Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight, much to the disappointment of my bank account.

...this is the way it always had to end...

"I'm leaving," she announces one night.

No preamble. No warning. Like everything that has ever happened between them. Too direct. Too painful.

He should have seen it coming.

He had.

But he still can't believe it's happening.

What a lie! Nowadays everything tasted of her, of her and inevitability, inevitability so strong he was going to choke on it. They would have always ended up like this, tangled together, blazing hot, broken-hearted. Inevitable, he thinks again. He tastes ashes now.



He wonders if she planned to say this, if there was a carefully packed suitcase waiting at home with clothes and toiletries and her father's abandoned tools. Somehow he doubts it. She's never been one for planning ahead. Neither has he. It's why their bodies are pressed together on the bed. Serves them right. They both knew it would happen eventually. Tonight? Tomorrow? What difference does it make?

It's dark in his room. They've always been careful to be together only in the dark. He wants to be able to see her face more clearly, wants to turn the light on until the whole world is white and he can't see anything ever again, except her face burnt into the back of his eyes, but he doesn't. She might just disappear if he turns on the light; she's going to disappear anyway.

It's his fault.

It's always been his fault, really. Seth said as much, before he turned away to hide the tears. Your fault. Your fault. Your fault. The words echo around them each time he kisses her, but they never do stop him.

She could kiss whomever she wanted. Even if she shouldn't, even if it was silly and foolish and useless. She could kiss whomever she wanted.

He couldn't kiss her back.

He shouldn't kiss her back.

He had.

She's leaving tonight, just like he knew she would. Like she knew she would. She kissed him just the same and he kissed her back and now she's leaving. Cause and effect. He never much liked science. Or is that philosophy? He didn't like that much either. Science and philosophy, essence of Nessie. Maybe that's the reason.

"I'll miss you," he says.

"Don't get mushy on me now, sap."

Still trying to tease him, to bring them back where they had once been. Back before he knew how every inch of her tasted, back before he knew she could let herself be happy in the dark, back before every nerve ending in his body was somehow branded with her name. She is trying to bring them back and they both know it will never work. That's why she has to leave, why he can't stop her.

Your fault, Seth said, says, will say. Your fault.

It's the truth, after all.

She brushes the hair out of his eyes, silently reminding him to remember to cut it once she is gone. He kisses her fingertips and her lips and her forehead, then kisses away the tears that cling to her lashes, the ones she's far too stubborn to ever let fall.

The sheet has managed to ensnare both of them, but she's had too much practice slipping from his bed. She sits on the edge, no modesty, no embarrassment, no anything left. For a while they just watch each other, one last chance to memorize anything that hasn't already been. It's unnecessary, but they pretend they need the time anyway. She'll leave eventually. She says she's leaving tonight and she doesn't like to break her word.

"I love you," he tells her.

It seems important that she know, now. She's always known, really, but now he needs to say it. Needs it so badly he sits up, wraps an arm around her waist, kisses her shoulder, kisses her lips, meets her eyes.

"I love you."

There's a half-loving, half-bitter grin on her face. Essence of Leah, he smiles to himself.

"Just not enough. Not as much as you love her."

She chuckles for an instant, an angry, lost, pathetic sound. Not for long. His arm tightens, he forces her face up, he kisses her lips. Without quite meaning too, he brings them back an hour, back when the only thing that mattered was devouring the other. Back against the bed, she holds him tightly to her as he tries to make her see.

Three words repeated over and over.

I love you. I love you. I love you.

Why does she never listen when he speaks?

I love you.

Because she doesn't listen, because she cringes when he says it, because she won't cry until she's alone, because, because, because...he wishes he never had. He's a selfish bastard but he wishes he could have spared her from this, at least.

Because he loves her.

"More than her," he whispers. "More than anyone, ever. More than all that."

She relaxes. She knows. She always did. She kissed him first, remember?

Once more, she brushes the hair from his face. She says the words back to him in the only way she can without condemning herself to stay. They lie there for a long while, not saying anything, two heartbeats, in time, as always.


One second he's holding her back, the next she's sitting up, searching the room for her clothing.

He doesn't get up to see her out.

He loves her more.

But she's not the one he can't live without.

The End