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Cerebral

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A/N: Here we go again. So. Eleanor doesn’t get a lot of fics written for her because she asks for weird ass fics. When she dangled this plot line in front of me...well, it’s so deliciously angsty. This is her fault.

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Edward Cullen was a joke in the Swan-Black household. Cocky little shit. He’d irked Bella since they were in medical school together. When they’d graduated, and Edward was accepted at a different hospital, Bella had hoped she’d never see him again.

No such luck. He’d chosen her same field, and even more annoyingly, his career had followed about the same trajectory as Bella’s. As a result, he and Bella were often spoken about hand-in-hand in the medical community as two of the brightest up-and-coming neurosurgeons in the tri-state area. Then, of course, they were often at the same lectures, conferences, and supplementary classes. His name came up a lot during consults as their patients tended to go between one hospital and the other for second opinions.

No matter how irritating her colleague had been, Jake always made her laugh about it rather than dwell. He did an especially great impression of the man’s arrogant walk. That was what Bella loved most about her husband. He was her best friend. Even on her worst days, he never failed to cheer her up.

It was some kind of irony that Jacob ended up with a brain disease. Ironic because Bella could help everyone else in the world, but not him.

“Moyamoya disease isn’t fatal,” Bella told him. He was making a good show of it, but she could tell he was freaked out.

Still, Jake being Jake, he tried to joke. “What was the name of that procedure?” he asked with a wicked grin.

Bella’s lip twitched. “Encephaloduroarteriosynangiosis.” It was one of the surgical options that alleviated the condition.

“Oooh.” He snaked an arm around her waist and pulled her toward him. “And the other?”

She pushed up on the balls of her feet, tempting him to kiss her. “Encephalomyosynangiosis.”

“I love it when you talk dirty to me, babe,” he said, his voice a low rumble near her ear just before he claimed her lips. “And Dr. Cullen is assisting, huh? Are you sure I shouldn’t be worried?”

Bella grimaced at that. Theoretically, Jake’s surgery would be performed by Dr. Snow, but she’d asked and sure enough, Dr. Cullen would be assisting. More than likely at this stage, it would actually be Dr. Cullen performing the majority of the surgery. She gave him grudging credit. Rather than be an insufferable ass about it, he’d been pretty good at patiently fielding each and every one of the questions Bella had thrown at him to test his knowledge. She’d often heard he had good bedside manner, and it was out in full force. He treated her like he would have any other patient’s wife except for the fact he was free to throw technical jargon around when he did so.

“Dr. Cullen is a lot of things, but he’s good at what he does. Dr. Snow is well known too.” Bella swallowed hard. “You’ll be in good hands.”

“I’d rather be in your hands. I know how good your hands can be.” He waggled his eyebrows.

“I’d rather you be in my hands too,” Bella grumbled, more serious than she knew he wanted her to be. “Fricken ethics, right?”

“Fucking a,” Jake agreed.

It was only a week later that Bella found herself facing off against Dr. Snow and Dr. Cullen again, this time with Jake in the hospital bed between them. Her husband looked bemused, and Bella quizzed Edward for the thousandth time.

Dr. Snow looked ever so slightly annoyed. “Dr. Swan, of course, you have the option of having Dr. Cullen taken off your husband’s case, but we’re down to the wire now.”

“Dr. Swan.” Dr. Cullen reached out and took her hands. When he did, Bella felt a jolt go down her spine that shut her up. The man squeezed her hands and smiled reassuringly before he let go. “We’re going to take good care of him. I promise, I know what I’m doing.”

Bella ran her fingers through Jacob’s hair on the side of his head that wasn’t shaved. “Good stitchwork, right?”

“What am I, a quilt?” Jacob pretended to grouse.

Edward just smiled. “You’ll hardly even notice the scar.”

“They’ve got this, babe,” Jake said. “Dr. Cullen comes from a long line of competent surgeons. He told us so himself only every gala we went to, remember?”

Edward only smirked. “It’s true.”

Jake looked to Edward. “So is this more like Hannibal or Frankenstein?”

“I’m not going to eat your brain even with a nice chianti,” Edward quipped back. “Dr. Frankenstein it is, then. Are you ready?”

