His bones felt like they belonged to a hundred-year-old man. He had felt like this every morning for the past two or so months and it was starting to get on his nerves.
His daughter came into the kitchen and he quickly changed his face, trying a smile but he wasn’t very good at any other than a slightly grumpy face. But still. He tried.
“How did you sleep?”, he asked.
“Oh… Good, good”, she said avoiding eye contact. He could tell that she was hiding something and was lying, after all he was a police man, but he guessed it wasn’t really his place to ask further questions. After all, having secrets was part of being a teenager. Maybe she had a crush or something…
“Do you want coffee?”
“No… I… Think tea is fine”
She was done making her cereal and sat down at the table while waiting for the water to boil. The kitchen was on the south side of the house but the always present clouds of Forks hid any sun that might still have existed. Not that you would notice here if it weren’t. He didn’t mind the gloominess of the town but he was worried about his daughter. She was used to much more sun and he was afraid that she might fall into a seasonal depression kind of thing. Doctor Cullen had warned him that something like this might happen. But maybe he was thinking too much again. But still…
“How are you feeling?”
“Oh. Good. Why?”
“Oh, well. I am your father. I want to know”
She let out a little laugh.
“Thank you. How are you feeling?”
“Oh, well… You know, I've felt so torn up every morning for the last weeks and as if I didn't get any sleep at all. But I’m probably just getting old, so nothing to worry about”
“Maybe you should go to Doctor Cullen?”
“Oh, I don’t know. No… I don’t want to waste his times. Or… What do you think?”
“I think you should go. It can’t hurt and he is a doctor. Listening to your worries and checking them is his job after all”
That made sense. And when even his daughter said that he should go to him than he perhaps really should, right?
“Maybe you’re right. I will give him a visit after work”
She nodded and continued to eat her breakfast. The morning remained relatively silent afterwards but Charlie didn’t mind that since that was always the case. Just a peaceful morning.
The rest of the day hadn’t been quite as peaceful however. The several attacks on the people were the number one priority at the precinct right now and it was boggling his and his colleague’s mind. They were all mostly occupied in finding that strange animal that was responsible for them but Charlie was also searching for something else. It seemed all so strange to him. The attack must have been by a great beast but no one had seen anything. The victims were all humans and there had been no founding of other animals with the same attack pattern signing them. But most importantly all the attacks occurred in widely different places. Animals had habitats and they attacked in those habitats. Of course, one occasionally would leave those in search of food but with a pattern. What kind of animal would go from into the woods, to a boat and then to a beach? Not to mention the other strange places. If he would be honest… It all pointed to an animalistic human and not a human-like animal.
After his immediate work had been done, he drove to one of the crime scenes again. The most recent one and the one that still hold the most pain for him. It was after all his friend that had died there. He had known all the victims but this one had been a lot tougher on him.
When he had arrived and could look at that boat again, he allowed himself to hold a little silence for him. After he was done, he sniffed a little and then went back to work.
He started at the boat but of course there was nothing significant to be found. If there had been, he would have had to held a serious talk with the crime scene preservers. But he had counted on that. Instead, he searched the dock and the area around it. But to no prevail. He didn’t even know what he was looking for but he wanted to find something. Either something that would point to an animal or something that pointed to a human. Just so his mind could finally rest and he knew what the hell he was even supposed to investigate.
An hour and a half later he crouched down to look under the same bush for the third time again. It wasn’t even very likely that he would find anything since it was a good twenty meters from the dock away but the hope was still there. This time he even laid down on his belly and looked at the most normal looking stone with extra care but again nothing. Not even a hair of an animal. He grunted and wanted to stand up again but he had forgotten in his frustration that he was still under the bush so he got a full shipment of little thorns in his face.
