016. Lies

This was one was hard, because I mean come on…one of them lying to the other? But I figured it out. : )

EDIT: My geography was screwed...because I started in PA, then forgot that I had put them there, and moved it to Forks. o.O so fixing it, I just put them in Forks...

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Esme

It was past 2 in the morning when he finally came home. 2:18, exactly. I had worried, certainly, though I kept telling myself I didn't need to. I had called the hospital at 11 to see if they had had an emergency, to ask him when he thought he'd be home. They had told me that he left at 10:30 and I had worried a little more, called his cell phone then. He hadn't answered, and I settled in to wait. Alice, Jasper, and Rosalie had taken off unexpectedly at 9, and though Edward had stuck around for a long time playing music for me downstairs, he had slipped out wordlessly at 2.

I was trying not to worry, really. Of course, of course he was fine. Still, I was more relieved than I cared to admit when I heard the Mercedes pull in, practically flying down the stairs so I could meet him at the front door. I pulled him against me the moment he came in, not even giving him a quarter of a second to slide his coat off.

His arms wrapped comfortingly around me, sighing as he buried his face in my hair. "Esme." Honestly, his voice frightened me far more than the time did. He sounded weary, exhausted. Sad, frustrated…

I pulled back, gave him room to shrug out of his coat and move farther into the living room. "Carlisle, are you alright?"

"Yes, yes I'm fine. It was a hard day, that's all. We had an emergency at work, they needed me to stay." I froze, every muscle in my body seizing up. He caught the look in my eyes and hurried on, stepping toward me. "It's alright, love, they're stable now. I won't have to go in until 9, like usual." He reached for me but I stepped back, a sharper lance of pain shooting through my heart at the hurt look on his face then.

Still, the larger, more numbing pain… "You weren't at work." And of course, he already knew that. Truly, he wasn't a very good liar because he wasn't even trying to keep it up, now. He looked terrified. My voice shook when I spoke, heavy with tears that couldn't come. "Carlisle, I called, you weren't there." Yes, he was terrified but I could hardly notice, could hardly feel anything but the way the world was spinning, the way something inside of me felt like it was breaking. "Why would you lie to me? How could you? Carlisle…"

"Esme, please…." His voice was broken too, shaky, but I couldn't even be pleased that he was appropriately worried. His pain only hurt me more. He reached for me but I stepped back again, backing against the couch and leaning against it. I might need it, soon, to hold me up.

"Where were you?"

"It…I swear, it's nothing you need to worry about, it's…Esme, please, don't look at me like that, you know I would never…"

That he would never what? Cheat on me? Yes, I was fairly certain on that point. Even as betrayed as I felt at the moment I knew that was one line Carlisle could never cross. All the same, that only left me more confused. When most husbands lied, it was to cover up another woman. I didn't believe there was any chance that could be the case here, so what on earth could he want to hide from me? He had never lied to me before, not ever, not once in all our years together. "Then what is it Carlisle? And what am I supposed to say? That this is alright?"

He shook his head, slow. "I…no. It isn't, I know it isn't, of course it isn't. I…I'm so sorry." He took a deep breath, and I could hear the shakiness of it. "Emmett had an…accident. Two actually. They were together, hikers." Carlisle was pacing now, his voice low and uneven. "He called me at work at 9:15, he needed me to help him move the bodies. He was a wreck but I couldn't get off then, I was in surgery. I only got his message when I got back to my office at 10:30, and I left immediately and met him in the woods. The others had come and gone, he hadn't really wanted anyone there but Rosalie. We put the bodies in the car and drove through Portland and out to the country, we burned the bodies in the woods there and threw the ashes in a nearby pond." He closed his eyes, his pacing stopped, his head bowed. "Emmett didn't want you to know, he begged me not to tell you, he didn't want to disappoint you. I…thought it best, that he was right. I didn't want to upset you. He wanted to stay out, run for awhile, and Rose went with him." Slowly, he opened his eyes, looked at me. "And I came home. And that's all of it, I swear."

It was all too much of an overload. My heart was trying to ache for my son but it couldn't manage it, not when it was already crying under another weight. While it mattered that he had told me, it didn't really change that much, because he had never intended to tell me at all. "Carlisle…" I didn't even know where to begin. He inched closer to me but moved forward from my position leaning against the sofa and held my hand out, stopping him.

