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Paging Dr. Cullen

The first time, it was an accident.

I never should have let Jacob drag me off to see the tide pools. It was only a matter of time before my foot slipped and I landed in the water. Forget my pride; my bottom and my ankle were infinitely more bruised. Jacob hauled me to the ER, still muddy and soaked, even as I insisted that it was only a sprain. If anything, I should've just kept sitting in the tide pool to let the cold water bring the swelling down. Perhaps I'd die of hypothermia in the process and never have to see my good friends at the ER ever again.

It wasn't a sprain, of course.

Jacob's grin was more smug than it should've been, considering the circumstances. Despite this, I still let him pick the color of my cast—something that I'll never do again. Hot pink is definitely not my color, and Jacob Black is definitely not a friend. I slapped the Sharpie out of his hand when he leaned in to sign it. The Sharpie flew out of his hand and bounced off the foot of someone I didn't recognize.

"Hello, I'm Dr. Cullen."

I melted.

He bent to pick up the Sharpie, and I seized the opportunity to gaze at him unabashedly. He was gorgeous. Thick, bronze hair. Lean, muscular build. And when he straightened, I noticed his beautiful bottle-green eyes. I swallowed thickly and cursed my fair skin. I now had a countenance the color of a fire engine.

"You're new," I blurted.

He looked at me questioningly.

"I'm, uh, here a lot," I confessed. "I'm kind of a klutz."

"I guess I'll be seeing a lot of you then, huh?" He smiled politely.

I had to stop the 'I hope so' poised at the tip of my tongue. I smiled at him stupidly instead. Jacob took the opportunity to introduce himself.

"Hi, I'm Jacob—Bella's partner in crime."

I vowed that the next time I fell, I would take Jacob down with me.

"Nice to meet you both." He handed Jacob the Sharpie, his brow quirked in amusement, then opened my chart and scanned it. "It looks like you're free to go once the nurse sets you up with some crutches. No more tide pools for you though."

My brow furrowed. "How did you…?"

He waved the chart in his hand, and my mouth snapped shut.

Why, oh, why did everything I saw come out so stupidly? Why couldn't the earth just swallow me up?

He smiled as he walked away.

If it weren't for the crutches the nurse handed to me right then, I knew I'd be a puddle on the floor.

*****

The second time, it was Jacob's fault.

It was less than a week later, and Jacob and I were sitting in the Chemistry class we took together at the community college. Chemistry had always been a scary class; the potential for injury was high, what with all of the Bunsen burners, glass, and chemicals. However, I never realized that the lead from Jacob's mechanical pencil had the potential to end up in my eye. And to get stuck.

"I'm gonna go blind!" I moaned as we walked into the ER, me still limping along on my crutches.

"Don't worry, I'll be your Seeing Eye dog," Jake joked.

I growled at him, and he wisely shut up.

"Back again?" Florence asked. She—ever the efficient nurse—already had my chart out and ready. I tried not to notice how thick it was.

"Jake blinded me with a mechanical pencil," I grumbled.

Her eyebrows rose, and I could see her fighting off the urge to smile. Instead, she led us over to my usual spot to wait for the doctor. I laid back on the gurney and crossed my hands behind my head.

"Miss Swan, back again so soon?"

I shot up when I heard his voice and got dizzy. He grasped my arms lightly to steady me.

"Easy there. What happened?" he asked, concerned.

"Pencil lead. Eye. Jacob." My face reddened.

He gave Jacob a curious glance.

"Dude, it was an accident. She practically fell on my pencil."

"I did not!" I protested. "Who holds their pencil point-up?"

I could see Dr. Cullen trying to restrain himself from laughing. He collected himself and examined my eye. I held my breath.

"Well, it doesn't look like there's anything left in there, but we'll have to keep you for a couple of days, get you on some antibiotics, and monitor it."

I slumped in resignation until I realized that I might be able to see dear Dr. Cullen more often. I hadn't noticed that he was still talking.

"…start an IV. How's the ankle doing?"

I snapped to attention. "Oh, uh. Ankle's peachy."

