Warnings: Severe emotional trauma

Disclaimer: SM owns everything Twilight related. I only own this plot.


Open up,
next to you,
and my secrets become your truth.
And the distance between that was sheltering me comes in full view

Hang my head,
break my heart,
built from all I have torn apart.
And my burden to bear is a love I can't carry,
anymore

All I have,
all I need,
he's the air I would kill to breathe.

Holds my love in his hands,
still I'm searching for something.

Out of breath,
I am left hoping someday,
I'll breathe again.

Breathe Again, by: Sara Bareilles


Breathe Again


:Bella:

I'm sitting at a small desk in our great room, working on my manuscript—doing anything to keep myself busy. Lately, I've been a little stir crazy. We've been bouncing from hospital to hospital, seeking out the best of the best geneticists to shed some light on our current situation.

I can't help but think about the conversation my husband and I shared last night before bed.

. . . . . . .

"Bella, what do you think we'll have first? A girl or a boy?" Edward asked curiously.

"Uhm, probably a girl, girls are more prominent in your family," I replied, referring to his two sisters, Alice and Rosalie.

"You're probably right. She'd have your brown eyes and my wild hair. How weird would it be if we had twins the first time?" he asked excitedly, with a little twinkle in his eyes.

"Fucking awful! And you better not jinx me, Edward Anthony! I'm serious, two sets of diapers, two bottles to get ready at once, two teethers, two terrible twos, two potty trainers, two school lunch bills, two PMSers, two proms, two class rings, two graduations," I ranted.

"Bella, calm down." He laughed. "I think twins would be great, and we'd already be halfway to our goal." He gave me a crooked smile.

The one thing we have agreed on is that we want a big family. We're thinking three to four kids. Edward has two siblings, and he grew up in a very loving household. So naturally, he wants the same for his family.

I'm an only child, and my childhood was boring as hell. My parents split when I was little, and I ended up moving in with my dad in seventh grade. That's when I met Edward.

We flirted with the idea of dating for a while. We even called each other girlfriend and boyfriend for part of seventh and eighth grade, but I caught him kissing Lauren Mallory behind the monkey bars one day and called it off. Not only was he no longer my boyfriend, but I didn't even allow him back in to the friend zone until the end of the school year.

We stayed close through high school, and shortly after graduation, we started dating for real.

We haven't separated since.

I am now twenty five years old, and he's twenty six. We've been married for just over four years, and we are finally ready to settle down and start a family.

I was born with a series of bone diseases due to a genetic mutation in my parents' cells. Combine that with Hip and Fibrous Dysplasia, on top of Scoliosis and it leads to one medical disaster after the other. I've never let it hold me back though, until recently.

The first doctor I spoke with about the possibility of Edward and me starting a family told me that I would definitely not be able to deliver naturally. She advised me to plan on delivering our children via C-section. She also said that she'd like me to get a second opinion, because she had never worked with someone with my severity of dysplasia before.

The second geneticist I spoke with told me that he was not qualified to advise me, with the severity and multitude of impairments my body had, and that he would like me to see Tyler Crowley, MD, a world renowned geneticist. We happily obliged, knowing that this was something we needed to take very seriously, and we were pleased to be recommended to someone so accomplished.

So when we met with Dr. Crowley last week, imagine my surprise when he expressed his opinions about us seeking other alternatives for starting our family.

"Bella, Edward, I know you two want to do this as naturally as possible, believe me, I do, and I'm going to do everything in my power to see that it happens that way. But I have a hard time believing that with your spine and hip deformities, that you would be able to safely carry a fetus without it causing major, and possibly fatal, consequences to both you and your child. Before we go any further, I'd like to send you down to the X-ray lab to have an MRI and a few X-rays done. I know that this isn't what you were hoping to hear today, Isabella. I'm sorry for that, but while I'm waiting for your test results to come back, I'll do some research on women with your conditions. That way I can give you two an educated and safe answer to all of your questions," he explained with sincerity.

"Excuse me, doctor, but none of the other geneticists that we have seen, or even my primary doctor, have ever said anything about there being complications with me having a child." I'm in complete and utter disbelief.

