Author's Notes:

Disclaimer: All the Twilight stuff belongs to Stephenie Meyer. No copyright infringement is intended. I'm just borrowing her cup of sugar.

Happy weekend everyone! A lot of people asked why they were planning on walking instead of using bicycles. Bicycles are made of metal. I had seen all wood wagons, though. Keep calm and suspend that disbelief!

:)

I was definitely going to get us killed.


Chapter 18

Drips of water collected, merged, and then traveled down the glass of the window as I stared into the dark, wet night. The rain hadn't stopped for almost three days, and my backyard was flooded. Half the things in the wagon, though I thought I had secured enough plastic and tied it down well enough to make it watertight, were ruined.

My chest felt like someone had repeatedly punched it, and that creepy-crawly feeling that something must be seriously wrong was cavorting around on my skin. I felt nauseated, and my mind was running at a thousand miles an hour.

What if we had already been on the road when a storm like this had passed? What if we were in a valley, sleeping in a tent, and there was a flood? What if we ended up on a stretch of road with no shelter, and a hailstorm started up? What would we do if one of us fell and got hurt?

I had no idea what I was doing. The coast sounded good, because it would be warm and I liked the beach, but now I had visions of yearly hurricanes in my head, and there was no way I would know what to do if that happened. There would be no weather forecast on television to give any advanced warning.

All of the sudden gathering wood for the winter didn't seem that bad.

I walked back towards the bedroom and looked at the girl curled up in my bed. She was such a sound sleeper that the rain and thunder didn't seem to bother her at all. I had spent the last couple of nights watching her sleep as the rain fell on the roof, and I had developed a definite sense of…protectiveness about her. There was also the growing knowledge of my inadequacies in the face of survival situations, and mounting terror that my lack of know-how was going to get us both killed.

Back in the living room, I sat on the couch and watched my fingers tremble against my thighs.

There was no one around to help.

No one.

Where were they? Where did they go? Were they all dead, and if they were, where were the bodies? Where were the other cars? The radio antenna, the bronze and gold from my office building? Everything that seemed to be made of steel, except for the few cars parked around town, was gone. Why was that?

No clue.

I wasn't cut out for this shit.

I certainly had a level of organization about me, and I was extremely book-smart, but only about those areas of study I had found interesting in the past. I didn't know much of anything about engineering or similar sciences, never went the Boy Scout route, and couldn't even keep houseplants alive. If we were in Egypt, I could probably manage to farm the Nile floodplains, but only with the help of Osiris.

I wasn't great with the whole outdoors thing.

Yes, I had a cabin in the mountains – a cabin with central air and a satellite dish. My idea of "roughing it" had always been a hotel without a Jacuzzi. I didn't even own an axe for chopping wood, and I wasn't totally sure I knew how to use one without cutting off a leg or something.

All the "wood" I had for my fireplace was those little pressed logs that were more for ambiance than heat. I preferred them because I could hardly manage to get a real wood fire going, and when I did I always ended up with singed fingertips.

That brought me to the other panic point – what if one of us was seriously hurt? There was the university clinic just a couple of blocks down, but it wasn't like I knew how to do anything other than apply pressure to a bleeding wound.

That was the right thing to do, right? Apply direct pressure? What about for snake bites?

Fuck me.

I was definitely going to get us killed.

"Edward?"

I startled and looked up to see Bella in the hallway.

"Are you all right?" I asked her. I tried to hide my panicked state, but I wasn't sure how successful I was.

"I'm fine," she said. "Why are you awake so early?"I glanced at the clock on the wall, which showed a few minutes before five in the morning.

"Just…thinking."

Bella took a few steps closer to me.

"You look different," she said.

"Different?"

She moved in front of me and looked down. Her head tilted to one side as she gazed at me.

"Your expression," she said, "is different than I have seen before. What are you thinking about?"

"My expression is different?" I looked up at her through narrowed eyes. I supposed she meant because I was either lost in thought or nearing a panic attack, but who says something like that?

I shook my head, stood up, and walked back to the window. There wasn't anything out there that hadn't been out there before, but I stared at it anyway. A few moments later, Bella came and stood beside me.

"I'm just rethinking our plan," I finally said. "The weather has made me wonder how wise it may be."

"I thought you wished to go to the south to avoid inclement weather during the winter months?"

I glanced at her sideways. Something about her was really setting me on edge, and I wasn't sure what or why. She had to be half asleep or something, because what she was saying was just…odd. To be totally honest, I was also finding it more and more difficult to rebuke her advances.

Maybe my own sleep deprivation was getting to me.

"But storms like this occur all over the place," I said. "And near the coasts, there could be hurricanes. Heat waves can be as dangerous as a cold front. Travel can be dangerous, too. I just…I don't know what to do."

"I'm sure you will make the right decision," she said.

I turned to her and opened my mouth to give voice to some of my fears, but thought better of it. The last thing I needed to do was scare her as much as I had scared myself.

"Do you think staying here would be safer?" she asked.

"Maybe," I replied. "You've studied a lot of subjects, most of them a lot more recently than I have – do you think we'd be better off here?"

She took a half step back as her honey eyes widened.

"I…I don't know," she said. "That is not the sort of subject I have studied. People live in most every climate on the Earth, even in the arctic. The species is very adaptable. I will trust in your decision."

I chuckled humorlessly.

"What if I don't know what to do?" I asked.

Her hand reached up and touched my face, which she had been doing more and more lately. It had been two days since I shaved, which wasn't quite as long as she claimed to like it, but that didn't stop her from touching me as often as possible, and I couldn't bring myself to stop her most of the time.

Masculine.

My tongue darted over my lips, and I took a step backwards to break the connection. There was too much in my head at the moment, and she was far, far too distracting.

"Do you think we should stay here?" she inquired again.

"Maybe," I said. "We would have plenty of time to stockpile food and whatever for the winter. It's not like there's much competition for resources out there."

Bella nodded.

"There are some plants with a short growing season," she said. "We may be able to plant a few things in your yard."

"I guess we could use the neighbor's yard, too, couldn't we?"

We sat back on the couch and ignored the rain as we discussed all the things we would need to do if we were going to stay in my house. As we worked through it, my body and mind began to relax. Perhaps we could make all of this work right here, even if it was just the two of us. If there were others out there, they were just as likely to run into us here as we were to run into them on the road. We could even put signs up or something to direct others to where we were.

I knew this place. It was familiar. Safe.

Well, this at least felt like a better plan.


Chapter End Notes:

This is the part where I would say something witty if I happened to have thought of something witty to say, which I haven't.