Outtake: Rite of Passage
I flipped the light off in the bathroom before I opened the door in an attempt to not wake her. She was sleeping peacefully, curled up on her side, the covers kicked off, only the thin t-shirt she insisted on wearing to bed covering her body. I stood for a moment and watched her sleep with the only light coming from the sliver of moonlight and streetlamps that peeked in through the blinds. The longer I stood, the more my eyes adjusted and the more clearly I could see her. Almost unbidden, I made my way across the room, no longer worried about remaining silent. Even after all of this time, I simply couldn't stay away from here. Standing at the side of the bed, I sat down gingerly and leaned down to kiss her cheek.
Just as I both wanted and feared, she stirred slightly, and I brushed my fingers across her cheek. "Shh. Go back to sleep," I whispered.
I held my breath waiting to see if she would rouse further or fall back asleep, she mumbled my name softly before slipping back into slumber. After another moment, I crept out of the bedroom quietly and shut the door with nothing louder than a soft click. Hopefully she would be able to sleep for another few hours, at least. She'd been exhausted the last couple of weeks, and had been having dreams that frequently woke her up in the middle of the night. She needed all of the rest she could get. My mother and sister were both under strict orders to leave her alone until she called them today. With any luck that wouldn't be until ten or eleven at the earliest.
Walking down the hall, I reached the last door before the stairs and opened it. This time, I wasn't worried about being quiet. For a moment, I contemplated merely flipping on the light, but my son had a tendency to be grouchy in the mornings. "Jeremy," I said, jostling him slightly. "Come on, buddy, time to get up."
His little face scrunched up, and he rolled onto his back, then fell back asleep. I sighed and tried again. "You need to get up so we can go see your Grandpa Charlie. He'll be waiting for us," I said a little bit louder. "Time to wake up."
Jeremy turned again and this time mumbled, "Sleeping."
I flipped on the small lamp on his nightstand, and he squeezed his eyes shut tighter. He was definitely starting to wake up now. "You need to get up so we can go fishing today, Jeremy."
That did the trick. My son began to open his eyes against the light, blinking them rapidly several times before rubbing them with the backs of his hands. "Fishing?" he asked quietly.
"Yep. Time to get dressed, champ."
I pulled out the clothes his mother had gotten ready for him the night before and helped him get dressed. Within a few minutes we had his shoes tied, he was fully awake, and thankfully not grumpy. Unfortunately, his excitement was almost as bad. First, he bounded down the hardwood steps, causing a loud thumping sound to carry through the house. I had to snatch him up in my arms by the third step; even if Bella was deeply asleep for the first time in weeks, I didn't think that anyone could sleep through the sound of stampeding elephants. After we were downstairs Jeremy was talking almost as loudly as he'd been walking about how he was going to catch the biggest fish in the lake. Several times I found myself trying to shush him and reminding him that Mommy was trying to sleep.
Jeremy looked at me sheepishly, but moments later he was right back to being just as excited and just as loud as he had been before I'd reprimanded him. As soon as he finished using the bathroom, I handed him a cereal bar and rushed him out the door, not even bothering to wait for my coffee to finish brewing. Finding another way to feed my caffeine needs was much easier than it would be to get my wife to go back to sleep.
The drive to the lake was almost two hours from the house. The fishing trip was my way of trying to improve our relationship with Bella's dad. When she and I had been married just a couple of months earlier, I had really had my eyes opened when I saw how easily Jeremy was with my family, and even with Renee. But Charlie was more of an outsider, and from the way he looked at his grandson, I wasn't sure if that was what he truly wanted.
Over the last few years, I knew that Bella had tried to set things straight between them, however she always made him come to her on her terms. We rarely went to Forks where he lived, and we never did anything with him outside of meeting up for lunch someplace or having him over to the house. When our son had been born, Bella had said she wanted to partially name our son after her dad in an effort to extend an olive branch, but beyond giving our son his grandfather's name, she wasn't willing to put forth any further effort. I honestly wasn't sure if she knew how to relate to him. Though, from what I could see, it seemed that they were simply too much alike for their own good.
It was after watching Charlie at our wedding as he in turn watched both Bella and Jeremy with a look of longing that I began to wonder if he was waiting for a greater invitation. That was when I went over and spoke with him. Before that, our conversations had been brief, all involving his daughter, my son, and a few grunts or comments about work. We'd not been on the best of terms since our first meeting on that Thanksgiving when he'd come to the hospital and shouted at me for treating his daughter like shit. Just thinking about that time in both of our lives made me feel ill. I'd been such an idiot.
