A/N: Thanks for reading!
Supernatural and Twilight are not my property. Just having some fun with this.
Big thanks to the lovely detroitangel for you awesome beta work. And to Kharizzmatik for your never-ending words of support. Big hugs to you both.
This fic is rated M for a reason. Please read responsibly.
"Though my eyes could see I still was a blind man
Though my mind could think I still was a mad man
I hear the voices when I'm dreaming."
(Carry On My Wayward Son, Kansas)
Case File #60: Renee Swan
A young girl bounced a rubber ball against the cracking wood steps on the front porch of the Swan residence. The girl, Isabella Swan, glanced up as a black sedan parked at the end of the driveway.
A matter of seconds passed before the bright face of Isabella's mother, Renee, appeared in the doorway. She wiped her hands on her apron, clearing the remnants of pie crust from her fingers.
"Bella, why don't you go upstairs and change for dinner."
Isabella could hear the urgency in her mother's voice. She was immediately cautious of the strangers walking towards the house and lingered on the step with a desire to help ward off evil. The man and woman seemed harmless enough, business people of some sort, but Isabella could sense something dark within them.
She followed her mother's request, wishing that her father were home. Isabella stomped up the stairs, but crouched behind a bookshelf on the second floor landing. It was her favorite place to hide when spying on her parents. She didn't do it often, but there were times that Isabella wanted to hear the secrets her parents were keeping from her.
"What are you doing here?" Renee asked, still on the front porch.
Isabella had to strain to hear the strangers' reply.
"I warned you before that I would return if you did not do as I asked." Isabella could tell that the man was speaking even though his voice was breathy and higher in pitch than her father's.
"I did as you requested. I moved here…the wolves…there's been no child…" Renee defended.
"There is a child," a woman's voice interrupted, "she's hiding upstairs right this minute."
"They won't want her. They only want the boys. They wrote me off years before I left. The psychic said I'd never…"
"We will overlook this transgression in exchange for what they want," the man interjected in a voice devoid of emotion.
"You can't have her," Renee declared without waiting for the terms of his proposal.
The woman cut off Renee's defensive tirade. "We don't want her."
Their voices were silent then. Isabella leaned around the bookcase, poking her head out far enough to see her mother's shadow cast over the threshold of the front door. She felt sick to her stomach. It was hard to breathe. The air around her was suddenly too heavy for her lungs—suffocating.
"Mom." She tried to call but no sound came out.
"What makes you think I'll tell you anything about those boys?" Renee shouted.
Isabella watched in horror as the strangers' shadows engulfed her mother's.
"You have three seconds and then I shall finish the job Charles Swan prevented me from completing ten years ago."
The threat shocked Isabella from her hiding place. She scrambled to her feet, rushing down the stairs without thought of what she was heading into.
"Mommy!" she screamed.
She was too late. The shadows cleared and the black sedan sped off as Isabella Swan fell to her knees on the front porch.
The image of her mother's slit throat forever imprinted on her mind.
September 5th, 2010
Lesson #13: Luck is an illusion
Charlie PoV (Forks Washington)
I slammed my hand down on the clock a second before the alarm went off. That was something that used to bug the crap out of Renee—bless her soul. She used to laugh out loud when I set the alarm before going to bed at night because she knew I'd wake up exactly two minutes before it would go off.
And I still did.
I got dressed, making sure to put my rubber boots on after I was on the front porch. Not that anyone in the house would even notice the squeak of them at this hour. Emmett would be snoring away, wrapped around Blondie so tight that she probably wouldn't be able to hear anything else. Bells would be tossing and turning in her bed, trapped in nightmares that she wouldn't remember when she woke up. Edward would hear it, sure, but he'd be too busy watching my daughter to care about what I was doing.
Then there was Jasper. That boy was out roaming the forest himself at this hour, no doubt. I wasn't worried about waking him one way or the other.
I retrieved my tackle box and fishing pole from the garage, giving Carlisle a sympathetic glance. Emmett had been going to town on repairs the last two months. The old Impala lay in pieces, unapologetically tossed about the converted barn-garage. It twisted my gut to see it—to think that my old friend was literally torn apart. Emmett insisted that there was no getting around it, though. He said the only way to really put Carlisle back together was to completely destroy him.
I wondered if the kid knew how prophetic he sounded these days.
I jumped when I caught sight of Edward to my left. He moved like the wind these days.
"Geez, you scared me," I blustered, pushing past him to load up the pickup.
"You're going fishing."
