I didn't expect to be writing another outtake chapter so quickly, and certainly not one to add to the last, but some of you asked for more, and some of you questioned how Esme could possibly do this—and how Carlisle could possibly be okay with it. Then, there were readers who had assumed from the epilogue and the first outtake that Esme was a surrogate with Jasper's baby.

To be honest, when I wrote the epi and the first outtake that was the scenario in my mind, but no, there was never confirmation of that fact. Never did it say that Esme was a surrogate; it only said she was pregnant and that Jazz and Ed would be fathers to the baby—who we learnt was Mia.

Why did I change my mind? I have no answer for that. It was purely the inspiration that struck at the time. Had I not had some crazy-arsed idea pop into my head that Esme fell pregnant and didn't want to be a mother, then there would have been NO chapter at all. I didn't set out to write an Early Bird outtake for the sake of writing an outtake. To me this story is done and dusted, but as I've said, if I get inspired—and for whatever reason these two DO inspire me—then I'll revisit them. I do love fan fiction for that. And that's the joy of writing: you can take arcs wherever your imagination takes you.

The plus here: those who are still reading get another chapter with a bit more information.

Don't expect a chapter from Carlisle. It would be hard for him, I have no doubt, but people make decisions for various reasons every day. People make decisions that they can live with because something else is more important to them. We already know that the relationship between the four adults is on wonderful terms when the baby is born. I have no doubt Ed and Jazz will do everything in their power to keep it that way. In the 'real' world a scenario like this could lead to any number of horrible outcomes; it could also be totally fine—I'm leaning that way.

(Yeah, yeah, I'm wordy - what's new.)

Enjoy!


Early Bird - Outtake 3 - A Gift to Give: Part 2

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Edward

I never tire of the man next to me holding my hand, being so close that he pulls me into his orbit every time he's near me. I can't resist, so I lean over and kiss him chastely on the cheek, silently promising him so many things for later when we're alone.

I'm pulled from my euphoric state by Esme's next words.

"Guys, I'm pregnant."

She's what! A baby? That's fantastic—I think.

I feel Jazz's excitement in the way he grips my hand tighter, and it draws me along on the wave. Of course, he's excited. That's what you're supposed to feel when someone makes an announcement like this—unless you know better.

I'm processing what it all means when she continues.

"Ed, Jazz, please listen." She looks again to Carlisle, and the expression on his face…

Now that I think about it, she's been jumpy all night. This isn't a normal pregnancy announcement, because unless there has been a dramatic turn-around, Esme does not—has never—wanted to be a mother.

Jazz doesn't understand what's going on here, because he begins, "Esme, that's fan—"

Carlisle quickly stops him. "Guys"—I hear the pain, and the resignation—"please listen to what Esme has to say."

The tension is thick, hovering like a blanket over the table and between us.

"This—" She stops as quickly as she starts, picking up her water and taking a mouthful, then lets a out a huge exhale. "This," she starts again, "is both the hardest and the easiest thing I have ever asked." Asked? She looks directly at me now. "I've never wanted to be a mother. Ed, you know that. Carlisle"—she looks to him, and he draws her hand to his lips, kissing it softly—"has always known that. For whatever reason he has accepted that in me. I can't explain, I can't give reasons; it's just who I am."

I look to Jazz; his face is a blank mask, and even I am struggling to read him.

"Two weeks ago, when I realized I was pregnant, I also realized I had three choices. I'd hoped that it would be easy, that it wouldn't even be a choice. I hoped that I would fall madly in love with this child and need it to be mine." Her eyes are glistening with tears, and I realize this is but one lot of many she has cried in recent days. Again she looks to Carlisle. "I am so sorry."

He mouths, "I love you."

She steadies herself: another sip of water and continues. "Motherhood isn't on the cards for me, Ed, Jazz, but my second option"—her eyes close and her head sways from side-to-side—"is not something I could ever do either. I could never end this life." She rubs her stomach. "Which leaves one thing. Putting this baby up for adoption once he, or she, is born."

Okay. That makes sense.

Jasper speaks again. "Esme, Carlisle… I…" He pauses—searching. "Someone will love and cherish your baby, and be grateful every day for your generosity."

He means every word of that. I know how much he wants to be a father, how much he wants "us" to be fathers one day, and how he hopes it won't be a difficult road to travel.

"Jasper, I believe there is a couple out there who will love this baby, who will cherish it and where it came from." Her eyes flit between us, settling on me, and I immediately know where she is heading with this. "Ed, you are my cousin, my brother, my best friend. I love you so much." She reaches across the table to take my hand. "I have never seen you like you are now… like how you are with Jasper." She looks to him and smiles. "You guys are perfect together," she tells him. "I thank you every day for being in his life."

We are. I too look to the love of my life, confirming my feelings as soon as I see his handsome face. I want this and I hope he will want this as well, but it won't be easy—or maybe it will be easier because of Esme and Carlisle's existence in our life. When he glances from her to me, his eyes shine with his love, but he is still confused.

"Jazz, Ed has always wanted to be a father." His name draws his attention back to her, but his grip is still tight on my hand, and I keep my eyes locked on him. "If that is something you want as well… If that is something you are ready for. Then we would like for you and Edward to adopt this baby, to raise him, or her, as your own."

For once Jazz is lost for words. His grip has loosened on my hand. His eyes flick between Esme and Carlisle. Questioning… confirming… Then he looks to me.

Our eyes are locked, his expression boring into mine, when Carlisle speaks, "Please don't say yes or no now," he doesn't look away. "Go home, talk, think, plan. Make a decision not because you feel pressured to do so, but because you're ready to do so. Just know this. If you say no, that's okay," we both look to them now. Esme's eyes are still glistening and so are Carlisle's, "this baby will be loved, we will make sure of it. But we both know you would be sensational fathers, who would love this child more than anyone else could. And it would be your child in every way. We would never overstep our bounds; that is our promise to you. We'll just be there loving our niece or nephew, maybe even spoiling them a bit, and being happy if you are happy. That's all we want."

Esme and I just stare at each other, a silent acceptance passing between us that gives me a real sense of hope for our future.

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Thanks for reading.

Disclaimer: My only claim is to this plot.