A/N: Sigh, hey all : ) I'm terribly sorry this is a little later than I intended, but I think I've been subconsciously holding off because I don't want it to end. This chapter was emotional for me to write.

THE LAST CHAPTER. That's right. I cried. I'm saying goodbye to my baby after so many months of working on it.

Just a quick note that tomorrow I will be posting the second chapter of my story; The Hunt. If you don't have me on author alert or forgot I was starting another story, please feel free to head on over to my profile to check it out. It's a Twilight/Supernatural crossover that my beta, Claire, has dubbed TwiNatural ; )

Shout-outs at the bottom! I know you all want to read this instead of reading my rambles.


"You make it hard for breathing

Cause when I close my eyes and drift away

I think of you and everything's okay; I'm finally now believing

That maybe it's true, I can't live without you

Maybe two, is better than one

There's so much time, to figure out the rest of my life

And you've already got me coming undone

And I'm thinking two, is better than one"


This is what you wanted. This was your decision.

I repeated my mantra in my head as I sat at the island in the kitchen, staring dejectedly at my sad bowl of soggy cereal. I pushed it around with my spoon, dreading the fact that a week had already passed and it was Saturday again.

Most kids begged for the weekend to come, but now, I wished for the opposite.

It was my decision to go to therapy, but it was something I had been hesitant about doing. Revealing all the fucked up shit from my past to a total stranger wasn't something I was entirely thrilled with attempting.

When we got back from Chicago, things were just...bad. Bella left almost immediately for Seattle and I spiralled down, replaying and overanalyzing everything that had happened in my life. Things were haunting me, startling me awake at night, making me think way too fucking much.

I was shielding myself from Esme and Carlisle, telling everyone to leave me alone because I couldn't stand the looks they were giving me. Pity smiles and sympathetic gazes were slapping me in the face and I hated that they thought I was some charity case. I didn't need it, any of it. I just wanted to be alone, to wait until Bella got back because she was the only one that even remotely made me feel better.

By the time she returned, I had barely left my room, and I'd had another night terror. I never remembered what happened in them, but Esme was in my room one morning, huddled on my couch in what had to be the most awkward sleeping position I'd ever seen. I felt horrible for making her feel like she had to be there with me.

It only added to the list of shit that made me want to hit myself.

But Bella came back, and I was happy. She made me smile and things felt right again. At the same time, all the other shit that had been stewing in my brain was still there, lingering, nagging at me. I tried to push my thoughts from my head but they stayed, persisting like a contagious disease.

My bad mood was spreading to everyone else so I was trying to be distant, trying to sort out my own problems in a way that wasn't working. My mind was a dangerous place and it did me no good to push Bella out of the darkness. Leaving me alone to my issues was just as unhealthy as it had always been, and New Years Eve, I snapped.

I'm calling it a nervous breakdown because that's the only way I can describe it. My head felt like it was going to explode and I couldn't stand the pressure. I bit my lip until it bled, until I could taste the coppery warmth on my tongue. I was so lost in my thoughts and I just wanted them gone. I tried to make them go away, to wish them out of my head, but it was useless.

I ended up rocking myself on the floor, pleading with my memories to stop playing like a real life movie behind my eyelids. I gripped at my hair to worry myself with the pain instead of the past, but nothing worked.

I knew it wasn't effective. My method of trying to fix myself was a useless attempt. There was nothing I could do, and my realization led me to one conclusion.

I needed help. I needed paid, professional help, someone who could actually fix me, to make me into a normal person. I was deeply embarrassed that it had taken me so long to reach this point, even when Carlisle had suggested it when I first moved here.

When everything was so fresh in my mind is when I should have gone. I should have listened to his advice; I should have gone to therapy when I moved to Forks. Instead I stayed that stubborn, broken teenager for years longer than I should have.

I was hesitant about going to therapy, but I was positive that I'd made the right decision. The past was eating away at my soul and I wanted it to stop. If that meant divulging my darkest secrets to a stranger, then that's what I was going to do.

