Advancements and Complications
I should have predicted what the scene would be like when we arrived at the Cullen's house, but of course I didn't. Half of me expected everyone to be at the beach enjoying the bonfire party. Then again, I should have known better. I suppose I was just digging for normalcy in suspecting any different. I should have known that Jasper would have gotten in contact with them all. I should have expected them to all be there, completely clued in and overly accommodating. I should have known a lot of things. But, for what wasn't the first time that day, it turned out I wasn't as smart as I thought I was.
Jasper arrived first, and waited outside his car for Carlisle, Renesmee and I to pull up. Once we were out of the car, Renesmee cradled in my arms, we started on our walk up to the house. Jasper seemed protective of us, even then, shadowing my movements carefully and walking in that precise way that meant he could jump in front of whatever wanted to come at us. It seemed silly. We were completely safe at the Cullen's house. Yet, I still understood why he did it.
The first thing I noticed when we walked in was the silence. The only sound was the deep breath as the door swung open. A small gasp echoed in the distance by the staircase. It didn't take long to realize what was waiting for us. Jasper's arm tightened around Renesmee and me as I looked up.
They were all there – Rosalie, Emmett, Edward, Alice, Charlotte and Peter. All were wearing horrid expressions and all were sitting on the stairs, talking quietly, awaiting our arrival. When we did arrive, all eyes went to us, and it felt like we were running the gauntlet.
Rosalie was the first to speak, which seemed fitting. If I was to judge, out of all of them, she had the most resting on this.
"Jasper…Bella…" she breathed, standing out of Emmett's arms and taking the steps two at a time. Before I could even blink she was standing in front of us, unreadable. Her eyes flickered over Jasper, concentrating on his busted lip, bruises, and injured hand. "What…?" she couldn't finish her sentence, because it was then that she looked at me and Renesmee. It all made her gasp just a little. "Oh Bella," she exclaimed, and without another word, her arms were wrapped around me, hugging Renesmee and I tight. Her next words were merely whispers in my ear. "I am so proud of you. So, so proud. And I am so sorry. About everything."
At that moment, the entire situation with Jasper's mother and the lies that were sown around it just didn't seem to matter at all. It was odd how the world could be put back into perspective like that. I could never stay mad at Rosalie.
I couldn't speak properly. All I could do was reply with a simple nod and a small gesture, "Me too, Rose. I'm sorry too. I love you, you know?"
Eventually Rosalie pulled away and immediately latched herself onto Jasper. Watching the two of them hug, I couldn't help but feel warmth flooding through me. Both looked on the edge of tears and both clung to each other like they were all the other had. I suppose, when you stripped it all down to it, they were. Bloody was always thicker than water. They shared ties that none of us could break – not even Emmett and me. All I could hope for was to come second place in Jasper's heart, at best. And also, at that moment, I realised that that bond was the reason why they could trust each other so fully even to the point of lying to others. They loved each other to a point larger than anyone else cold measure. They trusted each other. They needed each other. They were the only family they had. Of course Rosalie was going to stick on Jasper's side and do anything he needed her to, even if she didn't agree with it.
The others approached us soon after, and all addressed each of us with silent love and respect. Even Edward embraced me – something that he had never done before – and Emmett looked down with that torn proud Papa smile that set me on ease. The kiss he planted on Renesmee's forehead made it all that much more beautiful. When he, Peter and Edward approached Jasper, there was a nod of understanding between them all. Their eyes gleamed with pride, and all I could guess was that they all believed Jasper's injuries were worth it.
Once everyone had greeted us, Esme arrived, and her embraces were nothing but warm and comfortable. The feeling of being hugged by her pricked at my heart, and her motherly instincts reminded me of the mother that I had lost.
"Bella," she said softly, brushing the hair from my eyes, "do you need anything? Anything at all?"
When she spoke, that was when I realized it; all of the attention on me. Everyone was watching me, waiting expectantly to hear what I wanted. It put me on edge; frightened me, even. There was really only one thing that I wanted, and that was to be alone and have some time to think. Renesmee was already exhausted, and I knew that if I stayed on my feet for any longer, I would collapse from tiredness.
"I think…I think I just need some rest. Is there a room that I could take Renesmee into?"
Esme nodded with a smile that radiated kindness, watching me carefully, as if she was trying to judge how best to handle us. "Of course, sweetheart. There's a spare room upstairs next to where Jasper stays. I have set up Edward's old cot in there for Renesmee. Come with–"
"I'll show her," Japer volunteered quickly.
Esme glanced over him apprehensively, watching carefully, before nodding. "Good idea. I will send you up some dinner in a few minutes, as well. If you need anything else – anything at all – please let me know, darling."
I nodded and thanked Esme and Carlisle. As Jasper went to lead me to the staircase, everyone parted around us, drawing a line through the group. Their eyes stayed glued on us as we walked. It felt like we were under a microscope. Only when we had turned left at the top of the stairs did I feel relatively normal again.
Jasper was silent as we walked. Under normal circumstances, that would have been fine. But these were not normal circumstances.
"Talk to me," I begged him quietly as we approached the door. "Please, tell me you're still with me."
"I'm still with you," he replied.
Not what I meant. "You haven't said a word to me since the hospital," I reminded him.
"What do you want me to say?" he asked as we entered the room, greeted by a plush queen sized bed and a cot at the end of it.
"Something. Anything," I answered. "I just want to know that you are alright."
He smiled at me then, turning to face me in the middle of the room. Immediately, my worry seemed irrational.
"I'm fine, Bella. Happy, even, under the circumstances."
"But you've been so quiet," I reminded him again.
That was when he pointed to his swollen jelly lip. That was also when I felt like smacking myself in the head.
"Talking's not that easy, Bella."
"Oh," was all I said, feeling silly, then busying myself with putting Renesmee in her cot, who had fallen asleep on the slow walk upstairs. She was exhausted. Once she was settled I took a deep breath and turned around to face Jasper. My heart ached as I saw his injuries once again.
"Thank you," I said then, attempting a smile.
Jasper's forehead crinkled into a frown. "What do you mean?"
I shrugged nervously. "I don't think I have thanked you yet. So, thank you, for everything. You…you saved us." I motioned to his injuries for extra effect. "If you hadn't been there…I don't know what would have happened. If you hadn't been there…we…we would –"
Jasper stopped me, taking a step towards me and cradling my cheek in his palm. "You would have made it out all the same," he answered for me, refusing to let me look away. His hand dropped from my cheek and grasped at the hand at my side. He started to draw those little circles as he spoke. "I didn't save you, Bella. You did that all on your own. You ran away when he hurt Renesmee. You screamed and yelled and decided exactly what we were going to do. You told Carlisle the truth. You made sure I left the room so you could tell your story. You made sure you got the help. Don't diminish that, Bella, and don't give credit where credit is not due. You saved yourself, and you saved your baby sister, and I am so proud of you. It was all you! And you know what makes me even prouder? You didn't do it for me. You did it for yourself and Renesmee, and although I have been an asshole to you and everything was going to shit, you refused to let it get worse and you fought back."
His speech shocked me. So did the intensity of his eyes. But I didn't believe it for a second.
"I still couldn't have done it without you," I insisted. "I wouldn't have gotten away."
Jasper let out a strained laugh, throwing his head back. "Yes, you could have, and you would have. And you know what? You showed strength because you didn't do it when someone told you to, but when you knew it was right. And I love it because you have showed me lately that you don't need me. You can survive without me. Even when I completely rip your fucking heart out, it just keeps on beating. And that means so much, because it shows me that it's not the fact that you need me that's keeping this together, but that you genuinely want me. You could have done everything you did today without me, but you didn't. And I feel honoured to have been able to stay with you through everything."
I still didn't believe him. I wasn't brave or strong or any of those things. I was a coward who should have said something sooner and got everyone she loved hurt in the process.
I wanted to change the subject. "I just wish you hadn't have been hurt like this," I sighed.
"Anything for you," he answered.
"You shouldn't say that," I scolded.
Jasper didn't fight with me. He just laughed. "We are always going to just keep going round in circles over this topic, you know."
I couldn't help the playful smile that came. "Then admit defeat."
That same playful smile came to his features. "Never."
That smile was all that I ever needed. "Stay with me tonight?" I asked him. "I don't want to be alone."
The declaration felt so heavy in the midst of our brief laughter.
Jasper reached up to brush away a ringlet of hair that had fallen over my face, deep blue eyes watching me with a strange yet familiar intensity. "You know I never plan to leave you, right?"
The sentence held so much. Of all people, I did know that he would never leave me, even just considering his past.
"I know," I promised.
I slept relatively well that night. Every time a nightmare came and woke me up, Jasper was there to scare it away.
I must have slept for at least fifteen hours that night, because Jasper and I didn't wake until midday on Saturday, and that was only when Esme came and got us up. Renesmee had already been taken down for breakfast by the time we stirred. We woke in a good haze. Well, until I went downstairs and reality came crashing back down around me.
Jasper was upstairs taking a shower when I arrived downstairs. I didn't know where the others were, but Carlisle and Esme were sitting around the dining room table with Lucy and two other people. Immediately, I recognised them as cops, and fear spiked in me.
"Bella," Carlisle greeted. "Good morning, darling. I hope you slept well."
I simply nodded, my eyes glued on the two strangers in my safe haven.
