Title: A Universal Obligation
Co-Authors: Mcgt and Katiecav
This was originally written for the Strictly Charlie Contest – We placed second in the public vote! Thanks to everyone who voted. We both appreciate it!
Thanks to our pre-readers: PrincessAmber & Dj Lilbit and to our betas: inkedupmom, leckadams & babylopez2008
Summary: Death is often seen as the end of your life's journey. What if for Charlie and Bella it was merely the beginning.
A Universal Obligation
"Death is a universal obligation. It does not matter what sex, race, or religion we are. It does not matter how much money we have. It does not matter what we have accomplished in our lives. Death is the inevitable "debt" we incur the moment we are born. It can bankrupt the entire accumulation of our experience at any time."
-AdI Da Samraj
Forks had always been what he considered a sleepy small town, but today it was downright deserted. A blanket of misty rain covered the town as if even Mother Nature knew the events of the day. The closed signs hung in the windows of the storefronts on Main Street and the only real sign of life ironically came from the small funeral home where people were rushing to their vehicles to follow the hearse carrying the Grand Marshal of the somber parade towards Charlie Swan's final resting place. His final resting place.
Charlie hovered above the scene neutrally, still not adequately grasping what had become of him. One minute he was having a warm cup of coffee that one of his officers brought to him while catching up on the sports page of the Seattle Times, the next he was watching the paramedics take his slumped body out of the station on a blanket covered stretcher. While he knew he wasn't still alive, he hadn't yet experienced the light at the end of the tunnel making him wonder what was going on.
Isn't there supposed to be a light? A place to go? A heaven of some kind? I'm obviously dead so why am I still here? Is this all there will be for the rest of eternity?
As he watched the crowd, he was astounded by the amount of people that had stood to speak during his service. Charlie was a solitary man who held a strict sense of ethics and morals, almost always seeing things as either right or wrong. There was very little grey area in his eyes. He believed that while people respected his authority, they never got past his gruff exterior. There were so many stories to the contrary though. From the loving soft spoken story of how he rescued Mrs. Thompson's cat from a tree to the tearful account of his work with the school's literacy program, none of them made him reconsider his position in this town as much as Janice Cope. When she stood and spoke of how he had saved her son's life by arresting him, that by opening her eyes to her son's bad decisions, she had been able to save him from a life of crime and possible drug addiction. Charlie didn't know what to make of her statement. He never knew that his life had touched so many in such positive ways.
Gazing down to where the preacher was saying a final prayer, he realized that not all the people in attendance were his good friends and members of the force, but also a number of people that he barely knew. Listening in, he understood that the mayor had actually called for the town to shutter its doors as a day of mourning so that the populace could pay their respects. In all of his thirty years serving this community, he never felt more loved and appreciated than he did right now, in death.
When his casket was lowered into the soggy earth, he couldn't take his eyes off of the one person who captured his heart from the moment he laid eyes on her. His daughter, Isabella, stood somberly throwing the first of many white roses atop of his cherry wood casket. Charlie hadn't seen his beloved daughter for a few months and now that she was standing above the hole in the ground meant to hold his earthly body, he saw how different she appeared. She looked thinner and older, as if time had sucked the life right out of her. He could tell that she was struggling with her fast paced life in Seattle and hadn't been happy for a while. He was overwhelmed with guilt and anger that she'd kept all of this from him while he was still alive; his only solace was that perhaps his death could bring about a change in his stubborn daughter.
Charlie's heart clenched as he watched his beautiful girl stand stoically as the mourners would walk past the casket, dropping in their rose and offering her their condolences. Her face was a mask of pain and sorrow but no tears escaped her composed facade. She shook hands politely with the stream of funeral-goers barely able to nod a response to their sympathies.
When Esme Cullen could finally take no more, she stepped out of line taking Bella into her arms, allowing the distraught girl the comfort she so desperately needed. This small gesture of maternal love triggered Bella to finally breakdown, crumbling to the damp ground in a heap. She wailed her grief in a painful sounding sob just as Edward; one of his favorite officers flew to her side almost as if her grief was his own. Picking Bella up bridal style, he rushed her to the back of the limousine and out of the still drizzling rain and the prying eyes of the crowd.
I won't breakdown. Charlie wouldn't want that. I will be strong, at least until I'm alone.
That thought scared her. Bella still could hardly believe he was gone. Her father, the man who cleaned all of her cuts and kissed them better, the man who had supported her decision in her career even if he had wanted more for her, the man who had served the small town of Forks for her whole life, was dead. Her world, her support, was gone.
I will not cry here. Not in front of the whole town.
She bit down on her lower lip. Yes, thoughts of loneliness would have to wait. So she stored it all up inside of her. She couldn't think about the past or the future, she had to be numb. So she was. She sat there as the dutiful daughter throughout the entire service staring at nothing and no one.
When Esme Cullen pulled her into a motherly embrace, the fragile dam that she had built around her grief broke. It was as if that one gesture filled with so much love opened the locked door to Bella's thoughts. Bella bawled loudly on the woman's shoulder while Esme tried desperately to soothe her as memories from her childhood bombarded her. Memories and feelings that would never be again.
Bella was barely aware of being transferred into different, stronger, and much manlier arms and being carried away from the prying eyes of the crowd.
She expected him to just leave her somewhere, but he didn't. He sat in the back seat of the car the funeral home had provided and held her in his lap rocking slightly back and forth whispering soothing words in a deep tenor.
"I'm sorry," Bella said when she had finally calmed down enough to realize she had just spent who knows how long on a strangers lap and probably ruined his jacket in the process. Her cheeks reddened with embarrassment and she sat back trying to untangle herself from him. He let her move to sit next to him on the bench seat. It was then that she noticed that he was in a policeman's uniform. Not just any stranger, someone who had worked with her father.
"Bella, please don't apologize," the bronze haired police officer told her, handing her a handkerchief from his pocket.
"You're Officer Cullen, right?" Bella asked delicately, wiping at her nose and eyes. She would have remembered that hair anywhere. Esme had two sons, Edward and Emmett, both of which had worked with Charlie at Forks PD. She had met all the Cullen's just recently, but she had immediately liked them and they seemed like good people.
"Yes, but call me Edward please."
"Edward then," Bella said with a nod, relaxing slightly. "Thank you," she said after another quiet moment.
"It's nothing Bella, really."
"No, it is. I told myself I was going to be strong. That I wouldn't do that," she gestured toward the direction of the funeral where she could see Esme directing people to their cars. "I tried. I tried for Charlie, but I just couldn't. It just hit me when Esme hugged me...I'm all alone now." Tears were running down her cheeks again and she wiped at them desperately.
