October 17, 1918 – Chicago
I held Edwards hand as his body was wracked with tremors. His breathing labored, but slowing when I held a cool cloth to his blazing hot forehead. When his breathing slowed it took on a rattling noise that made me cringe. Still, unwavering, I stood vigil by his side the most days and nights. I only left to eat, use the restroom or just walking around.
Walking around was always a terrible idea. My mind would drift back to the first days after I'd met Edward. And everyday since. We grew fond of each other rather quickly after that day at the park. A day I will never forget. A day I will cherish forever more.
When everything was crumbling around me, I knew for certain I would always have those memories to smile back on. I smiled now just thinking of that fateful day. And a lone tear flowed down my cheek. My daydream chipped away as Dr. Carlisle Cullen listened to Edwards chest. His eyes closed, Dr. Cullen looked soft and warm, yet tired and defeated.
"How does he sound?" I asked. I tried to hide my anxiety, but it bubbled up and out of my throat. I looked down at Edwards damp, reddened face as I brushed my palm up and down his forearm.
"Same. His lungs are filling with fluid at a steady rate." He sat down on the edge of the bed and placed his fingers against Edwards neck. Dr. Cullen examined Edwards face. Looking at him with a look of sadness.
"His mother just expired." His words came out dull and silently. "I thought I should inform you." A nearly blank stare escaping his eyes. He looked up at me then, extending his hand to rub my arm. He was cold as ice.
"No..." I mouthed, no sound coming out. My hands trembled as I shook my head sadly. I looked from Dr. Cullen back to Edwards face. His eyebrows creased as his body stiffened and he groaned loudly. Dr. Cullen removed his hand from my arm and placed it on Edwards weak but rapidly moving chest.
"Shh, relax my son. Relax." His voice was soothing, at least to me. I was unsure if Edward could even hear him.
"Is there anything at all we can do?" My voice raspy as my eyes bared down on Edwards face.
"There's not much we can do. We've been doing everything we can. Nearly 200 have expired in the city alone today." I closed my eyes as I heard this sad news. Another tear trailed down my cheek. I opened my eyes quickly to look up at the clock. It read 9:01 pm. I returned my eyes back to Edwards face. His eyes open slightly, gazing up at me.
I caressed the back of my fingers along Edwards temple. The moisture from his forehead seeped into the creases between my clasped fingers. I turned my hand around and pressed the pads of my fingers softly to his fiery skin. I tenderly brushed his damp hair off of his forehead.
"His mother begged me to save Edward. It breaks my heart. I don't know what to do." Dr. Cullen had become very attached to Edward and his mother, Elizabeth. They were always the first patients he checked on when he came in for his rounds for the day.
"So there is nothing that can be done? Edward will meet the same fate as his mother and all of the other poor souls?" I looked at him. Begging, pleading clear in my eyes.
His face went blank at once. As if I had told him something he hadn't expected. He surely didn't believe Edward would survive this... this epidemic. Whoever had come down with this influenza, suffered the very same fate. Death.
Within a matter of mere seconds, his face flashed many different expressions of stress, grief, anger, and finally resolve. But the last look that crossed his face, made my breathing halt. It was a look of relief.
"Dr. Cullen?" I probed. He was frozen. It didn't even look like he was breathing. I probed again.
"Dr. Cullen, what is it?" I reached out and tried to shake his shoulder. But he was stiff and cold as ice. I instinctively removed my hand at once.
"I.. I thought of something that would certainly help. It would cure Edward. But I don't feel right about it." His lips pursed together and he shot a quick glance at my face.
"What is it? Do it! Please I beg of you. I can't lose him. I can't lose Edward..." The last word came out a whisper as the tears blurred my vision and flooded down my face. My tears fell onto Edwards arm and evaporating too quickly on his hot skin.
"I shouldn't do it. It's not moral. It's not right."
My hands left Edwards for the first time in hours as I reached out and gripped Dr. Cullen's shoulder and wrist. I waited until his golden eyes met mine. A look of anguish and hope gazed back at me.
