Disclaimer: Please see first chapter for disclaimer.
A/N: I don't think I could ever say how much I appreciate the support, encouragement and enthusiasm I received for this series. I have loved reading all your feedback. I never expected it to be so well liked, or for it to even become what it is today. But without all your reviews and hits, I don't think it would have come so far, or helped me so much.
All I can do, is say a massive thank you and dedicate this to you all. I hope it's worth it :) And huggles to everyone. Especially to the people who know who they are. :)
Thank You so much to: GeekdomBeckons-88, Moonlight Silhouette, ekmemerald, Satellite Falling, LossOfSurroundings, Hot n' Exotic, Meg, Chaika2000, Hikari Reizumi, literatefanatic27, yamihoole, ChestnutBrumby, PiescesHateScorpios, hp-dude-4life, jennygirl555, Marien Volturi, Lucy, Gamegirl24, Chaika2000, Josephus of the Furlings, Kayhuahua, Trisha, Jessica, grr., literayrose, 9, xxbabyxox, Rhina, egotisticallychallengedpenguin, writingismylife1, Impulsive-Rose, ., twilightlover2theextreme, rezmutt, No Name Found, SB, smgirl, spunkygirl517, Jazzy, I want to be Jesse's girl, twilightrox2201.
And to all the people who read, alerted, faved one or all of this series and myself - Thank You! :) I hope you enjoy this last chapter...
Recap: Jesse takes Suze to the Winter Formal. Ending in a perfect night for both of them...
I spent the next day and a half, confined to a hospital bed with the doctors and nurses fussing around me. Taking tests, drawing blood, anything they needed. I'm sure I was supposed to be fed up and frustrated with being poked and prodded. Not to mention the weird looks I was getting off of them as they went about their duties with me.
But I found I didn't care. I didn't think I really had the right to. So I happily put up with their questions and their tests over the time that I was in the hospital. Because it always honed in the fact, something I was still having trouble getting my mind around.
That I was alive.
I was used to the looks of speculation and disbelief I was receiving. Their wonder of how I had come back from the brink of death. If only they knew. But all I could do was look back with a smile, I found increasingly hard to banish those first couple of days. And I found I didn't want to either. It was all so new to me. A million sensations and feelings coursing through me again, so long forgotten, I didn't know how to process them.
But still I couldn't complain. Because the wonder and disbelief I was still feeling at discovering I could once again live, was a constant humming through me. I found myself staring in the washroom mirror more times than I could count. Looking back at a face that is so familiar but new. I had a reflection before. But that seemed dull and dim compared to how I saw myself now, as I would let my eyes trace all over my features.
Seeing the dog bite scar through my eyebrow that Susannah always liked to trace with her finger. My dark black eyes were looking back with the same amount of happiness and overwhelming wonder. My same dark hair, thick and wavy. I didn't know what I was looking for, but I found myself expecting there to be something different about me. But I couldn't seem to be able to get a grasp on it.
My voice even seemed different to me. Just like everything around me. I happily made conversation with anyone who was attending to me. Enjoying actually being able to. Asking question after question of the equipment and tests they were performing. Asking why they needed them, how they worked, what they would show. I was so full of enthusiasm; it took a while for it to be subdued.
Susannah spent the majority of the day with me, the Sunday I woke to a whole new life. She never strayed too far from my bedside and I found I couldn't let go of her hand when she was near. The thought that this could still be a dream and I would wake soon, aching and lonely for what I thought I couldn't have. Having Susannah's warm hand in mine - or her held close to me - helped to banish away the last lingering fear that this was just a cruel joke.
She in turn couldn't stop smiling and looking into my eyes. A pleasant and humbling distraction I found too. She kept shaking her head and claiming she couldn't believe it. That she was having trouble getting used to being able to feel the pulse in my palm, or the deep and steady breathing filling our silence. Voicing and sharing my own thoughts and sentiments, like she so often does. I often caught myself lifting my hand to see the dark tanned flesh. Expecting my eyes to adjust and see the familiar aura and glow I used to give off.
I laughed each time I realized what I was doing.
But when I was alone, I would lift my hand to my heart, feeling and amazing in the strong, slow and steady thump I could feel against my palm. Often sitting there for minutes, counting the steady beat. My smile growing with power each time.
Food was a delicacy I found hard to adjust to. Having not had to worry about eating for a century and a half, I found myself ravenous with hunger when I would wake from the exhaustion my body was constantly assaulting me with. Susannah and Father Dominic brought in food that was more delectable than the bland tasting cuisine the hospital tried to feed me.
I had to take my time, enjoying as much as my stomach would let me eat. This unfortunately, wasn't too much. I could only eat small morsels at a time. My body craving more, but my mind telling a different opinion. I knew it would take some time for them both to become in sync again. Patience I could happily wait for.
Susannah unfortunately wasn't there with me when I was able to leave the hospital due to having to go back to school the next day, with much grumbling and muttering. I knew she wanted to stay longer and be with me as much as possible. I too wanted that, but we had all the time we wanted together now. And I told her as much.
I received a kiss that I felt down deep to my soul in reward. Father Dominic asked why I was so happy when he came in after. I had no intelligent answer for him though. I was still reeling from the sparks flashing before my eyes and in my mind, to have even tried. But he did keep me company as much as it was permitted.
In the time that I had been asleep - my body tired and worn - Susannah and Father Dominic had come up with many questions and solutions as to what was to happen now. The problems being of where I was to live. What I was to do about money. Education, work. But thankfully, fate seemed to have been on my side, and Father Dominic was busy for the duration of my stay, helping me to solve such problems. Going so far as to ease my mind and settle any concerns I had, with what now.
So by the time I was allowed to leave the hospital, the day after I had been admitted - near death and comatose - the doctors had released me. Finding no explanation or theories for the sudden turnabout I had done. Of the sudden and miraculous health improvement that had only been improving quicker and quicker over my short stay. They had shook my hand and wished me luck.
Something I gladly took, but didn't believe I would need.
I was alive again. I didn't think I could get any luckier than that. With Susannah and Father Dominic to help me, I felt the luckiest man in the world. I prayed and graciously thanked the fates for seeing fit to have given me such a wish and a dream. I had no words to express how thankful I was for all that had been granted on me. Of the new life bestowed and the love I couldn't live without.
So it was with light steps and a smile that could outshine the sun, that I walked free of the hospital that day. Stepping out into the world I could be amongst and relish in. No longer having to stand on the edge, watching and wishing I was with them. Taking part in the world and being given the choice to make a difference. To myself, no longer having to be happy with all I had.
I felt as if I was the given all that some could only dream for.
My enthusiasm seemed to have been infectious, judging from the smile on Father Dominic's face that day. Leading me to my new home, new chance and a new life.
