A/N: I've got big plans for this one, so I hope you'll enjoy the ride!!! Thanks to LittleLea05 to being my beta extraordinaire!!!
Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight, nor am I SM.
The rink was cold and more than welcome on this hot August evening. I hated hot weather. I much preferred to be cold than hot, and I wasn't sure if that was a reflection of my time on the ice, or why I was drawn to it in the first place.
Hockey was my life. I played for my college, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and I was already being scouted for pro teams by the time I was a sophomore. I'm a senior now, and more than one pro team is tripping over themselves for my attention.
I had the rink to myself. I loved the time alone on the ice. I couldn't explain it, but I loved the way the ice smelled, the feel of the icy cold air in my lungs, the scuffed up boards and glassy surface of the ice when it had been freshly Zambonied.
Here, I could just be me. No pressure from my mom about which team I would pick, no useless and vapid bimbo trying to hang on my arm, no rivalry from my teammates.
I smacked the puck hard into the goal. I didn't get the chance to do so often, as I was the goalie, and I found it somehow satisfying. Another good way to get my stress out.
Despite the hot weather, there was no one in the rink tonight, so I used the time to skate laps and perfecting my stops. Soon, much too soon, it was time to close down. It was one of the benefits of working closing hours. I could stay as long afterwards as I wanted. I shut down all the lights and locked up. I wasn't eager to get home, but I was also dog tired after teaching lessons all afternoon to five year olds.
I jumped into my Jeep and blasted the stereo. The Eagles fit my mood this evening. I wanted something mellow.
The light turned from red to green, and I started into the intersection, not noticing the Hummer barreling through the red light on the other side.
All I felt was blinding pain, and everything turned black.
The phone rang, mid-kiss from Edward. I groaned unhappily as he wrenched his lips from mine. I stared at the name flashing on the phone. Renee. It had to be something important; she never called me this late at night.
"Yeah, Mom?" I asked impatiently. Edward continued to distract me by nibbling on my neck.
"Bella, sweetie, Emmett's been in an accident." Renee sounded panicked. I pulled away from Edward, suddenly intent on this conversation.
"He's in surgery right now. He broke his femur and they have to fix it with metal pins and stuff," she said in a rush.
"Oh my God, is he going to be okay?"
I could hear her choke up as she replied. "Probably. I mean, it's not 100%, with infection and all… and he got a pretty big hit to the head… probably broke a few ribs, and his left arm, too. He's all broken to pieces." A sob escaped her.
Edward went to kiss my neck again, and I glared at him, pushing him away.
"Mom, please calm down, it's going to be okay, I promise. Well, I mean, I can't promise… but I'm sure he'll be just fine, that guy's a tree. I'm sure the doctors are doing everything they can."
"Bella, sweetie, you're the closest one to him. You're in the same town. Esme is headed to the airport now, but I need you to go to the hospital. Be there when she gets there. She's going to need someone, since Carlisle's at some conference and can't get a plane there until tomorrow morning. Please," she begged.
"Mom, of course, I'll be there. I'm going right now," I promised. "Please calm down, he's going to be okay. I love you, Mom. I'll call you when I get there."
"Alright," she sobbed, and hung up.
I smacked Edward hard across the arm.
"What the hell was that for?" he asked, looking pissed.
"That was my mom calling to tell me her best friend's son just got in a really bad car accident. I do NOT appreciate you trying to chew on my neck while she was crying on the other end."
"Oh, God, I'm so sorry, Bella. Is he okay?"
"Well, he's really beat up right now, and he's in the middle of surgery to fix his broken femur."
Edward raised his eyebrows in shock. He was in med school, so he understood the implications.
"I've gotta go to the hospital now. His mom is flying in and she's going to be there soon, and I've gotta be there when she gets there."
"Need me to drive you there?"
"Sure, thanks. I'm really sorry about this. I really didn't want this to be the way to end our date… I had much better things in mind."
"There'll be another time," he said.
We drove to the hospital in silence, and I kissed Edward goodbye hastily. I found the proper place to wait, and sat back in the quiet room. There was a painting of an English cottage on the wall, and I concentrated on the muted pastel colors, sleepiness pushing my eyelids shut.
Several hours later, a tearful Esme hurtled herself into my arms, fresh from the airport.
"Thank you for being here, Bella," she sobbed. I simply stroked her hair and let her cling to me as she cried over her only child's health.
I had been sitting in the surgical waiting room for three hours now, on the phone with Renee between catnaps. It was the first time I was actually glad Emmett and I had gone to the same college. He and I had never gotten along, no matter how much Renee and Esme tried.
We were just two different people. It was totally cliché, but I was the nerd, and he was the jock, simple as that. We'd never run in the same crowd, and had slipped into something like cool indifference leaning towards loathing when we were teenagers. Our moms had hoped we'd become a couple, but there was no way in hell that was ever happening. He always had a new girl on his arm, and I was a serial monogamist. The only two guys I'd ever even kissed were Jacob and Edward, and I didn't even want to know how many women Emmett had locked lips with, or worse.
