Tuesday, April 25, 2017 | By: Drotuno

Even in Death Chapter 12

Chapter 12 – Fade to Black
I'll miss the winter
A world of fragile things
Look for me in the white forest
Hiding in a hollow tree (come find me)
I know you hear me
I can taste it in your tears
(Say goodnight) Holding my last breath
(Don't be afraid) Safe inside myself
(Calling me, calling me) Are all my thoughts of you?
Sweet raptured light, it ends here tonight

Closing your eyes to disappear,
You pray your dreams will leave you here;
But still you wake and know the truth,
No one's there...

Say goodnight,
Don't be afraid,
Calling me, calling me as you fade to black.
“Holding My Last Breath” by Evanescence
BELLA
Jimmy Stewart rambled on about the apartment dwellers around him to his stunning girlfriend, Grace Kelly. The theater room glowed with the bright colors of the old movie as the snowstorm outside pushed against the Cullens’ home.
Turning to my side, I took in the way more interesting view in the room. A smile curled my lips as my handsome husband slowly succumbed to the cold he was dealing with at the same time the medicine started to work. Long, dark eyelashes rested against pale, feverish cheeks, and deep breathing caused his chest to rise and fall slowly, but I could hear his lungs, the congestion. He was better than twenty-four hours ago, but he wasn’t completely over this flu.

Edward was – and always would be – the most amazing and important thing in the room. He was, without a doubt, the most beautiful person I’d ever met – heart, body, soul. I shook my head as I reached over, evaluating and then controlling my new strength, in order to brush his hair lightly from his forehead.
Six years of memories and love and smiles flashed through my mind as I took the opportunity to simply stare at him. I knew the second I laid eyes on the gorgeous yet shy guy in the UW library that he was it for me. I was done. The green eyes, the strong jawline, and his sweet, boyish smile were just the tip of the iceberg. Edward was kind and giving, loving and protective. The moment we met, we were instantly friends. The first kiss on our first real date, though, and I was his completely.
Smiling to myself, I leaned in and pressed a light kiss to his temple. “I love you,” I whispered against his warm – almost too warm – skin.
“Mm,” he hummed in his sleepy state, making me chuckle a bit.
This wasn’t the first time I’d watched him sleep since my change. It also wasn’t the first time I’d reached out to touch him as he was oblivious to my presence. I’d lost count of how many nightmares I’d tried to soothe away as Edward cried out in his sleep. Sadness would rip from his broken heart as he fought grief and pain. Watching him attempt to accept my “death” was torture. Watching him sleep now was comforting.
I wasn’t sure there was a force on the planet that could keep me away from him. Laying my head on his chest as he slept contentedly through the movie he’d chosen, I listened to his steadily beating heart, ignoring the rattle of his lungs. Closing my eyes, I thought back to our first date, moving in together, bringing home the little ginger kitten I’d insisted on naming Steve, our small yet beautiful wedding, and finally buying our first home. All the steps that brought us here were so important – UW classes, study dates, late-night phone calls, Edward’s acceptance into medical school.
My brow furrowed a little. None of it was perfect, but all of it made us better.
The first time Edward had told me he’d lost his parents as a child and then meeting his amazing grandmother were important steps when we were dating. Introducing Edward to my father and Jacob was another. These were all the normal steps throughout our relationship that meant everything.
Moving in together was another moment that seemed to move our relationship along faster than most, but Edward knew that medical school would be a hard, busy time, so he wanted us together. Always. He wanted to know that even though his nose was buried in books and his time was taken up by classes and labs, he could still come home to me, that he could reach out for me at any point, and he could spoil me, even when he wasn’t home.
Edward’s warm arm pulled me closer in his sleep, and I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply the scent of him. He was all things warmth and love and protection, except that last thing had changed.
I carefully sat up to look at him. He’d always been the epitome of strength to me. He’d carried on through the death of his parents, and he’d taken care of his grandmother when most boys his age were out partying, drinking, and going out with girls. He was brilliant and talented – the latter as a doctor and as a musician. And even though he rarely talked about it, I knew that losing his grandmother last year had been truly hard on him. He’d lost that last remaining tie to family, which made me the sole purpose and center of his sweet, amazing heart. My Edward had also worked so damn hard to get through medical school ahead of his class that he was one of the youngest residents at Harbor Medical Center.
