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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.


24. Collapsed

Rating 5/5   Word Count 3265   Review this Chapter

Chapter Twenty Four – Collapsed

After the boys and I had returned home from our bowling festivities in Port Angelas, I grabbed my Nike's and decided to take a quick run.

These past few weeks, thanks to the very persistent urging of one Rosalie Hale, I had started taking up running. At first running seemed like Rosalie's personal means of torturing me, but little by little I discovered running actually helped beat back my anxiety; it cleared my mind and helped cleanse me of the things that weighed me down. It was a way of lifting the worries about Austin and his rehab, about Dad and Ryan who were still in danger overseas, and even the repressed pain of losing my mother at such a young age.

I began running late at night so that my brothers wouldn't know. It was a way of releasing some much needed stress. Whenever Austin would have another nightmare, I'd run. Whenever someone would glance at me with pity, I'd run. Whenever I got anxious from not hearing from dad or Ry, I'd run. I'd run sometimes so hard that I couldn't breathe. I'd run until every ounce of my body screamed out in agony. I'd run until every muscle burned and my body shouted out to stop. At this rate, I'd probably be able to join the track team with Edward next fall.

If nothing else, I was hoping running would help increase the level of positive Serotonins present in my body, giving me an extra boost of much needed energy. I don't know why, but lately my body hasn't been feeling up to par. My clothes were getting more and more baggier. I was eating and exercising but still I was losing weight progressively fast. My emotions were going hey wire and it seemed like the stress and anxiety was pilling higher than ever.

After returning home from my run, I side-stepped my way past my brothers' rooms, taking time to ensure they were in a deep peaceful slumber, before heading to my room.

Grabbing my toiletry bag and a pair of pyjamas, I retreated to my bathroom, hopping into the shower. After I washed away the sweat and grime from the bowling alley and my running excursion, I took a couple minutes to just stand under the spray, allowing the shower's steam and heat help ease the tension in my muscles from running. I felt more calm and relaxed as I stepped out of the shower and wrapped a towel around myself. But my tranquility was short lived after I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the mirror.

I hardly recognized the person staring back at me. My cheeks were sunken in, and my eyes had noticeable bruised like shadows underneath them. My face was very bony and more pale-like than normal. 'God, how had it gotten so bad?!' I asked myself. 'Because, Bella; you've been dealing with your brothers' crap for the past two months'. I sighed, defeated.

I loosened the towel that was covering my body, taking a glimpse at my torso. Doing so made me take in a rushed breath; my ribs were prominently sticking out through my frail, milky-white skin. I gasped as I took my finger and traced the contour of my ribs; I could very evidently feel the shape of the frail bones. It all felt so surreal.

My body looked so repulsive. How had I become so thin? A month ago it wasn't like this; I just couldn't fathom how my body's physique could change so drastically over the short time-span of a month!

It wasn't like I wasn't eating, I mean, sure I could eat more but it wasn't like I was skipping meals or anything... I was so confused; it couldn't be the exercise thing? The whole running thing was supposedly suppose to help me tone my body, not shrivel it. I just didn't understand what was happening.

Horror struck, I pulled out the scale under the sink, depositing it on the floor. I took a deep breth before stepping on. Ninty-eight pounds. Ninty-eight pounds... NINTY-EIGHT POUNDS!! How the hell did I get so thin! I hadn't been this thin since puberty.

After gawking down at the scale for a while, I grew tired of thinking about the frail girl that stared back at me in the mirror; I couldn't stand to see the disgusting image of myself anymore.

"Agh!" I screeched, taking my fist and connecting it with the mirror above the bathroom sink, wincing out it pain when my hand made contact with the glass. "Damnit!" I hissed, shaking my hand. Blood smeared the now shattered mirror and covered my hand, it was making me lightheaded so I closed my eyes and took a deep breath in an attempt to calm myself down before I reacted.

'Great... Bella, way to be melodramatic!' I sighed.

After I calmed down, I carefully touched my hand, wincing when I grazed the knuckle, causing pain to shoot through my hand and up my arm. I bared through the pain and carefully wrapped my fist in gauze in tape.

