A/N If you have read my other stories this is not my usual fluffy type story. I will be dealing with some difficult topics so be forewarned. I am going to hit you with some tough stuff right off the bat. I hope you can stick with me and see where I will take you and that you won't be disappointed. I do promise to bring you the whole cast of characters, eventually, and in their canon pairings.
Disclaimer: All things Twilight related belong to Stephenie Meyer. This story belongs to Obsessedmom © 2010. Please don't steal my stuff.
Only one more day of school and spring break starts. Hallelujah!
Sleeping in, no homework except for that stupid report for English Lit. It's nearly done so it shouldn't take much time away from the lazy days I have planned. It is my junior year of high school and I was already counting the months to graduation.
I was already exploring different universities. I had mixed emotions about where to go. I knew if I went to UW I would still see many familiar faces. On the other hand I wanted new experiences in new places and there was an allure to moving somewhere far away and maybe warm and dry. The hardest part of the second option was being far away from Charlie. He is both my dad and my best friend. It has always been just the two of us and I can't imagine leaving him all alone. We depend on each other so much. I was confident that I could make it on my own but I wasn't so sure about him.
The crunch of tires on the gravel driveway broke me from my musings, Charlie must be home. It's kinda early. I hadn't expected to see him before I left for school.
I heard the car door slam as I grab my backpack and head downstairs.
I was surprised to hear a second door slam shut. I wonder why he'd brought someone to the house.
As I reached the bottom step I hear a knock at the door. Did Charlie lose his keys? Wasn't there a spare tucked up in the eaves?
"Coming," I hollered.
I dropped my pack on the couch as I passed it.
"Hang on, I'm coming," I said loudly. "Did you lose your…" my voice trailed off. It wasn't Charlie in front of me. Officer Jones and Officer Martin faced me somberly.
"NO… nonononono… no!" I screamed before crumpling in a heap at their feet.
I was vaguely aware of Jonesy picking me up and carrying me to the couch. He cradled me in his lap like he did when I was a little kid. I don't know how long he rocked me until my sobs turned into hiccupped gulps. He rubbed my back soothingly and it helped in the smallest measure. These men loved my dad almost as much as I did.
I crawled off Jonesy's lap and huddled in the corner of the couch, wrapping myself in an old quilt.
My eyes darted back and forth between Jonesy and Chuck. Charlie's officers were like extra dads to me. I had spent many days as a child playing at the station while Charlie worked. It had always been just Charlie and me for as long as I could remember.
"What happened?" I finally stammered out.
"Charlie responded to a silent alarm at Newton's about two this morning," Chuck Martin began. "Two drunken hunters were ransacking the store when he arrived. Everything went to hell in a hand basket Belly." Tears were streaming down his face. He had dropped to his knees in front of me and clutched my hands in his.
"By the time the back-up he had called for arrived," Jonesy choked out, "it was too late. I am so sorry sweetie."
"Can I see him?" I sniffed out. "I need to see him."
Jonesy steadied me as I shakily got to my feet. I felt like I was slogging through deep mud as I dragged myself forward. I was numb from the shock, unable to process any thoughts.
When we arrived at the hospital I think every police car from Forks was there along with several from the Clallum and Jefferson County Sheriff's.
Chuck helped me out of the cruiser. He and Jonesy walk on either side of me through the Emergency Room doors.
A hush rolled over the crowd of people when we walk in. All eyes are on me. Their pity and sorrow are evident in their faces as they stepped aside to let us pass.
Chuck and Jonesy led me through the crowd past the reception desk and the nurse's station.
We walked up to a doctor standing apart from everyone else. He seems to be in charge here.
"Hello, I'm Dr. Sartor. You must be Chief Swan's daughter Bella. Is that right?"
I can only nod my head.
"Are you sure you want to do this?"
Chuck or Jonesy must have called ahead to tell them what I wanted. I could only nod my head. I was afraid that if I tried to open my mouth to speak I would start sobbing again. I didn't want to do that in front of these strangers.
"Okay then. Follow me please."
We walked down a quiet corridor until he stopped outside a closed door, "Ready?"
No, I would never be ready, but I just had to see for myself. Reasonably I knew that Charlie had a dangerous job but irrationally thought that living in a small town exempted us from the harsher realities. I could only nod my head again as he pushed the door open.
"Belly… do you want us with you?"
I shook my head. I needed a private moment alone, or at least as private as I could get.
I heard the door swish closed and finally looked up from the floor. Laying serenely on the hospital gurney was Charlie. A sheet covered him up to his broad shoulders. His face was so quiet and relaxed. All the worry lines seemed softened some how. I stepped closer and reached out a tentative finger to brush back a strand of hair at his temple. I stroked a finger across his mustache thinking that I never would feel it prickle against my cheek again. I would never again feel the quiet rumble of his laughter as we joked around. I couldn't hold back the tears any longer and collapsed against his lifeless chest.
I lost all track of time and space, of who I was and where I was.
"Belly baby, wake up please."
"What happened?" I looked around and saw I was in a waiting room with just Jonesy, Chuck, and Dr. Sartor.
"You fainted. You've only been out for a couple of minutes."
