Truth & Consequences
Recruitment, New Council-Style
Title: Truth & Consequences
Summary: The New Watcher’s Council has an offer for the Cullens, all because they spared one newborn Vampire who happened to be a Slayer. Now in three parts.
Disclaimer: BtVS/AtS is Joss Whedon’s of course. Twilight – Stephenie Meyers.
Note: At the end of Eclipse, there weren’t any wolf injuries. This story just isn’t about the wolves, so I didn’t see the need to keep that in there. Also, Bella and Edward told her father about their impending nuptials.
As always, thank you to MaraLiz and Rorylondra for your lovely beta assistance!
Timeframe: Post-Series BtVS (ignoring much of S8 comic) and set during Eclipse (the movie).
I purposely waited until Alice had Bella thoroughly occupied with wedding details before I made an excuse and left the house. Once we told Charlie about the impending nuptials, he had grudgingly agreed that she would need to stay at our house more often so she and Alice would plan the hasty wedding before we went off to college in the fall. We were no longer planning to go to Dartmouth, but we were waiting to break that news until we received the final paperwork from Bella’s new school to tell him.
Alice winked at me as I was leaving, telling me that she would be playing ‘Bella Barbie’ for at least two more hours, but she was keeping silent about the outcome of my self-assigned errand.
I had already spent the hours that Bella was sleeping agonizing over this decision. Normally, I would stay at Bella’s side while she slept, but instead I paced until Alice finally came up to me just before dawn and told me, “You are driving me crazy, Edward. Make a decision and stick with it! You know she won’t tell him herself. As far as she’s concerned, it’s not her secret to tell.”
“Will Charlie be able to handle it?” I asked.
Before I could answer, Rosalie came flying out of her room and declared us both ridiculous. I didn’t have to read her thoughts to know where she stood on bringing in outsiders—ever.
It was only a few weeks ago that she could barely stand to be near Bella, and truthfully, although she was grateful for Bella’s encouragement the night before, she still didn’t really like her very much.
Rosalie was out of the house before I could even read her thoughts on her destination, so when Emmett emerged from their room a moment later, half dressed and pulling on a shirt, all I could offer him in return to his glare was a shrug.
When I turned back to Alice, she was gone. I listened for her mind, but she was no longer thinking of Charlie. Her thoughts were entirely consumed with wedding plans and, honestly, even my vampire vision couldn’t see the difference between the various shades of purple she was contemplating.
I didn’t have time to investigate further as I could hear Bella’s heartbeat change, signaling her imminent return to the waking world. I had promised her breakfast and I needed to begin preparing it before Emmett decided to ‘help.’ He never meant Bella any harm, but he was often curious and I didn’t want to take the chance that he wanted to find out how ‘shrimp-flavored waffles’ tasted or something else equally strange that would inadvertently sicken my fiancé.
I shook my head to bring myself back to the present. I was stopped at a traffic light in my Volvo. The minds of the people around me were filled with trivial details of their plans for the day. Apparently, the local diner was having a fiftieth anniversary celebration later and most of the town seemed to be planning to attend. Forks was a tight-knit community and I wondered for a moment, as the light turned green and I began driving again, if Charlie would be able to say good-bye, even if it meant that his daughter would still be in his life.
When I pulled up in front of the house, I was strangely surprised to hear Rosalie’s thoughts once more. She was coming out of the front door and I was out of the car and standing in front of her before I even realized what I was doing.
“What did you do, Rosalie?” I demanded.
Instead of answering out loud, she thought to me, I don’t like being in anyone’s debt, Edward. Bella gave me back the chance to be a mother. I gave her back her father. We’re even.
“Rose,” I ground out, knowing that my eyes had darkened significantly and that I would have to pull myself together before I could go in and speak with Charlie. I just hoped that she hadn’t done too much damage.
“Don’t worry, Edward,” she replied with a roll of her eyes. “Charlie took the vampire thing just fine, some minor hyperventilating, but once I got him to sit down and talk to me, he was okay. But, then I had the easy part. Knowing vampires exist is one thing. You
get to explain to him how a vampire has been dating, and is planning to marry, his daughter. Good luck with that.”
