This story is AU/OOC.
All characters belong to Stephanie Meyer. No copyright infringement intended.
Mature readers 18+ only please.
Jacob and my grandbabies were at my house this Christmas morning opening presents. My grandbabies were on top of the world. This year, Jacob had declared that they didn't have to attend Reverend Weber's mass nor did they have to visit their other grandparents for the day and they were happy as clams at high tide. They didn't dislike their Weber grandparents, they were simply too strict, stoic, and boring. I had to admit that it made me all giddy inside knowing that I was their favorite grandparent.
Right now, the kids were opening the gifts that were under the tree for them. Jacob and I both noted that Angela didn't bother sending gifts to the kids, but at least her parents did. Their other grandparents sent the kids their usual gift of a fifty-dollar savings bond each. I thought it was a nice, long-lasting gift, albeit a bit boring for them. This had been their standard gift each Christmas and birthday so each of the kids had tidy sums saved up.
Yesterday, Paul and Bella had dropped gifts off to the kids. They were such a kind couple and they genuinely cared for all of the kids in the pack. Whenever I spoke to Paul on the phone, he made it a point to ask how all of the kids were doing. He seemed to especially have a soft spot for Willy to whom he spoke to occasionally on the phone. Why wouldn't he, though? Willy was smart enough to run to Paul and Bella when he needed help.
Willy walked up to me carrying a small wrapped box. "Grandpa, this one is for you. It has your name on it."
I glanced at the gift tag, it simply read, 'For Quileute Chief William E. Black.'
"Any idea who this is from, Jake?"
"Not a clue," my son replied shaking his head. He looked about as confused as I was.
"Aren't you going to open it, Grandpa?" Willy chortled excitedly.
"Please, Grandpa," Sarah begged. "You never get surprise presents."
"Sure, why not?" I examined the gift, which was topped off with an elaborate bow. I carefully slipped the bow off then worked on removing the tape from the wrapping paper. It was so beautiful that I didn't want to tear the paper.
"Grandpa!" Willy huffed. "You're supposed to rip the wrapping paper off! It's part of the fun."
"No, he's not, Willy! He can save the paper because it's beautiful," Sarah retorted. "Grandpa, can I have the bow? It's really pretty."
"Of course you can." I handed it to her and watched as she gently placed it into one of her gift bags. After I finally unwrapped the gift, I handed the paper to her as well. She took it and placed it into her bag with a big smile on her face. I wouldn't be surprised if she used those items to make one of her crafts. It was amazing how very simple things brought her great pleasure. She reminded me so much of her grandmother who would have doted upon her if she were still alive.
"Well, open it!" Willy ordered impatiently.
"Hold your horses, I'm getting there." I popped off the lid and found a set of keys inside. I lifted it out of the box and curiously inspected it.
"Those are keys, Dad," Jacob informed me.
"Yes, Jacob. I do know what keys look like. I'm not senile yet. Why would anyone give me keys?"
"I don't know, Dad." He inspected the keys closely. "They belong to a Toyota. Was there anything else in the box?" I looked inside the box and found nothing—no note or anything. I shook my head, utterly confused.
"Well, let's head over to Charlie and Sue's, maybe they'll know something."
"Yeah, good idea."
I pocketed the odd gift and we headed to the Swans. When we arrived, the front yard was bustling with kids running around. Jacob shooed his kids off to play with the other kids. Rebecca clung to Sarah who picked her up and walked inside of the house with her.
"Jacob, Sarah has too much responsibility. She's only eleven years old, you have to ease some of the burden off of her."
"I'm trying, Dad. I've been working with the counselor. He said that Sarah likes to take care of Rebecca because it gives her an excuse not to socialize with kids her own age. He suggested that we find an extra-curricular activity for her. I've been looking, but I can't find anything that fits my schedule."
"We'll figure it out together, son," I told him while, once again, I inwardly cursed at myself for the loss of use of my legs. If only I could drive, I'd be able to take a greater role in raising my grandbabies.
Jacob wheeled me into the house where Charlie immediately greeted me with, "Merry Christmas."
"Merry Christmas to you, too, my friend. Have you had a good day so far?"
"Are you kidding me? I have my daughter and son-in-law home for once."
"Where is Bella?"
