Chapter 37

Disclaimer – Stephenie Meyer owns it all.

After getting dressed, Mr. Samuel drove us to the courthouse. He escorted us inside, and Mr. Baker's goons were nowhere to be seen. That was lucky for them. We walked towards the courtroom, and when Edward opened the door and we each filed in one by one, Mr. Baker's face told the tell. He became as pale as we were. He started trembling, and when he leaned over to his head goon and whispered, "I thought you took care of them last night," we heard every word.

"We did, too. We blew up both of their houses, just like you said. Those three were standing on the roof when the missile hit the big house. They're not human! I don't know what they are, but they're not human!" he whispered back.

I couldn't help myself. I walked over to Mr. Baker who was still white as a ghost. "That's the first thing that your men have gotten right this whole time," I whispered to him before I turned and walked back to the others way too fast to be human. Mr. Baker fell into his chair. His knees wouldn't support him anymore.

Right then, the bailiff came into the room and called for us all to rise so that the judge could come into the room. We all did, but Mr. Baker had to hold onto the table for support. When the judge sat down, the bailiff said that we could all be seated, and we all took our seats, Mr. Baker almost missing his. It was then that his attorney ran into the room, apologizing to the court for being late. He, too, looked surprised to see us all present and accounted for. When he leaned over to whisper to Mr. Baker, Stanley just waved him away.

"Mr. Swan, are you able to take the stand and proceed today?" the judge asked Charlie.

"Yes, sir. I am able," Charlie said, and he got up from the bench and began walking towards the front of the room. Just as soon as he made it past the defendant's table, one of Mr. Baker's goons leaped up and drew a gun. I rushed to Charlie and threw him to the floor while Edward and Jasper took care of disarming the muscle man. The bailiff took the man into custody, and Edward and Jasper took the opportunity to take out the rest of Mr. Baker's men during the confusion. Alice helped me with Charlie, and soon the room was filled with policemen. I didn't even ask Edward what they'd done with the henchmen. I knew they were currently indisposed, most likely on the roof, waiting to be dealt with at a later time. I also knew that Mr. Baker had just played the last card in his hand. He would not survive the night.

"Order! Order! I'll have order in this courtroom!" the judge kept calling out. Alice and I were sitting next to Charlie who was shaking this time. I think that everything had finally gotten to him. The police chief had finally arrived, and after seeing that it was us who had been involved, explained to the judge that both of our houses had been blown up during the night last night in another murder attempt.

"Mr. Swan, I do believe that someone, and I'll allow the district attorney to investigate who that someone may be, has it out for you. I'm going to adjourn court today. Do you think that you will be up to coming back in tomorrow morning for your testimony?" the judge asked.

"I'm ready now to give my testimony, Your Honor. Nobody," Charlie looked at Mr. Baker, "is going to scare me away."

"Well, I'm glad that you have that intestinal fortitude, Mr. Swan, but let's say that I don't. I need to take the rest of the day off. So if you will come in for a third day, tomorrow will be fine," the judge said.

"Yes, sir. Tomorrow will be fine," Charlie said.

"I presume that you will put a protective detail on Mr. Swan?" the judge asked the Chief of Police.

"Yes, Your Honor. We most certainly will," the Chief of Police said.

"Court is Adjourned," said the judge.

"All rise," said the bailiff, and we all stood.

"Mr. Swan, will you allow us to put you under our protection?" the Police Chief asked.

"No, thank you. My family has protected me so far, and no offense, but I trust them. I've heard that your number one suspect has people inside the force," Charlie said.

"I'm not going to deny that, though I hope that it isn't true. If you change your mind, let me know," the Chief of Police responded.

Charlie nodded, and taking Alice's and my hands, we walked out of the room. Unfortunately, the building was saturated with cops, so we couldn't take Mr. Baker at the moment. We'd have to wait a few hours before we disposed of him, permanent like. So, for now, we walked to the bank and Edward took out enough money to buy us a new 4-wheel drive off road vehicle that would take us where we needed to go. He was mighty pissed that his Aston Martin had been burned up in the fire, and he was determined that Mr. Baker was going to pay for that little indiscretion as well.

