To the new readers; welcome! Hope you're enjoying this story so far...
To the old readers... my sincere apologies. This chapter is about a year and a half late. It's May right now... and I want to have this story finished by the end of the year at the latest. I'm a university student now :) it actually doesn't take up as much of my time as I'd thought... but that's not an excuse anyway. I will admit I've been lazy and inconsiderate to all of you who made the generous effort to review for me. I'll do my best to return the courtesy. Love all of you... here's another chapter.
There was pain. Everywhere. It hurt, but I didn't quite feel it as much as I knew I should.
I tried to lift my hand to my eyes. It was heavy, like I was under water. My fingers ached as thought I'd just come off a long, long flight over deep seas and dry lands, and my mouth was horribly dry. Realising this, my throat automatically swallowed and I started to cough. Still, my eyes wouldn't open properly. All I could see was tiny dots of light in odd places. The coughing was getting worse and I tried to sit up.
Then the pain was horrible. Fire was burning through my bones, clawing up the sinew of my muscles to reach my brain. Barbs of wire were strapped tightly around my stomach as I retched again and again, desperately lifting my uncooperative hands to pull the provoking object from my mouth.
A murky white blob appeared in front of me. There were new sounds, I realised, to accompany the infrequent beeping somewhere to my right. The voice was soothing, but commanding, and something inside me realised I needed to calm down. I stopped struggling and let the hands move around my face and head. At once, my throat was clear and I took several large breaths. Then I was pulled forward, something supporting my back, and when I fell back I didn't go as far. The thing behind me was soft. A pillow.
Soft. Like hands, and lips.
"'Cob," I tried to say. The voice murmured and I tried again. "Jay… Cob," I managed.
There was def silence, then the white figure was gone. A sudden rush of tiredness hit me, the beeping slowed down, and I could only see the backs of my eyelids as I slid back into the dark dream I'd been prison to for so long.
"She's awake?" I heard Charlie say from downstairs. Normally, I wouldn't have been able to hear even the commentary of his too-loud basketball games on the television, but tonight the house was horribly silent. No television. No sizzling of pans on the stove, or the gentle whoosh of the gas oven. The hum of the refrigerator sounded offensively loud in this place.
I'd been lying on my bed, on my back, with my hands by my side like some sick murder victim. I'd sent Edward away tonight… I'd taken up too much of his time. Every moment I was with him I felt guilty for stealing him from his family who, as much as I liked to deny it, needed his presence at least some of the time. He only objected three or four times before understanding that not only did he need to be with others, but I needed to be company to my own thoughts for a while.
Now I was sitting up on the edge of the bed. I didn't recall sitting up, just that I'd been lying one moment and was not anymore. I strained my ears for more information from Charlie, but none came. His footfalls did.
"Bella?" he pushed open the door after I listened to his feet hit the steps fifteen times. He'd only paused once on the way up.
I looked up at him, imagining what he saw. Me, feet planted flat on the floor, hands holding onto the edge of the mattress with unnecessary vigour. I knew my eyes were rimmed with black, my hair resembled a bird's nest and my clothes were wrinkled from sleeping in them for most of the day. At least my shoes were tied.
"She's awake," I echoed, not quite believing what I was saying. He just nodded. "Let's go then."
I had been in the waiting room. I barely left, the whole time hoping that something like this would happen, but never really believing it would. Despite my deliberate averseness to religion, I'd been praying a lot lately. Not exactly to 'God', but to something. Someone… anyone who could help Vanessa more than I could.
"You're Jacob, right?"
The nurse told me she was awake. I blinked twice and looked away, not believing she was real. I think I frightened her quite a lot because when I looked back and realised she was still standing there, still giving me the same information; I jumped out of my seat and practically shook her by the shoulders.
"What's she saying? Is she okay? Are there any problems? Can I see her?"
The nurse adjusted her glasses and stepped back, picking up the folder that'd fallen from her hands.
"She's very delicate. You must understand that we're not sure what she remembers – if she knows who she is. I've given her a very small adrenaline shot to help her brain wake up. And she's asking for you. Protocol says we must do what we can to avoid upsetting people who've just come out of comas… so you may see her now." She didn't sound pleased with the announcement.
I stared at her for a moment. Her eyes were a watery blue, and she smelt faintly of cigarettes. An unusual trait for nurses, considering… but then again, I'm not one to judge.
Without another word I strode in few steps to the doorway of Vanessa's room. The nurse slipped in the other direction, fiddling in her pocket to reveal a packet of smokes before she disappeared through an exit.
Vanessa looked just as she had before. But then her eyelids lifted just a fraction, and I could tell she was looking for something. Warily, my feet carried me forward and I lowered into the chair by her side.
The hand closest to me was searching, her fingers crawling weakly across the sheets. I shuffled forward and touched her fingers to mine. She stopped moving them around but instead spread her fingers apart, so I slid each of mine between hers.
Her eyes were still searching. "'Cob," she rasped.
I pulled my chair closer and cupped her hand with both of my own.
"Vanessa," I said, my eyes starting to water. "I'm here." She kept looking around, becoming more agitated with her movements. Before I could stop myself I'd touched the back of my other hand to her face, and she turned to look right at me.
"Hi." The corners of her mouth turned up in a tragic smile, and she blinked at me.
