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Finished. Six years after Breaking Dawn, a brutal murder is committed near Forks. When called in the middle of the night, Charlie Swan rushes off to do his civic duty and protect the public. Three hours later, he returns home with a new ward: the only survivor of the double homicide. From the beginning, it is clear that the poor thing needs a new start, a new life- and someone to save her from her old one, especially when ghosts from the past resurface. And, with Nessie determined to overcome her own demons, the two realize that friendship can come from the strangest places.

All of this belongs to Stephenie Meyer. Duh…

6. Chapter 6

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Chapter Six--

Miserable at best was the easiest and most accurate way to describe the current life of Iris Potter. She quickly decided that she hated all of the Cullens and their need to suffocate her. She had lost count of how many times Esme had wrung her hands and fluffed her pillow. Rosalie liked to scowl at her but was always the first to offer to get her something. Nessie’s presence was the worst, however. She always sat by Iris’s bed: petting her head, tucking the thin hospital sheets down time and time again, and then trying to shove Advil down her throat every time Iris grunted in pain. It seemed to shock them every time she moved and a fresh wave of pain coursed throughout her body. What did they expect, the two gunshot wounds to not hurt? She was well aware of the fact that every time she shifted positions, the wounds felt the need reopen and bleed, and that, being vampires, it was most likely difficult to remain the room with her. That was their own fault. She was making it quite clear that she did not want them around, and still they stayed, like a swarm of mosquitoes, annoying the hell out of her.

Her entire body hurt, and all she wanted to do was go to sleep. Yet, she seemed to be so tired that her body could not sleep. She ached and hurt, and truly, secretly, she wanted to die. Just so it would all end. She was truly miserable.

“How are you feeling today, dear?” Esme asked as she entered the room. In her arms was another large vase of flowers. Each of the Cullen women felt the need to bring flowers every time they visited her. It seemed to Iris as if there were a competition to see who could bring her the largest and most ostentatious arrangement.

It would have been so much easier if she responded to them. She was too proud and obstinate to ever do such a thing. She vowed to never utter a word to any of the Cullens, Nessie included. The girl could take her attempts at friendship and shove it. Iris wanted none of it. She thought that she did, briefly thought that companionship might make her life less hurtful, but she quickly realized that it wouldn’t. So rather than tolerate the girl, Iris was determined to push her away. The Cullens probably knew about her family history and wanted to keep a member of their family safe.

“I think that she is doing better,” Nessie said with a smile.

Esme grinned widely. She looked like Marilyn Monroe with longer, dark hair--she truly was that beautiful. She looked so classic. Iris thought that she was easily the most beautiful out of all of the Cullen women, just by the natural grace and beauty that she had. It did not look like she worked at being beautiful like Rosalie did, nor did it appear that she tried to mask her beauty with fashion like Alice. And she certainly did not seem to dress like an old woman they way Bella sometimes did. “That is wonderful news, Iris. I talked to Carlisle earlier and he said that you should be able to go home by the end of the week.”

Iris looked at Esme darkly. How dare that woman imply that Chief Swan’s house was her home! It most certainly was not. Iris hated Forks with every fiber in her body. Ever since she had first come there, nothing had gone right. Forks was Hell on earth as far as she was concerned. And, wasn’t Dr. Cullen supposed to keep her medical condition and stuff a secret? It was confidential, for her and her file to know only. Nessie patted her hand in a comforting manner, trying to placate her temper. Iris thought about how much she hated her parents, and it was only barely that Nessie’s soothings had no effect.

There was a soft knock on the door. Iris looked impassively at the handsome Dr. Cullen, who stood in the doorway, looking regretfully at her. Iris could not help the wave of fear that crashed over her. This was it. He was going to tell her that she was dying. Her body had rejected the many blood transfusions that she had had. She was going to die of blood loss and there was nothing anyone could do to stop it.

“Hello, Miss Potter,” the doctor seemed to grimace as he said her name, “How are you doing today?”

“We think that she is doing much better,” Nessie intervened before her could utter silence. “She hasn’t been in as much pain.” Iris looked at Nessie. How had the girl known that?

Dr. Cullen nodded his head. “That is good to know.” He looked around the room for a moment, “I’ve spoken with Dr. Kessler. He’s a good man, was my intern before I left for Montana. With his approval, I am observing your case, make sure that everything is all correct, so to speak.”

