I entered the Pop the Question contest last month and had a blast writing this story and participating in all the excitement! My writing muse decided to cooperate for one night, apparently.
You can see all the other heart-melting entries at www (dot) fanfiction (dot) net / ~popthequestion. Thank you to everyone who voted, recc'd, pimped, read, and reviewed, to the judges, and, of course, Chrisska, the organizer :)
Most of all, thank you Le Crepuscule for betaing and for always being there for me! Love you!
Pop the Question Contest Entry
Summary: Dr. Bella Swan has treated all kinds of patients, but none quite like Edward Cullen.
Warnings (if any): I'm not a doctor, and I have no medical experience whatsoever except for having pneumonia. I've done research, but that doesn't mean that everything (or anything) is accurate. I apologize for any mistakes regarding the medical field.
May 11, 2012 – present day.
Bella shut the door behind her and blew the stray strands of brown hair off her face as she handed her last patient's folder to her receptionist, Jessica. She took a detour to her office before her next appointment to collect herself; her entire day was just one patient after the other, and though she loved what she did, she couldn't help but wish she were at home snuggled up with Edward and their cat, Tanya.
Sighing, she unceremoniously plopped down on her plush leather chair and took deep breaths. Sometimes, she just needed to step away from her hectic schedule and get herself together.
She imagined Edward's fingers running through her hair as they lay in bed on a lazy Sunday morning; Tanya was curled up in the corner of their bedroom, purring like an engine.
As her mind began to calm down, she opened her eyes and they automatically sought out her favorite picture frame – one that had a special place on her desk. Bella couldn't help the smile that tugged at her lips as she gazed at the picture of her and her boyfriend, Edward.
She didn't even know a picture was being taken at the time until Angela printed it out and gave it to her one day. In the photo, they were at a friend's party; Edward was sitting in a chair and laughing at something while Bella stood behind him, leaning her elbows on his shoulders with her hands on his chest. She had her chin resting on top of his head and he was playing with her fingers absentmindedly.
Bella loved the picture because it perfectly captured how they acted around each other all the time. They always seemed to gravitate towards each other, seeking the other's comforting touch. Bella and Edward's friends often speculated that they could read each other's mind in close proximity.
Bella liked to call that "being in love."
She let out another sigh and softly giggled as she remembered how Edward kept popping up at her work before they'd started dating. She couldn't seem to get rid of him. He used to be – well, still was, at times– ridiculously paranoid, and she'd found it oddly endearing.
August 16, 2010
Thoughts of the week's grocery list floated through Bella's brain as she made her way to one of the rooms for her next patient.
Nutella- definitely Nutella- microwavable mac and cheese, frozen pizza…
She may have been a doctor, but she certainly wasn't a health nut.
She knocked the wooden door of the exam room and made sure to listen closely for an objection to her arrival before entering the room – she wasn't about to make that mistake again – and beginning to introduce herself.
"Hello, I'm Dr. Swan…" She broke off as she made eye contact with the man who was standing by the sink and pumping copious amounts of hand sanitizer onto his palm. Her lips twitched and she had to fight back laughter. The man was obviously a germaphobe. She coughed instead and continued.
"Dr. Weber is on her honeymoon until the end of next week, so I will be helping you today. Could you tell me why you're here today?" she asked as she gestured for the man – Edward Cullen, according to the file Jessica gave her – to take a seat across from her.
He nodded curtly and rubbed his hands together. The pungent odor of sanitizing lotion permeated the small room and Bella subtly scrunched her nose.
"Er, I'm sorry. Just one moment, I need to…" Edward gestured vaguely before pulling a paper towel out from the dispenser and rubbing off the excess hand sanitizer. Bella awkwardly waited for him to finish.
When they were both finally seated, Bella opened up Edward's file in front of her and tried to make eye contact with him, waiting for him to explain his reason for being there. His eyes stopped darting around the office after a couple moments of silence and focused on Bella's face. She hadn't noticed before how green his eyes were – they reminded her of mint leaves. His jaw was angular and cleanly shaved, his long eyelashes brushing his cheekbone as he gazed down at his hands for a moment. She watched as his Adam's apple bobbed.
Edward's eyes flickered back to hers and he seemed to remember she'd asked him a question. His eyes bore into hers.
"Hello, Dr. Swan. I've been having a lot of pain in my stomach, er, my left abdomen, and I don't feel like eating. I checked Web MD, and I'm pretty sure I have appendicitis. That's what it told me when I inputted my symptoms, anyway. Should I go get my appendix removed? I don't really need it, right?" Edward rambled, and Bella's medical knowledge automatically kicked into gear.
