SLASH BACKSLASH ONE-SHOT CONTEST
Story Name: Road Works - Detour
Pen name: Nanaki-Roren
Disclaimer: All recognisable characters belong to Stephenie Meyer.
Thank you to the wonderful Kuroi Black Nightingale for being my lovingly honest Beta! You rock, man! Couldn't ask for a better editor, truly amazing. 63 Comments in three hours on a second edit? Holy shit, I had some embarrassing typos, so I'm glad she caught all of them. This girl goes the full nine yards. Mwah! I really appreciate it!
To see other entries in the "SLASH BACKSLASH" contest, please visit the C2: http ://www. fanfiction. net/c2/74941/3/0/1/
As a cop, I'd been into the emergency room more than the average person. I was on pretty good terms with a lot of the usual staff, so it was unnerving to see a strange face in a small town hospital. The doctor had an almost ethereal look to him. No, ethereal wasn't the right word… somewhere between that and angelic. A good quality for a person in his profession – he looked like a man you could trust.
He entered the small office and offered me a dry smile, a twinkle of amusement in his eye. "I assume you're Charlie Sawn. Carlisle Cullen, pleased to meet you." Dr. Cullen offered a hand and I shook it briefly with my left – my right holding the bloodied cloth from where I'd been hit just above my eye.
"Pleasure's mine," I offered casually.
His smile widened as he withdrew his hand, and I caught him glancing at my badge, "And I also assume this won't be our last meeting. Now, what seems to be the problem? Head injury?"
I nodded once and carefully lifted the cloth from my head, my mouth twitching as I felt the fabric resist and stick to the dried blood. "Yeah, got a nasty smack from some punk kid. Don't know if it needs stitches, but thought I should come in anyway." I gave a manly shrug of my shoulder, a steady gaze on this man.
He pursed his lips in mild concern, eyeing up the gash. It wasn't bleeding profusely anymore, but that look did make me worry. Dr. Cullen took out one of those light pen things and flashed it in my eyes; for concussion, I guessed. He offered me a smile and put the thing away, "Well, I don't think it's too serious. You might need a stitch or two to seal it up, but I imagine you're used to this kind of thing."
I returned his smile with a gruff one of my own. "You'd be right there, doc. C'mon, stitch me up so I can go home. My daughter's probably worried sick."
He nodded and went to the desk in the room, shuffling about for supplies. "Oh, you have a daughter? How old is she?"
I knew he was just making polite small talk, which I didn't mind much. "Yeah, she goes to Forks High. She's a bright thing." A short pause followed and I felt the conversation lull awkwardly. "Uh… how about you? You got kids, Dr. Cullen?"
"Ah, yes. I have five wonderful children; they're all at Forks High. They just started recently," he responded absently, returning with the bits and pieces to stitch me back up and that. Five? I must have misheard him. That seemed like a hell of a lot of teenagers to have in one household. He laughed at my boggled expression and explained that they were all adopted.
And that was when a light bulb went off in my head.
"Ohhh, yeah…I thought I recognized your name; my Bella talks about the Cullen kids all the time. Uh, but not in a bad way. She's new too, moved here after her mom…" I trailed off, not too comfortable divulging all this to a stranger. "…remarried…"
Thankfully he didn't ask me any further questions, but instead smiled brightly, getting the anesthetic ready and dabbing some over the cut. Man! It stung, but I did my best not to show it.
"Of course! Bella Swan, she's all my son, Edward, talks about at the moment. I'm sorry I didn't make the connection sooner. I thought I recognized your last name. I believe the two of them are biology partners."
I made a face at this, feeling a pang of fatherly protection. A boy? Getting funny ideas about my Bella? I didn't want to badmouth the doctor's kid in front of him, seeing as he had a needle. I bit back the natural aggravation and smiled instead. "Oh, neat. Bella needs some friends right now…"
We chatted comfortably while he stitched up my forehead. I learned that he had a wife, Esme, as well as all those kids. They'd been married a while and had raised all of the kids from when they were small. The guy was such a good talker I hadn't even noticed the stitches. I mean, hell, that was the first time I'd ever been sad to leave the ER. He was a good man, and I was glad that he was doing such great things for the community.
I hadn't really been expecting to bump into him again 'til my next ER visit. I shouldn't have been shocked to see him at the diner at lunchtime; Forks was tiny after all. Though, I was surprised when he seated himself so casually at my table with me – a fresh-faced acquaintance. He gave me his charming smile, placed a salad in front of him and said, "I hope I'm not interrupting. Eating alone seemed so depressing, and I didn't recognize anyone else here – the curse of being new in town, I guess." The doctor's laugh had an infectious peal, and I couldn't help but smile at him.
"Naw, you're not interrupting anything, Dr. Cullen. I was just grabbing a bite. I forgot my lunch, but I'm a lousy cook - I can't even make a good sandwich. You're welcome to join me." I paused thoughtfully and then chuckled, cutting up a piece of my steak. "You think I'd be able to cobble something together by now but… I don't know. Not for me, I guess. Besides, I'm a regular here, it feels like home."
He laughed with me, popping a cherry tomato into his mouth. "First of all, you can call me Carlisle. I'm not on duty at the moment, Mr. Swan. And secondly, I should cook you up a batch of Puttanesca if that's the case. Eating here all the time can't be good for you." He gave me a coy smile, eyes dancing at me.
I grinned back, chewing on a piece of meat. "Hasn't killed me yet, Carlisle. And I get your point, call me Charlie." The guy was just so easy to relate to. I couldn't help but feel relaxed, sitting down to a meal like we were fishing buddies. "But, yeah. I wouldn't say no to a cooked meal," I joked, cutting up some more of my steak. Give a few weeks and the whole town would be head over heels for this guy, especially if he went door to door cooking for all of them. "Anyway, what's a guy like you doing eating here? You seem way too refined for this kind of place."
