"I love you. It's a miserable excuse for what we're doing, but it's true," I murmured. "But we belong together," she whispered. "No, there isn't a more foolproof way of getting the Volturi here, but you're worth it." AU. CxB. REVISED.

I decided to up the ante and grow as a writer. So my new goal is 6 pages of writing per chapter. It's a win-win situation…as long as you keep up your end of the deal by REVIEWING! Enjoy!

xoxo —ei

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.


·V·E·R·B·O·T·E·N·

Chapter 1: First Sight

Forks, Washington

"And so a cop comes in ranting that this man was driving drunk but he couldn't prove it. Had an answer for every test: asthmatic, diabetic, hemophiliac...the whole line-up," Lauren, the nurse, giggled. "And then, I ask him, 'Well, Charlie, why didn't you ask him to walk that damn fine white line.' And he goes and thinks on it and asks that boy. And that boy, cool as a can be, says, 'I can't walk no white line?' I ask him, 'Why not, honey?' He said, surly and everything, 'Can't you see I'm drunk?'"

I sighed. Predictable.

She and the pediatrician, Jessica, burst into raucous laughter at the end of her joke. I laughed too, so I wouldn't come off as rude.

"So, Dr. Cullen," Dr. Stanley returned her gaze to me; she'd been sizing up Nurse Lauren for the past ten minutes and finally decided that she was better suited for me. "Where did you work last? Your credentials are exceptional!"

"Thank you, Dr. Stanley –"

"Please, call me Jessica," She urged.

"- Jessica," I relented grudgingly.

She beamed.

Lauren frowned.

"I was a practitioner in Denali, Alaska. I'd like to say the only fit doctor in the area so I was called upon for possibly every type of injury, illness, or malady." Probably also the only person within a few miles radius that wouldn't suck you dry upon contact as well, I added in my head with a grim smile.

"That must have been so stressful!" groaned Nurse Lauren dramatically. "I can barely manage part-time; my boyfriend takes up so much of my time himself." A wink accompanied the naughty insinuation.

Dr. Stanley and I were both pleased with this new development. For her it was one rival less; for me, less painful dallying from the nurse in the future.

At the end of the hallway two men stopped and paused, chatting amiably.

"Eric!" I called, relieved.

He bid goodbye to whoever he was talking to and then joined our little corner. Thank god. It kept Dr. Stanley distracted – the Asian surgeon was handsome – but, then I noticed that Dr. Yorkie was too busy sizing me up to pay enough attention to Jessica's story about the bear in the woods.

"Dr. Cullen!" Angela called, peeking her head out of the office.

"Yes?" I answer, stepping into the warm receptionist's cove, thankful for the distraction.

"There's, uh, a patient downstairs in the E.R. Bleeding from the forehead. Dr. Newton couldn't make it; he's doing a kidney transplant."

"Not a problem, I'll take care of it right away, Angela."

Angela was quite nice, perhaps the only one here that didn't see me a threat or a nice package, as some had murmured at my front. And there wasn't any respite from any of the attending. Apparently all fronts of decorum had flown out the window when I had recieved my stethescope.

"Will you tell Dr. Cheney to take my patients for the next hour or so?"

"Of course." She said eagerly. Like she needed an excuse to distract her boyfriend at work.

It was only my second day on the job as the University Hospital's newest diagnostician, but too many people here knew me already. Thanks to the grand introduction the dean had given me, not only my receptionist, but also all the general operators, practitioners, specialists, and pediatricians were familiar with me. Unfortunately, the news was quickly spreading to the student body.

I pushed open the E.R. doors and glided in.

The occupant noticed me immediately. "You're not Doctor Newton!" the girl accused, pointing her finger at my chest.

I stared at the offending digit coolly and then sucked in a breath to answer. "No, I am –"

I froze.

Her scent, magnified by the open wound, had permeated my very being, hitting me with the intensity of wrecking ball – flames of hunger, tongues of desires that had simmered dormant in me for years rose up uncontainably, fueled by the mere perfume of her corporeality.

I took two steps toward her, an undeniable thirst burning my throat.

