A/N: *Sniff sniff* Well guys, this is it! The official last chapter of Fighting Paul. There probably won't be a sequel, but I'm not going to rule out the possibility. I'll likely get going on a new story after this, so be sure to sign up for author alerts! I just wanted to say thanks to all my faithful readers for following the story all this time. I love you all and I've really appreciated your comments and reviews and everything to keep me going :) Special thanks go out to my real-life friend musicrush93 for her non-stop support and constant verbal abuse about me updating, as well as her guilt-trips to make me feel bad about making you wait. Check out her stories, you'll love them :)
Without further ado, the epilogue!
Chapter 15: Epilogue
10 years later…
"Come on, guys, we're going to be late!" I yelled up the stairs.
"Yeah, yeah, we're coming," Paul yelled back, laughter evident in his voice. "They won't start without you, it's your party!" I mumbled incoherently as I got the diaper bag ready for the day. I heard a squeal and then a splat, and I sighed under my breath as I turned to assess the damage. Lucy was waving her little plastic spoon in the air, her baby food going flying and landing on the floor around her high chair. She grinned a toothless smile at me and I couldn't help but melt. She had the same colouring as Paul, with raven black hair and tanned skin, but she had my bright blue eyes. I was pretty sure that she'd break quite a few hearts as she got older. She was just under a year old, and I was trying to teach her how to feed herself. It wasn't going so well, obviously; she was just as stubborn as her father.
At that moment, Paul and the boys came thundering down the stairs, laughing. Paul was chasing them as they screamed delightedly. He had his hands up in the air, his fingers forming claws as he did a rather convincing impression of a monster. He caught them both, one under each arm, and tossed them on the sofa, proceeding to tickle them as they laughed happily. I smiled at the sight.
They were identical twins, both 3 years old, but they couldn't be more different. Zach was a lot like me; he was a lot quieter and more even tempered, and he smiled all the time. He was probably the happiest kid I'd ever seen. Caden, on the other hand, was a mini Paul. He was loud and feisty and always wanted to be in charge. With their opposite personalities, they were quite a duo when they worked together to go exploring in the backyard or build forts. They were completely adorable. They had a strange mix of both Paul's and my characteristics; they had tan skin, but a little lighter than the pure Quileute boys. They had dark brown hair that was unruly just like Paul's, but not quite as dark. It was more of a mix between our shades. They were both a little tall for their ages, a sign that they wouldn't be cursed with my unfortunate shortness. The only real differences were their eyes: they could both be considered hazel, but Zach's were a little more on the green side while Caden's were a little more brown.
Paul scooped both of them up, slinging them over his shoulders as they struggled to escape, kicking their legs wildly but getting nowhere. He plopped them down in their chairs and went directly over to Lucy. As much of a hard-ass as Paul was, it was obvious that that little girl had him completely wrapped around her tiny fingers. He smiled softly at her as he took the spoon from her hand to feed her, laughing as the baby food came spilling back out as she continued grinning.
I turned back to the boys, who were engaged in a rather intense thumb-war, and saw how awful their previously groomed hair had become. I patted down Zach's, trying to smooth it out at least a bit. Caden ran his hands through his hair right then, messing it up even more; it was a habit he'd obviously picked up from his father. Lucy was squealing and babbling away to Paul, who listened intently to her nonsense and showered her with attention.
"You had to mess up the hair, didn't you Paul?" I asked with a laugh, turning my attention to the rat's nest on Caden's head. He turned away from his well-spoiled daughter to grin at me.
"They looked like prep school kids, now they look cool!" He insisted. I laughed again and shook my head.
"They're three," I told him. "They're too young to look like they're in school at all!"
"I won't have my sons having to suffer through the nerdy-ness forced on them by their mother!"
"They didn't look nerdy, they looked cute!"
"They still look cute!"
"Oh, shut up Paul." He just smirked again and turned back to Lucy, who was now hitting her tray and trying to get back her formerly captive audience. "Is she done eating yet?" In response, he held up the empty tray and went to get a facecloth, cleaning the food smeared on her face. She blew a spit bubble.
"Alright, boys," Paul announced loudly. "We're moving! Go, go, go!" Zach and Caden giggled and scrambled off their chairs, running to the front door to put on their shoes and coats. Paul picked up Lucy and then handed her to me. "Why do they all have to match?" He asked, gesturing to the boy's identical red sweaters and elastic-waist khaki pants, and then to Lucy's similar sweater and khaki skirt with bright red tights.
"It's what families with lots of tiny, cute babies tend to do. It's like team colours or something," I replied, my tone implying that it should be obvious. He rolled his eyes but grinned at me anyways.
