Set in the month of June after Twilight. For Edward's birthday Carlisle arranges for Edward to take Bella to the Symphony in Seattle, with him and Esme as chaperons, of course. As Edward and Bella explore their present relationship and Edward's past Carlisle and Esme struggle to understand what impact Bella will have on Edward's future.
This is an Edward/Bella story, but it concentrates on the changing dynamic of the relationship between Carlisle and Edward.
"Hello, may I speak to Chief Swan please?"
"May I ask who is calling?" the secretary at the police station asked in a voice which sounded both busy and bored.
"This is Dr. Carlisle Cullen. It's not urgent." I didn't want to make Charlie worry that Bella was in the ER, at least not today. Though I fully expected to see her here at some point again. I wondered briefly if my request that the hospital increase its inventory of Bella's blood type could be considered an ethical violation. No, I decided, it was simply being prepared for the expected.
I waited patiently, looking at the undiscovered Hassam which was the focal point of my otherwise rather bare office at the hospital. I hated to have this conversation over the phone from my workplace, but I thought it would be best. It would save Bella some embarrassment hopefully.
"Hello, this is Chief Swan," Charlie greeted, sounding anxious.
"Hello Chief, this is Dr. Cullen. I'm sorry to bother you at work. Do you have a moment?"
"Sure Dr. Cullen, what can I do for you today?" Charlie asked brightly.
"I actually want to ask your permission for something concerning Bella. Has she mentioned that Edward's birthday is coming up?"
We had long ceased celebrating birthdays, of course. After a few years of eternity it became monotonous, and also bittersweet. But Chief Swan didn't know that, and Edward's birthday was an excellent excuse for this elaborate scheme. I hoped Bella would buy it as well.
"No, she didn't say anything," Charlie answered.
"We usually keep birthdays low-key in my family. But Edward is turning eighteen on the twentieth, so Esme and I wanted to do something special for him, and I know he would want Bella to be a part of it."
"I see," he said slowly. "What are you planning?"
"Well, I'm not sure you know, but Edward loves to play the piano." I smiled to myself at the understatement. Edward was probably one of the best pianists in the world, but Charlie didn't need to know that.
"No, I didn't know."
"Yes, well, the Seattle Symphony is playing their season finale concert on the eighteenth, and Esme and I thought he might enjoy going."
"And you're wondering if Bella can go as well?" Charlie's tone had suddenly turned wary.
"Yes. But the concert doesn't start until eight o'clock, and won't be over until late, much too late to drive home, so we are planning on spending the night in a hotel." Of course, we could drive back to Forks anytime of the night, in well under three hours, but Bella's father would find that quite odd. "We also thought to spend some time in one of the museums Sunday morning before coming back to Forks."
A pause. "When you say we, you mean..."
"Esme and I would accompany them, of course." Charlie may be a distant father to Bella, but a part of me was happy that he cared enough to think about parental supervision. I had seen too many human children die on my operating table over the years because their parents were too negligent to be concerned about their whereabouts.
"Of course." Charlie said, sounding relieved. "Has Edward talked about this with Bella yet?"
"No, I wanted to get your permission before I suggested it to him." Edward knew already of course. He would know whether I wanted him to or not.
"Right. I suppose this would be okay. I just worry about them sometimes."
"You do?" Bella's father, like most humans, refused to see things he didn't understand, but he was still more perceptive than most. I needed to tread carefully with him.
"Yeah. No offense Dr. Cullen, but Edward is...well, he's pretty serious, isn't he? I mean, he's more mature than the other boys around here, but he's just pretty...intense...sometimes, you know? And Bella too. It's just, different, somehow."
"Chief, has Bella had a serious boyfriend before Edward?"
"Uh, no. I don't think so."
"Well, I know that Edward has never been in a relationship before Bella. Surely you can remember what young first love was like?" I hated to cast the relationship between Edward and Bella into the category of immature infatuation. It was nothing of the sort, for Edward at least. Of that I was certain.
