Age of Edward Contest
Your pen name: AgoodWITCH
Title: An Angel in Hell
Type of Edward: MASHward
If you would like to see all the stories that are a part of this contest visit The Age of Edward 2010 C2 Community.
The empty hanger in Kimpo was the first place that hadn't rattled horribly for the last 48 hours. Even the hotel in Tokyo shook with the music coming from a neighboring room where some people were on R&R. This was a new world for young Bella Swan, who finished her last shift just in time to be thrown on a plane. From Seattle, she flew to San Francisco, then Honolulu, Tokyo and finally Kimpo, Korea; where she now sat waiting for her ride to MASH 8076, the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital that she was assigned to. As she began to wonder if her ride would ever come, she looked up and smiled as a gangly kid with a helmet outfitted with a red cross under his arm walked in.
"Are you Lieutenant Swan?" The boy asked and Bella laughed.
"That'll take a little getting used to, but yes, I'm Lieutenant Isabella Swan." She took the now offered hand and then he moved to the bags she had sitting next to her.
"Sorry about being late, ma'am, but I had to pick up a few things and I thought it'd be better to do it while I still had someone to watch the jeep. I'm Corporal Eric Yorkie."
They walked out into the sun to see a very tired looking woman leaning against the jeep. "Corporal."
"Ma'am, it's been a pleasure, you have a safe trip." Corporal Yorkie placed Isabella's bags into the back of the jeep and then took the other nurse's out.
As she walked past Isabella, she stopped. "Don't let it eat away at you; they're a good bunch out there. Good luck."
"Thank you, ma'am." Isabella called after her as she waited for the Corporal to come back.
When he arrived, they both climbed in and he started it up, turning off onto the dirt road that led into the countryside. There was a long bit of silence before he started talking. "So, you're from Washington, I hear it's really rainy there."
"How do you know where I'm from?" Bella turned to him.
"I'm the company clerk; I saw it on your personnel file when you were assigned to us. I didn't mean to be nosy, I was just trying to make small talk, it's a long drive."
"No, I'm sorry. I'm just a little on edge. I've only been a nurse for a year so I'm nervous."
"No problem, if you weren't nervous then I'd be worried. Even if you'd been doing this for 20 years, no one can anticipate what we see. I didn't and I just handle the office, I'm a farm boy myself."
Isabella sighed and looked back at the scenery. "Thanks, what are the doctors like?"
"Oh, they're the tops. Colonel Cullen is a great man, he's our commander. Then you have Major Whitlock, and Captains Masen and King. He's the one you have to be careful around; he's short with the nurses sometimes. But you didn't hear that from me."
She smiled at the inside information as they continued down the winding road. After what seemed like forever, the sound of artillery could be heard more and more often as they neared the camp, now wearing their helmets.
Suddenly, the shells started hitting too close for comfort as Corporal Yorkie swerved to miss a crater in the road. "Lieutenant, see those two large boxes behind you?" Isabella turned and answered him. "Good, I want you to grab the ropes and as soon as I stop this jeep you grab them and run to the ditch on the other side of the road. I'll be right behind you."
Without giving her a chance to respond, he drove it off on the opposite side of the road and Isabella took off running with her two boxes, nearly breaking her heels on the rocky road before landing in the ditch with herself and her cargo intact. A moment later, Eric was next to her with her two bags as well as the remaining three smaller boxes. After a few moments they heard the loud explosion and then silence. Looking up, the jeep they had been traveling in was destroyed.
Standing up, Eric helped her gather her things along with the boxes as they continued on foot. "We're lucky; it's only three miles to camp."
"Three miles!" She groaned as they started off on foot.
After twenty minutes of walking down the broken road, the sound of a jeep sent them off the side of the road until it came to a stop. "Are you a doctor?"
"I'm a nurse." Isabella instantly answered.
"My friend is hurt bad, you gotta help me."
Isabella looked at the man in the passenger seat before turning to Eric. "Get him in the back and you can take us to the MASH, the doctors should be able to do something more for him."
The two men moved the injured soldier into the back as she threw her bags on the front seat and loaded the five boxes of medical supplies into the back before jumping in and checking the wounds before applying pressure to the thin fabric they'd been able to find to dress the wound in the field. The jeep took off with a lurch and sped down the road until pulling to a stop in front of a long building. As soon as she looked up there were orderlies taking the patient from her as the men and women of the unit scrambled to get to their posts as the announcement of more wounded soldiers impending arrival sounded.
Collecting herself, a middle-aged man with blonde hair and a warm smile offered her his hand as she climbed down from the back of the jeep. "Am I to assume that you're my new nurse?"
"Yes sir, I'm Lieutenant Swan." Bella nodded as he looked over his shoulder. "Brandon, take Swan to your tent and let her change her shoes and then bring her to the scrub room."
"Sir?" Isabella asked nervously.
"You started the job on that patient, its only right for you to see it through; you'll be assigned to Captain King's table when you get in there."
Isabella nodded and followed the black haired sprite that already had her bags in her hands. Following Nurse Brandon across the compound, they ducked into one of the nurses' tents and she sat down her bags on one of the cots. "This is your bunk. Put on your boots and leave the helmet and coat here and then go through the double doors at the end of the building facing us and the scrub room is right through there."
"Thank you." She nodded as she threw off her coat and kicked off her heels, digging out her combat boots and lacing them up over a pair of socks before jogging over to the scrub room.
Washing up and slipping on her gown and gloves, she followed an orderly into the operating room where Colonel Cullen motioned to the closest table where the doctor was already working on the patient from the jeep. Stepping up the gurney, she stood next to the other nurse there and began handing instruments to Dr. King as he asked for them.
For the next three hours she continued until she began to feel the travel catch up to her after her long journey, causing her to miss Dr. King's request for a clamp. "For Christ's sake! Can't we get competent nurses in this place? This one is falling asleep at my table!"
