Chapter 74 - I'll be home for Christmas

Disclaimer: the characters and all recognisable situations belong to Stephenie Meyer - this is a work of fan fiction, except for the legends and histories of the Quileute that, of course, belong to them. I pay my respects to their gods.

Thanks to BanSidhe [ruadh sidhe] and Feebes86 for betaing and pre-reading.

La Push pulled together as a community led by its new and energetic leader, Jake. They had won the battle but they couldn't tell anyone about it. They couldn't celebrate their heroes and pay the respect to their lost that they deserved. They wanted to tell the world what they did, so instead, they made up more songs and stories.

The tribal legends had new stories of sacrifice to add to the legend of the third wife - even a story about the cold one who loved a human girl of the tribe. And the tale of the new, old pack and the added story of how women fought by the side of the men to save the tribe. And how they had help from their friends, human and vampire.

What the tribe really appreciated now was the luxury of time. Time to spend with loved ones and family.

By the time of the first battle anniversary, La Push had a baby boom. The tribe was rejuvenated; its numbers swelled. And with the hard won peace came an intent to improve the rez; to make it the best place for those children to grow up in and a people determined to be the best for that next generation.

So by the next Christmas, most of the babies had made an appearance. Bella was due any day.

Joy had twins. Niki laughed that at least they didn't have to call one of them Quil. That honor went to Ellen Uley. Candie had a girl and they called her Esme.

Angela was huge with twins as well. She had joked that with twins in both families, she was doomed.

The new families all needed new, bigger houses and some of the empty ones were renovated and new places were built. The tribe economy improved as people had things to do.

Angela had redesigned the tourist website. She sued people who had stolen their designs and traditional tribal artwork, with the help of the Cullens' legal contact Mr J. Jenks, and she had reclaimed the rights to use them from others who had never paid their proper value initially. Handmade things were popular and the Quileute made sure the items they made were good quality and not mass produced.

They became collector's items. Paintings and carvings sold in art galleries in Seattle through friends of Josh's. Smaller items were sold on Etsy where the tribe could control the market and Angela could run the website.

Increased tourism meant more work for everyone; bed and breakfasts, and cabin rentals increased, people ate at cafes and restaurants and hired boats for fishing trips or whale watching and hired other guides to walk them through the forest. They bought fuel at Jake's garage.

Embry and Quil ran a whale watching boat. He had a prosthetic foot made and walked with an odd gait on land, but he swam like a seal in the water. Most people assumed he had lost the foot in a diving accident. Little William had his father's beaked nose and Embry was the perfect step-father having been a fatherless child himself.

Leah allowed herself to be happy. After the birth of William, it was as if her body decided it knew what to do and she had trouble free pregnancies after that. The boy who had never had a family, made his own. Josh was ecstatic to be grandpa for them all. And Charlie adored them, too and took them fishing when they were old enough. He and Sue had their own babies. Sue said she could never have done it except for the fact that she was a werewolf and could live on less sleep.

The La Push family trees got very confused with some uncles being younger than their nephews and grandchildren and so on.

Bella never quite got over the weirdness of being Embry and Sam's stepmother and they reminded her of it whenever they wanted to tease.

She looked at the three men sometimes and wondered why no one had ever guessed Josh was Embry's father. They had assumed so, but it looked so obvious to her now. With Josh's decreased aging, the three looked more like brothers.

Leah did a college degree in her spare time.

Josh still did some modeling. He told them he had gone away to put some weight on. They believed him. He got jobs in the industry for some of the others, too. On the rez, he used his shaman powers to run spiritual retreats; healing clinics for mind and body. People were so over stimulated and stressed in the modern world that they had to be taught how to relax and switch off.

"Why can't we tell everyone the stories?" Angela asked Bella one night.

"How do you mean?"

"Stories." Angela looked so animated. "We have to tell the story."

"How are we going to do that?"

Bella and Angela wrote a book about a high school girl who fell in love with a vampire. They got rejected by a dozen publishers before a younger woman at an agency fell in love with it. She argued with her boss for the right to publish it.

They called it 'Dusk' after the color of Jake's skin and the time that they all lined up for the battle.

Rose cried when she read it, for in the book they gave Edward the happy ending he wanted so desperately in real life. "You really made him immortal," Rose told them with tears of venom on her face.

At the bookstore in Port Angeles, they stood, holding hands and staring at the cover. Seeing the real physical books on the shelf was a dream realized.

They squeed and bounced in place.

"The cover is so different," Angela said.

"Simple and strikingly beautiful," Bella agreed.

It started to sell. It went from a few sales to hitting the tops of the charts. It then went on to be incredibly popular.

"Edward would be mortified by all this attention," Angela laughed.

Josh just laughed at Bella when she asked him if she could write him into it, too. "I'm too old to be a romantic hero," he told her.

"You're my romantic hero," she assured him. "Even if it isn't you in the book."

