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This one-shot is the sole property of Breath-of-twilight. It may not be copied, published or posted elsewhere without my express written consent which I do not give at this time.

Entry for The Twigasm's First One shot Contest

Author: Breath-of-twilight

Beta'd by Ann

Pairing: B x E

Rated: M- for mature themes. Safe for T readers, though.

Word Count: 4370

Title: Death's final test.

The wind whipped at my shivering skin, leaving in its wake a thundering tremble throughout my entire body. Frostbitten, alone and scared, I trudged through the white and cold. I couldn't see two feet in front of me; I couldn't feel my hands. My teeth throbbed painfully from chattering so hard against one another, and my eyes were frozen open, wide open. I stumbled and fell, crying out as my frozen body allowed the pain to seep through the numb. I lay there, weak and confused and sorry, oh so sorry. Tears that quickly turned to crystallizing icicles slid down my temple and fell to the hard, white earth. I wanted to get up. I wanted to go home, but my body was done; it had given up and was now retreating into itself, hiding from the wicked cruelty of the world. I thought of my mom, smiling, and apples and dancing eyes, and a broken sob fell from my lips as I cried out in pain and tasted the bitter, coppery taste of my own blood. My lips were torn from pulling them apart, molded to each other in frozen form, and now dripping with blood that would fall and color the dull, unrelenting white.

For what felt like hours, I lay there, my eyes open, my breathing shallow, my tears frozen to my cheeks, and I watched the skies pour death upon me. Death was a shadow that had stalked me for too long, and I didn't want to stay awake and watch the world desert me and it finally take me. My thoughts were sluggish and scattered, but they wouldn't stop altogether and just leave me in peace. I tried to close my eyes, but it felt like splinters of glass were being ground along them. The pain kept me lucid; waiting for death's final blow left me immobile and willing. I prayed for it to take me, to end this horrific moment in time. To close the chapter in the life of Bella Swan, the twenty-three year old nobody with no one but her parents to feel regret over. And I did. I regretted leaving them this way. It hurt me to know their pain would be plenty and unrelenting like mine. I would never wish this feeling on anyone; the hollow cavity that should hold my heart was gapping, wide open and empty, and for the first time in my life, it mattered to me. The inability to feel love and want love weighed on me and caused my chest to clench painfully within its frozen confines. I didn't have a bucket list in life; I was content to just watch it pass me by, always feeling different, empty, like an observer watching the world and its happenings through foggy glasses and not really understanding the dynamics. But now, in my final act, I wanted it all, the blistering, painful, exciting shock of love that I had read about so many times, the laughter and tears and moments shared with a true friend, that one spectacular moment in one's life that would just blow them away by the simplicity of it. I wanted that, finally, and now I would never have the chance to even try.

~∞Ѿ∞~

Boiling lava flowed through my entire body. I cried out in terrified agony and struggled to focus on anything around me. I was no longer in the woods; I could tell that simply by the sounds of a television playing nearby, but I was blind to my whereabouts, my eyes seeing nothing but milky-white. Panic settled in, then, and my heart beat a rhythm of unadulterated fear as I struggled to understand.

"You shouldn't move so much. You will hurt yourself more." My breath stuttered and stopped, unable to release as I clamped my mouth shut in fear. Someone was here, wherever here was.

"Do you need anything, more pain pills, perhaps?"

I knew I should be scared. I should scream and kick and bite, but I was a prisoner in my own body, unable to see or move or even know whom it was I should be frightened of, and I did hurt, everywhere. The fire inside of me still licked and flickered through my veins and almost crippled me with its intensity. I would give anything to make the pain go away, so I nodded, or I think I did; I prayed the man saw the movement of my head. I needed the pain to go away.

~∞Ѿ∞~

"You're awake. That's good. You've been sleeping now for just over two days. I tried to wake you, assumed you must be famished, but you were sound asleep. Your body likely needed the rest, to heal, you know?"

My mind was foggy, disorganized thoughts bombarded me, cold and scared and death lingering in my thoughts, but not for long. The beautiful voice took it all away every time he spoke, slightly accented and manly, but with a tranquilizing softness to it.

"More," I rasped out, my voice sounding foreign to my own ears.

"More what? What do you need, Belle brisé fille?"

