Beta:Tayjay- Thank You my friend for making me appear much better than I really am.


AN: Thank you for the patience you have all shown me. I cannot promise faster updates as I'm still dealing with some RL issues but I can and will promise to continue to work on all my current in progress projects until completion... it just may take longer than I expected.


CH.57 Life Goes On

Seth's Pov

Mine and Bella's one month anniversary was fast approaching. One month since Edward Cullen had stormed our land and disrupted our lives and our sense of peace. One month since my father nearly lost his life.

Thirty days.

It felt like an eternity. So much had happened and yet it felt like time stood still.

Dad's release from the clinic had been a relief. Once we were assured he was on the mend, I had gone back to school and begun my patrol shift as well as resuming my work schedule with Sam. None of this was how I thought the first month of marriage would be like. Creeping across the back lawn, I cleared my head of the errant thoughts and let myself in through the back door, easily maneuvering down the stairs to the basement.

As silent as possible, I opened the door and let myself in then closed it just as quietly. I could hear Bella's slow, even breathing from our bedroom. The lights were off, but it didn't matter, I could see perfectly. One look around our small living room and I knew Bella had been up most of the night.

There was a stack of fresh laundry on the table, folded and ready to be put away. I could smell tomorrow night's dinner marinating in the refrigerator and on the counter set a plate of sandwiches, each one with the crust cut off just the way I liked it.

I made my way to the counter, plucked a sandwich from the tray and inhaled it. I hadn't realized how hungry I was until the first bite went down. After the mound of food was depleted, I placed the plate into the sink and walked across the room to the bathroom. I was too tired to shower, but I had half the forest floor on my skin. With a yawn, I turned on the water, stripped my shorts off and stepped under the spray.

Not wasting any time, I quickly scrubbed my skin clean and washed the debris from my hair. I flipped the faucet off and ran a towel through my hair before wrapping it around my waist. I saw that Bella was still asleep, but even in rest I could see the dark circles forming under her eyes. It worried me because I knew she spent most of the nights I patrolled, pacing and worrying.

Edward had brought a new sense of fear into the pack. His intrusion had signaled a real threat and we were all dealing with the dangers that went with it. I knew my wife, along with Emily, Kim and even Leah were afraid each and every time one of us left for patrol.

I sighed as I slipped on a pair of boxers, knowing someone would inevitably wind up on the couch or barge in with the sun. It was one thing for the pack to see your stuff, but it just wasn't cool when you gave your mother a peep show. There had been no privacy since my wedding night. Bella and I had learned to wear something when we slept because too many mornings we'd been awakened by half the pack or the elders in our tiny apartment. With the new threat came the instinct to surround yourself with pack... with family.

Carefully, I climbed into bed and nearly moaned in relief as I lay down for the first time in almost twenty-four hours. Between school, work and patrol, I was exhausted. Everyone was.

As tired as I was, my mind just wouldn't shut down. Thoughts of Cullen watching, listening, smelling us on our wedding night, had my skin blazing. Knowing that he had traveled across the reservation, seeking out every space he could trace my wife's scent to, had kept me awake quite a few nights. Images of his walking corpse leaning over Bella's prone body kept my eyes open and my mind restless.

I took a deep breath to calm myself and pulled Bella's sleeping form tighter against me. We were no closer to finding Edward than the night we discovered he had crossed onto our land. He had seemingly vanished into thin air. Jasper had contacted Billy, only to say he hadn't been able to find the bloodsucker either. He promised to keep looking and would call with another update as soon as he found anything.

I was restless, the pack was anxious and everyone around us seemed to be living in limbo. Even when we weren't on patrol, we were hyper aware of everything. The tension that embodied each of us was palpable. I just wanted it to be over with so we could get on with our normal lives... or as normal as our lives would ever be.

A light tap at the door pulled me from my thoughts and warm bed. Glancing at the clock on the bedside table, I wondered which of my pack mates was knocking on my door at 3:30 in the morning. Climbing out of the bed I'd just managed to fall into, I walked toward the living room. I knew before I opened the door that our guest was Embry.

