Leah knows she is being ridiculous.

At least, sometimes she thinks she is. After all, Jacob is her best friend. Her only friend. Compromises should be made.

But other times, she is furious. Leah is indignant at Jacob's blatant refusal to reveal to her the secret behind his sudden transformation. So she ends up trashing her room in her rage – tearing at her bed sheets and throwing her sparse belongings onto the wall. And screaming. So much screaming till her throat turns raw. Leah feels helpless, haunted by the insinuation that despite all her effort, her friendship, her love, Jacob cannot even open up to her.

But this is Jacob, her best friend. Her only friend.

So, a month after their fight, she compromises.

It is easy to start liking Jacob more than is appropriate. He is a ray of sunlight in the darkest room, a jug of ice-cold water in the driest of deserts, a cool breeze in harshly stagnant air, and every other poetic waxing. But Leah understands that she is restricting him – holding him back from making friends. It is a step up from complete possession, really. After all, is she not, on most occasions, the first person to greet him in the morning? To stay by his side like a parasitic growth till as late a night as his curfew will allow? Who curbs his time expenditure with his friends, male or otherwise, and ensures that she is the only person who encompasses his thoughts and actions? Who forces upon him social exclusion to the point where she is almost his only friend? Leah knows very well what she is doing, but she cannot stop. Once she realises how easy it is to compel Jacob to hang out less and less with Embry and Quil, she manouevres even more time away from Jacob's social life; into undivided spans of time with her. Leah plays her cards right – she remembers all his likes and dislikes, takes to him to all the places he wants to go, gives Jacob an almost unnerving amount of attention to everything he wants to tell her, be it his day or his latest craze. She gifts him with friendly presents meant to tie him even closer, to act as reminders even when he is alone.

Leah adores laving attention onto Jacob, and making him feel like the most important person in the world. Because that is what he is to Leah. The very first friend after her miserable existence post-Sam. The only person who can make her smile, laugh, partake in general conviviality. The sole purpose for living. Her sole purpose for living.

Leah is going to eat him alive.

And Jacob will not realise, no, not till he is safely tucked away in her stomach.

When Jacob does not drop by on Sunday morning, Leah knows something is wrong. Jacob is, after all, as attached to her as much as she is to him – Leah has made sure of it. So she figures him sick, makes Jacob's favourite breakfast casserole, and storms her way to his house. However, she finds Sam at Jacob's bedroom door (after ignoring the frantic demands from Billy that she step away if she knows what's good for her), and she realises that her worst fears and come to fruition. She tries at first – to get Sam to fuck off but he stands tall, his face a conflicting cross between pained guilt and firm denial. But as she screeches at him and claws at his face, punching him in the gut, she can visually see him crumble and falter from self-reproach.

He tries to explain to her how much he wants to tell her but can't and she thinks he is a load of bullshit. It is a physical tussle as she attempts to shove him out of the way, and he resists with his muscles and towering stature. She screams at him, screams so hard her throat closes and fails her. A lot of pacing ensues as she screams profanities and various other degrading slurs onto his quivering frame. She is playing on his guilt, she knows. But if his crumbling will gives way to allowing her into Jacob's room, she will take it. There is no mercy for those that stand in the way of her "epic friendship"with Jacob. A quick glance in Sam's direction gives insight into the welling tears in Sam's eyes and Leah stomps away the twitch of remorse. Although, she does turn away for a moment to recollect herself – to prepare a compelling speech that will gain her entry into Jacob's room – not to slump in regret and mild reproach, of course not. And it is when she is facing away from him that Sam quietly slips into the sanctuary of Jacob's room.

The coward.

Her casserole dish is left right outside Jacob's room – glass shattered all over the floor, egg dripping, and sausage pieces splayed haphazardly across dusty wooden flooring.

Leah knows that something unnatural is going on. After all, when she is observing as closely and intensely as she is, there is no way she can miss how other people in the Rez start disappearing, only to reappear looking like completely different people. It starts with Sam, and while her own pain distracts her, she does not fail to notice the lack of a solid explanation. Jared disappears two months later, and no one thinks much about it, but Leah is suspicious and watchful. Especially when Jared, who had no previous relations with Sam, starts "hanging out" with him. And when it is reported that Paul, who loves his mother and would do anything short of killing another human for her, has run away from home, her doubts have solidified. It is a routine disappearance for two weeks, and they will all return with more than a couple extra pounds worth of muscle, a shaved head, and a forged sense of brotherhood. The relief of their returns usually shadows any lingering suspicions, but Leah pieces it together quickly enough. Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, and thrice is a pattern. Or according to Teen Wolf, it is.

Sheriff Stilinski is, of course, the best source of detective advice.

Whatever they go through, Leah does not want Jacob to experience. This is part selfishness, an intense need to monopolise Jacob's time, and part worry – worry that Jacob will be gossiped about by the Rez, grouped with the miscreants against his will. Because while Billy and his friend's have an overtly optimistic view on Uley's cronies, Leah hears the people of La Push talk. Talk about how they are the dregs of Quileute society – neither well employed nor academically successful. How they return home at obscene hours of the morning, presumably from partying and various other misdeeds. The talk of steroid consumption to fuel their bodybuilding; all sorts of horrible, cruel slander. Leah does not have solid proof against this, but she likes to think she knows Sam – that he would never do the aforementioned things. A part of her winces, reminiscing that she apparently did not know him well enough, if his cheating on her is any indication. Which it is.

But this is about Jacob. Her dear, precious Jacob who, due to poor happenstance, is now about to be associated to these misconstrued circumstances. And she knows Jacob. Knows that whatever muscle building he undergoes is without choice. Because he loves himself a little bit too indulgently, not that Leah does not completely support that wholeheartedly (Jacob, to her, is the very finest specimen the world has to offer), to consume muscle-enhancing drugs. Leah knows that Jacob would never resort to Sam Uley for help, although she knows it is her that fuels his hatred for the older male. Leah knows that it is too suspicious that Jacob, who possesses an incredibly calm nature, has a violent fit with Bella, right before his supposed fever,and that his disappearance coincides with symptoms she has observed with the rest of Sam's gang – a short temper combined with unexplainable violence, a sudden increase in body temperature (she had to resort to not-so-accidental bumps in which she had to grab their arms, palms splayed out to "steady herself"), and a two-week transformation.

