AN: This is the final chapter before the epilogue.

Thank you for your reading!

Big thanks to RFM86 for pre-reading and mauigirl60 for being my beta.

No disclaimer, just enjoy.

Chapter 20 A Kiss to Build a Dream On

A kiss.

It's really just a simple expression of feelings - just a slight touch of one person's lips on another's to show their emotions.

That night was a whole different bag of chips. Nothing was simple anymore. There wasn't a valiant prince rescuing his damsel in distress. It was just a girl with a gift she couldn't control, who desperately needed to save another girl. Alice was her closest friend and sister by heart, so Bella hoped and prayed and put all of her love into a soft kiss onto Alice's cool lips.

Nothing happened.

Bella's warm tears dropped like rain onto Alice's face. The wetness pooled on the silent girl's pale skin. So much death. So much carnage. Bella Swan felt like a failure of epic proportions.

Rosalie had just finished untying the unconscious Angela and looked over at Bella, seeing her suffering. The whole room was in chaos. Edward was bandaging the injured alongside Aro. Garrett and Kate were trying to calm the now-lucid parishioners who were presently panicking. Victoria was holding a shivering Jane. A devastated Harry clung to Leah's lifeless body.

Rosalie swallowed the anguish filling her gut.

Standing close by, Jared was bandaging his arm. Rose called out, "Umm...Mr. Bear?"

She'd watched him turn into a magnificent white bear earlier that evening and was taken by his beauty. The man smiling softly at her now, even though he was battered and bruised, was even more handsome than she previously remembered. He said quietly, "My name is Jared, Miss Hale."

He was equally as taken by the brave and lovely young woman standing before him.

She blushed. "Could you help me with Angela?"

He came up to her and brushed a hand over Angela's forehead. "Poor girl. Should I take her over to Aro?"

"Please." Rosalie took his hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. She felt fireworks as their skin touched.

Rosalie turned to the weeping Bella. She wrapped her arms around her and tried leading her away. "You tried your best. Let's go over by Edward. There's a lot of injured to take care of."

"I'm broken. I can't fix anyone!" Bella stated in anguish, as Rosalie led her toward Edward. "I couldn't save her!"

Jane gasped and pointed over at the tables.

Bella spun around and was amazed at the sight of Alice sitting up, grimacing. She was clutching her stomach.

"Alice!" Bella ran back over to her friend and hugged her tightly.

"Bella!" Alice gasped. "Too...too tight! Why...do I feel...like I got stabbed?"

"Because you were stabbed!" Bella stroked her friend's hair.

"That makes...sense. This really...hurts...like a bitch!" Alice exclaimed. Bella wanted to smile at Alice's potty mouth. She was definitely in pain. "Jasper? Angela?"

"Both alive." Bella looked over to where Angela was awake and staring at Aro with a look of confusion. She was lucky to come out of this physically fine, but it was the emotional toll that worried Bella.

Jasper was limping and being led over to Alice by a stranger. Bella looked at the man and swiftly grabbed her axe off the floor. "You're one of them!"

Alice grabbed her arm. "No, Bella! Jamie... tried to help me as much as he could. They were... threatening his child."

Victoria walked up slowly. "Put the weapon down, killer. This guy fought with us."

Bella couldn't help but notice the smile on Victoria's face, as she looked at the man. This was a war zone and not speed dating.

Jasper hugged Alice. "Baby, you're alive! I love you so much!"

"I love you, Jasper! Oww! Not... so tight!"

Bella grabbed Victoria's arm, as the couple started kissing. "Let's give them a moment of privacy."

"The sounds of sappy mumblings and lip smacking of a couple after almost facing annihilation – it's gross, but somewhat fitting," Victoria stated. "Damn it, Polly! Stop watching and you better quit threatening to throw your head at me!"

Bella stopped moving, making Victoria stumble. "You can still see her?"

"Unfortunately. I also have a feeling if you laid your paws on one of these bloody masses, they'll be feeling better in a jiffy." Victoria shouted at Edward, "Idiot, your girl and I have a question!"

Edward ran up and grabbed Bella's face. "You were magnificent!"

"Emmett..."

"Good riddance!" He kissed her. "You saved me!"

Victoria pulled him away. "Save the gooey eyes and lip smacking for later. Do you want to suck my blood, Vlad?"

"God, no!" The thought of blood now made him want to gag. Unfortunately, it was all around him at the moment.

"Kate?" Victoria called out. Kate was trying to help one of the tribe's youngest members bandage his leg. "You want to eat that kid?"

"Nope!" Kate gave the nervous boy a reassuring smile.

Victoria tapped her chin. "It seems we've kept our witchy powers, but the Lost Boys and Girl are human again."

"You think we're witches?" Bella asked, as Aro came up.

"I do," he answered. "Our powers are of that nature. Will we ever really have to use them again? I pray not."

Garrett came up with a police officer who Bella remembered had once worked for her father. "We concocted a plan to cover up this whole mess."

Bella gently touched a dripping wound coming from his head. "Oh, Garrett! You need to get that taken care of!"

"After we take care of this; Deputy Harris had an idea," Garrett said.

"Hey, Bella, I'm sorry about your dad. We really screwed up when looking for his killers," Deputy Jeff Harris apologized.

Jeff Harris was a good, God-fearing man. The things he'd seen this night made him question the way he'd blindly followed Benjamin Cheney. That man was no messenger of God. He was a monster who allowed his friends to devour Hal, the acting Chief of Police. Jeff wished that this was only a dream, but he wasn't that lucky.

Bella crossed her arms. "Seth Clearwater is innocent."

"I know that now, Bella. We can get him freed. I'll tell the proper authorities that Mr. Clearwater was set up by the gang," Jeff explained. "We can say that there was a retreat here and the men came to rob the participants. A fire was started and some people died. That way we can get the injured to the hospital and have a cover story."