Iris scoffed. She remained characteristically silent. Dr. Cullen seemed unperturbed.

“Your body is adjusting fine to the transfusions. You have had six of them over the past two days, so you will feel sluggish and sleepy. Your limbs will be heavy for quite some time, and you will obviously be in pain for several weeks. Dr. Kessler will have you come back in for several check-ups over the next six months, and Charlie will have a few as well.”

Iris did not respond. Nessie smiled brightly at her relative. “Okay, Carlisle. We’ll make sure that she gets all of the appointments scheduled.”

Dr. Cullen grinned. “Thank you, my dear. Also,” he looked at Iris almost fearfully, “Chief Swan wants to speak with you as soon as possible. Should I have Dr. Kessler arrange for him to be brought in?”

An awkward silence settled over them. She half expected Nessie or someone else interject their opinion, no matter how she felt. Yet nearly a minute passed as everyone stared intent at Iris, waiting for her decision. Finally, she sighed. “Why does it have to be arranged? Can’t he just stroll on in here?”

Dr. Cullen and Esme shared a look of exasperation. Iris groaned. She hated it when adults tried to speak over her head. She never ever missed it when someone did. It was aggravating to be treated like a child. Dr. Cullen sighed. “He hit his head very hard. You were right in your hypothesis that he had a very serious concussion. They won’t want him on his feet for a while. That could cause dizzy spells and feinting, which would only prolong his infirmities, perhaps worsening them. He would have to be wheeled in,”

Iris groaned. This was going to turn into a huge hullabaloo. She tossed back her covers. “I’ll just go see him, them.”

“Whoa whoa whoa whoa,” Nessie said, pushing her back down into the bed. Iris gasped as pain flooded her body. “You aren’t going anywhere in your condition. And can we get her some more morphine? I want her to be numb, Carlisle.”

Iris grinned at the way little Nessie peremptoriously ordered everyone around--especially a man who was so much bigger than she. It was cleansed off of her face whenever Alice caught sight of it. The ebony haired vampire smiled back at her. Iris scowled. Dr. Cullen seemed to be suddenly happy.

He smiled genuinely at her and declared, “Excellent. I shall have Dave see to it immediately. It would be unfair of me to keep you two apart after you so valiantly saved his life.” He sounded like it pained him to say that.

Iris rolled her eyes. “Whatever,”

“Will you be awake later on today?” he asked.

“She doesn’t sleep,” Alice said. All heads turned to look at a flushing Iris. She was annoyed that the spiky-haired woman for outing her, though they weren’t very bright if they did not realize that she was sleep deprived. The bags under her eyes gave her instant eyeliner. It was prettily spooky.

“Do you need a sleep-aid?” Dr. Cullen asked gently.

“I’m fine. I don’t like to sleep,” Iris snapped back.

He looked at her, not believing her. “Nurse,” he yelled out the door. A moment later, a middle aged woman in white scrubs bustled in. She and Dr. Cullen quietly conferred for a moment. She reached into a drawer, retrieving a syringe. “What are you doing?” Iris demanded as she flicked the needle. “No, I demand that you stop. He is not my doctor. You don’t have to do what he says! I demand that you stop, now!” The nurse injected the needle into the I.V.

“Please,” Iris begged, “Don’t. I don’t want to sleep! Please!” She sobbed, surprising the entire room with her intensity as salty tears streamed down her face like twin waterfalls. “Don’t make me sleep,”

The nurse gave her a comforting smile. “Sweet dreams, dear,”

She woke up eleven hours later to Chief Swan holding her hand, stroking it with his thumb gently. She drew it away, looking at him with fearful eyes. He held up his one hand, surrendering. “Sorry, Iris,” he said, “I got carried away there,”

“You can say that again,” she snorted. It felt odd to be talking. Her voice was hoarse and her throat was sore. Yet the look in Chief Swan’s eyes made her feel a little bit better. It seemed like he needed to hear the sound of her voice before he could feel better.

