Disclaimer – I don't own it!

AN – This one shot was birthed because of my writer's block with Luxuria. I ended up re-reading Twilight another 3 times and Eclipse another 4. My friend's borrowing my New Moon, so I didn't get a chance with that! But now that I've got all the material fresh in my mind, I thought I'd do a one shot :) Review, please. I can take constructive criticism! ;)

Chapter 17 of Twilight - 'The Game' - told in Edward's POV

I ran through the woods quickly, unable to contain my joy at seeing Bella again. Emmett would be bringing his Jeep around soon – I couldn't wait to see Bella's reaction to it, even if I couldn't hear her thoughts – and then I could take Bella to the clearing. My family had accepted Bella completely, and she seemed to have done the same, for them. As I neared the house, I could hear Bella and Charlie's conversation – and Charlie's thoughts. I tried to be as quiet as possible.

"Which one is Edwin?" It better not be that big one with the muscles...he'll be all over her...He's too old!

"Edward is the youngest, the one with the reddish brown hair."

"Oh, well that's," Still bad, even worse! All those teenage hormones...He can't have my Bella! "better, I guess. I don't like the look of that big one." He'd have her in his bed quicker than he could get her through the door. I tried not to laugh – because if Emmett had wanted to get Bella into his bed, he could get her into it quicker than he could get her through the door. I thought Emmett must have been rubbing off on me – I should have been angry at that!

"I'm sure he's a nice boy and all, but he looks too..." Big, old, scary... "mature for you. Is this Edwin your boyfriend?" I knew that Charlie did know my name was Edward, but he was saying Edwin to reassure himself. When he heard Edward, he saw me. When he said Edwin, he saw Mike. It made my entire being shake with anger. As if Mike hadn't done enough with his thoughts and actions, now he was the preferred boyfriend, because he was 'safe'.

"It's Edward, Dad."

"Is he?"

"Sort of, I guess."

"You said last night that you weren't interested in any of the boys in town." Why didn't she tell me? I wonder what Dr Cullen thought about her? Hmm... His thoughts trailed off and I tuned them out as best as I could.

"Well, Edward doesn't live in town, Dad." I almost laughed, as I imagined Charlie's expression and Bella's sure blushing. "And, anyways, it's kind of at an early stage, you know. Don't embarrass me with all the boyfriend talk, okay?"

"When is he coming over?" Excuses...excuses. I have a cold...The game is on...I'm tired...

"He'll be here in a few minutes." Though, I already was here. Emmett would be here in a few minutes.

"Where is he taking you?" I listened carefully, tuning myself in to Charlie's thoughts, in order to hear Bella better. She groaned, and then answered.

"I hope you're getting the Spanish Inquisition out of your system now. We're going to play baseball with his family."

Bella! Baseball! What?! Charlie's thoughts were in uproar, completely shocked. I knew Bella didn't play baseball, but this was a bit over the top. I was shocked, too. I hadn't expected her to tell him the truth, but she had. He chuckled, and asked her,

"You're playing baseball?"

"Well, I'll be watching." She better not be watching him! I chuckled, hearing Charlie's thoughts.

"You must really like this guy," he sounded suspicious, and he was. He was remembering Bella slipping around as a child...and as a baby... She was unbelievably beautiful, even then.

It was then that Emmett decided to show up. He screeched down the road, and pulled to a stop in front of the house.

"See you there, Eddie." I growled a little as he sped off, leaving the engine to idle as I walked to Bella's door and rang the doorbell. Charlie opened it, but Bella wasn't far behind him.

"Come on in, Edward." Bella breathed a sigh of relief and I worked to keep my expression calm – Charlie was putting on a facade.

"Thanks, Chief Swan."

"Go ahead and call me Charlie." I wish I hadn't had to do that. "Here, I'll take your jacket."

"Thanks, sir."

"Have a seat there," Edwin, Edwin, Edwin... "Edward." I sat down in the only chair, and watched Bella's sinking expression as she realised she was seated by her father, and not me. I winked at her as she shot me a look.

"So I hear you're getting my girl to watch baseball."

"Yes, sir, that's the plan." I kept my face indifferent, because I wasn't surprised as I had first been that she'd told him the truth.

"Well, more power to you, I guess." He started laughing, and I laughed with him.

