Name: Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down

Author: Sdfreeze

Disclaimer: Characters belong to Stephenie Meyer

This story has mature themes of abuse, violence and D/s gone badly wrong.

This story is about learning to survive and live well.

If these themes upset you, please do not continue reading.

Sandi has always said that THIS is her favorite story.

This story was last published on 6/17/10.

There are 9 chapters, but each chapter has many sections.


Chapter: 1

I was lying in the dirt under the merry-go-round and my heart was beating wildly. I kept my eyes shut, but my breathing was too noisy. "Shhh," Edward told me in a whisper. I stuck my hand out and he grabbed it with his. I could hear the footsteps around us slowly fade into the background.

"Bella, if they see us, you run and I will get in their way," he said, trying to be brave. I shook my head back and forth, refusing to leave him, and too terrified to act on my own.

He squeezed my hand and I finally opened my eyes to look at him. "Bella, Bella, Isabella," he started our poem.

"Do you want to be my fella?" I finished, making him smile.

I remembered when he taught me the rhyme and told me it would be something only we would know. He got so frustrated trying to tell me the meaning of the word 'fella.' When I had insisted on using 'boyfriend' he got mad, and told me he wouldn't be my friend anymore if I didn't say 'fella'.

It was a rough life in the State Children's Center. I was small for my age, so the older kids easily bullied me. Edward was very tall, for a seven year old, and extremely smart. He could usually get what he wanted without having to fight for it.

I was crying, huddled into a ball under the slide, the day he first noticed me. He promised to watch out for me and everything changed that day. He taught me how to print my name and how to count to one hundred. He told me I had to study hard, because being smart was the only way out of the bad part of the world. It sounded right to a five year old.

I could hear the steps come back towards us; I closed my eyes again and repeated the poem over and over in my head.

"Here she is," someone called out.

I screamed loudly when hands grabbed my ankles and pulled me into the sunshine. My skirt and white sweater was covered in powdery dirt which formed a cloud of haze around me. I was kicking and flailing around, but I was too small, and too weak, to fight them.

Edward was enraged and tried to fight for me, but adults were too strong for him, too. I held my hands out, trying desperately to reach for Edward, as two men held him tightly in their grasp. He was crying and that terrified me. Nothing ever made Edward cry, and I began to really panic.

"Bella, Bella, Isabella," he cried.

"Do you want to be my fella?" I screamed back to him.

I was pulled into the building and put into a hot shower. I was dressed and primped and brought into a room with other adults. "Bella," I was told, "this is Charlie and Renee Swan, and they will be your parents."

The woman smiled kindly at me and came over to pick me up. "Don't cry sweetheart, you will be very happy with us, and we will love you very much."

I nodded and looked at the tall man with a mustache. His eyes crinkled as he smiled softly and picked up my small suitcase. I was carried to their car and put in the backseat. I stared at the center as we drove away and placed my hand on the window pane. "Bye, Edward," I gasped from crying.

That was eleven years ago, but the memory haunted me like it was yesterday. I never discussed it with my parents. It was not something a five year old knew how to articulate. Edward became an imaginary figure in my dreams; always seven years old, and always trying to save me.

"Bells," my father called to me.

"Yeah," I said coming down the stairs.

"I got it arranged for your work study class, if you still want it, that is."

"Yes, dad, I still want it. I hope to be a therapist someday, so I can't be afraid of crazy people," I insisted.

"I just think you have enough crazy people right here at home," he laughed.

"When do I start?" I asked, ignoring his attempt at humor.

"Just have your teacher sign this form and you can start anytime."

I took the paper in my hand and hugged him, "Thanks, dad."

I was anxious at school the next day. Everyone seemed amazed I would be willing to do my work study at a hospital for the mentally ill. There were some famous residents there, but I refused to listen to the gossip. Nobody knew I came from the state children's home, and I heard their speculations about that place, too.