Lucy noticed my nervousness. "Uh, Bella, this is Detective Henderson and Detective McDonell. They are here to talk to you today."
I just nodded again. "W-what about?"
That was when the black haired one – Henderson – spoke. He was short and chubby, with kind eyes and a sweet smile. His demeanour reminded me of Emmett.
"Come and sit down with us, Bella, please. We would like to discuss some things with you."
Silently, I obliged, taking a seat between Esme and Lucy, and turned to Lucy for an explanation. The detectives still frightened me. I had never been very trusting of cops. My father insured of that.
"The detectives are here today to fill you in on your father's case, Bella. There have been some advancements."
Lucy glanced to Henderson and McDonell. I turned at the same time. McDonell engaged me.
"Your father is currently being held under arrest, Bella," he told me, "with no chance of bail for at least two weeks. He is consulting with his lawyer about his options, but from the evidence gathered against him, your plight is looking very good."
The good news rang in my ears, but I still had many questions. "If he is convicted...what could his punishment be?"
McDonell nodded solemnly. Henderson took the question. "Considering the severity and longevity of the abuse, five to ten years. We may be able to push for twelve or fifteen considering your mother's case as well."
Shock took over me as I heard the numbers. They were exactly what I wanted.
"And what happens to Renesmee and I? Where do we go?" I asked then.
"That's a good question, Bella," Lucy acknowledged. "There are a few options. You could stay with family, a foster family, or perhaps family friends. It really depends. But it is probably best to discuss that at a later date once the formalities of the trial are more concrete. The Cullen's have offered for you to stay for as long as needed."
I nodded again, turning to Carlisle and Esme in thanks, smiling my best smile at them. They returned with kind ones of their own, but I couldn't help but catch the tears in their eyes.
That was when Henderson spoke. "We do have a question for you though, Bella. We have heard your side of the story through the interview with Lucy, but we do have to ask whether there is any more that you need to add? Are there any more details on the abuse you suffered that are of importance?"
I shook my head. "No. I told Lucy all of it, really."
Henderson nodded politely. "Great. Also, are there any family members that you require us to contact for you? Any friends? Anyone at all?"
One came to mind straight away. "My friends from Forks, Washington," I gasped. "Jacob and Billy Black. I have to tell them."
Henderson nodded again. "And would you like us to–"
They didn't need to finish the question. "No, I can do it. I need to talk to them."
Henderson looked shaken by my enthusiasm. I was practically jumping out of my skin, not able to believe that I had nearly forgotten them. He was about to speak when the descending of stairs sounded behind us.
Henderson, Lucy and McDonell looked up, alerted. Jasper was there, looking at us with just as much confusion.
"What's going on?" he asked tentatively, walking across the room towards us.
"Jasper," Lucy greeted. "This is Detective Henderson and McDonell. They are here to talk to you today."
Jasper caught on to exactly what I had heard.
"Talk to me?" he asked. "Why me?"
It didn't take long to catch on to what they were inferring.
"The fight," Jasper sighed. Their unanimous nods answered our questions.
"Bella, if it would be alright we would like to talk to Jasper alone. Perhaps you could go into the other room and contact your friends in Washington while we chat?" McDonell asked.
I could barely move. I couldn't seem to shake the terror that was shuddering through me. They all seemed so serious. Was something going to happen to Jasper? Was Charlie pressing charges? Was he going to suffer because of me?
I couldn't let that happen.
Unable to speak, my eyes wide with shock, I nodded gingerly and stood up. Jasper wore the same expression as me, and as we passed – him to take my seat – we couldn't resist embracing each other. Jasper's hold was unnaturally strong. He was frightened, too.
Mindlessly, I grabbed the phone and headed back up the stairs and to our room. I could hear dull murmurs as I ascended, but nothing that gave any clues of what was happening. I didn't know what to think, and that frightened me.
I couldn't let Jasper be hurt.
Once I was sitting on the bed I shook off my reservations and dialled Jacob's number. He answered on the fifth ring.
"Hello?" he greeted.
"Jacob," I breathed.
A moment's pause came and went. "Bella?"
I nodded, but realised that he couldn't see that. "Hey, Jake."
"Bella, how are you? It seems like I haven't talked to you for ages? How are you going? How's Nessie? How has everything been with your Mom and –"
Jacob was rambling, always a spirited talker. I had to cut him off.
"Jacob, listen, I have something important to tell you."
There was a moment's pause again. Suddenly, he was very serious.
"What is it, Bella?" he demanded.
I had to take a deep breath before telling him. The fear I had felt for so many years never seemed to cease.
"I reported Charlie."
The moment's pause that came then seemed to last a lifetime.
Jacob's voice was oddly distant. This was news he had been waiting his entire life to hear.
"When?" he asked.
"Yesterday," I answered.