"Mr. Cullen, have you–" Edward interrupted her.
"Call me Edward, please." Bella nodded curtly before continuing.
"Edward, have you been experiencing fever, nausea, vomiting, constipation, or abdominal swelling? Those are some signs that point to appendicitis." She lifted her pen, ready to note down what he told her.
"No, I haven't. Just the pain and loss of appetite," Edward said, softly rubbing at his abdomen.
"How long have you been having these symptoms?"
"They started early this morning." Bella nodded and motioned for him to lie down on the examining table. She performed multiple knee-flexing tests to test his abdomen's reaction to the right hip resisting motion before moving to examine his abdomen.
"I'm going to have to peel your shirt up, Edward. Is that alright?" Bella murmured. Why was her stomach feeling fluttery? Her examinations were always routine, and certainly never sexual in any way.
Edward nodded his assent. Gulping, Bella reached for the hem of his shirt and pulled it up to expose the lower half of his torso. Her hands were shaking as she assessed the upper right part of his abdomen and moving towards the lower right quadrant. She couldn't help but notice his toned torso and the light brown happy trail that disappeared into his jeans.
After a couple minutes of examination, Bella didn't notice any inflammation or pain associated with appendicitis and ascertained that Edward was experiencing indigestion. He looked relieved when she told him her diagnosis.
"Thank god," Edward muttered as he sat up and ran his fingers through his unusually colored hair. Bella had the urge to hold up a color wheel next to his head, though she was sure that there wasn't a specific color that matched his hair – it was somewhere between light brown and copper.
Bella's eyes then glazed over for a moment as she wondered how soft his hair would feel against her fingertips. Being a professional, she was able to snap out of it quickly.
Standing up, she offered her hand. Edward hesitated for a second before squeezing her hand with his. Warmth immediately blossomed in Bella's stomach, and she could feel her cheeks flooding with color. It was a… nice feeling – certainly not something she'd ever experienced before.
"Thank you, Dr. Swan." Edward grinned crookedly at her, and Bella felt her cheeks get warmer.
"You're welcome, Edward. If your symptoms persist, and the pain starts moving towards the lower right abdomen, make sure to go to urgent care." She gave his hand one last squeeze before letting go.
Her mind was spinning with thoughts about how handsome Edward Cullen was, how he was able to make her feel so…warm and bashful, as she left the room.
Bella brought her hands up to cup her cheeks and willed herself to cool down. He was just a man, after all – only another patient.
August 24, 2010
Just another patient, indeed. In fact, Bella couldn't stop thinking about the copper-haired, mossy-eyed man throughout the week. Would he come back? When would she see him again?
Bella shook her head to rid herself of thoughts relating to Edward. She was at work to cure people, not fantasize about sexy, germaphobic men. She grabbed her next patient's file and quickly scanned over the papers as she walked to the room. Her eyes widened in surprise when she saw Edward's name and she almost tripped over her feet.
Butterflies emerged in her stomach and she took several breaths to calm them down before knocking on the door and entering the room.
This time, Edward was actually sitting down. However, he had a tissue pressed to his face and was blowing his nose…loudly. Bella raised her eyebrows but composed herself quickly. Edward's face was pale and there were dark circles under his eyes. Though her heart was sinking with pity for the beautiful, sick man, Bella kept her face neutral.
"Hello again, Edward; I'd ask how you are, but I think I already have my answer." Bella smiled sympathetically. Edward looked embarrassed as he quickly wiped his nose and threw the wad of tissue away.
"Hi, Dr. Swan." His voice was gravelly, lower than it had been the last time Bella had seen him. She'd committed his velvety voice to memory over the past week, so she was shocked to hear how horrible he sounded. How was it that she still wanted to mount him, though, even when he looked like he'd been through the wringer and slept on a haystack?
"I think I might have pneumonia," Edward said regretfully. He turned to the side, tucked his face into his elbow and coughed. Bella winced.
Edward rattled off his symptoms and Bella jotted them down. Again, he credited an online medical reference site with his self-diagnosis. Bella chuckled and pointed her pen at Edward.
"Edward, those sites are great for reading about illnesses, but shouldn't be consulted for self-diagnosis," Bella told him calmly. Edward looked contrite. She assessed him thoroughly – while refraining from feeling him up while using the stethoscope to assess his lungs – and soon came to the conclusion that all he had was a cold.
