What does everyone think of the site's new design? Not crazy about it myself. Some stuff actually happens in this chapter. Gotta say this is one of my favourite chappies. Heads up; there is a point in this chapter where you'll probably want to punch me, it involves BxA, but push through that cause I like to think I make up for it.

Only the epilogue to go!

XxX

"I think I'm still hungover." I groaned as I stumbled to the kitchen two days later. Jasper was cooking this time, an apron tied around his waist. Rose were sitting in the TV corner, quietly talking on the phone. Em must've gone to work already.

"I'm not surprised; you drank enough to kill a normal person." Jasper commented, flipping the pancake.

"It was New years." The doorbell went off. "Jesus, this early?" I opened the door and Alice walked through.

"It's 12:45." Alice kissed my cheek.

"Don't you have an apartment somewhere?" I asked Alice as I followed her to the couch. "I think Rose should start charging your visits."

"Don't you have a house somewhere?" She teased back.

"You're right, I should get back to it." I went to the kitchen and grabbed a bowl, milk and Rice Krispies.

"I was only teasing, Bella."

"I know, but I should start thinking about getting back to Washington. I was going to talk about it yesterday but I was too hungover." I sat at the breakfast table and poured a late breakfast. "The wedding is finished, which was the original reason for coming down here, the holidays are over, what's left to stay for? I'm not moving back here, I can't be bothered to pack everything up again."

"Right..." Jasper untied the apron and hung it on the back door handle. "I'll start packin'." He headed for his bedroom.

"Oh no you don't." I caught his wrist and span him around. "You're staying here."

"What?" He frowned.

"You're staying here. You don't belong in the middle of fucking nowhere backwoods town. You belong in a city, you belong here. Jasper, you've been so happy here, so much happier than you were in Washington, I feel like I'd be incredibly selfish letting you fly back with me."

"What about Embry?"

"You can make a long distance relationship work. He has relatives up here, so when he visits them he can visit you, and you visit him when your hand gets too boring." I stood up and took his face in my hands and smiled. "We have been friends for years and years and have lived together, I'm finally getting sick of seeing your face."

"What about you? Won't you be lonely in the wilderness on your own?"

"Wilderness?" I snorted. "Homo, please. It's a forest at best. I'll be fine, I've got some people I like up there." I kissed him. "I'll get the ticket tomorrow. You've got to be thankful, Rose, not having my drunken ass on your couch."

"Yes, I'll be glad when I see the back of you. You eating and drinking me out of house and home is not as fun as you made it out to be."

"Mmm, I can feel the love come off you in waves." I pressed my hand to my chest. Jasper's phone rang. "What do you think, Alice?"

"Can I speak to you outside for a moment?" I felt my insides slightly, just slightly, shrivel up in fear. I nodded but stopped when I saw Jasper's face.

"Hey, Jasper, what's wrong?"

"I'll be there soon." He hung up then stared at his phone. "That was the hospital. Peter's been emitted, he's... he's been shot."

"Shit... Okay, tell us where he is, Rose we're taking your car." I grabbed my jacket and shoes, and threw Rose her keys. We piled into her coupé and drove up to the Bronx. Jasper bolted out of the car as it went passed the entrance, not waiting for Rose to park.

"Sir, sir, please calm down. I cannot help you if you're acting irrational."

"Why aren't you tellin' me anythin'? I need to know!" Jasper grabbed the doctor's sleeve. I pulled him back and pinned his hands to his side.

"Sorry, we just got some news that wasn't the best." I patted his arm and pushed him towards Alice. "Look, we just want to know about a Peter Whitlock, he was emitted today."

"I am sorry but I know nothing of this patient. Take a seat in the waiting area and I'll find his doctor." We lead Jasper to the waiting room and put him in one of the free seats.

Twenty minutes passed and a new doctor arrived, quickly reminding me of a ginger Nathan Lane. "Who is the brother?" His eyes jumped us, staying on Rose for a bit.