When it had become abundantly clear we didn't have much time to find me a home, Father Dominic had taken it upon himself to do just that. And his hard work and persistence had paid off. In only a short time and lot of luck, he had found me a home of my own. Somewhere that wasn't lavish or large. But was mine for the time being. A place to call my own. I didn't care how little or big it was, I was just glad to be out of the hospital and able to get to grips with my new life.
So much was different from when I had been alive before. So much had changed and evolved. And I wanted to be a part of it. I wanted to be out there, joining in and looking forward. I knew it would take time to learn the new ways. To blend in and take stock of everything. But like everything else to come my way, I happily did so.
When we had arrived at my new apartment, Father Dominic showed me around, telling me what was what and how to use certain things. I humored him and walked around behind him, a small smile on my face as he informed me. I hadn't been sitting around doing nothing for the past century and a half. I already knew most - if not all - he had told me.
Unfortunately Father Dominic - quick man that he is - caught on and just gave me an amused and embarrassed smile in return. We didn't stay in my new home long though. The next problem we had to take care of was clothes. I had received some peculiar looks as I had passed people in the hospital and on the way up to my new apartment. Dressed in 19th century attire, apparently wasn't the norm around here. So purchasing some new clothes - thankfully - would alleviate me of the un-comfortableness I felt, walking around and standing out so much.
Going to the local 'mall' was an experience in itself. I could understand why Susannah disliked it so much. The hustle and bustle and energy flying around was overwhelming and distracting. New sights, new sounds, new smells. All assaulted me as soon as I entered the large area. Father Dominic smirked at my look crossing between awe and bewilderment. Thankfully, I was too distracted by my new surroundings to take notice of the strange looks I was receiving as I passed people.
Father Dominic had led me to a men's clothing store and had strolled straight in. Leaving me standing at the door looking perplexed and only a tiny bit terrified. I had no idea what to look for, what to find. But again, Father Dominic noticed my discomfort with the unfamiliar situation and surroundings and soon helped me.
I made a silent pact to make sure I paid Father Dominic back in kind one day. To replace the money for the apartment, the clothes the food. Everything he had had to pay for me. But never had I been so grateful to have Father Dominic in my life, as I was the days that followed my recovery.
It was a long while after, that we finally left the mall and the frantic energy behind. I gladly did so, feeling the first stirrings of exhaustion and fatigue pulling me down after an eventful day. But there was only one stop left before I could leave and go home.
I needed to stock the cupboards and the refrigerator. Although right then, I didn't want to be anywhere but asleep. But knowing I had no other choice, and the knowledge that Father Dominic needed to return back to school the next day - after already using the day we had as an emergency holiday - I put my exhaustion aside and continued on with Father Dominic.
That alone, was another experience in itself. There was so much choice; I didn't know what to choose. But with a little prodding and poking, Father Dominic soon had a cart full of products, which would keep me going for a while. I was exciting but tremulous at all the new situations I had to learn now. I couldn't help but hope I would settle into them easily though.
By the time we had arrived back at the apartment with my new clothes and shopping, I was more than ready to let my body have the rest it so sorely cried for. I thanked Father Dominic profusely, for his time, his loyalty, his money and his friendship. And much to my surprise, he pulled me into a hug, words apparently robbed of him as his eyes glistened with tears.
It wasn't until the next day that I saw Susannah again. My exhaustion and tiredness was so great, I found myself sleeping right through the evening and into the next day. My body was screaming for rest, the past few days catching up to me. Apparently the act of one's body, nearly dying and having your soul pulled back into its vessel, left a mind and body drained and weary. But I was eagerly ready to face the world again, and to have Susannah by my side every step of the way.
I had met her at school at the end of the day, watching as she enthusiastically made her way over to me. The biggest brightest smile I had ever seen on her face. I swung her into my arms, feeling they had been devoid and empty without her long enough. She took in my new appearance, a small smile of disbelief in her eyes and on her beautiful face. I couldn't help but respond much the same.
It felt strange, dressed in jeans and a tee-shirt. I chose the clothes I liked the best and felt the most comfortable in. It would take getting used to, wearing something other than what I had been the past hundred and fifty years. But like everything else, it was something I was happy to discover and learn.
We walked down to a place called the 'Coffee Clutch'. Somewhere Susannah said she visited often with her friends, CeeCee and Adam. I had been looking forward to being able to meet them properly too. Finally being able to take part in their conversation, rather than sitting by and listening. Only being able to have Susannah aware of my presence with them.
I knew what I was missing when I was a ghost. I knew of the sacrifices I had been placing on Susannah in order for us to be together. Of the normalcy she was deprived. And as guilty as I had felt in order for her to not have that. There was a selfish part that didn't want to let her go. And I had clung onto the hope that one day; it would turn out right for us both. I had just never expected it to be this way, or to have my prayers answered.
But I planned on enjoying moments like this, and using them to the fullest, for as long as I could. And so, for the first time, I took great joy in being the one who was able to buy Susannah whatever she wanted.
Slater's words threatened to echo around my mind, but they held no weight now. His words he had thrown at me that night, of the little and big moments I couldn't take part in with Susannah. The memory of his words could fly through my thoughts as much as they wanted. I refused to listen to them. Because they were meaningless to me now.
I could take part in these moments. Create these small memories, gazing at my love across the table, sitting in a room full of strangers. I could hold her hand between us and let her tell me all about her day at school. Because it didn't look as if she was talking to nothing. As though she were having a conversation with thin air. I could meet her family and take her to the dance that weekend. An event that would be flooded with people she went to school with. Where we could dance and laugh and ignore everyone else if we wanted and only have each other.
But most of all, I could finally give her all that she deserves, dreams and wishes for. Sentiments I had only ever wanted for Susannah. But even better, was that I could share them with her now.
It was that thought alone that made me raise her hand clasped in my own and kiss her fingers. Happiness and love shining through my eyes and all for mi querida, sitting before me. It was enough to make tears spring to her eyes.
Susannah and I had spent as much time as we could together those first few days. At least as much as her mother and step-father would allow her. We would either spend our time in my new home, talking about the future and how we were going to pave our way for it. Or going for walks and enjoying our time together. It wasn't the same as lying on her roof and watching the stars.
But in a lot of ways, it was so much better.
Getting used to living alone had been a little harder than I had first believed it to be. I was so deeply grateful and thankful to have been given this opportunity, I didn't wish for any of it to have been taken away. It even gave me a whole new view on how I saw the world around me. How different and sometimes difficult it could be.
But sometimes, in the still of the night, memories and images would come to mind. Dreams that pulled me in so deep and far, I would wake gasping and sweating. The faint traces of emotions that would linger around me until the sun had risen made me wonder if they would ever disperse. If the dreams or nightmares would ever retreat.
But it was always the single thought that would rise unbidden to my mind, which put me at ease and helped me to cope. That it had only been a week since everything had changed so drastically and fast. I just needed time. Something I thought I would always have plentiful of, but was willing to accept anyway. My mind and body were still learning. I had been through something no-one could ever think to compare their experiences too.
