Author's note: So, here is my first dip into the world of Twilight fanfiction. I've been reading loads of Bellisle fanfics recently and decided to try writing one of my own. Goodness knows how it'll turn out! With Twilight being set in America and me being a Brit, I may slip up with the slang or spellings of certain words, so please bear with me. I've had to use some imagination in regards to location, especially of what is in or around Forks, because I know very little about the place. If anyone wants to help on that score, please feel free as I could definitely do with the help! This chapter has been proof read by me as, at present, I am lacking a beta. If anyone has the time and patience to be one, please let me know and I will be extremely grateful. Now, without further ado, here is the story. Enjoy
Not What It Seems
Oh, Forks, how I have missed thee.
I tried not to lament too hard the absence of sunlight as I traversed the winding road towards my birthplace. After all, whilst lacking the glowing warmth of Phoenix, the damp weather gave the scenery a lush verdancy rarely seen outside of postcards. Raindrops trickled down the windscreen and windows, each one bringing with it a distant memory of the small town.
I was five when my mom decided to leave Forks and head to a place of "opportunity" as she'd called it, thus beginning my life in Phoenix. I had returned every major school holiday to see my dad, but as soon as I went to college my visits had become more sporadic, with the last being a couple of years ago. Everything had been going so well up until then. I was working and studying hard, getting good grades and had a promising potential career ahead of me, but had managed to fuck it up completely in less than twelve months. Moving back to Forks had been Mom's idea, as she thought the sleepy pace of a small town would have a "calming" effect on me and, if I was a good girl, I may be able to return to finish my degree.
But, enough about that.
My fingers drummed against the steering wheel as I hummed quietly to myself. The radio in my car had long since broken and, to be honest, I rarely missed it. There was an encyclopaedic knowledge of music in my head and a long drive was the perfect opportunity to exhaust it. The ditty of choice at that particular moment was, oddly enough, What a Wonderful World. The lyrics held no particular relevance to the moment, but, for some reason, the tune was stuck in my head.
I wasn't far from my destination and, if I squinted hard enough, could probably see the start of the driveway that led up to Charlie's house-my house, I should say. As I slowed, I saw a few figures standing on the porch, smiles spreading across their faces as they saw who was sat in the driving seat of the approaching vehicle. Every time I came back to Forks, I had changed in some way or other both physically and mentally, yet the house was exactly as it had been fifteen years ago. It had never really bothered me until I hit my teens and noticed that the rooms were never redecorated, or the old family pictures had never been replaced. As much as I liked the picture on the mantelpiece of my parents together during their honeymoon, sometimes I worried if maybe he was having a hard time moving on. However, he never talked about it and I never thought to pry.
I parked next to the police cruiser, owned by my dad. When I was born, Charlie was just a regular officer, but time and dedication had paid off when he finally achieved the rank of Chief. The promotion hadn't been without sacrifice though, as mine and my mother's departure not long after my fifth birthday had proven.
Charlie wore a small smile-which, for him was positively jubilant-as I exited the car, managing to smack my head on the doorframe as I retrieved my rucksack.
"Good to see you're still the same old Bells," Charlie teased as he walked over to me.
I rubbed the sore spot on the back of my head as he approached, before launching myself at him in a tight hug. I could feel his awkwardness and smiled inwardly at my revenge. Public displays of affection were not his forte. To some it could seem that my dad was cold or even uncaring, but those close to him knew better. He just wasn't the touchy-feely, openly affectionate type. I had inherited a milder form of his reserve, but there was also enough of my mom's affability in my genes to ensure I wasn't socially retarded. With a last squeeze, I ended the embrace and stepped back, glancing over at the two remaining members of the welcoming party. A middle aged man with skin the colour of warm cocoa sat in a wheelchair and I couldn't keep the smile off my face. Billy Black had barely changed since my last visit, save for more streaks of grey scattered amongst the long dark locks hanging over his shoulders. His wizened face broke into a grin as he was wheeled forward by a younger man. The third person seemed vaguely familiar, but I couldn't attach a name to the face. The familial resemblance to the disabled man was obvious as they shared the same rich, copper skin and jet black hair, although the younger man's mane was cropped short.
"Hey, Billy," I greeted as I stepped towards him.
"It's been far too long, Bella," Billy said as I shook his extended hand. Then, as though reading my thoughts, he motioned to the person behind him. "Jacob's changed a bit since you last saw him, hasn't he?"
My jaw hung open in disbelief. Jacob? What the Hell had happened to him? The last time I saw Jacob, he was a gangly kid with hippie hair, clad in baggy clothes and spent most of his time tinkering with whatever latest Frankenstein vehicle he had managed to put together. Now, he was...well, buff was the only way to describe it. His cheekbones had managed to cut their way through the baby fat and his jaw was sharp enough to shred paper. He towered over the three of us, easily reaching six and a half feet.