"I am." Jasper stood up and ran a hand through his hair. "What's happened to him?"

"Your brother was shot while on a patrol. He was hit twice in his torso and once in his left arm, luckily missing all vital organs. When he was transferred here we thought the medics in Iraq had healed him, but we saw he showed signs of internal bleeding. We saw in the X-ray a piece of shrapnel had caused the bleeding. He is now in surgery and we are removing the shrapnel and stopping the internal bleeding. I will tell you more as it progresses." He nodded once and turned and walked back to the surgery room.

Jasper dropped into his chair and covered his face with his hands. Rose sat on the armrest and stroked his hair. I leaned against the wall in a gap between a couch and someone sitting in a chair and crossed my arms, pressing a set of knuckles to my mouth.

"Bella, I really need to talk to you." Alice asked, standing in front of me.

"Now really isn't the right time."

"Don't use Peter as an excuse to get out of this."

"I'm not, I'm being considerate, unlike you."

"Me inconsiderate? I wasn't the one giving false hope two days ago and promising something that I had no intention of doing. I left Tanya because of you, for you!" She punched my shoulder, closer to my collarbone. I gritted my teeth to stop from groaning and maybe shouting at her, and clutched my shoulder.

"You need to calm the fuck down, Tinkerbell. What do you expect me to do, stay on Rose's couch for the rest of my life? Move in with you? And you should be goddamn grateful you left Tanya. She was a manipulative bitch just like her sister."

"Not this again. There is no proof that she is anything like her-"

"She cheated on you! How is that not enough proof for y-"

"Stop it!" Jasper shouted, standing up. "You two are arguin' over somethin' meaningless and petty while my brother could be dyin'." Then he allowed the first tear to fall. Rose hugged him and whispered in his ear.

"Do I need to escort you two out?" A security guard came around the corner and glared at all of us.

"No, you don't need to do that." I rotated my shoulder. "I need to call someone." I pushed Alice out the way and headed outside, dialling her number. "Char?"

"Bella, hi, how are you?"

"Yea, I'm... yea, can you come up to the VA hospital in the Bronx? Peter's here and... just come up here okay?"

Charlotte came running through the doors thirty minutes later looking worried. "Bella, what happened? What's wrong with Peter?" She sat down next to me on the couch, furthest place away from everyone.

"He's been shot. He's alive," I reassured her when she turned four shades paler. "But some shrapnel got him and..." I trailed off.

"And what? Tell me Bella, or I swear to god." She gripped my collar.

"I don't know. He's been in surgery for at least half an hour and I don't know if that's good or bad. We just have to wait and see."

Charlotte let go of my shirt and then hunched over, resting her elbows heavily on her knees and covering her mouth with her hands. "How did you know to call me?" She asked, her voice coming out muffled.

"Just a hunch." I rubbed her back as we continued to wait for the doc to come back. He did awhile later. Char and Jasper were the firsts to jump up.

"Peter has come out of surgery and everything is fine." He smiled. "We've put him in ICU to monitor him for the time being, and you can visit him if you want. Family only though." He stopped Char when she started to follow him to Peter's room. "I'm sorry, what's your relation to the patient?"

"I'm his fiancée." She didn't miss a beat. I felt my eyebrows shoot up. Guess my hunch was right. Jasper and Char followed the doc to Peter's room while the three of us finally relaxed.

"I should call Emmett." Rose went outside, leaving me and Alice alone. She was reading what looked like a two year old US Weekly, unless Tiger Woods married Elin then cheated on her again, while I was chewing my thumb nail down to the knuckle.

"What were you thinking?" Alice closed the magazine and slapped it down on the table next to her.

"Don't start again." I sighed. "I can feel a bruise coming on already."

"I want to know your thinking." She came to sit next to me and glared. "Why would you propose a new relationship if you were going to leave three days later? Why did you even bother talking to me that night?"

