This story is not my usual smutfluff combo.

It is about two parents grieving for their lost children, among other things.

It may be difficult to read.


I drain the last of my beer and line the can up with the other empties on my coffee table. I had some fish for dinner, some of the trout I pulled out of the freezer from the last time I went fishing, but I still feel hollow. I can never get it to taste right, not like she could.

I sorta wish I'd realized the last time she cooked for me was gonna be the last time. I would've stood with her in the kitchen and paid attention to what she was doing. Maybe tried to figure out what kind of spices she used.

Maybe talked to her a little more.

I thought I had all this time, though. She was going off to get married, and I had made my peace with that. Edward put her through a lot but he owned up to it. He was becoming a decent guy, and she loved him, and I was happy to see her so in love. I figured she'd go on her honeymoon and go off to college, but I'd still see her when she came home for breaks. I'd still get to spend Christmases with her, and see her over the summer.

But there was an accident.

A plane crash.

On their way home from the honeymoon in Brazil. It was one of those little charter planes, the kind where they ask you how much you weigh before you get on. I avoid those whenever I can, but Bella never seemed to mind. "It's safe, Dad," she'd always say, rolling her eyes.

Carlisle was the one who told me. He showed up at the station one morning, pulled me into a meeting room, and uttered the words no one should ever have to hear.

"The plane crashed on landing, Charlie. It burned. There's nothing left... they're both gone," he told me, his weird golden-brown eyes getting darker. Part of me wanted to rage at him, to scream and beat the shit out of him because his son had taken my baby girl away. If not for Edward she'd be here, with me, and she'd be safe.

But he lost his child, too, and I could see that he was barely holding it together.

We had a joint funeral for the two of them. Two empty coffins, two empty graves. One big headstone with CULLEN carved at the top. I bristled at that; she wasn't even a Cullen for two weeks. Then Alice pointed out the swan carved into the top of the stone-its head bowed like it was mourning, too.

It's been two years since they passed. The Cullens moved to New York. Alice calls sometimes to ask how I am, but I can't bring myself to say much more than "Getting by, Alice. How are you?"

She fills up the rest of the phone calls with talk of movies, shopping, her college classes. What the other family members are up to. I say "Oh yeah?" and "Hmm," and "That's nice," when it's appropriate, but I don't really listen. All I can think about is that my Bella should still be here, enjoying all of those things too.

I miss her. I miss her more than I ever though I would.

My life? My own life seems... pointless now. After Renee left, I realized that I just wasn't cut out for romance. I never found another woman that interested me, anyway, and I hung out at the res with Harry and Billy most of the time. I fished, I hunted, I worked long hours at the station, and that was my whole life until Bella moved back to Forks.

I spent most of Bella's childhood berating myself for not being a better father, but I always had hope that I could fix things. Redeem myself. There was always a chance of us getting closer, getting to know each other better. When she moved in with me, I thought I'd hit the jackpot. But then she spent all her time with Edward, or Jake, or Edward again. I took what moments I could steal with her and tried to make them memorable. Tried to make her see that I cared. And I kept telling myself that there would be more time-so much more time-for us to get closer.

Now there's nothing to look forward to. No hope for the future, because I can never spend more time with her. No grandbabies. No visits to the East Coast, no getting dragged to Christmas parties at the Cullens' big house.

I've been getting by on my own because everyone keeps telling me that it takes time. That I'll heal. But it's been two years and I'm still...

I'm still devastated.

I gather up some of the empty beer cans and stumble into the kitchen to throw them away. I lean against the counter and stare the gun belt hanging from a peg by the front door.

Nothing to look forward to, just more pain.


There wasn't a plane crash.

Well, there was, but it was carefully orchestrated by Emmett and Jasper as a cover story. No one was hurt.

We couldn't tell Charlie the truth-that our worst fear had come to pass. Edward, his confidence bolstered by the fact that he and Bella made love without injury or incident, decided to change Bella then and there. He didn't mull it over, or call to discuss it with me-he just decided, in the moment, and bit her.

Six thousand miles away, at our home in Forks, Alice screamed.

As soon as Edward made the decision, she knew it would end badly. If we were close by, we could have stopped it, but we had no way of reaching them on the island.

By the time I dialed his phone number, his teeth had ripped into her flesh. I called seventy-two times before he answered.

"You know," was all he said. A statement, not a question.

"Edward, I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. Are you sure you can't seal up her wounds? Try CPR?"

"I tried. She's... there's nothing left. Her heart's not beating, Carlisle, and even if it were... I felt her leave. Her essence. She's gone," he sobbed.