Most of all, she knows this because Jacob would never keep a secret from her. Never. Unless he really, really, really has to.

So it is with a heart steeled with determination and a mindset armed with forgiveness that Leah climbs up to the window of Jacob's room and crawls in.

When her body slinks into his room, Jacob is beyond startled to see her. So much, that he falls off his bed with a yelp. When his head pops up from under tangled blankets, his face is a painful mix of weary and hopeful.

"…Leah?" His voice is small, and Leah immediately regrets having altered his loud, booming (and amusingly grating) cries, to a shaky whisper. Leah simply gives him a contrite grin and holds out her arms. "C'mere."

Jacob stumbles into her outreached arms, rasping out a mantra of, "Leah, Leah, Leah," and he sinks into her firm hold. He buries his face into her shoulder, and wraps his own thickset arms around her waist. Leah pats his head. She hears Jacob give a large intake of air, as if trying to breathe in her very essence. "Never again- Never. Sorry, Leah, so sorry. Sorry, sorry, sorry. Don't leave, please. Please, please, please. Miss- Miss you. Miss you so much."

Jacob is sobbing at this point – his watery gasps of breath in between his pleads crushing Leah, so she tightens her hold and mutters out her own apology. Jacob is ceaselessly trembling; hoarse hiccups loud in her ear, despite Jacob's attempts to muffle them in her shirt. Leah just rubs her hand down the length of Jacob's hunched back, blinking the tears in her eyes away furiously. How stupid of her – thinking she could possibly ruin this.

After a couple of tight, encouraging squeezes, Leah pulls away from Jacob and flashes him a warm grin – an I'm-very-sorry-for-being-an-asshole grin – causing a beaming smile to emerge beneath the tears actively spilling from Jacob's eyes. It is completion – an encompassing warmth enveloping them both. It is forgiveness – as if the severe, month-long respite never happened. Although it did, it very obviously did. It is perfection – the unwavering knowledge that what they have, is very much forever.

It is love – and Leah's breath stutters into Jacob's sensitive ear, which he reaches up to rub, a light smattering of a blush across the bridge of his nose. But Leah knows she will never be worthy of the goodness that is Jacob. So she simply burrows her cheek into the top of Jacob's fluffy-haired head, ignoring the uncomfortable pounding of her heart.

After they crawl out of Jacob's room, the first place they go is Taco Palace, a dwelling they have both actively avoided ever since their fight. It's eight in the morning, the near obscene hour facilitating their near-silent trek from the car park. The both of them are linking arms (Leah initiates it, if only to re-affirm to Jacob that tactile bonding is once again more than welcome). Jacob is pressed firmly up to her shoulder, his latent body heat warming her right side. She realises how much taller he is, and it feels weird not being able to see the top of his head anymore, her line of sight falling short of his nose. It also gives her a clear view of the conflicted expression on Jacob's face as he worries his bottom lip.

"Jacob. You don't have to tell me the 'secret'anymore, okay? Honestly, I don't think it's…" She fondles for a word, "I just don't think it's worth it. I mean, we all have things to hide. You don't have to feel guilty, 'kay?" She brings up a finger to smooth out the creases between his eyebrows. Jacob gives her finger a cross-eyed look and slowly nudges his forehead forward, almost nuzzling it, and Leah pulls her finger away, snorting. Jacob smiles.

"Yeah. Thanks, Leah."

They are still silent the remaining way to Taco Palace, but Jacob is no longer abusing his lips in worry. So Leah counts that as a win.

The bell by the door jingles as they enter the warm building, and Leah hears the faint Good morning! from the counter. She spies Louise behind the cash register, and Leah gives an answering wave. They (Jacob) have been here often enough that they (also, Jacob) are on first-name terms with some of the employees (that is, all of them). Which is why Leah's angles her face in Jacob's direction, confused, when she notices that Jacob does not loudly screech, Hey Louise! The Jacob has arrived! I'm here! Take my order! Taco Palace!, or any other variety of wailing replies. Leah supposes they did just have an intense emotional… situation, so maybe this is actually expected.

But what Leah is very sure is not expected is the order for a ridiculous amount of tacos (not the unexpected part), his voice a mere mumble, and the very blatant lack of eye contact. Louise, bless her young soul, does not comment on it, but when she does try to tilt her head to meet his eye, Jacob actually snaps his head in the other direction. So, with a slow nod and a befuddled look, Louise turns away to serve up their order, taking the "hint" with a wry smile. The moment her back is turned, Leah roughly elbows Jacob in the ribs.

"Dude, what the hell was that?" she whispers, her eyes wide and puzzled.

"Sorry," comes the half-hearted murmur, and now Jacob refuses to meet her eye.

"No, no, no, no, no," she intones, and Leah grabs Jacob's chin, forcing him to face her properly. "Look, Jelly, I know we've been through a rough patch, but don't do that, alright? We're cool. And come on, Louise likes you. She's nice. If she weren't wholly and almost disgustingly in love with her boyfriend, she'd totally wanna bang you. And who knows? Someone could be falling in love with your smile." God, Leah hopes Jacob does not catch the Teen Wolf reference.

But, of course, he does. And he gives her a cheesy, shit-eating grin. "There. Falling in love with my smile, now?" Leah is certain she is imagining the hopeful undertones. She dunks his head, and he bursts out laughing, struggling out of her rough noogies. When Louise returns, Jacob chuckles out an apology and a cheery thanks, but Leah notices that all the while, Jacob is looking over Louise's shoulder. She will let that slide for now, but she side-eyes the fuck out of him.

They grab their trays, a single meal for Leah and a pile-high taco extravaganza for Jacob, and they head over to a cushy booth (as cushy as the rock-hard wooden benches could possibly be). They exchange a few shy glances with each other, a comfortable, but slightly awkward atmosphere lingering in the air in lieu of the playful tussle. When Jacob hides the beginning of a bashful smile, like a blushing schoolgirl before her first senior crush, Leah rolls her eyes and with a groan, and she leans over the table and pokes his cheek, instigating an indignant, "Hey!"

"You're being cute again," she deadpans, her eyes freaking sparkling with fondness.

