Disclaimer:- I don't own any of the characters from Twilight, they belong to Stephanie Meyer, sadly.

Notes:- In case you missed the summary, this story will have Slash content in later chapters; don't read if you don't like. I'm writing from Jacob's point of view, beginning after Bella's wedding. Jacob struggles on in La Push until he turns eighteen, but still unable to forget Bella and then having Billy's death to cope with, he decides the only thing he can do is leave his old life behind.

This one won't be updated as quickly as "One Kiss" for the moment as I want to finish that one first - but this story was just calling out to me to be written so I had to at least get the first chapter down.


After Bella got married on August thirteenth, I continued to gradually fall apart. I spent a couple of months living as a wolf before that, hiding out in the Rockies, distancing myself from the pack as much as I could. I could still hear Sam's thoughts sometimes, but I shut myself off from him so that he wouldn't be able to find me. I came back for the wedding, but when I found out she planned to spend her honeymoon with Edward still as herself, risking her life and then dying anyway when he changed her, I didn't want to have to deal with it any more. When I was my wolf self, I was free from the pain and longing.

I made myself keep going for a week after they went to Rio and then I ran away from it all. I phased and ran back to Canada. No one would follow me there, not even Sam. I doubted they would even want to. Everyone else was happy. Most of the original members of the pack had all Imprinted; Sam had Emily of course; Jared had Imprinted on Kim, who had a crush on him at school for a year before he noticed her; Embry had Marie, a girl from the Makah tribe who was the daughter of one of his Mom's friends; Quil had Emily's little niece, Claire. That was kind of weird, with her being only two years old, but sometimes it happened like that. He took on the role of elder brother with her and it seemed to work. It wouldn't develop into anything else until she reached her teens.

I had tried Imprinting on Bella more than once and it never worked. Of course it wouldn't; it was automatic, instinctive; fate. It wasn't going to happen just because I wanted it and now she was lost to me forever. The hardest part was that she admitted she loved me, only she loved Edward more and would rather give up everything - her family, her friends, her life - to be with him, than live a relatively normal life with me.

The only other one of the original five who hadn't Imprinted was Paul. I'd never seen him with anyone and he never indicated there was someone he liked. I guess it was no surprise the girls didn't like him. He was surly and bad-tempered, usually glowering and making himself look completely unapproachable. He and I clashed pretty badly a lot of the time, starting with him phasing and threatening Bella. I fought with him and it wasn't playful, the way I sometimes sparred with Embry or Quil - it was vicious. I came out on top, having impaled him on a tree branch and he seemed to resent the fact that I was stronger. It led to more fights in the future and Sam always seemed to be getting in between the two of us, reminding us we were supposed to be on the same side.

I wasn't going to miss them. Well, I would a little, but not painfully so. Sam could be overbearing, making it clear things had to be his way or no way; Quil and Embry were closer to each other and to their Imprints than they were to me and Paul...well, I already explained about him. If I never saw him again it wouldn't exactly break my heart. The pack had also gained Leah and Seth Clearwater and I guessed I would miss Seth. He was like everybody's little kid brother; sweet and funny and loyal. Leah - well, she was a female version of Paul, only nastier if that were possible.

The only person I was really going to miss was Dad. I couldn't tell him what I was doing or how I felt. He'd been through enough hell with me over the past couple of years, with me pining over Bella, running away, fighting against what I was and then getting injured in the fight with the vampire army. Now I was going to run away again and I didn't want to tell him that; I didn't want to see the worry in his face.

I waited until he went to bed that night, sitting in the darkness in my room watching the illuminated hands of my clock slowing moving around towards midnight. When I eventually heard Dad snoring, I crept into the kitchen to leave the note I had written by the toaster. I knew it was the coward's way out, simply leaving a note saying I needed to leave. I almost tore it up, but eventually I stood a glass on top of it to make sure it didn't blow away when I opened the door.

Ten minutes later La Push was behind me. I had run to the edge of the meadow wearing just shorts, phased there and then started to flee. I kept on running without a pause until I reached the mountains and felt snow beneath my paws and then I ran some more until I was lost in the northern most part of the Rockies, hundreds of miles from home. There I stayed for six months and no one came looking for me.