Carlisle smiled over his bowl of greens at me, chomping down on some cucumber. "Well, I guess I could have eaten at the cafeteria, if you can call cafeteria food 'food'. Besides, this way I got to explore the town a little, find a place to spread new roots, you know."
"Well, hang 'round here much longer and you'll be a regular in no time," I smiled in return, carving up some more steak. "They have the best meals here too. Trust me, I've been 'round a few places in this town. How are you finding Forks, anyway? Settling in all right?"
"Mmm," he hummed through his mouthful, nodding his head. "Yes, Forks is quite charming; everyone's so welcoming. We've really taken a shine to the place, it really is lovely."
"Oh, glad to hear it," I nodded with him, adding more sauce to my steak. "I had nightmares about Bella moving to such a small place, you know how teenagers are. Can't imagine what it must have been like moving five over here."
The doctor laughed at me, chewing on some more of his lunch. "It wasn't so hard, to be honest. They're all great kids. But believe me, I did have some reservations. It's always tough being the new guy in town."
A charitable thought sparked in my head as I chewed my food, one that combined helping out a guy who fixed my head and good food. "Say, seeing as you're new to town you could come watch the game with me and Billy Black. We're going to have a few beers, should be a good time. Why don't you come along? You could bring some of that Puttanesca, and Billy makes a great fish fry."
Carlisle's eyes lit up at the idea, nodding fervently. "Sounds great. I'd love to get to know some of the people around here."
"Well, Billy's an out-of-towner technically. But he's a great guy. The game's on Friday night, so just head 'round whenever, we'll make sure we save you a spot on the couch." I popped the last piece of steak into my mouth.
"Great. Who knows? I might bump into you again between now and then," he grinned, chewing on his final lettuce leaf.
I raised a brow at him, a sloping smile on my lips, "Yeah, hopefully not in the ER again."
The rest of my day seemed to fly by, riding a comfortable high after sharing lunch with the good doctor. My spirits soared even higher when I got home, surprised and glad to smell cooking when I got in that night. My face lit up as I took my coat off at the door. "Bella? I'm home."
"Oh! Hi dad! Dinner's on the table!" She called from the dining room/kitchen area. My girl was already seated. No, my little angel – she had a can of vitamin R already open next to my plate. Just what I needed after a long day at work; a nice cold beer.
"Mmm, smells good, hun." It really did. It had been a while since I'd had a good home cooked meal. I took my seat and began to help myself to spaghetti. "What inspired you to do all this?"
She looked way too innocent as she plated her bolognaise. "Oh, you know. I just wanted to do something nice for you, seeing as how you're the one keeping a roof over my head."
"Is that so…?" I raised a suspicious eyebrow, taking a sip of my beer before I dished out some bolognaise. "Well, how was your day then?"
"Oh! It was really good," she smiled sweetly at me. "I've got a few friends to hang out with at lunch now."
I felt my shoulders relax hearing this, digging gratefully into my dinner. "I'm glad to hear it," I said with half a mouthful. Oh yeah, guess I should clean up my manners. I hadn't lived with a woman in ages. "This is really delicious, Bella. I really appreciate it."
She beamed at me and I couldn't help but feel proud of her. To think, I'd been stressing so much about having a teenager live here. She was a really good kid.
Ah... here it came. I put my fork down and gave her the dad face.
"Yes, Bella?" My tone didn't deter her from her request, unfortunately.
"Some friends of mine are going camping up the La Push way. Is it okay if I go with them? Pleeeease?" She clasped angelic fingers under her chin, looking so earnestly at me.
Ah hell. Would Renee let her go? I rolled my lips side-to-side thoughtfully, taking another sip of my beer. I knew there had to be a reason for all this food. "I don't know… do I know any of 'em?"
"It's Mike Newton, Jessica Stanley, Angela… Tyler and Eric I think?" She paused with baited breath, and I got the feeling there might be a tantrum if I said no… Teenage girls did that kind of thing, right?
I paused, running the names through my head, my mouth a flat line. "Well, I know Newton's a good kid… you'd be safe up there, right? No funny business? Your mom's had the talk with you, right?"
My daughter blushed heavily and I had to feel some victory knowing I'd broken her puppy dog exterior. "Yes dad! She has, and we'll totally be safe. I just want to go up so I can make better friends. Who knows, maybe Jacob might join us."
I bit back a smirk. Like that would sway me, knowing Billy's kid might be there. "Well… I guess you can go. But you have to promise me you'll be safe. And take a cellphone and call me and everything."
"Thanks dad! You're the best." Heck, if she had a tail, she'd sure be wagging it right about now. "So, how was your day?" her voice had a lot more bubbles in it now and I couldn't help but feel satisfied that I was responsible for it.
"Oh, yeah. It was okay, pretty quiet. I had lunch with that doctor Carlisle. You know, the Cullen kids' dad," I spoke before I began working on my dinner again. "He's a good man. I'm glad he's joined the medical force in Forks."
Bella's eyes took up a different kind of intrigue. That kind of tricky, women interest. "Oh, did you now? I'm glad you like him." And now we were back to innocent tones. I watched her tuck a lock of hair behind her ear before shoveling more spaghetti into her mouth. She swallowed and continued. "His son and I are biology partners. He's… pretty nice."
"Yeah… Carlisle told me you were…" That caused my eyebrows to rise. "But, really now? Like, boy crush kind of nice?"
She turned beet red again, turning all of her concentration on her food. "Really? Are we really going to talk boys now, dad?"
Jeeze, and I'd been doing so well up 'til now. Girls are like a minefield. "Well, no. I guess not. You know your mother's much better at this kinda thing than I am. I'm sure Carlisle wouldn't raise a boy that wasn't right in the head. But you never know…"
She gave me a roll of the eyes and hastily finished her plate. "He's a really nice guy, dad. You don't need to worry. I mean, he might not even like me back, so I wouldn't worry." Well, yeah, that was some relief. "Anyway, I'm going to start my… homework, are you going to be okay with the dishes?"
