Getting to Know the Cullen Coven
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"So, how is Renesmee growing so fast? She looked like an infant when I first saw her," Charlie said, flabbergasted. He and Sue had hung around the Cullen home enough in the past year that he was starting to get comfortable with all their strange quirks. He was even getting curious about those quirks, if he were honest with himself.
"We're not sure, Carlisle thinks it's a result of Bella's human DNA combining with Edward's," started Rosalie.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa… too much… just… need to know, right?" Charlie glanced quickly over at Edward, wincing, and continued, his curiosity getting the better of him. "I mean, you're not from Mars, or Pluto or anything though, right?" Charlie was stuck between real curiosity and a desire to turn on the Mariners game and ask again another day. Acknowledging his daughter was a mother was one thing; contemplating how his daughter became a mother was another thing entirely.
"I assure you, I was born in Chicago; there are no extraterrestrials in my ancestry," Edward said this with a touch of a smile ghosting his lips.
"Yeah, it's not the where you should be worried about, it's the when!" Emmet said gleefully from in front of his videogame. Rosalie smacked him in the head, glaring.
"What?" he said, indignant.
Charlie just looked confused, "When? What does he mean when?"
Bella gave Emmett another death glare. "Are you sure you want to know this?" Edward had warned her that this was coming. At Charlie's nod, Bella began. "I guess you're going to see for yourself soon enough. You've certainly seen enough unusual development with Renesmee already...we… don't really age. I will stay this way forever, now that I'm… changed. Just as all the Cullens have stayed the same after their changes too. Renesmee is still half human, though, so she is a little different. She's growing rapidly now, but it will taper off in a few years, then she'll also stop aging."
"Well, can she get sick? You guys don't seem to get sick, and I mean people, well, human people are a lot stronger nowadays, right? You don't see people keeling over right and left from some little flu bug now do you?"
Edward suddenly stood up. "Excuse me, just a moment," he said, and he walked out of the room in order to keep himself from growling at his father-in-law.
"What's his problem?" Charlie said, looking at the suddenly subdued faces around the room. Bella's face was both sad for Edward and irritated with Charlie for inadvertently insulting her husband.
"Um, I'm not sure how to tell you this…you remember Jake said that I had to be changed…that I was dying?"
"Yeah… but what does that have to do with Edward jumping up and leaving like his pants were on fire?"Charlie was really confused.
"Well, when Edward was changed by Carlisle, he was near death as well; he was dying of the Spanish Influenza and he had just lost both his mother and father to the disease," said Bella.
"Spanish Influenza? What!?" said Charlie. 'When's the last time the flu wiped out whole families in the United States' he thought; suddenly, his mouth dropped open and his face went pale. "Not where, but when…"
"I assure you I was telling the truth about my place of birth," Edward said, appearing much calmer now, and leaning on the doorframe. "I only failed to indicate when." Edward had been picking up on Charlie's increasing curiosity for a few months now; it seemed it had reached a flashpoint today, thanks to Emmett's thoughtless admission.
Charlie just sat with a dumbfounded expression on his face, looking at Edward over his shoulder. "Sorry Edward… I mean, you're not, um, weak." he mumbled. He looked Edward in the eye, curiosity evident in his features.
"I'll answer your questions, but you must ask them first."
Charlie's mouth dropped open, and he stood to face his son-in-law. "How did you know what I was thinking?"
"I'm very good at reading people." Edward hedged, not eager to divulge the entire truth unless asked point blank.
"You mean you've got that…what's it called? ESP?!" Charlie asked. Emmett laughed; Edward pursed his lips. He hadn't expected Charlie to probe further, considering the lack of desire for further knowledge he had shown in the past. However, the police investigator within Charlie was fishing, and it wasn't for trout. Edward decided to be honest; if Bella took after Charlie at all, her father wouldn't be satisfied with half-truths.
"I can…read minds; it was a…side effect…of my change," Edward paused; Charlie was half-expecting this answer, though he hadn't yet absorbed every implication. Edward continued, "… except for Bella's. Your own thoughts are sometimes a little patchy, as though I've got a bad reception. Perhaps Bella inherited her gift."
Charlie suddenly looked chagrined as full realization dawned.
"Yes, even when you entertained notions of shooting me, or using your Tazer on me," Edward said it with a cool look, though one corner of his mouth threatened to turn up.
