A/N: Hey! This is the last chapter of Breaking, and it's about twice as long, almost 8 pages on Word. I appreciate everyone who reviewed throughout the story, so enjoy!
Click. The door shut softly, and I raced to Bella's side. "You stole a car?" she asked with a wry smile.
I returned a grin, remembering how much Alice loved that car. "It was a good car, very fast."
"How was your nap?"
I remembered. Or rather, Bella reminded me. Florida. "Interesting." That summed it up, I thought.
"What?" Bella asked, confused.
I sighed, and looked away as I answered. "I'm surprised. I thought Florida… and your mother… well, I thought that's what you would want." That's what would be best for you.
Bella's eyebrows drew together as she looked at me, bewildered, as if the words were foreign to her. "But you'd be stuck inside all day in Florida. You'd only be able to come out at night, like a real vampire."
"I would stay in Forks, Bella. Or somewhere like it… someplace where I couldn't hurt you anymore."
I looked away for a moment, comprehending my own words. It would be as if… she'd never moved to Forks, or as if there had been another empty seat in Mr. Banner's sixth period Biology class. I turned my head to look at Bella again. Her beautiful, pure body, now covered in all sorts of gauze, only heightened the difference between us. The Fragile and the Indestructible. The Angel and the Demon. The Pure and the Immoral.
"Time for more pain meds, sweetheart?" I looked behind me to see a nurse approach Bella's IV, and I backed away. Poor dear. I heard she fell 10 stories out of a hotel! I hope she'll be all right.
"No, no," Bella murmured. "I don't need anything." The nurse clearly saw through Bella's lie, and started taking something out.
"No need to be brave, honey. It's better if you don't get too stressed out; you need to rest." The nurse paused, waiting for Bella's consent, but Bella refused. Stubborn as well.
She sighed, then gave in. "Okay. Hit the call button when you're ready." And hopefully the rest will ease your mind off other issues. She glared at me. I hope she gets better… The nurse walked out of the room, closing the door.
I frowned. I didn't have to listen intently to tell that her heart was beating too fast for a normal human. Not that Bella was a normal human, but her heart was still beating at a dangerous rate.
I laid my hands on her face, enjoying the warmth. Enjoying the bouquet, but resisting the wine. Bella stared back at me anxiously. "Shhh, Bella, calm down," I begged.
"Don't leave me," Bella pleaded.
"I won't. Now relax before I call the nurse back to sedate you." I watched the EKG machine spike up and down frantically, and I looked back at Bella, worried. "Bella, I'm not going anywhere. I'll be right here as long as you need me."
"Do you swear you won't leave me?" she asked, a tremor running through her voice.
I leaned down, reigning in the monster inside of me. Mind over matter. "I swear," I promised.
Breathe, I told myself. I didn't have to, but it helped, in some ironic way. The more I spent in her presence, the easier it was to be with her. In. Out. In. Out. Bella's wide, brown eyes followed my every movement, and she slowly calmed down, her heart rate more even and relaxed. "Better?"
"Yes," she answered.
"I'm going to have to careful around you, if you're going to overreact all the time and scare me like that," I mumbled under my breath, just soft enough to where her human eardrums couldn't pick it up.
"Why did you say that?" Bella asked anxiously. "Are you tired of having to save me all the time? Do you want me to go away?"
"No, I don't want to be without you, Bella, or course not. Be rational," I soothed her. "And I have no problem with saving you, either – if it weren't for the fact that I was the one putting you in danger… that I'm the reason that you're here."
It all kept tracing back to the time I met her. If only I'd followed my instincts… no. Carlisle and Esme would've been disappointed. Was this really as bad as the alternative?
"Yes, you are the reason… the reason I'm here – alive." A bystander glancing at her might've thought otherwise.
"Barely. Covered in gauze and plaster and hardly able to move." Again, I was responsible for that.
"I wasn't referring to my most recent near-death experience," Bella said, raising her voice slightly. "I was thinking of the others – you can take your pick. If it weren't for you, I would be rotting away in the Forks cemetery."
All my fault, all my fault. I winced. "That's not the worst part, though. Not seeing you there on the floor… crumpled and broken. Not thinking I was too late. Not even hearing you scream in pain – all those unbearable memories that I'll carry with me for the rest of eternity. No, the very worst was feeling… knowing that I couldn't stop. Believing that I was going to kill you myself." All my fault, all my fault. The thought wouldn't stop running through my head, wouldn't stop driving me insane.
"But you didn't."