"Sure hun," I smiled at her, waving here away from the table. "Hey, thanks for dinner. That was really nice of you."
She smiled back and picked up her plate. "You're welcome dad. Thank you for the camping trip." And then she headed into the kitchen. Rats, so this dinner thing might turn out to be a transaction of favors. She was a clever one, that girl.
Thankfully, I didn't see Carlisle in the ER the next time we did meet. Strangely enough, it was the next day at the diner again. I didn't jump like last time when he appeared. I'd almost been expecting him to. It was lunchtime on Wednesday and frankly, I wasn't too good at packing my own lunch. Besides, the burgers were really good here.
"Another healthy lunch, I see," the doctor's voice sounded familiar and light. I welcomed it.
"Well, at least now when I come in for my check-up you won't need to hear any lies about my saintly diet." He laughed at that, and it made me smile just a little. I bit down into my juicy burger, running the back of my hand over my mouth quickly to catch any sauce. "And what are you having? Salad?"
He nodded happily and tucked into his rabbit food. "You were right, the… food here is too good to resist." Carlisle gave me a meaningful look with a subtle hunger behind it. He must really like his veggies.
"Mmm, don't I know it," I chuckled, taking another bite of my delicious burger. I had to wipe my mouth again, but apparently I didn't do a good enough job. The doctor gave me a strange look and I furrowed my brow, trying to figure out what was wrong.
He shook his head once and smiled at me, pointing to a spot on his chin. "I think you missed a spot." I tried to wipe it off.
"Ah, no… still there." I tried again.
A chuckle escaped from Carlisle – one I could tell he'd been trying to hold in.
"Still there, here." He grabbed a napkin and leant over the table, carefully wiping the sauce from my face. I felt him linger a moment, brushing his index finger over my freshly cleaned skin to make sure it was all gone.
"All gone…" He breathed, and it was only then I realized how close he was. I felt his words tickle my cheek. It made my skin tingle hot and my breath falter, taking in a gulp of fresh air to fix this weird feeling. That hungry look flashed behind his gaze again, only stronger this time. I couldn't look away, locked into his gorgeous green eyes… What the hell?
"Uh, thanks," I uttered, licking my lips and putting down the dangerous burger for the meantime, breaking the other man's intense gaze.
"You're welcome," the doctor smiled again, un-phased. Well, I guess this wasn't weird for him. Heck he probably saw way worse than ketchup in his day job. I bet he was used to invading personal space.
"So... how's the family?" I took the opportunity to change the subject, hesitantly taking another bite. from my lunch.
Carlisle took a forkful of neat, un-messy salad. "Oh, they're good; still settling in well. They're making friends at school, which is always a good sign." I watched him pop the mouthful past his lips, wishing I hadn't ordered something so sloppy. I also wish I hadn't seen him lick his lips – the way his tongue wet them in a fluid movement. I shook my head, naw, I couldn't help but notice how refined the guy was in his every move, made me kind of self conscious. That was it.
I cleared my throat in an attempt to bring myself back to reality. "Well, that's good. My Bella's settling in well, too. She told me she's making friends with your Edward – guess it makes sense, with them both being new," I offered with a shrug, trying not to sound too protective.
"Oh yes, Bella's name pops up at the dinner table from time to time. Both Edward and Alice seem keen on befriending her. Rosalie seems a bit indifferent, but she's naturally cautious, she'll come round. I think they'd all get along great," the doctor chatted, eyeing up a carrot chunk.
I had to shake my head, chuckling to myself. "How do you do it, Carlisle? Looking after one teen is bad enough… but five?" I liked this strain of conversation, it seemed safe enough.
He laughed with me, popping the cherry tomato into his mouth and swallowing before he spoke. "It's not that bad, really. It's a challenge and a delight."
I couldn't help myself, the question had been bugging me ever since I met the guy. "So… how come you decided to adopt five kids? I mean, I don't wanna' pry. But I don't know, it's a little unusual I guess."
A friendly face met my fretted expression. "I don't mind you asking, it's not like it's a family secret. I guess it started when Esme and I learnt that, well, she's unable to have children. So to cut a long story short, we decided to adopt some good children who we thought were in need of a caring home. I love them as dearly as I'd love my own… they really are amazing."
"Well, I'll be," I murmured, in awe of the saint before me. "You're just too much, Carlisle. Are you really this caring? Or do you have something to hide?" The man was a selfless doctor, raising five kids that weren't his own… and he was just so nice to boot.
That was met with a splutter of laughter, the man having to put his fork down for a minute. "You can check all my closets, Charlie. But I can assure you, you won't find any dead bodies in them." We locked eyes again, and I could feel like Carlisle was trying to tell me something… but for the life of me, I was lost on the meaning. I caught another… Sultry kind of look from the man, but I didn't know what to do with it.
"That's good to know," I smiled roughly, taking the second-to-last bite of burger very carefully. "Can't have some shady guy stitching me up whenever I get a blow to the head."
"Speaking of which," Carlisle sighed, "I should be heading back to work. It's a shame, I was really enjoying our lunch. We'll have to make a habit of it."
I caught a glimpse of his charming smile, which I returned haplessly. Again, though, I got the feeling I was missing part of the hidden message. "I'll say. It's been nice having someone to eat with besides myself. I'm real glad you came to Forks, doc." I wiped my hands thoroughly on my napkin, reaching out to shake his hand goodbye.
He took my hand in his smooth grip, nodding and smiling at me. "Me too. I'll see you around, Mr. Swan." His fingers gripped mine just before we broke the shake, giving my whole system a quick jolt. Then he left me kinda confused at the diner.
