Stephenie Meyer owns all things Twilight. No copyright infringement is intended.

Beta'd by HollettLA

So sorry for the long wait. You might wanna re-read ch17/18 to refresh your memory. My apologies.

Anyway, Charlie interrupted what was sure to be a fun night for E/B. Bella had a panic attack, and Edward went home to a party being thrown by Hale/McCarty. When Edward woke up the next morning, Charlie and Bella had arrived, and then Edward rushes to get ready...Other job-related/Carlisle-related things happened in ch17/18.


Offbeat

Chapter Nineteen

Emmett let me borrow his truck to show Bella and Charlie around, and it was a total hassle.

Looking for a spot was taking too long; Charlie suggested I pay for parking, put the truck in a garage that charges a small mint an hour, and my mother blew up my phone the entire time. Halfway to the museum, I silenced my cell, gaining a curious expression from my girlfriend.

Finally out of the car, I read the texts Mom had sent me as well. With her eyesight what it is and her reluctance to get herself glasses, I had a hard time deciphering what she was trying to say. I got the gist, though. She was upset about my run-in with Carlisle yesterday.

He could have lied or told her the truth. I had no idea, and being with Bella's father helped keep my mind off my own.

No matter how hungry Bella was, we didn't get breakfast like she'd first suggested.

We walked around the museum for a bit, which was boring.

Unlike our trip to the Bronx Zoo, nothing held my interest.

Well, almost nothing.

They checked out the displays, and I watched Bella's ass as she strolled alongside her father.

It looked good, really nice today in the stretchy sweats she's wearing. Christ. If her pops wasn't here, I'd have my hand on that bad boy right now. Her ass would be nestled in my palms. I'd squeeze it, maybe even bend down low and bite it if no one were around.

"What do you think?"

I love me some Bella-meat—I can sink my teeth right in.

"Edward?" Bella asked, turning to me, and my eyes trailed up to her face.

I smiled at her. "Yeah?"

She giggled. "You're bored."

I sighed through a chuckle. "Very…I'm sorry."

"Me too," Charlie piped up, and he actually agreed with me.

Like the cornball I am, his admission made me smile, relieved that he might be warming up to me. Gaining his approval and respect is important to me, but it is what it is.

I plan to stick around.

He can either accept me, or get the fuck over it.

"Food?" I asked them, stifling a chuckle, my thoughts amusing . . .

To me, anyway.

Charlie patted his stomach. "I've been looking forward to a hot dog. What are they called? Dirty water dogs?"

I nodded, my eyes falling on Bella, her pretty face, and that made me grin. "What do you want?"

The side of her mouth pulled up. She didn't meet my gaze, but she was trying not to smile. "I could go for a knish."

I scrunched my nose. "That's it…?" I hedged, bending low just to get closer.

Bella giggled, the tops of her cheeks turning pink. "Yeah, we don't have time for much else...You have to go to work—"

"No," I disagreed; it was only half past noon. We had some time to play with if we left now. "We'll get him his hot dog, and then we'll—"

"It's fine." She gave my hand a squeeze. "I have to use the restroom first, though—before we leave." Bella turned to Charlie. "You should, too. There aren't many bathrooms in this city that are open to the public."

I gestured, paving the way toward the bathrooms.

Charlie and I stood outside, waiting for her, and I looked everywhere but to him—feeling uncomfortable now. My phone was still vibrating in my pocket, and I tried my best to ignore it.

Bella, the only thing we had in common, was a great buffer. She'd helped to break up the awkwardness, and he would think my texting rude.

"A patrolman's salary . . ." He started.

I massaged my forehead. "What about it?"

"You make shit."

"It's gotten better," I said. "I don't need much, and—"

"But if you plan on having a future with my daughter—"

"Hang on." I felt the need to stop him while he was ahead. "I get what you're saying, the topic you wanna speak about." I paused, thinking about how to phrase what I have to say. "But we're nowhere near that point . . . And I think Bella knows how much money I make—that I'm not loaded. I'm going to guess it's around what your salary is now."

