Just for all of you wonderful people: Edward's first chap! Hope it's not too terribly unpleasant for any of your sanities, but you know me…I tend to do that quite a lot, don't I? Oh well. You also know that I love any ideas for future shots (be it E, J or Em). Let me know if you've got them!
My senses were dull when I awoke, my muscles tight and sore, my thoughts nothing more than an annoyingly empty hum. It took a few moments for me to realize where I was, and the minute I did I wished that I hadn't.
Opening my eyes for a few seconds, I slowly blinked in confusion to see the unusual amount of darkness in the ward. It had been morning when I had last looked out the window. I had only been out for a few minutes.
Groaning slightly in frustration, I wrapped my arms around my torso, rolling over onto my stomach and burying my face into the starched mattress beneath me.
I had given my pillow to Father.
I'd never gotten it back.
The quick footsteps of someone went by my bed. The clicking was eerily similar to a clock; one tolling down towards the end.
I licked at my lips, the dehydration even more magnified than before, though I didn't bother calling out for help and asking for more water. I knew that my voice wouldn't allow me to anyway; there was absolutely no point in wasting the energy to attempt the inadequately useless. Any efforts in trying to get even somewhat comfortable turned out to be wasted.
Somebody in one of the cots next to mine hacked loudly, splitting through my head.
Pulling the hardened sheets further up my body, I coughed into the fabric, the motion shaking through my body like a poison, hurting everything in its' path. My lungs ached, heaving air in and out in small, quick gasps, each breath burning as it made its' way down my throat.
I couldn't quite bring myself to care.
I was used to it.
Swallowing hard, I rubbed my forehead against the firm material, trying to clear it of some of the sweat that was making my hair stick to my skin. It didn't seem to make sense, that I was sweating and cold at the same time. This wasn't the usual cold though, like you get from standing outside in the winter for too long. This was a numb chill that raked all the way down to your bones.
It was an unnatural kind.
One that made me shiver from a lot more than the discomfort alone.
Another person gave a half wheeze from a few feet away. The sound was becoming all too familiar to me.
Gritting my teeth, I fought to hold down a second bout of coughs, hating how I couldn't stop them once they started. It scared me. Even when I ran out of air, I still couldn't stop to get some more. The fact that any second, I could die from a simple, everyday action, scared me more than I'd ever really care to admit.
I didn't want to die. I didn't want to have to say goodbye to everything I held so dear.
I wasn't ready for it yet.
I needed more time to prepare.
Then again, I had a feeling that fate wasn't going to be throwing it out to me anytime soon. I think it was finished trying to help me. I think it wanted me gone.
The chair that stood besides my cot grated against the floor as someone sat down, though I didn't bother rolling over. Manners seemed useless now. Instead, I just pushed my face further down, hoping that I'd pass for asleep and they'd just move on to the next person. I did my best to ignore the spasms of pain that shot through my lungs as the breathless, suffocating seconds went by, not willing to move to get more air. Because if suffocation was what it took to look like I was sleeping, I'd cheerfully take it. If suffocation would avoid civilized contact with someone, then I'd gladly accept.
I just wanted to be alone. Why couldn't any of them understand that concept?
My arms began to throb from the weight of my body lying on top of them, and I tried to force myself to stay still. Self-discipline was, above all things, a virtue I held dear. I was hardly about to let its' status in my life change, no matter how long that life may turn out to be.
The chair moved a little further towards my bed in a menacing sound. A moment later, icy fingers were being gently pressed against my neck, and I resisted the urge to flinch away. It seemed to burn my skin, where the normal temperature seared into the heat of mine, checking my pulse.
It was nothing short of absurd. Even when I appeared to be sleeping, they didn't care about disturbing me. I didn't understand why they couldn't just leave well enough to be. I was going to die. No matter how much I didn't like it, I had managed to get used to that fact. Why couldn't they? Why did they have to keep monitoring my progress as if there were some chance in the world that I'd recover?