Billy seemed happy enough to have another guy over to watch the game, rolling his way into the living room with a pack of Rainier on his lap and fish fry in his hands. He waggled his eyebrows at me when I told him about Carlisle. "Oh! You have a new family in town. Was that the headline in the newspaper? I can't imagine much else is happening."
I had to laugh at that, taking the fish fry from Billy. "I'm surprised it wasn't, to be frank. Here, let me dish this up."
On my way to the kitchen I heard another knock at the door. I made a u-turn, opening it to find Carlisle's smiling face, a dish full of pasta stuff held in his arms. "Thanks again for asking me over, Charlie. I hope I'm not too late."
"Nope, just on time, Carlisle. Billy's in the living room already, why don't you go join him? He's not from here, so you know. Down a little bit, in La Push." I pointed in the direction of the living room and the doctor followed my finger with another 'thanks, Charlie'. I quickly piled the fish fry into a dish and carried that and the pasta stuff Carlisle had made, along with three plates, spoons, forks and stuff.
"Have I missed anything?" I put all my things on the coffee table tossing a quick, 'Oh, and help yourself,' to my guests.
Billy shook his head, gladly putting down his beer so he could pile food onto his plate. "Don't mind if I do. And no, nothing yet."
I rubbed my hands together and took a seat. "Great! Should be a good game."
And, oh boy, was it! I barely remembered what happened – that was how good it was. And then it was over…
"So long Billy!" I called from the door, giving the guy a wave. He waved back as his son helped him into the truck. Such a good kid. I hoped that Bella would find a good guy like that…
"Take care driving back!" I closed the door behind me with a content sigh. It had been a good game, and not too awkward with my new friend. And man, was that food amazing! The guy sure could make a mean vegetarian dish. The house was suddenly quiet without Bella and Billy around, those two sure were loud. I went back into the lounge to find Carlisle gathering up our plates. "Oh, come now. You don't need to do that," I chided, intercepting the rest of the plates.
"I'd feel like a bad guest if I didn't," he grinned, following me into the kitchen. "May I help you clean up?"
"Well, yeah, if you like. Can't promise it'll be entertaining, though," I chuckled, running the hot tap at the kitchen sink until the water warmed. I stuck in the plug along with some dishwashing soap and then let the water rise. "Good game, huh?"
"Oh! Yes, very entertaining. Thank you for letting me tag along, I thoroughly enjoyed it." Cullen placed his dishes in the soapy water, his damn fingers finding a tea towel. "I'll dry and you wash?"
I laughed, finding his overly-polite nature amusing, yet admirable. "Well, sure. I wouldn't say no to a helping hand. Hell, maybe Bella could learn a thing from you… you know how teens are with chores." I grabbed a sponge and plunged my hands into the soapy suds, grasping a plate with one hand. I had to wonder why Carlisle was hanging around, maybe he just wanted a strong friend in town – couldn't blame him. It was a little flattering that he'd choose me as the guy to hang out with, which made me feel bad about letting silence hang between us.
I handed him a plate to dry, "So, I hear Edward and Bella are hitting it off, that's good. Nice to see she's fitting in and that. I was worried Forks might be too small for her, but she seems happy…"
He must have caught the tension in my voice when I said 'hitting it off', because he gave me a reassuring look. "Don't worry, Charlie. Edward's a good, honorable boy. He wouldn't do anything to hurt Bella."
I gave a snort of laughter, scrubbing a little harder at the dirt on the plate. "It's not the hurting I'm worried about." My mouth fell into a smug smile before I gave Carlisle a forgiving look. "I don't know… sometimes I don't think I'm cut out for this dad stuff. Heck, I haven't been a proper dad in a long time. And back in the day, I wasn't doing it by myself. I don't get teenage girls."
Carlisle took the plate I handed him hesitantly, the conversation lulling again before he tentatively asked, "So, why are you doing it by yourself, then?" He didn't need to say anymore, I knew exactly what he was getting at. It felt weird doing all this talking about feelings; I was a little reluctant to say the least.
"Well, I don't know. Forks is a pretty small town as it is. A small barrel with a couple of sardines, really. Heck, I guess I just haven't found the right person. Don't get me wrong, I like my quiet. And you've met Billy, he's more than enough noise for me." I cracked a fond grin, picking up Carlisle's Puttanesca dish before dunking it in the sink to give it a good clean.
The doctor paused for a moment, and I could feel thoughtful eyes on me. It just made me clean harder. "What you just said, I find it very admirable. I wish I was as content with myself as you are."
"Aw, shucks, Carlisle. You don't need to get so sappy." I hoped I wasn't blushing; I hadn't blushed in a long time. Though it did make me smile a little. I handed him the bowl absently, grabbing the last of the plates in the murky water with my free hand. My cheeks did feel a little red. Quickly, I handed him a clean dish.
I was caught off-guard when his dry fingers brushed against mine as he took the plate. It felt purposeful. The kind of touch that leaves your skin tingling. My breath caught in my throat as my eyes darted up to meet an uncertain… yet emotional expression on the doctor's face. But hell, surely I had just been mistaken. I hastily returned to my suds, scrubbing away at another plate trying to forget the face he had just made, but then I felt Carlisle step closer to me and I couldn't help but look up. He was an inch away from me now. I could feel his presence press against me, invading my personal space. Heck, this was starting to feel way too intimate. I started to panic inside, absently aware of Carlisle taking the plate from my hand again. My breath hitched in my throat, and I could have sworn that butterflies had just invaded my damn stomach.
"Are you alright there, Charlie?" He smiled at me, placing a cool hand to my forehead. "You look a bit flushed." His words and his comforting gesture snapped me out of whatever was going on in my dang head.
