FAGE Six Pack
Written for: Eternally Cullen
Written By: Claire Bloom
Summary/Prompt used: Meet at a gym, and troublesome cat – but this cat just wouldn't be troublesome, he turned out to be cute, and helpful and I hope you love him anyway
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Sitting in her car, Bella watched the automatic doors leading to the gym open and close; sliding back, and forth, over and over again. Sometimes people walked in. Sometimes people walked out, but occasionally the doors seemed to open to no-one. Bella wondered if they were on a timer, and it didn't really matter if anyone moved past, they just opened and closed regardless.
Glancing at her watch, she realised an hour had gone by. She knew her friends would be inside, and working out, no doubt looking fabulous. She hated to let them down but gyms were not the safest place for Bella. She had no coordination, and often tripped over thin air in her own apartment. Why they had thought this was a good idea for her, evaded Bella. Yes, her butt could use some squats, and her wobbly arms a good tone up, but in public? With fitness freaks and posers watching her, judging her every move? What did they call themselves? GymRats? Hardly an attractive nickname, but yeah, Bella didn't enjoy being the entertainment because that's exactly what she would be for them; amusing yet annoying.
Sighing, Bella knew they wouldn't accept her excuses anymore, and grabbing her backpack she exited the car, locked it and headed towards the sliding doors before she could change her mind again.
As she neared the entrance, a rustle in the bushes caused Bella to stop walking and eye the undergrowth with suspicion. A beautiful grey tabby cat strolled from the behind the leaves, and yawning and stretching simultaneously, it pawed the ground then looked up at her and meowed.
"Hi there," squatting down, Bella stroked him under the chin. He really was beautiful. The grey of his coat almost silver, his eyes large and playful. He wore a black collar with a silver tag hanging down. "What's your name, little fella?" She toyed with the tag and read the engraving.
Funny name for a cat, Carlisle? Wasn't that a town in Wales, England? Bella pondered. "Hey, Carlisle, I'm Bella."
Carlisle purred and rubbed his back against her bended knee; seeking further petting. Her hands obviously weren't moving over him enough. She acquiesced and dropping her backpack, used both hands to rub and tickle him all over. He nudged her hand with his head when she slowed. Bella was enjoying the petting session too. It was the most attention she'd had from any male in years.
"I guess I best go inside," she told him. "My friends are waiting for me. I'd rather stay out here with you though. Is that just a little sad?" she asked. Carlisle stopped nudging and looked up at her. Flicking his tail he moved towards the entrance, his tiny frame moving past the sensor was enough to cause the doors to slide open. "I guess you think it is sad!" Bella laughed, and picking up her backpack, she followed him inside.
Glancing around, she noticed a girl behind the reception desk. Her hair was hanging long and straight around her shoulders, glossy and perfect. Her make up minimal but still obvious. Bella thought it was rather silly for someone to style their hair, wear it loose, and apply makeup when working out or in a gym.
"Hi, welcome to E.M Sports and Training Venue. Can I help you?" She smiled at Bella, making her feel slightly guilty for judging her appearance. So what if she wanted to look nice for work?
"Erm, yeah, hi. I'm here to meet a couple of friends? They asked me to join them for a workout. I'm not a member. They are. They said it would be okay? It's okay, right?" Bella inwardly cringed at her babble, and looked down when Carlisle rubbed against her legs. He was blinking up at her. Bella took his expression as supportive and calming. His own little way of telling her to calm down, shut up and be cool.
The receptionist laughed. "Sure it's okay. We encourage members to bring along family and friends. It allows them to see what we have to offer, and maybe you might want to join yourself."
Bella laughed. "Doubtful." The receptionists smile vanished, and Carlisle ducked his head, as if he was thinking please shut up!
Bella back tracked. "I just meant that this isn't usually my thing."
The receptionist gave Bella the once over with a snide glance, "obviously!"