"W-wow, Jake," I said, still reeling from the surprise. "I barely recognised you!"
Jacob's face broke into a wide smile and it was then that I saw the friend I remembered. My last trip down here had been brief and I hadn't managed to see any of the Blacks, so it had to be at least five years since we last saw each other. Puberty may have taken a while to hit, but when it had finally struck, it'd done so with a vengeance. And he was wearing nothing more than jeans and a t shirt! Was he crazy? Even with a thick jumper underneath my coat, I was feeling the cold.
"Just couldn't keep away from me, could ya?" he joked.
"If I knew you'd turned into He-Man, I'd have come back sooner!"
"He-Man?" Jacob exclaimed in mock offence. "That guy's got nothing on me."
"Hey, control the 'roid rage," I parried, hands held up in truce.
"Alright, you two," said Charlie as he rolled his eyes. "Save the verbal sparring for a drier day."
"Unfortunately, we can't stay, Bella," Billy explained. "We just wanted to be here to welcome you back, but you'll have to come by the reservation soon. It's been a while since our last get together and I know everyone would like to see you again."
"Definitely," I agreed.
"C'mon, Jake," Billy commanded his son. "Let's give the girl some space to settle in."
"Yes, Boss," quipped Jacob, winking at me before he began pushing his dad over to the truck parked the other side of the cruiser.
I waved as they drove off, before turning to face my dad. He was looking at me, but I couldn't read the expression on his face. That was nothing new, but this time his features were especially inscrutable. Before I could query it, he walked over to the trunk of my car and opened it.
"You must be tired after the journey," he said as he hoisted a couple of duffel bags over his shoulder. "Did you drive all the way?"
"Yeah, but it wasn't too bad," I replied with a shrug of my shoulders, before attending to more pressing matters. "What's for dinner?"
"Pizza, if you'd like," he answered as he passed me towards the house. "Or Chinese."
"What, no three course banquet prepared for your darling child's return?"
Charlie stopped at the front door and raised an eyebrow at me. "You do know where you're living now, right?"
He chose not to respond, save for a shake of the head and some chuckled murmurings.
As I entered the house, a smell entered my nostrils that, if bottled, could be labelled "Au De Nostalgia". It was hard to describe, but I always associated it with my dad's house. It was a sort of woody, earthy smell, mixed with tobacco and whatever aftershave Charlie had religiously stuck to his entire adult life. Occasionally I'd get a whiff of a similar scent back home and it always brought my thoughts straight back here. I chastised myself for referring to Phoenix as home. Forks was my home now, at least for the time being. I had to remember that.
I followed Charlie up the stairs to my old bedroom and he dropped the bags on my bed. My eyes slowly examined the rectangular room as I placed by rucksack beside the duffel bags. So much had changed since I last slept in here; it was hard to believe it was only just over two years ago. Upon completion of a full three hundred and sixty degree scan, I saw Charlie stood in the doorway, lingering. He looked awkward, as though he wanted to say something. I wasn't sure just how much Mom had told him and braced myself, wondering how he'd go about it. If he had considered broaching the subject, his next sentence proved he'd clearly thought better of it.
"I'll let you get reacquainted with your room," he said, before asking, "Chinese or pizza?"
"Um, pizza," I decided.
He nodded before closing the door behind him. I stared at the wooden door, off-white paint chipped with wear and tear, before letting out a sigh and plonking myself down on the bed. Well, that could've gone a lot worse, I reasoned, trying to ignore the teeny little part of my brain that actually longed to talk to him. I knew we'd have to discuss my reason for coming here eventually, but the majority of my brain wasn't feeling up to it quite yet. Before I could drag myself down into thoughts of despair, I unzipped the bag nearest me and began unpacking.
I bit down on my second slice of pizza, trying to desperately catch up with the impossibly long string of cheese threatening to drip onto my jeans. I was laid out on the sofa and Charlie reclined in the armchair next to me as the highlights of some kind of sporting event played out on the news. I wasn't a sports fan, unlike my father, but I didn't mind watching it for the moment as it allowed my brain to switch off for a while. As the commercials came on, Charlie sat up straight and placed his beer on the floor, before hitting the mute button on the remote and turning towards me, his forearms resting on his knees. Mouth full of half-chewed pizza, my eyes slowly swivelled to meet his warily, wondering what was to come. Was it time for the dreaded discussion already? Way to spring it on me, Dad.
"Bells," he began hesitantly. I could tell he was uncomfortable because his right knee bobbed up and down as his fingers interlaced, separated and interlaced again. "Before I begin, I want you to know that I am happy to have you back here."
I nodded carefully as I swallowed my food, averting my gaze. Just how bad was this going to be?
"And," he continued. "Obviously, your mom's already explained why you've decided to move here-for a while, at least."
