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War of the Heart

Summary:
Lieutenant General Charlie Swan moves his family to Forks while he and his sons our deployed to Iraq. Can the Cullens & the Hales help Bella survive while her whole family is on tour overseas? What happens when the only family member she can rely on runs away? Or when a brother is injured in a road side explosion? Thanks to XxBleedingSoulxX for the amazing banner :) NOTE!! I'VE GIVEN UP UPDATING ON THIS SITE, IF YOU WISH TO KEEP READING YOU CAN FIND THE STORY AT FANFICTION. THANKS FOR ALL THE LOVE.


Notes:
Everything belongs to the one and only Stephanie Meyer.


15. Recovery

Rating 4.5/5   Word Count 3997   Review this Chapter

Chapter Fifteen – Recovery

Saturday, November 7th

One week; that's how long I’ve been sitting in this vinyl chair beside Austin’s bed waiting for him to wake up, one week excruciatingly long week!

Austin had yet to wake up ever since Dr. Maniago and his team had rushed him into the O.R. when he started coding. After six extensive hours in surgery, the doctors were able to successfully stabilize his nervous system, which apparently had been the reason he had gone into shock. When the surgery was finished and they had him stable, they brought him back to his room, where I had stayed by his side ever since.

I was starting to get a little worried about my brother’s coma-like stat, but the doctors kept assuring me that this was indeed to be expected; that this was his brain’s way of defending itself from the sensory overload and his body’s way of helping him process everything he’s been through in the past three months.

As I sat there, watching my brother, I just couldn't help but wonder what was going to happen once he woke up. I already knew he was going to be devastated about losing his entire unit to a suicide bomber, I just didn't know how he was going to handle the latest hurdle that Dr. Maniago had thrown our way...

**Flashback**

“Bella?” Dr. Maniago said, shaking me awake from my short slumber as he sat down beside me in the waiting room, where I had apparently cried myself to sleep after the doctors had rushed Austin into his second surgery. “Austin’s going to be fine now, we have him stable again and his vitals are improving rapidly, but I do have some bad news...”

Tears trickled down my face as I closed my eyes and held my breath, waiting for whatever was to come next; my mind overwhelmed with all the possibilities of everything that could have gone wrong in the O.R.

“Bella, when we got Austin into the O.R. and calmed his cardiac and respiratory systems back down, one of our interns noticed an infection spreading through Austin’s left leg that was literally destroying it from the inside out. There wasn’t much time to process what was happening; we just knew we had to react quickly-”

“What’s wrong with him Dr. Maniago? What aren’t you telling me?”I asked, nervously running my hands through my already tangled hair.

He sighed, rubbing his temples. “Bella we had to amputate your brother’s left leg, just below his knee.”

“Oh God!” I sobbed throwing my head in my hands as Dr. Maniago tried to comfort me as much as he could, but it was rather a lost cause. “This is going to absolutely going to break him!”

“There is some good news though, we tested the right leg and it was fine with no sign of infection so we were able to reset the bones and insert the metal rods before putting it into a cast. The right leg should make a full recovery.”

XxXflashback OverXxX

A part of me really wasn’t looking forward to having to face Austin once he finally woke up. I didn't know what I was going to say; Dr. Maniago kept assuring me he could tell him for me, but I knew that something this big had to come from someone he loved. But what was I going to say? ‘Hey sorry, tough luck Austin, they had to take your leg, but on the bright side you’re still alive; you just can’t partake in any of the activities that you used to.’ Yea, somehow I don't think that would go over too well...

I knew for Austin this was going to be a huge deal. Unlike me who had shied away from sports all through high school, he was an incredibly vigorous athlete who partook in every available sport he possible. He relished the challenge and discipline it took to compete. Some of his favourite sports to play were volley ball, rugby and soccer, but there was definitely no question which sport he enjoyed the most was. Nothing made him prouder as a teen then being captain of his high school hockey team and leading them to the championship back when my dad was posted to Wisconsin’s military base; Fort McCoy.

Even after high school he continued to partake in intramural sports with many of the cadets that he went to the military academy with, so not being able to compete in recreational sports anymore was definitely going to kill him. Thus saying that I was less than enthusiastic to tell Austin about his leg was definitely an understatement.

XxXxXxX

Tuesday, November 10th

It had been officially eleven days since I had arrived in Seattle and I was seriously starting to go crazy. All I had done over the past few days was sit around talking to a still unresponsive Austin, avoid the doctors and nurses who kept giving me these awkward looks of pity, and talk to military personal who were acting as messengers between me and my family. The hardest part of the whole thing was not having anyone to talk to or confide in. I was starting to get really lonely being here all by myself and the stress from the whole situation was literally starting to fry my nerves.

