This chapter is a little shorter than usual, but it's also how I always saw this story ending, a look to the future and the next generation having their moment. Thank you so much for supporting this story over the last year and for sticking with me when the updates were scarce. Special thanks as always to my beta on this, A Cullen Wannabe, for her hard work and to Sugunary and all of the others who review and rec this fic as often as they can. Your RT's and comments always make me smile and validate why I do this in the hours I'm not at work.
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Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The songs are the property of the copyright holders. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
This chapter is named after the NKOTB song "This One's For the Children"
For the last time, here's A Way Back to When.
Epilogue: This One's For the Children
The years had been good to us. After leaving ACM and starting Break of Dawn Theatre Company, I spent the next twenty years working in the business I love on my own terms. I was home for dinners, kept date nights with Bella, and raised two beautiful children. Sam and Vanessa were two of the best things to ever happen to me and they were our pride and joy. Sam was starting college at Georgetown in the fall and Vanessa had just finished her sophomore year of high school, but more importantly, they were both out of town visiting my parents.
The kids loved visiting Forks. Knowing what it was like to miss out on time with Bella's parents after Charlie passed away right before Sam's first birthday, they took every chance to see the family we had left.
Our careers took off over the years. Bella worked on numerous exhibits at a number of museums around the city with great success. Meanwhile, the company produced several musicals and plays that were moved from our facility to Broadway, earning us a few more Tony's as producers and creatively, but this year was different.
One of the composers I'd mentored was up for a Tony tonight, and I was also up for Best Musical as a producer of our most recent show to make the jump across the river and onto the Great White Way. It was going to be a fun evening with a large number of the people who went through our theater expected to be there at this year's award show, that is until Bella started to come up with something.
It was only the flu, but still, I didn't want to get all dressed up and stay out celebrating while I knew she was home. I'd called Jasper and let him know that we wouldn't be making it and he made the necessary arrangements. So instead of jumping in the shower and getting my tux ready, I drew a bath for Bella using the salts she loved, but rarely used, and went to make some soup.
Bella took her time in the bathroom, and when she emerged in her cotton pj's, I walked her into the dining room where she sat down and dug into her dinner. That made me smile, because it meant she was feeling better.
After the soup and sandwiches were done, I loaded the dishwasher and told Bella to get comfortable. I walked into the bedroom to see her propped up against the headboard with the blankets on my side pulled down for me, a smile playing on her lips. "Honey, I forgot the tissues, can you grab me a box and a plastic bag?"
Laughing at her, I went back to the kitchen to get a grocery bag and stopped in the linen closet for a fresh box of tissues. With my wife fully prepared, I climbed into bed next to her and turned on the minimal red carpet coverage that the Tony's got.
As we watched the parade of people dressed up to the nines being interviewed, I heard the scoffs and sneers coming from Bella and couldn't help but chuckle. "What's so funny? Those are ridiculous dresses."
"It's the style these days, our parents used to hate what we wore, remember the miniskirts the girls at school wore?"
Bella scowled at me and the reached for another tissue. "So if Vanessa wanted to wear that dress to her Junior Prom next year, you'd be fine with it?"
"Our daughter has more sense than that, and if not then I'll lock her in her room until she finds it."
We were both grinning at that, because there wasn't anything my daughter wanted that she didn't get, much to the detriment of my hair, which was now going grey in places. The telecast turned inside Radio City, the site of many defeats and a few sweet victories over the years. "You could have gone tonight, Edward. Alec sounded disappointed when you told him that you weren't going to be in attendance, and I know you wanted to be there to see him win. He's like another son to you."
"Bella, I'm exactly where I want to be, and Alec understands. He started with me as his mentor when you were pregnant with Vanessa, that boy knew at 20 about what he wanted more than I did at his age. He's always known that my family was my first concern; I cancelled more appointments with him during that first year than I care to admit. But he was always there the next day ready to discuss his progress. He's a good man; he'd have to be with Jane as a wife."
Remembering back to those days, it was hard not to laugh. Jane had joined us as soon as she graduated from college, working as an assistant director and going through our directing program only to take the helm of her first show in our black box theater a year later. When Alec joined a few years after that, he followed her like a lap dog. It took a year and a half before she'd go out with him. The relationship was a fast one once they began it and Bella and I were soon dancing at their wedding.
I was pulled from my musings by Bella's nudge. "How does Alice look like that? Four kids and she still looks like she's 30."
I turned, my head shaking at her jaded view of herself. "Bella, you're the sexiest woman in the world. I'm DVRing the awards, how about we take advantage of the empty house?" My hand glided across her stomach, but she stopped its progress just under her breast.
"Please Edward, I love you, but I'm not in the mood. I'm sick and achy and-"
"Okay love, another night. We only have another four days before the kids are back though."
