A/N: Well folks, here it is, the last chapter of Long Way Down.
Beta'd by SweeneyAnne, and pre-read by THE Chick Norris.
There's already a gigantic authors note at the bottom, so I'll mention that there's two new chapters of Aftermath up, in case you didn't see them. There might be one more coming, but I have no idea when.
I don't own Twilight.
~-~- Chapter 26 -~-~
It was nearly five in the morning, and the party was in full swing. It had all started out innocent enough, Emmett had insisted that there needed to be some sort of celebration, and I'd been firmly in his corner. Jasper had already relented, and within thirty minutes of what I fully intended to be my final confrontation with Edward, Peter had volunteered Charlotte to accompany Emmett to town on a beer run, citing her 'incredible achievements in the area of grocery shopping' as reason.
Jasper and I returned to the house on our own after Alice, Rosalie, and Peter had offered to finish cleaning the remaining evidence of the battle. I'd expected the house to be near silent, but laughter floated over the lawn as we approached, and I grabbed hold of Jasper's arm to still him so I could eavesdrop a bit.
"...And Embry's just stuck there with no idea how to explain why he's running around out in the woods at seven in the morning buck-ass naked."
Bree laughed a little harder, and I looked over to see Jasper with a sad smile on his face as he stared at the house.
"What's this about?" I poked the corner of his mouth as I asked my question, and Jasper swatted my hand away without breaking his gaze.
"She's going to have a real hard time with all this, I'm just...I'm glad she's comfortable with someone."
I nodded my head absently and toyed with Jasper's fingers. "It's not going to be like it was for you. You're not gonna let it be that bad for her."
"No, I'm not," Jasper replied, and I was happy to see him look so determined about it. I thought this would probably be just as good for him as it would be for Bree; he could help her struggle through this transition and deal with everything she'd had to do to survive her time with Victoria and maybe being on the other side of that would help him to heal a little bit, too.
"This might be a stupid question," I warned, curious about exactly what had gone through his head, "but why was it so easy for Seth to convince you to let Bree live?"
"She didn't want Peter to touch her, she was absolutely terrified by the idea of it, and I figured that meant that she really didn't want to hurt anyone."
I nodded; impressed with how he'd broken down Bree's motives based solely off her emotions and behavior, and to my right Peter emerged from the forest a few yards away. He stared at the two of us for a moment, seemingly trying to decide on something before he squared up his shoulders and marched right on over.
"You did good, B," Peter complimented with what I thought might be pride coloring his voice, and it was easy for me to grin back at him and tell him the same.
"Thanks for teaching her," Jasper offered hesitantly, and Peter's gaze shifted to Jasper, something indecipherable swirling in the red of his eyes.
"We cool?" Peter asked, and Jasper looked at him blankly for a moment before responding.
"I don't know, are we? Seems that should be up to you."
Peter smirked a little, clearly amused by Jasper's response. "I think that we both said and did some shit that we wouldn't have if we'd thought it through."
"I owe you a sucker punch," Jasper said, taking the cue from his friend to let the conversation stay light.
Peter rolled his eyes. "Whatever. You needed to be smacked around a little, just to remind you that I can—but I shouldn't have said some of those things, so I think maybe you could get away with two."
"I am sorry," Jasper said after another moment, his voice quiet as a whisper as he shifted his eyes downward.
"I know that," Peter scoffed, and he knocked his fist against Jasper's shoulder. "Wouldn't have come back for you in the first place if I didn't think you'd be able to rise above all that shit. S'over, man. Let's just agree to let it go."
And that seemed to be it, their entire argument was over with those few words, and I wasn't sure who was more amazed by that; me, or Jasper.
Alice broke through the trees at that moment, and her arrival broke Peter and Jasper out of the looks of understanding they were sharing.
"Edward?" Jasper asked, and Alice shook her head.
"He left; he's going back to Carlisle and Esme."
"Of course he did," I said, shaking my head. He hadn't gotten what he wanted, so he'd taken off. It was so typical of him.