As she sent him off, Bella reminded him to keep himself healthy so he didn't actually get pneumonia. Though she felt horrible for thinking such a thing, Bella couldn't help but consider the fact that she'd be able to see Edward again if his symptoms got worse. Edward nodded and smiled at her weakly.
"Your girlfriend or wife should take good care of you so you can get better quickly," Bella said slyly, glancing at him through her eyelashes.
Edward grinned and replied, "My mom's back in Chicago, which isn't exactly close to Seattle. I'm on my own." He was more than happy to let Bella know he was single.
Bella's heart fluttered; Edward was single. Single, sexy, and…sick. She frowned as she thought about him taking care of himself, all alone. Though she wished she could do something, she knew it would be inappropriate to invite herself over to his place to play nurse.
Instead of offering her caretaking services, Bella wished Edward a speedy recovery and patted him on the back. He thanked her between coughs and walked down the hallway… and Dr. Swan couldn't help but watch his sculpted ass move the entire way.
Before opening the door to the waiting room, Edward looked back and smirked at Bella, who was biting her pen cap and clutching a folder to her chest as she stared at his goods. Realizing she'd been caught ogling him, Bella quickly turned around and ran to her office. Her cheeks were warm with her blush until she escaped into the bathroom to splash her face with cold water.
August 30, 2010
Bella kept herself purposefully busy all week so she had no time to worry about Edward's recovery and miss him. She'd only known him for a total of about half an hour, but she couldn't get him out of her head. His beautiful green eyes and chiseled jaw appeared in her daydreams more than she cared to admit. At night, though, she allowed herself to fantasize about his long fingers and crooked smirk.
She was actually in her "doctor groove;" her mind was blissfully empty of everything but medical information as she met with each patient. It was getting close to her lunch break when she ended one appointment, so she headed over to her office. While she walked, she texted her best friend, Alice, that she would be at her apartment at six.
Being unobservant while she was texting, Bella collided with someone and would have fallen backwards if it weren't for the strong arms that held her upright. Her head snapped up and her eyes met the beautiful mossy ones that she'd been seeing almost every night in her dreams.
She gasped and felt herself blush. They were so close together, and his hands were pressing softly against her forearms. Her skin tingled even though he was touching her coat.
"Edward? What are you doing here?" Bella stuttered. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath before stepping back; his touch seemed to distract her to the point that she couldn't verbally express her thoughts. "You're looking better," Bella commented, stuffing her hands in her coat pockets. He still looked pale, but he was naturally light-toned.
Edward combed his hair with his fingers nervously. "Thanks. I feel better than I did last week." He grinned at her and her heart started beating a little faster.
"Well, Dr. Weber's back, so I guess you'll be seeing her today," Bella said. She was disappointed that she wouldn't be able to spend more time with him. "I think you should know, though, that you're a bit of a 'cyberchondriac'." Bella giggled at the term she'd found online. Edward tilted his head to the side.
"A cyberchondriac?" He asked her. She nodded.
"It's essentially a hypochondriac. You know, a person who's obsessed with their health, except they use the Internet to diagnose all their health problems – usually, might I add, incorrectly." Edward laughed and Bella was relieved he didn't take it as an insult.
"I have to admit it's true," he conceded, lifting his hands up in surrender. "But I'm not here because of a medical issue. I'm actually here for you." He glanced down, almost shyly.
Bella felt her heart rate pick up; her palms started getting sweaty. "You're here for me?" Her eyebrows furrowed in confusion. "How did you get in here, then?"
Edward's smile turned cocky. "The receptionist… Jessica? She's very friendly." Bella snorted – it was no secret that Jessica was a shameless flirt. He rolled his eyes. "Anyway, I'm here to ask if you wanted to go out sometime. We could get to know each other outside of the doctor's office?" He said the last part like it was a question.
Bella bit her lip to keep from smiling like a loon. She couldn't believe he'd come to her office just to ask her out! She nodded.
"Yeah, I'd like that," Bella said sweetly. Edward's smile lit up his entire face, and she couldn't suppress her giggle.
He reached into his jeans pocket and handed her his phone.
"Can I have your number so we can discuss the specifics later?" She nodded and quickly inputted her information. After she returned his phone, Edward tapped away for a couple seconds before putting his phone back in his pocket. Bella felt her phone vibrate in her coat pocket, so she read the text he'd sent her.
