Rekindled Ashes

Epilogue: Changes

Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight, sadly, otherwise I would have a nice log cabin in the woods where I would be a complete recluse and write until my heart was content. Instead, I have a full time job! So, that being said, the characters all belong to Stephenie Meyer, but the story came from my twisted little mind. Rated M.

I will follow you, you will be my main direction
I study you until I will get your
Everything you do is a gem in my collection
I follow you until I will get your perfection

Perfection by Oh Land

Five years had passed since Bella's change, and there had been more developments in those five years than she could have ever imagined. The first was the fact that she was married, and living a fairy tale life with the man she loved beyond anything she'd have ever imagined. Sure, she knew it sounded cheesy put in those terms, but she couldn't help the elation she felt any time she was near him. It was like every experience with him was a new one, even when her unfathomable mind reminded her of every other moment they'd spent together.

Little Stacey was of course no longer little at eleven, but she was happy. Kelly had put together some classes for all the kids under eighteen. It hadn't really been a popular idea, but the moment they realized it wasn't actual school more than it was a training session for the things they'd eventually need to know. The town was pretty much full from the people they'd brought in, so more homes were being built and the small town was expanding, so more kids began turning up with families that had, thankfully, shared the immunity.

Kelly had met her husband, Mark, on a raid almost four years ago. She'd been ecstatically happy, and all of the Cullens were happy for her. When she'd fallen pregnant, everyone had been excited. A new life, a new future, hope.

That had lasted only three months. When the baby should have been kicking in her belly, Kelly felt nothing. Carlisle had done everything he could to help her, but it was useless. The child had contracted the disease in her mother's womb. The humans may have survived, but they were still carriers. Hope all but plummeted. How was the world going to be repopulated, when they were all carriers?

Oddly, it was Paul that gave the answer to the question. Accidentally, of course. He'd knocked Sophie up. No one had high expectations, but, against all odds, she carried to full term with a healthy baby boy who was born scowling and looking like his father.

The answer to humanity was shifter blood. They were immune to the disease, and that immunity spread to their children. Carlisle speculated that in generations they would inevitably breed out the disease from the human side of the children, just as in time, the shifting gene would disappear.

To say the wolves started getting lucky more often would be to put it mildly. They became quite popular among the single ladies and the married would ask for donations, which was something Bella would rather have not thought about. In all honesty, whether or not it worked out, Bella enjoyed the idea of having a hopeful future, and the wolves sure as hell hadn't been complaining.

The Volturi had ended up calling on Bella only once during the five years. Alice had seen it in the middle of a Christmas party. One of Bella's favorite things to do was run with Jasper to cities that they hadn't visited yet and looting some of the stores that had been untouched over years of nothingness. Seven years had passed since the disease hit, and finding new things to bring to the girls had become a sport for them.

Of course, Bella, Jasper and Emmett had missed the present opening due to flying to Italy, but it had been worth it. The Volturi had been living from animals, and had opened their city to humans, using the technology the Cullens had to keep them comfortable. They'd been threatened by a score of hungry rogues, and Bella had managed to protect the humans and the Volturi while they eradicated the problem.

Having Jane's ability to torture still made her shudder when she thought about it, but they had managed to end the battle and make it home before New Years. With no hindrance from Aro, although he did make her an offer she had to refuse.

Life had been peaceful since then. There were still rogues threatening human lives, and the Cullen's still flew out to protect them, which was exactly what they were planning on doing as she ruminated. Even with the cavernous mind she had, she still found her thoughts taking over. So when Jasper's arms circled her waist and his lips found her neck, she almost jumped.

"What are you thinking about?"

She leaned back against him and turned her head so her cheek was resting against his chest. "Everything, and nothing."

"You ready to head out?"

"I am. Stacey asked if she could go with us. She's been learning about South America from the encyclopedias in Carlisle's study. She wants to see them it herself."

Jasper looked out to the yard where Stacey was stood with Fwend. Her favorite thing to do in her spare time was train him, though I wasn't sure how much more the dog could learn. One of the survivors they'd picked up from Rio a couple of months prior had brought their team of dogs with them, and the female and Fwend had hit it off. So much so she was due to have puppies in mere weeks.

"She asked Emmett to build one of those jumping pools for her. She wants to teach Fwend how to jump now."

"Doesn't surprise me. I think another reason she wants to go is so she can rescue any stray animals. I've tried telling her most would be wild by now, but she's not having any of it. She's convinced if she can get them young enough she can train them. She also wants a horse so she can train it to plough the fields."

"She's just like you. Idealistic and full of ingenuity."

"I'm going to take that as a compliment."

"Good, because it was meant as one." He laughed, kissing her neck again. "Sophie's bringing Mackenzie over, so we're not going to have Rosalie with us."

"I think we'll be fine."

"And Stacey?"

Bella thought about her options. As much as she hated to put her ward in danger, she knew that she'd be protected as long as she kept her under the shield. Stacey knew the rules. She's been on a couple other raids with them before now.

