Every story of Domestic Violence has its own end, and not all are happy. When I started my Freshman year, it was at a Women's College where they made sure to bring up the subject of abuse and sexual assault. 1 out of 3 was the statistic they used, as many do, but what they didn't understand was that to the people in the room that had already found themselves the victim of some form of DV, it does little to bring comfort. Domestic violence isn't simply about the act, as I've learned more through the writing of this story than I have from any single activity before or since I started writing it a year and a half ago, is that it's about the days that follow it. This future-take is dedicated not only to victims of domestic violence, but to their loved ones, who suffer with them and struggle to help them find a happily ever after of their own.
This was originally a future take for Fandom Against Domestic Violence, but now it sits nicely at the end of this story. A huge amount of thanks to my beta A Cullen Wannabe, Mizzdee, for helping me in private WC's and all my regular WC ladies for the support and help with this story.
I've been crying for days thinking about the fact that I'm finally saying good-bye to these characters, but I'm happy that they've gotten their end and I'm thrilled to move on to my other fics, both ones that I'm wrapping up and new one. To every reader, reviewer and critic of this story, thank you. I wrote this as an example of the issue driven pieces I write in theater, but it has grown into a labor of love that I hope you've enjoyed. Please review this chapter to let me know what you thought, I will respond to all the reviews for these epi's. Thank you.
Friends in Love: A Little Piece of Happily Ever After
I was teaching my 3:50 Intro to Literature class when I spotted my TA in the back of the lecture hall, waving to get my attention. I motioned for her to come to the front of the room while I asked the class to search for examples of deceit in Hamlet.
"I'm sorry Dr. Cullen, but Alice called. Chris and Johanna are both in the Principal's office at the elementary school. She wouldn't say what was going on, but she said she tried getting in touch with Dr. E, but the school wants to speak with one of their parents before they let them go home. Do you need me to finish the lecture?"
I nodded and then called the class to attention. "Okay, Miranda will be finishing today's class, but keep in mind that I will know how you behave and talking back to my TA will result in serious consequences."
With my warning over, I grabbed my bag, headed over to the parking lot, and got in my car. Driving to the school, I called Edward's cellphone twice, but it went to voicemail, both times.
As I arrived at the Jackson Elementary School, which Johanna and Tracie both attend, I pulled into one of the parent's parking spaces and walked to the main entrance. After signing in, I headed to the principal's office and found Alice sitting with my brood, another boy sitting across from them, his arms crossed around his chest and a black eye already appearing on his face. I was about to ask the kids what happened when Principal Barry called us all into his office. Alice sat with Tracie while I walked Christopher and Johanna in, closing the door behind me.
"Dr. Cullen, I'm sorry we had to call you in today, but we have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to this type of behavior. Your son, a student at the high school, attacked one of our students without provocation-"
"He was pushing Jojo; she was crying he had her so upset! This is bull!" Chris yelled and I turned on him.
"Christopher Brendan Cullen, you are not helping yourself here. You'll be respectful of Mr. Barry while you sit in this office." Turning to my daughter, I placed my hand on her knee. "Johanna, did that boy push you?"
She nodded, sniffling softly. "He picks on me all the time. Jimmy finds me when we're on recess and when I'm waiting for my ride after school."
"What does he do?" Mr. Barry asked and she shrunk in her seat.
"Jimmy pushes me down and calls me names. He says I'm a bookworm and a daddy's girl. He calls me rich kid and takes my bag away and throws it in the dirt."
Just then, there was a knock on the door and Jimmy and his mother sat across from us. "Mrs. Hunter, I'm glad you were able to join us."
"I'd like to know what is going to happen to that little hoodlum." Mrs. Hunter spit in my direction.
"We were just finding out about your son's actions in the past few weeks. Now Johanna, did you tell any of the school aids about him picking on you?"
"They said he probably just had a crush on me." I turned to Johanna to see that she wasn't happy that Jimmy was now in the room with us.
"Yeah right, like I'd have a crush on an ugly nerd." Jimmy spoke with the same venom as his mother and I lost it.
