Title: Resurfacing (1/2)
Summary: Another wish-fulfillment New Moon AU. Edward comes back just in time to witness Bella's cliff-jumping incident.
Disclaimer: Bits between these - / - are direct passages from New Moon, with possible inaccuracies due to the typing of whoever typed up what I copied and pasted from. And the whole Twilight universe rightfully belongs to its creator, Stephanie Meyer, and her publishers and whoever owns the rights to the story now.
A/N: This thing just kept growing, so it's going to appear in two parts. Here is the first.
/I knew that this was the stupidest, most reckless thing I had done yet. The thought made me smile. The pain was already easing, as if my body knew that Edward's voice was just seconds away…
The ocean sounded very far away, somehow farther than before, when I was on the path in the trees. I grimaced when I thought of the probable temperature of the water. But I wasn't going to let that stop me.
The wind blew stronger now, whipping the rain into eddies around me.
I stepped out to the edge, keeping my eyes on the empty space in front of me. My toes felt ahead blindly, caressing the edge of the rock when they encountered it. I drew in a deep breath and held it . . waiting.
I smiled and exhaled.
Yes? I didn't answer out loud, for fear that the sound of my voice would shatter the beautiful illusion. He sounded so real, so close. It was only when he was disapproving like this that I could hear the true memory of his voice—the velvet texture and the musical intonation that made up the most perfect of all voices.
"Don't do this," he pleaded.
You wanted me to be human, I reminded him. Well, watch me.
"Please. For me."
But you won't stay with me any other way.
"Please." It was just a whisper in the blowing rain that tossed my hair and drenched my clothes—making me as wet as if this were my second jump of the day.
I rolled up onto the balls of my feet.
"No, Bella!" He was angry now, and the anger was so lovely.
I smiled and raised my arms straight out, as if I were going to dive, lifting my face into the rain. But it was too ingrained from years of swimming at the public pool—feet first, first time. I leaned forward, crouching to get more spring…
And I flung myself off the cliff.
I screamed as I dropped through the open air like a meteor, but it was a scream of exhilaration and not fear. The wind resisted, trying vainly to fight the unconquerable gravity, pushing against me and twirling me in spirals like a rocket crashing to the earth.
Yes! The word echoed through my head as I sliced through the surface of the water. It was icy, colder than I'd feared, and yet the chill only added to the high.
I was proud of myself as I plunged deeper into the freezing black water. I hadn't had one moment of terror—just pure adrenaline. Really, the fall wasn't scary at all. Where was the challenge?
That was when the current caught me.
I'd been so preoccupied by the size of the cliffs, by the obvious danger of their high, sheer faces, that I hadn't worried at all about the dark water waiting. I never dreamed that the true menace was lurking far below me, under the heaving surf.
It felt like the waves were fighting over me, jerking me back and forth between them as if determined to share by pulling me into halves. I knew the right way to avoid a riptide: swim parallel to the beach rather than struggling for the shore. But the knowledge did me little good when I didn't know which way the shore was.
I couldn't even tell which way the surface was.
The angry water was black in every direction; there was no brightness to direct me upward. Gravity was all-powerful when it competed with the air, but it had nothing on the waves—I couldn't feel a downward pull, a sinking in any direction. Just the battering of the current that flung me round and round like a rag doll.
I fought to keep my breath in, to keep my lips locked around my last store of oxygen.
It didn't surprise me that my delusion of Edward was there. He owed me that much, considering that I was dying. I was surprised by how sure that knowledge was. I was going to drown. I was drowning.
"Keep swimming!" Edward begged urgently in my head.
Where? There was nothing but the darkness. There was no place to swim to.
"Stop that!" he ordered. "Don't you dare give up!"
The cold of the water was numbing my arms and legs. I didn't feel the buffeting so much as before. It was more of just a dizziness now, a helpless spinning in the water.
But I listened to him. I forced my arms to continue reaching, my legs to kick harder, though every second I was facing a new direction. It couldn't be doing any good. What was the point?
"Fight!" he yelled. "Damn it, Bella, keep fighting."
I didn't want to fight anymore. And it wasn't the light-headedness, or the cold, or the failure of my arms as the muscles gave out in exhaustion, that made me content to stay where I was. I was almost happy that it was over. This was an easier death than others I'd faced. Oddly peaceful.
I thought briefly of the clichés, about how you were suppose to see your life flash before your eyes. I was so much luckier. Who wanted to see a rerun, anyway?
I saw him, and I had no will to fight. It was so clear, so much more defined than any memory. My subconscious had stored Edward away in flawless detail, saving him for this final moment. I could see his perfect face as if he were really there; the exact shade of his icy skin, the shape of his lips, the line of his jaw, the gold glinting in his furious eyes. He was angry, naturally, that I was giving up. His teeth were clenched and his nostrils flared with rage.
"No! Bella, no!"