"Am not cute," Jacob mumbles. Although his pout only intensifies it. You would think his new physique would have negated Jacob's unrelenting adorability, but apparently not. So fucking adorable. Damn it. Hng. But then he continues, "You're cuter-er-er-er."

Leah's eyebrows shoot skyward and she has a very much unimpressed look on her face. "Uh huh."

"Naw man, Leah, don't give me that! We've been through this. You're totally cute. Like, I'd date you if you were actually interested in me like that." Jacob rushes out the last part, and his entire face is a glowing red. Leah has this niggling feeling that there is some double entendre… but she fails to grasp at it.

"Right. You know, you don't have to say stuff like that." Leah waves her taco around as she gestures, and lies through a mouthful of taco. "I mean, my single status doesn't actually bother me anymore, you know? I'll find the right guy eventually. Maybe I'll meet him college, or maybe when I'm thirty, but I'll get there. Some day."

And apparently, this is the wrong thing to say, because Jacob's face just drops and his blush is chased away by a nauseous look. Huh. Leah raises an eyebrow. "You alright? You know… I wouldn't stop being your friend just cause I get attached. You know that, right? We're tight like that! Soul sisters. I won't get distant if you get yourself a girl too."

It is supposed to be comforting; at least, that is what Leah is gunning for. The last bit makes her tongue feel dry, but she ignores it. Jacob needs to know this – needs to know that she will never let him go. But instead of a reassured smile, Leah watches the emotions warring on Jacob's face before it settles on resignation. "…Yeah, okay."

Leah furrows her eyebrows at this, absolutely bewildered. She moves to question him further, because Jacob is obviously bothered by something, but he cuts her off. "Leah. So are you gonna end up dorming, or not?"

The smile he shoots her is so painfully forced, and just like that, the past hour of familiar banter is demolished. He is diverting. She knows he is diverting. She knows he knows she knows he is diverting. But Jacob's defeated posture and stiff movements as he awkwardly bites into his second taco, convinces her to take the bait and reply in turn, rather than calling him out on his indisputable bullshit and interrogating the fuck out of him.

The next time they hang out is at Leah's house, after they both grab breakfast at some diner. Stuffed with bacon, eggs and other greasy, artery-choking breakfast foods, they squeeze through the door into the Clearwater household, arms over each other and grinning. Leah hears some commotion in the living room, and she peeks by the entrance and leans over doorway, with Jacob pressed up against her, trying to get a sneaky glimpse too. Apparently, Seth has friends over, and they are the typical popular crowd, Leah notices with a grimace. "Guh, dude, he has friends over. Let's just go up to my room."

They are not dawdling, but apparently, their entrance into Leah's home causes a stir, so Seth calls out to them with a cheery, "Hey Leah! And Jacob." Leah observes Seth's lingering animosity for Jacob. Meh, he will have to get over it, considering that she is planning to have Jacob around for a long time. A very long time. Probably forever. "Hello, Seth. Seth and friends. Seth and company. Seth and people who probably don't want me to be a bother so I'll just skedaddle upstairs and leave you… hubbubs to your action movies. And hot chick-fan service disguised as romantic subplots. Enjoy the popcorn. Yeah…"

It is a smooth save, Leah thinks, and this is just the tip of the gargantuan have-to-escape-this-social-situation-somehow iceberg. Jacob is trying to restrain the giggles she knows is festering painfully in his stomach, making him look constipated and flushed. She hooks a strong arm around his neck and attempts to drag away a now doubled over Jacob, his gasping, fucking tee-hees reverberating against her neck. "Dude, stop being an asshole. You're messing up my street cred," she says in a half-joking harsh whisper.

They almost reach the foot of the stairs, away from sight, when Seth, her endearing yet completely-unable-to-read-the-mood brother, stops them in their tracks. "Wait, Leah! These are my friends from school! I don't think you've met them yet. Come on, lemme introduce you guys." Seth hops off the couch, and ushers the two of them properly into the living room, where Seth's buddies are sprawled about. Like jungle cats. It is a mix of girls and guys and Leah winces at the sheer amount of bare skin on display, like La Push's springs are actually hot (in which they are most definitely not). The amorphous mass of teenagers pull apart and give her sloppy handshakes or waves as Seth tugs her around the room. Leah is sure that the moment she takes a step towards the stairs, she will have forgotten their names, but she partakes in the stiflingly awkward handshaking session anyway.

"You're really hot," one of Seth's female friends breathily comments. Leah rolls her eyes and does not bother glancing her way because she knows they are referring to Jacob and his glistening muscles (Leah wonders about the glistening. Body butter?). Leah instead turns to Jacob for his reaction. After their fight, they both admitted to having become recluses (and they have consequently made up for it by spending their every waking moment together), so Leah knows Jacob is still unused to the awed and very much appreciative female populace inhabiting La Push for his rocking bod.

"Excuse me?" comes the snappish, belligerent demand from Jacob and Leah snaps her head his way. His form is heaving slightly, and Leah swears she can see his muscles ripple and tense under his skin. "I really don't think you should be saying stupid, shallow things to someone you've just met." Leah gapes dumbly at him. Jacob's voice is mean and snide, and Leah watches him drill holes into her forehead. The entire room is quiet and Leah spies Seth flushing furiously between embarrassment and I KNEW HE WAS A SOCIAL MORON!-feels. There is a mumbled Ooh, snap… from one of the more denser boys and the girl's friends huddle around her, protective and glaring. They are cussing him out, but Jacob looks unrepentant.

"Oh my god. Oh my god. Nope! No, no, no, this isn't happening. So not happening right now. Jacob, fuck, what the hell is wrong with you?!" says Leah, her words stuttered and disbelieving. She is floored. The aforementioned girl, probably a Joanne, flusters between appalled and incensed, and moves to say something, but Leah cuts her off.

"Sorry girls, I'm sure he means to say, 'Thank you beautiful maiden, not many girls appreciate my awesome abs and perky ass and I'm too stunned to say anything so I'm looking like a complete tool right now'. God, he's weird like that." At this point, Jacob splutters heatedly, but Leah pulls him out of the living room before he can get a word in. "Anyways, it was nice meeting you guys, I suppose. Fuck." And they disappear upstairs, ignoring the beginnings of a screeching frenzy downstairs.

