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Story Name: Il Sangre

Rating: M (NC-17)

Genre: Drama/Romance

Word Count:3632

Summary: Carlisle's time with the Volturi in the 18th Century leaves an indelible mark upon him, and poses the question: is it all in the blood?

The final notes of music drifted across the room, and then the applause began. Aro's effete, "Bravo! Bravo!" discernable above the other voices. I turned and headed toward him, my feet beating a cadence on the vast marble floor, but otherwise not echoing. The rounded chamber of Volterra Castle was designed with excellent acoustics.

In marked contrast to my footsteps, Aro glided toward me, his knee length breeches and stockings showing his well formed calves to perfection. "Bellisimo, wasn't it Carlisle?"

I inclined my head toward him. "Indeed it was, Aro."

"Quite a gifted virtuoso," Aro continued. "And he is quite beautiful, no?"

"Aro," I began.

"Tut, tut, Carlisle, do not begrudge me this. Look at him. Look at that hair, at the way the light catches it. It almost looks silver, does it not? To run your fingers through such hair . . ." Aro let the words trail off.

"I fed earlier."

He grimaced and waved his hand in disgust. "That is not feeding. It is . . . well, it's revolting actually. Still, forget feeding for the moment." His red eyes shined with excitement. "He is lithe, graceful. Look at the way he moves."

Our eyes turned toward the young singer, and I cannot say that Aro was mistaken. He was beautiful, with large, blue eyes, framed by long lashes. His skin was fine and pale, and with our enhanced vision, I could just make out the faint, bluish pathways of his finer veins. Although he was of age, he was youthful in the manner of the castrati. His limbs were long and graceful, his torso thin and lean, and the way his breeches hugged his arse was quite pretty.

"Yes, Aro, he is stunning."

"He is also quite willing, and from what I hear quite a lusty bed partner. These castrati are insatiable. You should bed him."

Although my new life afforded me a much different view of the world, in regards to love and sex and the relations between men and women, or men and men; I was still a product of my strict, religious upbringing, and at times Aro, or any of the Volturi for that matter, could still shock me with their candor.

"Aro," I hissed. "Please."

"Oh yes, I would be pleased."

Over the decades that I struggled with what I had become, I tried once to lie with a woman. To my everlasting horror and shame, not only did I nearly bite her in the throes of passion, but I caused grave injury to her, and she died the next day. It was a long time before I allowed myself to seek out human company again, and I had not taken a human lover since. One of the many benefits of meeting and staying with the Volutri was the number of vampires gathered together; vampires who enjoyed the lusty and physical part of their natures.

Sex was not the only reason I stayed with the Volturi. I enjoyed the refined manner in which they lived, so very different from the vampires I'd encountered in England. They were educated, and we engaged in lively debates about religion and god, politics and war, philosophy and logic. The brothers Volturi—Aro, Marcus, and Caius—also spent a good deal of time trying to "cure" me of my aversion to consuming human blood.

They could not understand why I wouldn't drink from humans. Aro insisted that it was simply nature; just as humans slaughtered cows for sustenance, we ate them, and that guilt over the matter was ridiculous. I pointed out that there were limits to what people ate, that not every animal was considered a lesser creature to be used as food.

"But man was still given domain over them all," he replied.

Caius argued that there was no god, no afterlife, no soul, and that we as immortals, were gods on earth who were entitled to feed on whomever we wished. I asked him to prove there was no god, or that we had no souls, countering that the very fact that I desired to show mercy, that I had compassion for humans, was indicative of having a soul.

"How does one prove the nonexistence of something?" he asked.

Finally, Marcus wondered what I would do if I found my mate and they were still human. His was the only point I had no argument for. I could not imagine bringing someone over, as it would require not only drinking from them, but having the strength to stop, yet I also could not imagine spending an unending future alone and unloved.

"The mating bond is strong, irresistible. Some even say you will only ever have one, but I have my theories on that. In any event, I think I would like to be there when you meet yours." He eyed me speculatively as he made the pronouncement.

Aro took to bringing ever more lovely humans to my attention, trying to seduce me with their bodies, hoping I'd snap mid-coitus and drink. The warmth of them, the beauty, the smell of their arousal, was heady, intoxicating. It was becoming difficult to ignore, and with one touch Aro knew it.

I left for a week after that night, needing to hunt and get away from the constant temptation. At that time, herds of deer and other large game were plentiful in region, and I took my fill, gorging myself on them, but never quite dulling the burn at the back of my throat. It was something I'd learned to live with, something Aro said would only be slaked by human blood. If that was the case, I determined that I'd continue to suffer it willingly.

The night I returned, the Volturi hosted a masked ball. I dressed the part of the hunter, in a pique of irreverence. The room was filled with humans, their presence assailing my senses; their warmth, overt sexuality and, of course, their blood. I was grateful I had fed so thoroughly.

After an hour or so, I needed to escape the almost suffocating scent of them. I stepped outside on one of the balconies, letting the fresh air clear my head. A few minutes later, I smelled Aro approach.

"Carlisle, there you are!"

I watched as he glided over to me. "Aro, did you need me?"

