Summary: It's Christmas Eve and Carlisle and Esme just want to be together. Unfortunately, Carlisle's job keeps them separated. But in the events that happen, they both are reminded of the true meaning of Christmas. A one-shot of pure Christmas fluff! Esme POV.
Third place winner in the Last Minute Holiday Contest.
Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight, y'all know that, but I'm saying it cuz it's required...
It did not matter what the season was, the view from the window was always spectacular. On this night, the sky was cold and clear and the moon's pure white light delineated the distant majestic mountain tops. The stately Ponderosa pines wore thick blankets of snow as they stood in silent watch over the twinkling ski resort in the valley. In the distance, I could hear the coyotes calling to each other. It was so stunning that tonight's scene should grace the cover of a Christmas card. The picture perfect peaceful winter wonderland.
I loved living in Montana – a land of big sky, towering mountains, and expansive plains. The Cullen's now called Whitefish home, located exactly 3000 feet up and 464 miles east of Forks. Just over a year ago, we found this large rustic home nestled in the mountainside overlooking nearby Glacier National Park and started life anew.
Turning away from the beautiful outdoor sight, my eyes met an equally lovely view inside our cozy home. Alice had decorated every inch of the house for Christmas in white twinkling lights and green holly with red berries. Her decorating had gone into double time since Renesmee was born and continued even though Nessie no longer resembled a little child.
But I didn't mind. Christmas was my favorite time of year. It was so full of joy, laughter – and love. In fact, love was in everything that surrounded me. It was in the fire that crackled in the fireplace just waiting to greet my husband when he returned home from work. It was in the dozens of presents wrapped in carefully chosen jewel-colored paper.
But my favorite display of love was our Christmas tree.
Each of the unique ornaments adorning the oversized Christmas tree held a special meaning.
First to catch my eyes was the miniature replica of the Eiffel Tower from our recent trip to Paris. I smiled remembering how taken Renesmee had been with the sound of the French language. She took to studying it as soon as we returned and was now as fluent as any Parisian.
We also collected ornaments to commemorate each city we lived in. Our goal in that pursuit was to find the tackiest ornament so that we could have a hearty laugh instead of lamenting on how often we were forced to relocate. After all, leaving home was never easy. After chuckling at the cheese-shaped ornament from our time in Ashland, Wisconsin, I spied a porcelain fairy complete with black spiky hair, wings and a fair complexion. Alice had added it to the tree when she joined the family, as was the ritual when each member came into the fold. Catching sight of Alice's ornament inspired me to search the tree for each of my children's representations.
I quickly located Jasper's lighted confederate flag, then Rose's car ornament, which was currently her car of choice, a Mercedes SLR McLaren Roadster. Attacking it was Emmett's fierce-looking grizzly bear ornament. Set apart from the rest was Edward's ornament, a hand-blown glass piano accented with gold overlay.
When it came time for Bella to choose an ornament just about eight years ago, she had added it quietly one night next to the glass piano – a picture from her and Edward's wedding day in a sterling silver heart-shaped frame. Her still-human face was aglow with love and happiness.
Then there was Nessie's ornament...actually, ornaments. Of course everyone had bought something special to always remind us of Nessie's blessed arrival, so various versions of 'baby's first Christmas' peppered the tree. There were also a handful of ornaments that Nessie had chosen herself reflecting her rapid maturity and changing interests. And even without Alice's gift, I knew a wolf ornament would one day soon make an appearance on our family tree…
The last ornament I searched for was the one I had chosen to represent Carlisle and I. Two snowbirds huddled together in a nest of straw. I adjusted it slightly as it was partially covered by a loop of silver garland.
With that done, I took a few steps back to admire the tree as a whole. All the different ornaments made for a very eclectic-looking tree – the perfect representation of our family!
"Family," I sighed audibly. It was not a pleasant sound. I knew I had every reason to be happy – I was so blessed. However, I couldn't help feeling sorry for myself. After all it was Christmas Eve - and I was alone.
Carlisle was working Christmas Eve -again- at the bustling North Valley Hospital Emergency Department and our children had all gone off this year on separate pursuits. Rose and Emmett escaped on a romantic getaway to Fiji, Alice and Jasper flew to Milan for some end-of-the-year high fashion shopping, and Bella and Edward were spending the holidays in Forks so Bella could be with her father and Jacob could be with Nessie and his family.
It just wasn't Christmas without them.
