Renesmee's First Lie
Disclaimer: Everything in the Twilight universe belongs to Stephenie Meyer. However, cruciferous vegetable torture is all us.
A/N: (ebhg) We of course had to give Edward his say; Daddy Edward is the best:) Nothing says sexy better than a man who loves his kids and steps up to the plate of parenthood when things aren't cute. I think Edward hit a home run here ;) In case anyone was wondering:
Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, and bok choy- they're all members of the cruciferous, or cabbage, family of vegetables. They all contain fiber, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals that are important to your health. Carlisle and Edward say eat some!
A/N (Gleena): I know a lot of people who hate Brussels sprouts, but this works really well: Cut them in half from top to bottom or even in quarters if they're really big. Chop up some bacon and sauté it (med high to high heat), then add medium-fine chopped onions. When the onions are clear, toss in the Brussels sprout halves/quarters. When the sprouts begin to have nice browning, add about a tsp-Tbsp of soy sauce (I never measure, so…). This works for baby bok choy as well, but it needs a little more chopping.
This story is dedicated to Justine Lark, but I want to dedicate this chapter to all the dads out there who step up to the plate and take care of and properly and lovingly discipline their children. Thanks Dad! You're great!
Chapter 2: Edward
I stood at the backdoor holding Nessie and watched Bella, Rosalie, and Alice jump the river and disappear into the woods beyond. I could only think one thing: what just happened?
You can thank me later, Edward. Alice's annoyingly smug mental voice invaded my private conclave of confusion, but I could obtain nothing else from her.
I kissed Nessie on top of the head and carried her back into the house.
"Time for dinner, sweetie," I told her. I was treated to various images of elk, deer, mountain lion, grizzly bear, and even bags of donated blood. "Don't be stubborn," I told Nessie. I suspected my words fell on deaf ears. How could Bella's daughter be anything less than stubborn? She knew that it was time for her human dinner. Carlisle had been concerned about certain vitamins and antioxidants missing from animal blood and wanted Nessie to have at least one human meal a day.
"The food's ready," said Esme from the kitchen. I set Nessie into her favorite chair in the dining room and watched while Esme set the plate, fork, and napkin at Nessie's spot. The broiled chicken with cranberry sauce and steamed broccoli smelled positively revolting. However, in the year since we had required Ness to partake in a human meal once a day, I had learned rather quickly to keep my olfactory discomfort from showing on my face.
Renesmee knew full well that the smell of human food wasn't appealing to those of us lacking a fur pelt and a long bushy tail. To my dismay, she had learned at a tender age that Uncle Jasper and Uncle Emmett could be easily persuaded to join the "Blood for Ness" argument if she sensed any discomfort on our part. Poker-faced indifference was the best way to defuse her most persuasive arguments.
"Don't forget, Nessie, no dessert unless you eat some of everything," chided Esme. Nessie was almost violently opposed to eating green vegetables. Unfortunately, those were the source of the very substances Carlisle was most concerned about.
I left Nessie to eat while Esme puttered around in the kitchen. I sat at the piano and wondered how this day had evolved as I began playing Moonlight Sonata. Ever since Renesmee had been born, I had put my responsibilities as a husband and father first and decreased the time I spent with my brothers. Emmett had been arguing for weeks that some "manly bonding" was needed, and he had finally found the temptation I couldn't resist. I was supposed to be in Seattle watching exhibition baseball between a Japanese team, the Saitama Seibu Lions, and the Mariners' triple-A farm team, the Tacoma Rainiers. The World Series would begin next week, and Emmett especially had been interested in seeing some prospects to improve on the Mariners' lineup. The Mariners had finished a pitiful last place in the AL West, not even dreaming of the post-season in the entire month of September.
Emmett had been throwing mental draft scenarios at me all week, leaving me nearly as eager to go as he was this morning. When it was time to leave, it appeared that Jasper had somehow misplaced a ticket, leaving only two tickets rather than three.
I had a feeling that Alice was somehow behind the disappearing ticket, though she was singing an off-key rendition of "Can't Touch This." That guaranteed that I blocked her as quickly as possible. I somewhat ungraciously agreed to sit this one out; as I had done a half-dozen times in the last year, I watched my brothers take off in a trail of dust kicked up by Emmett's jeep. I refused to let Renesmee feel as though I didn't want to spend time with her, so I had down-played my disappointment.
After Emmett and Jasper's departure, there was a strange discussion about how the Cullen boys bonded better than the Cullen girls, which ended with Rose, Alice, and Bella all scowling at me. I had a feeling that Emmett had said something stupid in parting to Rose. The next thing I knew, they had decided to go hunt together, and I was left gaping at their departing backs, wondering what I had said to annoy them all.
