|The Domino Effect
Author: Beautiful Bellies PM
Every action sets off a domino effect, some worse than others. Though every pregnancy is life altering, it's not always predictable just how your life can change.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama - Bella & Edward - Words: 5,876 - Reviews: 29 - Favs: 50 - Follows: 9 - Published: 04-15-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8028883
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Title: The Domino Effect
List of prompts used: episiotomy, Name That Tune, variegated, twitterpated, giraffe
Word Count: 5735
Summary: Every action sets off a domino effect, some worse than others. Though every pregnancy is life altering, it's not always predictable just how your life can change.
"Stop smiling," Bella demanded, which of course only made Edward smile wider. "I mean it!"
Edward made a concerted effort to taper his grin to a more acceptable line, pressing his lips together firmly.
Bella rolled her eyes. "You suck," she said petulantly, throwing herself backward on their bed with a huff. She stared at the ceiling pensively, biting her lip, with her hands folded over her flat stomach.
He laid beside her on his side, watching her face carefully. "I know the timing is off..." he began.
"The timing couldn't be worse," Bella said with a groan. "This wasn't supposed to happen right now. In a couple of years maybe, when I'd had a chance to settle somewhere, prove myself. Now I'm going to be the stupid intern who they have to work around."
"Bella," he murmured, running the tip of his nose slowly up and down her cheek. "Name this tune." He began to hum, the low croon of his voice vibrating against the shell of her ear. He rested his hand across her sternum, drumming his fingers lightly against the spot above her stomach and below her breasts.
Not to be easily distracted, Bella continued fretting, though she did squirm with his ministrations. It would not take much more effort for him to cloud her mind. "And what about you, Edward? You've hardly had time to kiss me between your residency and the three hours of sleep you get a night."
He snickered, brushing his hand lightly over her stomach. "Obviously, I had time to do a little more than kiss you."
At that, her lips quirked upward. She slapped his shoulder playfully, but her mouth returned to its worried set before another moment passed.
"Name this tune," he tried again, humming. He ran the pad of his thumb over her lips and stroked her cheek with the back of his knuckles.
Closing her eyes, Bella shivered under his touch. Her body relaxed just slightly and when her lips quirked, he knew he'd won. Because he knew she knew the song, it was their song, he let his humming become words and let his hand drift down, spreading his fingers over her belly, allowing himself to imagine the way it would swell with their child. "I believe you were right about this place. I can make a perfect likeness of your body, if I trace."
She sighed and shifted, giving in and turning toward him. He wrapped his arms around her, gathering her close, singing against the top of her hair as her nose tickled his neck. Her hands were warm against his chest, and he felt her back rise and fall under his palms as she breathed in his scent.
"Are you okay?" He asked quietly when his song was done. Tilting her head up, he began to press tiny kisses along her forehead, following her hairline to her jaw.
Her sigh was a wispy thing, and her hands cupped his neck. "Yeah," she said, her voice shaking so much that he didn't believe her for a minute.
"Bella," he warned, kissing the edge of get mouth.
"No, I am. I mean, I can't help being scared, right? I'm the one who has to carry this thing. I'm going to get huge."
"You'll be beautiful." When she snorted he chuckled. "This is so sexy, Bella. You have no idea." He pressed his lips to hers, not kissing but murmuring fervently against her sensitive skin, "I thought it was impossible to love you more then I did twenty minutes ago. How wrong I was."
She melted completely against him then, tangling their arms and legs until they could only be closer if they were nude and he was inside her.
Knowing a good idea when he heard one, Edward rolled onto his back, bringing Bella with him. She straightened up, grinding her ass against him, smiling down at him more genuinely.
Edward bit his lip, muffling a groan at the way she moved over him. His fingers found the button of her jeans but he quickly got distracted by the patch of skin that appeared below her shirt. Grinning, he pressed his hand over her belly. "A girl with your eyes? "
"No," she murmured, putting both her hands over his. "A girl with your eyes."
"We both want a girl," he noted.
His lip quirked up at one corner. "So he's gonna be a boy isn't he?"
"Yep! A pain in the ass, like you," Bella said, shaking her head. Leaning down, she kissed him adoringly.
His hands sliding up and down her back, Edward snickered. "God help us."
They were a bit too young, too busy. Life was a bit too complicated. But though he was scared too, Edward couldn't help but be excited about this new adventure.
That rumble of urgent voices had never been so surreal as it was to him right then.
