Summary: Charlie and Renée lean on one another more than they should in New Moon.
Author's note: Hey! This is my first Charlie/Renée fic, so I hope you enjoy it. I couldn't really think of a great title, so I settled for Yellow Cabinets; if you have any suggestions, let me know. :) This takes place in New Moon when Renée comes to Forks to make Bella come back to Florida with her. It's a oneshot, although there is a chance that I might be adding more related Charlie/Renée fics to this story...maybe about this same instance or her time in Forks, I don't know yet. Anyway, I hope you guys enjoy this. And thanks in advance for taking the time to read and, hopefully, review to let me know what you think! :)
The early morning drizzle forced her to give in and turn her windshield wipers on. Grudgingly, she turned the knob, watching the motion for a moment before returning her eyes to the road. She had never intended to come back, never intended to set a toe in this sleepy, unforgiving town again. But things had changed and the circumstances were dire. This wasn't a problem that she could fix over the phone.
Her daughter was in pain. Real-life, honest to goodness pain that couldn't be wiped away as easily as she would have hoped. It wasn't the pain of a normal breakup. It was as if when Edward had left he had taken her heart, her joy, her will to live. Bella had been too much in love, more than she herself had ever been.
Renée had known something was wrong when she answered the phone on that sweltering day in September and heard Charlie's defeated voice. It wasn't like him to call for help; it wasn't like him to cry, to worry, to need anything from anyone, especially her. But he had, so she'd taken the soonest flight out of Florida to Washington, leaving Phil stunned at how fast she could react. She had packed, planned, and bought her ticket in one day and was landing in Seattle the next.
She had been here for a day so far, and she was beginning to remember why she had left this town so soon after she'd arrived. The stares and whispers that followed her as she'd walked through town to get to her hotel were evidence enough that the presence of the woman who'd deserted the chief of police was not welcome; even if only to take her daughter home.
As she made the familiar turn into the driveway, Renée found that nothing had changed. Charlie's cruiser was parked in the same spot, the shrubs were still unkempt and wild, and the ever present rain came down steadily, a thick layer of clouds obstructing the sun she loved so much.
Running to the porch, she tossed her newly bought umbrella aside and knocked on the door. Her stomach fluttered at the idea of being in this house again, of reliving old memories. She heard his thudding footfalls before the door swung open, and he stepped to one side to let her in.
As she moved around him to stand in the foyer, she was now certain that absolutely nothing had changed. The same furniture was in the same position, identical to where she had last rearranged it; the same pictures lined the mantel, with the exception of their wedding photo; and the same worn rug lay beneath her feet. Her eyes swept across the room, returning to the man who stood uncomfortably before her. He couldn't meet her perceptive gaze; it was as if he knew exactly what she was thinking: He hadn't moved on.
"Bella's upstairs," he said, leading the way as if she didn't know.
After walking up the creaking flight they stood together on the cramped landing for a moment in silence before he pounded on Bella's bedroom door, his voice gruff and solemn.
"Your mother is here, Bella. Open up."
Renée shot Charlie a look before brushing past him into her daughter's room and closing the door behind her. With no surprise she found that Bella's room hadn't changed much either. It was as true now as it was then; the light blue walls could do nothing to cheer up the gloom that the weather cast. And her failed attempt at bringing life and brightness into this room seemed more obvious a failure now as her daughter lie motionless on her bed.
She didn't move as Renée sat beside her and pulled her up into her arms.
"Oh baby," she murmured into Bella's hair. "I'm so sorry."
Bella said nothing; she only clung to her mother as silent tears rolled down her cheeks.
"It'll pass, sweetie. It takes time, but it will pass. And when you're my age, you won't even remember the pains of eighteen."
Bella shuddered in her arms, shaking her head furiously, as if her mother didn't understand the pain love caused. But Renée knew. The proof was hovering outside the door.
For hours, Renée held her daughter, singing to her, kissing her head, wiping her tears, whispering happy memories, and dashing lost dreams. It was only when she breached the subject of returning to Florida that Bella came to life, sitting up and raising her voice.
"No," she whispered, tears forming in her eyes as if she couldn't bear to leave the town that had caused both of them so much pain.
"Jacksonville will be good for you. It's warm and sunny. The beaches are swimmable, the schools are great."
