Chapter 24

American boy, American girl
Most beautiful people in the world!

- "Queen of the Highway", Jim Morrison and The Doors

I watch as Bella pushes Morrison's gluey hand down onto the thick paper, his fingers straight and firm as he concentrates. I look at his face to see his tongue sticking out and smile, enjoying the little traits that Bella points out are things I do without realizing it.

Slowly, she pulls his hand up and we see the perfect shadow of his three-year-old hand. "Sand now, Mommy!" he squeals in excitement as she quickly wipes the glue from him.

"Yes, now sand." Helping him with the cup filled with the soft white powder from our beach, the three of us sprinkle the grains over the glue generously. "Okay, now we'll let this sit for just a minute," she says, putting the sand cup back down on the table.

"And then I sign my name!"

"That's right," Bella confirms.

"And we send it to Grandpa I don't know."

"Right. We send it to Grandpa."

"Will I ever meet Grandpa?"

Bella looks up at me and I smile at her over Morrison's head. "I hope so, soon," I answer for both of us.

"Okay. Hey Papito!" Morrison calls over to my father, who is busy stocking the bar and talking to one of the regulars. He stops both immediately and walks over to where we are, looking down at Morrison's project.

"Looks like it's going to be a good one," he says and pats his grandchild on the mop of unruly bronze hair that Bella can't bring herself to cut. He sits down across from us, watching as I gently take the paper and shake the excess sand into the cup, trying not to let any get caught up in the ocean breeze and land on the surrounding tables.

"That's me!" Morrison yells excitedly, pointing to the beige sand cast of his hand.

"It is! Here's the marker. Be careful not to get too close to the sand," Carlisle says and leans over, placing the marker in Morrison's tiny fingers and enclosing them in his own. I watch as they write and repeat out loud each letter of his name.

My mother comes out of the kitchen carrying lunch plates to a couple sitting at the tiki bar, before sliding over and quickly complimenting Morrison on his project. She smiles at Bella and tells her that she and Carlisle will watch him while we send this latest masterpiece off.

"Thanks. I think Juan plans to leave tonight," Bella says as she checks the clock above the bar, giving my mother a small smile that gets returned warmly, if not with a hint of sadness.

Even though my parents have worked hard the last three years to get into her heart fully, they know she still holds some anger towards them for the pain they caused me, and the fucked up life I had for nine years until she rescued me. All four of us have discussed it in length, their past and what I went through, and she's listened to their excuses. For the most part, she's come to accept what they did while trying to forgive and love them. She does it for me, and for Morrison. But she isn't completely there, and I fucking love that she loves me so much that she holds even a tiny bit of resentment towards them, so I don't have to.

Even through her muted anger, she admits that having a mother figure in her life is something she didn't know she desired so badly, and my mother takes every opportunity she finds to give her what she's lost.

I think Bella came to realize this when we found out she was about two months pregnant right after she and I found each other again. My mother ended up being the person Bella needed.

Scared and horrified at the thought of having to raise a baby after her own shitty childhood, Mom taught Bella how to be a mother despite her own flaws and mistakes, and with her guidance and patience, Bella spent the last two months of her pregnancy excited at the prospect of having something in her that she and I created during the fucking whirlwind that was us, when we ruled the fucking world.

When the most beautiful baby ever born arrived, she was ready and much less terrified that she was going to fuck him up. I never had a doubt that she'd be one hell of a mother. I'm so fucking proud of her when I watch the excitement and love on display in every moment she spends with our son.

True to my word in that motel room when I scared the fuck out of her by discussing any children we'd have, we've never spent more than a day apart from Morrison Charles Cullen. The coolest fucking kid ever.

I often find myself suddenly standing in place, in the middle of whatever I'm doing, overwhelmed at the amount of happiness I have in me, after such a long, fucking dark journey to get here, and I know my Bella feels the same. The figurative clouds have lifted from our dreary days; and all that's ahead of us is pure fucking sunshine and kittens and shit.

I stand up and ruffle my son's hair. "Okay killer, we're going to drop this off. Papito will be done soon and then what are we going to do?" I ask slyly, a smile on my face anticipating his delight.

Excitedly he yells, "Fishing!" and starts to scramble off his chair, clapping. He pulls on Dad's sleeve, even though he's already up and following behind my anxious boy. "Vamonos, Papito, we have to get the fishy stuff ready!"

"God, he reminds me so much of you," Mom says next to me as we watch the two scamper outside to the cabana that holds the fishing gear, my surfboard, and Morrison's outdoor toys.

She shares a little memory of a three-year-old me and I smile, happy also to see Bella laughing at the recollection, despite the fleeting anger that comes whenever my mother reminisces. Bella's inability to understand as a mother how the fuck Esme ever left me weighs heavily on her, and I guess on me too. Regardless of how far their relationship has come, my mother's sad smile and pat on Bella's arm as she walks away tells me that she knows that thought will always linger in my wife.

