AN: This is the Charlie POV Outtake that I wrote for The Fandom Gives Back: Autism Speaks compilation.
In my daughter's eyes I am a hero
I am strong and wise and I know no fear
But the truth is plain to see
She was sent to rescue me
I see who I wanna be
In my daughter's eyes
May 21, 2011
I had a vision of this moment, the very first day that I met Edward Cullen. I had this pre-conceived notion that I could remain impartial and hard-nosed when faced with the man who had stolen my daughter's heart. I was wrong. When I looked into eyes that were identical to Jack's, filled with so much love, my walls crumbled immediately. I placed myself in his shoes, with my daughter missing and thought dead for five years, and my heart went out to this man. I don't how I would've survived it. When he smiled at me, nervous, yet genuinely happy to meet me, I knew there was no stopping any relationship between him and Bella.
While we sat and shared a beer, shooting the shit about sports, I easily pictured a day in the not so distant future where he'd be my son-in-law. I'd screwed up royally by pushing Bella towards Jacob and I vowed that even though I might have been a little tougher on her prospective boyfriends, I would let her make her own decisions. If Edward was her choice, then I'd stand by her. I'd also beat the ever-living shit out of him if her ever hurt her, but that was a different story.
Today, well, today was a day that I was both dreading and looking forward to at the same time. Even though Bella was a mother, in every sense of the word but physically, she was still my little girl. Today, she was becoming someone's wife and I'd have to let her go, trusting that Edward would cherish and take care of her. I knew that was something that I needn't fear, but it still wasn't easy to admit that my baby was all grown up. I was giving her away, in every sense of the word.
Beautiful didn't begin to describe how she looked with her hair swept up, the long gown flowing behind her as she walked towards me. She linked her arm through mine and smiled radiantly.
"Ready, Daddy?" she whispered.
I was simultaneously fighting back a smile as well as tears. "As ready as you are, baby," I lied through my teeth.
Her answering grin was well worth it. Just as they began to play the wedding march, I turned and gave her what I hoped was a cheeky smile.
"You know, it's not too late to change your mind. We could cash in those tickets to Italy and disappear. My shotgun's in the car."
She giggled and slapped me playfully on the arm, not realizing that I was being dead serious. I wanted nothing more than to kidnap her and Jack and whisk them away from the world. Instead, I sighed and walked her down the aisle. I tried my best to look straight forward, hoping to avoid glancing at Edward, but it was no use. The man's joy lit up his face like a thousand watt bulb. My defenses crumbled entirely when I looked beside him and saw Jack dressed identically, officiating as best man once again. His expression mirrored his father's and I knew without a doubt that I had nothing to fear. These two men would take care of my baby girl and make her happy long after I was gone from this Earth. And that's all that mattered in the end.
When we reached the front, their eyes were locked on each other's with an intensity that took even my breath away.
"Who gives this woman to be wedded to this man?"
I swallowed the lump in my throat before responding. "I do, sir."
I heard sniffles from my left and I felt a pang of sadness for Renee. To be honest, I was fine with the traditional, "Her mother and I do," line, but Bella was firmly against it. She felt that even though her mother was making a commendable effort to be in her life again, at this stage, she should be counting herself lucky that she even got an invite. Once again, proving that she was my daughter, through and through.
Edward's eyes flicked to mine and he smiled whole-heartedly. "Thank you, Charlie," he murmured, shaking my hand. My respect for him swelled another notch as I nodded and moved off to the side, taking my place next to Renee.
"She looks so beautiful," she whispered.
"Yes, she certainly does," I murmured quietly.
I could barely see through the tears in my eyes, but I never tore my gaze from the scene before me. We'd gone through so much over the years that it was hard to believe where we were today. Bits and pieces of her childhood flipped through my mind like a photo album; our first fishing trip, her first gap-toothed smile after losing her two front teeth one year, skinned knees and broken bones. Looking back, I wouldn't trade any of it for the world. It was completely corny and clichéd, but my life truly started on the day she was born.
"I now pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss your bride."
