Disclaimer: All recognizable characters, settings, dialogue, etc. are property of their respective owners. Any original ideas are property of the author.
- This was written as a tribute to Stephenie Meyer's genius, no copyright infringement intended.
As I waited upstairs, I heard Bella come in the door downstairs and greet Charlie. I drew in a deep breath, listening.
"So, how was your day?" I heard Charlie ask. I hope that she had a good time with Jacob. From what Billy said, they were pretty much ecstatic to see each other.
Really? Was keeping Bella safe making her unhappy? I shook my head to myself. Keeping her safe was important, she had to understand that. I listened as she made her reply.
"Good. They didn't need me at work, so I went down to La Push."
I stiffened further, hearing the admission come from her mouth.
"How's Jacob?" Charlie asked. I could tell that he was trying to give off an air of nonchalance, but he was hoping that she was as happy to see Jacob as Billy had let on.
"Good," Bella stated again, keeping a tone of indifference in her reply as well.
"You get over to the Weber's?" Charlie was trying to make certain that she was beginning to spread her time out among her friends.
"Yep. We got all her announcements addressed."
I knew of course, that Bella had been there. It had been an agonizing wait for the few hours I had spent silently pacing in her room.
"That's nice." Charlie was very satisfied with the day's events so far. "I'm glad you spent some time with your friends today."
Maybe this means she'll spend less time with Edward, he thought after. The thought made me stiffen, and I glared at Bella's wall. I wanted to knock some sense into Charlie. But in a way, I knew he was right; spending less time with me would be healthier for her, better. Yet I was too selfish to want her to go away.
"Me, too." Bella seemed happy enough through the tone of her statement, but there was also something beneath the surface.
I could hear Bella walk slowly into the kitchen, and stand there for a few minutes. Then she said, "I'm going to go study." She sounded unhappy, and a bit nervous. I could only suppose that she was thinking about my reaction.
"See you later," Charlie called as I heard her begin to come up the stairs. I braced myself for her arrival. I knew it would be bad if I began to yell, so I made myself immobile. I would let her speak first. She had to have the opportunity to say what she wanted. If I kept myself immobile, I was pretty sure that I would have a better handle on my emotions. That promise could not, however, keep me from scowling. Bella had no idea how anxious I had been all day. Even before I knew that she had gone to La Push.
I heard Bella breathing in the hallway. The door opened, and she closed it slowly. After she had shut the door, she turned with what seemed to be deliberate slowness, and looked at me.
I gave her a watered-down glare, with thousands of thoughts running through my head simultaneously. My first instinct was to run to her side, hold her and never let go. But I knew that we needed to speak first. Another part of me wanted to scream and rant for hours on end. I knew that that would not be well received by her though. Or my family, or even Charlie for that matter.
I saw her visibly cringe, and I mentally berated myself. Yes I was angry, but I didn't want to see that expression on her face because of me. Ever.
I almost spoke then, but I knew that I still didn't have enough control to not do something that I might regret. So, I kept my mouth shut. Not even breathing.
She took a small breath, "Hi."
I repeated my mantra to myself. Calm, calm. You cannot upset her. Calm...
She tried again, "Er... so, I'm still alive."
I immediately let out a low growl. I knew she could hear it, but I couldn't stop myself. Just because she is alive, doesn't mean that she was safe. My expression still bordered on murderous. Not with her being the focus of course... but still.
She seemed determined to pass of the day's incidents as nothing important, because she spoke again.
"No harm done," She shrugged as she pressed the supposed insignificance of her trip.
Her heart was stuttering a bit, and I realized that my immobility was probably upsetting her on some level. I finally moved, grasping the bridge of my nose, still trying to calm myself. Her insistence that there was no danger, and that she was fine wasn't really helping.
I closed my eyes as I replayed her statement and the events of the day. No harm done? Look at what a mess I am. And I almost destroyed our family, just by stepping over an invisible line. She had no idea how close I came to crossing the treaty line. Did she still have no idea what she meant to me? It would not be worth the oxygen that I continuously cycled through my lungs if she was not in my life.
I finally broke into the silence and whispered, "Bella. Do you have any idea how close I came to crossing the line today? To breaking the treaty and coming after you? Do you know what that would have meant?"
She gasped as she listened to what I said, and I opened my eyes to look at her.
"You can't!" She burst out, much too loudly. Charlie would hear. She quieted her voice, but continued as though she were wishing that she could yell. "Edward, they'd use any excuse for a fight. They'd love that. You can't ever break the rules!" I could tell that she was distraught by just the thought of a fight between the local vampire and werewolf population.
I gave another growl, making sure that Bella couldn't hear this one. "Maybe they aren't the only ones who would enjoy a fight." I would be more than willing to fight, and that might be a way to keep that mongrel away from her once and for all. Bella is mine... isn't she? A whole new slew of thoughts roared through my mind with this idea. I would fight for her, if that's what it would take!
Now Bella was becoming mad, she snapped at me, "Don't you start. You made the treaty, you stick to it."