We went to the same car dealership that sold us Charlie's truck. The manager recognized Edward when we walked up, and he gave us a good deal on the closest thing to what we were looking for. When we drove home, Alice promised to watch Charlie while we took care of business. She had seen what we were going to do, and she knew that Charlie didn't need to know any of what we were going to do.

In vampire volume, she did ask me to allow the guys to do all of the killing. She said that when Charlie figured it out, he would be extremely hurt to know that it was me that had killed Mr. Baker. She saw that he had lost a great bit of the respect he had for me as his daughter because he had taught me better than that. He had wanted the court system to take care of Mr. Baker. I looked at her, and in vampire volume, I told her that I couldn't let the bastard that had tried so many times to kill my father to walk away. She nodded, but she looked sad.

She headed for the woods with Charlie on her back when the rest of us started for town. We were headed for the ones that Edward and Jasper had "occupied" during the shooting attempt this morning first. Sure enough, they were waiting on the roof of the courthouse. We moved them to the little cabin in the woods and made sure that they were bound with their comrades. Then we went to Mr. Baker's office. There weren't many goons guarding the place. Only three or four were even left to put up a pretense of force. They were incapacitated within seconds. Then there was the office with Mr. Baker in it. His scent was there. I'm sure that he was sitting there with a gun cocked and aimed at the door.

Edward was about to go through the door, but I stopped him with my hand on his shoulder. In vampire volume, I told him that this one belonged to me. He looked at me, started to say something, and then he nodded. I stepped around him and opened the door. The sound of a gun going off rang through the air. I felt the bullet hit me on the forehead. I looked up. Mr. Baker was there with his attorney. Mr. Baker held the smoking gun.

I held up my hand and looked him in the eye. "I wouldn't do that again if I were you," I said as I walked closer to him. "You've already made me angrier than I've ever been in my life today. I think that you've used up your last life today. I wouldn't try me anymore."

"What are you?" he asked.

"Wouldn't you like to know," I said, removing the video camera that his attorney had in his hand. "Isn't it enough to know that you can't escape. Now you've made it so that he can't escape, either."

"Swan isn't one of you, is he?" Mr. Baker said.

"Yes, he is. He's my father," I said. "That makes him one of us, a very important one of us. One of us that I'll kill for. If you would've left him alone after the first time that we let ourselves known to you, you may have lived, but now, that just isn't possible. Your wife not only will get what she wanted in her divorce, she'll get everything you had as a widow."

"You don't have to do this. I'll leave you and your family alone. I swear it!" Mr. Baker said.

"I'm so sorry. You don't learn fast enough. We gave you several chances, and now that you know that we're not exactly human, you have to die. It's either us or the Volturi, and you're really lucky it's us. They don't kill you humanely. In fact, it's me. It could've been one of the others. They have so much more experience in killing humans than I do. In fact, you'll be my first, and I did so want to keep a clean record. Oh, well. Sometimes we all have to do things that we don't want to do," I said.

"You don't have to kill him. I'll do it for you. My record is far from clean. You know that Charlie won't like it if you kill them, B.," Jasper said.

"No, I said I'd do it. Now don't fight me boys. Just tell me the easiest way to do it without falling off the wagon. I don't want to do that," I said.

At that moment, Edward rushed forward and snapped his neck. He had the other one in his arms and was about to snap his neck as well when I leaped on him, pulling him away. "Why'd you do that?" I wailed.

"You were hemming and hawing, and I didn't want you to ruin your record. What's done is done. Now do we have to kill this one?" he asked.

"Yes," Jasper said. "Read his mind. He's in on this, and he won't keep quiet. I can feel it in his emotions."

Edward snapped his neck, and then he went behind the desk and removed a video tape from the recorder that was hidden there. He went to the wall and removed another tape from the recorder that was hidden there, and then he went to the basement and removed a fourth from the building's system. Jasper went back to the desk and fumbled around for keys and found a set that went to a safety deposit box. He took them, and then he took the keys from both men. After that, we left the building the way that we came, from the top floor and the roof. On the way back to the camp-out, we buried them under a boulder in the woods.

