Leaving Behind the Rain
AU - Renee hates Forks. She takes her baby and leaves. This is the story of what Bella's teenage years would have been like if Charlie had followed them.
Disclaimer: This is fan fiction.
3. Chapter 2
Rating 3.7/5 Word Count 2512 Review this Chapter
Getting a chance to talk to Billy Black was a lot more difficult than Bella had expected it to be. Most Sundays found the Swan family at First Beach, where Billy, Charlie, Alex, and Jacob went fishing, and the womenfolk played Frisbee or visited the tidepools, or just sat around a fire pit talking. However, something fundamental had changed, and Bella was acutely aware of it. Charlie and Billy were no longer on speaking terms.
It was the last day of summer vacation, and Renee and Alex, oblivious, had dressed for a day at the beach – sandals, bathing suits, raincoats. But Bella didn’t bother. Four days had gone by since the party, and Uncle Billy hadn’t called the house once. In all her life, she didn’t think Charlie and Billy had gone more than a day without talking. They’d been best friends for so long that Billy’s girls were like older cousins to her – Jacob, being Alex’s age, was like a second little brother. A world in which Charlie and Billy did not speak was a strange world, indeed.
Luck, however, was with her. Alex and Jacob were every bit as inseparable as their fathers had been, and it wasn’t long before her brother was whining about not seeing his best friend. Bella rarely got such an opportunity. “Well, I could drive him over there,” she offered quietly as Charlie and Renee discussed why, exactly, their weekly beach trip was cancelled.
They both looked up. Bella had a learner’s permit, but couldn’t take her driving test until after her birthday – which was only three weeks away. She knew her dad was a stickler for the rules, but this would be a good gauge of just how angry he was with Uncle Billy. If he let her drive over there instead of going himself, he was very, very angry.
“I think that’s the perfect solution,” Renee declared after a moment, though her expression made it clear that she thought no such thing. Her weekly outing was ruined.
“Then, maybe you and Dad can go do something fun,” Bella offered quickly. “Isn’t there a movie you want to see playing in Port Angeles or something?”
Renee latched onto this idea with enthusiasm, as Bella had known she would, but Bella kept her eyes on her dad. He looked – cornered. But of course, he wasn’t, quite. He could say no, and make them ALL go to the movie, and Alex would pipe down. But if he REALLY wanted to send a message to Billy, sending Bella and Alex over alone would do it, and Bella suspected that would be the deciding factor. She knew her father very well. She wasn’t often wrong.
Alex all but bounced in his seat all the way to La Push. He didn’t start being truly obnoxious until they passed Newton’s Outfitters, but Bella threatened to drop him off there instead of at the Blacks’ and he calmed right down. “Why do you hate Mike, anyway?” Bella asked, still irritated.
“I don’t hate him!” Alex sounded offended. “I just don’t get why you like him.”
Bella rolled her eyes. “And I don’t understand what you like about that girl in the pin-up that you keep on the inside of your closet door, but I don’t make rude comments about that.” Alex’s face took on an expression of worry, then. If his mother ever found that –
“Don’t worry,” Bella assured him, laughing, “I caught Dad looking at it, so I think your secret is fairly safe. At least, as long as you don’t start telling Mike Newton anything you shouldn’t,” she added darkly.
“Sure, sure,” Alex replied, clearly sulking, and Bella laughed.
Alex and Jacob disappeared into the woods almost the moment Bella stopped the car, though Jake did have the decency to at least say hello, which was more than Alex generally did when Rachel or Rebecca dropped Jacob off at the Swan residence.
Bella watched them go for a moment and then let herself into the house. “Uncle Billy?” she called. She didn’t need to be very loud. It was a small house.
“Oh, hello, Bella,” Billy said warmly, rolling his wheelchair into the room from the kitchen. “I wasn’t expecting you.” He paused for a moment as she pulled out Jacob’s chair at the table and sat down. “Are your parents here?”
