Disclaimer: All belongs to Stephenie Meyer. I own nothing. All quotes on this page were taken from pages 324-327 of Breaking Dawn.
"Someday, Beauty Queen, you're going to get tired of just threatening me. I'm really looking forward to that."
I suppressed a groan, not even bothering to look up. I couldn't afford to look away from Bella's face – her face, sunken and pale, much too thin. It seemed as if she might collapse if, for just one second, I were to take my eyes off of her. I cupped her cheek gently, handling her even more carefully than I had when I had barely known her. How long ago those days seemed! And how simple things had been back then.
But Bella wasn't watching me. "Enough, Jacob," she grumbled, her voice slightly stronger. At least the blood seemed to be helping…somewhat. Her eyes continued to evade mine as she glared at the dog.
"You want me to take off?"
Yes. Please say yes. I wanted him gone – away from here. How could he be so relaxed, so unconcerned, when Bella's life lay crumbling away before me? My fingers stroked her face anxiously. I wanted to hate the dog more – hate him for ignoring how dire the situation was – but I couldn't.
I hated myself too much.
This was all my fault.
Bella's frown suddenly dropped of her face, and her eyes widened. "No! Of course not."
I sighed quietly, trying to ignore the mutt. I could force him to leave, of course - I could kick him halfway to China and not feel sorry about it. But he made Bella happy. For some inexplicable, unfathomable reason, my Bella still wanted him around…and I would comply. There was nothing I could deny her, not when I was watching her weaken and die away.
I tuned out most of the conversation, too wrapped up in my thoughts.
It felt like ages since we had been celebrating our honeymoon on Isle Esme, blissfully content and unaware. And yet, things had changed so fast…I remembered a quiet afternoon spent between us on the island. Bella had been delighted to discover, among the thousands of DVDs, a version of Romeo and Juliet that she hadn't yet seen. We'd lounged across the sofa to watch it, my chin nestled onto her shoulder, my hands resting lightly on her stomach, oblivious to the thing that had been growing right beneath my fingers…
How many times had Bella tried to convince me to see it her way? She had shared with me over and over her vision of a tiny, green-eyed baby boy, fair-skinned, with dark hair…
I mentally shook my head, dismissing the image. My Bella never failed to amaze me, but how she could continue to love this thing as it destroyed her from the inside out…it was beyond me. I could only try to make her see reason, and, true to nature, she refused to understand what a danger this was to her. She went willingly towards her death, ready to give up everything to protect it…my throat twisted painfully, as if someone were scraping through it with steel nails.
There was no way that the creature could be the beautiful baby that Bella described to me. It probably didn't even look remotely human. Who could know, when something like this had never happened before? Perhaps we would be doing it a mercy by ending it. It was unnatural, an abomination; it shouldn't exist.
Just like me.
There was something it had in common with it's father, then. Something that went against nature. Something utterly wrong.
I hadn't been paying any attention to the words being spoken around me, but I tuned into their thoughts now, still stroking Bella's face anxiously. She spoke Rosalie, asking her for more blood.
At least I get away from the mutt for a few minutes. This house is going to smell for months! Even Esme won't be able to get the stench out!
Real quiet now…might as well take a nap. These patrols are wearing me down…
I frowned, cocking my head. The last one was different…it wasn't a speaking voice, as I was used to hearing. Rather, it was a stream of vague senses and feelings, choppy and unconnected, which seemed to translate into words in my head. The feelings spun dizzily, repeating in a hazy circle, and I listened harder. The "voice" seemed to get just a bit clearer.
It seemed closer than Jacob's thoughts, definitely more so than Rosalie's…but there was no one else in the room.
No one but Bella.
"Did you say something?" I asked her gently. Maybe she had spoken…but it wasn't actual words that I was hearing. Of that, I was sure.
Bella's head lifted off the pillows, and her brows drew together as her eyes met mine. She looked just as confused as I.
"Me?" she mumbled. "I didn't say anything."
An idea jumped into my mind, chasing quickly after the other thoughts, and I moved to my knees, bending over her. Sudden, irrational excitement took over my mind, holding the dark thoughts at bay.
"What are you thinking about right now?" I was aware of the mutt's gaze on the two of us, but I ignored him.
Her eyebrows drew even closer together. "Nothing. What's going on?"
Nice. Nice sound.
"What were you thinking about a minute ago?" I prompted, focusing on the indistinct voice. It was growing clearer every second. If it was really Bella's voice that was I was hearing, then perhaps it was starting out fuzzy. Perhaps it would take time before I could really hear what she was thinking…but I would take it. The prospect that I might, at last, be tapping into her mind shocked me, delighted me. I had no idea why now would be the time, but I was too focused to care.
"Just…Esme's Island. And feathers." A feeble blush painted over both of her cheeks.
Nice sound. Nice sound. Nice.
There was barely any time for the disappointment to hit. I realized immediately that the strange "voice" I was hearing was something else…had to be something else. It was still focused on the "nice sound", not a tropical island…or feathers.