Jake turned back to Bella. “Just take a nap. It’ll be over before you know it.”

It didn’t take long for Bella to decide being on the other end of this dance just plain sucked. She hated waiting maybe even more than a normal patient’s wife would. She went over the surgery in her head, trying to gauge what stage they’d be at. It was a doctor’s curse to know too much about what could go wrong, even though she of all people knew that the prognosis for this scary but not often fatal disease was optimistic.

Some hours later, Bella finally spotted Dr. Snow and Dr. Cullen headed down the hallway in her direction. She stood, trying to ignore the twisting in her gut and the bad feeling that crept along her skin. There was something she didn’t like about the way they walked—specifically the way Dr. Cullen trailed behind Dr. Snow instead of at his side.

The closer they got, Bella realized she knew the expressions they both wore. All the breath left her body as she realized without either of them having to say what had happened. It was written in the grim determination on Dr. Snow’s face and the defeat of Dr. Cullen’s slumped shoulders. She’d worn that look before.

It was the look of two doctors who’d lost a patient.

Bella clasped her hands over her mouth, muffling an anguished cry. Her legs gave out from underneath her, and she sank to her knees, her breath coming in sharp gasps as she reeled.

Dr. Cullen was at her side in an instant. He crouched beside her, a gentle hand on her shoulder that felt like it would burn her skin. Her body had seized, though, and she couldn’t throw him off. She could barely think at all as Dr. Snow crouched and began to speak to her in that soft, rational and yet apologetic tone she despised.

Complications, he said. Unexpected complications that didn’t really have anything to do with Jake’s condition. These things happened, and there was nothing anyone could do. Theoretically, she should have understood. She’d given that speech before.

But Bella couldn’t silence the voice in her head, loud and getting louder, that screamed there had to be some mistake. Dr. Snow was lying, it said. Someone was to blame. Someone did the wrong thing.

She raised her head, looking the doctor in the eyes. “Who was working on him when it happened?” she demanded.

If she’d blinked, she would have missed the way Dr. Snow’s eyes skirted to Dr. Cullen for a fraction of a second before he looked at her. “Dr. Swan, you know—”

Bella whirled on Dr. Cullen. She grabbed him by the front of his scrubs and shook him hard enough he was knocked off balance onto his ass. “What did you do? It’s not a hard procedure. What the hell did you do? What the hell did you do?”

Dr. Cullen stared back at her with wide, guilty eyes. For once, he didn’t look like the arrogant ass he was. He looked like a little boy who’d been caught doing something bad.

“It wasn’t a life threatening procedure,” Bella bellowed. “You incompetent bastard. You killed him.”

Nothing else made sense. This wasn’t supposed to be a big deal. It was a scary disease, rare, but not fatal when treated. The surgery sounded scarier than it was. She’d even told Jake’s father and sisters they didn’t need to come. Let them come over in a couple of days when Jake could go home.

He was supposed to be home in just two days. The biggest drawback of the surgery was the fact he’d had to cut his beautiful long hair. That was all. It was nothing.

“You killed him. You son of a bitch. You killed him.”

Dr. Cullen reached out as though he was going to put a hand on Bella’s shoulder again, but Bella recoiled. “No. You don’t touch me,” she snarled.

“Dr. Swan, I assure you, Dr. Cullen did everything he could. He made the same calls I would have made myself. Your husband was in good hands. It just wasn’t enough. Not today.”

A cold feeling had settled deep in her gut. It spread quickly through her veins and choked her throat. Bella wrapped her arms around herself and hunched over, breathing too fast.

This wasn’t happening. There was no way she was here in this hospital alone with the man who’d killed her husband and the doctor who was protecting him. In every horror of her life, she’d never felt this desolate and alone.

Alone without her best friend; the person who knew her best in the world. The man who made her laugh every day, who was like sunshine—all warmth and brightness.

Edward Cullen had killed all the light in her world. He’d killed her husband.

“You killed him,” she whispered.

Then, she broke.

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A/N: Soooo. Many thanks to Betsy, Eleanor, MoH, Packy, Mina (that banner, tho….whoa. Whoa), and Ausha.

How are you, kiddos? Buckle up. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride.