"Fisting huh? Always looks hot on the vids." Trust it to Rose not to bat an eyelash. Her blasé tone is refreshing, but when I look from her to the still empty door I hear her sigh.

"Come on, don't be an ass, go hunt her down and talk to her. Even I get what a headdesk kind of remark that must have been to her. I'll be fine here, I'm sure the moment you're gone that nurse will be back to tell me some shit like that my blood pressure is to high or that my breathing technique sucks or something."

I still hesitate, but the next moment I hear Emmett's voice outside in the hallway, and the way Rose's face lights up I know I can leave her for now.

Rose's room is near the end of the corridor so I guess Bella must have taken off in the other direction. As I round the first corner the nurse's station comes into view where Emmett is right now trying to find out where his wife is, while Alice and Jasper are waiting to the side.

"She must have arrived maybe fifteen minutes ago? Long, blond hair, pregnant?"

I can hear the nurse's exasperated sigh from across the hall – asking for a pregnant woman at the maternity ward is kind of a stupid thing to do, but I'm sure that of the two, Rose is the more focused one. In fact Emmett seems a step away from hyperventilating and I hurry over to show him the way.

Once Em is set on his course I try to decide where to search first, but Alice thankfully interprets my confused glance around right.

"If you're looking for Bella, I saw her head for the restrooms over there."

"Thanks, you're the best, Alice."

She smiles, then shrugs.

"Is she sick or something, it must have been close to five minutes and I haven't seen her come out again. If you want to I can go inside and check on her."

Which would probably be as bad as it can get.

Trying not to let her see how much the idea unnerves me, I shake my head.

"Thanks but I don't think that's necessary. Probably only an upset stomach or something. Or she's reading her emails."

I'm not surprised that Alice buys my somewhat lame answer – maybe she just wants to believe it – but Jazz keeps eyeing me askance for a while longer. I return his questioning gaze with a blank stare, and before either of us can say something Alice is already tugging him along towards Rosalie's room.

I'm even considering going into the restroom but just as I reach the door it opens, a woman in her middle years, probably a grandma-soon-to-be, exits. She eyes me up and down, then indicates the by now closed door at her back.

"Is that your girlfriend sitting on the toilet and crying her eyes out?"

My heart sinks at hearing that, the realization probably plain on my face because she goes on before I can even give her an answer.

"Listen to me buddy, you seem old enough not to knock up the first girl you lay your eyes on. You better make it up to her, will you?"

I fully intend to, although the reason for Bella's distress is probably something this woman couldn't even wrap her head around. When she keeps glaring at me I nod, but then give her the retort her unwanted advice is asking for.

"She's not pregnant, we're just here because a friend of ours is having her baby. Not that it's any of your business."

The woman looks first angry, then a little appalled, and she steps around me before I can say anything further. Not that I intend to.

Hesitating for a moment longer I'm surprised when the door opens again and Bella steps out. Her still somewhat puffy but now dry eyes widen when she sees me hovering right before the restroom, and a hint of a smile appears on her face.

"Can't even let me go to the toilet without missing me, huh?"

"Not when you run off like that, ready to burst into tears any moment."

She frowns, but now she's avoiding my gaze.

"Puking, actually, but never mind, I'm good now."

When she sees my raised brows she sighs, then rubs her eyes.

"Look, Edward, can we please not do this here? I really appreciate your concern, but now's not the time and I'd really like to have that talk where less than half the hospital can hear us."

I nod, if slowly, then reach up so gently cradle her cheek. Her smile widens, and for a moment her eyes close as she relaxes into my touch.

"We can go home, too. Right now. I'm sure Rose will do just fine without two more people standing around uselessly, too."

Bella shakes her head.

"No, of course we stay. She called you first, we can't just leave her now."

"But if you're not feeling welll-"

"I'm fine, okay?"

I cock a brow at her suddenly acidic tone, and after a moment she steps away from me and starts walking down the way we've come.

