Epilogue: The Kids: Five Years Later
"J.J. it's time to wake up!" Embry called over his shoulder in the kitchen that proved to be too small for him in their little apartment. But still, he continued to flip the pancakes. "Leah, go make sure he's awake."
Leah zipped from place to place in her bra and skirt as she pinned that freshly ripped skirt together with clothes pins, "I don't know if the smoke from the burning pancakes is bluring your vision or not but I'm a little busy."
"And what, I'm not? Do you even remember what you said last night? You said you wouldn't belittle me anymore," Embry snapped in his quiet voice that insured J.J. wouldn't understand, even if he could hear.
"Em..." Leah sighed as she scooted behind him to get the white shirt she had left from last nights romp in the kitchen, "I'm sorry."
It was impossible to hide the smile that bloomed onto Embry's face and even from behind Leah could see it. She slipped into her white shirt but an unmistakable rip caught her attention, "Fuck Embry! This was my last white shirt!"
"What did we say about cursing in front of J.J.?!" Embry shouted back, turning off the burner as he turned around with the large plate of pancakes.
"He's still sle-J.J. wake up! You're going to miss the bus!" Leah screamed, making sure to stomp especially loud in her heels to awaken him.
"Don't yell at him like that! You're going to traumatize the poor kid!" Embry warned, placing the pancakes on the table before running down the narrow hallway to the poor kid's room.
Inside, just like...just like his dad, J.J. laid sprawled over every surface of his bed as if he hadn't gotten any sleep last night-again. But the uneven breathing was a dead ringer for the truth. J.J. was awake. With a grin, Embry leaned on his knees, hunched over Jay and using full care he scooped him up off of the bed and into the air. The breathing hiched, he knew what was next, and once he was in the air-high off the ground-Embry began to loosen his grip but before he could let go J.J. opened his brown eyes and with a scream shouted, "Don't let me go!"
Embry let out a laugh, a real laugh that Jacob and Quil could only make him give, and held onto J.J. tight, "I thought you were asleep!"
J.J. tried to pull away, pushed and tugged and punched at Embry's skin as he shouted, "I was asleep but you woke me up! I don't want to go t o school today! Please?"
"Why not?" Embry asked as he blocked each of the little guy's hits, "Are you getting bullied in school? What did I teach you about self defense?"
"I'm not getting bullied," J.J. pouts, "I'm tired...The dreams bothered me again last night and I couldn't sleep and Ms. Pickler said if I fall asleep in class again I'm going to get in trouble."
Embry sighed heavily, looking into his eyes and seeing that he was not lying. He looked exhausted. J.J. waited, looking so much like the person that was lost and even more like someone brand new. Em couldn't help but to crack a smile and whisper, "Fine, but get dressed and eat some pancakes. I'll take care of you."
J.J. nodded his head with a grin, "Got it, dude."
"All of my clothes are ripped!" Leah screamed from somewhere in the back of the apartment. J.J. rolled pushed Embry with no success toward the door, mouthing 'You deal with her.' While Embry plucked him by the back of his pajamas and showed him to the door, mouthing back 'No you!' But it was Embry's card that was pulled, "Embry!"
J.J. climbed out of his grip and ran back into the comfort of his bed while with a low head Embry walked out into the hall. It was the voice she used when one of the boys were in trouble and it was a voice they had both grown to fear greatly for it meant someone was going to get yelled at. With the knowledge that it would be him, Embry spoke a quiet, "Yes, Dear?"
But there was no answer. Embry was confused by the lack of response. His 'Yes Dear?'s always came with a rude response. He tip-toed out into the hall and there stood-in her heals with her bun at the top of her head in her skirt with one of his white t-shirts manipulated to look flatering-holding a pair of his dirty jeans and the ring he had been waiting for the right time to give her.
