By Lexa Rawr!
"And then there were two." It's been so many years that she can't bother to be ashamed of nudity, for the constant phasing had always left clothes in tatters and skin exposed. In the beginning, yes, it'd been a source of humiliation and irritation, still did irritate, but... It was normal. Phasing was a bodily function for a shape-shifter, it felt... natural. Perfectly natural. For this reason, she doesn't lament the lack of clothes now that they've slipped out of their wolf skins (even though it really just feels like the wolf let them pretend they were human for a little while before it assumed control once again).
"Alpha 'n' Beta," he replies, flopping down in the grass. Always so tired after a long run, even though regular patrols were few and far in between nowadays. Sam's pack had grown, Jake's had shrunk. They wanted to grow, to continue living the way they did. Leah didn't fully understand it, why they would want more people to go what they did... but their numbers hadn't dwindled to nothing, now had they?
"I've always wondered about that," Leah mumbles, sitting down an arm's length away. "I'm the only girlie wolf, right?"
She doesn't need the mental connection they got when in wolf form to feel his uncertainty even in human form. She turns her head to look at him, pulling her left shoulder up to mask most of her face because her hair is too short to shield her face and neck now. Oh, how she'd always miss her hair.
Figuring that her question had such an obvious answer that Jacob had decided it would be stupid to answer her, she continued: "Shouldn't I actually be Alpha, too?"
"Psht, Jake. I'm being serious. I don't have any competition for the, ah, rank of Alpha Female." Capitalization necessary.
"You wait until now to dispute your role as Beta? When everyone else in our little renegade pack has stopped phasing for their imprints?" Something Jacob won't ever have to do. He'll stay immortal for the demon spawn, even as she enjoys midnight trysts with a certain South American and threatens to run away in true teenage fashion. Even if she looks like a teenager, she passed that age long ago. Grow up, little demon. "Really, Leah?"
"Well, now I only have to run the idea by you, don't I?"
"And you'll have no one to rule over."
"What? You think I'm some kind of dominatrix? Sorry, hon, not my type." His brow shoots up at that, but she ignores it. "It's just be kinda cool. I could be, like... co-boss."
"But you'd be demoting me to co-boss as well."
"Not necessarily? You'd still be boss. But I could be boss, too."
"What does it matter? Being boss of nothing...? Why bother?"
"Why not, Jake? I'm not going to have a reason to stop phasing. There's no imprint, no magical voodoo bond that will just snap into place when I look into my soulmate's eyes." She looks away, wondering if she's ever going to get over the top of that particular hill.
In a flash, so fast that even she, the fastest of them all, didn't think to expect it, Jacob is there, much closer than he should be. "Leah. Don't you ever stop to think that you're lucky?"
"Lucky?" I'm never going to have a family, someone to devote my entire being to, not like you, not like Embry, not even like my own brother! For one crazy second she feels like he heard her, from the way his expression comes damned close to being tortured. "How is this lucky?" His face is so young but his eyes are so old.
"You have a choice." Oh, he'd always been big on choices, hadn't he?
She's struck by the intensity of his stare. Ridiculous as it was, she wishes she would have just imprinted on him. It'd be so much easier. So much better.
"I don't have one. Not anymore." Try. She wants to beg him, plead with him, to try, for her, for what could have been, what could be. "I can't. You know that."
"Do I?" They move in millimeters, in fractions of a second. Closer, closer, still too far.
"You've seen it firsthand. Experienced it secondhand."
"What if..." It's like an electrical current is buzzing underneath her skin. It's like when she feels like she has to phase, except that's a fire, not electricity. That burns, not shocks. "What if what I heard was wrong?"
"Why are you even thinking this?" The thought doesn't quite feel like hers, she latches on like a pit bull. Because it could be so much more. "It?" This.
Even though she knows it's probably just wishful thinking, she could have sworn she wasn't the only one who moved to close the distance between their lips, their arms, their bodies, them. Everything was thisclose. So close she couldn't breathe.
She didn't want to. Not with the overload of sensations she had long forgotten, never felt like this. Her heart should be breaking with the strain of another surefire letdown, the knowledge that this shouldn't be happening and this will only end badly. But she's not the only one wishing, not anymore. Maybe she hadn't been the only one all along.
The next thing she knows is that she's flat on her back, with a wall of muscle pressing against her chest and a slow burn pooling in her belly and oh, fuck, this is too much. No, it wasn't enough. She whimpers in his mouth and can't stand the lack of control, so she pushes against him. He resists, too content to have her beneath him and all his and no, dickhead, I'm Alpha, too. His laughter is hot in her ear but he lets her flip him over and take the lead.
She dusts kisses along his jawline and holds him still, her lips against his throat. A trace of uncertainty gnaws at him, but he trusts her. Trust was so beautiful once you let it surround you. Breathe in, breathe out, she couldn't remember anything but him, Alpha, trust, heat, and mine.
All she can think as he runs her hands down the lines of muscle on his body is mine, mine, mine, even when he tires of the delay and forces her back into a kiss (not that she'd ever complain) that makes her head reel all she knows is mine, mine, mine.
A hand on the side of her hip, another on the opposite ribcage, gentle but pressing. Satisfaction, warm and pleasant, sweeps through her. He wouldn't be Ordering her to do anything ever again. They were equal, they were Alphas.
So even as she leans to the side and lets him roll her back over, her thoughts consist only of mine, mine, mine. Control wasn't so one-sided anymore and it felt absolutely wonderful.
Gazes meet and lazy, nonsensical words (words that explain everything so perfectly without tarnishing it) are murmured and then he's in a place he'd never have expected to ever be, but nothing had ever felt more right. She gives in to just the feelings and he might be the one on top but he's hers, hers, hers.
He might be hers but as she looks up at him, her eyes dark with lust and dazed with wonder and her lips swollen and her cheeks flushed and so decidedly woman and lovely... She's his just as much as he is hers.
"Please," the plea is the quietest of whispers but it's the only thing that can reach him in this haze. It could mean anything: please, stop squishing my arm into this pebble because it's digging into my skin, please, just do this a little fast so I can, please, don't leave me... It might mean all of it or it might mean none of it but it doesn't matter in the slightest to him, because he understands on a level he'd never reached before.
"Okay," he's so close and his spoken reply was just as unexplained (but still made perfect sense to her) and "Why can't this last forever?" With that unspoken (but loud) question light explodes under his eyelids and the world realigns itself and he can't tell up from down anymore but he knows exactly where she is and what she's thinking and that she's the most beautiful thing in this world.
They lay there for a while, intertwined so tightly that they ceased to be Jacob Black and Leah Clearwater, or Leah Clearwater and Jacob Black. They are something else entirely. Something new, something different. The smell of rain is on the wind, warning them of an incoming storm, but neither of them care, what with their werewolf temperatures and the fact they've found the method of staying warm to end all methods of staying warm.
A thousand questions stand on the battle-ready at the back of her throat, just waiting to leap to her tongue and escape on her breath, but she keeps them at bay. Not out of fear, just knowledge. Instinct. Something more powerful than rationale, than so-called proven fact. She can see Truth written all over him and her, in the warmth of his eyes and the strength of his arms. He can see it in the darkness of her hair and the curve of her waist, plain as the sun.
"You," she whispers, radiant as ever as she basks in the newly found glory between them, a million certainties easing her once-strained heart.
"You." He smiles and knows that everything that needed to be said had been, and that a new path had been carved ahead, beckoning for them to move forward.
And yet... Perhaps lingering in the moment for just a little while longer wouldn't hurt a thing...