Hey guys! I know, I'm being bad, posting another story even though Protector isn't finished yet. I haven't abandoned it, but I've been having more fun with this one, and I want to see if people like it. Protector has become a bit of a chore, people don't like it as much as EPOV.
So, here's something else I've been working on.
Like all my stories, it's Bella and Edward, and full of angsty-goodness. It will be done from both BPOV, and EPOV. Chapter lengths vary. Like my other stories, it's rated M for mature readers, for violence, language, mature themes, and lemons. Go away kiddies, search for some "T" Rated titles, because my stories aren't for you. This story will also deal with mature subject matter like bullying, depression and drugs. It's kind of weird posting this story here, because in its original format I have to use a lot of different fonts, but I'll see how it goes I guess.
I'm not a medical professional, this story is just for fun, I apologize for any discrepancies.
Disclaimer: Stephanie Meyer owns Twilight, if you hadn't already figured that out. Are disclaimers really necessary? Everyone else is doing it, not sure if it's mandatory or not…
. . . Bella . . .
Charlie's cruiser passed the old-looking, crumbling, paint-covered sign that notified me that we had crossed into his home-town.
That was the only sign. Not literally; I mean if I hadn't seen that wooden sign I wouldn't have known we were in an actual town. It was just more trees. More rain. More Highway. More nothing.
Green, brown, grey…and more damn green.
And it was cold. And wet. I disliked both attributes equally, a polar-opposite of Arizona.
It was perfect.
The car remained quiet, as it had for the last two hours. He'd done his best to fill the silence with excited chatter for the first two, telling me everything he could think of about my new home. As I knew it would, though, the conversation had faded into a heavy silence. And there wasn't a damn thing I could do about it. I'd been expecting it and tried not to let it get to me, but it was hard not to feel guilty about stressing him out already when we hadn't even made it to his house.
I should learn Morse Code, I bet he knew that.
Charlie was great, he had confidence and an air of authority to him that I'd always respected. He was bluntly honest, but never in a hurtful way. Not intentionally, anyways. He was protective, he was generous, and he genuinely cared about helping others.
And I'm pretty sure he'd always been in love with my mom.
I wondered if he still was, and if he did I wondered if it made him feel as fucked up as it made me feel.
I wish I could break the silence. Put him at ease.
I wish I could say thank-you.
I wish I could give him a fucking hug.
I held my breath, staring at the ceiling of the cabin as I fought back my tears. I wasn't going to put that shit on him too.
It was almost two in the morning, so, obviously, it was dark out. He tried pointing out a few things to me, miscellaneous businesses, but I couldn't make anything out besides the Thriftway with its lit up, empty parking lot. I was relieved to see a normal-looking grocery store in the middle of nowhere. At least I knew Charlie didn't have to live solely off fish. I wouldn't have been surprised with the way he talked about his boat.
We turned right onto a side road, driving down to the end and stopping at a cul-de-sac. His house was at the very end, backed against the forest. It was a decent sized bungalow, some light colour I couldn't quite make out in the dark. White, grey, maybe beige. He didn't have a garden or anything, not that I was expecting him to.
When he parked in his driveway, he gave me a slightly-uncomfortable smile, and I gave him the best, brightest smile that I was capable of. If it was all I could do, I'd smile at him until my damn teeth fell out.
He got out, and I copied, following him. He brushed me off when I tried to help with my bags. Not literally, he was being very careful not to come within an arm's reach of me. It hurt, but it wasn't like I could do anything about that. And I wasn't that bad. Not around him. I had been fine sitting next to him in the car after the first hour or so.
He was only trying to help so I tried to look at it as him being thoughtful, not me being fucked-up. But I knew I was. Even if they said it was normal, I was still not fucking normal. My thoughts were only confirmed as he reached out to offer me his keys, making me flinch away violently.
"Shit, Bells, I'm sorry, I didn't-"
I held out my hand in a stopping motion, pleading with my eyes for him to stop, for him to see how sorry I was.
He gave me a reassuring smile, and then did something that made my damn year.
He didn't give up on me, or try to baby me. He lifted the keys up in an offer, away from him, but not reaching for me.
My pulse started thudding loudly in my ears, I could feel it echoing in my head, every muscle in my body tightened reflexively, and I felt a cool flush start at the back of my neck and drip all the way down to my toes. My stomach rolled.
He gave me an encouraging, patient smile.
"I know you're not afraid of me, baby girl," he teased with a smile.
I clenched my jaw. My fists.
I took seventeen long, deep, calming breaths that did shit-all.