My heart thudded rapidly in my chest. It proved it was there and that it did, indeed, work. Something about this soft-spoken stranger awoke something within me, and even though I could not see him with my own eyes, I just knew he was a beautiful soul.

"Words, more words." Angry claws scratched at my burning throat with each syllable I pushed out, and I cringed and grasped at my neck as tears pooled and frustration overtook me.

"Here, drink this. It will help." I removed one hand from my throat and blindly reached toward his voice, my trembling hand colliding with a glass causing water to splash onto it. I yelped in surprise and pulled my hand back, tentatively, before reaching for the offered glass once more.

Once the glass clanked against my teeth and my lips wrapped around the edging of the rim, I gulped back the cool liquid greedily. The cool contrast soothed my throat, and I sighed and spluttered as I inhaled the water, but I didn't stop drinking from the glass full of soothing relief.

Once I had quenched my aching thirst somewhat, I sat back, gasping for air and wanting his voice.

"It's like verbal novocaine," I mumbled with a soft smile, cringing as my lips cracked and split at the slight movement.

Soft hands touched my face, and sparks of desire shot through my chin and swirled rapidly into every part of my body. My hands shook with the need to touch him back, and as he swiped some soft ointment across my cracked lips, they parted and a soft gush of desire blew out and into the air.

I felt him shudder against me before he pulled back. "Does that feel better?" I nodded. "Can...I ask you something?"

"Of course, Belle brisé fille, anything."

My breath caught in my throat as the fear of his answer weighed down my heavy heart. I knew the answer couldn't be good, but, still, I needed to hear it. "Why can't I see?"

I could hear him take a sharp intake of breath and realization dawned on me, he didn't know. He couldn't tell I was without my sight, which meant he wouldn't be able to ease the panic that was now consuming me.

Despair and defeat trickled down my face in the form of salty tears. I had spent my life avoiding it, and now that I had a small inkling of what the world could possibly hold for me, I was being punished for my wavering faith.

"I don't know, Belle brisé fille. I don't know. Once you are rested well enough, I can bring you into town. Take you to a doctor or the hospital." My whole body froze at his words. I had so many questions I wanted to know, how I had gotten here? Who he was? Where we were? But the only thing my brain could comprehend right now was that if he took me into town, brought me back to my world of desolation, the light I was only now finally seeing with broken eyes would deplete and slip through my trembling grasp.

Frantically, my mind raced, trying to come up with a way to stay, to have him near.

"Who else is here?"

"No one. I live alone." I sighed in relief. I wasn't sure why, but to find that he might possibly belong to another tore me apart inside. To know he was not made the once empty chasm that held my heart fill and flutter.

"Where is here?"

"My cottage. I live just outside the forest-line. I was looking for my dog when I came across you."

"Is your dog okay?" I felt like smacking myself. The stupidity of my line of questioning did not escape me, but his voice was so smooth and comforting, like spoken comfort on my bare skin. It was intoxicating, and my body yearned for more.

A soft chuckle sent goosebumps skittering across my flesh and a small tremor ran through me. "Yes, he is lazing by the fire, as we speak. Thank you for asking." I inhaled softly, taking a moment to notice how intense everything smelled. I could smell the burning wood from the other room and marveled at the fact that I hadn't until he mentioned it. I could smell mint and musk and man, those smells so close that my mouth began salivating at their proximity. It was him. I just knew it. The smell was so appealing that I had to restrain myself physically from leaning forward and sniffing him like a dog in heat.

"What is your name?"

"Edward. My name is Edward Cullen, and yours is Isabella Swan."

I gasped as my name fell from his lips, in his honey-like voice, and my insides quivered in delight at the sound of it.

"How…how do you know my name?"

"I live just outside town, Isabella. I know many people's names. I just chose to live in solitude most of the time. Therefore, very few know mine."

I considered his cryptic response carefully. If he lived near town, my town, he must have frequented it in order to survive, but his name, as he had expected, was unfamiliar to me.

"Are you hungry? I have some soup warming in the other room. I could bring you some." At the mere mention of nourishment, my stomach groaned and churned. He chuckled, again, the sound so light and mystical that my insides sang in response to the music of his laugh. "I'll take that as a yes. Relax, I'll be right back."

After I had overstuffed myself with the most flavorful soup I had ever tried, my mind began to feel foggy again. I was exhausted, but I didn't want to sleep. He would leave then, and that notion hurt more than I could come to terms with.