"Please." My voice squeaked. "Please!" It was getting harsher. My voice took on a guttural, begging sound that I didn't even recognize as my own voice on my second plea to the doctor. I watched him debating the idea in his head. He shook his head back and forth softly. Looking down at Edward, he grimaced with heartbreak.
"Could you let him just die if he were your own son? If you knew you had a cure? Could you let him die?" I pressed. That did it.
"You need to come with me." He stood up in an instant, looking down at me. I looked at Edward and back at the doctor.
"He will be okay while we are away?" He nodded at my question. I leaned over and kissed Edward on his cheek. My lips burned from the contact with his skin.
"I'll be back soon, my Green Eyes." I spoke against his skin. He moaned and he flicker his eyes up at me. I smiled softly down at his flushed face. Brushing my fingers through his damp hair, I brought my hand back down to his flaming hot cheek and rested it there. I nodded slightly. His eyes softly closed as I stood to leave the room. I kept my eyes on him, afraid to look away, when Dr. Cullen wrapped his arm around my shoulder softly and guided me from Edwards side. My eyes stayed on him until a white sheet blocked him from my vision. My mouth turned downward as I scowled at the sheet. I mentally scolded the sheet for blinding me from my Angel.
"I have.." His voice trailed as he spoke to me, uncertain if he should be telling me this. I turned to look at him as he continued. "An ability."
"What kind of ability?" I locked eyes with Dr. Cullen.
"The kind of ability that would allow me to save Edward. Cure him completely." He gauged my reaction.
"Alright.." My voice trailed off. "What kind of ability is this that you speak of?"
"It has been called a curse, but also a miracle. It depends on who you're talking to. " I didn't know what to make of this information. So I pressed for more.
"How long would this, whatever it is that you do, take to make him well again?"
"It takes a few days. It has to go through his entire system. He will feel worse before he feels better."
I was confused. Why would it make him feel worse. But at the same moment I had this questioning thought, I also thought it doesn't matter. As long at it heals him. But still, I asked.
"Why does it make him worse?" I needed to know. His face was taken aback. He either didn't want to answer me or didn't know how.
"Well, the ability," he spoke the word 'ability' with great intensity, "kills off everything in his body. Any bacteria, any illness. Gone." That last word sent a chill through my body.
"But it will cure him." It was a statement. Not a question.
"Without a doubt." He was certain by this. There was not an ounce of hesitation in his response to me.
"Then do it. Whatever it is, do it." With the words out of my head, everything started flashing past me.
Moving too fast and with such an urgency. Whatever Dr. Cullen was going to do, he wanted to do it quickly. I watched with awe as he flashed past me in a blur, the makeshift door made of bed sheets flowing behind him after pushing past it. I wrapped my arms around myself as if to hold myself together. I looked at my surroundings.
To my left, there was a small table with a few pieces of paper splayed all over the table. Short notes scribbled recklessly on a few of them. The metal stool Dr. Cullen had just sat in sat next to it. To the right, there stood shoulder height shelves. Few books sat on those shelves. It was mostly piles of medical forms stacked upon more forms.
Then there was an empty bed. White sheets, white pillow. I shivered as I remembered my father's death. It hadn't been long ago. Just a few weeks. I closed my eyes and let my head fall slightly at the memory of his lifeless body pulled out of a similar white bed and placed on a makeshift gurney. I remember looking back at the white bed and seeing a wet imprint of my father's body from his sweat. The pillow still had a round shape from where his head had laid.
"Can I trust you?" A whispered voice pulled me from my memory and back to the present. I felt Dr. Cullen grip my shoulders, shaking me softly to make me listen. He was blurry. I quickly blinked my eyes in rapid succession, allowing the tears to escape and me to see. I nodded my head quickly seeing the urgency in his face.
"Yes. You can trust me." I spoke just as quietly as he just had.
"Very good." He pressed his lips together and inhaled deeply through his nose and continued. "We can't do this here. I will need to take him to my home." He explained further.
