Dr. Carlisle Cullen knew that his looks were distracting. He had hundreds of years of practice trying to get people overcome the chiseled perfection of his golden good looks, and really listen to him. Sadly, some never got past his eyes the color of butterscotch glistening in the sunshine, to hear his words.
Working in New York City was a bit easier then some parts of the United States. The human population was so diverse, they almost seemed supernatural themselves.
A true New Yorker did not get easily flustered. Their hardened, emotionless expression was their facial screen saver. Carlisle often thought he could walk out, skin sparkling in the sunshine, and not get a second look from the busy inhabitants of Manhattan. There was very little they had not already seen.
He grabbed his charts from Nala. She one of the most efficient nurses he had ever had the pleasure of dealing with. Since he had been practicing medicine since 1902, this was a considerable mental compliment.
His effort to walk with human mannerisms was second nature now. As was fidgeting, sitting and running his fingers threw his always-perfect hair.
He closed the door to his office with a gentle care, and then locked it. He could not hear the minds of anyone that passed by, like his vampire child, Edward. Nor could he see into the future, like the sweet Alice. Her adoption of the Cullens as a family had brought so much musical light to their world. Not to mention, the added benefit of knowing ahead of time what every choice each vampire in the family made would result in.
With the door locked, Carlisle was free to let his vampire nature allow him to be the most prolific doctor in existence. Of course, he had to publish papers and findings under aliases, or convince other doctors or researchers that his brilliant ideas were really their own. In his years as a vampire, he has lost the need to gain human recognition for his efforts. There was no need to see his name in lights for he was already immortal.
In the privacy of his hospital office, with no prying eyes, Carlisle was able to begin his routine. He put classical music on. One hand and an eye were reading a vintage account of a mysterious disease from the 1800's. The other hand and an eye were writing notes and making comparisons to a case in Idaho that another doctor and requested his opinion on. The antiquated book was from his personal library at home. It had been passed to him by the author himself. As Carlisle etched his notes in a tablet, the handwriting was a picture perfect Ariel font, with important words bolded, as if fresh from the printer. If the two cases he was comparing were as similar as they seemed, Carlisle thought there might be a need to alert the CDC to a possible infectious outbreak of viral bacteria the human population had thought was long defeated. His beautiful, meticulous brain was filtering out the different options and courses of treatment.
He felt like he was on the verge of a discovery, when the psychologist in the next office arrived to his place of work with a bang and a bump. The man was so incredibly loud it was phenomenal. The bodily function noises alone were almost at a level that would require a full medical work up. Phlegm clearing, flatulence, neck creaking, and knuckle cracking all made themselves audible visitors in Carlisle's office.
Even with hundreds of years of practicing patience, this man next door was going to drive him insane. Super vampire hearing was almost always a benefit. Not with Dr. Henry Stoole, he could make Jesus Christ lose his temper. Maybe it was because he was a constant drinker, Carlisle could hear the metal flask unscrewing in the office next door with a cringing squeak. Maybe, it was because Henry was the worst psychologist in the world, often accusing his patients of lying and always trying to medicate any concern they had. Between his hyper billing of insurances and the heavy kickbacks he got from brand name prescription drugs, there was precious little that could qualify as a redeeming quality for Henry.
He had been next door to Carlisle for a year now. Usually, the hospital director kept the office space next to Carlisle empty. It was an odd request that was well worth the benefit of having Dr. Cullen on staff. The renovations in the hospital had necessitated the crowding.
Carlisle took the interruption as time to reflect on his family. He gazed at their pictures on his desk. The hiking photo had them all paired up, Carlisle and Esme, Alice and Jasper, Rosalie and Emmett. Edward was standing in the back, smiling, by himself. Carlisle liked the picture because of the light in Edward's eyes. Emmett had dared Edward to take the picture without using the timer. Of course, Edward propped the camera in a tree, pressed the shutter button, and was in the photo before the flash. Edward had the thrill of a bet won in his eyes, and it almost masked the haunted loneliness that lurked in his golden eyes.
Despite the rustic photo, which was a prop for the humans, the Cullens were enjoying city life. Even though New York had its share of sunny days, the nightlife was so extensive, a group of people that preferred the night raised no suspicions. Edward could be piano player in a bar, Alice and Jasper could attend the Fashion Institute together (much to Jasper's protests) and Rosalie worked at a local car repair shop. Emmett was refusing to find a job to blend in, though he seemed happy.
Esme was loving working in an antique shop in Soho. It was almost perfect. Almost. If only Henry would just get reassigned to a different office.
Carlisle had the necessary steps in motion to get Henry in a new line of work all together. Carlisle's conscious would not allow him to be privy to the knowledge of all that went on next door without feeling somewhat responsible to the patient's stories he could not help but overhear. In the time Henry had been there, unlucky souls were forced to lay on the awful couch Henry still used more as tool to make him feel more superior than anything else. Many patients had recommendations for other doctors in their hand before they left the sliding doors of the hospital exit.
