I know barely anything on the subject (which is why I ask that you don't point out all of the things wrong in this… I did some research but hey, it's summer. Also, I know for a fact that some of this isn't possible but I had to do it for the sake of making the story better! I also can't remember if there was an age restriction but there is now.) but I have always had an interest in the world wars and the era in which Edward was human so… voila!
It had been three months since America had entered the war. I had only turned seventeen the previous month and I was cursing the age restriction on who they let join the army. I knew it was my duty to fight for my country and I felt utterly useless at home everyday doing nothing.
When I had, idiotically, voiced my opinion to my parents, they, to put it bluntly, were appalled; both for different reasons, it seemed. My mother, Elizabeth, feared for my safety, which was reasonable. She wasn't afraid to state the slim chance of me surviving, perhaps in hopes of scaring me away from the idea, but she had lost her case when she brought up the issue of finding me a bride. She thought that was much more important but I simply scoffed at the idea. I had no interest in the shallow, gold digging women of Chicago, Illinois. Of course I never told my mother this, it was rude to speak of women in such a manner. But I had no… want for a companion; I was perfectly content by myself.
My father, Edward Senior—I wasn't particularly fond of us sharing the same first name. I felt that I had the crucial responsibility of living up to his expectations—on the other hand was more worried about his law firm that I would inherit at a later age. He was an infamous lawyer and wanted me to follow in his footsteps. Again, I had no interest for the boring career.
Neither my mother nor my father understood the yearning I had for going to war.
It was a warm summer, unprecedented supposedly. The only place cooler than outdoors was indoors. Having no excuse to be elsewhere, I was trapped at home. I had been stationed at my piano bench for exactly two hours and thirty-four minutes with the windows of the room thrown open in hopes of receiving any type of breeze. I was willing to do anything to keep my mother from trying to persuade me to give up on my hopes of going to war. At least this activity I enjoyed. But my mother enjoyed hearing me play piano—a rare topic my parents disagreed on—and so she planted herself in the armchair nearest to me for the entirety of the two hours and thirty… nine minutes. Of course I could feel her pleading eyes on the side of my face but I gave no sign that I did.
I concentrated for another twenty minutes, letting my fingers move atop the ivory keys in an intricate dance. I changed to a song I had written dedicated to my mother. From the corner of my eye I could see her beaming.
When I could no longer prolong the inevitable—or bear ignoring my poor mother anymore—I finally turned to her.
"Edward, I don't—" she began.
"Mother, if you're simply going to nag me on my wanting to go to war you should save your breath," I snapped before I could take it back. I flushed in shame and embarrassment.
"Edward!" she exclaimed. "Do not talk to your mother in that tone," she scolded.
"I'm sorry," I mumbled, turning my face to the piano keys in front of me.
"What has gotten into you?" she breathed. I looked at her through my lashes and I was met with my mother's pained face. "I just don't know what else to say that could convince you to forget this ridiculous idea! You're underage for goodness sake! You should have no want for going off to fight and yet here you are insisting it is your duty." She threw her hands up, dramatic as always.
"Daniel went," I said quietly. I would be surprised if a pout hadn't shown up on my lips.
"Yes but your cousin is twenty-six, bless him," she said as she emphasized his age.
"I don't understand the importance of waiting until I am eighteen. It is only a year's difference and I am needed," I tried to explain before my frustration could rise.
"You are needed here with your family," she clipped in a tone that meant that the discussion was over, though she had not budged me from my decision an inch.
"Edward!" my mother called from downstairs. "Would you please run to the market and pick up some things for me? I have a list for you."
"Yes, mother," I replied. All at once it hit me. This was my chance. I knew for a fact that they were coming around today to draft men.
I calmly walked down stairs to find my mother in the kitchen adding a last minute item to the list.
"Here you are, Edward." She handed me the folded piece of paper with a beaming smile on her face. That alone sent a jolt of guilt through me. I put the list in my pocket then wrapped my mother in an uncharacteristic hug.
I had no words to say. I probably should have expressed how much I cared for her and how I appreciated everything she did for me but I couldn't find the words. I gave her a reassuring smile—the crooked grin that I knew she loved. Another thing in common with my father—and walked out the front door the last time for what could be months, even years.
I carried no belongings with me—save for a picture of my family in my breast pocket. To say now that I had been an unprepared fool would be a sufficient definition. I had little trouble finding the building where they were drafting men. The town seemed to be plastered in posters with phrases beginning with 'Join the…' or 'I Want You…' conveying cheerful men and women.
"Name?" demanded a gruff… damn. I took this as a bad sign if I couldn't even determine the man's status in the army. What am I getting myself into? I ended my thought there, not letting myself follow down that pessimistic road.
I cleared my throat, "Edward Masen, sir." I decided to be truthful in regards to my name. It would only cause confusion for myself in the long run. I had no doubt that I could lie but could I keep up a charade for a long period of time?
