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Grim Reaper's Release

Summary:
When the gruesome murder of a pastor is mysteriously caught on tape, what will happen to the vampire race? Suddenly, the world knows about vampires. The Cullens need to get out of Forks. And fast. But what will happen when the Volturi wants to interfere? Or the Southern Armies? And, more importantly, who are these strange vampire twins? Photobucket


Notes:
...I've been away for a seriously long time, haven't I? O.O

Well, I'm back with a new story and I still haven't decided if I should continue my other stories. A lot's been happening in my life and I'm sure my feelings on all of my other stories have changed drastically. Anyway, this is just an idea that's been floating around my head for probably a year now but I've never really developed it into more than just a smidge of an idea.

Just a few warnings before I continue: This story is seriously...morbid. It's not really a good story at all. There's violence, world domination, chaos, and the world kind of goes insane...but it has a happy ending! Promise!

Also, the chapters are gonna be really long on this. Like, seriously long. It's not that I want to get this done in less chapters or whatever, it's just that in each chapter, a few different character's point of view's on different things need to be included to add other factors of the story. I mean, if I had each new point of view a chapter, we'd probably be up to 50 chapters by the time I get to the middle.

That being said, I guess a few things you should know is that I don't know when I'll be getting new chapters up. I hope, with winter break here, I'll have this story done by the middle of February, maybe? I was planning on having this only 7 chapters at the maximum, but the farther I get into this story, the longer it seems. And, I hope, I'll be getting each chapter up each week. I've already written chapter 2 and 3 but I'm gonna post them weekly.

Next, I seriously need to thank my best mate Kira with this story. She gave me a HUGE idea for it and has been such an amazing supporter of all my stories from the start!

*breathes in relief* Alright, I think that's all for now. Now that I've gotten it all out, go read. I'm sure the story is much more interesting than my babbling. *snort*


37. Grim Reaper's Release

Rating 3.8/5   Word Count 12022   Review this Chapter

Mike's Point of View

"Mike, get the popcorn out of the microwave while you're up!"

I grumbled as I poured myself another cup of Coke in the familiar walls of my kitchen. Couldn't Eric just do it himself? "Why can't you get off your butt and do it? I'm not your butler." I turned and placed the bottle back in the refrigerator, ignoring the creaking of the door as I slammed it shut.

The volume of the television increased from the other room and I rolled my eyes. Ever since the Cullens had (thankfully) been captured, it seemed like every day we would all hang out. The whole Forks gang would find someone's house to stay at, watching the local news and CNN until a new update had been released. Today, unfortunately, had been my day to host my friends.

I walked back into the main room, cup of Coke in one hand and the bag of buttery popcorn in the other. Eric was sitting on the floor, looking up at the television in interest as everyone talked behind him.

"Here's your popcorn," I said bitterly as I dropped the bag next to him. He looked up and smiled.

"Thanks, man. We're about to re-watch the footage from the conference." He pushed several buttons on the bulky remote and I wrinkled my nose. That conference in D.C. had been majorly freaky. I didn't want to have to watch that stuff over again. I had seen Dr. Cullen and even Jacob Black there and they seemed the most normal out of everyone else.

All of the other vampires in the video...yikes. I didn't like the look of them, the unnatural faces and bright hungry eyes. It was too sinister. Too creepy. I couldn't imagine any human being trusting those fiends, let alone the President.

Angela, the usually silent one during these TV-hogging sessions of ours, looked up from her cup of water. "Eric, we've all seen it at least five times. Just leave the news station on."

Eric looked at her with wide brown eyes and then sighed. "Fine." He unexpectedly threw the remote to me and I caught it. "I guess she's right."

I went to sit down next to Jess and noticed she was staring intently out the window, where rain was pelting down against the glass. Definitely different from her usually bubbly attitude. Maybe this vampire stuff really was getting to people. "Hey," I said softly, "what's up?"

She jumped and shot me an apologetic look. "Um...not much." Her eyes strayed on the television screen and I frowned.

"Vampires?" I prodded. She lifted one shoulder and then noticed everyone else was watching her, waiting for an explanation for her odd mood.

"Oh, come on," Lauren sniffed as she reached for a potato chip. "Jess is such an attention whore. There's nothing wrong." Jess looked at her, completely offended, as her face flamed bright red. The action reminded me strongly of Bella but I pushed the thought away.

Bella was...not human anymore. She had joined the Cullens' kinky little cult of being bloodsuckers and, somehow, had a child in the process. I had to constantly remind myself that Bella was no longer the clumsy, shy high school girl that most of the male student body had grown to love. She was now Dracula's wife, basically.

Angela leaned forward and placed her hand on Jess's leg. "I'm sure that's not true," she said without glancing at Lauren's face. "Come on, Jess, you can tell us."

Jess paused, looking around us all with wide eyes and then she stared down at her feet. "Well," she said in a tiny voice and then glanced back up. "Am I the only one a bit concerned about Jasper?"

There was a brief moment of silence in which Lauren snorted, rolled her eyes, and popped a baby carrot in her mouth. I glared at her; of course this topic would affect Lauren. It hadn't been a secret that she had liked Jasper since the first day they all moved to Forks. Her advances on him hadn't exactly been what you'd call ‘subtle'.

But Jess did have a point. As of yet, to the world, Jasper was roaming on his own as an escapist from one of the world's most dangerous buildings. And why wouldn't he come back to Forks? Everything he owned was here. It made sense, even if the government had shipped out all those trained agents to pick apart their mansion and wait for him.

"What do you mean by concerned?" Lauren asked in a nasal voice. "Concerned as in, ‘poor guy, I really feel for him' or scared shitless at the possibility that he may come back here?"

My eyes locked with Ben's and we both rolled our eyes.

Jess bit her lip before looking at Lauren. "Scared," she said with a shaky smile.

I put my arm around her and she looked back over to me. "Don't worry, Jess," I told her, "He's not coming back here. They'll find him. Once this all settles down, they'll catch him and-"

"And what?" She shook her head, her brown curls bouncing. "They can't kill him. So what'll they do? Who's to say he won't kill everyone in Forks? He's a vampire, for crying out loud!" Over the top of her head, I saw Lauren dramatically roll her eyes.

"Jess, chill," she said as she took a swig of Root Beer. "He's lived here for like, what? Four years? If he hasn't massacred the town yet, I don't think he's going to now." She snorted. "You're just being ridiculous. Take it from someone who actually knows the guy."

Tyler suddenly began laughing uncontrollably. "Oh, yeah, because you so know Jasper Hale. Mmhmm, right." He smiled and chuckled a bit more until Lauren grabbed a handful of popcorn and threw it at him.

I ignored them and turned to Jess. "As much as I hate to admit it, Lauren kind of does have a point. They've lived here for quite a bit, Jess. Why would he now suddenly kill us all? If he wanted to kill someone, he would have done it a while ago. Plus, even if he was after someone," I glanced at Lauren who was busy throwing food at Tyler still, "I think he'd go after Lauren. He's gotta have a lot of pent up frustration from all those years she spent pining after him."

