Sorry tis a little late. Am rather unwell. Any mistakes are mine.
The room was quiet. Finally everyone was gone. The doctors and nurses had checked and rechecked Bella's vitals and responses while Emmett and I waited anxiously. They were all pleased, but they warned us Bella would need time to recuperate from her injuries, including any residual effects from her head trauma. Although she was doing amazing so quickly, we had to be cautious. Her body needed to recover and heal. Even though she had been unconscious, she was exhausted and needed a lot of rest. She was weak, her head admittedly fuzzy, and a couple times she had to stop and search for words, but the doctors were sure that would change and go away as she grew stronger.
Beyond grateful she was awake and doing better, I assured them and Emmett I would make sure she had everything she required. More than anything I wanted to get her home, where she was in familiar surroundings and I could care for her. I knew she'd respond well when she was comfortable. With my mum coming to help, I knew Bella would be in good hands.
For tonight, Bella insisted everyone go home and get some sleep. I encouraged it too, knowing full well I wouldn't be going anywhere.
Until Bella went home, I wasn't leaving.
After kisses and hugs, we were, at last, alone. Bella watched me with soft eyes as I dipped a cloth into a basin of warm water. "I'd rather have a shower," she murmured.
"Tomorrow. The doctor said tomorrow," I assured her, gently lifting the heavy plastered arm and wiping the warm cloth over the exposed skin, doing the same thing to the other arm. "You may get to go home tomorrow and you can have a nice soak in the tub. Sound good?"
She nodded, watching me as I slowly, tenderly wiped her clean. I smiled at the shaky sigh she emitted as I caressed her face and neck with the soft material I had Rose pick up for me before she left. "If not we'll get you a shower. But this will have to do until then, my darling girl."
"Okay," she breathed.
"What did you do to your hand?" she whispered, her fingers tracing over the bruises on my knuckles.
"Ah, I sort of introduced it to the wall," I admitted sheepishly.
"Oscar," she chided gently, shaking her head which caused a small grimace of pain to cross her face.
"Do you need some pain medication?" I asked, already reaching for the call button.
She stilled my hand. "No. It's fine. I'm fine."
Dropping the cloth, I cupped her cheek, my thumb tracing a small circle on her skin. "I don't want you in any pain. I can't stand the thought of you in pain. You have to tell me," I pleaded. "I want to look after you. You have to tell me what you need."
"I only need you."
"Oh, Bella." I brushed my lips against her. "You have me."
"I'm sorry I scared you." Her voice was barely a whisper.
"You did. All of this did. They were talking about feeding tubes and—" I drew in a shaky breath. "I thought … I thought I lost you."
"No," she whispered. "I'm right here, Edward." She pressed my hand closer into her warmth. "Right here."
I nodded, suddenly unable to speak. Gingerly, she moved closer to the edge of the bed and patted the mattress beside her. I started to shake my head, but she pulled on my hand with a breathy "please" and unable to resist her, I slowly, carefully, stretched out beside her, cautious to avoid her bruises. Turning slightly, she buried her face in my neck, her breath tickling my skin as she shuddered. My arm draped over her waist, loosely holding her, wishing I could be closer, but her cast preventing us from pressing together. The feeling of her being close, the sheer relief of it, hit me. Tears began to drip down my face, soaking into the pillow under my head. Bella's hand stroked the back of my head as she murmured gentle hushing noises meant to soothe. Her tenderness only made the sobs worse and I gathered her as close as I dared, letting my emotions rage until I was spent.
And then, I slept.
My eyes flew open in the dimness of the room, only to find Bella looking at me. "Hey," she soothed. "It's okay."
I stroked her cheek. "I fell asleep. I'm supposed to be looking after you and I fell asleep." I snorted quietly. "What a git."
"Emmett said you refused to leave me and that you barely slept the whole time I was unconscious."
I cupped her cheek. "I couldn't leave you."
"He told me everything. He said you were so strong and handled everything."
I couldn't meet her eyes as I shrugged. "I had to."
Her hand covered mine. "Why?"
"They were hurting. You were injured. I was so … angry. I had to channel that anger." I looked at her as the anger coursed through me again. "I had to find the people responsible for you suffering and make them pay."
"You impressed him, Edward. And that isn't easy to do with Emmett."
I shrugged, feeling somewhat embarrassed. "I did it for you. You needed me. They needed me."
"Thank you for looking after me," she breathed.
I kissed her. "I'll always look after you," I whispered, realising for the first time in my life, it was true. She would always be more important than anything or anyone else. Especially myself.
She smiled softly. "So, with everything you've been doing, a little nap beside me is okay."
"I should get up and let you sleep."
"Or you could stay and we could sleep together."
