Chapter 42 – Living
The Cullens weren't happy about our impromptu vacation apart from them; especially Edward's parents, after already being away from him for most of his life, but they also understood. It wasn't going to be a long separation, we just needed some time to ourselves, and they were supportive of that.
After purchasing a car, we set out to the great unknown. It didn't really matter where we went, and as we soon discovered, a small musty motel room in the middle of nowhere, was as good of a place to reconnect as any.
After several glorious weeks of driving, and us just worshiping each other as we saw the countryside, we both felt completely refreshed. But as much as we enjoyed ourselves, we figured it was probably about time to reconvene with the coven.
"So, next stop, Brazil?" I asked Edward, knowing the Cullens had all gone back to the island.
"There is still so much of the world left to see," Edward said as he considered it.
"We can see the rest with everyone else," I countered after holding up my cell phone and showing him Emmett's emotional plea, via text message, for us to come home.
Edward chuckled. "He is such a baby."
"I know, but everyone wants us to come back."
"I suppose we can take more vacations with just the two of us in the future," he relented.
"We better. You still owe me a helicopter ride over the Hawaiian volcanos."
"Yeah, but it won't be as fun without dumping a body over the edge."
"Are you sure there isn't anything else you want to do before we go back to them?" he questioned.
I laughed once. "We've already done so much more than I could have ever imagined in my eighteen years. You're the one who was locked in a cage for a century. Is there anything left you want to do before we go to Brazil?"
He thought about it for a minute. "There is one thing I've ways wanted to see."
It took another four days to get to our intended location, and once there I became unexpectedly nervous. "Are you sure you want to do this?"
"We certainly don't have to if you don't want to," he assured me.
"If this is important to you, then let's do it."
"I wouldn't necessarily say it's important, but it is something I always wondered about."
"Okay, let's get it over with then," I said anxiously.
I reached up to the door before us, and timidly knocked.
It seemed to take forever, but then finally the door opened slowly, and someone peeked outside. "Bella?"
"Hi dad," I said awkwardly.
"Is everything okay? Are you okay?" he asked concerned.
"Everything is fine, we're just… Edward wanted to see the house," I told him truthfully.
"I lived under it for so long, I was always curious to see what the actual living quarters looked like," Edward explained, sounding slightly bashful.
Charlie seemed a bit confused and weirded out at first, but he quickly pushed it away. "Yes, of course. Please come in," he said, pulling the door open wider so we could walk in.
Once inside, I was able to get a better look at my father, and surprisingly, he looked somehow better and worse at the same time. Still just as skinny, if not even skinnier than the last time I saw him, but his color looked slightly better.
"How have you been?" Charlie asked as Edward looked around the living room, while I kind of just stood there.
"Good," I told him, feeling uncomfortable by the strain between us. "What have you been doing?"
He huffed. "I actually haven't been doing much of anything. I'm sorry for the mess; I wasn't expecting you to come back… ever."
It wasn't until he mentioned it that I noticed the blanket of dust covering everything. He was never the biggest neat freak or anything, but it definitely looked like he just gave up cleaning altogether.
"What's that smell?" I asked as I got a whiff of a particularly putrid stench.
"Is it normal to leave soiled dishes in the sink for a long period of time?" Edward asked as he popped his head out of the kitchen. "There is some gnarly mold growing on these."
"I-uh, may be a little behind on my cleaning of everything," Charlie admitted.
"Dad, I get you're lonely, but you can't live like this," I told him.
"I'm fine, I just need to get into the routine of not having any kind of focus, or goal, or anything left…" He let his words trail off.
I felt horrible for my father's pain, but I really didn't know how to fix it for him either. After a couple minutes, Edward rejoined us, and wrapped his arm around my waist from behind.
"This place is a little disappointing," he said bluntly. "I'm not sure what I was expecting, it just wasn't…this."
"This is where I grew up," I said with a sigh.
"Yeah, it may be big, but it's just a house," Charlie agreed.
"A filthy house. You need a person to come in here and help you clean," Edward told him. "By the way, I threw all the dishes out the window."
"Um…thank you," Charlie said while staring at him with wide eyes. It was clear how surreal it was for him to have Edward casually meandering freely around his house, but he was trying to be okay with it, and that was what mattered.
"So… I'm going to go show Edward the upstairs now," I told Charlie awkwardly.
"Okay, I haven't even gone to your room since you left, so it's probably pretty dusty in there too."
I nodded, and then took Edward's hand to tow him upstairs.
"This is really weird," I said to him, after I opened the door to my childhood bedroom, and watched my one-time mystery hummer browsing through my old stuff. Old stuff, that used to mean so much to me, but now felt like they were never really mine. But nothing was more surreal than watching him locate that one particular vent in the corner of the room.
"Hear that?" he asked me quietly.
I quieted my breathing to listen, and sure enough, there was a faint echoing drip sound. "What is it?"
"A leak in my cell. It used to drive me mad. Constant drip, drip, drip, drip. It's what I heard the most when you weren't in your room, and you know my issues with water; there wasn't a worse sound for me to be forced to suffer through." He visibly trembled. "Still gives me the willies."