Okay, I probably deserved that, she thought. I insult her job and her passion for sweating, so she insults me in return. The nice employee act had gone now she knew there was no commission to be made from the frump with the cat.
Bella glanced back down at Carlisle, who now sat watching her with his head cocked slightly to one side. It looked like he raised a brow at her then nonchalantly began licking his paw. "Thanks for the support," Bella whispered, then walked in the direction the receptionist was pointing.
The gym floor was up two flights of winding stairs. She took each one carefully, paying close attention to her footing. It was likely she would trip, fall down the stairs and land face first at the receptionist's feet!
Bella paused at the top of the stairs. Carlisle had followed her, but kept walking into the center of the gym. He sat, and looked around him, as if seeking someone in particular. Bella watched him with curious fascination, when she heard Alice call her name.
"Isabella, you are late!"
Half the gym turned to stare at her. Bella blushed. "Please be quiet," she begged, dropping her backpack by the treadmill Alice was using. "Where's Rose?"
"Well, you are. I hate tardiness, and what are you wearing?" Alice nodded towards the static bikes as she spoke indicating Rose was in the midst of her spin class.
Bella looked down at her sweats. "Erm, workout clothes?" She asked. Was it a trick question?
"You looked – comfortable." Alice laughed.
"Is that wrong?"
"Damn straight!" Alice reached for her towel and gently dabbed at her forehead. She was running pretty fast, and Bella was impressed with her speed, and that she could still hold a conversation and look sexy too. "Sweats are too loose."
"But I need to be able to move, don't I?"
"You can still have flexibility in tight clothing, Bella. It's what Lycra was invented for, and one of the only times it's acceptable to wear that material."
Bella looked at Alice's skin-tight leggings and vest. They seemed molded perfectly to her shape, which was amazing. She looked hot and not just sweaty hot; hot hot.
"I can't wear that," Bella ducked her head, and spied other girls scattered around the gym. They were all dressed like Alice, even the men. "Everyone looks like they're on parade. I thought the point was to get fit."
"Get fit, and get felt." Alice laughed. "Who's your friend?" she nodded behind Bella.
"Oh, just some cat I found outside. He followed me inside."
"Cat?" Alice chuckled again. "Bella, what are you talking about?"
Bella turned around, expecting to see Carlisle but instead found herself staring into the green eyes of a very tall, very well-toned guy. He stood at the top of the stairs, watching her.
Bella's world came to a standstill, nothing moved, she didn't even exhale. No one existed except the two of them; eyes locked, breath hitched, with heaven and all its angels watching as two worlds suddenly collided with one, single glance.
Had their eyes never met, their worlds would've gone on exactly the same as before; never knowing the other was out there; her other half, the one who was made especially for her.
But their eyes did meet, they did see each other and for Bella nothing would be the same again.
A distant sound seemed to pull her back from his stare and into the present. Alice.
Alice was talking to her, but every word had fallen on deaf ears. "What?" Bella managed to croak out, she blinked which seemed to break the spell. Bella turned her head slightly towards Alice, but kept him in her sights. He seemed confused by the exchange between them, shaking his head and walking away from her.
Bella had shared that moment with him, and in its preciseness she had known he had been caught in the same instant she was, yet now he'd walked away from her she wasn't so sure it had been mutual. Maybe he was just freaked out by the gym newbie staring at him like a hungry spaniel looking at a steak!
He was hot. She was dressed in sweats three sizes too big.
For the very first time in her life, Bella felt subconscious about her attire. She looked at the other women working out. They wore Lycra and it was tight, showing off their curves and pertness and she hated every single one of them. Who wore lip gloss to a gym she had wondered, but now she knew; the clever one's that's who!
She looked down and caught Carlisle's sympathetic eyes. There, there he seemed to say.
Bella sighed. If men like him walked around this place, a girl had to make sure she was noticed for all the right reasons.
It then occurred to Bella that his staring at her had not been born from desire but maybe from disgust at her lack of grooming. She had a sudden urge to go home and shave her legs.