From anyone else that would have been a question, but coming from Edward Cullen it was just a statement. He had heard my boots squeak down the porch steps. He could probably smell the live bait in the cooler in the truck bed. And, of course, he could read my thoughts.
I stared at the kid, stupidly waiting for him to say something else. Edward had always been a tough one to talk to. Now, I was on my toes about keeping my thoughts clear whenever I knew he was listening. Sometimes I got so damn focused on not thinking around him that I didn't have anything to say out loud.
"I wish I could control it," he frowned, "but you know you don't have to monitor your thoughts around me, Charlie."
I snorted instead of verbalizing my opinion on that statement. He could hear what I was thinking. He knew how violated that lack of privacy made me feel.
"Did you have a reason for sneaking up on me Gomez?"
Edward laughed. "Gomez? That's new. I thought you would stick with Herman Munster."
"What can I say, kid? I like to surf channels." We both laughed. "So, what brings you down to see me off at two a.m.?"
He was quiet for too damn long. I fiddled with my keys and checked to make sure everything was secured down in the truck bed three times before I turned to look at him. The moon was full in the cloudless sky, casting everything in a silvery glow. Edward looked even less human in the moonlight than he did in the sunlight lately. His skin seemed to be getting paler and his eyes were starting to glow.
"She's getting worse." The agony in his voice rattled the bones in my chest.
"What?" I challenged, denying that what I thought he was talking about was what he was talking about.
He nodded, reading my damn mind.
"No. You said…you promised… You all said she wouldn't remember any of it. That witch said she could make it last…"
"It's not that." He threw his hands up to stop me from marching back into the house. "She doesn't remember it. But that doesn't mean she's not trying to remember it. It's not something she can control. Her brain just wants to figure it out too much."
I knew exactly what he meant. The weeks, days, even the hours since that night in La Push filled my memory. Edward cringed as he relived the moments through my thoughts.
"Just watch her, please?" My voice cracked with the same emotion that had filled his.
He offered me a respectful nod and sped back into the house in the blink of an eye.
"Never gonna get used to that," I mumbled to myself, climbing into the truck.
It was a quiet drive down to my favorite fishing spot near the river. With Edward a safe distance away, I let my thoughts wander back to what he was worried about.
Back to that night, two months ago.
July 5th, 2010 (Forks)
"What the hell happened to you boys?" I asked as Jazz fell out of the front seat of the Impala.
He groaned when I tried to help him to his feet. "Had a lil run-in with some immortals."
"Fuck me," Emmett came running out of the house to help, "you mean he drove all the way to wherever you were? Where were you by the way?"
"Out of the country, if I remember the international call dispatch correctly." I helped Jazz to porch and turned back to the car to help Edward.
I jumped when I found Edward standing next to me. I hadn't heard him move—it hadn't even been a second since I dropped his brother off on the porch.
How did he get over here so fast? I wondered.
"Something happened to me." He said it like he was replying to a question. I shot Em a look and he ushered the boys inside.
I stood there for a minute, catching my breath before I took a seat behind the wheel of the Impala.
"Talk to me." I was ready to spit fire at the dashboard. Carlisle liked to play God with his game of fate, but I was fed up with patching up his kids for the sake of his secrets.
"It happened." The words filtered through the speakers as if I had popped in a cassette tape. The voice was strained and weak, but it clearly belonged to Carlisle Cullen.
"You wanna clue me in on what 'it' is?"
"Take him to Tami. She knows and she'll be able to help him," he coughed as if he still had lungs and they were too tired to hold enough air for more words, "and Bella. He'll need to be near Bella."
I glared at the radio dial. "The hell he will. You tell me for almost twenty years that you're damn near ready to kill your son because you don't know what the shit he'll become and now you expect me to unleash him on my daughter?"
"They aren't our kids, Charlie."
"You can save the fate-is-what-controls-all-of-us-Bible-thumping-bullshit for the gals in your sewing circle, Blondie."
The car laughed. "You know what I'm talking about. You're the one who told me about Renee's journal. None of these kids belong to us."
I opened the glove compartment to distract myself from the truth. There was shit I involved myself with and then there was deep shit that I told Carlisle I only wanted on a need to know basis. This was the deep shit kinda stuff—the things Renee would try to tell me and I'd just fluff off. In the glove box I found a container full of fake IDs, a handful of ignored parking tickets and a folded up piece of paper that looked like it had survived a few decades of abuse. I pulled it out, smiling as I opened it.
It was a picture of a black car, a stick person with blonde hair behind the wheel. Under it the word "Daddy" was scribbled with a backwards 'y'.
