Oh, it has been such a long time since I've posted here. Unforgivably long. I have been writing off and on, but life has also been happening at the same time, along with computer trouble, relationships... all of that glorious nonsense we put up with. *_* But I hope you like this old story I posted a long time ago and never finished. It is precious to me, and I hope will meet your satisfaction.

We begin with Carlisle Cullen, the dear doctor, when he was still a young vampire and residing with the Volturi in their home continent. This is my take on why exactly he chose to leave, and the grief he possibly suffered at their expense. And so we begin...

- Petals

"Car-lisle! My darling, where are you…?"

The young vampire groaned, pressing his forehead into his hands. When Aro had showed him the wondrous cavern of treasures that was the Volturi's library, he had assumed that he would then be left alone. Alone to study, and delve, and ponder. Perhaps even finish that dissertation on human anatomy that he had been driving at for so long.

"Where is my little canarino?"

Carlisle sighed in exasperation, pushing back his chair. It must have been with a little too much force, for the next moment, Aro appeared in the doorway, grinning ear-to-ear.

"Carlisle…" he scolded affectionately. "Why are you hiding by yourself? I will not have it said I neglect my guests."

"Truly, my friend, you have not neglected me." Carlisle smiled gently, his irritation fading somewhat. It was impossible to be upset around Aro when he inhabited this mood.

The ancient's eyes danced about, flickering from his friend's youthful visage to the stacks of books and papers scattered across the desk. "You have been working? On what, pray?"

Carlisle began to tell him, but Aro's attention had already flown elsewhere. "What a handsome new suit, my friend. Did you purchase it recently?" He smirked.

Carlisle chuckled. "You know very well who bought this, Aro. It is your own fine taste I should thank."

"Tut, tut. One would think I'd be drunk on flattery, by now." His eyes sparkled with unsteady gaiety, and Carlisle wondered if that were not the very case. "But come! You must not idle away your time here. It is a beautiful night out, and I refuse to waste it."

Carlisle sighed. "What is there outside that cannot be found in this room?"

Aro looked him up and down briefly, a gaze that made the aspiring doctor far from comfortable. His red tongue briefly darted out over his lips. "What, indeed? Come, my golden immortal. Come…"

The quill fell from Carlisle's fingertips back onto the desk, his work forgotten, for the present. He followed his friend out of the library and down a grandly-lit hallway. The library was close to the rooms of all three Ancient's, and all adjoining rooms and halls were decorated according to their professed royalty. However, Carlisle had noticed some differences in their respective private areas. Aro's, for instance, was tasteful yet lavish, as befitted his vanity. There were more mirrors leading up to his room and beyond than anywhere else in the castle. Tapestries and art covered almost every inch of stone wall, and the floors before his door were covered in the most beautiful of Persian rugs. Caius' echoed much of the same décor as Aro's. Their brother, Marcus', on the other hand, sang a far different song. Tapestries had been stripped off the walls. Paintings removed, carpets ripped from their clinging nails, and what torches remained sat cold and silent.

Carlisle had passed down that hallway before. He had not lingered. A strange heaviness dwelt there. It was difficult to breathe, as if some great, grey emotion hung unspoken in the freezing air.

He thought of this, as he walked with Aro. As they passed that same hallway, and Caius' beautiful studio of art. Aro glanced at his friend's somber face with curiosity.

"Are you well, dearest one?"

Carlisle nodded soundlessly. Aro's tongue struck gently against his teeth in a clucking sound, but he said nothing. He opened a door after several brief minutes, inviting his friend to enter through first.

The night air struck Carlisle's face with a soft, sweet warmth, surprising him. He turned around to see Aro beaming.

"Pleasant, is it not?" The vampire king gestured to a charming pathway in the fortezza's gardens. "Please walk with me."

Carlisle followed, though he was not entirely at peace as he strolled with the older vampire. Thoughts of his dissertation buzzed in his head, refusing to allow him enjoyment of the night. As Aro spoke freely of other subjects, however, he found himself beginning to relax. Scents of the air around him flooded his nostrils. He breathed in deeply, his chest expanding.

Mm. Jasmine. Pinewood. The lush green of summer grass beneath his feet.

"So," he said tentatively, after a moment's silence from his companion. "I hear from Corin that you are married? I did not know this."

A brief flash of anger crossed Aro's face, so quick that Carlisle did not see it. "Ah, yes… Sulpicia. My darling wife. She keeps to her room, I'm afraid, but you may meet her in future, if you'd like."

"It would be a pleasure," Carlisle said warmly. A soft cry of a nightingale filled the silence for a moment, then he spoke again. "You must love her very much."

Aro's blood-filled eyes turned to his. "Yes?"

The ancient had stopped walking, so Carlisle did as well. "Forgive me if I pry, but… I assumed that one's bond with one's mate is the strongest known to our kind." His golden eyes looked reverent. "You can't be parted from her for long?"

Aro watched him unblinkingly. "You long for your own mate."

"Very much."

The dark-haired vampire smiled tenderly. "And you will find he—your mate. It only takes a little time."

"It feels so long, already," Carlisle said sadly. "I long to be close to another… the way you are with your wife."

Aro's lips spread back genially from his teeth. He studied Carlisle's handsome profile, turned as it was away from him, and let out a low, exaggerated sigh.