As Austin’s bruises and cuts from the explosion started to fade, I got my first real look at my brother ever since he had deployed for Iraq three months ago. His long dark wavy hair, that we used to share in common, had been buzzed off in favour of the standard military coif, his normally pale skin had been tanned from the countless days of patrolling in the Iraq sun, and his normally bright blue eyes that used to be so full of life were now dull and tarnished from all the anguish they’ve witnessed over the past few months.

I was really missing home, other than a few phone calls; I hadn’t really had the time to call the guys, seeing as how I was constantly dealing with doctors and military personal who were trying to get information on Austin’s stat of health.

I honestly don't know how I’d still be functioning if it weren’t for Rosalie and Alice and everything they were doing for me back home. They had taken it upon themselves to collect all my missed assignments and handle all the questions coming from the curious people of Forks who heard about my brother’s accident on the news. They had even gone and picked up Riley from the veterinarian clinic, and he was currently staying with the Cullen’s for the time being.

And bless their hearts when I received a package shortly after I had arrived in Seattle. Apparently Jasper has explained to them about my quick getaway and how little time I had to pack so the girls had gone and raided my closet and sent me a bunch of sweats and comfy clothes that I could wear around the hospital along with my IPod and various books. I’d be forever grateful for their kindness.

I needed to talk to someone, and there was only one person I could think of that would understand the dynamics of Austin’s case. So I got out of my chair and stretched out my tired muscles as I walked over and grabbed my cell out of my beg, dialling the all too familiar number.

“Hello?” she answered after the third ring.

“Alice?” I cried.

“Oh my God, Bella?! How are you sweetheart? How’s Austin? Did something happen? Is he okay?” she rambled, firing question after question.

“Calm down Ali, I'm fine. Austin’s still out though and I'm still dealing with the stress of everything that’s going on, but the reason I called actually, is I need to talk to your dad”

“You want to talk to my dad?” she asked in bewilderment.

“Yea, is he there? I know this is going to sound really dumb, but I'm really missing my dad right now Ali and your dad has become like a temporary father to me over the past few months and I really need someone to reassure me and tell me that this is all going to be okay.” I cried.

“Sure hun, just let me go find him.”

“Thank you Alice” I whispered, sitting back down in the chair next to Austin’s bed.

“Hello? Bella?” Carlisle said as he answered the phone.

“Hi Carlisle,” I sniffed, wiping away of few of the remaining tears.

“How are you dear? How are things going with your brother?”

“I don't know Carlisle and I'm so frustrated! I would give anything to have my dad and brothers here with me; I know they’d know what to do. I feel like I'm failing Austin and letting them all down. I just don't know what to do!” I cried in frustration.

“Bella I may have never had the opportunity to meet your father personally, but I can guarantee that if he’s half the man I think he is then he couldn't be more proud of you honey. You’re doing a great job of taking care of your family. I'm positive he’d be so proud of the fact that you dropped everything and ran to take care of your brother even though you’re only sixteen. I know Esme and I couldn't be prouder of you if you were actually one of our own children.” He said proudly.

“Carlisle, I just miss them so much. It’s not supposed to be this hard. I mean, I’ve dealt with this before, like the time when my dad went away on deployment to Bosnia, but this time it’s different. This time I'm all alone and it’s not supposed to be this way. Jack should be here with me and I'm so mad that he abandoned me now more than ever! He should be here with me telling me it’s going to be okay, but instead he’s off gallivanting around the country somewhere. And even though I want to be mad at him, a part of me knows that I could never really hate him; I love him too much and I miss him more than ever right now. And that just makes me mad at myself!” I groaned.

“Bella, you’re not alone! You have the entire town of forks behind you, along with Alice, Edward, Emmett, Jasper, Rosalie, Esme and I. Our children absolutely love you like your already part of the family. And they’ve all been hurting over the past few weeks because they know your suffering and it kills them that they can’t be there for you when you need them the most.”

“I know Carlisle; I miss them all so much...”

“Have you gotten a hold of any of your family?” he asked.

“I briefly got to talk to Tory a few days ago. He was really when he found out about Austin, since he was so close with him and all. He’s trying to get his return date pushed up, but he’s says he’ll definitely be home in a month for sure. My dad on the other hand is fighting tooth and nail to get home, but since Austin didn't actually die and the doctors got him stable, the army doesn’t feel the need to send him home if there’s not an immediate threat to his health, which in my opinion is just wrong! And I haven’t heard from Ryan yet but I'm assuming they’ve gotten word to him, but I'm not sure. At this point I'm not really certain of anything...” I answered, as I reclaimed my seat and took my brother’s hand as I continued to watch him lie there helplessly.