I put on a brave face as I entered the shiny, tiled hallway of the hospital. I was led to the office of Dr. Carlisle Cullen. He was young, good looking, and extremely kind. He gave me a tour of the place and pointed out a myriad of small jobs I would be doing. He seemed impressed I would agree to work there, too.

When we got to the end of a long hallway I could hear screaming coming from a room behind some glass doors. Dr. Cullen looked distressed and turned to stare sadly at the door.

"Is everything okay?" I asked him

"Yes, it is a patient who doesn't like to be touched. He gets very vocal at shower time," he said sadly.

"Will I ever see him?" I asked, more curious than scared.

"No, Bella, he is my patient and I am the only one to see him. Only the most qualified staff cares for him."

I nodded and looked at the glass door wondering if it was locked, or if I would be able to go in and catch a peak at the mysterious patient. Dr. Cullen assured me I would only be around the more functional patients, and those requiring intense treatment would be separate from my duties.

I began working every day after school and enjoyed the people I worked with. Jasper was such a peaceful guy. He had a way of making even the most harried patient calm right down. He was working on his PhD and was on staff for evenings and weekends. Jasper was so much taller than I was, but he would lean over and stare directly at me with his clear blue eyes.

Emmett was an orderly who was used to bring order when patients got out of control. He had massive muscles and such a fun personality. His deep dimples could be seen with the slightest movement of his face, and his curly hair gave him a childish look. He usually walked me to my car every night so I felt safe, but his girlfriend, Rosalie, was the only person I was afraid of.

She was a no nonsense nurse who could give stares that would turn my blood to ice. Her stature was that of a model, tall and thin. Long, thick, blonde hair hung to her waist, and her tan skin made her look like a California girl, out of place in sunless Washington.

My favorite nurse to work with was Alice. She was tiny, but very authoritative. If she told you to take your meds, you better take them. Her short, dark hair stuck out in stylish spikes, most like trying to make he appear taller. She was the perfect complement to her boyfriend Jasper's calm. Excitement and enthusiasm exuded off of her.

I joined them all in the cafeteria one day, getting a cup of coffee before our shift, when the subject of the mysterious man came up.

"I have to shower Mr. Cullen," Emmett said in dread.

"Mr. Cullen?" I asked, wondering why he didn't say Dr. Cullen.

"Yeah, the psycho, in the room down the glass hallway," he said causing Rosalie to smack him.

"Don't call patients that," she demanded.

"Is he related to Dr. Cullen?" I asked, suddenly very intrigued.

"I think he is a nephew or something," Jasper informed me.

"What's wrong with him?" I asked, hoping I would be considered enough a part of the group for them to share.

Everyone looked at Jasper for the explanation. "He was severely abused by his parents as a child. I don't think he will ever recover," Jasper said sadly.

I felt sick inside and wanted to hold the man in my arms, or beat the tar out of the people who hurt him. I couldn't stand to hear his screams after that point. It broke my heart to hear him so distraught, when people only wanted to help him.

I saw Dr. Cullen coming from the glass door one day. I could see the pain it caused in his eyes to work with his nephew. I walked over and tried the door, but it was locked. I stood and listened to the awful moaning coming from the walls inside that glass hallway.

It was several weeks later I got my first glimpse of the man. I was cleaning in Dr. Cullen's office, dusting a large cabinet and could see a bluish light coming from the cracks. I opened the door to see a series of small monitors showing various places in the hospital, but my eyes were drawn to one spot; the room behind the glass wall, with a man sitting in the corner with his head down, rocking back and forth.

I watched him for a long time hoping he would stand or do something. He only sat and rocked until I saw Emmett enter the room. I could tell he was saying something, but I didn't know how to turn on the monitor's sound.

The man didn't respond, or move at all, until Emmett took a step towards him. He instantly tensed and pulled into a tight ball. Emmett lowered his body and tried to talk to the man again. There was no reaction until Emmett's hand reached out to touch him. The man began swinging wildly at him.

I gasped in horror as I watched Emmett grab him around the waist and lift the tall man off the ground and carry him to the bathroom. I felt tears falling down my face at the thought of the thin man being treated so harshly.

