Story Title: Mystery Box
Chapter: 16: Epilogue: Scenes from a Marriage
Chapter Summary: **
Fifty years of marriage in 12 scenes.
Many thanks to my betas, Mac216 and ErinB.
I do not own Twilight. When I look at my checkbook, I sure as heck wish I did, though.
A/N: Surprise! I'm posting two days early since New Moon is opening in two days. Enjoy!
Chapter 16 (Epilogue): Scenes from a Marriage:
Soundtrack: Green Day's "Time of Your Life", which is totally cliché, but picture Billie Joe Armstrong singing it acoustic on a darkened stage with a lone spotlight on him in a huge arena with thousands of people who are absolutely silent and mouthing the words along with him because they can feel the emotion as well. Okay, you there? Now you can read…
Green Day's Good Riddance (Time of Your Life):
So take the photographs, and still frames in your mind
Hang it on a shelf in good health and good time
Tattoos of memories and dead skin on trial
For what it's worth it was worth all the while
It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right.
I hope you had the time of your life.
Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be…
-Robert Browning (1812-1889)
"Mr. Martin? I'd like to ask for your daughter's hand in marriage," Jake said during a phone call to Molly's parents right after he proposed. Molly had wrapped her arms around him and pressed her ear to the receiver as well.
Barry's voice was warm in response. "Jake, absolutely. We would love to have you as a part of our family."
As soon as Barry spoke, some sharp Cantonese words were spoken in the distance.
"Uh, I think Christine would like to speak with you," Barry said sheepishly.
Immediately, a woman's voice was heard over the phone line. She sounded excited, yet very serious.
"Jake! You want to marry Molly?" Christine asked.
"Yes, ma'am. I love her with my whole heart and only want to make her happy."
"How much money do you make?"
"Mom!" Molly tried to stop Jake from answering, but Jake held up his hand to stop Molly from speaking.
"Mrs. Martin, I have enough saved in a retirement account that I should be able to retire at 65. I own a business with two friends, and we are quite comfortable. I don't have a mortgage and will not have a mortgage; we plan to build a home for us here on the reservation. I make sure to live within my means and have money saved for a rainy day."
"And what about Molly? Where's she going to live?"
"We discussed that. We realize that for Molly to continue her education, she'll need to be in Seattle for much of the time, but with the internet, she can spend a lot of time here as well. I promise you that I will not interfere with her education or her career, if that's what she wants. What matters is that she's happy."
Christine made a small noise, like clearing her throat. "That means she's happy," Molly whispered to Jake, recognizing her mother's telling signals.
"Jake, you have permission to marry our daughter."
Both Molly and Jake exhaled simultaneously.
"Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Martin. I will never betray your trust in me to take care her."
"I will remember that, Jacob," Christine replied. Jacob then heard something muffle the receiver and Christine shouted, "Barry! We need to book the Empress of China restaurant for the wedding reception! They fill up a year in advance!"
"Did you know that Bob Elliott flies to and from Seattle every few days?"
They were sitting on Jake's bed enjoying long, slow kisses. It was one of Molly's weekend visits, and they had some free time before Kim and Emily kidnapped Molly for wedding planning.
"Hmmm?" Molly replied dreamily. She was focusing on Jacob's kisses, not his words.
"Bob Elliott. We were just fixing his transmission. He works out of Seattle but lives in Forks. I bet you could get a ride with him, so you don't need to drive so much."
Molly's eyes widened. She hated the four-hour drive to and from Seattle. She sat up quickly.
"Do you think he'd take a stowaway?"
Jake smiled and eased her back onto the bed. "I might have mentioned that I don't see enough of my fiancée, and we could put those eight hours of driving to better use."
Molly answered him with more kisses.
"Good morning, Mrs. Black."
Molly and Jacob's naked bodies were curled up under a single sheet. They were in Hawaii for their honeymoon.
Molly opened an eye and smiled.
"Call me that again."
"Which part? Good morning or Mrs. Black?" Jacob teased.
"Mrs. Black," Molly kissed him. "Good morning, Mr. Black."
Jacob replied with another kiss. "That must be my father."
More kisses. "I had no idea I had married Billy," Molly teased as Jacob's hands started moving along her sides.
"I'm the only Mr. Black to you."
The pack walked through the newly-painted house. It was a three bedroom they had built a stone's throw from the house where Jacob was raised, the house where Billy now lived. Jacob's chest filled with pride. He and his brothers built this house for his wife, for his future family. His eyes squinted as he pictured Molly standing in the doorway holding a dark-haired baby, Molly leaning over the sink washing dishes, Molly sitting in the dining room helping a school-age girl with her math homework -- a girl with Molly's hair and Jacob's eyes. He pictured them tucking their children to sleep, then moving Molly into the master bedroom, pushing her against the locked door, and thrusting into her.