I couldn’t believe
her! It was so typical Rosalie. She acted on impulse, just as she had when she called to tell me about Bella’s death. That time it nearly killed us both and who knew what the fallout from this impulsive action would ultimately be. It had started to rain and Rosalie glared at the sky before holding her hand out and telling me mentally, You can either hand over the keys or I will hotwire your Volvo, but this is cashmere and I have no intention of running home in the rain.
I rolled my eyes and handed her my keys. If I made her hotwire the car, she might crash it into a tree in front of the house just out of spite. Even when she was supposedly acting on Bella’s behalf, she was still Rosalie and that wasn’t about to change anytime soon. At least not until she had a child to become the focus of her world, I surmised as I walked up the stairs to the small house that Bella shared with her father.
I had the packet Willow had given me for Bella’s father. Strangely enough, I actually felt much like the teenager I usually pretended to be as I knocked on the door lightly. This was actually more difficult than when we told him about the first bombshell we had dropped on him. Charlie had actually taken our impending wedding better than Bella had expected, but really, what could he say? No, Edward, Bella. You shouldn’t get married. Go live in sin instead?
Somehow, I didn’t think that would be an appropriate response, but to Bella’s surprise, he never did think about shooting me. Okay, he might have had a slight notion of accidentally hitting me with his car, but no need to share that little revelation with my fiancé.Fiancé,
I relished the word as I turned it over and over in my mind. She had finally agreed to marry me and, now that I knew she would never have to experience the daily struggle with bloodlust as long as she took the pills Willow had created, I was much more comfortable with her ‘renovations’ as she liked to call them. I still worried for her soul and I still hated that I would cause her excruciating pain as she transformed into one of us, but I had finally accepted that she would
be one of us and had even begun to look forward to it if I was honest with myself. Jasper had been my new best friend ever since Bella had accepted my proposal. I was just so happy that he couldn’t help wanting to be near me to savor the feeling. He was also finding that he enjoyed speaking with Bella and I was glad that they seemed to be forging a friendship of their own. My relationship with him had been strained since Bella’s eighteenth birthday, but now that Bella was safely spending time with him, her easy forgiveness of his attack was rubbing off on me.
I was so wrapped up in my thoughts that I hadn’t heard Charlie approach or open the door. Normally, I would have heard his thoughts long before I could see him, but he was already standing in front of me, snapping his fingers in my face to get my attention. If I could have blushed, I probably would have and if Alice caught a vision of it, I’m sure I would get an earful later.
“Sorry, Charlie,” I apologized as I stood up. “My mind was elsewhere.”
An image of the wedding and Rosalie standing in his kitchen came to Charlie’s mind as he replied, “Yeah, I guess it would be. Well, you might as well come in and get this over with.”
His tone was wary, and his mind was bouncing back and forth between disbelief and confirmation of his suspicions that our family was something other than human, which was really the best I could hope for under the circumstances. I knew Rosalie was not especially sensitive to anyone other than Emmett and probably did something dramatic to demonstrate something vampiric for Charlie. It would be up to me to somehow smooth things over even while I had to face the music about marrying his daughter.
“Charlie, I don’t know what Rosalie told you…,” I began as soon as the door was closed.
“Hold up there, Edward,” Charlie stopped me. “I need a beer for this conversation.”
He moved past me and went to the kitchen, waving me to follow him and I nodded, a few steps behind him for his comfort, and not bothering to comment about the early hour for a beer. With the revelations he had received this morning, I was sure that most people would need a little something stronger than beer. Charlie went right to the refrigerator, poking his head inside briefly. He reached for a beer before remembering that I was there. His hand hovered between the beer and a soda as he glanced at me, “Get you something to drink?”
“No, thank you,” I replied politely. Apparently, Rosalie hadn’t covered everything about our vampiric natures. Of course not, I told myself. She probably just said, ‘Charlie, we’re vampires. We don’t eat humans, but if you tell anyone, I’ll make an exception,’ and then bent something metal like it was a cotton swab and left me to clean up the mess!
With the refrigerator door still open, Charlie seemed to hesitate, so I continued, “But, please, don’t let me stop you.”
