Ficawesome Gift Echange- TAKE 2

Title: Cirque Magique

Written for: Indie Cullen (TLCullen132)

Written By: Reb (Rebadams7)

Rating: M (Please Be Over 18 for This Tale) If you have to ask perhaps youth is still so much on your side, patience.

A surprise trip to a favorite entertainment troupe along with the photo prompts of a gathering of friends in a New Year's Eve setting, and another of a sharp couple, 1920's style were the muses for this work.

All recognizable characters (Twilight - Stephenie Meyers) belong to their respective creators. I am just borrowing them

Vanessa studied the photograph of her grandparents. It had fallen from the wall the day before and the frame was ruined. She was attempting to get it fixed before her father came back to town. She'd gotten him a surprise for his birthday and she didn't want it ruined by him seeing the damage. She placed it into the new frame and hung it back on the wall. When she'd finished cleaning up the broken bits, she noticed another picture on the floor. It must have been hidden behind the first; it was of a group of people dressed pretty wildly and smiling under a load of confetti. It looked almost like a New Years, but not quite. She was staring at the faces, when her aunt looked over her shoulder. She hadn't heard her come in

"Aunt Rose." She breathed out her name in relief. "Is that You? In this Picture"

"Oh, hey, that's from the day we tried out for the circus with Isabella. Where did you find this?" Her voice dropped to a wistful level. "So long ago."

"Who is Isabella? You guys tried out for the circus?" Vanessa could hardly believe her ears. Her dad had taken her to every circus since she could remember. It was one of those weird happy/sad times with him. Vanessa thought it might have been about her mother. Tanya's family had circus blood in it, as her dad had explained. She had lost herself in thought for a moment, but them remembered her Aunt's question and she drew in a quick breath and continued. "I think it was in the old frame – or maybe behind the picture on the wall..?"

"Grandnana and Papi sure did look like gangsters on their wedding day." Rose continued. "I guess everyone did back then, even if Grandnana had been a vaudeville singer and Papi Firroruchi a Pharmacist. Medicine runs in our family too."

Vanessa was practically jumping out of her own skin with her surprise, so she motioned her aunt over to the kitchen table, to share her good news. As they sat, she related winning the show tickets in a contest at school. Rose looked at her ten-year-old niece and decided she was old enough to learn a little more about her family. She needed to prepare her in case her dad's reaction was not what she expected.

Vanessa had been to a lot of circuses, but never had she gone with her dad to Cirque Magique – someone else in the family had taken her to a few of those shows.

Rose got up and went to the kitchen, opening two old –fashioned bottles of Mexican Coca-Cola. "Vanessa, a little treat. Let's talk for a few minutes. You need to know something about the summer before you were born…"

Vanessa took the bottle seriously. This is big, this rates the fancy Cola.

"That was the year before Edward and his brother Emmett started Medical school. Edward, your dad, is the oldest, by 14 months, but he had taken a year off at the end of university. That summer, they were in Chicago with me, and with Isabella and the Asimov Girls: your mom, Aunt Kate and Aunt Irina. The picture is of all of us, including your Aunt Alice, and a couple of boys, I think Uncle Jasper is somewhere in the shot too. We dressed up and went to open auditions for Cirque Magique." She watched her niece's eyes grow huge as she continued her tale. It would unravel a bit of the mystery of her parents. Isabella? Vanessa pondered.

"Your parents had met several years before, I think. While your Dad was on his break between college and med school…" Maybe they'd met even earlier, she wasn't sure. Some details would have to come from his brother. Rose continued, "Your Dad had another dear friend, Isabella. She was a dance major. She was really nervous about going to the audition, so as a surprise, we all went, since it was open. It was a lot of fun, your family," She paused and made a motion around the faces on the photograph, "made it from the open call in the morning to be invited back for the afternoon session. In the end, your Mom, Aunt Kate, Isabella and your Dad made the cut to go to circus camp. That's where they would learn the routines and be assigned to shows."

"Dad was in the Circus?" That was too much to process, Dad, Doctor Dad – In a circus?

"Yeah, for a while. All I know is he came home, married? with your mother, and started Medical school on time. Your mom stayed with Nana and Grandpa C. I think he liked Isabella, but something happened." Rose stopped, wondering exactly what Vanessa did and did not know. She picked up the glossy, tri-fold tickets and looked at the pictures. A brown haired beauty with red feather wings flowing from her arms to the floor caught her eye. She tapped the image with pinky. "This is Isabella, at least it looks a lot like her."

