Remember When This Was Fun Contest
Summary: Edward loves to drive fast, and he counts on his gift to be his radar detector. Unfortunately, Charlie's thoughts are sometimes none too clear to him... For the Remember When This Was Fun Contest. Rated T for language.
Disclaimer: Twilight and its characters belong to Stephenie Meyer.
"You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you …"
Charlie trotted out the rest of the Miranda warning's familiar words, trying and failing to suppress his glee as he cuffed me. He didn't normally arrest drivers for speeding, but when his daughter's "son of a bitch boyfriend" happened to be driving sixty miles over the limit in his jurisdiction, well, he considered it an early Christmas present. He chuckled, just a little, as he closed the back door of the cruiser, got in the front seat, and headed for the station.
I couldn't believe my bad luck. I knew Charlie was harder to read than other humans—well, other than Bella—but it never even occurred to me that I could be oblivious to Charlie's speed trap. I'd thought myself totally alone on the road. When I finally caught a glimpse of Charlie's thoughts about a crazy speeder, I thought about accelerating and just not getting caught, but I realized that Charlie had already seen my car and knew very well I had the only silver Volvo in town. Thinking of how much teasing fodder my arrest would provide my family made me groan. I could already hear Emmett's voice singing Bad Boys.
Charlie pulled into the parking lot, exited the cruiser, and opened the door for me. He grabbed an arm to help me up, and I caught his surprise at how solid it was. Kid must work out as much as Jake, even if he doesn't look it. I barely suppressed a growl at his comparison, frustrated that this thought was perfectly clear to me.
Concern for my car crossed my mind as we walked toward the station. I'd pulled over to the side of the road as far as I reasonably could, but the dense forest provided only a limited amount of shoulder room. "Chief Swan?"
"Yeah." His voice was gruff, but I could tell that he was still very much enjoying himself.
"What about my car, sir?"
"I'll have it towed to the impound lot." He snickered to himself at the term; the "impound lot" was any unoccupied space in the station parking lot.
This was Bella's father, I reminded myself as I tried to suppress my irritation at his attitude, and I had been traveling at more than three times the posted speed limit. I would remain respectful. He didn't know I posed no danger to the local humans based on my driving habits. "Would it be possible for one of my brothers or sisters to pick it up, sir? Then you wouldn't need to deal with it." And I wouldn't have to worry about some ham-handed human from Dowling's touching my car and charging the town—and ultimately, me—three times what it should cost for a short tow. Of course, I could easily afford the cost, but it was the principle of the thing.
I listened to Charlie's mental struggle, waiting patiently for his answer. He wanted desperately to say no, just to spite me, but he was also determined to treat me like any other arrestee. Had I been any other Forks resident, he would have immediately agreed with my suggestion—even if it wasn't exactly by the book.
"I do get a phone call, don't I, sir?" I prompted.
Grumbling internally at my maneuver, he agreed and led me to the phone where he removed the cuffs. He listened with interest to my end of the subsequent conversation.
"Hello?" Alice's bright voice greeted me.
"Alice." I paused, knowing she would recognize my voice. "You'll never guess where I'm calling from."
After a brief pause, during which she must have been scanning her visions, I heard her giggle.
"I'm with Chief Swan at the police station. I didn't realize how fast I was going, and he brought me in for speeding."
"Does he normally arrest people for speeding? That doesn't sound right." I could hear more giggles trying to break free as she spoke, and I could hear the chuckles of my other siblings, whose interest had been attracted by the conversation.
"I was going...rather a lot over the speed limit." I let my voice shake a bit as I realized that Charlie was starting to be suspicious that I was not acting like a typical teenager in these circumstances.
All four of them laughed at this.
"Is Carlisle home?" I asked hopefully.
Alice won her bid for self-control, stifled her giggling, and answered, "No, he was called in for an emergency. And Esme won't be home until tomorrow."
I frowned. "Do you have any idea when he'll be back?"
She sobered somewhat as she replied, "No, but it sounded serious. He thought he'd probably be in surgery for a while."
"Huh." I thought for a minute. "Well, can somebody at least get my car off the road?"