I knew with patience and Susannah there to help me, I would pass this phase and be able to fully enjoy my new life again. It was just the backlash and consequences, which came with coming back from the half-life I had been living in for so long. Of the rut and routine, I had been thrown from.
It would be mornings like that, when I would wake before the sun had risen and sleep would evade me that I would find myself at the beach. Losing myself in a past time so familiar and comforting, I didn't ever wish to lose it. I would watch the sun rise over the horizon. Watching it through new eyes and sensations. It's burning strength and intensity clearing away the fog that clung to the world and me around it. The waves beating on the sand before me, the cold breeze whispering over my skin, making it tingle and shiver. I would take my shoes off and roll my pant legs up, boldly walking forth to the water and letting it freeze my feet in the sand.
But I didn't care that the water was so cold, that it stung and left my feet red and freezing to the touch. Because they were all signs that I was alive. All proof that I really could feel it. That the fog, clinging to everything around me, left my hair damp and my arms to break out into Goosebumps. That the gritty sand stuck to my cold feet and was everywhere, no matter what you did to get rid of it.
Because it always came back to the same thing.
I never told Susannah about my dreams and nightmares. I wanted to keep it to myself. I wanted to prove to my own mind, that I could overcome it. That it was a minor problem that I refused to let get out of control, or let it take advantage of me. I had had so much help given to me over such a short time that I wanted something to keep for myself. To prove I could do it. That with a new life, came weaknesses, I could overcome alone.
I knew if I couldn't now, that I never would. There were some things, Susannah could help with. Moments I would want and need her help. But not now and certainly not yet. My pride had already taken a hit and blow. I wanted to hold to what I had left with as much dignity as possible.
Some things are just too ingrained in me and hard to change. And this was one of them.
One thing I knew that would help me recover my pride was when I had a vocation of my own. An income made of my own time and efforts. A way for me to support myself and not have to rely on Father Dominic or others to do it for me. I already felt guilty of the time and money he had put into helping me get on my feet. I didn't wish to take anymore than I already had.
So it was with great hope and luck that Father Dominic had been setting out to help me with finding a job for myself. Education would have to come later. There were tests I needed to do, before I could start to apply for any kind of education or fund to support me in that endeavour. But I was happy to wait. Just getting to grips with the new ways and life I had just been given, was going to take a while.
One that I couldn't help but look forward to. No matter how hard and frustrating it may have seemed sometimes.
Susannah understood this and voiced her support and help as much as she possible could. I wondered if I would have been able to cope as much as I had, if it were not for Susannah there to help and push me along. But then again, I wouldn't be alive or given such a gift, if it wasn't for Susannah either.
I never failed to look upon Susannah without awe and love now. Where before it was tamed and gentle. It didn't matter how happy I felt, or tired I was. I always made sure I looked upon Susannah with the weight and intensity I was feeling. I knew there would never be enough thank you's, or words to ever say how much I knew it took for her to do what she did. Or how happy I was that she had.
But it didn't mean I couldn't show her.
It was mind blowing to get my mind around being alive again. But it was just as overwhelming to remember all that she had done for me. The sacrifices, heartache and will she put forth, to have tried and given me the chance.
When we had been alone together in the days following my release from the hospital and onto the world, Susannah had told me of what had happened in the past. Speaking of when she had first met me. How I had found her bound and gagged in the hayloft, and threatened to have the culprit of such a heinous crime committed on her, horsewhipped.
I witnessed the shadow pass her eyes when she spoke of trying to convince me that she was there to save me. To stop Diego from killing me, as was supposed to have happened. I felt my anger boil and simmer when she came to tell me of the fight to the death between myself and Diego. Of the dirty underhanded tricks he tried by pulling a knife and holding it to Susannah's throat.
The only thing that stopped me from cursing him was that I did save her. Or more specifically, the past me.
Susannah had gone on to mention of the fire that had broken out in the hayloft they were all occupying. Of the wall of flames that had cut Susannah off from Slater and me. Of her dazed and happy state when she thought I was going to be able to live. In that time line at least.
When she had told me of the leap through the fire I had done, to help her on the other side, with no way out for both of us; I swelled with pride. That no matter what life or time line I happen to be in, I was still protective and concerned for Susannah. That I would try as much as possible to save her, even at the risk of my own life. I suspected I may have known it went deeper than that, but Susannah never mentioned it if I had of asked.
I understood there would be some moments between past me and Susannah that she wouldn't want to tell me. I let her have her secrets; just as I had mine own.
She had continued on to tell me of the escape they had quickly tried to work. Of the leap they had taken from the burning inferno trapping them. Of the terror she felt for me and herself. Leading to Susannah quickly 'shifting' back to the present, still wrapped in my arms and thus leading to this conclusion we were at now.
Susannah, despite seeing and knowing of the outcome of that moment, I knew still felt some guilt over the way it had happened. Of the near brush we had come, of having to say goodbye. The heartbreaking moment I had experienced in the basilica, was a subject of many of my nightmares. No matter how much I reassured myself with Susannah's touch and presence, I knew it was going to take effort on both sides to help each other move past that and look forward.
It was the comfort of knowing we didn't have to do it alone, that was the first large step in doing so.
This was why I was standing before Susannah's house right now. Looking up at the home that had once been a boarding house and the scene of my murder. A murder that never actually happened. A death Susannah had selflessly saved me from. I let the smile spread across my face at that mind blowing thought. Before I put it in the back of my thoughts. Determined to enjoy the evening that meant so much to Susannah. And so in turn, meant a lot to me.
Now if only I could have found the courage to walk up those porch steps and meet her family – properly – for the first time. I couldn't deny I was nervous. I willed my hands not to shake and to make my feet move. All the while I felt my nerves soaring up my arms.
"Nombre de Dios," I quietly muttered to myself. "You killed your would be murderer. How terrifying could meeting Susannah's parents be?"
Even though technically, I had already met her father. That was an experience that was only surpassed by having to meet an unknowing Father Dominic at the time. But was also someone I had come to like and was so grateful beyond words to have met.
With that thought firmly in mind, knowing that I owed it to Susannah to overcome this nerve-wracking moment. And just like I had previous times in the past, I took one last glance at the window with the seat I occupied for so long, in Susannah's room and I climbed the porch stairs. Taking a deep breath with a strong and confident expression, I knocked on the door.
It was answered quite quickly. Not giving me much time to prepare myself as I had hoped. As if the other person had been waiting behind the door for me. But thankfully, it was David who answered, greeting me with a large smile and enthusiastic welcome.
"Hi!" He beamed. "You must be Jesse? It's great to meet you." He gestured for me to step inside the door, quickly swinging it closed behind him as he looked up at me. "I'm David." He stuck his hand out for me to shake, his smile never wavering and speaking before I had the chance to answer.
