DC: I don't own it
Thanks to my reviewers
Oriyon wasn't good at lying. His sister could insist that he was keeping a secret but he knew what he was hearing.
"Just don't tell daddy okay," Layla begged as they walked out of the hospital.
"Layla I'm going to tell dad that you were taken to the hospital."
"Ori I just tripped and hit my head! I'm fine!"
"You tripped because you weren't being careful."
Layla folded her arms. Her walking stick clattered to the ground and she stopped walking. Oriyon sighed and picked it up. He grabbed her hand and made her hold it.
"Listen, Layla, you know mom and dad tell you to do these things to keep you safe."
"I'm blind, Ori, not stupid," Layla snapped. Oriyon sighed and they went to his car.
Layla Cullen had tripped on a crack in the sidewalk just like anybody else would. While she wasn't the only one to have tripped and got a harmless bump, she was the only blind student to trip and fall. The junior high she attended was under heat for endangering handicapped students. By the time Edward got off work and got home the rumors of his daughter's injuries grew to that she needed stitches and nearly died.
"Layla! Layla!" Edward called running in. He instantly took his daughter's head in his hands and checked for the severe injury. He sighed in relief when he saw the bump was just that, a bump.
"If I had known you were freaking out like this I would have called you," Bella said. "I'm putting out a statement today that we aren't holding the school responsible but our own clumsy angel."
"You know that isn't going to make a difference," Layla grumbled. She stood up and heard her parents get edgy. "I'm just getting my book okay!"
"Don't worry sweetheart I got it," Edward said.
"Of course you do," she muttered. "That's the wrong one by the way."
Edward put the book back on the end table and got the other one she was reading from the other table. Layla, meanwhile, got the book she wanted from her bag.
"Oh hey look I made it to my bag without using a walking stick! Quick alert the media!"
"Sarcasm will get you nowhere dear,"
"I don't know if you guys even notice, but I'm actually good at being blind! I've spent eleven years moving around on my own without sight. You just need to stop treating me like I'm some glass bubble!"
"It's because you're the miracle baby," Oriyon said casually from the arm chair.
"It isn't because she was a miracle baby," Bella told him, "Layla we just worry about you."
"Yeah well worry about Ori for once! I'm pretty sure he's still crazy."
Oriyon shrugged. "I have my moments. Nice try sweetie."
"Hey guys," Mina said as she came in. Carlisle ran from her side and did his hug rounds. "Heard about your spill Layla. How do you feel?"
"My head hurts a bit but the scrapes on my hands hurt worse."
"How was work?" Oriyon asked.
"I actually have great news!"
"I was put on the spring line!" Mina cried happily. "I'm the youngest on the team!"
"Congratulations!" Oriyon said happily. He gave her a hug and a kiss. "We should celebrate."
"I already called mom and she's setting it up. We have reservations at Yellow Rose at seven."
Edward sighed, "don't you just love how Alice assumes we aren't doing anything."
"Well you never do," Oriyon shrugged. Edward pushed him lightly and Oriyon laughed.
Oriyon would do anything for his baby sister, legal or not. She just had to give him a sweet pleading look. Much like their mother, Layla had a sweet doe eyed look that she used when she wanted something. Oriyon knew that Edward was also weak against that look. But Oriyon wouldn't do anything to hurt his sister, and that was why he was in sticky situation.
Layla wanted surgery that she knew Edward and Bella would flat out deny. She wanted new eyes. It was a new surgery and the risks were on the high side. While she probably wouldn't die, there was still the chance and it was that chance that would seal the deal for her parents. So she needed backup.
"Ori please! You know this is right for me!"
"Lay, honey, I love you to death but I'm not going to help you on this one. I want to but it's too dangerous."
"Come on Ori!" Layla begged, grabbing his hand.
"I'll resort to whining and a tantrum!"
"Lord my son is more mature than you are," he sighed. Just then Carlisle came home.
"Hi Layla!" Carlisle said cheerfully as always.
"Hey Carly," Layla sighed. She hugged her nephew and felt a bit better. The kid radiated happiness. "Oriyon won't help me."
