Entry #56 - AU

Truly Anonymous Twilight O/S PP Contest

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Title: Amnesic Narcosis

Picture Prompt Number: 13

Pairing: Edward & Bella

Rating: M

Word Count: 8,140

Summary: Reality is what one perceives. What if your perception isn't reality? Could you cope if you never knew the truth? EPOV AU/Angst/Mystery

Warnings and Disclaimer: SM owns Twilight. I own a nonexistent filter, and this O/S has mature themes which include, but aren't limited to: colorful language, sexual content, violence, and angst. So, sit down, strap in, and hang on tight. Enjoy!

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Amnesic Narcosis

Pulse pumping, breathing frantic, smiling like a fool, I grab the bag and run for the door. Bella's slowly making her way down the snowy porch steps, waddling her petite frame to the car. Racing past her, I throw the bag in the back seat, turning at just the right moment to open her door and assist her inside. After she's situated as comfortable as possible and belted in, I scramble to the driver's seat, slipping on the ice in the process, and start the engine.

I'm trying to remain positive because this is the birth of our child, but her grimaces and groans aren't comforting in the least. Taking her hand in mine, I squeeze gently, which she returns with the force of a vice. Biting my tongue to keep from whimpering, I focus on my driving and take the turn onto Kingshighway. Almost there.

"Bella. Hang in there, honey."

"Ooooh! Just drive! One… Two… Three… Four…"

"We're almost there. Five more minu… Oh my god!"

"Edward!"

Life. Love. Death. They all have a funny way of sneaking up on you when you least expect it. They also tend to exist in a bittersweet symbiosis which will devoid a person of every single, solitary flicker of hope and purpose.

Such is my life.

After the accident almost three years ago, my life, if you can even call it that now, changed dramatically. It was mid-January in 1948, a blisteringly cold day in St. Louis, Missouri complete with a dusting of snow and a smattering of ice pellets. My wife and I were expecting our first child, and she was a week and a half overdue. Apparently "miserable" didn't come close to explaining her current situation, and we'd tried everything we could think of to put her labor into motion. Spicy foods were out of the question, so we tried walking. When walking didn't work, we attempted making love, and when that failed, although incredibly sexy, she chugged some castor oil. Poor thing was up all night in the bathroom… and contractions didn't start for another four days after that. The little runt wasn't budging from his warm home. Stubborn just like me.

On that fateful evening, I'd returned home after twelve hours of working as Doctor Masen, a Pediatrician at Children's Hospital. A normal day consisted of making rounds with the first year Residents, getting flack from the older nurses about keeping my med students and interns out of their hair, and occasionally catching a quick bite to eat or taking a nap, if I was lucky. Don't get me wrong, I loved my job. We didn't admit just any child to the unit, but when we did, they really needed our help. It was the best place to work, but it could bring a grown man to tears watching those children suffer.

Thankfully I was high up on the totem pole at Children's. Being a Professor and the Attending of intensive care, I'd negotiated shorter work days for the last month of Bella's pregnancy. Instead of doing the usual twenty-four to forty-eight hours straight, the Chief and other Attendings agreed fewer hours would be appropriate so I could tend to my wife.

Of course, Bella was more than happy to have me home, but those last five weeks took a toll on both of us. Hormones infected our little two story home like the plague. Bella was increasingly moody, having crying jags that lasted for hours on end, and the more I tried to help, the worse she got. I learned quickly to simply make sure she was comfortable, grab her a glass of water, and let her sit in our room alone until she evened out. Luckily she never took anything out on me, but it drained me of sympathy, which made it difficult to be around her.

Fortunately my parents lived close by, and my mother volunteered to come over and stay with Bella while I was at work. After they started spending time together during my absence, I noticed a positive change in Bella's demeanor. She was much happier, even giddy to the point that I thought my mother was lacing Bella's tea with booze. Of course she wasn't, and I'm ashamed to ever have thought it, but I was grateful for my mother's presence those last few weeks, as she surely saved my sanity.

In the weeks before the accident, Bella and my mother knitted to their hearts content, making several booties, blankets, bonnets, and bibs. I started calling them "B's," as in, "I see you've made more B's today," and Bella really enjoy my nickname. We even began contemplating names that started with the letter B: Benjamin, Billy, Bobby, Barry. With as much as I wanted a boy, we weren't sure of the true gender of the baby. Although Bella assured me her motherly instincts told her as much, I was nothing but practical and we also decided on a girl's name: Becca Renee. I wasn't convinced on the name at first, but when Bella told me her reasoning, I was sold.

A few years before, Bella's mother became ill with cancer. It was an aggressive form, and when the doctors diagnosed her, she was already weak and frail to the point that radiation therapy would do more harm than good. Her mother, Renee Rebecca Swan, never made it to our wedding. She passed away the week before in her slumber, holding Bella's hand.

