I know... I've been MIA forever. My muse packed her crap and moved to Europe. I've struggled writing this chapter for - well - a long time. I am determined to someday finish this story. The usual "not my shit" applies to the parts that aren't mine and the usual "it's my shit and leave it alone" applies to the parts that are mine. If you're reading this, thanks for hanging in there with me. This is un-beta'd so please forgive any errors. Thanks!


Chapter 12

Bella's mind was swirling with the impact of what Edward said in the meadow for the next week. She asked him for a little time to think things over and he obliged her by telling her to take as long as she needed.

Looking in her full-length mirror, Bella knew she had to make some quick decisions. She wouldn't be able to hide the baby bump for long. Being pregnant with twins was making her show faster than if it had just been one baby.

Briefly, Bella listened to the sounds of Charlie in the kitchen. It was time.

"Dad, can you take me down to Billy's?"

Charlie startled at the soft sound of Bella's voice. His mind was a million miles away when she approached him. "You don't want to drive yourself, Bells?" he asked cautiously.

"No, I don't. There's something I want to talk to you and Billy about."

Bella didn't offer anything further to her father, but Charlie could see by the determination written all across her face that it was important so he readily agreed to take her. Bella went to the phone immediately to call Billy and ask him to gather "the boys" and Emily for a meeting.

At the designated time, Charlie and Bella arrived in La Push to a sea of curious faces milling around outside of Billy's house. Charlie glanced at Bella; she still had the determined look about her, and Charlie just wasn't sure if what was about to happen was going to be good or not. He slowly gathered his strength and stepped out of the cruiser onto the wet rocks that filled Billy's driveway.

After Billy's living room was packed to the brim with the hot bodies of the pack, Bella stood in the center and drew in a deep breath.

Emily had been able to guess what was going on with Bella the moment she laid eyes on her and wondered exactly what it was that Bella was going to say. She tried to keep her face neutral as Bella stood in the center of the room looking very uncomfortable.

Bella finally decided the direct approach would be best and in the spirit of the direct approach, she just blurted it out. "I'm pregnant with twins. They're Jacob's."

There was a distinct pause in the din that had been filling the room. Bella stood in the center, wringing her hands and looking at the floor.

Charlie's mouth opened to say something and then closed. A swarm of emotions overtook him and he was suddenly unable to form words.

Seth was the first to break the deafening silence by bounding over to Bella and hugging her tightly. "Congratulations, Bella! Twins, huh? Jake was the man!"

After Seth had set the celebratory tone, the rest of the pack took turns hugging and congratulating Bella. As she greeted each of them, she noticed Billy didn't look particularly happy and her father had left the room. Determined to hold herself together, Bella put a smile on her face and continued to return the hugs. Emily was the last to congratulate her and whispered in her ear that she loved her like a sister. While Bella appreciated that gesture, she wasn't so sure that Emily was going to feel the same way after she finished her announcement.

Once the merrymaking had settled to a dull roar, Bella cleared her throat. "There's more," she said, her voice quivering. Charlie's face appeared in the kitchen doorway. She locked eyes with him and continued to speak, hoping what she had to say wouldn't cause all the wolves to phase right there in Billy's living room. "Carlisle has been taking care of me the last several weeks. He is my doctor and assures me that everything will be fine with the babies." She chose her words carefully since her father was standing there. Of course, Charlie wasn't dumb, he knew there was more than met the eye with many of Bella's friends, but he had done his best to try to tuck that knowledge away somewhere in his mind where he might never have to deal with it.

A nervous rustle went through the room and slowly each eye turned towards Billy.

"While I want all of you to be around and help to raise Jacob's babies and teach them the ways of the tribe… Edward has asked to be a part of their lives as well as the rest of the Cullens. I know this will seem quite… unorthodox… to all of you, but for the sake of Jacob's death and the sake of his future children, I would ask that you put your prejudices aside and work with me on this."

Bella felt as though she might pass out. It was incredibly hot in the room. She started for the couch and stumbled. Paul stormed out of the house and slammed the front door so hard that it nearly splintered. Seth eased Bella onto the couch. Quil and Embry looked at each other and leaned against the wall, waiting for the explosion that was surely to come. Leah was clearly shaken and followed Paul out the door. Colin, Jared, and Brady stood their ground with shocked looks on their faces. They looked from Billy to Sam, waiting. Emily sat down next to Bella and fanned her with a magazine.

