Tales From The Void2 Contest
Word Count: 7158
Pairing: Edward & Bella
Summary: Lost in the far reaches of the universe, paralysed without any means of getting back to Earth, astronaut Edward Cullen's only hope was Dr. Bella Swan's daring rescue mission. Unbeknownst to them, they were not as alone as they thought on the mysterious planet they will have to call home for a while.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
I didn't have time to do much when I heard the deafening noise behind me. A searing pain engulfed me at the same time that I realised the space shuttle that brought me here to Eclipse, a planet belonging to the Andromeda galaxy, had just exploded, leaving me stranded here all alone. I tried to move, but I couldn't feel anything below my neck.
"Cullen, Edward Cullen, are you there?" The static noise coming from my headset made me realise that at least the others were still alive in our mother-ship.
I looked up, and sure enough, I could see the faint outline of the ship.
"Yes. I'm still here. But the shuttle is no more."
"Oh, thank God you are still alive, Edward. We saw the explosion and thought we'd lost you."
"Yeah, I'm still here."
"Are you hurt? We can't detect any movement from you."
"I can't move. I think I'm hurt. I don't feel anything beyond my neck."
"Oh…I see…" What do you see, Newton? I just about screamed, but as second-in-command, I guess he had to make decisions on my behalf now as I was incapacitated and without any means of getting back to our mother-ship.
"We are now conferring on what needs to be done next. Can you give us a few minutes, Cullen? We'll get back to you."
I knew what this meant. They would have to abandon the mission along with me. Our shuttle was destroyed, and only the mother-ship and the secondary laboratory the scientists were supposed to work on was left. For the first time in my life, I thought of what it would be like to die. I knew I was going to die in a matter of hours or even minutes, depending on how hurt I was. I just hoped I would go quickly without having to suffer prolonged misery. I didn't want to live if I was not going to be able to move my body.
"Cullen, we have discussed everything and have come up with two possible options."
I was surprised that there were two to begin with.
Great… guess they are willing to shoot me or something to put me out of my misery sooner rather than later before they leave me...
"The first one is to totally abandon the mission. Unfortunately, that would mean that we will not be able to launch any kind of rescue mission for you."
"I know. I understand. I knew the risks when I took this job."
"Cullen, we are very sorry for the situation you are in now. But we do have a second option. We are not very keen on it, though."
Oh really? What a surprise! I thought shooting me would be more to your liking.
"What is the second option?"
"Bella Swan is insisting on driving the laboratory vessel and landing it on Eclipse. She is willing to try to rescue you and continue with part of the research."
"Who else is coming with her?"
"That is the problem… no one else is willing to take the risk after seeing the way even you failed to land safely in that terrain."
Of course no one in their right mind would attempt anything. Bella Swan, of course, was not sane. I had come to that conclusion earlier on when she kept asking questions non-stop during the whole mission. Unfortunately for us, we had had to endure her ceaseless nagging for the past month. She was a brilliant mathematician and was a practising doctor specialising in neurosurgery. She came on this mission as part of a community programme which encouraged normal people other than astronauts to take part in space missions.
"Well, I don't think she should take the risk then. Does she even know how to drive the vessel?"
"We are all trying to discourage her. I know you would not want to jeopardise the safety of any of our crew members. But the Volturi Corporation is behind this attempt. They don't want to waste the funding they used for this mission if we abandon it. Bella Swan is insisting that she has the necessary knowledge to continue with some of the basic laboratory mission-based activities with your input, including her own. She also says she will be able to treat you, since you are still alive and able to communicate with us. As you know, she brought along her own medical lab, and she can use it to care for you."
"Newton, talk some sense into the Volturi and also to Ms. Swan. It's pointless trying to rescue me. I think I'm seriously injured, although I don't feel the pain right now. I may have ripped my spinal cord." I hated voicing my suspicions out loud, but I really didn't want Swan to take an unnecessary risk, possibly losing her own life, trying to save me and the mission.