Until that moment, I never knew Renee's middle name, but it was perfect for a little girl, if that was our child's fate. When we discussed the baby's potential names, Bella would light up, giggling at the thought of finally being able to hold and rock our little one. The baby's room was set up weeks in advance, thanks in part to my mother and father who offered to tidy the house and build the crib when Bella became frantic in her nesting stage. Everything had a place, everything needed to be perfect, and nothing could be moved or Bella would go on a rampage. The bassinet next to our bed caused such an uproar one night after I moved it and forgot to put it back, that I feared she'd never forgive me. Needless to say, I never touched anything without asking permission, or just avoided things altogether.

Even though that last month was intense, Bella and I were more in love than ever. We cuddled at night, legs intertwined, me rubbing her beautifully round belly and talking to our child. I'd massage her shoulders, back, feet, any area she requested because I worshipped her. She was my everything, and now she was swollen with my child, carrying my legacy, willing to endure hours of painful labor in order to give us a family. I was the luckiest man in the world.

Then I came home on that January evening to a wife who'd been in labor for five hours. She claimed she didn't want to bother me at work since she feared they were false labor pains. Bella swore the contractions only just started increasing in severity and frequency an hour prior to my arrival, but the way she moaned and gripped her stomach made me doubt her truthfulness.

Regardless, I raced around the house, gathering our prepared overnight bag, and rushed Bella into our car. We made our way down the familiar route, excited and anxious to finally meet our bundle of joy. But in a moment of blinding clarity, senses super aware of my surroundings, I watched as my life changed catastrophically.

The vehicle in front of me hit a patch of ice, careening into oncoming traffic. Ever the conscientious driver, I was far enough behind them to evade a collision by slowing down and maneuvering to the side. Unfortunately, a driver from the opposite direction swerved to avoid the same vehicle, taking a course which would intercept my own.

Time stood still. Every breath, every heart beat seemed measurable by minutes. My fingers remained clenched with Bella's, my thumb caressing the back of her hand silently telling her, "I love you. I love you. I love you," with every sweep it would take. My mind was calculating at a speed known only in science fiction, but no matter which way I analyzed our situation, I knew impact was imminent. Choosing the only decision feasible, I turned the wheel at the last possible second, sending our car sideways on the street. Screeching tires, pounding breaks, Bella screaming. As the other car slammed into my side, I heard the metal crushing, bending, breaking, splintering into my chest. Glass exploded, shards flying through the air, creating a deafening boom within our confined space. Bella gasped as my body was moved from the driver's side into her small passenger area. Still gripping my hand, she cried, pleaded, cursed at me to look to her. I complied, angling my face to smile weakly into the amazing depths of the only brown eyes that would ever understand me, the only lips I would ever taste, the only cheeks that would hold tears for me, and the only woman who would ever die for me. "I'm sorry," were my last words as the world turned black.

At least… that's what they've told me. They. The Hiddens. A silent group of amateur investigators turned rogue after discovering a disturbing trend spreading rapidly across the world. Labeling it "Amnesic Narcosis," or A.N. for short, Hiddens began tracking the phenomenon shortly before my accident, which I had no record of. The classic symptom was memories wiped clean of any such happenings, just like me, and no evidence could be found of the other individuals involved, ever. Soon after the amnesic event, narcosis began driving the person to the edge of insanity, and then the individual's fate rested in the hands of the asylums.

My story was much in the same. I'd been feeling lost, like my life had been rewound, and the nightmares I'd experienced were enough to freak me out on a regular basis. About a month after my nightmares started, shortly after my induction as the Attending of intensive care at Children's Hospital in January, 1948, I was tracked down. Emmett McCarty and his trusty sidekicks, Alice and Jasper Whitlock, contacted me persistently by phone until I agreed to meet them.

Emmett, a burly gentleman a few years older than me, started the organization after his own traumatic event. Similar to me, he'd lost his wife and their three year old daughter in a tragic elevator collapse in July, 1946. Emmett "woke up" from the event only to find he had no concrete recollection of it, no proof that Rose or Kate ever existed, and he was a month into the past, June instead of July. Immediately, he knew something was wrong. His constant nightmares were too life-like to ignore, and the ache he felt for the missing woman and child in his dreams, chilled him to the bone.

Spurred on by a tiny glimmer of hope, he scoured every document he could get his hands on. Then one day, Alice and Jasper introduced themselves. They'd watched him for months, studied his every move and scrutinized his thought processes, realizing he was hunting for the same answers they were so desperately trying to achieve.

Jasper married Alice in the summer of 1945, a young couple by modern standards, but in love beyond measure. They were on their way to their honeymoon, traveling by car from Texas to Colorado, when they were struck head-on by a wayward pick-up truck. The driver had been drinking moonshine and fell asleep at the wheel, merging into their lane without warning. This time, Jasper was left alone.

