SM owns Twilight.

(CozItRunsInMyBlood /Rose B. Mashal) owns the plot.

(BandMum) is the wonderful beta.

Chapter 16

When I really thought about it, dying didn't bother me all that much. It was just a reality that I would face sooner or later. My death would be from Maglos, from the experiment, or an accident. It could even happen in my sleep. There was no escape from death; it was a fact I was at peace with.

But, for a part of me to die before me? The thought saddened me to no end.

When Dr. Cullen told me that if I didn't respond to the antibiotics soon he would have to cut my arm off, I didn't say anything. I didn't react. Not because I didn't know how I felt about that or how to react. I was just not sure if I should show it.

I felt pain. Mental pain, which hurt more than physical pain. I felt it all over my chest, in my heart. I was always told to mask my pain, so that was what I did. I masked it all and nodded my understanding.

Apparently, my appetite had another say. I couldn't eat normally, and when I did, I ended up vomiting everything in the toilet, or a bucket when I couldn't hold it. It was embarrassing to know that Edward had to watch all that, and like always, I tried to ignore the fact that I was being watched twenty-four seven. Closely – as he admitted himself.

Ignoring that didn't work anymore. Since the phone call last night, I couldn't stop thinking about Edward. I couldn't stop staring at his roses, and I couldn't prevent his velvet voice from playing in my head. Over and over again.

It was difficult for me to understand why I felt so calm as I talked to him. I couldn't believe it was easy to smile and even laugh while he read to me. Something was different, and that scared me.

After giving up on trying to eat yet another meal that Dr. Cullen brought, I decided to leave the bed and visit Smokey. I had missed him. My steps were slow and it hurt to walk, but I was bored with staying in bed, and I wanted to waste time until my next dose of painkillers.

"Hey there, buddy!" I greeted Smokey once I got close to his glass cage.

The little monkey made noises that I assumed meant he was happy to see me and jumped up and down all over his cage. I chuckled. He was so adorable. I wished I could hold him, but from my understanding, that wasn't a possibility.

"I missed you, too," I giggled, then my smile dropped when he came to the glass wall that separated us and put up his hand for me to play. I knew that the movement – even with my good arm – would cause me pain. I hated to upset him, but I knew that he would understand if I explained why I couldn't play.

"I wish I could play, Smokey, but I'm hurt. See?" I pointed, and he stared unblinking at my bandaged arm in the sling. "I'm sorry I can't play today, but I promise I'll come back when I feel better and I will play with you." I smiled, hoping that I would come back to play with two arms, and not just one.

Smokey made more noises that sounded like whimpers. At first, I thought he was disappointed, but the way he looked at my arm, and the looks he gave me, told me it was something else. It looked as if Smokey was freaked out.

I watched his expression with a confused frown. I had never seen him act that way before. My eyes darted to his hand on the glass, and then down to his arm.

When I saw the long, uneven scar on his arm that was almost identical to my cut, I gasped. I had never noticed it before because of how hairy Smokey was, but now I couldn't take my eyes from it.

"Poor thing, you had the same experiment, too," I stated, the frown lingering on my forehead. I knew that Smokey had the same treatment I was going through, but from what Dr. Cullen said, it had worked. So, I couldn't figure out why he had such a scar, since my wound was because my body rejected the formula. I had so many questions.

~WtSGD~

When Dr. Cullen brought me something to eat at the end of the day, he took my temperature and my pulse. Somehow, he noticed I wanted to talk to him about something but couldn't find the courage.

"Is there something you want to say to me, Bella?"

"Yes, sir."

"Go ahead."

"Uh, I have a question," I said, and Dr. Cullen nodded for me to continue. "Did Smokey get the same treatment I have? I saw a similar scar on his arm."

"Yes." That was all he said in response.

"But I got that wound because the experiment didn't work. How come you said Smokey is healed?"

"The experiment worked on the second try, Bella." He smiled and comprehension dawned on me. Also, hope.

"That's great," I said with a big smile. I wondered if I should ask if Smokey had an 'allergic reaction' to the first formula, too. But I figured there was no need to press him for answers I knew wouldn't be the truth. An allergy wasn't behind the ugly wound I had, or the failure of the experiment. "How long did it take for his arm to heal?"

"Not long. His wound closed up about five days later."

"But it's been almost three days for me and mine doesn't look anywhere near healed," I mused.

"Smokey didn't have Maglos, dear," Dr. Cullen said quietly.

After a moment, I nodded. It wasn't the experiment; it was my untreated illness preventing my arm from healing. Disappointment filled me. My battle appeared to be much harder than I thought, and I had no idea how long I could stand.

~WtSGD~

Later that night, I was having trouble sleeping because I had slept for most of the day. I turned on the T.V. for some background noise, but I wasn't following what was on.

My phone rang, and without looking, I knew who it was. The smile that crossed my face was large and uncontrollable.

