For all of us too tired or too whatever to go to a midnight DVD release party... have some Carlisle/Esme angstyfluff! :D This is the final chapter unless a magical blast of inspiration unexpectedly hits. I mean, I think we all know where the story goes from here... I have a Christmas fic that could kind of be a sequel, but I think I'll save that one till December, when we're all in post-New-Moon-premiere depression. ;) But anyway.

Thanks so much for reading!


"Esme, dearest, I'm so, so sorry," Carlisle whispered as he stood over me.

That was my first memory, after I stepped off the cliff. The beautiful face of my vampire lover, gazing down at me in immense sadness. I had, at that point, no recollection of the fall itself or even the pain of the impact. I had already essentially lost my mind before I set out on my last walk, and I was no more cognizant simply because of Carlisle's presence. Although I did have one conviction.

I was actually quite certain that I had died.

Yes, of that, I was rather confident. There was no feeling on this earth like the one I experienced as I gazed at the perfect face above my bed. Carlisle's blonde hair was silhouetted by the light, and his eyes seemed to glow against the stark white background. I didn't know where I had come from or where I was going, but that concerned me hardly at all. I had moved on beyond this earth. Everything felt numb from my legs down, which didn't seem so odd, as dazed as I was.

The only thing that perplexed me was the despair that rested on my chest like a dead weight. You weren't supposed to feel that after you had died, right? At least, not if you went to heaven. And this had to be heaven, or why would Carlisle have been there?

And if he was really there beside me, his words made no sense.

'…so, so sorry…'

There was no logic or reason behind why Carlisle would tell me he was sorry for anything, but I wanted him to apologize again, over and over. His voice was so beautiful. What could I say, what could I ask, to make him speak again?

"If this is heaven, why does everything hurt so much?" I murmured, asking the only question that came to mind. "And how can you and I both be so sad?"

I could hear him sigh deeply and I thought felt his cold hand close over mine. But the temperature didn't feel that different to me – not as much as before.

"It's not heaven," he whispered. "If it were, I certainly wouldn't deserve to be here. Not after all I've put you through."

"You?" I asked, still unaware of what had happened. I still couldn't remember Carlisle wronging me, but if he had, I couldn't imagine that I would care.

"Yes, me," he replied, his lovely voice becoming more and more intense. "All of the tribulations you sustained were my fault entirely. Every single one of them. And don't try to tell me otherwise."

"Stop talking nonsense," I whispered. In retrospect, I imagine that it was quite ironic to hear my drowsy, slurred voice condemning nonsense. "You're perfect."

"Don't talk to me about perfection!" Carlisle said, looking away. I tried to lift my left hand, my free hand, to touch his cheek. But I found that I could not.

"There's something wrong with me," I said, giving him an imploring gaze. "Something bad happened."

"You're right," he replied guardedly. "That's what brought me here."

Then something occurred to me.

"I'm still alive," I mumbled. "But… I'm dying."

I knew even then that those words should have filled me with some kind of fear or regret, but I couldn't manage that. It was simply a fact, and one that I was incapable of changing. The one thing that troubled me was the idea that in mere hours – minutes, maybe – Carlisle wouldn't be with me anymore. I would have gone somewhere else and left the one man I loved behind. Was there anything I could do to keep that from happening?

"Carlisle, die with me," I implored. It was a useless thing to ask, but I was beyond caring whether or not I made sense.

He paused, his expression becoming uncertain.

"I can't do that," he replied slowly. "But I can ask you to die with me. It's a question I've wanted to ask since the day we met. I ran away from it, back then. I avoided you for over a decade, despite how it hurt."

His words still didn't make any sense, but I thought that it might just be me. I was steadily losing consciousness; I could tell.

"I would have done anything, given anything," I said, fighting the drowsiness I felt. "I don't care. What could possibly be wrong enough to keep us apart for so long?"

"I couldn't tell you then. And I knew if I stayed with you, I would have to. I would have to make you like me, and that was a sacrifice I couldn't imagine. I fought for a long time. Finally, I thought I had matured enough to be able to resist you and visit you in the hospital, but I almost went through with it then, too. I had to run away again."

"You're not leaving this time," I told him with certainty, maintaining my hopelessly firm grip on his hand.

"I have to," he replied. "But this time, I'm taking you with me."

I had blinked the tears away enough that Carlisle's face – and the tortured expression it held – finally came back into focus.

"Take me," I whispered.

That's the last thing I remember saying before I felt his lips close on my throat in the most tender of kisses. My entire body relaxed, and my pulse begin to speed up.

So this is what it felt like… to be kissed by someone you love…

I floated in the sea that was that beautiful feeling for a moment or two, wondering how I had lived for so long without understanding what true happiness felt like – because this had to be that in its purest form. The tingling sensation that began where he had kissed spread through my entire body, feeling warm and unfamiliar. I could sense my legs, formerly so dormant and paralyzed, share the electricity that was spreading through me like wildfire.

But then I realized that something was wrong.

My pulse hadn't stopped getting faster – it was still continuing to accelerate, and its rate was now quite alarming. The drowsiness, rather than closing over me, was dissipating like clouds over a crescent moon. My throat was beginning to sting, and Carlisle still hadn't pulled away.

Then the sensation that had radiated out to my arms and legs became a horrible, fiery agony, and some part of me began to understand.

True to his word as always, my vampire was taking me with him.