To brighten my spirits, I popped in the CD that had arrived in the mail yesterday. It was a beautiful compilation of my favorite Christmas sung by Renesmee who was accompanied by Edward on the piano. I flopped down on the sofa facing the large picture window to soak in the view and the sweet, pitch-perfect sounds of my son and granddaughter.
But the CD was over too soon, ending in a heart-felt message from Nessie, "Merry Christmas Gramma Esme and Papa Carlisle. I love you and I miss you!"
As I sat in silence, I watched heavy, dark clouds cover the brilliant moon and adorn the Earth in a fresh coat of shimmering snow. At first, the large fluffy flakes drifted and danced lazily by the window, but then they began to fall in earnest and soon occluded my view of the outdoors. It upset me to have to find another source of entertainment to bide my time. Rising in a huff, I placed another log on the fire and restarted Edward and Nessie's CD.
Glancing at the clock, I saw I only had a two more hours until Carlisle would return home.
I began to sing along with Nessie to pass the time. We sang Silent Night, I'll be Home for Christmas, Come All Ye Faithful, and then I snickered through her rendition of Santa Baby.
A different melody began playing from upstairs. It was my cell phone ringing out Merry Christmas, Darling – the ringtone I had chosen for Carlisle! In a shot I was flying up the stairs silently praying the hospital was sending him home early. I dove on the bed and snatched my cell from the bedside table. Flipping it open, I couldn't help the excitement in my voice, "Carlisle, are you on your way home?"
The line was silent for just a bit too long. Not a good omen.
"Esme, dear, I'm so sorry," he replied in a hushed tone before continuing, "This storm has caused numerous car accidents and the next shift can't get in on time due to the road conditions. I'll be late getting home…oh, I got to go, another MVA victim just arrived. I'm sorry. I love you and…Merry Christmas."
"Merry Christmas and I…" but the phone line went dead before I could finish my sentiment. Slumping back on the bed I closed my eyes just as I heard Nessie's recorded voice drifting up from downstairs: "…I miss you."
"I miss you too, baby." I groaned before cursing the snow and the patients that kept my husband from me.
I'm coming, I'm coming," I mumbled to the nondescript voice paging my name overhead. I had practically hung up on Esme and I still couldn't move fast enough through the halls leading to the ER to stop the damn incessant pages.
As a husband, I knew I was committing the ultimate of marital mistakes – I was not home on Christmas Eve or, as it now appeared, Christmas morning. And it couldn't have happened at the worse time. Esme was home alone. If the others were there, she might not have missed my presence too much. But I wasn't that lucky.
I began mentally cursing everyone and everything that was to blame for my predicament, including the weather, the skiers that overran this small town at the holidays, the crappy winter drivers, and the staff that didn't have the common sense to drive SUVs!
"There you are, Dr. Cullen!" Nurse Diane frantically greeted me as I burst through the ER doors a little more aggressively than I should have. Ever the professional, she disregarded my obviously sour mood and began her report, "The squad just brought in a family of four. The mother is in trauma room two and the father is in room four. We kept the children together in room five."
"What are their statuses?" I asked, regaining my professional persona without slowing my pace, unintentionally forcing Diane to practically run to keep up with me.
"The father is fair condition as is the 4 year old male child. The 10 year old female has a broken femur and suffered some abdominal trauma from the seatbelt – she is in guarded condition. The mother is in serious condition. She lost a lot of blood at the scene from a laceration of the femoral artery. We hope to save her leg."
"Maybe we should hope to just save her life. Our blood supply is dangerously low," I grumbled as I hustled to trauma room two.
The second unit of blood had just started infusing when we entered the room. From around me nurses called out lab values, vital signs, and the woman's medical history as reported by her husband. I focused on my goal: stabilize her and get her up to surgery ASAP. As I ran my assessment, I noted how the blood had saturated the sheets and her, accenting the pallor of her skin. Her heart thumped wildly. Damn, this was not going to be my night!
The heart monitor alarm sounded.
"Ventricular tachycardia!" the nurse shouted out, confirming my fears.
She was in hypovolemic shock – we couldn't replace her blood as quickly as she was losing it and her heart began to beat in a potentially deadly rhythm. I reached into the crash cart for drugs to constrict her vessels and send blood to her vital organs as the nurse prepared the defibrillator.
"Ventricular Fib!" the nurse called out.
I grabbed the paddles. "Clear!" I shouted, noting that all hands were indeed off the patient. Pressing the paddles to the patient's chest, her body convulsed as the electric current tried to shock her heart into a normal rhythm.