When we arrived back at the camp-out, Alice had already set up everything for Charlie. She had marked a good perimeter, and was already on patrol. We told her that we didn't think that there was any reason to patrol any longer, and we were going to stay the night there for safety's sake. She asked about the trip into town, and Jasper explained in vampire volume everything that had happened. She was relieved that I hadn't made any of the kills.

While Charlie was asleep, Edward told Jasper and Alice about my discussion with him over going back to the Cullens. They were astonished that I wanted to try again with Rose, but I told them that I'd been living for the past six years with Rose hating me. That was nothing new on my part. I told them that we'd all gotten along great, and that it was time for the family to see us this way. Emmett missed us, and I was sure that Esme did, too. That left Carlisle. I had a feeling that he wanted us back. We were now homeless. We could either start over here, or we could start over at home, with our family. We discussed all of the possibilities, and the most logical choice was to go home. I was certain that Charlie would go with us. Hopefully, we could get his house back, as well as his job on the force.

The next morning, we got dressed and went back into town, back to the courthouse. We got there right at nine o'clock, and we all took our seats around Charlie, just as usual. When nine o'clock rolled around, the bailiff came out and called for all to rise, and when the judge came out, he was pissed that the defendant and his attorney weren't ready for court. He had someone go call the attorney's office, and no one answered. Because the part of Charlie's testimony that was left was the cross-examination, the judge excused Charlie from the stand and said that they'd waived the right to cross-examine him.

Charlie looked relieved and thanked the judge for his time. Then we all left the courtroom. We had our paperwork with us from the house, so we went to Mr. Samuels' office. He said that he'd been expecting us, and he'd lined up some new houses for us to look at. We looked at each other, and Edward said, "I don't know that we want to look for anything here right now. I think that we want to move on. Things just didn't work out here the way that we were hoping that they would, and I think that we need to try to relocate near some distant relatives. We need you to forward us the final judgement on the houses from the Fire Chief, and when you do, we'll be able to file the paperwork on the houses and the vehicles. Here is our forwarding address."

When we left the office, Charlie said, "Going home to the Cullens, are we?" We all nodded, and he did too. "Good. It's about time."

We went by the school and grabbed our things. The kids were at break when we stopped by, and Theresa came up to me. "Where have you been, Bella?"

"Away," I said. "I had some things to take care of, and then our house exploded."

"Yeah, I heard that. I'm so glad that you're okay. I felt so guilty that the last thing that I said to you was so harsh," she said.

"It's no problem," I said. "I'm over it. We're moving closer to some relatives. It'll make things easier. Good-bye."

"But, Bella, I want to keep in touch," she said.

"I'm sorry, but I don't think that'll be possible. My kind don't do very well with your kind. It was something that Edward and the others tried to tell me, but I just got hurt trying to do," I said, and I took Edward's hand and walked to the truck. We put our things in the back of the truck, and I turned and kissed Edward, hard, reminding myself that he was all that I needed.

The trip back to Lebanon, New Hampshire took less time that it took us to leave it being that we didn't bring back any property. Everything was gone. All of Charlie's antique furniture, all of the furniture that had belonged to his grandmother, everything was gone. All we had to do was drive home, and Edward did that at Mach speeds.

As soon as we arrived at the town limits, we all got nervous, all that is except for Charlie. Charlie was sleeping like a baby. It was almost mid-night. Edward had timed it so everyone would be at home. He pulled into the driveway at five minutes 'til. The family was gathered on the porch by the time that we were parked in front of the house. We all got out, well except for Charlie, and stood beside the truck.

Everyone was silent. I didn't know whether Edward and Carlisle were having a silent conversation, but I guessed that they were. I didn't know if there was some protocol that I was about to breach, but I couldn't stand the silence any longer, so I said, "Well, are we welcomed back, or should we get back in and leave?"

Esme looked at Carlisle for a split second, then she said, "You and Edward continue to work things out," and then she looked at me, "Of course you're welcomed back. I've missed you so much!" She left the stairs and ran into my arms.

I hugged her back and said, "I've really missed you, too. It hasn't been the same without you."

Then she ran to Alice and Jasper and hugged them, too. Then she went to Edward and said, "Son, I've missed you. Please don't ever leave me again." He quit looking at Carlisle and leaned over and hugged her back.

