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Edward/Bella. Edward POV. Reality turns on its ear and you have no choice but to forget everything you think you know about Twilight. Is it AU? I guess you'll just have to read to find out.


12. Out of the Frying Pan

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PART TWELVE: Out of the Frying Pan

[POV Shift: Edward]

I awakened slowly to a room that was mostly dark, the world outside the window wrapped in night. The dull pain in my chest told me that I was indeed human, alive, and that the painkillers had worn off. I hurt, but it was reassuring to discover that for the moment it was bearable. Rosalie was thinking idle thoughts by my bedside, engrossed in a new magazine. Apparently she'd forgotten that humans couldn't read in the dark. Still, it concerned me that she was still here. What had happened to Isabel? How long had it been since I'd fallen asleep?

I frowned, gazing out the window as though it held the answer.

Emmett's thoughts reached me before he appeared in the doorway. I struggled to keep my face smooth, closing my eyes to feign sleep.

"Ahem." I cracked my eyes just a fraction, unable to quite wrap my brain around what he was up to. "Nurse Cullen, I'm going to need your help with a procedure." Emmett appeared around the doorway wearing scrubs and a lab coat, a stethoscope slung around his neck. If there was a god in heaven, surely he would take me now.

"Emmett..." Rosalie's voice was disapproving, but I could tell by her thoughts that her interest had been piqued.

Emmett merely grinned, leaning casually against the door frame. "I don't think you understand, Nurse Cullen. This is a life-saving procedure." Oh for heaven's sake, Emmett, wash your brain out with bleach! "I'm gonna die if I don't get some alone time with you." I wondered if they'd notice if I crawled under the bed...

"We shouldn't." That's not what her mind was saying. "Izzy will have a fit if she gets back and finds him alone." With a sidelong glance at me, Rosalie got to her feet and was slinking towards the door. Where were those painkillers? I couldn't take this sort of punishment.

"Oh, we won't go far," Emmett reassured her. "There's a storage closet right down the hall." And I would bet there were others, out of range, on other floors. "Besides, he's out cold."

"Mmm, very resourceful of you, Dr. Cullen." She grabbed both ends of the stethoscope, using it to tug him down for a kiss. I'm sure it would have been touching if they weren't already doing unspeakable things in their thoughts. And yes, I realized I could be reduced to equally unspeakable thoughts in the presence of an amorous Bella... but at least then I didn't have to unwillingly listen in on myself.

I sighed with relief as they left, Emmett's arm wrapped possessively around Rose. They went far enough that I could screen them out with the rest of the background noise, and I stared up at the ceiling, listening to the constant beep of the monitors. Being alone left me nothing but melancholy thoughts for company. I was an expert in those sorts of musings, having spent too many long nights alone. When you're unable to sleep, brooding is often a natural progression.

Did it bother me that Isabel and Jake were still gone? It shouldn't. If they'd found some distraction in one another, it would be good for them both. The fact that I couldn't quite accept that was a sign I'd let myself become too involved. A bitter smile tugged at my lips. I suppose that nearly dying from a tree through my chest should have been the first clue.

A sudden, fierce longing burned through me. My life was out of balance, my center, my anchor, nowhere to be found. I wanted nothing more than to be in Bella's narrow bed in Charlie's house, the air perfumed with her scent, the warmth of her body tingling along every nerve as I watched her sleep. "Where are you, Bella?" I closed my eyes, painting her face behind my eyelids with the obsessive detail of an artist or a madman.

Hello, human. Alice's voice dropped into my mind without warning. Eyes narrowed, I looked up, almost expecting to find her at the foot of my bed. She laughed. No, that would have been a little too dangerous for me, I think. Her thoughts were clear, but soft, as though she were a floor or two away... but somewhere she could see me. I glanced up, there was a security camera in the corner of the room. Oh, very good. This may not be as hard as I thought. My heartrate had increased, I struggled to relax before a nurse was sent to check on me. I'm so pleased you survived. I thought for certain I'd killed you. What a waste that would have been...

Lifting my head, I glared straight on at the camera. Whatever game she was playing, I didn't want to be a part of it. Oh, you're impatient. Alright then, I'll get to the point. She paused. I have a proposition for you. My master doesn't tolerate failure, if I return to him empty-handed the consequences could be dire. I suddenly felt a chill wind of fear from her. Not for herself, but for Jasper. Obviously I don't have the resources to fulfill the kill order on the Cullens. So, to my mind, I have two choices.

I had a bad feeling I wasn't going to like either one. I can either bring you to my master, a new and potentially formidable member of his guard. Or... I sensed her anger, it was faint, but there. I cut your little female from the herd and cull her. That could be quite satisfying, considering what she did to my mate.

Isabel... My jaw tightened convulsively. Isabel was fast, but Alice's ability would give her a considerable advantage. If she were able to get her alone... I closed my eyes, taking a deep breath that set my chest on fire. Ah, I'd hoped you'd decide that way. She read my decision in her visions, as she so often had in another life. Well then, come to the roof. I'll be waiting.

I pulled back from her mind, going still for a long moment. Then I grimly began pulling the wires and tubes free from my body. Rosalie and Emmett were still engrossed in one another. If I hurried, they wouldn't find me missing until it was too late.

I tried not to think about what would happen after that. Isabel would be safe. Her family would be intact. That was all that mattered.

I moved carefully to the edge of the bed, ignoring the protests from my battered body. The first time I tried to stand, my head spun and my knees immediately buckled under my weight. I clung to the bed rail, coughing weakly. With an effort, I pulled myself upright, keeping my left arm tucked in against my side to protect my wounds. One step at a time, I made my way to the door.

It was the dead of the night, so the halls were quiet, the nurse's station oddly empty. I didn't question my fortune there, but simply turned in the direction I felt Alice's mind the most strongly. Every few feet, I had to stop and rest, letting the wall support me. I continued that way until I found an elevator. The doors were open. Waiting.

Pushing the button for the roof level, I sagged into the corner, watching with dull eyes as the numbers progressed. The elevator creaked to a halt and the doors swished open, letting in the chill night air. I breathed it into my injured lungs and coughed.

When I finally looked up again, shaken, Alice's slender form materialized from the misty darkness.