"Are you absolutely positive that you need to leave so soon?" Edward asks, cupping Kate's cheeks in hands as she smiles sadly.
"I'm sorry, love. Duty calls and whatnot, and speaking of which . . ." Lifting his wrist up, she checks the time. "You're going to be late if you don't shower soon."
He leans down, pressing his lips to her neck. He can be a little late, considering the circumstances. "I don't care. How long will you be gone for this time, anyway?"
"At least a few weeks. Seriously, Cullen. You are going to be late. You have lives to save, remember?" She grins, tilting his chin to press her lips to his. "Get a shower. Now."
"You're no fun," he sighs, sitting up on his knees. "Fine, I'll shower, but you have to join me."
She smirks, rolling her eyes as she follows him off the bed and pulls one of his old Navy shirts over her head. "You are most certainly going to be late, but it's your own damn fault."
"I accept the responsibility." He grins, watching she flings off her panties and heads into the bathroom.
He probably won't be late, but even if he is, it's worth it. She's leaving for god know's where this afternoon, heading for certain danger because it's her job as special ops. He used to know where she was before he left the Navy, used to have the same security clearance, and knew if something happened. Now she can't tell him much about her missions, not even their location or how long they might actually last. She's been back in his bed for a week after three months away—which was, 'at least a few weeks," long too.
Eight years ago they met in his small aid station outside of Fallujah. She was brought in with shrapnel injuries which required surgery. After Edward saved her life, she stuck around for a few days to recover and they found they shared a lot in common. It was just her first tour, compared to his third, but during the fighting and horror surrounding them, the two found peace with each other. Of course it wasn't until after she healed and returned some months later that their relationship escalated, but it's always remained the same.
While everything else around them is chaotic and often unknown, they've always been each other's constant. Now that Edward's left the Navy, though, it's been different. The distance isn't any longer than before, but it's harder now. She comes in and out of his life like a hurricane. He's settled in Seattle now and bought an apartment near the water, just blocks from his new job as an attending trauma surgeon at Harborview. He loves it; oddly enough. He worried he'd be bored after spending the last fourteen years in the Navy, but the city keeps him busy.
With his family just a few hours away in Port Angeles, it's exactly what he wants . . . except that Kate never stays. He loves her; he knows that, but he also knows her. While she thrives in the battlefield, he's found a place to do what he loves without bombs being dropped over his head.
"Call as often as you can," he tells her, kissing her gently as they stand under the showerhead. "And don't die."
"Jeez, thanks. I'll try not to," she laughs. "I'll be back before you know it."
"A few weeks is a little bit more than a blink of an eye, sweetcheeks. Have you, uh, thought about something stateside? FBI, CIA?"
She cocks her head, running her hands through her wet hair. "No, why? Have you heard something?"
Grabbing her soap off the shelf, he pours some in his hands before rubbing them together. "No, I just thought . . . I live in a major city, which has plenty of job opportunities for you—"
"I love my job, Edward. There's nothing wrong with it."
"I know, but I didn't know if you'd consider something else. Local."
Stepping back and out of his hands, she narrows her eyes and he knows he's made a serious mistake. "I'm not ready to leave the military. You were."
"All right, I wasn't sure. I was just curious." He puts his hands out, covered in her soap. "I'm sorry, Kate. Forget about it, please?"
Sighing and turning around, stepping back toward him, she nods. "I love you, Edward. You know that, right?"
"Of course," he says, kneading his hands into her shoulders. She loves him. If that's all he can get, he'll take it. She's still young compared to his thirty-four years. At twenty-seven he understands she's not ready for more yet, but someday she might be. And he loves her enough to wait.
"Be safe, please," he murmurs in her ear.
"Always am," she promises. "Keep the comfy bed warm for me."
Cutting it slightly close to being late, Edward pretends as if he's not in a hurry as he rushes into the hospital just in the nick of time. He has a morning full of scheduled procedures—two take-backs for trauma and three scheduled general surgeries, all before one in the afternoon. Knowing his first surgery isn't for another thirty minutes once he finishes rounds, he decides to backtrack and head for coffee.
He walks up a block to his favorite small shop, ordering a large black coffee and a pumpkin muffin when he notices it in the glass. September eighth seems a little early for the pumpkin-everything-season, but he's not complaining considering it's his favorite. Handing over a ten to Ms. Ellen, the elderly woman who owns the shop, he smiles and tells her to keep the change before heading back to the hospital.
Biting into the muffin as he stops at the intersection and waits for his light to change, he looks up to see a young girl in the crosswalk to his left. With the hoodie on her jacket up and white earbuds hanging from her neck, she smiles at him as their eyes meet for a brief moment before hears the screech of tires. Glancing back, a black car barrels toward the girl and Edward yells, but there's no time for her to move. As she slams into the windshield and topples over the roof, he's running and watches her land in a crumpled heap on the pavement.
He gets to her in seconds, falling to his knees at her side and checking for a pulse. The thump against his fingertips give him some hope as he yells for yelp. "Don't move, sweetheart." She doesn't, just lets out a groan with closed eyes. There's blood gushing from her head and he pulls his jacket off as people rush forward. "Hold her still for me," he tells a nurse as she drops down beside him. "Edward Cullen."