Alice's parting words to me had made me suspicious that she had orchestrated the entire day, but I hadn't a clue why she wanted me at home alone with Renesmee and Esme.
That's not my favorite, but it's pretty. Nessie was enjoying Moonlight Sonata, and as I searched my memories, I realized I had never played it for her.
"It's called Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven, sweetheart," I told her. I decided to put aside my concerns about Alice's meddling and pay attention to my daughter, who was cheerfully ignoring her meal. I had a mental image of her conducting the triplets in the left hand with her fork, and I smiled. Nessie imagined the pulsing of ocean waves at night, moonlight spilling out on the surface of the water.
I held back my sigh when the deserted stretch of shoreline pictured in her thoughts turned out to be First Beach. She and Jacob had spent considerable time there over the past weekend. I hated to disrupt my daughter's musical musings, but she needed to be redirected towards her meal.
"You have a good ear, Nessie, but you need to eat your dinner."
How could an ear be good? Mine didn't really do anything. When Jake was a werewolf, he could make his ears do lots of things.
"Dinner, Nessie." My admonitions were becoming shorter and more emphatic. I didn't want to have to go in and watch her eat. I squeezed my eyes shut. God in heaven, please, not the eating. I remembered how fascinating it had been to watch Bella eat. Somehow, my love for Bella had been more than enough to compensate for the repulsive smell of human food. I loved Nessie just as much, but in a different way. Watching her eat had none of the allure of Bella's humanity and all of the stress of being a disciplinary parent.
I was "treated" to a vision of Emmett pounding on his chest and telling Nessie that she wouldn't grow hair on her chest if she didn't eat her peas. I had missed that – it must have been one of the times he and Rose had babysat for us. No wonder she didn't like green vegetables. We were definitely having a discussion when he got back from Seattle.
Nessie was contemplating her dinner. She had done a reasonable job, except for the green vegetable.
"Nessie. You have to eat at least one piece of broccoli."
She had been getting progressively sneakier about avoiding the food items she disliked, and I sensed a new strategy developing in her mind.
"Grandma, did you know that broccoli is really called Brassica oleracea and it comes from Italy?" Grandma likes gardening, so she'll be happy if I just talk about the broccoli.
I was going to have to stand over Nessie while she ate her broccoli. Just as I was about to get up from the piano, I heard Esme head toward the dining room. Grandmothers were the best. I began Esme's Song as a thank you.
"Just one piece, Nessie. Do you want me to cut a piece up into little bites?" You're welcome, Edward. You know I don't mind watching my granddaughter.
"Will one of the little pieces count as one piece?" Nessie had tried distraction, now she was bargaining. What would she think of next?
"No, you'll have to eat all the little pieces, sweetheart." Grandma isn't as strict as Grandpa or Daddy.
Nessie's thoughts were becoming more convoluted; she was definitely planning a new strategy. If Daddy and Grandma promised not to tell, I wouldn't have to eat the rest. My eyebrows went up. How did she think she would convince us not to "tell" on her to Carlisle?
"Please cut it for me, Grandma," Nessie said sweetly.
"Edward, would you take out the trash for me?" Esme asked. I immediately stopped playing and stepped into the kitchen. I glanced quickly around, reassuring myself that nothing foul-smelling would remain. I sealed the trash and carried it out to the large barrels by the garage. I walked slowly, because I had a feeling Nessie was about to make her move. She decided to take advantage of my absence, and I couldn't decide if I was enamored by her creativity, angry at her defiance, or shocked at her audacity.
Nessie dumped her leftover food into the trash. Esme was as surprised as I was, and knelt down to discipline Nessie. I could see through Renesmee's eyes how Esme's face was disappointed and sad, when Nessie surprised me even further. She deliberately…pushed…a new memory into Esme's mind. The vision was very strong and vibrant and felt qualitatively different from Renesmee's true memories or even from her projected opinions. This vision was different somehow, more encompassing and compelling.
I sucked in an unnecessary breath when I realized that Esme's only memory of the last two minutes was the false one Renesmee had given her. All Esme's concerns about reprimanding Nessie were gone. My daughter had manipulated Esme's mind, and she was actually proud of her actions. My mind raced as the implications ran through my head of what havoc Nessie could wreak with her new ability. I was shocked at how readily Ness had been able to use her gift to lie to Esme, to effectively modify her memory without her knowledge or consent. Her mind and her emotions were far too immature to use this ability judiciously. If I didn't do something to address this behavior, Renesmee would become completely out of control, and no one would be the wiser. I wondered how Alice could have foreseen that I needed to stay home when Nessie was invisible to her. The implications must have been far-reaching indeed.