And if all of that didn’t make him the strongest man I knew, then this new development around us practically made him invincible in my eyes.
Taking his warm hand, I gently played with his long fingers. We were so different now, I silently noted as I placed my hand palm to palm with his. In fact, at that very moment, I could hear his breathing, smell the breakfast he’d eaten, and feel the blood rushing through his veins as I trailed a finger over the inside of his wrist. In comparison to what I’d now become, he was as fragile as the petal of a flower.
What I’d now become…
Shaking my head at that thought, I brought his hand to my lips and pressed kisses to his knuckles as I wrinkled my nose at the word vampire.
The memory of the night my tire had blown out in Forks just after leaving my dad’s house was sharp, almost too clear. I’d pulled off to the side of the road, calling Edward to let him know and then calling my dad to come help me. I wasn’t sure I’d completely tucked my phone into the back pocket of my jeans before the crash in the trees behind me had just about scared me senseless. I’d been picked up and hurting before I could register the tall, blond man holding me by my neck. The piercing pain of my collarbone cracking with his strength had overwhelmed the sense of being held against my will, and I’d barely seen the large forms that had gathered around us – James’s friends, the pack of enormous wolves, and the Cullens.
When James had laughingly bit my wrist, the collarbone wasn’t even in the same range of pain. It was as if acid had been poured into me, starting at my arm and snaking throughout my entire body, even when he dropped me to the ground. Pure agony. And through that excruciating pain, all I’d wanted was the sweet face in front of me.
I’d begged for Edward when I’d been dropped onto the ground of that roadside. I’d begged for Edward when Carlisle’s face appeared in my hazy vision. I’d begged for Edward throughout three burning days of my change into immortality. When I woke up, I stopped begging and started demanding Edward. The thought made me smile now, but I’d wanted nothing to do with anyone trying to help me. At the time, not one of them could bring me comfort, especially since I hadn’t known the Cullens.
Not even Jacob – my best friend since we were children – could make things okay. Nothing had been okay. However, the reality was that I would’ve never gotten through the first few weeks without Jake. His vow to help Edward, and then to watch over him and my father, was one of the things that meant everything to me. His constant pushing of the Cullens to keep me close was another.
Looking at my Edward right then, knowing that he was still here, that he still loved me with the same – perhaps even larger – fierceness that he’d always had was the light at the end of a tunnel I’d been forced to travel. It was all I could do not to wake him just so I could tell him I loved him and hear it said back to me like he always did, with a sweet smile, a tilt to his head, and a warmth in those beautiful green eyes. I’d wanted to kiss him like crazy when he told me that very morning that he wanted this life, wanted an eternity with me. He’d made the decision without even batting an eye.
And suddenly, my world wasn’t such a wrecked place. I wasn’t overloaded or overwhelmed with this thing I’d become, but instead, a life of love and peace spread out in front of me – lifetimes of smiles and secrets and kisses.
Grinning, I bit down on my bottom lip to keep my urge to wake him under control. As much as he wouldn’t have minded, I wanted him to rest. I wanted him better. This cold had hit him quickly, but Carlisle said it was going around, that Edward pretty much had to sleep it off.
I sighed deeply, starting to lay my head back on his chest, when my advanced hearing started to pick up on things outside the theater room. Getting up, I pressed a long, light kiss to Edward’s feverish forehead, whispering I loved him, and then stepped out into the hallway.
“Oh, Bella…we’ve got a problem,” Jasper muttered, stepping into Carlisle’s study to grab a lighter and peek out the window.
“Victoria?”
“Nope. Charlie.”
My mouth fell open. “You’re joking.”
“I wish I was, but your dad’s here,” he said through a frustrated sigh. “You have to stay low, stay hidden. Carlisle and Esme are going to try to get rid of him, but he’s puttin’ out some serious determination. I wish I knew why, but…” He shrugged, but his gaze shot toward the window when the eerie sound of a wolf’s howl barely broke through the heavy snow falling outside.
That’s Victoria…” My still heart sinking as my eyes betrayed me. I glanced from the window to the closed door of the theater room.
