(Twilight theme by Stephanie Meyer)
**Italicized passages are memories**
Edward winced at this memory because it confirmed what he had feared her last day in Forks. She was still his back then and asking for the one thing he denied her; immortality.
Edward peered up at Bella's bedroom window. It was still shut and the curtains were drawn tightly. She hadn't left her house in over a week. Charlie claimed that she was sick and for once his manner was polite. A quick view into Charlie's mind told Edward that he wasn't lying. Charlie was truly worried for his little girl and it was wearing on him. Edward had taken to sitting under the window at night and what he heard worried him as well. Bella's breathing was quick and heavy as though she were freezing then biting back pain. Soft moans escaped her in her limited sleep and it made Edward crazy. She shut him out when she needed someone. One night Edward's cell phone rang and he answered it hoping it was Bella.
"Hello?" He tried to keep his voice steady.
"Edward, I need you to come home. I have seen something." Alice said and her tone did not give anything away.
"Can it wait?" Edward said letting every bit of the imposition shine through.
"It is important." She said and hung up so he couldn't argue with her.
He hurried through the woods and arrived home in a matter of minutes. Alice kept moving through the house and her mind was chanting a foreign alphabet song. Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Greek….
"What is going on Alice?" Edward demanded and she froze. Edward listened hard and the unmistakable sound of Bella's truck was passing on the highway. Edward bolted for the garage and jumped into the shiny silver Volvo to follow her. When he caught up to her, she ignored his headlights and quickly crossed into the La Push territory. He turned around immediately and sped back towards his home to confront his sister, but she had left. Jasper had no idea where she went and was hesitant to let him track her down. Edward decided to wait for Bella at her home.
The latch to her window gave a sharp shriek as he broke it and slid gracefully inside her room. There were no tissues, medicine bottles, or anything to indicate that a sick person had been here. The bed was made which was a bit odd, usually the comforter would be pulled up to hide the tangled sheets, but this was almost military standard. The books and CD's that typically lived scattered about the room were neatly placed where they belonged. Edward sat in the rocking chair in the corner of the room and waited. Hours past and the sun peeked out over the horizon before he heard the ancient truck chug into the driveway.
Edward had moved to lie on her bed after dawn and decided to stay there instead of running out to grab her. He steadied his emotions and resolved to be calm when she came in. She walked up the steps two at a time and entered to find him lying there, still as a statue.
"How long have you been here?" She asked and placed her backpack down behind her desk chair. As she passed him, he smelled it; werewolf. Jealousy spiked up in his heart and he closed his eyes and silently counted to keep his emotions from causing an outburst.
"Long enough to know you have been avoiding me." He remained still.
"I need to talk to you." She said suddenly and took a seat on the edge of the bed. He sat up slowly so he was sitting across from her.
He reached out to take her hand, but she jerked away. That hurt him; it was a stab to his heart. He felt it coming, but he could not say anything more than, "Okay, let's talk."
"Edward." Her breath staggered as she paused, "I love you, but I can't stay human. And before you say anything about your plan…" She stopped him, "…I need you to hear what I am saying. I want to be on the same level as the person I spend the rest of my life with. I can't stay human if I want to be with you because it limits how we can be together. You live in a world that doesn't understand our relationship. I live in a world where you don't exist. If we don't have a future together, I would rather break it off and be able to look back and smile at what we shared." To Edward the words sounded fake and hollow; it was like she lifted them from a movie or perhaps one of her books. He re-played her words over and over and finally picked out the words he needed to address.
"I love you, but…" he repeated. The words pained him because he knew that they meant she was giving up. He left her to have her normal life and she found a way to be with him anyway. Now she was leaving him. He couldn't help but think it was because she was outgrowing him. He was older by decades, but at the core he was still a scared 17 year old boy. Bella was not stuck, she was able to grow and evolve.
"I have been doing a lot of thinking and I've realized that the way I love you is not healthy. I am willing to give up everything to be with you. I am offering to die for you. Then I try to see it from your point of view and I am ashamed at how I have acted." This caught Edward off guard. "You love me so much that you want to spare me the life you and your family have been struggling to manage. At some point we have to realize that if I love you too much to leave and you love me too much to change me we will continue to suffer. I refuse to be so stubborn and cause you that pain."
