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Sara and The Wolf

Summary:
Sara meets Dan while searching for a friend who disappeared from Seattle the year before. They develop a relationship and face a challenge.


Notes:
There are 10 chapters. The whole thing is written and I'll keep posting it... I originally wrote this for my sister. She liked it but said it wasn't as good as the original. I agree, but it sure was fun to do.


4. Chapter 4

Rating 0/5   Word Count 2394   Review this Chapter

“We’re here,” he said as they turned into the parking lot of a blocky white structure, “I’ll come help you down.”

Dan shut off the engine and moved around the front of the truck to open the door for Sara. He moved to pick her up again but having regained some mental faculty Sara wanted to save a bit of her pride. “I can make it,” she told him. Taking a couple of deep breaths she used the door handle to brace herself and climbed slowly down from the truck. Even though her feet felt like lead weights, her head still felt like a helium balloon. The strange contrast gave her a kind of giddiness and she had to take deep breaths with every step to keep from spinning into a hysterical moment.

Inside, Sara sank gratefully into one of the padded chairs and leaned her head back against the wall. Everything was spinning slowly. Conversations of nurses just a few feet away seemed to echo from far distances. She tried to listen to what Dan was telling the admitting nurse but only bits of it were really sinking in.

“Isn’t there another doctor she can see?” his voice had an edge to it, frustrated and a bit angry.

“No, he’s the only one in this morning.” The nurses tone was the same one she probably used on all the anxious patients. “Please, just have a seat and fill out these forms. Dr. Cullen will be with you shortly.”

Dan returned and sat in the chair to Sara’s right. He had a clipboard with a pen chained to it. Attached to the clipboard was a sheet of medical questions. “I’d help you but I don’t know anything beyond the first and last name.” He passed the forms to Sara and she forced herself upright and took the pen. She got through a couple of blanks filling in information with a shaky hand, but when she came to the home address she just stopped and stared at the sheet.

Her home, the one she grew up in, had been rented out for the last few years. Everything from it that had any meaning was in a storage space, rented indefinitely until she could bring herself to sort through it all. Years of memories in some concrete acme storage shed. The contract of her apartment had ended just after graduation, the same time she had gone out on the road looking for Anna. For most legal matters and her bills she handled everything online using her laptop and a wireless connection. The P.O. Box in her name was probably stacking up in mail crates somewhere at the post office near her old house. Blinking back tears of sadness and frustration she forced herself not to care as she wrote down her old address. If they sent a bill there it would be forwarded to her box. She would have to work the details out later when she could think.

Feeling a tear run down her cheek, Sara glanced at Dan as she took the ends of her sleeves in her fists and rubbed the heels of her hands across her eyes and face. Dan was distracted, staring at the door just beyond the nurses station with an intense look. He seemed to be almost growling in the back of his throat and his breathing was a bit fast. Sara could feel her own heart racing but Dan’s intensity wasn’t going to make the workings of a hospital grind any faster.

“It’s ok,” she said, placing her hand on his arm. “I’m sure they’ll have someone here in a minute.

Dan turned towards her, a strange look crossing his face. He visibly forced himself to relax and asked, “Is there anything I can get for you?”

“Not right now, thanks.” Sara gave him a weak smile and went back to the paperwork. If she focused all her attention on the form she could manage to fill it out.

She hadn’t even begun on the medical history questions when a nurse came into the room and called her name. Sara stood shakily and Dan stood with her but when he seemed about to follow them Sara said, “I’ll be ok,” and followed the nurse out of the room without him.

The nurse took her temperature, it was 102. Her blood pressure was fine. The nurse wrote everything down and asked questions about allergies and her symptoms. Sara gave her all the information trying to dredge up knowledge of her relatives and diseases common in her family. The nurse gave her a hospital gown and left the room to give her a chance to change into it.

Sara hated this part, feeling exposed, no matter how tightly a hospital gown was tied or wrapped around you it still never seemed to really make a difference. Normally she was fussy about making sure her clothes were folded into a neat pile on a chair or at the end of the examining table. It gave her something to do, something to be in control of when giving the rest of her situation over to someone she could never really be sure actually cared.

It was so hard to concentrate and Sara just wanted it all to be over with. Sara slipped off her shoes and out of her clothes. The cold tile floor encouraged her to slip quickly into the gown and then perch on the edge of the stiff vinyl covered pad. Sara put her elbows on her knees and braced her head on her hands letting the dizziness war with the pounding pain in her head.

It was only a minute before the doctor opened the door and strode into the room. Sara saw his feet first, somehow through the mental fog she registered that his shoes looked expensive. Sara pulled her head up to meet his eyes and felt a strange surge of anxiety. She was a little surprised. She had dealt with plenty of doctors over the years and mostly gotten over the fear they seemed to inspire in her. Probably something about always seeing doctors when she was in pain… He was incredible, like some statue from the Renaissance. All marble perfection down to the pale skin and the amber eyes. She didn’t recall ever having seen a person with quite that shade of brown, so light it was like yellow. Something about him made her nervous but she was already shaking and if there was something he could do about the way she felt, at this point she was willing to do whatever he said.

“Sara Finch?” he asked, looking at her chart.

“Yes.”

“I’m Doctor Cullen. What seems to be the problem?” he was already writing something down as he spoke. As he pulled up a rolling stool she caught a glimpse of the neat undoctor-like writing where he had written elevated heart rate.