“Fucking hell!”, he shouted louder than it was excusable for the situation. Now that he finally had someone to put the blame on, he went on a full kicking match with that damn bush. After three minutes of kicking and stomping and cursing, he was completely out of breath but he felt better. He let one big sigh out, stretched bis back and looked up into the sky. The grey colour of the sky gave him an idea. He had looked almost everywhere but in the water. He also had never ordered it since he had thought until a week ago that an animal was to be blamed. It was worth a shot and he knew he wouldn’t be able to sleep well tonight if he couldn’t with utmost certainty say that there was nothing to be found down there. The thought of sleep reminded him. He looked at his watch. He already did overtime and by the time he would be done Doctor Cullen’s medical practice would be closed. He sighed again but a smaller one this time. More out of disappointment. He stopped himself in his thoughts. Disappointment? Why? Who liked to go to the doctor? He thought about it for a while but then decided that it was simply because talking with Doctor Cullen was always quite nice and he did want to ask him about this seasonal depression thing again. Just to be sure that he didn’t miss something. That too reminded him... He took his phone out and dialled the number of his house. Bella would need to know that he would come in late. He hoped that he wouldn’t make a habit out of that.
After the quick call with his daughter, he went back to the dock. But this time with more hope and determination than the three times before in the last hour and a half. And also, uncertainty because the tone in Bella’s voice had kind of sound like relief. She was a teenager and everyone needed their space (He knew that more than anyone) but still… It did hurt him as a father. Perhaps she was having a boy or a girl over? His first reaction was disapproval but when he pushed that feeling aside, he did not really see why she shouldn’t. That was of course after he had made sure that she knew everything on safe sex that there was to know because he was pretty sure that her mother’s advice on that had been (As a former Mormon) “Safe sex is when you do it in marriage”. He too had believed that once and that had led to him marrying her. He did not want Bella like him to make such an important decision as marrying just because she was… Having cravings.
He arrived at the boat again where the body had been found so he needed to switch one worry with another. He put one hand into the water. It was ice cold. Great… He undressed except for his underwear then took a deep breath and glided into the water. First, he noticed the terrible coldness that pierced into his flesh and very being like poisoned daggers but shortly afterwards he realised he couldn’t see shit. It was just too dark, the water too dirty and he didn’t even have goggles on and the river water already burned in his eyes. Maybe he should talk to some river specialists the days… He broke through the surface and quickly climbed back onto the dock again. He was shivering hard and his teeth were clattering. He dried himself of with his clothes and then put them on as quickly as he could. Now, he was cold, wet and not one bit smarter. At least he knew what he should do tomorrow…
Tomorrow… He woke up with a running nose, a headache and a sore throat. After Bella had pressed him to measure his body temperature, he also had to admit that he was having a fever. All in all, it was just great. He called at work to tell them that he would be coming in late. He also had thought about telling them to search the water but he didn’t want to cause a commotion when he hadn’t real evidence to present to his doubts and he was very much unsure if there was even something to be found. He greeted Bella off and then finally drove to Doctor Cullen’s medical practice. Maybe God really wanted him there…
He had called in before but he was told that he should just come and fair enough Doctor Cullen was able to talk to him immediately.
He sat down on one of the chairs and wanted to list of his symptoms and what he needed but before he could do that Doctor Cullen’s was standing right in front of him and was inspecting his face with a worried look.
“What did you do, Charlie?”, he asked in his usual calm mannered tone but true worry shined through. “May I?”, he asked and meant to touch his face.
Charlie was a little bit overblown with the situation and just nodded stoically and made some sounds that were supposed to assure agreement.
Carlisle put on some rubber gloves and began to inspect his face further. His cold fingers were touching him very carefully and almost not at all. It was actually a little bit tickly.
He finally let go and turned around to his shelf to get something.
“It wasn’t anything serious”, Charlie began to explain, “I just got caught in a thorny bush, that’s all”
“Hmm. Have you disinfected the wounds?”
“No… I forgot. I had other things to worry about”
Carlisle turned back to him again with a disinfectant spray bottle and some cotton pads.
“If you wouldn’t mind, I would like to do that now” He gave Charlie a kind smile. He nodded, whereupon Carlisle’s smile got a bit wider.
Carlisle took a stool on heels and placed himself in front of him. Charlie didn’t really know where to look when Doctor Cullen was so close in his face so he just stared at the bright ceiling. When making contact with the liquid the wounds hurt a little bit but it was more than manageable. And sooner over than he had thought.
“That’s all”, Carlisle proclaimed. Charlie looked back down again, thinking that Doctor Cullen had already stood up again but he hadn’t, so for a brief moment he locked eyes with him. It was sooner over than he could process it but for some reason those eyes were now ingrained to his brain. He shook his head in hopes of getting that image out of his head but that didn’t work.