"Quite possibly, Isabella, there may not be. Most commonly, there aren't, but you have very different circumstances than other women who have just one of your dysplasias or spinal deformities. Your condition is extremely rare and severe. I'm only looking out for your health and best interests. You're no good to your son or daughter if you don't make it through the pregnancy. You don't want them to grow up without their mother, and I would hate for you to suffer the loss of a child. I see a lot of my patients go through it, and the guilt they place upon themselves is heartbreaking." He looked concerned, but he was trying to get his point across.

"We understand." Edward spoke for the first time since the doctor had dropped this bomb on us.

"We do?" I asked, slightly perturbed.

"Well, we're trying to. I know I'm not willing to risk losing you," Edward said while looking at me with his eyebrows furrowed.

I sighed dejectedly and pushed the tears back. I prayed that my calm façade would last until we got back to the car.

"Please, don't lose hope right now. I'll have more information for you two soon. I just want you to realize how important this is before you start trying to get pregnant. If worst comes to worst, there are safe alternative methods out there. Surrogacy, adoption…" he continued.

I chewed on my bottom lip, lost in thought. I didn't really know what to think. I prayed that it was all just a bad dream, and that we would get the call from him in a week or two telling us he was wrong, and we can throw away the birth control pills once and for all.

. . . . . . .

Ring…

Ring…

Ring…

I answer my cell phone, out of breath from frantically searching the living room for it. I've been waiting for this call all week. Butterflies of anticipation flutter in my belly as I cradle the phone to my ear.

"Hello?" I answer enthusiastically.

"Hello, Isabella? This is Jane from Doctor Crowley's office. We have your test results in and would like to set up an appointment for you and your husband to come in so the doctor can share them with you." Her voice is clinical, void of any emotion.

Immediately, I know it's bad news.

My heart drops down into the pit of my stomach, and my voice wavers as all of the blood drains from my face.

"Uh-yes, yes, of course. We can come anytime," I answer worriedly.

"Great. How does four-thirty this afternoon sound?" Her voice is still cold, and tears sting my eyes.

"Sure," I mumble breathlessly.

"Okay, Mrs. Cullen, Dr. Crowley will see you this afternoon then. Have a nice day, ma'am." The line goes dead.

I slump into the wall as the tears flow down my face, and the phone drops from my hand, crashing to the floor.

Edward hears the commotion from the kitchen, where he's pouring himself a mug of coffee before work. He walks into the living room to check on me.

"Hey, Bella, what was that noise?" he calls as he strides down the hall.

I've dropped to the floor, and now that he sees me, he rushes to me, immediately dropping to his knees to brush his hand over my face and look me over.

"Bella, are you okay? Are you hurt? What happened?" he asks worriedly. His green eyes are scared as they search for the cause of my distress.

"D-Dr. Crowley's office just called…" My voice trails off as I flick my gaze to the window. I can't meet his gaze any longer.

"W-What did they say?" There's no mistaking the tremor in his voice.

"They want us to come in this afternoon to explain the test results." My voice is flat, lifeless sounding.

"Bella, don't do this. We don't know anything yet. Don't make yourself sick. There might not be anything bad. Maybe he just wants to give us the good news in person?" He tries to assure me.

"Maybe."

I pray that he's right, but deep down, I know he's not.

A woman knows her body.

. . . . . . .

The appointment starts off awkwardly at best. Edward has arranged it so he'll have the afternoon off, not wanting to leave me by myself all day to dwell on this. I think deep down he knows, too.

We sit down, exchange pleasantries with our doctor. He doesn't even have to open his mouth and tears are already filling my eyes.

"I'm so sorry, but the risk it just too…" are his first words, and my world stops.

I know he's still talking, but my ears are ringing. There's a pressure in my head that makes me feel like it's going to explode. My nose is completely clogged, my bottom lip is trembling so hard I feel like I'm going to bite it off, and I'm fisting my purse straps so hard my knuckles are bone white. I can't get a good breath to save my life, and I feel like my heart is going to stop at any second.

My heart is completely shattered. It feels like a wrecking ball has crushed everything in my chest and it's taking all of my strength just to hold myself together.

Finally, my body caves in on itself and deep and heavy sobs tear through me. Edward is trying to comfort me, embrace me, assure me, but it's useless.

I'm useless.

"We'll adopt," he whispers.

"There's always surrogacy," he continues.

"We'll make it through this, Bella, I promise you. I'd much rather have you than a baby, Isabella. It's not worth losing you," he vows honestly.

I knew my pelvis was too narrow for natural birth, and I had prepared myself for that…

But not for this.

Ever since I was young, I've dreamed of being a mother. Of carrying a child inside of me and having approximately nine months to build an everlasting bond with him or her. To be able to feed them and nurture them from my body, and to know that I created life.

That dream has just been irrevocably torn away from me.

You hear about it all the time, women becoming infertile from an STD, or having cysts, or internal complications of some sort, rendering their reproductive systems useless. But you never think it could happen to you, or you're selfish enough to believe it won't. When it does happen, you find excuses for yourself…and wallow in your disbelief.

I did nothing wrong.

It wasn't my fault.

Bad genes.

The thing that truly makes me sick is knowing that my reproductive system—as well as Edward's—works completely fine.

It's just too much of a risk. I have the parts—that other women would kill for—and I can't fucking use them!

I'm blindsided by a deep anger, and I thrash against Edward's embrace.

"No! NO NO NO NO! I want another opinion! You're wrong! You're all fucking wrong! I don't care! I'm having a baby! You can't stop me! No!" My voice burns from screaming, and eventually I'm so out of control that they decide to sedate me.

Tear tracks are running down Edward's face as he carries my lifeless body out to the car and takes me home. Now all I feel is guilt.

What have I done to him?

I can't even give him what he's dreamt about for so longhe'll leave me for sure. My mind knows the thought is absurd. Edward would never leave me; we're madly in love with each other. But my heart still plays off of my insecurities.

Edward wants to start a family as much as I do. He should be with someone who can give that to him without complications.

. . . . . . .

We're home now, and he's drawn me a hot bath. I'm still practically comatose as he gently strips me bare and places me into the steaming water.

How I wish all of my pain could simply wash away and I could start anew, scrub my deficiencies from my body until I'm pure and free of any impairments.

But this is reality—this is life—and things don't just wash away.

A moment passes where I resent my parents for giving birth to me, but it fades as quickly as it comes. I love my parents; I'd never blame them for this.

Another moment of weakness where I'm blaming God and hating Him for all He's put upon me. But that fades fast, too. I'm not a church-goer, but I do believe in God, and have a firm belief that everything happens for a reason. Even if I can't fathom His reasoning behind this.

Why, God? Why did you do this to me? To us?

Somewhere in the back of my mind my conscience tells me He wouldn't give me more than I can handle, but that makes me feel bitter and angry again and causes the tears to fall like rain.

Edward notices immediately and rushes to finish my bath. After he's finished washing and rinsing me, I feel him gently pull me from the water and wrap me in a bath-sheet.

He then carries me into our adjoining bedroom and lays me down in bed, crawling in beside me and covering us up while cradling me against him.

As soon as my head hits his chest, I fall into a dreamless sleep, probably due to the sedatives.

. . . . . . .

I am startled awake a few hours later. When my arms reach out in search of Edward, all I feel are warm sheets. I know he hasn't been gone long, but fear crawls up my spine at the thought of him not being here with me.

I feel tiny fissures splintering across my heart as I sit up and look around the room, hoping he's moved to the foot of the bed or the armchair across the room.

But he's not there.

My body trembles again, and I curl my knees up, folding myself in half as I press my back to the headboard and sob into my knees.

Alone.

He's gone.

Seconds later, I feel the bed dip slightly and warm arms wrap around my body. They're pulling me away from the headboard, toward the center of the bed, as they hold me tight and cradle me into a warm, bare chest.

As Edward's scent surrounds me, my irrational fear of him leaving me diminishes again.

"Everything is going to be okay, baby, I promise you," he vows again.

"Oh God," I choke out.

"I am so, so sorry, Edward," I sob against his chest.

"This is not your fault, Isabella, do you understand me?" His voice is hard, but it still sounds like home—still like Edward, unchanging and passionate, comfortable and husky. His voice wraps around me like a million flower petals, and it's the balm to soothe my pain.

He pulls my face from against his chest as he cradles it between his hands and looks me in the eyes. His are red-rimmed and glassy, and I'm quickly overcome with the realization that today is the first time I've ever seen him cry.

I hate myself for that, too.

My eyes close and tears leak out of the rims as I bow my head slightly in his hands and slump against him.

"Please…" My voice quivers. "Please don't leave me."

"Never. Bella, I could never leave you. You mean more to me than anything else in the world. I would give anything to make sure you were okay, but I wouldn't give you up for anything or anyone. Please know that, Bella. You're my soul mate, my other half. Without you, I'm not whole." His voice is trembling, and I can hear the hysteria in his voice as his own tears fall.

He can't bear to see me like this; I hate hurting him.

"I love you, Edward, so much," I whisper.

"I love you, too, Bella." He presses his lips against my forehead and wraps me in a tight embrace.

His lips trail down and press soft kisses against the bridge of my nose, down to my closed eyelids, and he presses a kiss to each of them.

He kisses down the tracks my tears made until he reaches my own swollen lips. Crying has made my entire face puffy, and my sinuses are completely blocked from bawling.

I let him kiss me softly, but when he tries to deepen it, I pull away.

"I'm gross…Sinus breath," I explain as I sniffle and try to control my emotions.

"You're beautiful," he says with conviction.

He cradles my head again with one hand and wraps his other around my waist as he pulls me closer to him. This time I don't protest as he presses a firm kiss against my lips, immediately trying to deepen it.

I place my hands on the back of his neck and press my forehead against his as I gently separate our lips.

"I'm useless," I whisper softly as my guilt washes over me again.

"You're perfect." His voice is strong, and he won't be argued with.

The hand that was cupping my cheek is now gripping my chin and making me look into his eyes.

"Say it, Isabella. Out loud," he commands.

I shake my head and try to fight his grip. It isn't painful, but I really don't believe the words he wants me to say, so I won't.

"No," I whimper timidly.

"Bella, you are perfect, and I'll fight 'til my last breath for you to believe it," Edward argues earnestly.

His hand releases my chin, and both of them cradle my face as he presses his mouth against mine passionately.

I refuse to reject him, not when I need this, too—this reassurance that we will get through this, that we'll be okay.

I part my lips slightly, granting him permission to deepen the kiss. I feel his hands slide down my shoulders to the knotted part of the bath-sheet that is still wrapped around me from earlier.

He pulls it open and slides it out from under me, tossing it to the floor as he snakes his arms around me. He pulls me into his lap without breaking the kiss.

I gasp as I feel his hard length pressed against my lower belly through the sheer fabric of his boxer-briefs. I wrap my legs around his torso, pressing myself against him tighter as I moan into his mouth.

He breaks the kiss with a ragged breath and slips one hand up to brush my hair away from my face.

"You are perfect for me," he declares.

Tears are slipping from my eyes again, but I can't make myself let go of him. My nails scrape down his shoulder blades softly, and my lips press wet kisses against his collarbone.

"Love me, Edward," I plead.

"Always," he promises.

He quickly lays me down against the pillows and kicks his boxers off. As he pulls the blankets over us, he trails kisses from my forehead down to my collarbone. His tongue snakes out to taste the valley between my breasts, and he presses soft kisses against my hard nipples.

My back arches involuntarily, and he chuckles softly against my chest. "Beautiful," he whispers as he licks and sucks my taut peaks.

"Edward," I moan softly and fist the comforter in my hands.

He moves down a little further and places a warm and gentle kiss against my navel.

"You're perfect," he says against my skin.

I can't hold back the sob that chokes its way out. I rub the back of his head softly with one hand and rest the other against my forehead as I let the tears fall.

He spreads my legs gently and places a kiss at the top of my pubic bone before he moves back up to my face.

The pads of his thumbs gently wipe away the tears that haven't dropped down into my hair, and he swipes his thumbs back and forth across my cheeks.

"You're gorgeous. I love you. I will always love you. Nothing will ever change that, Bella." Now his voice is pleading. He wants me to believe him, and I want to, too. I'm just scared, terrified of losing him.

His hips rock against me as he brushes back and forth against my entrance.

"Make love to me, Edward."

He's inside me before I'm done saying his name. He thrusts deeply and slowly, rocking us in a sensual dance—showing me his true feelings—the only physical way he knows how.

The muscles in his back ripple beneath my fingers, and I clutch him tighter against me. I lock my knees behind him, urging him deeper, wanting to lose myself in him.

"You're everything, Bella—my whole world. I could never live without you. Please, please promise me that you'll be okay, that we'll be okay," he urges between slow, deep thrusts.

