"Are you all right?"
"Are you sure?"
I wasn't sure whether to belive him or not. I had not known vampires to get sick, but he was looking as close to sick as I could imagine. Nothing was wrong with him physically that I could tell, except his eyes had taken on this almost glassy film across the iris. And the circles under his eyes were a more prominent blue color. That didn't make sense though, because he had just gotten back from hunting and even if he hadn't, they would have been a more purplish color.
Edward ran a hand through his hair, dislodging mine, and sighed, reclining against my raised calves. I opened my knees and he fell back to rest against my stomach. He let his arms fall to trace patterns on my thighs beneath my sweatpants. I put my hands back into his hair and gently masaged his crown before I said, "You really don't look too good."
"That's new," he teased.
It wasn't that he didn't look beautiful as always, it was more like something was not right or normal. And to me (the girl who had spent her time memorizing every inch of his face without shame) it seemed very obvious. So obvious that I couldn't point it out. "You know what I mean." I said, rolling my eyes. I let my fingers fall to trace the shape of his ears.
"I'm fine." He leaned his head farther into my hands.
I slowly moved my fingers closer to his forehead. Maybe he'd have some kind of fever? Or would he be extra cold?
"I don't have a fever." He chuckled. It was moments like these that I thought he could read my mind but then I thought that I wasn't really being that discreet. I went back to massaging his crown and he chuckled again.
After a pause, I told him, "You don't look like yourself. Something seems off and I can't put my finger on it."
He didn't say anything, only leaned his head far back enough to look into my face. I wasn't imagining the glassy film like I had hoped and on closer inspection, his pupil was larger than normal, almost covering the gold until his eyes were almost black. The circles under his eyes now looked like a purple-blue bruise, as if someone had given him a good punch in the face. Like that was possible.
I traced under his eye, indicating, "Yes. This isn't right." He didn't blink as he continued to stare into my own eyes, even when my finger came dangerously close to the white of his.
Then he closed his eyes and ducked under my hands to sit up so fast that I didn't see it. The motion left my hand suspended in mid-air.
"It's not a sickness." He ran a hand over his face , rubbing his cheek with the heel of his palm like he was tired. "We don't get sick. I think I drank some bad blood without knowing it. It happens, but normally I'm more careful to not do that." His eyebrows puckered and then he smiled at me. "I suppose I was in a rush to come back."
I felt my heart stutter. Get back on track, Bella. "Bad blood?" I folded my legs under me, propping my elbows on my knees so I could set my chin in my hands. "Like toxic?" I tried to sound interested to keep from sounding panicked.
He shook his head. "No. We consider it bad blood when the prey is too sick or too old and the blood is thin. You could say it was almost watery and not very good for our bodies compared to young, healthy blood." He glanced at me. "I'm not disgusting you, am I?"
"No." Actually, it was interesting in an almost morbid way. Now that I knew his life wasn't in danger, or his non-life depending on how you look at it, it was a strangely interesting bit of information about him.
"Mm. Like I said, I've done this before, but I'm careful to not continue doing it. It's not a pleasent experience."
"Unpleasent like pain?" I asked.
"No. Unpleasent like uncomfortable. In an hour or two my body will either try to reject the useless blood or will try to accomadate to it. Either way, I won't be here when it happens."
"You're going home?"
"I'll have to."
"Is it because the bad blood will make you thirsty again?"
He shook his head. "No. Once we have fed, we've fed, if that makes sense." He leaned down to kiss my forehead. "I'll be fine by tomorrow."
"But that is such a long time for you to be sick."
He chuckled, leaning his forehead against mine. "I told you, we do not get sick."
"Well, not like humans do, with the germs and the rolling stomach and the vomit. But you are sick in a vampiristic way, right?"
He considered that a moment and the closed his eyes and gave a short laugh. "I suppose you're right." He took a strand of my hair and twined it around his finger. "Only you could figure out a loophole for creatures like us to be more human." Even glassy eyed, the look his shot me from beneath his thick lashes made me catch my breath.
After a while of comfortable silence, where I ended up lying back down next to Edward and him playing lightly with my fingers, I realized my eyes had closed and I was falling asleep. When I felt cold pressure against my cheek, I forced my eyes to open.
"Are you leaving now?" I muttered, rolling over.
"Yes. I'll be back in the morning before you even wake up."
I sat up, pushing my hair out of my face. "Hope you'll feel better." It was the best I could think of in my half-asleep induced state. What else could I have said even with a clear head? Drink ginger-ale and get a good night's sleep? Ha. "But I wish you didn't have to leave."
Through the haze of my blurred eyes, I noticed he looked even paler than normal and the corners of his mouth were tight. But what could I do? He would fight me over it anyway.
"I wish I didn't have to either. But I'll see you in the morning." He kissed me again on my cheek softly. "Sleep well." He whispered against my skin and then he was gone.
