Merry Christmas, everyone. I desperately wanted to post new chapters to my stories today, but it's been a tough month. As some of you know, my father's recently been moved to palliative care. I hope you've all had a wonderful week. I've been enjoying your holiday photos on Facebook.
I wrote this last year for the Carlisle Uncovered Contest (January 2017). It won Host/Secret Keeper's Choice. I hope you enjoy it. God bless!
Love is love is love.
Disclaimer: Twilight and its inclusive material is copyright to Stephenie Meyer. Original creation, including but not limited to plot and characters, is copyright to the respective authors of each story. No copyright infringement is intended.
Carlisle Cullen whisked the door to his small office shut and put his back against it, eliciting a groan from the beleaguered oak. He, too, groaned, and flexed his hands when he realized they were shaking.
It wasn't often that he was afraid. The last time had been … a hundred and fifty two years, one month, six days and thirteen minutes ago, when a scorned female had chased him right out of Italy with a fiery torch.
She'd really carried a torch for him, he reflected wryly. But this … this terror was on an entirely different level. Ice churned in his gut.
"You must do for him what others cannot. Save my son. He is yours now."
The woman's voice echoed in his skull like the pulse of one of his Gramophone records. "Yours," it said. "Yours!"
In the moment, it hadn't mattered. Why should it? She was but one of hundreds of mothers who'd pleaded with him to save their sons. But he was hardly a miracle worker and besides, he had always been, and would always be, alone.
God had sent him a boy. A boy!
He covered his mouth with his fist and gagged, barely making it to a wash basin before losing his last meal. He watched the blood swirl through the water and wondered if his detractors were right, if he was damned after all, not merely cursed. He steadied himself against the desk.
"Why, God? Why? I've waited centuries! It's not fair, what You're asking of me. If I …" He could hardly bear to whisper the traitorous thought. "If I let him go, will You take me Home?"
The first time Carlisle had examined him, the boy's angelic face was pinched in uneasy sleep. He reeked of illness and Carlisle hadn't paid him much heed. Over the hours, the poor thing's lungs began to ooze with the wetness of infection. Like all the rest, he wouldn't last long. A couple of days, at most. Less, if he were fortunate.
Carlisle relived the moment when the boy's mother had gripped the front of his coat with surprising strength. Her purple lips mesmerized him. "Yours."
And, then, the pitiable creature had died.
After lamenting another loss, and praying for her soul's quick ascension to Heaven, he had sighed, stretched and moved over to her boy's bedside. He could at least try to make the young man comfortable. Gently, he lifted his wrist and took his pulse. When the boy's elegant fingers laced around his wrist and stroked it, a jolt went through him and he gasped.
Carlisle's eyes locked with the greenest pair he'd ever seen. He sank to his knees on the filthy floor, the boy's hot, clammy palm touching his.
"Momma's gone to God, hasn't she?"
Carlisle placed his free hand on top of that of the boy. "Yes. I'm sorry."
His eyes, verdant as spring grass, swam with tears. "I don't want to die."
"I don't want you to. Edward."
"I know you'd save me if you could."
Carlisle didn't answer. He only knew of one way to save the boy, and that was to exile him to his own personal hades.
"It's just," tears rolled down his pallid cheeks, "I never got to do anything special. I've never even been kissed."
Without thinking, Carlisle pressed his lips to the back of the boy's hand, and nuzzled his cheek against the feverish palm. When he realized that he was considering kissing the boy on the mouth in front of God and everyone, he was mortified. Nothing made sense. He'd never been attracted to a male. As a human, he'd had love affairs with several maidens, and he'd eventually been happily married, by Jove! He waited for the lightning blade to fall.
Instead, a spark kindled as the boy's thumb traced over his lips, again and again. Warmth flooded Carlisle's body and he wanted to pick Edward up, cradle him to his heart and carry him away. He chanced a look at him.
The boy had somehow transformed into a man in the space of one caress. "What's your name?"