"I don't know, I don't fucking know." The woman across from us looked at me disapprovingly. "Ma'am, if you didn't like what just came out of my mouth you're gonna hate the rest of this conversation." I ran my hand through my hair. "Look, I'm being a contradictory bastard and completely unfair to you but... I don't know what I want anymore. I've never known what I've wanted."

"Don't drag me into your mid-life crisis. I will not be collateral damage." She stomped off in the same direction Char and Jasper went. I blew out a breath and covered my eyes.

"You certainly know how to clear a room, Bella." Rose sat down next to me and crossed her legs.

"One of my many fabulous traits." I leaned back and raised my eyebrows. "Come on, let me have it. Load up your insults and shoot."

"I feel sorry for you."

"Is that all? I gotta say, Big bird, you're losing your edge."

"I feel sorry for you because you make your life exceedingly and unnecessarily complicated. You don't allow yourself to be fully happy and you toy with the emotions of people who love you. It's almost like you're punishing yourself for the mistakes you made while still a child, and I believe even you aren't that stupid." She picked up an old Car and Driver. "You said at my wedding that Emmett and I didn't let our stupidity and stubbornness ruin our relationship, and that we should all take heed from our example. I'd hate for you to come to regret something you didn't do because you didn't take your own advice."

I stayed silent as I stared at my feet. Heels clicking on the floor made me look up. Char's mascara was running and was clutching something in her left hand. I quickly stood up and hugged her tightly. She was breathing unsteadily and her body was shaking.

"It's okay, Char, he's going to be fine now."

"Jasper wants you to see him." She whispered. I nodded and let Rose take over and left after giving Char a squeeze. I asked a passing nurse and she lead me to Peter's room. I knocked and Alice opened the door. I nodded to her and walked closer to the bed. Beeping. Lots of beeping and nothing else. I kept my eyes to the floor, holding off looking for as long as possible. I took a deep breath and dragged my eyes up, over Jasper sitting in a fold up chair, over a heart monitor and an IV drip and tubes, and then down to the man lying in the bed. I felt my throat tighten.

Peter was white, not pale, white. Even his lips looked white. A tube was connected to him, helping him breath I guess. His hair was limp and not its usual shiny gold, his left bicep was bandaged but I couldn't tell the rest of his injuries since the hospital gown and sheet covered the rest of his body. He looked... he looked dead.

I stepped behind Jasper and put a hand on his shoulder. "Are you okay?"

"I'm more okay than Charlotte." I saw him rub his eyes. I took the chair from the end of the bed and sat down next to him. "Did you know about Charlotte and Pete?"

"I had a feeling but I didn't think I was right. I'm sure they're not engaged though."

We went back to the apartment when we were kicked out after visiting hours and mostly tried to comfort Jasper and Char, Em joining in on the party when he came back from work. I offered to drive Char back to work when she got a text from Toby, and Alice asked if I could drop her off at home. I borrowed Em's car and drove Charlotte home first. I told her to call me if she needed anything and gave Toby a warning.

"Uhh," I cleared my throat as I stopped the car at a red light. "Sorry I screwed you out of a relationship." Alice didn't reply and just stared out the window. "Really. I would say it was the drink but that's a piss poor excuse. But..." I hesitated, not sure if this was going to be the right or wrong thing to say. "You have to admit it wasn't the best coupling. I mean, did you even have anything in common?"

I looked in the rear-view to see her clenching her jaw but didn't answer. I was a couple blocks away from her apartment when she did answer. "We don't have a lot in common."

I parked outside her door and cut off the engine. "I won't be leaving tomorrow. I'll wait until Peter's woken up."

"How considerate." Alice unclipped her seatbelt and got out the car.

"Yea..." She slammed the door shut. "Yea." I rolled down my window and shouted for her. "Alice," She turned around, key in hand. "Forgive me. Please." She turned around and went inside. I sighed and drove back to the apartment.

"You okay?" I sat down next to Jasper on the couch and bumped my shoulder to his. He nodded and put his head on my shoulder.

