Pairing/Character(s): Leah/Jake, Bella/Edward (background)
Word Count: ~4,500
Warnings/Spoilers: Language; mentions of self-harm and suicide.
Disclaimer: All characters, situations, quotes et al are properties of their respective owners and I am merely using them under Title 17 of the US Code, § 107, aka the Fair Use Doctrine, without intents to infringe upon or defame anyone's legal rights. It wouldn't be worth the cost to sue me anyway.
Summery: Leah's not happy with her life, and Jacob's been drafted into helping her. Post-BD, no Ness imprint, lite Blackwater
A Blackwater Story
"As the telling signs of age rain down a single tear is dropping through the valleys of an ageing face
that this world has forgotten, there is no reconciliation that will put me in my place and there is
no time like the present to drink these draining seconds, but seldom do these words ring true when
I'm constantly failing you like walls that we just can't break through until we disappear."
"Fancy seeing you here."
"Give it up, Jake. I'm not in the mood." She lifted the bottle to her mouth again and pressed the cool, comforting glass to her cracked lips before tilting her head back. The sour and slightly salty taste of limes hit her and she luxuriated in the taste for a moment before lowering the bottle and swallowing. Only breathing out afterwards could she taste the alcohol on her breath, and, with her metabolism, it was the fact that she was doing something she still didn't feel old enough to do, not the intoxicant itself, making her giddy. She was twenty-two: a perfectly legal age to drink in all parts of the world. She'd never made use of that fact until recently, when her whole life went FUBAR and it was good to go numb for a while – or try to, at least – and not have to think...
God, she hated thinking sometimes.
What a fucked up piece of shit this was. What a fucking piece of week-old horse shit – and from an aged, diarrhoea-suffering, rabies-infected, and worm-ridden horse at that – her life had become. To think that it had all been different... what was it, even four years ago? Four years was such a long time. Such a long, long time... High school took that long. So did college. Presidential terms of office were four years... but she couldn't even remember who was president now, or if she had voted way back when for him, or if she'd voted at all.
God, she hated this. And to think that she'd become one of those unfortunates whose fondest memories would be of high school. High school! God, what was the quote? Oh, yes: there's no guarantee of failure in life like happiness in high school. From M. Butterfly, an absolutely disturbing play she'd read while taking classes at Mount Rainer Tech her senior year of high school. No one who knew quotes like that should have high school be their permanent high-point in life. It just shouldn't happen. She deserved better than that. Straight-A students who did track and volleyball and dated the captain of the basketball and baseball teams and got a 1280 on the SATs before they changed them – and a 2120 after – should be guaranteed success in life. That was written somewhere, wasn't it? It was what all the movies said; all the TV dramas too. Granted, she could be rude at times, and her temper had a fuse about the size of, oh, Wild E. Coyote after he realized the roadrunner had switched whatever he was holding with the dynamite in those old cartoons; and she'd a tendency for psychical violence that she was still surprised hadn't ended her in detention or worse, but still. She'd never drank under-age, never smoked or did drugs, never killed anyone or even roughed them up too badly. That had to count for something.
So why the hell hadn't it? Why couldn't the universe just let her go to U-Dub on her scholarship like she wanted, so she could move off the Rez like she wanted and maybe do something with her life.
She supposed this was doing something with her life, protecting the Rez from vampires. It was probably a destiny and all that shit too, and she should probably be grateful the universe had noticed her at all and gave her something useful to do when it was probably busy with a whole bunch of other people and aliens and junk, but she still found herself rather wishing that the universe could have at least given her a destiny that didn't involve this piss-hole Rez and being linked with the minds of her ex, her brother, and their immature baby-loving friends.
She doesn't know what exactly it is she feels she's missing, being a werewolf. There's the whole baby thing, but she never really saw herself as having kids anyway. They kinda creep her out, what with their constant questions and their questionable use of outside-voices in not-so-outside places and the way they invade complete stranger's personal spaces when they're in line at the movies and their parents don't stop them and she's forced to deal with this waist-high talkative wisp of a thing inside her personal bubble without resorting to violence. The idea of ever having a relationship with a guy progress far enough to get to the baby-making stage kinda creeps her out too. The idea of anyone being that close to her and putting bits of themselves inside her bothers her in ways she's not quite sure she could explain, though there are times she finds herself appreciating the views her packmates unwittingly provide. She finds the idea of love and a relationship and sex intriguing, the sort of thing she'd guiltily admit to enjoying if caught thinking about them, but can't see any of it happening to her. She knows she doesn't let people – guys particularly – close enough to her for relationships to form. Never has. People always let her down.
