Disclaimer:I don't own these characters, I just play with them. This story is rated M, and is not suitable for younger readers. Story contains violence, coarse language and sexual "situations". Please do not read if any of these things offends you.

Note: [Unbeta'ed! – all errors are mine ] | Please note: some creative liberties has been taken with the law in this chapter, please suspend disbelief.


Chapter 53, "Reunion, part 1"

Edward Cullen POV

The day progressed fairly quickly after my epiphany at the piano. I tried not to dwell on all the memories, and instead I tried to focus on the here and now. If I had been a better person, maybe I would have called Jessica and apologized or some shit, but I didn't. First of all, it happened months and months ago, and chances were that she didn't even want a fucking apology from me. Besides, popping Jessica's fucking cherry on my damn piano was the least of my problems right now. How could any of that shit matter when Bella was still missing?

I decided to take a walk after breakfast. I assured my parents that I wasn't going to do something stupid. What the hell did they expect me to do? Go to La Push? Yeah, because that worked out so well for me the last time. I told them this, of course, and something in my voice and demeanor must have made them realize that I wasn't kidding. I wasn't going anywhere.

I took a walk toward town, letting myself get lost in thought. There was so much shit going on, that I didn't even know what to focus on. Should I dwell on Sparrow and the possibility of never getting to see her again? Should I dwell on Jasper and the possibility of him never waking up again? Or should I dwell on my dad and Leah - and how some parts of their "plan" simply didn't add up?

I dragged my hands through my hair as I walked, then grabbed my neck, massaging it.

The more I thought of Dad and Leah, the surer I became that something wasn't quite right, although, I couldn't figure out what it was. There ball of doubt in my gut grew stronger the longer I thought about it, and I realized I was walking into some dangerous paranoid territory.

I re-played the conversation I had with Dad and Leah in my head, over and over again, trying to figure what the missing piece of the puzzle was. I was pretty damn sure there was more to their plan than what they let on - or maybe there was something in general that they were keeping from me. A part of me figured that their plan was a little bit too convenient - and messed up. How could they let Bella get even more hurt before getting involved and saving her? Where the hell was the logic in that?

I would have been lying if I said that the urge to run to La Push and go through every damn house wasn't overwhelming. I needed to get Sparrow back, and I didn't know if I could really trust Dad, Leah or the cops to do the job. What if they broke up the ritual too late? What if they cut too deep again? What if she bled out?

Or better yet, what if they changed the location of the ceremony? What if the cops didn't find them at all?

I didn't know what to do - other than to stay put. I knew that running after Sparrow now would be a disaster waiting to happen. God only knew who I would end up hurting if I did. I couldn't risk Sparrow like that. I tried to seek comfort in the fact that they needed her alive - they would never kill her… literally, that is. They might kill her spirit, and will to live, but they would never physically kill her. Still, the possibility was there. They could still cut too deep. Just like last time.

The only thing keeping me from running to La Push like my ass was on fire was the memory of what happened the last time I did. Jasper got shot because I let my heart do the talking, instead of letting my brain do some thinking. I couldn't work on impulse anymore, I had to be smart about this, and there was nothing smart about running to La Push without a game plan.

Then again, how the hell was I supposed to even create a game plan in the first place if the people around me wasn't being honest with me? The fact that I hadn't gone insane yet was nothing short of a miracle. Although, what is it people say about insanity? Once you start going insane, you think you're getting saner. So maybe I was already insane?

It wouldn't have surprised me if that were the case.

I strolled into the hospital at noon - because where else would I go? Home wasn't an option. One of the first people I met as I exited the elevator on Jasper's floor was Emmett.

"Hey, man," Emmett said as he spotted me. He was grinning at me like the cat that got the canary. I growled at myself. Canary. Bird. Sparrow. "You've been here long?"

I shook my head as I fell into step beside him. "Just got here," I replied.

"I'm on my way to Jasper, wanna come?" he asked, still grinning. What the fuck was he up to now? I grimaced and shook my head. Emmett sighed and rolled his eyes. "C'mon, be a dude, man."

I quirked an eyebrow at him. "'Be a dude, man?'" I echoed.

"You know what I mean, c'mon, let's go," he said, nodding toward the hallway when I turned toward the waiting area. He grabbed my arm, practically dragging me down the hall, when he realized I wasn't coming with him.

"What the hell have you been smoking?" I muttered. "Why are you so fucking excited to visit a fucking corpse?"

For some reason this made him laugh, and he slung an arm around my shoulders in a friendly manner. We didn't talk as we neared Jasper's room at the end of the hall - the sound of laughter and voices got louder the closer we got. When we stopped right outside the room, I realized the sound was coming from inside. I looked at Emmett in confusion and he just grinned at me.

"Jasper told me to come find you," he said.

I gaped at him. "H-he's awake?" I asked, dumbly.

"You bet your sweet ass he is," he said, grinning even wider.