Her face was covered in tears that never showed and Embry ran to her, throwing his arms around her in his submissive way that apologized without words. He knew it had been a dumb idea. But there was something odd. While the jeans fell to the ground the velvet box stayed clutched in her hand and she was silent, not yet calling him 'Stupid, Stupid, Stupid Mutt.' Embry pulled away carefully, searching her eyes for something but they were cast down and her lips was inside of her mouth. Did she want him to ask? Embry took the box from her hand, making sure to keep his face still close to hers, as he opened it to reveal a ring Edward had helped him pick out and pay for. He whispered in his soft breath, "Leah...will you marry me?"
"Marry you?" she asked in the tone he had expected. Bewildered, terrified, disgusted, horrified, unsure, panicked, thrilled.
"Marry me," he repeated, pushing the box back into her palm although her fingers were still limp.
"Embry, we talked about this. We're...we're-"
"That didn't stop us from falling in love and you can't deny that we are. We've been living together for four years, we've been doing it for three, we've been saying it for two, we've been meaning it for one. You can't look me in the eyes and say this honestly isn't the next step because it is. This is what's waiting for u-"
"How are we going to pay for a weddin-?"
"The fucking Cullens Embry? Really? You think they're gonna help u-"
"Stop. You can't say they don't like us. You can't say you don't see how happy they get when we bring J.J. to visit Mase every fall or when we bring J.J. to visit Marley in the summer. I talked to Edward anyway. He said Alice is already planning i-"
"You don't even know what I'm going to say," she snapped, shutting him up. Her mouth was a solid line that no kisses could unleash while her fist was hard, not accepting the box.
It was now that Embry decided he would lift up his hands, box included, and take hold of her arms tightly. He looked her in the eyes, although she tried to look away, and said in a strong voice, "Don't do that Leah. Don't get all cold and wall yourself up again. I'm not going to imprint on any one. It's been five years and I've been looking, looking hard and there's no else, Leah. There's no else out there for me but you and if you can't get over that then what are we doing here, Leah? With J.J. If we're not going to take this serious then why are we confusing him?"
"Shut up, Embry, you don't know what you're talking about! You're just stupi-"
Embry grabbed her face at this point, gentle but firmly, and looked into her crying eyes as he said, "I know. I know, that right now, right here I'm asking a lot of you. I'm asking you to share the sun and the stars but don't you think we'll be a whole lot happier if you do?"
She pulled her chin away, bringing her hands up to push Embry away, "I don't know."
"I'm not Sam, Leah, I'm not him. You don't have to do this to me. It's not going to be any different, it doesn't mean anythin-"
"It means everything!" She screamed, pushing Embry against the wall so hard his back made a perminant indentation. Her eyes became blacker and darker and yet so red and firey as she screamed, "It means that if you leave me it's not going to be just awkward at reunions! It's not just going to be weird when we phase! If you leave m-"
"I'm not going to leave you!" Embry yelled in the same harsh tone she used to barrate him. He threw the box against the ground and continued, "Why can't you see that! If I didn't want to be with you I wouldn't be here right now! I wouldn't listen to all the shit that you give me and I wouldn't take any of it but I love you, Leah and I'm not going anywhere!"
"You don't know that you won-!"
"You don't know that I will!" Embry shouted in a quieter voice that called for attention. His hand snatched hers and held it gently, allowing her the chance to pull away, as he petted it and continued, "I'm scared you might leave me too, Leah. But I trust you. I trust that you love me and you won't hurt me, Le...Please...what do we have to lose? If you say yes? If we get married, go crazy, have fun, give J.J. a real home? What do we have to lose? Even if it's just for a little while."
With her hand still in his Embry lowered himself to the ground on one knee, reaching for the box that contained the ring. He pulled the ring from its holder and looked up into her eyes. His knee felt the pressure of their five year relationship and his life-long crush. But he was not going to give up.
"Leah...will you marry me?" Embry asked, this time his tone was different though. His voice sounded as if it wasn't a question. His words sounded switched and order as if to say 'Leah, you will marry me.' There was nothing really left for her to protest.
With a weak nod of her head she answered, "Yes."
