A/N: This will just be a short two-shot piece. The lemony goodness is next chapter, but I'll have that up by tonight. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: You don't need Alice to tell you that I don't own Twilight, the obviousness is glaring...
"You broke it, so you fix it!" she screeched at me, her eyes wide with barely contained fury.
"I'm not doing it. I'll take you to Carlisle." I stated for the millionth time, my voice becoming increasingly monotone with each repeat.
"Urgh! Jacob! It fucking hurts! So fucking fix it. NOW."
"I'm SORRY! I don't know how many times I have to say it. But I can't fix it, he can."
"I don't want to take a trip to Leech Manor, Black." She spat.
"I don't want to either!" I roared.
It's not like I broke her damn arm on purpose. She was a girl for Christ sake. I'd never intentionally hurt her. Our fight just got a little out of hand. Ok, a lot out of hand.
I swear ever since I came back from my little wolfy trip up north Leah has been even more of a bitch to me than usual. I just don't get it. I'm trying to do what she said- though not for Leah's benefit. I'm trying to get over Bella. Yeah ok, I'll admit it's damn hard and sure, I have been a little snappy with the pack in the two months I've been back. But can anyone really blame me?
If Bella'd been a normal girl in a normal relationship then I wouldn't have acted they way I did. I would've backed off and not tried to get her to change her mind. I would have respected her choice. But Bella wasn't normal, and neither was her choice of lover. Bella, the girl I loved, was going to turn into the worst thing imaginable and I just couldn't let that happen. So I fought for her, with everything I had. It caused an endless list of problems, but it was my duty as a protector.
But I'd failed and she'd married the bloodsucker. It only really sunk in when I got that fucking invitation from the mind rapist. They would be together and no matter what, Bella would die. So I ran, thinking that distancing myself from all of it would help. But it didn't, not least because I had at least one member of the pack in my head at all times. So I returned, wanting closure, wanting to be there for my friend, one final time.
I thought that Bella being changed and Bella dying was the same thing. But once again I'd been wrong. Maybe my middle name should have been idiot. I was trying to get over her with no idea if she was even still alive. Charlie had informed me that the 'happy couple' were in Dartmouth but I thought it was just a cover story.
But then we'd had a meeting today. The head leech wanted to meet us at the boundary to discuss the treaty. As the Beta I went with Sam, ready, willing and able to tear them to pieces at the first sign of trouble. But it had all been so~o amicable. The Dr told us that Charlie had been right, Bella was alive and well in Dartmouth with her leech. She hadn't been turned yet, but Carlisle wanted permission to change her when the time came, wanting- as the great peace keeper he is- to keep our treaty in tact long after the rest of the family moved on.
I couldn't say I was surprised by his request, I'd been expecting it for a while. What I didn't expect was Sam's agreement. Apparently Bella wasn't a victim, and the treaty would not be broken by her transformation.
I was livid, beyond livid. I felt betrayed by the Alpha. Samuel Fucking Uley. How could he do this?
I'd gone on a long run after that, venting my frustration with every pound of my paws on the soft earth, the rhythmic beats doing little to ease my tension. Soon enough Leah appeared, taking over patrol from Jared. It didn't bother me, I was just going to tune her out anyway.
I continued my directionless run, crisscrossing back and forth over our regular patrol lines, thinking about the meeting. Carlisle, Sam's words, Bella's face, all of them swarming around my head, desperate for me to make sense of my feelings. I couldn't help the flicker of useless hope that flashed through me at the prospect of Bella still being human. Her eyes still molten pools of chocolate, her cheeks still faintly blushing, her skin still…
'Oh please don't tell me I'm going to have to put with this shit again!' Leah had practically shouted through the mind link.
'Shut up!' I growled back.
'Oooooh, scary, Jacob. I'm really quaking now.'
'Leah,' I'd snarled, 'I'm warning you now, don't start.'
'Don't start what? Don't start complaining? Fine I won't,' she snorted, 'As long as you don't start fawning over her again. I'm not putting up with that this time.'
'Get over yourself, Leah. Not everything's about you.'
'And not everything's about BELLA FUCKING SWAN! Or should that be Bella Cullen now?' she screeched, her voice laced with its usual venom.
That did it. My patience with her had been wearing dangerously thin for a long time and I snapped, turning instantly to race to where she was, ready to snap her in two if just got her to shut the hell up for once.
Leah was the only member of the pack capable of outrunning me- I'd never admit it to her but she could actually bury me if she wanted to- but she stood stock still, waiting in the little clearing she'd been running through, her body turned in the direction I was approaching from. Typical Leah, always so stubborn, never one to back down in a fight. Usually it pissed me off, but today I was pleased- I wanted a fight, wanted to stick my teeth into something.
I launched myself at her small frame as soon as I burst through the trees, using the momentum from my run to take her down swiftly. We collided hard, our bodies smashing into the surrounding forest, snapping and dragging trees down in our wake. I would've felt bad that I clearly had the advantage- being at least twice the height and width of my opponent- but Leah was vicious, snarling, biting and clawing at anything she could reach. The cuts she inflicted on me hurt as we rolled together, a giant ball of russet and grey, but I was in the moment, able to push past the pain and try and inflict as much damage as possible.
