Family Bonding

Written by: A. Lincoln

Author's Notes and Warnings: This story is placed into two time categories: The early 1900s and Present Day. Chapters fluctuate between these timeframes. 1900s are written in Elizabeth Masen's view and Present Day in Bella's, with a few exceptions here and there. Enjoy! :)

I: Do Me a Favor

Chicago 1918

The feeling was indescribable, the pain overwhelming. It devoured all coherent thought – Carlisle must have thought I was already dead by the lack of life in my stare.

I watched his back as he mixed two fluids together in a beaker and found myself frowning as I realized that the substance was for me. It did not look like my usual cup of tea, but if it would give me enough strength to speak my distress, then I would gladly subdue and take as much as possible.

Unfortunately, the medicine only gave my throat the worst of stinging sensations as it glided effortlessly down my throat. I wanted to tell him to stop, and I knew he had an idea of the pain from the worry lines that creased with brow. I whimpered pathetically and he tilted the glass upward for a moment to position his other hand over my forehead.

In order to take my mind off the growing pain, I watched the steady rise and fall of Carlisle's chest as he poured the remainder of the glass into my cracked and quivering lips. His hand was either alarmingly cold or I was extremely hot, and I figured it was me. I had been in such a state at the hospital for the past several days and my body was not adapting well to the fluctuating temperatures.

I used the sudden strength gained from the medicine to swallow the remnants of the juice. The moisture on my tongue was one uncomfortable feeling among many so I tried to moisten my lips by running my tongue along them.

"You shouldn't do that." His soft voice came from the corner of the room and my head reacted automatically to its alluring tenor. A small smile graced my lips despite the pain as I let the echo of the room embrace his voice to its full extent.

"Why shouldn't I?" I knew it was near impossible to frame words with the immense pain, but I wanted to hear his melodic reply. It lessened the pain just a bit when he talked to me.

"It only moistens your lips temporarily; they'll be dryer than they were before in a few minutes," he replied, eyeing me furtively.

I felt my lips upturn slightly at his stare and he responded with a smile that threatened to steal the remaining air in my body. His teeth were perfect white and his eyes seemed to sparkle, although I could have attributed all of his godliness to my unstable state.

But my observations were cut short when his face turned serious. I had the sudden urge to ask what was wrong, but the thought was cut short when I saw where he was staring. He was staring at my face with the most sorrowful expression I had ever seen on his beautiful face.

I frowned and tried to form words, but that set off a chain reaction of events. I coughed lightly and brought my shaking hand to cover it.

Oh, the blood. There was so much blood.

It was too much to simply come from my small cough; it must have started coming through my nose, but all I knew was that there was so much of it.

Carlisle was swiftly by my side, pinching the soft flesh of my nose. I began to cry; burning tears cascaded down my cheeks as the pain overtook every part of my body. I must have been convulsing since Carlisle seemed to be in holding me down with some type of composed strength.

I could hear my frantic breathing above all else. My eyes were spinning; the white walls of the room began oscillating around my pupils and I bit my lip as the nausea rose. I felt the blood on my teeth and knew it was almost over.

I would not survive this.

I whimpered as I realized that my son would have no one. My husband was already gone, having perished two days earlier. Edward had his cousins in New York, but they were serving in the war and would be of no help. I did not want him going there to die by the hands of another person.

Another convulsion rippled through me and suddenly everything stopped. I was flat on my back and the flickering of the light above penetrated my lazy eyes. My mouth was open and I could feel the blood stained sheets under my icy grasp. There was a slight stinging in my arm, but my neck did not have enough energy to turn and examine it.

Carlisle sensed my confusion and answered my silent question.

"I gave you more medicine - nothing to drink though." He added the last part for my benefit, since he knew of my distaste for liquids, and I wished that I could smile. But all I could do was stare blankly at the ceiling.

Carlisle rubbed my soiled cheek with the pad of his thumb and stood up. I grunted in response and he stopped momentarily.

"I will be back. I'm going to check on Edward."

I didn't even attempt to form a response as he exited the room.

At this point, my face felt like someone had poured honey on it. I felt absolutely horrible and knew I must have looked disgusting to him. I hoped that no one would come in the room and found myself inwardly laughing at the situation. No one would come here. We all were too repulsive.

I bit my lip to stop the flow of agony about to burst from me as I sat up. It took deep breaths for me to reach my hand over to grab the piece of paper and inkpad from the table. I wrote hunched over, my words leaving the clean page messy with my hurried instructions. Once finished, I placed the piece of paper back onto the table.

I laid my head back on the soft pillow and contemplated Edward's life. I hoped he would make it through this and become the strong man he had promised me he would be. I hoped all of his wishes would be granted. I hoped for everything for him.

When Carlisle's footsteps informed me of his presence, I smiled sadly. My breathing had slowed and, since his departure, more blood had stained my neck and jaw. Even my blinking seemed to have been counted in minutes, not seconds. Silent tears kept falling and I damned them all to hell, but it wasn't enough to stop them.

I did not want to leave my son.

Carlisle must have known that his attempts were in vain. He pulled up the chair and sat at my bedside, stroking my matted hair softly.

"I'm sorry," he whispered, his voice almost hoarse from the strain of visiting the ward of the dying, where Edward lay alone and afraid.

I brought my hand up to his and grasped it tightly. His caresses ceased and he brought his hand down to my side, both still intertwined.

"Just do me a favor." My voice shook with the fear of death as my eyes found his and then the piece of paper on the table. He followed my gaze and, with his other hand, picked it up from the table as though it was as delicate as glass.

It was hard to even keep my eyes closed, and I barely managed to get the words out. "Give that to someone he deeply cares for, please."

Carlisle nodded once. I felt his hand slowly slip out of mine and I smiled weakly. He leaned over and his lips pressed against my forehead, so soft that I could have doubted he actually did it. But indeed he did because his bottom lip was stained with one drop of my blood.

The feeling in the air was tangible as I watched him with wary eyes. I blinked once and the blood on his lip had disappeared. I couldn't tell how he had taken it off, but there was a small cloth in his hand that wasn't there before.

He smiled.

I smiled in return.

Then I let out the last full breath of my life.

Posted: June 20th, 2008.