"I don't think you're as alone as you think."
Charlie swore that Edward had looked in his eyes at that moment. Was it possible that the boy knew that he was there? Charlie had watched as Edward cradled Bella gently in his arms, waiting patiently for her tears to slow before offering her his handkerchief to dry her eyes. All the while, Esme stood front and center directing his other Deputies, friends, and family to head over to the town's rec center. He wished there was something he could do to help his daughter cope with his untimely death.
Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted Dr. Gerandy, the town's general practitioner as well as the town's only medical examiner, speaking with one of the newer recruits to Forks PD, Paul Matau.
Charlie had disliked Paul from the moment he was forced into accepting him onto his team. He was one of those lazy kind of men who only got where he was because of some well-placed nepotism in the administration of the force. Even with his high placed connections, he still only ended up in the quiet town of Forks. Paul didn't appreciate the quaintness of the logging community or how everyone knew everything about their neighbors. However, Paul was an outsider and he was treated like one by much of the town, much to his dislike. Most of Charlie's recruits came upon the job from birth. True blue blooded families were a staple of Forks PD. In fact, most of the officers had lived here their whole lives and loved their town just as much as Charlie Swan had.
"Hey Doc, good to see you," the russet skinned officer greeted the Doctor amiably.
"Afternoon, Paul. Is there anyone manning the station? It'd be a good day to rob a bank in the city of Forks. It looks like the whole town's turned out."
"Yeah, actually Emmett volunteered to stay behind. Said he wasn't much for funerals. Listen, word around the station is that the Chief had a crappy ticker. Is that all you found?" Charlie's ears perked up at this question, hearing a hint of deception laced within the young man's inquiry.
"Well, you know Charlie and his love for all things meat and potatoes. Couldn't find anything conclusive, but didn't see any signs of foul play either." Paul was bobbing his head but Charlie didn't miss the slight smirk that quickly appeared then vanished. He knew deep in his soul that his heart was just fine especially since the force mandated annual physicals and while he couldn't deny loving lots of unhealthy foods, he also knew his body was fit and strong.
"We're all pretty shaken up about it. No one wants to face their own mortality and all that. Guess I'll see you around." Before the deputy had taken four steps Dr. Gerandy called out, thanking the young man for his gift of twenty year scotch just the other day. Everyone in town knew of the good doctor's affinity for aged single malt scotch from the Highland region of Scotland as well as if there was a bottle open in his house to not bother calling him in an emergency. He didn't have the will power for the bottle to remain unopened for long. He was a good man, albeit an often drunk one.
Charlie realized that something was not right but before he could focus more on it, he felt a pull leading him away from the scene. In a flash he was floating toward the big white light in the sky that he had always heard about. A silhouetted figure stood shadowed by the light as they drifted closer and closer to one another.
"Son," His mother called to him, extending her arms in a warm welcoming gesture. She was gorgeously ethereal, appearing as she did when Charlie was just a boy. Her chestnut hair flowed around her youthful face that was lit with a spectacular smile. His chest swelled knowing that he was at last coming home. The air around him hummed with electricity and he heard his mother speak even though she wasn't moving her lips.
"You have a choice to make my son. You can join me and all of your friends and family that have been waiting for you in heaven or you can choose to stay bound to Earth allowing you to wrap up your unfinished business."
"Unfinished Business?" Charlie asked.
"Yes, my son. Your death was not supposed to happen at this time. I cannot tell you more or what decision to make, only that there will be consequences no matter the choice."
Charlie had always thought your life was supposed to flash before your eyes before death. That hadn't happened in his case. Instead a string of images sped past his eyes, not events that had happened, but rather what could happen. The first showed what his life in paradise could be like if he chose to cross over now. He would be happy and with the family he never thought he would see again, but all the while his death would forever be considered a heart attack and his daughter would never get past her loss, spending the remainder of her years alone and disillusioned about life and love.
With a nod of her head, his mother then showed him his other alternative. He could stay attached to the earth and possibly help figure out how he truly died, giving Bella the closure that she would need and something to live for. However, there were consequences for this choice as well. If he is unable to accomplish his mission, he may never ascend to his rightful place in paradise, stuck forever to wander the earth a lost soul.
To Charlie, this wasn't even a choice and his mother smiled serenely at him.
"I should have known. You are my son after all. Good luck to you." With that she extended her arm away from the light behind her. He would go back and try to right whatever wrongs had happened, hopefully allowing his soul to rest and helping Bella to forge into the future a stronger person.
Charlie once again felt the pull, only this time it was dragging him away from the light and the feeling of pure love he had sensed only moments ago with his mother. In a blink of an eye, he was back in his old home watching Bella tearfully combing through his desk muttering to herself.
"Oh Charlie, why did you have to be such a disorganized pack rat?" Bella sat down with a frustrated sigh. "I'll never find it in this mess." In one sudden movement, Bella allowed all of her pent up frustration out and swung her arm and cast off of the papers that had littered Charlie's desk onto the floor in a flutter about the room. Her fingertips accidentally grazed one of the pictures, sending it crashing down to the floor as well. Bella leapt from her seat to retrieve it. Charlie knew at once what picture it was. It had resided on his desk since Billy had taken it.
There behind the now cracked glass, was the image of a young gap toothed Bella smiling while Charlie stood behind her holding up the largest catch of the day, which sadly had been Bella's.
Charlie chuckled at the memory. She hadn't even wanted to go out that day but she did, just for him. Bella wasn't chuckling or even smiling, instead she let out a strangled cry. "Daddy," she wailed, pounding her fist against the desk. "What am I supposed to do? The insurance adjuster wants your finances from last year and I can't find the file anywhere in this mess you call a desk and the lawyer mentioned that I need to track down the safety deposit box key and I just don't..." but her voice trailed off into broken sobs.
Charlie could only watch as his only child broke into a million little pieces. Witnessing her breakdown filled him with an abundant amount of energy that surged all at once allowing him to reach out and pull the folder she was looking for right to the top of the stack. Her head popped up from where it was cradled in her arms against the desk at the sudden movement. He saw Bella's eyes widen in surprise as she reached out to see that all the information she was looking for had magically appeared right beside her.
Bella looked over her shoulders in search of what Charlie assumed was an explanation to how the folder got there. "I'm here, baby girl!" Charlie wanted to shout to her, but he simply didn't have the strength. For Charlie, that simple act felt like he had lifted a two ton truck and ran a marathon consecutively. His energy had been completely depleted but despite his exhaustion, his heart felt briefly lighter watching his daughter flip through all of the necessary paperwork she had probably spent hours previously looking for.