I watch Morrison and Carlisle until they're out of my sight and hear Bella sigh next to me, trailing Esme with her eyes. She feels guilty for her feelings, explaining to me late at night as we whisper in bed that she's a hypocrite. She's done things others don't understand just like my parents, for reasons she can't ever fully explain to anyone that didn't experience what happened to get us here. She tells me we just have to try to make up for them, which we've all worked hard to do; the love my parents carry for the three of us is genuine, and because she tries, I'm trying to forgive Charlie for what he did to her. But it's fucking hard. So I get it.

"Gracias, Juan," Bella says to our friend as he takes the envelope. It's addressed to the oldest of the kids she babysat in Florida for her neighbors, Rosalie and Emmett, who then give it to Charlie. We never put a return address, and sending stuff to that kid is safest for all of us.

"No es un problema, Marie. I have this to the boat this afternoon," he says in his thick accent and gives her a wide grin, happy with his English.

"Stop flirting with my wife, Juan." I say, protectively pulling Bella to my side. My smirk let's Juan know I'm mostly joking, but there's still a raging feeling of possession in me for Bella that will never die. Besides, she fucking loves feeling owned by me, even though we both know it's really her that owns me. She always has, and always will.

I turn us to walk back to the bar, and we stroll lazily, enjoying the sounds of the surf and the clatter of the local merchants at the docks. My hand snakes up to Bella's neck where I grip her tightly as we walk, and I feel her shiver underneath my fingers. The fact that I still get that reaction from her makes my dick hard.

We wave to Juan's wife as we pass her, busy packaging the goods that will make the trip while keeping an eye on her son Manuel, a playmate of Morrison's, as he tries to use a paddle ball game.

Bella has sent a few things to Charlie over the years, using Juan's exporting company that delivers frequently to Miami, where he gets stamps and drops it in the mail to be sent on to Archer.

Not long before Morrison was born, we were lying in bed rubbing her stomach, and she said she needed to send something, anything, to Charlie. The thought of him wondering about her was finally becoming too much for her to bear.

I suddenly remembered that I'd kept the disposable camera and found it in my closet, taking Bella's picture with it, which made her burst out crying at the fact that I'd kept it the whole time we were separated. I didn't understand why she was surprised that I kept it. I've told her repeatedly how much I yearned for her, how she fucking lived in me even when she was hundreds of fucking miles away. How could she think I'd ever throw away something that held her image?

Bella hoped that sending copies of the pictures would settle his mind a bit, seeing with his own eyes and heart the moments in time she'd described to him the night she said goodbye.

And so the first photos were mailed. My beautiful girl and I smirking for the camera as I taught her to drive; the picture Alice took of me holding her after our wedding, and we added a few newer shots we took of us happy in our new life, always in front of generic locations so as not to give our position away. She says she used to hate seeing pictures of herself, like that senior year picture they flashed all over the TV, but it's different now; she's smiling in all of them.

Once Morrison was born, she didn't want Charlie not knowing his grandson, even if all we could manage was inanimate objects. We sent baby and toddler pictures, shells we found on the beach that Morrison would paint in bright colors, drawings of stick figure animals; all little spots of time captured so he could watch him grow up.

Over the last year, she's begun to call him. He's bought a second cell phone that only we have the number for, and she never calls him from anything but a public phone with a calling card. The first few calls were strained, but she says it's gotten easier, and now they talk about Morrison, and he tells her about a nice woman named Sue he's dating. His life is simpler now, having retired from the force, which even though he's never said it outright, Bella believes is a direct cause of our actions. He was a good cop deep down, she's explained to me. She thinks he's not able to live with the fact that he knows the truth regarding her participation in our riotous road trip, so he now has a position at a gated community serving as entry security.

He wants nothing more than to be a part of her and Morrison's life. I'm not so sure he feels that way about me, but he wants to meet the people that have taken care of his little girl. And I need to meet the man that I hold my resentment against and try to get past the shitty way he treated her, like she's trying to do for me.

She and I have been tossing the idea around for weeks, and after bringing the proposition to my folks, she's hoping that Charlie makes the trip down to Monterrico; the coastal town in Guatemala we moved to just a few months after our son was born, for his fourth birthday.

The heat that we brought to Playa de Sangre was a worry for all of us. Too many people would remember what was tattooed on my neck, and many others saw our ring fingers as we worked to get back to one another. There was no doubt in my parent's minds about them packing up what life they'd gained waiting for their son to join them, and we all started looking for a new home. They made out well selling the bar in Mexico, and have opened one on the beach here.