"Aw dad why?" Carlisle asked. Oriyon groaned. His blonde haired hazel eyed angel was looking up at him with the sweet innocence of a ten-year-old boy. "It can help her see."
Oriyon sighed. He should have known his son knew about this.
"Before you say I automatically take her side..."
"Totally do," Oriyon muttered.
"I was the one that told her about the surgery and got the pamphlets."
That figured. Carlisle was fascinated by the human body and wanted to be a doctor when he grew up. He wanted to be a neurologist and a brain surgeon. Oriyon was just surprised he even knew what neurology meant.
"Ori please help me."
"I'm sorry Layla, I can't," Oriyon sighed, "I love you but I can't."
"So why isn't Carly talking to you?" Mina asked as they got into bed.
"Layla wants to get surgery on her eyes and he's all supportive and I'm not."
"It is risky," Mina sighed. "But what does she have to lose?"
"Yeah. Anyway he found the information for her and they both are on board. You know how close they are."
Mina nodded and grabbed her sketch book. "You know she'll probably get it right?"
Oriyon sighed and nodded. Edward's resolve would be weakened by her begging, especially if she somehow convinced their mother to help. Oriyon sunk into his pillows. He looked over at Mina's drawings.
"What in the world is that."
"The beginnings of a summer dress," Mina said, "it's just the outline."
"Looks like a garbage bag," he said with a slight grin. He loved to tease her.
"That's just because you can't draw your way out of one," Mina sighed with the same smile. "And I know what you're doing."
She tossed her sketch book aside and kissed him. "You always get what you want."
Oriyon grinned. "I love getting what I want."
When Edward came down for breakfast there were pamphlets waiting for him. That was rarely a good way to start the day as the pamphlets never said anything about a romantic getaway or something like that.
"What's that about?" Bella asked as she saw them.
"Looks like Layla's work," Edward sighed as he picked one up. "I'm thinking she wants an eye operation."
Bella grabbed one of the pamphlets and looked it over. "Risk factors are minimal. No."
"People have died in this surgery. Nope."
"Actually grandma the most famous death from that particular surgery was due to complications unrelated to the actual surgery but rather the mishandling in post-op."
Bella jumped when she heard her grandson's voice and then promptly cursed Oriyon for doing such a good job on the boy's education. No ten-year-old should know that many big words in her opinion. Especially when they could be used against her.
"Carly, hi," Bella said cheerfully. "Ori and Mina here?"
"Yeah they're celebrating mom's new job. Yuck."
Edward smiled and came up to Bella. He pulled her close. "Are they celebrating like this?" he asked, kissing her.
"Eew! Eew! Eew!"
"What's so eew?" Oriyon asked as he walked in. He saw his parents kissing and cringed a bit. "Guys aren't you a bit old for that?"
"You're never too old to show your wife you love her," Edward said, swaying a little with Bella in his arms. She smiled at him. She nuzzled him lovingly and smiled knowing her son and grandson were flinching in horror.
"Dad can you get me the new doctor game?" Carlisle asked, changing the subject. "Y'know the one where you can do operations and stuff."
"You mean the one that has an M rating for lots of blood?"
"Yeah...that one..." Carlisle mumbled, his ears turning pink. "But dad it isn't violent blood. It's surgery blood. The saving people kind."
"And you're ten."
"And I'm smarter than a lot of teenagers."
"Oh sweetie, I used that one on mom when I was your age," Oriyon said. Bella smiled at the memory.
"And she said yes?"
"Oh hell no. But at least now I understand why!"
Oriyon ruffled his son's hair. He reached down and lifted up his son. Carlisle was on the small side. He inherited Alice's height and his father's slight frame. He was definitely a daddy's boy. Mina thought it was adorable. Even if the little boy was pouting. Oriyon grinned and kissed the lip that was poking out.
Oriyon laughed and smothered his son with loving kisses. Mina laughed and helped him out. Carlisle was crying out in protest while his grandparents just laughed. When they finished torturing their son, Mina turned to her in laws.
"So what do you guys think about Layla's surgery?" Mina asked as she went with Bella to fix Carlisle a snack.
"I don't like the risks," Edward said.
"Dad I've been thinking about this. I don't know about the surgery but there has to be other options. I mean procedures from your time."