There was no way the chief of West Bumblefuck, Nowhere was living in the lap of luxury, nor could he possibly make more dough than I do, even as chief of police. "We're not going to get married, have a bunch of kids while she's a housewife. Let's face it. We get married, she's gonna hafta work." I thought my words were hilarious, and I laughed.

Charlie didn't share my humor, his eyes serious. "You think she's going to take care of you?"

"No," I said. "She could. She's more than capable," —it still bothered me that he continues to underestimate her, acting like there's something wrong with Bella— "but I meant…we'd both work. We'd both do what we want. I love your daughter. We're happy now…where we are in our relationship, and Bella's gotta finish school. Who knows if we'll…" I cut myself off, hoping to steer the conversation in another direction. "The future's far away." I nodded.

"She says she's not moving back home." He sounded sad. "Would you settle down, raise a family in this city? This place?" He grimaced, not a fan of Manhattan.

"I—no, I wouldn't," I spluttered, wondering if Bella fell into the toilet; she was taking so long. "No way. Hopefully, if or when…I have a family, I wouldn't wanna live in New York City."

"Why not?" Charlie folded his arms across his chest, standing taller. His actions weren't threatening, his eyes brimming with curiosity and concern.

"There's nothing wrong with raising a family here. A great many people do it…There's crime everywhere, right?" I quirked a brow.

"But there's more here," he muttered.

I nodded to agree. "Because of what I see…the things I see and have seen…no. I wouldn't if I didn't have to." I was honest. "But, back to what I was saying. Crime and the atrocities of the world are everywhere. There's no escaping it. There's no perfect city, state, or town. The world's a shitty place, you know…?"

He waved a hand. "There's good and bad everywhere—you're correct. Bells hates Forks, and I know why."

"It's small, boring…" I trailed off, hoping he'd elaborate, tell me something I didn't know.

"She was little and in school…and then she moved away, only to come back as a teenager and be around the same kids who never forgot her." Charlie skirted around something, seeming uneasy now, and I understood—got the gist. Bella told me all about her childhood, how people saw her as different, and the kids in her school were cruel; they used to tease her. When Bella moved away with her mother, she had a clean slate. No one knew her, and she was happier. She'd made friends, no one mistreated her, nor did they try to place her in a "special" class. Then her mother died, and she was shipped back to Forks.

"She had it rough," I said.

"I tried my best. I did the best I could to shield her, protect her—"

I turned to face him. "You did a great job, but…I could take over. I-I—" I chuckled. "I try hard, too, but Bella's…If Bella wants to do something, there's no stopping her."

"You're telling me." He shook his head. "I went out and bought U-Dub sweatshirts, trying to sell it, and no. Bella and Alice were dead set on living in New York City. I came out here six times during her freshman year, and she…she was fine. I had the problem." He touched his chest. "It's hard, waking up one morning and finding out…your baby doesn't need you anymore." He was stuck on his thoughts, like Bella gets sometimes, staring at the floor.

I smiled. "Right."

His eyes met mine. "I'm not an asshole. Maybe I underestimate her. Maybe…I overstep, but…"

"I get it." I patted his back. "I have two nieces, and I don't get to see them that often." Speaking of, I haven't seen them since my grandfather's funeral, and Katie is giving me the silent treatment. I've spoken to my mother over the phone a couple of times, and she never mentioned Carlisle moving back in; I had to hear it from him when I was about to arrest him. "And the shit I see…what happens to some kids, some women, the shit people…do to other people, it's enough to not wanna let Bella, Larissa, and Maddy…my sister, my mother," I laughed at myself, "out of my sight ever. It's tough."

"You're close with your family?" he asked.

"I used to be…not so much these days." I hoped he wouldn't ask about my father.

"You're busy." He came to his own conclusion, and I didn't correct him. "Did you always want to be a cop?"

"No…I didn't. It wasn't about making a difference, or caring, or cleaning up the streets. It's complicated." I furrowed my brow. "It's…just the path I went."

"My father was a cop. His father was a cop…" He waved a hand.

I looked to the bathroom door. "She's taking a long time."

Charlie grinned. "She heard us talking, and she's letting us talk." He knocked, and Bella was caught.

"Hey…" She poked her head out.

I leaned to see her. "You can come out."

"I know." She nestled into my side. "Food?" Her head whipped to each of us, and I knew she must have been starving by now.

"Food." I kissed her hair.


Hot dogs, sodas, and Bella's knish—it was my treat.

I'm classy like that.

We walked while we ate, going in the opposite direction of the garage. In fact, Charlie and I had started talking, comparing police work—the differences between Forks and Manhattan—and then we settled down on a bench. Bella continued to beam at me, never contributing to our conversation, just content to sip her Diet Coke. That was when I'd realized how far we'd traveled.

We were right outside the southern end of Central Park. And we couldn't get too comfortable. Not if I was going to take them to Bella's, rush home to grab my stuff, and make it in to work on time.

But when Charlie mentioned some shit, my eyes went wide. "Bears?" I all but shouted.

He cackled, wiping his mouth with a napkin. "Yup. Cougars, too."

I didn't know what to say.

There I was, thinking myself badass for being an NYPD officer, chasing and putting away drug dealers and an array of criminals—and he's gotta deal with mountain lions and fucking bears?

Oh, my!

"Wow," I laughed.

"Fish and Game, the parks commission—they do a fantastic job, but wildlife has a tendency to travel, sometimes into the towns," he sighed, sitting back.

I did the same, taking Bella's hand in mine, as I stared up to the gray, dismal sky.

It was gonna start raining soon.

Thankfully, we did more walking than talking on our way back to Emmett's truck. The parking fee I'd been dreading only came out to around thirty bucks, which wasn't too bad. There was much more traffic now than earlier. But while I worried about being late for work, I hoped for the best.

When I pulled up to Bella's curb, the both of us paused, this awkward tension filling the cab. We were both waiting for Charlie to leave the truck. Well, I don't know about Bella, but I wanted a kiss…

"Thanks for the dog." Charlie patted my back. "I look forward to meeting your family." He left the vehicle.

"My family?" I whispered.

Bella, who'd previously puckered her lips for a kiss, opened her eyes. "I thought it'd be nice. Alice and I can cook, and everyone can come over—"

"No." I stared behind her to Charlie. He waited on the sidewalk for his daughter.

Bella's face had fallen. "He just—"

I shook my head. "What's he gonna think when…" I didn't feel the need to explain. "We'll take him to dinner on my day off. Some swanky joint. You plan—I'll use my savings." I thought that was a decent compromise.

Bella stared at the dashboard hard, like she was about to punch it.

"Bella…?" I reached for her chin.

She jerked her head away from me. "Don't you realize that you're the only person who sees your parents the way you do? They're not horrible. They're very nice people, welcoming and warm. Maybe your father wasn't good to you in the past, but that's in the past. You need to…at least try to move past it. You'd be so much happier if you did. Holding this grudge can't erase what's happened."

"Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it," I sighed, and I knew she was upset with me. I've gotten used to her chastising me when it came to my parents—how I treat them.

"You're not your father."

I chuckled. "That's not what I meant." I leaned closer to kiss her cheek, not wanting to admit the truth. It's easy to forgive and start over. In the past, it's happened quite a few times, and it always hurts even more—getting let down again. The last time, I swore it'd be the last, and that I'd break this pattern.

She still wouldn't look at me. "I think I should go now. You're making me upset." Bella tapped her thigh, staring straight out of the windshield.

"Can I have a kiss?" I asked.

"No," she said, leaving the car. "I'm mad at you." Bella shut the door, but she didn't sound angry. If anything, her tone suggested she was just bored with me, or our conversation.

Huh…

Confused, I sat there and watched her meet up with Charlie. She'd walked past him to get into her building, and he smiled, waving goodbye.


An hour later, I was on my way to the station house with another unhappy couple. Living with Hale and McCarty, it was an argument I'd heard before. When Emmett was told he needed to attend sensitivity classes, his woman signed off on it—being our superior now and all. With the department being shorthanded, McCarty has been able to wiggle his way out of each and every session these past few weeks.

And since he keeps going over his woman's head to Vasquez, our CO, Hale can't do anything about it.

