A/N: This idea was rattling around in my head and I finally tried to write it out! This scene takes place during Eclipse, after Edward says, "After a few decades, everyone you know is dead."
A one shot.
Much thanks to my beta Scorpian for helping me out. Seems I have a bit of trouble with my tenses (just a little). Certainly helps to have a set of new eyes looking things over! Then, of course, I had to fiddle with it some more. And then again. And... Honestly, it boggles my mind wondering how anyone gets a multichapter story written and uploaded!
Thank you for taking the time to give it a read.
A Normal Happy Human Life?
In Esme's kitchen Edward ran his pale hand through his bronze hair in frustration. His liquid gold eyes looked into the depthless rich brown of the eyes of his love, his reason for existing, "But Bella," he said in an urgent musical tone, "I just want you to have a normal, happy human life."
Bella sighed and rolled her eyes. Not for the first time she was a bit exasperated with his unbending, unchanging position concerning her "mortality", "Edward, if you stay with me as I grow older, we'll have to move periodically anyway to keep your youth, and your secret, hidden. Meanwhile, I will get older and older and people will begin to think of me as a 'cougar'. Next they'll think of you as the geek son that lives in his mother's basement. Later, people will pity you for being stuck taking care of your grandmother.
"Like being a vampire, we will have to hide and keep secrets for the rest of my 'natural' human life. We'll have to hide from the humans, other vampires and the Volturi!" She turned away from him and placed her hands on the counter, staring out the window at the "timeless" firs and evergreens, the "unchanging" mountains. Then a thought struck her. Just because I, as a human, don't see them change, it doesn't mean that they didn't.
The wind blew and forced their limbs into sweeping shapes, bending away from its force. The absence of water will make them wither and die; they need water to live. Too much water will overwhelm them, drown them. They will die and then fall. Fire will blacken all the shades of green, turning them to grey dust.
Even the mountains were worn down by wind and rain. Wind carved subtle new angles or water would melt the sharp edges or gouge deeper chasms. Or it could all happen in an instant. Earthquakes could break apart the most solid seeming peak or thrust it higher into the sky.
"Bella, Love, this existence…" he began to take a step toward her, arms open to embrace her.
Not turning back to face him, she held up her hand to stop him, "Edward, in my normal happy human life, is there any guarantee that I won't trip over nothing and fall down the stairs and break my neck; thus living my human life in a wheel chair? Is there any guarantee that my human body and brain won't fail, little by little, and leave me bed ridden, not knowing who you are or who I am? Is there a guarantee that my body won't be eaten with cancer, delirious because of the drugs they use or out of my mind with the pain?"
Bella turned back to him, leaning against the counter and crossing her arms across her chest. She studied the smooth plains of his face and could see the pain that was etched there now. She wasn't going to let that stop her this time. For too long she bowed to his requests; simply given in to make him happy. She had to make him finally see her point, her reasoning. Make him look beyond his own inflexible point of view.
"Edward, you once said 'after a few decades, everyone you know is dead' like that was supposed to make me change my mind. Like that was supposed to make me sad and make me want to stay human. Like staying human was going to guarantee that I would always be happy and no one I know would ever die and leave me. But that is going to happen even in a 'normal happy human life'. That is pretty much guaranteed. Charlie and Renee will grow old, die and leave me. I could be killed in a car accident and leave them. If you left me again and I found a nice 'normal' human man to marry, statistically he would die before me and I would be left alone. As I got older, one by one, my friends would die and leave me. Some in a few years, some not for a long time. But they would still leave me," Bella's voice elevated with her rising anger and her arms uncrossed, her small hands clenched into fists. "Even if I got a dog, and he was my best friend ever, I would outlive him!" She stopped herself then, closed her eyes and inhaled deeply to calm herself. She unclenched her fists and slowly eased her arms to her sides. Bella opened her eyes and finished softly, "One day I will leave whoever may be left."
She saw the brief flash of pain across his face, and then struggle developing in his eyes. She saw the gears turning in his head as he mentally flipped through his previous arguments, searching for another that he could use to try and convince her, "Love", Edward breathed as he started to take another step toward her, his arms coming up to wrap around her, "as a vampire, you could never have children as normal human women can."
Again, she held up her hands, palms facing out to stop him, "No Edward," Bella stated forcefully. "As a vampire I could never have children, and as a human, with you, I could never have children. The only way I could have children is if we were not together and I had a human husband."