I'd been to three sessions so far, all of which had been awkward and uncomfortable. I felt like a science experiment, something put under the microscope in Biology. Dr. King's questions were complex and required long, painful answers. It was as if someone was splitting me open with a scalpel, digging up all the memories and the things I'd rather leave behind, hollowing me out until I could give no more.

Afterwards, I was drained, like I'd been hit in the chest with a sledgehammer. I wanted to crawl inside myself and just hide, but then I would think about her observations. What she said made sense. Despite how much I talked of my past, what she told me was actually helping.

She said while I had resolved in my head that my mother's death was not my fault, I hadn't truly forgiven myself. When I thought about it, I really hadn't. I still felt responsible, even though I'd been told countless times there was no reason for me to feel that way.

I thought Chicago would be the answer. I thought if I made peace with my father, things would disappear. I thought my hate and fear would dissipate. I know now that I thought wrong.

Chicago was never the answer, it was merely the gateway. Without confronting my past, I would have never gotten to where I am now. I would have never admitted to needing help in the first place and I'd likely still be pushing people away, battling the memories in my internal war.

I knew I was on the right track. No matter how much it hurt, I needed to keep going.

I was fed up with trying to eat the nasty cereal, so I dumped it down the sink, putting the bowl and spoon in the dishwasher. I looked up, catching sight of the elementary colourings on the refrigerator; there were three.

One was from Bella, one was from her cousin Sarah, and one was from the other twin, Kylie. She told me about her time with her mom and how many questions the twins asked. I laughed when she said they had asked about me and whether or not we kissed.

It was all so simple when you were little. Things weren't as complicated. Life didn't appear to be so hard.

There aren't words to describe how thankful I would be, if only my biggest problem was cooties.

My phone vibrated in my pocket and I pulled it out, not needing to look at the caller ID because I already knew who it was. She was the best part of any day and I was eager to see her. She only stayed on nights that Charlie worked, and lately, that hadn't been often. I missed the extra time with her, but Saturdays were beginning to be our days.

I was advised to have someone with me when I went to therapy, not to sit in on the session, but for moral support afterwards. I was glad Carlisle suggested it; because the first time I went, I was shaking so hard I could barely get in the car. I'm sure Bella thought I was off my rocker but she was amazing. She talked to me the whole ride home and calmed me down, making me smile by being her crazy, beautiful self.

Since then, she'd come with me each time, and instead of coming home afterwards, we would stay in Port Angeles for the day, hanging out and doing whatever came to us. It was relaxing after such a tiring and draining ordeal, and as much as I dreaded Saturdays, what followed the therapy made my week.

I answered the call and told Bella I'd be on my way to pick her up shortly. I just needed to talk to Carlisle first. I headed up to his office, where I met him every Saturday before my session. My therapist said it was ill advised to keep myself in the dark on my father's condition, so I would talk with him every Saturday morning about my father and his health.

He hadn't been doing well. He'd had several more seizures in the past month and he was now unable to breathe without the use of a machine. I knew he didn't have long and the constant image of his bruised face stayed at the forefront of my mind.

I tried to shake it off, to think of other things, but it was hard. I could feel that tug, the small hold he still had on me. It was unexplainable. It was this invisible thing that kept me tied down, unable to move.

I was doing all I could to wriggle free.


"What now?" Bella asked, holding my hand as we walked down the virtually empty streets of Port Angeles. We were quite possibly the only people brave enough – or stupid enough – to be walking in such fucking inhumane weather.

"Uh," I said, my lips quivering in the cold as the wind picked up and stung my cheeks, "Something warm – coffee? I'm fucking freezing."

"Sounds good," she replied, securing her scarf over her nose as we headed to the Starbucks around the corner. I gripped her woolly hand tighter in mine as we walked, finding that the weather and being with Bella was certainly helping to clear my mind of my session with Dr. King.

We talked a lot about my father and it was stressful to recall everything. Dr. King was a patient woman, dealing with me as I struggled to talk during the sessions. Sometimes I would sit there, losing myself in my thoughts as she asked me small questions. I would offer her one-word answers, giving her something but not giving her nearly enough.