"U-uh, yeah I'm fine," I mumbled, picking up another plate. "Don't worry, doc. Off duty, remember?" I smiled and tried not to look too gruff. The guy had grounded me back to reality, my heart calm slowing to its normal pace. Hell, maybe I was coming down with something. The last few minutes hadn't seemed real.
I felt a weak relief when he finally removed his hand and went back to drying his dish. Gee, did the doctor have this effect on everyone? He seemed like the charismatic type. My train of thought was broken then and there when he spoke up.
"That's true," he commented lightly, placing the plate on top of the other dried ones. Everything felt normal again. Like a big weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Strange. "What kind of doctor would I be if I didn't charge you for house calls," he teased, and I laughed in response, draining the water from the sink and rinsing my hands.
"A poor one," I chuckled, taking the tea towel from him so I could dry my hands. The sun was starting to set now, so it was still real warm, but granted, it was going to get cold soon. I got the same cozy feeling when I was around Carlisle. That kind of presence was the foundation of a good doc, y'know, the kind of person you could trust with your life.
"Y'know, you should definitely come 'round to more games. I think you fit in quite handsomely, especially if you bring food like that. Would you like to stick around a bit more? Have another beer?"
He looked torn for a moment, furrowing tortured eyebrows. "It sounds really tempting, Charlie…" I let the man mull it over, hoping he'd stay for a bit longer despite my weird feelings. It was going to be a quiet night otherwise. Funny, how I'd already grown so used to having Bella around. Or maybe I'd just forgotten what regular good company was like. He must have seen the hopeful look on my face, because I saw his conscience buckle with a smile. "Yeah, why not. I'll ring Esme and tell her I'll be back late."
I tried not to look too ecstatic, "Great, take a seat wherever you like, I'll get us some more to drink. Rainier's what I have if that's fine with you."
"Perfect," Carlisle gave me a look over his shoulder as he made his way back into the lounge.
I nipped into the kitchen and grabbed a couple of Rainier's, taking a seat next to him. The TV hummed quietly with some highlights of the match. I cracked open two cans and handed one to Carlisle who offered me a polite, 'thank you' in return. We sat for a moment in silence and just watched the sport, but it didn't feel awkward at all. I took a swig from my can, tossing a casual look at the man. "So, did Edward end up going on the camping trip?"
"Ah, I think he did. Alice begged to go too, so I sent her along with him. Don't worry, Bella's going to be just fine," he assured me in gentle tones.
"Thanks Carlisle," I uttered offhandedly, and then sighed faintly. "Am I being too strict a dad? I get so… I dunno', irritated when she brings up boys. But she's old enough to make her own choices, right? I just don't want to do wrong by her."
Carlisle gave me another reassuring look and I felt him ease a little closer to me. "Charlie, I have two teenage girls of my own. I know just what you're going through; I think the key is in trusting that they know what they're doing. Though, having said that, I do worry about Rosalie sometimes. She's just so determined to do her own thing. I'm just glad Emmett's around to keep an eye on her."
"Mmm, I guess that's where I wish Bella had someone who wasn't me to take care of her. I'm dad, you know? I'm not cool," I looked back at the screen, smirking at myself. Vaguely aware of the way Carlisle's shoulder rested against mine.
"Well, you are a cop. So at the very least Bella can threaten people with your status," he pointed out jokingly. "Being a doctor I just patch up the guy who comes bugs my daughters after I beat him up."
"Gee, I hadn't thought of it like that before… I guess you have a point, Carlisle. I'll have to tell her to use that one more often. Y'know, haven't had a dad-to-dad talk like this, well, ever. And you're a great person to talk to," I nodded at him before taking another swig of Vitamin R. "I guess that's why you make such a good doctor."
Carlisle arched an amused brow at me, while still managing to look flattered. "I could say the same about you, Charlie. It's important to be personable as a police officer, right?"
"Not if you're giving some punk what for," I grinned, taking another drink. I earned a chuckle from him, which made me smile all the more. The ripples of mirth made his shoulder rub up and down against mine. I took another swig.
"True. Did you ever catch the guy that hit you that one time?" He enquired, making casual small talk.
I leant back further into the sofa, letting out a grunt of, "Oh, yeah," as I got super comfy. "My partner got the guy. But he didn't go down without a fight, obviously. My stitches are healing fine though, thanks Carlisle. You're pretty damn good with your hands."
Carlisle leant a little closer to get a better look at my forehead. He shifted the can of Rainier into his left hand, lifting his right to run the tips of his fingers slowly over the white material that covered my wound. "Oh, you're right. That's good, I'm glad my handy work could come in, well, handy," he murmured pleasantly. I felt his fingers linger a moment longer, and I got the same feeling I had back in the kitchen. I wasn't sure what to do with it, merely sitting stunned while he ran his eyes over my forehead.
"It doesn't hurt, does it?" He queried earnestly, inching closer – a little too close maybe. I could swear I felt his warm breath tickle the edges of my injury. That same tingle ran over my skin, it made me want to shiver… in a good way.
I realized I hadn't responded to the question, looking into his questioning eyes. "Ah-h, no sir. It feels fine," I breathed, wetting my own dry lips as I accidentally took in a lungful of his smell. Soothing and masculine.
He looked content enough at that response, sitting back in his seat. I let out a quiet sigh of relief, sinking deeper into the sofa and comforting myself with some more beer. I didn't know what was going wrong with my head. Maybe that punk kid had done more damage than I thought – but Carlisle had said I didn't have a concussion. I kept getting flustered today though… I shook my head, bringing the can to my lips again. A beer would fix it, I was sure.
"So…" he started, "why did Bella move here again? If you don't mind me asking, that is. I think Edward told me she moved all the way from Arizona. That's quite a shift."
"Naw, I don't mind." But really, I did a little. Then again, he'd told me about his situation, so I might was well divulge mine. "My ex-wife remarried and the guy travels a lot, so we figured it would be best if Bella finished the rest of her schooling in one place instead of moving 'round all the time."
