The Persistence of Gravity
"Everyone knows his father was a complete screw-up who hurt and abandoned everyone who needed him, but he tries very hard to be a good kid, a good student, a good friend and son. And he swears to himself as he watches Leah sleeping now that he'll always be good to her." The untold story of Sam/Leah starting from before he became a werewolf.
A ridiculously old WIP I'm finally finishing. Because I'm really interested in Sam and Leah as characters and their relationship we don't know many details about, I wanted to write a fic trying to show their story in a very personal way that would make the heartbreak it caused Leah (and also the guilt Sam has over it) very real and understandable. But I was totally unprepared for how invested in this I actually became and how much it ran away with me and got much longer than expected, so I'm really crossing my fingers that there will be readers interested enough in these supporting characters to enjoy this fic in a bittersweet way like I enjoyed writing it.
As a nitpicky note, I know Seth's age in this is way off. At the time I started it I somehow had the idea that he's only about three years younger than Leah, and I just left it because it's a kind of integral detail in one part that would have been hard to work around fixing.
2. part 2/7
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Nearly a couple weeks later, Sam’s mom comes home and tells him she ran into Kathy Morganroth and Sue Clearwater shopping together at the fabric store. A long conversation between the three of them lead to Kathy inviting both of them for dinner the coming weekend so that while they're over she can show them her very ambitious sewing project. Sam is invited as well, of course, and he feels ridiculous for the way his mind slips away out of the moment for a few seconds after he hears that all of the Clearwaters will be there.
He is used to seeing Leah looking very polished and made-up, hair shining smoothly and often styled, wearing long earrings picked to look good with her blouse and heeled boots. But on Saturday night she shows up with her hair tied back in a loose, slightly sloppy long braid and wearing just a faded red tank top, very old-looking sneakers, and jeans that have some off-white stains on them. She apologizes for coming like this, explaining to Kathy as she helps take a casserole out to the small and packed table, "I've been helping a friend paint her bedroom all day and didn't get time to change. I really hope the paint stains won't come off on your chairs or anything." But besides that, she seems completely comfortable with her less than immaculate appearance, as self-possessed and unconscious of herself as ever.
She and Sam never speak directly to each other through dinner. She drops into conversations and cracks jokes as often as any of the adults there, while Seth and the Morganroths’ oldest kid Collin get into their own separate conversations sitting next to each other. Leah keeps shifting position in her chair a lot, at one point leaning back to stretch her arms over her head and then reaching behind her and rubbing her upper back as if it feels sore. Sitting at the other end of the table on the opposite side, Sam takes notice of all this like he can’t help it.
Finally after dinner, the parents all start washing dishes or gathering in front of the TV together, and Sam and Leah both follow all the younger kids out to the garage and stand by watching as Seth and Collin play darts. They both laugh lightly whenever one of them misses the target board very badly, while Collin's little sister Sandra just complains that they won't let her play, and then after a while Leah starts blinking and gently rubbing at one of her eyes.
When she touches Sam's shoulder briefly, it is almost like he knew he was about to feel it. “You want to show me where the bathroom is?” she asks, evidently remembering that he went to use it earlier. “I need to fix my contact.”
He knows this game, he thinks. It is not a big house and she could easily just be told where anything is. But of course he shows her anyway, and they don’t say anything as they move through the dark parts of the house together. She never seems to expect him to.
Instead of going back outside while she is in there, he stands in the hall right outside of it and looks at some small framed art on the wall. Then when she comes out, pouring light from the doorway before she flips the switch, she goes to stand right next to him and follows his gaze to peer at one of the pictures, almost touching him shoulder-to-shoulder. Then he looks down and meets eyes with her, fixing her with a piercing stare to show quite clearly that he isn’t the least bit interested in this picture.
In silence, Leah just smiles a little, devastatingly in the dim light that gives a certain extra softness to her skin. Then she starts to turn, as if she is about to walk away and go right back to the others in the garage, but he reaches up and holds her jaw in his fingers a little firmly, turning her face to look right at him again.
“Are you playing hard to get?” he murmurs.
She smiles again, more gently, the tiniest trace of what might be shyness showing. “I think I’m a little young for you to be playing hard to get," she admits.
“You think so?” he asks, his mouth turning up into a half-smile—because as a matter of fact, it is exactly the reason he has been trying to wait for her, looking for her clear allowance if not for her to move first.
He keeps looking closely at her for a still moment, reading her face, wondering not for the very first time how used to this kind of thing she is. Then he glides his hand down to the smooth bare skin of her shoulder, deciding not to bother with any preamble after stepping delicately around the question long enough.