Somewhere in the back of my mind alarm bells were ringing. I was attacking a girl and no matter what form we were in that was wrong. But then her claws dragged along my flank and I couldn't help but retaliate by sinking my teeth into her shoulder. I only released when I could taste her blood on my tongue, instead I pinned her to the forest floor, my wolf body standing over hers, waiting for her to submit.
Of course- it being Leah Clearwater- she did no such thing and despite me towering over her in an instinctual show of dominance she still snapped her jaws towards me. I tried to pin her front legs to hold her in place but as I put my weight down on her left leg I heard the unmistakable crunch of bones breaking. If I thought that sound was bad it was nothing compared to the high pitched wailing that escaped from her muzzle.
'JACOB! Get the fuck off me, NOW!'
I sprang back as she whimpered, instantly freeing her.
'Shit, Leah. I'm so, so sorry.' I said remorsefully, all previous thoughts of tearing her to pieces forgotten.
'You broke my arm!' Leah cried as she stumbled to her feet.
I hung my head, 'I know.'
After that Leah had finally managed to phase back and somehow managed to get her clothes on. I didn't know how- my back was turned- and I didn't want to ask. So here we were, still in the little clearing, all other wounds long healed, as we fought over what to do next.
We couldn't exactly take her to the hospital. Her arm had already healed, albeit at a really freaky angle. It almost looked like she had two elbows and would've been cool if I hadn't been the one to cause it and know exactly how much pain she must be in.
I was the only one with an idea on how to fix it. Take her up to the Cullen house and hope Carlisle would be home. I dreaded the thought of going back there. The last time I'd been there was Bella's wedding reception. I couldn't guarantee that going there wouldn't set me back a few weeks in my pitiful attempt at recovery. But then Carlisle was a good Dr, and I knew he'd help us. Unfortunately Leah didn't really see it my way.
"Think of something else!" Leah hissed through clenched teeth, clutching her injured arm, "I'm not going there."
I ran my hand through my hair, tugging it as I went. She was really starting to piss me off, not that she didn't normally. But this was worse. I'd caused this and now she expected me to fix it, her way.
"You got any better ideas?" I asked, leaning back against a tree, ready to wait it out. Eventually she'd get sick of the pain and cave in.
She glared at me before pacing back and forth across my line of vision, her long legs taking graceful yet forceful strides across the damp grass. She prowled back and forth for a few minutes then stopped abruptly. Turning to me, her eyes wide, full of fire.
"Yes," she called triumphantly. "What's the time?"
"How should I know? And what does that have to do with anything?"
"Because Jacob," she spat, her ever-present scowl deepening, "My mom starts work at five today. If we're lucky, we can catch her before she leaves. She can sort this," she lifted her arm slightly, her face creasing in pain, making me feel like a total jackass, "out. C'mon, we've got to be quick."
I sighed as I pushed myself off the tree. I didn't see how going to Sue would help at all. Sure she was a nurse but we already knew Leah's arm was broken. What we needed was someone to fix it. But I kept my mouth shut, relieved that we were finally getting somewhere. Maybe when Sue admits she can't fix it Leah will agree to go to the leeches.
Leah stalked off ahead of me, taking a direct line through the forest towards La Push. She'd been patrolling the deep run, the route the furthest from the reservation and it was going to take a long time in human form.
"You know," I called at her back, "this would be much quicker if we weren't both human."
She stopped abruptly and span on her heel to face me. Lifting her arm up and raising her eyebrows she spoke, "Really? And how exactly do you suppose I run with this, idiot?"
I rolled my eyes as I caught up to her. "Try opening your ears, Clearwater. What I said was that it would be quicker if we weren't both human. I never said you had to phase."
"Then what…" she trailed off before recognition flashed across her face and her eyes darkened and narrowed into slits, "No fucking way, Jacob! I'm not hitching a ride."
"Dammit!" I called as she resumed on her path through the forest, this time picking up the pace. I trailed behind her, not wanting to get close when she's in a bad mood, it never boded well. To prove my point, she kicked a fallen branch with such force that it shattered on the trunk of a nearby tree.
"Why not, Leah? You said it yourself, we have to get you home before Sue leaves."
I wondered if she was even going to respond but her small whisper carried over the wind, "because I don't want to give up my last shred of dignity."
I knew she hadn't intended for me to hear that- Leah always made her opinions loud and clear. Her muttering only served to make me feel worse. I knew what she was implying by that statement. The whole Sam situation had taken its toll on her. We usually tried to ignore Leah; she was too wrapped up in her own hurt, spreading pain wherever she could for us to actually give a damn.
But her words got to me. Shred of dignity. Did she feel like she had little or no dignity left? I tried to put myself in her shoes. Sure it would hurt, being left for someone else, hell I knew the feeling myself. But I always thought I'd got the raw end of the deal. Bella had left me- though she was never really mine- by her own choice. Sam didn't have a choice when it came to Emily, we could all see that. But then, when your heart's broken, do the whys and how's matter? No probably not. It didn't matter why Sam had left Leah, only that he did.
I felt a surge of pity course through me as I studied the girl stalking in front of me. It's not like I hadn't felt bad for her before. When Sam had first broken up with her, before I'd joined the pack, I felt horrible for her. I didn't put much thought into it but I remember wondering how the fuck Sam could've done it. Everyone knew she was way, way out of his league. What had possessed him to end it?
Then when I joined the pack I saw what had happened first-hand. Sam frequently replayed Leah's face crumpling in agony when he'd told her it was over. It was a heartbreaking sight and we all felt bad for her.
