Happy 15th December everyone. I hope you're enjoying all the advent stories so far, especially as now there's only ten left to go. So I hope you like this one anyway, it was quite fun to write and it is actually relatively happy for once.
Have I mentioned that I adore idealskeptic? Isn't she brilliant? And once again, I must say that I don't own Twilight.
"Do you not think it's freaky?" Leah asked, her gaze travelling across the half-empty bar.
Forks wasn't exactly a happening place, but this was a bit pathetic for a Friday night. Then again, she had started drinking early. The situation seemed to call for it.
A snort of agreement came from her unlikely companion for the evening. Paul downed his own drink before signalling to the waitress to bring him another.
"Freaky – that's one way of describing it, I guess."
He smiled at the approaching server, running his eyes up and down her body in a blatant fashion. Leah rolled her eyes.
She hadn't intended to be sitting in a dark and dingy bar, drinking with Paul, of all people, but she had run into him after another fun-filled day watching Jake moon over his demon-child imprint and her brother carry on his disturbing bromance with the mind-raping leech. She had to get away from that goddamn house before she broke something... or someone. Heading back to Forks, she had run into Paul outside the general store. He had taken one glance at her face and announced that she looked like she could use a drink.
She had subsequently been towed into the only dive open at this early hour and thus found herself matching Paul drink for drink.
"Here you go, honey. Would you like anything else?"
The waitress batted her eyelashes at Paul and he smiled up at her. "No thanks, darling."
He winked at her and she giggled inanely.
"I'll have another whiskey on the rocks," Leah announced loudly, reminding the two of them that she was there.
The waitress flinched at her sharp tone, but Paul merely grinned.
The other woman scurried off quickly and Paul raised his eyebrows at Leah. "I love it when you get all territorial. It's hot."
She glared at him. "Don't get too excited, lover-boy. I just wanted a drink."
"Sure sure," he replied, and then winced as he realised what he had just said.
"Looks like I'm not the only one being forced to spend too much time around Jake," she said, smug satisfaction evident in her tone.
Paul grimaced. "Sam's on a peace and harmony kick with the packs at the moment, and the baby wolves are driving me mad. You think sharing your mind with your brother and your ex is bad; try doing with a bunch of ten-year-olds. It's like Quil multiplied by fourteen."
She gave a mock sigh of relief. "Looks like I jumped ship to the right pack, after all then."
He took a long pull of his drink before he answered her. "Yeah, well I might have to join you before long. Trying to put a lid on my thoughts so they're PG-rated gets a little difficult after a while. Still, I guess it's better than having to listen to Jacob think about how much he loves his little freak."
"Amen to that." She held up her glass and he clinked his bottle against it.
She drank the last dregs of her whiskey and was gratified when the waitress from before immediately sidled up to their table and replaced it. Trying not to appear like a total bitch to the other woman, she offered her a smile of thanks and was pleased when it was returned before the waitress left to deal with a table of elderly men.
Leah carried on her train of thought from earlier. "I mean, how is that even going to work when she's older? 'Cos at some point she's going to realise that if her dad hadn't come back to Forks, her future-boyfriend would have ended up as her daddy. It's sick."
Paul hummed in agreement and took another swig from his bottle.
"What I want to know," he said, "is if he fucks her when she's older, is he going to be fully, you know, into it, or is he going to be imagining that he's doing her mom."
"Urgh." Leah shuddered. "That's just nasty."
"I mean, I've done cousins before, although not at the same time obviously," Paul continued. "And when they found out about each other, they just tore each other's hair out in the middle of the road."
Leah raised her eyebrows, unimpressed. "Was that the Huautahs?"
He nodded and she wrinkled her nose up. "I wasn't around for that, but my Dad told me about it later. He said it was some of the funniest shit he had seen for a long time."
"I just think it's horrible. I mean, who does that to their own cousin over a guy?"
Paul looked at her incredulously. "Are you having temporary memory loss there, Lee? Or doesn't that ring any bells?"
She flushed, but stood her ground.