"She can come, but I want Alice to look for her decisions when she can. If she plans on wandering off I'll have to make the shield solid. She hates it but it gets the point across."

Jasper snorted against her neck and breathed her in with a hum. She knew what was coming next.

"And Javier?"


"Bella." He laughed gently, his arms tightening around her waist. "You know she's going to ask why, and you know he will too."

"And the answer will be the same as always. I'm Stacey's guardian, Jasper. Javier has his mom to think about."

"You know, she's going to figure it out sooner or later."

"I would much prefer later. She's eleven. An eleven year old doesn't need to know that a thirteen-year-old boy has a crush on her. She has another ten years before she should be thinking about things like that."

"A little excessive, don't you think?"

Bella knew it was, but it was nice to think that maybe she had the influence to make it happen. To her, Stacey was still her baby, the last thing she wanted was to see her grow up and fall in love. The world was still on its ass and she had so much to experience.

Bella's life had been cut short. She didn't regret a day of her life as a vampire, but there were things that she knew she'd missed out on, human things, things she could never get back. On a good day, they stayed things. On bad days they were experiences, and moments. Jasper never judged her on these days. Instead, he would sweep her into his arms so she'd forget the things she'd missed. He was a distraction she welcomed.

. . .

Jasper hugged Bella tighter. He knew when her mind wandered, he understood those moments when the realization hit. It had taken him almost three decades to let it sink in. Every new experience brought on another situation that he would have to deal with. Like the fact he would never be a father. Sure, Stacey was as much his ward as she was Bella's and he loved her. She was smart, alert, sweet, and everything he would never have thought to hope for in a daughter, but she wasn't theirs. It didn't make him love her any less, just pine for the child they would never have together.

He knew the girls bringing their babies around was hard on Bella sometimes. Rosalie cherished it, but like Jasper, she'd had so much time to deal with the repercussions of her change, and embraced the moments while she could. This was all still so fresh to Bella. In fact, five years ago it would have even been possibility. She never complained, she didn't have to, he knew her too well. He could see the longing in her eyes when Sophie showed up unexpected.

He believed her aversion to Javier was her flexing her control as a parent, something in her life as a guardian she could control. It was as close as she could get. Stacey, he believed, thought of Bella as her mother. Their story had been deeply interwoven from the moment they met and it never changed, not for Stacey. Bella would always be Bella to her. She would be the woman that had risked everything to keep her safe, and not just the last time. The scars Bella had bore before her change told a story of their past and just how much Bella had risked. Stacey may have been young, but she would always remember it.

It was because of this, Bella kept herself busy. She went on every raid with them, and not just because her shield was the ultimate defensive weapon. More over that it was her need to help. It was her self-appointed mission to keep her original species alive and thriving. Whether they had wolf blood in them or not was irrelevant, even she seemed to realize it would give them a defense against vampires for a couple of generations.

At first they'd questioned whether to bring them all to Forks, or set them up with their own systems in their own towns. So they could not only help themselves, but others. They'd be working under the assumption that building a growing city would attract more danger, but it soon came apparent that the smaller communities, without the protection of vampires, was far more lucrative for rogue vampires. Alice had seen them all slaughtered in a vision. Of course they'd still headed that way in hopes of being faster, but it was useless. They'd lost a dozen humans, and since then, Bella was determined never to waste a life again.

There was never any question whether Bella had lost her compassion in the transition. From the moment her eyes had opened with the initial red staring back at him, she'd been nothing but the woman he'd known her to be as a human. Over their five years together, he found himself falling deeper in love with her. She was a part of him he hadn't known he was missing. Had he known life could have been blissful, he would have looked for her long before he found her, but that was the thing with fate. You meet the person you're supposed to be with when it's necessary, when everything slides into place.

He still felt guilty at times over how things had come together. How Bella's choice had been taken from her from the one person on the planet he openly hated. It was a constant reminder of Maria, and he'd figured out it was exactly why she'd done it that way, why she hadn't killed Bella. She knew one of them was going to kill her after she'd leapt to the porch. So she made sure she would live on in his thoughts with a gift he hadn't wanted. Not at that point anyway.

No matter what happened in his life, he couldn't help but feeling happiness tinged with guilt, because he knew he would have Bella for an eternity. With her by his side, he felt as though he could face anything, and maybe he could.

He watched Stacey as she lifted her head as though realizing they were watching her. With a quick hug around Fwend's neck, she darted toward them, obviously reading their body language enough to understand she'd been permitted a pass to go with them.

"Took you long enough to decide." She laughed, her arms wrapping as far around the two of them as she could. It never ceased to amaze Jasper just how warm and loving the child was. It sometimes reminded him of Bella when he'd first met her. Stacey just didn't have the armor around her that Bella had always held close. She was an open book, and even without the ability to read emotions, Jasper would have known what the girl was feeling.