"Maybe I hadn't knocked them all off the desk." Bella reasoned with herself. "Well whatever it is, thank god I found it," she said quietly, then shivered and ran her hands up and down her arms. The air must be colder now. Charlie wondered if that was a side effect of what he had done. Bella rose from the chair and headed toward the front of the house, leaving the folder on the empty desk.
Charlie was mesmerized by his new found ability and hoped that he would be able to figure out the mystery shrouding his death along with perhaps, helping Bella figure out her own future that wouldn't include him.
Hearing a knock, he moved towards the window to watch as Edward Cullen stood holding a casserole dish on the other side of the door.
"My mom asked me to bring this by. She wanted to make sure you were eating properly," he shyly spoke holding the dish out for Bella to take. The blush that graced both of their cheeks didn't go unnoticed by Charlie and he wondered if perhaps in his death he could bring two lonely hearts together. In his opinion there wasn't a finer, more upstanding young man than Edward Cullen. His mother had raised her two boys well, even if the younger one had a mischievous streak that probably brought Esme enough heartburn to last a lifetime.
As Charlie took in the two of them, he thought they would make a handsome couple. A well matched couple any way. Plus Charlie was fond of both Edward and Emmett, and he felt if anyone had any information about the town it would be one of the Cullen boys.
"Ask him to stay, Bells. Ask him." Charlie whispered trying desperately to reach his daughter in any way.
Bella whipped around in the direction that he was standing, then turned back toward Edward shaking her head slightly. "Did you already eat? I won't be able to eat all of this, if you wanted to join me?"
Charlie saw the surprise on Edward's face. For Edward, while he easily acquiesced to his mother's request to drop off the food just so he could catch another glimpse at the mourning young woman, he never expected that she would want company. Charlie knew she was feeling lonely and was happy she was taking solace in what he hoped would be a good friend to her.
Charlie tiredly watched them eat, sharing in companionable conversation over simple bland topics that were as far away from his death as possible. Edward took the final bite off of his plate before asking her the question that Charlie had wanted to ask since he arrived.
"How are you holding up?"
The question was so simple and had been asked many times before but his tone was genuinely caring. Edward reached across the table and nudged Bella's hand with his ever so slightly to get her to raise her eyes off of the cheap laminate tabletop that had been residing in Charlie's old kitchen since he had moved in almost thirty years ago.
With a heavy sigh, she tearfully looked up. She looked into his eyes for a long moment. Charlie didn't know what she was searching for, but she must have found it because she spoke the truth for the first time since her father's death, "Not great." Bella looked down at the plate in front of her. "This is the first thing I've been able to really stomach for days. I just want to sleep all the time and pretend that this is one big fucking nightmare that I'll wake up from." She looked back up at Edward then.
"How could he have died? How could he have left me here all alone?" Her voice broke on the last word as angry tears slid down her cheeks. She wiped them furiously away. Charlie, while devastated to hear her sound so despondent, was glad she was finally accepting her feelings instead of swallowing them whole and spouting off that she was fine to anyone who ever asked.
"What am I going to do?" she asked with her head in her hands. "I don't know the first thing about...well any of this." Her hand waved frantically around at the room, while Edward sat nodding sadly in response.
Edward grabbed a hold of her hand. "Hey. All of us are here for you, you know? Your dad was like a father to most of us on the force. His death has left us without a captain to steer our ship. The station hasn't been the same since. Jasper's been sulking like an emo high schooler and Paul's been kissing ass to the commissioner hoping to be placed as the acting chief. God help us all if that happens." Watching Edward roll his eyes made Bella smile the first genuine smile since her dad had passed.
"Emmett's been cracking inappropriate jokes. Well, I suppose that's not any different than normal." Bella chuckled slightly at Edward's dig at his younger brother. That one sound seemed to spur him on. "It just isn't the same without the Chief there to smack him over the head. I'm having a hard time keeping up and my hand is starting to hurt." Edward said, rubbing the hand in question.
Bella's chuckles became full giggles at that point and after a moment though she sobered. "He really loved you guys. Dad's been talking about you all since you were just his rookie recruits. I've been so focused on my own grief; I forgot how much it would have affected the men that worked for him."
The atmosphere that had just been light with laughter was now gone and Edward replied with a sad smile, looking down at his now empty plate. It was Bella that reached across the table to Edward this time. She covered his large hand with both of her own "He really respected both you and your brother, Edward. He told me that he wanted one of you to take over the station some day. That you had what it takes; the instincts, the dedication, the heart." Her voice broke again and Edward looked up at her. "Do you really think he had a heart attack? For some reason I've been having these nagging thoughts that there's more to his death than just that."
"Bella...I don't know."
"The autopsy was inconclusive, I'm not sure what else there is to be done? Edward I'm asking you because Charlie trusted your judgment above almost everyone at the station. Am I crazy to think that something isn't right?"
"No, you aren't crazy. I know what the report said, but Dr. Gerandy isn't really the most reliable authority on just about anything, you know?" His hands were nervously tapping a staccato rhythm on the table top as he spoke. "They shouldn't have settled for an inconclusive; not for the Chief. I just feel like I'm missing something. I know that he's been buried and there's not anything we can do about that aside from exhumation, which I wouldn't do unless we absolutely had to." Bella looked off into the distance and Charlie really wished that he could read her mind to see what she was debating.
Charlie shouted next to her ear hoping that she could hear his plea, "Listen to Edward, Bella! Don't give up on me."
Bella's eyes looked around the room, searching for something. It gave Charlie hope that perhaps he had gotten though to her. She spoke slowly as if carefully choosing her words. "Edward, I... I don't know. A piece of me feels like we should just let him rest in peace, but I feel like you do. That we're missing something and I know this is going to sound really crazy, believe me, I do, but it feels like Charlie's trying to tell me something. I don't know..." She shook her head and Charlie could only smile knowing that his attempts were working and vowed to continue until the mystery of his death was figured out or she could handle no more.
"Bella I...I don't think that's crazy. I'll take a look at the autopsy report and see if maybe there's something I'm missing. We'll get to the bottom of this. Even if it's nothing and he truly did die from a heart attack, we won't have any regrets that we didn't at least listen to our hearts, right?" Edward squeezed Bella's hand gently and stood, placing both of their plates into the sink.
"Thanks for inviting me to dinner. I haven't had my mom's casserole in a long time and I can tell her that I watched you eat with my own two eyes." He smiled softly before walking towards the wall where his heavy coat hung next to the exact replica that Charlie had worn for so long. Bella stood, her eyes only briefly glancing at her father's jacket before hugging Edward tightly, surprising him a bit making him take a step back to keep his balance.