"I never attacked Emily in the street. And it wasn't like Sam was some kind of one night stand for me either. He was my fiancé. Besides, Em didn't have to accept the imprint, no matter what fairytale bullshit she spits out."
Paul shrugged, but nodded to concede the point.
"Still," he ventured. "You can't tell me you never wanted to tear her hair out?"
She ran her tongue over her teeth. "The thought may have crossed my mind...like a couple of times. Or a hundred."
He threw back his head and laughed.
"But I only thought about it, so it doesn't count. And she's my second cousin, not my cousin."
Paul tilted his head to one side, still chuckling, and shrugged. "Whatever you say, Lee-Lee."
She scowled at his use of her old nickname.
"Don't call me that."
She took a large gulp of whiskey.
Paul eyed her carefully for a moment before nodding. "Okay. I won't."
She blinked at him, surprised that he had agreed to her demand so easily. It wasn't like she was asking much from him, but she was so used to everyone ignoring her when she said it that she hadn't expected him to capitulate so easily... or at all.
"Thanks." She didn't know what else to say.
Silence fell over them for a moment before Paul opened his mouth again, steering the conversation back away from the dangerous topic of Emily and Sam.
"I've never done a mother and daughter though," he said thoughtfully. "I just kind of think that's a whole lot of trouble that I wouldn't get into. But Jake..."
He shook his head and blew out a breath.
"Put it this way, I don't envy him. Or her, for that matter."
"Nessie?" Leah asked.
"Yeah." Paul nodded. "I mean, how would you feel if the person claiming to be your soul mate suddenly turned around and told you that they used to be in love with your mom? You'd feel second best. Plus now the leech lover has got to sit there for the next eight years or whatever and watch her old boyfriend seduce her daughter. And the one she married, the mind-reading bloodsucker – he gets to see Jake mentally undressing his daughter just like he used to dream about screwing his wife." He pulled a face. "That's one fucked up family."
Leah hummed in agreement. "True. I have to say though, after being forced to spend time around them, that I don't think half of them were ever that sane to begin with."
He snorted. "Crazy leeches. Great."
They drank in silence for a while.
The TV in the corner of the bar suddenly blared on, and Leah struggled not to jump at the unexpected blast of noise. Paul smirked at her reaction, but she had seen his minute flinch too. It seemed like she wasn't the only one too caught up in her thoughts to notice what was going on around her.
Leah finally broached a subject she had been wondering about.
"So, talking about imprints..."
Paul's glare told her he knew exactly where she was going with this.
She continued anyway. "What happened with you and Rachel? I mean, one minute you were all over each other and the next minute she was crawling back to Seattle with her tail between her legs."
Raising his beer, he tilted his head back and drained the bottle.
"It wasn't like that."
A hot rush of guilt swept over her. "You don't have to answer me, you know. I'm just being nosy."
He shrugged. "We came to an arrangement."
He began to reply but then stopped as the same waitress from before appeared at the side of their table and replaced the empty bottle with a full one without asking. She paused, clearly expecting acknowledgement, but Paul merely offered her a distracted smile.
Leah watched her go, but turned back to Paul when he started speaking. He had already started on his new drink.
"Rach never wanted to come back here. You know that, probably better than most."
Leah nodded. She and the twins had been close at one point, but unlike her, both of them had left as soon as they could after graduation. That had always been their plan – to get out of La Push and away from their mother's memory.
"Anyway," Paul continued. "The imprint fucked that up for her. She was only planning to visit her dad and Jake for the summer, not to stay here for the rest of time, or until we're finally allowed to quit and leave."
It was what all of them dreamed of really.
Not necessarily moving away from La Push, but the freedom that came from knowing they could leave if they actually wanted to, rather than being forced to stay.
"So we tried to make it work, but it was just... fucked up. You know me, Lee, I don't do relationships, and she wasn't really that thrilled at being tied for life with me. We just... wanted different things." He ran an impatient hand through his hair. "Fuck! I sound like a girl. Whining about my feelings."
Leah took a sip of her drink and then twisted the glass around in her hands, letting him decide whether he wanted to carry on talking or not.
