AN: usual disclaimers apply. I own nothing except the story idea. Everyone is human in this story. It is a mix of a day dream, my personal experiences and the twilight characters. Its AU and therefore maybe OOC. This is my first twilight story so I hope you enjoy. I did not major in English...so my spelling and grammer might suck! I am writing this just to write it, not to be graded.
xxx Bella is a college student who, of course, had an accident and now had to go to physical therapy. What she finds there will change her life
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I still hadn't got used to the sound of my crutches on pavement. The metal kind made a lot more noise than the older wooden ones, but these were the ones I had since I fell, and they were comfortable. At least, as far as crutches go.
I never liked drawing attention to myself, and now everything marked me as something worth staring at, and not in a good way. You could hear me coming from a mile away. My neighbors still peek out their doors when I trudge up the three flights of stairs to my apartment. A person with crutches stood out, period. Most people only looked for a moment, but some stared out of curiosity at the brace running from my calf to my mid-thigh. I could practically hear their guesswork on what might have caused my current condition. And I hated it when people stared. I tried hard all my life to become unnoticeable. This whole process had been my personal hell.
Top it off with a constant almost unbearable amount of pain all the time and you have all the reasons not to tear the anterior cruciate ligament in your knee.
I reached the door of the physical therapy office and flushed as a kind looking elderly lady held the door open for me. I still haven't gotten used to people opening doors for me. In college, people tend to be in a hurry and never glanced back to see if the door they went through was going to hit anyone in the face. It suited me fine, that was just one more way of avoiding unnecessary attention.
I had been that way all my life, though I was better now than I was in high school. I was from a small town called Forks in the overcast state of Washington. I walked through those four years with my head down, hair shielding my face, dreaming of the day I would escape that gloomy place. My mom traveled the world with her new husband and left me with my father. Charlie was the police chief of Forks, and not such a bad guy. We had a quiet understanding that I was there long enough to graduate, then I was gone. He never gave me any grief about it. He actually helped move me out here to Raleigh, North Carolina and I pay him the occasional holiday visit.
I was in my third year at NC State University, and I absolutely loved it. College brought me out of my shell…mostly. I still kept to myself a lot, but I had gradually worked my way into my friends' lives. I moved in with my two best friends, Rosalie and Alice, into our very first apartment. They each had their pet projects with me. Rosalie would drag me to some local bars near the campus and to the occasional frat party. Most of the time, I had a lot of fun. Alice's passion was shopping. I went along with that reluctantly. Every now and then we would go to somewhere I approved of and we would have a blast! Most of the time she would drag me through malls after malls. I never had enough money to do the kind of shopping she thought was appropriate, but our apartment was very nicely furnished thanks to her. I loved them both.
After checking in for my first physical therapy visit, I carefully (but not gracefully) sat in one of the chairs in the small waiting area. The back of my thigh ached where it rested against the chair seat, my brace holding the leg out straight. I glared at the offending appendage. As many accidents as I have had in my life, this was the most frustrating. I never had to use crutches before and getting rid of them was my main motivation for coming to physical therapy.
As I waited for my name to be called I thought back to the moments that lead up to this. As much as I wished I could change things now, I knew that the trip had been one of the best times of my life. Before my accident, I was having a blast with my fellow classmates up in mountains of North Carolina on a class trip. However, a hospital visit can ruin that real quick.
"Bella!" Jessica was turned around on the lift in front of me, waving and smiling. I gave a little wave back, but couldn't return the smile. I discovered that downhill skiing was not that big of a deal when you kept to the side, out of people's way and didn't make too much of a fuss when you fell. Getting off the lift was another matter. Every time I rode to the top of the hill I dreaded the inevitable face-plant that waited for me. My cheeks burned in anticipation of the laughs that went along with it. Glad I could be a source of entertainment for my fellow classmates.
I held my breath and watched Jessica glide smoothly off the lift and turned towards the slope. I counted down and slid off the chair, using its momentum to propel me forward. I let my breath whoosh out and grinned when I realized for the first time, I executed a perfect dismount! I slowly made my way next to Jessica, always wanting to be the last one down out of all my friends. Her boyfriend Mike stood next to her, "Let's go over the moguls again!" Jessica agreed immediately, "Yeah! That was kinda fun last time, wasn't it Bella?"
