I believe this chapter contains a few lines taken directly from the original books. Those do not belong to me, and no copyright infringement is intended.
It was Sunday night. I had spent the entire day with James, my nerves completely out of control. I couldn't believe I was jumping into this so quickly. But what other choice did I have? A mental institution? Fuck. That. I wasn't crazy, I wasn't going to pretend to be crazy. They couldn't force me to do that. No one could. And so here I was, standing in front of my mirror and smirking nervously at myself. I sat down, pulling my legs inward and underneath me, and studied my reflection intently. James would be here in a matter of hours.
This was my last chance. I studied my face carefully. What would change? My eyes scraped over my slim, angular eyebrows. I studied the soft curve that led down to my nose, which was thin and rounded off slightly at the end. My cheekbones were high, causing my cheeks to lead down to my chin in flat lines. I had long lashes that framed my heavy brown eyes nicely. I hadn't worn make-up much until recently, but I knew that a bit of eyeliner made my eyes a daring brown that sort of gleamed beneath my dark hair and pale skin. My lips were smooth and didn't have the indent that fell from a nose the way most people did, instead the seemed to be completely rounded, tapering into thinner lines towards the side of my mouth but remaining full in the middle. I assumed my teeth were normal, nothing noticeable about them. They were a nice white behind my pink lips. My jawline was defined, helping to pull the sharper angles of my face together. My hair was a relatively boring brown, though at times in the right lighting had some red hints to it. Not tonight. It hung limply around my face, messy and slept-in. I sighed at myself.
I really didn't see how things could change a whole lot. It wasn't that I didn't think I was pretty enough, I suppose I was, but there was so much that could be different. If only my hair was softer on it's own, maybe a more lively color. Or my eyes, I thought about James's glorious eyes and found myself wishing for their green. I frowned at myself.
I should take a picture. So that I could compare later. I hopped up and dug through the drawer in my desk until I found my digital camera. I walked back to the mirror, flipping on the lights as I did so, and sat down again. I practiced a few smiles and felt ridiculous.
I lifted the camera, turned it on and held it towards the mirror. I smirked at myself and snapped the photo. Here's to hoping there's something noticeable that changes.
I then got up and emptied my duffle bag onto my bed. James would have to grab this when he left tonight, so I would have things for later. I pulled out my favorite outfits and folded them neatly, pressing them into as small of a space as possible in my duffle bag. I grabbed all my nicer undergarments and pushed them in the duffle bag as well. I forced all my toiletries into the corner and wondered if I would even need them. James certainly had enough at his house. I removed them, deciding they were probably a waste of space, and set them back on my nightstand.
In went the camera. In went my iPod. In went the three packs of cigarettes and the lighter that I kept in my room. In went my favorite books. I looked around the room and saw my small jewelry box. I dumped most of it's contents into the duffle bag, leaving my least favorites to remain. I added a few pairs of socks and my sneakers. I zipped the bag up and left it on the right side of my bed, farthest from the door.
It was ten o'clock. Charlie would be heading to bed soon. And then everything would be put into motion. I curled up beneath my blanket, debating if I really wanted to wear my comfortable shorts and grey beater to bed. I got up again and changed into my long plaid pj pants before crawling back into bed. This was better, I supposed, more natural.
I heard Charlie stomp up the stairs and head into the bathroom. He came out a few minutes later and knocked on my door. I grunted and he entered the room slowly. He walked to the bed and sat down, looking sadly at me. He touched my hair lightly and sighed.
"I just want things to be better for you, Bella."
"I know," I didn't want to be harsh to him. It would only be cruel later on. He needed to know I loved him. I sat up and pulled at a loose thread on the bedspread. "I love you, Dad." He offered me a soft smile and hugged me gently.
"I love you too, kid." Then he became stiff, clearly uncomfortable, and stood from his seat. "Well, I think I'm heading to bed. I'll see you in the morning?"