"Still V-fib," the nurse informed me as she read the heart monitor.
"Charge to 300," I hastily instructed, but the nurse had already anticipated my request. Not tonight, I prayed. Don't let the children lose their mother on Christmas morning. God, please, no.
"Clear!" I called out again, tension showing in the terse tone of my voice.
Again the patient's body jolted, but this time I heard the desired effect.
The nurse half sighed when she read the motion of the line bouncing on the monitor, "Sinus rhythm."
Quickly my team stabilized her and she was rushed to surgery. Decades of experience had taught me how to adjust the volume of blood being infused and limit the amount of vasoconstrictors. With those actions, I was confident her leg could be saved – as well as her life.
The adrenaline levels still ran high in the trauma room, and everyone patted each other on the back, breathing a sigh of relief. While the staff debriefed and congratulated each other on a job well done, I felt pulled to trauma room five.
The children looked so small and scared as I entered the room. Their future hung on the words I was about to deliver. I couldn't help but reflect on the fragility of human life, something I saw everyday in the ER, but it still touched me and in some strange way actually made me thankful my family was inhuman.
"Hello. I'm Dr. Cullen. I've been taking care of your mother," I spoke softly to comfort them.
"Mommy!" cried the young boy. "Where's my mommy?"
I picked him up, wiped his tears, and carried him over to his sister. She was trying to be strong for her little brother, but my eyes could detect the quiver in her lower lip as she steeled herself for news on her mother's condition.
"There was so much blood," she said quietly as I approached, and I worried she was in a bit of a state of shock, so I smiled to reassure her.
"You mother was very brave and she will be better soon. The surgeons are going to take very good care of her, I promise. You will be with her for many more Christmases."
With the rush of relief, tears fell quickly and silently from her eyes. Holding her little brother in one arm, I wrapped the other around her shoulders and pulled her close in an embrace. "Go ahead. There is no shame is letting it out. You must have been very concerned for her."
"Thank you," she sniffled into my scrubs, her tears mixing with her mother's blood. "Thank you for saving my mom."
"You're welcome, dear. That's why I'm here."
And those words never rang truer than they did at this moment. I had the God-given gift to save lives and the need for me to share that gift was displayed in the relief and joy this family shared. How callous I had been to curse my presence here. God puts us in the right place at the right time and everything happens for a reason.
I heard the door open and the all the tears stopped suddenly. "Daddy!" the kids cried out in unison. Their father rushed in and I gladly handed over his children. He hugged them and then turned to me and grabbed my right hand with both of his, pumping with surprising vigor. "Thank you, thank you doctor. My wife…" he broke off and dropped his head, too overcome with emotion to finish. So I helped him, "No, thank you. Your family reminded me of an important lesson I seemed to have forgotten. Thank you for that gift on Christmas."
My words seemed to have confused him a bit, but he accepted them with a quick nod, appearing to understand that something important just happened for both of us.
Leaving them, I went to get a fresh pair of scrubs. As I did so, I passed the waiting room – it was filled to capacity. I shook my head and wondered if I'd be home in time for New Year's…
After another five hours, the members of the next shift began to filter in, many having been on the roads for hours. Grateful for the relief staff, I hurried to my BMW E36 M3. It had never failed me in the snow...yet.
As I pulled out of the parking garage, I was shocked to see how much snow had truly fallen. I flipped open my phone to call Esme, but found I had no bars. Each time I tried to call her, the phone chimed with a message that read, "emergency calls only."
"This is an emergency call!" I barked at the phone. "You've obviously never seen Esme angry!"
I tossed the phone to the passenger seat deciding to keep my eyes on the road and, more importantly, the other drivers. An accident would considerably delay my arrival at home.
Highway 93 was in passable condition, but visibility was very poor. In fact, I'm not exactly sure how I saw him. Why was a boy of no more than 6 years waving his arms around on the side of the road! With the conditions as bad as they were, he was lucky he hadn't been hit by a passing vehicle.
Instinctually, I slowed, but a voice whispered in my brain, Carlisle, you need to get home. Esme has been patient enough with your need to help others. Now you need to put your wife first.
But then I remembered the lesson I learned in the ER: We are here to be Jesus for each other.
Realizing that my abilities again put me in a position to render aid, I pulled to the side of the road and in well-rehearsed human manner, pulled my collar up and donned a ski cap in preparation for the blizzard conditions I was about to face.
