Bulletproof

Ok. This is my take on the conversation between Edward and Charlie. I don't know where Bella is, so please don't ask. This is just an idea that wouldn't leave me alone until I wrote it. Hope I didn't butcher Edward's character too badly.

Disclaimer: As much as I wish otherwise, the only parts of Twilight that I do, or will ever, own are my very much abused copies of the books. I'm just having a little fun here.

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He's a decent guy. I can't forget that. Think about how he looked when Jake got hurt. As much as I'd like to kill him for hurting Bella…

I sat across from Bella's father, unsure of how to broach this subject with him. I could say it straight out; 'Charlie, I asked Bella to marry me, and she agreed,' but that would likely send him lunging for his gun. And then I'd have to explain how I didn't even bleed when the bullet entered my chest; if it did. I wasn't entirely certain that it would go through my skin. I've never been shot before. So it would be better to broach the subject carefully, no matter how much I longed to shout that Bella had finally agreed to marry me.

"Charlie, I need to talk to you about Bella and me. I know that you neither like nor trust me," I almost smiled, Charlie had absolutely no idea how well I knew his thoughts. "But it's time I explained myself and my actions to you. I ought to have done it a long time ago."

Damn right! I've been waiting for this. Let's see what he comes up with. The punk kid better make it good. Charlie folded his arms over his chest, glaring at me. "So?"

"I'm not going to make any excuses, Charlie. I have none, beyond the fact that I thought I was doing the right thing." I frowned, unable to avoid wondering, yet again, whether Bella was actually better off without me. She didn't understand how dangerous my world was for her, an accident- prone human. I'd almost given up hope that she ever would.

"You thought you were doing the right thing?" Charlie demanded, furious. How can hurting her like that be 'the right thing'? How?

"I thought Bella would be safer without me around. She's been hurt so many times, because of me. Remember Phoenix?

How the hell could I forget that? I almost lost her…. And I still haven't gotten a satisfactory explanation about why she ran away in the first place.

"She ran away. When I followed, insisting that she come talk to me, she fell out a window, Charlie." Not that that was what had really happened, but I could hardly tell Charlie that his daughter had been the victim of a vampire attack. An attack that was my fault because I'd asked her to go to that stupid baseball game in the first place, exposing her to James and his coven. I had made so many stupid decisions where she was concerned.

"I insisted that she come to my home for a birthday party, despite her objections, and she ended up falling into a stack of glass plates; I don't even know how many stitches Carlisle put in her arm. I've lost count of the number of times she's fallen while walking somewhere with me. I thought she'd be safer without me around." Not to mention that I had actually thrown her into those plates, to save her from my bloodthirsty brother. And I couldn't forget the danger I myself presented to her. I'd so nearly lost control of the monster, that first day, slaughtering her and a roomful of children. How many times, after that, had I nearly lost control? The first night I entered her room, the first night I stayed with her, the day James had bitten her. There were too many instances to count. It would kill me to hurt her again. I only truly gained control of the monster when I thought she was gone from my life forever. And she still wasn't safe with me. Because of my idiocy, the Volturi were after her.

Could he care? "Those kinds of things have always happened to Bella. She inherited my balance problems, and they somehow managed to get worse. Falling out that window wasn't the first time Bella almost managed to kill herself, tripping over her own feet. Why do you think I bought that iron monstrosity of a truck for her to drive? Charlie was chuckling, now. He's a decent guy. I can see where he's coming from. I've felt like that too. Bella seems like she can't be safe, sometimes. Now I know why he left, but what made him come back? And I still don't know why Bella disappeared for three days…

I laughed a little too. "I know that, intellectually. But it's hard to remember that whenever she gets hurt around me. I also know that leaving her was the worst mistake I have ever made." I shuddered, remembering the pain. "You see, leaving her taught me exactly how much I love her. My concerns for her safety meant little in the face of the pain. I know Bella suffered more than I did, but she won't talk about it. She tries not to think about it. I hurt her so much… I hold myself entirely responsible, and I will regret what I did for the rest of my life. When I left, I knew I loved her, I knew why I left her. She did not have that comfort. And yet, she managed to deal with the pain much better than I did."

WHAT! How can THAT be 'dealing with the pain'? I suppressed shudder as yet another image of how she looked when I left flashed through his mind. There was no life in that image. How could I live with having done that to her? But it was an image I deserved to see. In truth, I deserved far worse. I still don't understand how she took me back so easily, when I hurt her so much. She was truly an amazing woman. I didn't deserve her.

"When I left her, I couldn't be around my family. I ran away. I spent the time curled up in a corner, letting the pain have me. Bella got up each morning, and tried to be normal, tried to live he life. That is something I wasn't strong enough to do."

Charlie was surprised. He hadn't been expecting my confession, that much would have been clear even without his thoughts.

