Pen Name Letzigprincess
Title: Let's Roll
Pairing: Edward and Bella
Rating: M
Beta: X-NessieCullen-X
Pre-Readers (if any): None
Disclaimer: The names used in this story were created by the wonderful Stephenie Meyer. This story is based on true events but all characters mentioned, similar to those who went through it, are entirely fictional. My story deals heavily with the events of September 11, 2001. My intentions are not to upset or be a trigger for those who have been devastated by this tragedy. While some of my information may not be accurate to a tee, I have used time lines, soldier experiences, and my own personal experiences to base this story. My heart goes out to those affected by this tragedy.

Let's Roll!

April 3, 2003

Edward couldn't help it. He felt like bouncing in his seat like a child; a little child about the age of three. He was coming home to his wife and two children: a little three year old boy and an even tinier baby girl who had only been in the world for eleven months. It had been eighteen months since he'd been deployed to Baghdad and the entire foundation of his life had been shaken to its core. His wife of five years, the beautiful Isabella Marie Cullen, had been his rock, his anchor, and while their entire world changed when he'd come home with that hard to handle news, she'd remained that person he relied on even though he was the one who had to hold her together.

Sitting back in his seat, he thought of that fateful day. It wasn't the day that he'd come home to a pregnant wife and told her he was leaving, it was the day that spread an infected feeling of fear throughout America. His country. His city. September 11, 2001 changed the course of his life. As high school sweethearts, he and Bella had been together for nearly their entire lives. They went through Kindergarten graduation, scraped knees from tee-ball, deaths of grandparents, high school graduation, and even the death of Bella's mother from breast cancer her senior year. She would always be his everything and they had no idea how much more difficult their lives would later become. Yeah, the end of that senior year was where he felt his story should start. It was around that time that he'd been given some startling news.

June 6, 1999

As they graduated from high school, that night as he walked across the stage, he heard Bella's best friend whisper to Rosalie Hale as he walked past, "Edward's going to die when Bella tells him."

Alice Brandon was always over-exaggerating things but he had no idea about the news that waited for him a couple hours later. The guys had all gone back to Emmett McCarty's house to start the bonfire and the girls had gone off to gather food and beer that were provided by unsuspecting parents' refrigerators. Feeling like they were the coolest things since sliced bread, they all took a can and cracked one open once the girls got back and joined them around the fire. "To us. To the nation's future. God help us all!"

Edward had laughed, knowing that his friend wasn't talking about what some people from the older generations referred to his as 'the lazy bunch of kids who always got what they wanted.' He was referring to the commitment Emmett, Jasper, and Edward had made by signing onto the United States Army Reserves. Jasper Hale, Rosalie's twin brother, was a lanky kid with curly blonde hair and cowboy boots. They'd moved up from the South a few years ago to New York. Emmett was a fucking tank on his own. He was built like a lumberjack and screamed 'military potential'. Edward was a little more built than Jasper but he didn't hold a candle to Emmett's fearless ways. They were quite the bunch and Em was right. Uncle Sam was probably shaking his head as they'd all signed on that line.

So when he looked away from them and over at the girl that made his world go 'round, he noticed she was holding the beer can behind her and dumping it little by little out onto the ground. Stalking over to her, he reached down behind her and took it. "Trying to make it look like you're peeing or what? That's alcohol abuse. It's a serious party foul..." he teased, kissing her cheek and double fisting now.


Something was up. She was usually so light, so confident, so happy. "Is it your mom? Damn, baby, I should have thought about that. Of course you'd be upset tonight. We can go if you want..."

"No, it isn't that. I mean, I guess some of it is, but...yeah."

"Bells, talk to me. I'll totally get down on my hands and knees and beg if you want me to. Go ahead. Dare me."

"Edward, stop," she laughed, in spite of the fact that she still seemed really shaken up. When he dropped down to his knees and held the beer cans together as if to say 'Please, please, please,' she sighed. "Come on. Stand up. Let's go for a walk."

Finishing off his beer, he carried hers with him as they headed down to the farmhouse. Jasper was always glad for this little chunk of forestry, away from the busy city. "So, what's up, babe?"

"I'm late. That's That's not what I meant to say. Stupid girls say that when they really mean to say that their periods never showed and they took a test in a friend's bathroom, and the test was positive and now their lives are over..." she rambled.

