Carlisle's/ Clara's/Bella's POV: An inspiring 13 yr old girl becomes Carlisle's newest patient and quickly wins his affections. When her mother suddenly dies, Carlisle instantly steps in to care for her and makes her one of his own.
2. Chapter 2: Breakthrough
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Sunny’s candle had been extinguished for four days, the lid to the glass container firmly clamped over the top. The overwhelming pine scent that normally wafted through the doorway was virtually untraceable. Clara lay curled up on her side most of the time, tucked into the right corner of the bed. Her knees were drawn to her chest with one arm curled around her legs. She looked so frail, small, and helpless that way. Her only expression was one filled with total grief.
Esme and Alice stayed with her faithfully through the first three days after Beth’s death, never leaving her side until the need to hunt became almost overwhelming. They eventually had no choice but to go.
Emmett and Rosalie had arrived moments before the others’ departure to introduce themselves to our newest member. I was careful to remind everyone that the current arrangement was only temporary, for the time being.
Rosalie sat for hours, watching Clara when Esme was gone. I would hear her humming tunelessly whenever I happened to be on that side of the hospital. I could imagine Rose sitting on the edge of Sunny’s bed, her hand absently flowing gently down Clara’s back, trying to provide what comfort she could. I could see, in my mind’s eye, Emmett watching “his Rose,” smiling to himself as he noted her contentment.
Edward was the next to arrive, Bella at his side. If I were being completely honest with myself, I would have to admit that I was most anxious for his arrival. Edward’s exceptional talent for reading the thoughts of others could prove to be just as beneficial as Jasper’s ability to provide her with a feeling of calm, given Sunny’s current condition. I was sure to give him and Bella time alone with Clara before I intruded, though I was anxious for his insights.
Before I even entered the room, I heard Edward stand to meet me at the door. “She’s playing the tragedy over and over in her thoughts.” He shook his head, his sorrow for her plain in his eyes. His gaze drifted to Bella as she sat in a chair at Sunny’s bedside. Bella’s eyes met Edward’s briefly before she looked away, focusing again on the sick child in front of her. The look of concern on Bella’s face mirrored Edward’s.
“She’s also glad that everyone is visiting her. She never knew you had such a large family.” He seemed to reflect on his own comment for a moment. “She really likes you, you know? You have her trust completely.”
I felt a great sense of relief wash over me at this statement. I had always had a sense that Sunny and I had a bond forming between us. To have my instincts confirmed was a tremendous comfort.
“You haven’t spoken to her about the custody arrangement yet.” It wasn’t a question.
I shook my head, though I knew I didn’t have to. He could read my thoughts like a book. “She’s too traumatized at the moment for anyone to discuss anything with her. She’s completely unresponsive. I think it’s best to wait until she can comprehend what it means for her.” He merely nodded and I knew he understood my hesitation.
Edward frowned curiously at me before his head turned in Sunny’s direction again. When he turned back there was a glint of mischief in his eye. “How old is Clara?”
I gave him a cautious, measured look. “Thirteen, why?”
He laughed out-loud, the sound shattering the silence of the hospital. “I think she’s forming a crush on Jasper. She’s made the connection between how calm she feels around him versus how sad she becomes when he’s gone. Her conclusions have gone in the wrong direction completely.”
“Well, we certainly won’t be telling Alice about that, now, will we? She’d never let the two of them out of her sight!” I laughed as well, picturing how Sunny would have normally reacted to such a feeling if she were herself. I could just see her bright green eyes following Jasper’s every move. I could almost hear the incessant stream of questions she would fire at me, regarding him, in his absence. I turned away from the doorway for a moment as these images faded. Seeing what that lively, spirited child of my memories was reduced to now was heartbreaking.
Edward grasped my shoulder lightly before I turned back around. “Carlisle…”
I shook my head at his concerned tone, forcing a smile onto my face as I tried to push past my grief. “I’m fine.” I let my gaze wander to where Sunny lay and felt my smile slip slightly. “I’m just worried, that’s all.” Edward nodded before something in the room grabbed his attention. He was at Clara’s bedside between one breath and the next. I followed right behind. Bella was now on her feet, backing away from the bed as I approached.
The noise that had gotten the attention of both Edward and I was a small, faint moan coming from the still form lying in the bed. Given that this tiny whimper was the first sound Clara had uttered in four days, hearing her cry was a great relief.
