"What do you leave to your child when you're dead?
Only whatever you put in it's head
Things that you're mother and father had said
Which were left to them too
Careful what you say
Children will listen
Careful you do it too
Children will see
And learn, oh guide them that step away
Children will glisten
Tample with what is true
And children will turn
If just to be free
Careful before you say
"Listen to me""
~Children Will Listen, Into the Woods
At five years old, Marcus Anthony Scarpinato was an exact, albeit miniature, replica of the father he never knew.
How he inherited Alec's attitude without being raised by the man Edward didn't quite understand, but it was what it was.
"How goes it, Marky boy," Edward teased, picking him up from Heidi's house for an afternoon.
Marcus scowled at him. "How many times do I gotta tell ya, Unc? It's Tony now."
Edward tried not to snicker and failed. Why Tony? According to the little boy, Marcus was just not as bad ass as Tony.
His exact words.
"You got a new car," Tony observed.
"Your powers of observation are stunning, kid."
"Obs... obs...obs... What. Ever." He rolled his eyes and climbed in the back. "Why is this car so lame?"
Alec's little boy asked so many questions. Last time, he'd given Edward a headache with an endless string of, "But, why..."
Bella had laughed at him and told him he'd better get used to it.
"Hey. My car is not lame," Edward grumbled. "It's a good car."
"It's a lame car," Tony argued. "Not even Mommy has a car like this."
"Well, if you'd rather not be out in a car like this, I could always take you home," Edward said, rolling his eyes.
For a minute, Tony seemed to contemplate it. "Nah. I'll live. I just hope no one from my school sees us."
At that, Edward had to laugh.
When they exited the theater a few hours later, Tony was uncharacteristically silent. The lightsaber he'd been swinging around enthusiastically throughout the whole movie - they'd gone to see The Empire Strikes Back in 3D - hung limply from the hand Edward wasn't holding.
"What's on your mind, kid?" Edward asked, bumping his side gently as they walked toward the food court.
Tony shrugged. "I was jus' thinkin' about Daddy."
Edward's heart twisted, and he stooped, picking up the tiny Alec and setting him on a bench so he could look at him face to face. "Tell me about it," he said simply.
For once, Tony dropped the tough guy act, squirming and looking every bit the little boy he was. "In the next one, Luke saves his daddy even though he's all evil, huh?"
"Yes," Edward said carefully, not sure where this was going.
Again Tony shrugged, looking sad. "I was thinkin' if Daddy was alive, maybe I could have saved him from being evil."
"Look at me, kid," Edward requested softly. The little boy looked up. "Who told you your Daddy was evil?"
He screwed up his face. "Grammy."
Edward sighed, trying to keep the anger from his expression. Heidi's parents could always be depended on.
"I found a jacket that used to be Daddy's, an' I was using it like a blanket," Tony went on. "And Grammy took it away. She said it was better if I didn't even think about him because he was bad and evil and Mommy was stupid for ever being with him."
"Marcus... Tony. I want you to listen to me, okay?" He waited until Tony nodded, biting his lip. "You did save your daddy, because you are the very best part of him. You are all the good things he was and none of the bad."
"Sometimes, Mommy says I drive her crazy, just like Daddy used to," Tony hedged.
Edward chuckled lightly. "See, but that's why your Mommy loved your Daddy."
Tony made a face. "Adults are weird." He paused. "Does Bella drive you crazy?"
Laughing again, Edward pulled the boy off the bench and set him on the ground again. "Yes. Bella drives me absolutely insane."
"And thas why you love her?" Tony verified.
"Among other things. Yes," Edward said with a smile.
They walked on and had almost arrived at the food court when Tony spoke again. "Hey, Unc?"
"Mommy said you're going to have a little boy soon."
Edward felt a proud smile spread across his face before he could help it. "Yes. That's right. Very soon."
"But, you're still gonna wanna hang out with me, 'cause I'm the coolest, right?" Tony said, trying to sound brave, but Edward could hear the hint of worry in his tone.