"Bella, did you just have a Matrix moment?" Alice laughed as she turned off the treadmill and stepped down to stand beside her.
"A what?" Bella turned her back to the gym, and the general direction Mr I'm-too-sexy-for-this-gym had walked in.
"A Matrix moment."
"Alice, what are you talking about?"
"Slow mo?" Bella felt irritated. She held her hands up and shrugged, indicating she had no idea what Alice was saying. "Oh, for the love of – slow motion, Bella, you know, time stood still and all that?"
"Alice, what am I doing here?" Bella changed the subject. "I don't do gyms. I don't know how these things work and I feel uncomfortable. I want to go home."
"First of all, you can never feel uncomfortable in clothing that is so large it doesn't even touch your skin! Secondly, I will show you. Now, step up here." Alice gestured to her recently vacated treadmill.
"Up there? You want me on this machine?"
"Get up there, Bells!"
Bella stepped up and almost tripped. It wasn't even switched on yet. This was going to be fun.
"We'll start you off gently," Alice instructed, pressing buttons which lit up the screen with graphs and numbers like a slot machine.
Bella felt her-self traveling backwards and stepped forward quickly. She did not want to fall off this thing. "It's too fast," she complained.
"It's on warm-up, Bella. A slow walk! You're barely doing 2 miles per hour!"
Bella walked faster. She kept her eyes glued to the numbers, not knowing what they meant.
Carlisle walked to the front of the treadmill, jumped up and sat just beneath the monitors. "Oh sure, stay on the part that doesn't move!" Bella grumbled at him. He raised a brow and started to wash behind his ears again.
"So, that guy," Alice leant on the handrail and wiggled her eyebrows at Bella. She wondered what was with all the eyebrow action today. "You know him?"
"No," Bella replied. There was no point in pretending she didn't know what Alice was talking about. She'd practically drooled.
"So what was with the stare down?"
Bella shrugged, and looked down at her feet. She felt like she may trip; she didn't want to trip.
"He's hot," Alice continued, "but not as hot as his friend."
Bella glanced at Alice to see her nod in the opposite direction. She dared a quick look over, praying he wasn't paying any attention to her, but he was, they both were. Mr I-can-make-your-nipples-react-with-just-one-look and the friend who had caught Alice's eye.
Bella blushed and looked away. Carlisle had stopped his grooming - even cats wanted to look their best here - and cocked his head at her as if in question.
Alice wiggled her fingers and smiled.
"Stop waving at them!" Bella hissed. She did not want any more attention drawn to this area, not to her, the treadmill she used, or her hideous sweats.
"They're coming over," Alice piped up.
"What?" Bella fell off her ankles. It was a stupid trait which happened often. She would be just innocently walking down the street and her ankles would give way, causing her to lurch to the side as if she teetered on six-inch heels. Bella never wore heels, but it didn't stop her falling off her own feet! But now she was on a moving pathway, and it didn't care if she kept up or not.
She went down.
The treadmill met Bella's face with an unforgiving thud, and her teeth met her lip with a sharp bite. Bella tasted blood, but it didn't faze her. She was mortified and needed to get out of the line of sight of every person in that gym, for she knew all eyes were on her.
As if her clumsy connection with the treadmill had been a more gazelle-like bounce across an inflatable floor, Bella sprung to her feet and, cupping her mouth, she kept her eyes down and rushed past both men, now standing stock still in shock.
Alice chased after her, calling her name.
Bella whirled round to face her as soon as the bathroom door closed behind her. "Vil you shush op!" Bella snapped, swallowing blood.
"What?" Alice asked, gathering paper towels and soaking them in cold water.
"They shah," Bella whined, blood stained spittle dribbling into her palm. Oh how attractive, she wanted to sob.
"Shah? Oh saw!" Alice understood. "Of course they all saw you. You hit the floor, face first!"
"Yesh, but you may as well announsh it on the tannoy!"