Vanessa looked at the image of the lady in the red costume, thinking it reminded her of the Phoenix – the title of the show was "Firebird" "Does this mean we can't …he won't go to the show with me?"

"No honey, it means just be prepared."

Edward had ended another long shift. He'd become a specialist in neonatology after helping his parents care for Vanessa. She'd arrived early, after her mother ignored her doctor's advice during her pregnancy and lost her life before ever holding her daughter. Nessie had survived and he'd kept his vow to raise her as his own, going so far as to acquiescing the demands of Tanya's parents and marrying her. It was supposed to be a secret, one that would be annulled after the birth. He'd tried to do the right thing, and it had ended in tragedy. Tanya's parents died rushing to the hospital – hit by a driver asleep at the wheel. His family had rallied around the near orphan. Only his parents knew he did not know who her father really was.

He'd watched the big top being set up on the parade stadium grounds near route 30. He would see it every day until the run ended in a little over a month. He drove on by, wending his way home. He still loved the circus. He still hoped he'd see her, and yet he'd see any other circus, but hers. If he saw her, he had no idea what would happen. He'd tried to contact her, through her father, once. Chief Swan's words still echoed in his ears. "Mr. Cullen, IF I hear tell of you going near her with out her express permission, I will find you and shoot you, in the gut, far from civilization. No one will hear you scream. No one will find you. Am I clear?" Charlie's words buzzed in his head every time he'd passed the tents.

He'd reluctantly let her go. He figured after the truth came out, he'd get another chance. Wishing to undue the last two weeks of his life, that summer; he'd gone home, packed for Johns Hopkins, and thanked his parents for watching over Tanya. He'd been at the airport in Atlanta when the call came. Emmett held down the fort till he'd arrived three days later. He didn't see Nessie again until Thanksgiving.

He let his mind wander to that break year. The five of them had had a wonderful summer. Two weeks of camp, and then, he was a back-up performer with Bella and Tanya in a traveling unit of "Or D' Rockamania" a show set to the music of the 1950's. They toured several American cities, and Edward had thought his biggest struggle would be to keep track of Bella while he was in Medical School. He'd loved the shows, but he'd realized that his heart really was in medicine. He'd planned to explain everything to Bella, to ask if she'd consider their future. That'd became too painful, so he went back to where his love of the circus had been born.

Edward's interest in the circus had opened his eyes to a world beyond science and medicine. Esme had enrolled him and Alice in Circus Juventas in Minnesota, where they had lived for a few years when Carlisle was at the University. Emmett loved football, and Esme wanted everyone to have an activity. Alice had brought home the brochure about the circus school, so Edward went, first to make sure Alice was out of trouble, but then it became his secret passion. Juggling, trapeze work and acrobatics gave him fitness and grace. It gave him an in with the dancers when they had asked for extras for the senior creation projects. It had almost given him Bella.

As he pulled into the driveway, he'd decided to take Nessie to Cirque Magique, and to see if Bella was with this troupe. He'd try to let them meet. Maybe she had a life now, but he had to clear the air, give her the truth. If she knew, then maybe he'd be able to put down the torch. The torch that still burned brightly in his heart. It burned bright and hot in the center of his chest, every time he passed the tents, with their banners flying brightly in the breeze.

That evening he entered the house and was greeted by the wonderful aroma of Mrs. Cope's pot roast. She left early three nights a week and put dinner in the oven on those nights. He entered the kitchen to watch as his daughter set the table. Nessie had her earbuds in her ears and was oblivious to his entrance. He saw the tickets on the kitchen counter as he watched her. He picked one up and tapped her shoulder with it.

"Ness, what's this? What's up?"

Vanessa pulled her earbuds out, classical violin sounding a little tinny on her shoulders. "Oh, Dad, I won those!-for Friday! Be my date?"

One thing Edward had never been able to do, was deny Vanessa anything. Even thought there was no blood relation to either of them, she still reminded him of Bella. "Sure, sweetheart." He sat down at the table, deciding to go to the grounds tomorrow. It was over ten years. If she was here, she deserved to hear the truth. He needed to tell her. Dammit! He had to get it through to her. Hell, he needed to tell both of them what had happened. What, he could tell. The why it all happened? That had gone to the grave with Tanya. If 'bio-dad' was anywhere to be found, maybe he'd talk – but first, we'd have to find him! Snowball in hell has better odds.