"We will confer with the Volturi and get back to you, Cullen."
What seemed to be hours passed before the sound of the radio blasted again. I checked the time, and it was twelve hours after the crash. I must have dozed off. Nothing seemed to have changed. My energy level was still normal—I guess some part of my body was still working, although I couldn't feel anything.
"Cullen, we have good news for you. The Volturi have approved Bella Swan's mission, and she will attempt a landing in a few minutes."
"As the commander of this mission, I am cancelling the rescue mission, so please abort the attempt."
"I'm sorry to inform you, Cullen, that you are no longer in charge of this mission."
"What? Well, Newton, as you are the new commander, you'd better call this off before something more catastrophic happens."
"Cullen, I'm no longer in charge. I'm only in charge of safely driving the mother-ship back to Earth."
"Then who the hell is in charge?"
"Bella Swan. The Volturi just promoted her. She's on her way there now. She just left the mother-ship and detached the laboratory. She'll land there shortly and come for you."
I realised I managed to mutter some colourful words, even in the present state I was in. I didn't like Bella Swan much because of her inquisitiveness, but I really didn't want her to die in vain trying to save me and this stupid mission.
"What does she know about piloting the vessel? I remember her arguing about some minute calculations even before I left."
"Ah… about that–we may have made an error in our calculations."
"What do you mean?"
"Your crash was due to an error in our calculations."
I couldn't help the string of profanities I let loose.
"I thought Alec had it all done properly. And the computer gave the same numbers."
"Well, Bella Swan insisted that the calculations were wrong at the time, but no one really took the time to go through it again."
"Why wasn't I informed of this?"
"We er… thought she was just trying to be a know-it-all civilian. So we didn't really…"
I cursed out loud again. All this could have been avoided had we at least taken a second look. I would have re-checked had I known about it.
"Well, I hope in the future you inform the commanding officer before you decide whether something is important or not. So was she right?"
"Yes. That is why Aro personally appointed her the new mission leader, and we are to do as she says. We are now going to leave for Earth. Good luck with everything, Cullen. I hope to see you back on Earth someday."
Before I could say anything else, the line went dead. To my horror, I realised that I was crying. I knew I was going to die anyway, but I really couldn't face the thought of having Bella Swan's death on my conscience as well. She was a beautiful woman with her whole life before her. Why would she sacrifice everything to take a chance at saving my life and possibly part of the mission? Was the mission that important to her? Or was she just a decent human being, wanting to do everything that she humanly can to save my ass?
I must have drifted off again because the next thing I knew, someone was tapping on my helmet.
"Cullen…oh God, please, please let him be alive…Edward…"
I opened my eyes and stared into the most beautiful pair of chocolate brown eyes that I'd ever seen.
"Swan…" She was an angel. Did she die too? Were we in heaven? We must be if she was there with me.
"Edward…Oh, thank God!" I was sure I was dreaming or dead.
"I'll get you to safety. Just bear with me for a moment till I figure out how this cart thing works."
I looked up and saw the contraption she'd picked to carry me back to the laboratory vessel. It looked to be intact. She really was a genius to have been able to land the thing in the first place…but she wasn't sure how a simple golf-cart type wagon works. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.
I felt myself being dragged then lifted onto the cart and driven to the laboratory vessel. I was feeling a bit sleepy, but other than that, I didn't feel any pain. Guess I should be grateful for small mercies even if I would never feel my legs again. I must have drifted off again because when I awoke, I heard Bella Swan's voice begging me to wake up.
"Edward, please, Edward, wake up…oh my God…please don't leave me now…" The helmet was no longer covering my head as I felt soft lips on mine, breathing air into my airways. I gulped in a lungful and coughed. The soft, moist lips continued to assault mine, and I couldn't help kissing them, biting the supple bottom lip. If I was in heaven, I might as well enjoy it. I really didn't want to wake up if this was what it felt like to stay asleep. Suddenly, the life-giving touch of sweet lips against mine was lost, and I heard a gasp. I reluctantly opened my eyes and stared into molten chocolate, this time brimming with tears.