She doesn't care whether Emmett goes to the sessions or not.

It's principle, has to do with respect . . .

Basically, McCarty is having trouble with his pregnant fiancée being our sergeant.

Their impasse led to another chilly departure when Hale stormed from his truck.

"Fuck!" Emmett slammed his hands down on the steering wheel.

I had nothing to say, my mind going back to Bella. "I'll see you inside."

We'd just made it with a few minutes to spare, and I didn't waste any more time, changing into my uniform rapidly.

Whitlock must have enjoyed his day alone with Alice. Bella had mentioned his being there this morning, showing up right before Bella and her father left for my apartment.

His singing annoyed me, and then I remembered we were set to be partners again.

"Christ…" I closed my locker, fastening my belt.

"'Sup?" Black was dressed and ready for the tour, sipping on something with whipped cream. He looked a lot better than he did last night—drunk off his frilly-drinking ass.

Once again, I didn't comment, quickly leaving the locker room after Jasper.

Having heard Black slurping from his straw, I knew he was behind me, and I wondered if anyone told him about the change.

The roll call room was full, but there were plenty of seats for the rest of us trailing in, and I was surprised Vasquez wasn't at his podium already.

Others noticed it, too. There were hushed inquiries between officers, and most of us quieted down when Rosalie entered the room, yet there were a few who carried on like she hadn't.

Hale waited a few moments, silently standing behind the podium with papers in her hands. From this angle, I could see that she was starting to show—her abdomen protruding, albeit slightly. "Whenever you're ready…gentlemen."

McCarty and Hancock stifled their chuckles and sat up in their seats.

"Thank you." Rosalie cleared her throat. "First off, Captain Vasquez won't be gracing us with his presence today. If you need a CO, Lieutenant Michaelson and myself are here." She blew out a large breath, her skin pale yet green.

"Babe, you all right?" McCarty asked.

I smiled but tried not to, and the room erupted into a fit of chuckles.

"Hey!" our lieutenant hollered from the back, and everyone grew quiet. "Keep your mouths shut." He walked to the front to stand near a crestfallen Hale.

Michaelson carried on, giving report without the assistance of an actual report—a paper in front of him. That's only because he'd been here for second watch as well. Rosalie stood off to his side, and she'd just been nervous. It wasn't a pregnancy thing. Having lived with her a little while now, I know that when she's gotta puke 'cause the baby's gotta vomit or something, it just comes out.

"The mayor just informed us that we'll be on high alert until further notice," Michaelson said. "If you'd like to pick up overtime, working the checkpoints, please see me." He looked over to Hale, and she gestured he continue. "Since…deaths seems to come in threes, there are three funerals coming up." He rolled his eyes for our departed retired officers. "I know we're all busy—we have lives outside the precinct, our beats, and we're all tired—but let's show up in force. I expect you all—each of you to attend…at least one."

No one made any comments.

"Late last night, when some of you were snug in your beds, or partying at McCarty's—"

Emmett lifted his arms in victory. "It was a good one, yeah?"

Michaelson, who'd been in attendance if I remember correctly, smiled. "We got the identity of the escapee of that Laundromat shooting yesterday." I'd heard that was kick-ass, but it wasn't on my beat.

I'd been investigating that suspicious smell…

I shook my head of the thought, taking a copy of a mug shot from Hale. "Thanks," I muttered.

"His name is Raphael Conner, nickname Slick—Slick's what he goes by on the street. His drug of choice is PCP . . ." Rosalie spoke up, and our lou let her continue. "Now, there've been two consecutive armed robberies in that sector in the last thirty-six hours. It could be him. It could be a spree." She was in front of the room again, this time more confident. "Consider him armed…and dangerous."

"That's how we like 'em!" some asshole shouted; I didn't even bother to look behind me.

"Dude was crazy." Johnson shook his head; the robberies had been on his beat. "PCP—that's what he was on?" He looked around the room. "Listen, anyone hears anything about this Conner jerk, let me know, call it in. I lost him, I'd like to help bring him in...BOLO-" he shouted, making others laugh "-for that motherfucker!"