"Swan, are you okay?" A tall blonde nurse walked up to Bella and she nodded.
"King, quit harassing my nurse, from what Yorkie said in the compound not only has she been flown halfway across the world in the last two days, but their jeep got blown up and she walked for a mile before getting picked up by the buddy of your first patient. Before this session began, you were asleep. Swan, Brandon, re-glove and switch, Nurse Swan, you'll be assisting Major Whitlock."
"Yes, ma'am." Isabella and Alice Brandon exited and quickly re-gloved, walking back into the OR and their respective tables.
"Don't mind Royce, he has a nasty habit of choking on his silver spoon." Major Whitlock whispered and Isabella smiled under her mask as she found her second wind and resumed her job.
When all was said and done, they'd been in the OR for 7 hours and instead of going to her bunk, Isabella walked arm in arm with Nurse Brandon to the Mess Tent. Once inside, they found the blonde nurse from the OR and Dr.'s Whitlock and, Isabella assumed, Masen.
"I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to introduce myself earlier, but I'm Rosalie Hale, and I'm the Head Nurse of the 8076. And Heckle and Jeckle over there are Captain Masen and Major Whitlock, but you two have already met."
They joined them at a table and the conversation quickly flowed. "So, it sounds like you got some welcome to Korea." Dr. Masen smiled crookedly as he sipped his coffee.
"Not exactly how I imagined I would arrive, but the patient survived as did the blood the Corporal picked up in Kimpo. Now if I could just get over this exhaustion, I feel like I haven't slept in days."
"Well then, why don't we let you get some rest? Breakfast will come soon enough, whether we want it to or not." The twang of Major Whitlock's accent caught Bella's attention as she smiled and they deposited their coffee cups in the bin and headed off to their respective tents to get some rest before they had to start another day.
The next morning came a little early for Isabella's liking as she woke up to a smiling Alice before she ran off to her morning shift in Post Op. Using the bit of free time that she had at the moment to unpack her items into her footlocker; she was startled by the knock at the door. "Come in."
The door opened to reveal Dr. Masen holding a tray and two cups of coffee. "I hope you don't mind, but I brought you some breakfast before you get called into Colonel Cullen's office. One of the best things to get your biological clock used to the time difference is sleep and eating at the local mealtimes. And although this can hardly be considered food-"
"Thank you." Bella spoke to interrupt his rambling and he smiled as she gestured for him to sit on the end of her bunk opposite where she had stopped digging through her bags. "So, was yesterday a typical day here?"
Shaking his head, Dr. Masen lowered his cup. "No. OR sessions can stretch on for much longer. We've been known to go around the clock several times since we landed here in June."
"You've been here the whole time?"
"Yes, most of us here have been. We've had a few personnel changes, nurses tend to come and go more than doctors, but that's the nature of it."
"The nature of what?" Isabella asked honestly.
"War. Most nurses aren't prepared for what they'll see and end up getting moved to base hospitals or an EVAC hospital."
"Are you expecting me to wash out?" Isabella asked, this time annoyed at his opinion.
"I didn't mean to offend you. I don't know you well enough to be able to guess what you can handle. I know I was thrown by it and I worked at Mercy Hospital in Chicago."
"I'd only just started at Harborview in Seattle; I grew up in a tiny town about three hours away."
"What's it called?" Dr. Masen asked.
"Forks." Bella smiled at the memory of her hometown.
"Well Nurse Swan from Forks, Washington, let's hope you're one of the nurses that sticks with us." He raised his coffee mug in a toast and she met his with her own.
"Call me Bella, Dr. Masen…unless that's too informal for the army?"
Dr. Masen barked a laugh at her worry. "This isn't the regular army here, Bella. We're a bunch of doctors playing dress up as soldiers. And please, call me Edward. Now please, eat some of that God-awful food so that way if we get caught in the OR you aren't passing out on us."
Bella smiled and took a few bites of the food before it got cold and then unpacked a little more as Edward told her about how things worked around the unit. It wasn't until Rosalie arrived to show her the different aspects of her job and the various buildings that made up the compound that they realized they had been talking for nearly two hours.
After the tour, Rosalie and Bella ended up in Dr. Cullen's office where he spoke to her about their stellar record and she spoke of the work she had done with burn victims at Harborview, leaving him quite impressed at what one of the nation's leading centers was coming up with to treat burns, something they saw far too often.
It was during this conversation that the announcement came over the PA system. "Attention all personnel from both shifts, incoming wounded. Helicopters arriving in five minutes and ambulances are in the compound."
The conversation halted as they ran to the compound and they began helping with triage, which was a first for Nurse Swan. Sticking by Dr. Cullen, they made it to one of the burned soldiers and he turned to her. "Scrub up and meet me inside, I may need your knowledge on this boy if he's going to fight off an infection and make it."
Isabella did as she was told as she ran past Edward, who was in charge of triage this time. Walking over to the Colonel's table, they began work on his patient. He had a quick mind and gifted hands, so Isabella simply pointed out the areas that were likely to become septic and helped with the dressings before returning to help him with another patient.
They continued working as the hours ticked by like minutes until the sun set outside the OR's windows and the patients finally stopped arriving. When Bella looked up at the clock in the scrub room, she turned to Edward and narrowed her eyes. "I think you cursed us this morning, we were in there for 13 hours."
His laugh rang out and he nodded. "Well then, let me invite you back to officers' country for a nightcap to make amends." She blanched a little and Edward realized what his offer sounded like to someone unaware of their ritual. "Rosalie and Alice will be there, as will the Major and the Colonel; it's something we do after long OR stretches."
Bella nodded and followed him to the doctors' tent where they were indeed waiting for them to begin the decompression from their long day. "So, how was your first full day with us?"
"It was eye-opening, but I'm sure I'll get the hang of it, Colonel."