"Are you leavin' tomorrow?"

"No, not until Peter wakes up. Want me to come with you tomorrow?" He nodded. "Okay, but we'll have to take the sub; I heard Rose's doing an interview." He nodded again. "Jasper, I'm sorry about today. It was incredibly inappropriate to start arguing in the middle of a hospital."

"I'm too tired to chastise you, Bella." He stood up and rubbed his eyes. "I would like to leave early."

"Don't worry, I'll be up." I stood up and kissed him lightly. "Peter's okay now. He's healing and he's fine. Sleep well, homo." Jasper smiled and went to his room.

"What are you doing still up?" Rose came out of her room wearing a short red robe. "Bella, stop staring at my legs."

"Sorry, but they're very lovely." I turned off the TV. "Why are you up at two in the morning?" I stood up and set my wine glass full of whiskey down on the breakfast table. I couldn't find a tumbler.

"I heard noises."

"Sorry, I forgot you're a light sleeper. Go back to sleep, and if you're having trouble I'll go out and find some rohypnol."

"I always assumed you had a box with you at all times. Why else would women sleep with you?"

"Great, your wit is sharp as fuck no matter what time it is." I sat down at the breakfast table and watched Rose make herself some of that hippy green tea. "Rose... when you and Em had that falling out, how did you get back together?"

"We talked." She pulled out a chair and sat opposite me, mug of tea in front of her.

"That's it?" I didn't mean to sound so incredulous.

"No, we did more but talking was what helped us the most. Alice still loves you, she even trusts you, but she believes you only want her in your bed." She took a sip. "And you're not rushing to correct her."

"Yea, yea, yea, I'm a douchebag." I ran my hand through my hair. "How do you do it, Rose? How are you confident in everything you do? You don't let people ridicule you, you don't let people manipulate you, you don't take their shit lying down. You know what you want in life and you do whatever you can, whatever you need to do to get it. How do you not get drowned in your own self doubt or just give up when the obstacles become too tough?"

Rose smiled, a rare sight when it's directed at me. "Because I'm driven. When I see something I truly, one hundred percent, without a doubt in my mind, want I grab it and don't let go. I didn't lie in my vows when I said Emmett helps me greatly when I become insecure. Especially in my career choice. Do you know how many people have labelled me as the blonde that doesn't have a single thought in her head? I've worked in four different mechanic shops, and I think three people overall took me seriously. I've been mocked, I've been the brunt of many jokes, I've been groped more times than I'd like to reflect on. But I hold my head high and I continue on through it all because I love what I do and I will not let a group of grease monkeys drive me away from it." She pulled the folds of her robe together and I thought I saw a hint of nipple. "But even though I push through I can't help but let some of their comments hit me. I'm not confident in everything I do.

"This is going to hurt me to say, Bella, but you're not stupid... in some ways. You are not stupid and you are not easily manipulated. You were young and Kate was your very first girlfriend, yes?" I nodded. "Your drug use was not your fault... entirely."

"Rose, you've never been this nice to me. I'm a little scared."

"Don't become used to it." She took her mug to the kitchen and gave my shoulder a pat when she walked back passed me. "Get some sleep. You're taking Jasper to the hospital soon."

"Wait, how do you know that?"

"I was in the room. You're not observant but you can find a bottle of alcohol like a blood hound."

"Night, Big bird." I heard the bedroom door close. I slowly finished my drink, turned off the lamp by the couch and went to sleep.

...

"How long do you think your brother has been boning Charlotte?" I asked Jasper as we walked through the hospital doors.

"Oh, for the love of god, Bella! What is wrong with you?"

"It's a completely reasonable question. Lets not be naïve about this and think they just play chess late at night." We stopped in front of Peter's room just as his doc was coming out.

"Jasper, isn't it?" He smiled and shook Jasper's hand. "Come in, Peter woke up today."

Charlotte was already there looking much much happier. "I didn't peg you as a Nightingale kind of chick, Char."

