Since There Goes My Life is winding down, I needed something to help with my minor writer block, so I've decided to repost this fic since so many of you have asked for it! Nothing major changes in this, but there will be some editing. Enjoy.
Four years ago Bella and her brother vanished. This is a story of finding you way back to happiness after your world has been torn apart. Mainly told from Bella and Charlie's POV.
"Finding The Way Back"
Four years ago, I was a happily married man and a proud father to a beautiful daughter and a handsome son. It was also four years ago that my life was torn completely apart. I stood at the fireplace and looked at the picture of my children Isabella and Ian, and one of my wife Renee. We were happy. We had the kind of life people wanted.
I remembered the day they were born; every birthday party, every recital, and basketball and football game like they happened yesterday. I remembered the light in their eyes, their laughs, the way Isabella used to tease Ian about using Old Spice and how it made him "smell like an old man." I remembered all of it.
I could even recall our conversation on that fateful day. It was a typical day. I had the day off and was sitting in the kitchen with Renee, reading the morning paper.
"Ian, you're driving your sister to Seattle today, right?" Renee asked.
"Yeah. We're stopping by Michelle's on the way back for a party, so we'll probably be home late," Ian replied.
"That's fine, dear. Your father and I are going over to the Cullens' for a dinner party. Just remember to take your cell phone."
"Mom, I can't find your car keys," Bella called from the living room.
"They're in my purse, like always."
"I think the older she gets the fewer brain cells stay in her head," Ian teased.
That was the last time Renee and I saw Ian and Bella alive. My world fell apart that day, shattering into a million pieces. The entire town searched endlessly for them, but they were never found. Eventually the searches were called off and the case declared cold, but I did everything I could to try to find them. I guess I didn't try hard enough.
Tonight I was invited to dinner at the home of Dr. and Mrs. Carlisle Cullen. I'd known them forever. I grew up with Carlisle and introduced him to his wife, Esme. She then introduced me to Renee. Our children grew up together, and everyone was happy. Tonight they were having a cookout and asked if I would join them. I usually declined, wanting to suffer my pain in silence. Today of all days, I just wanted to be alone. It was the anniversary of the worst day of my life.
Setting down the photograph I was looking at, I made my way out to my cruiser and drove off to the Cullens'. I put my fake smile on and adapted a false sense of happiness.
"Charlie! I'm so glad you could make it," Esme greeted me at the door. "Everyone's out back."
"Thank you for inviting me. Can I help you with anything?"
"No, I'm good, thank you," Esme said as we walked into the house. "I lit a few candles today. I hope you don't mind. I just needed to do something.
"I don't mind. Of course not. Especially not today."
Dinner went well. Their sons, Edward, Emmett, and Jasper, were rowdy as usual, playing a game of basketball with Carlisle. I couldn't help but remember their games with Ian. They were of epic proportions and usually lasted until midnight on Friday and Saturday nights. The four of them were inseparable. It was times like this that I wish we could go back in time.
A few days had passed. Each morning, like usual, I would shower, dress, and look at the picture of my kids and Renee and say a silent prayer. As I would drive into the station, I would chant the same thing over and over: Today will be better. Today will bring something new. But, like every other day, nothing ever happened.
Today was the annual Mariner's party at the house. This usually gave me a day of true happiness, as I was surrounded by people who knew me well; Carlisle, Edward, Emmett, Jasper, Billy, Jake, Seth, and Sam. It was midway through the game, and everyone was yelling and laughing and having a good time. Outside it was raining, like always. It was so noisy I didn't hear the knocking until Jake said something.
"Hey Charlie, I think someone's at your door," Jake said.
Knocking. It was soft, but I heard it now. In the kitchen, Carlisle was fixing a plate with Edward. "Save some for me," I said as I opened the door.
A girl stood there, crying and dressed in an over-sized shirt; she was shaking so badly that she could barely stand. She was quite thin and pale and kept looking over her shoulder. Her face was sunken, and her hair was a mess. She looked like she hadn't eaten in days. The noise from the house scared her. She covered her ears when the boys celebrated a home run.
"Can I help you?" I asked.
"I'm looking for Charlie Swan," she softly stuttered as her body shook.
I poked my head back into the living room. "Guys, keep it down for a minute, would you?" I looked back at the girl. "I'm sorry, what did you say?"
"I need to find Charlie Swan," she hesitantly said.
"I'm Charlie Swan. Do I know you?"
"I'm Bella," she softly said.
A car on the street backfired. The girl screamed and crumbled to the ground, overcome by fear. Her knees came up to her chest, while her hands covered her ears. She screamed and cried and began to rock herself back and forth. Carlisle joined me and handed me a blanket which I wrapped her. I gently took her in my arms and carried her inside. She was frightened by the others in the living room and buried her face in my chest. As I sat her down on a chair in the kitchen, I saw a scar on her knee. Bella had a scar on her knee, just like this girl's. Carlisle handed me a bottle of water from the fridge. She reached for it, but pulled her hand back, like she was afraid to take it.
"You can take it," I said gently.
"Thank you," she replied softly.
After she took a tiny sip, she finally looked me in the eye. Her chocolate brown eyes looked straight through me, just like Renee's could.