"There are some therapies but Layla isn't mostly blind. She is completely blind. Nothing about her eyes work."
Oriyon sighed and sat down.
"I don't want my baby girl hurt even worse," Bella said, chopping celery. She gave a stick to her grandson and he started chewing it instantly.
"How can I get any worse? I mean I already can't see and I already have my family talking about me like I'm just some little kid."
Edward sighed and turned to his daughter. He held her shoulders gently and kissed her forehead. "Layla we almost lost you before you were even born. If there is even a chance that something preventable could take you from us...well I won't let it happen. Oh and you are a kid. You're twelve."
"Dad I'm old enough to make my own choices."
"You're twelve," Edward repeated stiffly.
"Daddy I don't even know what you and mom look like! I don't even have a guess because I have never seen anything! I don't know what color red is! You tell me that my brother has hazel eyes and I don't know what you're saying! When I do eventually get married I want to know what my husband looks like!"
"Married?! Honey you're trying to grow up to fast!" Edward cried.
It went eerily quiet.
"I can only imagine what my hands look like. I can feel them until the cows come home but I'll never know what I'm feeling! Dad you know the odds of me dying are very slim. I know you're scared. I'm scared too. But I don't want to be in the dark for the rest of my life when I know that I can see."
Edward looked back at Bella who looked ready to cry. She looked at her husband strangely. Edward didn't know if she wanted to persuade him or if she was trying to resist caving. He thought about when Bella was pregnant and how fragile Layla was in the womb. She was much more durable out of the womb. She was strong willed and brave. He remembered when she learned how to walk and how they were to afraid to let her go upstairs. He wanted to blame the paranoia on Bella but he had it too. He remembered sitting in the living room watching Layla take her first steps while her nephew was learning to crawl beside her. Carlisle didn't crawl into the coffee table like his aunt had just a while before him. Layla walked into the wall when he took his eyes off of her for a moment.
While Edward was lost in thought Oriyon pulled his son and Mina out of the room and Bella followed.
"Daddy can we go for a walk?"
Edward nodded and they went outside. Edward held her arm and listened to her walk. He smiled as he remembered the first time Layla walked with her cane on her own. They called it her magic wand because it helped her see. She was excited. Then she wasn't. She could hear children playing at the park and having fun but she couldn't do the same.
"What are you thinking about?" Layla asked.
"I'm thinking about when you were a toddler and while I wasn't looking you walked into a wall. You never wanted to use a walking stick. You've always been strong willed like your mother."
"Dad you know this is right for me. You know this is best."
"Layla you have to understand that while you and Carly and maybe Ori can see the good side but all I see is you dying on that operating table. I see the day you were born and how complications almost took you from me and your mother too."
"Daddy I'm going to get this with or without you. Without will just take six years. When I'm eighteen I can do whatever you want. Daddy please."
Edward sighed and squeezed her hand.
"If something goes wrong...Layla this is hard for me. I want you to see. I want you to see a sunset or see your mother's face. But I don't want to lose you. I'm sorry, but I won't do this for you."
Layla nodded and looked away from his voice. "Yeah. Fine."
She threw down her walking stick and turned around to head back home. Edward caught up with her and held her arm to guide her like he always did.
Bella was biting her thumbnail. It was an obvious sign that she was nervous. A month ago Edward told Layla that she wouldn't get the surgery to fix her eyes. In an hour Edward was going to find out that she went behind his back for her baby girl.
"Mom we have to go," Oriyon said, "Mina has to work late and Carlisle is with Alice and Jasper."
"Is he going to stay with them?"
"Supposed to. I think their all going to be sleeping in the waiting room as usual."
Bella smiled and nodded. "Edward is going to meet us at the hospital."
"How did he take it?" Oriyon asked.
"You didn't tell him," Oriyon sighed. Bella shrugged. "Mom!"
"It didn't come up!"
Bella left to get her purse, ignoring her son's glare.