She raises the margarita and takes a large sip, finishing out the bottle and enjoying the sour and salty interplay on her tongue. She tells herself to stop missing things she never wanted in the first place and leans forward. Her bare feet are dangling over the edge of the roof and, between them, she can still make out the paved walkway that leads to the front door three stories below. She takes aim for a moment, the cold glass brushing against the arch of her foot, making her shutter deliciously in a way she's just drunk enough not to care if he sees, before dropping the bottle. She smiles as she hears it shatter, then lies back until her head brushes against the roofing, the rough tiles scraping the skin left unprotected by her tank, and raises a hand above her head. Her fingers search for a moment, but quickly they find the tub of ice she's placed there, on a flat bit of the roof, and the prize inside. Claiming it, she sits up again and twists off the cap. She drops this too to the ground.
"How many of those have you had?"
"Not enough." She takes another sip. Lime. She loves lime now. It is the only highlight to this misery she calls life. "There are plenty more if you want one. Kinda girly, I know, but it was the only thing in Emily's fridge other than that swill Sam drinks. I think she must be having her wedding shower this weekend or something, 'cause its fruity, even for her." She complains just to complain; she has no real fault with the beverage. It is sour and tasty and even the lightest bit sweet and she loves it at the moment. It helps to make things better, even if only in her imagination. It's all she has at the moment.
She could've had a degree by now – she doesn't know in what. She hadn't decided on a major before that life was taken from her. She never even got to sign-up for classes. She could try for college again, now that the Volturi had been and gone. She could probably guilt the Cullens into paying for it too. She could get a degree and forget about all this werewolf stuff and move on with her life-
But she doesn't like that idea. That part of her life is over. She knows she's not be happy sitting in a classroom any more, though there was once a time when she could've seen herself getting a graduate degree and, she doesn't know really, maybe dating her professor and being in that collegiate sort of setting her whole life. She liked that Introduction to Plays class she took while still in high school – the one where they read M. Butterfly and Mourning Becomes Electra and Angels in America and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Maybe she might've become a whatever one calls a play-reading major. Maybe that was the life she missed.
Whatever wonderful life she might've had, it's over now, thanks to monsters and magic and destiny and a whole bunch of things she couldn't fight, if only because there was nothing for her to punch. It was her own fault, really. She should've moved to Seattle while she had the chance, at the beginning of the summer, rather than hang around the Rez trying to save money until the semester started. She'd never have become a werewolf if she hadn't stayed. She could even have graduated a semester early – hell, even two – but she didn't, and so...
"How many'll be enough?"
She's doesn't care any more what people think. She stopped caring, officially, three weeks ago, when she realized that the people graduating this year from the high school hadn't even been freshmen when she did. Graduated, that was. And all that she'd gotten in the four fucking years of nothing was some heartbreak and a couple of scars. Caring only caused more pain. She couldn't take the pain any more – no, that was wrong. It didn't hurt. All of these these things which should have hurt didn't. Couldn't. There wasn't any more room for hurt in her. She was uncomfortably numb. She just wanted to feel something. Drinking was probably the wrong way to go about that, but the glass was cold and the liquid was sweet and salty and tangy and it was better than nothing. There were only so many hours she could spend sitting in the dark, watching various Star Trek reruns – and, at least, she retained enough self-respect not to have her drinking binge on her mother's sofa while watching said Star Trek reruns.
"I'll let you know when I find that out."
"But the day pressed on like crushing weights; for no man does it ever wait.
Like memories of dying days that deafen us like hurricanes.
Bathed in flames, we held the brand; uncurled the fingers in your hand.
Pressed into the flesh like sand. Now do you understand?"
The leech had called because he was worried. About Leah.
Jake didn't know which fact scared him more: that the leech actually cared, or that Leah might actually have something worth worrying about going on with her.
She's just always seemed so... solid, Leah. Unphasable. Unbreakable. The kinda person who rolled with the punches and then dealt a fair amount of her own. But now Jasper called him up at home, on the one night this month when he'd not had to be out patrolling or working at the mechanic's in Forks, trying to protect the town and contribute to the food bill respectively, when he'd been looking forward to watching TiVo-ed Star Trek episodes while Billy was out at Charlie's. Billy didn't understand that Star Trek – in any of its five (well, six, if you counted the movie) incarnations – wasn't meant to be taken literally. But it was certainly better escapism than celebrity rags or soap operas. Mom had understood. Mom had been the one to hook him on Star Trek when he was little, before that stupid wreak had taken her away. Picard was probably imprinted on his conscious somehow – and, no, not that way – as the ideal starship captain / leader / Alpha. With a few modifications, of course. Well, a lot actually. In fact, Sisko was probably the better operational model, but still. Picard was cool.