"Age?" the recruiter grunted in that same tone.
"Eighteen, sir," I informed him politely and firmly, showing no reason for doubt beside the infinitesimal tightening of my jaw that I knew he missed.
He scrutinized me for moment but gestured for me to move on. I had a medical examination and before I could grasp it, I was being shipped over to the other side of the ocean.
On the way over I had plenty of time to think over everything, although my thoughts were a jumbled mess…
I was getting what I wanted. I was going to be fighting for my country. Though my heart swelled with pride, I couldn't help but feel that small feeling of fear…
What is my mother doing at this second? I hope she's not too upset—of course she will be; her only son has run off to join the war! …
I could just picture my father's face: a combination of rage, disappointment and perhaps immense worry if he could get over the fact that his rebellious, ignorant son was not there to lead the life he had wanted for him.
I tried to sleep as much as I could knowing I would be getting little sleep once I was in combat but my thoughts were too persistent.
When we arrived in France I was shocked. As we were supplied with our uniform and weapon I could hear the war off in the distance already. My surroundings weren't much better, some places complete ruins. It was a rude awakening but I knew I hadn't seen or heard anything yet.
We were given basic training and then they loaded us onto large vehicles, the backs had large flat areas for us to sit on with green canvas tarps overhead. I sat on the edge of ours, facing the road with the poor landscape that we were driving away from. I had to hold on to the pole beside me because the drive was so bumpy. The road we were driving over was filled with potholes. From transporting hundreds… thousands of soldiers to the war.
I distracted myself by looking away from the visual in front of me to the inside of the vehicle by twisting my body around. The men I shared this confined space with— I already knew I would have to get used to these tight areas— portrayed different emotions on their faces; simple, easy to read expressions. Fear. Worry. The odd courageous face. The worst were the men thinking of home. I could tell the images of their families were in their minds, using them as their driving force to get through this war so they could return to their respective families.
I realized I hadn't even looked at the man sitting beside me; I had been too caught up with the landscape—would I be that scatterbrained when it came to fighting?—My eyes focused on his gait, his entire appearance. He was the opposite of the other men in the vehicle, even his posture. While the others were sitting up straight and alert, this man was slouched, almost looking bored, if that were possible in the circumstances we were in. His blue eyes showed an emotion somewhere between confusion—as if wondering how he got there—and irritation and his untidy blonde hair exhibited his lack of care. I was flabbergasted by this man. He obviously did not want to be here in the least bit, what man did? But he wasn't even attempting to show the effort. He couldn't not be feeling any fear, could he? He was the definition of ease. Or so it appeared.
AN: If you want to picture Joe Anderson from Across the Universe, go ahead. It'll make me happy. (Character is vaguely based off him, obviously.)
He eventually noticed I was looking at him and turned to face me fully. He seemed to study me for a moment and then cracked a grin. My eyes widened, but not enough for it to be obvious. Again with the surprises! Why was he grinning at such a time? He stuck out his arm for me to shake and leaned in to me to introduce himself over the roar of the vehicle's engine.
"Hi, I'm Max," he said loudly.
"Edward," was my reply. He looked around at the other faces and then turned back to me, seeing to realize I would be the most talkative and more alive than the others for that matter. He did look in dire need of some entertainment. I assumed he was usually in the center of the party. That or off to the side poking fun at his surroundings as I could see the hint of mischief in his eyes.
"Where you from, Edward?" Max asked in a slight accent, probably from the East Coast.
"Chicago, yourself?" I asked back.
Max nodded, "Boston." He paused and then smirked. "You scared?" Gesturing vaguely around us.
I thought about it for a moment. Yes was my immediate answer but I had wanted this so there was no way I was going to show any fear or back out—though the latter definitely wasn't an option even if I wanted it to be. "No." He raised his eyebrows at this.
"Really? 'Cause I'm scared shitless."
"I wouldn't have guessed," I told him honestly. "You seem ready to do this and be done with it."
"Yeah well, I've got a girl back home and I wasn't about to let her see me pissing my pants," he said. Before I could admire his bravery for his girlfriend he continued, "She'd laugh at me for the next decade," he finished as he rolled his eyes with a slight scowl apparent on his face.
I gaped. "She has to be a little worried about you leaving, right?"
"Oh, 'course she is. That's just her way of showing she loves me; we've known each other long enough to make fun of each other. But I love her, the crazy thing," he smiled as his thoughts were off in another place, another continent. "I'm really more pissed than anything," he said after a moment where all that could be heard was the loud noise of the engine and the creaking parts of the vehicle as we were jostled around by the potholes. "This isn't exactly what I wanted to be known for but hey, we've all got to serve our country," he mocked with an eye roll.
