Come Take a Walk with Me

Chapter Forty—Endless


The cabin around us rumbled and shook on its foundation that started to crack under the tremendous force that Bella expelled, her body's defense for self-preservation. I held onto her for dear life, groaning, her bones cracking as her petite frame shook in my hold. I tried to loosen my grip, but she held me firmly in her arms.

I sobbed against her shoulder, trying to whisper in her ear. "Let it take over, Bella. Try not to fight the venom."

"It hurts," she cried, tears falling down her cheeks, breaking what was left of my heart.

"I know, my love. I am so sorry."

Her hands shook as they rose to cradle my face, her eyes blinking rapidly as she fought the need to close them. "Still n-not sorry," she gasped. Not yet, she was not, but soon, she would wish for death. All the others, myself included, had wished it continually as the venom coated our insides with its poison. She tried to talk again and every word she said was ragged and breathless. "Love you."

What was left of my composure broke as I pressed my forehead to hers, wishing I had the relief of tears as I sobbed dryly. "I l-love y-you."

Minutes had passed when Carlisle felt it was safe enough for him to enter, Bella having remained quiet for at least a few moments. My gaze lifted to his as he stood near the door, and I could see how much it hurt him to see me suffering. He understood, though; if she hurt, I hurt, too.

"Edward," he whispered, stepping further into the ravaged cabin. A beam collapsed before him, raining a spray of plaster and wood fragments over our heads. I hovered over Bella's prone body, doing my best to protect her from the worst of it.

After the rubble stopped moving, he asked, "Is her shield down?"

I nodded, unable to say a word, too afraid that if I allowed my lips to move again, that I would scream along with my wife. Her cries barely muffled against my shoulder as her tears continued to saturate through my shirt. The arms in which she held me so close weakened and fell from my shoulders, forcing me to look at her again.

Her eyes were wide open, staring blankly at the star-filled sky through a gap of broken ceiling and roof. The tears suddenly stopped as she tried to keep the pain from her voice; instead, breathless words of her love for me tumbled from her lips in a chant.

"I love you. Love you, always. Love you. I'll always be with you."

I shook my head and tried to get her to look at me again. The chanting stopped. "Do not hold it in, Bella." For several minutes, that felt more like years, I continued to try coaxing her out of her catatonia. It made no sense; how could she keep from screaming in agony?

Carlisle tried again to approach the bed, curious and desperate to take her vitals. However, the movement brought a catatonic Bella back to life. It was another burst of her shield ready to inflict damage. My eyes snapped to my father, and he immediately shot across the room and out the door.

Instead of the deadly physical force of her shield, her mind opened for all of them to hear and feel what she felt. Tuned into my family's thoughts and actions, I heard as Jasper dropped to his knees hundreds of feet from the cabin, cradling his head and watching his wife. Alice remained suspended where she stood as if her body seized and refused to move except for the quiver of her lips as she screamed in agony. Carlisle was the most unlucky, the closest of my family, who received the brunt of Bella's gift, and felt all of her pain.

I could see the change in Bella immediately, her body relaxed in my arms, her heart rate returned to normal. This was not what we wanted. Her shield was using their energy to fight the venom.

"Carlisle, you must get the others and leave!"

"I c-can't m-move!"

I could not risk my cousins' help, for they would likely end up like Carlisle, Jasper, and Alice. I hated that I had to leave her for even a second, but I had little choice. If she continued to use her gift, she could burn away the venom in her system and all this would be for nothing.

I kissed her forehead and whispered, "Keep broadcasting your pain." I hated to ask her this, but if it would keep Jacob from attacking, it was for the best. Her fingers tightened for a millisecond in my grip as if she heard me and understood.

I ran onto the porch and threw Carlisle over my shoulder, running toward the others. I found Jasper and Alice near but within the perimeter of Bella's shield. Outside of it, Eleazar, Carmen and my cousins stood stock still, all desperate to help me.

From where I stood, I helped Jasper to his feet as he reached for Alice. "Stay where you are!" I growled and pushed my cargo toward my cousins. Carlisle and Jasper collapsed in Eleazar and Carmen's arms, as Irina and Kate supported Alice.

I turned to Tanya, the oldest of the Denali vampires. "Do not breach the perimeter. If you come within it, my wife's defenses will attack in some way."

"We figured that out when we saw that," Tanya said, looking toward the line that separated us. On her side of it, there was snow on the ground, and despite the cold, there were signs of life and vegetation. Where as on my side, the snow had melted, steaming, and creating more energy for Bella's gift to use to save her from the venom in her body.

I looked over at Carlisle as he sat up and stared up at me. "If she continues," he said, still trying to capture his breath. "Using her shield, she will burn up the venom in her blood before it has a chance to complete the change."

"What do you suggest?"

"You may need to keep biting her," he said, shaking his head. "Edward, you must prepare for the chance—"

"Do not say it!" I growled, my hands tightening into fists.