"Good," Jasper scowled. "Saves me the trouble of having to beat the shit out of him."
I nudged Jasper in the side half-heartedly; I probably wouldn't have stopped him.
We left Bree and Seth alone in the house, she was calm and having a good time with him, and it would have been almost mean to break that up. Instead Jasper and I sat with Peter out in the yard while Alice went in to introduce herself to the two youngest of our group; we figured that at the very least she wouldn't be very threatening to Bree.
Leah joined us after a little bit, and I listened with rapt attention as she and Peter described their end of the battle to Jasper. It had gone pretty smoothly for them, all things considered. While Alice's notification hadn't come in time for Jasper and I, it had for Peter, so they hadn't been caught completely off guard. The only one who'd had any trouble was Alice, but Peter had speculated that she would if her gift was rendered useless by my shield.
When Emmett and Charlotte got back they were hauling a giant blue cooler by the handle, and Emmett called me and Jasper over before opening it with a flourish to reveal the compartment filled to the brim with beer and ice.
"Party time, Bells. I'm pretty disappointed that you can't partake, but I'll settle for getting the wolves plastered...I guess." Emmett winked as he talked, and Charlotte just shook her head with a fond smile on her face.
"Don't you think this is overkill?" Leah scowled once she'd gotten close enough to see the contents of the massive cooler. "I didn't know vamps could be so brain damaged they don't know how to count to two."
"You are such a frigid bitch," Emmett replied, sounding amazed. "I think you're gonna have to start pre-gaming if I'm going to have to hang out with ya all night."
"Shove it, you moose," Leah retorted, and Emmett's mouth hung open for a moment before he managed to regain his composure.
"Dear Lord, drink this," he pleaded, extracting one of the brown bottles from the cooler and shoving it into her hands, "for all of our sakes."
Leah scowled, but took the drink, and made her way back over to where Peter was sitting; he looked like he was enjoying his brief moment of solitude.
"You puke on me and I'll kill you," he threatened as she twisted off the bottle cap and threw it in Emmett's direction, missing by inches.
"Why the fuck am I here?" she groaned, taking a seat and a long pull from the glass bottle.
"'Cause when it comes down to it there's nowhere better for you," Peter answered honestly, and I tuned out the rest of their conversation; what they were talking about wasn't my business.
When Alice emerged from the house, Seth and Bree on her tail I grabbed one of the chairs on the end of the deck where the latter settled down. Seth was immediately handed a beer, and the moment I sat down Bree grabbed hold of my arm. Her grip was loose, and she seemed relaxed enough, and one shared look with Seth was all it took to convince me that Bree simply wanted to get to enjoy some physical contact. Seth took the lead with the conversation, continuing to tell Bree light hearted stories and anecdotes, and I again found myself hoping he'd stay for a little while.
It was wonderfully relaxing, sitting on the end of the deck and watching my family and friends finally get a chance to just be together and breathe. Charlotte and Emmett chatted by the railing, and I thought that it just might be the best thing I'd seen all day; my sister and brother getting along like they'd been friends forever.
Jasper and Rosalie sat further away from the group, and seemed to be enjoying a companionable silence. Rosalie kept shooting glances in our direction, and I thought the look on her face just might be one of longing; I'd have to ask Jasper about it later. I had no idea what Emmett and Rosalie's plans were for the future, but I wasn't too worried about it. There was nothing on the face of this earth that could tear me away from Emmett again, and even if he went home for now I knew we'd keep in touch, and visits would never be far between.
Jasper had been quiet all night, but he'd also kept the beginnings of a smile on his face, and I thought that maybe I understood what he felt all those times he'd had told me I was worth it. He was, that was for sure, and with a promise to Bree that I would be back later, I made my way over to where he sat with Rosalie just as Emmett left Charlotte to do the same. We pulled two chairs close together and shared a smile that told me all I needed to; Emmett would be staying put.