"I promise, I've told you everything. I was wrong to ever agree not to. Esme, please, I'm sorry…I'm so sorry…"

"All the same, you lied to me." My words were quiet at first, and I could hear the tone of shock to them. "And it didn't even look difficult. It looked easy. As calm as you would have been telling me the truth."

"You know I have to be a good liar, you know that!" His voice was stronger, more emphatic. "I lie to them, to the humans, never to you!"

"Except you just did."

He flinched, took a step back as if my words stung him. "Esme, I'm sorry. I…" The strong tone his voice had had broke once more and he held out his hand to me again, his eyes pleading. "Please. I'm sorry. You have always trusted me."

"And you have never lied to me before. And yes, Carlisle it does matter that you lied so well, that you had every intention of not telling me. Because how would I know? How can I know, now that this is the only time? Because you're telling me it is?"

The pain, the hurt in his eyes was killing me, tearing whatever soul I had into tinier and tinier pieces, but I couldn't stop, couldn't tell him it was alright when it wasn't. "I would never lie to you about anything important, and I swear I have never until now, not on anything. It was a mistake, I know it was, I…"

"And what's important and what isn't?" I shook my head, felt my pain increase. "How can I be sure I can trust you? How do I know, Carlisle?" I was almost yelling at him now, and I hated it, hated the sound more than anything else. We had not fought in years, had not fought like this ever. This felt different, far more serious, far too real.

"What else do you want me to say?" His voice rose to match mine, though the agony was stronger in his, more pronounced. "What else can I tell you? I'm sorry! God, if I could take it back I would but I was just trying to honor his wishes! Esme…" He darted forward, caught my left hand between both of his. "I was just trying to protect you, to keep you from being hurt. Please, forgive me…please…" He pulled my hand to his lips to kiss it, but he had barely brushed them across my skin before I pulled away.

"I have to go. Get out for a little while."

His panic was something I could almost feel in the air, so clear in his frantic uneven breath. "Esme, love, please, I swear it, I didn't mean-"

"I'm coming back, Carlisle. I just need to calm down."

"please…" I couldn't look at him anymore, could bear to hear the almost-sob in his voice, but I equally couldn't bear to talk about it anymore. My head was as scrambled as I felt it could possibly get without exploding, and I had to clear it. I went to the end table and pulled out the keys to Edward's Aston Martin before heading toward the door. "Where will you go?"

Where was I going? How hurt was, how angry? I didn't know, I didn't have enough clarity to tell. Was I going to Seattle for the night and driving back? LA? Or was I going to Denali for a few days? I had no idea. "I don't know. Seattle. Denali."

I heard his breath stop on the last word. "Esme…"

I walked out the door before I had to listen to him keep trying to make me stay. I knew he wouldn't follow, at least not right then. He was still in shock. Well, so was I. I ran the short distance to the car in the garage, turned the key in the ignition and whipped it around, tore out of the driveway and onto the highway as fast as the car could possibly go. I hit 150 within minutes, and I was fleetingly glad that Edward had bought this car.

I drove with one hand, the other wrapped around my ribs. It felt like my chest was cracking open. Almost as if I were losing blood, which of course couldn't be possible. All the same, I was bleeding. It seemed like a long time that I could think of nothing but the unbearable pain, the almost empty road ahead.

Sooner than I truly expected, however, my brain kicked in again. How could he? Why would he, even for Emmett?

Because he shelters you from what he thinks you don't want to see. He always has.

I shoved that thought away, though I knew the truth of it. Of course he had, from the beginning. To his mind, I had seen enough of the dark side of the world while I was married to Charles. He didn't want any of that to trouble me, now. Not even the parts that pertained to us. When I had had my first mistake, he had been the one to clean up after me, to make sure I never had to look at the body, the lifeless eyes of the woman I had killed. Still, even so…he had never told me anything but the truth, until now. Or so I had believed. What if he had been lying to me for years? It made a difference, no matter what he was lying about or why, it would have still been dishonesty.