"We're gonna take you home now. You need to rest and try to eat something."
I could only nod my head and let them help me to my feet.
Not remembering the drive home at all I awoke in my bed aware that there were people in my house. The reality of what had happened came crashing back over me. I had no more tears in me and I picked up the first thing I could reached and threw it across the room where it shattered against the wall and knocking a picture off the wall in the process. How could he have done this to me? How could he leave me alone? I needed my dad, he was everything to me.
I heard the thump of feet running up the stairs and then quieter steps, a soft knock at the door before it slowly opened and Jake came into my room closing the door behind him.
"What was that noise?"
I could only point at what was now a broken ipod doc station in pieces on the floor and the broken glass and frame of the wolf picture that had always been on my wall. "I threw it," was all I could say.
Jake came and sat on the edge of my bed beside me. I scooted over and he wrapped me up in his arms. Jake has been my best friend since the day our dads put us into a playpen together.
"Do you know what's gonna happen now?" I asked him.
"Well I have been listening to all the talking going on downstairs and…"
"Who's down there?" I interrupted.
"Chuck and Jonesy, my dad, a few of your neighbors, there had been some kids from your school but they headed home not too long ago."
"Any idea what I should expect?"
"I heard someone say that your mom should be here tomorrow."
"What!" I exclaimed. I hadn't seen Renée in three years or talked to her in over six months. Probably the last time she called was belatedly for my birthday.
I must have passed out again at the news that Renée was coming to Forks because when I opened my eyes again it was pitch black and only the glow of my digital alarm clock told me it was nearly four in the morning.
I was achy and stiff from sleeping in my clothes. I peeled myself out of my jeans, t-shirt and bra and threw on sweat pants and a sweat shirt. I really didn't care what I looked like and I couldn't imagine that I was alone in the house so I had to be at least sorta dressed. I ran my fingers through my hair to try to get out the knots as I walked to the bathroom before facing whatever awaited me downstairs.
When I got to the kitchen Jonesy and his wife were sitting there.
"Have you been here all night?" I rasped out. My voice didn't seem to be working from all my crying.
"No, I went home to sleep for a few hours and we just got here. I'm sorry we woke you."
I was shaking my head, "Nah, I didn't hear a thing. I think I just needed to get up and move and pee actually."
Jonesy's wife, Marsha, was up and heading for the coffee pot, "Do you want some coffee or some juice sweetheart?"
"Coffee and some water would be great." I plopped down in a chair not caring that I was being waited on.
She brought them to me and asked, "Can I fix you something to eat?"
"Maybe later. This is fine for now."
We sat there for awhile sipping our coffees in silence until, "Jake told me Renée would be here today."
"Yep. Not sure what time though."
"Time is a bit irrelevant to Renée. She could show up a week from next Thursday and it wouldn't surprise me in the least."
"Belly you need to give her a chance. I know she can be kinda dippy but she is your mom."
I looked at him in shock, "Give her a chance? Why do I have to give her a chance?" I was nearly shouting at him.
"She is your only living relative."
The words hung there in the air.
"So ... well…," he couldn't look me in the face, "She is your legal guardian now."
The idea was terrifying.
After Marsha finally convinced me to eat and I had showered and dressed in fresh clothes I felt slightly more human, by the most minute degree.
Jonesy and his wife Marsha were my anchors today. They seemed to make sure that I wasn't overwhelmed by the activity around me. Neighbors and friends stopped by. Some dropped off food and said a quick 'hello', an 'I'm so sorry' and would disappear. Others sat with me. Jonesy kept a close eye on me and would kindly suggest someone leave when he thought I had had enough.
My most welcome visitor was Billy. Charlie's best friend and Jake's dad. We laughed over fishing stories from their years together. So many times I had turned down going fishing with Charlie. If I could have him back I would never turn him down again. But it was too late for that now. How many opportunities had I missed being a stubborn teenager and wanting to do my own thing.
Marsha heated up one of the casseroles someone had dropped off for dinner that evening. After dinner as I helped wash the dishes another knock came at the door.
"I'll get it," Jonesy said.
I didn't recognize the voice, but so many of the people that had stopped by today were more friends or acquaintances of Charlie's and I wasn't familiar with them at all. I had been able to be superficially polite and most stayed only briefly. Whoever this was, I could only hope that their visit would be quick. I had had heard enough platitudes to last a lifetime.
Jonesy stuck his head in the kitchen doorway and asked, "Bella, when you're done in there can you come in the living room?"
"Sure, we're just about finished."
I dried off my hands and Marsha and I went to greet the visitor. I stepped into the living room and froze when I saw that it was Renée sitting in Charlie's favorite chair.
"Get out of that chair!"I shrieked. I wasn't making a shrine out of it but everyone else today had been respectful that that was Charlie's space and shouldn't sit there. She had some gall coming here and plopping herself down in his spot.
She jumped at the sound of my voice and moved to the end of the couch furthest from me.
"Bella, Marsha and I will be in the kitchen if you need us."
I gave him a look to say 'don't go' but he shook his head and they disappeared.
"Will you sit down so we can talk?" she spoke softly.
