Title: Getting It All Out
Author: Sare Liz
Beta: Colleen P.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Continuity: DESS, Book 3, Chapter 5. BPOV.
Author's Note: I promised myself I would not write from Bella's point of view, partially because I did not think I could make her the same character that Ms. Meyer did, and thought that would be off-putting for readers. But I found I really wanted to get in her head for this one.
I took my truck out of the drive and pulled into the street. I wasn't really sure where I wanted to go, but I just wanted to drive. For the first time since I met him, I didn't crave Edward's presence and this particular moment was one of the rare times when he wasn't around.
Neither was Charlie, for that matter.
I pushed it from my mind, locking it securely in a room in my head. No, not even a room. It didn't get to have a room to itself. It got a utility closet. Maybe a closet underneath the stairs, like the one that Harry Potter had to deal with when his family was abusing and neglecting him.
Who would that do to a person?
I let my mind wander over the inexplicability of life and fiction as I drove. The diner caught my eye and I pulled in, not sure if I was hungry or not, but maybe I could get a cup of tea, or maybe just sit in the parking lot.
That was stupid. I shouldn't just sit in the parking lot. Tea. I could go and get some tea. Maybe a cup of soup, or something.
Theresa, the waitress greeted me as I came in and slid into a chair at the counter.
"Um, what kind of soup do you have today?"
"Beef barley and vegetable noodle."
"Um, I'll... uh, take the vegetable soup. And a cup of tea, please," I said, distractedly.
"Sure thing, sweetie. I'll put that right in for you."
She put a napkin and some silverware in front of me and my tea was there before I could even really start playing with the napkin.
"That's some ring you got there, Bells."
I smiled up at her, but didn't respond otherwise.
There were sounds around me, people chatting and laughing and eating, but I felt silent and alone, and it was a good thing. Maybe. It was interrupted by the vibration of my phone in my jeans pocket. I pulled out the fancy thing and read the text message.
'What would you like for dinner, love?'
Well, it was better than a boldfaced 'where the hell are you?' which I sort of expected. And that was unfair of me. Edward wasn't really like that, and even if he were to say something like that, it would probably just be out of worry for me.
I texted him back, but it I wasn't particularly quick about it. I'm just not really adept at that sort of thing, and I constantly have to go back and fix spelling errors.
'Nothing. I'm eating now.'
I knew he'd probably want more information than that, but if he could be satisfied with less, I wasn't going to offer more. It's not so much that I was too busy thinking, but I just... I couldn't... I didn't want to be in my house, or his house. I didn't want to be reminded of mortality or immortality. I didn't want to think about Alaska or Forks or time tables or babies or an ancient succubus that might become my step-mother. And Edward wanted to talk about it. He wanted to help. And so I didn't particularly want to be around him right now, either.
No, that's not fair, either. I always wanted to be around Edward, but it was so convoluted and complicated. I couldn't be around Edward without knowing that he wanted to talk about Charlie and Tanya and even looking at Edward made me think of Tanya and how she'd once decided that he was good husband material, which, okay he was, but no one gets to think that but me. And now she's moved onto my father. And it's not like that, either, because she essentially imprinted on him, so it's totally unfair of me to be anything but happy for her, and if that's true, then Charlie probably feels toward her something like I feel for Edward, and how can I not respect that? I don't think Charlie's been happy like that since Renee left.
But if Charlie is feeling that way, then it's news to me. It's all business as usual at the Swan household, except that he spends two hours talking to Tanya each night. Two hours.
If I was limited to spending only two hours a day with Edward, I'd die.
So maybe it's not working like that for Charlie. Or maybe it is, and he's just not emoting, which wouldn't be the most surprising thing in the world. But what if it's not? What if he's only luke warm? What if she's mistaking the matter? Okay, that's not fair, either. Edward assures me that you can't mistake this sort of thing, and I do believe him. But what if there's something going wrong on Charlie's end? What if whatever mental powers that he seemed to genetically pass on to me are affecting this for him? What if I could only reciprocate with Edward because he had the psychic ability to climb inside my brain and get past my defenses? Tanya can't do that. What if Tanya is doomed to a one-sided mating?