A smile ghosted across Edward's face. "Carlisle. Figures."
"A man such as you could never have an average name. Bob …" His eyes crinkled at the corners. "Tom …"
Carlisle huffed a laugh.
"Do you believe in love at first sight?"
His dead heart gave a terrible pang. "Yes, I do."
"Will you stay with me until I go to God?"
He brushed back Edward's hair and the boy laid his cheek in Carlisle's palm. "I will."
Edward closed his eyes and Carlisle began to pray. Gruelling seconds ticked into hours, and hours into days. The boy was stronger than Carlisle could have possibly imagined. But he was dying, and Carlisle thought he was dying, too. Every lung-wracking step that Edward took toward death made Carlisle more frantic. He only left Edward's side to fake calls of nature, during which he rushed to the privacy of his office to beg and bargain with God, who evidently didn't give a damn about any of it. And why should He? Carlisle was begging for the life of a young man whom he wanted to corrupt absolutely.
Along with his panic grew jealousy and rage. When the nurses unwound Edward from his soiled, bloody sheet to wash him, it was all Carlisle could do not to kill them both, snatch the boy up and flee.
He began to fantasize about taking the boy back to his house, sinking in his teeth and planting his cock in that warm, affectionate body. Which was extraordinarily upsetting, considering he'd never thought about doing any of those things with anyone before. Particularly a male. Which was why he was hiding in his office having a mental breakdown while the object of his new obsession was lying in the ward vomiting blood!
"I have tried to be good," Carlisle told God. "I have tried to be obedient. Tried to live according to the laws of the Holy Book. I do not want to condemn this innocent soul to hell. I will let him go. Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven."
"Carlisle?" Edward choked. "Carlisle?"
He ripped the door from its hinges and dashed across the huge ward to Edward's bedside. Edward reached for him, his eyes dark with fright. Carlisle didn't hesitate. He lifted Edward into his arms as the boy hacked up blood and turned purple before his eyes.
"Hang on, dear one." He ran like a deer from the building, careless of outing himself, and took to the dark streets. Edward's breath rattled and he fell limp.
Carlisle set Edward down, tore off his pajama shirt and listened for his heartbeat. It was faint, but there. "God forgive me! I can't!" He pulled the boy onto his lap and bit him. Venom surged out of his body, more heady than any climax. But Edward lay boneless and unresponsive.
"God, please!" Carlisle bit into Edward's other carotid, then his wrists. He massaged Edward's limbs. Each time his venom flowed out, his hips bucked against the helpless boy in his arms, and he cursed his own wretchedness. But then, Edward took a breath. He made a sound of surprise, and Carlisle was so filled with joy that he cried out his thanks to God and kissed Edward all over. The boy turned his head and tucked it under Carlisle's chin. Carlisle rocked him, unintentionally producing delicious friction. He rubbed himself against Edward's thigh, marveling at the euphoric high, and then the climax ripped through him, freezing time in a moment of perfect clarity. He was meant to save Edward.
A powerful snarl escaped him. Flooded with satisfaction, he gazed down upon his chosen companion and wondered at his odd desire to lick him. Edward really wasn't in a lickable condition.
"Okay, dear one. You're going to be well again. I'm taking you home." He rose smoothly, pulling Edward with him, and put him over his shoulders in a fireman's carry, leaving his soiled doctor coat and Edward's pajama shirt crumpled on the ground.
In a small wooded area, near the Chicago Lakefront, stood a tiny house. Carlisle carried Edward inside and opted to set him on the rug in front of the fireplace since he hadn't any bed. He debated whether to start a fire. Soon, Edward would enter the burning stage. Perhaps any more heat would be a bad idea.
Carlisle didn't have any pajamas to dress him in, either. Normally, if he were planning to lounge about at home, he'd strip down to his union suit. He decided to do that just in case things got messy. Washing clothes was not his favorite pastime, and the ones he'd worn to the hospital were rife with contagion.