"Bella, honey, you don't need to stay here. It'll only bring you down-"
"No it won't. I don't want to leave." Bella's words rushed together. Her eyes were frantic.
"It's okay," Renée soothed, rubbing her daughter's hands. "Maybe just a visit, then. The fresh air will do you good. We could go to Disney World, like you always wanted. Just me and you. Ride the tea cups until we get sick."
"I don't care about Disney World. I'm not going."
"Bella, be reasonable. What's keeping you here?"
"Everything is keeping me here!" she shouted, tearing her hands away from her mother's grasp. "You don't get it! Just because you've never felt this way doesn't mean that it can't happen. He was my life and now he's gone and I can't do this! I can't just plan and be happy without him in my life."
Bella slumped in a heap of fresh tears, recoiling from her mother and sinking back into her bed. Renée sat, frozen, cut to the quick by her daughter's words. It was only when she heard a bump in the hall that she moved, running a cool hand over her daughter's back before slipping out into the hallway again. He was no longer there.
Pressing her fingers underneath her eyes, Renée caught the tears that were threatening to roll down her face as she descended the stairs, her fingers slipping along the worn wood. She heard a clash of cabinets in the kitchen and a slam of porcelain against wood. As she rounded the corner, she could see Charlie, slumped over a broken coffee cup, his shoulders shaking violently.
Hearing the linoleum creak beneath her feet, he whipped around, brushing the tears from his eyes. She frowned as she looked him over; his thick, dark hair was tousled on his head, his eyes, creased with lines, drooped with tire and worry, his skin looked sallow.
Renée walked toward him hesitantly, stopping just in front of him. "Can I get you anything?" she inadvertently repeated the first words she had ever spoken to him as a waitress.
His lips pulled downward; his eyes traveling across the kitchen before they settled fully on his ex-wife. "My daughter back…" his voice was raw with emotion.
"Oh, Charlie," she murmured, before closing the space between them and pulling him into an embrace. "We'll get her back."
His body was rigid against hers for a time as she hugged him tightly. When he allowed himself to slump against her shoulder, her fingers found their way to the base of his neck, softly playing with his hair, running her fingers along the skin at the nape. A low sigh rose from his lips at her shoulder, his breath landing on her neck, his sobs shaking them both.
The knot of emotion tightened in Renée's throat as she thought of their daughter, their life together, their lives now; lives that were so different, so opposite, so far apart. She clung to him tighter now, finally permitting the tears to release against her skin. She felt his arms wrap around her waist; the shiver she felt along her abdomen was undeniable.
She inhaled deeply as she sagged against him now. He smelled of coffee, shaving cream, and pine, the three things that epitomized him in her mind. The things that brought emotions crashing back upon her, making her almost unable to stand up against their weight. Bella's words rung in her ears, "Just because you've never felt this way doesn't mean that it can't happen." But in her heart she knew her daughter was wrong.
Bella knew nothing of their life before now, before the disintegration of their marriage, before she had fallen out of love and forsaken the town of Forks. Their love had been strong, fleeting but strong. Powerfully binding them together so young, cruelly tearing them apart as they grew.
As Charlie became still in her arms, Renée pulled back, looking up at him. Their eyes locked for a moment, frozen in time as they forgot the past. She could feel his fingers rolling circles in her back. Her pulse quickened as she sensed his gaze falling to her mouth. As she brought her hand up to his cheek, his breathing grew heavy. His eyes closed for a moment before opening again, intensely upon her.
It all happened quickly then.
She sprung up to meet his lips as they crashed down upon hers, causing the fine hair on the back of her neck to stand up. Charlie kissed her roughly, desperately, his lips needy at her mouth. Her hands worked their way into his hair, pulling at the waves of brown as he pushed her against the refrigerator.
Their tongues met for the first time in eighteen years, and the sensation was electric. He pressed into her, one hand propping himself against the fridge and one tightly coiled around her waist, flattening her against his frame. The sigh of breathing that rushed against his skin pushed him on, kissing her more slowly, deliberately, full of pent up longing.
He moved to her jaw next, overwhelming her skin with feverish presses of his lips before moving against her neck.
"Charlie," she whimpered, her skin feeling hot against his.
