Author's Note: You may want to refresh on Chapter 6, and the past few chapters as well.
Disclaimer: I do not own Edward, but I do own all dem original characters.
VertiCut: Chapter XIX
South Gate Hospital
Sitting in the private waiting room, all we can hear are the snips of Edward's scissors and Lintu's soft sobbing. Tin-Tin pats her back and whispers quietly to her. I itch at the bandages wrapped around my wrists and look around at the pale blue walls, the little artificial bamboo fountain clicking in the corner, the zines stacked neatly in the corner. Anything not to feel this terrible pressure.
And finally, the door to the elevator opens and Beck walks in, a doctor by his side.
Lintu's the first on her feet.
"Is Darla okay?!" Lintu screams, running to Beck and hugging him. "Is she gonna make it?"
Beck winces, and it's only then I notice the thick coat of bandages covering his neck. Lintu quickly backs up.
"It wasn't good, but she's made it through the worst of it," the doctor says, tapping her holo-clipboard. "We were able to repair the perforations on her abdomen, but she'll have limited movement for quite a while. Unfortunately, there was nothing we could do about her eye."
"Her eye?" Tin-Tin asks.
"Her left one," Beck says hoarsely. His robotic voice sounds strained, painful.
"The damage was too severe, there was simply nothing left intact enough for us to mend. Once she comes to we can make a consultation with our bionics or genetics doctor about a functional prosthetic, but that will all depend on her and what she wants. We can talk about it more when she wakes up," the doctor says.
"Thank you Doctor," Beck whispers, a tone of formality I've never heard before, not even when he was sick.
"We'll notify you when she wakes up, but it may be a long while before that happens. Try to get some rest in the meantime," she says softly.
She walks away and Beck floats to a chair like a ghost, and Lintu and Tin-Tin flank him immediately. I sit down across from him, and even Edward scuttles over.
Staring down at his red eyes, it feels almost…unreal, seeing him like this. Just a few hours ago, he was ready to tear Darla to pieces. I've seen him angry plenty of times, but never like that. But now, it's different now.
And I think back to what Beck was really mad about. Not how she had her hand in horrible, illegal things. But how she turned her back on who she was.
How she turned her back on him.
And still, here he is, broken to pieces over almost losing her. I don't think I've ever seen him cry so hard as he did on the ride to the hospital. He still cares. Even after what she did, how mad he was, he still loves her.
It makes me think about the people I've written off. The people who abandoned me, the people I always tell myself I don't give two fucks about. It makes me wonder, will all that indifference melt away when those people die?
Well, just one person, really.
"Are you okay?" Tin asks Beck, patting his hand.
"Yeah," he sighs. "I will be. The Battle Bot damaged some of the wires in my throat, but they took them out and replaced them. Just got some…some bad bruising. Nothing…nothing like Darla."
"It wasn't trying to hurt us," I say, looking down at my own bandaged wrists. Scratched. Bruised. Compared to a lost eye, it's not anything. "It was just…trying to keep us out of the way while it attacked her."
"Yeah. It seemed like that," Beck nodded.
"How did you know where we were?" I ask Tin-Tin.
Her and Lintu share a nervous glance.
"I…I checked the voicemail for the apartment and... heard your conversation with the guy from Iced-Wire," Lintu says, glancing at Beck. "I thought you were going to….try lookin' for trouble with Darla, and I didn't want things to get out of hand."
Beck looks down. I can tell he doesn't want to think about that right now. About how close calling Darla a sick fuck came to being the last words he ever spoke to her.
"It's a good thing you guys were there, though!" Tin-Tin says, catching on immediately. "If you hadn't been there, no one would've known what happened. Darla would have just…."
"We didn't do anything. Edward's the one who saved her."
I can't believe I hear Beck say it myself. Edward snaps his head up, his blades twitching nervously. Beck looks him in the eyes.
"Thank you, Edward," he says with a nod. "You saved her life."
Edward's still for a moment before he returns his nod.
"You're welcome," he says gently.
