A/N: Please take note that this chapter contains very sensitive subject matter, and might not be suitable for all readers. For all previous readers of Rescue Me, this event is nothing new, but it has been reshaped.
I hope you all enjoy this rewrite of this old favourite, and don't forget to read my note at the end!
I felt my body tense as I ran down the stairs, flying into the kitchen where I thought the call had come from. The voice sounded angry, and I didn't want him to lose his temper with me again. I moved quickly from my bedroom, torn between rushing down in a feeble attempt to assuage him and hesitating, which would only prolong the inevitable. My feet found the staircase without my consent, and I forced myself to pay careful attention to where I put them, knowing that with my poor balance and coordination, inattention would only lead to a rough tumble the rest of the way down. When I made it to the kitchen, I took a deep breath and steeled myself, trying my best to prepare.
"Right here," I said quietly, peeking in through the doorway. My father, Charlie, was seated at the table, an open beer in front of him as he swayed dangerously. His face and neck were red and sweaty, his beady eyes squinting and watery as he took me in, snarling.
He was drunk.
"Where the hell were you? You've got shit to do," he spat venomously, glancing back at the dishes in the sink. I felt my cheeks heat up when I saw where he was looking, and I moved to take care of the problem. I had allowed myself to get lost in a novel upstairs, hoping he'd pass out before he noticed my unfinished chores.
"Nowhere," I said meekly, in answer to his query, and I knew my mistake as soon as the word was out of my mouth. Charlie grunted and rose from his seat, depositing the bottle on the table with a loud slam! that made me jump. I forced myself to remain still and quiet as he pushed his way over to me, knocking one of the dining chairs aside and squeezing my chin in a rough grip. I closed my eyes when he forced my face up, his sour breath washing over my face as he leaned in close.
"Don't lie to me, bitch," he rumbled, making me flinch when he spat the curse. "What were you doing?" He spoke to me as if I was an invalid—slow and deliberate, and I knew there would be no hope for a peaceful resolution now.
"Reading," I admitted slowly, biting my lip in an effort to keep from crying out when his hand tightened on my face. He jerked it sharply towards him, making my teeth clack together when he shook me, forcing my eyes open.
"Reading," he repeated mockingly, processing the information slowly. He barked out a laugh and shoved me away from him, and I wrapped my arms around myself, moving against the wall. I nodded in confirmation, trying my best to keep calm and at ease. Charlie didn't like it when I lashed out at him.
It was best to let him get it out of his system, then he'd leave me alone.
I saw his hand before I felt it, wrapping tightly around my long, dark hair. I couldn't help but cry out as he pulled me near him again, my feet stumbling on the linoleum as I fought to keep my balance. He had no words for me as he dragged me to the living room, giving me a sharp slap for my dishonesty. My hands came up to shield myself from the onslaught of his fists and I tried my best to block him out as he raged, and eventually, he let me go.
He kicked the chair on his way out of the room, cursing loudly as he tossed himself back down at the kitchen table, returning to his drink. I sat on the floor for a moment longer, trying to catch my bearings and rubbing my scalp where I was sure he'd torn out some hair.
When I saw the blood on the floor, I immediately scrambled back, taking a deep, steady breath.
'Not mom, not mom, not mom…' The mantra repeated over and over in my head as I clenched my eyes tight shut, willing myself to think of something—anything—else.
That was not her blood.
I distracted myself from the floor by turning away to find the source of the blood on my own body, knowing it was either from my face or his hand.
The warm trickle from my nose alerted me to its source.
In the bathroom, I found Kleenex and a clean washcloth, and made a thorough job of ridding my face of blood. My nose looked alright—not broken at least—though I knew there would be a nasty mark on my cheek come tomorrow morning.
"Come start dinner!" I heard Charlie holler, his voice once again sounding nothing more than irritated. Despite the fact that I'd lived with Charlie my whole life, the abruptness of his changing temper always threw me.
You never knew when he'd snap.
