Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. Stephenie Meyer created this little world I like to play in.
Sorry for not updating last week. Real life got in the way. I do already have two more chapters to the beta, so I promise they're coming...sooner than later.
The wise man in the storm prays to God
Not for safety from danger,
But for deliverance from fear
Ralph Waldo Emerson
"Darlin', we're here to love you now…just like she would have."
She took a deep breath at the promise in his voice and snuggled her face into his chest as if it was the safest place in the world.
Jasper…reformed blood thirsty vampire…snuggled her even closer, as if it was the most natural thing in the world to do. His murmured words, however, said it all. "Victoria, I promise, we're here now…I'm here, and you'll never be alone."
Over Victoria's head, Jasper looked over to Carlisle in bemusement and a degree of shock, confused questions filing his eyes. It was an unfamiliar, wholly alien feeling to actually hold a living, breathing, warm human in his arms and experience absolutely no desire to drink. It was an uncharacteristic look for my sibling; he was normally very self-assured at this point in his immortal existence. Leave it to him to be pierced to the quick by a ten year old when he'd faced down armies of blood-thirsty newborn savages. But knowing how much the young human he was cradling meant to him, it made odd sense. Terror was something that Jasper rarely fell prey to…but at the moment…that precise, incipient emotion threatened to overtake him. The eternal warrior was unsure that Victoria had properly grasped the fact that she was his descendant and hesitated to remind the child for fear of misstepping and being rejected. Carlisle interpreted his plea correctly.
Rising and moving toward the sofa next to where Jasper held Victoria, Carlisle's mind was calm and clear, his movements sure and unassuming. Here were the famous bedside manners he'd become known for. Knowing that Victoria might need him, Carlisle glanced at Charlie who joined him. "Sweetheart, why don't you come sit here on the couch by Charlie and me? I would like to talk with you about something.
"'Kay," she said softly, giving Jasper another quick hug, before stepping back.
However as might've been expected, instead of releasing him, she tugged at his hand, making him follow her. She patted the fabric beside her for him to sit as she energetically jumped onto the seat to Charlie's side. As Alice and Jasper beamed at each other at the child's easy familiarity, Carlisle pulled the sofa table close to her and sat in front of them. It would've been just as easy for him to squat, but he was doing everything he could to make this easier, less unnatural and scary.
"Victoria, Charlie has told me that you've been asking about the wolves you've heard in the woods. You've heard their howls in the night time, yes?"
The girl gave Charlie a quick glance then returned to Carlisle's smiling face. "They come close to our house." She bobbed her head, her eyes wide, as if to emphasize her words. "But Charlie told me that I don't have to be afraid of them."
Carlisle smiled and nodded once to her in affirmation.
"Yes." He glanced up to Jacob and Seth, whose faces were lit with barely suppressed amusement and anticipation. "They're our friends, and no, not a single one of them would harm you. In fact, they are honor bound to protect you, just as we are." Victoria's eyebrows knit together at the comment in apparent confusion, but he continued on before she could ask any questions. Gesturing toward the floor-to-ceiling back window overlooking the deck, he took his hand and pulled her up and over to the window where she could see the backyard more clearly. "Can you look out the window…towards the river?" he directed her.
On cue, Sam and Paul slowly stepped out into the light. Her lips formed a large "O" as she saw the horse-sized wolves. "How did they get so big?" she asked in great surprise; her mind flashing back to National Geographic specials that she had seen of grey wolves in Yellowstone and Canada. She immediately recognized the disparity in size between the ordinary wolves and that of Sam and Paul. Then the rest of the pack, all in wolf form, followed behind Sam and Paul. They all sat back on their haunches, looking toward us.
The child opened her mouth several times then she gripped Carlisle's hand tightly and whispered, "How many are there? Why are they here?"
I was pleased in a perverse fashion that she was showing a little healthy fear; I was beginning to wonder. The supernatural world was full of dangerous creatures, and the sooner she understood that, the better. Like Bella had, Victoria was taking this all too well…but the really strange part was about to be revealed so we would see how she reacted to it.