The absence of his presense was immediate even in my foggy brain. I rolled over to go back to sleep, wondering randomly what time I would be getting up in the morning. I remember falling asleep, I remember waking up once and going back to dozing. And then I sprang awake, sitting up straight in bed.
"What am I doing?" I asked out loud, throwing the covers back and swinging my feet to the floor. I searched blindly on the floor for a shirt to throw over my pajama top and ended up stubbing my toe on the desk, rattling my computer dangerously. Biting my mouth to keep the outburst in, I found a shirt and yanked it over my head, having trouble getting my arm out of the head hole and my right arm into the left arm hole. Once I was situated, I carefully stalked down the stairs and, in the dark so I have no idea how readable it is, I wrote a note for Charlie if I didn't come back and he woke up, saying that I had gone to Edward's, but left it for him to think I had left at eight in the morning instead of four. I cringed when my keys jingled loudly simoustaneously with the door slamming and held my breath, hoping Charlie slept deeply tonight as any other. When I didn't hear any sound from inside, I let out the breath I had been holding as I pivoted for my truck.
I winced when I realized how loud my truck was going to be and shrunk in my seat when it roared to life. I was out of the driveway as fast as my truck could handle and on the road, hoping that it had not woken Charlie or any of the neighbors.
Of course, my truck could only wheeze its way down the road, making it seem it was taking forever to just get down the highway. I sighed when I got to the almost deserted road that led to the forest trail road. I cut my headlights when I was in the driveway of the huge white house and jumped out of my truck, taking the steps by twos. The door was already open as soon as I reached the threshold, Alice standing there. Of course.
"He's upstairs." She said clearly, her eyes trained on my neck. For a moment, I thought she had not hunted. "You're shirts on backwards, did you know?" She grinned, though the meaning behind her words meant she was annoyed that I had not even checked myself before I came over.
By the sound of her vocie, I knew she wasn't going to let me in, so I struggled to fix my shirt. Eventually, Alice grew impatient along with me and fixed it herself, swiveling it around and even grabbing my hands for the right sleeves.
"Thanks. Can I see him now?" She stepped aside and then fell in pace beside me. "Is he okay?"
"The idiot went and drank some bad blood. Carlisle thinks it was of an old, sick bull." She rolled her eyes. "He should have known better."
"Is his body rejecting it?"
"More rejecting that getting accostomed to it." She sighed. "But, I suppose we can cut him some slack seeing as how it was just in his haste to get back to you." She winked. "He does small, silly things like that when it concerns you."
Though her teasing was harmless, I felt a pit in my belly because I had been the cause of it.
Alice scoffed. "If you tell him you're sorry because it's your fault, I'll come drag you out myself." She stopped on the landing. "So, I'll leave you here." She shrugged. "If you need anything, just call." She winked and left me staring at air.
Edward's door was closed and suddenly intimidating. It hadn't hit me until then that, maybe, I should have stayed home like he had wanted me to. But it didn't feel right to leave him sick without my support.
Carefully, I pushed the door open and peeked in. He was sitting on the couch with his head resting against the back. His eyes were closed and his breathing even, almost like he was asleep.
I stepped in and closed the door softly, taking uneeded light steps across the plush carpet, and reached out a hand to touch him.
"What are you doing here?"
My hand stopped mid-air when I noticed the corners of his mouth pulled up.
"I was worried about you." I said, letting my hand drop. "And I didn't want to leave you alone while you were... whatever this is."
He opened his eyes, lifting his head as if it weighed twice as heavy as normal. He pushed the hair off his forehead with his palm and sighed. His lips moved but I didn't hear what he said; from downstairs though, I heard the replying growl.
"Is there anything I can do?" Should I keep standing or sit beside him? I wasn't fully aware of the effects of this, but if Alice left me alone and he hadn't kicked me out yet, so maybe I was overracting.
He shook his head. "No. The worst part is ending."
This was the worst part? Alright then. Maybe this wasn't as bad as I thought. I reached up and threaded my fingers into his bangs. I noticed that his face was colder than normal, which seemed impossible.
Next thing I knew, Edward's shoulders hunched and his jaw tightened to the point where I feared he was going to break his teeth. He shook his head sharply and hissed.
"My body," he began to explain. "Is not handling the blood as well as I had hoped. The venom is rancid in my mouth."
"Rancid?" I realized how quiet my voice was and said louder, "What do you mean?"
"Venom is kept potent as we keep ourselves... healthy for lack of a better term. And when our bodies are not, the venom becomes rancid. It's a symptom that changes in what it means. It can either mean we will get worse and won't be able to appear out of the holes we make for ourselves until it is over, or that is as worse as it gets."
"You'll have to ask Carlisle." He said a little sharply. I leaned away from his tone as the chords in his neck were exposed, a strange gutteral sound coming from the back of his throat. "It tastes disgusting." He growled before turning to me. "I'm sorry. It was rude of me to snap at you like that."