"Yo, Jake, are you listening to anything I said?"
Jacob blinked and looked at Quil. "Huh? What? Sorry, just spaced out there for a sec. What's up? Do you think she'll like it?"
Quil's eyes changed from amusement to tenderness. He punched Jake lightly on the arm. "She's gonna love it. How can she not love moving out of that tiny apartment in Forks to her own home on the reservation?"
Jacob grinned. "Yeah, now that you mention it. And she's got me waiting for her too. What woman can resist?"
Quil coughed loudly. "She needs to take you down a notch, my brother!"
"And I'm sure you'll remind her of that, my brother!"
"Did you know that Karen is moving to Montana?"
Molly and Leah were eating sandwiches at an outdoor café near U. Dub. in Seattle. Molly was still a Ph.D. student, and Leah had just started law school there.
"So, she's going to do it? Marry that dude from vacation?" Leah asked with a smile.
"Yup," Molly took a bite of her turkey sandwich and carefully considered how to approach the topic with Leah. She had thought long and hard about it. Her relationship with Leah had grown from antagonism to true friendship. But could she live with her?
"So, since Karen is moving, there'll be a free room in our apartment," Molly said quietly, then quickly looked up from her potato chips to gauge Leah's reaction. Leah paused while eating a pickle, then spoke.
"Oh?" Leah asked. "So, you're looking for a roommate?"
"Hmmm…maybe. I do want to keep the apartment. I'm only there two or three nights a week, but I'd hate to move. It's close to campus, and the rent is cheap."
Leah nodded and focused on her soda. "Well, I am sick of commuting so much. Would be nice to have a place to crash if I need to." She took another bite of her pickle, and looked Molly in the eye. "Would you and Jake be having loud monkey sex and keeping me from my studies?"
"Oh, for god's sake, Leah! I could ask the same of you and Luke!"
"And the answer is yes, it's a possibility. I doubt it, but it could happen. How's the insulation?"
"It's good. Karen and I had an arrangement to play rock music if things got loud."
Leah nodded and pushed the grapes around her plate. "Okay, I get to approve of your playlist."
"If I need to study and you two are breeding in the other room, I don't wanna hear some gangsta rap."
"Oh, for chrissakes, Leah! First of all, Jake rarely comes up here. When I'm here, I work. But I won't say he's never here. Secondly, if he is here, I promise to play grunge or classic rock. Will that do?"
Leah leaned back and nodded. She suddenly looked like the attorney she was about to become. "That's acceptable."
Molly groaned. "Argh! Maybe I'll rescind my offer! Is everything a negotiation with you?"
Leah finally snapped out of her professional mode and grinned at Molly. "Just let me get my way, Martin-Black, and all is well."
Molly gave her youngest son a tight hug. It was a tense talk, but it seemed to end well. Daniel held onto his mother tightly, whispering, "Thanks, Mom," into her curly hair.
"I'm glad you came to us. No matter what, we'll always love you, and we're so proud of the man you are becoming." She spoke with a quiet authority, looking him directly in the eyes so he could see how deadly serious she was.
Daniel gave her a warm smile and hugged her again while Jacob stood by awkwardly, waiting for his turn. It happened soon thereafter; Daniel let go of his mother and gave his father a slightly more awkward half hug.
"I love you, Son," Jacob breathed into his son's jet-black hair. Daniel was fifteen and had not reached full height, but he was already taller than his mother and still several inches shorter than his father.
"I love you too, Dad," Daniel said. Their hug was slightly tenser than the one Molly gave earlier, but still genuine and heartfelt. Molly noticed. She grabbed Jacob's hand.
"Danny, we're going for a walk on the beach. We'll be back in an hour. It's a school night, so don't leave the house, any of you," she instructed her son, and by her raised voice, told her eldest son and only daughter who were undoubtedly listening in behind their closed bedroom doors.
"Yes, ma'am," Daniel smiled, gave her a small kiss on top her head, and walked to his bedroom door, closing it firmly.
Molly and Jacob exchanged glances that they both knew only too well. The house was a good size, but with three teenagers, it was nearly impossible to have a truly private discussion without the fear of eavesdropping. Walking on the beach was their 'cone of silence.'
It was dark and windy and cold, a usual evening on First Beach. Jacob wrapped his wife in his arms as they walked. "Warm enough, love?" he asked. She nodded in response, and both walked in silence for several minutes.