I was trying as best I could to open up and I was pretty sure she understood that.

Bella and I entered the cafe and my skin rippled with goose bumps from the warmth and the smell of the shop. There were a few people scattered inside, sitting alone at tables, reading newspapers and drinking their four-dollar coffees. It was highway robbery the amount they charged at this fucking place. As if shit wasn't expensive enough.

I pulled off my gloves and stuck them in my jacket pockets, taking my wallet from my jeans. Bella removed her hat and mitts, stuffing them in her bag as she flexed her fingers. We ordered our drinks and some food and headed to a booth, sitting side by side and talking quietly. Bella curled underneath my arm and sipped on her tea, soothingly rubbing her free hand on my knee.

I was comfortable and content.

"You don't...regret going to Chicago...do you?" Bella asked, drawing an invisible pattern on my leg as she watched her movements. I tilted my head to look down at her but she didn't meet my gaze.

"No," I replied, setting my cup down on the table. "I know, with the way I've been acting, it seems like I do...but I don't."

Her eyes lifted and she looked at me, studying my face as I did the same to her.

"I'm just trying to make sense of it all," I said quietly, giving her a small half-smile. She leant up and kissed me, fisting her hand around my jacket to pull her body closer to mine.

"I know," she said against my lips, dropping her head to my shoulder and resting her cheek there. "I'm glad you're doing this."

I sighed, "Me too. It...it'll just take some time to get used to, I suppose."

Bella twirled her ring around the base of her finger as we sat in silence, listening to the quiet trickle of music that softly filled the store. My mood was mellowing out and I was happy with myself. I wasn't freaking out about my sessions anymore, at least not as much as I had in the beginning.

I could do this.


"Mr. Cullen?" Mr. Banner repeated in irritation. My eyes snapped up from my book and I drew a total blank. I had no idea what he'd asked me.

"Uh, can you repeat the question?" I replied. Bella snorted softly beside me and I gently kicked her in the ankle.

Mr. Banner sighed. "This, Mr. Cullen," he pointed to a diagram of the heart on the overhead projector, "what is it?"

I squinted at the diagram, trying to see what his fat ass finger was directing my eyes to.

"Uh, pulmonary artery?" I guessed, tapping my pen uneasily against my book.

He glanced up to me from the overhead and adjusted his glasses on the bridge of his nose.

"Very good," he murmured, "pay attention."

I rolled my eyes and propped my elbow up on the table. My cheek fell to my palm and I watched Bella as she took notes. She was wearing the sweater I had gotten her for Christmas and her hair was pulled back into a loose bun.

I never tired of just looking at her. She was so beautiful.

The rest of class was boring as hell and Mr. Banner droned on and on about the heart. Artery this, red blood cell that. It was repetitive and monotone, making me nearly fall asleep so early in the morning.

Lunch came and I had never been so happy to get out of there in my entire life. I was thrilled that there was only another week left. One week until exams, and then I was free from Biology, hopefully for good. Bella felt the same as Mr. Banner's lectures had had the same effect on her. She'd actually fallen asleep last week, long enough for her to drool all over the page of her notebook.

It was too funny to wake her up, so I left her, watching in amusement as her lips moved gently in her sleep.

Bella and I headed to the cafeteria after Biology. I bought her lunch and we sat down at the table we always occupied. Jasper was in school for his last week of co-op to work on assignments and he was already there beside Alice, tipping her iPhone dangerously as his brows furrowed. The games on those things were addictive.

"Edward," Alice beamed at me as we sat, "guess what came out today?"

I frowned. "No idea; what?"

"The Final Destination!" she exclaimed happily. I laughed at her exuberance over a movie that would most likely be gory but corny as hell. "I'm totally going to buy it later and we have to watch it, okay?"

"All right, Alice," I said with a nod, slinging my arm around the back of Bella's chair and pulling her closer, "my house after school?" I whispered in her ear.