"You are alive… oh, thank God you are alive, Edward."
"More…please…" This was all I could mutter. I craved the touch of those beautiful sweet lips on mine. I heard tinkling laughter, and her sweet lips pressed into mine again for a brief moment in a chaste kiss.
I pouted when she moved away from me. I tried to get up and go after her, but then I realised that I couldn't move and had no feeling whatsoever below my neck. I groaned in frustration. So all of that happened, and I was still alive. I wished I was dead and this nightmare was over.
"Edward, focus; how many fingers?"
And so it went on.
"Now tell me who I am?"
"Bella Swan, my personal angel."
"Well, if you can flirt, I think that's enough. You are perfectly sane. Now, let me get this suit off you."
"Bella, is…is the rest of me there?" I hadn't been able to lift my head up to check how much of me remained, so I took the courage and decided it was better to know beforehand what I was going to have to face.
"Edward, oh I'm sorry. I should have told you sooner. You look perfectly fine to me. All of you is there, if that's what you are worried about. But I do think you may have injured your spinal cord in some way, making it difficult for you to move."
"Bella, I think it's more than that. I can't feel anything below my neck."
"Edward, let me first take a look at you, okay? I'm a neurosurgeon, remember? I want you to trust me. I will do everything I can to try to have you in full working order again." She broke up in sobs at the end of that sentence, and I realised that she was trying to put on a brave face for my benefit.
"I trust you, Bella. I owe you my life. Thank you for coming back for me, although I still think it was a foolish thing to do to risk your life like that."
"Trust me, Edward, you are worth it. I will also be honest with you about my other reason for volunteering. I did it on behalf of many others like you who have neurological injuries. I had the rare opportunity to work with one of the substances collected from this planet, which has healing properties for neurons. Part of my mission here was to collect more of that and experiment. I think I can help you, if you agree to let me treat you."
Suddenly, I felt very scared. I was completely at her mercy. She could do whatever she wanted to me, and I was helpless to do anything. Was she going to experiment on me like a mad scientist?
"I know that look, Edward. No, I am not going to experiment on you. I've already got tissue samples that I've brought along for the purpose. I can't promise you anything, but if by any chance my initial research is successful, I can try to treat you."
"I'm fine with that, I guess. I don't have anything to lose at this moment."
"Now, can I have a look at you? I have to remove this suit. Your monitors indicate that your body is functioning as it should, except for your ability to control it at will."
"Sure. Go ahead." It was only after she'd stripped me to my thermal underwear that I realised that I was naked underneath and she'd see all of me. For some reason, I felt very embarrassed.
"I can't seem to pull this suit off you. It's too tight so I'm going to cut through it. The heat from the blast must have done something to it."
Oh shit! Don't tell me I've got burned too on top of everything.
"Let me prop you up so that you can help me determine where you still have feeling."
I could have told her that it was a useless exercise, but I let her raise my head so that I can see my body. I heaved a sigh of relief when I saw that all of me was still intact.
"Now, let's see."
I felt the blood rush to my face. Shit! I hoped Bella didn't realise how embarrassed I was. She must have worked with many naked men before since she was a doctor. This was nothing new to her.
She first cut off everything, leaving my upper body bare. I didn't seem to have any burn marks. Oh, thank God.
"Your vitals are good. You'll survive." I saw a bright smile light up Bella's face. "It's a miracle, from the damage I saw the shuttle sustained. How did you even get out in time?"
"I don't remember. I only remember the sound of the explosion. It must have blown me out. I remember a floating sensation. Other than that, everything else is a blank."
It was puzzling how I had managed to actually get out of the vessel through all the airlocks in time before the blast. I was just grateful that I was still alive. But, I guess death would have been a blessing in disguise considering the state I was in now.
"Let's get these off, shall we?"
