A/N: Unedited. You've been warned.

A Broken Dream

"There are just some things you're better off not knowing. Where I've been isn't important. I called you here to apologize for everything from before." Leah said quietly, tired from all of the questions and accusations the night had unearthed. She knew that by coming back it would be inevitable but she hadn't taken into account how emotionally draining it would all be.

Things between her and Sam could never be the same but she now understood and connected with a part of him that he was once condemned for. She now knew the heaven bound feeling that came with being with your imprint. Sam deserved a lot of things but her time was no longer one of them. He had to be free of the guilt he possessed for breaking her heart and she wouldn't leave until he knew that. If only he would drop the subject of her going AWOL on the pack long enough for her to get that out.

Imprinting was not the enslavement the others had made it out to be. Imprinting was an instant connection, a joining between two souls. Imprinting was a beautiful thing if you let it be. It wasn't a death sentence rather it was a quite literal push into the right direction. She could be angry at her imprint. He didn't consume her every thought like Sam described it to be. She could feel annoyed and want space from her love, all of which she was told was impossible with imprinting. She could stand to be an individual and feel content that at the end of the day it was their love that kept them together, not an imprint.

Watching Sam pace back and forth, she wondered why Sam could not say the same with Emily. Why her face was a constant every time they used to patrol together. Or why Paul and Jared just had to cater to Rachel and Kim's every whim. She supposed she would never understand. Maybe it was because she had more will power? Could it be that imprinting worked differently with female imprinters? Perhaps, Leah concluded, it was because she was determined to never hurt someone like she'd been hurt by Emily and Sam. So it went that she had distanced herself from all of the hurt and betrayal and finally learned to love herself again.

The fractures on her heart had finally been pulled back together again. Her impenetrable walls had broken down one by one and it had nothing to do with imprinting. Her spirit was cleansed and she was finally at peace with herself again.

It was a newly healed woman who stood before Sam and with that peace came atonement. Her pain had caused unnecessary heartache for others and the conflicted man before her deserved an explanation. She came home for the sole reason of making amends and Sam deserved that above anyone else. She would never truly forgive him but she understood why he couldn't be with her. After all, for as much as she loved Sam, she wouldn't trade her imprint for anyone in the world.

"Why won't you just tell me where you've been the past year. You're spirit journey wasn't supposed to last a year!" Sam exclaimed, breaking Leah away from her thoughts. "Do you have any idea of what's been going on with you gone?!"

"I didn't come here to argue. I can't stay much longer. I promised someone I was only saying goodbye." Leah sighed.

"Is it the leach you've been stuck to? Jacob told us all about who you brought home to your family this morning." Sam bit out, still stuck on her just reappearing like she'd never left. To find out she'd been with a leech all this time had been enough to set him over the edge.

"Leave him out of this." Leah growled, unwilling to let Sam or anyone talk down about the one person in the entire world that was worth fighting to the ends of the earth and back for.

"He's your imprint, isn't he?" Sam suddenly realized, all of the pieces of the puzzle finally coming into place at the complete outrage that had overtaken her entire aura at his words.

"None of that matters now." Leah said, schooling her features into the mask she had perfected. The cold, dismissive one that tore at Sam's heartstrings everytime. She was right, she didn't come to argue yet here he was yelling at her instead of listening. It was the exact thing that had set her off that cold winter's night a year ago.

"You could've told us. Told me. I wouldn't have judged you." Sam emphasized. "I know that there's no choice when it comes to imprinting. It's all encompassing."

"That's where you're wrong Sam. Imprinting is what you make of it. Nothing more, nothing less." Leah stated, looking deeply into his eyes, causing Sam to shutter at the intensity to be found in those deep brown orbs.

In that moment he understood exactly what she was conveying and the thought left him feeling sick. He could remember the pain of being away from Emily being soothed by just being in Leah's presence. Maybe he could've fought the pull harder but Leah was making it clear that it was far too late for any regrets. Her heart no longer belonged to him but to another and it unfairly left him feeling hurt.

"I know exactly what you would've told me Sam. What you all would've told me. I'd be alpha commanded to stay away from him. To hate him. To lie to him. To deny him my love. To deny myself of his love. I had to go Sam. I couldn't be forced to live a lie. Not anymore." Leah spoke, tears glistening her eyes as the icy facade melted before it even had a chance to settle upon her face.