“Oh, so bad?”, Doctor Cullen asked amused.
Charlie almost got a heart attack. Doctor Cullen didn’t know what was going on in his head, did he…? He instinctively had snatched his head to him but he was just peacefully taking off the rubber gloves and giving him an amused but not unfriendly look.
“What?”, Charlie asked. Not without a little panic in his voice.
“The disinfecting”, Doctor Cullen further explained.
Charlie let out a little sigh of relief in his head.
“Ah! No, no… It was fine”
He caustically looked up again to see if he was buying the lie but he didn’t even seem to think much about it. He wasn’t looking in his direction anymore and instead throwing away the cotton pads and rubber gloves.
When he turned back again, he took his seat behind the desk and gave him an expectant look.
“So…”, Charlie’s voice was still a little bit trembling so he cleared his throat and tried again. He explained his symptoms and while he was at it also his more persistent ones.
“Well. For the cold I could either prescribe some medicines that would mostly just suppress the symptoms or… And that would be the one I recommend as a doctor, stay in bed for a couple of days”
“I can’t. I have work to do”
“I know, Charlie. I think that is the problem. You are clearly overworking yourself. Then the stress and pressure to stop the series of death victims… Then of course the new home situation… I think it would be best if you would just relax for three days and I’m sure after that you will return with new energy” He ended it all with a reassuring smile. Charlie realised that Doctor Cullen was impressively good at smiles. Maybe he should ask him for tips… But for now, he should think about the one he just had given him.
“I don’t know, Doctor Cullen. If it were just a series of grave-flowers robbery, I perhaps would do that but… I really have to go back to work again”
“Might I ask how you even got this cold?”
Charlie couldn’t help but flush a little. “Well… I had to go diving a little” Carlisle let out a little laugh.
“Diving?! May I ask why?”
“Well…” Charlie hesitated a little since he normally wouldn’t talk about police work with civilians but Doctor Cullen was a very intelligent man. Perhaps he could even help him.
“I presume that what I’m going to say still falls under the Hippocratic oath?”
“Of course”, Doctor Cullen assured him with a smile playing around his mouth.
Charlie explained his theory and the situation it has caused him to land in. Very quickly the smile had disappeared and Doctor Cullen didn’t seem to be so amused after all. When Charlie had finished Doctor Cullen had placed his fingers over his mouth and was giving him a look that he couldn’t hold long.
“I see…”, Doctor Cullen finally said and let go of the cutting look by standing up and leaning on the desk on Charlie’s side, right next to him. He put his hands into the pockets of his coat.
“Your theory would change things drastically. But… I agree with you and I think I could help you”
“At least a little bit. To ensure my patients health. I could go search the water for you, so you can cure yourself out”
Charlie had thought that he would maybe suggest a lead or something but that proposal was out of question.
“I could never ask…”
“You don’t have to, since I offered. Please, Charlie. If what you are suggesting is true, then we need you at your best and right now your condition does not really allow that”
Charlie stuttered something but he couldn’t even produce a coherent thought. Did… Did Doctor Cullen really think so highly of him that he thought that he was that important to the success of the investigation? But still… It pained him to admit that but Doctor Cullen was a suspect just as everyone else in town if his theory held water. And he couldn’t just let him go and tamper some potential evidence.
“No! I can’t let you do that. I’m sorry, Doctor Cullen, but you might be a suspect so I can’t involve you in the investigation. I shouldn’t have even brought it up. That was on me”
He stood up and wanted to shake hand for the goodbye. Continuing on he said: “But I will take your advice and stay in bed for the next days until I feel better. I thank you for your time”
Carlisle was definitely surprised and actually more perplexed. But the perplexity turned quickly into a hearty laughter. He shook his proposed hand.
“Of course, Officer Swan. I wasn’t thinking of that and I am positively surprised with your integrity. I am glad I could be of help”
Charlie, not knowing how to react, answered with a firm nod. He had tried to avoid Doctor Cullen’s eyes but before he left, he dared to look at them again. They spoke of something that he couldn’t really understand and his inability to fully understand Doctor Cullen creeped him out and intrigued him at the same time.