When they reach the confines of her bedroom, Leah roughly seats Jacob onto her the middle of her bed and settles herself across him, intertwining their legs. "So you gonna tell me what hell that was?" she roughly questions, a strict eyebrow raised. When Jacob just fidgets in his place, and rubs his hand across the length of his arm, Leah sternly prompts him again with a few light pats to the cheek, "Jacob! Does this have to do with the secret? Because Louise was one thing, but this is a little…" She tries to keep her tone placid, but it comes out sounding dry.

"…sorry," comes Jacob's mumbled reply.

"'Sorry'? Jacob, babe, 'sorry' just isn't gonna cut it anymore! What that was down there, was just plain rude. Don't think I didn't notice, you know, how you didn't look in Joanne's eyes-"

"Jane," Jacob corrects. Leah rolls her eyes.

"Not the time, Jacob. Look, Jacob… God, I know I said I wouldn't nag at you about this anymore, but-" Leah pulls her legs away and her shoulders sigh with resignation. "…You know what, never mind." She feels ridiculous that she swears she will restrain from forcing out the issue, but then she keeps going back on her words, but Jacob is being so frustratingly rude, but he has his reasons, but then there is that eye contact thing (which she would normally not even notice, but Jacob is being so obvious about it), but-

"I mean- I don't know! Cause like-," Jacob struggles his words, looking pale and frustrated, his voice strangling her train of thought. Leah becomes impatient at first, folding her arms interrogatively with a frown stitched on her lips, but her tension eventually melts away as she appraises his fists, the large hands clenching and unclenching; his eyes shifty and conflicted. "…yeah. Yeah, it does. It's a secret. A little bit," he finishes, resigned. "Argh, I hate keeping secrets from you! I just, I wanna tell you everything, you know? But I can't and stupid Sam just has to-! Ugh! I can't believe I alliterated 'Sam' with 'stupid'! Damn it! But don't you see? She was hitting on you! I can't believe her! That's just, NO. That's a complete no to that. You don't even swing that way! She thinks- Just because…! Oh god." Jacob's hair is a messy nest from where he has run his fingers through them, aggravated. And then he reverts back to his first line of thought apropos of nothing. "I don't- I don't want to talk about it, alright? Gosh, Leah, I know you're worried. I know. But, geezus, Leah, I can't, okay? I just can't."

Leah just licks her lips and breathes a small sigh, eyes directed in her lap. Jacob withdraws his legs, tucking them under his thighs, his eyes alight with anguish. At this point, Leah considers a number of things:

Leah's List of Things to Consider About Jacob Black and the Accompanying Stupidity (Numbered):

1) Pursue issue but risk losing Jacob (NO)

2) Pursue issue and successfully extract secret, but lose Jacob's trust, (Fuck that.)

3) Ignore issue but ignoring issue amalgamates with current issue, becoming a bigger Issue (TOO POSSIBLE, UH)

4) Ignore issue and overcome it together, resulting in a re-forged Sword of Friendship (Acceptable, but it's missing something)

5) Ignore issue and overcome it together, resulting in a re-forged Sword of Friendship BUT WITH HUG

So she purses her mouth, gives a heaving sigh, and tackles Jacob into a tight embrace, splaying the length of his body onto the bed. She then props herself up on her elbows and grins at him. Jacob breathes loudly from the sudden attack, smiling back but not knowing why.

"God, you're such an idiot," she sighs, her voice mock-pained. Jacob laughs brightly and smiles back at her. Leah lays her head against Jacob's chest, listening to his steady breathes for a bit.

She brings a hand up to tweak a nipple, ignoring his indignant protest. Pussy. "Well, to be terribly honest, I couldn't give a shit whether or not you're an asshole towards everyone." She feels him stiffen underneath her. "As long as you're not like that with me." At this, she tilts her head so she's staring straight at him.

"Sound good," Jacob croaks back weakly.

"Awesomeness." And then she leans forward and presses an affectionate kiss to his forehead. Because she never asserted to have any restraint, anyway. If she cannot have his heart, she will place her claim other ways. It is a desperate hope, she thinks, as they laze on her floor, that with enough kisses, Jacob will not feel compelled to do the same with someone else.

And then something strikes her.

"Wait, Jacob, you said she called me 'hot'," she sounds out slowly, befuddlement tainting her voice. Leah distinctly remembers Jacob saying that, and an amused and befuddled grin tugs at her lips. "…You do know she was talking about you, right?"

"What, no! Leah, you can't be serious, you know she was talking about you! She was checking you out, like, rude," Jacob grumpily huffs. "Uh, it's like you don't even realise how handsome you are sometimes." And it's like the conversation ends there.

No, Leah definitely does not realise. In fact, she is pretty sure Jacob is tripping. She wants to treat Jacob to his little delusion, though, and Leah is about to shrug it off, when Jacob suddenly bursts into a rant. "Honestly, Leah, you should see how many people try to hit on you. You don't even notice, do you?" Leah is about to answer, but Jacob just cuts her off. "It's like, all the cashiers in Port Angeles have tried giving you their numbers. And like, I bet you didn't even know Louise wanted to date you at one point, oh my god. And Paul's always leering at you, and Bella! Oh god, fucking Bella-"

Leah is just staring at Jacob like she barely even knows him. She is pretty sure the cashiers in La Push give her their numbers to pass to Jacob. And that Louise is very much in love with her boyfriend Alex Summers, and that Paul just has a permanent douchebag face, and that Bella was a one-off, sleazy occurrence. Leah shakes her head.

"Whatever you say, babe." And she muffles Jacob's affronted sputters with another kiss to the forehead. It's a little addictive, she thinks.

They have let the matter of Jacob's weirdness go, of course, but that fails to prevent Leah from tensing up when Jacob refuses to look her mother in the eye. Her mother, who serves them pancakes in the morning; who makes them hot chocolate during the nights when they rush through Jacob's homework; who lets them laze around in their pajamas way past what's reasonable in the day. Said mother merely raises an eyebrow at the both of them, mostly Leah, and later, when she manages to corner Leah after Jacob has left her house, she interrogates her, leaving Leah at a lost for a reasonable explanation. She's thankful that her mother lets the issue slide though, but not without muttering, "Teenagers," under her breath. Leah in turn, lets the mortifying eye-rolling slide.