Alice laughed. "Oh, they didn't need me to get their attention, you managed quite well by yourself."
"Thish is awful," Bella buried her face in her hands and then realised she had just soaked herself in blood spit. "Can thish get any worsh?" She wailed.
Alice clutched her stomach and leant against the sink. The wet paper towel now a mush in her own hands.
"It'sh not funny!"
"Oh Bells, but it is!" Alice wiped her eyes, and then turned her amusement to sympathy. "Here," she turned the tap on, and pressed Bella's hands beneath the spray, adding soap, and then as Bella rinsed the suds, Alice wiped at her face with the wet towels.
Gently, she pulled Bella's lip back to examine the cut. It wasn't large but Bella could feel it swelling already. She tongued the area. "I don't think you'll need stitches," Alice said, "but I think ice would help."
Bella nodded and dried her hands. She looked in the mirror and examined her face. The bite was inside her lip, but the swelling was visible. It looked like she'd kept the cotton balls in her mouth after a visit to the dentist! "Can I go home now?" she asked.
Alice crossed her arms. "We're not finished."
"Oh, I think I'm done!" Bella pushed away from the sink and opened the bathroom door only to find Carlisle sitting outside waiting. He looked happy to see her, as he stood and immediately walked between her legs, curling his silvery tail around one ankle as he petted her. "Aww, thanksh, buddy," Bella bent down to pick him up, cuddling him close and giving his ears a good tickle. He purred with delight.
"Oh, cat," Alice laughed, finally understanding Bella's earlier statement when she'd asked about her friend. "Listen, I think the treadmill was just a bit too tricky for you. Let's try something tame. Ooh like the elliptical?"
Bella stopped walking and turned to face her. "I can't even shay that word, and you think I can ush it?" Shaking her head, she carried on towards the exit. "I don't even want to know what it doesh!"
"Your arse and thighs," Alice shouted just as the doors leading back into the gym opened. It was timed to perfection. Alice's words carried across the floor and amused glances met Bella once again.
She caught herself staring into brilliant green eyes once more. He struggled to keep a smile from crinkling his cheeks, but his eyes spoke volumes. He looked down at her midriff, as if surveying her bottom, and slightly raised his brow as if his examination had given him an answer.
Goddamn Alice and her big mouth!
Bella let go of Carlisle, and went to retrieve her backpack. The last thing she needed was for them to all think she was a crazy cat lady, who took her pet to the gym with her.
As she walked toward the horrible treadmill of shame, her left foot caught in the extra material of her baggy sweatpants on her right leg. She felt the waistband slip, but before she could stop it from happening they went down, exposing her pink, knicker-covered bottom to the gym, and Mr I-just-checked-out-your-arse-but-didn't-request-fr ont-row-seats.
Bella didn't even turn around to look at anyone. She grabbed her pants, yanked them back up before she fell over again, and forgetting her backpack, she ran for the stairs.
She prayed Carlisle didn't try to dash between her legs again, and that her sweats stayed up around her waist. She begged her ankles to stay strong and her hands to find supportive purchase on the stair rails, and finally reaching the bottom she dashed for the sliding doors.
She could hear Alice calling her name, and Carlisle meowing loudly, but she didn't want to stop. It wasn't until she reached her car that she remembered her backpack and her keys safely tucked away inside.
"Crap!" She shouted, thumping her hands on the roof. Bella wanted to cry. Humiliation had occurred here today, threefold. She never wanted to step inside that building ever again, but she needed her keys.
Bella rested her head on her hands. Maybe she could sneak inside, just before closing, or walk home and call a locksmith, and the bank to stop and replace all her cards inside her wallet, which was snuggled deep inside her backpack along with her keys! The latter thought was more troublesome, but definitely the most appealing option.
Feeling a nudge against her legs, Bella lifted her head and looked down at Carlisle. He seemed worried. She sat on the floor of the parking lot, her back against her car, and tickled him, then stroked the length of his back, to the very tip of his tail.
