The steady, constant beeping was the first sound I registered. I kept my eyes tight shut as I tried to place it, fearful of opening them for reasons I couldn't quite name. I shifted, felt a tugging at my hand and the firmness of the mattress beneath me, and knew without doubt where I was.
I pulled in a deep breath, or tried to; the action was more painful than it should have been and I began to wonder just what I'd done this time. I came up blank. Slowly, I started to inventory the different aches and pains vying for my attention with each slight movement.
Leg. Chest. Arms. Hand. Back. Head. Damn. Was there a part of me that didn't hurt?
After a moment, I settled on toenails and eyelids. Those were all right. Not good in the grand scheme of things, but I'd take it.
Again, I started to search for a memory of what had happened to me. Again, I came up with nothing concrete. There were flashes, small flickers of images that made no sense. It was like trying to look through someone's drawn drapes. There were only shadows. Shadows that made no sense at all.
Fluttering my uninjured eyelashes, I opened my eyes to take in the room around me. Sure enough, it was a hospital room. Sterile, white, boring and uncomfortable. I was just checking what little of my body I could see without moving, and sighing over the cast, when a movement in the corner of my room startled me.
"You're awake," a soft, musical voice filled the room, and for reasons I couldn't name, filled me with tension. My body stiffened, my heart rate went into overdrive. I wasn't scared, not exactly, but it wasn't a pleasant experience either. The increase in my breathing was causing a little too much pain for that.
"Yes," I answered softly, feeling the pull of my head wound when my brows drew together in confusion. The voice had seemed to come from the dim corner of my room, but I couldn't see the speaker. That unnerved me even further.
"What's wrong?" the boy in my room asked, moving closer to the side of my bed. I gasped. I'd seen my share of the magazine photos that graced the lockers of my classmates, seen the boys they'd stared at constantly, the one's they'd make fanning motions with their notebooks over – their images of male perfection.
The boy in my room made them look like poster children for ugly.
But undeniable beauty or not, it didn't explain why he was here. Or who he was.
"Do I know you?" I finally said to the boy when he continued to move closer, my own unease over this stranger echoing in the increased beep of the monitors.
"Do you," he paused, blinked, "…pardon?" His brow now matched what I assumed mine looked like. Confused. And, I couldn't be sure as he was a stranger to me, but it almost looked like pain as well.
"Do I know you? I mean, do you work here or something, is that why you're in my room?"
He stopped moving towards me. No, he didn't just stop. He went completely motionless. I began to wonder just what sort of drugs they'd given me for my injuries if I was hallucinating this badly. People just didn't move like that, or stop moving like that I should say.
The boy continued to stare at me. Stare and nothing else; he didn't even blink.
And then he was gone. In the time it took me to blink my own eyes, the statue in my room had disappeared. As if he'd never been there at all.
With a sigh, and a mental note to ask my doctor about switching pain medications, away from the ones that caused visions at the very least, I lay my head back down and closed my eyes again.
Interlude – Edward
The fight, or rather intense but heated discussion, had gone on for hours once it became painfully clear that Bella's "fall down the stairs" had left her with more than the obvious injuries, though those were bad enough in their own right. Left her, in effect, with nothing of the last four months but a memory of arriving in Forks and then waking here.
For our part, Carlisle, Alice and I had stayed to our corner of the waiting area, letting Charlie and Renee tangle with each other and with the doctors about Bella's care.
Charlie wanted Bella home, surrounded by familiar things. Renee was having none of that, bringing up her previous brush with death-by-ice-skidding van as more proof that Bella was safer with her.
It had cost him, cost him dearly by both his thoughts and expression, but he had acquiesced to Renee and the doctors. He'd agreed to let her go to Jacksonville when she was discharged; and agreed, very reluctantly, to not mention anything about her time in Forks when she did contact him. That hit him like a blow, one I could feel all the way across the room. I knew how much distance they'd spanned in their previously strained relationship over the past months – and knew he was losing just as much as I was.
Not long after Renee had gone back into Bella's room to sit with her, Charlie glanced in my direction. I'd been prepared when he raised his head, bracing for the murderous thoughts he'd directed at me earlier – when he'd first caught sight of me in the waiting room. But that fight had already come and gone, Carlisle and I explaining Bella's abrupt departure and the reasons behind it, and our presence here now. Or, at least, the cover story of those reasons.
There was no rage in Charlie's eyes, though, when they met mine. No fury in his thoughts. All I saw, and heard, was empathy. We were both sitting here, losing her, and there wasn't a damn thing either of us could do to stop it.
I watched as he heaved himself out of his chair and walked over to stand in front of me. I didn't stand, giving him the height advantage and whatever comfort he could draw from it.
"I know my girl, Edward. She'll work through this, figure it out. She's a fighter."
He wasn't telling me anything I didn't know, though I would have thrown stubborn in there as well. Still, I listened.
"I won't have you jeopardizing her recovery by trying to push her to remember what she can't since the doctors say that'd be bad." The look on his face was a clear indication that he didn't agree in the slightest. "But if there comes a time…if she needs help…if she asks…well, then I guess it's fine with me if you try."
He seemed to have lost his affinity with words after that, his own grief at losing his daughter once again robbing him of even the ability to stand before me. He could only sigh, run a hand through his thinning hair, and nod once at me before turning and walking away.
I didn't think I'd ever feel as much in tune with Charlie Swan as I did in that moment.