Bella and I help out in the bar, which works out because we can be with Morrison, who loves the place and has turned out to be quite the fucking charmer. Winning over the customers, moving from table to table, talking to whoever will listen. He collects money or trinkets when he thinks Bella and I don't see people handing his "prizes" to him.

We've kept the remainder of the money we got from the meth deals hidden from my parents at Bella's insistence. The fear she has, but doesn't voice often, is that someday we might have to move on without them, and we'll need that cash. It fucks with my head sometimes that she thinks this way, but I know she's only thinking of Morrison and me, making sure we'll always be safe and together. Charlie has told her that a few months after she left, and after my trail went cold, the search for me was downsized and soon enough my crimes were fading, replaced by newer and bigger as is always the way. There's always someone else coming up behind you doing something they shouldn't. But it's never far from our minds that we live on borrowed time.

They're everything, she is everything, and if she wants to go, if she gets word that we have to, I'll follow her to the end of the fucking earth.

Sometimes I work at night as security at a real fucking shady titty bar a few miles away. As fucking happy as I am in my life, happier then I ever imagined, I still can't fully shake the person I was made to be, and I take out my fits of anger and aggression when I get the chance to on the fucking dickweeds that get drunk and hassle the dancers. Bella worries…but there is an upside.

The evenings I come home after a particularly fun and violent night, she feels the fiery energy that shoots out of me for her as I loom over the bed soaking up the fucking perfection that is her. She wakes and turns, glorious in the moonlight that crosses her naked body. She'll take one look at my bloody knuckles, my busted lip, or the shirt that may or may not contain my own blood and her eyes darken. Her pulse quickens as she rubs her thighs together, licking the spot on her lip where we cut ourselves, and it's on. These are our intense nights, where I claim her, where we lose ourselves in what we were, what we still are, and let go.

We drift back in time, listening to our well-played Doors CD, as we ravage each other, feed off each other, and give in to our past. We fuck raw and hard and dirty, blistering with any unspent fury that we haven't let go of, the remnants of rage that we've buried deep but release a little at a time. We let it out, using our real names, letting them ride our screams even though we shouldn't, reveling in how we came to be us.

After, we lay together, sweaty and purged. She holds onto me in her death grip while my hands grab and my arms circle her, gluing myself to her body.

We whisper our word to each other long into the night, a reminder of everything we are to each other.

A reminder that we're here, together, and that we're fucking alive.

The End

So, that's it.

And now….my always dreaded, end of a story, lengthy, somewhat sappy a/n:

The biggest thank you goes to you, the reader. You guys are the best for sticking with me and staying through this crazy ride even when you weren't sure where I was taking you.

And that's a thanks to everyone that read this. I appreciate the readers that enjoyed quietly and didn't make themselves known just as much as those that were there every chapter, forming relationships with me that I am thankful for. Talking with you and sharing things between us has been a true highlight.

The love, the fun, and most of all, the support you guys showed me when some out there scratched their heads at what I was doing means so much. If I was able to surprise you, keep you guessing, or stun you just a little bit, that's huge for me, because we all know that's hard to do in a fandom that has given us thousands of excellent stories.

I went into this wanting to do something different, and I like to believe I accomplished that goal of mine. I remember grinning at every review you wrote that said "I don't see how this can end well". So, I'm smiling huge that maybe I was able to do that, when most couldn't fathom an HEA - only utter death and doom for these two crazy kids. You really thought I was gonna go there? Cause I could...I could go all Dexter crossover if you'd like :)

Also, thanks to Jim Morrison's mom and dad for having him, thank you to Google maps for being mostly right, thank you to all the websites where I had to look up questionable stuff that could get me serious weird looks if anyone in my company ever looks at my browser history. Meth prices, anyone?

Now I'm about to get really, really sappy here, so if you're over my ramblings, I understand, but I hope you'll read on, cause these two are just as responsible for your enjoyment as I am.

Carrie, my extraordinary beta and Lay, my wonderful pre-reader, you are two of the best girls I know. The support you two showed me while I cooked this up almost ten months ago is beyond words. Thank you for pushing me, for letting me wallow, waiting for me to start, and driving me to not buckle under pressure and to write it the way I wanted to.

When we started talking about this I was in a bad way, living in recliner city and being entertained by you two daily. Carrie, you soothed me with your love and cookies. Lay, you lightened me with your humor, making me laugh till my stitches hurt. The road I've been on these past ten months wasn't easy, but goddamn, you two made it a time in my life that I can't look back on with sadness. Everything happens for a reason, good and bad. And I can honestly say that this time with you, the good, was meant to be.

This story will always be ours, girls. MG2013 to infinity and beyond.

xoxo PB

Yes, I'll shut up now ;) See you soon!