When I'd approached him, Charlie had seemed wary, but put on this gruff mask that I could only describe as something he created to give off the vibe as being a tough law enforcer. I'd wracked my brain to find something to talk with him about before I remembered a conversation with Bella from a couple of years earlier when she told me how much he enjoyed fishing, and I asked if he wanted to take a trip out with Jeremy and me one of these days. He'd grunted something in the affirmative, but after a few weeks, I really didn't think he was going to take me up on the offer. But at least after that I'd felt better about the distance between him and my family. It seemed that Bella wasn't the only one not willing to go the extra steps to reforming their relationship.
Obviously I had been wrong about Charlie. He'd called on Wednesday, asking to cash in on that rain check.
I stopped at a convenience store for coffee. Jeremy continued chattering away for the first twenty minutes in the car, telling me about everything from his preschool class to how he was going to catch a fish the size of our car to how he was going to marry Kirsten when he was grown up like me. As we left the lights of the city, however, he quickly became bored and not long after, he was out cold asleep.
The rest of the ride was quiet, as I got to turn off the children's music that Bella and Jeremy both insisted I keep on my phone and listened to anything other than lyrics baby sharks.
Jeremy woke up when we were about ten minutes away, and the excitement and enthusiasm he'd displayed earlier that morning was just as pronounced. By the time I parked the car next to Charlie's rusty old red pick-up truck, Jeremy was practically bouncing in his seat.
"Grandpa Charlie is here!" he squealed and began unbuckling himself from the booster seat before I'd even shut off the car.
Jeremy couldn't sit still. He was interested in the actual fishing for all of ten minutes, and in that time he'd stabbed his finger while insisting on baiting the hook himself and then stomped his foot and shouted when I tried to help him cast his line. "I'm going to do it by myself!" he insisted.
Charlie glared at me like I was the worst father ever, and I backed off. Naturally, that was when Jeremy threw the line out all of three feet and then began to reel it back in again. The second time, he went farther, and I tried to convince him to leave it there, but he pulled it back in immediately. The third time he successfully wrapped the line around his grandfather's legs, and before I could say anything, something caught his eye. Jeremy dropped the pole without a second glance and ran toward a patch of cattails, stating that he was going to hunt frogs instead.
Charlie chuckled as he cut himself out of the mess of fishing line and set about reattaching a hook and bait.
"I really don't think he's going to do much fishing," I told him. "If I were you, I wouldn't bother."
"He's just like all little kids. I'll cast the line out there for him and when it gets a bite, he'll be thrilled to reel it on in. Trust me, Edward. He's not the first kid I've gone fishing with."
I was skeptical but let him continue. Minutes later, Charlie had Jeremy's pole propped up against a y-shaped stick that was stuck in the ground. He sat back down and then glared at me. "Do you need me to fix up your pole for you, too?"
"I've got it, thanks."
I grabbed the fishing pole he handed to me and set to work. None of it was put together. Of all of the ridiculous and asinine things…. It was some sort of warped test to see if I really knew what I was doing. When I'd told Charlie that we could go fishing, I'd said it had been years, but I knew what I was doing.
The silence that followed as I began working on my pole was uncomfortable. I felt Charlie's eyes on me the entire time as I first spun the line onto the empty reel and then later threaded the pole.
"Those are good knots," he complimented when I tied on the swivel, sinker, and hook.
"Thanks." I held back the remark that I tied sutures for a living and pretended I didn't notice how he had some premade up ends of the line in a clear packet on the ground next to his chair. Even in the short time I'd been sitting there alone with Bella's father, I was finally starting to understand her irritation with him. I just had to keep reminding myself that underneath the tough exterior, I believed that he truly cared for his daughter and grandson.
The silence grew as my eyes flicked between my fishing pole and Jeremy who was still scouting through the reeds on the bank of the lake for anything that moved.
"Hey, JC, come here, I need your help," Charlie called. I looked at his pole to see that it was bent.
Charlie was the only person who called Jeremy "JC." No one said anything to him about it, but we all knew it was because Charlie was proud of Jeremy's middle name and this way he got to acknowledge it. A month ago, Jeremy had come up to me to tell me that there was a song about him. Bella had a penchant for musicals, and shortly before Easter she'd been listening to Jesus Christ Superstar. Jeremy had heard a song that sang to JC and thought it was cool that they were singing to him. We would save the theological discussion for when he was older.