"The hell they ain't."
"Charlie, do as I ask!" The engine revved as I climbed out of the car and headed into the house.
I got what Carlisle was alluding to—planned on doing exactly what the cocky son of a bitch asked me to do, in fact. For tonight I just wanted to make sure the boys were okay. Bells was safe in La Push for the time being. The Pack had given me their word that they wouldn't let her wander off.
I'd deal with the details in the morning.
Rosalie was standing behind the couch in the living room with a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. She glanced at me as I entered the room.
"How is he?"
She shrugged. "He passed out as soon as the redhead laid him down."
Edward sat on the arm of couch, staring down at his brother. The kid looked as white as a ghost. I forwent introductions since I figured Rose had heard enough about the Cullen boys over the past couple of weeks to know who these two were. My main concern was figuring out what in the hell happened in South America.
"You okay, Edward?"
He nodded but didn't look at me. I wondered about what kind of hell he must have been through over the past couple of weeks.
"They tortured me." His voice was a hollowed whisper that made my heart sink into my stomach. For some damn reason I felt the urge to jump in the pickup and haul ass to get Bells and bring her here.
Edward's eyes darted in my direction.
"Where is she?"
I looked around, noticing that Rose had walked into the kitchen to talk to Emmett. "She's next to the fridge, why?"
"Bella." Her name hung in the air for a moment—I wasn't sure if he spoke it or I had imagined it. Nobody but Carlisle had called her that since the day Renee died. I was reminded of a moment twenty years ago when Edward was just a toddler, pressing his hand to my pregnant wife's stomach.
"You wanna know where Bells is?"
He nodded, slowly.
Tough titties, I thought. I was right to follow my instinct, at least for tonight. Isabella would be safer in La Push.
Edward sneered with disgust. "She's with them?"
I looked over my shoulder and then shot my eyes around the room.
"The wolves. You just said she's in La Push."
My blood ran cold when I realized what he was getting at. "You heard that?"
He nodded, giving me a questioning look.
I just shook it off. I was pretty damn sure what had happened now.
"Tell me," he begged. He heard my thoughts as if I had spoken them out loud.
"I have…a…uh…book you might find interesting. I'll get it for you in the morning."
He went back to staring down at Jazz like he was the only thing that made sense in the world anymore.
"Why don't we get you set up in a room upstairs?"
"I'm not tired."
The kid looked like he'd been beaten from one end of Forks to the other. His hair stood on end in every direction and there were dark circles under his eyes. But I believed he wouldn't go to sleep.
Eleazar said they never sleep.
"What am I?" He fired the question at me like a gunshot. I opened my mouth to explain and the damn phone rang.
"Alice!" Jazz screamed, popping straight up on the couch like someone had kicked him in the ass. "Where the fuck are we?"
"Go back to sleep, son."
He eyed me for a minute before it registered in his brain who I was. He flopped back down without another word.
"Chuck, it's for you." Emmett tossed the phone to me, offering a plate full of sandwiches to Edward.
Kid won't be hungry any time soon.
Edward turned at the sound of my thoughts, but just waved Em's offering away.
"This is Charlie." I held the phone to my ear, nearly dropping it the second I heard her voice.
I looked at the clock. Three a.m. What in the hell is she calling for at this time of night.
"I need you to come to La Push. Right now. Don't tell anyone where you're going. Just get here. Now."
"Isabella? What's going on?"
"Just get here. And come alone. They won't be happy if you bring anyone with you."
She hung up and I stared at the receiver in shock.
"I'm coming with you." Edward was standing next to me before I could hit the end call button on the phone.
"They said I need to go alone. And you ain't in any state to deal with anything right now, kid."
He tried to insist and I waved him off. "I mean it, Edward. You going down there will put Isabella at risk. You want that?"
He warred with my logic and his desires, but soon gave in and returned to the couch.
"Where are you going?" Emmett asked as I grabbed the keys to the pickup.
September 5th, 2010
I tapped my fingers against the steering wheel as the classic rumble of Johnny Cash's voice rolled through the cab of the pickup truck. Renee used to call my taste in music 'typically Charlie'. I would play A Boy Named Sue on repeat on road trips just to see her roll her eyes at me.
I didn't listen to a single note of his music for years after she passed.
I found myself listening to him more and more in recent years. The sound of his yesteryear-rebellious-soul-wrenching melodies comforted me somehow.
"When I hear that whistling blowing, I hang my head and cry."
I frowned as I recalled the last time I was in this truck listening to this song.
July 5th, 2010
"Are you shitting me?"
