According to the timeline on the Twilight Lexicon (the ultimate authority in the Twilighter universe) Carlisle and Esme met when she was sixteen and broke her leg falling out of a tree. I thought that it would be interesting if she became for him what Bella was for Edward - the one person that it physically hurt him to resist. Edward called this a 'Tua Cantate' and explained that it basically meant her blood sang to him.

So this is CarlislexEsme, of course, and I really have no idea if I'll be adding onto it. It's not like it's a cliffhanger, everybody knows that they meet up years later after she's tried to commit suicide. But if you want the story in my words, I'm flattered, I guess, and I'll see what I can do. Just review and let me know. :3

Thanks so much wmlaw for correcting my timeline issues - I've revised them. Ugh. I always research so carefully and then make big obvious mistakes, like saying Carlisle met Edward before Esme. Grr. Guess this is what happens when I decide not to trouble my beta... xD

Oh, and I don't own Twilight. Duhz.

Carlisle's whole body tensed as they lead her into the room.

Almost a half-century of perfect self-control. And it had to end here.

She was very pretty, with sparkling green eyes and caramel-colored hair that fell to her shoulders. Her face was pink from crying. Poor thing had fallen out of a tree. Carlisle wasn't sure why a teenage girl would be climbing trees, but that didn't really matter. What did matter was that she was there. Beside him.

And he was going to have to kill her.

Never, in all his three-hundred-odd years, had he felt such an incredible lust for human blood. Even as a newborn, he couldn't recall the pull being so strong. What was it about this girl that made him react this way? Stiffening, he held his breath until the triage nurse left the room. He was going to hold out as long as he could. There was no conceivable reason he should have to throw away practically a half-century of grueling indoctrination in self-control just because of a clumsy teenage girl. He'd never be able to live with himself. Trying in vain to find a distraction, he read through the paperwork in her folder as the nurse situated her.

Hmm… Esme Anne Platt. Sixteen years old, lives with her parents.

Hearing the nurse leave, he turned to Esme, and the trusting expression on her face made his heart ache. Though all the conclusions reached by her nurse were included in her file, he felt as though he had to make conversation. Anything he could do to remind himself that she was simply another vulnerable human: nothing special, but no more deserving of death than any other.

"Did the triage nurse give you a verdict, dear?"

His strained voice seemed to echo in the barely-furnished room. Esme nodded.

"I think she said it was a clean break. I shouldn't have climbed up so high. Especially in the dark like that. Just lost my footing once, and here I am."

"It's alright. Accidents happen. Let me look at this."

Carlisle gently pushed her skirt up to the knee, knowing without even looking that Esme was blushing. The rushing sound of her blood and the tantalizing sensation that created was about to drive him crazy. He examined the break, praying the whole time that falling out of a tree was the worst accident Esme was going to incur that night. Still holding his breath, he tried to clear his head and think rationally.

The nurse had been right; it was a very clean fracture. Esme would just need a couple of weeks in a cast and it would all be as good as new. If she survived her encounter with the good Dr. Cullen, that is. The guilt was already bubbling within him, and he had hardly even touched her. For the first time in a very long time, Carlisle wanted nothing more than to cease to be, on the spot. It wasn't going to be like this. Of all people – vampires – for this to happen to, why did it have to happen to him? Why not Caius or Marus or Aro – they'd simply destroy her and be finished with it. But he just couldn't let himself do that!

"Doctor… is something wrong?"

Esme's voice jarred him from his reverie.

"I'm sorry," he apologized. Carlisle took a quick breath so that he could finish his statement, and his head reeled. "Your leg is going to be fine. It's just a tiny fracture of the fibula. That's the small bone in your calf."

"Well, I suppose that's good at least," Esme said, smiling a little. She shifted her weight and grimaced again. "It sure does hurt, though."

"I know," Carlisle replied sympathetically. He intentionally didn't make eye contact, hoping that would somehow make things easier. "It should get better after we set it. Have you been given any aspirin?"

"Yes, but only a half-dosage," Esme replied. "The nurse didn't know if you would want to put me on morphine or anything."

"Would you like that?" Carlisle asked, hoping for a chance to leave the room and get the injection. Esme shook her head, unknowingly wafting more of her scent in Carlisle's direction. She didn't notice him stiffen.

"I think more aspirin will do the trick. Morphine kind of knocks you out, right?"

Carlisle laughed a little despite himself.

"It depends on how much you take. But yes, if you prefer aspirin, that's fine too."

Carlisle took a glass out of the cabinet and filled it with water. Placing it on a metal tray alongside a small white tablet, he handed it to Esme. For the first time since she was brought into the room, they locked eyes.

There was something electric.

Carlisle was suddenly absolutely taken in by her calm, sweet gaze. The expression in her eyes was inquisitive, but at the same time, as enthralled as he felt. For the first time since they'd met, he was certain that he wasn't going to kill her. He was going to resist, and it was going to be much simpler and more purposeful than it had been before.

He loved her.

