Saturday, August 11, 2012 | By: Drotuno

Coming Home Chapter 148 - Edward

~oOo~

Somewhere over Washington... Saturday, October 02, 2010 at 6:38 P.M.

Ding!

"This is your captain speaking... Please fasten your seat belts as we prepare to land at Sea-Tac Airport. We will be landing on time in approximately twenty minutes. The high today is sixty-five degrees, with a low of fifty-four. It's fairly cloudy, but there's no call for rain..."

I glanced out the window, shaking my head at the endless sea of clouds as we started to descend. It surrounded us like a fog from a horror movie. I half-expected some sort of monster to flit by. Florida had been bright, sunny, and warm when we left. Too warm, really, for October.

This was it. The last flight I'd take, the last time I'd wear the uniform as a member of the United States Army. I'd been honorably discharged, given the stripes for my tour in Afghanistan and even the Purple Heart for my injuries sustained in the blast – something that was most likely requested by my old CO, Lt. Stephens – and finally, my release papers, which were tucked somewhere deep inside my duffel.

And fucking-A, it was the last time I'd have to be away from my girl.

I thought about Chicago, my parents, and even Tanya as Seattle drew closer. I thought about the angry kid I'd been versus the man I was now. I'd hated the universe for my mother's illness, hated my father for just giving up after she was gone, and hated Tanya for her betrayal. I'd poured all that hate and anger into my job, focusing on keeping myself and my men alive, personally sealing myself off from everyone around me.

Until Bella.

The mere thought of her caused me to smile. She was my sweet, strong, beautiful girl. She made me a better man, a happier man, having suffered through it all over the last several months, from tearing down my emotional walls, to worrying about me incessantly, to loving me unconditionally – the latter being something I hadn't felt since my mother was still alive. Our relationship may have moved fast and been unconventional, but not one time did it feel wrong.

Bella had handed me family on a silver platter, giving me a sense of belonging that even the Army hadn't been able to fulfill and providing laughter, security, and people that gave a shit. Having her in my life gave me something to live for overseas, something to bust my ass for to get out of MacDill, and now something to come home to.

Suddenly, the plane just needed to land. I wanted to be on the ground, out of this fucking tin can, and in her arms. And that shit wasn't happening quickly enough. My knee started bouncing, my hands twisting my cap, and my teeth working the inside of my cheek.

"You all right there, Sarge?" Emmett asked from the seat over from me. We'd left the one between us empty.

"I'm not Sarge anymore," I chuckled, shrugging a shoulder.

"Ah, bullshit," he laughed, punching my arm. "You'll always be Sarge."

Jasper snickered softly, looking up from the book in his hands from his seat across the center aisle. "It's true. We've called you that since you were promoted. It's been too long to stop now. Deal with it, pal."

Grinning, I looked back out the window. I wasn't going to argue with them.

"So you okay, or what?" Emmett surged on.

"I'm fine," I sighed. "Just...anxious, I guess."

"How's the hangover?" Jasper asked with a laugh.

I looked from him to Emmett, who had woken up just fucking peachy. "Bite me, both of you."

I was pretty sure my hangover could've been worse, but despite my inebriated state, I'd followed Bella's instructions the night before. After throwing up, I'd downed a bottle of water, taken three Tylenol, and fallen into bed. Luckily, I'd merely had a wretched headache when I'd awoken to the sound of my alarm that morning. I'd taken more Tylenol, thinking my head would explode once I was in the air, but I'd fallen asleep the second we'd leveled off.

They laughed, but all of us heard the sound of landing gear being lowered, the screech of tires touching down, and the slowing of the engines. We taxied slowly down the runway and into the terminal, and I sighed a long, deep breath of relief when the pilot finally spoke again.

"Thank you for choosing American Airlines, and welcome to Seattle."

~oooOOOooo~

It seemed to take a hell of a lot longer to get from the terminal to baggage claim than I remembered from the last time. It also seemed that the three of us in fatigues drew more attention, as well. We'd been stopped, thanked, and welcomed home by mere strangers and little kids to the point that I was about to lose it. It wasn't that I didn't appreciate it, but I really, really needed to get my hands on Bella.

Baggage claim was already packed with the people that had been on the plane with us and those welcoming them home. Emmett and Jasper snatched our duffel bags from the conveyor belt, simply because they were all together and really hard to miss among the dark colors of civilian luggage.

Fuck, I was a civilian. I really needed to remember that. I shook my head, my eyes aching to see my girl. A small crowd of young teens parted in front of me, and then I saw her, all perfect in blue with tears already in her eyes as she ran my way.