Talk of his past suffering made my chest ache, so I wrapped my arms around him and kissed his temple. "You're in here with me now."
He smiled the smile that always took my breath away. "Yeah, and I would go through it all again a million times over, just to have this one moment with you."
I kissed him – because, how could I not – but before it could deepen the way I ached for it to, he pulled away. He wasn't quite finished exploring my room just yet.
He went through my dresser drawers, teased me about my big underwear, and even read a bit of my high school diary. After being jokingly jealous over reading about some crush I barely remembered, he threw the thing out the window, and then climbed onto my bed and began bouncing like a child.
"Are you really jumping on my bed right now?"
"My cell was directly connected to this room through the vent system of this house," he said as he continued to bounce. "I used to listen to every noise this mattress made, and over the years, I began to distinguish between the various squeaks based on what you were doing. I heard every time you rolled over in your sleep, or threw yourself down during a fit, and I also heard you do this multiple times. I always wondered what it would feel like."
I laughed, vaguely remembering jumping on my bed as a child. "I'm sure that must be thrilling after everything else you have experienced in your lifetime."
"It actually is, thank you."
I laughed again. "You know, I can think of a better way to make the bed squeak like this," I told him as seductively as possible, given the fact he was still jumping.
He immediately stopped mid-jump. "You're really going to let me fuck you right here in your childhood room?"
My smiles widened. "I did go through my sexual awakening during my adolescence being thoroughly turned on by your silky hums at night."
"You know, there was always one distinctive squeak that I could never figure out..."
I nodded mischievously, knowing exactly what he was talking about. "Yeah, it was masturbation."
His joking expression and tone immediately morphed into lust, and then he attacked me. I didn't even notice our clothes come off before he began pounding into me, and I didn't even care that we weren't being quiet. It was a big house, hopefully Charlie couldn't hear us from wherever he was.
When the force of our climax hit us hard, our teeth ended up in each other's necks once more. We didn't bite each other every time we had sex, or even that often since one time was enough to make that venom tie permanent, but when we did, it sure as hell felt incredible, and only added that next level of intensity to our passion.
We didn't stop with just one climax; we stayed together in that bed through making love two more times. In his arms, I truly didn't care about anything else in the world. It wasn't until we both heard some of clatter downstairs, followed by the smell of food cooking, that we finally forced ourselves apart.
"I guess we should get dressed," I said languidly, not wanting to really move at all.
"I hope you still fit in some of your old clothes, I sort of ripped the ones you were wearing when I was stripping you," Edward said apologetically.
"Ugh," I giggled.
I stumbled my way to the closet as Edward got himself redressed, and I snarled my lip as I looked at my choices. "I really dressed horribly."
"Does it really matter?" he asked me. "I mean, you could go down there naked, but I don't think Charlie would appreciate that very much."
"Definitely not," I said, and then just pulled down the closest thing I could reach to dress into.
After we were both decent, we reluctantly went downstairs, and was met with quite the shocking sight.
"What the hell?" Edward grumbled.
The house was now full of vampires in the form of Cullens, who looked to be moving about and tidying up like they owned the place. They all looked up at us, and cheered like we had just won some epic battle. Then we were immediately overwhelmed with cold hugs, and far too many wet kisses.
"What are you guys doing here?" Edward asked them as soon as they gave us a moment to breathe again.
"Well, when you sent the text to say you were going to stop here before coming home, we decided we just couldn't wait a moment longer to see you guys," Emmett explained.
"Um… awesome," Edward said sarcastically, but I could tell he was just as excited to see them as they were him.
As for me, I wasn't even going to hide my excitement. "I missed you guys so much!" I said enthusiastically as they all took turns individually greeting us.
"So, how long are you all staying?" Charlie asked carefully.
Emmett draped his big heavy arm over my father's shoulders. "How about until you learn to love us."
"We can find our own lodging elsewhere until we leave the area if we make you uncomfortable," Carlisle offered.
"No, please stay," Charlie replied unexpectedly. "For as long as you wish. It's a big house."
"Are you sure?" I asked him.
"Of course. Your family will always be welcome here," he told me. I could tell he wasn't comfortable in the least, but I appreciated the sentiment.
"Thanks," I told him sincerely. I had no plans to stay longer than a couple hours, but the Cullens seemed to make themselves right at home.
"Come on, Babe, let's go find our room," Emmett told Rosalie, but stopped to tell us something before he went. "By the way, Carlisle's serum is working awesome. We fuck all the time. Like real hard fucking."
"Okay Emmett!" Edward stopped him. "I don't need to know that."
"What's the big deal? We all know you two were fucking when we first got here. Even Bella's old man knew it. He said you guys were busy," Em laughed.
"Whatever, just go," Edward said frustrated.
"Is something cooking?" I asked, making Esme gasp.
"Oh my goodness, I forgot!" she said, racing to the kitchen at vampire speed.
"What is she cooking for?" I asked Carmen, who was standing closest to me.
"For you, and your father; he looks so frail and hungry," she replied indiscreetly.
"How long have you had cancer?" Eleazar then asked Charlie unexpectedly.
I looked to my father concerned.
