Author: siDEADde PM
One-shot from Charlie's POV for Segolily's Twilight Challenge : Odd Fathers Charlie is much more perceptive than anyone gives him credit for...can he hold his own against Carlisle?Rated: Fiction T - English - Angst/Family - Charlie S. & Carlisle - Words: 2,502 - Reviews: 36 - Favs: 40 - Follows: 7 - Published: 06-15-08 - Status: Complete - id: 4326419
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Happy Father's Day...this piece is a one-shot for Segolily's Twilight Challenge: Odd Fathers. The challenge was supposed to be humorous, but being a parent I couldn't make my Charlie be funny.
Thank you for reading!
Disclaimer: Twilight characters are not mine. They belong to Stephenie Meyer. Yay for her!
I'm a fisherman, a sportsman, a law enforcement officer, and a father. Everyone thinks I'm a simple man with simple ideas and simple emotions. I prefer to think of myself as a deep thinker, a reflective thinker. Still waters and all that. Life is so much easier if people believe you don't have deep thoughts. They underestimate you, which gives you the upper hand. But even with the upper hand, I couldn't hold her.
The definition of parenthood is loss: joyous yet terrible, heart-rending loss. It started at her birth. I recall the awe and exhilaration I felt at her first wail; the happiness of my heart forfeited…no, stolen from me in that moment. That was the first time I lost Bella; she was no longer just mine but the world's, fate's even, to do with as it saw fit. There have been so many times again since then that I cannot count the scars on my soul: her first steps…away from me, her move to Phoenix…even further away, and finally her angry refusal to come to Forks for the summer when she reached her teens.
The love that I have for her is indescribable, with each new scar the love intensified. "You always hurt the one you love," I remember my mother singing when I was younger, and I sought solace in the lyrics every time the phone was hung up in anger. On the day she called to ask if she could come and live with me there was pain again, only this time from shock. I couldn't answer at first, afraid of some cruel joke. I remember holding my breath until she asked again. I fought against the pain and immediately said yes hoping she wouldn't change her mind. She was coming back; I would be graced with her presence for a couple of years before losing her once more, to college and to life. I could work with a couple of years…we could build on that. For once I felt like she was taking steps back to me and not away.
Although my heart refused to believe she would actually come, she did. I didn't really believe she would until I saw her get off the plane. My scarred soul sang at her arrival, she was mine again for a short time. Only, I didn't realize how short. I only had her with me for three months before I lost her again. I lost her to him…
I had nothing but respect for his family, all upstanding members of the community, all possessing an otherworldly beauty and charm. I understood the draw of it; I am a fisherman after all. Not that my daughter is a fish, but human nature is so very similar. A little flash, a little noise…voilà the catch is made. It only takes a good lure. Whenever I saw them together, my mind jumped back to fishing. He had reeled her in hook - line - and sinker.
I knew she had strong feelings for Edward; it was evident in her eyes. Bella's eyes always told the story her mind wouldn't let her speak. You could see her soul in those chocolate pools, and her soul was drawn, not just to Edward but also to the whole family. There was something unnatural about their relationship though…not just Edward and Bella's, but the entire family's. The connection between Bella and Edward was more than puppy love; it was soul binding. It was almost as if it was her soul that drew him to her.
At first my suspicions had been on Edward. What had he done to my baby girl? Was it drugs? The boy looked strung out: he was so pale, the bruise-like crescents under his eyes signaled something was wrong. He never ate in my presence, but Bella never seemed offended that he refused her cooking. His movements were too careful, too planned, like he was worried about controlling erratic movements. I watched him months before I decided it wasn't the boy. I know now that he does love her, that he cannot live without her. I hated him for leaving her, but now I believe that he had been trying to protect her from the real problem: his father.
I finally admitted it to myself; perhaps Carlisle Cullen was the fisherman. His objective wasn't fish, however, it was teen followers, souls if you will. He was the perfect cult figurehead: charming, handsome, intelligent. I don't know how I hadn't seen it before. What thirty-something adopts a houseful of teenagers then lets them all consort with each other? It had to be for control. They were all so pale, even the little one that Bella loved like a sister. I thought maybe he had kept them drugged, or at least dependant on something. If not drugs, he could have used sleep deprivation for control as well. It would've explained the purple circles under Edward and Alice's eyes. Ugliest of all, he could've been using sex and devotion to keep the kids in line. Perhaps he had threatened one so that the other obeyed.
The last idea I'd had scared me the most. When I had started feeling the dread in my gut, I had done what I do best. I Observed. Little Alice was my favorite of the clan. The adoration her towering, golden-haired "boyfriend" lavished upon her was evidence that they weren't playing a role. I had seen nothing but love in the pixie's odd golden eyes when she returned his gaze. I could see her trying to recruit my Bella to protect her love. The fact that this man, no, this monster had been taking advantage of misguided youth was an outrage. Adoptive parents indeed!
Not my Bella was all that I could think. She had graduated so there was nothing keeping her with me. I would never sign away my parental rights, but she could just marry Edward and get her Cullen name that way. I had to confront him. The call is still fresh in my mind.
"Carlisle Cullen please." I asked the smooth voice on the other line.
"This is Carlisle speaking, how can I help you?" He sounded like he was expecting my call.
"This is Chief Charlie Swan, Mr. Cullen. I have some concerns and I would like to speak to you in person, if you don't mind.
"No, Chief Swan, I don't mind at all. Would you like to meet here? I know you weren't able to come to the graduation party. Perhaps you would like to tour the house once we're finished talking. Esme love to give tours."
"That would be fine, I'll be over within the hour."
