This is a little bonus outtake to go along with the FGB piece that Ainsley_Haynes requested, though they're not directly linked, other than both being part of the Garden universe.
Thanks as always to Naelany for the fantastic beta work.
Sept. 2032, Forks, Washington
Edward looked up from his desk at the slam of the front door. It was just past seven, and he didn't expect Bella home for an hour or so yet, which meant that it could only be one person who'd let himself into the house.
Edward rolled his eyes and Jasper chuckled from his desk under the window. "In the office," Jasper called back, and the thunderous sounds of their teenage son carried down the hall. Anthony, who only barely tolerated being called Tony anymore, let alone Ant, was a month shy of seventeen and a sixth year student (junior) at Forks Academy. There'd been a college recruitment fair at the Academy that day, and apparently Anthony had decided he couldn't wait until the weekend (or even lunch the next day) to see them. He'd had the choice of living at home or staying in the dorms, and he'd elected to stay in the dorms, rooming with his cousin Sam, since he would be able to see his parents every day. Once he'd gotten his license when he turned sixteen, he came and went to the house as he wanted, but largely stayed on campus during the week.
"Hey," Tony announced himself, dropping his backpack and flopping onto the worn couch under the bookshelves in the office. "Where's mom?"
"Yearbook meeting," Edward answered as Jasper closed his book and spun in his chair to face Anthony. "Speaking of, shouldn't you be studying or something? Or practicing for all those auditions you made us gather information for?" Edward asked pointedly.
"Yeah, yeah," Tony said with a wave of his hand. "I wanted to talk to you and Dadsper," he said.
"About what?" Jasper asked, unbothered by the nicknames Anthony had bestowed upon them when he was about ten.
"I thought about something at the recruitment fair today," he started, rubbing his hands idly on his jeans. "Did you go?"
Jasper shook his head and Edward answered "No, why?"
"Okay, so, you know that I've been thinking about going to medical school after college, like Grandpa Carlisle, and Bree, right?"
Edward nodded slowly, as did Jasper, and Edward could see his confusion echoed on Jasper's face.
"What would you say if I took a bit of a detour before college?" Tony asked quietly.
"What kind of detour, and how long are we talking?" Jasper asked.
Tony unzipped his backpack and pulled out a brochure, which he handed to Edward. "I want to audition for the Marine Corps Band," he said plainly. "I kind of spoke with a recruiter today, and I have an appointment for next week to get some more answers," he said in a rush. "I want to find out about going in straight from the academy or if I should go to college and do ROTC first, and they're going to help me sort this out."
Edward was unsurprised at the revelation that Tony wanted to do something with music; he was an incredibly talented trumpet player, and Edward didn't say that just because Tony was his son. He'd taken second at All-State two years ago, and first the year before. He was poised to take it again in the spring.
"Why don't you want to talk to your mom about this yet?" Jasper asked quietly, his expression mostly blank.
Anthony grinned, an expression Edward often saw in the mirror. "Yeah, well..." he ran his hand through his hair."I wanted to get your sense on things before I caused her to freak out," he confessed sheepishly.
"Good plan," Edward muttered, earning him a snort from Jasper. Edward looked down at the glossy flier in his hands, turning it and skimming over it before passing it to Jasper, who he assumed had far fewer questions than Edward.
"Are you sure this is something you want to do, son?" Jasper asked. "It's a large commitment, though a noble one. You're going to have to make sure this is what you want to do, and that you're not doing it just to follow in the footsteps of your old men," he said with a smile.
Tony nodded. "It's a bit of both. You were a Marine, and Dadward was a professional musician. I see a chance here to do both before or after college and medical school. I want to make a difference in more ways than one, dads. That's why I wanted to talk to you first. So I can have backup when I tell her I want to go into the service after I speak to the recruiter next week. I'm pretty sure she's going to object."
"Maybe not," Jasper answered. "Her father was a police chief, after all."
Anthony nodded. "Yeah. Maybe." He looked unsure.
"Come on, kid," Edward said, reaching for his cane and rising. "Let's raid the freezer and talk this over so you can get back to campus before quiet hours."
Jasper laughed softly; Anthony had inherited, amongst other traits from Edward, his sweet tooth. They made their way to the kitchen and Jasper pulled down 2 bowls and a glass, while Anthony grabbed spoons and the ice cream scoop. Edward dug out the ice cream that was always in the freezer. While Edward and Anthony dished up huge bowls of strawberry and vanilla ice cream, Jasper scooped a small amount of ice cream into a glass and poured a bottle of root beer over the top for his treat as they sat around the dining room table.
They talked over their evening snack, discussing Tony's options for the future. Jasper was proud of him for considering the military, even if not in a combat unit, because it had been something that every male in his family had done, even if Jasper's own service had been cut short. Edward himself was ambivalent, but held back his own feelings until after Tony had raided the fridge and made a couple of sandwiches to take back with him to campus before Bella returned. Jasper was quiet as he rinsed their dishes, but took Edward's hand and led him into the living room, where they reclined on the couch together.
"What are you thinking?" Jasper asked quietly, his fingers lightly running through Edward's short hair, the grey strands slowly starting to overtake his natural bronze.
