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stitches and introductions

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———

 

Charlie winces as he drinks his stone cold coffee from a chipped mug on his desk. Bella had painted it at Billy’s house one summer, visibly bored with the football Charlie and Billy had been watching. 

 

He remembers how uncomfortable he had felt, sweat gathering in the pits of his shirt. Not knowing what to say to her. Then, six year old Jacob had stumbled out of his bedroom with a painting kit and two blank ceramic mugs. Apparently, it had been a gift, and he was eager to share with his friend. Charlie remembers how Bella’s pointed little face had softened in mild interest at the prospect of doing something other than sit on a couch with her old man. 

 

Tiredly, Charlie sighs and leans back in his lumpy office chair. He never knew what to do with Bella, both of them equally awkward and taciturn. Despite this, he hopes she knows how much he loves her. 

 

He’s the only one left at the office, weak lamplight illuminating the backlogged files he’s sorting through. 

 

Gotta get to the boxes next. 

 

———

 

Stupid. A fucking box cutter. He’s a professional cop goddammit. Bested by a box cutter. Not even in the line of duty. Tiredly, Charlie sighs and presses the gauze tighter to his sliced hand as he waits in the irritating fluorescent lights for old Dr. Brighten to give him a few perfunctory stitches. The emergency room bed has one of those scratchy white papers covering the cracked vinyl. It rustles as Charlie shifts uncomfortably. 

 

Jesus. How much longer does he have to wait? He wants to go home and catch the game. Drink a beer. Not think about anything. 

 

The door rattles gently, and a man slips into the room. Charlie’s mind is static and it takes him a few moments to realize his breath has stopped. Jesus fucking Christ that’s a beautiful man. 

 

“Uh,” he chokes.

 

“Good evening, my name is Dr. Cullen. May I see your hand please?” His polite voice is silky.

 

“You. You aren’t Dr. Brighten,” is the brilliant response he comes up with.

 

“Dr. Brighten recently retired and my family and I were looking to relocate to the Pacific NorthWest. Fate was kind to us. You are the police chief, if I am not mistaken? Chief Swan?” His sincere eyes are a curious color. The man reaches out and gently pulls the gauze away from his cut, fingers unnaturally cool. 

 

“Charlie. Everybody calls me Charlie. I think my daughter even does it behind my back.” Vaughly, Charlie hopes he won’t have to check his blood pressure or anything. 

 

He does. Fuck me. 

 

———

 

Charlie does some not so subtle digging into this new family, by awkwardly grilling Cora at the diner next Thursday. Thankfully, Cora is never one to skimp on the details. And there is precious little else to talk about in Forks. 

 

“Came from Alaska. Can you imagine? That Dr. Cullen looks so young too! And he and his wife foster all those kids. They must have large hearts,” Cora talks eagerly, hovering nearby waiting to refill Charlie’s coffee as he chews thoughtfully on his berry cobbler. 

 

“Odd place to move to. Forks.” I guess Alaska is an odd place to live too. He supposes. Charlie knows fuck all about Alaska. 

 

He listens closely, pretending not to, as Cora waxes poetic about the Cullen family members. Charlie rationalizes that he’s just curious about new folks in town. Afterall, he’s the police chief. Protect and serve and all that. 

 

———

 

The day is gloomy and misty. Tepid sunlight filters through the dense clouds, barely illuminating the babbling stream in front of him. Charlie grips his warm travel mug and sighs, his fingers still too frigid to bait his hook yet. It had been a long week. But this. Being out in the forest. Fishing. It’s working out the knots in his shoulders better than a massage. 

 

Suddenly, he can feel the prickle of a pair of eyes watching him on the back of his neck. Quickly, his gaze cuts to the woods and he sees. He sees the new doctor. What the fuck.  

 

The man is standing still in the shadow of a large fir tree, blonde head cocked as he watches Charlie. 

 

“Forgive me. The location of my new home is close by and I was doing some surveying. I did not mean to intrude.” Charlie is still trying to calm his racing heart. 

 

“New house?” Another brilliant repartee. 

 

“Yes. My wife is enamored with the idea of crafting our own home.” His face softens into a smile. Fucking hell, you aren’t gay, Charlie chides himself. 

 

“Well. That sounds. Nice.” Apparently, he can’t form one fucking sentence without being an awkward son of a bitch. 

 

“I have every reason to believe that it will be incredibly nice. My wife, Esme, has a knack for design,” he seems to not mind Charlie’s stilted words. “Well, I won’t keep you from your Saturday. It was very nice to see you again, Chief Swan.”

 

“Yah. Uh. You too, Dr. Cullen.” The man spares him a fleeting smile before he melts into the shadows. 

 

Charlie’s fingers are warm enough to bait his hook now. In fact, his whole body feels warm: cheeks hot and temples damp. 

 

———