Chapter Twenty Two: The Sound of Waking Up

Edward

They finally let me see her. See what I'd done…

See what I had to live with. And what I would beg for the chance to up close.

Yes, would beg for. And will…

When she wakes up. When, not if. Because, even though she hasn't yet, my father assured me that she will. When her body is ready for her to. When, and with what I pray isn't tremendous pain, and with no permanent damage to mar her just as perfect as she is brain.

That may, I know, no matter what her heart tells her, tell her that I'm not perfect–or even good enough–for her anymore. And not healthy. Things I won't blame it or her for if she listens to it.

And if Charlie doesn't kill me before she has the chance to listen to or hear anything.

"Chief Swan… I–"

"Chief Swan? That's a bit formal, don't you think, Edward? For my son in law to address me as?"

He leans down and kisses Bella's forehead, and whispers a soft "I love you, baby girl" that sends tears instantly down my face. Or down harder and faster, since I don't think the ones that started falling the moment I was let into her room ever stopped.

"I'm so sorry… " Words that aren't and will never be enough escape thickly and painfully through my throat. Words on repeat with my tears, that aren't enough, either, but that I say anyway, because I don't know what else to. And because, no matter what Charlie does to me, I need to know that he at least heard them first, and hopefully their with-all-of-my-heart sincerity, since he gave me the honor of listening to and believing every other thing I ever told him I felt for or about her.

And he did hear me… but the look in his eyes when we both tear ours from her beautiful face doesn't give me any hint of how he did.

Nor do they during any of the seemingly endless minutes that follow, his eyes still glued to mine.

I won't look away, no matter how hard it is to not, and time continues to pass, the only noise that of the monitors or machines or whatever the hell they are that Bella is hooked up to.

And then, after what feels like hours, he speaks to me. My father in law. The man who put his greatest treasure in my hands and trusted me never to break her. "Do you truly believe, Edward, that I would ever think that you could or would hurt my daughter intentionally?"

"No… " I say, the word heavy on my tongue, because I don't deserve the truth it holds. "But I did hurt her, and the fact that I didn't intend to–"

"Makes it just a terrible accident."

"Charlie, I don't deserve your–"

"Wrath, Edward. The wrath that I thought about letting loose on you the whole way here. Until I walked into this room and saw you… and the one you let loose on yourself."

"That was Emmett."

"I'm not talking about your face, son. Not the physical damage it's wearing, anyway."

"It's not enough, Charlie… for what I did to her."

"Well, I could make the other side match… but then, when our girl wakes up and asks who did that to the person she loves more than any other in the whole world, I don't want to have to say that I had any part in it. I may be second in her heart, but any lower on the list than that–unless it was for my grandchild, or grandchildren–would shatter mine."

"That, I deserve. But, can I ask… Do you have someone in mind already? To father those grandchildren?"

"You know I do, Edward. The only man I–not to mention my daughter–have ever wanted, or would ever want to. And just in case who that is isn't clear to you, it's the same man that it was before my phone rang today, telling me that that man wasn't as perfect as I thought he was, and perhaps even pressured him to be, and that he is, just like the rest of us, only human after all."

"There are so many things wrong with what you just said… how highly you ever did, or even still may, think of me… but even if you forgive me for this, and even if she does, I can't give either of you what you both should have, Charlie. I–"

"The only thing you can't give me, son, because I won't accept it from you, is any uninformed and incorrectly assumed load of crap about what you think you can't give my daughter."

"I don't–"

"Don't tell me what you don't, Edward. And don't tell me what you can't. Tell me what you will."

"I… " I what? What can I possibly say to him? What–

"Do you love my little girl?"

"God, yes… "

"Any less than you ever did?"

"No… I could never love her less… I love her more every day. More than should be possible… since how much I loved her yesterday… and the day before that… and the day before that… was more than I ever thought was."

"And more than what you feel for yourself?"

"I could never love myself more than I love her, Charlie. I–"

"Love yourself, no. But I don't think how much you love yourself is what is what got us here. Do you, Edward? And do you love her more that what did? Can you?"

FBoFW

"That's what happened. All of it."

"We'll still need to talk to your wife, Mr. Cullen, when she's well enough, but unless her account of this morning's events differs completely from yours, which we don't anticipate, given even her police chief father has unwavering belief in yours, I don't think you'll be seeing us again. Thank you for your cooperation."

I wasn't cooperative at all. In fact, I believe my exact words when they told me I had to leave Bella's room to talk to them were "Get fucked."

But Charlie, who had already spoken to them, as had Emmett, my mother, and my father, said that that approach was only going to make the situation appear to be something it wasn't. And more painful for Bella…

So, because of that reason and that reason only, my beautiful wife who I never want to hurt again, I changed my tune. And answered all of their questions. Told them everything that happened in those early morning moments I can never get back. Never get the chance to do over. Do again a different way. The way I know Bella wanted me to and hoped I would. Worked so hard to give me the chance to...

No matter what I do from this moment on, I can never undo the damage I did in those. And the damage that was done before…

To me...

In another handful of early morning moments on another rainy day.

The constant and steady drizzle that was our company throughout most of this dark, miserable day has turned into a full fledged storm. Full fledged and violent. Reminding me painfully of my behavior this morning.

The hard falling rain is being thrashed against the windows of Bella's room by a strong wind, like the shattered glass that fell in a downpour all around me after I'd blown my own fierce wind through it. Wind created by the swings of my bat…

Before the final one that has forever returned it to its previously dormant state, because that final swing could have cost Bella her life, and me any want or desire to live mine in any way.

