All copyrights, trademarked items, or recognizable characters, plots, etc. mentioned herein belong to their respective owners. No copying or reproduction of this work is permitted without their express written authorization. Twilight and its characters belong to Stephenie Meyer. Volition's plot belongs to me.
thanks to the lovely ladies of Team Irishward (the name never ceases to amuse me, ha) for allowing me to share this with everyone. lots of love.
The television intoned softly behind me. I wasn't really listening to it, but having it on had become a habit. Bella didn't like it as much – she said she'd enough noise with children running about.
I loosened the knot I'd just made in my tie and tried again. You'd think after all these years I'd be good at this shite, but no. I still preferred having my wife do it. But she was busy so I was on my own this morning.
A familiar name caught my attention and I glanced back at the screen, stilling my movements.
I let go of my tie and sank on to the unmade bed, feeling as if the breath had been knocked from me.
It was an old, overwhelming feeling, one that reminded me of a long time ago. Didn't matter I'd been gone for a decade… it never left me.
Bobby Sands had died a few days before. It was all over the television, which surprised me some; American reactions toward the hunger strikes back home were divided and not always sympathetic. At least, that's how it felt. I supposed cities with larger Irish populations like Boston and New York were mourning just fine but sometimes Seattle felt like the edge of the feckin' world in that regard.
I couldn't believe it, only I could.
The hunger strikes had been going on for awhile. I'd known it would end badly – we all had – but seeing it plain as day like that broke my heart. Bobby had been just twenty seven, hardly younger than me.
Pictures of him and Long Kesh, the prison where he'd been incarcerated, flashed across the screen.
He'd died for nothing. He'd died for everything.
Yeah, times like this I was back in Belfast as if I'd never left. No time had passed. But it was also times like this I remembered exactly why I'd left. While a part of me would always feel that burn to do something, I could accept that I'd done my part for my country. I had different struggles now, familial obligations.
Grace appeared in the doorway, the ribbons in her hair the same blue as her dress. "Daddy?"
Tearing my eyes from the screen I focused on my eldest daughter, trying to swallow back the lump in my throat.
"Mom's freaking out because she can't find the keys to the Chevy."
"What does she bleedin' need them for?" I asked, exasperated. We didn't even drive that car anymore.
"So Gran and Gramps can drive it to church," Grace sighed, looking just like her mother with her big brown eyes and her long dark hair. I wouldn't let her cut it.
"I'll be right down," I promised.
"We're gonna be late." She folded her arms, not leaving.
And I didn't want her to leave. I didn't want to be alone in the bedroom, thinking about Bobby and the never feckin' ending conflict.
So I stood up, turning the telly off.
I pulled Grace's ribbon, teasing her, as we walked down the stairs together.
"Dad," she groaned, hurrying the ribbon back into a bow. She was such a girly girl, much more so than I remembered her mum being around that age.
Bella was half tearing the kitchen apart, looking for something as one of the twins clung to her. She looked like she was about to cry. "Where's my purse?"
"I saw it on the stairs," I said, snatching Gemma from her mother's leg.
Bella half ran from the room and I turned to Renee, who was waiting with Charlie by the door. "We can take the twins," she offered, gesturing toward Gemma. "Where's Molly?"
"I'll find her," I said, handing the child in my arms off to her grandmother. "Charlie, the keys to the Chevy are hangin' by the garage door. The red key chain."
"Right-o." He nodded and left with Renee and Gemma, probably glad to be escaping the insanity. I spun around, nearly colliding with Bella as she came back into the room with her bag.
I grasped her arms, kissing her forehead before releasing her. "Where's Molly?"
"I don't know… the stairs maybe?"
As Bella had suggested, I found Molly beneath the stairs and rushed her outside to where Charlie and Renee were idling on the curb.
"Thanks, Renee. We're right behind you, yeah?"
She smiled, shaking her head as they pulled away.
You'd think by baptism number five we'd be old pros.
Frankly, it had only gotten worse.
Jack had come first.
For awhile it was just me and Bella and the baby, living in a tiny flat while I worked through med school. Those were simple times. We'd had a rough time of it, sometimes having very little to work with, but we'd managed. If my Da could do it when he'd been young then so could I.
But it's not like it was a bad period for us. Some of my favorite memories were of that flat, spending Saturday mornings in bed with baby Jack between us.
Grace was born a year later, and the twins a few years after that.
I couldn't count how many times we'd moved. Bella probably could; she'd always been the one packing our shite while I was at work. Our homes tended to reflect both my income and how many little ones we had at the moment. When we found out Bella was pregnant with number five, we knew we'd outgrown our starter home.
Bella and Rose had found the house while driving around Madison Park one day. I'd have gone anywhere Bella wanted, really, but she'd insisted I take a tour the next time I had time. We took the tour together and watching Bella's reactions to things made me want it as much as she did. By the time she was in her third trimester we'd closed on the house.
Anthony James was born several months later.
We'd given him my middle name as well as the name of a fallen friend. James had passed away several years before in prison. I'd found out from Seamus, years after leaving Belfast, that James was one of the reasons Bella and I had been able to leave undetected. I owed my freedom to him and not a day went by that I didn't think of him.
