A/N: I do not own Twilight. No copyright infringement intended.
I couldn't believe my eyes. After all these years I was finally standing so close to my son. He had his back to me and I watched as he looked back and forth trying to find me. Every once in a while he would say something to the guy standing next him, who I assumed was his friend.
Unable to wait any longer, I said his name and he immediately turned. There are no words to describe the joy I felt at seeing my son, tall, strong and healthy, standing before me. He smiled as I slowly walked towards him and gave him a hug. I wasn't sure if he even wanted it, but he didn't push me away, so I figured that was a good sign. When I felt his arms wrap themselves even tighter around me, my emotions overwhelmed me. I struggled to hold back my tears as we pulled away and I could tell he was doing the same.
After some small talk, Jasper introduced me to his friend, Edward. He seemed like a happy fella who loved to joke around with Jasper and tease him nonstop. I couldn't help but chuckle at them as they 'fought'. They reminded me so much of myself and my best friend Carlisle, and I told them so.
Carl and I had been friends forever. His family was extremely strict, religious and wealthy. We became instant friends and I think his parents were fine with me hanging out with their son because I came from a "good, Christian home." Yeah, my parents went to church every Sunday, and gave their tithes and offerings, but they were nowhere near as fanatical as Carl's parents. I guess my folks passed their test because other kids and their families weren't as lucky.
In our teens and early twenties, Carl and I got into all kinds of shenanigans. Fortunately, we never got into any real trouble, but we sure had a hell of a lot fun. I think Carl did a lot of those crazy things as a way to rebel against his strict upbringing. His family never allowed him to do anything. He had to come over to my house to watch TV or go to the movies. I found it amazing that Carl ended up being almost the complete opposite of his parents. He didn't adopt their narrow-minded views and was the most compassionate human being I'd ever encountered.
When we went to college, we were roommates, and Carl thought he'd died and gone to heaven. He could do whatever he wanted and took full advantage of his new freedom. While he had a rebellious streak, he never did anything too dangerous. He rarely drank alcohol and never touched drugs. He had dreams of becoming a doctor and didn't want anything to impede his goals. I really admired him for that. My goals may not have been as lofty as Carl's, but his persistence and determination encouraged me to follow my dreams, earning a business degree and starting one of the most successful construction/general contracting businesses in the area.
Carl is now the Chief of Surgery at the local hospital. He moved across country for several years while he built his career and I missed him something awful. I had plenty of other friends, but Carl was like a brother to me and not having him around was like trying to function without an arm or a leg. When he called to tell me he and his family were moving back, I hooted and hollered into the phone.
During his time away, Carl met his sweetheart of a wife, Esme, and had two kids, a boy and a girl. When Jasper came into our lives, I'd hoped that he'd be friends with Carl's kids, but they attended a private school and didn't have many opportunities to interact with him. Besides, Jasper always kept to himself, only having one really close friend, Peter. It seemed like some things never change, but I was glad Jasper had Edward. They seemed to keep each other in line and Jasper needed a good, stable friend in his life.
I don't know what I would have done without Carl's support after Renee's death and Jasper's leaving. He spent countless hours talking to me, supporting me and just being an overall great friend. He and Esme had me over for dinner more times than I could count, and that first Christmas without Renee or Jasper was made just a little bit more bearable because I spent it with his family. They are some incredible people and I'd do anything for them.
Once Edward dropped us off at Jasper's apartment, I excitedly entered the building. I couldn't wait to see how my boy had been living here in the big city. As he opened the door, he apologized for the apartment's small size. As I looked around, I did notice that it was small, but it looked clean and dry, so I couldn't really complain. He gave me a quick tour and said I could sleep in his room while he took the couch. I was going to tell him that wasn't necessary, but he held up his hand and shook his head before I even had a chance.
Since it was still pretty early in the day, Jasper asked me what I wanted to do. I hadn't seen him in such a long time, so all I wanted to do was I just sit, talk and spend time together. He seemed a little uneasy at first, but once we got started, he was fine. That's not to say that the subject matter wasn't heavy because it was…very. He finally revealed to me what his biological mother and stepfather did to him as a child and I'd never felt such anger in my life. To know that those two sorry excuses for human beings hurt my boy like that made me want to hunt them down and shoot them dead in the street. Jasper said he was much better off without them and that he didn't consider them his parents; Renee and I were his parents. Fighting back the tears, I apologized to him for the way I acted and that I'd contributed to his inability to get close to people.
As he explained what made him call me, I cringed. He told me that he'd suddenly had a flashback to that terrible night he left and ended up lashing out at Edward, almost losing him as a friend. I hated that my actions so many years ago affected him so deeply, but when he told me about his other friend, Alice, I noticed a light in his eyes that I'd never seen before. The way he spoke about her, explaining she was the reason behind his reconciliation with Edward and his calling me, I knew I had to meet this young lady. Fortunately, I wouldn't have to wait too long.
