Cullen Family Camping Trip
Charlie insists Bella go camping with the Cullens, in order to acclimate herself with the great outdoors. After all, the Cullens are practically revered in town for their family camping trips, so they must know
what they're doing, right? *Post Eclipse
8. Chapter 8
Rating 5/5 Word Count 3445 Review this Chapter
Esme was about to share another memory, when Alice froze, and we turned our attention to her.
Her eyes glazed over, and she became silent. We all waited apprehensively for Alice to reveal the vision to us.
Edward sighed heavily, pinching the bridge of his nose, just as Alice returned her focus to all of us.
“Charlie is going to call, Carlisle. The seminar wrapped up last night, so he is heading home earlier than planned, and wants to stop in to have lunch with us,” Alice explained. “He’s curious to see how Bella’s holding up.”
“Hmm....well, I certainly hadn’t planned on that,” Carlisle murmured, slightly perplexed. Before he could say much more, his cell began ringing, proving Alice to be correct.
We all listened as Carlisle spoke with Charlie. After a few minutes of conversation, Carlisle gave him the directions that would enable Charlie to find us, then snapped the phone shut.
Rosalie spoke first. “What on earth did you do that for? Surely he’s going to find all of this,” she motioned to our surroundings, pointing out all the luxury items and numerous tents, “to be a bit unusual, to say the least,” she hissed.
Carlisle looked disapprovingly at her, then turned his gaze to each of us, finally resting on me. “He was so enthusiastic - so eager to see Bella, and to share this with her. He’s proud of her for lasting all weekend - honestly, he thought she’d have insisted we pack up and head home on the first day. Bella only has so much more time with him, so I thought it would be nice - who am I to deny him this?” Carlisle said seriously.
He went on to describe how we would alter our ‘current situation’ by removing all the luxury items. He explained how there were a series of caves back down the road that we’d come on, that used to be open to the public, but had been closed for a while, and said they would leave all the items inside the caves until we could pick them up later, after Charlie had gone home. He also asked Alice to stop by the public campground that was about ten miles away, and see if they had a general store where she could purchase a couple of coolers, large blocks of ice, and a selection of dried food. He said we would just have to admit to buying the ice - we had no other explanation that would explain how we’d been keeping our food cold.
With much grumbling from everyone, they all sprung into action, recognizing the authority in Carlisle’s voice. Edward picked me up, set me by the fire, and told me not to move until they were done loading up the two vehicles.
After merely fifteen minutes, the entire area was transformed, almost completely unrecognizable compared to it’s former state. There were now only three tents; one for Carlisle and Esme, and two separate ones for the guys and for the girls - Carlisle insisted things appear ‘proper’ to Charlie. Everyone immediately began objecting, but Carlisle quieted us, pointing out that Charlie would be leaving after lunch, and that it was merely temporary.
Everything else was gone - the generators, the fridge - all of it. There was only the one table left, with minimal kitchen supplies, such as plates, cups, utensils, and seasoning. There were fold-out chairs around the fire, a small pile of various items, such as buckets, a shovel, and a row of shiny fishing poles, and that was basically it, as far as I could see.
Edward had managed to salvage the rest of the bananas for me, and stored them in one of the tents. Rosalie, Emmett, Jasper and Alice left to haul the cargo away, and Edward stayed with me, Carlisle and Esme. It had occurred to me that we wouldn’t have any actual food - except bananas, and I wasn’t giving those up - to offer Charlie for lunch. Carlisle explained that in order for this to look authentic, we would be catching our lunch from the river. Charlie would be thrilled.
The four of us had enjoyed the quiet time while the others were away, but when they returned, Carlisle gathered us all together. He explained to the rest of them what we would be ‘serving’ for lunch, and asked for volunteers to go fishing. Everyone wanted to go, so that meant I’d automatically be included, as I was attached to Edward’s side.
Carlisle and Esme stayed back at the campsite, to keep the fire going, and to make sure everything appeared ‘normal.’ Before we left, Alice showed him what she had been able to get at the campground’s general store - she’d come back with two large Coleman Xtreme coolers, which both contained large blocks of ice, and an assortment of dried fruits and vegetables. I missed the Schwann’s meals already. She’d also thrown flannel shirts at everyone, and baseball caps for the guys, insisting we all get into ‘costume.’
When she was done, we made our way to the river, fishing poles in hand, as well as one of the buckets, which Emmett carried. We settled in at the river’s edge, ready for action.
