This story is Non-canon/ AU: Alternate Universe / OOC: Out of Character

Rated: M

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author-mama4dukes. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

WARNING: THIS STORY IS FAR FROM COMPLETE. I DO NOT HAVE THE NEXT CHAPTER FULLY PREPARED YET. I'M JUST SAVING MY READERS FROM DANGLING OFF OF A CLIFF. M4D

INTENSITY

Bella's POV

I opened my eyes and was suddenly blinded by florescent lights. The annoying sounds of monitors blipping and beeping assaulted my ears. I knew I was at a hospital, but couldn't figure out why until it all came rushing back to me a moment later. "Paul?" I mumbled groggily as I looked around the room.

"Bella? Bella, can you hear me?"

"Of course I can hear you, Randy."

"Can you explain why you're here?"

"I was shot by an arrogant imbecile who invaded my home and privacy. He also tried to shoot my husband."

"Good, so you're aware. Bella, we're going to wheel you into surgery in a moment," Dr. Rich Greenbriar informed me.

"Ah, so I'm in your emergency department."

"You're actually in mine since I'm the head of the E.D.," Dr. Jill Kele piped in. "Of course, Rich is the head of the hospital."

"Ooh, lucky me. I've got a star-studded medical team working on me."

"It was only supposed to be me, but Randy and Rich insisted on assisting me."

"Oh...ow," I whimpered as I was hit with an incredible pain in my abdomen. "Oh..."

"Get her under stat!" was the last thing I heard as a mask was placed over my nose and mouth and I drifted off into unconsciousness once again.

XOXO

A few hours later…

I felt groggy. No, atrocious would be a better description. I honestly felt like hell. There was a stabbing pain on my left side. "Ouch."

"Bella?" Paul came rushing to my side. He looked about as awful as I felt.

"Hi, honey."

He kissed me on the lips. "What the hell were you thinking? You jumped in front of a bullet for me."

"I've always thought a career in the Secret Service would be cool. I wanted to test out my theory."

"God, I love you so much. You have no idea...there was blood and...and...oh God. I thought you were dead."

"Impossible, you would have died if I had died."

Paul stopped to ponder what I just said. "Actually, when I think about it, that makes complete sense." He nodded his head. "Why did you do it, Bella? Why did you dive in front of that bullet?"

"Well, gee, you're kind of important to me. You're my world. I didn't want you to get shot, especially by that creep. What happened to him anyway?"

"He's under heavy guard here and he'll have a bail hearing on Monday. Jeff is representing us—he'll be working with the prosecuting attorney. The guy is up shit creek, I can tell you that much."

"Why Jeff instead of Crispy?"

"It's best if we keep our personal interests separate from my business interests because this case is going to involve both. It was actually Crispy who suggested we do it this way. Anyway, they're both top notch lawyers so we'll be well taken care of."

"True."

There was a knock on the door. "Who is it?" Paul called.

"It's us," my father replied, peeking his head in through the door.

"Are you ready to see them?" my husband asked.

"If I don't, they'll become frantic with worry."

"Are you sure?"

"I'm positive."

"Come in!" my husband called.

My father, mother, and their spouses walked into the hospital room looking more worried than I'd ever seen them.

"What in hell were you thinking, young lady?" my father questioned. He looked more distressed than I'd ever seen him. His skin was completely ashen and he looked as if he'd been crying.

"Charlie, honestly, she's just suffered a gunshot wound and had major surgery. Now isn't the time for you to come in here, raging like a pit bull, and swearing up a storm. She needs peace, calm, and tranquility." My mother turned to me and handed me a little drawstring bag. "Here, honey, I brought you some healing energy crystals."

"Oh, sure, there you go again with your quacky New Age crap, Renee! You probably taught her all of this bullshit about being selfless, too. It's your fault she jumped in front of a bullet."

"Oh, come off of it, Charlie!" Sue chastised. "You know damned well that Bella gets her selflessness from you!"

"Are you okay, sweetheart?" Phil questioned with a look of concern. I swear he's the only normal parent I have.

"I'm fine. Can you hand me the medical chart? It's at the foot of the bed. I don't even know where the bullet entered."

Phil handed the chart to me. I perused it and stated, "Well, damn. I guess I won't be playing golf or tennis for a few weeks."

"Oh, baby, I was so worried about you," my mother started sobbing. Then, as if it were contagious—so did, Sue.

"I'm fine. You don't have to cry."

"You are not fine! You were shot by a madman, and then splayed open by knife wielding maniacs!"