As I struggled with the density of my mind, I heard his soft voice, Edward's, and it wrapped around me like a fluffy blanket, "Go to sleep, Belle brisé fille. I will come to you in the morning."

~∞Ѿ∞~

Days passed in a sleepy haze. My mind was alert and full of wonderings, but my body was broken and demanded time to repair itself. One minute I would be looking up into white emptiness, listening to him read; his melodic voice always soothing the weariness in my soul, and then the next, I would be waking up again.

Edward had tried many times to convince me to let him take me into town, to see a doctor, but the idea of not being near him terrified me, and I vehemently refused each and every time, pulling a childish temper-tantrum and guilting him into keeping me. I could tell he was growing tired of my company, of having to tend to me, and it destroyed my newly awakened heart to know that my being around was such a burden to him. But I was selfish, and I liked the way he made me feel, just by being near him, so I continued to act childish and took what was not mine to take, his time.

I awoke one night with a start, my heart hammering in my chest and my clothing clinging to my body. It took me a minute to compose myself and remember where I was, but when my frantic hands landed on his sleeping form, I could feel him all twisted in the chair at the side of my bed, and it all came back to me. I had been lodged up in Edward's cottage, his personal space, for weeks now. Once I was able to get out of bed and walk on my own, memorizing the walls and items in the small room, I made sure to call my parents and let them know I was okay. Neither even noticed my absence; it wasn't like I called home often, anyway. I lived on my own, in a bachelorette pad, with no one to keep me company except for a beta-fish that was likely dead now. I worked from home, writing and editing, therefore, I had no one to report to. My next novel wasn't due to my editors until mid-summer. No one would look for me; no one would even notice I was missing in the first place.

The last few days, my vision seemed to be returning. Bright spots now danced in front of my eyes, bright and blinding, but something other than the white; and I welcomed it eagerly. I desperately wanted to see Edward. I had let my fingers dance along the plains of his chiseled face once before, when he had fallen asleep at my side, his face resting on the edge of the bed I was lying in. I knew it was wrong, to touch him without his knowledge or consent, but I couldn't help myself. His very being called to me, and as he sat day after day with me, whether it be at my bedside or on his couch, listening to him talk about his life and wants and desires, I fell, fast and easy. I was now irrevocably in love with a man I had never truly seen, and he was oblivious to my unreturned feelings. I was hopeless and pathetic, but still I was greedy, and I would take and take until he wouldn't let me take any more.

My fingers edged towards his heat, it was bright red and soft blue, and it swept towards me, called to me, and pulled me to it, and then, my fingers were brushing gently against tuffs of soft, smooth hair. I sighed on contact and immediately relaxed. His soft even breaths told me he was asleep, and I took this opportunity to free myself of the weighted feelings that were held prisoner inside my own heart.

"I'm sorry for burdening you with the task of caring for me for so long. I know I could go home to my parents. They would be surprised to see me, but they would help me until I could once again help myself. But…I can't bring myself to leave your side, willingly. You're going to have to force me to go, Edward. It will hurt, and I will probably put up a fight, but I have no rights to you, and you owe nothing to me. So I know soon, very soon, I will have to go.

"I will keep my memories of you with me always, though, Edward. I could never forget. Before you, I was an empty shell of a human, walking around aimlessly, barely living, just going through the motions because it was what I was expected to do. Now…now, I feel as though life has given me a second chance, a chance to make all my darkness fade and let the light shine through. You are that light, Edward. You are everything I see even when my eyes won't allow such a vision. Behind my lids, in my mind, and in my heart, I can see your smile; I can see your eyes shine and the corners of them crinkle with your bright smiles, and it fills my heart, an organ I never believed I possessed until now. You are everything to me, Edward, and these past few weeks with you, even though they have not been under the most pleasant circumstances, they have been my everything." Tears slid down my cheeks as I closed my eyes and rolled over in the bed. My heart hurt, and I was momentarily angry at it for beating to life only to cause me such pain, but I couldn't stay mad. It had opened in time for Edward, and he was worth it. He was worth so much more than I could ever give him.

"Good night, Edward. I love you."