"Mom, I've missed you, too. I don't ever want to leave again. We've got quite the story to tell," he said. Then he walked up to Carlisle who held out his hand to him. Edward ignored the hand and reached out to hug him. "Dad, I'm so sorry that we ran. Bella told me that we should have stayed and fought our battles here, and she had a point. How can we ever get everything straight if we're not here to show you our love for one another?"

I went up to Rose and Emmett and said, "Hi Emmett, I've missed you. Rose, I've missed you, too. We've got to get past the past and be a family. I'm ready to do that. I only hope that you are as well. We've got some stories to tell. We've got a lot of starting over to do, and I can only hope that you'll shop with Alice and me. Otherwise, I've got some long, boring days ahead of me."

"Emmett, did she just say shop?" Rose asked. Emmett nodded. "I guess that I can do that," she said.

I went to the truck and woke up Charlie. "We're here, Charlie. I'll get you upstairs so you can sleep in a bed." I thought that he would want to sleep since he'd been up for so long and hadn't slept well in so many days, but I was wrong. He wanted to talk to Carlisle and Esme, so we told all about our life away from them. He told them about his time as a private investigator and about his one and only client and the trouble that it got him into. We told them in vampire volume about having to take care of the mob and the mob boss. He told them about the missiles and about our homes getting blown up. They were appalled about Charlie losing all of his possessions, and Rose was heart broken about Edward's car.

Esme was horrified that we'd been through everything that we'd been through, and she said that she was thankful that Edward had kept me from killing Mr. Baker and his attorney. Carlisle said that he agreed, though he wished that there'd been another way without the loss of life. However, after Charlie had gone to bed, and we'd finished the rest of the story, he decided that the men got what they'd deserved.

Esme was happy the next morning to tell Charlie that they'd not sold his house, hoping that he'd come back to us. He was ecstatic. The only thing left to do was buy him all new furniture. Edward spent some time during the night setting back up our bank accounts. He and Charlie went to the bank first thing that morning and got money to fund restocking his house. He also got enough money for us some vehicles. He gave Charlie the truck. Then he and I went to buy us a reasonable car to use while in the Cullen family. He gave me enough money to go shopping with Alice and Rose, and I rode with them into Concord in order to replace our wardrobe. We would also be replacing the immediate needs of our men. Some of the shopping was done by online ordering, but at least a day's worth was done in person. I needed to re-establish my connection with the girls.

Over the weekend, we talked about whether or not we would be going back to school. Everyone was sure that we'd be too far behind as far as the school was concerned to start back. We didn't even have a story to tell them that would satisfy anybody's questions. We couldn't say that we were in school because Jasper attended school in the same grade that we did while we were gone. We couldn't say that we ran away because they hadn't reported our absence to the police. We couldn't say that we'd been home schooled because there wasn't any record of us applying to any program. Basically, we'd have to continue to lay low until Jenks could fix up something to satisfy the school system. We decided that we wanted to have been home schooled so Jasper got on the phone with Jenks who e-mailed the documents immediately. We'd played that scenario before, and that's what Emmett and Rose had told everyone anyway.

We managed to get Charlie settled into his home over the weekend as well, and with a small, quiet donation to the police department, they didn't hold any grudge against his leaving without much notice less than three months ago. They graciously reinstated him into the force as if he was never absent, marking his time that he was gone as a leave of absence. He was ecstatic over the turn of events.

When Monday rolled around, we went back to the school with Carlisle who took us to Mr. Vance's office. Carlisle produced the home school paperwork and got us re-registered, and to his credit, Mr. Vance didn't ask why we were pulled out of school just to re-enter less than three months later. We all re-joined our classes and picked up where we left off. Some of the students stared at us when we entered the classes, but none of them were nosy enough to question us about where we'd been. Of course we heard the rumors that went around, but none of us cared enough to listen to them.

Over the next few months, the family took its time adjusting to each other. Carlisle and Rose took the longest, sometimes looking between Jasper and me with loathing on their faces, but we were able to overlook those times, and eventually they forgot that they were supposed to be upset at us and life went back to usual as things were before my indiscretions with Jasper. Edward and I had a wonderful life together. Alice and Jasper also had a wonderful life together. The whole family acted like a family, and we lived in Lebanon for a total of four more years.

