A/N A Huge thanks to my fantastic beta, Bethaboo. She is incredible. Go read any of her stories, especially "Eve, the Apple of My Eye." It's incredible.
Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight or any of the characters. I also don't own Legends of the Fall.
Colonel Charles "Charlie" Cullen was a soldier in the United States Army. In the early 1900s, the Indians were the problem. Now they'd be called Native Americans, but back then, no one seemed to care much about what they were called. Women and children were killed, and people were kicked off their lands. It was a very bad time.
The colonel didn't subscribe to his government's ideals, and tried to help the people. A man was a man, a woman a woman, and a child a child. Where a person's ancestors were from did nothing to lessen their worth as a person.
He wrote books on the subject to the government, about the treatment of natives in the Dakotas. No one seemed to listen.
After fighting for his country, and trying to save all the people who called America home, Colonel Cullen left the army to raise his family.
He wanted to leave the madness over the mountain, and begin again. So he moved to a large ranch in Montana with his wife, and three boys.
The colonel had become friends with a man named Billy Black, who was himself a Native American. The soldier and the native were as close as brothers, much to the confusion of everyone in town. But Charlie trusted Billy, along with his sister Sue, and so they came to live on the ranch with his family. Though he understood every word, Billy did not deign to speak English.
Sue, on the other hand, had no such qualms, and was always around for a lively conversation. In exchange for a place to live and food to eat, she took to keeping the colonel's house. She washed their clothes, kept the rooms tidy, and prepared their meals. Her path often crossed with Charlie's ranch hand, Emmett McCarty. After a year or so, they fell in love, and got married. They had a small daughter, Alice, who was a number of years younger than the Cullen boys.
Renee Cullen, the colonel's wife, was a woman not accustomed to living in such isolation. The winters on the ranch were hard, and the family frequently went without seeing anyone apart from themselves for weeks. She was a slightly flighty woman, easily distracted by new amusements. The lack of variety in activities and company bored her.
One year, Renee went away for the winter. She said the winters were too cruel, and that she was afraid of bears. She didn't like being so isolated; the small town life was suffocating her. She was a strange woman.
That spring, though, Renee didn't come back. After that, she didn't visit her family much. She left her boys in Charlie's care, and trusted in his guidance.
The colonel had three sons, but Jasper was his favorite.
Edward was the eldest of the Cullen boys. He was serious, even as a child, with an inner calm and intelligence that was easily seen. He could frequently be found with his nose in a book, or speaking with his father about places he'd been and people he'd met. To those who had just met him, Edward seemed a bit arrogant, because he was so knowledgeable and confident. But Edward didn't believe in speaking just to hear his own voice. He contributed to conversations when he felt he had something that would benefit others to hear.
He was exceedingly good at reading other people. It was all in the eyes for Edward; he could pick up on glints and glances that most would overlook. By simply looking at his father's face, he could tell when it would benefit his brothers to stop horsing around and behave. He had known as she was leaving that his mother would not be coming back to them, but that it did not touch upon her love for her sons. He would sometimes know when one of his brothers was about to tackle him, though he frequently let it happen because he loved wrestling with them.
He was a small child, very slim and wiry, though he was not weak. His was a lean strength, and people were always surprised when he could lift bales of hay without assistance. He had his mother's clear emerald eyes, and his father's strange bronze colored hair. He could never seem to tame it, much to his mother's chagrin, though this might have been caused by his habit of running his hands through it while nervous or thinking. As he grew older, he became taller; he stood over six feet by the time he was 16.
After his mother left, Edward frequently wrote letters to her. Jasper did not.
Jasper was the wild child. He almost lost his mother when he came into the world. He was quick to grin, and everyone loved him immediately. He spent most of his youth in Billy's company and on a horse. Billy taught him to become a warrior, like those of his tribe. By the time he was 8 years old, he could track any animal, and was adept using many different weapons. He was strong, both in body, and in spirit. He knew every legend that Billy had told him, and had found a special kinship with nature.
He had a natural charisma that was infectious. He was passionate about everything in life. Much like his father, he believed that every human should be treated with respect, and he had no patience for those who believed otherwise. His fiery disposition left him with a temper as quick as his smile. He loved his family fiercely, and was incredibly protective over them, especially Carlisle. While he wasn't necessarily book-smart, he was shrewdly intelligent and cunning. His charm also tended to work on animals, and Billy showed him how to tame and train horses.
Like Edward, he grew up tall, though his strength was more noticeable than his brother's. He had the same strong jaw and straight nose that his brother had inherited from his father. Jasper had inherited his mother's honey blond hair. His hair fell longer than his brother's, and twisted into lazy curls around his head. He had dimples that showed when he grinned, which made almost everyone smile with him. It was his eyes, though, that were oddly captivating. It was as if he took his father's crystal blue eyes and his mother's green eyes, and combined them. They would change from green to blue to grey depending on what he was wearing, or what his mood was.