"Ah, yes, but she does not please the way I would wish her to." His lashed lifted slowly, his gaze on Carlisle. "As I wish you to."

The blonde vampire turned his head, startled. "I… beg your pardon?"

"Pardon granted, sweet one." Aro's voice dropped an octave, soft and silken. His broad chest rose soft and fast beneath black velvet.

Carlisle hitched a breath. "I… I am afraid I don't understand."

"Allow me to enlighten you, then," Aro said, reaching his hands forward encouragingly. When the doctor drew back, he shrugged. "Ah. Words shall come first, I suppose. But they will not satisfy me for long."

"Aro, I am here by you and your brothers' good will. To study and learn," Carlisle rushed. "Not indulge in carnal pastimes."

"'Carnal pastimes'?" Aro laughed. "Oh, cara mia, you amuse me so! You speak like an old pastore."

"I mean what I say."

"As you do everything, friend. What I am suggesting…" And Aro steepled his fingers delicately. "Is that you say a little less, and experience a little more."

"Please let me return to my studies," Carlisle whispered.

"Not just yet. You shall not fly from me so soon, canarino." Aro caressed the word tenderly with his tongue, his lips pursing briefly on the 'o.' He circled the young prodigy with a careless air, stopping just behind him. "Don't tell me you feel nothing for me," he whispered close to his ear.

Carlisle jumped, stepping back as he turned. "My lord, I would ask leave of you. Now."

Aro's smile was too bright, too dazzling. "No, no… Come here. Hold my hand, little one," he gushed. "Press it close, and tell me you do not feel my dead heart beating again."

"Aro, you are not yourself."

"You think I am mad?"

"… Yes," Carlisle admitted.

"Clever boy." Aro laughed, flitting closer again with eyes that now held a naked hunger. "Come, my friend. Teach me more of these 'carnal pastimes…'"

"It is… not natural," the blonde one croaked out.

"Not natural?" Aro said lightly. "Are you forgetting, Carlisle? I am from Greece, and we both know the traditions of their fathers. One did not look down upon a man lusting after another."

Carlisle's voice sounded weak. Strained. "I am from… a different time."

Aro laughed richly. "Time is all One for us, mio canarino. I have ceased to let each century's laws govern me. Our kind follows its own laws."

"And I respect them, truly," Carlisle hated the pleading sound in his voice. "All I… all I ask is that you respect mine in turn."

Aro watched him, his eyes like drops of blood caught in starlight. "I like it when you ask me things," he whispered. "I like it very much."

The young vampire made a soft noise of despair, turning away from him. Aro reached out, eagerly seeking the pale hand that rested against a silken trouser leg. He clasped it tight when his potential lover resisted, using his superior power and strength to draw him close.

"Listen to the night," he breathed, his lips inches away. "Listen to her sing to you…"

Carlisle's mouth was gaped, venom glistening on his tongue as he struggled. Aro thought how much he wanted to bite that tongue. Suck it into his mouth like a sweet candy, and listen to him moan. He smoothed back Carlisle's hair gently, feeling how soft it was.

"Stop struggling, Carlisle. You're making me nervous."

"Aro… for God's sake…"

"Leave Him out of this," Aro said irritably.

With a sudden surge of effort, Carlisle yanked himself out of the ancient's grasp, their bodies colliding together briefly. The sound was like two boulders being flung together, and it threw Carlisle off balance. He slammed into the dirt, flattening a poor jasmine blossom in the process.

Aro's exclamation was soft. "Dear friend! Let me help you…" He grinned at Carlisle's submissive position, bending to extend his hand. Carlisle hissed, shimmying backwards on his elbows. He looked so young and blonde and mussed, Aro couldn't help but purr aloud.

"Aro, I asked you…"

"And I listened, friend. Most politely. Do let me help you."

"Leave me be. Please."

"Only stop looking so alluring, Carlisle…" Aro crouched playfully, pouncing on his "prey" and pinning him effectively beneath him. Before Carlisle could register what had happened, he encircled the blonde vampire's face in his hands, bending low to capture a much-awaited kiss.

Carlisle lifted his leg, and kicked him in the stomach. Hard.

He heard a wheezing sound. Felt the ancient's body leave him, the choking relief of the strange attack finally being over. Then he looked up into the ancient's fiery eyes, and knew he had treaded on dangerous ground.

A stunning blow whipped against his cheek, snapping his head to the side. It shocked him far more than it hurt. He looked up again in a daze to see Aro rubbing his hand regretfully, his eyes changed to a soft crimson.

"Forgive me," he said softly. He looked down at his friend, terrified and motionless in the dirt, and sighed. "Oh, Carlisle. Will you never learn to have a little fun?"

He turned, then, his cloak brushing Carlisle's cheek as he left.

"Come in when you're ready," his feathery voice flitted from a distance. "Heidi will be arriving shortly."

Carlisle sat up on his knees shakily. One fist was pressed to his mouth… why? To stifle a sob? To prevent himself from lashing out in a rage? Oh, but rage was not his way. No… his way was goodness and truth and light and… and…

Carlisle sank back to the ground, weeping as a soul violated.

"I can feel the discomfort in your seat

And in your head, it's worse."

(Depeche Mode, "Halo")

canarino/mio canarino - canary/my canary