My ears were flooded with the freezing water, but his voice was clearer than ever. I ignored his words and concentrated on the sound of his voice. Why would I fight when I was so happy where I was? Even as my lungs burned for more air and my legs cramped in the icy cold, I was content. I'd forgotten what real happiness felt like.
Happiness. It made the whole dying thing pretty bearable.
The current won at that moment, shoving me abruptly against something hard, a rock invisible in the gloom. It hit me solidly across the chest, slamming into me like an iron bar, and the breath whooshed out of my lungs, escaping in a thick cloud of silver bubbles. Water flooded down my throat, choking and burning. The iron bar seemed to be dragging me, pulling me away from Edward, deeper into the dark, to the ocean floor.
Goodbye, I love you, was my last thought./
My mind stopped the minute I saw her on that cliff's edge. This was one vision of Alice's that I hadn't wanted to believe, that I desperately hoped I could stop.
I couldn't see her face, but she didn't move in reaction to my voice. Was she so far gone?
"Don't do this," I begged, taking a step forward. Again, she didn't move, didn't say a word. Had I really hurt her so much that she couldn't look at me?
"Please. For me." I grasped for anything that would make her listen. Something had to matter to her still. It wasn't like Bella to give up.
Nothing. She was beyond my reach.
"Please," I breathed, beginning to despair.
Bella poised herself to jump, and I heard myself cry out as I took off running toward her, but the laws of physics warred against me. She was already jumping, and I wasn't able to catch her.
Without a second thought I jumped in after her, frustrated that I couldn't make myself fall faster, that gravity only pulled so hard. Every moment she was in the water increased the chances that I wouldn't be able to pull her out alive. It would be a miracle if she fell unscathed, if she avoided all the rocks and didn't break anything. Even then, she would be caught in the currents, and while I could spend as much time as necessary searching for her in the water, she only had a few precious minutes before her store of oxygen ran out and her body forced her to breath, taking in water until her lungs filled.
In the water, my eyes sought frantically for her and landed on her pale form, her skin starkly white in the dark water. The current was obviously too strong for her; her arms and legs moved frantically, but her body still moved with the tide, locked helplessly in its grip.
I battled against the water with all my strength. I'd been horrified when Alice told me what she saw, but now seeing it in reality, I truly felt what was at stake in the form of a tearing ache where my heart should have been. If Bella died, I would have no reason to go on living.
As I neared, her eyes met mine, and the strangest expression came over her face. Her features relaxed and she appeared to be…content. Happy. I filed it away to contemplate another time as I came within arm's reach and clutched her to me.
Her breath flew out and I struggled for the surface, knowing her time was running short.
As I broke through the water, I realized the beach was some twenty yards away. Cursing, I fought forward, hindered by Bella's limp form. I feared to kick with all my strength, lest I hit her in the process, and I could only stroke with one arm. Even so, I would reach the shore faster than any human, but it wasn't enough to quell the crushing panic in my chest.
I dragged her onto the beach and tried to ignore her abnormal pallor as I went through the steps of CPR in my head. I wished I had Carlisle's help. I wasn't sure at all I would be able to do it without crushing her sternum, but Carlisle was in New York, and there was no time to get her to a hospital or even call for help.
Focus, I told myself. Breath. Chest compressions. I could do this.
It seemed like an eternity while I waiting for her to respond, but finally, she took a breath and immediately began to cough out the water trapped in her lungs. I smoothed her hair back as she rolled over, wishing I could do more.
She collapsed back onto the pebbly shore and her eyes cracked open hesitantly.
"Edward?" she murmured. She sounded confused.
"Yes, it's me."
Her eyes closed again. "I am dead, then."
"No," I said, feeling my anger surge upward now that I felt relatively sure she would be okay. "Despite all your attempts to the contrary, you're still quite alive."
"You're still angry with me," she sighed. "I only did it to make you stay."
"I have no idea what you're talking about, but we don't have time to discuss it now," I said, lifting her up. "We need to get you warm, and I need to get off this reservation before I'm detected."
"Right," she mumbled. "They don't like you much."
I made for the forest, avoiding the roads, much happier to be moving on foot now. As far as vampire standards went, I was a horrible swimmer. I'd never been especially comfortable in the water.
Bella hid her head against my shoulder as I ran, and by the time we reached my car, parked just across the boundary line, she was unconscious again. I laid her in the back seat and covered her with the only thing I had, the coat I kept in the car for show on cold days.
I drove faster than my usual fast and cranked up the heat in the car, worried about the possibility of hypothermia. I took her to my family's house; if I took her home and Charlie was there, the situation would become more complicated. Charlie deserved to know what had happened today, but until I knew why Bella had chosen to jump, I would leave her the decision to tell him.
