Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 !-- /* Style Definitions */ , , {mso-style-parent:""; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";} page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} 1 {page:Section1;} --

So many reviews this time it blew my mind. You guys are awesome for sticking by me through this. Mega thanks to Steph, the female Tonto.

If some of this seems harsh on Charlie's part, keep in mind what caused it. He blames himself as much as Bella does.

Disclaimer: If I owned it, it wouldn't be fanfiction, would it?


Chapter 9 - There's a Science to Fear

I sat in the hospital waiting room slouching with my hands dangling between my knees, trying not to think. Talk about an exercise in futility. Since it was next to impossible not to think, I only allowed my mind to drift to frivolous things. Hours upon hours of reciting algebraic formulas, gossip I'd heard weeks ago from Alice, even trying to remember those crappy Broadway tunes Rosalie performed with the school's Drama department. It helped me to not think about the shouting EMTs, the ambulance ride, and the chaotic arrival at the hospital. If I did, I'd probably go crazy and start chucking chairs at the only other occupant of the waiting room – a teenage girl more or less my age who sat weeping loudly for what seemed like hours.

Where was Charlie? I'd called him in the minutes that seemed like suspended time as I waited for EMS. I shuddered as the acronym crossed my mind and the image of my mother as an unresponsive, awkward heap on the kitchen floor beside me, foaming at the mouth, forced it's way to the forefront of my mind and I willed away the uneasy feeling of bile in my stomach. Charlie should be here by now. God, he should have been here hours ago, what was keeping him? For all we knew she could be slipping away and he wouldn't be here.

"Bella," the hushed voice spoke above me and even though I recognized it, I couldn't be bothered to lift my head to meet the gaze I felt burning into me. He dropped into the empty seat beside me. I wanted to ask how he knew to come here, but school would have probably started by now. He would have seen my truck missing, ditched school, he possibly even called Carlisle to get hospital info. "I'm so sorry, Bella."

"Yeah." The carpet in this place was my main focus for the duration of my stay. It was the rough kind that cut your skin worse than concrete if you fell on it. On top of that, it was uglier than sin; slate grey with tiny pastel fibers blended in and beginning to fray. "Don't be."

"I know, what you're thinking. You can't blame yourself, you couldn't have known." Edward was leaning toward me, his voice hushed and gentle. It made me feel pretty fucking violent.

"That's so goddamn stupid to say Edward. Of course I knew. Of course, I could have fucking known." I snapped standing up – I needed to move. I started stalking down the hall and I could hear him following me. Reaching the end of a hallway I stopped as panic vibrated through my fingers and arms, straight to my spine. I did an about face and walked back to the waiting room; I'd need to be there incase anything had happened. It must have been bad because no one had said a damn word to me yet and I was scared shitless that this was it – that she'd finally offed herself because of that stupid fucking habit.

"Don't start this shit. You're so much stronger than the 'Pity me, I'm to blame' bullshit." He'd chosen the wrong tactic to try and shake me up.

"Shut the fuck up, Edward! Like you know so much about me?" I snapped, barely tossing him a look over my shoulder. A few people in the hall looked ruffled at my outburst. "Oooh you have a drunk daddy, I have a drunk mommy, we must be the exact same fucking person!"

He stopped dead in his tracks a few feet away from the seats we'd occupied before. I turned to look at him.

"We aren't even close to the same. If there's anyone here that's like you, it's my mom. I wish I could haul your ass back there and show you exactly where you will end up, but I can't." Edward had gone so still; the kind of still you go right before you have a mental break or beat someone to death. I wanted to stop but no-thinking Bella was firmly in place. "You'll have to settle for this. This is what everyone who ever fucking cared about you will go through. Just look at me, this could be your kids one day. Your wife, your friends, everyone will go through this someday because you are going absolutely nowhere, Edward."

He was so fucking quiet and still that I couldn't do a damn thing but wait for him.

"What the hell is this clown doing here?" Charlie appeared at my side, already shouting. Fantastic, another problem to deal with when I least felt like it. Edward didn't even blink in acknowledgement of Charlie; he was staring blankly at me. He was still catching up.

"He came to see why I wasn't at school." I didn't take my eyes off him as I replied to Charlie.

"Yeah, well this is blatant truancy, Cullen. You couldn't be more of an idiot kid. Get your ass out of my sight and back to school." Charlie was shaking in anger. Edward seemed to snap out of it and turned to Charlie.

"I came to support, Bella. If that means I have detention for the rest of my high school life, so be it." Edward was rapidly taking on a defiant stance and I could see Charlie's overenthusiastic signs of response falling into place. This was going to get bloody, fast – thank God we were already in a hospital.

"Stay the fuck away from my daughter, you little shit. If I see-"

"Edward," I bit out sharply. "Go."

"Bella, no. I'm not leaving just because Officer Fuckstick says so. I didn't do a damn thing wrong." I saw Charlie's hand twitch where it rested on his hip, presumably a contemplation of grabbing the night stick just inches away from his fingers and beating Edward to a pulp.

"Edward, no." My tone mocked his. "You're making everything worse and I don't want you here. Just fucking leave already."

I'd never felt more guilty in my life than in that moment. Edward turned his gaze from Charlie, hurt written all over his face. Beautifully done, Bella. The dismissal had the desired affect; Edward turned his eyes away and brushed past the both of us.

And as they say, and then there were two.