Bella hadn’t been looking forward to this part. She shook her head. “No, I brought Alex because he wanted to see Jake,” she admitted, watching as Billy’s face seemed to close off. It obviously hurt his feelings that Charlie hadn’t come himself. “And I volunteered because I wanted to find out what’s going on,” she admitted after a moment, ducking her head guiltily and looking up at him. His daughters always did the same thing, and Bella got the same response they always got. Billy grinned at her suddenly.
“That so? And what makes you think anything’s going on?”
“Oh, come on! Sue helped plan that party for the Cullens and then backed out – you didn’t show either, and Dad was annoyed about it when we got there, I could tell. What’s up?”
Billy’s easy manner fell away, and for a moment, Bella saw Chief Billy. Chief Billy was what she’d always called him in her mind on the nights they all gathered around the bonfire out on the beach - once or twice a year - to tell stories. Sometimes Old Quil even did a chant. As a child, she’d usually fallen asleep shortly after the chanting began. It was, in turns, relaxing and exciting. But they didn’t do that so much these days. Mostly they just told the tribal legends and ate a lot. She’d had her first kiss at one of those bonfires just a year previous, with a boy named Jared, who was at least a year older than her. And though nothing much had come of it, she still blushed hotly every time she saw him.
Chief Billy was looking at her as if he knew perfectly well what titles she gave him in her head. “Please?” she asked. “It has to be something important. You and Charlie never fight.” She didn’t often call her dad by his first name, but once in a while, in talking to Uncle Billy, she did. It somehow made her feel more grown up. But hearing it melted some of the seriousness in Billy’s eyes, and he sighed and rolled himself forward until he was right across the table from her.
“Bella, Charlie is angry with me because I told him that no Quileute is going to set foot in Forks hospital while Carlisle Cullen is a doctor there,” he admitted finally. Bella felt her brow furrow.
“But, why not? From all accounts, he’s an excellent doctor – Sue even told Mom that he’s come more highly recommended than anyone she’s ever met!” She watched him shift uncomfortably in his chair. “Is your back bothering you?” she asked immediately, but Billy waved her off. He didn’t like to be coddled.
“No, just my conscience,” he muttered, and Bella didn’t think she was supposed to hear.
“I don’t understand.”
“I – WE – don’t feel that the Cullens are ... safe to be around. I would feel a lot less anxious if you stayed away from them as well.”
Bella laughed. “Sure, Billy. I’ll find some way to stay out of the ER, just for you. Though, I don’t think I’ve ever gone more than two weeks without –“
“This isn’t funny, Isabella.”
Bella stopped talking. Uncle Billy never called her Isabella. Or, at least, he hadn’t since she was a child and he’d had to watch her, and even then it had only been when she was particularly bad.
“If you want me to take this seriously, you’ll have to tell me why you don’t like the Cullens,” Bella said after a moment, leaning back in her chair and crossing her arms over her chest.
Bella was still sitting in the same attitude twenty minutes later when Alex and Jacob burst through the door, dripping with rain water and tracking in mud. She didn’t even bother to take her eyes off of Billy while they got drinks and went back out into the pouring rain.
“Are you okay, Bella?” Jacob asked, his hand falling on her shoulder as he passed. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.” Bella shook her head.
She heard Alex huff and mutter something that sounded suspiciously like, “Spacing out over Mikey again,” but she couldn’t focus on that. She was still wrapping her mind around what Billy had just told her. Of course, she’d heard the legends. You can’t spend half your time on the res and not hear them. But to think they might be true....she couldn’t make herself believe it. And yet, she couldn’t completely dismiss it, either. She remembered plainly how strange they’d all been. Inhumanly beautiful, they seemed to her now. Also, she could never remember a time when Billy had lied to her.
When the door had closed behind the boys again, Billy leaned toward her. “You understand that the treaty prohibits me from telling you this. If they discover that you know, there could be a very big problem. The tribe has too few protectors right now.”
Bella squinted. “You mean – the werewolves are real, too?!”
