A Fallen Hero
Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays everyone! As I am wrapping up the newest chapter for Dear Bella Swan You're Playing with the Big Boys, I wanted to give you all a little something to tide you over. This was originally written for the 3rd Annual Fandom Charity Event for Fandom For Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (Fandom4LLS). Permission was granted to post piece after December 1st, 2013.
Summary:Chief Swan was recently killed in the line of duty. In the wake of his death, Bella relies on the strength of those around her to get her through, namely her boyfriend Edward, and her brother Emmett.
Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight. All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of Stephenie Meyer. The original characters and plot are property of me, Dobber17. I am in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Edited by Carinelautner and SecretlySeverus
My simple black dress flared as the ends of my dark hair were teased by the wind. I welcomed the cold air. It provided a slight distraction from the searing pain in my chest. The smell of flowers and freshly dug earth filled the air. People clad in black surrounded me—some I knew and some I didn't. I barely heard the priest's words. It wasn't that I didn't want to listen—my mind and body were too numb to register what he said.
A strong arm wrapped around my shoulders, pulling me into a warm body. I glanced up, my eyes leaving their spot on the overgrown grassy ground–I couldn't bear looking at the casket. My agonized brown eyes reached my brother's face. Emmett's face matched my own, except his eyes shone with unshed tears while my eyes and cheeks glimmered with silent tears cascading down my face like a never-ending waterfall.
"They're about to lower the casket. It's time to say goodbye." Emmett's voice wasn't its usual loud and energetic tone; it was soft and careful. He was holding it together better than I was. Just barely. He was forever known in this town as the all-star football player and homecoming king. He was also the boy who just lost his father.
That's when it hit me. This was my last goodbye to my father. I walked on shaky legs to the casket that held my peacefully resting father. Images of him lying still in the casket still haunted my mind. The gunshot wound in his head poorly disguised. I sunk down on my knees, tucking my legs under me.
"Hey, Daddy," I whispered. I could hardly recognize my voice as my own. "I noticed how beautiful the sky was the other day, and then I realized it's because you're up there. I miss you so much." The lump in my throat grew. "I promise I'll keep Emmett in line for you." My hands ghosted over the casket. "I love you."
Emmett crouched down beside me. "Hey, Dad. I promise I'll keep an eye out for Bella. My baby sister will be well taken care of. No harassing God for beer." He let out a lone chuckle and cleared his throat. "I miss you, Dad. I love you."
We stayed on the ground as a few other people came to say their goodbyes, only getting up once the priest laid his hands on our shoulders. I leaned forward, pressing my lips to the chilled casket before standing on unsteady legs.
The priest cleared his throat and projected his voice loud enough for the overflowing sea of black to hear. "And now, Chief Charles Michael Swan has joined with other loved ones up in the beautiful place we know as heaven."
I stood in silence as the casket slowly made its descent. I had to tear my eyes away, unable to look anymore. My gaze fell on my grandparents. My grandpa held my grandma in a fierce grip as she bawled. I couldn't imagine how hard it had to be, watching your child be buried.
A strong hand slipped in mine, giving me support. Even without being able to see from the blurriness of my tears I knew it was Edward. He had respectfully stepped back earlier when Emmett came to walk me to the casket. Now he held me tight, in a way I knew he was promising to never let me go. I looked over to see Emmett wrapped in Rosalie's embrace, his strong façade broken as he wept. Rose, his fiancé and childhood sweetheart, promised things would eventually get better, gave him encouragement to stay strong and most importantly, knew the agony he was going through. She had lost both her parents in a car accident at a young age.
The next thing I knew, we pulled into our driveway. I couldn't remember leaving the cemetery. Pain clawed at me through my chipped amour of numbness. People trickled into the house, telling us how sorry they were.
I was suffocating.
I weaved undetected through the throng of black, making my way up the stairs. I walked down the hall and stopped in front of my room, my hand resting on the knob. Before I could stop myself I turned and went into my dad's room. It looked the same as it always did. Simple beige sheets dressed the unmade bed, a dirty pile of clothes had accumulated in a corner—their clean counterparts piled lazily on an oak dresser—while a handful of coins laid on his nightstand next to a dog-eared book. The hanger he always put his uniform on still hung on a hook in front of his closet.
I silently made my way across the room to his dresser, retrieving one of his old flannel shirts. I pulled it onto my shoulders before letting myself curl up in the middle of his bed. Tears sprung to my eyes as I inhaled the familiar scent of my dad. I heard the door creak open but I didn't open my eyes. I felt the bed dip with his weight as he crawled on the bed next to me. Strong arms enveloped me, and Edward's fingers threaded through mine. Even with my dad's shirt on, I didn't know how cold I was until Edward's warmth surrounded me. He had taken off his suit jacket and had the sleeves of his black dress shirt rolled to his elbows.
"What can I do, love? Please just tell me what I can do," his voice cracked. Edward always had outstanding control over his emotions, holding himself together when he needed to be strong for someone else. The past few days had taken its toll on him. He had been by my side every step of the way as Rose had been by Emmett's. I didn't blame him for allowing his emotions to come out. Lord knew he kept himself together for my sake long enough.
I turned my head to look at him, feeling more pain claw at my exposed heart when I saw the wetness on his cheeks.
"Just hold me." My voice was horse. I hadn't realized that was one of the few times I'd spoken at all the entire day.
He held me tight, soothing me through the moments where I couldn't contain my tears, and comforting me even after I had run out of tears to shed.
Sadness was exhausting. I fought with my eyelids as they flirted with the edge of sleep, my body fighting to take me away from my thoughts and emotions. I made a move to get up, but Edward held me close.
"You don't have to go back down until you're ready, Bella."
I was ready.
At least, I thought I was.
As soon he led me down the stairs, I froze. Dozens upon dozens of eyes flicked to my face, some looking away in sadness and others were unable to look away, trying to will me their sympathy from across the room. I knew everyone crowded in my house held some sort of sadness in their hearts, but nothing could compare to the agony those closest to him felt ripping through their souls. Emmett stood with one of Charlie's fellow police officers next to a table laden with finger foods. Rose remained close, repeatedly running her hand down his back in a gesture I learned to recognize as her way of soothing him. My gaze shifted to my grandparents. My grandmother still sobbed uncontrollably and my grandfather silently sat beside her, letting his cheeks collect the moisture slowly trickling from his eyes.
Knowing I felt overwhelmed, Edward took my hand and led me to the back porch. No one else was outside due to the fact the wind had picked up quickly and the temperature felt as though Jack Frost was personally slapping you across the face. He moved as though he was going to unbutton his coat before realizing he had already removed it. Instead, he rubbed his palms along my goose-pimpled arms. I welcomed the warmth.
I turned back to face the back door, doing my best to take deep, calming breaths.
Edward waited until my breathing returned to normal to speak. "Do you want to go inside?"
I shook head, not ready to face everyone. Not yet.
"Do you want me to get Emmett?"
My response caught in my throat, but Edward knew with one look I needed my brother. Though inside I knew Emmett was fairing the same as I was, I needed him for the strength I could pull from him and for being the anchor he had never once failed to be. As much love and support as Edward could give me, it wasn't the same as a brother's love. In this time of grief and sorrow, I needed Emmett who felt every pain I felt and who felt every same bit of their heart being yanked from their chest.
"I love you, Bella." Edward gave me a lingering kiss on my forehead before getting up. "I'll be right back with Emmett," he promised. The back door squeaked shut behind him and I was left on my own.
The silence was surprisingly welcoming. I sat on the stairs and slipped off my heels, wriggling my toes as they were freed from their confines. I heard the door creak open and high heels click on the concrete. My heart sunk when the smell of cinnamon surrounded me and a perfectly manicured hand gripped my shoulder. I shrugged it off, knowing exactly who it was.
"What do you want, Renee?" I asked, my voice lifeless and flat.
"Isabella Marie Swan! That's no way to speak to your mother."
I scoffed silently. "You don't deserve that title," I told her truthfully.
"I gave birth to you."
I somehow couldn't find it in myself to care that I was irritating her. I didn't have the patience for her. Not today.
"Fine. You might be my mother, but you're not my mom."
"I was married to your father for fifteen years, ten of which you were alive for."
"Yet, you cheated on him for the last six years of that marriage." I shifted how I was sitting so I faced her. "You just don't get it, do you? You don't see the damage you've done. You don't care about what you left in your wake."
Renee's body visibly tensed. "That's not true. I tried to get you to live with me because I would have raised you better than your father."
My anger flared and I sprang to my feet, causing Renee to take a step back. "That's what I'm talking about! You never asked Emmett to live with you, not once. How do you think that made him feel? And how dare you say that about my father. He raised me perfectly." I was yelling now, but I didn't care.
Renee arched a single eyebrow. "He taught you how to overreact and raise your voice; that much is clear. Wonderful parenting on his part."
"Then why are you here?" I shouted. My whole body was shaking and I took a deep breath. "Then why are you here?" I repeated, this time barely above a whisper.
"Bella, it's time to realize your father has made mistakes and—"
I cut her off. "Of course he made mistakes! Every parent has! At least he didn't make the mistake of ruining our family."
An eerie silence filled the air, but I didn't regret what I'd said.
Renee took a slow step forward, lowering her voice. "I'm going to disregard these comments and consider this as grieving over your father's death. Once we fly home I expect you to show me more respect."
Her words stung. Of course I was grieving, but it didn't mean weakness. In fact, my grieving for my father brought out even more fight in me. "Home? I am home! I'm not living with you."
"Yes, you are. That's final."
"You aren't taking me away from Emmett and from everyone I love."
"You're my daughter," Renee exclaimed, exasperated. She even tossed her hands in the air for good measure.
"I'm eighteen. I can do what I want."
Renee opened and closed her mouth a few times. She knew I was right and couldn't think of a way to prove me wrong.
I shook my head and tried to ignore the pricking feeling in the corner of my eyes.
"Please just go back inside."
She just stood there looking at me with a cold glare in her eyes.
"Please," I begged. "I can't do this right now."
How could she not understand at all? Why did she have to make everything about her and have to get her way in every situation? Her stubbornness was equally astounding and unbearable. This was something that had not changed over the years.
"Then I'll go." I walked past Renee only to have her grab my wrist. I wrenched my hand away. I didn't go back inside. I walked by the side of the house to the front yard. I heard Renee calling for me but I didn't turn around. I ran. I welcomed the pain of concrete and rocks digging harshly into my bare feet. It distracted me from other pain I didn't want to feel anymore. I ran until I couldn't run. I ran until I had blisters and the skin on my feet was raw. I ran until I had no breath left and my head hurt from the lack of oxygen.
My feet met grass. I paused and looked down. My toes appeared black, covered with grime and dirt. My tears made everything fuzzy and blend together but I was able to tell I was at the park. I staggered forward and collapsed on a nearby bench. My legs instinctively curled up to my chest and I wound my arms around my body, trying to hold myself together.
Memories bombarded my mind.
Dad laughing as he pushed me on the swings when I was little…
Dad giving me piggyback rides where I was the queen of the universe…
My parents' divorce that left my dad looking like a lifeless void and all I ever wanted to do was make it better…
Dad's panic when I got my first period…him being so unprepared he came back from the store with Band-Aids…
Dad teaching me how to drive…
Dad and Emmett's attempt to bake me a cake on my eighteenth birthday – a memory that felt like a lifetime ago.
My body began to rock as I desperately tried to keep myself from falling apart. My eyes felt swollen and my throat burned. I was suffocating. No air, no oxygen; nothing.
The bench creaked as someone joined me and I felt a warm coat slip over my shoulders. The warmth emitting from the coat felt foreign against my weather beaten body. I felt even worse, forgetting that Edward had gone to get Emmett for me. I didn't know how he found me nor did I care. I was just relieved he was here and I was no longer alone.
I let out a strangled breath and gasped for air that wouldn't come. "I can't breathe," I choked out.
"Yes, you can."
I shook my head and Emmett pulled me tightly to his body. "Shh, I've got you." He continued whispering soothing words until I was finally able to inhale and exhale without struggling in between.
"I just want him back," I whispered, hardly audible.
"I know. I want him back too." Emmett's voice barely sounded better than my own.
I knew we could never get him back but at the same time, I knew we would never be alone. I looked up at the sky, knowing he would always watch over us.
Emmett followed my gaze. His voice startled me when he called out into the dark sky. "Dad, I just want you to know that I love you and think the world of you. I'm sorry for all the times I've let you down over the years and I hope to be a better man with every day that comes. I hope to make you proud as you watch over us."
Emmett looked at me and gestured with his eyes to the sky.
"Dad," I choked out. "I really miss you." I hiccuped and tried to control my wild breathing.
Emmett poked me in the ribs. "Pull yourself together, woman."
Despite myself, I laughed, accompanied by a snort. The noise caught in my throat causing Emmett to shoot me a look of mock disgust and telling me to blow my nose in his jacket sleeve.
"There are a hundred tissues in your pocket," I argued.
He chuckled. "And they all have my snot on them. Feel free to use them if you really want to."
I passed, opting to blow my nose into the sleeve of his jacket as lady-like a possible.
"Dad," I tried again, finding my voice was steadier. "Again, I miss you and I love you. You were the greatest dad—scratch that, the greatest parent anyone could hope to have. You will forever be in my heart and I will always be your little girl."
We sat in silence, watching as the stars appeared in the sky. I curled further into Emmett, resting my head on his shoulder and letting my eyes drift close.
"I'm sorry for disobeying you and having sex before marriage," Emmett blurted out.
My eyes opened to find Emmett's ashamed face. "Emmett!"
"I'm sorry, it just popped in my mind. I know he gave you a similar talk but I can guarantee you the one he gave me was ten times worse. He scared me, Bella. Legitimately scared me with that talk."
I felt my eyes widen as my mind clicked. I sat up straight. "Is Rose pregnant?"
His eyes widened. "No. Goodness no. I was just apologizing to him. I've felt ashamed for years. Well, not really, but enough to need to apologize and confess to him now."
I smiled and shook my head at him. His eyes held a spark of his traditional humor. "Do you need to confess anything, dear sister?" Though his tone was joking, a quick look at his face told me that behind his jokester attitude, protective big brother was about to come out and play.
"Oh, no! I haven't let Edward know where I am. He's going to be worried." I avoided the question with a truthful worry.
Emmett shut his eyes, lacing his hands behind his head. "He knows. I got caught up talking with Jimmy and when we finally made it outside, Renee was the only one out there." He cracked open an eye. "We both figured you made a run for it. As soon as we found you, he headed back to the house."
I looked behind me, even though I knew Edward was long gone.
"He's a good kid, you know," Emmett said casually.
I snorted. "You're five years older than him, Em. He hardly counts as a kid."
He dismissed my comment with a wave of his hand.
I rolled my eyes and we sat in silence once again. It didn't take long for the sharp wind to find my exposed skin. Coldness painfully nipped my fingers and toes.
He hummed out loud but didn't open his eyes.
"It's really cold out."
He shot to his feet and threw his hands in the air. "Hallelujah, she gets her senses back."
I rolled my eyes as Emmett pulled me to my feet. He shot me a look. "Seriously, Bella. My nipples could cut glass right now."
I opened my mouth to scold him, stopping when I realized Dad would have laughed at the joke. Not outright and boisterous. He would have lifted the newspaper higher to cover his face and chuckled around the edge of his coffee mug.
The pain and torment of the last few days had not left me, but I was able to handle it better with my brother at my side.
We trekked back to the house, taking the softest path for my bare feet. Standing a foot taller than myself, Emmett wrapped his arms lazily around my shoulders as he always did. Though it had always been used as an insult to my height, I welcomed the gesture tonight. We looked up at the sky at the same time, sharing a smile as we knew our loving father, our fallen hero, would always be watching over us.