I was hospitalized recently and this idea popped into my mind, so I wrote it. It could be a one-shot, but if ppl like it, I left plenty of room to expand. :) I'm also writing a HP fic though, so no promises.
Warnings for bad language, semi-graphic images, and overall subject matter suitable for adults (not talking about sex here, ppl)
I make no money by writing this, and Twilight with all it's characters belongs to none other than Stephenie Meyer. I am also no doctor, so facts may be incorrect.
Edit: I amended a few details - 16.03.2014.
It hurt so freaking bad that by the last few weeks, I often wished to die. Now, don't get me wrong; I am a fighter through and through, but when all your world is reduced to is never ending, burning fucking agony, even the strongest of us would waver from time to time.
The only thing that brought me some sense of relief were the blissful thoughts of my hatred, my revenge - futile as they were. Not much a dead girl can do after all, but just the idea was delicious enough to get me through my darkest moments. Not exactly a glorious end I suppose; dying on a hospital bed as an invalid after months of pure torture, your last thought being your sheer hatred, but it's all that I got. Go figure. Then again, all this gave me a crucial advantage.
I would remember. I would remember every agonizing, gut-churning moment.
It all started with a little headache. Nothing too severe. But then came another, a week or so later. After that point, it became constant. Every day, it became worse and worse. Still, I did not think much of it. The last thing I wanted was to worry Edward and my surrogate family, so I did my best not to be obvious about the discomfort. I only just got my life back on track after the Volturi fiasco and I wasn't about to ruin the hard-earned tranquility of our reunion by heaping silly human problems on them.
A while later though, the pain became hard to ignore. It wasn't just my head any longer either. My neck and my shoulders were stiff with a deep-rooted ache crawling gradually down my spine, my movements becoming sluggish with weariness and even clumsier than before. Jasper was the first to corner me about it.
"Hm?" I asked, distracted by the combined effort of reading my tattered copy of Wuthering Heights and massaging my neck with my free hand at the same time. Most of the Cullens were out hunting, except for Carlisle, who was on his shift at the hospital, and Jasper, who got saddled with the Bella-watch for the night.
"Can we talk? I've been meaning to ask you about something, and I thought it would be better to do it while the others were away."
I raised my head to look him in the eye, my eyebrow cocked. He seemed uncomfortable with the situation if that half-pain, half-concern expression on his inhuman, yet beautiful, face was any indication.
"Sure," I told him with a small smile, attempting to put him at ease, even though I was quite confused. We had never gotten the chance to get particularly close. The most we had ever interacted was when he had apologized for his actions that had led to the family leaving Forks.
I closed my book on my lap, scooting to one side of the couch instead of hogging the whole thing. I patted the space beside me for him to sit. After a moment of hesitation, he slid upon the cushion with grace only the undead would ever possess. I always had the feeling that he didn't trust himself around me, no matter how many times I assured him that I understood what had occurred, and that it was in no way his fault. The bloodlust of six separate vampires cannot be easy to deal with on top of your own. I was more surprised it had taken so long for him to snap.
"So..." I said. When my eloquent prompt went without visible notice, I added, "What did you want to talk about?"
He watched me in silence for a few drawn-out seconds and his expression smoothed out, not giving any indication as to what he was thinking. "I can feel it."
I was sure the question mark was visible above my head at this point. Still, I felt the need to showcase my extensive and sophisticated vocabulary. "Huh?"
"You are in pain."
"Oh." That's a temporary thought-to-speech filter malfunction for you.
"I understand you don't want to tell Edward." I breathed a sigh of relief at that. Good, it looked like he wasn't about to get on my case for that, at least. "But Bella, it has been more than a month now. It's not normal for humans to be in constant pain. And from what I can tell, it's getting worse."
I nodded with reluctance. "It's my head. Probably a bad migraine or something." Yeah, or 'something'. Apparently Jasper was a little skeptical on that point, too. His lips turned down the slightest fraction, and his eyebrows furrowed just enough for me to catch the involuntary movement.
"I think it's time to get it checked. If you don't want Carlisle to know, just go to another doctor. If you want, I can even take you to Port Angeles Hospital. No one knows us there."
I took a deep breath to calm my nerves. "Without anyone knowing?" I asked. "Is that even possible in this family?"
Jasper chuckled. "Not easy, but not impossible either. Just don't make a decision on it and leave the planning to me. There's still a chance Alice will find out, but she won't say anything about it if you don't want her to. Although I'be become pretty good at evading her visions by now." He smirked at me, but I could hear the underlying affection for her in his voice.
I smiled back. "We'll just have to see then, right?"
This earned me a genuine grin. "Smart girl."