"But why can't you..." My words evaporated as I watched Dr. Cullen's face become stone as he shook his head. He mouthed 'no' at me.
"We can't risk someone seeing or hearing what I am about to do. It has to be done in complete privacy and away from a populated area." His words shook me to my core. I could clearly understand him not wanting people to see him give his cure to a single patient, because then everyone would be after him to get whatever it was that he had to heal the sick. But hearing it? What did he mean by that?
"Hearing?" I voiced my concern as I met his eyes looking down at me. His eyes closed slowly, he nodded, then opened to look at me again.
"As I said, he will get worse before he begins to get better." His voice clinical now.
"Right, I remember." I looked towards the white curtain.
"Whatever needs to be done." The words rushed out. "Though I refuse to leave his side. I am sure you already knew that." I looked up at Dr. Cullen. He nodded one sharp nod and released my shoulders. I watched as he turned and held the sheet curtain to the side and gestured towards the opening.
I stumbled over my feet as I moved quickly to get to Edwards side. I reached down and took his hand before I sat down. Once sitting, I placed my face next to his ear. My lips softly grazing his ear, I heard a soft sigh.
"Edward," I whispered into his ear. "Dr. Cullen has a cure for you. He's going to make you well again." I saw his eyes open just enough to see a fleck of green. I grinned down at him. He groaned and inhaled sharply. I reached his other hand and took it, squeezing his fingers in encouragement.
"Hang on, darling. Very soon you will feel well again, I promise. Just hang on." My voice was heavy with emotion. His hand gave a weak squeeze. I stared at him. My eyes never leaving his face. Even now in as much pain as he was in, with the red flushed skin, and his hair saturated with his sweat, he was beautiful. I brushed my fingers over his forehead. Rubbing softly trying to comfort him.
"You'll be well soon. So soon. I promise." I watched as his eyes overflowed with moisture, and tears fell down the sides of his face and pooled in his ears. I forced myself to reach for the damp towel in the bowel on the table next to me. Not wanting to lose any contact with Edward.
I squeezed the rag, releasing all unnecessary water from it. I brought it back and lightly dabbed his eyes and then inside his ears to dry the tears. He blinked his eyes shut tightly. I felt Dr. Cullen's hand on my shoulder then.
"We should go now. The alley is clear and I will be able to get him out rather smoothly without anyone seeing." I turned my head to the side, nodding twice to let him know my approval. He squeezed my shoulder as I moved my eyes back to Edward. I watched as Dr. Cullen came around to the other side of Edwards bed.
"Pull the sheet out from under the mattress and place it over him." Dr. Cullen directed me. I let go on Edwards hand and the rag, reaching under and grasping the sheet at both ends of the bed. I lay it over him softly, gazing at his face. I could see him watching me. I placed my hand over his, which rested on his stomach. Dr. Cullen placed Edwards other hand next to his left which I covered.
"Alright." I heard Dr. Cullen's voice as I saw the motion in Edward's body as the doctor placed his arms under Edwards shoulder's and just beneath his knees.
As he lifted Edwards body off the bed, Edward inhaled sharply. His right hand reached and grasped my wrist. I squeezed his left hand and placed my other hand over his forehead again. I leaned in and breathed the words into his ear.
"It's okay. It's okay. We have to leave here and go somewhere else to make you well again, my love. I am not leaving. I'm right here." I pressed my lips his temple. "I love you. I am not leaving." With those words, I nodded at Dr. Cullen who began walking swiftly through the tiny aisle, lined with beds. Some occupied, some empty. I tried to keep pace with him, as the aisle was so narrowed, I had to walk behind him. Reaching around to keep hold of Edwards hand.
We made it through the aisle and I finally walked by his side, my hand never left Edward's. His hand still gripping my wrist with a fierce strength I didn't know was left in him. We walked through two more aisles before coming to a door to the outside. I reached to open the door for Dr. Cullen and we were greeted by a shocking gust of cold winter air. Edward gasped and a violent shudder raced through his body.