"Bella, no!" Edward was pleading, the pain in his heart quickly multiplied as the pieces fell into place.
"I am leaving. I am not going to Dartmouth or Alaska. Please don't interfere with my life because I am not sure if I have the strength to move on if you do."
"Love, we can make it work. I can't give you up Bella."
"Have you changed your mind?" She asked, but he noted that her eyes held no hope in them.
He tried to say yes, but he could not stop thinking about her warm skin turning icy and her heartbeat disappearing. What if he could not manage bringing her over? The risk involved was too much and through gritted teeth he gave his answer, "I will not end your life."
She peered at his face through her lashes and whispered, "…and I won't stand still."
Her heartbeat staggered and tears ran down her face as she kissed him softly on the lips. Her tears were salty and somehow made the pain in his chest worse. Her tears were tangible proof of her own pain. Edward felt the differences between them magnify as he touched her warm soft cheeks with his icy cold fingers.
"Please, stay with me. I will find a way to move forward with you." He pleaded again, but all he got was a shake of her head. She kissed him again and this time parted her lips. Her warm tongue grazed his and her scent filled his senses.
She had broken the kiss and pressed her forehead to his, "I know you are worried about the Volturi, but I have a plan in place. Alice has assured me it will be successful as long as you do not interfere." Her flat tone was not the calming influence she hoped it would be. Edward looked into her eyes and a pang of betrayal rose in his chest.
"You knew that I would not change my mind when you came here." He accused.
"Yes. I have been distant the past week because I needed to put everything in place and make my plans." She explained weakly.
Edward saw the room for what it was now. She had packed up her life and she was leaving. She snuck out to La push last night to say her goodbyes to her best friend. The kiss they shared was a goodbye kiss, but he didn't know it would be so abrupt.
"When are you leaving?" He asked.
"Charlie has my bags in the cruiser. He is driving me to the airport this afternoon."
The clock on her bedside table flashed 9:20am and that did not leave a lot of time. Edward lay back down and held open his arms so Bella could slide in next to him. They lay there in silence taking every opportunity to kiss and breathe in each other's scent. They did not think about anything outside of that moment. They were savoring the few minutes they had left with each other. Edward thought of a song that he heard years ago. It was such an absurd thing to do, but the words fit perfectly. Breathe out so I could breath you in, hold you in… if everything could ever feel this real forever, if anything could ever be this good again… Would anything ever feel this way for him again? Holding someone he cared about the way he cared for her? Would she change her mind and be his ever again? She exhaled and he took her into him and held her there.
A soft knock came at the door and Charlie's voice broke through the bubble they created around them. "Isabella, you will miss your flight. Let's get going." His heavy footsteps faded down the stairs and Bella got to her feet and picked up her backpack. Edward pulled her into one last hug and then she left his life without another word.
That had been the last time Edward and Bella were face to face. It was not the last time Edward saw her though. Jacob's body had stilled again and Edward decided to lower himself from the tree. He hit the ground with a barely audible squish of shoes on wet grass.
"I was wondering when you would get down from that tree." Jacob growled. "I have been waiting years for this moment bloodsucker!" He got to his feet and towered a good foot above Edward's head. The muscles in his body trembled and at this distance the drops of rain that evaporated from Jacob's hot skin were obvious.
"I am not here to fight you, mongrel. I have come to pay my respects to Bella."
"You have no right to set foot here. This is our land and she is mine." He was straining to keep his shape and his anger made it easy to slip into the pack plural. The way he spoke of Bella alarmed Edward. Dealing with her death should have changed it to she was mine.
"She was as much mine as she was yours Jacob Black. Her headstone reads daughter and friend. No mention of a husband."
"We don't need jewelry to prove that what we have is real." He said and Edward noticed it was in the present tense again; don't not didn't and have not has. What is going on? Edward wondered; had Jacob had a breakdown?
"She is gone Jacob. There is no reason for us to fight. She would not have wanted that, ever." Edward said this slowly with emphasis on his tense choices.
Jacob did not acknowledge his words instead he returned to his former place next to her grave. He stood silent and as though he were waiting.