I thought I could live without her…

That I could do it if it was for her…

But I was wrong. I can't. And I won't. Unless she gives me no choice.

Unless it's what she truly wants.

Do I believe that it will be? My first instinct is to say no…

That she'd never want that…

But that may just be my hope rearing its woken up by shame and sorrow head.

And my brain's reasoning that I didn't break Bella's lone You'll only lose me if rule. The one I'd never break…

If I were stranded on a desert island with the second most beautiful woman in the world–Bella is the first–for forty years, I wouldn't break it. I'd never be unfaithful to my wife.

NEVER.

Not that I'm physically capable of it now… or of being a complete and completely faithful and doting husband to her…

But on her life I never would have. Never in a thousand lifetimes, even if I were still whole and capable of anything.

I thought of that rule many times during my cruel and stupid attempts to try to add others to it. How that one foolproof thing was the one I'd never do. And not only because I'd never hurt Bella that way, even though that reason would have been enough a million times over, but because I could never do it.

Until the moment the last breath flows from my lungs, I'll never want another woman. Not in any way.

Not to touch, or kiss, or hold in my arms.

Not to tell about my day or listen to stories about hers that make me jealous just because I wasn't a part of every minute of them.

Not to see smile at me, or hear laugh at, and then do everything I could think of that would make her keep laughing…

Not to bury myself in the sweet scent and comforting softness of, and wish I would never be anywhere else.

Not to tell she's beautiful. And perfect. And God's greatest work.

My greatest gift. And treasure. And honor.

My Bella is the only woman who could ever be any and all of those things to me.

The one woman who made me want them. Need them…

Need her.

And want her to need me. Just as much. Just as desperately. Just as irrationally. No matter what…

The very way she did.

And the very way I told her she couldn't anymore. Again and again and again…

Before I hurt her. In the worst possible. The most real. And literal.

Breaking the one rule that didn't need to be spoken to a man so completely in love.

That should never need to be spoken to any…

But never, ever to me.

I hurt my wife.

Caused her physical pain. Injured her. Could have killed her…

Me, the man who did anything and everything I could to make her know that I never would. That I only wanted to love her. Cherish her. Worship her…

I hurt her.

And did it with the love she tried to give me. Show me. Make me remember.

And everything else she wanted it to make me forget…

Most of all my stupid plan. That was hurting her every minute of every day that I wouldn't let it go and get back to ours. The one I'd fought so hard so that there could be. An us

A her and me.

The her and me.

Something that was so beautiful…

So extraordinary…

So perfect…

And so unbreakable…

That I should never have tried to.

Or force her to let me.

I never should have. I know that now. How wrong it was, despite how right I wanted it to be for her. Convinced myself it would be.

Convinced myself of a lie. And tried to convince her…

Of so many…

But the worst being that she didn't love me enough.

I don't believe that… I couldn't possibly…

But underneath all of my selfless intentions, it's there. And I can't pretend that it isn't.

The mere fact that I tried at all… and put her through everything I did…

Feels like an accusation even to me. So, I can't begin to imagine how it felt to her. Or how the hell I'm going to make it up to her.

I only know that I will.

If she'll let me.

Please wake up, Bella…

FBoFW

"Do you think she can hear me?"

I don't ask the question to anyone in particular.

I think I already know Charlie's answer; I'm not the only one who's been talking to her. And even Emmett hasn't been completely quiet, proving to me how he wasn't before. When she started to more than just tolerate him…

I suppose maybe I want my father to be the one to answer, and in his way, I suppose he does, by getting up from the chair he's shockingly sat in for the last hour–as nothing more than my father–and checking on her. As a doctor.

And as I'm studying his face–his poker face–for any sounds of an unspoken No as he looks at her, it's my mother who breaks the silence. "Well, if she can, then she's fallen completely and hopelessly in love with you all over again."

And my answer to that comes without thought. "She never fell out."

But I instantly feel guilty for saying the words out loud. And for meaning them. For knowing how true they are despite everything I did to make them not.

So I say others. "But I don't deserve her. Or her love."

And then Charlie reaches over her and grabs my hand just as I start to pull it from its gentle grasp around hers, where I know it doesn't deserve to be. "Those questions I asked you earlier… I didn't ask them because I didn't know the answers."

I know the questions he means. And I didn't answer them before, but I do now. "I love her more, Charlie. I swear I do."

"Then let her hear that, Edward. And nothing else."

Yes, sir… "Please wake up, Bella…I have a lot of stupid shit to apologize for. And make up for. And it's going to take me forever… a thousand forevers to even make a dent… and I've already stupidly wasted so much time… so much precious time with you...

"Please wake up and kick my ass for that. Please, sweetheart…

"I need you. I need you so much… "

I trail off…

Because I don't know what else to say…

Because I need you feels like everything there is. And everything I should have been telling her every day. Every day that I should have been begging her to stay with me instead of trying to push her away.

Believe me, I know that now...

But it's not all I do...

Because then I hear the most beautiful sound I've ever heard in my life.

And I know who I really wanted to answer me before.

Who my question was for.

My Do you think she can hear me question and everything else I have…

"I know that, you silly boy. I always knew it."

xx

Short again, I know, but it was the right place to end it. I'll try to give more in the next one. I hope whoever is still here will stay for it. And bear with me with everything I'm struggling to give at all right now, here and everywhere else. I promise I'm trying.

But one thing I don't have to try to do at all... I LOVE this Charlie. Don't you?