Before she was aware what she had done she was in the air with the ring on her finger and Embry's arms around her and she was being twirled in the air as if she were a child again. She laughed out, not because the situation was funny but because they were. She felt there was no hope for the future and still...there they were...hoping. J.J. ran out of his room with a grin, "What did she say?!"
"She said yes!" Embry yelled with joy, rushing over to him with Leah still over his shoulder, "We're getting married!"
"Yes!" He shouted as Embry picked him up into the air too. They were getting married.
The sun had just bairly began to trinkle through the light of Mason's room before he heard his father and his grandfather come home. He didn't bother hiding back in bed. Although he was only five human years old his mentality had reached the mature state of sixteen and he no longer cared what his elders thought. Instead of hiding he stayed at his computer desk and continued to search through the photo album Alice had created-with much begging-of his mother.
There were pictures of her, Isabella Marie Black, on her wedding day with Jacob. There were pictures of them holding hands at the beach, pictures of them at parties, pictures of them hidden away in deep conversation, of her on his shoulders, of them on dates, pictures of intimate things only they would keep in their posession. And then there were other pictures. Pictures of her when she was Bella Swan. When she was in love with Edward Cullen and for the only time in history Edward looked happy in his miserable way. There were pictures on birthdays, pictures on trips, pictures of sleepy days and secret dates. There were lots of pictures that Alice found.
"Look who's up early."
Mason shut the photo album and weakly spun around in his chair. It was his father. Although he cared little of what his father thought about his search for Bella he still wanted to avoid the look he had when ver he asked about her. He wanted to avoid that staring off Edward did that made everyone felt...very uncomfortable.
"What was it today? Couldn't sleep?" Edward asked wth that smile that was never truly happy and yet happy enough to be what it was.
"Bad dream," Mason answered weakly, not bothering to hide how annoyed being in his father's presence made him.
"Same thing? The monster?" Edward continued, stepping around the room to pick up a tossed article of clothing or to place something that had fallen back onto the shelf.
"Is it ever anything different?" Mason replied, turning back around to trace the cover of the photo album.
A hardly audible sigh was heard from Edward, where ever he was around the room, before he spoke, "Esme told me you declined public school again."
"Do we really have to talk about this now?" For some reason speaking to his father reminded Mason how exhausted he actually was.
"It's unhealthy for you to stay in your room all day...on the computer...You need human interaction, Mason, " it was the 'human interaction' speech again. Could Edward become anymore predictable.
Mason groaned bitterly, "I help at the hospital."
"That doesn't count," Edward sighed again, not bothering to hide this one from his son. "You need friends."
"I have friends," Mason snapped as he slammed his balled fist against the desk. It creaked under the pressure but didn't brake this time. Uncle Jasper and Aunt Alice had used some special material to protect against Mason's outbursts.
Edward kept silent, allowing the comment to remain in the air. At Mason's age he found it nearly impossible to speak to him, he was so much like his mother. Instead of replying he decided to take it upon himself to make Mason's bed that still appeared slept in, but still, he couldn't keep silent for long, "Friends your own age. J.J. and Marley are too youn-"
"Who's fault is that?!" Mason shouted, causing a momentary pause in action in the house but it continued as he spoke, "I want to see them again."
"I want to see my brother and siste-"
"Mason!" Edward's voice was loud enough to be heard over Mason's demanding order. He never liked to raise his voice but much like Bella...Mason just was unable to listen. It wasn't unless Edward yelled or used force did he ever pay attention.
"What?" Mason asked quietly, now finding it unbairable to look at his father.
"I have news to share with you," there was a hidden smile in his voice that caught Mason's attention. "Alice is in the process of planning the wedding of Leah and Embry."
Mason took in a breath. He had only met Leah and Embry twice and that was on the rare occasions he was allowed to see J.J. but even with his few memories it was still a surprise to hear they were engaged. But then...something else caught his thoughts. He looked up at Edward, "Where is it being held?"
"Here," Edward grinned, "You're going to see your siblings again, Mason. You're going to see them very soon."
"Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!"
"Marley, go back to sleep, it's only 4:30! Lessons don't begin until 8!"
"No! Wake up! Wake up Seth!"
"I'm not going to wake up."
"That's not going to work on me this time."
Seth lifted his head from beneath the pillow with a sullen sigh. How could he deny her? She was already dressed in the usual pink princess dress with all the ruffles and ribbons and Rosalie had already done her hair in the beautiful little ringlets that bounced as she did, there was no chance he would sleep now. Seth sat up with a groan, extending his hand like a servant and waiting for her to grab it.
"Seth! Silly! Put on some clothes! You're naked!" Marley giggled as she hopped away, her new thing, to the closet to get him the pants that were laying on his chair.
In truth he was not naked at all, he was fully clothed in his sleeping clothes, but to her if he did not wear one of the prince uniforms he wasn't dressed at all. Seth opened his eyes briefly, the lights of the eiffel tower were still illuminated and only gave him more to complain inwardly about. He stood from the bed and extended his arms so Marley could throw the clothes onto them as if he were a hanger. Sometimes, Seth greatly disliked the fashion-sense Rosalie and Alice forced into her.
"Wow! Seth, you're going to look so handsome!" she gushed in the tone that always made Seth melt to her will. Even at this young age she knew, with dominance, that she had possesion over him and there was almost no way he could deny her.
"Thanks," Seth yawned, placing the clothes on his computer desk so he could turn around and began making his bed. "Marley, did you make your bed yet?"
"Noooo," she drawled, spinning from side to side so her dress could move along with it.
"Are you going to make your bed?" Seth asked, knowing the answer before she even spoke.
"Nooo," she said in the same tone, adding a string of giggles before running out into the hallway.
Seth rolled his eyes. She was so spoiled. Once she was out of the room though, Seth did oblige to her command as he began to get dressed in the outfit she had picked out for him. He knew that he was part of the reason she was so spoiled but that was the part that couldn't help it. She was his imprintee! He was forced by law to do as she said! But Emmett and Rosalie were different problem. They leaped at the chance to give her as she pleased and Seth could hear in the distance as Marley ordered Rose to make her fly as she ordered Emmett to make her chocolate chip pancakes. She always had her away.
Seth brushed his teeth and combed his hair in the way that she liked, hating it every second and still loving it just the same. This was a far different life from the one he left behind. As he walked out into the hall he had to admit, living under the care of the Cullens was pretty wonderful. Every year, so far, they moved to a new high class place. The first year of Marley's birth they lived in some huge mansion in London, the second year Ireland, then Spain, then Esme's Isle, and now France, and not just France-Paris, France.
Yeah, life was pretty good.
But still. Seth could not admit things were perfect. There were still the nightmares. The reason Marley woke so early and slept so late and always with him. Although Rose and Emmett seemed to think it was nothing to be concerned with, he was very, very concerned.
"Oh, look who decided to wake up," Emmett smirked, wearing his king banana crown that brought so much enjoyment to Marley's life.
"It's Prince Charming," Rosalie grinned as she pinched Seth's cheek, making Marley do the same.
For some reason it seemed as if they found more enjoyment out of the imprinting arrangement than Marley and Seth themselves. However the truth of the matter was that Marley enjoyed it the most. The more she made Seth do things for her, the more Rose and Emmett laughed and the more they gave her what she wanted. All around it was a win/win situation for her. But not for Seth.
He could see in her tired little eyes that she was exhausted, running on fumes as Paul would say, and soon she was going to collapse. There was no other outcome he could see. The bruises under her eyes matched the Cullens, along with her appetite. It was as if Seth was the only one that ate human food at all anymore. Sure, Emmett made her favorites-the chocolate chip pancakes, the french fries, the grilled carrots-but she hardly took any bites. The Cullens may not have noticed but he did. She wasn't doing so well.
"Seth, I've got sausage and bacon coming up along with the cakes. Have any other requests?" Emmett asked, making his hat jiggle so that Marley could fill up the room with laughter.
