Author: starfish422 PM
Slash: Carlisle and Edward have been eternity partners since Carlisle changed Edward in 1918. Is their capacity to love as limitless as the length of their days? Vamp AU, Polyamory. Carlisle/Edward/Jasper. LEFT INCOMPLETE. See author's notes.Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Hurt/Comfort - Carlisle & Edward - Chapters: 3 - Words: 16,953 - Reviews: 206 - Favs: 208 - Follows: 186 - Updated: 04-18-10 - Published: 04-17-09 - id: 5000930
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Heyyyy. :) We haven't seen each other in a while. *sheepish wave* I had no idea an update was around the corner for this story, but it just sort of happened. Literally, yesterday morning, I woke up and the entire chapter was in my head. I hadn't even really been thinking about it, so I'm not sure how or why it happened; nevertheless, here it is. :) Hope you enjoy!
Edward, 1933 – 1935
"No," said Carlisle. "Absolutely not."
Even without the finality of his words, the grave expression on his face and the absolute set of his mind gave no hope of ambiguity. There was simply no way I would convince him to consider my position.
Yet I continued to lobby him. "Carlisle," I said in my calmest voice, "I don't believe you've examined this from all angles. You're committed to the sanctity of human life; and yet there are humans out there who prey upon other humans. You have me to read their thoughts, to know unquestionably who means to hurt or destroy innocent lives. If we were to feed only upon those people, the ones who intend to harm, we would be doing a service to humanity. It would be mutually beneficial."
"That's a thin rationalization, Edward," he said, his face a mix of disgust and – most painful to me – disappointment. "You talk of placing yourself in the role of judge – no, in the role of censor, because a judge only rules once a crime has been committed. It is not up to us to mete out punishment."
Mentally, I isolated that part of me that felt guilty for disappointing him, banishing it to the back of my brain before refocusing on my argument. "Carlisle, I have this gift--"
"Edward, no!" He finally lost his temper. "You will not convince me that it's for the greater good. I refuse to allow you to use your gift to carry out a sick, self-serving culling of humanity."
I bristled, but kept my outward reaction limited to a narrowing of my eyes. "You refuse to allow me?" He didn't answer, only returning my gaze unflinchingly. "I believed you and I had been partners these thirteen and a half years, Carlisle; equals, despite your length of years. Is that not what you told me?"
"Your memory is perfect, as is mine," he replied evenly.
"And yet you infer that your word is final; that if you make a decision, I must abide by it – much like a father would with an errant child."
"Forgive me, beautiful one," he said, "but you are acting like a child."
"Indeed?" I replied, just barely controlling the anger that was flaring up hot inside me. "Well, you are not my father, Carlisle. You may not make a unilateral decision in this partnership."
"Fine," he agreed, his demeanor suddenly suggesting weariness, despite our inability to experience fatigue. "I can't make a decision for you, Edward, but I will make a decision for myself. I will not feed on human blood, and I cannot live a vampire who does." He looked down at his hands where they rested on the dining room table; this was where we sat when we needed to have a discussion about something that affected our life together. "I lived with the Volturi for several decades, as you well know, and I witnessed what consumption of human blood does to a coven. Outside the bonds of mates, there is distrust, lack of true affection. Affection that does exist is easily swayed, when one vampire wishes to manipulate another for their own ends."
I struggled to remain focused on my argument, despite his implication that this choice would be the end of our relationship. "But, the bonds of mates remain intact, yes?"
"Yes..." Hesitantly he allowed this.
I continued, "What if one mate consumes human blood and the other abstains?" He looked at me, horrified at what I was implying. Hastily I added, "In theory."
He looked at me for long moments, his face becoming sadder as he did. I saw his thoughts as he considered the implications of my suggestion. He remembered me first as the teenager with green eyes and wire spectacles, feverish and unconscious in a hospital in Chicago. He saw my bright red eyes the moment I first opened them after my change, and I felt his internal flinch at realizing that, if I proceeded with what I was suggesting, my eyes would become red again. They would, however, no longer be the brilliant scarlet of a newborn, the eyes that gradually changed to a dull, muddy red, to orange-brown, to a rich amber; my eyes would stay the feral burgundy of a mature vampire who takes his strength at the cost of human life.