Sara described her symptoms and the doctor asked her a few questions to clarify what she was feeling. Dr. Cullen listened with medical detachment and when she came to a rambling stop he stood and pushed the call light for the nurse. “Sara, you have the flu. You are dehydrated but not seriously so. We’re going to give you something for the nausea, get you a bit more comfortable and put some fluids back into you with an IV. We’ll be admitting you and keeping you under observation for an hour or so but you should be able to leave in a couple of hours. Drink plenty of fluids, water mostly, and rest for a couple of days. Preferably just stay in bed.” He walked to the door but stopped and turned back. “The young man you came in with, Dan, do you know him very well?”

“No, we met yesterday.”

“Hm.” He seemed about to say something more but then changed his mind as the nurse came into the room and with a nod he strode out taking his strange intimidating presence with him.

The nurse handed Sara a light robe made of the same material as the gown. She snapped a hospital bracelet around her arm and then took her out in the hall where a wheelchair was waiting. Sara sank into it silently for the short ride down a hallway and up a floor in the elevator to a small hospital room with a bed. Sara climbed into the hospital bed and pulled all the blankets up around her shoulders leaving only her arm exposed for the nurse to get the IV started. After a few minutes of watching the clear fluid drip into her arm Sara began to feel the pain subsiding in her head and the world got even more vague and detached than it had been. Feeling lightheaded like she might suddenly come unstuck and float right up off of the bed, Sara closed her eyes and clung to a fistful of sheets until drowsiness overcame all the other sensations and she dozed off.

Sara woke to see the clock had advanced a few hours and it was early afternoon. She still felt crummy but nothing like she had that morning. Even the misery of just a few hours before was quickly becoming a dream-like memory. Stranger than the memory of the morning was the reality of the present; there, sitting in a chair by the side of the bed was Dan.

Dan had a look of concern on his face. “Are you doing ok?” He asked. “Do you want me to get the nurse?”

“No, no, I’m ok, I’m feeling a lot better, thanks.”

“Dr. Cullen,” somehow the name came out with an edge to it, “he was…?”

Sara answered the question before Dan had finished it, “He was ok, he’s kind of… I don’t know, intimidating, I guess, but really, I think whatever he gave me is helping.”

Dan was still looking at her intensely but seemed to relax a bit. Sara felt bad for him, he was trying so hard to make sure she was ok and she had planned to completely blow him off this morning. He really was a nice guy. Intense, but nice.

“I’m really sorry about this morning. I hope I wasn’t too out of it… I hope I haven’t ruined your day. Thank you for driving me here and everything but if you have something you need to be doing and I’m keeping you from it, I can get a cab back to the motel. I don’t want to give you the flu after you’ve been so nice to me.”

“Don’t worry about me and don’t worry about getting back to the motel. You need to be somewhere where you won't have to take care of yourself. If you haven't got anyone in the area I can take you to stay with I'd really like to invite you to stay with my family.”

Sara protested, “Dan, I can’t do that, I’ve imposed on you enough already, you don’t have to do the whole good Samaritan bit, you’ve been really great but I’ll be fine.”

He cut her off, “Sara, if I had left you alone in that motel room sick and dehydrated like that, who knows what would have happened. I’m not going to leave you alone like this. Besides, I’ve got the bag with your clothes in it,” he paused and gave her a confident smile, “you’ll have to agree to come with me to get them back.”

Sara could see the plastic bag with the hospital logo on it tucked under his chair. She knew she wasn’t up to arguing with him about it and even healthy and with all her faculties she couldn’t win if she tried to wrestle him for it. Calling the nurse and tattling on him seemed small and ungrateful after all he had done for her. Besides, if he had wanted to take advantage of her she figured he was up to three or maybe four opportunities he had passed up.

“All right,” she said in a resigned voice, “but with one condition.”

“Name it.”

“I’m paying you the same rate as whatever this place charges for taking care of me.” Sara had seen the condition of Dan’s truck and his clothes seemed to consist so far of worn t-shirts and shorts. She figured he could use the money and besides, it would take care of the awkwardness of feeling like she owed something to him that didn’t have a price tag attached and might not be something she wanted to pay.

Dan shook his head smiling wryly but stuck out his hand saying, “If that’s how you want it, then we’re agreed.”

“It is.” Sara was surprised once again by how warm Dan’s hand was as they shook on the deal.

“I’ll go tell the nurse you’re ready to check out.” Dan handed her the bag of clothes and left the room closing the door behind him.

Still feeling shaky, but much improved, Sara swung her legs off the bed and pulled her clothes out of the bag. She waited for the nurse to come and remove the IV then dressed quickly leaving the hospital gown in a rumpled pile on the end of the bed. She wished briefly for a comb but figured she probably looked bad enough that a bit of detangling really wouldn’t make a dent in her overall appearance. The nurse had said she could walk out without a wheelchair if she wanted to, so Sara gingerly made her way out of the room. Dan was leaning against the wall just outside the door. He slipped his arm around her as he had the evening before, this time more for support than for warmth. Sara appreciated the steadying touch and let him guide her back to his truck.

After sitting parked in the daylight for a few hours the truck was pleasantly warm and Sara let herself nod off as Dan drove. She continued to slip in and out of wakefulness as they stopped briefly at the motel while Dan went in to retrieve her things and return the room key. Then she slept the rest of the short trip to Dan’s home, waking only when he opened the door to help her out of the truck and into the house.