"I asked them to come, so that you could see them." Carlisle remained very still.
Victoria stared at Carlisle, then to the rest of the family, her eyes resting finally on Jasper, who gave her a small nod. Jacob laughed low in his throat, but otherwise did not speak, content to let Carlisle continue taking the lead.
"You talk to animals too?" she squeaked, her attention focusing back toward our father. He'd just unknowingly perpetuated the angel image more. She had a very Disney-esque view of how our secret world all worked.
Emmett however chuckled, disparaging thoughts about the wolves flying through his head. All sorts of jokes about dogs and obedience lessons threatened to erupt, and Jacob glared at him with a low growl, drawing Victoria's attention again. The Alpha did not need to be a mind reader to know what my big brother was thinking.
"Look again," Carlisle encouraged Victoria gently.
Her thoughts raced as she turned back to find Sam and Paul in human form, surrounded by the others. Thankfully they'd put both shirts and shorts on.
"Wait, that's Sam…" Panic was beginning to filter into her mind, which made me feel infinitely better. I was beginning to worry that she was in shock, even though her heartbeat was strong and her vitals were just fine. "Where did the wolves go?" She looked to Jasper and Charlie both for explanation. The theories - as to who the Quileute truly were - filtering through the edge of her mind were too fantastical for her to believe, even though they were true.
What had happened was actually a difficult thing to describe to a young child.
Then Stefanie chuckled lightly, coming over to Victoria and touching her on her shoulder. She waved at her mate and mate to come forward. Charlie and Jasper joined her from the couch; Charlie with a twinkle in his eyes, and Jasper with a slight snort followed by a smile. Victoria took my brother's hand in hers, letting go of Carlisle's
"Seth, care to give a little demonstration?" my granddaughter asked, humor lacing her voice.
Grinning broadly, Seth raised an eyebrow at Stefanie. It was a ridiculous sight…him challenging her…as if he would deny anything his imprint asked of him. Victoria smiled uncertainly at Stefanie and her request, but she had no reason to distrust my granddaughter. As gracefully as I'd come to expect of the wolves, Seth rose, walked over to the sliding glass door near Carlisle and the girl, stepping through. Then flashing a brilliant smile at her, he leapt off the back porch and phased in midair, his sandy fur exploding out of his skin as he landed on all fours to join the rest of the pack.
The air rushed out of Victoria's lungs in a near-gasp. "Charlie?" She scooted just a tad closer to Bella's father but didn't let go of Jasper's hand.
"Jacob did the same thing in front of me a few years ago. He was trying to get me to understand something very important." Charlie's voice was calm and reassuring. "Something about Bella. Jacob nearly gave me a heart attack."
Bella snorted loudly from where she sat. She had mostly forgiven Jacob for his rash behavior that day, but it was not something she'd forget anytime in the next few decades. Nor would I. The wolf just chuckled in response.
"Jacob?" Victoria looked to my son-in-law. Then she looked to William, wondering if Jacob turned into a wolf as well, would William? Her eyes widened even more as she stared at both; she was attempting to picture them as immense wolves like the ones outside.
I wanted to say, "Not yet, but it's coming" in regards to her intense curiosity about the boy she already felt a connection with, but her next thoughts stopped me.
"Sam, Paul, Seth, and Jacob are werewolves?" Her voice was almost strangled.
Images of the latest teenage horror novel ran through her mind…boys bursting out of their shirts, howling at the moon, and teeth gnashing. That her mind also skittered over the werewolves' enemies, unnaturally attractive, fang-toothed bloodsuckers, was actually a lucky thing for us. Our world was becoming smaller with all the Hollywood caricaturized versions of our immortal presence. Not one of them had it exactly right, but they were close, Brams Stoker's Dracula, at Marcus' instigation to punish Vladimir and Stefan, having started it all.
William finally stepped to Carlisle's side. "Wolves…just wolves. Not werewolves," he said in defense of his father's legacy.
Her mind ran very quickly, putting the dots together, and what she had to say next would render everyone speechless. "So if they're werewolves, and you're…" she turned back to Carlisle "…not angels?"