My hand flashed out quickly, snatching the keys in a blur. I gasped, doubling over in pain from the nausea, the dizziness, the humiliation, and the crippling, paralyzing, completely-fucking-irrational fear.
Charlie didn't touch me. I started to hear his voice as the ringing in my ears began to fade.
"… chuckles and replies, "He sure did!" "Well," said the little girl, "Next year tell Santa that the dick goes under the horse, not on top of it!""
"Okay. So, this old lady gets pulled over for speeding. When the officer comes up she asks if there's a problem, and he tells her that she was speeding. She just says "Oh," calmly, nothing else."
The corner of my mouth twitched at the sound of his eerily-realistic old woman impersonation.
"He asks to see her license, and she says, "I'd give it to you, but I don't have one.""
Holy shit. I was full on grinning at his voice.
"You don't have one?" He asked in his usual tone. Impersonating a cop. Oh my God.
""No, I lost it, four years ago for drunk driving." He was obviously alarmed, and asked for her registration. But she tells him she can't give it to him. When he asks why; she tells him she stole it, and that she hacked up the owner after stealing his car, and he's stuffed in bags in the trunk. He tells her to stay in the car, runs and calls for back-up, and in minutes reinforcements are there. He tells his senior officer what she told him, and he goes up and slowly approaches her, where she's still sitting, innocently and patiently in her car. And he goes "Ma'am, could you step out of your vehicle please!" And she steps out."
"Is there a problem, sir?" He asked in an innocent, feminine tone, and I'm shaking, heaving with silent laughter.
"One of my officers told me that you've stolen this car and murdered the owner."
"Murdered the owner?"
""Yes, if you could open the trunk of your car, please." And the woman goes and opens the trunk, but its empty."
""Is this your car, ma'am?" And he's all fucking confused when she tells him yes, and gives him her license and registration. He's just floored, not knowing what to make of it, and quickly apologizes to her. "Thank you ma'am. I'm sorry; one of my officers told me you didn't have a license, that you stole this car, and that you murdered and hacked up the owner.""
"And the old lady just starts fucking laughing. "Bet the liar told you I was speeding, too.""
And Charlie just starts laughing his ass off at his own joke, and I had tears from smiling so hard. I've always thought he had an awesome laugh.
"How you feeling, kiddo?"
I swiped at my face, still smiling as I gave him a thumbs-up. I saw his fists clench, most likely to stop himself from giving me a hand up.
"Good. I think you're doing awesome, just so you know. Those are some karate-kid-quality reflexes you got there."
I bit onto my bottom lip, trying to stop smiling because it was hurting my face now. He gestured grandly for me to do the honors, and I think my hand was only shaking from exhaustion now. I stuck in one of the two keys on the chain, the one that wasn't obviously a car key.
I stepped into the blackness cautiously, barely jumping when Charlie turned on the lights.
First thought that came to mind? Bachelor pad.
Second? It was very clean. And organized. I hadn't been expecting that. He led me through, talking comfortably as he dragged my suitcases and tracked dirt all over his clean hardwood floors. It was very bright while lit up. Obviously. But the walls were white, the curtains a light grey. The front foyer opened to a large living room on one side, and he pointed out the door to the garage on the other as he took me in the opposite direction. He had comfy-looking grey leather couches and recliners, a big TV, and dark wood tables. He showed me his kitchen, which was warm with dark cabinets, sand coloured tiles and dark green counter tops. A big glass door that led out to his backyard. Then there was the laundry room, and he showed me where his bedroom was, before walking into what was to be my new bedroom.
"Favourite colour still blue?"
I smiled brightly, nodding my head. He looked quite pleased with himself as I looked around. A big bed with a bunch of pillows and a fluffy dark blue comforter with light blue sheets. He had told me his guest bedroom's bed had been bigger than mine, and barely used, so I'd gotten rid of mine. I loved it. My curtains matched the blanket, as did the chair that was rolled into the cute, little, pale-wood corner desk. It had a few shelves, but not nearly enough for all my crap. He told me my things would be in this week, though, and I'd kept the nicest shelves from her house.
It was awesome.
And my big window opened right into the back yard. I wasn't sure how I felt about that. I gave him the brightest smile I had before diving into my purse and pulling out my book. I was so happy that we weren't driving anymore, and that I could at least do this.
It's amazing. Thank you Charlie, so much. I could never thank you enough for this, and I really appreciate everything that you're doing for me.
I turned the book to face him so he could read, and his face lit up. He shocked me by looking a little choked up, his eyes glassy as he gave me a brilliant smile.
