HALLELUJAH! I've been trying to post this chapter since yesterday and fan fiction kept giving me an error. I finally found a bypass moments ago to get it posted and I am SO HAPPY! YAY!

Here we are, everyone, the first chapter of my brand new story. This one is dedicated to all the men and women who put their lives on the line to protect us everyday (fire, ambulance, police, military, etc.). I wouldn't have a story to write, a safe place to write it, or the freedom to write at all if not for these brave people. A big thanks to Vtweetymccn and the whole fire and ambulance crew that she works with, for filling my inbox with information, giving me ideas, and all-in-all just being awesome. I can't thank you guys enough! =D Once again, I own nothing Twilight, but Dirty Edward lights my fire. =) Enjoy and please review!

Chapter 1

Fire in the Rain

"I've seen fire and I've seen rain, I've seen sunny days I thought would never end, I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend, but I always thought I'd see you again."~ James Taylor


"Raindrops keep fallin' on my head, but that doesn't mean my eyes will soon be turnin' red, cryin's not for me, 'cause I'm never gonna stop the rain by complainin' because I'm free, nothin's worryin' me," I sing along to the radio as I drive the long stretch of highway 101 to Forks, WA.

I was flipping through the stations a minute ago when I heard the familiar sound of my dad's favorite oldies tune, and I just left it on, feeling a sense of nostalgia and comfort. Now, as I sing in time with the smooth voice of B.J. Thomas, I realize how weirdly perfect the words are for me. I watch the rain pound steadily against my 2010 Chevy, extended cab, Silverado. Looking out my windshield, I can see it roll off the shiny, red paint, and for the first time in a long time, it doesn't upset me or annoy me. Actually, I'm so happy to see the rain that I'm content to let it fall without a care in the world as to when it might stop. That's beyond strange in my case.

I used to hate the wet weather that constantly bombards the town I grew up in. In fact, as a teen, when the drops started to fall, I would almost reach the point of tears. Of course, I would never cry, I'm not the crying type. Regardless, I felt trapped in Forks, locked in a fishbowl where the rain rarely let up, and I lived under the watchful eyes of 3,146 people who I knew by face, if not name. So why is it that I can't stop smiling as I pull along the U-Haul trailer with all my belongings in it and make my way back to that same town that depressed me so much? It's because I'm coming home, re-entering the fish bowl, after facing the big bad world on my own, and it feels more as if I'm crossing the threshold into a sanctuary rather than a prison.

Living in Arizona for the past four years has been the most terrible time of my life, but I learned things, including the value of home. I missed my parents, my best friend, Jacob Black, his pack of stupid friends, and oddly enough, the rain I used to hate with a passion. Fire fighting was hard in Phoenix, it was long days and longer nights in the desert heat, fighting raging wild fires on little sleep, and going home to a one bedroom apartment without a soul around to keep me company made things even worse. I didn't realize it would be so difficult, moving to a place where I didn't know anyone, far away from home. I thought that I would make friends fast and be happier than ever, thousands of miles from the never-ending gossip and stalking eyes of my neighbors. Of course, that's not what happened. I discovered what it was like to be alone and I stayed that way as days turned to weeks, weeks turned to months, and months finally turned to years.

That's not to say I didn't know people, I knew lots of people at the fire station, but we weren't super close. The reason is that Phoenix is the firefighting capitol of the country. No, really, it is. Most people when asked, 'What city has the nation's top firefighters?' would answer with New York, but the truth is its Phoenix. Stations from all around the US send their chiefs for training in Phoenix and most of the time, trainers are sent out from there to teach as well. Therefore, there are constantly fresh faces being introduced, people joining the crew and leaving the crew. That made things rough for me. From the moment I arrived, I was simply another firefighter to my station, nothing interesting or out of the ordinary. I became friends with people eventually, but when my dad nonchalantly mentioned an open position at the station back home two weeks ago, I jumped on it. I had very little problem with saying goodbye to those "friends" and I doubt they'll miss me.