It wasn't enough for him, and he shoved her hand, lifting his head to show her exactly what he wanted. "You like that, huh?" she asked him, stroking under his chin. Carlisle lifted his little white paws and placed them on Bella's raised knee. He watched her face as she stroked him, purring his satisfaction. "I left my bag inside," she told him, "with my keys and my wallet."
He blinked, least of your worries he seemed to say.
"Yeah, I know. I left in a hurry, but you saw what happened. Plus, I cut my lip, like that was the worst part."
Carlisle nodded, looks worse than it is
Bella smiled at him. He was easy to talk too, and he was probably the first male she had met who didn't make her feel tongued-tied and silly. If only it was this easy to meet and talk to a guy. Her past relationships weren't many and didn't last long enough to even earn the title 'relationship' but they were Bella's experiences, and all she had to go on; to compare with. It wasn't second nature to her to chat up a guy, to flirt and come off as sexy rather than shy, which was why Alice had persuaded her to come to her gym; wall to wall men, all toned up and horny, she'd said. Why Bella had thought she could pull this off was beyond her. She knew she looked a mess in her oversized sweats, and if truth be told, she'd worn them on purpose. She had a good figure really, not sensational, hardly a knock-out, but good, yet she disliked dressing in skimpy clothes as she didn't want to feel like she was on display. To strut around whilst wearing skin tight leggings was not her thing. It never would be. This was one of Alice's worse ideas to date.
But looking back, Bella pondered if the Lycra would've been the far better choice compared to falling off a treadmill, splitting her lip, losing her pants and talking to a cat.
Now she had no choice but go back inside and face those people, and have them laugh at her again as she retrieved her backpack.
"This sucks!" she groaned.
A more masculine moan sounded from nearby, as if in answer to her own.
Bella looked around but couldn't see anyone.
She heard the moan again, and decided to investigate. Standing, she looked around at the many cars parked in the lot. She couldn't see anyone, but she could most definitely hear them.
Carlisle started to walk towards a black sedan. The moaning had stopped but Bella was as curious as the cat.
She followed him, walking around the car only to find an elderly man laying on his back, almost unconscious. His right hand was resting on his chest as if only moments earlier he had been clutching at it.
"Oh my Goodness!" Bella rushed to his side and lifted his hand. She didn't know what to do, but she guessed he was having or had just had a heart attack.
"I don't know," Bella replied. "I don't know what's wrong with him. Heart attack I think. What do I do?" She wasn't really asking the cat for advice but to Bella's amazement, Carlisle placed a paw on the man's chest.
"Breathing, that's right," Bella bent her head to his chest and listened for his breathing. There was nothing. She looked up at the cat, who now nudged the man's hand. Bella checked his pulse, and to her relief found one. It was weak but definitely there.
"We need help!" she told Carlisle, not really expecting a Lassie moment where the cat ran inside the gym and alerted the staff to the outside medical emergency, but she was still disappointed when the cat didn't move.
"HELP!" Bella shouted then wondered why Alice had stopped chasing after her into the car park.
Where was she? Where was everyone else? They couldn't possibly be all inside and working out! But glancing around, she could see the car park was empty. Help was not available.
"Carlisle, I don't know what to do!" she cried.
Carlisle climbed onto the man's chest and sat there all proud.
"That's not helpful!" she said.
Carlisle's response was to knead the man's chest as if making a bed for the night.
"This is not the time to start getting comfortable," Bella told him, but then it dawned on her she needed to start CPR. He had a pulse but wasn't breathing; she had to try to remember what to do.
"HELP!" Bella called out one more time, before tilting the man's head and breathing into his mouth. She moved Carlisle aside, measured with her fingers where she thought she should compress, and began counting.
Each time she bent over to breathe into him, she called out for help. It seemed to take forever before anyone responded.
"Please help us," she sobbed.
"I'm here, what happened?"