"Charlie! You've been holding out on me, man! When were you thinking of shooting Edward?" Emmett looked as though Christmas had come early. He was clearly hoping for Charlie to divulge potentially embarrassing information. Edward grimaced as three separate occasions surfaced in Charlie's thoughts; most of them from the last couple of months before the wedding. All of them included Edward touching Bella casually; tucking a strand of hair behind her ear, watching a movie curled together on the couch, and the first time Charlie had seen Edward kiss her good night. He had considered Tazing him the night he had brought the Dartmouth application. Charlie had felt that Edward was trying to buy Bella through college tuition.
"Emmett!" Edward cut him off with a warning glare, and Emmett's face fell. He turned around, muttering under his breath so only vampires and werewolves could hear, "I'll remind you of this when Jacob starts trying to climb in Nessie's window."
Charlie's mind was working now. Edward grimaced at the turn his thoughts had taken. "No, foil doesn't block my ability…Emmett tried it when he read Slave Ship by Frederik Pohl; needless to say, the experiment failed…" Edward said.
Charlie sat in silence for a few moments, absorbing the new information. Just when Edward thought they were safe, Charlie spoke up again.
"Back to the 'when' thing…were you even born in the same century as Bella?" asked Charlie.
"Y-e-s…" said Edward; he sounded uncharacteristically nervous.
"What does that mean!? Were you born in 1900!?
"And one." Edward said, as though it made all the difference in the world.
"And one!? As in 19-0-1?" Charlie looked positively faint. He turned to Bella. "Did you know he was old enough to be your grandfather when you started dating him?"
"Well, Dad, if you want to get technical, he's old enough to be your grandfather."
"If we're going to get technical, I'm 17. I'm the youngest one here, save Renesmee," said Edward.
"Bells?! You married a seventeen year old? Didn't you hear anything your mother and I said about marrying young? Seventeen year old boys all want the same thing!" Charlie said exasperated.
Emmett howled with laughter, "Not this seventeen year old! Bella was more-" Rosalie's hand cut Emmett off before Bella could leap over the couch to silence Emmett herself.
"In my time, seventeen was an adult," Edward said defensively.
Charlie sat heavily in his chair and appraised his daughter's husband. "So, you were dying? When you were 17? I guess that was in 1918?" Charlie glanced around at the others in the room. "Are you all that old? Did Carlisle save you all from the flu?" he asked.
"Nah, just Edward. I was mauled by a bear in 1935, just a couple years after Rosalie was turned." Emmett said it with a glint of pride in his eyes, as though it made him tougher than everyone else.
"Edward and Bella aren't that far apart in age, if you consider that Esme was turned in 1921, and Carlisle was changed way back in the 1640's." Emmett was positively gleeful now, really enjoying torturing Charlie.
"1640?!" said Charlie, disbelievingly.
"I'm assuming I'm just as old, or young as Edward; I think I was born the same year as he was, though I wasn't changed till the 1920's. Jasper was turned sometime after 1863. We came to the family after our changes though," said Alice as she strolled into the room, Jasper trailing behind.
"How did you know what we were talking about? You were upstairs! Are you all mind readers?" Charlie asked.
"Oh no, that's just Edward. Not everyone has gifts. I actually had a touch of mine before my change. Needless to say, the family has learned over the years that they shouldn't bet against me" Alice said cryptically with a cheeky grin.
"I'm an empath," Jasper said simply, shrugging his shoulders.
"Can I show Grandpa what I can do?" Renesmee said, looking up at Bella with big eyes.
"You should ask Grandpa; I think he's heard quite a lot already," said Bella.
Charlie looked as though he was near the end of his rope, though he couldn't say no to his only granddaughter. "Sure, Ness, what can you do?"
Renesmee slid off Bella's lap and walked over to her grandfather; she shyly lifted her hand to his cheek and started to show him her day. Edward was grinning proudly at his daughter, and chuckling at the images she was showing Charlie. The grin slid off his face altogether though, when she showed Charlie one of Edward and Bella kissing in the kitchen this morning. Charlie cringed at the picture of his only daughter being so… passionate. Then Renesmee showed her grandfather what she had for breakfast this morning…
"No! Not that one!" said Edward.
"Blood!? For breakfast!? What are you, a…a….a…Vampire?!" Realization dawned over his features as the color drained completely from his face, and he slid from his seat onto the floor.
Renesmee was startled at Charlie's sudden reaction, though she was nonplussed when she responded, "Oh, I'm only half; and don't worry, Grandpa, we're vegetarian."
He barely heard her before he hit the floor.
A/N: I've not personally read Slave Ship by Frederik Pohl, but a Google search for 'aluminum foil hats to block ESP' brings up that book. It was published in 1956.