Seth shook his head, "No, that's alright."
"Here's some coffee," Rosalie smirked, placing it on before him as he sat at the table, "You're going to need it."
"Can we talk?" Seth asked suddenly, changing the joyful atmostphere to one of seriousness. Marley's cool face instantly cracked, releasing a waterfall of tears that were followed by little squieks and cries. "Marley! No, you're not in trouble!"
She curled up into Rosalie's arms despite Rosalie's shell-shocked expression, this episode was new. Rose tried to calm her down but she could hardly get a word out, "Mar-...Marley, Marley...listen! Calm! ShhhShhhShhh, pretty baby, Shhh!"
"Look at the funny hat, baby! Look at the funny hat!" Emmett tried shouting, making his hat move and jingle the way that she loved but still, nothing.
Seth took a sip of the coffee as he stood up. He knew he was the only one that could help soothe her cries. He reached his arms outward and instantly she fell into them, her cries becoming a soft whimper. She curled up against him, holding onto his lapels as she dug her face into his chest and Seth had to admit he did enjoy being the only to comfort her and the only she would listen to. Seth rubbed her head gently as he sighed, "Marley...I just want to talk about why you don't feel so good. Okay? You yell at us, we don't yell at you. Just tell us what's bothering you. Alright?"
Although the tears had stopped flowing there was still the sound of fear that escaped her lips and her large brown eyes that seemed to fill up every surface of the room. She shook her head, the curls falling down from the little up-doe Rosalie had done for her.
"Is it the nightmares?"
There was the slightest hesitation, a tiny lip quiver and then the tears began again. Seth's eyes turned to Rosalie but she had the same terrified expression as Emmett. If it weren't for the pain that ripped open his chest Seth would have found it funny that the two strongest vampires were undone by a five-year old girl. But the pain was inside of him and the harder she cried the worse it became.
"Marley, talk to us! Please? We want to help you and we can't help you if you keep crying," Seth whipsered in the strong tone he used and she listened to. The more he continued the quieter she got but still there was the fear that was evident inside each of her trembles. Seth continued, "Is it the nightmares?"
Weakly she nodded her head and added softly, "They keep getting scarier."
"What happens in it, Marl?" Emmett asked, coming to help and plucking the little girl from Seth's arms.
"There's a big monster and he keeps chasing me because he's hungry and he wants to eat me because I'm just big enough to fit into his mouth and when I sleep he gets closer and closer and I'm scared he's going to gobble me all up," by the time she finished the last sentece the tears began again and her voice became hardly distinguishable.
"You're afraid of a big monster?" Rosalie's tone is amused although no one in the room feels that way. "Well...do you remember on Esme's Isle when Daddy Emmett and Seth picked up all those trees to make your playhouse? And do you remember when you tried to do the same? And you couldn't even pick it up a little bit?"
A soft smile formed on little Marley's face that made the tension in the room evaporate. She nodded her head quickly, "Yeah! It was so heavy!"
"Well...did you know that no one can lift up those trees like that? Not even monsters?" she asked and for the first time Seth was amazed because she almost looked human. Really human.
"Not even monsters?" Marley repeated in amazement.
This time Emmett answered with a grin, "Not even monsters. Now do you want to know what I do to keep the monsters away?"
"Yes!" Marley shouted in a way that made Rosalie laugh as she sat at the table to check the mail.
"I get even bigger," Emmett grinned, throwing Marley in the air and unleasing the giggles yet again, "Come on! The pancakes are done! Who's hungry!"
Seth and Marley, as always, shouted in sync, "Me!"
They sat down at the table and laughed, poking each other and reciting the old Romeo and Juliet lines the tutor had them memorize as Emmett served them in a hibachi style. It seemed as if everything was back to its wonderfulself, even better, until Rosiel took in a little gasp, "Ohh-ohh."
The room turned and hung upon Rosalie's next words.
"Looks like Leah and Embry are getting married."