Text Size Large SizeMedium SizeSmall Size    Color Scheme Black SchemeWhite SchemeGrey SchemePaper Scheme        

The Inevitable

Summary:
-Eclipse in Edward's Point if View- ~*~"It's more Inevitable than the sun rising in the East." -Alice Cullen Midnight Sun~*~


Notes:


14. Understanding

Rating 5/5   Word Count 5642   Review this Chapter

Chapter 13

"Understanding"

She's completely out of it isn't she?'

I looked up to catch Alice's eye in the rear view mirror and then glanced over at Bella again. She was silent and had yet to move from the position she had been in since we left the school parking lot. Her hands were folded tightly together in her lap with her head turned towards the window.

I was becoming more and more frustrated, for I could clearly see she was upset, but I wasn't exactly sure what it was about.

Was she angry with Alice? She had a good reason to be, as my sister was once again pushing a human experience on her with all the expectations she thought were necessary. Sure, I was guilty of doing the same thing but I had learned from my mistakes. I now knew what was acceptable and what drove Bella's nerves to the edge.

Or maybe she was just trying to figure out the gift she had...well was getting us for graduation. That didn't seem to fit though, her body was too tense...She knew all she had to do was ask me and I would tell her. It couldn't be that.

Then what?

My eyes slid to her hands, they were clasped so tightly together that her knuckles and fingertips were white. My hand automatically reached out and as my skin touched hers, she jumped. Her eyes flashed to mine and I could clearly see that it was not the coldness of my touch that startled her.

Her face was paler than it had been when we left the school and there was something in her eyes, something I couldn't quite make out...it almost seemed to be panic. Then before I could make a clear observation she gave me a forced smile and turned back towards the window. I sighed, gently prying her palms apart so I could hold one of her warm hands securely in my own.

I glared up into the mirror again, this time with accusation. Was this whole party business really necessary? There was too much going on at the moment. Alice knew how Bella hated being in the spotlight, especially if she was pushed there.

Alice stared back her eyes were wide and innocent.

What?'

"You know what," I said too low for Bella to hear. Though I doubted she would have heard even if I had spoken at human level, she was too absorbed in whatever was running through her mind.

Edward' Alice thought, somewhat sternly. ‘You actually think this is over the party.'

I raised my eyebrows.

Oh comeon, you saw her reaction when she looked at that poster. She had no idea it was this late in the year already' Alice shook her head sadly and glanced at Bella. My eyes followed.

So it was the date that had Bella upset?

Of course this reason would make sense with anyone else if they were in Bella's shoes...Graduation was right around the corner dragging with it something entirely different.

The thought made me feel sick and every time I passed one of those stupid posters in the halls of the school I wanted to rip it from the wall. The constant reminders made the gnawing dread in the back of my head all the more difficult to deal with it.

Bella's reaction when she realized it was indeed June fourth did surprise me. But mostly it was amusing... because I had tied it to the fact that she was worried she didn't have time to figure out our gift or anxious over the upcoming party she was being forced into.

Though the approaching date scared and angered me, and would most likely do the same with any other person facing the same thing, it was the last thing I expected Bella to be upset over. From what I had seen she seemed to be more upset over the extended wait than anything else. She was so eager for what was coming and she had wanted it for so long now...the image in Alice's visions was still there, clear and strong. Bella was dead set on her path...her choice.

I scowled out the windshield watching the rain streak down the glass while my free hand followed the memorized curves of the road. Though Bella's hand was still warm in mine it was a bit too cool to be normal, and it was still too stiff. I rubbed my thumb gently across her soft skin, but even that didn't help.

Talk to her' Alice thought as she got out of the car in front of our house. I nodded slightly.

"See you later Bella"

Alice's only response to her farewell was a vacant glance and a small smile that didn't reach the eyes.

When we pulled into Charlie's driveway the burning desire to ask what was wrong was unbearable. But I couldn't find my voice. I was becoming apprehensive with what this was really about...the only thing that made sense didn't make any sense at all.

I was lost...her silent mind once again pulling up unexplainable blanks.

So I held my tongue as I opened Bella's door and walked quickly with her through the rain. Once inside it worried me even more when it seemed she was still unaware of her surroundings

Why wouldn't she speak to me?