"Well," Molly was the first to speak, "I think that went okay. How are you coping?"
Jacob raised an eyebrow. "Why do you think I need to cope? I figured it out years ago. I was just waiting for him to tell us."
Molly smirked. "What was the tip off for you? Playing Barbies with his sister? Singing show tunes in the shower?"
Jacob laughed at the memories. "Yeah, the Barbies definitely. I thought he was just bored and letting Sarah boss him around, but then I realized he actually liked playing with dolls!" Molly laughed in response, and Jacob pulled her closer.
"But when he was dating Millie Lightfoot, I thought maybe I was wrong…"
"Yeah, that kind of threw me for a loop, too. And, truly, there's nothing … girly … about him really."
Molly stopped in her tracks and stared at her husband. "Jake, are you about to say something stereotypical that will make me quite angry?"
Jake just smiled and brought her back inside his arms. "No, dear. I'm just saying that he doesn't fit any other stereotypes. He's got a deep voice," Molly rolled her eyes. "He loves to fix cars," Molly rolled her eyes a second time, "He loves both watching and playing sports. He doesn't walk or talk girly." Molly elbowed Jacob in the side. "Ouch! Hey, I'm just saying, he's our son and I love him, and he doesn't fit any stereotypes."
"Yet we both had suspicions that he batted for the other team," Molly reminded him, her cool, analytical mind at work, as usual.
"Yep," Jacob agreed, and they walked in silence for a few more moments.
"But how are you doing? Are you okay? The great Chief and Alpha having a gay son?"
Jacob stopped and turned Molly to face him. He was nearly angry, which surprised Molly. She thought her question was innocent enough.
"Do you not know me well enough to know that this wouldn't change how I feel about our son? Do you think I really care about what others think when it comes to our kids?" Jacob's anger was barely concealed, and Molly felt a splash of fear, but mostly shame. She sighed and lowered her eyes.
"Now that I really think about it, I know the answer. That's one of the reasons why I married you. But you are more conservative than me, I just… I'm sorry."
Jacob answered with a kiss on the lips. They smiled. The tension that had filled the space between them was erased. He pulled her close to his side again, and she relished the feeling of his hardness. He wasn't as fit as he was twenty years ago, but he still had an amazing body for his age, as she noted the glances other women gave him when they walked through town.
Their step was lighter now. They both agreed to what they already knew: their son was gay and they loved him. Their partnership was affirmed. Now, they could enjoy the cool night air and a walk with their love.
"I blame you."
Jacob's voice was teasing, but Molly could hear a hint of truth in his statement. She sat at the kitchen table and held her head in her hands.
"Sarah would not even consider going to prep school back east if it weren't for the Martin family influence," he continued.
Molly didn't know what to do or say. Their only daughter announced that she was planning to attend a college preparatory boarding school near Grandma and Grandpa Martin's home in Greenfield, Massachusetts. It seemed the clever daughter of Molly and Jacob had enlisted Molly's grandparents' help to contact the school, complete all paperwork, and accept their offer of admission. Part of Molly was livid that Sarah went behind their backs, which her own grandparents had teamed up with their great-granddaughter against them. Another part of Molly was thrilled that her daughter was accepted. It was a very old, very prestigious school that also had an outreach program for under-served populations, like racial minorities and lower income students. But the school was 3,000 miles away. Her only daughter would be halfway across the country, and if anything should happen, she would be at least a five hour flight away.
Sarah was a mini- Molly … no, a mini-Aunt Bridget. Molly often half-joked to Jacob that she had given birth to her own sister: a scary smart, super-achieving Alpha female who had none of the friendliness of her mother. Both Sarah and Molly knew that the reservation school wasn't enough for Sarah. She had already skipped a grade, and was taking classes at Forks High to supplement what she was learning at La Push. She had even talked about community college online courses, this from a fifteen-year-old! Molly did not want to hold her back, but Sarah was their only daughter, and the east coast was so far away.
Molly pulled at her hair. Jacob had a twinkle in his eye; he seemed to be taking it better than Molly. "How can you joke at a time like this?" Molly said testily. "She wants to leave us! She'll be thousands of miles away!"