Everyone loved the virgin vampire heartthrob. Except for a die hard minority who wanted the love-struck girl to choose the hunky wolf boy. Websites were set up for each faction. People declared that they were team wolf, or team vampire. A few wanted the girl to choose herself and they declared that they were team Switzerland after a line in the book. There were endless debates on tumblr, twitter and websites about who was the better choice for her.

They wrote a sequel and then another. They sold in their millions. They gave all the money to the tribe.

The books generated the perfect cover for La Push and the tribe. People asked about the Quileute tribe and the wolf shape-shifters and they were laughed at and told that it was just a story from a book. Tourism soared. The tribe was put on the map.

They used their new fanbase to push to get the law changed. The fans of the book series helped to bring their request to the attention of the highest levels of government. The Bill was passed granting them more land because of the increased population and the cloud of publicity. Some of the new land was at a higher elevation and the tribe started to spend some of their hoarded money on moving all their major art works, and the tribal and medical centers to higher ground.

They told people, when they asked why they were spending money on this, that their tribe has been on this land for thousands of years, maybe nine thousand years and that one of their origin stories is about a great flood. They survived it back then by taking to their canoes and they believed another may come again. They told as many people as will listen that a great wave may happen again.

When the tsunami came, their shaman knew exactly when it will strike and no one was lost. There was some property damage, but by a 'lucky' coincidence every tribal member was on a boat and out at sea when the wave went past.

Bella thought it was the most terrifying thing she has ever seen. The wave that had lifted the boats so gently, almost crashed into the mountain tops when it hit the shore. As the wave formed, the water had been sucked out to sea for miles a good twenty minutes before the wave hit the land. If they were not already out to sea, they would never have been able to get to their boats.

The tribe was eerily quiet. It was one thing to place belief in a shaman once and he proved that he was right, but twice and he became something else entirely. He became a prophet.

The Cullens arrived in Volterra to a universal reaction of disbelief. There were a few vampires left who were not part of the guard and the human staff. It was a bloodless takeover, nobody was brave enough to fight them, not when the bite marks on Jasper's skin were terrifying enough, Alice knew what they would do and Jasper knew what they felt and Emmett just looked as if he wanted to kill something.

Then Emmett sealed the deal by holding up all the necklaces of the Volturi guard as proof. He'd bought them from Leah.

They explained the vegetarian diet to the staff who had been waiting, eager to be turned. Most of them confessed that actually murdering people was an issue for them.

Carlisle was endlessly patient and told vampires that the same rules that the Volturi had insisted on would still apply. Secrecy of the existence of vampires. Hunts must be inconspicuous, with victims unlikely to be missed; their remains must be disposed of and territory must be changed often. Immortal children are not to be created. Hunting was forbidden in Volterra, Newborn vampires must be trained before they can be released on their own. By letting a newborn hunt wildly, the penalty would be death, both to the newborn and its creator.

They invited the Denali clan to join them, and they accepted eagerly. They had been in one location for too long, themselves.

With Edward gone, they needed a mind reader, but Eleazar felt sure one would show up somewhere and they could offer to protect and train them.

Carlisle took the hoarded bank accounts of the Volturi to spend on medical research. With his new laboratory, and his work with the blood of the Quileute, he invented a synthetic blood that would sustain vampires so that they would no longer need to feed on people.

Now, with no need to feed from humans, they talked about coming out, as it were.

The Cullens ushered in a new era for vampires.

They still celebrated St. Marcus' day for without his intervention at the battle, Aro might have prevailed.

Carlisle went back to Washington after about six months. He suggested that they do a skin graft for Emily's face. He had noticed when Niki was healing the gash on his body that cutting away the damaged skin allowed new skin to grow back. He argued that if the tribe had had access to a better plastic surgeon back when the accident happened, that Emily's face would not have been so badly scarred.

Emily said it didn't matter to her, but both Leah and Sam knew that it really did.

Leah, being Emily's second cousin was an almost perfect blood match.

"You know who to come to for a kidney," Leah quipped.

"You can't grow those back," Emily said, "And if this works, I will owe you for the rest of my life."

"No, Emily, I owe you a new face."

"You really don't… aren't we over this now?"

"Okay - that is enough of that," Carlisle chided before he put them both under sedation. He cut a piece of skin from under Leah's arm; on the inside where the sun exposure was less obvious and it felt as soft as Emily's cheek. With his vampire eyesight and his incrediblly fine motor control, he didn't need the microsurgery lens. The tools, yes; they needed to be microthin.

The surgery went well. Leah woke first and Embry was there when she opened her eyes.

"Water," she croaked.

"You are an amazing person," he told her.

"You hear that, Will?" she asked the bump.

"He already knows."

"Thanks, Em."

They watched her arm heal itself. No coverings in case they got caught up in the process. Just wound spray. She drank more water. "Lucky Dr Fang didn't take it from my butt cheek."

Embry smiled. "Sam would be kissing your ass for the rest of his life."

"He should, anyway."