“Alright,” Charlie murmured as he plucked the beer from the refrigerator. I smothered a smile as he remembered that he had never caught me drunk like he had many of the other teenagers in town.
No, I had never been drunk—nearly insane with bloodlust to the point that I almost murdered his daughter, but never drunk. But that probably wouldn’t be a good place to start.
He popped open the beer and took a sip, leaning against the sink. “So, Bella does know about…”
He waved a finger in my direction, not finishing his statement, but I understood what he meant and I nodded, “Yes, Bella has known for a long time. She knew before we admitted that we loved each other.”
“I see,” Charlie commented. His thoughts were really too disjointed to follow well, so I had to just wait for him to decide which jumbled question would come out next. Finally, he spoke, “How long?”
I knew what he was asking and answered him honestly, “Since 1918. I was a few months shy of my eighteenth birthday when Carlisle found me.”
“So, he really is your um…father,
then?” Charlie asked.
It wasn’t technically the right word, but I the meaning was plain enough. This was a question I could definitely answer truthfully, “Yes, but only because that is the relationship we forged together. He sired Esme as well, but she’s his wife and she’s the only mother I really remember. My human memories are dimmer than my other memories and there weren’t many photographs and no recordings to help me to remember my birth parents.”
“And…Bella?” he choked out. His thoughts turned to his little girl as she ran up to him in pigtails, tripping into his arms, but squealing gleefully as he twirled her in the air.I know your pain,
I thought as my heart broke for a father realizing that his daughter would one day be very different from that little girl. I had resolved to be truthful and I did my best not to respond, “She’s made her choice. For the record, I don’t agree with it. Or, at least, I didn’t. It still breaks my heart into a million pieces, but Bella has made it quite clear that she is not looking for my permission. One of the things that I have learned about Bella over the last two years is that when she wants something, she is an immovable force until she gets it. I’ve tried to stand in her way in the past, thinking that I knew what was best for her, but that has never worked. Sometimes, it has only served to hurt her worse, so I won’t do it anymore. This is a choice that she made and I have come to accept it.”
“Son, you try to out-stubborn Bella and it’s a good thing you have eternity to live because that’s how long it will take to change her mind once it’s set on something,” Charlie told me.
I could have cried right then…if I could have cried. He wasn’t exactly accepting what I was telling him, but he did agree with my assessment of his daughter. He knew her better than she gave him credit for.
He fell heavily into a chair as he drained the last of his beer. I retrieved another one from the refrigerator for him, opening it as I walked toward him and sank gracefully into the chair across from him.
“Am I going to need this?” he asked, holding up the second beer.
“Probably,” I told him. Normally, I wouldn’t encourage drinking at such an early hour, but this was his daughter we were talking about. As he took another gulp, I continued, “First of all, I want you to know that I have never relished lying to you, but I hope you see the necessity for it.”
I always knew that Charlie was a lot more perceptive than Bella gave him credit for and he didn’t disappointment me as he asked, “So, then, what changed that you are telling me now?”
“A lot has changed, actually, but specifically, my family has joined an organization that has a different outlook on Human/Vampire relations than most,” I explained, handing over the packet to him. “They actually want to make you an offer. If you will come to Cleveland, they have a school there that is filled with kids that are not entirely, if at all, human. When I spoke with Willow—she’s the one who gave me this paperwork—she said that they are looking for someone to be their head of security and to liaise with the Cleveland Police Department when the need arises. Your physical age and your experience in law enforcement give you a credibility that the rest of us just don’t have. And, you would be able to be with Bella.”
“Cleveland?” Charlie questioned. “I thought it was New Hampshire.”
“It was,” I admitted. “That’s one of the changes to our plans for the future. While I certainly hope Bella will go to an Ivy League school someday, for the present, she has decided to change over to the Ohio Wesleyan University because it is only about two hours outside of Cleveland and they have two areas of study that she has decided to pursue: English and Ancient, Medieval and Renaissance Studies.”
“Just Bella?” he asked. His confusion was evident and I decided that I couldn’t keep him waiting.
“Yes, just Bella,” I confirmed.
“Where are you going to go?” he questioned. His mind was racing, though his thoughts were not clearly formed.