I grimaced at the tight quarters. "You're not … uncomfortable? It's kind of a small bed. They might not like me here in with you."
"I'm good. Deb was already in and tsked. I told her I needed you here. She said she'd allow it this once."
Deb was my favourite of all of Bella's nurses. "I'll send her some flowers."
"Do you need anything? Are you in pain?"
"No. Deb gave me some pills. All I need is you."
My arm tightened and I brought up her closer to my chest. "You have me."
I pressed my lips to her head and stroked her hair gently until I felt her relax and sleep. Almost instantly the twitches started and I rejoiced at her little signs of normal sleep. I was so worried she would slip away again. When she breathed my name and smiled, I relaxed and allowed my eyes to drift shut again. Bella was right—I was exhausted and I needed to sleep so I could care for her better.
And with her beside me, I could rest.
The next time I opened my eyes, Emmett was staring down at me, shaking his head. "You just can't stop touching my sister can you? You had to sleep with her?"
Before I could answer, Bella's groggy voice piped up. "Piss off Em. I asked him to."
I grinned widely and kissed her head that was still buried in my chest. "What she said."
He shook his head, but then started to grin at the two of us. "I spoke with the doctor. They are gonna do the CT scan, remove all the, ah, stuff and if all is okay, Bella can come home."
Carefully, I lifted off the heavy plaster Bella was resting on my side, slipped off the bed, and smiled down at her. "Good news, Beaker."
She nodded; relief evident on her face. "Especially the stuff."
I knew she wanted the IV and Foley gone. She wanted to try and get up and walk. She wanted a bath. She wanted to come home.
I wanted her to come home.
"And your mum will be there?"
I grinned. "Felix is picking her up."
"Alice has been looking after him. He'll be glad to have you home."
She looked at me, beseechingly. "Can you get them to come check me out faster?"
I loved the fact she was asking me, not Emmett. She wanted me to take care of it—take care of her. Bending down I kissed her softly. "I'll go find the doctor."
She walked. Shaky and hanging onto me for dear life, but she did it. She passed all their tests, and the CT scan was clear. They removed all the "stuff" she hated and when they let me back in the room they told me I could take her home.
The doctor left the room and I sat, wrapping my arm around her. "I'll get you home and you can have your bath, Beaker. And sleep in your own bed."
She pressed her lips to my ear. "Your bed?"
I kissed her. "Our bed," I promised.
She drew in a shaky breath. "Will there, um … will there be—" Her voice trailed off, but from the nervous tone and the way her hand clutched mine, I knew what she was worried about.
"We're going out another way," I assured her quietly. "Rose has called a press conference later this afternoon. It's at the front of the building." I grinned. "They'll all be gathered there, waiting. What a shame when they realise I'm not showing up. Just Rose. But by then we'll have gone through the tunnel and out the back service entrance. You'll be home before they know you're even awake." I pulled her closer. "No crowds, my darling girl." I crooned in her ear. "No one will get near you."
She looked up, her eyes wide and scared. "You promise?"
I hated the fact that now she was as nervous as I was about what waited outside the door. Those fucking wankers. All of them. I wanted to hurt all of them.
But I only nodded and held her close. "I promise."
"Can I see Jake before I go? I want to thank him."
I had told her what I'd done for him and Leah, but of course she would want to thank him herself. "Yes. I'll take you to him."
"Will he be okay after we go?"
"I'm leaving him security. He'll be fine."
"And then we'll go home?"
"Yes, Beaker. Home we go."
Steam billowed around us as I helped Bella off with her clothes. She was too shy to strip in front of my mum or Alice so they were giving us some privacy and letting me help her get in the tub. She was still shy in front of me at times, which I found rather endearing. She had no reason to be shy, because to me, she was the loveliest woman I'd ever seen. I hissed at the sight of Bella's hip and leg where she had fallen. Her damaged skin was a mottled mass of blue, purple, black and green. Several areas were chaffed, scraped, and sore looking. I was amazed she could walk given how painful it had to be. My fingers gently touched her as I looked up into her weary expression. "Are you sure you should get in the bath?"
She nodded; the movement slow so she didn't cause any pain in her head. "Your mum put on this waterproof cast cover," she motioned to her arm, "so I don't get the cast wet. Alice will help with my hair. If you lift me in and out, I'll be fine."
"I'll be sure she's fine, love," my mum called out behind me. "She'll feel better with a soak."
Still I hesitated. "Maybe I should—"
"Edward Anthony Cullen, pick up the wee lass and put her in the tub and get out! When she is ready I will call you back. Stop hovering!"
