Chapter 19: Settling In


Images of Bella feeding Carlie flowed into my mind while I finished slicing a peeled apple. Along with the images, a feeling of sadness washed over me, which was easily pushed into the back of my mind. Carlie didn't need words to let me know how she felt about waking from her nap to find her momma gone. It pained me to know that she was hurting for Bella, but her momma needed to be with Charlie, and the hospital wasn't a place our daughter could go with her growing abilities. Once her food was in front of her, Carlie put her hands over her face.

"Momma will be home soon, baby. I know you're hungry. Why don't I hold you while you eat?"

When she reached for me, I lifted her from the highchair, settling her on my lap. Once in my arms, my angel picked up a piece of apple, popping it in her mouth. After eating most of the apple and some of the turkey left over from dinner last night, Carlie pushed away the plate. My little girl stayed against my left hip as I cleaned up, only getting down once we were in her room.

Carlie walked to her crib, using the small step stool to get up onto the mattress. Yesterday the outer rail had been removed, converting the crib into a toddler bed since Carlie was able to climb out. So far she liked the change and stayed in her bed during nap and bedtime.

Once Bunny was in her grasp, she ran over to me putting her friend on my lap before going over to her little stove. At our family's house, Carlie loved watching her Mimi as she cooked. Her little oven was her favorite toy due to her interest in making food. Once she had finished cooking, my little girl brought over a purple plate with a plastic fish on it.

An image of me feeding Bunny came into my mind. When I complied, she rewarded me with a smile. After meal time was over for Bunny, my angel got a book down from the shelf within her reach, taking it over to the rocking chair. Determined to do things on her own, Carlie put the book on the chair before grabbing on the arm rests attempting to pull up on the seat. When that didn't work, she got her stool and clapped her hands once she was sitting there all on her own.

"You are a big girl."

She smiled, reaching one hand out as she opened and closed it. After we were both seated in the chair, and the book was open on her lap, I began to read the story of Curious George.

Carlie's small hand patted the picture of the monkey.

"That is George."

Her head tilted back so that she could see me.

"Is he a monkey?"

"Key key."

"He is very curious of the yellow hat." As I patted the picture her attention was drawn back to the book. While we read the story, Carlie would pat a picture attempting to say the words. When we finished she turned the book to the first page, and we went through the story again.

Watching my wife and daughter cuddling in our bed, was something that never tired me. The moment her mother arrived in the house, Carlie was in her arms. According to Bella, Carlie was showing all the things that happened while I was alone with her. As they snuggled together, our baby had Curious George open again, showing her momma the 'key key' along with the 'hat'

"It sounds like you and dadda had a good time."

At the mention of my name, Carlie glanced at me before snuggling against her momma's chest. Jealous feelings filled my mind, stopping once I was in the kitchen. After getting out leftovers from last night, I prepared two plates for my girls, microwaving both meals.

Just as everything was set on the table, Bella came in with Carlie cradled in her arms. "Hmm, Dadda fixed a good dinner for us." My wife sat down letting Carlie remain on her lap.

"How is…"

"No no dadda."

Bella looked down at our daughter, before turning her so they could look at one another. "Carlie, Dadda can talk to me too."

"Momma have."

"You have momma. Now, we need to eat, and you need to be nice to your dadda."

There was an audible huff as Bella turned her back around. This time she remained quiet while I asked about Charlie.

"He's really tired of being in the hospital, but your father is correct. He needs to stay there until we are sure everything is mended. Charlie will do everything he can not to rest when he gets home. He also misses seeing Carlie."

"That's understandable. I miss both of you when I'm away, hunting. Speaking of that, Carlisle has been talking about switching her to animal blood."

My wife finished chewing the bite of food in her mouth. "I wonder how that will go."

"Not too bad. We'll start her on Mountain Lion. It's the closest to what she's taking now." As we talked, Carlie focused on eating both from her plate and her mothers.

After dinner while Bella and Carlie took a bath, I made quick work out of cleaning the kitchen. Just as that was finished, Carlisle's thoughts entered my mind as he approached the house. He was going over the different parts of the heart, meaning he was keeping something from me.

Before he knocked, I told him to come in. The features on his face were calm. I knew if it was Charlie he would already have let me know, so I could prepare Bella.

