A/N: So, here's the deal. I got a couple of answers to my last trivia question that were EVEN BETTER than my original answer. So I've started this story as a gift. This is how it will be updated: by correct (or blow-my-mind) answers to trivia questions posted in my other two Twilight stories (As Children After Play and Lullaby) or by amazingly wonderful reviews to anything I'm currently working on. The amazing trivia answers this time came from twilightobsessed40873a and sherryola, who somehow managed to come up with the same answer.
All standard disclaimers apply.
You want me to tell you a story?
After what you did to Edward, what you did to me, you expect me to willingly stand here and tell you a fucking bedtime story?
Look, I get that things were hard for you. I get that you didn't want me to do what I did. But that's just it - it was my choice. My life. Not yours.
And really, what you did to me pales so fucking much in comparison with what you did to Edward. For all of his beauty and strength, he has such a delicate psyche. And it was like you knew exactly where to hit in order to absolutely break him. It was vile. And even though Carlisle says I should at least think about forgiving you, I really don't see that happening anytime soon.
It's because of him and Esme that you're alive now, you know. Not me. I would have let you die.
Oh, I would have mourned you, sure. I would have cried - as much as I'm able to in my new form. I'd have yearned for what we used to have, what we used to be to each other. But I would not have saved you.
That choice was taken from me.
I don't blame them, though. They thought they were doing me a favor. They thought I would hate myself forever - blame myself - for getting mixed up in their world. Because it was their world that ultimately almost got you killed. But you know what? They were wrong.
I see things so clearly now after opening my new eyes to my new world. I understand in ways I never understood before. I can stand before you in this moment and say that I fully accept myself for who and what I am, and I have absolutely no regrets about anything.
If you were dead, I still wouldn't have any regrets.
No, wait. You know, that's not quite true. The first one, I mean; the second one is completely true. I would not for one minute regret your death the way it was supposed to happen, before Carlisle and Esme decided to intervene on my behalf. But I do have one regret right now. I regret immensely that we're all stuck with each other. You can't leave this place and the protection of this family. I've got wicked control, on the other hand, and Edward and I probably could make it on our own. But Carlisle doesn't think that's a good idea just yet, and the truth is that I don't want to leave him - them. They're my family: Carlisle and Esme, Emmett and Jasper, Alice and Rosalie.
And of course my husband, Edward. That was one thing you weren't able to prevent, no matter how much you tried. You refused to walk me down the aisle - which made the whole ceremony a little awkward, because Carlisle had to do it and he wasn't exactly giving me away. I was becoming his daughter, not the other way around. He and his wife and adopted children are my family. I accept them all fully for who and what they are - even Rose, who doesn't much like me - and I would a hundred times over prefer to be with them than you. I would prefer a thousand times over that we weren't all stuck here together in this awkward situation.
Oh, look. Now you're looking at me with big confused eyes like you're so innocent and you have no idea what I'm talking about. Fuck that, and fuck you, too, while you're at it. Why should I remember so clearly when you don't? It's not fair at all. But this continued awkwardness between us all is ripping my chosen family apart, and I refuse to do that to them. I refuse to let them break.
So I'll tell you.
And trust me - you really don't want to hear this bedtime story.
What a good thing neither of us will ever sleep again.
I ran down the narrow stairs of Charlie's house, my hand on the banister as always. I'd only ever tripped and tumbled down this particular staircase twice, and I was hoping to make it until the end of my life with that record. There was a date set, already. I would die in August, and while I was a little nervous about the actual death part, I was honestly looking forward to it, too. Because death was the necessary requirement in order to spend eternity with my fiance - soon to be my husband - Edward. And there was nothing in the world I would ever want more than that. His sister Rosalie disagreed. She said that once the change occurred and I became like them, became a vampire, I'd crave blood above all else.
She was wrong. But then, Rose has been wrong about a number of things. I don't hold it against her.