Her musical voice, her soft curls, her smile through the pain. All these things were so beautiful, unlike anything he'd ever seen. She was young, human , vulnerable… but he loved her more than any other creature that he'd ever met in his entire, centuries-long existence.

"I'm sorry," Esme apologized, breaking the connection first. "You… you have very nice eyes."

"It's alright," Carlisle replied, still coming back to earth. He was inclined to return her compliment in like, but was afraid of making her nervous. And of making himself too well at ease. "I should go mix the plaster for your cast. I'll be right back."

Once Carlisle left the room, he sucked in the sterile air from the hallway like a man who had been saved from drowning, regardless of whether he needed it or not. Anything to get that enticing smell away from him. He needed to forget it, to experience a few moments of peace. Then, maybe, he could remind himself of who he had worked so hard to become. Esme was safe. She was going to be safe. That's all there was to it.

As he mixed the plaster and looked for the gauze for the cast, Carlisle racked his brain for anything that anyone had said about vampires wanting certain humans above all others. Undoubtedly, there were some humans that smelled sweeter than others, and very little reason governed it. It was mostly an issue of the vampire's tastes. Carlisle had never experienced anything like this, though. Someone so impossible to resist… and at the same time, impossible to harm…

Once the mixture was finished, he expected to feel dread regarding his return to Esme's room. But strangely, it never came. Instead, there was an excited anticipation. He'd get to see her eyes sparkle again. He'd even get to hold her warm, well-formed leg while he put on the cast. She would give him that look of mixed shyness and complete faith in his abilities to make her better.

There wasn't much time to think; the mixture was beginning to set. He knocked on the door, listening for her musical voice and taking a few final breaths of the benign air.

"Come in."

Upon opening the door, Carlisle braced himself. He could – and would – handle this absolutely professionally. He gave Esme a reassuring smile and felt his own stomach flip as her heart sped up. Placing the bowl of plaster and the bandages down on the tray where the aspirin had been, Carlisle sat down on a stool beside the table where she sat. Esme smiled shyly as he picked up her injured leg and placed it in his lap. Her heart sped up a little more at his touch.

"Is it still hurting a lot?" he asked, carefully unlacing her shoe.

"I… I think the aspirin is kicking in a little," she said breathlessly. Carlisle felt a little thrill that his presence beside her could dazzle her so much. It was only natural; after all, his kind was designed to have that effect on humans. But something about Esme's admiration was so terribly endearing.

"That's good," he replied. "You've been brave, Esme."

"I haven't at all," she replied, laughing a little. "I was crying my eyes out while my mother drove over here."

Carlisle laughed in return, relaxing as his bloodlust grew steadily easier to stomach. The more real Esme became, the easier it was to redirect his thoughts from vampiric thirst to romantic love. The latter was the lesser of the two evils, but not by too much.

"Esme – that's a very pretty name," Carlisle said, making conversation as he dipped the bandages in plaster. Esme blushed a little despite herself. The rush of blood peaked Carlisle's senses, but he quickly regained control.

"I suppose it is," she replied. "But it always seemed terribly old-fashioned to me. Who sees a little baby and thinks it should be called Esme, after all? And there aren't any nicknames for it either."

"I understand," Carlisle replied, smiling. "But one day, I imagine, you'll find yourself to be quite an Esme. It's a wonderfully elegant name."

Esme ducked her head, obviously flattered, but when she made eye contact again, she wasn't smiling.

"I'm honestly delaying those days as much as I can," she admitted. Something in her tone made Carlisle uneasy.

"Is something wrong?" he asked, knowing that he was likely getting into something that was very much not his business and even more likely something that he would regret becoming involved in. Despite all of it, he couldn't stop himself.

"I just don't want to grow up. It sounds funny, doesn't it? I guess that's why I climbed the tree. I just saw it there, and the branch was hanging so low. Something within me wanted to climb up as high as I could and forget about all of it. About dinner parties and finishing school and the cotillion and dance cards…"

Carlisle wasn't sure what he should say, but it didn't matter, because she continued.

"I'm sorry; I know I'm rambling terribly. But sometimes, I just wish I could be sixteen forever."

The bowl of plaster hit the linoleum floor with a clatter as Carlisle attempted to disguise his shock. Esme looked up in immediate alarm.

"I'm sorry, did I kick that over?"

"No, not at all," Carlisle replied, quickly regaining his composure. "I guess I just lost my grip on it. Don't worry, your cast is very close to finished. We'll still have enough."

Sixteen forever. She said it like it was an impossible dream. If only she knew that he was capable of making it come true – that he'd wanted to make it come true since their eyes connected for the first time! The irony was not only cruel, but brutal. There was no way that Carlisle could live with himself if he took away this perfectly healthy girl's future on a selfish whim. Even if it was a selfish whim that they happened to have in common.

"I don't feel quite so bad about my clumsiness now," Esme joked. "Even if it did result in falling out of a tree."

Her eyes were as sparkly and sweet and trusting as ever. And though Carlisle was now in control of his faculties enough to breathe normally, her scent still laced the air. How could anyone that alluring possibly live to be sixteen? The only explanation he could find was that she simply didn't have that effect on others of his kind. Carlisle swallowed the lump in his throat.

