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I watched from a distance as they pushed the last box into the moving van, the girls all giggling as Bella nearly fell over when the box moved back faster than she had anticipated.
My job here was done.
The last of my angels had grown into three strong, confident women and were getting ready to start their future without Cullen Investigations.
They had all taken the first steps in embarking on their new life with the men they loved. I couldn't be happier for them, even though it would take some time to get used to not talking to them like I had for so long.
I smiled to myself as I watched Edward lift Bella over his shoulder and carry her up the steps to the front entrance of the girls' apartment building, Bella's arms and legs kicking wildly as she demanded he put her down, her joyous screams drifting all the way to where I sat hidden in my car.
Alice looked on, shaking her head as she leaned back against Jasper chest, his arms wrapped around her waist while his head rested on hers. Seeing my little Alice so happy was the best thing that ever happened to me, apart from Esme finding me. For the first time in her life all of the fear and tensions seemed to have left her body and she could just be the carefree, bubbly girl she was.
Rose – meanwhile – was threatening Emmett with all kinds of boycotts and bodily harm if he even thought of copying Edwards move. Emmett must have not been impressed by Rosalie's threats though, since he lifted her in the air, playfully swatting her ass as he followed Edward and Bella into the building.
Jasper just shrugged and turned his back to Alice, motioning for her to climb onto it. Alice squealed and hopped on, her arms and legs wrapping tightly around her boyfriend as he sprinted after Emmett while Alice belted out a variety of cowboy yells.
Right before they went into the building I saw Bella turn around, her eyes locking with mine almost instantaneously. Her lips parted in a radiant smile as she winked at me before turning her attention back to her friends, shrugging off Alice's questioning looks.
I should have known better than to think I could ever fool the police chief's daughter, though there wasn't a fiber in my being that regretted going after her that faithful morning.
I had realized what was going on almost the moment a nurse came to inform me of Bella's disappearance and Edward's breakout action, though nothing could have prepared me for the sight of one of my angels lying on a dirty floor with that madman standing over her, poised to kill her.
Ending his life had been easier than I had ever thought it would be. I had always considered myself a saver of lives, not and ender of them, but the emotions this villain stirred within me canceled out any compassion I might have felt.
He had threatened the life of my angels.
He had threatened the life of the people of this town.
He had killed and schemed to kill and harm countless of people.
It felt right that his own life should be threatened and subsequently ended in retaliation.
Saving Bella and Edward had been a lot harder. For a few moments, as I watched Bella drift out of consciousness I had thought I was too late and were it not for Alice and Jasper crashing through the door with the antidote a few moments later I probably would have been.
While they administered the drug and took Bella back to the quarantine unit I labored to stop Edwards wound from bleeding and stabilize him so that he could be moved and the wound could be closed properly.
The biggest risk from that moment on was getting him to rest and keep still long enough for the wound to heal. He was back by her side as soon as the threat of infection had been cleared and the only way to get him to take some rest had been to push his bed into her room.
She had sought me out as soon as she was able to get around. She had found out the moment her mind had put the official version of what happened in that abandoned corridor and her own hazy memories of that morning together and wanted to thank me for saving Edward and herself from death.
I knew she didn't agree with my request to keep my hidden identity hidden but she promised to keep the secret for now in spite of her own objections. I knew the angels had been anxious to meet me but it would be best for them to get on with their lives.
I shot one last fleeting glance at my former angels and their loved ones as I pulled out of my parking spot and drove past the apartment. They were all waiting in front of the elevator, laughing and joking as if none of the bad things in their life had ever happened.
It had always been my intent to take them away from the sorrows their live had lead them to but lately I had come to doubt whether I had not been naive to think I would be able to do so. The things Victoria had said to me that night had struck a nerve. To an extend she had been right. I had send my girls into life threatening situations. Sure, I had always taken great pains to ensure that they would be as safe and protected as they could be, but it hadn't made me stop them from risking their life in the line of duty. Not really the kind of attitude you would expect from someone who was supposed to be their protector.
At least that life was behind us now. We could focus on the future.
It had taken a lot less time than I could have imagined to get my girls situated in life, all three of them finding new goals that suited them to a tee.
Alice was going to travel the world as the first assistant of Jasper Whitlock. Apparently she had gotten a taste for the job when she went undercover at Whitlock Pharmaceuticals or she must have thought that protecting her lover outweighed the tediousness of all his business meetings. The massive media coverage James' plan had attracted had caused Whitlock Pharmaceuticals and its founder to shoot to fame in a short amount of time and needed a good and strong assistant more than ever. Alice would be more than qualified to do the job, of that I was sure.
Jasper hadn't let his fame go to his head. With the threat of a new pandemic becoming cleared every day he had poured all his efforts into developing a vaccine for the new virus. He and Alice were flying out to Mexico tomorrow to start a huge – WHO-funded – research project into the origins of the new virus. They would be sorely missed.
Rosalie and Emmett where the only ones who were staying in Forks. They were setting up a garage centering around the renovation of classic muscle cars while keeping an eye on the goings on in town for me. After some not so subtle nudges from Rose Emmett had bought the two of them a nice little house in a quiet suburb on the outskirts of town. I think Rose might have been more 'ready' to settle down than Emmett was which wasn't so strange considering Rose's background.
I had watched in awe as she had blossomed over the last couple of months, becoming her true self again for the first time after the brutal attack, though I wondered if the upbringing she had received had ever allowed her to be herself before.
