Saturday, September 19, 2009

CharacterExploration: Charlie Swan, Jack of All Fics

Charlie Swan


Charles Swan…

Chief of Police Charles Swan…

The name conjures a slew of memories: The sweet, slightly clueless patriarchal figure who tries to learn to live again with a child he’s rarely seen. The suffering, distraught father trying to look over a child on the verge of a breakdown. The angry father who dislikes the boy who has hurt his daughter’s feelings. The dad who wants his daughter to be happy, even if that means pushing her for something he only thinks will do that. The protector, the care-giver, the disciplinarian, the one who walks her down the aisle.

There is a lot more to Charlie than meets the eye.

Canon Bella shares many similar traits with her father. They are both quiet, shy people. They are both self-sacrificing to a fault, and they also love whole-heartedly. When his wife leaves him, taking his only child with her, Charlie never fully moves on. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
When his daughter is hurting and in need of someone, he tries the best that he knows how to fix it. Often, he goes against what he knows would be best for her in the long-term to make her feel better in the short-term, mirroring Bella’s desperate need to make sure everyone around her is happy, even at the detriment of her own wants and needs.

There are many facets to Charlie, yet we simply do not get enough of them in the books or FanFiction. There isn't enough characterization, information, and certainly not enough Lemony Deliciousness. (Hello, Billy Burke? Who knew Charlie was a hottie?!) We know some about his past, a little bit about his future, and even less about his present. The Chief is one of the most underestimated, underused and unappreciated characters in both the Twilight Saga and in FanFiction.

You’re probably asking yourself how I got bitten by the Charlie bug. Well, let me explain…

A few months ago, some of my friends were tweeting about the joys of slash on Twitter. I basically only read E/B stories so, as a joke, I tweeted that I would read slash only if it were Billy & Charlie. I searched high and low for a good Charlie/Billy story to no avail. I switched to a full -out mission in search of good Charlie fics; both with him as a main character, and for those with excellent characterizations of him as a minor character.

Thus began my foray into the character of Chief Charles Swan.

Charlie aficionado

Charlie being [depicted as the dad who has no clue, the bad guy, or just there for comedy] makes me crazy. He has the potential to be this amazing character and no one does him justice.

So, let’s explore who Charlie Swan is, both in canon and in fic, as well as his possible characterizations.

Canon: Charlie the Sacrificing

the Guy Who Gives Up Everything for Others’ Happiness

In the books, Charlie is depicted as a person who sacrifices for others. We found out that Charlie let Renee leave him and take his daughter with her, not because he was unwilling to leave his precious Forks, but because he was unwilling to leave his ailing parents. He knew he couldn’t leave them, so he let Renee go, taking what he loved the most with him.

Later, when Bella was fourteen years old, and didn’t want to come to “boring Forks” anymore, he didn’t push her to do something that made her obviously unhappy. He instead went to her.

When Edward returned in New Moon, Charlie was hell-bent on keeping him away from Bella.
Once she issued an ultimatum, he relented, against his better judgment, so that she would be happy.

A really amazing O/S that explores Canon Charlie’s feelings is
Separate Ways
. She describes the heart wrenching emotions that Charlie experiences when he discovers Renee’s intentions to leave him:

"You can’t go. You can’t take her!” I shouted, suddenly more angry than panicked. I ran around my wife to my daughter, and I quickly unstrapped her from her seat. I held her tightly to my chest, and cradled her head in my hand while I begged her mother not to break my heart. “Please don’t take her,” I practically cried into Bella’s soft hair. I leaned over and planted kisses all over her face.

“This place, this life. It’s not good for us,” she cried. “It’s not good enough for her,” she said, pointing at our daughter. You’re not good enough for her, is what she meant, and I knew, deep down, that she was right.

“I’ll never get to see her!” I yelled, louder than I had intended. Bella started to cry, and I did my best to comfort her. I whispered soothing words in her ear even though I felt anything but calm. “I have to be here now,” I whispered. “My mom - I can’t leave her. Once that gets settled, we can go anywhere you want. Just give me some time, Renee, please. I just need some time.”

I’d miss Bella’s first steps, her first words, her first birthday. The thought of that brought tears to my eyes, and for the first time in my adult life, I cried.