I peeked into the kitchen again before I entered fully, and was relieved to find Charlie engrossed in the weekend paper.
"What are we having?" I asked quietly, opening the freezer to stare at the minimal stock held there. Charlie just grunted with a shrug and I opened the fridge, seeing the steaks I'd defrosted last night.
It was always awkward, working in the kitchen when Charlie was there. He liked to watch me cook, or so he said, and I always wondered what exactly he was watching.
I was peeling potatoes when the loud jangle of the telephone broke my concentration, startling me and making my father curse. I stood still, watching Charlie from the corner of my eye to see if he'd want to pick it up.
"Get that," he spat angrily, gesticulating towards the phone on the wall. I saw the familiar flash of anger in his eyes and rushed to do as I was told, having no desire to deal with his fists again today.
"Hello?" The noise on the phone was loud, and I cringed and held it an inch or so from my ear, confusion rushing through me.
"Bells?" said a loud, boisterous voice over the other end, and I felt my face break into a wide grin.
"Hi Em," I said, happy despite myself. It had been over three years since my brother had moved to Seattle for school, and due to his assignments and various other commitments, I hadn't seen him in over six months. It was hard for Emmett to be home ever since mom died.
"Beelllaaa!" he shouted noisily, drawing my name out. The sound earned another round of laughter and raucousness from his end, and even Charlie heard it, rolling his eyes and shaking his head.
He always reminded me of before when he did that.
There was another click on the line and I heard someone else chime in, this voice much softer and gentler than Emmett's.
"Did they pick up?
"Jasper!" I said, bouncing on the balls of my feet.
"Hey honey," he said, and I could envision the way he was grinning.
Jasper always smiled.
"What's up, guys?" I asked, trying my best to keep the cheer in my voice. I always liked hearing from my brothers, but with that came an overwhelming desire to weep.
Dad was never cruel when the boys were around.
"We have a surprise…" said Emmett in a sing-song voice. "Take a guess."
"I don't know," I said, glancing over at dad. He was staring intently at me, looking torn between letting me talk and snatching the phone for himself.
Dad loved the boys, of that much I was certain.
"Guess!" he insisted, and I heard him drop the phone.
"Jesus, Emmett," said Jasper, laughing. "Talk much?"
"Shut up, dick." Emmett's retort made Jasper laugh, though this time, he sounded taunting.
I just sighed.
"What's the surprise?" I asked.
"Well…" began Jasper in a calm, excited voice. "We're—"
"Coming to visit!" shouted Emmett, loud enough that I grunted and held the phone away from my ear. The shout was loud enough that even Charlie, seated at the table, was able to overhear.
"Fuck!" I heard him growl, throwing his beer bottle into the sink with the dishes, storming away into the living room. Before the boys came home, he would have to get rid of his beer, clean, buy new groceries and pick me up some new makeup.
"What was that?" asked Jasper, sounding concerned.
"Dad," I said quickly, fabricating. "Someone must be losing."
It was well known that dad was a baseball addict, and that when the Mariners lost, his temper often got the best of him.
"Well, well, potty mouth," teased Emmett, chuckling.
"You had to get it from somewhere," snarked Jasper, earning him a laughing "fuck you".
"Want to talk to him?" I asked carefully, eying dad as he slammed the bathroom drawers open, looking for concealer.
"Yeah, okay," said Emmett jovially, and I silently held the phone out for Charlie as he neared.
"Hey," he grunted, his voice raspy. I heard Emmett over the other end, though he didn't shout at dad like he had at me, so I couldn't make out any words.
"Head cold," was all Charlie said.
More like drunk.
"When? Tomorrow?" he asked, and I wished I could hear what was going on. I returned to peeling potatoes, trying my best to look like I wasn't eavesdropping, though I'm not sure Charlie was fooled.
"No, that's not a problem." Pause. "You'll have to ask her." He thrust the phone back at me with a pointed look, shaking it at me when I took too long wiping my hands.