I just shrugged. I fell no matter what, so going over a few bumps only guaranteed the inevitable. We were all beginners, but our ski coach told us that the moguls were good practice for us, as long as we went slowly. The trip had been going on for three days, with two more days to go. It was for a gym credit…who knew that you cold take downhill skiing as a college course? My friends told me it would be an easy grade, basically if you showed up and had some sort of improvement from the first day then you passed. We had just all taken the test and by some miracle, we all passed. To celebrate, Jessica and Mike had talked me into doing one more trip down the hill before going out to a local bar.
As usual, I waited for them to start down the hill, giving them a good head start before I followed. No need to take them out with me when I crash and burn. I started over the first few bumps, and was really pleased with myself as I remained upright! My legs and butt were already sore enough from all the falls I had taken in the days before. I smiled and even laugh a little to see I was catching up with Jessica and Mike. Glee turned into panic when I flew right by them, unable to stop myself.
I told myself to do the pizza wedge and tried to turn my legs to slow my speeding descent down the hill. I hit another mogul and my left ski got caught in the snow bump, trapping my lower leg while my upper leg and body twisted in another direction. I felt a huge pop from my leg and hit the snow hard, knocking the breath out of me. When I stopped sliding my head was facing downhill and my legs were uphill, skis still attached to my boots. When I took my first breath the pain came with it. Mike and Jessica stopped next to me and smiled, used to my clumsiness. Their faces paled as I started screaming.
Medics came and stabilized my leg, strapping me to a board and towing me down the hill on a sled while people stared from the lifts that I happen to crash under. At the time all I could think of was the pain, later the embarrassment made the whole experience even worse.
That day led to two more days in the motel on pain medication while my friends finished their ski trip. The hospital gave me my shiny new crutches and a few weeks later the orthopedic surgeon gave me a new knee and a huge black brace. They had taken out part of my hamstring to act as my new ACL, tacked it in with a few staples and a titanium pin. The surgery pain was worse than the injury. Not only did I have the pain from the actual repair done to my knee, but now there was a chunk of hamstring missing that made recovery even more fun.
My surgery was just three days ago. They gave me pain pills and continuous ice pack pump to strap to my knee pretty much all day. I haven't gone back to classes yet, dreading the brick walkways lining the campus about as much as I dreaded the three flights off stairs going to my apartment.
Finally they called me back where a perky blonde girl introduced herself as Stacy. "Hi Bella! Are you ready to get started with your first session?"
Like I had a choice.
I had pulled my long, dark hair back into a pony tail and wore gyms clothes in preparation. I had no idea what kind of stuff they were going to have me do, but I was dressing for comfort, not so much for style..which drives Alice crazy. I wore black cotton shorts underneath black nylon track pants. The pants buttoned up on the sides so they could be removed in a break-away fashion. My brace was underneath the pants, to try to keep the stares to a minimum. My old grey NCSU t-shirt completed my ensemble.
Stacy led me past various workout equipment to some padded tables lined against the far wall. There were only a handful of other people there, most of them partnered up with a trainer on one machine or another. I awkwardly climbed up onto a table that Stacy gestured to and she proceeded to explain how the process worked. I was going to do physical therapy at the facility at least twice a week and then there would be exercises I would be doing at home in between. "Today is going to be an easy day. I am going to check your range of motion and then we will do some basic therapy." She asked some questions about my pain level and any problems I was having.
She used an instrument that looked like a giant protractor to measure my range of motion. After removing my track pants and brace, I laid back on the bed and bent my knee until I felt the new ligament tightened in protest and the pain made me bite my lip. She then had me sit up to see how flat I could lay my leg against the table top. This I did better with, but still not perfect.
The bouncy physical therapist told me to leave the brace off and handed me my crutches. We slowly made our way to a stationary bike in the middle of the workout room. This was the first time I had moved around without my brace since the accident, and especially since the surgery. I felt naked, and a little unstable. Given my history of great falls, I had every reason to believe this might be a disaster.