"Hey," Jasper said lowly as he grabbed the arm of my chair to scoot it over to sit against his.
"You know what I just don't get?" Emmett asked loudly, continuing the rundown of the battle that seemed to be the focus of all our conversations. "Why'd she do it? She had us, but she came anyways."
"It was a suicide run," I whispered, running the tips of my fingers over the lengths of Jasper's, it had been a long night. "All she wanted was to cause as much damage as she could before we took her out."
"Seems kinda obvious when you put it that way," Emmett shrugged, and I agreed with him there.
"What I want to know is what happened to break Rosalie's 'I can sell it' vibe." I hadn't intended on bringing it up tonight, but everyone else was rehashing every little detail, so I might as well throw in my questions as well.
"My performance was flawless," Rosalie answered arrogantly, glaring at me in a way that I was positive was not completely sincere, and it almost seemed playful.
Emmett rolled his eyes, threw his arm around Rosalie and shook his head. "My lady sold that shit, Victoria totally fell for it hook, line, and sinker. She was just a double-crossing bitch is all. We still outsmarted her though, we wouldn't give her any more information than we had to at a time, she had to keep us around that way."
"Oh, please," Rosalie said, glaring at Emmett. "If it weren't for you she never would have caught on."
"What? Nuh-uh, baby." Emmett looked horrified at Rosalie's insistence that he'd been the one to give them away, and I leaned my cheek against Jasper's arm while I giggled, just enjoying the way we'd all fallen right back into how we were before everything had gone wrong.
Charlotte was heading in our direction, and I grinned at her, anxious to get back into the routine we'd had back when she'd first arrived before I realized that her stay could be coming to an end. I didn't want her to leave, and I found myself nearly drowning in worry as she walked behind me, reached down to grab hold of my arm and pull me to my feet, and haul me off in the direction of the tree line.
"What are you going to do now?" Charlotte asked, looping her arm through mine as we walked.
"I guess it depends on how much longer I have before we can travel, Jasper and I want to take a vacation." It seemed we were on the same page; we both wanted to know what was next.
"I see," Charlotte murmured, and I giggled as I elbowed her in the side.
"You should come with us," I offered. I really didn't want to her and Peter to leave, it felt too soon, and I couldn't help but think that maybe they belonged here with us as I sat against one of the trees on the far end of the yard to observe the party, now in full swing.
"Don't you want some time alone with your man?"
"Of course I do, but it's going to be awhile before I get any; Bree's sticking around for now, you should too," I explained.
"Please don't tell me Leah's staying, too," Charlotte whined.
"What is your problem with her?" I asked curiously, unable to hold the question in for one second longer.
"She's just..." Charlotte wrinkled her nose in distaste. "She bugs me. I don't like her."
"I think she has that effect on everybody."
"She should try to be more positive, or at least try to be less of a raging bitch," Charlotte complained, and I patted her leg in consolation; I knew how much that kind of thing bothered her, I still wasn't quite sure how she'd managed to put up with me all those times I'd gotten like that.
"Honestly? I think it's just easier for her to be mean," I said, thinking out loud. "She had a hard time in La Push, almost everybody she cared about was taken away from her...when that happens it's just less painful to hate everyone."
"I know," Charlotte agreed, bowing her head and pulling individual blades of grass up out of the ground, "but she needs to realize that there are some of us who've had it just as bad, or worse."
"Is that what this is about?" I asked, stretching my legs out in front of me as I leaned back on my palms.
"No," Charlotte scowled, pulling up a handful of grass forcefully.
"It's okay if it is," I shrugged. "I'd never want to go through what you did; makes all the crap Jasper and I had to deal with look like a piece of cake."
"It's not that, okay?" Charlotte snapped, taking a deep breath in and letting it out. "It's just...I don't like her."
"She's jealous," Peter informed me as he walked in front of us on his way to the deck with an exasperated shake of his head and roll of his eyes. "Obviously."
Peter only laughed at the glare and growl Charlotte sent in his direction, and continued on his way.