A week later Jasper knocked on my door. Charlie was away for some manly bonding with Billy. (Read: He sneaked a number of wine bottles out of the house, cheerily telling me he was invited for dinner, and would probably be spending the night there. Riiiight. Probably.) We were on our way to Port Angeles within minutes.
The doc in the hospital - a balding, beady eyed little man by the name of Dr. Pancher - appeared to be incredibly bored with life in general. In a monotone voice, he asked what ailed me, and listened to my recount with little to no change in his demeanor whatsoever. He sent me for a vast variety of tests, including a blood test during which I nearly blacked out, and even a CT. That was a weird experience. With the examinations finished, I was told to be back for the results in three days.
I took Jasper's advice to heart. I remained undecided on when I would go back, or whether to go back at all. It wasn't exactly hard to do so. I was not certain I wanted to find out if I was sick or not. Yes, I was a little scared. Sue me.
The decision, as it turned out, was taken out of my hands on the fourth morning after our visit. I was sipping away at my first cup of coffee for the day when the phone rang. I groaned, thinking Charlie must have forgot something at home again when he left for his shift, and was calling to bribe his 'sweet and kind Baby Bells' with a promise of a pizza if I took it to the station for him.
"Hello?" My voice was still scratchy from sleep, and, as usual, my head was killing me. I did put some effort into sounding halfway human, but moments without having to pretend all was dandy for the Cullens and my father were few and far in-between, and I liked relaxing my guard when the chance presented itself. I needed it, to be honest.
"Miss Isabella Swan?" asked a female voice. Not Charlie, then.
"Uh, yes? Who's this?"
"I am Dr. Kate Windberg. I'm calling from the Port Angeles Hospital."
My heart skipped a beat. "...Yes?" I asked tentatively. I wasn't trying to be rude, but I had a very bad feeling about this.
"You came here to get examined because of severe headaches a few days ago, correct?"
I rolled my eyes at that.
"Yes," I stated the obvious. Of course she knew that already. I heard a loud exhale from her end of the line.
"Could you please come back for a consultation at your earliest convenience? Today would be best, if possible."
My heart hammered behind my ribs like an angry flock of birds in a cage. Did unknown doctors regularly hound their patients for consultations like that? I didn't think so.
"Is there a problem? Is it serious?" My voice shook as I fought my rising panic.
"I think it would be best if we discussed this in person, Miss. Can you make it today?"
"I- I can go. Today. Yeah," I stuttered out.
"Alright. When you get here, go to the reception desk and tell them you have an appointment with me. They will direct you to my office."
"Yeah. Okay." I swallowed, willing my coffee to stay in my stomach. Calm down, girl! I scolded myself. This could turn out to be anything. No use panicking when you don't even know what's going on yet.
"Very well. I will see you soon, Miss Swan. Good bye."
"Good bye." I hung up, rushing to get dressed immediately.
"I... What?" I asked, feeling like I was dreaming.
"I'm very sorry, Miss Swan," Dr. Windberg said with a sympathetic look.
I gulped. "Are you sure? You can't treat it?"
"We will try everything we can, but Metastasis is notoriously difficult to recover from, and with the original tumor at the top of the spinal column, there is not much we can do. The most we can achieve with therapy is reducing the pain and preserving the functionality for as long as we can."
Breathe, Bella. Breathe. "Th-therapy?"
The doc nodded. "We will try a variety of them to see which ones work for you. For now, I will give you some medication that will help ease the pain."
I nodded, but I wasn't hearing half of what she was saying. I had to tell Edward; that was my most prominent thought. He would be sad, true, but it looked like my change would have to take place sooner rather than later. I didn't want to be in pain. I didn't want to die.
I exhaled. Yes, I wanted to become a real part of my surrogate family, but not like this. I wanted the decision to be mine, and despite my insistence with Edward to turn me earlier than he wanted, now that it became inevitable in the near future, I was torn about it. Damn it, I was scared! However, it would have happened either way, which was a comforting thought.
The doc went on about my bleak prospects for a few minutes still, and I pondered how to go about breaking the news. Charlie... Poor Charlie. I would have had to leave him, but so soon? This was going to break him. And René, my sweet mother would be heartbroken.
I bid the doctor farewell in a daze, eventually finding myself at my parked truck a few streets down from the hospital building. I sat in, clutching the steering wheel in a vice-like grip. I must have stared ahead for hours before the ringing of my cellphone finally registered. I reached into the backpack thrown upon the seat beside me, checking the caller ID with a blank look. At long last, I pushed the button to accept the call.
"Alice," I whispered. Was that my voice? It sounded strange.