You know he hasn't. The look in his eyes when you even suggested it…

Fresh pain shot through my chest at the thought, enough to draw a sob from my lips. The sound in the empty silence only made it worse, bringing to mind the fact that he was in the house alone, hurting. Terrified. Carlisle,Carlisle…

The agony stabbed at me again, and this time I could pinpoint the source. It was his absence that was hurting me now. I had only made it up to 50 miles from Seattle, and already the anger was fading enough to see what the truth had to be. It hurt, still, but I could read his expressions more clearly in my memories now, the open honesty in them when he had apologized, sworn to me that he had never lied before and should never have done it at all.

At the next opportunity, I turned around.

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It was almost 4 when I got home. My chest ached with a new intensity when I saw him there, waiting for me. He sat in the middle of the driveway up close to the house, his right leg pulled up so his arm could rest on his knee, his forehead against his arm. I knew with hardly a seconds thought that he had fallen to the ground this way when I had left, and that he had not moved since. He didn't looked up at the sound of the motor, didn't look up until at all until he heard the door shut, my footsteps on the pavement.

When he did, if my heart had not already been too tired it would have broken again. He looked me as if he shouldn't be allowed. No, not even that. As if I were his executioner. I didn't think about anything , threw myself forward and onto him. He caught me easily, his strong hands changing my position almost immediately to sit sideways on his lap, his arms clutching me almost painfully tight. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, I'm sorry, please…"

"Shh, Carlisle, Carlisle, it's alright, it's alright…" My hands came up to cradle his head, lips brushing across his eyelids, his forehead, his cheeks, everything I could reach.

He let out a shuddering breath, stilled my movements with one hand against my cheek. He pulled back a fraction of an inch, enough that his pleading golden eyes could burn mine. "Please forgive me, Esme. I can beg if I have to, I deserve it. Please, love, forgive me…I can't bear it if you…" His body shuddered, his arms trying in vain to pull me closer. I was as close as I could get. "I can't bear it for you not to trust me. I'll do anything. Please."

I tightened my grip on him, buried my face into his neck, shutting my eyes. There was nothing but the feel of his body against mine, his hands on my back, his scent. "You don't have to beg. You don't have to do anything. I've always trusted you. I always will. I'm sorry I said…" I pressed my lips to his neck fervently, tasted his skin. "I was angry, hurt. I didn't mean it."

He kissed my cheek almost roughly, left his lips pressed hard against me. "I'm sorry I hurt you." The pain was so thick in his voice, so deep. I ached to take it away.

"It's alright. I promise, we're alright."

He rubbed my back slowly, constant pressure in his hands. As if I would bolt if he held me any looser. "I've never been so scared, Esme. I know I earned it, but…" He moved his lips farther down, closer to mine. "I was so afraid you wouldn't come back. That you wouldn't want me to come after you, either."

"I could never leave you. Not ever." Not for anything, no matter what he did.

So quickly I barely had time to gasp he flipped sideways and flipped us over, pinning me to the ground. It wasn't forceful, but it was desperate, the way he pressed against me, the intensity of his breath against my neck. "Please. Tell me you forgive me." He nuzzled against me, his lips brushing against my neck just under my jaw. "Please. I need to hear it."

"I forgive you, Carlisle. Of course I forgive you."

With a soft groan he brought his lips in contact with mine, kissing me as if he truly had almost lost me. I hated that he had even thought it, that I had made him feel it, but I couldn't even hate myself for very long, not with the way his mouth was moving with mine, the way his hands were starting to wander.

Everything from the past hours fell away and my hands came up to tangle in his hair, anchoring him to me. His lie, our fight, none of it mattered. He had had good intentions, I knew, and we had both learned lessons here. I knew with perfect certainty that he would never do that again, just as I knew that no matter how much I needed room to think I would never again leave him when I was angry. But at the moment, even those realizations mattered little. He pulled away only long enough to pant 'I love you' against my lips and I pulled him back down before I could even respond, too much in need of him to take the seconds it would take to answer. I told him everything in the way I kissed him, the way my hands slid down his back, pulling his shirt up to run my nails across his skin.

This, what we had, everything I could feel in this moment…there was nothing more honest, more real. This was the only thing that mattered.

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