Colonel Cullen raised his hand and shook his head at her use of his rank. "Dr. King is the only one of us around here who demands being referred to by his rank even when off-duty. When we're in a social situation, please call me Carlisle. I'm like the father of this dysfunctional family and I prefer to be an open commander, it makes it easier to get the cattle in their pens." He winked at the girls and they laughed. "So, Isabella-"
"Bella." Nurse Swan and Dr. Masen both corrected at the same time.
Carlisle raised an eyebrow at his young surgeon before returning his attention to his interrupted question as the glasses of amber liquid were passed around. "Bella, why don't you tell us a little about yourself, your hometown, that way we can get to know you a little better?"
Bella took a deep breath and shrugged. "There isn't very much I can tell you. I grew up in a tiny town called Forks in Washington State, lived there until I went to nursing school straight from high school. I moved in with two good friends in Seattle while I was in school and then I was able to find a job at Harborview Medical Center and worked there until the day the recruiter showed up and spoke to us."
"Why'd you agree to come here?" Edward looked baffled at someone agreeing to be a part of the war.
"I wasn't going to originally. When I first took the position there was a recruiter there and I almost laughed at it, but we got in a few patients on their way home who needed additional surgery or treatment for burns they'd sustained here and it made me think about the people who were working on them when they came off the battlefield. The biggest factor for me though, was when Rebecca and Rachel's younger brother and his two friends showed up in their uniforms. Our dads were best friends, that's how I got to be so close with the twins, three girls all the same age was a godsend to our fathers and Jake always followed after us with Quil and Embry. They waited until Quil was 18, because he was the youngest of the three, and all enlisted on the same day. There was something about seeing the boys whose skinned knees made me a nurse before I ever thought about it as a career going off to war that made me want to follow them and do some good in the middle of all this death. I know that probably sounds foolish, but…"
"It doesn't sound foolish, it's noble." Rosalie took her hand and squeezed it. "I was expected to be a housewife, but when my fiancé broke off our engagement, I went into nursing. A friend of mine was getting ready to leave with her husband, who was a soldier and that's when I became an army nurse. I spent my time working the veterans' hospital near the base and coming home to spend time with my friend Vera and her family. When the war started they sent me to Camp Campbell for my special training to become a head nurse and then shipped out. That's how I met Sergeant McCarthy, you'll get to know him, he's the head of the motor pool, but he also helps out with patients a lot because of his size. He was from Campbell and we were on the plane together, I was surprised to find out that he was part of our unit, but it was comforting having someone who was from the same base make the whole trip with me. I was the third person to step off the first truck here after the Colonel and Corporal Yorkie. It was pretty intense in the beginning, but I wouldn't trade it for anything."
Alice looked around and then cleared her throat. "I guess I'll go. I grew up in Biloxi, Mississippi and my parents had the horrible sense to name me Mary, but everyone calls me by my middle name, Alice. My parents and I don't really speak much, and I haven't seen my sister in a long time either, but I'm happy with the family I've made here. I've been here since we were first setup and they okayed the nurses to be bussed in."
Alice leaned into Dr. Whitlock who wrapped his arm around her and smiled at Isabella. "Well, if my accent didn't give it away, I'm from the great state of Texas. I had been in the ROTC when I was in school and became an army doctor as soon as I graduated. I was a Major before being shipped here and took on the Chief Surgeon role because the Colonel didn't want to be all powerful. And darlin' please call me Jasper, I may be regular army, but my friends still get to call me by my name."
Carlisle threw a pillow at the comment Jasper made about him and they all laughed as he settled in to go next. "I was the Chief of Surgery in Columbus, Ohio before this ugliness started. I was just about to retire and devote more time to my private practice and my wife, Esme, and our three kids when the draft notice came in the mail, so I resigned and had my partner takeover for my half of the practice until I get home. I've spent two anniversaries away from my Esme, and I'd prefer not to go for a third."
Isabella looked at the Colonel, who was probably old enough to be her own father and smiled. It was at this point that Edward cleared his throat. "Well, I'm from Chicago, was working at Mercy before coming to Hell. I don't know, I'm always horrible at this 'introduce yourself' stuff."
"Well, are you married?" Isabella asked, trying to get something more out of him, but the room erupted into laughter.
"Edward…married, no. He's a terminal bachelor, but he does charm most of the nurses into the storage closet." Rosalie cackled again and Isabella blushed.
"She makes it sound worse than it is. Every nurse I've seen here has known exactly what the situation was before we started and I've never been unfaithful."
Bella looked up and met Edward's eyes before cutting them to the cot in front of her. Taking a swig of her drink, she sat it on the table. "I think I'm actually going to head to bed, I'm tired and I still haven't met some of my tent mates. Alice, are you hanging around?"
Alice nodded, squeezing Jasper's hand and illuminating the bond they've found over the last year here. "I'll walk you back to your tent." Edward was standing before she could protest, so instead, she shrugged and stepped out into the cool night. The walk was silent and it got the better of Edward as they neared her tent. "Just ask."
Isabella looked up and shook her head. "Honestly, it isn't-"
"Four. I've dated four nurses in the last year. But it isn't as bad as it sounds and I haven't been with anyone for the last two months-"
"Edward, you don't owe me an explanation. You're far from home and there are plenty of people our own age here, it's natural that you'd test the waters. I've hung around Jacob and his friends, I've seen it before. I meant what I said about wanting to meet the other nurses. I'll see you at breakfast?"
Edward smiled and nodded. "I'll save you a seat next to Alice."
Opening the door to her tent, Isabella met Angela Webber and Jessica Stanley. After a few minutes she knew that Angela would be her good friend, while Jessica's persistent rambling about Dr. Masen and the time they had dated, exactly how talented he was and her elaborate plan to win him back had Isabella ready to bang her head against the door of the nearest jeep. Thankfully, Angela asked if the gab session could be cut short because she wanted to go see the Chaplin the following morning and needed some shut-eye.
