Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer and Summit Entertainment own all things Twilight-related.

Author's Notes: Creative liberty is my drug of choice, and I use it liberally when needed. Mostly because I'm not so well versed in this fandom's canon...

Many thanks to Laura for her insightful comments and suggestions. Any mistakes in the final draft are entirely my own.

For Kristy.

It feels like I'm trapped in a really bizarre Alanis Morissette song: introverted restless youth finds Vampire soulmate; Vampire soulmate keeps introverted restless youth at arm's length despite declarations of love and devotion, all wrapped in the promise of eternal happiness - which may or may not happen - as seen by Vampire soulmate's far-seeing sisterly figure. Add in a healthy dose of emotional repression and nearly a year of unbearable sexual frustration, and you get the picture.

Where can I get some of those jagged little pills, I wonder?

A kiss once in a while would do wonders. I've told Edward as much, but he's still so utterly terrified of losing control and hurting me. He's asked me to wait, to give us time, but his explanations are so vague that I have no idea what he really means. Does he want to get used to my scent? Buffer his defenses? Grow up (in Vampire terms)? What? God, Edward, just tell me, please, so I have something to grab onto, something that makes sense to my pathetic human brain. But he never does. He just smiles and squeezes my hand every time the subject comes up, as though that itself will solve all problems and make everything exceedingly clear to me.

It doesn't. Naturally. I'm a mass of hormonal and emotional need. Unfulfilled. Touch-deprived. I'd never realized how badly I needed that until it was just outside of my reach, no pun intended.

I've stopped trying to discuss this with Edward. I can't bear the pain I see in his eyes, or the guilt I feel for bringing it up at all. He sympathizes, I know, but I don't have more than a century's worth of practice in controlling and suppressing my needs like he does. I'm only human.

He loves me, but he won't love me.

He wants us to have a long and happy life together, but he refuses to let forever happen by his own hand. Or teeth. Or whatever.

No one could bear this kind of torture and remain unscathed. No one. Not even me.

Especially me.

That's when my thoughts started to wander. I've allowed it, and I've even welcomed the forbidden warmth of them in moments when I know I'm truly alone, just me and my hand, all sticky with sweat and sex. Lust is a perfectly healthy thing, right? Even if it's not Edward I'm craving in my fantasies...

...because craving him there too is just a bit heavy on the masochistic side.

No, there were other viable targets for my imagination. Jacob, all bulging six-pack and puppy dog eyes. Jasper. Emmett, with his infectious smile. And then there's Carlisle, the paragon of kindness and compassion. With godlike magnificence, of course. Oh, the things I'd fantasized about his long, talented surgeon's fingers doing to me...

But even lustful fantasies have their beneficial limits. The emptiness always remained afterward, gnawing at me. I felt trapped, held in limbo by forces completely beyond my control. Anger warred with unbearable sadness deep in my gut. I was tired of being a precious China doll on Edward's mantelpiece, adored and protected at all costs. I wanted to live! To feel something - anything at all besides this, this...deadness.

Yes, I felt dead. Inside and out. More dead than the living dead who surrounded me and called me part of their family. How appropriately ironic.

A startling revelation indeed, yet it wasn't until my eighteenth birthday that I'd realized just how deeply I'd lowered myself in my quest for inner peace. The wrapping paper on the gift Alice had handed me had been so pretty, but all I remember thinking about was how sharp the edges of the bow probably were. Sharp enough to slice through the first few layers of my skin and draw forth what I knew at least one person in the room wouldn't be able to resist...

It was dream-like, blurred and in slow motion...whoops, a paper cut. Silly me!

Jasper's nostril's flared, and I welcomed it, my gaze begging him to do what Edward, it seemed, could not. If changing was the only way for me to feel alive again, I was more than ready.

But if there's one thing I've learned over and over the hard way, it's that life is never fair.

Me, hurled across the room. Broken glass in my arm. Edward staring at me sadly, knowingly. The Cullen household vacated in the blink of an eye. All because of me. All because I just wanted to feel something. Anything!

Carlisle gently guided me to his office and began removing the bits of glass. I didn't need the anesthetic he used; I was already numb. He worked efficiently and without conversation, but I could feel the weight of his gaze upon me. How had it come to this? Was I really being that selfish? Tears swam in my eyes, but I was too stubborn to let them fall.

"I should leave," I whispered. So many layers of significance there. I never expected Carlisle to catch on, but he did.

