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Twelve years ago Edward left Bella thinking she would be safe and happy away from the dangers of his world. She wasn't. How can he make it up to her?
Each chapter written from a different POV with some overlap as the same incident is seen from a different perspective. Some new characters of my own imagination.
You know, all the recognisable characters are not mine. They belong to Stephanie Meyer and I hope I've used them in the spirit in which she created them.
6. Bella - Deciding Not To Decide
Word Count 3417
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I heard Alice calling as I sat at my desk with a junior, explaining why knowing about social history was important when considering the worth of a particular book. It was unusual for Alice to slip and address me so informally while we were at school. I wondered what had caused the rare gaffe.
Alice saw that I was busy and apologised. “Sorry, Miss Swann. I’ll wait until you’ve finished.”
Two minutes later my student left complaining about there being more to English literature than just reading a couple of books.
“Do you have your heart meds at hand?”
The question alone caused me to start hyperventilating. I nodded and got a tablet ready. Then I concentrated on normalising my breaths.
“You don’t really need to worry, but Jasper is waiting outside and would like to speak with you.”
I waited to see if my heart would play up at all but although it jumped a little it settled down fine. I did not want to have this conversation, but accepted that it was probably necessary if I was to have any sort of relationship with any of the Cullens.
My gait was clumsier than usual as I limped to my car. Nerves, I supposed.
Jasper would obviously have known that I was not the same Bella that he knew twelve years ago, but my appearance clearly still took him by surprise.
“Bella, thank you for agreeing to talk to me.”
“It’s nice to see you Jasper. How are you?” My manners would have made my mom proud.
“I’m good, thank you. But the years don’t appear to have treated you well and for that I’m sorry. I owe you a big apology for what happened on your birthday. The guilt I’ve felt for the fall out, the pain it caused Alice and Edward, has never left me and now I add your sufferings to my load.”
“You shouldn’t feel guilty for what happened, Jasper. You are what you are and I always knew the risks. I have always known how clumsy I am so I should have been more careful, for that I am sorry. I am sorry that my lack of control meant that you had to move home suddenly. And you are not at all responsible for the decisions that either he or I took. We both made choices that had consequences that are not of your making. So, no more guilt, please.” I felt proud of myself for maintaining my composure.
“You’re being too good, Bella. I want you know that I do not want you to avoid our family because of me. If you prefer, I will stay away when you visit.”
“I’m not going to chase you out of your home. I felt enough guilt when Emmett and Rosalie absented themselves; I’m not going to add you to the list. It would be preferable for me to never see any of you again.”
“You are far, far too good. You deserve happiness. I hope you find it.”
Alice, who had been standing ready to offer assistance, gave us both wide smiles before she took Jasper’s hand to lead him away.
“I’ll be over at ten tomorrow” she called over her shoulder at me.
He was right. If I was meant to be Esme’s friend then it wouldn’t do for Alice to drop by and not Esme. I might have to agree to go to their home, or I could just not see them at all.
I was marking some class work when there was a knock at the door. It was only half past five and I wasn’t expecting anyone.
“Who is it?” I asked so quietly that only a vampire would hear.
“Carlisle. I want to talk to you about your heart.”
“Come in” I sighed. It didn’t sound like it was good.
Carlisle came in, quietly closing the door behind him and saluted me with a kiss on the cheek. “You look tired Bella” was his unflattering verbal greeting.
“Wrestling with decisions has always been hard for me. Once I make them I’m fine, but until then I don’t rest.” I didn’t mention the headache that was brewing.
“Then try to find a way to break the decisions down so that you can decide one part quickly and decide not to consider the next part for at least a month. Nothing has to be decided now.”
“I think that’s a good idea, actually. I had already decided that I am going to stay in my job for at least the school year, no matter who my neighbours are, and, as you know, to acknowledge that we know each other. I’ll see how it goes for the rest. Now, what about my heart?”
“I have a friend who is a cardiologist. He owes me a few favours so I sent your scans to him for his opinion. The scans indicate that you would be an ideal candidate for an LVAD and he wonders why you were never given one.”
“At first it was thought that without both lungs the LVAD would be pointless. When I had stabilised enough for it to be considered again my insurance had run out. Do you remember the TV series ‘Six Million Dollar Man’?”
“Of course, but I’m surprised you’ve heard of it.”
“The doctors kept telling me about it. I apparently cost more to rebuild than Steve Austin. As soon as they could, my insurance company cut off the flow of funds.”
“Then why are you on the transplant list since that is more expensive?”
“A transplant was part of the original treatment package, they have to fund that. They just don’t have to pay for anything further that crops up as a result of the original injuries that was not on the treatment plan. For example, only six months of physio was planned for my hand so when the six months ran out so did the funding. I am, however, covered if something else happens and I break my right leg for example.”
“Very well. I’ll speak to Andrew and see what he says. Like I said, he owes me lots of favours.”
