DC: I don't own it
thanks to my reviewers!
I'm just gonna say here, I love Aro and Carlisle. Ever since New Moon I pictured Carlisle's time in Volterra and being with Aro very entertaining with him being teased a lot by the three brothers.
"Why are you keeping me down here?" Carlisle asked one afternoon as Aro brought him a new book.
"Right now you're a newborn, ergo unpredictable. Down here it's easier to contain you what with there being less exits. It's nothing personal, we just have to keep our secret."
Carlisle took the book from Aro and sunk into the large sofa.
"You're calming down," Aro observed, sitting in the arm chair and propping his feet on the coffee table. "Your newborn blood is changing."
"What does that even mean?" Carlisle sighed.
"It means we'll see how you react outside of your nice little tomb. I must say I don't care for your alterations to the decor," Aro added as an afterthought, glancing at the wall where Carlisle had carved a nice sized hole with his fingernail.
"You can put a poster over it or something," Carlisle mumbled, opening the book. "Y'know I never really read Hamlet."
"Isn't it required reading in schools now?" Aro asked, frowning slightly. "Good lord I had hoped you kids were getting a good education."
"Yeah it was," Carlisle said, flipping through the pages. "Esme was really into it so she let me copy her work in exchange for my math answers."
"And here I thought you were a good student," Aro smirked.
"I know the basic story. Revenge and all that. Maybe I'll get some ideas."
Aro dropped his head back and laughed. "Ah yes, you want to kill me."
"More than anything."
"Well that will change," Aro promised, "the boys are back. Why don't you join us?"
"This isn't a trick is it?" Carlisle asked, looking up from the book. "I mean you usually clothesline me or something."
"Well don't make any sudden movements and we'll see how it goes," Aro shrugged. "I know you won't believe me but the smell of blood is a bit stronger upstairs. You can pick up the neighbors scents better up here."
Carlisle walked up the creaking wooden steps into the sunlight. The hallway he entered into was lined with old oil paintings of shadowy figures. A large one at the end of the hall was of the three brothers sitting on a marble balcony wearing hooded black cloaks.
"The good old days," Aro sighed sadly, "back when we didn't have to put so much effort into hiding."
"You live in a suburb," Carlisle reminded him, "how is that effort?"
"Hiding bodies," Aro clarified, "I took care to save some of your blood. The odds of you running into anybody you know in the world once we move on are extremely low but all the same it would be nice if the police could declare you dead."
Carlisle felt like his stomach dropped out. He looked away from the painting on the wall to Aro.
"Well yes," Aro answered simply, "to the world you are. Besides, you don't want your sweet little slice holding onto your memory forever do you? Hoping that she would find you somehow, somewhere. That seems like torture to me."
They turned into a wide open living room with white carpet and beige walls. There were comfy plush sofas facing a large television. Marcus was lounging on one of them reading the newspaper. He looked comfy and casual in faded blue jeans, no shirt and his hair tied back with an elastic band.
"Oh Mark, we get it, you love your body," Aro sighed.
Carlisle could see faint scars on Marcus's pale torso and he wondered where they could have come from.
"This is the only way I can enjoy the sunlight," Marcus reminded him lazily, "and don't be jealous just because you have the body of a fetus."
"Sit down kid, you're making me nervous," Caius barked from the chair.
Carlisle dropped quickly into the arm chair and Aro rolled his eyes. "Carlisle don't let him make you his bitch."
"Caius just has a stick up his ass about everything," Marcus explained. "It's what happens when you don't get laid on a regular basis."
"Shut the hell up," Caius growled. "So what can blondie do anyway?"
"Nothing much I'm afraid," Aro sighed, pushing Marcus's legs off of the sofa before sitting down. "He's quite normal."
"Why do you keep talking like I'm not here?" Carlisle complained.
"He has a lovely control over his blood lust," Aro continued as if Carlisle hadn't said anything, "he doesn't seem to crave it like a usual newborn."
"Hm," Caius grunted.
"Don't mind him," Aro sighed, sinking into the cushions. "He's just being a diva."
Carlisle thought Aro looked a bit sad but if he was he didn't show it very clearly. It was more a change in his body language and Carlisle was sure that as a human he wouldn't have picked it up.
