Disclaimer: All characters are owned by Stephenie Meyer, but since she doesn't want them anymore, I borrowed them for non-profit fun.


Old Man


Billy Black was a failure as a father.

He had to do most of it alone, but that wasn't an excuse. It should have been motivation, should have made him work harder. He should have worked to make Sarah proud. She wouldn't have failed. He knew that as surely as he still sometimes felt her at night. Without her beside him during the day, he had to confront the fact that he, and he alone, was responsible for how he had failed his children.

Failed them terribly.

Failed Rebecca. Failed Rachel. Failed Jacob.

And so failed himself.

Rebecca rarely came to visit, had fled as far as she could, the second she could. She was too busy with her new husband, with her new life. Billy understood and even admired those who held family as the ultimate ideal. He had wanted to be that way himself.

But Rebecca didn't just love her family, she loved it to the exclusion of all else.

Ignoring her history, her father, her siblings, her friends...Billy might have been able to grow to accept how she forgot all that. But he could not ignore how she ignored herself.

Rebecca had brought home science medals and english awards, gleaming academic trophies for Billy to hang on her wall. She knew more than her father did, more than most people he had ever met. Rebecca knew everything and promptly went to prepare dinner for her husband. There was nothing inside Rebecca that disliked the passivity, that railed against her meekness. She did not mind that her only accomplishment would be as someone's mother.

It was a worthy goal, to be sure. Despite what Rebecca thought, Billy well and truly believed that it was. Motherhood could be the crowning achievement of a well-lived life. But not Rebecca's. She had the ability to be so much more and it was his failing as much as it was hers that all her glorious potential had disappeared in the wind.

Rachel shared the same potential, but she achieved opposite results. Rachel did not forget what she had been given; she seized it with both hands, clutched it to her breast and ran as fast and as far as she could. She saw her gifts as a means of escape.

She saw La Push as a prison.

Billy couldn't make her see otherwise. He couldn't make her see the beauty of the trees, the majesty of the cliffs, the glory in the past. Nothing he said could wipe the look of disapproval off of Rachel's face when she surveyed her home. She wanted nothing to do with her heritage and Billy couldn't fix that, no matter what he did. He had known what her quickly earned degree meant to Rachel—her freedom on a certificate—and he couldn't change her mind about it. His daughter longed to cut the last of her roots.

And yet...he had failed her a hundred times worse when he allowed her to meet Paul. There was no way to predict what would have happened, but Billy should have suspected his daughters would be targets and he should have kept Rachel safe. As it was, it was far too late for him to do anything at all. He could only watch in stupefied horror as his daughter fell more deeply in love with the pack's official jerk and gave up everything she had clung to the past twenty years.

Billy wanted his daughter happy and Billy wanted his daughter nearby, but Billy was not so much of a failure as a father to want his daughter to be both those things because someone made her.

The legends had been terrible enough when they engulfed his son. He wished they had left his daughter well enough alone. He could not protect her from them—he couldn't even advise her. He simply had to let her endure her new fate and hope that at least part of Rachel remained at the end of it.

Jacob had survived the stories, but Billy sometimes wondered exactly how much of his son it had cost.

There was a time after Rebecca and Rachel fled his home, like rats from a sinking ship, that Billy thought Jacob would be his only success. His boy neither hated his home, nor loved it to excess. He may have lacked Rebecca's brain or Rachel's drive, but he had sure, steady hands and an easy smile. There was no quiet resentment in Jacob's face. His son loved easily and deeply.

It didn't occur to Billy that this was a failing until Jacob met Bella Swan.

Suddenly, his son was another man completely. Gone was the innocent child, gone was the happy human—in its place was a sardonic werewolf who went on patrols and went into battles and spared his father hardly a glance. Billy would have survived that. All men must outgrow their fathers. But it wasn't just Billy being forgotten; Jacob gave his people barely a thought.

That morning he had barely said goodbye to his father and when pressed for an explanation had casually dismissed his friends and his pack. With a shrug, he explained that she wanted him there and so he was going.

And in a few years Jacob would be gone again, and contra-Rachel, he would be forced never to return. He would give up his home and his family and run off into the sunset without a backwards glance. And as long as that girl lived (forever, it sounded like) Jacob would stay at her side.

It was inevitable. Nothing Billy could do or say could weaken the hold she now had on his son. He had failed Jacob worse than he had failed Rachel who he had had failed worse than Rebecca. Was there achievement in that?

Billy's only hope for his son was that one day the Clearwaters would unite with Sam Uley and stage a massive unprecedented coup that once in power would order his son to be himself again and Billy knew that such a fancy had as much chance of happening as his own legs had of walking again.

But thinking of Harry's children effectively made it far too difficult for Billy to continue thinking on his own failings. Harry had been a good father, maybe even a great one. Billy had never seen children so easily return their father's love and pride. And Harry, who may have been the greatest father Billy knew, had destroyed all that in the last minute of his life when his heart simply could not bear to see his daughter destroyed. One year ago today Harry had failed his child far worse than Billy ever failed his.

His children knew that despite his personal failings, Billy was not ashamed of what they had become.

He only wished he could make them see they could become something more.

The door opened and Billy turned his head, surprised to see his son standing in the doorway. He had barley been gone an hour, far too little time for him to be tired of the Cold One's abomination. Yet there Jacob stood, filling the doorway almost completely, looking at his father with an apology scrawled on his face.

"I'm back," he said, laughing at his obvious remark, laughing like he used to, easily, without thought. Coming closer to his father, Jacob's arms kept jerking up, as if he was unsure what to with them.

"They weren't home?" Billy asked.

"Oh. Uh...I never got there. I met Seth on the way. Leah and Sue were already...but he was on his way and...we talked a bit. He needed to talk. He's a good kid. So I stayed with him for as long as he wanted. And then he told me to come home."

Jacob scratched the back of his head nervously and then blurted out: "Is it too late to go fishing?"

Through the window, Billy could see the rising sun. It had to be mid-morning, if not later. If they wanted to catch fish, the time had passed. But fish weren't the only thing a man could find on the open water.

Billy wheeled himself towards his son.

"No. It's not too late."


The End