There was a tentative knock on Henry's door, his 3:00 appointment.
Carlisle settled in to overhear the conversation. He needed to be able to steer the new patient in the correct direction when offering a referral.
"Come in!" Henry was twisting on the cap back onto his flask and shutting the third drawer down in his desk.
The doorknob turned. Henry straightened up in his chair. Carlsie could tell from his fidgeting that the patient was female, and most likely good looking.
"Well, hello young lady. Please come in and lie down on the couch," Henry had deliberately begun talking in a deeper voice.
Good job Henry, she'll just fall all over herself for you now, Carlisle mentally shook his head, but physically, he was as still as a statue holding pen to paper.
The new patient was timid. She murmured her greeting, but Carlisle could tell from the sound of her footsteps that she had decided to sit in the chair, not lay down. Score one for the new girl, she didn't fall for Henry's power play.
Carlisle could hear the whispered, "tisk" seeping from Henry's incompetent lips. Henry liked the upper hand. The patient was sitting in his chair, forcing Henry to sit on the couch.
"Well, Miss Duncan, I have reviewed the file your previous doctor has sent over to me, a Dr….", Henry paused here to ruffle some papers to find his answer.
"Dr. Lavender." Miss Duncan filled in helpfully for Henry.
"Says here you hear voices in your head, and you refuse any medication to quiet these voices?" Henry couldn't wring the sarcasm out of his questioning voice.
Carlisle continued writing, while carefully listening to the goings-on next door.
"Um. I think there might have been a mix up, I have a sort of special situation that requires me to meet with my doctor about once a week," Miss Duncan seemed ready to run, her words perched tentatively like a butterfly on a flower's pedal.
"Sasha, may I call you Sasha?", Henry continued without her assent, "I understand that your previous doctor may have claimed to 'believe' you," Carlisle could hear the air move around Henry's stubby fingers as he made the universal sign for quote around the word believe.
"But I do not agree with feeding into my patients delusions. I will be straight with you from the get go. Voices in your head need to be treated with medication. I have seen good results with Mycocken." Carlisle could not believe the audacity of Henry. The suppliers of Mycocken had dropped off a boatload of samples earlier that morning. The drug rep had promised the first doctor to prescribe it to 20 patients free tickets to a Broadway show.
"Mycocken"? Who names these drugs anyway?" Sasha said, more to herself then to Henry, "Thank you for your time, Dr. Stoole. but I must be leaving."
Poor Sasha had no idea how long Henry could make the walk from his couch to his office door.
"Wait, Sasha , please! I'm sorry. Why don't you sit back down? Let us not be too hasty, I really feel I need some background from you. Words on paper can be so misleading." Carlisle googled Dr. Lavender with his free hand. A quick glance at the results on the screen determined two possible Dr. Lavender's in New York State. One was a psychologist.
More quick, vampire hand gestures brought up additional information. Dr. Valerie Lavender was highly respected, but on extended maternity leave at the moment.
The tension in the next room grew. Carlisle heard Sasha take in an exasperated breath. Apparently, Henry had changed his demeanor enough to have Sasha sit back down.
"Ok. Where should I start?" explaining her voices didn't seem to come easy to her.
She answered her own question, "I have always had the spirits come to me, as long as I can remember. Even though they were part of my every recollection, I never felt at ease around them. I stuck close to my mother or sister, which they allowed. It was like I had no defenses, so many spirits came. By the time I reached school age, I was fearful of being without my parents and my sister, who was two grades ahead of me. I begin to try and tune them out. I got better at locking them out as I tried to let my teachers voices seep in," she shifted her feet and smoothed what sounded to be a skirt over her legs.
"Continue.." Carlisle could picture Henry rolling his hand forward at the wrist.
"Well, I eventually began to talk to the spirits, it seemed to take less energy then blocking them out. I'd always thought they were talking at me. Even if they asked for help, I didn't know what good I could do for them. So, I just struck up a conversation with an older gentleman's spirit that had been following me around. I was sitting on the top of the monkey bars, in what had to be about 3rd grade, and I just said, 'Hi!' He gave me a nod and seemed to want to talk about my day. I told him about my school play and he asked sweet questions, just like a grandfather," Carlisle could hear the scratching of Henry's pen on a tablet of paper.
"Why was the gentlemen so significant?" Henry sounded so coherent, very unlike him.
"He told me that, basically, spirits want someone to hear them. I didn't necessarily have to do anything other then listen. Sometimes, a spirit needs to be reminded to move on," Sasha took a large yoga inspired breath. Trusting anyone with this tale seemed to take a lot out of her.
"Move on?" repeating a patient words in a question, Henry was really trying, which worried Carlisle.