Bella's eyes widened and she tried not to giggle as my mum gave me shit. I rolled my eyes at the use of my full name but did as she instructed, lifting Bella and gingerly setting her in the tub. Her eyes shut as she sunk under the water and a small gasp escaped her lips. I froze, not letting her go. "Beaker?"
"It's okay. I'm fine. It just stung a little. Let me go, Edward."
I loosened my hold but not before I found her ear. "Never."
My mum walked in and tugged on my shoulder. "Get out, you silly prat. Go make me some tea and be useful. I'll call when we're done." She smiled at Bella, picking up the hand held showerhead for her hair. "Let's get you clean and into bed, lass. Maybe my daft son will relax then."
I growled at Mum and she pushed my shoulder. "Out, lad. Let me look after your girl."
With a final look and a wink I left them to their devices and stomped down to the kitchen, grabbing Thor, who was waiting for me on the edge of the bed and placing him on my shoulder. My little mate had missed me, and judging from the feel of him, Alice had been feeding him far too much. He wouldn't fit on my shoulder much longer.
I put the kettle on, grateful for something to do, then sat down at the table, Thor purring in my ears as I stroked his head, glad to be home.
Escaping the hospital had been easy. After Bella saw Jake and Leah, the papers had been signed and we left. I carried her from the elevator to where Emmett and Felix were waiting with the car running and ready to leave. I held her all the way home, strapped in and safe. The gates were clear of everyone; no doubt any stragglers still at the hospital waiting for the press conference. Once he was sure we were safely inside, Emmett left to return to the hospital and planned on bringing Rose back with him later in the afternoon. We had a lot to talk about, but we all needed a little down time.
Mum was waiting for both of us, fussing over Bella as much as me. Feeling her warm, comforting embrace had brought tears back to my eyes and I wiped them away. But not before Mum saw and smiled in understanding, pressing her lips to my cheek firmly. I was grateful Carlisle had thought to fly her here. I made a mental note to find a way to repay him for all he had done the past few days.
Alice was here as well and they both clucked in understanding when Bella begged for a warm bath, insisting she didn't want to get into bed before she got the smell of the hospital off her. The white gauze was gone from her head, leaving only the thick bandage over the stitched skin, the dark bruising showing all around the area. Alice assured me she could clean Bella's hair without hurting her, or getting the site wet, since one of my instructions said that wasn't supposed to happen for a few days. I showed her the list.
I had many lists. I had asked questions of every doctor who came into her room, searched the web, and even hounded the nurses for information. I had written everything down and made sure I was well-prepared to care for Bella. I had never cared for anyone before and I wanted to make sure I did it correctly. I was grateful Mum was here, though. She was much better at all this than me. She had chuckled when I showed her all the lists. I had one for Bella's list of medication, her bandages, what to expect, various instructions, doctor's numbers, coma recovery websites. I had them all.
Thor jumped to my lap then to the floor and I watched, amused, as he thumped his way over to his food bowl, squatting down and picking up his kibble, loudly munching away. From the amount in his bowl I knew why he felt so heavy.
The kettle boiled but I knew it was too soon to make the tea. My stomach growled and I realised I hadn't eaten all day. I rummaged through the refrigerator and made a quick sandwich, eating it standing at the counter. It was nowhere near as good as one of Bella's but it would do. Figuring Mum might be hungry, I made her a plate of some cheese and crackers, knowing that would please her. By the time I was done I heard my voice being called and went upstairs to help Bella out of the tub. I met Alice in the hall. "She's all ready for you. I'll be back in a couple days, Edward. I'll let Bella rest tomorrow."
Grabbing her, I pulled her into a tight hug. "Ta, Alice. You've been smashing."
She chuckled. "Your accent gets heavier when your mum is here. You know that, right?"
I shrugged sheepishly.
She ruffled my hair. "It's cute and I'm sure Bella loves it. I'll let myself out."
Grinning, I went in to help my girl out of the tub. She looked much happier than when I left a bit ago. After my mum slipped out of the room, I lifted Bella out and set her on her feet, wrapping a fluffy towel around her.
"I got you wet," she giggled softly, bunching my t-shirt in her hand.
I stepped closer, grazing my lips to her ear. "That's usually what I do to you isn't it," I bit down gently, "Beaker?"
She blushed and I stepped away chuckling as I pulled my shirt over my head. I picked up another towel and tenderly started patting her dry the way I had seen her do so often. "I missed your blush."
"Stop it," she giggled.
"I missed that sound too." I kissed her, suddenly serious. "I don't want to be without it again."
"You won't be. I'm right here, Edward." Her hand wrapped around my neck, pulling me close, her breath wafting over my face. "Right here."
I nodded, unable to speak. I looked up to see my mum watching us with a gentle smile as she handed me one of my loose t-shirts Bella liked to sleep in. "Bring your lass and let's get her settled, love. She needs her rest. And I need some tea." Then she chuckled. "I'll get you a fresh shirt, too."
