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Pre-Twilight

A look into Carlisle's loneliness before he changed any of the other Cullens. Carlisle POV, of course.

Disclaimer: To my great regret, Carlisle does not belong to me. All plots, characters and any other recognizable portions of the "Twilight" series belong to Stephenie Meyer's.

It was nights like these, coming home from the graveyard shift at the hospital to an empty house, that I wished I was not a vampire.

It was just about the only time I did, these days. After decades of practice, I had perfected my control to work as I wanted. I could forget everything in the hectic, satisfying pace of hospital life, using my acute senses and quick reflexes to diagnose and cure. With this control came empowerment and acceptance; I no longer dreaded the face in the mirror or the burning contrast of human touch to remind me of what I am.

Despite my love of my work, I hated the pretense and deception intrinsic to my existence. Having to leave my patients for unnecessary periods of time while I "slept" was only part of the annoyance. I also had to return to the blank walls and empty rooms of the place I called my home.

I knew what was missing, and I could not justify filling that void.

I wanted a companion. Someone who knew me as who I am…what I am. Someone who made the same choices as I did. Someone who I could care for and trust.

Sometimes I worried that I had been alone for so long that emotional intimacy felt unattainable. I had built too many walls, protected myself from exposure too thoroughly. I tried to imagine what it would be like to really know someone, and let someone really know me.

Unbidden to my mind came a memory—cherished and half-buried in my consciousness—a memory of honey-brown hair and gentle eyes that shone with bravery, warmth and intelligence.

Esme.

Years had passed, yet I remembered her as clearly as if we had met yesterday. I remembered her, the brave young girl whose leg I had repaired after her unfortunate fall from a tree. Maybe, just maybe, she remembered me, too…

Suddenly, I realized my imagination was distorting her image in my mind, changing her grey eyes to gold, hardening and cooling her skin.

No. I jerked my mind from that dangerous train of thought. She was young, innocent, and had so much to live for. She was so full of life, of springtime, of expectation. I could not even dream of taking that from her. I rather live alone forever than take away her future.

With a start, I realized I was on my own doorstep. Pulling a key from my pocket, I let myself in and closed the door behind me.

"I'm home," I whispered into the darkness.

Not even an echo responded.