“Don’t take her,” I pleaded.

I followed Renee out to the car, a suitcase in one hand, my daughter in the other. I was already numb, and I barely felt the cold winter air against my naked chest. I set Bella’s car seat on the hood of the taxi, and I memorized her. Her hair, her eyes, her smile, her face. She latched her tiny hand around my finger and squeezed. She knew our time was short, too.

“I love you, and I’m sorry,” was all she said as she brought her lips quickly to mine. I held her there for longer than I should have, hoping I could make her feel how much I wanted her; how much I needed her to stay. All I needed to be happy was her, and Bella, and all of us here, together. Renee needed more than I could give her. I wanted her to be happy, and even though I couldn’t be happy without her, I let her go, so that one of us would at least have a chance.

I missed the feel of her in my arms and on my lips as soon as she turned and got into the cab. It pulled out of the driveway too soon, and I stood and watched, dead inside, as my life drove away.

Another excellent example of sacrificing Charlie is found in
. Bella is estranged from her father for years because she thinks he didn’t do everything he could to keep her mother from being institutionalized. In reality, Charlie hid both Renee’s condition and the actions that led to Renee’s hospitalization from Bella to protect her and her relationship with Renee. It was a sacrifice for him to lose his daughter that way, but he was willing to allow Bella to be mad at him if it meant she remained happy and had fond memories of her mother.

Canon: Charlie the Protector

the Guy Who Doesn’t Like the Dude Who Wants to Do His Daughter

Often, we see Charlie as the father who is worried about his daughter. It is sometimes shown in little ways, like gifts of pepper spray, or snow chains for her tires. Sometimes, though, it is just straight-up Charlie doesn’t like the guy. Why would he? One of my favorite examples of protective dad Charlie is in
Resisting Edward
This was the first and last supervised visit that was ever going down.

Bella walked me to the door and wrapped her arms around my neck, winking at me seductively. Just as I was about to lean in for the kill, I heard Charlie clear his throat.

“Edward, go home. Now.”

“Seriously, Chief Swan. Just let me kiss my girl goodnight. You can watch if you want.”

“Get out,” he mumbled, shoving me by my back out the door. I’m not gonna lie, it was pretty rude. I heard the door slam and I chuckled as I walked to my car because little did that prick know, I’d be back in his house in a couple of minutes. Probably banging his daughter right in the next room.

I asked Ooohlalaaa what Charlie was thinking in that moment, and this is what she said:
Just IMAGINE what Charlie's frame of mind is. This kid, who's given him grief for years, is the last person on earth he wants dating his daughter. [He] is there, in his house, trying to kiss her in front of him. Charlie's finger was on the trigger.

Charlie wants to protect Bella from everything, but ultimately wants her to be happy. In
The Trip Home Outtakes
, Charlie contemplates coming face to face with Bella’s lifestyle choice:
“Could Bella really think that something like her choice in relationships could drive a wedge between them? If that really was the case, he'd failed as a father.

How could she think that? I don't care what she does or who she's with! If she wants to join a lesbian harem I won't care as long as she's happy and no one hurts her!”

By the way, Charlie is really sweet and almost romantic in this story, too. Whether he is pulling Sue into his lap in an affectionate gesture or being just amazing in general, it’s an awesome portrayal.

Canon: Charlie the Unwavering

the Guy Who Is the Consistent, Loyal and True

I think that Charlie was torn up about Bella and Jacob’s relationship in New Moon. He obviously wanted Bella to start living again. When their friendship, which seemed to be doing the trick in bringing her out of her depressive state was strained, he finally called his friend Billy to find out what he could do. Imagine the difficulty in Charlie’s placing that call to Billy.
I wonder how hard that was for him, to be caught between his best friend and his daughter, when Billy told him that it was Bella’s fault she and Jake weren’t friends anymore.

In most fics that I have read, Charlie is characterized as a loyal friend. Billy is his best friend, thus he defends Jacob frequently. Bella often perceives this to be at the expense of her happiness, however, no matter how good of a friend to Billy Charlie is, Bella knows that he loves her no matter what.
Atlas Shrugged
touches on this:
"Honestly, I knew it was coming. Jake was my last ditch effort to keep you here. But you can't keep something that's not yours anymore. You gave yourself to him, and whether I like it or not, he loves you and will keep you safe. For what it's worth, you have my blessing.

