Soul Meets Body
A fanfiction piece written by thalia_csiny
I wrote this piece quite some time ago but only gotten around to posting it. This is my first Carlisle/Esme story so I'm pretty nervous about it. Do let me know what you think of it. Thanks!
Many thanks to subtlynice for the kind beta work. :D
Disclaimer: Twilight and all recognizable characters belong to Stephenie Meyer.
Carlisle paced the length of his study, the sound of his breathing and footsteps his only companions. His mind was in a whirl and for once, he was glad that Edward was not around. He would not be in the right state of mind to mollify Edward, something he knew would happen when he got agitated at the onslaught of confused thoughts.
A small frown creased his forehead as he concentrated on the situation at hand. As a doctor, he prided himself at being unflappable. He was the go-to man when there was a crisis; when it seemed impossible to treat a particular patient. He was the one who would have all the answers, but as it became clear to him now, even the levelheaded Dr. Carlisle Cullen would meet his downfall one day.
Perhaps to a third-party observer, the problem he had would not seem very complicated. But it was, and Carlisle did not even have the benefit of calling in a third-party observer, Edward. Because he knew what the young man would say.
It's not right what you're doing. You're only confusing her. You promised her to give her space, and time. This is only going to be seen as a push.
And as reluctant as Carlisle was to admit it, he knew that Edward was right.
Esme heard the main door swing shut and knew that it must be Edward returning home from a hunt. A sad smile crept up her face. She worried about the boy. Although she had been part of the "family' for only a year, she was fond of Edward and saw him as a surrogate son. He was starting to change. He was becoming more and more moody and whenever she would try to raise the issue with him, he simply brushed it aside, refusing to divulge anything more.
She knew she could never be a "real" mother to him but in her heart, she hoped that he could see her as his mother, just as she saw him as her son. She wasn't sure of how to raise a child, her one and only chance had been stolen away from her, but she did her best. She asked him to play music for her and he would oblige but lately, the pieces were becoming more and more melancholy.
He was getting depressed and she knew the exact feeling. Was it not just months ago when she was struggling with the same emotions? She had been brought into this new life against her will and she rebelled against everything and everyone. She hated Dr. Cullen for saving her, for changing her. She had wanted to die, to leave this world and be done with it. But when even that was taken away from her, the pain she suffered was more than what her husband had ever afflicted upon her. Not everyone wanted to live forever.
When she had just awoken from her change, she had no recollection at all. All she knew was the burning fire at the back of her throat. Her next few months were preoccupied with hunting and more hunting, the men having to restrain her from attacking humans. She never knew what made her die in the first place; her change had been painful. It was only after - when Edward went to learn the truth and told her - did she remember her human past
And she hated Dr. Cullen even more.
But it was getting better now. It seemed that she was… mellowing out. They could hold a civilized conversation for more than 2 minutes and whenever Esme looked at him, she wasn't filled with suppressed anger. She knew she would have to speak to Dr. Cullen soon; she had concerns about Edward that she needed to share with him.
She could see that he was going down the same road she did, she just didn't know how to save him.
"I thought I could hear your thoughts from the moment I came in," Edward stood at the doorway, looking into Carlisle's study. He leaned against the frame, his hair tousled and his shirt slightly crumpled.
Carlisle smiled sheepishly. He guessed that Edward must have just returned from his hunting and he felt a pang of guilt for his thoughts. The hunt was meant to be relaxing for Edward; he shouldn't have to bear the rush of jumbled-up thoughts so soon.
"You don't have to hide them," Edward sighed as he walked into the room. "The Swedish national anthem, really?"
Carlisle shrugged. "Are you all right? You seem troubled."
If the sudden change in topic fazed Edward, he called no attention to it. He strolled through the room, tracing the length of a drawer with a finger. He went to sit at the armchair and crossed his arms casually, and looked at Carlisle with a curious expression on his face.
"I should be asking you the same thing," his eyebrows furrowed.
Carlisle opened his mouth to answer but closed it at the last moment. He concentrated on the Swedish national anthem, hoping that Edward wouldn't be able to figure out that he was thinking about Edward himself subconsciously.
He had noticed that the younger man was growing more and more despondent. The intervals between his hunting trips were getting longer and it seemed that he no longer cared for his past-times: music and reading. He longed to be able to talk to Edward about it; he knew something was weighing heavily his mind but whenever he brought up the subject, Edward would brush it off or simply gave a vague answer. It was times like these he wished he had Edward's gift as well.
He would have to speak to Esme about it soon. After all, she spent more time with Edward than he did, what with his job at the hospital.
