A/N: Hello again! I thought I'd try my hand at some more Twilight fanfic. The last one was a bit of a flop -- I couldn't really go anywhere with the plot, and the mood just wasn't right. So, hopefully this attempt is a little more successful. As always, Edward, Bella, and Co. belong to Stephenie Meyer. Please give it a shot and tell me what you think; I always appreciate feedback.
Summary: The Cullens are the picture of the perfect American family: Dr. Cullen is a renowned surgeon, his wife a loving mother and talented architect, and the two Cullen children are popular, well-behaved, and studious. Behind the wealth and charm, however, the Cullens are hiding something – and that something will be uncovered by Isabella Swan when she meets a broken, troubled boy and learns that even perfection can be imperfect.
AU Human ExB; rated for drug use and violence.
NOTE: I've edited the first two chapters, thanks to the wonderful S.R. Devaste. Give them another read -- they're better, I promise.
He was dying.
I was numb, cold. People were talking to me, but I couldn't hear them through the buzzing in my ears. I was too tired to think, and I didn't want to sleep. Whenever I closed my eyes, I saw him.
I could feel the hard plastic of the chair under my thighs, and a little voice inside urged me to get up and move around. I had been sitting here for a long time. It didn't matter, though. I didn't think I could get up even if I wanted to. I wouldn't leave him.
God, I was tired. I could feel my eyelids drooping, and I was sure I looked awful. Alice would have my head for going out of the house without an ounce of foundation on. I could feel the sticky streaks of mascara that had dried on my cheeks. The soft satin of my blue cocktail dress was ripped and tattered under my hands; I hoped she wouldn't be mad at me for ruining the dress too.
My fingers brushed across something slippery and warm, and I looked down. Blood painted my palm, and my stomach heaved as I realized that it was his. Suddenly my head was between my knees, and someone's hand was cupped against my neck. I couldn't stop gagging, even though there was nothing left for me to cough up. My nostrils were filled with a horrible metallic scent, and all I could see was the blood. There had been so much of it -- my mind's eye replayed the scene I had been trying so hard to block: Edward, lying motionless on the bed; Edward, drenched in blood; Edward, in an ambulance with white bandages on his arms.
I retched so hard that my throat hurt. The hand was now on my back, and I realized dimly that it was my father whispering to me and stroking my hair. What was Charlie doing here at the hospital?
I could hear heavy footsteps thudding toward us, but I didn't look up. "Bella!? Chief Swan, wh-what happened? Alice said -- Edward. . . ."
It was Emmett's voice. He sounded scared. That wasn't right -- Emmett was never scared. If he was afraid, that meant that everything had really happened, that Edward had really. . . .
I didn't want to think about it anymore.
I could hear Charlie murmuring something, and then Emmett's shoes pounded a quick pattern on the tile as he left. A moment later he was shouting at the nurse who stood in front of the doors that separated me from Edward.
"I'm sorry, sir -- you can't come in now. Mr. Cullen is still in surgery. Please stay in the waiting area." The nurse was speaking calmly, and I vaguely wondered how often he had had to turn frantic family members away from their injured loved ones.
"I am not waiting!" Emmett exploded. "That's my little brother in there! Let me in, dammit!"
Charlie sighed, and his hand left my shoulder as he walked away. I stared down at the tiled floor. It was white. Why were hospital floors always white? Stains looked worse on white.
Now Charlie was back, and Emmett with him. They were talking and I didn't bother listening, not even when Emmett said my name. I didn't want to look at him, but my eyes opened anyway.
He was crying.
I turned my back to him and buried my face against the chair padding; the coarse fibers scratched my face and smelled strongly of disinfectant. There was a creak of old springs as Charlie sat next to me. His hand was on my back again, caressing me tentatively, but I shrugged away from his touch. I didn't deserve to be comforted.
Hours passed, maybe days passed, but eventually the nurse guarding the door moved away, and Dr. Cullen emerged from the dark room, his scrubs stained and his blue eyes swollen and rimmed with red. I blinked, and then Alice and Emmett and Esme were there with him, talking in a rush of words that I couldn't understand.
Charlie's hand was on my arm, and I glanced at his face for the first time all night. He looked grim and exhausted.
"Bells, come on. Come with me -- the surgery is over. Come and see Edward."
Come and see Edward. That got me up. I followed my father quietly, clinging to his hand like a little girl.
The Cullens had disappeared into the room, but when we walked in Alice came over, reaching for me. Her spiky black hair brushed against my chin as she hugged me tight. "Oh, Bella. Oh, God, the window. I didn't know. God, Bella."
She wasn't making any sense, but I squeezed her back. After a minute she moved away, and I could finally see Edward on the bed. I was glad that the white sheets were covering his arms; I didn't want to look at the bandages and be reminded of what he had done. His face was still, and I watched his chest obsessively for a few minutes, making certain that it was moving up and down in rhythm with his breathing. Satisfied that he was alive, I shrank back against the wall.
No one seemed to notice; they were crowding around the bed. I allowed myself to take a deep, cleansing breath. It smelled like Lysol in here too. My eyes were drawn back to Edward's face. Maybe everything would be okay. I would never get better, but maybe he would . . . .
We all stayed in the room, lingering around his bedside, and I wondered if the Cullens were afraid of the same thing I was: that if I left for even an instant, Edward would disappear.
Charlie went home when visiting hours were over, and the nurse let me stay after Esme insisted that I was a member of the family. I should have been pleased, but I just felt empty. Jasper came to bring some food around midnight, since none of us were sleeping. I couldn't choke anything down. Dr. Cullen tried to talk to me once; I ignored him. This was his fault too.
Around two in the morning, my eyes began to drift shut despite my determination to stay awake for Edward. I hadn't dozed more than a few minutes when a shrill beeping noise pierced my eardrums, and my heart stuttered to a halt. I knew that sound.
The room was in instant chaos. Dr. Cullen sprinted to Edward's bedside -- the machine recording his vital signs was flashing, shrieking and wailing with terrible insistence. The overhead lights flickered on as several nurses rushed into the room, one of them wheeling in a cart with all sorts of tubes and needles on it. I stumbled against the cabinet, unable to breathe, unable to look away as they jerked Edward's body up from the bed and pounded on his chest, forcing a clear tube down his throat.
I could hear Esme and Alice sobbing behind me as Dr. Cullen tried to resuscitate his son, shouting all the while for the nurses, for medicine, for the defibrillator.
The beeping stopped as the little green waves on the screen flatlined. There was silence for an endless minute as the monitor whistled long and high -- and then Esme screamed. . .and screamed and screamed and screamed . . .
I felt cold tile against my cheek, but I couldn't remember how I had gotten on the floor. Closing my eyes, I tried not to listen to the machine. I felt oddly peaceful. Nothing mattered except lying here and sleeping...and Edward. Where was Edward? I needed to tell him how sorry I was, how wrong I was. He would forgive me. He always did.
I'm sorry, Edward.