I could tell from his body language Carlisle thought he'd just pried too much into my life. But it felt kinda good to talk it out proper.
"Oh, I'm sorry. I think I remember you telling me when I patched you up, come to think of it. It must be quite tough on you." The look of concern he gave me was somewhat sweet and reassuring, an expression I rarely received. Well, wasn't like I could talk feelings at work. For one, I was a man. And two, it was work. Feelings weren't for at work… at least not sappy ones like this.
"Ah, well. You know, we've been divorced a while. But yeah, I guess it was a bit of a shock. Didn't really affect the day-to-day, though. Well, apart from the fact I've got another head under the roof to look after. I like having Bella around, though. I don't understand her all the time; I guess I'd just forgotten what good company was like," I explained as best I could.
Carlisle gave several sage nods at my words. I was surprised I could be so earnest at the moment – maybe it was just the beer talking. At either rate, it was taking a lot of weight off my chest. I could feel his sympathetic gaze on me, and then a friendly hand on my shoulder.
"Like I said before, I wish I could be as comfortable as you are in your own skin, Charlie." I watched him finish his Rainier and set the can down. Man the guy could drink, yet another surprising thing about him.
"Can I get you another?" I asked, already cracking another can open. He smiled and took it from my grasp, his damn fingers brushing against mine again.
"Thanks, it's really nice to have a beer with another guy. Red wine flows at my place usually. I'd forgotten how good it feels to just relax with a friend while watching sport, drinking beer." He raised his can to me in a mock toast before taking a swig. "Makes you feel like a man," he grinned, sinking back into the couch.
We talked like this for hours. I hadn't had such a good talk in a long while; he made me get a whole heap of stuff off my mind. Stuff I hadn't even been aware of, which was nice. He made me talk about my divorce and he told me how he wishes he could have kids – but of course wouldn't trade the five adoptees for anything. It got pretty deep, which was unnerving and enjoyable at the same time. I vaguely remembered looking at my watch at about 3 in the morning, which gave me a fright. Jeeze, I wasn't young anymore. Good thing I didn't have work tomorrow. "Oh man, it's getting late…" I couldn't hide the disappointment in my tone.
Carlisle yawned and nodded his head once. "Mmm… so tired. Come to think of it, I probably shouldn't drive like this… looks like I'll have to walk home," he smiled half-heartedly, slowly dragging himself to his feet.
"Aw, come now. You can crash here if you like. Hell, I'll even give you my bed. I'll take Bella's bed. The kids won't be back 'til Sunday," I said and stood beside him, feeling aches in my butt from sitting for way too long. I arched my back and felt something click into place. And man, did it feel good.
"Are you sure?" I could hear the feigned politeness, already nodding my reply at him.
"Sure thing, I wouldn't offer if I didn't mean it," I smiled at him reassuringly, motioning to the flight of stairs. "I'll show you where it is." I led him up there, opening the door into my relatively clean room. Felt a bit weird showing a grown gentleman where I slept… reminded me of when I was a kid, taking my friends up to my room to play. I had a navy duvet cover tucked into plain white sheets. A few shirts were strewn around the laundry basket, and my uniform was hung on a coat hanger on my closet door. Couldn't really see much else in the dark… I turned on the bedside lamp. "So, uh, yeah. Make yourself at home. There's a bathroom down the hall if you need it. And Bella's room is down the hall too… should be easy enough to find if you need me. Think you'll be okay?"
The doctor took a tentative step into my space, giving me a thankful look, "This is perfect. Thank you Charlie. A bed has never looked so inviting." Hah, what a gentleman.
I gave him a casual grin, standing in the doorway with a hand on the knob, "No need to thank me, Carlisle. Just doing right by a friend. I guess I'll see you in the morning. Have a good night."
Then I remembered closing the door, finding Bella's bed and I was out like a light. Carlisle managed to find his way into my dreams, though. The man had been a recurring theme in the past week, so I guess I wasn't that surprised… they were good dreams that felt as warm and fuzzy as all our past interactions had been. Well, apart from the meeting in the ER room… His voice had been so soft in my head, calming. I hadn't felt this safe and relaxed since Renee had been around. It wasn't something I wanted to admit openly, because it sounded a bit weird even in my own head. Still, I couldn't deny the grounding effect the guy had on me.
I expected him to leave whenever he got up and go back to his family. What I didn't expect was the tantalizing smell of bacon to wake me up. Had Bella come home early or something? I blinked my bleary eyes and looked at my watch. 10:36, not so bad considering. I had to really try to drag my ass out of bed. It took me a moment to figure out where I was, shocked by all of the girly paraphernalia in my room. Er, in Bella's room… Jeeze, I hadn't even undressed. I managed to get up, curiously wandering down the stairs to the kitchen, the smell of bacon wafting closer with every step.
"Bella?" I asked cautiously, my voice a little sleep-cracked, winding my way to the kitchen. And boy was I mistaken.
"Not quite, Charlie. You might want to guess again."
And sure enough, Carlisle was there at my stove cooking breakfast. Huh, I thought he didn't eat meat… "I hope you don't mind. I wanted to do something to pay you back for the hospitality. I saw all this stuff in the fridge and, well, the rest is obvious I guess."
I wasn't quite sure what to say to that, my jaw slack as I took in the wonderful sight of breakfast. "Wow, that's sure… kind of you, Carlisle. You didn't need to do all this. Heck, I'm surprised you managed to find everything." Hah, felt almost like having a wife again…
"Mmm, it was easy," he hummed, giving some scrambled eggs a stir before tending to the bacon. I quietly joined his side, popping some toast in the toaster. That much I could do at least, and put some plates on the table along with the appropriate cutlery.