Friday night movie, 6 PM?
Smiling widely, Bella texted him back.
Make it 8 and I'm all yours.
May 11, 2012 – present day.
And she was all his from then on. They went out on dates every Friday, which eventually turned into weekend sleepovers. By the following year, they'd moved into an apartment together and even adopted a cat. She took care of him when he caught the flu and he saved her when she pushed herself too hard at work. Bella and Edward balanced each other out perfectly, her with her logic and him with his playfulness.
Before hoisting herself off her chair, Bella gave the picture on her desk one last look. It didn't matter how draining her day was; everything else would vanish as soon as she was in Edward's arms. She closed the door to her office behind her and picked up her next patient's file, reading it as she walked down the hallway. Her eyebrows furrowed when she saw Edward's name. She had to often reassure him about his symptoms so he didn't blow everything out of proportion, but she hadn't treated him since they'd started dating. He kept Angela as his physician to avoid any conflict of interest.
She didn't even knock on the door before entering. "Edward, you could've asked me about your symptoms at home. Why'd you come in? Are you okay?" Bella asked worriedly, placing his file on the desk and walking over to take his hands in hers.
He stood up and chuckled. "I'm fine, Bella – I think so, anyway. I just wanted to ask you about some things that I've been noticing today." His eyes bore into hers and she felt her body soften as she gazed into his eyes.
"Right now, though?" Bella asked him, cocking her head to the side. She squeezed his hands.
"Well… this just couldn't wait until tonight." He gave her a crooked smile. She sighed.
"Okay, um, why are you here today, Mr. Cullen?"
His face turned serious, though there was a hint of a smile on his lips. "Well, Dr. Swan, I've been feeling really jittery today, like I can't stop moving." Bella nodded. "My blood's pumping really fast. I think I've been living off of adrenaline since I woke up this morning. I feel like I'm about to throw up my heart… it's been beating so fast." Concerned, Bella furrowed her eyebrows. "Do you know what could be wrong with me?"
Bella hesitated. "This sounds like anxiety, Edward. Is there anything that's stressing you out lately? Are these palpations continuous or on and off?" Bella hadn't noticed him stressing out recently – he didn't usually let things bother him too much – so she was surprised that he was feeling this way.
Edward pretended to think.
"Continuous. Actually, yeah, I've been really nervous about this one thing…" Bella cocked her eyebrow. "I think you're the only one who can cure it, though, Dr. Swan." She looked completely confused.
"Of course, Edward," she murmured. He let out a breath he'd been holding before detangling his fingers from hers and sliding down onto one knee in front of her, still keeping one of her hands in his.
Bella's eyes sparked with recognition and she gasped.
"Bella, I don't know how to live without you. Literally, I would spend the rest of my life convinced that I have one fatal disease or the other." He shook his head and laughed lowly while Bella smiled with tears shining in her eyes. "But with you around, I don't have to take self-diagnosis tests because not only do you diagnose me within thirty seconds, you also calm me like no one I've ever met before." His hands are shaking. Bella let out a sob. Taking a ring out from his pocket, he raised it up to her.
Bella's eyes were not on the diamond ring, though. They were solely trained on her beautiful, wonderful boyfriend's face.
"You make me the happiest son of a bitch alive, and if I'm correct, being happy can keep me healthy. You wouldn't want an unhappy patient, would you, Dr. Swan?" She covered her mouth and nodded while laughing through tears. "I love you so much… will you marry me?" Edward asked with a shy smile.
Bella used her death grip on Edward's hand to pull him up and tug him to her. Their bodies were pressed together tightly as she lifted up on her toes to reach his lips. He bent down slightly to meet her halfway. Their lips moved together familiarly and Edward brought his hands up to wipe Bella's tears away.
Bella started murmuring "yes" over and over again against his lips. Edward's lips morphed into a victorious, relieved smile and they soon broke their kiss. Bella felt Edward's heart pounding against her chest and she let her hands run through the hair at the nape of his neck.
Nuzzling Bella's nose with his own, Edward whispered, "I love you, Bella." They both watched as he slid the ring onto her shaking finger. Bella giggled, feeling a myriad of emotions – giddiness, surprise, excitement, and most of all, love.
"That's Dr. Swan to you, Edward. We're still in a doctor's office." She pecked his lips once more.
"I guess I just caught the love bug when I came in here," Edward said cheekily. Bella laughed at his lame joke, but her fiancée silenced her with a lip-searing kiss.