Edward felt like the world had dropped from underneath him. It was his. There was no doubt that if someone had impregnated Bella Swan, it would have been him. She had been virgin territory, as had he, and he knew no man but him had ever been there. He trusted her with his entire being. He was going to be a father...if her father didn't kill him before then. Charlie Swan was not only a quiet but intimidating man, he was also a no-nonsense New York policemen. "Does your dad know?"

"No! He's still not coping with what happened to mom. What am I supposed to say to him? This will kill him, Edward!"

"Bella, calm down..."

"Don't tell me to calm down! I was supposed to be going to school in the fall!"

"So what are you saying?"

"What do you mean? I just told you exactly what I had to say! I'm knocked up!"

"Are you want to... I don't think we should...get rid of it..."

That had been the first night it had ever happened. Tiny Bella Swan, who he'd protected all her life from playground bullies and broken hearts, slapped him so hard he literally saw stars. "How dare you even..."

"I don't want to do that! You just were kind of acting like..."

Then, in typical Bella fashion, she threw herself into his arms and began to cry. They stood there for nearly an hour, him holding her, her soaking his shirt with her tears, before Alice found them and pulled Bella into her arms instead. Looking up to the sky in a why-me kind of way, Edward sighed loudly. "We'll go tomorrow and tell my parents. Then we'll tell your dad. I'm sure after my parents are done with us, if we're still alive, they'll come with us to tell your dad."

"Edward, I'm so scared," Bella's muffled sob sounded as her face was pressed into Alice's shoulder.

"We can handle this," he shrugged, trying to appear calm and collected. He wasn't, though. He was surprised he hadn't pissed his own pants.

His parents were pissed, as expected, but Charlie had blown a gasket. It had gotten so bad that Edward had physically put his body between the officer and his daughter because of the rage that was coming off the man. Thankfully, Carlisle had been there to calm everyone. The three parents had been close friends for years and Esme missed Renee, Bella's mother, the way someone missed a lost sister. Bella had been taken under Esme's wing from the night God had taken Renee Swan and he thanked the Lord everyday that Esme was there for them even though she didn't approve. Bella wouldn't have been able to handle it if Esme left her as well, especially if it was voluntary.

In December, while Edward was done with basic training but leaving for tech school the next week, he asked Bella to marry him at Christmas Eve dinner in front of their parents and close friends. Charlie didn't take it well but learned to accept it as the girls talked wedding plans. In late February of 2000, Zachary Anthony Cullen was born. Edward had thankfully been home from tech school by some divine miracle and was there to greet his son upon arrival. After everything they had sacrificed, holding his newborn son had made their stress and fear worth it.

On July first of that year, when Zachary was only five months old, Edward and Bella were married in a small ceremony at their local church followed by a wedding reception/Fourth of July cookout. The guys were back from tech school, Rose and Alice were back from college, and the world was finally a happy place.

Edward managed to land a civilian job which was still through the military so it paid well. With Esme willing to watch Zach, Bella took a job at a little bookstore while picking up a few classes here and there at a local community college and they managed to get a small apartment on the outskirts of the city. That was his only regret when all was said and done with Bella getting pregnant at eighteen, he would have given anything for her to have gotten to follow her dreams and go off to college like her friends. She took it in stride, though, and he loved her for it.

They were young but they survived and it was not all that bad. Zachary grew, Bella came to love the enchanting little bookstore, and she was only a few credits from achieving an associate degree in Early Childhood Education. While he drove into the city every morning, he would thank God for his blessings as he looked up at the massive skyscrapers that only his city had to offer. Life was never easy but he and his Bella had found a way to enjoy it despite the hardships.

September 11, 2001

Sitting in the break room at work he was just filling out a paper for his health insurance, yes as mundane as that sounds he remembered exactly what it was about that morning, when he suddenly heard the place grow silent around him. One of the mechanics who he'd known for a few months came running passed him, cell phone in hand, and tears in his eyes. He was followed by two other men without the tears but with shell-shocked expressions. Stunned stupid for a moment, he sat and wondered what the fuck was going on.

Only moments later would he see for himself. Jasper came barreling in and turned the television on, raking his hand through his now-growing-back hair, muttering expletive after expletive under his breath. Edward would never remember if those damn insurance papers ever got filed or if they even grew legs and walked away on their own because suddenly whether or not he had dental insurance was stupidest fucking thing he could have possibly been worried about that day. The towers were falling. How, though? How could this happen? Then he saw them. The news channeled played it over and over again and still he sat his stupid ass at that lunch table and rocked back and forth trying to figure out what had caused this. Why were all these people going to die? The planes. That's why. That's why there were people jumping from their windows. That's why there were people running through the streets. That's why the sirens were deafening right outside. Planes had crashed. Planes had brought the towers down.

