Epiphany

Disclaimer: all characters and copyright belong to SM.

A/N-set in Eclipse AU.

Chapter One-Charlie's Cunning Plan

Bella,

I don't know why you're making Charlie carry notes to Billy like we're in second grade-if I wanted to speak to you, I would answer the-

Look, you made the choice here, okay? You can't have it both ways when-

What part of 'mortal enemies' is too complicated for you to-

Look, I know I'm being a jerk, but there's no way around-

We can't be friends when you're spending all your time with a bunch of-

It just makes it worse when I think about you too much, so don't write anymore.

Yeah, I miss you, too. A lot. Doesn't change anything. Sorry.

Jacob.

Bella ran her fingers across the page, feeling the dents where he had pressed the pen to the paper so hard that it had nearly broken through. She could picture him writing this-scrawling angry letters in his rough handwriting. It was nothing like Edward's elegant script, but she much preferred it. Jacob's thoughts poured onto the page much the same way he spoke. He had slashed through each line when the words came out wrong, he must have broken through several pens, that would explain the multiple ink splatters. It just made it all the more endearing. Bella could imagine the frustration pulling Jacob's black eyebrows together as he concentrated on getting each word down on the page. If she had been there, she would have teased him, laughing as his face broke out into one of his sunny grins.

Jacob's smile was one of the things she missed about him the most. He always reserved his most precious smiles for her. Bella pictured it in her mind's eye, the way his smile was always one of happiness growing when he saw her, much as a spring flower opens. She could see how it came from deep inside to light his eyes and spread into every part of him. It was beautiful.

While she was thinking this, she caught the unmistakable scent of a smoking burner rising from the kitchen. In another house, the fact that someone besides herself was cooking might not be a cause for panicking. Bella sighed and shoved the wrinkled piece of paper in the back pocket of her jeans and ran, almost tumbling down the stairs in her haste to stop her father burning the house down.

When she entered the kitchen, she found Charlie jabbing impatiently at the keyboard on the microwave. "I didn't do anything wrong. Its this stupid machine. Its obviously broken." He said defensively.

Bella rolled her eyes as she pushed him out of the way and yanked open the microwave door. The jar of spaghetti sauce her father had stuck in there was on its first revolution when she pulled it out. "You're supposed to take the lid off first, Dad." She said in exasperation. "Metal's bad for microwaves."

"Well how am I supposed to know that. It didn't say anything about removing the lid on the instructions." Charlie snatched the jar from her and removed the lid. He was about to put the jar back in the microwave when Bella stopped him. "What am I doing wrong now?"

Bella huffed out an annoyed breath as she poured half the sauce into a bowl and then put the bowl inside the microwave and the jar back in the fridge. She fixed the time on the microwave and pressed start.

"I was about to do that." Charlie muttered as he turned his attention to the watery noodles simmering on the stove. He seemed perplexed that some of them had stuck to the bottom of the pan. "I don't know what's going on. I'm heating them just like the instructions said."

Bella looked at the pan on the stove-the source of the smell that had alerted her. "You're supposed to stir them."

"How am I supposed to do that and stop the sauce burning? I've only got one pair of hands." Charlie grouched as he picked up a spoon and poked at the watery noodles in the pan. He began to stir them half-heartedly.

"It called multi-tasking. And you're not supposed to stand in front of the microwave watching the sauce warm up. That's what the timer is for." Bella retorted. "Why are you cooking anyway?"

Charlie poked at the noodles again as he glared out of the kitchen window at the sheeting rain. "Don't know what you're talking about. I'm always cooking."

Bella snorted with laughter at this blatant lie. Charlie folded his arms across his chest and glared at her. Bella quickly recovered her composure and glared right back. She put his surly attitude down to the fact that Edward was due over at any minute. Charlie usually reserved this kind of behaviour for her boyfriend's benefit, doing his best to illustrate how unwelcome Edward was with every word and dark look he shot him. The day before he had literally wedged himself between them when they were sitting side by side on the sofa watching an old movie. It had been the most uncomfortable experience of her life. It wasn't even if they were snuggling up together or anything. Edward was all for social distancing.

Charlie poked at the pasta lump in the pan. "There's no law that says a man can't cook in his own house."

"You would know." Bella answered sarcastically as she eyed the badge pinned to his leather jacket.