I don't think even they had an answer. Unless it was all some kind of cruel joke, and God was in heaven, laughing right now.
No. God was probably crying.
Satan would be the one to get a joyride from all of this.
Their touch moved up the side of my face, slowly sliding under my clammy forehead, obviously trying hard not to jostle me; disrupt me more than necessary. They rested it between the cot and my temple for a long moment, sending a piercing throb through my skull, doing absolutely nothing for the migraine that was already in place, drilling further down. After an agonizing three seconds, I wanted to just scream at them to stop and leave me alone. Instead, I bit the inside of my cheek, clamping down hard in an effort to stay silent.
Finally though, at painstakingly deliberate speeds, they inched their way back, easing my head to once again rest on the hard surface.
I suddenly wasn't as thankful as I thought I'd be.
Of course, they weren't done with me yet. An instant later, my sheet was being pulled back from my body, carefully folded back at my waist. Another hand slipped under my shirt, just barely skimming my body as it smoothly trailed up under the fabric.
My shirt. I thought it had been a lucky thing, the fact that they had long since run out of hospital gowns by the time we arrived. I got to keep my own clothes—die in them, however small a comfort it really was. It was laughable, how I was so ignorant only a few days ago. That I had thought I'd actually care about my wardrobe after a few hours of lying in this hell was completely ludicrous.
I couldn't stop my stomach from digging into the cushion beneath me as the frozen metal of a stethoscope was lightly placed against the back of my ribcage, the chills it caused shooting through me like electric jolts. Sixteen long heartbeats loudly banged inside my head before they finally broke the contact, letting the cotton fall back against my sweaty skin, immediately beginning to stick once more.
That's when they moved to my arm.
Before I had the chance to process what they were doing, their firm grip was around my bicep, carefully nudging my arm from beneath my stomach. The gentle tugging didn't stop until they had the full length of it, and as soon as they did, they began to vigilantly roll up my sleeve, ignoring how it was halfway dry pasted to my skin.
I yanked it from their tender hold.
Not caring if they thought I was asleep or not anymore, I stuffed it back under me, my muscles tensing at the prospect of letting them have it again.
I should have figured this was why they were back.
The atmosphere was a rigid silence for a long moment, me holding my breath, them waiting for me to make another movement. When I didn't, I could sense them relaxing a bit from their startled freeze.
My muscles automatically flinched away slightly when the touch came back, this time slowly running through my matted hair in what I suppose was meant to be a comforting gesture. I tensed for a long moment. This was new. They usual kept the sentimental, personal gestures to a minimum. It seemed to be an unspoken of rule among the hospital staff; do your job, and your job alone. Try to keep them alive. Try to keep them comfortable. Consoling emotions wasn't in their line of duties, and that was a fact they seemed to openly respect.
So, as each strand raced through their fingers, I waited for them to leave; to stop in the solace like the others.
Instead, they leaned further in, their wintry breath hitting against the back of my neck. "Edward? Are you awake?" The voice wasn't the tired squawk of one of the nurses, like I had been expecting. My mind fought to recall where I had heard the seductively pleasant, chiming but low baritone before.
I came up in a blank.
I felt the bed deflate slightly as he sat down beside me on it. He moved his pacifying touch back to my arm, taking my elbow again, this time, somehow even more gently than before. I struggled with all my weak might to keep it set, away from his sight.
He began to tug.
"No," I automatically moaned, the burn rapidly shooting down my throat like fire catching on pine needles, destroying everything in its' path without a single hint of putting in any effort. I couldn't seem to find the appropriate concern of how I may have just destroyed any content anyone near us might have had. All I could do was hope they didn't blame me too much for it.
"Shh," he exhaled, rubbing his thumb in small circles against me, though he didn't let go. "It's alright, Edward. I'm not going to hurt you." As if such petty reassurances that I already knew to be true were really going to bring me any peace. "I'm just going to give you something to help with the pain, okay? It's going to make you feel better. You'd like that, wouldn't you?"