"I'd like to ask your opinion on something," Carlisle diverted the issue to another matter of pressing importance. He moved to sit at the chair in front of Edward's. He quickly deliberated over the idea of discussing his problem with the boy. It was entirely possible that he would have a different opinion from him, but at least this way, he would have a sounding board.
"What would you like to discuss?" Edward became more serious, if that were possible. He sat up even straighter and had his hands on his lap.
"What do you think of me getting Esme a gift?"
"A gift? What sort of a gift?" Edward became suspicious as he tried to probe Carlisle's mind but failed to come up with anything useful.
"It's nothing too…big or serious," Carlisle was already beginning to hate how this whole conversation sounded so formal. But it wasn't unexpected; Edward always had a level of maturity towards his years. "I just thought perhaps she might like a place she could go to when she wants to get away from us..." He trailed off, not wanting to say anymore.
"Oh, a small cottage somewhere then?"
Carlisle grew more uncomfortable. Lying would not be advised, after all, it would not take long for Edward to find out the truth but if he told the truth…
"Not exactly. To be more specific, it's more of an… island," Carlisle maintained eye contact with Edward, determined not to falter at this crucial moment.
"You promised! You promised!" Edward insisted as he jumped to his feet, furious now. "You gave me your word that you wouldn't do anything to make her feel obligated to you in any way; that she would be allowed to leave us if she wanted to! What do you call this?"
Carlisle immediately regretted asking Edward for his view. He knew he would get a heated response but he never imagined such an intense reaction. "Edward, calm down! You're over-reacting!" He rose to meet Edward at his height.
"No, I'm not!" Edward began to pace the room in quick, short steps, his temper rising. "You think this will erase your guilt? That she will finally forgive you for changing her? You're wrong!" He spat the words out.
In that moment, Carlisle saw the fury in Edward's eyes, and he felt fear. Not for himself but for Edward. He had never seen him so angry before; he could not understand why he was so angry.
"It's just a gift, Edward! She is free to reject it!" Carlisle tried to reason with him, almost pleading for him to calm down.
"You seek to take advantage of her!" Edward pointed an accusing finger at him. "You wish to exploit her kindness like her husband did!"
"Edward Anthony Masen!" Carlisle shouted, his usual calm deserted him. How could Edward possibly think of such a thing of him? Had they not known each other for so long? Carlisle's character was better than that. "How dare you speak as such? Do you not know my character by now? How could you think of me this way?"
And as sudden as his anger had taken over, it left him and Edward became more collected. "I don't know what to think of anyone anymore," he admitted in a subdued voice.
Right away, Carlisle's indignation dissipated. He bade Edward to take a seat once more and he did the same. "Is this what's been troubling you? The thoughts you've been hearing?"
"I don't think…" Edward trailed off, unsure of how to continue. "This life… It's difficult. I… I don't think it's right anymore."
Esme paused at the foot of the staircase, hesitant to walk any further. Even without her vampire hearing, she could hear Edward and Carlisle in the latter's study and they were having an argument. She immediately felt guilty for eavesdropping and started walking away, willing herself to tune out the conversation. Soon, it became nothing more than a slight buzz.
She couldn't help but noticed how impassioned Dr. Cullen had sounded. He rarely ever showed any… fervor. From the time she had entered this world and had known him, he always seemed to be perpetually unruffled.
Walking into their beautiful but pointless kitchen, she laughed to herself softly as she realized that she still addressed Dr. Cullen by such a formal designation. Surely enough time had passed for her to start calling him by his first name. He was more than just her creator, after all.
Yes, she had to acknowledge that fact. She sat at one of the kitchen chairs, preoccupied with her thoughts. In the beginning, she had resented him for changing her, for imposing his will on her and vowed that she would leave him at the soonest.
But it was difficult. The thirst she had was unquenchable and disgusted as she was about what she had become, she was even more horrified at the thought of what she could do to humans. She tried hard not to harm, not to kill them, but it was simply too punishing. On one hand, she couldn't get away from Dr. Carlisle fast enough but on the other, she did not possess the self-control needed to be left alone.
It was Edward who had proposed the compromise. She would stay until she could master the restraint needed and when the time came, she was free to leave them with no obligations attached. But now that she was getting better at governing her thirst, her desire to leave was becoming weaker. How could she leave Edward, the son she had grown to love or even Dr. Cullen, the man she had once hated so vehemently?
After she had regained consciousness after her change, she was filled with the deepest kind of depression. She had wanted to die but now, she had been cursed to live forever. She blamed Dr. Cullen for it, for bringing her into this pain and swore that she would hate him forever. She suffered from the worst kind of mood swings, alternating between her depression, rage and hate. Even when the slightest smile managed to find its way to her face, she would fight it off, knowing that she would not, could not ever be happy in this life.