But I arrived to the bike whole and gave Stacy a dubious look when she told me to get on the bike.
Expecting a little much, are we?
Ignoring my glower, she helped me onto the bike, "Don't worry! We will take it slow. Today you are just going to rock the pedals back and forth. Next time we will try for a whole rotation."
I put my feet on the pedals and tried moving them. It didn't hurt as bad as I thought it would and I gave her a nod when she told me to keep that up for about 15 minutes. "I'll come back to check on you in a few!" and she bounced away.
I stared at my feet for the first few minutes, watching them move the pedals back and forth. Who knew that such a simple thing would be such a challenge? I had to look up when I got dizzy at the repetitive motion. My eyes immediately locked on a young guy about my age at a machine a few feet in front of me. He was facing the side, so I only saw his profile, but that was all that it took.
He was the single most beautiful man I had ever seen. He was using on a machine that appeared to work the muscles in his arms and shoulders. His slightly pale skin had a fine sheet of sweat on it, and his golden eyes appeared locked on the wall in intense concentration as he finished his reps. He slowly dropped his arms and slumped a little, looking exhausted, and I could do nothing but stare at the way the light played with the unusual bronze colors of his hair. I didn't know whether the disarrayed style his hair was arranged in was on purpose or just a complete and wonderful mistake, but either way it was one more thing that took my breath away. His face was angled in all the right places, the features perfectly proportioned. My eyes froze on his lips for a moment, and then I sighed as I took in what I could see of his body. He was wearing a plain white t-shirt with black jogging pants, the plain clothes hanging perfectly on his slim frame. His arms were very muscular, and I almost fell off my bike when those muscles flexed as he rubbed his shoulder.
A male physical therapist stood next to him. I couldn't tear my focus away from the Greek god long enough to get a description of the trainer. He patted the man gently on the back, said something to him and gestured for him to proceed to one of the tables against the wall. I belatedly realized that during my extended pursuit of this beautiful person that I had ceased to do anything else. Stacy had walked up to me in concern, "Bella? Are you alright? Do you need a break?"
I turned to her, "Um, no. Sorry I can keep going."
She smiled and I resumed rocking the pedals on the bike. I looked back to where the young man was and sucked in my breath when I realized he was now staring at me. I blushed furiously, hoping that he hasn't noticed my complete hypocrisy when I stared him over earlier. He didn't smile. That seemed to make his gaze burn hotter into mine. I couldn't tell if he was irritated, curious, or something else. When a voice called out "Hey Edward! We're ready for you," he turned his gaze away and walked over to the table and the awaiting trainer.
My breath whooshed out and I pushed a pedal and little too far, wincing at the pull in my knee and the pain that came along with it. Resuming my rhythm, I worked very hard not to turn and look at the man I now knew was named Edward…and prayed my blush would go away at some point.
Ten minutes later, Stacy came to my bike again, "Alrighty Bella! We are done for today! That wasn't so bad, was it?" Her never-ending smile made me want to kick her in the knee…stick her on a bike and ask if it wasn't that bad.
However, I found it took most of my energy just to nod. Only 15 minutes of slow pedaling on the bike and I was sweating and exhausted. My knee throbbed, almost unbearable and I leaned heavily on Stacy as I slid off the bike and back onto my good ol' crutches. Shakily, I was led back towards the table I started out on. As I looked up I saw Edward walking towards me. He had one arm in a blue sling and a bag hanging off the other shoulder. His face was still about as pale as mine, but not as much as it had been when he was on the machine.
And he was staring at me again.
I had enough sense not to keep moving while I was locked into his golden gaze. That would be disastrous for sure. He had the most unusual color of eyes I had ever seen. Was there nothing else but perfect with this guy? I felt self conscious as he walked closer to me, holding my breath, already dazzled…and then he smiled.