I found his enthusiasm hard to ignore and felt my own smile spread across my face. "It's nice to meet you too, David," I replied in kind, gripping his hand in a strong but reassuring shake. "Susannah has told me a lot about you."
"She has?" He cried. And much to my amusement, blushed. He walked me into the living room from the foyer, his grin growing with what I had just told him. "Wow."
Just as he was about to open his mouth to say something else, Susannah's mother came up to us, addressing David before she turned to me. "Can you go and tell Suze her dates here, please David," Letting him bound off in the direction of the stairs. "And don't call up the stairs, go and knock on her door."
Finally turning to me, Susannah's mother stuck her own hand out for me to take. I willed my own to stop shaking before I took the offering welcome. "I'm Helen," She said, sizing me up with her piercing glance. "Suze's mom."
I took her hand, trying not to shrink beneath her gaze. "Jesse, ma'am," I replied, proud that my voice wasn't showing any of the nervous energy inside me. "It's nice to meet you."
She nodded at me, releasing my hand and gestured behind her at Susannah's brother on the couch; looking grumpy and miserable. "This is Brad," She said. "Suze's step-brother." Indicating for him to come and greet me properly.
I got a grunt and half-hearted wave before he got up off the couch, heading out of the room with a passing call behind him. "I'm goin' to play Snowboard," He informed us and disappeared through to the den.
Susannah's mother sighed at his retreating back, turning back to me as I heard David stomping back down the stairs, Max close on his heels. "I'm sorry about him," She grimaced. "He's grounded and isn't happy because he can't go to the dance."
"It's all right," I smiled in understanding, something telling me I never would get on with him anyway. "No offence taken." She nodded at me, opening her mouth to say something else, but David beat her to it, practically jumping around me and chatting animatedly. Making it hard for me to keep up with his rapid fire speech.
"I told Suze you're here," He said, grinning and reaching down to pet Max at his feet. "This is our dog, Max."
"Thank you," I said and bent down to pat Max on the head and scratch his ears. Grateful for the distraction of having to make polite conversation with Susannah's mother. But I looked up when Susannah's stepfather came into the room, a large smile on his face as he walked over to greet me.
"Hi," He beamed much like David had. "I'm Andy, Suze's step-dad." I shook his outstretched hand, finding him a lot more comfortable to be around than Susannah's mother. Shrinking under her parental scrutiny of me.
"Jesse," I said, smiling in return. "It's nice to meet you." I was starting to hope Susannah would be down the stairs to relieve me soon. I didn't know how long I could keep my nervous fidgeting withheld.
"Oh," He suddenly exclaimed, an excited look coming to his face. "Maybe you could try something for me." Before I had a chance to ask what, he had turned around and strode back into the kitchen from where he came from. Humming and with a light and happy step.
I went to ask, but Susannah's mother beat me to it. "He's probably going to make you try his new sauce he's been making all evening," She said well naturedly, rolling her eyes at his enthusiasm. "He likes to hear new opinions instead of the same old remarks he gets from us. You don't have to try it, he won't be offended."
"Oh," I chuckled, thankful for a way out. "Thank you."
"Come and sit down," David enthusiastically told me, pulling on my arm and leading me over to one their armchairs situated in the living room. I threw an expectant look to the stairs, still hoping Susannah would appear and help me.
I sat on the arm of the chair instead, ready to stand as quick as possible if needed. Max was following close behind, sniffing around me, trying to push his nose into inappropriate places. David meanwhile, was talking a mile a minute about a show on the Discovery channel he watched the other night. I was having trouble understanding what he was saying and keeping up with him. The only word I caught during his ramblings was aeronautics.
I tried to root through my own knowledge of something to say in return, but I kept coming up with nothing.
Susannah's stepfather had come back into the room finally, carrying a spoon filled with some kind of green substance. I didn't look like any kind of sauce I had ever seen. He made a bee-line for me, making me gaze at his sauce warily.
"Andy," Susannah's mother suddenly spoke up from her examination of the camera she held in her hand. Speaking before Andy had the opportunity to. "Leave the young man alone. I don't think it would pay for him to show up at a dance, with green . . . err . . . goo, all over his tux." She pinned him with a pointed stare making him retract his spoon from me. "And I won't stand in the way of Susie's wrath if you were to, either."
I held back the chuckle rising in my throat. A sound I'm sure that would of sounded more broken than humorous. But I couldn't help the relief to flow through me at having an accident diverted. I wanted this night to be as perfect for Susannah as possible. And arriving with a horrid green stain on my monkey suit wouldn't be the best start.
Sighing, Susannah's mother walked over to the stairs, calling for her daughter. "Suze!" She stopped, listening out for her reply before calling for her again. "Suze!" I smiled at her impatience and turned back to listening to David, even though I didn't think I had heard any of his explanation. If he had noticed, he certainly didn't say.
"Why don't you come for dinner tomorrow night, Jesse?" Andy cut in, interrupting David fluidly, which in turn, looked back to me with a hopeful smile. "We can get to know you a little better."
"Thank you, sir," I said, my voice coming out stronger than I felt. "I'd be happy to join your family for dinner."
He nodded with a pleased smile. Susannah often spoke of her step-fathers culinary skills. I was looking forward to buying my own cooing books. To see what talents I had myself in the kitchen. There were so many things I wanted to learn now; I wasn't sure where to begin.
David jumped back into his explanation of his programme and was only interrupted by the sound of the front door slamming, followed by Jake with his arms full of thick textbooks. They looked ready to spill onto the floor, but he managed to catch himself before that happened.
"Jake, come and meet Suze's date," Andy called out, gesturing for Jake to come over from his direction towards the stairs. "This is Jesse," He smiled, indicating for him to give me a proper welcome.
"Wha 'sup, man," He looked back to his dad, looking tired as he always did. "I'll be in my room." And then he turned with one last nod in my direction and set off up the stairs.
"Suze!" Susannah's mother called again. A final note in her tone. I heard a faint voice respond, but I was too busy trying to keep up with David and to keep Max away from me.
Just as I was about to ask David to help me remove Max from his inspection of me, he suddenly stopped talking. His voice trailing off at the end into a whisper and his eyes widening to new limits with a smile spreading across his young freckled face. Making Andy and Susannah's mother look up at the direction David was looking, halting in whatever they were doing to see what had made him so speechless and stop his rapid speech. Causing us all to become aware of the sudden quiet to have come over the room.
I was the last to raise my head and look to the stairs.
But what I saw, took my breath away.
Susannah stood on the landing separating the stairs. A platform for her to stand on and show off the beautiful and angelic sight she made. She stood before us, her dress shimmering in the soft light, with her shawl wrapped across her back, accentuating the design of the dress that clung to Susannah's slender form and flowed around her ankles. She looked breathtaking and so beautiful; I found words completely devoid of me.