I pass a green sign with white letters that claims I'm only miles away from family and friends, and a surge of joy floods through me. I roll down my window, breathing in the smell of damp foliage as I stretch out my bare arm and let the water smack against my ivory-toned skin. Even after years of being in the sun, I'm still white as white can be, seeming to have been unable to tan or burn. I shiver a little at the cool air of a March afternoon. I'm wearing one of my white tank tops from Arizona since I've been driving non-stop; the shirt has the fire logo from my old station on it. The digital read out thermometer says its 62 degrees out. I knew it would be cold, but the chill feels good. The rain drips into the cab, hitting my blue jeans and top, revealing my black bra and turning the denim a darker shade of blue. I laugh, one of those really just happy laughs. I'm coming home, back to Sunday night dinners and fishing with my dad, to motorcycle riding with Jacob and cliff diving in La Push. I feel good, I feel free. My calm mood changes in an instant when I see a black sedan riding my ass in my rearview mirror.

It all happens in slow motion, the vehicle speeds around me, sliding on the wet asphalt. The driver tries to counter the movement by twisting the wheel in the opposite direction, but it only makes matters worse. I stare on helpless as the car barrels across the double yellow line, careening into a ditch on the other side of the road, before coming to a stop on its left side with the roof jammed against a tree. The position of the wreckage leaves the driver pinned in place. Adrenaline kicks in along with instinct as I pull onto the shoulder and dial 9-1-1.

"9-1-1 what's your emergency?"

"I'm about 5 miles South of Forks on Highway 101 and I have a black four door sedan that has been involved in an MVA. The cars flipped and the driver's pinned so you're going to want to send fire and ambulance pronto."

"Fire and ambulance are on their way, hang tight."

I hang up my cell phone and exhale loudly. There is no way I'm just going to sit here and wait. Fuck that…Throwing the door open, I rush out into the heavy rain, across the highway, and down into the ditch with expert speed. By the time I get to the car, I'm thoroughly drenched, my long brown hair now an almost black color is sticking to my face and neck. I try to peer into the back window, but the tint's too dark. All I can see is my own reflection- wide brown eyes set in determination, pursed lips, and water rolling steadily off my arms. I look like I've been swimming in my clothes. Shit…I pull my phone out of my pocket.

"Damn it," I hiss at the blank screen. Captured underneath the glass are droplets of water.

Great, I already know it's useless, but I press on a few buttons to be sure. It doesn't make a sound.

I can't believe I forgot to leave it in the truck. I groan, irritated at my idiocy. It's going to be a pain to get a new phone. I'll have to drive all the way out to Port Angeles. Then again, it's not as if anyone ever calls me besides Jake and my parents so I suppose it's not all that critical. Climbing onto the vehicle, I balance precariously on the trunk in my black boots. The last thing I need is to slip and fall. With my luck, I'd break a leg or something. Suddenly, I hear a sound I really don't enjoy hearing, a baby's cries. I try to open the rear passenger side door, but it won't budge, it's jammed up some how. I have no other option. Kneeling on the rear fender, I take my cell phone in my hand and smash my fist through the back passenger window. The glass comes apart, shattering as the baby's cries turn to screams.

"I know, I know, sorry, baby," I apologize to the infant, climbing into the car through the broken window to assess the damage. I'm happy to see the glass hasn't affected her at all, she appears healthy as ever, and her screams that are deafening in the enclosed space indicate that she's perfectly fine.

Taking a peek in the front, I notice that the driver is pinned by the steering wheel with his head lulled to the side and blood dripping from a gash on his forehead. He's familiar, a few years older than the last time I saw him obviously, but with the same geeky, black-rimmed glasses from high school. It's Eric Yorkie. I press my hand to his jugular and I can feel a pulse. He's still alive, just unconscious. I take in the sight of the baby girl in the back seat with me; she can't be more than a year. She has her father's Asian features and his black hair. I didn't even know Eric had a wife…hm, maybe he doesn't. I wonder who the baby momma is. I shake my head to clear it. This isn't an episode of Maury, focus!

"Hey, little one. I'm going to get you out of here," I fuss over the screaming baby as I work to get her free from the car seat, pressing on the red button for the buckle. Nothing happens.

These damn things are relatively easy to un-strap normally, at weird angles though, the task is not as simple. Then again, no one intends to unbuckle a child while trying to keep his or her balance in a car that's tilted in some funky, carnival fun house position; it's not the initial concern when manufacturing these products. The guy in charge isn't going to say, 'Hey, let's not worry about keeping the kid in the seat. Instead, we'll make the straps spring open on command. That's our new number one priority.' I snort at my dumb thought. Leave it to me to think of something so stupid and find it amusing. The car seat did its job; it held her in place when the car went topsy-turvy. Now, it's my job to figure out how the hell to get her out. I crane my neck sideways as I fiddle with the red button, pressing down on it again, harder this time, and the buckle splits in three. Oh, thank heaven…for seven eleven…wow, not the right time for jingles, Bella. I look down at my arms and notice they're covered in goose bumps, but I'm not even cold. Adrenaline is a wondrous thing. Thankfully, the baby is dressed better for the weather than I am, in a tiny purple raincoat and little boots so her face is the only thing flushed pink with chill. I pull the hood of the raincoat over her head to shelter her from the rain that's coming through the broken window.