"What fucking idiotic bastards!" his usually calm-tempered friend belted out, slamming his fist into the refrigerator. "What the fuck did those pilots think they were doing?"

"Maybe there was an air-traffic control..."

"No, Edward. They did this on purpose! Look at them. They planned this!"

"Why? Why would they plan this?" Edward asked numbly.

Then they're saying something crazy. Crazier than pilots losing their minds. It was a terrorist attack. His stomach dropped as they threw names around like Osama Bin Laden. What the fuck was happening? "We're going to war, Eddie. We're fucking going. This is it. I know it..."

As Jasper rambled on, Edward left him to walk outside, and realized he could see smoke from where he was standing. Ash was falling. He was standing in the middle of the city and ashes were falling. As the men he worked with gathered around and used other people's cell phones, he could only stare up at the smoke. A shudder ran through him as an ambulance flew down the street, followed by three police cruisers and a firetruck...from...Jersey? What the fuck was happening? There were no other cars on the road anymore. There were people, though. He'd never seen anything like it in a city where you could walk past the same people everyday of your life and never know their names the day you died; now there were people holding onto each other for dear life.

Edward only knew how long he stood there because weeks later he would see a time line of what had gone down. It was about twenty minutes because Jasper came back out and grabbed him. "Another plane was hijacked. This isn't over. Oh, God, this isn't over." When a third cop went by, a shattering thought slammed into him. Officer Charlie Swan is there in all that mess. Jasper continues, "They say there was an attack on the Pentagon..."

Finally, after almost forty-five minutes from the original shock, Edward was able to react. "Bella. I have to call Bella. Oh, God, what if she's hurt? My mom has Zachary. What if they were down there? What if they were just fucking out for a walk...or going to breakfast? My son..."

"Hey!" Jasper yelled over to a friend of theirs. "Can we use your phone when Nick's done? Eddie needs to call his wife. You know, check on his son and all?"

"Absolutely, man. I can't fucking believe this..."

"What do we do? Do we go down there?" The guys were all talking out of turn, confusion and dazed expressions apparent.

"I'm sure they called in the Guard," Edward replied, feeling just as useless and confused as they did. "We're a military company. Shouldn't someone inside know what to do?"

"The big boss isn't in yet this morning. We should be at home, waiting for a call or something..."

Edward took the phone from Nick and called Bella. She was hysterical, asking if he saw the people jumping out the windows. Tears ran down his face in front of five other men as he wept into the phone just from hearing her voice and not knowing how to comfort her. "Edward, I don't know what to do. Zach's at your mom's and my dad is...oh, God, he's there. He's in that mess..."

"Baby, please, please breathe. You need to take care of yourself right now. This isn't good for the baby."

Edward realized he'd just blurted out the big secret to any of the guys who were un-shocked enough to have noticed it. Jasper in particular raised an eyebrow. No one knew that Bella was a month and a half pregnant again. They were the only two until now. "Bella, listen to me. Leave everything there and get out of the apartment. I'm on my way and we'll go to my mom and dad's and get Zachary. I love you, baby. I love you."

"Be careful. I don't know that you'll be able to get here. Some streets are blocked."

"Just stay safe. If the air is too thick, stay inside but get to the bottom floor. We have to get out of the city."

"Bella's pregnant again?" Jasper asked in surprise as soon as Edward hung up.

"Yeah. About a month and half. We just found out a couple days ago."


"I know. If you're right about war, I'm going to be missing out on a lot."

After a quick call to Esme to check in and let her know he was on his way, he waited until Jasper called Alice and then Rosalie. Alice was thankfully on a trip to Pittsburgh and Rosalie was at Emmett's parents outside of the city at the farmhouse. When Jasper looked over at Edward and asked where he was parked, Edward just shook his head and frowned. "We're going to have to walk. I'll call Carlisle when we get closer to the apartment. Hopefully he can pick all three of us up."

That day was long, tiring, and it only got worse. They'd had to walk miles before Edward found a random person in the street and borrowed their phone. He called Carlisle to just pick up Bella and asked if Carlisle could pick them up a couple more blocks down. He didn't want Bella waiting outside much longer. The air was thicker than before. They didn't need a cell phone to get the latest news minute by minute. People lining the streets were talking to each other. Fires at The Mall in DC were false but Flight 93 in Shanksville, PA had gone down.