“I actually won’t be very far away,” I told him. “My family is all moving to Cleveland and my father is going to be running a medical facility at a school. I am going to do my residency there.”
“Your residency?” he repeated. “I know you’ve helped Carlisle out a bit, but don’t you think you should go to college and medical school before you move on to residency?”
“Before Bella came along, I had a lot of free time to study.” I smiled to myself and finally admitted, feeling almost shy for some strange reason, “I’ve actually been through medical school twice. Up until recently, it wasn’t really possible for me to practice medicine, though Bella knew I always had hoped to follow in Carlisle’s footsteps. She was the one who helped make that happen.”
“Yeah, that’s Bella,” Charlie agreed. “So, this organization. If they have so many non-humans, why do they need me?”
I smiled at him, “They have both, actually. It’s a community of humans and non-humans working together to keep the world spinning. That’s taken directly from their promotional materials, by the way. They say it is important to understand that we all co-exist and that we are symbiotic with each other, even if we don’t realize it.”
“Okay, let’s leave that aside for now,” Charlie suggested. “Tell me more about this whole vampire thing. What kinds of things can you do?”
I took a deep breath and in the time that it took him to blink, I had moved across the room, deposited his empty beer can into the recycling container and was seated again at the table. I didn’t intend to give him any tangible proof that he could use against me or my family, but I knew he would need to see some of my vampire traits if he was going to believe me.
“Whoa,” he did a double-take at my speed.
“I know—it’s a little startling at first,” I told him. One corner of my mouth turned upward as I remembered something Bella had said once. “Now, Bella tells me that it is only occasionally annoying.”
He swallowed hard, but maintained his calm, which was definitely to his credit, as he drawled, “Okay, what else?”
I held up a knife that I had taken from the drawer. Even with Bella’s scrubbing, it still faintly smelled of the steak Charlie was so fond of, but I ignored that and instead concentrated on keeping myself as open and honest as possible. I raked the knife over my flesh and heard Charlie’s gasp as he watched the path of the blade. It made a screeching sound as it ran across my skin and the image of a knife sharpener flickered through Charlie’s mind. Well, now was as good a time as any to get the telepathy part out of the way.
I held up the newly sharpened knife and tried to control my smile as I said, “Not exactly a standard use for vampire appendages, but I suppose it could work.”
A moment later, Charlie realized that he hadn’t spoken his thought aloud. He looked at me with new realization and I prepared myself for his reaction. Bella had been calm enough, but then again, she figured out pretty quickly that I couldn’t read her thoughts. Charlie now suddenly had proof positive that I could read his and that wasn’t even half of what I needed to tell him.
I saw his thoughts, but I also knew that most people weren’t exactly comfortable with telepathy, so I waited until he spoke.
“Did you just…?” he began. He waited a few more moments, composing his thoughts, and then tried again, much calmer, “You read my mind. You can read minds?”
I swallowed unnecessarily and nodded. “It’s not something I can control exactly. If you are the only one near me, I can’t really help but hear your thoughts. But, if there are a lot of minds near me, like there were at school, I can kind of ignore them; they all fade into background noise unless I am focusing on one person in particular. And, that’s not part of being a vampire. It’s just something I can do for some reason.”
He processed the information and I smirked when he had the fleeting notion that I might come in handy when questioning a suspect, but then he dismissed it as not being admissible in a court of law. He saw my reaction and laughed a little at himself.
“Sorry,” I told him, actually feeling for the first time like he was not going to go into a full-blown panic attack…or try to shoot me, just to see what would happen.
“Well, it is going to take some getting used to, and I guess I should learn not to think bad things about you,” Charlie replied, a truly regretful expression on his face.
“They were well deserved, Charlie.” I let him off that hook easily for I really did believe that I could never repent enough to deserve a reprieve of the pain, even second-hand, of what Bella went through when I left her. “I will never make that mistake again. In fact, as I said, she was the one who decided that we were going to Cleveland and I will follow her to the ends of the earth.”
“Well, I can’t say that I am not happy that she’ll be closer to home, but why the sudden change?” Charlie asked. He was still processing the telepathy, but seemed to also be working to accept it so we could move on to bigger and better matters at hand.