Emmett threw open the door and marched in, I followed him slowly into the room.

"Look who I found," Emmett said, nodding toward me.

I looked at the bed, seeing the head-part propped up so Jasper could sit.

I didn't meet his gaze.

I just couldn't.

Jasper's arms were wrapped around his tiny girlfriend. Her cheek rested against his chest, her eyes were closed and a big smile graced her lips. Rosalie was there too, as were their parents. Emmett stepped up to Rose, wrapping his arms around her from behind and she rested her head back against him. I glanced nervously at their parents, seeing their dad have his arms wrapped around his wife in a similar fashion.

Three couples. One single. I was the odd man out.

I wondered if I would ever get to wrap my arms around my Sparrow again.

I took a deep breath, slowly turning my gaze up to meet Jasper's. He half-smiled at me, and I could almost hear his thoughts. We were going to talk about it later - when we didn't have an audience.

"I think your mom and I will go talk to the doctors," Mr. Whitlock said. "Take it easy now, son, alright?"

He looked at Jasper, but I could tell he was pointing his words at me. A silent warning for me to not upset his son while he was in this condition. Like I would ever hurt Jasper more than I already had.

"How… how long?" I asked, frowning.

"Early this morning," Jasper replied, knowing what I was asking. "The doctors didn't want me to have visitors until they had run some tests." I saw Alice tighten her grip on Jasper, and he winced ever so slightly at the pressure. "We tried calling your cell, but you didn't pick up, so I asked Emmett to go find you."

"You okay?" I asked in concern.

"What can I say? Getting shot in the stomach isn't something I would wish upon even my worst enemy," he replied honestly. "It hurts like a motherfucker. It's like they made my entire insides explode." I opened my mouth to apologize, but he narrowed his eyes at me. "Dude, if you apologize, I'm going to crack your skull. And I'm going to enjoy it too."

I chuckled awkwardly and sat down on one of the empty chairs.

"Any news on Bella?" Jasper asked then and I shrugged.

"They have a plan, and if all goes according to it I will have my girl back by midnight. But… you know… I'm not expecting any miracles," I said with a quiet voice.

"Who the fuck are you?" Rosalie snapped suddenly.

We all turned our heads to her and she glared at me openly.

"What?" I asked confused.

"I said, who the fuck are you?" she said again, but didn't wait for me to answer before she continued. "How the fuck dare you act like you've lost all hope already? How dare you act like all is already lost? That girl is somewhere out there, fighting for her life, if what I've heard is true… and you have already given up? My brother got shot for her sake, and you act like he got shot for nothing? Well, fuck that, Edward. Fuck you to the darkest corners of hell!"

I had no words for her, but that didn't matter, because apparently she had a crapload more for me.

"Despite your behavior in the past, nothing comes even close to the way you're behaving right now. It's like you wouldn't even mind if Bella turned up in a damn body bag and taken directly to the morgue," she said angrily, basically spitting every damn word in my direction. As if every single word was poisonous and she needed to get them out.

"Rose, c'mon," Emmett said, stroking her arms soothingly. "Don't you think the guy has been through enough?"

"No, because all that shithead is concerned about is himself. He wouldn't even have given a shit if he had gotten my brother killed. All he cares about is how it would have affected him!" Rosalie continued, seemingly no end in sight of her rant. I sighed and got up from my seat. I didn't even bother to argue with her, I knew that she was right, to a certain extent. I walked past them toward the door, and I could feel their eyes on me.

"Where you going?" Emmett asked.

"I'm not wanted here," I said, trying to ignore the lump in my throat as I turned around to look at them.

"Damn right, you aren't," Rosalie continued to spit. "You can act like a fucking martyr all you want, but no one feels sorry for you. You put this on yourself, you heartless son of a bitch. You're never welcome here ever again. I wish the bullet had pierced your brain instead of my brother's insides!"

"ROSALIE!" We all turned to the door, seeing Mr. Whitlock and Mrs. Whitlock-Hale stand in the doorway. They both looked mortified at what they just heard their daughter say.

"It's okay," I muttered. "It's not like she's not right." I pushed past them into the hallway, keeping my eyes on the floor as I made my way down the hall, and toward the stairs.

I needed fresh air, and I needed it now.

When I finally got outside, the air hit me like a cold, brick wall, but I welcomed it. I walked over to a snow-covered bench, sitting down without even bothering to wipe the layer of snow away. The feeling in my gut couldn't be described as anything but dread. The picture of Bella turning up in a body bag plagued my mind now, thanks to Rosalie.

I shuddered - but it had nothing to do with the cold.

The raw pain in Rosalie's eyes as she spat her accusations at me would haunt me forever. I couldn't even begin to imagine how it must be like for her. Jasper may have been my friend - but he was her brother. What if the roles had been reversed? What if something Rosalie did ended up getting Emmett shot? Wouldn't I have reacted the same way?