The only thing remaining with Jasper was a gaping wound in his heart and enough despair to last fifty lifetimes. Depression took over his being, and he poured every waking moment into finding Alice. Finally, the following summer on the exact day of the accident, Jasper returned to the scene only to find Alice working in a small diner on the side of the road. They were together again, two hearts combined by hope and the belief that love would prevail.

As luck would have it, Alice and Jasper combined their efforts with Emmett, and quickly found others experiencing the same grief. The Hiddens were born from hope and the unitary purpose of bringing back the people who went missing, the "Forgottens" who were still out there in another realm.

At our initial meeting, Alice, Jasper, and Emmett informed me of my involvement in an undercover reconnaissance mission as one of the "Stolen," a person of interest, someone who's mind was no longer their own and their memories erased forever.

I didn't want to listen, nor did I have the time to bother with their insignificant driveling. But then Alice started spouting off information, clues, tidbits about my life that no one but I should ever know. She quoted the whispered words to my dying grandmother two years ago even though I was sure no one else was there. She knew I was partially deaf in my left ear though I'd purposively kept that out of my health records for fear of retribution. And she reiterated the speech I was planning on giving next Friday night at my congratulatory dinner although I'd not yet written it down or spoken it aloud.

Beginning to believe their nonsense, I kept in touch over the next few weeks, intrigued at where their findings might go. It fascinated me that I may have a chance to help them, were it not for the sheer impossibility of it all. I played along because, after all, I was a good sport.

As time went on, I felt myself slipping, gaining insight into their imaginary world as if I truly understood their purpose. I began taking time off from work to conduct research of my own. Endless days and sleepless nights followed as I drifted further into the world of the Hiddens. I submersed my entire being into finding out the truth, the reality of what may have been if I only let myself believe.

Then it hit me. A Stolen. A victim to A.N. The revelation Emmett, Alice, Jasper, all the Hiddens, had been waiting for, pushing me to take the plunge and accept my reality.

I was. We were. It happened. No more hiding behind falsities. No more living a lie. I was a Stolen in every sense of the word, and Bella was my Forgotten.

But how could that happen? Why would my life be turned upside down in a matter of minutes, minutes I never knew existed? Who would take those moments away from me? Was it for personal gain? Did someone have a grudge and wanted nothing more than to see me suffer? Was I losing my mind and perceiving the impossible? Or was I chasing the inevitable and pursuing the unfathomable?

Lost to my insanity, I became a slave to my reality.

Or what I hoped was my reality. I'd dug a hole so deep into the perception of that alternate existence that it was my life. And I was finally prepared to do whatever it took to get it back.

So, here I am. January, 1951. Exactly one week before the three year anniversary of the accident that may or may not have happened that changed my life forever. The Hiddens rallied behind me, assuring me this is the time to act, the time to take back what is rightfully mine, my Forgotten. My Bella.

"We leave at exactly 7:13 PM next Sunday," Emmett suggests as we sit around a crowded table in the back of the library. "It's the only way to ensure a slip into her realm."

"I hate to admit it," Jasper sighed, "but Emmett's right. We have to connect with Bella's realm, and the easiest way to encounter it will be if we mimic the events that took place up to the crash."

"If we're lucky, she'll be attempting the same maneuver," Alice added, leaning forward in her chair and resting her arms on the table. "And if she is, your realms should collide, sending your forces together."

"But I don't understand," I confess, tilting my head to the side. "What will happen when our realms intertwine? Won't that have devastating effects on everyone else?"

"Not from our experience." Emmett shook his head. "When Jasper found Alice she was simply working at a diner. When I found Rose, she was sitting at her favorite spot in the park feeding the ducks in the pond. The other Stolens who've found their Forgottens had similar results. Fate cannot be dissuaded. She's a force beyond our comprehension."

"You have to believe this, Edward," said Alice. "It won't work if you're heart's not in it. You will find Bella. We can promise you that."

"But you can't promise me it will be next week," I raised my voice, staring at the tiny woman across from me as she coward in response. "And you can't guarantee she'll have the baby. Emmett, you know that better than anyone. You've seen the devastation on Rose's face about not finding Kate."

I was met with glares from the librarian and Jasper for my outburst, and quickly ducked my head in apology. Things were getting tense among our group, as it did whenever Hiddens attempted to retrieve a Forgotten. There was less than a week until I made my jump, until I attempted to slip into Bella's realm, and I was hesitant since my last attempt ended with me and Emmett on crutches for six weeks. Being gun-shy had a whole new meaning.

In theory, a realm jump should be smooth and effortless. Based on the Hiddens previous jumps, the realms overlapped seamlessly, and no one besides the Stolens and Forgottens ever knew what truly happened. Unfortunately, my previous attempt was far from seamless and I was still as lonely as ever.