"I'm coming, Edward. I'm on my way," I said, watching Esme fly up the stairs to pack a bag.

"Don't bother," he said.

"Edward, you will be okay. I know you can't imagine it right now, but you will be okay," I told him, trying to hide the panic in my voice. He was eerily calm.

"It's okay, Carlisle," he says. "I have a soul. I know it now. Bella showed me... I'll be okay. I love you, I love all of you, but I can't be here without her."

Alice doubled over, her arms crossed over her chest, and wailed.

"Edward, no," I told him. "No!"

But he was already gone.

We found nothing but ashes when we made it to the island the next day. He'd built a pyre for the two of them and held Bella's lifeless body in his arms while he burned.

Lifeless. That's how I felt in the months after Edward's death.

I went through the motions, taking care of the rest of the family and making sure the cover story was executed flawlessly.

I held Esme as she sobbed for her lost children. I comforted Alice, assuring her over and over again that she couldn't have known. I fought with Rosalie in the backyard, where she started a bonfire and tossed Edward's possessions in, one by one. It got physical once I restrained her, and she hissed and bit and fought until she couldn't anymore, and she, too, cried in my arms.

It's what I do, now.

I comfort the others. I convince them that we will be okay, that we will go on.

I'm hunting with Alice in the woods outside Ithaca when she sees Charlie decide. She stops short, just a few feet away from a startled deer. It scurries away as I approach.

"What is it, Alice?" I ask. Her eyes are glassy, her arms wrapped around her stomach.

"Charlie," she says. "He's... he's thinking about killing himself, Carlisle. He just decided-I saw him shoot himself. And then he changed his mind."

I pull her close, wrap my arms around her thin frame, and she shudders against me.

"I have to go help him," she whispers.

"I'll come with you," I promise. Alice and Charlie have always been friendly, and it is she who spent the most time with him after Edward and Bella passed. But even though Alice still grieves for her brother and sister, I imagine I'm the only one who comes close to understanding how Charlie feels.

Alice stiffens in my arms and pulls away. "No," she says, shaking her head slowly. She has that far-off look in her eyes, a sort of squint that she gets when she's sifting through possible futures. "No, I don't go. You go alone. That's what happens."

"Are you sure?" I ask, confused. I take her hand and squeeze.

"Yes," she says, smiling sadly. "Charlie needs you."

I nod and turn back to the forest, pulling her deeper into the woods so we can hunt before I leave. I don't know if she means for me to hear her; her whisper is so quiet that it's difficult for even me to pick up.

"And you need him."


"Hi Charlie! It's Alice," she squeals.

"Alice," I greet her, settling back in my chair. I open another beer and take a long pull, closing my eyes to shut out the mess that my home has become.

"How are you?" she asks.

"Getting by, Alice," I tell her. "How are you?"

"I'm good, Charlie. Staying busy," she says. She tells me about a history class, about Jasper taking up tennis, about Esme planting a rose garden.

"Mmmhmm," I say, responding occasionally.

"So listen, Charlie," she says. "Dad is coming to Forks tomorrow-he has to take care of some business at the hospital. Since we've already rented out the house, he doesn't have anywhere to stay. He would never ask because he doesn't want to impose, but do you think he could stay with you?"

I open my eyes and look around the living room. Empty beer cans, pizza boxes, cartons of Chinese takeout. Mud tracked on the floor from my last fishing trip with Billy three weeks ago.

"I don't think that's a good idea, Alice," I tell her. "I'm real busy, working a lot of hours this week," I lie.

"He'll just be there for one night, two at the most," she says. "He'd really like to see you."

"I... well, I would say yes, but the house isn't fit for company, right now, Alice," I admit. Neither am I.

"Oh, Carlisle doesn't care about that," she says, giggling. "I'll let him know it's okay with you. He'll be there around four o'clock tomorrow, Charlie. I gotta go, but thanks! Bye!"


I look around the room again and sigh before draining my beer. Guess I better clean this place up. I grab a trash bag from the kitchen and walk around, gathering up trash. I'm not even halfway done before the first bag is full and I have to haul it outside.

It takes two hours, but I get the place in good shape. Presentable, at least. I trudge to the top of the stairs and open up the linen closet to grab some blankets and an extra pillow for the couch. I rifle through the towels and blankets, looking for something nice-close to what the doctor's probably used to-but my eyes are drawn to the door at my left.

Bella's door. Bella's bedroom, untouched since she left my house on the morning of her wedding.

It's been two years, and I suppose the normal thing to do would be to clean it out. At least tidy it up a little, change the sheets, and let Carlisle sleep in there. I've thought about it a few times, even put my hand on the doorknob, but I just can't bring myself to do it.