Setting the foreceps down, he invaded my personal space, boxing me in as he rested his hands on the desk I was perched on. "Don't."

His voice was rich with so many of his own meanings, some of which were obvious. Others weren't. And it was those hidden possibilities that ultimately made the decision for me - that and the gush of wetness that saturated my panties as if on cue.

I reached for him, my fingertips tracing the strong line of his jaw. Cold and flawlessly smooth, like porcelain. His nostrils flared slightly; he could smell my need. Then I looked into his eyes, and what I saw there aroused me even further. The blackness of his pupils dominated those beautiful honey-colored orbs, but not from bloodlust. No...it was something far more dangerous than that.


All for this broken shell of the person I used to be.

Perhaps things between he and Esme weren't as picture-perfect as they seemed. Why else would the good Doctor Cullen be caught on that knife-edge of indecision between righteous morality and insanity when the correct path was as clear as spring water?

Apparently mine wasn't the only desperate soul present.

I fisted the front of his dress shirt slowly and pulled him closer. He didn't resist, didn't even try to reason with me. When his lips were but a hair's breadth from mine, I paused. I wanted to give him one last chance to back away before I dragged him into my hopeless little world. When he still didn't move, I closed the distance, snatching his bottom lip between my teeth and biting down hard.

And that was it.

I was on my back in less than a second, the former contents of his desktop scattered to the far corners of his office. I tried to gasp, but the wind had been completely knocked out of me. It wouldn't have mattered anyway since his mouth crushed against mine, his tongue demanding entry while his hands pushed under my dress and tore at my underwear.

Something ignited inside me then, a bright pulse of electricity that jolted my heart; it was almost like being resuscitated and finally feeling blood shoot through my withered veins. Clinging to that feeling as though my life depended on it, I wrapped my arms around Carlisle's back and pulled desperately, needing to feel all of his weight on me. We grappled like that for a few moments, pressing and fumbling and nipping at each other, until he finally snaked an arm around my backside and yanked me towards the edge of the desk, burying his hard length within me in one forceful thrust.

The pain of his entry sliced through me like that of a frozen knife, but I welcomed it, screaming my assent so loudly I feared shattering all the glasswork in their home. Yes! This was what I so desperately needed! The world around us disappeared as my awareness narrowed sharply...the spicy scent of his cologne; his labored breath in my ear, on my face; the feel of his perfect, rock-hard muscles beneath my roving hands, and the bruising force of him as he pounded into me again and again...

"Harder!" I choked out, bracing myself as he obeyed until the desk literally rocked with the effort. Oh, I was going to be in a world of hurt after this, but I didn't care. I felt more alive than I had in months.

Carlisle shifted suddenly, his rhythm hitching. Reaching between us, he quickly pinched my center once, then twice before using his inhuman speed to vibrate the tiny nub of flesh. I went off like a firecracker, nearly doubling over backwards as he finally roared and shuddered above me. It was divine. It was sublime. And intensity of it all scared the absolute hell out of me.

It took me nearly a full minute afterwards to realize I was crying - purification and self-absolution all in one. I was bruised beyond belief and I tasted blood in my mouth, but it had been a long, long time since I'd felt this whole. I couldn't even bring myself to worry when Carlisle lifted his head from the crook of my neck to gaze at me, utter mortification written in his expression and his eyes. I saw a thousand unanswered questions there. And fear. Lots and lots of fear. So, I did the only thing I deemed appropriate for the tense moment hanging between us: I cradled his face in my hands, brushed a heartfelt kiss across his brow, and whispered, "Thank you."

Looking back on it now, I realize we should have at least discussed how to handle the incident instead of simply righting ourselves, cleaning up, and pretending like nothing happened. Hell, we should have at least said something to each other, but we were far too busy dissecting our own little private corners of purgatory for something so trivial.

It really didn't matter much in the end, though, because Edward came to me the next day and told me they were all leaving. His reasons were vague. Again. I never saw it coming, yet I wasn't all that surprised. A large part of me crumbled as he disappeared into the woods. Yet there was another part of me that stood firm even as I ran through the trees, searching in vain for a glimpse of the man with whom I thought I would spend eternity.

Much like a butterfly newly emerged from its chrysalis, I was wet from the tears of the forest. And very weak. But I'd been set free - in more ways than one - and the healing had already begun.

Whatever the future brought with it, I would be ready.