Dr. Cullen never helped with the situation, if anything, he made it worse. She knew he was feeling guilty; she had made it plainly clear that he should be, every time he was in her presence. He tried to talk to her, to have a conversation or two with her but she was too angry. Every time she saw him, she saw the leap she took off that cliff and how she was meant to die and join her baby boy. She saw her deliverance denied.
That was why he tried to make it up to her. He was kind to her, always treated her with respect and politeness. He indulged in every one of her whims and fancies, as long as it was within reason. Whatever she wanted, be it a new dress or new fabrics for curtains, he would buy it for her. Even if it was just a stray thought Edward caught and told it to him.
At first, she was furious with his behavior. As if she could be bribed into enjoying this life, bribed to not hate him. But slowly, as her mood swings lessened and she had more control of herself, she began to see that that wasn't his intention. He only meant to make this existence a little easier, to help her in the only way he knew how. She could see that now.
Dr. Cullen, no, Carlisle, he was more than just her creator. She had been struggling with her feelings for some time now. After so long feeling only hate and anger towards him, it scared her when she started feeling something other than those emotions towards him. It's been slightly more than a year now since becoming a vampire and her human memories were fast fading. The pain behind her reasons for jumping off that cliff was dulling; it didn't hurt so much anymore and the anger she held on so tightly before, it no longer felt so suffocating.
But vague human memories aside, the one recollection she could still see so vividly in her mind was the one when she was 16, her leg being treated by Carlisle. She could still remember his gentle touch, his kind eyes. Wouldn't it be so much easier if she just didn't hate him anymore? He would no longer be so reserved when it came to her and perhaps, just perhaps, he would hold her hand again and she could feel human once more.
It was a cold and snowy night; the town of Madison, Wisconsin was experiencing an unexpected blizzard. Although the weather now held no influence on their bodies, Carlisle was still fond of pretending it did. It was these little things that reminded him of who he once was, and what he could do with the hand Fate dealt him with.
Bundled up in an unnecessary black trench coat with a scarf covering his neck, Carlisle tucked his hands into his pocket while he walked through the garden that late, late night. It was nights like this one where he liked to take advantage of the capability he had to withstand extreme temperatures and venture outdoors. It was hard to pass time as a vampire now. Sleep was unattainable and when he had such pressing matters on his mind, he just needed for the time to pass swiftly.
He had just walked past the sheaf of bluebells when he noticed a figure seated on the stone bench. He knew it was Esme immediately from the shape of the figure and he noticed that she was only wearing a simple nightdress. Instinctively, he wanted to take off his coat to place it on her shoulders but he held back, worried that it would upset her.
He walked towards her, making his footsteps louder than usual. After all, he had no intentions of scaring her. Esme did not turn around as Carlisle removed his coat, folding it over his arm.
"Hello, Esme," he greeted as he came to be in front of her.
"I thought it was you, Dr. Carlisle," she smiled.
"Here, you may want this. It's cold tonight," he offered the coat. He made sure that it was an open invitation. She was free to accept the coat, or reject it. He was pleasantly surprised when she accepted it after all, scooting over to give him more space on the bench while wearing the coat.
"You seem…unsettled, Dr. Cullen. Is everything all right?" Esme noted as he sat beside her. It had not been a surprise to her when she realized it was Dr. Cullen standing behind her in the garden. She knew of his late-night strolls, a few weeks after her change when she was still barricading herself in her room, she could see from her window that he walked the garden every night, for hours and hours on end.
Carlisle debated on sharing with her his afternoon with Edward. He didn't want to distress her in any way but over the last few months, he had come to see Esme and himself as Edward's parents. Surely she must have noticed the change in his behavior as well?
"It's about Edward…" He trailed off, his mind reluctant to process the afternoon's events all over again. "I fear that he's going through a difficult phase."
"I've been meaning to talk to you about him as well," Esme was of the same mind. Carlisle's face lit with a surprised expression. "He's going more…moody. He's not the same boy anymore."
"You spend more time with him than I do. Has he…has he said anything?"
"No," Esme's shoulders fell as she left out a heavy sigh. "I think he might be becoming… depressed."
"With what?" Carlisle was frantically trying to piece everything together in his mind. He knew he had to help Edward somehow.
"He doesn't say but I can tell. I see my…former self in him," she grew quieter now. She never liked thinking about what she used to be; right after her change. It frightened her, what she once was.
"I tried speaking to him today," Carlisle nodded, giving Esme's shoulder a comforting pat. He was glad when she didn't flinch from his touch. "I tried to get him to talk but you know Edward. He can be so stubborn when he wants to be," he shook his head.
"What did he say?" she pressed on.
