Seducing Ms Swan
AU Post-New Moon. Bella never jumped, Alice never had her vision and Edward never came back. Six years later, Bella is struggling to make a new life for herself as a teacher in Rochester, New York. How will she fare when a very familiar student crops up in her classroom? Will she be able to remain professional, or will old ties get in the way? Edward is convinced that getting Bella back is just a matter of 'persuasion', but Bella isn't prepared to be that cooperative. What's more, she's in the grip of a dark secret which threatens to prevent her from loving ever again. Bella Swan is slipping under...
Thankyou to twike for beta work. Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
14. War in a Waiting Room
Rating 3.7/5 Word Count 5380 Review this Chapter
She falls asleep and all she thinks about is you
She falls asleep and all she dreams about is you
When she's asleep the air she's breathing is for you
You’re why she wants to live
She's not got that much more to give
But it’s too late to realise you’ve made mistakes
One would think that an eight hour plane flight would give me enough time to come up with some sort of plan of action for saving Bella. Hell, in eight hours of doing nothing at all but sit, brood and get angrier and angrier as I added yet MORE ways in which Cullen had screwed up Bella’s life to what seemed like a never ending list, I should have been able to formulate a detailed blueprint of how to run into the hospital, grab Bella, get her to safety and then return to royally kick Cullen’s ass.
The problem was, however, that I had no clue just how hurt Bella really was. Plus, there was a not so little hitch in the fact that the hospital was sure to notice if one of their patients just disappeared from her bed. Also, I couldn’t shake the awful thought that if Cullen had...bitten her... then Bella might not want to be saved. In fact, if that was the case then I would probably be the one who needed saving. So I had nothing.
In other words, I was completely and utterly screwed. Excellent.
And even as I arrived at the hospital and jumped out of the taxi that I had got from Rochester airport, I still had no idea of how I was actually going to confront the vampires. I could feel adrenaline coursing through my veins and my heart was pounding- in other words, my body was raring for a fight. But I knew that I couldn’t just run in there and punch the living daylights out of Edward. Sure, that’s what I wanted to do; Sure, I had pretty much dreamt about the day I finally got to give Cullen some sort of payback for all the shit he had caused for years, but I had to put it aside. I wasn’t an angry, angst ridden, jealous teenager anymore. I was alpha of the pack and a husband, soon to be father.
I had responsibilities, damn it.
But I was here now. There was no turning back; no more thinking time. I had a job to do.
For the second time in less than ten hours I found myself running through a hospital. It was a surreal experience; even though I had crossed two thousand miles it felt like I was still at my starting point, on some sort of crazy hospital treadmill.
I found out where Bella’s room was from a receptionist at the help desk, and then set off running before she could even finish giving me directions. A couple of staircases later, I turned a corner into a wide, empty hallway.
I knew that I had found the right place straight away. A repulsive stench was coming from a room at the end of the corridor. It smelt like a mixture of burnt sugar and rotting flowers and made me want to gag. That had to be a vampire. My werewolf instincts kicked in and I suddenly had an overwhelming urge to kill the enemy, neutralize the threat. My legs suddenly began to move faster and I realized a few seconds too late that I was hurtling towards the blue door at break-neck speed. Somewhere from inside my head a voice was telling me that this was a very stupid idea, but I ignored it. I was a predator, the vamp was my prey and I was going in for the kill.
I burst through the door into a hospital room not unlike Brady’s in Forks. Only of course, this one came with a bonus vampire.
I’d like to be able to say that the minute I laid eyes on Cullen I launched myself at him in a bone crushing tackle and that pretty-boy vampire experienced carnage worthy of Underworld: Evolution. But that, unfortunately, isn’t the truth, because the minute I came into the room I caught sight of Bella. The moment I saw her, I felt my breath catch and my entire body deflate, my anger at Cullen evaporating, forgotten.