"Come on, unless you want to hear any more theories about what sordid things we might have been up to in the meantime. And I doubt that this time Rose will be standing guard in front of the restroom door again."

She extends her hand towards me – a peace offering in more than one way

– and I let her drag me back to the others. Part of me wants to make her talk to me right now, but if I've learned anything about Bella in the past years it's how stubborn she can be, a trait's she clearly inherited from Charlie. And what can a few hours hurt?

By the time we join the others to crowd Rose's room Bella is acting nearly her usual self. At least until Jazz tries to draw her to the side, probably to ask if she's okay. She shies away from him, enough to bump into one of the cabinets. Yet when she rounds on him her glare is close to furious, and heads turn all over at her hissed, "Leave me the fuck alone!"

Jazz seems as perplexed at her reaction as I am but he doesn't reply anything, nor does he try to touch her again or even talk to her. I feel his eyes move over to me but I pointedly study one of the monitors instead. If anything, Bella's behavior confuses me more as she's been back to hugging and casually touching Jazz for months, even under Alice's watchful eyes. It doesn't make any sense, and I'm starting to realize that there's a lot more going on than I've thought.

For once ignoring what I can't deal with right now seems like the best idea, and before long Rose distracts us all with her colorful language. Hours pass, and eventually everyone except Emmett is kicked out of the room to give Rose some well needed space.

At eight in the evening Alice and Jasper decide to make a quick dash for the take-out around the corner, and Bella joins them, leaving me behind to wait here. They make it back just in time for Em to come running towards us, still clad in the scrubs the nurses pretty much had to force him into, hollering loudly.

"It's a girl! We have a baby girl!"

I'm a little surprised that he hasn't known before but then I can still remember Rose's laments about him insisting that it should be a surprise.

We barely have the time to congratulate him, then he's running back to join his wife. An hour later the nurse finally lets us see Rose. She looks exhausted but happy, with the barest of frowns on her face. At my cautious question she shrugs.

"It's nothing, but because Mona was so antsy to stop kicking her mommy in the belly they want to keep her under observations for the night. If I'm lucky they'll bring her up tomorrow morning."

She hesitates for a moment, her eyes turning pleading.

"Can you maybe talk with the doc there, see if she's really okay? She was crying and all so she should be fine, but they told me she's a little small, and, you know, terribly concerned mom here."

"Of course. I'll be right back."

I don't have to go look for her doctor for long as she's still with the two nurses who take care of the newborns. Few words are exchanged, and she assures me that little Mona is healthy as a bug. She's more concerned with Rose's blood work, but mother and child should be able to leave the hospital early next week.

Em, who has followed me over, is near ecstatic when I tell him the good news, and he bustles off to let Rose know. I linger a little longer, looking at the handful of newborns, all in their cribs, most of them sleeping peacefully.

I know some people find babies simply adorable, but right now they scare me. Years I've dreamed about having a family with Bella, but since we've hooked up and reality has replaced idle fantasy I'm in no hurry to start one myself. We still have enough trouble just going through our lives without a baby complicating things, as it is.

I hear steps approaching and think it's probably Bella, but when I look to my side it's Alice who is staring at the babies now, the expected awe and happiness plain on her face. Jazz is trailing behind her, looking a little wary, but the moment Alice turns to him he's smiling back at her.

"Just so you know, I want at least two of them! For starters. And once they can run on their own a whole bunch more!" she informs him.

