I like to think of myself as a reasonable man.
It's true, I still don't much care for my daughter's…um… husband, but I'm not being unreasonable. I don't know the whole story. I don't know the whole story because I've asked for everything to be on a need to know basis. I don't "need to know" exactly what's going on, given what my childhood buddy's kid did in front of me, so I don't need to give my daughter's husband more of a chance.
It's been a year since my daughter adopted a little girl, a little girl who looks like she's Bella and him fifty-fifty. I hope she knows I'm not an idiot. I think he knows. I also think he knows I don't care, because if there's one thing that outshines the sun in my life it's Nessie.
Anyway, this morning Bells called and asked if I could come pick up Nessie in a police cruiser as the little monster has been wanting to see one. I'm keeping her for the weekend, barring the times I'll head on over to Sue's and Ness will hang out with Jake. I bought five boxes of frozen pizza for her, as I don't remember what kind of pizza the kid likes. Bella liked plain cheese, but who knows? Maybe the kid likes pepperoni. Maybe mushrooms. Hell, better safe than sorry.
Pizza makes sense. Things like that make sense. Bells- well, Bells being happy makes sense. I can't say the same about much else in her life.
So I drove my police cruiser over here to the Cullen mansion- that's what the thing is, you know- and found out that Bells, Nessie, and him are off somewhere getting an early dinner and that they'll be back shortly. Mrs. Cullen directed me to their living room and gave me a lemonade to tide me over while I wait. So here I am. I'm sitting, waiting in the most comfortable easy chair I've ever been in, feeling the most uncomfortable I've ever felt.
Because you know what? Any reasonable man wouldn't take the evidence sitting right across from me, flipping pages in a big old book, and let it slide. We can't both be "Grandpa." It just doesn't make sense. It's not reasonable.
"So Dr. Cullen, how old are you, really?" I want to ask. Except this time- goddamn- I did. I did just ask.
"Charlie, how many times must I tell you? Please, call me Carlisle." He puts the book down on the coffee table and smiles at me. His teeth look like they belong in a Crest White Strips ad. I think he's self-conscious about them, because every time he flashes them he closes his mouth just as quickly. Odd.
"You don't believe I'm thirty, Charlie?" His voice is soft, his smile smaller now. He looks like he's about to ask me about my childhood and if I ever loved my mother. It bothers me.
"No, Doc- Carlisle. I'm really sorry. You don't look thirty at all…to me."
Carlisle shifts in his armchair and fingers the pleat on his tailored khakis. I'm looking at him, calm as can be. Thirty my ass. Not one wrinkle. No sign of age.
"The answer to your question would probably break the boundaries of "need to know," and I'm not sure if I would be the person to – "
"So you're not thirty." It doesn't come out as a question anymore, because I know the answer. He's not.
"No, I'm not thirty, Charlie." He looks apologetic, almost guilty, and for the first time today I feel bad. I've got nothing against the doctor, nothing at all. I guess I'm grilling him as a proxy for his son, but still. He's been nothing but kind to me, and so what if he lied about his age? As long as…
"Your medical diplomas, all that- those are real, right?"
"For the most part."
I look at him and sputter, but he raises a finger and continues. "I graduated from medical school, despite what you think my age may or may not be. I would never endanger a patient. I promise you that."
I'm about to respond, but he's looking at me with that calm look of his and Mrs. Cullen is back and refilling my lemonade and I'm just feeling out of the loop. His eyes seem so old.
"You're older than thirty. Hell, you might just be older than me."
"Yes." I can see Mrs. Cullen give him a panicked look when he says it, but he doesn't turn towards her. She looks at me, looks at the back of his head, and quietly totes the pitcher of lemonade back to the kitchen.
You'd think that it would be reasonable to be surprised, but maybe…maybe I'm not so reasonable after all. Because you know what? At this point, I'm not. He's looking at me now, leaning forward and resting his elbows on his knees, a crease between his eyebrows. And he looks even older. He looks years upon years older than me, but he also looks like one of those college kids I'll catch running naked through the forest sometimes. Alright, not exactly like them. But you understand, don't you?
I glance up at him and meet those old, weirdly yellow eyes. His wife has got them too. They're definitely not human, but they don't look evil. Heck, they're not bright red or something. Anyway, looking at him, I realize something. His age? Doesn't matter. Should it?
"Charlie, are you quite well? You look like you're about to spill your lemonade."
The glass makes a satisfying sort of thud as I place it, hand shaking, onto the coffee table.
"Doc, are you happy?" We look at each other for a moment, and I gulp. "I mean, whatever you are, however old you are, whatever goes on here…are you happy?"
He looks at me, his mouth quirking into a smile. "Yes."
Just then, the front door swings open and I hear my daughter's voice, or at least what it sounds like now. I also hear the kid's giggling.
"Dad?" Bella looks worried and is giving Carlisle odd looks, almost as if she heard our conversation and disapproved. I wonder if she had.
"Grandpa! You brought the cruiser!"
"Nice car, sir," says the husband as the kid literally launches herself into my arms. I'm barely able to mumble out a thanks before the little monster has my arm and is dragging me towards the front door with enough force to tow a semi.
I put my hand on her head and slow her long enough to turn and speak to Carlisle, though she's still playfully yanking on my other hand. I'm too much of a pushover, literally, to tell her that it sortof twinges.
"Yes?" He looks like he's trying not to laugh. I'm having difficulty holding it back too.
"At least we know who's the older grandpa around here, huh?"
The last glimpse I get of my daughter as I'm tugged out the door is her pale, happy face breaking out in a huge smile as she, and the rest of them, burst into laughter.