"I decided that a clean break from me, for her safety, would be better for her than extended goodbyes. I thought that she would move on; find happiness with someone who wouldn't let her get hurt. I was very childish, and wouldn't even let Alice tell her goodbye. Amazingly, Alice listened to me, but I suppose she thought everything would eventually work itself out. Then she decided that the entire situation was beyond ridiculous, and came back for a visit. She says that if she had had any idea how badly Bella was affected, she would have dragged me back long before things got to such extremes. She tried to contact me, to tell me that I needed to return, but I wouldn't answer her calls. When Bella told Alice that she had tried cliff diving as a way to distract herself from her pain, Alice called Rosalie. She knew that Rose wouldn't give up until I talked to her. When I did, Rose accidentally made it sound like Bella had been trying to kill herself. I called here, and asked to speak to you. Jacob answered the phone. He told me that you were at the funeral. I thought he meant Bella's funeral."

He thought she was dead? If he loves her half as much as she thinks he does, I can't even imagine what that felt like. "And?" Charlie still wasn't letting me off. I didn't blame him. I deserved far worse.

"When I hung up on Rose, she knew something was wrong. She called Alice back, and told her what had happened. Alice and I are quite a bit closer than Rose and I are, and Alice knew what I was likely to do. She knew that the only way to stop me was to prove that Bella was alive. She tried to call me herself. When I didn't answer, she decided to get on the first plane to L.A."

Is he saying what I think he's saying? Was he going to kill himself because he thought Bella was dead? Charlie stared at me, hardly able to believe what he was hearing.

"I guess I don't need to spell it out for you, Charlie. If they'd been even five minutes later, I would have succeeded. In fact, it was so close that when I saw Bella running towards to me, I thought we were both dead." I couldn't help but remember the wonder I'd felt, holding her warm body in my arms in that horrible room in the center of the Volturi stronghold. I couldn't deny the relief I'd felt when they let us go home. It was one of the best moments of my life, realizing that she was alive. The feeling was only surpassed by how I felt when she agreed to be my wife.

He was going to kill himself. And she was alive. "Are you crazy?" he demanded. "Why would you do that? Why would you put your family through that?"

"It's simple, Charlie. Leaving her proved that I could not live without her. The world was empty, tasteless. It was like part of me had already died. I couldn't face the thought that she was gone, let alone the thought that she'd died thinking that I didn't love her." I took a deep breath. It was time to bite the figurative bullet, and hope that Charlie wouldn't go for the real one. "Which finally brings me to the purpose for this conversation."

Oh no. I don't like the sound of that.

"Charlie, I would like to ask for your permission to marry her."

I listened as his thoughts scrambled for the meaning of my words, and I watched the fury build on his suddenly purple face.

"NO! Absolutely not! Are you insane?" Charlie roared. "You're too young." Bella's the same age Renee was. I won't let that happen to her.

"Charlie! Will you listen, please?" I begged him. I could hear his struggle to control himself. Then he asked a single question.

"Why?" Fury dripped from his voice.

"I love her." I shrugged. "What other reason could there be?" In my mind, there was no other reason. I wanted to spend eternity with her.

In Charlie's mind, that was the wrong question to ask.

"What…" he sputtered, unable to voice his thoughts. And then something occurred to him. His mind shied away from it so quickly even I couldn't hear what it was. Oh God. I'm really going to kill him this time. Where did I put that gun? Charlie rose from his seat on the couch, looking very much like a deranged bull.

"Charlie?" I said, letting the genuine anxiety I felt creep into my voice.

"Get out." Charlie's voice was now calm, and that frightened me even more than the rage. He had gone beyond anger.

"Charlie, I knew you weren't going to like this, but I hardly expected that you would feel so strongly…"

That brought the rage back. "You didn't think I'd be angry that you got my daughter pregnant!" he shouted.

"What?" I'd definitely missed that conclusion in his thoughts. "Bella is not pregnant. It is not possible."

Not possible? Is he really that stupid? Charlie's thoughts were positively howling. In his mind, I saw an image of Bella and myself. I was seducing her, refusing to listen when she told me 'No'. His mind shuddered away from the image, for which I was grateful. When he spoke, his voice was steady, but still dripping with suppressed fury. Had I been mortal, I would have feared for my life. "There is no such thing as foolproof protection."

"Charlie, there is one foolproof method." His thoughts howled incoherently at my words. "Please listen to me! I've never touched her!" Forget the fact that I was a vampire, and completely unable to father children. I was almost positive I couldn't touch her like that without killing her.

He now looked utterly flabbergasted. He sank unsteadily back into his seat, and I would have laughed at his expression had the situation not been so serious. "You haven't?" This time I had to fight the laughter that bubbled to my lips. He almost sounded disappointed!

"No, Charlie. Not like that."

Could he be telling me the truth? Bella told me the same thing. I really hope it is. I don't think they could both be lying to me. Especially Bella. She's a terrible liar. He was beginning to calm down. He believed me, mostly. He had also been expecting that something like this would happen eventually. He had told Bella to let him say goodbye before she ran off with me, after all. Charlie was not a stupid man. He just hadn't expected that his daughter would be getting married so soon.