"How did it happen?" Edward whispered this knowing that the werewolf could hear him. "She was still so young…"
Jacob's shoulders stiffened, "Poison." He spat the word. Edward watched the memory flood Jacob's mind and he tensed.
"Bella, are you okay? You're freezing." Jacob held her against his warm skin and her muscles trembled.
"My body feels like it is burning up." She said through gritted teeth and pulled away from his hot skin. Jacob wondered where Charlie was, usually when the 'leech' was out hunting Charlie took the opportunity to spend more time with Bella. Jacob looked down at his friend who was wearing a tank top and a pair of boxer shorts in 40 degree weather. He placed his hand under her chin and saw that her eyes were completely bloodshot.
"Bells, what's wrong? You're freaking me out." He grabbed the ends of her comforter and wrapped them around her lightly trembling shoulders. Her breathing hitched as she tried to answer him.
"I feel like my insides are burning, but my skin is frozen. It started last night, but I thought it was just a reaction to Edward's temperature. After he left it was like I was too hot to sleep and then it just got worse and worse. I don't know where to go Jake." She was doubling over in pain and Jacob knew that he needed to get her to a hospital.
"We're going to the hospital, c'mon." He secured her arms around his neck and wrapped her in the blanket before rushing down the stairs. They were out the door and in her truck a moment later. She was protesting, but Jacob was too worried to listen to her.
"Jake!" She begged as he fastened her seatbelt. He started the truck and her hand darted out with inhuman speed to grab his collar. "Jacob listen! I am burning like my bite did." Her tone was calm and it gave her words an ominous feel. The road they were on would take them to the nearest E.R., but that would not help her Jacob knew. He took a sharp u-turn and they headed for the reservation. They had a small hospital and friends of the pack worked there. Bella passed out from the pain and Jacob pushed the truck to its limits to get her to the hospital. Jacob carried Bella inside and yelled at an attendant to find Dr. Atera. The attendant looked from Jacob's shirtless chest to Bella's lack of clothing and made a face.
"Hurry!" Jacob snapped at him and that snapped him out of his judgment. The attendant ran through the double doors that separated the waiting room from the exam rooms. The waiting room area was full of people and all of them had their attention on the tall Native American boy and his white girlfriend.
Dr. Atera rushed into the front room, upon seeing Bella she barked orders for Bella to be taken to the back, "Put her in exam room 1 and get a detailed history." The same attendant that Jacob yelled at looked as though he was going to pee himself. Once Bella disappeared Crystal Atera stopped Jacob, "Why did you bring her to me? The hospital in Forks was much closer, wasn't it?"
Jacob bit back his annoyance, he knew that Crystal would help any of the pack members and Bella was obviously not one of them. Crystal and the others on the reservation felt like the needs of their hospital were barely being met and having a non tribe member being treated here was a slap in the face of all the people who were suffering. Jacob took a deep breath and let it out in an exaggerated sigh, "It is a pack thing Doctor Atera." He was shaking with agitation and her eyes flashed confusion, but when Jacob's serious expression did not waver she gulped and followed Bella.
Bella had regained consciousness by the time they caught up to her. The male nurse who had carried her in was trying to restrain her, but she was squirming.
"At least give me your name!" The nurse said impatiently. Crystal stopped him right there, "Get out, from what her boyfriend has told me she may be contagious. I want you to wash up and take a vitamin c cocktail. Then make sure no one comes near this room." He stared at her like she just told him he had bathed in Ebola. "Got it?" she snapped and he bolted from the room without another word.
Bella sat up and Jacob noticed that her slight trembles had evolved into full on shakes. He sat next to her and she hid her slight body behind his. He smoothed her hair and dabbed the sweat on her icy face.
"Bells, this is Quil's aunt. She will be able to help us."
Bella looked from Jacob to Crystal and said, "It is getting worse…"
"Okay, I need you to stay as calm as possible and I will do my best." She pulled a digital thermometer from the nightstand and placed it in Bella's ear. After five seconds the little machine beeped and Crystal's eyes widened.
"106 degrees… you shouldn't even be conscious enough to have this conversation."