As soon as Jasper heard PA, he had panicked. They had to stop again and find someone else with a phone so he could call and check on Alice in Pittsburgh. She was shaken up but okay. Her little fashion class had flown but they would be grounded for a while, for the first time ever, there were absolutely no planes in the sky due to an unplanned situation. Before, it had always been about military drills. They also heard news of evacuations, which gave him hope because he knew they had to keep roads open to do that.

What seemed like hours later, when they finally flagged down Carlisle, Bella threw the door open and ran in a dead sprint to his arms. "My dad's there. My dad's there!"

Edward held her while she screamed and managed to get her into the car. He told Jasper to get in the front while he stayed with her, smoothing her hair and kissing her forehead. He wanted to pull her into his lap but knew she was safer with a seat belt on. She managed to calm down some by the time they arrived to his parents and he was glad. Zachary seemed on edge and fussy. Bella just held onto their son for dear life, watching news report after news report of what was going on while Edward and Jasper called Emmett and discussed what would happen next.

Unwilling to return to the city, they all slept at Esme and Carlisle's after taking Jasper to the Hale's and picking at a dinner Esme cooked for them. When there was no word from Bella's father late that night, they all became sick with fear. Thankfully, the attacks seemed to be over but he sure as hell was not returning to the city that night. The next day, they got the news that nearly killed his wife, threw Edward into an angry rage, and took away any chance of Zachary getting to see his grandfather again. Charlie Swan was only one of twenty-three members of the NYPD who were killed that day. About ten thirty that morning, when the North Tower fell, Charlie had been standing in the impact zone trying to help people out of the building. The men who served with her father and the general public were phenomenal and there for Bella. One of her father's closer friends even brought over coloring books, crayons, juice, candy, board books, and outdoor toys for Zachary.

There were a lot of emotions running through his family during that time that was difficult time for every American. Absolute devastation, fear, frustration, and inconsolable sadness all led to the only emotion he had left as they buried his father-in-law. Absolute, seeing red, anger. He wasn't alone. Emmett and Jasper, as well as the other guys he trained with, were ready for a fight. This was their city, their families, their lives that were shattered and they wanted blood.

In the weeks that would follow, phone calls would be made, meetings would be held where Edward worked, and they'd learn from Emmett what they weren't learning from their own superiors. They were going to war. They were leaving in a couple weeks. There was no promise on when...or even if...they would return. After deeming it safe to return to their apartment, they had only been there a few nights before Edward had gotten the news. Bella had stayed home from the bookstore, morning sickness having hit her hard, and he had still taken Zachary to his parents so she could rest. First, she had lost her mother, then her father, and now he had more news to tell her.

"I'm awake," she said softly, her eyes closed but her hand was gently running over her abdomen.

Of course, his Bella wasn't stupid. While she knew he didn't want to leave her or his little ones, he had been ready to fight this rumored fight for what felt like months. It was hard to believe how recently these devastating events had occurred. It felt like there was no way in hell that there could be that much tragedy in just a few short weeks. Still, that was the reality of it.

As he sat down on the bed beside her, she opened her eyes and crawled over beside him. Throwing her legs over his the way she always did, and the way he usually moved them because it was uncomfortable, she put an arm around him and rested her head on his shoulder. "When?"

He swallowed hard, tears threatening to spill but if he lost it, they both would. "October second." He could already feel his shoulder dampening from her tears.

"That's so soon," she whispered, digging her head into his neck now, as if that would make him always remain closer.

"I know. There are some things we need to talk about."

She swallowed hard before jumping up and running for the bathroom. He held her hair back and tried to calm her. She was starting to sob and when you were vomiting that was the last thing you wanted to do. Only after she had composed herself, brushed her teeth, washed her face, and come back out to join him did she nod with a new, hardened resolve. "Okay. I'm ready."

"Bella, I know you probably want to stay here. I know how independent you are but I'd like for you to take Zachary and go stay with my parents. I know they'd love to have you're going to need the help..." he couldn't say what he wanted.

His Bella finished it for him. "Because you probably won't be here when the baby comes."

He nodded, taking her hand. "It's not just that, though. I'd feel so much better if you were somewhere safer at night. I don't like thinking of you here all by yourself in the city."

