AN: This is going to be my new longish story. Just so everyone is aware, this is pretty different than both Turning Dust into Gold and Going for the Gold, and well, everything I have written so far. I wanted to try a challenge, so here it is. I am going to try my absolute hardest to stay in canon here as well as the time period (the year this begins is 1921). If I make a mistake. . .much apologies.

The title of this comes from a song of the same name, by Bell X1, that could be written for this story. Please check out the link on my profile.

Thanks to my beta, Angel (edwardzukorocks) and Debussy-this, Starshinedown and le jen for being so supportive during the creative process.


Esme

The angry wind whipped around me, wrapping my thin cotton dress around my body. I shivered, and took the final steps towards the edge of the cliff, my heart thudding harder than I thought it would be—but I told myself it was just the importance of the moment. That despite all odds, it had finally arrived.

I wasn't scared. I wanted this. There was nothing left for me here.

The gravel crunched beneath my shoes as I took one step closer. The storm was definitely becoming stronger, and I lifted my head to the sky, relishing in the power that was greater than me, greater than anything. Soon, I would be a part of that power.

I welcomed the thought of relinquishing my weak human body and its all of its unbearable pain. I'd come here for no other reason. My imminent escape was like sugar on the back on my tongue. I'd thought I'd feel something bittersweet and painful when I got to this moment, but I'd been wrong. There was only the glory of a final victory.

Lightning shot across the sky, lighting up the yawning chasm below me, and I looked down, absorbing the details of where I'd finally be able to rest.

I wouldn't be buried in consecrated ground, and though I knew that this would upset my parents, I couldn't have cared less. In that way, and in many other ways, I supposed that made me "progressive" for my generation.

I'd wanted a career instead of just being a wife and mother.

I'd left my husband when I found I was pregnant.

I'd intended to raise my baby by myself.

And now, when deprived of that last tie to the world, I'd made a choice that would send shock waves through almost any community I'd ever been a part of. Suicide wasn't an option. It wasn't even spoken of, except in hushed, embarrassed whispers.

I had no patience with a world that didn't allow for emotion. I was sad. I didn't want to pretend otherwise. And I was so sad that I'd run out of reasons to continue on, leading a meaningless life during which I knew my grieving would never cease. I'd lost the one thing in my life that I'd ever wanted more than life itself.

This logic had brought me to the cliff tonight. And it was that logic that helped me take the step off it.


Carlisle

When they brought her in, I would have known her anywhere.

Not by her face, of course. It nearly unrecognizable.

No, I'd have known her by her scent alone.

Esme Platt.

Even if my mind had been able to let go of the name and the face, I would have remembered her. The sweetness of her smile. The golden caramel of her hair. The pull of her blood, when I'd thought I'd long left those urges behind.

Just as I remembered her, I knew that her life was going to be measured not in years, or months or even days. It was going to be measured in moments.

I looked up at the attendant who'd wheeled her in. "What happened?" My voice, almost always calm and even, had a note of hysteria to it. I didn't even recognize the sound of it coming out of my lungs, and the attendant's jaw fell.

I'd cloaked myself in humanity for so long; been so good at hiding what I really was, that the loss of control was probably doubly alarming.

"She was found at the bottom of the cliff," the attendant stammered, and apparently I was supposed to know what he meant by that.

I gestured for him to continue, hoping that not speaking would prevent his obvious and sudden terror from spreading. In this instant, with every instinct on high alert, and my mind racing, it was almost as if this man, who I'd worked with every day for three years, suddenly realized that not only was I terrifying, there was something distinctly unsettling about me.

He had no idea.

I would rip him limb to limb if he wouldn't tell me what had happened to Esme Platt. I'd never killed a human in cold blood, but I would kill this human just to find out how this sweet girl's life had nearly been taken from her.

"The cliff, Dr. Cullen. The one where people. . .sometimes. . ." he hesitated and I felt the murderous rage surge under the surface of my calm exterior.

I interrupted. "Do you understand, John, that this woman has less than probably five minutes to live unless I can find a way to save her?"

I kept my voice completely even, but I knew he could sense the emotion lurking beneath.

"Dr. Cullen. The cliff. That's where people sometimes. . .throw themselves off." John dropped to almost a complete whisper, and if I didn't have extraordinary, inhuman hearing, I would have been hard pressed to catch all of his explanation.

Looking down at Esme, I felt a surge of sympathy. Her life hadn't been snatched away. She'd thrown it away, instead. I wondered what her reasons were.

I nodded towards John, letting him know that his job was over, and he exited the room, silently, probably fearing for his life.

I didn't care. My entire attention was focused on the girl on the gurney.

She was totally motionless, her face terribly bruised and fractured. Her legs were at odd angles and I thought that her spine was broken.

As a doctor, there was very little that I could for Esme Platt. I could maybe give her some morphine, though I had a feeling that there was likely bleeding in the brain and she wasn't feeling anything.

I reached for the morphine, but as I began to push the needle into her cold, nearly lifeless flesh, I started to imagine her flesh being harder. Colder. Like marble. Like my own.

Even though I'd created Edward only a short while ago, I had centuries of thinking of myself as a lifesaver only in my role as a doctor, not a vampire.

Thinking I had totally lost my mind, I tried to bring myself to stick the morphine needle in, but again I hesitated.

I couldn't even justify my hesitation to myself. I wasn't lonely—I had Edward now. No matter that he was like a son, and this woman would hardly be like a daughter to me. I'd wanted her to be much more, since the moment I had seen her, leg broken like it was broken now.

She'd captured my attention and my imagination in a way that no woman had ever done. Leaving her behind had been excruciating and nearly impossible for me. I'd only done it because Esme had been so young and alive, with all her life in front of her. I could not justify my actions to myself. The very idea had been abhorrent.

But now?

She was literally dying in front of me. I could have her, forever, if I wanted.

And so for the second time in my life, I was selfish.

I gently, carefully, easily lifted Esme into my arms, and we were out the door within seconds, with no one the wiser. There were some benefits to being able to run as fast as I could.

I was at the cottage I shared with Edward within seconds, even though it was on the outskirts of town.

I heard him playing the piano a mile away, but when we got closer, I heard him stand up so suddenly, the bench fell to the ground behind him, shattering into a million wood fragments.

He'd read my mind and knew what I was going to do.

He was talking to me the second I opened the door.

"Carlisle! You can't do this," he yelled.

"I did it to you," I reasoned, not even stopping to speak to him, but hurrying up the stairs. Each breath of Esme's was shallower. I was losing her, and I had to get the venom in her before the last breath passed her lips. Before I was too late to save her.

I laid her reverently on my bed, and glanced behind me at Edward, who was staring, jaw dropped, at the two of us.

"Get out," I ordered harshly. "You won't be able to handle the smell."

He shut the door hard, and I heard his footsteps pounding down the stairs, probably leaving large dents in the wood. Edward still did not know his own strength.

I leaned over Esme, smelling for the last time her beautiful spicy scent and preparing myself for the difficulty of tasting her blood, yet not taking all of it.

My lips drifted over the beautiful curve of her neck, and at its most vulnerable spot, where the blood pulsed so headily beneath the surface of her cold skin, I let my teeth sink in, mixing my lethal venom with her own lifeforce.

It wasn't until that moment that I remembered that she hadn't wanted to live.

She wouldn't want to be saved.

I pulled away hard, gripping the wooden dresser so hard that the edges shattered.

The only thought that echoed through my mind was that I was the most selfish bastard I had ever known and that instead of saving Esme, I had just condemned her.