"Did you sleep well last night, Carlisle?" I inquired in my gruff tone, helping him take in the bowl of scrambled eggs and toast and all that. I missed his reply, but it sounded positive.
He sat down opposite me, looking a little disheveled. Then again, I probably looked the same. I could really go for a shower… I resisted the urge to check my underarms, instead taking a piece of bacon and a piece of toast and loading up some scrambled eggs next to it.
"Smells good," I noted, trying an experimental forkful of egg. I chewed thoughtfully before swallowing, showing my appreciation with a smile, "Mmm, tastes good too. You've gotta' teach me how to cook like this sometime, Carlisle. It'd save me a ton at the diner."
He seemed to relax after he witnessed my approval, digging into his own eggs on toast, minus the bacon. Great, all the more for me then. Boy, this sure was good… "What did you put in the eggs, anyway?"
"Oh, just a bit of salt, pepper and some garlic. Not too shabby, huh?" I couldn't get over how much this felt like a family breakfast. Well, despite the fact that my Bella wasn't here. She was probably shivering up at La Push over a camp stove right about now, poor thing.
"It's might tasty." I showed this by having another forkful. I felt bad about it, but I couldn't help the way I scoffed up that meal like a man that hadn't seen food in weeks. I guess I just wasn't used to good food on a regular basis. I put down my knife and fork when I was done, giving my chest a whack so I could let out a burp.
"Pardon," I sighed contently, sitting back in my chair. "Thanks, Carlisle. I haven't eaten a good breakfast like that in a while."
He chuckled, looking genuinely pleased with my satisfaction. "You're more than welcome. I'm just glad you enjoyed it. No one's shown me that much appreciation for my cooking in, well, ever… I think."
Ah heck, had he been watching me the whole time? I smiled sheepishly, giving my mouth a quick wipe with the back of my hand. "Well, it was mighty fantastic, I really appreciated it." I then felt bad about hogging Carlisle all to myself. It had to be getting close to lunch time, and I knew he had to get home and do dad stuff, probably. I knew I should do the right thing and usher him out the door pronto.
"Here, can I take your plate and that?" I offered, picking up his plate along with mine before he could be polite and say no. I managed to balance another dish on my arm, hastening to the kitchen before I could drop anything.
"I hope you weren't thinking about doing all the cleaning yourself, Charlie. Let me help," I heard from behind me, along with the clink of the remaining dishes.
His kind nature made me smile. I turned the tap and watched the sink fill with soapy water. "Dang it, Carlisle. Are you always this polite?"
"Haha, only to people I'm trying to make friends with," he retorted, placing his dishes in the sink along with the ones I'd already put in there.
"Heck, I consider you my friend already, you don't need to go out of your way," I scolded, turning off the tap and starting to scrub at the dirty plates.
I saw him grab a tea towel from the corner of my eye, taking his place next to me. Just like last night. "Please, it's not taking me out of my way at all. I'm enjoying your company." He took the plate I handed him, giving it a thorough wipe.
"Huh, I wish my daughter had the same feelings about cleaning up as you do, Carlisle," I joked as I picked up the next plate, giving it a quick scrub down. I handed it over to Carlisle with one hand. And that was when things took a turn.
Familiar fingers found mine as I passed him the plate, just like the day before. But this time it was more than a casual brush. I felt a gentle pressure squeeze the side of my hand that made my heart stop. I shot him an alarmed look, but it was met with soft, determined eyes. Just like before, I felt him inch closer, his fingers gently slipping up the back of my hand, almost grasping it.
I started to speak his name, but nothing came out, numb and shocked and absolutely convinced that what was happening was a dream. I felt him gingerly hover over me and I took in the same soothing, masculine scent I had come to know. I felt his mouth catch my own agape one, holding us together for a sweet moment before he gently grasped my bottom lip with his. I felt a graze of teeth, but nothing aggressive. God, he was so soft. I could faintly taste the coffee from breakfast, though it became more prominent when his mouth found my lips again with more confidence, a soft, sultry pressure daring me to kiss him back. I gulped quietly, my insides startling when I felt the subtle brush of a tongue against my bottom lip. I think I started returning the cautious lip lock. As I did the grip on my hand became firmer, more intense. Then I felt myself tense, my mind bringing itself back to reality. Heck, I'd never felt so exhilarated. My breath came ragged as I pulled back, breaking us apart… but not so far away. My heart was pumping a mile a minute, and somewhere in my mind I knew I wanted more. It made me feel uncomfortable for the most part, but I couldn't deny what I felt. Definitely scary.
"Carlisle," I uttered hoarsely, licking my lips quickly, giving the man an awkward glance. "What…"
I trailed off, my words muted by the crestfallen expression on the doctor's face. Shame or embarrassment or both, I couldn't quite tell.
"I'm… not sure…" Was all he managed to mumble, his hold on my hand loosening. "I'm not sure what... came over me. Uh, sorry…"
Many things suddenly came rushing back to me. "But, your Esme…" I started, "And, Edward and Bella. Hell, Carlisle! I don't know what came over you either," I chided gruffly – but not angrily. I wasn't quite sure what I felt at this moment. One part of my brain told me I wanted to kiss him again, but as far as I knew I wasn't… into men. I was just so confused. "I know he's not your biological son but… still, hell. I don't know…"
I knew I didn't have to rabbit on at the poor guy, his face told me he'd already had the same thoughts. That…one part of me also knew that one part of him wanted to carry on what we had started, if that made sense. I studied his face for a moment, my breath hitching as I recalled how his mouth had felt against mine. Not… feminine soft. It had a rougher edge to it, I think. Hadn't kissed anyone in a while, so I was going off of a foggy memory. My gaze darted down to Carlisle's parted lips, and I felt a twang of… of something in my stomach. I could sense a similar gaze watching me.
