Stephenie Meyer owns all the Twilight parts.
Important: If you haven't read the epilogue of The Give Away Girl or The B Sides futuretake (Ten), this won't make sense.
Thanks to Iris for making it pretty. Thanks to M and Nic for pre-reading. Thanks to Rachel for planting the seed.
In case you missed it, this is a Jasper POV outtake/futuretake.
She's got a smile that it seems to me
Reminds me of childhood memories
Was as fresh as the bright blue sky
Now and then when I see her face
She takes me away to that special place
And if I stared too long
I'd probably break down and cry
("Sweet Child O' Mine" – Guns N' Roses)
Being part owner of a business sucks. I don't have the option of turning off my ringer.
I'm the asshole at the deli in front of people in line, ordering my sandwich when Ozzy blares.
I've seen your face a hundred times… Every day we've been apart…
"Fuck." It takes a minute to wrestle the phone out of my coat pocket and silence it. "Sorry about that," I say to the girl behind the partition. "Spicy Italian on wheat."
Alice can wait.
Let her see how it feels for a change.
"What kind of cheese?" The girl, Arliss - according to her name tag - leans forward, exposing the sliver of pale skin between the V of her unbuttoned polo.
I watch her add lettuce, pickles, mustard, and mayo, and all the while my hand is still clutching the phone in my pocket, itching to check my voicemail. No matter how irritated I am with Alice, I've never been able to pass up a chance to hang on her words.
Chips, soda, and an empty booth. Her voice rings out, balanced between my head and my shoulder while I unwrap the toasted hoagie in front of me.
"Bella's in labor, finally. She and Edward are taking bets on whether this is going to be a November or December baby. Text him if you want in. I'm picking up a car at SeaTac. See you in a few hours."
The phone drops into my lap, and I stare at my lunch, paused.
Eternally paused by the girl who fucked me up when I was still a kid. A younger kid, anyway.
I could call her back. It would be more than she's done for me this past week.
Bella's baby was due the day before Thanksgiving. Alice planned to be here to catch the show and some turkey in the same trip. Two had other plans. The due date came without so much as a nudge from Alice's niece or nephew. She stayed in Mississippi to wait it out.
Alice changing her mind about coming home is nothing new. It's her MO. There was one quick phone call to drop the bomb, and I haven't heard a word from her since.
Six days of silence is a long fucking time.
It shouldn't make any difference to me. I'm not her fucking boyfriend. Not anymore.
Until recently, we've talked on the phone once or twice a week, sometimes more. This is the game we've played since we ripped open old wounds over coffee back in August.
Instead of calling her, I pick up the phone and text Edward.
2:30am Dec 1. How's Bella?
I make it halfway through my lunch before he answers.
High on Stadol. Thank God. She flipped you the bird for wishing another 13 hours on her.
I laugh out loud at the thought of my best friend pausing mid-contraction to flip me off from a town away. Out of The Pack, she's the only one who gave a damn enough to keep up with me after Alice ditched us all. Phone calls, emails, visits… She even forced me to create a MySpace page. It ended up being good promo for the shop, so maybe I should thank her.
Tell her I said good luck. Keep me posted.
It's not quite two when I finish eating, but opening the shop a few minutes early is almost an everyday occurrence. Being the first one in gives me a few moments to connect with the color of flash from ceiling to floor and turn up the heavy metal through the speakers in the lobby.
My partner, Mick, shows up late today, like almost every other day. He stuffs McDonald's into his mouth as we walks through the front door.
"S'up," he says around his burger.
"Bella's in labor. I may have to leave early tonight."
He disappears to our office space in the back, probably to catch a nap on the green vinyl sofa. His schedule is clear until four.
My afternoon slips away working on a piece for Sampson, a hulk of a bastard who drives big rigs. He's a regular. He's always leaned toward patriotic tats – an eagle on his back, a flag wrapped around his bicep. Today's visit is for a somber memorial to his little brother. The kid enlisted right after 9/11 and came home to their mother in a body bag two months ago.
Sampson faxed a rough sketch to me two days after his funeral. This tat has been in the making for a while.
The outline is easy: a simple tombstone. It's the shadowing and mixing of the right shades of gray that take the longest. He takes a smoke break every 45 minutes or so. I burn with him, giving my hands a chance to stretch and work out the cramps.
He tears up when the buzzing stops, and he stands to inspect the finished product in the mirror. His fingers ghost over the curve of stone above his heart. "Thanks, man. Good work."
"Glad you like it." I extend my hand to shake. "I'm sorry for your loss."
He nods. "We'll talk about that Texas tat the next time I'm in town."
"Anytime." I follow him down the hall and out into the lobby. A young girl with long brown hair is staring at a frame filled with samples of butterfly tattoos. A woman who could be her twin, if not for a few signs of age, is standing behind her with her arms crossed loosely and a smile on her face. "Can I help you?" I ask.
