The Underside of Earth - Chapter 5
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Twilight, nor any of the characters…just giving them a new story.


Edward POV

I escape Bella's hospital room as quickly as my feet will carry me; I can't quite muster a run, but am close to it. I need a little while to breathe and think, and that nurse couldn't have walked in at a better time. For a second there, I thought Bella had total recollection of what happened, but then she became confused, and I realized she only remembered something from the very beginning, before she even ran past me…which, oddly enough, confuses me. I'm going to have to ask her about that. Or would that be rude, since I'm basically a stranger to her?

I'm not sure if I'd rather she remembered the details herself, or if I would prefer to talk it out and help her through it. It's quite odd. She is a stranger to me, and I met her all of five hours ago - yet - I want to protect her from this harsh reality. I both hate and love that I am the one who will tell her. Or will her brother tell her?

Seriously. What is going on with me? I'm not usually like this.

Not quite ready to confront the faces in the waiting room, I make my way to the cafeteria. Though I'm not really hungry, Rose or Emmett may be, so I load up on junk food and head back up to the room.

Emmett and Rose have two chairs pulled close together and are speaking in hushed tones with their noses only a few inches apart. When I enter the room, Alice is back, but on her phone; she holds up a finger to me asking for a moment, and Emmett looks over at me.

Speaking to me very quickly, he asks, "Is she awake? Can I go see her yet?" He grabs onto Rose's hand, pulling her up beside him.

"Yeah, she's awake, Emmett, and you can go see her, but one at a time."

He turns back to Rose and kisses her; I walk over to the window to give them some privacy. They speak quietly for a few more minutes, and then I hear their chairs slide apart. I turn around and Emmett is staring at me.

"Did she say anything about what happened, Edward?"

I shake my head. "She doesn't remember anything except running out of the library. I was about to tell her when the nurse came in to do her hourly check. I thought you could talk to her first and see if she remembers anything. Or maybe you could tell her?"

"No. I think it would be best if you told her. You know exactly what happened and….and I don't think I will make it through to the end of it. Will you tell her for me?"

I nod my head and he turns back to Rose, telling her something before he leaves the room.

Now that I know I will be the one to tell her, it hits me like a freight train in the stomach, like it's happening all over again. It's just too much to deal with at the moment. With all that happened today, it's too much to go through again, and if I feel that way, I imagine it will be much worse for her.

Rose returns to the couch and I motion to the round table in the far corner and tell her to help herself to the junk food. I apologize for the pathetic variety but she waves me off. She walks over, viewing the meager selection.

I return my gaze to the night sky in an attempt to clear my doesn't work. After just a few minutes, Alice sidles up beside me and wraps her arm around my waist. I return the sentiment, and wrap mine around her shoulders. She snuggles into my side just a bit more, and we stand like that for a while. Somber Alice does not show herself often, but I am grateful for her right now. I'm just not sure that I can handle her optimism after today's events.

"Was that Jazz on the phone?" I barely recognize my voice. It comes out raspy and tired.

Alice doesn't look at me, but nods. "You sound terrible, Edward. You need sleep. Why don't you go home? It might not be good for her to hear the whole story right now, and she needs her rest too."

"I know. I was just thinking that myself. She's been through a lot today." Too much, and my mind keeps wandering back to her medical file and what I wasn't able to read.

Alice nods. "I'm going to stay here with Rose and her husband. Jazz said he would come and get me whenever I call. Go home, Edward. Get some rest. You look haggard."

"Thanks for the confidence booster, Alice." I give her small smile, to let her know that I'm not bothered by her comment. Not that she would care anyway.

"But you do. I'm not sure I've ever seen you like this. It's a bit disarming, Edward," she says and looks up at me.

I sigh. All of a sudden I feel incredibly tired, both physically and emotionally drained. I keep seeing the image of her floating under the surface of the ocean in the flashes of the lightning. It's a loop that keeps replaying in my mind.

Alice's comment makes my mind up for me. I need my bed. As much as I would simply love to just get this over with, I don't have the energy for it right now. I need sleep. The only reason I was able to convince Dr. Marcus that I didn't need to be checked out is because I'm a doctor. I know the signs and symptoms to be looking for and I'm also Carlisle's son. He trusted my judgment based simply on that fact. But the day that started out so simple turned horribly wrong, and it is wearing on me. I am relieved that Alice had talked me into taking some vacation days so that I don't have to go back to work for a while.

Alice and I sit and chat for a while. I don't want to go until I have a chance to talk to Emmett…and his sister. While I don't think she will be happy about me making her wait to hear what happened, I think it would be best. I will have to convince Emmett of this as well.

After thirty minutes or so, he enters the room. He wears his own mask, hiding what emotions he can, but his eyes are rimmed with the scarlet of crying. He makes his way over to the couch and to his wife and sags down to sit beside her. I hear them whispering, but don't really make much out of it. I turn my attention back to Alice. It's none of my business and they deserve their privacy.