The alcohol had loosened his tongue though, relaxing him enough to tell her all about it.
"So because the wolf has to be whatever the imprint decides, she decided that what she really wanted was to go back to her fancy internship in Seattle and to leave me behind."
Leah couldn't stop her mouth dropping open. "Is that even possible? I mean, can you stay away that far away from each other?"
He wrinkled his nose, his fingers peeling the label off the bottle. "It was tough at first. My wolf kept going crazy and trying to run across the state to get her back every time I phased, but then it just stopped."
"Stopped?" That sounded horribly fatalistic.
"Yeah." A small smile curved across his mouth. "I guess she finally decided that what she really wanted was not to have an imprint."
Leah stared at him.
At first he shifted uncomfortably under her bewildered gaze, but eventually he laughed at her.
"Shit, Leah! Did all your brain cells suddenly blow at once?"
She blinked. She opened her mouth, and then shut it again. Another blink.
Paul leaned back, completely unconcerned. He looked like he was enjoying her complete and utter confusion.
"She decided to break the imprint?" she finally asked.
Was that even possible? Before now she would've said no, but if Paul and Rachel could do it, then she guessed that anyone could.
Her mind inevitably turned to Sam and Emily and what would happen if their imprint broke like Paul's had. She was half-relieved and half-disappointed to find that it really wouldn't change much at all for her. That ship had sailed a long time ago.
He took another swig before answering her. "I guess. We've never talked about it exactly like that and I've no clue what my wolf's going to be like the next time I see her, but for now, she has her life in the city and I have my life here."
He smirked and tossed her a dirty grin.
"But the blindness is gone if that's a sign."
Leah didn't understand. "The blindness? What blindness?"
His eyes flicked deliberately to the waitress circulating the room. Leah followed his gaze.
He nodded sharply. "Before, when I was with Rachel. I couldn't see other women," he explained. "Like, they were there, but I couldn't feel anything for them. But now..." He grinned. "It took about a week, but everything's back in working order."
He leered at her.
Scrunching up a napkin, Leah threw it at him, but he easily batted it away.
"I don't want to hear about that," she complained.
"No?" He stuck his tongue between his teeth and waggled his eyebrows.
Leah scowled at him, but couldn't help bursting into giggles seconds later. She laughed until tears came to her eyes and it wasn't really funny anymore.
"Well shit," she finally said once she had managed to compose herself again. "So that's really it?"
Paul shrugged. "I guess so, although like I said, I won't know for sure until I see her again."
Leah finished her drink and pushed it to one side. Propping her elbow on the table, she rested her head on her hand.
Her eyes wandered over Paul's frame idly.
"Imprinting sucks," she announced.
He raised an eyebrow. "Not going to disagree with you there."
"I mean, how many times does it actually get it right?" she asked. "You and Rachel, Jake and Nessie, even Quil and Claire... None of those seem right."
"The gods have strange ways," he intoned mystically.
Leah stuck her tongue out at him.
He finished his drink and then quickly shifted around the table so that he was sitting next to her.
"The gods may have got a few things wrong," he admitted. "But just think, if I was still tied to Rachel, then I wouldn't be able to do this..."
He swooped down and kiss her, the move too quick and too unexpected for her to avoid it.
She squawked at him and batted him away. "Paul!"
He was downright cackling at her, his loud, braying laugh catching the attention of everyone at the bar.
Leah ducked her head and shoved him in the chest. "What the fuck? You do that again and I'll..."
"You'll what?" he challenged with a snicker, throwing his arm around her shoulders.
She shook her head indulgently.
Really, she should be pummelling his face into the dirt, but despite the heavy subject, she was having a good time, and that was thanks to him.
"Just move back to your side of the table, Lahote."
His smile became softer and this time when he kissed her it was a fond press of his lips against her temple.
"Your wish is my command," he announced grandly.
Leah rolled her eyes at him and he shuffled back over to sit opposite her once more.
"So," he began, "seeing as we're BFFs now and you've even kissed me, how about another drink?"
She threw caution to the wind.
"Well, maybe just one more."