A/N: This is the first of four one shots that were purchased in the Fandom Gives Back Auction. The lovely and uber talented snshyne bought this one and gave me one simple challenge: write something based on the song 'Slow Dancing in a Burning Room' by John Mayer.
This is where my mind took me.
It's a angsty, emotional and a little different for me. I hope you enjoy it.
Thanks to my beta MaggieMay14 for her work on this one and to Risbee for talking some sense into me when I was all confused.
I don't own Twilight; I do have a meeting in 15 minutes that I desperately don't want to go into. This is me avoiding it.
It's not a silly little moment,
It's not the storm before the calm.
This is the deep and dying breath of
This love that we've been working on.
Can't seem to hold you like I want to
So I can feel you in my arms.
Nobody's gonna come and save you,
We pulled too many false alarms.
Slow Dancing in a Burning Room – John Mayer
"Did you want this photo frame?" she asked coolly as she pulled a photo of us, taken on a whirlwind trip to Paris shortly after our engagement, from the mantel. The ugly wooden frame had never meant anything to me; it was the photo inside, the way we looked at each other with nothing but pure love, which I cherished.
We didn't look at each other like that anymore.
"If you want it, you can have it," I replied as I watched her toss the frame casually onto the worn leather couch. We had purchased the sofa shortly after we had moved in together, both of us agreeing on every aspect of it. Of course now we never sat on it anymore. We used to cuddle and watch TV, which usually led to making love, either on it or on the floor in front of the fireplace. That was back when we were insatiable and arguments were few and far between.
We didn't make love anymore. Hell, we barely touched each other and when we did, it was usually followed by an apology.
Bella stood up and grabbed a few books from the shelf beside the fireplace and put them into the cardboard box and closed it tight, sealing it with tape and letting out a sigh before reaching for another box. There was no emotion in her movements and it was almost like she didn't care at all anymore, but I knew she did, she was just too stubborn to say anything.
Just like she was too obstinate to say anything when I first mentioned to her about the possibility of separating. I knew she wasn't happy with the course we were on, but every time I tried to get her to say anything, to do anything, she pushed me away stating that she didn't have the energy to fight anymore. She could have fought for us, which was all I was trying to get her to do in the first place, but instead she simply agreed with me and disappeared for a few days with her best friend Angela. When she got home from wherever she had been, she walked in the door of our small brownstone and announced she was moving in with Angela until we decided what we were going to do about us.
This led us to the here and now. She was packing up her stuff and I was trying to help, though what I really wanted to do was talk her out of leaving.
I grabbed a photo album from the couch and sat back against the couch as I began flipping through the pages, remembering happier times. "Do you want this album?" I questioned, trying to be as casual as I could. I had told Bella I was fine with her leaving, which of course was a lie, but if she wasn't happy in our marriage, how the hell was I supposed to keep her here with me? I had noticed for a while that her eyes didn't hold the same shine or sparkle that they did when we were growing up and I wanted that back.
I wanted my Bella back.
"Which one is it?"
"It's the one with the photos from college graduation and our trip to Disneyland with Alice & Jasper."
Bella let out a big sigh and I knew she was contemplating what to do with it. I knew she wanted it, but I didn't think she would admit it. The Bella I fell in love with was vibrant, outgoing and always spoke her mind. She was definitely not the same girl I was married to now and I had no idea how to fix it. I initially suggested a long vacation alone together and Bella said she had too much going on with work to go away. Then I tried to get her to just go away for a weekend with me, but she was immovable. When I offered up couple's therapy as an option, Bella balked and stormed away.
"You can have it. I think I have the disc with the photos on it anyways," she replied serenely, showing absolutely no emotion. I couldn't understand how packing up our life together wasn't affecting her because it was killing me.
I began flipping through the album, laughing to myself at all the pictures and decided to try and get Bella to show some emotion, even if it was anger. "Remember when we went on Pirates of the Caribbean and Jasper puked?"
"He had sun stroke, Edward. It's not something we should laugh at." She didn't even look at me as she spoke and packed a few more books away into the new box she was using. "The movers will be here at nine in the morning to take my stuff. I don't plan to be here all night, so the less you talk, the more we can get done."