"Will we have money coming in?"

"Yes, while I'm gone, my checks will still come regularly and we'll meet with a lawyer, assign you as my Power Of Attorney. You'll make all my financial decisions...and medical ones."

"Edward..." she began, holding up her hand as if she couldn't take where their conversation was going.

"I just want you to know that I'm going to do everything in my power to make it back here to meet our new baby and be here for all three of you, but if something were to happen you'll be okay. The life insurance policies..."

"Oh, God..."

"Bella, this needs to be said..."

"I don't care about the money! I just want you!"

"You'll always have me, Bella." Edward couldn't help it, he was crying now to. "I'll always be here. In some way, I'll always be here with all of you."

"I lost my mom and my dad and now..."

The fire burned in him again. The one that made him angry when he thought of what happened to his country...his family. "Think about your dad, baby. Think about it. Do you want to live in a world where Zachary is in danger of facing the same fate when he's only three, four...ten? Our country can't let this happen again. We have to make a point to let anyone else out there who means us harm know that they shouldn't dare even think it; that we will stop at nothing to protect and...avenge...what's ours."

After they both just held onto each other and cried for a while, after he pulled her shirt up and whispered promises of always loving the tiny baby inside of her no matter what, after a very intense physical and sexual session, they were both spent and ready to go pick up their well as break the news to his parents. They decided to not only tell them about his deployment but also about their new grandchild. Esme was going to fall apart. Carlisle was going to put on a brave face and offer for Bella to come stay with them because it was the right thing to do. He knew his parents and he would realize within the hour that he'd predicted their reactions to a tee.

As they kissed one last time before heading down to the car, Bella pulled him into her and stood on her tip-toes. "I've never been more proud of anyone in my entire life than I am of you right now. I'm terrified and I can't accept that something could happen to you but I'm so damn proud, Edward. Cullen."

April 3, 2003

Seeing familiar landmarks from his childhood and remembering what it was like on that day Isabella Marie Cullen had kissed him deeply and sent him on his way after he kissed his son and ruffled his hair, telling him to keep an eye on his mommy, Edward became more and more anxious. In his duffel was a correspondence from Bella that was sent nearly a year ago. It was a picture of his newborn daughter, Cadence Renee Cullen, dressed in a tiny pink camo onesie with the words 'Daddy's Little Soldier' on the front. The letter inside informed him of her safe delivery and Bella's ecstatic joy. It talked about Zachary's slight jealousy and fierce protectiveness of her. It mentioned the baby's 'Edward-green' eyes as Bella always called the color of his own. It even specified that Bella had brought her new bundle of joy home to his parents' house in that little outfit.

More than anything, though, it spoke of how much she missed him yet how much she was proud of him. There were even a couple drawings from Zachary included, though he didn't have much clue as to what they were supposed to be of, he had every line and color engraved in his memory. A couple pictures of Zachary bent over the table, biting his lip like Bella always did, and drawing them were even more precious. Due to confidentiality and a lot of movement, Edward had a hard time getting letters that Bella sent him. He tried to write her every couple days, even though they weren't in response to hers, just so she knew he was okay and thinking of her. He was ecstatic that the particular letter and pictures he loved had arrived to him safely and in a timely manner.

As he saw the large building that his family would be waiting for him in, he glanced over at Emmett and saw that the big guy had tears of joy on his face. He and Rosalie were getting married on the fourth and he'd been waiting for it for years...the deployment only making it longer. Jasper was bouncing his leg nervously as he balanced a tiny, royal purple box on his knee. He was asking his own high school sweetheart to marry him the second he could pry himself away from her long enough to do it. He'd plan to ask her, he'd bought the ring before they were sent out, and he'd carried it in his pocket everywhere he went-supposedly it brought him good luck.

All three of them were still alive, all limbs worked, all digits still accounted for, and they were horny as hell. For the first time in their lives, though, it wasn't about getting down to do the dirty with their women like they'd secretly talked about wanting to do in middle school, as they'd discussed in high school, and as they joked about it over the past eighteen months. They were coming home to families. That was all that mattered.

When they pulled up to the building, that's when he saw them. So many people lined the sidewalks, the outside of the building, there were people everywhere. "We're home! Boys, we're fucking home!" a voice boomed from behind him. Every man on board jumped up to get a better look out the same side of the bus windows where their friends and families were waiting. While Emmett had pulled a cross from under his shirt and kissed it, Jasper kissed the little box and patted Edward on the shoulder. Edward tried to focus more on the feeling of celebration but only worried. Bella was small and would have two small children with her. There were so, so many people out there. What if he couldn't find her?