I hoped Emmett would be able to manage her. He sure had his hands full. But if anyone could do it, it was him. He would still be my right hand man, even though Cullen Investigations no longer existed. He would keep an eye on the girls for me and report back if they needed anything.
Bella and Edward would be moving to Seattle tomorrow. After everything that had happened Bella had seen enough danger to last her a lifetime but – in a show of typical Bella Swan stubbornness – she had refused to give up on being a crime fighter if Edward continued to be a special agent. She had flat out told him that if he expected her to live in fear of losing him again she would definitely return the favor.
Unable to see the woman he loved in danger ever again Edward gave in and quit his job at the FBI. He didn't tell Bella that if he would remain in federal service he would probably spend the rest of his working life behind a desk in retaliation for the 'Volturi incident' anyway. He was happy to let her believe she had triumphed over him.
They were both making a fresh start after the summer. Edward had made his parents very happy when he announced he had taken a job as a paralegal at the DA's office while picking up his studying for his bar exams in the evenings. He had never thought studies at university would be put to good use but now that he had been working at the DA's office for a week or two he was really starting to get a knack for it. The first case he would be assisting on would be 'the people vs. Jacob Black.'
Bella decided to start out at UW as and English Literature student in the hope of one day becoming a teacher. As soon as they got settled into their home she would also start teaching self defense classes over at her local community center. I had a feeling Seattle was going to be a safer place now that they would both be living there.
They would be moving into their their new home, an apartment overlooking Green Lake in Seattle, in a few days. It had been my parting gift to them.
I knew the switch from having a steady job that supplied more adrenaline in a day than a normal person would feel in their lives to being to less adventurous jobs and college benches would be though but if anything I knew they were stubborn and determined enough to make it work for them.
Forks would be in safe hands now that Charlie Swan and Eleazar Denali were in charge of keeping the peace. It had taken Eleazar some time to get over the shock of finding out how deep his daughter was involved in James' dealings, but in the end he had come out stronger and more determined to put a stop to crime then ever before.
He had met his match in Charlie who, after a few moments of hesitation, had taken up his familiar spot as Chief if Forks police again. His name had been cleared almost immediately after the Volturi had been incarcerated and even he had been surprised to see how many of the new, honest policemen were more than willing to accept him as their boss. He was happy again, being back on his home turf with Sue, the woman who had made him work past the pain his dismissal from the force had caused him.
Swan and Denali would be supported by a staff of honest, able men and women and a detective squad that would make many other chiefs see green with envy. Kate Mulder and Angela Weber remained of the 'old' squad, assisted by Ben Cheney who was still working as the custody officer, but they were joined by another former federal agent. Garrett Scully had decided that country life suited him better than the big city – though his blossoming relationship with detective Mulder may have been a decisive factor – and had taken a job as detective.
Yes, I was definitely leaving Forks in good hands.
With the angels all settled in live and the people of Forks freed from the dangers that had surrounded them from all these years I could finally give my wife the attention she deserved. I knew my need for secrecy had been hard on her and had deprived her of the young woman she looked at as her daughter and I couldn't wait to remedy that.
The day she had found me had been the happiest in my life. For years now she had been my partner and the light of my life. I had never realized how lonely I had been until that day she moored her boat at my jetty and walked up to me, leaving her old life behind. She had given me so much more than just her companionship and now it was my turn to repay her.
When Alice and Jasper would come home in a month or two and all of the angels would have had some time to settle into their new lives it would be time for me to meet them. But that was all in the future.......
A nurse came running over to me as soon as I parked my car in its usual spot.
"Thank God you are here," she panted. "Dispatch just came in. There's been an explosion at a factory downtown. They are bringing in at least eight major casualties."
"What is their ETA?"
"They are pulling up as we speak," she breathed and sure enough, I could hear the sirens from a distance, getting louder by the second.
"Has the disaster protocol been put into operation?"
"Yes, doctor," the nurse nodded. "Everything is ready."
"Good," I mused, nodding to myself. At least my life wouldn't be boring, though I doubted that as long as I had Esme my life ever would be.
"Doctor Carter?" the nurse asked, visibly confused by my lack of action. "Are you coming?"
And with that not to subtle nod to the final episode of ER this story comes to an end. I would like to thank you all for reading it and giving me your thoughts.
Writing this story has been a lot harder than I thought, not in the least because of the enormous amount of research that went into it and the fact that I had to combine all of that with a full time job teaching history. I think I decided to stop writing at least twice every chapter but your lovely reviews kept me going. Okay...enough with the drama queen act.
There will be no sequel, just the oneshot of Esme finding Carlisle (though that might turn into a small, five chapter story if my ideas keep going at the rate they are going right now) and maybe the missing chapter in Alice's POV. Completing this has been enough of a challenge for me so unless I end up unemployed and with sees of time to do research I won't be writing another crime story any time soon.
My next project will be Foundations, the sequel to My Mistakes were Made for You. It will be more angsty than the original but it will still have a lot of romance, fluff and regular banter in it. The first chapter (yep, no prologue) will probably go live on Monday so keep on the lookout for that or add me to your author alerts to make sure you get it as soon as it gets posted. I'm both scared to death and very excited to start posting on that one so if you liked My Mistakes be sure to give it a try.
If you have any more questions about this story or Foundations feel free to ask over here or at the twilighted boards. The thread for this story is in the 'Crossover' section.
Once again: thank you so much for reading this. Virtual cookies and/or cocktails for all of you!