"She's out running with Babs and Linda. They've been gone for an hour, they should be back soon."
"They're exercising on Christmas? Are they insane?"
"I'd say they are," Leah piped in. "They wanted me to go with them. I told them that Santa Claus expects everyone to rest on Christmas Day since he was out all yesterday delivering gifts. Bella actually had the nerve to tell me that Santa Claus could stand to work out a little! "
"Where are Paul and Crispy?"
"I'm in here!" Crispy yelled from the kitchen.
"What are you doing in the kitchen?"
"Ah, glad it's you and not me. Where's Paul?"
"He's still sleeping."
"Isn't it a little late for him to be sleeping?" I questioned.
"It's only seven forty-five am."
I turned to Jacob. "Exactly what time did you and the kids come over to my house this morning?"
"Six-thirty? Why so early?"
"The kids wanted to open their presents."
"It was the same at our house, Billy. Leah and Seth were knocking on our door at seven."
"Hey, Charlie, I need to ask you a..."
I was interrupted by Bella and Babs both entering into the house.
"Oh, hey, Billy," Bella greeted, kissing me on the cheek. "Merry Christmas. You're here early."
"Merry Christmas, sweetheart. You're awake early."
"I know it's early; we told Linda we'd meet her at six-thirty so we could run with her and her brothers. She's psychotic, by the way. Were you aware of this?"
"She's just slightly psychotic, but then again, I know for a fact that you can be a bit obsessive about your workouts too."
"That's because I like to eat."
"And that's a good reason to exercise."
Bella smiled then turned to her father. "Is Paul still sleeping?"
"I haven't seen him yet."
"I'm not surprised. He was up doing paperwork until three in the morning. I want him to sleep in; he's been pushing himself too hard."
"You know, he says the same thing about you, Bella," Crispy piped in. "He thinks you work too hard and wants you to quit working."
"And become a trophy wife," Babs jested.
"He doesn't want a trophy wife. What the heck would Paul do with one of those?"
"She's right, I don't want a trophy wife. I just want her to drop her hours down to part time," Paul joined in, walking out of the bedroom clad in pajama pants and rubbing the sleep out of his eyes.
"We're not going to have this discussion again, are we?" Bella asked.
"No, because you're never going to listen to me."
"Don't even start," Babs warned Crispy.
"I wasn't going to say a thing. I'm just minding my own business making pancakes."
"Good, keep up the good work. I'm going to take a shower." Babs scooted off to the bathroom; meanwhile Crispy went back to work in the kitchen while Paul took a seat on the sofa dragging Bella onto his lap.
"So, why is everyone here so early?" Paul asked.
"It's Christmas. The kids wanted to open presents," Charlie said.
"I didn't give it to them yet," Bella noted specifically to Paul.
"Well, go and get it. It's Christmas."
"Right." Bella rushed off to the bedroom and returned with an envelope that she handed to Charlie. "For Sue and you, Daddy."
"You didn't have to get us anything. Having you home with us for Christmas is the greatest gift you could give us."
"We wanted to do this," Bella insisted.
"Susie, come here. The kids got us a present."
Sue walked out and kissed Bella then Paul on their cheeks. "You didn't have to buy us a gift."
"Open it," Paul suggested. By now, everyone was in the living room except for the showering Babs.
Charlie handed Sue the envelope and she pulled out some paperwork. Her eyes widened. "Oh Lord. This is...this is...this is too generous. My goodness. We can't accept this."
"What is it, Susie?" She passed the paperwork too Charlie.
"This is...this is...holy sh...!" Charlie took a look around the room, noticing the wide-eyed children surrounding him... "Holy Shazbot!" Fortunately, he chose not to curse; otherwise Sue would have boxed his ears in.
"What is it? The suspense is killing me!" I barked.
"It's a twenty-one day South Pacific vacation to Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji. All expenses paid; including four days of deep sea fishing in Fiji and massages at every stop." He examined the paperwork closer. "This leaves on January 20th. Susie and I can't get time off from work that..."
Seth interrupted him. "The guys and I worked it out for you and Mom—both here and at the hospital. We've got you covered, you're good to go."
"This is an outrageous gift. It must have cost a fortune."
Paul and Bella both shrugged their shoulders. "You deserve it and you're going to need it; especially with the baby coming."