"Where else would I be?" she replied, turning slightly and softly pecking at my lips. I leaned in closer for another kiss but instead she pressed a French fry against my mouth, covering my bottom lip and chin with ketchup. I licked a bit off my skin and sat back in the chair, cocking my brow as I looked at her.

It was one of those looks that said 'did you really just do that?'

She drew her bottom lip into her mouth and then ate the fry, carrying on like nothing had happened.

"Excuse me," I said patiently, waiting until her eyes met mine, "I believe you have a mess to clean up." I gestured to my face and she laughed.

"You're such a sloppy eater, Edward."

She took my chin in her hand and pulled my face to hers, licking off the excess ketchup.

"Bella!" I said in shock, wiping my hand across my chin. "God, you really don't care what people think, do you?"

"Just figuring that out now?" she asked, dipping another fry in the ketchup before popping it in her mouth. "You're slower than I thought."

"And you're fucking sarcastic as hell," I pointed out, slipping my hand from her shoulder and sliding my fingers through the hairs pulled back at the nape of her neck. "I love it."

She smirked and carried on eating while the rest of us did the same. Emmett and Rose joined the table halfway through, looking more than suspicious and thoroughly frazzled. They sat down and avoided all of our questioning gazes, but Rose caved and glanced up to Bella, only to blush profusely.

I laughed. She was so easily embarrassed.

Lunch was over much too quickly and Emmett and I walked with Rose and Bella to their trig class. I pulled her aside and kissed her, and it wasn't some awkward, chaste kiss either. I was past that shit. I could actually kiss my girlfriend in public now, and feel fucking comfortable.

Fuck you, past.

We agreed to just meet at my house because she had driven the truck to school today, and I said goodbye before I got carried away. I headed to calc, spying Stanley and Newton nearly dry humping against the lockers on the way there. I shuddered at the unholy union. It was gag worthy, but I was happy they had each other. It saved me the unwanted conversations with Jessica about how I wasn't going to ditch class to smoke pot with her, no matter how good the shit was.

The end of the day was undoubtedly the most boring, so I found myself drifting and daydreaming, thinking about tonight. I needed a night to just forget about school and therapy, to hang out with my friends with no cares. I was thrilled about relaxing for once.

Everything following Christmas had been so stressful that it seemed as if I'd been constantly doing things, constantly moving. We hadn't all hung out as a group since New Years, and it was well overdue.

I was itching to get out of school; I felt trapped.

The second the bell rang, I was out of my seat and rushing through the doors, bumping into people, though I didn't give a fuck. I made it outside and to the Volvo, undeterred by the fact that it was monsoon-worthy weather.

I was soaked. By the time I slipped inside the Volvo, my jeans and jacket were ten pounds heavier with all the water they'd absorbed, squeaking against the cold leather. You'd think it would snow in January, not rain.

I rolled my eyes at the retarded weather and headed home, putting the wipers on the highest setting and still not able to see shit.

My mouth was pasty and dry because I worried for Bella. If my brand new Volvo couldn't even cut through this rain, how would Bella's ancient truck do that?

I tapped my fingers uneasily against the steering wheel, trying to decide whether or not I should call her and see if she was okay. On one hand, it would distract her from driving, but on the other, it would calm my nerves.

I didn't want to chance getting her into an accident so I just kept driving, praying that she made it to my house safely.

I was anxious when I arrived home, only to see that Bella's truck pulled into the driveway not two minutes later. My heartbeat slowed to a reasonable pace and I let out a sigh of relief as I sat on the porch, waiting for her to make her way up to me.

She wasn't like most girls, though I had figured that out a long time ago. She didn't rush through the rain, holding her bag above her head so it didn't get her hair wet. She didn't screech annoyingly because her clothes were drenched. She walked at a normal pace, letting the rain fall over her face because she didn't care.

She wasn't exactly high maintenance, which had to be one of the most amazing things about her.

"It's like taking a shower," she said as she dragged her sopping boots up the steps. "A little shampoo and some soap, and I'd be all set."

I laughed, "You would too, wouldn't you?"

She sat down beside me on the wet stairs and shrugged, "Maybe."