He shook his head slowly, the compassion on his face clear. "Well…" he chuckled looking at Esme, his love clear "…I think my wife and children can be very angelic…" he looked to Emmett before amending "…at times. But no, we aren't angels. Yet, that doesn't mean we aren't good."
The girl suddenly felt Jasper's cold hand still clutching hers and her mind jumped very quickly on how warm William always was when she touched him. Her mind echoed the only other thing she could manage, the thing that would explain the polar opposites, the thing that had filtered through her mind. She swallowed loudly, then very quietly said, "Vampires?"
She couldn't hear the gasp throughout the room; all of my family, save Alice, were amazed she'd guessed. Alice sat with a smug expression as she looked at Jasper as if to say "See?"
"Yes," Carlisle said softly, and waited for her to continue.
"Good vampires?" she squeaked.
"We try to be," Jasper replied softly as he released her hand to touch her shoulder gently.
"But werewolves…" she ignored the clarification that William gave her "…and vampires are enemies. Mortal enemies. I watched Underworld. They don't like each other…" she glanced over to Nessie and Jacob, having worked out that Ness must be a vampire if she was Bella's and my child "…unless they're in love." She was imagining the female and male characters in the movie she'd seen. Yes, love explained it all for us.
"Where did you see that movie, young lady?" Charlie asked in a gruff voice, ever the dad. He wasn't happy, having been very careful to limit what she saw.
Victoria blushed at his stern look and stuttered a little. "Uh, umm… When I spent the night with Jamie, we stayed up and watched horror movies." Her mind flashed to a "girls' night" seeing the movie in question and giggling at the characters.
Charlie glared at me for some reason, but then his thoughts came clear. He wanted to know what else she'd seen and was planning on picking my brain after I did hers.
"So good vampires and werewolves only eat bad guys, right?" she squeaked again, the reality finally having caught up with her. Amazingly, she still didn't think of removing her hand from Jasper's.
As Jacob screwed up his face and gagged at the thought of actually consuming a human, never mind that he had actually eaten deer and elk in his long sojourns from both my wife and Nessie, my family laughed. A good many laughed at me, because she'd come to a conclusion that had caused me ennui for years. Carlisle, at least, had the wherewithal to start speaking again. "The wolves eat human food, my family and I…we don't drink from humans, only animals like deer and bear."
Her eyes unexpectedly filled with tears. "You kill Bambi?" She was horrified.
How ironic that she would find it more horrendous that we feasted off woodland creatures than humans! But considering what she'd gone through, it was conceivable that she would desire to have "bad guys" face sure and swift retribution. When I heard her next thought, I knew how big her heart was, because without reservation, she'd accepted our crazy, supernatural world.
She turned from Jasper to face our father and placed her small hand on Carlisle's cold forearm. Her next quick leap of logic astounded me. "Will you do me a favor? When you track down the person that killed my mama, will you please kill him?"
I was amazed at her bloodthirsty plea. Jasper's eyes sharpened on Victoria as his mind flashed quickly to his own thirst for vengeance against the ancient woman before touching on just how like Victoria was to him. A flash of the same emotion came from Ellie before being swiftly suppressed.
Everyone in the room looked to me at her question, and she once again was puzzled by their focus on me. But instinctively, the words were pulled out of me. "That is a promise that I can assure you I will keep."
"See, you really are angels," she repeated, and squeezed Jasper's hand.
And just like that, the miraculous nature and open-mindedness of youth took over. Victoria thought it was "amazing cool" that she knew of the immortal beings that lived around her. Even with Carlisle's cautionary words about the necessity of keeping the secret and his warning to her as to how it would affect us if she spilled the beans, even unwittingly, she remained buoyant. To see the joy on Jasper's and Alice's faces as they spent the afternoon getting acquainted made even the possibility of her slips worthwhile.
We watched in the early evening darkness as Jasper buckled a sleeping Victoria in my dad's SUV. She'd spent the day learning as much as she could about Jasper and Alice, and I couldn't help but smile at how content Jasper looked.