"Wait a minute! What baby?" I questioned.
"Dad and Sue just found out they're having a baby," Bella said.
"Aren't they a little old?"
"Men are never too old and while Sue might be on the older side, until she reaches full menopause; she can still release an errant egg or two."
"I see. Good Lord. I didn't think I'd be babysitting an infant again," I said a bit shocked.
"We've got our first volunteer babysitter, Susie. Everyone heard Billy, right?" Charlie questioned the room in general.
"I heard him loud and clear," Jacob stated.
"Well, of course I'm going to babysit. How often does Charlie have a baby anyway? By the way, I doubt it'll be as adorable as the last one he had over thirty years ago. She was a cutie."
"Aww, thanks, Billy." Bella approached me with a hug.
"You're welcome, sweetheart."
"Thanks, baby girl, for the very generous gift," Charlie stated, giving Bella a hug. He went on to hug Paul as well. "Thank you, son."
"You're welcome," they both replied.
"Well, Susie, you'd best be pulling out that bikini if we're hitting the beach." Charlie wagged his eyebrows at his wife.
"At least you won't have to worry about birth control," Leah joked.
I decided that now was a good time to bring up the mysterious gift that I received. "So, I opened a present this morning and it contained a set of keys. I was just wondering if anyone knew anything about it." I fished the keys out of my pocket. "According to Jacob, they belong to a Toyota." Everyone looked confused except for Paul, Bella, and Charlie who glanced between each other. "What's going on?"
"Billy, I have to show you something." Charlie stood up and wheeled me out of the house. He brought me to the garage and opened it. Inside was a red minivan. "Hit the unlock button, then hold down the auxiliary button on the keys."
I did as Charlie ordered and watched as the door unlocked then opened. I realized it was a handicapped accessible van. What a wonderful friend I had. Not many friends would go out of their way and buy a van with a ramp so he could tote his wheelchair bound friend around. "Charlie, you went out and purchased a ramp van just so you could drive me around town? Thanks, buddy."
"Whoa there, not so fast. This van isn't mine. It's yours and it's not from me, it's from Paul and Bella."
"Paul and Bella? Why? You know something, forget why. I can't accept this gift. It's much too expensive. Besides, I can't afford the insurance or the gas on it—not to mention that I can't drive it. I know that they're wealthy, but they shouldn't go around showing off and throwing their money around like rock stars."
"You listen to me, Billy Black, and listen to me good. Paul and Bella don't show off. Yes, they do have money, but you know very well that they don't flaunt their wealth. They purchased the van for you so you would have more mobility as the Chief of the Quileute Nation. Their reasoning was three-fold. First and foremost, they wanted you to be able to improve your quality of life. You were house bound and pretty much at the mercy of whomever would drive you around to run your errands. Both of them felt that you were too young to be in that situation. Second, they did it for your grandkids. They wanted them to be able to see you as the active guy you really are. Third, and this is Paul's reason in particular for doing this—he did it for the good of the reservation. He felt that part of the reason why Fuller has so much of his hands in tribal business which has nothing to do with him is because you aren't mobile enough to oversee day to day operations and the infrastructure enough. And I'm sorry to say that I agree with him. You're the tribal chief, Billy. In the end, all of this crap falls onto your shoulders and it's time you took a bigger role and actually ran the tribe instead of relying on others."
"Charlie, if you haven't noticed I can't walk!"
"So what? You can still use the rest of your body and you can use that brain of yours, too. The last time I checked, they still work. You can't keep blaming your handicap for your lack of involvement."
Never in my life, did I ever expect Charlie to be so forthright. He was only speaking the truth, of course. Still, the truth came as a shock, and to own the truth—it really stung.
"Listen, Billy—you and I have been best friends since we were kids hanging onto our fathers' coattails while they stood at the riverbank and fished together. I'm only telling you the absolute truth when I tell you that you need this mode of transportation more than anyone."
"Okay, you've proven your point. It still doesn't change the fact that this is an outrageous gift that I can't afford. I also refuse to be a charity case."