I could hear his deep breathing in an attempt to calm himself.
"What made you do it?"
It took me a long time to go through the entire story of what happened with Renesmee. I then had to describe the events with Jasper and the hospital and Carlisle and Lucy. By the time it was done, it had been a good fifteen minutes, and I couldn't shake the feeling of just having had a massive load lifted off my shoulders.
The silence that punctuated the end of my story nearly killed me.
"You know, Bella, I am so proud of you right now," he said eventually.
I couldn't doubt the sincerity in his voice, but the fact that people kept saying that angered me more than anything..
"It was nothing, Jake," I told him.
"Don't even say that!" he insisted. "It wasn't nothing. This is a big fucking deal, Bells. The bastard can finally rot in hell for what he has done. You're so brave."
"I'm not, really," I mumbled.
"You are," he told me. "Don't doubt yourself on this."
I didn't want to talk about it anymore, and so I took a deep breath and changed the subject.
"The cops are downstairs now. They are talking to Jasper. I think it's about the fight he had with Charlie."
"Jasper is a fucking legend for doing that," Jacob told me. "I like the boy, Bells."
"He got hurt, Jacob! That's not a good thing," I scolded.
"He'll heal," Jake reminded me. "I hope Charlie never does."
I couldn't agree more with the last sentiment.
"Yeah," I agreed, "the only tough part is deciding where to go now."
Jacob had an answer straight away. "Come and stay with us. We wouldn't have it any other way."
"Oh, Jake..." I breathed. I loved the idea, but the thought of leaving Jasper scared me, too.
"Yeah, I know," he laughed. "It's a tough choice. But Bella, you just have to know that I am so proud of you."
"Thanks," I said again, despising the reminder of just what a coward I was.
"I'm coming down there, you know. Dad and me. We are going to catch the first flight we can and come and support you through all of this."
Shock hit me like a bullet-train.
"Oh, Jake, you don't have to. It's okay, really," I tried.
"No. It's not just okay. We are coming, Bells. I'm not leaving you alone in this."
Even after I had hung up, I couldn't shake that warm tingly feeling that came from talking to Jacob. Even though I felt emotionally and physically exhausted, he warmed me through.
Another ten minutes had passed and Jasper was still not back. I was just about ready to go downstairs when my door creaked open and Rosalie appeared.
"Rose," I breathed as she slid in quietly. "What are you doing here?"
Rosalie didn't speak. She merely walked straight over to me and wrapped me in a tight hug. It must have lasted for a full minute. By the time she pulled away from me, I could see the tears in her eyes.
"Oh Bella, I am so happy for you. I can't believe you did it."
I didn't know what to say. "What...Rose...what do you mean...?"
Rosalie smiled at me and took my hand in hers. With the tears and the pained expression, it had to be one of the most vulnerable states I had seen her in.
"You have done it. You've saved yourself. And that's more than any of us have ever been able to do," she explained. "I'm just...I'm so proud of you.
I didn't know what to say. I resented the fact that everyone thought I was so brave, when really, I was far from it.
"You...you amaze me, Bella, and I am so, so proud of you. I just...I'm so glad that my cousin has you in his life."
"Please don't, Rosalie. Please."
Rosalie smiled then, laughing through the tears. "I'm just happy for you. You...you're so strong. Know that, okay? And remember that, although things are going to get tough, you did the right thing."
Suddenly, I felt guilty, because despite what they may say, I really wasn't all that brave. I was a coward who should have spoken up sooner.
"Please, don't say that, Rosalie. It's not...it's not true."
Rosalie looked at me sternly then, taking my hand in both of hers and insisting I was wrong.
"It is true, Bella. Don't ever deny it. You are brave and strong and perfect and you have made the right choice. That's more than any of us have been able to do."
That was when it hit me, and I saw Rosalie's pride in a new light. Like me, she also suffered at the hands of an abusive father, but she was yet to get out. Her words meant so much more than what they merely seemed. Yet, they still felt misplaced.
"Rosalie...Rosalie, you...you are the brave one, not me. I'm not...I'm just a coward and a–"
I went to argue with Rosalie – sick of everyone insisting that I was so brave and deserving – when the door to the bedroom was thrown open. Jasper was standing there, his hair a mess and his expression torn. It even made Rosalie jump.
"Jasper, what is it?" I asked quietly, shocked.
Jasper didn't look at me when he spoke. I knew what was coming before it did.
"It's him...he's pressing charges."
Author's Note: This chapter seems like more of a filler chapter, and I'm sorry, but I had to get something out before I leave for University tomorrow. The next update may not be for a few weeks because of my heading off to uni, so I apologise for that.
Anyway, please do review! Once again, I know next to nothing about the law profession and the police, so I basically took creative license there. I apologise.
Thanks for reading!