He had a stroke of luck the next morning when he was able to push back his early appointments. After rounds, he ventured over to the tent city, and learned that the majority of the performers were at the Hilton, but would arrive on set shortly. He had tapped one of one of the stagehands on the shoulder and found it to be Jakob Preto, the choreographer who had worked with him and Bella ten years ago. It was pretty easy to catch up on several of the cast members. It wasn't long before he asked about Bella.

"Ah, Isabellisimo, my favorite night-wing. She lives and dances for the travel. She hates to be cast in a long-stop show, she prefers the constant moving. She's going crazy a little here, with over a month on site."

Bella never wants to stay put? Never? Edward's mind whirled with the new information. It did not quite fit with the picture he'd held of…of his Bella. Of the girl who still held his heart over ten years. It also explained why it was so hard to catch her, to find her. She had constantly slipped thorough his mind and his fingers over those years. Better yet, Bella is in the show – THIS SHOW.

"Jakob, do you remember Tanya Asimov?"

He nodded as he motioned them over to an empty bench.

Edward then launched into the tale of how he and his family had ended up raising her daughter after her parents had died and her sisters elected to remain with the Cirque at that time. He let them know they had settled out east, opening a dance school, and Katerina was engaged to an engineer, Garret Stone. Irinia had her sights set on an artist, LaRaunt, who didn't seem so settled. They spoke for a few more moments, when Jakob finally asked how he'd come to raise Tanya's child, since he could not be the father.

"Ah, Jakob, the million dollar question?" He continued to explain the crazy series of events that brought him a daughter, and brought him here now.

"Edvarde, I understand my Isabellisimo's flights now. She'd never speak on you; never go alone, always a group. Her puzzle? Not a puzzle. She knows not this truth, but she must. I am a choreographer, and we need a special set, a special dance to fix this."

Jakob threw his great arm around the doctor's shoulder. "I love happy endings. I will do my best." He gave the young man his counsel on what his next steps should be, and advised him to arrive a little early. There was a patron's reception before each performance and he was having them as his guest.

Friday could not come fast enough for any of them.

Bella bounced around her suite. It was really too big for just her, but space was something she might have to contend with. Over thirty, she knew that the constant travel and six plus shows a week, along with her commitment to the younger members of the troupe were beginning to wear her down. The company physician had advised her that performing could continue, just not at quite that level.

Here, in this city, the possibility of just running into him; was a real threat. Charlie had kept tabs on him, even speaking to Esme once or twice each year. She'd just wanted to know he was OK, getting his life. Tanya had died; she'd learned that in passing when the Asimov sisters had filled in on the end of a tour. Other than that, she didn't want to know. He'd been brilliant to watch on stage, brilliant to be with. She was not like the character she'd become in this production. Her flaming, brilliant summer was just that. Her dreams-now her dream was to dance. Her dream of the circus, well, that wasn't her first dream, but she'd accepted that what made a dream special was not that it came true, but that some did not, could not, and the ones you got to hold, even for a moment, made them all the more precious. Dreams die hard. That was the passion that fired her performances.

Once, she'd asked herself, if she'd had enough of her dream, to find a new one, one that had just began to take shape. Then Tanya had burst into her room, thrilled that she had found someone to rescue her from her latest misadventure. Bella'd known that Edward had known Tanya's family from long before they'd found themselves together at camp. His father was a doctor, as was Tanya's. They had familiarity, had history. Bella had met him at the end of his university days, when he'd shown up at an open call to help the dance majors with their creation performances. He'd worked with the fall group, stayed on with her for the winter and spring performances. He'd taken the next year off, traveling and showing up to see her through her senior year – in every show. He'd go, writing her every day and then be back on her doorstep every 10 days to his longest absence of three weeks. His car had broken down, and he'd hitchhiked for 4 days to get home, get another car and then drove to see her. Maybe he'd been seeing her then too. It was an idea she'd played with over and over, over the years.