"They are finishing in the bathroom." He nodded as we sat down. While we waited, Carlisle let me know how Chief Swan was doing from a medical view. "He's healing remarkably well, all things considered."

"All things considered? He had you. I would think that should count for most of it."

Carlisle chuckled. "He is determined, that has a lot more to do with it than what I did in surgery. He's lucky to still be with us."

A few minutes later, Carlie ran in, laughing when Carlisle caught her in his arms and lifted her in the air. "Gain Poppy gain." Her Poppy complied as her laughter filled the room.

"Key key." Once she was on her feet, Carlie ran back the way she came, leaving us alone with my father.

"Bella, I ran the test, and nothing yet."

My wife leaned into my arms as Carlisle offered an explanation. "Many times stress can be a factor in women not conceiving, even with the percentages in your favor."

"Or, I may be in that ten percent, and just lucked out with Carlie."

He nodded. "I'm sorry I don't have better news."

Before Carlisle could continue, my angel returned with Curious George. Once she was settled on his lap, she showed him pictures telling him about George and the hat, leaving Bella and I a chance to talk.

"Did you think you were?"

Her head nodded. "I wanted it to be a surprise, and I told Carlisle to let both of us know if I wasn't. Honestly, with Carlie's abilities, maybe it's better that we just have one child."

After our little girl was down for the evening, and once a fire was crackling in the fire place, Bella and I settled down on the blankets spread on the floor. My wife settled next to me, both of us on our sides. "We could increase our efforts to conceive," I whispered, reaching out to run my fingers through her silky waves of hair.

When her eyes filled with tears, I pulled her against my chest. "Don't cry."

My wife sniffed. "Can't help it. The thought of not being able to experience another pregnancy with you here just hurts so much." More tears wet my chest.

"Are those videos of Carlie around?"

I felt her head nod before Bella moved away from me. Both of us sat up. When she came back she handed me the small video recorder. Getting it set up was a breeze and when she was ready, I pressed the play button.

Charlie's voice came on before any picture. "Bells, something's not, oh wait it might help if I removed the cap off the lens. Alright. World meet my new granddaughter, Carlie Elisabeth Swan." The camera zoomed in to the incubator. Inside was our daughter, so tiny and so helpless. Bella leaned against me as we watched the video from Carlie's first few days, all the way until she got to come home to Forks.

When it ended, all I could do was hold my wife close. "I am so sorry for not being here."

"Don't be, remember, no guilt about what happened, only the future, and this isn't supposed to make you feel guilty."

Even though it wasn't, the feelings were still there, but pushed to the back of my mind. Bella was right. We were together now and had a bright future ahead of us.

Jasper had taken an interest in Carlie's abilities, because some of what she did was similar to his powers. While Rosalie sat at the piano playing for her niece, Bella and I sat with him and Alice as he explained an idea. "I've been thinking that maybe if I could project emotions to her, and she can focus on just me, maybe there is a way to teach her to control it, or to help her understand that not everyone needs to feel what she does."

It was Bella who spoke first. "I don't know, she's already so sensitive to everything. It may scare her." When she looked to me, I let them know my thoughts.

"I think if Jasper lets her feel happiness, and she realizes there is someone else who can do the things she can, it may be of some help. If she can learn control early enough she won't be isolated."

With both of us on-board, Rosalie brought Carlie over to Jasper. Everyone else left the room except for the four of us. Carlie laughed, and as she stopped, she put both of her hands on Jasper's cheeks. My brother left his thoughts open so I could explain to Bella what he was feeling, and in turn what he was sharing with our baby. "He says she just let him feel happiness" Carlie laughed again making it unnecessary for me to explain her feelings.

When she patted his cheeks several times, both of us felt Carlie's frustration. "He's withholding his feelings now."

"It's okay not to show your feelings just like I am. Do you want to laugh?" Jasper asked.

"Yes" Carlie's voice was clear, before she began to laugh again.

"There, that's good honey. That feeling is tired."

"No naps."

Jasper chuckled as he hugged her close. When Carlie was ready, Bella took her upstairs to put her down for a nap, leaving me the chance to talk with my brother. "Did you feel anything else with her?"

