Brown Sky at Night

By Mackenzie L.

This one-shot is my way of saying "thank you" to the readers who put up with my angst-filled chapters every now and again. ;)

*The Twilight Saga and its characters are the property of Stephenie Meyer


Early December, 1989

~Esme

Carlisle never answered me when I asked him what he wanted for Christmas.

It was the same with every holiday. He refused everything so persistently, always insisting that he had no need for anything other than his family.

I dearly believed this was true; however it deeply disappointed me that I could not wrap our children up in brightly colored paper and ribbons and tuck them beneath the tree.

The image made me giggle. Edward would run far away the instant the idea popped into my head. He was not going to be gift-wrapped by his mother on Christmas, that was certain. But Edward wouldn't stick around to protect his siblings either. Jasper surely would claw his way out before I could tie the ribbon. Alice and Rose would complain of their hair falling flat when wrapped in the paper. Emmett would likely be the only one to humor me before crashing through the paper with his mighty fists and bellowing laughter.

Even though I had never attempted to gift-wrap any of my sons and daughters, the holidays were always chaotic enough. I preferred them that way.

Our house was kept ridiculously warm in the winter. My husband made sure that every fireplace was lit every night without fail. There were candles in every dark corner, and the halls were filled with the delightful aromas of pine and cinnamon.

I never felt more real, more human, than I did during the holidays in this house, surrounded by cranberry scented candles and the hearty laughter of teenagers…

"Do you mind, dear?" my husband murmured as he passed me on his way to the closet.

Before he could remove his coat, I clasped his hand and shook my head.

"Don't put that away just yet," I ordered him with a smile, a whimsical idea blooming rapidly in my mind.

Carlisle turned away from the closet to give me a questioning look. I giggled and patted his cheek, using my free hand to neatly twist the scarf back around his neck.

"Come outside with me," I suggested in a secretive voice. As if our children would overhear and jump at the chance to join us…

We liked to pretend our whereabouts were a secret every now and again. It made living under the same roof with five other vampires more exciting.

Carlisle looked warily out the window, his tone doubtful. "I'm fairly sure it's forecast to be below zero this evening, darling."

I grinned, reaching up for the basket of mittens on the top shelf of the closet. "Then we'll have to wear gloves, too, won't we?"

Carlisle was predictably complacent as I took my time dressing his hands in my favorite pair of sleek leather gloves. I'd always preferred leather gloves on him. There was still something innocently arousing about the way they fitted so snugly to his hands. I never told anyone else why I was so fond of leather gloves. I'm fairly sure that Carlisle knew the true reason.

His eyes were a dead giveaway as he watched me obsess over fitting every one of his fingers.

He asked if I needed help putting my gloves on. As appealing as the suggestion sounded, I told him we'd save that for another time.

I was too eager to be outside with him.

I dragged him to the balcony doors and we slipped into the frigid night air, unnoticed by the house's five other inhabitants. There were a few stray flurries of snow in the air as we walked out, but the air was completely still, not a gust of wind to be heard for miles around.

Carlisle had already found his place by the North facing railing, his elbows resting on the wood and his ankles comfortably crossed. But I wasn't about to settle for anywhere so ordinary.

"Up here, silly," I laughed airily as I gracefully scaled the side of the sloped rooftop.

He whipped around in surprise, eyes adorably wide as he watched me settle against the side of the chimney.

After a moment's pause, he leapt onto the roof in one swift motion, his heavy footsteps scratching the shingles as he walked over to where I sat. I patted the cramp space beside me, knowing he wouldn't mind being a little squashed. The back of his coat brushed the stones of the chimney as he slid down next to me. We were forced much closer than I'd thought we would be - the result of a brilliant mistake on the part of the house's designer.

Of course this house's designer happened to be me.

"Well, this is disappointing," Carlisle announced after a rough sigh.

"What do you mean?" I asked defensively.

He lifted a hand briefly to open his palm to the sky. A few snowflakes landed in his glove, but they shyly melted on contact. "No stars," he pouted.

I crossed my arms and shrugged. "I think the sky is rather beautiful without them."

At my comment, Carlisle looked back to the sky and studied it obediently, his gaze swerving through the heavens, trying his hardest to find the beauty of which I spoke so fondly. He was so rapt with concentration that I almost hesitated to disrupt his reverie.