It's getting late, so I drop the pile of bedding on the couch and head back upstairs to sleep. I strip down to my boxers and brush my teeth in the bathroom, staring at Bella's door the whole time. It's probably rude of me not to offer him the bed, but I'm sure he'll understand.


"Charlie," I greet him, smiling as he opens the door for me.

"Doc," he says, nodding once. He stands back and lets me pass, shutting the door quietly behind us. I spot his gun belt hanging from a hook on the wall and wince, recalling Alice's vision. She hasn't seen him make any firm decisions, but he's wavered back and forth a few times.

Alice has seen him shoot himself here in the house, or out in the woods. He alternates between not caring how it happens and trying to make it look like an accident.

"Made up the couch for you," he says, walking into the living room.

"This will be perfect," I tell him, dropping my overnight bag on the floor. He doesn't offer Bella's bedroom, of course, but I wouldn't feel right taking it anyway.

Charlie stands awkwardly, shuffling from one foot to another. I sit on the couch next to the pile of linens and he follows suit, sitting in an armchair across from me. The room smells like human-like Charlie-but also like beer, stale food, and dust.

"So, hospital business?" Charlie asks, finally.

"Yes, some charts I had to review for an audit," I lie. "I wanted to check on the house, too. I'm so sorry for imposing, Charlie."

"Not a problem," he says, shrugging his shoulders.

"Alice can be persuasive," I suggest, and he just nods.

"She's a good kid," he finally says. "Can I get you a beer?"

"No, thanks. I'm not thirsty," I tell him. I just hunted and drank a few wolves so I wouldn't be thirsty around you. His eyes glaze over for a second and then he turns and walks into the kitchen.

When he comes back with a tall can in his hand, he takes the seat across from me again and just stares.

"How's Esme?" he asks.

"Good," I lie. "She spends a lot of time in her garden." She's not the same. She blames herself for suggesting that Edward and Bella go so far away on their honeymoon. She's pulled away from me and spends all of her time in that damn garden, planting, digging up, and re-planting the same rose bushes over and over again.

"The kids?"

"They're good, too. Busy with college," I tell him, another lie. Emmett and Rosalie are on their own for a while, traveling in northern Europe. Alice spends most of her time drawing, although she's been trying to learn the piano, too. Jasper is the only one enrolled in college, but he's miserable without his siblings. He actually earned a C in one of his classes because he didn't care enough to show up for the midterm; it's a first for the Cullen family.

"That's what Alice says," he mutters. We sit quietly for a while, what feels like seconds for me but must be an awkwardly long time for Charlie. "Wanna go to the diner? Get some dinner?" he asks.

"Sure, Charlie."

I let him drive, leaving my rental car in front of his house. We're silent in the car, too, interrupted only occasionally by the crackle of the police radio. We sit across from each other at the diner and make small talk-about the menu, the restaurant, the new stoplight on First Avenue. I order steak and a baked potato-experience has taught me which foods can easily be cut up and rearranged, made to look like I've eaten more than I have.

Still, I have to choke down a few bites.

"Do you see Jacob much?" I ask, after we run out of conversation.

"Jake? Uh, no, not much. He goes to the community college up in Port Angeles, he's busy," Charlie says.

"He's a good kid," I offer, and Charlie nods. I wonder silently how he's really coping-if he's still phasing or if he's been able to stop. The idea of paying him a visit crosses my mind, but somehow I don't think I'll be welcome on the reservation ever again.

I check my cell phone surreptitiously while we're driving home. There's a text from Alice:

You have to get Charlie to talk. Drink with him.

I don't relish the idea, but Alice must have seen that it works. Alcohol doesn't affect me, of course, but it's not pleasant.

When we get back to his house, Charlie heads straight for the kitchen and opens the refrigerator.

"Beer?" he asks, holding up a can. I'm hoping for something that can produce the same effect with less... volume.

"Do you have anything stronger?"


The doctor likes whiskey.

He's on his third glass, drinking it straight.

"Wouldn't take you for a whiskey man, Carlisle," I tell him, pouring a shot for myself. I knock it back quickly, relishing the burn in my throat.

"Does the job," he says, slumping back against the seat. He looks a little messy, a little tipsy, and it's surprising. He's always been so confident and uptight. Letting go a little suits him.

"How are you doing, really?" he asks, lifting the glass to his lips.

"Getting by," I tell him, pouring another shot for myself. I let it sit on the coffee table between us and take a sip of my beer.

"Are you?" he asks, settling his empty glass down on the table.

"I'm doing just fine," I lie, a little pissed off at his implication. "I'm doing just as good as any man in my position would be."