I couldn't blame her at all, especially since I knew it was my fault.

If I had only kept my big mouth shut, nothing of this would have ever happened.

Hell, if I hadn't taken a leak, nothing of this would have ever happened.

No matter how you turned it around, it all came back to me and my mistakes.

"Edward?"

I turned my head, spotting Dad walking toward me.

"What are you doing out here?" he asked. "Jasper has woken up."

"Yeah, I know. But I wasn't welcome there," I replied with a half-shrug. "Not that I blame them."

He frowned as he stopped a few feet away from the bench.

"How are you holding up?" he asked.

"Ask me that question tomorrow, because right now I really have no fucking clue," I replied.

He sighed and looked away, his hands in his pockets of his coat. He was the picture perfect doctor. Such a fucking joke.

"There is something you're not telling me, and I don't fucking like it," I blurted venomously.

He looked at me with a frown.

"What do you mean?" he asked, cautiously.

"I mean that there are a crapload of fucking holes in what you told me, and I don't fucking get it. I'm not saying that you're lying, all I'm saying is that there's something you and Leah didn't tell me, and I want to know what it is."

"By this time tomorrow, this town will be a very different place," he said cryptically, looking out over the parking lot at nothing in particular.

"And what the fuck is that supposed to mean?" I snapped.

"It means that there have been things going on in this town that will have to be dealt with."

"Stop speaking in fucking riddles and just tell me what the fuck is going on!" I yelled.

"Edward, there is so much going on that I wouldn't even know in which end to begin. Things are still being investigated," he replied with a deep sigh. "I don't know much about how far they've gotten into the investigation yet, since I'm not a cop or authorized to know what's going on any more than you are."

"You need to tell me something," I argued.

"I've been in contact with the Mayor, and he has in turn contacted the FBI. The Forks Police Department will be investigated for criminal activity and corruption over the past year," he explained. "There, that's all I know."

"What? Corruption? And what do you mean criminal activity? " I asked, confused.

"The men in charge, Hank Amun and Charlie Swan, have been hiding and destroying evidence of illegal activities in Forks, all related to La Push and the Quileute people, for the past year."

I looked at him dumbly, trying to make sense of what he was telling me, but I was coming up short.

"When Bella was kidnapped, and I went in and talked to Amun, that was when I grew suspicious. He told me that he had already been in contact with the Mayor about the situation in La Push, and that everything was taken care of. There was something about the way he brushed me off that made me suspicious, so I decided to contact the Mayor myself. Good thing I did too, since he told me that they had no record of ever having anything reported about La Push. The issue at hand barely existed on his map at all. He had just found out about the kidnapping, but he didn't know about the reasons behind it or that the people of La Push was related to it," he explained further, scratching his neck and shaking his head as if he couldn't believe it himself.

"So the Forks police aren't going to be there tonight, are they? Like you said they would. Why did you lie to me about your plan?" I asked, my voice empty. "Is this your fucked up way of telling me that I'm not going to see Bella again?"

He shook his head. "Quite the opposite," he said. "You'll get Bella back." He stepped over to the bench, dusting the snow away before sitting down next to me. "I wasn't lying to you the other day, Edward, I was just… tweaking the details. You would be surprised at how cooperative the people of La Push are, especially now when they've reacted to the news of Bella."

I turned my head to him. "What do you mean?"

"They aren't sadistic people by nature," he began, "and all participants in their rituals are supposed to be there by free will. Nobody is supposed to be forced into anything they don't want. Their beliefs are no different than any other religion's. They seek what all people want, love and happiness. Their legends provide them with that. But obviously, things have gone terribly wrong with this one. Bella has made clear that she doesn't want to be a part of any of this, which immediately goes against everything they believe in."

"And they're finding this out… now?" I spat in frustration.

"From what I could tell from Leah, most people didn't even know that Bella was so reluctant until it was known that they had to kidnap her and force her into participating," he explained. "Also, it turns out, when Leah read one of their books a little more closely; it was told that the legends only speak of true people of the Quileute, and Bella has not an ounce of Indian blood in her."

I sighed, slumping in my seat.

"The loophole," I mumbled.

"Excuse me?" he said.

"Bella and I tried to find a loophole to the legend, something that said it wasn't speaking of her, but we couldn't find anything. I guess the answer was staring us in the face… she's not a Quileute, so there is no reason why the legends should even know about her. It makes total sense." I sighed and leaned back on the bench, dragging my hands through my hair. "The legend said that the daughter of the wise one will wear feathers that are not her own, and the closest we figured was that it meant that Bella wasn't Chief Swan's daughter, and that meant that she wasn't a true Swan… making her wear feathers which are not her own. The only loophole would be if she was in fact Chief Swan's daughter, because it would mean that she was indeed a true Swan." I shook my head. "It's all fucking insane."

He looked at me with furrowed brows.