The hours passed by, but Darla still didn't wake up. Eventually, Lintu fell asleep on Beck's lap, and Tin-Tin dragged Edward into a corner to brush his hair. I got up and moved next to Beck, reaching out a hand. He took it.
"How did that happen, Urchin?" Beck asks. "How? I thought…robots couldn't hurt people."
"They can't," I say.
"Only one just did," Beck said.
"So what happened?" Beck asked. "Was it…reprogrammed? Damaged? Can that even happen?"
"They shouldn't be able to," I say. "Even if they get scrambled, they shouldn't be able to hurt humans. It's like…the building block to all their other programing. It's as important as the programing that lets them move their arms and legs and talk. It doesn't make any sense."
We sit silently for a moment, both trying to make sense out of what happened.
"We should ask Addy about it," Beck says.
"You think he'd know?" I ask.
"If anyone could explain it, he could. Not like we have anyone else around we can ask," he shrugs.
I nod. He's right. At least Addy might be able to tell us something.
Beck coughs and winces, and Lintu yawns and sits up from his lap.
"Mmmph, Beck, maybe you should go home?" Lintu asks, looking up at the clock.
"I ain't going anywhere," Beck mumbles.
"The doctor said you needed to get rest though. You should go home and get some sleep. I can call you the second she wakes up."
Beck glares at her for a moment but I squeeze his hand.
"She's got a point," I say. "I can go home with you too."
I glance over to Edward.
"Edward? You want to go back to the apartment with us?"
Edward looks to Tin-Tin and she nods at him, and he stands.
"Sounds like a good idea. I'll stay here and keep Lintu company," Tin says.
"Mmmmph," Beck growls. "Fine. You'll call me when she wakes up?"
"Cross my heart," Lintu says with a smile.
Beck sighs and he stands up, and with Edward trailing behind us, we pile into the elevator out of the private waiting room.
"I don't like this. I should be here for her." Beck sighs.
"It'll be fine, Beck," I say. "We'll come back soon as she wakes up."
The second the doors open, a sea of faces turn to meet us, bright lights flashing. Beck brings his hands to his eyes.
"THERE THEY ARE, THEY'RE HERE!"
A cam bot zooms low to my face and I duck as it flies over my head, pinning itself on Edward.
I try to step forward, try to push through the crowd, but the second I step out of the elevator I get swept away, pushed under the flurry of people rushing towards Edward.
"Edward, can we get a statement about your heroic rescue of the young woman?!"
"Edward, how did it feel to witness first hand the first account of robot on human violence in documented human history?!"
"Please, Edward, tell us, what was going through your mind?"
"Did this bring back any memories of your time in the Industrial Abductions?!"
I look up in horror from the floor to see Edward backing up against a wall, blinking and looking terrified as people click off mini cameras and records at him and cam bots wiz past his face.
"Leave him alone!" I yell.
They can't even begin to hear me. I watch as Edward frantically pulls his hands up, slicing several fishers into his face. I pull myself up off the ground and try to push my way through the crowd, but it's an impenetrable wall.
"EVERYONE, CEASE AND DESIST!"
I flinch and press my hands over my ears as the intercom blares. The screaming reporters do too, and I can hear the clatter of several digi-pens and tablets.
I glance over to the front desk and I see her, and my heart skips up into my throat. Glairing over the countertop, one hand pressed on the intercom, the other folded indignantly at her side.
"We do not tolerate this kind of shit in this hospital," she says in that scratchy voice, narrowing her eyes. "I said you could stay so long as you didn't make trouble. Well now you fucking made it. You got five minutes to leave the premises before I call security. Out. Now."
The reporters glance at each other and quietly retreat, their cam-bots zooming after them. As they file out I find Beck on the floor, clutching his throat in a fit of coughs.
"Beck! Are you okay?!" I yell.
"Ughhh. Fucker stomped on my face!" he yells.
As I pull him off the ground, I glance over to Edward. He's slid down to the floor and shivering, blood dripping down his face.
"Edward?" I ask.
"You kids alright?" Cherry asks.