"Well how about we get out of this rain and have an actual shower?" I suggested. She looked up at me, her lips tinged blue from the cold and her cheeks streaked as rainwater fell from her eyelashes. The corners of her mouth pulled up into a smile as she drew in a shaky breath and released it, producing a small wisp of air between us.

"You read my mind," she said, turning quickly and taking off into the house. I scrambled off the step and slipped, dropping my bag and watching as a notebook, a textbook, and some pens fell across the porch.

"Fuck," I muttered, bending down to grab the soaking wet books. I knew the ink would bleed across the pages and the notes would be ruined. I just hoped the textbook could be dried. I didn't want to pay for that shit when it wasn't even mine to keep.

I gathered the wet books and slung my bag over my shoulder, kicking the door open. I dropped the books on the hall table and set my bag on the floor with a moist 'slap.' I put my boots over the vent and hung my coat on the banister, right over top of Bella's.

She wasn't in the foyer so I headed up the stairs, finding Bella's socks scattered one step away from each other. I frowned, picking them up with one finger and looking up to find her jeans at the top of the stairs.

I took the last few steps two at a time and peered around the corner, finding that her sweater had been shed just outside my door.

I smirked at her unorthodox striptease and my cock would have been hard, had I not been so cold that it was trying to crawl up inside my body.

I picked the sweater off the floor and pushed open the door to my room, seeing the soft glow of light coming from bathroom, pouring out onto the carpet. Her shirt lay outside the door and I grabbed that article of clothing as well, gently nudging the door to the bathroom with my toe.

It creaked opened and I found Bella sitting on the closed toilet seat in nothing but her sexy white bra and panties. I dropped her clothes to the floor because my body had jumped in temperature. My cock decided it wasn't so cold in here after all.


"Yo, bro, knock, knock!" Emmett said obnoxiously, adding four booming raps just for good measure. Bella drew the covers up further over us because we were still in bed, sans clothes. Esme wouldn't be home for another half an hour so we were enjoying the time to ourselves.

Enter Emmett.

"Yeah, Em," I replied, rolling my eyes. They drifted to Bella as she shrunk underneath my arm. He opened the door and poked his head inside, leaning forward with his hand on the doorknob. Bella buried her face against my chest as Emmett laughed.

"You two are unbelievable," he said, bowing his head as laughter rocked his body. "School's been done for like…an hour."

"Eh, fuck off," I said, smiling as I heard Bella groan in embarrassment. "Is there something you wanted?"

"Just to let you know that we're all here, Jazz and Alice too," he said, quirking his brow. "So, you know, finish, or whatever, and get your ass downstairs."

I was mildly offended at his sick humour so I grabbed the towel at the end of the bed and whipped it at him. Of course, it fell about five feet short and wouldn't have done any damage anyway, but I had to do something.

He simply laughed and shut the door before gallivanting off down the stairs.

"Why do we know people so utterly moronic?" I asked, leaning back against the headboard as Bella sat up on her elbow.

"He's your cousin," she retorted, "you can't get rid of him, he's family."

"Ah, technicality," I replied, waving my hand to dismiss it. I nuzzled against the comforter and the pillow and murmured, "I'm so comfortable; I don't want to move."

She snuggled up to me and drew the blanket down over my chest, bending her neck to pepper the skin in soft, slow kisses. She gazed up to me through her lashes, smiling before she trailed her lips over my collarbone, then my throat. I angled my head away as she gently bit on my earlobe.

"Bella," I groaned, grabbing the crook of her knee and draping it across my waist, "please stop. We…should go downstairs."

She sighed in my ear and pulled away.

"But I'm comfortable too," she pouted cutely.

"Please don't tempt me," I whispered as her teeth grazed my earlobe again. "Do you really want Emmett to come barging back in here?"

She laughed and then sat up. "That would be a resounding no," she answered quickly.

She didn't have any clean clothes with her here, or even a dry set of underwear, so I gave her something of mine. I found her a too small pair of track pants from when I was younger and an over-sized sweatshirt. The fact that she was going commando and not wearing a bra gave me a semi as we headed downstairs with our soaked clothes.