"Hey kid, your funeral is next weekend. We should go, as a sort of last hurrah."
"What? How long have I been with you guys?" Carlisle cried, jumping up. He ran to Caius and took the newspaper, much to the other blonde's irritation. He saw the article headline in big bold print.
FUNERAL SERVICE FOR MURDERED COLLEGE STUDENTS TO BE HELD
"Oh sweet lord," Carlisle mumbled. "I was murdered?"
"Yes, unfortunately our decision..."
Caius cleared his throat loudly.
"My decision," Aro amended, "to erm...keep you...has forced us to reveal the bodies of the other victims, this painting the picture of a serial killer. If you'll read the article you'll find out how you were discovered."
Carlisle skimmed the page until he found the details, what few there were. The journalist didn't seem to want to get into it.
While the body of Carlisle Cullen, age 23, was never found, enough evidence to suggest his death were found by police Monday.
"That doesn't tell me anything!"
"It took some doing but we got some limb doubles for you and I kept your old blood just incase this was needed."
"Or if you wanted a snack later," Carlisle grumbled.
"Same thing really," Aro shrugged.
Carlisle went back to the article. It was talking about how people could donate to help costs and support the family.
"So are you going to donate to the families?" Carlisle asked.
"Probably not," Marcus answered. "Why would we?"
"Because you killed me!"
"If only," Caius grumbled, snatching his paper back.
"Oh now be nice," Aro scolded lightly. "I say we go check it out."
"Oh Aro that would go over like a turd in a punch bowl," Marcus warned, stretching his legs over Aro's lap. Carlisle noticed Caius glance over briefly at the two before going back to his paper.
"Would freak out the religious type," Aro snorted.
"My dad is a pastor," Carlisle said distantly. He was staring out the window now. It looked so nice out. The kind of day he would spend walking with Esme or his mom.
"Aw why so sad?" Aro asked, tilting his head. "This life is quite enjoyable when you get used to it."
"What kind of future do I have now?" Carlisle asked quietly, looking down and his hands in his lap. "I was going to be a doctor, cure diabetes, marry Esme and have lots of babies."
"The girl you've only slept with once?" Aro asked.
"We've been in love for years," Carlisle clarified, "I was just too stupid to see what I had in front of me. I could have had Esme since high school. Hell if I was smart I would have seen it and we'd probably be engaged by now!"
"Marriage isn't all it's cracked up to be," Caius said from behind his paper. "And who knows maybe you can use that control Aro claims you have and go back to school."
"It isn't just that," Carlisle mumbled quietly. "It's my life I'm missing. I mean Edward and Lizzy, two of my good friends, are having a baby. My mom is dealing with Pops dying of cancer. I promised Esme that I would always be there for her."
"That's an empty promise no matter who says it," Marcus reminded him, "such a typical best friend promise."
"She cried on my shoulder when her dad walked out on her and her mom and she's always needed me."
Caius folded up his paper and dropped it on the floor. He stretched out and groaned loudly. "Alright Huggies we get it, you hate that Aro made you a vampire. Right now I hate that he did too. Especially since I don't feel like listening to little emo drabblings of someone who doesn't even know what the meaning of life is."
"And you do?" Carlisle asked angrily. He hated being treated like a child as a human and detested being treated like one by the pompous vampires he now lived with.
"I'm celebrating my one thousandth birthday this weekend," Caius deadpanned.
Carlisle wanted to say something but there really wasn't a point in either arguing or what Caius had said. He wasn't complaining about a meaning in life, but rather what had been stolen from him or would ever be experienced the same way ever again. Aro had assured him that he would find a host of new experiences when he grew out of his newborn phase but Carlisle didn't want to think about the positive. After all his whole life he had been looking at the positive and once, just once, he wanted to dwell. Unfortunately the only vampire who seemed to understand that was Marcus. Caius and Aro were both getting quite tired of Carlisle's childish whining as they called it.
Caius stood up and went upstairs and Carlisle watched as Aro followed. He looked over at Marcus who just rolled his eyes.
"Keep it down up there this time!" he called after them.
"Keep what down?" Carlisle asked.
