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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.


8. The Anxious Dead

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PART EIGHT: The Anxious Dead

I know I was unconscious for several minutes, and then gradually I began to become aware again, drifting upward like a mote of air rising to the surface of a deep, dark lake. There was pain, and when I breathed I could taste the rust and salt of blood on my tongue. Some part of me recognized that as a bad thing, but I couldn't get beyond that thought, any further action seemed impossible.

Carlisle! Alice's voice, but it didn't match with the angry face and the red eyes I remembered. Something's wrong! Help him, please. I didn't have the heart to remind her that Carlisle was dead.

Come on, bro. Don't give up on us, yet. Emmett... This is no way for anyone to die.

I've never seen anything like this. I'm not sure what to do for him, or where to begin. My father's voice, I don't think I've ever heard him so anxious before. Were the dead capable of anxiety? The anxious dead... perhaps it was an outer layer of hell, although I'd like to think if anyone had earned redemption, it would be him.

Blinding pain seized me, and the voices were abruptly gone. "Don't move," Bella's voice said, but the cool touch on my face was Isabel's. "God, there's blood everywhere." Her voice was tight and soft, I imagined she was trying not to breathe too deeply. "Your pulse is weak, I have to get you out of here." Distantly I heard a furious snarl and an ugly ripping sound followed by a piercing keen.


"No Jake! Stay over there!" She twisted, perhaps looking back over her shoulder. "Rose, hold him!" I tried to listen, tried to figure out what was happening from their thoughts, but they evaded me. It was as if they'd become too slick with blood and I was unable to hold on. "He's too young to handle this," Isabel murmured softly. "I can barely handle this." I think I was on the ground, but she cradled my body against her, my head resting on her shoulder. As she turned, I just caught the scent of her hair.

Her hand stroked my face again, and then I felt the touch of her lips on my forehead. "Edward, I'm going to pick you up." I felt her gather herself, wrapping her arms around me more tightly. "I don't want to hurt you, but we can't stay here." I know she was gentle, moving with as much care and grace as she could muster, but the pain was excruciating. I cried out, my voice hoarse and unrecognizable, and my tenuous awareness faltered, threatened to fade completely.


"Edward...stay with me." Isabel sounded fearful, urgent. "Please don't let go." We were traveling swiftly, even with me as her burden she was very fast, sliding through the darkness as though part of it. "You did it, you know. What you told me." Her tone warmed, and I wondered if I was forgiven for my lies. "Once the blonde was down and Jake was free, the lead female took her mate and ran." I didn't answer, I wasn't sure I could. The speed at which we were going increased, her arms tightening just a fraction. "Why did you do that, Edward?" She was upset again. "Why? You had to know what could happen." Her voice was an anguished whisper.

"Time." It was agony just drawing breath to speak. "Give you... time." I coughed, felt a trickle of blood gliding down from the corner of my mouth.

"Hush, we're almost there." Through blurred, half-open eyes, I could see lights in the darkness. I heard a sound faintly like a highway, the squeal of a car braking. Finally, she stopped, shifting her weight uncertainly. "I need to set you down," she murmured after a moment. "They can't see me carry you in." Very carefully, she lowered me to the pavement.

"Is...abel," her name was a bloody rattle on my lips.

"I'm here, I need to tell them to come and get you. I'll be right back." She knelt beside me, pressed her cool lips to my forehead in a lingering kiss. "Wait for me, Edward. Please." Then she was gone, leaving me to the darkness.

I swallowed painfully, staring up at where the sky should be. Bella... where was she tonight, I wondered? Was she looking up at a mirror image of that same dark sky? Or was she just a dream, and Isabel the only reality there could be? Did it matter? A tear escaped from my eyes, sliding down my cheek like rain. I'd forgotten the release of tears. Such a simple, human luxury. Of all the things immortality stole from you, it seemed trivial to miss the tears. Yet with them, I knew my answer. It did matter. There was no question of whether or not I could love Isabel. That same, bright soul lived behind her golden eyes. But it was Bella I longed for, Bella I needed so fiercely the need was its own pain. Perhaps death was what would reunite us... maybe it was wrong to fight.

They came then, interrupting my morbid thoughts. With their green scrubs and warm hands, their cold metal and lights so bright they burned through my eyelids. They brought needles and tubes and ceaseless noise. But with them, she returned. Her beautiful, pale face was never quite out of my sight, the white lights and my blurred vision creating a halo around her dark hair. My angel.

"Stay with me," she whispered, using a brief moment of peace to take my hand, holding it to her cold cheek. I was helpless to refuse her.

And as I slipped back toward the darkness, I knew I would stay, if only because the angel commanded me.