With the lights out, Isabella settled in for a long nights sleep, even if it wasn't what she would receive.
The next six weeks passed quickly for Isabella as the heat of summer in Korea reared its ugly head. Having quickly fallen in with the procedures, it was the social scene that was a little harder to grasp. There were several nurses that seemed less than thrilled to have another person to fight with for Dr. Masen's attention and many of them made that point known to her.
Nurse Tanya, one of the nurses in the 'bitch tent' as Alice referred to it, was very vocal about Isabella's likelihood to be another passing fancy for the BMOC. She and her friend, Nurse Kate had been two of three nurses to come from the main hospital outside Denali, earning the nickname, the Denali sisters. Tanya was the first at the 8076, with Irina joining during a personnel shift. Finally, Kate rotated in when one of the other nurses couldn't stomach the insanity of being that close to the front. It was about 7 months ago that Irina had been out on a walk when she was caught by a sniper and killed. Since then, the camp has had a much tighter perimeter, with the bar down the road from the compound being the furthest anyone could go without signing out a jeep and getting permission from the Colonel.
Isabella's friendships with those whom she chose to socialize with had blossomed nicely and she felt as though she really belonged. The memory of those first few days were flung from her mind by the familiar announcement of incoming wounded. Ditching her tray on her way out of the Mess Tent, she ran to the compound and helped with the vitals for the first few patients before scrubbing in and preparing for Dr. Masen's arrival after he completed triage. The x-rays were on the light board and the patient was just put under as he backed through the door to keep his hands sterile and addressed his table. "Okay, he has a gut full of scrap metal and a few broken ribs from the pileup he was on the bottom of; let's get him off this table as fast as we can."
With that the dance of surgery began. Every instrument that he needed was already in Isabella's hand as she anticipated his every move. The patient was on the table for nearly two hours with several internal injuries caused by the shrapnel that had found him. As they finished up with him and the next patient was wheeled in, they re-gloved and began again. The surgery kept going and as they looked up from yet another patient and saw that it was 9 hours since they had begun. Another wave of patients hit as Dr. Whitlock ran out to begin triage and King was warned that if it continued, he'd be the first sent to sack out for 90 minutes so that he could recover a little. Rosalie tried to get Isabella to take a break, but as long as Edward was elbow deep in a patient, she would be the one assisting him.
The session, which went 21 hours, was finally over and despite the length of time that they had all been up, Edward insisted on going to the Shak, the bar down the road. Nurse Hale had woken up to take over duty in Post Op, as did Dr. King, while Alice and Jasper went back to the doctors' tent to hang out and the Colonel went to his office to do paperwork. With no one else to make sure he made it back safely, Isabella agreed to accompany him.
The bond between her and Edward was still mainly professional, with just the slightest bit of flirting going back and forth. Isabella found them a table as Edward ordered them sake and beer. When it arrived at the table, Edward poured for them both as they toasted the successful OR session. "You were phenomenal in there today. Normally I go through a few nurses during the longer stretches, but you were right there with me."
"I don't like to leave things unfinished and we were working well together, I didn't want to interrupt it." Isabella smiled as she sipped her sake.
"We do make a damn fine team." Edward smirked as he refilled his tiny ceramic glass.
The next three hours were spent going over the patients they had treated as Edward drank far heavier than Isabella had seen in the two months she had now been there. It was a different Edward, and one she was quickly growing not too fond of. As the crowd in the bar began to thin out, Isabella worried about how she would get him back to camp when a now familiar face approached their table. "Hello, Nurse Swan, do you need any help getting sleeping beauty over to his bunk?"
Isabella smiled and nodded at Sergeant McCarthy. "Thank you Emmett, I was just trying to figure out how I was going to manage it."
Without further discussion, Isabella paid the tab as Emmett led a very unstable Edward out of The Shak and down the road to the camp. Once they got to his tent, Isabella turned to Emmett. "I'll take him from here; we don't need Dr. King writing you up for being in an officers' tent."
"Are you sure?" Sergeant McCarthy was a big teddy bear of a man who would always be the big brother that Isabella never had, and she loved his concern for her.
"We'll be fine. I'll see you tomorrow."
Isabella dragged a stumbling and muttering Edward to his bed and was pleased to see that Dr. King was still in Post Op. Pulling back his blanket, Isabella managed to get him in the bed, untying his boots and then pulling up his covers. As she was about to walk away, Edward sat up and held her arm. He used her confusion to his benefit as he yanked her towards him and kissed her.
The kiss was amazing, even looking past the sloppy way his tongue moved against hers; Isabella had never felt so alive. It wasn't a coincidence that she enjoyed being paired with Edward in the schedule and socializing with him and their friends…the fact of the matter was that Isabella had developed a bit of a crush on the handsome doctor. When he collapsed back against the bed, she saw his eyes flutter closed and her stomach clenched at the thought that he may not have known what he was doing.
Walking out and quickly finding her way to the nurses' tent, she changed and went to sleep, trying to push the unsettling feeling out of her stomach.
The following morning came to find Edward with one bad hangover. The only thing that saved Jasper when he shook his comrade was the mug of coffee in his hand. "Rise and shine, lover boy."
"What in the world are you talking about?" Edward moaned as he rubbed the sleep from his eyes and took the black gold.
"That kiss you planted on Nurse Swan last night, it's about time you acted on that kindergarten crush you have on her."
"I didn't kiss Bella." Edward sat up and noticed that he had slept in his clothes, something he rarely did.
"You most certainly did! I saw it with my own eyes when she woke me up carrying you in here after midnight. You practically pulled her into bed with you."
Edward paled as he considered the possibility that what his friend was telling him was true. "Oh God. I have to go."
Before Jasper had a chance to ask where he was going, Edward was out the door and running to The Shak, knowing that he hadn't paid his tab from the previous night and hoping for some answers. Before he made it though, he was stopped by Sergeant McCarthy. "Whoa there, is everything okay, Dr. Masen?"