"They're called surgeons, Mom, and they use scalpels." I rolled my eyes at her.

"I told you she's a wacko, Bella."

"Dad, cut it out!" I turned to Paul. "Aren't you glad we didn't have a big wedding? There would have been a double homicide because my parents would have killed each other." I decided a change in subject was in order here. "How is the pregnancy going, Sue?"

"Good, but compared to when I had Leah and Seth, I'm a lot more tired."

"Oh, I know! When I was pregnant with Tucker and Tyler, I was always exhausted. Fortunately, the midwife I was seeing suggested pregnancy massage and prenatal yoga classes. After that, I had a lot more energy," my mother replied.

"There you go again, Renee. Now, you're giving my wife your quack advice."

"Actually, Mom is right. Sue, you should see about yoga classes and having prenatal massage sessions. I also want you to have your blood levels checked for possible anemia when you get back to Washington."

"Oh, of course. You know, I don't think they have prenatal yoga or massage back home."

"Have you checked?"

"No."

"I'll help you look, Sue," my mother offered. "If they don't have anything in Forks, I'm sure that they'll have something in Port Angeles or Sequim."

"That would be wonderful. Thank you, Renee."

At least they could be civil to each other.

"So, how long are you here for?" Paul asked.

Both sets of parents replied that they had taken the week off. Suddenly, the pain from surgery increased tenfold. I loved my parents, but a week with them hovering over me when I was trying to recover would be dreadful.

I clutched my side and groaned.

"What's the matter?" they all asked simultaneously.

"I think I need to rest."

"Of course, you've just had major surgery." Sue took my hand and gave it a squeeze. She had tears of worry in her eyes. I was touched. I didn't realize I was so important to her.

"Kiddo, we'll be right in the waiting room, okay?"

"No, Daddy just go to your hotel and rest. Paul will call you if something happens. All of this stress isn't good for Sue anyway."

He kissed me on the forehead. "I love you, baby girl." He took Sue and left the room.

I turned to my mother who put on a brave face. "Studies show that positive thinking helps to speed recovery."

"I know. I love you, Mommy."

"I love you, baby." The tears came streaming down her face. "I just hate to see you in this condition. The last time you were in the hospital was when you were injured in Arizona after that bad fall. Remember? You were dating that terrible, broody boy, Edward."

"I remember. That was a bad injury. This one isn't even half as bad."

"But you were shot."

"I'm aware of that."

I looked up at Phil pleadingly. He got the hint. "Renee, honey, we need to let Bella rest so she can get better."

My mother kissed my cheek, followed by Phil, before leaving the room together.

"Paul, can you call the doctor in here and ask for more medication?" I groaned as the pain in my side intensified. This truly hurt and I was a big baby when it came to pain.

"Honey?" Paul questioned concerned. "Are you okay?"

"It just hurts, Paul. It's to be expected. I've just had major surgery. I just need to rest."

"Do you want me to leave?"

"No, of course not. I like having you near me, but…oh…but my parents… How do I say this without sounding rude? My parents are going to hover over me, especially my mom and dad, and that won't be good for my mental state. Maybe you can send the parents away to a spa in Sedona for a few days? I just…" I clenched my teeth as I tried to breathe through the throbbing pain in my side.

"Don't worry, baby. Our house is a crime scene right now anyway. They can't stay there; no one can. I'll call Lorna and have her set that up right now. If I do it, I'll bungle it up."

"Okay, I'm not going anywhere." I lifted my arm, which was hooked up to an IV.

"No, you're definitely not going anywhere."

"Oh and can you call the club and cancel my lessons with the tennis pro and the golf pro for the foreseeable future?"

"Gladly, I'll call them now," my husband said with a bit too much enthusiasm. "No problem at all. I'll be right back."

"Um, Paul?"

"Yes, honey?"

"Make it clear that the break is temporary and that I want to retain the coaches and the time slot, okay?"

"Uh, sure," he replied with less enthusiasm and a scowl.

A couple of minutes after Paul left, Randy walked in.

"What are you doing here? It's the weekend."

"I'm your primary care physician so I'm here to check up on you."

"Randy, you know damned well that you're not on call this weekend. In fact, you and Mina are supposed to be away in California."

"Yeah, well, we postponed the trip. Something came up."

"That something had better not have been me."

"Of course it was you, but I don't want to hear any arguments because you would have done the same thing for us."

"Thanks, Randy."

"Anytime. So what ails you?"