Jasper stood in the bed of the Chevy glaring down at me like he had every right to do so. I noticed something moving around in the back just after I pulled out of Forks. I was pissed to find yet another Cullen trying to help.
"You shouldn't go alone. None of us should be alone right now."
"You get your ass out of my truck!" I shouted, reaching out to swat his leg.
He danced out of my reach. "I can help."
"I already told your brother to stay back because it's not safe. Is that the one damn trait you Cullens share? Stubborn ass hardheadedness?"
"First of all…that's kinda two traits and secondly we're not blood related."
"On second thought, just stand real still while I get my pistol." I leaned into the cab and searched for the holster tucked under the seat.
"Charlie you know I'm right. This isn't normal. You know it's a trap."
"Jasper when you have a child and you're worried about keeping her safe, you can preach all you want to me about what's right and wrong. And on that damn day I'm still gonna ignore you." I aimed the pistol, albeit it was empty, at his chest and glared.
"Shoot me." He didn't flinch—didn't even blink as he dared me.
I didn't have the stomach to square off with him. I lowered the gun with a sigh. "What happened down there kid?"
He shrugged. I recognized the misdirection technique, since I'd been employing it myself for years.
I turned on the radio to break the silence in the cab as we started back on the road.
"Johnny Cash?" Jasper's eyebrows touched as he looked at me.
"If you're about to say something disrespectful about the man in black, I'm just gonna remind you about that gun I have."
He laughed nervously, waving his hands in surrender. "Nah, not gonna disrespect. Just…didn't realize this archaic vehicle had a stereo. Course the 8-track is a nice touch."
I leaned over and smacked him on the back of the head before turning off the main highway toward the reservation.
"Hey," he bitched, "what was that for?"
"Don't talk shit about my truck either." I glared at him.
"You got a list or something?" He rubbed the back of his head with a grimace and I quickly reminded myself that he's been through hell and back in the last few days.
I shook my head, turning my eyes back to the moonlit, costal road. "Nope. That's more your dad's thing."
"Lot of good it did him."
I let that remark disappear into the graveyard of shit I didn't want to talk about. Renee used to call it selective hearing. It was more like selective awareness. I didn't want to go down the road of Carlisle-made-the-bed-he's-sleeping-in-now. This dirt road down to Jacob Black's house was hard enough to navigate.
"Don't worry, Em will get the Impala back up and running and then…" my voice dropped off as I realized I didn't have an "and then" to supply.
"And then we'll still be in this same situation. Only, maybe, I'll finally get to confront the bastard."
That offhand statement was buried right next to the other. I shut my mouth and hummed along to Folsom Prison Blues.
"You know Dad used to tell me that Country music was a crime against humanity."
I snorted in agreement. "It is."
"Then how can you listen to this?"
"Your father missed a vital lesson with you boys. Cash isn't Country." I wagged my finger toward the tape deck. "He's a little bit of everything. Rock…Gospel…"
"They play his music on Howlin' Country 98.2 FM," he contradicted.
He huffed. The truck bounced as we started hitting the off-road portion of the tour.
"When was the last time you replaced the shocks in this heap?"
I shot him a look and he ducked in anticipation of me hitting him again.
"The pickup has survived a lot."
"Yeah, both world wars," he mumbled under his breath.
"Appreciate your elders, son," I warned, "experience goes a long way in this world."
"I've met my fair share of elders lately, thanks." He messed with the sleeve of his jacket, scratching at his wrist.
"You're all patched up, right?" I hadn't even thought to ask before we jumped into the truck. My baby girl said she needed me and everything else was shifted down on my priorities list.
He nodded. "Don't worry 'bout me, Charlie."
Yeah, like that will ever happen. I'd been worrying about Carlisle Cullen's kids since before I met them.
"And here we are." I parked at the end of what one would call the driveway.
Jazz whistled, taking in the sight of the three story colonial house.
"Casinos have been good to them."
I laughed. "Casinos, stock market, I wouldn't be surprised to find that Billy runs drugs through Forks either. The Quileute aren't hurting for much, that's for sure."
"Well, that's one point for dog-boy."
We slid out of the truck and headed to the front door. "One point for what?"
Jazz shook his head, laughing.
"My daughter isn't some damn prize steak." I reached for the doorbell but froze when I saw the blood smeared across the doorknob.
"What the hell?" Jazz pulled a gun from his jacket pocket and pulled out the knife concealed in my boot.
"What did Iz say on the phone?" He kept his voice low, scanning the area behind us as I tested the door.