I nodded and he left the room I collapsed back into a laying position and waited. James would wait until he could hear Charlie's snores. Half an hour later, I heard James open my bedroom window slowly, creeping in and shutting it behind him. He walked over to the bed, his hands stuffed into his pockets, and gave me a smile that looked more like a grimace.
"You have your bag ready?" I nodded and gestured to the right side of the bed. He took a seat in almost the same place Charlie had and nodded quietly. We remained silent for a few minutes, sitting awkwardly and glancing at each other every so often. He cleared his throat and looked me in the eyes. "Well, uh, are you ready?"
A flicker of fear sparked in my chest but I smothered it quickly. I forced the thought of what this felt like the last time it happened out of my mind. This had to be done. James would take care of me, he'd be gentle. He wouldn't leave my side. I steeled myself against the panic and gripped the sheets around me tightly in my fists. "Yes."
James studied my face and let out a sigh. Nodding once again, he stood up from his seat and turned around to crawl onto the bed with me. I let myself lay down slowly and held my breath as he pulled himself directly above me, holding himself up with his palms flat on my pillow on either side of my head. "I'm sorry for this, Bella. I know it's going to hurt." His voice was small, meek and barely audible even in the quiet room. I gave him my best smile and shrugged. I knew if I opened my mouth the panic would fill me and James would back out. This had to be done. His face came closer to mine and he gently pressed his lips to mine. Though his body temperature was dramatically cooler than mine, his kiss felt warm and inviting. He pulled back before I could react and then his lips were pressed against the pulse in my neck and his breath was on my skin.
And then he bit me, licking the wound before he pulled back. It wasn't hard, but it didn't have to be. The spot on my neck where he'd bitten me grew warm. It wasn't so bad really, if I thought about it. Just a warm spot on my neck, the memory of his mouth opening around my skin. I looked up at James and watched his face as he studied me. I gave him a gentle smile, for once not so frightened. This almost seemed like it could go well. Maybe once the venom had been in your system your body knew how to react to it. The warmth on my neck got more and more real, warmer and warmer.
The heat was so real it was hard to believe he wasn't pressing an overheated hot pad to my neck. James smiled down at me sadly, like he knew something I didn't know. His hand brushed against my cheek. The warmth on my neck increased. I lifted my hand and pressed his hand against the hot spot on my neck, hoping to cool it down. It was probably just aggitated because it's where he'd bitten me.
Too hot. Much, much too hot. It no longer felt like a hot pad, instead it felt like he was pressing a curling iron to my neck. I flinched away from his hand and his expression didn't change. Was he expecting this? Flinching away didn't help, he'd never been holding anything against my neck except his cool fingers. I realized it didn't matter what was pressed to my neck, the heat was inside of me.
The burning grew - rose and peaked and rose again until it surpassed anything I'd ever felt. I felt the pulse behind the fire raging now in my chest. Scorching its way through my veins, covering the entire distance in but a few short seconds.
James must have predicted this because his hand was suddenly covering my mouth and he was cooing gently in my ear. He had told me he would wait for an hour before letting me make noise, to be sure the venom spread. Then he would release me, grab my duffle bag and run to the hospital. I shut my eyes firmly, gritting my teeth and holding my breath for as long as possible. I felt him kissing my face gently, I could hear the pain in his voice as I writhed beneath his grasp. Gently, his free hand pressed against where he bit me and the chill of his touch did nothing for the burning.
It felt like my veins were burning, like the blood rushing in my body was replaced with acid. And then it expanded, the acid eating up my blood and pushing further through my veins. I felt it climb up to my face and I fought back a scream with everything inside of me as the fire licked it's way over my face and behind my eyes and up my throat. I felt it travel everywhere at the same time, crawling through the veins in my arms and reaching my fingertips at an incredible pace, rushing down my legs until every muscle in my body was tensed with pain. I clenched and unclenched my fists, fighting off the urge to rip my skin off and free this unbearable burning.
