A/N: t&a—so, we totally forgot to write an A/N for the first chapter… and a disclaimer. we're SO excited about this story… and on an even brighter note, we have a shit ton of it done so there won't be any long waits or anything.

and yeah, we're not SM, we don't own twilight, we only own our storyline.

anyway, thanks for reading! enjoy!

And there's a heart that still can beat
With every breath that's inside me
And find the spark that's buried deep
It won't go out
So, please, don't let go
We can crawl out of the shadows.
"Out of the Shadows" Matthew Perryman Jones

"Fucking hell," I groan and push Walt's slobbering face away from mine. "It's too early for this shit."

I pull my sheets up over my head and turn my back to the huge slobbering beast next to me. He steps on my back with one really fucking heavy paw and starts tugging at the sheet, inadvertently scratching my back in a not so relaxing kind of way.

"Walt," I say sternly and fling my arm out blindly to push him away. He keeps dodging my pathetic attempts at pushing him away and grabs at the sheet by my neck with his teeth.

I throw the covers off and twist until I'm sitting up slightly. He starts lapping at my face again. I take his head in between my hands and say, "If you don't stop I swear to god you're sleeping on the couch tonight."

He whines and then jumps off of the bed and runs to the door. At the entryway he turns, barks once, and starts wagging his tail.

"Yeah, yeah, I'm coming."

I drop back onto my pillows and close my eyes but the peace lasts for maybe twenty seconds before Walt barks again. "Dude," I snap and slap my hands down hard on the bed, pushing myself off of it.

My feet hit the floor and it's cold and I want to go back to sleep but that's obviously not an option. Last night ran pretty late for a Tuesday.

I splash cold water onto my face and rub it hard a few times.

Once I'm in my running clothes I walk into the kitchen and make a quick shitty cup of coffee and put water for Walt. I point a finger at him and say, "You better drink that. I don't want your pansy ass dehydrating and passing out halfway through."

He grunts at me and starts lapping up the water. I switch the computer on to read the news with my coffee. It's all negative. Everything is negative. A huge fucking contrast to the way the sun is shining through my window right now. I don't want to look at this shit. Walt's cold wet nose pushes into the warm spot behind my knee. I jump and then shut down the computer.

"Let's get on with it then." I connect his leash even though he doesn't need it at all, he sticks to my side like my own personal four-legged shadow.

He's already breathing heavily from all of his tail wagging and his anticipation to go outside.

Being a dog is a lesson in why simple is so much fucking better.

We break out of the door and I glance quickly at the bar to make sure it's all locked up and looking the way it should and then we take off. Two feet, four paws pounding mercilessly into the pavement. Good fucking morning.

My parents don't understand what I find appealing about owning a bar. They accept and they support but they don't understand why I'd want to spend endless nights getting people that need to forget wasted.

It's so much more than that though.

There is something so intimate about bars. It's a personal experience especially when you have regulars—people that come in daily, people that drink their beer or their vodka or even wine and tell you about their wives that refuse to have sex with them because they're not making enough money.

It's a sip and tell.

Secrets, desires, dreams, fears, insecurities… they all come out. And everyone, every single person winds down to those five simple things. You can be black, white, gay, straight, male or female, but when you push all the shit aside, when you get rid of all of the exterior crap, everyone boils down to those five things.

It's fascinating, really.

I slide a Heineken in front of my friend Emmett.

"So?" I ask and lean back against the wall, arms crossed. "How was last night?"

He snorts and shakes his head. "That girl is like an exact replica of her mother but she's just a complete fucking idiot. She's gorgeous, you know, but every time she opened her mouth I wanted to backhand her."

"She couldn't have been that bad. Don't be a dick."

"I'm not being a dick. It's like being Michael Jordan's son but being only half like Michael Jordan. Like you can be like, 'Oh, yeah, right here right here, pass me da ball,' but you suck."

I laugh at the sheer devastation on his face.

"And her mom is so hot," he continues. "Like, perfect. Total fucking perfection. So I figured yeah the genes would pass on. But god fucking forbid."

"You know the deal with married women," I remind him. He rolls his eyes. "Seriously, Em. It's a one, maybe two time thing and then it's over."

"What's the big fuckin' deal, dude? It's not like she fucks that tool that she's married to… who, by the way, is where the daughter got her fucking empty head from."

"The deal is it's bad news. Move on."

He finishes off his beer and then slides it back to me. "Thanks for the chat, Oprah. I have to get back to work. I'll see you tonight."

I crack my neck and turn some Zeppelin on. I'm in the mood for his sound right now. It's only Wednesday and it's only 7:00. There's only one person sitting at the bar—Harold—who always comes in as soon as I open at 6 and stays until I close. He rarely speaks, just sits and watches and drinks Scotch.

His wife left him last year for one of the interns that was working at her job. He never recovered.

I wipe the bar down just for something to do.

"Ya good, Harold?" I ask because he's been nursing that glass for longer than usual.

"Bring me another one," he says and finishes off the last drops of his drink.

"Isn't your niece's birthday party tonight?"

He nods. "I gotta go for a little while. Make an appearance."

"You get her a present?"

"A doll," he replies and takes the newly filled glass from my hand. "She's a good kid."

"How old's she turning?"

"Seven." He shakes his head. "Just wanna tell her to stay where she's at. Growing up is overrated."

I nod sympathetically. It's gonna be one of those nights for him. Just as I'm about to answer, the door opens.

A girl who doesn't even look old enough to buy a pack of cigarettes walks in. Her eyes dart around the room nervously before she apparently decides to sit at the bar.