"Do you hear him? Your school touts a zero tolerance policy for bullying and fighting, that's fine. If you're going to ban my son from this school, then I want Jimmy Hunter suspended for bullying my daughter."
"You cannot be serious?" Mrs. Hunter shot out of her seat and I stayed as calm as possible.
"Oh, I am. If this isn't handled, and I mean really taken care of, then my lawyer will be in touch with you."
Mrs. Hunter continued to rant and I was growing weary of her. "Way to throw your money at the situation-"
"Your son has been attacking my daughter for weeks and my son stood up for his sister. Your son fought him too; I can tell from his cheek that Jimmy landed a few punches."
Finally, Mr. Barry stepped in and ended what was about to turn into a fight in its own right. "Okay, I think that considering what the aids told me and what I've heard here, I have no choice but to ban Christopher from the grounds, and Jimmy will be suspended for a week. And the next time he lands in my office for fighting, he will be expelled."
Jimmy and his mother both left the office in a huff and after a moment, we exited as well. Alice offered to take the kids, but I'd already missed my class and I wanted to spend the afternoon with my kids. This was something I'd hope could wait until they were older, but with today's events, it was time.
We got home and I ordered in pizza and let the kids forget about their homework for the night. Tracie ran right for her room when dinner was over, leaving the older kids alone with me. I pulled Christopher and Jojo into our bedroom to summon up the courage to have this talk with them. Thankfully, I didn't have to do it alone.
I was about to start telling them about my past when the front door slammed and I heard Edward's frantic voice calling to us. When we acknowledged that we were in the bedroom, he flew into the room and scooped Jojo into his arms, which caused the tears to start.
I calmly relayed today's events to Edward, who was steaming mad about what had been happening without our knowledge, but he just held Jojo tighter and gave his son a verbal high five. With the recap over, I grabbed the pillow from behind me and took a steadying breath. Edward saw the change in my demeanor and sat Jojo on the bed next to Chris, then climbed next to me, pulling me between his legs so his arms could wrap around me.
The kids noticed the change too and they watched me begin to tell them my story. "You guys know that I met your father in college, that we were roommates." Both of them nodded, but said nothing so I continued. "Well, when we first met, we were just friends. Your dad was dating another girl in our building…and I was seeing a guy I met at a party. He was really nice at first, and I thought he was a good person, but then he started hurting me and calling me names. I was too afraid and embarrassed to say anything. Your dad knew something was wrong, but he just didn't know what it was."
I felt Edward squeeze me tighter and I leaned into him, drawing strength from him. "One day he hurt me really bad and your dad came home to find him hitting me. He got my boyfriend away from me and out of the apartment. Your grandpa Carlisle took care of me at the hospital. It took a while, but with your dad's help, I was able to get better, and we've been together ever since."
"What happened to the man?" Jojo was watching me with terrified eyes but Chris was already pulling her close, never one to be ashamed of showing his softer side, just like his father.
"He's in jail, and he's never going to get out." Edward spoke in a quiet voice, his hatred for Jacob choking him up, even after all these years.
"The reason I'm telling you both this is because, after what happened today, I want you to know that you should never feel embarrassed to tell us if something is bothering you. If you're sad, or scared, or mad…you have to tell us, because holding it in will only make it worse in the end. And Christopher, even though I'm proud of how you stood up for your sister, violence should always be a last resort. You aren't a student at Jackson anymore and you could have gotten into a lot of trouble for going on campus and fighting with Jimmy."
Both of the kids got up and hugged me, and then Edward before going to get ready for bed. Edward and I did bedtime together that night and spent extra time reading to Tracie to get her to sleep. It felt good doing something normal with him, because our busy schedules makes it difficult at times, but even nicer was walking down the hall hand in hand with the whole night ahead of us.
We were barely in the room when Edward locked the door behind him and crushed me against him. "Baby, do you know how proud I am of you? You handled the mess with that little shit at the school and then you sat here and told the kids about what you went through to teach them a very important lesson. I'm amazed by your strength, Mrs. Cullen."