"She said to come alone. That there was something important they wanted to tell me."
I pressed against the door and it popped open silently. My mouth went dry with anticipation. It had been years since I had been on a hunt. My old heart thumped recklessly in my chest.
"Didn't ask." I signaled for him to follow me inside.
We crept in slowly. Nothing looked out of place as I took measured steps toward the family room. The lights were on. I could hear a TV on.
"You see anymore blood?"
Jasper stepped next to me, shaking his head in response. "Nope. But I can tell you we just walked into a trap."
September 5th, 2010
There's a trick to stream fishing that my granddaddy taught me. You gotta be patient. Don't drop your line in the middle of the water with the hope that the fish will just take the bait. You have to sneak up on them. Drag your line close to the rocks, near the shadows under the water. You line your bait up in the darkness and wait.
It worked every time.
It was an effective means of capture that worked on more than just fish over my lifetime.
The first time I went hunting with Carlisle Cullen I saw just how valuable this method was. Carlisle had some damn fool idea that we could take down a wraith without much more than a sneeze and a prayer. If I hadn't been hiding in the shadows with that silver blade that idiot would have ended up a blonde corpse that night.
I laughed to myself as I baited my hook.
"You cocky little shit." Years of moments just like that ran amuck in my head. Not just of Carlisle but those two boys who were desperately trying to fight their way out of the shadows now.
I planted my feet on the rocks at the edge of the river and cast my line in.
And I waited.
The cool morning air mixed with the sounds of crickets chirping and frogs croaking helped me clear my head. It was amazing how alive the forest was when people were asleep. I relished the absence of humanity in the early morning hours like this. Out here there weren't any expectations or complications.
It was just me and the river.
I watched the water flowing by, the ripples caused by jumping fish alerting me that I wouldn't be going home empty handed.
I sensed eyes on me, but kept my focus on my line in the water.
"Aha." I caught sight of silvery scales floating toward my hook. "Gotcha."
The line tugged my pole forward and I wrestled to reel the sucker in. The fish wiggled on the line, splashing water as it tail slapped against the surface of the river.
"Ah, you're barely big enough to fillet." I knelt down to hold him up.
"Don't tell me you're into catching and releasing now too?" Jasper stepped around the tree behind me, kneeling down to inspect my catch.
"Doesn't matter if I am. This lil guy's a goner. He swallowed the hook."
He took the fish from me without saying a word, whipping out a pocket knife and slicing into its stomach. There wasn't any remorse in his movements. Sure it was just a fish, but I could tell he had used that knife on plenty of other creatures with the same discriminate compassion.
"Something on your mind, son?" I waited as he wiped the fish guts from his knife using his pants leg.
He handed the freed hook to me and tossed the dead fish back into the river.
"You know there are starving kids in Africa." Renee used to say shit like that whenever I wasted food on my plate. I'd offer for her to airmail my leftovers to those kids if she thought it would help.
"Yeah. And my brother hasn't eaten a damn thing since June." His voice was like ice.
I bit my tongue and baited my hook for another round.
"When are we gonna look for him?"
I stood, casting my line right back to the same rocks where I'd caught the lil' guy.
"What use is there finding him, Jasper? It's only gonna end in more bloodshed."
He reached out, letting the water run over his fingertips.
"They wanted him dead for a reason. I need to know what that is. Edward needs it."
I sighed, reeling in my line to pull my bait further upstream.
"I'm serious, Charlie. I've waited this long for you to grow a pair and help me figure this out, but..."
"Hey!" I threw the fishing pole down, letting the river carry it away as I hauled Jasper to his feet with a firm grip on his jacket. "Unless you want to feel my boot so far up your ass that it's coming out of your throat you need to watch your damn mouth, boy."
He stared me down with hollow eyes. "I gotta do something. Please. Help me do something."
God damn you, Carlisle Cullen, for ever introducing me to your boys.
July 5th, 2010
"You hear that?" Jazz whispered, pointing to a room at the end of the second floor landing.
I could hear a faint moaning—whimpers of pain and fear.
"You got bullets in that thing?" I nodded to revolver in his hand.
"Nah, left them at home. I was hoping I could just chuck it at whatever we find in there."
I glared at his teasing.
"Ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer." He shrugged.
I couldn't argue with that.
"Bells?" I tried to keep my voice low as we inched our way to the door.
"You feel that?"
"Dad! Help!" Isabella started screaming.
"Bella?" I charged the door, driven by the need to protect my little girl.
I ran into an empty room. No Bells. No furniture. No monsters.