“Bella, I want to assure you that even though your there alone, Seattle Grace is one of the top leading medical hospitals in the country. I’m more than positive that their doing everything in their power to make sure that your brother’s well taken care of. But I do have a friend up there who hold quite a bit of power, let me make a phone call and see what I can do, okay dear?”

“What are you going to do, Carlisle?” I asked, as I gently stroked the contour of my brother’s battered face.

“I'm going to enquire if I can get your brother transferred down here to Forks General once he’s woken up and has his vitals under control. That way you’ll be near friends, and I can take a better look at your brother. See if there’s anything I can do to make his recovery a little easier...”

“Thank you Carlisle, I really appreciate you being here for me and my brother right now, especially since my father and other brothers can’t get back home.”

“It’s no problem Bella, I already consider you as a daughter and I’d do anything for you and your brother.” He assured me, making me cry even more.

“Thank you Carlisle. It means so much to have someone to talk to that understands what Austin’s going through”

“It’s no problem Bella, you mean a great deal to our family and we all want to help you and your brother. That way you’ll be near your friends again, and I can take a better look at your brother. Forks has a great rehabilitation center and if Austin is as driven and determined as you say he is, and then it shouldn’t take him long to get back into shape and fitted for a prostatic leg. Don't give up hope of him never walking again just yet, as soon as he’s ready we’ll get him the help he needs.”

“Bells..?” I heard someone faintly mumble at the same time as there was a slight tug on my hand.

“Oh my god! He’s awake Carlisle!” I shrieked excitedly, nearly dropping the phone in the process. “I got to go, but I’ll call later. Thank you for everything.” I rushed before hanging up the phone and turning towards Austin.

“Austin? Austin? Can you open your eyes for me? I'm right here big brother and I love you so much, everything’s going to be okay, just please open your eyes.” I begged, as I took his hand and rubbed soothing circles on the psalm with my thumb.

“Bells...?” he mumbled again, this time ever so slightly lifting his eye lids.

“That’s right Austin, I'm right here and everything’s going to be okay” I whispered, placing a gentle kiss on his forehead.

“Come on Austin, open those eyes for me hun,” I whispered grasping both his hands firmly in mine, willing him to just open his eyes...

“Bella,” he choked out, this time raising his eyelids enough that I could get a good look at those baby blue eyes for the first time in over three months.

“Oh thank you God!” I cried, unable to control the sobs of relief as I pulled him into a warm embrace.

“Ouch!” he winced, as a wave of pain shot across his face.

“Oh my God! I'm sorry Austin; I forgot about your ribs, I was just so happy to see you!” I cried. Great I’ve been waiting for him to wake up for almost two weeks and the first thing I do is injure him.

“It’s alright baby girl, don't cry. I doesn’t hurt that bad, I promise. I was just a little shocked more than anything...” he assured me as he gently wiped away the tears from my cheek. ‘Great he’s the one who got blown up in an explosion and yet he’s the one comforting me...’ I thought to myself, causing me to cry harder. Why couldn't I get anything right?

“Wait! What’s going on? Where am I?!” he asked as his eyes shot open in panic, and his heartbeat on the heart rate monitors start to increase from stress.

“Shh... Austin, I need you to calm down for me. If you panic the doctors are probably going to come in and sedate you again and I need you here with me, I can’t do this by myself; I need you so much!” I cried.

“Am I going to die?” he whispered worriedly.

“No, it’s nothing like that,” I assured him in a meek tone, “although I’ll admit it was scary there for a while, but the doctors did finally get you stabilized and your heath has improved every day since you were flown here from Germany.”

“Bella-” he gasped, trying to fight off the panic evident in his voice, “why-can’t-I-move-my-legs.” he seethed, making it sound more like a statement rather than a question. He had yet to notice his amputated leg, hidden underneath the hospital bed sheets.

This was the question I was scared of; I didn't know what to answer so I just stalled trying to come up with something. “I believe they gave you something like an epidural of sorts. They needed to temporarily paralyze you from the waist down so you wouldn’t feel the pain.” I mumbled, refusing to make eye contact as I stared down at the hospital floor.

“Bella-” he groaned, “You’ve always been a terrible liar, although I must admit, it’s nice to see something’s haven’t changed since I left.” I knew he was trying to calm me down enough to tell him, but I just couldn't... Tears continued to roll down my cheeks. God, why did this have to happen to him?!

“Bella, please...” he asked again with a shaky voice. “What happened to my legs?”