"Oh, Bella," she breathed.
A sob tore through my throat before I could abort it.
"Ssh, it's okay. Calm down. I sent Jazz out about half an hour ago - he'll be there soon. You shouldn't drive," she said, all her words low and soothing in pitch. She knew. Another sob tumbled out my numb lips.
"Alice, Alice, Alice," I chanted, my breaths shaky and irregular.
"That's right Bella, it's me. It's okay, we've got you. Me and Jazzy. You don't have to worry about a thing." Just then, the sound of a bike speeding my way hit my ears. I glanced in the direction of the sound's origin, and saw a familiar form skidding into the street. He reached the closest available parking space, and let the bike fall as soon as he climbed off, walking toward me at a speed that would be a stretch to accept as human.
"Jazzy's there now. You'll be fine, you'll see. He can help you, okay?"
I nodded as the blond vampire opened the door on the driver's side. He smiled at me sadly.
"She nodded, Alice." A little laugh was the response from Alice's end. A giggle left me as well, and if it was a tad on the hysterical side, no one mentioned it.
A wave of calm and understanding washed over me and I sagged in my seat. Jasper took the phone from my boneless grip, his other hand draping itself over my shoulders in an awkward hug. Honestly, it was the best hug I've ever gotten.
"I'm taking her home now, hun." He grinned at something she said. "Yes, alright. We'll be back in an hour." He closed the cell, tucking it into my bag while leaning over me. That done, he reached under my knees, the other arm still supporting my back, and lifted me out of the truck. He carried me over to the passenger side. I giggled again.
"I call shotgun!"
He chuckled while fastening my seatbelt. All the while, he kept sending that wonderful cocktail of emotions at me, and I was never more grateful for his ability. After dragging his motorbike over - for appearance's sake - and loading it in the back of my sturdy truck, we were on our way, the radio blasting the music at dangerous decibels, and us singing along right up till we parked down at the Cullen residence. It was nice to know that not all vampires were perfect. The fact that Jasper's ability to sing was on par with mine during a shower on a bad day, was the most hilarious thing since Rowan Atkinson. Well, that was my opinion at the moment, in any case.
"Edward and Emmet are not here, and Alice already told the others not to pry," he told me before climbing out, already opening my door in a flash. My good mood evaporated with the reminder. I would have to tell Edward about this, and I had no idea how I would go about it. Perhaps like a bandaid? Or would the slow method work better, easing him into the truth gently? I had no idea. Another wave of calm crashed over me before I could work myself into an fit, and I sent Jasper a grateful smile.
I was lowering my feet on the grassy ground when Alice was there, as sudden as lightning, her thin arms wrapping around me, squeezing me with gentle strength. She held on for minutes, murmuring comforting words and petting my hair in rhythmic strokes. When she let me go, we looked into each other's eyes. A few seconds, and we were giggling and clinging to each other again, although mine came out more like odd hiccups than anything else. I managed to get a hold of myself when Esme and Carlisle cleared their throats behind me. I wiped away the few traitorous tears that escaped with hasty movements, and I turned to them with my head hanging down.
"I..." I tried again. "Uh-"
"It's okay, Bella," Esme was quick to assure. "You can tell us whenever you're ready."
My chin dropped further so I wouldn't have to see their eyes. "Thank you." Her long fingers threaded through my hair, and I looked back up with tentative quirk of my lips at her comforting gesture.
We went inside, and I found Rosalie sitting on the couch in the living room, surfing through the channels on TV with a bored mien. She glanced at me curiously when I entered, but dismissed my presence when I didn't appear to combust spontaneously anytime soon.
I spent the next few hours with Alice and Jasper in their room. We talked about everything and nothing, with me only paying them half of my attention. The other half was focused inward, imagining and disregarding scenarios about how everyone would react to the news. I was able to stay calm with Jasper's mojo lending aid, but I did feel the deep-rooted panic bubbling away under the surface. Finally, the time came when I could put it off no more; I heard the car pull into the driveway, the noise of the tires upon the gravel magnified by a hundred times in my mind. Alice grabbed a hold of my clenched fist, prying it open and lacing her fingers through mine in a reminder of her steady support. A few seconds later, there was a knock on the door.
"Bella?" My gut churned as his concerned voice seeped through the door. "Bella, what happened?"
Of course he would know something was up. He could read that much from the minds downstairs. I wondered for a moment how Alice and Jasper managed to keep him out, but I dismissed the thought to ponder at a later date. I just didn't have the energy.
With a last squeeze of Alice's hand, I got up and headed for the door. I stepped out, shutting it behind me and forcing a collected expression on my face before I looked at him.