The good news was that we had two bathrooms, one solely for me and the other for the guys to share, so the boys would hopefully stay clear of my bathroom until I was able to replace the mirror without them noticing.

I lackadaisically threw on my pyjamas, and made my way towards the much needed comfort of my bed. At this point in my day, I was ready to climb in bed and never get out. I just wanted to. I wasn't ready to face the reality of the situation. Things were just starting to calm down with Austin; I wasn't prepared to face anything else.

When I got to my room, I noticed Riley lying on my bed.

"What are we going to do, boy?" I asked him dejectedly while playfully scratching the top of his head with my not injured hand. But he continued to sit there, wagging his tail, looking at me with a confused look.

"We'll figure something out Riles, I promise." I said, before lifting him off the bed, taking a moment to climb in and situate myself, before letting him free to snuggle up against my side. Falling into a much needed slumber.

The next morning I woke up to an overcast, frosty morning. I didn't know how Edward and my brothers were going to play football on such a chilly December day, but with my luck they'd all probably end up coming down with pneumonia or some other shit.

I rummaged through my closet for something to wear that would disguise my excessively thin body from my brothers' overly perceptive eyes, which wasn't really hard, seeing as how all my clothes were baggy on me right now. I settled on a pair of grey sweatpants that had 'ARMY' printed across the ass. I then proceeded to roll up the waistband of the pants until they were resting comfortably on my barely there hips. I then browsed through my dresser drawers, pulling out a white wife beater and Edward's loose fitting track sweatshirt. The outfit succeed in disguising the unsightly state of my body.

How hadn't the guys noticed though? I guess it made sense since all my clothes were so baggy that they disguised the poor condition my body was in. Either that or everyone had been so distracted with Austin and my family that, like me, they hadn't noticed my deteriorating health.

After I was finished getting dressed, I made my way to my bathroom, being sure to close the door so none of my brothers would pass by it and discover the beaten mirror. I put on a thick layer of cover up, being sure to disguise my extremely pale skin, even taking extra care to hide the bruise like shadows under my eyes. I finally added blush. I normally would forgo the blush seeing as how I had a natural blush but I decided it would be best to help distract people's view of my sunken cheeks.

Lastly, I discarded the gauze and tape that I used to wrap up my hand the night before, and then re-wrapped up the knuckles before putting my hands in grey, fingerless gloves, that masked the damage on my right hand.

Before leaving the bathroom, I again made sure that the door was shut to allude from any unwanted attention by passerbies.

Jasper, Tory, Austin and Jack were all sitting around the table, sipping coffee, when I entered the kitchen. I mumbled a quick greeting before darting towards the cupboards.

I convinced myself that if I could start eating more, the rest would resolve itself. So I decided that this morning would be the first step in the battle to regain my weight. I elected to forgo the regular, healthy breakfast; opting instead for a higher calorie substitution. I poured myself a chocolate shake, adding some 4Ever Fit, a powder-like substance that my brothers once used when they were trying to gain weight for sports.

I then proceeded to pull out a box of Pop-Tarts from the cupboard before grabbing a can of spray cheese, a 2L bottle of Coke, and a tub of Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Cookie Dough ice cream. I could feel my brothers' gazes on my back as I continued to work my way through the kitchen, opening and closing cupboards, contemplating between Doritos's and Dill Pickle chips before giving in and grabbing both.

I took my mountain load of food and brought it over to the table, while the guys looked at me like I had miraculously grown two heads overnight.

"Geez, Bells!" Austin said, little out a low whistle, "That's some kind of breakfast you got going on there."

"mhm..." I mumbled, as I began shovelling the vast amount of food in my mouth, determined to regain my weight.

I ignored their stares as I started my eating routine; munch on a couple handfuls of chips, swallow a couple scoops of ice cream than wash it down with either a mouthful of coke or chocolate shake, before repeating the cycle.

My brothers continued to stare open-mouthed at me in wonder as a scuffed down my breakfast. If this didn't help me gain weight, than I don't know what would.