I hated the way he was talking to me; as if I was just some innocent child who couldn't understand words that were longer than three letters. It made me even more frustrated at their unwanted presence. It was bad enough having them just sit there, forcing attention onto me that I had made very clear in the past that I didn't want. Now they had to mock my capabilities of comprehension, too.
When I didn't answer, he pulled a little harder, though not nearly forceful enough to cause any physical discomfort.
I pulled back.
"Come on Edward. Just give me your arm son," he softly coaxed, refusing to give up on his apparent endeavor. The fact only made me more annoyed. Why was he wasting his time on me, instead of on the people who actually wanted it? It seemed unfair, the way he was forcing it all onto shoulders that didn't want to bear the burden.
Nothing ever seemed very fair anymore.
"No," I growled again in a muffle, quieter this time in a pitiful attempt to make it hurt less.
It didn't work.
He was silent for another long minute, and I could feel his eyes on my back, watching me. I didn't turn around to meet his gaze though. All I could do was clench my eyes tightly, welcoming the black abyss that suddenly lay in front of me. The darkness seemed to match my mood perfectly.
I don't know how much more time passed before his grip on me finally loosened slightly, though not fully dropping, and he gave a sigh.
It was cut off by the beginning of my sudden hacking cough.
His response was instantaneous.
Quicker than I had even thought was possible, his arms were around the small of my back and shoulder, flipping me to my front. He effortlessly moved me up into a seated position, one arm firmly set across my waist, forcing me to lean against him as they continued to cruelly come.
The pounding in my head accelerated when I felt the blood splattering my tongue, the jolt of fear the taste sent through me making my muscles tense in panic. I could feel my lungs emptying as I struggled for the air that wouldn't come.
All that went into my mouth was more blood. I half choked on it as I tried to force it back down my throat, ending up making more of a gag than anything else as the coughing only increased in power.
He brought a cloth up to my lips as his fingers rubbed against my skin, too urgent to really be of any help to my nerves. "Come on, Edward, open your mouth. Let it out. Don't try to swallow it." Without thinking, I did what he said, bending forward into the handkerchief and releasing the fluids as they continued coming up my throat in a vile way. I gripped tightly at the sheets beneath me, willing it all to stop.
"That's it," he softly encouraged, his praises doing nothing as my lungs began to ache more.
I needed air.
Only the coughs wouldn't stop.
I couldn't stop them.
And because I couldn't stop them, I couldn't breathe.
I grabbed desperately at my neck, realizing that the hot wetness that was streaming down my face were tears that I didn't know had been building. His arm tightened around me, holding me closer to him and surrounding me in a frigid polar that numbed my mind. His hand let go of my torso, moving up to my head. He tenderly pushed it into his chest, cradling it there and pressing the soft cotton further against my face. "Shh," he gently repeated. "You're going to be alright. Just hang in there. Stay with me."
My eyes clamped harder.
This wasn't how I had envisioned dying. A few months ago, I would have pictured it quite differently than this, had someone asked me. I had hoped it would be a distant battle field, somewhere over in Europe. Not held like a five year old in the steady grasp of a doctor who I hadn't even had the chance to see the face of.
"You're doing great. Just relax. Just let it happen," he murmured, somehow still audible over my loud choking.
I heard my heart skip a beat.
My fingers moved from their hold on the sheets to cling uselessly to his shirt.
And then it stopped.
I gasped, trying to lap of as much oxygen as I possibly could at one time, afraid that the spasms would all start over again any second.
They never came.
I waited for him to push me back down onto the cot and leave.
He never did.
All he did was clasp me closer to him, letting me heavily pant against his body as I completely collapsed against him, all energy that I had left giving way. I opened my eyes and stared blankly ahead, only able to think one single thought.
I almost died.
I almost died.
The tears streamed faster down my cheeks. I didn't weep though. I didn't make any noise except for my puffs. I just stared dead ahead with void emotions. There was no grief. There was no sorrow. There was no relief. There was no terror. There was no panic. There was just my breaths and my empty tears and the spasms that ran through my soul.
