Disclaimer: I am not Stephenie Meyer, these are not my characters.
About: This story takes place almost immediately after Alice and Jasper join the Cullens, but strictly before Forks. It is a series of (mostly) disconnected chapters that chronicle different events in that time span, focusing on different characters and different points of view. The chapter title will be the indication of who's speaking ;) Without further ado - hope you enjoy Cullen Moments.

Chapter 1: Esme Referees

It is really something else to be the mother figure to a family full of vampires. Mind-reading, future-seeing, constantly bickering teenage vampires. When I lost my baby, I never expected to have any more reason to live. The pain, the absolute emptiness flooded my consciousness and consumed me. I wanted nothing more in this world than to die. But Carlisle refused to let me go, and I would be eternally grateful. Now I had six reasons to live, and to live forever. I never imagined I would be so lucky. I never imagined that the light at the end of my somber tunnel was this immortal life.

Of course, being the matriarch wasn't always a walk in the park.

"Esme!" I heard Alice's shrill voice carry easily throughout our two-story house, wondering why she was screaming so that every being in the house and probably within a mile radius could hear her. There was an irritated undertone in her words, but she sounded more excited than anything. "Esme, come quick!"

I was downstairs, standing close to our old piano. The pretense was that I was fixing up some of the wilted roses in the vase nearby, but in reality I just loved to see as well as hear Edward playing. He was letting his fingers dance over the keys lightly, playing a sweet tune composed just for me. His eyes would sometimes close and he would lose himself in the music, letting his oftentimes quiet heart speak. My first son – as I would always think of him – already had a small smile on his face, and I knew he was inwardly laughing at whatever antics his siblings were up to this time.

He opened his eyes and gave me a faint nod, but kept on playing, keeping his eyes focused on the keys though there was no need. With a sigh I put down the rose in hand and flitted upstairs, arriving outside Alice's door roughly five seconds after she had first called me.

Her impatient voice greeted me by opening the door and shushing me in, closing it behind her. "Come in, come in. What took you so long?"

I didn't bother to answer, instead taking in the scene before me. Alice was standing anxiously a few steps from the door, bouncing on the balls of her feet. Even in her short, jerky moments she looked like she was dancing – how she did it, I was never sure. Emmett was standing across the room, arms crossed across his chest and a spectacular childish scowl on his face. I immediately recognized the stubborn posture.

The television was on, nearly muted. I had been hearing the hum of it earlier, but hadn't bothered to listen to what these two were actually watching. Right now it was showing what appeared to be the final stages of a baseball game. The score on the set was five and two, though I didn't recognize the team initials. I could already sense what this would be about.

"Emmett won't pay up," Alice immediately told me, looking more than a little smug. "We bet on the outcome of the game, and now he refuses to admit he lost."

I couldn't help but roll my eyes. Emmett was the one who always wanted to bet, with nearly everything and everyone. It didn't help matters that he was so competitive, always wanting to win. And it certainly didn't help that Alice had the ability to see the future. His booming voice echoed in the medium sized room, more than a little annoyed. "She cheated. Obviously. Why should I pay her?"

"Because you lost! It's not my fault you didn't believe me earlier. Now – Pay. Up."

Alice held out her tiny hand to Emmett, not looking the least bit threatening. Emmett's large form towered over her, both in height and breadth. The tips of her spiky hair just about reached his chest. It was almost comical to watch, were they not been two very powerful vampires. That made it just a little dangerous, not for anyone here, but for my antique home. I had no choice but to intervene. "Emmett, house rules. If you make a bet you have to follow through. Abilities involved or not."

The golden eyes that had been trying to stare down Alice flickered to me, and I could detect the slightest slump in his shoulders. From downstairs, Edward's music swelled, picking up a quicker, merrier melody. And then, quite abruptly, it stopped, at the same time that Alice let her hand drop. Her face was completely blank, her eyes seeing something none of us – minus Edward – would ever understand.

There was an entire half second of silence.

Suddenly Alice grinned from ear to ear, turning around and meeting my eyes with an excited expression characteristic only of her. "Oh, there isn't any time for this! There's been a slight change in the weather patterns. A storm is blowing in tonight!" That only meant one thing, of course, and I didn't need to be Edward to know what my tiny daughter was planning. "There's no time to waste, I need to start picking out my uniform. And you- " she turned with a stern look to Emmett, who hadn't moved. "You had better pay up by my next shopping trip." By the time she finished speaking she had already flitted behind him, giving him a good shove towards the door before turning to her jammed closet.