Mere minutes passed, and everyone was already becoming restless. It truly was an incredibly boring activity - I couldn’t comprehend why my father enjoyed it so much. Perhaps since he was so busy all the time, it was his way to block out the rest of the world and just be. Who knows? All I know is that it seemed ludicrous.
“Alice? Do you see any of us actually catching anything? This is boring,” Emmett asked.
Alice searched the future with her mind, then grinned slyly. “Well, you’ll catch something, but not this way,” she laughed. “Perhaps it’s time for us to face reality, embrace what we are, and consider other options.”
Emmett just looked confused at her words, whereas Edward started chuckling along with her. “Carlisle won’t be happy, you know,” he said.
“Who said he has to know?” Alice replied, eagerness creeping into her voice.
“What the heck are you guys talking about?” Emmett interrupted, impatient.
“We’re ditching this method, that’s what. It’s ridiculous - how anyone could sit here waiting like this for something to maybe happen is beyond me - it’s bizarre. You two,” she pointed at Edward and Emmett, “are going to jump in that river, and grab as many fish as you can. Jasper, start with the calming waves - send them out over the water, please, it may help to slow the fish down. Edward, Emmett - it’s a contest - whoever catches twelve fish first wins!” Both guys jumped up, discarding their shirts, ready for the competition. “We still have to figure out how to clean these things after we catch them, as well as cook them, so let’s get to it,” Alice added, looking repulsed. “Ready, set, go!”
Edward and Emmett dove into the water. Alice leapt up, and placed the bucket near the edge of the river. Almost immediately, hands began resurfacing, fish flying towards the shore, landing in the bucket easily. Alice seemed to be keeping tabs on how many fish each had caught. In what seemed like only a minute, Alice jumped up again, calling time.
Edward and Emmett resurfaced, waiting for the verdict. “Edward has twelve, Emmett has ten,” Alice sang. “Now get up here and throw some of these back - we can’t show up with twenty two fish for lunch.”
“Damn it! Rematch,” Emmett declared, glaring at Edward.
“Forget it, Emmett - we’ve got to get back and prepare anyway,” Edward replied, rolling his eyes. He was used to Emmett’s competitive nature, and Emmett hated that Edward was so fast.
After they’d thrown ten of the fish back, we made our way back to the campsite. Carlisle glanced warily at Edward and Emmett’s soaked appearance, but chose to ignore it, as they both went to change into spare flannels and jeans Alice had set aside. When they reemerged, they approached the rest of us, gathered around our bounty.
The bucket of fish sat on the ground, with all seven vampires staring at it uncertainly. It was a good thing I’d gotten used to Charlie bringing home fresh fish that hadn’t been processed yet; clearly, I was the only one here that knew how to gut and clean the things.
“Who’s helpless, now?” I murmured, heading over to the now practically non-existent kitchen area. Just as I was about to reach for a knife, Edward’s hand flashed out, securing my wrist in steel.
“What on earth do you think you’re doing, Bella?” he asked reproachfully.
“Well, since I’m the only one here who understands how to properly fillet those fish, and Charlie’s going to be here sometime soon, I think I’d better get to work, don’t you?” I answered, my eyebrows raised.
“You know I can’t possibly let you handle that knife, Bella. There has to be some other way,” Edward replied, looking around, as if for some miracle.
I sighed heavily. “Quit overreacting, Edward - you know I manage to prepare dinner for Charlie almost every night of the week, and I always seem to survive. I’ve cleaned and prepped hundreds of fish before without even one cut. I just have to pay attention to what I’m doing,” I added, hoping he would see reason.
After checking with Alice more than a couple times, and Carlisle mentioning the need to move things along, he relented. “Alright, fine. I’m standing right here the whole time though. Whatever you do, don’t cut yourself,” he said, glancing warily over at Jasper.
My gaze followed his, and I nodded. “Yeah, trust me, I know. Wait - won’t the blood from the fish bother any of you?” I asked, almost as an afterthought.
Edward chuckled, shaking his head. “No, we’ll be fine, love. Perhaps if it were a shark, or something larger, then maybe...but not one of these - it’s just not the same,” he said, motioning to the small fish in the bucket. “It would be like if you had a pet goldfish or cat - of course I wouldn’t want to eat them...you’ll understand the differences all too soon, Bella,” he added, making yet another reference to our approaching wedding and subsequently, my conversion.
Eventually, all the fish were cleaned, filleted, and stored in one of the coolers on ice. Esme inquired about cooking time, as well as seasoning, and I told her how I prepared them at home, and adjusted the time according to the fact that she’d be cooking them over the fire. She wanted to cook for Charlie, so I made sure she understood everything, so that when he arrived, she’d be ready to start.