“Shit!” Jasper hissed, nodding as he told me to stay quiet before he stepped out into the stormy weather, closing the French doors behind him. I could hear him call for Rose and Alice to join him. Emmett was already out there.
Movement out the windows caught my eye, and I saw way more than just the Cullens and wolves shifting around out there. Blurs of running vampires who were circling the house began to get closer and closer.
I wasn’t sure what to do. I couldn’t leave Edward, but I couldn’t have them move in while my dad was here either. I darted up the stairs to my bedroom and straight to the window, scaring poor Steve to hide under the bed, but I couldn’t help it. I gazed down at the front door. My dad stood there angry and, like Jasper had said, determined.
“I haven’t heard from my son-in-law in two weeks, Dr. Cullen!” he practically snarled, holding up two fingers. “I drive to his home, and it’s locked up tighter than a drum. Tell me where he is!”
“Chief Swan, please calm down,” Carlisle tried to soothe him, but his eyes betrayed him, glancing briefly around at the activity going on out in the woods. Thankfully, the storm was hiding it from Charlie’s human ears. “There is a rather nasty flu making its rounds, and Edward caught it. He’s upstairs as we speak, but he’s sleeping. I promise you I’ll have him call you when he’s feeling up to it.”
“Why is he here?” my father asked suspiciously, pointing to the ground.
Carlisle smiled, and it was a bit sad to my eyes. “Well, I’d like to think that Edward and I have become good friends, and my wife offered to care for him while he was ill. We’re aware he recently lost his wife and lives alone. We have the room, and Edward was too sick to argue.”
My father blinked rapidly. I was a bit upset with Carlisle for using the recent widower angle, but it made sense, and it was something Charlie could understand.
“I wish he’d called me,” Dad said sadly, shaking his head. “I worry about the boy. I can’t help it. My Bella… She would’ve wanted me to watch over him. They loved each other. And he’s so lost without her. I just…” He shrugged a shoulder, and my eyes burned with the need to cry.
“Oh, Dad,” I breathed against the windowpane.
“He’s mentioned it, Charlie,” Esme stated gently. “We’ll have him…call you.” She stumbled out that answer, but it was because a young female vampire stepped from the edge of the woods behind Charlie.
“Shit,” I breathed, throwing open the window. “Keep him distracted.” My voice was only loud enough for Carlisle and Esme, not my father. Leaping as far as I could, I caught the newborn off guard as I tackled her to the forest floor, pinning her there until Charlie could get back into his cruiser.
The girl in my grip growled and fought beneath me, but I squeezed her neck tighter until I heard Charlie’s car slowly make its way out of the Cullen driveway and down the street. Something hit me hard from the side, sending me skidding through the snow and colliding with a tall pine tree. Branches, pine cones, and globs of snow showered down around me and on top of me. Shaking it off, I stood up, facing what was now three newborns – two women and a young man.
Fighting had now broken out all around the house, and from what I could tell, it carried deep into the woods behind the Cullen home. I could hear Jasper, Rose, and Emmett all fighting, all taunting their opponents. I could also hear fighting coming from the house. And that was my mistake, turning to look toward the front door when I heard Carlisle and Esme defending the house. My first thought was about Edward. He was alone, asleep in a room that was essentially soundproof, and he was sick, which made him frailer than the normal human. I needed to get back to him. I needed to place myself between him and all that was aiming our way, but when my attention was distracted for just that split second, I was attacked by the three newborns in front of me.
The two girls went to tackle me to the ground, but I took to the trees, where the male followed. Up and up, I then leaped to the next tree and the next. I tried to keep close to the house, circle it, keep it in sight, but I could tell the three were pushing me and working their way farther and farther away from the one damn thing I needed to stay near.
“Motherfucker,” I hissed, shaking my head as I turned to leap to the ground, taking an offensive position rather than the defensive. “I’m not running!” I snarled, landing hard in the snow.
One of the females started for me, her hair now wet from the snow around us. I launched myself toward her, and something deep inside of me, something I’d merely felt the bare hint of, surfaced so quickly, I barely had time to control it. My arms wrapped around her midsection, dropping us both back to the snow. The force inside me pushed out hard, shoving the other two newborns several yards into the forest. Shrubs, drifts of snow, and a few small saplings uprooted in a perfect circle around me, blocking out even the falling snow over us. With a growl and a twist of my hands, I removed the newborn’s head, dropping it several feet away as I tried to pull in whatever it was I’d pushed out of me.