The girl turns and wide, green eyes drop to take in my arms. She swallows and licks her lips. "I want a tattoo."
"Are you 18?" I glance at her first, then the woman behind her.
"For almost a week now. I was nervous, and I may have chickened out a few times," the girl says in a rush.
The woman behind her unfolds her arms and holds out a hand to shake mine. "Yes, I'm Tara, Lil's mom. This is her birthday gift."
"Cool mom." Lil blushes when I grin at her. "What are your favorite colors?"
"Purple, pink, and blue…"
"Follow me." I lead them to the front counter and step behind it to snatch a sketchpad. "Where are you getting it?"
"Um…" She glances down and tugs at her jeans. "On my ankle."
Butterflies are easy. I've probably averaged ten a month over the last eight years. But this is brand new to Lil. Her first tattoo. I want her to like it and hopefully not cover it someday.
By curling the wings forward and giving them pointed definition, the butterfly almost looks like a cuff bracelet.
"I love it," she says, running her finger over the drawing.
We settle on colors, and she brings her mom back with her. They talk and joke, pausing only when the gun comes to life. Lil winces for a few seconds when the needle touches her skin for the first time, but her mom keeps talking and takes her mind off of me.
Ozzy belts again from my phone across the room.
"I need a break," Lil says when I lean back after finishing the outline. "Just for a second. Can I have a Coke or something back here? Is that okay?"
I nod. "Sure. There's a machine in the lobby. Walk around for a few minutes if you need to."
I get rid of my gloves, grab my phone and my smokes, and hit the back door.
"I'm in Forks. Still no baby. I'll let you know if anything changes. Call me… if you want to. I have some big news. Maybe we can meet for breakfast. Well, if I'm not still here waiting on this stubborn kid to make an appearance. Just… call me, okay?"
"Damn that," I say to the wind and the dumpster behind the building.
Mick's girl shows up with a friend a few minutes before ten. We've got nothing on the books, and other than us and Star, the receptionist/piercer, the shop is empty. Tuesday nights aren't exactly high traffic in Port Angeles, so we call it and lock up.
"Come with us," Star says, pointing down the block to our usual bar. "We'll shoot some pool over a pitcher."
"Not tonight," I say. "My best friend is having a baby in Forks. I may spend the night at my folks'."
"See you tomorrow." Mick waves, and throws one arm over his girlfriend's shoulder and the other over her friend's.
The all-night Walmart sells flowers. Not big glorious arrangements with booties and storks and shit, but they have a small bundle of white blooms that'll work regardless of which type of junk this kid comes out with. There's a huge assortment of baby cards, but I settle on a blank one and scribble a quick message in it when I get back to the car.
The drive to Forks seems longer, with empty highway in all directions. No one coming. No one going. I'm not in the mood for reminiscing, so I settle for Bush and more recent tunes without attachments.
The phone lights up and vibrates a couple of times, but the only music is pouring through the car speakers. The hospital parking lot is packed. Edward's Dadmobile, some kind of Volvo SUV, is parked next to a minivan and Phil's Jag.
The waiting room in the maternity ward is full of nervous men. Edward's dad, Phil, and Charlie are all on their feet. Emmett is stretched out in a chair in the corner, with Lucky asleep on his chest and his feet propped on a second chair in front of him.
"Dude," he says as I sit down in the seat next to his. "You're right on time. They kicked us out of the birthing suite about five minutes ago."
I glance down at my watch. 11:45.
Bella might get her November baby after all.
It's another half hour before Alice pokes her head into the room. Phil, Charlie, and Carlisle all freeze and stare. "It's a girl," she says. "Nine pounds, three ounces. 20 1/2 inches long, and she has a head covered in thick, brownish-red hair."
"How's Bella?" Charlie asks.
"She's good. Hungry and exhausted, but good."
Phil pats him on the back in congratulations.
"I'll be back to get you guys when Bella's ready for visitors," Alice says, letting her gaze settle on me. "You're going to love this kid. She's beautiful."
"Hey, Alice…" She stares, and for a second, the cool gray-blue of her eyes feels like a skip in time. "Did she make it before midnight?"
She shakes her head with a smile. "12:03"
"You won," Phil says to me. "The only other guess for December was Jake and his bet was 3:30."
"Sweet. How big is the pot?"
"300," Carlisle answers.
"Use it to pick up some diapers for the new parents," I say. "I hear that shit is expensive."
"You heard right," Emmett says.
A half hour goes by before the doors open again. This time, it's Edward. His shirt is wrinkled and untucked, and I'm not sure I've ever seen his hair so fucked up. His cheeks and eyes are pink, but it's obvious from the gigantic smile on his face that the tear tracks are happy ones.