Jacob's eyes grew serious as he placed a hand on Molly's forearm. "I'm used to having smart women tell me what to do." Molly half smiled in response and fought back the tears that were pooling in the corners of her eyes. "If we forbid it, it will only get worse. Look, she's a model kid. She's smart, she's got a great head on her shoulders. You know she'd never get messed up with drugs or gangs or get pregnant. She is too self-aware and self-confident for that. Yeah, I'm not happy, but our role is to turn our kids into fine, upstanding citizens, productive members of society. And we did that with Sarah. Heck, it's a bit sooner than we expected. I was hoping we'd be shipping her off to Harvard in three years, not prep school in three months. But it's a good school. I talked to the chiefs of the Mohawk, Apache, and Cherokee tribes. The school has outreach programs with their tribes as well, and the kids do really well. They're not treated like scholarship kids. And most go to Ivy League schools afterwards, and come back and help the tribe."
Molly sniffled. She rolled her eyes to the ceiling -- not to see the ceiling fan, but to keep the tears from rolling down her cheeks. "But she's our baby girl. I don't want her to leave yet. The years are going by too fast."
Jake sighed and pulled his wife into his lap. "Uh, I've gained about five pounds since you last did that, Mr. Black," Molly attempted to joke, but her husband just pulled her in closer and nuzzled her hair.
"We gotta let them go sometime. I thought Aidan would be the first to leave, but it looks like it'll be Sally."
Molly sniffled. Sally was their nickname for Sarah when she was a child, before she could verbalize that her name was Sarah.
"I hate this. It was so much easier when we decided when they would sleep and eat and everything else."
Jacob laughed. "You have a rose-colored memory. That was Daniel. Sally told us when she would eat and sleep and poop! She was always stubborn."
Molly wrapped her arms around Jake's shoulders. "Is it going to get easier? Will it be easier when Aidan and Danny leave?"
They had been married for twenty years, almost half of their lives. They started the marriage with just the two of them, and then Aidan came three years later, and the twins two years after Aidan. The couple became a family of three and then became five. Molly could not imagine it becoming just the two of them again.
Jacob nuzzled Molly's neck. After twenty years of marriage, he still was crazy in love with her. He wondered how much of it was imprint and how much was not, but it didn't really matter. He was here, she was here, and they were happy. And they'd get through this, like everything else. And he told her so, in those exact words. And she said, 'yes, dear,' and they stayed that way while the lights went out in the rest of the house, and their children went to bed in their private rooms with their private thoughts.
Jacob and Sam were friends, but he was not looking forward to this meeting.
The wives had arranged it. Emily and Molly determined that the men folk needed some space, some time to talk.
The situation was this: Aidan Black, eldest son of Chief Jacob Black, was acting out. He was disruptive in school, barely passing his classes, hung out with older boys who were future delinquents (and he seemed to be their ringleader as well, which was something to be both proud of and horrified by, as a parent), and dating older girls. There were some minor vandalism and truancy charges, too. Aidan seemed to be on the road to juvenile hall, but the one thing that seemed to be in his favor was his strong relationship with Sam Uley.
Sam was a second father to Aidan. Usually after fights with his own father, Aidan would show up at Emily and Sam's home, day or night. Emily would bake muffins, and Aidan would talk to Sam in his office. They would often go for long walks in the forest, and Emily would notice that when they returned, Aidan's shoulders would be less stooped, his eyes less guarded, and his overall demeanor more hopeful.
Having his eldest son seeking fatherly advice from his beta irked Jacob to no end. None of Sam's sons were seeking Jacob's advice – it really didn't seem fair. The wives didn't seem to mind either. Molly admitted that it wasn't the best circumstance, but as long as someone was keeping Aidan from a life of crime and wasted potential, Sam Uley was as good as anyone. And Sam did have a strict disciplinary style that contrasted with the Blacks' but seemed better suited to Aidan.
So, Emily and Molly, over some orange pekoe tea, decided that maybe Sam and Jake needed to talk about Aidan. Maybe Jake could get some tips on how to deal with his eldest son?.
"Aidan's afraid of disappointing us," Jake told Molly during one of their beach walk briefings, away from their eavesdropping children. "He feels a lot of pressure being our eldest son, not just because I'm chief, but because his mom is a Ph.D. professor at U. Dub., Sarah is scary smart, and Daniel is everyone's best friend and the scholar athlete. He doesn't feel he can live up to our expectations, so he stopped trying."
"Fuck," summed up Molly's response.
"Sam and Aidan are talking about the military." Jacob felt Molly's grip tightening on his hand. A former citizen of the liberal city of Berkeley, Molly was always more left wing than her husband. "And I think he's right. Aidan seems to need the tough discipline of someone like Sam, and the Marines would be perfect for him. And it would give him a motive to stay in school and out of trouble."
Molly sighed as she frowned. She was deep in thought. There were no wars, so it was unlikely her eldest son would be going into battle, but still … she admired the military, always gave generous contributions to the USO, but never expected that it would hit so close to home.