The night before she left; was a scar on her mind. It ached every time she'd see a couple with red and blond hair in the audience. Edward had left her a message; that he had to see her before his last show. He'd given notice that he would be leaving the troupe and heading to medical school. They'd had a long talk, several about that very facet of his life. He'd wanted to figure something out for them. He'd been anxious and nervous about it the last night they'd been together.

He'd gotten them a room away from the rest of the cast, at a little bit nicer place up the street from quarters. He'd put a large vase of daisies on the dresser, and a bottle of champagne with glasses, along with a lit candle that filled the rest of the open space. There had been a small balcony, and they'd stood, looking out over the city, his lips brushing and nipping at her neck, from her collarbone to her earlobe. Each kiss was a blossom of fire and desire over her skin. Their passion had grown over time, till each knew just where to touch, to caress, to press to send the messages of need, of want of desire that ran from her nipples to her core. She'd been in just a wisp of a silky black robe, the ties coming undone with his caresses from her shoulders, along her breasts and down to her hips. She'd swayed against him, the music of their heartbeats providing the rhythm for their private dance. He'd placed his hands around her waist, in the catch position and turned her to face him. Their kisses went from parted lips on skin to nibbling of lips and deeper caresses. He'd scooped her up, carried her like a bride to that big bed, as big as the one in this room, and laid her down, crawling up her body like a panther, ready to pounce. His grace, his long sinewy muscles pressed into her with surprising restraint. He'd always been a gentle lover, even with her limited experience; she knew his touch was firm not rough or greedy. What she'd known before was obliterated in his hands. His fingers had danced lightly and then firmly over her breasts and legs, teasing and trailing a trail of desire sending her core aching and dripping for him. His fingers on her inner folds and them over her sensitive nub gave way to his filling her in one swift firm stroke. No one had ever made her feel like that. No one had come close to that sense. The memory of that night, the way he had filled her. The way he had found places and sensations that brought her to the edge of oblivion. Even still, the thought of that passion caused her to quake to her core. That passion had sealed their mouths to serious discussions, and the morning had only brought sunlight to caress their bodies. They'd scrambled from the room, chasing the memories and the passion back with them, only to be caught up in the necessary work for the day. An hour later, everything ended. She'd never seen him after his last performance and she'd found a way to leave, at least for a little while, in her mind.

She caught her reflection in the large mirror. She'd done her best to avoid the ravages of travel and time, but the blushing girl was only a memory. It was sad, wise eyes now, and a mouth that had known few kisses from that time. Bella reflected on her few dates, the cast and crew being more family than familiar and no one had ever covered the hole that Tanya's announcement and the ring on her finger had ripped into her chest. Dancing made it bearable. Meeting the children before a performance and seeing their wonder was her one true vice. It always brought her out of a funk and it was the reason she checked her reflection now. In half an hour, she'd enter the reception and that was where her show began. A knock at her door slightly startled her.

Edward glanced over at Vanessa as he parked the car. He knew that his parents had taken her to Cirque Magique when she was little, it had been a show filled with dinosaurs. At 5, that had been her passion. He'd listen to her play the CD and watch her dance around their living room, reminding him of her mother in those moments. In truth, other than her blue eyes and turned up just nose, she did not resemble Tanya or her sisters at all. She must have gotten her face and form from her father. He'd often wondered who that was.

As a doctor, he knew the importance of knowing family history. Hers was only half full, and not much at that. Irina and Kate only had known the basics before losing their parents and they'd had no idea of what family might still be in Russia. Vanessa had no idea of how sick she'd been as an infant. She'd seen the pictures and had heard the stories, but it did not make sense to her. She'd rarely been ill when she was younger, and the worst the past year was a bad cold. That is why he'd glanced over at her again. She'd grown still and quiet as they'd entered the parking lot and pulled near to the entrance.

"Dad, this is the VIP parking. I didn't get that - just the tickets. We're way too early." There was the slightest edge of a whine in her voice and that was another tell that something was off. Edward would have to reassure her without spoiling the surprise.

"I ran into an old friend from the show. He told me to park here and he invited us as his guests to the reception tonight."

"Dad, wow, that's – that's so cool. I've heard – We'll get to meet some of the performers." The anxiety was gone from his daughter's face and he watched her practically bounce out of the car. His only thought - I sure hope so.

