Disclaimer: Twilight and its characters belong to SM. I don't own a thing and am making no profit. I'm just playing in the sandbox.
When Bella moves to Forks to live with her father, Sheriff Charlie Swan, she finds herself intrigued by the town's occupants and despite warnings, unwittingly becomes a pawn in the intense and explosive rivalry between the Cullen family and their neighbors the Blacks.
Set in the American West circa 1880. All Human/AU. Canon Pairings. Rated R for violence and gun play.
A/N: Thanks to Lynnlin for the beta
Setting is spring circa 1880's somewhere in the Great Basin part of the US at the base of the Sierra Nevada range
Spring had come early for the town of Forks. The trees were starting to green and flower and the breeze carried the smell of honeysuckle and apple blossoms down the currently bustling main street. With the melting of the snowcaps in the distance came the promise of a new spring, of renewal and the residents of the small town welcomed it with enthusiasm, eagerly emerging from the warm winter cocoons of their homes and resumed the friendships and rituals that had been suspended due to the harsh winter. The town was practically humming with energy that was noticeable to everyone except for one man. He was far too preoccupied.
Sheriff Charlie Swan sat on the bench in front of the hotel a bundle of nervous energy. Sweaty palms rested on his thighs, running them up and down the fabric of his trousers in a vain attempt to keep them dry while his legs bounced in an anxious rhythm. For what felt like the hundredth time, he pulled out his pocket watch and checked the hour.
The stage was officially late - the stage that carried his daughter, Isabella.
She had been living with her cousin Renee in San Francisco for the past twelve years, ever since her mom had passed. It had been Charlie's toughest decision to date to send Bella away but he had been in no condition to raise a child. He had been swallowed in his own unrelenting grief and his line of work usually sent him to locales that were not the best environments for children. She needed a kind female influence so he had sent her halfway across the continent with a few possessions and the promise of keeping in touch.
He had tried his hardest to keep in contact through letters and the occasional visit but the visits were always short and sporadic and the letters few. But despite being exceedingly poor at correspondence, he always carried his daughter in the back of his mind and she influenced every decision he made. He had always tried to find that one job in the one town that would enable him to maybe one day send for her to come back.
Thus he had ended up in Forks. It had been a struggling mining town when he had first arrived a few years ago but recently, it had blossomed into an area with farms, ranches and families. He had been considering for some time now to invite Bella to come for an extended stay but realized that after so many years of living apart; it would be a selfish gesture. Bella had her own life in San Francisco with her cousin and it was wrong to ask her to give that up for someone she barely knew.
So when he had received the letter detailing that Renee had gotten married and Bella felt that the newlyweds would want some time alone to get settled and that she wanted to come visit for the spring and summer, he was delightfully surprised.
Now, sitting in front of the hotel, elbows on his knees, hat in his hands, he was just nervous.
He stopped himself from checking his watch again by tugging on his vest to remove the non existent wrinkles then running his hands through his dark hair. He let out a loud sigh as he felt the noon sun creep across the sky, the light glinting off the silver star pinned to his chest.
"Hey Charlie," a young man greeted while leaning against the outside of the hotel, his hands resting at his waist near the handles of his guns. "How is everything?"
Charlie looked up at Mike Newton, his deputy, and gave him a nod. "Stage is late."
"I noticed," the fair haired deputy responded.
Charlie huffed. "Something you needed, Mike?" his tone coming out harsher than he intended as he checked his watch again.
Mike gestured to the jail that was across the street. Charlie lifted his gaze and saw the gathering that was taking place outside of his office. A group of dark haired, tan skinned men and boys were milling about, talking quietly.
"The Black's are getting a little antsy," Mike stated. "I thought I would…"
Charlie cut him off. "Billy knows the mediation ain't for another hour. He can wait."
Billy Black was Charlie's friend and though they didn't see eye to eye on most subjects, Billy was pleasant enough and a good fishing and hunting partner. Billy's family consisted of a conglomeration of sons, nephews and cousins that all shared the same complexion, features and temperaments. They were known as a rowdy bunch and quite a few of them had spent the night in the jail before being sent home the next morning with a fine and a warning. Normally, with that many of the Black family standing around, obviously looking for trouble, Charlie would've walked over there, broken them up, and sent them on their way.
However, today, they were there for a meeting to see if there could be a compromise to stem the ever present and occasionally explosive rivalry with another local family. Charlie was not looking forward to it.
He blew out a breath. "Any sign of the Cullen's?"
His deputy nodded. "Emmett, Jasper and Rosalie are down by the saloon. The doc's at the clinic."