"I don't know," Edward admitted. "I'm proud of him for looking into doing something bigger than himself, but part of me is worried. He may go in as a musician, but it's still the military, y'know?" he asked rhetorically. "I know you've got a different perspective on it than I do, having already been there, but it's a huge decision."
Jasper nodded. "It is. But it's his to make," he reminded Edward.
"I know," Edward said on a sigh. "And I'm worried that Bella may not take it as well as you think," he said lightly.
"The President's Own is a non-combative unit," Jasper said softly. "And, I know he's brilliant, but there's always a chance he won't get in. That's when you can freak out, if he decides to enlist in a regular unit." He bent and kissed Edward softly.
"Yeah, you've got a point," Edward agreed, but he knew, somehow instinctively, that if Tony went after it, he'd get it. He was too stubborn not to, just like his mama.
Just after he had the thought, the front door opened and Bella strolled through, dropping her bag on the floor near the table where they left their keys and kicked her shoes off with a happy sounding sigh. "Hi," she said, smiling softly. "You look comfy."
Edward held a hand out to her in invitation and she joined them on the couch with a quiet groan, snuggling up to Edward's chest after leaning over him to give Jasper a kiss of greeting. "This is the last year I do yearbook," she said with a sigh, stretching her toes.
"Yeah, that's what you said last year, love," Edward teased. Her hair had finally started to grey, and she left the strands in without attempting to cover them, claiming they made her look more distinguished. They'd celebrated her forty-ninth birthday only a couple of weeks before, and she didn't look a day over thirty-five.
"Well, next year I'll actually mean it. Once Tony graduates, I think I'll finally be able to let myself let go of some of those activities the two of you abandoned as soon as you could," she teased.
"Hey! I kept teaching a full load, unlike you, Ms. Higginbotham, who went to half days so you could stay home with said kid and write," Jasper teased.
"While I had students dragging me all over the world on tours," Edward added. Since taking over the instrumental side of the department all those years ago, Edward had had the privelge of taking his bands to Carnegie Hall, China, and Germany, as well as all over the west coast on various tours. The music department had proved to be a huge draw for perspective students, and so the band often toured the northwest as part of a recruitment effort throughout the years.
"Oh, poor yous," Bella mocked, laughing. "Ugh, I want out of these clothes," she muttered, struggling to get out of Edward's embrace.
"I can help you with that," Edward leered, putting aside his concerns about Tony's choices for the moment. They'd have plenty of time to talk it over after he met with the recruiter and had more information.
Bella smacked his chest lightly and he let her go. "Behave," she warned, a twinkle in her eye.
"But that's no fun," Edward whined. Bella kissed him to shut him up, and he returned it, briefly.
"Did you get dinner, darlin, or can I warm something up for you?" Jasper asked as Bella slid from the couch to her feet.
"I grabbed something at the dining hall," she answered. She leaned in to kiss them each softly. "I'm going to change. Did we hear from Carlisle and Esme today?" she called as she made her way down the hall to their bedroom.
"Mom emailed," Edward called back. "They made port in Aruba today."
Bella's voice was muffled and Edward rolled his eyes as Jasper laughed softly. She did that do them all the time. Edward waited until she came back into the room to ask her what she'd said.
"I said," she said with a huff, "that it sounds like they're having fun."
"They are," Edward said. "And you don't have to get huffy. You know I can't hear you from back there."
She grumbled as she curled up in the armchair next to the couch, reaching for the basket of knitting and crochet that she and Jasper shared while they watched TV in the evenings. "You used to."
"Forgive him, darlin', he's getting old," Jasper said gently, teasing them both even as he remained, as usual, the peacekeeper between them.
Edward turned and shot Jasper a look, which earned him a soft kiss before he went for the remote. Edward flipped through the guide until he found the programs they normally watched, and relaxed against Jasper, tucking himself up against his side on the couch.
They spent the rest of the evening quietly watching TV, talking during commercials and catching up with each other. After the early news, they spread the yoga mats out and went through the twenty minute routine that had been their habit over the past twenty odd years. They switched up the DVDs regularly so they didn't get bored. When they finished, Jasper cleaned up while Edward and Bella headed for the bedroom. Edward changed for bed while Bella took her turn in the bathroom, and they bumped elbows at the sink while brushing their teeth. Jasper joined them a few minutes later, and it wasn't long before they were positioned in bed, each of them with a book, the late news playing softly on the TV mounted against the wall as they waited for the late-night show to start so they could catch the monologue before bed.
As the news replayed, Edward found himself thinking again of his son's choices and decision, and decided that no matter what, he'd support him. Edward knew that he, Jasper, and Bella hadn't raised him to be a fortune and fame seeker, and much like Jasper had said in his first commencement speech at Forks Academy, he wouldn't go into it seeking to be a hero. His boy was already a leader, having completed his Eagle Scout over the summer, and Edward knew he'd do well, whatever he decided. His little boy wasn't so little anymore, and Edward knew that he'd need to start making those decisions for himself.
He switched the TV off a few minutes before midnight, and he snuggled down with his partners for the night, softly spoken good nights and "I love you"s passing between them as they each drifted off to sleep.
Please check my profile for links to other outtakes for FGB winners. There's still one more to come.