Jess stared at me wide eyed, trying to see if I was joking, until I winked. Slowly, her face cracked into a grin and she giggled quietly. "I think you're right on that one," she said as she glanced at Lauren and then snickered some more.

I smiled at her and then looked at Eric as he grunted. He was jamming down the volume button repeatedly with a frustrated look on his face.

"Eric, dude, calm down. You're going to break it." I reached forwards, over the coffee table, to yank it out of his hands but he pointed to the screen.

"Look! I'm just trying to make it louder so I can hear it over your chit chat." He rolled his eyes and finally the sound grew louder as he turned up the volume. We all looked at the screen, confused, as Eric sat there, satisfied with his arms crossed.

"What's going on there?" Lauren muttered as she leaned forward and stared at the screen.

I leaned over my knees and drank some of my untouched Coke. "It looks like a press conference..."

"If you had all just kept your mouths shut," Eric said with a grumble, "we'd know what the hell is going on. But, no, Lauren had to get all territorial over Jasper Hale and Mike has to play superhero of the day and-"

"Eric, shut up," Lauren and I said at the same time. I looked at her in surprise as she glared away from me, her face a mask of disgust. You knew the world was coming to an end when Lauren Mallory and I agreed on something.

On the screen, the President was standing behind a podium with several security agents behind him. Unlike a lot of other press conferences, an audience was absent. It was just the President, speaking calmly into a microphone with a whole receding line of important officials behind him.

Tyler grabbed a chip and said, "Maybe it's-"

"Shh!"

He rolled his eyes and sat back as Eric continued raising the volume until I was sure the next door neighbor's other next door neighbors could hear us. The President looked tired and serious on the screen with exhausted eyes. Even his complexion looked a bit unhealthy, a bit sallow.

"I, along with many other world leaders, have agreed on one thing in these past few hours," he said as he pushed his glasses back up on nose, "We have spoken to the representatives of the vampire and shape shifter race and with their leaders. They have pledged to us their resistance to blood and assure all of us safety from their more animalistic ways. We, the human leaders, have decided to grant them their wish of acceptance and work with them to create a more unified world."

"Holy shit!" Tyler exclaimed and Eric dropped the bag of popcorn as Lauren dropped her jaw.

I placed my cup on the table and sat back, eyes wide, as the President continued to speak. "After centuries of living in the dark, of keeping their existence a secret, we all think it is only fair to give them a chance to prove themselves to us. Already, we have formed what we all think will be a convenient system in which will keep all three leading species of the world safe, content, and comfortable. We hope to initialize this new plan as soon as possible and once I have the official green light from other world leaders, I will share it with you.

"It is now when I, as your President, ask all of my fellow Americans to be tolerating of this new world we are trying to create. Without your help, we won't be able to get this new project of ours up from the ground and into the sky. Of course, I understand your wariness of the vampire species and I don't think any of us expect you to trust them overnight. But, hopefully, in years to come, this species will be thought of as human beings and treated like them, too. I thank you for your time and have confidence that we will all, as a human population, make it through these next trying years."

Then he just clicked off. The screen switched to an intimidating black for about three seconds until it flipped back to the show Eric had playing on CNN where the anchormen looked stunned. Eric turned around on the ground and looked at us, eyes wide.

Jess was shivering slightly next to me and Lauren looked like the wind had been knocked out of her. I noticed Tyler sitting there, staring at the ground and Ben with his arm around a shaken Angela.

"My God," Jess breathed and I closed my mouth.

Eric placed the remote on the table and leaned against it, eyes snapped open. "You know," he said hoarsely, "I have a serious feeling things are about to majorly change in our world." I think we all expected a smart response from Lauren for that one but nothing came. She stayed absolutely silent.

And then Angela laughed quietly. She looked at us and smiled. "Looks like we'll need to bring out our inner Alice Cullen and plan a welcome back party."

We all looked at each other. Oh, hell no. I was so not throwing a block party for that family. What would the refreshments be? Bloody steaks? Gross.

Lauren sniffed and tossed her short hair. "Puh-lease, Angela. You're on your own with that one. I wouldn't be caught dead with those freaks." She paused and her eyes widened. "Uh, not that way...I prefer my blood to be inside of me, not in a champagne flute, thank you."

Angela frowned and bit her lip. "It was just a suggestion." Ben reached over and patted her leg as he reached for his cup of soda.

"Let's just see what happens next, alright? Go with the flow and watch," he said and I nodded.

"Sounds like a plan to me," I agreed and Jess nodded. Eric shrugged and began playing a game on his cell phone as Tyler said something through a mouthful of food. Lauren looked between all of us before lifting one shoulder and making a face.

Angela sighed and stared at the screen before nodding. "Fine by me," she murmured.

Six Hours Later

Maria's Point of View

"I won't do it," I told Eve for the tenth time from across the table. She looked back at me, her eyes narrowed frigidly, and I shook my head. "They belong with me. I created them. How dare you go in there and promise them all that I'll let the army go?" When the words had left her and Adam's mouths in that infuriating conference, my iced blood had boiled. They couldn't just separate the army from me. It'd be a cold day in hell when I would ever even contemplate that idea.

I would put up a fight if I had to.

Suddenly, Eve laughed. Her mouth opened and she giggled quietly. "Maria, dear, do not even joke about fighting us on this issue. I would have thought you, of all people, would know the consequences of that."

I stared at her in absolute outrage before growling in exasperation. "It won't end well, separating them. I'm telling you that right now. When everything backfires and this world goes up in bloody flames from the murders and slaughtering they've done, don't you dare say it is my entire fault."

Her arms crossed in front of her and she sighed quietly. "Can you not trust us on our judgment?"

I paused. She was right; I didn't trust her or her brother. And I didn't think I ever could. When you looked at her, looked at those abnormal eyes and her pearlized complexion, it was evident she was the most different of us all. I had gone my whole existence not trusting anyone; how could I suddenly flip that switch and give her all of my loyalty?

"I'm not them, Eve," I said as I looked away, towards a barren wall. "I'm not your precious Eerste or Regeer. I never will be, so stop pretending I am. I am Maria, practically the Queen of the entire Southern territory and I won't stand for your ridiculous actions."

There was an incredible amount of pure anger that flustered her face for a moment and I almost feared she would strike me. Or something worse. Then she clenched her jaw tightly before waving towards the backdoor. "Go," she commanded stiffly, "Adam wants to see you outside."

I looked at her peculiarly before darting towards the door, leaving her standing along the wall like a dark shadow. The door slammed behind me, creaking against the weak wooden frame, and I stood on the back porch for a moment as I collected my thoughts.

Then I screamed.

"What the hell do you think you are doing?" I flew down the steps, running in Adam's direction. He stood near the front of the yard, hands on his hips and a slightly pinched look to his features. Chester was beside him, glaring at him unkindly and even Jasper was behind the two of them, arms crossed in a rigid position. Spread out before him was my army, split into different subgroups.