"You're not a charity case, Billy. I'm just paying back some of what I owe to this tribe," Paul informed me, walking into the garage. "You know how unfit my parents were. They should never have had custody of me because they were either drunk, stoned, or committing some sort of a crime. With them being so insipid and incapable, I should have never found success in my life, but I did. I became successful because of families like yours, the Uleys, the Clearwaters, and the Camerons who made sure that I was looked after and taught important values so I wouldn't turn into a derelict of society." He turned to me with a serious expression in his eyes. "I owe the members of this tribe a great deal, and the best way that I could think of to give back is to restore pride, honor, strength, and self-sufficiency to our people. The first step in achieving that is to re-establish your independence so that you can efficiently serve as tribal chief without having to rely on others."
"Paul, you don't understand—even if I do accept the vehicle, I can't afford to maintain it."
"You may not be able to, but I can," Jacob assured walking into the garage. "I'll pay for your gas and insurance in exchange for your babysitting services. You know where my marriage is headed Dad. I'm really going to need your help with the kids after school until I get home."
"Jake, that doesn't exactly make me self-reliant. It still makes me..."
"Stop being so fucking stubborn, Billy!" Charlie chastised. "Suck up that pride of yours and see this for what it is. This van is your road to independence and Paul, Bella, and Jake want to help you get there—that's all there is to it! Now are you going to be a stubborn old goat or do I have to kick your ass to get you to agree?"
"I can beat the shit out of you even from this wheelchair."
"That's the Billy I know."
"So you'll take the van?"
"Yes, I will. Thank you, Paul." I extended my hand to shake his, but he surprised me by engulfing me in a hug. I had a feeling that Bella was an excellent influence on him, the angry Paul Lahote that left La Push thirteen years ago would have never shown outward physical affection to anyone.
He handed me a folder. "This is your paperwork and the rest of your gift. You have to take a class at Forks Hospital to learn how to drive the van. Charlie has already volunteered to take you to the class. I also paid for your insurance for the year and included a few gas cards to get you started."
"You didn't need to do that."
"It was no problem—really. Besides, the insurance and gas were Bella's idea. You really don't want to hurt her feelings, do you?"
"Thank you, Paul. I'll be thanking Bella as well."
"She's taking a shower right now. Why don't you check out the interior of your new van?"
"Alright, I will." I wheeled myself up the ramp, conscious that Charlie, Jake, and Paul were watching me. I immediately noticed how luxurious the all leather interior was. I was a bit confused as to how I was supposed to get into the driver's seat though. "Where am I supposed to sit?"
Charlie came to the rescue. "Alright, when they delivered this van, I asked a few questions. Apparently, you wheel yourself in, push this button here, and the driver's seat will swivel out so you can transfer yourself into it. As soon as you do that, you push the button again, the seat swivels to face the wheel and you adjust the seat to where it's comfortable for you to drive."
"Gee whiz, talk about advancement in technology. What the hell is this thing?" I asked, pointing to the wheel."
"That knob controls your accelerator and the other controls your brake. That's why you have to take this class. It's a good thing you've been continuing to renew your driver's license; otherwise you'd have to take another road test too."
I put my hands on the wheel and looked out through the windshield. I had to admit that it felt fantastic to be behind the wheel of a car again. I couldn't wait to start driving. Perhaps Paul was right. Perhaps this van was the beginning of my road to independence.
It took some convincing, but with Charlie's blunt speech, I finally accepted the conversion van from Bella and Paul as a gift. I was positive that the van would pave the way for improvement, both in my life, my grandbabies lives, and for the good of the tribe. We were sitting in the living room having breakfast when Sarah suddenly came out of the bathroom sobbing her eyes out.
"What's wrong, sweet pea?" Jacob asked.
"I don't know. There was blood."
"Blood? Did you cut yourself?"
"No...it was from...it was from...where I peed."
"From where you peed? How did you cut yourself there?"
Yeah, how did she cut herself there? I was curious myself.
"Hey, Sarah, don't cry. A cut is nothing. I saw 'Hello Kitty' bandages in Aunty Babs' medical bag," Crispy told her.
"Are you men done?" Bella questioned with a raised eyebrow. She looked nonplussed.
"What?" we questioned. What the heck was Bella going on about? And why did the other women look pissed off at us as well.
She shook her head then smiled at Sarah. "Honey, come with me to the bathroom and you can tell me more about what happened."
Sarah nodded her head and took Bella's hand. Babs ran in after them.
"What the heck is she all surly about?" Paul asked, referring to his wife.