Edward could only wonder what Bella wanted to tell him. He was impatient. He wanted to know already! He knew that nobody was hurt, otherwise he would have been told what wing to go to. He stopped and froze. Maybe someone had been hurt. Dead. Was it Oriyon?! His son wasn't suicidal anymore and was well away from his problems as a teenager. He was an exceptional driver and very careful. Was it Carly? Did his grandson get hurt at school? Did little Carlisle get picked on and some bully smash his face in?! It had to be Newton's grandson! Toby was the biggest bully in the school and he didn't like Carlisle one bit.
That was it! His sweet angel grandson was dead!
"Edward! Honey you look so tense?"
"Who died?!" Edward demanded.
"Nobody," Bella said slowly. She held his hands tight. "Edward we're here to see Layla."
"What happened?! Did she fall again?! Did someone hurt her?! Wait..." he looked over Bella's face and saw her thumbnails were chewed down. "Bella what did you do."
"We didn't want you to know until the last moment," Bella said, "Edward don't be angry."
"She's getting the surgery?!" Edward cried angrily. "Bella she could die!"
"But she won't! Edward we have spent the last month preparing and we wanted to tell you but you would act like this. You can't look past the small possibility of her dying."
Edward pulled away from his wife. Only once had he been so furious with Bella that he couldn't stand the sight of her. That was when she was pregnant with Layla and married to Jacob. When she said that she would tell her husband it was his baby. Now that baby was twelve and getting an eye operation that could kill her. And her mother agreed to it.
"Edward don't go!"
"Don't talk to me. I don't want to see you right now," Edward snapped before storming off.
Bella turned and went upstairs. Alice jumped up and ran to her. "What happened?"
"He's so angry he doesn't even want to look at me," Bella mumbled, rubbing her eyes, "I knew he would be angry but he's never been that angry. He was only that angry once and that was back when we learned I was pregnant with Layla. Y'know when it was an affair."
Alice hugged her and brought her to sit down. Jasper gave Bella a hug as well and held her hand.
"Don't worry too much Bells," he said gently, "he loves Layla so much and he's just very scared. Remember how you were after the first appointment?"
Bella nodded and sighed. "Can you go talk him down? You're his best friend."
Jasper nodded and shuffled his daughter from his lap to Alice's.
"Daddy I wanna go too!"
Jasper sighed and nodded. He pulled the girl onto his back and they left. Bella smiled slightly as they watched him go. Jasper babied his third child so much that it put Bella to shame. Mercedes Whitlock was her father's daughter.
"I don't see how he plans to talk to Edward and watch over her," Bella sighed.
"He's been like that for a year now," Alice mumbled, "since we lost Serenity. The shrink thinks that it's because he's afraid of losing her too."
"What about you?
"Relapsing. Ori has been so great though. He doesn't mind at all that I keep Mina away from him most of the time. A. J calls me every night from Europe. He's at some ruins in Ireland now."
"When is he coming home?"
"Next week. Ben and Ori are going to lock him and Jasper in a room and force them to talk."
Bella snorted. "Hardly the best way."
"I hate this," Alice moaned, "my daughter dies and instead of focusing on the big picture they're bickering like children. A. J actually refuses to admit that it was an accident. That boy drives me insane!"
"Thanks mom. Love you too."
Alice looked up in shock. She jumped up and hugged her son. "You're early!"
"I know. I called Ori and he said you guys were here. I wanted to come see how Layla was doing."
"They took her into surgery fifteen minutes ago. It'll still take a long time. Your father should be back in a little bit. He's off talking Edward down."
"I actually just wanted to see how Layla was doing and give this to Mercedes," A. J said handing Alice a wrapped box. "It's a puzzle."
"You're leaving already? Sweetie it's been months since I saw you!"
A. J sighed and sat down. Bella excused herself to get some coffee. She passed Oriyon and Mina in the hall where they seemed to be having a bit of a discussion.
"Mina, sweetie, if it bothers you so much just say something," Oriyon urged.
"Like what? Hey bro, missed you, hey you know it really bothers me that you and dad aren't speaking. I mean really, Ori."
Oriyon shrugged and sipped his coffee. He understood why A. J would blame Jasper initially. It had been Jasper's idea to take the girls horseback riding. But the blame was only justified when the shock was so new. Everybody was shocked when Serenity's horse was spooked and threw her off. It wasn't like Jasper threw a toy snake at it or anything.