He laughs bitterly and pushes his fingers through his perfectly combed blond hair.

"And how good is that? Because I'm not doing so well, Charlie," he says, pouring another glass of Crown.

I'm surprised. He seemed... okay. Seemed like he was moving on, like all of them were. I thought it would be easier for them, because they had each other.

"Thought you said everyone was doing okay? Gardening, college, all that?" I ask, pushing my shot glass around on the coffee table.

"They're not okay. None of us are. They're trying to move on, but we all feel like we're going through the motions, you know?" I nod, because I do know. I put one foot in front of the other every day and I'm getting nowhere.

"I have to tell them every day that it's okay, that we're all gonna be okay. But fuck, Charlie," he says, looking up at me with wide eyes. "Is it? I don't think it is."

"I don't know, Carlisle," I tell him, swallowing the shot of whiskey to wash down the lump in my throat. "I don't know what to tell you."

"Tell me how you cope," he says, resting his elbows on his knees.

"I just... I don't know. I guess I don't, really. I work. I drink. I keep waking up every day," I tell him, looking down at my shoes. "Don't know if it's really worth the trouble."

Doc doesn't have anything to say to that. He just pours himself another glass.

"It has to be, though. Right? It has to be worth the trouble?" he finally says.

"Maybe for you," I tell him. I feel like a shit for thinking what I'm thinking, but I'm a little drunk and it just comes out. "It's easier for you. You have a family. You have people that need you. Bella... well, she never needed me, I guess, but she was all I had."

"Just because I have a family doesn't mean I don't miss him," Carlisle counters. "I miss him, and they miss him, and they all rely on me to be the strong one. But how am I supposed to be the strong one when I'm... I'm not even whole anymore?"

I think he's crying, even though I can't see any tears. He ducks his head and turns away, shuddering and gasping.

I'm a shit.

I move over to the couch, sit next to him, and sling an arm around his shoulders.

"I'm sorry," I tell him. He's cold, and I'm tempted to tuck a blanket around him like I used to for Bella when she was a kid. But we just sit there, quiet except for Carlisle's crying, until he starts to breathe normally again.


I'm not drunk. Vampires can't get drunk; Jasper proved this at some point during the seventies, spurred on by a bet from his brothers.

By acting drunk for Charlie's benefit, though, I somehow feel my inhibitions loosen.

I'm supposed to be here to help him, but he's the one comforting me. He's the one with his arm around my shoulders, telling me he's sorry.

"I'm sorry, too," I tell him.

"We're both sorry," he says, pulling his arm back. He pours us each some more whiskey. "We're both sad old men with holes in our hearts."

He hands me a half-full glass and sits back, tilting his head at me curiously.

"Well, I'm an old man, anyway."

"You're not old, Charlie," I argue. "You've got a lot of time left."

He shrugs. "Maybe."

"Not maybe," I tell him. "You do. It's hard to see it now, but there's a reason you're here."

"Maybe," he says, standing slowly. He sways in place for a minute, then wipes his face with his hands and moves to the kitchen. I hear him stumbling, cursing when he stubs his toe. He comes back with a fresh beer and pops the top. He sits next to me again, instead of in his armchair. "Like what, Doc?" he asks, resuming our conversation.

"What's the reason you're here?" I clarify.

"Yeah," he says. "I have no family left. I like my job but it's nothin' special. I don't even care about fishing anymore. There's nothing that's important to me now that Bella's gone."

I pause and consider his words. I do have a family, and I have talents and abilities that exceed any other doctor in my field, yet I completely understand what he's feeling. It's something I haven't felt since before I changed Edward-a total lack of connection. A lack of passion.

"I suppose you have to make something important," I tell him. "Find something that you can love, and make it yours." I curse my perfect recall at times like this-I can still see human Edward lying in that hospital bed, so close to death. I felt it in my chest, then-a tightness, a need-and I was compelled to take him, to rescue him, to change him.

Charlie looks up at me, his eyelids heavy from exhaustion and alcohol, and I feel it again-that twinge in my chest.

"It's good advice, Doc," he slurs.

"I think it's probably time for us to stop drinking," I tell him, screwing the cap back on to the whiskey bottle.

"Yeah, I should go to bed," he says, standing on wobbly legs. "Are you sure you're gonna be okay down here?"

"I'll be fine," I tell him, smiling wistfully. How I wish I could pass out like Charlie's about to and sleep away my troubles.

"G'night," he says, his warmth and his scent overwhelming me briefly as he passes by on his way to the stairs.

"Goodnight, Charlie."


