Title: Lessons learned in time

Characters: Bella and Charlie

Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight or the characters; these belong to one beautiful mind of Stephanie Meyer. However I do own the plot and get to play with the characters for a little while at least.

Prompt: "but it's your attitude, it's tearing me apart, it's ruining everything." From Linger by The Cranberries.

Rating: Mature themes and language.

Summary: Bella had been through enough, but her one link to her past may bring the end of her present. Can she realize that sometimes its better hold onto what you have then what's been taken away before it's too late? You're never too old to learn right?

"But it's just your attitude, it's tearing me apart, it's ruining everything!" He screamed at me as I stood there watching the man I had seen face so much finally lose it over me. Was I that bad of a child that he had to find the one thing that meant so much to me, the final reminder of what we had both lost in our lives? He wasn't the only one who lost her when that ass stole her heart, no while he lost a wife and lover; I lost my closest friend and most importantly my mother. Her old diaries were all that I had to remember her by since she had signed away all rights to me, leaving both me and my father when she couldn't talk dad into leaving the small town we both loved for the big cities.

"Are you even listening to me Bella? Why have you hidden these? You think I don't know what happened when she left, what it was like to have the fun loving Renee Marther's? Of course I do… but you bring her up like it doesn't bother you to see me in pain. It's taken both you and me nearly 10 years to get where we are and you've been lying to me, hiding something you promised to get rid of a year ago." His tears may have hurt, but my heart shattered. I held onto those diaries for one reason. I didn't remember what my mother looked like anymore, what she smelt like when she held me in her arms, what she sounded like when she sang me to sleep at night when the bad dreams woke me up. But when I read those diaries, written by her hand I could. Each smell, look, sound, and touch came back and I didn't want to lose that.

"I'm taking them with me Bella, and you will stay in this house for the next week, no friends, no phone, and no internet. You're grounded." His voice was final, as he stood on the small shards of my heart and crushed it into the sandy grains that were left. I watched as he shrugged his work jacket on and headed to the door; those books in hand.

"I hate you dad; I may love you with everything I am, but I hate you." I whispered as he walked past me, I felt his hand reach for me as I ran up the stairs. I didn't want him to see the tears that were falling down my face. the pain that I had been hiding for the last few years as I watched my friends turn to their mother and were able to talk about boys, learn about what was going on with my body, and be taught how to handle things that scared me. Being 15 and only having your father there to teach you things was fine most of the time; but when I needed a mother there to help me; not so much. Old Miss Cope next door was okay for the small things; but she didn't understand girls my age anymore. And when I got my first period I had to learn from the internet what was going on with me. I only ever asked dad to buy me tampons once. That was enough.

I threw myself onto the bed as I heard the cruiser leave the drive, knowing that I'd get a phone call to let me know he made it okay to the station, and to reassure himself that I was okay in the house. That the doors and windows were locked and I had the baseball bat beside the door if needed. I tried to remember the times when the woman I came to call Renee rather than mom was still here. Dad hadn't changed much in the house a coat of paint over the kitchen doors, taking down all the photo's that held her in them so it didn't hurt every time we walked by. I had gone looking for those pictures the day I found those diaries. I needed to connect to the woman that made half of me. Even if she gave me up to live the life of a single woman; she still was part of who I am; who I was.

But I couldn't remember her, not without her writing in front of me. It was like she was something my imagination cooked up to replace the missing link in me. She held so much but had taken it away after 5 years, I'd heard dad tell Uncle Billy that sometimes he wished she left after I was born. That it would have been better if she had left then; because apparently sometimes I still called out for her in my sleep. I was 12 at the time and I was being picked on because my father was the chief of police. After that night I learnt how to fight. Words only did so much, but the physical repercussions of causing hell for me were far worse than anything they could make up. Jake and his friends thought it was funny when I walked into the garage the next weekend practically begging to be taught how to throw a punch. Asking me why someone like me would need to learn something like that.

Whatever they saw in my eyes however shut them up when I told them I didn't want to hurt anymore. For weeks they asked me who it was that was hurting me; but I wasn't the one that was being hurt. I was the bully when I called out for mummy at night. After three months of hiding bruises from my dad and the teachers I knew how to take care of myself; I was ready for the next taunt.

