And So The Rain Fell Down
Edward sighed, "Esme, please. You're going to give me a heart attack."
I jerked out of my thoughts, blinking rapidly. Then, realizing what he must have heard out of my mind, I sighed in defeat, "Sorry dear."
For the past few moments my mind had been in overdrive. It was six am and Carlisle hadn't come home. It had been over three hours since his shift at the hospital was due to end. I had been pacing the living room since then, my eyes never leaving the maliciously slow clock. Edward had taken to sitting on the couch, watching and worrying over me.
He rolled his eyes, "I am not worrying over you."
I raised an eyebrow at him, noting quite clearly the slight crease in his brow and the hesitation in his posture.
"I'm trying to make sure you don't do something hasty in your worry," he looked at me intently, "the way your thoughts are going I wouldn't be surprised if you started planning a visit to the hospital to drag him home yourself. And we both know how disastrous that would be."
I grimaced, he was all too right. I was hardly over a year and a half old, and the scent of blood was still too strong for me to resist. If I went anywhere near a human – let along a building full of bleeding sick ones – I'd probably transform into a heartless monster, and kill more people than I could ever forgive myself for. It would not be pretty.
"Too right it wouldn't," Edward agreed with my thoughts, "so let's just be calm and know he'll show up soon."
"Will he?" I looked at Edward with desperate, unconcealed worry in my eyes.
"He will," Edward glanced at the clock, "Carlisle is often late. He works hard, and never leaves anyone who still needs help. There was probably just a car accident or something and the hospital was short on staff."
His words made sense, but they didn't ease the immense worry and loneliness sewn tightly into my chest. I sighed and perched on the edge of Edward's piano bench, burying my face into my hands.
It wasn't just that I was worried for Carlisle's well being – which was completely absurd considering he was all but invincible to everything – I also had an odd, unnamable sense of hopelessness whenever he left. It was as though my heart was ripped out and pinned to his doctor's coat until I saw him again. It was very . . . strange for me to feel so deeply attached to someone that it physically hurt for them to leave.
"It's called love, Esme," Edward spoke wearily from the couch, "I've told you time and time again. You are both hopelessly, madly in love."
I raised my head, not allowing his words to process in my head. I spoke to distract myself, "How would you know, Edward? Were you ever in love?"
"No," Edward spoke softly, but abruptly, "I was never in love. You are both, quite simply, ridiculously obvious with both your minds and actions."
I ducked my head again, "If that's true, then I've been in love since I was sixteen."
Edward was silent, either not knowing how to respond or simply choosing not to. I sighed, my heart was now a jumbled mixture of confusion, longing, fear, worry, and frustration. Why wasn't he home and why was I so against the idea of falling in love with him? "Because he won't have you . . ." a smooth, smirking voice whispered in the back of my head, sounding remarkably like my human husband, Charles Evenson. Inwardly, I shivered.
Charles was still a frequent nightmare for me. I knew that the fear of him would never leave me – it was too ingrained in my every thought, every movement. However maybe the right person could quiet that voice . . .
No, Carlisle didn't love me that way. He was young and compassionate and charming and whole. I was broken.
The years of abuse and belittlement had truly hurt me. His every shun or insult or hit had wormed its way into my very soul, festering and growing until I cracked. The pieces were badly taped back together, gaping holes still visible through the transparency. How could I be loved? People don't love the lingering wreckage of a devastating crash. They pick it up and put it out of sight, away from happy eyes. That was what I deserved. Carlisle didn't need me to soil his blessed existence.
Charles had told me I was worthless, that I was a waste of air and space that deserved nothing more than punishment. My good deeds were overlooked, my few mistakes magnified and exaggerated. He would hit me until I couldn't breathe, shout out curses and threats until I couldn't take anymore. I would shut down, removed from reality as my body endured the pain. Through my blank eyes I always saw Carlisle – the only light in my impenetrable darkness.
Now, that light was turned a different way. He knew me, sure, but he didn't love me. I was wholly unlovable.
"Esme," Edward groaned, "please, you're hurting me. I can't stand to hear you like this."