"Yeah," we all agreed.
"You idiots!" Sue chastised in a whisper. "Sarah has most likely started her period."
"Her period?" all of us men questioned, appalled.
"Isn't she a little young?" Jake asked.
"What's a period?" Willy questioned.
"It's a...a..." I stuttered. Oh my God. How the hell were we supposed to broach this subject?
"Honestly, Jacob, this is something that you should have discussed with your children years ago," Sue informed him.
"Well, it's not like anyone discussed it with me."
This was very true. I was too terrified to discuss sex with him. I never quite knew how to broach the subject.
"Well, what's a period?"
"Don't tell him anything. You men will bungle up the explanation. Wait for Bella and me," Babs yelled from the hallway.
"Hey, we can handle an explanation about periods," an annoyed Crispy replied. "Alright, Willy, when a girl reaches a certain age, her body starts to develop. Her breasts grow and...um..." Crispy's ears were a bright shade of crimson.
"Let me try," Jake stated. "Son, when a girl reaches a certain age, her body starts going through changes. One of the changes involves...things getting bigger and hair growing in all different sorts of places that you can't even imagine..."
"Jesus, Jake! You're going to scare the boy. You're making it sound like she's going to turn into a caveman!" Leah chastised.
Oh, this is bad. As tribal chief, I should attempt to tell him. "Um, William...once a month, women go through mood swings, they become cranky, downright impossible to reason with, and this all happens because..." I looked up to find Sue and Leah towering over me with evil glares on their faces.
"Are you trying to terrorize the poor boy?" Sue questioned.
"No, I'm just telling him what I know."
"Then what the heck are you going on about?"
"PMS! I just want the boy to know what to expect!" I argued.
"Yeah, honesty is good. You know what Susie's like when she's on her period and I remember what Sarah was like, too, but no one—no one can compare to Renee PMS-ing." Thank God for friends, I knew Charlie would understand where I was coming from.
"They can't possibly be as bad as when Kyla's on the rag," Seth piped in.
"What did you just call it, Seth?" Kyla questioned.
"That's not what I heard." She was looking fierce and let's just say that I wouldn't want to argue with her. I've seen Kyla angry before and it wasn't a pleasant sight. Poor Seth was cowering under his wife's glare. I was actually concerned about his physical well-being.
We were all saved when Bella and Babs walked out of the bathroom with Sarah who had a confident smile on her face. My little granddaughter marched up to Jacob and said, "Daddy, I started my period today. You need to take me to the store tomorrow and buy me bras, napkins, and a new outfit."
"Sure, sure, honey. Are you okay? Are you sure you want me to go with you or do you want one of your aunties to take you?"
"No, Daddy, I want you to take me. I like spending time with you."
I caught sight of Bella nodding to Jacob. "I'd love to go with you. How about if we make it a day? Maybe Grandpa can watch your brothers and sisters while we go to the mall? Just the two of us. Would you like that?"
Sarah bounded into Jake's arms and I swear there wasn't a dry eye in the room.
"That's my girl," Jake soothed.
"Will someone please explain to me what a period is?" William questioned.
"Come on, Willy, Aunty Babs and I will tell you all about it. We're going to go for a walk," Bella told him.
As they were leaving the house, William asked them, "What does 'on the rag' mean?"
"Did I or did I not ask you men not to attempt to explain anything?" Babs asked.
We all pointed to Seth. "It was him!"
She shook her head and grunted as she left. A while later, they returned with Willy who looked confused.
"What's wrong, kiddo?" I asked Willy.
"Grandpa, which came first? The chicken or the egg?"
"Well, now that's a question that we as men will spend our entire lives trying to answer. Don't sweat it. Just be happy that we have chickens, eggs, and women to make our lives less complicated."
The next morning, I drove Sarah to the mall and took her shopping. I realized that this was the first time that I'd ever spent time alone with her. Generally, my time was spent working so I could make ends meet. It wasn't like we were poor; it's just that Angela's spending habits had been out of control. That has come to a stop though; the judge made sure of it.
Last week, I went to court to file a legal separation from Angela. We went to an official hearing and, though Angela petitioned for the kids, the social worker recommended that they be placed with me, and the Forks Police Department backed him up with evidence of her being physically and verbally abusive to the children. After hearing that, the judge issued a continuance on the restraining order put through by the Forks Police Department.