"Mostly, just guide them to the next level in their journey. I think that gentleman's spirit had been here a few times. I was very grateful for his help, " Carlisle heard her eye lashes press together. She was squinting. Carlisle guessed she was trying to see the impact her words had on the psychologist.
"Well, there is only one thing to do Sasha. Talk to a ghost of mine," he set his paper and pen down in a rustling movement.
"It's not how it works, I can't call them like dogs. Sometimes people have a spirit lingering around them, sometimes they don't," Sasha stood up once more. The shuffling of his feet indicated Henry was blocking her from the door with his body.
"No one comes forward for you, I am sorry," Sasha said it gently.
Henry's dry skin made a gentle crackle as he smirked," Isn't that convenient?"
"I need to leave," she was being quite emphatic. Carlisle was out the door of his office so quickly he had to remind himself to slow down. He was not going to allow Henry to make this girl any more uncomfortable then she already was.
"Get out of my way!" The distinct noise of a struggle sounded from behind the flimsy, fake wood door. Carlisle could hear Henry squeezing the tops of Sasha's arm in an effort to keep her in the room. Carlisle opened the door to Henry's office.
"Hello, Henry, is there a problem here?" the words were friendly and Carlisle's face was an artfully composed mask of calm, but the energy that radiated from him was pure anger. Like birds roused from the shelter of brush, both humans in the room sensed danger. Carlisle had seen the reaction before. A human's reptilian brain reacted before their reasoning kicked in. It is always best not to sneak up on them.
Sasha stepped back from Henry. Carlisle expected to see her face indignant, angry or even scared having been held by this stranger against her will but, instead he saw resignation there. This wasn't the first time someone had lost his or her composure with Sasha.
Carlisle stepped inside and shut the door behind him, glancing at the notes Henry had left on the coffee table.
-Possible T.V. show like John Edward?
Carlisle almost chuckled at the audacity. This man was here thinking of marketing a patient. He was Dr. Phil meets Jerry Springer. Carlisle mentally kicked Emmett for watching that junk, he did not want to be able to make those analogies. Henry did not care how much clinical help she needed.
Henry hardly looked in Carlisle's direction. His attention and red face was riveted on the woman he had been holding, "You see, Miss Duncan, if you really could see ghosts, you would see my son. I was in a car accident when he was six. He was in the backseat. His last words were 'Daddy, no.' So he would be here. He would be here." Every word snapped like a sheet drying in the wind. Henry's hand gestures had gotten dramatic and angry.
"No, sir. I would not see your son," she spoke gently despite Henry's obvious rage. "I rarely see a child's spirit. They are pure innocence and when their life ends, their spirits have a tremendous job. The beautiful, positive energy that leaves their body immediately goes to the hearts of those who loved them. He is the glue that holds your heart together; he does not need to move on. He is right where he belongs. To get comfort from him all you need to do is concentrate on his love," Sasha waited to see how Henry would take the message.
Carlisle's thought her speech was quite beautiful. She spoke with conviction and softness. Dealing in death and spirits seemed to come easily enough to her, if she was to be believed.
Henry left the room with out so much as a nod in Sasha's direction.
Carlisle stepped off to the side, leaving the door ajar. He wanted Sasha to know she was free to leave.
"Hello, I overheard the disagreement and wanted to make sure everything was ok. My name is Dr. Cullen," he spoke in the most clinically formal voice.
"Sasha Duncan," she responded to Carlisle's greeting, but her eyes followed Henry out the door, eyebrows knitted in concern.
Carlisle was thinking of how to work in a recommendation for another doctor, while still seeming professional, when he watched Sasha's eyes slide to his left and focus there.
"Hi," she was clearly not addressing him anymore.
"Father? I can't see how that is possible," she was arguing to a space next to him as if it was a person.
Carlisle was starting to wonder if Henry wasn't better at his job then originally thought. The girl seemed to be cracking up.
"I will give him the message," Sasha whispered this last part like a prayer or a secret.
Carlisle assessed her as he would any patient. Her murky green eyes were equal and properly dilated. He could hear her heartbeat, and that was a nice rhythmic, healthy sound. He sniffed the air, his acute vampire sense of smell can actually detect certain maladies, such as high cholesterol or cancer. She smelled fine. Her hair was long, dark blonde and very shiny. Looking at hair during patient assessment was a holdover from the time when he actually was a human. You could tell a surprising amount from hair condition. Judging from her body, the yoga breath came from regular practice that made her long and lean.
She put those murky green eyes on his. The reluctance in her body language was unmistakable.
"Dr. Cullen, I have a message for you from a very antique spirit claiming to be your father," she said simply, and then bit her lower lip.
It takes a lot to shock a 440-year-old vampire, but Sasha had certainly succeeded in shocking him.