The next five minutes was spent with Jeremy helping his grandfather reel in a trout that was barely big enough to be legal to take home. But my son didn't care; he was excited and was already working on his fish story of how heavy and big it was and how much it fought, nearly dragging him into the water. I laughed and gave him a high-five.
Ten minutes later, he was back to hunting for something he could beg to take home as a pet, and I was stuck back into silence with my father-in-law. I was sorely tempted to pull out the book that I'd brought along when he finally spoke.
"So, when are you and my daughter planning on telling me about the new baby?"
It was a damn good thing I wasn't drinking anything right then. As it was, I still coughed and then looked at him dumbfounded until I finally sputtered out, "What?"
Charlie sat up straighter in his chair and gave me his "cop" stare. I recognized the look, and even at my age, I began to squirm. "Don't tell me you're going to pull the same shit you did before."
"I have no idea what you're talking about."
He snorted. "You don't remember treating my little girl like she was a—"
"I remember, I remember." I cut him off. This wasn't a new conversation.
"Yeah, yeah. Sure," he grumbled. Then he added in a warning tone, "I don't forget and I carry a gun."
"I think you've told me that before." I chuckled; this wasn't the first time that Charlie had said that either and by now I knew that it was part of his cantankerous attitude.
"Sue is making a quilt."
"What?" That was a random change in topic.
"You know that quilt that Jeremy has that Sue made."
I nodded. It was blues with baseballs, bats, and gloves embroidered all around the edge. It must've been a painstaking amount of work.
"She started making that thing well over a month before Bella called to tell me she was pregnant. Sue didn't tell me what it was for. I figured it was something for her daughter or someone on the reservation. After I came home from work the day Bella called, I told Sue, and she showed me the quilt and said it was for my grandson." He paused for a minute, narrowing his eyes as he watched me. "Sue started making a new quilt about two weeks ago."
I shook my head. "Umm. I don't know what to tell you."
Charlie raised an eyebrow. "The blanket is pink and frilly."
"Dad! Dad! Look! I caught a frog!"
Charlie huffed as if I'd planned the distraction and then turned his attention to my son. "Come here and show Grandpa Charlie."
Jeremy ran up to him with his hands cupped, the dirt and mud staining the hem of his jeans and his shirt. He held up his small hands to his grandfather and opened it slightly. The frog must've taken that opportunity to try to jump because in the next moment, Jeremy's hands flew apart wide and he screamed.
Charlie and I were both laughing then, while Jeremy looked on the ground around him for the frog, but he couldn't find it. Shortly after, Jeremy's fishing pole bent sharply, so Charlie and I helped him reel in his very own fish. This one was larger than the one he'd caught on Charlie's line, and Jeremy was even more excited than he had been the first time.
"Look how big it is! It's prolly the biggest fish ever caught. Isn't it, Dad? I caught the biggest fish ever."
Naturally, his attention only remained on the fish for a few more minutes, and then he was back to frog hunting. However, I knew that even with that activity, he'd not last too much longer before he was complaining about boredom, hunger, exhaustion, or that he had to use the bathroom.
We stayed out fishing with Charlie until just after three in the afternoon. Bella had packed us a lunch, but I'd thought it was just snacks until I opened up the cooler to find several sandwiches, chips, drinks, and Jeremy's favorite pasta salad. She'd made so much food that I was sure we would've had enough to last us through dinner, but just as I'd suspected, Jeremy grew tired and his patience waned.
Much to the enjoyment of my son, Charlie rounded out the afternoon by showing him how to clean and gut the fish we'd caught, and then we swapped coolers. Charlie got the leftover lunch, while Jeremy and I got an ice chest full of fish. Well, not quite full, but there was certainly enough to feed our small family.
The day, though enjoyable, had been busy, and Jeremy again fell asleep within minutes of me buckling him into his seat. The long drive back home gave me some time to think about the day I'd had. For a day off, I was almost as worn out as I would've been after spending the entire weekend on call at the hospital.
After parking the car in the garage, I got my son out as quietly as I could, so as not to wake him. He snuggled tightly against my shoulder, but hardly stirred. As I walked past the kitchen, Bella looked up from the green vegetables she was chopping and smiled, then followed me as I carried Jeremy up the stairs.