"Sorry... but uh, can I... can I crash on your couch?'' he asked.

Gesturing for him to come inside, "You good?" I asked, wondering what would bring him here in the middle of the night. Embry was one of the less intrusive of my pack brothers.

"Yeah, Sam took over my patrol so I could get some sleep. Charlie's cruiser is still at my mom's." His cheeks turned pink under his skin.

I couldn't help the chuckle that escaped my mouth. "Sleepover, huh?" I grinned.

"Shut up," he groaned, flopping down on the couch.

Chuckling, I walked over to the small closet in the even smaller hallway and grabbed a pillow and a couple blankets. He wouldn't need the blankets for warmth but I figured the couch would be more comfortable with a little extra padding. "Here," I tossed my offerings to him.

"Thanks," he yawned.

Already walking back toward my bedroom and Bella, I called "Night," over my shoulder and slipped back into bed beside my wife.

Just a couple hours later, I felt Bella wiggle her way from under my arm. Opening my eyes, I watched as she carefully tip-toed out of the room. I grinned knowing she would do her best not to wake Embry just as she had tried to be stealthy in leaving my side. I also knew, like me, Embry would already be awake. Our senses were on alert. The slightest movement or change brought us out of the deepest of sleeps.

Even after all this time, my super-natural hearing still amazed me. I heard the refrigerator door open and close. Minutes later I detected the sound of eggs cracking against the edge of the counter. Yawning, I pulled myself from bed and stumbled toward the kitchen. Bella was standing at the counter pulling bacon from a package. She was touching everything gently in hopes to keep the wrapper from making noise. I stood watching, smiling knowing she was doing her best to keep from waking Em and I up. Looking toward the couch, Em shook his head and threw his legs to the side, standing.

"Morning, Baby," I whispered, moving behind her and wrapping my arms around her waist.

Harry's Pov

I could smell the bacon wafting up the stairs, through the door and settling right under my nose.

"Sue..." I admit my voice sounded like a child's whine.

"NO!" My beautiful wife barked without looking at me.

I looked down into my bowl of oatmeal and groaned. I may as well have been on a prison diet of bread and water. Begrudgingly, I took a bite and forced myself to swallow the bland mush. The basement door opened and my traitor son walked through with Embry following behind him, the scent of fried pork clinging to their clothes. My glare wiped the smiles from their faces and I admit to feeling satisfaction in the small feat. The front door opened and closed behind them as they took off for school. I quickly finished my 'breakfast' and hightailed it out of the house, thankful that my family had relented on the house arrest they had had me on since my release from the clinic.

I strolled down the road, smiling at the Christmas decorations that were popping up all over the reservation. Our people weren't wealthy, but we celebrated with pride. I came to a stop at Billy's little red house and laughed seeing Charlie's police cruiser sitting in the drive. I'd bet money that old Charlie had had a sleepover and that's how Embry ended up downstairs.

I barely made it up the stairs and to the door before it opened, revealing both Billy and Charlie. "Late for work, Chief?"

Charlie's face flushed pink, "Took the day off." he mumbled.

Billy's snicker caused Charlie's blush to deepen and made sense of Embry's appearance at the house this morning. "Where are you two knuckleheads going?" I asked, hoping they would take pity on me and get me off the reservation and away from Sue's watchful eyes for the day.

"We're going shopping," Billy laughed. "The Chief here has a lady to buy for this year."

Billy and I laughed at Charlie's expense. "Shut up and get in the damn car," Charlie groused, wheeling Billy down the ramp and towards his cruiser.

We headed off the res, and turned onto the 101. I sat in the backseat feeling like a criminal while Billy kept trying to turn on the sirens to run the red and blue lights. Memories flashed through my mind of the countless times the three of us and Quil the fourth had made this same drive. Thankfully, the Chief of Police had never been in the driver's seat.

Billy's cell phone rang and I heard him mumble under his breath, "Hello..."