"No, no. I just wanted you to meet someone."

He beckoned to the doorway and a figure moved out to the balcony. Aro's eyes danced with mischief as a young man stepped forward. He was slight, young still, perhaps eighteen, but his body was well proportioned and he seemed fit. He stepped forward with a fluid sensuality, like a great cat.

Ironically, he was dressed as a stag, with antlers adorning his auburn hair. His clothing was brown, and he wore a small mask across his eyes. It emphasized his cheekbones, which seemed sculpted, and his lips were plump, red, and after he licked them they glistened wetly. He was beautiful, sensual, almost exotic.

Hunter and stag; I could tell Aro was pleased, smug even.

"Carlisle, this is Edoardo."

"Buona sera, Signore." He stepped forward more and bowed.

I took a breath to answer him, and staggered at the assault on my senses. The smell of him was incredible, and the ever present burn at the back of my throat became a furnace. I'd never wanted to drink from a human as much as I wanted to from him, not even when I was first turned. I gripped Aro's arm to steady myself.

"What have you done to me?" I asked, panic tingeing my voice.

Aro's hand covered mine and then he knew. He slid behind me, his hands on my shoulders, both restraining and reassuring. "I did not know, believe that. I merely wanted to tempt you, but I had no idea . . ."

"No idea of what?" I asked in hiss, my eyes never leaving Edoardo, who was clearly confused and becoming embarrassed.

"La tua cantante. He is your singer, Carlisle."

"Marcus said it was a myth!" I struggled against Aro's grip.

"He is old, not infallible."

"Let me go," I begged him.

I felt Aro's breath on my neck. "Why, Carlisle? Is he so enticing? So irresistible? I wish I could hold your hand the entire time and experience this with you."

Images of my hands in Edoardo's hair, yanking his head back, licking up his neck and sinking my teeth in flooded my mind. I imagined the way that taste would coat my tongue, the back of my throat—my instincts filling in the gaps of my inexperience. I was shaking with the effort of holding back.

"Please, Aro."

"Buon appetito, Carlisle."

Aro released me, and I took a step forward. I watched Edoardo flinch. He sensed something, his instincts crying out, acknowledging that there was something very wrong with us. I wondered what I looked like to him, knowing my eyes had gone completely black. Holding my breath so I wouldn't be further tempted, I turned and jumped off the balcony, running into the hills, Aro's voice calling out behind me.

I ran for miles until I came across a herd of ibex, which I attacked savagely, gluttonously, gorging myself on several of the animals before I was finally in control of myself again. I wasn't sated. How could I be, knowing he existed? But, I was able to calm my thoughts, beat back the pure animal instinct that was driving me, control the beast that raged inside and still demanded I return to the castle and drain the boy dry.

Contemplating my reaction, I analyzed it with the same precision I applied to my studies and philosophical debates with the Volturi. I knew that my reaction was base instinct, much like the desire of a newborn to mindlessly tear into the first human it encounters, even its own family. What was interesting, and different from the reaction of a newborn, was my sexual arousal in Edoardo's presence.

As I sat and replayed the events in my mind, cataloguing my body's various responses, I recalled the thirst first and foremost. Then, there was a pressing need to possess him, to have my hands on him, to touch him everywhere and hold him still. Finally, I remembered being hard, incredibly so, in fact. Just thinking about it, about him, made my body react again. Still, I was determined to return to the castle; determined to prove that I could control myself, just as I had as a newborn.

My return to the castle was received with a flurry of activity. Aro, Marcus and Caius were all fascinated by the discovery of my singer, and how I managed to restrain myself from consuming him. I saw members of the Volturi guard staring at me as I passed, heard their whispers follow in my wake. Demetri fell into step by my side.

"Is it true?" he asked. "The boy is your singer?"

"That is what Aro believes."

"How did you resist him? They say a singer is impossible to resist, that their blood calls to you like no other, like they're made just for you."

I didn't answer, because truthfully, I didn't know what kept me from attacking Edoardo. All I could think was that some sliver of sanity, some tiny bit of who I am managed to overrule the beast inside.

I entered the sitting room, and found Aro, Marcus, and Caius sitting in chairs, almost as though on thrones.

"Carlisle!" Aro greeted me, as though my entrance was a surprise.

"Aro." I inclined my head. "Caius, Marcus."

And so my inquisition began.

For the next hour they asked me questions, ranging from what Edoardo smelled like to me, to how I felt when I smelt him, and what I thought of him. How did his scent compare to other humans? Was there as distinction because he was male? Did feeding on animals after fleeing sate me? Was I attracted to him sexually?

"Fascinating, just fascinating," Marcus said.

"I'm glad I could provide you with such material," I deadpanned.

"Carlisle," Caius chided. "Humor him. This is a subject that much interests him."

"I'm curious," Marcus asked. "Do you think the attraction is just in his blood?" He stood and paced, then turned. "Or, is it something else? Something more . . . spiritual, perhaps?"

"I do not know," I answered. "Truly, I do not."

"If it is the blood," Marcus postulated, "Could it run through a family line?" Marcus continued to theorize and talk to himself, as he pondered the possibilities.