They were splitting everyone up. Already. Without even my consent he had marched back here like he owned it and divided everyone up. I snarled as I reached him and he refused to look at me as he scanned the yard. Chester wrapped his hand around my arm and Jasper took a hesitant step closer.

"I cannot believe you!" I spat at Adam. "What makes you think you can waltz back here and do this? This is mine!" I waved my arms towards the frightened crowd. "All of this, all of them - they are mine. Who the hell do you think you are, splitting them up like this?" Chester held me back as I yelled up at him. I could feel the hint of a Spanish accent creep back into my voice, something that often occurred when I was too focused on the meaning of the words I was saying and not the words themselves.

He looked down at me, blonde brows slightly raised, and the cockiest smile on his face that I had ever seen. "Who am I?" Pure amusement colored his tone and he snickered. "I believe the appropriate question is who do you think you are? Who are you to march out here and say these things to me?"

My eyes widened at the same rate that my jaw dropped. I ground my teeth in destructible outrage. Chester's strong hand may have been wrapped around my arm so tightly I could barely move but that didn't mean I couldn't move my other arm. I lurched forward and my free hand moved by itself, rising upwards and then over until slamming directly into his arrogant face.

I didn't know what I had been expecting, slapping the King of vampires in front of more than half of the total vampire population. Maybe I had hoped he would have at least flinched or jerked from the stinging impact or clutched his cheek in slight pain. I had slightly expected some sort of rebuttal, maybe a punch to the face or a kick to the stomach.

I think I would have rather had that then what I received.

He didn't move. Not one muscle in his face twitched in any sign of recognition of what I had just done. My open palm hit his flesh and then it seared in agonizing pain as it hit an immovable force. The long nails that lined my fingers would have dug into the marble flesh if it had been any other vampire but with him, they just scraped against the surface, like nails on a chalkboard.

My hand, now limp from the tenderness, swung back to my side and I stared at the wintry flesh with concerned eyes. The paleness of my skin was gone, replaced by a forming angry red mark, resembling a bright bruise. The edges were darker, like a bluish purple color. A broken sob escaped my lips as I stared at it in severe pain.

Almost immediately, I felt Jasper wrap his hand around my shoulders and steer me backwards as a vicious snarl burst from Chester. I let Jasper tug me back until there was a good eight feet between Adam and I and then Jasper was crouched before me, his cold hand prodding at mine gently. It barely registered that before, I had never thought of Jasper having cold hands. No vampire did to another vampire. But now, his hands created a tingling sensation from the chilled feel of his skin.

Jasper reached down to his shirt and ripped off a large portion of it before wrapping it around my hand. I stared at him in mild surprise and then back to the increasing mark on my hand. Behind me, I heard Chester's growls increase but barely anything from Adam himself.

"What did you do to her?" Chester yelled hoarsely and I flinched from the loud sound. The soldiers were coming closer, staring at us curiously, and I could see the vampires from the front of the house, the ones organized in actual covens, beginning to form a ring around the yard with shocked face. Eve stood on the porch, her hands clutching the railing tightly.

I looked down at Jasper and he glanced upwards with sad eyes. "What...what is it?" I moved some of my fingers and pain shot up through the bones. Jasper tied a small, neat knot on the top, keeping it in place.

"It appears like a burn," he murmured quietly and I cringed from the echoing growl that came from Chester. "Like his flesh burned yours but it's much worse than any human burn I've ever seen. It's like an...an...electrical burn or something."

I turned and looked back at Adam and Chester who were facing off. Chester's whole body was taut with his hands at his sides like great claws. Adam simply stood there, staring at him in contempt. I pushed forward and latched onto Chester's side.

"Come on; it was completely my fault," I whispered to him and noticed as Adam took a small step backwards. "I was the one that started it. I...I deserved it." I bit my lip and mentally grumbled. That wasn't exactly true but if a little white lie was what it took to break up whatever fight was beginning to form, so be it.

Chester began to loosen and he looked down at my bandaged hand and cursed under his breath. I placed my hand on his face and glanced over at Adam. "What did you do?" I lifted my hand in his direction and his orange eyes rolled the slightest.

"Really, you all overreact." He shook his head and walked closer. Chester stiffened and his lip curled. "Oh, shush, you," Adam said and he stopped at my side. He cradled my hand and looked at it with a bored expression. "It will be fine," he promised softly, "Give it a day or two and it will be completely healed. It is only a burn. Nothing too spectacular. Now, before you so rudely slapped me, what is it that you wanted?"

I watched him incredulously and then sharply pulled my hand away and let it fall. His scorching skin was uncomfortable to mine; it reminded me of the shape shifter's blazing flesh but more extreme.

"I want an explanation," I snapped. "What do you think I want? I come out here and see you dividing up my army without even alerting me. What the hell is this?"

He glanced back over his shoulder at the groupings of soldiers and let out a breezy sigh. "Preparation, that is what this is. Once the government comes and goes, they no longer belong to you, Maria. They never really did. The government needs to know where they will be going so I am kindly doing the service of assigning them all new locations."

My lips pursed angrily and I looked at all of my soldiers, huddled together in small covens of eight to ten. They looked nervous and fidgety. They looked lost. Lost without me, I realized. Hardly any of them were ready to go out on their own, to live by themselves in the bloody, temptation-filled world that we lived in. They would perish and give in to the warm blooded humans.

"Have some faith," Adam said almost noiselessly.

I lifted my head and stared at him miserably. "You'll regret this," I told him severely. "When all of them give in, when all of them turn into heartless, hungry beasts, you will wish you had listened to me." I could see it now, imagine the sweet triumph of him begging for forgiveness in years to come when his master plan failed. I wanted that to happen, more than anything.

His eyes flicked between me and the soldiers. "No," he said simply, almost cheerfully. "I do not think I ever will."

I gulped and looked away, staring at Chester's pained expression next to me. I despised defeat, despised admitting of being taken over. I dreaded the oncoming feeling of uselessness and how these two twins, these two legendary figures, had so easily stepped over me and pushed me into the dirt, back where I had come from.

"Go," Adam said, "I will handle this, as I have been for the last hour. I will continue splitting them into smaller covens and then, once the government is gone, you can say your goodbyes."

My injured hand still stung and I bit my lip. The air seemed to swoosh out of me, like a punch to the stomach, and I shook my head. "Fine," I said as I refused to look up at his face. "Do whatever the hell you want. It's obvious you run the whole goddamn place now anyway."

He paused as he turned towards everyone else. I stole a peek up at his face and found his head hanging, his arms wilted. "Possibly, in ten or twelve years, you will thank me for doing this," he muttered. "You will see how much better they are without this lifestyle and you will be gracious for me sending them off."

I seemed to freeze over then as my sight was covered with a hazy red. I clenched my fists, even the one that throbbed in pain, and growled quietly. "Don't hold your breath."

He snorted and then turned completely away as he stalked off, leaving me standing there with Chester as he ordered people here and there into new, smaller covens. I watched him go, weaving through the crowds and directing vampires. He was breaking the final string, cutting the last link.