"Of course," Edward said, infusing his tone with complete seriousness. "Who else do you think is gonna show him the ropes, huh?"
"Thas right!" Tony exclaimed, brandishing his lightsaber with a bright grin. "I'll be the bestest big brother ever. You'll see." He paused. "He can be my brother, right?"
"Sure," Edward said easily, the idea warming him.
"Mommy said I might have brothers and sisters soon, but I think I'll like your baby more."
"Why is that?" Edward asked softly.
Tony hesitated. "'Cause if I has to have a 'nother Daddy, I think I like you better than Afton. Also," he continued without letting Edward comment, "I think you should name him Anthony, 'cept we'll call him something else than Tony, 'cause there can only be one little bad ass, and that's me!"
"I'll have to talk to Bella," Edward said softly, ruffling the boy's hair. "Hey, kid. Do you know what your name would be if you were a droid?"
Bella was going over a few concept sketches when she heard the key in the door. Automatically, she smiled, always more comfortable when Edward was home.
"Bella?" he called as soon as he opened the door.
"I'm in the kitchen!" she called back.
A minute later, her husband of two years appeared in the doorway, his smile widening when he saw her.
Even five years later, the sight of him still made her heart gallop in her chest.
"Ouch!" she yelped, her hand going to the apex of her, as of late, very swollen belly. She winced, breathing in and out.
"What's wrong?" Edward asked, dropping to his knees beside her.
"It's nothing. Your son is happy you're home," Bella said, unclenching her teeth as their baby did a happy dance on her internal organs.
Grinning at her, Edward pushed her shirt up so he could rest the side of his face against her skin. "Hey, in there," he admonished lightly. "Don't be so hard on your mother!"
Smiling, Bella ran her hands through his hair. Her grin faltered slightly when her fingers ran across the ridge of the scar hidden there.
How little it would have taken for none of this to happen.
She breathed lightly, willing the heaviness away.
Once, what seemed like a long time ago, she'd made a promise to herself that she would not live in the fantasy actors were capable of creating. Despite all that, with Edward, she'd known the fairy tale of a love that transcended logic.
Of course, they'd also survived the nightmare of a life that was a little too raw and real for her tastes.
It had been a little over five years since that night in the theater where Edward had lost his best friend and she had almost lost him. Since then, they'd found a balance. There was magic in their life, in the way they loved each other, but there were also the trials of every day. They paid bills, dealt with the issues that came and went, and supported each other no matter what.
Edward kissed her belly once and stood, sitting in the chair next to hers. "Marcus... Tony," he rolled his eyes fondly, "said we should name him Anthony," he said conversationally.
"You already vetoed Anthony," she pointed out.
"I just thought it was cute."
Bella chuckled. "Well... Tony is always the charmer."
"He said he wanted our baby to be his brother," Edward said quietly.
Reaching out, Bella took his hand. "Well, that's fitting."
Her husband looked up at her, his eyes sad. "That doesn't scare you?"
"Why would it?" She squeezed his fingers, having a feeling she knew where his thoughts were going. "He's a good boy, Edward. And you've been such a positive role model in his life." She smiled gently. "It's always been nice, watching you with him. I can't wait to see you with our little boy."
He lifted his free hand, placing it on her belly and breathing in heavily. "Heidi's parents told him again how bad his father was."
Bella grimaced. "Well, Charlie isn't like them, you know that. And Renee doesn't know about your past." She disentangled her fingers from his so she could cup his cheek. "I love you, Edward. You're going to be a wonderful father."
His lips quirked, and he sighed. "I hope so."
"I know so," she countered.
"It's strange. I haven't had any contact with that life - unless you count Tony, and I don't - for five years. But I'm always waiting for it to come back and bite me," he admitted, his voice soft.
Again, Bella made a face. Knowing there was no point in keeping it from him, she silently slid the envelope they'd received in the mail toward him.
Furrowing his eyebrows, Edward picked it up. He frowned when he saw who it was from. "I don't want to read this, do I?" he murmured.