Finally, with resignation in his voice, he answered. "I know of no vampire mates who have been in that situation. However, I know what I can live with. I can't have a partner who does not live as I do, Edward."
There it was. The implied was now implicit. He refused to deviate from his 'perfect record', as he had once referred to it; and I saw no reason to deny ourselves what our bodies were made to consume, when I'd found what was, to me, a perfectly acceptable loophole in his reasoning. We were at an impasse.
"Carlisle, you and I...we are mated. That's not for life – that's for eternity." My voice took on a pleading tone. "I love you."
"I love you too." His face was pained. "I wish you wouldn't force the issue."
"I'm forcing it because you absolutely refuse to consider it! You would sacrifice our relationship over me choosing a different food source..."
"That is an oversimplification of the issue," he replied sadly. "I would never quarrel with you over a different food source, if it did not mean the sacrifice of humanity."
Those were the last words we spoke on the issue, because I knew Carlisle would not change his mind. However, I was determined to illustrate to him that he could not lay down the law for me. Three days later, when he was at an overnight shift at the hospital in Rochester, I went into town. I lurked in a dark alley in a seedy area of town, listening to the thoughts of those around me. When I heard the particularly vile thoughts of a seemingly-privileged young man, I crept closer to the mouth of the alley. Around the corner on the street was a bar; the man sat inside, drinking with his friends. He told them about the woman he was to marry in a few weeks' time, describing her in terms I found repugnant. I saw her in his thoughts; she was beautiful, but he viewed her as a vapid social climber, someone who was only interested in his money. He had neither love nor respect for her. His thoughts toward her became more violent as he continued to drink, and when the group of men stumbled out of the bar with the intention of intercepting the young woman's walk home, I prepared to take action.
I was considering how best to follow the men – by rooftops? Simply hide in bushes and dart from one to the next as needed? – when the trouble of deciding was taken from me. The man himself stumbled into the alley, the foremost thought in his mind one of relieving the pressure in his bladder. I blended seamlessly into the dark shadows a few feet away, remaining completely still as he opened his pants and began to relieve himself against the side of the building. Classy, I thought to myself with a grimace, but forced myself to concentrate on why I was here. I waited until he had emptied his bladder and turned back toward the street before leaping silently behind him. In an instant I snapped his neck; a millisecond later my teeth slid easily into his jugular. My body was flooded with physical pleasure as the elixir of his blood touched the back of my throat. I drained him quickly, and then, gathering his body to dispose of it, leapt up to the roof of the building, four floors up. A few seconds after I landed on the roof, one his friends hollered down the alley from the street, making a crude insinuation that he was taking advantage of his open pants to masturbate. I fled before they could begin to wonder why the man didn't reply.
I returned to the house I shared with Carlisle, several miles outside the corporation limits of Rochester. I looked in the mirror at myself and saw that, already, pinpoints of red were starting to bloom in the irises of my eyes. By the time Carlisle was due to return from his shift, my irises were 37.3% red and 62.7% amber. My body felt the strongest it had since I'd aged out of the newborn stage, and for the first time since my change, the perpetual thirst at the back of my throat was sated.
When Carlisle came through the door of our little house and saw me sitting in the living room, awaiting his return, he knew immediately. Even in the pale light of the weak morning sun, with his perfect eyes he saw the slight flush of my cheeks, the significant reduction of the shadows under my eyes; and of course, my eyes themselves. He looked away; in his thoughts I felt his horror at the life that had been lost tonight. I also heard his despair in anticipation of the conversation we must have, now that I had forced his hand.
"You've made your decision, then," he said sadly.
"Would you like to hear about the woman I protected tonight, Carlisle?" I offered, hoping he would at least give me an ear.
He did not. Shaking his head, he said in a dull, resigned voice, "I told you what I can live with, Edward, and I will act accordingly."
"You know I love you," I told him, my heart feeling like it would break. "It is a tragedy that our relationship must end because of this. It doesn't have to be the end..."