Inside I cringe, but Jazz doesn't even tense up, but instead hugs Alice from behind and nuzzles her neck until she squeals."As many as you want, Alice, as many as you want."They keep this up for a moment longer, but then Alice extracts herself from his arms and with a last grin in my direction skips off down the hall, probably to tell everyone about her congenial plan to populate the world with her mini-me minions.Silence is heavy between Jazz and me, and for a while I contemplate not saying anything at all. But quite frankly, right now he looks only a tad better than Bella did when we got here, so I finally open my mouth."You didn't tell her yet?" I venture a guess, trying to keep my voice level but a hint of sympathy leaks through.Jazz hunches his shoulders for a moment, looking defiant, but when I don't add the jibe he's probably expecting, he shrugs."Somehow topics like 'hey, remember that motorcycle accident I had when I was twenty? They said I was lucky, not bleeding to death from my ruptured femoral artery when I had that piece of scrap metal jabbed deep into my hip. Well turns out there was some damage after all, and since then my sperm is about as sterile as if you'd mix it with acid. I can still fuck like a Trojan but no blond sunnyboy babies will ever come from these loins' never come up in dinner conversations."As usual at that point I don't know what to say – I mean what can you say to something like that? I understand why he never told Alice – or as far as I know, Bella – but I have a feeling that might change soon now. And it's not gonna be a conversation he'll look forward to.Maybe it's because things between us have reached a certain non-hostile truce, or because while I sometimes still hate his guts he seems really down right now, but I feel like I have to do something, so I reach out and squeeze his shoulder briefly. He looks at me surprised but then offers a grateful nod in return."You know it's gonna be all right. I mean it's not your fault.""For once," he mutters, but when he sees me smirk rather than frown he shrugs. "I know Alice isn't into me for my baby making potential. But you know how she can get when someone rains on her parade."I nod. "Sure, but she'll get a grip on herself soon enough. Or maybe she'll take it in stride and just shrug it off. Predictability was never her strong suit."Jazz grins, then looks back at the sleeping babies."Maybe she'll change her mind anyway the first time Rose lets her change the diapers. You never know."With that I turn around to head back to the others when Jazz speaks up again, his tone cautious."Everything okay with you and Bella? She seems somewhat off today."My first impulse is to bark out that it's none of his business but the fact that he cares for her and got the brunt end of her unease already makes me rethink my answer. And it feels good not to be at each other's throats for once, so I finally decide on a nod."She is, but she will be all right soon enough. Just bad timing and all that.And yes, couldn't be better."The fact that he looks happy to hear that weirds me out a little, and feeling obliged to I ask the same about him and Alice."Couldn't be better," he echoes me, underlining his words with a smile."Although you might wanna check back in with her after that talk we're going to have."I leave it at that and head back to the others, repeating the news Em has already relayed. Rose is looking a little better already, although tired as she is we should probably leave her alone with Em soon. Bella sighs contently as she leans against me after I snake my arm around her waist and draw her close, and even though I know we'll have to work through what has happened earlier soon I'm confident it won't be too bad, relaxed as she seems by now.Then Rose's parents arrive and we take our leave, using the opportunity to congratulate the happy young family again. Yet just outside of the room I hear a familiar voice behind me, so I turn around, Bella still hugged to my side. Dr. Amanda Blake, my current mentor, looks up from the patient file she's reading right then, smiling absentmindedly at me."Hi Edward," she greets me, then looks from me to Bella, seeming a little surprised. "Family planning time already?"Bella laughs at that, shaking her head. I'm relieved that she sounds about her usual self again."Ah, no, a friend of ours had her first baby today. We're just standing around uselessly, well, Edward got to translate some doctorspeak to what the rest of the world understands, but that's about it. I'm Bella, nice to meet you.""Amanda."They shake hands, both women immediately taking to each other in their informal way. I'm a little dumbstruck as my mentor is usually very close to'abrasive bitch' as they get, but we always get along perfectly. She really seems to like Bella as she's as friendly as I've ever seen her, but maybe it's because away from the Emergency Room she can let her guard down.Maybe the reason she and I get along is that she's had her problems with various colleagues before, but except