The line to enter the VIP tent was short; the red and purple carpet was surprisingly plush under their feet. Jakob met them just inside the entrance and scooped up Vanessa into a hug while he spoke to Edward. "This ess the Peanut, the little one of Tanya. Big enough for the trapeze I think."

"Th-Thank you" sputtered a surprised Vanessa. She smiled widely at the bear of a man. "You must have known my Dad when he was with the circus."

"Yes, little one, and your mother too. She was a beauty and a great artist on the Trapeze. I'll introduce you to some of the cast." He carried her over to the side, to a group of performers in costume with just a nod to Edward. He glanced around the room, following them with his eyes as he grabbed a glass of wine from a nearby table. Who told her I was in the circus? He drank quickly, still startled from his daughter's pronouncement.

Isabella stood in her first costume, mask covering her eyes, and surveyed the tent from the top of the stage right stairs. She could see most of the room without being seen, and it let her make a bit of an entrance. She'd watched them enter, his hair giving him away. She'd searched in vain for those locks at every performance. Just the sight of them had brought the sensation of running her fingers through them back to her fingertips. She closed her eyes for just a second at the memory rush that filled her. Next she watched Jakob lift a girl into his arms. She did not look like him. She did not look like her. She did not look like him at all. She thought she was seeing a little female version of…She closed her eyes again. Had she been wrong, had she left him alone for all the wrong reasons?

Bella drew in a deep breath and went over to meet the children who were clamoring around the Trapeze troupe. She'd get word to see the pair together after the performance. Curtain was in an hour and that had to be her first focus. For now, she'd say hello to Tanya and Jean's? Daughter? That girl was the biggest surprise of the night.

Vanessa found herself surrounded by lithe people in iridescent bodysuits. Some of them were hardly bigger than she was. One of them handed her a glass of punch and another, a girl, asked if she'd ever been on a trapeze. Just as she was about to speak, she felt a hand on her shoulder. A face with a black mask covering the upper half met her gaze as she turned her head toward the touch. Big brown eyes were just visible and a sparkly collar of red and white jewels covered her neck and torso.

"Do you know the story of the Firebird, the Phoenix, little one?'

Forty –five minutes later they were seated – not in the seats that she had won, but almost on top of the stage, three rows back, and on the aisle. Her father just smiled, and she figured it had something to do with the fact her father had seemed to be a known quantity here. She had watched as a few people had gone up to him and said hello. She had found herself watching her father from time to time – as he did the same to her. She'd spoken with the trapeze troupe, the principal dancer, the firebird herself. That was awkward, as if she was being examined, sort of; and then she had introduced her to Jacob, one of the other guests, a relative of someone in the cast. He was seated in front of her right now, and she couldn't help but look at his hair and shoulders from time to time. He was just twelve, twelve today, and this was part of his present. Funny, he'd made her feel like she was part of his present. Boys could be strange, strange indeed. Nessie thought again on her father. It was as if two opposing magnets had been dropped in his and the Firebird's pockets – the way they watched each other, and yet kept a distance between them. She opened her program to the cast page. She didn't have to look far. There was a photograph of her in costume, then a small one of her face, without stage make-up. Something about her expression, it made Nessie think she was looking for something,

She read the Biography.

Firebird – Isabella Swan, USA. Ms Swan received her BFA in Dance from Boston University and has graced the Cirque Magique ever since earning her degree. She has appeared in 8 tours around the word, including lead roles in Rain, Amour, CarnivALE, and Solstice.

Not much to go on there, just that her degree is from the same place as Dad's. She's too young to have known him…right? Jake turning around broke her thoughts and winked at her when he told her show was about to start. A wink? Seriously boys are weird.

Edward sat next to his daughter, his eyes on the stage and his mind anywhere but. Seeing everyone in costume had brought him back in time. He could not help but remember how beautiful she was, how soft. He had seen her for only a moment, Jakob having kept him busy the entire time. He'd noticed her speaking to Nessie, and he'd noticed the dark-haired boy who'd seemed to be in charge of showing Nessie around. It was only after Jakob introduced his grandson, Edward had been able to relax a tiny bit. He found himself remembering the anticipation and energy that flowed to and fro amongst the cast before curtain. Wistfully he sat, wondering what might have happened if he'd ever gotten the chance to explain to Bella what was going on that last week of the show.