The waiting room was buzzing with tension and Charlie's obvious fury. I didn't even have the chance to start counting down the seconds until his tirade turned to me. He looked at me and it was like a dam broke inside him.

"Isabella Swan," his voice was slow, like he was willing the words to brand themselves onto my brain. "I will never, ever, forgive you if something happens to her. I hope you never forgive yourself either."

Fuck.

Those were the exact words I had been expecting to hear. I had told myself the exact same thing over and over for hours. I'd thought that by the time he said it (though part of me thought he would never actually say it to my face) that I wouldn't feel a fucking thing. Oh boy, I was so, so, so tragically wrong.

"Excuse…" it was like my lungs were suddenly rejecting air. I couldn't catch my breath for the life of me. "Excuse me?"

"This was your fault. I trusted you to take care of her, but you're such a selfish brat that you ignored her and let…all of this happen." I couldn't help the tears that sprung to my eyes. Accused, tried, and condemned in a matter of moments by my own father, no less. "Bella, if you weren't my own daughter I would arrest you for negligence right here."

"Fuck you, Charlie." I sobbed. This was absolutely unreal. I felt like the whole world I knew had been pillaged by an invisible force in a matter of seconds. This was topsy-fucking-turvy.

"Don't you dare speak to me like that ever again, you ungrateful little bitch!" Charlie shouted. I jumped. A few people in the immediate area jumped as well. "You're such a little monster! Your mother is lying in a hospital bed, possibly dying because you didn't do a damn thing to keep her from hurting herself, and you're acting like I should feel sorry for you?"

"How can you speak to me like that? I'm sixteen years old and I'm your daughter!" I shouted back at him. "You were the one who left her with me, like I can do something to stop Renee from doing what Renee does."

"You could have tried harder." His voice was low and he stepped closer, his eyes were dark with malice. "I saw the empty pill bottle in the trash and the container on the floor with less than half the pills she had still sitting in the bottom of it. I saw the bottle of whiskey, so big that there was no way she could have possibly hid it from us for long. You didn't even bother to check up on her, Bella. Do you hate her so much that you didn't even care? You didn't bother to make an effort to get rid of those pills the right way. You didn't find the bottle of booze that was probably sitting in plain sight all this time. You don't give two shits about anything that isn't yourself."

"Charlie, you didn't clean them up. You didn't find that bottle either. You didn't do a single fucking thing. How dare you place this shit on my shoulders!" My voice was rising to the point where I was starting to sound shrill and childish. I was sure, any moment, someone would come over and say something about us leaving the premises. "I'm just a fucking kid! What am I supposed to do, spend the rest of my life cleaning up your messes and your drunk wife when you are the only one insisting on keeping her locked up in the house all day? You're a real fucking winner, Chief Swan!"

I didn't dare let his words sink in on me. I knew if I didn't force the ideas away they'd take root. He had to have some of this blame. It couldn't all rest on me or I'd lose my mind any second now.

"Excuse me, Chief Swan." A deep voice cut through our yelling match. My eyes swept the hallway for a security guard or a swat team that would be hauling us out of the building. There was nothing but a few people lingering as they tried to subtly spy on the police chief's public brawl with his daughter.

"Yes?" Charlie's voice was abrupt, but worlds kinder than it had been moments before when addressing me.

"I'm Doctor Keenan. We spoke on the phone." He held his hand out and Charlie took it in his own for a brief shake.

"How is she?" Charlie's voice was laced with more emotion than I'd ever heard him put into anything but an argument with me or Renee. I wondered if under all that hatred and blame he was pumping out toward me, he felt as much self-loathing as I did. I turned my eyes to the doctor.

His eyes flickered down to the floor then back up to Charlie's and in that second I knew it. The knowledge tore through my chest like a ruptured fault line and I was sobbing. He hadn't even said a word yet. My legs shook and I dropped back into the seat I'd vacated earlier, so heavily it slammed into the wall, breathing so hard I was practically panting. I thought there were tears in my eyes, they burned badly, but no tears clouded my sight. My head dropped back, hitting the wall with a bang that I didn't feel as I stared at the ceiling.

The words poured out of the doctor's mouth like a stream of rehearsed lines I'd seen so many times on TV, and I had to keep reminding myself these were real words about my mom.

There was nothing to be done. There was too much preexisting damage. She'd been unconscious too long. Her liver failed. She was dead. I had killed someone. Negligent homicide was a crime and I was going to ask Charlie to cuff me up and lock me away forever. This was…too much.

I looked over at Charlie. Still as a stone; so much like Edward when I had said all those horrible things -- not enough -- a half hour ago. His face looked how I felt; like someone had just taken a wrecking ball to our home.

The doctor's monologue ended with apologies and a mention of paperwork. Charlie nodded solemnly and turned to look at me. His eyes were shining with tears. I'd never seen a look so cold pass between a father and child in my life. I felt chilled to the core.

That look spoke every word he'd said and more. Blame and hatred. Sentiments I mirrored and reflected throughout my body. Renee was dead and it was my fault. He knew it, I knew it, and soon everyone would. I would forever be Bella Swan the Murderer.

I watched Charlie follow the doctor down the hall leaving me in the dust, without even offering the chance to say goodbye as he surely would have. All for the best; goodbye wasn't something I could even think of saying.

So instead I ran, or walked, or floated, or flew from the building blindly.