Alice rushed to the edge of it. Her eyes were wide as she looked it over. “Pull it back, Bella! We have to go! Now!”
Closing my eyes, I struggled to get myself under control. I’d heard Eleazar and Carlisle more than one time mention the word shield, but I hadn’t truly understood it until now. I swallowed thickly, letting out a long breath, and the shield slowly evaporated.
Once it was down, Alice moved instantly, grabbing me by the hand. “Now, Bella! She’s got Edward!”
The snarl that escaped me shook the ground, and I followed Alice back through the woods, across the backyard of the house, and my mouth fell open at the sight of the two newborns I had launched away with my shield. They were writhing and screaming in agony as they fought flames that were devouring their clothes, immortal skin, and hair. On the ground in front of Esme’s garden shed was a lighter and a can of bug spray, and Edward’s scent swirled in the air, but it was the footprints leading into the woods on the opposite side of the house that I followed. One set was human and the other feline. Steve and Edward had both aimed for the woods.
Alice and I followed their winding and slippery path into the trees. As we got closer, I caught the scents of Victoria, Jake, Leah, and Emmett. But the scent that was strongest was of my Edward. It was pounding heartbeats pushing loads of adrenaline. It was warmth and a slightly fevered state, and it was pure fear, but you’d never know it, because as Alice and I drew closer, his voice met our ears.
“I’m not the only one about to die. What do we do now?” he said bravely.
Alice and I pushed through shrubbery and snow drifts just as Victoria’s patience snapped and she did the one thing I’d tried to prevent since the beginning: she touched my husband, shoving him so hard, his feet actually lifted off the ground before he crashed to the cold, hard, snow-covered ground.
I exploded out of the trees, tackling Victoria at the same time Jake’s enormous wolf form joined me. It was chaos, fur, and screams, red hair and claws. We weren’t the only two in the mix either. A young boy with light-brown hair tackled Jake, and they rolled away, destroying the woods as they went. Victoria’s fight was frantic and strong, and more than one time she almost slipped out of my grasp, but Alice moved in and then Emmett’s strong arms finally locked around the woman who had been tormenting us for the last three months.
Everything came to a standstill when we heard a warning growl behind us.
“Let her go, or he dies!”
Emmett’s strength didn’t relent, but he did stop squeezing harder and harder on her neck. The blond boy had Edward in his grasp, and despite the push he’d taken, he was already starting to come around again.
“Edward, baby…stop fighting!” I warned him, but he was out of it, bleary-eyed and groggy.
His eyes squeezed closed, his hands clawed at the boy’s arm, and his feet kicked at the snow-covered ground. My eyes drifted just beyond the boy. Jake shifted silently through the trees, while Jasper was working his way from the other side. More and more movement started to draw closer – all of us, the Denalis, and the wolves.
And finally, Carlisle stepped into the middle of it all.
“Kill him, Riley!” Victoria rasped out.
Alice and I started forward, but Riley lifted Edward higher, rougher, and we came to a stop. Both of us looked to Carlisle for help.
“Riley, is it? Riley Biers. You’re a local boy. Went missing about three months ago. Not far from Forks, and not long after James got himself killed.”
Riley’s deep-red eyes widened just a bit, but he shrugged, his gaze locked on to Victoria, who had become really quiet as she stared at my husband in what seemed like pure hatred.
“You killed her mate,” Riley stated, though he started to sound unsure.
“You’re right. We did,” Carlisle agreed, smiling sadly. “He’d been warned, along with Victoria. All we’d asked was that they leave the area, leave the humans alone and move on, but he didn’t listen. Now, I’m going to give you the same warning, Riley. Let him go, or face the same fate.”
Very rarely did Carlisle drop the gentle, human doctor façade. It was just who he was, even though he was immortal like everyone around him. But right at that moment, he meant it. Riley wouldn’t leave the Cullen property. Not in one piece, and most likely he’d blow away as ash.
