A/N: Non-stupid Carlisle/Harry is long, long over-due. I mean, come on guys.

Jaded

It wasn't hard to pretend. He thought it would be, thought that he would have a nervous break-down before he was 30 if he had to live a lie. But here he was, 3 years after his 30th birthday and as sane as anybody.

After the war, things didn't go like he'd thought they would. Ginny left him within the month, and married some Quidditch jock a few years later. Hermione and Ron broke up much later, their vicious cycle of fighting turning to abuse. He would never forget finding Hermione outside his door at two in the morning with a black eye and four broken ribs. He never forgave Ron for that, and moved to America soon after to work with the University program they were forming for Muggle-borns.

That was where he met Ken and realized that he could love men too. Ken was…beautiful. Inside and out, he radiated grace and intellect that blew Harry away at first glance across the board table. But, like everything else in his life, that didn't work out either.

He tried not to think about why.

It was the devastation of losing Ken that drove him to renounce the magical world altogether. That was when the pretending began. He locked away his wand, cut his hair, and wore trousers instead of robes. He moved out of his mansion-sixed town house and into a shitty apartment. He got a cat.

And then he got a job. It wasn't an ambitious job, just something to do with his time. Lord knew he didn't need the money. But then he got good at it, really good. He was promoted, and then promoted again. This continued over the next few years, and then he was put on the advisory board of the company. A rival agency noticed him and bought him for their team, and he got promoted again, this time to vice president.

So he was in New York City for the weekend, 33 years old and wandless, meeting with an important potential client that he was already personally acquainted with. It was already a guarantee that he could convince Miles to sign the proposition, so he wasn't nervous at all.

Because it was a nice day, especially for New York, he chose to walk instead of taking the company car.

He stood at the corner of a block and waited for the light to change, looking up to admire the bright sky. The sun was hiding behind the clouds today, but it was still pretty out.

On the opposite side of the street, Carlisle Cullen looked at his watch and pressed his lips together. He was here to meet with the Elektra Coven, the only all-female coven in America, and he was running a little late. He'd had a fight with Esme last night, and he'd been so upset about it that he ended up losing some important papers. The Elektra Coven was extremely influential, especially amongst the traditional arts, medicine amongst them. They were some of the greatest supporters of Carlisle's research into healing Vampire-on-Vampire wounds and fading scars left from old teeth marks.

Part of the reason he was so passionate about his research was for Jasper's sake. He didn't have to read minds to know that the reminders of his old life pained his son, and anything he could do to lessen that pain would be incredibly rewarding for him as a father.

Lost in thought, he almost didn't notice the cab come careening through the intersection, and a red light. But he did notice when the scent of freshly-spilled blood wafted over to him from the other side of the street where a pedestrian had been struck by the car. He had to force himself to jog at a human pace over to the scene of the accident.

There was a man, young enough, splayed at awkward angles on the asphalt. He got on his knees and gently moved his head into his lap, waving away a screeching woman.

"Stand back! I'm a doctor! Has anyone called an ambulance? Or the police?"

He barely heard himself speak, mind in a haze. It wasn't just the blood- he'd long ago learned to control his natural reaction to that. No, it was the other smell. If he was human, it would be like a powerfully intoxicating perfume that wouldn't be forgotten or ignored. He smoothed his hand over the man's forehead, his palm brushing against an old scar in the shape of a lightning bolt.

Esme called him jaded last night. They didn't fight about that, though; he would be the first to agree that he had given up on a lot of things, and that his faith in human nature wavered and went out a long time ago. All that remained was his sense of duty, and a refusal to give into his inner monster. One of the things he'd given up on was ever finding his true Singer.

He'd had some false alarms over the years, some convincing enough to even fool Edward into thinking that they were real. But they'd always turned out to be surface-only Singers, flashy like a moth in the moonlight but lacking the true beauty of a butterfly.

This…this was different. Where before it had felt like a mere tickle, this felt like being punched in the nose, but in a pleasant way that he couldn't understand. This felt like seeing a sunset and a sunrise at the same time.

He wouldn't let anyone else come close to the injured human until the ambulance arrived, focusing on pressing his wadded jacket to his thigh, where he'd been bruised badly enough to split the skin an inch and a half deep.

The ambulance workers let him ride in the back, and he kept his hand clamped as tight as he dared around the man's wrist. Now that he'd found his Singer, he didn't want to ever let him out of his sight.

While filling out the paperwork, he was handed the man's wallet to examine his I.D. He found out that his name was Henry J. Potter, that he was 33 years old, and that he had green eyes but required glasses to drive. He savored these little details, doing a quick search through the wallet for any photos of family. There hadn't been a wedding ring on him when they met, so to speak, but that didn't mean anything.

Only one picture was tucked into a slot of the wallet. It was of a group of young people, wearing formal school uniforms, standing in front of a castle. From the formality and the way they were posed, he assumed it was a graduation photo of some kind. His eyes narrowed when he saw that an attractive red-headed girl had her arm looped through Henry's.

Waiting in the hospital, Elektra Coven completely forgotten, he let himself wonder why he'd never thought about his Singer being a man. It just hadn't occurred to him that…well, that he could fall so hard for a man like that. He'd been married to a woman for so long and most of the time he was happy with Esme; they understood each other, and even if the romance had faded a long time ago, they were still so close that the thought of divorce was ridiculous to them both.