"Thank you, for keeping me company and for everything. I didn't realize how much I missed talking to someone," she whispered into his chest before pulling back and allowing him to depart.
"Bella, remember that we're all here for you. Here's my card, it has my number if you ever want to talk or just want some company. Promise you'll use it?" Bella nodded at his request. "Okay." He smiled again before reminding her to get some sleep and that he would keep her informed of any news he found on the autopsy report.
Bella sighed as she shut the door. She sat the card down on the table where Charlie would always put his side arm. Charlie continued to watch as Bella moved about the kitchen, cleaning up the dishes and wrapping up the leftovers before she ascended the stairs and tucked herself into bed.
Finally she spoke the first words since Edward had left. "Good night, daddy. I miss you so much," she whispered into the darkness before turning over and snuggling deeper into the covers, crying herself to sleep.
Bella was by the lake where her father would take her fishing as a little girl. The sun was warm on her cheeks and the wind was cool and moist. She walked slowly to a log on the bank and sat down, resting her arms on her legs. She took in all the sites. There hadn't been a day like this in Forks in a while. She closed her eyes and tried to absorb the sense of calm that accompanied her surroundings. Then she heard a voice she never thought she'd hear again.
Standing quickly, she whipped around toward the voice. What she saw brought tears to her eyes. "Daddy?" She asked in disbelief, running into his arms sobbing.
A strangled cry came from Charlie as Bella felt his arms hold her tighter. "Oh, baby girl..."
"Oh Daddy, I miss you so much."
"I know, baby girl, I know."
"Where have you been? Why haven't I seen you before?"
"I didn't know it was possible. I wish I would have known." She held on to him for a few moments absorbing everything about him. The feel of his flannel shirt against her face, how he smelled like a strange combination of spearmint and something else she couldn't place.
"But you're here now. That's all that matters. You're here now."
"Yes I am." They clung to each other a while longer before he spoke again. "Do you remember the lake?"
Bella pulled back to smile up at her father. "How could I forget it? You used to drag me here almost every weekend."
He reached out and touched her hair. "You aren't taking care of yourself, sweetie." Bella looked down at her feet not knowing what to say. He was right. She hadn't been. "You need to, Bella. I need to know you'll be okay."
"How can I be okay? You're gone."
"Baby girl." Charlie tried to get her attention, but she couldn't meet his eyes. He wouldn't let her avoid him and he reached out and made her look at him. "I need you to look at me, sweetie. I'll never be completely gone. I'll always be right here." He pleaded, tapping her right over her heart. Bella launched herself back into his arms once more. Charlie stroked Bella's hair gently like he did when she was a little girl. "Bells, I don't know how long I can stay," he said softly after a moment.
"Why can't you stay? You just got here?" Bella asked pulling back in alarm.
"I know sweetie but I don't know the rules."
"Rules? What rules? Isn't this a dream?"
"Yes this is a dream but you didn't just dream me up."
"I don't understand..."
"Bella not everything is as it seems and...some things are exactly what they seem."
"What does that mean?"
"This is harder than I thought. You need..." Suddenly his voice cut off. Bella looked at the frustrated face of her father in confusion. "You need to trust your gut no matter what your mind is telling you, even if it seems crazy." Charlie looked around nervously, his forehead furrowed into a grimace, "I've stayed too long. I have to leave."
"Leave! No don't leave me!"
"I'm sorry, I have to. I won't be far."
Bella woke screaming for her father and when she realized she was alone once more she began to sob.
The next few days were harder than the last had been. Bella didn't know if seeing her father in her dream had helped or hurt her more. She now went to bed every night hoping to see him and was equally disappointed when he didn't appear. She had slowly been trying to box up all of her father's things and was finding that not only was he unorganized, but a pack rat too. After working around the house for days, she finally decided that it was time to face the station and clean up Charlie's office there.
When she stepped foot into the station the noise nearly knocked her back. It wasn't that it was anything really exceptional, just that she had gotten so used to silence surrounding her at home that the normal noise in the station was nearly deafening. She probably would have turned around and gone home if it hadn't been for the massive hug she found herself being forced into.
"Hello, Emmett." Bella said with a chuckle. You would've thought that she'd known him for years instead of weeks, but Bella was beginning to see that the Cullen's never reacted the way she expected and that they were most definitely what she would label as 'huggers'. After a moment, she sank into his embrace allowing herself to find a little bit of strength and solace from him.
"Put the poor girl down, Emmett. You're suffocating her." Bella turned to see the blond head of Jasper Whitlock. "Miss Bella," he said with a smile and a nod of his head.
"What brings you to our corner of the world?"
"I'm here to pack up Charlie's office."
"Of course. Right this way." He gestured to the back of the station. Bella had been to see her dad many times before so she knew the way to her father's office. She also knew that Jasper's southern upbringing wouldn't allow him to let her wander her way there by herself. Taking notice of the imposing stares from all the other officers, she was happy for his presence. It was a long walk to the back of the station but no matter how badly she wanted to escape the watchful eyes around her, she couldn't force herself to open the door in front of her.
"Thank you, Jasper," she said quietly.
Nodding in understanding and knowing that this was something she had to do by herself, Jasper squeezed her shoulder lightly and took his leave. She stood there staring at the door that had never been closed while her father had sat in that office. He always kept it open, never wanting someone to think that he was too important or busy for them. Reaching for the handle, she had just grasped it when the door flew open causing her to jump back with a startled scream.
The man swore in surprise. "How did you get back here?"
"Um...this is my father's office."
"Miss Swan. I'm sorry. I didn't recognize you. Forgive me for frightening you."
"That's okay. Paul isn't it?"
"Yes. Officer Paul Matau." He reached out to shake her hand but in doing so he revealed a folder he had behind his back.
"What is that?" Bella asked confused as he quickly looked down surprised at his hand.
"Oh, just a file I need to finish up an open case. Police business you know. Listen Bella, here's my card you call me if you need anything," he said handing her a white card much like the one Edward had given her the other day. She smiled at him and took it but shoved it in her coat pocket as he turned around and she headed into the office. She didn't know why but Paul gave her the creeps.
Charlie hadn't been much neater here than he had been at home. In fact it was worse. Still that fact brought a smile to her face. Charlie was a creature of habit just like she was. She walked around the desk and sat down in the chair and closed her eyes. She sighed. This would be at least a whole day of work if not more.