"Really, Charlotte?" I asked, arching a brow at her. "Jealous? Of Leah?"
"I am not jealous." I didn't believe her one single bit.
"Why on earth are you jealous of Leah?" I laughed, mostly because the concept was absurd, but also because it was something Leah just seemed to inspire in people. What was next, would Peter start getting huffy because Leah out-bitched him on a daily basis?
Charlotte huffed and crossed her arms, and turned her head to look out toward the woods. "She's your step-sister; eventually the two of you will get close, Seth will see to that..."
"Oh, Charlotte," I giggled, and I leaned my head against her shoulder. "No one could ever replace you."
"I know that," she grumbled, but she sounded happier than before.
"Nope, still too bitchy," I heard Emmett boom from the deck. "Here, have another one."
"Fuck you!" Leah shouted, much louder than I'd ever heard her talk before, and Charlotte and I leaned into each other and giggled.
"That is either the best or worst idea in the history of ever," I squeaked out through my laughter.
"And I thought Peter was bad," Charlotte snickered, before becoming more serious with her next question, "Did he apologize to Jasper?"
"One of you is going to have to tell me what the hell is going on with that." I huffed a little as I sat up straight and shook my head. I was so far out of the loop on this that I would have been happier not knowing anything had even happened.
Charlotte laughed to herself, and smiled as she said, "I'll tell you the whole story sometime, for now let's just say Peter's got a bit of a vengeful streak in him."
"You do know that doesn't explain anything, right?" I grumbled as I tried to keep from taking my annoyance out on Charlotte.
"Jasper's done a lot of very bad things," Charlotte shrugged, "and more than a couple of them were to me—but he's done some amazing things, too, even before he left Maria. Something Peter taught me was that you can't tally up someone's mistakes against their triumphs and judge them based on which column is longer. Sometimes you just have to remember the good, and Peter forgot that for a bit."
"So just bad memories?" I asked, still not pleased with the cryptic answer but willing to let it go for now.
"I will tell you about it sometime," Charlotte assured me, bumping my shoulder with hers.
We chatted aimlessly for a while, and just enjoyed the simplicity of watching everyone have fun with the party. Jasper was in the same place I'd left him, leaned back in his chair with a small smile on his face, and even though he looked a little tense, I thought that he was probably enjoying the light atmosphere.
Emmett was continuing his mission to get Seth and Leah plastered, and both looked to be well on their way. My laugh was a little louder when Seth stood from his chair and nearly fell over on top of Bree as he wobbled a bit, all the while insisting he could take Emmett down. Leah looked to be even more in the bag, but that wasn't surprising; she was smaller than Seth, and Emmett had practically been pouring beer down her throat.
"Hey Bella," Alice said to my right, sounding a little nervous. "Can I talk to you for a bit?"
I turned my head toward her and nodded, and Charlotte patted my shoulder before standing up and winking, then headed toward the mayhem that was unfolding on the deck.
Alice sighed and took a seat in Charlotte's vacated spot, and she stayed quiet for a few minutes before saying, "Look, you don't have to forgive Carlisle and Esme. You don't have to see them, you don't have to talk to them, but you do need to know that even though they've been sitting on the sidelines, they've done a lot for you in the past few months."
"Like what?" I asked suspiciously, narrowing my eyes at Alice's hunched form.
"Esme's the one who kept Edward away for so long, for starters," she replied, and she turned her head to arch an eyebrow at me in challenge before continuing. "Did you really think he just so happened to be in Alaska this entire time, that it was a lucky break that he didn't go home and catch something about you and Jasper in someone's thoughts? It wasn't, it was all Esme; even I didn't know she could be so resourceful—but she came up with one reason after another for him to stay there. She knew if he found out about the two of you he'd be determined to try and do something about it, and she wanted to give you some time before that happened."
"Carlisle?" I almost didn't want to ask, I already felt terrible for assuming Esme hadn't made any significant efforts to contact me because she didn't care; if Carlisle had done anything half as helpful as she had then I doubted I would ever be able to make up my distance to them.