But then Leah phased and our sympathy quickly turned to annoyance. It wasn't that we couldn't understand her being hurt. Sam had left her. Emily had abandoned her. Her dad died. She became the first female werewolf. She had to follow Sam's orders, be in his head and on top of that she couldn't have kids. Her pain was something we could understand, her nastiness we couldn't.
I couldn't even bring myself to feel bad for how the pack treated her- after all she was the one who separated herself, was nasty, mean, spiteful and a plain old bitch. But hearing how she still felt over the whole situation, coupled with my own very recent heartbreak stirred up my old feelings of sympathy for her.
I studied her now, taking in her form as she weaved silently through the trees up ahead, bobbing with the uneven slant of the earth. I had always seen Leah as confident- you'd have to be to have the guts to spew half the stuff that comes out of her mouth. But as I watched I started to notice things. Her strides were still determined but the upper half of her body was curved in on itself. Her shoulders were slumped and drawn forward and I couldn't tell whether it was due to her injury or something else. I decided on the latter when I noticed that her head was hung low and I realised that- unless she was arguing- it was her normal stance. I wasn't a body language expert, but everything about her current posture was telling me that this girl was self-conscious.
I'd learnt a lot from Quil before he'd imprinted. Usually I just ignored his incessant chatter about girls but I remembered one conversation he'd had with Embry in my garage not long after Bella started visiting me.
"Man, you don't stand a chance," Embry laughed as he tightened the wheel on his dirtbike.
"Nah-uh. Definitely do." Quil retorted round a mouthful of chips. "and do ya know why?"
Looking up from under the hood of the Rabbit I was re-building, I saw Embry roll his eyes. "Obviously not. Why don't you enlighten me 'oh wise one'."
We both snickered as Quil threw a greasy rag in Embry's direction. Quil sat back on the workbench, stretching as I went back under the hood, focusing on my previous task of changing the oil, knowing that his explanation was likely to be a bunch of crap.
"First, chicks dig me. Especially the older ones."
I snorted, the sound echoing off the nearby metal hood, "Yeah, o~kay!"
"Shut up Jacob, they do. Secondly, and listen up the pair of you, this is important. Did you see the way she was standing?" He asked. The room was silent for a few seconds but I assumed Embry shook his head as Quil began explaining, "Well, she looked pretty awkward. Now sometimes that's because the girl is shy. Most guys think shy girls aren't worth going for but they're wrong. The shy ones are usually the most up for anything you can suggest. It's pretty easy to get them on a date, you just have to spend a bit of time on them first. Ease them into the idea, ya know?"
I chuckled, "Is this actually going anywhere?" I normally didn't pay attention to these kind of conversations between my two best friends- in fact I had no idea who they were talking about- but my radio had broken, again, and so I had nothing better to do as I worked.
"I'm getting there." Quil assured, "So you get the shy ones. They usually look down a lot and blush at anything you say. But shyness can easily be confused with something else. If the girl is not only looking down a lot but also wraps in on herself, with her shoulders leaning forwards then she's got low self-esteem." He announced proudly before taking a loud slurp of his soda.
"What the hell does that have to do with you getting her?" Embry asked.
"Stupid question, my naive friend, stupid question," He tsked. "If the girl has low self-esteem then she hasn't set the bar very high. She'll be flattered by anyone paying her attention, thus giving you- or me in this case- the perfect opportunity to strike. And here's the best part. You'd think that the girls who act like that would be ugly but like ninety percent of them are actually pretty decent. Girls, my friends, are idiots when it comes to their looks."
"So what you're saying is that she has low self-esteem- based on your judgement anyway- and so you think you stand a chance because of this?"
"You're an idiot."
"Hey!" Quil called. I lifted my head up just in time to see the two of them wrestling on the floor, Embry clearly having the upper hand- he'd put on a lot of muscle recently.
"Knock it off before you break something." I laughed, "Who're you talking about anyway?"
"Bella," Quil called back, still tussling with Embry, now rolling across the floor.
I ground my teeth together in frustration. Bella? Quil was talking about Bella? What, did he want to put the moves on her? My hands started trembling as I thought about it. I liked Bella, I didn't want to have to see her with my best friend. Plus she was hurting. I was giving her time to move on from Edward before I made a move. The trembling in my hands increased, anger and heat coursing through my body. I looked over to my best friends, still laughing and joking and forced myself to calm down. I wouldn't lose my temper with Quil. It wasn't his fault I liked her too and I didn't want to punch him for it. I wouldn't fight with them. Ever.
No. I wasn't a body language expert. But I knew a girl with low self-esteem when I saw one and Leah, I realised with great surprise, was one of them.
I found myself more and more conflicted as we neared La Push. On the one hand I still hated Leah. Her actions over the past six months or so couldn't simply be forgotten in the blink of an eye. She still pissed me off, got under my skin and I still thought she was the biggest bitch this side of the Pacific, but there was a growing part of me that truly felt bad for her. I couldn't imagine being anything but enemies with Leah but I wondered if I should at try to get on with her better. After all, we were in a similar situation.
"Urgh, finally," Leah grumbled as she broke through the trees, swiftly marching over the small field towards her house.
"It would've been a whole lot quicker if you'd taken up my offer," I taunted despite my thoughts to try and be nicer as I reached her side. I guess old habits die hard.
