One-shot. And no, I don't own any of the copyrights pertaining to the Twilight series.

72 Hours

by Sakura Mitsukai

I've had my fair-share of near death experiences, but I always survived in the end. Somehow. Someway. It seemed as if Fate would allow me to escape, even though my days had been numbered from the first moment Edward Cullen laid eyes on me. I suppose, being human, my days were numbered before then. But now, my time was up. I was only ever allotted a specific number of days.

Most would consider it a noble act to die for the one you love. I can't help but wonder if my so-called noble act is really nothing but selfishness. But it is love which drove me to this point, which caused me to make this choice. I would have to die. For Edward. I wonder if this is how Juliet felt when she saw Romeo lying dead. If only she had waited a few moments longer.

I took a deep breath, reminding myself that death would come regardless. Someday, it would find me. I'd rather make the choice on my own than to be caught unprepared. It wouldn't be such a terrible thing to face, not with Edward beside me. I knew with my death, everything would change. Selfish as I was, death was entirely inevitable for me. I would rather it come now.

I took another deep breath, allowing an elongated sigh to escape my lips as I searched the room. I knew the exact moment he was beside me, almost as if appearing from thin air. My heart quickened its pace and his chuckle reached my ears. He sighed his own and placed one of his cold, stony hands on my heated face. My blush, definitely one of the first things he would miss.

Was it fair of me to rob him of so many of the things he liked?

"You're sure?" he asked quietly. The hesitation in his voice, however hidden, was not hidden from my ears. I had learned to distinguish the different intonations of his voice.

It's not every day someone is asked permission to be killed. I wonder if that's how Edward truly sees this—a murder, and I'm his victim.

"Yes," I answered quickly, placing my warm palm over his frozen hand. I was taking my warmth from him. Everything has a compromise, but there's no compromise with this.

He quickly kissed my lips, almost reveling in the warmth he stole from them. That would be the last. Ironically, it was time for me to die. His voice was so soft, I barely heard him say he would not leave me. His cold mouth pressed against my neck, and my heart quickened once more.

I never thought it was fair that his simple actions could cause such a reaction from me. My human body, entirely mortal, seemed to jump at his every move—flushed at his every touch. Maybe that's part of what decided my selfishness. I wonder what part of selfishness commands a person to endure seventy-two hours of literal hell.

I closed my eyes tight, whispering a quick "I love you." Those would be my last human words—the last words I spoke as a living, breathing being. I felt him murmur the words against my skin before he bit.

I was dying for the one I loved. How much more honor could there be in this world? Juliet had killed herself for the man she loved, no matter how foolish and rash her actions had been. I had been given years to decide, though it was decided for me before I even knew. All I had known was I wanted to be with Edward. It didn't matter how or where. It only mattered that it was him.

I felt my blood boiling and barely heard the gasp escaping my lips. It was then that I noticed that Edward has only just pulled his lips from my neck. The burning was almost immediate. I understood just why this was the most vivid human memory of the Cullens.

"I'm so sorry, Bella," Edward's whisper reached my ears.

I forced my eyes open to look at him, pleading with him to not apologize. I had always known a risk would be involved. I didn't blame him for struggling to pull away from me. My blood had been a stumbling block for him from the day he met me. Maybe it would have been less selfish to offer him all my blood. But I had to keep him alive. That's why I chose to die.

I don't know how many hours had passed. My eyes were clenched shut, and I wished my ears could have clenched shut as well. The screams sounded foreign to me, but they were my own. I felt Edward's cold head pressed against my chest—I assumed to listen to my heart beat for the last time.

It wasn't fair to rob him of that. But it was too late to turn back. It hadn't been fair to tempt him with my scent either. It didn't make sense to me that he had never complained about that, only about the things he was going to miss when I died.

It was a morbid way to look at things. Though I'd never say it aloud, it was somewhat how I viewed it. Transformation was just a pretty word used to cover up what actually took place. I was dying. But I was dying so we could live.

I never considered myself masochistic before. Yet, I had begged him to change me. I wanted to be like him. The mere thought of blood had always nauseated me as a human. I could only hope that that would not follow me. Otherwise, I'd be in trouble. The scent of blood needed to be tantalizing—the taste, delicious. The thought made me gag, in spite of the pain. I had to stop thinking about the blood. I was still human.