Mina knew the real reason her twin wanted to blame their father was because he saw the accident first hand. His horse was right behind his sister's and when she fell off he heard bones breaking and saw her face. It had been a genuine accident. Nobody saw it coming and nobody could have saved her. She was wearing the proper protective gear and when two grieving parents can say that on the very day their daughter died it had to be true.
Oriyon just wished they could talk about Layla's surgery. Serenity died a year ago, long enough, in his opinion, to take a back seat to his sisters operation. But then again they were only talking about it because A. J and Jasper were probably going to fight.
"God if they start fighting...Ori I can't handle them. I always get put in the middle with mom. Then Merri starts crying and they fight over that. Serenity was her twin for crying out loud! I mean show some concern!"
"Concern for what?" Jasper asked.
"Layla's surgery," Oriyon answered, "Mina's mad because my boss didn't want to give me the time off to be here."
"That's just cruel," Jasper grumbled, "she's your little sister for crying out loud! I hope you told him what's what."
"Obviously, as I'm here," Oriyon said with a slight smile. "How's dad?"
"Uncle Eddie said he feels betrayed," Mercedes said from Jasper's back. "Then he told daddy to butt out."
"A. J!" Mercedes cried happily. Jasper let her down and she ran to hug her brother. The atmosphere got noticeably colder.
"What's he doing here?" Jasper asked finally.
"Came home early," Mina asked in the frosty tone she inherited from her mother.
"He wanted to see how my sister was doing. That's what we're all here for."
"I'm aware of that, Oriyon thank you."
Mina gave Oriyon a bit of a look, silently begging him to stay calm.
"Oh Jasper! Is Edward okay?" Bella asked, coming back with her coffee.
"Pissed off but fine."
Bella groaned and continued to the waiting room. She greeted A. J with a hug and then sat with Alice. Mina sat with them shortly after.
"What's wrong sweetie?" Alice asked, patting Mina's hand.
"Why is it that Ori and I are the only couple that isn't having drama?"
"I think it's because he got an over abundance as a teenager," Bella guessed. "Don't worry sweetie we aren't having drama."
"Bella you're such an uneven liar," Alice sighed.
"What do you mean?!" Bella cried indignantly.
"You keep Oriyon's parentage a secret for fifteen years, an affair secret for months and Layla's operation for a month and yet you can't lie about small stuff. You're having drama right now!" Alice pointed out.
"No we're having an argument. You and Jasper are having drama."
"The point is," Mina said loudly, "I'm tired of the drama. Be like me and Ori with no drama."
Alice laughed and Bella was trying not to.
"Mina, sweetie, Edward and I aren't having drama. He's just overreacting and I lied a bit to him. Which you shouldn't do in a healthy marriage."
"A. J and Jasper will stop fighting eventually," Alice assured her. Both Bella and Mina looked at Alice was raised eyebrows. "Well they will! One of these days they'll realize that they're both being stupid!"
Mina sighed and moved her arms when her son wanted to sit in her lap. She held him lightly and kissed his head.
"Mommy is Layla going to be better soon?"
"I sure hope so sweetie."
"Hey pumpkin," Alice said happily as her daughter climbed up into her lap. Mercedes sighed contently and snuggled in for a little rest. Alice pet her dark hair gently and kissed her forehead.
"Daddy and A. J are fighting again."
"That's it," Alice grumbled. She got up and Bella took the little girl. Alice left the waiting room and went down the hall where A. J and Jasper were arguing. "Alright listen! Both of you!"
They stopped when she pushed them apart and looked at them both with angry eyes.
"You, Jasper almost fifty-years-old and A. J you are nearly thirty. You are both way too old to be so childish!"
"I'm not being childish!" Jasper and A. J cried in unison.
"Yes you are! I know you are both hurt from losing Serenity but she's gone! Nothing can bring her back but you two fighting is making it worse! It was nobody's fault! It was a complete accident! Why don't you both just take a minute to consider how other people are feeling?!"
They were silent. Alice was in tears now. She rarely let anyone see just how much losing her daughter hurt because she wanted to be strong for her remaining daughter. So seeing her cry hurt Jasper even more.