Lauren is still scared of me to this day; her nose never set right and it's now slightly crooked from when it healed. She never mentioned that I wore boy's clothes again. I felt guilty though for hurting my dad regardless. Especially when he got called to the school to come and get me. And just as Jake and his friends had constantly asked who had been picking on me, dad asked me who taught me how to fight. Again I kept my mouth shut and took the punishment of both being suspended and the three weeks grounding. When word got back to the res I was pounced on by all of them. I didn't see the point really; so I got in trouble because I stood up for myself for the first time. Before I was allowed back in the garage I had to promise that next time I'd not throw the first punch; Paul…

After that things were quiet; well until I was 13 and apparently boys noticed I was a girl; and the girls at school realized that the boys would rather hang out with me then them. Jessica turned around in the middle of English and asked if I was gay or did I just prefer to have all the boys' attention. While I was able to turn my back on her comments, when she went for the cheap shot about my dad raising me like a boy so I must be gay I couldn't stop my fist from meeting her eye, nose or ribs. This time when dad got called to the school I didn't get suspended, but still got grounded. Apparently the teacher had heard it, and saw that I tried to ignore the comments. That was the day I decided that I'd only wear black.

Three months later the boys noticed that I wasn't interested in them; unless they were friends then I just didn't care. But they learnt that I wasn't gender biased. I'd kick their ass just as good as I did Lauren and Jessica. Well more specifically Tyler and Mike did. When Gym had finished I had been the last to be let out, which meant that I was still pulling my shirt down as I ran towards the school bus. It wasn't because I wanted everyone to see my stomach which had started to tone up with all the running and shit I did with Jake and the boys on the weekends; but when Coach Clapp had kept me back because she wanted to channel my anger towards something more constructive. Tyler pulled me to the side of the main school building and started to grab my very small tits; while Mike stood there and egged him on. I thought they were my friends; but apparently they thought I deserved to be taught how a girl should be like with a boy.

After kneeing Tyler in the ball's I started for Mike. Not sure how I managed it but they both ended up under my feet having me kick the shit out of them screaming that I'm not a toy and they don't get to touch me. The teachers had come looking for us when both Mrs. Newton and Miss Crawly called asking if their son's had been given detentions and not been notified. Mr. Mason had to pull me off them since I couldn't stop. He physically lifted me; telling me it's over and that the boys will be dealt with. What none of us students knew was that over the previous school break the school had surveillance camera's installed after a break in. Both boys were sent to the hospital with mild concussions and in Tyler's case a broken jaw and Mike a fractured collarbone. I didn't come out unscathed; I had two fractured fibs and some internal bruising near my kidneys.

Both mothers' had threatened press charges until they saw the video of what happened. I decided that I had dealt out punishment enough to not worry about pressing charges against them. They learnt their lesson about how a girl should be handled and it wasn't like that. At least this time I didn't get punished. Charlie was proud that I was able to take care of myself; however he did give me a can of mace to carry with me just in case.

Word got around that nobody messed with Swan; not unless you wanted to end up in the infirmary or hospital. I didn't care. It meant that I was free from torment until the next time.

Two months before my thirteenth birthday a new family moved in to town. The Cullen's had taken the town by storm. Apparently the young doctor and his wife had a thing for delinquent children and had 3 foster children plus their own two. I watched with amusement as the kids at school tried to befriend them, only to be scared off when they over stepped their boundaries. But the week after the family had settled in I saw Eric and some other kids surrounding the two girls. They looked petrified, and their brother's weren't around anywhere. After what happened to me with Mike and Tyler; I couldn't leave them there. When I marched up to the group, I saw the younger ones run off. They at least knew where to place their fear. And when they saw me coming, they knew I was pissed. Unfortunately for Eric and his friends they didn't get the memo I gave to Mike and Tyler.

When I started to pull the guys from surrounding the two girls some realized what was happening, but instead of walking away they stood back. Only two thought they'd show they were men. Eric's big brother was able to grab hold of my arms while Eric thought it would be fun to wail on me with his fists. I stood there for five minutes letting him go at me, waiting for him to tire himself out before I took my turn. My face was busted, again my ribs were fractured; but Eric and his brother were both expelled from the school for sexual harassment and physical assault. What none of us knew about Eric's older brother was that he had a rap sheet for things like this. He was sent to Juvi while his family left for good.

I got chewed out by Charlie for fighting, until Dr. Cullen came in and thanked me for saving his daughter's from what happened. But I understood where Charlie came from. I did; he was police chief and if he couldn't handle his own kid how could he handle a town? I toned it down a bit after that. What I didn't expect was to gain five shadows who wouldn't take no for an answer. Those shadows turned out to be great friends. The two girls, who I found out to be Rosalie and Alice, were scared of me at first considering they saw my face before it healed, but Edward, Jasper and Emmett respected me for what I did. It was actually good to have friends again. For once I could actually talk to someone and they didn't visibly shake in front of me.

School became bearable after things finally settled down. Not perfect because I still had a short temper when people mentioned my mom and what she did. But when I turned fourteen and Mrs. Cullen, Esme, took me shopping was the day I started to really wish I had a mom. I watched as she helped Alice and Rose pick out clothes and bra's; how they could joke about the budding romances in the house. I didn't knock it, they weren't blood related so what was wrong with it. That night I went looking for the pictures again. That night I found the diaries of Renee Marther's; my mom before she married my dad.

The knock at the door brought my back from wherever I had gone. It had turned dark outside and I hadn't even realized it. But I figured it was my dad at the door and he'd left his keys at the station. Since I didn't hear the phone ring I guess he was worried that I'd taken off or something. I stood up and looked outside the window, to be met with the sight of the cruiser; or should I saw a cruiser, because it wasn't my dad at the door it was Officer Sam Uley. One of the boys who had taught me to fight a few years ago. For him to be here, something had to be wrong. I panicked at first, thinking I had done something that had finally caught up with me and I was being charged. It wasn't until I felt his hand grab my arm and pull me towards him that made me realize that this wasn't about me.

"Come one Bella, we need to get to the hospital. There's been an accident." He murmured into my hair. I couldn't look at him.

I grabbed my jacket off the back of the door; threw my keys in my pocket and high tailed it to the open door of the cruiser. We sat there in silence, while a thousand different scenarios ran through my head. Someone had shot my dad; he'd been hit by a car; he'd been attacked by a bear in the woods. We were met with the entire force when we reached the hospital, and no-one would look me in the eyes. I felt Sam direct me through the corridors as people watched our silent trench through the halls. I wanted to scream, kick, punch anything and anyone until someone told me what the hell was going on… but I didn't. It wouldn't help anything or anyone. All it would do was possibly land me in jail.

I watched as the people who had known me since I was a little dot on a piece of photographic paper paced the small waiting area in the intensive care ward. Each one of us waiting on news of what was going on with my father. Comments like lost control, and other driver didn't make it buzzed through the room after a while. I was able to piece together what had happened; some idiot had decided to have a little too much fun and drive home. Somewhere along the line they lost control and hit my dad's cruiser on the driver's side. Dad was brought here and Dr. Cullen was operating on him as we sat out in the waiting area.

Three hours later the doors slammed open and in walked six faces I was glad to see. Though I wished it was because of something good instead of what it was. Esme pulled me into a vicious hug, whispering how it was going to be okay; that my dad was a strong man and he loved me…

And then it hit me. The last words I spoke to my dad. That I hated him; if her should die the last memory I would have of him would be that pained look when he told me that I had an attitude problem and that I had to think of other's and not just myself. That the last time I would feel his touch was when I pulled my arm from his hand.

I cracked. After all this time, after all the work I put in to keep myself from braking. It finally won. Sobs rattled my body until Esme had to sit down to hold me; while everyone I knew who cared about me stood there stunned at my reaction. I heard the whispers about me trying too hard to be made of stone; how it would eventually hit me. I guess everyone knew what I was truly like. Everyone but me. Was this the attitude that dad was talking about earlier? Was I really that callus and uncaring? I was hard, I had to be. After all those times when I was picked on because my own mother didn't want me, I had no choice but to harden up.

It was another two hours until the doors swung open at the opposite side of the waiting room. There in all his messy glory, stood Dr Carlisle Cullen. Thankfully he had taken off his scrubs and had washed his hands. The sight of my father's blood was something I would never want to see. I may be able to handle beating the kids at school while blood poured out of them; my dad's blood was something I never wanted to vision.

"Bella, he's pretty bad… we don't know…" I saw what he was trying to say, but I couldn't believe it as my dad we were talking about. The man who had quite literally raised the town's hell spawn and handled most of the shit with it. But he wasn't able to fight back from being hit? I was mad, not at him though, at me and the driver. I didn't care that the other driver hadn't survived; he was the reason that my dad was lying on the bed somewhere in this hospital and I wasn't able to look anyone in the eye.