Bella looked up to see Mr Green-eyes kneeling at her side, her backpack in his hand. She didn't stop to question why he had it, or why he was out here, she was just glad she wasn't alone in this situation anymore.
"Heart attack, I think," she told him as she continued to compress his chest. She felt exhausted.
Mr Right-place-right-time pulled out his cell and dialed the emergency services. Bella didn't listen to the call, she had to concentrate but suddenly she felt his hand on top of her own.
"You can stop now," he said.
"No, he's not breathing," Bella argued.
"Look," Mr Hot-and-helpful nodded at the fallen man. Bella looked down and to her relief noticed his lips parted as raspy breaths were exhaled and inhaled.
"Oh God," Bella sobbed, covering her face with her hands. This was too intense.
"Bella, Bella, oh my God, what happened?" Alice appeared out of nowhere, and instead of being annoyed at her lousy timing, Bella was just happy to have people here with her.
She felt arms around her shoulders, and gladly leant into them. She needed the support, and comfort. He could've died.
Carlisle nudged her knee but Bella needed a few more minutes to compose herself. She'd never experienced anything quite like this before.
The distant sound of sirens made everyone breathe a sigh of relief, and suddenly there was a bustle of activity as people started talking, explaining what had happened as they knew it, giving instruction and basically taking over.
Bella realised she had an audience but couldn't register for how long they had been there. Had they watched while she struggled to save him?
Gentle yet strong arms helped her to her feet before Alice crushed her in a tight hug. Bella looked up from the nook of her friend's shoulder to see Mr Green-eyes watching her again. His hand was still on her shoulder. It was him who had held her and helped her up.
"You okay?" he asked, his brows slightly furrowed. He genuinely seemed concerned.
Bella nodded. "I just want to go home," she said.
He picked up her backpack and held it out for her, but Bella's hand shook as she tried to open it and get her car keys out.
He took them from her fingers. "I'll drive," he said.
"I can take her." Alice intervened but Bella liked the idea of being alone in a car with this guy, and in a rare moment of confidence she rejected Alice's offer.
"No, that's okay, Alice. He can drive me."
Bella spoke quickly to the paramedic and tried to accept their appraisal of her actions, before letting Mr Safety-Net guide her to her car.
Alice waved and winked and made the sign for 'call me'. Bella nodded and climbed inside, before she noticed Carlisle watching from across the parking lot.
He had stayed by her side since the moment she had stepped foot out of her car, and now she was leaving he had moved away. It was almost as if he had sensed she would need him and now she was in the capable hands of this guy, he could leave. Bella didn't want him to go; she liked him. She wondered who he belonged to, and considered his owners very lucky to have him.
He had helped her in so many ways, and nobody would believe the life of that man wasn't saved just by a badly dressed girl with a split lip, but by a GymCat called Carlisle.
"Who do you belong to?" Bella asked out loud, forgetting she was not alone in the car.
Following her line of vision, her companion answered. "The cat? Oh, that's Carlisle, he's mine."
Turning to her driver, she smiled and sat back in her seat. She felt surprisingly comfortable in his presence, especially considering her earlier embarrassment. Everything that had happened inside the gym seemed so insignificant now. Her perspective had changed. A brush with death could do that to a person, she mused.
He started the car and then turned to face her. Smiling, he held out his hand. "Edward," he introduced himself.
Bella smiled back at him, and placed her hand in his. He felt strong, but didn't squeeze too hard. She liked his hands, and wondered how good they would feel on the rest of her. She wanted to ask him why he had been staring at her, had he been as caught up in their moment as she was. Did he feel it too? But instead she simply replied, "Bella," and closed her door. Those questions could wait.
"So Bella, do you come here often?"
She knew he was joking, for it was more than obvious she was a novice at the gym, but she recognised the beginning of something; a spark, the need to flirt, and she wanted to grab hold of this moment.
Laughing she said, "Nope, but from now on, I think I will be."
Carlisle twitched his tail and disappeared into the bush from whence he had first appeared.