"The biggest emotion was relief. She knows now that I understand her way of communication better than anyone else. She was also feeling frustrated towards the end, and tired as I said."

There was a strong desire to know what Carlie was feeling beyond what she shared. "I'm wondering if she has what every Bella does to block out my ability of hearing her thoughts. Unless she shares, there is nothing from her."

Jasper chuckled again. "Frustrating?"

"Very much so. I'm just grateful that you can help her. Bella and I have both been worried about having to keep her isolated. If she can learn how to control these gifts, maybe that won't be necessary."

Even though it was cold outside, Bella wanted to go on a walk. Once she was bundled up, we left Carlie asleep with the rest of the family, and headed up the driveway. "Do you think Jasper will mind continuing to show her how to use her gifts?"

"He said he is happy to keep trying."

My wife glanced up at me, smiling. "How do you feel about that?"

"A little jealous, only because it would be nice to have a way to show her on my own. I'm more grateful than anything else. Hopefully this will give her some confidence. What we can do is try and continue to encourage her to use words, along with what she shows us, and when she projects her feelings, like Jasper did."

For a little while there were no words needing to be spoken. Bella held my hand as we both enjoyed our walk together.

"Mom sent me an email the other day about getting some teaching material for Carlie. She thinks it may help her be more confident in verbal communication. I think it's too early to start anything like that."

"Anything we can teach her now, will go a long way as she grows. Did she say what specifically she wants to send our way?"

Bella told me about the early childhood education books, and the catalog that had workbooks for us to use when that time came. In the end, she agreed to reply to the message and accept Renee's offer to send what she wanted.

Charlie's release from the hospital was a relief to us all. Two days later, after Carlie woke up from her nap, Bella and I drove over to his house so they could have a visit.

"Groppa, groppa hold." Carlie had gotten away from Bella, and laughed as Sue helped Charlie settled her on his lap. The color was back in his cheeks, and he smiled as Sue helped get Carlie's coat off.

"My goodness, you have grown so much." Charlie was still for a moment. "Is that right?" He looked over at us as we sat down on the sofa. "She showed me Jasper holding her and I felt happy."

"Jasper can cause people to feel emotion much the way Carlie does. He's been showing her how to control it. Also when she lets him feel something, he gives her the word for the emotion. We all try and do that now."

"Good, I want to see her out and about when she's ready."

After Carlie was done letting her Groppa hold her, she ran over to her rocking horse and got on without any help.

"How does it feel to be home, Dad?"

Charlie leaned back in his chair, pulling on Sue until she was sitting on the right side of his lap. "So much better. I got a shower in my own place. I've shaved, and slept in my own bed. Sue's been keeping me well fed too."

"His appetite is back with a vengeance."

We all laughed drawing Carlie back to us. When she saw Sue on his lap, I quickly went to her. "Remember what Uncle Jasper showed you?"

My little girl huffed, looking up at me. "Would you like to sit on groppa's lap?"

"Groppa hold."

After Sue got up, I lifted Carlie up and a moment later she was snuggled in Charlie's arms.

"Did she project anything to you," Bella asked as Sue sat next to her.

"Not that I'm aware of. If she did it was likely blocked out by my relief and joy at having your father home. We want to go on and move up the wedding date. Now that he's home, and after almost losing him, waiting seems useless to both of us."

"When?" My wife asked while Carlie played patty cake with Charlie.

"Next weekend, on the beach. It's going to be a sunny day. Jake, Quil, and Embry are already working on setting up a nice covered area with some portable heaters. We don't plan to have very many people around, though afterward we will have a larger gathering at my house."

We stayed a little longer, until it was evident that Charlie was getting tired. Before pulling out of his neighborhood, Carlie fell asleep, leaving time for Bella to fill me in on what Sue had talked about with the wedding.

"I'm glad they are doing this now. There's no point in holding off. Dad loves her, and is happier than I've ever seen him. It's very clear that she feels the same way. I'm happy that Jake is helping out."

"Did his news come as a surprise to you?"

My wife reached out and took my free hand, holding on as she began to talk. "In a way, yes. The police force has been his family for so long now. At the same time he did miss a lot when I was a baby, well when mom was with him. She said he buried himself at work after his parents died. He wasn't coping well with their marriage, or maybe their death, mom didn't know which was harder for him. She also needed more attention than he was willing to give her. Anyway, now he has Sue and I think he'll be happy being retired, along with living there. He and Billy will have more time to fish now, if Sue will let that happen."

