Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by Stephenie Meyer. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
He Was A Quiet Man
The one thing Charlie Swan regretted the most was that he never got to see his little girl grow up.
His whole life had been filled with disappointments, so part of him – that constant self-demeaning part of him that he despised – told him that it was just another disappointment to add to the mix, and that he shouldn't dwell on it.
The logical Police Chief Swan part of him disagreed, and it was this – only this – that kept him holding on through his doubts and grief: it was not his fault, he sometimes reminded himself. It was not his fault that his ex-wife was too flighty, too needy, to settle down with him and their one-year-old daughter. It was not his fault that it was she who was given custody of his precious baby girl Bella, for that was the way the courts worked.
Children usually, almost always, went with the mother.
It was not his fault that he only saw his daughter a few times a year; it was even less his fault that she had decided she despised his town and everything associated with it. Charlie Swan was a quiet man, and he never let it show just how much her judgement meant to him – how much it hurt him. He was never quite able to understand Bella's loathing for Forks. All he really knew was what it meant: that he would see even less of his daughter.
The years passed, and he saw less and less of her. Sometimes Renee, whenever she remembered that Bella actually had a father, sent pictures. Beautiful pictures of his little girl, at ages five and nine and fourteen. Snippets of her life, single moments captured by the flash of a camera. One was at a birthday party that she didn't bother telling him about. Another was Bella at a park, taken from a distance, being pushed on a swing. She was so young, so innocent – and happy.
He seldom saw Bella happy, when she came to visit him in Forks, and it tore him apart. When she was only nine, she came to visit. He remembered the day as if it were barely a minute ago: she had come through the door, with her beanie on and her scarf wrapped around her neck and mouth. It was November, and frightfully cold, but the house was warm enough. He had struggled in after her with her bags, his face wide with a smile. Months – almost a year – had passed since he'd last seen her, and she'd grown. Her hair was longer, she was a little taller, and her face was a little more angular, having lost all of her remaining baby chubbiness.
But then she'd turned towards him, and the look in her eyes nearly killed him.
She was smiling, but it was so painfully forced that Charlie reckoned she'd look the same way if she was being stabbed. He'd asked her if she was happy to be here, and she nodded, quietly saying, "Yes, Ch- Dad. It's nice to see you again."
He'd stayed awake all that night. Charlie, was what she was going to call him. She didn't call him 'Dad'. And she hated it here.
Charlie Swan was a quiet man, and he didn't make a fuss about it, instead suffering silently. He knew his daughter felt guilt for every little thing, and he knew that if she knew that he knew she didn't like it with him, at Forks, she would get upset, and he didn't want that. So he smiled, and the two spoke only a little at dinner – since neither were very verbose, according to her (he hadn't corrected this; it made him smile) – and he tried to make things more exciting for her, by taking her fishing and letting her play with little Jacob Black.
He made the most of what he had, but the feeling never left him: she didn't want to be around him, and he would never truly be able to watch her grow up. From the tiny baby he once held in his arms, so fragile and so full of life, to this untouchable, silent teenager he hardly knew, Charlie ached with the knowledge that he had missed his chance.
Sometimes he hated Renee for doing that to him. Sometimes he hated Forks, for being the reason Bella stayed away. But most of all, he sometimes hated himself for not being what Bella wanted, even though he didn't know what she wanted him to be. She never spoke to him. Never confided in him. Never told him anything, not even when she actually moved to Forks to live with him – live with him!
He had been so excited that day, but he was a quiet man and had difficulty expressing his emotions, especially if he was around Bella. He didn't want her to get annoyed by his behaviour or upset that she could not or would not reciprocate, so kept it in check and welcomed her patiently, and told her that he bought her a car. She asked "How cheap is cheap?", perhaps a little condescendingly.
"Well, honey, I kind of already bought it for you. As a home-coming gift," he said, peeking sideways hopefully.
He should have known.
Money can't buy love.
Her expression didn't change, and she kept staring glumly out the window at the pouring rain. "You didn't need to do that, Dad. I was going to buy myself a car."
"I don't mind," he said quickly. "I want you to be happy here." But he could no longer look at Bella – not only because he needed to keep his eyes on the road, but also because he didn't want to see that passive, unimpressed face, knowing that if he watched her any longer, I wouldn't be able to cope.
"That's really nice, Dad. Thanks. I really appreciate it."
So forced. So rehearsed.
She hated it there.
He was embarrassed, but not because she had 'thanked' him. Did she know, could she see right through him, how hard he was trying to win her affection and approval? Probably not. Although intelligent his daughter was, observant she was not. "Well, now, you're welcome," he'd mumbled, and the conversation turned to stupid comments on the weather.
Did she know how much she was hurting him?
Did she know how much he yearned to be the father she wanted?
Did she know how much he just wanted her to be happy?
The questions haunted Charlie Swan, but never once did he voice them to Bella, terrified they would upset her.
Charlie Swan was always a self-controlled man, and it was very rarely that he ever consciously disliked someone. Edward Cullen was one of the very, very few – maybe the only one – who fell into the category of hated.
Over a little more than two years, he watched the boy and his daughter become closer, despising the amount of control he had over her, the power he wielded in the obviously unequal relationship. Small moments he watched in conflict – on one hand, he had never seen his daughter so happy. On the other, Cullen treated her like a child, condescendingly, like she was his daughter, not Charlie's.
Jealousy, was what it was. Jealousy that this boy treated her like a child, but could still make her happy in a town she so obviously hated.
And furious that this boy could destroy her so completely when he left, so cruelly, so suddenly.
Four months of catatonic depression, four months of nightmares, four months of absolute misery, and nothing he did could help Bella. She wouldn't let him.
It was then that he knew he had lost her forever – first to her mother, and now to this boy, and he would never, ever get her back.
Hope was lost even more when the boy came back and decided that he loved her and wanted to marry her – and then they were married, his Bella, at the tender age of eighteen on the cusp of nineteen. Then they were gone. Just gone.
She never looked back at the father who wanted nothing more for her than her happiness, and Charlie Swan never said a word about the cut that sliced his heart in two. Never tried to tell her that she was hurting him, slowly killing him with her cynicism and detachment. Never wanted to cause her misery.
He was a quiet man.