He hones in on Lucky the moment he walks into the room. Emmett stands up, passes Lucky over to his dad, and asks what we're all thinking. "How are they?"
Edward grins and hefts Lucky higher onto his shoulder. "Good. Really good." He taps Lucky's back with his hand. "Lucky." He shakes him gently. "Lucky, wake up."
"Daddy?" Lucky lifts his head long enough to blink, and then he rests it against Edward's neck.
"Yeah, buddy. Wake up. Two is finally here."
The kid's whole body goes rigid for a second, and then he's on the ground before I can even blink, pulling Edward by the hand. "Where is he?" he asks. "Is he with Mommy in that other room with the TV?"
"Slow down, buddy. Wait just a second." Edward stops, halting Lucky in his tracks. "Two is a girl, not a boy."
Charlie covers his mouth next to me, but I can see the smile he's trying to hide. Emmett and I stand back, out of the way with Carlisle, and we all wait for it to register with Lucky. When it does, his eyes widen and he scoffs.
"A girl?" He looks up at his dad. "What are we gonna do with a girl?"
Edward drops down to one knee and tugs Lucky closer. "I guess we'll teach her to make pancakes with us and hope she's not as good at video games as Mommy."
"Can I see her?"
Lucky nods. "And Mommy."
We follow them down a short hall and into a huge room. There's a hospital bed on one side, with a couch and small dining table with chairs in the far corner. Bella is sitting up, wrapped in a fuzzy robe that obviously came from home and a blanket pulled up to her waist. She's holding the baby in one arm, but that doesn't stop her from reaching for Lucky with her other arm when Edward lifts him onto the bed next to her.
"Hey, little man," she says, touching her forehead to his. "This is your sister, Holly."
Renee and Esme wave us closer. Charlie and Carlisle take tiny steps, and edge closer to the bed to try to get a peek at their newest grandchild while still letting Bella and Edward have their first moment with both of their kids. Before I've even realized what I'm doing, I've stepped in right behind them to stare down at Holly's tiny face. Her eyes are closed, and her hair is covered with a small pink and blue striped hat.
Alice's hand touches mine; soft fingers searching at first and then sliding against my palm until we're holding onto each other. "She went into labor while they were decorating the house for Christmas," she says, leaning in close to whisper the words against my ear. "Then the baby took her sweet time and waited for a December birthday. You know Bella and her signs."
We let the immediate family shuffle us out of the way and take seats at the table in the corner.
"Were you in here when it happened?" I ask.
"Every minute." She smiles. "It was amazing… and really fucking gross."
We laugh, and for that moment, it's easy.
Easy to forget that I'm mad at her. Easy to see why I've missed her so much during the rare moments I've let her cross my mind over the years. Easy to see how I could love her again.
When the laughter stops and the silence sets in, she sighs. "I'm starving. Charlie isn't going to give Holly up for a while. Do you… The diner is still open."
I worked through dinner, and my own stomach has rumbled more than once since I've been here. "Let me congratulate Bella, and we'll go."
Lucky has ditched the bed to follow Charlie and his sister to the couch, so it's easy to get to Bella.
"Hey," she says, resting against the pillows and angled bed behind her. "Thanks for the flowers."
"Right." I hold them out and set them on the table beside her. "You're welcome. You did a good job, mama. She's beautiful."
"Lucky doesn't think so," she laughs. "He called her squishy-looking. But thanks. I think she's pretty perfect."
Bella yawns, and Edward leans over her in the bed. "Are you okay? Do you want me to kick everybody out?" he asks, voice lowered but serious.
"I'm fine. They don't have to go. They've been waiting as long as we have for this kid to get here. Let them enjoy her."
He kisses her forehead, and it's the perfect chance to make an exit. "Alice and I are starving. We're going to hit the diner, but I'm sure she'll be back tomorrow."
"I'll probably come and see you next week at the shop," Edward says. "Have you ever done footprint tattoos?" He holds up a white paper with a tiny footprint on it. "I have Lucky's at home. If you can do it, I think I want his here." He points to his inner forearm, right below his elbow. "And hers here," he says, pointing to the patch above his wrist.
"I've seen it, but I've never done one. Let me call a friend in Portland and get back to you, okay? If I can't do it, I'll refer you to him, because I know he can."
He nods. "Cool. Thanks for coming by, man."
Normally, he'd shake, but he doesn't move away from Bella any more than he has to. Alice stops to talk to Charlie for a second and then joins me to say goodbye. "I'll see you guys in the morning," she says to Bella. "Any special requests?"
"I'd kill for one of those fried egg and bacon biscuits from the gas station…"
"You got it," Alice promises.
We walk out together with our hands in our coat pockets and silence in the air between us. She stops next to a black Nissan rental. "This is me," she says. "I'll meet you there."