Edward shook his head and began backpedaling. "No, I just forgot to settle my bill last night and I wanted to take care of it before we get hit with any wounded."
"Oh, well it was taken care of; Nurse Swan paid it before the three of us left last night." Edward froze and looked up at the massive man before him.
"You were there last night?"
"Sure was. Nurse Swan asked me to help her get you back. I left you two right outside your tent because she didn't want Dr. King on my case. Why, is something wrong?"
Edward shook his head and tried his best to smile. "No, just wanted to make sure everything was taken care of. Thanks Sergeant."
Unsure of what to do next, Edward headed back to his tent and gathered his things for a shower. Letting the water wash over him, he tried to remember the details from the night, but there was nothing that came to him. Wrapping himself in his robe, he walked back to his tent and got dressed for his shift in Post-Op with Bella.
He made it in just as Dr. King was collecting his things. "Let's go through our rounds, I want to get some sleep."
"Where's Nurse Swan?"
"She already finished rounds and went to the supply room to get a few items." Dr. King rolled his eyes as he explained the various cases that filled the crowded Post-Op. When they were finished, Dr. King left in his usual huff. A few moments later, Isabella returned with bandages and some medications and began to put them in the locked cabinet.
"Good morning, Nurse Swan."
Isabella turned and smiled. "Good morning, Dr. Masen. How are you feeling today?"
"I'm good, but I'd like to talk to you about last night, if you wouldn't mind."
Isabella blushed slightly and then gestured to the desk at the end of the hall. "I'd like that."
Isabella sat in the chair as Edward perched himself on the edge of the desk. He folded his hands in his lap as he looked down into her eyes. "First, I'd like to apologize for how I acted last night, it was unprofessional of me to get that inebriated and leave you to get us both home safely. I assure you that I'm not usually that thoughtless. Also, you should have never been forced to pay for our evening. I asked you to join me and I insist on paying you back for the cost of the bar tab."
"I was glad to be there to help you out last night, and although you don't have to, if you'd like the tab was $4." Edward reached into his pocket and promptly reimbursed Isabella and then stood up. "Was there anything else you wanted to discuss?" Isabella asked with an expectant expression, hoping to hear that the kiss last night wasn't a drunken mistake but as Edward shook his head and returned his attention back to the patients, she got her answer.
It was an intense shift as Edward worried about his drunken mistake's effect on his friendship with Bella, while Bella stewed in the knowledge that to Edward their kiss had either been so average that it was forgettable or so regrettable that he'd rather not discuss it. Regardless of which option was the case, Bella refused to bring it up again until he acknowledged it.
Edward had been warned about a few trouble patients, who had caused problems during the previous shift, but Nurse Stanley hadn't been as thorough when briefing Isabella and as a result she found herself in a struggle with a patient as she went to redress his wounds.
"Relax soldier, I'm just checking you bandages, I'm not going to hurt you." Nurse Swan cooed, but it only agitated the young man further.
"I'm not a soldier! And I wouldn't be in this bed if it weren't for this damn war!" He fought against Isabella as she worried that he'd rip out his stitches and wind up back in the OR.
"Can someone give me a hand over here?" Isabella yelled out in a loud but professional manner as Dr. Masen turned to see her wrestling the man to his cot. He was around the bed of the patient he had been checking on and in the main aisle when Bella was thrown to the ground in a clattering crash. She hissed loudly as the glass on the tray broke and cut her arm. As soon as she hit the ground, Edward yelled out for help as he knelt between her and the patient holding out his hand to her.
She shook her head and motioned towards the patient who was still thrashing in bed. "Secure your patient, I'll be fine."
Colonel Cullen entered with a few orderlies and as they began to restrain the man, Isabella was helped off the floor before Edward could turn back to her. "Let me look at your arm." He pleaded with Isabella, but she followed the Colonel out into x-ray.
"Stay in the ward, the Colonel can stitch me up." The cold edge to her voice startled Edward as he finished with the patient and one of the orderlies began cleaning up the mess that included Nurse Swan's blood, which also stained the knee of Edward's pants.
Nurse Webber came in soon after to take over for Isabella and Edward warned the patients that they better behave.
Meanwhile Isabella was tended to and sent back to her tent where Alice was chatting with Jasper and Rosalie. "Swan, what happened to you?" Rosalie asked in full Head Nurse Mode at the sight of the bandage and her blood splattered clothing.
"Agitated patient in Post-Op, I was trying to check the bandage on the guy in bed 14 and he got combative and threw me into the bedside tray and I cut my arm on the broken glass."
"Where was Dr. Masen when this happened?" Jasper looked at her and she huffed a breath.
"With another patient, not that he would have acknowledged anything today." She muttered a little too loudly as his eyes narrowed.
"That idiot!" The outburst caught all three women off guard, but a silent exchange between him and Nurse Brandon eliminated her confusion. "I'm going to check on the patients and make sure the situation was handled in Post-Op, Rose, you may want to talk to the Colonel and begin the accident report."
"You're right, if you need anything Swan, don't hesitate to come to my tent." She turned to leave before stopping and turning back to Bella. "Who was on duty before you?"
"I relieved Nurse Stanley and Angela took over for me after the Colonel took an x-ray to make sure I hadn't broken anything."
"You rest, no duty for you for a few days. That gash is in a tricky place and we don't need you opening it up again."
Once the room emptied, Alice sat next to Bella on her bed and waited for her to begin talking. When she didn't start, Alice turned to her. "Okay, so I only know pieces, but what's going on with you and Dr. Masen?"
"Nothing. Absolutely nothing." The annoyance was evident as she crossed her arm and then whined at the pain the gesture caused.
"Even after the kiss last-" Alice's comment was cut short by the look of abject horror on Isabella's face.
"How did you know about that?"