When they finally returned to the room, Emmett was panting from the exertion, but the man was calm. He was still being carried, but was now dressed in new pajamas and had wet hair. Emmett sat him on the bed and then opened a door to retrieve a tray. He sat it next to the patient and left the room.

At first the man just sat there rubbing his beard, but finally he began to eat. He never looked at the food. He stared forward as he spooned things into his mouth. When he was done he finally looked down at the tray. He stared at it for several seconds and then threw it angrily against the wall. I jumped, even though I didn't hear any noise attached to the action.

When Emmett walked me to my car that night I asked about the difficult patient. "Emmett, what is Mr. Cullen like?"

"He's just so upset; I don't even know how to explain it. I don't mind having to fight with him all the time, it is when he is quiet and just looks at me that I can't take it," Emmett said, shaking his head in confusion.

"Do you think he will ever be well?" I asked, trying not to let him hear the heartbreak in my voice.

"No, he can only stay focused in the present for small bits of time. I think he feels safer inside his mind."

I couldn't sleep anymore without seeing the man in my dreams. I was always begging people not to hurt him as he was being manhandled by everyone in the place. I would sneak into Dr. Cullen's office every chance I got to watch him on the monitor. He was always rubbing his thin beard as if it bothered him, but nobody attempted to cut it.

I was in the hallway one day when I saw Dr. Cullen enter the glass door. I ran to his office to watch him work with the mysterious patient. He pulled up a chair close to where his nephew sat against a wall. I desperately wanted to hear what was being said and searched the cabinet for a way to control the sound.

It took me almost ten minutes, but I finally found it. It was hard to make out everything Dr. Cullen was saying, but he seemed to be reassuring the man he was safe. I didn't know how Dr. Cullen could say that, when people came into the room often to touch the terrified man.

"You can trust me," Dr. Cullen said. "I would never hurt you."

The man lifted his head and I heard Dr. Cullen say, "I am so sorry I look so much like my brother. I am nothing like him, I promise."

The man nodded and I smiled at the small progress. "May I see your arms," Dr. Cullen asked.

The man shook his head back and forth. "Maybe someday," Dr. Cullen said softly. The man nodded again.

They sat quietly for several moments and Dr. Cullen finally stood to leave. "Are you sleeping, okay? He asked as he headed to the door.

The man nodded and Dr. Cullen asked, "Any bad dreams?" Again the man nodded. "Well, maybe we'll talk about those someday, too." Dr. Cullen left the room and I watched him enter a counseling session further down the hallway.

I couldn't make myself turn off the monitors; I wanted to see if there would be any change after Dr. Cullen left the room. The man began rocking again, back and forth, as he mumbled to himself. I turned up the volume trying to catch anything he was saying and heard something very softly. It was like he was repeating a phrase of some kind.

I turned up the volume even more and put my ear against the speaker. My heart skipped a beat when I heard him mutter, "Bella, Bella, Isabella."

2

My legs couldn't hold me when I tried to stand and I fell back into the bookcase, knocking over some awards belonging to Dr. Cullen. I grabbed onto the edge of the desk to get my footing and reached out for the door. I had to keep my hand on the wall as I made my way toward the glass room. It felt like everything was moving in slow motion and the hallways kept getting longer and longer.

When I finally reached the glass door, it was locked. I began pounding on it furiously. Alice came running up to grab my hand. "Bella, what's wrong," she said, as she looked at my horrified face.

"It's him, it's him," was all I could say.

"It's who?" she asked as she looked around for a doctor or someone to hand me off to.

I suddenly remembered the layout of the hospital, and pushed past Alice to head down the next hallway. I ran into the supply closet, which shared a wall with the room behind the glass doors. I pulled some bedding off a shelf and began pounding on the wall.

"Edward, can you hear me," I yelled. "It's Bella, I'm here."

I waited for some sort of noise, but nothing came. I pulled some more bedding away from the wall and climbed onto the shelf, putting my ear against the plaster.

