A/N: I could babble away about real life and all that, but who cares. Let's get down to business. Chapter 13, unbeta'd. Be gentle. Twilight et all doesn't belong to me but this story belongs to me, Lillie, and DrDeath... blah blah blah. Thanks for reading.
The phone call from Bella was a surprise for Edward. Something he wasn't really used to. He had the advantage, or disadvantage, of usually knowing what was going on with everyone. Except Bella. He had quickly agreed to meeting with Sam and the pack, not even considering how dangerous it could be for him. He knew from his talk with Bella that it probably wasn't going to be pleasant, but she was going to be there. Surely it wouldn't be too bad. He decided to consult Alice, as much as he didn't really want to. Of course, the moment he made the decision to consult her, the annoying Pixie appeared in the den.
"You know I can't see those damn dogs, Edward."
Edward rolled his eyes and then proceeded to pierce her skull with them. Her mind was in full blockage mode, which only served to annoy him more. "Might I remind you, Alice, those babies that you are so anxious to have around us are part Quileute. More than likely, they will have the gene. It's dominant. We'll have no choice about it. I suggest you stop referring to them as dogs because one of these days it might be my children you are calling dogs, and I'm pretty sure that would leave me no choice but to shred you and burn you in a bonfire!" Yes, Edward was angry. All the prejudices had to stop. On both sides.
Alice apologized. She knew what Edward said was true and the last thing she wanted to be was alienated from Bella and her children. And Edward. Sorta. Okay so he had been no picnic to live with the last several months…years…but he was still her brother and she loved him. Most of the time.
While Edward and Alice talked about the meeting with the pack, the one thing in the back of Edward's mind was that Bella was at least considering his proposal.
In the meantime, Jasper wandered in to ask what had happened. For the first time in months, Edward's emotions weren't driving him out of the house. He could feel Edward's relief and elation. It was refreshing.
After Edward was sure of his plan, he called Bella and asked if he could bring her to the house for a few hours to see everyone. Through her exhaustion, which was evident over the phone, she reluctantly agreed. He knew she wasn't sure she was ready, but she was forging ahead.
Waiting for Edward to arrive was agony for Bella. She wanted to get the hell out of the house before Charlie arrived home. His mood swings were giving her a headache. Wasn't she the one with the hormone upheaval who had the right to mood swings? One might have thought her father was the one pregnant with twins. He and Billy weren't speaking. Sue had been over several times to talk to Charlie and try to calm him down, but Bella really couldn't tell if that was helping or not. Sam hadn't indicated to her what his 'decision' was, just that he wanted to meet with her and Edward. Everything was just a little on the overwhelming side and all Bella wanted to do was crawl in bed and sleep for about a week. Or two.
Edward was out of the car and on the front porch before Bella could blink. She hadn't even gotten the front door open before Edward was swooping in. Fortunately, the moment he saw her he relaxed, and whatever excitement he was exuding, he shut down quickly. She could tell he wanted to hug her but wasn't sure he should so he just stood there awkwardly asking her if she was ready to go. It was a little on the comical side to see Edward be awkward. She tried to keep her smirk to herself as she greeted him and quickly exited the house. She hoped the note she left Charlie would serve to keep him out of her hair for a few hours, or days, depending on what she needed. She just didn't know how being back in the Cullen household would be. The good news was that everyone would be there, so at least she would have Rosalie. She knew she could ask Rosalie to go to the moon for her and she would do it in a heartbeat.
As they drew closer to the house, Alice began to fidget. The headache was nigh on unbearable. She imagined it was close to what humans with migraines dealt with, only it had to be worse for her. It was all she could do to just stay there and wait for them to arrive. She wanted desperately to see Bella, but the headache was a problem. Jasper tried to use his gift to soothe her, but it only worked for a brief moment before the pain flooded into her brain again.
Rosalie and Esme were in the kitchen busily preparing food in anticipation of Bella's arrival. One glance at the spread they had would cause one to believe they were feeding a whole convention of pregnant women, not just one who didn't eat much because every time she did, she threw up.
Carlisle was checking over his medical supplies to ensure he had everything available that he might need for Bella – for the rest of her pregnancy and beyond.
Obviously, the whole household was nervous. Except Emmett, who was playing Call of Duty and yelling at someone he was playing with on line who had allowed him to be shot. The horror!
The family cautiously descended on Bella when she walked in the front door. Alice hugged her and backed away. Jasper shook her hand. Weird. Rosalie was immediately by her side while Carlisle and Esme stood away from the rest, Esme looking very nervous. Emmett even put down his controller and headset to come over and bear hug her, gently, before retreating to his game.
Bella was glad that for once, she wasn't the one who felt ill at ease with the Cullens. This time the shoe was on the other foot. Once all the uncomfortable greetings were over with, Carlisle approached and ushered her into his office to do his daily check on her health. Edward asked if he could attend, and Bella agreed.
Overall, the pregnancy seemed to be going along swimmingly, but Carlisle was perplexed that he couldn't solve Bella's nausea and vomiting. He had tried just about everything short of medicating her, which he didn't really want to do. There were medications thought to be safe in pregnancy for severe nausea, but none of those had been tested on women pregnant with shapeshifter twins. He just didn't want to take any chances.