"Son, what are you doing out here?" I hollered over the wind that whipped the snow around us.
"Quick, Mister, my mom needs help! The baby's coming!" he ran over to me and grabbed my arm before pulling me toward the stranded vehicle.
"Baby? Your mom – she's having a baby – now?"
He led me to the rear car door. I pulled it open to find a woman very much in the midst of heavy labor in the backseat of her Ford Taurus.
"God, how much more can I really handle?" I quipped aloud before taking in a deep breath and fluidly jumping into action.
"How far along are you?" I urgently asked assessing the girth of her abdomen and praying she was full term – it would mean all the difference in the outcome.
Breathlessly she responded, "Thirty-eight weeks. I was heading home when my water broke. I couldn't continue driving – the contractions hit so hard! I've call 9-1-1, but they haven't responded yet."
"There seems to be some interference in reception," I offered. "I can help – will you let me help you?" I looked into her frightened eyes and tried to soothe to her before going where I definitely needed permission to go.
With a stunned look, she nodded.
That 'dazzling' vampire thing does come in handy sometimes…I mentally noted.
The baby was already crowning and there was no waiting for help to arrive.
I turned to the young man. "What's your name?"
"Jason," he responded nervously.
"Jason, go to my car and get the blanket and bag from the trunk. Be very careful." I flipped him the keys. Turning back to the mom, I looked into her eyes and said, "It's time to push. Are you ready?"
Again, she nodded, a bit more enthusiastically this time.
Her young son retrieved my medical bag and a blanket and had moved to the front seat, looking at us with wide eyes.
Setting up what I could, I said to Jason, "Are you ready to become a big brother on Christmas? What a gift you are receiving this year, huh?"
He nodded. I laughed.
"Hold your mother's hand. The baby's coming," I instructed him.
Mother and son clasped hands and with that she bore down on the next contraction. Within 10 minutes, a new life had made its way into the world. In a message that seemed to come from above, the snow slowed and stopped as the child arrived.
"It's a girl!" I announced as I placed the warm, wet bundle in the blanket. Swaddling her tightly, I picked her up to admire the miracle of life that never ceased to amaze me.
I was so enthralled with the little life in my arms, I lacked to notice the parting of the clouds unveiling the bright morning sun. I realized what was happening just a moment too late, and for the first time, I was caught with my guard down.
I saw the looks of shock that abruptly appeared on the faces of mom and Jason. Their jaws dropped as they gazed wide-eyed at me.
"I…I…can explain," I stammered, horrified to see my glittering countenance reflected in their eyes. I waited for the screams and the looks of terror that would surely ensue for there I was – a monster in full disclosure - holding a defenseless child.
"Mom!" Jason spoke in complete awe, "Look! It's an angel!"
Time froze while I took in his words. The words of a young child who believed. Who, on that morning, saw something other than evil in this world. However, when I opened my mouth to respond, I was silenced by the sound of sirens. The ambulance had arrived.
I smiled, but knew I needed take advantage of their moment of confusion and innocence to make a quick exit. I handed the newborn gently to mom asking, "What are you going to name her?"
"Noel," was the mom's shaky reply, shock still playing across her face.
I grabbed my keys from Jason's hand. "God bless," I told them before racing back to my car and speeding off. I would have to be the anonymous angel this time.
With clear visibility, I pushed the vehicle and my reflexes to their limits. I hoped I could salvage something of Christmas when I got home…
I had stayed on the bed for hours. No sense in getting up - what was there to do? I missed Carlisle so much that it was somewhat comforting just to curl up on his side of the bed and breathe in his scent. But after a while, it wasn't enough to appease my loneliness.
Glancing again at the clock, I decided to turn on the TV and catch the morning news. Maybe I could find some kind of inspirational story that would relieve my pathetic sadness and overall feeling of lack of usefulness and importance. Being a doctor's wife was often a very thankless job.
Though it appeared the worst was over, the weather definitely was the direct cause for all the headline news reports. I had half tuned it out when I heard a familiar voice. It was one of the ER nurses Carlisle worked with. Turning my attention back to the TV, I now listened intently to her words…
"… the weather has made for a very hectic Christmas in the Emergency room. Fortunately, no lives were lost."
The camera zoomed in on the news reporter who smiled broadly into the camera, "While it's true no lives were lost on the highways today, we have learned that one life was actually gained!"