"Her skin is freezing…" Jacob said and took the thermometer from her. He placed it in his ear and the dial read 108 degrees. Crystal left the room to get some test tubes and Bella turned to Jacob; her eyes full of concern.
"Jake, I have no idea what will happen, but if I somehow turn… you can't let me kill anyone."
"Bella stop it. I would never let that happen to you."
"Stop it!" Edward begged and tried to process the information he just witnessed. He remembered that day from his point of view, but he had no idea that she went to the hospital or what kind of illness she had been fighting.
"You should learn to control your eavesdropping." Jacob snapped. "I am here for her, not for your comfort bloodsucker."
"James' venom remained in her veins." Edward stated and waited for more of an explanation. Jacob nodded solemnly and continued.
"We searched for a cure, but there was nothing we could do to remove it from her body. If she didn't bleed, her body would get hotter and hotter until she passed out and I would have to put her in ice baths."
He opened the door to their loft and saw her standing in the kitchen. She was hovering over a glass of orange juice and her skin looked pale.
"Bella honey? Are you feeling alright?" He asked trying to hide the panic in his voice.
She did not answer right away, instead her body swayed and he was forced to catch her. Her skin was ice cold and the fact she had been standing at all was amazing to him. He headed towards the tub across the loft's layout and started the hot water. He stripped of her sweatshirt off her limp frame and saw her wrists were bandaged and blood was soaking through the tape. He looked at the floor and tiny drops of the venom laced blood were steaming on the concrete. In his panic he placed her lower half into the water and hastily tied a towel around her wrists to keep them elevated and out of the water.
"She would come back to consciousness and send me away so she could bleed out. She was afraid that the venom would kill me and would never let me know when she would do it."
"Jacob, it would have killed you." Edward said in a matter of fact voice.
"I wish it had." He muttered. "That would have been better than standing here. Watching them lower her into the ground."
"You should go home to your family."
"No, I have to be here, in case." He replied and kept his gaze fixed on the casket.
"In case what?" Edward demanded. "In case she comes back?"
"Go away blood sucker!" He growled. His body began to tremble again and Edward felt the earth tremble under him.
"You are obviously overcome with grief, but you have to know that she will not be back. If her heart stopped, she is gone." He said in a more level tone.
"I don't care; I have nowhere else to go. She was my home."
"I will return once you leave." He said and Jacob remained motionless. The rain poured down on him, but each droplet left only a small puff of steam. The last night they spent together haunted his memories.
"Do you ever think about what there is waiting for us on the other side?" She asked in a small voice.
"I know what is waiting for us." He said in a sleepy voice.
"Care to let me in on the secret?" She asked and laid her head on his chest. Her fingers were tracing patterns absently over the warm skin and it made him smile.
"Peace, complete beautiful peace." He said in a way that made her feel like this was common knowledge. There was no reason to be afraid or bother asking because the answer was that simple.
"Like heaven?" She asked.
He thought about it for a few quiet seconds and finally answered, "No, it goes beyond heaven. It is a sense of pure positive energy. Happiness."
"Will you be there?" She asked and in his sleepy state he thought she had added a tone that implied one day.
"We will all be there. Even if I outlive you, I will be there. All our memories will be there and you can come to me if you miss me."
It was dark in the room, but he could tell she was smiling. "I would come to find you."
"Promise?" He chuckled lightly.
"No matter where you were I would find you and tell you that I was okay." She promised, but at the time he didn't hear her adamant tone as anything disturbing.
"I will do the same for you." He promised and she fell asleep.
He wondered if she had actually killed herself. He worried that he had given her the answer that justified her actions. He returned home the next night and called out for Bella, but something was wrong. The warehouse seemed to echo and a sinking cold feeling greeted him. "Bella!" He yelled in a moment of desperation. He took slow controlled steps towards the walled off bathroom area on the opposite side of their loft. He took a deep breath as he reached the entrance and stopped before pulling the door aside. Water dripped around the sides of the tub and he smelled blood. He pulled the door open and his heart became instantly heavy in his chest. Bella was in the tub, her body immersed in the dark red bathwater. Her face was pale and beautiful as ever… she looked like she had just fallen asleep, but he knew better.
A/N: What did you think?