Forks was a quiet town.
It was small. There wasn’t much crime. Everyone knew each other, and they had access to places to shop and go to the beach. It was a good gig for a police chief, and a good place to raise a child.
Charlie Swan’s child was 1,500 miles away from Forks, Washington.
The town’s newest doctor, on the other hand, had no shortage of children. He, his wife, and his four children had moved to Forks from Alaska only a few months prior. In that time, another boy had joined their family. He was blond, slim, and just barely older than the others.
Although it embarrassed him to say it now, Charlie had expected trouble out of the Cullens when they arrived. The doctor and his wife were both young, and five adopted kids was a lot for anyone to handle. The trouble he’d expected never arrived. The kids were polite, and they clearly adored Carlisle and Esme. Carlisle was an excellent physician, and it surprised Charlie that he’d settle in a town like Forks.
“Esme likes small towns,” was his only explanation, given with a small polite smile.
So when Carlisle Cullen walked into the police station, Charlie’s first though was that he’d left something at the hospital while filling out an incident report for a wreck earlier in the week. He didn’t notice the look on Carlisle’s face or think anything of the two teenage boys on his heels.
“Hey, doc,” Charlie greeted. “What can I do for you?”
Charlie looked up from his desk when Carlisle didn't respond. The doctor was white-faced—even more so than usual—and sweating. His mouth was open, but no sound came out.
“You feeling alr-“
“My brother,” Edward interrupted. “My little brother Emmett. We can’t find him.”
“When’d you see him last?” Charlie asked, grabbing a pen.
“When he left for school this morning,” Carlisle said. “He usually gets off the bus at four, but he didn’t. Esme called me at 4:30. We called the school. He was in class, but he didn’t get on the bus.”
“How old is he?” Charlie asked. “Thirteen?”
“Does he have a cell phone?” Charlie said.
Carlisle shook his head.
“Is someone at home in case he shows up?” Charlie asked.
“Rosalie and Alice,” Carlisle said. “Esme and Jasper are still driving around looking.”
It was past six now, and no one had laid eyes on Emmett since three. The only missing children in Charlie’s experience had been teenagers who stayed out too late and fell asleep. Already, this didn’t match that, and the look on Carlisle’s face had Charlie’s gut churning.
“Here’s what we’re gonna do,” Charlie said. “I’m going to put every officer we’ve got out there with a picture of your boy. I’ll go by the houses of all the teachers down at the middle school and see who saw him leave. You check in with your family and keep looking in the places you think Emmett might go.”
“Can I ride with you?” Edward asked. “If you find Emmett first, he might be scared if it’s just you. He knows me.”
“It’s alright with me if it’s alright with your dad,” Charlie said. Carlisle nodded.
The closest teacher’s home was only a few minutes away, but the silence in the cruiser became tense immediately. Edward fidgeted with his fingers, taping out rhythms on an imaginary keyboard, and bounced his leg.
“Do you have kids, Chief Swan?” Edward asked suddenly.
“Yeah, just one,” Charlie said. “She lives in Phoenix with her mother.”
“How old is she?”
“Fourteen,” Charlie said. “She comes to visit in the summers.”
“Same age as me,” Edward said.
Charlie glanced at him out of the corner of his eye. Edward certainly didn’t seem fourteen. He was lean, but tall for his age. His face was definitely young, but he had a certain ageless quality that Charlie couldn’t quite pinpoint. Even nervous and fidgeting, he held himself more like a man than a boy.
“Edward, you don’t know of any reason your brother would run off, do you?” Charlie asked. The concerto Edward was tapping out on his knees picked up the tempo.
“Chief Swan, you know we’re all adopted, right?” Edward said. “Well, Alice and Jasper are foster kids technically. None of us are biologically related, but we’re still a real family.”
Charlie made an affirmative noise.
“We’ve got good parents. Better than any of us could have hoped for really,” Edward said. “But… there’s just this feeling. Like you’re missing something inside and that’s why your first parents didn’t want you. I wasn’t even two when Mom and Dad adopted me, so I don’t feel it as much as the others. Emmett was older though. He remembers stuff before us. He remembers his mom leaving him. He has six biological older brothers. Five of them were over eighteen when his mom left him, but they wouldn’t take him.”
Charlie flinched. He hadn’t ever spoken to Emmett much, but he seemed like a good kid. A little rowdy, but he had big, dark eyes that reminded the police chief too much of his own child.
“He found an email address for one of his brothers last week,” Edward confessed. “He hadn’t spoken to any of them in a year. He never said if he got a response, but he’s been acting weird.”
“What’s his brother’s name?” Charlie asked. His gut twisted harder.
“Spencer McCarty,” Edward said.
They were in a teacher’s driveway now. Charlie called back to the station and made a request that someone get him an address for Spencer McCarty. By the time three teachers confirmed that they hadn’t seen Emmett leave school, they had the address.
Charlie was hesitant to stop hunting down the teachers, but it was getting him nowhere. Now he had to decide whether to take the time to find Carlisle and leave Edward with him or to risk Edward seeing something he shouldn’t. In the end, the decision was made for him by a curly-haired lump on the side of the road. Edward was out of the car before it was even fully stopped.
“Emmett? Emmett!” the fourteen year old said, shaking his brother by the shoulder. Charlie’s heart skipped a beat in relief when the preteen stirred.
