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Swan Lakes Ranch Outtake: Memories
Banner by: Bethany Tullos
Beta: JustJo Ninetyfour
Warnings: Alcohol use/reference
Summary: Memories fade or do they? Can the arrival of the Cullens help keep the memories alive and make new ones along the way?
After Mini-Camp - Sunday Night
We all gather 'round the fire pit my father has lit after the vet left and Bella got the new horse settled. Leah sits beside me, linking her arm into mine. She is such an amazing woman and I'm lucky that she married me.
The others start showing up, carrying beer and wine. "It's time to unwind, folks," Bella announces wrapping a jacket around her shoulders. "Thanks for all y'alls help this weekend," she praises. "And I think I speak for everyone when I say, we are all excited that the Cullens will be joining us here at the ranch on a permanent basis."
I watch out of the corner of my eye as Edward smiles warmly at Bella, never taking his eyes off her. "They would be perfect together," Leah whispers in my ear.
"If he breaks her, I'll break him," I declare firmly. "She's been through enough and we don't need no city boy messing with her heart."
"You need to let them be," Leah states vehemently. "She's a grown ass woman and can make her own decisions."
I let it go before this escalates, causing a fight between us. Which isn't the smartest idea when it comes to my wife. While it's been a great weekend, its been a tiring one. I would love to be able to sleep in my own bed tonight. "You're right as usual, Hun," is my reply in order to let sleeping dogs lay. Looking round the pit, it's easy to notice that it's a bit more crowded than usual. The presence of the Cullen family has definitely added a special something to the ranch this weekend.
Leah and I are just sittin', staring at the fire when Emmett has to go and open his big mouth. The dude is funny as hell, but sometimes he just likes to stir up shit.
"Alright! Let's get this started with a little fun." Emmett remarks with a smirk. "Now, even before I set foot on the ranch, I've heard that there are some damn funny stories. Stories about some famous, or should I say infamous, happenings here. I wanna hear some of these stories."
"You just wanna cause trouble," Bella retorts with her own smirk. "You best remember who's gonna be assigning your job duties."
Eric and Tyler chuckle at the banter, but start off the night talking 'bout some of the crazier stunts we've pulled, while my dad and Carlisle regale stories about 'bout the good 'ol days for a while. Laughter and side conversations could be heard while friendships are forged around the fire pit, as the Cullens take in a little bit of our camaraderie here at the ranch.
"So, why'd Jake have to stay in the bunkhouse with you?" Emmett asks the guys and my head pops up glaring at them. However, they ain't deterred from running their mouths even after being on the receiving end of my glare.
"'Cause he peed in Leah's closet," Eric busts out smirking over at me. "Covered her shoes."
"Dumb ass," Leah interjects. "Had to buy all new shoes. Every last one of them was ruined."
"Why would you pee in the closet?" Carlisle asks, and that is when Bella decides she's gonna throw me under the bus.
Paybacks are hell, little lady.
"Last fourth of July, we had a bon-fire. We grilled out and set off fireworks. Jake had way too much to drink," Bella explains her smirk widening, clearly enjoying where this is heading. "I think quite a few of us actually had too much to drink that night. A little after midnight or so, we clean up and head back to our respective homes.
"What you may not know, is that Jake and Leah's bathroom door is next to her closet door." Bella explains as she shifts forward in her seat, getting a little more into the story. "He woke up sometime in the morning to go pee. And, instead of the bathroom, he went into her closet and proceeded to pee all over her shoes.
"The next morning, she found him asleep on the floor of her closet. Which, of course, reeked of piss." Bella is laughing at her own rendition of that evening, not really paying attention to the slow smirk that is making it's way up my face. I shake my head slowly at her as she continues. "Not only were all of her shoes trashed, but he had to pull up all the carpet and padding as well. The room stunk so bad that Leah had to stay in one of the spare rooms at my place. But the funny thing was, was that she wouldn't let Jake stay there. Oh, no. He was condemned to the bunkhouse until it was all cleaned up. I'd of made him sleep in the bunkhouse, too," she finishes laughing along with the others.
"Holy shit," Rose exclaims shaking her head. "I would've beat the ever living hell outta Emmett."
"Oh, she was pissed alright. Thought she was gonna shoot 'em," my father adds, still laughing.
"It was no worse than when Jessica made Bella sleep in one of the cabins after the skunk attack," I blurt out cheekily and her smirk quickly disappears after that.
"Jake," she warns, her eyes narrowing. "Don't make me shoot you myself."
"Oh, hell no," Emmett rebuts. "I gotta hear this," his eagerness is that of a ten year old's and I'm going to use it to my advantage.
"There was this one time when Bella was doctoring a rescue horse inside one of the barn stalls and the shavings started moving in the a corner of the stall," I start to explain, looking away from her glare.