"Hello!"

"Can't fall asleep again?" Edward asked with that velvet voice of his.

"I slept a lot today," I told him.

"You also didn't eat or drink enough water," he stated.

I frowned. "You noticed that?" The second I asked the question, I regretted it. Of course he noticed; it was his job.

"I did. You better not keep it up. You need to eat well if you want that wound to heal, Bella."

"I know… do you think it will heal?" I asked, thinking maybe he'd tell me if Dr. Cullen knew it wouldn't.

"I know it will," Edward replied instantly, and I had to smile at that. It was reassuring.

"Dr. Cullen said he may have to cut…"

"I know what he said," Edward interrupted. "I also know that your wound will close, no matter what it takes."

I paused for a moment before I looked up at the camera. "Thank you, Edward." My smile was small but showed my gratitude for his support.

"I didn't do anything," he said. I wanted to tell him that his words, his promise of healing, meant so much to me, but I didn't. Instead, I asked him another question.

"Do you still have that horror book you were reading to me last night?"

"I do." I could hear the smile in his voice, and I adjusted my body on the bed, ready to have yet another peaceful night of sleep.

~WtSGD~

The next morning found me on my bed, with my arm in Dr. Cullen's hands as he tried again to clean my wound. The odor was so strong, I had to cover my nose. I had no idea how Dr. Cullen could stand it. It almost smelled like something died in there. I couldn't wait for him to cover it up.

"God! That looks awful." I fought the urge to vomit when the smell made me gag.

"We'll give it two more days," Dr. Cullen said as he started putting a new bandage on my arm.

"Two days, then what?" I asked anxiously.

"We talked about it before, Bella. I'm sorry. I can't risk the damage that leaving the wound open could cause."

My throat tightened and I struggled to control my panicked breathing. The thought of losing my arm was distressing, and the fact that I couldn't do anything about it frightened me.

I waited until Dr. Cullen left, then went to the bathroom and let my tears fall. I didn't want him or Edward to see me cry. They didn't need any more reasons to know how pathetic I was.

Sorrow consumed me over what I knew was coming my way. Dr. Cullen wasn't the kind to sugar coat things, but I was sure that if he had the slightest hope that my wound would heal, he would have told me. But he was being honest with me, and I was no longer sure if I appreciated his honesty.

Despite the heartache I felt, I forced myself to eat all three meals and took my medications right on time as Dr. Cullen advised. It was all in hope that my arm would magically start healing, although I knew deep down that was wishful thinking.

Still, I fought the negative thinking and hoped for the best.

Later that day, I received my nightly phone call much earlier than expected. "It's not bedtime yet," I answered.

Edward's soft chuckle was the first thing I heard before he replied, "I'm not calling for the bedtime horror story, Bella."

"Oh."

"I'm wondering, may I… come down?"

I wasn't sure why something gripped my heart when I heard him say that. Clearly, he had been here many times before. He brought me food often, but I was always asleep. He was here when I woke up after the experiment, but he was sitting in the dark; I couldn't see him. I didn't know what he looked like. I had only seen his eyes – and they were unforgettable.

"Um, like – here?"

"Yes. Would that be okay?" he asked, and I didn't know what to say. "I won't take long, I promise."

"Is Dr. Cullen there?"

"No, he just left," Edward said.

My mouth went dry, and my mind churned through a hundred different thoughts. I was scared; I didn't like the idea of being alone with him in my room. But when I thought about it, I figured that Edward had always been there. If he wanted to come down, he could. He didn't need my permission for it. And if he wanted to hurt me, he already had many chances to do so.

I shouldn't overthink his request to 'visit,' but I couldn't help it.

"Bella, you can trust me," Edward said when I didn't reply right away.

Finally, I said, "Please, come down."

My heart hammered in my chest, and anxious thoughts made my blood run cold. I played different scenarios in my head, none of which ended well. I wished my mind would relax, if only for a bit.

Suddenly all the lights went off and I gasped. Smokey's cage was the only area that still had lights on, and the rest was dimly lit. I gulped when I saw a dark figure coming from the inner basement door, and I immediately knew it was Edward.

He was wearing a hoodie again and carried a small briefcase. When he reached the door of my room, he knocked on the glass.

"Come in," I said. I wanted to get up and greet him. I also thought I would be safer standing than I was on the bed, in case something bad happened – I could run.

"Hey, Bella!" he said once he stepped inside the room. The top of his face was completely covered by his hoodie, and there wasn't enough light for me to even get a glimpse of the rest of it.

"Hey!" I returned. "What happened to the lights?"

"They'll be back on soon," he said, and I realized he had turned them off. He didn't want me to see his face. "Now, let's get that arm fixed."

~WtSGD~

AN: If anyone can guess what Edward will do to try and fix Bella's arm, they'll win an ebook from me. :)

Until we meet again …