Currently this is a one-shot, but I am leaving it open to future postings as well.
For Amy, the beautiful birthday girl.
(Even though this is woefully belated.)
Aldous Huxley once said every man's memory is his private literature.
If that was true I held a virtual library in my endless memory. Every experience I had was carefully cataloged in my consciousness, ready to be pulled to the forefront of my mind at a moment's notice.
Over the course of my existence one thing I have discovered is that many of our most potent and meaningful memories are often triggered by the simplest of things.
The sound of fabric ripping as I prepared the bandages. The sound of my patients' shallow breaths as he struggled to contain his screams. The drip of the morphine that was being burned off far too quickly by the heat of the body beneath my hands.
It was a testament to the severity of Jacob's injuries that I was even here – in the small cabin owned by Billy Black, at the heart of the Quileute reservation.
It was a novel experience - a vampire healing a werewolf.
And yet, I had been healing people for decades. The experience itself was nothing if not familiar; however, the novelty of this time extended far beyond the differences present in this one patient.
The memories that Jacob's condition evoked made all the difference in setting this experience apart from all the others.
The broken ribs and deep contusions which marred the young man's flesh brought to life another night, from ninety years ago when I had treated a young woman in Ashland whose husband claimed she had taken a fall down the stairs. The pattern of her injuries and the hollow, dead look in her eyes told me something entirely different.
When I returned home that morning Esme had followed me to the edge of Lake Superior and made me see every way that I could never have avoided what happened and what I had to do as a result of the legal restraints imposed on me.
As a physician I took an oath to do no harm. Was turning a blind eye to blatant abuse any different than directly inflicting harm?
I had long since accepted the guilt I felt for turning Esme when her own desire to escape the pain inflicted by her own abuse drove her to end her life. I knew her memories of that life would fade with time, but I felt she would not forget the pain. She told me that I had worried needlessly and that in changing her I gave her new things to live for. As a result of her own experiences Esme made me see that although the law required me to turn my young patient back over to an abusive husband, perhaps my gentle treatment of her would provide the catalyst she needed to see that not all men are evil; that there is good in the world and perhaps she would find her own happy ending one day.
I knew it was an incredibly long shot, but weren't most things in life? I saw clearly that morning that sometimes no matter what we do we will second guess our decisions. It is a simple fact of life and apparently afterlife. Hearing Esme say the words that she did not blame me for anything that happened to her and that she was grateful to me for saving her, as she put it, changed my every perception of the woman I was to spend my life with.
It was in the crisp blue of that April morning that I truly saw Esme for the first time. She was no longer my young sixteen year old patient. She was a woman who had been to hell and back and fought daily to overcome the demons that should never have befallen her. I could see my true motivations for changing her, laid out before me with crystal clarity. Even at sixteen her presence had soothed my soul in a way I had never experienced before. She was my balance in every way possible, and I could not live without her.
That was the day I realized I loved her.
I often thought of that morning and not simply in the context of realizing my love for Esme. The rightness of my actions concerning the young woman I had treated continued to haunt me. The laws concerning spousal abuse have changed drastically since then, meaning I was never put in the same position today, but every once in awhile the pattern of a patient's injuries took me back to that night.
Jacob Black was one of those patients.
There had been so much loss tonight. Although there was no loss of life on the side of my family and the wolves, the entire army Victoria had assembled was eradicated. Loss of life was still a loss, no matter the circumstances. I believed the young girl when she said Riley had lied to them. They had no idea what they were being used for.
Thinking of the young girl we had tried to save caused me to shudder. The memory of my wife walking away from me to stand between our son and a wild newborn was not a memory I would be able to catalog away for quite some time. As we stood there in the field, her back turned to someone who could easily kill her every memory I had with my Esme ran through the back of my mind ending with that April morning I knew I loved her.
In many ways this night was just as important to my family's history as that morning.
The willingness of the wolves to not only stand at our sides but to allow me to be close enough to treat their injuries made it clear how far we had come in our alliance.
Would this truce between us hold?
I had to believe it was possible
The sound of soft voices reverberated through the house when I walked in. Jasper and Esme were seated on the stairs discussing what had occurred in the field. I leaned against the wall and smiled at Jasper's display of affection as he rose from the step, placed a kiss on his mothers' cheek and disappeared to the second floor.