Yet, the more she thought about it, the more right it felt. Aidan did need the discipline, the authority, and the hierarchy of the military. There was no pack for his generation; the Cold Ones were long gone. Jacob tried to keep the young men of the tribe busy and focused on community service, but Aidan needed to make a name for himself away from his popular leader father.
Molly sighed again and squeezed Jake's hand. "You're right. You're both right. I can't think of another solution right now. And Aidan is enthusiastic about the idea of becoming a Marine?"
Jacob smiled. "I haven't seen him this excited since he got the new Xbox game."
Molly made a slight snorting noise and leaned into her husband's side. "It was so much easier when they were babies."
Jacob laughed and shook his head. "When they needed constant supervision, and you had to write your dissertation?"
Molly stifled a laugh. He was right. Their toddler years were hell on her academic career and strained their marriage, as neither had the time nor energy for three small children under the age of four.
Jacob squeezed her hand again. "Are we good? Can we talk to Aidan now as a united front?"
Jacob looked down on Molly's curls. There were a couple silver strands mixed in with the brown. They looked like the icicles found on Christmas trees.
"Yes, Mr. Black. We are united for our son's future."
It was the phone call no one wanted.
Phone calls at 2:56 am are always bad news. Jacob knew that as soon as he heard the ring and saw the time on the digital alarm clock next to the bed.
Molly woke next to him. They both quickly took mental note that each was in the room, each was safe. That left the children unaccounted for.
Sarah was now Sarah Black Kim, M.D., married to a fellow Harvard Medical school classmate, George Kim. They had a fifteen-year-old daughter, Devon, and lived in upstate New York.
Daniel was now Daniel Black, Ph.D., professor of Neuroeconomics at U.C. Berkeley. He lived in San Francisco with his long time partner, Gregory, and Mei-Ling, their adopted daughter from China.
Aidan was living in La Push quite close to them. He married Luke and Leah's daughter, Caroline, and they had four children. He was a police officer, and she was a school teacher.
It was probably Sarah or Daniel; if something was wrong with Aidan or his family, someone would be knocking on the door, not calling on the phone.
That entire inventory took about three seconds as Jacob groped randomly around the night table, reaching for the phone in the darkness.
The voice was distraught. There had been an accident. His son-in-law, Dr. George Kim, was killed instantly. His daughter and granddaughter were hospitalized with minor injuries but would be released that day. George's family was en route from New York City to the hospital.
Wide awake, Molly and Jacob clung to each other and each word their daughter spoke on the phone.
"We'll catch the first flight. We'll be there for you."
Mr. and Mrs. Black erased their schedules, all their meetings, all appointments, any and all arrangements for the next two weeks, and sat clinging to each other on a flight from Seattle to New York City that morning. They spent the next month with their newly- widowed daughter and granddaughter, helping with arrangements, chores, housecleaning, anything and everything that needed to be done. Quil and Embry took over the business at the garage while Jake was absent, and Molly learned to delegate. The woman who so often in the past put her career before her family shifted 180 degrees, so that nothing at all mattered other than her family.
Two years later, Sarah sold the house in New York, enrolled Devon in the same boarding school where she had graduated from as valedictorian twenty years prior, and moved back to Washington State. She decided to give back to the community and became a roaming doctor who flew in and out of remote Indian reservations, providing needed healthcare. No longer living the life of a wealthy and overworked surgeon in Westchester County, New York, she returned to her Native roots. Two years after that, she married Seth and Colette Clearwater's son, Adam, and they settled in Port Angeles where Sarah (now a licensed pilot) kept a private plane for her flights to and from work locations.
Molly's brother, Patrick, had followed in his mother's footsteps by creating then selling internet companies. He had grown quite rich and was often on lists of Most Eligible Bachelors of Silicon Valley. He'd had several long time live-in girlfriends, but never married any of them. As he'd always seemed the perpetual bachelor, Molly was shocked to receive a call not from Patrick, but her Cosmo Club co-conspirator, Shannon.
Since the Cosmo Club days, Shannon stayed in Seattle, married, had two children, divorced, and was enjoying generous alimony and child support payments from her wealthy ex-husband. Molly and Shannon met for lunch every few months in Seattle, but it was hard with their competing schedules and family commitments. Both wanted to be the best mothers that they could be, so taking time to have drinks with your best buddy was a low priority compared to, say, getting home in time to help with your daughter's school project or attending a class recital. They each had to fight for free time just to exercise, much less drink themselves into a happy stupor.
