I saw it fit to post the final chapter of this story on the 10 year anniversary of the September 11th attacks. However, I wrote past midnight, so you all will be reading this on September 12th (or after). I'm sorry for this, but better late than never, right? I didn't have much time to proofread this, so I apologize for any errors. I hope you enjoy, and just be warned, it is somewhat graphic. Otherwise, thank you so much for sticking with me to the end (I mean, it took years for such a short story! Sorry for that..)
Otherwise, God Bless America.
Disclaimer: I own nothing Twilight. The entire Twilight kingdom belongs to the wonderful Stephenie Meyer.
11:08 P.M. – Jasper's POV
I zipped up the cold blue body bag, yet another sad reminder that so many people weren't coming home that night. So many children would lie in bed, waiting for their Mommies and Daddies to come tuck them in, when it would never happen. When their bodies lay under the rubble, badly burned and broken, only to be found in the weeks after this horrible tragedy.
I was so tired, so exhausted. My body ached for sleep, food, and water; my muscles cried out every time I had to dig through the massive debris for survivors. And Edward. I still hadn't found him yet, and every minute that passed was another that pierced my heart and made me think I may not be able to keep my promise to bring him home safely. My eyes cried out of sadness and exhaustion; I knew I couldn't bear to look into the face of another firefighter and see the grief that would be etched there for years to come. These men were my brothers now, yet I didn't know their names. We worked together in almost an eerie silence, except to shout out that we had found someone else, either badly burned or dead.
I had seen things I knew I would never forget, things that I would never want Alice to see or experience. I was so happy she was safe at home. Safe. I would go home to her, make love to her once more, just because I could. I wanted to hold her close, kiss every inch of her body; memorize every crevice and freckle and line of her smooth skin because I was alive, and I could. So many firefighters wouldn't be able to do that with their loved ones tonight. So many wives had become widows in a matter of hours, and I was thankful that my Alice did not have to suffer like they would be.
But Bella. Bella might now be a widow. I tried to push the horrible thought from my mind, because Edward wasn't confirmed dead yet. He might still be alive. The thought kept me going, even after Chief Cullen told me I was free to go for the night. I would not leave there until I knew of Edward's fate.
Jake and I were back to moving rubble, like robots. He and I lifted a thick piece of concrete with what little strength we had, and what we saw took my breath away.
"Oh, God," Jake cried, dropping to his knees and covering his eyes. It was a woman, definitely dead. Her body had been badly burned, the clothes that covered her almost singed completely off. Her face was almost unrecognizable, but you could tell by her swollen abdomen that she was with child at the time of her death.
"Jake, it's okay, breathe. I got this if you need a break," I replied, patting him on the back. I knew he was thinking about his own wife, pregnant at home, waiting for him. This might be too much for him. It was almost too much for me; I knew that if Alice was pregnant I wouldn't be able to remove this woman's body.
"She's…she's pregnant?" He said it almost like it was a question. He did not stand up, but allowed his head to look back up from his shoes, glancing at the body once more.
"I think she is, Jake," I replied quietly. I was almost numb at this point. This poor young woman, heavily pregnant, came into work not expecting that it would kill her. Her husband was no doubt sitting at home, waiting for the news of his wife and child. He wanted them both to be safe, and to come home to him. But they wouldn't.
I couldn't imagine what he would feel once he was told of her fate. I briefly put myself in that position, being told that Alice, pregnant with my child, was crushed under millions of tons of rubble because some bastards flew planes into the buildings to kill as many innocent as they could. The thought made me want to go on a rampage. I knew I wouldn't be able to live without her or my unborn child if that happened.
Jake stood up, and as I locked eyes with him I knew he was putting himself in the same scenario as I just had.
"Your wife is safe and sound at home, Jacob," I said quietly, nodding my head. "You can go home to her tonight. For now though, we have a job to do."
He nodded, closing his eyes. I knew he was past his breaking point, much like the rest of us.
We carefully lifted her up onto a stretcher, so she could be placed in a body bag and taken to the morgue. We passed the stretcher to another set of firefighters, and then Jake and I went back to the rubble, searching once more. Still searching for Edward.
As Jake continued to move small debris, I decided to walk to a different area and continue my search there. I moved rubble, completely covered in dust, until the process became even more automatic.
And then everything seemed silent when I heard it. A groan. A man's groan, somewhere in the shallow rubble.
"Hello?" I yelled, frantic. "Is there someone down there?"
"I'm trapped!" Came a strong voice. A voice I knew anywhere.
"EDWARD! Is that you?" I yelled again.
"Jazz," Came the reply. His voice seemed to choke of happiness.
"Are you hurt? Where are you?"
"No, I'm fine. There's a heavy piece of debris on my leg, but otherwise I'm not crushed. Follow my voice!"
I did, throwing debris out of my way in a new fit of energy. Edward! He was alive! My heart swelled with happiness for everyone in my family.
He kept calling out to me and I kept searching, until finally I came across a large piece of concrete too big for me to lift alone. I knew Edward was beneath it, trapped in a pocket of air, enough to survive.
"Jake! Come help! It's Edward!" I yelled, almost too loudly. I had been silent for so long that my throat ached with every word I screamed.
Jake was there in a second, and soon so was Chief Cullen. The three of us were lifting the concrete with renewed strength, until we saw the beautiful black and yellow of the FDNY fire suit, of Edward's jacket. His hand reached out, and he managed to pull himself up until the concrete slab had been moved to the side. We grabbed him and hauled him up, turning him on his back so he could breathe.