Why couldn't I speak?

Not sure of what to do I led her to the sofa and pulled her down next to me.

She didn't protest.

I waited.

And waited.

I Never took my eyes from her face as she stared out the window. Just like in the car it was expressionless, there was only one change I could clearly see, and that was as time went on it grew impossibly paler.

I was vaguely aware that the rain had slackened a bit and the slight shadows in the small living room were growing larger across the floor. She had not moved an inch, I could not remember her ever sitting still for so long. I began to worry that she was sick... she was still too pale.

When I realized I could no longer hear her breathing and I began to see the white pallor to her lips I finally broke. My sanity wasn't going to last much longer if this continued...I reached out and cupped her face in my hands, turning her to face me.

"Would you please tell me what you are thinking?" I nearly begged in a strained voice, she had yet to take a breath "Before I go mad?"

I waited for her eyes to focus on mine...waited for her to inhale.

Five very long seconds went by and I could feel the bubble of panic building in my chest.

"Your Lips are white. Talk, Bella"

And for god sakes breathe.

She finally acknowledge my presence and the fact that I was speaking. Her eyes focused on mine at the same time her warm breath blew into my face. I relaxed slightly...at least she was getting oxygen.

She swallowed, staring at me for a moment before she finally spoke. "The date took me off guard..." she whispered "That's all"

I believed that much...but she was editing. There was much more to this than I had originally thought. Obviously she could see the disbelief on my face because she went on in a rush, "I'm not sure what to do...what to tell Charlie...what to say...how to..." The words trailed off into a hoarse whisper and she fell silent.

"This isn't about the party?" I asked. I had to make sure, though I now knew it wasn't... or perhaps a part of me was just hoping it was.

"No, but thanks for reminding me" she scowled.

I continued to hold her pale face so she couldn't look away. As I examined her wide and somewhat pleading eyes I quickly ran over her response to today's date...applied her words to her reactions from earlier today.

--

"It's the fourth? Of June? Are you sure?"Bella's eyes were wide and incredulous as she stared from the poster to Alice and then back again.

"It can't be!"she nearly shouted.

Then as comprehension dawned on her face, the pink flush quickly ran from her cheeks

When she spoke again it was barley a whisper "How did that happen?"

--

It wasn't until this moment, as I remembered her words and tied them to the ones she had just spoken, that I fully understood.

At school her eyes had been shocked and dazed ...and, though I hadn't noticed it at the time...scared.

But now I did see it, for that's all that was left...worry and fear.

Realization washed over me and it was more painful than I would have expected.

It was what I wanted all along anyway right?

I was getting what I wanted...well what I wanted for her.

So why did the whispered words hurt so much on their way out?

"You're not ready."

"I am," she said immediately. It was a reflex reaction for her whenever this subject was mentioned, but I knew better now, knew that this time it was completely different.

I looked at her doubtfully and she sighed. It was clear she knew she was lying, both to herself and to me.

That she could not deny, not anymore.

"I have to be"

Anger flared inside me...it wasn't aimed at her but at everything and everyone else. "You don't have to be anything." I nearly growled

A familiar fear filled her eyes and hated seeing it yet again...I wish one day would pass where I wouldn't see that flash of panic in her eyes.

"Victoria, Jane, Caius, whoever was in my room..."

"All the more reason to wait" I cut her off, some of my frustration coming out in my words.

"That doesn't make any sense Edward!"

I exhaled slowly. Her face was still in my hands so I squeezed it gently, rubbing my thumb lightly across her cheekbone, trying to calm her. I spoke slow and soft, I had to make her understand. "Bella. Not one of us had a choice. You've seen what it's done...to Rosalie especially. We've all struggled, trying to reconcile ourselves with something we had no control over. I won't let it be that way for you. You will have a choice."

"I've already made my choice," She mumbled and I could feel her strain slightly against my hands as she tried to look down. I refused to let her break eye contact though, refused to let go of her face...not until she understood.

"You're not going through this because you have a sword hanging over your head," I said a little more fiercely, but I kept my voice soft and steady despite the ache in my chest. "We will take care of the problems, and I will take care of you. When we're through it, and there is nothing forcing your hand, then you can decide to join me, if you still want to. But not because you are afraid. You won't be forced into this."