Aro took in the man's pained expression. He patted his shoulder. "I know that was a hard decision, Deputy. It's the best choice. No one will believe what happened here. It's all too unbelievable."

"Damned straight it is," Jeff agreed, rubbing his neck. "Who would ever believe a bunch of vampires, werewolves and zombies were having a party? We'd all be in the loony bin!"

Edward took Bella's hand. Her eyes were too dim. "Should we start moving the injured outside?"

"Yes," Aro directed. "We need to make sure that we move them far enough away from the building when Jane starts the inferno. We already have enough injuries to deal with from before."

Harry Clearwater suddenly let out a cry of anguish at the pain of his child having to not only endure Sam's ruthlessness, but being murdered by the beast.

"No! I won't leave her here to burn with them! Not my baby!"

Victoria rushed over and put her arm around him. "Harry, she's not going to burn with them. She's happy! I promise!"

"Let me talk to her!" Harry was a desperate man as he clutched at Victoria. "I beg of you!"

"She left with Flopping Pigeon. They went off into the air, hand-in-hand," Victoria explained. It was beautiful and even softened Victoria's hardened heart.

"Jake?" Bella asked quietly.

"He would be the annoying pigeon," Victoria smiled.

Victoria first saw Leah's ghostly image with Polly. The headless girl was trying to be a comfort to the poor young woman. Leah was watching her father with a look of melancholy until Victoria's shirtless annoyance strolled over to the sad-looking woman, taking her chin into his large hand. The kiss he placed upon her face was one of two reunited hearts. It was lovely.

Bella smiled at the thought of the lovers.

Victoria helped Harry stand up and head toward the stairs. It was time to bury the horror.

XXXXXX

Bella was finally in her apartment again after hours of dealing with police and hospital forms. Laurent was awake and holding his Jane, while Lidia remained with the sleeping Charlotte.

A shower had been the first order of business before anything else could distract her.

The stream of hot water hit her body. It burned. She was desperately trying to rid her body of the grit, the grime and the death that seemed caked up on her skin.

A couple of hours earlier, Edward had his arms wrapped around Bella as they watched the flames lighting up the sky, while the cabin burned to the ground.

Bella could hear the fire trucks and ambulance sirens in the distance. It broke up the silence that was making Bella think too much of the death and blood that had filled her existence the past few weeks. "You need to call your parents," she said.

Edward kissed her head. "It can wait."

"But..."

"Wait, it will wait."

Bella shuddered at the sound of a beam dropping into the inferno.

Edward stroked her arm, as she muttered, "Some are off to heaven, some are off to hell."

Bella placed her head against the cool tile of the wall. The contrast to the heated water coursing down her back was somewhat soothing.

All of a sudden, she felt two arms wrapping around her waist.

Bella began screaming.

Edward tried to soothe her as they were hit by the water. "Bella, sweetheart, it's me, Edward! We're safe! We're safe!"

She turned around and placed her hands on his chest, hot tears coming down her face.

"You scared me!"

"I'm so sorry! There's nothing to be scared of anymore. They're all dead. There's only the memories left of tonight and those'll fade too." He kissed her and pressed their wet bodies together. He added, "I thought you were going to wait for me?"

"I needed to think about tonight and what happened," Bella admitted.

"About what?" Edward held her wet face in his hands. Her sorrowful eyes were the key. "There's only moving forward. Our future can begin anew."

"Sins, Edward. I was thinking about my sins."

"You're no sinner," he stated resolutely. He kissed her nose.

Her slippery hands clung onto his shoulders. "I killed tonight. I let people be killed. I'm a sinner of the highest order."

His hands stroked her bare hips. She was a hero. "Ben and Emmett would have killed us all. You saved us."

Her head rested on his chest. "What about Leah, Brady and those countless others? I was able to save Alice, but not them? It makes me selfish and just as much as a monster as Ben and his followers."

It had hit Bella when she watched the last of the fire disappear that her power couldn't help everyone. It was too much to save all the dying and heal all the injured. She saved her beloved Alice, but the rest perished. Isabella Marie Swan was a failure in her own mind.

Edward pulled her head up. The water was slowly chilling, but they didn't seem to notice. "You're only one woman, Isabella Marie. One woman who saved countless lives tonight. We all knew what we were getting into, that there was a chance we weren't all going to be among the living at the end. We willingly made that choice for the common good. You made that same choice. I love you for that."

"I love you, too." She looked into her eyes and was grounded in the love he felt for her.

Edward kissed her over and over again. His fingers dipped into her folds and his mouth caressed her breasts. He needed her to feel worshipped and loved. He needed her to know for certain that she was worth believing in herself again.

Bella's body was tingling with the heat of his ministrations. She was mentally healing through his touch. Her body was a frenzy of need, want and the feeling that she was finally forgiving herself.

"I need...I need you inside me," she whispered into his neck. She looked up into his smiling face. "I'm only whole with us joined."

As the water beat down, Edward hitched her legs around his waist and entered her with purpose. Against the wall, he pushed into her slowly. Their eyes never left each other's.

Bella had a quick memory of the last time they'd had sex against a wall, when they were reunited again. It had been angry and bitter. This, in contrast, was a pure expression of their love. This was everything.

They kept up their steady pace. The heat of their bodies warmed the gradually cooling water. He whispered, "Are you ready?"

"Always and forever," she gasped, as the feelings and emotions overcame her trembling body.

He followed quickly after.

It was hours later, as the lovers clung to each other in twisted sheets, that Edward had a question.

A question that couldn't wait.

"Can I make an honest woman out of you, Miss Swan?"

She grinned and gave him a kiss. "I'm in!"

Bella had finally found her happily-ever-after.