"If you plan to continue in this lifestyle, it is the end for us," he corrected, his thoughts adding, Even if it does pull my heart in two.
In a flash I was out of my chair and kneeling in front of him, wrapping my arms around him, pressing my cheek against his thigh. "Carlisle," I begged. "Please reconsider...I will never ask you to partake...please, allow me this. Do not ask me to leave."
He loosened my arms from around his legs and pulled me to stand, placing my arms around his neck instead. "Edward...my beautiful one," he said, his voice breaking. "I am quite prepared to beg you to stay; to beg you not to continue in this lifestyle. A slip like tonight can happen to anyone...you will start afresh..." His words were cut off as he kissed me, hard and repeatedly, on the mouth.
For several moments I responded to his kisses; but finally I gently eased him away from me. I looked into his eyes, sadly shaking my head. "It wasn't a slip," I whispered.
He understood the full meaning of my words. I planned to repeat the events of the last night, and the impasse was in place.
I backed slowly away from him, watching him with my own eyes and watching myself through his. Were it possible for a vampire to shed tears, we would both have been soaked; instead we shook with dry sobs. Our hands stretched toward each other long after I had stepped beyond his reach. Finally, unable to stand it any longer, I turned and fled – fled from my grieving partner, fled his thoughts and his broken heart...and from the life we had shared for thirteen years.
General wisdom is that when nursing a broken heart, time heals wounds; that the parties suffer most immediately after the demise of a relationship, and that as time passes, the pain will dull and fade until one is able to move on.
General wisdom is seldom applicable to the lives of immortals.
I left Carlisle in the month of April, 1933. The first year after I left Carlisle was actually easiest for me. I travelled first to New York City, opining that a large pond would contain the most scum, and afford me anonymity. During the day I would station myself on top of a building where I couldn't be seen. Then I'd listen - listen to conversations, listen to thoughts. I listened to the thoughts of adults, as well as those of children. I identified where a human predator lived, and then at night, while most of the city slept, I would eliminate the problem. Most often, I would snap the human's neck first; escape with the body to the roof of the building where I would drink; and then, having previously found a suitable burial site, dispose of it.
My work didn't completely occupy my thoughts, not by a long shot. Carlisle's memory was a constant; when I was hunting, it was easier to push it back somewhat. After my thirst was sated, though, he was impossible to ignore. I never pictured him speaking to me; only saw the soft waves of blonde hair and those beautiful amber eyes, holding so much sadness and disappointment in my life now. I still loved him tremendously – still thought of him as my mate. I didn't believe there would ever be anyone else for me but Carlisle, nor did I want anyone but him.
Despite that, the first year was the easiest, by a long shot. I was enjoying the physical strength human blood gave me. I had autonomy for the first time in my existence – I'd been too young to have any as a human, and had been essentially mated from the moment my transformation began. I would be lying to say that I didn't revel in my abandon to some small extent.
Still, one factor I'd failed to consider was that, once I began to drink from humans, it would become much more difficult to move among them as I did when I suppressed that side of my nature. For one thing, my now-burgundy eyes would immediately signal to them that I was unlike anyone else. More than that, though, being in the presence of a human now was exquisitely painful for me – every flutter of pulse within their neck, every whoosh of blood that was pumped through their hearts, was a torture. Since I didn't need to be among them for any reason other than to hunt, most of the time I chose to remain hidden.
Nevertheless, I had come to enjoy having access to certain amenities in my life – literature and music, to name a few. Hero and Leander, the story Carlisle read to me the night we first made love, had become a favorite, along with others. It didn't matter to me that my perfect recall meant I didn't need to hold the books in my hand; it didn't matter that I didn't have an apartment or house in which to keep them. I wanted to have the books. One rainy September day, five months after I'd left, I decided to venture down from my daytime hiding place, on the roof of an apartment building in Hell's Kitchen, and find a book store to indulge my desire for these literary works.