"You'll probably find out," Marcus sighed. "I usually leave but you can't be left unattended yet."
"I'm not a child," Carlisle grumbled, folding his arms.
"Alright kiddo here's the deal," Marcus sighed, sitting upright and putting his book aside. "While you are fully developed adult by human standards, in the vampire world you are like a toddler. You don't understand much of what is going on around you no matter how many times we explain it. Before you even argue," he added quickly holding up his hand as Carlisle opened his mouth to protest, "you still don't understand how your body has changed. You don't understand your new abilities or your bloodlust. Which makes you even more dangerous to the humans than we are. You see Aro and Caius have had a millennium to figure it out. There are very few vampires in the world that have the expert level of control they have over their bloodlust. Myself? Well we all fuck up from time to time. I'm half their age."
"So it's going to take me centuries?" Carlisle asked. Marcus felt a little twinge at how pathetically sad he sounded.
"To master it. You have a few months of being a newborn left before the venom and your remaining human blood has fully left your body. Your thirst will even out. You'll also begin to comprehend what you are now."
Carlisle stood up and went to the window. He could hear children playing at a nearby park and the occasional car passing by. He recognized the neighborhood and saw familiar apartments nearby.
"Do you guys erm...hunt...near home?"
"Sometimes," Marcus shrugged, "usually we go downtown though and prey on the homeless people. We only need blood once a week. You require more because you're still young. Are you afraid that we feast on the little babies in the neighborhood?"
"No," Carlisle mumbled. He wondered if he should tell Marcus that his friends lived in the apartments nearby and he was merely worried about them being devoured. "You don't eat children or pregnant women do you?"
"No. Aro and Caius prefer the pretty boys if they get a choice. I myself enjoy a nice cup of old lady."
Carlisle wrinkled his nose and Marcus smirked.
"Of course I'm lying. We don't have types. We take what we can get without stirring up a fuss."
"You've made the papers!" Carlisle cried.
Marcus shrugged. "Like I said, sometimes we fuck up. Sometimes we are careless. Aro and Caius slipped for the first time in centuries."
Carlisle was about to say something when he heard a disturbing noise from upstairs. He knew the noise right away, after all he had lived in the dorms for a few years. He looked at Marcus who just smirked.
"Vampires have excellent hearing," he sighed, glancing up at the ceiling, "you'll get used to it."
"All the same, I'm happy they made up," Marcus said with a grin, "Caius tends to be in a much better mood after getting some."
Marcus patted Carlisle on the shoulder and went back to the sofa to continue reading.
Marcus had been right, Caius definitely was in a much better mood. He participated in helping Aro disguise Carlisle with fewer snide remarks than usual and even seem to have a bounce in his step. Or so Carlisle thought. The others claimed they didn't notice a change. Though even Marcus couldn't deny the looks that went just a little too long between the two.
"You'll find soon enough that their cutesy little romance gets very old very quickly," he sighed, fluffing Carlisle's wig. "And you look dreadful as a brunette."
"Oh come now he can pass as my brother now," Aro cheered, hugging Carlisle's shoulders enthusiastically. If makeup sex put Caius in a tolerable mood, it made Aro positively giddy.
"Not nearly as cute," Caius smirked from his spot against the wall. "At least nobody will recognize him now."
"Guys I don't really want to do this," Carlisle protested yet again. "I mean seeing my funeral is kinda morbid."
"Oh come now this is when you'll find out what people really thought about you," Aro insisted, putting Carlisle's contacts in.
"This is stupid."
"Your eyes are brilliantly red dear boy, that is highly suspicious. Besides you had such lovely blue ones. Didn't he Caius?"
"Be gayer," Caius sighed.
"You'll get used to their mood swings," Marcus grumbled as he slid into his shoes.
It was the first time Carlisle had been outside in months. While he wanted to be excited to experience fresh air for the first time as a vampire, he was still on his way to his own funeral. That in itself was depressing. Really, really depressing. He was tempted to pretend to lose control and make them rethink taking him. He was more or less pushed into Aro's sleek black car and they were on their way.
"This will help you make peace with the change," Aro told him after they drove in silence for a while.
"Why can't we just go to the memorial and get it over with?"
"Because we missed it. It was too sunny."