"Edward?" Bella was at my side, slipping her arm though mine. "We're late."
"We're always late," I reminded her. "It's practically tradition."
"Tradition I can do without," she murmured, pulling away.
I pulled her right back, kissing her. Never got enough of that mouth, which is probably why we found ourselves in this position again and again – rushing to the hospital, rushing to the church, rushing to school.
"Oh gross," Jack complained, appearing from thin air.
"Get in the car," I sighed. "And bring your sister."
He cocked his head. "Which one?"
"Grace, ya smartass."
Bella gave me a withering look and wrestled my tie into a Windsor.
St. Anne's was packed with our family and friends. Jaysus, I hoped they'd all fit in the yard for the get-together afterwards.
Like Charlie and Renee, my parents had traveled from Belfast for the christening. It was sort of a big deal having everyone in the same place again, a far cry from the very beginning, when only Em, Rose and Liam stood with us for Jack's baptism. Now they were in the front pew with their brood of seven, as were Alice and Jasper, who had come from Austin. They had two boys and another on the way.
Soon Bella and I were standing at the altar with a very squirmy Anthony. He was going to be strong, I could tell by how he struggled against his mother's embrace.
Wordlessly, I held out my hands and she turned him over to me.
I'd always love this, holding the children Bella had given me, smelling their baby hair, touching my cheek to theirs.
It never got old, seeing Edward that way with our babies.
He was so good with them, patient in ways even I wasn't. Granted, I was the one home with them all of the time, but still. He was a great father. It was easy to forget the years of struggle and financial hardship at times like this, when things just seemed so right and so good.
We'd worked hard to get to where we were and I couldn't be more proud of Edward and what he'd accomplished. In the past year he had begun taking on more responsibilities at Harborview Medical's ER. He was young, but he'd already begun establishing quite a reputation locally as a promising doctor.
We were beyond blessed. And God, he just got more and more handsome by the day.
He winked at me then, probably recognizing the lusty glint in my eye. I smiled and turned my focus back to Father Murphy. Edward was the last person I needed to be looking at right now, making me blush with his cheeky glances.
That was the sort of shite that got us in trouble.
The christening was a brief affair. We thanked Father – he'd baptized every one of our children – and convened with everyone outside. It was a mild day, the sun shining gently at the edges of the clouds.
Anthony began fussing. The poor thing was likely starving.
I caught Edward's eye and motioned toward the car, knowing he'd stand about and shoot the breeze with everyone if I didn't pull him away now.
We'd set up the yard ahead of time, dressing it with tables and chairs and balloons. I ducked into the bedroom to feed Anthony, letting my parents and in-laws handle the food downstairs.
He was a gorgeous baby, with eyes and hair like his Da. I held his little foot while he nursed, amused at how calm and behaved he was when he was eating. This was one of the things I missed when they got older, how they'd gaze at me as I gazed at them, this little space in time when there was nothing else. It was so simple.
Eventually he was sated, so I burped him and changed him and brought him back to his family so they could dote on him some more. At this rate I'd hardly see him for the rest of the day, with all of the eager sets of arms waiting for a turn.
I made myself a plate of food, wondering where Edward was. Usually he was right at the front of things, tellin' tales or acting the fool with Emmett. Neither of them had grown up in that regard.
She turned at my voice, smiling expectantly when she saw the baby. I gave him to her, grateful for the reprieve.
"Have you seen Edward?" I asked.
"He went inside a while ago, so he did."
Leaving her with Anthony I returned to the house, wondering why I hadn't seen Edward on my way out moments before.
It didn't take me long to find him, though. He was in his study, a newspaper laid out across his desk.
I lingered in the doorway, recognizing the tension in his face. It brought about an old sensation in my chest, something I hadn't felt in a bit.
After a moment he looked up. "Bobby Sands died."
My heart lurched. "When?"
I sat in the chair across from him, resting my arms on his desk. "Y'alright?"
"It's taken me for a bit of ride. I… I don't know. We've been expecting this, but now…" He frowned, looking back at the newspaper, at a photo of Bobby.
We sat in silence awhile. Every now and then things like this happened, dragging us right back into the state of things at home. Sometimes Edward felt guilty, I could tell. There was still a bit of fight in him left and he'd always be sympathetic to the cause.
And I didn't blame hm. That fire was one of the things I loved most about him.
As for me, I loved Seattle – always had –and I loved our life. Still, there were days I missed Belfast so bad and knowing we could never go back ached. I knew in my heart we'd made the right choices, but that didn't make it hurt any less. I wanted my children to see where they'd come from.
Emmett's laugh boomed obnoxiously from the backyard, snapping me from my reverie.
Edward's eyes met mine, and we shared a smile. I stood up and went around to his side of the desk, craving closeness. He turned toward me and rested his head on my stomach, something he'd always done. I ran my fingers through his hair, loving it. Loving him.
After a moment he kissed my belly and stood, wrapping his arms around me.
He didn't have to say anything; I knew.
He just needed me to be there.