She looked so broken. Not just because she was attached up to a bunch of beeping hospital machines, or because a significant amount of her body was covered by bandages and casts- although that stuff obviously didn’t help- but because of the harrowed, gaunt look to her face. It was shocking. Even in sleep, she looked like a completely different person to the one who had come to stay at La Push only a few short months ago. That Bella had been capable of laughter and producing smiles, however weak; this Bella looked like she’d never be able to form a laugh again. It was like someone had taken at her soul with a scouring-pad, beating away at her strength and spirit until nothing was left but this, a lifeless, hollow shadow of a person. Sadness seemed to seep from her; it filled the room like thick smog, suffocating every other emotion. Bella had never been the happiest of people for obvious reasons, but it had never been like this before; not since those dark months following her eighteenth birthday.
And it was these thoughts which led me to finally pay attention to the other person in the room. He was standing at the foot of Bella’s bed, barely a few strides from where I was at the door. The smell was awful.
I’d almost forgotten he was there; I had been so shocked by Bella’s appearance. As I faced him, however, I felt the anger that had slowly built up in the long journey to New York come rushing back, stronger than ever. Although I could see from a glance that Bella was still human and my worst fears had been unfounded, I was certain that Cullen was still somehow involved. In Bella’s hospitalization, her zombie-like appearance, whatever. It was just too much of a coincidence that after over five years of relatively uninterrupted peace, everything had suddenly gone wrong in Bella’s life the moment that Edward was back on the scene.
The vampire looked exactly as I remembered him- and by that, I mean exactly. It was bizarre. Whereas I had grown over a foot in height and developed a body I was still trying to fully catch up on, Cullen looked identical to the last time I had seen him; fairly tall (but obviously nothing compared to me), lean, pale, bronze haired, dark circles beneath his eyes... True, the super-human beauty and physique meant that he looked older than his supposed seventeen years, but there was no way of telling by his appearance that more than half a decade had passed since we had last met. He was watching me, his entire body stiff and on edge. The tension in the room was almost suffocating.
“What did you do to her?” I asked, each syllable costing me a great effort as I tried not to lose my shit completely. I tried to go to Bella’s side, but there was a flash of movement and I found my path blocked by Cullen.
“Don’t come any closer,” he said, his words laced with foreboding. The sound of his voice was like velvet under fingernails and it made me shiver with nausea.
“Get out of my way,” I ordered him, taking a step further. I had to hold my breath to stop me from gagging at his stench. My hands were curling into firsts and I could feel my shoulders trembling with balled up rage.
The vampire shook his head. “If you think I’m letting you anywhere near Bella in this state-“
I almost roared with indignant anger. How fucking DARE he!? Like I’ve ever been a danger to Bella.
“Of course you’re a danger to her- it’s the occupational hazard of being a werewolf, dog.”
I froze. What!? How did he... and then it suddenly came back to me, something Bella had told me a long, long time ago.
Edward can read minds.
I stood there, gaping in absolute horror.
“Yes,” Cullen inserted in a triumphant hiss.
You have to be fucking kidding me! I thought wildly. Edward Cullen, leech and life-destroyer extraordinaire had the power to read my thoughts. Could this situation possibly get any worse?
Get out of the way, I repeated, this time in my mind. I wasn’t sure how his freaky mind-reading ability worked, but in my head I pictured myself grabbing Cullen by the collar and throwing him with full force out of the window, in the hope that he’d get the message. I might have been guilty of inserting a couple of Buffy-style wooden stakes plunged through his chest to my mental image for extra impact, but that’s neither here nor there. All I know is that whatever Cullen saw, it seemed to piss him off.
He took a step towards me in a way that was clearly supposed to be intimidating. I knew that I was probably supposed to be scared, but all I could focus on was that there were now less than three inches of un-vampire-inhabited space before me, and to a seriously misinformed and screwed-up outsider it might have looked like we were about to embrace or something. GROSS, GROSS, GROSS my internal twelve-year-old screamed and I leaned as far away from him as I could without actually stepping away. A muscle in Edward’s face twitched, and I knew he’d heard my thoughts. He seemed to choose to ignore them though (which was a very good thing), just preferring to glare at me. I decided to re-assert my macho-ness by pelting him with another round of inventive Cullen murders.
Just as I was picturing Edward being stuffed into the hospital trash-compactor and then dumped into the Genesee River, I was interrupted by a loud growl. “Are you threatening me, Black?”
Well, duh. “That depends,” I growled back in a voice oozing with scary alpha-male machismo.