Before I could retort, the vehicle came to a sudden stop and we all lurched forward, leaving Max and I sprawled out on the wooden planks—serving as a trunk for us to sit on of sorts— and most of the other men who weren't prepared.
"Jesus! Learn to drive!" Max said in a rude, loud voice while I held back a grin at his antics. I could already tell I liked him, we'd get along fine; he was friendly enough and he was definitely amusing. The other soldiers, however, looked at him in disgust or disbelief, muttering profanities in hushed tones. Though as much as he was already growing on me, I had to wonder about his mental state. Did he have any self-preservation? He hadn't even made it into the trenches yet and he was already practically picking a fight.
The two doors on the cab closed with a slam and heavy feet stomped to the back of the vehicle. The flaps of the tarp swung back to reveal two soldiers obviously with a higher status with near grim expressions on their faces. My guess was that they had been to the trenches and they knew what we were about to walk into.
It had been seven days—a full week if I had been counting correctly—since I started in the trenches. So far, it had not been that bad only because I was stationed in one of the trenches farthest away from the action. This comforted and annoyed me at the same time. I had come here solely for the purpose of fighting for my country and I hadn't done much of any of that yet. But on the other spectrum of the scale I felt the familiarity of safety that I was all too used to.
Max, I had learned, actually wanted to fight. Although he hadn't wanted to be there in the first place, he soon found himself yearning to get to the front of things and "do some damage" as he said. It was getting to a point where he was growing annoyingly antsy.
"God, I am so bored," Max moaned in that familiar, unique accent I had grown used to. He paced in front of where I was sitting to try to keep himself occupied but it was failing miserably.
"I know, you've said that for the past," I paused to think back, "three days… at least," I smirked but my entire face turned into a grimace as I kicked a rat away from me. I was still getting used to our roommates.
"You can't even see a god damn thing and that's saying something. I mean, what's the point of even having this trench then, huh?" he rambled as he climbed the ladder of the dug out. His head popped over the top, looking around. "Completely unnecessary," he mumbled.
"Max!" I exclaimed at his carelessness.
"Relax, Edward, the closest thing to danger we've got here are the rats threatening to eat all of our food until we die of starvation," he said, kicking away a rat with a much harder force than when I had sent one away.
"You know, for someone who hated the thought of fighting in the war, you sure are eager to do just that," I replied flatly. I had already pointed this out a number of times but it was basically a routine at this point.
"Yeah well, if I'm stuck here I might as well get to kill somebody," he stated bluntly to which I just rolled my eyes.
"Look," I started as I struggled to get up. Not only was the thickening mud keeping me down but I had also accidentally cut my leg—by slipping in the aforementioned mud with a knife in my hand. I wasn't about to complain about either thing. The weather seemed to be aware of what was happening down on the ground and was mimicking the atmosphere. Grey, almost black clouds continuously hung in the sky while it rained every other day. "They're going to be rotating us soon. We'll be closer to the front then."
"And how do you know that?" Max asked, raising a blond eyebrow.
"I just do," I replied simply. I was confident in this prediction. They had to relieve the men up front at some point and when that time came it'd be our turn. Max, however, was not so easily persuaded and looked at me with an expressionless face.
"Why am I here?" he asked no one in particular as he slumped down in the mud. I sat back down as well, making myself comfortable. I was starting to love this guy like a brother but I also learned that he loved to rant. Although most of the time it was highly comical and entertaining, this particular topic of complaint was getting tiresome.
"Because you had no say in the matter but you are happy to be serving your country anyway?" I tried monotonously.
"Nice try, Edward… I'm starting to think running to Canada wouldn't have been such a bad idea…" Max mused, deep in thought, as he rubbed his jaw where a scruffy beard was growing not unlike my own.
"Are you saying that if you didn't have a girl waiting for you back home or even… are you saying you would never join the army voluntarily if things had been that way?" I inquired. I had never asked this question before but since I had this great want to be in the army I still couldn't wrap my mind around someone—for example, Max—who was repulsed by the idea.
He scoffed, "No way in hell. But you must know what I mean; would you, honestly?"
I hesitated. "Yes…?" Max noticed my hesitation.
"There's something you're not telling me." I let out a gust of air and looked at him for a moment, trying to gauge what his reaction would be. Not good, is what I picked up on.
"I did join voluntarily. I want to be here, I actually want to fight in this war. I believe it's my purpose so… I ran away and here I am."
"Jesus…" Max breathed and then his eyes widened, "What do you mean you ran away? If it was your choice to come here than why would you have the need to run from home?"
I closed my eyes, scolding myself for being careless with my words. "I'm technically not supposed to be here… in the army. I'm underage," I added as I opened my eyes and saw Max's confused look. That look quickly turned to anger.
"What?! You don't even have to be here? Are you fucking crazy?! You're an idiot, I can't believe this," he said as he laughed a sort of hysterical laugh.