A cold drizzle begins before we get out of the parking lot. It's not enough to make the streets bad, just enough to coat our jackets and hair with a mist as we make our way into the diner.
"Brrrr," she says, pulling off her damp coat just inside the door. The sleeve of her blue and white plaid flannel slips enough to reveal the black tank beneath and red roses on her shoulder. "I'd forgotten how cold it gets here." She hangs her coat on the rack by the door and turns to wait for me. Her hair is pulled high on her head in a ponytail, but chunks have escape to frame her face and tickle her neck.
"What's this?" I ask, pushing the shirt back and over her arm to reveal two revolvers, wrapped in stems and blossoms.
It's not a headstone or the freedom of a new set of wings. It's tethers and thorns, sweetness and color. Appropriate since I'd take a bullet for her, let her prick me over and over, and keep coming back for more.
"Do you like it?" she asks. "It's us."
"Yes." She turns, walks to our old favorite booth, and slides in just like old times.
I follow like I always have.
We order and sit, staring at each other until she decides to talk. "I haven't been fair to you these past few days." She winces and picks up her silverware, tugging on the paper tab keeping it wrapped in the napkin. "Or ever, really."
"If this is another consolation talk, tell me now so I can leave and save us both the trouble. I don't think we should be friends anymore, Alice. I can't. It…" I stop to scrub my hand over my jaw, trying to force out the words. "It fucks me up in the head."
She drops the fork and knife to the table, and stares down. "I get it," she says. "It's been fucking with my head, too. But you're all I think about. For years."
"That's not fair. You left."
"I know," she says. "I fucked it up. I did that, and then it was too late to come home. Everything was wrong, and I didn't know how to fix it."
"Doesn't seem like much has changed." I reach for my coat. This is pointless.
"Can we get those orders to go?" Alice says, catching my attention.
Our passing waitress nods and makes a beeline for the kitchen.
"Will you just come with me for a few minutes? There's something I want to show you."
"I don't think it will make a difference."
I nod, lean back in my seat, and pull out my phone to check a few missed texts from Mick. When our order is ready, I pick up the check and carry the food out to her car.
"Follow me," she says.
I wait for her to back out first and then follow as promised. It's obvious after two turns that we're going to the house she grew up in. I could get here blindfolded, sleep-driving, with one hand tied behind my back.
She parks in the driveway and motions for me to take the spot behind hers. She waits for me, holding two white sacks from the diner and shivering in the rain.
"Hurry. I'm freezing." Alice's voice is small compared to the deep barking in the background.
Confused, I follow her to the porch. Jeanette moved out of this place years ago when she married Charlie. She never had a dog, though. Not that I remember.
Alice slides a key into the lock and pushes the door open. A hundred times I've watched her do this, but this moment feels impossible. Panic and dread mix in my gut, but I keep moving and follow her into the house.
I expect the old, green couch we used to watch TV on and the coffee table where I'd toss the remote when we gave up on the screen to make out.
I'm met with a giant golden retriever and dozens of boxes in an otherwise empty room.
The dog growls at me until Alice brings him over to let him check me out. "This is Tug," she says. "He won't bite. Just give him a minute."
"This is your dog."
She pushes one of those lose bunches of hair behind her ear and nods. "Yeah. He's my dog. I dropped him off here before I went to the hospital." She waves at the boxes. "This is my stuff. It's been here for a few days."
"I… This… You live here?"
"I closed on the house in Mississippi the day after Thanksgiving." She shrugs and holds my gaze. "I listed it two weeks ago. I didn't expect things to happen so fast. I had to pack and take care of a million loose ends." She takes a step forward and puts both of her hands on my chest. "But I'm here. And that's got to count for something."
"Please tell me it makes a difference," she says. "I just want a chance. I want to go on dates with you and hang out with you and do absolutely nothing like we used to. It has to make a difference."
I didn't ask for this.
She did it on her own; gave up her job, her life, and her house to come back.
"Yeah." I lean forward until we're eye level. "It does."
Her eyes drop to my lips, and she licks hers. One step forward and she's in my arms, pressing her body into mine and dropping tiny kisses on my neck. Helpless, I pull her closer and rest my hand at the back of her head.
"I'm sorry," she says.
None of the things she could be apologizing for matter now. I could have gotten on a plane and gone with her ten years ago. I could've flown to Mississippi nine years ago when she said she wasn't coming home. Or any other random day since.
I've been as pissed at myself as I have been at her.
"It's okay," I say, pulling back enough to speak against her mouth. She kisses the next words off my lips, gentle at first until I rub my thumb over her cheek. The sacks hit the ground. Her nails scrape my scalp.
She tastes like coffee and mint in a room that smells like dust and VHS tapes. We played house here when we were teenagers, even lost our virginities to each other right down the hall. And here we are again.
A/N – Thanks for reading, guys. :)