"Let's hope they stay down there. Don't want them starting something before we can all sit down and try to talk this out calmly."
Mike snorted. "Calmly?"
"Billy and Carlisle are sensible men. They'll see to reason."
"It's not them I'm worried about," Mike mumbled.
Charlie smirked. "That's why I'm going to be there Mike. I'm sure I can handle keeping the others in line."
"I don't know, Sheriff. Maybe, I should be in there with you."
Charlie shook his head. Mike was a good young man, if a little eager, and noticing his disappointed expression, Charlie threw him a bone.
"Mike, I'm going to need you to get Bella settled in. Since the stage is late I'm not going to have the time before I have to walk into the lion's den."
Mike smiled; obviously pleased that the Sheriff would trust him with the task of greeting his daughter, especially since her arrival was all Charlie had talked about since he had received the letter. He hoped she was pretty.
"Well, just be careful, Sheriff. I'd hate to tell Bella that her dad was crushed between Emmett Cullen and Jacob Black on the day she gets here."
At that Charlie actually managed a chuckle. "Let's hope it doesn't come to that."
Comfortable silence descended between them as Mike kept a vigilant eye on the group outside of the jail and the other group loitering outside of the saloon.
Charlie's gaze slipped down to the boardwalk, his hat still being wrung in his hands, his thoughts on Bella. The last time he had seen her she was a girl. She'd be a woman now and he knew that the time for raising and advice was gone and the questions she would have as a woman, he wouldn't be able to answer. He just wanted to get to know her before some lucky feller swept her off her feet and the already loose ties that existed between them were severed for good.
Mike's whispered "aw, Christ," snapped Charlie out of his reverie and back to the present.
His head whipped up and he muttered a similar curse as he watched the Cullen's start to make their way down the street, toward the jail, and into an inevitable confrontation with the Black's.
Dr. Carlisle Cullen serenely strode down the street with his children in tow, fanned out behind him. Well, they weren't all his children but they were a family no doubt, and they listened to Carlisle without complaint, most of the time. The doc, as he was known to most, was a peaceful man, didn't condone violence, didn't wear guns and could be counted on to keep a cool head.
His son Emmett was literally his polar opposite. Emmett Cullen was a hulk of a man, tall, muscular and quite frankly, intimidating, and that was without the guns slung low across his hips. He was a brute, known for bar fights, rabble rousing and a large grin. Normally, Charlie could count on Emmett for a crude joke and a loud laugh but today his penchant for a hot temper was a liability.
Next to Emmett was Jasper Whitlock. While Emmett sauntered, Jasper moved with a deadly grace that was unnerving. Not much was known about him, other than he was from Texas and blew into town one day wearing a rebel cavalry hat. He became instant friends with the Cullen boys. There was no doubt he was dangerous, it showed in his every action, from the deliberate way he chose his words when he spoke, to the way his eyes were always moving, always scanning for threats. While Emmett charged at you head on, Jasper would come at you sideways, silent and smirking.
Jasper's cousin, Rosalie Hale, walked a bit behind the men, her long blonde hair dancing in the breeze, cascading down her back from under her hat. She was the most beautiful woman most men would ever get the chance to glance at, and that's all they'd get to do and it wasn't just because Emmett was sweet on her. Rosalie was an anomaly among women. She rarely wore a dress, just custom made pants and button up shirts. Strapped to her thigh was a Mare's Leg* just as daunting as her beau's muscles and her cousin's smile. Today she also carried a rifle, the wooden stock resting in her slender hands while the barrel leaned against her shoulder.
Carlisle's two youngest children, Alice and Edward, were not part of the group that now stood across from the Billy and his kin, but Charlie knew they were never far.
Watching from his place on the bench outside of the hotel, Charlie let out another muttered oath, before slamming his hat on his head and standing. The tension between the two groups was palpable and he knew it would only take a snide comment from either side for his street to erupt. So much for waiting.
"Tell Bella I'll meet her for dinner at the restaurant," he said to Mike before heading out into the street.
He felt their eyes on him as he approached, his heels kicking up puffs of dust as he walked.
"Carlisle," he stated while extending a hand.
The doctor took it and shook. "Sheriff Swan."
"Billy," Charlie nodded toward his friend.
"Charlie," came the terse reply.
"Should we get this over with?" Charlie stated while gesturing toward the door to his office.
The entire group shifted and Charlie suddenly realized that not all six representatives of the Black family and the four Cullens were going to fit in the tiny space.