"Leah," the brunette says, doing as he asks while he tries to listen to the girl's chest by placing his ear to it.
He curses as the wail of sirens starts just down the road. Thank Christ we're so close. They're a block and a half from the hospital, so the girl's lucky in one aspect. "Her left lung is collapsed," he says, eyeing the rest of her mangled body. Open compound tibular fibular fracture, blunt head, chest, and abdominal injuries, probable major internal bleeding . . . Fuck. "Hang in there for me, kiddo," he whispers near the girl's ear. "I'll take care of you; I promise."
He can't promise shit and he knows he's probably lying, but they need to keep her calm. He realizes she's younger than he thought, definitely under fifteen from her facial features and size. A little too small. She's thin and pale as a ghost under the blood on her skin. This child is quite literally dying in front of him and the two minutes it takes for them to get her into the ambulance seems like an eternity. He and Leah work seamlessly with the paramedics, loading her up and taking her right away. She gets intravenous access as he performs a needle decompression and they're at the hospital before they can do anything else.
The girl's vitals are weak—her blood pressure dropping by the second it seems. Moving her over to the trauma room gurney, Edward gives orders and pulls on a gown and gloves before stepping up to the girl's side. She's on their monitors, the anesthesiologist is putting an endotracheal tube, and a resident is getting better access with a central line. The nurses and techs swarm around the room in organized chaos as Edward pours betadine over the girl's chest and grabs the scalpel from the chest tube tray. It's a violent procedure and he has to keep himself from thinking about her age as he cuts into her chest to insert a large tube.
Blood pours from her and the x-rays soon show why. She's bleeding out into her chest and abdomen, the images covered in the dark areas of blood. They run fluids and blood into her, trying to keep her alive until they can get her into surgery.
"Let's get her to CT!" he says over the voices of his team. "Where's neuro?"
"Dr. Bradley's here—he'll meet you in CT," Sue, one of the nurses says as they prep the girl for transport.
"Did we find ID?"
"No, just an old polaroid and busted iPod," Jack, another nurse says. "Bagged 'em for the cops. Jane Doe?"
"Janie," Leah says, piping up from the corner of the room, meeting his green eyes with hers. "It's the child version. S-sorry, I didn't want to leave yet."
"What department are you in?"
"PICU," she sighs. "I'll see her later . . . right?" Her hands shake as she holds them together. She's never witnessed a trauma case, having spent her short career in peds. She literally just transferred to the pediatric intensive care unit, which is her dream job, so all of this is . . . holy friggin' shit.
Edward smiles for her, a little worried about how pale she is. "I'll do everything I can. Take a seat, get something to drink, and hopefully in a few hours you'll have a new patient."
She nods, biting her lip. "Uh-huh. She doesn't look like a Jane or Janie, you know? The red hair and freckles . . . She's a Lucy."
He gently tilts his head for Jack to watch out for her. "Lucy Doe, it is. Jack's going to help you to a chair. I'll let you know how she does. Thanks for jumping in with me."
She nods again, this time remaining silent as her eyes flicker between the tall surgeon and little girl. She heads out of the door and finds a desk chair for a quick breather as she watches them rush their Lucy out of the room. Glancing at her watch, she realizes she's incredibly late and hopes this excuse flies on her first day on the floor . . . which is literally across the massive hospital from here.
The CT quickly shows a subdural hematoma on Lucy Doe's brain, which could very likely kill her. Dr. Peter Bradley is a great neurosurgeon, which gives Edward some hope but he knows her belly and chest are going to be a battle. She's losing blood faster than they can replace it and he's honestly worried. The image of the car hitting her is still fresh in his mind and though he can't be sure, he imagines it was going upwards of forty miles an hour. It barely braked and didn't stop, which infuriates him. He has no doubt the police will catch the driver, but he wishes the piece of shit could feel the amount of pain this child has felt.
Talking over the two major operations and their plans, they scrub together and watch as Lucy is prepped. Her vitals are even worse and they need to hurry to have any chance of saving her life. "We got her quick, man," Peter says, following him into the OR with his arms raised out in front of him.
They quickly gown and gloves as Edward nods. "Thank god." Stepping up to the table and asking for a scalpel, he makes a long incision from just below to sternum to below her navel. His first task is to pack her full of lap pads to pray that slows the bleeding enough for him to work on her injured lung. "She smiled before I saw her get hit," he says. "Make sure she can do it again because it was the brightest smile I've ever seen."
"I'll try to leave facial nerves intact," he says, making his incision along the side of her head. He keeps it as small as possible and in her hairline, so she'll most likely barely notice it. "How old do you think she is?"
"Thirteen, maybe," he sighs, finding her belly full of blood. "Goddamn it."
A monitor goes off and he knows it's her fucking blood pressure tanking. He made a promise to this kid, whether she knows it or not, and he doesn't plan on failing. He's handled worse throughout his tours with the Navy—Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria, he's been through the middle east and witnessed absolutely horrific things. Why she's a mission to him now he's not sure, but he's damn sure going to do everything in his power to save her.