People - Doctors - were shouting orders, and the supporting staff responded.
"His fever is spiking!" someone shouted urgently.
"O.R. room four is ready."
"Go. Go now."
Edward was having a hard time concentrating. His thoughts were thick, slow around the edges, as he tried to process the information flying at him. He wanted to be able to give his input. After all, it was him that stood to lose everything - not them.
"Edward?" someone was trying to get his attention.
"He's a Doctor! Like you," Bella's voice rang out, shaky but strong. Needing to see her, Edward opened his eyes.
"Doctor Cullen," the other doctor amended. "We're taking you up to the O.R. now, okay?"
Edward wasn't paying much attention to the surgeon. Bella's voice had drifted to him from the right side of the room, so that's where he turned his head, trying to focus. It took some effort, but the brown haired blur sharpened into his beautiful wife.
Her eyes were red rimmed with tears, her expression heartbroken and yet determined, her hands rested on either side of her hugely swollen belly.
Looking at her, Edward felt a brush of livid irritation. This isn't the deal we struck!he thought in the direction of the heavens.
Several weeks before, after a long and too short journey of anger and denial, he'd come to accept the likelihood of his death. His deal with God was simple: let him live long enough to hold his son in his arms just once, and he would only count himself lucky. When he thought of leaving Bella and his little boy alone, it seemed like being able to meet his child wasn't too much to ask.
Yet in the state he found himself in - with Bella still three weeks from full term, he knew how close he was to being denied his request.
"We need you, Edward," Bella cried, standing against the wall, out of the way of the flurry of doctors and nurses that crowded in the room. "We love you. Please, fight for us."
He held her gaze for as long as he was able, his muddled thoughts running through every memory he had from the time he'd first laid eyes on her - she had him twisted up and twitterpated in seconds - to earlier that day when they finally decided on a name for their boy. Of course he would fight - for her, for their family.
"We're going to take care of you, Dr. Cullen," the surgeon said as they wheeled him down the hallway - away from his wife and unborn son.
What could he do but put his trust in them as he'd asked his patients to put their trust in him so many times in the past?
His thoughts were wry as he stared up at the huge, blue tinted lights of the operating room, waiting for the drugs to drag him under.
It had been seven months since he and Bella had found themselves unexpectedly pregnant. He remembered, early on, how he'd thought his medical degree was a blessing and a curse. There were too many scenarios in his head, too many potential complications he knew could befall Bella or his baby at any stage of the pregnancy.
Despite his most fervent hopes and prayers, they'd experienced one life or death emergency for each trimester.
The one mercy of the whole situation was that each emergency, each complication, had befallen him and not her.
As the operating room faded away, visions of his recent past drifted up to him one by one - the nightmares and the bittersweet moments of how his life began to slip away even as his son's life was only beginning.
~The First Trimester~
The gas station attendant's name was Emmett McCarty. Edward might never have known that if circumstances hadn't lined up just so. Any other night, he might have been an intimidating looking stranger with broad shoulders, sleeve tattoos, and a wife he adored. He and Edward were kindred spirits - men who knew a secret language that only expectant fathers were privy to.
They shared smiles as they discussed the omniscience of pregnant women and commiserated over the quest that brought Edward to that gas station in the middle of the night. Bella had a craving for Orange Peach Sunny Delight. Neither man had known that flavor beverage existed, but Bella was pregnant and anything that left her mouth was to be taken as gospel truth. Emmett - a seasoned hand with three little ones of his own - understood the seriousness of Edward's ordeal. If he didn't come home with his prize, there would be hormonal hell to pay.
As they looked through the refrigerators, they swapped anecdotes. As Emmett recounted the tale of his last child's birth, Edward reflected that it was difficult to remain clinically detached at the thought of an episiotomy when it applied to his Bella - and the anatomy he was so intimately acquainted with.
Emmett retreated to the back room where he thought there might be a crate or two of new product. Edward waited patiently, his thoughts wandering again to the various complications that might befall Bella and their baby. His skin began to itch with the urge to be back at her side. It was easier to quiet his irrational fears when he could see her.
But the next minute, he had more immediate concerns. The door to the gas station opened, and he turned to find himself face to face with a gun and masked man with ice cold, malevolent blue eyes.
