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Where did I put my need-to-know-only policy?

Charlie is going to visit the Cullens for christmas, just as he has done for the last ten years. But could this year be different? And how could a piece of horse meat change all his convictions?

The story is set ten years after breaking dawn. CPOV. *All the wonderful characters belong to Stephanie Meyer.*

3. A glimpse of light

Rating 4/5   Word Count 1825   Review this Chapter

“Charlie, what do you want for Christmas? Emmett and I still haven’t got you anything, so we need ideas.” Rosalie asked as she sat down in front of me.

“You guys don’t need to get me anything.” I was already feeling embarrassed, they did this to me every single year.

“Don’t give me that, Charlie. You always say the same thing and every year we get you something, so just tell us what you want, man.” Emmett said as he gave me a hard pat on my shoulder before sitting down to my left.

I just shook my head; I didn’t want or need anything so there was no point in them getting me a present.

“Do you want some fishing gear?” Rosalie asked.

I couldn’t even get a word in before Emmett was bouncing up and down like he had ants up his pants.

“I have the best idea! I know exactly what you need.” We all looked at him, expectantly. “A laser!” His face erupted into a huge grin, and he nodded.

Edward just looked at Emmett like he was an idiot; actually, we all looked at him like he was an idiot- an idiot that had lost his mind. “Emmett, what could Charlie possibly do with a laser?” Edward asked.

“Well... he could you use it to catch some fish, you know, blind those suckers. He could use it to fry ‘em, and if we got him a cat as well he could entertain the fur ball for hours with it. Hey, can someone get me a laser? I would love to go bear hunting with it... Oh man, those fools won’t know what hit ‘em... can you imagine,” he gave a dreamy sigh.

Yep, definitely lost his mind.

Rosalie just smacked him.

It took as a while to convince Emmett that a laser was out of the question as a Christmas present. I wasn’t really listening to the conversation anymore but Alice, Rosalie and Emmett were still discussing what to get me. Edward and Bella were kissing in the corner; it would have made me puke my dinner if it wasn’t so sweet seeing my baby happy in the arms of the man she loved. Carlisle, Esme and Jasper still weren’t back from whatever they were doing. I had asked Alice where they were but she explained so quickly that I only caught the word ‘mountain’; I guess they must have gone hiking. I turned back to my dinner, it was really delicious. These Cullens sure knew how to cook, every time I visited they tried something new; about three years ago they’d made me try pigeon to see if I would like it, I hadn’t, so it was nice that they just gave me a nice piece of beef this time.

“Thanks, that was the best beef I have ever had, whoever cooked it did a great job.” I said as I pushed my plate away.

Alice looked at me confused; she leaned her little head a bit to the left. “Ummm... Charlie, that wasn’t beef. It was horse meat; we thought you might like it. This guy on the discovery channel said it was great.”

I couldn’t stop from gagging. What the hell? Horse, I had just eaten Horse? That was wrong on so many levels.

“What did it taste like?” Bella asked as she cleared my plate, just like old times.

At first I couldn’t really reply, I was still too repulsed from eating a poor horsey.

“Well, it tasted like chicken...but sweeter.” I said, still trying to keep it down.

They all nodded, but remained mystified. Emmett finally asked: “What does chicken taste like?”

I was shocked. Yes, I knew they didn’t eat when I was around, but I thought that they ate sometime. It was then that something just clicked, my curiosity took over and before I could gain control of myself the question tumbled out.

“Why don’t you ever eat?” They all froze at my question, and so did I.

It had been ten years and this was the first time that I had openly asked them anything about how peculiar they were. I’m sure they knew that I was suspicious that they weren’t completely normal, but not once had I mention it. After the second year or so they had stopped lying about things, I had told Edward that I didn’t want the truth but that I would be damned if I would be lied to. So they stopped faking things around me: they stopped pretending to eat, they stopped pretending that they slept, and even that they needed toilet breaks. But for the first time in a decade I had voiced a question that broke my own rule. I wanted to know.

They all looked uncomfortable as Edward spoke from the corner, “Charlie, do you really want to know?”

I had to think hard about it, I mean really think about it. I was about to destroy ten years of carefully ignoring all of their weirdness. I straightened my shoulder and nodded. “You can tell me why, just don’t give me a lot of detail.”

