A/N: Here is the piece I wrote for the Haiti Compilation. I'm posting it today to participate in the Reader Appreciation day. So "Thank You!" to all my readers. You've been nothing but lovely.
This is a little angsty.
"Bella...Bella, wake up!"
"Go away, Alice," I grumble. I pull my comforter over my head for extra "fuck off" emphasis.
"Bella, something has happened."
The serious tone of her voice makes me bolt upright. Alice never does serious. Shit.
"What is it? Oh my God, Alice! Tell me!"
"Honey, there's been an earthquake."
I keep pacing between the kitchen and the bedroom. It's the third Thursday in March. Match Day. The day Edward finds out where he is was placed for his residency. I told him he didn't need to wait when he got his envelope. If he wanted to open it with his classmates, he should. He said he'd wait until we were together. I keep looking at the clock even though I know he won't be home until six.
At six o'clock on the dot I hear his key turn in the lock. I freeze where I am in the kitchen and let him come to me. I know the instant I see his face, he already looked in the envelope.
I don't know if I'm screaming out loud or just in my head. I don't know how I end up on our couch in front of the television as news crews show the devastation that has left San Francisco burning and crumbling in the middle of the night. Our house phone keeps ringing. Alice answers it, but I refuse to talk to anyone. I am constantly pressing redial on my cell trying to get through to Edward. I only hear the constant drone of "all circuits are busy." I know I should stop trying. I know that he'll call me when he can. He will call me. He will. I put my phone down.
"You got into Brown, baby!"
I knew when I saw the envelope from Rhode Island in the mailbox that I was finally accepted into the Master's program at Brown.
Before Edward got his match, it was everything I wanted. When I was wait-listed I felt even better about applying at the University of Southern California. At least if I went there Edward and I would be in the same state.
"Maybe I should just stick with USC?"
"NO! This is your dream. Baby, it's just two years. We'll both be so busy, Bella. This doesn't change anything. You're it for me. We're forever. You don't have to give up your dream in order to have me too."
I look up through watery eyes to see Alice standing before me with a steaming mug of something.
I reach out for it and robotically drink.
I can't tell you what it is.
I'm completely numb.
"I miss you."
"I miss you too, baby, so much. But, you're loving the program, right?"
"I am. It's amazing." Getting my Master's at Brown is the right decision, even if it's breaking my heart to be apart from Edward.
"Two years, Bella. It'll fly by."
Alice is before me yet again, this time with the cordless phone in her hand. I didn't hear it ring as I am entirely absorbed in the footage being shown on TV.
"It's Charlie. You have to talk to him." I take the phone and whimper into it.
"Dad?" I croak, my voice rough from the late hour and disuse.
"Bells, honey? I'm going down with a team of rescuers from Clallam County. Have you heard from Edward? Is he at the hospital?"
"I haven't heard anything, Daddy!" I wail. I'm sobbing uncontrollably now.
"I'll find him, Bella. I'll find him, baby girl. Don't worry."
"Please, Daddy. Please, I can't...we had–" I stop as I can't go there right now. "I can't live without him."
"I promise, Isabella. I promise you."
"Dad...be careful. I need you too. I...I love you."
When Charlie tells me he loves me too I break into another round of tears. How can I possibly have any left?
"Merry Christmas, my love."
"Merry Christmas," I say, rolling over and kissing him even though I have morning breath. It's amazing what being three thousand miles apart for four months will render non-important. Neither of us care about the state of our breath when there is kissing to be done.
Edward brushes my hair out of my eyes, and I smile back into his. It was his green eyes that first captured my interest as he stitched up a cut I received my junior year of undergrad. When I miss him now, I finger the scar along my wrist. He promised it would barely show, that I had lucked out and gotten the best "stitcher" on call that night. I did luck out. When I asked him for his number he gave it to me.
He raises himself up to his elbow and pulls his grandmother's ring out from under his pillow.
"I love you so much, Bella. Marry me."
I don't hesitate for a moment to say yes.
I call Esme and Carlisle. Esme doesn't bother to check caller ID before answering and thinks I'm Edward. She and I cry as the understanding that neither of us have heard from him hits us.
Carlisle left with a team of doctors for San Francisco twenty minutes before I called.
Esme and I promise to call the other if we hear from any of the men we love.
I collapse with the weight of how much of my family is now in danger.
I cry at the Cullen's house saying goodbye to them.
I cry at the airport saying goodbye to Edward.
I cry the entire flight back to school knowing it will be three months until I see Edward again.
Morning has come to Providence, but San Francisco is still in the dark. I twist my engagement ring around my finger and remind myself that I will marry the man of my dreams in June. I will.
My cell hasn't rung in hours. I think people know not to call. They are leaving my line open for Edward.
March in San Francisco is not warm. It doesn't really matter. We don't leave Edward's apartment that often. He does take me to the Buena Vista for breakfast so I can have an Irish coffee. We sit at one of the large round tables and are joined by a musician and his girlfriend as well as three tourists from Finland. It makes me wish all restaurants had family style seating. I have a wonderful time and am so happy that in a little over a year I will call San Francisco home.