"How is Will?"

"Busy today." She placed Embry's hand on her stomach to feel. "You reckon he'll talk much?"

"Jake never shut up as a kid."

"Shit! I'd forgotten that."

"But he's more serious now."

"Yeah - he looks more like Billy every day."

"I know about girls," Paul argued.

"Yeah? Well I know about baby girls," Quil replied. "I was imprinted on one for years."

The baby girl in question lay on her back chewing her hand and studying them both with her large dark eyes. She pulled her fist out to beam a broad smile past their shoulders.

Niki reached between Quil and Paul and picked her up. The smile was for him. He shouldered the men out of the way. "Hello, my baby girl," he crooned to her.

She burbled happily at him.

"Fuck off, you two. Go home and play with your own babies."

"Ellen's got them," said Quil.

Niki glanced at Paul.

"Rachel went to some baby shower thing with an old uni friend."

"Where's your sister?" he asked the baby.

"Mom fell asleep feeding her," Quil said.

"Twins are hard work," Paul commented.

"Funny, a lot of the Forties had twins," Quil said.

"It's an age thing," Niki said. "Plus there are twins all through some of the family trees. Especially the Blacks." He nodded at Paul. "Your next one will probably be two. Rachel's a twin."

"Shit. I had better go home and sleep now. Save it up for later."

"Mommy! Look at ME!"

"Wow, honey. That's great. You are so clever."

The small child walked along the top of the fallen cedar tree like it was a balance beam. She made it look easy. The tree had been floating in the sea and then had been deposited onto the gravel beach of La Push. It was slippery, wet and moss-covered.

"Come down, now, honey."

"Okay." But she slipped. She windmilled her arms for a second with a look of panic on her face and then fell backwards away from her mother.

Her mother shouted her name, but could do nothing.

The man was suddenly there - dashing in with supernatural speed to catch the child before she hit the ground.

"Daddy!" she cried.

"Josh?" Bella called over the tree. "I can't see through the damn tree!"

"I've got her." He leapt up onto the trunk and down again to land next to her mother. The child squealed in delight.

He kissed her mother first.

"Our hero," she told him.

Then he chucked the baby that she carried on her hip under the chin and patted her rounded stomach.

"Do you think this one will be a boy?" he asked.

"I don't know… maybe. The odds are not in our favor with two girls already. You don't care, do you?"

"No. I love my girls." He kissed her. "All my girls."

She looked oddly serious. "Do you remember the dream I had when we first met?"

"Bits. You were standing on a beach." He took the baby from her.

"I was standing on this beach. You told me that things would change; that I was standing on a border between things and that I was searching for myself."

"You remember all that?"

"Meeting you was a high point of my life, of course I remember."

He grinned at her.

"You said I was lost and that I missed family," she added. "And I dreamed of wolves."

"Was any of that wrong?"

She looked at him very seriously. "No. Not a single thing."

Alice and Jasper came for holidays when Alice wanted a break from her visions. She had decided it wasn't so bad to be blacked out occasionally.

Carlisle often requested samples for his study of the genes and biology of supernaturals.

Blood… it all came down to blood.

Josh knew the cost had been high, but for a thousand years of peace? It was worth it. With the new stories and the books, the Quileute would be ready the next time their gods called upon them to fight the cold ones.

The end.

Author's note:

A long time ago I wrote a one shot. Christmas 2011. It got disqualified from the competition I wrote it for because it didn't have a member of the wolf pack in it. But, like a lot of my one shots, it itched at me to extend it. I started thinking about Stephenie Meyer's obsession with youth. I wondered why the wolves needed to be so young when Sam was nineteen and not in puberty when he changed.

I asked each reviewer some questions and a few of them answered me in great detail. If I have forgotten anyone, I apologize. Slcottin, Moondancer 1179, Kkcnelson2002, BJArthur, and Taoistelf all contributed ideas and discussion points. Plus my betas, ban sidhe [ruadh sidhe] and Feebes86. We brainstormed for hours. I thought it would be a funny crack-fic with an older pack running around, all rejuvenated and rascally. I am not sure when it got as serious as it did. There had to be an enemy for them to have so many wolves and the Volturi made the most sense. Bella had broken her promise to be a vampire. In BD they came to punish; they'd do it here.

I have madly tried to fix everything and probably messed it all up. I have never even read a Volturi story, but my basically, original character has been well liked… I think we are all a little in love with Josh and I really like an older, wiser Bella.

It seems appropriate that it be finished at Christmas, too. I know what Josh would say – circles.

Thanks for reading and reviewing to those who bothered to do so. Reviews are the only thanks us poor writers get, you know. Even if it is just a smiley face, I'm happy to get it. Fanfic, rightly or wrongly, is judged by the number of reviews a story has. And I do love reading your comments and replying.

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I am so proud that this story has more than 3k reviews for such an unusual pairing.

That's down to you guys, so thank you all.

Keep reading, and I'll keep writing.