He nodded as he struggled to rise to his feet. "I dropped my medical bag on the porch. In it, is a modified diamond-tipped spinal needle in case her bones have already hardened. Fill it with your venom. It will be your last resort. I can't help you. You're the only one her shield will not openly attack."

"I will call with updates. Please, I know it is a lot to ask, considering what may happen when she's like us. But please, keep an eye out for Jacob."

"Alice has already informed us," Tanya said, nodding. "We will make sure the dog gets nowhere near the cabin."

"Thank you," I said, stepping back. "I must return."

My family watched as I ran toward the cabin, a high-pitch howl piercing the night, miles away. I knew Jasper would likely investigate, and would know how to handle the situation. My attention could not dwell on Jacob, because I had my wife to watch over.

~oOo~

I was gone for less than three minutes and found the sheets of the bed saturated with her sweat. She cried out for cold water and I did my best to make her as comfortable as possible. With nothing for her shield to feed upon, it had closed in around us, and her thoughts open for me.

It was unfortunate to have such access to her mind when she was in such pain. She broadcasted the kind of thoughts that brought me to my knees. If she did not need me to care for her, I would have succumbed to it, too.

I stripped her of her dress that clung to her moist, hot skin. In a few seconds, I had her shaking in my grasp, finding some relief under the cold spray of water. "Thank you," was her breathy reply, drops of water covering up tears, but the scent of them tinged the air.

Memories ran through her mind, each disappearing as if the venom attacked them as she tried to focus on one. The day she first saw me across the cafeteria, how she was embarrassed to have me catch her staring; yet, she was curious of the adopted siblings. Even then, she thought of us as inhumanely beautiful. As her mind moved onto the next memory, the last seemed to disappear like smoke.

When her body temperature finally went down a few degrees under the cool water, I did my best to dry and dress her. After a quick change of sheets, I held her close as she started to chant my name again in a breathless whisper. It was a way for her to focus on something other than the pain and to keep me from reading her thoughts. It worked and saved me from the agony of listening to her cry in her mind. She was doing it for me. Yet, I felt I deserved to suffer since I was the reason behind her pain.

"S-stop it, love," she whispered against my chest. I felt the minuscule bite of her nails against my side, her fingers tightening as deep shudder wracked her body. She added, "B-be worth it in t-the end."

I pressed a kiss to her forehead, feeling the heat emanating from her. She was getting too warm again. I wrapped my arms around her, using my own cooler body temperature to give her some relief. I relished her brief sigh before another shudder ran through her. She kept her verbal reactions to herself as much as she could but I knew if I was not with her, she would be screaming. I could smell her blood, likely from her biting the inside of her cheek. It was something I had done myself during my transformation.

I smoothed a hand down her back and started to sing to her. Hours passed much in the same way, but on occasion, she could not keep from crying out. Her fingers would tighten in my shirt just before she did, her eyes would close, and her teeth bit into the tender flesh of her bottom lip. In those agonizing seconds, I felt her pain as I held her closer and hummed a little louder, anything to help soothe her.

I knew they were futile attempts, because nothing made me feel better during my transformation. I only hoped she realized I was there beside her, where I would always remain.

~oOo~

Minutes passed like hours, and hours like months. A day had gone by and I did not know how much longer I could endure. It was pure agony to have your loved one, the person you have devoted your entire existence to, cry out in pain. Every one of her shudders, screams, and whimpers cut like blades, shredding my heart.

"P-please," she gasped, "m-make it g-go away." I gently rocked her body, as the bones that broke during the first few minutes of transformation started to stitch together. "P-please." Glassy, tear filled eyes met mine, her bottom lip quivering. "P-please!"

I could not look at her any longer, pressing my lips to her forehead as she started another torturous round of screams and sobs. It had been the same way since the morning, she would go through it until she was so hoarse and exhausted that she fell into a fitful silence. Twice, I heard from my family, keeping me appraised of Jacob. He had eluded them, and from what Jasper could figure out, he was using something to mask his scent and spread it out, in different directions at the same time. It made little sense.

I stopped counting hours eventually and started to talk about our future, since it seemed that my voice calmed her. "When you are able to be around people, I would prefer that we travel for a while before we attend school," I whispered against her temple, and felt the brush of her gasp and whimper against my chest. My shirt lay on the floor discarded, since my cool skin soothed her. "I want to share the world with you. Before you, I thought of certain things as beautiful, but with you beside me, they would be amazingly breathtaking." Her fingers tightened, the only form of lucid attempts for her to communicate. When she tried to speak, words of her pain tumbled unbidden instead and it was something she fought each time.

The phone vibrated in my pocket, forcing me to stop running a hand through her hair. I answered it wordlessly, unable to use my voice for anyone but Bella.

"It's official," Jasper said. "She's killed everything within her shield, except for you. You are okay, right?"