I don't really want to leave. I don't want to go upstairs and be alone again. There's something so comforting about just being around him... just knowing that he's in as much pain as I am. It's sick, but it helps.

I trudge up the stairs and slip into the bathroom to brush my teeth. My reflection in the mirror is blurry; I have to squint to focus. I look like hell. I'm starting to look like Bella did during that rough patch.

I think about what Carlisle said while I brush my teeth, holding myself steady with one hand on the sink. Maybe he's right. Maybe I have to find something else to care about besides Rainier Beer and ESPN.

How the hell do I go about that? I'm nearly forty, no family, no life to speak of. My only friends live down on the reservation. I think of Billy and all the phone calls I've ignored, the invitations I've turned down, and I feel a twinge of guilt. Sue Clearwater calls, too, though not as much as she used to. She showed some interest a while after Harry died... flirted with me and cooked me dinner a lot.

There just... wasn't any kind of spark there.

Billy tries, and Sue tries. They both understand what it's like to lose someone they love.

But neither of them has lost a child. Carlisle's the only one who's been able to put into words what I couldn't say; that we're not whole anymore.

I loved Bella. She was her own person, stubborn, smart, and caring, and I miss her. But I also feel like I'm missing a piece of myself now-a piece I thought would go on long after I left this Earth.

Is that selfish? I don't know.

I spit foamy toothpaste into the sink and rinse my mouth out with cold water. I still taste like whiskey but it's not as bad, now.

Carlisle is quiet downstairs-I listen at the top of the stairs for a minute before going into my bedroom. I hope he's asleep already.


I try to call Esme as soon as Charlie goes upstairs, but she doesn't answer. I'm not surprised. I call Alice instead and she picks up on the first ring.

"How am I doing?" I ask, stepping out onto Charlie's front porch.

"So well, Carlisle," she says. "You're doing exactly what you need to do."

"Did our talk help? Is there anything else I need to say?" I ask, emotionally exhausted. Normally I encourage Alice to keep her visions to herself and let us figure things out on our own, but tonight I just want her to tell me exactly how it happens. I want someone to guide me, for once.

"No, nothing you need to say," she murmurs. "I need to go, Carlisle, Jasper needs my help. I love you-everything is going to be okay," she says.

"Alice, wait-" I beg, but she's already disconnected.

I go back to Charlie's living room and arrange the pillows and blankets on the couch so they will look used in the morning. Thinking about maintaining the human charade reminds me that I haven't pretended to use the bathroom all evening. I can tell from the pattern of Charlie's breathing that he's still awake in his bedroom, so I walk up the stairs slowly and lock myself in the small bathroom for a few minutes. I flush the toilet and run water in the sink for a few minutes.

When I emerge, Charlie's heart rate has slowed and he is snoring quietly in the room to my right. I turn to go back downstairs, and just the hint of a scent hits me like a brick wall.


I walk to her bedroom door and lay my hand flat against it. Her scent is faint, but still present. It's obvious that Charlie hasn't cleaned out the room yet. It's not my place to go inside, not without Charlie's permission, but I can't stop myself.

As soon as I open the door, Bella's scent hits me like a tidal wave. It bowls me over and makes my knees weak.

Her scent was the strongest for Edward, of course, but she was appealing to all of us. Smelling her now, though, is not making me thirsty.

It reminds me of him. Nearly every memory I have of Bella Swan is tied up in my Edward.

I step into the room and close the door behind me, moving closer to her bed, where her scent is strongest. I recall Edward telling me about the nights they spent together in that bed, curled up together with blankets separating them. Not really to keep her warm, he confessed, but to remind him to be a gentleman.

I lift up the comforter, exposing sheets that haven't been changed in two years, and I find exactly what I'm looking for.

Edward. It smells like Edward in here. The sheets, and especially the pillow. I crawl on my hands and knees into the bed and bury my face in the bedding, breathing him in. Somehow I end up curled up on my side, clutching the pillow to my face and trying to inhale every trace of Edward's scent.

This is all that's left. All that remains, after we cleaned out the house on the Island and moved out of the house in Forks. We still have some of his things-the ones Rosalie didn't burn-but we've all handled them so much that they don't really smell like Edward anymore.

This is all that I have. And I know it will dissipate now, especially since I've disturbed the bedding. I know that someday Charlie will come in here and clean things out, or he'll sell the house and someone else will do it.

This is my only chance. I hold the pillow tighter, gasping and taking great, heaving breaths. I miss him so much. He was my brother, my friend, my son, and I'll never see him again. He just left me without giving me a chance to say goodbye.

I lie there for hours, just breathing.