"He's been running interference with the Volturi," Alice explained.
"Jasper said they weren't a problem..." I muttered, trying to figure out just what in the world had been happening.
"As far as he knows they're not."
"What do they want?" I asked, dreading her answer.
"They claim that they just want to check on you, make sure you held to your agreement—but Carlisle's worried that they want to recruit you, so he's been holding them off as best he can. They're not being aggressive about it, but there's the chance that their motives are not in your best interest, and Carlisle isn't willing to take that chance.
"They know they did a bad thing, Bella, and they know that forgiveness is a long way off...but maybe you could cut them some slack."
"I think I can do that," I agreed, still a little shocked that so much had been going on outside of my little bubble.
"For the record, I'm very sorry for leaving you—but I had a choice to make; I could have done what was best for me or what was best for Jasper, and I picked him. I know that doesn't exonerate me, but you kind of threw us all for a loop. I'd always known what the right decision was, until I met you," Alice said with a smile.
"I would have picked him, too."
We were quiet for a few minutes as I absorbed all Alice had told me, and I was pleased to find that reconciling with her didn't feel like as daunting of a task as it had yesterday; we'd get there, eventually. It was with that thought that I finally stood from my spot across the yard from the party and smiled down at Alice.
"I guess I should join the festivities, I've been sitting out here for almost two hours."
"Have fun," she grinned back. "I'm going to stick around for another day or so, if that's alright with you."
I nodded, happy that she wasn't going to leave right away but also didn't plan to stay for long. It was better this way, we kind of needed to get to know each other again and that wasn't something I thought should be rushed.
Someone had managed to find a deck of cards and a set of poker chips that I hadn't even known we had, and when I climbed the stairs of the deck I was amused to find Peter, Emmett, Leah and Charlotte fully engrossed in a game of Poker. Jasper was sitting off to the side looking both irritated and amused, and when I felt a soft buzz traveling over my skin I figured he was probably messing with the players in retaliation for being left out of the game.
I took the chair next to his, laced my fingers through his and leaned my head against his shoulder as Peter threw down his cards and claimed the pot with a proud smirk. Leah looked to be swaying in her seat a little bit, and I wondered just how much she'd had to drink; it had to have been a lot, especially if Emmett wasn't declaring her to be 'too bitchy' anymore and Charlotte wasn't sending death glares her way.
Jasper seemed a little off, but he had all night. I figured it was probably because he wasn't used to being around so many people anymore, and I squeezed my fingers around his and turned my face to kiss his arm, hoping the silent showing of support would help.
Over to my right Seth and Rosalie were chatting with Bree, and I listened in for long enough to realize they were both telling her funny stories about the various mishaps and exploits The Pack and Emmett had managed to get into; it was so sweet of them to make sure to include her.
"You and Alice have a good talk?" Jasper asked quietly as he leaned his cheek against the top of my head.
"Yeah. I'll tell you all about it later."
"You don't have to, I was just curious," Jasper replied, and he pulled his arm out from between us to rest it over my shoulders and pull me closer.
"You should talk to her, you know. You're completely out of excuses not to," I pointed out, not sure why I was so determined that he have a conversation with his ex-wife. It probably had something to do with that pesky closure thing, but it could have also just been me being stubborn; Jasper had avoided talking to Alice for months, and by now it almost felt like a game we were playing.
"Fine," Jasper laughed, leaning down to catch my lips with his in a soft and lingering kiss, "but once that's done with you and I have some business to attend to. At length. Alone."
A shiver of anticipation ran through me. I pressed forward when he pulled back and nipped at his bottom lip, and it wasn't long before this kiss was something better left for when we were in private—but I couldn't find myself to care. I could see now why Jasper had been so anxious for all this to be done with; it felt so wonderful not to have the blade of a guillotine hanging over our heads. This affection and happiness we shared was finally clean and untainted, and I'd do anything I had to in order to keep it that way.