"Sorry," I started again, lowering my voice to a respectable whisper. I ran my fingers through my hair collecting my thoughts. "I just don't want this to be like last time. Chief Cullen warned me I couldn't spend any more time away from work, and I'm getting discouraged. This is far from an exact science, and that's what I rely on for a living. Plus," I swallowed thickly, "I'm missing her so much. I don't know how many more jumps I can manage before I lose hope… and my mind. I'm slowly going crazy."

There was a collective sigh from our group. Emmett patted my back, Alice looked at me with pity, and Jasper scratched his head in thought.

"Well," Jasper said, crossing his arms and leaning on the table, "we need to make sure this jump works. I have some ideas, but I'll need to think through them some more, and I'll need complete and utter cooperation from you, Edward."

I rolled my eyes, but Jasper was right to pinpoint his accusations on me. Alice told me several times that my general indecisiveness and lack of trust caused the first jump to fail. She swore Bella's realm was close enough to touch, but I screwed it all up when I doubted her intuition.

Nodding, I agreed to do whatever Jasper had in mind. I'd swallow my pride in order to finally get Bella back, and I'd be willing to risk my life for one more glimpse of her beautiful face.

The next few days were spent in close proximity to Jasper, Alice, and Emmett. They stayed at my house working until the early morning hours, mapping out my jump, and refining the plan. Emmett wanted to do a test-run, but Alice thought it would be too confusing if Bella was trying to find me, too. Jasper and Alice decided my jump would have to be a "now or never" affair if it was all to go smoothly.

Mapping. Planning. Jumping. Stressing. It seemed like that was all that was left in my life. Luckily, I was able to find a replacement to cover my shifts at the hospital during that week otherwise I never would've found time to sleep. Anxiety, nervousness, and sheer exhaustion became the norm, and there was no way I'd be able to care for dying children in my current state.

Finally, two nights before the scheduled jump, I went to bed early after much persuading from Jasper.

"You need to rest or you'll be too tired when you need it most," he whispered, ushering me down the hall to my room. "Don't argue, all right? Just do as you're told for once. We can handle things from here on out."

"But won't you need my input?" I persisted, yawning as I sat on the bed. "You'll need to know the exact details."

"Edward, we're the one's who told you the exact details years ago. I think we've got those covered. Besides, you look like shit, and I'm sure Bella would like to see a rested Edward when you meet up with her."

I half smiled at Jasper as he walked out of the room, shutting the door as he left. I'd been so worried about following their plans right down to every minute detail that I'd let myself unravel. Jasper made a good point about being rested so Bella could have the best Edward possible at the jump. All I needed was some sleep.

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"Okay," Alice positions herself at the front door, looking at her watch like it will explode the second her eyes leave it. "Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. Go!"

I'm shoved out of the house and nearly break my ankle flying down the porch stairs. Skidding to a stop just in front of the car, I take a deep breath to calm my nerves, but continue on my course to retrieve my Bella.

In seconds, the car rumbles to life, my seat belt clicks, and I'm heading toward Kingshighway, taking the same route that introduced tragedy into my life. Not unlike the last time, my breathing is fast, my pulse is racing, and I'm about to embark on the journey of a lifetime.

As I take the final turn, I apprehensively lean closer to the steering wheel, gripping it until my knuckles are white and straining. Will Bella be there? Will all my efforts, all my waiting be worth it? Will she come back to me and stay with me forever? Will she remember me or even want me?

All my doubt is erased as I come to a blistering halt. There are no cars to be found, and even the buildings seem to be hiding from her radiant beauty. I stare at her standing in the road, not because I'm stunned, but because it's the only thing that seems appropriate. Do I dare move and risk losing her again? Do I stay and watch her leave me forever?

As if she heard me, Bella motions for me come closer. Slowly, I leave the confines of the car and inch my way to her. She's glowing and I don't want to ruin the moment of our reunion, so I give her my best smile while I reach for her hands.

In an instant, she withdraws her arms behind her. Even though a gentle smile remains on her face, I see a tear trace a path down her cheek.

"My angel, why are you crying?" I manage to choke out, my emotions threatening to bury me alive any second.

"Edward, you can't come any closer," Bella whimpers, and takes a tentative step backwards, withdrawing into herself. "I can't be seen with you. I shouldn't have come. They'll know I was here."

"Bella, what are you saying? Who will know?" I plead, advancing toward her. "I'll protect you. I won't let anything happen to you."

Reaching for her again, I step forward only to be met with her piercing scream. I drop to my knees, covering my ears, cowering away from the authority it rendered. I can't. I must. I have to keep looking or it will all be a dream.

"I just wanted to show you… so you'll stop looking for me, for us," she cries softly, as she stares into my eyes. "We've found a home and you can't be with us, but we're safe and we love you. Just please, leave us alone."

