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Three Men and a Baby

by Kristen Elizabeth

You can't be envious and happy at the same time. – Frank Tyger

As far as Edward was concerned, there was not a more perfect being on earth than his daughter.

Only a matter of hours had passed since her birth, but she was already sleeping peacefully through the night. Unfortunately, the same couldn't be said of her mother. Downstairs, Bella's body was going through the excruciating change that Edward still remembered with a shudder although ninety years had passed.

He was a man torn between the need to be with his wife, even if she wasn't aware of his presence, and the desire to be with his newborn child. They both needed him for very different reasons.

But watching Bella suffer and knowing that it was his fault had become too much for him and he'd escaped to the hastily-assembled nursery where Alice had taken his daughter. The room bore the familiar decorating touch of Esme, although he honestly couldn't remember its preparation. The short amount of time between the end of their honeymoon and the baby's birth had been a new kind of hell for Edward, a purgatory of debilitating worry and crippling guilt.

And yet, somehow, the outcome of all that anxiety had been a baby, more beautiful than any who had come before her. She was a part of both him and the woman he loved, physical proof that there were miracles, even for creatures such as him.

The scent of baby powder lingered in the air as Edward reached down into the crib to touch his daughter's tiny palm. Although she didn't wake, the baby's delicate fingers immediately curled around his with a grip that surprised him.

"Strong little thing, isn't she?" Coming up behind his brother, Emmett clapped a huge hand on Edward's shoulder. "Pretty, too."

"She's so small," Edward murmured. "I didn't realize she'd be so…defenseless."

Jasper approached from the other side. "Something tells me she won't be for very long," he said, looking down into the crib. "She is, after all, your child."

"My child," his brother repeated. With a shake of his head, Edward eased his finger out of the baby's grasp. "I didn't ever imagine this." He took a step back. "I'm not even sure I can do this. Be a father?" Panic flashed across his face. "How the hell did this happen?"

"I have a pretty good idea," Emmett volunteered. At Edward's glare, he shrugged. "But I'll keep it to myself."

"This isn't your fault." Jasper's voice was calm, pacifying. "Even Carlisle didn't know this was a possibility."

"Don't do that," Edward warned his empathic brother. "I have a right to be upset and I don't need you messing with my head right now."

Emmett frowned. "Just what the hell are you upset about?"

"What am I upset about? Oh, let me think! My wife is downstairs dying because I ripped our baby from her body a few hours ago and then injected venom straight into her heart." Edward plunged his hands into his mess of tangled bronze hair. "Forgive me if I'm not handing out cigars."

His brothers exchanged a glance. "It was always going to end this way," Jasper reminded him. "Alice always saw her becoming one of us."

"But did she see this?" Edward asked, indicating the crib. His blonde brother looked away. "Did she? Jasper…tell me now. Did Alice see…"

Jasper cut him off. "No. She couldn't have. It's not something you and Bella decided to do. But you know Alice. She feels like she should have been able to warn you." He paused. "You're not the only person in this house suffering from guilt."

"He might be feeling guilty," Emmett interjected. "But I don't think it's over what you're thinking it's over, Jazz." He looked at Edward. "I think you're feeling guilty…because you don't feel all that guilty."

Edward's glare was all the confirmation Emmett needed.

"See," he went on. "You kinda got it all, don't you? I mean, you've got Bella forever now…you can't hurt her anymore. And not only that, but you've got something none of us ever will." Emmett glanced down into the crib and the sleeping child inside.

Jasper folded his arms, his Adam's apple bobbing. "You get to be a father, Edward. In the realist sense of the word."

"You get to look at this little girl and see a little bit of you and a little bit of Bella looking back," Emmett finished. "So…sorry, bro, but you're not going to get much pity from either of us." He glanced at Jasper. "Right?"

"I wouldn't have put it quite like that, but he's not wrong," Jasper said to Edward. "I'll never know what a child of Alice's and mine would look like."

But he'd imagined it. Edward could see it clearly in his brother's mind. An impossibly tiny girl with a mop of dark curls and an impish smile.

Emmett nodded. "Yeah. Rose and I used to talk about it, but it's been years. It's just too hard for her." He hesitated. "And it's not a hell of a lot of fun for me either."

In his other brother's thoughts, Edward could see a son, a strong little boy with his father's dimples and his mother's golden locks.

"It might not seem like it right now when you're still adjusting and Bella's still changing and everything seems so…out of control," Jasper said. "But you've been given a gift, Edward. And the only way we'll resent you for it is if you don't appreciate it."

Edward sank into a rocking chair on the other side of the room. With his elbows on his knees, he stared down at the hardwood floor. "It's not that I don't appreciate it. I just don't know if I'll be any good at it. Being a father," he clarified.

"Well…" Emmett glanced back into the crib. "You can't have spent most of a century with Carlisle and not have picked up a thing or two." With more care than he'd ever exercised in his life, he lifted the baby up and settled her into the crook of his arm for the short walk over to her father. "Here," he said, offering Edward his daughter. "Take her."

It took him a second, but eventually Edward reached for the little girl. She was just waking up, her dark fringe of lashes lifting from her rosy cheeks to reveal her mother's warm brown eyes.

"I thought I'd never get to see these eyes again if Bella became like us," he confessed. With one finger, he stroked his daughter's petal-soft cheek. "Renesmee…"

Jasper arched an eyebrow. "Are we sure Bella really meant to name her that? She was in an awful lot of pain."

"Nah, I think it works somehow," Emmett said. "One of a kind name for a one of a kind kid."

"Edward." Carlisle appeared at the nursery door, pausing for a second to take in the sight of his sons hanging out in a very pink, very frilly nursery. He couldn't help but smile just a bit. "Bella's calling for you. It might help her some…if you were with her."

Immediately, Edward was on his feet, carefully passing the baby to the man who he'd long considered his father. He was out the door within seconds, on his way to his wife's side.

"She won't even know he's there," Jasper said with half-smile. "And you know it."

"Grandpa," Emmett added, winking.

Carlisle settled back into the rocker Edward had just vacated and lifted the baby to his shoulder where she quickly fell back asleep. "Actually, I was hoping to talk to you two alone." While gently rubbing his granddaughter's back, Carlisle looked back and forth between his adopted sons. "But I can see my worries were unfounded. You both seem to be handling this well."

"Hey, I'm not going to lie," Emmett said. "There's a part of me not so deep down that wants to hit something really hard. 'Cause it just doesn't seem fair, you know?"

"I know," Carlisle murmured. "Oh, do I know."

Jasper slipped his hands into the pockets of his dark Armani pants. "We laid it all out for him. He knows what he's got and how lucky he is to have it."

"End of story," Emmett summed up. "No hard feelings."

"One of the advantages of becoming a parent the way I did as opposed to the way Edward has is that I got to choose my children." Carlisle smiled. "And I chose well, if I do say so myself."

Twenty minutes later, when Esme came looking for her husband, she found him alone in the nursery, still cradling Bella and Edward's daughter on his chest, rocking slowly back and forth while humming a minstrel lullaby from his youth.

She didn't need Edward's abilities to see into Carlisle's thoughts. They would be a mirror of her own: a vision of a little boy or girl, it didn't matter which, with caramel-colored locks and wide, curious eyes.

Esme left before he noticed her and went in search of her daughters.