Twilight belongs to SM. This is just a fanfiction.
Forgive Me Not
She was out of breath when she finally found the Infectious Diseases wing of the hospital. She spotted Emmett first before noticing Jasper and Alice huddled together nearby. Emmett looked up when he sensed her presence; a million years of sorrow and weariness etched across his face.
"Thank you for coming. It's very… generous of you to have come," he said politely.
"He was asking for you the whole time," he added as he tried to answer the questions her eyes were asking.
"We weren't sure how you'd feel about us contacting you... about him. My dad didn't want to cause any intrusion…" He tried to choose his words as carefully as possible. Diplomacy had never been his strong suit.
"How is he now?" Bella finally gathered the courage to ask. Her hollow heart wailed in silence, fearing what Emmett might say.
"He slipped into a coma about twenty minutes ago. We are hoping for the best now, but it isn't looking good."
She nodded and walked away, feeling the hollowness expanding within her chest. She needed to sit down. She needed to ground herself before the emptiness swallowed her whole.
He was dying. He was paying the ultimate price for his crime and she pushed him toward it, just as surely as if she had pushed him off the cliff's edge with her own crafty hands. Why did it feel as though she was being left behind in exile, watching helplessly as her only lifeline was slowly sailing away?
Alice came looking for her after a while. She put her arms around her protectively, silently trying to convey to her that she was not alone.
"Wh... when did you find out?" Bella stumbled over her words.
"Last night. Emmett called Jazz once he was processed through quarantine and admitted properly."
"Why didn't you tell me? You know how I feel… what he means to me!" Bella asked her accusingly, fighting against the onslaught of tears that were threatening to overcome the last shred of composure she was trying to cling on to.
"It wasn't my place to decide. You know that. It was his family's decision, and Jasper and I had to respect that. Please, don't hate me, but he is my friend too."
"I know," Bella acknowledged reluctantly.
There was a time when the idea of Alice caring for him grated on her nerves. But over the years it had become a source of comfort to her. It strangely eased her mind to know he had one extra person who cared for his well being; it lessened her worry somehow.
Yes, she worried for him. However outlandish the idea might be, she could never stop wondering if he was ok; if he had friends to wrap him in a blanket of love, to draw him out of his shell and let him know that he deserved to be happy.
She sat quietly as the realization hit her that all of this might soon become moot. Thanks to her vendetta, he had lost his father's love and his mother's adoration. His brother wouldn't even acknowledge him, not while it still mattered at least. They were all here now of course, milling about, all grief stricken and united in the face of devastation. But none of them were there for him when he needed them.
A muffled noise of weeping broke her out of her trance. She noticed the tall and proud form of Carlisle Cullen holding his wilting wife in his arms as she sobbed into his chest.
Maybe under different circumstances Bella would want to go over and offer her sympathies; to pat the older woman's shoulder in a consoling manner. But not today. Today she felt no pity for the Cullens. She was surprised to realize a wave of anger and resentment was rising up from the depth of her heart, directed at the grieving couple.
She wanted to yell at them and remind them that they had no right to spill crocodile tears after shunning their son like a leper for so many years. How could they do that? How could they side with a face-less stranger and excommunicate one of their own so ruthlessly? For what? Their dry sense of morality and the uncompromising notion of right and wrong?
They shouldn't have done that. He was their son and brother, yet they cut him out of their ranks like an unwanted, vestigial organ. They had no right to flaunt their sorrow now. Where were they when he had no place to go for Christmas or Thanksgiving? When he was sick and could hardly hold himself up long enough to look for a place to live, sleeping on couches, at the mercy of ambivalent strangers?
Bella wasn't aware of it when it was transpiring. Alice told her later. It was right after his first stint with the MSF. He got shipped back to the country when he was too sick to work and took refuge in the living room of an acquaintance he had met through his job. Jasper was ready to drag him over to his place, by force if necessary, until he got back on his feet. But he was dissuaded with the calm and sure reasoning that comprised his objections: things were different now; Alice lived with Jasper. Their apartment was a safe place for Bella to visit. He couldn't - wouldn't - intrude on that sanctuary. He had given Bella his word.