When my eyes finally connected with her own, I saw she had been waiting for me to notice her. Waiting for my reaction. And judging from the timid smile and the blush to dust her cheeks, it was a worthy one.
I gave her the smile that she knew I only reserved for her. A secret moment and action that spoke volumes of my love, affection and devotion to her. Of how beautiful she was to me, without being able to say the words.
"Oh, Susie," Susannah's mother said, lifting the camera she had been having trouble with since she had retrieved it and took a photo of the stunning girl before us all. "You look beautiful." I couldn't help but share her mother's sentiments and let my smile broaden at Susannah's flushed cheeks.
Before any of us knew what was happening, Andy strode forward, spoon full of green substance still in hand and raised it for Susannah to try.
At least he tried before Susannah's mother stopped him again. This times her voice issuing a threat to be carried out on him, by her. "Andy, don't you go near her with that stuff while she's in that dress." She sternly warned him.
Susannah smiled at Andy's slightly sulky look and looked back to me to see my own grin I couldn't wipe away. I didn't want to either. I hadn't managed to take my eyes away from Susannah yet. I found I couldn't. But it wasn't exactly a hardship to have to bear though. I couldn't wait to see the moonlight illuminating Susannah in my arms. I could imagine the soft ethereal blue her dress would shine to.
"So," Susannah asked casually, although I could tell she was just as nervous and excited as I was. "I see you've met Jesse."
Andy quickly turned to go back to the kitchen with his spoon, throwing an, "He'll do." over his shoulder. I fought to hold back the chuckle rising in my throat at his display. Knowing he was putting it on for Susannah's sake. When in all actuality, he was nothing but nice and welcoming to me.
"So nice to meet you," Susannah's mother said to me again. A genuine smile lighting her features. I knew she had witnessed the shared smile and connection between Susannah and me. I had caught a quick glimpse of her own whimsical one before she spoke again. "Now come down here, I want to get your picture together."
I got up from my perch on the armrest, waiting for Susannah to glide over to me. With a hand to her back, I led her over to the fireplace to stand at her side.
"This is for you," I quietly said, holding out the single white orchid I had gotten for this night specifically. I reflected Susannah's wry smile of amusement at the significance and the flowers meaning. Not lost on either of us. But it seemed so fitting; I couldn't help but choose this one flower.
Susannah's mother rushed over to pin it to her dress, before stepping back and gesturing for us to get into position. Placing a secure arm around Susannah's slim form and pulling her to my side, I felt her own arm wind around my waist, before leaning into my warmth. She fit to me perfectly and made my heart swell with the normal action of being able to do such a thing before her family.
"Now, say cheese," Susannah's mother called, lifting the camera to her face and taking the picture.
Once she had taken a couple more, Susannah and I broke apart and got ready to leave. Andy re-emerged from the kitchen again; his spoon left behind - thankfully - and looked at me with a mock parental look. Crossing his arms over this chest and narrowing his eyes. "Now, you have her home by midnight, understand, young man?"
I smiled back in reassurance, my tone sincere and honest. "I will, sir."
"One," Susannah bantered.
"Twelve thirty," Andy countered back.
"Twelve thirty," Susannah agreed and I walked up to the foyer to give her some privacy with her mother. I gave David a warm smile and a nod as I passed, waiting for Susannah. I saw her mother whisper something to her while she fussed with her daughter's shawl, making Susannah counter what it is she said.
Just as she was about to turn and walk away, Brad came barrelling out of the den, looking at us all with an angry scowl. A permanent fixture it seemed. "Haven't you guys left yet?" He demanded before storming his way back into the kitchen.
I looked at David as he shook his head at Brad's childishness, giving him one last greeting. "It was nice to meet you, David. I'll see you soon." I gave a final wave and smile to Susannah's family, swelling with pride that I had managed to keep the nervous feelings hidden. And grateful the difficult part was over. Although I couldn't deny how great it felt to be able to meet her family, just how it should have been.
Once I was sure we weren't being watched by her family, as we walked from her home, I took her smooth and warm hand in mine and leaned down to brush her soft lips with my own. Once I straightened back up and let the dazed feelings drain away that always lingered when I was with Susannah, I lead her over to the car I was borrowing from Father Dominic for the evening.
"Between doing that again and an eternity in hellfire," I said as we walked hand in hand. "I'd take the hellfire."
"Well, you'll never have to do it again," Susannah laughed, squeezing my hand in comfort. "Now that they know you. And besides, they liked you."
"Your mother didn't," I assured her.
"Yes, she did," Susannah countered. "She just thinks you're a little old for me."
I bit back the bark of laughter I nearly let loose at her mother's concern. "If only she knew," I said, shaking my head in mirth at the idea of Helen Ackerman, finding out about her daughter's gift. Or my own long history.
I had once asked Susannah why she had never thought to tell her mother of her gift. She told me that she was a sceptic. She didn't believe anything unless it was proven or witnessed by her own eyes. And that in telling her, Susannah's mother would have marched her off to her therapist in the blink on an eye. I understood her reasoning, but had still felt it was a lot of pressure for Susannah to have on her.
Only now, I could help her too. I knew her secret; she didn't need to keep anything hidden any longer. I could help her carry her burden. "Your stepfather, on the other hand, invited me to dinner tomorrow night." I continued, pulling myself from my wandering musings.
"Sunday dinner?" Susannah sounded in awe. "He really must like you."
We reached Father Dominic's car by then, the streetlamp shining its warm glow onto it. I reached around Susannah and opened the passenger door for her, sweeping my arm out in a bowing gesture. "Madam," I smiled.
"Why, thank you," She replied, and slid on to the seat. I waited for her to gather her skirt in before I closed the door and walked around to my side.
"You're sure you know how to drive one of these things?" Susannah asked as I reached for the ignition, a slight teasing tone to her voice.
"Susannah," I said, as I started the engine, listening to it come to life. "I did not sit idly by eating bonbons for the 150 years I was a ghost. I did make a few observations now and then. And I most definitely know – " I started backing the car out of the driveway, " – how to drive." It was one thing I was very confident about.
"Okay. Just checking. Because I could always take over if you need – "
"You will sit where you are," I said, turning onto her street. "And look pretty, as a young lady ought to." I fought the grin to appear at my words. Knowing exactly what Susannah thought of that remark.
"Wait, which century is this?" Susannah smirked at me.
"Humor me," I said, a pained look crossing my face at the state my pride and dignity have been in recently. Allowing me to do this, Susannah would be helping a great deal towards mending that wound. "I'm doing it for you, in this monkey suit."
"Penguin." She instantly corrected me, a slight giggle to her voice.
"I'm just saying. That's what it's called. You need to get hip with the lingo if you're going to fit in." Susannah informed me sweetly.