I had some money on me – taken from the wallet of the wife-beating son of a bitch I'd eliminated the night before – and a pair of sun cheaters I'd pocketed in a different apartment a few weeks ago, and so I headed several blocks east to Midtown, to a bookstore I'd seen in the thoughts of some of the residents. Walking on the street wasn't bad. I ignored the curious looks from people I passed, though their thoughts were harder to ignore. Is he a film star? was the thought of a young woman I passed. A grouchy older man thought to himself, Where does he think he is, on the beach? Though the scent of the humans was intensified by the rain, the fresh air helped.
When I stepped into the store, though, I was immediately buffeted by the concentrated scents of many humans – not just the ones in the store at that moment, but the ones who'd been there at any time in the last several days. The clerk looked up to greet me, but the smile died on his lips when he saw me. Though his thoughts couldn't identify for him what was wrong, he had an overwhelming feeling of danger. As well you should, I thought to myself.
Outwardly, I said a pleasant hello, then turned immediately away from him, moving around the store. I held my breath while I was in the store; it was made easier by the fact that no one spoke to me. I found four books I wanted and took them to the register. The clerk thought I was terribly rude for not taking off my sun cheaters indoors, but his unease in my presence made him keep his thoughts to himself. I used the last of my stored air to thank him and wish him a pleasant day, and then turned to leave.
I opened the door, stepping back to hold it for a young women who entered. She thanked me, smiling pleasantly and making a comment about being glad to get out of the rain. She was in her early twenties, perhaps; and had long brown hair. As she passed me, she tossed her damp hair over her shoulder. It was terribly unfortunate that, half a second before, begun to inhale. The woman's sweet scent flooded me, permeating my nostrils and scorching the back of my throat. I choked, my hand flying to my throat. The noise was enough to make both the clerk and the young woman turn to look at me, and the woman's scent was forced toward me again.
"Are you all ri-" the woman began to say. It was all I heard as I summoned every atom of self-control I possessed, to remove myself from that bookstore. I'd never experienced such powerful bloodlust, not even as a blood-obsessed newborn. It was nothing short of miraculous that the young woman, and anyone who could conceivably have been considered a witness, survived that day.
The incident made me realize that I could no longer trust myself to be among humans during the daytime. It was one thing to sneak into a house or apartment at night, knowing exactly where my object slept and allowing myself only to focus on that target; it was quite another to assault my senses with the delicious, nearly-irresistible scents of innocent humans. I had not strayed from my original objective – to feed on human blood only from those who would harm others. I was, I believed, still committed to protecting innocent humans. Nevertheless, it was with regret that I admitted to myself that I had given up another shred of my humanity that day.
The passing of the next two years saw me become less and less like a human, and more like a creeping, sneaking animal, thinking only of two things – blood, and Carlisle. I stopped reading the books I loved. When I wasn't hunting, I lay motionless on the rooftop I'd come to think of as mine, and I thought about my mate. Three times during those months, I ran back to Rochester – not with the intention of returning to Carlisle, but to reassure myself that he was still there. We had moved there only six months before I left; we usually had four or five years before people started to question that Carlisle didn't age, so I didn't think it had yet become a necessity for him to move on. I would go into the city and position myself where I could see him coming and going from the hospital.
Unfortunately, in order to see him among the buildings of the city, I also had to be close enough to hear his mind. Normally as he came and went from the hospital he was thinking of his work or a patient he'd spoken to that day; no matter what his musings, though, there was always a sadness coloring them. The third time I went back, his thoughts were utterly bereft; I could see in his mind a patient who reminded him of me. His torture was acute; his mind repeated my name over and over. Like a coward, I ran, fleeing Rochester and returning to New York, to the relative comfort of anonymous thoughts. I decided then that I could no longer return to watch Carlisle from a distance; seeing him was like a splash of acid on an already-open wound.
My life was reduced to a never-ending cycle of waiting and hunting; I moved as a wraith in the night and then returned to my cocoon to await my next hunt. The life I'd once had – full of love, music, literature, and my Carlisle – existed only in my memory now. The long hours I spent motionless, I retreated into my memory – there, I sat at my piano, letting the music flow through my fingertips as they caressed the keys. Carlisle stood behind me, his hands resting on my shoulders or stroking my hair. We would sit in front of the fireplace and read; or we would make love – on the floor, on the couch, in our bed, in the woods, on the roof...Sometimes my memories became too real and I forced myself back to the present. This is the life you have now, I silently would remind myself.