“On whether your next words are ‘I’m getting my stench-ridden blood-sucking ass the fuck out of Rochester’.”
As soon as I said it, I knew it was one smart-ass comment too far. Cullen snarled in anger and his hands flew out to grip my throat, but I pre-empted him, bringing my forearms up and jabbing them outwards, knocking his hands away in a basic self-defence maneuver. Surprisingly, he didn’t see it coming. It appeared that his head invading powers were limited as far as I was concerned. That was reassuring.
However just as I was about to test just how big his ‘blind spots’ were by aiming a punch at his pretty face, I heard the sound of people entering the room behind me. Next thing I knew, someone had pinned my arms from behind and spun me around, slamming me up against the wall so that my face was squashed uncomfortably against the plaster.
“What the fuck?!” I swore, “Get the hell off of me!” Even without the foul stink assaulting my nostrils I would have known from the cold hands on my arms that my attacker was a vampire. I struggled against his grip, trying to turn around and see how many leeches I was now up against, but he wouldn’t budge.
“Oh no you don’t,” he said warningly, tightening his hands. From the corner of my eye I could just make out Cullen arguing with tall, blond bloodsucker who looked like he was attempting to calm Edward down.
And then something very odd happened. It was as though a bucket of warm water had been thrown over me; I felt a fuzzy numbness sweep through my body and I suddenly realized that I felt weirdly at ease. All the anger that had been coursing through me just seconds before had mysteriously melted away, leaving me feeling disorientated and confused, as though I’d been sedated. I stopped struggling against my captor and felt my legs wobble slightly. The room was beginning to look very weird, the walls expanding and contracting before my very eyes. I imagined this was what an acid trip would feel like, although I’d never tried the stuff myself. As I was wondering whether Cullen had somehow managed to slip me something, I heard a voice floating somewhere from above my head.
“Alright Jasper, that’s enough. He’ll pass out if you’re not careful.” Almost as soon as the speaker had finished, I felt the fog begin to lift from my mind. I lay there with my eyes closed, still feeling groggy and confused. Above my head, another voice joined the first.
“I have no idea what just happened,” it said, in surprised confusion, “I’ve never seen anyone react like that before.”
“It must be the werewolf physiology,” the first replied. “Their immune system is naturally designed to produce protective barriers against our kind, which is the reason that Alice can’t see him.” Who are they talking about? I wondered. Is he invisible? “I can only assume, Jasper, that when you used your power on him his body’s defences went into overdrive trying to block you, causing certain parts of his brain to shut down. The natural shields he has against us will no doubt grow stronger the more he’s exposed to our presence, so I’d expect that both you and Edward will have less and less effect on Jacob as time goes on.”
It was as though my name was a hook, pulling me from the dark. At the sound of it being spoken aloud, the remnants of the fog in my mind were blown away. And, as I felt my senses sharpen, I suddenly became aware that I was lying face down on the floor, with a room full of vampires peering down at me.
I scrambled to my feet, alarmed and angry at myself. What are you doing, letting your guard down in front of a coven of vampires?! As I stood, the leeches instinctively backed away and fell into a closer-knit group. Some of them assumed a defensive stance, which I mirrored, whilst mentally calculating what I was up against.
There were five of them now. The one who had pinned me to the wall was at the front. He was huge; his muscles strained against his clothes like boulders; no wonder I hadn’t been able to overpower him. Standing slightly behind him to his right was a small black-haired girl and the tall blonde male I had seen speaking to Cullen. Cullen himself was standing in the middle with one other; a man with blond hair and kind, intelligent eyes who was wearing a white coat. On seeing him, it was instantly clear that he was the undisputed leader of the group and, as I looked closer, I realized that I remembered him as the Dr. Cullen; much missed by the inhabitants of Forks and widely acknowledged as the best GP the town’s hospital had ever had. He seemed surprisingly... normal. I had been expecting him to be more... well, vampire-like.
I saw Edward smirk and I scowled. Get out of my mind, bloodsucker.
He narrowed his eyes at that thought and he hissed slightly. I responded by glowering menacingly at him.
Three words, Cullen. Bring. It. On.
Before things could escalate beyond threatening looks, however, doctor McVampy spoke, cutting through the tension.