That was not where I thought he was going to go and I tried to search his thoughts, but they were once again cloudy. It was really frustrating that I couldn’t know exactly what he was thinking, but perhaps I wasn’t meant to know my father-in-law’s every thought.
“Yes, it’ll be soon,” I replied with a small smile as I guessed what Charlie’s next thought must be. “Bella doesn’t want there to be too much physical age between us. I keep telling her that two years isn’t a significant amount, but she’s adamant.”
“That must be frustrating,” Charlie commented. He was trying to work up the courage to ask me something, but this was one time when I couldn’t bear to answer his unvoiced question.
I laughed a little then, “You have no idea.”
“She never does exactly what you expect her to do, does she?” he asked, a smile playing on his lips.
“I’m learning her mysterious ways, but she does still surprise me sometimes,” I admitted. “She’s taught me something no one else ever could. I lived alone—surrounded by my family, but alone—for a long time and I never really had to compromise before. I made a decision and that was it, but Bella doesn’t like anyone else making decisions for her, so I had to learn another way because I need to keep her both safe and happy. And, often, when she is not happy, she puts herself into situations that make her unsafe. I couldn’t risk that. I won’t survive in this world without her and I don’t want to.”
Charlie couldn’t find fault with my words and he was beginning to believe that I truly did love his daughter. At the very least, he did acknowledge that I knew her well. A fleeting question rolled through his mind and I answered it automatically.
“I was born in Chicago in 1901,” I admitted.
Charlie’s first reaction was not what I expected: he laughed and asked, “And, how many times have I called you ‘son’?”
I hadn’t kept count, but back before I had broken Bella’s heart, I did remember that he had called me that a few times and he had actually called me that earlier during our conversation. At the time, I really tried not to think too much about it or I would probably feel like I was taking advantage of a child, but now I could look back and see the humor in the situation.
“A few,” I told him, humor lacing my words. Then, I turned serious, “Charlie, the truth is that in so many ways, I am
exactly like the seventeen year old boy I was when I became what I am now. Until Bella, I had no interest in love and had no reason to ever feel such human emotions as jealousy or the extreme protectiveness I feel for your daughter. She awoke all of that in me and, in most ways when it comes to love, we are the same. I am Bella’s first everything
and she is mine. God willing, we’ll be each other’s last as well.”
“Well, at least I feel better knowing why you are always so articulate,” Charlie replied. “Most of the teenage boys around here seem to think that a grunt constitutes an actual word.”
“I have noticed the same thing myself,” I commented, a smile playing at my lips. “Be glad you can’t hear their thoughts as well or you would probably shoot them where they stand.”
“I don’t doubt that,” Charlie conceded. Then he seemed to realize that we were getting off-topic and he brought the subject back to my ‘inhuman’ qualities. “So, afterward, Bella…how will she be different?”
“She’ll be faster, stronger, much less…breakable,” I told him, nearly whispering the last word. I stifled a shiver as I thought of Alice’s vision of Bella lying dead on the pavement after Tyler Crowley’s van hit her. That didn’t happen, but it was etched into my brain nonetheless.
As if he had been reading my mind, he whispered, “The accident.”
I waited in silence for him to continue. His eyes flickered to the knife and then back to me.
“I saw the van that nearly hit Bella and it had dents in it that didn’t make sense, but at the time, I was just too worried about Bella to consider it, but that was you, wasn’t it? You saved her life,” Although part of his speech was phrased as a question, it was really more of a statement and the last sentence was said with more than a little amount of conviction.
“I didn’t really think about it,” I admitted. “As it happened, all I was able to think was ‘not her’ and then I was there, stopping the van, keeping her alive and exposing my entire family to a human. It nearly got us all killed, more than once.”
“Bella wouldn’t have said anything,” Charlie chided me. He wasn’t leaping to his daughter’s defense out of fear, but rather talking to me like he was reminding me what I should have already known.
“I know that, but there are others who wouldn’t have given her the chance, so my family and I continued to protect her and I fell in love with her. Alice says I was already in love with her and, having never felt that way before, just didn’t recognize it. Maybe that’s true.” I confessed all of this to my future father-in-law, knowing that he deserved to know the truth about the man his daughter was going to marry.