Edward cleared his throat, “We don’t eat because we don’t need to, and because normal food doesn’t taste good to us... actually it tastes absolutely fowl.”

That wasn’t so bad; it made me understand them a bit better. After that realisation all the questions in my mind somehow found their way to my mouth. I think that after all this time I needed to know; at least know a little bit more.

Edward and Bella joined the others around the table. I would try to keep my questions general.

“How did you all become a family?”

They all waited for Edward to answer, it seemed like he would be the mouth piece.

“Carlisle found me when I was nearly dying, the same thing happened to Esme and Rosalie. Then Rosalie found Emmett as he was being attacked by a bear. Alice found Jasper and together they joined the family a few years later.” Edward’s voice was controlled and business like; I could tell that he was choosing his words very carefully.

“Why did Bella join your family?” I knew she joined the family by marrying Edward but I knew that he knew that I wasn’t referring to that.

Edward took a deep breath, “Well, we fell in love. I didn’t want her to become one of us, Charlie, but we couldn’t live without each other, so it was the only option. It had actually been decided even before we got married, I just didn’t want to accept it.”

I nodded. The information wasn’t too much, I could handle it. So the questions just kept rolling.

“Sometimes... I get the feeling that you know more than you let on, like you have a sixth sense or something, is there something to that or am I going crazy?”

Edward smiled, “No, you aren’t. But the answer to that question is a bit heavy. Are you sure you want to know?”

No, of course I wasn’t sure, but could I live ten more years without explanations? No. Again I nodded.

“Yes, I do know more than the usual person... I can read people’s minds.” He stopped to check how I would take it, but somehow knowing that Edward was a mind reader didn’t really surprise me. He must have thought that I was ok because he continued. “But I’m not the only one with er.. talents. Alice can see the future, and Jasper can feel and influence your emotions.”

Wow. Little Alice could see the future? That was amazing.

Edward looked perplexed but continued explaining, “And Bella...”

“What? Wait just a minute. Bella?” I had always felt that the Cullens were different in more ways than one but surely Bella couldn’t be different in that way.

Edward grinned, “Yes, Bella actually has one of the strongest gifts.” I saw Edward squeeze Bella’s hand to reassure her. “Her mind is remarkable. You see, she can keep people out of her thoughts; no one can enter her mind if she doesn’t want them to, but she can also protect the minds of others around her. For example, right now I can read your mind but if Bella was to shield you, my gift would be rendered useless.”

Ok, that one was a surprise. I swallowed and reined in my reaction. At least it explained so much, I was glad that I asked. I began to relax and so did the others around the table. Rosalie, Emmett and Alice were intently listening to the conversation. When I looked at Bella she tried to give me a reassuring smile. It worked, giving me more courage to continue my many questions.

“What about Nessie? How and why is she special?”

For some reason the question made Edward wince before answering. “Nessie was ummm... conceived before Bella became one of us, which meant that Nessie became a hybrid. She is very unique but there are others like her, Charlie. She has inherited some of my traits but she is actually a lot like you.”

Yes, I knew that Nessie was more like me than all the other Cullens but I still wanted to know why. I could feel my need-to-know-only policy slip through my fingers, but as much as I wanted to hold on to it, I couldn’t. I had opened Pandora’s Box, I couldn’t put anything back and in a way I didn’t want to. I wanted to know everything.

I took a deep breath, but before I could ask a question Edward looked at me apologetically and answered my thoughts. “I’m sorry, Charlie. That’s the one question that none of us can answer for you. What we are has to remain a secret, not only to protect us but also to protect you. The answers I gave you were allowed because they only reveal snippets of our nature- if you knew what we are the consequences could be fatal... we don’t want to deal with that again. I hope you understand.”

Of course I did, I didn’t want to cause them any trouble. I wouldn’t speculate anymore, I wouldn’t even think about it.

Edward gave me a grateful smile, “Thank you, Charlie.”

“Just one last question, for now at least... Why are you so rich?” The answer wasn’t really important but I was still intrigued.

Everyone around the table laughed, and Alice looked down at her hands as she answered.

“I’m afraid I got a little bit overexcited playing with the stock market one summer.” She said sheepishly.

I could only smile at her answer. The Cullens were fascinating, everything about them made you want to know more, and after ten years of being kept in the dark about their true nature I had finally allowed myself a glimpse at the light. I could tell that this was going to be a very interesting Christmas.