My hands clenched on the crutches. It wasn't a full smile like what energetic Stacy sported…it was much more devastating. It was a crooked half smile, barely even noticeable, but it seemed to make my soul explode. I couldn't return the smile, I couldn't return something that spectacular. Nothing could! There wasn't anything in the world that compared to the beauty of him, with that soul burning smile.
He didn't stop, just kept his perfect strides and keeping his eyes locked onto mine until he passed me. I wondered what he smelled like…and then I remembered to breath. I thought I might have heard someone laugh lightly at me which made me believe that I had the world's dumbest look on my face. My face felt like it was on fire, but I slowly made my way to the table and sat down without incident.
The rest of the session was an icepack sent straight from heaven and instructions on what exercises to do at home. I half listened to perky Stacy's instructions. Mostly I was thinking about Edward. The euphoria I felt as we locked eyes was slowly fading away and replacing it was doubt. I was going over all the reasons why someone like me would never be anywhere in the same league with someone like him. I felt the weight of my plainness fall around me like a familiar old coat. We might as well have been different species.
Arriving home I trudged up the stairs…only catching my crutch on a step once. Inside my apartment I heard Alice's bell-like laugh and a male voice. Jasper must be here. My roommates had boyfriends that I considered to be the brothers I never had. I was extremely lucky to be friends with Rosalie and Alice and get along with their boyfriends..who were practically living with us too.
Alice heard me clomping into the entry way and glided into the living room from the kitchen. "Hey Bella! How was therapy?" She smiled and took my bag from me. Her pixie styled hair was perfectly arranged, as usual. She was wearing a beautiful tunic blouse and leggings with a pair of flats, which reminded me of the utter casualness of my appearance. I gave her a grateful smile, "It was ok. I didn't do much today. Next time will probably suck though." I waved at Jasper, who was cooking something at the stove. He raised a spatula in greeting, messy blonde hair falling wildly around his face. This style worked for the sexy blonde Texan and it was the reason Alice said she fell in love with him.
I sank onto the comfortable chaise that was positioned next to the matching sofa. Rosalie came in from the other room with a pillow to put under my leg, God bless her.
"So, were there any cute trainers there?" she asked, always the matchmaker. I flushed slightly, glad that the living room was dimly lit, "Um..not that I noticed today." It was a half truth. I didn't notice any cute trainers…just one amazingly perfectly gorgeous man, who was a fellow patient.
They didn't need to know that.
Rosalie tilted her head to the side, her perfect, long blonde hair flowing over her shoulder. I squirmed under her suspicious gaze, but she didn't push the subject.
She moved over on the chaise to make room for Alice who had returned with my medication and some ice water. I thanked her and sank back against the chaise.
"So," Alice began, "You ready for one more I-told-you-so?"
I groaned, "I know! I know! Skiing was a dumb idea. I should have listened to you guys. I was not made for extreme sports."
"Bells, I am not even entirely sure you were made for a third floor apartment! I mean come on, stairs?" bellowed a voice from the entry way.
"Hey baby!" cried Rosalie and ran into the arms of her boyfriend, Emmett. Their public displays of affection were worse than Alice and Jasper's, and I automatically turned away to avoid their personal moment and hide my embarrassment at Emmett's comment.
Though, he was probably right.
Emmett sprawled out on the couch next to the chaise, although he barely fit on it. Rosalie perched on the end of the couch, still holding his hand. Emmett played football for NCSU, and he was built like a train. He was not over at the apartment as much as Jasper, since he always had one practice to go to or another. It was good to have everyone together for once.
"So was your therapy good today? I wish I could have got you into see the sports therapist guy that the team uses. He's great."
I inwardly winced. I have seen what Emmett considers to be a "light" workout and I could only imagine what the sports therapist of the football team would make me do.
"Thanks Emmett, but I think this place will work out pretty good. It's close to work and they seem like they know what they are doing."
Emmett nodded, "You gone back to work yet?"
I worked at a veterinary hospital a couple miles down the road. It's a low-paying job, but the people there are great and I get to work within my major. I recently decided that since I never got over fainting at the sight of blood, that veterinary medicine was not the career path for me. I still wanted to work with animals, but now I was double majoring Animal Science with Zoology, and still had not idea what I wanted to do after college.