I could only imagine the looks we were receiving from those in the ward who took enough attention to notice us. Pathetic, was the only word that came to mind. Neither of us really seemed to care much though. He didn't let go, and I didn't make him.
I wasn't sure if I wanted him to or not. My mind refused to work.
"You're okay," he whispered, rocking me back and forth like a restless infant. I struggled for more air, tremors shaking my frame as I tried to process it correctly. "It's all over. It's all done. You're okay." For now, I mentally corrected, not really understanding my own thoughts. They automatically came, anyway, regardless of whether or not I was controlling them. I'm okay for now. And then it will all happen again.
I was going to die.
Just like Father.
Just like everyone.
He stopped rocking as my quivers began to calm, leaning back slightly to look me in the eyes. All I could do was stare at him the moment we did. I remembered him. The beautiful one. The one I had first thought was an angel. The one with the golden eyes.
The one who was hiding something.
I didn't have the vigor to be taken aback by his perfection though. I did in the beginning. Not anymore.
And so all I could do was stare at him, too exhausted to care.
His frown drooped even more when he assessed my appearance, and it seemed like an unconscious, reflexive gesture when his thumb traced across my cheek, drying it. I didn't bother pushing him off. I didn't really care anymore. Why not let them all pretend that they cared? Letting him just have his fun with me before the end finally came looked—at the time—like the quickest way for him to leave me alone. Being alone, without a doubt, sounded like the most blissful thing the world had to offer. Undisturbed peace. The words held more meaning now than they ever had before. "Are you alright Edward?"
My unclear gaze dropped back down to the sheets, my head falling further against him, the pure exhaustion hitting me full force once more. All liveliness had been sucked away, and in that one moment, I found myself fighting to stay awake.
I didn't want to sleep now.
"What day is it?" My voice came out foreign to me, outwardly reflecting the burning that continued to rave through it: hoarse and dry and scratched.
I don't know why I asked. It seemed to make sense somewhere in the back of my mind until it came out; partly because it was the only thing I could think to say. It was the only response that my mind was capable of producing. It was only after the dull words were hanging dryly in the stale air that I realized how odd it must have seemed to any onlookers. After my quickly ended breakdown, they were probably expecting something much more dramatic than an enquiry to how far into the week we were.
He kept his tone decidedly blank when he quietly answered. "Tuesday."
Tuesday? The last time I had asked, it was a very dismal Sunday, unless I had misheard the newly arrived patient who had mumbled a few slurred syllables back to me before collapsing onto the blankets set for them on the floor next to me.
The next time I noticed, they were gone. I never found out why.
"Edward," he restarted quietly, voice barely audible. "The nurses told me that you were refusing your medicine again today." The suddenly heavy atmosphere made his silent prodding for me to meet his gaze again unmistakable. I did nothing more than ignore it. "This is the fourth day you've done that. You need to start taking them." He hesitated for a long moment, his regret clear. "Otherwise I'm going to have to give it to you against your will."
I didn't give pay his words any mind. Instead, I made my lungs to breathe out one more word. "Mother."
He sighed softly, clearly not enjoying my change of subject, but answered nonetheless. "She's fine. Worried about you, that's all. She's resting right now." I let the words sink as deep as possible, soaking relief from me that I hadn't realized I bore, the simple meaning of them engulfing me in an unexpected moment of tranquility. She was alright. It was all I really cared about. All that really mattered anymore. Her health. Her safety. Everything else was trivial. Ridiculously so.
"Edward," he repeated, his apparently never-ending patience not wearing in the slightest. "Will you let me give you some?" It was rather funny, the entire situation. They all spoke of how none of their cures worked, and yet they had absolutely no problems forcing what they did have onto us.
My voice—barely capable of handling the lapping flames anymore—managed to whisper two more scratchy words. "I'm thirsty." Even before they were out, I was praying that he'd be able to understand them; decode them from their indecipherable state.