"Oh that was bullshit and you know it," Carlisle grumbled. "You just want to torture me."
"Carlisle that isn't it," Aro assured him.
"Though it's a perk," Caius added. Aro hit him on the shoulder.
Carlisle folded his arms and looked out the window. It was an overcast day. Perfect for vampires to walk in the daytime. He wanted it to rain or something. He hoped for a tornado. Anything that could keep the day from going on. But as they rolled into Columbus the weather was friendly enough for a cloudy day.
"So where did you grow up?" Aro asked, turning into a residential area. "This is the right neighborhood isn't it?"
"It's creepy that you know that," Carlisle grumbled.
Aro pulled into the church parking lot and found a spot. They were early and Carlisle was sure that, even though Aro claimed to have miscalculated, he had planned it out.
"So you lived in this sad neighborhood?" Caius asked, wrinkling his nose.
"It reminds me of Chicago in the thirties," Marcus sighed, taking off his sunglasses. He saw a beat up minivan with peeling silver paint and rust spots near the wheels. He was vaguely aware of the vampires behind him bickering about something unimportant. The back door of the van was open and he could see an all too familiar faded sweater and jeans. Carlisle felt a horrible pain in his chest and his stomach plummeted to his feet.
"Mom," he mumbled. He wanted to run to her and tell her he was alive. Sort of. He watched the older woman look up at the sky. Her eyes were bloodshot and she had dark circles under her eyes. Her cheeks were thinner and a little hollow and she looked like she had lost a lot of weight.
"Sweetheart I'm going to go change," Mrs. Cullen said. Her voice was thick but cracking. She had been crying all night. He could smell her tears and it made him feel sick. His mother went into the church and he saw his father for the first time since early spring. The change in his mother had been painful but the change in his father was heartbreaking. The once pudgy man looked sicker. He had almost no hair now and he seemed so much older.
"Look at them," Carlisle mumbled. "You did this to them!"
"What was that I wasn't listening?" Aro asked.
"My parents!" Carlisle cried. "Look at them!"
"They don't look good do they?" Aro sighed. "Well they are at a funeral."
"I'm done here," Carlisle declared holding his hands up. "I have to go."
"Carlisle you can't go," Aro warned him.
Carlisle shook his head. He turned quickly on his heel and burst into a run. He could hear the three vampires struggling to run after him but he was faster. He ran through his old neighborhood, down the streets he knew from childhood. Around him were memories. He passed the fire hydrant where the fire department would hook up a massive sprinkler and hand out water balloons and popsicles for the children. He passed by the Cartwright house where he, Esme and the neighbor kids would sneak into the garden to surprise Miss Betty. Everything was a blur and bloody tears stung his eyes. He could hear the three vampires trying to catch him but he was faster and he knew every twist and turn the neighborhoods had to offer.
After running nearly all over the city and losing the three vampires in the tangled web of buildings, cars and humans, Carlisle made it back to his old stomping grounds. He wandered into the schoolyard and was surprised to find it wasn't completely empty. Even from far away he could recognize the lone occupant on the swings. It was darker now. A storm was coming in. He wondered why Esme was here instead of the church, but then again he figured this was the only place she would want to be.
"What am I doing here?" Esme asked herself as she poked the gravel with her feet. The memorial service had been hard enough. The college had put up a plaque honoring it's lost students before going back to normal. The funeral had a spectacular turn out. Everybody who ever knew Carlisle was there, stuffing the church. Nobody would notice she had slipped away.
Carlisle gripped the bark of the tree he hid behind and watched her. Fake brown hair blew around his face in the wind and he had long since rubbed the contacts out of his eyes. He couldn't help but marvel at her beauty, but perhaps that was because he couldn't see her face. He couldn't see how the pain of his death had changed it.
"I guess I just foolishly hoped you were here," she mumbled.
"I am," he whispered against the tree, "Esme just turn around."
She stood up and turned around. The wind blew her hair around her shoulders and he could see her face clearly. She looked healthy and radiant. Not at all like he had expected after seeing how his mother had deteriorated since losing him. It was the swell of her belly that caught his attention though.