"She thought it was a rat or something, so she goes over and kicks the shavings outta the way. No sooner she does this, a family of skunks come pouring out of a burrow in the corner, hissing at her.
"She's screaming, 'cause she's caught off guard, not expecting to see skunks. Well, all the racket that she was creatin' scares the hell outta the horse, who had planted himself firmly against the stall door, blocking her way out," I summarize trying not to laugh, but fail, knowing what was about to come next.
"Now, this momma skunk is basically stalkin' her around the stall. She's pacing back and forth, back and forth. Bella, in the mean time, is tryin' to stay clear of her. Bella loses her cool and her footing at the most inopportune time.
"She trips over her own feet and lands...right in a pile...of fresh manure," I draw out. "But! At the same time she falls, this momma skunk takes her movement as an attack, and quickly turns, lifts her tail...and sprays her."
By now, we are all laughing, except for Bella, and surprisingly, Edward. He has a look of concern on his face as he stares at Bella.
"It was horrible! I couldn't do anything.! Billy had to get the horse out of the way before I could get out," she explains, taking over the story. "It took over a week just to get the smell outta the barn. Jessica sent me to stay in one of the cabins while I constantly bathed in tomato juice for a few days. I thought I would never get that smell outta my hair."
"Baking soda works, too," Edward informs us. "I think you have to mix it with dish soap or something."
"Well, I hope I never have to go through that again in order to find out," Bella whispers but we all hear her. "I swear that I can still smell it sometimes."
"You can yuck it up all you want to, Boy. That was no worse than when you fell in a pile of manure at the horse sale," my dad comments, raising an eyebrow in my direction. "You had to ride back to the ranch in the back of the truck, you smelled so bad."
"Oh, shit!" I exclaim. "I forgot 'bout that. That was nasty."
"You sure as hell smelled nasty," Bella barks out. "All of ya have had your fair share of disasters."
Esme all of a sudden busts out laughing, even snorting a few times. We look at her like she's crazy, but once she gets herself under control she starts explaining, "Remember when y'all were attacked by that flock of geese?" She asks looking at Carlisle and my dad.
"Oh, hell," Carlisle laughs out. "Marie made us wash off in the pond before we could even come in the house, we were so covered in bird shit."
"That was Charlie's fault," my dad cuts in shaking his head. "He just had to start fucking with them. Trying to catch one with a fishing net. Wild ass birds."
"Yeah," Carlisle agrees. "Pissed off the whole flock and they came after us with their tongues sticking out, hissing, wings flapping." My dad shakes his head at the memory. "That was the first time I brought Es out here and had never seen wild geese before. They were relentless, too. Found out later on that they had babies they were protecting."
"They still come here during the winter," Bella interjects. "Walked out of the house once and there had to of been hundreds of them on the lake."
"Alice got sprayed by a spider monkey once," Jasper barks out as Alice punches him in the arm. "Ow, Babe. Just saying."
"I remember that," Edward remarks. "It was at the zoo. The cute little monkey sees Alice and goes nuts, bouncing all over the cage," he chuckles at the memory. "She's just standing there, watching it when it lifts its tail and sprays her. That was some foul smelling piss."
"Hey," Alice exclaims glaring at her brother in-law. "That wasn't as bad as smelling like rotten oysters."
"Oh, God," Edward states shaking his head. "That was sick. I thought that I was gonna throw up." He takes a deep breath, as if he can still smell the stench. "This stupid ass line cook opens a jug of raw oysters. He had never cooked them before, and didn't know what they were supposed to smell like. I catch wind of odor and ask what he was cooking when he shoves the whole jug in my face. He lost his grip on the container and covers me in the rotten shit. I was gagging all the way home in order to get cleaned up."
"Those are nasty," Bella remarks, her nose scrunches up in disgust. "Don't ever cook them in my house. I don't eat 'em and I sure as hell don't wanna smell 'em."
"I guess I'm use to the nasty smells," Sam comments. "Emily comes home smelling like piss or throw-up all the time."
"Damn, boy," my dad laughs out. "She's gonna make you sleep on the couch with that comment."
Emily just shakes her head glaring at him.
"What? Its the truth."
"You sound like I go rollin' in the shit, or something," Emily growls out. "These are patients, Sam. They are sick and can't help it."
"So, what's it really like living on a ranch?" Jasper asks as the mood of the group settles down. I notice he is the silent, curious type. Always listening and watching.
"Somedays are easy," Seth starts, never one to sugar coat anything. "Then, there are the stressful days, where there isn't enough time to get everything done. You never know what's gonna happen from one day to the next."
"It can get emotional at times, too," Leah comments with a frown. "For instance, to help birth a foal, raising and training it for four years only to have to turn around and sell it. But, that's what we do; its what the ranch's livelihood is."
"That would be hard," Alice agrees softly.
"Animals get sick and die, too," my dad confesses. "You have to get past it and move on because there's other forms of new life around you that needs you to take care of it."