It happened too quickly then. The man in the ski mask demanded money from the till, mistaking Edward for the attendant. They yelled over each other as Edward tried to explain he had no money besides what was in the wallet he'd already surrendered. In the ensuing argument, Edward was tossed around the front of the store, thrown into the endcaps before the maniac pinned him face first against the counter, the gun digging into his back.
He remembered the shouting when Emmett reappeared from the back room, and the crack at the gun firing, and the explosion of unfathomable pain that exploded through the center of his being.
As his blood spilled out along the filthy floor, all he could think about was Bella and his baby. He knew he was dying - could feel his essence and energy draining out of him. The agony of the fire that burned through his gut was nothing to the anguish he felt when he knew he would never kiss Bella's lips, touch her soft skin, or hear her laughter again. He only screamed once - when he thought of the child, the baby that was part him and part her, that he would never get to see.
The attendant held his hand and tried to keep him calm, tried to keep him tethered to the world. Edward begged him to tell Bella and his baby how much he loved them. Emmett promised him that Bella could have both crates of Orange Peach Sunny D he'd found in the back if Edward would only hang on. When it was clear that Edward was losing the fight to keep his eyes open, Emmett promised he would deliver his last message.
It was the only measure of peace Edward found before the world slipped away.
Edward was more awake than he was pretending to be. His face was turned away from the door and the steady stream of people who came to his bedside. He kept his hooded eyes down, mostly studying the variegated hues of purple and red that colored his arm - bruising from where the gun-wielding maniac had thrown him into the endcap displays and scrapes from being tossed around.
That, and there were a lot of needles in him, feeding him things he needed, taking care of the bodily processes he couldn't for the moment.
Consciousness had waned and ebbed for days on end, but Edward understood exactly what was happening to him. He knew that the rundown feeling in his body was mostly due to an extreme loss of blood. That bone weary muscle weakness would likely last weeks. He took advantage of that when he didn't want to deal with certain things.
He had no patience left for the word 'sorry'.
The doctors and nurses were sorry for their cold hands and that they had to keep poking, prodding, and generally bothering him.
Emmett was sorry he'd startled the robber, making him jump and pull the trigger of the gun that was held against Edward's back.
His parents were sorry that they couldn't bear this burden for him. And they were sorry for the genetics that meant a world of trouble for first one and now the other of their children.
Alice - his twin sister - was sorry for being born, because if she hadn't been born then she wouldn't have needed a kidney when they were fourteen. He wouldn't have given up one of his, which meant he would have had two healthy kidneys when some assholes bullet went ping ponging off his innards. In all likelihood, he would have lost one kidney and not been too bad off.
They could all be as sorry as they wanted. Nothing could change what was happening.
He recognized when Alice moved away, and a warmth enveloped him. Bella had a scent he was intimately acquainted with, and it seemed not even the haze of drugs and weakness could temper the way his body reacted naturally when she was near.
Turning his head, he put on his widest smile for her. "Good morning, sunshine," he mumbled, his voice a sore rasp.
Bella's eyes were red-rimmed and teary. "Hey, you," she said, her voice cracking. "I'm sorry I wasn't here when you woke up." She cupped his cheek and he decided he could forgive the use of the word 'sorry' because her soft fingers felt so good.
"S'okay," he allowed. "Don't let it happen again." He grinned to let her know he was kidding. She didn't smile back.
"Edward, I'm-" she began.
A flash of clairvoyance made Edward interrupt her. She was about to apologize again, he just knew it. "Hey, Bella. Name that tune."
She sighed, narrowing her eyes as he began humming. "Aren't we going to talk about this?"
"No," he said flatly. "Name that tune," he repeated.
"This isn't a game!" she insisted. "You can't play this down. You're in a hospital bed for chrissakes. And it's my fault."
"It's not your fault," he said, raising his voice though his throat ached horribly. He was glad he'd been unconscious for the part where they shoved the tube down his throat.
"If I hadn't-"
"If you hadn't what?" he challenged gently. "Been pregnant? You know, back in the day, to provide for you and my young, I would have been out hunting saber tooth tigers," he said, nodding.
Bella smiled in spite of herself but quickly put her business face back on. "This is serious."
"What's so serious?" he sighed. "My kidney's shot. Literally. I need a new one. My spotless genetics dictate I need a perfect match. Until then, I'm going to have to come in for dialysis twice a week which will be so much fun. There's nothing to talk about." He took a deep breath, calming his irritation before he looked at Bella again. "Now will you please name that tune?"
She glared but gave in, laying her head on the pillow next to his and humming the rest of the song in his ear.
