A/N: I know, I know, another one. I pulled this a few months back because they just weren't ready to share their story. Now they won't stop screaming at me. Nothing was going to get accomplished on any other stories until this got out, so here we are.
This will hurt. It won't be all sunshine and rainbows. It's labeled angst for a reason. Just trust in me. And trust in them.
No promise on an update schedule, but I will try my hardest to make them regular. I can tell you now there's four chapters after this that are mostly written.
Thank you for stepping onto this journey. I hope you enjoy the ride. And please, share your thoughts. I always love to hear what you think! :)
Characters belong to SM. Everything else belongs to me.
"This is Officer Denali from the Seattle Police Department. Are you the son of a Mr. Peter and Mrs. Charlotte Cullen?"
Wheels began to turn, dispensing a trademark smart assed answer.
"That depends on why you're asking."
"I'm afraid there's been an accident. I need to ask you to come down to the medical examiner's office as soon as possible."
"That's really rich, Crowley! Fuck you man, that shit isn't funny! Look, I just picked Kate up-"
"I'm afraid I'm not Mr. Crowley, Edward, and this is no prank phone call. Now, are you able to come down to the medical examiner's office or shall I contact your brother, Jasper Cullen?"
Silence hung on the line again, broken eventually by one hard swallow, two deep breaths, and a disbelieving sigh.
"I'm on my way."
Adrenaline dropped the drive time from thirty minutes to a mere ten. White knuckles gripped the Wrangler's steering wheel and deep green eyes never once left the windshield. Silent sobs rocked his passenger, while folded arms kept the cardigan she wore firmly secured around her tiny frame.
"Edward, please, slow down." It was a weak plea - for her safety, for his safety, and for the safety of the other cars on the highway. He shook his head and punched the gas pedal, swerving around a slow-moving Cadillac and taking one of the downtown exits.
Tires screeched, a buckle unfastened, and hard footsteps echoed off the pavement as he ran toward the building. He didn't need to look to know she wasn't following him. She was probably on the phone with her sister already.
Jasper. Edward stopped and turned abruptly, pointing his finger at her as he spoke. "Don't you dare call Tanya! This is something my brother needs to hear from me."
He swung the building door open and was greeted with the smell of sickness and stale air. An elderly gentleman in a white coat stood off to the side, wrapped up in the file in his hands.
"I'm Edward Cullen." Awkward, but sufficient; it wasn't like this was the most formal or happening place in Seattle on a Saturday night. The man closed the file and pushed his glasses up on his nose, sticking one hand out and smiling sadly.
"I'm Doctor Banner. Please, come with me."
Edward almost didn't follow. He had no idea what was at the end of that hall. Part of him was convinced this was all a mistake, or some big, practical joke. He half expected Ashton Kutcher to show up and tell him he was punk'd.
Real life didn't work that way, however. Real life snatched away the lives of loved ones and held them for a ransom that nobody could afford to pay. Real life threw high-speed curve balls and didn't award the batter a walk if one struck. Real life brought people places they'd never ordinarily go – never want to go – like the medical examiner's office at 11:45pm on the last Saturday in July.
Edward looked on as Dr. Banner crossed the room and slipped his fingers beneath the edge of the nearest sheet. Deep, heavy breaths became quick, shallow ones as he watched the older man begin to pull the fabric down. Wisps of bloodstained, chestnut colored hair were the first things he saw, followed by a pale forehead and a familiar set of green eyes. He didn't need to get close to know it was her; he would recognize his mother's features anywhere.
His legs were on autopilot, propelling him forward and closing the gap between him and the metal gurney. Edward's fingertips brushed the edges of the sheet just as Dr. Banner rolled it past her neck and shoulders.
Six hours ago, the body before him had belonged to his mother. Now it had become the property of whatever power ruled the heavens above. Death had replaced life in the emerald colored spheres that stared back at him. Pristine skin was now blemished, swollen with large purple-black bruises and punctured by stray shards of glass. Full lips were left bleeding and broken, twisted into a painful grimace Edward hadn't seen her wear before. The locket Edward gave her when he was ten adorned her neck, its beauty polluted by a backdrop of cuts and scrapes.