She was being short and direct with me, but at least she was talking. We hadn't said much of anything to each other in the short time since she came home and told me she was moving out. Bella thought space was the best thing for us, whereas I wasn't sure I agreed with her. I realized as soon as I mentioned a separation that it was the wrong thing to do. I wanted to tackle our issue head on and Bella decided to revert back into herself and run away. However, I couldn't blame her entirely for our issues. Things spiraled out of control and neither of us was able to stop it.
I stepped out of the operating room and immediately pulled off my surgical gloves, letting my body relax as I attempted to calm down somewhat. I'd just finished a rather difficult and painstakingly slow coronary artery bypass surgery on a patient and all I wanted was some downtime. I had been in the OR for over nine hours straight with no breaks, alongside of some of the most talented surgeons that Seattle General had to offer.
When I walked into my office, my cell phone was resting on my desk where I had left it, beeping loudly. There were seven voicemail messages and three text messages. Three voicemails were from Bella and everything else was from Angela. That was odd. I sat down in my chair and was about to lean back and rest for a minute before calling my wife back when there was a knock on the door and it opened slightly.
"Dr. Cullen, you've been requested down in the ER," Nurse Crowley advised me as I rolled my eyes and let out a huge sigh. It was childish of me to complain even though I was exhausted. This was the life of a cardiovascular surgeon and I knew what I was getting in to the moment I applied to medical school. Bella knew what she was getting in to as well and had been the most supportive person in my life regarding my career choices.
I met Bella on the first day of high school in the ninth grade, she had just moved from Phoenix to live with her dad, who was the Chief of Police. After a few weeks of acting aloof, like my older brother Emmett had suggested, I finally asked her out to the homecoming dance. She said yes under the condition that I stopped ignoring her. From that moment on, we were inseparable. We first made love the night of our junior prom, a little cliché, but it had been perfect for us. In the summer between high school graduation and the start of college, we backpacked for a month in Europe together, only to go back again for our honeymoon five years later.
After college, Bella took her journalism degree and parlayed it into a job as a freelance journalist. She wrote for various newspapers and magazines in the Seattle area about a variety of topics, but she preferred to write about the arts. She had a love of music, art and culture, which she had picked up from her mother, Renee, who was a bit of a flighty free-spirit. Bella was my rock - my everything - and even though my hours were long and our time apart was arduous, it was worth it. She was worth it.
"Thanks Jessica, I'll be there in a minute. I just need to call my wife."
"Umm… Dr. Cullen. It's about your wife. She's been brought in." My eyes grew wide in shock as I jumped up from my chair and pushed open the door, running down the hallway like a man possessed. I couldn't imagine why the hell she was in ER until it hit me like a ton of bricks.
Bella had found out three weeks ago that we were finally expecting. I had been overjoyed with the news when Bella told me, because we had been trying for what seemed like forever to conceive. Both of us had been tested for any abnormalities after the traditional methods didn't seem to be working for us, but we eventually tried in vitro fertilization, which was successful and led us to the joyous news that she was expecting.
I pushed my way into the elevator and frantically pressed the button for the main level, my heart racing as my mind was in overdrive. I was panicked about what was going on. What was wrong that Bella was in the ER? I then remembered my cell phone and all the messages I had gotten from her and Angela, and I quickly realized that they had been trying to reach me for hours, but I had been unavailable while in surgery. When the doors on the main floor finally opened up, Nurse Connors saw me and quickly came over, noticing the panic stricken look on my face.
"Mrs. Cullen was just moved up to a recovery room on the second floor, Room 231."
"What happened?" I was desperately looking for answers, something to explain to me why she was here when Aro, her obstetrician walked over and put a hand on my shoulder gently, looking at me with sadness in his eyes. "Why was she here? What the fuck happened John?"
"Why don't we go sit down for a moment and we'll talk."
"Oh just spit it out. What happened?"
"Bella miscarried, Edward," he said tentatively, his voice laced with sorrow. John patted his hand against my shoulder in an attempt to be supportive, but I quickly pulled it away. I didn't want his sympathy. I wanted to see my wife. "It wasn't anything we could have prevented, unfortunately. Bella had been at home taking it easy when she felt sharp pains in her stomach. She then noticed some spotting and came into the hospital. It was a chromosomal abnormality and we had to perform a D & C. She's recovering upstairs."
