26

"Ugh, this shit tastes like . . . well . . . shit," Edward grumbled, pushing the rolling table away from him and sitting up in his bed. He'd been in the hospital for two days and been poked and prodded. A heart biopsy, stress test, electrocardiogram, chest X-ray, echocardiography and the only thing they knew for sure was that Edward's mitral valve wasn't working correctly and he'd have to have surgery. Another surgery to add to his list.

Edward shifted his attention to Bella, who was sitting on the right side of his bed. She had her knees pulled up to her chest and had been watching him with a wistful expression. She had refused to leave his side. Emmett and Esme had tried to insist that she go home, that she had school today, but when her hands flew through the air and she began signing, they both took a step back like she'd reached out and slapped them. Edward wasn't sure what she had told them, but they simply nodded their heads and told her she could stay. While Edward knew it was unconventional for the hospital to allow her to stay, seeing as she technically wasn't family, Jacob Black insisted that it was okay and Bella hadn't left his side. Of course, Edward was glad. If he was going to have another surgery, then he needed her here. He wouldn't survive another one without her.

"You think if I call, Esme would bring me a pizza?" Edward asked.

Bella smiled and shook her head.

"Didn't think so," he grumbled, sitting up and bending his knees in front of him. "You're too far away."

Grinning bigger and cheeks blushing pink, Bella placed her feet on the ground before standing up and sitting on the bottom of Edward's bed, shifting so that she was facing him. For a moment, they sat in silence, just staring at each other. Edward hated that he had scared her when he passed out, hated that she had to see him so weak. He felt like he was just getting to live and now he was sick again.

Before he could say anything else, the door to his room opened and Carlisle and Alice came inside. Like Bella, they'd been at the hospital with him non-stop. Carlisle had tried to get him transferred to the hospital in Forks, but Jacob hadn't thought he was strong enough to be moved.

Edward looked at Carlisle. "So? What's the word?"

"No word on the biopsy yet," he said with a sigh. "They've called Dr. Davis."

Groaning, Edward turned back to Bella. "Great."

She cocked an eyebrow.

"He's the cardiothoracic surgeon who we were referred to after we left Chicago. I've only met him once, and he's . . . different," he muttered.

Bella pointed to him and then brought her hand up to her chest, sliding her hand between her breasts.

"Yeah, he'll be the one to operate," he whispered.

She shook her head and looked away. Edward could tell she was scared about him having surgery. Hell, so was he. He wanted to tell her it was okay, but he knew there was a chance that he wouldn't survive another surgery. Always a chance that he would die. He wanted to tell her so much, to hold her, to kiss her again. He wanted a life with her.

"You know, when I get this," Edward muttered, gesturing to his chest, "taken care of, I'll need to set up those lessons with Emmett."

Bella turned to him and smiled.

"What lessons?" Carlisle asked, drawing attention to him and Alice, who had been watching Edward and Bella's exchange.

"Sign language. He offered to teach me how to sign," he explained.

Carlisle frowned and looked at Bella. "Why not just have the implant placed and regain the use of your voice?"

Her eyes widened as Edward looked over at her. "What implant?" he asked, and Bella's eyes closed. "Bella?"

She shook her head.

"Bella, what implant is he talking about?"

She sighed and pressed her lips together.

"It's a fairly new procedure," Carlisle stated. "Only a hundred or so have been done, but basically, they'd place a device, almost like a pacemaker, in her throat, connecting the damaged pieces of her vocal cords, and giving her the ability to speak again. At least, in theory."

"Why aren't you doing it?" Edward asked, pulling on Bella's hand. She waved her hand in the air. "Bella."

With another shake of her head, she out her cell phone and started typing. A moment later, Edward's phone pinged and he picked it up, reading her message with a frown. "In order for the implant to be placed, I'd have to undergo one round of radiation therapy, and even then, there isn't a guarantee that the implant will even work because when they removed the tumor, they had to sever my vocal cords entirely, hence why I can't speak. There is only a forty-five percent chance of success."

Edward looked over at her. "So you won't even try?"

She shook her head, and he watched as a tear traveled down her face.

"Then I won't, either," he said, causing everyone to look over at him. "If you won't have the implant surgery, then . . . then I won't let them fix my heart."