To my extreme relief, his next words came out steady and sure, not doubting at all what I had said. "Catherine?" he murmured. I looked up to see a woman standing at the patient across from us, her eyes sympathetic when she glanced at my face. I thought I recognized her from somewhere before, though I couldn't be sure; they all blurred together after the first few hours. "Would you mind getting us some water when you have a moment?"
Her eyes darted back and forth between the two of us, her mouth pulled down in a grim disapproval with the close contact. That didn't stop her from nodding however, already starting to walk briskly away, seemingly all too eager to help him. "Of course Dr. Cullen."
Cullen. That was his name. I knew that. Somewhere in my mind, I knew that.
It took less than a silent thirty seconds before she was back, glass cup in hand, the clear liquid inside it looking absurdly beautiful to my parched eyes. Dr. Cullen took it with a small nod and smile. "Thank you so much."
She startled me slightly by giving a small, uncontrolled giggle, her head impulsively bobbing before reluctantly turning away.
As soon as he had put the rim against my mouth, I began taking eager gulps, the cool diminishing the inferno of my throat in a way that I had doubted was possible. I suppose that was the main reason I felt like screaming when he pulled it away too abruptly, the relief almost immediately leaving, the blaze having absolutely no problem returning full force. "Easy there," he gently chided, ignoring the way my eyes stayed glued to the glass in a desperate want. "The last thing you need is to become nauseous on top of everything else." It was laughable, the idea that he actually thought I might care. Still, I forced myself to slow down when he brought it back. "Small sips," he reminded me when I pace began to quicken once more, his tone low but firm.
All too soon it ran out, my tongue licking the last drops from my lips as the unavoidable dryness began to return. It was worse than before; now I had the taste in me, the greater temptation. The very saliva that stuck to the inside of my cheeks was mocking me in impossible amounts. "More." I grabbed at his shirt once more, tugging with all the weak strength I had in an attempt to regain his attention.
"Shh." His hand ran through my thick hair once more, calming my suddenly frantic nerves. "Give your stomach time to process it. Let it settle before you put more into your system." I didn't want to let it settle. It seemed like the thickest idea I had ever heard.
The tendons in my neck—automatically constricting—seemed to back the thought.
"Edward, I need you to give me your arm now." I flinched against him, burrowing further into his side. I didn't want to talk about this. I didn't want to do this. I just wanted them to drop it like they were supposed to. I wanted them to forget it all and mind their own business. My wellbeing should have meant nothing to them. It was unbelievably annoying, the way they concerned themselves with it anyway.
When I didn't move, he shifted, reaching out and gently prying my fingers from his clothes, carefully gripping my wrist. It wasn't until he reached into the breast pocket of his jacket and pulled out a small syringe that I began to struggle against his grip, desperate to get away.
I didn't want this.
"No Edward," he softly reprimanded. I hated the way he said it; like I was a toddler, trying to touch a valuable crystal vase. Why wouldn't he understand? It wasn't that hard, was it? I didn't want this. There was nothing more to it than that. So why wasn't he leaving me alone?
He began rolling up my sleeve a second time, and it was nothing short of humiliating, how little problems he had restraining me in his steel hold. I thrashed harder, the precious store of energy inside me falling away into shattered pieces on the floor.
"No," I mutely cried out, the hoarseness of it scaring me. Fat drops of salty water began to stream once more, smudging my vision into an obscure fog.
He gently shushed me, though made no action to stop. "It's alright. It's just something to help ease the pain. It's going to make you relax."
"Let me go," I sobbed with all the little volume I had left, the gleam of the needle in the moonlight streaming in from the window at the end of the ward looking more cynical than the last time I had seen one.
I didn't like it.
I didn't like it at all.
When the bare skin of the crook of my elbow was visible, he hesitated, his tense muscles slacking the slightest, immeasurable bit. "I don't want to force you into this," he sighed, "but you're not giving me much of a choice."
My fighting steadily weakened before I couldn't hold on any longer, hiccupping slightly before crumpling in on my own sore body, bronze locks falling over my eyes.