"Dad, thanks." I squeezed Charlie's arm gently.
"For being willing to help us, to help Jasper. She means as much to you as she does us. It would be easy to be selfish with her attentions."
"Bells, when you came to Sue and me and asked for us to take her in, I'll admit that I was taken back. I'm an old man, and I'm not so sure that I had any responsibility in you turning out to be such a good kid. But she's good, like you are." His silver-streaked mustache twitched. "She'll need you sooner or later. You know I'm not getting any younger."
His words scared me. "WHAT! EDWARD!" I screamed and then followed up with "Carlisle!" Was Charlie trying to tell me something? Well, at least I would find out soon enough, I thought as my husband and father-in-law appeared beside me.
"He implied that he wasn't doing well," I informed them quickly, although they would've heard what Charlie said. I saw Carlisle already assessing his heart, and Edward reached for his arm, checking his pulse, as I patted his chest gently.
"Whoa! Bells, calm down. The ticker is still fine." He stilled my gently patting hands. "I'm just saying…" His eyes were round with shock at how fast my husband and father-in-law had appeared, even though he had seen us move like that many times in the past decade. He actually batted at their hands…as if he could move them.
"Well!" I huffed, crossing my arms across my chest as if to ward off the pain that used to pulse there. "You just can't say things like that. You scared me."
He chuckled, smoothing his mustache down with his fingertips. "I was just saying that one day she's going to need you, and it is better to go ahead and meet her so that she'll feel comfortable. And my great grandson, he isn't going to be able to wait long, you know. Us Swan men…we're lady killers."
He cocked his eyebrow at me in challenge before laughing with me. Lady Killer…right. I was remembering that he'd once adamantly declared himself a perpetual bachelor. Now he had a wife, a new daughter, and grandchildren. It pained my heart that Renee couldn't experience all of this with us, and he must have sensed my sadness.
"She would've been proud of you, Bells." Edward paused at my side while my father spoke. "Of you and Edward, and Renesmee, and the babies. You've done good, kid. Real good. Now let me go get this new fledgling you've brought me home and in her bed." He started to walk toward the truck, and I heard Edward quietly snort just before my dad turned back to me. "Hey, I've got an idea. You and I haven't had some alone time in a while. Come fishing with me tomorrow?"
Fishing? Was he serious? Seeing the earnest look in his brown eyes, I realized he was. A smile breaking across my face, I couldn't refuse. "What time?"
His answer would've caused me to moan had I been human. "Five in the morning. You gotta get up early, Bells." Then realizing what he said, he chuckled. "Well, for you, I guess that won't be a problem. Just meet me at the house."
"Okay," I said, feeling a surprising amount of enthusiasm about it.
"You should invite Carlisle along," Edward offered up with a smirk as my father and Sue pulled down the drive.
I grinned as I heard Carlisle growl and then reach around me to shove Edward. "I have no reason to punish Carlisle like that." His disgust with fishing was well known, and we could hear Nessie and Henry snickering inside the house. They'd terrorized their grandfather enough over the years with that smelly activity; there was no need for me to take up that cause.
"No, I think the idea of going alone with Charlie sounds wonderful," I announced and then turned to catch Edward's content look. He leaned over and kissed my forehead softly in pleasure.
"Maybe I'll bring the grandkids out to meet you afterward and make them clean the fish," he offered up, to be quickly answered by several moans inside from said children.
The thought of fishing with my dad, to be joined by my husband and grandkids afterwards seemed just about perfect, and all I could do was grin in anticipation.
The river water was idyllic and my father's silence comforting as we sat in his old boat. The fishing trip had made me realize something; to my dad, fishing was more about the experience than the absolute conquering of aquatic life. If a fish inadvertently found its way onto his hook, it was a bonus. But for the most part, as with many men, fishing was a time to think and ponder and commune with nature, which was something I'd come to appreciate since becoming a vampire. I'd always known that my lack of verbosity came from my dad; I'd just never realized how much my comfort with just "being" came from him as well.