I gave him a few moments to see everything he needed to see before I gently broke in with my own humble assessment. "It's brown."

"I beg your pardon?"

"The sky is brown," I said simply, trying to contain my grin.

He looked again, as if he'd needed the second glance to be sure. I rolled my eyes good-naturedly and gave his scarf a tug.

"So it is," he conceded at last.

"Have you noticed that the sky is brown on some nights during the winter?" I asked.

His knowing smile surprised me. "You do know why it looks that way, don't you?" He turned to look down at me, arching one eyebrow as he answered himself, "Thick clouds, city lights, and pollution." He ticked off each item by tapping each one of his lovely gloved fingers as he listed them.

I glared at him, even as he smiled back at me with undissolved charm. "That," he said bluntly, "is why I prefer stars."

Sighing softly, I took my lover's arm between my hands, attempting to caress him through the abundant layers we wore.

"I enjoy the stars as well, dear, but you have to agree there is something quite nice about the brown sky at night," I patiently tried to make my case.

Carlisle did not appear convinced for the time being. He pursed his sweet lips and tilted his neck back, yellow eyes growing distant as they traveled the heavens.

"Brown sky at night…" he mused quietly, draping his arm around my shoulders as he relaxed against the stones. "That sounds like it could make a fine title for a poem."

"You'll write it for me, won't you?" I pleaded with my most winning smile.

He chuckled in sheer delight. "Right now?"

I nodded eagerly.

"I don't know…" he clicked his tongue, shaking his head slowly as he surveyed the sky above us, "My inspiration is rather mute now with all these hovering clouds…"

I nudged his shoulder playfully because he was all but begging for it. Then to ease the pain I finally leaned my head down to lay against his chest, holding him tight. "But the clouds are your inspiration, Carlisle. See how smooth and perfect these clouds are… like an upside-down sea." I exhaled heavily and nestled closer to him, raising my fingers to dance across the horizon. "Like thick, cottony waves…. There's something very soothing about this sky, wouldn't you say?"

I could hear in the way his breath had softened that he was now at least considering my shameless flattery for the sky. "Soothing…" he repeated the word in a low whisper over my head. I shivered against him, and it had very little to do with the sub-zero weather.

"Are you inspired yet?" I asked curiously, clasping four leather-clad surgeon's fingers in my wandering grip.

"I think so," he consented at last. And I knew his confession was genuine, from the husky tone his voice had taken, from the subtle trembling of his fingers beneath the gloves, from the way his mood had so quickly gone from playful to intense in a matter of seconds…

I could tell when my husband was already writing in his mind.

"So I can expect a poem from you…on Christmas perhaps?" I hinted hopefully.

My husband smiled, withdrawing himself from his dreamy state of mind to tease me. "I think you can expect a poem long before Christmas, darling."

"Oh?"

"Mmhm. In fact, I think you can expect a poem tomorrow morning…" he said softly as he leaned slightly closer, tugging my sleeve down a bit further to protect my bare wrist from the chill. "…perhaps underneath your pillow, tucked inside an unmarked envelope with a holly bough beside it…"

I desperately hoped I had managed to hide my girlish excitement at the notoriously romantic proposition.

"Now you're just getting carried away, Doctor," I chided with a loving swat to his shoulder.

His lips pulled into an irresistible smirk as he struggled to keep me as close as possible. "You like when I get carried away."

I promptly dropped my teasing defenses and let him claim me with both his arms.

"I do…" I agreed in a whisper, just before his tender kiss smothered my unfinished words.

Somewhere in the warm house beneath us, voices were being raised. The demanding ring of the telephone echoed from inside before it was stopped short by a kind soul who had chosen to answer it. The hectic ambiance was a lovable interruption to our affectionate exchange, but the voice of our firstborn son stood out clearly among the rest.

"I'm sorry, you'll have to call back later. The doctor and his wife are busy on the roof."


A/N: So obviously this one was inspired by looking out my window in the middle of the night while I was trying to sleep. The sky was brown and it was so beautiful I just couldn't close my eyes. So I turned my lamp on and wrote about it, and of course it turned into a one-shot from Esme's point of view… I'm pretty much hopeless at this point. ;)

Turn to the next chapter to see the poem Carlisle writes for Esme about the sky...