Think of all that you've worked for Carlisle, a sanctified voice whispered sagely in my head.

Ah, but doesn't she smell absolutely divine? Another, with a more menacing edge, hissed. I've never come across anything like it. It's been four hundred years – we deserve a treat, do we not?

She had noticed the sudden change in my temperament. Instead of calm and clinical, her wide brown eyed reflected me as some insane, demented monster – exactly the side of myself that I had tried for four centuries to suppress. I wouldn't be thwarted now.

Ah, won't you?

Venom surged to my lips; unconsciously, I licked them. The woman flinched.

Don't do it, Carlisle. Think of Edward and Esme, Emmett and Rose, Alice and Jasper – you'll ruin their lives.

Emmett and Jasper have ruined us often enough, it's your turn, it said smugly.

"What are you -?" She began as one of my hands reached mortally for her throat. I lunged at her, baring my teeth -

"Oh, hello Carlisle." Dr. Newton walked into the room, apparently confused as to why I was here, but completely unaware of the murder he had narrowly prevented as his relatively dour scent permeated the small, hot room. "I didn't know who would take care of Bella today. But you might as well; she'll be in here often enough."

The fright left the woman's face and was replaced by a delicate pooling of blood in her cheek, the most delicious shade of crimson I'd witnessed yet. My hands clenched and I buried them in my pockets to restrain myself.

"Don't embarrass me, Mike," she murmured shyly.

"Embarrass you?" He laughed. "I'm merely warning Carlisle. He's new here and has no idea what he's in for!"

"I take it she's a regular?" I asked demurely, moving toward Dr. Newton so he could mask her scent.

"Regular?" He scoffed as Isabella's face turned a delicious scarlet. "This is like her second home. Thank god, she leaves for the summer or she would clean us out of bandages, transfusable blood -"

"I do not –"

"I was just joking, Bella. I love having you here. Now let's see that cut."

I didn't miss the tone of his voice. I love, not we love. The love triangles just didn't stop with these capricious humans.

As she slid off the gurney, a few drops of ruby-red liquid spilled and crashed to the floor. It was astonishing, the unfamiliar feelings of thirst that filled me. I wanted to lick the blood off the floor, not let it go to waste.

Remarkable.

I'd spent several centuries trying to make myself as close to immune to blood as I could. And then, there came along a girl – a simple human – who, without even a perfunctory attempt at seducing me easily pushed me off my pedestal.

She moved toward me and the air was once again perfumed.

Was she deliberately trying to provoke me?

No...she was studying me, looking for a hint of the unorthodox behavior I had just exhibited - that had so inexplicably vanished when Mike had come eyes studied my form that was held stiffly so as to prevent myself from attacking her. She held her wrist out toward me and Mike was moving away to find some bandages – the irresistibly floral scent was closing in, clouding my mind.

She looked so lovely and tempting. I could kill her. Here and now. Dr. Newton would have to be silenced as well, but that was an unfortunate necessity...

"Excuse me, Dr. Newton, but if you can handle this, I really should get back to my charges." Without waiting for answer, I left the room, walking faster than I should have been, but I didn't care if someone noticed. I had to remove myself or…

Once I was outside, I rushed to my office and told Angela that I was feeling queasy and would be taking the rest of the day off. I certainly wasn't flushed but perhaps I looked less pale but she looked truly worried and told me to rest and come back only when I was completely rested and rejuvenated.

"So, I was right…" A high treble met me at the exit.

I nodded in greeting.

"Alice. I should have known you would be here."

"I knew you'd make it. Emmett wanted to come out here but I was afraid that he'd be the one that made the scene so I came here by myself."

"Thank you. It wasn't necessary."

She climbed into the passenger side of my Mercedes. "Jasper's distraught, as you might have guessed, or he will be when you get home clean. Forgive him, please."

"He tries harder than all of us," I agreed.

"So, who was this siren? Then one who finally tempted the epitome of restraint himself?" She teased.

"Please. I'm nothing of the sort."