We put them in the dryer and followed the raised voices to the living room, where Emmett and Jasper were playing a racing game. Alice and Rose were sitting on the floor at their feet just watching, listening as Emmett's loud voice echoed off the walls.

"Seriously," I muttered to Bella, "why?"

"Family," she said in response.

I sighed and we sat down on the loveseat, watching as Emmett kicked Jasper's ass at Need for Speed or whatever they were playing. Alice and Rose protested after a while that the game was stupid and boring, and Bella and I sat quietly, listening as the four of them argued.

Ah, how I had missed these times.

I may have broken out of my shell, shown myself to the people I loved, but I was still the same fundamental person. I wasn't wild and crazy, and I certainly never made a point to jump into situations like that. When arguments arose or playful bickering took place between the four of them, Bella and I just sat back and observed.

It may seem like something ridiculous and annoying to outsiders, but it was times like these that I was thankful for my friends. They were people who were unique and fun, each having their own amazing personality, being their own person. I admired them all for being so sure of themselves and sometimes strived to get myself on the same path.

I may have been the weakest of the bunch, unsure of my place in this world and who I wanted to be, but I was slowly figuring it out. These past couple of months had changed my life, and I didn't regret one, single second of anything that had happened.

Fights had been had and relationships had been tested, but the end result was more worth it than I could have ever imagined. I had a family now, and not just Esme, Carlisle, and Emmett. I had Alice, Jasper, and Rose too.

My friends were my family. They were some of the closest people to me, and since I'd told them about my past, there had been no secrets. I mean, I didn't tell them everything but there were no dark corners for me anymore. I was done hiding and allowing the emotion to build up inside me.

When something was wrong, I talked about it. I had learned in therapy to deal with my emotions and I was grateful to Dr. King. Despite how reserved I sometimes acted during the sessions, I listened closely to what she said and really tried to do the things she suggested.

Listening as Alice, Jasper, Rose, and Emmett bickered back and forth, I felt so carefree. Bella was sitting on my lap with the blanket around her, resting her head on my shoulder as her body rocked gently with her silent laughter. I had my arms secured over her waist, holding her tightly to me.

It was loud and obnoxious, but for me, it was home.


Dinner, no surprise, was a loud event as well. Esme hadn't expected the whole gang for dinner so she ordered pizza and wings. Carlisle came home just as the pizza arrived and we all sat down together at the table, eating and talking loudly about at least five different things. So many conversations were started that I couldn't keep track.

I was quiet after a while, just listening and watching again, laughing when Alice got a lovely dollop of blue cheese dressing on her nose. I have no idea how it happened, but it had me in stitches for minutes after she'd wiped it off her face.

"Okay, Edward, it wasn't that funny," Alice pouted, waving her half-eaten chicken wing at me.

I laughed again, "I'm sorry, I thought it was pretty funny. I can't help it." I winked at her and she stuck her tongue out at me before returning to her meal.

When dinner was done, we all put our plates in the dishwasher and headed to the living room to watch The Final Destination. Alice was so excited I thought her little head was going to pop off; I thought maybe she was on something.

"You know," I began, sinking down on the loveseat next to Bella, "I think you may have some type of disease." I had been addressing Alice and she turned to me as she grabbed some blankets from the chest on the opposite side of the living room.

"Are you talking to me?" she asked, pointing to herself with her free hand as she dragged the blankets across the floor.

"Yes I'm talking to you," I replied with a chuckle. "I swear...someone with so much energy can't possibly be normal."

Rosalie laughed loudly and then covered her mouth as Alice shot her a look.

"Sorry," she whispered with a smile, "it's true."

Alice harrumphed and sat down next to Jasper as Emmett leant up to turn off the light. Bella snuggled up to my side and I felt her hot mouth against my ear as the previews started.

"I agree with you," she said quietly, "she needs a tranquilizer some days."

I tried to stifle my laughter as she sank back down to my side.

"Agreed," I told her with a nod.

