A/N: Oh boy. I've been sitting on this one for MONTHS. Some of you got a preview if you donated to the fundraiser over at PTB. So... Well. Here we go.
Dedication: To GinnyW with whom this fic was lovingly conceived and crafted. And yeah... that's totally as kinky as it sounds.
Disclaimer: Not so much SM. She is a millionaire and I'm unemployed. Come at me, bro.
Bella would never say it, but Edward suspected she'd been a little down recently. It was little things. She seemed so tired, so drawn. Though she'd never been one of those girls who spent hour upon hour getting ready and made up, her clothes had gotten a little... well... frumpy.
Like tonight, for instance. She was wearing sweats and an oversize sweatshirt that looked like it may have belonged to her dad at some point. And maybe that was telling. She did miss her father something fierce. Maybe there was something going on between them.
He thought of asking, but she seemed so cheered when he showed her the movies he'd brought: Justin Timberlake movies - her guilty pleasure.
He watched her more than he watched the movie, for more reasons than he had an obligatory grudge against the former boy-bander. In Timewas actually a pretty fun movie, but though he could have gotten into it, he kept on watching Bella out of the corner of his eye.
"Bella, are you sick?"
He closed the distance between them on the couch - he hated that bit of distance anyway, as necessary as it had proven to be - and put his hand to her forehead.
Her skin was clammy and overheated.
"I think you have a fever."
She sighed but didn't cringe away from him. "I'm fine," she insisted. "Just... achy."
Reluctantly, he moved back to his designated place at the other side of the couch.
As she insisted she was fine, Edward did his best to ignore the occasional sharp intake of breath from her side of the couch. He did his best to ignore the way her features tightened occasionally. Once, he offered to get her some Tylenol, ibuprofen, whatever. She smiled at him and said she'd already taken something.
By the time they switched In Time for Friends With Benefits- which Edward had repeatedly debated with himself if it was a good idea to bring - Bella's face was shiny with a sheen of sweat.
"Are you sure there isn't anything I can do?"
She gave a soft snort and rolled her eyes. "Drop it, Edward." Her tone was a little tense. "There's nothing wrong with me except that I was born a woman."
Edward stopped asking after that. There was nothing that freaked a teenage boy out more than female complaints. He'd heard the girls at school bitching often enough he knew they could get bad.
Well, Bella wasn't sending him away, and that was something.
A quarter of the way through the second movie, Bella stood. She was panting lightly and leaned heavily against the couch for a minute before she spoke. "I'll be right back." Her voice was thin, very unlike her normal tone.
"Bella, are you sure you're okay?" There was something about the sound of her voice, the pinched expression on her face that was making his heart twist.
She leaned against the wall but spared a look at him over her shoulder, a small smile. "I'm fine," she said quietly. "I'll be right back, and we can finish the movie."
Edward watched her go, an odd trepidation building in the pit of his stomach. He wracked his brain, trying to think of some reason to follow her, but the very thought was wildly inappropriate.
As usual, the line he wasn't supposed to cross was blurred with her. He should be used to it by now.
It didn't get easier not to... hover.
Edward had just convinced himself to calm the hell down when a god-awful shriek had him scrambling off the couch and up the stairs. He didn't know what to expect, what it could be. In the two seconds it took to run he thought of everything from a burglar to the mirror shattering of its own volition, showering her in dangerous shards.
"Bella?" he yelled, knocking frantically on the bathroom door. The only answer he got was moan so filled with pain his own anguish doubled. "Bella, I'm coming in."
He opened the door, immediately dropping to his knees beside her. Bella was crouched down on the floor. She was pressed into the corner where the tub met the wall, her legs curled up to her chest, her hands wrapped around her knees, fingers in fists and her face a mask of complete agony. She was hunched forward in pain.
"Bella? Sweetheart. What's going on? What's wrong?" He put his hand to her back, feeling how absolutely taut her body was as she gasped for air. "Bella?"
She shook her head frantically, opening her mouth as if she were about to speak but she only screamed again. Her knuckles gripped the edge of the tub so hard they were white.
"I'm going to call 9-1-1," he said, trying to push himself to his feet.
She grabbed his wrist with surprising strength, pulling him back down. "Don't leave me. Please, Edward. Don't leave me."
"Bella, I need to help you."
"I don't know what's happening. Please just-" Her mouth was opened, stuck in a silent scream. The veins in her neck stood out. Her face - all the skin he could see - was flushed red. "Oh... I just. I need to... I'm sorry, I need..."
She shook her head frantically and pushed herself forward to her knees.
That was when Edward saw her sweats were dark and hung on her heavy - as if she'd peed herself, but that wasn't what it smelled like. The smell that permeated the air was almost sweet, but left a metallic taste in the back of his throat.
"What are you doing?" Edward asked. To his own ears, his voice was frenzied, but he didn't know what to do.
"I don't know." Her tone was a whine. "I just... I need..." She leaned heavily on the tub.
Edward didn't understand what was happening at all. The only thing he wanted in the world was to stop her pain, to make it better. He wasn't thinking rationally, so when she started to tug at her sweatpants, obviously trying to pull them down, he helped her.
What he expected to see, Edward didn't know. Coherent thoughts weren't very high on his agenda at the moment. What he saw, though, would haunt him for the rest of his life.
Her plain white panties were translucent in places and heavy with blood and some other fluid. The fluid trickled down, staining her thighs, running in bloody rivulets all the way down her legs.
He didn't have any experience when it came to women's issues, but he knew this wasn't normal. None of this was normal.
Acting entirely on instinct and the terror her screams brought out in him, he pulled her sodden panties down her legs. Then he looked. Really, he couldn't not. He had to know, had to figure out where all this blood and... whatever else was coming from. It'd been a long time since he'd seen a girl without her clothes on, but this was definitely not the same girl.
All he could do was stare as Bella crawled to the toilet and tried to pull herself up, then his brain finally kicked into gear and he pulled her back down to the floor.
"No," she protested in a moan. "I have to... I have to get it out."
On some level, some base part of his mind, he understood what was going on. Looking at her as he was now, he could see her body was changed - thicker than he remembered. It wasn't a gelatinous thickness though like normal fat. No, the space - particularly low on her belly - was bulbous and hard.
"Let me help you, Bella," he begged when she tried to pull herself back up on the toilet. The protesting noises she made were entirely nonsensical. Maybe she would have argued, but at that moment she curled herself around her stomach and cried out in agony.
There was more screaming from Bella... and more than a little from him, to be entirely honest, though what either of them said Edward would never be able to remember.
All he knew was within minutes, a slimy little bulge protruding from between Bella's legs emerged, revealing itself bit by bit to be a very tiny, very slimy, brand new human being.
He held the gory, writhing, wailing little thing in his arms, his eyes wide and horrified. Bella, panting from exertion and crying, lay back on her elbows, staring at it with the same expression.
They looked at each other, both of them at a complete loss for what to do.
So many thanks to barburella, jfka06, Shug, and of course, GinnyW.
Updates on this will be slow until Lost Half is done - which is not that far out, so be forewarned.
SO! Um. Thoughts? Guesses?