Eventually he was allowed to visit him, now that he'd received stitches and was lucid enough to ask who had brought him into the hospital.

Henry was sitting up in bed, and he smiled when he saw Carlisle walk in.

"Hi!"

He had a trace of an accent, English or Australian, or maybe even Canadian. Carlisle wasn't sure which.

"Are you the poor saint who took care of me?"

He nodded, trying to regain his equilibrium. Definitely an English accent. He was in a small room filled to the bursting with Henry's scent mixed with the lingering after-scent of blood and rubbing alcohol.

"Yeah; I was standing on the other side of the street when it happened. You were knocked out cold; do you have a concussion? The back of your head was bleeding a little."

Henry shook his head, "No concussion here. I've got a thick skull, and I've been knocked out before," When Carlisle raised an eyebrow, he clarified, "I had a bit of what you might call a 'wild youth', so getting battered is nothing shocking."

"I'm sorry to hear that. Can I get you anything, like a cup of water?"

"Oh, that would be lovely. They've got me tangled up in wires, so I daren't attempt to pour it myself. Say, we're perfect strangers. What's your name? Mine's Harry, though I haven't been called that since school. Most call me Henry now. Such is the price of getting old, I suppose."

Carlisle avoided commenting on how much older he could be. He handed Harry the cup of water with a grunt to show that he was listening, being careful to keep close in case Harry's muscles were too weak to hold it for very long.

"My name is Carlisle Cullen. Fortunately for you, I am a doctor and just happened to be near by during your accident."

Harry was surprised and set down his cup to exclaim, "No! Really? Good luck for me, then. Which hospital are you with? This one?"

He shook his head, "No, I'm independent right now. I operate as an emergency consultant for brain surgery anomalies," he shrugged, "It's a living."

"Brain surgeries…wow…you don't think I'll need any of that, do you?"

He laughed, "No, I don't think so."

They chatted for the next few hours, discovering common interest in rugby and the Impressionist painters. He mentioned that there was an exhibit of Impressionist art at one of the big art museums, and Harry said that he'd love to visit it later.

And just like that, it was arranged for Harry to treat Carlisle to dinner and a stroll through the art exhibit once he was released as a thank you for saving his life.

Carlisle wondered if this was a date.

~000~

He didn't know what was going on. This feeling…it filled all of his insides, from where his heart used to be all the way up to his throat. His ears rang, mind buzzing.

Dinner was pleasant, though he had to disguise the fact that he wasn't eating anything by sneakily slipping his food under the table or into his napkin, and the evening showing of the artwork was beyond beautiful. It wasn't until they were examining Van Gogh's Starry Night that he noticed that he was floating just outside of his body, soul unfettered and rejoicing to be near Harry.

He tried to get himself together, to rationalize that there was no way he could start or suggest anything to Harry like that, but without success. Every passing whiff of air that blew Harry's scent his way sent his mind a little further from sanity. It was a miracle that he could keep his cool, though that was mostly due to the other people also milling around.

He moved onto the next painting to try and get some distance from that smell.

Harry followed and settled beside him on the bench meant for those intent on a long gazing session. He frowned when he saw the unfocused look to Carlisle's honey eyes. Leaning closer, he murmured so as not to worry the security guard,

"Are you alright? Do you need some air?"

Carlisle nodded to the second query, and Harry gently took hold of his upper arm and guided him swiftly through the rest of the exhibit to the nearest door. It led out onto one of the balconies that overlooked the manicured gardens filled with modern sculpture. Harry located a bench set at an angle so that the garden could be easily viewed and sat Carlisle on it.

They sat in silence just enjoying the distant sounds of the city and the peace of the evening. Harry finally said,

"You're not human, are you?"

Carlisle flinched for the first time in decades. He'd never had those words directed at him. He'd always been so careful, so controlled…how could Harry have noticed?

"What…what gave me away?" he croaked.

Harry barked a laugh and lit a cigarette before replying, "I had a wild youth, remember? I picked up some interesting life skills. One of those skills is how to know a Vampire when I see one. You did a very good job at dinner, hiding your food. That was clever of you with the wine bottle."

"I…I don't know what to say."

"Then don't say anything at all."

He didn't, and Harry quietly smoked his cigarette. The sounds of traffic sounded even farther away now, and a sort of relief spread through Carlisle. He still felt overwhelmed by Harry's scent and the knowledge that there were humans out there who could recognize a Vampire on sight, but that was distant. He was focused on the here and now, and that included the gentle warmth of Harry's body heat from ten inches away.

"You smell nice," he eventually said, smiling when Harry turned his head to meet his eyes.

"Really? Thanks."

They were quiet again, and then Harry said, "Do you want to smell more of me?"

A night in Carlisle's hotel room later answered that question with a firm 'yes'. New York City pulsed with life around them, but he paid no mind to the myriad scents available. He had the best perfume of all twisted in his 3000-count sheets.

All that remained for him to worry about was how he was going to smooth things over with the Elektra Coven, but Harry's hand on his thigh convinced him that he could take a break from responsibility for a little longer.

~000~

End Jaded

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