I traced his cheek with my right hand as I leaned into him again. "You're my strength, Edward. I wouldn't be able to get out of bed in the morning if you weren't beside me; my husband, the father of my children, my lover, and my best friend."
He moaned and lifted me onto the bed, crawling on top of me. "Can we go back to the lover part?"
"And you love it." He smirked at me and I was done for. I fumbled for the tie on the scrubs he wore home in his haste to discover the meaning behind my voicemails.
"We have to be quiet…I don't want the kids to hear us."
"Baby, Christopher snores, Jojo sleeps like the dead, and Tracie has her princess album playing, we're fine."
I giggled until his skilled fingers had my shirt up and my bra pushed just far enough out of the way for him to find my nipple and latch onto it, turning that innocent noise into a moan that I did my best to swallow. Our clothes were properly discarded and soon Edward was covering me again, his lips insistent on my neck and his erection lying against me. His slow grinding was pressing his shaft into my clit until a slight movement found his tip inside me.
I gasped at the suddenness of the movement before I pulled him to me, allowing him to slide home. Feeling that close to him, with the memory of our beginning still fresh in my mind, brought on the tears. Edward was, of course, loving as he held me, his movements slow and deliberate. When I calmed down, I started moving faster under him, knowing the pace he needed, and wanting to show him just how well I knew him too.
In the 19 years we've been together, I've learned it was better to let him do his own laundry, and that he hates when I leave the skin on the red potatoes when I make potato salad. Nothing can perk him up quicker than a veiled reference to his cock, and that the past two decades had done nothing to diminish his love for me, or my beauty in his eyes. On the contrary, I was even more beautiful, and all the more cherished.
Feeling him tremble above me, I knew that he was close, so I thrust up to meet him. Our bodies were a tangle of limbs, both of us trying to keep from yelling or moaning when our orgasms hit us. Edward's mouth was on mine, kissing me as we drowned out the other's pleasure.
I was the first to move, needing to clean up and get dressed in case the kids came looking for us early the next morning, but Edward quickly joined me. Once the room was sufficiently picked up and we were back in bed, I burrowed into the mattress, Edward pulling me against his chest.
"The kids are spending tomorrow night at your parents' for a cousin's sleepover, so do you want to order in, or I could always cook?"
Edward sighed into my hair and muttered, "It's up to you. I don't want you to cook if you don't feel like it."
There was a little bit of distance in his voice, but I knew he'd been putting in a lot of hours at the hospital, which was what led to this weekend off in the first place. "I don't mind, I think my cooking was one of the first things you fell in love with about me."
"I loved you the moment you opened the door the day I got assigned to your room." I couldn't quite put my finger on finger on his mood, but all my years of working at the women's center taught me not to push. So I cuddled into him and whispered an 'I love you' before falling asleep in his arms.
I barely slept as my mind was running a million miles a minute over the events of yesterday. The fact that some little punk had been pushing around my daughter and we didn't find out about it until her brother saw it and took action upset me. But watching Bella, who tells her story so often to the women that she speaks to at the Center for Domestic Violence and the women's shelter she volunteers for, struggle to share it with our older children broke my heart. She may be able to brave it out, but I'm nowhere near as strong as she is.
Getting up at 6:30, no longer able to stay still, I got into the shower and headed out to the car. I hoped that I could get back before Bella would think anything of my absence, but I'd have to make it quick.
Stopping at the deli, I got some breakfast and drove the two hours up to Washington Corrections Center, white knuckling the steering wheel the entire drive. Pulling into the visitor's lot, I went through security and signed in before one of the officers walked me down a long corridor to the visitor's room. I'd placed more than a few calls in the past 19 years to make sure this bastard was exactly where he belonged, but I'd never needed to see it with my own eyes like I did this morning.
The room was sterile, the industrial look reserved for hospital and state-run facilities, but my eyes were focused on the row of booths with the pair of phones and nothing more than a sheet of thick Plexiglas between the criminals and their visitors.