Billy sat back with a smug expression. “I saw my grandfather transform. It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. The last time was when I was just about your age. He was feeble, by then, though not so bad off as I am these days,” he gestured to his legs and his tone turned wistful. “His fur was silvery with only a little brown to show what color he’d been in his youth, but in that form, he was powerful again. Huge. He let me touch his ears –“ Billy broke off, reliving the memory with wonder in his eyes, and in that instant Bella knew she believed him. Every single thing he’d said. She believed it with all her heart.
“They’re all going to be in school tomorrow!” she shrieked, jumping up from the table so quickly she knocked over her chair. She righted it with shaking hands. “Billy! What am I going to do?!”
Chief Billy made another appearance as he straightened his back and pinned her with shrewd eyes. “You’ll go to school, Bella Swan, and you’ll do your homework,” he said quietly, for all the world as if she were some hoodlum who didn’t get A’s on everything. As if this weren’t a discussion about vampires and werewolves, but just the scolding of an insolent little girl who didn’t want to write her English essays. And Bella laughed. “And you won’t mention a word of this to your father,” he added, when he was sure she was able to deal with this without going into hysterics.
Bella sobered. “No, I won’t. But you need to tell him you’re sorry for whatever you said about Dr. Cullen. You should tell him –“
“I can’t tell him anything. You are a horrible liar, Bella, but your father is worse. You will go to school and ignore them, just like the other students will do, instinctively. They will never know the difference. But your father has to deal with ER doctors all the time, and we both know he would tell, thinking it to be some silly legend that I’d attached to the Cullens unfairly. Also, I’m fairly certain the leader – the doctor – is safe. It’s the others I can’t be sure of – the ones who weren’t with them last time. And those are the ones you’ll be dealing with at school, so it’s best you know. I can’t justify sending you to meet them without any warning.” Billy’s expression was tender, and she recognized it. She thought of it as the ‘you’re family’ expression, because he’d once said that to her, with just such a look on his face. If she remembered right, she’d been bleeding all over his couch that day, and crying more because she felt guilty for ruining the couch than because the injury hurt.
“Thanks for telling me. It’s all – it’s so incredible. If I hadn’t seen them for myself, I don’t think I’d be able to believe.”
Billy nodded in understanding. It WAS rather unbelievable.
When Jacob and Alex had finally used up all the daylight doing whatever it was they did all day, they threw the door open again and came bounding in, calling goodbye to some of their other friends. Billy was in the middle of telling one of the legends Bella had heard many times before, and she was sitting at the table, with her chin in her hands and her eyes closed. The boys immediately quieted down and took a seat on either side of her to listen to the end of the story. Chief Billy’s voice had that effect on people.
When the story was finished, Bella smiled and opened her eyes. “And now, I think you should call Charlie and convince him that we need to stay for dinner, and that he really needs to bring us a pizza,” she said with a smile. “You don’t have to tell him anything but that you’re sorry. He’ll get over it,” she assured him when he hesitated. For a moment his eyes tightened, and she wondered if he would be too proud to be the one to apologize. But an instant later, he headed off toward the kitchen.
“Yes!” Alex hissed. “Bells, you’re the best.” He punched her lightly on the arm and she tried not to wince. He was growing up, and the punching wasn’t quite as harmless as it had been when he was six.
“Yeah, Bells, you’re the best,” Jacob echoed, standing up to wrap his arm around her shoulders quickly and squeezing her for an instant. Alex started coughing abruptly and he released her.
“Oh, Jake!” Bella said, and then she DID wince. He’d had mud somewhere in the vicinity of his wrist, and now it was all over her shoulder. “Why don’t you two go get cleaned up before Dad gets here?” she asked pointedly, while Alex laughed. Honestly the two of them got weirder every year.
They ran the few steps to the narrow hallway and collided, laughing, as they struggled to determine who would get to the bathroom first. Alex won, shoving Jacob into a wall with a thud, and then a door closed, and the house went quiet again. Bella sat, thinking over all that she’d learned as she waited for her parents to show up. Tomorrow was going to be an interesting day, for certain. And NOT just because she’d get to see Mike again, although, she found that was getting a more prominent place in her thoughts than really made sense, considering who else she would see in school the next day.