Had I not been able with my vampire senses to see the slight twitches of his back and the periodic adjustments of his rod as he looked across the water, I would've thought him asleep. Occasionally, he'd reach for the thermos to take a sip of coffee, but after our initial conversation, our talk had been but a few words here or there. Honestly, even without a great amount of talk, it had been one of my best experiences with him, and I was grateful for the opportunity. This was how Charlie and I had always been, just comfortable around each other with no need for words or unnecessary interaction.
The morning had been cool, the surface of the water barely disturbed by the soft wind that occasionally fanned across it. A brave bird or two heralded the morning, but since I was there, I was certain that the wildlife that would've normally greeted my father had scattered quickly. I could hear the occasional sound from far off, but I was certain that it was an unnaturally quiet morning for my father. I thought to ask him if he missed the sounds of nature, but let it slip away, the peace surrounding us too seductive to disturb. For me, I'd allowed the cool mist to coat my skin and hair, but as the mist burned off, I'd enjoyed the breeze. Charlie had wrapped up in a coat in response to the briskness, grumping over at my apparent lack of concern.
It had been an extremely enjoyable morning, more so than what I expected my husband was going through. Henry had suggested they attempt the whole "switch" thing, and I'd almost cancelled on my dad, wanting to be there for Edward. But Edward had insisted otherwise.
"Love, we aren't going to start with anything major, and I'll be surrounded by the others, so I absolutely refuse for you to turn down the opportunity to spend time with Charlie." This had been said as he kissed along my collarbone, my body feeling almost boneless from the lovemaking he'd already lavished on me throughout the night.
He'd been so sincere in his desire for me to visit with my dad, that it had been hard to refuse his pleas. My husband could be a very persuasive man, so as the morning had progressed into lunchtime, I'd done what Edward had suggested and just enjoyed being with my father. But I couldn't help but smirk in remembrance of the enticing package I'd left at home.
"I love you," he murmured into my hair, pulling me up against him. His words had been so fervent, as if he had to always put the deep level of emotions he felt into each syllable. He treated me like a delicate prize, one he needed to cherish and nurture, and my breath had whooshed out of me at the feel of him against me, reminding me of how we'd spent the night and what I'd be doing again. Even still, it was hard to peel myself away from him.
"I love you too, Edward. Have fun with the boys, and I'll see you at lunch." Of course I hadn't been able to say the words without running my hand along his jaw and then pushing my fingers through his hair for a quick tug.
Edward had chuckled and waved goodbye at me as I drove away. With the wind blowing his hair slightly, I'd had the almost overwhelming urge to turn back around to muss it back into place. As if he'd known what I was thinking, he'd blown me a kiss as I turned the corner.
Feeling myself grow antsy at my separation from Edward, I sighed slightly in satisfaction when Charlie straightened his back as he turned to me and said, "Well Bells, I guess it's time we row this thing back in and go meet Edward and the little ones. I've got enough fish to teach them how to clean." He patted the small cooler chest full of ice and stinking fish as if to prove the point.
Right… He just wanted, in long standing grandparent tradition, to torture them with the smells, and I, for one, could say I wasn't going to miss that aspect of this little adventure. My alone time with Charlie, sure…the smell, not so much.
"Allow me," I told him, grabbing the oars. For a moment, he looked disturbed at my offer, but then he chuckled.
"I guess we will get there quicker if I let you do it, huh?"
We hadn't been on shore long when I heard the sound of a group approaching, the noise of wind and shaking leaves growing louder, and then something raised the hair on the back of my neck. I heard sobbing. I pushed Charlie behind me as I crouched with a growl. But then Ellie crashed through the trees and burst onto the bank not too far from us. William, Stefanie, and Victoria still behind her and hidden, I saw the indisputable fear on her face…and the panic. I straightened up immediately.
"NONNA! she screamed, using the term of endearment as the twins did. But the warmth I usually experienced at hearing it was overshadowed by the panic in her face…and then extinguished totally as her words destroyed my life.
"She got him! The Ancient One…she has Nonno!"
AN: Um…I'm hiding now.
To ColdOnePaul, thank you so much for making this immensely better! My little story transforms under your red ink.