Just as I began to walk back to the house, I stopped dead in my tracks. While skipping her vegetables seemed fairly innocuous, I shuddered as I realized the sort of things that she could do as a young adult, caught in the throes of teenaged hormones. I remembered how I had snuck into Bella's bedroom every night under Charlie's nose, and how I had thought my gift would prevent Jacob from doing the same. I imagined that if Ness developed this element of her gift, her virtue wouldn't last beyond her seventh birthday and we would be none the wiser. I shuddered at the thought of my baby girl lying to me about something so important, but if her behavior went unchecked, it could easily become a reality.
I suddenly thought of the Volturi and what they would have to say about this newfound talent. I was sure that it would interest them more than I preferred, much like Bella's increasing success in de-shielding her mind from me. My resolve to stop Renesmee's behavior before it developed into a problem strengthened with the conviction that it was the right thing to do, regardless of how Ness would pout or how many tears she may shed. I admitted to myself that it may have been sheer paranoia, but the fewer people who knew that my daughter could modify memories with a simple thought the better. Aro's ability to probe every memory was always hovering at the back of my mind. Not to mention how useful Emmett might find the ability to lie so effortlessly.
My decision made, I ran with renewed purpose all the way into the kitchen, determined to speak to Renesmee. She was seated with her back to me, already eating a cookie that she knew that she didn't deserve, which only disappointed me further. Esme was already in her study surveying plans for a home that she and Carlisle had hopes of renovating for our next move.
"Renesmee…" I said firmly with my hands planted on my hips to show her that I meant business. She would not wrap me around her finger this time.
She grew very still. Only her heart beat gave away her nature, she was so still. Daddy didn't sound happy. At least she was aware of my attitude, but would she acknowledge the reason for it?
Her wide innocent smile when she turned around answered that question. Did she truly not comprehend the magnitude of what she had just done? Her careful plotting had me under the impression that she was fully aware of her actions, and the impact that they made on others. I pulled my eyebrows together at that thought, and I heard Nessie mentally process my expression before she began to pout.
I knew Daddy was upset at me, but I didn't know why. I made Grandma happy, right?
I let out a deep breath and pinched the bridge of my nose. Obviously Renesmee hadn't fully comprehended the nature of her actions, as sneakily carried out as they were. I couldn't help but smile when my daughter treated me to a memory-montage of Rose smacking Emmett in the head for every stupid thing he had said this month. I was in the background of every memory, in the exact position that I currently found myself. I would have to tell Emmett and Rose to tone down the violence when I spoke to Emmett about hairy-chest inducing vegetables. I couldn't put off the necessary conversation with my daughter any longer.
"I think you and I need to go for a little walk," I said as I scooped Renesmee up and held her like she was an infant. I darted out of the house and started running for the woods, clearing the river and veering away from the scent trails left by my wife and sisters. This was a father-daughter talk; it needed to be private.
I could feel my daughter's nervousness even without Jasper's talent. Renesmee startled me by remembering Jacob's body language after the private scolding I had given him the other day when he had taken my baby girl on his bike after I said no.
I came to a stop in a clearing not far from the meadow and waited for Renesmee to realize that we had stopped moving. After a moment, she stirred in my arms and I put her down on the ground and walked a few steps further before I stopped again. I was watching myself through her eyes, my back to my daughter and my hands on my hips. I wasn't quite sure where to start, and I looked up into the clouds wondering if I had ever given Elizabeth Masen such a challenge.
Daddy sure was breathing a lot for someone who doesn't have to…Why was Daddy so upset? He didn't like cookies; was he jealous of my cookies?
I let out another big breath in exasperation. Jealous of cookies, indeed. Bella would be laughing at me by now.
"Daddy?" Nessie's voice trembled. She was anxious for my rebuke, and her eyes were near overflowing.
"Why does every parent have to be cursed with little versions of themselves? Did I torture my mother when I was a boy?" I muttered under my breath—not quietly enough.
Didn't Daddy love me anymore?
My dead heart nearly broke at the thought that she didn't think I loved her anymore. "Renesmee Carlie Cullen…you know that I love you…" I paused, unsure of how to proceed after my latest parenting blunder. I pinched my nose again.
What did I do wrong?
"Daddy, why are you mad at me?" my daughter's question nearly broke my resolve as her voice broke and she nearly sobbed the words to me.
"You threw your broccoli in the trash, sweetheart." I decided to try to get her to understand her error on her own by walking her through the problem.