"How is she?"
"Shaky at best. She needs you, Edward."
As soon as John said those words, I turned around and darted up the stairwell one floor, easily finding Room 231. Angela was sitting at Bella's bedside, holding her hand tightly as Bella sobbed, tears pouring down her face without remorse. Angela heard my feet shuffling at the door and when she looked up, her face was one of anger, not sympathy.
"Where the hell have you been? Do you know we've been here for like five hours? Five fucking hours, Edward."
"I was in surgery. I got here as quickly as I could," I said stoically as I walked towards Bella, unable to take my eyes off of hers. They were empty, completely void of any sign of life or spark. She turned her head and nestled into the pillow as I sat beside her, her back to me. "Angela, can you give us a few minutes please?"
"Only if Bella says it's okay."
"It's f-fine," Bella stammered through her tears as Angela narrowed her eyes at me and walked out the door.
"I'm gonna go call Ben and let him know what's going on. I'll be back in a few minutes. Do you want anything?"
"N-n-oo," Bella croaked as Angela glared at me once more before finally walking out.
Bella curled into her side more and I climbed on the bed, attempting to wrap my arms around her, but the whole thing felt forced, like I didn't deserve to be there. I climbed off the bed and moved to the other side, wanting to see her, but she rolled over to face away from me again.
"I'm sorry," I said tentatively as I sat down in the chair and buried my head in my hands, trying to stave off the tears that so desperately wanted to fall from my eyes. After all, Bella wasn't the only one who had lost something. We both had. "I should have been here."
"Yes… you should have," Bella said with no emotion in her voice. I felt like I was trying to console a completely different version of my wife. I felt hopeless. "I had them paging you for hours, Edward. All I wanted was you here with me, but your job came first… yet again."
"My job didn't come first, Bella. I was here as soon as I found out. I couldn't help it."
"Just like you couldn't help missing the doctor's appointment a few weeks ago or your brother's wedding rehearsal because you were in surgery. I'm still shocked you made it to the wedding." When I looked at Bella again, her crying had subsided and her eyes were rimmed in red. Her cheeks were splotchy and tear stained, which she then tried to remove with the back of her hand. Again, her eyes were lacking something, but I couldn't put my finger on it. "Why the hell did you even want a child with me?"
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"Do you even care that we lost a child today?"
"Of course I fucking care. Don't ever accuse me of not caring about you or our child. I would have given anything to have been here with you, but it was out of my control."
"Everything is always out of your control, Edward. I'm sick and tired of hearing you tell me 'it's not my fault' or 'I was in surgery'. I think I need some time alone, so go back to work."
"I'm not leaving," I stated firmly as Bella pulled her pillow closer to her body and winced as she curled around it, but I refused to budge.
What the hell had happened? When I left our place earlier in the day life looked so bright. We had made love, we had enjoyed breakfast together and she practically pushed me out the door, eager to see me again. Now, we were falling apart.
"I'm finished with this box, but it's a little heavy. Can you move it by the door for me?" Bella had her hand perched on her hip as she stared down at me, sitting on the floor and still going through the old photo album. I stood up, giving her a half hearted smile, and then did as she asked. She was right, the box was heavy as fuck and if I hadn't started going to the gym a little more frequently recently, I would have probably thrown my back out.
"I'm gonna go through some drawers in the bedroom. I'm sure there are some things I can either throw out or donate to charity."
"Did you want me to order dinner?" I offered, trying to be sweet, but Bella just disappeared into our bedroom shaking her head. "I'll take that as a no."
When I walked into the bedroom, Bella was pulling out her lingerie drawer and dumped it all into an open box, not really giving a shit what was in there until a small piece of white paper came floating out and landed on top of the bed. Bella didn't reach for it, though she knew exactly what it was.
To the untrained eye it was a mess of black and white, not unlike a Rorschach test, but as I picked it up tentatively, I clearly saw the image of our child. "I liked the name Madison, if it was a girl, and I was thinking Charlie for a boy, after your dad."
"Edward… just don't," Bella said as she wiped away at a tear. "We've moved on."
"I didn't move on Bella and you are just ignoring everything. We've never gone to counseling or even talked about it. You pushed me away and grew distant until we ended up here, which is the last place I wanted to be. " I clutched the small picture tightly, a little shocked that she still had it if I was being completely honest, and raised my hands in frustration. "A little part of me died when our baby did."