And then the idea slammed into me, hard. Impossible, even more impossible than my previous thoughts. Shock raced through my veins, and I focused even more intently than before, staring at Bella's beautiful face, fighting to keep my voice even.
"Say something else," I urged, my voice low. It was as if there was no one else in the room – no one me and her.
"Like what? Edward, what's going on?"
This single word was clearer than anything I'd heard yet. So clear that, indistinct as it was, I was able to pick up the real meaning, the real intent, behind it.
The solitary thought held no possessive quality. Whoever it was wasn't thinking "mine" as in "it belongs to me"…rather, I was reminded of the way a small child thought. The way a child attributed the word "mine" to something it wanted…something it desired, something it liked…something it loved.
Nice sound. Mine. My sound.
I was sure the amazement was shining from every inch of my face. The awe swept through me, chasing away the shock, and before I knew what I was doing, I reached out.
Very carefully, placing my hands over Bella's rounded stomach…over the baby…over the child.
"The f-" I faltered, swallowing hard. Everything in my mind had shifted; I could not attribute the impersonal word fetus to the clear, intelligent thoughts I'd just heard. "It…" again, not the right word. "…the baby likes the sound of your voice."
The only sound in the room was the pair of heavily pounding hearts. Bella sucked in a deep breath, her eyes widening. And then –
"Holy crow, you can hear him!" she shrieked, excitement chasing away every trace of confusion.
LOUD! The baby jerked reflexively.
With my hand still resting on Bella's stomach, I felt the movement as the infant's foot shot upward. The movement had no impact on me, but Bella winced.
"Shh." I was reminded immediately of how fragile she was – how much more breakable than ever before. This time, though, the realization didn't send me reeling back into a hellish state of mind. I felt a gentle tenderness welling up in my chest, and I moved my hand higher up on her stomach, rubbing gently. "You startled it…him."
Bad, bad, the voice thought, suddenly nervous. Amazingly, it seemed aware of Bella's pain. Not again. No, no, no.
Once again, I felt the slight movement as the baby withdrew, curling into a ball.
Bella's eyes widened even more, and she put her hand next to mine, patting her stomach. "Sorry, baby."
I watched her face for a long moment, but she was too caught up in the child, completely focused on the bulge in her stomach. Inevitably, my eyes traveled down, too. The thoughts were still not exactly words, but they had returned to the same cycle of contented feeling. The same vague senses repeated over and over: happy, warm, safe…home.
"What's he thinking now?" Bella whispered to me, her tone eager. I met her eyes again, noting that her voice was stronger than it had been this morning…her cheeks glowed more healthily, and her mouth seemed turned up into a permanent smile. I tried to sort through all the awe, so I could break through and share the same joy with her.
"It…he or she, is…" my voice was uncertain; my mind refused to let go of the fact that this was the creature that was killing my Bella. But the hate was slipping away, unable to find ground. "He's happy," I whispered.
Impossible. Utterly, undeniably impossible. And yet, here it was – the evidence that, somehow, this child really existed. It was alive, and…good. The thoughts that I detected were not that of a monster's. They couldn't be. The sheer defenselessness and simple joy of the feelings left me breathless.
Tears leaked out of the edges of Bella's eyes, cascading down her cheeks, sparkling as they dripped down her chin. Her eyes were drawn downward again, and her hands circled her stomach tenderly.
"Of course you're happy, pretty baby, of course you are," she murmured. "How could you not be, all safe and warm and loved? I love you so much, little EJ, of course you're happy."
Nice sound. Nice sound. My nice sound. Mine.
I cocked my head to the side, momentarily distracted. "What did you call him?"
Blood rushed to her cheeks again, though the smile stood in place, unwavering. This blush was stronger than the first one. "I sort of named him. I didn't think you would want…well, you know."
Why did it suddenly bother me that I wouldn't have liked that? That, a few hours ago, I would have resented the fact that Bella had given the child a name?
"EJ?" I asked, trying to distract myself.
More nice. More nice sound.
"You're father's name was Edward, too," she reminded me, still a bit embarrassed.
"Yes, it was. What -?" I began to ask, but was distracted once again by the hazy thoughts.
More nice sound. More. Nice. My nice. My sound.
Bella struggled to sit up, pulling herself up from the pillows. "What?"
I moved automatically, placing one hand on her chest, gently guiding her back down onto the sofa. My other hand caressed the side of her face, once again stroking her cheek. "He likes my voice, too," I murmured.
"Of course he does." Bella's voice was smug, as if she had expected this all along. I was still reeling. "You have the most beautiful voice in the universe. Who wouldn't love it?"
I was about to argue that point with her, when Rosalie leaned over the back of the sofa, cutting into the conversation. I was a little disoriented – I'd forgotten that there were others in the room.
Mine…mine…my nice sound, my nice sound. I was only half-listening to Bella and Rosalie as they discussed the gender of the baby. The tiny thoughts were once again spinning into action.