Giving up on fooling around, I pulled Bella closer to my side as the show's opening began. The first couple of awards for plays were in our favor and it looked like we may just clean up.
When the time came for the Best Score Tony to be announced, I was more nervous than I was the last time I was up for one. It was surreal watching it at home, but when they announced that Alec had won, I was yelling louder than Jane was from her seat beside him. It was only the second time he'd written both the music and lyrics for a show and you could tell that he hadn't expected to hear his name called. Walking up the stairs and over to the microphone, his hands shook slightly as they handed him his award.
"Wow…I honestly didn't expect to win tonight, so please bear with me. I'd like to thank the American Theater Wing for the honor of not only being named the winner of this award, but for the company in which I was nominated. Everyone at the Schubert Organization for their help making this production a reality, our director Dean, for all of your support and working with me to make the show the best it could be. To our amazing cast, thank you for making the music take flight, and the orchestra for your amazing talent elevating my music to new heights. My wife, who is my drill sergeant and my partner in all things, we're like two halves and I'm so thankful for you. And lastly, to my mentor and friend, Edward Cullen. My father died when I was too young to remember him, but when Edward came into my life while I was in college, he took me under his wing and taught me more about being an artist and a man than anyone else. I know you're home watching this, so thank you, for everything."
I could hear the sniffles from my chest as Bella tried to play it off as a runny nose. I wasn't too big a man to admit that his words had touched me. "That was a great speech."
"Baby, are you crying?"
"No more than you are." She turned to face me at my little remark, kissing me.
"Every word was true. You're a great man and a talented composer; I don't know why you're surprised to hear him say it. I was lucky the day I married you."
I bent down to kiss her and she pulled herself to me as she deepened the kiss. The ringing of Bella's cell phone interrupted us as she answered the call from Vanessa. "Sweetie, how's your trip? Are you enjoying First Beach?"
"Yeah, you know me, I catch the flu in June, what are you going to do with me?"
"I did see the speech, but if you want to know what your dad thought, you can ask him, he's right here."
I took the phone from Bella and watched as she crawled out of bed and went to the bathroom. "Hi Ness, what's up?"
"Dad, Alec's speech was so sweet. Grandma and I both cried when we heard it. Why aren't you at the show?"
"Your mom wasn't feeling well, and I didn't want to go out late and leave her here alone."
"Aww. See dad, that's the stuff Jacob and I were talking about this morning at the beach."
"Jacob?" I was certain I didn't like the sound of this.
"Yeah, Jacob Black. You and mom know his dad, Jake. Sam and I always hang out with him when we come to Forks. He's still on the reservation, but he knows a lot of the kids from the high school and he's super sweet. He asked me out and Grandma said I could go with him tomorrow as long as he had me home by curfew."
"How old is he, Nessie?"
"Dad?" It was more of a moan than a word, but it didn't stop her from answering. "He's 17, we're nine months apart."
"Put your grandmother on the phone."
"Fine." I heard her mutter as she handed the phone off to my mom.
"Edward, is Bella okay? I wasn't expecting you to be home."
"Why is my daughter going on dates when she's supposed to be visiting you?"
"Because she's been friends with the boy for years and he asked. He's a nice young man and that's the end of this. They've been friends since they were all little kids running around the playground and they email during the year. She's not a little girl anymore, Edward."
"Mom, you never had a little girl, but you did have me, and believe when I say, you got off easy. I'll talk to you later. Bye."
Bella was just coming out of the bathroom when I turned to look at her. "What do you know about Jacob Black?"
She shot me a confused look before climbing into bed. "He's a 49, Native American that's married with three kids. Why?"
"Not Jacob Sr., Jacob Jr."
"Oh," she blushed at her mistake and then continued with her answer. "He's Jake's 17 year old son. He hangs out with the kids and keeps in touch between vacations. He's taking Vanessa out tomorrow night."
"You knew?" My voice came out higher than I meant it to, but how did I not know about this?
"She called to ask if it was okay. Edward, he's a good kid. I've talked to Jake about this and asked him to put the fear of God into his son on your behalf. Just let her have fun. She doesn't get to see him often and she really likes Jake. You're not mad at me for not telling you, right?"
Bella sat there looking up at me all pouty and adorable so I kissed her forehead and turned off the TV. "What are you doing? The show isn't over."
"We can watch the end tomorrow; right now I want to fall asleep with my wife curled up at my side. Plus it'll keep my mind off what little Jake may be thinking about our daughter."
Bella giggled, playfully swatting my arm before we settled down and she moved the tissues to the nightstand. She turned over and draped her right arm over my waist, my arms tightening around her.
"Goodnight, sweetheart. Feel better."