“I’m going to kiss you, okay?” he says quietly.
The words hold her in place for just one more silent second, and then she just laughs a little. “Not here,” she whispers. “Let’s go for a walk. Seth and Collin will be busy out there forever..."
So they quietly sneak out through the front door, going off without passing the garage so that nobody sees them and everyone can assume they're still with the other group. The Morganroths live closer to the beach than anyone Sam knows, and they automatically head away from the house in that direction in the quiet, peaceful night.
"Does your back hurt?" he asks when he notices her reaching back and rubbing it again.
"A little," she says. "I feel stiff all over after working all day..." As she drops her arm down again, she reaches over with it and takes his hand.
She asks him simple questions to get him to say a few words, gently prying open his shell even though it feels like she could already have all his pearls in her hands; none of the answers he gives her, about general things like what he does and doesn’t like about school or why she stopped seeing him at their church years ago, seem to come as a surprise to her.
When they reach the circle of logs for sitting around fires she does not tell him to sit down, just lightly pushes him backwards over to one of the logs until he drops down and sits on the ground against it. She settles herself down in the sand right between his bent legs, but instead of leaning all the way back against him she sits forward a little and then pulls her braid over one shoulder so it isn’t hanging over her back anymore.
“What are you doing?” he asks in a lightly bemused tone as she seems to be waiting for something.
“My back hurts,” she reminds him simply.
“...Oh.” He smirks, reaching up to her shoulders and starting to massage her with his large hands.
She makes soft, contented sighs in her throat in response to his touch, and he can feel her loosely relaxing all over. After a while he leans forward and starts putting slow, lingering kisses on her neck. Eventually she leans back against him and he can see the small, delicate smile on her face that she seems to be showing unconsciously as her eyes are closed. This is how she wants it done, he guesses, gradually building up to the point with a slow burn. In a way this feels so different than with any other girls he's been with before, and he's in no hurry himself. And he can't help but still feel a little unsure and hesitant about every little advance. She is fifteen, unbelievably beautiful but not this beautiful and perfectly ripened for touch since very long, and he doesn't know what is and what isn't new to her. But when she is finally resting all the way back against him and his hands move down exploring new places, brushing his fingers over her skin down her arms and clutching around her waist, the tiny smile on her face is relaxed and pleased.
She keeps her eyes closed as he tilts her face up to lean down and kiss her, and she responds so eagerly that everything seems to suddenly gain an unrestrained acceleration. She feels small and soft in his arms but as she turns in his lap to hold onto him around his shoulders her grip is so strong and tight. She kisses him with a kind of hunger and endlessly burning energy like she wants to consume him, not just be touched and caressed in a more soft and gentle way. He can tell from the way she feels in his arms, if he couldn't before, that this girl is not the kind who is going to gasp and bury her face into his chest getting scared while watching horror movies. This woman. He has seen her around since they were both very young, but where did she come from?
"I think you should suggest to your parents that they invite me and my mom over for dinner soon," he tells her later when they're about to creep back into the house. "Let them get to know me a little more before your dad gets to wish he could come after me with a shotgun."
She giggles low and quiet, smiling more vibrantly than he's ever seen her smile before. Before turning to slip inside, she kisses his throat, sending tickling electricity coursing through his body that lasts even after she is four feet away from him. What is it about her that makes him feel like he's never done all this before?
He will not wonder for a long time what makes him so sure right from the start that this is different. The first one that changes everything.
During the whole summer a day hardly ever goes by that they don't see each other.
Leah takes him along to her familiar hangouts with her large group of friends, going to movies in the day and various unsupervised shindigs at night. She always knows somehow if there is a party happening somewhere out in the woods or at the house of somebody she may not even know in Forks. Any view he has of her as innocent due to her being younger becomes more and more dissolved as he gets to know her. She can hold four beers almost as well as some guys his own age he knows, and he is always teasing her about how she's obviously just trying to prove to him how tough she is so he won't think of her as some pure and uncorrupted little sophomore.
Sam hardly ever drinks much himself. Sometimes all he can see inside the green and brown bottles is the blood of his father. She never asks why, seeming to easily understand on some level and know that it has nothing to do with disapproval of it, or of her. It's something she likes a lot less than disapproval but won't fault him for all the same.