"I'm glad, and happy to have you here, Bella. You're my Goddaughter, and I'm so glad that I have you. I think I got pretty lucky," he said with a wink, making my shoulders bounce a little with a silent laugh. Yeah, like me now, Charlie was family-free. He's told me my entire life that he didn't want any kids besides me, and that I just ruined any future prospects because I was perfect. The man knew how to sweet-talk, that was for sure. He seemed to enjoy the single life.
I had always seen him as more of a father than a Godfather. The only one I've ever had.
I really got lucky, getting stuck with you too.
He chuckled, rolling his eyes. We left my bags in my room, and I followed him out again as he showed me how to operate the security system, giving me the code which I made sure to memorize instead of writing down. He showed me where the mud/laundry/storage room was, familiarized me with the kitchen, then the living room, showing me where everything was. He was yawning every minute, and I tapped my nails on my book to catch his attention. He turned instantly in surprise, and then grinned as he laughed.
"Man, you're so damn quiet that I was starting to worry that you wouldn't be able to get my attention." He quickly looked worried about his bluntness for a moment, but I liked it and gave him an understanding smile. Even small noises sound loud when there's no other sound at all.
"Was that insensitive?" he asked, still wary. I shook my head, and he smiled mischievously. "Would it be insensitive for me to buy you a bell? Get it? Bells?"
I smirked, and gave him the finger, making him laugh. And then he yawned again. I tapped again to get back to my original statement. Well, if you can call a look a statement. He got it, though.
"Yeah, it's late. Let's both get some sleep," he said with a huff. "Sleep in as late as you want, and feel free to raid the cupboards. I sleep like the dead, so if you need me just knock real loud, 'kay? Anytime, for anything."
I smiled, nodding.
My smile fell pretty quickly when he stopped mid-stride on his way to hug me. I saw the pain in his eyes, though he quickly hid it.
"I love you, kid."
I tapped below my eye, made a heart with my hands over my chest, then pointed at him before holding up two fingers. He gave me a loving smile, and wished me good night before slipping into his room and closing the door.
With a quiet sigh, I went through the quiet house, all quiet-like.
I hated this, so fucking much. More and more every day.
Silence was louder than any noise, and I constantly wanted to break it, to snap the throbbing, ringing quiet.
I went over to his kitchen, not really feeling guilty because I'd seen him demolish our kitchen frequently on his visits south. Not hungry, but knowing forcing something now would be better than the nausea, migraine, and stomach cramps later, I grabbed a yogurt. Strawberry because everything else was disgusting. Then I hunted down a spoon before fleeing to my room. I opened my bags, got changed into my favourite baggy Billabong t-shirt, and then shuddered as I took off my little blue, beaded scarf.
Ah! It's so much cooler here. It will really expand my dressing options.
Charlie had forgotten to mention that I had my own bathroom. Amazing. I found towels and face cloths, and after taking my sleeping pills and hastily swallowing down my yogurt I brushed my teeth and washed my face before braiding my hair. I dug my iPod out of my purse, turned off my lights, and crawled into bed before sticking my ear buds in.
There were no words that could accurately describe how amazing it was to be doing all these things in an actual house, a drastic difference to the medical institute and the hospital before that. How relieving it was not being scrutinized and monitored by a team of professionals.
I still had that creepy, being-watched feeling, even though I knew it was completely irrational. There were two still left out there, but with mom dead, they didn't have any use for me anymore. They wouldn't come back for me.
I put on my sleeping playlist, and concentrated hard on the words of the lyrics until I started missing words, forgetting what the last ones were, until I had no thoughts left to make sense of it and drifted into a deep, dreamless sleep.
. . . . .
I woke up, only having a mild episode of panic when I realized I wasn't in the hospital any more.
I wasn't in Arizona. I was in Forks. With Charlie. Where no one knew me.
Those thoughts made my panic dissipate faster than it ever had before.
I stretched before getting out of bed and jumping in the shower. Once I was thoroughly clean and moisturized, my hair dried and straightened, I got dressed in some nice, pale jeans, and a pretty black turtle neck.
I'd lost weight, not necessarily in a good way, but I looked awesome in this sweater.
Then I ventured out into the house at almost noon, and it didn't look like Charlie was up yet. I started hunting for something to eat, but couldn't find anything that looked good. It was cool just having the option of looking through a fridge, though. And it was weird that it was weird.
"Morning, kid," Charlie said, making me jump, but he just pretended that I didn't. "Did you sleep well?" I nodded happily, and then nodded to him. "Oh yeah, I was out like a light. You hungry?"
I nodded again, and he pursed his lips for a moment, debating something, but I think he decided not to voice whatever he was thinking. "Lunch or breakfast?"