"Yes, that's what I've learnt too," he admitted. "They believe that Phil Dwyer is her biological father. I'm impressed you came to that conclusion on your own."

"Don't patronize me," I muttered.

"I'm not, but I also don't think it's true. We will obviously perform a paternity test once she gets back. There shouldn't be any doubt about who her parents are. She needs to know who fathered her. For her own peace of mind," he said.

"You have known more than you've let on," I said. "Why the fuck didn't you tell us this shit sooner? We could have prevented all of this from happening… and why the fuck do we need to wait for them to cut her? Why not just grab her? Last time I checked, they've already done something illegal… they fucking kidnapped her and then they shot Jasper… what more do you need?"

He sighed. "The best evidence that we can get our hands on," he said. "And that's footage."

"Please, tell me you're not saying what I think you're saying… people will actually be there, watching and filming the fucking thing before they do anything? That's fucking sick!" I exclaimed.

"You know what else is sick? Letting these people slip through the legal cracks, and get back on the streets. You really want to risk it? It all comes down to evidence, Edward. It always does. It doesn't matter how solid the case might be, the most hideous of criminals can still get off without any repercussions because the evidence might be lacking in places. We need these people behind bars, not out on the streets," he explained seriously.

"It's still a fucked up way to go about it," I muttered. "What if she gets hurt?"

"It won't come to that," he reassured me.

"How can you be so sure?" I asked.

"Because the people of La Push don't want an innocent child to get hurt any more than you do. Bella will be just fine; you just need to have a little faith."

I narrowed my eyes at him. "How can you tell me that after all the shit that has happened to her? How the hell can you ask me to havefaith?" I practically spat the word at him.

He smiled sadly at me. "Because what else can I tell you, Edward? To lose all hope and prepare yourself for the worst?"

"You should have told us what was going on from the get-go. None of this would have happened. It's all your fault."

He sighed and stood up, dusting the snow from his coat. "I hope you'll see it differently in the morning."

"Don't hold your breath."

He didn't respond to that, instead he just walked away. I glared at his back, wishing I could read his mind. There was so much shit that he was still keeping from me, and I didn't understand why. What the fuck did he have to lose if he told me shit to ease my mind? What was the worst that could happen if he was honest with me? Everything he said was contradictions to stuff he had already said, and I wondered what he was hiding. What was really going on here? What was the truth?

If this was the calm before yet another shit-storm, I swear to God I would get Sparrow to agree on a murder/suicide deal. If shit kept piling up on us like this, then what the hell was the use in trying to overcome it? If there was no light at the end of the tunnel, what the fuck were we even fighting for?

Maybe I was wrong, and maybe Sparrow had it right all along.

Maybe death really was the answer.

Or maybe I could just grab her. We could take the Volvo and just drive until fate struck us with another curveball.

I snorted at myself. Yes, that plan was perfect, except from the small little detail of me not being able to drive without freaking out like a little bitch. I could barely sit in a car without it happening. And in the Volvo? Forget about it. I had ruined the Volvo, just like I had ruined my piano.

I groaned to myself, hating that I was even thinking it. I wasn't a damn quitter, and neither was Sparrow. She might not admit it, but she was a fighter. If she wasn't, she wouldn't still be here. She was a fighter and so was I. We could get past this shit together.

I just needed her back, and then nothing else would matter anymore.

So I guess I still had to fight a little while longer on my own.

Twelve hours to go.

"Tick-tock, motherfucker, tick-tock," I muttered.

x

Knowing the time when I could expect Sparrow to be back was almost worse than not knowing. This way I kept counting down the hours and the minutes - at one point I actually started counting the seconds too. I spent most of my time wandering around aimlessly in the park outside the hospital, just waiting for any news. I didn't feel like spending time with Jasper or the others. I just couldn't stand being in the same room as any of them right now. I could understand why Rosalie was pissed, and I really didn't blame her, but that didn't make it any easier for me to accept. Was this the final nail in my friendship coffin? Had they cut me out completely now?

Hitting Sparrow with my car, and acting like a jerk afterward, was me climbing into the coffin - getting Jasper shot, and almost killed, was me putting the final nails in it. I wondered what other fucked up thing I would do, in order to metaphorically putting my coffin in the ground and leaving me six feet under.

In the end, it didn't matter. I didn't need friends as long as I had Sparrow.

I wanted to slap myself silly.

Who knew you could grow a pussy in just a few weeks? I didn't even need surgery to make that happen.

It was almost eleven in the evening when I entered the hospital again. People around town had already started firing fireworks, and I didn't feel like watching them. I didn't see the point in watching if I couldn't share the sky with Sparrow. She would have liked it. I would have had my arms around her, hugging her back to me, resting my cheek against her hair as we both watched the sky light up.

It would have been fucking perfect.

But God forbid that we ever had that. We weren't allowed to have "perfect."

We weren't even allowed to have "good."