I tell myself I'll get up when I've had enough, but I realize around two in the morning that I'll never have enough. I whisper my goodbyes to the last trace of Edward left on Earth-I tell him that I miss him, and I'm sorry, and I love him.

I've done a lot of difficult things in my life, but walking away from this bedroom is the hardest. I force myself to stand, though, and smooth down the sheets where I had mussed them. I rearrange the pillows and resist the urge to search the room for more traces of his scent.

My plan is to sneak back down the stairs and read until Charlie wakes up in the morning, but a sound coming from his bedroom makes me pause on the landing.

It's a sob.

"Bella, no!" Charlie cries. I can hear him thrashing in his bed, his sleep clearly disturbed by nightmares. I rest my palm flat against his bedroom door, trying to resist the urge to go to him, to comfort him. How I wish for Jasper's gift at moments like this-it would be so satisfying to be able to give him some peace.

I listen for signs that he's coming out of his nightmare, but his cries only sound more pained as the minutes tick by.

I can't listen to this. I can't stand idly by while he is so clearly in pain.

I have to do something.


In my waking hours, I try to imagine that she went peacefully. Maybe knocked her head on the ceiling or something, before the plane crashed, so she didn't feel any pain.

It's just wishful thinking, but it helps me get through the day.

At night, when I dream about her, my brain lets loose and shows me something much worse.

It's not every night that I wake up in a panic. It was like that for a while, but now it's only three or four times a week that I wake up, gasping just to breathe, and bolt upright in my bed.

Tonight, when it happens, I crash into something cold, hard, and unfamiliar.

"Charlie, it's me," Carlisle says, resting a cool hand on my bare shoulder. "It's just me. You were having a nightmare."

Instinct tells me to push him away- a man my age doesn't need someone to coddle him and tuck him into bed, even if he does wake up screaming. There's a part of me, though, that sees something in Carlisle that I've never found in another person. Maybe it's the fact that we're both a little wrong now, a little off-kilter because of that missing piece that we talked about. Maybe if we lean up against each other, we can shore each other up. Feel right again, for a little bit.

And goddammit if I don't just want to feel somethingbesides hurt.

So instead of pushing him away, I bury my face in his neck and wrap my arms around his waist. He adjusts to my awkward hug and hugs me around my shoulders, pulling me close. It feels so strange to touch someone-it crosses my mind that his body is too firm, too cold, but that can't be right. Has it been so long since I've been held that I don't even remember what it feels like?

I keep myself from sobbing, but I hold on to Carlisle tight and don't let go. He's still for a few minutes and then he starts rubbing my back in slow circles.

"I'm so sorry," he whispers.

I clutch him tighter and shift my head so it's resting on his shoulder. I don't want to talk. If I start talking, I'll tell him to leave, and I don't want him to leave.

He moves his head from side to side, taking deep breaths and holding me even tighter. His lips graze my neck, back and forth over skin that hasn't been touched by anyone else in years.

"God," he growls, the power in his voice surprising me. "You smell-"

He pauses in the middle of his sentence. Not like he's trying to think of the right word, but like he's stopping himself from saying the wrong one.

"I shouldn't be this close," he breathes, lifting his head from my neck.

No, Doc, you probably shouldn't be, I think. But a lot of things happen that shouldn't happen.

He moves like he's gonna pull away, and I squeeze him tighter. I feel him struggling for control as I pull him closer, as I fall back into bed and pull him down on top of me.

"Just stay," I beg, my voice cracking. "Please. I need to feel something. I need you."


If I had my wits about me, I would leave.

It's wrong to be so close to him-this isn't what Alice sent me here to do. He needs a friend, a confidant, someone to help him process his grief. This is far too intimate for the relationship we've established, and it feels utterly inappropriate.

It's wrong to be so close to him, but I can't bring myself to pull away. He smells so utterly delicious that I can't seem to stop breathing him in. It's Bella's scent, muddled with the scent of alcohol and some other notes that are pure Charlie. I've noticed the similarities before, but it's never been so concentrated as it is here in Charlie's own bedroom, his arms open and his neck exposed.

My control is impeccable, so Charlie is in no danger. Even if he were to spill his blood here in front of me, I could still resist the urge to drink from him. But the scent is intoxicating, and he's begging me to stay...

I let him hold me, pull me closer, even though I could easily get away.

I wince as I settle over him, wondering if he feels my erection pressed between us. My thoughts are not prurient, but I long ago accepted that the term bloodlust exists for a reason. The more I breathe in the scent of his blood pulsing beneath a thin layer of delicate flesh, the more my own body responds.

I don't know if he can't feel me or if he doesn't care. His arms wind around my neck and he holds on tightly, his fingers clutching the fabric of my shirt.