Surprised, I glanced at him. I often forgot about his mind-reading abilities, especially when I was swept away by thoughts of a particular emotion. Even so, everything I had thought was true.
"No," Edward immediately disagreed with my thoughts, "Esme, you are under a completely absurd misconception. You are not broken, and you certainly aren't unlovable. Do you have any idea how people – especially Carlisle – see you?"
I shook my head, a skeptic expression clear upon my face. Charles had told me I was a worthless wretch, and as his wife I was due to listen, trust, and believe him.
Edward's voice was gentle as he spoke, "Esme, when I first saw you I was sure you were the strongest person I'd ever met. To have been through so much and still be able to trust and love," he shook his head, "you have fire in you. That monster may have tamped it down, but the embers remained. You will have that fire burn strong again – I know it."
I looked at him, his impossibly youthful face so innocent, too naïve to speak the words he had spoken. His eyes were young, careless, betraying the wisdom that filled his soul. He was so wrong and yet . . . so right at the same time.
But it didn't matter. Whether or not Carlisle could ever love me was inconsequential if he didn't come home.
"Not inconsequential," Edward's face pulled up into a sudden half smile, "no need to worry anymore Esme, I can hear him. He'll be here in three minutes."
My heart leapt up, but was quickly yanked back down by the sinewy black strands of doubt and hopelessness that constantly ensnared the organ. Today would be like any other day – me repressing the urge to love him while he dazzled me. No matter what he did, I was entranced.
"Uh-oh," Edward's brow furrowed. He was listening to something I would never be able to hear, his eyes looking intently at the Eastern wall.
"What's wrong?" I asked softly.
Edward sighed and turned back to me, "It's Carlisle. He's a little . . . upset."
"Why?" I asked, doing my best to mask the wild concern I felt.
"You'll need to talk to him," Edward's face was worried as he looked at me, "he wouldn't listen to me, not about this. He needs you."
I felt a flicker of happiness weave its way through my worry and concern for Carlisle. "He needs you." Carlisle needed me. That alone brightened the shadows surrounding my heart, although the fear for Carlisle's well being greatly eclipsed it all.
Not thirty seconds later the door swung quietly open. I turned my head immediately, watching as the handsomest man in the entire universe stepped inside and shut the door behind him. His eyes were sad, his body weighted down by some unknown depression. As Edward and I watched silently he hung up his doctors coat and turned towards us.
"I'm going to go for a walk," he spoke softly, not looking at either of us, "I'll be back later."
Edward nodded while I just watched, helplessly. Where had the real Carlisle gone? The light, happy, young man who didn't allow troubles to bother other people? I was almost sick with worry.
He turned around and slipped out the door again, the soft click echoing in the empty room. I sat in silence for a moment, too full of concern and pain to speak.
"Go, Esme," Edward spoke finally, recognizing my shock, "he'll be at the lake four miles north of here. He doesn't realize it, but you're the best thing for him right now."
I nodded and stood up, adjusting my loose white dress slightly. It was summery, entirely unsuitable for dreary October mornings, but I didn't really care. I hadn't the need to worry about temperature anymore.
"Should I wait?" I hesitated, not wanting to make it feel like I was stalking the poor doctor.
"No," Edward smiled slightly, "he's already past my hearing. I'm guessing he's there."
"Alright," I moved towards the door, "I'll do the best I can. Thank you Edward."
His words followed me as I stepped out into the cloudy morning, "Trust yourself, Esme. You have more power than you could possibly imagine."
I shut the door behind me, walking quickly down the steps into the graying day. The skies were bloated, perfectly cloudy for an upstate New York morning in October. The moisture pressed down on me, magnifying the worry I felt for Carlisle. I sighed, breathing in the sweet air and the smell of the pine trees. Today was all too beautiful of a day for the anxiety I felt.
I looked northwards and began moving faster, eventually full out running. The wind whipped my hair and my dress, making me feel far more alive than the undead should. The glory of the speed was enticing, but it couldn't brighten my heart. Right now, all I could focus on was Carlisle.
Whatever could have happened to make him behave so? It must have been something terrible, for Carlisle did not become upset easily. In the year and a half I had been living with him, he'd never shown one sign of distress. All of his days were light and happy, his calm demeanor spreading through everyone. I knew something was very wrong right now.
I heard the lapping of the waves of the lake before I saw anything. Slowing down, I watched carefully for a glimmer of the choppy surface so that I didn't run right into it. Here, the forests traveled right to the edge of the water, leaving no warning of the imminent wetness. On one hand it was irritating, but on the other hand it magnified the beauty of it all. Everything was so hidden, so . . . secluded. It was beautiful.
Stepping silently through the trees I caught a flash of golden hair. Turning my head quickly I saw him, standing on the edge of the lake with his back to me. His head was bent, his hands shoved deep into his pockets. I caught my breath.
Unsure where I got the courage, I suddenly found myself directly behind him. He hadn't noticed me yet, too caught up in his thoughts as he was. Unthinkingly I reached out a hand and lightly touched his shoulder, "Carlisle?"
He started, turning around so quickly he was a blur. His eyes were full of wild emotion, none of which I could place. Then, it all faded, the depression returning to his sad face, "I'm sorry Esme. I should have known you'd come."
"Should have known?" I was confused. Did he believe I followed him everywhere?
He smiled half-heartedly, "You always help people in need."
I relaxed slightly, my eyes never leaving his. He looked right back, unashamed for me to see all the sorrow and self-doubt lingering within the entrancing gold. I stopped breathing, drowning in his sadness.
"You need help," I whispered. It was a statement, not a fact as I stared straight at him.
He looked away, turning sideways so he could see the lake. I stayed where I was, my eyes never leaving his face.
"I'm not sure," he admitted, his voice quiet to the point of being inaudible, "I don't know what I need."
"Tell me," I stepped closer to him, "you can trust me, Carlisle. Let me help you."
He glanced at me, taking in the young vampire standing before him. Compared to him I was nothing but a little girl, too young and naïve to understand anything. And yet I always felt Carlisle didn't consider me beneath him, that he considered me an equal. I could see the conflict in his eyes as he debated with himself; to keep it all inside or let me hear him out.
He sighed and turned farther away, his eyes looking out over the lake. I felt my dead heart leap up as he began speaking, but controlled it as I listened to his every word, "Today was a difficult one at the hospital, Esme. Sometimes . . . sometimes I forget the horrors that can occur in this world. So when they do happen, I'm . . . affected."
I listened, not speaking yet. I knew all he needed right now was for me to stay silent, allowing him to get his bit out in the open.
"There was a domestic incident hardly five minutes before my shift was due to end. A young woman, almost eight months pregnant, was brought in on a stretcher. Her heart was hardly a beating, a result of," he hesitated, glancing swiftly at me again, "a result of her husband throwing her out of a two story window."
I took a sharp intake of breathe, a million images quickly flickering through my mind like lightening. Charles, screaming when I accidentally dropped his wine. Charles, slapping me so hard I flew five feet into a wall. Charles, sneering as he threw the china at me in a drunken rage . . .
I closed my eyes; doing everything I could to block the images. Gradually they slowed, allowing me to unclench my fists and relax my tense shoulders. Once I was sure I was under control, I opened my eyes again.
Carlisle had moved closer, his face barely a foot away from my own. His eyes held nothing but concern as he gazed at me, as if searching for an answer. I just blinked, allowing him to look through me and see that I was all right.
"A neighbor saw the whole thing, and called for help as soon as she could," Carlisle looked down again once he had reassured himself that I was fine, "it was obvious there was no hope for the poor woman, but they thought the child might live. The husband was nowhere to be found.
"You couldn't – you couldn't imagine the horror I felt when I saw her," Carlisle suddenly closed his eyes, his hands balling into tight fists, "it was as though I was seeing you all over again. Esme Evenson brought before me, all hope lost for the young mother. I very nearly lost it."
My eyes were wide as I listened; shocked that he felt so much from my story. He shouldn't have had to feel for me, I was fine now. But this woman . . .