I wasn't going to watch the sparkly shit in the sky, because I couldn't enjoy them anyway. I wondered if Sparrow could see them wherever she was. Was she thinking the same thing that I was?

Despite not wanting to go there - I somehow ended up outside of Jasper's room anyway. The door was ajar, and all I could hear was the low murmur from the TV. There were no other voices or anything. I pushed the door open. I was surprised to find Jasper alone. He was flipping through the channels, and it didn't look like he was paying any attention to what he was seeing.

"I was wondering when you would drag your sorry ass back here," he commented, without looking at me.

"I'm an ass, I know," I muttered, walking around the bed to plop down in one of the empty chairs. "Where are the others?"

"I told Emmett and Rosalie to take a hike. She was being overly emotional and I seriously couldn't stand it anymore. I get that she's upset, but…yeah, too much is too much. I'm the one with the bullet wound. Alice is at home, because her parents didn't want her to be here at night… especially since it's not even visiting hours, even though the doctors said it was okay," he said, sounding tired. "And of course, my parents are at home because I told them to take a hike too. I went with the 'I need some rest' speech, and Mom disappeared like a bat out of hell."

"So how are you… you know… feeling?" I asked with an awkward shrug.

"Like piss," he replied honestly, and I appreciated that he knew that sugarcoating it would lead us nowhere. "Why the fuck didn't you just shut your stupid mouth? He was a loose cannon, anybody could see that, yet you kept antagonizing him. It was as if you wanted him to pull the trigger." I stared at him, and he eventually shut the TV off and turned his head to me. "I almost fucking died, Ed. You realize how fucked up that is, right?"

I nodded. "But you don't want me to apologize," I said, and he snorted.

"Of course I don't. An apology won't get you anywhere," he said. "We both know that an apology means shit right now."

"So… is this it? We're not friends anymore?" I asked.

His eyes practically shot fire when he glared at me.

"Stop being such a fucking martyr," he snapped. "Of course this doesn't mean we're not friends. You know I would jump in front of a bullet for your sorry ass, but that doesn't mean I'm okay with what happened. You are my brother, Ed, just like Emmett. The only difference is that you guys share blood, and we don't. But you're still my brother, so of course this doesn't change things." He snorted to himself. "But don't think for a moment that I will let this one slide… this was a major fuck up on your part. It's one thing to jump in front of a bullet for you, it's another to take one when you're antagonizing the shooter."

"I wasn't thinking straight," I said, even though we both knew that didn't even begin to cover it.

"I better hope for your sake that she'll come back in one piece," he said, his voice softer now. "I don't think I've ever seen you like that. I could feel the pain rolling off you… and between you and me, man, I don't think you would survive losing her."

"Tell me about it," I mumbled. "She's my fucking life. How is it even possible to feel this… intensely about a person?"

He chuckled humorlessly. "I don't know, all I know is that it is. The way I feel about Alice, sometimes it doesn't even feel human. Loving someone that much is almost painful, even when everything is good."

"I wouldn't know anything about that, since there has always been a big black cloud hanging over me and Sparrow. Nothing was ever completely good, there was always something we needed to worry about," I mumbled almost to myself. "Even when we were happy, forgetting about the shit that made her life hell, we knew deep down it wasn't perfect. We could pretend all we wanted, but in the end we should have known that we had to pay… and we did, by her getting kidnapped."

"You really think dwelling on it makes things better?" he asked.

"What else can I do, Jazz?" I snapped in frustration. "I can't go get her myself, because I have no fucking clue where she's at. And I can't go to La Push, because that probably means I will get someone else hurt… because that's what I fucking do, I get people hurt. So excuse me for dwelling on my extraordinaire ability to get people hurt no matter what I do. I'm a fucking screw up. Period."

He didn't argue with that.

I couldn't tell if that was a good thing or not.

x

I didn't even realize I had fallen asleep until I was awoken by someone grabbing my shoulder. I jumped in surprise, looking around confused.

"Wh-what?" I asked, groggily. Dad was crouching next to me and I stared him with wide-eyes. "What time is it?" I asked.

"A little after two," he replied quietly.

I glanced at Jasper, who was sleeping soundly.

"Is she… is she… is she here?" I asked, looking back at my dad. I was afraid to ask, I didn't like the face he was making. He looked too calm. "She fucking died, didn't she?" I said, my voice nothing but a cracked whisper.

He shook his head quickly, a small smile gracing his lips. "No, she's… well, I wouldn't say she's fine. But she's alive, and that's what matters right now, and yes, she's here."

I slumped in my seat as relief washed over me like a fucking tsunami.

"She was brought in a little over an hour ago, and I'm not going to lie to you, Edward, she was in bad condition," he said, seriously. "But we got her in time, and we've done what we could. All we can do now is waiting, and let her sleep."

"Can I see her?" I asked, my voice still cracked and weird.

"Yes, that's why I came to get you," he said, smiling softly. "She's been murmuring your name ever since they got her out."