"And I'm through ranting now, by the way," Esme added. "Sorry about that."

"No need to apologize," Carlisle said, patting her leg gently as he stood. "You're all done. I think it will heal without any problem, but I'll still talk to your mother about making an appointment to check on it in a week or so."

"That's probably a good idea," Esme replied. "My appointment… will it be with you?"

The air immediately seemed thick with the silence that followed her question. The sounds of low voices in the waiting room and the whir of machinery seemed deafening. Carlisle wasn't sure how to react; mostly because he wanted that as much as she did. But another voice within him – the rational voice that reminded him to avoid temptation at all costs – scolded him for encouraging this unknowing temptress. He hadn't meant to dazzle her so, had he?

Finally, Carlisle decided on a seemingly harmless answer.

"I'll see what I can do," he said smoothly, smiling no more widely than he would under ordinary circumstances. Esme seemed a little put-off, but Carlisle consoled himself with the idea that perhaps she was just angry with herself for being so forward.

"Thank you, doctor – the cast is beautiful," she said, running her bitten-down fingernails over the rivets in the plaster.

"My pleasure," Carlisle replied, still attempting to be nothing more than civil. He extended his hand to her. "Would you like some assistance?"

"Yes, thank you," Esme replied, taking it and looking momentarily surprised. "Your hand's a little cold. Is it low blood pressure? I have that too."

"Something like that," Carlisle said, smiling despite the fact that he mostly wanted to scream at the unfairness of it all. "You seem a little unsteady. Are you alright?"

"Yes, I'm fine," Esme assured him, bracing herself against the table. "The cast is just heavier than I expec-augh!"

Esme had simply lost her balance as she stepped down onto the stool, and even though Carlisle had given her his hand because he anticipated that happening, he still felt his insides turn to rubber when he caught her in his arms. His face was buried in her thick, silky hair, and suddenly, it was all he could do to restrain himself. He was divided into two equally powerful, potent Carlisle Cullens. One wanted more than anything in the world to protect the beautiful, fragile Esme. The other wanted to eat her alive. It would have been so easy to let the second win. Every nerve in his body screamed out for the feeling of warm blood pulsing through him… Her warm blood…

He was terrified of himself.

"Sorry about that," Esme said, oblivious to Carlisle's turmoil. The latter barely heard. He could only think one step at a time. Sit her down on the stool. Tell her something that sounded convincing. Then get the hell out of there.

"I'm sorry, Esme, an urgent case just came in and I have to report as quickly as possible to the other ward. Can you sit and wait here for a moment?"

Esme nodded silently as Carlisle helped her sit on the low stool, wondering all the while how he even knew about said "urgent case." And why he was behaving so oddly.

As soon as he was sure Esme wouldn't lose her balance again, Carlisle took off down the hallway and raced outside. Finding his car with ease, he threw himself into the driver's seat and sat with his head rested against the steering wheel.

He would never be that irresponsible again.

How did he have the nerve to think he could handle the situation like any normal, human doctor? It was despicable of him to put her in that situation. She had no way of knowing how close she had been to death at the hands of the man who had been intended to heal her. Disgusting, the way he had fallen prey to the same old temptation. He had gotten to the point where he barely noticed it at all, but now it was like he was a newborn again – perhaps even worse! If it was possible for temptation to strike so suddenly and powerfully after so many years of peaceful dormancy, was it safe for him to practice medicine at all?

That thought depressed him beyond words. He had not only passion for his job, but talent too! How unjust that his condition should prevent him from the one part of his life that he actually found somewhat fulfilling.

He would have to leave. It was the only way. He could depart for another state; somewhere where he couldn't put Esme in danger anymore. It would take very little planning - partiularly after all the practice he'd had packing up and moving on. It was almost time to relocate anyway; about six years had passed in Columbus. Esme would remain safe, and Carlisle would get another fresh start.

Fresh starts were really beginning to get old, after three hundred years.

Carlisle walked back into the hospital, sure that Esme would still be waiting safely in her examination room. Though he couldn't leave until affairs were in order, he might talk himself out of it unless he started making plans that afternoon. And that was something he couldn't afford to do. It wasn't like it was flu season; the hospital could manage without him for the rest of the day. He tried to look as calm as he could as he approached the front desk.

"I'm sorry, but I'm having a bit of a family emergency. I'll try and be back as soon as possible, but I really need to leave."

"Of course," the receptionist replied, looking concerned. "Is everyone okay?"

"We're all fine," Carlisle promised, "but time is of the essence. I'm sorry for the inconvenience. There's a patient waiting in room 30B. If you could possibly send her another doctor, that would be very helpful."

"No problem – John is on his break, but I'm sure he'd be more than happy to help."

"Thank you."

With this last exchange completed, Carlisle walked back through the door at a normal human pace and then broke into a run at vampiric speed when he was out of sight. He would pack, write letters of thanks and apology to his co-workers at the hospital, and disappear completely, as always. Carlisle was leaving Columbus – and Esme – behind forever. Though it pained him beyond words, it was the only way.