"What? No!" I'm yelling now, scrambling to get back on two feet, running towards her retreating frame. It's like she's floating away with every step I take, and no matter how fast my legs carry me, it will never be enough.

Lunging, I throw myself at her, landing on the ground, barely grazing her feet with my outstretched fingers as she changes, morphs, transforms into the most beautiful being known to man. Her hair is long and flowing, blowing in the breeze, wrapping perfectly around her shoulders. Cheeks rosy and flawless, framing the most breathtaking smile. Eyes glistening with tears she's shedding only for me, and then she blows me a kiss as her true angel wings carry her away into the blinding light.

Crack!

I'm jolted from my sleep by a crash in my kitchen. Sweat was pouring down my face, chest, and back as the realization hit me. It was only a dream. Or nightmare.

I raced down the hall to find Emmett picking up shards of a glass plate off of the floor.

"So sorry, Edward," Emmett apologized, tossing the pieces into the trash. "I didn't mean to wake you. Slippery dish, I guess." He paused, assessing my features, and added, "Are you okay? You look like you saw a ghost."

"I suppose you could say that," I affirmed, pulling out a chair and sitting at the table. "Where's Jasper and Alice? I think you all need to hear this."

After gathering everyone, I went over every detail of my dream. What I couldn't understand was why Bella was afraid? Who was she scared of? Where was she running to? And why couldn't I be there with her? The obvious conundrum was the fact that she was an angel, but I'd been assured Bella was simply in another realm, alive and well, just waiting for me to pick her up, so to speak.

"You're overwhelmed by the task at hand," began Jasper, as we all sat around the living room. "Your brain is materializing your fears about the jump."

"But that doesn't explain why she's running from me and why I can't be wherever she is," I reiterated for what must have been the fifth time.

"Of course it does," chuckled Alice. "You're scared she's not going to remember you, and she'll take off for the hills when she sees you again. You've mentioned that several times."

"Okay, so why did she say, 'We've found a home and you can't be with us?' That seems like a pretty clear message to me."

"Yeah, another message you've been spewing worry about for months," huffed Emmett. "You're worried she's found someone else in her realm, but I'm telling you it's impossible. Not going to happen."

I glanced at all of their faces. Each one a mixture of hope, laughter, and get-the-hell-over-it-already.

Rubbing the back of my neck, I looked sheepishly at them. "All right. Fine. I'll play along for now, but if anything else weird happens, I'm doing this my way."

This time, they all rolled their eyes and smiled to appease me. I got up from my spot on the couch and decided another round of sleep was in order. I just hoped this time I'd actually get some.

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Fifteen hours. That's how long my body kept me under a dreamless state of awareness without so much as a pin drop to startle me. Emmett was prepared to douse me in cold water, but thought better of it when he noticed I was only three hours from my jump. Good thing, too, because I would've pummeled him for interrupting the best sleep I've had in years.

Nervously pacing around the house until Alice said it was time, I couldn't help staring at the clock. Time really did seem to stand still. I even swore the clock turned back five minutes just to mock me at one point. Nerve-wracking didn't come close to explaining it.

Seven minutes before my launch-time, the home phone rang. I leisurely went to the kitchen and picked up the receiver. "Hello? Edward Cullen speaking."

"Edward?" a soft whisper.

"Yes. Can I help you?"

"Edward?" slightly louder this time.

"Yes. This is he. What do you want?"

"Edward!" a piercing scream, much like the one from my dream… Oh, my god!

"Bella!" I yelled, then dial tone rang out through the speaker.

Frantically, I started tapping the switchhook to reconnect our lines. My attempts were futile, however, and I sank to the floor, wrapping my arms around my knees and rocking back in forth as I wept.

Suddenly, Alice came flying into the room, all color drained from her face, and gasping for air. "Who… Was that… Did she…"

"I don't know!" I shouted, pulling on my hair in frustration. "It sounded like Bella, but I don't know. I have to find her!"

I jumped up from the floor, tear stained face, runny nose, clothes in disarray. Fumbling my way to the door, I was stopped dead in my tracks by Emmett and Jasper.

"You can't go, Edward," announced Emmett, placing a hand on my chest, a frightening scowl planted on his face. "Your jump will start any minute."

"Get out of my way, dammit!" I growled, pushing against their bodies with little progress. "What are you doing? Can't you see she's out there? She needs my help! I have to find her!"

"We can't let you do that," stalled Jasper, pulling a gun from his belt and aiming it at my chest. "You're not going anywhere."

The phone started ringing again, but I made no move to answer it. My eyes were trained on the weapon steadily pointed at my heart, ready to take my life before I had the chance to truly gain it back. These people were determined to stop me from getting to Bella. But why? What happened in the last five minutes to change their minds?

Ring. Ring. Ring. Ring.

"Can I answer it, please?" I begged, wishing only to hear Bella's voice one more time before they killed me.