My throat closed up on me as I choked on air and a nonexistent lump in my throat. I tried to breathe slowly through it, and when I finally regained control over my breathing, I looked my dad straight in the eyes.

"Did they caught the bitch?" I asked.

He nodded. "They caught them all. They won't be a problem anymore. It's over now. Isabella is safe."

He stood up and I took a deep, calming breath before standing up as well. I followed him out of the room, and down the hall. He stopped by a door just a few rooms down from Jasper's.

"Is this it?" I asked and he nodded.

"I'll let you go in alone, I have a feeling you need to do this by yourself," he said, patting my back. "Be careful with her, she's been through a lot this week."

I put my hand on the door handle, not able to push open the door. I turned to him.

"How bad is it?" I asked.

"She's malnourished, she suffered from hypothermia and she lost some blood. Although, the amount of blood lost wasn't dangerous in itself, the combination of all things made it worse. We've done what we can do for her for now," he explained.

"Will she be alright?"

He nodded. "We expect her to make a full physical recovery… as for the psychological effects of what she's been through, well, that will have to be dealt with when she's ready as well," he said.

"Dr. Cullen?" We both turned our heads, seeing a serious-looking man in a suit stand down the hall. "A word?"

"Yes, of course," Dad replied, before looking at me. "I'll talk to you tomorrow," he said to me, before walking to the waiting man and I watched them disappear around the corner.

I took a few moments to prepare myself before entering the room. I couldn't really grasp the fact that my girl was behind that door. All I needed to do was to open the damnthing, and I'd be seeing her again.

It was… surreal.

I was fucking glad that I was going to get to have my reunion with my Sparrow in private. I didn't want someone looking over my shoulder for this. I had a feeling this could go in all kinds of directions, also I knew that either direction would end up with me crying like a bitch.

Damnit.

I took one last deep, calming breath, before opening the door and slipping inside.

The sight of my girl almost crumbled me on the spot. Slowly, and on shaky legs, I managed to reach the bed.

If it weren't for the steady up and downs of her chest, I would have thought she was dead. She was unnaturally pale, almost fucking blue. She looked so sick. I didn't even glance at the visiting chairs by the window, instead I climbed right onto the bed, lying on my side and propping my head up on my hand. I needed to be close to her.

I reached out to touch her hair, it was as silky and smooth as ever, but with a weird texture to it. Like hair-product. Her arms were wrapped in gauze again. I was glad I that I didn't know the full extent of her wounds.

The sound of the occasional firework was heard outside, as the celebration of the New Year continued - but I couldn't have been more unaware. The third world war could have broken out right outside this hospital, and I wouldn't have noticed when the ceiling came tumbling down. All because of the girl that lay beside me in this hospital bed.

I brought her knuckles to my lips, kissing them. I remembered the first time I kissed her knuckles, how innocent our relationship was. A big confusing secret. We didn't know what we were or what the hell we were doing, and we most definitely didn't know where the hell we were headed. If I had known then, what I knew now, I wouldn't have kissed her knuckles. I would have kissed her beautiful, plump lips. I would have kissed every inch of her skin. If I had known, I would have made her mine right then and there. I hated that it took so long for us to realize that we were never meant to become friends - we were meant to be soulmates. It was fucking destiny. It all was. It was fate that brought us here.

I thought about what my dad told me - how she had said my name.

She asked for me. Even on the brink of death, she asked for me.

I pressed my lips against her cold knuckles again, keeping them there.

I couldn't find it in me to move from her side, and I couldn't remove my hand from hers. I couldn'tnot touch her. It felt like I would lose her if I ever lost skin to skin contact with her. I never wanted to let her out of my sight again.

Never.

This time I was going to do it right. I was going to keep her safe. We were never going to be separated again. If I needed to take a fucking leak - I would take her with me. I didn't care if that was a creepy thing to do - if it meant that I would keep her safe, then I guess she would have to accept that her boyfriend was a creep. A creep who took her to the bathroom when he needed to take a leak, and a creep who watched her sleep.

"I hope you'll love the creepy me too," I mumbled to her, and snorting to myself. I felt her fingers move in my grasp, and I froze. I stared at her hand for a moment, before looking up at her face. Her eyes were still closed, but I swear I felt her fingers twitch. "Sparrow? Do you hear me? You awake, baby? I'm so fucking sorry for everything, Sparrow. Please, fuck, just wake up so I can apologize… please wake up so you can yell at me… I need you to yell at me and tell me what a fucking screw-up I am. I need you to tell me that you… that I… fuck, Sparrow, just wake up."

Her fingers were still moving, and I watched her face for what felt like an eternity. She scrunched her nose, frowning as if she was in pain, and she took a shuddering breath before letting her eyes flutter open.

"Edward?" she croaked with a hoarse voice. The fact that my name was the first thing off her lips made my heart swell. God, I had missed her voice.