I watched helplessly as she removed the rest of my thermal underwear. The maximum absorbency garment designed to absorb bodily waste from my body still covered my genitals, so I still had some modicum of modesty left. I couldn't even lift a hand to remove my own clothing. I guess I will remain that way forever; well, till I die. I really didn't believe that Bella Swan could fix my spinal cord in this godforsaken place without any help from anyone.
I felt like half a man. Not able to operate on my own. I was like a new born baby—even worse. Babies could move their limbs and had some control of their bodies.
"Edward, Edward—look at me…" A warm touch on my face made me look into those fathomless brown eyes.
"I'm going to take care of you, do you hear me?"
I nodded. I felt her hand wiping away something wet from my cheek and realised it was tears.
The next hour or so was spent with her touching me everywhere, asking me whether I felt anything. I did have sensation on my upper shoulders and my chest, and I felt light touches on parts on my neck. Bella was very happy about it. I still couldn't feel my arms or legs.
I felt surprisingly embarrassed as she reached my promised land. I will now have to lay here naked, completely at her mercy. I felt very vulnerable. I watched helplessly as she removed the maximum absorbency garment –my last piece of clothing from my body. Thankfully, I was flaccid. I guess I will remain like this till the day I die. I will never be able to experience the joy of lovemaking again. Shit, I haven't even properly fallen in love. I will never be able to be a father—have a family. I couldn't help the sobs that wracked my body. I cried for all that I had lost, trying to come to terms with the nightmare I was in. I felt my face pressed against the softness of Bella's chest as she held me to her.
"Edward…please calm down. I've got you. I'm not going to let anything happen to you. I'll fix you. I promise, even if it's the last thing I ever do."
I don't know how long I cried in her arms, but I slowly regained control of my emotions. I had to face this head on. Bella thought there was a chance of recovery. I would just have to let her do whatever she could. I shouldn't have been an emotional wreck like that. She had enough to deal with, without having to baby me.
"Edward, are you all right now?"
"Yes. I'm sorry. I just… it just hit me… the realisation that I will only ever be half a man from now on."
"What do you mean?" I pointed to my flaccid dick and my body with my eyes.
"Edward, listen to me. You are not half a man. We've got all of you intact."
"It doesn't mean that everything works."
"Your internal organs seem to be doing their job well, even though you don't feel it, so I think there is a good chance of recovery. Now, shall I continue with the examination?"
"Sure." I watched as Bella carefully checked my abdomen. I didn't feel any pain. Well, I didn't feel anything.
When she approached my genitals, I couldn't help the telltale blush from spreading across my face. Bella continued to look professional and her touch was careful, poking and prodding me, asking me whether I could feel her touch. The answer was unfortunately always in the negative. She blushed a bright red when she brushed against my shaft by mistake.
"I'm sorry, Edward. I didn't mean to."
"Why? Aren't you going to check whether it's working?"
Her blush deepened. I loved her blush.
"Do you want me to?"
Oh, she's flirting with me. For the first time since the accident, I smiled.
"Well, I think you should check. You've checked everything else."
A serious look came over her face.
"Edward, I'd rather check when everything is in working order again. And I promise you, I will do everything I can to make it so."
"I know you will," I said sincerely. I knew she really did believe that she could help me. "Well, then, for the time being, do you at least like what you see?" I decided to tease her.
"Edward, you are a very handsome man. And yes, I love what I see. Let's see whether we can try and fix you up."
"I'd be very grateful if you can do that, angel."
She blushed at my endearment—to me, she was an angel sent from heaven to take care of me.
"Edward, I think you are just banged up a bit from the blast. Hopefully, sensation will start to return with some rest and the experimental treatment I'm working on."
"Bella, are you sure? I just don't want to get my hopes up."