"There! Ally!" Jasper was yelling out the open window. Edward looked over to see Alice kiss her palm and throw the kiss to Jasper, holding her hand out as if she could touch him from where she stood outside, there were tears on her face. That's when Edward finally saw the only people he cared to see. If they were the only ones to show up, he would have been okay with it. Unlike Alice, Bella seemed oblivious to where he was located and her big, brown eyes were wide, searching, and seemingly scared. If he hadn't been absolutely in love with her his entire life, he would have fallen at that moment all over again. He couldn't see the little baby that was obviously wrapped up in the pink blanket

The bus came to a stop and the boys filed out. Camera crews were everywhere. People were holding little American flags and congratulating each man as he came off the bus. Not knowing if it was rude, and not really caring, Edward headed straight to where his family was. As soon as he managed to make eye contact with Bella, it was like every bit of breath rushed from her body in a deep exhale and tears began to fall. A smile he'd never seen from her before, except maybe when Zachary was born lit up her face. It wasn't her, though, that sprang into action. It wasn't even him. A little, bronze-haired boy let out what reminded him of a battle cry and took off around Bella, arms open, straight to him. "Daddy! You home! Mommy had baby!"

The little boy clung to him and Edward held on tightly, carrying him over to where Bella and his parents were. His mom was crying and his father was standing tall and proud. Everything happened in slow motion then, with Zachary on his one arm, he pulled his Bella and the new baby towards him with the other one. He let go of her long enough to move the blanket away from his daughter's face so he could get a good look at her. A picture that made it into the paper a week later would show that awe-inspired face he had made when he saw his daughter for the first time in her life. She was beautiful with Bella's face but his eyes and a little fluff of hair.

When he was able to break away from the sight of his daughter, he put his arm back around Bella and kissed her deeper than ever before. Their tears were mixing together as she sobbed into his kiss. "I can't believe you're finally here," she gushed when he stepped back and she responded by putting her forehead into his chest, as if willing him not to break contact with her. Esme jumped in seconds later and Edward kissed her and pulled her in for a hug that she was unwilling to end. Carlisle shook his hand at first but then shook his head as if that wasn't enough and pulled Edward into a tight hug. "Thank you, son. I'm so damn proud of you. We all are."

"We pwoud!" Zachary yelled in excitement from his position on Edward's arm.

"We're very proud," Rosalie said from behind him as she took his other arm and pulled him in for a hug. "Wait until you see Bell's in her bridesmaid dress. You can thank me then. Welcome home, best man."

Just as Bella finished hugging Emmett and showing him their daughter, Bella looked to Edward, "Want to hold your little girl, daddy?"

Without hesitation, he shifted Zachary a little and took his daughter as well. The grounding feeling was like nothing else. A shriek made him tighten his grasp and he looked at Emmett with a smirk when they realized it had come a few feet away from Alice. "Well it's about time he finally quit kissing her and actually did the deed," Emmett chuckled.

A couple minutes later, while he was just about to head over and pick up his bags, Alice came running over and threw her arms around Emmett. Once Edward handed over the baby to Bella again, Alice flung herself at him. Then, ruffling Zachary's hair, she told him to get good practice during Aunt Rosie's wedding because he had to be an expert for hers at being ring bearer. As the girls all leaned into each other and watched the boys collect their things, Bella began to laugh as Edward still refused to put down his son, and Zachary didn't seem willing to let him. When Edward pulled his huge duffel from under the bus, he set Zachary on top of it and pulled him back over to Bella. As he pulled his son and his bag, while wrapping his arm around Bella, and feeling his parents grab onto each arm as though they needed to know that he was truly, physically there, he realized just how lucky he was.

Back home, Esme had made his favorite foods and they were all sitting on the table waiting to be eaten. Leaving his digitals on, he held onto Cadence and Bella made him up a plate. He had made it clear in the car that he didn't want to talk about what his life had been like for the past year and a half because he wasn't ready yet. He was still trying to get used to the feeling of safety and stability that being with his family brought him. They settled in, eating and talking about how things had been back home. Bella told him about the day she delivered Cadence, with the help of Esme, Rosalie, and Alice. They talked about Carlisle's recent promotion, Esme's new charity project, and the booming business at the bookstore where Bella still worked.

When it was time to get the kids down for bed, he helped Bella bathe Zachy, as Bella had nicknamed him, and he even fed Cadence a bottle while having the opportunity to rock her to sleep. She was capable of holding the bottle herself now but every night Bella would rock her to sleep while feeding her. When he finally convince Zachy that he'd be there the next day, that he wasn't going anywhere, the little boy fell asleep with a smile on his face, clutching his G.I. Joe doll.

"He thinks it's you," Bella said quietly, watching them from the doorway.


"G.I. Joe," she smiled, as Edward came towards her and closed the door to Zachary's room. "He's convinced that doll was made because it's who you are. He tells people that."

Edward just laughed and pulled her into him. "Too bad we don't have that apartment to get away parents are right in the next room..."

"We aren't staying here," Bella matter-of-factly as she pulled away and headed into his childhood bedroom.


"Grab whatever you need for the night. We'll be back in the morning."

"What are you talking about?"

"Trust me."

When they pulled up in front of a hotel a few blocks away, Edward knew exactly where this night was leading. "You owe me a year and half of earth-shattering orgasms. I'm a screamer. That's not exactly the best thing when we're at your parents' house."

Edward just grinned as they were checked in and the manager came out from behind the desk to shake Edward's hand. It took him a minute to realize he was in his uniform still, or at least the light green shirt and digital pants. "If you two need anything at all, please just ring the front desk and we will do what we can."

The elevator ride was nearly too much, as they had started kissing and there was definitely some groping happening that would have embarrassed the hell out of anyone the door would have opened for unexpectedly. Edward and Bella, though, wouldn't have even noticed that they had an audience. If there was a clown juggling tennis balls sitting in the middle of the hotel room, Edward wouldn't have fucking noticed that either. As was usual for these situations, he wanted it to be sweet and romantic for her but soon realized neither of them were into that sort of thing at the moment. They came through the door, she slammed him back against it, and away they went.

She jumped as he lifted her hips and wrapped her legs around his waist. His erection was dying to be freed and when he reached down to unzip himself, his hand sneaking under her skirt to where there bodies met, his hand brushed soft curls. She. wasn't. wearing. panties. He let out a moan of sheer thankfulness and pulled himself free of his pants. About to reach down and make sure she was wet enough for him, she literally grabbed his biceps, pulled herself up a little, and took him inside of her.

If it wasn't for the fact that it could hurt her, his legs would have buckled under them. He kissed her neck, sucking and licking as he did so. When she tired herself out from the pull and push down routine, he cupped her ass with both hands and slid her up and down his length as her nails scored his shoulders and her lips met his. Unable to hold out, he let out a strangled sentence, which was meant to tell her he couldn't last, but he knew it made no sense. It didn't have to. He felt her squeeze him from the inside and he poured everything he had into her.

When they were done, he carried her to the bed and laid her across it. They had yet to lose any clothes and the only bit of skin showing that wasn't before was his dick-which was ready to go again. Bella stroked him, not caring that her wetness was coating his length, and he just reveled in the feeling. When she seemed to grow tired of it, he noticed she was staring at his arms and he laughed.

"See something you like, love?"

"You're huge," she blushed. "I mean...your arms and shoulders are bigger than when you left.,,"

She pulled his shirt from where it was tucked into his pants and he leaned up so she could pull it off. Feeling her run her fingers along the deep ridges made by his abs was the most sensual feeling in the world...until she kissed those places with his member back in her hand. He almost lost it right there. He hadn't been touched by a woman since he'd left her...except for a physical given by a fifty year old female doctor who was a little rougher than she really needed to be.

As if Bella knew what was going through his mind, she asked quietly, "Were there other...girls? I know I shouldn't even ask, that I understand that you were there and I was over here...I just need to know... It won't change that I love..."

Removing her hand from his shaft, he kissed her forehead. "No. There was one place, kind of like a strip club we stopped in once. I left before half of the other guys because that was one of the days that I got a letter from you and I hadn't gotten the chance all day to read it. It was the letter that told me about you helping Esme garden and that you wanted to have your own little garden someday. I've not touched a woman since I left you. You're the only one."

Tears fell and she tried to wipe them away quickly. "It was so hard being away from you..."

He couldn't even believe he was asking the next question. "Were there ever any...guys..."