"It's just a courtesy letter. Felix is eligible for parole this year," she said slowly. When his face twisted in fury, she continued. "It's not a big deal, Edward. He probably won't get it."
"But what if he does?"
"He doesn't know where we live. He doesn't know where Heidi lives. It's not an issue," she said firmly.
"But it could be," he argued.
Bella opened her mouth but couldn't dispute that.
Jane and Felix had both blamed Edward and Bella for their predicament - had sworn revenge when they were being led away in court.
Of course, Jane and Felix had always been dramatic bastards.
"We'll deal with it if he gets parole, which he likely will not," she reiterated.
He growled, getting to his feet and running his hands through his hair in agitation. "I hate this. I hate that I can't get away from it, get you and the baby away from who I was."
Bella shook her head, using the table to support herself as she got to her feet. Crossing to him, she took his hands out of his hair and brought them back down. "No one's life is perfect," she said lightly. "And if this is our challenge, well... It's better than a lot of things."
He wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her as close as her distended stomach would allow. "As far as lives go, this life is better than anything I could imagine."
"See?" she said, smiling as she kissed him. "Don't regret who you were, Edward. It made you who you are. And I love you. How could that be a bad thing?"
Rather than answer right away, he kissed her again, letting his tongue glide along hers before he pulled back slightly. "I love you, and I don't deserve you at all. But...as long as I have you, I'm not letting you go."
"Well, that's settled then." She kissed him once more, a quick smack on the mouth, and unwound herself from his arms. "Now, come on. I have to drop these sketches off with Esme."
"These are gorgeous, Bella. Wonderful, as usual." Esme looked up from the sketches that Bella had brought.
When she'd graduated three years before, Esme had hired Bella to work with the theater in marketing. Whenever they did shows, as they were gearing up to begin work on Into the Woods, Bella was in charge of getting the word out around town. She worked with a few other businesses, but the theater and the troupe were her favorite clients.
Putting the sketches down, Esme glanced at Bella quirking an eyebrow expectantly.
Bella rolled her eyes but smiled as she nodded, and Esme gleefully put her hands on her belly. "How's my grandson?"
Both Edward and Bella laughed at that. Since Rosalie and Emmett were constantly touring with Rosalie's group, and Alice and Jasper showed no interest in reproducing, Esme had informed Edward and Bella in no uncertain terms that she was adopting their child as her own. Their little boy could expect to be spoiled rotten in true indulgent grandparent style, and that was the end of it.
"I think he knows he's on stage," Bella said wryly. "He's dancing. You feel?"
"Yes," Esme said, grinning widely. "Well, good. Since you two ditched me, I'll have fresh meat soon enough."
"Jeez," Edward groaned, shaking his head. "You make it sound so devious."
Chuckling, Esme looked up at Bella. "Well, I know better than to ask you. With such dramatic parents, I have no doubt this child would make his entrance right on the stage. But Edward," she turned to him. "You know, it's not too late to audition. I have room for you."
Edward smiled at his friend and old director. "I told you, Esme. I'm done. Officially retired. Besides, you already got me and my team building the sets. What do you need me on stage for?"
"You were good, kid," she said with a sigh. "Really good. You too, Bella. I miss having you both in my production." She tilted her head, studying Edward carefully. "I always thought you had a passion for acting."
"I did," Edward said, smiling as he remembered. "But that's the thing." He stepped to Bella's side, wrapping his arm around her. "I used to do this because I needed an escape from being me. Now? I'm exactly who I want to be."
A/N: Huge thank you to my girls for getting me through yet another story. You know I love you.;
Huge thanks to all of you for sticking with me and for your lovely reviews. I'm so sorry I got bad at replying. I hope you know I love you all, sincerely.
This story is being replaced in my update schedule with a Jasper/Emmett slash story... However, I do have two E/B WIPS. Tomorrow is Another Day is set in the post Civil War era. Do The Right Thing has a FBI Daddyward.
I will be, in the near future, beginning a fic modeled after The Counte of Monte Cristo (sp?). This will also be E/B.
Goodbye for now, and thank you again. Mwah.