I had tried to be business-like but his calm demeanor was unnerving. He had sounded like he already knew why I was calling. Ridiculous, I know, but that was still how I felt. When I arrived at the beautiful old house, I wondered what he needed from these kids. Why not a larger group? Why only teens? I could think of several adult members of Forks who would follow Carlisle Cullen in a heartbeat. He could've proclaimed himself God and they would've fallen to their knees in worship. Something was rotten in the heart of Forks; I just couldn't put my finger on it.
Carlisle and Esme had met me at the door with welcoming smiles. Esme Cullen's ethereal beauty was breathtaking. They were a Hollywood couple in a small town. They surrounded themselves with achingly beautiful children. Why was I here? One look into Esme's tawny eyes and I had forgotten my own daughter. This was a dangerous game I was playing, I should have told someone where I had gone. There had been no hostility in their faces, but every instinct had screamed for me to run. What kind of illicit activities were going on here that had caused my fight or flight reaction? I had to find out…for Bella.
"Chief Swan, welcome to our home," Mrs. Cullen must have sensed my discomfort, her tone was trying to put me at ease. "Please come in, the children have gone for the afternoon."
I'd nodded, still fighting the urge to flee, and had walked past her into the gorgeous restoration. Everything in the house had played on variations of a white theme. There'd been nothing threatening about the home, no strange religious symbols, no doctrine written on the walls. It had been the home of a well-to-do Doctor and his unorthodox family. I began to feel slightly embarrassed for my concerns.
"How can I help you Chief Swan?" Carlisle Cullen had offered me a seat on a long white couch, and then sat gracefully across from me.
I'd cleared my throat nervously and threw myself into the questioning. I kept Bella's beautiful face in my mind, pale with bruised purple circles around her eyes. It had been so hard to do with Dr. Cullen looking so encouragingly at me.
"Dr. Cullen, I must admit, I have some reservations with Bella being here. Your children worry me, although I can't say exactly why. I thought, perhaps it was drugs, but I believe Bella would have told me about that. Then I wondered if there were possibly serious eating disorders. Do you know I've never seen Alice or Edward eat a thing when Bella cooks? In my nervousness I had begun to ramble, he cut me off.
"Chief Swan, I realize that you have concerns. I would myself if my Alice or Rosalie were in the same situation." I could have sworn there was humor in his eyes as he sought to reassure me. "Here is a family that you know little to nothing about, and now suddenly the one person you love most is spending most of her time with them. Let me take a some time to tell you about our family and calm any fears you may have."
I'd sat back on the comfortable couch and willed my racing heart to slow. He wasn't being unreasonable, I had told myself. I would give him the benefit of the doubt. I'd been drawn in as soon as he started speaking.
"Esme and I have been married for a long time. I've known her since she was sixteen, and we've been in love ever since. We were not able to have biological children, so we looked to adoption. Edward was our first child, but we couldn't bear to see him alone, so we took in Alice and Emmett. Older children are so much easier to adopt because everyone seems to want an infant. Esme, bless her, just wanted to help children, to give them a safe home where they would be understood and supported."
I had nodded unconsciously at that, I knew placement of older children was difficult. They often withered away in foster homes, moving from place to place never able to put down roots.
"Jasper and Rosalie came to us last. Their parents were killed in a car crash, and being Esme's niece and nephew, we couldn't let them become wards of the state. That was where we encountered our first problem. The children were around each other so much that sparks flew. It was almost like Emmett and Rosalie, Alice and Jasper were made for each other. We tried to discourage the relationships, but they weren't the same without each other. Alice fell apart without Jasper, much like Edward did when we left Forks and Bella. We couldn't do that to them, so with strict rules like separate rooms and outside socializing, we allowed them to be together. We would not tolerate drug use or premarital sex, and if we thought the children had something as serious as an eating disorder, we would definitely seek help."
I'm sure I had looked skeptical, because Dr. Cullen leaned forward earnestly. I immediately leaned deeper into the couch, away from him honest face. The reaction had been instinctual, and slightly disturbing. What was wrong with me? He'd leaned back again, seemingly aware of my racing heart, and started talking again.
"We're strict vegetarians, you see. I'm sure Alice and Edward didn't want Bella to feel as if she needed to make something special. Some of the kids have severe allergies as well. They get pretty ill if they eat something they shouldn't."
That idea had never occurred to me. I wonder why Bella never mentioned it.
"Charlie, I just want to put your mind at ease. We know Edward and Bella are young, but Esme and I know about young love. We saw what it did to both Edward and Bella when they were apart. I remember how Bella looked when we returned. Believe me, we thought we had lost Edward. If it weren't for Bella coming when she did, I think we may have. They have something special. We love Bella like a daughter and so we hold her to the same rules as the other children. We aren't trying to take her from you Charlie; we've told her that she shouldn't rush into any major decisions."
His voice had been so smooth, his tone so persuasive that everything had made sense. Any resistance I had had was gone; I'd believed everything he told me. Small talk had rounded out my visit, and as I had left in came little Alice.. She shot me a beatific smile on her way to the grand staircase, and told me she would see me later. She moved so quickly that I cannot be sure but I could have sworn she winked at her parents.
I'd returned to my car and went over the conversation on the drive home. The sense of calm I'd had was gone, I saw a million possible holes in his explanation. Another confrontation was futile, I'm sure I would again leave completely under his spell. I'm not really sure what happened, but now my heart was heavy because I knew she was lost. He was a better fisherman than I, equipped with far better lures. In spite of everything Dr. Cullen and his beautiful wife said, I knew they would make her one of them. If only I knew what that was.