Downstairs, Edward resumed his playing, resuming his lighter, upbeat tempo. I couldn't help but laugh at Emmett's torn expression, somewhere between excited and frustrated, before I returned downstairs. Tonight we would be playing ball.

Several hours later, the whole family was lined up at the edge of a large clearing about an hour's run from our home. The ground was somewhat rocky but on the whole it was pretty flat, just wide enough to serve as our baseball field. The edges were lined with sparse trees and shrubs, which got thicker as the terrain got higher. It was nighttime, but this only enriched the colors of the foliage and surrounding area, tinting everything in dark blues and greens. The storm clouds were just starting to thunder overhead, right on cue.

Alice was in front of us, tiny hands on tiny hips. Jasper was in line right across from her, with Rosalie and Emmett on one side, me to the other. Carlisle stood on my other side, his hand securely in my own. He had gotten home from the hospital just over an hour ago, working double shifts for the third time this week. The hours were demanding, but he often said he was the only one who could work so long without losing the quality of his treatment. I never reprimanded him, but inwardly I always felt like I was craving more time with him. Even though we spent every night together, it never seemed to be enough. I just loved him too much, more than I even thought should be possible. But how could I not? Besides being amazingly compassionate, he was also caring, knowledgeable, and extremely handsome…

Edward cleared this throat, sparing me a quick glance before stepping forward to stand next to Alice. They were choosing the teams, if only because the general consensus tonight was that they should not be allowed on the same one. 'Too much cheating,' Emmett said bitterly.

Alice was the one to speak first, her voice seeming particularly high-pitched over the rolling thunder. "Jasper, over here please."

That wasn't any surprise. Those two were on the same team more often than not. Edward followed closely after, speaking while casually spinning and twirling a bat in one hand. "Emmett."



My husband was the last to be called, and I held on to his hand for one lingering eighth of a second before letting him walk to where Edward and Emmett were already standing. The bases were already marked, with the home plate within five feet of us. The pitcher's mound was raised far in the distance, and that was where Emmett immediately ran. Edward and Carlisle followed suit but kept running into the outfield; Edward took left, Carlisle a closer to infield right, and they shared the center.

Alice, Jasper, and Rosalie were already by the pile of equipment, preparing to bat. I took my place behind the home plate, the unannounced catcher for both teams and referee. It was the position I always volunteered for, despite the fact that any one of them would offer to trade for a game. I liked keeping them fair.

"Batter up," I called back, and without any delay Rosalie shifted to step in front of me. Looking at her, anyone might think that she was the perfect lady, delicate and innocent. But to see and hear her when she was with the family would disrupt that notion. Rose was one of the most competitive, and these were the times she demonstrated it.

"Think you can even get it this far?" she called out to Emmett, her husband of several years. Those two were certainly an odd couple, more in temperament than physical appearance. They were opposites in every sense of the word, and yet they fit together perfectly.

Emmett let out a loud laugh, standing ready, ball in hand on the pitcher's mound. His mood had significantly improved with the prospects of a real baseball game, and a new bet on it to make up for the old one. "Better watch what you say Rose, you know I don't go easy on you," he called out. He didn't wait for an answer, going through an exaggerated windup before shooting a zooming fastball straight at home plate and Rosalie.

The collision between bat and ball let out a thundering crack, followed by the sharp whistling of the ball cutting through the air and deep into center field. Rosalie took off towards first base, and the game began.

They certainly weren't pulling any punches tonight. Emmett hurled fastball after fastball, and went particularly hard on Alice. Edward and Carlisle were excellent outfielders, though evenly matched with Alice, Rose, and Jasper. There were thundering collisions, stolen bases followed by a round of taunts, and at one point the bat in Jasper's hands completely shattered with the force of Emmett's pitch. I had to make several calls on home plate, and also tone down the occasional cheating on both sides – mostly Emmett trying to hide things from my ever-watchful eyes. The score climbed slowly but surely on both sides, favoring Alice's team, much to the other's chagrin.

As I watched them playing through the night, I could not help but be filled with a deep appreciation for my family. My husband, my children. I was filled with a love so deep, so pure, that I couldn't find the appropriate words for it. Any I could think of seemed weak, insufficient. I just loved.

I still don't understand how I could ever be so lucky.

author's note: If you have been waiting for this story, I am terribly sorry to have delayed this first chapter so long. My writing muse ran away with my graphics muse, and they came back with a WoW baby. Talk about distracting!

I'm also sorry in advance if there are grammatical/spelling errors, I did not get a chance to proofread as well as I would have liked. Feel free to call me on it. I think that's all I've got for now. Read, review, let me know what you think. And if you've got any ideas for future chapters, let me know :)