"Okay," Bella stood up, hands on her hips. It would have looked menacing had she not the most beautiful blush on her cheeks. "enough humor at my expense. Let's go." As she walked out, Charlie and I followed.

"Not too late, Bell."

"Don't worry Charlie, I'll have her home early," I promised, appealing to his rules-and-regulations side.

"You take care of my girl, all right?" Bella groaned, but Charlie and I continued to talk.

"She'll be safe with me, I promise, sir." I had never been more sure of that. Bella stalked out, and I followed, laughing.

Then, she stopped abruptly in front of her truck, as she took in the Jeep. Her mouth was slightly agape. I resisted the urge to kiss her.

Charlie let out a low whistle, and when I tuned back into his thoughts briefly, all I could hear was Wow. "Wear your seat belts."

I walked around to Bella's side of the car and opened the door, as she observed the distance between her and the seat. I lifted her in with one hand, sighing as I felt her warm body under my fingers. Charlie was so preoccupied with the Jeep that he didn't see my display. I made a point of walking slowly to the other side, as Charlie watched me go. By the time I'd gotten in, Bella was fumbling with her seat belts. I tried not to laugh, keeping myself composed.

"What's all this?" She asked, as I jumped in.

"It's an off-roading harness." I wasn't sure whether to tell her that we'd be running part of the way, so I kept my answers short.

"Uh-oh." She said, then she began looking for places to fit the buckles. I sighed and reached over to help her. She smelt so unbelievably good in the rain, and I couldn't help myself from letting my hands linger on her skin, as I felt the blood bubbling under the surface. Her heart beat accelerated as always, and I hid my happiness at the effect I had on her. Once I was done, I turned the engine on, and pulled away from the house, watching Charlie close the door behind him as he felt more reassured.

"This is a...big Jeep you have." Bella began, making conversation.

"It's Emmett's." I smiled, remembering his face when the family first saw it. "I didn't think you'd want to run the whole way." I tried to keep my voice casual, but I wondered how long it would take for her to realise. I wished I could read her mind so badly, so much was out of reach for me.

"Where do you keep this thing?" I was thankful that she hadn't realised yet.

"We remodeled one of the outbuildings into a garage."

"Aren't you going to put on your seatbelt?" I tried not to laugh - me wearing a seatbelt? If I wanted to, I could make this hunk of metal into just that – a hunk of metal. I saw realisation burning in her eyes and knew that she'd understood.

"Run the whole way? As in, we're still going to run part of the way?" Her voice raised a few octaves, and her heartbeat accelerated.

"You're not going to run." I smiled, trying not to laugh. I didn't like her to be scared.

"I'm going to be sick." She said, doubt clouding her beautiful features.

"Keep your eyes closed, and you'll be fine." I said." I leaned over to kiss her forehead, and couldn't restrain myself. I groaned, breathing in her scent. She pulled away from my lips, and looked at me, confused. I explained, scolding myself almost. I missed the feeling of my lips against her skin.

"In a good way, or a bad way?" She asked, cautious.

"Both, always both." I sighed, and concentrated on finding the way through the rain. Bella bounced up and down the entire way, and it made a conversation impossible. By the time we came to the end of the road, I heard her heartbeat accelerating, and I knew that she was aware of what was coming.

"Sorry, Bella. We have to go on foot from here." I said, even though I knew that she was aware.

"You know what? I'll just wait here." I couldn't believe her!

"What happened to all your courage?" I asked, "You were extraordinary this morning." I remembered my family's thoughts. They loved her.

"I haven't forgotten last time, yet." I understood her; because it felt like barely minutes ago that I'd kissed her for the first time. I didn't wait for her to accept as I got around to her side; I started unbuckling her from the seat as she protested.

"You go on ahead." But I realised that she wouldn't back down.

"It seems that I'm going to have to tamper with your memory." I refrained from laughing as a look of horror shrouded her face.

"Tamper with my memory?"

"Something like that." I said, as I watched her. I couldn't hide the humour from my eyes. I would enjoy this just about as much as she would. I truly did love dazzling her. I leaned into her, pressing my hands either side of her, so that she couldn't escape. I didn't think she would try, anyway.

"Now, what exactly are you worrying about?"

"Well, um, hitting a tree and dying..." And then getting sick." I tried not to laugh, as I kissed the hollow in the base of her throat.

"Are you still worried now?" I whispered against her skin. This was too easy.