Leah observes that Jacob is sleeping in much longer. When she pops by his place in the morning, ready for another day of adventures and general stupidity with Jacob, she finds him still sleeping, belly bared and mouth gaping. This is weird because Jacob is a morning person, grossly enough, and he is always awake by the time she comes over. Nowadays, though, it usually takes a while of knocking on the panes of his windows before he startles awake and opens up for her, sheepish. Sometimes, he is just dead to the world, and after a couple of minutes of annoyed window-rapping, Leah will just enter through the front door (like a normal person, she supposes), knuckles sore. She passes it off as Jacob being a regular teenage bum, though.

Until she doesn't.

It is some obscene time in the morning, and Leah cannot for the life of her go to sleep. So she sneaks out her house to go bother Jacob. He will be asleep, of course, but Leah knows he adores her enough to put up with her midnight rendezvous. She melded him that way. Anyways, she strolls to his house, enjoying the chilly spring air, ruminating. She thinks about her application to Seattle University being accepted. And how after summer, she will be leaving La Push and its weirdness behind, starting classes in a new place, with new people. Leaving her issues with Sam behind, starting afresh without a painful history hounding her every move.

Leaving Jacob behind, the other half of her soul, who has cherished her and chained her so tightly to him that she may very well fade away without him.

She wants to be excited, but the notion, nay, certainty that Jacob will still be in high school, starting his junior year while she begins college, crushes her. Leah wishes she were younger, or that Jacob were older, but it hardly matters when faced with the concrete reality – that while she is well into her twenty years, he is but barely seventeen.

When she reaches Jacob's window, she knocks her knuckles against it, softly enough that she will not awaken Billy, but enough that Jacob should be able to hear. She does so for the next few minutes. But when he does not open his window, she furrows her eyebrows and peers through the window, squinting into the darkness of his room. It is late enough that Leah barely has any light to work with, but she can vaguely make out that Jacob is not in bed. She is bewildered at this point, but figures that Jacob is simply in the bathroom, so she moves to a nearby tree, leaning against the bark, and facing the window so she can catch Jacob when he returns to his room. Nearly half and hour passes this way, and Leah thinks nothing of it, lost in her own thoughts, but then she hears the sound of rustling – like someone is carefully crossing the field behind Jacob's house. She freezes, ready to tackle any suspicious persons, but then she makes out a figure moving towards Jacob's room window.

It's Jacob himself.

That night, Leah returns to her room, having not bothered Jacob in what was very obviously a midnight rendezvous – but not of the Leah-included variety. Slumping back into her bed, it does not take Leah very long to piece together the situation. Jacob is seeing Sam Uley. For reasons unknown, of course, but she figures it has something to do with The Big Secret. Leah is certain of this because that it is the only aspect of Jacob's life that remains an enigma to her. At least she hopes that is about it, because she cannot imagine Jacob hiding much more.

Staring blindly into the darkness of her room, Leah moves to rest her forehead on her bony, awkward knees, trying not to get hurt that Jacob has kept yet another thing from her. Although, considering her past transgressions towards Jacob, his secrets, and his relationship with Sam, she can almost understand it. Jacob is wonderful, so wonderful. Not that it does not still sting, of course, and it tugs painfully at her heartstrings. She wonders how Jacob will react if she outs his nightly trysts to him. Poorly, she knows. Jacob will probably get so flustered and apologise so profusely and be brought near to tears because he wants to tell Leah but can't, literally prostrating himself before her, wrecked with the fear of abandonment, and Leah just cannot do something like that to Jacob. Not anymore, at least. She does not need to lose the one thing that keeps her grounded.

Leah shuffles herself on her bed, wiggling into a ball of angst with her bedcovers wrapped snugly around her, but with her face popped out, like a snail. An angst-ridden snail, though. Either way, Leah knows she will be sleeping in today, Jacob coming by her house instead, because her mind is flaying the cries for sleep with deliberations of Jacob.

The sky is nearing a warm, lavender colour when she has finished collecting her thoughts. Leah realises that something massive is bothering Jacob, beyond the change in his physique. She knows that reluctantly, Jacob is somewhat pleased with his new body. He has always wanted to be taller, and now his wish is more than granted. And while Jacob tries to hide it, Leah has caught him staring at his own reflection at times, awed by his body. Sometimes, Leah cannot help but feel that Jacob himself has no idea how his transformation happened, what with the bewildered looks and reverent self-groping.

Beyond that, she has close to no idea of what is upsetting Jacob. It has something to do with the eye-contact issue; that had been the main perpetrator of their occasional squabble – Jacob offending just about all of La Push, and a portion of Forks and Port Angeles with it. This, oddly enough, had also been the one factor that had differed with Jacob and Sam's little group. Leah still cannot figure out why Jacob refuses to meet anyone's eye, but from what she had observed (and she has definitely been observing), apart from Billy and her, Jacob never looks anybody in the eye anymore. Not just girls, as she had once assumed, but everyone. He always keeps his head down, which is a little awkward given his height.

But that is not what bothers her.

It's the shut-off, sullen look his face collapses into whenever he thinks she's not looking. It's the way his confident stride has stilted into a forced hunch, neck craning downwards, and eyes firmly affixed to the ground. It's the way his muscles bunch and tense up when they bump into anyone; the way Jacob has close to completely stopped talking to absolutely everyone. It worries her because Jacob is the epitome of friendly sunshine. Maybe, months ago, Leah would have been happy with how Jacob has isolated himself into an metaphorical island in which only they inhabit, with Billy, sometimes. She would have been delirious with joy at the notion that Jacob practically belongs to her. But now, in the face of it becoming a reality, Leah is sick to her stomach.

This isn't Jacob. Jacob is supposed to be the one who is all smiles and bright laughter; supposed to be the one who drags her off to have adventures around the forest surrounding La Push, or trolling the streets of Port Angeles. Now, it seems that Jacob is holing himself in his room more than she is. Instead, it's Leah that bothers Jacob into hanging out with her outside the confines of their rooms.