I turn around. She's walked out from behind the desk and stands next to me, holding out a paper towel. Still in red scrubs, curly black hair still encasing her face. Just like she was that day she told me Dad was gone.
Of all the nurses to be on duty when I was here. It had to be her.
I grab the paper towel and go over to Edward quickly, helping him wipe off his face.
"What was that about, Cherry?" Beck asks, trying to control his coughs.
"Guess you guys didn't see the feed?" she asks, glancing between us.
"…What feed?" I ask, forcing myself to speak.
"Yeah. I um, figured none of you were keen to be lookin' at your phones given the circumstances. Your friend, Edward, saving your sister from the Battle Bot. " Cherry says, nodding to Beck.
Beck furrows his brows in disbelief.
"What?! How the hell was there feed? We were in an abandoned part of West Side, there are no cameras out there." I say.
"You were right outside a fight ring though, and their security cameras picked it up," Cherry explains. "Nobody knows how, but someone hacked the feed and posted it online, it went viral hours ago. IBC raided the ring, news feeds have been buzzing about a bot that defied its programing, and those leach reporters have been waiting for a statement from you guys since it happened."
"I wasn't expecting you guys to leave, I would have sent in a nurse to warn you, but I didn't think you needed any of this bullshit just yet. Anyway, I just paged security to call a cab for you guys, you can wait inside till it"—
"How long have you known we were here?" I ask.
Cherry keeps her eyes down.
"I um, was here when Beck and Darla were brought in. I…I wanted to….to come say something….but all things considered…"
"Yeah," I say, looking down. "I get it."
Cherry glances over at Beck.
"Hey um, Beck? Could you give us a few?" She asks him.
Beck glances over at me. I consider shaking my head for a moment, but for some reason, I nod instead. He stalks off to the other side of the lobby.
"C'mon Edward," I say, helping him up. He twitches his fingers as I lead him over to a pair of chairs and press the paper towel to his face. My mom follows after us.
"I um….I've been thinking of calling you. Since you moved to this side, I mean." Cherry says.
"So you knew about that too, huh?" I ask.
"Yeah. I…I saw Edward on the feeds, doing the hair thing. He's been getting pretty famous, ya know, locally. No wonder the Idiot Patrol tried to capitalize on the story."
"I…I owe you an apology, G. About that day. You too Edward. I just…when I saw Edward and his hands, I just assumed the worst and…I jumped to conclusions. I'm….I'm really sorry about what I did, G. What I said. That….that shouldn't have been the way I told you," she mumbles.
"Yeah, well," I say with a shrug. "What's done is done. No use crying about it, right?"
We sit in uncomfortable silence for a moment. She finally opens her mouth.
"Hey Urchin, looks like our cab's out front," Beck calls over.
I stand up fast, and Edward follows quickly after.
"Hey, G?" Cherry calls after me.
"Yeah?" I ask.
"Do you think we could…meet for lunch sometime? I just…there's some stuff I'd like to talk to you about. It's important," she mumbles.
I look down at the carpet, clenching my fists tight. I want to be angry. I want to tell her to go fuck herself. To climb up to the tallest building in this piece of shit town and take a flying leap off of it.
But all I can think about is Beck. How hard he cried when he cradled Darla's bloody body.
"I'll stop by sometime," I say quickly, walking to the door.
I don't look back.
I'm thankful Beck's apartment was so far above the street. There had been a small crowd of people waiting outside when we arrived, but once we ran into the building and made it clear we weren't coming out, they left. Nothing to see here. Beck conked out on the sofa moments after taking the pain medicine his doctor gave him, and I covered him with a blanket before joining Edward out on the balcony.
He sits quietly, staring out into the night sky. His scissors are still and that look in his eyes like he was a million miles away.
"Hey hero," I say, sitting down next to him.
Edward glances up at me and sheepishly looks down.
"Sorry," I say. "I didn't mean to give you a hard time."
"You weren't," he says.
"…You are one though, you know. A hero. You…you saved Darla's life. Hell, who knows what that haywire bot would have done afterwards, either. Thanks."
Edward nods, but I can tell there's something else on his mind. I don't ask him about it.
