Fandom: New Moon
Rating: PG 13
Word Count: 2712
Inspiration: New Moon, Chapter 4
Warnings: Mentions of attempted rape and abuse, language
Summary: Charlie Swan finds out about Bella's stunt in Port Angeles with Jessica, and is not happy.
Author's note: Mervin was talking about how Mrs.Stanley would have told Charlie that Bella did not go out with Jessica. I figured that Jessica would tell her mother about what Bella did, and she would tell Charlie.
Charlie Swan had to face the truth. He had failed as a parent. He'd been so excited to have his daughter come live with him that he had neglected to set rules for her. Up until the incident in Phoenix, Bella had been allowed to do whatever she wanted. Even after Charlie started setting a curfew, he usually looked the other way when Bella did something wrong. Charlie's friends down at the station had often gotten into discussions on how to raise their children. Did they leave the cop part at the station or not? Charlie knew he could get Bella to obey him without question if he acted like a cop, but he didn't want to seem like a tyrant. His friends talked about how their teenage daughters felt that they couldn't talk to them. Charlie wanted Bella to know that she could come to him no matter what.
There was also the fact that Charlie didn't know his daughter. She might as well have been a stranger to him. He'd missed so much of her life as she grew up. Bella hated Forks, and Charlie couldn't always afford to come visit her. Contact between them was sporadic, and Bella always seemed like she couldn't wait to get off the phone. Dealing with a heartbroken teenage girl was hard enough, but it was especially difficult when it was Charlie's own daughter .Seeing Bella reminded him of how devastated he'd been when Renee had left. There was no note or discussion; she'd just up and left with his daughter in the middle of the night. Even though Charlie had made peace with Renee, he still felt a trace of anger at the memory. Did Renee even consider talking to him? Did she think he wouldn't have tried to work something out? No, Renee just took his daughter and left. Charlie had lost the two most important people in his life. Every little thing reminded him of his family. He felt like he couldn't breathe and there was this pain in his chest. But Charlie got over it. Harry and Billy were there, encouraging him and listening to him. The people of Forks depended on him, and he was still going to pay child support for Bella no matter what. He had too many responsibilities to roll over and die .It got to be that he could see something that reminded him of Renee or Bella and he wouldn't feel crushing sadness.
But Bella wasn't moving on. She'd tossed aside all reminders of Edward and had stopped living. Charlie had tried to reason with her, but Bella had just dismissed him. No doubt she thought that Charlie just didn't understand her pain. There was another aspect that worried Charlie. Edward was abusive. He'd asked Bella a few questions after the incident in Phoenix, but Bella had begged him to drop it and he did. Instead of being a good cop and father, he just let it go. Having his teenage daughter mad at him wasn't worth it. That was his mistake. He'd been so desperate to be his daughter's friend that he'd ignored how wrong the relationship was. But Bella was like those girls he'd talked to down at the station. They didn't understand that their boyfriends abused them; it was all for love. There really should be more emphasis on emotional and verbal abuse. But society tended to focus on physical abuse, so it was entirely possible that people weren't aware they were being abused. Maybe then Bella would have realized the truth behind Edward's "teasing" remarks. Charlie hadn't missed how Bella seemed to have no backbone when it came to Edward. It was because of Edward's abusive behavior that Charlie was researching support groups for abusive relationships in Florida. Bella was wasting away in Forks. Maybe Renee could help her. Bella had pitched a fit when Charlie suggested she go to Florida, but enough was enough. He was giving Bella one last chance to come to her senses and quit moping, or he was shipping her back to Renee. And if Bella tried any of that she was an adult bullshit, he'd remind her that she lived under his roof and did not contribute. It was about respect, anyway. Anyone living under his roof had to abide by his rules.
Charlie jumped as the shrill ringing of the phone pierced the air. He got up to answer it. "Hello?" he asked.
"Chief Swan? This is Mrs. Stanley." Charlie could hear the anger in her voice and wondered what the matter was. "Yes, Mrs. Stanley? What can I do for you?"
"It's about our daughters."
Instantly Charlie was on the alert. How sad was it that he had to get news about his daughter via one of her classmate's parents?
"Bella went out with Jessica to see a movie. Jessica says that Bella tried to go into a bar and approached suspicious-looking men."