I couldn't hear exactly what was being said, but I knew the gruff scolding coming from the other end of the phone could only be from Old Quil. Billy nodded and 'uh huh-ed' until finally hanging up.

Sighing, he turned to Charlie, "Turn around."

"Why?"

"Old Quil. He's at Harry's and the old fart is ranting and raving about how we left him with the women."

Charlie pulled off to the side of the road, shook his head and made a U-turn. "Pretty sure that's illegal, Chief," I snickered, feeling like a teenager again.

Catching the glare Charlie directed at me in the rearview mirror, I couldn't help but laugh. I'd been cooped up in the house for what felt like forever and I was thrilled to get out. I didn't even care that it was to go shopping.

Luckily we hadn't driven very far when Old Quil's call came in. We traveled back the way we had come and in a few short miles were pulling up in front of my house. "Damn," I groaned, seeing Old Quil's smirk as he stood next to my scowling wife.

She practically hurled herself over the porch railing and stomped over to the car. The door wrenched open before I had a chance to take a breath, "Harry!"

I must have looked like a chastised kid. "Why didn't you tell me where you were going?" my lovely wife demanded.

Trying to think of something to say that wouldn't further upset my Sue, I stumbled on my words, "Honey, I was just going out with Charlie and Billy." I smiled at her, hoping she'd settle down when she realized I was doing none of the 'forbidden' activities, I'd been banned from.

"Where are you planning to go?"

I didn't like the third degree, but I knew Sue had been scared when I'd fallen ill and was just trying to protect me. With that in mind, I grabbed her hand and squeezed it. "Sue, honey, we're just going shopping. I promise that if I feel tired, I will stop and rest."

Her eyebrow quirked, "Shopping?"

I chuckled, "The Chief has a girlfriend this year."

Ignoring Charlie's excessive throat clearing and Billy's laughter, I stared up at Sue waiting for her to either continue with her interrogation or concede so I could make an escape. Old Quil stepped forward, "Sue, I'm going with them, I'll keep em out of trouble," he smirked at me before leveling my wife with a serious look.

"See that you do," she told him with her own fierce look. Old Quil walked around to the left side of the cruiser and got in beside me as I watched Sue retreat back into the house.

"Let's go, before she changes her mind and invites herself along," Old Quil barked from beside me.

Charlie backed out of the driveway and sped down the main road. His mustache was twitching and I just knew he and Billy were about to give me shit.

"So..." Billy drawled out, looking at me from the front seat. "When's the wife gonna give you back your balls?"

"Shut up," I hissed, turning to look out the window.

Before either Billy or Charlie could continue with the shit talking I was sure would be taking place, Old Quil's ancient voice thundered. "What the hell were you boys thinking? Leaving me alone with the women while they're elbow deep in lights and twinkling shit."

"What are you whining about, Bella should be baking about now." Charlie countered the old fool's gripe.

"No! Firecracker is baking some kinda sugarless shit." Old Quil sneered and turned his glare onto me. "Your heart attack ruined my Christmas cookies."

Was the old man serious? He was pissed because my heart attack put a damper on his sugary treats from MY daughter-in-law? I shifted in my seat and fixed him with a glare, opening my mouth to yell but was cut off by the two idiots in the front seat laughing like hyenas.

"What the hell do you think is so funny? You two won't be getting anything with sugar either." Old Quil shouted, crossing his arms over his chest, effectively shutting up the wild animals in the front seat.

With thoughts of foiled Christmas baking, Billy shifted gears and started in on the Chief again. Watching Charlie blush and stutter was amusing and even the old goat sitting next to me was having a hard time keeping a straight face.

"I hear that Victoria's has some nice things," Billy goaded.

"Victoria? Who the hell is Victoria?" Charlie blustered. I had a wife, a daughter and a horny son, I knew exactly who Victoria was.

From the corner of my eye, I could see Old Quil shaking his head. "How the hell do you not know about Vickie's?" he demanded. "Dear Spirits... what the hell do you do when you sleep over at Mel's, bore the poor woman to death with tall tales of crime fighting in Forks?"