He went into his kitchen, warmed water, and poured it in a large basin, then kneeled by Edward's side. "I hope you won't mind if I wash you, dear one. Your germs are contagious to humans. And besides, I can tell you from experience that it's not very pleasant to revive and find yourself dirty." He slipped Edward's pajama bottoms off, careful not to ogle his person. But, oh, how he wanted to. To deter himself, he chanted Bible verses extolling chastity in his head. He wasn't brave or hypocritical enough to remind himself of the one warning men not to lie with men. He had already fallen from grace. If the opportunity afforded itself, he would not be able to resist. The least he could do was be honest about it.
"I want you to know that you have choices," he murmured as he rinsed soap from Edward's hair. "I won't force you to stay with me. I'll never make you do anything you don't want to. But I'll always love you and I'll always be here if you need me. That will never change."
In the wee hours of the morning, Edward began to tremble and Carlisle knew that he'd begun to burn. Soon, heat was radiating from his body and he whimpered, but his heartbeat was strong and even.
"Hang on for me," Carlisle said, spooning up behind him. "Soon, this will pass, and you'll never be ill or in pain again. I promise."
He wondered when Edward would be done with the paralysis. He, himself, had been capable of movement on the second day, but had been too terrified that he'd be noticed by hunters. He'd forced himself to remain still, hidden beneath a pile of rubbish. Edward would not have that torture.
By dawn, Edward's skin was so hot that Carlisle could hardly stand to touch him. Then the spasms started. Muscle groups would tense, then flex and quiver. Carlisle watched in awe as Edward's legs lengthened and his shoulders broadened. Muscle rippled beneath his skin, which was turning a beautiful, opalescent peach. And his hair, which had been a subtle, dark auburn, was now streaked with bold red and gold highlights.
He was beautiful.
On the second morning, Carlisle was tucked up behind him, relating facts about transformations he'd witnessed in Volterra, when Edward reached up, grasped him by the back of the neck, flipped him over onto the rug and straddled him. His eyes were riddled with red, silver and black, and were completely vacant. His lips pulled back in a snarl.
Instead of responding, Edward grasped hold of Carlisle's union suit and ripped it to shreds. Carlisle kept very still.
"I don't know whether to be excited or terrified," he said dryly. "Can you hear me?"
Edward blinked, shoved him flat to the floor and sniffed at his neck. He gave it a tentative lick. Carlisle moaned and wrapped his arms around him. "God, I hope you don't regret this in the morning." Edward rocked against him. Carlisle grabbed onto his ass and licked him everywhere he could reach. But the longer it went on, the more irate Edward seemed to become, until at last he flipped Carlisle onto his knees and dragged him backward by the hips.
"No, don't hurt me!" Carlisle yelped. With a roar, Edward collapsed onto his back and writhed on the rug. His hands grasped at air and he cried out in obvious pain. His swollen cock jutted straight up. It was alarmingly red. Carlisle cautiously crawled over to him.
"May I touch you?"
Carlisle touched a fingertip to Edward's shaft and found it to be shockingly hot. He eyed Edward frankly. "Were you trying to cool this down?"
"All right. I'll make it stop." Carlisle took a deep breath. Once he did it, there would be no going back. He could only hope that Edward wouldn't hate him for it. Exhaling, he took Edward all the way in and swallowed around him. Edward made a sound. Carlisle couldn't tell if it was of pleasure or relief, but his own cock grew heavy. He didn't really know what to do, so he just waited.
Edward slowly rocked his hips up, then down. On the third repetition, his lower abdominal muscles contracted and he made a rumbling noise. Carlisle felt Edward's release travel his length before it spurted into his mouth, mad hot and flavored of illness. Carlisle spat it out and stared as more exited the tip, drizzled down Edward's fiery length and ran into the short, soft hair beneath.