"Seriously? Weren't you in the operating room with Jill and Rich?"

"Of course I was. Jill and Rich nearly stabbed each other with scalpels over who was going to operate on you. I had to keep you safe."

"I can picture that. Rich is listed as the lead surgeon on my chart."

"Yes, well, he won the coin toss."

"You're not joking, are you?"

"Sadly, no."

I started laughing then flinched in pain. "Oh, God. I had no idea that a spleen injury could be this painful. I keep thinking about poor Willy Black and how brave he was."

"Believe it or not, his injury was more significant than yours even though you were shot. You were really lucky, Bella. The bullet just grazed your spleen then stopped completely. Rich went in, removed the bullet, and repaired it with a few sutures, cleaned you up, and closed you up. After which Jill declared that she let him be the lead surgeon because he needed to practice with a relatively simple operation. Never mind that he's the head of the hospital."

"God, I swear, they're like an old married couple."

"Yeah, you're right. Don't get me wrong, the operation was pretty straightforward, but any injury to the spleen is significant. You were very lucky that they were able to save your spleen. We did have to replace several pints of your blood in the course of the surgery."

"No big deal, I'm sure it was a lot less blood than my last surgery."

"Funny thing about that, there were no records about your last surgery. Fortunately, Jill was the surgeon and remembered every detail of it."

"Stupid, damned sparkling vampires," I muttered.

"What was that about vampires?" Randy arched an eyebrow.

"You know the story about how I was attacked in Phoenix when I was a junior in high school, right? I told everyone about it when we told Old Quil about the coyote pack."

"Yeah, but what does that have to do with your last surgery?"

"Randy, this hospital is where the last surgery occurred. The Cullens—that's the surname of the vampire family I knew—must have somehow made the records disappear."

"How in hell do hospital records just vanish?"

"You have no idea what these vampires are capable of. Think about it. Their entire lives are spent living under the radar because they don't age."

"Yeah, but why expunge your medical records?"

"Most likely because Carlisle Cullen's name was all over it." I winced in pain. "I think you need to up the Fentanyl dosing in my drip."

"Sure, let me just check your vitals and I'll figure out what to do for you. You're going to need something a bit stronger than Fentanyl for the next 48 hours or so."

"Okay. Oh, this hurts."

"Damn it, Bella, you whine more than Willy."

"He's made of sterner stuff that I am. Besides, I hate pain of any sort."

"Well, don't get shot next time. You should have let Paul take the bullet. He would have healed quickly."

"Uh, sure, Randy. How the hell would we have explained the supernatural healing?" I sighed and looked seriously at my friend. "How is Paul doing?"

"He's feeling guilty because he couldn't protect you. He refused to leave your side last night."

"It's not his fault. I'm the one who dove in front of the bullet. I saw Vandenberger point the gun at Paul and I just reacted."

"I know that. Sam and Barry both stated the same thing, but Paul just feels guilty. He's going to feel guilty. If I were in his shoes and Mina was the one who was hurt, I would be feeling the same way." He stood up from the chair. "Alright, let me see about getting you some pain relief." He kissed me on the forehead. "I'll be right back."

A few seconds after Randy left, I heard the door creep open and a little voice whisper, "She's right here."

"I hear you, Tyler. I'm just a little hurt."

"They wouldn't let us see you. They said we were too young."

"Come over here. Is Tucker with you?"

"Yes."

My two little brothers tiptoed to my bedside with worry etched on their young faces.

"Hey, I'm going to be okay. I promise." I wiped the tears away from my brother's eyes.

"We don't want you to die. Mommy was crying on the plane and Daddy kept doing that face thing with his hands again."

Tucker was talking about Phil's habit of rubbing his hands down his face whenever he was agitated.

"It's going to take a lot more than a few stitches to take your big sister away from her two favorite guys." My brothers still looked worried. "I'm going to be okay. I promise. And sooner than you know, I'll fly to Florida to spend some time with you."

My father walked into the room at that moment.

"Daddy, have you met Tucker and Tyler yet? They're my baby brothers."

"I did. I met them earlier in the waiting room." He turned to the boys. "You know, your parents are going frantic looking for you?"

"We just wanted to see our sister," Tyler explained.

"Ah, I see. Your sister is going to be fine. She's got your mother's blood running through her; she's tough."

Both boys' eyes widened and they looked at each other with horrified expressions on their faces. "But Daddy says that Mommy is a ninny."

My father's face broke out into a grin. "Dad," I warned him lest he poison my kid brothers' minds.