I turned to Victoria when Riley did. He was looking for guidance, but all he was met with was indifference. However, it was the human heartbeat that was starting to pound and then slow down that got my attention. Edward was freezing out there in the falling snow, and it didn’t help that he was sick, feverish, and had probably gotten hurt when he’d been pushed.
“Carlisle,” I whimpered, looking from my struggling husband to the man who had promised to help us, help me. “Please,” I barely breathed aloud.
I couldn’t lose Edward. Not again. And not to Victoria. She’d already taken too much. I’d lost my human life, my ability to give my sweet husband a family, and I’d lost almost three months with the one person who meant the most to me. No, she couldn’t have any more from Edward and me.
“Let him go,” I stated, stepping forward toward Riley. He shifted nervously on his feet, glancing around him. When he realized they were completely surrounded, he held Edward like a shield, which reminded me of what had happened during the fight just mere minutes ago.
Alice’s eyes snapped to mine, and she nodded. “Yes.” She turned to Carlisle. “Now.”
Carlisle nodded solemnly, calling Emmett’s name as a command. With barely any struggle, Victoria’s head was removed cleanly, her scream cutting off abruptly, and that sound was immediately replaced by the snarls of the wolves nearby, who jumped in to finish tearing her apart.
Riley’s shock gave me my opening. Pushing out from within, I stepped forward in order to catch Edward in my arms before Riley could grab him again, although the newborn was trapped beneath my shield too.
I settled Edward down against the tree trunk, brushing the damp hair from his beautiful face. “I’ve got you, baby,” I whispered, but his eyes slipped closed again. “Edward?” I cried, growling when there was no answer. Rounding on Riley, I shook my head as he backed away from me slowly. “There’s no escape.”
He continued backing up until he reached the edge of my shield. When he decided to attack, I ducked, lifted my shield, and he was in the jaws of Jake’s wolf form before he could touch back down to the ground.
Carlisle and I moved as one, dropping down on either side of Edward. Carlisle was assessing, listening, smelling; I was simply a mess. And suddenly my ginger cat was standing on my husband’s chest, ears back, growl rumbling, and teeth bared as he hissed at all of us.
“Steve,” I gasped, reaching for him, and he swatted claws my way, but I caught him up in my arms. “Steve, stop. We’re trying to help him,” I said but shot a panicked glance at Carlisle. “Right? You can help him?”
“We’ve got to get him warm, Bella,” he stated, slipping his hands gently beneath Edward and lifting him up into a cradled position. “I’ll do everything I can. I need to check him over.”
Steve growled low at all of us until I ran a hand over his head, and even then, he still glared.
Before Carlisle turned to head back to the house, he spoke to Jasper. “Burn them. You probably have just enough of this weather to cover it.”
Jasper nodded and began to give directions to everyone around us.
I followed Carlisle and a frighteningly quiet Edward back to the house, where Esme was holding the door for us. The fear that crossed her face at the sight of my husband came nowhere near what I was feeling inside.
Once Carlisle had Edward settled on my bed upstairs, he put the heat on in the house and told Esme to warm him up some clothes in the dryer. He moved methodically, almost too slow, removing Edward’s freezing, soaked jeans, sneakers, and hoodie. My patience was wearing thin as I set Steve down on the chair in the corner of the room, closing the door.
When my husband was stripped of the wet clothing, Carlisle checked him over. Every bump, bruise, and vital was checked. He ran his fingers gently through Edward’s hair to the back of his head, grimacing at what must have been a pretty big bump. He lifted Edward’s eyelids, using his phone’s flashlight to check his pupils. Lastly, he poked at the bottom of Edward’s feet, nodding solemnly, but said nothing.
Esme tapped on the door, holding out soft, warm, blue-plaid pajamas. I took them from her with a thank you and helped Carlisle re-dress my husband, adding warm socks to his feet.
By the time we’d settled him under the covers with an extra one on top for good measure, Edward started to stir. Bleary eyes fluttered open, and deep, tired green searched the room.
“B-Bella?”
“Baby, I’m right here.” I sat down on the edge of the bed, pushing his hair from his forehead. “I’m so sorry, Edward. They came at us from every angle, Charlie showed up, and…and…”
A shaky, cold hand reached up to cup my face as he shook his head. “As long as you’re okay, sweetheart.”
