The Kindness of Semi-Strangers

By Freddie Stardust

Disclaimer: I own nothing – Stephenie Meyer is the genius behind the Twilight series. I make no money from writing this story.

Chapter One – Devil in a Lab Coat

I remember the day I met him as if it were yesterday.

The van had come hurtling toward me, tires squealing, and Edward had thrown himself in front of me. For someone who was so hot and cold, he was certainly quite willing to lay down his life for me. I didn't even have time to yell at him to stop being an idiot and save himself before the van indented around his outstretched hand.

He had run away as quick as he had come, and I was left with the masses to await an ambulance. Despite my assurances that I was fine, I ended up in the hospital after a girl from math called 911.

Thank goodness for the kindness of semi-strangers.

I sat on a rolling cot with Tyler talking my ear off on one side and Charlie sighing exasperatedly on the other. My x-rays had been taken twenty minutes before, and I was on the verge of leaving without a discharge when he finally showed up.

Suddenly I understood those scenes in old movies where the protagonist comes striding through the double doors, hands outstretched to part the way, with his hair blowing in the wind and coat billowing behind him, lights shining on him from above, a smile on his face and a choir of angels singing in some obscure language.

The only thing this scene was missing was the blowing hair, as it was gelled back, and the angels; why would there be angels when this man was obviously the devil in an incredibly tempting disguise?

My breath caught in my throat and I launched into an embarrassing coughing fit. Not quite the first impression I wanted to make.

"Isabella Swan," he said, grinning as he waited for my attack to subside. It eventually did, but the blush on my cheeks remained. Perhaps permanently.

"Bella," I managed to say, cursing the rasp that sounded not like a sexy Lauren Bacall, but rather a prepubescent Rod Stewart. The blush went from a rosy pink to a deep crimson.

"Right. Bella. I'm Dr. Cullen." He smiled again, probably enjoying a private joke at my expense. "Your x-rays look absolutely fine. You'll be a little bruised up, and that cut above your eye needs stitches, but other than that you're perfect."

Anyone else would've begun fantasizing about this blond god telling her she's perfect; I, however, only heard "cut above your eye." And then I smelled the blood.

"Oh God."

When I finally came to, there was a bright light shining above my head and directly into my eyes. I squinted and tried to move, but my head was held firmly in place by two hands. Dr. Cullen's face suddenly blocked out the light, but his smile was almost as bright.

"Sensitive to blood, huh?"

I could have died right then and there from embarrassment. Could this get any worse?

"The smell… It just gets to me."

"Hmm." Dr. Cullen frowned for a fraction of a second, but replaced it with his former smile. "I'm just tying off the stitches, so keep still for one more minute."

I almost nodded, and then remembered his instructions. Right. No moving.

It suddenly occurred to me that I hadn't woken up in the same place I had passed out. It was eerily quiet except for the hum of the fluorescent light overhead.

"Where are we?" I asked, trying to move as little as possible.

"I took you to a private room so you could wake up in a less stressful environment, and I decided I might as well stitch you up while you were out."

I was grateful and embarrassed at the same time, suddenly very thankful that I couldn't see his face as I spoke. "Thanks… I'm sorry you had to haul me all the way back here."

"It's really no problem Bella. You're very light."

Damned blush. There was a moment of silence, and then I felt a small tug.

"All done. Let me help you up." Dr. Cullen slid a hand behind my back and grasped my right hand, gently sitting me up on the bed. I found myself hoping in vain that the hands would stay on me, despite their icy temperature, but he let go once I was stable.

"Thanks again. I wish I weren't such a klutz," I mumbled.

He laughed, the sound almost musical. Could he get any dreamier? Did I really just use the word "dreamier" like the ditzy girls I so despised?

"You've been a wonderful patient, Bella. Usually the people I have to stitch up don't stay as still as you did."

"It wasn't exactly voluntary," I muttered feebly, feeling the blush deepen.

"Sensitivity to blood is very common. Nothing to be ashamed of." He helped me stand up off the bed and walked me to the door, and then I remembered Edward.

"Dr. Cullen, can I ask you a question?"

"Sure." He leaned against the doorframe with his clipboard pressed to his chest, nearly distracting me from my question in all his handsome-doctor glory.

"Your son, Edward. Is he… I don't know, a professional bodybuilder or something? He seems a little skinny to be that strong. I mean, no offense, but…" I continued to babble.

Dr. Cullen laughed and shook his head. "No, no he's not. Why do you ask?"

I frowned. "He jumped in front of Tyler's van and stopped it from hitting me. It's why I'm alive."

The smile slowly disappeared from his face. "I'm sorry?"

"He… he stopped a moving vehicle," I paraphrased, feeling unsure of myself. Maybe I did have a concussion.

Dr. Cullen shook his head and frowned, looking as if he were having an internal conversation with himself. "You're sure about that?"

I laughed shortly and shook my head. "You know, maybe I'm just really out of it. Maybe he just pushed me out of the way. Um, could you tell him thanks for me?"

He nodded wordlessly, reaching for the door. "Come back in three days and I'll get those stitches out, all right?"


"And if you have any throbbing, take a couple Tylenol and put a bit of ice on the area."

I ignored my gutter-bound mind's twisted visual of "throbbing" and nodded gently, trying not to disturb the stitches. "Thanks Dr. Cullen."

"Any time, Bella."

As I walked out to the lobby, I watched Dr. Cullen out of the corner of my eyes. He stared after me, shook his head, and whipped out his cell phone before walking at an almost inhuman pace down the hall and disappearing around a corner.

When Charlie and I got back to his house, I faked emotional exhaustion and made my way up to my room to do some reflecting.

Edward stopped a van with his bare hand. Not hands, hand. As if that mattered. His eyes changed colors, and he was incredibly fast – and incredibly moody.

And Dr. Cullen. His skin was so cold, and his eyes were the exact same golden hue as Edward's, despite their lack of blood relation. And then he had moved so fast down the hall when I left, I wondered if maybe he could have moved as fast as Edward had to reach my side before the van could.

I shook my head to clear out the cluttered thoughts. I was probably just in shock or something. But one thought dogged me as I crawled into bed: were the Cullens even human, and if not, then what the hell were they?

A/N: Bella blushes red, Edward loves her in blue. If you enjoyed this chapter, please leave a review.

Next chapter up ASAP, and it'll be longer than this. Usually my chapters run eight to ten pages, and this one was only four, so expect quite a bit more of Bella's awkward rambling and Carlisle's sexy swooping through doors in the next installment.