The worst part, though, Leah feels, are the hopeful, infinitely pained looks Jacob will give her – gazes so intense Leah feels stripped bare. It is like Jacob is trying to force, well, something onto her. Like staring at her long enough will cause her to do something, and she so badly wants to do it, whatever it is. Leah just wants to help Jacob, more than ever, and it feels like she's been selfish long enough. For so long, their relationship's been Leah flourishing under Jacob's care, and now it feels like she is the reason Jacob is half a man at best.

So Leah decides to make the largest concession she ever has, and when she wakes up to Jacob sitting in the chair in her room, looking forlornly out her window, Leah drags him off to meet with Sam.

"Uley! Open up!" Leah barks as she loudly hammers the wooden door of his house. Jacob is standing awkwardly by her side, hands clenched by his side, fingers pinching and playing with the strands of his cut-offs. When Leah had announced that they were going to Sam's place, Jacob had reacted wildly, after he had finished gaping at her. He had tried asking why, tried talking her out of it, tried standing his ground, tried escaping, but Leah had merely slapped her hand around his wrist, and power walked to Sam's, Jacob gracelessly stumbling along. And here they were, on Sam Uley's front porch at an hour when there was no way Sam wasn't at home and with no way of even pretending he wasn't, with Leah pounding on the door.

She pulls away after a couple of minutes, when the door opens to reveal Sam Uley in all his shirtless loserlyness, his entire figure screaming a mix of alarm and dread. "…yes, Leah?"

"We're coming in, we're gonna talk, and you're going to let us, alright." Sam just stares for a bit, and has barely taken a step back to concede, when Leah shoves past him and into his living room, tugging Jacob with her. She flops onto his loveseat, ignoring Emily's I'll just go make some coffee, in favour of glaring Sam down into sitting next to Jacob on the couch adjacent.

"Okay," she starts, gathering her thoughts.

"Yeah, here's the thing, right now, we're gonna address the major 'issue' we've been facing. It's gone way too long and I am tired. So fucking tired, and we're gonna be fucking mature adults and talk our shit through, alright?" Leah sees Jacob shrinking into himself, looking like he wants to be anywhere but here. Sam too, actually. And it (Sam, mostly) pisses her off. Cause here she is, trying to put the clusterfuck behind her, and their terrified faces aren't helping at all.

"Jesus, you guys! Stop being such fucking pussies. Jacob!" she snaps, "Sam's more than enough, the little shit. Can't even stand up to a fucking girl, the cuntbag. I'm trying here." But at their further bracing and Jacob's whimpered sorry, she groans, realising she's being contrary to the cause and she runs a hand through her hair in frustration.

"Fuck, I'm not here to chastise the both of you. Sam." She angles herself towards him, and observes apathetically as Sam stiffens visibly, eyes wide.

"Yes, Leah?!" he squeaks.

She watches him for a while, watches as he squirms around in his seat, watches as he postures his towering form into something more submissive, watches as he transitions into an unnerved little thing she's made him into – and sighs. There: resolve steeled.

"I'm sorry okay," she forces out. "Well, not sorry for punching you," she quickly adds, "but sorry for not- well, for always guilt-tripping you." At this point, now that she's started, she promptly continues, ignoring the strangled/choked/fucking annoying noises thrown her way and looking down into her hands. She glances sideways and sneers at the frog-like expression Sam is sporting, all bug-eyed and mouth-gape-y and uuggghhhh.

"Now I'm not saying what you did was okay, fuck, it was so not okay, on so many fucking levels, and jesus, yes, what you did had hurt, but. But, well, I'm- From now on, I'm gonna put that behind us. It's been a long time, really fucking long, actually, and really, Sam, I don't give a shit anymore. There are more important things, and I'm so, so over you. Honest, like a fucking boy scout-honest."

She finishes her little speech with a cotton-y sensation in her mouth from all the meeehhh. Sam is still looking at her like he can't believe his ears, and Jacob just looks, well, adorkably surprised, and she gives a warm smile at that. There. All of this was for Jacob, really. She wanted- no, needed to show him she was serious about supporting him and his odd fraternising with Sam.

"T-thank you," Sam whispers, and Leah snaps to attention. "And- and, I'm really sorry too, Leah. Really. Really, I'm so sorry. I mean, goodness, I just-" Oh god. Leah can hear the apologies piling on, and she grimaces. She senses a feels fest coming her way and was Sam always this sob-ey? So she cuts across the small span between them and gives Sam a quick, brief, barely-there hug before it (that is, Sam's loss of Leah's respect) escalates. He can barely process the hug; much less reciprocate before she pulls away, feeling icky with… feelings.

"Ah, yikes, okay. There. Now we've hugged, made up, and there. No more crying. No more sorry-s. We're moving on to the next portion of the agenda," Leah swiftly declares, recoiling back into her seat.

Sam fidgets in his seat. "Um, thanks Leah." (Okay, okay, she gets it. Agh.)

Jacob still looks conflicted though, like he can't decide between relief and being weirded the fuck out, so Leah moves next to him and plops onto the couch. She throws an arm around his shoulders and snuggles into him. "You okay, babes?"

Jacob flashes her a tentative smile, gazing straight into her eyes. "Yeah, babes."

And Leah squeezes his shoulder in comfort.

They're quiet for a bit, soaking in the warm feelings of friendship and forgiveness, before Leah remembers something important. She turns to address the both of them. "See, now we're all buddy-buddy and s'all good. So. No need to go sneaking around behind my back at ass 'o clock in the night, okay? We're gonna be cool about this. Totally coolio."

And just like that, the relieved air vanishes.

Predictable, Leah thinks, as Jacob splutters out his shame and apologies and Sam just looks shell-shocked as if they weren't terribly obvious. She makes a face and rolls her eyes an infinite number of times in her head, slouching backwards into the couch, head lolling backwards, and shooting an bemused look at Emily – who ends up fumbling with the cups of coffee she had mentioned to bringing.

Boobs, all of them.

It's a little better now, Leah thinks. Jacob still avoids contact with people, still keeps his head down, still perpetuates the social recluse persona, but it's still better – cause Jacob walks like a weight's been lifted off his back. He openly greets Sam now. Well, as openly as Jacob does these days, which is a hesitant wave with a small smile, accompanied by a stilted hello.