Her fingers loosened in his hair as she pulled his face up to meet hers. Their eyes met in a hazy glance as she tugged upward against him, her mouth brushing along his, softly, repeatedly. His skin felt coarse against her cheek as they moved in unison, clinging to one another, forgetting why they were apart, why she no longer belonged to him.
Abruptly, a piercing cry sliced though the air and they both froze in place; Charlie's head jerked upwards, his lips brushing against Renée's forehead. "Bella…"
Their daughter's name echoed on his lips. He looked down at Renée again. "I'll be back."
She nodded silently before left the room and jogged up the stairs, taking them two at a time; soon, muffled voices reached her ears.
Closing her eyes briefly, Renée took the opportunity alone to breathe, to think. As she opened them again, her blue eyes sparkling with tears, she realized clearly what she had just done. A cold chill slowly crept up her spine, making her numb.
Her eyes flickered across the kitchen, falling on every reminder of her past. The most obvious of all, painting the cabinets a garish shade of yellow to bring in the sun, stared at her from across the room. It was an action which looked foolish now against the dark wood that surrounded her.
Bringing her hand to her face, a strangled cry escaped her lips. She stood immobile in the kitchen. It was a place so familiar, a place so far away from everything that she knew. So many things had occurred without her in this house that she had left when she was only twenty-one. Charlie had worked his way up over the years from nothing to the chief of police, without a permanent daughter, without a wife.
He had built his life without them, though still clinging to the past; never straying too far from what had been. And she, whose dreams had been too big to be cooped up, to be caged, had left him, alone. Guilt wracked her body, and now it seemed as if it was too late, as if everything was happening out of order. She realized too late, when things were too far gone, that she had gotten everything wrong and now she was trapped by her own choices.
She stared blankly at those yellow cabinets, flinching when Charlie was by her side again, brushing her hair away from her forehead. "Bella's okay, just had a bad dream is all…"
Renée nodded, shuddering as he kissed the side of her neck. "Charlie…"
"Hmm?" He looked up, his eyes shining with unspoken happiness.
"We can't…do this, Charlie." Her voice sounded hollow, even in her own ears.
He backed away immediately, his hands in his hair in one moment and dragging down his face in the next. The look he met her with was full of pain as he pressed his lips together. His voiced quivered with ache, "Of course. I don't know what I was thinking. You were always changing your mind."
Her lips trembled as the weight of his words struck her. "Charlie…if I could go back and–"
"But we can't, right?" He sliced through her words, hardly looking at her.
"Yeah, that's what I thought," he whispered roughly, his arms crossing over his chest.
"Do you think…we would have made it? If I had stayed?" Her throat throbbed with regret.
"I don't know…"
She barely heard his response as he crossed the room to meet her, his boots thudding loudly on the floor. He stopped in front of her, close enough to touch if she had dared. "I'll be at work tomorrow. If you could be here with Bella that would be great."
He turned again, starting to leave when she called, "Charlie."
"You're doing a great job with her."
Dipping his head, he stood there in silence and for a moment, their eyes met. Swallowing hard, he moved again before her voice rang out.
Wordless, his eyes brimming with tears; he paused again without turning around to face her.
As she blinked back the tears that were forming in her eyes, he disappeared, leaving her sinking to the floor, alone with those damn yellow cabinets. No amount of regret could change her actions. It wouldn't change the day she'd left with Bella, her many meaningless boyfriends, her hasty marriage to Phil, or her unwitting betrayal to both men this afternoon, dredging up old memories and breaking vows in the process.
Her sobs overtook any conscious action, her mind reeling with doubt, regret, and despair. As she sunk to the cold, white linoleum, she realized that she had lied to her daughter, for even now she remembered the selfish pains of eighteen, nineteen, twenty and twenty-one. And she knew that her daughter would remember the pain, the pressure on her chest, the feeling of never being able to catch her breath. He had taken her heart, her joy, her will to live. It was not something from which she would soon recover. The pain would lay open, fresh and stinging until something came along that forced her to mend, to heal and live again.
The pain for Renee had lasted eighteen years, living with the weights of a marriage failed, two hearts broken, and an endless series of tries to make things right. And now, as she sat in the trappings of her own web, she wept. There was no restart button when you realized that you were ready for something that you hadn't been in the past. No second chance. She had never felt that more clearly as she looked at those yellow cabinets.