Now Molly was learning that Patrick fulfilled a long ago crush and married her good friend.
"You have got to be kidding me."
It turned out it was Molly's fault. While Shannon was visiting her son at U.C. San Diego, Molly mentioned that Patrick had relocated to that very city, citing the need to surf without a wetsuit, something nearly impossible in the cold Pacific waters of the San Francisco Bay area. Patrick and Shannon had met for lunch, one thing led to another, and they drove to Las Vegas to elope. No prenuptial agreement, either. The theory that Patrick never married any of his long time girlfriends due to fears of losing his hard-won wealth in a divorce dissolved.
Molly and Jacob picked up their jaws off the floor long enough to fly down to San Diego for a quickly planned post-wedding reception at a five-star hotel near the ocean. The newlyweds were ecstatic and could not keep their hands off of each other.
"Marriage? I didn't realize you two were dating."
This time, Jacob was addressing his old buddy, Embry. Embry, the perpetual bachelor who epitomized the Native American version of a Lake Wobegon shy, Norwegian bachelor. Embry was always the one who was set up on dates, but no one was quite right for him. There were numerous relationships that seemed to fizzle by the six-month mark, so people stopped trying and assumed Embry must have desired to be alone.
Now Jacob was learning that his old buddy had been having an on-again, off-again relationship with Molly's Cosmo Club pal, Nancy. Nancy, who had married and divorced twice. Nancy, who lived in Seattle with no children, no cats, but one mean and ugly old dog. It turned out that they had been more than just friends with benefits for decades. They were each other's long time companion and planned to grow old together.
Nancy was having a similar discussion with Molly in Seattle.
"Nothing's going to change. We don't plan to live together. We're both too independent for that. But we want to be each other's safety net, and the easiest and best way to do that is to get married. I heard about all the hassles Sue and Charlie had when Charlie passed. Since they never married, Sue wasn't considered next of kin and couldn't even see him in the hospital until some locals intervened. I don't want that. I want Embry with me. He's already my beneficiary. I want all those end-of-life hassles removed now while we're still alive and kicking."
"But isn't this a bit soon to plan for your demise? Surely we have about 20 or 30 years left?" Molly spoke, but soon remembered her only daughter becoming a widow in her thirties, and she shut her mouth with a pained expression. Nancy noticed, but did not pursue.
"If it doesn't work out, we'll get divorced. It'll be number three for me, but Liz Taylor and Jennifer Lopez have had more divorces. I don't care. I want Embry in my life, but I don't want to live with him. This seems the most practical way."
Molly nodded and sipped her iced tea. Vodka would help, she thought.
She looked back on the Cosmo Club Where are They Now episode that was running through her head. She was the first to marry and had the longest marriage. Karen met a cowboy on vacation and moved to Montana where she had three kids. Shannon married, divorced, married Molly's brother, and was living Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous in San Diego. Nancy racked up husbands and bed partners, Molly had assumed, but it turned out that it was just her original friend with benefits, Embry, all along. They were best buddies and lovers. Neither wanted to change the other and both were quite happy with the arrangement, conventions be damned.
Molly blinked and reached over to hold her friend's hand. "I – I think we're having an Oprah moment," she joked. Nancy laughed and nearly spat out her Diet Coke.
"Bitch," she replied in her usual Nancy way.
"Listen, bitch, I'm surprised but I'm happy for you both. Embry is a great guy, and if he gives you shit, tell me, and my Jake will kick the crap out of him."
"What if I give him shit?"
"Fuck, he's on his own. I am not messing with you, girlfriend!"
Fifty years. Mary Margaret Martin became Molly Black fifty years ago, give or take a week or two. Jacob was putting on his only tie while Molly smoothed the wrinkles in her dress.
"Mother of the bride clothes. I am so fucking old."
Jake laughed and drew her into his arms. "You are fucking old, Mrs. Black. And I love every wrinkle on you."
"Fuck you!" she laughed and swatted him playfully with the eyeglass case for her reading glasses.
Senior citizens, truly elders of the community, the marriage of Jacob and Molly Black survived to encompass three children, six grandchildren, and two (and counting) great-grandchildren. Aidan was Chief and grooming his son, Billy, to be his successor.
The pack was all there, as were the Cosmo Club. The Elders of the tribe when Molly joined were now deceased, but there were two generations past them. The improvements Molly and Jacob helped make decades ago continued to make La Push a vibrant reservation, from the internet businesses helped by Christine and Patrick Martin, to the cultural offerings Jake brought back, to the infrastructure built on the gains of their psychic investment advisor.
