"This ain't goodbye,

This is just where love goes,

When words aren't warm enough,

To keep away the cold"

Everything was gray, flat, lifeless. The sunlight straining in to peer through the curtains seemed sickly, even though it was in full force. It was just too bright, too cheerful; masking the grief trying to rip it's way out. "She always loved the sun," Edward said, feeling too dead to bother filtering his thoughts, "At least it hasn't deserted her." He thought she looked like an angel silhouetted against the window like that.

At his words Esme, who was sitting in the corner, gave a small sob and turned into Carlisle's shoulder. Edward didn't even notice, he was too far gone, too lost and despairing to pretend to be strong. Too grief-stricken even to cry. He was numb and all he could do was sit by that hospital bed. Just sit and stare and wait for her to wake up. Wake up wake up wake up wake up !

Everyone in the room stared at the striking bronze-haired man, but he seemed unaware that he had voiced his thoughts again, starting in a low whisper and progressing to half-shout. All his friends, his family, everyone gathered in that room, meant nothing to him at that moment. They could have been strangers.

Six long hours dragged by but Edward didn't move a muscle. All the other people filed out, getting food, going to work… their lives carried on. But not Edward's. Yet, after six hours, the eyes that his gaze had been riveted on slowly fluttered open. The nurse who was in the room gave a yell and ran off to find a doctor. Edward just smiled, tears slipping down his face, tears of happiness. Bella raised her quivering hand from her bed and brushed her husband's cheek, wiping away the tears.

"Why are you crying Edward?" Her voice was weak, but at least it was a voice.

"The doctors… they told me, they told me you would never wake up… that the head trauma from the accident was too strong." Edward felt almost delirious with joy and was half-convinced that he had slipped into a dream. Btu Bella didn't look surprised; she just gave him a sad, sad smile.

"I had to wake up, I had… I had to talk to you one more time…" Bella's voice trailed off. Edward froze.

"What! No! You can't leave me! Please… please don't leave me!" He slid to the floor, his shoulders silently shaking with sobs anew. He held her hand in both of his as if, if he held tight enough, it would keep her tethered to life.

"I have to, I can't… can't hold on much longer. So please listen. Please." The last word came out almost like a plea, which made Edward quiet down so that he could hear her though the tears didn't stop streaming down his face. "Do you… do you remember our first date?" Bella asked him softly and his mind took him back to junior year of high school. Bella had been so far out of his league, but she had still granted him a date. He had planned to take her for a picnic but he forgot how to get home, a skunk got into the food, and it had started raining. Edward could still remember Bella twirling around in the rain, arms raised and face upturned, laughing, not caring that she was soaking wet. She had always been so effervescent, so full of life. He flinched at the memory, in light of how she was at the moment. But he nodded slowly. Bella took hold of his hand.

"I want that to be how you remember me. Not like this," She looked ruefully down at her battered body, "don't let this memory of me block out all the other ones. I want you to take that first date and, whenever it gets too hard, think of it. No matter how painful it is, think of that day. You need it to stay strong." Bella's hand weakly fluttered from Edward's to the bed. She was fading fast. "I love you so, so much, and I always will. This isn't goodbye, not forever. But, while I'm gone, promise me one thing."

Edward could barely talk; he was almost beyond words in his grief. But he managed to get out a simple, "yes."

"Don't… don't close your heart to love." Bella's eyes slowly closed for the very last time, as her words resonated throughout the hospital room.

The doctor came rushing in to see the patient that had woken up, but he was too late. He found a man curled up on the floor, staring at nothing, dried up tear-tracks on his face, holding onto the hand of his wife, while the heart monitor registered no more blips in her chest.

When Edward came to his senses he was lying on the floor. He didn't bother to question why, all he knew was that Bella, his Bella, was dead. The body on the bed no longer meant anything to him, Bella wasn't there anymore. The sight of it sickened him, some sort of mockery of life. He couldn't stay in that room any longer. Roughly he stood up and turned to walk out the door. Some person… some person that he should know tried to stop him, but he shoved past them without ever hearing the words they were speaking to him.

Outside, the sky was blue. That seemed fundamentally wrong. But Edward paid it no mind; he just walked and walked and walked and walked. He didn't have any destination; he just knew he had to keep moving, because when the movement of his feet stopped, what would be left?

But he couldn't walk forever. He walked until his feet grew sore and the sky grew dim, but he couldn't walk forever. Eventually he came to a bench and sat down on it. Then, he took his shoes off and curled up on it lying down. He knew someone could steal his shoes but he didn't much care. He didn't much care about anything really. One phrase kept echoing in his head, from that T.S. Eliot poem. This is the way the world ends, not with a bang, but a whimper.

It started raining and Edward saw phantom images of Bella dancing around. He closed his eyes because it hurt too much to see. This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper. He thought he felt a hand touch his, thought he smelled the perfume that Bella always used to wear. But he couldn't look because then everything would disappear and all he would be left with was ghosts of his past. This is the way the world ends…. Tears started to stream out of the corners of his eyes, dribbling out no matter how tightly he squeezed them. Not with a bang but a whimper… The rain came down, washing him away, purging his body as he cried for his lost love, letting his emotion swallow him whole. This is the way the world ends not with a bang but a whimper this is the way the world ends not with a bang but a whimper this is the way the world ends not with a bang but a whimper …

Emmett found Edward on the bench, soaked to the bone, shivering, shoeless, and squeezing his eyes shut. He didn't say anything, just rested his hand on Edward's shoulder. Edward's eyes slowly peeled open as if they had to crack through cement to do so. At first he gazed at Emmett without recognition but after a while, Edward slowly was able to tell who it was. For the first time since the accident, he knew who someone was. And when Emmett led him to the warm car and took him home, Edward let him, accepted it gladly. And when Emmett gave him a hug, Edward didn't try to distance himself, he put his head on his brother's shoulder and felt the rest of his family come and hug him too. He was doing what he had promised her, he wasn't closing his heart to love. He had to stay strong and carry on, for Bella.