"Climb onto my back." I heard Dr. Cullen voice speak louder once outside.
"What?" I was trying to grasp the cool air along with his words.
"Climb onto my back. We can get to my home faster." He nodded his head towards his back as he held Edward's body.
"Okay..." I never lost contact with Edward's hand as I took two steps to stand behind Dr. Cullen. I knelt down and pounced onto his back, wrapping my legs around his waist. My feet connecting just below Edwards back.
"Now wrap your free arm around my neck and hold on." As the words left his mouth, I wrapped my arm around, grasped his shoulder and the wind began to gust in my face.
"Oh!" I exclaimed. I hadn't felt a jolt or anything. My body took over and clung to his body with every piece of strength I had. How was he moving so fast? Why was I not feeling anything but the wind in my face? Why wasn't he gasping for air? I closed my eyes after a moment because the cold air was making them water and burn. I shoved my face into Dr. Cullen's ice cold neck, and nuzzled.
"I only live a short distance from here. It won't take but I minute or two more." His voice was calm, soothing and comforting. I nodded into his neck. Not wanting to look up because of the wind. His body felt like we were just strolling very slowly down the street. Not racing through the city. The speed was shocking.
"Alright, you can climb down now. We're here." I felt him turn his neck as if he was looking back at me. I lifted my face from his neck and peeked through my lashes. We were inside a small family room. A fire was already going in the fireplace. I very slowly, hesitantly released my death grip, and the vice grip my legs had made, off of Dr. Cullen. I felt him tremble with a soft chuckle. As soon as my feet hit the ground, he began walking towards the door on the other side of the room. I walked in with him, still holding Edwards hand.
"Edward, I am going to set you down now. You are safe." Dr. Cullen spoke softly to Edward. He lowered his body down to the bed and lay him down. His arms pulling back and releasing Edwards now limp body onto the bed.
"Alright, Edward. I need you to listen to me carefully. You too." He looked from Edward to me. I nodded enthusiastically.
"Yes, you have my full attention." I looked back at him from across the bed. He looked away from me now and looked back at Edward. He lay there, his eyes open a little bit more, looking up at his doctor.
"I am going to heal you. You will be in pain for a short while, but it will go away. I promise you this. I will be here with you. I will not leave you during this time. You will feel as if you are burning. It will be severe, but you will get through this." I gawked at him.
Feel like he's burning? What is he planning on doing to him?
"You are certain this will work? Absolutely certain?" I pleaded. My eyes wide with fear.
"Yes. I am absolutely certain." His face stern and serious. I gulped and nodded.
"I will be here, too. I will never leave, Edward. I love you." His eyes wandered to mine, blinking once before gazing at me.
"Trust me." Dr. Cullen spoke to both of us, though he was only looking at Edward.
I watched as he sat down and leaned in to Edward's face, then lowered to his cheek and neck. Instinct took over and I leaned in just a fraction. I watched as Dr. Cullen whispered something inaudible into Edwards ear, then lowered his face just enough to kiss his neck. Tears filled my eyes. I watched as Dr. Cullen took a deep breath, and then a quick movement jolted me. His jaw had seemingly unhinged, his eyes closed softly. I watched as he bit down on Edward's neck. He kept his mouth there a moment, raising a hand to hold Edward's chin still.
I was frozen in shock. It was slow motion. Or was it sped up? I couldn't wrap my head around it. I gasped and slapped my hands over my mouth, silently shaking my head back and forth.
Dr. Cullen pulled away moments later. I sat there squeezing Edwards hand too tight I was sure. Stunned into silence and rage.
"What did you.. why did you just... bite... him?" My words barely made it through my lips.
His face showed grief and sorrow.
It was then that Edwards hand twitched and I heard a painful growl escape his mouth. My shocked face frozen in terror, looked down at Edward at once. I saw his face immediately.
His eyes were wild and frantic, his mouth open, lips curled back to bare his teeth. His hands were fists at his sides and his back bowing off the bed.
He screamed out in agony.