And yet, Tanya isn't really my first priority. Or my second. I don't want Charlie forced into something that he isn't keen about. And while I don't think anyone could twist Charlie's arm to do something he didn't want to do, I also absolutely know that he... well, he already said this was something he'd do, if it was necessary. Charlie's sense of obligation... I think it sometimes covers more than it should. What if he decides to go for it out of a misplaced sense of obligation instead of actual love, and then he and Tanya go off, but then he gets tired of her? I'm not sure she'd take that well. Worse, what if he stays with her because he feels obligated, and then ends up living for decades and decades and maybe even centuries in misery?
My phone vibrated in my hand and I looked down at it. 'Where are you, sweetheart?'
I could almost hear Edward ask the question gently, with no assumption or condemnation in his voice. I answered honestly.
'The diner. And before you ask, yes you can join me.'
My soup came a moment later. I was guessing that it would take Edward four minutes or less to get here, and that he would probably just run, given that he would assume I'd driven. This was only true if he'd been cooking at Charlie's house, of course, but it was the right day for it. If he was starting out from the Cullen Manse, then it would take longer, maybe ten minutes.
But then he was sliding into the chair at my right. I checked the time on my phone. Yep. Just under four minutes. I turned my head and met his lips as he leaned over with a questioning look on his face. When he pulled back after our chaste kiss, he spoke quietly.
"Where you timing me?"
I shrugged and nodded.
He charmed Theresa when she came for his order, and he choose a cup of coffee and the berry cobbler, but I wasn't sure I wanted to eat that. A rather unkind part of me pointed out that he could eat his own damn cover food, but I'm glad that part was behind a locked door. I wasn't always very nice, but I tried to keep it to a minimum.
Edward was uncharacteristically silent, but that was just as well. I knew that the only way to forgo his own mild version of the Spanish Inquisition was for me to just tell him what was on my mind. I took another spoonful of the soup and considered the fact that Edward and Emmett has spoiled my palate because this just wasn't very good. I also flung open the door marked 'Siberian Vampire Bitch' and let Edward in. Also, I thought about the fact that I really wasn't enjoying the soup. I was kind of hoping that we could go home and make something better, after all.
Edward fed me a bite of the cobbler. It was okay.
"You know it doesn't work like that, love," Edward remarked softly as I chewed my mouthful. I just shrugged. It wasn't like Charlie was being obvious about any affection that he may or may not be feeling about Tanya.
Also, I was starting to crave bacon. Yeah, bacon sounded really good right now. Or maybe steak. With those mushrooms and onions on top? With a side of bacon. And maybe a baked potato. Didn't usually crave bacon, but I was totally craving it now. The vegetable soup was just not cutting the mustard. I thought I wasn't supposed to have weird cravings until I was pregnant. Weird. Yeah, weird.
Edward rubbed the back of his knuckle up and down the outside of my upper arm. I was mentally debating the merits of giving into what I knew he would offer. Abandoning this meal, and after a quick trip to the grocery store he'd make me the dinner I craved. All things considered, in about 90 minutes I could be eating the food I was craving. My mouth started to water. I listlessly stirred the soup. But I wasn't really here for the food, anyway.
"You want to tell me why you're really here?" he asked, his voice soft and low as he leaned into me slightly.
I shrugged and kept stirring my soup until that lost it's appeal. The cracker I'd broken into it was getting seriously soggy. I put my cold fingers around the mug of tea, instead, and just held it.
Dad. Charlie. No, today he was Dad. Clearly, I was having a bit of a problem adjusting to the idea of him not just with a girlfriend, no, no-that wasn't it. It was him having an immortal girlfriend who was going to want him to be an immortal, too. I was feeling incredibly bitchy, and I knew I had no right to hold him back from anything he wanted to do, but I didn't like it. There. I finally admitted it to myself. And Edward, of course. I didn't like it.