for a few rumors I haven't found out why. She's definitely one of the best, if not the best surgeon in the hospital, and I'm glad she's taken me under her wings. She's also the only one of the residents I'm on first name basis with, probably because she doesn't seem to think everyone fresh out of med school has to be treated like an imbecile.Then Amanda turns back to me and the pleasant look leaves her face."I'm aware this is probably a bad time, and I know you're off rotation until tomorrow evening, but we've just got an interesting case in. Climbing accent, patient's brain dead and I just got the okay from his parents for the organ donations. I know technically Hills is up for assisting me, but quite frankly I'd rather have you there. If you can make time for a multi organ extraction and liver transplant, that is."Fuck. Talk about bad timing. But for once I know where my priorities lie, and I'm already shaking my head when Bella pokes me in the ribs."Don't be stupid, of course you'll stay here for that!"Unable to hide my surprise I look at her, and she rolls her eyes before she turns to Amanda."Please let me talk to Edward for a moment? You can have him right away after that."Amanda grins, then winks at me."See you in 20 downstairs for scrubbing in."Apparently I don't have a say in this so I nod, still perplexed about Bella's reaction but let her drag me away into one of the more secluded waiting areas. When we're alone I turn to her, but she's already talking before I can do more than open my mouth."Please don't be stupid, I know how much you want to do this, I mean even if I didn't give a shit about your work and career – which is so not the case as you know – I'd understand how important and interesting this must be for you. Don't miss this just because you're getting all overprotective now.""Overprotective? You crashed, then you ran and puked and cried, I don't think I should leave you all on your own tonight."She sighs, a weary sound, and rubs her eyes before she looks back at me."Edward, look, I know I've been a mess today. And still am, kinda, but I'm feeling a lot more like myself by now. And I'm not trying to avoid having that talk, it's just that..." she stops, then sighs again. "I need a little 'me' time right now. And while I'd love to cuddle the whole night with you I'll survive on my own with a pint of ice cream for a substitute. I'd just feel worse if I knew you'd miss this because of me."I can tell already that I'm fighting a losing battle here, but I still have to try."People have accidents all the time, I'll get another chance at assisting at something like this soon again.""Please?"I don't know what to say but my silence seems to stress her more, so I draw her closer to me and kiss her gently. She melts against me after a moment, but pushes away faster than I want her to."Remember when you told me about how you were struggling to come to terms with your kinky side? And that I might eventually have to go through that, too? I think that's what's going on with me now. Not in a denial or 'woe is me' kind of way, but -," she breaks off again, then starts anew. "You really don't have to worry about me, I'm fine. Yes, I was somewhat beside myself when we got here, but I've had enough time to clear my head and calm down. But my mind's still a mess and I just need time to sort it out.And maybe you not being around tonight will even help me? I know that sounds bad, but do you understand what I'm trying to say here? I just need some time to sort this out for myself."I nod – there's not really much I can do at this point. And I actually understand her a lot better than she probably thinks, having been at that point more than once – or even ten times – in my life."Are you sure you will be okay?""I am," she assures me immediately. "And if not I'll call Beth, or your mom, or Alice to stay with me. It's not like I don't know anyone who'll share some comfort food with me gladly.""But we'll talk about this.""Yes, we will," she promises. "And if I need you to help me sort it all out, I know where to find you. But please, give me some time here, okay?""Sure, however long you need," I assure her, then kiss her again, letting the gesture show all the support my words lack.We spend a few more minutes there before I have to go, and while part of me is a little angry at her for pushing me away like that, I trust her that she knows what she's doing. After a last kiss I bring her to the elevator, then take the stairs down to the ER, trying to ready myself for the unexpected workload ahead of me as fast as I can.And that's the last we talk about what what has happened on that Saturday for a full week. First I'm not home, then Bella has to do extra hours for the magazine she's writing for, and way too soon it's Friday evening again.Finally home after a grueling forty hours in the hospital all I really want to do is take a shower and sleep for a month, I know that's not gonna happen when I see Bella waiting for me on the sofa, looking all wound up and wringing her hands.