Bella's mouth opened, but before she could as much as type one word on her cell phone, Alice was across the room, her hands grabbing the front of Edward's shirt. "You don't get to do that, Edward," she cried. "You don't get to give up on life just for her!"

"Pix, stop," Carlisle said, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her backward.

Alice began to sob. "Selfish. He's being selfish."

"I know, Pix, I know," he whispered, before he looked at Edward. "You're having the surgery."

"Not if she doesn't do the implant," he said, nodding his head toward Bella. When she frowned, he added, "You're scared, Bella. I get that, but so am I. The only reason I can even consider letting them cut me open again is because I know that you'll still be here. I'm willing to take the chance, so why won't you?"

Simply shaking her head, Bella stood up and walked out of his room, letting the door slide closed. Edward dragged a hand through his hair before he laid back on the bed and closed his eyes, knowing that Carlisle and Alice were still pissed with him. But if he was taking a chance, then she could, too. They could have a normal relationship, one where they didn't need translators or cellphones to communicate.

"Edward," Carlisle murmured.

"Don't," he whispered, turning his back to him. "If she doesn't get the implant, I won't have my valve repaired."

"You can't just not do it," he said, and Edward felt him sit on the side of the bed. "You'll die."

"Then I guess you'd better start planning my funeral," he lashed out, looking over his shoulder. A look of horror spread across Carlisle's face while Alice's hands flew up to her mouth and she bolted from the room like he'd just threw acid in her face.

Carlisle turned from Edward and stood up, walking to the door. "Is she worth it, Edward?"

"She is," he whispered. "I love her, Car. She's everything I never thought I'd get to have."

Making a scoffing sound, Carlisle walked out of Edward's room, leaving him alone.

—SW—

Edward wasn't sure how long he'd been alone in his room when the door opened and Bella came back in. The look on her face told him that she was pissed with him, and while he hated that she was angry with him, he knew that she needed a reason to take this chance. He understood about her being scared, so was he, but this was a chance worth taking.

For a long moment, she just stood at the end of his bed, her arms folded in front of him, and a frown spread on her lips. But then, she brought her hand up and pointed to him before gesturing to herself and signed, "Boyfriend."

"Yeah, I'm your boyfriend," he said. "And you're my girlfriend, Bella. But I don't understand why you won't try the implant."

She pressed her lips together and just looked at him.

"So now you won't even text me?" he asked.

She shook her head, tossing her phone on the bed. He picked it up, noticing that her battery was dead. "Oh," he murmured.

Sitting on the edge of his bed, she simply nodded.

"I know it's selfish of me," Edward said, grabbing her hand and bringing it up to his chest. Her eyes lifted to his. "But I want to hear you say my name. And I know that you've accepted losing your voice, just like I've accepted that my heart, no matter whose heart I have in my chest, will never work right. But if I have to let them cut my chest open again, then you can try the implant."

She shook her head, pointed to him before bringing her hand up and spelling out one single word: "D.I.E."

"You're right," he admitted. "I'll die if I don't have the surgery. But I'm still not going to do it if you don't agree to the implant surgery."

Bella grimaced and nodded.

"You'll do it?" he asked.

She sighed and nodded again before pointing to him.

"For me?"

A tear slipped down her face when her head bobbed up and down, and Edward felt guilty for pushing her so hard to take this chance. Pulling on her hand, he laid back on the bed. Bella laid next to him, her head resting on his chest and her hand curving around his hip.

Closing his eyes, he leaned his head against hers. "I love you."

The moment the words were out of his mouth, he regretted it. Bella's body tensed against his for a split second before she leaned up and looked down at him. There was a look in her eyes, one that Edward couldn't make out. Before he could say anything else, the door to his room opened and they looked over to see Carlisle, Alice, Jacob Black, and Dr. Davis step inside.

Dr. Peter Davis was an odd fellow. Edward had met him just after they'd moved to Forks, though his office was in Seattle. He hadn't said much to Edward, just hummed and nodded while reading over the thick medical file Carlisle had given him. He asked Edward how he was feeling, if there was any pain, and there hadn't been. Not really. Just the mild soreness he always felt.

Bella scrambled off the bed, her face burning red as she looked from Edward to everyone else. Alice was glaring at her while Carlisle looked indifferent. Jacob, however, appeared concerned yet he didn't say anything. Instead, it was Peter who spoke.