"Two from each family only."
Carlisle motioned for Emmett while Billy slapped his son Jacob on the back. The four brushed past Charlie and he felt suddenly inferior as all the other men were taller than him, especially Jacob, who nearly had to duck to walk inside.
With a sigh, he gave a pointed look at those still milling outside the door.
"Go home," he instructed with authority, "no good will come out of you standing out here."
"We're not going until they come back out," Sam, one of Billy's cousins spoke, his eyes darting between the jail and Jasper before finally briefly meeting Charlie's gaze.
Charlie looked over to Jasper and Rosalie and knew the answer just by looking at Rosalie's pretty mouth turned down, her expression dark.
"We're not leaving if they aren't," Jasper stated, his voice low and sharp.
Charlie let out another long suffering sigh and really began to regret his decision to become the Sheriff of Forks. Though Billy was his friend and Carlisle a good doctor and a good man, he decided that he hated their families, just for the amount of crap they made him deal with.
"Fine, but if I hear so much as a peep out here you're all spending the night in jail. Got it?"
Muttering about "dumb family rivalries," Charlie turned on his heel and went inside.
Sitting in the coach, swaying side to side with every step of the pulling horses, Bella tried to concentrate once again on her well worn book to ease the tedium of the long ride. Unfortunately, the constant motion coupled with the stifling heat inside the carriage made it almost impossible to focus on the print and after several attempts and a nauseous stomach, she gave up. Instead, she pushed back the curtain covering the open window and watched the landscape creep by, passing the occasional farm or ranch, while thinking about everything that she had left behind and the uncertainty that awaited her at the end of the excruciating trip.
Bella hadn't seen her father in years and with each passing step of the horses the butterflies in her stomach grew. The nausea she had attributed to motion sickness had not abated, and she now realized it had much to do with her impending arrival. She barely knew this man, he had sent her away when she was very young after her mother had died, and though he had written the occasional letter, she was still very much in the dark about what kind of person her father was. Renee always spoke highly of him and when she had seen him, he seemed like an honest and kind man. Yet, she was still highly anxious about what she would find in the town of Forks.
She took a deep breath and savored the smell of honeysuckle hanging in the air. It didn't quite calm her nerves about her destination but at least she could say the surrounding area smelled nice.
Charlie had taken the job of Sheriff of Forks nearly five years ago and Bella had yet to visit him at this new locale. The town didn't even show up on the map and that made her wary. She only had the description from Charlie's sparse letters and the upraised eyebrows of the men at the coach station when they had heard of her intended destination to base any assumptions on. Joined with the fact that the only other occupant of the coach disembarked at the last town a few hours ago, Bella's assumptions were fairly bleak.
It wasn't that she had an overly interesting life in San Francisco, though Renee always tried to get Bella to go on social outings, it was just that the city was familiar. Bella had her favorite places, like the book store, and her favorite bench at the park and she knew how things worked in the city. It was recognizable and safe and far from adventurous.
There were also tons of people and that meant little interest was paid to her, which was great, because she hated being the focus of attention. She only garnered it when she was clumsy, which unfortunately was often, but even then she could slink back into the crowd and be forgotten relatively quickly. No one looked twice at the petite, pale, plain girl when there were far more interesting and beautiful people present. It was a blessing.
Forks was sure to have a small enough population that she would be known, even if just for the fact that she was the Sheriff's daughter and Bella dreaded that. But it was only for the spring and summer and then she would go back to San Francisco, with her cousin and new cousin-in-law, and resume the life she had left there.
That thought did help to settle her nerves a little.
"Hey Miss?" the coach driver yelled down.
She pushed the curtain further aside and stuck her head out of the window, inhaling the ever present dust kicked up by the horses' hooves.
"Yes?" she choked back, craning her neck to look up where he rode at the top.
"There it is! The town of Forks."
Redirecting her gaze, her stomach plummeted as her suspicions were confirmed and the anxiety came back in full force. Even from the distance she could tell it was impossibly tiny, made of nondescript brown clapboard buildings, enveloped in its own cloud of dust.
"Where's the rest of it?" she asked.
He just laughed.
Pulling herself back inside, Bella decided to try and at least look presentable so her father wouldn't be greeting a terrible mess. She attempted to brush the thick layer of dust off her blouse and ankle-length skirt but quickly gave up when she realized all she did was just move the dirt around. She pulled her long brown tresses back into a clip, tucking a few wayward strands behind her ears.
She closed her eyes and focused on breathing, reminding herself that her stay was only for a few months and then she could go back home.