“Ed, ‘m awake,” Emmett said. "Stop it." Edward frowned at his slurring.
“Are you drunk?” Edward said. Emmett shook his head furiously and then looked dizzy.
“Spencer was drinking beer, but I just had Coke,” he promised. “I started feeling weird, so he said he’d take me home. He didn’t go all the way though.”
“Was it Coke out of a can or out of a glass?” Charlie asked, squatting down next to the preteen. He reached out and tilted his head to get a look at Emmett’s pupils. Emmett pulled away from him and leaned on Edward. “Emmett, buddy, I know you don’t feel good, but this is important. Did you open a can or did he give it to you already open?”
“I don’t remember,” Emmett said.
“You think he drugged him?” Edward said. Charlie didn’t have to say anything. “What kind of sick fuck drugs their kid brother? I’m going to kill him.”
“No, you’re going to call your dad,” Charlie said, “so we can take your kid brother to the hospital.”
Emmett was still leaning on Edward, so the fourteen year old helped his little brother to his feet and into the backseat. Emmett sprawled across the seat to stay attached to the older boy. Edward held on to him and smoothed down his hair. When Charlie turned on the sirens, both boys startled, although Emmett's reaction was considerably muted.
“I’m going to call Dad, okay, Emmett?” Edward said. “I need to let him know you’re alright.”
Emmett made a drowsy affirmative noise as Edward fished his phone out of his pocket.
“Dad?” Edward said. Charlie could only hear one side of the conversation, and he couldn’t imagine how Dr. Cullen must be feeling. “Dad, we’ve got Emmett. Chief Swan is driving us to the hospital.” A pause. “Spencer gave him something. I don’t think he’s hurt though. Spencer McCarty.” Another pause, longer this time. “He’s okay, Dad. Here, talk to him.”
Edward shoved his phone down by Emmett’s face.
“Papa?” Emmett ventured cautiously. “I feel funny.”
Charlie tried to imagine getting a phone call like that from his own child. At twelve, Bella had been shooting up, coltishly long limbs and skinny legs. That was when she’d gotten really clumsy. When she spent the summer with him, she’d broken her arm falling off her bike. It scared the shit out of Charlie, and it took three hours to convince Renee to let her finish the visit.
Carlisle and Esme beat them to the hospital. The Cullens were in full force, three kids pressing forward to get a look at their youngest brother. Carlisle pushed his way to the front to help Charlie get Emmett out of the car. Edward climbed out after him and went straight to his mother. Esme pulled him close, and Edward put his head on her shoulder.
For a small town, Forks had an efficient hospital. If the nurses were surprised to see Charlie and the Cullen storming the hospital, they didn’t show it. They got Emmett into a room, and a doctor arrived to let Carlisle be a father rather than a physician.
The new doctor—Dr. Portman—made a quick assessment. Emmett would need to stay the night for observation and blood tests, but he would be fine. She put him on an IV to help flush the drugs out and advised the family that he would probably be asleep soon.
“Em,” Carlisle said, “why did you go to Spencer’s house? Why didn’t you talk to any of us?”
“I dunno,” Emmett mumbled. He sounded a little defensive, but he didn’t pull away from Carlisle.
“Was it a little about Peter?” Jasper asked from the corner. “Did it bother you that he spent the weekend last month?”
Emmett fidgeted with the tape securing his IV. Jasper had a remarkably good read on people’s emotions. “Maybe a little,” Emmett said slowly.
“He’s not my real brother, you know,” Jasper said. Emmett’s head popped up. “We were in the same foster home for a long time. They adopted him, but not me. I don’t have any real brothers and sisters. Just you guys.”
“We’re a real family,” Rosalie said protectively.
“Yeah,” Jasper said. “I know.”
“I had six brothers,” Emmett said. “And I just… I don’t know why they’re just gone.”
“Emmett…” Carlisle trailed. This was a conversation he'd already put off far too long. “When we adopted you, we were in contact with all of your biological siblings. None of them had the financial means to take in a child. We understood that; they were all so young. I tried to arrange visits. I wanted them to be in your life, like Jasper and Peter. They… they wouldn’t agree to any. I kept trying, but most of them cut contact.”
“They took Spencer. Spencer was seventeen when Mom... Him and Rory had the same dad, and Rory took him. None of them wanted me.” Emmett was crying now. "Mom and my dad and six brothers. None of them wanted me."
“I want you,” Alice said fiercely. “I want to be your big sister.”
“We all want you,” Edward swore. Esme wrapped her arms around Emmett, and he cried harder.
“It breaks my heart,” Esme said quietly. “I can’t imagine not wanting to be your mom. I’m so sorry, baby. I’m so proud to be your mom.”
“I shouldn’t have gone with him,” Emmett said once he’d calmed down a little. “He’s mean. He was mean then, and he’s still mean I'm sorry..”
“I’m sorry you didn’t feel like this was something you could talk to us about,” Esme said. “I was so scared when we couldn’t find you.”
“I wanted to leave,” Emmett said. “Spencer wouldn’t take me, though, and it was too far to walk.”
“We’re getting you cell phone,” Esme said. “You call me whenever, where ever, and I’ll bring you home, baby. I promise.”