you? We're not coming out of this glowing in righteousness."

"Jake called the truce to save us!"

"Did he? And at what cost, Seth? The memory of those who died fighting is tarnished; Sam's death was in vain! He died for nothing, and we're playing nice with his murderers!" Tremors rocked my body and I took a deep breath tryin' to calm down. I didn't need this whole conversation played for the pack yet, especially since not thinking of something was hard to do when it was so fresh.

"So, now you're blaming Victoria for Sam's death? I thought it was all Bella's fault. What - is it going to be my fault next? Or Jake's?"

"No. I -" I had no excuse for my thoughts or blatant hatred for the leech-lover. That day on the beach when she collapsed, I went after her. If Seth hadn't grabbed me by the tail, then I would've ripped out her throat. Looking back now, maybe that would have been better than what she'd been through, or, at least, what I thought she'd been through. "I was wrong."

He'd opened his big trap to yell at me some more, no doubt, during my loss for words, but he sure snapped it shut again.

"I thought she was to blame, but she didn't force Sam to fight for her. He loved her like a little sister," Seth just nodded. He'd seen the same thoughts I had. "I was even a little jealous of their relationship. He couldn't even talk to me without pity! I was hurt, that's all. But no-one deserves to go through what she went through." He hesitated, looking wary.

"What happened was an accident…" he didn't believe it anymore than I did. But he wanted to. He wanted nothing more than to fit in with the 'big dogs'.

"I'm not sure it was. If he hadn't been in complete control during the phase, he would've just killed her, instead of mauling her. He even kept from messing up her pretty face."

"But -" I held up my hand, not wanting to have this debate right now. I had to get my point across, and now that I'd begun, I was in too deep to stop. This could be my last chance to push those hero-worship goggles off of him.

"But that's not what I was talking about, and I think you know it." I continued quietly, though the weight of the words seemed to bog down the very air we breathed.

"He said -" He started half-heartedly and I screamed in frustration.

"Ahhhh! I don't care what he says! You don't believe that they had consensual sex any more than I do!"

"Don't tell me what I do or don't believe, Leah." He growled out.

"You've seen the flashes that slipped through when he wasn't paying enough attention or when he thinks back to it. I've had sex before -"

"Stop! Geez, Leah! I don't want to hear shit like that!" He yelled, covering his ears, reminding me of how innocent and boy-like he still was. Maybe some things were still worth fighting for.

I ignored him and kept going louder, "And THAT's not what it looked like! Face down on the dirty floor! That's not right." I finished quietly, lost in thoughts I didn't want to have. It was an uncomfortable thing to consider.

"We would've heard it if he did anything wrong!"

"Would we, Seth?"

"Not this again! Look, if Alpha's could hide their thoughts, don't you think Sam would've saved all of us some of the world's most awkward moments when first you joined the pack."

"I don't know." He had a point, and the smug little shit knew he did too, but I wasn't ready to back off. "Maybe it's because Jake's the true Alpha, or maybe it's because he's gone off his fucking rocker; all I know is that something's not right. I won't help the vampires find her, just to kill her, and I'm damn sure not bringing her back to Jacob when I think he -"

A growl cut off my words. Seth and I turned to see the behemoth rusty-colored wolf step from the trees. He phased and strode forward. I refused to cover my eyes and cower like a frightened, skittish girl. If he wanted his Alpha cock swinging in the breeze, it was fine by me. I'd just have to look the ass in the eyes.

"You spreading lies about me, you bitter harpy?" Jake growled out, shoving me back, ignoring Seth completely.

"Hey, Man! Woah! We were just talking. That's still allowed, isn't it?" I had to admit, I was impressed. Upon seeing Jacob's balls, my brother appeared to have found his.

"We're just talking." Jacob mocked. "I can't have my pack questioning my every order. When the next fight comes, we need to be ready." I just rolled my eyes. He'd adopted a flare for the dramatics as of late. I think it was from the strain of the imprint relationship.

Emily was still, after three years, mourning Sam's loss. Not that I could blame her, I'd been at it for longer. The council had finally intervened and asked that she marry Jacob after the first of the new year.

"Our people are only as strong as their strongest leader." "It's an honor to be the wife of the Chief of our people." Those elders laid on the guilt as deep as the shit they were shoveling out. But they weren't the ones who held her as she cried that night, and again the next.

Of course, he could have just truly snapped. I just didn't know anymore.

"So you think Victoria is a risk to us, too? Thank -" His growl and raised hand stalled my words. Seth stepping in between us pissed me off as much as I was grateful for the support, so I pushed his string-bean ass out of my way, and stood toe to toe with Jacob.

"She's our ally," I sneered at him, and he spat out, "You're either with me or against me."

"Listen, Jake," Seth held his hands up, trying to play Switzerland, "We're senior members of the pack. Of course we're with you, Man."

For now, I added silently. Jacob huffed once more before taking off through the trees, phasing.

"Couldn't you try to just make the best of this situation, Sis? Dad wouldn't have wanted you always causing problems." He was right, but he was also incredibly wrong. I could just feel it.

I had hated fate and the great spirits of our tribe for Sam imprinting on Emily. I'd even hated him for it. I'd despised Bella and the trouble that followed her everywhere she went. I'd hated her with a passion never before rivaled when Sam fell on that beach. Now I was confused and torn. My tribe, my heritage supported a man I didn't think I could anymore.

When the bitterness fades, all that's left is truth. Now, I had to decide what I was going to do with it.