For I never spoke out loud anymore. I did not speak to my victims – they were usually asleep anyway – and who else was there? It had been many months since I'd used my voice – the last time being the day in the bookstore.
The last time I drank from a human was in October, 1935. It had been 179 days since the last time I'd seen Carlisle. 353 days since I'd picked up one of my books. 726 days since I'd spoken aloud. 914 days since I'd walked away from my love and my life. The next day, everything changed.
Even without perfect recall, I would not forget the events of that night for anything. I had identified a man in Chelsea, just south of Hell's Kitchen, who would be my next victim. He had a wife and two daughters; his daughters were nine and six. I had picked up the thoughts of Nancy, the older girl, that afternoon as she passed my building on her way home from school. She felt ashamed and horrified, remembering the previous night when her father had touched her in a way that terrified her. I risked daylight to sneak from one rooftop to the next, so I could stay within range of her thoughts. I refused to lose her; refused to allow that pig to touch her again. Several blocks away, she turned into an apartment building. I reached the roof of that building, and there I stayed, waiting for night to come so I could remove the offender from the gene pool.
Shortly after midnight, when everyone in the apartment was asleep, I crept down the fire escape, entering their apartment through the living room window. I already knew the layout of their apartment from having watched the thoughts of the family all evening – the thoughts of the man repulsed me, and I spent as little time in his mind as possible – so I silently moved towards the bedroom in the back where the man and his wife slept. The light in the bathroom had been left on, and I had a brief, hazy memory of my own childhood, when I begged my parents to leave the gaslight on low, as it terrified me to be in complete darkness.
In a matter of seconds, I'd snapped his neck and scooped up his body from the bed; but as I stepped into the hall, I came face-to-face with none other than little Nancy herself. For several seconds time stood still as we faced each other: me, carrying the lifeless body of her father; her, stunned into silence as she tried to comprehend what she saw before her. In those seconds, I saw myself through her eyes – wild, dirty, my eyes deep burgundy and terrifying even in the dim light that shone down the hall from the bathroom – and I was repulsed at my own appearance. Then Nancy shrieked, a scream of pure terror. I dropped her father's body there in the hall – my thirst having evaporated in an instant – and fled. With vampire speed, I was up the fire escape and bounding across rooftops, covering half a block in a single leap, not pausing until I was past Yonkers. Even then, I only slowed, but did not stop heading north.
When I reached the Catskill Mountains, I felt safe to stop and hide myself deep in the forest there. I buried myself under a pile of brightly-colored fallen leaves, allowing the damp, slightly musty smell to fill my nostrils; it wasn't a particularly pleasant scent, but it helped me think about something other than the smell of human blood. As I lay, I allowed the memory of what Nancy saw, to play before my eyes. Monster! was the word that came to her terrified mind; it did not matter that I was there to do away with the thing that was hurting her. The only context she had for me was monster. When I thought of my appearance through her eyes, could I argue? I had become feral and uncivilized – worse, in fact. At least wild animals bathed; they communicated; and they mated, even the ones who didn't live in groups. I had ceased to do any of those things. My humanity was all but lost.
In short, I was a monster – the fact that I was higher on the food chain didn't change that.
I groaned before saying aloud, "What am I doing?" Hearing my voice for the first time in two years, I was shocked – it had become a deep rasp. My hand flew to my throat, throwing up a flurry of leaves as it moved. I tried again, this time croaking out Carlisle's name. Was the change because of a diet of human blood, or because of disuse? I remembered Carlisle speaking of ancient vampires he knew – Romanian by birth, they had been the ruling family for centuries before being overthrown by the Volturi. During their ruling years they had remained still for decades; unused, their bodies began to desiccate. Had I somehow ruined my voice?
I didn't know; and though I was concerned, it was nothing compared to the overwhelming drive I had to return to Carlisle. Shaking the leaves off me, I immediately began to run, heading northwest. It was about 220 miles from where I was, near a town called Liberty, to Rochester. I hadn't been back to Rochester since April; as I ran, I could not ignore the horrible possibility that he had moved on, that I wouldn't be able to find him. Once, as I ran between two of the Finger Lakes, I stopped dead in my tracks, halted by a horrible thought.