"You two used to be so close," she continued, "she won't have wanted to be the reason you fell apart!"
She didn't stay to hear excuses or apologies. She went back to the waiting room where Mina met her and took her to get some coffee. Before Alice could ask why she saw Edward. Things were going to go down.
"How could you not tell me."
"Because you wouldn't have let her go through with it."
Edward glared at his wife and she glared back.
"Bella I can't believe you lied to me."
"Edward I wouldn't have lied if it wasn't important."
Edward sniffed and folded his arms and one leg over the other. "Why are there so many lies in our relationship?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well when we were dating you kinda lied about your availability."
"Oh the hell I did!" Bella hissed, "I told you flat out that I was betrothed. You were all, oh Bella I don't care, make love to me in the shower!"
"I didn't tell you to have sex in the shower you came in on me!"
"The point is I have been as honest as can be through our relationship!"
"Bella you had my son and never told me!"
Bella folded her arms and glared at him. "That was to keep him alive! It is also totally irrelevant! Edward everything I have lied about was to protect something important. Layla's eyes are important."
"If she is hurt I will never forgive you."
"Thank you honey, really," Bella snapped. "You may be pissed off but don't you dare put that on me!"
"Well I won't! She's our baby and she could die!"
"You think I haven't thought of that?!" Bella cried, "Edward I'm terrified that I agreed to kill our baby girl! Do you know how that's going to weigh on me if something happens?! You could at least be the good husband I know you are and be a little sensitive you stupid jerk!"
Bella got out and stormed out of the waiting room. Edward sighed and grumbled to himself just before Oriyon took his mother's seat.
"You know she means well."
"Not you too."
"Dad she's scared and she's been scared for a month."
"Ori she lied to me. About Layla. We promised each other that we would discuss all important decisions regarding our children. This qualifies as a big decision."
"Just don't be too hard on her. She's been miserable and wanting to tell you all month. We just knew that if you found out you'd try to stop it."
Edward shrugged and nodded. He would have tried to stop it.
"Dad we've been meeting with doctors all month. Layla is in good hands. She's been prepped and everything. She knows exactly what is being done and for some unknown reason Carly does too."
"Stop reading to him," Edward advised.
"The kid spends his afternoons with a medical journal and a dictionary. He's like some sort of mega nerd."
Edward and Oriyon looked over and saw little Carlisle sitting on the counter at the nurses station talking with a surgeon.
"Oh hey I know that guy," Edward said, "he was the resident that taught my brother."
"Aw it's poetic," Oriyon smiled. "Now he's telling my son about heart surgery and stuff."
"At least he knows what he wants to be when he grows up. Isn't that right changed his major five times?" Edward asked. Oriyon mumbled something about exploring his options. Edward chuckled and pat his shoulder.
"Anyway can you just not fight with mom. You can be mad but just no fighting. Keep it bottled up until you get home."
"If she starts something..."
"What are you twelve?!" Oriyon cried. "Look I have to go make sure nobody is killing each other on the Whitlock front."
"Good luck with that. For the past year A. J and Jasper haven't been able to stay in the same room."
Oriyon nodded and got up. He went down the hall and found that A. J and Jasper were still arguing only now Alice was involved. He just grabbed A. J's arm and pulled him down the hall.
"Go get your sister a snack from the cafeteria," he said, pushing A. J at Mercedes. He went back down the hall and grabbed Jasper's arm. He pulled him down the hall and pushed him into the empty chair next to Edward. "Talk to him."
Oriyon went back for Alice. He dragged her down to Bella.
"Talk to her."
"I don't care! Just talk!" Oriyon cried. "Talk with someone you aren't going to fight with!"
"Ori, sweetheart, is something wrong?" Bella asked.
"Can we all just stop fighting? I mean it's like thanksgiving all over again! Only instead of fighting about who burned the ham and who forgot the beans you're fighting over lying to dad!"
Bella shifted and looked over at Alice for help. She shrugged and shifted uncomfortably. Oriyon sighed and went back to check on his dad and father in law. Edward and Jasper were talking about sports which was a good sign.
"Daddy I want to be a surgeon too."
Oriyon smiled down at his son and ruffled his hair. "I don't think you can be a neurologist and a surgeon at the same time."