"I needed to do this," I stated.
"No, what you need is a good smack upside the head… for starters, at least. I'd get up myself and do it but I'm stuck in this goddamn mud. Jesus, I can't believe that you're here and what are you, seventeen?" I nodded my head. "And where you're from it was voluntary. That's messed up. I mean, here I am, nineteen and… in Boston it was basically join the army or die and…" he trailed off not having anymore words to show his frustration. He looked over at me, glared for a second and then let out a heavy sigh. "You're an idiot, you know that, Cullen?"
"So I've been told."
"This is it, Edward," Max said excitedly, jumping a bit in place. No one probably should have been as excited as Max was to move closer to the battle but as it was, Max was utterly beside himself in anticipation. "No more sitting around at the back of things like a bunch of pansies… no offense," he added to the surrounding soldiers who had overheard his declaration. I tried to refrain from expressing my anxieties and I was doing a fairly good job of it. Like they had been since I arrived, my emotions were a jumbled mix.
Excited to fight, terrified to die.
Max and I had a rude awakening not ten minutes into the fight. Our backs were already aching from hunching over but that was the least of our worries. Bits of debris from the mud walls and sandbags were constantly flying at us while explosions from shells deafened our eardrums. The threat that we could be killed at any point quickly taught us to be constantly aware of our surroundings.
My gun became an extension of my hand, it seemed, for it was always found there. The enemy was to far away to tell but the knowledge that I had ended a man's life unnerved me, though the thought would always quickly follow with my mantra. I'm fighting for my country.
By the third day that I was up at the front of the trenches I couldn't help but notice that it was becoming unbearable to walk and I wasn't the only one to pick up on it. In the midst of the fight Max looked over to see me limping down the dug out towards him and I wasn't in the greatest condition.
"Edward!" Max yelled over the explosions. "You don't look good."
"I'm fine," I remember mumbling. My head felt extremely light headed and the battle seemed to slow down, all the while my leg throbbed with excruciating pain. My eyes unfocused as Max became a blur. The last thing I remembered hearing was Max roaring over the noise for a medic.
I woke up to the feeling of something moist on my forehead. My paranoia after spending a couple of weeks in the trenches kicked in and my eyes snapped open to find the source of the dampness on my forehead. After hearing a quiet gasp my eyes focused to my left on a pair of wide, dark golden eyes.
The owner of the brilliant orbs was a pretty—no, beautiful—girl who looked to be as young as I was.
"Where am I?" I asked rather loudly and suddenly, trying to sit up but ending up crying out as a jolt of pain soared to my left thigh. After giving her head a small shake, as if to clear it, she answered.
"Hush," she murmured quietly, pressing a small hand to my chest urging me to lie back down. "You're in the infirmary," she supplied the answer to my question as she gestured around the long room where other soldiers in terrible conditions were occupying cots. She returned a—what I then realized had been touching my forehead—washcloth to my forehead. "And you're running a bit of a fever," she stated quietly, her eyebrows scrunching.
I studied her a moment longer, noticing the dark sheen of her mahogany hair and her perfectly symmetrical face. But what kept pulling me back were here golden eyes; never had I seen such a colour, so full of expression and intellect as she concentrated on tending to my minor injuries along my arms and face.
"Why am I here?" I asked, immensely quieter than before. She didn't seem to want to give up much information other than my location. Her captivating eyes moved back to mine and her brows scrunched up once again in the way that I was beginning to like.
"You don't remember?" she inquired curiously. My own eyebrows knitted together as I tried to think back to the last… day, was it? How long had I been out? "Can you tell me your name?"
"Edward," I told her instantly, "Edward Masen."
She nodded, as if reassured by this. "Well Edward, a cut on you leg," she began, grazing the wound on the thigh that I had felt the pain, "became infected while you were in the trenches." Her eyes softened further at these words. "But I've cleaned it up and it should be fine; you're lucky," she finished, gracing me with a small smile.
"How long will I be here?" All I seemed to be able to do was ask questions.
"A couple of days I would think."
"And then I'll be able to return to the trenches?"
She smiled a sad smile. "Yes," was her brief answer. "Are you hungry at all?" My stomach growling was enough of an answer for her. "I'll be back with some soup," she said, patting my hand as she rose to her feet. My hand jerked at the contact, an unusual but pleasant electric current flowing between our hands. She made no signs of feeling it, as she quickly left the room, but I sure as hell could.
She—I realized I hadn't learned her name yet—returned in a surprisingly short amount of time with a tray carrying a steaming bowl of soup and a glass of water.
"Thank you…" I hedged as I left the sentence open.
"Oh, I'm sorry, how rude of me. I'm Bella," she told me in a musical voice, smiling sheepishly. I replied with a small grin, knowing that was the perfect name for her.