Occasionally I tuned into Sam's thoughts, worried he may search for me. He had talked to the others, but they decided I wasn't going to get over things if I was forced to face up to it before I was ready and they left me to do what I needed to. I continued to live as a wolf until a month after my seventeenth birthday and just as I had decided I was ready to go back, to deal with the things I had put off by leaving, I heard Sam's voice in my head.

"Jacob, if you're hearing me, you really need to come back. Billy's sick. He needs you."

I was home two days later and nothing was different; if anything it was worse because I knew my Dad was dying. His diabetes had led to heart disease and he had spent a couple of weeks in hospital during my absence. He had been allowed home since and Sue Clearwater had taken up residence in the house to look after him, but they doubted he would last more than a year.

I hated myself for not being there, for running away to make it easier on myself. I did everything I could to make the time Dad had left happy, but inside I felt like I was dying with him. I was losing him, the one person who had always been there for me and at the same time, the pain of losing Bella had hit me all over again the minute I shifted back to human. All I had done for the last six months was put off the inevitable and now I had to start from the beginning, trying to get over it all, to move on when I had nothing to move on to.

During that year I continued working as a mechanic, doing repairs, rebuilding engines, rescuing old wrecks and doing them up to sell, saving every last cent that I could. What with that and being with Dad, I had little time for anything else and I virtually severed all contact with the pack. I saw Sam because he and Emily came over to spend time with Dad every so often, but the others had their own lives. Even Leah had eventually found a boy on the reservation that she liked and although she didn't Imprint, she got over her feelings for Sam and her bitterness towards him for Imprinting on Emily and leaving her.

Dad died six weeks after I turned eighteen. Sue helped me arrange the funeral and I saw him off numbly. I didn't have room in me for any more pain than I was already feeling. For a year it had felt as if a huge hole had been punched through me and as I watched Dad's coffin being lowered into the earth, I only wished it was me in there. I didn't want to go on living like this for even another minute.

Sue and Sam and Emily came back to the house with me afterwards, but I politely asked them to leave after an hour. Sue and Emily went, but Sam lingered.

"You shouldn't be on your own," he said.

"I'm used to being on my own."

"You're not going to do anything stupid, are you?"

"You might think it's stupid," I grunted. "I'm leaving." I hadn't really thought about it seriously, but when the words popped out of my mouth, suddenly it seemed like the best thing to do. Maybe if I left La Push, tried to make a new life for myself somewhere different, I could forget everything, or at least let it fade so that it didn't hurt any more. Perhaps that was what I had been saving my money for, subconsciously knowing what decision I would make when I finally lost Dad.

"Leaving? You're just going to run away again? It doesn't go away, Jacob, it just waits for you to come back," Sam said sadly.

"I don't mean as a wolf," I said. "I mean I'm going to put the house up for sale, pack up and drive."


"I don't know. Anywhere. Until I find somewhere I like the look of, I guess."

"Don't, please. At least give it a little time. Your friends are all here," Sam protested.

"You've all got your own lives, you're all happy. I don't want to be here any more. If I stay, I probably won't make it. At least somewhere else I'll have a chance."

Sam nodded slowly. "Maybe you're right. It could be good for you. Just keep in touch, alright? We'll all still be here if you need us. You only have to call and we'll come running."

"Yeah. Thanks."

Sam left me alone then and I spent the rest of the day packing up the things I wanted to take with me; just enough to fill the back of Dad's truck. I spoke to a realtor and put the house up for sale and arranged an auction for all the contents, to be overseen by an agent. I stayed two more days to wrap things up, even selling the much-loved motorcycle I had rebuilt with Bella before she had thrown my friendship and love back in my face and run off to Italy to make sure the bloodsucker she now called a husband didn't do himself in. I laughed at myself then, aware it sounded a touch hysterical. I almost sounded as bitter as Leah once had at the moment. Leaving La Push could only be good for me.

Seth came to see me on the morning I was due to leave. Sam had already called me earlier to wish me luck and remind me to get in touch if I needed anything. Now Seth was on the doorstep with tears in his eyes, begging me to reconsider.

"What am I gonna do without my big brother?" he said sadly.

"You still have four others," I reminded him.

"You were always my favourite." His bottom lip quivered. "Come on, Jake, you can't just go."