Finally, the chanting stopped, but it was replaced with something worse. The memory of her blood. She had no idea how much effort it had taken me to wrench myself away from something I'd been longing to have since the day she stepped foot into Forks High. I had no idea how I had. "I could have. So easily."
I never would've forgiven myself if I'd taken her life. What haunted me, though, wasn't the past. It was the future. In this one short year, Bella had had four near-death experiences. It couldn't go on. I'd continually put her in danger, and I had no right to.
"Promise me," Bella whispered, breaking me out of my muddle of thoughts.
"What?" I asked, feigning ignorance.
"You know what," she said, glaring at me.
"I don't seem to be strong enough to stay away from you, so I suppose that you'll get your way… whether it kills you or not."
"Good," Bella said, content for now. She talked casually, but I could hear the panic belied by the light word.
She paused, then added, "You told me how you stopped… now I want to know why."
"Why?" I asked, somewhat bewildered. Did she want me to kill her?
"Why you did it. Why didn't you just let the venom spread? By now I would be just like you."
How had she found out? I had clearly made it a point that Bella was not to find out the mechanics of turning into a vampire. My eyes narrowed… Alice. I knew there had to be an underlying reason to her sudden obsession with the song "Twinkle Twinkle".
"I'll be the first to admit that I have no experience with relationships," Bella said hesitantly. "But it just seems logical… a man and woman have to be somewhat equal… as in, one of them can't always be swooping in and saving the other one. They have to save each other equally."
I lay my head down on my arms, and tried to hold the anger back. I would have a chance to talk with Alice later. "You have saved me," I contradicted, remembering Esme's conversation with me. She'd told me that Bella saved me from myself.
"I can't always be Lois Lane," she continued, as if she hadn't heard me. "I want to be Superman, too."
She wanted this. Bella wanted to be a vampire. I mentally groaned… she had no idea what she was saying. Everything in her that was good and pure would be taken away if she became a vampire. I couldn't let that happen. "You don't know what you're asking."
"I think I do." My anger towards Alice increased. Exactly how much had Alice told her?
"Bella, you don't know. I've had almost ninety years to think about this, and I'm still not sure."
"Do you wish that Carlisle hadn't saved you?"
"No, I don't wish that." I valued the last ninety years… everything Carlisle had taught me. "But my life was over. I wasn't giving anything up."
"You are my life. You're the only thing it would hurt me to lose." This was going to be harder than I thought.
"I can't do it, Bella," I said firmly, trying to change her mind. "I won't do that to you."
"Why not? Don't tell me it's too hard! After today, or I guess it was a few days ago… anyway, after that, it should be nothing."
I frowned at her. Even if I had the necessary control, I wouldn't trust myself. Back in the ballet studio, I lied to myself. I told myself I was stronger than that, strong enough to pull away when need be. It was almost laughable, how mistaken I was. Ignorance was gone – I knew I couldn't trust myself again.
It wasn't just that, though. Watching her writhe on the floor, just for five minutes, was pure agony for me. It must've been a thousand times worse for her. She couldn't possible stand that sort of pain for three days. "And the pain?"
"That's my problem," Bella said, even though her face said otherwise. "I can handle it."
"It's possible to take bravery to the point where it becomes insanity."
"It's not an issue. Three days. Big deal." So she knew how long it took. I had half a mind to give Alice a phone call then and there.
Alice… Rosalie… Rosalie. She'd had a hard time adjusting. I just had to remember why. Her human family. "Charlie? Renee?"
Bella froze, and tried to speak, to no avail. I knew it, I wanted to say childishly. Finally, she spoke. "Look, that's not an issue either. Renee has always made the choices that work for her – she'd want me to do the same. And Charlie's resilient, he's used to being on his own. I can't take care of them forever. I have my own life to live."
"Exactly," I said furiously. "And I won't end if for you."
"If you're waiting for me to be on my deathbed, I've got news for you! I was just there!"
I furrowed my brow, trying to understand. She was going to get better. "You're going to recover," I told her confidently. She sighed, and looked me right in the eyes. She wasn't going to back down, not today.
When we finally spoke, it was Bella who broke the silence. "No, I'm not."
I looked at her, confused. Of course she was going to recover. Carlisle would see to that. "Of course you are. You may have a scar or two…"
"You're wrong," Bella said firmly. "I'm going to die."
"Really, Bella," I said, looking at her worriedly. "You'll be out of here in a few days. Two weeks at the most."