"I need to tell you something important," I began.
He nodded at me, his beautiful topaz eyes wide due to my strange demeanor. "Let's go to my room."
I sighed, but agreed. Everyone would hear, yes, but it was better than having to face them all while I revealed the news. I flopped down on his couch gracelessly, the happy emotions ebbing away by the second. He sat down as well, snaking an arm around my waist and kissing the top of my head with so much tenderness, I wanted to cry from it. I still didn't know how to go about this. The first sentence escaped my mouth without any conscious decision on my part.
"I'm dying." Well, bandaid method it is.
He went still beside me. He didn't breathe, he didn't blink. He just stared at me.
"Bella?" So much confusion in that one word.
I rubbed my palms up and down my thigh, attempting to calm my nerves. I didn't dare look at him again. "I went to the hospital a few days ago. I've been having some headaches for a while," - wow, understatement much? - "and I decided to get myself checked. I didn't want to worry you guys, so I couldn't ask Carlisle."
I shrugged. "Yeah, it's getting pretty distracting, so I needed someone to do something about it."
"How long?" he asked in a strangled sort of tone.
"Uh, around two months, I think?"
"What?" he snapped. I jumped a little at the sound. "And you didn't say anything? You've been in pain for months and you didn't think anyone should know about it? Bella, what were you thinking?"
I fidgeted in place, finding the most interesting patterns in the material of my jeans.
"I told you I didn't want to worry you. I was so happy to have everyone back, I didn't want to ruin it with complaining about a silly headache," I told him sullenly.
I thought I saw his hand twitch in my periferial vision, but it could have been nothing more than my mind's way of coping with the utter rigidness he kept displaying beside me. Silence descended upon the room, my breathing and heartbeat betraying my state of mind with all the subtlety of a freaking tornado.
"What did you mean?" he asked finally. "You said you were-"
"Dying." I shot him a sad smile. I could do this. "They did a bunch of tests on me at the hospital. They called me today to attend a consultation about the results. They found a cancerous tumor in my spine, and they located traces of it spreading to the brain stem. The doc said there's not much they can do except holding off the pain for a little longer. I don't have all that much time left. Perhaps a year, if I'm very-very lucky, but by then I would be in so much pain, I'm not sure it's worth it."
"No." I never heard him sound like that before. Horrified and lost. A broken little boy. His stillness was disturbed by a jerk of his head. "No, no, no!"
His arm around me tightened to the point it almost hurt, and he pulled me against him, running his hand over my body wherever he could reach. I wound my arms around his neck, burying my face into the marble skin above his collar. Silent tears fell from my face, his shirt soaking up the salty drops.
"I'm so sorry, Edward." I murmured lowly. "I thought we would have more time. I really wanted to get married before the change, and have lots of time to think things through. But it looks like it just isn't meant to happen that way." I stroked his hair softly.
"No!" he roared, grabbing hold of my legs and pulling them up to cradle me in his lap like an infant. "No! You can't! You can't!"
"Edward?" Dry sobs wrecked his body, and I was getting more alarmed by the minute.
"Edward, calm down. Please." I didn't understand, why was he acting like that? He was hurting me now, squeezing and clutching, and his eyes were feral in their blackness. The news was distressing, but we could work it out together. Everything was possible as long as we were together.
"Edward, listen to me! You've got to calm down. It'll be okay. We'll be okay. I promise." I told him, my words fierce, wincing as his finger dug into my upper arm.
The door banged open, and it made me jump, which in turn only made Edward hold on tighter. I gasped as my ribs were compressed, my arm squished to my torso painfully. I glanced toward the racket and found Alice staring at her brother in horrified awe.
"You cannot be serious, Edward!" she whispered, watching as if she had never seen him before. Her eyes rounded impossibly wide when she took notice of our position and my pained expression. "Let her go this instant! You're hurting her!" she snapped. I had never imagined her capable of being so vicious before, especially not with her family. What on earth was going on?
However, at least her tone seemed to get through to him, because I found his arms gone, and I was sitting on the couch alone without registering the shift. I turned to watch his pacing form in confusion.
"Edward?" I asked in a small voice.
He growled, then another string of sobs left his body.
"Edward, I hope you are not serious," Alice interjected.
He turned his attention to his incredulous sister. "I can't, Alice! You and Jasper, of all. people, should be able to understand!"
"Understand what?" she spat. "Your cowardliness? Your misguided righteousness? Pray tell, dear brother, what are we supposed to understand?"
He roared so loud, my ears rang. "I will not condemn her! She's pure! She's beautiful! And you would have me sully her with this wretched existence?"