"I… How do you know?" he asked him confused.
"I can smell the medication you're on in your system," El explained. "My daughter was on similar medications before she died."
"Your daughter?" Charlie asked him.
"Yes, my human daughter, who I had with my late wife before I became a vampire."
"Oh. I'm sorry for your loss."
"Dad, you're sick?" I asked him upset.
"I suppose it's nature's way of finding justice for all the wrongs I've done," Charlie told me with a sorrowful grin.
"There are very good medications available for all types of cancers now," Carlisle said encouragingly.
"Yeah, I think I'm beyond all that now," he replied quietly.
"So, you're dying," I said, feeling a devastation I wasn't expecting. When we parted last, I wasn't even sure if we would ever see him again, but now that we were there, and in my childhood home full of all my childhood memories, I wasn't ready to say goodbye for good just yet.
"Doc said I probably have a few good months left before I get really bad," Charlie said, trying to sound encouraging. "I'm just so grateful you found yourself a new family before I'm gone. I don't know how I would have ever found peace if I thought I was leaving you alone."
Tears swelled my eyes, and for the first time in what felt like a long time, I hugged my father.
Without anyone even discussing it, everyone knew we would be staying there for the remainder of my father's life, and I was beyond grateful. They didn't owe Charlie anything, and they had every reason to hate him, but they were all there to support me by supporting him. It truly was the greatest gift anyone could ask for.
Carlisle and Eleazar spent much of the time we had at Swan Manor, down in the lab. They were always inventing things and coming up with new concoctions. Esme loved to cook, despite not eating herself, but she always had delicious new dishes for Edward, Charlie, and me to try. Carmen spent much of the daylight hours either helping Esme, or gardening out on the grounds. Rose too, loved planting flowers and making the Manor's exterior more beautiful than ever before. Emmett and Edward spent a lot of time down in the arena, messing around and sparring amongst each other, and my father and I would often sit and watch them.
"This is weird, huh?" I said to Charlie one afternoon as Emmett's body went flying across the arena in front of us.
"It is. But it's really great. Believe it or not, I have really enjoyed them all here."
I smiled. "Me too."
When my father finally passed away, I was both grief-stricken, as well as relieved. He had been in so much pain during his last days that I was grateful he was now at peace. We held a memorial service for his friends and the people who knew him, and I was shocked to see so many almost forgotten familiar faces amongst the crowd.
"Bella," my old friend Jessica greeted me. "Gosh it's been a long time. How are you? I mean, your dad just died so I know you're not great, but you know what I mean."
"Yeah, wow, I'm surprised to see you," I said sincerely as she hugged me.
"Well, I'm going to college locally, so I figured I should come and pay my respects. My dad and Charlie were friends. Whatever happened to you? You dropped out of school and sort of seemed to fall off the face of the planet."
"I finished school remotely," I lied. "I did that exchange student program thing."
"Oh, cool. What country did you go to?"
"Oh, awesome. You know, for a while there I thought the monsters in your basement got you."
I laughed once. "What?"
"Remember that one sleepover I had here, where we found that secret hatch in the bottom of that closet? Yeah, I totally thought you went down there and got eaten by a monster, or maybe even taken hostage as some sex slave like Princess Leia in Return of the Jedi. I imagined you with that golden bikini, and some huge slug like monster keeping you on a leash."
"I think the monsters below my house were a little more attractive than Jabba the Hut," I told her seriously.
"Hey babe, are you okay?" Edward asked as he walked up behind me and kissed my temple.
"Well, hello there," Jessica said, immediately drooling over my mate – not that I blamed her.
"Uh, this Jessica Stanley, she is an old friend of mine from high school," I told Edward. "Jessica, this is the monster that used to be in my basement," I told her casually, before grabbing Edward's hand, and pulling him away from her.
"That was surprisingly honest," Edward said to me as we walked outside to get some air.
"She'd never believe any lie I made up anyway, so fuck it."
"How are you doing?" he asked me supportively.
I hugged myself to him tightly. "Better now."
I let him hold me for several minutes, before we reluctantly went back inside to tend to the guests.
"Well, now that Charlie is gone, what's our next move?" Rosalie asked that evening after all the humans went home.
"We could go absolutely anywhere," Esme said while cuddling into Carlisle's side.
She couldn't have been more right. We had come full circle, and now it was time to set a new path. Charlie's passing marked the end of all my human ties, and I was excited to see where my hybrid life would take me next. With the super-human soldiers policing the supernatural world, and checking in with us every so often, all we really had left to worry about was our own future. A future full of limitless possibilities. Our family was whole and strong, and there were no more battles left to fight, but our greatest adventure was still ahead of us. The adventure of truly living…
***A/N: I need to shout out a special "Thank you" to CoppertopJ, for her editing, pre-reading, collage making, and all-around support and encouragement. Thanks so much, girl!
And thank you to everyone who has read this crazy story. I appreciate every view, review, and favorite this fic has received. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
*Once again, for anyone wanting to see the chapter collages and manips for this story, as well as all my previous and future stories, please "friend" me on FB at KC Nicnort, and take a look at my feed and albums. Thanks again!