"Just give them time, they'll find a balance. It's one of the reasons why Esme and I thought of this birthday present. We thought maybe Edward and Bella could use some time with each other outside of Forks. See each other in a different setting." A setting which didn't include a hospital bed I mentally added, but I let that thought fall unspoken between us.
"Yeah, you're probably right. Okay, if Bella wants to go she can. How much does a concert ticket cost these days?"
"We'll pay for everything, Chief, don't worry about that. It's Edward's birthday present after all."
"Right, okay, if you're sure," Charlie said grudgingly.
"Very sure. I think having Bella there will be the most important part of this present for Edward."
"Yeah, I suppose so," he admitted.
"Great, I'll call Edward and tell him he has permission to ask Bella."
"Okay, thank you for calling Dr. Cullen."
"Sure Chief, talk to you later."
I put the phone down and sighed. After eight decades of fatherhood I never thought I would have the experience of asking a human permission for my eldest son to take his teenage daughter out on a well-chaperoned date. Edward was making me experience the mundane things of fatherhood at last, just rather belatedly.
I picked up the phone again to tell Edward the good news.
"Charlie gave permission?" Edward said before the phone had a chance to finish its first ring.
I thought I raised him with better manners. "Good afternoon to you too, Edward."
"Sure Carlisle," Edward answered with a laugh. "Alice sees the four of us happily sitting in a box at Benaroya Hall. This will be great, thank you."
"Have you talked to Bella yet?"
"No, but Alice seems certain of her answer. I'm about to go over to Bella's house to talk to her."
"Well then, go ahead and ask Esme to finalize the arrangements. There's apparently still a box available for us."
"I told Charlie that we're doing this for your birthday, so make sure to tell Bella that." Having a human as a part of our charade was complicated, especially since Bella had difficulty telling lies.
"It is actually my birthday, Carlisle. I'm sure Bella will have no problem with acting appropriately excited."
Edward was confident that Bella could be trusted. I would have to trust his confidence.
"Will I see you later tonight?" I asked. My shift did not end until ten o'clock, and I was sure that by that time Edward would be in Bella's bedroom. It was a good thing that Charlie didn't know that we were booking a suite with only two bedrooms in Seattle.
Edward hesitated. "I'll come back to the house for a bit in the early morning."
I sighed. A part of me was glad that Edward had found companionship with Bella, but another part of me was jealous of the time he spent with her now. I missed the time we would spend together in the morning just before daybreak, talking, hunting, running, just being in each other's company. I had a nagging suspicion that I was losing Edward.
"Well, I'll see you then I suppose." I hoped he did not hear resentment in my voice, and was glad we were having this conversation over the phone.
"Yes. Goodbye Carlisle."
I set the phone down and continued to stare at it blankly. Edward was happy now, unbelievably happy. This is what I wanted for him, so why couldn't I be happy? I knew, deep down, why I wasn't happy. Edward's relationship with Bella hung on the edge of a knife. Fortunately, Alice's first vision of Edward with red eyes holding a dead Bella was becoming less and less frequent. But Alice's second vision of Bella as a newborn vampire with her arm around Alice remained constant. Alice could not tell me what decisions led to that outcome, which worried me.
I didn't have any aversion to Bella being a vampire per se. She was good, and I would welcome her into the family with open arms. I only feared if it would be right to take her human life away from her unless it was absolutely necessary. But I wondered more about the fact that Edward did not appear anywhere in Alice's second vision. Bella and Edward were currently inseparable. What calamity would befall which would result in Bella being a vampire and not be with Edward?
I took a deep breath and rose out of my chair. My break was over. All I could do at the moment was pray that I would not be destroyed by tragedy.
A/N: This chapter is relatively short. The rest of the chapters will be at least three times the length.
Some of the details about Carlisle's office come from Midnight Sun, as well as the specifics of Alice's visions. In this story I'm try to stay firmly between Twilight/Midnight Sun and New Moon.
I'll be alternating between Carlisle and Edward's points of view in this story, but I promise that at no point will tell the same sequence from different points of view.