"I think it's sweet." Peter smiled from the bed. He looked more alive, had a bit more colour around the edges. "How's my little brother?" He cleared his throat.

"Better. How are you feelin'?" Jasper took the spare chair and sat down next to Char.

"Take into account I was almost dead 48 hours ago, I feel great." I rolled my eyes, Char sighed and Jasper shook his head. "We'll laugh about this one day, I know it. I'm surprised you're still here, Bella."

"I'll probably leave tomorrow or the next day. You on the other hand, you stupid bastard, don't you know to duck when bullets come flying at you?" I sat down at the end on the edge of his bed, and poked his foot.

"They forgot to teach us that in basic training, but I'll remember next time."

"Next time?" Charlotte's voice went two pitches higher. She couldn't lay into him and verbally bitch slap him since someone knocked on the door.

I've never met them but I've seen photos of them, and Jasper's parents walked through the door. Jasper and Char turned in their chairs and then Jasper went fifty shades of pale. The father... shit, what was his name? Hoyt I think. Hoyt looked like a dick and nothing like Jasper or Peter. Blonde hair, thick black eyebrows, wide cheekbones and an uneven jawline. With that body though, he did look like he could crush me with his thumb. The mother on the other hand... fuck, she was quite beautiful actually. Beautiful but in a scary kind of way, like if you'd pissed her off and hugged her she would slid a knife in your back.

I leaned towards Jasper. "How come you didn't tell me your mother was Spanish?" I whispered in his ear.

"It never came up."

"I always thought you tanned quickly." They both completely ignored Jasper and went to Peter's side, one on each side.

"My boy, look what they did to you." Mary... Mandy? Pushed Peter's hair away from his face. "Are you okay? Do you need a nurse?"

"I'm fine, mom."

"That's my boy! You don't show any weakness." Hoyt patted Peter's shoulder, his injured arm, and I saw Peter cover a grimace. "You see, Jasper, this is a real man. He's fighting and bleeding for his country. What have you done since you left my house?"

I felt my jaw drop a couple inches. I got up off the bed and stood behind Jasper, putting my hand on his shoulder.

"I'm not a fighter and even if I was, the Army isn't partial for allowin' gays in." Hoty's mouth twisted at gay.

"I can't blame them; we don't want Nancys going into a war zone." I tightened my hand on Jasper's shoulder to keep myself from leaping over the bed and making this fucker's jaw more uneven. "Who are you?" His eyes went between me and Char. I was too busy biting my tongue, literally, to answer.

"Mom, dad, this is Charlotte. Charlotte, this is Hugh and Maria." Peter smiled and squeezed Char's hand.

"Are you his girlfriend?" Maria's eyes went from their hands to Char's face. She nodded and didn't shrivel up under the intensifying gaze. Maria hummed and went back to fixing Peter's hair.

"You?" Hugh eyes narrowed at me.

"Bella. I'm a great friend of Jasper and Peter."

"Even though he's a queer?"

"Yes, even though he's gay." My hand tightened again. Jasper reached up and patted my hand.

"Are you one of those lesbians?"

"And if I am? Are you doing to splash holy water on me and start quoting bible verses?"

"I will not be talked to like that by some foolish dyke."

"You know, people who are so strongly against gays and hate them so greatly, most of the time they're in denial and extremely gay themselves." His face went red and he looked ready to shout at me. "Come on Jasper, let's go get some food." I pulled Jasper up and walked out the door towards the cafeteria. "What a pair of cunts." Passing nurses and some patients looked appalled.

"They're still my parents, Bella." Jasper didn't look too pleased about my language either.

"Maria completely ignores you, though I gotta say that's better than what that dickhead does. How do you put up with that? Why do you? If I said even a quarter of what that guy said you wouldn't talk to me for five months and definitely stick Rose on me."

"He's my father; he's family."

