Charlie Swan has a lot of things to worry about as police chief of Forks. But it’s nothing compared to the worries of a father. 3rd place -- October 07 Minor Character Challenge
ATTENTION READERS: DO NOT STEAL MY STORIES. Someone has stolen some of my stories from this website and posted them as their own on fanfiction.net. It is plaigarism, it is stealing and it is illegal. Read, enjoy -- but don't steal. Post-Eclipse This takes place during and after the last chapter of Eclipse (before the epilogue).
1. Chapter 1
Rating 5/5 Word Count 2295 Review this Chapter
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I was two bites into my meatball sub when the call went out over the radios. So much for lunch today. I tossed my steaming sandwich aside, flipped on the sirens and turned out onto the 101.
This was what they didn’t really tell you about in training. Sure, they prepared you for duty. Like when they hit your eyes with pepper spray and make you run through a whole training course before you can wash your eyes out. Or the SWAT exercises; the ones that make the TV stations call in to make sure it really is just training, and not some juicy story we’re keeping secret. Or even the mundane stuff they start you out on: the overnight shift at the jail, running dispatch, DUI patrol on the holiday weekends. But they never warned you that no matter what time of day, if you’re trying to eat a hot meal, guaranteed some smartass with a gun or a knife is going to try and hurt somebody.
I sighed, as I pressed down on the gas pedal. The sirens wailed, announcing my approach – and thankfully, the good citizens of Forks obeyed and ditched to the side of the road to make way for my speeding patrol car. Without looking, I turned up the volume on the local scanner – listening as the dispatchers sent out information over the radio to all units. Any city cop would have laughed over the big deal we were making over this: a guy with a knife in a mostly-empty grocery store parking lot. He was probably suicidal or on drugs or both. But for the town of Forks, a crazy guy with a knife is a pretty big deal. It was all hands on deck for the Forks Police Department.
Two other units pulled up about the same time as I did, and our training kicked into gear. Guns and tasers drawn, we kept ourselves shielded behind the doors of our patrol cars. Detective Holstrom was already trying to talk the guy down. Sure, I was police chief – but Holstrom was our only Major Crimes detective and the closest Forks had to a crisis negotiator. He’d taken some classes on the subject down at Portland State. He knew what he was doing better than any of us. So I let him do his thing. My biggest concern was for everyone else: for my officers, for the handful of witnesses here in the parking lot and for the guy with the knife. Sure, he was a crackpot – but he was my responsibility. And I’d read all the newspaper articles about officer-involved shootings over in Seattle and down in Vancouver and Portland. They were no pretty thing to deal with. I didn’t want a public inquest on my hands.
Holstrom seemed to be getting somewhere. He stepped out from behind the door of his car and slowly approached the knife-wielding guy. He was doing this right – with one hand extended to take away the knife, and the other on his weapon. Reflexively, my finger tightened on the trigger of my taser, though I longed to trade it out for my gun. But it was tasers first, guns second these days. I concentrated on the exchange. Glancing around, I saw that my backup officers had quietly escorted the handful of witnesses out of harm’s immediate way – behind our squad cars.
Then, just as we thought this would end easily, the guy with the knife ran at Holstrom – knife held high. That’s when I pulled the trigger – and the arms of the taser shot out and nailed the guy in the chest. Two other sets of tasers hit him, as well, and he crumpled to the ground, flailing and screaming. I’d taken a taser hit to the chest once; it was part of the training. So I had some idea the amount of pain this guy was in and I didn’t envy him. But, still, he was alive and he didn’t have a bullet in him.
Moving towards him now, the other officers and I drew our guns – just in case. Sometimes these guys all hopped up on drugs didn’t really respond to the tasers. But this guy looked down for the count. Officer Wetson kicked the guy’s knife away, then rolled him onto his stomach and pulled his hands behind his back, locking a pair of handcuffs around his wrists and reciting the Miranda Rights.
With the bad guy in cuffs and being stuffed into the back of Wetson’s patrol car, it was finally safe for me to put my weapon back in the holster. Of course, the fact that I’d had it drawn was reason enough to fill out a stack of paperwork – and because I’d pulled the trigger, that meant a heavy stack. But it could wait. Holstrom had things under control and once I checked in with him, I left him in charge of the scene and the remaining officers. He could worry about gathering witness statements and checking the parking lot for additional evidence and scanning the grocery store’s surveillance video; it was his job. I had other things to worry about. Like that paperwork.
Like my lunch. I drove back to the station and grabbed my previously discarded sandwich. I was ready to chow down. That is, until I took a closer look at it. The sandwich had sat untouched for nearly an hour in my car during this whole knife-wielding guy thing with the driver’s side door wide open. And now, the mozzarella had congealed, the meatballs were no longer hot and the bread was now soggy with marinara sauce – and the entire mess was covered in ants. In other words … it was disgusting. Groaning and disappointed, I tossed it into the trash and rooted through my desk drawers for something to eat. All I had was a handful of stale Fritos and half a granola bar. That’s precinct gourmet. At least they weren’t covered in ants.
After swallowing my meager nourishment, I turned to the stacks of papers and files on my desk. Sure, being police chief sounds glamorous … but it’s really a lot of managerial stuff to deal with. By far the heaviest folder on my desk at this moment was the budget. Having already been through the numbers, I knew we didn’t have enough money. We never had enough money, it seemed. This year was particularly tight; the state wasn’t giving us anything extra but our costs had nearly doubled since last year. And if I didn’t come up with a better solution soon, we were going to lose somebody. I’d have to cut someone’s job in order to pay for everything else.