"I cannot even think about my hunger, but she has taken what she could from me without hurting me."

"In other words, you're starving."

"Yes." That did not bode well if I had to bite Bella again, despite the fact I had filled the syringe with my venom earlier.

"Alice says that what Bella shared with you while you danced is coming to pass soon."

I should have figured that they planned for this call. Jacob could possibly hear every word exchanged between us; his kind had very keen hearing. When Bella and Alice saw the future during those short moments in the privacy of her shield, they came up with a plan.

"Should I be worried?"

"Keep her close," he murmured. "Hold onto her tight, always keep a hand on her, and don't worry about the rest of us."

"Be careful."

"Always."

I dropped the phone onto the bed and held Bella closer, keeping myself alert. For the last few hours, her shield started to lose power because it needed more energy to cure her. The lack of energy was I thought the reason the venom in her system had started to dissipate. The shield only needed a tiny spark and she would be fully human again in hours. Her gift was winning and I knew I had only a few minutes to inject her or we would have to start the process all over again, and this time, it might kill her.

Careful with her exhausted body, I shifted until she lay in the middle of the bed. I kissed her soft lips once and repeated my request for her forgiveness. With the needle in my hand, I raised it, ready for what I had to do.

At the precise moment that my arm started to descend, the nearby window exploded inward, spreading wood and glass in every direction, like sharp little missiles. I shifted to shield Bella from them and held on to her as Alice had said to do. Whatever they planned, it would have to happen quickly, before the venom disappeared from her blood completely.

Jacob's wolf form stood before me, his mouth open in a snarl of large canine teeth, sharp and menacing. I kept a hand touching Bella's leg as I crouched lower, in position should he attempt to attack.

"Now, Edward!" Jasper roared suddenly from the doorway. He sprinted into the cabin, slamming into the lone wolf and sending them tumbling out the window again. Bella's body started to convulse as her shield attempted to use the new life it detected nearby to heal.

"No!" I turned, the needle still in my hand slicing through the air. I heard a whimper from Jacob and an agonizing groan from Jasper, her shield was already growing. My family stood at the edge, desperate to help. "Stay back!" If they helped, her shield would attack everyone, perhaps even me, and then it did.

My knees started to buckle at the weight that tried to push me away. Even then, in moments when I posed a threat to her, her subconscious was careful not to hurt me. I used that to my advantage and pushed against her, sending the needle through her sternum and into her heart.

For a moment, it seemed that time stood frozen, her eyes wide and disbelieving, staring at me with both admiration and horror. Then, it started up again.

She sat straight up, screaming. Suddenly, her shield fell, as it was too much for her body to take at one time. Her hands shook, hovering over her chest as she looked down at the needle sticking out of her heart, blood trickling from the tiny wound. Her eyes, gaunt and dark red, slowly lifted to mine.

"I love you."

Her eyes rolled back as she fell against the mattress, her body shaking as my venom spread faster than ever before. I heard a few of the others approach, now that the shield was down. The moment it fell, however, Jacob recovered and ran into the forest, with Carmen, Tanya, and Eleazar tailing right behind him.

"We're going after him, Edward. Kate and Irina are staying close, in case he circles around." Jasper watched me through the broken window as he rose to his feet, "One way or another, he dies soon."

I looked back at my wife, her hand in mind. "Bring him to me."

"Are you sure?" he asked, and Carlisle was unusually quiet.

"Yes," I answered as I looked for Alice for more answers. The shield was down and she should be able to see the future. "How long until she wakes up?"

"If you bite her like you had before, it should happen more quickly than the first time."

"I don't understand," Carlisle murmured. "Why is her shield not attacking us anymore?"

I looked down at Bella. "For a moment, before she passed out, I read her thoughts. Her body finally figured out that for her to be with me forever, she had to allow it to happen."

They left as Kate and Irina took watch on the front porch. I took a few minutes to clean up, not wanting my beloved to awaken to such a mess. It was useless. We would have to move into one of the other cabins.

I settled beside Bella, watching her eyes moving rapidly beneath her eyelids. Carefully, I removed the needle and dropped it nearby. Keeping my hunger at bay, I went to work and bit her in the exact same spots as before. Her blood no longer tasted like her own, it was a blend of us.

Within an hour, her hair had already taken a sheen that was unnaturally beautiful. The colors I had seen with my enhanced vision brightened slightly, making it possible for humans to pick up on some of the changes. It was happening faster than I ever imagined, her gift was actually helping to move the transformation along.

I started to believe. Bella never was meant to remain human, but to be what I was. Her body knew it now, and I finally accepted that this, us together, was always meant to be and there was no reason to fight any longer. Soon, my wife, my love, my life, would stand beside me—forever.


AN: Thanks to kyla713 for you help as always. I have this planned out for 45 chapters now, but that's subject to change if I get too wordy.