"Will we be moving?" She asked sadly. Seeing her answer before I'd replied – "No?" She said wonderingly, "Why not?"

"I don't think she will be a problem. One of the other doctors seems quite keen on her and I think he'll be jumping at every opportunity she comes in."

"Oh, that's wonderful." She deadpanned.

I laughed.

She sighed. "I'm sorry, I know we're restricted by sunlight, but honestly? The University of Washington, Fork? This city is not to my taste. It's so..."

"Cloudy?" I suggested, reprovingly. "At least Esme will be pleased. She put a lot of work into the new house," I added.

"She forgot to soundproof her bedroom," Alice muttered darkly.

"Alice," I said sternly, as we neared the house. "You should try to be a little more considerate."

"Considerate?" She sneered, "It's been their fifth marriage and they're suddenly acting like newly-weds again! Rose and Em were better." I raised an eyebrow. She giggled, "So they're not as bad as Rose and Emmett, but at least they got over it twenty years ago," she said pointedly out.

"Let's all go hunt tonight," I suggested. "It'll be good for all of us to get out a little."

"Esme and Edward hunted this morning. So they'll be busy tonight…doing something to 'burn off the plasma,' " Alice scowled.

"Alice, really," I tried to soothe her agitation."

"Carlisle?" Esme came shooting out of the house. "Alice? What happened? He didn't…did he?"

"No," I said.

"No," repeated Alice.

"No?" She looked from me to Alice.

"He's clean."

"Oh, thank God." She sighed in a relief. "To think we'd have to move away just a few weeks after we moved in." She smiled a coruscating smile, and something within me twinged painfully.

There was a stampede of feet as the rest of family realized my presence; Edward, Emmett, and Jasper came ricocheting down the stairs. "Did he – did you?" Emmett asked breathlessly.

I looked at Jasper's hopeful face – almost painfully wistful – and shook my head, somehow feeling guilty for not slipping. "No. I didn't."

"Ha! Pay up!" Emmett held out his hand to Edward.

"You bet on this?" Esme asked, wrinkling her delicate nose in distaste.

Alice and I were still watching Jasper whose face had fallen. Realizing that we were watching, he smiled in false pleasure and trudged back upstairs.

"I feel terrible," I murmured.

Alice squeezed my shoulder. "It's not your fault. He feels weak, is all. Give him some time." She went after him.

"Where's Rosalie?" I asked, setting my bag down and collapsing heavily on the couch.

"In the garage. She's tuning my car," Edward replied. "Hey, we never finished that game…" Edward tossed Emmett a controller and the latter's face contorted in extreme giddiness.

"You are so on, kid. I'm taking you down."

The brief silence that lasted while the game was being set up was a broken by a shout from upstairs. "I don't understand! I can't bear this!"

"Jasper!" Alice cried. "Please!" He didn't answer. Instead he stomped downstairs and left the house, slamming the door. Alice paused at the foot of the stairs, looking expectantly at Edward.

"Relax, he only went hunting."

"Shut up, Edward!" Jasper shouted angrily from the garage where we could all hear him starting up one of the many vehicles. From the low mechanical purr, I hazarded a guess for the Volvo.

"Oh, for god sakes," Alice muttered furiously. "Jazz, you're being ridiculous!"

Rosalie walked inside as Alice ran after her husband. "Edward, that was your car," She said, eying the controller in Emmett's hands. "Careful with that, Emmett, you broke all the others when Jazz kept beating you. I don't want to have to order another one."

"What?" Edward jumped up. "Jasper! Hey!" Jasper and Alice were already gone. "Damn!" He hissed, rubbing his forehead in frustration.

Rosalie cast a glance at me as she sat down next to Emmett. "I heard what happened to you in the hospital today…is that why Jasper's panties are all up in his –"

"Yes, well..."

"Jasper wears panties. Jasper wears panties," chanted Emmett, with a grin.

Rosalie rolled her eyes at her puerile husband. "We're the only ones left, Carlisle. You can't slip, I hope you realize that. Your restraint is holding this family's pride and scruples together. I count only by a technicality."