I turned back toward the hallway. The door across the hall opened.
It happened so fast—the blink of an eye.
I saw two women in the room. One had flaming red hair and the other was covered in tattoos. The redhead had Bella pinned down on the bed while the other one stood at the door.
Jazz looked from me to the scene of two the women.
I shouted, running toward the door. It slammed shut before I could reach it, locking instantly from the outside.
I could hear screaming, doors slamming. Isabella was crying. Jasper was shouting.
I threw my body against the door over and over. It didn't budge. I had to get out. Frantically I tried to open the window on the far side of the room. I knew I was on the second floor, God knew how many feet the fall would be, but I needed to do something. Just like the door, the window was shut tight. I started kicking at it, fueled by adrenaline. The glass was thick but my determination was stronger. It shattered and I hissed as my ankle snared on a shard jutting out from the sill.
"Son of bitch."
I busted out the remaining glass to clear a hole big enough for me to jump through. I popped my head out far enough to gauge the distance for my fall.
I about shit myself at the thought of falling all the way to the ground. It had to be a good twenty feet or more.
What's the sense in breaking my neck trying to help?
The sound propelled me through the window without a second thought. Luckily, I remembered the old tuck and roll technique. I landed flat on my ass instead of my head.
I rolled to my knees, groaning as my sciatica flared in my hip.
"Damn it! I'm getting to old for this shit."
I made my way, with the speed of a snail on crutches, back to the front door. I missed my step as I turned the corner. My lack of agility saved my life. A bullet whizzed by my ear as I let gravity take the lead.
"Whoa!" I ducked, feeling my knee pop when I tried to stabilize my footing.
"Get the hell off our land!"
Another round fired off and I kissed dirt. "It's me! Billy, it's me, Charlie!"
The silence of bullets didn't give me that "all's clear" feeling that I was hoping for. I peeked up to see Billy Black aiming his rifle square between my eyes.
"You have five minutes."
I balled my hands into fists, taking a step toward the rifle-wielding chief. "I want my kids."
"Then you shouldn't have brought them here." He cocked the gun.
"You making deals with demons now, Billy?" A few pieces fell into place when he didn't bat an eye at my question. Carlisle had warned me not to trust the wolves back in Phoenix. I thought he was just being his paranoid self. Now I could see he must have figured something out.
September 5th, 2010
"Morning, Dad." Bells was standing at the stove when I walked through the back door. The kitchen was filled with the smell of breakfast—eggs, pancakes and coffee.
"You're an angel." I kissed her cheek and she shrugged. Her inability to take a compliment hadn't changed in the past two months. She acted just as tough as she always had. I found comfort in that.
Edward sat at the kitchen table, strumming his fingers against it like he was waiting for a detective to show up and interrogate him.
His left eyebrow raised in question.
"Still working on that staying out of my head bit, huh?"
He looked abashed as Bells walked a plate to the table.
"It's not like he can help it, Dad." She playfully smacked my arm. "Eat up."
"Thanks, baby girl." I took my seat and watched as she went back to work cooking like she didn't have a care in the world.
Still getting worse? I asked silently, popping a piece of bacon in my mouth.
Edward nodded, not concerned to hide his movements from Isabella.
"Tami called an hour ago. She's stopping by at lunch."
"Oh, really?" That was an interesting development. Tami hadn't stepped foot outside her backwoods abode in the past twenty years.
"Yeah, it's that bad." He went back to drumming his fingers against the table.
"What's getting bad?" Bells asked, filling up my cup with fresh coffee.
"Nothing, Bella," he lied. He didn't blink as he watched her—his mood so intense that I felt uncomfortable being in his line of sight.
She smiled shyly, her cheeks growing pink as she rushed back to the stove.
"Knock that shit off right now." I stabbed my fork into the short stack on my plate and waved my butter knife at him in warning. I further emphasized my point by imagining the various forms of vampire torture that Eleazar once described to Carlisle.
He smirked. "Been there. Done that." He looked past me and his face went all goofy.
I looked back to find Bells bent over, pulling muffins from the oven.
"I mean it, kid. You're gonna be sleeping in the barn."
"I don't sleep." He crossed his arms in defiance.
"What are you two talking about?" Bells asked, dropping a basket of muffins on to the table.
We silently challenged each other to explain it to her. She glanced between the two of us before waving a spatula in my face.
I started to defend myself but Emmett bounded into the room before I could. "Oh, holy General Motors! Eddie's Izzard, you are officially my favorite person in the morning!" He wrapped his arms around her and lifted her off the floor in a big bear hug.