~The Second Trimester~
Even getting shot, rendering him in dire need of a kidney, Edward's story might have been relatively easy. He could conceivably live for years on dialysis.
As he recovered from his wounds, Edward did his best to stop thinking about his injuries and the unknown timer that was tick, tick, ticking away the life of his almost useless kidney. He had a loving family and a baby on the way. He did his best to keep himself - and everyone else - concentrated on the other ways their lives were changing.
Of course, Edward did take advantage of his condition where he could. He wasn't even out of the hospital yet before he asked Bella to marry him. Stressed about her job, his job, and the baby's poor timing, she had sighed at him in exasperation when he asked the first time. The second time she promptly burst into tears, apologizing for saying no the first time. He had bargained that they could swap the typical 'to honor and obey' line out for 'to never say sorry again as long as we both shall live'.
The day after he got out of the hospital, he was right back again, though this time for more cheerful reasons. For once everyone's concentration was exactly where it should have been all along. Edward hated that he'd taken most of the joy out of Bella's pregnancy.
That day, though, for once his family was nothing but smiles. They shared a toast - Bella and Edward both had cranberry juice - to the impending new arrival: a boy, as they'd found out that day.
Time moved forward.
Alice took Bella shopping for maternity clothes, including some lacy new underthings that Edward particularly appreciated. Emmett helped Edward assemble the crib - which really was more difficult than it looked. There was a flurry of planning and a tiny wedding in his parents' immaculate back yard.
The next day, in lieu of a honeymoon, the whole family, including Alice's boyfriend, Jasper, and Emmett's family went to the zoo.
Edward and Bella walked hand in hand, resting frequently. The baby was already making Bella a little breathless, and Edward was weaker than he wanted to admit. Still, they had a good time, out with the people who loved them most, watching the excitement of the little one as they raced from place to place. They smiled at each other, both thinking of when it would be their child darting around, asking questions that made them laugh.
When they stopped for lunch, Edward made Emmett and Rosalie's oldest daughter giggle by imitating the giraffes they were paused in front of. He craned his neck, darting his tongue out to catch strands of her hair while she was trying to get the appropriate amount of ketchup on her fries.
There was nothing quite like the sound of little kids giggling. They squealed and shouted, "ewwww!" when Bella turned her head and Edward captured her lips instead. Still kissing his beautiful wife, Edward had to smile.
For once, after all the drama, it felt like he would have everything the world could offer.
Which, of course, is when life decided to play one more hand.
It was almost time for them to go when Bella stumbled, tumbling down four short steps. Her family gathered around her, all concerned gasps, and Edward was on his knees at her side instantly, asking questions.
"I'm fine," she insisted, brushing everyone off and letting Emmett and Carlisle help her to her feet.
"I'm fine," she groaned grumpily when Edward continued to pester her later.
But in the time just after the dawn the next day, she shook him awake, her eyes wide and frightened.
There was a spot of blood on the sheets.
He knew it was probably nothing, but he also knew everything it could be. So he didn't remind Bella it was time for his dialysis appointment, instead choosing to be exactly where he should be - at her side through a series of tests.
After all, odds were that it wouldn't matter so terribly much if he put off his appointment by a day or so. That day, though, it did. Just as Bella's doctor announced there was nothing to worry about, Edward fainted dead away.
Edward became a doctor because he was fascinated by the human body and all the things it could do. Over these last months, Edward had marvelled with Bella at what she was doing - building a whole life inside of her. No matter what pregnancy symptom she had, he would explain what her body was doing - why she was nauseated, tired, even constipated. How all of it - the aches and pains - was readying her body for birth and sustaining her baby's life outside her womb.
When he was talking to her about her pregnancy, Edward never felt more alive. It was a miracle as old as time - life renewing itself through the ages.
But Edward was also desperately aware of how each function of his body was dependant on another. Everything was interconnected. The body was a well oiled machine, and when one cog went wonky, a chain reaction often followed. He could have been fine for months or even years even with a shot kidney, but, especially after a bullet went about nicking this and that organ, complications were... complicating.
He woke slowly, knowing he was in a hospital bed with tubes and needles everywhere. His body ached, and he felt drained - completely without energy.
Bella's breath in his ear, whispering his name, gave him a measure of happiness. He felt the pads of her fingers on his cheek and summoned the energy to roll his head.
She'd been crying - that much was obvious, but she smiled when he looked at her.