I had been short sighted towards Charlie too. I never once suspected this depth of understanding or compassion. I always knew he loved me, but it was never in an obvious way. Now he was putting aside his fatherly objections, his desperate need to keep me his little girl, and giving me into the hands of another.

I really love fics that depict Charlie as someone who can be counted on, no matter what. The unconditional love that he feels for his daughter can be seen in
Meant to Be
. Bella comes home, with a baby, and he does everything he can to make her life easier. She knows that she can count on him, and they have a great bond.

Character: Charlie the Unavailable

the Guy Who Is Never Around to See What His Daughter’s Up To

I love high school fics, but I often wonder where the hell the parents are. I mean, sure, their absence makes for more interesting times, but really? Most of the time, Charlie is portrayed as the father who just isn’t there. Sometimes he leaves Bella alone because he works all the time or to go on fishing trips with Billy;
sometimes Bella lives with her mother and new husband; sometimes he’s dead. I find Charlie the Absent to be one of the most prevalent Charlies that we encounter.

No article from me would be complete without mentioning my favorite fic of all time,
Scotch, Gin, and the New Girl
. You all know the story, but one thing that stands out to me is the lack of parental supervision. Bella sleeps at Cullen’s house practically every night. Just for your reading pleasure, here is one of my favorite scenes (god, I love the Chief sfm):
"Hey, Bells, are you ready-" Chief Swan came out of the house in full uniform and stopped dead when he was greeted with the sight before him. Three rich, ridiculously good-looking boys in his front yard with his hot daughter looking on. She didn't even acknowledge his presence; she simply arched one saucy little eyebrow at us and smirked. The Chief turned red and looked like he was going to draw his sidearm for one moment; we had all been on the receiving end of that face before, and we were all smiling in anticipation. He had no actual reason to be pissed at any of us this time, unless wanting to fuck a guy's daughter is a crime. It probably should be.

"Whoops. Looks like you boys will have to fight amongst yourselves over who gets to drive my tight ass home," she said, making eye contact with each of us. I grinned appreciatively as she turned around and stomped over to her dad, who was giving each of us a warning look; as she headed over to his cruiser, he gave us the V-fingers-to-the-eye "I'm watching you" meaningful look, and when he turned around to get in the car, we all doubled over in silent laughter.

On the completely non-humorous side of the absent parent,
Oh, Inverted World
has a Bella with a father that was killed in the line of duty. Although his absence isn’t an integral part of the story, it is an important facet of the way Edward perceives Bella and what she has been through, since they have both experienced familial loss.

Character: Charlie the Amusing

the Guy Who Provides Comedic Relief

Charlie used as plot device to break the tension or bring the funny is highly prevalent. He often isn’t taken seriously enough and is instead only there to cockblock his daughter. Sometimes, though, Charlie is so hilarious that it’s all worth it. One of my favorite Charlie stories is a crackfic,
Edward the Sugar Queen
Nina Windia
. Charlie is not only highly amusing, but compassionate and has a special relationship with Edward.
“Can I come?” asked Edward happily.

“After what you just did?!” roared Charlie.

But at once, Edward began to cry. Great big fat tears rolled down his cheeks and he wailed loudly. “I-I knew it! Y-y-you don’t l-love me!”

Charlie sighed tiredly. He leant over, and patted the sobbing boy on the head.

“There there,” he said. “You can come if you really want.”

“Hooray!” cried Edward, and he begun shoving sugar into his discarded trousers, tying the legs into knots. Charlie shook his head, and clambered back into the van.

There is a hilarious scene in
Work in Progress
in which Charlie is polishing a gun that he gave to Bella as a college graduation gift. Unbeknownst to him, Edward was asleep in the next room, having spent the night at Bella’s apartment. Edward walks out, clearly just waking up, shirtless, and with his jeans partially unbuttoned. All hell breaks loose. When questioned about the thoughts behind this scene, araeo said,
I really wanted to make fun of the whole Edward/Charlie distrust thing. In the books, we know Edward isn't Charlie's favorite person…And of course, I was thinking of the scene in the movie where Charlie is cleaning his shotgun, and I wondered how funny it would be with a human Edward caught unawares with Charlie and a gun.