I was rewarded with a trademark Leah Clearwater death glare and judging by the look in her eye I was glad that she had little use of her arm, knowing she more than likely wanted to swing it in my direction. I may have fast healing but a broken nose still hurts.
"MOM!" she called as soon as she was through the door.
We heard a sigh from the kitchen, "What is it dear?"
Leah strode ahead and rounded the corner
"Oh my, what happened?" Sue asked, shocked.
"Jacob Fucking Black happened," Leah sneered in response.
I took my cue and rounded the corner into the large Clearwater kitchen. Leah still had her back to me but Sue looked over her daughters shoulder and levelled me with a glare of her own. So that's where Leah had learned it from. Even though Leah was infinitely stronger, the look was far more scarier coming from her mother and I gulped as I gave a sheepish smile.
"Hey Mrs Clearwater."
"Jacob." She replied curtly, already assessing the damage to Leah's arm, "How did this…wait, I don't want to know." She gently pressed on Leah's arm as she turned it, causing her to hiss, "Sorry. Well, it's definitely broken," she finished with a frown and stepped back.
"Oh, well done," Leah replied, her voice dripping with sarcasm, "We hadn't managed to figure that one out by ourselves. What with my freaky two elbow thing going on."
Sue ignored her daughter's remarks, clearly as used to them as the pack was, "Well…I don't know what I can do about this. Once it's been re-broken it should heal fine, probably today given your quick healing. I know how to align the bones but I can't break it for you." She sighed.
Leah groaned and I hoped that it was because she was finally seeing sense and would let me take her up to the bloodsuckers.
But she turned to me with such a resigned look on her face it made me feel even worse for hurting her, "You're going to have to do it." She whispered.
"I said," she gritted her teeth, "You're going to have to do it."
I instantly held my hands up, "Nah-uh, Leah. No fucking way am I breaking your arm."
"You've already done it once!" she shouted as Sue reprimanded me for my language.
"Yeah, and I felt bad enough the first time."
"Urgh, don't be such a baby, Black." She moaned before hopping up on the kitchen counter.
I looked pleadingly as Sue, hoping she'd stop this madness.
"It seems like the best way," Sue said quietly, taking in my horrified expression, "We can't take her to the hospital. Leah can't very well do it herself and you're the only other person here who's strong enough."
"Where's Seth when you need him?" I grumbled, looking up to the ceiling as I thought it through.
"What the hell, Jacob? Do you really think I'd make Seth do this? My baby brother? Sure, he gets on my nerves but I wouldn't make him do this. You broke it. You fix it." Leah scowled, motioning me over to her.
She had a point. What right did I have to moan about this when I'd been the one to get us into this situation?
"Sure, sure." I mumbled as shuffled towards her.
As gently as I could, I took hold of her small, broken arm and brought it from her body. I looked to Sue, really not sure what I should do. I'd been completely out when Carlisle had broken my bones again- I hadn't even watched someone else do this. I thought back to the time after the newborn war. Despite that fact that I'd been out cold when the bones had been broken and the heavy amount of meds Dr Sparkle had pumped in me I still woke up in agony.
"Wait," I said, causing Leah to roll her eyes. She obviously thought I was backing out, "Do you have any pain medication?" I asked turning to look at Sue.
She shook her head, "Only Tylenol, but it won't do much good in this situation."
"I don't care, Jacob. Jut do it already, it's really starting to hurt." Leah pleaded.
I ignored her and kept my focus on Sue, "Do you have anything she can bite down on?"
Sue quickly looked round as if she had something to hand, "All the hand towels are in the laundry. Hang on, I'll get some from upstairs."
"No time," Leah groaned, "Please, just do it now." She pleaded.
Leah never, ever said please. It must really be hurting. Sure enough, when I looked down I could see her hand turning a weird shade of purple- the blood was beginning to pool. Not a good sign.
I quickly laid her arm down on her legs and whipped off my shirt. Balling it up, I stuffed it in her mouth before she could protest. Under different circumstances I would've laughed. I'd been dying to gag Leah on multiple occasions but right now, seeing the pain in her eyes, it wasn't funny. Leah never showed her pain. Be it emotional or physical, Leah was a master of concealing how she felt. So it must be bad if even she couldn't hide it.
I looked wildly to Sue as I took Leah's arm again. Her face went from concerned mother to professional nurse in an instant.
"Feel for exactly where the original break is. That's where you have to…snap." She faltered, making me feel like the biggest ass on the planet. It wasn't enough that I'd put Leah through this pain, I was now subjecting her own mother to it too.
"I'm sorry," I whispered, looking up through my eyelashes at Leah's face before returning my gaze to arm and running my fingers up to where it twisted. Her arm looked so small in my hands, as if a human could break it.
I pressed deeper as I felt along the bone and Leah gasped, causing me to wince as I stood before her, her knees digging in to my sides. I located where the exact point of the original break was and nodded to Sue.
"When you break it, quickly bring the bone straight. It should be a clean break so as long as the arm looks straight it should heal fine." She said quietly.
I nodded before turning my attention back to Leah. I avoided looking at her face as braced myself, knowing I'd cave seeing her like that. I took a deep breath and with a flick of my wrist I snapped her bone once again.
Leah's muffled screams filled the kitchen and her knees clamped down on either side of me, locking me in place. I winced as straighten her arm out, Leah's cry still ringing in my ears. Once I was sure that it was all over and I wouldn't have to do any more re-positioning I looked up, only to be met with Leah's tear filled hazel eyes boring into mine.