Charlie paused as he tried to comprehend the sentence. He was aware that Mrs. Stanley was still talking and made an effort to listen. As he did, his horror and anger increased. Mrs. Stanley continued her rant."Do you have any idea how frightened Jessica was? Bella kept on walking towards them and completely ignored my daughter! Suppose they had been raped and killed? What's worse is that Bella didn't even apologize. In fact I'm not sure she even realizes she did something wrong. I don't want your daughter anywhere near mine, do you understand? I know that Bella just went through a breakup and that's very sad, but that does not give her the right to endanger others."
"I'll speak to Bella, Mrs. Stanley. I'm so sorry." Charlie hung up the phone and tried to focus. His head was spinning. Bella couldn't have done something so stupid, could she? How could he not have noticed her self-destructive behavior? Anger welled up inside of him. Enough was enough. Bella had gone too far and it was time to set her straight. What the hell was she thinking pulling this stunt? What's worse is that she had endangered another girl as well.
Charlie stormed up the stairs and banged open the door to Bella's room. She was sprawled on the bed in a dramatic woe-is-me pose, and that made his anger sky-rocket even more. "Isabella Marie Swan!" he barked. Bella started and turned to look at him.
"Yes ,Dad?" she asked. She sounded so lifeless.
"I just got an interesting call from Mrs. Stanley. She says you and Jessica went out to the movies and you tried to approach sleazy-looking guys at a bar." Bella showed some life then. An indignant expression sprang to her face. "She's making it up." she said sulkily.
Charlie raised an eyebrow. "Really? I find it hard to believe that a grown woman with a job and daughter would make up rumors about a teenage girl."
Bella floundered for another excuse. "Well, okay, I did try to approach some guys, but it wasn't like Jessica or Mrs. Stanley said! I thought I knew them from somewhere!"
"Where would you know them from, Bella?" Charlie demanded. Bella didn't say anything. She was trying to do a staring contest in the hopes that he would back down. That wasn't going to work. He was a cop; he'd interrogated more intimidating perps that his daughter. He stared at her in return, shifting his expression subtly. His tone was reasonable as he asked again, "How did you know those men, Bella?"
Words poured out of Bella's mouth. "Remember when I went shopping in Port Angeles with Jessica and Angela? Well I got cornered by these four men and they were going to attack me, but Edward saved me." Charlie was dumbfounded. Bella had nearly been raped before? Why the hell was he now just finding out about it? What else had Bella kept from him? But then the horror and anger washed over Charlie anew. Bella had tried to approach people she thought were rapists. Charlie exploded.
"ARE YOU FUCKING INSANE, BELLA?" he boomed. "What the hell possessed you to approach people you thought had tried to rape you? You should have gotten away as fast as possible! What's worse is that you dragged Jessica into it!"
"I-I just wanted a closer look," Bella stuttered. But she wilted under Charlie's stare and answered. "I thought that Edward might save me," she mumbled.
"How the hell could Edward have saved you? He hasn't been in contact for months! For all you now he could be in Siberia!"
"Edward always knows when I'm in trouble. And then I heard his voice-"
Charlie interrupted Bella then. "What do you mean you heard his voice?"
"I mean I heard Edward's voice. He told me to get away from the men."
Well, the situation was worse than Charlie had thought. Bella was now having auditory hallucinations. If she was willing to walk up to potential rapists just so she could reenact a fantasy of Edward saving her, then Forks was no longer a safe place for her. Florida it was, then.
"You're going to Florida, Bella," Charlie said.
Bella scrunched up her face in confusion. "I already said I wasn't."
"And I'm saying that you are!" Charlie snapped.
"Dad, I'm eighteen, you can't boss me around!" Bella whined.
"Then start acting like an eighteen year old girl! You can't pull the “I’m an adult card” just because the system legally recognized you as an adult as of a few months ago. You've done nothing to prove that you are a mature adult."
Bella spluttered with indignation. "I cook, I clean for you! I've been a model daughter ever since Edward left me-"
Bella's martyr rant was cut off by Charlie's disdainful laughter. "Yes, Bella, it's such a task for you to put spaghetti on to boil and dump a pan of sauce onto it. I'm quite capable of cooking myself. I've lived by myself for the past seventeen years; I couldn't survive on take out and frozen dinners for that long."