But still. He'd been looking forward to a week's worth of Star Trek – five Next Generations, ten Enterprises, and a Voyager – when he'd gotten the call. And if Jasper was concerned about Leah, who was sitting on the roof of the manor drinking margaritas in the dead of night, he would have to deal with it. Because he was Alpha.
Still, Leah was the last person he thought might ever have problems. She always seemed so cool – so unflappably, unabashedly, impossibly cool – with everything that life had thrown her way that he thought she'd come to accept it and move on. Yes, she'd been angry at first, but they were all angry at first. It'd been over a year since the Volturi incident. She'd stopped complaining about the Cullens, about being a werewolf, about any of it. Jake had thought that meant she was starting to become, if not happy, at least content with her situation.
Sitting on the roof beside her now, seeing the look in her deep, chocolate-brown eyes (which had once always flashed with anger, or vindictive joy, or any of a number of powerful emotions so that this fact had seemed to define her, but looked no more lively than a doll's), Jake could see now that the cool he'd so come to envy in her wasn't from happiness or contentment or even medication, but that kind of rare sort of charm that can only be found on people who don't care any more whether they live or die, or if the sun will shine tomorrow, or if there'll be a tomorrow at all. The charm of the defeated.
He wonders how he could've missed this. He does, after all, share a telepathic link with her. So do three other people. He thinks he should've recognized that this was happening, that she'd just given up.
He thinks there's a lot about his Beta he doesn't know any more.
"It's not like I can get drunk anyway, Jake. So don't worry your head off. Alcohol has the tendency to come in servings a human body can process in an hour. The leeches say our metabolism is at least three times normal, and I can barely nurse two of these an hour. I'm not even getting slightly buzzed for all my troubles. So why don't you just fuck off and let me sit here in peace?"
He looked at her strangely. She caught this as she considered the bottle she now held; she seemed to find some sort of joy in the colour, in even holding the bottle. It bothered Jake more than the fact she was drinking it on the leeches' roof.
"I know a lot of strange things."
"We should get you on Jeopardy."
"I should've done a great many things."
This last was said in softly, weakly, in a way he might expect a broken woman to talk. Even with this... this giving up she seems to have decided upon, the hint of fragility surprises him, frightens him. Leah Clearwater is not fragile. Leah Clearwater doesn't break – but, then again, Leah Clearwater wasn't supposed to give up either. He doesn't think she's even realized she's said anything at all.
She takes another drink and seems to cherish the moment. That look he can understand.
"What's wrong, Leah?"
"What isn't?" she snaps.
"It doesn't matter what you think. Now fuck off. No one asked for you come up here anyway."
"Well, he can fuck off too."
"It's his roof."
"Just leave me the fuck alone Jake." Another sip. Larger. He gets it now. She can control the margaritas. She can't control anything else in her life, but this, this she can control. It doesn't matter that she's not getting drunk. It's the control she wants.
He can get that. That's why there are two packs now, after all. He couldn't take Sam's control any more... but Leah doesn't have the advantage of an Alpha bloodline if she wants to break away. Does she want to break away? He doesn't give orders, especially not like Sam used to. He lets his pack do their own thing, only asks them to patrol. He doesn't even make them deal with the Cullens if they don't want to. Embry certainly doesn't.
"Jasper's worried about you."
"Well whoop-de-do for Jasper."
"I'm worried about you."
"Don't be. I'm fine."
"You don't look fine."
"Just 'cause you don't see it doesn't mean it's not there."
He doesn't. She finishes her drink – which, he notes, does truly take the better part of an hour, which he could've spent at home, watching Star Trek, or some other re-run, but they're all re-runs really and it's not like he doesn't care about Leah, he really does, he just doesn't know how to help her, or what got broken in the first place, or if she'd let him near at all. He doesn't like this powerlessness, and can see why she might have latched on to anything she could control if what's she's feeling is anything like what's welling in him now – and drops it onto the ground below.
She leans back for another-
-He catches her hand.
She bolts upright and shoots a glare at him – deep, angry, and alive. Certainly an improvement over a moment before, even if it verges on the murderous. "I told you to piss off, Black."
"I heard you."
She tries to yank her arm away, but he's the stronger, and her wrist is securely caught with a single hand. "It's my life, Jake. If I want to drink it away, it's my right."
"You going to pull some Alpha crap on me now?" she yanks, harder. He almost slips. But only almost.
"Then let me the hell go, mother-fucker."
"When you tell me what's going on."
"What's going wrong? You're manhandling me and you're asking me what's wrong?"
"Keeping you from doing something stupid is hardly manhandling."
She suddenly drops the anger act – so quickly that he wonders if it was just an act – and, tiredly, says, "Look, it's been a long day. Just let me go."
"You wanna talk about it?"