I felt a cold presence behind me and turned and faced Eve. She wasn't looking at me; her violet eyes were glued to Adam over my head as I continued to hear him kindly guiding soldiers to their new covens.

"What do you want?" I asked unkindly and crossed my arms. Her eyes fell and landed on my face.

"The youngest will be staying with you," she said, dodging my question. "Until we can be sure of their control and resistance to blood, you must keep them here and teach them. Only about fifteen of them will be staying."

I had no response. What could I have said? Accepted this new form of administration? Accepted their movement of coming in and stealing all of this away from me?

"Promise me you will keep their best interests at heart. Promise me you will keep them together with friends and loved ones." It was the least I could do - ensure that mates and friends would be kept together. How awful of a ruler would I have been if I had just let them go without a care in the world?

Eve nodded and then smiled slightly. "Yes, we have already made sure of that. Do not worry, Maria, we have this very tightly under control."

She then walked away, moving around Chester and I until she had joined Adam and was leading vampires away. I looked away from the two, towards Chester. He was staring at the ground, the smallest blush of anger heating his ashen face.

"This sucks, doesn't it?" He looked up in surprise and stared at me for a moment before chuckling.

"Pun intended?" He asked and I rolled my eyes. I glanced away towards everyone else and saw that the backyard had thinned out until it was only army members. All of the other vampires had filed out front, most likely gossiping about me slapping Adam.

"Yes," I said, "Pun definitely intended."

He smiled lightly and nodded. "Then I definitely agree."

***

Leah's Point of View

"So...we wait now?" I was sitting on the porch steps, leaning against the railing as I drew a circle in the soft soil with an abandoned stick. Brody was next to me, leaning over his kneecaps, and Brandon was perched on the railing with his feet swinging dangerously close to my head.

Brandon sighed and Brody and I looked up at him. His hair was being lifted by the breeze and he was tapping his fingers to the beat of some melody only he was listening to.

"Pretty much," he said blandly. "They should be here any moment to write us all up." He looked down at his wrist and tapped the watch he wore before peering up at the sunny sky. With squinted eyes, he glared upwards. "Nope, no planes yet."

"And then what happens?" Brody asked and I glanced between him and Brandon. I leaned down with my bare toe and erased the messily drawn circle as I waited for Brandon's response.

Brandon, who was a delegate. Ha. The thought still made me laugh. The red haired vampire was, surprisingly, one of the most human vampires I think I had ever met outside of the Cullen family. I had overheard Jasper telling Alice he was manipulative, violent, and sadistic but I had yet to even get a glimpse at that side of him. To me, he was constantly a nuisance who often left his own coven in the dust to tag along with people he found more interesting. Harmless, right?

"Then the government takes control. They'll record us all down...wait, not you." He pointed to me and grinned. "Just you. They'll take your name and all your information and put it into a pretty little file at the White House. And then we're free. You and your Pack of oversized doggies will go back to La Push, the Cullens will go back to Forks, and the rest of us will go back to where we came from. And, if what I hear is correct, Maria's precious little army will be split up and go to different cities all over."

I frowned and looked at Brody who wore an identical expression. "What about him?" I nudged Brody with my shoulder and he looked up and gave a fleeting look at Brandon, who shrugged.

"He's a human. No offense, but the government's not really interested in you. You said you're from Connecticut, right? I expect they'll fly you back with first class seating. You know, so they can make it up to you for the whole near-execution-situation they put you through." He smiled cheekily and bounced off the railing as he rubbed his hands on his pants.

I hated being reminded of that. He could have died, before I had even known he existed, because of Renesmee Cullen. That fact alone nearly killed me every time I thought of it. It would have been the same to me if she had killed him with her own scrawny hands.

"Well," Brandon said, "I'm off. I can hear those lovely little machines they call planes coming closer. I need to track down my own coven and organize some sort of exhausting plan. Have fun, you two. I'm sure I'll see you again before they herd you all on separate planes." His familiar face broke into a large grin before he loped off towards a blonde vampire on the other side of the lawn. I recognized him as Christian, his right hand man.

I folded my hands on my lap and sighed as I watched them converse and then split up. Brandon was right; I could hear the buzzing of mechanical gears up ahead, looming closer and closer. They were here.

"It's sad to you, isn't it?" Brody asked as he leaned back and rested on the step above us. I turned my head and stared at him in confusion.

"What do you mean?" I had no inkling of an idea of what he was talking about. Sad that the government was coming? That evoked a more bittersweet emotion than sadness, personally.

He shrugged and placed his hands on the back of his head as he looked up towards the sky. I glanced up and my eyes locked on two or three black dots in the sky, circling us like vultures. Planes. I wondered if Brody's human eyesight could see them or if he was blinded from the supernatural side of my life. I would have loved to look up at that sky and only see the light blue hues and fluffy clouds, complete with a perfectly round blazing sun instead of the threatening forms of planes.

"Well," he mumbled and glanced at me, his eyes slightly squinted from the sun above us. I noticed how it brought out the slightest of blonder highlights in his hair. "You've made friends here, haven't you? I mean, they're vampires, yeah, but I'm sure you've grown attached to at least some of them. And now you're all going your separate ways again, aren't you? After being on your own, in the Southern wilderness in the middle of all the action, you're being sent back to familiarity without knowing if you'll ever see some of these vampires again."

My lips turned downwards at his words and I shrugged stiffly. As a shape shifter, I never wanted to admit to actually enjoying the company of some vampires. I never wanted to reveal to anyone that I found Brandon amusing or Tanya likeable or some of the soldiers fascinating. It was currently not and never would be on my to-do list.

"I pushed a button with that, didn't I?" Brody murmured softly and he straightened up. I grimaced and looked over at him as he looked at me, openly concerned.

"Nah," I said, "not really. I just...I just hadn't thought of it like that. It's like you get a little taste of freedom, of what this world really is like, and then..."

"And then back to Mom's place for family dinners and Pack meetings?" Brody joked and I rolled my eyes. If only he knew how frighteningly close he was...

I curled my knees up and leaned on them as I watched vampires scurry across the lawn, preparing for the unknown as the planes grew closer yet. "Yeah, pretty much. Is it foolish to not want this to end, though? These past few weeks have been hellish for so many people and here I am, wishing we could go on forever like this."

Brody snorted and I looked at him in surprise. "That's not foolish." He shook his head and smiled. "That's normal. Leah, you're special. You're a shape shifter. Of course you'd rather be someplace where everyone around you is of the supernatural than La Push where most people are boring old humans like myself."

I chuckled and smiled, despite the conversation. "Humans aren't boring," I corrected, "they're just not as cool."

He rolled his eyes and looked out across the lawn, taking in the sparkling bodies and the ruby eyes. "It is different. Almost scary, how different all of this is. It's like we're all in our own special world. But then it's magical, in its own way. It's like a dream, watching all of this happen around me. Even I wish this would be drawn out a bit longer."