“When you say ‘friend’, what exactly do you mean?”
“Andrew was one of my students over thirty years ago. He knew there was something different about me because I had treated him in the ER when he fell from his bike ten years previously. Now he tells everyone that I was one of his students.”
“What favours does he owe you?” I knew my curiosity was rude, but it was there.
“He was due to be on one of the ‘planes that crashed into the WTC on September the eleventh. Alice, naturally, saw what was going to happen so I talked Andrew out of getting on the ‘plane. I have also given him the odd piece of stock market advice. I might invite him over for a visit.”
I knew why Carlisle really thought of inviting his friend and if he hadn’t felt able to issue the invitation previously, I didn’t want to be the reason for the change.
I went back to my marking, but was only doing a very half hearted job of it. Carlisle was right. I had already given myself at least until the end of the school year so I had plenty of time. No decision had to be rushed. There was no reason why I shouldn’t seek data to help inform future decisions, though. I didn’t realise until later, but that was when my headache started to recede.
At exactly eight o’clock, again, he knocked on my door.
Without me needing to do any hinting, he took my left hand and began stretching the muscles. He was really very good at it. While he was looking down at my hand I took the opportunity to begin my fact finding.
“I want to tell you a story about a couple, Jane and Joe. Joe was an immortal who met and fell in love with a human girl, Jane. Jane was fairly ordinary except she kept getting into scrapes – a danger magnet. Joe ended up having to rescue her time and time again. He loved her, so he didn’t mind: in fact it made him feel very macho and chivalrous because Jane was the most important thing in the world to him ever: she was his life. However, Joe was worried that he might not be the best thing for her long term though. After all, he could never give her children and to stay with Joe she would either have to cut off all contact with her family or curtail and censor it.
“By some lucky chance Jane appeared to love Joe too. She said she would rather die than leave him because Joe meant more to her than anything and everyone in the world.
“But one day, not long after Joe had rescued her once again, Jane told him that she wanted to break up with him because she wanted to be with someone who could give her children. It was something that Joe had always feared so he accepted it. But the worst part, she somehow took most of Joe’s family with her so he couldn’t talk to anyone about her, or explain why losing her meant he had lost his future. For a long time the agony of the loss of Jane was so great that Joe didn’t know how he could exist through the next second.
“Naturally Joe didn’t know what to do with himself without Jane. She was his life and without her he felt as if he had nothing, was nothing and he wanted to die. He couldn’t die but in a moment of temper Joe got into a fight with another vampire resulting in one of his arms and legs being ripped off. The vampires were incredibly stupid and had their fight near a fire and the torn limbs got damaged. It took many months of agonising work before they could be re-attached, but they didn’t work right and now Joe was in constant physical pain to accompany the mental agony he always suffered from the loss of Jane.
“Joe and Jane met up again about twelve years later. She told him that she lied before when she said she wanted to be with someone who could give her children. What would be the point when she knew that she couldn’t have children anyway? Jane assured Joe that she only said it so that he could meet a woman who could be his physical equal and be happy with this hypothetical woman because she, Jane, loved him, and only him all that time. Jane told Joe she loved him so much that she had done nothing during the years apart except be miserable.
“But Jane had said she loved him before and would never leave him so Joe did not trust her word. Perhaps she had not met the right human yet or, most probably, it was just her guilt talking.
“Joe’s fight was not really Jane’s fault but Joe couldn’t play music like he used to, he couldn’t run at all and she said she left him only because she loved him. Jane felt so guilty because if she hadn’t left it would not have happened so she had to do something to make it better. Even though nothing could be done to right the problems, by some happy chance human blood helped the pain so Jane decided to try to make up for Joe’s suffering by donating a pint of her blood to Joe every month. Oh, and Joe could now have the rest of his family back.
“If you were Joe, how would you feel?”
I could feel the tension in the silence. I nearly went to peek at his face, but couldn’t risk it.
“So angry that I could kill. I would want to tell her what to do with her blood and it wouldn’t be polite and I would want to make her suffer for every second that I had suffered, but to do so right by my side so I could watch her suffer. But after a while, I would realise that seeing her suffer was only adding to my own suffering and would want to move on to making the best of what we did have. And hopefully I would accept the gift of her blood in the spirit it was meant even if I couldn’t take it every month from her.
“I’ve answered your question, now you answer mine. How would Jane feel after making that sacrifice for him, only to discover how it turned out? If you were Jane, how would you feel?”
I really didn’t want to answer. It made me think of things from his side of things too much and to be honest, I was more concerned with my own perspective. I ignored the question.
“I guess you know Jasper came to see me today.”
He sighed his acknowledgement of my avoidance. But he knew me well enough to know that although I didn’t verbally answer, my mind would know truth.
“Yes. You rather upset him by not letting him take any of the blame for what happened.”