"You weren't quite as quiet as you may have thought when you brought Edward back last night. You woke up Jasper and he only mentioned it to me because he thought you might need someone to talk to and that it'd be easier to talk to someone who already knew. So what did he say when you saw him in Post-Op?"
"He didn't say anything! He apologized for getting drunk last night and paid me back because I had to pay the tab before we left, but besides that, he didn't say a thing. Maybe he doesn't remember, he was really drunk-"
"He may not remember it, but he knows it happened because Jasper told him this morning."
Isabella heaved a sigh and rubbed her forehead. "Well then I guess the prospect of being with me was that horrible for him?"
Alice turned and shook her head violently. "No! He's an idiot and a fool, but it has nothing to do with you."
A cry escaped her throat as all the new information came together in her mind. He knew, but still didn't say anything, and at that moment Isabella didn't want to think about what that meant. Soon, she had cried herself to sleep and Alice left her alone.
Edward, however, was not as lucky. Jasper quickly found him and proceeded to tear into him in the soft whisper that would hopefully keep this information out of the gossip circulation. "How could you not say anything to her about the kiss, you like her and she likes you."
"It's not that easy. I don't have a lot of options here, Major. I can't promise her anything real here, and she's better than the relationships I've had here in the last year. Those girls didn't mean anything, and Bella deserves more than to be a fling in this hell, and a memory that causes a smile that the future Mrs. Masen will never know the source of."
Jasper bristled at his remark and closed in on him. "Is that what you think of Alice and me?"
Edward paled and quickly corrected his friend. "Of course not, but for you two being together is all that matters. You don't have to be married to be happy and you certainly don't care about other's opinions as long as it doesn't break Regs. But I can't go halfway with her. If I'm with her at all, I'm going to want it all and that would mean either asking her to live in sin until we get home, or having the Chaplin marry us and watch her get sent to some other unit. Then what, hope to get leave at the same time? That's not good enough."
"And what if you both don't make it home? You'd rather live the rest of your life knowing you wasted the little time you had with her? Or you'd want her to have nothing more than a few polite memories of that doctor she knew back then? We're in the middle of a war, tomorrow isn't promised to any of us. I'd love to marry Alice, but I'm not going to chance never knowing her for ideals that don't translate here. What does it matter living in sin when you're in downtown hell? And more importantly, you've taken her completely out of it by not talking to her before you condemned the relationship. Please, talk to her…that is if Alice lets you."
"Why did you say anything to her? You know she's going to speak to Bella about it."
Jasper simply shrugged as he left Edward to think about the information he'd received. He was coming up with every excuse possible not to be with Bella for the simple reason that as soon as they were together he'd never be able to let her go. But was that really wise in their situation? He knew one thing, it was a lot less crazy than fighting the pull he felt towards her and the unease he had not knowing how serious her arm was.
As the Colonel came in to relieve him, he headed to the Mess Tent to grab some grub before going to speak to Isabella and pray she'd hear him out. On the walk over, he stopped at his tent and it was there he met the fury of a certain pixie.
"Captain, you're a moron. I'm warning you right now, you stay away from Lieutenant Swan until you have your issues sorted, because if you ever make her cry again-"
Edward's shoulders curled in on him a bit at that piece of information, causing him to interrupt her rant. "She was crying? I have to see her. I have to apologize."
"For what?" It wasn't a question of whether or not he should, but rather a wish to know what he was sorry for to see if he would be allowed to get the opportunity to speak to her.
"I didn't want to start something with her out of a misguided fear, but I can't not be with her, not anymore. I'd rather die tomorrow knowing I had her tonight than spend tomorrow wishing I'd had tonight."
Alice nodded and motioned to the door. "Rosalie had the Colonel put her in the VIP tent because Stanley was whining about trying to sleep through her crying every time she rolled over and hit her arm."
Edward nodded and exited the tent, making the short walk to the VIP tent before knocking and waiting for Isabella's answer.
"Come in." The sound of her voice through the canvas of the tent tore at him; he knew that her arm was bothering her and that she was attempting to hide it from whoever was checking on her.
Edward opened the door and ducked in quickly, keeping his eyes on the floor in case she needed a minute now that she knew who had come to see her. "Are you decent, or do you need a moment?"
"I'm decent. What are you doing here?" The distance felt like it was miles instead of the mere feet between them and he looked up and saw her arm tucked in her lap, the bandage much larger than he expected.
"I had to see you. Isabella, I've acted so wrong here and all I've done is hurt you, and that's the last thing I ever intended. Can I please see it?"
Bella held out her arm and he crossed to her bed, looking at the gauze wrapped around the stitches, his brow furrowing at the workmanship. "Can you loosen it, I think that's the main reason its bothering me so much."
Edward unwrapped the gauze and saw the difference in the coloring of the skin, proving that it had been bound too tightly. "Who did this for you?" Edward was annoyed at the lack of care taken with her in the middle of an army hospital.
"I did. Jessica was complaining about having to do it and how she was going to wait in line for a shower so I told her to go ahead and I'd finish, but I did it too tight. Then it started bothering me and she asked for the VIP tent so she could sleep and that's when the Colonel told me to sleep here that way everyone got plenty of rest. I hate it though, I feel like some invalid and all I did was cut my arm."
Edward looked at the long gash that curved around her arm, crossing her vein just high enough not to do too much damage and shook his head. "This is more than a simple cut, and Major Hale is right, you shouldn't use it for the next few days. But I am glad for one thing."
"What's that?" Isabella asked with curious eyes.
"It allowed me the chance to speak to you in private." His eyes dropped to her arm as he ran his fingers along her tender flesh. "Last night, when I kissed you, I wasn't using my best faculties, but it doesn't mean that it wasn't a deeper part of me breaking out. I like you Bella, a lot. And I knew that what would come out of a relationship here would be less than you deserved, so I fought it without considering your feelings in the matter. But the truth is, I can't fight it. I want to be with you…I need to be. Please, tell me that my stupidity hasn't cost me a chance with you."