"God, what's wrong with her?" Jasper inquired.

"PMS?" Tory guessed, causing the other guys to cringe.

"Why the hell would you think it's PMS?" Jack asked.

"Aren't girls supposed to have major food cravings or something during PMS?"

"Can we stop saying 'PMS'?" Austin groaned, knocking his head on the table.

"Okay, but it explains everything" Tory deduced.

"Ah!" the four boys agreed, but I just ignored them, swallowing another mouthful of ice cream.

"Oh come on!" Jack whined from his spot at the kitchen table as he continued to gawk at my breakfast substitution. "No breakfast for the second morning in a row, this is etching on borderline abuse here Bells!"

"Here" I said, tossing him the box of Pop-Tarts, "knock yourself out."

"Geez, thanks" he grumbled, reaching in and pulling out the foil packages, tossing them one by one to Jasper, Austin and Tory.

The boys gloomily finished their Pop-Tarts while I finished my breakfast feast, throwing the trash in the garbage before returning the remainder of the ice cream back in the freezer.

"I'm going to go get ready, yell at me when Rosalie and the guys get here" I yelled behind me, hearing my brothers' mumble something in compliance.

Since I had a shower the night before, I decided just wash my hair in an attempt to wake myself up. I removed my sweatshirt and knelt down beside the tub, running the water, testing it with my hand to make sure it wasn't too cold or warm. I quickly washed my hair out, taking extra time to lather in the shampoo. When I was done, I shut off the tap and grabbed the towel that I sat on the toilet, running it through my wet hair before wrapping it on top of my head.

After the towel was tightly wound around my head, I leaned down to dry out the tub, noticing lumps of chestnut brown hair lining the contour of the ivory tub. This couldn't be happening, this couldn't be my hair?!

"Bella!" I heard, Jack call from downstairs. "Your boytoy and his brother are here,"

Panic stricken, I began to run my fingers through my hair, holding my hands out to find that there were dozens of loose hairs draped around my fingers.

"Be right down!" I called, throwing Edward's sweatshirt back on.

Scared, I threw my wet hair up in a ponytail, hoping to stop more hair from falling out. What the hell was happening to me?

I decided I needed to clear my mind and focus on the day ahead of me, hoping to distract myself from the state of my health.

"Nice Sweatshirt," Edward complemented, when he saw me.

"Thanks handsome," I smiled sweetly.

I tenderly kissed his cheek, not feeling comfortable about showing too much of a public display of affection around my brothers quite yet. It was one thing for them to know I had a boyfriend; it was another to flaunt it in front of their faces and I decided that since they had just started to open up to the idea of Edward; I didn't want to paint a bigger target on his back.

Suddenly, Emmett picked me up and swung me around in a mass bear-hug. I winced out in pain as my ribs tightened, but Emmett didn't seem to notice my discomfort.

"Geez Bella, you're fading away to nothing," Emmett joked, before returning me to my upright position.

Edward looked at me questionably; by I just shrugged it off, dismissing his concern.

"Ugh- thanks Em," I said self-consciously, shying away from the unwanted attention.

"So kid, you play?" Austin asked, taking the attention off me with his attempt at making small-talk.

"Nah, that's all Emmett, I'm more into track," Edward confessed.

"So, you any good?" Tory asked, sizing up the competition.

"Hell yea we are!" Emmett boomed.

"I'm sure we can handle it," Jack teased, patting Tory on the back.

"Oh, we'll have to see about that..." Emmett smirked.

"Why don't we get things rolling?" Austin suggested.

"Okay," the Cullens replied. "Ready when you are"

"Right this way then, boys." Jack said, leading us all out to the back yard. I bundled up it a thick, warm coat and tuque, making extra sure that my injured hand was covered before following the crowd out back.

The boys had gotten up early to mark off a sufficiently spaced out football field, large enough for an adequate game of football. There were markers for the field goals, and they had even gone so far as to lug out some chairs from the garage so Rose and I would have somewhere decent to sit to watch today's festivities.