~∞Ѿ∞~

Sunlight blasted through the curtains and assaulted my eyes. I cringed back from it, frightened and in pain. Weeks with nothing but plain white did not prepare me for the bright yellows and blues that I had not once taken the time to appreciate, and the confusion of colors overwhelmed me, and my eyes shut tightly, liquid brimming at the corners.

I could hear Edward banging around in the kitchen and my heart jumped at the thought of seeing him. I slowly cracked one eye lid at a time and took an excruciating amount of time to let each eye adjust and leak to the resurfacing sensations of color and sight. And when I could handle them staying open for longer than a few seconds at a time, I bolted from the bed, anxious to see Edward.

But when I reached the doorway, his voice rang out, soft and whispered, and my bubbling excitement crumbled away to intense affliction.

"She's doing better."

"I know, I know. But she won't go."

"I don't know what to do. I don't want to push her, but I know I'm going to have to make her go, sooner or later."

"Thanks. I will."

As he placed the phone on its cradle with a soft click, my heart shattered, pain ricocheted within me, consuming me, crippling me; and I doubled over and stumbled back into the room.

I didn't really get to see him, just tousled brown and red hair and a hunched over form. And I couldn't bring myself to go back out there to look. I wasn't sure I could handle seeing him, really seeing him, and then walking away. So, I did the only thing my heart could handle in its precarious state, I flipped open the tiny notepad that was on the bedside table and said goodbye, before I pulled on my boots that were sitting in the corner and my month old clothes, as well. I didn't take the time to take in my surroundings, there was no sense. I would never be back. This place held nothing for me but pain, and all I could think about was getting as far away as possible as fast as my feet would carry me.

When I could hear Edward padding around in the living room, I slipped through the cracked door and made my way into the kitchen. The door was right there, the outside world calling to me, begging me not to look back, not to let the pain consume me completely; and it was right, I had to go. I couldn't pretend any longer. With a stifled sob and a constricting chest, I snuck out the door and ran like my life depended on it. With each stride I took away from the cottage, away from him, something inside me died a little more, and when I reached the long, narrow road, I looked back, just briefly. I'll never forget you, Edward. There's no way in hell I'd ever forget.

~∞Ѿ∞~

I came home to a stifling, empty apartment. I was right, and my little friend was floating belly-side up and covered in goo. Robotically, I went about the small area and dusted stuff off. Discarded my fishy friend to the great toilet in the sky, and then curled up on the floor of the shower stall and let the scalding water beat down on me, a clashing reminder of the pain that filled my insides now merging with the pain the water was inflicting on my outside.

I must have fallen asleep, because a loud, raucous banging startled me awake. I jumped so quickly, in the now freezing water that I slipped and banged the side of my head on the faucet. I grunted in pain as I felt the telltale trickle of blood on the side of my head, and pushed back the stars that danced in my eyes as I stumbled out of the stall and grabbed for a towel.

The persistent banging continued, but I couldn't get my shivering legs to cooperate with my will. My head now throbbed painfully, a dull pitter in my temple, and I had to make the banging stop. I grabbed a small washcloth and pressed it to my temple and staggered into the main area of my apartment, glaring daggers at whoever stood on the other side of the door.

I whipped it open, my eyes squinting into the brightly lit corridor and causing my head to pang infinitely more, and the sight before me tore every angry word from my mouth and left me a stuttering pile of girl in my doorway.

"How could you do that? Do you know how much I worried? And what was with the cryptic note?" Edward's hand flew up, holding in it the note I left, all bunched in his fist. His free hand reached behind him and swiftly shut my apartment door. My eyes widened at the blazing anger burning from his, and for the first time ever, I really saw Edward, and the sight of him scared the living daylights out of me.

"What the fuck does, 'loving you has brought me nothing but an aching pain in the pit of my broken soul' mean, Bella? Since when do you love me? What did you really think professing your love to me in this way would get you?"

I trembled in fright and stumbled back a bit, my one hand reaching back to grab at the couch behind me while the other remained clamped around the washcloth that was now wet with my blood.

Tears welled and dropped from my eyes, a never ending path of sorrow and regret leaking down my face as I struggled to find the words to adequately apologize to him. They were fleeting and empty in my own mind, but the only ones I could come up with in such a frazzled groggy state. "I'm sorry for pushing myself into your world. I took advantage of your kindness, and I forced you to keep me longer than necessary. I can never apologize enough for the imposition I have placed upon you, and for that I am truly sorry. As for the note, I couldn't leave, not even after overhearing your desperate phone call about trying to get rid of me, without at least writing the words to you, words that have changed me irrevocably. I am so sorry."