I slowly flipped my hand to rest my palm against her cheek. "Hi," I whispered. "You scared me."
Her smile tried to widen. "Aye… yum sorry," she whispered. I leaned closer to hear her better.
"Jay-cob," she struggled.
My thumb traced her jaw, feather-light. "It's okay, shh, you don't need to talk."
Though she'd lost much of the control over her muscles, I still knew she was scowling at me.
"No," she said louder. "No, you… Aye needa tew… tew you… Aye wuv you…" she blinked furiously at me, clearly frustrated with her inability to speak properly.
"You love me?" I repeated, dumbfounded. She nodded slightly, watching me. I looked down at her in that bed, wires coming from every part of her exposed skin, the beep-beep-beep of her monitor droning on in the background. "I love you too, Vanessa," I said gently.
She smiled again. "Kiv me."
Raising myself from the chair, I kissed her gently on the cheek, the forehead, then gently on her lower lip. She was staring up at me, forcing her eyes to be wider so she could see me.
"Naw," she protested, squeezing my hand with more strength than she'd had before. "Kiv me, kiv me pop-are-wee."
My fingers brushed across her hairline, unintentionally passing over the stitches which ran through the shaved section of hair on the top of her head. My heart broke as my eyes flickered to them, then back to her face. She was so determined.
Gently, I leaned forward and touched my lips to hers. I was surprised to feel her lips move with mine. I tasted the chapstick she wore, thinking of all the times I'd secretly applied it for her when she'd been… sleeping. She lifted her tongue just once to drag it along my lower lip. We both shivered then.
It was short, but very, very sweet. She sunk back into the pillows, her hand still holding onto mine, and her eyes closed gently.
"Don' weave me, Jay-cob," she uttered in an exhaled breath. Then she was still, and quiet, but not asleep. Just resting. I pulled my chair around so I could sit comfortably with my hand in hers, resting on the mattress. She loved me. Whether she'd said it in a fit of passion at being alive or not, I didn't care. She'd asked for me, and she loved me.
The lights were very dim in her room. Jacob was sitting outside, his eyes focused on the ceiling and hands folded in his lap. But he had a small smile on his face – the only variation of expression I'd seen on him since the accident had happened.
Vanessa had asked for me, the nurse told Charlie and I when we arrived. Charlie'd gone to fetch coffees for the both of us to pass the time… but I knew he didn't want to hang around the doorway if Vanessa needed to tell me something private. He had always been good like that.
She was sitting up more than she had been while asleep. That was the first thing I noticed. Her eyes were still closed now, but the tube down her throat was gone and her hands were crossed over her lap rather than hanging loosely at her sides. There was quiet jazz music playing from somewhere in the room, which broke the silence, and I appreciated it all the more for that reason. The only thing making me truly uneasy was the shrill regulated beeps coming from her heart monitor.
"Vanessa?" I said quietly, sinking into a chair by her side.
She turned her head and opened her eyes halfway. She looked the way a normal person would if they were drugged up on a million different painkillers – dark circles under her eyes, each of her blinks was drawn out, her movements were slow and deliberate and she was unable to react quickly to anything. I expected her speech to be slower than what it was, though.
"Hi, Ber-ra," she smiled a small smile. "Aye nut mint tuh be taw-kin, bat aye want you tuh know sum-fin."
"Anything," I leaned forward and touched her forearm with mine. "Please."
She blinked twice, slowly, and looked up at the ceiling, then back to me. "Aye di-dunt die."
"No," I whispered, shaking my head and smiling. My eyes were welling and I sniffed.
She looked closely at me. "Sum-one eh-oo-s," she struggled to form 'else', "havs to die. Coz aye di-dunt die. Sum-one cwose to me wiw die, Ber-ra, cwose to you too."
I stared at her. She looked back at me with innocence.
"Goo' moo-zic," she commented lightly, looking back to the ceiling and closing her eyes. "Ber-ra," she murmured, then her breathing evened out and she was asleep.
"Bella?" I heard a voice from the door, but not a voice I expected. I whipped my head around, the tears in my eyes being thrown down my cheeks and my hand slipping away from Vanessa's arm.
Flowers in hand, Edward stood in the doorway, the light from behind giving him the outline of an angel.
"Charlie called," he explained, taking a step across the room to put the flowers in an empty vase at the foot of Vanessa's bed. "Alice too," he gestured to the waiting room, where Alice and Jasper sat with Jacob. Jacob was talking to Jake while Alice held his hand and a coffee in the other. I didn't see Charlie anywhere and assumed he was talking to a medical official of some kind.
Feeling like I was rising from a deep, deep sleep, I stood from the chair and warily took the steps necessary to be in Edward's arms. He completely enveloped me, warm, and he smelled so good and familiar, and hugged me tightly.
"She said someone's going to die, Edward," I mumbled into his arm.
He kissed my head, and rubbed my back. "No one's going to die, Bella," he whispered in my ear. "Everything's fine."
I held on to him tightly, wanting to believe his words. But something in Vanessa's innocent conviction had scared the hell out of me and I didn't expect it to go away.
So! Let me know what you think of the chapter, as always. Give me your best psychic-guesses :)
And the question for this chapter:
What is the most extreme part of yourself/habit/thing that you've changed for somebody you love? Doesn't necessarily have to be something in a relationship.