Odds and Ends

These are just little ficlets and drabbles which don't merit posting individually, but which I'd like to share anyway.

I make no proprietary claim to Twilight or any of its characters. Just playing around.

Chapters will vary in rating. Overall rating of M to cover everything. All pieces are Edward/Bella unless otherwise indicated.


Shadows

I was flying down the road at 55 miles per hour when I realized I was certifiably insane.

What was I doing? This wasn't me. I didn't risk my life seeking thrills. What was my life now? Chasing memories and shadows? Seeking danger just to hear a voice that somehow meant more to me than any possible risk?

He was gone…but he was still my life. And what was I doing about it? Searching for hallucinations? No. No more. I had to find him, whatever it took. If he had loved me once, it was possible he could love me again…maybe if I was strong and beautiful like he was. Maybe if I could find someone to change me –

"Bella!" his beautiful voice called out in warning. I saw the pothole in the road an instant before my tire hit it, and suddenly I was airborne, flying, floating…crashing.

There was pain in my head and my right knee, but I ignored it. I ignored the stench of blood that made my head swim. I ignored Jacob's shouting and his pounding footsteps. I had to go.

I struggled to my feet just as Jake reached me. He was fussing, trying to make me sit back down, but I shoved his hands away. "I need you to take me home, Jake."

"You need to go to a hospital, Bella. You'll need stitches –"

"Home!" I insisted, charging toward my truck. I vaguely heard Jacob picking up my motorcycle. He could have left it; I wouldn't be needing it anymore. I dragged myself into the cab and took off my blood-splattered jacket to press against my head.

Jacob was shaking his head when he slid into the driver's seat. "You have to go to the hospital, Bella. I don't think that's going to stop bleeding on its own…"

"No, Jacob," I snapped. "What I have to do is get home so I can put a stop to this. Do you have any idea what's going on here? The only reason I was on that motorcycle today, the only reason for any of this is that when I do something dangerous, I hear his voice…it's the only thing I live for now. And…I have to change that."

Jacob's scowling face turned on me. "Damned right, you have to change that! Why on earth would you let that scum still have any hold over you?"

I just shook my head. "You'd have to love somebody the way I have to understand."

His face twisted furiously, but he drove in silence. I felt that this chapter of my life was closing, and I couldn't bring myself to feel sad about it. I didn't like to hurt Jacob, but I would love to forget the months without Edward completely.

Jacob tossed the keys to me after he pulled to a stop in front of my house. "I'll ride my bike back to the Rez," he said shortly. "You can explain the other one to Charlie."

Charlie was the least of my concerns right now. I locked my truck up and watched Jacob ride away, never looking back. Just as well. I went into the house to find something to bandage my head with before I started on my mission.

I went to my room first to stash my bloody jacket and take off my dirty clothes. I was rifling through my dresser drawer when I heard the voice again.

"Bella."

I closed my eyes and savored the sound. "But I'm not doing anything dangerous right now."

The voice snorted. "Bleeding while a vampire is in the room doesn't qualify as dangerous?"

I was still trying to process that statement when I felt it. A cold hand on my shoulder, turning me around.

I found myself gazing into the face that was permanently etched into my memory…but my memory had never been this good at conjuring it up before. No matter why this was happening, I didn't want it to end.

"Edward?"

The apparition sighed and shook his head. "Riding motorcycles, Bella? What were you thinking? Didn't you promise me you'd take care of yourself?"

"It was because of you that I did it," I muttered.

He sighed again and reached up to gingerly inspect the gash on my forehead. As his fingers brushed my skin, I was struck with the knowledge that this was real. No hallucination could ever emulate the sparks flying, the cold warmth, the slow burn that was Edward's touch. I sucked in a gasp, and his fingers hesitated.

"You need stitches, Bella. That won't close on its own."

I panicked. Were we going to be parted, already? "I don't want to go to the hospital."

His lips pursed. "I can do it. Carlisle should have an emergency kit at the house. I'll go get it."

"No!" I cried as he turned to leave, filled with a foreboding sense that he would not return.

"It'll be all right," he said gently. "Your blood isn't a problem for me anymore."

I swallowed. "No, that's not – I just don't want you to go."

Something odd passed over his eyes, something pained. "Would you like to come with me? Would that help?"

I nodded. "Okay."

Slowly, as if approaching a wounded animal, Edward reached out to me and lifted me in his arms. A strange calm settled over me, tucked against his body. I barely noticed him jumping out my bedroom window, flying through the wilderness. He was here, holding me. Did anything else matter?

Soon we were in Carlisle's study. I recognized the room only by the chair, desk, and shelves that were still there, all covered in plastic to keep the dust off. The paintings, the books, the odds and ends were all gone. It wasn't right.

Edward tugged the plastic off the chair and sat me gingerly in it. I watched him lift the plastic off the desk to dig in the bottom left drawer. He pulled out a large first aid kit, which I gathered was more thoroughly stocked than those in average households.

