Author's Note - This was something I wrote a while ago. Please read the A/N at the end of the fic. Until then, though - enjoy, Twilighters!
I looked at Charlie, then the ground, then Charlie again – I couldn't decide what to look at. "Jake, whatever it is you wanted to show me can wait," Charlie said suddenly, ending the tennis match between my eyeballs. He turned, preparing to leave me and destroy my careful non-planning. I couldn't let him miss the one chance he had at seeing Bella again – at meeting his own granddaughter.
Steeling myself for what I was going to do, I quickly placed my hand on his shoulder, turning him around to face me. "No, Charlie. Before you go rushing off to the Cullen house, you need to know some things. That includes what I'm going to show you."
He narrowed his eyes, trying to read the hidden meaning behind my words. "What do you mean?"
Hell if I knew. "Look, just . . . hang on, let me figure this out."
I had no idea what to do. All I knew was that both of our futures would be decided on what I did. If I could get Charlie – the biggest obstacle – to accept the differences, the Cullens wouldn't run off in a sparkly cloud of dust.
If I phased in front of Charlie, then he would know I wasn't lying. I was prepared to jump on that plan – bunching my shoulders in anticipation – when I remembered that I was wearing my spare clothes.
This was not one of my better days. Grimacing, I began untying my laces as slowly as possible.
"What are you doing?" Charlie was eyeing me as if I'd lost my sanity. Eh, I wasn't going to deny that.
Ignoring him altogether now – I don't think I could have continued if I'd been too aware of Charlie – I grabbed the fabric of my shirt in both hands and lifted it over my head. Then, as Charlie was growing more wary of my actions, I reached towards the buttons of my jeans and stepped out of them as quickly as I could without tripping myself. Just as I was considering leaving my unmentionables on while I phased, Charlie recovered from his shock.
"Jake – Jacob! I don't want to see anything that involves that!" His eyes were wide in bewilderment. I could understand that – we were alone in the forest and I was stripping . . . after having told him I wanted to show him something. Not the smartest move on my part.
"Sorry, Charlie, but this is the only way you'll believe me."
With that, I bunched my muscles together and let the wolf in me take over. There was a flash of heat and discomfort followed by the almost sickening ripping noise as my smaller human body gave way to the huge canine form. It was second-nature to me now, but still slightly uncomfortable. Like taking your skin and bones and molding them like clay.
When I was fully phased and standing in front of the chalk-white Charlie, Seth and Leah assaulted my thoughts.
Jake, what are you doing? Where are you? Leah's thoughts were tinged with anger and confusion – of course, anger was the more dominant one. Why the hell did you run off?
Lay off for a bit, Leah. I'm in the middle of something. I can't concentrate with your voice in my head. Why don't you go hang with the vamps?
She ignored me – of course. What do you mean you're in the middle of something? What could you possibly be doing that--?
I'm with Charlie. I just wanted her to shut up. I replayed what I'd done in my mind, not feeling like wasting my breath explaining.
Bella is going to kill you. Seth made a noise that was a cross between a laugh and strangulation.
I'll deal with her later. Right now, though, I'm staring down at a gaping Charlie as a giant dog. I'll meet you after I explain things.
Really. She is going to kill you. Then, she is going to bring you back to life to kill you again. And after that, she's going to--
I didn't hear what else Bella was going to do to me. I cut Seth off mid-sentence as I phased back into my human form, snatching my jeans and yanking them on so fast it would put a vampire to shame.
All the while, Charlie just stood there with his mouth hanging open. When I was fully-clothed, I turned to look at him.
"Charlie, you don't live in the world you thought you lived in. The good news is, nothing has changed - except that now you know. Life'll go on the same way it always has. You can go right back to pretending that you don't believe any of this."
I thought about that for a minute as he began breathing again. Would the Cullens still run off if Charlie pretended not to believe anything? I wasn't sure.
Charlie looked like he had finally gathered his thoughts; his face was not as white as it had been a minute ago. I had to say, I was impressed – no fainting? No throwing up in disgust? I smothered the twinge of disappointment I felt – not the time to wish for dramatics.
"Jacob," Charlie began, and then cleared his throat as if he didn't trust his voice. "Jake, what . . . what's really going on with Bella?"
I rubbed the back of my neck, trying to figure out how to explain Bella's newfound vampirism. "She really was sick, but she's okay now. But, Charlie, she's . . . Bella had to change a little bit in the process of getting better."
Charlie looked like he couldn't decide on what emotion to feel. I wasn't Jasper, but I would guess that panic won out. "What do you mean by 'change'?"
"Well . . . let's just say she looks a lot more like Esme now than she looks like Renée." That was one way to put it, I guess.
Charlie was silent for a few minutes, absorbing the information I'd given him and what it entailed. This was going better than I'd planned – at least he was still conscious.
Something registered in Charlie's mind then, because he suddenly asked, real quietly, "Does she turn into an animal, too?"
Maybe a Chihuahua – a very mean, temperamental Chihuahua. I grinned at that lovely image. "She wishes she was that cool!"
Charlie exhaled in what I guessed was relief, but didn't crack a smile. Must take a while to get used to the idea of the supernatural. I decided to help his mind by supplying more wolfy info.