"No! Never! You took this when we were seventeen," she said, motioning to the area between her legs, "and you're the only man that ever will. It was just hard with going through pregnancy and labor and taking care of both of them. Your parents helped a lot but I didn't want to burden them."

"Speaking of pregnancy, and our record for the unexpected, should I not care that I wasn't wearing a condom a few minutes ago or are we on our way to pleasant surprise number three?"

Bella laughed a good bit at that, before wiping tears away again. "No. I actually went on birth control a few months ago when we found out your return date. I wanted to be ready for you and I'm not ready for any more pleasant surprises right least not yet."

"Another one?" Edward asked, slightly shocked but accepting of it.

"I don't know. Maybe. the future."

"Our children our pretty amazing," Edward said cockily, cracking his knuckles. Then getting serious, he said, "I'm surprised Zachary remembers me so well."

"I've shown him pictures of you every day since you left. Before bed we'd read a bedtime story just for you. He always had an active part in the letters I wrote to you and when letters came from you, I showed him that I could. I wasn't letting him forget you. I talked to Cadence about you, too, but she's too little yet."

"Come here, baby. I've missed you so much..."

"Ready for round two?"

"I want to use the restroom real quick but I'll be right back."

When he came back, he nearly passed out in adoration. While her eyes traveled up his covered legs, up over those abs she loved so much and then up to his face, it wasn't lost on him that she was doing so as she looked out between her own legs. Her shirt and bra were on the floor as was her skirt. The only things on her body were her black stilettos. That lean, tanned-from-summer body lay sprawled out in welcoming to him. Lazily, he stalked predatorily over to her. "A year and a half's worth, baby?"

"Mhmm..." she practically purred.

"I guess we better keep this going, then. Check-outs in twelve hours..."

July 4, 2003

Though it was a Friday evening instead of your typical Saturday, Emmett and Rosalie's wedding went off without a hitch. Zachary pulled Cadence down the aisle as he wore his little tux towards the best man. Instead of in a wagon, though, Rosalie had suggested they let him pull her down in one of Emmett's cleaned-up government issued duffel bags. It was adorable. The groomsmen, who were only the groom and Edward and Emmett, wore their uniforms. The girls wore a light yellow, tight fitting, high-slitted dress. Each girl had their hair in a side-pony with a bright yellow flower tucked into it. Bella looked breathtaking. All day he remembered their own wedding, of which they'd just celebrated the anniversary of a few days ago.

When the large ceremony was over, everyone went back to Emmett's parents' house for a large, outdoor barbecue. Jasper was in his hay-day helping to roast a pig and Zachary was in absolute awe when he got to help the guys cut it apart for the guests to eat. There was also the usual DJ, cake, and other foods that were just as delicious. Cadence had celebrated her one year birthday in May and was crawling around in the grass like a pro. Every time she'd pull herself up onto a chair to stand, Edward couldn't quit watching, waiting to see if it would lead to her first steps.

As things wound down for the night and Rose and Em thanked everyone, a fireworks display from somewhere in the distance began. Holding Zachary up on his shoulders, Edward stood behind Bella who was leaning into him and holding Cadence. He could remember being in the same spot, absolutely terrified just a few short years ago, when Bella had told him what he thought would be the scariest news he'd ever received, that he was going to be a father at the age of eighteen. Now he knew that it was nothing compared to what they had to face after that bundle of joy was born.

He regretted nothing. He was proud of his family and was unafraid to admit that he'd been a father at a young age, that his wife was just now getting her degree in Elementary Education after all of these years, that neither of his beautiful children had exactly been planned, and that he had fought in a war that some people hated him for. Almost two years ago, his entire life was shaken, flipped upside down. Only, it wasn't just his life but his whole country. In his eyes, what he and his fellow soldiers had gone through had been done not in vain but to get retribution for what was taken from them. Seeing Zachary look down at him in proud wonderment instead of up at the fireworks was the only affirmation he needed that he had done the right thing.

I hope you all loved it and I'm sure some of you were kind of emotional while reading this. I wanted to publish this on Sept. 11th for obvious reasons but also because I think a lot of people forget...or don't realize they impact this event had on so many people. I ask that you keep those who have passed away and their families, as well as the people still struggling with those events, in your prayers. Leave me some love if you're so inclined. :) I'll never forget where I was that day-in a seventh grade social studies classroom. I only live about 45 mins from Shanksville so this event was very scary to me as an eleven year old child. I hope you enjoyed it. Love, Letzy xx