"It's okay," he says, the stubble on his jaw brushing against my neck. At first I think he's comforting me, but then I feel him shifting below me. He arranges his body so it cradles mine, his legs splayed so we're lined up perfectly. Sinfully.

I open my mouth to speak, hoping the right words will come, but I choke on my own guilt. I came here to give him comfort, and instead I am taking from him.

"It's okay," he repeats. "Just please, stay." He presses his lips to my flesh and lingers there, brushing the softest little kisses over my neck.

It's wrong.

I gather my resolve and move to pull away from him again, but my shift in position makes one thing absolutely clear.

Whatever Charlie's motivation for keeping me in his bed, his body is responding to mine.

"My God," I moan, pressing myself against him. He arches up against me and tangles his fingers in my hair, urging me to tilt my head. My lips find his like they're magnetized, like there's no choice but for them to come together.

My lingering moral objections go out the window when his lips touch mine. I'm still mindful of the fact that I have to be careful with him, that I have to stay in control, but his easy acceptance of my sudden and uncontrollable lust frees me in a way I couldn't have anticipated.

We don't speak-there are no whispered desires, no pleas for more. He is warm and pliant underneath me, rocking his hips against mine as I chase the kind of pleasure I haven't felt in... well, in years. He isn't forceful or aggressive, choosing instead to accept my kisses as I dole them out.

I can feel the tension building as my hips rut against Charlie's, and I swallow a groan when I realize I can't move much faster without endangering him. Instead of increasing the speed or the pressure or my movements, I open my senses and indulge in his taste, his touch, his scent.

I let myself focus on the softness of his mouth, the bristle of his mustache against my upper lip, his warm hands roaming my back. His mouth-watering, intoxicating scent...

I toss my head back and cry out as my orgasm finds me, my hips jerking between Charlie's thighs. He holds me steady, sure hands smoothing over my back as I come down from the most powerful release I've had in decades.

Mindful of the liquid starting to seep though my pants, I roll to the other side of Charlie's bed, noting how much firmer the unused side of the mattress feels. I can still see his erection tenting his boxers. Selfish, I chide myself. I've never been a selfish lover, and I'm not about to start now. I reach for him, but he grabs my wrist as soon as my fingers touch the waistband of his underwear.

"No," he says, shaking his head firmly. He rolls to his side and rests his head on my chest, curling his fingers around my bicep. "Just stay here for a little while."

I wrap an arm around his shoulders and comb my fingers through his hair. I don't know if he's conflicted about what we've done or if all he wanted was the closeness; either way, I know I can't leave him now.

"Sleep," I tell him, kissing the top of his head. "I'll stay."

It doesn't take long for his heart rate to slow, his breathing to even out, and his body to relax against mine.

I reach for his comforter and drag it carefully up over his body, tucking it between the two of us to keep him warm. He'd be warmer still if I moved or left the bed, but I promised him that I'd stay.


I wake up to the smell of coffee.

I don't make it at home much, so the smell takes me by surprise. Reminds me that I have a visitor.

The sun is fucking blinding, so I roll out of bed and stumble to the bathroom. I stare at myself in the mirror again and go over what I remember of last night in my head.

Carlisle, in my bed. I supposed I should feel ashamed or freaked out about what happened, but I really can't bring myself to be upset about it. I've had so many other things to be upset over... this seems trivial in comparison.

Besides, I sort of feel a little... different. Maybe not better, but less awful, despite the hangover that's brewing.

I pull on a pair of jeans and an old Stones t-shirt, adding a flannel because of the chill in the air, and make my way down to the kitchen. Carlisle is sitting at my table, a mostly empty cup of coffee beside him, reading something on one of those cell phones with Internet and ninety-seven other features nobody really needs.

"Morning," I mumble, moving to the coffee pot.

"Charlie," he says, nodding.

I chuckle as I pour myself a cup of Folgers. When I look back at him, he's laughing too.

"Well, I suppose I should say that I apologize-" he starts, but I gesture for him to stop.

"I don't think we really need to do this part," I tell him. He nods, sheepishly, and plays with the coffee cup in front of him.

"Look, Doc, I'm not a big talker. I don't want to analyze it. I'm okay. Are you okay?" I ask him, hoping we can avoid any drawn-out, awkward conversations. He takes a minute to think before he answers.

"I'm certainly okay with anything that happened last night," he says, swirling the dregs of coffee left in his cup. "But I'm worried about you, Charlie. Alice is worried. We all are."

I could tell him what I tell everyone else, that I'm getting by just fine, but after last night I know he won't believe me.

"Alice doesn't need to be worrying about me," I tell him. "She's young. She's got her own life to live."