Chief Swan chuckled. “I was lost in nostalgia. You reminded me of my daughter…Bella. She was so clutzy and unlucky when she was younger. She was in the hospital every other week it seemed.” He glanced at her, and looked down at the rail of the bed, “I’m sorry, I’m boring you with my memories. I’m sure you don’t care,”

Iris shrugged. “It’s two in the morning. I don’t have anything better to do.” That was the complete truth. It was not like she could get up and leave if he bored her. Though, she mused, she could pretend to fall asleep. That opened up the possibility of him staying a while to watch her sleep, and Iris did not like it when people watched her sleep. He grinned at her. She knew that it was her cue to continue talking. About what, she was not sure.

Biting her lip, she looked at him, “I heard from Dr. Cullen and Nessie that you were adamant about giving me blood. We apparently have the same blood types.”

Chief Swan grinned at her. “We do seem to have many things in common.”

Iris gave him the only smile that he had ever seen her wear. It would be the only smile on her face for a long time. “Like what?”

“Our hair color. No one else in my family has it. So that makes us unofficial family members. And neither of us like lasagna, tomatoes or fish.”

“How did you know that?” Iris questioned, her gaze heating up.

Chief Swan shrugged. “I’ve lived with you for three weeks now. I pick up on nuances like that.”

“Oh,” Iris grunted, mildly surprised. “I wouldn’t’ve picked you to be the observant one,”

Chief Swan shrugged his shoulders. “Don’t judge an old book by his cover,”

Iris did not smile at the lame joke. Chief Swan turned tomato red. That was another thing that they had in common. They turned bright red under stress as well as embarrassment. “Is Bella an only child?” she asked politely. The man had come to talk to her after all, she reasoned, the least she could do was entertain him.

“She thinks so,” Charlie said with a regretful voice.

Iris looked at Chief Swan, waiting eagerly for a juicy bit of gossip. If though she was reserved, she still liked to hear other people’s drama-filled lives. He seemed eager to change the subject. “What about you?” Chief Swan asked her. “Tell me about your family,”

Iris smiled. “My dad was named Brent Potter. He was a Green Beret and he served two tours in Iraq, leaving my mom, my brother and me home alone. He was really nice, and athletic. Every Thanksgiving, we would have this huge football game, my brother and I against him. My mom hated us and everything that we did. She really never liked anything that we did with my dad,” Iris mused. The more she thought about it, the more she remembered how her mother would scream and rant and rave about her father, to her father, at her father. It was weird. For two people who were supposed to be madly in love, they never showed it.

“My mom was a real bitch,” Iris added as an afterthought, not really caring for the crassness of her statement. Blunt and truthful was her way of speech. She saw the flash of pain that crossed Chief Swan’s face when she so carelessly degraded her mother. Iris reasoned that he had known Karin at some point in his life, and found her to be quite the opposite. It would not have shocked Iris; everyone outside the family that Karin Potter was an angel sent from Heaven to watch over the world. “We never really got along,” Iris mused softly. “She hated me hanging out with my dad so much, and acted like I was betraying her by doing it. I don’t know why. Maybe she thought I was going to be a mommy’s girl when she was pregnant.”

“So you were a daddy’s girl, then?” Chief Swan asked in a strangled voice.

Iris looked at him curiously, but answered him nonetheless. There was nothing pointedly wrong with his question, but the way he asked it sounded odd. “I got along better with him, yeah. But my favorite was Micah, my older brother.”

It happened so suddenly that it even shocked Iris. As soon as the words left her mouth, she began to sob. Her entire body shook with spasms as she wrapped her arms around her shoulders and cried. Snot ran out of her nose as the tears rolled down her eyes. She was in pain…so much fucking pain, but she didn’t care. It was better to feel the pain in her body than to admit that Micah was dead. Micah couldn’t be dead. He was her saviour, her protector, her knight in shining armor, her brother. He couldn’t be dead. It just wasn’t fair. And everyone would think he was a murderer. That he killed their parents out of malicious intent. But he wasn’t a murder! He wasn’t! He was protecting her!

“Ssshh,” Chief Swan tried to comfort her. “It’s okay, Iris. It’s okay,” he whispered gently. He could understand her pain. She had loved her brother with all of her heart, and he had always loved her. That must have been why he spared her in his massacre. It was unimaginable that Micah Potter could turn against his family in such a violent way, and Iris was having difficulty accepting the reality that her brother was a depraved, cold-blooded murderer.