I couldn't help the way my chin tilted, leaning into Carlisle again. Before I could stop myself I felt my nose brush against the side of his long, peaky one. I caught his warm breath against my lips - but only for a split second before our mouths met again. I felt that confidence again, but it still tasted soft and artful. I didn't want to move, or think about what the hell was happening, or what people would think. My eyes had closed already, unknowingly; perhaps to shield myself from all these facts, stuck in my own little world inside my head. My half dried hand gingerly found his side, rough fingers grasping at the fine material of his work shirt. It wasn't exactly a tender moment; it had an underlying lethal lust that burnt me. Carlisle possessed a certain weight… not forceful, but more… assertive care. His tongue grazed tantalizingly over my bottom lip again, drawing out a bare moan from me. A knee brushed against my inner thigh, my lower back now pinned against the counter. My mouth frantically moved in tandem with his, pulling him closer until he was pressed again me. Our mouths parted for air, the two of us gasping in each other's ragged breath. I wish he hadn't, it gave me a moment to think.
"Carlisle," I managed to utter against his lips. The tone was flat, and hopefully conveyed what we both knew. This couldn't happen. I couldn't even begin to fathom what had transpired, and heck, I didn't want to!
I felt him sigh and it tickled my cheek as he drew back a fraction more. I didn't want him to, but he did. My heart was still pounding in my chest and I didn't have control of my lungs just yet. Jeez, I hadn't felt this way in a while… it was just too bad that it happened under these circumstances.
I pursed my lips at the man who gave me such a forlorn look. "You know you're married with kids. Why are you doing this? Don't you love Esme?"
He cleared his throat, casting a sideways glance at the dishes before he responded. "Of course I love her. I love my family." I watched as he ran his tongue over his teeth, trying to pick his words carefully. "I don't know Charlie, you're just so… unique. I couldn't help it."
"I'm sure you couldn't," I retorted in mild sarcasm.
"I mean it." Carlisle gave me a sincere look. "I just… it felt so right." And I knew exactly what he meant. Hell, I wasn't… fond of men or anything. But Carlisle was unique… and it felt right. But even if all that was true, there was still one fact I couldn't get over. I had my morals straight, dangit.
I took a slow breath, giving him a firm but earnest look. "You're married. And you have kids that you need to set an example for."
For the first time I'd known the doctor, he looked agitated, unable to meet my eyes just now. "I know! But… don't I deserve this one thing? I've given so much. I've sacrificed the chance to have my own children for Esme. I love my kids, but as other people, not as my own true family. I'll never have that experience."
"Yeah, well you ain't gonna find that with me, that's for sure," I snipped. He gave me another crestfallen look in return, so I placed a comforting arm on his shoulder. "Now, that may be true. But think about how hurt she'd be if she found out about this."
I observed him take my words in, nodding his head slowly. "I… I know," he muttered, defeated. I'd never seen this side of him, but I guess no one could be perfect like that all the time. "And I feel terrible. But Charlie-"
"Now listen," I cut him off. "I ain't gonna' here any more of this. You and I both know this is going nowhere." As much as I may want to keep it going. It was hard to say this stuff, but I knew it had to be this way.
The doctor held his peace for a heartbreaking moment before he gave me a broken smile. "Maybe some other time, then. When it can go forward."
"Maybe," I repeated, more to comfort him than anything. "Now here, let me finish up the dishes. You should get back to your wife and kids. I bet they're wondering where their dad is."
"Yeah… you're right. I should head back. Thank you, Charlie. I had a wonderful weekend." I could tell he'd already started to gather himself, exuding that confidence that he always had.
"Heck, you're welcome, Carlisle. You're welcome to come 'round any time." Hell, I still wanted to be friends with the guy. The best doctor at the hospital – now that was a guy you didn't want to be enemies with. We bid our farewells to each other at the door. And then I didn't see him again for a good while.
Wasn't 'til I was back in the hospital, to be precise. Maybe a few weeks later. Nothing too bad, I think it was that punk's friends this time. Hit me in the back of the head when I was getting into my car. All I knew was the back of my head felt wet – not sure how much blood exactly. The nurse sat me on the examination bed, a cloth pressed to my cut. I did wonder if Carlisle would be the one to patch me up again. And I guess it was just meant to be, because I saw his smiling face enter the room.
"Well, well, Chief Swan. I hoped I wouldn't see you under these circumstances again." He acted like that whole weekend had never happened, crouching down a little to get a better look at my head. "What seems to be the trouble this time?"
"Ah, damn punks again. Got me in the back of the head when I wasn't looking. Hurts a bit, but I don't know how deep." Surprisingly, I felt comfortable having him lean over me, shifting my hand to lift the cloth so he could get a better look. It still felt right.
"Hmm… doesn't look too bad…" He told me absently. "We'll just give it a clean. Hopefully you won't need stitches, it doesn't look that deep." I felt a cool pressure to the back of my head coupled with a sting as he cleaned me up. I gritted my teeth, trying not to look like it hurt.
I wasn't quite sure what to say while he took care of my injury. All I knew was it felt nice to be close to him again. I meant it when I said he should come round again. Hopefully, he just needed time to recover from the last weekend before he did.
"Say… there's another game on this weekend. You should come watch it with me and Billy," I spoke to my chest while I bent my head down, letting Carlisle finish cleaning me up.
"Oh, really? I'd love to. I'll bring another dish over for you guys to try," he smiled pleasantly, washing his hands in the sink before turning to face me.
I returned his smile with a relieved grin of my own. "Great. Just head 'round whenever on Saturday. It's a date."
Yeah, maybe we could make this work after all.
Hey y'all! Hope you enjoyed my first fic after my long break! Make sure to keep an eye out for the Edward/Jasper collab I'm doing with the fucking amazing Kuroi Black Nightingale (under our combined penname Nanaki Nightingale). It's going to be epic.