A/N: The story was beta'ed by TRDancer. A huge thanks to her! :)
I wrote this for a challenge on TwilightArchives. The theme was "It was a dark and stormy night", so I apologize in advance for Edward's dramatic departure scene xD I admit, I had fun with the lightning and thunder...
Everything is from Carlisle's POV.
She lay on the bed, writhing and gasping as though something were eating her from the inside.
And that, if truth be told, was the case. Vampire venom was searing through her veins. Esme Anne Platt Evenson was being charred away from her humanity.
As I stood beside her and listened to her wordless pleas for help, I couldn't help wondering if this fire was worse than the one which made her jump.
At least she looked alive. When I'd found her in the mortuary even I would have mistaken her for dead if it wasn't for that tattletale sound of a beating heart—and even it had been so quiet that at first I'd been sure that I was mishearing. Now her heart was still beating, but no longer quietly. Its furious rhythm was alien and scarily familiar to me at the same time. Hadn't it been just a few years since I'd last heard that sound? And hadn't I sworn to never be the cause of it again?
My promise had turned to dust—just as Esme's humanity was turning to ashes.
But even her bewildered face could not erase the obvious truth. I'd had no choice in my actions, and it was clear that this time my bite marks were there for a reason other than loneliness. Edward's transformation had resulted from a moment's whim, a build up of centuries of isolation that erupted at the first glimpse of hope that things could change. I hadn't even thought about what I was doing, what damage I was causing in the poor seventeen-year-old whose future had been cruelly wiped out by a disease. Maybe that was why I'd felt so dreadful once it was done.
Now I didn't feel dreadful. The same kind of guilt wasn't there—or it was being obscured by something far greater. I was in a state of odd anticipation and felt only acceptance towards my deeds. I knew I'd had no choice. This had been no whim, but destiny.
A cry shook me out of my reverie. Esme had rolled onto her side and was breathing even more rapidly than before, her heartbeat still increasing pace. As a doctor I felt compelled to do something to alleviate her condition, but as a vampire I knew I had no option but to watch.
The loud cry didn't just catch my attention. The door behind me opened slowly, a shadow sliding in through the narrow slit. The light from the hallway hit Esme's sweaty face for an instant, which made my professional side heave again—as well as another side of me, a side that I'd never been aware of before. Perhaps because it had never existed before.
The change felt odd.
"We do not change a lot, but when we do it is profound and permanent," a voice echoed from behind me, and I smiled. I knew where he'd gotten those words. I'd told him the very same thing two years ago.
"Has it really been just two years? It feels like only yesterday." Edward's voice was unobtrusive. It felt strange to have him talk to me this gently—he'd been so distant in recent times that I'd been beginning to get used to it. Maybe that was a mistake on my part. I should have talked to him a long time ago…
"I'm fine." There it was again, that aloof tone he normally used. I looked up in time to see Edward frown.
"Truly," he insisted, but though he sounded warmer, I still couldn't believe him. A change was taking place in him, too. Sometimes it was easy to forget that Edward was so young—only nineteen, in technical terms. Physically seventeen.
Esme cried out again and turned to her other side, her back to me. I nearly reached out to turn her back to face me.
"Carlisle, I'll be very honest now." Edward's voice surprised me, and I instantly lifted my gaze from my burning angel… did I just say angel? Edward's eyes were carefully neutral, but I could see something else brewing beneath them. The hardness of his lips revealed his accusation.
"I understand why you did it—don't forget my ability to do so. I can see your motivations, and believe me, I'm happy for you," he continued. "But that knowledge is the only reason I am talking to you at all. I disapprove."
I tore my eyes away from his to look at Esme, letting my thoughts drift to what Edward was hinting. I knew why he disapproved. I understood why his heart couldn't justify my actions. But my heart swelled, and Edward couldn't feel it. He could hear my rational thoughts, but not feel my irrational incentives.
"I know. And that's why I understand," he said. But though he didn't say it, I could hear his conclusion: "If it had been me, I would have let her die…"
The fact that Edward didn't contradict me confirmed my dark suspicions.
And yet I couldn't feel the guilt.
I kneeled down at the edge of the bed, took Esme's blazing hand in mine, and waited for her death to scorch away.