“Because he is not to blame for what he is. I am a little to blame for the incident; the rest of the blame belongs to the fates. You are to blame for leaving me and making sure I lost Alice too. I am to blame for the decisions I made after you left.”
“Bella, you are not to blame at all for that incident. In trying to protect you I lost control and hurt you so much that you needed stitches! You know, if you blamed me for everything, I could understand why you won’t forgive me, but since you don’t and carrying a grudge is not one of your talents, why can you not forgive me?”
I knew that he would think that it was a matter of forgiveness.
“It’s hard to explain. I always thought that you were too perfect for me.”
I held up a finger to stop him. “I’m trying to explain how I feel not ask you to tell me why my feelings are wrong, okay?”
I didn’t wait for his response. “I could never understand how you could love me and not get frustrated at the way my human frailties held you back. One of the reasons I wanted you to convert me was so that I would be strong enough, perhaps pretty enough, to hold onto you. I knew human me would never be able to do so, especially as I got older, slower, frailer and even less attractive than I was. The snide comments we would receive as I got older would hurt us both and even if you did love me as much as I loved you, I expected that your response to the comments would, eventually, be to leave me. So I knew that you would want to leave my world one day, but you didn’t want me to join you in yours.
“If I believed you, and we were together as a couple now, the comments, they would crucify you. And every time I caught a glimpse, mentally or literally, of my older scarred and broken body next to your seventeen year old perfection, it would crucify me. I expect the end result to be the same with you leaving me and I will always be waiting for it to happen.”
“Okay, I understand those concerns. I have a couple of ideas on how to combat them. The first problem is easy to deal with, even if I don’t like it. I make sure that no one knows that we are together. My family would know but no one else would have to.”
I didn’t like to burst his balloon, but if we were together again, I didn’t think that I would be able to stop myself from lighting up like a christmas tree whenever he was around so the comments about the batty old cripple having a crush on him would be just as snide.
“As to your scars, I’ll need a little time to address that concern but I will. But in the mean time, I want you ask yourself if you would still love me if I wasn’t so physically perfect.”
It was very annoying when he was right. I sent a scowl in his general direction. He knew that I knew, but at least since I wasn’t looking at him I didn’t have to see his smirk.
“One of the things you said about Jane made me want to ask you something. You can tell me it is none of my concern if you wish, but still ...”
“What do you want to know?” I asked, not quite with dread, but definitely a touch of apprehension.
“What you said about Jane always knowing she couldn’t have children. Did you pick that because you ...?”
“I chose that example because it struck as one of those human experiences that you probably worried about me missing out on.”
“So you could?”
“Before I parked my truck on the rail track I had no reason to suppose that I would not be able to have children.”
“But since then?”
“I lost an ovary, fallopian tube and my uterus. There is now no chance of me having a baby.”
I wished I was brave enough to look at him to see how he took the news.
“I am so sorry, Bella” he said quietly and he wrapped his arms around me, gently holding my face to his chest.
Oh how I missed this: the feel of his cold solid, comforting arms holding me to his perfect body; the scent that is like no other on this earth invading my senses. I wanted to stay there forever. This was my home. Could I really turn down the chance to spend more time like this – safe, pampered, cared for, maybe even loved?
He lifted me up and placed me in his lap. He kissed the top of my head and groaned.
“Please, can you tell me everything? Everything, so that there are no new surprises for me to endure, please Bella.”
I thought about his request. Perhaps it would be better if there were no secrets and everything was out in the open. But I didn’t think that I was up to doing the telling.
“No, but I’ll let Carlisle tell you” I was almost grudging.
“Thank you. Perhaps that would be best, it gets harder to hold myself together the more I hear so perhaps you not being there will help.”
I asked him what his family did when they left Forks.
“Alice traced her human history and I tried my hand at tracking. I wasn’t very good at it.”
That was a scenario that I could never have imagined, something that he wasn’t very good at!
“I tracked Victoria down to Texas then followed a false trail down to Brazil. Now I know that she went to Seattle to try to get to you and created an army of new born vampires to help her. So while she was plotting your death in Seattle, I was looking for her on the other side of the earth. Irina, one of our Denali cousins, got quite close to Laurent when he stayed with them. She was very upset when he just disappeared. Carlisle is debating on whether we should tell her what happened or just let it go. We feel we owe our gratitude to the pack for saving you, but Irina might feel a little different so it might be best if she never finds out the truth.”
“If she doesn’t know he is dead, she will always be wondering, perhaps waiting for him to come back to her. She needs to know.”
I just hoped the fact that Laurent died so I could live would not cause friction between the Denali friends and the Cullens. When I said as much he started to laugh.
“Bella, you are so silly. I suppose it’s part of your charm and one of the reasons I love you so much. Only you could be concerned over such a thing when the alternative was your death. You are totally absurd. You have no idea how much I missed your alternative way of looking at things.”