Edward growled quietly as Bells fought her way out of Emmett's embrace.
"Thanks, babe." He kissed her cheek and started piling food on a platter.
"I thought I was your favorite person first thing in the morning." Rosalie followed Em to the stove. She offered Bells a polite sneer before dismissing her completely.
"You are in bed. That's for damn sure." Em smacked Rose's ass when she reached for some bacon. She giggled and elbowed him.
I turned back to my food after that. "I'm living on the set of one of Jazz's damn soap operas."
"Try hearing their thoughts," Edward mumbled mournfully. "Emmett only ever has two things on his mind. Food and sex. And sometimes he puts those together."
I dropped the bite of pancake back on to my plate without tasting any of it.
"Well there goes my appetite."
"You gonna eat that, Charlie?" Em asked, taking the seat next to me.
"Knock yourself out." I slid my plate over to him and headed upstairs.
It was odd to try to think of this place as home. Truth be told, no house had felt like home since I buried Renee—bless her soul. Emmett had given us the 'Mi casa, Su casa' promise, but I felt like I was still on the road, hunting and sleeping in a hotel room until I moved to the next town.
I stripped down once I was alone. My old bones protested as I tugged my shirt over my head.
"Not as young as I used to be." I rolled my shoulder, massaging the stiffness away.
I sat on the bed, staring at the picture of Renee that I had propped up on the nightstand. I kissed my fingers, pressing them to her lips.
"I miss you, Sweetheart."
There were so many times, in such simple ways, that I found myself wishing she was still here. Course, there were major moments that I could have used her guidance in the past couple of weeks.
July 5th, 2010
The gun went off and I flinched. I planted myself, unwaivering, and made a face that only my wife would have loved—waiting to die. It wasn't the first time I'd braced myself for death. Hell, I'd even spent a few rounds with defibrillators. I can honestly say that this was the one time I expected it to stick, though. I figured I'd dicked up enough in the last eighteen years and Satan finally called my number at the deli counter of Hell.
I didn't expect the twenty year old dumbshit to jump in front of me.
Edward shoved me to the ground, taking the bullet in his arm with little more than a grunt in pain.
"What the hell?"
"Get to the truck, Charlie," he pleaded.
He was wrestling the rifle out of Billy's hands before I could get to my feet. I saw the front door open and Jazz came running out, carrying an unconscious Isabella in his arms.
"No time. Get the truck started!"
I pulled the keys out of my pocket and sprinted for the truck. My hands were shaking as I unlocked the doors.
"Help me get her in the cab." Jazz stood off to the side when he reached the passenger door.
I threw the door open, glancing up in time to see the claws sink into Jazz's chest.
I was such a useless, blind jackass.
I hadn't checked the truck. Hadn't even thought to look around to make sure the coast was clear. A ten foot half man-half wolf towered over us from the bed of the truck.
Jazz screamed as the beast pulled him off his feet, forcing him to drop Isabella. I tried to help brace her fall but the wolf back handed me, sending me five feet from the truck. I saw stars for a few minutes, shaking my head to get back in the game.
Jazz joined Isabella, and me, on the ground as a blur fought against the giant wolf.
I crawled back to Bells, shielding her as Edward and the wolf tumbled out of the truck and into the forest. I felt like a pussy just lying there and not trying to help. Jazz was bleeding, looked like he had a bite on his neck. Isabella had bruises all over her arms and blood was running down her forehead. I could hear snarling and thrashing, but I didn't do a damn thing to help him.
There was a loud thud and a howl so loud I had to cover my ears. That kicked up a nest of howling all around us in the dark.
"Time to get out of here, Charlie," Edward said, pulling me to my feet. He placed Bells gently into the front seat and secured her seatbelt.
I stood there gawking at him like an empty headed idiot.
"Get in. You're driving." He tossed me the keys and lifted Jasper into the bed of the truck. He crouched protectively over his brother as I climbed in behind the wheel.
"Drive fast. I don't think they'll leave their land. Just get us to the border before they decide to break the treaty."
He didn't have to tell me twice.
September 5th, 2010
"She's looking a lot worse than you described," Tami said, inspecting an unconscious Isabella. "Lot worse than she was when you two were at my house the other day."
"She's good at hiding it when she's awake." Edward sat next to my daughter, holding her hand like some damn lifeline to reality.
I pulled a chair up to the other side of Isabella. "I thought you said this shit would work?"
"It has worked. Bella's memory of the event is sealed tight. However, Bella's mind is rejecting the control. She's starting to splinter."