I generally have just reasons for what I do—it comes with the job. Doctors cannot afford to make decisions based on impulses. Being a doctor was the only feature of my life for such a long time that this rationality had taken over my everyday self as well.
But not with Esme. I soon found that I was incapable of logical thoughts around her. The part of me that had been buried in all my studies and work—the emotional side of me—took the upper hand again.
It was different than with Edward. With him I'd felt more like a teacher, a guardian, and that was what I'd done: taught him the ways of his new life, guarded him on his path from newborn to full grown vampire.
I found I was giving Esme much more free space.
When she returned home from a hunting trip two weeks after she was changed with a bloody dress and mortified face, I didn't feel any anger towards her. I didn't even feel the need to explain why what she'd done was morally wrong and should be avoided. Instead I only wanted to take her in my arms and say that it was in no way her fault, that it was what I'd made her and therefore I should be the one to blame.
From the corner of my eye I watched Edward stand beside us, his eyes tight and black despite his recent hunting trip.
To my relief, although not quite my surprise, Esme did not seem to need guidance from me. She had a natural love for all things alive, and from the very first day she was convinced that my lifestyle was the only possible one for her. With Edward I'd had to argue—and still did. He hadn't easily accepted the responsibility that now lay on his shoulders, the responsibility not to kill. It wasn't because he was evil—it was the opposite, in fact. He had been brought up to distinguish right and wrong so vigorously that it influenced the way he reasoned. He divided everything into light and dark, good and bad… and believed that because we were already on the dark side, we had no right to continue living in the light.
I'd argued that we had the choice between right and wrong in every decision we made. He never answered.
I was reliving that conversation one day when Esme walked into my bedroom. I was sitting on the large bed which had so far been only a prop, just like the kitchen and bathroom. Outside the window only gray shades existed, even though Ashland was considered a small town here in America. I missed the green of nature that had followed me throughout my childhood, and the small apartment was starting to make me claustrophobic. It was too small for the three of us, anyway. We'd have to move on soon.
Esme said nothing as she stepped inside and sat beside me on the bed. She was smiling, but there was a worried look in her eyes, a look that seemed to ask, "What's wrong?"
Unconsciously, I shoved aside my worries about Edward and felt only peaceful next to her. It was as if only an image of him existed every time I was with Esme, an image that had neither doubts nor dark desires.
"You've been awfully quiet today," Esme said softly, laying a hand on my thigh. The gesture was measured and incredibly shy. "Is something troubling you?"
I laid my hand atop hers and smiled. Esme was almost as subtle as the women of my day. "I'm fine," I answered truthfully, "but I'm concerned about Edward. I think something is troubling him."
Esme frowned. "Has he always been like this? I mean so… melancholic? He's such a wonderful boy, truly he is, but I feel that there are shadows around him that I can't comprehend. He smiles and is kind to me, and I by no means could claim that he resents me, but those shadows…"
"He is a good man." I sighed. "You're right—there are shadows around him. I think he was too young when he was changed." I closed my eyes and once again felt the weight of guilt that only lifted when Esme was there. "It's my fault. I should have let him die. I didn't save him—as far as he's concerned, I condemned him directly to Hell."
"Don't," Esme whispered, resting her hands on both sides of my neck. "Don't blame yourself. Edward is so fond of you. He respects you more than anyone in the world."
And she kissed me, bashfully at first, as if asking for my permission. I wrapped my arms around her and brought her tighter towards me, encouraging her. That broke through her shyness.
We fell onto our backs on the bed that was no longer just a prop.
It was early morning. I was getting ready for my eight-hour shift at the hospital—my last one before leaving Ashland. Esme was packing our clothes for the trip.
I was putting on my white doctor's clothes when I heard light footsteps and sensed a presence behind me. I whirled around.
Edward was standing there, dressed in a simple, beige suit as was fashionable at the time, his arms crossed over his chest and his hair as windswept as ever. He looked more youthful than usual, which was probably due to the lighter colors of his clothes—he usually wore black or gray, which I assumed to be his way of mourning over his dead parents. Now his pale skin was less contrasted by the more cheerful brown; I could even discern a slight red coloring to his cheeks.
He didn't look like a shadow anymore.