"Make it fast. We don't have all day," Alice yelled from behind me, holding the phone out for me to take.

"H-h-hello?" I stuttered out, trying to sound brave.

"Edward? This is Chief Cullen. I need you to come to work at once."

"Chief Cullen," I repeated, more for my captors' benefits than anything else. "I'm not sure if I'll be able to make it in tonight, sir. I'm kind of in the middle of something at the moment."

"I don't care if you're in the middle of eighty things at the moment. I need you here, and I need you here now! We have some traumas coming in, and we're going to need all the hands we can get. So get your ass down here! End of story!"

"I'll try my best, sir," I finished, but he'd already hung up on me.

Slowly replacing the receiver, I stepped back into the living room and started walking to the door. Once again, I was standing directly in front of a loaded weapon and three people who were determined to watch me suffer.

"I need to go to the hospital," I said flatly, hoping these three friends turned kidnappers would see the need in my eyes. "The Chief needs my help with a mass casualty. All physicians are to report there immediately."

"I'm not buying it," whispered Emmett to Jasper. "Something seems fishy to me."

"What's the harm in letting him go?" asked Alice, flippantly. "It's not the right path to enter her realm, anyway. He won't make it to her."

"I think you're right, Alice," agreed Jasper. "But I'm taking him there just to make sure he doesn't take a detour."

And so we went. Me in the passenger seat, Emmett driving, and Jasper behind me, his gun firmly pressed into the back of my head.

When we arrived at Children's, I bolted inside with my captors on my heels. Chief Cullen was right about the traumas. Every emergency room stretcher was occupied by a child. There were children laying on the floors in the hallways, taking up every spare place the nurses could find. I could tell just by sight some weren't going to make it till tomorrow. Others had a fighting chance, but only if they were helped.

"Either you two can kill me now, or you're going to have to let me do my job and save these children," I rasped out, tears threatening to spill again.

"Fuck," Jasper cursed, weighing his options carefully. "Fine. You do your job, but we'll be waiting outside for you when you're done. Got it?"

I nodded once, and quickly turned around to help the first child I could save.

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Working through the night, I'd sent nine children to the operating room after I couldn't do any more for them on my own, and I'd announced more dead-on-arrivals than I cared to admit. Apparently, there'd been a gas line explosion in one of the local churches during evening mass. The heaters had been working overtime due to the decreasing temperatures, and the old lines couldn't handle the extra work. Church patrons were rushed to the nearest hospitals after the blast; at least they were if the body was all in one piece.

When the commotion seemed to be dying down, I slumped down into a dark corner, mulling over my life's fate. My only options at this point were death by gun point, or death by despair. The more I thought it over, the more I liked the idea of just getting it over with. Jasper sure seemed ready to help me out with that venture, but why? Weren't they trying to help me find Bella? Why would everything change the second she tried to contact me? And why was Bella so panicked?

This entire situation was beyond fathomable, and just when I was about to give up my ponderings and head into the line of fire, Chief Cullen found my resting place, and joined me for a drink.

"Here, swig this," Carlisle insisted, forcing the flask into my hand as he sat next to me on the floor. "Trust me. I wouldn't give it to you if I didn't think you'd need it. You will especially after I tell you what you don't want to hear."

Now, I was curious. "What do you mean, I don't want to hear it?" I took a long drink and sputtered from the strength of the hooch. "You mean how terrible it is to watch helpless children die at the hands of highly skilled professionals?"

"No, you jackass," he stole the flask back, and took a long draw before recapping it and stuffing it in his jacket pocket. "You already know that. I'm talking about your friends waiting outside for you. It took you long enough to figure out they're not the good guys, and now look where you are. Ready to meet your maker because you're too much of a pansy to fight back."

What? My brain was trying desperately to catch up with his words. "You mean you know Jasper and Emmett?"

"And Alice, too. Yes," he droned, rolling his eyes. "They're the one's keeping you from Bella."

I stopped breathing. "But no one knew about Bella except me and the Hiddens."

"Not exactly," Carlisle winked, all-knowing smile plastered on his smug face. "You really are daft for a bright young man. I thought you'd have this all figured out by now. Oh, well. No bother. I'll just have to get you up to speed."

Carlisle began his story much like the Hiddens did three years ago, telling me all the events that led me to this moment. The moment of being a Stolen looking for my Forgotten. As his story came to a close, I could barely believe what I was hearing, but I had to cling to something as truth since what I'd thought was safe clearly wasn't.

"So, why do you think they call themselves the Hiddens?" he questioned, tapping his index finger to his temple.

"Because they're hiding?" I returned, not knowing where he was going with this.

"Aaaannnddd?"

"They don't want to be found?"

"Keep going," he encouraged, patient as ever.

