When 'No' Means NO!

AN1: This one shot fell off the back of the truck while I was working on TBE18. Yet another part of Eclipse that bugged me, in the same vein as "Wish Granted". Many thanks to my betas Im2xshy and jdficwriter for the fast turnaround.

AN2: This little AU moment assumes that Bella never had her lobotomy and her spine removal in preparation for Eclipse, and that she was still the mature and perceptive young woman that we saw in Twilight and New Moon...as opposed to the needy deep-fried prawn that prolonged exposure to Jacob turned her into. The story starts in the middle of Charlie's 'you must date Jacob too' guilt trip, but assumes that Bella held onto enough of her personal integrity to do the right thing. Something sadly lacking in Bella's character throughout Eclipse. It also assumes that Charlie isn't quite the manipulative demanding schmuck that SM turned him into. The opening line is one of Charlie's less than sterling moments as a father. Come with me and let's watch Bella grow a set.

Disclaimer: SM owns the property. If she sues, she wins and I lose.

Quote from Eclipse; Chapter 1 "Ultimatum" pg. 14

"Isn't Edward up for a little healthy competition?" Charlie's voice was sarcastic now.

"No," I said firmly.

Charlie looked uncertain for a moment, as if unsure of what I meant. When he finally spoke again he tried to recapture the upper hand. "You mean he's not up for it?" he said, with a bit of a smirk that I didn't care for at all.

"No, I mean I'm not up for forcing a competition where none exists. Jacob is a friend, maybe my best friend, but Edward is my boyfriend."

Charlie's face started to redden a bit. "I could debate that with you, Bells."

"Debate what? Jacob's status or Edward's?"


"Dad, I love you, and I'm sorry for the worry I caused you, but this is one thing you don't get a vote on. Especially this way."

"What way?" he snapped.

"This guilt trip. I miss Jacob, I do, but I'm not playing his game. I've tried calling him. I've tried writing him notes. I've tried all the forms of communication allowed under the terms of my grounding, and he's shut me out completely."

"That's why I'm offering you your freedom, in spite of the damn motorcycle stunt. So you can go and see him."

"That 'damn motorcycle' as you call it was rebuilt by Jacob, at my request. He taught me to ride it, and we both hid that from you for months, Charlie. Why do you think he dropped it off in our driveway now?"

Charlie didn't miss my switch to using his full name, and apparently caught my meaning. I was over 18 and he knew it.

"I told you, he was just being responsible."

"Responsible? Dad, Jacob played you like a two-dollar banjo. He didn't know that I was grounded already. He thought that I was avoiding him for Edward's sake. He dropped the motorcycle in your lap as a purely tactical move to piss you off and make you lock me up. Away from Edward. He and Billy are both playing you now."

Apparently this wasn't going the way that he'd planned at all. "Bella, he misses you. Billy says that he's really depressed."

I sighed as I felt my heart twist. "Dad, I don't doubt that he's depressed, but he can talk to me anytime that he wants to. He simply won't do it. He's acting like a jilted boyfriend, something that he wanted to be to me, but never was; because no one could ever take Edward's place in my heart."

Charlie opened his mouth, but I held up my hand to forestall him and reached into pocket to pull out Jacob's note. Holding it up I said, "This is Jacob's latest note, the one that you just brought back." I handed it to him. "Read it."

Charlie read the brief bitter lines, pursed his lips, and gave it one more try. "He's really hurting, Bells."

I nodded sadly. "I know that, dad, believe me I do, but I can't give him what he wants. He wants Edward and his whole family out of my life, and he wants you walking me, in a wedding dress, down the aisle to him. He wants his happily ever after with me. And that is never ever going to happen. Even if Edward had never come back, it never would have happened. Not the way that he wanted it to. I want to be his friend, dad, and I owe him for helping me keep it together while Edward was gone. But I can't give him what he wants from me. And I can't give him anything at all unless he's willing to accept that. I won't two-time my boyfriend to keep my best friend, unless my best friend is actually willing to act like what he's supposed to be, and not what he wants to be."

Charlie stared at me for a long moment, as if weighing the options, then sighed. "Okay, Bells, you've convinced me. No matter how I feel about Edward, you know that I don't like the feud that the Quileutes keep holding onto with the Cullens. You're free to do as you please. Just…don't forget that you do owe Jacob a lot, and be ready to meet him halfway if he decides to try it your way.

"Actually I owe him more than you'll ever know, Charlie, but you can never know about that. I owe him my life, but I don't owe him the rest of that life," I thought.

My heart still ached, but I forced myself to ignore it, because it was nothing compared to the pain of the recent past. "I miss him too, dad, but not enough to throw Edward away by trying to hang onto Jacob as my friend if he won't be hung onto."

Charlie looked defeated, but stood up to give me a hug anyway. "I keep forgetting that you're growing up, Bella. And I don't like it much when I remember." He pulled away. "Let's get this mess cleaned up, so you can start your first evening of freedom off right." He frowned when he recalled how that evening would be spent…with Edward…but it passed quickly. "By the way, you've got some mail…."

The End