"Carlisle," he began, obviously choosing to ignore my assessment of his outfit, "I was meaning to talk to you."
I snapped shut the lock of my watch and smiled at him. "Of course, Edward. Is there something on your mind?"
Edward's eyes tightened, and I could almost hear his thoughts: Of course there's something on my mind, you know that. But out loud, he said, "I'd like to apologize for the way I talked to you on the day of Esme's transformation. It was cruel of me to say what I said."
I shook my head. "No, Edward, don't apologize. You were right."
Edward's lips twisted to the side, but that look was soon replaced by a lighter one. He smiled at me pleasantly and lowered his arms. "Esme's a beautiful woman, Carlisle—inside and out. If there is anyone worthy of you at all, it will be her. She's been through so much, yet she's managed to stay the beautiful person she is. I wish I could show you what effect your presence has on her. It's healing."
"On both sides," I stated, glad to hear Edward speak kindly of our relationship. "You approve of her, then?"
Edward laughed. "You hardly need my approval, Carlisle. You can love whomever you want." And then in a more serious tone, "But if my approval weighed anything at all, then yes, you would have it. You were made for each other."
"Maybe one day you will find your counterpart," I said, frowning when Edward only laughed. He wasn't taking me seriously.
"Me and women, Carlisle," Edward answered lightheartedly, "were not made for each other."
And with that he patted me on the shoulder and stepped out of the room, leaving me feeling guilty once again.
It was a dark and stormy night.
Lightning was blazing in the sky like cold fire, casting a grim glow over everything. It was raining in showers over us—Edward was already wet to the skin where he stood under no shelter. Our new home was repelling off drops of water, making them drip to the lawn. Copious trees surrounded the house. It was the country house I'd dreamed of for so many years.
But instead of three, only two were entering it.
"Edward, please," Esme pleaded, yelling over the loud flurry of the wind, "come inside! We can talk about this…"
Edward only shook his head. "I'm sorry, Esme. Please know that my intention isn't to hurt you or Carlisle. I have to go."
The thunderous beating of the rain against the roof seemed to reverberate directly inside of me. I felt the heavy weight again, the weight that I'd pushed aside for all these years with Esme. The weight of guilt.
Edward shook his head at me and said something, but I was too deafened by the thunder to hear him. Instead I could only take in the image of him, wet and remorseful as he was, and could only notice how young he looked in his drenched suit. He was wearing beige again, but this time there was no red color to his cheeks. He was all white and brown.
And above all, he looked seventeen.
Why now? I knew the answer. I knew why he now felt that it was time to go.
He knew I no longer needed him as a cure for my loneliness—I had Esme.
"Thank you for everything, Carlisle," he called out, his eyebrows set in a dour straight line. "I know I seem incredibly selfish and ungrateful right now, but that is not the case. Thank you for saving me. Thank you for honoring my mother's last wish. I have never known the kindness you have showed me. I wish you only the best."
I shook my head. He couldn't leave, he couldn't. I imagined I should feel repulsed, but felt nothing of the sort—only an absorbing feeling of loss gripped me, as if I were witnessing a loved one's death. But I couldn't think of it that way, as a death. He would still be out there, I told myself. He wasn't dying…
"Goodbye, Carlisle. Goodbye, Esme. Don't miss me." He drew a shaky breath. "I don't deserve to be missed."
"No, Edward, you—" I tried to argue, but it was already too late. Edward had dissolved into the shadows, becoming one of them, his white skin only reflecting specks of light whenever the sky flashed. Esme cried out and darted after him. She only got as far as the veranda.
"Come back, Edward, please!" she shouted, but we both knew there was no one there to hear it. Edward was gone.
The realization hit her hard. "We can still go after him… if we could just get him to listen…" She turned to me with pleading and yet unsure eyes. We both knew it was no use.
I laid my hand on Esme shoulder and gently guided her inside. Wordlessly, I shut the door behind us and surveyed our new home. It was all light colors, cream and white, but here and there surfaces of brown broke the color code.
Beige, I realized. I slouched down next to Esme on the coach and let the guilt of an approval never received wash over me.
A/N: Thank you for reading! I would love hearing any suggestions/critique/praise you may have, so please review and let me know what you think.