But at the moment I was frantically searching everywhere for a blue sundress Alice had bought me specifically for this date. Edward was insistent that I spend as much time as possible with my human friends and family, as the clock was ticking dangerously low on the time I had with them. After he changed me, I would no longer be able to see anyone anymore. We were planning to move to the family's lodge in Alaska, which was far enough away from human civilization that I'd have time to recuperate and learn what I needed to know about my new self. My death would have to be faked for the benefit of my family. It was unfortunate, and the one thing that worried me. I didn't want to lose them. My carefree mother Renee was already testy with me because I was so serious with Edward so young, something she had always, always lectured against.
I thought my police chief father, Charlie, was handling things a little better, but I couldn't be sure. He was so quiet most of the time; kept things to himself. But I really had no idea how he would react once Edward and I told him we were getting married.
We'd put it off for a while - there was some trouble with werewolves and an army of newborn vampires trying to kill me, blah blah blah. You know what we call that in the Cullen household? Just another Tuesday night.
When I was still human, Edward hated it when Emmett and I teased about things like that. Now that I'm not so breakable he's a little more accepting, but I don't think it will ever sit quite right with him. To some part of him, no matter how small, I'll always be the fragile little human girl he fell in love with at seventeen. I'll always be the clumsy girl he saved from death numerous times, even though with my newborn strength I'm more than a match for him now.
We'd planned to go on an afternoon picnic with high school friends, people who would soon scatter across the country for college and we'd likely never see again. They'd hear of my death from a relative still in Forks, maybe, and remember the quiet new kid in town I used to be, but they wouldn't spend much time mourning my death. I was okay with that. They were nice enough kids, I guessed, but we weren't close. It was only Edward's insistence that I needed to keep up with my humanity before I lost it for good that kept me even talking to them. They just weren't as interesting or as caring as my soon-to-be vampire family.
Alice bought me an adorable blue seersucker sundress to wear to the picnic, and for once I didn't argue with her about buying me clothes. It was cute and light, and made me feel...young. Which at eighteen shouldn't bother me, but my lover was halted forever at seventeen, ageless and immortal, and believe me, I had issues with age. I'd pulled my hair up into a high ponytail and dug out a pair of classic black Converse, and I was feeling on top of the world. What better to make you feel young and alive than a picnic with friends and the love of your life?
But after stepping out of the shower, I could not find that dress.
Alice had left it on my bed earlier that day, and I'd tossed it over the back of my desk chair when I was tidying my room before showering. Now it was nowhere to be found. I pulled on an old pair of jeans and t-shirt before throwing myself down the stairs.
"Charlie?" I asked, though it was unlikely he knew anything at all about it. He never went in my room. "My dress is missing. Have you seen it?"
"Dress?" He turned away from the baseball game he was watching on his beloved flat-screen TV and fiddled with the remote. He wasn't a good liar - I got that from him - and I instantly knew something was up. "What dress?" he asked. "You hate dresses."
"What did you do with it?" I demanded.
"I don't know anything about any dress," he said stubbornly.
I couldn't believe it. This was nothing like my father. I thought he and I had a system. I cooked his meals because otherwise he'd just go to the town diner every day, and I took care of him as best I could. In return he gave me a distant, awkward affection and more or less let me do my thing. He didn't at all like Edward, but that couldn't be helped. Did fathers ever like their daughters' boyfriends, no matter how independent and capable she is?
And, believe me, there was a time I was absolutely not independent and capable. There was a time Edward broke me. So I guess Charlie had reason to worry, though Edward and I had worked through it. I'd forgiven him, because he had my best interests at heart and because I couldn't stand to see him hurting, thinking I would never be able to love him again. It took a while, but then, these things do. I forgave him almost instantly, but it was months before I really settled down and began to trust him again. People think the two go hand in hand, forgiveness and trust, but they don't. You can have one without the other. It's an uncomfortable situation, but it's possible.
I can tell you now that I remember the night I was fully able to accept that Edward was back in my life for good. That he wasn't leaving me ever, ever again. It was the night after he'd first asked me to marry him. I'd stalled, not giving him an answer, and his eyes had looked so strange. Not lost or disappointed like I thought they might. Instead, he looked...determined. Possessive. Like he was going to keep at this until I caved.
I was right.
My hunch about Charlie's weird behavior was right, too, and I rushed to the basement laundry. I heard the washing machine before I saw it, and my heart sank. It was on as hot as it would go, and when I lifted the old lid, there was only one thing in there.
