"Relax," said Carlisle. I inhaled deeply and leaned back into the couch, extending my neck so the wound was more accessible. He bent down, and I felt his lips, colder than I would have expected, press against the edges of the bite, and then he began to pull. It stung a bit, but the scorching flare in my neck was quickly diminishing.

"Why did you have to do that to Bella?" I demanded, trying not to concentrate on the sucking. He glanced up at me meaningfully without moving away from my neck, but said nothing. "Carlisle." Looking shaken, he straightened up and wiped his mouth.

"You can't read my mind," he pondered.

"Yes," I agreed. "It's finally quiet inside my head."


"You're ignoring my question."

"Not ignoring," he contradicted, "just postponing. Let me get the rest of the venom out, then we'll talk." He returned to my neck and continued to drink. I faintly heard footsteps, and then Jasper strolled into the room.

"Hey, Doc," he said, collapsing onto the other end of the couch, "let me have a sip."

"You're extraordinarily callous today," I pointed out. He shrugged. Suddenly, I noticed something strange. Jasper's posture was normal, his expression casual. At Bella's awful eighteenth birthday party, he'd attacked her over a paper cut. I was bleeding everywhere, and he seemed not to care. "Why aren't you trying to attack me?"

"What, and get Carlisle's emotionally scarring 'you're a monster' speech?" he laughed. "Besides, I just hunted yesterday."

To my relief, Carlisle seemed to be finished with my blood. He sat up and looked sternly at Jasper. "It is not emotionally scarring."

"It was!" I cried. "Did you see her face? She looked worse than I felt when… when I thought she'd killed herself. When Rosalie told me she was dead." I cringed.

"She would have killed you," he replied simply.

"I don't care!" I yelled. "Death would have been preferable to watching her scream like that, to hearing her pleading."

"And if I hadn't stopped her, she would have done that and worse when she was finished, and realized what she'd done. The only difference would be that you'd be selfishly not watching."

"That wasn't the only way to get her to stop," I scowled. "You could have pulled her away."

"So she would resent me and possibly hurt you worse?" he asked, raising an eyebrow.

"You could have reminded her of who she is, instead of convincing her that she is what she's afraid she might become." My throat felt raspy, and I realized that fresh tears were pooling in my eyes. I was painfully reminded of the last time I'd been this angry at Carlisle.

It was late, and the air was saturated with warmth and flavor. I'd rushed home, and slammed the door to encounter my adoptive parents staring at me worriedly.

"Hello, Edward." Esme, always cordial. I ignored her.

"I can't do it anymore, Carlisle," I gasped. "I can't do this, it's lying. I'm lying to myself."

"Then go," he said emotionlessly. Esme looked on him in shock. "Go," he continued, "and drink to your heart's delight. Drink and drain until you smell like blood and it towers inside of you and spills up your throat."

"Blood," I moaned, licking my lips.

"Edward, please stay," begged Esme.

"Forget it," Carlisle sneered. "It's the only thing he cares about now. It's all he wants, a life of death and desire. It's his idea of paradise. He isn't human anymore. He's no better than the disease that killed his mother."

"No," I whispered.

"She's dead, Edward. And think, what a waste, that we buried her whole. She had the most exquisite scent…"

"No!" I yelled, rushing forward and grabbing his arm. I was younger than he, and I saw him wince as I gripped his forearm tighter. He glared down at me with steely eyes.

"It's your choice."

"Carlisle," whimpered Esme.

"Let him choose."

"It's not what I want," I said forcefully, inches from his face, "it's who I am. I'm through pretending and acting differently."

"If refusing to rob innocent lives is 'acting,' to you, then leave, Edward. That's who you are." I released him and backed toward the door, my hand on the knob. "You are your mother's son." I opened the door and put one foot outside on the concrete. "But never mine." I slammed the door and disappeared into the delicious night.

I remembered how I'd felt then- raw, torn apart inside. Like everything I was had been denied, like I deserved to be hated. Watching Carlisle make Bella feel like that, knowing what her tortured expression meant, I felt bile rise in my throat.

"And who would remind her the next time? And the time after that?" he wondered. "It's called psychology. People will always remember what hurt them the most."

"You lied to her, you told her I was dead!" I accused. "I know what that feels like. Jasper knows exactly how she felt." Carlisle winced visibly, and I assumed that Jasper was tweaking his emotions to illustrate my point.

"You've lied to those you love to protect them," Carlisle said in a low tone. I felt a stab of pain and tumultuous guilt in my newly beating heart.

"Just because I made the biggest mistake of my life, of many lifetimes, it doesn't give you an excuse to do the same." I was shaking. "Do you even know what that feels like? It tears you apart inside. It is worse than dying."

"Why didn't you move?" Jasper said suddenly.

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, you weren't trying to fight back when Bella attacked you," he explained. "It didn't even seem like the venom was bothering you. Why weren't you trying to get away from her?"

"Because," I sighed, "it made her happy."

"Edward." Carlisle's voice was commanding, but it wavered strangely. He'd put a hand on my arm. "Don't ever think that."

"I want her to be as happy as possible. If-"

"No," he said firmly. "Yes, there is a part of her that craves your blood, and you know what that feels like. But it is only a part. If you allowed her to drink from you, she would believe she felt ecstatic, if only for a moment. But once she realizes what she's done, what you let her do, it would shatter her. You have to promise me that you won't let her bite you again. If she kills you, it would kill her soul, and it would be all your fault."

"I promise," I agreed solemnly.

"You have to realize," he said, "she is Bella- don't forget that. But she's different. She's not a mere human, and you are much weaker than you were. As horrified as she is of hurting you, she could always-"

"No." I had risen to my feet. I could feel the blood thudding angrily in my ears. "I didn't believe it when you told her and I don't believe it now." I stormed to the door.

I'd forgotten how much faster they were than me, and I was surprised when Jasper materialized in front of me. "Where are you going?" he whispered, but I knew that Carlisle could hear.

"Into the jaws of the beast," I snarled with as much malice as possible. I slammed the door and disappeared into the devastating night.

A/N: I'm really not liking Carlisle. He's been kind of a jerk for the past two chapters. I think the next chapter will be his POV, just to redeem his character. Or do you all love to hate him? Any ideas?
Also, for some reason I kept fixating on Carlisle, Edward, and Jasper having a conversation, and the phrase "A doctor, a vampire, and a pianist walk into a bar…" It's weird, I thought I'd mention it in the AN.