I wondered when the fight inside my head would end... the struggle that had been there from the very beginning. I wanted her to join me just as desperately as I wanted her not to.

"Carlisle promised" she said quietly, but I could hear the defeat in her voice "After graduation"

"Not until you're ready" I repeated "And definitely not while you feel threatened."

I waited to see if her stubborn nature was going to keep her comebacks flowing. When nothing else followed, I leaned forward and kissed her softly on the forehead. "There. Nothing to worry about" I said, finally moving my hands from her face. I let them slide down her neck, her arms, and then to her hands. They were balled together in her lap again, and as I had done in the car I pulled them apart and held them in both of mine.

She laughed, but it was too bitter to make me smile. "Nothing but impending doom"

I squeezed her hands."Trust me"

It was amazing that after everything I had put her through, after all lies I had spoken, her words held no doubt. "I do"

I continued to look at her, but she had dropped her eyes. There was something else... I could see it, feel it in her still tense body. I was about to speak when she looked back up at me...

"Can I ask you something?" Her voice was slightly hesitant and her eyes cautious.

"Anything"

She opened her mouth to speak, hesitated, and then closed it again.

There was usually only two reasons Bella would bite her lip... either she was nervous or she was thinking something over very carefully. Right now it seemed to be a little of both. When she finally spoke, it was fast and rushed and I knew immediately that it was not what she had intended to say.

"What am I getting Alice for graduation?"

I chuckled despite myself. "It looked like you were getting us both concert tickets..."

"That's right" she cut me off. Her voice was so full of relief I couldn't help the smirk that formed on my face.

"The concert in Tacoma. I saw an ad in the paper last week, and I thought it would be something you'd like, since you said it was a good cd." She was rambling now and I knew that wherever her thoughts were it was not on concert tickets.

"It's a great idea" I said with a smile, "Thank you" Though it upset me that she felt the need to spend money on me when I couldn't even mention buying something for her. That was something I was still working on, but I was in no hurry, I had plenty of time to get her accustomed to the idea.

"I hope it's not sold out" she mumbled, her face still distracted.

"It's the thought that counts. I ought to know" I said in an attempt to get her to smile. It didn't work, she was once again staring down at our hands. I gave hers a gentle squeeze. "There's something else you meant to ask"

She still wouldn't look up at me, but I say the corners of her mouth fall. "You're good,"

"I have lots of practice reading your face...Ask me."

Before I could reach to lift her chin up, like I intended to, Bella closed her eyes and leaned into me, burying her face in my chest. This surprised me, but I released her hands and wrapped my arms willing around her, pulling her closer. I felt my brow furrow as I waited, resting my chin on her hair. What could possibly be wrong?

"You don't want me to be a vampire" The whisper was very quiet, but the pain that laced into every word cut deeply

I breathed out slowly and closed my eyes. I was glad she had hidden her face, I didn't want to see the hurt on her face as I answered truthfully.

"No I don't"

I didn't...she was too beautiful, too innocent.

Bella was an angel...an angel with the most amazing soul I had, and would, ever come into contact with.

I didn't deserve her, pure and simple.

I had no right to place the claim I had already placed on her, much less the right to make that claim more permanent.

Compared to that, to her soul, I was nothing. I could find small justices in staying with her now, staying for as long as she needed and wanted me, but no matter how hard I tried to make it seem right in my mind I couldn't find a single thread of justice in making her like me. Because there was no redemption for something like that...for something so very selfish.

If I had no right to be with her, even for a small amount of time, then who was I to risk her soul?

A soulless angel made absolutely no sense to me.

It was impossible.

I swallowed and bit back the agony so that my voice would not betray the expression on my face. "That's not a question," I said as lightly as I could manage.

"Well..." she paused and took a breath "I was worrying about...why you feel that way."

"Worrying" I said in shock. She knew why I felt the way I did, I had told more than once that I couldn't take her soul, that I wouldn't condemn her to a lifeless existence when without me she could have it all.

"Would you tell me why?" she went on "The whole truth, not sparing my feelings?"

I pressed my lips to the top of her head, shutting my eyes. "If I answer your question..." I mumbled quietly into her hair. "... will you then explain your question?"

She kept her face hidden from me but I felt her nod.