It was funny, how extremely quickly tides could turn, be it in our favor or against it. A few weeks ago, I had my entire future planned out, beginning to end, no second thought to any of it. I would have been embarrassingly wrong in all of it. Restrained in a hospital bed by a god was quite different than the life of war I had scheduled. The end—my death—was the only thing even remotely similar between the two of them. On any other day, I may have even been happy that I got at least one thing right.
Now, I could have cared less.
"No drugs." It was my last, sad attempt at mercy, nothing more than the pitiful breath of a beggar. It hung, as pathetically limp as its' creator, for a long moment of silence, before a particularly loud hack from a man somewhere destroyed it.
Slowly, his hands loosened, finally dropping the syringe and instead moving to hold my chin in his palm, forcing me to tiredly meet his gaze. In the dark midnight lighting, his eyes looked far too ancient for the rest of his young complexion. "Why not?" His expression was pained, though I could hardly imagine why. What did he have to be hurt about? Or was I just misreading him, and in actual reality, he was pitying me? The second seemed the most likely. It was also the one I didn't want to be true.
When I didn't say anything, he ran his thumb across my jaw, the remorse clear in the motion. "Edward, if you don't tell me, I won't have a choice."
I clenched my eyes tightly, trying to push past the scorching blisters in my throat and find the ability to talk again. Every second though, that got harder to do. Impossibly harder. Somehow, someway, I managed to exhale the words he wanted to hear. "Makes me sleep."
He chuckled quietly, the bright tone sounding so completely out of place in this death house. He didn't seem to notice. "That's why I want you to take them, yes. You need your sleep."
I shook my head, unsure if I should just give up or not. I'd no doubt pass out soon anyway, despite how much I battled against it. It appeared to be an inevitable part of the circumstance I was in. But this wasn't what I wanted.
And I'd be damned if I just let it go so easily.
I choked slightly when I tried to speak, and he pulled me in closer, starting to rock once more in an even sway. "Deep breaths. There's no rush; just take your time."
I concentrated on his soft words, trying to regain control of my body once more. Just like my emotions, it all seemed to be spiraling away from me. There was no choice to it, only action. It wasn't a feeling I particularly enjoyed. Nothing was anything I enjoyed anymore. There was no happiness left in anything. All of it had been sucked from the world in a small flash. The very core of my existence had been stolen from me.
The whole point of it all.
"'M going to die. Can't miss anything."
He scowled slightly at the meaning of the sentences, his perfect brows pulling down low on his forehead. "I don't want you thinking like that," he said resolutely. "You're going to be perfectly fine, alright? You're not going to miss anything, because you're going to have the rest of your life to live everything out."
I almost smiled. I would have if I wasn't so worn out. Or maybe I should have been concerned about my appearance. Clearly, if he thought I was that slowly delusional to believe him, I had something to worry about with how people interpreted me. "Don't lie." Because it doesn't help. It doesn't help at all. All it does is destroy honor and dignity and hope.
"I'm not lying, Edward, I'm—"
"Don't," I mumbled. "Please."
Everything was completely still for a long moment, all except for my heavy panting. His debating finally ended with a deep exhale. "Alright." He dropped my face, moving it back to my arm. "But that doesn't change the fact of where we are. I can't stand around and watch you in pain when there's something I can be doing to help ease it. Physically and emotionally, that's all that's left. That's all you'll be missing." He looked at me with pleading eyes. "Please, let me end that."
Odd, how time passes so quickly when it's at a limit. I had never noticed it before. Selfish of me, yes. I only noticed that now; now, when it was too late to change anything. Foolish of me to let it all escape before.
I wasn't about to make that same mistake again.
"Can't. Miss. Anything." I mentally kicked myself when I discovered my eyes had drooped halfway closed. I was doing absolutely nothing to prove my point. A real pity, when one considered how hard I was trying.
Only he wasn't paying attention when he gave his last, dazed word. "You won't." He swallowed. "I promise."
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