I didn't succumb to unconsciousness for long. Dr. Cullen was back in my room before the night had ended. The circles under his eyes had gotten darker and contrasted more with the pale tone of his flesh.
"Carlisle," I spoke. My eyes welled up with tears.
I didn't want him to leave. I couldn't possibly be alone now—and oh how alone I truly was. Dr. Cullen ran his hands through my hair and his cold touch was refreshing against the hot temperature of my fever. Without a word, he grabbed a hold of the metal frame of the bed. He then took position behind me and began to wheel me from the room.
I closed my eyes. I didn't want to see where he was taking me; I didn't care. I was scarcely aware of the voices who spoke to Dr. Cullen as we progressed farther down the hall. I could feel the movement of the floor as it passed beneath me; I could feel the fresh, brisk air on my face as we exited the hospital. As he came to a stop, I opened my eyes. He had positioned the bed between the cover of two ambulance vehicles.
"Edward, I want to carry you to my home." He said it plainly as he looked to my eyes. I didn't argue, only nodded.
There was only a moment of hesitation in his regularly fluid movements, but he scooped me up into his arms effortlessly, leaving the bed behind. I felt the coolness radiate from his body although he didn't hold me too close. I was suddenly unaware as to where I should place my arms. I had instinctually reached to place them around his neck but in a moment of my own hesitation, I dropped them to my lap as he cradled me.
"That's alright, Edward. Place your hands around my neck."
I did so. His embrace became tighter and it sent a shiver down my spine. His gaze met my eyes and I felt safe. I leaned my head towards his body letting my eyes close and my mind wander. Our destination was of no consequence to me. I was overwhelmed with gratitude towards Dr. Cullen as I was sure he didn't want me to be alone in my last moments on this earth. How, in such a brief time, did I manage to feel so deeply connected to this man?
I felt him pause and I reopened my eyes. We were in front of a semi-wooded and very secluded lot. His house was reserved in size and I realized how oblivious I was to our location. I hadn't noticed which direction he turned when we left the hospital or the pace in which he brought me here. He didn't struggle to open the door or as he gently laid me down on his couch. Dr. Cullen—Carlisle—lived modestly. I could see shelves upon shelves of books. One wall was filled with painted portraits and a few newer photographs. I felt a pull to go wander through his book collection and examine the images plastered to the wall, but my body would not move. The last object in the room to leave an impression was a wooden cross. The wood was quite aged and worn. I couldn't place a date to it and before I could ask a single question, Carlisle spoke.
"I'm so sorry, Edward." He took my hand in his and stroked the top gently. He must have felt such deep pain knowing that there was nothing left to do. I was ready to embrace the next part of my journey—afterlife.
He turned my hand over with my palm facing upwards and lifted it to his face. He inhaled deeply when my wrist reached his nose. My eyebrows knit together in confusion, but I allowed him to continue.
The fluidity of his movements retuned but this time with such speed. I couldn't be sure of his actions, but I saw his teeth barred and felt my left hand drop to my side with a burning sensation. His movements grew in rapidity and my right wrist felt the same burn. In the same moment, he was at my neck as the immense heat coursed through my veins. What was this pain he was inflicting on me?
That thought stayed with me for an immeasurable amount of time. It was impossible to know if it was minutes that passed or hours—perhaps only seconds! The agony was relentless; I could feel nothing but the pain as it made its way through my body. My mind screamed out—if the noise escaped my lips, I took no notice. What did it matter if I was loud? No one knew the torment I felt, the suffering I had to endure. Why would this not end? I screamed and writhed in pain.
I needed to shift my focus. I heard footsteps pacing the floor, surely to leave a trodden path in the floorboards if the motions did not stop. It occurred to me that it must have been Carlisle. I daren't open my eyes to check for fear of being in a world not my own, a world far worse than I ever imagined possible for myself. What had I done to deserve this?
The time passed, but the agony did not. I still heard the rhythm of the footsteps. Had he not gotten tired? I wished for the sweet release of death, to be rejoined with my mother, my father. It had only been days, mere hours, but the torment in my heart was excruciating. I couldn't find the distinctions of all the pain I felt, it was all too deep.
My thought process became erratic, unable to cling to a thought for very long. That was when I heard Carlisle speak: Why is this taking so long?
Who was he talking to? Surely, I would have heard another pair of footsteps enter the room, but all I heard was Carlisle.
The venom must be lingering.
Venom? I began to turn my concentration to the thoughts he expelled.
It was the only way. Elizabeth told me to do everything in my power; this is the only power I possess. Yet I can't reconcile the desire to have a companion such as Edward, so pure, and condemning another soul to this life. He argued with himself unrelentingly. He was so capable of commiserating with others, but his pathos was torn. He is going to hate me for doing this to him.
I wanted to stop him, I didn't hate him. An excruciating cry erupted from my lips.