Just able to hold back the cringe at what she just said, I spoke one of her favourite words back to her. Using the correct tone and facial expression to match it. "Whatever," I said. Susannah glared at me and threw a mock punch to my arm. But otherwise sat back relaxed and enjoying the peaceful and comfortable silence for the short drive to her school.
When I had parked, Susannah stayed where she was, letting me come around to open her door for her. "Thank you, querida," I said, leaning down to give a quick kiss to her lips again. "My pride has taken enough blows this week."
Taking Susannah's hand in my own again, we walked over to the entrance of the dance, being held in the Mission's courtyard. I saw lanterns strung along the archways and little twinkling lights wrapped around the thick pillars. They had candles lit and floating in the fountains water, with gel like colours over the lamps around the edge illuminating Juniperro Serra's statue in different shades.
Its head welded back on after Heather tore it off and chased after Susannah with it at the beginning of her new life here. It seemed so long ago to me now. So much was different and changed; I could almost believe it never happened. Almost.
We walked over to Father Dominic and Sister Ernestine manning the entrance. Aware of the Sisters' eagle eyes and sharp hearing, Susannah made to introduce us both, as if we had never met before. "Father Dominic, this is my date, Jesse," She said, a small smile dancing across her face.
"Very nice to meet you," He said, shaking my hand warmly. I couldn't help but notice that this was the first time we really had been properly introduced. Even before this miraculous change, Susannah never really had given us both a proper greeting. But I couldn't find it in me to mind. Because it was that much more important and meaningful to be able to do it now.
"Same with you, Father," I said, unable to keep the smile from my own face. Sister Ernestine left then. With a curt nod to me and a disbelieving scowl at Susannah's dress. A look that was met with Susannah's humorous smile, a silent proud air around her at being able to prove the Vice Principal wrong of her estimates of Susannah.
Once we were sure she had gone, we converted back to how we had been the past week. "I have good news. The job's come through."
I felt my excitement rise all over again. The knowledge that I would soon be able to pay my own way, and give back the money Father Dominic had so graciously loaned me, was doing wonders to the healing of my pride again. And I knew that if I didn't have something to occupy me soon, that I would be becoming increasingly frustrated with my lack of inactivity.
"Really? What is it? When do I start?" I asked eagerly.
"Monday morning, and though the pay won't be much, it's something I think you'll be unusually well suited for – giving talks about old Carmel at the Historical Society Museum. Do you think you can stand to do that for a while? Until we can get you into medical school, anyway?" Father Dominic asked me.
I couldn't think of a more perfect allocation for me. It would be something I will enjoy doing immensely. But most of all, it will help me to keep my memories of my once life and family, fresh in my mind. I didn't want to lose my dreams and moments of before. I would never wish to lose the knowledge of my old life. It was a large part of me and shaped me to who I am today.
But this way, I could share this knowledge with others and never have to worry about losing my memories. "I think so," I said with a smile.
"Excellent." He enthusiastically replied, pushing his glasses back up his nose and smiling at us both. "Have a nice evening, children."
With assurances we would, I led Susannah into the dance, taking in our new surroundings with slight disbelief and an exciting energy about me. It all finally felt like everything truly was fitting into place. And now I was determined to give Susannah the wonderful night she deserves. I looked down into her glistening green eyes and smiled. Squeezing her hand in my own.
I spotted a couple of people coming at us in the crowd. Recognizing them to be Susannah's friends, I broke out into a wide grin. Finally being able to meet them properly. How I had always wanted to happen. Susannah introduced me to them both, making CeeCee's violet eyes widen to new proportions at the mention of my name. And Adam's angry scowl at my sudden permanent appearance in Susannah's life.
"I've heard a lot about you both." I said, after I had shaken both their hands. CeeCee could only continue to stare up at me in disbelief. Which begged the question; how much did she know about me already?
"Can't say I return the compliment," Adam scowled. But I saw no real threat or malice behind his eyes. I suspected he was more surprised than jealous of me.
"B-but," CeeCee stammered, looking from my amused face to Susannah's and back again. "Are – aren't you – "
"Not anymore," Susannah said, interrupting her before she said too much. CeeCee continued to look bewildered and confused, but seemed to accept Susannah's sincere answer for what it was and only smiled in return. Her braces on her teeth winking in the dim twinkling lights around us.
"Well," She said, then more loudly. "Well! That's wonderful!" I was beginning to like CeeCee. Her enthusiasm was as infectious as my own when I had first woken again at the hospital. Finding myself to be the happiest man alive. I could see and hear her sincerity and it made me swell with pride once again at being the one to make Susannah happy.
I smiled down at Susannah, dropping her hand and wrapping it around her waist instead.
We heard a bubble of laughter drift to us from across the courtyard and Susannah looked up to see something that had her surprised and smiling again. "What's she doing here?" She asked CeeCee, gesturing to a woman with the same long white blond hair as her friend and laughing with who looked to be Susannah's teacher.
Adam surprised me then, by breaking away from his scowl and into laughter. Seeing the direction of our stares. "Mr. Walden's chaperoning. And guess who he brought as his date?"
"They aren't dating," CeeCee quickly insisted. "They're just friends."
"Right." Adam replied grinning like the cat that got the cream.
"Suze," CeeCee said pulling her shawl closer around her. "Come to the ladies' room with me?"
She smiled at CeeCee obviously knowing what to expect next. "I'll be right back," She said, tiptoeing to give me a quick kiss on the cheek and walking off with CeeCee. Leaving me standing with a rush of cool air sweeping in where her warm body was once standing. I followed her with my eyes until I couldn't see her any longer.
Resigned to my fate, I turned back to Adam, preparing to say something, but the determined frown on his face that reflected in his eyes, made me stop short.
"If I hear you've ever done anything to hurt, Suze . . ." He said, letting his voice trail off at the end, leaving it up to my own imagination to fill in the blanks. I fought down the urge to chuckle at his concern in regards to me and the way I would behave and treat Susannah.
Something I knew I would hate myself for causing.
"I can assure you, Adam," I said. Looking him in the eye, I let all my own determination, sincerity and truth I feel in regards to Susannah, shine through in that one look and answer. "I would never do anything to harm, Susannah." I intensified my look minutely and Adam, with much bravery and confidence, didn't turn away from my dangerous stare. "Ever."
He absently nodded at me, seeming to think something over in his head, before he broke out into a small smile. Seemingly satisfied with my answer. "Good," He said, making me feel a lot more confident and comfortable now. Speaking and witnessing just how good friends' Susannah has. Who truly care about her wellbeing and happiness. "You don't seem like the type that would. But I wanted to warn you anyway."
"It's okay," I said, smiling to take the edge off the intense look I had been giving him. "It's good to know Susannah has such good friends, who care about her so much."
"Yeah," He replied.
Suddenly finding ourselves stuck in an awkward silence, I looked around the courtyard and for the second time that night, wishing Susannah would appear and save me. Again.