I ate the watery soup as I carefully watched her tend to other men all the while with a caring and kind look in those unique eyes. I don't know what it was but she was captivating me, sucking me in; what was worse: she didn't even realize she was doing it.
My appetite was extinguished when the doors to the room burst open to show two men rushing in carrying a stretcher. What was laid upon the makeshift bed sent my stomach into a tumbling frenzy as I tried to keep the soup I had just consumed down. I had seen horrifying sights in the trenches but this had to be one of the more gut-wrenching ones. It was a wonder they even bothered, however awful that sounds. A body vaguely resembling a man was placed maybe five cots down from me as nurses rushed to try and help the wounded soldier, though he was too far gone. Even after only being on the mattress for two minutes, the sheets were already drenched in blood.
It didn't slip past me that Bella remained a distance away from the scene. As if sensing my eyes on her, she turned to me and walked over to my side. Bella sat on the small stool beside me.
"I hate seeing them like that," she murmured.
"There isn't anything you can do," I consoled. Her eyes traced my face whilst wearing a serious expression before giving a small nod.
"I-I need to change your bandages," she informed me, looking at me again as if asking for permission to which I inclined my head. With slight hesitation she rolled my pant leg up until the majority of my thigh was bare. I flushed, not only at my current situation but also at the thought of who had dressed me. Had it been Bella?
After she peeled away the bandage I daringly looked down at my injury and stiffened—only causing me more pain. I averted my eyes to the ceiling.
"It looks a lot better than it did when you first arrived if that means anything," Bella offered in a rush. I looked to her in confusion to find her lips pressed in a thin line until my wound was once again bandaged and she let out a breath.
I stole another glance over to the frenzied scene to find it had quieted and the nurses were shaking their heads sadly. I then realized a doctor was amongst the women as he pulled a sheet completely over the body; I could see he was torn and guilt ridden, sorry that he could do no more.
"What made you want to be a nurse?" I asked suddenly, the need to get my mind off of the thought of the dead soldier—who had a family, a life back home—overwhelming me.
She hesitated, thinking her answer out. "The same reason you probably joined the army, no? I want to serve my country's people, help them," she said simply. "I owe it to them," she mumbled as her darkened eyes flitted to the area where the motionless body was still laying and the nurses were talking quietly while the blond doctor was picking up unused bandages, still with the brooding face. At Bella's words he brought his head up to look directly at her. Her face took on sadness and… self hate? I knew I was talented at reading people's facial expressions—it came in handy—but I had a hard time with Bella which is why I was completely confused in why that latter emotion would be found on her beautiful face. Nothing short of happiness should ever be found there, I found myself declaring.
"Who is that?" I asked.
She was brought out of her, what I could only assume, depressing thoughts to look back at me. "Doctor Carlisle Cullen. My… father," she said, suppressing a smile as if sharing a joke with herself.
This girl was confusing me more and more but I found myself wanting to know… everything about her. And it scared me.
Briefly looking back to the doctor, I could see resemblances. Though they had different coloured hair, they shared the same eye colour—although Dr. Cullen's were a bit brighter—and they both had pale skin, almost white.
My eyes involuntarily drooped at that moment and I struggled to keep them open to prolong my time with Bella.
"You should sleep," she said quietly. Bella brushed her hand to my forehead and I jumped slightly at the contact. I hadn't noticed up until then how cold her skin was and it felt amazing against my hot skin. "Your fever has gone down considerably. Just your leg now and then you should be able to depart," she said, trying to sound indifferent; this I could read.
"To the trenches," I pressed, making sure.
"Yes," was her familiar reply, her mouth in that tight, thin line though this time it was out of frustration.
"You don't like what's going on," I stated, knowing she'd know what I was talking about.
"No. Thousands of men are dying, it just seems…" she trailed off, her brow furrowing. By now Dr. Cullen and the majority of the nurses had left the room while the other soldiers slept; it was nighttime after all. "I don't know. In some way I know the war is the only way that will come close to solving this problem but I still hate it. And to think that some men are running off the first second they get to join when they have no idea what they're leaving behind. They are doing what is right but… you must know, you had to leave your loved ones behind… I don't know what I'd do if a close family member or," she laughed shortly, "the one I loved went to fight while I sat at home… living each day without the knowledge of if that person was alive or not."
I swallowed noticeably, the guilt at her words struck me deeper than Max's ever could. All it had taken were a few sentences by this… I was beginning to think of her as an angel… and I was all of the sudden doubting my reasoning for joining the war. The affect she had on me was unnerving, but she had an affect nonetheless. Which is why I decided to tell her.
"I had a choice," I muttered, ashamed. "I'm only seventeen." At this her eyes widened. "I had it in my head that I needed to join. I'll still fight, I'm not cowering away; they do need all the men they can get. But I realize that it was stupid of me to run away to join. Who knows how long this war will go on for; I could have still gotten the chance even if I had waited. God, my poor mother," I broke off, trying inconspicuously to wipe away the moisture forming at the corner of my eyes.