"Very funny." Charlie muttered. "You missed your calling as a comedian." He poked at the pasta lump again before shrugging off his jacket. He hung it on the peg reserved for his gear. His gun belt was already in place-he hadn't felt the need to wear it to the station for a few weeks. There had been no more disturbing disappearances to trouble the small town of Forks, Washington, no more sightings of the giant, mysterious wolves in the ever-rainy woods….

Thinking of giant wolves brought Jacob back to the forefront of her mind. His note was burning a hole in the back pocket of her jeans. She was itching to pull it out and re-read it again. She watched as Charlie emptied the water out of the pan and upended the block of noodles onto a plate. He poked at the lump with a fork, puzzled as to why it was all stuck together. "I just don't get it." He muttered.

"Let's order takeout." Bella suggested. It was obvious the noodles were a lost cause. Even she couldn't salvage that mess.

"I'm not wasting good food." Charlie grumbled as he reached for a carving knife and began to separate the sticky morass. "This will do for that boy."

"What?" Bella exclaimed. He couldn't seriously be meaning to serve that up to Edward. Charlie knew full well that her boyfriend had a sensitive stomach-an excuse they had come up with to explain why he never ate or drank anything in front of others. "You can't give that to Edward."

"Why not?" Charlie demanded. "You're always telling me I need to be more hospitable."

Bella glanced up at the clock-checking to see how long she had left to diffuse the situation before Edward descended on them. Less than half an hour to go before he arrived. There was something bigger going on here then Charlie deciding to suddenly be hospitable.

"Dad, what's going on? Is this about Edward again? We've been following all the rules you set."

Charlie attacked the pasta lump again with the carving knife. "Yes." He finally admitted. "I do have a reason for doing all this."

Bella decided it was probably better she was sitting down for this. "Did you think serving up a block of pasta to Edward would break his teeth or something so you wouldn't have to?" She was only half joking.

"You read my mind." Charlie clearly wasn't as the timer pinged on the microwave. He abandoned the pasta lump and opened the microwave to retrieve the sauce. Once that was done, he dumped the gooey sauce on top of the morass of noodles and declared himself satisfied. "I'll put this in the microwave to keep warm until deadwood turns up." He muttered under his breath.

Bella knew very well what he had said but decided to be magnanimous and not confront him about it. Charlie eased himself into the chair opposite her and looked at his waiting daughter meaningfully. "I'll get us takeout." He said much to her relief. "But before I do that, I wanted to talk to you."

"About?"

"Jacob."

Bella tensed. "What about him?" She asked suspiciously.

"Chill, Bells. I know you're still upset that he told on you, but it was the right thing. He was being responsible."

Since when did Charlie say words like chill. Her father had clearly been watching too much reality TV.

"Responsible." Bella repeated scathingly. "Right. So, what about Jacob?"

The careless way she asked made her cringe. What about Jacob? She thought. What was she going to do about him? Her former…no, still her best friend…who now hated her…no, not hated…Jacob would never hate her…he….

"Don't get mad." Charlie's voice cut through her chaotic thoughts.

"Mad? Why would I be mad?"

Charlie's face was suddenly wary. "I invited him over for dinner."

"When?" Bella's eyes narrowed.

"Now." Charlie revealed.

So that was the real reason he was cooking that pulpy mass. "You invited Jacob over when you knew Edward was coming as well. Are you mad?"

Charlie's voice got gruffer. "You're lucky I even let him in the house!"

"Dad…" Bella protested.

"And its obvious you've been pining for Jacob."

"I have not been pining for Jacob Black!" Bella refuted hotly.

"Then why all the notes? I'm sick of ferrying them back and forth to La Push because you're too cowardly to face up to your feelings." Charlie argued. "I'm sure we can all be civilised. Its just dinner."

"I wouldn't call what you just cooked dinner!" Bella remarked irritably.

"That's all for Cullen. You're always telling me to make more effort. So, I did. The rest of us can have takeout. We wouldn't want to upset your boyfriend's sensitive stomach by feeding him junk food, would we?" A big grin took over Charlie's face as he glanced up at the clock. The thirty minutes were up and Bella was out of time to put a stop to her father's cunning plan.

Right on cue there was a knock on the front door…

A/N-thanks for reading!