"Edward," I screamed louder and pounded with my fist. I finally heard a soft bang against the wall, as if he sat against it. Tears were streaming down my face; I leaned my head against the cold plaster and cried.

"Bella, Bella, Isabella," I heard him begin to repeat again.

"Do you want to be my fella?" I said in loud sobs, with my mouth against the wall. "Edward…." My crying became so loud Jasper easily found me. He tried to quiet me as he came close and rubbed my back.

"Bella, you need to calm down and talk to me. Something has you upset; can you tell me about it?"

I was trying to catch my breath, but every time I tried to talk the crying would return. I didn't know how to explain the greatest boy in the world was behind that wall and something was terribly wrong with him. I had to save him, like he saved me so many times.

"Bella," Jasper said calmly, "would you like something to help you calm down?"

I shook my head furiously and turned back to the wall. I couldn't hear Edward chanting anymore, and knew he must be listening to our conversation. "I….I ….. need to talk to….Edward," I managed to say.

"That is not possible, Bella. Mr. Cullen is under very intense treatment and you can't interrupt it," he told me forcefully.

I turned back to the wall and put my hand against the white paint in despair. Dr. Cullen finally came into the room, trying desperately to figure out what was going on. He came close to me, and held out his hand. I dove into his arms, crying against his white lab coat.

"Call Chief Swan," he said to someone and I instantly pulled away.

"No, I'm fine," I said panicked. I looked into Carlisle's concerned eyes and said, "I know him, I know your nephew."

"Let's go to my office and chat," he said as he smiled at me.

I looked at the mess in the supply closet and said, "I will clean this up."

"Damn right you will," Rosalie said as she winked at me.

I was even more embarrassed when we entered Dr. Cullen's office, to see the mess I had caused and the monitors turned on loudly.

"I'm sorry," I mumbled without offering an explanation. Jasper turned the sound off the monitors and began picking up the things from the bookshelf.

"Leave it," Dr. Cullen said and offered him a chair.

I sat next to Jasper and he held my hand gently, as Dr. Cullen took a seat behind his desk.

"Okay, let's start from the beginning," Dr. Cullen said.

"Is your nephew named Edward?" I asked him as tears began to fall again.

"Yes," he said, causing Jasper's hold to tighten.

"We were in the orphanage together, we were best friends. What happened to him?" I sobbed.

"Edward was adopted by my sadist brother and my mentally ill sister-in-law," he offered with no further explanation.

"They hurt him?" I asked in shock.

"Yes," he said sadly.

My head fell into my hands and I cried loudly at the thought of someone hurting my protector, when I had been given such a wonderful home. "Why, why would they hurt Edward, he was the best person I ever knew," I said in anger.

"I didn't know what was happening to him," he assured me. "I got him out of there as soon as I could."

I pointed angrily at the quiet monitors, "How could you not know, look at him, that doesn't happen to a person without someone knowing."

"Bella, we didn't even know they adopted a child. They kept him chained in a room," he tried to explain.

I covered my ears and cried out in horror, causing Jasper to wrap both of his arms around me. He rubbed my back gently and said, "Bella, this is too much for such a young person. Please let me take you home."

I pulled out of his hold and looked at Dr. Cullen, "I can help him; he remembers me. Please let me talk to him."

"He is too dangerous," he said emphatically.

"No, he only responds when people approach him. I will stay against the wall and never walk towards him. Please, I am begging you. You can watch the entire time."

Jasper looked at Dr. Cullen and said, "I could go in with her, have a syringe ready if we need it."

"No," I screamed at him, "you won't hurt him."

"It only calms him down, nobody will hurt him," Jasper said as he rubbed my arm.

The two men looked at each other for several seconds and Dr. Cullen finally nodded. "Bella, you will not go any further than against the front wall, and you will listen to everything Jasper tells you, understand?"

I nodded quickly and stood to leave. "It will take a few minutes, Bella," Dr. Cullen chuckled and Jasper left the room.