I never want to see your face. Ever. Again.
She remembered saying those words with perfect clarity. She also remembered him skittishly nodding his head, promising her with stilted words that he would never willfully put himself in her path again.
He religiously observed his vow. She didn't see or hear from, or of, him until fate thrust him back into her life, completely overriding free will and personal decisions.
Sitting here now, she wished she had made a smarter use of the second chance the universe, in all its wisdom, had thrown her way. But she didn't. She didn't recognize it for what it was. She squandered it away with the same obstinacy as his family.
Is a third chance too much to ask for? I will fix everything this time, I promise.
She silently bargained with what she knew was perhaps the inevitable now. She couldn't hate the Cullens. She was just as guilty as they were. She too refused to dismount from the high horse that allowed her to pass judgment on him with blatant ease. Even after he proved to her with years of penance how truly remorseful he was, even after she saw it with her own eyes that no court of justice could dole out a more severe punishment than he was subjecting himself to all too willingly, did she stop to consider that perhaps forgiveness was an option.
Not until it was too late.
That day, when she woke up from her alcohol induced stupor and recalled the vile and lethal words she had hurled at him the night before, she knew that the damage she had inflicted could not be wiped away with a smile. The sense of entitlement she felt to play with his life at her whim had finally broken the camel's back.
She used to feel that by just gracing him with her presence, or allowing him to be in the same room as her, she was demonstrating some kind of grand benevolence that he ought to be grateful for. That by merely speaking to him, and whimsically trudging into his life, she was doing him a great favor.
She was certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that he would jump at the chance to re-enter her life. She dropped hints, implying his presence wouldn't be unwelcome. When he failed to react to them, she boldly extended an invitation, dead certain of his acceptance. When he politely parried her summon, she unleashed the wrath of hell in the form of toxic, hateful words.
How dare he refuse her? Her?
She'd show him!
And she did.
She took pleasure in seeing him break down into a million pieces. His face contorted into pain and shame; utter horror in his green, wide eyes. He didn't say a word to defend himself, but he stood there as long as she needed someone to vent her fury on. He left when she screamed for him to get out of her place and to never set a foot in her life again.
By the time she got her bearings the next day, it was too late. He had left the city already. Even Jasper didn't know where he went. Until now.
She raised a hand to wipe at her eyes to rub away the burning sensation, and wasn't surprised when her fingers met with wet tears.
Would she ever see those green eyes again?
Bella discreetly tended to her face in the guise of hiding a yawn and looked up to see Rosalie, Emmett's wife, standing near her.
"We're really grateful that you came." She sat down on the chair next to Bella vacated by Alice. Bella realized with a start that she didn't even notice when Alice left her side. She had been so lost in her inner hell.
"I need to tell you this while things are still relatively... normal. Thank you very much. What you did for him back then, as well as for coming here today.
"As a woman, I have to say, I don't know how you moved past something like... all that. But I am in awe of you. Our family was practically disintegrating. My in-laws... they had it the worst, but Emmett was...
"Quite honestly, it was killing him. If you didn't come forward, if you didn't do what you did, I'm not sure if..."
Bella didn't know Rosalie well. She had only met her on one other occasion before. It was clear that she was struggling to express her sentiments.
"Don't mention it. It was the right thing to do," Bella reiterated matter-of-factly.
"Not many would have the courage or strength to do the 'right thing'. Don't sell yourself short. You saved my family and I need to thank you for that," Rosalie said. "It's just a shame we couldn't get our heads together before he ran away again."
They both knew whom Rosalie was referring to. The person in question was now lying in a hospital bed, lost to the world.
"What... what exactly happened to him?" Bella asked, hoping the trembling in her voice would go unnoticed by the other woman.