"But it was broken! It tasted real bad, Daddy. It even broke the cranberry sauce!" Like her mother, her tear-ducts seemed easily stimulated in her indignant anger, though I could not allow her impertinence to turn the argument on to me.
"Renesmee…" I began, but I decided to be less formal. "Ness…" I said as I turned around, taking in my daughters water-filled eyes and her quivering lower lip. I moved faster than her half-human brain could interpret and knelt in front of her, grasping her shoulders. "It's not so much that you threw it away. It's what you did afterwards, honey." I tried again to make her see the problem before I scolded her for it.
"But I just made Grandma happy!" she moaned through her now falling tears.
I didn't understand why Daddy was so mad when I was so nice to Grandma.
I sighed; intelligent she may be, but her perception was skewed by her emotional immaturity. I had to tread carefully, lest I offend her intelligence, and make things worse. I reached up with one hand and wiped her tears away, much as I once did for her mother.
"Ness, I had hoped that I would never have to say this, but I was very disappointed by the choice you made in the kitchen." I decided it was time to get to the root of the problem. She wouldn't understand an indirect approach in her emotionally charged state.
"But I don't like broccoli! Grandma never made you eat yucky blood! It's not fair for you to make me eat yucky veggies!" she argued impertinently. I allowed my face to become my stern I-mean-business face that I had borrowed from Charlie.
"It's not about the broccoli Ness. You lied to Grandma about it." I explained, resisting the urge to shout, and mentally cursing my own brain for being hard-wired for a hot-headed teenaged response. I struggled to be the adult that I pretended to be.
"I just made her happy!" Nessie insisted with a stamp of her foot. Strangely, her display of childishness allowed me to curb my own. I shook my head instead.
"While Grandma may have been happy, she wasn't happy for the right reasons, sweetheart. You used your gift to make her believe something that wasn't true. That is lying." I hoped that she would understand how serious the situation really was; that she was standing on a fine line that could and would shape her future. She was crying without restraint now, and I hesitated to wipe them away as quickly as they were falling. I didn't want to risk giving her an abrasion. I knew that my daughter was uncomfortable; she had never liked displeasing her elders, going above and beyond sometimes to please us. I had a feeling that her desire to please us was at the root of our situation.
Daddy had never ever said anything about being disappointed in me.
"I didn't say I was disappointed in you, it was your choice that disappointed me Renesmee." It was a fine distinction; one which some might claim didn't exist. I was never surer than I was now that it was in fact the difference between acceptance and apathy. While my daughter might make poor choices, I could never be disappointed in her. I loved her too much for that. I nearly laughed at the realization that this tiny little girl had once again turned around more than eight decades worth of self-abhorrence. She and her mother never ceased teaching me life's little lessons. Her next question pulled me out of my introspection.
"My choice?" Nessie asked between sniffles. Her mind was calming and I knew that she would be perceptive to what I had to teach her, and I once again marveled that I should have anything to teach a child, let alone the opportunity to do so.
"Yes. You had a choice in the kitchen; eat the broccoli and get a cookie, or refuse the broccoli and go without the cookie. You chose to lie to Grandma and make her think you ate the vegetables, when really you didn't." I explained.
"But eating veggies is hard, Daddy! I don't like them!" Her honest answer pleased me more than any trite acceptance of my rules. I knew that she was willing to listen and understand. I once again thought back to my human years, and I was sure that I had an indistinct recollection of Elizabeth Masen scolding me for putting my broccoli in the centerpiece during a fancy party, Christmas dinner perhaps. Pleased that I had a human situation in which to relate to my stubborn daughter, I said, "Ness, there was once a time that I didn't want to eat what my parents wanted to feed me too."
"You mean when you were naughty and left Grandma and Grandpa and drank humans?" she asked without missing a beat. My eyes bulged in shock; I was not aware that Renesmee had been informed about my rebellious years. Then she realized what she said and gasped and covered her mouth with her hand. "I wasn't supposed to tell!" she admitted.
I was treated to yet another visual of Emmett getting hit in the head by Rose after he told her about how "Daddy was naughty a long time ago." The memory showed my brother wearing the same shirt as the hairy-chest inducing peas memory; Bella and I may have to reconsider his child-minding privileges. I let out another big breath and pinched my nose again; it seemed I was doing that a lot tonight.
"Emmett…" I muttered in frustration. My rebellion was a topic that I had hoped to address with my daughter myself, when she was mature enough to understand the implications of such an admission
"Daddy?" she asked her voice was timid, and her thoughts betrayed her fear of having angered me again. I would have to school my reactions a little more if I was going to be a mature parent.