It was about thirty minutes later that Alice ‘saw’ Charlie arriving. She informed us he’d be here within five minutes, so we all took our places. Carlisle, Edward, Alice, Jasper, and Rosalie gathered around the fire, lounging in the fold-out chairs. I joined Esme by the table and coolers, and helped her season the fish. Emmett sat in one of the chairs off to the side, whittling a piece of wood, and whistling loudly.
“Emmett, shut up, that’s annoying!” Alice hissed under her breath, just as Charlie’s cruiser pulled up. When his door creaked open, she hopped up and joined Esme and I, eager to greet Charlie.
“Bells! It’s good to see you,” Charlie said as he exited his vehicle. “Alice! Don’t you look outdoorsy,” he added, clearly surprised to see her wearing flannel. If he’d looked closer, he would have noticed that her jeans were BCBG, and that she had a designer t-shirt under the flannel. For that matter, the flannels themselves had all come from a high end designer; I’d baulked when I’d seen the label on the inside of mine.
He approached me, taking in my appearance - the plethora of mosquito bites, the poison ivy splotches, and the wrap on my wrist. “How are you holding up?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Great, dad. I’m doing just great,” I said sarcastically, grinning back at him. He asked about my wrist, as well as my blotchy skin, and chuckled, after he realized I was alright, and awkwardly patted me on my shoulder. He shook Esme’s hand, and began a conversation with Carlisle, who had come over to us to greet Charlie.
“Quite the setup you’ve got here, Carlisle,” Charlie said, looking around appreciatively. I coughed, trying not to laugh - if he’d only seen it this morning, before the great disassemble.
Charlie joined the Cullens around the fire, and they told him about the activities of the last couple of days, right up to fishing today, editing a lot of the details, naturally. Charlie was amazed that I’d survived the activities with such minimal damage.
“Yes, Bella’s learned quite a lot, I think,” Edward said, grinning at me mischievously. “She’s quite skilled in plant identification now, and understands the fundamentals of keeping a canoe upright. She also had a small swimming lesson that day.”
I merely shook my head, my cheeks blushing furiously, as I watched Esme cook the fish over the fire. He thought he was so funny.
“We even had crafts time, dad, just like little kids do when they go to camp - it turns out, Edward is quite skilled in the art of confetti making,” I said, while staring directly at Edward.
Charlie shook his head. “Wow...it sure sounds like you took my request to teach Bella the ways of outdoor survival seriously, Carlisle - thank you,” he added, somewhat in awe.
Esme was finishing up with the fish, and piling them onto a large paper plate. As she headed back to the table, Emmett walked by us, into the woods, mumbling about looking for a better piece of wood to whittle. He was taking this charade a bit seriously, I thought.
“We’re getting ready to eat, so if you all would like to move over here, and bring your chairs, please,” Esme called out. Emmett would hear her, even out in the woods, which I was sure she realized. Everyone knew how important it was to Esme to make my dad feel welcome, and not like an outsider, which meant she’d want each and every one of them sitting down to fake-eat with my father.
“I’m sure Emmett will be right back,” Esme declared. “There’s no reason to wait - I wouldn’t want the fish to get cold.” She passed around the plate of fish, everyone delicately taking a piece and placing it on their own plates.
“Sorry about the minimal selection, Charlie, but we feel that this is what reality should be like when you camp, so we’re keeping it simple,” Carlisle explained, smiling politely. Right - it’s what it should be like, not what is was like. Truckloads of food, a refrigerator, generators,...
“Dad, have you ever had any of the meals from a company called ‘Schwann’s?’” I asked, causing six pairs of golden eyes to flash in my direction.
“No, Bells, why do you ask?” Charlie replied in between bites of fish.
“Oh, no reason, I just heard about them, and thought it might be good for you to look into for after I...move out,” I answered, unable to stop the tiny grin from sneaking onto my face. They’d all thought I was going to blow their ‘expert naturalists’ cover.
Charlie nodded, paying more attention to his food. He mumbled something about it being really good, and failed to notice the people surrounding him weren’t actually eating - just a lot of fake chewing, and super-fast movements to hide the food away somewhere. I still wondered how they managed that sometimes.
“This is truly delicious, Esme, dear,” Carlisle said appreciatively.
“Mmm - absolutely the best,” Alice added.
“Thank you, everyone,” Esme replied politely.