"Yes. About hitting trees and getting sick." She was having trouble concentrating as I drew a line up her throat to her chin with my nose.

"And now?" I moved my lips up to her jaw.

"Trees," she gasped, her heartbeat erratic. "Motion sickness."

I moved my head up to her face, kissing her eyelids. "Bella, you don't really think I would hit a tree, do you?"

"No, but I might." As if I would ever hurt my beautiful Bella, or put her in harm's way. I would never expose her to any danger. I kissed slowly down her cheek, stopping at the edge of her lips, restraining myself. I wanted to kiss her very badly.

"Would I let a tree hurt you?" I moved my lips closer to hers, brushing them lightly along them.

"No," she breathed, having lost her train of thought completely. A job well done, I thought.

"You see," I said, moving my lips along hers. "There's nothing to be afraid of, is there?" She whispered a 'no' before I couldn't resist anymore.

I took her face in my hands and kissed her in earnest, unable to contain myself. I loved her so much. My beautiful, silly Bella. Silly, indeed, was the first thing I thought, as she attached herself to my body, welding herself to me. She sighed as her lips parted, and I broke her grips, staggering backwards.

"Damn it, Bella!" I gasped, a bad idea, because her scent still lingered on my lips. "You'll be the death of me, I swear you will." She bent over, bracing herself as she caught her breath.

"You're indestructible." She whimpered, and I hated myself at that point – I was unable to give her what she really wanted . Well, I was, but not to a proper extent. I wanted to give her everything. But I couldn't. I hated hurting her, but I wanted to hurt myself. I hated doing this to her.

"I might have believed that before I met you. Now lets get out of here before I do something really stupid." I couldn't help growling. I wanted to hurt myself, but I couldn't. I didn't want to hurt her, though. Not in any way possible. I wanted to be her protector. I threw her over my back, trying to be gentle, and she locked herself around me. I could feel the blood rushing under her skin. I wanted to kiss her again, but I didn't think I could.

"Don't forget to close your eyes." I warned, and I felt her bury her face into my back. As I ran, all I could concentrate on was her, clinging to my body like a life vest, holding her above the flood. When we came to a stop, I almost didn't alert her that we'd come to our destination, wanting to feel her body so close to mine, but I did, reaching back to stroke her hair. She loosened her stranglehold on me, and slipped to the floor, landing in a heap on her backside. I tried not to laugh, but her bewildered expression pushed me over the edge. I roared with laughter as she stood up, brushing the dirt off herself. She started walking away from me, so I wrapped my arms around her warm waist.

"Where are you going, Bella?"

"To watch a baseball game. You don't seem to be interested in playing anymore, but I'm sure the others will have fun without you."

"You're going the wrong way." I snickered, and she turned around and started walking the other way so I caught her again.

"Don't be mad, I couldn't help myself. You should have seen your face." I laughed before I could stop myself, and regretted it as she raised her eyebrows.

"You're the only one who's allowed to get mad?"

"I wasn't mad at you."

"'Bella, you'll be the death of me'?" She quoted.

"That was simply a statement of fact." She turned away from me again, but I held her tightly.

"You were mad!"

"Yes."

"But you just said-"

"That I wasn't mad at you. Can't you see that, Bella?" I had hurt her again, she'd misunderstood. "Don't you understand?"

"See what?" She looked incredibly confused.

"I'm never angry with you – how could I be? Brave, trusting...warm as you are."

"Then why?" She whispered, obviously remembering something very sour. Probably me; when I couldn't be close to her anymore.

"I infuriate myself, the way I can't seem to keep from putting you in danger. My very existence puts you at risk." I wasn't sure whether to say the next thought that was in my mind, but I continued gently. "Sometimes I truly hate myself. I should be stronger, I should be able to-"

She put her hand over my mouth, tears in her eyes. "Don't." I took her hand and placed it by my face.

"I love you. It's a poor excuse for what I'm doing, but it's still true." The tears dissipated from her eyes, and they only held love. I didn't deserve it, but I loved her too much to care. "Now, please try to behave yourself." I said, and I kissed her softly. She stayed still, and then sighed.

"You promised Chief Swan that you would have me home early, remember? We'd better get going."

"Yes ma'am." I released her, but held her hand fast. I couldn't bare to be away from her. The rest of the family came into view, though I could have heard their thoughts already.