"There should be sutures in here," he murmured, shuffling through the contents.

"Do you know how to do this?" I asked as an afterthought.

He laughed to himself. "Yes. I've been to medical school twice."

"Oh." There was so much I didn't know about him still. Would he give me another chance to learn?

"Why did you come back?" I asked as he prepared his supplies.

"Alice saw you getting into all kinds of trouble looking for us," he told me, not looking away from his work.

Oh, of course. Alice had seen me decide to seek him out, and he had come to stop me. But at least he was here. I had found him, or he had found me, and this was my chance.

"You must have been fairly close, if you got here so fast," I said.

He turned to me with an alcohol wipe and let out a sigh. "I was in eastern Washington. This will sting a bit," he warned before he began to clean the cut. I winced, but it wasn't anything I hadn't felt before.

"Is that where you're living now?" I asked. Had they really been so close all along? I had pictured them in some far-off destination. Somewhere exotic, somewhere more fitting for them.

"No, the family is living in Ithaca, New York right now. Carlisle is teaching at Cornell."

He finished cleaning the cut and lifted a scary-looking needle that I was all too familiar with. "Then why were you here?"

"I was…looking for something." He obviously didn't want to tell me about it. I decided to stop questioning him; I didn't want him irritated with me when I was trying to win his heart back. "I'm sorry, Bella, there's no anesthetic here. This is going to hurt."

"I've had worse."

Edward frowned thoughtfully, then placed my right hand on his shoulder. "Hold on to me, as tightly as you need. You won't hurt me."

"Okay," I agreed, clutching him tightly. I dug my fingernails into his shirt as I felt the needle pierce my skin. It did hurt; I'd had stitches before, but I'd always been numbed. I distracted myself from the pain by watching Edward's face. His jaw was clenched tightly, and I recognized the pained look in his eyes that had to be caused by resisting my blood. I should have just gone to the hospital; I shouldn't have made him do this.

He made four stitches. I sagged with relief when he told me he was done.

"That should be enough," he sighed, wrapping a gauze bandages over the site and around my head. "I didn't want to do any more than was absolutely necessary. You might have those looked at…just in case."

"I trust you," I said, looking down at my hands.

"I'll be right back," he said, getting to his feet. "I need to wash my hands."

My heart pounded when he disappeared from my vision, but he was back in seconds, standing before me again. He sat on the edge of the desk and gave me a penetrating stare.

"Bella…what's going on here? Why are you riding motorcycles? Why were you going to look for us?"

This was my moment to tell him everything. My throat was dry. I searched for the words, ignoring his impatient eyes.

"I…I need you," I admitted, closing my eyes. I couldn't bear to see the repulsion in his eyes. "I'm sorry; I tried to move on, to be normal, but it just doesn't work. I can't feel anything except – except when I hear your voice. I can hear you talking to me whenever I do something dangerous. That's why I bought the motorcycles. But today, when I was riding, I realized I couldn't spend the rest of my life chasing hallucinations…and that's all there is for me if you can't love me again."

His voice was soft. "What will you do if I leave again?"

It felt like my chest was caving in. "I – I don't – I don't know…" I wouldn't cry. I couldn't cry, or I might never stop.

"Oh, Bella…Bella, look at me," he said, lifting my chin with his cool fingers. I opened my eyes and found him kneeling before me, eyes soft and buttery warm like they had been before my disastrous eighteenth birthday party.

"Why did you have to go?" I asked desperately. "Just days before you left, you still loved me. I know you did. What changed? Why did you stop loving me?"

"Bella…Bella, I never stopped loving you," he said fiercely, taking my face between his broad hands. "Nothing changed; that was the problem. When you were nearly killed by a member of my own family, I realized you could never be safe with us. How could I go on risking your life when your life means everything to me? I had to leave, we all had to leave, so that you would be safe."

"But I'm never safe," I blurted out, unable to process what he was saying. "I almost got crushed by a van a week after I moved here. I was nearly raped in Port Angeles. I needed you to save me…I always needed you…"

"Bella, love, calm down," he murmured, smoothing down my hair with one hand while the other still cupped my cheek. "Do you hear what I'm telling you? I love you. I want you. I need you. Forever, always. I see now that I was wrong to leave. I only did it for you, and I'll stay for you, if you want me, I swear. I'll stay for every last minute of your life, as long as you'll have me."

He gazed at me with his pleading eyes, and I fell forward into the comfort of his embrace, seeking refuge from the reality that had been slowly killing me.

"Show me it's real," I begged him, holding on as tightly as I could. "Please, I need to know it's real."

"It's real," he breathed, ghosting his lips over mine. "It's real," he repeated, this time pressing a fierce kiss to my mouth. My blood sang, danced, called for him. "Nothing is more real than this," he swore.

I clung to him and his soft voice and his drugging kisses. The pain numbed and faded. I felt alive again. I took shelter in his body, knowing I had a chance now. The world was still full of shadows, but I had found my way back to the light.