"I-" I start to say, but I'm cut off with the urgency of his thrusts as his lips crash down against mine. I swipe my tongue across his bottom lip, and his lips part as I deepen the kiss.

We pull back when we're out of breath from the kiss and panting with exertion from our lovemaking.

"I love you, Edward. Always. That will never change." I try to reassure him as I feel wet drops fall against my forehead. At first I think it could be sweat, but it's not. Tears are flowing down Edward's face, and I know he thinks I'm keeping something from him.

"I won't…I won't do anything stupid, Edward. I'm not going anywhere. God Himself will be the only thing to take me away from you, and I don't anticipate that happening for another 70 years or so." I try to lighten the mood, but he's still upset.

His forehead presses against mine, and my lip starts to tremble.

"I promise you, baby, I'll be okay. We'll be okay. I…I just need time to process this. I promise I won't hurt myself, because I know that would only hurt you, and I could never hurt you, Edward. Ever," I promise solemnly.

I cradle his head in my hands and press my lips softly against his.

"I promise," I whisper as we kiss gently.

"I have to hold you," he murmurs against my lips and quickly sits up, pulling me with him as he arranges his legs. He stays inside me the entire time, and his arms wrap tightly around me. He rocks us back and forth, not really moving our hips—just rocking our upper bodies to and fro as he tries to seek comfort from me.

"I'll always be here, Edward. I was born to love you." I kiss forehead as I rock my pelvis against his.

"Let me love you, Edward. Let me show you," I whisper against his damp skin as I lift myself off him and drop myself back down, thrusting him deep inside of me.

He helps me rock with his hands on my hips as we both find our solace in each other. We reassure and reaffirm our love for one another, our bodies pledging promises that our voices aren't able to say.

My nails bite into his flesh, and my body is on fire. My breasts are deliciously crushed against his strong chest, as his arms squeeze me tightly against him. We're both on the verge of our release, and neither wants to give in.

How I wish we could stay like this forever…

I'm the first to teeter over the edge, quickly pulling Edward along with me as my back arches, and I bear down on him as hard as I can—plunging him deep inside me.

I call out his name, and he whisper-chants mine over and over like a prayer.

"Edward!"

"BellaBellaBella"

We collapse against the pillows panting and cuddling until we both start to doze. Just as I'm about to drift off, I feel the bed shift as he pads to the bathroom and returns with a warm, damp cloth to wash me with.

After he gently cleans me up, he returns to the bed and crawls under the covers with me.

"Thank you," I whisper against his chest.

"You're welcome," is his immediate response. "For what?" he asks a second later.

For always knowing what to do.

For loving me.

For everything.

"For taking care of me," I answer instead.

"Always." He kisses my forehead and drifts off into a peaceful sleep.

My eyes once again fill with tears, and sleep comes to me after I finish silently apologizing to—and thanking—God.

. . . . . . .

The next morning, I wake up again to an empty bed. My heart is still heavy, but I know I need to start trying to push past my grief. I don't want it to consume me, to consume us.

Last night showed me just how easy it would be to hide behind it, to bury myself in it so deep that it kills me. I couldn't do that to myself—to Edward.

I get out of bed and look out the bedroom window as I walk by it. I notice Edward's sister, Rosalie's, car is in the driveway, and my spirits drop slightly.

Rosalie and I have never been as close as Alice and I have.

Alice has always been the wild, funny sister between the two.

Rose has always been the perfect, severe one.

Major difference.

I don't relish the thought of being in Rose's company today, but I know that she isn't paying us a social call. It must be pretty important if she's here instead of being at work.

I hope he hasn't told her. I already feel inferior to her, but I don't know if I could handle her judging me for this.

I quickly escape into the adjoining bathroom and take a quick shower.

After I'm dressed and ready to face the day, I exit our bedroom and carefully pad down the stairs. I'm always mindful of my aching hips and joints, so I hold the banister in a tight grip and take each step one by one.

When I reach the bottom, I hear voices floating toward me from the kitchen.

"Please don't tell her I told you, Rose. I just didn't know who else to talk to. I'm worried about her, but I don't want Alice coming in here—obnoxiously trying to cheer her up. She's going to need space, to clear her head and process her emotions. I just wanted someone with a clear mind to give me some advice." Edward's voice is weary.

I wait a second, and when I don't hear her respond, I make my way noisily to the kitchen so they know I'm coming.

"Edward, is that you?" I call.

"Yeah, Bells, we're in here," he replies.

When the door to the kitchen swings open, I'm taken aback at the heartbroken look on Rosalie's face. I know I can't say anything right now or my calm façade will crumble, so I start my morning routine.

I walk to my purse and grab my birth control out of it. I always take it in the morning. When I pull it out, the room is eerily silent, and my eyes close as I pop the pill in my mouth and dry swallow it.

Instead of a tiny speck of medicine, it feels like I've swallowed a brick. My throat constricts slightly, and I grab something from the fridge to wash it down. I turn toward the sink and wrap my arms around myself as I feel their eyes on me. It's taking everything inside of me to not fall apart.

When I feel Rosalie's hand softly touch my shoulder, it feels as though I've been burned, and I drop to my knees as a sob tears out of my throat.

She quickly drops down beside me and wraps me in a tight embrace.

"Shhh," she whispers against the top of my head as she rocks me.

"Everything will be okay, Bella. I promise," she coos as her hands rub my cheeks softly as she comforts me.

"I'm so sorry," I gasp and cry against her chest.

"You have nothing to be sorry for, Bella. You can't feel guilty for this. This isn't your fault. You couldn't have known…" She shakes her head as I look up at her, and I notice she's crying, too.

"You will have your baby, Bella. I honestly believe that whether you and Edward adopt or you use a surrogate, you will have your children. There's a baby out there for you; I promise it. I feel it." Her words are so sincere, it makes me cry harder as I fist her purple cashmere sweater in my hands and hold her to me tightly.

"I'm so sorry, Rose," I murmur against her shoulder as she continues to hold me.

"Bella, I know I haven't always been nice to you, but you are my sister. I'll do anything to make sure you and Edward are happy. And I'd like to discuss something with you, but I need you to calm down. Can you do that for me, sweetie?"

I take a few deep breaths and pull away from her slightly. Edward has returned to the kitchen with a box of Kleenex and sits down to pull me into his lap as I wipe my bleary eyes and runny nose. Rosalie takes a couple of seconds to do the same and then straightens up and looks at both of us seriously.

"I know it's early yet, and you're both grieving in your own way. And of course I'd have to talk to Emmett about it first, but I'm sure he'll feel the same way I do." Emmett is Rosalie's husband of ten years.

We wait to hear what she has to say.

"I'm not sure what you're planning to do. If you'll adopt, or if you'll immediately plan to take action toward surrogacy. But if…if you're okay with it, I'd like to offer to be a surrogate for you two. Emmett and I are done having babies, and I had planned to get my tubes tied in March anyway. So, if you'll have me, I'd like to be able to do this for you." Her voice is humble and soft.

She seems so unsure of how we'll react. I think she's prepared herself for the worst.

Edward's arms tighten around me as I process what she's just said. The tears come rushing back with a vengeance, and I launch myself into her arms, wrapping my arms tightly around her neck as I cry against her.

"We would be so grateful to you, Rose," is all I can manage before I lose it again.

Edward's warm hand is sliding up and down my back.

"We could never repay you, Rose," Edward says.

"I don't expect you to. Repay me by being the best parents that I know you'll be," is her firm response.

I'm sandwiched between them as we hold each other and cry into each other. Rose and I cry; Edward holds us.

"Thank you, Rosalie." I sigh against her neck as a huge weight lifts off of my shoulders.

Suddenly, the room looks a little brighter, and my burden lightens marginally. I finally feel like everything might just be okay.

I feel like I can breathe again.


A/N: This was my entry for the SoOD angst contest. It didn't win, or even come close to winning, but I wanted to share it with you all.
Below is the link for my picture prompt - we had to choose one for the contest, and I chose a picture of a couple clinging to each other in bed.
Picture Prompt: photo #9 Link to pic: http: / s840. photo bucket (dot) com/albums/zz322/katinki/Pic%20Prompts/?action=view¤t=

Thank you for reading, and as of right now—I don't plan on continuing this, so I'm clicking complete.

xxoo,
Missy

P.S. Hopefully there aren't too many errors. PTB did a fantastic job at betaing this for me, but ff(dot)net likes to be an ass once in a while with my italics and bunch them all together. I apologize if I missed any or over-seperated, lol.