His smile came easiest around his younger brother, Carlisle.
Carlisle was as civilized as Jasper was wild. He had a kind and compassionate disposition that everyone around him wanted to preserve and protect. Like Edward, he loved to read, but he wanted to help people. Unlike Edward and Jasper, Carlisle went away to Harvard for university, where he studied to be a doctor. He wanted to save the world, as unrealistic as that was. His idealism often got him into trouble, but he knew his brothers would do anything to protect him.
He was slightly shy, and relied on his brothers for company. When he went away to Harvard, Edward and Jasper worried about Carlisle. They thought people would take advantage of his quiet and giving nature. There was truly nothing to worry about; people flocked to his goodness, as if they could absorb it through osmosis. They would sooner kick a puppy in the nose than hurt Carlisle.
He, like his brothers, had a strong jaw, though his nose was slightly more defined. His eyes were very like his father's clear light blue. Like Jasper, he had his mother's golden hair, though his was straighter. His build was much like Edward's—long and lean. He was strong, but he spent more of his time indoors than Jasper, or even Edward. His smile was shy, but contagious.
When Renee failed to come back to her husband and sons, Edward was eleven years old. His father had retired to his study after receiving a letter from her. When the colonel returned, Edward caught his eye. In that instant, his breath caught around a lump in his throat. She wasn't coming back.
Charlie merely confirmed what he already knew.
Though he was able to command an army in tactical maneuvers, Colonel Cullen was not known for his tact. As soon as he knew that his mother was not coming home, Edward requested to see the letter she had sent him.
In the letter, Renee confessed that while she loved Charlie, she couldn't live on the ranch anymore. The winters were too lonely, and she needed to be in an environment where she would come into contact with more people, and have more activities to pass her time with. In addition, she thought the cattle smelled atrocious, and the horses frightened her. The threat of bears that had recently been discovered merely sent her over the edge.
She had plainly stated that she loved Edward, Jasper, and Carlisle, and that she wished they could all come with her. She also said that she knew that would be impossible for Charlie. In a rare moment of selflessness, she encouraged Charlie to blame her for leaving, so that he wouldn't suffer their resentment for driving their mother away.
Edward knew that while Charlie would never entertain the idea of accusing Renee of not loving them, he probably also didn't know how to phrase it to Jasper and Carlisle that their mother's departure was not meant as abandonment, and that, in fact, no one was to blame. "I'll tell them, Father. I'll make them understand."
He did make them understand. "It's not that she doesn't love us. She will always be our mother, and we are welcome to visit her in the city at any time. Sometimes, things don't happen how we expect them to. We can either continue on, even if it makes us unhappy, or we can change, and start something different. Mother had to start something new, but it doesn't mean that she didn't care enough to stay."
It was insightful for an eleven-year-old to grasp that concept. Edward saw the importance of making the best of what life offered. You made your own happiness, as long as you had the desire and will to do so.
Billy taught Jasper many customs and legends of his tribe. He grew up knowing that every warrior hopes a good death would find him. Jasper wasn't satisfied to wait, so, at twelve years old, he went looking for his.
He found a sleeping grizzly bear in the forest, and woke it from its slumber. It lifted itself up on its hind legs, and swiped at his small form. The bear's claws caught his side, and left four deep gashes. He brought his knife around and caught the bear's claw with the blade, removing it from the paw. The bear, injured, limped away.
"Jasper? Jasper?" Colonel Cullen called when he spotted Jasper lying against a tree. He had been searching for his son for an hour. "Was it a bear?" He asked, as he knelt down beside him. "Lift your hand; take it away," he requested, as he began to examine his wounds. "Did Billy put you up to this? You're a stupid, half-brained jackass, did you know this?"
"Yes, sir," Jasper replied, barely hanging onto consciousness.
"You deserve to be dead! God knows how you've lived this long," he muttered to himself. "You're going to be alright son," he confirmed, after he had finished his examination.
Billy caught sight of the knife, and held it up, chuckling. He quickly showed the claw to Charlie, who simply shook his head. That claw would be strung on a chord for Jasper to wear around his neck at all times.
It is said that when a man and an animal exchange blood, their destinies become intertwined. Their spirits unite, and they become one.
It was rare for the Cullens to venture into town, but when Carlisle was fourteen years old, he had a bit of a growth spurt. It seemed that he had gone from somewhere around five feet tall to just shy of six feet within a month. He needed new clothes desperately.
Colonel Cullen took Carlisle, Sue, and little Alice with him into town to shop. Alice was growing, as small children often do, and also was in need of some new dresses. They took the car into town, as they would have too many bags to carry on the horses.