Since our separation, I've taken back control of our finances. For one, her name was removed from the credit cards I shared with Angela. I had brought meticulous records of each and every bill I paid and the court agreed that those purchases were her responsibility. I also am no longer responsible for her car payment or insurance. The judge also ordered Angela to pay child support to the tune of 538 dollars monthly. She requested spousal support, but he didn't grant it stating that she did not need additional support and that her income as a secretary was sufficient since she was living with her parents again and had no rent to speak of.
"Daddy, can we go to that store?" my little girl pointed to a very flashy girls clothing store. There were a ton of pre-teens in there with their mothers.
I mustered up my confidence, smiled and entered the store. I tried to keep in mind Bella's advice yesterday, "Jacob, you used to be a very good best friend to me. Just channel some of the old Jake, mix it up with fatherhood, and you'll be fine." She also advised me to have a salesperson fit her for a bra. "You're just going to have to suck it up and ask, Jake. It's part of the new you. Sarah is your daughter. You can't show your embarrassment or pass this responsibility off to someone else because she is your responsibility. You are her mother and her father now. You can text me if you need help."
"Okay, Sarah, this is new for me too. Why don't we take a look around the store? Look, they have bras there. Should we go and see what they have."
Sarah nodded her head shyly at me. "Daddy, I told Mom that the school nurse told me that I needed a bra at the beginning of the school year and she told me that she didn't have time to take me shopping."
I'm not going to snap. I swear I'm not going to lose it. That bitch had time enough to run up the credit cards to the tune of 17,000 dollars, but she couldn't find the fucking time to take her daughter bra shopping? I counted to ten before I replied, "Well, Daddy's here now. Let's see what we can find. Aunty Bella said that we needed to find a saleslady to measure you." I saw a young woman in her early twenties. "She looks nice, doesn't she? Let's ask her for some help."
I approached the woman who was surprised by my question, but happy to take Sarah in hand. After taking her measurements and finding the correct size, she suggested a few bra sets. I arched a brow when she picked up some sort of underwire bra. Does she really need underwire at her age? I mean there was barely anything up there.
I quickly sent a text message to Bella questioning if she needed an underwire bra.
To: J Black
From: I Lahote
No underwire. Stick to cotton only. Limit her to three bras because she's still growing.
Still growing? I don't like the idea of my little girl growing up at all. I sighed. "Sarah, I think those bras are for when you get a little older. Why don't we see if we can find something in cotton?"
We searched through the rack together and we were able to come up with three that we both thought were suitable. I also restocked her underwear and Rebecca's as well. I figured I needed to stay ahead of the game in that department. I was so proud that I sent a text message to Bella.
To: J Black
From: I Lahote
Great job, Daddy! Don't forget to restock the boys, too. You might as well buy them all socks as well. Walmart or Target should be fine for those things.
Another text message came through immediately following that one from Bella.
To: J Black
From: I Lahote
Don't forget to restock your own underwear and socks.
Oh, man, I don't even know what size I am. "Hey, Sarah, maybe you can help Daddy pick out an outfit too?"
"Really?" she squealed excitedly.
"Really, and later, we can go and eat at a nice restaurant. Not a fast food one."
"Like a real grown up, sit-down one?"
We spent the rest of the day shopping and simply spending time together. At the end of the day, I felt as if I'd bonded with her. I was happier than I'd been in a very long time. It occurred to me that perhaps I could fulfill the role of both father and mother to my kids because they sure as heck didn't need Angela. I smiled at my daughter who was beaming with happiness.
"I love you, Daddy."
And those simple words made everything worthwhile. "And I love you, Sarah—always have and always will."
You've now heard from the Blacks. What did you think? Do you agree with Charlie that Billy needs to suck up his pride and accept the van for the welfare of the tribe and himself? Aren't you glad that Bella and Babs were there when Sarah started her period? What did you think of the way Jacob handled Sarah? Do you think Bella sending Jake off on a bra shopping trip was a good idea? Do you all want to kick Angela for neglecting to purchase a bra for her daughter and for not even sending Christmas gifts to them? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this chapter. Thank you for taking the time to read and review Intensity. XOXO mama4dukes