"Yeah, you should see her armpits though. Those crutches suck!" Jake offered helpfully.

I waited for the earth to swallow me up. It didn't. Again.

Dr. Cullen smirked but remained silent.

"How old are you?" I blurted.

"27," he replied without missing a beat.

I had to bite the inside of my mouth to keep from grinning. I was only a few years younger than him.

The next few days were disappointing; I only saw Dr. Cullen twice. He did help to check me out of the hospital though, and he even made a crack about my pirate-like eye patch.

*****

I don't remember the third time very well.

Jacob told me that I'd forgotten to put my seat belt on, and when he slammed the brakes to avoid a deer in the road, the car stopped but I kept going, cracking my head on the windshield.

I was apparently in and out of consciousness for two days. I don't remember much, but I do remember seeing the worried faces of my dad, Jacob, and Dr. Cullen hovering over me. When I finally woke up for real, Dr. Cullen was there.

"How are you feeling, Bella?" he asked. I was momentarily taken aback by his use of my first name until remembered that it was a good thing.

I swallowed uncomfortably; my mouth was dry. He handed me a cup of water, and I sipped it gratefully before answering. "My head hurts. What happened?"

He told me that I had a concussion. "You don't seem surprised," he remarked.

"I'm an old hand when it comes to injuries like this. Stitches, broken bones, concussions…you name it, I've had it."

"All from your clumsiness?"

"Uh-huh."

His gaze turned thoughtful, and he began asking me different questions about my balance, coordination, and (lack of) skills with sports.

"I'll have to wait until your concussion's better to diagnose you for sure, but I think it's safe to say that you have dyspraxia."

I blinked.

"It's probably only a mild case, but at least when people ask you why you're so clumsy, you'll have a good answer. Unfortunately, there's not much of a treatment for it—it's more 'practice makes perfect'." He smiled.

He answered a few of my questions and helped me to understand the condition before turning the discussion back to my concussion.

"I was told that you didn't wear your seatbelt."

"Apparently. I don't remember though."

He looked at me seriously. "You'd better take care of yourself, Bella. I really love seeing you, but I hate seeing you hurt so often. You had me pretty worried there."

I blushed, wondering if he said that to all the girls.

"In fact, I'm starting to wonder if I should just keep you locked up here."

I laughed and winced at the pain it caused. "Wouldn't work. I've been injured in the hospital before—I got hit in the head by the swinging door."

His eyebrows shot up, and he was speechless for a moment. "Wow," was all he uttered.

When it was finally time to check me out of the hospital, he stayed with me the entire time, insisting that it was his duty to make sure I got out safely.

I tried to act offended, but the goofy smile on my face said otherwise.

*****

I could've prevented the fourth time, but I didn't.

By then, I was completely healed—my cast removed, my concussion a strange memory—and I hadn't seen Dr. Cullen in a month. An excruciatingly long, injury-free month. So when I saw the patch of ice on the ground next to my truck, I didn't exactly tip-toe around it carefully.

My reward was a painful wrist and a trip to the ER. The urge to smile through the ache of my throbbing wrist was disturbingly strong, and I wondered whether my previous concussion had short-circuited something in my brain. My behavior just couldn't be normal.

"Bella, you know we don't have frequent flyer miles," Dr. Cullen teased as he examined my chart. I sat on my usual gurney, idly swinging my feet.

"What can I say? I've got dyspraxia, remember? And ice doesn't help," I pointed out.

He took a look at my x-ray and frowned. "Fractured wrist." He sighed. "Hot pink again?"

I blanched. "White is fine."

He applied the cast to my wrist in silence. I considered what I could say to him without being too obvious. As he applied the last bit of plaster, I struck.

"Being a doctor must not give you much free time."

"With patients like you…" He grinned crookedly. "It's not bad—could be worse."

I frowned, not sure how to proceed.

He ran a hand through his hair nervously. "You're not, uh, seeing anyone, are you?"

I laughed, and he seemed taken aback. "Who, Jake? He's like a sibling—more annoying than a brother and whinier than a sister." I giggled.