I snorted, shaking my head. I wanted to roll my eyes at that statement, considering he was the one who had taken the brunt of it all. Leaning down, I brushed my lips over his.
“Talk to me, Edward. Tell me what hurts.”
His brow furrowed, and his chest rattled terribly with congestion. He shivered a little, and a cough shook the whole bed.
“Everything.”
My eyes burned with the need to cry, because I couldn’t stand the thought of him in pain, suffering. I shot a panicked glance over my shoulder to Carlisle, who came to kneel beside the bed.
“Edward, you took quite the bump,” he started, picking up Edward’s wrist and feeling his pulse. “With your weakened state and the push that Victoria gave you, I think you’ve got a few broken ribs, a concussion, and if my sense of smell is correct, there may be some internal bleeding. I’d need to get you to the hospital to know for sure. X-rays, MRIs, some pain medication…” Carlisle trailed off, glancing to me and back to Edward. “The fact that you were already sick and then went out into the storm… Edward, I worry that moving you…the hour drive to HMC…”
Carlisle stopped talking when Edward coughed again, and it was deep, sounding painful and thick.
Carlisle stood up and walked to the end of the bed, pulling the covers away from Edward’s feet. “We have another issue.” He poked the bottom of Edward’s foot, and there was nothing. No movement, no reflex. “Did you feel that?”
Edward’s face scrunched up, and he shook his head, coughing again.
Suddenly, panic hit me full force, and I grabbed Carlisle by the front of his shirt. “You promised me!” I snarled, but really I wanted to cry. “You swore to me you’d protect him. You did this to me; you owe me!”
“Isabella,” I heard weakly behind me, and I spun to rush back to Edward. “Don’t, baby,” he pleaded, shaking his head a little. “I went outside. I…I…” He coughed again, and when he could speak, he reached for my face. “Victoria?” he asked, swallowing thickly.
“She’s dead. All of them are.” I spoke through gritted teeth and hate. “They’ll never touch us again.”
“Then it’s over, yeah?”
“Yeah.”
“Then I think we’ve already discussed this, sweetheart,” he whispered, glancing over my shoulder to Carlisle. “I can’t lose her again, Carlisle. And she…”
I leaned over him, placing my hands on either side of his feverish face. “You want this?” I asked, and he nodded, his eyes never leaving mine. I dropped my forehead to his. “Me, too.”
“Bella, we’d already made the choice,” Edward rasped, but his breathing was getting shorter, choppier. “I’m okay. I want this.”
“Me, too.”
“Carlisle swore to me he’d help.”
“Yes, me, too.”
“I love you, Mrs. Cullen.”
“Love you, Edward.” I glanced over my shoulder. “Please, Carlisle. Please… You can’t… You have to.”
Carlisle opened the door to the room, telling Esme to keep everyone downstairs and to prepare for what was about to come.
He closed the door again, looking to me. “How’s your thirst, Bella?”
“I’d never hurt him,” I vowed, gazing back at my husband, whose eyes had slipped closed again. “But I don’t know if I can…”
“I’ll help you,” he promised.
Nodding, I leaned over Edward, pressing a kiss to his hot forehead. “Baby, open your eyes. Look at me.” When sleepy, pain-filled green opened back to me, I smiled, though it felt more like a grimace. “This will be painful, Edward, but when it’s over, you’ll be healed. You’ll be like me.”
“Okay,” he breathed. “You’ll be here?”
“I won’t leave you. Ever again, baby. I swear it. I’ll be here through it all.”
Carlisle came closer as Edward nodded, seemingly placated with my answer.
“So…” my husband whispered, a small smile quirking up his lips. “I’ll see you ’round, Bella?”
A dry sob mixed with an incredulous laugh escaped me, and I leaned in, pressing my lips to his almost roughly. Carlisle picked up my husband’s hand, turned it over so that the wrist was exposed, and nodded my way.
“Yeah, Edward… I’ll see you ’round.”

1 comments:

trbuie said...

Well at least the evil witch and her minions are dead. Jake better not cop an attitude about Edward changing.
I hope Edward makes it through OK and our lovely couple takes off on their own.

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