I took a deep breath, ignoring the scorching burn in my throat and stomach as pulled her closer. The unimaginable warmth surrounded me while her heart pulsed strongly against my chest in a perfect rhythm...beating for us both. This, more than anything let the barrier fall, allowed the dread to leak out.

All the worries and doubts that haunted my mind relentlessly as watched her sleep, watched her laugh and smile...as I watched her live, began to poor from my mouth.

When the flood started there was no stopping it.

"You could do so much better, Bella. I know that you believe I have a soul, but I'm not entirely convinced on that point, and to risk yours.... For me to allow this- to let you become what I am just so I'll never have to lose you- is the most selfish act I can imagine. I want it more than anything for myself. But for you, I want so much more. Giving in...it feels criminal. It's the most selfish thing I'll ever do, even if I live forever."

I lowered my head slightly, letting her soft hair caress my cheek. My eyes squeezed together tightly as the painful yearning ripped through me...the unbearable desire that my dead heart would somehow beat again with the help of hers. "If there were any way for me to become human for you...no matter what the price was, I would pay it."

Anything.

I would give anything...do anything...suffer anything... if only I could give her that one miracle. If only I could give her a full, normal, human life with me.

Even as I thought this I knew it would never be enough for me, because even the thought of forever never felt like enough time. But it would be the right thing...the best thing.

All except for the simple fact that it was impossible... just like the thought of her soul being burned from her body, it was impossible.

As we continued to sit curled together I stayed silent, letting my words sink in.... hoping that they would sink in.

After a few moments I felt a soft pressure against my chest, almost as if Bella's cheek had lifted.

Was she actually smiling?

"So...it's not that you're afraid you won't...like me as much when I'm different..." She finally mumbled into my shirt. "....when I'm not soft and warm and I don't smell the same? You really want to keep me, no matter how I turn out?"

The air rushed from my chest and I was momentarily speechless.

How could she possibly even think such a thing? Not only think but worry.

"You were worried I wouldn't like you?" I demanded, opening my eyes to stare at the dim light shining across her hair. At first, there was anger and my words were hard. But then as what she had really said sank in, as the absolutely ridiculous meaning of it all washed over me, a laugh burst from my mouth before I could stop it.

"Bella, for a fairly intuitive person, you can be so obtuse." I pulled her back slightly dipping my head so that my eyes were level with hers. My voice was full of disbelief... and try as I might I couldn't help the humor that mixed with my words. "I don't think you realize how much easier it will be for me, Bella...When I don't have to concentrate all the time on not killing you."

I could only imagine what it would be like to be able to caress her cheek without fear....imagine how it would be when I could kiss her freely, when my lips would form into hers and I could finally pour forth all I felt for her into one moment without caution. When I could show her what she meant to me instead of just telling her.

Bella's eyes were intent on my face just as mine were on hers. She was taking in every word, she was actually serious...how long had she'd been worrying over this? Of all the things she had on her plate at the moment she was worried that I wouldn't want her when she was no longer human.

Sure there were plenty of things I was going to miss but that would change nothing...not her and the way she captivated me, and it sure as hell wouldn't change the way I felt about her. That was impossible.... physically and emotionally.

I thought she knew, I thought I had said it more than once and in so many different ways. But as I looked into her eyes and saw the relief, I realized maybe she didn't know, maybe she needed to hear it again more clearly.

"Certainly there are things I'll miss..." I explained softly, concentrating on the warm brown of her eyes "This for one..." I touched the soft skin of her cheek, lightly stroking down to the edge of her jaw. Immediately heat flooded under my touch, spreading a beautiful deep pink beneath my fingertips.

I laughed softly, trying to keep the sadness I felt building up from showing, because her blush was not the only thing to react to my touch. The familiar thud of her heart accelerated, filling the room and pounding in my ears. The sadness intensified at the sound...

"And the sound of your heart...It's the most significant sound in my world, I'm so attuned to it now I swear I could pick it out from miles away"

I swallowed, pushing the sudden sorrow back down so my voice would be strong and sure...Bella deserved the truth. "But neither of these things matter" I took her still flushed face in my hands again. "This...you." I whispered fiercely "That's what I'm keeping. You'll always be my Bella....You'll just be a little more durable." I smiled softly as she sighed, finally relaxing into my hands.