The fingers of my free hand reached up to run through Jasper's hair, and I pulled back reluctantly when Emmett's catcall sounded through the night. It was mildly embarrassing, but I shrugged it off. I'd spent a long time repressing what I wanted and denying myself things that I hadn't needed to, and that was something I was done with. If I wanted to molest Jasper in front of our family, then that's exactly what I was going to do.
I was convinced the join the poker game for a while once Jasper wandered off to retrieve Alice, but I was terrible and the cards were quickly abandoned once it became obvious that most of the fun of it had been in trying to shake off Jasper's influence and still play well. Peter and Charlotte headed out into the yard, and Emmett joined Rosalie and Seth—neither had strayed far from Bree's side all night.
Leah was drunk. She stood from her chair across from me and flopped right into the one to my right, turned her face toward the glowing horizon, and laughed like a hyena.
"Y'know you're not so bad," she slurred, slumping down a little further in her chair. "I mean, for an undead-bloodsucking-whatever."
"Um...thanks?" I offered, not sure what to make of Leah's inebriated version of kindness, and I barely managed to stifle my laughter when she awkwardly swung her legs up to prop her feet on the table; the whole thing nearly came crashing down.
"Jasper tell you he was gonna help me run away?" she asked as she closed her eyes, clearly about five minutes away from falling asleep.
"Yeah, we had a deal. If I could quit phasing, like, for real, he was gonna hook me up with a fake I.D. and a butt load of cash and send me on my way to...Canada or something," Leah said, finally giving me the last piece of the puzzle that made up her unusual respect for Jasper. It made sense; I could see how trust could develop between them if Jasper had offered her a way to escape from the life she hated so much.
"I couldn't do it, not without Seth—but he still offered, and that was pretty cool of him." Leah yawned before opening her bleary eyes to give me a contradictorily hard look. "I don't like vamps, but Jasper's a stand-up guy. If you hurt him I will hurt you. Don't make him regret all that patience he had to muster up."
"You should drink more often, Leah," I smiled. Even though the threats were cliché and a little ridiculous coming from her, I appreciated that Jasper had someone to make them.
"Mmmkay," she sighed, and she leaned her cheek against the plastic of her deck chair. She was asleep within minutes.
"Has anyone seen Jasper?" I asked quietly after a quick look around. He'd been gone for a while, and Alice had already made her way back alone.
A chorus of soft 'no's sounded out, and I started wandering around, finding his scent quickly. He'd headed into the woods, and as I followed his path through the trees I wondered just what in the world had possessed him to leave our celebration.
I found Jasper a couple miles from the house, sitting in the exact middle of an overgrown and somewhat trampled clearing that looked so familiar. His arms were extended, elbows resting on his legs as he stared off into space, and it wasn't until I bent my knees to sit down that I realized exactly where we were; this was the scene of my first hunt, the place where he'd held me and promised me that it was all going to be okay.
"What's going on?" I asked curiously, furrowing my eyebrows when I noticed just how deep and ragged his breaths were.
"I can't believe it," Jasper murmured with a shake of his head, as if he were talking to himself. "I can't fucking believe it."
"Can't believe what? You're kinda freaking me out a little bit, Jasper." I edged closer to him with my words, and placed my hands on his forearms. "Are you okay?"
Jasper chuckled, then took another deep breath in before grabbing hold of my arms and pulling me against him. He buried his face in the crook of my neck, and after one last inhale said, "It's over, it's really over...and you're still here. I'm just so...I can't believe that after everything I'm actually going to get a happy ending."
"Isn't this what they call a reward? Your Shanshu or whatever?" I laughed, and Jasper pressed his lips to my skin in response as I scooted a little closer to him. "You did real good, Jasper, and you deserve all the best things in the world."
"You know what?" he said, resting his temple against my shoulder. "When you say things like that to me, I actually believe them."