I was quiet as I tugged the shirt over Bella's head, pulling the towel away. I helped her into bed and tucked the blankets around her, making sure she took some pain medication.
"I'm right downstairs. I'll be up soon to check on you."
She nodded, her hand capturing mine. "I'm right here," she whispered.
Closing the distance between us, I kissed her deeply, burrowing my head into her neck, breathing her in. She smelled like Bella again—light and floral, and like home. I kissed her again, gently, showing her without words how happy I was she was home.
"I love you," I murmured against her lips.
She lay back on the pillows, her smile one of understanding.
Mum's eyes were warm as I handed her the cup of tea. "Ta, love."
I sat down heavily beside her, suddenly exhausted.
"Maybe you should go have a wee nap with your lassie."
"You sound like Nan."
She chuckled. "It's the Scot coming out, your da would say."
I nodded as I leaned back, shutting my eyes. I was tired. A contented sigh escaped my mouth as I felt my mum's fingers stroking my head.
"You love her so much. 'Tis a lovely thing to see."
"Yeah, I do."
"I'm glad you finally saw it. I told you before, it took you long enough. You were so blind, love."
"I wasn't that bad," I insisted.
"Oh, Edward, you're daft. You've been in love with her from the start. I saw it when I was here last. You simply weren't ready to admit it. I thought you'd finally come to your senses when I saw the picture of the two of you together and saw her wearing Nan's bracelet. I knew she meant something special for you to let her wear that jewellery."
I snorted. "Yeah, okay, it took me a little longer to figure it out."
She huffed a little. "Well, you always took after your father in that department. I love that man dearly but he is rather slow at times."
I barked out a laugh as Mum sipped her tea and nibbled on the crackers and cheese I gave her. She set the empty plate and mug on the table.
"Good cuppa, son. Ta."
I nodded, sighing quietly, as she once again ran her fingers through my hair. We sat in a comfortable silence for a while. Then she spoke up.
"You're doing a good job, Edward."
I opened one eye and peered at her. "Yeah?"
She smiled as she kept stroking, her voice soft and approving. "You've changed, my boy."
"You've grown up. 'Tis a good thing to see."
"I want to be what she needs, Mum."
"You are, love. You are exactly what she needs. And her you. You're good together. I thought so last visit."
I swallowed and looked at her. "I was so scared."
Her eyes were filled with understanding. "But still you handled it so well. Bella told me what all you did." Her voice softened further. "That's what we do for those we love, Edward. We put them first."
"I want to give her Nan's ring. I want to marry her."
"Ooch. That'll be grand. I'd love her for a daughter."
"She still thinks she's too old for me."
"Nonsense. Your da is eight years older than me. It's nothing. It's only a number."
"That's what I told her."
"Keep telling her until she believes you."
"I want to do it at home. In England."
"Your da and I would love that."
I grinned sheepishly. "She has to say yes first. To both things."
Leaning forward, she kissed my cheek. "She will, love. She will."
"I hope so. I want it more than anything."
"What if she wants to leave here?"
"You mean this house?"
"No," Mum paused, "this … life. Go somewhere quieter."
There was no hesitation. "Then it's done. Whatever she needs. Here, England, somewhere else—as long as it is with her I'm good. She is my life now."
Mum smiled and sighed. "Then I'm happy as well."
I left Mum napping on the couch; Thor curled up on her side. She insisted she was too comfortable to move, muttering something about sending her one of these couches as I left the room. I made my way upstairs, and quietly, I opened the bedroom door, smiling at the sight of Bella in my bed.
She was tucked in, sleeping on her uninjured side, her arm propped up on a pillow. Her dark hair was gathered up in a ponytail on top of her head and she looked comfortable and peaceful. Not wanting to disturb her, I began to back out when her eyes opened and she smiled sleepily. "Come here," she murmured.
"So you need something?" I asked softly, my hand caressing her head.
"You beside me."
That I could do.
Toeing off my sneakers, I crawled in, gently easing the pillow out from under her arm and resting the cast on my hip. "Better?"
She snuggled a little closer. "Much."
I nuzzled her head, breathing her in.
"Napping with Thor."
"He'll be over later with Rose. Mum is making one of her roasts, so they'll come for dinner. They were both pretty tired and I told them to go get some sleep." I yawned and chuckled. "We all are." I kissed her head. "And you should be resting."
She sighed. "I will now you're here."
"I'll always be here," I murmured drowsily.
"Good. Me too."
It was the best thing I could hear before I fell asleep.
She is home. Mum is there.
Three chapters left to go. Lots left to happen.
Update on Thursday.