But when I heard her musical laughter echoing to me, despite the music that seemed to be thrumming around me, I knew she wouldn't be anytime soon. I watched intrigued as Susannah walked up to a very nervous looking and uncomfortable Slater, standing by the pillars in the breezeway. I knew he wasn't waiting for Susannah; by the way he tensed as she approached. But still I was intrigued.
Susannah had also told me about the way Slater had acted in the past. Of his frantic panic when they had shifted back. His concern and fear as they stood in the hospital, waiting for a sign of my recovery, that didn't appear to have been likely.
But she had also mentioned he had avoided her all week at school. Choosing to pretend it hadn't happened, it seemed. "Suze said she won't be long." CeeCee said as she approached Adam and me, slipping her arm into the crook of his elbow. I gave her a nod of acceptance and continued to watch the proceedings before me.
CeeCee having noticed my distracted sight, slipped up next to me to watch Susannah and Slater talk. Soon approached by a blond girl walking peculiarly. "You don't have to worry about, Paul, you know," She said quietly, not looking at me. "Suze has only ever been interested in one person." I looked down at CeeCee in surprise, of how easily she seemed to be able to read the doubts in my mind.
She returned my stare with a bold one of her own.
"Thank you, CeeCee," I said just as quietly. "But, I think I've always known that." I chuckled at the surprise in her eyes, she tried to hide. "Excuse me, please." And I took a deliberate walk up to join my querida, Slater and his own date. My heart and steps lighter, then I realized they could be.
I noticed Slater's date look up at see me approaching. Her eyes riveted to my every step. But I wasn't paying any attention to her. I only had eyes and intentions for the girl my gaze was trained on. And when she was alerted to my approach, Susannah looked over her shoulder at me, matching my own happy smile with a brighter one of her own.
I stepped into the pool of moonlight they were all standing in. Coming to Susannah's side and interweaving our hands together, so our fingers were locked secure. I looked to Slater, giving him the best well mannered and polite nod I could possible muster for him. "Paul."
"Hey, Jesse," He said, shifting a little on his feet and not quite able to make eye-contact. Then remembering his date, introduced her to me. "This is Kelly,"
I turned to the girl at his side, who hadn't taken her eyes off of me since I had approached. I wasn't even sure she had blinked. But I held my hand out for her to shake, putting manners before anything else. "Very nice to meet you," I said. She didn't say anything. Just let her hand drop to her side lifeless and gaped at Susannah and I. I looked down to Susannah with confusion, noticing the smug look she was trying not to show on her face.
Letting go of my hand, Susannah looped her arm through mine and with one last polite smile that I knew she was fighting not to escalate to laughing, she bid them a goodbye. "Well, see you around." And led me out to the dancing area.
"Things with Paul are . . . ?" I asked, raising my eyebrows questioningly as we came to a stop and Susannah slid her arms around my neck. Instantly playing with the curls at the nape of my neck. I felt a shiver and tingle rush down my spine at her soft and gentle caress. Pulling her closer to me and letting her warmth flow into me.
"Fine." She replied, laying her head on my shoulder and relaxing into me.
"And you know that because . . . ?"
"He told me." She simple said.
"And you believe him?" I asked.
"You know what?" Susannah softly whispered lifting her head from the comfortable position it had once been in. "I do."
"I see." I stood there, while Susannah swayed before me. "Susannah? What are you doing?"
"I'm dancing with you," I pulled back and looked down at our feet that were obscured by Susannah's long, floating skirt. Hoping to see the movement, so I could work out how to do it.
"I don't know this dance," I said.
"It's easy," Susannah smiled, lifting my hands to place around her waist, before replacing her own arms around my neck again. Delighting me with her soft touch once more. "Now sway."
I swayed on my feet before Susannah, my arms held securely around her waist. It took me a couple of seconds to find my rhythm with Susannah. To match our steps and movement. To relax into her touch and let the beat of the music around us guide me. But in the end, I got the hang of it.
"See?" She said, looking up at me affectionately. "You're doing it." She laid her head back down on my shoulder, her arms loosely held behind my neck.
"What's this dance called?" I asked into Susannah's ear.
"Slow," She quietly replied. "It's called a slow dance."
Closing my eyes for a second, I let myself completely relax under Susannah's touch. Losing myself in the moment we only seemed to inhabit. The sounds of the laughter and music seemed to drain away, leaving only us. I rested my head on Susannah's, inhaling the scent of her and feeling the soft and silky strands of her hair against my lips. I lifted a hand from her back and gentle stroked my hand down her hair, letting my fingers sift through it. Feeling it glide out of my fingers.
I heard and felt Susannah sigh against my shoulder and relax into my embrace, making me smile into her hair. This is what she deserves. To be able to be around her friends and family. To do all the things she's supposed to do with the one she loves. To slow dance beneath the magick of the moon securely held and wrapped in her loves arms.
I never wanted this moment to end. For Susannah and I to have to break apart. But the disappointment sure to come when that had to happen, was blown apart and scattered with the knowledge, that Susannah and I have the rest of our lives to be able to have moments like this. To be surrounded by people, but to only feel as though it was just us. For no-one to come in between us. With nothing to keep us apart.
When I opened my eyes again and lifted my head away from Susannah's, something out of the corner of my eye caught my attention. I looked over, noticing the tell tale sign of a ghost standing by a pillar with lights wound around it. Illuminating the spirits soft glow. I didn't have time to feel the shock of what I was able to see. Of the realization that I was witnessing a ghost, even though I was alive. Or what it meant. Because when I saw who it was staring back at me . . . a small part of me knew why he was here.
Peter smiled at me from where he was standing. His eyes twinkled back with happiness and adoration for the young woman in my arms. I looked down at Susannah in my embrace, subconsciously holding onto her a little tighter, knowing what was soon to be coming for her.
I looked back up at Peter, hoping to convey everything I could in that one soul searching look. Of the gratitude and appreciation I had, for all he had done, for Susannah and me. Of the chance to be able to hold Susannah and give her everything. Hoping he saw all that I wanted to say. I gave him one last nod and turned away from Susannah's father, waiting for her to notice him.
Moments later, she raised her head again and glanced over my shoulder, her feet stopping their movement when she caught sight of who was lurking in the shadows of the pillar, watching and waiting for his little girl.
"Hey, kiddo," Peter said.
"Could you just excuse me a minute? There's somebody I have to, um, have a word with." Susannah asked me, looking up into my eyes.
"Of course." I smiled; releasing her and watching her walk over to her father, who was waiting to see her.
I couldn't make out the words that were shared between them. And I didn't wish too. I could only watch as Susannah reached out and took hold of one of his hands. Holding it tightly in both of hers, subconsciously holding on for a little longer. She looked up at him with all the gratitude and happiness I felt myself. Saying the words I was unable to.