"Oh honey," Sue called soothingly, walking up to Leah's side and stroking her short hair back from her face, "You did good, real good."
Leah blinked and the tears disappeared. With her good arm she wretched my t-shirt from her mouth and threw it down on the side. Her breathing slowed and her legs relaxed their vice grip, allowing me to step back and give her and Sue some space.
"How long will it take to heal?" Leah asked, still panting slightly.
"I'm not sure, but hopefully you'll be good as new before bed. The bones are quite thin in your arm." Sue reassured. "I'm going to call work and tell them I won't be in."
"No mom, it's fine." Leah said as she scooted off the counter and landed on slightly wobbly feet. Regaining her balance quickly she said, "I'll be fine."
"No, honey. I'll stay home."
"Mom, honestly is there really anything you can do if you stay home? I'll be ok. I'll order pizza for dinner so I don't have to cook, or I could get Seth to do it."
"Seth's over at Collin's tonight, he's staying over. I can call him and make him come home if you really don't mind me going to work."
"No mom. I'm not a baby. I can take care of myself." Leah grumbled as she stormed through to the lounge.
"Ok," Sue walked after her leaving me in the kitchen by myself, "Well I'm running late for work so…I guess I'll see you later." Sue said quietly, a hint of hope in her voice.
"Yeah, yeah," I heard Leah reply as the sound of the TV floated through the room.
Sue said bye to Leah before she left, rushing down the drive and quickly pulling away in the car. She must be really late, I thought as I stood dumbly in the kitchen. I wanted to say sorry to Leah but her actions had made it clear she wanted to be alone. I sighed as I reached for the handle on the backdoor. I was just about to walk through the door, resigned to leave without saying anything when I heard a faint sniffle. It was followed by a short sob.
Was Leah crying?
She never cries. Ever. Never with anyone around anyway. Maybe she thought I'd already left. I closed the door quietly and made my way into the lounge. There, curled up on the worn sofa, Leah sat, her head in her right hand as her body shook with the force of her tears which were dropping at a steady pace onto her legs.
"Leah?" I asked softly, stepping further into the room.
The sounds she was making quickly stopped, yet the tears still flowed as she turned her head to look at me. She'd had no time to prepare her face and for the first time I felt as if I was looking directly at her pain completely unmasked.
"What?" she whispered forcefully, though the usual venom was absent from her voice. Instead there was a hint of total resignation and it broke my heart. "Don't give me that look."
"What look?" I asked, confused.
"Pity." She spat as she turned her head back down, "I don't need it."
"Then why are you crying?" I sat down at the other end of the couch, fearful of getting too close.
"Because Jacob… it fucking hurt. A lot."
"I'm really, really sorry Leah."
"Its fine," she muttered bitterly, "How were you supposed to know that the bitch feels pain?"
"Hey, that's not fair." I defended.
"Really?" her tears were slowly starting to cease as she sat up straight, carefully resting her injured arm on her leg as she turned her body towards me, "That's not how it looks from where I'm sitting."
I sighed, running a hand down my face, "We know you're capable of feeling pain, Leah. Trust me, we know all about that," I said using the pack plural as I had a feeling we were talking about more than a broken arm here.
She snorted, "Sure you do."
"No you don't, any of you. You all…wait, I don't want to talk about this."
"No Leah, you started, so finish. C'mon, I want to know." It was so rare that Leah actually opened up and with my recent promise to myself to try harder I wasn't about to pass up the opportunity.
She sighed, her voice becoming even quieter, so that it was practically a whisper as she continued, "You all just expected me to get on with being a wolf like the rest of you had done. None of us asked for this," she said motioning between our bodies, "I get that. But did anyone consider how much harder it was on me? You've said before that I'm self-absorbed and I am. I fully admit that. But maybe I wouldn't be if there had been someone else, anyone else that actually cared about me, about my feelings. But no one did. I was just expected to accept everything without complaint."
I was shocked. I'd never expected Leah to give in and open up and I didn't know what had caused her to do it. I had nothing to say in response. She was right. I couldn't speak for the other guys but I knew I'd been too wrapped up in Bella to care about anyone else.
"I'm just sick and tired of it all. The whole pack mess, Sam, Emily. And through it all, even though I've been a bitch, I've still tried to help people. This," she pointed to her arm, "was kind of a last straw thing, you know?"
I nodded, knowing exactly what she meant. I'd been able to take everything that the whole Bella situation had thrown up until I got that stupid wedding invitation. That had been my final straw.
Leah's eyes had softened during her explanation but no sooner had she finished and the mask was back up. A cold, almost angry expression once again set on her face. It was easy to see that it was all just a front.
Yeah, Leah was a bitch, but she was hurting. I couldn't say truthfully that I'd been a ray of sunshine since I'd come back. I'd been snappy, snarky and up for any fight going, especially with Paul, who'd taken my absence as a cue to imprint on my sister. I knew he didn't really have a choice in the matter but come on!
I'd been lashing out for months as a way to vent my frustration. How could I possibly blame Leah for doing the same thing? Especially when I considered that the pack had just taken my shit without complaint. They didn't do the same for her. I was stunned. The day I'd been expecting to have had been flipped on its head. I thought my day would consist of our early morning meeting, Sam not giving an inch on the treaty, patrols and lazing at home in front of the TV or in my garage, depending on whether Paul was still at my house. Instead I'd been forced into hearing my Alpha give permission for Bella to be changed, run for a few frustrated hours, managed to break Leah's arm and on top of that I was now sat in lounge feeling sorry for Leah of all people. Unbelievable. But it was more than sympathy I felt towards her, it was- dare I say it- understanding. I knew exactly where Leah was coming from, I was in the same boat.