More often, though, they spend time with Sam's friends, and he observes that Leah seems somehow more natural and comfortable that way, like a slightly different and more down-to-earth person. After spending enough time with her he has caught on pretty easily to how Seth is practically her best friend in some ways, probably one of the only people she'll completely let her guard down with; it seems like having only a brother, as well as a mother who is more of the tough love variety than maternally coddling, has made her almost more fit for male companionship. She is just as happy to hang out in Port Angeles shooting pool at a sports bar or watch hilarious blaxploitation movies with Sam and the boys as she is to go shopping with her girlfriends.
Then one day he, Steve, and Paul go cliff-diving and she wants to come.
Paul and Steve go first, shouting enthusiastically on the way down. Leah watches them descend and then stays peering down at the waves far below, her toes just inches from the edge of the cliff. Sam stands right behind her, holding her waist and looking down at the sea over her shoulder.
"You scared?" he asks.
She shakes her head and replies in an easy tone, "No."
"You got to be at least a little scared. That's what makes it fun."
Looking back at him a second, she grins a little smugly. "Well, I'm really not—"
Her words turn to a short, shrill sceam of shock when he jerks her forward suddenly as if starting to push her over the edge, but he immediately pulls her right back against him and starts laughing at her. She turns right around, also laughing loudly, and grabs him tight around his middle with her breath suddenly a little frantic, muttering, "You jerk."
He keeps laughing, more quietly, in deep vibrations against her face as he leans over and kisses her temple.
"You're not going to tell your parents you did this with me, are you?" he asks.
She just snorts with laughter. "You're always so worried about them not liking you. As if you could be a bad influence on me..."
"Come on, girls!" Paul's faint voice calls from far down in the water, and they both laugh a little again.
Leah grins a little mischievously, standing up tall to kiss him before he stops leaning into her. Then they just stand looking at each other for a preparing moment. Here they go.
When they jump, the frightening and heart-gripping thrill overtaking them with gravity's fierce pull for what seems like such a long moment before they hit the waves, he feels like they are more powerful than anything together right now, like they could survive any kind of fall. She goes first, and then he hits the water right after her. They find each other while still under the ocean, grasping hands as they kick themselves back up, and then reach the surface already locked together in another kiss. Steve reacts to the extensive public display by splashing both their faces with water. Leah lifts a hand up to show him the finger as she and Sam just keep kissing carelessly with their eyes closed, making both the others crack up laughing.
Time seems to fly by very fast. After they have been seeing each other for almost nine months, Leah owes Seth a lot of cokes because she promises to buy him a drink every time he doesn’t tell their parents she’s had Sam over at the house while they weren’t home, and she and Mary Uley have bonded over a TV show they both love and get along so well they sometimes monopolize all the conversation when she's over at Sam's house and end up joking about making him feel left out. With how little he has in the world compared to other people, she is already starting to feel like family to him. His whole life feels bigger than ever before. It seems more like it's going somewhere now.
One day at school as he walks to his next class with Steve she sees them in the hall, walking at the other end with some of her friends. As soon as they meet eyes, she says a quick last word to her friends and then breaks away from them to rush forward toward him. Sam automatically picks her up off the floor when she flies into his arms with a giddy grin on her face, lifting her up and then saying in a low voice, "Hey, Lee-lee" before starting a trail of light kisses up her neck as her arms wrap around his shoulders.
"Why don't you two just get married already, goddamn," Steve teases with a laugh before leaving them on their own.
Sam sets her back down when a teacher standing nearby starts giving them a warning look, and then he takes both her hands in his. "That sounds a lot better than going to Richardson's class," he sighs. "What do you say? Want to ditch school today? Run off and get hitched?"
She laughs and says, "Sounds like someone has a pretty early case of Senioritis. All ready to be an adult as soon as possible?"
The idea makes him look more exasperated. "Not far from the truth," he admits. "Never thought I'd be so tired of this place. If you didn't go to this school..."
"Hey now, you can't be losing motivation yet. Aren't you applying for those scholarships soon?"
"Yeah," he says, looking a little unhappy to be reminded of them.
"Come on, stop feeling so intimidated by it," she says, letting go of one of his hands to hit his shoulder lightly. "I keep telling you, you work so hard it's ridiculous and that's bound to show."
"Okay," he says relentingly, seeming to find her efforts of convincing him to be unnecessary as if he wasn't completely aware of his own expression before. "If you say so."
The halls are beginning to clear out; there is only about a minute left before the next class period. As she stands up on her toes with her hands at his chest, he has to bend down far to meet her for a final kiss. Something makes her lips tighten in a held-back smile as they're still against his, and then after they pull apart she looks a little amused.
"God, you're getting tall," she remarks before sliding her hand out of his as she walks away.