Dad rolled his eyes at me. "Your mommy is not a ninny, she's just really passionate about some things. That's a good thing because a passionate person is a tough person. Are you two boys tough?"

"I'm tough, Tucker's not."

"Tyler, be nice," I chastised. "Just because Tucker doesn't like baseball, it doesn't mean he isn't tough."

"Tyler's just jealous cause I won the spelling bee."

"I am not! You're jealous cause I made the A1 team in Little League."

"Okay, boys, you're not helping your sister to recover by fighting in front of her."

Sure, this coming from the man who just argued with Mom in front of me a few minutes ago.

Phil stood in the doorway and arched an eyebrow at the boys. "Tucker, Tyler—what did I tell you about following rules?"

"You told us that sometimes it's okay to break them if it was for a very important reason and Bella is a very important reason," Tucker stated defensively.

"You can't argue with that reasoning, Phil," my father told him. "Besides, they were worried about their sister."

"Alright." Phil sighed and smiled. "Give your sister a kiss so she can get better."

Both boys kissed my cheek, waved, and went to Phil who promptly took them out of the room.

"You're not getting rid of me, young lady," my father told me.

"I figured that."

"Paul is sending your Mom, Sue, Phil, and your brothers to some fufu resort and spa in Sedona for a few days."

"And you, Daddy?"

"I'm not leaving here until that fucker who shot you is out of this hospital and arraigned. Barry took him down with a bullet to his leg. I think he's going to be transferred to the prison hospital sometime tomorrow." My father looked straight into my eyes. "I'm helping with the investigation in a very unofficial capacity."

"So what you're telling me is that your involvement is off the books and you're advising them on how to proceed?"

"Hey, I'm an experienced cop. They value my opinion."

"Or they know that you won't leave them alone unless they let you assist."

"Something like that."

A nurse stepped into the room to add pain reliever to my IV. She quickly left my father and me alone.

"I'm going to tell you a little story, Bella."

"Go ahead." I closed my eyes and listened to my father. "What's your story about?"

"What's my story about? Hmm...well, it's a story about a couple; a very young couple in a rainy, woodsy town in the middle of the Olympic Peninsula. The couple was anxiously awaiting an event—the event being the birth of a baby. You see, I said anxious—not happy—because we need to be very honest here. The handsome, debonair father and the lunatic witch he was married to..."

"Dad!"

"Alright, the handsome, debonair father and the pretty lady who wasn't all there..."

I glared at my father.

"Okay, okay! The devastatingly hot and intelligent father and his wife weren't ready to have a baby—they were simply too young for such a big responsibility, but as we all know, babies don't wait. So, one bright and sunny September day, the woman went into labor and the man dutifully stood by her in the delivery room—holding her hand, comforting her, and wiping the sweat off of her eyebrows. The woman suffered through a long, hard labor. After a whopping seventeen hours, she delivered a tiny girl with big, brown eyes, a full head of chocolaty brown hair, and a single tooth. The new father cut the cord and the nurse handed the squirming, naked baby to her mother so she could breastfeed her. Of course, the first thing the baby did was bite her with her little tooth causing her mother much pain and agony. It was then that the father fell in love with his little princess. He vowed to love and protect her forever and ever because, after all, she was a chip off of the old block."

Charlie's POV

"Oh, Charlie, you never change, do you?" my ex-wife stated, approaching Bella's bedside.

"Hey, you got to keep her for her formative years, I have to prop up my end."

"Oh, stop. You know I'm sorry for taking her away from you, but..."

"Hey, it's water under the bridge. She turned out just fine. I'm still her favorite parent."

"Oh, she told you that, too?"

I chuckled at Renee's sense of humor. She never backed down from me. She kept a wary eye on our sleeping daughter. "When Paul called to tell me what happened, I imagined the worst. I was so afraid that our baby was gone. I yelled for Phil and he took the phone from me. He talked to Paul and he broke down, Charlie. He broke down. We started packing right away and headed straight for the airport."

"Yeah, well, I didn't fare any better. Sue's son had to drive us to Seattle in his squad car with the sirens on. I was a nervous wreck, I kept crying. Sue kept crying. We didn't know what to expect. And then I heard what got her into this predicament, and I just couldn't understand why she'd jump in front of a bullet."

"Oh, Charlie, she's just like you. You would give your life for your loved ones. You would jump in front of a bullet if it meant saving Bella's life or Sue's life."

"I would even dive in front of a bullet for you, Renee."