In the process of sorting out my jumbled thoughts I hadn't answered Leah. She turned to look back at me and I expected her to prompt me to continue after my bout of silence. She didn't.
"What are you still doing here?"
"What?" I asked in confusion, not anticipating her question.
She looked at me as if I'd grown two heads, "What are you still doing here? Don't have somewhere, anywhere, else to be?"
It only took a second to think of my response, "Nope." I said, popping the 'p' while I settled back into the couch.
She groaned and rolled her eyes, "Just go home, Jacob."
"No, I'm not going anywhere," I smirked as I propped my bare feet up on the coffee table, "I'll leave when your arm's healed. Until then I think I'm just going to hang around here."
"Urgh. Jacob, I don't need someone to stay with me. I can look after myself." She sneered, raising her chin in an attempt at a sign of authority.
I couldn't exactly tell her that wasn't the only reason why I was staying. 'Hey Leah, I've decided that you might not be such a humongous bitch and that by staying you might actually open up to me and not only make me feel a tad less guilty about snapping your arm in half but you'd also have some company for once and there's a chance I won't feel so bad about my own situation too.' Uh-huh, yeah, that'd go down well. I'd be lucky if I left the Clearwater property with all my limbs still intact.
I thought quickly for an excuse, "Tough. It's not that I don't think you can handle yourself. It would just ease my guilt to know that I've helped you."
"Yeah ok. As if you actually feel bad about this." She snorted, jabbing a long finger at her arm, which had thankfully returned to a normal color.
I rolled my eyes, "Of course I feel like shit about it. You might be a bitch but that doesn't mean I got any pleasure out of hurting you."
"Fine." She huffed and turned her attention back to the TV.
"What the hell is this?" I asked when I followed her gaze towards the TV set.
"I don't know, I'm not really watching it." She answered, climbing to her feet. Walking over the shelves of DVD's she picked something without even consulting me, not that I was surprised, and tried to open the box one handed.
"Oh for fuc…" she trailed off, surprised when I appeared behind her and snatched the box from her fingers.
"What was that about needing help?" I smirked as I popped the box open and slid the disc into the player, not even bothering to see what it was.
"Shut up, Black."
"Oooh, clever come back, Clearwater," I imitated her snarky voice perfectly, "Is that the best you've got?" I laughed as we resumed our previous positions on either end of the couch.
Tucking her long legs under herself before gently placing her injured arm on top of them, Leah shot back, "If you're going to have an attitude you can just leave. I don't want you here anyway."
"Ahh, Leah that hurt," I gasped, clutching my heart.
She rolled her eyes as she pressed play on the remote, the Family Guy theme music filled the room. I shot her a puzzled look. I didn't have Leah down as a Family Guy fan.
"What? I needed a laugh." She narrowed her eyes.
"Nothing." I replied.
Two hours and five episodes later and I was pleasantly surprised. Not only had Leah not made one bitchy comment- not that she'd spoken to me at all- but I discovered she had a sense of humour too. It was strange to hear her laugh so frequently, albeit at the TV. It sounded hollow at first, as if she hadn't laughed in years- which was probably close to the truth- but by mid-way through the second episode she'd relaxed and her chuckles seemed as genuine as mine. Her giggles flowed through the room and it was fast becoming one of my favourite sounds. It was so good to hear something other than venomous comments coming from her mouth. But there was something still bothering me.
"Hey, Leah," I started as we reached the end of the disc, "can I ask you something?"
She turned to me, face constructed into a careful mask, "Fire away."
"What did you mean earlier, when you said about 'helping people'? Who did you help?"
She snorted, "Well, I tried to help. I wasn't very successful. In fact I made it worse."
"Who?" I pressed.
"What?" I asked, snorting. At no point had Leah ever tried to help me.
She must have seen the disbelief on my face, "Forget it." She muttered as she uncurled her legs.
"Wait," I said, putting my hand on her arm to stop her from getting up. "How did you try and help me?"
"I said forget it." She snapped, standing up, "I'm going to order the pizza."
She was gone for about five minutes as I mulled over what she'd said. In all the time she'd been in the pack she'd never helped me. In fact I'd been the one to help her during the newborn war, earning myself a whole host of broken bones in the process and never once receiving so much as thank you. She hadn't helped me.
"You can stay until the pizza's here," she announced on her return, "But once you've eaten you can leave."
"Aww, so generous, sharing your food with me." I crowed.
She rolled her eyes, her trademark scowl firmly in place, "Not likely. I ordered double and I know there's no point trying to a kick a wolf out of the house when there's food involved. I've tried enough times with Seth. But once the food's gone, you're going home." She said with finality.
"We'll see." I shrugged, wanting to get to the bottom of my question before I left, knowing we probably wouldn't have another candid conversation once the day was over.
She flopped back down on the sofa, "My arm's practically healed, Jacob. I can ever move it around."
Her arm did look better, but as she extended it I caught a glimpse of a wince cross her features.
"Yes but it's not fully healed," I reasoned, "Your mom and Seth are out, what if you need another DVD?" I taunted.
"Speaking of," she nodded towards the TV where the title screen was playing in a loop, "put the next one in."
"Yes ma'am." I saluted with a roll of my eye.
I kept quiet as we waited for the pizza, not wanting to push her into kicking me out. I hopped up when the doorbell rang and Leah swiftly balled up the notes and, with the precision only obtained by being supernatural, she flicked the ball straight at my head, hitting me between the eyes. I ignored her laugh as I paid the delivery guy, who took in my bare chest with wide eyes, and took the pizza's over to the coffee table.
We started eating in silence. I was still thinking back to our conversation and Leah seemed to content to keep quiet too. Before long I could feel her watching me, then she sighed.
"What, Leah?" I asked round a mouthful of pizza.
"You're still thinking about what I said aren't you?"
I looked over to her and raised my eyebrows. I saw no point in denying it so I asked, "How'd you know?"
"You're so obvious, Jacob. You look constipated when you're thinking hard about something." She laughed as she bit into a fresh slice.
"Do not." I defended, sounding like a little kid, causing her to laugh again.
"You do so." She replied in the same tone, but soon enough her laughs died off and her expression turned back into a faint frown. She looked down and bit her bottom lip, "You're not going to give up are you?"
I shrugged. "Probably not."
"Fine," she sighed, and I almost broke out into a happy dance that she'd given in to me for once. "Yeah, I've tried to help you. Not that you noticed," she frowned deeper as she motioned towards me. "As I said, I didn't end up helping. I ended up making it worse."
By now we were done with our pizza. As I stacked the boxes on the table I turned to her and asked, "When?"
She bit her bottom lip again, sucking it into her mouth in much the same way Bella used to do. It should have set off the regular pang of pain in my chest but I was surprised when it didn't. It looked so different on Leah, better in a way. I don't know whether it was down to Leah having much fuller lips than Bella or that fact that it showed some rare sign of vulnerability from her, but I found myself oddly enjoying it.
"I think it was…yes it was…," she mused, " …you remember the day that you left?" I nodded, "Remember the cliff?" I nodded again but she didn't continue.
"Yeah I remember. That was you trying to help me?"
She looked down, "Yes."
"Huh." I said dumbly, replaying the conversation we'd had in my mind. I played it over and over but I couldn't work out how anything she'd said could be constituted as help. What was she trying to help with anyway?
"I'm sorry I made you run away." She whispered so lowly I almost didn't hear it, her head still lowered.
"Leah, you weren't the reason I ran away. C'mon, you were in my head when I went wolf, you should know that you had nothing to do with it. It was that fucking bloodsucker and that stupid invitation. You saw that."
"I know but I didn't see it that way, and neither did the guys. I know the invitation's what sent you over the edge but I also know I played a part." She mumbled into her lap.
"I didn't know you felt that way. Leah, honestly, you had nothing to do with it. Yeah, you pissed me off, but that's no reason for me to…wait, what did you say about the guys?"
She shrugged, "They all blamed me for you 'finally snapping'," she imitated someone's voice but I couldn't work out who, Paul maybe. "They obviously got a play by play of what happened between us on the cliff and they came to the same conclusion I did. Let's just say La Push wasn't a pretty place to be when you were gone," she shrugged again as if it was normal for her to be shouldered with the blame. I supposed it was.
I'd been so wrapped up in myself and my own pain when I'd run that I really hadn't paid any attention to what was going on back home. Even worse, I couldn't honestly say that even though I knew it was crap, that I'd have defended Leah back then. I'd have probably still let the pack rag on her for it. Let them teach the bitch a lesson, even if she wasn't guilty for once.
"Well, no matter what anyone else thinks I can assure you that you weren't to blame."
"Thanks," she said, finally looking up and meeting my gaze. She went to turn her attention back to the forgotten DVD but I stopped her.
"Not so fast," she raised her eyebrows at me, "You're not getting out of it so easy. How were you trying to help me?"
"Urgh! Fine! I was trying to make you see sense, Jacob."
It was true, I supposed. She'd been telling me to get over Bella and wasn't that was I was trying to do right now?
"You didn't have to be such a bitch about it."
She rolled her eyes for the millionth time, "Yes, I did. That was kind of the point," my face must have betrayed my confusion as she added, "It's no use being frustrated over nothing. I was trying to get you angry with me, thinking that maybe you might forget about the whole situation for a while. I got you mad, but it didn't have the desired effect."
"Oh." I replied lamely, shocked.
"I just know what it feels like to be that angry and have no one to take it out on."
It was my turn to hang my head. I could see now that, even though she hadn't gone about it in the best way, Leah had actually tried to help me. She'd been the only one honest enough to tell me how it was and even offered a distraction, an outlet for me. And what had I done? I'd thrown it all back in her face. I'd brought up Sam and Emily, knowing that it'd upset her. At least she'd been trying to move forward, keep her dignity. I'd followed Bella around like an obedient dog. Then I'd run away, trying to escape my problems, Leah hadn't done that. She'd stayed and faced Sam head on.
I compared our situations again. I had lost Bella. She'd never really been mine in the first place, but even though she loved me she still hadn't given us a chance. She'd chosen a bloodsucker over me. A damned dead guy over me. And one day, although I'd learned this morning it wouldn't be as soon as expected, Bella would either die or get turned into one of them. I had lost my best friend forever.