I had the briefest moment of indecision before I laid my son down on his bed knowing how dirty he was, but as my mother had a habit of reminding me, it was only dirt and the bedding was washable. While I untied his shoes and removed his grungy socks, Bella gathered his pajamas and together we gently changed his clothes. Miraculously, he stayed asleep. Bella pulled his covers up over him and kissed his forehead before grabbing his dirty clothes and leaving the room. I clicked off the bedside light and went after her.
"Did you have fun?" she asked as she opened the washing machine and tossed Jeremy's clothes in, wrinkling her nose when she caught a whiff of the fishy scent.
"We did. But I missed you."
Bella looked up at me and smiled, but when I leaned in to kiss her, she backed away and held her hand up to her face. "Shower first."
"Fair enough," I told her, backing away and laughing. "I'll be back down in ten minutes."
When I came back down, I tossed my clothes in with Jeremy's and started the washing machine before heading into the kitchen. Bella was standing in front of the stove cooking stir-fry. "I would've planned something for the fish, but I wasn't sure if you were actually going to catch any. That's quite a little haul you've got there," she said, nodding to the cooler that was now sitting next to the sink.
"Your dad said that if we hadn't caught anything up at the lake then he had planned on taking Jeremy down to one of those private ponds where an old man keeps it stocked with fish and charges people for each fish that they catch."
"Do people do that?"
I shrugged. "Apparently."
"Did Jeremy have fun?"
"He likes frogs."
Bella wrinkled her nose. "What?"
"Frogs. Be grateful your dad distracted him with gutting fish—otherwise we would now be trying to figure out where to keep the jumping amphibians."
"I am very grateful." Bella laughed and shook her head as she added sauce to the stir-fry mixture before pulling the wok off the stove. "A new pet is the last thing we need now."
I agreed. "And what was it that you did today?" I asked, grabbing the bowl of rice and carrying it to the table.
"You mean after your sister used the key she never gave back at eight o'clock this morning? I woke up and screamed because she was just sitting there on the end of the bed tapping her fingers on the footboard."
Alice had watched Jeremy at our house for us when we'd gone on our honeymoon back in March; she'd never given back the house key, insisting that we never knew when someone else might need to get into the house. First thing in the morning, I planned on driving over to her house and taking it back. I sat down at the table with a groan. "She swore she'd leave you alone and let you sleep in today."
"Apparently she had an epiphany at six this morning that woke her up from a dead sleep, so she showered, dressed, ran by the grocery store, and then she showed up here."
"Was it really a big revelation, or was that just her excuse for coming over so early?" I knew my sister well, and she had a tendency to be overly dramatic about the most ridiculous things. It wouldn't be unusual for her epiphanies to be nothing more than what she wanted to eat for breakfast, which judging by the package on the counter had been blueberry muffins.
Bella pursed her lips and cocked her head to the side before she shook her head and sighed. "You know Alice, in the end it all had to do with her shopping plan."
I laughed. Bella really didn't enjoy shopping, but she loved my sister and Bella indulged her by shopping with her every couple of months. This had been the first time they'd gone out shopping since right before the wedding. "She didn't create a schedule and a map for you this time, did she?"
"No, thank God. She didn't have time because her… erm… revelation changed her schedule."
"Did she make you buy anything I'd be interested in?" One thing that Alice was good at was dragging Bella into the high-end lingerie stores. I loved my sister for that.
She rolled her eyes. "You wish. Shockingly, new panties, negligees, and bras weren't on your sister's agenda. But I did get you something."
If it wasn't lingerie, then it would have to be something electronic. My mind was suddenly very focused on what new little electrical gadget I would get to spend the next day learning how to use.
Judging by Bella's soft laughter, she knew exactly what I was thinking about.
We spent the rest of dinner talking. She told me about the restaurant she and Alice went to for lunch, and I told her about Jeremy's adventurous day spent fishing and frog hunting. When we were finished, I wrapped and put away the fish and cleaned out the cooler, while she cleaned up the few dishes from dinner. Bella was already yawning, and as she quickly turned around to put the leftover rice in the refrigerator, she had to catch the counter to keep from falling over. She claimed that it was nothing more than a small dizzy spell, but my concern for her was growing. There were so many things that could be related to her exhaustion, vertigo, and nausea. Just as I would for any patient, I began to tick her symptoms off in my head and became increasingly worried with each one. The first thing I needed to do was get her in for a blood panel, I decided. That would give me a direction to go in at least.
I felt something on my chest and looked down to see Bella's hands resting there as she looked up at me. "Hey," she said. "Where were you just now?"