"She's more mature than you think, Charlie. She worries about the future, about... your future. I'd like to be able to go back home and tell her that I'm confident that you're healing, but I'm afraid that's not the case. Do you have any kind of support system?"

"I have people," I argue. "I have friends."

"When was the last time you talked to them?" Carlisle counters. He leans closer, his forearms resting on the kitchen table, and looks me in the eye. "Let them help, Charlie. Let us help. Even if you just need someone to be here with you, without talking at all."

I nod, thinking about Billy, Sue, the guys at the station. People that I've been avoiding because it's easier to cut myself off than explain how I'm feeling. Maybe Carlisle's right, though-it's nice having another person around. Billy, at least, won't push me-maybe I can start with him.

"Suppose I do want to talk to someone about things?" I ask, looking down into my cup of coffee. I know he's leaving soon, going back to his family, but I want some kind of reassurance that all this hasn't been in my head. There's some kind of connection here, some understanding that makes me feel like I'm less alone in the world.

"You've got my number. Call me anytime, day or night," he offers. His arm stretches across the table and he grips my wrist, squeezing gently. "I mean that literally. Anytime."

I give him another sharp nod and drain the last of my coffee. I'm grateful for his offer and feeling a little less miserable than usual this morning.

"My flight leaves at two," he says, releasing my arm. He leans back and lifts up his phone again, scrolling quickly through some information. "I should probably head out?"

He makes it a question, so I know I can ask him to stay.

"You should probably get goin' then," I tell him, pushing my chair back so I can stand up. He smiles, stands with me, and lets me walk him to the door. We shuffle awkwardly next to my front door until

He ignores my outstretched hand and wraps one arm around my shoulders, stepping closer until his chest is pressed to mine. It's different now, in the light of day-less desperate and more friendly. I thump his back in that we're-just-guys kind of way, and he squeezes tightly before he lets me go.

"Take care of yourself."

"Seeya, Doc," I tell him.

"Soon, Charlie. See you soon," he says.


I watch the "Welcome to Forks" sign in my rearview mirror until it fades away.

I thought my time with Charlie would be spent having long, clinical conversations about grief and loss. I came here intending to call upon my psychiatry training to help him heal.

But we didn't need to talk, not really. He didn't need to explain his grief to me, because I felt it, too. And I couldn't really teach him how to move on, not after I realized how little of my own grief I'd actually dealt with.

So instead of healing him, I held him. We took comfort in each other, and Charlie allowed me to feel good for the first time since we lost Edward and Bella. He reminded what it was like to take pleasure, to demand something more, to find joyful moments even when my days are still tinged with sorrow.

I don't spend the trip home worrying about my family-I've spent too much time worrying lately. Instead, I make plans. I'll take Esme hunting in Ontario, take Alice shopping in New York, maybe take Jasper down to visit some of the Civil War battlefields in Pennsylvania and Virginia. I'll call Rosalie and Emmett and ask them to come home, because I miss them terribly and I don't say it often enough.

Maybe we'll even go to Brazil, to the tiny island that's been in our family for decades. To lie in the sun and swim with the sharks and remember our Edward and his Bella.

There are a hundred possibilities, but what I know, now, is that we have to do something. We have to move forward.


The phone rings that afternoon, taking me by surprise. I pause the Mariners game I taped last night and pick up the receiver in the kitchen.

"Hello?" I ask, reaching into the refrigerator for a beer-my first of the day.

"How've you been, old man?" Billy asks, his voice quieter, a little more tentative than it used to be.

My stock response comes to mind, but I swallow it down. Carlisle's right, I need to let someone in, and Billy's my oldest friend.

"Not great, Billy," I tell him. "It's been kinda rough." It's hard to get the words out, and part of me is afraid he's gonna push me for more.

"I know, Charlie. I know," he says, his voice echoing my own sadness. "Jake's home for the weekend, and he'd love it if you came down. We both would."

I could say no, and he wouldn't force the issue. I could stay here and drink until I'm ready to pass out again. I don't have to go-but I don't want to be alone anymore.

"Yeah, alright," I tell him, dumping my half-full beer down the kitchen sink. "I'll be there in twenty."

I welcome any feedback you have-please leave a review.

Thanks to SuperKannen for the beta job.

Thanks to donnersun for inspiring this mess. It started as a joke-she said she'd read any old thing I wrote, even if it was (something gross like) Carlisle/Charlie. I said "Challenge accepted." This was supposed to be funny, but it sort of turned into this.

If you'd like to read something smuttier now, head on over to the Dirty Talking Jasper contest page. One of the entries is mine. :)