Half an hour later she felt the stage slow then stop. Opening her eyes, she took another deep breath and pushed on the carriage door.
Stepping out, she threw her hand up to block the glaring sun, and as her eyes adjusted, she noted that the coach driver was tossing her luggage down to a round faced blonde man.
"Hey Tyler," he greeted as he dropped one of the bags onto the boardwalk with a loud thud, "why are you so late? Sheriff Swan almost had a conniption."
Tyler grinned. "Broken axle. Had to get it fixed in Red Rock."
The young man caught her last piece of luggage and set it down before turning his attention to Bella. He gave her a once over with his eyes before smiling widely.
"Wow," he breathed unconsciously. He seemed to shake himself before adding "Uh..hi. I'm Deputy Mike Newton." He tipped his hat and flashed a debonair smile.
"Bella Swan," she offered with a shaky nod, his scrutiny making her uncomfortable. She looked around, not meeting Mike's intense gaze, gripping the handle of one of her suitcases. "Where's my dad?" she finally asked.
"He had some law enforcement duties to attend to but he asked me personally to make sure you got settled in. Um..here," he stepped forward and pried Bella's fingers from around the handle of her bag, "let me take that. You must be tired from your…"
Mike was interrupted by the crashing sound of wood splintering and glass breaking. Bella looked across the street in time to see two bodies falling through the now broken window of the jail. They hit the planks of the boardwalk with a loud thud, in a tangle of limbs, glass and wood crunching beneath them while they rolled over each other, kicking up dust and dirt, each scrambling for the upper hand.
The street around them erupted into chaos.
She barely registered Mike leaving her side too entranced in the scene of the two giants furiously punching, struggling, yelling amidst a cacophony of insults and profanities.
In Bella's periphery, she noted other bodies converging, throwing threats, pointing fingers but it was all blurred, too much to take in and process at one time. There was yelling, and threats and guns and violence and it all crashed together into one terrifying scene that try as she might, Bella could not tear her eyes away from.
And her dad was in the middle of it all, trying desperately to separate the two still battling men, ducking between them, hands on each man's chest, pushing them apart while continuing to bark orders.
"Quil, you pull that gun and you're gonna get shot! Not a step closer Jasper!"
She heard the thumping of frantic boots running up from behind her and felt a lean body brush her shoulder before it headed straight into the fray. She vaguely sensed a pleasant tingle originating from the point of contact and shooting down her arm making her fingers curl as she watched in awe as the individual wrapped his arms around the brawnier of the two fighters without hesitation and pulled him backwards.
"Edward, control your brother!" Her dad's voice ordered from amidst the scuffle. "Billy, call Jacob off!"
They were finally separated, and Charlie could fully step in between, holding his hands out to the sides and giving them both reproving glares. They continued to struggle to get at each other but now each man had at least two others holding onto them.
"You come on our land Cullen and you won't be leaving it!"
"You threatening my family, Black?"
"Calm down!" Charlie ordered. "Everyone just calm down."
At that point, the ruckus died and the only sounds were the labored breathing of the combatants and Charlie.
Bella still watched, rooted to her spot by the coach, brown eyes wide and with mounting horror, she realized that this was the town she was going to live in. These were the people she'd be interacting with.
Spotting the stream of blood running from Charlie's nose, Bella's hand flew to her mouth and she must've gasped because suddenly every eye was on her.
"Bella?" Charlie panted before finding Mike among those now milling around the street and throwing him a quick glare. When he turned back to her, he winced at the expression of obvious dismay on her features before giving a tentative smile. He gestured to those around him and took a hesitant step forward. "Uh…Welcome to Forks."
* Mare's Leg – sawed off Winchester rifle. Initially wielded by Steve McQueen's character in Wanted: Dead or Alive. Also shows up in three of my favorite TV shows – Brisco County Jr as Lord Bowler's weapon then on The Magnificent Seven as Vin Tanner's weapon and then on Firefly (all hail Joss Whedon) wielded by Zoe. Wikipedia told me that the same prop gun was used on both Brisco and Firefly.
So why a Twilight western? Um..why not? Who doesn't want to picture the Cullen boys in hats and spurs? I figured there was already a ton of fics out there featuring Edward, Sexward, Doucheward, Geekward, Caveward etc. so why not Westward?? Snicker
This is not meant to be a historical fiction by any means. I'm going to try my best not to be inaccurate but it's not my main focus. This is going to be more like a western TV show. Think Bonanza, Dr. Quinn or Lonesome Dove.
So thanks and let me know what you think.