"Yes." Hale snickered. "You see something? You call it in." She stared at her fiancé when she said that, but then she smiled. "No heroes today, all right? We bury enough heroes . . ." The room fell silent again. "That's it. Eyes and ears open out there."

I nodded, taking a deep breath as I got to my feet.

"McCarty, Black, Whitlock, and Cullen!" Hale made us stay behind.

I raised a brow in question, wary, wondering who I'd be paired with now. I was also wondering why it was only our small group that continued to change partners.

Hale was still behind the podium. "Counselor Paul over at 1PP says he'll see you today." She handed another paper to McCarty. "A private session. Just the two of you." She winked.

Emmett gritted his teeth together, obviously dismayed. "We'll see—"

"Lou agrees with me," she spoke of our lieutenant.

"With Vasquez out—"

"Morris is out, too." Rosalie cut him off. "As the most experienced officer in the sector, I need you on foot patrol," she told Whitlock, quickly looking over to me. "You two are 78-Alpha today."

I nodded, content with that, although I felt badly for Jasper.

It'd been drizzling and hot as fuck when we got here.

With that settled, I was quick to leave the room and check out a radio. There'd been no assignments at the desk, so Black and I left—getting into our RMP to start the tour.

We were quiet during our first and second patrols around the neighborhood. Then, just for the sake of it, I parked across the street from Bella's. Technically, I wasn't doing anything wrong.

Our position was perfect, within our section—right in the middle of it, actually.

"How are you?" Black's tone was grave, his expression grim. "Yesterday…and drinking—waking up this morning, I still haven't forgotten about it."

I nodded. "It takes a little while. We see some horrible shit, but…we can't take the job home with us. Understand? You gotta try to leave all that at the house—on the streets." Firsthand, I know that's easier said than done. "Otherwise, it'll fuck you up." I tapped my temple.

Black was taken aback, judging by his wide eyes. "Thank you…That's, like, the most I've heard you speak."

I didn't reply.

"No, seriously," he said, pausing for a moment. "Can I ask you something?"

I nodded, turning up the A/C.

"That was your pops yesterday, right? The two drunks—I-I mean, um."

"The two drunks by the lounge." I jerked a thumb down the block toward Twilight. "No, just someone I knew…from another life." His words hadn't fazed me, not at all.

With everything, just life in general, weighing on my shoulders, my eyes continued to scan the avenue, and occasionally I'd look down to the paper in my hand. Essentially, for the first hour and a half of our shift, I watched people while Jacob ran his mouth. For all the talking he was doing, it sounded like he needed that counselor—therapy person—more than Emmett.

Luckily, we were pinged with a domestic disturbance a couple of blocks away.

An elderly woman let us into the building, and she'd been expecting us, was the person to call it in. "They've been fighting all day, and then I heard roughhousing…"

"We got it from here," Black told her, and he had a deeper tone to his voice.

Finding that comical, I ran up the three-story walk-up to the top floor. A woman shouting could be heard outside the door, and I knocked. "Police—open up!" I doubted they'd heard me as they also had music playing.

"I've never been on one of these," Black admitted.

I banged on the door again. "We go in, assess, and we separate them—you take the woman, I'll talk to the dude, and keep your gun shielded." I kicked the door. "NYPD—open the door!"

Before I'd finished speaking, a blonde opened the door. "What—" She immediately stepped back, and I saw she was in her underwear.

"Can we come in?" I asked, and there was another female ranting in the background.

The blonde held her forehead. "My partner…she just—" She turned toward the shouting, and I saw the shiner in the light, the scratches on her arms, and her wild hair.

"Are you injured?" I asked, jerking my head to indicate Black talk to the other one.

"No, sir—officer." She waved a hand. "Everything's under control. This is my fault."

I saw a towel draped over a chair and gave it to her. "There are safe houses, right here in the city, places you can go—" My eyes scanned the apartment, what I could see.

She laughed, pulling the towel around her body. At that same moment, the screaming had ceased in the other room. "See…? Everything's fine."

I pointed to her eye. "Did your partner do that?"