"This should be easy-peasy," Emmett exclaimed confidently, when we got outside.

"I don't know Emmett; if it's one thing my brother's know its football."

"my poor, naive little Bellerina" Emmett laughed. "I'm quarterback of the football team; I think I can take them."

"Yea, of the Fork's football team, it's not like there's that much talent around here" I teased. "Tory took his varsity team to state his senior year. I'm just trying to warn you,

"Ouch," Emmett exclaimed, feigning a hurt expression. "Your lack of faith in me really hurts." he joked, causing both Edward and Rosalie to laugh.

"Yea, yea. You two better get going," I giggled, noticing my brothers anxious expressions to get things started.

"Kiss for good luck," Edward asked.

"You're so corny" I laughed, chastely kissing him. "There, now go win, I don't want to have to live with my brothers for the next few weeks if they beat you, I'll never hear the end of it." I cheered, slapping him on the ass. God how I loved that ass...

"Talk about being in bed with the enemy," Rosalie laughed, breaking me from my reverie.

"Shut up" I sighed, causing her to giggle.

As I sat there with Rose and Austin, watching the game from the sidelines, I knew that this was exactly what I needed; an afternoon of watching all my favourite guys goof around, distracting me from my worries.

Both teams seem to be pretty evenly gifted, talented. Either team could only go so far before being stopped by the other.

It was quite comical to watch Edward and Emmett take on Jack and Tory in a little two-on-two touch football game. Emmett and Tory were the only two with previous experience in varsity football. Edward was a fast runner thanks to track, and Jack was barely hanging in there, Tory was pretty much covering for both of them.

All four of them looked like pitiful toddlers, always sulking when the other team scored and rubbing it in their faces when they made a goal. Overall, it was Team Swan vs. Team Cullen, in an all out game of backyard football.

Both teams kept trying to psyche the other out. Emmett and Jack were definitely the worst when it came to the trash-talking.

"You guys better buck up, cause me and my man Edward are about to hand you your ass's chumps!" Emmett bellowed, tauntingly.

"Keep the crude comments to a minimum, boys!" I warned from my position on the sidelines.

About halfway through the game, when Edward and Emmett had just managed to tie things up, the four of them started to complain of thirst. So Rose I went back into the house to fetch a couple bottles of water.

"Are you okay hun, you're not looking so well?" Rosalie asked, once she had gotten me alone.

"I'm fine" I said solemnly, reaching into the fridge to pull out four water bottles.

"Bullshit! Jasper told me about breakfast, what was that all about?" she asked.

I sighed, deciding it might feel better to talk to someone. "I've lost an abnormal amount of weight, I'm just trying to gain in back"

"Lift your shirt," she ordered me.

"Excuse me?!" I yelped, shocked.

"Oh for god's sake, Bella! It's not like it's nothing I've never seen before."

"Fine," I conceited, shedding Edward's sweatshirt before lifting my wife beater enough so she could see my stomach.

"Jesus, Bella! That doesn't look good."

"Ya think?" I sighed, frustrated. Unable to downplay it.

"Bella, sweetheart, I think you should really see a doctor."

"No Rose, no doctor."

"Bella be rational..."

"No Rose, I mean it! No hospital, no doctors, and certainly no Carlisle. I'm trusting you." I warned. "This stays between you and me. If Edward or any of my brothers find out, they won't hesitate to bring me to the hospital and that's the last thing I want. Understand?"

"Fine," she sighed, "but if things get worse, I won't think twice about ratting out your scrawny little ass." She threatened, making me reluctantly agree.

"Thanks, oh and Rose?" I asked.

"Hmm?"

"Love you biotch," I smirked, blowing her a kiss before grabbing the water and heading out the back door.

"Love you two whore." She laughed, following me out.

All of a sudden I dropped the water bottles as I was overcome with a dizzy spell, causing my vision to go all blurry.

"I don't feel so well," I croaked out to Rose.

"Bella? Bella!" I heard voices call, before succumbing to darkness.