"What would you say if I wanted to be a urologist?" Carlisle asked as Oriyon lifted him off of the counter.
"I'd say whatever floats your boat kiddo. No matter how gross it is. Now why don't we go get you some jello."
Oriyon kissed his forehead and took him down to the cafeteria. He found A. J there getting a snack for his sister.
"How are you?" Oriyon asked as he let Carlisle order some jello.
"I missed everyone," A. J said with a sigh. "Things have been so different this past year. You know mom and dad put her in therapy right?"
Oriyon looked over at Mercedes who was poking her jello with her spoon. Carlisle sat with her and tried to cheer her up.
"At least she isn't crying anymore," Oriyon sighed.
"Yeah," A. J agreed. "She's doing better. I don't get why dad's in therapy too."
"Yeah I know. The nerve of him having difficulty coping with his daughter's death."
A. J gave Oriyon a look. "Mom isn't in therapy!"
"She goes with Merri!"
"A. J stop it!" Mercedes ordered. A. J looked down at his sister. "Stop fighting with dad all the time. He's sad all the time because you're gone too. He always wants you to come home. Even more than mommy."
"He misses me?"
Mercedes nodded. "He misses you a lot. You always go away to the ruined castles."
A. J didn't say anything. Mercedes went back to poking her jello and Oriyon looked at his friend.
"I'll be back," A. J sighed.
Edward noticed A. J before Jasper did. He jumped up and Jasper looked confused before he saw his son.
"God don't leave me," he hissed at Edward. Edward just shrugged and left. A. J came over and Jasper stood up.
Jasper shifted slightly. "I'm tired of arguing."
"Dad I'm sorry."
Jasper shifted a bit.
"I-I missed you too."
A. J looked as awkward as his father.
"I know you'll probably never forgive me. I'm just so angry about Serenity dying and I didn't know how to react. I wanted to blame someone because I love her so much and I miss her..."
Jasper cut his son off but hugging him. "I love you A. J. You're my only son and I wish I could make everything better."
"I love you dad. I'm sorry I haven't been a good son lately."
Edward smiled and left the waiting room. He went down the hall slowly. He stopped when he saw Bella leaning against the wall crying. He sighed and went to her. She looked up and then looked away.
"Bella," he said gently. "Sweetie come here."
"I'm just really sorry. Edward I know I was wrong but I did it because I love our daughter and I know this is what she needs."
"Bella I'm mad because you lied to me. But we'll discuss it later. Right now let's focus on Layla."
"I'm really scared," Bella admitted. "It's been so long since they took her in. What if there were complications? What if I made a mistake?!"
"Everything will be fine."
"But just an hour ago you were telling me that if she got hurt you'd never forgive me. Why are you suddenly so calm?"
Edward shrugged. "Because one of us has to be."
Bella nodded and he hugged her. He kissed the top of her head and rocked her gently.
"Let's go sit down," he said quietly. He held her hand and they went back into the waiting room.
"Mr. and Mrs. Cullen."
Edward and Bella stood up and met the doctor.
"How is she?"
"The surgery went smoothly and in a couple hours she'll be coming to. We'll take the bandages off tomorrow and we'll begin her therapy."
"So she's okay," Edward clarified.
"Absolutely. You can go see her soon."
Edward smiled and went to go tell everybody the good news.
After hours of waiting everybody was in Layla's room anticipating her bandages being removed. Oriyon was fidgeting with his cuticles like he did when he was nervous. Edward was doing the same thing. Bella was biting her nails again. Mina was holding Carlisle who looked giddy.
"Alright, big moment. Are you ready Layla?" the doctor asked.
"Nervous but yeah."
The doctor unrolled the bandages. Edward grabbed Bella's hand away from her mouth as she nibbled down to the skin. He held her hand tight and she nearly crushed his. The bandages came off and Layla opened her eyes.
Layla blinked a few times and squinted a bit. She turned her head and looked at Bella.
It was strange. Since she could remember there was always a dominant smell of sweet perfume and strawberries with a hint of something floral that told her that her mother was near. But she could see her now. She was blurry at first but then she saw the warm face of her mother. Bella looked at her with teary brown eyes and such a gentle face.