"Really?" I asked, now very interested. He nodded.

"Sure. Why not? This is history in the making. Five hundred years from now, it'll be in textbooks and kids will be studying the great vampire exposure act. And the vampires that were here for all of this, that witnessed this, will still be around. But where will we be?" He sighed and leaned his head on his open palm. "We'll be six feet under the ground. I think we're some of the luckiest people in the world to see this happen. We're seeing things, right now, that a thousand years from now, there'll only be pictures and firsthand accounts from vampires to support it all."

I mimicked his position and sighed. He was right, of course. We were seeing something that, years from now, people would have killed to witness. We were getting an inside look into the vampire life, into the vampire world itself. We were almost accepted by them now, almost thought of as part of the species. And now, this great adventure of ours, it was coming to an end.

The Pack would be shipped back to La Push so Sam could see his Emily, Jared could see his Kim, Quil could see his Claire, and Paul could see his Rachel. The Cullens would be sent back to Forks so they could go back to living in the dreary forests around their mansion. And the rest of them would all go back to where they came from with a new life in store and unexpected surprises to come.

"Where will you go?" I asked suddenly and then regretted it. Talk about moving fast, Leah, I chastised. But the idea that he would do just as Brandon said, that he would sit down in a first class seat and be sent back to Connecticut with the government's insincere apologies on his mind crushed me.

Brody was silent for a moment as his eyes glided over the lawn. A buzz of excitement had fallen over the property as everyone readied for the government's arrival. Everyone but us.

"Leah," he said softly and I swallowed thickly at the serious tone of his voice. Ah, this was it, wasn't it? When he revealed to me that he either couldn't handle the idea of being with a shape shifter or when he admitted that after this, he'd go to Connecticut and forget about me entirely. I knew it would happen, somehow. I had been plucked out of my not-so-normal life and dropped in the middle of excitement and thrill. But this hardly felt like reality and now, reality was crashing back in. And it wasn't his next words I dreaded, it was the months to come that I never wanted to experience.

Distance between Imprint and Imprintee was never a good thing. Being on one side of the country and him on the other would be even worse. It would be indescribably painful to try and go on living with an Imprint that far away. It would be nearly impossible.

"Yes?" I asked hesitantly and his shoulders slumped. Here we go, down rejection road I come.

"I...I don't know if I could do that. I don't know if I could leave this place and go on with my life knowing..." I bit my lip. Just think, I told myself, in five minutes, all of this will be done and Air Force One will be parked right before you and you'll be so swept up by activity that you won't even have time to linger on the bitterness swelling inside of you. Maybe, if you're lucky, you won't even see him again after this conversation.

"Knowing what?" I encouraged and wrapped my hand around the railing for some sort of support. He looked up from his hands and stared at me with furrowed brows and a clenched expression.

"Knowing we're meant to be together. And that's why I don't think I can just get on whatever plane they put me on for Connecticut. I don't think I could ever go back there without you." He glanced down at the ground and his cheeks colored.

My body froze and I looked at him in bewilderment. "What are you saying?"

He reached up and ran his fingers through his hair almost anxiously. "Well, uh, I guess I'm saying, if you really don't mind, I kind of want to...kind of want to go back to La Push...with you."

"You want to go to La Push?" I spluttered and stared at him in nothing but utter shock. But...why? Why would anyone want to go to La Push? It was rainy and boring and most of the people were crazy old tribal leaders. I couldn't imagine anyone, definitely not scientific, smart, mature Brody, wanting to actually go to La Push.

He looked at me like I was missing something, something pretty large. I stared back, waiting for an explanation, and then he opened his mouth. "Well...yeah? If you'll have me?"

And then it was clear. I began laughing hysterically, suddenly realizing what I had been missing all along. He wanted to come, wanted to be with me. It was like the fearful weight on my heart had been pounded away and replaced with nothing but pure joy. I had been stupid to be placed under the impression that nothing would come from this.

"You would really do that?" I managed to get out after I had stopped laughing. "You would really leave behind all that's in Connecticut for...for La Push?" Wow, somehow, I had most certainly come out of this with the best end of the deal.

He shook his head and I paused. "No, not for La Push." One side of his mouth lifted into a boyish grin. "For you."

I took a deep, shuddering breath and just shook my head back in forth in blissful surprise. For me. All for me. "You might just be one of the most absurd people I have ever met," I told him through a tight grin.

He chuckled and dangled his arms over his legs. "I hope that's a good thing."

"With this situation, yes, definitely a good thing. I can't think of anything better." The fact that Connecticut was no longer in my future was such a relief to me. There would be no loneliness to come, no endless bitter that annoyed my Pack brothers and family. There would only be my own little slice of heaven, my own little happy ending.

The front door opened and we both jumped, acting like kids caught with their hands in the cookie jar. I turned and saw Sam walk out as he spoke into a black phone, his voice low and tender. Emily.

He said some quiet farewells before clicking the phone off and standing against the doorway. "We're all calling back home," he said as he tossed the phone in his hands. "Since, you know, up until now, we've kind of been busy..."

Right. I had forgotten about that. I mean, everyone I cared about was mostly right here except for Mom. Unlike a lot of my brothers, my Imprint was next to me. Why call home?

"Did you want to call Sue?" Sam asked as he looked down at the plastic phone. My eyes narrowed on the phone and I shrugged.

On the other side of the porch, I spotted Bella talking into a tiny silver cell phone, hunched over her knees as Edward wrapped his arm around her and Jacob held Renesmee. From the tone of her voice and the words she was saying, it sounded like she was talking to her own mother. I sighed. It must have been official check in time with the mom's.

"Yeah, fine. I'll give her a call." Not that I really had anything to say. I would have rather had an overly feminine moment, gushing to my mother about Imprinting when my Imprintee wasn't right next to me, thank you very much.

Sam smiled and threw me the phone, which I caught perfectly. He turned and walked over towards the rest of the Pack who was huddled on the opposite side of the porch from the Cullens. Funny. It looked like things would never change there.

I looked down at the screen of the phone, at the worn digits painted on the little buttons in wariness.

"You going to call?" Brody asked and I looked up with a scowl.

"Do I have to?" I wrinkled my nose and looked back up at the sky. When they landed, did I really want to be having a heart to heart with my mother on the phone? Missing out on the action? Answer: yes.

Brody shrugged. "No, not really. It's up to you."

I nodded before expertly pushing in the keys to the familiar phone number I had dialed maybe a thousand times before. I put the phone to my ear and held my breath as it rang and rang and rang. Each time, I grew more fidgety until I felt I could hardly wait any longer.

"Hello, Sue Clearwater. Who's calling?"

Relief.

"Mom, it's me. Leah."

***

One Hour Later

Carlisle's Point of View

"And you really think this will work?" Edward was standing against the railing on the front porch, staring at me with furrowed brows. I sighed and looked past him and his doubtful tone towards the lawn.