"I don't know," I gave up, throwing my arms in the air and letting them fall to my lap in surrender.

"Sure you do, you're just not letting yourself see it. The Hiddens. The Stolens. The Forgottens. They're all connected, right?"

I nodded, urging him to continue.

"Well, where are all of these Forgottens going? Who is taking them? Hiding them?"

The realization on my face must have said it all because Carlisle belted out, "There it is!" followed by a hearty, belly shaking laugh.

Hiddens were robbing from the Stolens. Hiddens were concealing the Forgottens. And Hiddens were creating all of the lies to cover up their true motive. But what was their motive?

"I'm still lost, Chief," I admitted, reluctantly.

"You're asking yourself, 'why?' and that's the right track to be on," he approved. "But you need to make the bigger leap. Who am I, and why should you care?"

Carlisle ruffled my hair in a fatherly way, and gestured for me to stand and follow him down the dark hall. I was too far invested by this point to walk away, so I meandered after him, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

As we walked through the endless dark corridors of the hospital, Carlisle shared his role in this impossible mystery.

"Edward, you've known me your entire life. Didn't you ever think it was weird how we kept getting drawn together?"

I was beyond responding, so I sighed and rolled my eyes, just wanting him to tell me what the hell was going on already.

"Well, you've been targeted by the Hiddens since before birth, but I was also assigned to you. You see, I'm a Guardian. Your Guardian. And I was asked to watch after you and your growing family when your father's original Guardian couldn't take your case. I was to keep my distance until you needed me, but the Hiddens were determined to ruin you. They caused your accident with Bella, your subsequent memory loss, and they've kept you from Bella ever since.

"I've been waiting for the right moment to tell you everything. Obviously that time is now, but you have to understand the Hiddens will stop at nothing to get who they want for their cause."

"Who they want?" I asked cautiously, pausing in an abandoned underground laboratory room. "They want Bella. But why?"

"You really don't get it, do you?" he took a deep breath and pulled out two chairs behind a desk for us to sit. "They want angels. Need them for their armies, but they haven't been able to get volunteers in thousands of years, so they've been stealing them to reinforce their ranks."

"Wait," I stopped his rambling. My brain couldn't process anymore of his nonsense. I had to make myself say the words out loud. "You mean Bella is a real angel."

"Yes."

"And Alice, Jasper, and Emmett are…" I looked to Carlisle to finish my thought.

"Fallen angels. The Devil's minions. Hiddens."

"And you are my Guardian."

"Your Guardian angel."

"Then I am…" again I stared at him, waiting for the details to sink in.

"In Purgatory. You died in your accident, and so did Bella and your child, a daughter. Bella was innocent enough to gain immediate access to her wings and heaven before they kidnapped her. The Hiddens guaranteed you never made it with her. They kept you here and away from Bella. They used her against you by sending her to you in your dream the other night, and they never intended to help you find her."

"They forced her to say those things," I choked out. "She's not safe is she? Bella needs my help. She tried to contact me. I have to find her!"

"Whoa. Hold on there, lover boy," Carlisle caught my arm before I could flee the room. "This will be a fight. You need to be strong. You'll never get Bella back in the shape you're in."

And so it began. My quest to save Bella. No more talks of jumping and fake realms that would never lead to my beloved. Only plans to find my angel and rescue her from the heathens who'd long since lost the privilege of their wings. I was preparing for the fight of my after-life, and Bella was the ultimate prize.

/+/+/+/+/+/+/+/+/+/+/+/+/+/+/+/

"Come out, come out, wherever you are." Emmett's voice bounced off the walls in the basement of the hospital.

Down here in the labyrinth of hallways, it was difficult to know exactly where he or the others were. I figured they'd come in after me when I didn't make an appearance outside after my shift, but I wasn't ready for it to be so soon after Carlisle's revelations about their lies.

"Just remember what I told you," whispered Carlisle as we weaved in and out of rooms, gaining precious seconds to regain our composure. "Call them out on their falsities and they'll burn where they stand. Bella will be set free by their downfall."

In a flash, he disappeared around a corner and I was left to my own devices. Momentarily dazed by his departure, I stopped my trek through the halls and calmly assessed my situation. I'd have to face them sooner or later, and I wanted this over with just as much as they did.

"I'm over here!" I yelled, knowing they would find me in a heartbeat. "I think we need to clear up a few things."

Suddenly, four figures emerged from the darkness. They were cast in the shadows, so I could only make out three familiar shapes, but the fourth was first to speak.

"You can never have them," a sultry yet sweet toned voice floated through the air. As she spoke, the others provided a protective triangle around her. "They are mine, your little family. Safe from the hell you'll put them through."

"That's funny," I scoffed, standing my ground, not intimidated by this new member. "Because I thought that's exactly what you're putting them through now."

Alice hissed, but maintained her position. I was going to have to do a lot better than that if I wanted to get Bella back.