"I did everything I could to save her, and the baby," Carlisle's voice was quiet, his entire body still rigid, "but I couldn't stop what was already set in stone. The baby's heartbeat faded quickly, the mother's soon after. It was . . . horrible."
Carlisle opened his eyes again, glaring at the ground, "The husband showed up an hour after they had died. He was so drunk he couldn't walk straight, and started celebrating when he heard of their passing. He shouted something about not being tied down anymore, and not having to pay for it. It took all I had not to kill him right then and there."
Surprised, and utterly horrified by what I was hearing, I wrapped my arms around myself. This situation was all too familiar to my ears – it was my life played all over again. Except my baby had been born before dying, and Charles hadn't actually thrown me off the cliff. However, above all else, Carlisle's words stunned me, he was never a violent person.
"He was escorted off of the hospital grounds. The woman and her child had arrangements set to be buried in the hospital cemetery; the husband is refusing to claim them or pay for their funerals."
The words echoed around the space, wrapping around me like a suffocating chokehold. Carlisle was still tense, his eyes looking away from me. It was as if he had let loose a storm, and was now preparing for it to fall all back down upon him again. I couldn't, wouldn't let that happen.
"Carlisle," I whispered, shocking myself when I moved forward and reached up to stroke his cheek. His eyes opened in surprise, but he didn't move, "it wasn't your fault."
He took a shaky breath, and looked up at me with anguished eyes, "It wasn't just her though, that made me so upset. It was the idea that all of that, all of the abuse and neglect, all of it happened to you."
I looked away, letting my hand fall down. I didn't want to even think about what had happened to me as a human. However, before I could even react, Carlisle had caught my hand.
My eyes traveled upwards slowly in astonishment, eventually reaching his face. His hand enveloped my own as he looked at me, his eyes so intense and pain filled it hurt to look at him. I could feel the emotion radiating away from him, coursing through my very veins. Above all else I was aware of his hand, of the cool safety it spread through my own.
"Esme, you don't understand," Carlisle's voice was so soft I could barely hear it, "I couldn't bear the idea of anything like that happening to you. And the idea that it's happening all over the world, everywhere, it just too . . ."
"It's too much to bear," I finished quietly, understanding all too well what he was feeling.
"Exactly," he squeezed my hand sadly.
I looked at him, and he looked at me. I was suddenly very aware of his hand, of his closeness, of his wonderful, intoxicating smell. If I had a heart it would have been in overdrive, beating so quickly I would have fainted. It was as though a warm heavy fog was seeping through me, making me focus on him and only him.
In a movement so unlike me, so unlike anything I had ever done or been raised to do, I pressed myself against him and wrapped my arms around his waist, momentarily giving up his hand.
My head hardly reached his chin, so I couldn't see his expression. All I knew was as I hugged myself to his icy, sculpture like perfection, his arms wound their way around me as well. He held me close, tightly against his chest. It was as though I was the only thing he could hold onto in a blinding storm, emotions swirling so quickly he didn't know what to do with them. I didn't move or breathe; I simply closed my eyes against his navy button-up shirt. I had been dreaming of doing this since I was sixteen.
"Will you be alright?" I murmured, not moving a centimeter as I stayed as close to him as I could.
"I don't know," I felt him sigh as he let go, "I don't know. I'm not sure how I'll ever be alright knowing exactly what happened to you, and to other people."
He didn't step back, simply let his arms go and looked at me, his eyes full of pain. I sighed, "Carlisle, there is good in everything. Even the most vile, cruel acts on earth have some good hidden within them."
He looked at me skeptically.
"If Charles hadn't been the way he was," I ignored Carlisle's brief stiffen at the name, "I would never have been so depressed. If I hadn't have been so depressed, I wouldn't have jumped. If I hadn't of jumped, I would never have met you," my voice broke slightly at the end, "and that would have been more unbearable than anything in the world."
He looked staggered, shocked at my words. I didn't bother to let him speak, simply going on ahead with my confession, "Carlisle, you have no idea what you had meant to me all those years. I always imagined you during my darkest moments, because I knew that you were the kind of person that would protect me and never hurt me. You were the only thing that got me through that.