A quick spin in the wash won't shrink cotton seersucker, but the blue dye had run and the delicate checked pattern was obliterated in places. The dress was ruined.
"Sorry, Bells," Charlie said, shuffling his feet a little.
I jumped; I hadn't even heard him come down the noisy wooden steps to the basement. All I could do was stare at the dress. Normally I couldn't care less what I wore, but this had been a gift from Alice and I had actually liked it. I sniffed
"I, ah, was getting ready to do a load and checked your room for anything to add. The dress looked dirty. It also looked delicate, so I put it by itself."
"You never do laundry," I said, holding back tears. Over a dress. God, I was becoming Alice. This wasn't good.
"Guess that's why it got messed up. Should have left it to you." But the funny thing was, Charlie didn't really sound sorry at all. He went back upstairs, leaving me holding the wet, ruined dress.
I was still there five minutes later when the doorbell rang. I blinked, snapping back into myself.
The bell rang again, and I frowned. Where was Charlie? I assumed he'd gone back to his game. I put the dripping dress on top of the washing machine and started to make my way up the steep basement stairs.
When the bell rang a third time, I stumbled and twisted my ankle a little bit. Wincing, I pushed my way back to the ground floor of the house.
There was Charlie on the couch, staring resolutely at the TV. It was a commercial.
"You didn't answer the door?"
He wouldn't look at me. "I assumed it was for you," he said, and even to my ears the excuse sounded weak.
"What if it was Jake?" I shot back, irritated with him. I saw him flinch a little, and my anger instantly dissipated. It was just Charlie. Just clueless, bumbling Charlie, who I loved. I sighed and opened the door, just as Edward was about to press the doorbell for the fourth time.
"What's wrong, love?" he asked immediately.
I shook my head and stepped forward, burying myself in his arms. "It's nothing."
"It's not nothing when your face looks like that," he murmured, but he held me close. It was a muggy, overcast day - not unusual for Forks in the summertime - and the chill of his cold body felt good. I turned my cheek to his chest and he tucked my head under his chin, rubbing my back soothingly with one hand while he held me firmly with the other. I loved this - the feeling of being with him, of skin touching skin, even through fabric. It seems strange, because the icy cold of his skin was one of the things that originally tipped me off to his nonhuman-ness, but he never felt more alive to me than when he held me. I imagined, as I pressed my ear to his chest, that I could almost hear his heart beating.
Finally I sighed, knowing he was giving me a moment to compose myself but that he wouldn't give up until I told him what had happened. "Alice gave me a dress for the picnic," I admitted, feeling silly for being sad over such a trite thing. "It...got ruined."
"Did you fall and tear it or something?" he asked, pulling me away from his chest and holding me at arm's length. I felt the intensity of his suddenly worried eyes as he inspected me for fresh injuries. I understood why he thought like that - I was a danger magnet, it seemed.
"No," I assured him, "I'm fine. Charlie accidentally put it in the wash, and..." I shrugged expansively.
Edward frowned, getting that serious look on his face that told me he was rifling through someone's mind. Though I had nothing to hide, I was glad again that he couldn't read my thoughts. Having a vampire fiance was difficult enough without adding mind-reading to the list. Whatever was wrong with me that made him unable to hear my thoughts, there were definitely times I was glad of it.
Finally he stopped, and sort of shook his head. He tried a smile. "Well," he said, "there's no reason you can't go on a picnic in jeans. I think you look amazing just as you are."
I nodded, sliding back into his comforting arms. He was right - there was no reason I couldn't go to the picnic in my old jeans. But a part of me was still inordinately sad. "I liked that dress," I mumbled against his shoulder, and to my horror I felt tears welling up in my eyes. I never cried. Not when I was awake, anyway. Not now that Edward was back in my life.
"Bella, love," Edward said, gentle astonishment in his voice, "are you crying?"
I buried my face in his neck, muffling the tears, and sniffed.
"Over a dress?" he asked, baffled. "If I didn't know any better, I'd ask you if you were pregnant."