I glanced over at her. "What do you mean?"

"She likes fishing as well, and she has some ideas on places they can go when they want to get away from it all."

Knowing that my wife was happy with this made me happy. All of us needed some joy and a little time to settle down.

Two days after Bella emailed Renee, her package arrived. Jasper brought it to our cabin and as he and Carlie went to her room to work on her gifts, Bella got a pair of scissors. My wife pulled out three teachers guides handing them to me before reaching back into the box. The next thing she pulled out was a pair of small headphones along with a package of CD's.

Once everything was spread out on the floor in front of us, she sat down on my crossed legs. "I guess these are for the computer?"

"They are games for her to play, though I think we can use those when she's older." Like Bella, the idea of our daughter spending time in front of a computer or a TV screen was not something I felt she needed at this time in her life. The rest of the books were guides on early education. There were basic lesson plans about how to teach Carlie to write her ABCs and her numbers. One book was an actual work book which had numbers and letters printed in color for us to go over with her. "I think this one will be good to use now. The rest needs to come when she has better control at holding on to objects like her spoon and fork."

"I agree. I'm not sure she's going to hold still enough for us to go over any of these."

"She might if we do this before bed, depending on how tired she is."

The next book Bella picked up was a catalog. We spent the time before Carlie came running in, circling the things we wanted to order now, and putting checks by the things we would order later.

When Carlie sat down on Bella's lap, I wrapped my arm around both of them as Jasper joined us, sitting down on our tan ottoman. "How did she do?" Bella asked.

"Much better. I worked on getting her to tell me what she wanted instead of showing me with her mind. She didn't like that idea, so I went over to her tea table and picked up her tea cup as an example. After I did that she took me to the things she wanted to have, and we went over names of everything she took me too."

Not interested in hearing her uncle"s report, Carlie got up and ran over to her toy chest, pulling out her rings before dumping them off the stand to the floor.

"Did she name anything?"

"Tea cup," Jasper informed.

From her spot, Carlie looked over at us. "Tea cup. Have tea cub." We chuckled as she went toward her room and returned with one of her tea cups, giving it to jasper before she left and came back with another one.

She sat down in front of him and he took a pretend drink. Carlie did the same before giggling, and crawling into his lap.

"So, what was in the package?"

"Dadda have."

Bella got up and while she told Jasper about the education supplies, Carlie led the way to her room.

"Dadda, tea cup."

When I took one, she smiled at me before going over to her bed. Once she had her blanket and Bunny, my little girl came to me, cuddling in my arms as I walked over to the rocking chair. I felt tired, and as we rocked together, Carlie didn't try and get away.

"Dadda hmm."

The tune I hummed was a new song I had been working out in my mind. Carlie tried to mimic what I was doing for a minute before lifting her head, looking up at me. She yawned showing me an image of her in bed between Bella and myself.

In our front room, Jasper was getting ready to leave, though not before our daughter reached out for him giving him a one armed hug while hanging on to me.

"She wants us to snuggle with her." I told Bella, once Jasper was gone.

Bella smiled at me. "I think that sounds like a nice idea. Why don't we snuggle by the fire."

While Bella spread out the blankets along with a few pillows, our baby watched from my arms. When the pallet was ready, I laid her down, taking the diaper my wife handed me. Getting her changed was easy now that she didn't struggle. Once we were all settled together, Carlie rolled over on her tummy holding on to her two buddies as Bella and I settled on our sides. It didn't take her long to go to sleep, and Bella and I were content to simply rest beside our baby, watching over her.

"This is what you do when I sleep?"

"Sometimes I close my eyes and listen to you and Carlie breathe. It's the most comforting sound to me, along with the beating of your hearts."

It wasn't long before my love joined our daughter in sleep, leaving me to keep them safe. That was a job I would never grow tired of, not even when my wife joined me in immortality.

AN: Thank you all for the reviews and adds to Fav's. So another chapter for you. Hopefully more answers to some of the questions on pregnancy. Happy reading, and thank you again for taking the time to read and review.