I could hear a brief discussion at the other end of the line, and then Alice came back. "Emmett and Rose will do it. Will you just wait there until Carlisle can come bail you out?"
"I guess...wait. Hold on," I said as a thought occurred to me. I turned and addressed the Chief. "Chief Swan?"
He looked up from the fishing magazine he'd been pretending to read. In actuality, his thoughts had been split between listening in to our conversation and recollections of Bella while I was gone.
"I'm eighteen, sir, almost nineteen." At least according to my current birth certificate. "Do I need to have a parent come for me at all? Can't I take care of this myself and just have my brother come pick me up?"
Charlie huffed. He hadn't wanted to let me go so easily. "Yeah, that's right. If you can post bail, that is. It's not cheap." He named a figure well within my ability to pay. "And you can bet I'll be letting your folks know what happened. Don't think you're gonna keep it from them."
"No, sir. I'll tell them myself." With effort, I kept myself from rolling my eyes. Of necessity, we had no secrets in our family.
I turned back to the phone and asked Alice to have Emmett come pick me up at the station—without Rose, if possible. Even Emmett's teasing would be better than the sneers Rosalie would have in store for me.
After hanging up, I turned to Charlie. "What do I need to do, sir?" I let my hand shake a bit as I completed the paperwork he gave me, trying to portray a nervous teenager. No longer distracted by my telephone conversation, his thoughts focused solely on how devastated Bella had been by my abandonment. He was trying to derive some satisfaction from my current problems, feeling it was nowhere near what I deserved, but at least it was something.
My own guilt washed over me as it always did when images such as these passed through the minds of those around me. I would never, never be able to make it up to her...
But then something odd happened.
I got angry.
I'd hurt Bella immeasurably, yes. But those months had been no bed of roses for me, either, and I had honestly believed that my actions would protect her, keep her from the constant threat my world posed. I would take whatever punishment Bella meted out, but I found I was tired of the constant resentment from Charlie. I would never disrespect the father of the woman I loved, but I decided it was past time that I stood up for myself.
Charlie was still irritated—this kid is too smug, gets away with too much—as he returned my keys, wallet, and cell phone to me, huffing and muttering under his breath.
I'd had enough. "Chief Swan." He looked up and our eyes met. I was unaccountably nervous but decided that was all the better as I confronted him. "I've apologized for how I handled our departure—how I left Bella. I'm happy to do so again. I'm more sorry than I can say that she was hurt by my actions. She's forgiven me, though. Why are you still so hostile?" I saw him take a breath and rushed to continue before he could speak. "Sir, have you never made a mistake in trying to do the best you could for someone you loved? Hurt them instead of protecting them? I was just as miserable as Bella was, you know. You can ask Carlisle and Esme—I felt like I was barely alive the whole time we were gone. I love her more than my life."
My words sparked Charlie's temper. "You don't know what you're talking about. You deserved to be miserable—it was all your fault! Bella didn't do anything." His voice rose and his face reddened.
I swallowed. "Yes, it was my fault. I knew I didn't deserve her, was no good for her. I thought she'd get over me and find someone else—we both know plenty of boys in this town would have loved to take my place, and I thought she'd pick one and be happy again. I was wrong. Because she loves me. I don't know why anymore than you—"
Charlie broke in. Snorting, he shook his head and shot, "I sure as hell don't know why!".
I continued as if there had been no interruption. "—but I accept it now, and I'm thankful every day for it." To my surprise, my voice broke over the words. "And I'll do everything in my power to make her happy." I took a deep breath, grasping for control. My voice strengthened as I went on. "That includes doing what I can to ease our relationship. I've apologized, many times, and I'm doing my best to show you that I won't repeat my mistakes. I can't make you forgive me, but you have to know Bella would like us to get along." I stopped, breathing roughly as I waited for Charlie's response.
He was silent, measuring me, and I couldn't make out what he was thinking. Finally, he spoke. "Why no good?"
I was confused. "Pardon—what?"
"You said you were no good for her—why? You're a smart, rich, good-looking kid; you even have good manners. Why wouldn't you be good for her?"