Sam was obviously trying to organize his thoughts before he spoke. He had to handle the situation carefully. He knew if he ordered Bella to stay away from the Cullens, he ran the risk of her taking Jacob's children away from them forever. He also knew if he allowed Bella's proposal, there would be some dissention in his ranks that he would have to deal with sternly and swiftly. What he really needed was to be able to discuss the situation candidly. Damn Bella for bringing Charlie with her. He knew she did so on purpose. It just irritated him that they couldn't meet the issue head on.

Sam took in the room, and then stepped to the center, standing directly in front of Bella. "Bella, do you mind if… would it be okay with you… can we have some time to discuss this fully amongst ourselves and get back to you?" His arms were crossed, his legs apart, looking like the leader that he truly was. And he waited.

"Of course, Sam. I expected as much," Bella replied. And she really had expected that response. She knew this would not be an easy decision for the pack or the other Quileute. At least the ones who mattered, like Billy for instance.

Emily went to the kitchen and started heating water for tea for Bella. She saw Charlie standing in the doorway of Jacob's old room, staring out the window at nothing in particular. As the water began to heat in the old teakettle, she approached Charlie, noting that his shoulders were shaking just a little. He startled when she touched his arm. "I know that you must have some mixed emotions about this, Charlie, but you know that everything is going to be fine, right?"

Charlie's brown eyes were full of tears, but he bravely nodded and tried to smile at Emily. "I guess this makes me… a grandfather," he said quietly.

Emily nodded and smiled, patting him on the back. "Yes, that it does."

Sam and the rest of the pack members dispersed rather quickly leaving Bella alone with Charlie, Billy, and Emily. When the teakettle whistled, Emily dropped a tea bag in a cup, poured the steaming water in, and headed towards the living room with Charlie right behind her. She and Charlie both sat down and Bella accepted the tea gratefully. Knowing she should probably say something, but having no idea what, Bella played with the teabag in her cup, listening to the deafening silence that filled the room. After a long moment, Billy drew in a deep breath and Bella steeled herself against what she knew would be coming.

"You know that you should be moving here and raising your children with the tribe."

Bella continued to dip the teabag up and down in the cup, not looking up, not reacting.

"Maybe she would be better off staying at home than moving over here," Charlie countered. He couldn't, for the life of him, figure out why Billy sounded so adamant about this. Bella was, after all, his daughter. The fact that he and his best friend would share grandfatherhood of her children was a precious gift as far as he was concerned, but he didn't appreciate the way Billy seemed to be trying to take over.

Billy turned his wheelchair so that he faced Charlie directly. "Obviously staying at home has already gotten her into quite a bit of trouble, Charlie. Perhaps you should think about that and realize she would be better off here. These children are half Quileute and should be raised amongst The People," he said with finality, his eyes flashing in anger.

"All right, that's it. Come on, Bells. We're going home. I think we need to have some discussions of our own." Charlie stood and awkwardly reached out his hand to Bella to help her up. Bella stared at her father's outstretched hand for a fleeting moment before taking it in hers and following her father out the door.

The ride back to Forks was quiet and Bella watched the trees flashing past the window of the cruiser all the way home. After they walked in the house, Charlie gestured to the couch and asked Bella if she needed anything. Bella, not being accustomed to her father's attentiveness, just shook her head and sank onto the couch.

Charlie paced.

The silence was driving Bella insane, so she finally said, "I'm sorry, Dad. I didn't know how else to tell you. I should have told you first, I guess."

"That's not the point, Bella. Okay, so it's part of it, but what bothers me is that you are so willing to let Edward back into your life like this. How would that make Jake feel? You letting Edward raise his children? Jake was the one who was here for you and you're going back to the man who broke you so badly that I thought you wouldn't be saved until Jake brought you back to me." Charlie continued to pace while he talked, his voice was shaking at first, but he was nearly yelling by the time he finished.

Bella listened to everything he said, not interrupting, not disagreeing, not letting him know that his words were falling on deaf ears. Bella had made up her mind. She wasn't going to be bullied by Billy, or Sam, and least of all Charlie.