Her hair is brown, long—pretty but plain. Her eyes are huge and are still bouncing all over the place, looking at everything but me. And her hands are pale, fingers wound tightly together.

"Hey, sweetheart," I say and walk over to stand right in front of her, "I'm gonna need to see some form of ID."

Her eyes widen slightly, becoming even larger than they already were. "What? Why would I come in if I wasn't old enough? And how do you even know if it's a real ID or a fake one? I mean, do you even know the percentage of under age kids who have fake IDs?"

The words come fast, auction announcer fast, and when she finishes her speech, her eyes open even wider, impossibly wider, and she swallows hard and just stares at me.

I lean on the bar with my elbows, getting closer to her, and smirk. "I've heard every story before. And you don't look like you're a day older than 17. So if you don't mind…" I let my voice trail off and hold my hand out.

She lifts up her hand and takes her thumb into her mouth and starts biting on it. She has like 85 different nervous habits. Her left hand dips into her bag and she pulls out a wallet which she promptly hands to me. I lift an eyebrow and open it up.

"Just because someone looks 17 doesn't mean they are. What kind of stories could you have possibly heard? This doesn't really look like the kind of place kids would come to looking to score some beer."

The words come spilling out of her mouth so quickly again, as if she hasn't spoken for days and is afraid she won't have anyone to speak to again for a while. Like, she needs to just get it all out now.

Her ID claims that she's 24 and it's authentic. I pass her wallet back to her. "I told every type of story when I was trying to score some beer, Isabella," I tell her. "What can I get you to drink?"

"Oh," she pauses and frowns slightly. "I hadn't really thought that far. I've only really ever had what people offered me. You know, like spiked punch or a beer. I don't even know what I like."

The wallet that she's still clutching in her hand falls to the floor. I watch as her head disappears beneath the bar and lean forward to warn her to watch her head but she smacks it hard on the way up. She looks at me, tears welling in her big brown eyes, and clutches her head.

Her eyes dart to the door and then back to me. "I'm just gonna go. Thanks for being a responsible business man and checking my ID. I just, I think I need ice."

"I have ice here," I tell her and fight the urge to laugh. But she looks so cute standing there trying to fight off her tears. I've hit my head there more than once and it fucking kills.

She shakes her head and shoves her wallet into her bag. "I need my ice, at my apartment. Not that your ice is bad. This is just so not…"

She doesn't even finish her sentence, just spins around and all but runs out of the door.

I shake my head and laugh.

What the fuck was that?

"Finn, man, what are you doing?" I groan and swat at his little hand gently.

"You've been asleep for forever," he informs me. I open my eyes and he's sitting on the coffee table in front of me, swinging his legs back and forth. "And I'm hungry. And bored."

"Oh, well excuse me," I tell him and tug on his arm until he's sitting on my stomach. "Why didn't you ask Walt if you could borrow some of his food?"

He giggles and lays down until his head is on my chest. "Daddy, I can't eat Walt's food. That's for doggies."

I can't understand how people can have kids and give them away. After I saw Finn for the first time… I mean, I was fucking enamored. Terrified but absolutely fucking in love with him. "You're right, you're right," I tell him. "So what do you want to eat?"

He leans up on his elbows and smiles his big smile. "I want ice cweam."

I laugh and push his little glasses back up his nose. "For dinner?"

He nods. "With spinkles."

"Spinkles or sprinkles?"

He giggles when I tickle his sides. "I don't know. Spinkles. They the same."

"How 'bout…" I begin and pretend to think for a moment. "How 'bout we eat some actual dinner and then after, if we're still hungry, we can go get sundaes from the ice cream store?"

He sits up and claps excitedly. "Okay. Can we go now?"

"Yeah, let's just give Walt some food first."

I put my hands around his little body and lift him up high into the air as I stand up. He laughs and then I settle him on my shoulders. "Walt!" Finn yells, giggling and holding onto my head. "Are you hungwy?"

Walt comes, nails clacking on the wooden floor, and starts leaping next to me. Finn laughs and plays the top of my head like a bongo. "Look, daddy, he's hungwy."

"Yeah, buddy, I got that," I say with a laugh and grab his hands to swing him down onto the kitchen counter. "You're not wearing any shoes."

I pour water into Walt's bowl before setting it down on the floor for him. "Cause you can carry me."

"What if," I begin and pour two cups of food into the other bowl for Walt. "What if I need you to carry me?"

He laughs again and kicks his legs against the counter. "You're so silly," he says. "You're too big. I can't carry you."

"Don't move from there," I tell him and point a finger at him. "Watch Walt and make sure he doesn't eat the plate."

He nods and laughs again. He's so fucking happy. That's the thing about kids—they're just happy. It's amazing to be around, to witness someone that's been completely unaffected by the shittiness of the world yet.

I walk into the living room and grab his shoes before going back into the kitchen. And he's sitting there talking to Walt who's too busy eating to pay attention to him.

"I got your shoes, Huck," I tell him and take his tiny little right foot into my hand.

He sighs at me no doubt because he doesn't understand why I call him Huck when his name is Finn. "So, where should we go for dinner?"

"Wendy's!" he says excitedly and claps.

I laugh and put the other shoe on. "We had Wendy's last time. How 'bout pizza?"

"Can I get ronis on mine?"

"Pepperoni?" I ask.


I bring down off of the counter and rub his head. "Yeah, man, you can have pepperoni."

"Okay. I hafta say bye to Walt." He pulls his hand from mine and walks over to where Walt is now lapping up water noisily. Finn puts his hand on Walt's head and pats him. "We're going to get dinner, Walt. Don't be afraid by yourself." Then he leans down and kisses the dog right on top of his head. "I love you. See you soon."