"Oh, I'm right here, baby," I said, adjusting my position so the hand I used to prop up my head, cupped her cheek instead. She met my gaze and I practically melted at the love that flowed through her eyes. "I'm never letting you out of my sight ever again."

Her bottom lip quivered and my own damn eyes welled up with tears. I couldn't believe I was actually holding my girl again.

My Sparrow.

"I-I love you so much," she whispered with a shaky and scratchy voice. "I-I'm sorry I almost gave up."

I didn't ask her to elaborate. I couldn't handle that right now. All I could handle was that she was safe. We could deal with the rest later.

"I almost gave up too," I whispered back. "But I knew you would have kicked my ass if I had."

She bit her quivering lip, looking at me with a silent question in her eyes.

"Would it be… be awkward if you… got under the covers with me?" she asked, biting down on her lip so hard I was sure she was going to draw blood.

"I… do… I… you… do you want me to?" I asked awkwardly.

She nodded. "I need you as close as you can get… I need to make sure you're really here. I've been dreaming of you all week… I… I need you close."

Broken and defeated. She sounded so lost. They really did manage to break her spirit. Even before we became friends, there had been a sparkle in her eyes, a fire that kept her moving. But the fire wasn't there anymore. It was completely gone. She was dead.

I reluctantly left the bed, so I could untie my shoes and kick them off. She held up the covers so I could climb into bed with her. I wrapped my arms around her - careful not to disturb the IV in her hand - and she cuddled to my chest. We both relaxed at the same time. I held her tightly, hoping that she wasn't hurt anywhere and that I didn't cause her any pain. She didn't say anything, or show any indication that she was in pain, so I assumed it was all right.

"I missed you so much," I mumbled into her hair.

She started shaking in my arms, and a soft sob escaped her. The sound broke my heart and I tightened my grip on her even more. I wanted to tell her everything was okay, but that would have been a lie of epic proportions. There was nothing okay about the situation at all.

"I thought of you ever day," I murmured. "I tried to come get you, but I didn't know where you were and… this fucking week all but killed me… I never thought it was possible to miss someone as much as I missed you. I've been so fucking worried. I didn't know what condition you would be in once I got you back. I'm sorry I didn't find you. I'm sorry I left you. I'm fucking sorry I failed you."

She tilted her head up and I looked down so I could meet her eyes.

"I'm… Jasper… I… I'm so, so sorry," she whispered.

I frowned and stroked some hair from her face. "How did you know about Jasper?" I asked. "Did the doctors tell you? What kind of sickos are they, telling you he… no fuck… are they complete idiots?"

"N-no", she said, shaking her head. "Jacob told me. He said he… he killed him."

My face fell at her agonized voice. "He didn't die, Sparrow… he was in a coma for a few days but he woke up earlier. He's fine."

She looked at me, afraid to believe me. "Really?"

"Yes, really. You really think you can take out Jasper with a bullet? Please, it would take a whole damn army to take out that motherfucker."

She laughed through her tears. My favorite sound in the world.

"I'm glad he's alright… but I'm sorry it happened," she said.

"Me too," I replied softly.

She clung to me, and let her eyes flicker to my lips. I licked them by mere reflex.

"Sparrow… would it be okay if I kissed you?" I asked quietly. She nodded with a sad smile.

"Please do," she said.

I cupped her cheek with my hand, tilting her face up so I could reach down and press my lips to hers. There was sadness to our kiss, it felt like we were telling each other goodbye when in reality we should have been saying hello. We were finally reunited, yet it felt like this was just the beginning of a permanent separation. I didn't like it. She was finally back in my arms, and I'd be damned if I ever let her go. I couldn't live without her.

She was my life now.

I sucked gently on her bottom lip before pulling back, resting my forehead against hers.

"Please tell me this isn't goodbye," I pleaded with a broken voice.

She shook her head. "It's never goodbye."

"Where do we go from here?" I asked.

"I don't know and I don't even care," she replied, her voice still scratchy and weak. She closed her eyes. "What happened to them?"

"Dad said they caught the motherfuckers, but he didn't elaborate on it," I said. "You want me to go and find out?"

She shook her head. "I don't want to deal with any of that right now… can we just be… us for tonight? Just… you and me… I don't want to think of anything that has happened in the past week… I really can't deal with that right now."

I nodded and closed my eyes, moving so I could rest my cheek against her head. We laid like that for a few minutes, just finding comfort in the fact that we were finally together and ignoring the fact that we might be separated again soon.

"Sparrow?"

"Yeah?"

"We're gonna need professional fucking help when all this is over," I said, not joking at all.

She sighed and nodded against my chest. "I know."

"Sparrow?"

"Yeah?"

"I love you."

I felt her press her lips against my chest, I could almost feel her smile too. "I know."

"Do you love me?"