I decided I would worry about the budget another day; the deadline was still a few weeks off. No, instead, I turned to the other stack of folders – the case reports from my detectives. They weren’t exciting, like the cases from bigger cities like Tacoma and Olympia and Seattle. But I liked it that way; I liked knowing that the biggest crimes in Forks were usually kids smoking pot in a parked car. The knife-wielding crazies were a rare occurrence.
I had just flipped open the first case file needing my approval, when Bertie – the front desk gal – buzzed my intercom. “Phone call, Charlie,” she said. “It’s Billy.”
“Patch him through, Bertie.”
I’d almost forgotten about Billy and Jake in the day’s excitement. I was worried about that kid; he’d gotten pretty banged up. Took a nasty spill on that motorcycle. When I’d first heard about it, I’d been horrified, sure – though part of me had been really glad it was Jake and not Bella. I’d worried about her ever since I found out about those bikes; even when she promised she wasn’t riding it anymore – as soon as she started going out to La Push again, I couldn’t help but picture her broken and bloody on the side of the road. Hell, I worried about her even before I found out about the bikes … she was my only kid; I worried. Constantly. Like the paperwork, it was my job.
“Hey Billy,” I said when the call came through. “How’s Jake doing?”
“Well, he’s been better.” Billy let out a long breath. “But he’ll be okay. Right now, I think he’s suffering more from a broken heart than anything else.”
A twinge of guilt hit me then, though I knew I had done nothing wrong. But I felt somewhat culpable for supporting Bella – even though I knew she’d hurt Jake. But, damn it, she was my daughter and she had to do the right thing. I trusted that she’d made the right choice, even if I did, generally, like Jake more. After all, I’d seen what losing Edward once had done to her. And I think I was still hoping she’d meet someone else at college, even though I didn’t really believe that was possible.
“I heard about that,” I said to Billy, remembering the tears in Bella’s eyes when she’d come home the night before. “You should know I was rooting for Jake.”
Billy chuckled and I could sense a small smile through the phone. “Yeah, well, kids you know … you never can tell ‘em what to do.”
“I’m sure he’ll be okay,” I said. “He’s young – he’ll heal fast – inside and out.”
“Yeah, well, listen,” Billy said. He coughed, clearing his throat. “I just want to say … well, I owe you an apology. I’ve always had nothing but bad stuff to say about Doctor Cullen and his family and, well, he really came through for Jake when he got hurt. Rushed right down here to take care of him – didn’t even make us go to the hospital, where we’d get charged for everything. Well, heck, the doctor’s not even charging us for anything – not even the meds.”
“I’ve always said he’s a good man.” I knew he’d stitched up Bella a few times; and I was pretty sure he’d taken care of her even when I wasn’t supposed to find out about it. “I’m glad he’s taking good care of you and Jake.”
“Anyway, I should let you get back to work,” Billy said. “Come visit us tomorrow, if you can. Sue Clearwater made us enough casseroles to last through next winter and we could use your help eating ‘em. Even with Jake’s appetite.”
I chuckled. “Sure thing, Billy. I’ll see ya tomorrow.”
Hanging up, I glanced at the clock. Three more hours until I could go home. Three more hours until I could finally get something decent to eat. I sighed and turned back to the stack of paperwork in front of me and got back down to work.
Three cups of standard precinct coffee and a package of Twizzlers uncovered from the bowels of my bottom desk drawer later, I was finally free to go home.
The kitchen was dark and cold when I walked in. Bella must have been out all day; that meant no dinner tonight. I almost felt like crying. Sure, I didn’t really care if she cooked or not. But tonight, I’d really been looking forward to her home-cooking. I’d missed lunch, after all. And I really didn’t want to order out. I just wanted to walk in and find her stirring something in a bubbling pot on the stove. But no … not tonight. I went to the cupboard and pulled out the sheaf of take-out menus I’d stashed away once Bella had moved in and proven her prowess in the kitchen. I hadn’t turned to these menus in a long time. But she’d be going to college soon; I should get used to ordering out again.
Hell, I should get used to knocking around an empty house again, too. I didn’t realize how much she’d spoiled me until I thought about her leaving. Even this weekend alone, while she was off with Alice, the house had just felt so empty.
Mindlessly and numb with exhaustion and hunger, I dialed my favorite Chinese place and ordered the usual, apologizing to the owner for having not called in so long. “It’s my daughter,” I said. “She loves to cook.” Mister Mao laughed and took my order and said it would be here in a few minutes. They didn’t normally deliver, but for the police chief – and a customer as regular and as loyal as myself – they made an exception.
I was just opening up the containers of steaming Chinese food – the Mariner’s game on in the other room – when the door banged open and a whoosh of cool, evening air rushed in. Bella clanged in noisily, Edward trailing silently at her side.
“Hi, Dad,” she said, nervously. She seemed edgy. I watched as Edward murmured something in her ear and she seemed to relax, but glancing down I saw her fingers knotting together; a nervous habit. “We need to tell you something,” she said, fingers still twitching. That’s when I saw it. The light catching on something shiny; a gold band and a swath of diamonds on her finger. I felt my eyes widen and my heart palpitate … I looked up at their faces, Edward’s beaming and Bella smiling shy and nervous and afraid. They didn’t even have to say it; I knew what was coming. I looked back down at the gold and diamonds on my daughter’s left ring finger. Yep, there it was. An engagement ring.
Apparently, I could add another item to my long list of worries.
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