Carlisle turned the monitors back up, and watched Edward as he sat against the back wall with his eyes closed. I tried to see anything familiar in his face, but it was too covered by his facial hair. I looked at his hands, the same hands which had saved me so many times, and saw the familiar long, thin fingers.

I couldn't stop myself from reaching out and touching his image on the screen, giving Carlisle concern. "Bella, you cannot touch him under any circumstances. We can't set his recovery back by allowing unnecessary contact."

I looked at Carlisle and back at the comatose man on the screen. "He was worse than this?" I asked in shock.

I saw tears form in Dr. Cullen's eyes as he nodded to me. Jasper returned and held his hand out for mine. I let him lead me back to the glass door, and noticed which key he used to open it. We walked down a very short hallway and opened the door to Edward's room.

I put my back against the wall and slowly slid down to sit on the floor. Jasper walked into the doorway of the bathroom and leaned against the frame. Edward kept his eyes closed and didn't respond at all. I stared at his face as he gently rocked again.

"I'm so sorry, Edward," I whispered. "You were my savior and I did nothing for you." It was taking all of my control not to run over and hug him tightly.

His rocking stopped, but he didn't respond or open his eyes. "I never forgot you, and I still make beautiful B's just like you taught me," I smiled.

His eyes opened, but he only stared forward. I looked at Jasper and he nodded for me to continue as he wrote furiously on a notepad.

"I wish I knew what happened to you," I said as I began to cry. "I wish you could tell me."

I put my head down as I sobbed, and Edward turned to look directly at me, but as soon as I raised my head he looked away again. I wiped my face and took a deep breath.

"Edward, you were such a good reader. It's hard for me to realize you were only seven. You seemed so old to me and I depended on you, so much."

I stared at his unexpressive face and finally whispered, "Edward, look at me."

It took him several tries to meet my gaze, but he eventually locked eyes with me. "Do you want to be my fella?" I said softly.

He stared at me with tears filling his eyes and eventually falling down his cheeks. I wanted to smile at him, but I couldn't. My entire body was trembling as we stared at each other and cried. He finally mumbled, "Bella, Bella, Isabella."

"Yes," I said, "It's me."

His mantra continued uninterrupted, over and over, for several minutes. I looked at Jasper and begged with my eyes to be able to move closer, but he shook his head at me. I looked over at Edward as he continued to stare at me, and I finally smiled.

Edward stopped mumbling, and his head fell to the side as he looked at me with a quizzical expression. I was surprised by his look and instinctively moved forward.

"Bella," Jasper warned.

Edward instantly pulled into a ball, and shut his eyes tightly as he began to rock back and forth again. I was angry at Jasper for interfering and glared at him. He nodded to the door, telling me it was time to leave, and I shook my head back and forth.

"Bella, don't be difficult," he said quietly to me.

"I want to stay, and I am technically off work," I explained to him.

"That is not allowed and you know it," he said as he lowered his head in warning.

"I'm not hurting him," I said angrily.

"I didn't say you were, it is time to go," he reiterated.

I looked over to see Edward watching me, he never looked at Jasper but his sad eyes were watching everything I did. I decided to ask him what he wanted. "Do you want me to stay?" I asked him.

He nodded ever so slightly and I turned to smirk at Jasper.

Jasper walked towards me and Edward began to make a threatening sound. It almost sounded like a growl, causing Jasper to stop immediately. I scooted along the wall, further away from Jasper, and he gave me a disapproving look.

"Bella, don't make me call for help."

I knew he meant Emmett, and I knew there was no way I could hold my own against that mountain. I also knew it would upset Edward to see them drag me from the room. "Just give me a couple minutes more," I pleaded.

I turned back to Edward and smiled at him again. "Can I come visit you?" I asked.

He stared at me without responding and my heart fell.

"Edward," I begged, "I won't forget about you. I will come every day, okay?"

He finally nodded, just barely noticeably, and I nodded back at him. I pushed myself up the wall and stood as I nodded for Jasper to walk out first. He slowly headed out the door and I quickly tossed my badge to Edward before I followed.