It was a joke, because we'd never had sex and he couldn't get me pregnant even if we had, and I wanted to give him a watery laugh. But suddenly Charlie was behind me, his hand on my shoulder pulling me roughly away from Edward. I yelped a little in surprise. It didn't hurt, but Charlie almost never touched me.
"Something you two want to tell me?" he demanded, his eyes narrowing in suspicion.
"It was just a joke," I said, trying to shake off his hand. What had got into my quiet old dad today?
"Sir, I would never - " Edward started, but Charlie cut him off.
"Sure, that's what all the teenage boys say," he growled. "Joking about teen pregnancy isn't funny, young man."
Edward stared at my father, looking intensely uncomfortable. In most situations he was calm and collected, always knowing what to do or say. Only with my protective police chief father did he flounder.
"Dad," I said quietly, "he was kidding. And I'm eighteen now, remember? Graduated and everything. Even if I was pregnant, which I'm not, it wouldn't be teen pregnancy anymore."
He cleared his throat, obviously unhappy with the way the conversation was going, and dropped his hand from my shoulder. I immediately went back to Edward, taking his hand and tugging him toward the door.
"Come on, Edward," I said, though my eyes were still trained on Charlie. "Let's go." Had I said I didn't want him reading my mind? I take that back. I wished I could silently convey to him that we needed to give Charlie a chance to cool down, that I'd try to talk to him later. He never got like this. Something was clearly bothering him - maybe something to do with work - and he was taking it out on us.
But I couldn't just think that at my fiance, no matter how much I wanted to, so I just tugged at his hand.
Edward had other things in mind, though, and he was as still as a block of marble when I tried to pull him out the door. "Sir," he said to my father, "I'm sorry that I disturbed you with the joke. You're absolutely right - teen pregnancy is nothing to laugh about. I was trying to make Bella feel better, but that wasn't the right way to go about it."
Charlie scowled and opened his mouth to say something, but before he could get any words out Edward had lifted my light summer jacket from its hook by the door and draped it over his arm. "We'll be back early," he promised Charlie. "We're just having a picnic with friends from school."
Finally he obeyed my tugging hand and allowed me to pull him out of the house, down the steps and toward his waiting car. I sighed in relief when we were both inside and he turned the key. My dad was standing in the doorway of his house, watching us and not looking pleased.
"What's gotten into Charlie today?" I murmured. It was meant as a rhetorical question, but I saw Edward immediately flinch. He knew something. "What?" I asked, turning toward him a little as we pulled out of the driveway and headed for the park. "Did you see something in his mind?"
"He doesn't like me," Edward said, his voice quietly troubled.
"He's never liked you. No surprises there." I tried to keep my voice light, but in reality I felt as worried as Edward. I didn't want to alienate my father. Charlie was a good guy. A little dense, a little old school, but a good guy. He was the chief of police, and he tried to do the right thing in every situation, in conjunction with his worldview. Was it his fault that his worldview didn't include psychic vampires whisking away his daughter and making her one of them?
Edward only sighed a little, and I saw that my attempt at humor had fallen flat. He was driving with one hand; I took the other and laced my fingers with his, squeezing a little. A flicker of a smile crossed his face, though he kept his eyes on the road. I loved that I could soothe him with my touch, that it had the same effect on him that it did on me. I took our linked hands and raised them to my mouth, kissing his knuckles softly. It bothered him that Charlie didn't like him, and I knew that. But, unlike Edward, I also knew that there wasn't much he - or we - could do about the situation. Charlie had made his decision, and so had I. Edward was the most important thing in my life. I was giving up just about everything else to be with him. And, though Charlie didn't know that yet, I think he could tell where things were heading.
And Edward had hurt me before. My dad was right enough about that. Edward was going to have to accept that I had forgiven him but Charlie had not - not entirely, anyway. He understood that he couldn't keep us apart, but he wasn't happy about it. For my part, I wished I could keep all the men in my life happy. Edward, Charlie, my best friend Jacob... But I couldn't. They wanted such different things, and it was impossible to satisfy them all. I'd had to make a choice, and I chose Edward. They all knew that.
But as I would soon find out, they were not all okay with it.
A/N: OMG, Cris is writing in first person! The world is coming to an end! Love you, duckies!