"Now, you're over-exaggerating."

"No, I would. I would because no matter what our differences are, you gave me my beautiful baby girl. It doesn't matter how much I can't stand you, I'll always love you because of her." I pointed to my sleeping girl. "You are as much a part of Bella as I am."

She took in the sight of our daughter. "We did create a perfect little angel together, didn't we?"

"I don't know about angel. Hell, no. Not when I think of how she was in college. I thought she was either going to be a raging alcoholic or a professional beach bum." I shook my head. "We should have never let her join that sorority."

"Oh, tell me about it. She was a wild one. She dated a different baseball player every week. Phil and I were going insane. You're right, Charlie. Bella is not an angel. She's definitely your daughter."

"That she is." We both turned to each other and started laughing. "Thank you, Renee. You knew just the right thing to say."

"Oh, Charlie—you take care of her. I know that she's sending us away for a few days because she worries when we worry. I know she'll be safe with you remaining by her side." She kissed her on her forehead.

"I can't leave when she's like this, Renee," I whimpered. I knew I had tears in my eyes. Just seeing my little girl like this killed me.

My ex-wife took my hand in hers to comfort me. "I know you can't leave. You always did worry more than I did, but she's going to be okay. Bella is tough. She has your blood running through her veins." She smiled warmly at me. "Don't worry about Sue, I'll take good care of her. She and I get along great."

"Don't poison her mind with any of your New Age voodoo."

"I'll be sure to do that." She smirked at me then took one last wistful glance at Bella. "Take care of our daughter."

"I will. You can count on me." I gave her hand a squeeze to reassure her before she left. I knew she was just as worried as I was about our girl, but Renee was braver than I was because she was going to concede to Bella's request and go away for a few days while our daughter healed. I just wasn't that brave.

"Hey, Dad." Paul pulled up a chair next to me.

"You look like shit, son."

"I feel like shit."

"It wasn't your fault, you know. You don't have to feel guilty."

"How can you say that, Dad? I failed her. I should have protected her, but I didn't...I couldn't."

"Paul, you couldn't protect her because she dove in front of the bullet before either you, Barry, or Sam could react. She was the only one who saw Vandenberger turn the gun on you and I have a feeling that she guessed that he would fire."

"What's the use of being a wolf if I can't even protect the most important person in my life?" he sobbed. "I'm a fuck up."

The boy was beating himself up over something he had no control over. It wasn't his fault that Bella was hurt. It truly wasn't, but Paul was a lot like me and he was going to let the guilt consume him unless I convinced him otherwise. I put my hands on his shoulders and forced him to look into my eyes.

"You aren't a fuck up, Paul. This whole incident here was an accident. You didn't tell Bella to jump in front of the bullet."

"I didn't stop her either."

"Why not?"

"I couldn't..."

"Why not?"

"I don't know why...I...I didn't have enough time."

"Paul, you didn't have enough time because you realized Vandenberger fired the gun after he had already pulled the trigger..."

"Yeah, but..."

"...and because you had no idea that he had fired his gun, Paul." I took a deep breath, this next part was either going to piss him off or knock some sense into my son-in-law. "You know, it's pretty arrogant of you to sit here and let guilt eat at you when your wife—my daughter—is recovering from a gunshot wound."

"Arrogant? How the hell am I being arrogant?"

"It's pretty arrogant of you to think that you're so damned powerful that you could have protected her from being shot, don't you think?"

"No, it's my job to protect her! I'm her husband and her mate."

"So? I'm Bella's father. If anyone should have protected her, it should have been me."

"You weren't there, I was."

"Yes, you were there, but you didn't see him fire the gun and she did. Paul, you need to realize that you cannot possibly save everyone all of the time. You are just one man!"

"But Bella is my wife!"

"And she saved your life by putting herself between you and the bullet. Did you consider that, Paul? Did you think about how she risked her life for you because she was aware that you didn't see Vandenberger pull the trigger? You are feeling guilty right now, not for your inability to protect Bella from being shot, but for having had no control of the situation you had been placed in. You simply cannot feel guilty for a situation that you had no control over. You can't dwell on 'what ifs'. Let things be. Be grateful to Bella for loving you so much that she risked her life for you. And love her, Paul—just love her."

The boy looked at me and then at Bella before he broke down and cried. I put my arms around him and let him cry because that's what he needed to do. He needed to vent his feelings because he was a boy who rarely did so. I knew this since he was just like me. I smiled as I thought of Bella and Paul together. Yeah, they truly were made for each other.