“But, loving her didn’t stop you from leaving her,” Charlie stated and I cringed.
“Actually, in my deluded ‘I know what is best’ mentality, I left her because
I loved her,” I huffed out. I would never forgive myself for what I had done to her, even though she had already forgiven me. “You see, even though we try our best, it wasn’t really not safe for humans to spend too much time with us. The risk of an accident happening that could get the human hurt was too high. Bella knew the risks and kept getting closer to me and my family. It was really only a matter of time before something happened. It truly was an accident. My family loves Bella and would never intentionally hurt her, but I overreacted and she wound up hurt worse than if I had let my family take care of the situation instead. I told myself that I could live in misery as long as she was safe, but I was fooling myself. I was so close to turning around and coming back to beg Bella’s forgiveness when my sister called and told me that Bella was dead. Rosalie can be a little selfish at times and she never understood the depth of my feelings for Bella. She thought that if I thought she was gone, I would come home and we would all be a family again. I never trusted Rosalie with something that important so I called here, thinking if Bella answered the phone, my life wouldn’t end—that the world wouldn’t collapse around me. And, when I called, Jacob answered the phone and I asked for you, knowing that I couldn’t bring myself to speak to Bella. He told me that you were busy making funeral arrangements.”
“That was when Bella took off for three days without telling us where she went,” Charlie realized and I heard the worry that still plagued him when he thought of that time.
“Yes, when your friend, Harry Clearwater, died,” I confirmed. “It was his funeral you were helping to arrange, but Jacob was not particularly forthcoming with that detail.”
I snorted as Charlie entertained a thought about all being fair in love and war. He had no idea how right he was. Perhaps there was still some animosity between myself and the mongrel, despite our recent accord. I pushed that away from my mind and concentrated on Charlie once more.
“What I feel for Bella transcends any possible fleeting notions
the boy has,” I smirked. “Bella has made her choice and I won’t take that away from her ever again. Not even when I disagree with them.”
“Do you disagree often?” Charlie asked.
He seemed to sense that this was his opportunity to get everything and anything out of me and he was going to take it. I couldn’t blame him, really. Somehow, knowing that Bella would be spending centuries with me and not just decades had somehow brought out more of a fatherly instinct in him. He also had a fleeting thought that if things didn’t work out between the two of us, it would probably be difficult for us to find a judge to grant a divorce on a two hundred year old marriage. That definitely added to the pressure for him, but for me, I knew that Bella and I had already been through hell and had come out the other side relatively unscathed. There was nothing we couldn’t face together.
“Not really, but when it does, neither of us want to give an inch. Yet, we somehow manage to compromise,” I told him. “Probably because neither of us seems to be able to exist without the other. Which brings us back to the story about Bella’s three-day disappearing act, if you still want to know?”
“Yes, I still want to know,” Charlie glared his cop glare at me.
I wondered for a moment what it would be like to be on the receiving end of that glare if I was human. Probably more intimidating, I decided as I continued the story, “All right, then. You see, it is very difficult to kill one of us. There are very few ways of accomplishing it, and even fewer ways of committing suicide. My sister, Alice, saw that Bella was still alive and knew that I would never believe her unless I saw Bella in the flesh. Bella didn’t hesitate. I was in Italy and I was seconds away from forcing others of my kind to kill me when she appeared. For a split second, I actually thought I had completed my task and had somehow been granted entrance into Heaven, despite the many sins of my past. Then, she was in my arms and I vowed never to leave her side unless she told me to go. But, I had put her in danger again. The very ones that I had sought death from had seen her and knew that she was human. Her existence was once again threatened because of me and I can never apologize enough for that, Charlie. But, you should have seen her. A roomful of people who wanted her dead and she didn’t flinch.”
“No,” Charlie agreed. “She wouldn’t. She always worries about everyone other than herself.”
Again, I was struck by how deeply in tune he was with his daughter. He even remembered back to when Bella was a child and someone had asked if he thought she would follow in his footsteps into law enforcement and he had been adamant that she could not do that, not only because of her extreme accident prone self, but also because he had suddenly envisioned her stepping intently in front of a bullet meant for him when he wasn’t looking. I couldn’t agree with his assessment more.
“They saw her as a threat, and I thought we were all going to die anyway, but between Bella and Alice, they convinced them that Bella would one day be one of us and they let us leave, but said that they would be watching us,” I told him and waited for his judgment.
“Is that why she is going to become a vampire?” he asked and I could still see the wheels turning in his mind. “Because she has to?”
“No, she had made that decision anyway,” I admitted with chagrin. “And, now, by joining the IWC, she isn’t being forced into it either way. The IWC is more powerful than those others were and we don’t have to worry about them anymore. The IWC has given us so many things back that we never thought we would have. We can live and work and be ourselves freely in their community without fear. They have a pill that completely eliminates our thirst and we can even adopt someday.”
“So, then why aren’t you happier about Bella becoming one of you?” Charlie squinted at me and he went back to the question he couldn’t bring himself to ask earlier. Finally, he managed to get the words out, “It’s going to hurt her, isn’t it?”
A long moment passed before I looked him in the eye and whispered, “Yes.”
“How badly?” he wanted to know.
“Worse than anything else she has ever felt in her life,” I replied. I had to look away as I continued, “Probably worse than all of it combined.”
“Does Bella know this?”
“Yes,” I answered. My heart was still clenching in my cold chest and I felt like I always did when I thought of my Bella in that kind of pain. The torture for me would be nearly as great as the torture for her, especially if Jasper was nearby and I could feel her anguish through his mind.
“Do you have reason to believe that my daughter is incapable of making this decision?” Charlie asked, a dangerous note to his voice, but I couldn’t quite tell where this was going. It was almost as though he had already learned how to control his thoughts around me.
“No,” I replied, trying to figure out where he was going with this.
“Then, stop agonizing over this and start figuring out a way to make her as comfortable as possible,” Charlie instructed me and I sat back in my chair, my eyes wide in disbelief at what I was hearing. He must have seen the look I was giving him and was under the impression that I thought him crazy because he continued, “Look, Edward, I am not happy that my daughter will be in so much pain. In fact, I’m downright un
happy about it, but as you have pointed out, Bella will do what Bella will do and there’s no stopping her. Fighting against this tide is a losing battle, son.”
And suddenly, miraculously, we were on the same side. We both loved his daughter and wanted everything good for her, but would support her in her decision. He was right; I had spent so much time fighting against her being changed that I hadn’t started brainstorming of ways to help her through the change instead. I would begin tonight. As soon as Bella was asleep, I would e-mail Willow and ask her to see if she had any books about our kind that would give me any information.
As I contemplated this, I noted that his thoughts turned to which of his deputies would be able to fill his role as Chief of Police after he moved to Cleveland. I had almost forgotten about the employment offer and I gasped at the implication.
“You’re coming to Cleveland, then?” I asked, even though I already knew the answer.
“Edward, one day, I won’t be around, and you said that human memories are dim for you. I don’t want Bella to have only dim memories of her family,” Charlie told me and I could see that his thoughts were firm on this subject.
He was willing to give up the small town life he loved, the lifelong friends he had made and his career to be there for his daughter. I wondered, briefly, if Bella and I would ever have a daughter and feel that kind of love for our child. Two weeks ago, that thought never would have crossed my mind, but now, with the IWC, it was a possibility someday and that filled my heart with tenderness.
I realized with a start that Charlie was looking at me, one eyebrow raised and clearly waiting for my attention once again. I apologized quickly and let him continue.
“Not only that, but I think I’m going to go on treating you like you aren’t more than twice my age. I think Bella’s not the only one who could use some normal family memories when I’m gone,” Charlie told me. He pierced me with his Chief Swan glare again and shook his finger at me. “As far as I am concerned, you are still the young man who is marrying my daughter and if I don’t think you are treating her properly, I won’t hesitate to let you know about it. And now I know that I won’t even have to say it aloud, so Bella will be none the wiser.”
“Yes, sir,” I replied, acknowledging his right to call me whatever he wanted as long as he was going to go along with keeping our secrets and make Bella happy.
The End?P.S. Thank you to texasmeerkat for the Rec!