In just one hour, the place had been completely transformed from a Southern plantation to an unrecognizable patch of land, full of large white tents and familiar officers. The second the planes had begun to land, Adam and Eve had emerged from the mansion and greeted the President, leading him around as agents and scientists set up camp. Now, there were rows of tents with lines of vampires leading out from them as everyone got in line to be marked down.

Just over the tops of the tarp, I could spot their large planes parked in the fields in the distance with emergency helicopters right beside them. The sun was just about to go down, just about to fall under the horizon, and the human's fear was tangible to even myself. I did not need Jasper's power to feel the hum of fright and nervousness for nighttime.

As for my family, we had already ‘registered'. It had been a low key affair - all you had to do was give them your full human name, current residence, other family members, and diet along with a picture for I.D. Actually, most of the vampire population had already gone up. Maria, not really a surprise to any of us, had made sure she was the first vampire up there and her now supposed mate, Chester, was second.

Now, it was mostly just the soldiers in line. Adam had spent a few extra moments clearing up their destined destinations with them and helping the President to understand where he would be sending them off to once the government had left and Maria had officially said her goodbyes. All of the other covens had gone up and gotten it over with along with some of the Volturi members.

I looked back to Edward and tried a smile. "I think, in time, it most certainly will. I know it's a hard adjustment, I know that. And it will take time for us vampires to adapt to this new way of life. But, give it a decade or two, and I'm sure things will fall into an easy routine."

He looked unchanged by my words and glanced over his shoulder. One of the soldiers was staring hungrily at a human agent as the soldier grinned maliciously. "Yes, I'm sure we'll be able to switch the entire vampire population into vegetarians quite easily," Edward said sarcastically.

I stood up from the bench and walked towards him. "That's what the blood banks are for," I assured him as I placed my hand on his shoulder. His eyes met mine and he quickly rolled them.

The front door to the house opened and I looked over my shoulder, watching as Tanya stepped outside with Kayden behind her. Both the Denali coven and the Australians had been registered. From what I knew, they were free to leave whenever they wanted. Tanya's eyes fell on us and she smiled brightly as she walked closer.

"Carlisle, Edward," she greeted and I removed my hand from Edward's shoulder. "I thought I'd find you two out here."

I smiled easily and nodded. "Yes, just talking a bit. Taking it all in."

"I see," she said as her eyes slid past us and focused on the tents. "Can you believe this all started with that fated phone call three weeks ago? My God, that seems so long ago, doesn't it?" Her hand intertwined with Kayden's as I let out a breath.

"It is hard to imagine," I agreed solemnly as I thought back to when she had called me at the hospital, frenzied about a newborn attack in Canada. "My, how things have changed since then," I mused as I eyed the new couple before me. Who would have guessed Tanya, the infamous bachelorette, would have found her mate while the world was being turned upside down.

Her responding laugh was cheerful. She looked on with smiling eyes. "Yes, indeed. Many changes since those three weeks. It's been a busy year, hasn't it? We started it off with a bang and not even six months later, we're still caught up in action."

Before I could reply, Edward slid in. "Yes, well, at least we do not have to worry about any trouble from them." His eyes moved to the right where they stayed locked on the huddled Volturi. Aro was sitting on a large tree trunk, chin raised high, as he glared on. I chuckled softly.

Tanya grinned. "Good point," she said and then looked at me. "I just wanted to come out to say goodbye. Now that both of our covens have been registered, I think we're going to take our leave. It's been an exhausting month, even for a vampire. The government's setting up a plan at San Antonio International. They're paying for all of our flights, taking us wherever we need to go."

I stared at her in mild surprise. Of course, I had expected the numerous covens here to be taking their leave quickly but I hadn't thought some would be leaving quite so soon, especially not the Denali coven. "How will you get there?" I asked, concerned.

Kayden gestured over my shoulder and I turned, my eyes falling on many large vehicles. "We tried convincing them we could run there," he said smoothly, "but I suppose they don't trust us enough to even allow us to do that. They had a car rental company in San Antonio send out cars and drivers to take everyone to the airport."

Edward shook his head. "And the government does something right for once," he said dryly with a crooked smile.

I looked back at Tanya and frowned. "Are you sure about leaving so soon?"

She shrugged and her eyes glanced up to Kayden's face. "Yes, unfortunately. We'd love to stay a bit but I think it'd be best for us all to get going. Not all of us get along so greatly with Maria." She quickly winked. "And, of course, I'd rather get out of here before something else happens. God knows what will happen with those two."

I understood her code for the twins and laughed. "They're not so bad," I argued and she shook her head.

"Ah, that's your own opinion, Carlisle." She smiled lightly. "Of course, you must stay in touch with all of us. Expect a phone call once a month and tell Esme to call any time she has a free moment to pick up the phone." She turned to Edward and raised a finger. "And you, mister, we all want updates on Nessie. I want to know when that wedding of hers will be scheduled for."

Edward's expression of pure horror was priceless. I laughed quietly as he glared at Tanya. "Don't hold your breath, Tanya. Hell will freeze over before any wedding of my daughter's is planned."

Tanya rolled her eyes and shook her head. "You'll let me know when a wedding's in the works, won't you, Carlisle?"

I smiled. "Of course, Tanya." She sent me a satisfied look before nodding. "Before you go, though, I wanted to thank you. I heard about what you did when we were in D.C. Thank you so much for everything you did down in Loreto."

Her thin eyebrows rose slightly and she gave a small, tiny smile. "Oh, Carlisle, it was really no problem. I know you would have done the same thing for my family and me. We just wanted to help."

"Well, you did more than just help. You got us all out of there," I told her.

She waved me off and rolled her eyes. "Please, that was not just my work. Adam and Eve had a large part with that, as did," her voice lowered, "Maria." Her topaz eyes rolled and I laughed. "But you're welcome. I am just glad we were able to help."

Behind her, the rest of the Denali coven came out, as did Kayden's. I quickly shook Eleazar's hand and Garrett's as I hugged Tanya and the rest of the ladies goodbye. Carmen kindly informed me that the rest of my own coven was inside and that they had already said their farewells as Kate explained that both the Denalis and the Australians were going to go back to Denali for some down time of relaxation.

And then they all made their way off the porch and towards the waiting cars. It took nearly five cars to get them all piled in and then those drove off, too. I stared after them, at the clouds of sandy dust that rose from under the tires until the cars had been swallowed up by the surrounding forests and the tail lights were just barely visible through the underbrush.

Emmett then emerged from the house, Rosalie behind him and everyone else following afterwards, even the La Push Pack. I was happily surprised by the bondage formed there. I didn't think my family and theirs would ever be thought of as ‘friends' but at least now Emmett wasn't threatening Paul and Jasper wasn't glaring at Jared.

Even Leah could stand to be next to Rosalie, which I found astonishing in its self.

"Well," Emmett said, "The Russians left. You missed them. Luka's a cool guy, really easy going and loves to fight. I told him anytime they want to swim across the Bering Strait, to come right over and pop in." I looked at him and forced a smile.