She held her arms up and Bella hugged her daughter. She pulled back and left a kiss on her forehead.
"How do you feel sweetie?" Bella asked.
"A little sore. Very overwhelmed. Dad and Ori look like the same person."
Bella laughed and nodded.
"So how do we look sis?" Oriyon asked.
"You look about as nerdy as I thought you would," Layla teased.
Oriyon laughed as he hugged her. When he pulled back Layla sat up and got out of bed.
"I want to go for a walk."
"Alright, but we're going to stay on the floor okay," Edward said. Layla nodded and they walked out of the room.
"Everyone's waiting for you in the waiting room."
"Yay they gave the room a purpose!"
"Layla hug me!" Carlisle ordered. Layla smiled and obeyed.
"Aw Carly you're so adorable!"
"Thanks! I try my best!"
"And Mina you're so beautiful! Way out of my brother's league!"
Oriyon frowned and Mina laughed. Layla walked out of the room and down the hall. She walked slowly, taking in all of the new sights around her. She smiled when she reached the waiting room and everybody she loved was there with smiles. Everyone looked amazing. She looked at tiny Alice with her short bobbed hair and her mini clone Mercedes. Jasper was aging gracefully, his blonde hair was streaked with silver and he had faint wrinkles on his face. He hugged her gently just before Alice did. A. J was next. Layla was surprised how much he looked like his sister and his father. Emmett had arrived finally and looked tired from his flight but happy to see her all the same. Ben was with him and he greeted her with what she knew was his usual smile.
"It's weird," Layla mumbled through tears, "I feel so overwhelmed by everything I'm seeing."
"Don't worry sweetie, you'll get used to it," Bella promised.
"Miss Cullen, I have to ask you to return to bed for a little while longer," a nurse said gently, "Dr. Miller wants to make sure you don't hurt yourself."
Layla nodded and went back to her room. Edward and Bella stayed behind while everyone else went home. Bella sat on her daughter's bedside and stroked her hair gently. Layla smiled and rested her head on Edward's shoulder.
"Thanks for doing this," she said, "I'm so happy right now I can't even express how much."
"I should have had more faith in the doctors," Edward admitted, "I just don't want to lose you."
"I know dad," Layla said with a smile, "I love you too."
Edward smiled and kissed her forehead. Then he leaned over and kissed Bella.
"At least I know what a kiss is now," Layla sighed, "I don't know if I wanted to. Ahh!"
Edward and Bella both kissed her on the cheeks at the same time.
"Hey guys we're going to head out," Oriyon said from the door. "Carly is falling asleep."
"Alright sweetie," Bella said holding her arms out. Oriyon came over and hugged her.
"Layla, sweetheart, I'm so happy you're alright and that you can see us now."
"Thanks Ori. Drive safe okay."
"I will. Try to get some sleep."
Layla nodded. Oriyon kissed her forehead and pat her shoulder before heading out with his wife and son. Edward smiled as he watched him leave. He picked up the remote and let Layla watch television for the first time. He and Bella watched on in amusement as she marveled over the colors and the expressions of the people on the screen. Bella played absentmindedly with Layla's hair. Her daughter was so beautiful and her eyes were still the same, only brighter. She looked up at her mother and smiled. Bella smiled back and kissed her forehead.
"Do you forgive me?" Bella asked after Layla fell asleep.
Edward sighed and looked at her. She looked beautiful in the dark with only the glow of the television lighting her face.
"Don't I always?"
This was a hard epilogue! Layla's age changed several times ranging from 12 to 18. I had to give the Whitlock family a tragedy as god knows the poor Cullens had too much. I also liked the idea of Alice having twins. Again. Especially since she would probably be pissed at Jasper for months. I'm so mean to them. Anyway on an end note I loved writing this story. The original draft I wrote two years ago for a writing class (the names were different) and my teacher didn't like it at all. That made me sad. So to know that so many people like it made me really happy. So I thank you all for sticking with me! This took so freaking long because there were so many ways I wanted to end this. I had another epilogue written up and done but it doesn't feel right like this one did. I may post it in Cullen Drabbles someday if I get around to it. Enjoy!