"Splinter? What does that mean?" All I could think of was a piece of wood shattering into pieces.
"I can't say for certain. Magic is a delicate art. Bella has strength in mind, which I'm hardly surprised at, seeing as though she belongs with you." She inclined her head to Edward and went back to inspecting Isabella's aura.
"She doesn't belong to anyone." I glared at the boy, recognizing the look of devotion shining in his eyes. I owned that look when seeing Renee.
Look what it did for her.
"Best case scenario…she'll have a mental break and we'll deal with multiple personality disorder." Tami clapped her hands and stood.
"Hold on a second, Mary Fucking Poppins," I stood too, "that's it? You leave your temple on the side of the mountain to make some stupid declaration of possible mental breakdown?"
"Yes." Tami threw her velvet cape around her shoulders and headed for the door.
"What's the worse case?"
Deep in my heart I already knew the answer. It's what pushed me to have her bind Isabella's memories to begin with.
"Giving up hope," Tami offered with a frown, "that's the worst thing you can do now."
July 15th, 2010
"No! No! Let me go!" she screamed in her sleep. Dreams so real that she wasn't aware she was asleep. Nightmares so vivid, like living in a horror film.
It tore me up. Damn near killed me every single time I heard her cry out. I stood right outside the door, my ear pressed against the wood. She thrashed in her bed, fighting against Edward's insistence for her to wake up. I could hear every hitch in her breath, my tears matching each one that fell from her eyes.
It was best that I didn't enter the room, even though every instinct I had was screaming for me to just run in and hold her. The first few nights after she was healed I made the mistake of going inside.
I expected her to be angry with me—hell just angry at the world in general. I hadn't anticipated her being so withdrawn. She'd scream and I'd wake her up, but Isabella wasn't the person watching me when her eyes were open. She was a ghost. A shell. What was worse was that she was only like that around me. When I'd see her walking around with Edward or trying to hide from Em she was more normal—had some color in her cheeks.
When she saw me coming, that all drained away.
It was hell to hear my baby girl fight against the monsters in her dreams each night, but it was torture to see the life leave her body.
Her cries quieted after a moment and so I shuffled off down the hall before I was caught trying to help.
"Charlie?" Edward walked up behind me without so much as a whisper of sound. "I want to talk to you about Jazz's suggestion. You know…about taking Bella to Tami? I know you're against it, but maybe she can help."
Edward pleaded a case about Isabella's fading health. She wasn't eating much. She didn't get any rest. Anxiety was about the only emotion she was feeling anymore. He made me face facts right there in the hallway. No more pretending. Eventually, it wouldn't be just me that she was an empty shell around. Pretty soon, she'd just cease to exist for the sake of surviving.
I turned back down the hall, heading downstairs to get ready for my morning fishing trip.
"Okay? You mean…you wanna try this?"
I felt as shocked as he sounded, but more than that, I felt like I was out of options. I spent my life living by my instincts. I'd put my trust in the wolves with both Renee and Bella's lives. I might have had the learning curve of five year old, but I wouldn't make the same mistake again.
"Call her. Fix my baby girl."
September 5th, 2010
There was a bottle of Jack stashed under the sink. It was clear to me now that I had been delusional in my quest for sobriety over the last two months. Somehow I had myself fooled into thinking I could exist in this world without operating under the influence.
My trek out to the garage was a bit on the wobbly side. I didn't give a damn that my gracefulness went out the window with my clear thinking.
Best case scenario, she has a mental break and we deal with multiple personality disorder.
"Best case scenario." I threw back another swig of booze, shoving open the door and glaring at the pieces of classic car lying all over the garage.
My foot collided with a tool kit. "Shit!" I kicked the box out of my way, limping to a stool next to the frame of the car.
"Worst case is she goes so damn crazy she kills herself…or someone else." Guilt and panic washed over me. I drank some more, just hoping for oblivion.
I picked up the license plate. "It's all your fault. If I had never met you none of this would have happened."
"You can't blame him for this." I heard her voice in my head like she was standing right beside me. Renee.
"Don't you do that! Don't you dare try to talk me out of being pissed."
I could hear her laugh. God, how I'd missed that sound. "That's right, Charles. Pout to an imaginary voice. You sure told me."
I rolled my eyes, fighting back the urge to cry. "I fucked up, sweetheart. I'm so sorry. I don't know how to fix it."
"It'll be okay, Charlie. Just follow your heart."
I brought the bottle to my lips again. There wasn't a heart left in my chest to follow.
A/N: thanks again for reading!