Edward stayed, holding Bella's hand. His face was dead again. He didn't seem to have the energy to keep up even that little hint of hope he'd had before. They stared into each other's eyes, but not in a gooey way. It was like they were having a conversation. Kind of reminded me of Sam and Emily.

No, it wasn't gooey, but that only made it harder to watch.

I knew what it was like for Leah, having to see that all the time. Having to hear it in Sam's head. Of course we all felt bad for her, we weren't monsters - in that sense, anyway. But I guess we'd blamed her for how she handled it. Lashing out at everyone, trying to make us all as miserable as she was.

I would never blame her again. How could anyone help spreading this kind of misery around? How could anyone not try to ease some of the burden by shoving a little piece of it off on someone else?

And if it meant that I had to have a pack, how could I blame her for taking my freedom? I would do the same. If there was a way to escape this pain, I'd take it, too.

Rosalie darted downstairs after a second, flying through the room like a sharp breeze, stirring up the burning smell. She stopped inside the kitchen, and I heard the creak of a cupboard door.

"Note ear, Rosalie," Edward murmured. He rolled his eyes.

Bella looked curious, but Edward just shook his head at her.

Rosalie blew back through the room and disappeared again.

"This was your idea?" Bella whispered, her voice rough as she strained to make it loud enough for me to hear. Forgetting that I could hear just fine. I kind of liked how, a lot of the time, she seemed to forget that I wasn't

completely human. I moved closer, so that she wouldn't have to work so hard.

"Don't blame me for this one. Your vampire was just picking snide comments out of my head."

She smiled a little. "I didn't expect to see you again."

"Yeah, me, either," I said.

It felt weird just standing here, but the vampires had shoved all the furniture out of the way for the medical setup. I imagined that it didn't bother them - sitting or standing didn't make much difference when you were stone. Wouldn't bother me much, either, except that I was so exhausted.

"Edward told me what you had to do. I'm sorry."

"S'okay. It was probably only a matter of time till I snapped over something Sam wanted me to do," I lied.

"And Seth," she whispered.

"He's actually happy to help."

"I hate causing you trouble."

I laughed once - more a bark than a laugh.

She breathed a faint sigh. "I guess that's nothing new, is it?"

"No, not really."

"You don't have to stay and watch this," she said, barely mouthing the words.

I could leave. It was probably a good idea. But if I did, with the way she looked right now, I could be missing the last fifteen minutes of her life.

"I don't really have anywhere else to go," I told her, trying to keep the emotion out of my voice. "The wolf thing is a lot less appealing since Leah joined up."

"Leah?" she gasped.

"You didn't tell her?" I asked Edward.

He just shrugged without moving his eyes from her face. I could see it wasn't very exciting news to him, not something worth sharing with the more important events that were going down.

Bella didn't take it so lightly. It looked like it was bad news to her.

"Why?" she breathed.

I didn't want to get into the whole novel-length version. "To keep an eye on Seth."

"But Leah hates us," she whispered.

Us.Nice. I could see that she was afraid, though.

"Leah's not going to bug anyone." But me. "She's in my pack" - I grimaced at the words - "so she follows my lead." Ugh.

Bella didn't look convinced.

"You're scared of Leah, but you're best buds with the psychopath blonde?"

There was a low hiss from the second floor. Cool, she'd heard me.

Bella frowned at me. "Don't. Rose... understands."

"Yeah," i grunted. "She understands that you're gonna die and she doesn't care, s'long as she gets her mutant spawn out of the deal."

"Stop being a jerk, Jacob," she whispered.

She looked too weak to get mad at. I tried to smile instead. "You say that like it's possible."

Bella tried not to smile back for a second, but she couldn't help it in the end; her chalky lips pulled up at the corners.

And then Carlisle and the psycho in question were there. Carlisle had a white plastic cup in his hand  - the kind with a lid and a bendy straw. Oh - not clear,now I got it. Edward didn't want Bella to have to think about what she was doing any more than necessary. You couldn't see what was in the cup at all. But I could smell it.

Carlisle hesitated, the hand with the cup half-extended. Bella eyed it, looking scared again.

"We could try another method," Carlisle said quietly.

"No," Bella whispered. "No,111 try this first. We don't have time...."

At first I thought she'd finally gotten a clue and was worried about herself, but then her hand fluttered feebly against her stomach.

Bellareached out and took the cup from him. Her hand shook a little, and I could hear the sloshing from inside. She tried to prop herself up on one elbow, but she could barely lift her head. A whisper of heat brushed down my spine as I saw how frail she'd gotten in less than a day.

Rosalie put her arm under Bella's shoulders, supporting her head, too, like you did with a newborn. Blondie was all about the babies.

"Thanks," Bella whispered. Her eyes flickered around at us. Still aware enough to feel self-conscious. If she wasn't so drained, I'd bet she'd've blushed.

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