Isabella smiled as her cheeks stained a rosy color. The look on her face when she met his eyes again was enough to reassure him as he leaned in to kiss her properly. This kiss, unlike its predecessor, began tentative as the two tested the waters with the other. It wasn't long before the soft beginning gave way to something far needier as Edward pulled Isabella closer, mindful of her arm.
When they pulled away, Bella was breathing hard and looking down at her hand, but it didn't last long. Edward's forefinger caught her chin and pulled it up so he could look at her. "Bella?"
"I've liked you from the first night in your tent. You tried so hard to prove you were a good guy, but I knew it without the effort. Let's not waste any more time here."
Edward smiled as he kissed Isabella again, briefly this time. "My thoughts exactly." After another few minutes of kissing and gazing into each other's eyes, Edward wrapped Bella's arm a little more loosely and then smiled as she settled into bed. "Thank you, my angel, for answering my prayers."
For the next few days, Edward waited on Bella at every opportunity, annoying her thoroughly. After three days of it, Bella finally brought it up over dinner. "Edward, I can cut my own food."
"Bella, I just want to take care of you. It could have been so much worse. A few inches and it would have sliced your wrist and you'd have bled out."
"That's a little extreme, but I see your point. I just can't wait until they're out so I can return to more than counting the stock room and other non-medical jobs."
Edward rolled his eyes at her and gave her back her tray with her food now cut into manageable pieces. "I wish you hadn't asked for them to give you anything at all."
"We're a medical unit and I'm a nurse who's counting specimen bottles and tongue depressors instead of assisting in surgery. I feel so useless."
Edward kissed her forehead and ran his hand down her back, understanding how she felt. If the Colonel told him that he couldn't operate it would drive him mad. Edward needed to know he was doing everything he could for his patients so he set out to soothe his sweetheart. "I'm sorry. I'll keep an eye on how it's healing and as soon as it's okay, I'll remove your stitches for you."
Bella looked up and smiled, thanking him for his compassion.
The days that followed were much the same and when the time came for Nurse Swan to have her stitches removed so she could return to full duty; it was Dr. Masen who handled it. And as they worked their shift in Post-Op, they did so as a team instead of dividing the room as they had the last time.
Time passed with the monotony that occurs when meatball surgery blurred one day into the next for the fledgling couple. Casualties had been particularly high in the month that followed as the fighting over a few strategic hills had the opposing forces holding the new land for a few days before it went the other way again, bringing with it more wounded soldiers.
It was on one such long stretch in the OR that the patience of all involved got tested. Dr. King was behaving like his usual 'charming' self and was chewing out every nurse that bellied up to his table. When Nurse Swan rotated to his table after helping to move all the mobile patients to other facilities to clear some beds in Post-Op, he started in with her immediately. Dr. Masen was on triage so by the time he walked in to inform them that along with the soldiers, there were also South Korean civilians that were injured when their village was shelled, he caught the end of one of the Captain's rants.
"The problem on this base is that everyone's paired up. People spend more time worrying about who they're meeting after the session that they aren't paying attention during. How about you, Nurse Swan? How many lucky little soldiers have followed you to the supply tent?"
"Doctor, you better watch your mouth." Edward seethed at the implication being made by Dr. King and wanted nothing more than to drag him out back and beat him for it.
"What, you afraid of a little competition? Worried that this little romance might end just as soon as the others, only this time you haven't consummated it?"
Bella froze at his comment, but it was the Colonel who ended it. "King, if you don't shut it, I'll write up the court martial papers myself, now stop it and get back to work."
After another two hours, some of the nurses were needed outside with the Korean patients as they were not as high on the priority list as the soldiers, and Nurse Swan was one of them.
As the time ticked past and more Korean patients died from severe injuries before they could be seen by the doctors, the morale was beginning to plummet outside. Once the last of the GI's were out of the OR the 15 patients left out of the 28 that had arrived from the village began to be taken into surgery.
It took a few more hours, but finally the last of the villagers had left surgery and the staff began to head off to bed. It had been hours since Edward had seen Bella and he knew that they hadn't eaten since the last round of sandwiches had been brought into the OR some hours ago, so he set off to find her and make sure she was okay after King's rude comments. What he found, however, was far from his expectations.
Nurse Swan was still kneeling in the mud, the September wind blowing hard in the darkness. "Nurse Swan?" He asked formally, as they were still surrounded by the hospital staff making their way through the compound. When she didn't answer he walked closer, seeing the sheet lying in front of her as he crouched behind her. "Isabella? Let's go, you don't want to catch a cold out here." She didn't respond to that either, so he tried to pull her up by her waist and she fought him, clinging to the sheet.
"No! I can't leave her. She's all alone."
Edward looked around and saw Private Crowley helping to move the bodies of the patients who hadn't made it. When Crowley noticed the two of them kneeling beside the sheet, he walked over and tried to lift it onto the smaller gurney he was carrying. When Isabella began to fight him, he looked to Edward for assistance.
"Captain, I have to help load all of the deceased South Korean civilians into the bus so they can be buried properly."
Edward held Bella closer to him as he lifted the sheet to see the body of the young Korean girl, probably only 3 or 4 years old. He covered it back up and whispered to her. "Bella, we have to let them take her so she can have a traditional burial. Let the Private take her."
Bella began to weep as Edward nodded and the Private loaded the child on the gurney and carried her away quickly. Lifting her off the ground, he carried her towards his tent when Nurse Hale approached. "What happened?" she asked, the worry evident in her voice and the deep crease in her brow.
"One of the Koreans who died was a young girl." Nurse Hale nodded and pointed to her tent.
"Nurse Brandon was upset by it as well, so I told the Major that if he and Alice wanted to they could use my tent as I'm on duty with Dr. King tonight."
"Thank you, Rosalie." Edward corrected his direction and walked into his tent with Isabella still in his arms. He sat her down on the cot as Jasper walked in.