When Carlisle was done with her and Edward was satisfied that things were going well, Bella tried to eat a little of the food that Rosalie and Esme had prepared. She choked some down and tried to be gracious. Honestly, her nervousness about meeting with Sam and the pack was confounding her.
Finally, the family gathered around the table. Alice removed all the food in hopes that Bella wouldn't be sick and a hush fell over the room.
Carlisle finally broke the silence. "So when is the meeting to be?"
"Tomorrow," Bella said, nearly whispering.
A discussion quickly ensued about how the meeting should be handled. Edward was insisting that he and Bella go alone. Neither Jasper, nor Emmett thought that was a good idea, and Rosalie felt that she should go in Bella's place. Alice wanted nothing to do with it because of her headache. She was more concerned about what she was going to do with Bella around more. She didn't want to leave for the duration of the pregnancy because that would seem like she didn't care, but she wasn't sure she could handle the headache and holes in her visions for the entire pregnancy. And what if none of that got better after the babies were born?
Carlisle decided that since he was the head of the family, he was going to accompany Edward and Bella to meet with the pack. He ordered everyone else to stay away. There was some grumbling about being outnumbered and Bella's safety, but Bella put all that to rest when she reminded them that the babies she was carrying were Quileute and there was no way any of the pack would put those babies in danger.
The meeting was to take place near Sam and Emily's house. Bella had called ahead and let Sam know that Carlisle would be accompanying her and Edward. Sam wasn't happy, but he understood, as a leader, why Carlisle felt he needed to be there. The rest of the pack was even more unhappy that Sam was allowing not just one, but two vampires, on their land, and furthermore – at his house! Sam went all Alpha on them and the complaining stopped, but not all of the sulking did.
The drive to Sam's house was a quiet one for Bella, Edward, and Carlisle. Edward was gripping the steering wheel tightly and Bella silently wondered how he would steer if he broke it. Carlisle was making notes in a leather bound book and kept looking out the window as if to think before he wrote again. Bella was just trying not to throw up.
Emily greeted them when they arrived. She had some hot tea in a "to-go" cup ready for Bella when she stepped out of the car. "The boys are waiting at the beach," she said while wrapping a big blanket around Bella and handing her tea to her.
Bella thanked her and sipped the tea. She didn't know how Emily made that tea, but she needed the recipe. It was the only thing that didn't make her feel like vomiting the second it hit her stomach.
Emily said hello to Edward and Carlisle before offering to lead the way to the pack. Bella found the whole thing just strange. She stepped up and walked next to Emily down to the entrance to the beach. That was where Emily left them. She pointed to the boys who had built a fire and all seemed to be just milling around until Bella, Edward, and Carlisle appeared. As soon as their presence was known, the pack all fell in together and sat down on the logs arranged near the fire. There was one log across from them just big enough for Bella to sit on. She took this as a respect towards her pregnancy and gratefully sat, pulling the blanket tighter around her. It was cloudy, cold, and wet, as usual.
Edward and Carlisle carefully approached Sam and both shook his hand before they came back and stood behind Bella, who couldn't look at anyone but Sam. The sea of faces behind him held many emotions and she wasn't sure she wanted to deal with that at the moment. Sam was the first to speak and stood to do so.
"I've spoken with the tribal leaders and with all the members of the pack individually on the matter before us. First, to clarify, it is my understanding that the facts are that A. Bella is pregnant with twins and they are Jacob's, B. Bella wishes to have and raise her babies with Edward and the rest of your…family." Sam shifted from left to right on his feet and there was some tittering amongst the pack members. After a moment, everyone settled and Sam continued. "C. Bella also wishes to have the pack and the rest of the Quileute involved in the babies' lives and D. Charlie doesn't know the full extent of things here. Is this all correct, Bella?"
Bella nodded and cleared her throat. "Yes, those things are all correct, Sam. And while I hadn't considered what to do about Charlie, I think that's something we all need to discuss while we're together. There's going to have to be a plan, regardless of the outcome of this council." Bella knew every single one of them could hear the shaking and uncertainty in her voice. She hoped they didn't view this sign of weakness as an open invitation to try and bully her. She wasn't having any of that. While she sat and listened, she tried desperately to pull herself together. Just in case.
"First I have to let you all know that the elders are not as certain about my decision as I am, but I've stood firm. As pack leader, they don't necessarily have to take my advice or council, but I can override them, and they know it." Sam wrung his hands nervously and it occurred to Bella this was the first time she had ever seen Sam unsure of himself. She knew in that moment was his answer was to be. He was going to allow it.
"Bella, you are the only one who knows what is best for you. While I don't understand or even necessarily agree with your decisions, I feel that since this is your life, I have to ask The People to abide by your wishes. I am sure that you've considered how Jake would feel about this and realize that he might not agree either, but again, this is your life." Sam dropped to one knee in front of Bella and for a moment she froze. What if he said the pack and the rest of the Quileute were going to disown her and her children? What would that do to her babies? What would it do to her? She felt Edward's hand on one shoulder and he squeezed ever so gently. Of course, he already knew what Sam was going to say. Bella tried to stop shaking.
Sam bowed his head and when he looked back into Bella's eyes, his were shining and full of tears. "There's no way we can walk away from Jake's children, regardless of how you choose to raise them. You will, now and always, have the full support of the pack and The People, but…"