"Edward, I'll be honest with you. I think there is a chance you'll find it difficult to move your legs, but you do have feeling on the rest of your body. Shock also makes the body react in strange ways. I can't detect any visible injuries on you other than on your left knee and right ankle. You do seem to have a spinal injury of some kind. Unfortunately, I don't have enough equipment to test your mobility that much, but, once I set everything up, I can scan you and we could try to get a better idea about your condition. But, right now, I'm very reluctant to move you or do anything that could cause any further damage."
"I want to give you some drugs to put you to sleep, but you have a concussion, so unfortunately I have to wake you up every hour or so and check your vitals."
"Do what you have to do, Bella. You know best."
"Thank you, Edward, for entrusting your life to me."
"Now, can I have that kiss?" That heavenly blush I love so much adorned her face once again.
"Bella, I know I'm being forward, and this may not be the right time to say this to you, but I was attracted to you from the moment I saw you in the new recruits programme. I'm ashamed to say that I didn't follow through by taking you out on a date or expressing my interest simply because I thought you were being too inquisitive about things and asking a lot of questions."
"Oh, so you thought I was going to be a pest? Well, guess I can't blame you. I really was very inquisitive, but it's only because I wanted to know everything and what I was getting myself into. You see, Edward, I have a photographic memory, and I'm able to remember any details given to me. I thought it would become helpful in case of an emergency, just like this one."
"Thank God for your memory, Bella. Is that how you managed to land this thing in one piece?"
"Yes. I paid attention during all the compulsory flight training and other stuff. I also read any manuals I came across."
"I'm glad that you kept yourself updated."
"I'm glad too." I felt her running her hand through my hair. Then, she leaned down, kissing me softly on my lips. She made a move to go away, and I panicked.
"Bella…Bella…please don't leave. Stay with me."
"I was just…oh, never mind. Move over." The mattress I was lying on was small, but there was enough room to accommodate another person. Bella pulled a thick comforter from a shelf and covered the two of us with it. She turned toward me, placing her hand over my heart. Her head rested near my shoulder, and I could feel her warm breath against my neck. She had not re-dressed me in anything, and she wore only her thermal suit. Although I couldn't feel her, I felt comforted by her presence and warmth.
"Bella, how long did the Volturi say they were going to take till they launch a rescue mission?"
"Oh, they are not launching a rescue mission. They will be launching their second mission to Eclipse in two years' time."
"Two years? Is that how long we are going to be stuck here?"
"We have the excess food and other supplies intended for the other 22 astronauts, so we should be able to last that long."
"Oh God, Bella, what if something happens to me? You'd be stuck here all by yourself."
"Nothing will happen to you, Edward. Not on my watch." Desperate brown eyes stared at me. For the first time since she came to my rescue, I saw the fear in her eyes. She was scared but was trying to valiantly mask her fears so that she could take care of me. I leaned as much as my head would allow me and planted another kiss on her lips. She eagerly returned it. We kissed each other for what seemed to be like ages when an alarm went off.
"It's time for me to try to gather some more of the substance that I worked on for a neurological cure. It's a type of algae that grows here. It's light outside now, so I should be able to venture out without a problem."
"Bella, are you sure you are going to be all right alone?"
"I have to be, Edward, we don't have a choice." I nodded my head. She was a very brave woman. An ordinary woman who was now extraordinary— rising to the challenges we were facing.
"The IV should keep you fed, Edward. I'll grab something before I leave. I'll clean you up a bit after I return and introduce the new drugs into your system."
"Bella, connect me to the intercom system so that I can communicate with you."
Once she had the communication equipment in place, she left me through the airlock. I felt so scared lying like this. What if something happened to her outside in this unfamiliar territory? We had no idea whether this planet was inhabited. If she didn't come back, I would likely die from starvation after the drip finished. I was that helpless. Too helpless to even kill myself and put myself out of my misery.
"Edward, do you hear me? I'm outside now. It's beautiful out here. We could maybe open the shutters a bit once I get back."
"That's a good idea. Watch your step."
"I'm floating. Hey, it's fun to run like this. I think I can see some algae growth in the distance. I'll try to go there." Then suddenly, I heard a shriek.