Charlie hit the dashboard with his fist, "Why in the hell did I agree to take you all along?"

"Because you don't have the cajones to ask one of the girls for help," Billy offered, smiling widely as he dared Charlie to disagree.

"I need some damn coffee to deal with you three," he grumbled and hastily did another illegal U-turn and pulled into the diner's parking lot. Throwing the cruiser into park, he got out, slammed his car door and walked to the back to retrieve Billy's wheelchair.

Charlie remained silent as he helped Billy into the chair. "Behave," he barked at us as if we were naughty school boys. Walking through the door, Charlie was greeted with several 'Morning, Chief' shouts from around the diner. Billy, Old Quil and I got our share of greetings as well. Forks was just a stone's throw from La Push and the locals were used to seeing us all together. As soon as we were seated and Billy was settled in his chair at the open end of the table, the waitress Shelby, who we all knew from our many visits to the diner, delivered a carafe of coffee and gave us our menus. I was damn near giddy with all the possibilities

Charlie's face maintained a nice pink flush as we waited to have our orders taken. Old Quil and Billy were throwing smirks his way and I was biting the inside of my cheek to keep from cracking up. The man had a married daughter for crying out loud.

When Shelby came back to take our orders, I bounced in my seat with excitement. "I'll have 'The Hungry Man's Platter with extra bacon." I told her, already feeling my mouth water.

She smiled, "Harry, Sugar, I can give you the oatmeal or the fruit platter."

"What?" I asked, completely befuddled.

"You wife called and said she thought you might be in," she began explaining with pity. "She told me that under no circumstances were you to be served anything fried."

If I hadn't felt such immense disappointment, I might have allowed the humiliation of my wife dictating my breakfast choices to settle in. Gaining my bearings, I fixed Shelby with my best smile, "I won't tell Sue if you don't."

Shelby smiled softly and for a second I thought I'd won, then her smile was replaced by mischief. "Harry Clearwater, I've known your wife since I was a teenager... that woman will know the second pork crosses your lips. No way!" she blasted me, walking away and muttering under her breath about witchy Quileute women.

I wanted to cry.

Raising my head to look at my friends for support, all I found was the twitching of Charlie's porn stache as he tried to keep his laughter at bay. Billy and Old Quil, assholes that they are, didn't even try and were openly and loudly guffawing at my misfortune.

The ringing of Charlie's cell phone prevented me from scolding my so called friends...my family.

Charlie looked at the screen, his face instantly going serious as he held it to his ear and answered with a curt 'Chief Swan'. Noticing the stoic face he maintained while he listened to whatever was being said, set me on edge. Glancing at both Billy and Old Quil, I knew they too were on alert.

"I'm on my way," he ended the call and looked at us. The vein on his temple was dancing and his eyes were ablaze with worry and anger. " A body has been found out on Old 110," he whispered. "I've got to go to the station. I don't have time to drive you back to the res, we'll have to call someone to come pick you up when we get there." he informed us, each of us already moving to get out of the booth and on our way.

The drive to the Forks Police Station was silent. Luckily the station had a handicap ramp so getting Billy through the doors was easy; we followed Charlie into the building. Charlie directed us to his office while he spoke to his deputies in another part of the station. Billy, Old Quil and I looked from one another, each with the same worry in our eyes.

Forks had never been a town where violence occurred. Sure, the occasional bar fight took place but nothing more than that. This was not expected and yet I think each of us had been waiting, knowing that something like this was just a matter of time. We were dealing with vampires, after all.

Charlie stepped back into his office, closing the door behind him, his face grim. "I'm headed out to the crime scene. Deputy Thomas will take you out to the reservation. Let one of the boys know where I'm going. Have them come check it out but make sure they know to stay out of sight. I won't be able to explain away a supernatural wolf or a Quileute teenager poking about.