"She's in V-Fib," the anesthesiologist calls out as every alarm seems to sound at once.
They spend hours working on the poor girl. Though Peter removes the clot and repairs her blood vessels, Edward's worried she was down too long. It took cracking her chest to get her heart rhythm stabilized, which was where he found an injury to her aorta that caused the bleeding her chest. He managed to repair it and then focused on her abdomen, finding her spleen a ruptured mess and her liver torn nearly in half.
He's honestly not sure how she's still alive after the brain, chest, and abdominal trauma—and she's not out of the woods yet. She also has multiple fractures throughout her small body, from her skull, ribs, pelvis, leg, and wrist. She's like a shattered doll they're still putting back together. The orthopedic surgeons stabilized her fractures for now, but they'll need to go back in within twenty-four to forty-eight hours to insert rods, plates, screws, and pins. First, though, her body needs a chance to rest after the massive trauma she's suffered.
Writing up his list of post-op orders for the nurses, he stands at the foot of the bed and glances up at her monitors every so often. She's the most stable she's been in their care, but he's still worried about her. He knows he could task a resident to sit with her, but leaving right now doesn't sit well with him.
"I think I'm going to hang around with her for a little while," he says, looking up at the last nurse who remains.
She smiles, nodding as she pulls the recliner closer to the bed. "She needs a little extra attention, if you ask me."
He can't help but agree, remembering the old fractures throughout the child's body. The x-rays paint a scene of abuse, which has probably lasted years. She's thin because she's dangerously malnourished and has obviously been neglected. He feels rage at the person responsible for this little girl. She's just a child and has faced more than he can imagine.
"I'll let you know if anything changes," he says, offering a smile before she heads for the door, stopping short.
"Oh, the police are here," she says, looking back at him. "Probably for her, right?"
Following her out of the room, he finds two officers waiting at the desk. Of course they are here for Lucy Doe, but still don't know who she is. He takes them to an empty room to give his statement of the hit-and-run, finding out the man was stopped a few blocks away and arrested for numerous hefty crimes—attempted murder at the top of the list.
"We've got a sketch of her in the news and with locals school, but so far nothing's come up," Newton, the shorter of the two officers says as he eyes Edward oddly. "You've never met her, right?"
His brow creases as he cocks his head. "Excuse me?"
Pulling a bag from his pocket, he holds the polaroid photo out to him. "She had this on her. I could be wrong, but I can't help but see the uncanny resemblance between this younger man and you."
As hiss eyes fall on the old picture, he's shocked to see his teenage-self next to . . . "Holy shit," he mumbles. "This . . . this picture was Bella's." His nightmare comes back to life as he takes in the picture of them fifteen years ago.
"I'm drawing a lot of conclusions here, Doc, but this kid looks awfully similar to that woman next to you in the picture. It that Bella?"
"She was seventeen weeks pregnant when she went missing," he says solemnly, keeping his eyes on her in the picture. "They found her car and blood, but never found a body. She crashed in the woods and must have . . . She's dead, according to the police."
"And the baby was presumed the same."
Edward swallows back the tears that threaten as he remembers that night. The worst fucking moment of his life. "My daughter . . . sh-she was due January eighteenth, two-thousand-three. She'd be fourteen and th-this . . ."
"This kid's about fourteen, probably, right?"
He nods silently. It's not possible. He gave up hope years ago, knowing the likelihood of Bella being alive, let alone their child, is slim to none. It's been fifteen years and twenty six days since she went missing. Could she really have given birth?
"We need to do a DNA test," he says, snapping his eyes to the officer. "And Bella's case . . ."
He nods. "Is her family still around?"
"Her dad passed a few years after she disappeared and her mom's in a memory care unit in Florida—dementia. No siblings."
"Damn. Full name?"
"Isabella Marie Swan Cullen—we-we'd just gotten married."
Writing it down quickly, the officer tucks the notepad back into his pocket and clasps his hand over Edward's shoulder as he stands in utter shock. "The picture is hers," he says. "We have copies, and I'll let you know if I get the DNA order."
"Thanks," he says, feeling as if a tornado just blew through his life. The officers leave the room as he sits silently on the bed. This can't be possible. My daughter . . . Looking up at the door, he quickly stands up and leaves the empty room for Lucy Doe's.
His eyes fall on the red hair under the bandage around her head, the light freckles dotting her cheeks, and he remembers her green eyes—just like his. He's spent the last fifteen years of his life grieving for the love of his life and their daughter and . . . she could have been right here all along.
"Are you mine?" he whispers, sitting down and taking her small hand. And if you are, where's your mom?
Apparently I write mystery now. I think. I've had this idea in my head for years now, so I figured I'd finally write it and see where it takes me. I do promise it'll have a not tragic ending. I mean, it might hurt, but you know me. I comfort my hurt pretty dang good. Like, way too much comfort. And I also promise to finish this, like all of my others. But I am slow and my wedding is in December, so if speed is your thang, maybe put it on your TBR.
Also, please reserve throwing tomatoes at me and Kate. We're not here to hurt you. But 15 years is a long time, so . . . fella's gotta get some.
Oh, and I still don't own Twilight.