The best part about having our parents visit was that they insisted on cleaning up. Mum and Esme did the dishes while Da and Carlisle nattered about out back, their voices punctuated by laughter and the clanking of bottles.
For once, Anthony was asleep early. He'd been thoroughly knackered by the time the last of our guests had left and after a quick bath I put him down. He still woke up all during the night to eat, so his crib stayed in the corner of our bedroom.
Grace helped sometimes with the younger children, even though she was still quite young herself, but she was off the hook tonight. She'd done enough earlier, before the christening. I finished up with Gemma and Molly and got them into bed, calling for Edward to take over so that I could finally take a shower.
He did it better, anyway.
No one told bedtime stories the way he did and no one had quite as much fun saying prayers. I listened for a moment to the rise and fall of his voice as he read them one of their favorite books before slipping down the hall.
I took a long shower, washing the sweat from my skin. Had I not been so exhausted I'd have gone for a bath, but dozing and then waking in ice cold water didn't sound too appealing. For someone who hadn't dealt much with young children growing up, I really loved having a large family of my own.
Things were hectic but never dull. And depending on the weather, I spent as much time outside with smaller ones as possible while Jack and Grace were at school. That was my method: tire them out before they tired me out.
It had been a good day, though. I couldn't remember the last time I'd been surrounded by this much family; it felt like home.
Edward was peeling his clothes from his body as I stepped out. He watched me wrap a towel around my hair.
"The girls are asleep?"
He nodded. "They all are."
"Good," I sighed. "I'm worn out."
"Sure y'want to get out?" he asked, trailing a finger along the wet skin of my hip.
I nodded, pressing close to him, dampening his skin with my own. He reached up and unwound the towel from my head, letting my hair fall. It was still long, though nowhere near as long as it had been once.
I recognized the desire; it was written plain as day all over his face and in other parts of his body as well. I knew it like I knew my own body, like how I was reacting to him this very second.
He caught my face between his hands and kissed me deeply, letting me know.
"Hurry," I whispered, tearing myself away.
He grinned down at me, nodding slightly before moving around me to get into the shower.
After drying off properly I went into our room and lay flat on the bed, knowing there was little point in putting any sort of clothing on. Edward would just take it off anyway and I wasn't in the mood for coyness and games.
We'd been married for nearly nine years. It was difficult to believe; in some ways I felt like we'd been together forever. And, in a way we had – we'd grown up together after all. But then in other ways our relationship felt fresh. I never tired of seeing his face, always felt my heart skip a beat when he came home from work. It wasn't a crazy, out of control feeling the way it had been when I was younger, but it was intense and real all the same. Mum said that's how you knew you'd chosen the right one and I supposed she was right.
Over the years there had been times when I was too tired to make love. Other times he was the one falling asleep before I could make my move. But other times, like now, we were on the same page. We hadn't had much time since Anthony's birth but I'd been ready for awhile now.
He came to me, his skin soft and damp from bathing. "Missed you."
"I've been here," I said, but I knew what he meant. "I missed you too."
He kissed me softly and I kissed back, running my tongue lightly against his.
"Are you… all right?" I asked after a moment, noticing his distracted expression.
He knew what I was asking. I hadn't been able to fully chase thoughts of Bobby Sands and his ordeal from my mind, so I knew Edward hadn't been able to either.
"I'm fine," he answered, eyes downcast. "I will be. Just one of those things, you know? Caught me a bit unawares is all."
Nodding, I took him into my arms and held him close, loving him with all that I had. When I thought about where we'd come from and how easily he could've been lost to me I shuddered inwardly, glad we'd escaped when we had.
I thanked God every single day for the life we'd been given.
I let my legs fall open as he crawled between them, kissing my thighs and belly. Childbearing had changed my body and I was no longer as thin as I'd been once. My hips were wider, my tummy rounder. Depending on my mood, I was either endeared by this or frustrated by it. But Edward loved it. He kissed my belly button and then came to my side, drawing me close to kiss.
His hands were all over me, owning me like they always had. I responded in kind, touching him in the places I knew he liked, some hidden and some obvious. I could feel him hard against my leg and it excited me, knowing that in moments I'd be feeling him fully.
Edward kissed me, drawing my bottom lip down with his thumb before leaving my mouth altogether and working his way lower, kissing me where he knew I wanted.
I sank my fingers into his hair, tugging gently. Time had given us technique, methods of coaxing orgasms from each other's bodies. He brought me to the brink and worked in his fingers inside, making me clench inside.
When I came he kissed his way up to my mouth and pushed into me, where he'd made me wet and slick and ready. I'd never get tired of this; never grow bored with the physical aspect of our relationship. Each time we made love was the best time.
"Oh God, Bella," he grunted, hitching my leg up higher. I gave him my other leg, knowing he loved to do it that way. I liked it too; he went a lot deeper. I moved with him, clung to him, wordless, unable to feel or focus on anything than him inside of me.
"I love you, I love you," I whispered, kissing his ear.
Edward eased back, gazing down at me. "I love you. Always."
It was impossible to tell where he ended and I began.