"Well, we've gotten the results of your biopsy back," he stated without as much of a 'hello,' 'how are you,' or even 'so your life is going to hell again, huh.' Peter looked up from Edward's chart. "You are not rejecting the transplanted heart."

"Okay," Edward said, because he honestly wasn't sure what say. Was he supposed to be happy that his mother's heart was still working, minus the mitral valve, of course?

"I've scheduled your valve surgery for the day after tomorrow," Dr. Davis continued. "The damage to yours is quite extensive, so we're most likely looking to do a complete replacement."

"If he's having the surgery," Alice muttered, glaring at Bella again.

"Pix, stop," Edward growled.

"What do you mean if he's having the surgery?" Dr. Davis asked, looking at Alice and then back at Edward. "Why wouldn't you have the surgery?"

Before Edward could reply, Alice started rambling. "Because she's being a selfish little bitch and he's an idiot by risking his life just so that he can talk to her like a normal goddamn person."

"Alice!" Edward yelled, sitting up and causing her to gasp. He never called her by her name. She'd been 'Pix' since she was born. "Shut up."

"No," she raged. "You're going to die, Edward. And for what? For her?"

Bella brought her hands up in front of her, slapping them together. Everyone looked over at her, but her eyes were locked on Alice. Bella pointed to her throat and nodded, hoping that she'd understand.

"She agreed to the implant," Edward muttered, and Bella looked over at him and nodded.

"Oh," Alice whispered.

"Yeah, oh," Edward grumbled.

Bella reached out and grabbed his hand, playing it over her heart.

He took a deep breath, and looked over at Dr. Davis. "So the day after tomorrow?"

"Um, yeah," he said, still sounding confused. "After discussing your case with your brother and Dr. Black, we've decided to go with a biological valve instead of a mechanical. While mechanical valve's last a lifetime, you'd be required to take blood thinners and with the medication you're already taking, I would feel better about not adding a new pill to your daily regimen."

"Oh, sorry." Everyone looked back at Esme, who was standing in the doorway to Edward's room. She looked from Carlisle to Bella, a frown etched on her face. "I don't mean to interrupt, but, Bella, can I talk to you?"

Bella nodded and released Edward's hand before she walked past everyone and stepped out into the hallway. Edward watched while Esme whispered to her followed by Bella's hands flying through the air. Suddenly, Bella's eyes shifted to Edward and he saw her shoulders raise and drop as she sighed and nodded.

She and Esme walked back into his room and she came to stand next to his bed. Bringing her hands up in front of her, Bella began to sign. "She says," Esme interrupted, "She has an appointment with her oncologist on Wednesday morning, and if all goes well, she should be started radiation the following week." Esme looked over at Edward. "Which means she won't be here for your surgery. The next opening is not for two more months. She told me what you did, and it's really stupid."

"Maybe," he admitted. "But it worked, didn't it?"

Bella frowned while Esme rolled her eyes. "It's a good think she likes you, kid," Esme scoffed, causing Bella to look over at her. She brought her arms up in front of her chest, crossing them at her wrists. Esme's eyes flew open as she looked from Bella to Edward and back. "Really?"

Bella nodded.

"Do you want me to tell him?" she asked.

She shook her head, looking down at Edward before she began to sign.

"Oh, okay, Butterbean," Esme replied.

"What'd she say?" Edward asked.

"I can't tell you," she said. "Sorry."

"You're not sorry," he muttered, watching as she stepped over to Carlisle and brought her hand up to his face. His eyes closed and for the first time since Edward's transplant, he saw his brother and not the man so overwhelmed with grief and heartache that he could barely function.

"Well, I guess I should go," Dr. Davis stated, reminding everyone that he was still standing there. "Edward, I'll be by tomorrow to check on you."

He nodded, but didn't say anything. Jacob followed Dr. Davis out of the room, leaving Bella, Alice, Esme, and Carlisle alone. Bella sat on the side of Edward's bed, and grabbed his hand, bringing it up to her chest. He was in love with her, and she'd agreed to try and regain her voice. Perhaps, they could be happy after all.

Before he could stop himself, he heard himself speaking. "Marry me."

Thank you for all the reviews. Do you think it was right for Edward to withhold his surgery if she refused?