The Antique Ring
Chapter Sixteen: As I Lay Dying
"She's asleep right now, why?" I asked while gently pulling closed her bedroom door and walking out into the hallway of the upstairs of Chief Swan's house. "Did you get her blood test results back?"
"Yes," Carlisle breathed after a moment of silence, "Her results are back – I have been looking at them all day and all night, trying to see if there is something I've been misreading… but there's not. They're there in black and white."
"Carlisle?" I asked him while sliding myself down and taking a seat on the top landing above the stairs, "What are you leaving out?"
"It's nothing I am purposefully not telling you, Edward, I would just rather tell you to your face than to say it over the phone." He explained.
"You can tell me over the phone; we'll talk about it face to face later," I suggested softly as to not wake Isabella.
"Edward, I don't think that-"
"Just… please, Carlisle. I hadn't seen her for almost a hundred years, and now the reason for that is being held from me when it is available. Please, Carlisle, as your son… please don't keep that information for me."
I could tell he was struggling with himself; with words, as shuffling and long, gentle breaths filled my ears from across the line. "Okay…" He decided at last, "Okay Edward, but you aren't going to like it, and I must ask that you wait for your comments until after I am finished talking." Agreeing, he went on to tell me everything.
"Manmade venom?" I asked, "But, how? How is that even possible?"
"Edward, there's more," He said.
"The venom, while keeping her alive and ageless, also kept her healthy – for as long as it was being injected into her. But now – now that she is no longer receiving the synthetic venom – everything and anything that was in her system before her first injection is rebuilding itself and getting its strength back each day she goes without it." Keeping my eyes wide open and ears focused on nothing but Carlisle's words, I placed my closed fist onto the side of my head and pressed the phone tighter against my ear. "Her body, Edward, is not like yours or mine or any other vampire's – it is still human, and being so it will start to act more human than what she has been used to for a very long time.
"It will no longer ward off viruses or illnesses or physical injuries as it once did, but instead it will start to welcome them as any other humans' would. And, that being said, she is very lucky to be as healthy as she is with going as long as she has without an injection - after receiving them on a regular basis for as long as she did. Everything that is in her body will begin to grow strong and healthy, and with it she will…"
"Carlisle," I told him with my eyes now closed and head in my hand, "You just said the same thing in twelve different ways… you are still keeping something from me, I don't know what it is, but would you please just cut the wonder-words and tell me in plain English what it is you are still not saying?"
"Edward, she was abducted in February of 1918, and by being her doctor I already knew her immune system was stronger than others; it would take her five times as long to get a cold than other humans," He said carefully, "So I know that even if she was exposed to something her body wouldn't show any symptoms of that sickness for quite a while; by the time it would be noticeable to others they may even wonder – by not knowing about her immune system – what she had been exposed to and how she was all of the sudden sick.
"You were in the hospital, Edward, and she came to see you Christmas of 1917… you were dying of the Spanish Influenza and I begged her not to see you… but she threatened to look through all the rooms, there was noting I could have done to stop her from getting exposed. If not by you, than somebody else…
"Synthetic venom wasn't the only thing that stood out to me in her blood work; I've been burying myself in the results for hours, just willing it to vanish, to disappear…"
"I gave her the Spanish Influenza…" I said softly, weakly as I dropped my head away from my hand and looked down at my feet. "And now it's killing her…"
"Edward, I wanted to tell you in person."
"No, no," I shook my head while pulling myself to stand back up. "I wanted to know, and now I do." I half smiled, more out of anger towards myself than anything.
"I know you don't like discussing it, Edward, but you know the only way to save her," He told me calmly, "To keep her."
Walking back towards her bedroom I quickly flew open the door to find her spread across the floor beside her bed; covers torn about all around her – half still on the bed and her hair disarrayed as she pushed herself slowly into a sitting position with her hands. "Edward," She swallowed while looking over at me, but unable to force her eyes to reach up to meet mine, added, "I'm fine just – just dizzy all of the sudden." She told me, sitting up now and placing her open palm firmly against her stomach.
"Isabella…" I said slowly while walking towards her and dropping to my knees just before her.
"I'm fine," She smiled, laughing for a moment before silencing herself and throwing her hand over her mouth. I watched as she kicked herself to her feet and ran as fast as her body would allow to her door, and apparently deciding she would be unable to make it out her door and into the bathroom dropped herself beside her desk and pulled the trash bin into her lap.
With her face buried in the trash bin and crawled myself to her and bundled her hair into my hand and held it at the base of her neck as she vomited for the third time. I rubbed my hand slowly over her back and kissed her shoulder once before leaning my forehead down onto her. "Edward don't," She coughed while looking back at me with sad, pleading eyes, "Get away from me; I don't want you to get sick!" She rushed before slamming her face into the trash bin once more.
Once she was able to breath at a somewhat steady pace I pulled my head away from her shoulder and whispered, "Don't worry, I can't get sick."
"Whatever do you mean?" She asked with confused eyes, and I went on to tell her everything I had promised I would.
"But that's impossible," She said from my lap; an arm still clutched protectively around the emptied trash bin. "Vampires… they don't exist…" She said more to herself than to me, looking into my eyes, "They just… can't…"
"They do, Isabella, and I am one… I was dying, and Carlisle promised my Mother he'd do everything in his power to save me – he even thought, for a while – that she knew his secret." I told her softly while running a hand through her hair, "I love you, Isabella, and I would never ask you to give up your soul for me."
"Do you think," She wondered slowly after a moment, "That if your Mother truly knew about Dr- Carlisle's secret, that she still would have asked the same thing from him; about you?
"Souls… they are so… so… so…" she said weakly, suddenly, her head drooping slowly forward and her cheeks surpassing the paleness of even my own.
"Isabella!" I shouted, making her cringe her eyes and slowly lift her head back upright. She tried opening her mouth to respond, but no sound other than gurgles and barley audible words came out.
Pulling myself to my feet with her against me still, I carried her over to the bed and laid her down gently and thanked God for the Chief not being home from the station yet.
"Edward," She mumbled with tears, "Edward… I don't… I don't feel…"
"I know," I told her quickly, "I know, Isabella…" I added slowly while looking down at her weak, small figure. She was so frail and pale; I couldn't bear to see her like this, but I couldn't take away her free will, either. And just as I had been speaking to her telepathically, she opened her eyes and reached her hand out to take mine, weakly.
"Isabella…" I said tenderly before leaning down to kiss her forehead, and as my lips touched down to her skin I felt subtle little movements as she nodded her head. "Are you positive this is what you want?" I asked from beside her with our hands cradled together. Again, she nodded, and I took my free hand and slid back the hair so her thin, ivory neck was exposed. "I love you," I told her as I inched my head into her, "I love you, I love you, I love you Isabella," I told her repeatedly as my lips touched down to her neck, "And I am so sorry," I apologized softly before opening my lips and piercing into her flesh.