"He was working in Sudan somewhere. I don't know if you are aware of this, but he had malaria already from before. He was supposed to be on meds to keep it under control but he stopped taking his pills. No one even knew, not until he collapsed. I guess with so many sick people around, no one cared how the doctor was doing." Rosalie laughed bitterly at the irony of the situation.
"Why would he do that? Didn't they give him enough pills? How can they be so irresponsible?" Bella asked incredulously.
"Oh no, MSF gave him enough medication to cover his entire stay but there wasn't enough to dole out to the patients. There were blockades and medical cargo getting hijacked and what not. Basically, he gave away his own stash to his patients until there was nothing left. We don't even know how long he'd been carrying on like that. That stupid, stupid boy." Rosalie repeated what she'd learned from Emmett.
"The strain he has is resistant to common treatment. And his liver isn't functioning too well. Emmett and his parents volunteered for a live donation, but he doesn't qualify as a recipient since he has an infectious disease already.
"So, he's hanging in there. We won't know if he'll make it or not until he wakes up. The doctors here told us to pray and prepare for the worst. Reassuring, isn't it?"
"Excuse me, I need to find Alice," Bella said as she hurriedly stood up to leave, hoping to put as much distance between Rosalie and herself as possible.
She could feel the tidal wave of tears threatening to break through the carefully constructed dam she had been trying to hold in place ever since she got to the hospital. She couldn't let the Cullens see her cry. They wouldn't understand. No one would. Alice was the only one who knew her secret. And she needed her best friend to hold her now, to tell her somehow, despite everything, she would be able to untangle the mess she had made out of her life. That by some stroke of miracle, everything will work out for her. Edward would come out of the coma; they would get the chance to forgive each other. And then maybe...
With blurry eyes, she stumbled down a long corridor, avoiding the hunched forms of Carlisle and Esme Cullen as she looked for Alice. She saw Jasper standing next to Emmett, lending him strength and support with his quiet presence. Alice was nowhere to be seen.
Bella hastily pushed through the door of the nearest restroom and crumpled to the floor with an anguished sob, not bothering to ensure that she was alone in the room. Tears rained down her face as she wept uncontrollably.
He was going to die.
Because of her.
She would never get the chance to tell him that she had forgiven him. And she would never have the opportunity to apologize for her vicious, cruel words.
All she would be left with were the memories of vivid green eyes.
She heard a commotion outside which prompted her to drag herself up from the floor. She quickly splashed some water on her face and ventured out to investigate the source of the unrest. A muted alarm was blaring through the place and a number of nurses and hospital staff hurried past her. She saw Emmett and Jasper rush across the corridor and head toward a room she hadn't noticed until now.
She wondered what was going on.
Just as she was about to follow the crowd, Alice found her and engulfed her in a tight embrace.
"Oh, Bella." Alice sighed sorrowfully.
"Alice, what's happening?" Bella asked, fear cracking through her voice as she extracted herself from Alice's arms to look at her sad, knowing eyes.
"I'm so sorry, Bella. He's crashing..."
"No." Bella shook her head in denial as she made a move toward the room that was now the hub of a mid-sized crowd, frantically working on someone she couldn't see. But she could see Esme and Carlisle Cullen sobbing in each other's arms. She could see Emmett sitting on the floor right outside, defeated and lost, with Rosalie's comforting hand on his shoulder.
"No," she said again as she tried to step closer to the room. She had to see him. Everything would be alright if she could see him just once.
Suddenly, the corridor seemed to stretch before her, going on for miles. She took one step toward the room, toward him. Then oblivion overtook her. She welcomed the darkness.
AN: I hope this crazy piece will find a few readers. If there's enough interest, I might consider expanding it. If not, this will be all.
Come find me on twitter: ToTheDreaming.
Thank you lulabelle98 for making this readable! You are phenomenal.
MSF: Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders)