A Silent Longing

The echo of his own steps hung in the air as Carlisle walked along the long corridors, his white lab coat billowing behind him. He adjusted his pace to equal the walk of a human being in a hurry. Even though it was remarkably more silent than during daytime, the hospital never slept. Carlisle had worked overtime again. This was the reverse side of the satisfaction he found in his job, of his devotion to studying the human body, the beauty of which, to him, lied in its contradictory ways. A human body is so fragile, so breakable, and yet it is capable of repairing so much, of displaying a marvellous healing process. Carlisle didn't usually intend to work overtime but since he did not tire the way his human colleagues did, he often simply lost track of time.

Suddenly Carlisle caught sight of the figure of a beloved one. It was a figure he had explored countless times, he knew its every valley, every hill by now. Despite this he knew he would never tire of studying it with his eyes, hands, lips. The woman must have heard him approaching but her reaction was so subtle that it was easy to miss: just lips curved into a hint of smile. She was standing by a window, arms wrapped around herself.

"Esme, darling, what brings you here?" Carlisle gently whispered in her ear, placing his hands on her waist, breathing in her scent.

"I came to demand they release my husband because his shift ended hours ago", she replied and leaned against him.

"I'm sorry, I lost…."

"Track of time", Esme completed. "I know."

She pushed his hands off and turned around to face him, sighing in response to the sheepish grin on Carlisle's lips.

"I'll make it up to you. I promise", Carlisle offered, tenderly combing her caramel-coloured hair with his fingers. He hated to have kept her waiting so long that she had come looking for him. He looked at her, waiting, but her eyes did not reflect a thing: she seemed absent-minded, lost in thought.

"Aren't they beautiful?" Esme spoke after a moment of silence, playing with the buttons of Carlisle's coat. Her voice was slightly husky, pained. Carlisle looked over the top of her head into a dimly lit room where newborn babies slept, happily unaware of unfamiliar eyes watching and of reactions their presence evoked in a woman who had once lost her own child.

"Yes, they are", he agreed. Sensing her pain, he wrapped his arms around her, pulling her closer for an embrace.

"I like to think I would have been a good mother to him", Esme said quietly. "We had so little time together… I would have done anything to save him. Anything."

"I'm sure you would have been an amazing mother to him, like you are to our adopted children", Carlisle whispered back, unarmed before her painful memory. Lacking words comforting enough, he let his hand move up and down her back, caressing. He would do anything for Esme, and he knew she would do anything for him, but this was beyond his powers. He could not awaken the dead. He could not give immortality if there was no one left to receive it.

"Carlisle?" she mumbled against his chest.

"Yes?"

"Have you ever thought of what our child would be like?"

"I try not to", he answered after careful consideration. He was aware of her longing that rarely reminded of its presence but that was always there in the background, would always be. He did not want to attempt to destroy it nor did he want to encourage her to hold on to false hopes. He looked down to meet Esme's gaze, a heartbreaking mixture of love and sadness. He pressed a light kiss on her smooth forehead.

"Let's go home", he said, gently yet firmly taking her hand in his.