"Almost done, sweetheart," I murmur.

Biting my lip in concentration, I slip her right arm free as voices begin to echo into the car.

"Tyler, Mike, your on traffic duty. Alice, I'll need you to climb in and give me a run down of the scene. Rose, Edward, you go with her so you can grab whatever she needs and Emmett, you get the jaws, we may need them. Where's Jasper?" The authoritative and stern tone is undeniable. My dad's in Chief mode.

"Here, Chief!" A male voice with a southern drawl responds.

"Did you survey the area?" Dad asks.

"What the-, the window's already busted, Charlie!" A tinkering voice from my past yells as I free the child's left arm from the restraints.

Carefully, I lift her out of the seat, cradling her into my body, and she stops screaming, seeming to be soothed by the contact. Whoever says silence isn't golden hasn't ever been trapped in the confines of a small car with a screaming baby. I feel like I just won a million dollars.

"Yes, Sir, there's a red truck with a U-Haul trailer parked a little farther south on the shoulder, but no one inside it," says the same southern boy from before, answering my dad's question.

I hear Dad let out an abrupt laugh while I contrive a plan to move myself so I can stand on the center console and poke my head out the broken window. Once I'm situated, I find three people standing in my view, two of which I've known since I was 12, and one I have never seen before in my life. They're all wearing their bunker gear- black work boots and yellow trousers with red overall straps hidden under yellow jackets. Alice and Edward both have an expression of irritation in their bright green eyes and despite Alice's small frame in comparison to Edward's more toned and tall physique, they act the part of twins, with arms crossed in matching stances, rain dripping down their faces in freaky unison.

Their mannerisms are identical, but their features, other than their eyes, are crazy different. Edward has a more manly appearance with a rugged chin, a sharp jaw line, and this strange, messy, bronze-colored hair while Alice has a feminine, heart-shaped face and short, black hair. In high school, she would spike it up so that it stuck up every which way. I'm not sure if she still does that because right now it's just as wet as mine is, laying flat against her face. Seems their attitude with me hasn't changed a bit though, judging by their cold stares. I grin devilishly at them, putting on my poker face, when what I really want to do is tell them to fuck off. Now that I'm going to be working with them, we're all just going to have to learn to get along the best we can.

"Who the hell are you?" A bitchy voice snaps at me, the stranger. Weird...she has the same southern accent as that guy, Jasper, I heard a minute ago.

My eyes lock on her face. Wow, she's gorgeous. She has the features of a pageant winner- perfectly angled eyebrows, straight nose with a slight swoop, pouty and plump red lips. I wonder if Edward's fucked her yet. Probably…poor girl. I hold in the urge to laugh and manage, barely. Her ice blue eyes are narrowed in my direction and a few strands of golden blonde hair poke out from underneath the hood of her jacket. She definitely appears to be his type. Hoods are something only new comers and high maintenance girls wear in the Olympic Peninsula. Most people here are used to getting wet. Her gear clings to her body in a way that I can tell she has one of those figures that most girls would sell their soul to the devil for, another one of Edward's favorite qualities. I wonder why she's doing this for a living, instead of modeling or something.

I open my mouth to tell her my name, but I don't get the opportunity because Dad comes running into the ditch. His face beams with pride and beneath the appalling mustache that he still hasn't shaved, his lips are clearly pulled up in a grin. I can't believe he hasn't gotten rid of that thing yet. The hair atop his lip and on his head has some gray color instead of being all black like it used to be. I always figured that once he started to gray, Dad would finally come to his senses and shave off the 70s 'stache. Guess not. I'm glad…I may make fun of him for it, but thinking of my dad without that distinguishable trait is a bizarre thought.

"That, my dear Rose, is my baby girl!" He hollers with delight and my smile turns completely honest. "What do we got, Bells?"