Edward gasped and stepped back, bumping into the kitchen island. The ache of that thought sent a throb of near agony through his un-beating heart. He reached back to steady himself against the smooth granite top of the kitchen island. The thought of Bella with another, loving another, making love to another, was nearly too much for him to bear. Still, he only wanted her to be happy, to have all the human things he could not give her.
Edward's throat constricted, nearly choking him with the pain; he only wanted her to be happy even if it brought him anguish to his very depths. If she wanted children…
"Bella," Edward gasped as his normally velvet voice caught on his words. "If you want to have children..."
"No," Bella all but growled, snapping her hand around as if to ward off his words. "I spent most of my life 'raising' my mother and when I came here to Forks, I stepped in as Charlie's caretaker. Besides, even if I did want children, who's to say I would survive the pregnancy? And then the birth? Danger magnet, remember?"
Edward attempted to interrupt her, "Bella…"
"Edward stop! If I wanted children and if all that painful labor went okay, can you guarantee the baby would be okay? Can you guarantee that any children I would have would be normal and healthy and live full, happy, normal lives? Can you, or anyone, guarantee that they will never get sick or hurt? Never die and leave me?" Bella snapped.
"Well, no, but…"
"Edward! Normally children outlive their parents. I would die and leave them!" Bella just couldn't stand still any longer and began to pace in front of the counter, the swift movement of her hands and arms emphasizing her words. "God forbid I should live a long, long life and have to watch my children grow old or get sick and die! Can you guarantee I would never see that?"
Bella suddenly turned toward the sink and tightly gripped the edge. She took in another deep breath as she stared out at the pines swaying gently in the soft breeze meandering through the Cullen's back yard. As she stared at the tree line, she could see a high limb begin to bend down. As it bent further, it cracked and began to fall. Almost in slow motion it dropped to the next limb, causing it to bow under the weight. It slid from that one, flipping over and landing on the next one down. That bigger limb nearly held it but the weight and the force of the fall was too much and it too tumbled down, brushing against the needles, bending the lower limbs grasping at it, almost like they were trying to stop the inevitable fall. Finally, the broken limb slipped from their tenuous hold and crashed to the ground, bouncing slightly, needles flying loose and falling away. It came to rest amongst the dead and broken sticks and twigs that had fallen before.
Bella breathed in again and turned back to face Edward. He was still, but for the slight movement of his chest rising and falling, the slow blink of his pain filled eyes. He took in a breath as if to speak, but shook his head and then started again in a whisper, "No, I cannot guarantee any of those things, as much as I want to, as much as I need to. I can only attempt to do everything in my power to keep you safe and happy."
Bella took one small step toward him but went no closer. As much as she wanted to wrap her arms around his waist and pull him to her to ease his heartache, she could not. She needed to tell him her thoughts, speak her mind and make him see.
"Edward, there are no guarantees. There are no guarantees that I would be happy and live a normal life as a human. No guarantee that I wouldn't be hurt, or wouldn't get sick. But it is almost guaranteed that those humans I love will be hurt or get sick and die. There will be pain and loss. It doesn't make any difference if I'm human or a vampire, they will still die! So why shouldn't I choose the life I want?" Bella's eyes skipped back and forth between his topaz colored orbs as she spoke. "I see that my chance at happiness is greater if I spend it with you and have eternity with you to look forward to. My being human won't stop those I love from dying just the same as my being a vampire won't stop it. My being human or a vampire won't stop me from feeling the pain of losing any of them, but if I have you with me, knowing I will have you forever, I think that will help me get through that pain. And being a vampire doesn't even guarantee immortality. James is no longer alive. Laurent doesn't exist any more. Who are the oldest vampires you know? The Volturi? How old are they? Who turned them? Even Marcus lost his mate."
At Edward's sharp intake of breath at her last statement, Bella took another step closer to him. He squeezed his eyes shut and dropped his chin to his chest. She finally reached for his hand and with her other hand she slowly reached up to his cheek, urging him to open his eyes and look at her.
"Edward, everything changes. Even for vampires things change. Even with the promise, or threat, of immortality there are no guarantees that we will never feel pain or be hurt. There are no guarantees, but there are better chances. I want the better chance at happiness that I can have with you as your equal," Bella insisted in a gentler tone. "As less 'breakable', more 'durable'. I want to be with you through our lives, our existence. Together. "
Edward raised his right hand to place it over Bella's warm one on his cheek and leaned into that soothing warmth. Then he took her small hand in both of his and brought it to his lips, placing a delicate kiss against her soft skin.
"Bella," Edward breathed, "you're right."