I had to look away when their lips touched, pressing my fingers into my eyes as I tried to fight back tears. I have nothing against men showing emotion, but I was Chief Swan and had a rep to uphold. I took a deep breath and glanced up just as they were walking out. Renee nudged me and offered a tissue, causing me to glare at her. She laughed and patted my shoulder.
"Still the same gruff, hard-ass, eh?"
I snatched the tissue from her hand and rolled my eyes. I slowly rose to my feet, offering her my hand to help her to her feet. As I went to release her hand, she gripped it tightly. I looked down into her hazel eyes and freckled nose, briefly seeing the girl that I had fallen in love with all those years ago. She smiled sadly and a pair of symmetrical tears rolled down her cheeks. She visibly swallowed, trying to wrangle her emotions as I patiently waited for her to gather her thoughts.
"You've done a hell of a job, Charlie. I missed out on so much and I can never get that back, I know, but I promise that I won't stop trying. She's a wonderful woman and it's all because of you. You should feel so proud of that."
I cleared my throat and nodded. "I'm not gonna lie, when you left it was hard. We struggled, but we ended up alright." My gaze wandered to the back of the church, where our spouses waited for us. Sue met my gaze and smiled serenely, making my chest light and happy. It's true, Renee had destroyed our lives when she left, but we rose from the ashes and ended up just where we needed to be. Maybe one day I'd be able to thank her for that. One day.
And when she wraps her hand
around my finger
Oh it puts a smile in my heart
Everything becomes a little clearer
I realize what life is all about
It's hangin' on when your heart
Has had enough
It's giving more when you feel like giving up
I've seen the light
It's in my daughter's eyes
"It was a beautiful ceremony, wasn't it?" my daughter's soft voice mused, as we danced slowly around the floor for our Father/Daughter dance.
"Yeah, it was. You've made such a beautiful bride, Bells."
As Martina McBride sang on about her daughter's eyes, I felt my chest tighten as each of the words hit me square in the heart. I looked down sharply when Bella sniffled. I reached up and moved a strand of hair behind her ear.
"Hey now, no tears on your wedding day. What's wrong?"
She smiled up brilliantly. "Nothing's wrong, Daddy. I love you so much. I never dreamed that this day would be here. Thank you for always supporting me and loving me."
I felt my nose burn and I knew my fight against my tears was over. I pulled her to my chest and took a deep breath, letting them finally fall.
"No matter what happens, you'll always be my little girl."
A small sob pulled her chest and she clutched me tightly. "I love you, Daddy."
"I love you, too, Baby Girl."
We swayed and clutched each other tightly, as if it was the last time we'd ever see each other again. In reality, nothing was changing but her name. Edward was already my son, today just made it official.
As the music drew to a close, I felt a slight tap on my my shoulder. Edward stood there, his eyes bright and happy.
"May I cut in, Charlie?" he asked politely, even though his eyes never left hers.
Smirking, I stepped back and watched for a moment as he swept her into his arms. I felt familiar arms wrap around my waist. Sighing, I looked down into the almost jet black eyes of my wife. Sue smiled and followed my gaze to the dance floor.
"She'll be fine, my love," she spoke quietly.
Leaning down, I kissed her on the head. "I know, but it's still hard for me to let go. It's easier knowing how much he loves her, though."
"Come, dance with me," she murmured as she tugged me out on the floor.
Smiling, I allowed myself to get lost in her arms for the rest of the evening.
In my daughter's eyes I can see the future
A reflection of who I am and what will be
Though she'll grow and someday leave
Maybe raise a family
When I'm gone I hope you see how happy
She made me
For I'll be there
In my daughter's eyes
May 23, 2015
Green eyes gazed curiously up at mine as I wondered just what the hell I had gotten myself into. Babysitting my three grandchildren while my daughter and son-in-law took an overnight trip to celebrate their anniversary was all well and good. But then my wife calls to say that she'd be working late and didn't know what time she'd be home. That's when the panic hit. Sure, I'd taken Jack fishing or Ash to get ice cream, but never had both of them plus their baby brother for hours at a time.
Brian gurgled and seemed to laugh at my predicament. "Think it's funny, do you?" I cooed at the six-month-old I was holding in my arms as I sat in my favorite recliner.
Ashley giggled from her spot on the floor, surrounded by dolls in varying states of undress. "Byan laffs at e'rything, Poppa."