"Edward…oh God, I fell, I think, but I'm floating now. Something's holding me up. I can't see what it is."
"Shit. Stay calm. Are you able to walk?"
"I should be if this something holding me puts me down. Eeek!"
"Whatever it was put me down so suddenly it surprised me."
"Can you see what it is?"
"Better get back then, Bella. I don't like you out there alone with unexplainable things happening to you."
"I have to get those plants, Edward. They are just a few meters away. Holy shit!"
"The plants are floating."
"What do you mean?"
"The exact plants I want are floating in thin air, moving toward me. I'm scared, Edward. God, it's like an invisible hand moving them."
"Stay calm. Just wait and see what happens."
"Okay. Hey, whatever it is just pulled the container I brought to store the plants from my hands and put the plants in it. It's fascinating. It's as if whatever I think or say is being done."
"This mysterious force seems to be helping you, Bella. Wow. I can't believe that we are interacting with some extraterrestrial being."
"Thank you for collecting the samples, whoever you are. We are very grateful to you," I heard Bella saying out loud, and I had to smile at that.
"Thank you," I muttered out loud too. Hopefully, they understood our emotions like they knew what type of plant Bella was looking for.
"I'm walking back to the vessel now. I think they are following me. I feel their presence. I don't think they mean any harm. From the way they readily got the plants for me, they want to help us. I hope we don't damage their environment in any way through our research."
"Yes. Let's double check everything we are planning to do and only do what seems to be okay with them. I really don't want to hurt these creatures."
The airlock opened, and a wildly excited Bella launched herself back at me.
"Do you think they will help me with my research to find a cure for spinal injury? Their medicine really worked miracles on the two patients I tested it on."
"You already tested?"
"Yes. On several paralysed pets and two humans."
"Oh, I didn't know that."
"No one knows except for the patients. This research was too valuable to disclose to everybody. In the wrong hands, it could spell disaster."
"So who knows about the research? And what was the success?"
"You know Marcus, don't you?"
"His wife is paralysed from the waist down. She regained some of the sensation in her legs after treatment. I didn't have enough of the algae to treat her since we only had the small sample secured last time. That's why I came back for it."
"You are joking?" I couldn't believe what I was hearing.
"No, I'm not. That's why I said there was hope for you, Edward."
"Oh, thank God! So when are you going to start treatment?"
"Be patient, Edward. I have to be very careful how I administer the algae. Your body might reject it or be allergic to it. I don't want to cause you more damage."
"As if you could." I smiled in derision.
"Edward…" she admonished me.
She then went about cleaning me up. I actually enjoyed it. It was nice to have someone else wash me for a change. It was more like being wiped down, but I was not complaining.
"I'm going to empty your bladder now. It might hurt a bit."
As if I could feel anything. Once again, I was hit by embarrassment when she inserted a catheter in me to help me pass urine. I was so helpless. Shit, it felt awful. Luckily, I was not given any solid food. She then changed my bed linen and finally began preparing the algae she brought with her.
"I've still not figured out the best way to administer the treatment. I'll just have to experiment and see."
Suddenly, a loud noise sounded around the corner.
"What was that?" We both turned toward the noise and saw the algae floating around.
"They are in here. What are we going to do?" Bella asked me in a panicked voice.
"Let's just wait and see. They helped you before, didn't they? Maybe they know the best way to administer it."
We watched as the algae seemed to get crushed into a paste while floating on thin air. Some of it landed on my arm on the side opposite to where Bella was standing. The thick cream spread across my arm, and I felt a sudden tingling sensation.
"Bella, my arm is tingling. Does that mean it's working?"
I saw tears run down her face as she nodded.
"It will take some days for it to take full effect, but it looks like it's working."
A large bowl landed on Bella's palms, and she looked on in wonder when algae continued to get crushed and poured into the bowl. Bella started spreading it all over my body. I was tingling all over now. It was a ticklish feeling.
"Bella, I'm feeling very ticklish now."