The movie began and, as predicted, it was gory and so fake that I couldn't help but laugh some more. I'd never seen a car race go so horribly fucking wrong in my life. There was no way that shit would ever happen.

"Alice, this is retarded," I said, just as some hillbilly guy got dragged down a road by a phantom car, on fire. "Look! Like, what the fuck?"

"Oh, shut it," she said, flipping me the bird, "I love these movies."

I rolled my eyes and turned to Bella. "I'm going to get a drink," I whispered to her, "do you want something?"

She looked up to me, her brows furrowing in contemplation.

"Uh, maybe a snack?"

"You're still hungry?" I chuckled, tickling her side. "We just had dinner."

"So?" she frowned, leaning up to kiss my chin. "I want a snack."

"Okay," I acquiesced, "I'll get you a snack."

I untangled myself from her and headed to the kitchen, finding Carlisle and Esme sitting at the island, quietly conversing with one another.

"Hey, sweetie," Esme said when I entered, "how's the movie?"

I shrugged, "It's all right. What are you two doing?"

I made some popcorn and poured drinks for Bella and I while I carried on the conversation with Carlisle and Esme. The phone rang and Carlisle answered it as I dumped the popcorn in the bowl.

"Hello? This is he," Carlisle said into the receiver. I tossed the bag into the garbage as he continued to talk and I turned around, trying to carry both drinks and the bowl at the same time. Carlisle's eyes met mine and they widened as his lips parted. "Oh...well, I...thank you, I appreciate the call. Thank you very much. All right – you too...goodbye."

"What was that about?" I asked, setting down the stuff in my hands because it was all slipping.

"Uh...that –"

"Carlisle?" Esme said in concern. "What is it?"

"That was the hospital," he said quietly, locking his eyes with mine again.

I swallowed the hard lump in my throat. "And – what is it? Is...you know..." I couldn't finish my sentence, so instead I waved my hand suggestively, knowing he would understand.

"Yeah," he nodded, tears gathering in the corners of his eyes, "he's gone."

I gripped onto the counter top and nodded back at him, feeling as tears stung as my eyes as well, though none fell.

"Are you okay?" Esme asked sweetly, placing her hand on top of mine. I could hear the way her voice shook and I knew she was crying.

"I'm...I'm fine," I said honestly, breathing out with a small smile. My vision cleared and I glanced to Esme, watching as silent tears fell down her cheeks.

It was a strange feeling, knowing he was gone. I wasn't sad that he had passed; actually it was quite the opposite. I realized that the unshed tears had been of happiness; that the terror of my past had finally peeled its last finger from my soul.

My life was mine to live, however I wanted. Nothing from my past would ever hold me back or take me prisoner and nothing would hinder me from being myself, because there was nothing around for me to fear.

He had taken that with him when he had gone, and now I was free.

A/N: For one last time, just humour me. Let me know all your fabulous thoughts : ) There WILL be an Epilogue, but this is technically the last chapter; teasers for the Epi for those who review.

I want to say a MAJOR thank you to all my ladies over at FFA; GLee68, readingmama, Addicted Necker, Feral and Ferla, vivid. daydreamer, m81170, Silverspoon – even when we're having a wretched day, we manage to cheer each other up. Thanks for always being awesome, ladies.

Claire Bloom, AKA my online BF for life (whether she likes it or not): thank you so much for being incredibly amazing. You really have no idea how much you mean to me and I could have never gotten through all this nonsense without your help. dolphin62598: Jess, thanks a bunch for being a fantastic beta. You really know what you're talking about and I love the things you've taught me. I'm getting better, yes? Hardly any mistakes lately, haha. Thanks for being great!

Also, thanks to all my loyal reviewers, those who stopped by every chapter, even if to tell me they loved the update ; ) I really appreciate everything, just so you all know. Thanks for making this story so much more than I thought it would be.

The song quoted at the beginning (yes, I got sappy) is Two is Better Than One, by Boys Like Girls ft. TSwift. Awesome song. Love it.

Anyway, Epilogue will be up sometime within in the next week or two. Leave me some love : )