It is seriously one of the funniest scenes ever. Even though it is almost slap-stick in its humor, it’s a great depiction of Charlie because his love and protectiveness shine through the entire time.

Character: Charlie the Nefarious

the Guy Who Is So, So Bad (And Not In a Good Way)

My least favorite characterization is when Charlie is depicted as the villain. Sometimes authors don’t think that it’s enough to make him hurt Bella by just being absent or making her choose between him and her significant other, so they take it further and make him truly evil.

It goes against everything that I stand for as a person, as a mother, and as a twific reader to have Charlie hurt Bella physically or mentally. Even If it is used as a plot device to bring Edward and Bella together, I still don’t want Charlie to be that way.

One of the best examples that I can think of for reprehensible Charlie is in
Emancipation Proclamation
. In this story, Charlie sells his daughter to Carlisle as a slave, but before that happens, he beats her and subjects her to many other heinous acts.
I hadn’t eaten in awhile, Charles refusing to feed any of us last night because he’d caught Clara sneaking a bite of food while cooking dinner. She’d only swiped a bit of sauce off of a spoon, claiming to ensure it was done properly and tasted good, but Charles didn’t care.

Another great example of the Charlie we don’t want around can be found in
Disciplined Breakdown
. Bella can’t do enough for her boss/father to acknowledge her efforts. He is purposely malicious and insensitive to her, and it sickens me.

It makes me really sad to see Charlie used this way in a fic. It is weird to me that I can be so accepting of other characters being the “bad guy” (insert Skanktoria here), but I just don’t them to do it to Charlie. Or Edward.

Character: Charlie the Fuckhot

the Guy Who Just Wants to Fuck

Ah, finally the Charlie that I want to read about more. Like I said, Charlie is one of the most underappreciated characters in the fandom, and I don’t understand why. He obviously was hot back in the day and just needs someone to bring all of that lovin’ back to the surface.

I really had to search to find an out-in-the-open can’t-hold-back Charlie. One of the best examples that I came across was
Here I Go Again
, which features a 17-year old fuckhot Charlie:
As soon as I laid eyes on him in the cafeteria, I knew I had found exactly who I had been searching the halls for all morning. He had a shock of black hair and dark expressive eyes and full brows, which were furrowed. The cuffs of his flannel shirt were open wide around his strong looking hands and I could see the dark hair covering his arms peeking out above his wrists.


Another example of a fuckhot Charlie can be found in
Cocktails & Dreams
fatally obsessed
, which has one of my very favorite Charlies ever. He is both in love and happy with Renee:
“…you’ll be lucky if Charlie doesn’t require you to sleep between him and Renee tonight. Just to be sure.”

“I don’t think that’s going to be an option.” I grinned, pointing toward the recliner with my chin. Renee was whispering in Charlie’s ear, twisting her fingers in the chest hair she’d exposed by unbuttoning a couple of buttons.

Bella groaned, dropping her head onto my shoulder. “Gross! Don’t talk about my parents and sex…,” she whined…

Protective of his daughter, he still gives her space to make her own decisions and recognizes that Bella is an adult. Even after accidentally witnessing Bella and Edward in flagrante delicto, he still puts forth an effort with him to make her happy. I also love that he has such a great personality and is a good friend to everyone in this fic.

Fishin’ for Fics

In my research, I found out a lot about Charlie. Mostly, though, I found out that he is a character that we haven’t, um, tapped yet. I would like to implore writers to explore him more, especially his DILF side. In honor of his favorite past-time, I went fishin’ for fics with fuckawesome Charlie and found these little gems to help you get your Charlie fix:

Age of Consent: My Summer as a Legal Intern
: AOC has a dilemma no father wants to face: his sixteen year old daughter is dating a twenty-six year old man. Charlie is at his wits’ end; his characterization is believable and makes me feel empathetic.

Burning the Edges
: Charlie is a dad that loves his daughter and wants to protect her. Charlie does everything he can to support his pyromaniac daughter, going as far as to set up weekly burning sessions at the local firehouse to help feed her obsession in a safe environment.