She sighed deeply, turning her head up so she could look at me. "With every fiber of my broken being. I love you so much it physically hurts and it's the only thing keeping me together. You're my glue."

"We'll be okay," I promised her. "You and I will raise above all this fucking bullshit, and we will be just fine. You just wait."

"I would walk through fire, and go through hell, as long as you hold my hand through it," she said.

"You have already gone through hell," I said, smiling sadly at her. She nodded.

"And the only reason I got out alive was because I knew you were on the other side waiting for me."

"I'm so fucking proud of you," I said earnestly. "I might not know the details of what you've been through this week, but I'm pretty fucking certain that it wasn't pretty… and the fact that you pulled through, and never gave up, shows me just how fucking strong you are."

"Edward…"

"Yeah?"

"If… If I asked you to let me go… would you?" she asked with a quiet voice.

I pulled back and stared at her.

"Wh-what the fuck are you saying?" I asked. "Y-you wanna break up with me?"

"No! Not at all," she said quickly, her voice scratchy. "I just… I just want to know if you would let me go, if that was what I wanted."

I frowned as I considered her question. I wanted to give her an honest answer. The thing was, though, that I didn't need to think about it… at all. The answer was clear as fucking day that didn't need any extra time to think. I sighed.

"Why are you asking me this?" I asked quietly.

"Because I need to know."

"No, Sparrow. I wouldn't let you go. I'm too selfish. If we were a fucking Oreo cookie, you would be the white stuff keeping the two halves of my heart together. Without you, I would fucking fall apart," I replied honestly. "I could never let you go, even if you didn't love me anymore. I'm sorry."

She nodded as she considered my answer.

"Jacob would never have let me go either. Even when I told him there was no chance of me ever loving him the way he supposedly loved me. I told him where my heart was… and then he said that he was going to kill you if I ever uttered your name again. I didn't speak for days after that… I just couldn't. Your name was the only thing on my mind, the only word I ever wanted to say," she told me softly.

I cupped her cheek again, stroking my thumb over her delicate skin.

"That's the difference between me and Jacob," I said. "Because I would never threaten to kill someone you loved. If you told me that Jacob was the one you wanted, I would still fight for you, but I would never hurt or kill him… because I can't kill someone you love, because it would be like killing you."

She smiled at me.

"Good thing I don't want you to leave then," she said, her tone almost teasing.

"How about you though, would you fight for me?" I asked.

She sighed. "I want to believe that I would… but I honestly don't know if I could handle the rejection depending on my competition."

I frowned. "Competition?"

"Yeah, well… what if you figured that Tanya was the girl for you after all? That she could fulfill all your needs… she's pretty, she's beautiful… how could I compete with that?" she asked, sounding dead serious.

"I'm not that guy anymore, Sparrow," I said. "I wouldn't leave you just so I could get laid. Honestly, right now, I couldn't care less if I ever got laid again."

If we'd had this conversation a week ago, she would have rolled her eyes at me and told me I was an idiot. She would have said she didn't buy it because she knew I was a sexual being. But this was now, and she didn't roll her eyes at me. Instead she touched my cheek with her finger, and then traced my jaw.

"What happened to you this week, Edward?" she murmured.

"I realized that I needed to say goodbye to the old Edward… I'm not that guy anymore. I don't even recognize him," I said.

"For all it's worth, I'll love you no matter who you are, because you will always be my Edward," she said softly.

"And you'll always be my Sparrow," I said, returning the sentiment.

I pressed my lips to hers again, and there was a little more passion behind this kiss. This wasn't goodbye at all. This was a bellowing fucking "Hello, World, go fuck yourself" kind of kiss. She opened her mouth, surprising me by tracing my bottom lip with her tongue. I didn't let her wait long before I touched hers with mine. She moaned quietly and I pulled her closer, even though she already was as close as she could get. She let her hand get lost in my hair, and she gripped my neck to keep my face close to hers.

This was what I had waited one horrible, agonizingly long week for.

This was us.

We held onto to each other as if our life depended on it. As if the other one would disappear if we didn't hold on tight enough. The desperation seeped into our kiss and it didn't take long before she was crying again. She didn't stop kissing me, but I could taste the tears as they reached her lips.

"I love you, Isabella. I'm never letting you out of my sight ever again," I told her again, against her lips.

"I wish tomorrow didn't have to come. I wish we could stay like this forever," she murmured back.

"Whatever happens tomorrow, we'll deal with it together. We'll get through this one way or another."

"Edward?"

"Yeah?"

"Thank you."

"For what?"

"Saving my life."

I frowned. "I didn't save your life…I had nothing to do with it."

She shook her head. "That's where you're wrong. You have everything to do with it. The moment you decided to pick your friends up in Port Angeles almost two months ago that's when you also saved my life."

I smiled sadly, tracing her bottom lip with my thumb. "The night I hit you with my car." She nodded. "I think, in a fucked up way, you saved me that night too. So thank you."

"You're welcome."