Edward, I don't like it.
"If it makes you feel any better, it threw me for a loop, too," he said quietly.
I shrugged. Quick loop. Maybe that was one of the advantages of being a vampire. You react strongly, but you can get over it faster, what with the processing and all. Then I considered that a bit more. Nope. Not according to how Edward has reacted in the past. The day before Halloween is what I was considering in particular. Did not get over that quickly. When from zero to sixty before I could blink, but did not get over that quickly. Seems vampires and humans weren't so different, then. Different things affected us with different intensity. For Edward, bruising me was a much bigger deal than Tanya imprinting on Charlie.
The boy has no sense of proportionality, clearly.
When this happened with Renee, I was happy for her. I was sad, a little, because for so long it was just me and her, and we were best friends, but it was so clear that Phil was good for her. He was much younger than she was, but he was so responsible. His sense of responsibility and ambition really balanced out his youth and energy. He was... yeah. He was a well-balanced guy, and he and Renee just clicked. It was really sweet.
I know that in theory Charlie and Tanya clicked. That was the whole vampire mating thing. But it didn't seem to me that they clicked, and Charlie didn't look particularly happy about it, either, for however Tanya seemed sort of freakily star-struck in odd moments.
But that was a mean way to think, particularly from me. I'm newly mated. I should have a little compassion on the poor woman. I'm left completely awed and dazzled by Edward on a regular basis and it's all I can do most mornings to get up and go to school when every fiber of my being wants to stay in bed with him. As it is, we're not apart for more than two or three hours at a time during the day, and that's on a bad day.
And that's the crux of it, I guess. I didn't particularly like her. Charlie didn't seem particularly overwhelmed by the woman who had imprinted on him. And I was in no position to be the bitch I really wanted to be, since Charlie had been just amazing to Edward when he really didn't have to be, and I'm so, so grateful that he was.
Edward put his hand between my shoulder blades and rubbed slightly. "You don't have to like her, Bella. I had to earn your father's trust, and it didn't happen all at once. If you can only give her a chance-just decide to not hate her-then you can let her do the rest of the work."
I turned to him. Damn, he was pretty. I fielded a sudden rush of gratitude that he was mine, but I didn't let it overtake my otherwise craptastic mood. "What if I want to hate her?" I knew I was being petulant, but I was also being as honest as I could. Sometimes the two things were synonymous.
He leaned toward me so his forehead rested against mine. I closed my eyes and breathed him in. I felt myself relax.
"Why do you want to hate her?" he asked quietly, our privacy assured even in the midst of the diner.
Because she wanted you, Edward. And now she's got my father, but she wanted you first, and I don't like the idea of her going through all the important men in my life until she finds the right one. And I don't like the idea of her having ever hit on you. And I really, really don't like the idea that maybe there was a part of you that was kinda okay with her attention toward you. She is, after all, like, devastatingly gorgeous.
He picked up my left hand and held it to his lips. He kissed my engagement ring.
"There is so much I want to say to you, but I can't say it here. Can we please leave, my love?"
I shrugged and went to pull out my wallet, but Edward beat me to it. He put a twenty on the counter and helped me with my coat. I handed my keys to him but he gave me a shrewd look and handed them back after a moment. I think he probably knew that I was about ready to curl up in the passenger side of the bench seat in my truck and close up everything tight, up to and including my mind.
You're a tricky one, Mr. Masen.
I think he rolled his eyes at me. In the truck, I turned on the engine to get a little heat, but I kept the truck in park. He started talking pretty much immediately.