Leaning in close, she kissed his cracked lips. "Name this tune," she said gently and started to hum. But a second later, she seemed to forget the point of the game and put lyrics to the song. "I do believe it's true, there are roads left in both of our shoes..."
Her voice cracked and trailed off. He knew the next words of the song. If the silence takes you, then I hope it takes me too.
Shaking that thought away, he raised trembling fingers to her cheek, cupping her face, studying her intently. He skipped that line and crooned back at her, his voice only a breath. "Brown eyes I hold you near, 'cause you're the only song I want to hear. A melody softly soaring through my atmosphere."
Her smile crumpled and she sniffled, laying her head carefully on his chest.
"I wish we were a match - me or your father," his mother said tearfully when the rest of his family was allowed into his room.
Edward just shook his head. "If you were a match, you'd have given your kidney to Alice ages ago."
"And then things would have been different now!" Alice protested, frustrated at how little she could do for her twin.
"No. My center of balance would have been different with two kidneys. I would have stumbled another way and he might have shot something a little more dire," he tried to joke.
No one thought it was funny.
~The Third Trimester~
Edward's body was succumbing slowly to the domino effect that had been tipped off by his malfunctioning liver and the other wounds the maniac's bullet had left in its wake. He spent more time in the hospital than out of it.
He knew he needed a miracle. He also knew the odds were against him getting one.
For long weeks, Edward stewed.
It pissed him off that he was relegated to the couch as the rest of his family took over jobs that were supposed to be his. They put together baby furniture, painted the nursery, and attended to Bella a lot better than he could. They went out to eat one evening, and Edward quietly fumed as Alice helped Bella out of the car while he had to lean on Jasper.
One day, as he was going over the details of his will, he snapped. He was angry, so angry, that he was making arrangements for his death when his every spare moment should have been wrapped up in the new life he might not be around to see brought into the world.
It was lucky that only Emmett was around when it happened. The man who had become such a good friend helpfully brought him all the glasses in his house, letting him toss every single one, shattering them against an outcropping of rocks in his backyard.
And when his anger was spent and Edward was breathing raggedly, Emmett didn't say a word. He just put his arms around Edward and let him cry out his wordless anguish and fear.
"This sucks," Edward muttered petulantly when he couldn't cry or scream anymore.
"It does," Emmett agreed, serious for once. "Sometimes I look around and see how many deadbeat dads - and moms, for that matter - there are in the world. And I see you, and how much you want to be there for your wife and kid." He shook his head. "It isn't fair."
"It isn't." Edward was quiet for long minutes, staring out into the distance, seeing nothing. "You'll look out for them too, won't you?"
"You don't even need to ask."
Bella had to have been the most patient woman on the planet.
Whenever Edward beckoned to her, she came without complaint. She sat relatively still for hours on end when he laid his head on her swollen belly, talking or singing to their son through her skin.
Whenever and however they could, they spent time silently communicating the things they felt for each other. Neither of them had any words - words too often ended in tears. But though he was weakening and she increasingly ungainly, they did manage to find moments when it was just them and their love for each other.
It was one of those nights, when he held his sleeping wife in his arms, feeling their son move with her big belly pressed against him, when he made his plea with the powers that were.
What he wanted was what Emmett already had. He wanted to see his son smile, crawl, walk, and speak his first word. He wanted to see him grow and learn. He wanted to be the one to teach him, hold him, rock him. He wanted to see Bella be a mother - he thought she would be an amazing mother. What he wanted was what Carlisle had. He wanted to give his son a sibling or two and watch his brood grow up. He wanted to deal with the obnoxious teenagers and smile widely with pride when they graduated from high school, college. He wanted to be there with sage paternal wisdom through girlfriends, boyfriends, proposals, job woes.
He wanted his life.
But if he had to accept that he was going to die without all that, he wanted just one chance.
Just let me be there when he's born, he begged silently, hot tears falling down his cheeks as he tried to memorize Bella's face.
When he woke up one morning with blood in his urine and an intense pain in his gut, he knew he was going to fall just shy of his goal.
"Those chairs can't be comfortable enough for you to spend so much time in them," he grumbled, waking to find Bella at the side of his hospital bed as usual.
She narrowed her eyes at him. "I'm fine," she insisted.
He knew she would never say if she wasn't.
Rather than argue, he freed his hand from the confines of his blanket and rested it on the swell of her belly. She put her hand over his, cracking a smile when they felt their son move.