He watched her wander to the edge of the playground. Even though the wooden trim had long been removed and replaced by a sort of rubber, he knew it was the place where he had cracked his head open as a child. Esme eased into the bench nearby and rubbed her noticeable bump. Carlisle gripped the bark harder, his fingers digging into it. Her phone rang and she answered it. Carlisle was surprised that he could hear who was on the other line. Unfortunately for him it was Charles, the last voice he wanted to hear.
"Where are you?" Charles asked. "You said you were going to the bathroom."
"I just had to get away," Esme explained, "Charles I can't watch his dad up there trying not to break down. I can't hear him talk about how amazing Carlisle was and how he's in heaven now."
"I worry about you being alone."
Esme looked down at her belly and a soft smile tugged at her lips.
"You don't have to worry about that anymore. She needs me."
"We all do. Where are you? I'll come get you."
"I'm at the school."
Charles laughed softly, "my first guess. I'll be there soon."
"Alright. I'll see you soon."
They hung up and Esme put her phone aside. She moved to lay in the grass. Carlisle was pleased that she was dressed in casual clothes instead of black.
"I met him here you know," Esme whispered, lazily tracing shapes on her belly. "We used to play here every day at recess."
She felt a soft flutter and smiled.
"You're right on schedule," she sighed with a smile, "your daddy always loved being prompt."
"Esme," Carlisle murmured against the tree. He could feel blood dribbling down his cheeks. He closed his eyes and bit his lip. His heart ached and felt like it was breaking all over again.
"You're all I have left of him," Esme murmured, gazing up at the darkening sky. Tears trickled down her cheeks slowly at first and then faster and faster until she was crying openly. She put her hands over her face and shook her head. "Only he would be stupid enough to get kidnapped!"
The weight Carlisle felt in his stomach was something he didn't expect. He suddenly felt so heavy and frozen in place. He could hear the baby's, his baby's, heartbeat fluttering like a humming bird. He reached up and yanked the wig off. His blonde hair fell into place. He would go to her and make this life work. He could control his bloodlust well enough on his own. He would explain to her that he could live without feeding on humans.
Carlisle felt like he was tackled by a bulldozer. The tree groaned in protest and shook, making Esme look over. A hand was clamped tight over his mouth and he saw angry black eyes.
"Carlisle I will kill you if you ever do that again," Aro snarled angrily. He growled angrily when he heard Esme sit up with some difficulty. He pushed Carlisle against the thick trunk and gave him an angry glare.
"Oh shit ow," Esme swore, as she pulled her palm up. She saw a shard of glass in the grass and grumbled.
Aro could smell the dribble of blood on Esme's palm and obviously Carlisle could too. His eyes widened and Aro grabbed him by the throat.
"Keep your cool," Aro growled, "or you can go kill her. Either way if you make a scene I will make you pay."
Aro held tightly onto Carlisle's arm and ran at top speed away from the school. They met Caius and Marcus nearby and Aro practically threw the youngest vampire into the car before sliding in himself.
"WHAT THE FUCK DID I TELL YOU?" Aro roared.
"SHE'S PREGNANT YOU SHITHEAD! WITH MY BABY!"
"Way to go stud," Marcus snorted from the front seat.
"And what was your plan?" Aro asked. "Oh yes, I saw it. You were going to make a vampiric relationship work with a human and a baby. You're brilliant Carlisle, absolutely brilliant. You have so much to teach us vampires who have lived hundreds of years."
"YOU STOLE MY LIFE! MY DAUGHTER WILL GROW UP NEVER KNOWING ME BECAUSE OF YOU!"
"Could you stop yelling it's annoying," Caius sighed.
Carlisle let his head fall against the window. He could imagine how this day would have been if he hadn't been changed. He imagined laying in the grass beside her and he would be the one tracing shapes on her belly. They would have found a way for him to finish school and raise a baby. In all reality though he probably would have put that on hold and gotten a steady job. They would have a tiny apartment with second hand furniture above a pizza place or something. Their baby would be healthy and happy and overwhelmed by all the love he and Esme would give her.
The future he would have had seemed like it would have been a good one. Carlisle felt rage bubbling in his chest and tense his muscles. With an angry growl he turned and punched Aro in the side of the head.
