This is my first Fanfic every. In fact, it's my first effort at any kind of writing, so reviews are most welcome.

Disclaimer: The wonderful characters in this story aren't mine. The are the product of Stephenie Meyer's wonderful creativity and are strictly her property.


by: Twilightened

Chapter 1: Charlie

It felt good to be back in this cool damp forest again, so teaming with familiar sounds and dripping with green. Though much time has passed, it still felt so familiar, so ...home. Time. That's an interesting concept. I can still remember feeling panic well up in my throat - no, anger exploding in my head, as I tried to grapple with the fleeting expense of human time. That was a time, long ago. A human memory of a time, when contemplating my own aging was something excruciating. Time seemed such a trivial consideration now, more a meaningful deepening of understanding rather than the measure of passing.

I slowed my pace and began to simply walk through the forest. How I love the smell of the cool moisture, the sweet decay of fallen wood, and the sounds of the forest. I pick my way through the tumbled undergrowth and waist-high ferns, making a concerted effort to move slowly - humanly, encouraging the flood of nostalgia washing over me. How long had it been since I'd walked through these rainy woods?

It had been 36 years since we had been in Forks, but even then, I don't remember walking in the forest. There were things to settle - funeral arrangements, packing up Charlie's house, and carefully trying to avoid the scrutinizing glances of those wondering how Edward and I had changed so little in the seven years since we had married and left Forks without a backward glance. Throughout that short week we spent here, we were so careful to walk more maturely, speak more worldly, dress appropriately. I concentrated on trying to look as plain and unremarkable as possible, like my human self had been, though I'm not sure how necessary our efforts really were. Charlie's death had been such a shock to the entire community, and that kind of shock really does overshadow things.

Charlie had gone fishing. Nothing unexpected there. Charlie spent most of his time either fishing or watching sports with his close friends, most of which lived in LaPush. The night Charlie had disappeared, Billy had invited him to come over to watch a Basketball game. Things had been a little strained between Charlie and Billy since I married Edward, and Jacob had, ...well, gone off the grid. But, like all good friends, they managed to find some common ground and learned to avoid the touchier subjects.

It was one of Charlie's deputies who told me how Charlie had been found. When Charlie had not shown up for game time, Billy called the station to see if Charlie had been called in. No one had seen Charlie. The next morning, Mrs. Edna Bush, said she heard wolves howling in the woods along the shore. The eerie mournful echos piqued her curiosity and she wandered out to investigate. The mournful howls led her to a small break in the trees through which the chilly but beautiful coast stretched out before her, the glassy calm surface a beautiful contrast to the chilly unexpected squall from the night before. There about a quarter mile offshore, she spotted what looked like an overturned skiff. She called the station to report it.

Charlie had apparently decided to spend a couple hours fishing offshore before the game. His little boat had somehow been overturned in the windblown waters. Charlie was found with a life jacket on, tethered to his overturned little boat. He had died of hypothermia. The deputy's theory was that although Charlie was an experienced boater, when his little boat had somehow overturned a few miles offshore Charlie couldn't right it by himself. In the storm that had unexpectedly blown in, he probably couldn't tell which direction shore was, so he put on a life jacket, and tethered himself to the boat, and waited for help, which would never come. I was sure that Billy had done all in his power to try to find Charlie, and I understood that it was the pack that finally discovered him.

The Forks community had truly mourned. Charlie was one of their own, and throughout the week of his funeral, Edward and I overheard story after story from people who chuckled mournfully as they remembered Charlie and his love of all things sports, fishing, Forks, . . . and me. It was difficult for me to be so changed on the inside, yet have to appear so much the same as my formerly human self on the outside. Such Irony: the need to appear older, when physically Edward and I were so unchanged, yet having to appear so internally unchanged, when my perspective had become so eternal. Yet none of that was as difficult as it was to look into the eyes of Charlie's friends and see the unintentional accusation that said to my heart: 'you should have been here more often'.

The funeral was as small and private as I could manage. We held a small service where Charlie had worshiped, a small piece of green overlooking the Quileute River. Edward held me close as I struggled to reconcile the fact that I couldn't produce a single tear, though my heart ached. At the cemetery, Edward's family came to stand with me to say my final goodbyes. Due to the typical Washington drizzle, Edward's family stood inconspicuously under the cover of umbrellas, helping to hide their ageless and perfect appearance. Renee, vacationing in the Bahamas with her husband couldn't be reached, and so it was Edward and his family alone that I leaned on for comfort. Off, some distance away, under the trees - behind the few dozen other friends of Charlie's, more than a dozen tall black-haired Quileute friends stood somberly paying their last respects. I understood their reluctance to come closer, and to some degree was grateful for it. However, a part of me longed to reach out and renew old ties and thank them for their condolences, and offer mine. After all, Charlie had been a part of their world, much more than he had been part of mine for the last seven years. I scanned their faces. Billy was there, Sam, Emily and their kids, Quil, Leah and Seth, and others. Billy discretely nodded, his eyes hard to read, Edward and I nodded in return, acknowledging a complicated history, with a guarded mutual regard and respect. I looked for Jacob in the crowd, but was sure that even if he were here, he wouldn't let me see him. A twinge of pain and regret shot briefly through me. Edward pulled me closer, understanding my flinch and offering comfort.