Title: Living Souls

Fandom: This is a fanfic piece... I only wish I was talented enough to draw what's in my mind.

Author: Pereybere

Prompt: Touch

Genre: Romance

Rating: Probably a T rated.

Word Count: 920 words

Spoilers: None really...

Summary: Carlisle's vulnerabilities emerge courtesy of a long forgotten book, and it's Bella that reaches out to him. CarlisexBella fic. For the Apple-a-Day fic-a-thon.

Disclaimer: I do not own the characters mentioned herein. There is no infringement intended.

Author's Note: This story is for the Apple-a-Day challenge fic-a-thon that I had mentioned in my other story. In between chapters, I decided to write a short piece of the prompt touch. I do so recommend you visiting the LiveJournal page where these Bella/Carlisle fics are being archived as the ones submitted so far have been amongst the best I have read on the Internet. (I can't put links on this, but if you type in Bella/Carlisle fic-a-thon into Google, it'll be the first result.) For anyone reading my other story, I will be writing a chapter for it next. Thanks for reading and please do review!

***

She had been quiet all afternoon, immersing herself in a book from his collection, whose spine was cracked and pages yellowed. He had watched her from behind his desk, clandestine, pretending to work on the haphazard pile of hospital reports that vied for – and failed to grasp – his attention.

When she had entered his study, she had done so with apology.

"I don't want to intrude..."

The others were hunting, her father at work and he had come to realise that in recent months Bella didn't relish solitude. Even when they didn't speak, merely existed in the same space together, her shoulders relaxed and she seemed to breathe easier.

"Nonsense," he had insisted, ignoring the lift of his heart at seeing her. "Please come in." Her smile, self conscious and unsure, filled him with a metaphorical warmth that he had left him perplexed and uncertain of himself. Being alone with Bella was something he had grown to look forward to, and it troubled him deeply. Troubled him that he had to lie in his thoughts for fear that Edward might become aware of the wayward direction of his musings.

"Do you mind if I read one of your books? You have so many... it's impressive." She had stood in front of his bookshelf for a long time, scanning her eyes over the faded titles – some pricey first editions that collectors would sell their soul to get their hands on. Choice of words, Carlisle. Few people would sell their soul if they knew what it entailed.

"Take any one you want." The silence had begun then, when she had removed an ancient Hindu holy text that he had obtained sometime in the eighteenth century. The pages were delicate and she treated them as such. He was fascinated by her – by the strength of her character and her desire to absorb knowledge. Too few humans understood the value of it and Carlisle had often longed for an opportunity to see the world through the eyes of humanity once more – and truly blessed through she was, Bella was willing to sacrifice it all for immortality.

Her smooth brow pulled into a frown, her thumb brushing over the text that her gaze lingered on. "What does this mean, Carlisle?" She unfolded herself from the couch on which he had spent many long nights pouring over impossibly intricate texts. As she crossed the study towards him, her enticing scent agitating the air around his nose, he stiffened.

She placed the open book before him, atop the pages he had been so desperately pretending to read. He recognised his handwriting in the margin; neat, slanting Sanskrit that had taken him an age to learn and familiarise himself with. He distinctly remembered pouring over this same book, a century ago, quill in hand, scribing these words to comfort himself. To appease his torture.

"Carlisle?" She peered over his shoulder, a silken curtain of luxuriously soft and heavily scented hair brushed his cheek and every ounce of his restraint was required then.

"It's Sanskrit," he said at last. "It says: 'The spirit that is in all things is immortal in them all.'." He touched the long-dried ink as though the ancient words might comfort him, still. "It's from the Bhagavad-Gita." His voice was wistful and Carlisle almost didn't notice that shift in the body behind him. Almost. Her malleable flesh pressed against his arm, warm and real, was a distraction. "I wanted to believe then, as I do now, that the soul I lost in seventeenth century still lives on somewhere." Her warmth breath fanned across his cheek and he couldn't look at her.

When her small, warm hand covered his on top of the pages; a gentle and yet poignant touch, his resolve melted away – as though the heat from her skin could dissolve it entirely. Golden eyes met rich, molten brown and the growing feelings for her came together in surprising solidity. Her gaze searched his, compassionate and understanding. His fingers opened of their own agreement, linking with hers and grasping to the life-force that was Bella Swan, like a drowning man caught in a whirlpool. He prayed that she too felt the connection, that it wasn't merely the delusional hopes of a desperate man.

"Carlisle..." her voice was as soft and assuring as her touch, the touch that was altogether too little. How much he wanted to immerse himself in the way her warm, silky skin would feel. "Your soul does live on. It lives in you. Every day you prove that it does." Her hand released his and he mourned the loss, joy swelling only when her palm opened and stretched across his chest – touching where his heart once beat. He could hear the rapidity of her own pulse and wondered at it. "It lives in your heart..." Her eyes were glazed and emotion tugged at him.

"I don't have a heart," he reminded her desolately. Oh how I wish that I did. How I wish that I could once more feel the accelerated thundering of my heart at her proximity... to feel real again. The corners of her lips pulled up, like a mother understanding something that a unwitting child simply couldn't comprehend.

"Yes," she insisted softly, "you do."

And then, like his composure and his determination not to admit that he loved her truly, her touch was gone and he was cold once more.

-End-

Just a teensy one-shot, but do let me know what you think of it! Thanks for reading!