"Call for you," Seth handed Molly his cell phone. It was Jasper.
Molly Black and Jasper Whitlock became friends when Molly noticed his name cited on an article in an academic journal about some Civil War-era Native artifacts that were uncovered in Texas. She happened to mention the article to Seth, who put two and two together. Jasper was a History professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, and Carlisle and Esme lived nearby. Rosalie and Emmett, and Bella and Edward stayed in Europe, but often visited their family in New York. Jasper and Molly had co-authored a paper together, thanks to the internet and Skype, but had not met until one of Molly's trips to visit Sarah and Devon shortly after George had died. They had a nice, brief visit, and honestly, Molly did not see the need to continue to meet in person. She and Jasper had a good, professional relationship via long distance, and that was enough for her. Maybe living with werewolves had acclimatized her to dislike vampires, but she really did feel uncomfortable in their presence. However, they remained friends and she considered the Cullens good people with souls.
"Molly! Jake! We all just wanted to congratulate you on your golden wedding anniversary and wish you continued happiness," Jasper spoke in a Texas drawl that remained more than a century after he last resided in the Lone Star state.
Jake gave a weak smile. He wasn't fond of the Cullens, but did not demand that Molly not visit Jasper and Carlisle. However, the entire time he knew she was meeting them for tea, he stayed on hyper alert and even had the local police station emergency number on speed dial in case he needed to use it.
"Thank you so much. We really appreciate it. Sorry, but it looks like things are about to start here, so we'll chat later. Did you see that article from Claude Monteaux? Ridiculous. I think you should do a rebuttal. But we'll talk later. Thanks again," Molly smoothly exited the phone conversation. She did not want anything to remind Jacob of Bella on their anniversary.
She needn't have worried. "Where were we?" Jacob pulled her close and whispered into her ear. Molly giggled.
"Grandma, Grandpa, get a room!" called Daniel's daughter, Mei-Ling.
When the festivities were over and everyone went home, Jacob and Molly did their usual thing: a walk on the beach. Even though they were in their seventies now with arthritis, grey hair, wrinkles, and a host of other ailments that came with aging bodies, the beach was their spot. It was where they could talk and be themselves without the pressing needs of children or grandchildren or tribe or university. It was where Jake imprinted, where Molly professed her love, and where they were married fifty years before.
"What are you thinking?" Molly broke the silence.
"I wish my mom could see this," Jake said in a quiet, choked voice. Molly nodded. They were both orphans, both of their parents had died years before, Billy holding out the longest, but Jacob always remembered the one who died first, his mother, the first Sarah Black.
"Come, let's sit." Molly moved them to sit on some driftwood near the shore. The sound of the waves calmed his nerves and steadied his breathing.
"Remember how you told me about the Lion King, and how your ancestors watched over you?" Molly commented.
Jacob nodded. He knew where she was leading the conversation. After fifty years, he certainly knew her well. He looked up at the stars. "Mom's there. She's been there for 60 years now. Dad just joined her."
"George Kim is there. Mom, Dad, Sue, Charlie, Harry, Old Quil, they're all there."
"One day we'll be there, and we'll look down on our children and grandchildren and great grandchildren," Jacob said with a small smile. He made a conscious decision years ago to stop phasing completely so that he could grow old with his imprint, a choice he never gave a second of regret.
"And one day they will be looking down upon their children and grandchildren and great grandchildren."
"And maybe they'll see a U. Dub student making out with a Native guy on the beach," Jacob joked. Molly lightly elbowed his side. She would have given him a stronger shove in the old days, but she'd learned it wasn't worth the resulting physical ailments.
"Maybe they'll see a U. Dub student talking about love with a Native guy," Molly responded in a much more respectable tone.
"Maybe they'll see a wedding of two soul mates." Jacob almost whispered his reply. It was as quiet as a prayer. Love filled his heart, and he tenderly kissed Molly's hand. "I love you, U. Dub."
"And I love you, Jacob Black."
"We've had a great life together. Thank you for sharing your life with me."
"We're not dead yet! Your dad lived to a hundred! My mom was 93. We have time."
That caused Jacob to chuckle. "Remember how crazy busy you were when we first met, and you had to spend weekends here? Just watching you was exhausting!"
"And I stayed that busy until the twins were born, then I gave up. I finally learned to slow down."
"Having three kids under four years old didn't slow you down, Mary Margaret," Jacob laughed.
"You were there too, Jacob Black. You changed quite a few diapers yourself."
Jacob pulled her closer to him. "Look at our kids now. They're great. They're great parents, too. We did good, U. Dub." He kissed her hair, and she inhaled his scent.