The house was just as I'd left it that evening, Esme's pristine furniture covered in white sheets, lacking those personal touches that showed the signs of habitation. I took Bella upstairs to my room, the only room that remained unmoved. I hadn't gone with the rest of my family to New York, and I hadn't asked them to take my things along. None of that had seemed particularly important at the time.
I set Bella on the couch and turned to the closet to retrieve something dry for her to wear. It wouldn't do for her to stay in clothes soaked with icy cold water. When I reemerged, she was awake again, staring at me.
"Bella?" I questioned, not sure what to make of her wide eyes.
"I don't understand," she whispered. I went to kneel beside her, worried by her tone of voice. She sounded so lost.
"What don't you understand?"
"I must be dead," she murmured as though to herself. "If I were alive, you wouldn't still be here. But I thought the afterlife would be something a little different."
I frowned. "Bella, I can assure you that you're very much alive. Check your pulse if you don't believe me."
Tentatively, she reached trembling fingers up to her throat. Evidently satisfied, she pushed herself into a sitting position.
"Why are you here, then?" she asked, as though my presence were an impossibility.
"Bella," I sighed, "I was coming back. I was nearly to your house when Alice had a vision of you jumping off a cliff. Bella, how could you do something so stupid?"
She neatly evaded my question, staring down at her folded hands. "Why were you coming back?"
"To see you, of course. To apologize. To beg your forgiveness." She shot me a disbelieving glance, and I realized what the problem was. I had been too convincing. "Oh, Bella. I thought, surely, you would have figured me out right away. I lied when I left. It was never because I was bored, or because I didn't love you anymore; I left because it was the only way to keep you safe, to give you what you deserved. Don't you see?"
"No," she shook her head. She was shivering violently, but this had to be sorted out before I dealt with that. "That doesn't make any sense. How would I be safe without you? You were always the one that saved me –"
"I also brought you into danger," I reminded her, and I understood now why she'd failed to see through my pretenses. Bella had always been quick to disregard the dangers of our relationship, had always been so careless of her own welfare. "Bella, you were in danger from me from the moment we met – whether it was my own thirst, or James, or even Jasper…"
"Oh," she breathed. "Oh…I see."
"Do you?" I asked, feeling a strange desperation to have her understand. If she could understand, perhaps she could forgive me for the pain I'd caused her. "Those were just the physical dangers. You were so intent on being changed, so willing to give up your future. I was keeping you from a human life."
"Would that be so terrible, me being a vampire?" she asked, raising her eyes enough to meet mine.
"For me? No. I want that so much more than I should. But for you, yes, it would be terrible. You would be forced to leave behind your parents, your friends, to give up the chance to have a career, a family…and so many things I'm not sure you've even considered. Going out in public on a sunny day. Eating, drinking. Sleeping. I left because I worried you wouldn't realize you wanted those things until it was too late."
She shook her head as if to clear her thoughts. "Why did you change your mind, then? Why did you come back?"
It was my turn for disbelief. I reached out to her, unable to help myself, turning her face to mine. "I thought that would be obvious. Because I love you, Bella. I always have and always will. Because you are everything that matters in this world and I was in agony without you."
Her tears landed on my hand and each was a new weight on my soul, if a soul was indeed what I possessed.
"If you want me to go away, if I've hurt you too much, I'll leave without argument."
"No!" The panic in her voice startled me as her hand shot up to clutch mine. "No, I don't want you to leave."
"Then I won't," I answered in a soothing tone. "I promise this time, I will stay as long as you want me. Now, I think it would be a good idea to put you in some dry clothes. You're freezing."
"I am," she said as though just realizing it herself. "I don't have –"
I handed her the clothing I'd found for her and she smiled, the shy smile that had always belied her insecurity. In my mind flashed every memory I had of that smile, and I felt just how much I had missed in my months away.
She went quickly to the bathroom and I heard her stumbling in her rush to change. It was so familiar, so very Bella. I wondered just how much would be the same, just how much will have changed.
She hurried back in a sweater and drawstring pants, both of which were much too big for her. The pants were rolled up several times so that she wouldn't trip on them. She looked like heaven.
"Better?" I asked.
"Yes," she said, approaching cautiously. "But I'm so – so tired all of the sudden," she added as she stifled a yawn.
"Then you should sleep," I said as she made her way back to the couch. She bit her lip, obviously considering something.
"I'll be here when you wake up," I said, hoping to pinpoint the cause of whatever her anxiety was. "We can talk more then."
"I'm just afraid I'll wake up and find this was all a dream," she said quietly, hiding her eyes again.
I chuckled and reached to touch her face again, brushing my fingers across the smooth skin. "I doubt your subconscious is that creative, Bella."
"You're probably right," she sighed, stretching out. I reached over her to the blanket that still remained from past occasions such as this and spread it over her.
"Sleep," I whispered, daring to kiss her lightly on the lips. She sighed again, her breath stealing over me like an opiate as she closed her eyes.
To Be Continued