"Fine." I dumped myself on the couch at the opposite end, not wanting to be any closer than I had to.
"I'm so sorry about Charlie."
"Thanks for your condolences, have a safe trip home." Yeah I was being snarky but I did not care one iota.
"I am not leaving sweetheart."
"Don't call me sweetheart or any other term of endearment. You don't have the right. I haven't seen you in three years. You even forgot my birthday last year. You just don't have the right." I was furious. Who did she think she was speaking to me like that?
"Bella, after the funeral you will be coming back to Phoenix with me."
"What?" I jumped to my feet and began pacing the room. "This is my home. My friends are here. My school is here. I can't leave. I won't leave," my voice getting progressively louder.
"Bella you don't actually have a choice in the matter. You are still seventeen and I will be making the decisions regarding your welfare."
"You? Make a decision?" I snorted. I couldn't take any more of this. "I can't do this now. I am exhausted and am going to bed. If you manage to hang around until tomorrow I will talk to you then."
I turned on my heel and went upstairs to my room, slamming the door behind me. I flung myself on the bed face first and beat the mattress with my fists. How could this be happening to me? It wasn't fair.
The next two days were packed with funeral decisions. As appealing as the picture of a flag draped casket was in my mind, I knew that Charlie would never want to waste valuable land to plant him in the ground. His spirituality was found outside with a fishing pole in his hand admiring God's handiwork not sitting in a pew listening to a preacher. We would go to the community church for the big holidays but otherwise we worshiped in our hearts and with our deeds.
If I was being forced to leave Forks I wanted to be able to take a part of him with me. The lady at the mortuary said that they could fill a vial with his ashes that I could wear on a chain if I wanted or just keep safe for when I needed something physical to connect with him. The idea of keeping a whole urn at home kinda freaked me out. There was a remembrance wall at the Forks Cemetery where I could place an urn permanently and that way he would stay in his home town. After talking it over with Billy I requested a second vial of ashes. With the blessing of the elders on the reservation, Billy, Jake, and I scattered a vial of Charlie's ashes at his favorite fishing spot the morning of the memorial service.
I am sure the memorial service was nice but I had a constant buzz in my ears and missed most of what was said. I saw both Chuck and Jonesy step to the podium. Forks' mayor said something about his dedication to the community and his service as the chief of police. The ladies auxiliary had set up a reception following the service. I know I shook a lot of hands that afternoon and nodded politely at their kind words but it was all meaningless. Charlie was gone and I was alone.
When Renée took me home afterwards I went straight to my room and crawled into bed pulling the covers over my head. I stroked the pendant of ashes that hung around my neck like a worry stone, trying to chase away the fear, loneliness, and despair, until I fell into a fitful sleep.
The reality that I would be uprooting my life slammed me in the face the next morning. Renée had rounded up some volunteers to help with packing. Room by room we went through the house and she would have me point out what I wanted to take with me. The rest I would leave here or donate to AmVets. The AmVets truck was coming at 4:30 this afternoon so we had to get this done.
The furniture and kitchen stuff would stay since I wanted to rent the house out for now. Renée had arranged for a realtor to manage the rental. The only piece of furniture I insisted come with me was the rocker from my bedroom. I had so many fond memories of Charlie reading me bedtime stories in that chair. As I grew older I had spent hours escaping to fantasy worlds and far-off places reading my own books.
I kept two of Charlie's plaid flannel shirts. All his police gear Jonesy picked up to take to the station. They were going to set up a memorial display case in the lobby of the station. Charlie was the first officer killed in the line of duty in the history of the Forks Police Department.
Just as the AmVets truck was pulling away the moving company came to get the stuff I was taking to Phoenix along with my trusty old pick-up truck. I had one small suitcase packed for the airplane the rest would arrive in two days.
My friends planned a send off party that night at the diner. I put on a brave face and tried to store up as many happy memories as I could. Someone brought a blank journal and everyone wrote something in it and added their phone numbers and e-mail addresses too. Someone promised me that when the yearbooks arrived they would send me mine. Hopefully I could stay in touch but I knew it would be hard. Another year and we would all be headed different directions after graduation. I was just heading a different direction sooner.
I kept my eyes on the side view mirror, watching Forks slip further and further away behind us. Chuck and Jonesy gave us a police escort to the edge of town. Someone from the Clallum County Sheriff's office escorted us north and east through Port Angeles and the other small towns along the way. We never had to stop for a red light or a stop sign. I knew we had reached the county line when they pulled to the side of the road and flashed the red and blue lights on the top of the car to signal farewell.
Now we were on our own.
Now I was alone.
Alone in a car.
Alone on a plane.
Alone in Phoenix.
AmVets- An organization similar to Goodwill or Salvation Army where the money raised from the sale of donations goes to American Veterans services. Don't forget AmVets or Disabled AmVets when you are ready to donate your gently used stuff.
A/N Thanks for reading. I know this was a difficult chapter to read but I had my reasons. Please click on the little button and put the story on alert and I promise to have the next chapter up as soon as possible. Reviewers get a teaser of a surprise awaiting Bella in Phoenix. Thanks!