"And then, when I awoke from the worst physical pain I had ever encountered, it was you that I first saw. Don't you see? You were always the light in my darkness," I took a shaky breath.
"Oh Esme," Carlisle breathed slightly, his eyes full of another unnamable emotion. He seemed to be conflicted with something inside, all of his emotions battling for who knew what. He spoke in hardly more than a whisper, "I'm sorry I couldn't have saved you."
I shook my head, "When I was sixteen I had a life ahead of me. You had no idea what would become of me, or what would become of my outlook on life. You absolutely cannot blame yourself for that."
"Still," he hesitated slightly, "just the idea of what that man did to you. What he could have done to you," Carlisle shuddered, "it makes me sick to my core."
"I know," I reached up to stroke his hair, not thinking twice about it. What had come over me? "I know."
He closed his eyes, allowing me to softly move his blonde locks away from his beautiful face. With my other hand I reached for his, softly holding his fingers with my own. I had no control of myself, I had no idea where all this was coming from. Yet at the same time, he wasn't pulling away . . .
Suddenly his other hand shot up, ensnaring mine. I inhaled quickly, surprised. He slowly lowered my hand, opening his eyes at the same time. They were smoldering.
He held both my hands in his own, his face barely inches away from me. I looked up at him through my eyelashes, a few waves of hair blowing across my face. I could feel the wind picking up, feel the rain that was ready to fall, feel the sun fighting fruitlessly from behind the clouds. But all of it faded away as I stared into his eyes, speaking to him in a language clearer than any that involved words.
Neither of us was visibly moving, but the distance between us was somehow becoming less and less. Sound faded away, the lake disappeared all together, I was aware of nothing but his hands and his presence . . .
When his lips met mine, my heart broke free of any strands of doubt that had ever tangled it up. It rocketed towards space, sending waves of sweet pleasure and warmth throughout my entire body. He was soft as he gently kissed my bottom lip, his thumbs tracing circles around the backs of my hands. I gave into it, melting into his every move, his every curve.
He kissed my bottom lip, the corners of my lips, and finally my forehead; each time sending little sparks throughout my nerves. I just let him, pressing into his body and his hands.
"Esme," he sighed as he drew away. I stood on my tip toes and kissed his lips, silencing whatever he was about to say. He was still for a moment, and then moved his mouth back against mine, his every move slow and sweet. I was as close to him as I could possibly get, my fingers entwined with his. Nothing existed but him.
"I've been in love with you since I was sixteen, Carlisle," I whispered against him, "it was all I ever had."
He let go of my hands and wrapped his arms around me, stroking my long wavy hair, "I've loved you for nearly as long," I heard him smile, "I just didn't know it."
We simply stood there on the edge of that gray lake, me ensnared tightly and contently into his icy, stone arms. His breathing was slow, steady as he held me, my head turned towards the forest. It was peaceful and beautiful as we each processed what had happened, every sound seeming that much happier and brighter.
"Will you be alright now?" I asked softly, leaning back slightly to look at him.
He smiled down at me, the familiar gentleness and warmth seeping through my soul, "I believe I will. Thank you, Esme."
I smiled, and answered by standing on my tiptoes and kissing him once more, enveloping his cool lips with my own. He held me as he gently kissed my bottom lip, sparking emotions through me that I could never have possibly felt before. Finally, after eleven years, my dreams of him being mine, and my being his had come true. He cupped the back of my head as he kissed me, helping support my short frame.
The wind whipped around us, the rain began to fall, and still he kissed me. The moment was swept away into a beautiful chaos, our cold bodies becoming soaked as we pressed together. My dress clung to me, my hair fell in soggy strands down my back. I entwined my hands into his wet, golden hair, disallowing anything to come between us. I was staking my claim, and I was doing it well.
"Finally, I know what love is," he whispered against my neck. The rain fell down, the wind swept through, and we stayed by the lake. Time stood still, the storm danced angrily through, but I held onto his hand. I could stay like this forever.