As her eyes closed I felt the small smile slide from my face.

If Bella could pull down some of her barriers and ask me something that had clearly been bothering her then surely I could do the same. Even though it amused me the way she would cringe at the word fiancée or wrinkle her nose at the mention of a wedding, there was still that small part of me the broke every time I was rejected.

Though technically I had only asked her marry me once it still felt like everyone one her flinches and frowns was a refusal.

How could she possibly be ready and able to give her life, risk her soul to become one of the damned, and yet so hesitant and clearly frightened to be my wife?

I pushed back irritating doubt and pulled up the courage I needed. "Now will you answer a question for me?" I asked stroking her warm face again with my thumb. "The whole truth not sparing my feelings?"

Her eyes flew open. They were wide and full of surprise. "Of course"

I thought over my question trying to find the right way to ask. I decided to continue with using her own words. 5

"You don't want to be my wife"

Saying the words together like that...out loud, while looking into her beautiful face all at the same time hurt more than I thought it would. I controlled my facial features and waited for her usual response to the word ‘wife'.

Her heart skipped dramatically and then kick into overdrive. Her face went pale again and I could easily see the moisture building up on her hairline.

Though I expected this, I had yet to understand it.

Her peculiar reaction to this particular subject was like any other human facing their own personal phobia, but instead of heights or spiders it was words like marriage, wife, or rings.

I continued to hold her face, staring and waiting. She seemed too terrified to try and break away or take her wide eyes from mine. I tried to stay patient but this subject was something that had been eating at me...I wanted, no needed to know why.

"That's not a question" she finally chocked out in a whisper.

I bit back a sigh of frustration and dropped her face. This time it was I who could no longer hold eye contact. I picked up her left hand and began rubbing the tips of my fingers down her knuckles and fingers.

"I was worrying about why you felt that way" My touch lingered a little longer on her empty third finger. If only she knew how badly I wanted the ring that was in my room right now to be on this beautiful hand. The curiosity of how my mother's ring would look against Bella's ivory skin was so strong and demanding...almost as strong as the urge to bend on one knee and ask the way I knew I should have in the first place.

Her voice was still a whisper when she finally spoke "That's not a question either"

I closed my eyes. "Please, Bella" The doubt was growing as her feeble attempts at stalling continued.

"The truth?" I could just barely hear the words this time. Her heart was pounding more rapidly and her palms were becoming moist as I held them. Her reactions were not helping with my fears....I now wished I had never asked in the first place.

Though I wasn't sure if I really wanted the answer now, I nodded anyway, still not looking up..."Of course. I can take it, whatever it is" I would have to take it. As long as it was the truth...I needed the truth...no matter how bad it hurt or how bad I didn't want to believe it.

Bella inhaled shakily. "You're going to laugh at me" Her voice was strong now and very sure.

The shock of her statement alone made me lift my eyes back up to hers. "Laugh?" I stared at her doubtfully. "I cannot imagine that." I wasn't sure what my reaction was going to be but I knew for a fact I would not be laughing.

"You'll see" she said under her breath.

Her next reaction was even more surprising than her words. It happened so quickly I was taken off guard, which was saying something, because it had been a long time since my breath caught at the scent of her blood.....a very long time since my muscles locked into place due to the venom filling my mouth.

And though it only took me a mere fraction of a second to relax and swallow, it still shocked me..... Bella's face went from stark white to bright red in record time. If the sight wasn't so beautifully breathtaking, filling her face with a brilliant glow from neck to hairline, I would have been worried about her health. Surely that much blood rushing up that quickly could not be good.

"Okay fine" She snapped angrily "I'm sure this will sound like some big joke to you, but really! It's just so...so....so embarrassing!"

Before I could even think, much less open my mouth to question what she could possibly mean, Bella pushed herself forward again. Her face hit my stone chest a little too hard for my liking, but it seemed she hadn't hurt herself. The heat of the blush still on her face seeped through my thin shirt and spread up into my chest. Despite the situation and the utter confusion of the moment I relished the feeling as I wrapped my arms around her again.

It felt like we were going in strange circles, and I couldn't quite keep up. "I'm not following you" I said honestly.