Bella looked at me with a hint of disappointment until she shifted her gaze to the small table holding my tray of abandoned soup. She gently picked up something that I hadn't noticed before and looked at it for a moment as I realized that it was a picture. "Your parents?" she asked as she held the picture in front of me. I nodded numbly, not even needing to look at the two faces. "I can see where you get your good looks from," she said as she barely skimmed the picture with her index finger.
What she said caught up to her and a curtain of hair appeared, hiding her face from me. I frowned, not liking this. With a tentative hand, I moved her soft hair behind her ear. I worked very hard to keep my face a calm mask while internally I was rejoicing at her compliment, however small.
"Sleep now," she said abruptly, rising from the stool with the tray. I was asleep before she could finish the order.
Over the next two days I practiced walking, gradually gaining more stability on my sore leg. The entire ordeal was made harder as Bella had helped me walk when I first began trying. It was embarrassing; just standing close to her had me flustered, with her intoxicatingly sweet scent and comforting embrace and I was annoyed with myself that I could act this… juvenilely over someone I hardly knew.
That wasn't entirely true after spending a couple of days with her, however. As Bella took care of me—she seemed to spend special attention to me which I wasn't complaining about—we would talk about meaningless subjects to the more serious ones, though we mostly talked about myself which I didn't like. I wanted to learn more about her but when I ever tried to question her she would skirt away from the topic, only telling me her date of birth—though she didn't tell me how old she was—and that she made the decision of coming with her father to help in the war.
"How are you today, Edward?" Bella said brightly, walking to my side. Another thing I noticed with her; no matter what, she tried to be as friendly and cheerful in hopes of bringing a smile to her patients' faces.
"I'm fine, thank you. My leg feels much better, I think I'll be able to leave tomorrow," I said optimistically as I saw Bella's face fall a fraction. Her face pulled up into that familiar serene expression and walked closer to my side.
"Well I guess I'll be the judge of that," she smirked. She routinely pulled my pant leg up—I was used to it by now that I was only fractionally embarrassed by the situation—to look at my thigh closer. "All right, let's see how well you're walking," Bella said as she helped me stand, though I hardly needed it at this point.
I walked to the closed doors of the room with little trouble and spun around for show, giving her my own smirk with raised eyebrows. She gave a nod of approval, watching me with appraising eyes, as I flung myself back onto the cot.
"Edward, I…" she hesitated.
"Yes?" I inquired, sitting up straighter.
"I think you should write to your parents. Based on what you've told me I'm sure your mother is beside herself in worry, not to mention your father would be as well. I think you should confirm to them you're alive and well," she said, genuinely caring.
I gave a small nod. "You're right," I sighed. "I thought of it as well but I have been putting it off, not knowing what to say…"
Bella's face lit up, "I'll go retrieve some paper and a pen for you." And with that she danced off in search of the items, me all the while probably wearing a ridiculous grin feeling the happiness Bella was evoking.
My eyes landed on Dr. Cullen who was gazing at the doors that Bella had just vanished through until he shifted that gaze to me where his eyebrows raised with a seemingly knowing look on his face. I could feel my cheeks brighten under his stare and looked away quickly.
She returned quickly and left me just as fast so I could write. The only problem was that I had no idea what I wanted to write. I decided simplicity was best in this case. As long as they knew I was alive I was sure that they'd be happy with what I sent them.
I'm sorry. I needed to do this and serve my country. I hope you can somehow understand that. But I am safe and alive. Please, I ask that you not worry about me too much. I have a strong feeling that I won't be fighting much longer and that everything will turn out as it is meant to be. Father, I know you must be disappointed in me and I only hope that you can one day see me as a man. Maybe not the man you hoped I would be but a man nonetheless. And mother, again, please don't worry for me. I miss and love you both,
With a heavy sigh I finished. I hoped it would convey my reasoning.
The next day I was up and ready to head back to the trenches. A thought reached me then, as if delayed over the past number of days: How is Max? My stomach flipped at the idea of something happening to him and I prayed that he was alive and hoped for the slight chance that I would be able to see him again—perhaps in the trenches. I had missed my friend.
"Goodbye, Edward," Bella whispered. She looked truly sad that I was leaving; I'm not going to lie, it sent a thrill through me.
"'Bye, Bella," I said quietly in reply. She hesitantly hugged me, applying little pressure to me. We both pulled away and I debated on an action. I swiftly leaned in to kiss her cheek. Though the end result didn't go as planned. Bella, unaware of what I was doing, moved her head at the wrong moment and I caught the corner of her mouth. Neither Bella nor I were breathing as I slowly pulled my lips away, both shocked at what happened.