"I have a baby in the back seat and her father, Eric Yorkie, trapped in the driver's seat. He's out cold. I already have the baby free, but I need a knife and hook to get Eric out. He's wedged into the steering wheel. Also I'm going to need a KED, C-collar, and blocks from the EMS to stabilize him."

"You got it! Rose, get the baby. Edward, Alice, get to it! That stuff isn't going to grab itself!" He shouts out orders then rushes off to supervise elsewhere. He's a busy man and besides, we'll have plenty of time to talk later.

The Cullen twins leave reluctantly, giving me one last glare as the stranger, Rose, strides forward. I hand her the baby and her face softens immediately when the child is placed into her arms.

"Hey, Maya, aw, you're getting so big," she coos and the infant giggles. "Let's go get you somewhere dry."

I consider that maybe I've misjudged her as I watch her disappear with the kid. It wouldn't be the first time. Hell, the Cullen twins seemed great when I first met them and I know how that turned out.

Alice is back in moments with the knife and hook.

"Bella," she says my name in a flat tone, nodding in greeting as she hands them to me.

"Alice," I respond in the same way, ducking back into the car while I roll my eyes. I can see that working with her is going to be a blast…not.

While I'm slicing the seat belt and pulling the wheel free, I hear the Jaws of Life cutting open the back passenger door. I'm not sure who's operating them; I'm too busy thinking about Eric's condition, he's still unconscious, but his heart rate is solid. Once the cuts are made and the passenger seat is tilted flat, Edward shows up with the EMS gear. He hands it all to me with even less enthusiasm than Alice, and I work fast to stabilize Eric, leaning him forward carefully to place the KED under his back and neck. I strap him down to it with the c-collar around his neck and the blocks against his face to keep his neck from moving, my teeth chattering loudly the whole time. Now that my adrenaline has mostly worn off, I'm freezing.

"Alright, he's ready to be taken out," I holler and Edward reaches through the opening, grabbing the hand holes in the KED by Eric's neck, water dripping steadily from his tousled hair and clothes, splashing into my face. He smirks when it gets in my eye and I force myself to contain a growl.

Holding Eric's hips and legs straight, I climb my way out of the car. The moment he's free EMS technicians take over, carrying him out of the ditch and onto a cot before speeding away with their lights and sirens blaring. My body trembles and my lips quiver from the cold. Edward notices and he just shrugs his shoulders.

"You're not in Arizona anymore, Bella," he declares, gesturing to my see-through, white tank. "So you should probably wear some real clothes next time you decide to play hero or you could go back south. I'm partial to the latter option myself."

I flip him the bird as he turns and strolls away. If I thought that working with Alice is going to be tough, working with Edward is going to be hell…Why does he have to be such an asshole? In fact, why do they hate me anyway? I never did shit to either of them. Seriously, it's as if they decided a week after moving here to despise me when I had been nothing but nice and friendly. What is up with that? My body shudders, alerting me back to the fact that I'm freezing. Whatever, I don't have time to ponder that crap. I need some warm clothes. I wish I had my bunker gear on. I didn't even think to grab it out of the back seat of the cab.

I rub my hands over my arms as I trudge out of the ditch and onto the shoulder of the highway. Everyone is packing up or already done packing and ready to leave. Mike Newton, a baby-faced ultra-white boy with blonde hair and pale blue eyes, is directing traffic with Tyler Crowley, who is his complete opposite with dark skin, black hair, and brown eyes. I've known them both my whole life. Tyler used to give me cookies in kindergarten and Mike even asked me to the prom.

When Mike notices me, he gives a wave, looking far too excited to see me in my see-through tank...awkward. I attract my attention elsewhere, avoiding his gawking stare while taking in the rest of the crew. Rose is sitting in the fire truck with Maya wrapped up in multiple blankets in her lap, Dad is talking to the tow truck company that's here to get the car, and Alice is chatting with some hippie-looking guy in bunker gear with chin-length, wavy, blonde hair. His eyes dart over in my direction, the same ice blue as the beauty queen. Alice has a small freak out when she notices I'm looking right at them and she turns his head back to her, worry obvious on her face. Yeah, because I have no clue who you're talking about, pixie...I snort aloud at her attempt to have a covert conversation, it's pointless, especially when whispering is not hippie-boy's specialty. I can hear most of what he says from here.

"Relax, Ali. It's…big deal. She's bound to…eventually."