Alice and I fall to silence, but she pulls a deck of cards out of her purse and we tiredly attempt to play speed. Where I once reigned as a champion in this game, my brain simply refuses to think or see quickly enough to keep pace with Alice. After three games, she rolls her eyes at me and scoops up the cards to play solitaire.

I stand up to stretch, and at the same time, Rose rises and looks at me and then back to her husband.

"I'm going to go see Bella now. I'm sure they are going to want her left alone soon - it's getting late - but I want to talk to her tonight."

She kisses Emmett on the top of the head and walks out of the room. I walk over to the far end of the couch and sit down. Emmett is at the opposite end of me, not just sitting on the couch, but more like melded into the couch. He appears to no longer have any kind of energy to remain upright. I can't say I blame him.

"Excuse me for saying so Doc, but you don't look so great."

I run my hand through my disheveled hair, pushing it to the side. "Yeah, but I can say the same for you, Emmett."

He looks away from me to stare ahead at the blank pastel blue wall. We sit there in the silence until it is broken by the shrill ring of Alice's cell phone. She answers on the first ring. When I look away from her, Emmett is looking at me again.

"I think you should wait to tell her, Doc," Emmett says to me, scratching at the five o'clock shadow on his face.

I hadn't been holding my breath, but what I had in me, I let out. "I think that's a great idea. I don't think she is ready to hear what happened, and to be honest, I don't really have the energy," I say, feeling more relieved every second.

He nods his head and looks down in his lap. For the first time I see that he is clutching something in his right hand. He looks back up at me and my gaze comes back up to his eyes one second behind. He holds his hand out towards me, and I reach mine out and open my hand.

Thick paper - photo paper. Face down in my palm. I don't flip it up right away. He stands up from the couch.

"I'm going for a short walk. But that….that is why today happened." And with that, he walks out of the room.

I look over to Alice. She is on the phone again, I assume with Jasper, but she is staring at me.

I flip the picture over.

The picture is of Bella and a man. But the Bella in this picture is so different than the Bella I met today. This Bella is smiling and has a sparkle in her eye. She is happy and the smile on her face stretches wide. They are almost two completely different people, the Bella in this picture and the Bella I pulled from the water. I am actually quite sure they are two different people, at least in personality and demeanor. Picture Bella is happy and full of life. Ocean Bella is simply, not. I have to look away from Picture Bella; she makes me sadder than Ocean Bella.

I focus on the man. He is quite large, maybe close to Emmett's size in muscle mass, but quite a bit taller. His skin tone is somewhere between olive and russet, complimented by his dark brown eyes and hair. He is young and good looking. His smile is massive, even in comparison to Bella's.

Where is this man that makes Bella so happy? Why isn't he here?

Unable to look at the picture anymore, I set it down on the middle cushion of the couch, face down, and stand up. I walk over to the table where Alice is sitting, and see that she has a set of scrubs sitting on top of the table. The blue scrub top has the Seattle Children's logo on it, so I know that she grabbed it from my room at our parents'.

She is just finishing up her conversation with Jasper, but she hands the dry clothing out to me. I snatch it up like a lifeline. Why hadn't she given it to me earlier to change into?

I make my way into the private restroom that is attached to our waiting room; it is large enough to accommodate wheelchairs, so I have plenty of leg room to change. I flip the light on and lock the door behind me, instantly pulling off my gray, long sleeved shirt that is now quite stiff. I toss it to the floor and push the lever for the paper towel dispenser several times and wet it in the sink. The water is cold, but it feels good against my skin, wiping away the salt residue that clings to me. After wiping down my arms, torso and neck, I throw it away. I kick my shoes off and pry my socks off of my feet. They will most definitely need to be disposed of. Even after I remove them, they still keep the stiff shape of my feet and ankles. It's actually quite comical. My jeans actually hurt to pull off. The denim is extremely stiff and is not negotiating their removal with me very well at all; I think they actually pull some of my leg hair out. I manage though, and go through the pile of clothes Alice brought back for me. God love her, she remembered the essentials. I pull on a pair of clean socks, boxer briefs and the blue scrub bottoms.

I don't pull the shirt on quite yet. My head is screaming for attention. It itches so badly and I have no brush. I mess with the sink dials for the water and get it warm enough. I wet my hair, trying my best to keep the water in the sink, and not get it on the floor or my clean, dry clothes. With nothing other than the hospital grade hand soap I wash my hair the best I can manage in the small, shallow sink and dry it off with more paper towels. Finally, I put my shirt on. I take my water logged wallet out of my pants and shove the pile of clothes into the garbage can. It's the most fitting thing I can think to do with them.

When I finally emerge from the restroom, carrying my grungy shoes, Rose is back, as is Emmett, and they are once again sitting on the couch.

Emmett looks up at me and musters a tired smile. "You look a little better; your hair no longer needs its own zip code."