Dropping my duffel, I caught her easily and lifted her up off the ground. She smelled like heaven and home, and it felt so fucking good to have her in my arms again.

"Bella," I sighed contentedly, feeling complete for the first time in weeks. All I could think was, Finally!

Warm, wet tears smeared against my neck, and I cupped her face, still keeping her held close.

"Hey, let me see you," I whispered, well aware that we had a rather large audience to our reunion. "I've missed your beautiful face."

She giggled, all sniffly and cute, pulling back. "You're a sight for sore eyes, babe," she said with watery eyes and a sweet smile.

I chuckled, wiping away a few tears with my thumb and tucking her hair behind her ear. "You, too, sweet girl."

She tugged off my cap, pressing kisses to my forehead, my cheeks, and finally, my lips, all while leaning her elbows on my shoulders and grasping either side of my face.

"You're here," she stated breathlessly, running her fingers through my hair, which was longer on top, just as she'd requested it.

"Yes, love," I said, setting her on her feet but not letting an inch come between us. I kissed her lips roughly but not nearly as thoroughly as I'd have liked. "I'm home, Bella."

~oooOOOooo~

We were loud, all talking over each other and stealing kisses as we walked out to the parking garage. The girls had driven separate vehicles, knowing we'd all see each other soon enough at Bella's father's wedding. With hugs all around and promises to get together before the next weekend, I tossed my things in Bella's trunk.

The ride was comfortable, the two of us catching up from the last few weeks apart. We laughed about my drunken ass the night before, and then she told me about the girls' night they'd shared and that Tanya's box had arrived early, despite my request that she wait.

"And?" I asked, grimacing.

"I'm not opening that one. Ever, Edward." She laughed, shaking her head. "She probably sent it early so that whatever fuckery she's got in there can kill me."

Laughing, I picked up her hand and kissed each finger, unable to withstand any distance from her at the moment. "Tanya's spiteful but not exactly bomb-threat material, sweet girl."

"Whatever, babe," she laughed. "That box is all yours, and it's in the room with the rest of your unopened stuff."

"She's seeing someone. I'm just an embarrassing part of her past," I chortled.

"Embarrassing, my ass," Bella muttered, giving the residential street in front of her a dark look.

"New rule," I growled in her ear, correcting the steering wheel when she swerved just a little. "Talk of Tanya isn't allowed inside the house...at least for the rest of the night," I commanded, nipping at the soft spot behind her ear. "Your sweet ass, however, can be discussed any-fucking-time, love."

"'Kay," she groaned, elbowing me gently, "but get back over there before I hit Miss Mary's mailbox!"

My head spun toward the houses on our right as I sat up straight. Bella pulled into the driveway of a small yellow house with green trim. The trees, already starting to show their fall colors, hugged the side, low branches hanging over the front door. She'd left the lights on inside. I could see my piano in the window of the corner room of the house, and a feeling unlike anything I'd ever known settled over me.

"It's small..." Bella whispered, sounding nervous.

"It's perfect," I countered, tearing away my gaze from my new home back to the reason I was there.

She giggled, cupping my face. "It's still small, Edward," she repeated with a laugh. "Here," she said, reaching into her purse. She dropped a set of keys into my hand, pointing each one out. "Front door, back door, storage."

"And this?" I chuckled, holding up the key chain with the word "Sarge" on it. "I'm not Sarge anymore. I told the guys that..."

"Shut up," she whispered, kissing my lips. "You'll always be my Sarge."

And that closed the nickname subject immediately because I was hers, totally.

She got out of the car, and I followed her, leaving my stuff in the trunk. Stepping onto the porch was a surreal yet comforting experience because it had seemed like this moment would never get here. I'd wanted it, dreamed about it for so fucking long that I wasn't sure if I was still asleep on the plane or not.

"I'm sure Miss Mary will make herself known tomorrow, so prepare yourself for that," Bella rambled, giving the house next door a loving gaze.

"I'm sure I'll survive, baby," I chuckled, pulling out the keys, but stopped, tilting her chin up so that she would meet my gaze. "Are you ready for this?" I asked, my voice sincere, because this was a huge step in our lives together.

The smile that crawled up her stunning face was just breathtaking. "Yes," she giggled. "Open the damn door, Edward. I've wanted you here since the second you told me you loved me."

"Kiss me first, sweet girl," I said with a smirk, cupping her face.

She pressed her lips to mine in a kiss that was new, slightly nervous, and just about as sexy as I could handle standing on that front porch. Keeping her forehead pressed to mine, she turned slightly to guide my key into the lock.

Shoving the door open, she kissed me again. "Welcome home, Sarge."

~oOo~

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