Carlisle had made Edward spill his seed upon the ground. He waited for God to strike him down, but it didn't happen. Abruptly, he wanted reassurance. Crawling up to Edward's side, he took a breath to ask if Edward felt better, but was stunned silent by the look on Edward's face. Was he angry?
Edward grasped Carlisle around the middle and flipped him 180 degrees. They were torso to torso, and Carlisle was once again face-to-face with Edward's cock. A pearl of semen beaded on the tip.
"Do you want mo…." His back arched and he cried out as Edward's tongue pressed inside him. He forgot the world as Edward nibbled, licked and sucked. With a small growl, Edward placed his hand on the back of Carlisle's head and gave it a shove. Carlisle took his cock back in his mouth, preoccupied with unexpectedly glorious sensation.
Edward spat on Carlisle's anus and stroked it. Carlisle was about to add buggery to his list of sins. But he didn't have time to think about it. Edward had grasped Carlisle's cock and swallowed it whole, while sliding his finger inside Carlisle. He was certain he'd never had such pleasure, ever. And then Edward began to suck, like a foal pulling at a teat.
Carlisle's balls drew tight and everything tingled. He felt his release pulse up from his base and every care floated away. Without pause, Edward pulled him down for another round. Carlisle reapplied himself to sucking Edward's cock. At first, he thought he was imagining things, but then he realized that it was taking on a grayish cast, lengthening and becoming girthier. He was thrilled. He began to bob on it. Edward copied him. They chased each other's climaxes over and over, never tiring, never getting sore, until at last, Edward sighed and nudged Carlisle away.
Carlisle watched him drift into unconsciousness. He smoothed back Edward's hair and kissed him on the temple. "Won't be long now, love. I'll see you in the morning."
Usually, Carlisle would spend the few hours he was required to fake sleep either reading, bathing in the sea or engaged in prayer. Well, he was almost always praying these days. There were so many poor souls to pray for. But now, he didn't feel capable of doing any of those things. Although well aware that man was born into a state of sin, he had always tried to be good. And now, he had traded pleasing God for loving Edward. And there was no undoing it.
He had lusted after someone pure and robbed his innocence.
Carlisle lit a fire as Edward's temperature began to fall. He burned their ruined clothes.
He'd caused a lamb to fall into sin.
Carlisle warmed water and cleansed his body.
He'd lain with a man. He'd spilled his seed and Edward's for pleasure instead of procreation.
Carlisle bathed Edward and kissed him dry.
He'd committed adultery.
Carlisle anointed Edward's body with oil.
He'd robbed God of the decision to let Edward die.
Carlisle dressed himself and then Edward.
He'd robbed Edward of Heaven.
Carlisle worshipped Edward and ministered to him. He placed Edward's head in his lap and brushed his hair, and sang to him. He grew apprehensive as Edward's heart slowed, but there was no question that Edward would make it through the turning. His skin was fair as fine alabaster, his lips ruddy and sweet as merlot, his lashes thick and dark upon his cheeks. But what would Edward do when he woke up? Would he ask to be loved or would he be sorry? Or worse, appalled. Would he even remember? There were a lot of things Carlisle couldn't remember about his life Before.
And now, he was worried about Edward. To damn himself was one thing, but to lead Edward into hellfire? That was unconscionable. And what if Edward didn't even know he was no longer innocent?
Carlisle rested his head on his knees and wished he could cry. "God, I'm sorry. Forgive me. I couldn't let him go. I wasn't strong enough. I'm not worthy to serve You. But it's so lonely. Why didn't You just let me die? Now I've corrupted the dearest person in the world. I am an abomination. What have I done?"
Carlisle's head shot up. Edward was staring at him, his eyes huge and black, heartbreak exuding from every pore.
"Edward!" Carlisle opened his arms and reached for him, but Edward placed his bare foot in the middle of Carlisle's chest and then scuttled backward, stopping only because he was close enough to the fire to get singed. He glanced at it apprehensively and dashed away, coming to a stop beside the door.