My body had no strength left. I was spent, completely and utterly spent. I shifted around the couch and collapsed onto the soft pillows, my head lolling to the side and my eyes slowly closing. "For what it's worth, I have never loved another the way I love you, Edward," I whispered, and the blackness crept in, lulled me into a sense of false security and pulled me under.

~∞Ѿ∞~

"Welcome back, Belle brisé fille. How are you feeling? You've been out for awhile. This seems to be a trend for us. I see you, you pass out. Should my ego be bruised because of this?"

My eyes focused in on Edward's face. His words were laced with worry and his lips were drawn back in a frown even though his words were teasing and light. I hated seeing him look so concerned, so pained. Especially, because I knew I was the one to cause such emotions. I couldn't stop staring at him, however. His eyes were bright, intense, hunter-green-meets-aqua. They were mesmerizing. I felt like I could see his soul through those very eyes, and what I saw caused my breath to hitch and my heart to gallop.

"Edward?" I struggled to right myself into a sitting position, and once I was up and looking at him again, my head thumped out a painful rhythm of protest. I clutched my head in my hands, pressing in hopes of pushing the pulsating pain back, but instead my fingers came in contact with prickly spikes. I knew that texture under my fingers well; they were stitches. I looked up to him, wondering how, and he seemed to understand my inner conflict. "My father is a doctor. He came here when I called him and stitched you up. He also left these pain meds for you. Apparently, he knows you well."

My eyes widened as it all clicked together. The reason Edward's name should seem familiar slapped me in the face, cold hard fingers knocked sense into my frazzled mind, and I smiled.

"Doctor Cullen. You're Doctor Cullen's son? I've heard so much about you."

Edward ducked his head and rubbed at the back of his neck, his eyes downcast and a slight blush creeping up his neck. It was adorable; it was perfect; it was Edward, and I instantly wanted to touch him where the pink was spreading to see if he was as warm as he looked, but I didn't dare. I had ruined this man enough already.

"I'm better now. Sorry for inconveniencing you, once again. Here, let me walk you to the door."

"You will do no such thing, and you are of no inconvenience to me. I am right where I want to be." The determination and finality in Edward's voice stopped my movements, and with a staggering breath, I let my eyes meet his, molten chocolate meeting ocean green, and the pull was too strong, too much. I leaned forward and pressed my lips firmly to his. My pounding head tried to protest the quick movement, but I was desperate, and I ignored it. I grappled to him, clawing and grabbing at every piece of him that I could reach, and I pulled him to me, closer, until we fell back and he was on me. Warm and hard and kissing me back, touching me, and my heart soared impossibly high.

Panting and whimpering, we pulled apart for air. With our foreheads pressed together Edward whispered words that would tie me to him forever. "I have watched you for years, Belle brisé fille. Love has driven me close to madness as I have watched from afar the woman I thought I could never have. I never thought there could ever be a single thing that could scare me as much as seeing you laying there, barely alive did, but then you disappeared and left a note that mirrored my feelings and left me feeling desolate and petrified, and I knew I was wrong. There are much worse things than saving your life; you could willingly walk out of mine."

My heart stuttered. I was sure I had heard him wrong. There was no way he was saying what I thought he was.

"I…I don't understand, Edward."

His warm fingers held my face firmly in place, and his eyes met mine and held me there, staring into the depths of his very being, and before he even spoke the words, I believed them. I could see it clearly in his eyes. "I love you, Isabella Swan. I will love you forever." His lips met mine again, and we lost ourselves in gentle touches and tender kisses, and in that very moment, I knew this past month happened for a reason. It wasn't easy, and death was a sick fucker for playing with me the way he had, but there's no way in hell I'd ever forget the lessons I'd learned because of it.

I wrote this for a The Twigasm's First one-shot contest. I never imagined I would stand a chance at winning this contest, especially because, once again, I'd forgone writing in a lemon. But I did. First place, and I am totally stoked about it! Thank you to everyone who read and voted for my one shot. I don't know exactley how the whole decision thing went, but I adore whomever it was that enjoyed this enough to call it 'first place worthy'.

Reviews would be the perfect topping to this mind-blowing news. Please leave one.