"Then, there can be moments of excitement or amazement," Bella continues. "When you look up to see a herd of deer running through the field, or a new calf in the morning walking through the pasture beside it's momma."
"Or, a child gets lost in the woods and the police ask for your help to search for them because you know the area so well," my mother comments with a small smile. "Riding in a parade and handing out candy to the children. Teaching a child to swim that never thought they would be able to even get in a pool."
"Being able to provide medical care for a child. A child you can help by spending your Saturday volunteering, instead of sitting in front of the tv all day," Garrett adds, smiling at Kate.
"Rescuing a horse that has been beaten within an inch of its life," Eric continues with a frown. "And then see that same horse playing and running through the pasture not even six months later."
"Helping a child learn to fish and watching their face light up when they actually catch something," Jasper whispers. "It's an amazing rush."
"Exactly," I agree smiling. "And they will remember you 'cause you were there to help them."
Sam, Emily, Garrett and Kate tell everyone bye as they have to leave. Being a Sunday night, and they have to work the next morning, we bid them a good night. The rest of us are just sitting around, and enjoying the quiet crackles, pops and warmth from the fire.
"What is your best memory from being here?" Esme asks softly. "Mine is Renee and Marie teaching me to ride a horse. I was scared to death, but they made me fall in love with it." I notice her wipe a tear away before it falls.
"Low-Country Boils," Carlisle asserts with a wide smile. "Those were some good times."
"What's a country boil?" Emmett asks looking confused.
"It a seafood boil where everything is cooked together, poured on a table and everyone gathers 'round, eats and drinks beer," Bella explains.
"Girl's weekends." my mother claims. "Marie taking us girls on weekend trips. I know they weren't on the ranch but it is such a great memory."
"Bella wrecking the tractor," my father blurts out laughing, catching us off guard. "I thought Charlie was gonna piss himself."
"Oh, God," Bella agrees. "I didn't know if he was more pissed off or worried. I still can't believe I did that."
A couple of chuckles could be heard from Esme, Carlisle and Billy. The rest of us just glance around in slight confusion, waiting for an explanation.
"She drove that brand new John Deere right into the lake," my dad continues while laughing. "She was use to the old one and couldn't figure out how to stop the new one."
"Broke my damn foot, too," Bella mumbles. "Couldn't ride for months. That's probably why daddy didn't punish me. Not being able to ride was punishment enough."
"Meeting Jess," Seth states, his voice full of love. "I thought she hated me at first. I was standing there staring at her like a dummy. I thought Mike was gonna kill me for droolin' over his sister."
"Cassie walking for the first time," Bella states softly wiping a tear away. "Doctors said she would never walk. This idiot," she grins, pointing at a now smirking Seth, "accidently left the corral gate open and this three day old foal gets out, running across the front yard where Cassie is sitting on a blanket. The foal stops right in front of her and she just pushed herself up and walked right to it. It's actually her horse now, they have a special bond, so we kept him for her."
"Meetin' Charlie," Eric comments. "Came out here with my dad, I had to be, I don't know, eight years old? Dad was doin' some work for Charlie. I was bored and wandered into the barn. Charlie picked me up and sat me on his horse. That was the first time I ever rode, but after that, I came out here every chance I got and Charlie would take me ridin'."
"The first camp we had out here for the kids," Tyler remarks. "This little girl had never been on a swing, so Billy and me built this platform swing that her wheelchair would lock onto. Oh, God, her smile was so brilliant."
Everyone turns and looks at me and Leah. It must be out turn. Without so much as a look at each other, we both answer, "Bella and Jessica's graduation party." We both look at each other and chuckle, along with everyone else. "That was the weekend that we finally pulled out heads out of our asses," Leah continues with a smirk.
"I still have no clue why you two were so scared that we would get mad at y'all," Bella remarks, laughing. "I think daddy was ready to lock the two of you in the barn together, just to see if you'd either kiss or kill each other."
"I think it was our age difference," Leah sighs. "He was like your little brother and I was one of your best friends."
"He is the annoying little brother," Seth chortles.
"Hey," I rebut. "I got the older woman, didn't I?"
"That's still my sister you're talkin' 'bout," Seth growls, glaring at me.
"I think it's time to turn in," my dad mentions, breaking the tension. He knows how Seth and me can be if we get to arguing. "Tomorrow's gonna be busy."
We all head our separate ways after the fire is put out.
"Promise me you won't interfere," Leah whispers as we walk back to our cabin. "Let them both mend their broken hearts together. It's time for her to be happy, J. I want her to have what we have."
"I promise not to interfere," I concede. "But if he hurts her, there will be no stopping me."
"I wouldn't have it any other way," she agrees, reaching up to kiss my cheek. "I love you."
I whisper my love for her as I kiss her temple as we continue strolling to the cabin. Maybe the Cullens would be a good thing, a positive thing for the ranch.