Sometimes, when they bump into Sam and his little posse, Jacob will drag Leah into a painfully awkward and awkwardly painful round of small talk, which, ugh, worse thing ever. But yeah, Paul isn't that bad an asshole (still smiles like a douchebag, tho'), Jared isn't that bad a mindless crony (still too strong on the bro-fists and bro…'ttude), and Sam isn't that, well, bad. They've reached an armistice of sorts. A peaceful lull of conversation passes through them, and Leah's truly begun to form a rickety, tentative friendship with Sam again.

Sam knows what's going on with Jacob. All of them do, apparently. Because sometimes, out of the corner of her watchful eye, she'll see one of them pull Jacob to the side (the others failing to form any concrete distraction), and give him a talk, gesturing towards her sometimes.

Jacob always shakes his head and pulls away, though, sidling back into her arms, quiet.

And Leah knows that they've discussed elaborately with Jacob, if the repetitive manner in which Jacob rejects their advances, as if their concern is tedious and pedestrian, is any indication.

But Leah's glad, though – knowing that she's not the only one worried about Jacob; that other people care enough for her best friend that they notice.

They're heading to Forks today, because Jacob's in the mood for juicy beef burger deals, and Leah's not about to not indulge him.

So it's much later, after they've stuffed themselves with all the beef Forks can… fork out (YES SHE IS THE PUN MASTER) and Jacob's insisted she blot her face (after thoroughly blotting his own) because Jacob's weirdly conscious about things like that, that they stumble upon Bella.

And Edward.

Leah and Jacob have their heads huddled together as they avidly discuss the latest episode of Teen Wolf (well, she avidly discusses, Jacob is just mocking her every attempt to make him take it seriously), when Jacob's head suddenly snaps upwards and Leah hears a faint, "Leah! Jacob!" to her left.

She spins around to face Bella, face lightly flushed from catching up to them, and grins. "Heeyyyyy Bella."

Bella comes to a halt in front of them, dragging some pale-as-fuck guy along with him. "Hi! What're you guys doing here in Forks? I was just at the library with Edward here." At this, Bella tugs "Edward" forward, sticking a hand out for him. Edward just looks really pained. Also, can we talk about that hair.

"Whaddup Edward." Leah gives his outstretched hand a little twiddle at the palm with the tips of her finger, grin widening at his bewildered expression. "I'm Leah, and this here's my homey Jacob Black."

"Pleasure to meet the both of you." Hmm, Leah's sure there's an entendre here somewhere.

"It is, isn't it," she affirms. "We're here for the beef burgers. Yes, yes, all the beef burgers." She gives her protruding tummy a little pat. Jacob is silent and incredibly tense next to her, but by now, Leah's learnt to ignore it. It gets repetitive after the first thirty times or so.

"Hey, Bella. Have you watched the latest episode of Teen Wolf?"

"Oh my god, YES."

On queue, Bella launches into a tirade about Derek and his love-hate relationship with the character's asshole tendencies, and Leah laughs. She can see Jacob and Edward talking to each other quietly some distance away out of the corner of her eye, probably manning it out. Leah turns back to Bella. During Jacob's disappearance, Bella had been one of the people she'd rang up in desperation, trying to explain the fucked up situation to someone. She didn't have many friends, though. Actually, bar Jacob, she had a grand total of no friends. And Bella was, well, sort of…? So yes. They'd talked on the phone for a bit, Bella volunteering to march up to Billy Black's door and demand that they see Jacob. But well, Bella wasn't a particularly massive kind of guy, and they'd been easily shoved out of the Black household.

Either way, the two of them had begun a tentative friendship after that. Leah reckoned she'd been the first person Bella had confessed to when he entered his very first not-so-heterosexual relationship.

"Is it him?"


Leah nodded towards the pair of guys. "Edward. You know, is it him." She also gave a little eyebrow waggle. Bella choked a little and flushed red.

"…Y-yeah. It is. I mean, he is. He's- he's my- he's my boyfriend," Bella stuttered, whispering out the last bit. He covered his pink cheeks with his bony fingers, peeking out from between the tips to glance at Edward. Leah smirked.

"You sly dog." Leah burst into laughter, sniggering when Bella turned to her, admonished, and slapped her shoulder in retaliation. "It's gettin' hot in here, so hot, so take off all your clothes…" She may or may not be grinding her hips right now.

"Leah! Oh my god." Bella tried to shove her, but Leah just pranced away laughing, jumping onto Jacob's back.

"Oomph-! Leah!"

"Ride, Jacob, ride! My valiant steed!" She rapped his shoulders and bounced a little, causing them to jerk forward. But he didn't start running, so Bella caught up and tackled Leah (and thus, Jacob), the three of them landing in a pile of limbs across the sidewalk. Leah snorted out laughter at Jacob's indignant face, crying out when Bella noggied her.

"Cease this evil at once!" cried Leah, trying to ruffle Bella's silky hair in revenge.

"Leah!" She'd managed to.

"Bella," came a smooth, deep voice by their side. Oh yeah, Edward was still here. Bella pouted.

"But Edward! Leah- She was-"

"She's a lady, and no roughhousing with the ladies," Edward countered, although the sentence was dripping thickly with fond affection for the long-haired man. Edward extended a hand towards Leah.

"That's right! I'm a lady." And she grabbed it, pulling herself up and brushing off her ass in front of Bella's face, smirking at his grossed out protests. Turning to look at the pouting Bella, Leah cooed, "Aw, Bella, you know I love you long time."

She grabbed Bella and Jacob's hand, hurling them upwards with a strength she didn't think she'd possess. "There we go."

Leah stepped towards the disgruntled Bella and made a kissy face, pulling him into a hug. In her embrace, Leah could feel Bella relax and reciprocate the hug, burying his face into her shoulder. "You really like him don't you?" she whispered.

"Yeah." Bella's voice was muffled in the crook of her neck. Leah smiled warmly and breathed in- only to pull away and start coughing.

"Aghck- Bella! You smell funny!" she sputtered. The atmosphere seemed to immediately thicken.

"Ha, ha, ha. Leah… what're you talking about?" Bella weakly asked.

"I dunno, you smell a little funky. Like kinda too sweet, but sorta like… detergent? No, bleach! Why do you smell like that? Is Charlie doing the laundry again?"