He pulled me against his chest and whispered, "I'm going to make this easier on you, okay Bella? It will be easier, I promise. Trust me, please." I let out a whimper, begging him weakly to do whatever he had to do. The scorching pain flew through my chest, wrapping a coil tightly around my heart and squeezing impossibly tighter. The burning got worse, seeming to suffocate my frantic heart, ripping into the muscle to let the acid seep into it. I felt my mind grow fuzzy, the pain all over my body began dulling slowly. Within minutes, the fierce blistering that had taken over every single inch of my body was quieted, not gone but dimmed. I felt my head get heavy, my eyelids drooping. It occurred to me that James had promised to make this easier and I began wondering if he was doing this somehow, if he was pulling me from my own body so that the pain was nothing but a tugging memory in the back of my mind.
James held me silently for what felt like no time at all and yet, somewhere in my cloudy thoughts I knew it had seemed like forever to my body. I knew my body was in agony, writhing and twitching and trying desperately to fight off the venom. I knew I would have to face it again, soon, so I let myself drift in this little blissful moment without thinking of the pain. I would know it again soon enough. I heard James's voice from far away, it sounded thick with guilt that I couldn't understand.
"Bella, Bella I have to go now. I can't stay here anymore, you have to be strong for me, baby. You have to." Understanding hit me with a wave of fear. The pain was going to come back, James had to leave me. I wanted to scream at him to stay, to beg him and have him keep the pain at bay. I felt myself sinking back into reality, the cloud of my thoughts dissipating quickly. I felt his cold kiss on my temple, chilling the little beads of sweat that were there. I opened my eyes and met his, realizing that my vision was blurry with tears I hadn't realized my body was shedding. His eyes were nothing but sadness, the lovely green looking as much like sorrow as I could imagine anything could. And then he shut his eyes and the pain was back. I arched my back as he released me from him and the scream that escaped my lips was hardly something I was aware of. My throat was on fire. My entire body was on fire. I was being buried alive by hot coals. Somehow in my life I had done something horrible, the most unforgivable thing known to man, and now I was paying for it.
The acid had replaced the blood in my veins. It was everywhere. Places I never thought of in my entire life were bursting with hungry flame. I could feel the acid in my veins boiling, bubbling and speeding through my body. I was vaguely aware of the yells and cries escaping my lips. I knew James was gone, I didn't know how long it had been since he had escaped from my window. I wanted to be with him, I wanted to be free of this. I wanted to beg him to kill me, to stop this smoldering.
I was vaguely aware of Charlie bursting in my bedroom, knocking the door completely off it's hinges, with his gun in his hand. Now was my chance, I wanted to scream. To beg for someone to kill me now, before I lived one more second in this pain. I shut my eyes to keep from panicking any more than I already was and tried to keep my body from thrashing about wildly on the bed. I felt Charlie's hands on my face, he was yelling my name repeatedly. Every time I opened my mouth to respond the only thing that got passed the burning in my throat was some variation of a shriek. I felt him lift me into his arms and carry me down the stairs, he didn't seem all that phased by my wild thrashing and I heard him start the cruiser, flicking on the lights and speeding off to the hospital.
Everything was going according to plan, except that I felt like my entire bloodstream was about to nuke my body. The boiling feeling never stopped. It seemed to take forever to get to the hospital with me lying in the back of the cruiser yelling and wailing, kicking my legs and flailing my entire body around like I was possessed. I was strapped to a bed, my hands and feet tied down to keep from injuring a doctor or nurse. The fire blazed hotter and I continued to scream even though my throat was raw and bleeding from all the volume I'd been pushing through it for so long. I felt like they were pouring liquid metal down my throat.
Something about tests, someone mentioned pain medication. Charlie was sitting beside me, his hand dragging across my forehead and his voice full of agony as he told me they would make me better, that he would stay here with me. Somehow I knew he was crying, even through the blinding pain, and I wished I could reach out to him and comfort him. My poor father.
Impossibly hotter. The flames licked their way through every insignificant inch of my body.
The pain never ceased, only swelled and expanded and repeated. Eventually I lost the ability to move my body. Was I paralyzed? Why couldn't I move? Why couldn't I scream? This wasn't part of the stories the Cullens had told me.