"Rather than stay and listen to everyone telling me what was right and wrong, how to behave, what to say, when to shift, how to feel...I left." Leah explained, breathing in sharply at the broken person she left La Push as. Leah never wanted to be so lost in her pain that she knew nothing but to lash out on others. She wasn't all to blame of course but she certainly didn't make things any better by baiting innocent bystanders to the tragedy her life has ascended to.

"Lee, despite everything, I wouldn't have stood between you two. I couldn't imagine anyone forcing that on me. You have to believe I wouldn't have hurt you like that." Sam urged.

"Don't stand there and pretend you would've encouraged a relationship between me and a leech." Leah scoffed, folding her arms defensively across her chest, her body trembling with the need to shift.

"Okay, look, maybe not." Sam conceded, shame and guilt entering his disposition. "But my feelings aside, I actually do want you to be happy. I never intended to hurt you but that's all I seem to be capable of nowadays. I haven't been very kind or considerate to you and you may never believe it but I really am sorry. You were the light of my life and instead of talking with you and treating you with the respect you deserved, I was a jerk. I guess it was easy to paint you as the bad guy so I didn't have to feel half as bad for everything."

Leah silently measured his sincerely, letting his words sink in before sending him a soft smile. This was the real Sam, not the cold, heartless alpha who didn't have time to spare an apology for the hell he had put her through. This was the old Sam, the one that knew when he was wrong and apologized for it.

In the moment that Leah's lips curved into that soft, sweet smile, Sam felt his heart stop. That smile, that special, one of a kind smile that he fell in love all those years ago was directed towards him for the first time in years. Not for the first time did Sam wholeheartedly loathe the entire premise of imprinting. This was his Leah staring back at him, the very one he still yearned for when he wasn't under the thrall of the imprint. His mind was instantly brought back to all the good times they shared together. Laughing at the silliest things, dancing with no music, talking for hours on the phone at night despite the face they shared classes with one another. Long summers filled with adventures and heart to hearts by a bonfire. Tears over petty arguments and the joy and pure relief that came with making up.

"I know that now. It's something I really should have known all along." Leah said, placing a gentle hand on his face, caressing his sharp cheekbone with the softest of touches.

"You were my best friend before anything else." Leah said, her smile spreading to her eyes, a true mark to the weight being lifted from her shoulders at long last. She had nothing to be sad about anymore. They had been something great once and that alone was enough to wash away years of pain and heartache. What was once a searing, never ending reminder of the pain he had caused was now a reminder that he was hurting to. She hadn't been the only one to suffer. Their relationship had evolved into a companionship Leah hoped they could nurture someday. Despite it all, it would be nice to have her friend back.

It was somehow twisted but Sam was just as mesmerized as he'd ever been by Leah. She'd always been surrounded by a halo of warmth and beauty both inside and out. To see her return to that after the cards she was dealt was not only inspiring but awe worthy. A true testament to the fierce, kind woman he had the honor of knowing.

"I'd really like that." Sam choked out, wanting to hold her and never let her go. He knew he could trust her, knew that they could somehow come out of all of this with that connection they started out with. Even if he could never hold her and kiss her and love her like before, he promised to himself there and then that he would never let her slip away from his life again.

"I have to go now." Leah wistfully announced, as she retracted her hand from his face. Sam would always hold a special place in her heart even though he no longer came close to ever possessing it again. If not for imprinting, she had no doubt in her mind that her and Sam would have stayed together. With a shake of her head, Leah figured they'd probably be engaged by now despite everyone scolding them for being too young. The thought was nice but it wasn't their reality. Some things just weren't meant to be.

"You know, I still believe we're soulmates." Sam confessed, holding Leah close to him, breathing in her scent, drinking in her presence.

"In another life, we'd be together." Leah agreed easily, taking in his warmth one last time. When was the last time they held each other like this?

"Why couldn't we have had that life?" Sam asked, looking imploringly at Leah. Why did their dreams have to come crashing down? They never asked for any of this.

"We could only dream so much before it was time to wake up. I think reality isn't so bad though. In fact, I think it may be better than we both could've ever dreamed of." Leah contemplated, pulling away from Sam once more. It was finally time to say goodbye.

"I'll always love you Sam. If you ever need me, I'm only a call away. Now go. Emily's probably worried sick." Leah laughed, knowing her cousin was likely imagining several scenarios in which they both were attacking each other in a bloody wolf battle.

"I've never stopped loving you either. I think it's impossible." Sam smiled.

With a playful roll of her eyes, Leah hugged him once more before placing a single kiss to his cheek.

"Goodbye Sam."