"At least you are feeling something. God, I hope this works." Bella meticulously spread the paste over every inch of my body except for my head and face. Then suddenly, the bowl flew away from her and some of the paste landed on my neck and behind my ears. Oh! That must be areas that Bella thought were okay but were still damaged. More landed on crooks between my fingers and even my shaft–guess Bella didn't do a good enough job in that area to their satisfaction.
I couldn't help laughing out loud.
"What? What are you laughing at?"
"I think they think you did a lousy job. They are redoing areas you didn't do properly." Bella's eyes grew huge as she noticed the way the paste was now covering new areas, including the aforementioned sensitive area.
"Oh shit! That's creepy. And they've spread the goo behind your ears too. Guess your brain got hurt, and you are nuts after all."
"Is that so?" The bowl stopped moving and landed back in the shelf where it belonged. Almost all the algae was gone. Guess you need a lot of the stuff to treat someone.
"They finished all the algae I brought with me today. I guess I'll have to go again tomorrow. I wish I could talk to them and ask what I have to do next."
As if her wish was their command, a water bottle landed on the table near her—the cap opened and the bottle got held to her mouth.
"Guess I forgot to drink enough water." She drank some of the water and had her dinner.
"I wish we could do something to say thank you to them."
"I know. Maybe they will be able to show us in some way."
Nothing else happened, so we assumed that was all the activity we were going to see for tonight. We logged into our communication network and contacted Earth but did not mention the strange activity going on. Bella thought that we should not tell the Volturi about the invisible creatures since they were more commercial-minded and might try to hurt them in some way. She trusted Marcus and hoped to tell him everything once we got back with the medicinal algae for his wife and others like her. Bella wanted to find a way to grow it on Earth. She didn't want to start exporting it to Earth and deplete the supply here or damage the ecosystem in this planet.
Days turned into weeks, and it was nearly a month later that I found myself hugging Bella to me in my sleep. I could barely lift my hands, but I had sensation in them, and somehow I had managed to put it around Bella in my sleep. We always slept together. It was comforting to feel another human being next to you.
"Bella, Bella, wake up. I'm hugging you!" Sleepy brown eyes opened and looked at the arm I'd put over her.
"Wow! Did you put it there?"
"I think so. Here, let me try to move it back." To my amazement, I was able to move it an inch, then two inches.
"Bella, it's working. I'm getting motor function back."
I had been able to feel touch during the past few weeks but was still unable to move my limbs. I was ever so grateful just to feel any type of sensation. Every night at the same time, the creatures would appear with some new algae for me and prepare it, then Bella would apply it with their help. They always brought only enough for me. Bella was thinking about venturing out to get some extra to try to grow it. But I discouraged her because I was scared that she'd slip and fall like last time. What if the creatures didn't save her? I was still not in any state to take care of her.
Bella had been taking care of all my needs: feeding me, cleaning me and getting rid of my bodily waste. It was a lot of work, especially since I was now able to digest solids. If it was up to me, I would have taken only liquids to make things easy for her. But I was not able to feed myself and had to let Bella decide what she wanted me to eat. She never once complained. I realised I loved this woman. I promised myself that I would ask her to be mine if I was able to regain all of my bodily functions. I didn't want to saddle her with an invalid who was not able to satisfy her like a man should if I didn't recover. So, I kept quiet about my love for her. I was still unable to have an erection, although I did have more feeling in that region. I could also tell when I wanted to urinate, and Bella would give me a bedpan. That was a marked improvement.
Bella and I formed a special bond as we got to know each other better. I never grew tired of her questions. Rather than annoying me like I had initially thought at the start of the mission, Bella's inquisitiveness made me feel useful. I was glad that I had so much knowledge that I could impart to her. I, in turn, learned a lot about the field of neurosurgery.
We continued with the other scheduled laboratory research. Atmospheric changes, star alignments, and other mission-related activities were monitored through tracking systems. We made sure not to dispose of our waste into this planet's environment. Everything was recycled in our vessel itself. This was according to the green concept introduced by Marcus.