Bella's eyes were wide, but he snapped out of his reverie and quickly nodded. "Yeah, you know how he gets sometimes. He's really bad at these things."

It's a little awkward after that.

Maybe, if Leah had been paying more attention, she would have seen it coming.

Maybe, if Leah hadn't been fooling around with Bella, she'd have noticed the tense atmosphere when Jacob was talking with Edward.

Maybe, if Leah hadn't been high off the laughter from playing around with Leah, she'd have realised how cold Edward's hands were.

Maybe, if Leah hadn't dismissed the Quileute legends as nothing but foolish myths, she'd have been more wary of Edward in general.

Maybe, if Leah hadn't been making the connection with Bella and Edward being boyfriends, she would have been making the connection that this Edward was Edward Cullen.

Leah could have or could have not done a lot of things, but either way, Leah knew that never in a million years would she have suspected shifting. Into a fucking wolf.

Because that's how we roll in La Push.

Author's Note and Thought Processes:

Haha. Well. Hello there. I see it's been about two years now. I mean, huge LOL, am I right?

I mean, I'm pretty sure you don't care for my excuses, but in the unlikely situation that you do… First off, I've just finished my last year in polytechnic. So I've been studying and stuff, say whut. Secondly, and this is the main reason, I've started a new story. I'M SORRY OKAY. (The preview will be at the end.)

Anyways, back to the story at hand.

Now, this chapter was relatively hard to write. Mainly because it explores Leah's maturity as a person as she realises Jacob's depression and tries to solve it. It also gives the reader a look into Leah's reaction to having realised she fell in love with Jacob. The chapter compiled many milestones of Leah's progress – her forgiveness towards Sam Uley, her attempts to reconcile with the Jacob's new attitude, and most importantly, the scene in which sparks off her transformation into a wolf.

Most of you will realise that the chapter starts off with Leah's typical melodramatic head-speak, as witnessed in the very first chapter of this story. At this point, she's very angry with Jacob and filled with thoughts of possessing Jacob both in mind and body. This is very unhealthy, and it shows through her wording. However, as the chapter develops, the reader will observe that Leah starts using contracted word forms and how her narrative becomes increasingly informal, with jokes inserted to accompany her words. This is because Leah has started to come to full circle with accepting herself as a person. As she finds peace in her looks, she also feels less a need to separate herself within the recess of her mind. That is, she is no longer the casual third person and she actively takes part in controlling her thoughts and actions.

This also gives the reader insight as to why Jacob is so in love with her. In the second chapter, we saw Jacob harp on about how cool Leah is, and how awesome Jacob thinks she is. However, with Jacob's transformation looming, he gets sidetracked with his love-filled exclamations and we don't really get a chance to see for ourselves how Leah has affected Jacob. This third chapter provides the reader a little more understanding of Leah's obsessive love with the young teen.

Bella, as seen the in the very last portion of this story, is the catalyst for Leah's transformation. I figured that if females shifting were an anomaly, then Leah would need to come into full contact with a vampire before shifting, rather than just by an indirect medium of scent, like how Jacob was. This, in a sense, was the sole reason for Bella's introduction into the story. That being said, Bella's character still has quite some loose ends to tie within the story. (Also, I might be partial to writing a one-shot about his complicated relationship with Edward, because while feminine, Bella is still very much a straight man.)

I'd like to thank Carmen Hyne, for kicking my ass into gear.

Also, here's the preview for my upcoming story about a hipster!Jacob who falls in love with the popular, athletic Leah, and his attempts in wooing her (unknowingly aided by Leah's best friend and number one Blackwater shipper, Sam Uley):

It was then, at precisely six minutes before the start of class, that he turned to face the hallways; textbooks propped up under one arm. And there she was – Leah Clearwater – the keeper of his heart, the guardian of his soul, the mother of his future children (he planned to have four). Jacob nudged his glasses up his nose, shy, as he watched the most beautiful girl in existence walk right past him, Sam throwing an arm casually over her shoulders. Jacob's heart wrenched in both tender affection and simultaneous pain, for she knew not of his very existence, no, he was just another student by the hallway wallowing in her sheer awesomeness.

And not to forget Sam Uley, Leah's handsome, strapping, young lad of a boyfriend, if the casually slung arm was any indication (along with the little shared smiles and secret laughter that were all too apparent to the school's populace). Jacob paled terribly in comparison; couldn't even hold a candle to Sam – not when Sam was the school's champion lacrosse captain, tall and armed with Adonis-reminiscent muscles, a charming smile capable of swooning the "straight" off of his fellow men, and just about every other high school cliché. Jacob wasn't sulking right now. Nope, siree.

Well, he had promised himself to stay strong (especially in the face of such handsome diversity!). After all, had he not waited a whole year before even considering tackling Leah? Yes, yes he did, in case you didn't know – had weighed his chances and decided that never speaking to Leah his entire time at high school would only be the greatest of shames. So with a shuddering sigh, he straightened his back and skedaddled off to class, cursing his youth (thus, being an entire year younger than dear, sweet Leah).

Leah watched Jacob prance off to his first class of the day, an amused grin threatening to overwhelm her features. Fucking adorable as always. Especially the suspenders; she couldn't decide if they were lame for being hipster-like, or cute cause it was Jacob who was wearing them. Oh, she knew who he was, alright. Who didn't? Jacob Black – the only Quileute guy in school who didn't look pumped up on steroids. He was a fucking scrawny little thing (for Quileute standards, anyway) – shorter than most and only averagely muscled. You could never escape those, if her own undeserving fitness and unfairly toned stomach were any indication. By all means, she should be sporting a paunch from all the tacos she practically deep-throated.

She turned to Sam and beamed at him, "Did you see what Jacob was wearing today? Did you? Sam, he looks so cute. Agh-" She made little grabby hands Jacob's way, "nyeeeh"-ing, looking like a T-rex. A sexual T-rex.

Sam rolled his eyes and slouched forward, head lolling stupidly to the side. Though, judging by the faint sighs by her not-Sam side, she figured he looked anything but stupid to her schoolmates (she wasn't throwing around any pronouns here, just saying). "Leah. You know you could just… per say, talk to him or something. You tell me he looks cute every day. Every day, Leah. Ain't nobody wanna know that much about Black's booteh."