She spun in the chair and got up, figuring she could start with organizing all of the files that were piled around the entire space and filing them in the right cabinets before she had to go out and get the boxes she had brought with her. She opened the first filing cabinet to see if there was any set filing system, but wasn't really all that surprised to find that they were mostly empty. So it seemed like it would be up to her to come up with a system.
The hours passed in relative quiet, just her and her father's handwriting on about two hundred manila folders.
At around one in the afternoon, she was surprised when she heard a knock on the partly ajar door. Looking up from her spot on the floor she recognized the head of hair sticking through the opening causing her to smile broadly. "Hey."
"Can I come in?"
"Of course," Bella answered with a grin. She looked at the bag that he held in his hands with confusion.
"I brought you something to eat," he explained.
"You didn't have to do that."
"Yes I did," he insisted.
Bella opened the bag and smiled at the contents. It wasn't food from the diner as she had originally expected but several Tupperware containers of what looked like homemade roast and all the fixings.
"Esme?" she asked with a chuckle.
Edward answered with a sheepish smile. "I was over at the house helping dad out with some home improvement projects and Emmett called."
"Tell her thank you for me?" Bella asked as she took a bite of the tender meat.
"Of course," Edward said with a smile. "You've been busy I see." He remarked looking around the room.
"Yes. I never knew my father was this unorganized." She shook her head setting aside her food and getting up and taking another organized stack to the filing cabinet.
"Are you filing?"
"Yep, open cases are in this cabinet," she said gesturing to the one she was currently filing in, "and are organized by year filed and then file number." She shut the drawer and turned toward the other three filing cabinets. "The ones in this cabinet are what you would probably consider cold cases. The rest are all closed cases and are organized the same way. I'm pretty much done with the closed cases. I've spent most of the morning working on them and now I'm working on the open cases."
"Wow." Edward said taking a look at the file drawers. "Would you like a job?"
Bella laughed. "I have one, but thank you for the offer."
"What is it that you do?"
"I work for a publishing company in Seattle as a story editor." She explained sadly.
"Well, you know you've got a real future in filing if that doesn't work out." Edward said, trying to make light of the sudden heavy atmosphere that had come with the mention of Bella's life back in Seattle.
She needed to call them soon. Her bosses were understanding of the situation but they would only hold her position open for so long before they would fill it with a Jr. Editor and Bella didn't really know how she felt about that possibility. A piece of her wished she could just leave it all behind and maybe start over. Over the years she'd sold out her dream of becoming a journalist for the steady, albeit boring paycheck of being an editor.
"Well I wouldn't need to do all this filing if at least one of you in this station knew how to put a file where it's supposed to go," she teased back. Edward clutched at his chest like she'd mortally wounded him and the look on his face made her laugh out loud at his antics.
"Would you like some help?"
"You don't have to. It's your day off. Shouldn't you be off enjoying yourself?"
"Nah. I don't have anywhere else I'd rather be," he said sinking down on the floor in front of a pile.
She smiled at him as they sat and organized the remaining folders and chatted amiably. When they'd finally finished, Bella sank down in the chair already exhausted but still having to pack up all of personal things in Charlie's office. Looking around the room, she took in all the places and pictures hanging on the walls and sighed.
"Hey what's this?" Edward asked drawing her attention. He bent down and picked up a small white square on the ground. "Paul's card?"
"Huh that's weird. I thought it was in my pocket," she said, digging into her pocket. Sure enough it was still in there. "He must have dropped it when he was in here."
"Paul was in here? When?" Edward asked, his voice tight and accusatory.
"Before I got here. He said that he needed a file although how he found it is a mystery to me?"
"That's odd. I don't think he's working any active cases right now."
"Edward...there's something off about him. I don't know how to explain it but something just doesn't seem right."
"Did he make you uncomfortable when he was here?"
"No. It wasn't that exactly. It's just a feeling I got when I ran into him here. He was acting strange, like he was up to something."
"He really didn't have any reason to go snooping in the Chief's office. How about we finish up in here and then do some snooping on our own?"
"What do you mean?"
"I think its past time to look into the newest member of the force." Bella smiled over at him. Edward may have been a police officer but she was beginning to feel like he was her partner in crime and she was okay with that.
Later that night when she fell asleep, she dreamed another one of her vivid dreams.
She was back in Charlie's office. The things were back up on the wall and the small knick knacks that had been on the desk were back in their places and there sitting in his desk chair like she always remembered was her father.
"Hey, baby girl."
"I thought I'd never see you again."
"I'm sorry I couldn't come and see you sooner sweetie, but I just didn't have the strength."
"This isn't just a dream is it?"
Charlie seemed to sigh in relief. "No. It's not."
"You're really here? It was you that moved the file for me to find, wasn't it?"
"And the business card?"
"So something really is wrong with this Paul character?"
"I … I don't know. I've always thought something was off about that boy. That's all I'm allowed to tell you though."
"What do you mean by allowed to tell me?"
"Remember the last time I told you there were rules."
"I can try and help you along your way, but I can't tell you anything you haven't already figured out for yourself."
"So what can you tell me?"
"To keep looking. That you and Edward are on the right path."
"That's it?" Charlie chuckled as he pulled Bella into his arms.
"That and I'm very proud of you."
"Daddy..." Bella said snuggling into his chest. "How long do you have?"
"Long enough for me to hold my daughter for a while," came Charlie's contented sigh. But suddenly his tone changed. "Is this too hard, Bella? Seeing me like this? It seemed like after the last time you got worse after my visit. I'll stop coming if it's hurting you."
"NO!" Bella screamed pulling away in panic.
Charlie quickly drew her back into his embrace. "Shh...baby girl no need to panic. Settle down. You'll wake," Charlie explained stroking Bella's hair soothingly. "I can only talk to you like this when you're relaxed."
"But you can do other things when I'm awake?" Bella asked feeling calmer already.
"Yes, sometimes. But it takes much more energy to do that then this does. I can talk to you longer and not drain myself quite as much."
"Oh. I see." After a moment in his arms Bella spoke again. "I love you Dad. I know I didn't say it enough. I'm sorry for that."
"I love you too, baby and you didn't have to tell me. I knew."
Charlie continued to watch Bella restlessly sleep after leaving her to dream other things that lingered in her subconscious. Reaching out to her in any way sucked the energy right out of him, yet he understood the urgency of getting her and Edward to look deeper into his death.
Today had been extremely revealing to Charlie. While Bella didn't see Paul in his old office, Charlie saw the whole thing as he scoured the office looking for the file he left with. The mess that Bella walked in on was mostly a result of Paul's haphazard attempt at cleaning up after his thorough search. Charlie knew he wasn't the most organized person, but he did actually have a system, especially at the station.