So, she told him it was my idea? I wondered what else she had lied about.
"Now, I don't expect you to talk about it," he assured me. (Of course he didn't, that would require having a serious discussion and Charlie wasn't good at those.) "But...if you ever...y'know...want to talk...you can, y'know. I might not be able to offer much advice...but...I can at least...listen?"
I stared at the television, watching the actors' mouths open and close without any sound, like goldfish in a bowl. God, Charlie was bad at this! I almost wanted to laugh at how bad he was at it. He was clearly hoping not to have to talk about it, and who was I to disappoint him? My expulsion from college wasn't exactly something I wanted to go into great detail about, either. Well, not really anyway.
"However," he added, his voice adopting a more assertive tone. "I don't want you pulling any of your reckless stunts over here, understand? I promised your mom that she could trust me to curb your destructive behaviour and I won't have you nearly killing yourself, alright?"
I nodded once again. Authoritative Chief mode came much more naturally to him than Comforting Dad and it was easy to see. He needn't worry himself, though as I had no intention of ever repeating the stupid shit I got up to back ho-I mean-in Phoenix.
"Don't worry, Dad," I said quietly. "I'll be fine. A few weeks in Forks and I'll be so docile, they'll have to inject me hourly with adrenaline just to keep me conscious."
"Very funny," he retorted, grabbing the remote and turning the TV volume back up. Short, sweet and to the point. That was Charlie's way and I loved him for it. "So, you got any plans while you're here?"
"I dunno," I replied. It wasn't something I'd really thought about. For a start, I didn't even know how long I'd be here for. "I guess I should find a job or something. You know, help out around the house somehow. I doubt even your big shot wage could afford to keep both of us."
Charlie shrugged, before taking a swig of beer. "Whenever you're ready, there's no rush."
"Any going at the station?" I asked, jokingly.
"Only in the cells."
"At least I have experience."
My comment earned me a reproving look, before we continued to spend the remainder of our father and daughter evening in companionable silence.
Just how in the name of Heaven and Hell did he manage to survive? Did Charlie ever eat anything that didn't come in a polystyrene box? I'd woken that morning to find nothing but milk and coffee for breakfast. My visit wasn't exactly a surprise one, so why hadn't he bought any groceries? His apology had come in the form of a quick note and a few bills to "grab something" until he managed to do some shopping. I took the cash, but decided to use it more wisely than he intended.
As I reversed out of the driveway, I had to take a moment to remember exactly how to get to the local supermarket. Once there I noted that, like everything else in Forks, the supermarket was exactly as it had always been. All the same staff worked there, which was such a contrast to Phoenix, where you could go into a store one week and return the next to find a completely different workforce had replaced them. I guess in a small town you have to take what you can get and keep it. I figured I would probably look further afield for work, as there wasn't exactly an abundance of "staff wanted" signs hanging in the windows I passed.
Adding the money Dad had left on the kitchen table for me that morning to the remaining cash I had left in my purse, I ended up with a grand total of seventy dollars. That should be more than enough to get a week's supply of food in for the two of us, so I started my rounds of the aisles. The store wasn't very big, so my shopping trip was concluded rather quickly and I had just finished loading the last of the bags into my trunk when my right coat pocket started to vibrate. I fished out my phone to see a number I didn't recognise illuminated on the screen. As I sat myself down in the driving seat, I hesitantly pressed the answer button and held the receiver up to my ear, hoping this wouldn't be another bad call. I'd had quite a few of those in the last couple of months.
"Isabella Swan?" asked a male voice.
"Yes?" I answered, warily.
"This is Officer Burt."
My mind reeled. Why was an officer calling me? What had I done? Who was in trouble? Was Mom okay? Was my car taxed properly? Surely I'd fixed that tail light...
"I'm calling about your dad," Burt continued. "There's been an accident and he's been taken to the hospital."
"Oh my God!" I cried. "Is he okay?"
"As far as I know, it's nothing serious. There was a crash involving three cars just outside the station and he asked me to let you know where he was. He also said not to panic, but he would be home a little late this evening."
I felt a little numb as I registered the officer's words. I must have been silent for a while, as Burt's voice echoed out of the speaker, calling my name.
"S-sorry," I said, trying to regain my composure. "Um, thanks for calling. I think I'll go to the hospital and see him."
"He said you should just wait at home for him, that there's no need to worry."
"You work with my dad, right?"
"Then you'll know that, even if his head was dangling off his shoulders, he'd still say there was no reason to worry."
Burt replied with a chuckle before saying, "That's true. Alright, well there's honestly nothing to worry about, he's fine, but if you really need to go see him, he'll probably be in the A and E department, bitching about how easy it is to pass a driving test these days."