"All of me died, Edward. Don't you get it? The one thing you wanted more than anything, I can't give you."
"All I ever wanted was you," I said sadly as Bella stormed from the room, tears pouring down her face, and once again unable to face reality.
I had tried for weeks after she got out of the hospital to have her do some form of grief counseling with me, but she wouldn't do it. Bella threw herself in her work and came home late at night, ignoring me as much as she could and then tossed and turned, unable to sleep. Bella was slowly turning into me and it was at that point that I realized how much I had hurt her by working so hard. I quit my job at the hospital the next day.
I let out a sigh and followed her into the kitchen, where I found her opening our last bottle of Merlot as she grabbed a wine glass from the cupboard. Music was still playing softly in the room and I watched as she poured herself a large glass of wine and then held the glass nervously to her lips before taking a huge gulp.
I stared at Bella, who was regarding me with defiance as I moved towards her. She was still as beautiful as the day I met her, though her eyes now held no sign of the life they once did. Bella had small creases in the outside corners of her deep set brown eyes, and her lips no longer looked as pink and plump as they had. The past few months of depression had taken their toll on her body and her mind. It was tragic what had happened to her and us, and all my attempts to mend our relationship were brushed off with casual disregard.
"Come here," I stated firmly as I stretched out my hand and Bella closed her eyes and took another sip of her wine. "You didn't always hate me, Bella. Come here."
She moved slowly and cautiously towards me, after resting her glass on the cool marble countertop that we had picked out together, back when life was simple and easy. "I don't hate you, Edward. I could never hate you." I offered my hand out to her, silently requesting a dance and she seemed hesitant, but came towards me anyways. Her fingers were reluctant and tense as they wound into mine and I pulled her close to me, moving us slowly across the room, the music leading us.
"We used to go out dancing all the time. I would put up a fuss, but I secretly loved it. Holding you tight against me, our bodies connected seamlessly, as we moved languidly. We used to be in sync with one another. When did it all go wrong?"
"When you put your work before me… before our family," Bella said simply as she rested her head on my shoulder and we continued to move, her tears soaking the shoulder of my cotton t-shirt.
"I left all of that behind so that we could move on. Please don't leave me." My voice cracked and Bella lifted her head, her tired eyes meeting mine which I knew were now rimmed in red as I fought back tears. My life was crumbling around me and even though I tried my damndest, I couldn't stop it.
"It's not easy, Edward. We just can't… I just can't do it anymore."
"If I could go back in time and change how everything went down, I would."
"But you can't, Edward. Don't you get it," Bella asked as she tried to pull away from me, but I grasped her tighter. I couldn't let her go because it could very well be the last moment I held her. "You are doing all these great things to change your life, but it's too late."
"It's never too late. On the day I married you, which is still the happiest day of my existence, I told you we were meant to be together. There was a force much stronger than fate and love working the day I met you. It was love at first sight for me, and though you fought it, I know you thought the same thing."
"Bella, this… us… we're not irreparable. We may be broken, but we can be put back together, you just need to be willing to put in the effort. Even if you walk out of here tonight, I won't give up on you. You're my heart, my body and my soul."
I used my thumb to brush some of the tears from Bella's face and before I knew it, our lips were softly touching, both of our chests rising and falling with anxiousness as we kissed. It was awkward, tentative and very clumsy, much like our first kiss back in the ninth grade. Within seconds, Bella's hands were threading through my hair, pulling me closer to her as our lips pressed harder and more desperately together.
Her hands were everywhere, pulling on my clothes as her lips descended to my neck and she began kissing, sucking and biting at my skin. I wanted to push her away, to tell her that she would regret it immediately, but when I opened my mouth, the words wouldn't come out. All I did was groan as her hands palmed my aching cock through my pants.
If this was going to be the end of us, I didn't want to waste a single moment of it.
I stilled her hands as her mouth opened and her tongue snaked out, licking up my chin slowly. I picked her up into my arms and carried her into our bedroom, pushing off the boxes and clothes as she stood in front of me nervously. I could see it in the way her body moved and her hands fidgeted. However, when I wrapped my arms around her and laid her onto our bed, the same bed we purchased together two years earlier, all her anxiety disappeared.