"I've had my eyes on her ever since she claimed to be yours," started the fourth member. "Too bad Bella's too good for you. She sure does listen to commands well."

A painful scream echoed through the halls. Bella. Somewhere not far off. Somewhere within reach.

"So this is a jealously issue?" I returned, feeling my rage build within me. "You wanted me so you took Bella?"

"Ha! You stupid, little, insignificant man. You mean nothing to me. But your pain… now, that's worth something. I've rather enjoyed watching you agonize over your loss. Seeing your hope ignite only to be squashed by the smallest detail. I have my motives for taking her. The torture is just a bonus."

"Then why? Why Bella? Why me?" I questioned, buying more time.

"Why me? Why Bella?" Jasper mimicked my voice with almost perfect clarity, mocking my frailty and smirking with his cleverness. He gained a round of snickering from Alice and Emmett, but that didn't go well with their new leader.

"Silence, insolent fools!" she howled, and the walls of the hospital shook from its force, as plaster rained down from the ceiling.

The three of them faltered, cowering away from her and that's when I caught a glimpse of her face.

"I know. I know what you wanted, why you wanted Bella," I admitted, clenching my hands into fists at my sides. "You wanted the baby. But Bella hasn't given her to you, has she, Rosalie? She's got her hidden so well you can't even begin to find her. She's beating you at your own game, so you came after me hoping I could talk sense into her and hand over our child."

A collective hiss rang out from their group this time. That really seemed to fluster them. I'd hit a nerve and there was no turning back.

"All I ever wanted was the child. You and Bella were a means to an end. She'd be mine and I'd get the pleasure of watching you two burn for eternity from the loss and despair it brought you. What a perfect plan it was, too, until your Guardian had to ruin it all."

"Leave him out of this," I snapped. "This is between you and me now. I don't care if you are the Devil, Rosalie. You'll never be anything more than a pile of stinking, rotting ash underneath my shoes for what you've put my family through. You lied!"

I screamed as fury built its strength inside me. I could see the fear behind their eyes even though they never wavered from their stances in front of me.

"You lied about every detail of the Hiddens. You only wanted to supplement an already dying army of fallen angels, and I'm not willing to sacrifice myself or my family for that pathetic cause."

Smoke began billowing out from underneath Rosalie's feet. Alice, Jasper, and Emmett started looking around panicked, not sure if they should retreat or stay to protect their master.

"How dare you put my family through that tragic accident, stealing us from a life worth living. Then taking me on a wild goose chase, promising me the world with no intention of ever making good on the deal. You thrived from my trust in you, but that's forever in the past."

Flames sprang up from the floor and engulfed her three protectors. They writhed and shrieked, thrashed and groaned. Rosalie made them pay for their sorry excuses for deceptions. They would burn for their misgivings.

"And you sent Bella to do your dirty work," I continued, wanting to rub salt in the already gaping wound. "You made her enter my dream and turn me away. You're just a spineless coward, making the innocent do your bidding."

A horrific grating, metallic-like screech pierced the air. Rosalie's pristine demeanor was shattered. There was no denying the truth to my words. Her evil spawn couldn't hold me any longer. They didn't have the necessary fuel for their survival. My trust. Never again could they hurt what was mine.

With a tremendous influx of heat and flames, the four screaming, fallen angels vanished into nothingness. I was left standing in an empty hallway, with no evidence of anyone else ever being there. The silence was deafening until I heard her voice.

"You came for me," Bella whispered from behind me.

I turned around quickly and gasped at the sight before me. My breathtaking angel stood mere feet away from me, smiling beautifully, waiting for me to complete her rescue.

Without wasting another minute, I ran to her, pulling her into an embrace that poured my entire being into her soul. Burying my face in her neck, I breathed in her scent as my hands swept across the planes of her body. How long I'd waited for this moment. How many times I'd dreamed of our reunion. Nothing could compare to the feeling of actually having her in my arms again.

Lifting my face, I peered into her deep brown eyes, crushing her body impossibly closer to mine as I did. Leaning down, I placed gentle kisses on her forehead, nose, cheeks, chin, and finally mouth, where I was met with a fire a million times more powerful than the depths of Hell.

Feverishly, we clung to one another, never breaking our connection from the other. Whispers of "I love you" danced off the walls, hands caressed slowly over supple flesh, and fingers traced seductive patterns over tender skin. So was the night. An exploration and relearning of forgotten lovers, once again in sync, survivors of a tragedy brought together by fate, eternally fused as one by passion and unending love.

Finally embracing my love, my angel, my Bella and basking in the ecstasy of our union was all I ever wanted. All I'd ever need. And so was the rest of our existence.

A/N: Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did writing it. Please take the time to leave a review and tell me your thoughts. I truly appreciate every single one of them, and can't thank you enough for your support! ;)