He didn't move or try to catch it; he only stared down at the face on the plastic as he began mumbling again. I felt euphoric and hugged Jasper tightly. "He remembers me," I giggled.

Carlisle met me in the hallway and his face was excited. I ran over and hugged him too, my exuberance totally out of line, but I couldn't help it. The heartbreak I had felt earlier was now replaced with hope. We headed back to Dr. Cullen's office and I sat across from him again.

"I will have to consider your friendship with Edward into his therapy," Carlisle said happily. His eyes were bright and I could tell his mind was spinning with plans.

"I want to visit with him, everyday," I informed him. "I want to be in the room alone."

"I don't think that is a good idea," Jasper added, making me glare at him. "You will be too tempted to rush things."

"I would never hurt him," I said angrily. "You could trust me to do only what Edward wants me to do. Let him lead on this."

Carlisle's eyes moved over my head, onto one of the screens, and horror crossed his face. I turned to see Edward on the small monitor, his face filled with rage, as he tore his room apart.

Carlisle and Jasper ran from the room. I watched on the screen as Emmett held Edward to the ground and Jasper injected something into him. I reached out and touched his imagine on the screen with my finger as tears filled my eyes. All my hope began to vanish.

3

The rain was pounding hard on the roof as I sat in class, completely unaware of what was going on around me. I had not seen Edward since Friday, and my parents refused to let me visit the hospital on the weekend. The clock would not move quickly enough, so I could head to my job.

"Bella knows, don't you?" someone said to me.

I turned to see Mike Newton smiling at me and I didn't bother to return the gesture, "I know what?" I asked.

"You know who Jessica likes," he prodded.

I looked at Jessica to see her warning eyes glaring at me, and I looked away from all of them. Their problems were so petty compared to Edward's. My entire focus was on helping him.

"Are you mad at us or something?" Angela asked me.

I stood up and gathered my books without commenting, and headed out the door. I decided to skip afternoon classes and head straight to the hospital. When I arrived Dr. Cullen was not in his office. I looked all over for someone willing to let me see Edward, but nobody was around.

I headed to the supply closet, and instead of throwing the bedding to the ground, I gently moved it to another spot. I scooted onto the shelf and sat with my legs pulled against me. "Edward," I called out.

I waited for some sort of noise. "Edward, it's me, Bella. I am so sorry I couldn't come this weekend, my parents wouldn't let me."

I could hear what sounded like soft crying, and regretted bringing up the subject of parents. I tapped gently on the wall and said, "Don't cry Edward; please don't cry."

I heard the sound of scrapping against the wall, and figured he was sliding over to better hear me. "Do you want to be my fella?" I said as I put my hand on the wall.

"Bella," he whispered back to me.

"I'm here, Edward, I will always be here for you."

We sat in total silence and I finally said, "Remember when you told me oatmeal would turn my hair blonde?" I chuckled at the memory. "I ate so much oatmeal and I'm still a brunette, Edward."

I heard him say my name again, so I continued. "Or when you taught me how to jump out of the swing, and I had bloody knees for a week."

"Sorry," he muttered, and my heart skipped a beat.

"Edward, my hand is against the wall, put yours up to mine," I said.

I could hear his hand bump against the wall, and I shut my eyes, trying to imagine his touching mine. We sat that way for several minutes and he finally spoke. "Bella," his voice called out softly.

"Yes, Edward," I said.

"Did anyone hurt you?" he asked.

"No," I said as tears formed. "But someone hurt you, didn't they?"

He didn't answer for a bit, but finally said, "Yes."

"You know I would never hurt you, don't you?" I asked him. "I want to hold you, Edward, like you used to hold me. May I?"

"You can't," he finally answered. "I'm bad."

"No you aren't," I said harshly, "You are wonderful; do you hear me, Edward? You are wonderful."

"Bella," he said with anguish in his voice.

"What?" I asked him

He didn't say anything and began repeating my name over, and over. I shut my eyes, and listened to the voice which had brought me so much contentment, and wished I could do the same for him. I pressed my forehead against the wall and began repeating his name every time he said mine.