He looked relieved.

"Bella," he began seriously, "I don't normally do this, but there's just something about you…" He shook his head lightly. "I'm off on Saturday. Would you like to do something? Catch a movie, go to dinner…?"

I blinked rapidly as joy filled me. "Yeah," I breathed. "That sounds great."

"Is it all right if I surprise you with the movie choice?"

"Sure." I grinned. My wrist throbbed underneath my cast, and I took it as a cue. "Sign my cast?" I asked playfully.

"Of course, but I can't guarantee that it'll be legible." He smiled his crooked grin again.

I melted.

He escorted me out to the waiting room where my dad sat. Before we got to him, I stepped in front of Dr. Cullen suddenly, having realized something of vital importance.

"You know my entire medical history, you're taking me out on Saturday, and you've seen me unconscious." I paused. "What's your first name?"

He grinned. "Edward."

I smiled back at him, glad that the floor hadn't taken me up on my earlier requests to swallow me up.

*****

The fifth time was Edward's fault.

We'd been seeing each other for two months, and I was at his apartment making dinner for the both of us. I chopped the vegetables carefully, knowing that my clumsiness—or dyspraxia, as Edward called it—made injuring myself a definite possibility.

He came up behind me and wrapped his arms around my waist, placing his head atop my shoulder.

"What are you doing?" I asked, stopping my chopping for a moment.

"Smelling you."

"Well, that's kind of freaky. You're not some sort of weird, serial killer doctor who's going to chop me up in pieces for practice, are you?"

He chuckled and turned his head to brush kiss on my cheek. "You know I wouldn't even have to do anything—just hand you a butcher knife and walk away."

I rolled my eyes and resumed chopping, trying to ignore the Edward head perched on my shoulder like a parrot.

"Bella, I love you."

Of course, the knife slipped. That was the first time either of us had voiced the full extent of our feelings. I hissed and watched as the cut across my hand welled up with blood. I swayed, feeling lightheaded.

"Oh, shit! Are you okay?" he asked, frantically grabbing a towel.

"Ugh," I replied. Darkness bloomed, and the floor rose up to greet me.

I woke up on Edward's couch. His brow was wrinkled in worry, and he held a towel to my hand firmly.

"I don't handle blood very well," I admitted.

"That's surprising, considering how often you hurt yourself."

I smiled weakly.

"So what's the prognosis, doc?"

"You'll need a couple of stitches. I was waiting for you to wake up before I took you to the ER."

"Can't you just fix it here?"

"Sure, let me just get my supplies out of the autoclave." He smiled in amusement. "Bella, all I have here is old superglue, and it's not very sanitary."

I sighed. "Fine."

We arrived at the hospital, and he managed to sneak me into a room without alerting the other staff. I was grateful; I was in no mood for teasing.

I closed my eyes as Edward injected the Novocain and began to stitch me up.

"Edward?"

"Hmm?"

"You really shouldn't have told me what you did when I had a knife in my hand."

"I realize that now. I'm thinking I should invest in a rubber room so I can speak freely without you injuring yourself."

"Edward?"

"Yeah?"

"I love you, too."

The weird pulling sensation from the stitching stopped, and I opened my eyes when I felt his hands on either side of my face.

He kissed me gently, passionately, and everything faded away.

~The End~


A/N: This little one-shot is actually comprised of five 450-word drabbles (not including "The End"). If I'd had enough words to spare, you can bet I would've added "And they lived happily ever after". Alas, I'm not so talented.

It looks like I lied in my first Twilight fic, when I said that my next bit would be completely serious. Obviously, it's not. However, I am working on two very serious pieces, one of which will—I hope—see the light of day.

Oh, and dyspraxia is a developmental disorder that affects things like timing, balance, spatial awareness, and fine motor control. It can also affect speech and language development. It is assumed that Bella suffers from a mild form of it in my fic. And yes, I got the idea from Daniel Radcliffe's admission to having it.

Thank you for reading, and please consider leaving a review!