Hearing the sound of Bella's soothing breathing allowed Charlie to relax and rest a bit while his mind tried to figure out why Paul was looking for that old case file in his office. He thought back to the case that Paul had swiped from his office and tried to remember any significant information he could somehow relay to Edward and Bella, but was finding that his memory on the specifics of the case were slim.
It was beyond frustrating and he was beginning to worry he would have to leave Bella and Edward to their own devices. The thought of those two sneaking around corners and trying to sleuth out the incriminating evidence made Charlie grin widely. Images of the old Keystone Cops popped immediately to mind, letting a gruff chortle escape at the bumbling image.
"Paul, what were you looking for?" he whispered to himself still trying to sort out the details in the file.
Hearing a moan from Bella's bed, Charlie walked over and peered down at his baby now tossing and turning in her sleep. When she uttered a name that wasn't his own, Charlie decided it was time to leave his daughter alone for the night and drifted off out of her room, smiling that perhaps the Keystone Cops would be a pretty good match after all.
The next morning Charlie watched as Bella stared longingly at the large photo of him and his current batch of officers at the station that she had pulled out of the box she'd packed up the day before. The photo had been taken only a few months before and Charlie had felt such a fatherly camaraderie with all of the men on the force, with the exception of Paul, and he'd wanted to display it proudly in his office. Charlie did notice that her finger was not only stuck tracing the outline of his face across the glass but at the handsome man that stood beside him in the photograph as well. From the look in her eye, Charlie suspected that perhaps Bella's interest in Edward was more romantic than she'd been trying to portray. He just hoped that her grief over losing him wouldn't shut her off from living the rest of her life.
A knock at the door startled Bella from her daydreaming over the now cold cup of coffee she had been clutching for the last twenty minutes. She walked slowly towards the door and peeked through the window. Charlie watched with slight amusement as his daughter fussed about her clothes and hair before practically flinging the door open.
"Edward! Good Morning. What do I owe the pleasure of your company this early in the morning?" Charlie was surprised by the flirty tone of Bella's question but was not surprised by Edward's reaction to it.
Edward's blush crept up to the tips of his ears, revealing the shy nature of the man at the door as he stammered out, "Um, I thought you might like to join me for some coffee and scones before I had to go into the station."
Bella smiled largely at him and stepped back from the opening in the door, "Come on in. Are those scones from Maggie's? Because you can bring those to me every day of the week," Bella chuckled shutting the door behind him.
Charlie watched somberly as Edward once again hung up his heavy standard issue jacket beside its twin, pausing only a moment to finger the cuff of Charlie's well worn coat. The sigh that came from Edward was like a punch in the gut. He knew the young man thought of him like a father after losing the connection with his dad when he chose to take after his grandfather and become a cop rather than medicine like his father had wanted.
Edward and his father, Carlisle, never were able to repair their relationship once Edward had made that life changing decision. Charlie became his confidante whenever he needed to discuss the stress, long hours, and sometimes fear that all members of the police department face at one time or another. While Charlie held Carlisle in high regard as a physician, he seemed sorely lacking when it came to guidance for first Edward and then later Emmett. Though he would have experienced similar stresses at the hospital, he never made himself available for the boys to discuss these issues. Charlie was glad to have had the chance to council the young men, never having had a son himself. He loved Edward as if he was his own.
"So, I did some digging yesterday and found some interesting information about Paul," Edward mumbled, stuffing a portion of his scone into his mouth before he had even sat down at the table. "Sorry, but these are so good," he apologized, sending a few crumbs onto the table. Bella laughed loudly, telling him that she felt the exact same way about the delicious pastries Edward had brought for them to enjoy and took a considerably smaller bite of hers.
After eating quickly and gulping down some coffee, Edward continued.
"Paul's cousin, Quil Atterra, was actually fired from the Seattle PD about a month before Paul was transferred here by recommendation of the old Seattle Mayor, Embry Call. I couldn't find the reasoning behind the dismissal or the transfer though. I assume the details about Officer Atterra were sealed up by internal affairs, but I am sensing there's something not right about Paul being placed here.
"There was nothing on his record to suggest anything suspicious but he would have had the choice to deny the placement. I don't understand why a young officer with no family obligations whatsoever would choose to move from the Seattle beat to Forks. I'm still looking of course, but without knowing what he took from your dad's office, I'm not sure if it's going to lead us anywhere. I can't just walk up to him and expect him to hand it over without a reason. He hasn't really done anything wrong since he arrived on the force here and I'm not sure if I should start a war if we don't need to start one?" Edward had begun tugging on his hair during his explanation and Charlie knew that it was killing him to not be able to pull Paul into the interrogation room and grill him.
Charlie tried to think about the case to see if he could pull anything out of the recesses out of his memory, yet nothing would come.
"Edward, we'll figure it out." Bella said softly reaching over and grasping the hand that was not buried in his hair. She looked at him seriously for a moment, as if debating something and then spoke again, "Can I tell you something without you thinking I'm completely insane?"
"Well, I suppose that depends on what you're going to tell me. You can't really preface something like that without me automatically thinking you just might be," Edward chuckled good natured and waited for Bella to join him. When she didn't laugh like he had expected her to, he continued to speak, "Bella, you can tell me anything. I told you that. I won't judge you." He tried to reassure her.
Bella took a deep breath as if she was preparing herself for the onslaught to follow what she was going to say. "I think," she started to explain slowly. "I think Charlie's been visiting me. In my dreams." Charlie watched as Bella continued staring at the table while Edward's eyebrow's shot up in surprise at her revelation. "Not just like I'm dreaming about him, but that he's actually visiting me from the grave and giving me information." Finally looking up, she continued with much more urgency in her voice, "He thinks we're on the right track. Charlie's the one that made sure we found Paul's card in his office yesterday. I know it sounds strange, but Edward, I really do think he's trying to help us." Edward's face appeared skeptical and Charlie knew he needed to do something to prove he was around and watching.
Summoning all of the strength he possessed, Charlie flung his arm out and pulled his jacket off of the rack, startling both Edward and Bella as it fell to the ground in a thud.
Pointing to the coat resting on the floor, Bella sprung from her seat, "See. He's here. Now. Please believe me Edward, I can't figure this out without you." Bella appeared so vulnerable standing with her arms wrapped around her frail body, staring at the floor where the limp jacket lay.