I shrugged one shoulder, and Charlie decided he wanted lunch. He got me to make a salad while he went out and threw two chicken breasts on the grill. He seemed a lot more comfortable now than he had been in the car, and went on and on, telling me every little detail about the town, his co-workers, a couple ex-girlfriends, his work schedule, what his day-to-days here were like, anything that he could think of. A lot was a repeat of yesterday's conversation, but I didn't have the best memory lately, so I was thankful.
I was glad he could fill the silence; it wasn't something that many people were comfortable doing for any length of time. But as always, it came with the stomach-churning guilt. Once we finished eating and cleaned up, he asked me to sit with him in his living room, and he turned on the TV for background noise as we both sat in his recliners.
I clutched my book tightly to my chest.
"Listen Bells…After Arizona, I'm sure you've already had to deal with people, crowds, questions in the hospital?"
I nodded, choosing not to tell him that I had been more or less ignored for the last month. Once they finally accepted that I was fine as long as no one was around, they just let me finish my mural and checked on me frequently to make sure I hadn't had a heart attack. I hated the dense crowds, though; everywhere had always been teaming with swarms of people in those buildings, making it nearly-impossible to leave my room. Not that I was allowed to anyways, and there was no reason to unless it was to paint in my empty hallway at night.
"I'm guessing, though, that you were probably just playing invisible, right?"
I nodded reluctantly, but was pleased that he didn't look at me with pity. He only wanted facts.
"Well, I'm not quite sure that's going to work as well for you here. It's a small town, and new additions are a rarity. I want to show you around, but I need you to know that people are going to be curious, they're going to want to talk to you, and there are a lot of damn huggers around here. Most people will probably try for a handshake, but yeah."
I was not going to cry. I already knew this would happen, but this was better than still being in the desert. I nodded, and wrote.
What have you told them about me?
"Nothing yet, just that my Goddaughter was coming to live with me. I wasn't going to give them any details until I knew what you were okay with. Aside from the school faculty, who know your medical restrictions."
Damn, I loved him so much. And I knew the school part was necessary.
"So, before we leave, we need to decide what you want your story to be, if you want to give any at all."
I didn't. He got that from one look, and nodded.
"So, why are you here?"
I debated that for a moment. Really, I had been expecting to just go with whatever he said so I hadn't put much thought into it. But he was keeping the ball in my court. Which was…awesome. It was nice feeling in control of something.
Change of scenery?
He snorted, and nodded.
"Do you want to say anything about her?" I shook my head quickly, and he nodded again.
We were both silent for a long minute, and I had to ask. I needed to know.
Do you still love her?
He went rigid when I asked that, and his face reddened.
"No. If I'd been the leading officer there, I would have shot her myself," he said in a curt tone, but his face softened when he noticed my wariness. I hadn't wanted to upset him. "Shh, baby girl, I'm not mad at you. I'm proud of you; you've come so far over these past few months. I'm just sorry I left you with her. I'll never be able to forgive her."
I nodded, feeling almost relieved. I guess a small part of me thought that he'd be resentful of me, for being the one responsible for her being gone, and I was high on the relief that this wasn't the case.
"Okay, so, you're here for a change of scenery. Parent questions will be side-stepped. Do you have any problem with people knowing about your correspondence?" I shook my head. "Do you mind me saying that you're…strict about your personal space?"
I thought about that, and really…was there any point in hiding it? They'd know, obviously, and I wanted my damn space bubble to be respected.
People give you a wide berth in hallways if you make them uneasy.
I shook my head. Charlie smirked.
"We could say you're an OCD germaphobe."
My air left me in a little gust as I shook with silent laughter.
Sure, why not?
They'd probably be more comfortable with OCD than PTSD anyways.
"Cool. Now that that's settled, we need to talk about ground rules." I raised an eyebrow at him, and he shrugged. "The school will be letting me know how you're doing with your homework, so I'll know if you're slacking off. As long as you keep your grades high, you're free to come and go as you please, just send me a text so that I know where you're at in case anything happens." I nodded, that would be easy. "And you know I don't care if you smoke, but if I think it's ever affecting your grades or you start telling people and-"
I shook my head quickly, becoming panicked. And I'd never tell anyone that he smoked, I don't even think my mom knew. I had only tried it once before the accident, and it was with Charlie. And I had promised him that I'd never smoke anyone's weed after that. It had been him that told my doctor to let me try it for medicinal purposes, though.
"Yeah, I know you wouldn't, kid. But I still have to say it. And I have no problem with you bringing people over, but open doors if there are boys."
I snorted, surprising myself with the noise. That was the loudest sound I'd made in…too long, and I was over-joyed to discover it. I had given up trying months ago.