"Exactly. You don't talk to your family like that. If you don't like a member, you don't talk to them." We grabbed a table in a corner of the room. "I don't want to leave you alone with them two."

"Bella, even though I find this new found gentleness adorable, I'll be able to look after myself when they're involved. I've lived with them for most my life, I can handle a few hours." He smiled. "Go home tomorrow, make sure your house hasn't been robbed or taken over by woodland animals."

"It's not Snow White's house, homo."

...

I zipped up my bag and threw it over my shoulder. "Well, that's everything." I grabbed my wallet and put it in my back pocket. "Rose, when you decide to pop out a little devil child, call me. I'll be there for its first drink, tattoo and lesbionic encounter."

"And if it's a boy?" Rose asked, opening the door. I wouldn't be surprised if she pulled out party hats and popped open a bottle of champagne when I leave.

"Then his first drag queen contest. I'll drag Jasper along as well." I opened my arms and grinned. "Come on, you know you wanna." She rolled her eyes but hugged anyway, slowly sinking her nails in my shoulder. I smiled and pulled back. "Tell Em I'll see him when I see him."

"Bella," Jasper pulled me into a hug. "Thank you."

"You're welcome, but for what?"

"Allowin' me to stay, helping me with dealin' with Pete and my parents. Even for bein' my friend for all these years."

"Alright, homo." I pulled back and rolled my eyes. "Stop before you start growing a pussy." I kissed his cheek. "I love you too." I ran my hand through my hair when I turned to Alice. "Could we talk outside for a minute?"

"Do I get a big goodbye speech from you?" Alice asked when we were in the hallway.

"Not quite. Could you keep an eye on Jasper, and to an extent Charlotte? I'm still worried about them two and Peter. And that the parents from hell are here and I won't be able to kick that bastard of a father in the balls."

"Okay," She nodded. "I'll make sure they're coping. Was that all?"

"More or less. Though could we leave on good terms? Jesus, even me and Rose have come to an understanding."

She stared at me for ages, probably seeing if I was fucking with her. She finally nodded and hugged me. I felt an electro shock go through me. Ha, I'm only fucking with you. What the hell is it with book that say that?

I hugged her tightly. "Thank you." I looked at my watch over her head. "I've gotta go." I smiled and squeezed her hip. I clicked the elevator button, it's finally working, and stepped in. I smiled again at Alice as the doors closed.

1 month later

It turns out when you don't call your boss to tell him you'll be away for a couple weeks, he gets a tiny bit pissed. So, I came home to no job, still don't have one, an empty house and pissing with rain. I sent Jasper a box full of his clothes so he wouldn't run out of boxers and then the rest of his stuff when he told me he moved into Peter's apartment. I can see that working out fabulously.

I finished my unofficial vow of chastity when I had a one nighter with Leah. It was... not the best, and Leah agreed.

"That was... umm." I stopped as I pulled my shirt over my head.

"Awkward as hell? Felt like sleeping with your sister?" Leah sat up against her headboard and wrapped the sheet around her.

"I was going to say not in my top ten but your words work just fine."

A knock on my door interrupted my thoughts. I rolled off the couch. It was raining again and cold as fuck, the wind biting my bare legs when I opened the door. I felt my breath catch in my throat and blinked a dozen times.

"Alice?"

"Hi Bella."

XxX

Now that is how you end a chapter. So, did I make it up to you?

*Le gasp* I used the C word! Yea, I had to, it seemed only fair. I've used every swear out there that isn't British, so I might as well complete the set. Has anyone watched Two pints of lager and a packet of crisps? It's kinda like that. They swear in every episode but they only use the C once every series.

I really thought about killing off Peter but na, I'm not one to kill characters. Fuck over their lives and get them put in hospital, but not kill. I don't know medical stuff... at all, so I had to try and be logical throughout this chapter. But me and logic aren't always the best of mates, and I think we were having a fight when I wrote this chapter.

Review for... what holiday just went by? St. Patrick's day? Yea, review for St. Drinking day.