The camera angle widened to reveal a little boy now standing next to the reporter where the nurse had been. She leaned over and spoke to him in a cheery voice, "And could you tell us what happened to you early this morning?"
She held the microphone in front of his face as he looked up at her. "An angel gave me my baby sister."
"Really? An angel?" she questioned with obvious levity in her voice.
"Yes," said the boy excitedly, happy someone was so interested in his story. "My mom had to pull the car over when the baby started to come and I found an angel to help her!"
"How did you know he was an angel?" the reporter smirked holding the microphone back in front of the boy.
"Because he was so shiny. You know, in the sun, he sparkled," the boy replied shrugging his shoulders like it was no big deal.
"Oh, my! Carlisle!" I breathed. My brain wanted to deny he could have revealed himself, but in my heart, I knew. I knew if there was an angel out there, it was my Carlisle.
The camera again narrowed in on the reporter. "So there you have it. A Christmas miracle! But I believe this little boy's mom has something she wanted to say to the…um, Christmas angel."
She held the microphone out to a smiling young woman who held a beautiful newborn baby. "Thank you, thank you so much to the kind man who stopped to help us. You really are…an angel. Thank you." Tears welled up in her eyes as she held the small bundle closer to her chest.
A smile crossed my face. A big one. "No, thank you," I uttered to the joyous woman on the screen. Her words were truly a gift to me. How could I have been so selfish to only think about myself? After all, Christmas is about giving, not receiving. Carlisle had given so many a gift through what he did day in and day out, decade after decade. How lucky I was to have such an incredible person to call mine.
My heart swelled with love for my husband. I laughed thinking of myself like the Grinch, whose heart grew at the end of the movie. And like that fictional character, I would make everything right. I looked around the room wondering where to start. Eyeing Carlisle's closet, I knew just the right inspiration could be found in there…
As I pulled into the driveway, I wondered how upset Esme was going to be. I was very late and I had not been in contact with her. How could I make it up to her? It was all I had thought about the rest of the drive home, but I couldn't come up with a suitable solution.
I worked so many Christmases and Christmas Eves. It was a regretful part of our lifestyle. Since we had to move every few years, I was always the "new guy" on staff and therefore stuck working the big holidays that all of the docs with seniority would request off. After all, no one wanted his or her spouse to be unhappy.
I pulled into the garage and the door hummed closed behind me. Dragging myself out of my car, I wondered how many items would be hurled in my direction when I crossed the threshold…she'd have every right, though. Maybe a good smack with an oversized candy cane would be worth it if it would make her feel better. I was willing to take the punishment without a word.
I held my eyes down when I entered the house, but quickly shut them when I heard the whoosh of something quickly approaching. I braced myself.
The impact was powerful and smelled…like me.
I opened my eyes to find Esme's eyes just inches from my own. She had wrapped herself around me after taking a running jump into my arms.
"Hello there, Christmas Angel," she winked and cooed.
I was puzzled and speechless, but wrapped my arms around her nonetheless, allowing them to move from her back to her bottom as she clung to me. When my hands brushed against her bare thighs, I stole a glimpse at her attire – she was wearing one of my long sleeved cotton dress shirts. And apparently, that was all she was wearing…
I cocked an eyebrow at her in question. Esme slid down my body and reached up to pull off my hat, smoothing my hair down with her hands.
"I missed you, and this was the best way to have you around me," she shrugged.
"Esme, I'm sorry I wasn't…" I started my long rehearsed apology, but she shushed me by holding one of her fingers to my lips.
"No apologies, Carlisle. It isn't necessary. I'm just happy you're home." With that she glanced over her shoulder and I followed her gaze to the fireplace. Our bed comforter had been spread out in front of the fire and candles adorned the mantle and the hearth. The Christmas lights twinkled and I heard the unmistakable sounds of Edward's piano playing and Renesmee's angelic singing.
My heart burned with intense warmth that quickly encompassed all of me. Could any man be as fortunate as I?
I looked back into the eyes of the woman who has given me so much and was in awe by the love I saw looking back at me. "Esme, you are such a gift, how could I ever show you how much I love you?"
She smiled coyly and took my hand, leading me to the fire while unfastening the top button of the shirt she wore, "Well, it is Christmas – why don't we go over to the fire and you can…unwrap your gift."
Thank you to everyone who has read my fanfics! This little bit of holiday fluff is meant to be my gift to you for your kindness! Merry Christmas and best wishes in the New Year.