"Was that you we heard, Edward?" Esme asked, as she approached us. She was nearly bursting with joy as she eyed mine and Bella's clasped hands. It made me want to hold Bella even tighter.

Emmett voiced his thoughts, clarifying. "It sounded like a bear choking."

Bella smiled a little. "That was him."

"Bella was being unintentionally funny," I said, hoping she wouldn't be angry again. Alice announced that it was time, and the family exchanged pleasantries with Bella, but I couldn't concentrate. All I could see was her. Suddenly Emmett and Alice ran away, and I knew I was going to join them. I didn't want to leave her, though.

"Are you ready for some ball?"

"Go team!" I snickered, and stroked her hair, before running off to play. I couldn't concentrate very well, knowing she was so close. Eventually, the game had progressed enough that I could go back to her for a few minutes, and I ran back.

"What do you think?"

"One thing's for sure, I'll never be able to sit through dull old Major League Baseball again."

"And it sounded like you did so much of that before." I laughed, and she smiled.

"I am a little disappointed."

"Why?" Her and her protected mind. I wanted to know what she was thinking so badly. I tried to remind myself that she liked it better this way.

"Well, it would be nice if I could find just one thing you didn't do better than everyone else on the planet." I flashed her my dazzling smile, and then announced that I was up, leaving her again.

It was when Carlisle was up to bat when Alice had her vision, and I shared it. They were coming. I ran to Bella's side instantly, wrapping my arms around her.

"Alice?" Esme sounded scared, and the rest of the family's thoughts portrayed the same fear.

"I didn't see – I couldn't tell," she whispered. She answered the family's questions in turn, but I was focusing on Bella, only hearing Alice's words."They were traveling much quicker than I thought. I can see I had the perspective wrong before." She stopped again, Bella's eyes stayed locked on her. "They heard us playing, and it changed their path." What did I do? How could I have done this to her? I'd exposed my Bella to those who could hurt her terribly. So much for being her protector. I didn't deserve her.

"How soon?" I listened, and heard their minds, one echoing the other.

"Less than five minutes. They're running – they want to play." Why did I bring her? I'd endangered her stupidly.

"Can you make it?"

"No, not carrying-" Then an even worse thought struck me. "Besides, the last thing we need is for them to catch the scent and start hunting." I couldn't say Bella's name, because I felt it would kill me. I'd put her in so much danger, so idiotically.

"How many?" Emmett asked Alice. He was squaring up for a fight.

"Three."

"Three! Let them come." He was counting over his fights in his head, and my arms tightened around Bella's waist.

"Let's just continue the game, Alice said they were simply curious." Simply curious, simply curious, I chanted over and over. I wouldn't let them hurt Bella. They wouldn't touch my Bella. Esme turned to me quickly.

"Are they thirsty?" I shook my head, and she thought, Thank God. They can't hurt Bella. They can't. I knew she was thinking of me, but I tuned her out. I needed to concentrate. I planted myself in front of Bella, deciding to call, as I listened to their minds.

Playing games...Haven't seen anyone in so long...James enjoyed our last hunt... There were two males and a female. James and the other two, unnamed enemies.

"Take your hair down," I commanded. It wouldn't help a lot, but it would make me happier. Give me a little, tiny bit of closure.

"The others are coming now."

"Yes, stay very still, keep quiet, and don't move from my side, please." I tried to hide my stress, but it was impossible. How could I have exposed her to so much danger? I was so, so stupid. I was literally putting my life on the line, putting her in so much harm's way.

"That won't help," Alice said, trying not to alarm Bella. "I could smell her across the field."

"I know." I said, frustration coloring my tone as she thought of my Bella again. Her vision. Bella cold as stone, a vampire, damned like myself. I wouldn't allow it. Especially not like this.

"What did Esme ask you?" Bella questioned, and I pulled her a little tighter to me.

"Whether they were thirsty." She shuddered, and I tried not to alarm her. I planted myself in front of her, scanning the dark forest and listening to them.

"I'm sorry, Bella. It was stupid, irresponsible, to expose you like this. I'm so sorry." I knew they were coming now. My eyes zeroed in, as I saw their pale skin emerging out of the darkness. I shouldn't have brought her here, my Bella. My everything. My fragile Bella. I angled myself between her and them, and the others orientated around my beautiful Bella, as they neared the edges of the dense wood.