"Bell, we're coming down tomorrow with some friends," said Jasper easily. "Female friends."
I nodded before remembering they couldn't see.
"Who?" I asked, clearing my throat.
"Alice and Rose," said Emmett easily. When I'd Skyped with the boys on webcam the two sometimes made brief appearances, but I had yet to meet them in the flesh. I knew my brothers were serious about them, especially Emmett, who wasn't known for his steady relationships.
I wasn't completely sure how I felt about meeting newcomers, but for my brothers' sake, I would make sure to be welcoming and kind.
Not that I was ever unkind.
"Yeah Em?" I asked, knowing there was a food request coming up.
Emmett ate like a beast.
"Will you make stroganoff? Rosie wants to try it and I've already told her how good it is, and I know I'm your favourite brother…"
"Yes, okay, and it's debatable," I fired off, answering each of his comments in turn.
"Debatable," he chirped, sounding cheered. "Hear that, Jazz? It's debatable. I have a real shot!"
Emmett just laughed.
"Love you, Bell," he said in his normal, teasing voice. Affirmations of love came very easily to Emmett. He never hesitated to tell anyone he could about who and what he "loved". Much to my discontent, I felt my eyes brighten with tears, the sudden urge to hug him and never let go seizing me. Emmett was a rock, and I loved him for it.
Even if he didn't know.
"Love you too," I said, and I knew he would know I was teary.
"Are you crying?" he demanded, indignant. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing," I said, forcing the tears away. "I'm not crying."
"Sounded like you were," he accused gently, and though he said nothing, I knew Jasper was listening too.
"I'm not," I assured him, laughing. "Pinky swear."
"If you're sure," said Jasper finally, sounding every bit as concerned as Emmett.
"Do I have kick some ass when I get there?" demanded Emmett. "Someone picking on you?"
"No," I said, sighing and wiping my face angrily. "Swear it."
"Get in a fight with dad?" he asked. "That always makes you cry."
"No, no fights with dad," I said softly, keeping my voice low so dad wouldn't hear.
He was paranoid about me blabbing, especially to my overprotective bear of a brother.
"I'm not crying," I insisted again. "Cross my heart, pinkie promise."
Jasper just laughed as Emmett fell silent, and dad mimed hanging up from the bathroom doorway.
"I've got to go," I said reluctantly, sighing and forcing myself not to tear up again.
Emmett was bound to find out.
"Aw no!" he cried, disheartened. "Well, I'll see you later then. Love you."
"Bye." Emmett's phone clicked out of the conversation, leaving me alone on the line with Jasper.
"Take care, honey," he said gently. "I'll see you tomorrow."
When his phone clicked too, I frowned and hung the receiver back up on the wall, untangling the curly cord as I composed myself.
I wanted to scream.
"What did you say to them?"
"What?" I asked, confused as dad lounged against the doorframe, frowning at me.
"You heard me."
"Nothing," I said, shaking my head. I refused to meet his eye, focusing instead on the missing piece of baseboard along the kitchen floor.
"Jasper's asking questions," Charlie said, and shivers ran up my spine at the thought. "He thought you sounded 'sad'." He mocked the word in a petulant, childish voice.
"I didn't say anything." I chanced a glance at his face, and was thrown off by his quiet nodding as he examined me closely.
"Make up a good excuse for that mark," he said quietly, reaching out to tap my sore cheek with the tips of his fingers. The gesture was gentler than what I was used to and it took all my self control not to flinch, or better yet, run.
Gentle Charlie was never a good sign.
"Finish dinner," he said, his voice matching the look on his face. He looked like the old Charlie used to look—like the kind, gentle police chief father the townspeople still thought he was. It threw me off kilter as I quickly finished boiling and mashing the potatoes, throwing together a quick salad while the steaks rested.
He even thanked me when I served him, and had no comments about the meal I'd set out.
When we finished and I washed the dishes, Charlie was still watching me.