We spent the rest of the evening talking, watching DVDs and eating the best pizza I'd ever had. There were restaurants back at home that claimed to serve 'New York-style pizza', but this was the real deal and I didn't think I could ever go back to eating those poor imitations when I returned home.
The next day I found myself on a subway train talking to Jasper, Edward and his girlfriend, Angela. We were on our way to meet Alice in Times Square and the kids were going to take me on a tour of the city. Edward and Angela looked like the picture perfect couple. I don't know what that little girl did, but in her presence Edward turned into the kindest, gentlest man; a stark contrast to the silly, slightly obnoxious character he was when he was around Jasper. He and Angela seemed to balance each other. Where she tended to be shy, he was outgoing and encouraged her to more extroverted. Conversely, Angela's calming qualities helped mellow Edward's rambunctiousness. They seemed to be a great match.
Even though Jasper wouldn't reveal too much about Alice, I had a feeling she was pretty special to him. Like any good father, I hoped Jasper would find love and live happily ever after. Given Jasper's history and personality, I wasn't sure if things would turn out quite so fairy tale-like, but I still wanted him to find that special someone to share his life.
When we finally arrived in Times Square, I experienced sensory overload! Hundreds of people bustled past me, lights flashed and car horns honked. It was almost too much to take. Granted, I didn't live in a small town, but this, Times Square, was enough to make you long for quiet country living.
As we fought our way through the throngs of people, Jasper led all of us to the front of a building - I later found it's where the MTV studios are located. He immediately walked up to a petite young woman and wrapped his arms around her. I couldn't help but 'aww'. It was so gratifying to see Jasper like this. When he pulled away from her, he turned and pointed towards me. When my eyes met with Alice's, I froze.
"Dad, this is Alice…"
"Yes, I know," I answered.
Alice looked up at me and smiled brightly.
"Charlie! It's great to see you again!"
She ran towards me and threw her arms around my neck, squeezing hard. I looked at Jasper who looked as confused as ever.
"It's great to see you too. Small world!"
Letting her go, she stood in front of me and continued to smile.
"Isn't it? I can't believe you're Charlie…Jasper's dad!"
"Um, can someone please tell me what the hell is going on here," Jasper shouted.
Alice and I turned to him and noticed his face had changed from confusion to ever-increasing anger with each passing second.
"Son, remember when I told you about my best friend, Carl?"
He nodded his head.
"Well, this is his little girl, Alice!"
"Yeah, I've known Alice most of her life! I knew she moved to New York after college, but I can't believe this is your Alice!"
I began to worry a bit when Jasper didn't respond. He just stood in front of us straight-faced and calm. His demeanor scared me because if he had been screaming and angry, we'd at least know what he was feeling. This mask he was now wearing completely hid his emotions. I couldn't tell if he was happy, mad, scared or what.
He looked back and forth between Alice and me and narrowed his eyes.
"Was this all some sort of plan the two of you pulled together?"
Confused, I immediately answered.
"Not at all, Jasper. This is just a coincidence."
"Are you sure?" he said, now looking at Alice.
"Of course, Jasper! I had no idea Charlie was your dad."
"Why didn't I ever meet Alice when I lived with you?" he said at me.
"Well, Alice and her older brother, Emmett, went to a private school and you didn't seem too keen on meeting new kids. I didn't want to overwhelm you or make you feel like you had to make friends. You had your good buddy, Peter, and I just didn't want to push, Jasper."
As the words left my mouth, I started to get more and more nervous. Jasper was displaying his usual 'I don't trust you' attitude. His arms were crossed over his chest and his posture was very defensive. After our conversation yesterday, I thought we'd taken a big step in the right direction, but he was still so distrustful. What hurt even more was that he was distrustful of me and Alice, two people who were only looking out for his best interests.
"I-I just don't want to be manipulated. I feel so stupid."
Alice walked closer to him and laid her hand on his arm. He looked down at her with a mixture of shame, disgust and resignation on his face. I don't think he was disgusted with her at all, though. He was disgusted with himself.
"Jasper, you're not stupid and no one manipulated you. Daddy and Charlie have been friends since they were kids and it's just coincidence that we're all here today. It's fate! I promise you that neither Charlie nor I planned this. We just want you to be happy, Jas, remember that."
He nodded his head reluctantly and looked back and forth between us. Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath and stood still for a moment. When he opened his eyes, all anger and skepticism were gone. He smiled and I think Alice, Edward and I all breathed huge sighs of relief.