Carlisle sprang to his feet and held out his hand. "Edward. Love. Come to me."
Edward's face twisted. "You think I'm corrupt? An abomination? That you should have let me die?"
Carlisle shook his head desperately. "No! I could never have let you go. You're mine now. Come here and let me love you."
Edward placed his hand on the doorknob. "I thank you for saving my life, and tending to me so compassionately these many days, and explaining to me what I am and how to live."
"Edward, don't go!"
"Make your penance to God, Carlisle. And I shall make mine."
"No! I love you!"
Edward shut his eyes and pressed his lips together, then opened them, velvety black, upon his maker. "But you love God more, which is how it should be. Be blessed, my love."
One second he was there, and then he was gone. Carlisle screamed in agony. He raced outside but could see no sign of Edward's passing. He called and called but Edward didn't answer. Carlisle searched for hours. He picked up Edward's scent on the beach. It disappeared into the Atlantic.
Years passed, colorless and void. The plague ended. Wars stopped and began. Technologies changed. People remained much the same. They found new ways to dishonor and kill each other. Carlisle prayed, flat on his face beneath the Cross, for Edward every day. Prayed that he was safe, alive, and being good, and that he would come back so Carlisle could tell him he was sorry. Tell him he was wanted, and perfect, and never should go away again. And that he loved him, no matter what the law said was proper. How could someone as wonderful as Edward, someone who had expressed the certainty that he belonged to God, ever go to hell for loving someone of his own sex? It just … it didn't make sense.
Gradually, Carlisle began to pick up bits of his life again. He saw Edward in the flutter of lashes on a woman's cheek, and in great works of art, and in men with green eyes and gentle smiles. Eventually, he resumed caring for others, dedicating all his time to a life of service. And although he was never happy, the whisper of a smile would cross his features whenever something brought his lover to memory.
And then Hitler brought devastation to a world that was barely recovering from the first War, the one that had been intended to end them all. The flower of Edward's generation had already been cut off, and here was a madman trying to finish the job. There were plenty of other mad people anxious to help him, too.
Carlisle enlisted as a field surgeon in the American Army. By day, he slaved in tent hospitals to save the wounded. By night, he crept onto French battlefields to rescue the dying.
Sometimes, he encountered others of his kind, with wicked red eyes. Combat zones were one of their favorite sources of food. Nobody would question the existence of another mangled corpse, even one drained of blood. Most of the demon vampires didn't care whose blood they were gorging on. Carlisle would order them to stay the hell away from the Allied men and go feast on some Nazis. Some of them laughed. He killed those ones. Because of it, the Volturi began to call him a Stregoni Benefici. They hated the fascists, too.
Any vampire that adhered to his agenda, he let alone. Someday, they'd all have to face the Judgment, but until then, Carlisle would expend all his loathing and bitterness on the Nazis. He especially hated the SS for hunting down and slaughtering everyone different from themselves. As he considered them less than human, he killed as many as he could get his hands on.
He was wringing the last breath out of one such creature when he noticed something move in a distant copse of bushes. His attention was caught. A gleam of copper shone for a moment in the moonlight. Carlisle dropped his dead victim and scented the air. The person in the bushes moved again, casting a corpse to the ground.
At lightning speed, Carlisle approached the shadowy figure, stopping twenty feet away, just far enough not to be considered a threat.
The vampire was dressed as a G.I. Joe and had a rifle and ammo belt slung over his shoulders. He licked blood from his lips and raised his head. They stared at each other. Carlisle's heart cracked wide open. He spread his arms.
Edward raised his hand to his lips. He slowly kissed his fingers and turned them toward Carlisle. Then he turned his back and began to dart away.