"Thank you, Rose." I replied uncertainly, "For that added burden and resounding vote of confidence, Rose. You've left me to quite an entitlement. And I didn't realize that track records were measured so meticulously."

She laughed and then turned to Emmett. "Now, what was that promise you made this morning?" She asked, wiping a little grease from her elbow.

"Greasy, just the way I like it," Emmett said with a grin. "But actually, babe, you said you were going to tie me to a pole and lick from my –"

"Emmett!" I clapped my hands over my ears. "Remember what we said about filthy language?"

He grabbed Rosalie and hoisted her over his shoulders and they left me in the room, laughing wildly. I could guess where and what they were headed to do. I could hear Edward and Esme's voices from upstairs and I sighed. I went downstairs and outside into the yard. But before I could go far, I caught a glimpse of Alice and Jasper skinny-dipping in the brook near the house.

I was trapped.

I went into my study, closed the door behind me, and began to pore among the titles. Many of the tomes were originally Aro's, but he'd dismissed many of them, saying that he could get someone to read it for him and then peruse their thoughts. Wonderfully preserved, glossy finishes, well-bound, lexicographically archived, deeply intriguing.

It was easy to get forget myself here. To sit and read several days away, uncaring until the gnawing sensation of thirst forced me to drink. Then sit and read for another stretch. And very practically, it was expertly soundproofed.

The air was cool and moist and lulled me into a semblance of slumber.

I don't know for how long I sat there, reading, but I was suddenly made aware of my surroundings as several loud thumps and sounds came from the rooms above. All our walls were supposed to be sound-proof, for optimum privacy but vampires could both make a lot of noise and hear extremely well. At certain times, this was convenient, at others, it was nothing short of mortifying.

I felt slightly humiliated: hiding in the basement of my own home, waiting for the people who I considered my children – though Esme and Jasper were closer to my age than to the others to finish their personal business.

A chill settled on me like a pallid cloak, and after a few seconds I realized and acknowledged that I was lonely.

And yet, that was ridiculous; I had a wonderful family who were unique, special, and wonderful. But it wasn't simply companionship that I was craving now. It was also affection, for someone, from someone with whom I could talk about things that I could not tell my family even or even nothing at all. I was twenty but also four-hundred.

Shouldn't I be afflicted with this lovely malady yet? Wasn't there anyone who could love someone me?

All the other relationships in this house were based a foundation almost like Stockholm syndrome-esque developments; Edward, Esme, and Rose had been dying - I had saved them. Emmett had been dying, Rose had saved him. Alice and jasper had saved each other. After his or her transformation, they'd immediately gravitated toward the closest, most available Cullen.

Never I, of course.

They saw me as a father figure, not a lover.

"Carlisle!" That was Esme's voice.

I smiled to myself as I came upstairs. Esme beckoned for me to join them and then nestled into her husband's side. I sat down on a divan and propped a book open in my lap and surveyed my family. This scene was very familiar to me – the rest of the family was assembled in the parlor as Edward played the piano – but now I took it in with new eyes and for the first time, surrounded by the people I loved and those who loved me.

I shouldn't be complaining. After all, everything worked out; nothing was unrequited. But wouldn't I get my happy ending? A lovely wife – no children, of course – so that every time the couples paired off, I wouldn't be holed up in my study.

Of course, I was probably bitter because my love had been taken from me. To love was one thing, but to love and have it taken from you…that was quite another thing. And yet, pain was so prevalent in my life, self-imposed or not, that I easily confused it with the equally flighty emotions that I experienced because of my family.

I was considered strong-willed by my family: insensitive to the humans' blood because of my several centuries spent inuring myself to them, but, as my family remained unenlightened, I smelled everyone very distinctly; each human an equal challenge, equally painful to endure. I was only more used to the pain than the others, but that didn't make it less excruciating.

I was not like Edward who believed that he and rest of us were destined for hell. How could any benevolent God sentence any of my family, pure creatures as they were, to a damned existence?

Was I wrong to wish for a soulmate? Adam had Eve. But if Edward were right…Lucifer hadn't had a partner…


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