“Hello Jacob, my name is Carlisle.” What, we’re on first name terms now? Oh Doc, I didn’t know you cared. I didn’t say this out loud, obviously. It was one thing baiting Cullen when it was just me against him; it was a completely different ball game when I was outnumbered five to one. Knowing that I couldn’t trust myself not to say something I might regret, I remained silent, my eyes trained warily on Carlisle.
“I’m one of the doctors who have been treating Bella, and this is Alice, Jasper and Emmett. You seem to already be acquainted with Edward.” I just gaped at him. Was he for real? Apparently unaware of my disbelief, the undead doctor continued: “I know it must be very hard for you to see Bella in her current condition, but as a surgeon responsible for her care, I am going to have to ask you to try and keep calm, especially when you’re in this room. I’m sure you’ll agree that Bella’s safety has to come first.”
I was speechless. I was hanging out in a hospital, surrounded by blood with a bunch of vampires and yet I was apparently the number one threat to Bella’s safety. The injustice of it rankled. I was just going to point this out (phrased in a way that wouldn’t get me killed), when Doc spoke again.
“Do you want to go closer to Bella?” I was shocked by the offer. Was it some kind of trick? But he looked completely sincere; there was nothing in his expression to suggest that he had some sort of ulterior motive in his question. Edward was clearly as shocked as I was by his leader’s words.
“Carlisle,” he said in a low voice, watching me with narrowed eyes, “I don’t think that’s a good idea, what if he loses control?”
I glared at him. “Are you kidding me? What if I lose control? We’re surrounded by blood, and you’re worried about me posing a danger to Bella? I’d like to remind you, leech, that out of all of us here I’m the only one who’s never killed a human.” In truth, that was a just an assumption. By the expressions on their faces, however, I guessed I was right. Cullen was clearly thinking of something to say in retort, but Carlisle interrupted him.
“Just let him through, Edward.” At first Edward looked like he was going to challenge the command, but he must have seen something in Carlisle’s face which changed his mind, because after a few moments he let out a begrudging sigh and gave a curt nod. Unwillingly, with a glance that made it crystal clear how little he trusted me, he moved to the side, his vampire siblings following him.
My path to Bella was now finally clear, and I swept past the bloodsuckers without giving any of them a second glance. Thoughts of anything but Bella were completely sidelined as I moved to her bedside, my heart pounding and chest tight. She looked even worse up close, and I was struck again by her pale, thin face, the dark circles under her eyes, her damaged demeanour.
Had I not known better, I would’ve thought that Cullen had bitten her.
As I thought this, a growl rose in my throat, proving that my desire to murder Cullen, although temporarily shocked out of me by spotting Bella, was rushing back with a vengeance. I turned around and looked accusingly at Cullen. “Did you do this?!” I pointed to Bella’s injuries and death-like appearance.
He shook his head “There was an accident, she-“
I didn’t wait for him to answer. “What was it,” I asked, sneering, “weren’t you satisfied with breaking her heart and screwing up her life? Did you want to come back and finish the job by killing her?” I could feel myself getting angry again and part of me (the part which usually spoke in Carole’s voice) was aware that I was being reckless. After all, picking a fight with a coven of bloodsuckers when I was outnumbered five to one was right up there with the ‘Top Ten Most Stupid Moves Ever’, but I was finding it very hard to care at that precise moment.
“Watch it, buddy,” the big one growled in response to my sentence, taking a menacing step towards me. I let out a derisive, mocking laugh.
“What, am I too close to the mark? Is that what you were doing Edward? Or perhaps you were trying to see whether you can make Bella comatose every time you see her?”
Edward shook his head. To my surprise, he looked stricken by my words, as though I had punched him with them. After a second of confusion I worked out why. As I had said the word ‘comatose’, an image of Bella in her worst post-Cullen-leaving moments had flit into my mind, something which had seemed to shock and pain Edward. I would’ve been shocked too, if I was him. Bella in those days had not been a pretty sight.
Which was why I’d be damned if I let him hurt her again.
“It was nothing to do with Edward,” a voice cut in, causing me to turn my attention from Cullen. It was the black haired girl, and she was looking at me like something she had just stepped in. “Bella was hurt in a motorcycle accident.”