"I have to. It's the only way I can get over everything," I said, wondering if I ever would, even without constant reminders around me.

"Yeah, I guess." He sighed heavily. "You are gonna come back, aren't you?"

"Maybe. One day." I hated not being able to make him any promises, but I could see he understood. He hung around for a little longer, then gave me a hug and left.

There was only one thing left for me to do. I carried the last box out to the truck and covered it with a tarp, locked the door and put the key under a plant pot for the realtor to collect. Then I drove to the cemetery to say goodbye to Dad. I parked up close to the gate and walked slowly along the grass aisle between the graves until I reached his. The stone was brand new, black marble, engraved with: 'Billy Black, loving father of Jacob, tribal leader and friend to all.'

Shit. Even reading that almost had me throwing myself onto the ground and screaming for him to come back. Instead I sat down on a fancy iron seat close by and talked to him, not out loud, but in my head. That way I could almost hear his voice; almost convince myself that he was answering me.

I must have sat there for an hour. I didn't realise it would be this hard to walk away. In the end I forced myself to get up and walk back to the truck. Somehow I had managed to hold it together thus far, but when I reached the vehicle, I broke up before I even opened the door. I leaned against the side of the truck, rested my folded arms on the top of the door where I had left the window down, and dropped my head onto them. Tears poured down my face and I sobbed like a child, completely unable to control myself.

Suddenly I had the uncomfortable feeling that I was no longer alone and I forced myself to get a grip, straightening up and scrubbing my hands over my face. Chances are it was just another grieving person visiting a grave so they weren't going to turn a hair at the sight of a young man howling like a baby by the gate.

"I'm sorry about your Dad."

I stiffened and stopped breathing for a couple of seconds. It was Paul's voice. The last person on earth I wanted to see right at that moment.

"Thanks," I grunted, wondering why he had suddenly decided to bother offering his condolences. I hadn't seen him for weeks, except briefly at the funeral although he hadn't spoken to me. He spent most of his time in Forks where he had initially started working in a tattoo store before setting up on his own when he had become good enough.

"Sam says you're leaving La Push."

"Yeah." I pulled the door of the truck open now and climbed onto the seat. I didn't want to talk. I just wanted him to go away and let me leave.

"Don't you think you'd be better off staying where your friends are?" he said.

"If I thought that, I'd be staying, wouldn't I?" I reached out to grab the door and slammed it closed. Much to my annoyance he leaned on to the top of it, right where I had been leaning just a moment ago.

"Jake, look, I'm sorry about...everything," he said. "Considering the pack is supposed to be close, I haven't been much of a friend to you."

Now he decided to apologise for being an asshole?

"Forget it," I said shortly.

Was it my imagination, or did he actually look sorry? Sad, even?

"I'm sure Sam said the same thing, but if you need anything, don't think twice about calling...us."

"Yeah. I have to go."

"Sure. Sorry." He backed away from the truck at last. "Good luck. Wherever you end up."

I nodded, started the engine and reversed quickly off the grass by the gate. When I drove off, I could see him in the rearview mirror, standing in the middle of the street staring after me until I turned off and lost sight of him. Weird. I frowned as I thought about the awkward conversation. He had almost seemed upset that I was leaving. Well, the hell with him. I had more important things to think about - or to avoid thinking about.

It was only minutes before I left La Push behind and another twenty before I passed Forks. Then I was on the highway heading for Port Angeles, after which I turned south towards Portland, Oregon. I didn't have a plan in my head as to where I was going. Each time I passed a route sign, I would pick a place from the three or four listed and head for it. Portland was two hundred and thirty miles from Port Angeles and I fixed on that, guessing I would make it by the end of the day.

My cellphone rang towards the end of the afternoon and I pulled it out of my pocket, grimacing. It wasn't a number I reconised, but I guessed it would only be a matter of time before a number I did know came up; Sam's or Seth's, Embry's or Quil's - or Bella's, God forbid. Not that I could imagine she would have any reason to call me. She was too busy living - if you could call it that - as one of the walking dead. I clenched my teeth, pressed the reject button, switched the phone off and then hurled it out of the window. I saw it bounce off the highway and into the grass running alongside the endless stretch of blacktop. Now I was free, I told myself. Part way between my old life and whatever lay ahead of me, but at last able to start afresh and go forward.