Family bonding moment, Edward thought.
And in that moment, he couldn't be anything but appreciative. His wife and baby were completely healthy - never better. He had a loving family who wouldn't let his son forget that he had a father who loved him. His son even had built in playmates in Emmett's kids.
It was more than a lot of people got, and he knew it.
His smile was genuine as he met Bella's eyes. "Devon Declan?" he asked.
She sucked in a shaky breath, her eyes shining with tears. He knew she found this difficult - trying to concentrate on the baby, make plans like that when the love of her life was slipping away. She nodded. "I like that," she whispered.
"Don't just agree with me because you think that's what I want to hear," he warned.
"No. I really like it," she assured, smiling slightly. "It's beautiful."
He beckoned her and she lowered her face to his, kissing him softly. He held her there for as long as he could. "I love you," he murmured, the words slurred because he suddenly felt so tired.
"I love you, too."
They were the last words he heard before he woke to a confused mind and urgent voices. Just before he went under, he understood that they'd found a perfect match just in time for him to die.
It was very bright when Edward became conscious again.
For long, terrifying seconds, he was certain he was dead and moving toward the light.
But then he became aware of the noises all around him. The steady beeping and the low snap hiss of machinery working was just about as far from choirs of angels as one could get.
He couldn't focus yet, but there were people standing over him.
"Just relax. Breathe deep," the voice instructed. There was an oxygen mask over his mouth, Edward realized. "The surgery went well. You're in recovery."
Good news for once, but Edward didn't have the energy to celebrate. He slipped back into the arms of sleep.
The next thing he heard was Bella's teary voice.
"I just want him to open his eyes. It feels like it's been too long."
"Sleep is the body's way of healing itself," his father's gentle voice assured. "He'll wake up." It sounded like Carlisle was trying to convince himself as well as her.
Edward put all his concentration into squeezing his fingers, guessing it was her hand that held his.
"Edward?" she gasped.
That was the push he needed. He opened his eyes in time to see a broad grin break out over Bella's face.
He swallowed hard though his mouth and throat felt dry as the desert. He asked with his eyes for her to bend closer. She followed his request as if he'd spoken it out loud.
"Bella," he rasped when her ear was near his mouth. "Name this tune."
She laughed, crying as she peppered his face with kisses.
In the end, he didn't get what he wanted. He wasn't there when his son was born. Under other circumstances, that fact would have pissed Edward off. As it was, he was frustrated but more thankful than he would ever had words to express.
No, he couldn't be there in the labor and delivery room, letting Bella squeeze the hell out of his hand and bringing her ice chips. He wouldn't be there when his son took his first breath. He wouldn't get to look Bella in the eye after forty weeks of pregnancy and however many hours of labor when the doctor put their son in her arms.
It was frustrating, but he knew how close he'd come to not being around at all, and so Edward didn't complain.
He did, however, frequently send Emmett scurrying back and forth between his hospital room and his wife's, even though he stayed on the phone with her through most of it.
Thank God for technology. Edward was able to encourage Bella - her mother holding the phone to her ear as she pushed - and so he heard her last wail of effort seconds before he heard one of the most beautiful sounds in the world: his son screaming bloody murder at being pushed out of his cramped little nook.
Bella was giggling and sniffling. "He's so beautiful, Edward," she murmured into the phone.
Edward's cheeks were wet with tears of joy, his heart full to bursting. "I love you both so much."
A little while later, Emmett wheeled Bella into his hospital room. Edward was grinning so hard his cheeks hurt. He sat up in bed, reaching out eagerly as Emmett carefully lifted the tiny bundle from Bella's arms, settling Devon into his father's arms for the very first time.
He was, as Bella said, more beautiful than he could have imagined. Even red as he was, his head slightly misshapen from birth, he was breathtaking.
Devon yawned, underwhelmed, and Edward laughed. He turned his head, kissing his wife soundly before he placed a light kiss to his son's wrinkled forehead.
"Hey, buddy," he murmured, rocking him gently, "name this tune."
As he hummed a lullaby, Bella settled with her head on his shoulder, her hand coming up to brush the side of the baby's cheek.
Their unexpected pregnancy had sparked a domino effect of complications in their life, but even though he still had a long recovery ahead of him - his son would be released from this hospital before he would - Edward couldn't be bitter. With Devon in the crook of one arm and Bella tucked under his other, he had the whole world in his hands.