"Excellent," I said. That was just what I needed, a vampire scarily similar to Emmett. One Emmett was enough to handle but two? Luka's likeness to Emmett was startling when it came down to their personalities. I didn't know if my patience could handle the two of them at once.

Edward chuckled next to me, hearing my thoughts, and Alice jumped in. "And the Japanese coven left, also, along with the Irish. It seems like everyone's leaving." She frowned delicately and Jasper wrapped his arm around her.

They all looked to me, expectantly, and I pushed myself off the railing and glanced at the other waiting cars. "Well, what does everyone else think? Do we want to stay a bit or get out while we still can?" I chuckled a bit and Esme leaned into me as I took her hand in my own.

Bella and Edward's eyes locked and Edward nodded. "I say we leave. I don't think a lot is going to be happening around here from now own. As soon as everyone's out except for Maria and the remains of her army, this place is going to be empty."

Rosalie looked up from her nails and scowled. "I agree. I want to get back home. You all realize we've been in these clothes for three weeks, don't you?" She picked at the sleeve of her blouse and huffed. "I need a change of clothes."

Alice's jaw dropped and her eyes popped open. "My God, Rose, I hadn't even realized that. Ugh, gross, I want to get a clean pair of clothes. Lucky Jasper, here, went shopping on his excursion." She looked at her husband threateningly, eyeing the fresh pair of clothes he was wearing.

I looked down at Esme and she giggled quietly. "Alright, then, I guess we'll get going if all everyone can think about is their wardrobe back in Forks. Jacob, what about you and your Pack?"

Jacob jumped and turned, mid conversation with Embry. He frowned for a moment before shrugging. "Sure, we're coming. I think everyone could do with a good bonfire at First Beach." He and his brothers shared bright smiles as they agreed one by one.

"I'll go talk to Adam then and let him know we're leaving," I said and everyone nodded.

"We'll meet you at the cars," Esme said as she brushed my arm in a lingering touch. I smiled down at her and nodded as I walked down the porch steps, towards where I could see Aro and Adam conversing on the sidelines.

I sighed and ran a hand through my hair, realizing this probably was not the best time to interrupt. I didn't think anyone would ever be able to forget what Adam had done to Jane. And now it seemed like the Volturi still had it out for the twins, especially Aro. Word had it that Aro was now the only Volturi member not to register.

"It's absurd! You're absurd! This whole plan of yours is absurd! Why should I go along with it?" Aro stomped his foot and waved a hand in the air as I approached. Several of the guards surrounded him, not smiling nor frowning. They looked like they were too busy wondering what type of response they should have to this than to show any emotion.

Adam sighed from three feet away and shook his head. "Aro, please, just go with it. For the love of God, there is absolutely nothing you can do. Just accept it and move on."

"Move on? Move on, he says! Absurd!"

I stopped beside the two of them and Adam clenched his jaw and turned to face me, most likely relieved from the distraction. "Ah! Carlisle, lovely seeing you. Can I help with anything?"

Aro glared at me, his eyes steely and red. For a moment I wondered what could possibly make him so angry but then it seemed to hit me. Of course, he would have thought that through all of this, I would somehow remain loyal to him because of the friendship we had shared centuries before. He must have thought of me as a traitor now. I couldn't exactly find it in me to feel guilty, however.

I looked away from Aro and towards Adam who was smiling congenially. "My coven and Jacob's Pack are going to be leaving soon. We've been registered already and so we plan on boarding the next plane to Seattle as soon as we can."

Adam looked truly disappointed as he looked down at me. Finally, he nodded. "Of course, of course. I understand. You must be quite eager to get back to the homely little town of Forks. I am actually surprised you stayed as long as you did. Thank you for hanging about a little while."

"It was no problem," I assured him. "I assume everything will be alright here?"

He laughed softly as he glanced at a fuming Aro. "Yes, yes. Everything shall be alright. I expect everyone to already be loaded on a plane and on their way back home before the government has even cleaned up everything. And you? You will be alright in Forks, will you not?"

I nodded easily and crossed my arms. "Yes, hopefully. We'll see how the locals take to us." Adam smiled understandably. "What about you and Eve, if you don't mind me asking? Surely you have somewhere to go."

Adam turned his head to the side and was silent for a moment. I didn't miss the way Aro inclined his head, leaning forward and waiting for an answer. "Eve and I...yes, we will be fine. Expect to hear from us, though. We refuse to pull another vanishing act like the last time."

I smiled. "Good, we'd love to hear from the two of you again."

Adam glanced to Aro, as if to boast, and then nodded before outstretching his hand. "As we would love to hear from your family."

Hesitantly, I shook his hand, nervous whether his flesh would affect me the same way it had Maria. However, all I felt was the flushed heat of almost human flesh in a firm handshake. He let me go, smiling a bit, before glancing over my head.

"I believe your family is waiting for you," he said quietly and I looked back. Indeed they were, all lined up next to sleek looking automobiles. Esme smiled at me from across the lawn and I turned back to Adam.

"Until next time?" I said.

He nodded and grinned. "Until then."

*

The flight to Seattle was quick and easy. The drive to the San Antonio International Airport was even quicker. Seated in the passenger seat with Esme behind me, Alice in the middle, and Jasper on the other side, it was a fast ride. I felt for the poor driver, who constantly was checking in the rearview window to make sure none of us were about to stir up any rowdy behavior.

The car ride was a bit silent, except for Alice's giddy chatter. She was thrilled to be heading back to Forks, back to where she could drive her Porsche and change clothes every twelve hours. Her talking spent up the entire ride to the airport, which was a relief. I, for one, did not have much to say and I could tell Esme was mentally spent. As for Jasper, I wasn't sure about him. I had spotted him saying hushed goodbyes to Maria before we had loaded up the car and not only did that action worry myself, but it worried Alice.

Once we had arrived at the airport, we all got out and met up with the rest of the family. This time, however, there was one more addition to the lineup of supernatural creatures. Leah's new Imprint, a surprise to all of us, was with us the entire time. I think Brody's presence relieved Bella immensely. Renesmee seemed to simply be taken with Brody, asking him questions about what had happened once she had gotten out and constantly making sure he was alright. It was clear to everyone that Brody would be number two on Bella's babysitting list, aside from Jacob.

At one point when waiting in the terminal of the airport, Leah had approached me. She asked if, once we were back, I could give Brody a check up because of the short lived memory loss he had experienced after waking up. I had heard the story of his near-death experience already from Edward and had even seen it from Renesmee so of course I complied. I would give him an MRI scan as soon as I could.

One thing I found incredibly convenient about the San Antonio airport was that it was positively empty. They had cleared it from humans, cancelling all flights for the meantime except for those needed by other vampires. The only humans present were the workers and several agents located at each terminal to ensure that no vampire started up anything.

Next to our terminal was Brandon's coven, seated around in a loose circle as they waited for their flight back to the capital. For most of the wait, Brandon often switched between ordering around his coven and speaking to Leah. I found that newfound relationship the funniest of all. Leah had been clear before to express her hatred towards vampires and still did that. But Brandon, somehow, was an exception. They'd sit there and talk, joking and laughing quietly as Brody strung his arm over her shoulders.