What if Carlisle didn't want me?
I had left, turning my back on our life, our love – my husband – for the supposed thrill of human blood. Only now, when I realized my attempt was a spectacular disaster, was I returning to him, hoping for his forgiveness. Why would Carlisle forgive me, when he deserved someone worth so much more? When I didn't deserve him?
I considered it for thirty harrowing seconds, before pushing it to the back of my mind. First things first – I needed to get to Rochester before daylight, because I knew I couldn't bear to have to wait out daylight hours before reaching our old house, when I'd already come so close.
The sun was just coming over the horizon when I walked up the creaky front porch steps of our little house. Carefully I peeked in the front window; if Carlisle no longer lived there, I certainly didn't wish to give a fright to the new occupants. I was unspeakably relieved to see all the things I recognized as ours – the furniture, the bookcases, my piano. One hurdle crossed, then; the next would be Carlisle.
I sat on the porch steps, and quietly said Carlisle's name aloud, my voice grating as it had in the woods; but I knew he likely was not home. He might have ignored my steps through the rustling leaves that covered the floor of the woods surrounding our home; but when he heard footsteps on the porch he would have come to look out.
An hour and fifteen minutes passed as I sat waiting; and during every second of those moments I gave thanks for silence. Naturally, to my vampire ears, the woods were anything but silent – the scampering of small creatures, mild breezes, even falling leaves were part of nature's symphony; but I could not hear a single human thought. I'd forgotten how restful it was to have quiet inside my head.
Shortly after 8:30, though, I heard in my head, the most melodious, most beautiful mental voice I'd ever heard. The scent! His scent! Edward's...Edward!! Are you here? Can you hear me? Please, God... In his thoughts I saw the forest begin to streak past him, as he sprinted towards home. He would have caught the scent of my trail around the time he left the highway to turn onto the country road on which our house was located. At vampire speed, he was now, at most, thirty seconds away. I stood to meet him, acutely aware of how dirty I was, how savage and wild I would look to him.
He, on the other hand, looked as beautiful, as refined...as Carlisle as ever, when he emerged from the trees and skidded to a halt some twenty feet from me. For several seconds, we simply looked at each other. I refused to view his thoughts, unwilling to feel his horror as he realized the monster I'd become. Instead, I drank in the sight of him; his blonde hair, his eyes, several shades darker than they'd been last time I saw him – he must be due to hunt soon – and his clothes, looking as smooth and pressed as if he'd just put them on, instead of working all night and then running home in them.
He spoke first. "Edward," he said, his voice reflecting quiet wonder. "Can this be real?"
I opened my mouth to speak, wincing slightly before the sound emerged. "Yes, Carlisle," I returned hoarsely. "It's me."
"I didn't think I'd ever see you again," he whispered. "It's been so long..."
"Too long," I admitted. "It took me too long to learn something I should already have known."
"And what did you learn?" he asked, haltingly.
"That you were right," I replied openly. "About everything. I wasn't doing humanity a favor by eliminating the bad ones. It didn't matter how many monsters I removed, there were thousands more waiting. I became a monster right along with them, and the worst part is..." Here I slumped down onto the step, resting my elbows on my knees and placing my head in my hands. "The worst part is that I gave up everything in exchange for becoming nothing. Worse than nothing. I gave up you, Carlisle – you, who was everything good and pure and perfect..." I broke down into choking sobs, just able to force out the words, "I'm so sorry," before I could no longer go on.
Immediately he was kneeling in front of me, gently prying my hands away from my face. "Don't," I sobbed. "Don't look at me...my eyes..."
"Edward," he murmured. "My beautiful one..."
"No, Carlisle," I choked. "I'm not your beautiful one anymore. I have red eyes, and I'm dirty...and my voice..."
"No," he countered, and sat beside me on the step, pulling me into his embrace. "Your soul, Edward; your soul is what has always been most beautiful to me."
I laughed bitterly. "My soul! My soul is black..."