Everything I was giving up—my parents, friends, Jacob—was worth it in the end. As long as I had my eternity with Edward. Jacob. I couldn't believe how much I had hurt him. I never intended for our friendship to get so out of hand. I never intended to love him the way I did. Another masochistic tendency of mine. I needed to stop thinking about him. Thoughts of Jacob Black only made my heart hurt—and that wasn't fair to Edward. My heart should not ache over someone else. At least my heart would stop altogether.

The pictures of a normal human life drifted before my tightly closed eyes. Raising a family, growing old together—maybe I could understand just a little bit why Rosalie had encouraged me to remain human to the very end. We had run out of time though. It was only a matter of time before the Volturi arrived. Those ideas of having a family—children, maybe grandchildren—were mere ideas. I could not entertain those thoughts.

I hadn't from the day I learned what Edward truly was. Obviously, it was impossible for vampires to reproduce. They never aged. And they were dead. If I wasn't in such pain, I might have laughed at that thought. I wonder what it would be like to be stuck as a baby for all eternity.

The burning wasn't as bad now, the screaming and agony had lessened, and I could only hope the end was nearing. My heart was still beating, I could feel the blood pushing from the organ, carrying the venom to change me. I was cold and hot at the same time. I wonder if that's how Edward felt when he touched my face. Except the cold and hot I was feeling was the worst kind of pain imaginable. The thought of giving birth didn't seem so bad in comparison to the death I was facing.

But I would still rather die than give birth. That too was a compromise that did not exist.

I made a list in my head as I felt his cold hands press against my face, transferring their coolness through my skin and relieving some of the pain. A list of what I was taking from Edward. A list of the things that had first brought him to me—my scent, my warmth, my beating heart, my humanity

My thoughts were drifting again. Was it so wrong for a vampire to take the life of a human? Even if it was for food, for sustenance, for life—how was that any different from one human murdering another? At least a vampire had a good reason.

I could understand better now why Edward had justified his human feedings in the beginning. Criminals, murderers—weren't they getting what they deserved? Their just-desserts? And didn't cannibals eat people too? Why weren't they treated the way vampires were?

I knew not every vampire was good—vampires like the Cullens were rare. But shouldn't it be okay for them to cheat every so often? If feeding human blood—the thought made me gag again—was better, healthier almost—though I'm sure health isn't really a concern—then why not? As long as no one goes on a rampage—why not give to the vampires those on death row? That would solve the problem.

Stupid, afraid, ignorant government officials.

I could barely feel the pain now. All I could think about was the difference between feeding from humans and feeding from animals. I wonder which would be tastier to me.

I opened my eyes quickly, the thought foreign and strange. It didn't gag me. The thought of living off blood, however strange, didn't make me feel ill. I was still breathing, but was this a necessity, or was it just habitual? The pain didn't seem to be there anymore.

I saw Edward staring down at me, a hint of sadness hidden in his topaz eyes. It had been a while since he'd hunted, but the blood he had drained from me kept him sane. I was glad he had tasted my blood. And I was highly impressed that he had been able to tear himself from me, impressed that he hadn't killed me. Of course, either way, I was dead.

"How do you feel?"

It was a strange question to come from him. I felt fine. As fine as a dead person—or, I guess, vampire—could feel. He sounded the same to me. Would I sound the same as well?

"I'm alive." He chuckled at that, flashing me that crooked smile I loved so deeply.

"Good to hear." He pulled me up to him, cupping my chin in his hand. The scent from him was still strong to me, and I reveled in it as he eagerly kissed me.

I wondered how I smelled to him. Each vampire had a distinct scent, I wondered what mine was. More so, I wondered if it had any human trace left.

"Hungry?" he asked, jumping from the bed and pulling me with him. The jerking movements were strange, but somewhat natural.

Hungry. For blood. I blinked, realizing how hungry—rather, thirsty—I was.

"Don't let me do anything stupid," I answered, smiling at the crooked grin he gave me.

"I didn't watch you go through seventy-two hours of hell to let you do something stupid." We ran from the room, his hand tightly gripping mine. I paid no attention to my surroundings—I'm sure they paid no attention to me.

Seventy-two hours. Had it really been that long? Suddenly, it seemed as if the last seventy-two hours had been a dream. And my life before that—had it truly existed?

All that mattered now was Edward. He was a vampire. I was a vampire. We had eternity.

"I love you," I whispered to him as we continued to run, the thirst not as important as the man who held my hand.

I could almost see the grin on his face. "And so the lion lived forever with the lamb."

"What a dangerous lamb."

"What a crazy lion."