"Love you too."
They leaned into each other, being each other's support as they had been for the past fifty years. Through births and deaths, celebrations and sadness, watching their families grow. Through it all, the love remained.
Love, love, love, love, love. Happiness. Joy. Memories. Love.
A/N: This is it. It's over. The HEA.
BTW, here are some scenes I thought of but did not include:
* The imprintees decide a great money-maker would be a calendar of the Quileute pack in shirtless poses all over the Rez. It's a best-seller.
* Sally and Danny get into a fight because Sally gets into Stanford and Danny gets into Berkeley and she thinks he applied to Cal just to spite her (they're rival schools, figured it'd just be funny for us alumni).
And some advancements of the pack not clearly mentioned:
*Quil and Claire marry when she's 18
* Seth is a fireman and married Colette, a school teacher. She's mixed African-American and White (I realized I had no specific African-American characters in this fic).
* Leah got a law degree and is a kick ass trial attorney.
This is my last author's note so I'm going to be self-indulgent and make this a long one. I'm not planning on any more multi-chapter fics, so I'll get it all out now.
It's been a fabulous ride. I'm just amazed how supportive this community is. So many people have taken time to help me with this fic from other writers who volunteered to be character betas, to the Anamorphis who made my banner for Twilighted and LJ, to Project Team Betas who spent hours reading and editing my chapters, to the reviewers who encouraged me to continue this writing.
I'm a left brain person married to another left brained person who works in a left brained job in a region of the world where being left brained is revered. I haven't written in about twenty years, and the need to give Jacob a Happy Ever After caused me to start writing again. And I found that I love it (hence, all the stories I've written since I first posted in August). I plan to keep writing, albeit probably no more Jacob and no more multi-chapter fics. But who knows? Real life has gotten crazy busy and I'm thinking of adding on to some of my one-shots, so please keep me on Author Alert.
My Oscar speech:
Huge thanks go to HotNCold and Tears of Mercury. They truly are my handholders. They encouraged me to write and publish, and still continue to encourage me to this day. If this fic was a child, they would be the godparents.
Big thanks to my betas, Mac216 and ErinB for their endless patience with my either under or over use of commas and mixed up verb tense.
Huge thanks to Project Team Beta which linked me with these and many other betas.
Big thanks also to Stretch and BlueandBlack (ff)/ Blue Suzanne (LJ) whom I found on Sort of Beautiful, the pro-Jacob LiveJournal community. They also supported my writing before my very first post. BTW, SOB is a great community. I found my first beta there, big thanks to Feriel Muriel.
Thanks to Aelyalaniara and Snow Wolf Alpha, a couple of my first reviewers, who always gave me encouraging and intelligent reviews.
Thanks to all my reviewers, especially my regular ones Chellie09, Davii-Hime, IsbellaJacob521, Kyliez, hgmsnoopy, Living Masquerade, winchesterxgirl, Noelly, Stephanie is amazzzing, whyunotme, Kara Hysteric, dreaminBIG.. You all are some of the smartest reviewers in fandom. Writing is a pretty lonely process, I tend to do it when the kids are asleep and the hubby is downstairs watching something on TV than involves guns, murders and explosions. I keep this as a pretty secret part of my life, so reviews are my lifeline, literally.
Thank to you all who put this fic on Story Alert, Favorite Story and/or Author Alert. I still remember when I got my first Favorite Story Alert; I literally sent emails to HotnCold and Tears of Mercury because I was so ecstatic.
Thank you to the most awesome author Minisinoo who gave me resources to learn Native American culture.
Thank you to SSHG316 for writng the amazing The Life Unlived which gave me the inspiration for the epilogue.
What next? I suggest keeping me on author's alert. This fic was a labor of love, I had to give Jacob a happy ending that I thought was worthy of him (and yes, I had to make up an OC to do it. If you want it to be Leah, read Princess Bertha's Endless Daylight, if you want Bella, check out LJ SOB community fics). I'm thinking of adding on to some of my one-shots, like the IM Wooing of Bella Swan (written for Googleward contest) and the Best Worst First Date Ever. I also just finished the first draft of a Jared/Kim one shot for the Quileute/La Push contest.
BTW, if you're bored, read through this fic again and see if you can guess which parts were written last summer and which bits I've updated along the way (honestly, some parts in chapt 15 where totally cringe-worthy!).
Once again, thank you. I couldn't have done this without it. Otherwise, this would have been just a file on my hard drive with an audience of one. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
(Song is over. Exit Billie Joe Armstrong. The spotlight fades to Black.)