He finally stopped and I asked again, "May I hold you, Edward? Will you be my fella?" I could hear him crying again and my heart was breaking. "Hang on," I said, "I'm coming."

I headed out of the closet and began calling out for either Jasper or Dr. Cullen. Carlisle finally came out from one of the patient rooms and gave me a disappointed look.

"I'm sorry," I said, "But I need to see Edward."

"I have a session with him next, and then I will let you in for a bit," he answered.

I nodded and headed to his office to watch on the screen. I saw Edward sitting against the back wall crying and I couldn't stand it one moment longer. I rummaged through Dr. Cullen's desk and found a set of keys. I knew this would most likely get me fired, but if I was able to touch Edward it might be enough to make them reconsider.

I entered the room and slid against the wall into a sitting position. "Edward," I called out hoping he would look at me.

He only stared forward with his tears still falling.

"I was too afraid to run that day," I said softly. "I wanted to stay with you."

He began saying my name over, and over, so I slid along the wall to get closer to him. "I'm sorry I had to leave, I didn't want to leave you," I said.

This time he looked at me and seemed startled by my close proximity. His body tensed and he pulled into a ball.

"I hate them," I said as I began to cry. "I hate them for doing this to you."

He began rocking back and forth as I stared at him. "My name is Bella Swan now. My dad is a policeman and my mom is a teacher," I began to ramble. "I have a friend named Jessica, she is so boy crazy," I laughed. "She has a new boyfriend every week."

Edward looked at me and his eyes were so sad.

"But my fella has always been Edward," I said softly.

I put my hand out towards him and let it lay, facing upward, on the floor. He looked at it and then back up at me. He slowly extended his hand out to lie next to mine, but not touching. I had to shut my eyes when I saw the scars on his inner arms. Somebody had burned him repeatedly.

I swallowed and forced myself to look back at his eyes. He was staring at me and I smiled at him. He held my gaze and I felt the tension building in the air. "Are you still my fella?" I finally asked him.

His brow furrowed and he looked tortured as he lowered his eyes. "Edward," I said loudly getting his attention back. "I want you to still be my fella."

He began to rub his beard and I smiled wider. "You should shave it," I suggested. "I can't see your face, and you have such a great face." I extended my thumb to lap over his.

He didn't react and turned his head to lie on his knee and look at me. "I'm sixteen and you are eighteen," I giggled. A small smile formed on his face. "And you don't need to protect me anymore. I can protect you," I said with confidence, as I slid my hand into his palm.

He stared at it for a moment and then closed his hand around mine. I grinned at him like a Cheshire cat and felt a warm sensation spread through my body. "I have so much to tell you, my Edward," I said to him. "I want to show you the music I like, and bring you to my home, and let you meet my friends."

His hand tightened and his face saddened. "I can't," he whispered.

"You can't right now, but you will get better," I tried to say confidently.

He only stared back at me, so I patted my lap as I straightened out my legs. "Lay here, Edward, and let me tell you all about my life."

He looked terrified, but slowly moved to lay his head in my lap. I ran my fingers through his long hair and eventually into his beard. He closed his eyes and began to relax against me.

I talked, and talked, as he breathed steadily in my lap. I was sure he was sound asleep, but I didn't care. I continued to tell him every single boring detail about my life.

I was still chatting when the door opened and an orderly stepped inside. He gave me a look that told me I was in deep trouble, but I held my finger to my lips, telling him to be quiet. He held up a towel and a fresh pair of pajamas and I motioned for him to put them in the bathroom.

When he left, the sound of the door startled Edward, and he jumped up and back into the fetal position against the wall. I held still until he got his bearings and looked at me again. "Hi," I said softly, and he smiled.

"Edward," I began. "I don't like them showering you. I want them to leave you alone and let you do it. Do you think you can do it alone?"