"Bella," Edward whispered, stepping forward and grasping her chin gently, urging her to look up at him. "I wasn't doubting you. In fact, I've felt his presence too. At the funeral, yesterday in his office and even a few other times I just had the feeling that someone was watching me. It makes sense for it to have been Charlie. I don't think you're crazy. Not even in the slightest." Pulling Bella into a hug, Edward held her delicately, murmuring words of reassurance. Bella allowed herself to cry, feeling the weight of this secret being lifted from her shoulders, and the acceptance of it by a man that she trusted.
Relief flooded through Charlie's energy depleted body, happy that at least they both knew he was here to help them.
"Edward," Bella started, pulling back from his embrace. She picked the jacket up off the floor, hugging it tightly to her chest and sniffing the dark fabric, inhaling what remained of her father's scent. "What are we going to do about Paul? I really think he's the key to whatever is going on. We need to figure out what he took from Dad's office." Hanging the coat where it belonged, Bella turned to see Edward deep in thought, eyebrows furrowed tightly, and lips drawn into a frown.
"We'll think of something and if need be we can always enlist Emmett to back us with some muscle. He ought to be good for something." Charlie chuckled. "Bella, I have to get to the station. Do you want some company for dinner? I can bring over something from the Diner after my shift ends at six? Maybe I'll have dug something else up while I'm at work," he said shrugging his coat back on.
He pulled Bella back into his arms and leaned down to whisper in her ear, "I'm glad Charlie's still around keeping an eye on you, especially since I can't be here all the time doing it myself." Pressing a kiss against her temple, Edward walked out, leaving Bella stunned silent by his words. A laugh escaped Charlie this time as his daughter stared, mouth agape, at the boy retreating down the walk.
"That a boy, Edward," Charlie said with a small amount of pride in his voice as he followed Edward.
Charlie hadn't known Edward had that sort of behavior in him. It was no surprise that it had slightly shocked Bella. Charlie laughed a little louder when Edward muttered, "I can't believe I just did that," under his breath.
There's the Edward I know and love, Charlie thought.
Charlie decided to go with Edward and see if perhaps he could help them by listening in to the conversations around the station.
"Hey bro!" Emmett shouted from the desk by the door, his feet propped up and munching on some kind of donut with sprinkles.
"Em, aren't you a little old to be eating shit with sprinkles on it?" Edward didn't stop and wait for his reply, but moved back towards the rear of the station where he had spotted Paul's dark hair hunched over talking to someone on the phone.
Charlie was able to pick up on the conversation a few seconds before Edward could. "Quil, relax. I'll figure it out. I told you it wouldn't see the light of day and I meant it. Relax," Paul mumbled, finally looking up to see Edward standing over his desk waiting impatiently for him to finish his obviously personal call. "Shit, I gotta go. Talk to you later." Hanging up the phone, he stood up from under Edward's imposing presence, although not quite matching Edward's looming height.
"Paul, I thought you were supposed to be on patrol today? Why are you here?" Edward's voice shouted, slightly louder than perhaps he'd intended.
"Jeez, I was headed out now." Paul said turning to do just that, but then he stopped and turned back to face Edward. "Just because the Chief coddled your pansy ass doesn't mean that you're next in line." Charlie saw Edward's jaw stiffen in anger. "The commissioner is still working on who to promote to that position, so don't go bossing people around just yet," Paul seethed pulling on his jacket and storming out of the station.
Edward's breaths came in short gusts from his nose and Charlie knew that he was trying to rain in his anger. For as timid as Edward was, Charlie knew that he was fiercely protective. It was one of the things that made him a good cop. "I know you didn't tolerate any violence in the station Chief," Edward said quietly. How Edward knew Charlie was there he didn't know, but he was thankful that he did. Edward continued his quiet speech, "Not from the detainees and certainly not from your officers, but I have to warn you he's coming dangerously close to me punching him."
Even though he knew Edward couldn't hear him Charlie responded, "I wouldn't blame you if you did, kid."
After a few moments Edward quickly glanced down at the desk before looking around as if to see if anyone was paying attention to him.
"I'm watching you Edward," Charlie chuckled, knowing Edward didn't really have a dishonest bone in his body and this little act of privacy invasion would be killing the young man. Charlie kept a look out while Edward rifled delicately through Paul's drawers and files. "What's this?" Edward suddenly asked pulling one manila file out. "One of these things just doesn't belong here." He sang the old Sesame Street tune with a smile on his face. "Why is this folder out of sequence?"
Charlie peered over Edward's shoulder and almost immediately recognized one of his old case files. He wanted to scream with joy. Edward had found it, but just as he went to open the file Paul's phone rang causing Edward to drop it back into place and scurry back to his own desk.
"So Edward, what were you lookin' for at Paul's desk?" Emmett asked, sauntering over and taking a seat on the edge of Edward's desk, where everything has its place.
"What are you talking about?" Edward looked guilty before he'd even opened his mouth.
"Come on Edward, what's going on? I saw you and the Chief's daughter the other day. What are you two up to?"
"Em, this really isn't any of your concern..."
"What?" Emmett shouted angrily. "If this has anything to do with the Chief, then it sure as hell has to do with me." Poking Edward in the chest to accentuate his point.
"Keep your voice down."
Edward appeared to contemplate a moment before letting Emmett in on he and Bella's suspicion that something was up with Paul that may or may not relate to Charlie's death. Charlie was relieved to hear Edward keep the part about him being a ghost out of the conversation. As much as he liked Emmett, Charlie knew he wouldn't understand it and end up ridiculing Edward for believing in such things.
"Well, you've got the James bond body." Edward looked at him with a cocked brow. "That's not what I meant! I meant that you're better built for sneaking around than I am. I'll keep my eye on the fucker, you get the intel."
Charlie settled into a nearby chair and watched the hustle and bustle of the station as the day wore on, missing his second home immensely. Paul hadn't returned until the end of his shift at three and left promptly, never staying to chit chat with the other men.
True to his word Emmett watched the man like a hawk circling his prey. Unfortunately, the day turned up nothing new or interesting even though Edward had used every available resource to search for the proverbial needle in a haystack.
Charlie could feel the frustration radiating off of him as he marched out of the diner on his way to see Bella again.
"If you're around Charlie, we could use a little help. I don't even know what we're looking for," Edward murmured into the darkness as he climbed into his car.
Charlie felt bad for not being able to give them more to work from. He had the idea though to let Edward know he was there. When Edward flipped on the radio, Charlie began to scan the frequency's quickly. "What the heck?" Edward asked staring at the radio. Finally he found what he was looking for and the song blared loudly over the speakers. Turning it down slightly it only took a moment for Edward to listen to the words and realize that Charlie was talking to him.
"I know sometimes you feel so helpless
Sometimes you feel like you can't win
Sometimes you feel so isolated
You'll never have to feel that way again
You are not alone..."