"They're bringing him straight from breakfast. You can sit at booth 8; he'll be here in a sec." The guard pointed to the clearly labeled booth and I walked over, taking my seat and waiting. I couldn't shake the knot in my stomach or the tapping of my left foot as the door opened and a tan man I barely recognized, but would never forget, was brought to sit in front of me. His handcuffs were removed and he was settled onto the stool.
I stared at him for a minute, noticing that he was even bigger than I remembered, his endless hours obviously spent working out, but it hadn't saved him from harm completely. His upper lip had a scar from being split almost to his nose, and his arms and face were scattered with little marks from what I could only assume were more than a few fights over what was soon to be twenty years in jail.
I had obviously been staring too long because he picked up the phone and tapped it lightly against the glass before putting it to his ear. I had no desire to talk to Jacob Black, but if I didn't at least pretend, they'd take him back to his cell. My hand clutched the phone and pressed it to my ear, only to hear a raspy voice I couldn't reconcile with the 39 year old before me. "Edward Cullen, I have to say when they told me that Dr. Cullen was here to see me, I was hoping that your pretty little wife was coming to pay her respects. It's been a while since she's been here to visit. Tell me, is her ass still as tight as it was when she was 30, or has she started to let herself go. I bet those tits of hers have started to sag, unless you worked some of your magic on her."
I dropped the phone at his goading, wanting nothing more than to fly through the glass and kill him, but I simply picked the phone back up and spoke to him through clenched teeth. "My wife isn't up for discussion, Black. You breathe another word about her and I'm gone, and I know that since your father passed away there isn't anyone to come and break up the monotony."
"Why did you come?"
"I wanted to see with my own eyes that justice really does work. I needed to see you sitting here, locked up like a dog at a no kill shelter. Only I wish they'd save the taxpayers their money and put you down. The world will be a lot better without you in it."
Black leaned in a little and whispered into the receiver. "It must keep you up at night. You saved the day, got the girl, and punished the villain, only I'm not dead. I'm going to live a long, healthy life, and that fact is rattling around in the back of your head, eating away at you. That's why you're here. I was right all those years ago when I told Bella she'd never be rid of me, because I'm with her every time you are, because you can't let me go."
I couldn't say anything back to him, because I knew he was right. Hanging up the phone, I walked out of the room and out the front door of the prison. Getting into my car, I pulled onto the road and drove the two hours back to my family, wishing I'd never made the trip.
When I arrived home, I went straight into the bedroom, changed into sweats and a t-shirt, and then ran back down to the garage and through the door off of it that led to our small home gym. I walked past the treadmill and free weights, my eyes set on the punching bag I got Bella after we moved into this house. We'd taken kick boxing in grad school to let out our frustrations and because she wanted a form of self-defense that could also help her keep fit.
Slipping my gloves on, I began lightly tapping the bag, but soon it was swinging from the chain that held it to the ceiling as I beat the hell out of the bag, the image of Jacob Black burned into the side of the bag. I could feel myself getting tired, but I pushed past the fatigue and waited for my second wind to come as I continued to pummel the weighted foam. My hatred for that man had barely waned when I heard the creaking of the door that let me know that I was no longer alone.
Waking up to an empty bed was not something that I was unaccustomed to. I'd long since grown out of my need for Edward to wake me when he left because of the fear that Jacob had instilled about waking up alone. But he didn't have to be into the hospital at all this weekend, so waking up at 7am with no sign of him had me a little confused. Not wanting to dwell on it, I got the kids' stuff ready except for a few things they'd need to pack and then started making breakfast.
When my brood descended on the dining room, I started talking to them about their big day with Grandma Esme and Grandpa Carlisle. It still hurt that my kids didn't have a relationship with my parents like they did with Edward's, but I didn't dwell on things that couldn't be changed. My mom had spent some time with them before her passing, but my father and I never survived our falling out. The visit on Christmas was the last time I'd ever seen my father, and we'd only shared a handful of phone conversations since then.
Once the kids were dressed and ready, I headed to the Cullen's place where they were all ready to take not only mine and Edward's kids to the zoo, but Alice and Jasper's two, and Rose and Emmett's three monkeys. It always warmed my heart to see how the incestuous family we'd joked about all those years ago was now a functioning unit, with all of the Swan's and Hale's included as if we were Carlisle and Esme's own flesh and blood.