He winced at my despair and he looked to me. I could see myself through his mind. I was lying on the couch in the same hospital gown I wore for the past two days. A rose colored blanket covered me to my waist and I had a pillow beneath my head. My face, it looked so different. I was draining of all color—my flesh matched the same pale tone as Carlisle's. I recognized new similarities between us and continued to think about it for a moment longer. What was he? What was he turning me into? Most importantly, how was it that I could see myself through his mind? My thoughts were interrupted.
He continued with a stream of comments to himself, taking a brief pause between each thought.
I need him.
He wouldn't leave me. Look at the loyalty he showed his parents. But I'm not his parent. He'll come around, won't he?
I'll have to be careful; he'll be dangerous when he wakes up.
Although his thoughts were self-flagellating, his words were comforting. My assessment in the hospital was correct; I was special to him. He had felt the same connection.
The time slowed once more. I gained back the coherency of my thoughts. I heard Carlisle.
His heartbeat! This is it. I heard him take a few steps forward. "Edward, son?"
Son, he called me. Was it really that simple?
What is he thinking? Is he okay? Did he hear me?
He continued, "Edward, Open your eyes."
I did as he said.
Careful, Carlisle. He must feel disoriented. It's a lot to take in.
"What did you say?" I asked.
"I told you to open your eyes. It's over now."
I had too many thoughts, too many questions. I didn't know where to start.
He looks so confused. It's understandable.
"Stop that," I said, growing in anger.
"Stop what?" He was just as confused as I was. "Edward," he continued, "please, don't be angry."
I heard the fear in his voice, in the in same moment I saw myself through his mind. I didn't even realize it, but I was crouched next to the pyre that was my bed. My teeth were barred, ready to attack Carlisle. How did I get here? What was this posture I held? I looked furious in his eyes. There was no doubt that I was scaring him; I was a threat.
I straightened my pose with incomprehensible speed. "What happened to me?"
Should I tell him now or take him hunting first?
Though his lips didn't move, I could hear his thought perfectly.
"Carlisle—" I began but his thought interrupted my own.
I must tell him. I can't let his anger overcome him.
"Tell me what?"
His eyebrows pushed together in confusion. Did I say that aloud?
"No," I replied for him. "I can hear your thoughts." It sounded so ineffective coming from my lips. Couldn't he do this, too?
Hear my thoughts? The confusion did not leave his face. I also knew these thoughts were not meant for me.
"Yes, Carlisle. Wasn't this supposed to happen? Can't you do it, too?"
"No, Edward, I can't. I've never met another vampire with this gift."
Vampire? Gift? The words scarcely made sense, but when he uttered the word "vampire" I felt a twinge in my throat, a hollowness, a thirst for human blood. I needed blood. What a perverse need, but it was instinctual. I couldn't image anything else that would quench my thirst, put out the flames that roared in my throat. I began to look around me, sniffing the air, trying to discern the scent of human blood.
Carlisle must have noticed the shift in my composure. "We need to hunt," he said. There are many things I need to teach you. Please, trust that you do not need human blood. There are other ways, we can protect human life.
He spoke aloud again, "Here, let me show you." He placed one hand on my back between my shoulders and we walked into the night together. His embrace around me was an effortless gesture, with no thought to accompany it—natural. I knew what it meant for the both of us: he was no longer alone and I would never have to feel that suffering. Now, it was my turn to embrace our future; I would follow him.
I took a deep breath. I had forgotten my audience. It's quite remarkable, actually, I never conceived I'd have another thought without them. Earlier this evening, Renesme asked for a bedtime story—asked for this one specifically and Bella had always been just as curious.
After I took that initial deep breath, Bella stretched her lips across to meet mine. I inhaled her essence mixed with the scent of our beautiful baby girl and was perfectly content. Both of them had their eyes glued to mine trying to penetrate further into my mind but all Bella whispered was, "I love you." Her whispers filled my heart.
"As I love you," was all I replied and all she needed to hear.
She already knew my story and I did the best I could to recount it all for her. Most of what I told her I heard from Carlisle originally. I added whatever memories of my own I could manage and offered very few embellishments. No sooner than I began the story was I flooded with the dream I had of a faceless girl who was able to ignite my soul. I all seemed so obvious now. The meadow. How could I have not realized, even then, that she was my soul mate; she had always been the one I was looking for, the one to complete my existence.
Bella rose to take Renesme to her bed. As they exited the room I began to think that feeling merely content was not enough. I was happy, complete, fulfilled. I knew that not only did my family complete my own happiness but my mother and father's as well. Esme and Carlisle had finally completed their family with a wife for their son and a granddaughter—my daughter. I knew what I felt was only the beginning. This was only the surface of the love and warmth that Carlisle felt for me all those years ago. And Esme, the love and devotion she had shown me immediately after joining this new world, the passion she felt for Carlisle. I relished in the thought that this was only the beginning.
Bella returned to me. She climbed into the bed and nestled herself into my arms. My family and I still had an eternity to grow together, to reach our true potential—to reach such great heights. I held my wife and felt an overwhelming amount of love. I would have the rest of eternity to tell her and show her all the ways that I loved her. But in that moment, I just held her closer.
A/N: All feedback is much appreciated.