Then something occurred to him. "You say you haven't touched my daughter," the purple faded from his face, lightening to the same red that always indicated that Bella was embarrassed, "and I think I believe you. But, well, how many other girls have you, uh, slept with?" Look at him. I'm sure that girls throw themselves at him, and I've never known a teenage boy who could resist that kind of thing. He was getting angry again, thinking about how much it would hurt Bella when she found out.

"Charlie, I don't really think that's any of your business, but I think I can understand where that question is coming from. Due to that, I will answer it honestly. I'm just as much a virgin as Bella is. I've never touched anyone in that manner. Especially Bella. I would never use her like that." It was moments like this that I was grateful that it was impossible for vampires to blush. If it were, I would certainly be even redder than he was. The color on Charlie's face darkened further. He was now too humiliated to even consider being angry.

"Okay. Again, I think I believe you, but…" He stopped, far too mortified to continue.

"Why?" I laughed. I couldn't tell him the real reason, of course, 'well, you see, I'm a vampire, and I'm afraid I would loose control of my strength and kill her accidentally while we were being intimate like that," but I did have another story planned for this. "I have been fortunate enough to have had two very moral fathers in my lifetime, and they both worked very hard to instill high moral standards in me. I guess they were successful. I believe that certain things should only be done within the sanctity of marriage."

That's a surprise, Charlie mused, some of his embarrassment fading now that he'd asked the most pressing of his questions. I though all teenage boys were the same. I can never fit him into a pattern. Every time I think I have him figured out, he does something to throw all of it out. Maybe he's not as bad as I thought. Charlie opened his mouth to say something, and then a rather significant detail of my speech sank in. Did he say that he's a virgin?

"Did I hear that last part right?" he asked, face reddening again. I had thought that only Bella could turn that particular shade.

"Yes, I am quite certain that you did."

"That's hard to believe."

"Why? Is it so hard to believe that there are still a few moral teenage boys in the world?" Not that I was a normal teenage boy by any stretch of the imagination. I couldn't even claim to be a normal teenage vampire. Look at the choices I made in my diet. "Besides, if I had done anything like that, especially with Bella, Carlisle would have castrated me."

That startled a laugh out of Charlie. "Yeah," he sniggered, "and he's a good enough surgeon you probably wouldn't even notice what he was doing until he was done!"

"I didn't say he would do it quickly. Carlisle has an extensive collection of antique surgical tools, and he actually knows how to use them. Some were quite ingenious as torture devices. He loves Bella like another daughter. He wouldn't allow anyone to disrespect her."

I suppressed another laugh when Charlie shuddered.

"You really love her enough to marry her?"

"I do. I want to spend the rest of my life with her." Eternity.

"And how will you support her? You're both barely out of high school. How will you survive? It will be very difficult to support yourselves, especially if you decide to go to college. And it will be even harder to support yourselves if you don't continue your education." He was trying to figure out if we'd thought this through. He wanted to bring up the points he was certain we wouldn't have thought of. Didn't he realize how practical his daughter was? She looked at every aspect of a decision before she made a choice. In every situation but her change, anyway.

"Money is not an issue."

"Is that right? And why would money not be an issue?"

"My biological father was a very successful attorney. He and my mother left everything to me when they died. Carlisle and Esme both are the sole heirs to rather substantial family fortunes. When they adopted each of us, they set up very generous trust funds. Carlisle, Alice, and I have also had very good luck with the stock market." No reason to mention that it was a game we'd been playing for nearly a century, and that Alice's abilities helped us drastically. "Money would not be an issue if I lived to be a hundred, Charlie." It will not be an issue for even longer than that, especially considering I'm already nearly a hundred and six years old.

"Are you sure about that?" The skepticism was evident in Charlie's voice, I didn't need his thoughts.

I really didn't want to tell him how much money our family had, but I decided a little bit more information was needed. "I bought Alice a Porsche for her last birthday, Charlie. And if Bella would have let me, I would have bought her an Audi for graduation. It would not have caused me any difficulties. I also still own my parent's house, in Chicago. You needn't worry about my ability to take care of her. You also needn't worry about her education. We both plan to attend college after our marriage."

Charlie's mind was reeling again. Finally, he managed to form a coherent question. "And what does your father say about all of this?"

"Carlisle approves. He just says that he'd rather I didn't elope."

"Huh. I don't like it, much."

"I know. But Bella and I aren't you and Renee. Our story will not end like yours did." It couldn't. Bella was going to get her way and be transformed into a monster. The selfish part of me wanted her far too much to fight her any longer. It just might kill me to steal her soul, though.

"Have you asked Bella about this?"

"Yes. We've talked about it a lot. She agreed." Finally.

"She did?"

"Yes. She wants to do things properly. She wants to have her father walk her down the aisle." She wants her last goodbye.

"I still don't like it." But I knew that I'd won. I could hear the consent in his thoughts.

"Thank you, Charlie."

If he leaves her again, I don't know what I'll do. I don't think Bella would survive something like I went through with Renee. No. I do know. If he hurts her again I will rip him into so many pieces that they'll never find a trace of him.

Charlie. I thought to myself, if I ever hurt her like that again I will let you destroy me.

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It's been done, I know! But I couldn't resist.

Thanks for reading!