The call from his father and Tanya's father, the quick ceremony in a Judge's chamber, just to protect Tanya and her child from immigration. Her stupid insistence on a ring and next, Tanya's shoving that ring into Bella's face.

He still had his grandmother's ring, in the safe at his house. That last night they were together, he'd planned to ask Bella to wear it, to keep them safe while he went to medical school, then they'd figure out what would be next. Sometimes he'd indulge himself with that memory, that last night. If, he'd just been able to resist her for half an hour, if he'd told her what had been going on. If was surely the worst word in his world.

He tried to keep his mind on the show, but every time she appeared, he would see her again in that room, that night. He could almost feel her skin under his fingertips and smell her soft, welcoming scent in the breeze.

Intermission brought little relief. He'd let Nessie go with Jacob to get a treat, they'd come back with cotton candy, giggling, innocent and carefree. Oh god, Nessie's old enough to have her first crush. The realization of what might lie in store for his daughter caused his heart to ache with fresh grief. Is it really better to love and lose? He wondered as he wished with all he had that she would never know his kind of pain. He'd like to wrap her in miles of cotton candy to protect her, and with that thought, the music started and the house lights flashed, signaling the start of the second act.

The first act set up to the story, the second was the drama. The Firebird watched as her love danced with another. Next, acrobats created a human ring of fire and the Firebird leapt into the center, consumed. When the acrobats laid down in their final poses, a grey cloak of feathers was all that was left on the center stage. The applause was thunderous. Next came a troupe of trapeze artists told the story in the air of how the Firebird was missed and mourned, that her love was actually faithful. That love and deception had sent her into the fire.

The next act was jugglers. It was as if the jugglers were imitating life – all the different objects they had in the air, and the love interest of the Firebird wandered in and out of the mix, as the music swelled and the grey carpet of feathers in the center of the stage began to roll, to change over to bright pastels and began to funnel up from the stage floor. In a flash of light and sound, the Firebird rose up out of the funnel, in white and rose tones of feathers and sequins. After catching sight of the Firebird, her love came to back toward the stage via the center aisle and in a brilliant leap; the Firebird was caught right next to him. The pair returned to the stage and danced a moving pas de deux. The finale and cast call was a bright and joyful number, with the final entrance being the Firebird, her partner and a tiny dancer arriving via trapeze.

Edward realized he hadn't been breathing much when he rose to his feet with the other three thousand souls who'd been moved by the spectacle. For the first time, he felt the power of myths to move people. Even after all these years, he'd felt their connection for the seconds that she'd been close to him, in the arms of the other dancer. He glanced over to his daughter, seeing the delight and wonder on her face. Jacob turned around and asked him if she'd like to go backstage, to see them set up for practice tomorrow. He nodded his ascent and he watched them file around to the back as the rest of the audience moved to the rear, to the exits. He sat back down, not wishing to leave.

The music came to an end and the stagehands began to bring in the trapeze nets and rigging. He still did not rise. He was lost in the memory of the few times he had been on the trapeze. Bella was going to use it in a future act, and she had brought him onto the rigging, letting him swing and get a feel for it. She'd been so happy and free then, strong and beautiful and fearless. Her performance tonight had been fierce and passionate, but not quite full of the joy he had remembered, he had expected. Why should he expect it? When had he felt like he had that summer, that time they had together? Not since them. Not ever since they were together.

He slumped a little in his seat, the recognition of his condition depressing him further. He closed his eyes against the bright house lights.

Bella changed into a royal blue wrap dress and flats. She did not go directly to the tent where the after party was being held, she wasn't ready to see him, to see Tanya's daughter again. She entered the main tent via the center doors. She watched the stage for a moment, in a little awe of Jakob's grandson. He'd taken to the trapeze as if born on it, and now he was showing Tanya's girl the basics. She too was at home, fearless and giggling softly as she swayed.

Bella's breath caught in her throat as she spied him sitting in the third row. She walked down and stood beside him without making a sound. She waited, and finally noticed his eyes were closed and his expression was oddly neutral. It was if he was holding himself in for something. Maybe still for someone?

Filled with more fear than her first performance, she laid her hand on his shoulder, and was rewarded with his coming up and covering it, pressing it into his shoulder.

"She's a natural."

His eyes opened and regarded Vanessa, swinging with easy grace. "It's in her blood." It came out as a whisper, a realization dawning on his features.