My mind was unbearably clear - sharpened by the fierce pain - and I saw the answer almost as soon as I could form the questions.
Why hadn't they asked me? I would have been able to tell them how preposterous the idea was. Because I'd had morphine and venom together in my system before, and I knew the truth. I knew the numbness of the medicine was completely irrelevant while the venom seared through my veins. I wouldn't have been able to guess that the morphine would have this effect - that it would pin me down and gag me. Hold me paralyzed while I burned.
All I wanted was to die, to have never been born. The whole of my existence did not outweigh this pain. Wasn't worth living through it for one more heartbeat.
Let me die, let me die, let me die.
And, for a never-ending space, that was all there was. Just the fiery torture, and my soundless shrieks, pleading for death to come. Nothing else, not even time. So that made it infinite, with no beginning and no end. One infinite moment of pain. The endless burn raged on.
I shrugged on the long white coat and stuffed a few pens in the pocket. With a quick glance in the mirror I turned and walked out of the locker room for the doctors and nurses. I strode directly toward the Intensive Cardiac Care Unit, which was where Bella was located. I needed to know how she was before I got up there, I couldn't just walk into the room and find her worse than I expected. I wouldn't be able to function.
I hated doing this.
I set my jaw and ducked into an abandoned ER room. I leaned my back against the wall, hoping to brace myself for what I knew was coming. Before I could talk myself out of it, I dropped the walls in my head. Like a flood, every single stupid thought in the entire hospital was at my grasp. I fell to my knees, the overload in my head causing me physical pain. I fucking hated this. This was exactly why I didn't do this. I heard everything. The sleazy nurse planning to bed the doctor. The panicked mother wondering how she would pay for her daughter's treatment. The husband willing his wife not to tell the doctor why she had a broken arm. Fuck, I hate this. I took a long, deliberate breath and let it out through my nose. I waited for the noise to calm in my head, I waited for the distinct differences in thoughts. Then I started weeding everyone else out. I listened for Bella, desperately listened for her.
Let me die, let me die, let me die.
The pain that ripped through me nearly threw me to the ground further. The burning ate my veins whole, searing through my body and I couldn't fucking move until I had the sense to drop the walls back down quickly. When I caught my breath, I opened my eyes and found that I was on my knees on the floor, my palms pressed to the cold tile. I was sweating and shaking and my breath was still coming in short bursts. I leaned back against the wall once more. The pain she was in was worse than I'd expected. I shot up from the floor and bolted down the hallway. No one even realized I'd been there as I sped up the stairs and continued down the hall. I came to an abrupt halt in an empty hallway just around the corner of Bella's room. I walked in slowly, causally, and nodded lightly at Charlie as I walked in. Time to play doctor.
"How is she today?"
"She hasn't made any movement since the morphine."
"According to her chart, her heartbeat is erratic. That's not a good sign." Charlie's eyes fell to the floor and he nodded. I wanted to say something comforting, but as far as Charlie, or the rest of the world, was concerned - Bella was dying. I walked towards Bella and went through the motions of checking her vitals. I knew what they were, of course, I knew the second I walked in the room. Her heartbeat had no rhythm, it was random and when it did beat it did so quickly, her breathing was irregular. Her blood pressure was non-existent. The venom was the reason for that. I opened up her chart again and scanned the blood tests they'd done on her. They had no idea what it was in her system. They assumed it was some kind of drug.
Bella had thirty-six more hours of this. That was it. I looked down at her face, serene and covered in sweat. I lay my hand across her forehead, pretending to check for a fever, and narrowed my thoughts down to pulling her consciousness out of her body. I wasn't actually doing such a thing, but the imagery helped me focus, and within a moment I knew she was no longer conscious of her body at all.
I could do this from across the room if I wanted, but it was easier if I could touch the person. I turned and nodded once again to Charlie before heading out of the room and straight out of the hospital. I sat outside on a bench and removed the coat. I didn't need any of the real doctors here questioning me. I put my head between my hands and sighed to myself.