I can hear the slight twang in the guy's voice. He must be that Jasper person I was hearing earlier. Alice's face softens in comfort at his babying. That's right, pixie, listen to the hippie before you have a freaking heart attack. That girl has more energy than the energizer bunny. One of these days, she's going to blow a fuse, I swear.

"Cold?" A thundering voice calls out from behind me and my heart jumps as I spin around, coming face to face with a huge, burly man, holding a jacket out for me.

Dad told me that they had gotten three transfers last year, but he didn't tell me that one was a borderline giant. The man in front of me is so tall and muscular that he kind of reminds me of Fezzik, the giant from 'The Princess Bride', except a far more attractive version with his child-like face, short and curly dark hair, and hazel eyes.

"Emmett, are you going to load this or what?" Edward screams, gesturing to the Jaws of Life. I have a sudden urge to quote 'The Princess Bride'. Me, being me, well, I can't help myself.

"That Vizzini, he can fuss," I say, pointing to Edward.

The giant, Emmett, looks at me, his eyes wide, and I'm sure he's about to ask me if I'm crazy or something. Instead, he helps me into the jacket while he replies with a laugh.

"Fuss, fuss... I think he likes to scream at us,"

Oh, hell yeah! He knows the line! I haven't had a quote off in years- not since the last time I hung out with Jake. I wonder if he knows the whole thing.

"Probably he means no harm," I say with a shrug of my shoulders and a smile.

"He's really very short on charm," Emmett quotes the movie easily and I giggle, feeling giddy with joy.

"You have a great gift for rhyme."

"Yes, yes, some of the time," he agrees, nodding his head.

"Enough of that!" Edward shouts at us in annoyance and I nearly fall over in a fit of laughter. I don't know if he knows that he just said the next line perfectly, but any excuse to annoy Edward is good by me.

"Fezzik, are there rocks ahead?" I ask Emmett, scrunching my face in a fake confused expression.

"If there are…we all be dead," he chuckles and we both watch as Edward's face grows redder by the second. He's angry now. He's always been so damn hotheaded.

"No more rhymes now, I mean it," Edward snarls.

"Anybody want a peanut?" Emmett booms.

Edward throws up his hands in defeat, letting out a growl of rage as I laugh. Yeah, the whole getting along thing is working out splendidly so far...

Dad emerges at my side, shaking his head in disapproval as Emmett gives me a nod and rushes off to put the equipment away.

"Bells, why can't you be the bigger person? You know how close your mother and I are to the Cullens," he chastises me, sounding more disappointed than angry. "Can you at least try not to push his buttons?"

"I don't know. Can he try not to be a douche?" I counter and Dad rolls his eyes, his favorite gesture. Like Father, like daughter.

His arms open wide and without hesitation, I curl into them, feeling his fatherly comfort, which I have gone much too long without. The Cullen twins have had four years of my parents company without me around and they'll just have to get used to me being here again. I know that our families are close; we're close with the Blacks too. That doesn't mean I have to like them. The Blacks don't like the Cullens.

"You're soaked to the bone, kid. Your mother's going to pitch a fit when you show up at the house like this," he murmurs into my hair, kissing my forehead.

I shrug my shoulders. To be quite honest, I could care less right now. Nothing is going to ruin my return- not the rain or the Cullen twins or the over-protective lecture I'll receive from Mom upon arriving soaked at my parent's house, where I'll be staying until my house is ready for move in next week. I'm back with the people who love me and for the time being, that's enough to plaster a smile on my face and warmth in my heart, the fiery tension or the pouring rain that surrounds me be damned.

So, there you have it. I'm going to do my best to get the chapters for 'Hot Mess' out every Wednesday, but I may have some off-weeks because I'm going to be moving in about a month and I'll have moving and unpacking drama to deal with. Inspiration for this chapter came from a specific suggestion by one of the fire crew (THANKS JAMIE!), and also the song 'Weird to be Back' by firewater. Oh, and some really strange things happened after I started writing this chapter. I had already finished the first half of the chapter, when I got into a car accident (I was rear-ended. My car came out with only a few scratches and no one was hurt.) and I dropped my home phone in the bath tub, completely destroying it. I think it's finally started to happen...I'm writing my future, people. Lol Anyways! I don't own 'The Princess Bride' sadly, but 'My name is inigo montoya. You killed my father, prepare to die.' If you want to avoid death at my hands, I'm nice enough that I will take a review in lieu of your life. =D