After a fast hour of waiting for our plane to arrive, we finally boarded it. Obviously, we were the only ones flying to Seattle and so we had the whole plane to ourselves except for a few U.S. marshals who tagged along in the back.

Being on the plane, being finally free, was a relief to almost everyone. Three weeks ago, we had started out in a similar scenario. Flying to Los Angeles was not a problem but being exposed in the Los Angeles Airport would always be a memory I would never want to remember. And since then we had been flown to the capital, a frightening, tense flight and then driven to the Williams Building. So now we were back where we started, on a flight, just our family, with a bunch of governmental officers.

But things had changed so drastically since then. Some things were noticeably different, like Leah's new love and the happy light in her eyes. Or Jasper's carefree attitude and the smile that never seemed to leave his youthful face. Tanya's movement of settling down was another change that I don't think any of us ever expected. Even little Renesmee, I could see, had changed. The poor thing had been faced with separation from her parents and extreme horror and you could tell she had matured in this past month. Another unexpected change was the relaxed atmosphere of both groups of enemy creatures being together, on a small plane, and laughing comfortably.

Of course, there were other changes. Other changes that weren't so noticeable or obvious. There was an atmosphere wherever you went of calm, expectant happiness. We had all survived and all survived together. No one had been lost, unless you counted the tortured souls of the Romanians. If anything, we had lucked out. Several of us had found love and friendship in one of the most trying times I think the world had ever been put through. It was all a miracle, all a blessing that these things could happen in such a short, difficult time.

We had been found out, discriminated against, put on trial for freedom, and released all in three short weeks. Death itself, the Grim Reaper in the flesh, had been exposed. Had been released to the world. And somehow, the world had accepted it for who it was and looked past it. It was something so beautiful, something so miraculous, that I didn't think I would ever be able to get over the initial splendor of it.

After unloading at Seattle and reloading a small flight to Port Angeles, I found it impossible not to smile despite everything as the small shops and familiar roads of Port Angeles popped up. It was 7:05 in the morning when the plane descended onto the tarmac and, something I found to be an incredible omen, the sun was out. It was drizzling outside, of course, for not even I would be foolish enough to believe the rainy weather would cease on the Olympic Peninsula for our arrival. But the blazing sun was enough, enough for all of us.

We all got off, bags not with us for we had no personal belongings to bring. Even the airport here had been emptied out for our arrival, though I could imagine the mobs of humans outside waiting to get a glimpse at the now famous Cullen family. There was a blissful mood that surrounded us as we walked into the terminal and it was only multiplied from Jasper's constant joyful attitude.

"Bella! Bella!"

Bella's face froze for a moment as she stepped into the terminal and I recognized the voice to be Renee's panicked, frantic tone that she only reserved for the rare, mature, mothering moments she had. I turned and saw Renee race towards us, arms waving and chuckled. It appeared as if they had allowed some humans in after all.

Bella was launched in Renee's arms and the two women held each other as Charlie appeared behind Renee, looked flabbergasted at his ex wife's behavior. Next to him was Sue Clearwater who wrapped her arms around Seth tightly as she held Leah's hand. I stood back with Esme as many of the shape shifter's Imprints and families bombarded them with questions and hugs. Even Phil was present, which was a laughable factor given the stunned expression on his face.

At some point during the reunion, Renee looked up from cooing over Renesmee, who was in her mother's arms, and her eyes locked on Jasper. I froze, seeing the hesitance in her eyes knowing what she saw. Jasper's eyes had yet to completely turn back to the familiar ocher and were in a sort of in between. They were a coral color now but hinting more towards red than gold.

Renee suddenly left Renesmee there with Bella and darted towards Jasper in which she threw her arms around him in a gesture that reminded me very distinctly of Esme. Jasper froze and hugged her back unsurely as he looked down at her in comical shock.

She pulled back and looked up at him, ignoring the blood-tinged look to his eyes. "You don't know how worried you had us all," she sniffled and let him go. He stared down at her, mouth slightly agape, before glancing at Alice.

"I'm sorry, ma'am," he apologized, his Southern accent twanging his words as Alice danced up to Renee and hugged her, too.

I moved closer to the trio and put my hand on his shoulder. He looked over to me and grinned. It wasn't the usual smile someone received from someone like Jasper, though. It was lighthearted and boyish and untroubled.

"We'll talk later," I said quietly so Renee couldn't hear. His eyes watched Alice as the two women prattled about Renesmee.

He nodded and glanced over at me. "Yes, of course."

"Alright, alright! Come on; let's break up the estrogen-filled gushing! I want to get back home and see what's cooking back at the ranch." Emmett rubbed his hands together and grinned. I looked at him and sighed as Esme hooked her arm through mine.

"Sounds like an excellent plan to me," Jacob said and Seth's eyes bulged.

"Hot dogs are on the menu tonight!" Seth exclaimed excitably. "No more stolen food from the soldiers!" The shape shifters cheered and I snorted at their enthusiasm when it came to something as simple as food.

We all moved towards the front of the airport, catching up and speaking to one another happily. I kept my eye on Brody, knowing how overwhelming this whole ordeal must be, but found he was taking it all in stride. The shape shifter families accepted him like he was one of their own, even Sue Clearwater. It was like everything, for a moment, was perfect.

But perfection can't last for long. I should have known that. Nearly four centuries of life should have told me that.

And so once we were at the entrance and I found myself walking side by side with Charlie, he paused at the doors and looked at me. He frowned and glanced to Renee and their eyes locked.

"Uh, Carlisle, we need to tell you something. Something kind of big."

I froze and looked between the two. What could that have been? What qualified as something big? From what I had been put through in this past month, whether that be meeting the two original vampires or being tested in an underground holding cell, something ‘big' would have to be pretty pivotal. I didn't know if I could take any more surprises. Not now, not ever.

My family watched him nervously and I said, "What's wrong, Charlie?"

He tugged on the zipper of his coat and glanced at Jasper. "Well, uh, once it broke out that he was missing, the government kind of flipped. They've been at your house ever since he got out and I've done what I could to keep them from doing too much damage but," he shook his head and ran a hand through his curls, "I couldn't keep my eyes on them 24/7."

I suddenly laughed. Charlie looked at me as if I had lost it, as did almost everyone else. "Oh, Charlie, please," I said through chuckles, "compared to everything else we've experience lately, the house is the least of my troubles."

He raised a brow and shrugged. "Alright....but-"

"Trust me, Charlie," I said as I continued to laugh quietly to myself. "Whatever they did, we'll get over it."

I pushed the door open and stepped into the full force of the sunlight as Esme followed behind me. I could see Charlie's cop car as well as a few vehicles that were familiar to me from the reservation parked in the lot. Behind me, Charlie just shook his head.

"Just wait until he sees what they did to the Mercedes," he said sadly to Renee, quietly, not realizing I could hear. But I did.

And then, so easily, my whole morning was ruined.