Esme leaned her head back against the wall, seemingly unaware of my presence although I knew that couldn't be farther from the truth.
"Are you going to stand there all night staring at me, or are you going to come give me a kiss?"
I was already sweeping her off the step before she finished speaking. I pressed my lips to hers gently, for the first time since leaving for the field. She took the opportunity to deepen the kiss as I threaded my hand into her hair and lifter her into the air. I carried her bridal style to our bedroom where I gently set her on our bed.
I placed my forehead to hers and took an unnecessary breath. "He'll be fine. The morphine burns off incredibly fast so I'll have to go back in a couple hours to replace the drip and check on the progress of his healing. His body is healing itself though. We can't ask for more than that."
"He did an amazingly brave thing," she said.
"Yes," I agreed. "Quite similar to the amazingly brave thing you did."
"How much of our talk did you hear?"
"Enough. He's right you know. You terrified me by turning your back on a newborn."
She sighed as she crossed the room and began to shed her clothes. I pulled my own shirt off, finding it refreshing beyond words to remove the clothes I dispatched wild newborns in.
"You know why I did it," she said from her seat at the vanity where she was brushing the tangles out of her hair.
"Yes," I said, moving to stand behind her. I leaned down and wrapped my arms around her. I studied our reflection in the mirror. Two perfect halves of a whole. We were perfect in our individual imperfections which balanced to create our own unique form of perfection.
"Do you know what my favorite thing about you is?"
She smirked as I ran my hand down her side and kissed her temple.
"I can guess."
"It's your fiercely protective instinct for all beings, in and out of our family and you endless capacity for love. Most covens would regard the extension of protection to those outside the coven as a weakness. You, my dear wife, reveal it to be a strength."
"I could not bear for her to be ripped apart when she posed no real threat. It wasn't right, and although I understand where the Volturi are coming from I wouldn't have been able to live with myself I hadn't done my best to protect her."
"Were you truly as frightened as Jasper claims," she added, brushing the back of one hand over my cheek.
"You expect me not to be worried when the woman I love willingly puts herself in mortal danger?"
"I'm alive, Carlisle. We're all alive."
That one simple statement, falling from my wife's perfect lips, did more to ease my mind than anything else ever could. I felt the weight of weeks worth of worry lift free from my shoulders as the reality sank in that it was over. I could touch my wife, I could talk to my children, I could continue patching up Bella's never-ending injuries. We were all still alive.
She disentangled herself from my arms and stood, turning to face me. One soft hand ran down my jaw and I knew we were on the same page as to how to spend the time I had until I needed to be back on the reservation.
She took my hand and led me to the bed, pulling me down on top of her so she could whisper in my ear. "Love me, Carlisle. Show me that we're still here."
I pushed her back gently so she was nestled against the pillows. After the events of the last forty-eight hours I planned to rush nothing.
Every movement was slow, every touch savored as I finished disrobing us and gently slid into her. I wanted to prolong this night as long as possible. As she rolled us over and sank down on my length the rest of the world was forgotten. There was nothing beyond the boundary of our bed. Nothing mattered except the beautiful woman on top of me and the fact we were both still here to share this.
Even for the slow pace she managed to let herself go in a way she only did when we were alone, causing my movements became more frantic as I sought to help my wife come. Her own orgasm, moments later, triggered mine, and as I tucked her under my arm and stroked her hair I felt more peaceful than I had in months.
She lazily hitched one leg over mine and pulled me in for a kiss. We had been lying in bed together for the several hours, sharing slow kisses and touches. If we were human we would likely be asleep.
"You should go."
I stroked her cheek. "I know."
My work had pulled me away from Esme's embrace countless times before, but somehow this time seemed more poignant. I had allowed myself to lose all connection to the world outside of the bond I shared with my wife, and now that reality was setting back in it was more than a little disconcerting.
I found myself once again thinking of all that had been gained and all that had been sacrificed in the last day, and as I passed a church on my way to the reservation I sent a silent prayer of thanks to the heavens for the safety of my family and the wolves and for the opportunity to create new memories with all of them.