I took my time undressing her, showering her entire body with attention through my kisses and tender caresses. Bella was instantly responsive, something that hadn't changed in all our years together, and I gripped her hands above her head as I kissed my way across her bare chest. I knew she wasn't going anywhere, but I also knew all the things she loved me to do to her, and that was one of them.
When I released her, my hands moved reverently across her body, taking in every single mark, mole and scar, kissing them softly as she squirmed beneath my touch.
"Don't… stop," she whispered as I watched her tongue dart out and saturate her top lip before she closed her eyes and let her body relax even further under my touch.
I spent the next several minutes simply ghosting my fingers and tongue all over her body. From the pink peaks of her supple breasts, the crevice at her elbow and the soft skin between her inner thighs. I was taking my time worshipping her, showing her how much I loved and adored her, all the while hoping she wouldn't leave. I couldn't live without her. She was my heart, the air that I breathe, and without her I would cease to function.
For the next hour I made love to her, memorizing every single crease on her forehead, each buck of her demanding hips and each sweet noise that fell from her lips. My words to her were soothing declarations of my continual love to her which would remain even if she chose to leave, but I tried not to dwell on that. If I had to start over from scratch to prove to her how much she meant to me, I would. I had no problem going through everything again if it meant she would love me again… love me always.
My fingers teased and tormented her, bringing her to the brink of release time and time again before I buried myself inside of her, our foreheads pressed together as we became one. Our movements were slow, purposeful and completely in sync with our other half. Each thrust, groan and sigh of pleasure reminded me overwhelmingly of the beginning of our relationship, when everything was more carefree and light. I loved those days; where I was exploring Bella for the first time and neither of us had a care in the world, except for the pleasure of our other half.
"Edward," Bella sighed, slowly enunciating each syllable of my name, as I felt her fingers dig into my shoulders as I kept moving within her. "Oh god…" She literally screamed my name over and over as her body convulsed beneath me, bringing on my own release into her depths. We both collapsed into a heap onto our bed, our breaths labored and the air filled with the thickness of sex and love.
I eased her onto her side and wrapped my entire being around her, unwilling to let her go. I was shocked that she didn't attempt to leave and took it as a positive sign. However, as I lay there, listening to her unsteady breathing, I realized I couldn't simply discount her anxiety where our relationship was concerned. We needed to understand each other now, not the person we had been when we first fell in love.
"Bella," I whispered into her ear as I buried my head into the side of her neck, her scent surrounding me in the most luscious way possible. "You're still going to move out aren't you?"
I could feel the tension instantly in her body when I asked, but I wasn't shocked by her ambiguous response. "I don't know what to do anymore, Edward. This isn't how I ever pictured our life going, you know? I never once thought I would be here, packing up to leave you."
"Can I be honest?"
"You need to move. Don't take it the wrong way, because believe me the last thing in the world I want is for you to go, but I think we need this."
"You want me to go?"
"No, I want you to move. I don't want you to leave my life, so I'm offering a proposition of sorts." Bella rolled in my arms till she was facing me, her eyes very inquisitive as she stared at me with confusion. "Would you go out to dinner with me on Friday night?"
"Are you asking me on a date?"
"Why… just… why would you do that?"
"Our lives fell apart when… when everything happened and we never put them back together. We both changed, drastically, and I think it's time we learn to love the person we are now, otherwise this will never work."
"So, you want me to move out and then you want to take me on a date?"
"I know, it seems assbackwards, but here you are on the night you are supposed to move, in our bed with me. We aren't conventional anymore, Bella. I don't want to divorce you, I want to get to know the woman you are now, but I have one stipulation."
"That sounds ominous."
"Are you interested in the proposition?" She nodded her head softly as I kissed her forehead and let out a small sigh of relief. "We need to go to therapy. We need to talk to someone about our loss. I don't think we will be able to move forward without it."
Her voice was so quiet I wasn't even sure I heard it as first, until I saw a small smile on her face as tears poured down her cheeks. "Okay?"
"Yeah… I'll try. I am not making any promises, Edward, but I don't want to give up what we have. Why do you think I never filed for divorce? I do love you, with all my heart, don't ever think otherwise." I kissed the corner of Bella's lips and pulled her tighter against me as I listened to her breathing even out as sleep claimed us both.