"Can I see him?" I whimpered from Esme's arms. I think the last time anyone had ever heard me talk like this was when I walked into the garage that day when things started to change. I felt like that little girl again. Once more I was the bully that had been hurting my dad. He was angry with me when he left me; he was hurt because of me.

I felt Carlisle's arm wrap around me, as he pulled me off his wife and to his chest. "Not yet… we have to wait until he's stabilized first." His murmured in my hair. What was with everyone whispering in my hair; I thought. I felt the tears once more starting in my eyes, what would happen if he didn't make it? I'd never be able to handle the thought of him thinking that I never hated him, that I wanted her and not him. But most importantly that he would think that I didn't love him with everything I am, was, or ever will have.

"Please Carlisle; just for a little while." My hands fisted in his shirt. I didn't care what people thought of me anymore. I wanted desperately to be there when he opened his eyes. I felt his sigh and his body give in before he nodded and whispered that he'd let me in once my dad was settled.

"Bella, you should know that he's pretty banged up. Think that night after you helped the girls. It's going to be a lot worse than that." He told me. It was my turn to nod my head; to show everyone I could do this.

Carlisle and Sam led me towards the back rooms where the doctors could easily get there to help if needed. I saw Sue, the lady from the reservation who used to look after me after when Miss Cope was ill or just needed a break from dealing with a moody and rude teen. I saw a few other ladies that I knew from when I was younger, and each one shot me worried glances or pitied stares; and I wanted to desperately to tell them to take a fucking photo cause it would take longer. But I didn't. I was here for my dad, and they could all go to hell. All that mattered right now was that I would be there for my dad.

But I wasn't ready to see what was going to be lying there on the bed. There my father, the one person who had been there for me since my first breath; he laid there with tubes and machines surrounding him. His face covered in scratches and bruised beyond recognition. Even if he wanted to open his eyes he was so swollen that it just wouldn't be possible. The parts that weren't visible were covered in bandages and gauze. I didn't want to picture what was hidden under those white clothes that had tinges of red in some areas.

"Are you sure you want this Bella? We could come in with you." Sam asked as he pulled me closer to his chest. His grip gentle but still firm in case he needed to hold me up.

"I need to do this Sam. He needs to know I didn't mean it… I didn't mean it… I didn't mean it." I choked out, not realizing what I was saying.

I watched as both Sam and Carlisle exchanged worried looks. I knew what they were thinking, and what they were biting back from asking. Had it been any other time I'd have told them to shove it, but right now I just couldn't. I felt as Sam finally let go of my shoulders and nudged me towards the door. I covered my arms and hands in those gloves and the disinfectant wash before tying on the facial mask. There wasn't a handle for the room; rather it was those sliding doors that you saw in Si Fi movies. I took a final deep breath and walked into the room towards the bed. The sounds of the machines helping him breath, the constant beep from the monitor that told me his heart was beating with a little help; and the sound of the pump as it pushed the medication into his body so he wouldn't feel the pain he was undoubtedly in were music to my ears.

I walked over towards the chair that was beside the bed, I needed to look at him; I needed to see him. Anything that showed me that he was still there. That my dad was still there somewhere in all that mess of tubes wires and bandages. But I saw the moustache gently move with each breath. I saw the creases near his eyes from when he used to laugh so hard his eyes would crinkle so badly that I didn't think he was able to see out of them. But he was there, my dad was under all that; and that was all that I cared about.

I sat down and picked up his hand, only for the heart monitor to slightly increase with the touch of my fingers. Panic ran through me for a few seconds until it settled down.

"Hi daddy… I'm here." I whispered. I remembered that I read somewhere that even though he was out cold that he'd be able to hear me. I wanted him to hear me; to know he wasn't alone in this cold sterile room.

I sat there just watching his chest rise and fall and praised whoever it was up there that kept it going for the rest of time. I couldn't think of not having him there with me. I needed him more than I needed air to breath, my eyes to see or food to eat. A few nurses came in from time to time just o check him. At the back of my mind I could hear the words Carlisle had said to me, that it was only for a short time. If that was the case I was going to take each and every second and make it count. I gently kissed his cheek before I settled in for the time I was allowed to be here.