"So, as you might've guessed, I'm a pedigree. Full-blooded, bred to perfection, free of fleas . . . I think. A were —"
"No no no!" He cut me off abruptly – making me bite my tongue – and waved his hands in the air in a panic. "I'd rather not know the specifics."
I nodded, still biting my tongue.
Charlie looked at me then, a strange look on his face. "Did Bella know what she was getting into when she married Edward?"
Wasn't expecting that to crop up. "Sure, she's known all about this for years, since she first came to Forks."
Well that didn't sit well with him.
"You mean to tell me she knew this whole time that you were a . . . and that Edward was whatever the hell he is? And she still married into it?"
I opened my mouth to answer, but he didn't let me.
"This whole time, never once did she tell me! There were times that I knew there was something I wasn't being told - why she let him back into her life after he broke her, why she rushed off to get him back, why you and Billy always seemed to hate Edward as much as I did – and it never made a lick of sense! Now, she's not only stuck in the middle of this mess, she's a part of it! And she's okay with that, isn't she?!"
Once again, I was ready to answer his question – even if it was rhetorical. He had a lot of pent-up anger; if he was a werewolf, he'd have already phased. He was shaking with his fury. I reached out a hand to calm him, but he recoiled as if the hand I held out was carrying a disease he really didn't want to catch.
"Charlie . . . Bells knows what she's gotten into. You don't have to worry about her – especially not now. She's always wanted to tell you the truth, but she wanted you to have a normal life – away from all the craziness."
He took a few deep breaths, steadying his shaking hands. Then, when he seemed calm, he narrowed his eyes at me – like this was all my fault.
"I want only two things, Jacob. I want to see Bella – really see her, not hear stories about the Centre for Disease Control. That's not it, though – this whole situation is one big tangle of fantasy and things that I don't want to know about. So, I want to be told as little as possible about all of this. If it's not absolutely essential for me to know something, then keep it to yourself. Need to know, only.
"Other than that, I'd really just like to pretend things are normal."
I smiled, knowing Bella was going to enjoy that. "Don't worry, Charlie – everything is going to be peachy, you'll see. Hunky-dory. Oh, but there is one other thing you should know before you head over. . . ."
He looked wary, fearing whatever it was I was about to load onto his shoulders.
"Don't worry, nothing supernaturally freaky. It's just that, well, Bella and Edward have inherited a new little mouth to feed." I was so good, it was criminal. I didn't even stop to think of the story before – BAM! I amazed myself with my own brilliance.
Charlie's eyes widened. "They what?"
"Yeah, see, she's Edward's orphaned ward. She's . . ." I almost said her age, but I wasn't sure how old to say she was. Fear gripped my stomach as I thought of Nessie's rapid aging. I shook off the thought quickly, not wanting Charlie to notice. "She's living with them now."
He was curious, passed being shocked at that point. "Is Bella adopting her? Like a daughter? Like I'm sort of a grandfather?"
I grinned at him. "Yes. Congrats, Gramps."
He smiled slightly – the first smile I'd seen on his face in a long time.
"She's special – more special than all of us put together."
He blinked at that, suddenly wary again. The smile dropped from his face as quickly as it'd come. "Special how?"
I shook my head. "Trust me, you don't want to know about this. But if you can ignore all the strange parts, you're going to be amazed. She's the most wonderful person in the whole world."
Charlie looked at me, thinking over my words. I had given him a lot to chew on. And the thing was, I still wasn't done.
"Charlie, if you can deal with that – with all of this – then Bells and the Cullens will stick around for a while and you'll have a chance to get to know Nessie. But if it's too much for you, they'll leave."
"Nessie?" The smile returned as he said the name of his granddaughter, but slipped away as he considered the other things I'd said. "As long as no one forces too much information on me, I'll deal with it."
I grinned, refraining from letting out a very long – and very audible – breath of relief. Still smiling like an idiot, I threw my arm around Charlie's shoulder and ignored the wince he gave at the action. "That's all I ask, Charlie. Now, I know seeing Bella isn't at the top of your list of to-dos or anything, but . . . you should get a move on. I'll go on ahead—"
Wince. Jeeze – the man wasn't even trying to hide it anymore.
Still cringing, Charlie turned and started to head back toward the house. I jogged along with him to make sure he got there alright – and was fit to drive.
When he was seated in the cruiser and prepared to drive off to confront some sparkly vampires and estranged daughters, I leaned in the window a bit.
"For what?" His brow knit in confusion.
I stood up straight, banging my head on the doorframe on my way. "For listening to me and being so okay about this. Well, I wouldn't go as far as to say okay, but you know what I mean."
He merely grunted in response, turning the key in the ignition. As he backed out of the drive, I patted the roof of the cruiser.
"Bye, Gramps!" I called after him as he drove off.
I'd done what I set out to do - and damn, did I feel good about it!
A/N - This is officially my final fic in the Twilight universe. I had announced my permanent departure a while ago, but I felt saying it in this was much more apropos.
I began writing this fic about a year ago and it has remained - and I guess will always sort of remain - unfinished. I won't say why I'm leaving here so as not to anger people unnecessarily, but I will say this: I enjoyed my brief time writing in the category.
I'll see you around, Twilighters. (If you venture into the HP universe . . . )