Thirty-six hours and nothing. I have only left the couch to go to the bathroom. I am sure I could use a shower, but I can't bring myself to care.
Buildings and historic neighborhoods have burned.
There are bodies covered in plastic being moved into emergency vehicles.
The Buena Vista fell into the street.
Edward has not called.
Summer is fantastic. I stay in San Francisco with Edward for the majority of it. When he's working, I use the time to research potential employers. When he isn't, we spend a lot of time in Golden Gate Park and have long discussions about the wedding. We still have not set a date. We both want something simple and decide that a ceremony in his parent's backyard after I graduate would be perfect. Esme and Carlisle are thrilled when we tell them, and I am more than happy to hand off all the arrangements to Esme. All I care about is that I get to pledge my life to Edward, not what people eat or what flowers we have.
I sense a flurry of activity, but I'm not really able to focus. There are giant boxes everywhere; Alice is placing blankets and clothes in some, and I see Rose putting water and canned goods in others. There are other people in our house, and I have no idea how they have gotten here. Angela is on the phone telling someone about how they can donate to the Red Cross through their cell phone. Jasper is sitting next to me on his laptop tweeting. He meets my gaze.
"Hey, Bells. How you doin'?"
"I don't know. What's all of this?" I ask, gesturing to the controlled chaos around us.
He raises and an eyebrow and chuckles. "This is Alice. She's working with the Red Cross, and this is a drop off location for Brown students. People are bringing clothes and food. It's been pretty amazing."
I find it interesting that I'm able to feel shittier about myself. While I've been immobile on the couch, my friends are doing something positive. I break into tears.
Jasper wraps me up into his sinewy arms and rocks me back and forth.
"Shhh, girl. It will be okay. He's all right. He's too ornery to not be. He's out there saving lives, babe. I know it."
This makes me cry even harder, but turns into laughter when Jasper tells me to take a shower because I stink.
"Alice, I don't know, it's more than I want to spend."
"Bella! This is your wedding dress. The one dress for the one day where you promise to love the one guy for you for the rest of your life. Get the damn dress."
I look at myself in the mirror and try to imagine what Edward would think of me in this dress. I finger the heavy silk and twist around to see the the back. Alice is right. I buy the dress.
I think it's been forty-eight hours since Alice woke me up. I don't want to look at a clock. I don't want to know exactly how long I haven't heard from Edward.
I haven't slept. I can't sleep when I have no idea if Edward is dead or alive.
I go back to my room and sit down on my bed. I stare at my wedding gown on the dress form Alice insisted I get for it. I tell myself I'll be wearing it in two months. I hope it's at my wedding.
I don't know when I started thinking about what I would do if Edward was dead. That downward spiral into insanity is one step away. I know all it will take is one call informing me Edward is dead, and that will be the end of me. I'll never recover. How we left things can't be the end.
"Bella. Christ. I don't care," Edward says with irritation. I know him well enough that even though I can't see him, he's pinching the bridge of his nose right now.
"Whatever you and my mom want."
"So, you don't care? You don't care about our wedding?"
"Oh, here we go. I didn't say that, Bella. Look...I'm tired. I haven't slept in thirty-six hours. Can't we decide this stuff later?"
"No! No, we can't. Your mom said she needs to know, so why don't you help me out here instead of leaving it all up to me? You know, I'm trying to finish my thesis, teach classes and graduate, Edward. You think I have time to be doing this either?"
"Is that what we're doing now? Who's doing more? Who cares more?"
"Why should we bother doing that? We both know the answer."
The silence that followed was wrought with tension. I know I crossed a line, but dammit, I'm busy too. I might not be a doctor, but I have obligations and time commitments as well.
"I'm going to hang up now. I'll talk to you tomorrow," Edward says.
I don't say anything. I just hang up.
That was only hours before Alice woke me up to tell me about the earthquake. It can't be the last time I talk to Edward. It just can't.
I didn't tell him I was sorry. I didn't get to say "I love you." I'd give anything to say it to him one more time.
I somehow fall asleep.
I don't know how long I have been sleeping, but the sun is shining in my eyes. I think I'm dreaming when I hear my cell phone ring.
It rings three times before I am able to move and reach for it. It's an unknown number.
An unknown number can't be good.
I press the answer button but say nothing.
I am unable to speak.
I am not sure I believe what I hear. It's entirely possible I'm dreaming.
"Edward?" I pause, my mind is reeling. "Are you...are you all right?" I whisper, still not quite believing what I'm hearing.
"Yes, baby. It's me. I'm okay. Oh, Bella..." His voice breaks, and I hear him crying.
"I love you, Edward!" I blurt out.
It's the only thing I can think of to say. It's the only thing that needs to be said. I will never take those words for granted again...because for two agonizing days I didn't know if I would ever be able to say them to him again.
"Oh Bella, I love you too. So much."
Edward is alive, and we love each other.
When all is said and done, that is all that really matters.
A/N: thanks to JMeyer for the beta and to my lovely pre-readers. Thank you to all that donated in order to aid Haiti in this terrible time and to MsKathy and manyafandom for getting this all put together. I truly love being a part of such a wonderful fandom.