I made the treaty? Was she trying to pin this on me now? My family made the treaty so that we and the werewolves could live in some semblance of peace, not having to watch our backs at every turn. I would love to be able to start a fight, take out my frustrations with some real physical activity. How could Bella not see how much danger those wolves took with them everywhere?
Maybe I could get her to see what I have been trying to show her... "If he'd hurt you -"
"Enough!" Bella had cut me off mid-sentence.
Yes, she was definitely angry.
"There's nothing to worry about. Jacob isn't dangerous."
Nothing to worry about? How could I not worry? I knew what kind of damage those dogs could inflict, and just the thought that Bella might get injured, even by accident, was more than enough to put my possessive and protective attitude on high. It also made my non-existent blood boil to hear that she didn't think that Jacob posed any danger. Of course he did. And in my eyes, that danger was not only physical, but the potential for emotional damage was there as well.
I was about to tell her this, but judging from her reactions so far, Bella would not take kindly to these sentiments. I tried to think of another way I could present my point, and settled for mild amusement.
"Bella," I said as I rolled my eyes. "You aren't exactly the best judge of what is or isn't dangerous."
That point had been proven time and again. We both knew it.
"I know I don't have to worry about Jake. And neither do you."
My hackles rose at this statement. She was continuing to defend him? Of course I had to worry about him. Especially if these were her reactions to him. To keep from having an outburst I knew I would regret, I clenched my teeth, grinding them together. I also balled my fists up at my sides, thinking of the things I could do to that mongrel.
Bella inhaled deeply, and walked towards me. She leaned into me a bit, and wrapped her arms around my torso. I still couldn't trust myself to stay calm, not when thoughts of that dog were still traipsing around in my head.
Her heart fluttered as she muttered quietly, "I'm sorry I made you anxious."
At hearing her speak, and not defending Jacob, I sighed, and relaxed slightly. I could no longer deny my desire to hold her. I gently twisted my arms around her as I briefly considered her words. I drank in her scent as I held her.
I made my reply, "Anxious is a bit of an understatement." I was murmuring quietly as well. Definitely an understatement. She had no idea how excruciating it was, not knowing if she was safe, or if she would even come back to me at all. That stinking dog.
I spoke again, hoping to give her a glimpse of the apprehension that had gripped me all day. Even before I had learned of her 'extra trip.' "It was a very long day."
"You weren't supposed to know about it."
What? Does she see me as a tyrant now? How could I not know, with Alice? I looked down at Bella. Of course I had Alice keep an eye on her! I love Bella far, far too much to let anything ever happen to her. How could I not have Alice watch her? If Bella is ever anywhere near that... cur when he shifts, there is a great probability that she would die, and I would have none of it!
I suppressed a growl as Bella continued talking, oblivious to my train of thought.
"I thought that you would be hunting longer."
As Bella said that, my thirst flared, burning white hot in my throat. I hadn't had time to actually catch anything. When Alice had called, I was just starting. I knew that Bella would be unhappy that I had not actually finished my hunting...
Bella looked up into my eyes, and seeing that they were black, frowned.
I explained, "When Alice saw you disappear, I came back."
"You shouldn't have done that," Her frown grew. "Now you'll have to go away again."
She looked so unhappy. It made my heart contract whenever I saw her eyes like that, so full of deep, painful memories. I would never forgive myself. I don't know how I would ever leave her alone again. Bella can't seem to wait for trouble to come to her, no matter how fast it approaches. She has to go search for it, seek it out. I can't stand letting her out of my sight, not knowing where she is.
I hated that I was the one to cause the pain on her face now, so I reassured her, "It can wait."
She replied again almost immediately, "That's ridiculous."
Ridiculous? My concern is ridiculous?
I was about to speak, but she continued, "I mean, I know she couldn't see me with Jacob, but you should have known -"
I couldn't let her go any further, so I spoke, "But I didn't."
Of course both Alice and I had both been banking on the hope that Bella was alright, but we really had no idea if she was injured, or even dead. Anything could have happened to Bella, and that is definitely not an understatement. Besides, even if I had known, I could not allow Bella to associate with werewolves. They were dangerous, and if you add Bella, the 'danger magnet' into the mix, you are practically begging for disaster.
I pulled myself out of my thoughts and continued, "And you can't expect me to let you -"
She cut me off, "Oh, yes, I can."
What? No! Can she not see and understand the danger? Every time that I leave to go hunting, I almost die again, knowing how it makes her feel. Now she was going to add intense anxiety for her safety, to the guilt I already felt for leaving her?
Bella was still talking, I had only been thinking for a half-second. "That's exactly what I expect -"
No, no werewolves. Never again.
"This won't happen again." I told her. She could not be around those animals any longer. It was too dangerous, and not right.
"That's right!" She burst out. I momentarily relaxed as I heard the words I wanted to hear come out of her mouth. But then I tensed up again as I realized that the tone was wrong.
What she said next, I wanted to hear even less. "Because you're not going to overreact next time."