"Not this time!" Carlisle roared, flinging himself after him. Edward was no longer a newborn, and Carlisle was determined to outrun him. After a long sprint, they collided in the muck and toppled into a bomb crater, tumbling to a stop amidst fly-ridden, stinking corpses. Edward crouched to jump and Carlisle was on him, knocking his helmet off. Edward clawed and snarled, punched and kicked and bit, but Carlisle wouldn't let him go. He was still bigger than Edward, but both of them were becoming slimy with putrescent goo. Carlisle held onto Edward for dear life, all the while telling him that he loved him and he was sorry and he wanted him to come home.
The sun peeked over the top of the crater before Edward huffed a laugh and surrendered. "Oh, fuck, Carlisle. How am I supposed to make it back to my unit now?"
Carlisle, wary of a trick, didn't let go of him. "Please don't go away. My life is meaningless without you."
Edward bolted to his feet and slapped his hands down on his thighs. "Well! At least you've learned something in the time I've been gone."
"Why did you leave without talking to me?"
Edward's black eyes flashed fire. "You called us abominations! You said we deserved hellfire just for being in love." He marched over to Carlisle and booted him in the chest, then hauled him up by the remains of his shirt and shook him so hard his teeth rattled. "You ruined me. Ruined!"
Carlisle placed his thumbs on Edward's cheeks and wiped away blood and guts. "I ruined us both. I was wrong. Judge not, lest ye be judged."
Edward's expression of loathing melted into grief. "If that's all you've learned, I'll be going now."
"No. Please. Teach me."
"The verse that grieves you so much about homosexuality is in Leviticus, which is in the Old Testament."
"There's nothing else in the Bible that forbids me from dedicating my heart and body to one man. The New Testament forbids orgies and other debauched behavior. But that's equally applicable to all adults."
"Carlisle," Edward said, placing his palms on Carlisle's chest, "When Christ came, what happened?"
"He reconciled God and man."
Edward nodded. "He came to free us from eternal punishment, to free us from Mosaic Law, under which all men fall short of perfection. To those who belong to Christ, the old laws no longer apply. Being queer is no more of a sin than eating bacon. And nobody can remove us from the hand of God because He won't let us fall. You and I belong to God, Carlisle."
Carlisle's eyes opened. "There is therefore now no condemnation…" He searched Edward's expressionless face for any sign of forgiveness. "I didn't understand."
"Most people don't."
"Will you please give me another chance?"
"This is your only chance, lover. I won't go through this shit again. I'll light us both on fire first. Better to burn with you than burn alone."
"Don't say that!"
"It's been twenty years of hell!" Edward roared in his face.
Carlisle bowed his head. "I've missed you every second of every single day."
"You know what day this is, don't you?"
Carlisle searched his internal clock. He gazed at Edward in astonishment. "Twenty years …"
"And twenty hours."
"Happy birthday, my love."
Edward snorted. "It is now."
"Yeah. Who would have thought?"
His smile faded. "You know, once, I had something special, but I've never been properly kissed."
"I'm going to kiss you now."
Edward grimaced. "I think you have Nazi brains on your cheek."
"Nobody said I was perfect." He spat on his palms and scrubbed at his face. Edward did likewise. Then they let their hands fall to their sides and stood a little awkwardly.
Carlisle enfolded Edward in his arms. He kissed him thoroughly, with increasing passion, until they were in danger of getting carried away and desecrating a mass grave. Far distant guns began to pop. Edward broke the kiss, scratching his fingers through Carlisle's regulation cut hair.
"You have no idea."
"I think I do." Edward picked up his helmet and put it on. He had a look around, picked a helmet out of the muck, wiped if off, popped it onto Carlisle's head and rapped on it.
"Want to go slay some monsters together?" Carlisle asked, offering Edward his hand.
"No. I want to go home."
It took a little doing, but they made it back to the States. They witnessed wars and times of peace. They voted in every election, saw the birth of rock and roll, and television, and marched for Civil Rights, Women's Rights and Gay Pride. Both of them became anonymous benefactors to their communities, and known Stregoni Benefici.
And on the 26th of June, 2015, wearing snazzy black tuxedos, they made forever official, and kissed each other in a church, in front of God and everyone.