Moving my hands up to cup her cheeks, I kissed her forehead and debated telling her about the thoughts that were occupying my mind. Leaning down, I rested my forehead against hers and breathed deeply.
"What's wrong?" she whispered when I didn't answer her last question. "You promised not to keep everything to yourself."
Bella was biting her lip, and just by the stiffness in her body, I could tell that she was nervous.
Pulling back slightly and again kissing her forehead, I moved my hands down to her shoulders and squeezed them lightly. "It's probably nothing. I'm just concerned about how you've been feeling."
A small smile ghosted her lips. "You really don't have anything to worry about."
I opened my mouth to argue when she put her finger on my lips. "Let me give you what I bought for you today."
She walked out of the kitchen before I could say anything else, and I tried to expel my growing tension with another deep breath. When she came back a few minutes later, she set a bag on the counter. Then she took a deep breath and opened it up, pulling something out and handing it to me.
Looking down at the item in my hands, my eyebrows knitted together. I could hear Bella talking. She was telling me about Alice's epiphany and how some small part of her knew, but she didn't want to acknowledge it yet. Bella said she'd been too focused on a new client and that things had been in such a huge flux since our wedding and…. I don't know what else she said because my eyes on solely focused on the words on the maroon t-shirt she'd handed me.
Father 2 Be… Again
When I looked back at her, she was biting her lip again, waiting for my response.
"Are you sure?"
She nodded. "Alice brought a bag full of tests with her this morning."
Bella just nodded.
Knowing my psychic baby sister, she'd dreamt all about it this morning before she came over to harass my wife. It didn't matter. Just one of the many quirks in my family, which reminded me… "It's a girl," I informed Bella with a smile.
"Oh really," she replied, her tone was playfully doubtful.
She took a step closer to me, and I pulled her back into my arms. "Yep."
"And what makes you so sure of that."
"Sue told your dad, and your dad told me. I just figured they were both a bit crazy," I explained, chucking at her confused expression. "Pretty much like Alice's epiphany."
"Why are we always the last to know?"
"Probably because we—" Bella didn't let me finish my answer before she pulled my face down to hers to kiss her.
"I love you," she said several minutes later when she pulled away.
At her words, I felt the joy and excitement bubble up inside of me. It was a sensation I hadn't had a chance to fully appreciate when she'd been pregnant with Jeremy, and I was anxious for the opportunity to be able to share everything with her this time. It was a rite of passage, just as my fishing trip with Jeremy and Charlie had been earlier, and I look forward to going on this next journey with my family.
Placing my hand low on her stomach, just over her womb, I whispered reverently, "Thank you, love." After brushing away the happy tears that were slipping down her cheeks with my thumb, I kissed her once more before following my wife upstairs.
A/N: I waffled back on forth on where to place this little piece. This outtake was written for someone at an online charity auction way back in the day. It was just a piece of daddyward fluff for people to read and I loved writing it. Obviously, this takes place before the epilogue, and years later I kinda wished it was the epilogue instead of the one I have posted. There's nothing wrong with the epilogue, this just shows you a bit more about how the little family gets along and manages. While the actual epilogue gives more of a general update on the extended Cullen family.
I will be posting a couple of older fics (one-shots) that I've had on other sites here on ffnet. There is for sure an Edward one-shot that I don't think was ever here. And there is another that is a tiny little HP one-shot. There are possibly a few other HP one-shots that never found their way here, so be sure you look at the fandom category if that's not your cup of tea (seriously, my OTP for HP isn't for everyone). I'm also toying with a few one-shot ideas I have floating around in my head to see if I can manage to figure out how to write again. I think it would help clear my head a bit. If you know of any Twific contests out there, please point me in their direction. I know of a mafia one going on, but that's about it and mafia fic really isn't my thing (I wouldn't even know where to start with that type of story.)
Thank you to my bestest friend ever, sshg316. She beta'd the original version of this story. I've made a few random edits, some fixed stuff we missed the first time around, other things. Though in some of my added bits, I'm sure I made a mistake or two. All mistakes are my own. However, what I do not lay claim to is Twilight. That, my dear readers, belonds to S Meyer. In this case, she gets the credit for the characters.
I also want to thank my many fandom friends I had while originally writing this story. They are the ones who cheered me on so I could finish this monster. Also, thank you to all of those who have stumbled onto this story over the years. It's the fact that this story was still getting love and attention after years of sitting here unfinished, that made me want to come back and get the final chapters out to you. Mwah!