"I'm not mad at you sweetheart; that's just a story that I hoped to save until you were older and could understand things better," I admitted in frustration.
"I'm a big girl! I do understand! I like how Jake tastes better than broccoli." That was not the sort of understanding that I had hoped for. I didn't want her to justify my actions; there was nothing justifiable about them, no matter how often Bella insisted I wasn't a terrible monster for giving in to a baser instinct for those three years during the Great Depression. I wanted her to understand the error in my judgment; for not listening to Carlisle when he had taught me so patiently how to hunt animals rather than humans and for rationalizing that killing those humans was acceptable, no matter how monstrous they were themselves.
"Ness…" I said, unsure of where to begin.
"I know…humans are friends, not food," she explained in a sing-song voice.
I shook my head and muttered, "Only Jacob and Jasper could use Disney to corrupt young children…" Renesmee's thoughts radiated her confusion. I decided to just lay it all out there and explain what she didn't understand as we came to it.
"You should understand then, that I had a choice when I drank from humans. I made a poor choice, just as you made a poor choice when you lied to your Grandmother. But, I did a very difficult thing; I made a better choice after I realized what I did was wrong. I haven't drunk from humans since I returned back home to Grandma and Grandpa. You have a difficult choice before you Renesmee. Your gift would allow you to lie very easily to others Ness. Will you choose honesty, or will you choose deceit?"
Renesmee thankfully understood me; she was surprised that I was presenting me with a choice. I realized that I had truly come full-circle as I remembered the choice that Carlisle had laid at my feet before I left him and Esme to strike out on my own. "Will you choose your monstrous nature, or will you choose humanity?" Renesmee had her own life-altering decision to make here in the woods, all because of a little cruciferous vegetable that she didn't like. Very few children could say that broccoli had changed their lives. I was pleased as I heard her thoughts tumble over the situation, and her desire to never disappoint me again that she based on my honesty regarding my past. Perhaps Emmett wasn't so terrible a baby-sitter after all. Though I still couldn't let the hairy chest peas go.
"Daddy? I don't ever want to disappoint you or Mommy or anybody ever again. If I promise not to ever lie again, would you please keep this our secret?" I smiled at her, pleased that she wanted to keep this between us. It made my concerns over the Volturi deflate a small bit.
I pulled my baby girl into a hug, tucking her to my chest as I had done when she was very small. As she breathed in my scent, she sent me an image of another time that I had held her like this. She pressed her hand to my cheek and replayed the memory of me walking with her as a newborn while Bella suffered in silence in the background.
"Yes, sweetheart, I promise. This will be our secret, so long as you never do it again." I vowed, and I knew that she would uphold her promise
I was startled when she pulled back without a thought and looked at me very seriously. I struggled to hold a stern face at her next thought, and then she voiced it.
"Do I still have to eat broccoli?
Later that evening as I was playing at my piano, Bella and my sisters returned. Bella ran to me and placed a warm kiss of greeting and apology on my lips before she darted upstairs to check on our sleeping daughter.
A second later, my meddling sister seated herself beside me and started to play a melody discordant from my own. I knew exactly what she was after, even if she hadn't been singing terrible nineties songs.
"It won't work…" I said.
"As if I didn't already know you would say that," Alice replied.
"Then you should know that I'm not going to share. I saw the $15.00 confetti in the shredder…you could have just said that Nessie and I needed to stay home," I argued back.
"Edward, please?" Alice asked. She showed me a glimpse of her visions that led up to her decision to shred my chance to bond with my brothers this evening. Emmett and Jasper snickering in the stands as Jasper made the drunken fans in front of them enthusiastically cheer to the point of indiscretion. Had I been there, it would never have happened. Then I caught a glimpse of my wife and sisters hunting together in the woods; they had leapt into the hot spring after feeding and had gossiped about my brothers and I. Definitely would not have happened had Nessie or I been with them. Her last vision showed Carlisle at the hospital and Esme reviewing her house plans. Only Ness and I remained completely absent from her prior glimpses of this evening, and she was dying to know why. The final vision she showed me was a disturbing one indeed; Bella, Jake, and I were shouting and crying in our cottage. I didn't know it was related, but it disappeared when I decided to shred the ticket, Edward.
"I'm sorry Alice, but I have to claim father-daughter privilege," I said with a smug grin. And a privilege it was.
A/N: (ebhg) Thanks for reading! We hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into Daddy Edward's stupendous parenting skills :) This was a lot of fun to collaborate on! We're nearly done with our next collaboration, so be sure to keep us on alert for Masen and Swan's next adventure!
A/N: (Gleena) Everyone go make your Dad a great dinner of Brussels sprouts!
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