"I love you, dorky tendencies and all," he told me, kissing me chastely on the cheek. I leaned into his kiss with a smile. My life had really become almost too good to be true. Today was my 26th birthday, and the last ten years had worked out like a story. Paul stopped phasing last year, trying to stay the same physical age as me so that we could grow old together. His aging obviously wasn't apparent yet and he still had a long ways to go before it was, but we knew that he wasn't going to stay young forever anymore. As much as I had liked the idea of Paul being hot and young until the day I died, I refused to live out the rest of my life as a cougar. That just wasn't my thing. The pack hadn't grown too much since, only two other teenagers had phased before the Cullens moved out of town. Paul wasn't really needed anymore, and I was happy that we could officially settle down.
While the number of werewolves hadn't grown, the population of werewolf families had exploded. Almost every imprint couple had kids by this point, except for Quil and Claire. That would still be gross. My mother had been more of a part of my life after I graduated from high school and turned eighteen. Things went much smoother when I didn't legally have to listen to her anymore, and we weren't fighting nearly as much. After I graduated, I stayed true to my promise to myself and went to university in Seattle for my teaching degree. I was now teaching at Forks Elementary School, a job I really and truly loved. Shortly after I graduated from university, Paul proposed. We got married that summer and soon the twins were conceived. I've never seen Paul as ridiculously proud as when he witnessed the birth of his three children. Good to know one of us was happy at the time.
I was snapped out of my reverie when Lucy started to tug on my hair. I cooed at her and stood up, handing her off to Paul so that I could put my coat and shoes on while he put on hers. The boys were engaged in what appeared to be a pretty epic staring contest. After a fair amount of bribing, manoeuvring, and manipulating, all three were strapped into their car seats and we were off to Emily and Sam's house, where my birthday party was being held. Even though I protested, they all insisted and I really had no choice in the matter. Once we arrived, we were ambushed by what appeared to be the entire reservation. The cute little house was jam packed, people sitting and standing on every available surface. Poor Emily. She came out the front door as I finished my thought, grinning from ear to ear at the sight of my kids. She had her youngest, Sophie, in a baby harness and strapped to her chest. Sophie was around the same age as Lucy, and I secretly hoped they would be friends growing up amidst all of the newest Quileute boys.
"Hey, Sophie," I said, leaning down to kiss her on her plump cheek as she smiled and drooled at me. I straightened to face Emily, who was still beaming. "She's getting bigger," I observed. She nodded enthusiastically.
"That's because you haven't been here in a while. If you were here more often, it wouldn't be such a big change," she told me, jokingly disapproving. "Anthony just graduated from kindergarten, so he's pretty excited to have fresh ears to tell about that." I laughed. Anthony was her second youngest, and Connor and Chris came before him. Connor was going into first grade, Chris into second. They were both adorable and were classic Quileute kids, since Sam was purely so and Emily was Makah, who were similar in looks. After Paul took the kids out of the car, we walked into the loud house. Quil and Claire were arguing about something, still maintaining their brother-sister friendship. Claire was, after all, still a little young. Embry and Tonya, his imprint, were dishing out food for their own kids. They had a boy and a girl, Aaron and Amy, who were four and three respectively. Tonya was a firecracker. She was loud, energetic, and fiercely loyal. Aaron was similar to her, while Amy was more reserved like Embry. Jared and Kim were lounging on the couch while Kim looked worriedly out into the backyard, where their three kids were playing. Seth was with his recent imprint, April, who didn't know about the whole werewolf thing and looked extremely uncomfortable. She was a petite blonde with grey eyes, and Seth absolutely adored her. She'd be family soon enough, though. Leah was nowhere to be seen, but I could clearly hear her laughing from the other room with her boyfriend, Rob. He also didn't know the secrets, but he was fitting in quite nicely with his tall stature and dark colouring. Colin and Brady were both still single and definitely not suffering as they playfully argued and joked. Jake, however, was noticeably absent. Paul, being as observant as he is, noticed my scan of the room and my subsequent question about Jake's whereabouts. I didn't even have to ask.
"He's out in Alaska, with the leeches," Paul muttered, leaning close to my ear so as not to draw attention to the conversation. He said the word 'leeches' venomously. "He's staying with his beloved little Renesmee." He still absolutely hated the idea of a werewolf-vamp union, even if the vamp wasn't really a vamp at all. He was disgusted by the pair, but he tried to keep it to himself. Pack drama was never a good thing. Over the next hour or so, I was bombarded with hugs and birthday wishes. I was happy to get back with all of my old friends again since Lucy had been taking up so much of my time. It did, however, get old after a while so I retreated to the kitchen to help Emily cook for everyone. I was surprised to find April in there as well, chatting with Emily with a worried look on her face.
"But how do you know?" She asked, her arms crossed protectively in front of her chest. Emily patted her arm reassuringly.
"You just do," she replied definitively. I decided that now was as good a time as any to make my presence known.
"Hey, guys," I said slowly, not sure if I was interrupting. By the way April jumped, I probably was.
"Hi," she mumbled, staring at her feet. I walked further into the kitchen, trying to ignore the awkward tension.
"What did I miss?" I wasn't trying to pry. Really, I wasn't. I'm just a naturally inquisitive person. Or, as Paul would tell you, "a really goddamned nosy" person. Whatever, same thing.