"She's not your daughter."

"She's my daughter of the heart. I've never said anything, but she's old enough to suspect."

"Do you know?" She whispered the question, willing the sound to remain far from the stage.

"No…Bella, please. May we talk? I've…I've followed Charlie's order. But you're here." Edward stopped and swallowed, looking into her confused, concerned, enormous brown eyes. "Please, please Bella. I'm not strong enough to stay away again."

Bella had no reservations about speaking with Edward. She was shocked to learn of Charlie's pronouncement being so forceful that it had frozen Edward so fully. What has happened to my red headed love? Love? In that moment she realized what the missing had done to her, done to them. She offered her other hand and led him out of the seats, out to a quiet spot beyond the ring of lights around the encampment.

A makeshift bench of boards and buckets had been crafted near a few trees. It was a clear night and the horizon was filled with stars, twinkling in the light breeze. They sat, touching with their arms around each other, as the tale of their last week was finally laid out. How Edward had answered the pleas of the Asimov's and his parents. How he'd told Tanya he'd get her to a safe place, a safe situation and then let her be. She told him how Tanya had boasted of their secret arrangement, and their marriage, painting a very different picture than the truth. How it fit with other little actions. He admitted his mistake in trying to keep it hidden from her. How it broke both their hearts. How she fled, hid.

How he pleaded, searched and was rebuffed. How he threw himself into prepping for school. How Tanya had done too much damage, how she'd planted seeds of doubt.

How neither thought either was good enough for the other. How happy and scared they had been when they recognized whom they saw.

When they came to the end of their words, they sat, in each others arms and watched the night sky.

The silence that surrounded them was like a soft blanket, warming, protective and in that space, they found new words. Bella was committed to finish the tour; about three months remained. Edwards's biggest commitment, aside from Bella and their future, was Vanessa. In three months, she'd be done with 4th grade.

Two of those months resulted in more frequent flyer miles being banked for Edward and Vanessa than ever before. In June, Edward asked Bella for just one thing. He asked on bended knee, on a bench on their old campus.

She said yes.

In August, the big event was Jean Chasseur meeting Vanessa. It might have been awkward and awful, but Jean's wife, Vicky and their twins broke the ice. Alex and Marcus were thrilled with the idea of a big sister. It was decided that maybe, next summer, she'd spend more time with them as they toured.

September 6th Vanessa turned 11. One week later, the family thought they were getting together to celebrate her birthday and Bella's new show. Only the three of them and Alice really understood.

The great tent was set for the show, Amour, and a section of seats were draped with white ribbons. These seats were filling with a few cast members, some of Edward's co-workers and the family. The house lights flashed, dimmed, and on the scrim, to the soft sounds of a violin, a number of family photographs were projected: Edward at 5 with a red baseball bat and a Cubs hat on his head; Bella in a black leotard and pink, Pointe shoes. The last photograph was of Edward and Bella, with their hands on Vanessa's shoulders, Grandma's ring winking from Bella's finger. Esme and Charlie looked at each other, as Vanessa danced across the stage, throwing flower petals as she spun. Charlie just winked and went to stand at the foot of the stage steps.

No one noticed Edward in the center aisle; everyone was watching Bella's dance with Nessie.

Emmett figured out why he was holding a small box for Edward. Sly crossed his mind as he reached over and squeezed his wife's hand.

No one missed Bella's leap from the stage and Edward's perfect catch. He set her down with a kiss, and brought her to Charlie at the foot of the stairs. Alice placed a small crown of flowers on her head and ascended the stairs to stand next to an abstract tower of hearts and flowers. Reverend Webber appeared on the other side of the tower via a stage floor lift, a highly amused look on his face. Edward nudged Emmett and they took their places across from Alice.

Charlie gave his daughter a kiss on the cheek as the violin began the traditional march and it was their turn to cross the stage.

Esme grabbed Carlisle's hand as they and the rest of the assembly heard the traditional words ring out in this most untraditional space.

It was their life. Maybe not a three ring circus, but the Magique was theirs and they had no plans to ignore it ever again.

That night, a twelve-year old boy promised to always catch a certain eleven-year old girl.

The show must go on.


A/N Yep, so there it is, my little literary gift for a fellow author. Please be kind and press the button! Your thoughts mean the world!