“Okay?” she screamed at him. Those gray-green eyes were filled with overpowering rage, nearly glowing in their intensity as she glared at him. “No! It’s not fucking okay. It will never be fucking okay, and don’t tell me it will! My brother is dead because you people and your notions of perfect little worlds! You don’t get one damn fucking thing, and you never will, because everything isn’t fucking okay!” she yelled at the top of her lungs. Patients in the other rooms were tossing and turning in response to her loud cries, and she would not have been surprised if the nurses down the hall had heard her as well. “It never was okay to begin with!”

Her tirade over, she went back to loudly sobbing. Knees drawn into her chest, Iris held on to them for dear life as she rocked back and forward. Her sobs had not decreased their intensity at all, causing her tiny frame to convulse rapidly. It looked like she was having a seizure. Chief Swan gently lay his hand on her back. He rubbed it in circles, content to stay quiet unless he provoked another outburst. It was gentle, and light, weighing no more than a feather. Iris screamed a loud scream of pain and fear. She could feel the blows reigning down on her body from up above. The strangled shouts and her pleas for stopping rang in her ears. That simple touch transported her through time and space back to her house before her family died, and in that one moment that Iris’s eyes caught her bruised reflection, she wished she was back at the hospital.

“DON’T TOUCH ME!” she screamed so loudly that the nurses did hear her. “Don’t you ever touch me!” she yelled at a shocked Police Chief. Throwing herself forward, she got out of reach of the offending touch, only to look over her shoulder at Charlie with swollen eyes.

“Iris?” he asked, confused.

Desperate to get away from the hospital, the chubby and addled brained policeman, and her suddenly even more depressing life, Iris grabbed the tubes tied to her veins. Chief Swan’s eyes opened wide. “Don’t you dare, young lady,” he said in his most authoritative voice. For Bella, and any other misguided daughter, it would have worked. Iris, unfortunately, didn’t give a damn.

Clutching the clear tubes tightly, she yanked as hard as she could. Though she enjoyed the pain, she did not hold back the gasp that escaped from her lips. It hurt more than she had ever thought it would. Her heart monitor was beeping like crazy, and any second, a nurse would be in to check on her. She had to move fast. Chief Swan was already going for the call button. Iris could not have that. Leaping off the bed, she grabbed the wheelchair’s handles. He yelped out in shock as she turned him around and gave him a slight push to the other side of the room. It was nothing that could hurt him, just enough to give her time to make her escape.

The rooms flew past her, blurring the edges of her vision. She saw nothing as she ran, shoving past nurses who came to investigate, and doctors responding to pages. Her breath was labored, stuck in her throat which was raw. Iris had no idea wear she was going, and she didn’t really care. All she knew was that she had to get away. She wanted to leave Forks, leave everything and everyone behind forever. No more ghosts, no more freaky vampires, no more pitying glances, no more death and fear…nothing. She wanted it to all go away forever.

Dodging into the stairwell, Iris grasped the railing. The dirty metal was icy cold against her burning skin. It gave her medial relief against her raging temperature. The rough concrete of the stairs scraped the tender balls of her feet as she took the stairs two by two. She stubbed her toe once when she turned a corner too quickly. It hurt, but Iris was not silly enough to let that stop her. Nothing would hinder her enough to make her stop and slow down. Slowing down meant getting caught, and that was not allowed. She did not want to go back to the sterilized and impersonal hospital, with the probing doctors and the nasty food. It was all mundane and not part of her life at all.

From above her, she heard the shouts of the nurses and the doctors looking for her. They were hot on her heels, ready to get her back to the safety imprisonment of her bed. She refused to go down without a fight. Iris had to bite down on her lip hard whenever one of her wounds opened. It hurt like hell; coupled with the fact that her heart was racing, she would loose a lot of blood quickly. She swore when she realized that she might leave a blood trail.

Hoping to mislead them, Iris kicked the door to the third floor open. Hopefully, they would think that she fled on the third floor to hide and would center the search there. With speed she did not know she had, Iris vaulted down the stairs like a true gymnast. It was harder on her legs, but she was used to jumping off a semi-tall structures. If only Toni could see her now…

Praise be to God. The lobby was mostly clear. The only other soul in it was the security guard manning the front desk. He was even fatter than Charlie, looking like the fastest he could move was a waddle. Absolutely perfect for her getaway. He was so absorbed watching the MMA fight on his tiny television, Iris was halfway out the door before he saw her.