The thing…the child…was listening to Bella's voice, replaying her words, though he – he! – didn't seem to understand the meaning. He was content to listen to them, completely immersing himself in the words, wrapping them around himself like a cocoon.
The word morphed again, taking on a whole new meaning…the child seemed suddenly aware that there was more than just the voice…that there was a person behind the voice. Aware of the person carrying him, sustaining him; aware of the being that kept him alive and held him tight. There was a sudden, staggering urge there; a sudden need to see the owner of the nice sound. A desperate desire to be held by them, to touch them…to know them.
To love them.
And with that, all my resentment broke violently away.
There was no more basis for my hate. No longer a way that it could exist. This being – this incredible, impossible child – already understood so much more than an unborn baby should…and it loved Bella. That was the turning point. The final nail in the coffin, so to speak. This child – my child! – was a real person, not the twisted, sick thing that I had imagined. I realized that there was no way it could have known of the damage it – he – was causing his mother…at least, not until now. But he loved her. He loved her! He thought, and he understood, and he loved his mother.
There was no longer a way – any way – that I could see him as a monster. He was a child.
"I still think he's an Edward."
Bella's words baffled me, and, caught in the wake of my sudden about-face, I was left unable to respond. I stared into space, listening as the baby continued to take in Bella's words, holding onto them tightly.
"What?" Bella asked, her voice choked with emotion. "What's he thinking now?"
At that moment, the vague feelings that fueled the baby's thoughts were incredibly clear.
I love you. As simple as if he'd spoken it. Without words, without even coherent thought…
Unable to stop myself, I leaned down once again…pressing the side of my face to the bulge of Bella's stomach. She gasped, just as shocked as I was.
"He loves you," I whispered, dazed. "He absolutely adores you."
Through Bella's warm skin, the baby shifted, probably responding to my voice…I wondered if he understood the words at all.
There were tears dewing up again in the corners of Bella's eyes, and her smile had widened so much that it looked painful. I kept one hand resting on her stomach, right next to hers, and with the other hand reached up, tangling my fingers in her hair, meaning to kiss her.
The dog ruined the moment.
No! He shouted, his thoughts suddenly breaking into my mind for the first time. I'd fully forgotten he was there, but he decided to make his presence known at that point. No! No! NO! What…how? No! He was supposed to suffer! He was supposed to hate it! He…what? He loves it now? He can't! It's a monster! It's killing her, for cryin' out loud! NO!
Within a second, he was on his feet, vibrating like a tuning fork.
My head snapped up as well as Bella's. I realized what this meant – he hadn't heard the child. He couldn't understand…couldn't understand what I now understood. Couldn't see that it – he – was truly a person.
"Aah," I choked.
He didn't belong here. He was ruining this – ruining it for Bella, ruining it for me…for the child. He didn't belong in this moment. He never had.
I jumped to the end table, nearly knocking over the lamp in my haste to get him out of here. A key was sitting in the drawer, and I grabbed it, hurling it at the mutt without looking.
"Go Jacob. Get away from here." I kept my voice calm. This was as much for his sake as mine; he didn't deserve the pain of being here. I wanted him away, so we could all leave the pain behind…so it could return to a joyful moment.
Jacob grabbed the keys without looking, disappearing through the door within the next second. His mind was still whirling in a panic as he tore to the garage, putting the distance between us quickly.
It was entirely silent for several heartbeats. The first sound I heard was the tiny, indistinct thoughts of the baby.
Sound? He was alarmed by the silence, wondering where the nice sound had gone.
I returned slowly to Bella, walking at the same pace as a human. Her eyes were wide, still fixed on the door. I knelt down next to her, one hand reaching to her face, the other once again drifting down to her stomach. "Are you alright?" I whispered.
She nodded slowly, hand circling her stomach. I placed my fingers over hers, kissing her softly…she was too fragile for anything more at the moment.
"Jacob…" she started.
"Jacob…will be fine," I reassured her. "He just needs to find…someone."
She was still watching the door, biting her lower lip. I smiled, leaning my head against her chest. Her heartbeat was still weak, but stronger than before.
"EJ is still happy," I informed her truthfully. It wasn't just a distraction; I was almost as absorbed by this new, impossible person as she was.
The grin split over Bella's face again, and she twisted her fingers into mine. "What's he thinking now?"
I didn't even have to peek into the baby's mind to know. "He loves you."
In the back of my mind, I sincerely hoped that Jacob found…whatever was out there for him. He had his own place in the world. At the moment, though, it wasn't here. I vaguely realized that Rosalie had disappeared. It was just Bella and I…the way it should be.
Bella and I…and a very small child.
Impossible, but true.
I kept our fingers twined together over Bella's stomach as I leaned forward, kissing her gently once more.
So…that's it. I needed to get over the frustration of losing a bunch of my pre-written chapters, so I wrote this out. It had been floating around in my head for awhile. How did I do? I know my writing is a little rusty – all this schoolwork is frying my brain.
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