"When is your birthday?" I asked, still unsure.
"September 3, 1990," she said softly.
I placed my hands on her face and turned it to look at her. She flinched, but she looked at me. Under my hands I could still feel her shake. There were whispers behind me, but I couldn't tell you who was saying what.
"What was the one thing Bella and I did every Thursday night?" I asked, wanting to be sure. I knew I needed to ask questions only she would know, to make sure it was really her.
"We," she started. I could tell she was nervous. "We used to go grocery shopping and have ice cream at Jerry's afterward."
"What kind would I get?"
"Chocolate with banana slices."
"And you?" I could feel my heartbeat and breathing increase.
"Raspberry sorbet with chocolate chips."
I did not hesitate in wrapping my arms around her. "My Isabella," I said into her hair as my tears fell. She has latched onto my shirt, pulling me closer to her. "My sweet girl. I've missed you. I've missed you so, so much."
"Me too," she said.
She wasn't the same girl from four years ago, but she was my daughter. My sweet girl who was taken from me, ripped from my life. She was skin and bones and I'm afraid my grip on her will break her, but she was holding on just as hard. There was a pain in my chest, one of happiness, hope, and hurt. Happy because she's home, hopeful because I know Ian could be out there somewhere, hurt because she was broken and there was nothing I could do to bring back those four years and bring back her youthful innocence.
"Charlie, we should get her to a hospital," Carlisle said. "She needs to be checked out."
"No! No hospitals, please!"
"It's alright, Bella. Shh. It'll be okay," I reassured her.
"But he'll find me! I can't go! Please, please don't make me," Bella cried.
"Can you do it here?" I asked Carlisle.
"She really needs to be at the hospital. I can look at her in my office, though," he replies.
"Bella, do you remember Dr. Cullen?"
"No," she said softly.
"He's a friend and won't hurt you, I promise."
I noticed that my once noisy house was now quiet. The television had been muted or turned off, and everyone was gathered in the doorway to see what the commotion was about. I also noticed that Bella was trying to hide herself from the others, and I wondered why that was. So many things were going through my head. I had so many questions for her. Where was she all these years? Where was Ian? What was done to her? As badly as I wanted to ask, I knew it wasn't the right time.
"No. He'll find me at a hospital," Bella said quietly.
"No one will find you, I promise."
"I'll be as quick as possible," Carlisle said.
"Please, Bella? I just want to make sure you're okay." I told her honestly.
"Okay," Bella replied after a few moments.
I quickly moved about the kitchen and living room, looking for my jacket, wallet and cell phone.
"Do you want something to eat?" I heard Sam ask Bella.
"Is that really her?" Jacob whispered to Billy.
"I'm not sure. Looks like her," Billy replied.
"She's so tiny," Jacob whispered again.
"Charlie, don't worry about the mess. We'll get it cleaned up for you," Billy said.
"Thanks," I said as I walked back into the living room. "Ready?"
Bella agreed, and Carlisle and I drove to the hospital. I sat in the backseat with her, where she refused to let go of me. She told us on the way that her ankle was sore. When we reached the hospital, Carlisle brought us to his office and looked her over. I noticed that she kept her head down the entire time and that she was leery of Carlisle touching her. She also didn't speak much and only gave short answers to questions. After her physical, he took some blood and did a few other tests. While Carlisle was x-raying her ankle, I called the station first and then Billy.
I was thankful for Billy and Carlisle. They were more than friends during these past four years. They were more like brothers. They organized search parties after Ian and Isabella went missing, hung fliers, and worked the phones on the tip line. There were nights when they sat with me while I broke down from my loneliness and frustration. They helped me keep my sanity when I was close to losing it. Carlisle would always keep me talking so that I wouldn't revert into myself and sink into a deep depression, and Billy would take me to the Res and fishing when I needed a break from everything. These two men literally saved my life more times than they knew.
A few hours later, Bella was admitted and sleeping in a private room. Thankfully, her ankle was only sprained.
"Is she really okay?" I asked Carlisle, who was looking at a monitor.
"Yes. She's dehydrated and malnourished, but other than that she's physically fine. You should really think about bringing her to a therapist. She's going to need to talk to someone about everything that's happened."
"I know. She barely spoke to the detective when he was here."
"Can I tell Esme she's back?"
"Get some rest, Charlie. I'll be back in the morning to check on her."
She looked so peaceful. I could not bring myself to leave her. I'd missed too much time already, so I slept in the chair next to her bed. After an hour, Bella began to scream in her sleep.
"Ian! Ian, don't leave me!" she screamed. "Please don't hurt him! Ian! IAN!"
I pulled her close to me as her fists hit my chest. "Bella, it's okay. It's just a dream."
Two doctors and a nurse came in and injected something into her IV line to help settle her down.
"Ian, please don't leave me," she said as she drifted back into slumber.
The next morning she had curled herself into a ball and was crying, repeating Ian's name over and over. I tried to hold her, but she moved away from me. I was scared for her. Scared for Ian. They had to have been together at one point. My gut told me he was gone, but my heart wanted to believe otherwise. If Bella could suddenly reappear, why couldn't he?