"He said that this life is getting too difficult for him, that it wasn't right anymore. The thoughts that he can hear from the minds of others are haunting him. I tried to get him to elaborate but before I could, he completely shut me out," Carlisle sighed deeply. "He said that it was something he needed to figure out on his own."
"I'm sorry that you couldn't help him any further," Esme comforted him after a pause. "I'm sure he knows that you mean only well," she insisted as her eyebrows knitted together in slight frustration. Why did it bother her so much that he was upset? Why did she suddenly have this urge to reach over and cover his hand with hers?
"After today…" He shook his head once more. "I feel that it's imperative I find out what's wrong. I have this feeling inside of me… It's not a good feeling."
"I will help you," she assured him. "Edward talks to me too, sometimes. I will do my best to help you help him. We can do this."
Carlisle looked at her and was almost taken aback at the fierce determination on her face. He knew it shouldn't have surprised him, after all, there was a motherly quality towards Esme – she loved Edward to a fault.
"I should hope so. After today, he might not like me so much anymore," Carlisle remarked.
"What did happen today? I heard you two arguing?" She grew concerned, as the afternoon became refreshed in her mind.
With his breath caught in his throat, all thoughts on Edward were momentarily forgotten, as Carlisle looked to Esme in minute alarm. He and his big mouth. Now what was he going to tell her?
"It was nothing," he casually brushed it aside, hoping she would do the same.
"You can tell me," she pressed on.
There was a pregnant silence. Carlisle deliberated on telling Esme of her gift. It seemed like a miracle that they were even having such a long conversation like this; surely a gift would ruin everything for them again.
"It was nothing, really," his tone tried to belittle the significance of the topic. "We were discussing my giving you a gift."
"A gift?" Esme's voice seemed to go an octave higher as her face lit up. Carlisle was surprised to see this. "What sort of a gift?"
"It's nothing really," he hurried to clarify. "I don't want you to think that this makes you obligated to me in any way. I assure you, that was not my intention. Nor is it meant to bribe you in any sort of way…" he paused before continuing. "It's just that, I've given Edward gifts before too, and I thought you might like one as well."
He looked to Esme, afraid of the kind of reaction she would have. Instead, she simply looked at him, waiting. His hand went to the breast pocket of his shirt, fingering the title deed of the island he had inside. He carried everywhere with him now, wary that Esme might find it on her own should he leave it lying around the house.
He took a deep breath before taking it out and giving it to her. "I thought you might like to get away from us sometimes, take a break," a small smile on his lips. "And you did mention an interest in interior designing."
Esme unfolded the paper and saw that it was a title deed, with her name on it. She was now the owner of an island. An island. Who buys people islands, a panicked thought ran through her mind. "So instead of a house, you bought me an island?" she asked, almost bemused.
"I was going for originality," he joked but there was a serious undertone in his voice.
"Dr. Cullen, I…"
"Please, call me Carlisle," he insisted.
There was a time before when such a request would be met with a hiss. Esme refused to be on… friendly terms with her creator. But her thoughts in the afternoon had given her an encouraging push. She was beginning to love Edward as her son already and she couldn't possibly leave them now. Surely being on more amiable terms with her maker wouldn't be so difficult.
"Carlisle," was it wrong of her to feel so good, speaking his name? "I can't accept this."
"Edward said you might think it's my way of buying your forgiveness for me changing you," the words all came out in a rush now. "I can honestly tell you, that it's not, although, I still do seek your forgiveness on that matter. It's just that I want you to be happy and I was hoping that this gift would make you reconsider the compromise we made before, that you might like to stay… with us, at least for a little while longer. And if you stayed, you might want a place to relax on your own on occasions."
Under the intense stare of Carlisle's, Esme involuntarily hugged herself tighter. She was giving his words serious consideration. Perhaps it was time for her to give up her human past. What good would it do her if she carried on clinging to the pain, the agony? She had a new life now, and while it would never be as good as the one she had before, she knew it could never be as bad either.
"Your gift is… extravagant, to say the least."
He smiled sheepishly. "I had hoped that the monetary value would make you consider staying with us a little longer," he admitted. "So would you like that? Stay a little longer?" he brushed off the snow that had collected on the top of her head and her shoulders.
Esme found it strange that after so many months of vehemently refusing his touch, whether it had been a hand on her shoulder, a simple brush of knees, her heart was now delighting at every moment Carlisle's skin was on hers.
If it were possible, she was sure she would have blushed. But be that as it may… "Yes, I think I might like that actually," she nodded, her head bowed as she spoke quietly, knowing that no matter how soft she was, Carlisle would hear her anyway.
++++++ END ++++++
Please review! Thank you!