"Let's make a deal," I offered as I threaded my fingers through his hair and tugged so I'd be able to look him in the eye. "All this crap? It's over now, so no more sad and depressed Jasper, okay?"
"Only if there's no more melodramatic and angsty Bella," he countered, pressing his nose to mine, and I couldn't help the chortles that escaped me.
"If I have to give up being melodramatic, you have to stop rearranging the DVDs."
Jasper wrinkled his nose in distaste and added, "Well then you have to stop bitchin' about not being able to fold the towels right."
"Deal," I agreed, sealing it with a kiss. "From now on we're going to be disgustingly happy. Nobody's gonna even be able to stand to be around us."
"I think I can handle that." Jasper leaned in and kissed me again, slower and more deliberate this time, and I wondered if we looked as ridiculous as I imagined we did; we had to be grinning like morons.
I wasn't sure why I'd never thought of it before, contracting my shield—but somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that I'd never been ready to let Jasper in, at least not in this way. I closed my eyes and focused, felt for the bubble around me and pulled, rather than pushed; it felt like trying to suck a marble through a straw.
Jasper pulled back from me, tilting his head curiously as awe shone from his eyes.
"Is it working?" I already knew it was.
"You mean can I feel you? Yeah, I can feel you..." he said, running his palms up my arms and cupping both sides of my face. "When did you learn how to do this?"
"I didn't," I shrugged as I struggled to maintain the compression of my shield.
"You're amazing," Jasper smiled. "Although you kind of look like you're trying to do calculus in your head."
I frowned and let go of the hold I had over my gift, and Jasper started laughing quietly. I reached over to flick his ear; he hated it when I did that.
"I'm sorry, I just wanted to get to feel you be embarrassed again," he sniggered, and after a moment my laughter joined his.
"You're a jerk sometimes," I teased.
"You love it," Jasper retorted, and I bit my lip as I considered just how to respond.
In the end it had to be the truth, with him it always would be. "Yeah, I really do."
And now for the longest A/N in the world, consisting almost entirely of thank yous. I can't possibly quantify any of this...so we're going with alphabetical order here:
Balti K, cloudie day, and TexanFireKat – For helping me with my absolutely horrible Spanish.
JaspersIzzy – For creating the absolutely wonderful TwiWrite, and for not only adding Long Way Down as a featured story, and recommending it on Jaspers Darlins, but also for all the wonderful and encouraging reviews you've left me.
Lacym3 – For betaing the first batch of chapters, and recommending this fic on Jasper's Darlins.
SweeneyAnne – For picking up the beta reins after Lacy had to step down, and for being the most amazing cheerleader I could have ever hoped for. Every single time I was down or suffering from writers block you pulled me out of it, even though I'm sure you don't know just how often that was. Thank you so much for not only caring about my fic but caring about me—it's kind of pathetic how much it means to me. Every JPOV written after you started beta'ing for me was written for you, and not just because you kept asking me for them ;-)
THE Chick Norris – For being crazy and fun, and nominating me for awards I didn't think I deserved. You are an absolutely fantastic pre-reader, and I've had a blast pre-reading for you as well. Thank you so much for picking up all the slack WhitlockWoman left behind when real life stole her away from me, you'll never know just how much it meant to me.
WhitlockWoman – For being there for me from the very beginning. I came into this fandom knowing exactly zero people, and ever since the very first chapter you've kept my spirits up and helped me work all this nonsense out. You may not have been able to pre-read these last few chapters, but you are very much here in spirit. This fic would never have happened without you.
And of course, thank you to everyone who recommended this fic, whether it was to a friend or somewhere out on the vastness of the internet. It meant the world to me.
Last, but certainly not least, thank you to every single person who reviewed, put this story on their alerts list, or added it as a favorite. This was an absolutely amazing experience for me, and you were all a huge part of that. I know I was absolutely horrible at responding to reviews, and I'm so, so sorry for that, but I read every single one of them and they all put a smile on my face.
I feel like I'm missing people...basically if you're reading this I love the hell out of you, that's what it all comes down to.