Carlisle found many suits to wear, as well as some more rugged riding clothes to wear around the ranch. He detested shopping, though he never complained. He did, however enjoy spending time with Sue, Alice, and his father. In the years following Renee's departure, he had come to look at Sue as a sort of maternal presence in his life, and Alice as a little sister; Carlisle loved them both.
The colonel had gone off to purchase some liquor, tobacco, and new bullets for his rifle while his son and friends looked for clothes. In his absence, some townies saw fit to harass Sue. It was the first time that Carlisle came into contact with boys that believed that Sue was anything less than they were simply because she was a Native American.
"Indians aren't welcome in these stores. Why don't you go make some moccasins?" One boy asked with a sneer on his face.
"Excuse me, but don't talk to Mrs. McCarty like that. She has as much right to be here as you or I," Carlisle chided.
The boy looked towards his friends and laughed. "Well, look what we have here, boys. He doesn't like how I'm talking to the redskin. Well, boy, what's it to you?" he challenged.
"She's my friend, and I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't call her names. She's a good woman, and you have no reason to think otherwise. Just leave her, and me, alone," Carlisle replied.
Carlisle was not a violent person, but the thought of anyone treating someone he loved with such malevolence upset him greatly. He would defend his friend and himself if necessary. He simply thought words would be enough to dissuade them.
They were not.
The boy who had been addressing Carlisle and Sue quickly ran up to Sue, who held a crying Alice in her arms. He pushed her, and said, "You can't shop here! This is no place for squaw!"
Sue stumbled a bit, and Carlisle caught her arm to prevent her from falling over. The boy took the opening he saw, pushed Carlisle down to the ground and started kicking him in the stomach.
Carlisle couldn't fathom what he had done to make this person angry enough to kick him, but he was immensely glad that he was the one being kicked, instead of Sue or Alice. It wasn't until Colonel Cullen exited the shop and saw his youngest son curled in the fetal position being kicked and ran over, yelling, that the boys ran off.
"Are you alright, Carlisle?" The relief in Charlie's voice didn't register in his ears, but he nodded, nonetheless. "What the hell were they kicking you for?"
Carlisle had to remove his teeth from the inside of his cheek to answer his father. He gritted his teeth as an alternative method of preventing tears as he replied, "They called Sue a squaw, and said she couldn't shop here. She has every right! Her money is as good as anyone else's!"
Charlie couldn't disagree with Carlisle, but he also knew that not everyone thought as he did. He simply nodded, and said, "You can't protect the world, boy. I'm glad you didn't let her get hurt, but fighting a fight that isn't yours is dangerous and stupid."
"But I didn't fight them, Father. I merely told them that they shouldn't call her that, and stopped them from pushing her down. That's when they kicked me."
Charlie sighed, and realized that he wasn't going to win any argument with Carlisle, and just led him, along with Sue and Alice, to the car to go home.
Later that evening, Carlisle found himself relaying the incident to his brothers. He didn't understand why it was so important to Jasper to know what the boys looked like, but he told him anyways.
He never found out that when Jasper went for a long ride the next morning, he had ridden into town and found the boys that had accosted his brother and friends. He gave them bruises on their stomachs to match Carlisle's, as well as some on their faces for their prejudiced words.
The three brothers grew strong together. Though Charlie sometimes believed that they lacked the balance one receives from a mother's presence, they loved each other. They had their individual pursuits to keep them entertained.
January 27, 1912
I know I can't change the path my life has taken, but I sometimes wonder if I have done the right thing raising our sons alone in this wild place. What do I know of children? I was trained to lead men into battle; this is infinitely harder.
February 18, 1912
You take too much responsibility on yourself, as always. Our sons are finding their own paths. They are strong-willed and spirited, but who are we to complain about those qualities?
I will always regret not being around the boys more, but I have never believed that the lack of a maternal influence is a detriment to development. You have always been a wise man, and quite civilized when you wish to be. You will teach them all they need to know to survive in this world.
The only worry I have ever had for their upbringing is that I worry what being raised in the wilderness will do to them. There is such a lack of diversions that cities provide. I receive letters from Edward, and I know that you have made certain that they know about art and music. And, of course, their time at university has provided them more culture than they would otherwise receive, but I sometimes wonder if that is enough. It is one thing to read about the Sistine Chapel, but it is quite another to actually see it with your own eyes.
I don't believe our sons will ever suffer from a lack of love. And they certainly will not lack passion or bravery.
I was delighted to hear that Carlisle has declared his concentration at Harvard. I could not be prouder to learn that he wants to become a doctor. To be able to heal people and save lives is such a noble aspiration. Then again, I always knew he was destined for greatness.
A/N Thanks to the fantastic glasscannon, and the crazy Twitter discussions we had that led me to this.
Next update should post on Monday.