Esme walked under the trees where she had heard the strange noises. With a wrinkled nose she nudged Carlisle's wig with her foot, half expecting it to move. She put her hand on the tree as she saw what looked like claw marks. She stared at them in silence, tracing them with her fingers. Cold rain drops began to fall from the sky. She took comfort knowing that Carlisle would have loved the idea of it raining on his funeral. He would have enjoyed the cliche.
Esme looked back and saw Charles crossing the school yard to her. He was holding an umbrella big enough for both of them.
"We missed you," he said as he reached her. He held the umbrella over her head. "Holding up okay?"
"I thought I heard his voice," Esme mumbled. "Like he was here, y'know."
"Come on," Charles murmured, wrapping his arm around her shoulder. He kissed her head and then rubbed her belly with one hand. "How is she doing?"
"I felt her moving while I was laying here," Esme said quietly as she looked down. "I couldn't stand his mom crying like that. I couldn't stand hearing them talk about Carlisle like he's..."
"Esme they found plenty of evidence to suggest that he's dead."
"I'm tired," Esme sighed, rubbing her eyes. "I want to go home."
"Alright sweetheart, let's go."
They walked together to the car. Esme didn't speak on the drive home. Charles held her hand and rubbed her knuckles with his thumb. He glanced at her occasionally but she just continued to stare blankly out the window. Everywhere around her there were nothing but memories.
"Let's go back to Athens," Esme mumbled. "I want to get out of this place."
"We can't go back yet dear. We haven't packed or anything."
"Fine, then I want to stay in a hotel downtown."
"A hotel? Esme everything is at your moms house, what you need is just some rest."
"I want to get away from this place!" Esme snapped. "Charles I want to get away from everything that reminds me of him! At least just for tonight. I know I can't run away from him forever but tonight...every room in my house has his memory."
Charles sighed. "Alright sweetheart, whatever you want."
"Thank you," Esme said softly, giving him a grateful smile. He kissed her hand and smiled.
"I love you Ezzy, I just want to help you through this as much as I can."
Esme squeezed his hand and then went back to looking out the window. Baby Bella stirred inside her and she looked down at the bump. She could see Carlisle so clearly and imagine what he would have done if he was still with her. He would probably love every moment of her pregnancy and even try to give her home exams himself, just to make sure the baby was healthy every day.
"Quick Carly! You have to feel this!"
Carlisle's gentle hands rested on either side of her belly. His brow momentarily furrowed as he tried to feel what she could. When he felt it his eyes lit up, the bright blue seemed even brighter, and he would smile his usual giddy smile.
"Esme! I felt her move! I felt her move! Oh Esme this is so exciting!"
"Yeah," she murmured, looking at the joy in his face. He was like a child getting a puppy.
"I love you, my beautiful Esme," Carlisle murmured, caressing her cheeks briefly before kissing her with the usual tenderness. "We'll be happy together forever."
Tears rolled down Esme's cheeks. She was aware of Charles getting out of the car and telling her he would return with their overnight bags.
"I promise I won't be like him," Carlisle whispered against her shoulder. He rubbed circles over her belly. "I'll love you both for as long as I'm alive."
"You seem so sure," Esme murmured against his hair
"I am," Carlisle assured her. "I want us forever. We'll live in a suburb house and have lots of babies."
"One at a time," Esme giggled. "You'll be working so much in the beginning that we won't have time to make more."
"I always have time for you," Carlisle assured her. "Besides," he smirked, "ever heard of on call nookie?"
"You're such a nerd," Esme moaned.
"Yeah," Carlisle agreed, copping a feel. "Mm boob."
Esme snapped out of her daydream when Charles got into the car. She jumped and he looked at her strangely.
"Did I startle you?"
"Just a little. I was thinking."
"You were smiling a little," Charles told her with a smile of his own. "What were you thinking about?"
"The baby," Esme answered, looking down at her belly again, "I can't wait until she's here."
"Me neither," Charles agreed with a smile. He rubbed her belly gently and leaned over to kiss Esme's cheek. "We'll be a happy family forever."
"Yeah," Esme mumbled looking down at Charles' hand over the swell of Carlisle's baby, "forever."
Yay new chapter!