I was able to sit in a chair now, and luckily for me, the computer screens were designed to work with eye movements since it was considered easier for astronauts to operate it while they are engaged in other work. No one knew the severity of my injuries except for Bella and me. She had managed to scan me, and we saw there was a rupture in my spinal cord. I shouldn't have been able to recover the way I was recovering. We ran a scan just a few days ago, and most of the rupture had healed. The healing power of the algae was miraculous.
The creatures faithfully came every night to treat me. We kept asking them whether they wanted us to do anything for them. We had still not received any response. We we're not sure whether they understood us or not. Anyway, we took every precaution we could to preserve their ecosystem without adding or taking anything from it other than the algae they so graciously provided. We had informed the Volturi that we were unable to conduct any of the experiments that might damage the environment, citing a lack of manpower. We didn't want to disclose the real reason, fearing they'd ask us to conduct the experiments regardless of the consequences. Bella had asked to speak to Marcus alone sometime, but his wife had been ill for the past couple of months, and he was not in office.
It was nearly six months after the crash that I woke one day sporting an erection. By now, I was able to move around with the aid of a cane, holding on to furniture. To say I was thrilled was an understatement. I was ecstatic. I never thought I would be able to feel this sensation again. You never appreciate what you have always had until you lose it. I had taken so much in life for granted, but not anymore. I was going to live my life to the fullest with this second chance I'd been given.
I was impatient to even wait a single moment without declaring my love for Bella. I decided that life was too uncertain to postpone anything. I was going to propose to Bella and make love to her for the first time as soon as I could get out of this room and find her.
I never thought this day would come. I had been steadily recovering, but I'd been reluctant to have too many hopes. I was grateful for every little thing that the invisible creatures had done for us. There had been many instances where my legs gave out and I had nearly fallen down. They had always been there to catch me. Bella and I discussed the miraculous escape I had made from the shuttle that crashed and decided that I couldn't have managed to escape by myself. They must have pulled me out at the last minute, but I must have already sustained my injuries during the rocky landing. I once spoke out loud and thanked them for rescuing me. Their response had been to slap me with a piece of algae. I guess it must have been their way of saying, "You are welcome." I slowly made my way toward our small kitchenette.
I found Bella preparing breakfast when I walked in. I wished I had a ring to propose, but I guessed it was the thought that counted. I bent down on one knee in front of a very surprised Bella.
"Bella, thank you so much for taking care of me for all these months. I think you know that I have fallen in love with you. I hope you feel the same way. I love you Bella. Will you marry me?"
"Wow…oh, God. Yes, of course, Edward. I love you so much. I've just been too scared to say it to you because of your situation." She kneeled on the floor next to me, and I pulled her to me, kissing her passionately. She had said yes to me, knowing that I wasn't even able to get an erection. She must have been prepared to live a celibate life with me like a nun. This woman truly amazed me. I couldn't believe how lucky I was to have her.
"Bella, I've got some more good news."
Instead of answering her, I held her hand in mine and pressed it over my erection. Wide chocolate brown eyes stared back at me in wonder. Silent tears ran down Bella's face.
Suddenly, a whole bucket load of algae landed on us. Bella jumped on me in surprise and we both fell down on the floor. There, surrounding us, was a colourful array of algae. Not only the variety that we'd been using to treat me, but others that reminded me of colourful coral.
"Well, I guess we have their blessing." Our laughter filled the room, and the algae danced around the room in the hands of our invisible visitors sharing our joy.
Our future was still uncertain. We didn't know whether we will ever be able to get back to Earth or whether I'd make a full recovery. But, we were not going to waste time thinking about the past or the future. We were going to live one day at a time, in the present moment. The present will be our past, and if we waste it worrying about the past or the future, we will not have lived life to the fullest. I promised myself that I will cherish every single moment I had with Bella without wasting it worrying about things beyond my control.