What was so embarrassing?

She tilted her head back and when I looked down to meet her gaze her eyes were frustrated and angry. Then her own flood began...

"I'm not that girl Edward. The one who gets married right out of high school like some small town hick who got knocked up by her boyfriend!" She continued on all in the same breath and I was slightly impressed with her lung capacity. "Do you know what people would think? Do you realize what century this is? People don't just get married at eighteen! Not smart people, not responsible, mature people! I wasn't going to be that girl! That's not who I am...." She finally trailed off, whether it was because she had ran out of words to say or oxygen to say them I wasn't sure.

"That's all?" I asked cautiously, staring into her still red face, trying to decipher if there was something she wasn't saying.

"Isn't that enough?" She said shrilly.

I was beyond confused, I thought there was so much more to this...

"It's not that you were..." I struggled for the right words. "...more eager for immortality itself than just for me?"

She stared at me for half a second, her eyes uncomprehending. Then out of nowhere she burst into uncontrollable laughter. She was practically hysterical as she broke away from my arms and bent over herself, holding her sides.

My body was frozen in shock.

"Edward" She was gasping for breath now, but it was clear she couldn't get enough control to speak any clearer. "And here ...I always...thought that...you were...so much....smarter than me!"

I unfroze, reaching out to pull her towards me again before she fell to the floor. The laughter that bubbled up my chest was un-stoppable. Her mirth was too contagious...too beautiful. And the relief that filled me as I laughed along with her seemed to make all my worries very dim and very childish.

"Edward" she said again, a few chuckles escaping her mouth as she tried to compose herself. "there's no point to forever without you. I wouldn't want one day without you"

"Well that's a relief" I murmured to myself. My arms tightened around her and I buried my face in her hair again...making the odd circle complete.

Who was I to doubt her or Jasper? How many times have they both told as much?

"Still..." Bella said her voice was serious now "It doesn't change anything"

I knew that, but now that I knew the truth I could wait as long as she needed to...besides that's what I wanted. I wanted her to wait, to make sure she had thought through everything first. Every consequence and every sacrifice.

"It's nice to understand, though. " I said "And I do understand your perspective Bella, truly I do. But I'd like it very much if you tried to consider mine"

I pulled her back to meet her now serious eyes. "You see, Bella, I was that boy." I said softly. "In my world, I was already a man. I wasn't looking for love...no, I was far too eager to be a solider for that; I thought of nothing but the idealized glory of the war that they were selling prospective draftees then...but if I had found...."

I paused thinking over my words and then went on correcting myself.. "I was going to say if I had found someone, but that won't do. If I had found you, there isn't a doubt in my mind how I would have proceeded."

She was looking at me with an add expression....somewhere between horror and wonder.... her eyes wide. I went on anyway. "I was that boy, who would have...as soon as I discovered that you were what I was looking for...gotten down on one knee and endeavored to secure your hand. I would have wanted you for eternity, even when the word didn't have quite the same connotation" The picture my own words triggered inside my head made the wide grin break out across my face. I heard Bella's breath catch in her throat.

I waited.

Nothing.

"Breath Bella"

She took a deep breath and exhaled.

"Can you see my side Bella? Even a little bit?"

Her eyes unfocused and she seemed to be seeing something far away. What I wouldn't give to see what was running through her mind this very second. I would be happy for even a small, fraction of a glimpse. Of course I received nothing, and I knew asking would be pointless.

After a moment Bella seemed to come back to the present. She shook her head. "The thing is Edward....in my mind, marriage and eternity are not mutually exclusive or mutually inclusive concepts."

"But on the other hand" I said trying my best not to smile "You will soon be leaving time behind you altogether. So why should the transitory customs of one local culture affect the decision so much?"

Her lips pursed, but I could see the flash of humor in her eyes. "When in Rome?"

I laughed and felt satisfied when I saw her lips twitch. At least I came close to making her smile.

"You don't have to say yes or no today, Bella." I said, brushing a strand of hair back behind her ear. "It's good to understand both sides though, don't you think?"

Her eyes narrowed slightly, "So your condition...?"

"Is still in effect" I clarified quickly "I do see your point Bella, but if you want me to change you myself..."

"Dum, dum, dah-dum"

"Exactly"