"Then why did you allow me to make your meals?" Bella was gaping like a goldfish.
Charlie shrugged. "You didn't seem to think me capable of cooking, and if I tried to help, you would push me aside and act like you were doing this huge favor. I let it continue because cooking seemed to make you feel useful. That's another thing you'll have to talk to your psychiatrist about."
"I'm not going to see a psychiatrist!" Bella yelled. "I don't need to! I'm not crazy, I'll do better, I'll-"
"That's enough, Bella." The next few words were difficult for Charlie to say. "I've watched you self-destruct for the past for months. I thought that you would get better. I went through a rough period myself after your mother left me, but I pulled through. I kept hoping that you would pull through. Every day I prayed that you would wake up and realize that the little prick wasn't worth your tears. You wouldn't eat, you suffered from nightmares, you alienated all your friends, and I just watched. I'm sorry that I failed you as a parent, Bella. I shouldn't have waited so long to get you help."
"It's okay." Bella tried to brush off Charlie's speech, but she wasn't getting off that easily.
"No, Bella, it's not okay. I let this behavior continue for too long. But tonight you tried to approach who you thought were rapists. What if they had been? Did you even stop to think about how your mother and I would feel if you had been raped and killed? Did you think about how guilty Jessica would feel because she hadn't been able to prevent it? Suppose Jessica had been raped and murdered as well? Do you even care about how her family would feel? I'm tired of you being so self-absorbed just because your boyfriend of a few months dumped you. Move on, Bella! I've given you a chance to finally get on with life, and you blew it. So like I said, it's Florida and counseling for you."
"But I don't need to go!" Bella wailed. "It was just a misunderstanding!"
Charlie ignored Bella's protests. "You will be moving to Florida just as soon as I verify the arrangements with Renee. You should be aware that she is quite capable of taking care of herself and will not put up with your patronizing attitude any longer. You will be going to counseling. Let's see, you can talk about your abusive boyfriend, your suicidal tendencies, your depression, your tendency to make your mother and me out to be completely incompetent so you can step in and feel better about yourself. I'd better write this down so I don't forget to give it to Renee. Second of all, you're getting tutoring when you go down to Florida. Your school called. Seems like you've been a zombie there as well. You constantly misinterpret the work and twist it to relate to your break-up with Edward. You will also be doing some volunteer work. See what real problems are, Bella. These people went through a lot more than you did, and they didn't just curl up and die. I'll have to tell Renee to find some strenuous volunteer work so you can learn the value of hard work and helping your fellow man. Renee will be giving me reports of your progress. Am I clear?"
Bella looked like she had lost the ability to talk. As Charlie went to close the door, she came to life. Her martyr face was in place, and Charlie knew that she was about to try one of her passive-aggressive stunts to get out of this. Not this time. Charlie was finally disciplining his daughter and he was not going to be moved by false promises.
"So I see how it is," Bella said quietly. "You don't want to handle me anymore, so you dump me. I'm damaged goods. I went out like you told me to, and you're abandoning me. I don't get you, Dad."
"Bella, you think I don't know that you had no interest in going out with Jessica tonight? You seem to be unaware that people know that you're just using them to fulfill your desires. You will apologize to Jessica before you leave. I'm not doing this because I'm sick of you, Bella. You’re my little girl, and I will always love you. But the way you've been acting is unacceptable and I don't like you very much right now. And as much as it pains me to admit it, I can't help you. Forks is a bad place for you right now. Everything here you associate with Edward. And if you nearly got raped once and tried to reenact it, who knows what else you might do? Florida's a place where you can start fresh. You should consider yourself lucky I'm not making you move out into the real world. A girl who hasn't passed high school and acts like a zombie as well as having some mental issues wouldn't make it very far."
Charlie turned to leave, and then he stopped. "I love you, Bella. I've watched girls throw their lives away for some prick, and I'll be damned if I let my own daughter do it. You need to get your life turned around. One day you're going to wake up and realize how stupid you were acting, and your mom and I will be there when you finally realize that we love you." Bella didn't say anything, and Charlie turned to go. He sagged against the wall, emotionally spent. For the first time in a long time, he'd acted like a parent. He should have done so sooner, but he wasn't going to make that mistake again. Bella was going to get the help she needed.