Edward smiled and whispered a quiet thanks. The Eagles song was one of Charlie's favorites and he was glad he was able to get Edward to hear what he was trying to tell him. Charlie watched as a single tear slid down Edward's face right before he pulled into the driveway. Turning the engine off Edward sat in the car, unmoving for a moment before Charlie heard his soft voice say, "I miss you Chief. God, I miss you." Edward's hands gripped the steering wheel tightly before letting go, dropping his hands to his sides.
"I know I never really said it, but I loved you. Thank you, for everything. I promise to protect her."
With a deep shuddering sigh, Edward exhaled and reached for the door. Before he could open it, Charlie reached out and squeezed Edward's shoulder once, hoping to convey that he felt the very same way about the man he thought of as a son. Feeling the slight touch made Edward pause before opening the door.
Charlie watched as the emotions flitted across Edward's face. It was like he was feeling exactly what Charlie had wanted all in that touch. It was a touch of encouragement, a touch of acceptance, but also a touch of thanks. Charlie knew that if he had to leave his little girl with anyone, he would be tough pressed to find anyone better than Edward Cullen. "Thanks, Charlie," Edward said and the smile on the young man's face was so bright he could see its reflection in the window as he approached the door to the house.
Bella knew that Charlie wasn't with her in the house. It was too quiet for him to be there. It was so strange, she was beginning to be able to pick up on the minute difference when he was around. There was a difference in the atmosphere when he was near. The air had a different energy, as if it was always in fluctuation or filled with so much energy it was just ready to burst. It would make the hair on your neck and arms stand up, but she didn't know if that was normal or not.
She hated not knowing anything about what her father was going through so while Edward was at work hopefully digging up something useful, she did a little research on her own. Paranormal Research. She visited websites and even made some telephone calls to a few research groups to see what they could tell her. It was strange telling people about what she was going through so she tended to guard the details to herself before she knew how they would react. The three groups she called were very helpful with giving her what information they could and they didn't seem judgmental in any way which was reassuring.
The feeling that she was getting when Charlie was around was evidently quite normal. Ghosts or spirits supposedly fed off of what is called electromagnetic energy. They also gave off this same energy when they were active. One lady from a group stationed in Seattle explained to her that she might be extra sensitive to EF or Electromagnetic Fields, where this type of energy comes from.
She had a few offer to come check out the house, but Bella kindly turned them down saying that if there came a time when she felt unsafe she would give them a call. She didn't think that would happen. If anything, she felt calmer with her father there but she didn't feel comfortable telling anyone else that. Another thing she didn't feel comfortable sharing were the dreams. She was pretty sure those weren't ordinary, but those seemed more private to her than everything else. Thinking of the dreams made her wonder if there was a way for Charlie to communicate with her other than while she slept. She began intently looking up all the different options. She was still on the computer when Edward knocked on her door that night with dinner.
Unfortunately, Edward hadn't found out anything at the station but that didn't dishearten Bella too much. She had learned a lot and told Edward about the research she'd done. Bella was anxious to get Charlie's take on what the paranormal investigators had told her, but that night when she went to bed, her father didn't come like she had expected. Though it made her sad, she now understood just how much energy he had to expend to reach her. That night however, she did have one of the strangest dreams she'd ever had. Yes even stranger than her deceased father visiting her subconscious at night.
None of her dream made much sense. When she felt like she had figured it out, something else would happen that was completely unconnected to what had occurred before. She tried to make sense of it for a few minutes before she suddenly remembered a random set of numbers that kept occurring throughout the whole thing. House numbers, parking spaces, license plates...all repeated in the same sequence over and over again. She reached next to her bed and wrote them down on a scrap sheet of paper.
Taking the piece of paper with her to the kitchen, she poured herself a cup of coffee. As she sat at the table, she studied the numbers. There wasn't anything mathematical to them as far as she could tell and there were too many numbers for it to be a telephone number.
She started breaking up the numbers in different ways when suddenly something jumped up out at her. She knew what this number was! She'd certainly seen enough of them when she was organizing Charlie's office.
Grabbing the phone, she dialed the station. "Forks Police." A cheery voice on the other line spoke.
"Hey Sherry, this is Bella Swan." Bella addressed the dispatcher by name.
"Bella dear, how are you?" she asked kindly.
"I'm doing okay." Bella replied hastily. While she really did like Sherry, who'd been there for as long as Bella could remember but she had no time for chit chat today. "I was actually looking for Officer Cullen." Then she added quickly, "Edward Cullen. Is he in yet?"
"Yep he just walked in, just one moment." Sherry put her on hold and a second later she heard Edward's worried voice.
"Bella? Is everything okay? I thought you were going to sleep in this morning?"
"I thought so too. I'm fine, but listen. I need you to look up a case file number for me."
"Okay..." he drawled the word out slowly. She could almost see him sitting down at his desk and pulling his keyboard toward him. Giving him the numbers he asked for a moment later. "You gonna tell me what this is about?"
"I had another dream," she explained knowing she didn't have to say anymore.
"Well it's not in the computer which isn't surprising if it's one of your dad's, he wasn't exactly the best at getting everything submitted electronically. Just hang on for a few minutes." She waited impatiently while he searched for the file. "Okay, thanks to this amazing girl who did all our filing," he said with a smile in his voice all the while Bella blushed and thanked the lord that he couldn't see her, "I've found it."
"What does it say?" she asked anxiously.
She heard the shuffling of pages before he spoke again. "It's a case from a few years ago. Looks like it dates back to about '98. Charlie was the supervising officer and his deputy Matt was on the case with -" He suddenly broke off.
"Edward what is it?"
"Bella, this...this is an unsolved homicide."
"Bella, I'm on my way over right now."
Bella didn't try to argue with him she knew it was pointless. Besides she needed him there right then. She was certain that while her father hadn't come to talk to her in her sleep like the previous times he had lead her to that particular file. Why, she wasn't sure. What does his death have to do with a cold homicide case? Did it have something to do with the last case he was working on? Maybe she should call Edward back and have him bring that file as well. Then she thought about it for a while and when Edward arrived only a short 15 minutes later, she asked him without any preamble, "My father's death wasn't natural, was it?"
"No Bella, I don't believe it was."
He put not only one file down on the coffee table, but two. One had the red label of an old unsolved case, one didn't. She could see a picture peeking out of one of them she reached down to pull it out only to drop it back to the table in shock. It was a picture they all would recognize.
As Bella stared down at one of Seattle's most infamous crime leaders she asked her father aloud, "Dad what the hell have you gotten into?"
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