"I don't believe that." He shook his head firmly. "You're still a very young vampire, Edward – only seventeen years since your change. Teenagers can be rebellious, I'm told; especially the intelligent ones. They have to find their way for themselves, even if their way leads them back to where they started." He placed his hand under my chin, raising my face to look into his, and he looked unflinchingly into my deep red eyes. "Have you decided to recommit to this lifestyle...our lifestyle?"
"Yes," I said unequivocally. I knew I would never again take a human life, regardless of whether Carlisle took me back.
"Well, then," he said, and without another word, he stood, pulling me up with him. He took my hand and, after unlocking the door, drew me into our house. He ran a hot bath in the tub, undressed me – throwing my clothes into the garbage, rather than into the laundry. He encouraged me to get into the water, and then lovingly, carefully, he bathed me. He washed my hair three times to get the months of city grit out of it; he gently soaped a washcloth and cleansed the filth from my skin. Simply being touched felt glorious; I'd barely felt any touch, let alone an affectionate one, since the day I'd left. The physical bath was a restorative to my soul; it wasn't quite the pristine white I'd once imagined it to be, but perhaps it was no longer tar black, either.
As he washed me, I simply sat with my eyes closed and listened to his melodious voice. He spoke continuously, perhaps simply for the enjoyment of speaking to his mate again. He talked about the young woman I'd saved, that first night I went hunting in Rochester. He might never have known who she was, if not for her connection with the man I'd killed. He was the son of an influential banker in Rochester; and the newspapers went nuts for weeks after his disappearance. I'd heard the name in people's thoughts those first weeks in New York City – Rochester not being so far from New York, this was big news – and had surmised this much for myself. "The young woman – Rosalie Hale – was devastated after he disappeared," Carlisle continued. "But then the auditors at the bank began to turn up some irregularities in young Mr. King's dealings there – it seems he was dipping into private savings accounts to fund weekends of debauchery for him and his friends." With aspersions cast on Royce's character, and with no ransom note having been sent to his family, it began to look as though he had simply fled.
"What of the girl – Rosalie?" I asked quietly.
He explained that she had been sent to stay with family in Tennessee after the press coverage became too much for her to deal with. While there, she met and promptly fell in love with a young man, whom of course her family disapproved of – he wasn't rich, he wasn't 'refined'. "Not that those criteria turned up such a great selection for her the first time around," Carlisle grumbled. Rosalie stuck to her guns, marrying him despite her parents' disapproval. "So Rosalie Hale is now Rosalie McCarty," he said with a gentle smile, "She and her husband, Emmett, have been married for a year and a half, and they live here in Rochester, not far from the hospital. He's a great big bear of a man; but he has a keen sense of humor, and a great raucous laugh. He worships Rosalie, that's for sure. And very soon – within a few weeks, in fact – Mrs. McCarty will be answering to a new name: Mother."
By the time he was done his tale, my bath water had cooled. He beckoned me to step out of the tub, where he dried me with a fluffy towel, and then led me to our room. "And so you see, Edward, not everything you've done is quite as unforgivable as you might think. I suspect if Rosalie McCarty knew what you did for her that night, she might consider herself a very fortunate woman now."
I looked down to where he still held my hands in his; I lifted one of them to my mouth and kissed his palm. "Carlisle," I whispered. "You know the forgiveness of a thousand Rosalies means nothing to me if I don't have yours. I told you, the night we first made love, that I never wished to be parted from you; and yet I separated us with my own hand. I've sinned against you, against our love, and I will regret it forever. Can you ever forgive me?"
He took my face in his hands. "My beautiful one," he murmured, "I already have."
A soft whimper of gratitude left my lips before his mouth pressed against them. Wrapped snugly in an angel's wings, the love that could never die sanctified me that day; I knew I would never stray from it again, for the rest of my existence.
I just could not resist the temptation to give Rosalie a much happier life than the one she had in canon.
A story note – "sun cheaters" are what we call sunglasses. In the early 20th century, a common American vernacular for glasses was "cheaters"; sunglasses therefore became "sun cheaters". Foster Grant introduced the first inexpensive, mass-produced sunglasses to the US in 1929.