Uh-oh, how to explain this one? Because I'm a vampire who wants to drink her more than any human I've ever encountered? I didn't think so. I hadn't really intended to be quite that honest—like his daughter, Charlie had a way of stripping through pretense. I dropped my eyes as I scrambled for an explanation that would fit our cover story. "I...didn't always live with Carlisle and Esme. I did some things I'm not proud of."
Of course, his interest was pricked. "What kind of things?"
I could not go into details. "I'm not going into that. I've told Bella, and that's enough. Incredibly, she doesn't hold it against me. I didn't believe that, though, when I left. I was sure it would come back to haunt her."
Charlie's thoughts turned to searching criminal records, even trying to dig up sealed juvenile records. "Where was this?"
I met his eyes squarely. "No, sir. I said I'm not going into it. I was never arrested or charged; there are no records."
He wasn't going to be satisfied with that. I castigated myself. Why had I thought confronting him would be a good idea? I should have just let him stew against me.
"Was it drugs?"
I sighed, exasperated, and answered truthfully, "No, no drugs. I've never done drugs, ever." Inspiration struck, and I hoped desperately that it would be enough. "It's just, after my parents died, I...well, I did okay at first. But a couple of years later, I...acted out." I supposed that was one way to think of it—hell, for a vampire, drinking human blood wasn't even really acting out. I spun my tale as best I could, trying to keep to the truth as much as possible. "I tried to tell myself I wasn't really doing anything wrong because I compared myself to people I thought were even worse than me, but after a while, I realized it was just an excuse. I have no record since no one was in a position to complain—" especially since they were drained of blood, lying lifeless in the street—"but that doesn't mean I'm blameless. I've...struggled with self-hatred ever since."
Charlie regarded me skeptically, still measuring. Abruptly, he questioned, "What made you stop? If you weren't caught, it wasn't that, so why?"
I was surprised; I hadn't seen that coming. This answer was simple, though, and boiled down to one word. "Carlisle." His brows rose, and I tried to organize my thoughts to explain further. "His compassion, his...insistence that I could become better than what I was. That I wasn't only...what had happened to me, or only as good as the worst things I'd done. And Esme—she's the most loving person I know. I didn't want to hurt her by doing things she wouldn't like." I half-smiled at my next words. "Bella is a lot like her—once she loves, that's it. I didn't see that before, but now I do, and I'm going to cherish her love and return it the best I can." Once again, I was overcome, and my voice broke as my eyes fell. My hand raked through my hair in a habitual gesture.
"You don't talk about this, do you?" Charlie's voice was even, with virtually no expression. His thoughts were far too vague for me to unravel.
I laughed a little, though shakily. I couldn't remember the last time I felt so much like a real seventeen-year-old. "Never."
"So why are you telling me all this now? You know I don't like you much, and I can't believe you feel any better about me."
My head snapped up in shock. "What? No! I mean, I didn't like what happened today, but I was in the wrong. I respect you a great deal, and I know you love Bella more than anything. You're perfectly within your rights to hate me."
I heard Emmett's Jeep approaching as Charlie responded dryly. "Well, that's big of you. Still didn't answer me, though—why me?" I began to appreciate why Charlie was Chief of Police-he was a skillful interrogator who wouldn't let go until he got answers.
I realized I didn't really know how to respond. Why had I started this conversation? Slowly, I tried to articulate what I wasn't sure of myself. "Two reasons, I guess. First, I love your daughter, more than anything, and I want her happy. She'll feel better if we get along, at least a little. And also—well, I know I hurt you, too, indirectly, and I truly am sorry."
I could see his thoughts mirror mine: He, too, wanted Bella happy. Gruffly, he muttered, "All right. Maybe it's time to move forward. I'm still keeping my eye on you, though."
I stood as straight as I could and met his eyes. "Understood."
The Jeep's roaring was close enough to be heard by Charlie. What the hell is that? It's louder than Bella's truck. He raised a brow. "Is that your ride?"
"Yeah," I admitted. "It sounds like Emmett's Jeep."
"He's the big one, right?"
He waved a hand at me. "Just cut the 'sir' crap. Call me Chief or Charlie."