"Was that okay?" I murmured nervously. Bella's hair fell in front of her face. I had learned that this was a way of hiding her embarrassment but this time I could see a small smile playing across her lips.
"Yes," she whispered. She brought her face up to look at me again as she bit her lip. "Please be safe, Edward," Bella said louder, her face now contorted in worry.
I took her hand in mine and I waited until she was looking me in the eyes again. "I'll be fine," I said reassuringly. She nodded her head absentmindedly then squeezed my hand.
At that moment I realized that I probably wouldn't be seeing her again… ever. I tried not to let it show on my face. I gave her a lopsided grin and then placed a proper kiss on her cheek.
"'Bye, Bella," I said again before exiting the small hospital.
Once again it seemed liked I was just dropped into the trenches. That wasn't actually the case but my mind was racing so quickly it wasn't able to register anything until I heard the all-familiar shell explosions and everything seemed to whoosh back to normal speed.
I was in the front trench and—it could have been a trick of my mind but—it seemed that the trench was closer to the enemy's. Before I was forced to leave, I had been farther back and I hadn't known if I was killing anyone when I would shoot but now… I thought that I would feel much more remorse than what I was feeling. In a way I did feel a tinge of guilt but I quickly got it through my head that it was what I was supposed to and had to do for our country to win.
I learned that I was quite quick in the dugouts. I was surprised I was still standing after two days at the front trench but I was able to fire and protect myself at the same time easily.
Finally, after what felt like a week, I heard that recognizable yell. I whipped around—careful to stay low to the ground—and saw him maybe twenty feet along the line.
"Max!" He turned to the sound of his name. I grinned as I noticed that, although he was naturally careless, he knew to duck down. Max squinted at me for a moment until recognition clicked and he jogged over—it could have been a run but it's hard to full out sprint when you're in a crouch. Not to mention the ankle deep mud we were standing in.
"Edward! What the hell are you doing here?" Max yelled. I gave him a confused look. "I thought you'd milk the hurt excuse and be back in Chicago by now."
I rolled my eyes. "I'm not backing out now."
"'Course you're not," he grinned and that was it. Reunion over.
I was exhausted. I had to be getting relief soon. They couldn't let us fight constantly. I had no sense of time other than where the sun was in the sky—though the sun was rarely present. I did not know what day it was or even what month it was.
I had no trouble with my leg after my return. Bella mended me well—I felt a stab to my chest every time I thought of her. And that occurred at least once a day. I knew that when I was able to leave that I would go searching for. I made a promise with myself to do that.
The war was blazing on, showing little signs of stopping according to news from other positions across the countries. We had made little progress lately in gaining territory and I knew that it was in talks that any day we would be trying something to change that; we were getting close to finishing this and I was growing anxious to get to it.
That something happened not long after I pondered that very thought. We were going over the top. I wasn't keen on the idea but it had to be done if we had any chance of gaining even a yard of ground.
I knew we already had the upper hand against our enemy. We were breaking them day-by-day. And with this final push I was confident this battle would finally be over.
The call was made to get ready by the ladders and I felt Max clap a hand on my shoulder to my right. I looked over to see him grinning faintly. I knew that he was having the same thoughts as I was: It won't be long. We had to be the two stupidest men fighting in the war. Hell, we were just two naïve, foolish teenagers.
"See you on the other side," Max said, mock saluting me.
And just like that, it happened. It was too quick. It seemed like the battle was silenced as we charged over the top.
He didn't make it far—which he would have been pissed about—and it didn't register in my mind that he was dead. He fell like a rag doll and made no signs of getting up. I had looked back for one second, enough time to see it happen.
"Oh my God," I breathed as my face paled.
In one non-thought out move I found myself turning 180 degrees back to Max.
I crawled through the mud to him and shook him, yelling his name frantically. What else was I able to do? I found myself asking that very question, along with: Why the hell did I turn around?! I was a sitting duck; almost worse than if I had kept going.
I tried dragging him back to the trench but it was futile. Max was gone.
Not until I realized this did I also realize a stinging in my abdomen that was gradually building to a stabbing sensation. I had been shot. And not just once.
I knew I had to leave Max and I quickly accepted that—you couldn't let your emotions get to you in these situations—as I felt the pain become insufferable. I dragged myself as far as I could, trying to get back to the safety of the trench but I eventually gave out due to the pain and exhaustion.
Basic instinct had me applying pressure to my abdomen but it seemed like I had been hit everywhere. I was losing consciousness but I could hear the muffled cheers in the background.
Had we won?
The only thought that flashed through my mind at that point was a selfish one: If this battle was over, at least I'd have a better chance of getting to the hospital…
…I knew I was being moved. I was slipping in and out of consciousness. Relief flooded me at the knowledge of this but not for long. The pain I was feeling was unbearable and seemingly worsening by the minute.