"Well, you never know. You're doing great. You could run into someone nice, or you could change your mind to go to school. I just want you to know that it's okay. This is your home now, and I want you to be comfortable."
Oh, Charlie, I already am. I haven't been this relaxed since the day before it all happened.
"Okay. So, finances." I cringed. I didn't like the idea of putting him out, and he chuckled. I'd get a job if I was capable of doing, like, anything. But I wasn't. "Your house has been sold, and we won the claim for your mother's life insurance. I have both of them set up in an account for you, but you're probably going to want to save that money for college or whatever." I winced. I doubted I'd be able to attend a big university if I couldn't even deal with the thought of going to the tiny high school here. "Hey, none of that. There are a world of options, we'll figure something out later. We don't have to worry about it now." I nodded. "So, you won't have to worry about food or any of that, but I was thinking of giving you an allowance or something for anything else you might need?"
I shook my head. No, I didn't want his money. He sighed.
"Yeah, I figured. Which is why I got you a job."
"Calm down, you'll be fine. We need someone to start making electronic copies of our old records. You can work here from home, or in a room by yourself at the station. It's your call."
I can do it here?
He smiled brightly. "Yup. And it will look good on your resume."
My face split with my smile, and I was just so. Damn. Happy!
A job. I will be employed.
He laughed at something in my expression.
"Excellent. The only thing we need to work out is how many hours a week you want to work. You'll have to come in to sign out the documents, then bring them back when you finish them. It's up to you how many days a week you want to do it."
Can I come in on the days you're working?
He gave me a gentle nod and a smile, and I relaxed, giving him a grateful smile in return.
"You're very welcome," he said with a wink. "So, besides that just keep your room clean, if you make a mess somewhere clean it up, and you're doing your own laundry."
I rolled my eyes. Charlie was not washing my clothes, I wouldn't let him even if he wanted to.
"How are you in the kitchen?"
I can get by. It's been a while, though.
"Well, I'm not home for dinner most of the time, I usually just grab a meal from the diner. But I was thinking we could alternate dinner duty on the nights I have off?"
I gave him a thumbs-up. Very reasonable.
"You know, you're making this a little too damn easy kid. You're a teenager, rebel or something. Just don't get caught, I'd feel like a shit if I had to arrest you."
I laughed again, kind of, making him smile.
"So, do you want to go grab your stuff from the school now? I can show you around a bit more too, now that it's light out and everything."
He gave me a long minute to relax after that statement, waiting patiently until I gave him a nod.
"Great, let's get this party started." He got up, and I ran to grab my purse from my room before coming back out. He tossed me the same set of keys as yesterday that I'd left in the bowl in the kitchen. "You okay driving? You'll remember better if you do it yourself."
I nodded, a little weirded out by the fact he was going to let me drive the cruiser, but he opened the door to his garage and waved me in ahead of him. He hit the lights, and I kind of wheezed in lieu of a laugh. It was an adorable, vintage, robin's egg blue Volkswagen. Picturing him driving this…it was too much. He just lost so many man-points in my book, not that I'd ever tell him. I smiled at him, and he rolled his eyes.
"Fuck off, this is your car, not mine," he laughed.
I blinked at him, my mouth hanging open unattractively.
"What? You needed some way to get to and from work. This is easier than chauffeuring you around."
My eyes watered. I can't believe he bought me a damn car.
"Shit, Bells, please don't cry," he said in a panicked voice. Which made me feel even worse. I wanted to give him a hug so badly, and I knew he gave the best hugs in the world. And it's been so long since I've touched someone.
That ache, that big black hole in my chest opened up, and I felt like I was drowning.
I wrapped my arms around my self tightly, breathing raggedly, trying to stop my body from crumbling apart because it felt like it would at any moment.
I looked up at him, trying to apologize with my eyes, praying he could see how sorry I was, how grateful and thankful I was.
And he looked like he was in excruciating pain as well, not knowing what to do. I knew he wanted to hug me too, to comfort me, but he didn't know how. He wrapped his arms around himself like me, and I closed my eyes, trying to pretend my arms were someone else's.
It didn't help, it just freaked me out trying to picture someone else holding me.
And then I could feel the hands again, on my wrists, my ankles, my head, holding me down, and I couldn't breathe. I was gasping but I couldn't pull in any air. Black spots started to cloud my vision, and a wave of dizziness washed over me before everything went black.
A/N: Please let me know what you think!
2018 Edit: It's been so long since I've updated this story…I'm going through, making a few corrections, and cutting out some ANs most likely. Thanks for reading!