Then there was Leah. She'd been with Sam for four years and it seemed- from family gatherings and seeing them around the reservation- that they were both happy. Very happy. Sue even started up with wedding talk before Sam disappeared. Sam's two-week absence really gave the Rez rumour mill something to talk about. In the weeks after he'd returned- safe and sound- he'd acted really strange. Leah and Sam tried to make their relationship work, Leah having to turn a blind eye to Sam disappearing in the middle of the night. Then he'd left her without reason and soon started seeing her cousin, her best friend. As if that wasn't bad enough, her father died and Leah joined the pack. It was bad enough for the rest of us having to listen to constant thoughts about the imprints but what had it been like for Leah to have to listen to Sam fawning over Emily and how wonderful she was? Hell probably. Especially when I considered the fact that Sam wasn't in love with Leah anymore but, no matter how hard she tried to hide it, Leah was still in love with him.
In comparison Leah's pain was so much worse than my own. I thought about how much I was hurting, suffering over my situation and knew I had to at least double it to even come close to what Leah must feel. I almost groaned when I realised that no matter how Leah acted come morning, no matter how many bitchy, spiteful comments she cast my way, I could never hate her again. Not when I looked beyond my own problems for second and really, truly saw where she was coming from for the first time.
During my internal struggle Leah'd turned her attention back to the TV. I decided not to say any more on the subject, knowing that any apology from me would be seen as pity in her eyes, something I knew she loathed. So I grabbed the pizza boxes and took them to the trash in the kitchen before settling back down on the couch.
"Oh," Leah cried, pausing the DVD and swiftly jumping off the couch as soon as I got comfy. With a puzzled look I watched as she marched over to the front door. I strained my ears, confused that I couldn't hear anyone approaching.
She opened the door wide before turning to me and smirking.
"Remember what I said Jacob. Pizza, then get out. Come on, get going." She continued to smirk, but I could tell she wasn't trying to be mean about it. Dare I say she might have actually been a tad playful? Not wanting to push my luck for one evening I slowly rose from the sofa and stretched out all my muscles.
"How's the arm?"
She stretched it out before twisting and turning it. It may have still hurt but at least I didn't catch her wincing again. Satisfied that I'd done my part and helped her until she'd recovered, I made my way over the door. She smiled faintly at me as I approached and I couldn't help but notice how much prettier it made her look from her normal scowl.
It's not like I hadn't noticed her looks before then, I was a teenage guy after all. But Leah was always one of those unobtainable girls. Too beautiful to make a move on no matter whether she had a boyfriend or not. Plus she was older.
I'd seen her naked a few times and there was definitely nothing to complain about. But no one saw her as beautiful anymore. Her permanent frown didn't help anything but it was more her attitude that put people off. But seeing her here, in the light of my new realisations and seeing her smiling a genuine smile for once made me think that maybe, just maybe, the old Leah would return one day. The one that was kind and that people could admire for not only her looks but her heart too.
I hoped that today had helped her as much as it helped me. I'd discovered that there was someone who knew exactly what I was going through. Leah would never be the kind of person that I'd talk to about any of it, but at least I knew I wasn't completely alone. I hoped she felt the same way.
I walked out the door, "Well…" I started, turning back to her, not sure of what to say, "umm… thanks for the pizza."
"You're welcome." She replied. I smiled back at her and went to walk away.
"Wait. I just wanted to say thanks."
"For staying with me. No one else would've done that. Including Seth. So, thank you." She said quietly, looking down and playing with the hem of her top nervously.
I don't know what came over me but I cast all thoughts for preserving my life aside and wrapped my arms around her in hug before she could even look back up. Really, when I thought about it, there were so many reasons that explained my actions. I hated seeing anyone in pain. I'd seen what Edward leaving had done to Bella and I'd tried to help her. Why couldn't I do the same for Leah?
Or perhaps it was the fact that now I had a better understanding of Leah. Or maybe it was because I was shocked by her admission. No one, especially a girl should be grateful that someone stayed with them when they were injured or crying, never mind both. They should expect it. Leah's words had been true enough- no one else would've stayed and it angered me despite the fact that yesterday I would've considered the same thing.
Leah froze at the contact and I was pretty sure I had about 0.4 seconds before I lost one of my arms, or worse yet, got a werewolf strength kick to the balls. But to my utter shock, Leah slowly relaxed and even wrapped her small arms around my waist. I don't know how long we stayed like that- me enjoying the comfort of actually having someone to hold- but soon enough I felt a wetness seep onto my bare chest and I knew she was crying again.
I pulled my head back slightly and looked down at her. I kept one arm around her shoulders and used my other hand to tilt her chin up to me. Her soft hazel eyes bored back into mine as the odd tear escaped and snaked its way down the smooth skin of her cheek, pausing slightly at her high-cheekbones before going over the precipice and dripping onto her chest.
I didn't ask her why she was crying again. I didn't need to. For once someone had shown her some form of comfort, someone had acted like they cared and I could see in her eyes how much it meant to her.
The success of my hug still fresh in my mind prompted me to lower my head. Why not? She was beautiful. I was hurting, so was she. Maybe I could make it better, even if it was just for a second. So I gently pressed my lips to hers.
A/N: Ahhh, sorry for ending it there, but it was really the only place I could. Plus in my defense I'll definitely have the next chapter up by tonight, so you don't have to wait long.
As always, reviews make me smile. Please make me smile!