I watched as dad and I drove to the local dairy queen, it was one of those days when it was hot, and I had begged him to take me there. I wanted to spend some time with the one person that was there for me, the one person who whispered in my ear every night that he loved me and would never leave me alone. When we reached the building it was shut, as Mr. Stanly had to close the shop for a family emergency. I cried as I realized that I wasn't going to be able to sit in there and just talk to my dad. We headed back to the cruiser but for some reason he steered us towards the park across the road. There the play gym was practically deserted of any kids or their parents. After falling three times I made it towards the swings where I felt two big hands lift me up and sit me on the seat. "Hold on Bell's." he whispered in my ear. And I did; I soared higher then I had ever reached before; laughing as each time I passed him his smile would grow. It was a year after mom had left, and it was the first time I had seen my dad smile a real smile since she had left.

"But the big boys will pick on me dad." I whined as we pulled into the small driveway that led towards the red home of my uncle and cousins. Dad was going fishing with Uncle Billy and Harry, and Jake and his friends were meant to look after me. Lately that meant taking me down the beach and dumping me there when their girlfriends came down. Only Emily would play with me, and then it was only because she felt bad since I was meant to be enjoying my time here. Suddenly my dad smiled at me and reached over the back of my seat. I had no clue what was going on, but I liked to see my dad happy. It was happening more and more often as time went by.

I squeaked as I felt something being placed on my head; which only made my dad laugh a big belly laugh. I really liked that sound. "Then you're just gonna have to come with us." I nodded my head so fast and hard that the hat actually fell off. Unclipping the seatbelt I launched over the leavers between the seats and hugged my dad. "Thank you, thank you, thank you." I mumbled as he wrapped his arms around my small body. I spent the entire day with my uncle's and dad. The only thing I caught that day was a cold but I didn't care; I was with my dad and that's all that mattered. It was my ninth birthday and it was the best present he could have ever given me.

For my tenth birthday I had asked for a puppy, because I was scared that some big animal was going to come out of the trees and take everyone away from me. The puppy would warn us if someone or something was going to attack the house. But for months dad had told me we couldn't have one because it could run off into the woods and get lost. I had given up on ever being able to have that puppy since he was right.

But when the day of my actual birthday came I wished to be invisible. Lauren had started to pick on me at school because she was able to wear silly earrings and necklaces; while I wore only the cross dad had bought me on my first communion. I felt so bad that I didn't get to be a normal girl because it meant I'd have to get holes put in my ears and I really didn't want that. Nobody even knew it was my birthday today and so the day was really bad. But as the bell rang and I walked out of the classroom and the building itself I saw the big black and white cruiser standing at the front of the school, my dad leaning up beside it with something in his arms. I didn't care what it was, I was just glad he had come to pick me up today. I ran towards him, catching myself twice as I almost fell over before I latched onto his leg. I didn't care who saw it; him just being here made me feel better. "Happy birthday baby girl. I love you." He laughed as he pried me off his leg with one hand and held out a little ball of golden brown fur that stuck its head up and licked me. I called him wolf.

"Bella…" a croaky voice woke me up from my perch. I didn't even realize I had fallen asleep. In my sleep riddled state I looked at out surroundings and realized we were in a hospital. Logic made me think it was because of me; so I checked myself for needles and other hospital junk. But there wasn't anything on me.

That's when it hit me that it was my dad in the bed and not me. "Daddy… you're awake." I threw myself at him, barely stopping when I realized that I wasn't able to cuddle him without hurting him. I couldn't stop the sob that escaped when I realized that I couldn't touch him. I didn't care about the tears that were running down my face. My dad was awake.

"I'm sorry… I didn't mean to… I just couldn't… I don't want to go… I want to stay… please you have to believe me… I love you daddy. I'm sorry I just couldn't remember." I blubbered out not making sense but he understood all the same.

"Shh, baby. I didn't know. It's not your fault; but she doesn't know what she's missing." He ran his hand through my hair, catching in the knots that had formed during the night.

"Please don't leave me. I'll change my attitude, I'll talk when things are getting to me; I'll start wearing other colors other than black. Just please don't leave me." I whimpered not able to look at him as he palmed my cheek. I felt as he wiped the tears away.

"You'll never be alone. I'm not going anywhere without you Bella." I heard the relief and the emotions in my dad's voice. Gently I kissed his palm not knowing where else I would be able to touch him without it hurting him.

A few minutes later the doors slid open and Carlisle stood there with tears in his eyes. I didn't care. My dad was going to be okay. As long as he came out of this I'd do anything for him.