I was shocked when I felt that familiar ice-cold sensation against my skin.
"Bella?" I mumbled.
I registered a gasping sound as she recognized who I was. I tried to speak—of what, I didn't know—but all that came out was a gurgling noise. Blood. A sob was heard.
With much effort, I opened my heavy eyelids to see Bella standing over me. My heart wrenched as I saw her wild eyes scanning over me. Apparently I looked worse for ware.
"I-I don't…" she stuttered. "Carlisle!" she called. My eyes stayed open long enough to see the man burst in looking between Bella and I with complete confusion etched on his face until I unwillingly closed my eyes. "Carlisle please, you have to save him!" Bella was sobbing again.
"I'll do the best I can, Bella. Let's get him moved, it's extremely crowded in here," he said calmly. Bella's hand slid into mine and some of the pain subsided.
If I hadn't heard Dr. Cullen say it out loud I wouldn't have known I was being wheeled elsewhere, I was so out of it.
Carlisle set to work and Bella helped when she could all the while as she told me sweet reassurances. The pain kept rolling through me as the minutes and possibly even hours ticked by. It didn't feel like it was letting up.
"Bella…" Carlisle started hesitantly sometime later. I had felt the leave of his cold hands leave me stomach where they had been working to save me and I wondered… was he giving up?
"No," Bella whispered. She had been quiet for sometime or I hadn't been awake, I wasn't sure. "Please Carlisle. Keep trying, please," she begged quietly but urgently.
"The wounds are too deep and it's not reparable… there's nothing I can do… unless…" he trailed off.
"No," Bella said louder and firmly. I opened my eyes to see Bella and Carlisle communicating silently with their eyes. "I can't… he shouldn't…" Bella finally spluttered.
I was sent into a fit of coughs, which alerted the two to my presence once again. The metallic taste was still in my mouth as I spit it out between coughs.
"You know as well as I do that that isn't a good sign," Carlisle muttered. Bella stared at me with a horrific expression on her face and I held her gaze as best as I could. "Bella," Carlisle retrieved her attention again. "He won't last much longer. You need to make a decision. You love him; it shouldn't be too hard."
Bella's jaw dropped at his words as she turned to me as if finally realizing something. Did she love me? I already knew that I loved her. I think I subconsciously realized that sometime during my stay at the hospital when she took care of me.
"He shouldn't have to be subjected to this life…" she whispered the words so quietly that I was sure I wasn't supposed to hear them. Bella seemed to be having an internal fight. About what, I had no idea. I had no room to feel confusion as my pain kicked into a new level of agony. I let out a loud groan at this.
"Bella…" Carlisle warned and urged at the same time. She finally looked to him, having apparently made her decision. She nodded once before turning back to me.
"Edward," Bella started as she crouched down beside me. "Edward, look at me." Her hand came to stroke my cheek as I fought to keep my eyes open. I involuntarily let out a whimper as I tried to suppress the cry of pain I wanted to voice. "If you had the chance, Edward, to live… would you take it? No matter the consequences?" she asked quickly.
My eyebrows furrowed as my brain tried to take in this question. Of course I would; was it even necessary to ask? If it meant being able to live… and possibly having the chance to stay with Bella, why wouldn't I take it? "Yes." I put so much emphasis on that one word. It was crucial. And apparently it was what Bella had wanted to hear, though her words told me otherwise.
"I'm sorry," she whispered. She leaned in as if to kiss me until her icy lips grazed my neck. A sharp prick pierced my skin but it had nothing on the pain I was still feeling in my abdomen.
And then that pain was washed away to be replaced with an entirely new feeling of agony. Fire coursed through my system as if it were my own blood. I let out what could only have been a scream as the fire engulfed me, burning the skin off my bones. I looked to Bella in confusion. What is going on?
She gave me a weak, sad smile. "I love you," she whispered in my ear and that was enough for me. I wanted to say it back but the fire was too overwhelming. Nothing would leave my mouth except groans and screams.
I was aware of Bella's grip on my hand, the only reassurance that I was indeed still alive. That and her sweet voice were the only two things giving me any hope as I gave in to the never-ending fire devouring me.
AN: …well then. Not entirely sure why I wrote this but I hope you liked it just a little bit. It's SUPER long, I know but I felt like it should just be one long… story thing. Forgive me for the lack of interesting story title, by the way. Kudos to anyone who can find the Beatles song title thrown in there… I listened to a lot of Beatles while writing this oddly enough. Now that this is out of my system I can move on to some stories I want to write. I know I said I would have something posted shortly after MBH was finished but I didn't take into account my not being able to go on the computer as often… apparently, I spend too much time on the computer. What is up with that? Anyway, I will try to get a chapter of a story posted soon, as soon as I decide which one I'm doing (yes, I have at least three ideas as of right now that I want to do. They're all human so if you hate that… well that sucks).