With a round of kisses and a quick good-bye to my brother and sister-in-law, I ran to do my errands. Stopping at the travel agent, I picked up the brochures for the various Disney Cruises that Edward and I had been thinking about and then went to do the grocery shopping for the week.
It was nearly 1pm, when I pulled into the garage to hear the thumping of my punching bag. The groceries forgotten, I walked over to the door for our home gym and peered in to see Edward whaling on the bag. His face was as red as a tomato as he didn't acknowledge my arrival, even though the door creaked loudly.
Hating to see him this worked up, I walked over slowly and grabbed his right forearm, stopping him from landing his next punch. "You were gone early."
"I had somewhere I had to be." His voice was cold and I let go of his arm at the sound of it.
"The kids were sad that they didn't get to say good-bye to you. I'm going to put away the groceries if you decide that you're ready to include me in whatever is going on with you."
I was almost out of the door when he answered me. "I went to see Jacob."
I whirled around, but didn't move to him. "You what? Why? I'm not upset that you did, but you've always been adamant about him being a part of our past. You got pissed when I went there the last time because I didn't tell you beforehand."
"It's just, seeing our daughter fall into that same pattern that you did with him…I had to know that he was locked up and never getting out. I had to see it with my own eyes."
"Edward, what happened to Johanna isn't the same as what happened to me. She knows that she can come to us…my parents didn't give me that." When he didn't respond, I pushed again. "Did it help?"
He shook his head. "No. He taunted me about you. Kept asking if you looked as good as the last time you went there, and then he-"
Edward's voice broke and I moved to him, wrapping him in my arms. "Shh. He can't hurt us anymore."
"But he's there…in the back of my mind. When you're late and I can't get a hold of you, or when we get a little too rough and you have to stop me. I won't be rid of him until he's dead. Until I know that he isn't a threat to you anymore."
"Baby, he isn't a threat unless you let him be." I clutched his face in my hands and stared directly into his eyes as I spoke. "Let him go. He's never going to get out of jail, we saw to that years ago. I know that a small part of you always reacts to certain things that happen by thinking of him first, but he can only hurt us now if you let him. You are a good man and you two have nothing in common. He may not be dead, but let him be dead to us. Please?"
Soon it was Edward's arms that surrounded me as he pulled me flush against him. "Baby, thank you. He just got into my head, said that you'd never be rid of him because I would always be carrying him with me in the back of my mind, but I haven't thought about him for a long time until yesterday."
"Edward, he was just trying to get some jollies while he could because he knows that he's never going to see the light of day as a free man again. Now I have to get the groceries before the ice cream turns to milk, but if you want to talk about it, we can upstairs."
Edward nodded and helped me bring in the food. We worked together putting everything away and then he sat while I started work on dinner, all the while talking about his visit, the tension leaving him once he truly started to believe that Jacob had been working him up for his own amusement. I knew it would take him a while before he let it go completely, but it was a start.
Edward went to shower while I changed into something to lounge in. When he was done, I found him watching me while I finished cooking dinner. "Thank you."
"For what?" I looked up to see him crossing over to me.
"For helping me find perspective. It shouldn't be a surprise with how well you do with the women in your peer counseling groups, but it's harder for me."
I turned to face him and took his hand in mine. "What do you mean?"
"When I see women come in like you were after Jake, I see the x-rays and the bruised and bloody bodies, but I never get to see their happy ending. I see them defend their abusers and some even welcome them to their bedside. I'm glad I'm part of yours."
"You are mine. Everything we've had is because of what you've given me. I don't need to see Jake to know I'm safe because I have you. Never doubt how much you've helped me."
The timer went off and Edward smiled, grabbing two wine glasses and the open bottle of wine on the counter. "I'm going to set up the movie in the den; you need any help carrying in dinner?"
"Nope, I'll be in there in a little bit." Watching him walk away, I plated our dinner and then followed my happy ending for a night of quiet relaxation.