I nodded, recognizing the overture for what it was. "Yes, s—Chief."
This ends of his mustache curled up just a bit as the Jeep's roar abruptly cut off, followed by the sound of footsteps.
Emmett walked in with a huge grin on his face. "Oh, little bro. What kinda trouble are you in now? Carlisle and Esme will be so disappointed..." He shook his head in mock sorrow while his thoughts gleefully dug at me.
The radar detector is caught! Record stood for decades, ruined now. Hauled off to the slammer. Sure enough, the distinctive syncopation of Bad Boys started to play in his head.
Charlie was amused. Hmm, seems like he's gonna get enough grief from this at home to make it worth my while. "Speeding," he answered. Nodding at me, he went on, "And as fast as you were going, it qualifies as reckless driving."
"Reckless! Aww, Edward..."
I glared at him and spoke too quickly for Charlie to detect. "Watch it, Emmett. Don't push it."
Oh, no way! This is too good to miss...
Aloud, he assured Charlie, "I'm sure Carlisle and Esme will make sure he's sorry and that it doesn't happen again."
"He'd better hope it doesn't, or he'll lose his license."
"It won't, Chief. I'll be careful." Turning to Emmett, I added, "Okay, let's go get my car."
Charlie walked us out. Emmett's mental teasing resumed. As long as you were doing 85, why not go fast enough he couldn't catch you? Maybe Rose can boost that Volvo of yours for you. An internal snicker followed.
Speaking swiftly under my breath, I said, "He knows the car; he would have come to the house, I'm sure. This was better. And I told you to watch it."
As Emmett ducked a bit to go through the doorway, Charlie seemed struck by his size. "Why did you never play football? Forks High coulda gone all the way to state with you on the team."
Surprised, Emmett stalled, "Oh, well..."
I saw my opening and jumped in. "He couldn't, Chief. He has fragile joints. He has to be careful; they can't really handle much impact."
I was barely able to prevent a snort at Em's indignant thoughts. Fragile! Why, you little...
"Oh? Well, that's too bad. You take care of yourself, then." He waited on the porch as we started toward Emmett's Jeep. "Drive safe—and slow."
"I will, Chief."
Emmett could contain himself no longer as he put the Jeep in gear and turned out of the station's parking lot. "What the hell? Me, fragile? Eddie, you are so gonna get it." An evil grin appeared on his face as he started thinking about his plans for later that evening with Rose—in excruciatingly graphic detail.
I groaned. "All right, no more! Stop! I can't take that all the way to my car, especially since we'll have to go the speed limit."
Mercifully, he stopped the flow of images. "Seriously, dude, are you okay? You looked a little shook up when I first got there."
I sighed. "Yeah, I'm fine. Charlie and I just...talked over a few things."
"Is he still giving you a hard time?"
"A bit at first, but I think we actually may have reached some kind of understanding at the end." After a pause, I added, "It's not like he has no reason to hate me. I put his daughter through hell."
He nudged my shoulder. "You're too hard on yourself, bro. You thought it was for the best. Just look forward now. You're in love, sooner or later she'll say yes, and sooner or later—"
I stopped him before he could finish that thought. I was coming to accept that her change was inevitable, but I still hated the idea. "Don't say it. Please."
For all of his robust joviality, Emmett could be amazingly perceptive, and he was quiet for the rest of the ride.
Several minutes later, we arrived at the Volvo, and I switched cars.
Emmett pulled my attention away from Bella's likely future as I started the ignition, "Race you home?"
I snorted. "No way! That's the last thing I need."
He guffawed. "Come on, Eddie,"—oh, how I hated that nickname—"Charlie's back at the station, and we're already outside the town limits. Y'hear anyone else?"
I listened closely, concentrating as far as my range extended. I exhaled sharply. "No." Oh, it was so tempting...
He knew me. Raising an eyebrow, he thought, Well?
I couldn't help the grin that appeared on my face. Em could always do this—bring me out of my "emo wallowing," as he sometimes put it.
"You're on!" I yelled as I floored the accelerator, and the Volvo leaped ahead of the Jeep, speeding into the night.