"We're not going to be alone again for a while," he began quietly, blocking my way to the staircase.
I wanted to go to bed, and I felt my chest constrict at his words.
"Uh huh," I agreed, nodding as I rested against the counter.
"It'll be awhile before…"
"Can I go to bed?"
"Sure," he said, though he made no move to unblock the steps. "Bed."
"Dad please," I said, my voice breaking as I fought back tears.
"Go on up to bed, Bella," he said gently. "I'll see you up there in a few minutes."
"I'd really rather sleep," I tried hesitantly, wondering if he'd slap me for my insolence. "I don't really want to…"
"Go on up," he said, in the same, gentle voice. "I'll be up shortly."
"Maybe I'll just watch a movie," I tried, sliding towards the living room. "I'm not really that tired…"
"Go to bed, Bella," he said firmly. "It's bedtime. Daddy says so."
The tears did fall now, and I wished I could be anywhere but here.
I sniffed as he took my hand and forced me to the steps, his strength more than my own. I hesitated on the steps and he reached out and nudged my back, and I knew he'd have no problem picking me up and carrying me upstairs if I didn't do it myself.
"He's your father, not your lover…" came the unkind voice in my mind. "Little slut wants to make her daddy happy…"
"Don't," I said out loud once I reached the entrance to my door, glancing up and down the hall to find someplace else to go.
There was nowhere I could hide that he wouldn't find me, and when I heard him creaking his way up the steps, I panicked.
In my bedroom, the only place to go was the closet, and I knew he'd only be angrier if he found me there. I rummaged around the room, my brain scrambling to think of somewhere—anywhere—else I could go to avoid what I knew was coming. I found a pair of old pyjamas in the drawers by the window and quickly stripped, throwing them on.
Ugly pyjamas had never deterred him before, I knew, though I supposed there was always a chance...
I heard him entering his own bedroom, no doubt to find something to change into for himself, and I quickly slipped into my bed, wrapping my sheets and comforter tightly around me. I laid down on my pillows and squeezed my eyes shut.
"Baby?" came the voice of Gentle Charlie. I ignored him, praying with all my might to whatever God might be listening for him to leave me be.
"Just for tonight," I thought. "I'll tell my brothers tomorrow. I'll tell them how he hits and grabs and touches…"
I knew I was lying, and when Charlie opened the door and chuckled, I knew it was God's turn to punish my deceit.
No one answered.
"All bundled up for bed," Charlie mocked. "Come on, Bella, I know you're awake." The edge of my bed sunk down low and I grabbed my blankets tighter, willing him away.
His lips pressed to my exposed cheek and his hands stroked down my blanket-covered body, and I flinched when he tore them back, the cool air whooshing around me.
His hands went to my hands then, unclenching them as he placed them on his shoulders and he tossed himself over, lying next to me.
"Be a good girl, Bella," he said gently. "Can you be a good girl for me?"
I clamped my eyes shut as I felt him reaching down for my shirt, pulling it up over my head.
Like he always did, he started with my shirt before he moved to my pants and underclothes, loving me in a way I knew he shouldn't.
Be a good girl, Bella.
Be a good girl…
I went limp under him and let him do whatever pleased him. I did my best to ignore his hands on me, all the while rerunning the mantra of "good girl" in my head. I was a good girl. I was good…
I was a good girl…
He moved over me. Always moving, always moving...
"Oh that's my good girl!"
When he kissed me, pulled away and left, I wrapped myself tightly in my blankets again, not even bothering to replace my ugly pyjamas. I laid naked under my bedclothes, once again clenching my hands in fists and squeezing my eyes shut, willing myself to sleep.
Maybe, if I was lucky, I wouldn't wake up.
A/N: All of the changes to this story were done with the permission of the original "Bella". She has pre-read and pre-approved all changes in both plot and diction, so nothing has been done hastily or without consent.
As always, this story is based on true events.
I'd love to hear what you have to say! Are you liking the changes? Let me know!