He tensed and his eyes dropped to the floor. "I will help you if you want. Remember how I hated having my hair washed, and you told me I wouldn't drown if I let my head fall back? You told me to pretend I was an explorer on a wild river, and I should let the water splash on me, so the ride would be fun."

He nodded slightly and I laughed, "It wasn't fun, you know."

He smiled, and I nodded towards the bathroom. "You can do it. Will you walk with me?"

I stood very slowly as tension filled his body. I held out my hand and he finally took it and stood. He was still so tall, and I couldn't stop myself from bringing his hand against my cheek. I closed my eyes, as I held it tightly to me.

I led him to the bathroom, and began the shower, while he began to slowly undress. I didn't look at him as I left the bathroom, and not because I was too shy, but because I was terrified to see the marks on him.

He returned to the room with his wet hair combed and his pajamas on. I was sitting on his bed and it made him nervous, so I moved back to the wall. He slowly made his way over to me and sat down. "Do you like the beard?" I asked him.

He shook his head back and forth and I giggled. "Can I shave it off for you?" I asked him.

He nodded and I slowly reached up to run my fingers through it. He inhaled sharply and closed his eyes, so I moved onto my knees and pulled him to my chest, as I held him with my two arms wrapped around his head. I lowered my face to the top of his head and laid it against his wet hair.

"Everything will get better," I assured him. "I will make sure of that."

There was a very soft knock on the door and Edward recoiled away from me, back to the comfort of the wall. I watched as Dr. Cullen came in and prayed he didn't throw me out of the place. "Bella, I was looking in the cabinet," he said, knowing I would understand what he meant. "I think you should stay for the session, if Edward doesn't mind."

I looked at Edward's closed eyes and said softly, "Hey, fella, can I stay with you while Dr. Cullen talks to you?"

He opened his eyes and eventually nodded. "Can I hold your hand?" I asked him. It took several moments before he finally held his hand out to me. I moved next to him and held it tightly with both of my hands.

Dr. Cullen stayed on the far side of the room and sat in a chair. "Edward, do you remember, Bella?"

Edward nodded and I smiled at him.

"Bella is a very brave young woman, she broke into your room with stolen keys," he said.

I laughed and looked at Edward and shrugged, "Nobody was around to unlock the door."

He finally smiled back at me and I rubbed his hand with my fingers. "He wants me to shave his beard," I told Dr. Cullen.

"We have staff that can assist him," Dr. Cullen said.

I looked at Edward and asked, "Do you want staff to do it?"

He shook his head back and forth and I turned back to Dr. Cullen, "He wants me to do it."

"Edward, do you like Bella touching you?"

I let my mouth fall open, appalled at the question, and looked at Edward. "If you don't want me to touch you I understand," I said, knowing full well it would break my heart if he agreed.

He slowly pulled his hand to his own lap, bringing mine along with it, and I smiled widely at Dr. Cullen.

"Edward, remember when you told me Mrs. Spellman picked her nose and I shouldn't hold her hand?" I laughed at the memory.

"I didn't like it," he said softly.

"What?" I asked, in shock he responded.

"I wanted you to hold my hand," he said in slowly halted speech.

I leaned my head against his shoulder and sighed, "I loved holding your hand."

We sat quietly until Dr. Cullen said, "Edward, I want Bella to leave now."

My head snapped up and Edward tensed, as he let go of my hand. "Why?" I demanded.

"This is between me and Edward, please Bella, go."

I turned to plead with Edward, but he wouldn't even look at me. "I don't want to go," I said in a panic.

Edward's head slowly turned, "I don't want you to hear this," he said sadly. He leaned in closely so he could whisper softly, "I don't want you to know what happened to me."

I swallowed and nodded my head. "Can I come back?" I asked him.

"If you eat your green beans," he said with a smile.

I raised my hand, to put it next to my mouth, and whispered, "Those still go in the trash." I stood and skipped to the door, just like I did when I was little, and turned to look at Edward's watching eyes. I smiled and stuck my tongue out at him, causing him to grin back at me.

I couldn't express the happiness I felt.