It dawned on me, then, why he was acting like that. He didn't intend to change me. He never had. My mouth opened in stunned disbelief, but no sound came forth. I gaped at him like an idiot.
"You would rather watch me waste away, than let me become your equal? You promised me we would be together forever!" I found my voice, finally.
I was getting tired of his shouts. "What 'no'?"
"Don't you understand, Bella?" he switched his manic gaze to me. "I love you," he declared fervently. "I love you above all reason! You are my world, my salvation. My everything." A sob. "You are not like us. I will not allow you to get twisted like that. You are not a monster! You are too good to be a monster..." He trailed off, muttering to himself incoherently.
And on it went. He kept insisting, and no matter what Alice or I said, his resolve didn't waver. Alice raged and raged, and in the end Edward forbade her and Jasper from being alone with me altogether. The rest of the family seemed to be of the opinion that since I was Edward's mate, they had no say in the matter. After having witnessed them fleeing from Forks on no more than his say-so, I was not surprised. Didn't mean it hurt any less.
After Edward drove me home that night, I never kept my window open again. The first few weeks I kept trying to change his mind. I attempted to talk to him reasonably. When that didn't work, I cried. When that failed as well, I stopped talking to him at all. Not that it made a difference. No matter my attitude - or my wishes, for that matter - Edward would be there, knocking on my door every single day.
Eventually, I was forced to tell Charlie. I couldn't very well keep something like this a secret, what with having to go for check ups every week, and the new, shiny assortment of meds I had to carry around everywhere I went making it pretty obvious. René wanted me to move back to Phoenix, but I refused. I couldn't leave Charlie all alone like that. After downright begging me remained without effect, René rented out a flat in Port Angeles, from where she could visit me daily, and she refused to budge at my protests. Phil often stopped by as well.
I never bothered going back to school. I figured there was not much point, and it wasn't like I had any friends there. My little angsting episode after the Cullen's had left took care of that.
My health began its decline quite fast. The meds held off the worst of the pain for another 3 months, but they didn't provide much relief after that. Everything hurt, especially my head and neck, and I felt weaker by the day. Sometimes, my legs and hands refused to work, resulting in a number of close calls on stairs, sidewalks and the like, but Edward saved the day each time...
Feel the sarcasm.
The asshole with his damn mournful expression was always near me. Every time I looked at him, it was a painful reminder of what he held out of my reach. And the worst of it all was that - despite everything - I still loved him. He insisted on acting as my personal guard hound and chauffeur, and me being unable to give my mother and father a reasonable excuse for why he shouldn't, I let him. Sometimes, he even took me to the Cullen home, however, Alice and Jazz were never allowed too close or alone with me. Edward acted like a rabid dog, growling and clutching at me whenever they were near.
I was hospitalized after the sixth month. The doc said I was damn lucky to hold out that long. In spite of the varied and extensive treatments, I always felt the pain. And even worse than that was Edward's constant presence. He sat with me all day, watching, observing my agony. I refused to converse with him, but he never failed to murmur his love confessions and half-assed explanations. To be fair, I'm sure he did believe he was doing the right thing. I had just been stupid enough not to realize how imbalanced he had been mentally, and now it was too late for regrets.
A sane person - or vampire, as the case may be - would not watch the self-proclaimed love of his life waste away sitting in their own pile of shit, often screaming for a shot of morphine, unable to articulate the pleas properly by the eighth month when he could have helped. The first time it happened marked the point from wherein I was unable to keep my resentment from tainting my feelings for him any longer. The fairy tail my life should have been with him had turned into a horror story, and my disillusionment tore my confused mind to shreds. The tattered remains were filled with nothing but the primal need to survive and the hate developing to equal my bygone love.
With the end of the ninth month, René and Charlie were unable muster their forced smiles anymore. I couldn't blame them either. My sunken face, bald head, my skeletal frame were not things I would have wished for my parents to witness. I often heard mom crying outside my room, my dad's rough grunts her only comfort.
Alice and Jasper were not allowed in my room, and, after a while, neither was Emmet. At least, that's what I assumed when they stopped coming, and Edward's mumbled words gave some credence to this belief.
I held out for another agonizing month. My range of motion becoming progressively less and less, I spent my last two weeks incapable of doing more than blinking. Oh, and moaning. Let's not forget my amazing vocal abilities. And in all that time, I had nothing to occupy myself with, except for staring at my insane boyfriend and stewing in my ever growing hatred. Glorious, isn't it?
Exactly eleven months and two days later, I died.
And exactly eleven months and five days later I woke up in a metal drawer in the morgue with a fucking tag on my toe, thirsting for some blood, and even more so - for revenge.