Chapter 10: Outtake, Charlie and Alice
"Jazzy?" I called out, through the bathroom door.
"Yeah, baby. What's going on?" he asked as he poked his head in, eyeing me up and down in my towel.
I smirked at him, and grazed by him closely as I left the bathroom. Plopping onto the bed, I sighed.
"I'm worried about Charlie."
He cocked his head to the side, in his I'm figuring out your emotions stance and waited for me to continue.
"It's just...He needs to go to Bella's. Or he needs to let somebody else go there. I know Renee can't handle it, and Phil wouldn't feel right doing it, really nobody would, but somebody has to. I was watching a show last week about when you leave milk out on the counter too long, and it explodes, and…"
"Ali, baby, have you talked to him about it?"
I pouted my lips at him. "I've talked to him plenty, he's practically become a second father to me in a matter of days, but I'm afraid to upset him too much. He always changes the subject, or tells me we'll talk about it later. Something else is upsetting him, but he won't tell me what. And I know how I'd normally handle somebody being stubborn, but Charlie's just…" I sighed, not knowing how to explain him. "He's just…Charlie."
Jasper gave me a small half-smile. "Follow your instincts, baby. You're never wrong."
I smirked back at him. "That's what I like to hear."
"Talk to him tomorrow," he ordered, as he stalked over to me, unwrapped my towel and pushed me back onto the bed.
Okay, Ali, you can do this. You do not fail. You will make this conversation happen. Failure is not an option.
I knocked on his door softly. I heard his muffled voice, gruffly call out to enter, so I opened the door quickly, shutting it behind me.
Tossing his phone onto the bedside table, he sighed. "Hi there, Alice. How are you today?"
Skipping over to him, I sat beside him on the bed. "Oh, I'm good, I guess. I've decided I'm ready for you to tell me what's wrong, and then I was thinking we could go to Bella's together. I don't think she'd appreciate having to come home to a burned down apartment because she left the stove on or something. Or if her milk explodes."
He looked at me tiredly, but confused. "Huh?"
"What? Oh, the milk. I watched this show last week, and…Hey, no fair. Don't try to distract me from my task at hand."
He huffed through his nose, and turned his face towards the window. "So, you're ready for me to tell you what's going on, huh? Alice, I really appreciate how you all have been there for me these last few days, but I'm really not the type to gab about my feelings and what not. There's really nothing to worry about at all."
I patted him on the hand, like I would Lily for saying something silly and endearing. "Well, how about you tell me what's going on, and then I'll decide whether or not to worry about it. And don't think I didn't notice how you didn't answer me about going to Bella's. I'll go for you, if you want, Charlie, but I think you should be there."
He looked at his phone, as it started buzzing again, and his jaw clenched as it rang. Once it was silent again, his shoulders slumped. Success. "Well, Bella's ex won't quit calling me. He's my best friend's son, and I've known him since he was born. He's just a little younger than Bella, and they've known each other their whole lives. But they haven't even spoken in two years, and he didn't care about her then, and I don't want to hear what he's got to say now."
"Why did they break up?" I prodded gently.
"He cheated on her, the bastard. And I can't help but feel that this whole mess is my fault."
Shocked, I didn't even know how to respond. "What are you talking about Charlie? You think it's your fault he was an asshole and cheated on her, or…"
"No! Everything! She should never even have dated him, she never wanted to, but she did it, to make me happy, make Jacob happy. But then he goes and cheats on her, and she lost all her friends, lost her best friend, and she couldn't stand staying in Forks. That's why she came back to Seattle. She lived here while she went to school, but she moved home to take care of me.
"She was always taking care of me, taking care of everyone but herself. I left her to herself all the time, going fishing every weekend, working all the damn time, I wasn't a good father to her…" he trailed off, chin quivering.
Tears filled my eyes as I watched him struggle to maintain his composure. "Charlie, you're not a bad father. You just wanted her to be happy, and you thought he would make her happy. It's not your fault he was a dick. Good riddance, I say. She became a success in spite of him, Charlie. And that doesn't explain how you could possibly think any of this is your fault."
"Because it's my fault she was here! If she'd never dated Jacob, she never would have been living in Seattle! And she never would have been at that store."
Stroking his arm gently, I tried to soothe him. "Charlie, you can't kill yourself with 'what ifs'. There are so many different variables that you have no way of knowing whether she would have moved here or not. She might have ended coming out here to be closer to her publisher. And it's not your fault she dated Jacob. It sounds like he pressured her too, and you never could have foreseen him cheating on her. You had the best intentions, Charlie, and that shows how much you loved her. You were a good father to her, because you wanted for her to be cared for and cherished, but Jacob abused the trust you placed in him. But you're only human, Charlie, you couldn't have known.
"If you don't want to talk to him, I don't blame you. Just keep ignoring his calls, or let me answer, and I'll give him a piece of my mind."
He chuckled a bit, smoothing his mustache down. "Don't know if he'd survive an encounter with you, Miss Alice. You're surprisingly vicious for your size."
I waggled my eyebrows at him. "I know, right? I kick ass. Now let's talk about going to Bella's."
His smile dropped instantly into a scowl. "Like I said. Vicious."
I looked at him seriously. "I know it will be hard, Charlie. That's why I'll be there, and Edward could be there, too. He knows what you're going through, too. We don't have to stay long, just take care of whatever needs to be taken care of," like inspecting her closet "and then we can leave. I'd love to see her place, I feel like we've gotten to know her over the last few days. Plus, she is my favorite author. It would be like, Graceland or something."
He smiled proudly at me. "I never thought my little girl would grow up to be such a success." His smile fell, as he continued. "I'm just afraid to see her place without her in it. Don't know if I can take it. She's all the family I've got."
I held his hand tightly in mine. "You can take it, because you're stronger than you think, Charlie. Seeing her place empty doesn't mean anything other than she's not there right now, but she will be soon. But you're wrong you know."
Furrowing his eyebrows, he asked, "About what?"
Throwing my arms around his neck, I whispered softly, "She's not the only family you've got. You're stuck with us Cullens for life now."
Hugging me back, I heard him whisper, "We'll go tomorrow after Renee leaves."