"No…sometimes I get drunk, cheat on my girlfriend, and bump into doors." She snorted. "I'm sure there's someone robbing a liquor store or getting shot somewhere."

I didn't find humor in what she said. "Can I have your name?"

"Amanda." She cleared her throat.

I raised a brow.

"Pearlman. Amanda Pearlman." She looked behind herself. "My partner's name is Connie, Constance Epson."

I wrote their names and address down in my notepad. But then I looked up when Black strolled into the room—Constance following after him. "Everything's fine," he said. "They just got into an argument." He was smiling.

My brow furrowed. "Is there someplace you can go?" I asked Ms. Pearlman. "Just…for the night. You guys could use time to cool-off?"

"We're fine," Connie told me, and she was obviously the aggressor, judging by her hostile tone.

"She's right. We're wasting our time here," Black whispered.

Ms. Pearlman was looking a little sheepish, wincing when her girlfriend placed an arm over her shoulders.

"Just keep it down—don't disturb the neighbors." Black continued.

"Ma'am, can you go put some clothes on?" I was talking to Ms. Pearlman. "We'll take you wherever you want to go—"

"I don't think that's necessary!" Her girlfriend wasn't a fan of that idea.

I chuckled, finding it comical, and of all the things to actually set me off today…with the week I'd just had. "She's got the start of what looks like a black eye. And she'd obviously be safer away from you. Had you been a man, you'd probably be in cuffs—equal rights, my balls." I scoffed, and I knew she'd likely call the precinct with my badge number to complain, but my words were true.

If she was a he, she'd be in the back of our squad car, on her way to the precinct.

I was being nice, trying to treat the situation with sensitivity and shit.

"How dare you!" Constance poked my chest.

"Up against the wall!" I countered. "Hands behind your back—"

"You're serious?" Black asked.

Yes, I was serious.

Ms. Epson hadn't assaulted me, but she touched me, and I guess she thought…Well, I didn't know, nor did I care what she thought. I knew her girlfriend wouldn't press charges. At most, she'd get a scare and be let go within the hour. Also, before I'd left, I'd told Ms. Pearlman to go stay with a friend for the night, and I said I'd be by later to make sure she'd left.

I received a kudos, a pat on the back from Hale—for treating the situation as if it'd been a more conventional couple, meaning male and female.

Afterward, we'd resumed patrol.

We answered the calls dispatch gave us—and none resulted in an actual arrest, which made the evening boring, and then we took our break. Black and I got some sandwiches from the Jewish deli near Bella, and that made it easy for me to sneak away.

Wondering if she was still mad at me, I rang the bell.

"Who is it?" It was Charlie.

"Edward."

He buzzed me in, and I walked up to Bella's apartment. Alice was there to let me in, but I didn't see my girl. "Where is she?"

Alice pointed to the bathroom. "Shower."

"Oh…" That was disappointing.

Because Charlie was here, and under any other circumstance, I'd jimmy the lock and poke my head in to say hello—steal a kiss, maybe grab a boob.

Suddenly, I had this epiphany.

That I'd be doing a lot of overtime during Charlie's visit.

I can't even remember what I did in my spare time prior to meeting Bella.

"You'll tell her I stopped by?" I asked Alice.

She smiled up to me, nodding. "Of course."

"A gas mask…?" Charlie had been checking out my belt and all my gadgets.

"Yup," I sighed. "Take care." Knowing Bella takes her time in the shower, I bid them farewell. "Oh…there's an armed robber in the neighborhood. Try not to venture into any stores—he's on crack." I'd forgotten his drug of choice, and I wanted to sound like I was more important than I was.

"PCP—Angel Dust. It was on the news," Charlie informed me.

"Right." I nodded, feeling about as tall as Alice. "Goodnight."

When he closed the door behind me, I wanted to bash my head into a wall.

Our tour continued to drag that night. I never called my mother back, knowing she'd just wanted to bitch me out.

And by the time I got back to the precinct . . .

Everyone had jokes about how I'd been beat up by a lesbian.


B.O.L.O - Be on the look-out

Thank you for reading.

Please leave me your thoughts.

Again, I'm very sorry for the long wait.