"You don't feel well." I said, scooting to his side, putting my hand on his back. "I get snappy when I don't feel well too." I set my chin on his shoulder; when I inhaled, I could smell something sweet coming from him, sharp, almost burning my nose. So that's what venom gone bad smells like.
Suddenly, the door flew open and Alice was there for hardly a second before she grabbed my and rushed me out of the room. Behind us, I heard a loud hiss and what sounded like something heavy rashing into the wall.
"Good thing that wall is reinforced." Alice murmured. I saw her mouth twist into a hard line. "Now he's upset with himself."
"It's nothing really. I just saw you accidently in the line of his convulsion and got you out of the way." She listened a moment and then set me back down. "You can go back in there now." On my way back, I thought I heard her whisper, "Yes, she can."
Edward was leaning against the wall, facing the window. He was pinching the bridge of his nose with his forefinger and thumb. I recognized the self reprimanding and rolled my eyes. I went to stand beside him, rubbing his back. "Feel better now?"
I bit the inside of my cheek. "Is it almost over?"
"Come on, Edward. I'm fine, you didn't do it on purpose, I'm not going to leave. Is there anything I missed?"
He stared at me from the corner of his eyes. "I knew I shouldn't have let you in."
"Please, Edward." I reached up to feel his forhead. "Believe it or not you're warmer now. Or would it be back to normal temperature?"
I saw the smirk pulling at his mouth.
He sighed. "I suppose. I apologize."
"Say you're sorry one more time, and you're going to wish you were sick."
He chuckled, reaching for my hand. We turned back to the window, seeing the sky lighting into a dove grey. "Am I to guess that Charlie knows where you are?"
"He will when he gets my note." I said taking his hand.
He turned to face me and I saw that his eyes were going back to normal; his pupils were almost back to normal, however the sheen was still like clear ice across his iris.
"What do you see?" He asked teasingly, brushing a strand of hair behind my ear.
"Nothing much. What about you?"
"I was thinking about how nice it was to have someone to care."
"The others care."
"It's different with you." He said, a heartbreaking smile across his face. It was contagious and I found one on my own face. I reached up to kiss him, but he leaned quickly away. One look at my face and he was quick to say, "I'm sure you don't want to taste bad venom." He lifted my hand and kissed my knuckles. "Will that do?"
"For now." I answered. "How's the body doing?"
"Give him about another fifteen minutes and he'll be as good as he was the day he was reborn."
Aliec came skipping into the room, ignoring Edward's raised eyebrow. "I'm here to warn you that your note has fallen off the counter and that Charlie will not find it and when you're gone the rest of the day will be seriously contemplating sending out a search party. So I suggest you get back into your room before he wakes up."
What a pain and a life saver seeing into the future could be. "Alright." I sighed. "Do you need anything before I leave?"
"No." Edward smirked.
I shrugged. "Just thought I'd ask." I went to kiss him goodbye, then remembered I couldn't, so I returned the kiss to the back of his hand. "I'll be back later today."
I turned and went out the door, peeking over my shoulder to see Edward watching me go. I waved before taking the stairs. I almost ran into Emmett on my way out.
"Watch it!" He called, grabbing me by my shoulders before I fell on the edge of the step. "Can't
even take the stairs without an incident, can you?" He boomed, pretending to wipe dust off me. "Or is it that you've caught Edward's disease?"
A warning growl came from upstairs.
"Just kidding." He winked.
"Emmett, leave her alone she has to get back to her house." Rosalie came in, wiping black oil on already splattered pants. "And you have to come back out to the garage. I can't hold the car and work it at the same time."
"Got it. Hey, Bella, you want to come and help?"
"No, Emmett. I'm not stupid enough to not see you just want to watch me slip on the spills in there."
"What spills? My work area is always clean." Rosalie sniffed.
"She doesn't mean anything by it, Rose." Emmett laughed. "See you, then." He said, whirling around. The last I saw he had hoisted Rosalie over his shoulder and had whisked her out the door. I heard her slap him on the back ordering, "Put me down!" Followed by a shriek and laughter and a loud crunch. I ran to see if he had accidently, or purposefully, dented my truck, but it looked like Rosalie had hit him hard enough to catch him by surprise and he veered into his own jeep.
"Damn." He cursed. "I'll have to get that out later."
"Yes, you will. After what you just did, I'm not touching your jeep."
"Aw, Rose!" Their voices disappeared as they moved towards the garage.
Thankfully, my truck was undamaged and I was able to get back onto the main road without any mishaps. I had my bottom lip in my teeth as I inched up the driveway, shutting off my truck immediately and jumping out, barely slamming the door. When I got into the house, I could definitely hear Charlie's snores all the way from his room. I raced back upstairs and jumped in bed, not caring about my clothes, I'd just change them when I got up again.