"I may not die now… but I'm going to die sometime. Every minute of the day, I get closer. And I'm going to get old."
I knew that, of course. It just… hadn't sunk in all the way. That someday, hopefully in the very far future, I would lose Bella. I pressed the tips of my fingers to my forehead, hoping it would clear my headache- the first headache I'd gotten in eighty years. There was no other choice; Bella had to stay human.
"That's how it's supposed to happen. How it should happen. How it would have happened if I didn't exist – and I shouldn't exist."
Bella snorted, and I raised my head to look at her. "That's stupid. That's like going to someone who's just won the lottery, taking their money, and saying, 'Look, let's just go back to how things should be. It's better that way.' And I'm not buying it."
Did she just compare me to the lottery? "I'm hardly a lottery prize."
"That's right," she argued. "You're much better."
"Bella," I said adamantly. "We're not having this discussion anymore. I refuse to damn you to an eternity of night and that's the end of it."
"If you think that's the end, then you don't know me very well. You're not the only vampire I know."
"Alice wouldn't dare." If she did, I would have more than a "talk" with her.
"Alice already saw it, didn't she? That's why the things she says upset you." I looked away. Bella had hit it on the nail. "She knows I'm going to be like you… someday."
I wracked my brain for something to use against Alice, and then remembered the vision of Tyler Crowley's car. "She's wrong. She also saw you dead, but that didn't happen, either."
"You'll never catch me betting against Alice."
Minutes passed in silence. In actual silence, for me. It was, sometimes, a relief I couldn't hear Bella's thoughts. When we were alone, far out, such as the meadow, thing were quiet for once. The corners of my mouth twitched.
"So where does that leave us?" Bella asked.
"I believe it's called an impasse," I answered.
She sighed. "Ouch."
I glanced at the clock. Time for some more drugs, perhaps. "How are you feeling?"
"I'm fine," she said stubbornly.
I smiled. "I don't believe you."
"I'm not going back to sleep."
"You need rest. All this arguing isn't good for you."
"So give in," she grinned at me.
"Nice try." I grabbed the nurse's button, and pushed it.
"Yes?" a voice crackled.
"I think we're ready for more pain medication," I said clearly, looking pointedly away from Bella.
"I'll send in the nurse." Poor lady. I wondered if she had to work here every day, sending the same dull message to everyone.
Bella's face was too tense, too worried. "I won't take it."
I glanced at her IV bag. "I don't think they're going to ask you to swallow anything."
She panicked, and the monitor began to beat faster. I sighed. "Bella, you're in pain. You need to relax so you can heal," I soothed. "Why are you being so difficult? They're not going to put any more needles in you now."
"I'm not afraid of the needles. I'm afraid to close my eyes."
I smiled, and gently cupped her face in my hands. "I told you I'm not going anywhere. Don't be afraid. As long as it makes you happy, I'll be here."
She returned the smile, and said, "You're talking about forever, you know."
"Oh, you'll get over it – it's just a crush," I teased.
Bella shook her head. "I was shocked when Renee swallowed that one. I know you know better."
Another point for the argument. "That's the beautiful thing about being human. Things change."
I laughed as the door opened again, this time allowing a nurse in, holding a syringe filled with an innocuous-looking fluid. "Excuse me," she said firmly. No wonder the girl can't relax… with this one here. If I were her…
I blocked her out quickly – I didn't need to hear her fantasies as well. I got up and walked to the other side of the room to watch.
"Here you go, honey," the nurse said calmly, filling the tube with the medicine. "You'll feel better now."
"Thanks," Bella said with no emotion in her voice. Her eyelids drooped almost immediately.
"That ought to do it," the nurse said, satisfied. I watched as she left, taking her and her lusty fantasies with her.
"Stay," Bella commanded as I stroked her cheek.
"I will. Like I said, as long as it makes you happy… as long as it's what's best for you."
Bella moved her head in what I supposed was supposed to be her shaking her head. "S'not the same thing."
I chuckled softly. "Don't worry about that now, Bella," I said in what I hoped was a calming voice. "You can argue with me when you wake up."
The sides of her mouth twitched. "'Kay," she mumbled.
I leaned down, and whispered in her ear, "I love you."
I laughed again. "I know."
She moved her head slightly, and I smiled. I leaned down and pressed my lips to her gently. "Thanks," Bella whispered.
"Edward?" she mumbled softly.
"I'm betting on Alice."
A/N: Ahh... I should've expanded on the ending, but I have to leave soon, so it's going to stay like that for now. So, review? Please?