He coughed and sputtered, his face black with soot and perspiration, his body shaking with exhaustion. In my own happiness, I threw myself onto him, hugging him tightly.
"My God, don't scare us like that again," I laughed, tears streaming down my face.
"I'll try not to, Jasper," He replied, the coughing starting to subside.
I helped him onto his feet, his body still shaking from exhaustion. I hugged him once more, not really believing that he was alive.
"You two ready to head home for the night?" Chief Cullen asked us after we had broken apart. "You guys are free to go, just report back here in the morning. Get some food and sleep and be ready to face hell again tomorrow."
Edward and I nodded. Happiness surged through our veins in the middle of the disaster. We would be able to go home to our wives.
12:42 A.M. Number of missing people and rescue workers continue to rise dramatically. Many are feared to be dead.
12:53 A.M. – Edward's POV
I was finally driving home. The whole day seemed unreal. I knew I would wake up in the morning and think it was all a dream, when in fact I would be back in the reality of it in a matter of hours.
As Jasper and I made it back to the station to get our clothes, he told me Emmett was safe, that our children were staying the night there, and that Bella knew I had been missing. That part made my heart lurch – I did not know what condition she would be in when I returned home to her. I made several desperate attempts to call her from the truck, but it seemed that the phones had stopped working. I knew I would see her soon though, and that was enough for me.
Jasper and I changed into our regular clothes in silence, not bothering to shower. We didn't want to waste any more time getting home. We ate food and drank water that volunteers gave us, and that seemed to give me more strength and take away my shaking muscles.
With one final hug, the two of us turned to our own cars.
"I can't believe…" Jasper started, shaking his head in disbelief. He didn't have to finish the sentence.
"I know Jazz. I know. Get some sleep, we'll be back there in the morning."
He nodded his head, and opened his car door, getting in. I did the same, and soon we were on our way back home.
I checked my phone to try to call Bella once more, but discovered the battery had died in the long hours I had left it in my car. I cursed silently, realizing that I would just have to surprise her at home. I was scared to see what condition she was in.
As I pulled up into our driveway, my heart began to beat erratically. I needed to see her. I barely parked the car before I yanked the keys out of the ignition and ran toward our front door, finding it unlocked. I opened the door and immediately saw Bella, just reaching the bottom step, meeting my gaze. Her face was a mixture of shock and happiness, which disappeared as she passed out onto the floor.
1:09 A.M. The death toll of people and rescue workers continues to climb as the missing persons are found.
I lurched forward and barely caught her before she almost hit the floor hard. I turned her over and laid her head in my lap, stroking her face and saying her name gently until she came to. I couldn't contain my happiness, that I was holding her.
"Oh, Bella, Bella, Bella," I repeated, holding her in my arms and stroking her face.
Finally, her eyes opened. Her beautiful brown eyes, already spilling over with tears.
"Edward?" She whispered, her hand coming up to touch my face, still stained with soot and sweat.
"Yes, my love. I promised you I'd come back in one piece," I whispered, kissing her forehead as her hand fell away from my cheek.
"But…you're missing," She sobbed, tears falling freely from the creases in her eyes. She was never a pretty crier, but in that moment, she never looked more beautiful.
"I was. But I'm back now. I'm here," I smiled, my own tears forming, spilling over. "When I was under the rubble trying to escape, your face, and Schuyler's, were the only things going through my mind. You both are my life."
She sobbed even more, finally lifting her head up to kiss me for the first time since early that morning. My heart continued to beat so quickly, my tears mixing with happiness and sadness.
"We lost Mike and Eric," I whispered, letting my emotions take over for my fallen comrades.
"Oh, Edward," She breathed, speechless.
I stood up, carrying her exhausted body with me. Looing back, I'm not sure how I managed the strength during that moment, but something about feeling Bella's body against mine made me forget about how exhausted I was.
"I meant what I said, I love you more than you know." Tears began to roll slowly down her cheeks as I walked up the steps, talking softly to her.
"I know," She replied, closing her eyes and resting her face against my chest, on my beating heart. I walked forward through our doorway and to our bed, gently laying her on it. Finally, I lay ontop of her, burying my face in her neck, not caring that I was dirty and covered in soot. I began to trail kisses all over her face and neck, as we both cried.
We began to undress, and I let my hands trail down over her body, my palms running over her curves, memorizing everything. I trailed my fingers over her soft stomach, letting them move up to cup her breast in one hand as I propped myself up with the other elbow. Her hands moved in time with mine, one threading through the hair on my neck and the other gently raking her finger nails across my bare back. The feel of it raised goose bumps on my body, made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, and my body shudder. Our kisses turned hungry, and our bodies moved much more quickly. Soon we were both naked, and I stared into her eyes as I entered her, our grief turning into passion for one another. Pure, golden, loving passion.
I made love to her slowly, gently, as silent tears still stained our cheeks. I kissed her softly and sensually, full of desire, before I finally rested my face in her neck when I knew we were both about to finish. I knew my Bella so well, and I loved her more than the world itself.
Afterward, I curled her in my arms, letting myself finally rest. Soon she was breathing peacefully, asleep in happiness. I too was letting myself fall into the abyss of sleep, and as I kissed her once more on the forehead, the only thing going through my mind was the lyrics of the song I had heard on the radio that morning. The song I knew was just for Bella and me.
I'll be coming home,
Wait for me.
I hope you enjoyed it. Reviews, please? You would make my week :)