During the next twenty years, we moved every four to eight years, as the situation warranted. However, after twenty years, Charlie had a heart attack one day on the job as he was chasing a suspect in the woods. He was pronounced dead at the scene, and was given a full police funeral. Luckily, the day was rainy, and we were all able to attend. I clung to Edward as I sobbed, my life completely behind me now. Charlie had never given in to our offers to change him, and he went out the way he would've wanted to go. Everyone was sad to see him pass away, as they all had grown accustomed to him being around. It was really strange the first time that we moved without taking "Charlie breaks."

After Charlie's death, Alice, Edward and I decided that we wanted something different. We decided that we wanted to go back to medical school. We were already in college, just finishing up an eight year stent in the college town that we were in. Edward and the rest of the family decided that we should go to Hanover, New Hampshire. It was too soon to go back to Lebanon, but Carlisle could get a job at Dartmouth Medical School where we were attending. It all sounded too good. We decided to go for it. Jasper decided to get another PhD in the civil war. Rosalie decided to get a PhD in mechanical engineering, and Emmett decided to get a PhD in Psychology.

We got our acceptance letters within days of each other. We all applied honestly, based on the grades that we'd made in undergraduate school. We found a house and moved in immediately. Carlisle began immediately in his position and loved being back in the teaching world. He was ecstatic and researched all of the time to be ahead of the game. His students didn't appreciate that at all.

When it came time to begin school, we got our invitation to the get to know you party with the Dean of the Medical School the night before. He had been away on business during our interviews, and we hadn't gotten to meet him, but he was supposed to be there that night. We went to the party, and when we got there, Alice and Edward got a smile on their faces. I kept asking them what was going on, and they wouldn't tell me. Eventually, we found the line to meet the Dean, and we gathered around the area so that we could meet him. As he turned from the person that he was talking to, he noticed us and excused himself and walked over to us.

"I'm glad that you finally arrived. It's so good to see you. I'm so sorry that I wasn't here during your interviews. Bella, you look great! I always wondered what you would look like, and you don't disappoint," he said.

"It's good to see you again, Thomas, or should I say, Dr. Gates?" Edward said. "You've done well for yourself, I see, Dean of Dartmouth School of Medicine."

"Well, I had to work hard. My study partner left me during the first semester of my freshman year," he said, "but it looks like her new life agrees with her."

"Thomas? You're kidding? Thomas Gates? My Thomas?" I asked. I hugged him.

"UM, Bella, that isn't really proper here. I am your Dean, and I am right at twenty-five years older than you. My wife isn't going to understand me hugging my students," Thomas said.

"Oh, I'm so sorry, Thomas. Let me introduce me you to my husband, Edward Cullen. I'm Bella Cullen, and this is my sister-in-law, Alice Cullen," I said, picking back up my role as a student, well almost picking back up my role. I still called him, "Thomas."

"Thomas, who do we have here?" an older woman asked as she walked up to him and took his hand.

"Bella and Edward Cullen, Alice Cullen, this is my wife Patricia Gates. I knew Bella's father from back in medical school."

"Oh, I see. Well, it's nice to meet you. Honey, we'd better mingle," she said.

"Yes, dear. It's been nice seeing all of you again. We'll have to talk later," he said, and he winked at us as he turned to walk away with his wife.

"She's jealous of you," Edward said in vampire volume.

"She has nothing to be jealous of. I just missed Thomas. I wonder if he still wants to be turned," I said back.

"I no longer see him as one of us. He'll grow old as a human," Alice said.

The next morning, we gathered in the auditorium with all of the other first time medical students. Dr. Gates came in and introduced himself. He addressed the class.

"May I have your attention? Everyone settle down, please. My name is Dr. Thomas Gates. I am the Dean of Students. I met some of you yesterday afternoon at the Freshman Tea. I want to welcome all of you to the Dartmouth University School of Medicine Class of 2036. Today is a momentous day in each of your lives. Today marks the beginning of your medical education. From this day forward ...