The nurse finally emerged from the double doors, and Esme practically sprinted to her. I stood next to her, and allowed her to grab my hands and squeeze them tightly.
"The surgery went very well, and his leg is looking very good for completely healing, providing there's no infection. He's going to need a lot of physical therapy, and a lot of rest. And he's going to need almost constant care giving, the first few weeks especially."
I didn't really hear the rest because Esme's hands were squeezing mine so tightly that I was losing circulation.
I stayed with her in the waiting room until he was taken to a recovery room and she was allowed to go see him. I wasn't, because I'm not family, so Esme sent me home.
It was well after two AM when I got home, and I had five messages on my phone from Renee and two from Edward. I gave them a brief call to catch them up, and then fell into a dreamless sleep.
The next morning, I awoke to Renee's phone call. Everything was looking good with Emmett, and he'd only have to stay in the hospital for another few days before he could go home.
"And now here's the thing, sweetie. Esme has to come back for work, and they won't let her take the time off, and Emmett needs a lot of care."
"Yeah, I remember the nurse saying that," I said absentmindedly, stretching and moving to grab my robe off the bedpost.
"And Esme and I were wondering… well, you live so close by, and you kids have known each other for years… Do you think you might be able to move in with Emmett, temporarily, until he gets better?"
I froze. No, was the first thing that came to mind. I hated the man, and I was pretty sure the feeling was mutual. There was no way I was going to even step foot in his apartment, let alone have to… talk to him… care for his every need… Ugh.
"Can I think about it?"
"Of course," said Renee, but I heard her instant disapproval. I was supposed to have said,
"But of course, Mom, I'd love to! And by the way, we'll be spending most of his recovery time making love and planning the wedding, so be sure to call before you come over so you don't get an eyeful!"
I spent all day agonizing over it. On one hand, the idea of being with Emmett day in and day out for weeks was not appealing in any way, shape, or form. If I couldn't stomach the man when he wasn't in pain, how in the hell was I going to deal with him when he was whiney and needy?
And yet… I couldn't stop seeing Esme's devastated face when she rushed into the hospital. Renee's choked up phone calls. The years and years that the two of them had been best friends, how much a part of the family the Cullen's really were, despite how I really felt about Emmett. I couldn't punish them because I was so selfish. It wouldn't be right.
The guilt finally pressed down on me so hard I cracked.
"Mom," I said into the phone ten minutes later, "I'll do it. I'll help."
"Thank you, Bella," she sighed, and I instantly felt good about my decision… for now.
My head was foggy, and the world felt like it was spinning slowly when my eyes finally cracked open. There was this obnoxious beeping sound, and my entire body felt numb. I couldn't even lift my head.
"Emmett, honey?" said a faraway voice.
"Mom?" My voice cracked, and my throat was burning.
"Oh God, Emmett, sweetie, are you okay? How do you feel?" She was kissing my face over and over… I think. I could only groan in response.
I couldn't even begin to understand what was going on. The last thing I remembered was leaving the rink… The Eagles… my Jeep… and the rest was gone. All I knew was that my mom was here, magically in Wisconsin, and I couldn't move.
Not going to work for me.
"Honey, do you know what happened?"
I managed a very weak and hoarse "No," before I could see tears form in her wide brown eyes, and I hated I had even indirectly had something to do with it. Don't let my exterior fool you. I was a Mama's Boy down to my core.
She took an unsteady breath, and began. "Emmett, sweetie, you were in a car accident. A man ran a red light… and well, you've broken two ribs, your left arm, your left femur, and you've got a pretty bad concussion. You're actually really lucky it wasn't worse, you're lucky to be… alive." She barely choked out the last word before she burst into tears. The only thing I wanted to do was gather her into my arms and let her know I'd be just fine, but with all the drugs they'd doped me up with, I couldn't lift a finger even if I'd wanted to.
"Mom," I croaked, and she grabbed my good hand, my right hand. Unfortunately, that was also the hand filled with IVs, and I barked out in pain when she tugged on them.
"Oh shit," she exclaimed, uncharacteristically, and it made me want to laugh, which was a bad plan. Those broken ribs she'd talked about really ached like an SOB. "Honey, I'm so sorry," she said, brushing my hair away from my forehead.
"'S'okay," I rasped out, and licked my chapped lips, one bodily function I still had command of.
"Emmy Bear, go back to sleep," she requested, using my childhood nickname which I'd always hated but suddenly had great affection for.
"'K," I said, and hated how weak I sounded. I was Emmett Cullen. I did not DO weak.
"Dad will be here soon, rest until then," she told me right before I drifted off into unconsciousness again.
A/N II: I live for reviews!!!