I know if it's important, I can trust that he'll tell me.
"I can't believe the last twelve hours," I yawn, stretching out my arms. "It feels like some kind of dream. This isn't too much for you, is it?"
He glances out to the night again.
"Good," I sigh.
"…Urchin? There's…something I need to tell you." Edward says.
"Huh? What?" I ask.
"I think Imogen knows I'm not Tin-Tin's brother." He says. "I….I think she knows I'm not human."
I whip my head over at him.
"What?" I ask. "Why do you think that?"
"She told me that whenever we're alone together she can hear my heart stop beating."
I can feel the hairs on my arms stand up. I look over at him, and he's not looking out at the sky anymore. He's looking at me.
And he looks scared.
"What do we do?" he asks.
I rack my brain, trying to think of the steps we need to take now that we've been found out. But instead, my mind wanders back to the first time I talked to her, the only real time I talked to her. About how worried she was when I mentioned Edward was almost picked up by the IBC. How excited she was when she realized who I was, who my father was. How sympathetic she was when she overheard me telling Edward about the bot fight I saw.
"I…I think it'll be okay," I say.
And it's the truth.
"You do?" Edward asks, his blades spasming.
"…Yeah. I mean, it happens every time you've been alone with her and she hasn't told anyone, right?"
"Well…I don't think she's going to. She doesn't have any reason to sell you out. She seems like a genuinely good person. I think we can trust her. Or at least trust that the secret's safe with her," I say.
Edward looks up at me, a weight looking like it's slipping off his shoulders.
"…Okay." he nods.
"Just...we'll follow up with her about it, okay? I'll go with you. We'll figure out what she knows, just to know where we stand with her. But I think it'll all be alright."
"...What about what she said?" Edward asks.
"What about it?" I ask.
"About my heart stopping whenever I'm around her."
Now that was something different entirely. What Edward is, what's inside of him, it just becomes more and more complicated. And just when we think we might be getting answers, we get even more questions.
I wonder if we'll ever figure it out.
"I don't know," I sigh. "But my guess is this could be really important. We'll tell Addy next time we talk to him."
I glance back out at the city, out past the projects to the distant, shining glow that is the west side.
"After everything that happened today, my guess is we'll be talking to him soon."
"Are you okay?" Edward asks.
I look back over at him.
"After…talking to your mom?" he asks.
"…I don't know," I sigh. "I mean…I think so. I really wanted to tell her…well, all kinds of horrible things. But after what happened to Darla, and seeing Beck just…crumble like that….I don't know. I guess….just hearing what she has to say won't hurt."
After the way she told me dad died, there's really no other way she can hurt me.
But he's not dead, I remind myself. She can give up. But I never will.
Then again, she said it was something important. Maybe she has more information, maybe there's something else she can tell me that can give me more hints about my dad. Anything would be helpful at this point.
I sigh to myself. It's a small silver lining, but maybe, just maybe, something good might come from all this.
At least I can hope for now.
"Urchin?" Edward asks.
"Why does your mom call you G?" he asks.
I open my mouth, but nothing comes out. We sit in silence for a while, just staring out at the city.
"It's short for my real name." I say finally.
"Yeah. Urchin's just a nickname. But…it kind of stuck, growing up. I like it. My dad came up with it. 'Cuz my hair was always such a tangled mess." I say.
"…What's your real name?" Edward asks.
I meet Edward's eyes, and he stares right back into me. I sigh and look back out at the street.
"It doesn't matter. Nobody's called me it for a very long time," I whisper.
Here's a fun game—go back in the story and look for places where people called Urchin G!
Hey everybody! Long time no see! I started to write this as a little warm up before working on a new story and oh hey look the entire chapter came out. If you guys still likes this and want more, let me know! I'm working mostly on my original stuff these days but if I knew there were people still interested in this story I'd be happy to give it more time when I can. ^_^
And if you ever want to just talk and say hi, hit me up on Deviant Art! Same username as here, link on my profile!
As always, corrections tomorrow or I'll be up all night proof reading. Until next time dear readers!