Forget Her
fatally obsessed
: This is an absolutely amazing fic that chronicles Charlie dealing with Bella’s pain in New Moon all the way through. Charlie lovers definitely should not miss out on this one.

On the Inside of Love
: OtIoL has a very Canon Charlie. As the dad who loves his daughter fiercely but doesn’t know how to talk to her, this Charlie is well written and likable. There’s a sweet relationship between the two of them; he is protective of her and just wants her to be happy, while she worries and frets over his happiness and well-being.

Prisoners of their Desires
Twilight Mom
: This is a fic that features Charlie having a fantasy involving Alice. It is a little weird for me to think of this, but it is hot. I always did think there was something about the way Charlie acted around/about Alice ;)

In conclusion, I would like to leave you with this haiku poem:
Big Chief Charlie Swan
Amazing, Virile, Funny
Forces Me to Swoon

has written one crackfic,
Sweeping Booty aka The Fuck of True Love
. She is a contributor to
The Fictionators
and also runs
, a site dedicated to keeping the fandom informed of current happenings. She loves tweeting, Toad the Wet Sprocket, and fics featuring an OJ-drinking Edward.
Archived Explorations:

Upcoming Characters:
Jacob, Angela, Rosalie.


  1. Excellent stuff Kassiah. Here's to hoping for lots of Charlie love coming up in the future! :) And TY for the mention. I'm glad you like our Charlie!

  2. Charlie is such an underused character that is more than ready for his time to shine in ff.

    Thanks for the mention! Charlie is one of my favorites to write when he comes around.

  3. I just love Charlie in Tropic of Virgo by In.A.Blue.Bathrobe - he's not mentioned much and says little, but what he does say is simple, beautiful, and shows the depth of his caring for Bella. His few exchanges with Edward made me love him. "The moustache spoke volumes"!!

    I thought a good and very human portrayal of Charlie was in Breakfast at Tiffany's by hmonster4. His love for Bella was awkward, but sincere, and their failure to communicate is palpable, though unintentional. It hit close to home for me, at least...

  4. Thank you so much for letting me write about Charlie :)

    I agree with you smands, I had both of those Charlie's on my list. I didn't mention them simply because I didn't have room and they are popular stories.

    I also love the Charlie in Smellyia's Her Father's Daughter.

  5. Hi, I can't get the link in Age of Consent to work ... any way you could repost the link? Thank you!

  6. Great job Kassiah! You really did hit on many of the great Charlie characterizations.

    Separate Ways is one of my favorite Charlie-fics.

  7. @ Sandman - Link is fixed

    And thanks to Kassiah for a great article...!

  8. Kass - you're awesome. I love the article.

  9. I love Charlie, especially in the Charlie fics you've mentioned.

    As for Charlie the Nefarious, I share your dilemma because not only do I heart Charlie the under-appreciated father and ex-husband, but I also heart Billy Burke who made Charlie fuckhot IMO even with that silly stache and relatively routine lifestyle (when I read the books, I didn't really picture Charlie as anyone and he definitely wasn't fuckhot). Regardless, I do like the story Emancipation Proclamation, and I guess I can deal with Bad Charlie in that story for two reasons. 1) He isn't in the story for long, and 2) when it comes to bad Charlie, I don't picture Billy Burke ... I picture Alec Baldwin when the sense of humor he appears to have on SNL and 30 Rock goes on vacation. Yep, I picture the Alec Baldwin who is capable of leaving mean voice messages on his daughter's cell phone.

  10. Yeah I totally agree and I guess it would help to picture Charlie as someone else instead of ungh-worthy Billy Burke. EP is one of my favorite fics and I love Khar, it shows how fuckawesome she is for her to be able to portray him that way and still make us want to read.

    Thanks ya'll for liking my article :)

  11. Kassiah:

    TLC totes has a Charlie never seen by the fandom. Charlie, the Preacherman. He needs to be explored :)


  12. I am honored that you chose our one shot. It was written for a contest about Forbidden Desires and MM1 and I both agreed that there always seemed to be a little something bubbling underneath the surface with Charlie concerning Alice.

    We can only hope readers will think we did the 'stache justice- cause that is just one fuckhawt older man.

    Thanks for rec'ing our story. It was amazing to be listed with these other outstanding authors.


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