"You need to know, Bella," he started off, sitting sideways in the seat with his left leg bent at the knee and his booted foot dangling off. I was looking at his boot. It was in immaculate condition, of course. I bet he bought new boots every season, or Alice did, either one. "You need to know," he started again, knowing I wasn't strictly focusing on his words, "that if-if-I had felt even the tiniest bit of anything for Tanya at any point, I would tell you so you could work through it. I would. The truth is that I've never felt anything for her. I've held her in contempt more often than not, though it shames me to admit it. She is as physically attractive as any one of us, but I knew what she was thinking all along. She never really wanted me. She didn't bother to get to know me, either. She found me attractive enough and she was really, really tired of being alone and without a mate. She wasn't particularly upset when I declined her offer, though every time our two families met she would inquire as to whether or not I'd changed my mind.
"Bella, I don't remember much about my life before I was changed. I know my family was fairly affluent. I know I very much wanted to join the army and fight in the war. I know I thought the world of my mother. I know my father was a lawyer. I don't know if I had a sweetheart, though I like to think I would have remembered if I did. But I do know this, Bella. And you need to listen well to this part. From 1918 until the day I saw you in the cafeteria, I lived a completely chaste and celibate life. More than that. I never felt remotely attracted to anyone. I did not desire. I did not crave. I did not lust. Maybe it was because I could hear their thoughts before they could even see me and was turned off by them before I could even be turned on. I don't know the reason. I just know that it's true. Rosalie thought I was gay. Esme thought I'd been turned too young. Neither one of them was right. I just hadn't met you, yet.
"And when I met you, you changed everything."
I nodded and reached a finger to trace a line of stitching on his boot. I knew that. I'd read his journals. I really had changed everything. I, or this relationship we were in, maybe.
"You're everything to me, Isabella. And I love you just as much as you love me."
My eyes flicked up to his and I smiled a small smile of concession just before I nodded. I glanced up at him again and gave him the mental come hither.
Get over here, you.
His kiss was sweet and soft and I sighed into it. Kissing Edward was always full of win, really. His tongue was silk and-then we were interrupted by a knocking on the window.
I turned around to see Charlie standing there with one eyebrow raised. I quickly rolled the window down, sending a silent thanks to Rosalie that I was able to do so.
"In the parking lot of the diner? Really?" he said with no preamble. He had his hands on his hips, which was actually a pretty intimidating stance when he was in uniform, as he was at present.
"We had to work some stuff out," I said vaguely. "Um, can we... um, talk... tonight? Do you think you could maybe come home a little early?" I wanted this conversation to be without Jacob, Leah, or Tanya present.
"I've been wondering when this was going to happen." He nodded. "Sure. How 'bout I shoot for four o'clock?"
"Edward, you gonna be around?"
I glanced back at him and shrugged. Edward looked to me, and then to Charlie before he responded. "If you'd like me to be, I can be. Otherwise I can make myself useful in the kitchen, or completely scarce if you prefer."
"Nah, I got a few questions for you, if that's alright."
I never thought about that, but it made sense. Of course Charlie would have questions for Edward. Really, Edward or Carlisle, since after a few fishing trips the two had bonded pretty well, but Edward was more convenient.
"So," Charlie started again. "What's for dinner? Or have you already eaten, now?" he asked, glancing over to the front door of the diner and back again.
"Steak and potatoes with a side of bacon," Edward answered.
"A side of bacon?" Charlie asked.
"A side of bacon," Edward confirmed.
"You still okay with Tanya coming over tonight?"
"Alright. And ixnay on the PDAs, okay? You need to make out, take it indoors."
I briefly wondered if the middle of the diner would be a better locale, but decided not to ask. I nodded again, instead.
I rolled up my window and turned the key in the ignition. As I pulled out of the parking space, Edward scooted over and put his hand on my leg, just above my knee.
"Are you going to be okay?" he asked gently.
I nodded. The worst had passed, I think. I still didn't like her, but I could now at least admit to the fact. And I could also admit to the fact that Edward had never been tempted by what she'd offered him. And I could admit that she probably was a perfectly fine person with her very own list of redeeming qualities. I just didn't know what they were, yet.
"Thank you for coming and finding me."
"Always, love. I'm sorry I pushed so hard that you felt the need to escape."
It reminded me of the day before Halloween. Oh, how the roles had been reversed, today.
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