“Austin,” I sighed, taking both his hands into mine. “Do you remember the explosion?” he shook his head. “There was an explosion while your unit was out patrolling. You were far enough away that your legs took the brunt of the impact; and they were in pretty bad shape-”

“But there fine, right Bells? I mean tell me there fine...” he begged desperately, his eyes glistening with unshed tears.

“Austin,” I said looking into his deep blue eyes; “You don't understand, they were in really, really bad shape...”

“They can fix it, cant they? I mean, all they gotta do is put them in a casts, right Bells?” he whispered, fright all over his face. “Please Bells, tell me they didn't take my legs”

But before I could say anything, he leaned down and ripped of his bad sheet, letting out an agonizing scream as he took in the sight, or the lack thereof, of his mutilated left leg.

No, no, no! Please God no!” he wept as he started sobbing into his hands at the sight of his disfigured body. In all my sixteen years I’d never witnessed any of my brothers cry. But the sight of my brother losing all control devastated me.

Without thinking twice, I climbed into the bed beside him, carefully pulling him into an embrace and letting him cry out all his grief into my shoulder. There was nothing I could really say so I just sat there, letting him hold on to me like a life line. I knew at this point, this was all I could do for him.

Sunday, November 15th

It had been a little over two weeks since I had arrived in Seattle in search of my brother. Now five days after he had woken up, we were both safely back in Forks. I was currently sitting in my regular seat beside Austin’s bed in his private room at Forks General Hospital. True to his word, Carlisle was able to talk his friend into persuading Austin’s doctors that returning home to Forks would be in Austin’s best interest right now. Unlike Seattle, here we would be able to rely on the community for help and support to see us through this rough time.

And it was not a lie; the Forks locals had gone wild with support when they had found out on the news about my brother’s injury. Apparently nothing this big had gone down in Forks since one of the local farmers lost a cow when it fell in the river two summers back, instantly devastating his income in the process. The town had rallied together back then to help purchase a new cow and now the town had come together yet again to help support my family through our time of need.

They had been relaying messages of hope and encouragement through Carlisle, Esme and the rest of their family with assurance from them that they’d pass on their messages to me and Austin. Also, neighbours from all around had been dropping off food and the last time I called to check in with Jasper, he informed me he had died and gone to heaven as the whole house was stocked from head to toe with soups, lasagne’s, casseroles, pies, cakes, cookies and many other homemade treats. I had to laugh when he told me he had to literally change the locks to keep Emmett from eating it all.

*****

It was now Sunday afternoon, and Austin and I had arrived back in Forks shortly after midnight. Carlisle had met us and helped get Austin situated into his own room. Austin had fallen asleep shortly after arriving and I soon followed suit, lying down in the cot that the nurses were nice enough to get for me so I could stay with my brother.

I was awoken all too soon from my light when I heard agonizing screams.

“Austin, Austin. Please wake up!” I begged, as I hopped out of bed and began to shake his arm in an attempt of waking him. Ever since he had woken up in Seattle, Austin’s vicious and reoccurring nightmares and become a regular occurrence. Currently he was moaning and thrashing, a sure sign of one of the nightmares that had plagued his sleep.

“C’mon Austin, it’s just a dream, you gotta wake up for me, please.” I begged.

Ever so slowly he started to calm down and open his eyes, when he realized I was standing there, his blurry eyes filled with tears snapped open. “Oh god Bella!” he cried as he buried his head into my shirt and sobbed.

“It’s okay now hun, you’re safe. I won’t let anything ever happen to you again.” I soothed, brushing his forehead.

“Will it ever get better?” he asked looking up at me with his big blue eyes as he choked back a sob.

Closing my eyes, I tried to pause for a moment to steady my voice. It was hard to witness my twenty-two year old brother looking to me for comfort when I was so used to him being the one to comfort and protect me. “I'm not a professional or anything, but I truly believe that things will get better with time. You’ve been through a lot and this is your mind’s way of helping you process everything you’ve been through and witnessed. You know it might help to talk to someone, Carlisle left me some names of psychiatrists who are supposed to be really great...”

“No Bella, absolutely not! I refuse to be one of those saps who have to relay their problems on others. I have you and that’s all I need. You can help me get through this, and that’s all I want.” He ranted, crossing his arms in a way that reminded me of a five-year old boy who was trying to get his way.

I sighed realizing that arguing with him at this point would be futile. Once he made a decision it was pretty bear impossible to persuade him otherwise. “Okay Austin, I'm going to go find a nurse to give you some medication to help you sleep. You’re going to need your rest if you plan on coming home anytime soon. “

“Okay Bells,” he mumbled as I leant over him to kiss his cheek before leaving to retrieve one of the night nurses.