The next three months were difficult at best. I was lonely in the condo, finding myself unsure of what to do now that Bella wasn't around. We talked almost every day and saw each other several times a week, at therapy with Dr. Taylor and on the dates we would go on. Even though we spent time together, it wasn't the same as it had been. Dr. Taylor was encouraged by the steps we were taking to fix things, even though most of our therapy sessions resulted in tears for one, or both, of us.
Bella was living with Angela and though she said things were going alright, I knew she wasn't happy about the situation. I just kept reminding myself to take everything one day at a time. I desperately wanted to ask her to move back in, but I didn't think we were ready for it yet. We hadn't even had sex since the night before she moved out.
The next Wednesday, I was shocked when Bella called me at my office in the middle of the day. I had joined a small general practice with standard office hours and my career took a back seat to the rest of my life, but I still practiced medicine. Her call shocked me, in the best possible way, of course. I was in between patients and took her call with a big smile on my face as she actually asked me out for dinner on Friday night. I eagerly accepted and spent the rest of the night either on a high that she had asked me out, or worried that there was something more serious going on.
I tried to remain optimistic and was amazed by the smile on Bella's face when she walked into our favorite restaurant just after seven on Friday night. Therapy had done both of us a world of good and I knew that within the next two or three months I would be asking her to move back into our home, or maybe we would move somewhere else and just start fresh.
She was dressed in a flowing white sundress, her hair pulled up off of her face and her skin was lightly tanned. The summer had not been too humid, but it was hot enough to be enjoyable. August was just starting, and it was nice to be able to sit out on the patio with Bella and simply relax.
As soon as she sat down across from me, our waitress appeared and Bella swiftly ordered a Diet Pepsi, as I sat nursing my beer that I had ordered when I arrived ten minutes earlier.
"You look good. Thanks for calling," I said sincerely as Bella grinned silently at me. "Are you okay?"
"How would you feel if I moved back in?"
Wow, she caught me completely off guard with that, but I was ecstatic nonetheless.
"Don't take my lack of enthusiasm for rejection, but why? Is there something wrong at Angela's or are you ready to move back in with me?"
"There's nothing wrong at Angela's, I promise. I've been seeing Dr. Taylor separate from our meetings and things have been going really well. I met with her Wednesday morning and she reminded me to focus on the things that mean the most to me, and that is you. We're doing good, Edward. Don't you think so?"
"Of course I do. I've never been more in love with you than I am right now. I just don't want you to jump into something you are not ready for."
"Dr. Taylor has really helped me come to terms with our loss and shown me that my reaction to everything wasn't healthy for us." My heart fell in my chest as Bella reached her hand out and took mine gently into her hand. She was reassuring me, sensing my uneasiness about what she had just said. "I also saw Dr. Aro."
"Uh… what?" I instantly wondered what was wrong with her, and why she hadn't come to me, a doctor, for help. We hadn't been together in months, since the night before she moved out, so there was no way she was pregnant, was there?
"I was just curious you know… after everything, if we would be able to have a baby one day."
"You still want baby with me?"
"Edward, I want everything with you. We just need to work through the hurdles life has thrown our way. Dr. Aro isn't one hundred percent certain that I can carry a child to term and I've decided that I'm okay with that. If it happens, it happens. In the meantime, there are millions of kids that need good homes, we can always adopt or even consider a surrogate if we want to."
"Wow… I never thought I would hear you say that, Bella."
"I didn't either, so I guess Dr. Taylor really is doing wonders, huh?"
"Anyways, I've decided that I need to start living my life again for me. I can't change the things that have happened in my past, but I can build off of them, right?"
"And you want to do that with me?"
"Of course I do. I fell in love with you in the ninth grade, Edward. I refuse to give up on us. I want to move back in, if you will have me, that is." I sat still across from her, trying desperately to wrap my mind around everything. We had discussed our future in meetings with Dr. Taylor, but Bella telling me she wanted to move back in and still wanted children, regardless of how we had them, was a major surprise.
When I looked up and saw the pink blush coloring her cheeks and the spark of life in her eyes that had gone out shortly after we lost our baby, I knew there was only one answer.
"Let's go home."