"I go back next week. I need the money, but I need to get caught up with school more."
"You know, you can skip your portion of the bills this month. Rosalie and I have enough cash to cover it and that way you can spend more time recuperating." Alice chirped from beside me on the chaise.
We had this discussion before. I knew that they were probably right, but I was too like my father, I didn't take well to charity.
"I really appreciate it, but I need to get back into the swing of things. I've got it covered." I hope.
"Hey, ya'll wanna eat, don't ya?" Jasper called from the kitchen. Alice stood up and clapped her hands together in excitement, "Jasper made some of his famous chili and cornbread!"
The entire room moaned in appreciation. Jasper's chili was a thing of beauty. He didn't make it all the time, he said he didn't want to spoil us.
I reached for my crutches, but Emmett jumped off the couch and scooped me up off the chaise. I shrieked in surprise and he just let out a booming laugh. After he plopped me gently into a chair at the dining table, he planted a kiss on Rosalie and we all sat down to dig in. I looked around the table at the two couples, the four most important people in my life. I loved my family, but at the same time I felt like the kid sister who was always hanging around the "big kids". They never treated me like a fifth wheel, but I found myself thinking I should give them more space to be couples. I ignored the sad look in their eyes as I excused myself from movie night and shut the door to my bedroom.
I had the smallest room in the apartment on purpose. It was the cheapest and I didn't have a lot of stuff anyways. Rosalie and I shared a bathroom, but she had a bigger room with a bigger closet. Alice, of course, had the walk-in closet from hell and a massive private bathroom…but she could afford it. They both were very well-paid interns at a fashion designer company. Being textiles majors, they pretty much landed their dream jobs.
I sat in my folding chair in front of my second hand desk wincing as I tried to keep my leg from bumping into anything. As I waited for my PC to boot up, I looked around my room. None of my furniture matched, which suited me just fine. Everything I had was "comfortable" to me. Especially my bed. I had spent a whole summer's worth of extra cash to get the large queen size bed and I never regretted it. Apparently I move around a lot in my sleep, as well as talk, and I needed space to do that.
I check my email, getting nothing from my mother, as usual. I rarely hear from her. Sometimes, she forgets which college I am attending and that I am not in Forks anymore. It doesn't upset me anymore. That's just my mom.
I did get an email from my father. Charlie was still concerned that he should come to North Carolina to help me after the surgery. I responded, again, that it was not necessary but I appreciated the thought. I updated him on how things were going lately and then clicked send.
Pulling up my homework online was a necessary evil. It had piled up in the time I had been out of classes. I tapped my pencil on my notepad as I stared at the physics problem currently displayed on my screen. While I couldn't understand most of physics on a good day, I found my mind wandering very far tonight. I found my gaze focused on an ad for some sort of clothing flashing up in the corner of the screen. It featured a very attractive looking male model, smirking at the camera while wearing what I assume was the latest style of polo shirts. He looked nothing like Edward, but somehow my mind was flooded with images of him from today. I could clearly remember every glorious detail about him as if he was standing in front of me. I was imagining what it would feel like to run my fingers through his bronze colored hair when the pencil snapped in my tense grip. I blinked down at my hand and realized that I was breathing just as erratically as I had when I watched Edward walk by me this afternoon. I felt the heat on my face and was glad I was alone in my obsessive freak-out. This couldn't be healthy. I probably wouldn't see him again and I was just torturing myself by day dreaming about him.
Frustrated, I gave up on homework for the night. I was going to have to beg for a passing grade in this class anyway. Moving to the bed, I took my brace off, sighing at the relief that instantly brought. I wrapped a cold pack around my knee and turned on the pump that would be continuously moving cold water into it through the night. The sound actually soothed me and lulled me into a dazed-sleepy state. Pulling the covers over me, I tried earnestly to not think about Edward. I certainly did not need to hope that I would see him again the next time I had physical therapy….or hoping he was a student at State and I could possibly see him in the morning.
No, that wasn't healthy at all.