After a few moments of polite conversation, we heard Emmett approaching - he was whistling again, and a tiny sigh escaped from Alice. As he came into view, he had a large stick tucked under his arm, and was carrying something else. Since Alice was sitting next to me, I noticed when she started very minimally shaking her head back and forth, staring at Emmett, as if willing him to notice her, and at the same moment, Edward snorted quietly. Charlie remained unaware of any of it, and continued to cut pieces from his fish.
“Yep, we sure have taught Bella a lot. Livin’ off the land - there’s nothing like it,” Emmett proclaimed, as he fake-tossed something into his mouth, then began fake-chewing. He made his way to the table, and dropped what he’d been carrying - mushrooms. “Anyone want a side dish? Found them myself,” he added proudly.
Before anyone could answer, Rosalie began quietly hissing something, and everyone turned their attention to her; even Charlie noticed this. We watched as her eyes narrowed into slits, and she dropped her fork and knife, slowly rising from the table. Our eyes followed her line of sight, and immediately, we saw the problem.
A tiny field mouse was peeking curiously out of Emmett’s shirt pocket. Still quietly hissing what was beginning to sound similar to quite a few words of profanity, Rosalie stalked past him, heading directly for his Jeep. She effortlessly unlatched the hood, looked around intently for a moment, then reached in and yanked out some sort of part. She proceeded towards the woods with it, to most likely reduce it to nothing more than a fine powder, with Emmett running after her.
“Rose - it’s not slimy! IT’S NOT SLIMY!” he yelled, panicking about his lost upgrade.
We all sat in silence for a moment, then Charlie shook his head, and turned to Carlisle and Esme. “I don’t know how you do it; I can barely handle Bella. Five teenagers - amazing,” he murmured, focusing on his food again, after helping himself to a second helping of fish.
A few minutes later, a defeated looking Emmett and a smug looking Rosalie reemerged from the woods, the Jeep’s lost part nowhere to be seen. Wordlessly, they reclaimed their previous positions among us at the table.
“Well, that was delicious - thank you, Esme,” Charlie said, leaning back in his chair. Murmurs filled the air in agreement, thanking Esme along with Charlie. “You know, Bells, I’m really glad I got to stop out here - it’s great to see you having such a good time in this type of situation. When you were little, you couldn’t stand anything like this.”
“Yes, it’s too bad you can’t stay with us, Charlie. I’m sure Bella would have loved for you to have camped with us for the weekend, but we understand, you’ve got to get back to town, of course. Forks is surely missing it’s favorite Chief of Police,” Carlisle said sincerely.
Charlie seemed to hesitate at his words, and glanced back at me. Suddenly, Alice gripped the edges of her chair, and Edward sighed heavily, although Charlie noticed neither action.
“Well...actually, I’m not scheduled to be back at work until tomorrow afternoon,” Charlie said uncertainly. “There’s actually no reason I couldn’t stay - I’ve still got some extra clothes in the car from my trip. If you could spare a couple of blankets, then I don’t see why I shouldn’t,” he added, shrugging his shoulders.
Shocked silence settled over the table, until Carlisle finally managed to speak. “Certainly, Charlie - if you wish to stay, you’re welcome to. We have plenty of blankets. Esme and I will even give you our tent, and we’ll sleep with the others.” His compassion was truly going to get us all into trouble.
“Don’t be ridiculous - someone else can stay in the tent with me, I don’t want you all to be over-crowded for my expense. We’ll work it out later. This will be great,” he said, smiling at me, before turning his gaze back to the cluttered table.
“Emmett, how many of those did you eat?” Charlie asked, motioning to the mushrooms scattered across the table. We’d all forgotten about them, and hadn’t touched them since he’d put them there; the mouse incident had distracted us.
“Quite a few, they’re very good,” Emmett lied. “Help yourself.”
Charlie chuckled, shaking his head. “I’d rather not...they’re actually mildly poisonous,” he said. “Nothing serious, but you will be...indisposed for a while this afternoon, I’m afraid.”
Emmett stared at him, confused. Carlisle was studying the mushrooms, comprehension crossing his features. “Yes, he’s quite right, Emmett - I don’t know how you could have missed that. I can give you some medicine to help, I’m not sure it will do much good. Digesting this particular type of mushroom is quite uncomfortable; it will just have to pass through your system...the natural way,” he added, trying not to show his irritation at Emmett’s mistake.
So now Emmett was going to have to fake being sick for the afternoon? This was really getting out of control.