“Hey you!” he yelled at her as he slowly jumped to his feet.

She was too far gone to be stopped now, however. Home free. Forks was like Amsterdam, all woody and soggy. Thankful for the first time, Iris took a sharp left into the thick woods. The ground was wet beneath her bare feet. Mud squished up in between her toes, marring her coral toenail polish. That made her even angrier, and even faster. She picked her knees up high, bounding over rocks and roots, weaving her way in and out of trees. No moonlight spilled through the thick canopy above making it impossible to see where she was going. Relying completely on instinct, Iris picked her way along as fast as she could. If she could get back to Chief Swan’s house, she could get Harley, and change into something normal. As it was, she was running through strange woods with only a thin hospital gown to cover her nakedness.

Iris stopped dead in her tracks. This was not one of her best plans by any stretch. Panting from sore muscles and pain, Iris pressed a hand against her pounding heart only to draw it away when she touched something sticky. She could barely see the thick substance on her hand, but she knew what it was. Blood. And not just any blood; hers. Iris’s knees buckled when a wave of dizziness swept over her. Placing a steadying hand against a large tree, she took several deep, steadying breaths while counting backwards from ten. She had to calm her heartbeat down or else she would bleed out. Death would halt any attempts at freedom permanently.

“Crap,” she muttered to herself. Iris was lost, completely and utterly lost. No visibility in a strange forest that was filled with wild animals and the occasional strange man coupled with the fact that she was bleeding led to only one conclusion: this was not going to end well. The scent of her blood could draw wolves and other predators to her, and no doubt one of the freaky vampires was out. They could only go out at night. If one was close by, it might smell her. The blood drained from Iris’s face. This had been a really dumb idea on her part.

There was commotion to her right. Someone or something was riffling through the underbrush. It was slowly nearing her. It’s process was slow, as if it were afraid that it might startle her. Whatever it was, though, was most assuredly coming.

“Iris?” a familiar voice called out. “Iris? Are you out there?”

Nessie. It was two-thirty in the morning, and the little twit was already awake. It was too early for anyone to be up and forming a search part. Dammit all! She would have to hurry. Fumbling with the nightgown on her back, she made sure that it covered all of her rump before she continued on. If worse came to worse, she would die and someone would find her corpse half eaten by bears. If that was the case, then she didn’t want her butt clad in the lacy underwear Nessie bought her showing. She did have some pride, after all.

Her lithe form flew over rocks and roots, cleaving through the brambles as if they were not there. Her determination to escape was pounded through her veins, mixing with her blood. She was going to get away if it was the fucking thing she did. Blood frothed from her shoulder, but she was past caring. All that mattered was going forward.

In the distance, there was shouting. Voices she had never heard were joining the foray. Half the town must have been raised in order to find her. She guessed it had been twenty minutes since she absconded from her hospitalized imprisonment. Her pursuers moved slowly, lest they miss some clue. Iris did not have that luxury. Her legs pumped faster than they ever had as her desperation increased. She ran for another ten minutes. Her chested heaved as she gasped for agonizing breaths, and the edges of her vision was blurry. She would have to stop soon and take a breather. Otherwise, she was going to pass out.

Up ahead the trees thinned. It was a quarter mile or so away. Iris figured she could make it to the clearing. With an elated gasp, Iris broke the tree line. She had run a long way, and was completely lost. Barely able to tell which the difference between up and down, she fell to her knees. Leaning forward, Iris closed her eyes and pressed her head to the wet ground. It was cool, bringing relief to her sweaty face.

Relief swept over her. That was an emotion that she was not used to, but she felt that she quite liked it. She had run at least three miles. There was no way that they would catch up to her now. She was safe, far away from those little cretins. For the time being, she could relax, and get her strength back. When it was dawn, she could pick her way back to Chief Swan’s home, and get her stuff. Everything was going to work out, despite her wacky plan. This was good. In a few hours, she would be clean, and walking away from this horrible part of her life forever.

For now, she could just breath.