I gazed anxiously as Susannah implored her father with her eyes, of the way he tried to drop her hand embarrassed and bewildered at all she was speaking of. But Susannah steadfastly held onto his. Stubbornly refusing to let go until she had said what she needed and wanted to. Until he heard what she had to say. Until he listened and accepted the joy that was now a constant running through Susannah.
Perhaps for the first time, since he had died and witnessed his daughter's unhappiness.
I stood where I was as slowly and oblivious to what was occurring with him, Peter started to fade away. His glow dimming and receding, as his eyes dropped from his daughters, his features unfocused and starting to shimmer before her. He reached out to straighten Susannah's orchid I had given her, but his hand went straight through it.
And then I felt it. The pull on my own heart as the realization of what was taking place with her father, appeared in Susannah's eyes. She glanced down at the orchid Peter had attempted to touch, before her gaze lifted to her fathers. Noticing the distracted and oblivious look in his eyes. I watched, my heart tightening and aching in my chest, a pressure building, as tears glistened and coated her beautiful eyes. Letting them spill over to her flushed cheeks and dripping to the floor before her. The reflection in them from the small lights twinkling everywhere, made it look as though they were falling stars.
Dropping and scattering around father and daughter.
Susannah held his hand tightly between both of hers. Never releasing him to brush away her tears. But she knew, no matter what she did, his hand was slowly disappearing from her hold, along with his spirit. Susannah gave her father a trembling smile, indicating for him to see what she was. His face was fading more and more, leaving it hard to see his expression or eyes.
Peter looked down upon himself, watching as he was slowly being pulled away from Susannah. With a startled gaze he looked back up at her, tears of his own falling down his grinning face. The knowledge of what was happening, making him smile and try to reach out to Susannah. But I could still see the sorrow he was feeling, at having to leave her to grieve. It was in each tear that fell from his eyes. Of the way he raised his own hand to try and brush away Susannah's. In the way he gazed back at his daughter, with a stare so full of pride for her, it caused a stinging in the back of my throat.
Until with one last smile and remark for his daughter, he was gone.
I stood there for moments in time, looking at the space that Peter has just been standing in. Watching as Susannah's hand slowly fell back to her side and of the way her shoulders shook with the repressed grief and tears she was trying to hold back. I ached to go over and help her. So we could grieve together. So I could ease the ache I felt for Susannah.
But I also knew this was something she needed to come to terms with herself. Making me resolutely swallow down the lump at the back of my throat and rising emotion in my chest, at seeing such a heartfelt display. Of the goodbye neither wanted to say, but knew was time. There was nothing holding him back now.
It was a long time before Susannah came back out to me. Her face showing no evidence of the tears she had just been shedding. Not seen to anyone who wasn't looking. But Susannah couldn't hide anything from me. I opened my arms to her when she came back to me, looking up at me with a clear understanding in her eyes. Yes, it was painful to say goodbye to a loved one, but the truth of why he had finally been able to move on, was clear in Susannah's gaze.
And that was what was going to help her to accept his final passing.
"He's gone?" I asked.
"He's gone," Susannah automatically replied, about to slide her arms over my shoulders when she realized what I had said. She gasped gripping my arms beneath her small hands, looking up at me confused and overwhelmed. "Jesse . . ." She stared, her eyes large and sparkly in the moonlight. "Can you . . . did you . . .?"
"See you talking to your father just then?" I asked, finishing her enquiry. My mouth twitching a little with the effort to suppress a full blown grin. "Yes."
"Then you can . . ." Susannah's voice trailed off, words robbed of her it seemed. "You can . . ."
"See and speak to ghosts?" This time I let my full blown smile come forth. Enjoying every happy, excited and loving feeling and sensation that was coursing through me. "Apparently so. Why? Is that a problem?"
"No. Except that . . . that would mean – " Susannah broke off again, bewilderment covering her eyes and threatening to make me laugh at her expression any minute. "That means you're a – "
"Querida," I said, pulling Susannah in towards me again, and burying my head in her hair, softly stroking my hand down her back. Removing the temptation to laugh at her expression. "Let's just dance."
Susannah didn't resist me when I pulled her close to me. Instead only leaning her head on my chest, feeling the steady beat of my heart beneath her ear.
"The only thing I don't understand," I said as we swayed to the low music around us. "Is why it took him all this time?" I lifted my head from Susannah's hair, looking down into her eyes again. "Your father," I continued. "His moving on, I mean. Why now?"
Sliding her hands up my arms to trail over my shoulders, Susannah softly let her fingers scrape up my neck to entwine in my hair. Threatening to make me lose all train of thought and sense with that one caress alone.
"Do you really not know?" She asked me.
But I did. I always had. I knew exactly why Peter had stayed around for as long as he did. I understood what he felt he needed to see and feel, before he could move on. For ten years, he waited around to see Susannah happy. To see the true sparkle shine through her. To be there when Susannah had found and discovered her place in the world. Where he could feel how happy and complete she felt.
And that was what he had finally witnessed here tonight. He saw his little girl, in the arms of someone she loves with all her heart and soul. A love that is happily and fully returned upon her. She was content and happy with all that she had in her life. She had someone who loves and understands her unconditionally. Someone who can share her burden and ease her soul. And in doing so, feel and give it in return.
Susannah had all that she could wish for at long last. We both did. And that is what helped Peter to move on.
I lowered my head to Susannah's again. Pulling her as close as I could, until she was moulded to me. I bent my head down until I was close enough to whisper into Susannah's ear. Feeling the little shiver run through her when my breath tickled her cheek and hair.
"I love you, querida."
Lifting her head from my chest, Susannah looked up at me with a look so full of love and happiness; I felt the tears prick the backs of my eyes. She pulled me down to meet her lips with my own. Whispering a promise across my own warm lips, before claiming them with hers.
"I love you too, Jesse."
Our dreams were fulfilled. Our wishes were granted and a love of a lifetime had been found and cherished. I couldn't have asked for anything more . . .
A/N 2: Thank you so much for reading and putting up with my rambling. Please review and encourage the big smile that's about to come forth from my much anticipated sugar high! Peace out, y'all! :D And again, THANK YOU!
Meg - Thanks so much for sticking by this series, Meg! I really appreciate it, and loved every one of your reviews! And your idea, of doing a one-shot directly after he wakes up, is something I shall be doing. I just didn't feel I could add that in last time. But I will write it, thanks to you passing on the idea. :D But thank you again. I hope you enjoy this last chapter. Take care, and lots huggles! xxx
If you enjoyed this series, there is more that follows it;
'Revealing Fate' – A one-shot missing scene from 'Twilight' where Jesse wakes in the hospital for the first time.
'Laying The Past To Rest' – A one-shot of Jesse fulfilling one last task before he can fully accept his new life.
'Moments In Time' – Snapshots and humorous moments between Jesse and Suze in their life together, six years into the future.