"Nothing," April muttered, still not making eye contact. She glanced up at Emily and nodded her head towards me while Emily sighed.
"She wanted to know if we knew anything about Seth," Emily told me, a smile tugging at the corners of her lips. "She was wondering if we thought he might like her." I held back my own smile and turned to April.
"Trust me, he likes you." I left no room for questioning. She questioned anyways.
"But you don't know that," she insisted. "What if I just put myself out there and he shoots me down? I'd be so mortified; I could never show my face in public again!" I scoffed a little at her dramatics.
"Just let it go. It'll all work out in the end," I told her.
"What if it doesn't? What if it's not meant to be?" Emily and I both snickered a bit, and she immediately looked stressed. "What? What's wrong? What don't I know?"
"There's a lot of things you don't know yet," I said as gently as I could, trying to not make it sound like an insult. She looked offended, so I clearly did something wrong with that one. Emily saved me.
"What she means is that we have reason to believe that it will work out in the end, and that it really is meant to be. So quit worrying about it and trust us," Emily said. Well, that came out a lot smoother than it would have had I said it. April looked reassured, and with a quiet thank you she meandered out of the kitchen, presumably to go find Seth. After a few moments, Emily spoke again. "I remember when that was me. It's all so confusing at the beginning, isn't it?"
"Yeah, I was definitely confused. But once you understand what's going on, everything is just so…nice, isn't it?" She nodded silently and continued preparing food as I reminisced. Things really had been nice. Being an imprint was great that way. Sure, Paul and I had our fair share of fights, but they didn't come with the underlying worry that we would break up or anything like that. Knowing that your boyfriend or fiancée or husband would never – could never – leave you was comforting. You didn't have to worry about what you looked like in the morning with dried drool on your face. You weren't always getting frustrated at him not calling you back or not wanting you anymore. You knew that, from the moment he saw you, it was set. Wham, bam, commitment. I had grown a lot over the years since I had met Paul, and I learned that giving in to him and the ridiculous amount of love that came with him wasn't wrong. It didn't mean that I was weak, and it didn't take away my choice. Being with Paul was a hell of a lot easier than trying to push him away constantly. After all, imprints were supposed to be as easy as breathing. Once I let go of my pride and gave in to him, my life seemed much more…right. It was a great feeling.
Not only was the love part pretty awesome, it was also great to finally feel like I had a family again. Even if my parents and I got along better nowadays, that didn't take away the fact that we didn't really function at a family level. We acted like acquaintances; I would never go to them for advice on anything, and they would never expect me to. We still talked, but it wasn't the same as being with the pack. They somewhat acted as my surrogate family now. There was always trust, protection, and love when I was with my dysfunctional and slightly supernatural group, and that was something that I never realized that I had been missing until I finally had it. My only hope was that my own kids would never feel as lost as I did, since they would be growing up amongst the biggest, warmest family around.
With time comes maturity, growth, and changes. As days turn into years, everyone moves forward into new phases of their lives. From marriages and kids to new jobs and new friends, no one stays the same. We all learn a little, make mistakes and celebrate successes. I had learned over the years that the most important things in life were family, friends, and being truly happy. It didn't matter what people thought or expected of you. It wasn't important to always look perfect or to be in charge of every situation. It was okay to let go a little bit every once in a while, and at the same time it was alright to take control. In the end, one comes to realize that life is made up of moments that, when put altogether, form who you are. My main priority was to live every day to the fullest and to fill every day with the things I wanted in life. I wanted to make a good life for myself and my family and focus on the little details, since I knew they would eventually add up.
Aside from all of the philosophical, Chinese-proverb-esque crap that I had realized over time, I was now genuinely happy. I had everything I needed in life, and I couldn't ask for more. Were my friends and family perfect? No. Was Paul perfect? Hell, no. But none of that even mattered. Life was going by fast, and I wanted to make sure nothing passed me by. At this very moment, though, I just wanted to hang around with the people I loved the most, drinking cheap beer and eating junk, talking about nothing of importance and laughing at nothing at all. The rest of that stuff could wait, and when I was finally forced to face it, I knew I could. I had my friends, my family, and my soul mate by my side to handle anything that came my way. And really, when it came down to it, I was more than ready to kick life's ass.
A/N: FINITO! We're officially finished with Fighting Paul. It's been a long time coming, I know. I hope you liked the epilogue. Once again, I don't plan on writing a sequel, for all of you who asked. I do, however, have some plans in the works for at least another one shot and possibly a full-length (and slightly angsty) chapter story. If you'd be interested in any of that, let me know and sign up for author alerts. Thanks to all of you who stuck with me through this agonizingly long process, and to those who threatened to kill me if I didn't post. I wouldn't have made it anywhere without you guys! Finally, yet another big huge massive thank you to my friend musicrush93 for all of her support.
Signing off from FP for all time (*sniffle*),