This was incredibly tiring.
I waited like that for hours. By the time I stood up again and pulled the coat on, it was nearly midnight on Tuesday night. Bella was the same, except her thoughts were much more peaceful. I avoided checking them except when I was alone and shut up in a room. I made sure to only do so once a day, I didn't want to be nosy. She could have her own thoughts, I wasn't about to invade her privacy there. I simply needed to make sure she was still detached. And then I was out of her head.
I returned to my bench, pulling out my cigarettes and smoking in silence. This was the routine. I would go up and check on her every few hours, like a good doctor, and then I would return here to my bench where I would wait. It was times like this that I really wished I could just go to fucking sleep. By the time eight o'clock hit on Wednesday night, I was in Bella's hospital room, jacket on and nodding quietly at Charlie. He was broken, it was apparent, Renee had been in and out but had proclaimed within the first twenty four hours that she could no handle watching her daughter die and had left. Leaving Charlie to brave this alone. I was having trouble not just telling him that his daughter would be fine, different but fine. I knew it wasn't right, though, I knew he needed to just have a clean break from Bella. Seeing her never age, seeing her change, it would only hurt him in the end. He wouldn't have wanted this life for Bella.
It was best if he thought she died now. I had brought a cup of coffee with me for him today, knowing that in two hours his daughter's heart would stop beating and he would be destroyed. I sat beside him, letting him talk about her in mumbles. It was what he'd taken to doing whenever I was in the room. He originally started by telling me stories about her when she was younger and would visit him. Eventually his sentences became less and less coherent. He'd mumble her name and a few other words, never really with a direct connection. He was mourning, I understood, so I just let him talk. If it helped...
"Charlie why don't you go ahead and get something to eat? I'll keep an eye on her." He looked up at me and sighed, nodding but clearly not actually capable of eating. But this was the routine. He trusted me to watch her while he went away for ten minutes. I'd been building up this trust slowly, intentionally. Now was the payoff. He stood up and walked down the hallway quietly, I shut the door to her room and was careful to discretely drop all the blinds. I bolted to her bedside, whispering her name into her ear. I lifted the hold I had on her mind just enough that she could think enough to realize what was going on. Distantly, she would feel the pain, but what was more important was she would hear and understand me.
"Bella, you need to be quick, all right? This is the only chance we'll have for this and you need to do this now. Do you understand?" Looking in her eyes, I could see her mind was far away but she met my gaze and nodded. "Open your mouth." As I watched her face, I bit into my own wrist and pressed it to her mouth. Even without the change being complete, her lips sucked on my flesh. I counted the seconds, taking care to be well aware of how much she was taking. Too much would not be good. It would give her too much strength, and for now we needed to keep her as subdued as possible.
Especially once her heartbeat stopped.
After thirty seconds, I forcefully removed my wrist from her mouth and met her eyes, pressing my left hand on her forehead and keeping her down. "Bella, breathe. Slowly. You've had enough." Her eyes were wide, alert, and she nearly glared at me.
My Bella was hungry. I smirked down at her and shook my head. I placed a soft kiss on her forehead. "You will be fine, baby, just relax." And when I pulled away, I strengthened my mental hold on her and she shut her eyes and immediately became still. I set the room back to the way it was, opening the door exactly as it had been, and seated myself in the same chair I had been in when Charlie left.
He returned seven minutes later, not looking any more well fed than before, and seated himself beside me. We sat like that for another hour and a half before Bella's heart monitor went wild. The nurses rushed in, followed by two other doctors. I stood up and rushed to her, imitating them, no one noticed me at all.
Twenty minutes later Bella's heart stopped beating. I forced my grip on her to tighten, keeping her mentally in a coma until I released her. I hated the idea of doing this to her, it felt wrong, but it was the plan we had come up with. The one she wanted. I did as I was asked. They pronounced her dead at ten thirty PM on Wednesday night and Charlie fell to his knees at her bedside, sobbing.