And his father … Oh, dad, Edward thought, turning to face the gurney behind him. Dr. Banner went through the same slow routine, pulling the sheet down inch by torturous inch while Edward's life continued to crumble alongside it.
Bruises spotted his father's face as well, though not as severe or abundant as the ones on his mother's. Denim orbs rested beneath battered lids and dried blood caked the left side of his face, the source hidden somewhere behind his shaggy blonde hair. His button-down shirt was torn, and the fingers on his left hand were obviously broken.
Edward opened his mouth to speak, but all that came out was the sickness he felt. He slumped forward, emptying the contents of his stomach onto the mayonnaise colored tiles. Life didn't exist in this room. Life was outside, walking her dog down the street and nodding her head to the beat of whatever song happened to come across her iPod. Life was on Bainbridge Island, nestled comfortably beneath a pile of covers, arm secured firmly around his wife's waist. Life was sitting shotgun in his jeep, waiting to offer him words of condolence and support, things he didn't want to hear right now.
No, life was not in this room, and Edward didn't want to be either. He stood and wiped his chin roughly with a shaky hand, walking backwards until his shoulders were flush with the door.
"It's them." He didn't recognize the whisper that fell from his lips.
"Are you okay, son?" Dr. Banner pulled the sheets up and inched toward him. Edward slid his palm along the door until he found the handle. He looked down at his shoes and shook his head.
"Am I supposed to be fucking okay?"
Dr Banner frowned. "Is there someone I can call for you? You really shouldn't be alone-"
"NO!" Edward snapped his head up, eyes flashing with rage. "You can't fucking call anyone! Don't you get it? They're dead – gone, both of them! How the fuck do you plan on calling them?"
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean-"
Dr. Banner's face was a blur as Edward spun around and flung the door open. Long, fast strides carried him back to the jeep and the fair-haired comfort that awaited. Comfort wasn't his to find tonight, however. Anger had taken residence in his chest, swallowing up every neighboring emotion, yet still hungry for more.
"Edward?" Kate's whisper was quiet, apprehensive. She reached for him just as he punched his fist into the windshield.
Bones shattered, his heart began to bleed, and any threads of consciousness Edward had slowly slipped away.
1,730 miles to the east fear startled Isabella Swan awake. She sprang up in bed, shivering as the chilled air around her made acquaintance with the thin layer of cold sweat that coated her otherwise bare skin.
Fingers reached across the sheets, only to be greeted by a familiar emptiness. He's gone, she thought, throwing back the covers and standing up. Shaky legs carried her to the bathroom, where she squinted against the bright light and turned on the faucet. One, two, three splashes of cold water and she still didn't recognize the reflection that stared back at her. Lights off, robe on, joint in hand, she made her way out onto the iron balcony and sank to her knees.
She knew it would only be a matter of time before the nightmares returned. Renee wouldn't be happy. Thousands of dollars wasted on months of therapy and her spoiled-rotten daughter was still nothing but one big fucked up mess.
Sizzle. Pop. Swoosh.
Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. It was a routine she was quite familiar with, just like every other aspect of her seemingly perfect, planned out existence. Two hits became four, which became eight, and soon ten. Sparks bounced off the twisted railing when she smothered her midnight treat. A flick of her fingers sent the roach flying into the rose bushes below where it would join the small collection of others, products of repeated sleepless nights.
Toes danced along the carpet as she made her way back to bed. A glance at her phone revealed nothing. She contemplated texting him, letting him know what an asshole he was and begging him to come back and stay. Her better judgment got the best of her though, and instead she crawled between the sheets and curled her knees against her chest.
It wasn't his fault she was needy, just like it wasn't her mom's fault she had a drug problem. Isabella made her own choices, knowing full well what the consequences were. Time seemed to move in a big circle these days, at the end of which Isabella always found herself alone.
Hands pulled the covers up around her chin and breath whisked over her lips and across the pillow. Eyes fluttered closed, and Isabella prepared to face her sleep-induced demons once more.