Billy nodded and pulled his cell phone out. "I'll call Sam." Speaking as quietly as he could, he let Sam know what was going on. Hanging up and pocketing his phone, he looked at Charlie, "Paul is on his way. He'll follow you out to the scene and stay hidden in the trees on the side of the highway until everyone is clear then he'll check things out from our side."

Charlie's Pov

I waited until Billy, Harry and Old Quil left with Deputy Thomas before climbing into my cruiser. It was about a half hour drive to the crime scene and my mind was whirling with questions. I didn't want to jump to conclusions, but admittedly it was hard not to knowing what I now knew about vampires and werewolves.

I had to remind myself that Forks was popular among outdoorsman; finding a body wasn't unheard of. Occasionally, an over-confident hiker would stray from the trails and run into trouble. I already knew I was dealing with a deceased person so, at this point, I could only hope it had been a case of someone getting lost and not surviving. The alternative had too many implications, all of them terrifying.

Pulling up to the scene, I could see the area had already been taped off and Deputy Lange was walking around the marked grounds. Taking a deep breath, I shut the engine off and unfastened my seatbelt then opened the car door and stepped out with a silent prayer on my lips.

With just a glimmpse at the scene before me, I immediately realized the sight would live with me for the rest of my days.

"Chief... Chief...CHARLIE!"

It wasn't until I heard my name yelled and the scorching heat of the hand on my shoulder that I came out of the trance I'd been in. I had no idea how much time had passed. I turned to see Paul looking at me with the same horror in his eyes that I knew were in mine.

"I've already called Sam. Everyone is waiting for us at the Clearwater's," he told me.

Nodding, I walked to my cruiser and got in. Paul got into the passenger seat. We just sat there, neither of us speaking and I made no attempt to start the car. I didn't have to ask what kind of monster had caused the destruction, I had known that answer the second my eyes had landed on the destruction.

It took twenty minutes for my hands to stop shaking enough to start the car. The silence between Paul and I lasted until we crossed over the border into La Push. "Chief..." I knew by the sound of his voice that whatever he was about to say was serious. "I don't think you stay in Forks until this is all over." He said it with finality, like the decision was already made.

I turned to look at him briefly before turning my eyes back to the road ahead of me. I wasn't sure what to say. Moving wasn't something I'd thought about before, but after today...

Paul didn't say anything more and I didn't offer anything. Hell, I didn't know what to say to any of what had happened. I pulled into Harry's drive and shut the cruiser's motor off. Climbing out of the car, I felt the world... the new world I'd been introduced to...land heavily on my shoulders.

Sam met us at the door, his face grim at seeing both mine and Paul's expression. Once we were inside, I walked to the kitchen, pulling the bottle of bourbon I knew to be in the cabinet. I poured myself a glass and took a drink; The burn was welcomed. Refilling my glass, I turned and walked back to the living room where I knew everyone was waiting.

I looked at the faces around me, "Where's Bella?"

"She was in class in Port Angeles with Leah. As soon as we got the call from Paul, Seth and Embry headed up to get her. They should be here any minute," Billy told me. It was only seconds later that I heard cars pull up and stop.

Watching Bella walk through the door, the strangled feeling left me and I felt myself breathe normally for the first time since the first call this morning. At least I knew my daughter was safe; well, as safe as any of us could be in this situation.

I knew this was the beginning of the nightmare we'd been dreading. Seth pulled Bella with him toward the couch and everyone else found a place to get comfortable, knowing we'd be here for a while. Based on how tight his arms wrapped around her as he settled her into his lap, I knew she was holding on by a thread, just like the rest of us. She looked at me and her voice shook as she spoke, "Ok, Dad, tell us what you found."


My friend and writer Jaime Sommers (Dragonfly76) has an amazing original fiction in progress. You can find 'Nobody's Angel' on Trickyraven.

Taken from summary:

Cash is a lonesome soul, traveling back and forth between the place he calls home and Boulder Flats, living the gypsy existence of a ranch hand. Things are cut and dry in his world. The wife he hates, the job he loves and nothing in between.

Until she came along.