I had heard this already- it was the same story they had fed Charlie- but I just didn’t believe it. I’d thought it over on the plane from Washington, and the more I mulled it over in my head, the less it made sense. Even if I looked at this totally objectively, without taking into account the fact that I hated Cullen with the raging strength of ten thousand fiery suns, I couldn’t believe that Bella would be hurt in a motorbike accident. She was always so careful when she drove and she hadn’t been hurt on that bike since she learned to use the thing. She had trouble reaching forty on a freeway, for Christ’s sake. And yet here I was being told that she just happened to decide to take it out for a spin in a snow storm and just happened to almost die in the process, with absolutely no outside influences whatsoever.
When I said as much out loud, my words were met with total silence. I took that to be a confirmation of guilt. It seemed that Cullen, however, wasn’t going to give in that easily. “Look, it wasn’t like that,” he said, weakly, apparently still stunned by what he had seen in my head.
I was losing patience with this. “Then what was it like? Go ahead; explain to me in your own words just why I’m here in a hospital in Rochester, 3,000 miles from where I’m supposed to be, and Bella looks like she’s been on a trip to Hell and back strapped to a nuclear weapon.”
“Bella was at our house-“
I almost choked in shock. “She WHAT?!” I began, outraged, but I was silenced by the threatening looks of five pairs of vampire eyes.
“-and there was... a misunderstanding between her and myself. Before I could explain, she tried to leave; she’d received your phone calls, and she was going to get on a plane to Washington. I tried to stop her leaving, she refused, and we had an argument. She told me I had no right to tell her what to do; I tried to reason with her and then...” he stopped again, seemingly struggling to continue.
“What?” I asked, curiosity getting the better of me.
“I told her what I’ve been trying to tell her for weeks; I told her the truth.”
Edward took a deep breath before responding. “That I love her, that I’ve always loved her, that I was an idiot to leave her. I’ve spent the last month trying to explain, but it hasn’t been easy. Every time I tried to speak to her she’d cut me off, or else just avoid me altogether. I finally managed to make everything clear last night.”
There was a deadly silence as I just gaped at Cullen, trying to process what he had just said. Finally, I managed to choke out: “You told Bella you loved her?”
I couldn’t help myself; I lunged at the bastard.
Obviously, I never made contact. Before I could get within three inches of his stinking hide I was flung back by the two male leeches, the blonde one then darting forward to grab and restrain me. I was shouting and cursing the whole time. “How could you tell her that?! You had no right! You fucking piece of shit”- I felt the same numb, calming sensation as earlier beginning to creep over me, only this time it was much weaker, so much so that with a bit of concentration I managed to push it back, keeping my anger strong and undiluted. From over my captor’s arm, I snarled at Edward.
“Why?! Why did you have to tell her that you loved her?”
“Because I do, dog.”
“No, you don’t!” How could he even think that, let alone say it? He had no idea what love was; if he had loved Bella, he never would have left her. I thought about Carole; her wavy red hair, the way her cheeks dimpled when she smiled, the sound of her voice when she laughed and the movements she made with her hands when she spoke. I couldn’t imagine ever having the strength to leave her, or ever seeing the need to.
“It’s because I love Bella that I left,” Cullen said defensively.
Oh grow a pair. “Really?” I asked cynically, “How did you work that one out?”
Edward sighed, and from his slightly beaten posture it looked as though he had had to explain this many times before. “I wanted her to be safe; I wanted to remove her from the danger of being associated to me. I was trying to protect her.”
He was trying to protect Bella? He was trying to PROTECT her?! “You DICK!” I shouted, lurching forward again. The blond vamp’s grip, which had loosened somewhat in the lull, suddenly became vice like again. “Do you have any IDEA what she went through? I’ve spent years trying to put her back together, to repair all the damage and shit you caused...” again, I hit him with a couple of images of Bella in the months after he had left. It must have had the desired effect, because he grimaced and hung his head.