I feel my mouth quiver and my lip hitches up just a bit. "I feel better, it's amazing what a little bit of water, minus the salt, and clean clothes can really do." I notice that he has also changed his shirt and Rose now wears an oversized hooded sweatshirt. It looks like it belongs to Emmett. She wears the hood up.

He nods at me and leans over to give Rose a kiss on the cheek, then stands. "Shall we take a walk?"

I look at Alice and then back to him and nod. We head out of the room and down the hallway. After a while we come to a wall of windows that looks down on a small playground and sitting area. There are picnic and park benches scattered around, empty. Of course at this time of night, they would be empty, but the lights still shine down on them.

We stand there for a while, and just as I am about to break the silence that is beginning to lean towards awkward, he speaks.

"Rose disagrees about us waiting to tell her. She thinks Bella needs to know now. I told her I understand, but now is not the time. Maybe in a couple of days or a week after she is out of here and back home. She needs some time to bounce back from this." He quickly glances at me, but then, back at the lonely looking picnic tables.

I nod at him. "Okay. But can I be honest?" He nods. "I'm not sure why you are telling me all this. I'm a total outsider and I barely know any of you. The only odd connection we have is that my sister is marrying your wife's cousin, and that I happened to be in the right place at the right time today."

Again he nods, but doesn't answer me right away. "Honestly, I don't know why I'm telling you all this. Rose asked me the same thing earlier, no offense, but she doesn't see why I'm letting a stranger in on all our family issues. Rose doesn't trust people easily. All I can say is that I have a good feeling about you. You saved my sister's life with no explanation as to why she put herself in that position, and you aren't bombarding us with questions. You cared enough about a stranger to risk your own life, not knowing just how she would need saving."

He sighs and rubs his face with his bear-sized palm and leaves it resting on the back of his neck.

"I don't know how I will ever be able to say thank you enough, Edward. But thank you." He pauses for a moment, and then asks "What are you going to do?" Emmett turns from the window and looks at me pointedly.

I put my hand on his shoulder. "First of all, stop thanking me. Once was more than enough, and of course I would save her. It wasn't an option not to. Second. I'm going to go tell her that we will talk soon, and that she needs her rest before she learns the whole story. Then, I'm going bed."

I reach into the back pocket of my scrubs and retrieve my soggy wallet. I pull out two floppy business cards and hand them to him. "I'm going to give this to you, and you can give it to her. She can call me when she is ready to hear it all."

"Thanks. You ready to go back?" He asks me, already walking back toward the main corridor.

"Yeah. I'm going to go straight to her room, though. Would you tell my sister that I'll talk to her tomorrow?"


We walk down the hall quietly, with nothing more to say. I come to the hallway that leads to his sister's room and turn off while he keeps going. I hope I see him again sometime. In any other situation, I think he could be a pretty fun guy.

I come to Bella's door and hear low murmurs. I recognize two female voices, so the nurse must be in there again. After a while, the nurse emerges and practically jumps out of her shoes when she sees me.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to startle you. Is she awake?" I ask her.

"Yes, but she really needs to get some sleep," the nurse says, giving me an annoyed look.

"I know. I am just going in for a few minutes, and then she won't have any more visitors until morning."

Satisfied, she nods and walks toward the nurse's station.

I take a deep breath and push the door open.

The room is lit with only a small lamp that rests on a table in the corner. Bella sits slightly reclined in the hospital bed, just watching me. The air is charged with words unsaid, and for now, will remain unsaid…but she doesn't know that yet. I really don't want to upset her more after the day she has had, but if we do this now, it will do just that.

"How are you feeling, Bella?"

"A little better. I was able to take a shower and that helped significantly. My hair no longer has the ability to stand up on its own, and I see yours no longer does either." Her gaze looks up to my mop of hair.

"I had to make do, so I washed it in the bathroom sink."

She chuckles a bit at that, which makes me smile. It's nice to hear that come from her, and for a second, she doesn't look so worn out and distraught.

"That sucks. I at least had the luxury of a real shower."

"Well, rub it in why don't cha?" I tease.

I feel myself smiling, and she is too, but hers begins to fade. As does mine. "So are you ready to do this because…"

"I'm not sure if we should do this tonight. I'm actually not sure that I can even stay awake for it. After that shower, wow, my eye lids took on the weight of a sumo wrestler. I can barely keep them open now."

"I think that waiting to hear all this would be better. You just need to rest and get back home. We can talk about this later. I already gave Emmett my card, and I left an extra with him, for you. I will be in Forks, at my parent's house for another three days before heading back to Seattle. Call me when you are ready to talk?"

She nods her head, and I make my way to the corner, clicking the lamp off. I head back to the door, opening it, but then she speaks in a small, almost timid voice.

"You want to know what is truly ironic? For the first time since I can remember, I hadn't felt like I was drowning…when I was in the water. How fucked up is that?"

She doesn't wait for my answer, she rolls over, away from the door, and I leave.
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