I laughed nervously. How true was that? Officer Burt signed off and I returned the phone to my coat pocket. For a few minutes, I did nothing more than sit and stare out the windscreen, both hands clutching the steering wheel. A pang of guilt hit me in the heart when I realised I hadn't even considered anything happening to Charlie when the officer spoke. Was that bad? Maybe it was because I had never lived with him before and my brain wasn't trained to consider him as part of my everyday life. Or maybe I just took it for granted that the Chief of Police wouldn't ever get into trouble. Or maybe it was because I was used to everyone else having to rush to hospital because of me. I was rather accident, prone, after all. I'd got better as my childhood and teens were pushed further and further behind me, but I hadn't been completely absolved of clumsiness just yet. The bruise on my ass where I slipped this morning as I left the house was proof enough of that. With a deep breath, I turned the ignition key and readied myself to see just how "not serious" my dad's condition really was.
As I entered the hospital car park, I saw the police cruiser there, with a huge dent in the passenger side. I winced in pity as I thought of the poor soul that had been sat there. Selfish as it may be, I hoped my dad had been the driver.
A sense of urgency permeated the halls of the hospital as I entered. I had to wind my way through a myriad of people all rushing from place to place, until I reached the reception desk. I opened my mouth to speak, but, before I could, the nurse held a finger up to me, signalling for me to wait. The rudeness irritated me a little, but I tried to be objective. I knew nurses' lives weren't easy and she had a million things to get done. Eventually, she finished her call and looked at me, although there was no improvement in her grouchy demeanour.
"Hi," I began, "I'm looking for Charlie Swan. He was brought in recently from a car crash."
I was given a hasty set of directions and sent on my way. I managed to get lost only a couple of times, before finally walking through a set of double doors and seeing Charlie lying on a bed, talking with a doctor whose back was facing me. Charlie saw me and frowned, but I could tell he wasn't really very angry.
"Dad!" I exclaimed happily, realising Officer Burt's reassurances had been justified. I paced over to the bed and my eyes gave him a quick once over, just to be sure.
"Bella, what are you doing here?" he asked.
"I got a call saying you were in a crash," I explained.
Charlie rolled his eyes. "I told Burt to tell you not to worry," he complained. "I'm fine, just a bit bruised, is all."
"Yeah, well I just wanted to make sure for myself. And, this way, I can drive you home."
"No arguments!" I demanded. "As soon as you're done here, I'm taking you home and cooking some decent food."
"That sounds like a good idea to me," said a clear, silken voice beside me. "This shouldn't take much longer."
I turned and my gaze fell upon the most beautiful person I had ever seen in my entire life. I had to do a double take, not quite believing my eyes at first. Who was this? The doctor currently attending to Charlie was tall, with swept back flaxen hair and skin so pale, it almost matched the colour of his white coat. Luckily, the doctor was busy scribbling notes onto a clipboard so my blatant staring went unnoticed. I planned to avert my gaze as soon as he looked up, but I was ensnared once more as soon as I saw his eyes. They were the most unusually brilliant shade of amber and I felt myself drawn into them, like a diver falling into the sea. As soon as those orbs turned towards Charlie, it felt like a spell had been broken and I blinked several times to regain my equilibrium.
"Well, Chief," the doctor said. "You have slight whiplash and some bruising of your ribs, but there are no signs of concussion or trauma, so I think you'll be just fine. Some painkillers and rest and you'll be back on your feet in no time."
"Thanks, Carlisle," Charlie said, sitting up with a pained intake of breath. I helped to lever him upright, wincing at the pained expression on his face.
The doctor-Carlisle-turned to me next and I had to keep my eyes away from his. I didn't want to embarrass myself by gawping at him again. "You must be Isabella," he said "Your father was just saying you've come back here from Phoenix. I hope the change in pace won't be too drastic for you."
"The quiet'll do her some good," commented Charlie as he got to his feet. I kept a firm hold of his arm, just in case. "But, with her track record, she'll probably end up in here before long."
I glared at him. Thanks, Dad!
The doctor smirked. "I sincerely hope not." Sticking his pen inside the breast pocket of his coat, Carlisle reminded Charlie of the importance of rest and said his goodbyes, before walking away through the doors I had recently entered.
I stared after the doctor, wondering if it was absurd to imagine angel song accompanying him as he walked. Thoughts of the beautiful man were pushed aside as I focused on the task of getting my injured dad home. I knew he had fully intended to go back to the station to sort out the paperwork, hence Burt's warning that Charlie would be home late, but I was having none of it. The doctor prescribed rest and painkillers, as I intended to ensure my dad got an abundance of both.
A/N: Urgh, I hate beginning chapters! At least that's out of the way now. I have no idea what any of Charlie's colleagues are called, so Officer Burt is entirely my own creation. Although it's only just started, please r&r to let me know what you think and I hope to have the next chapter out very soon. Thanks for reading