"I'll be out in a minute; I'm just getting a few things. Try and have a good night." The possible implication of what Jasper said wasn't lost on him, but his main concern was Bella's reaction to all the death she saw that evening. Their unit had a high survival rate, so tonight had been one of the worst nights any of them had seen.
Edward stood in front of Isabella's stoic form and untied the gown from around her and took off anything that was related to the carnage they had witnessed and then took off her boots and wrapped her in his spare blanket. Cradling her to his chest, he shushed her softly as he rubbed her back and rocked her body gently.
It took forever for her tears to subside, but when they did, her first movement in nearly an hour surprised Edward. Her hand moved from where it had been fingering the short hair at the base of his neck up a little higher and she sat up on her knees, kissing him hard.
Edward knew what he wanted, but he had to make sure this wasn't simply a reaction to everything they'd seen and heard in the last 24 hours. "Bella, are you sure?"
Isabella leaned her forehead against his and looked directly into his eyes. "Yes. Edward, I need to be with you…to feel you. I know we've been moving slowly but I don't want to wait anymore. Please, make love me."
Those last four words crumbled any doubt he may have held as his lips crashed to hers. Isabella threw the blanket off and started fumbling with the buttons on his shirt, which stopped the moment he reached behind him and pulled both it and his t-shirt off in one move. Seeing the new expanse of skin, with enough hair to be manly, but not too much gave Bella a little courage as her hands found her own buttons. It was short lived, however, as Edward's hands caught hers. "May I?"
Bella's eyes grew wide as she nodded and allowed Edward's fingers to operate across the front of her shirt, revealing another painful layer of clothing. Ghosting his fingers along the edge, his lips found hers again as he explored the flesh of her stomach. Isabella hummed as his hands moved slowly up her ribcage and hers rubbed and clawed at his muscular chest and shoulders.
The next time their lips parted for air, Bella took a chance and stood up, slipping off her olive green pants, revealing her lean legs to Edward as her shirt fell to cover the curve of her behind. Before she could sit back down, Edward kicked off his boots and socks and dropped his pants, revealing the all too obvious signs of his arousal. Stalking over to her, he pulled her closer, feeling the gasp as a bit of suction against his lips when his hand found her ass.
Isabella's hands found his hair as she pulled him closer causing only enough friction to drive him completely mad. As they backed towards the cot, Edward reached down and pulled back the sheet and blanket that were still tucked in. Sitting back on the bed, Edward reached down for the hem of Isabella's shirt and pulled it up and over her head, letting it fall to the floor as his eyes lingered on her form.
"You're a work of art, my angel." Edward breathed and Bella blushed in the darkness.
"You should talk. My own personal statue of Adonis. They could put a sculpture of you in a museum and there would be a line around the block." Bella looked down and Edward stopped the movement of her face with his hand.
"If there was ever going to be a statue of me, it would be a pair's sculpture, because there's nothing of me that isn't linked to you now."
Bella smiled and reached behind her to unclasp her bra. "Edward, please. I know you want to go slow, but I don't want to get caught by someone or have more casualties come in before we…"
Edward smiled as he sat further down on the bed, allowing Isabella to lie down before he stood up to remove his boxers and grabbed a condom from the cigar box on his shelf. Sheathing himself in the only barrier that would separate himself from Bella in a few moments, he turned to see her awestruck face. Her underwear was discarded as well and Edward found his way to the bed and hovered over Bella as he kissed her breast, pulling her left nipple into his mouth as his left hand massaged the other.
As Bella tugged at Edward's hair, his lips traveled up her neck while his left hand trailed down to her apex, brushing against it as she bucked lightly at the sensation. With a more determined movement, he dipped into her heated flesh and was amazed by how wet she was already. He continued his attentions to prepare her for what could potentially be a painful experience.
When Isabella was mewing under his touch, Edward repositioned himself at her entrance and leaned in to kiss Bella's lips. "I know you said you'd be fine, but if you need me to stop or slow down-"
"I promise to tell you." Bella answered simply and he pushed in, his head falling forward so it was pressed harder to Bella's as he kissed her to keep from saying something too vulgar. With only a few stops and a single sharp intake from Bella, Edward knew what it felt like to find the closest thing to heaven on earth.
Pulling out, he began the ebb and flow as Bella rose to meet his every stroke and then fell back to the thin mattress, a smile spread across her lips. Edward's hands moved to cradle her head as hers ran up and down his lower back, brushing his behind briefly on each pass.
As the tension in her stomach began to build and breaths became shorter, Edward's pace increased and Isabella bit her lip to quiet the moans that were fighting to be heard as she neared her completion. The light slapping of sweat slicked skin echoed through the quiet tent until with one last rise Isabella exploded in a way she never dreamed possible, her ecstasy driving Edward into his own as their movements grew staccato and finally ceased.
Edward tried to keep his weight off of Bella, but her arms pulled him down on top of her so she could feel him there with her in the wake of so much joy. It was several long minutes before another brisk breeze blew through, causing them both to shiver and unfortunately, break apart to partially redress. Once Isabella had her underwear and t-shirt on and her other clothes folded on his footlocker, she climbed back under the blanket with Edward, who held her close to his chest as they spooned on the small cot. "I can't stay long, the last thing we need is for Dr. King to come back and find me here."
Edward reached behind him and took his travel alarm clock off the shelf and set it for 4am, two hours before the night duty would end. "Jasper and Alice will have to return before its light out too, and they'd never leave us in a compromising position. I know I won't get to know the joy of sleeping through the night with you, but how about we pretend for a little while?"
Bella tugged on the arm he had draped around her and held it closer. "I'd love to."
"Goodnight, my love."
"Goodnight, Edward. I love you, too." No other words were spoken between them as they drifted off to sleep. That night, Edward slept more soundly than he ever had before, having finally found his home, in the arms of his angel, as they lie together in hell.