Bella said this with such finality that I knew she was expecting to make it back to La Push. I repressed another growl that was growing in my chest. "Because there isn't going to be a next time." I gave my statement more finality than she had injected into her own.
"I understand when you have to leave, even if I don't like it -"
I heard the slight emphasis that she placed on "you" and interrupted her, "It's not the same. I'm not risking my life."
Even if I was mixing with "dangerous" company when I left - which I wasn't - it wouldn't hold near the same amount of potential damage for myself as it did for her. I was a vampire, simple as that.
As she heard my reply, she bit out a quick retort, "Neither am I."
I couldn't dance around the subject any longer, I had to tell her exactly what I was thinking. I did give her a bit of a toned-down version of my thoughts, however, "Werewolves constitute a risk."
She became defensive again, "I disagree."
I was exasperated and frustrated; and even with her in my arms, I was having a hard time controlling myself. I let out another inaudible rumble to relieve some stress. "I'm not negotiating this, Bella."
She persisted, "Neither am I."
This time, I gripped my hands into fists against her back. How could she do this to me?
She spoke again, "Is this really just about my safety?" Of course it was! What else could she think?
"What do you mean?" I asked
"You aren't . . ." She drifted off, absorbed in her thoughts for a split second. It seemed like eternity before she finished her statement. "I mean, you know better than to be jealous, right?"
Jealousy... I mulled that idea over in my head for a bit. I realized that it was probably what I had been struggling with all day; and with further scrutiny of my reactions, I would almost bet my Volvo that that's exactly what it was.
I decided that I should let Bella know that it was very possible for me to be jealous. I looked at her and raised one eyebrow as I inquired, "Do I?"
She gave me a brief look of disbelief and said, "Be serious."
I looked at her with more intensity, and spoke again, "Easily – there is nothing remotely humorous about this." No, my love for her was no joke. Anyone who was fortunate enough to find what we had, would do anything in their power to preserve it. Why wouldn't I get jealous? I had more right than anyone to be protective, and more resources than most to back up my defense.
Bella frowned, and slightly narrowed her eyes in suspicion, "Or . . . is this something else altogether? Some vampires-and-werewolves-are-always-enemies nonsense? Is this just a testosterone-fueled -"
I had to cut her off, "This is only about you. All I care is that you are safe." I tried to communicate the absolute truth of these statements to her with my eyes. Yes, vampires and werewolves never got along, but that would never interfere in my quest for her safety. If there was some reason that being with the wolves was better for her than I would go along with it. There was an infinitesimal chance that that would ever happen though...
Bella briefly searched my expression and sighed as she spoke again, "Okay. I believe that."
I gave the smallest sigh of relief.
"But I want you to know something -"
This could be bad...
"- when it comes to all this enemies nonsense, I'm out. I am a neutral country. I am Switzerland."
Did she just compare herself to a country? I didn't know whether to interrupt, laugh, or be quiet. I settled for the third choice, letting her continue.
"I refuse to be affected by territorial disputes between mythical creatures."
Again, I found it hard not to chuckle, but I refrained. I could hear the seriousness in her tone.
"Jacob is family."
An inaudible snarl broke through here, but Bella continued of course, not hearing it.
"You are . . . well, not the love of my life, because I intend to love you for much longer than that. The love of my existence."
Well, I suppose that did make the most sense. Considering what I knew would come around eventually...
"I don't care who's a werewolf and who's a vampire." She continued, "If Angela turns out to be a witch, she can join the party too."
Having had a few seconds to mull this over, I almost went to argue with her. I stared into her eyes silently, narrowing my own.
She didn't give me a chance to reply, and repeated, "Switzerland."
I frowned; she really wasn't going to give in now, was she? She didn't realize the dangers that the local werewolf population posed, but I was not about to let her find out, either. I suppose I would have to find a different way to keep her safe.
I knew it would be in vain, but I tried to think how best to present my view once again. I sighed, "Bella . . ."
I began my statement, but didn't finish as I caught a whiff of something more than mildly unpleasant. I scrunched up my nose immediately, wishing to rid my lungs of the scent.
"What now?" She sounded exasperated again.
I decided it was time to lighten the mood a bit. I hated having Bella unhappy around me. I hated her unhappy ever...
I spoke, with just a hint of humor in my tone, "Well . . . don't be offended… but you smell like a dog."
She glanced searchingly into my eyes, and I flashed my crooked grin at her. Her eyes softened, and a smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. With that expression, I knew that we were alright. For now.
Alright, I must say, I am proud of that piece. =) It would not have been published without the few virtual kicks in the pants I got from my new, fantastic beta: SoccerMonkey16. She did an amazing job, and I have convinced her to deal with me on a few other projects.
This can be read as a one-shot, but it also fits into my Fic. "Hidden Sentiments." If you haven't read it, go check it out.
I always appreciate constructive criticism, it can only improve my writing, and that's what I shoot for. So, if you have the time, please drop a review; I'd love to hear from you!