"Well, we had to talk it out." Bella teased, chucking her under the chin before wrapping her up in her arms. "Anyway, how could I resist? You made a great case."

"I've been reading about litigation." Stacey smiled.

"Why? There's no judicial system, and I doubt there will be for a while."

"It's more to learn how to go about a dispute with a rational and sound argument. I've come to realize that when I'm passionate about something, I have the tendency to let my emotions do the talking and then it turns in to an argument."

Bella groaned, and Jasper knew exactly why. This was a new argument. One that Stacy hadn't dropped, and Bella had made the mistake of telling her they could talk rationally about it when she could act like an adult. She'd felt terrible afterward, ruminating about how she sounded like her father. Stacey had brought this up on more than one occasion and it mortified Bella.

"Not now, munchkin." She sighed, cupping the girl's cheeks. "You have your whole life ahead of you. You have so much to experience. You know how I feel about this."

"As you know how I feel about it." Stacey replied calmly. "I think I have a compromise you can't refuse."

"I wouldn't be so sure." Bella mumbled only loud enough for Jasper to pick up.

"I wait until I'm twenty five. I have a child beforehand so I have experienced that. I know you think I will change my mind by then, but I am willing to wait fourteen years to prove to you that I am ready, and that I am sticking beside my decision. I want to be a vampire. I know all the risks and I know that I will experience bloodlust like any normal newborn. But you're my family, I know it scares you, but I want to be there with you while the world rebuilds."

"So you're saying you're going to drop this for fourteen years and we'll revisit when you're twenty five?"

Stacey nodded and Bella sighed.

"Nothing set in stone just talk?"

Stacey nodded again.

Bella finally relented and agreed to talk about it again after Stacey's twenty-fifth birthday. Jasper knew why she was relenting. He knew why an inkling of her was even considering it. As a vampire you were immortal to an extent. While they stayed the same, the people around them grew up and changed. They had children and grew old, and eventually, they died. For Bella, the thought of losing Stacey hurt too much, and though she would rather the child stay human there was a small part of her that wanted to keep Stacey with them forever.

It was the most human part of her that let the thought enter her mind. And he loved her for it.

"Come on. We should go." Bella sighed, leading Stacey toward the plane with her arm around her waist.

Jasper watched them before looking back at the small town they'd made their home. He could see the new development going on, he could hear the hammering and smell the animals they'd been breeding to feed from. It reminded him of when he was young, before he was a vampire. The world had been so simple, and it was similar to the way it was now. Just because they didn't have technology, it didn't mean they were doomed to fail. Humans had ingenuity and were resourceful. If they'd done it once, they would do it again. This may have been a hiccup in the humans timeline, but they would get past it. Maybe for the first time in history vampires would be a part of that without being mythological. Wouldn't that be something?

Authors Note: *sigh* I'm really kind of sad this is over and I'm still not completely sure about the epilogue... C'est la vie! Too late now I guess lol!

I want to thank each and every one of you for your support and encouragement throughout this! I still maintain that I have the best readers on Fanfiction! You guys are so thoughtful and kind and over the course of posting I feel like I've got to know some of you! I think that's one of the things I love the most about fanfiction, all the connections you make along the way! Thank you for everything guys, as promised there is a teaser after this for the next story, which I will hopefully post next week. It's Bella and Edward, but with a bit of a twist ;) You know how I like my drama lol!

Again, thank you so much guys! I love ya! MWAH!

Hev99 and Sabi'sSookie... You girls are amazing and there are no words for how much I love the two of you!



The Blood of One. The Sins of Many.

Laid on my back on the bed, I stared upright watching the ceiling fan spinning above me; its movement transfixed me. I was unable to tear my eyes away from it as it turned consistently. It maintained its speed and never changed, I wished my life were more like that, constant and steadfast.

The light of the morning was beginning to cast shadows across the room, it was only then that I realized I was sober. It brought me a rare moment of lucidity, and it wasn't something I'd wanted. I knew this state well. It was the moment that I asked how I'd got here, how my life had gone so wrong. It inevitably brought up the name that I never mentioned. Ever.

I wiped the sheen of sweat from my forehead with the back of my hand. If I hadn't been craving my next fix as it was, the hint of his name made that feeling explode into desire. I couldn't let myself remember, because the moment I opened up those floodgates, it would all come back. Every disaster, ever pain, all of it. I just wasn't strong enough to go through that. I didn't think I ever would be.

I rolled to my side and faced the guy I'd met last night, who was currently blocking the path to my next fix. He was still passed out, naked, and was snoring lightly under his breath. When I glanced at him, I realized exactly why I'd picked him. There was always something that resembled him. I don't think there was I guy I had been with that didn't have one feature that bore some similarity to the person I still couldn't forget. This guy had a mop of auburn hair.

That was another thing I couldn't deal with this morning. When I was high it was easy to look past that and believe it was about instant gratification.

"Hey, asshole. Party's over, get the fuck out."

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