Clara blinked rapidly for an instant, as if she were startled out of a dazed state. Her eyes focused slowly on my face. As comprehension dawned in Clara’s expression and awareness came back into her gaze, her eyes filled with tears. She suddenly sat bolt upright and thrust herself in my arms. She clung to me as all of the pent up emotion that she had been harboring for the last four days came flooding forward.
Edward’s eyes were locked on Clara, his grip firmly clamped around Bella’s hand as he watched the outpouring of emotion silently. I knew he was listening intently to every thought rushing through Sunny’s mind. I was too concerned with the condition of the trembling, sobbing child in my arms to think of anything else at that moment. “She’s gone. She’s gone, Dr. Cullen. She’s never coming back.” She was repeating the same words, over and over, as if she were trying to comprehend their meaning.
I held her silently, letting her release all of the anguish that had been stored up for so long. When she had quieted somewhat, her eyes flicked in Edward and Bella’s direction, as if noticing their presence for the first time. She pulled back from me slightly, her frown was curious. “Are you Dr. Cullen’s kids, too?”
I smiled down at her, gesturing in Edward’s direction. “This is my son, Edward and Edward’s fiancé, Bella.”
Clara looked back at me. Her face still held the same curious frown. “But you’re too young to have kids his age.”
I couldn’t help but laugh. “All of my children are adopted, Clara. My wife and I weren’t able to have our own.” It wasn’t a lie.
“Oh.” She blushed then, the color adding some life to her sallow pallor. She glanced around the room for a moment as if she were seeing it for the first time and her frown deepened. “Where did everyone else go?”
I gently unwrapped her arms from around my torso and laid her back down slowly. “Everyone else went home to rest.” I could feel Edward’s smile from across the room. “You should be resting, too, Clara. You’re under too much stress as it is.” I tried to force my tone to sound firm. There was so much relief coursing through me, my words sounded slightly frantic in my own ears.
I could feel her feebly resisting my hands as I guided her back. I frowned down at her. “But if I sleep any longer people will start to think I went into a coma!” She protested.
I let my hands fall from her shoulders and sat myself down in the chair beside her bed. I think it’s time, Edward, I thought. His nod was so imperceptible that I was certain that not even Bella had noticed. “Alright then. There is something that I have been meaning to discuss with you anyway.”
Edward stepped forward suddenly, his hand still holding Bella’s firmly in its grasp. A look of terror was forming on Sunny’s face. “No more bad news, Clara. I promise you.” She threw her gaze in his direction, studying him intently. Whatever she was thinking, only she and Edward knew for sure. She must have concluded that she could trust his judgment because she turned back to me with nothing but pure curiosity in her eyes.
“As I told you, all of our children were adopted long ago by Esme and I.” I was trying to choose my words with the utmost care. I was afraid that her awakening from her grief-induced unconsciousness was still a bit tentative. “Given the situation now, you’re going to need someone to act as your guardian during your treatment and recovery.”
Her eyes narrowed in confusion. “Do you have to call Child Services on me?”
I was a bit taken aback by the suspiciousness that filled her tone. I nodded at her patiently. ”Well, yes and I have, a few days ago.” I took her hand in mine before continuing, my eyes locked with hers. I didn’t want her to be misled in any way regarding what this arrangement actually meant. “It’s only temporary at this point but my wife and I have been appointed your legal guardians. All the necessary paperwork was completed yesterday.”
Clara was completely dumbstruck. Her eyes darted from Edward’s unreadable expression back to mine several times as she clearly tried to process the news. A moment later, some measure of that brilliant, radiant light that had been extinguished with Beth’s death came flooding back in Sunny’s eyes. “You really did that, Dr. Cullen?”
I beamed at her. “Yes, Sunny. For now, you’re my responsibility.”
I was grinning like a fool but couldn’t help myself. Just to see some measure of life come back to Sunny was intoxicating. I tried to busy myself with the monitors attached to Clara, carefully filling all the necessary information into her chart. Edward and Sunny’s stares followed my every move. You should inform the others of the change in Clara’s condition. They would all probably like to reintroduce themselves to her now that she’s a bit more…aware of her surroundings.
Without missing a beat, Edward turned his attention to Bella. “We should go and let Clara get some rest.” I noted Clara, frowning at Edward’s words as he and Bella left. He flashed me a little smirk before reaching the door.
You’ve started picking on her already, I see. Be gentle, Edward. I believe she could prove to be a challenge if provoked, I thought with a smile.
His attention shifted to me and he laughed out-loud for the second time during his visit. “I guess it’s a good thing I’m used to dealing with little sisters.”
- Shannon R
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