"Is that so, Princess?"
She smiled a toothy grin, her green eyes bright with amusement. She had her dad's eyes and smiles, but everything else was Bella's. From the cute freckles across her nose to her mahogany hair. Whereas her little brother had the same reddish brown hue as Jack with wide brown eyes that Bella inherited from me.
Ten minutes later, Jack emerged from wherever he'd been hiding with his new cell phone in hand. He started working odd jobs for his mom at the bookstore in order to pay for it and prove that he was responsible enough. He plopped down on the couch with a sigh.
"Everything alright, kiddo?" I asked, shifting the squirming child in my lap.
Jack stood up and held his arms out. "Here, let me take him. He likes to bounce."
Excited by the attention from his older brother, Brian began to babble and wave his arms. Jack sat down on the couch and gently bounced the baby on his knees, causing him to squeal with delight. I sat back as Ashley clambered into my lap and watched quietly, just enjoying the moment.
"Hey, Pops?" Jack broke the silence.
"How do you know when a girl likes you?"
Taken by surprise, I pursed my lips as I thought over his question.
"Well, Jack, that's a difficult question, son. Women are complicated creatures. The only way to know for sure how they feel is to ask them directly."
The boy raised an eyebrow and looked at me like I had grown two heads.
"What? What's that look for?"
"So you're saying that I should just ask Bree up front if she likes me or not? Are you kidding me? She'll probably laugh in my face," he whined.
"Son, take my advice, playing mind games brings nothing but headaches. Most women will appreciate a strong, direct approach."
He chewed on his bottom lip as he thought over my advice. Another trait that he picked up from his mother.
"Plus," I added, "Aren't you a little too young to be worried about girls?"
He rolled his eyes. "Pops, I'm almost a man. I start high school next year, you know."
I coughed in an attempt to cover up an involuntary snort. A thirteen-year-old considering himself "almost a man" struck me as funny as hell. No matter how mature he acted for his age, the boy was still just that - a boy.
"How about some dinner, you guys?" I interjected, hoping to change the subject.
Ashley clapped her hands. "Oh yes! Can we has fankfutters?"
What in the Sam Hell is that?
I glanced over at Jack who was trying not to laugh. "Interpret, please."
"She wants to know if we can have frankfurters. She loves them."
"Oh, why didn't you just say that you wanted a hot dog?"
Her green eyes filled with tears, her bottom lip quivering before she started to wail.
This time, Jack couldn't stop his laughter at my panicked expression.
"You can't call them that, Pops. She takes it literally, so we have to call them frankfurters."
I pulled the crying girl to my chest and patted her back. "Ssh, it's okay. C'mon, stop crying. No dogs are eaten in my house, I promise."
She sniffled and pulled back to look into my eyes. "Are yew sure, Poppa? No doggies hurt?"
I shook my head and smiled. "I promise."
She smiled and wiped the tears from her face. "Okay."
Jack stood with Brian and chuckled. "I'll warm his bottle while you make dinner."
I got up, shifting Ashley to my hip, and watched him walk into the kitchen. I shook my head, marveling at just how grown up he was.
A few hours later, Ashley was tucked into bed and Jack was settled on the couch. I gently laid Brian down in his playpen, careful not to wake him as I covered him with a light blanket. Sighing in exhaustion, I fell back against the pillows and closed my eyes. A little while later, I listened as the bedroom door squeaked open quietly, soon followed by the sound of shoes hitting the floor. I held back my smile and pretended to be asleep as Sue rustled around the room. After a few minutes, I felt the covers move and her weight dip the bed. She curled up against me and sighed.
"I know you're awake," she whispered.
I could hear the smile in her voice and it caused me to laugh quietly. "I was just resting my eyes."
"How did everything go? I didn't get any calls from the Fire Department, so I'm assuming not too bad?"
"Honestly? It was exhausting, but it was good to spend some one-on-one time with the three of them. They're growing up too fast."
I felt her breath against my skin as she sighed. "That's how it goes. I felt so old when Leah made me a grandmother last year."
"Well, at least we can be old together, sweetheart."
Song used: In My Daughter's Eyes by Martina McBride