“I know, I-“
“No,” I cut him off, “you don’t know,” I paused here, trying to control my breathing as the memories of the darkness of Bella’s zombie months came flooding back. I fixed Cullen dead in the eye, knowing that he could see everything I was thinking. As I spoke, I matched my words with pictures in my mind. “You weren’t there to make her get up and go to school when she was so bad she couldn’t even drag herself out of bed in the morning...” I took another breath. I wondered if this was as hard for Cullen to hear as it was for me to say. “You didn’t get frantic phone calls from Charlie at three a.m. begging you to come over because she was sobbing on the kitchen floor... you didn’t spend every moment on edge, waiting for something small to happen to set her off again. So don’t you dare try and tell me that you understand, or that you’re sorry.”
Edward winced again, at the fresh images of Bella. “I know how much I’ve hurt her,” he finally managed to say, “and I’m going to spend the rest of my existence trying to make it up to her, if she’ll let me.”
I shook my head “There is no way in hell that’s happening. It’s too late to try and make up for what you’ve done; you made your choice, you left.”
“I came back.”
“You didn’t ‘come back’, you ran into her by accident six years after you originally left!”
“But I stayed,” he said in desperate tones.
“What do you expect for that, a medal?!” I asked, disgustedly. It was almost as if he was pleading with me; begging to be forgiven. If he had been anyone else, I might have felt sorry for him, but coming from Cullen it was just pathetic. “Deciding to stroll back and grace us all with your stinking presence over half a decade after destroying Bella doesn’t make you any less of a bastard. In fact, it just makes you worse.”
I was talking about Bella, yet my accusations also rang true for Brady. As far as I was concerned, a significant amount of the guilt for his accident and current situation belonged with the Cullens. As I thought this I was horrified to find that my eyes were pricking at the edges, and jerked my head away. What was I, a kid?
I hoped to God that Cullen hadn’t heard that part, but judging by what the leech said next, no one was listening to my prayers. “Bella told me about what happened with Victoria,” he said quietly, “and I know you don’t want to hear it, but I really am sorry, for everything. I will forever be indebted towards the pack for protecting her when I failed, and if there’s anything I can do to help Brady-“
I growled violently. “Hell no, you do not say his name.”
Edward inclined his head. “I can see why you’d feel that way-“
That made me even angrier. “Oh you can, can you?” I thought I had already told him to stop pretending he understood. “You haven’t got a fucking clue. Imagine it was him,” I pointed at the muscled one, who immediately tensed at my movement, as though he thought I was going to attack. I barely glanced at this, however; my attention was completely fixed on Edward, “Imagine he was the one who got attacked, and you were running to save him the whole time, but deep down you knew that you weren’t going to be fast enough...” I could feel myself beginning to tremble, but I was trying my hardest to keep it together. Surely there were only so many times I could break down in one day. “Imagine,” I continued, “if one of your brothers was tortured into insanity and you saw every moment of it in your mind, felt every blow like it was against your flesh, every scream like it came from your own lips. Imagine he was nearly killed trying to protect the girl YOU loved, that your coven saw you as responsible- even if they denied it- and that you had to live with the guilt for the rest of your life, facing the constant reminder of how you let your brother down every time you looked into the rest of their eyes.”
These were things I’d been thinking for years, but never said aloud, not even to one of the pack. I couldn’t believe I was finally voicing them to Cullen of all people. But there was no avoiding it any more. All the grief and anger I had been trying so hard to fight was really taking hold of me now, clouding my better judgement and throwing caution to the winds. Here, I didn’t have to worry about staying strong for the rest of the pack. I didn’t have to worry about upsetting Carole. The only people around to witness my break down were the Cullens, and what was the point in trying to hide how I felt when Edward could read my mind anyway?
Speaking of which... the vampire had suddenly gone very quiet. I couldn’t restrain a shaky, bitter laugh. Maybe the guilt was finally getting to him. “Have you run out of words, leech? Dried up your well of empty apologies?” I didn’t even know what I was saying anymore. I didn’t know what I thought I was going to gain by taunting him in this way, or even what I wanted him to say in response. Nothing he could say would make this better. I guess I was just so far gone that I wanted to pick a fight, regardless.
And then, suddenly, somebody spoke from behind me with a small voice that was most definitely not Cullen’s.
“J-Jake, is that you?”
I spun around and found a pair of wide brown eyes staring back at me.
Bella had woken up.
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