The anger rises again. Her hand jerks in his grasp, but she seems to have forgotten it's there, the movement coming from an over-zealous gesture less than an escape attempt. "You want to know what's wrong? Everything. Every fucking thing. I've got no job, no skills, no life. I'm twenty-two fucking years old. I should be out of college, have a job, be starting a fucking family – anything – but, no, I'm living at home, playing protector for a Rez that, to be honest, doesn't need any protection from the Veggies downstairs, and, for lack of anything better to do, I've been watching re-runs of Star Trek and Law and Order and I'm about to go out of my mind but you know what it's like, no one's hiring, and, like I said, it's not like I've any skills other than the ability to turn into a giant fleabag which, strangely enough, doesn't look so good on a resume, and everything is just fucking crazy and all I want is to have my life back – the one I should've had, before all this started happening, only that probably would've sucked just as much, and it's not like I have a plan or even an idea what I want, only that I want something other than this emptiness and even Mom's been saying I look like I'm lost and it's like, no, I'm not lost, I just have fucking no where to go and hate where I am besides, and, I dunno, all I want is to feel something, and I'm almost to the point of trying to kill myself, just because that'd be different, the end of it all, only I can't really convince myself that it's worth it and I can't even bring up the hate to want to kill myself besides, it's only like this idea that I have and its no better than any of the rest, where I get a job and just suffer through it, only right now suffering would be damn nice because I feel so God-damn numb that it's like...
"Hell," she says, leaning back against the roof and turning away from me. He thinks she's hiding tears, and lets go of her arm. She doesn't seem to notice. "Is it so much to want your life to matter? I'm never going to do anything special with my life. Not going to be special in anyone else's either. Not even going to be able to pass down my DNA, so I don't even have that. There's really not much point in staying. But there's not much point in going either. So I think I'll just hang out here and drink, 'til the drinks run out. I'll figure out what to do after that... after."
"You could-" he tries.
She cuts him off. "I'm sure I could. But I'm tired of the pipe dreams, Jake. That's all they are. I just need to find myself a job and settle down into it. Resign myself to the fact that I'll never be happy, and it's stupid to expect otherwise."
"I want you to be happy." And it's true. Leah is, for better or worse, someone he calls his friend. He wants her to be happy – wants all his friends to be happy, but Leah especially. She's been hurt enough in this life. She deserves some happiness.
"Whoop-de-do for you."
"Could I help?"
"You know anyone willing to hire a college drop-out with questionable real-world skills?"
Trying to help, "You're not a drop-out."
Bitterly, "Only 'cause I never got the chance."
But bitterness, he supposes, is better than nothing. "You're a good person, Leah."
A bitter laugh.
"No, really. You shouldn't be so hard on yourself."
"I'm being," (a long-suffering tone), "realistic."
"'Realistic' is wanting to kill yourself?"
"I'm not desperate enough yet. Not quite, anyway."
"And just how desperate are you?"
"Not desperate enough to fuck you, if that's what you're getting at."
Sometimes he wonders where she gets these ideas. "Wasn't asking."
"Sounded like you were."
She sounded a little like her old self, at least. He couldn't resist baiting her some more, to see if he could get her to, oh, he didn't know, at least look at him, or storm off the roof in an angry huff. "And if I had?"
"I really would've off-ed myself."
"You've bruised my fragile ego."
"Better than your head – which I would have done if you so much had tried-"
"Methinks you protest too much."
"Yeah. Kinda do." At her aghast expression as she spun around, "What? I've seen you naked. And I'm a teenage boy. What else would you expect?"
"Too much, obviously."
"You can't tell me you've never thought of it."
"Actually, I can."
"That hurts. Really. I'm truly wounded."
"If this is your idea of a come-on, it's not working."
"Does that mean you'll go away now?"
Jake sighed and, after a moment, saw no other option. "Sure, sure."
"So tell me now, if this ain't love then how do we get out? Because I don't know.
That's when she said, 'I don't hate you, boy, I just want to save you
while there's still something left to save.' That's when I told her, 'I love you, girl,
but I'm not the answer for the questions that you still have.'"
She didn't smile until she saw his car pull out of the driveway, and leaned back, grabbing another drink from the now thoroughly-melted cooler. Twisting off the top, she took a long draw, revelling in the sharp taste of lime and the hint-of-tequila after-taste before allowing herself to think of Jake.
He was certainly much more effective than the margaritas, that was true. He always knew what buttons to press too to get her to go off. It had to be a cultivated talent... one only years of being the supreme ass he was had provided him with.
But still. An argument with him was better than the numbness, that was for sure.
She raised the bottle again, and found herself wondering what he could taste like before quickly shaking the thought off. That, after all, was the alcohol talking.
"I don't hate you. I don't hate you, no."
Rise Against "Saviour"