I saw Aro motion with his hand before he turned to me and said, "You may want to take a deep breath now."

I did so and a moment later, Edoardo entered, flanked by two of the Volturi guard, although he did not look frightened. He should have been. Everyone of the guard was hand chosen for their ruthlessness, their gifts, and their devotion to the Volturi and their way of life.

"Edoardo," Aro greeted him cheerfully. "Mia bello regazzo, benvenuti." Aro stood and walked behind the boy, resting a hand on his shoulder and squeezing gently.

I felt a growl start low in my throat. I felt . . . possessive of Edoardo, inexplicably so. I hardly knew the boy, and if Aro wanted to make a meal of him, or anything else for that matter, it was not my place to say anything. Yet, a violent urge to rip Aro's arm from his body engulfed me.

"Calm yourself, Carlisle. We have been taking good care of young Edoardo. No need to worry."

He stepped away from the boy, spreading his hands, perhaps in offering, perhaps as a conciliatory gesture. My feet moved of their own accord, until I was standing in front of Edoardo, and then my hands were touching him, checking him for injury, skimming over his skin.

"Truly, I am well," he told me.

As my hands made a second pass along his jaw, he turned and kissed the palm of my hand, his eyes fluttering shut.

"Fascinating," I heard Marcus whisper. "I see the ties, singer and mate."

Determined to prove that I could master my baser instincts, I took him by the hand and begged our leave of the brothers. I still had not taken a breath, pulling Edoardo outside, where his scent would be less potent. The day was cool and grey, and I did not have to worry about revealing our secrets.

"You shouldn't be here," I told him.

"But you are here."

I took a breath, and there it was again, the agony of the burn. Tamping it down with everything in my power, I continued, "You're not safe here."

"I'm perfectly safe here. The Volturi treated me like an honored guest."

I ran my thumb over his lips. "You're not safe with me," I whispered.

Instead of answering, he leaned forward and pressed his lips to mine, soft and full, and I fell into the kiss, feasting on his mouth, allowing his tongue to wend its way into mine, until I felt the tight rubber band of my control ready to snap, and with a groan I pushed him away.

"You don't know what you toy with," I growled.

"I don't toy with you," he retorted. Anger flickered in his eyes, and his skin was flushed. "I want you, Carlisle, like I've wanted no other. I cannot explain it. I hardly know you, yet it's like you've possessed me." His eyes grew wide and he stepped toward me. "Tell me, is it true? Are you incubi as the rumors say? My dreams . . ." shaking his head, he continued, "I do not care. Just tell me, please, how is it that I want you so?"

I laughed. "No, we are not incubi." Although, it was my understanding that the start of that particular area of demon lore likely started with some of our kind.

Thinking that perhaps time spent outside, acclimating myself to his scent, his presence, would make it easier for me to control my desires, I suggested, "Shall we take a walk?"

Taking my cold hand in his much warmer one, he smiled. "Yes."

We walked for a long time, talking and learning about each other. He was the youngest son of a large family. His father owned olive groves and was a successful merchant of oil. Educated by the best of tutors, but with no head for business, he spent his time reading and writing.

"What do you write?"

He blushed and looked away. "Poetry."

I begged him to share something with me, but he refused. "No, I am not very good. It is a diversion. My father wishes I showed interest in the business, so I could help my brothers. I know I disappoint him, but my mother, she dotes on me, and he on her, so he indulges me."

When we returned to the castle, I took him directly to my rooms, stopping only to order food for him. I made sure he ate every bite, until he begged me to stop. "Please, Carlisle, truly, I've had enough," he said with a smile.

Such a beautiful smile.

He stood and walked over to me. "I will share my poems with you," he began.

"I sense a caveat," I responded.

Then, like a cat, he crawled into my lap, straddling me. The burn in my throat increased tenfold, and I was sure that my eyes had gone black.

"I will share my poems with you," he repeated, leaning forward to whisper in my ear, "if you spend the night loving me the way we both want."

The tight control I'd held on myself all day snapped at his words. With the speed my kind possessed, I had him beneath me on the bed. His green eyes went wide, but when my mouth descended on his, his lips parted for me and my tongue delved in, and god his taste was exquisite. Sweet and perfect.

Exercising every ounce of control I possessed, I made my way down his body, undressing him and loving him with my mouth and my hands, taking care to be gentle, making his pleasure my first priority. His body was lean, perfect, and responsive, reacting to every touch, every caress, and each kiss.

When I reached his cock, I took him into my mouth, he arched his back, a hoarse cry of delight escaping him. I sucked and licked, retreating and descending, until a coarse babble of obscenities escaped him and he came, filling me with his release, which I swallowed greedily.

Then I took my time preparing him, knowing he wouldn't take me easily otherwise, and when I finally slid into him, finally fitted my body to his, I knew paradise. Sheathed in his body, the heat of him surrounding me, I finally understood Marcus' words: singer and mate.

I thrust into him over and over, listening to his cries of pleasure, delighting in them, relishing in the way he moved beneath me and held me, as if I was the one who was special and precious.

"Edoardo, il mio amore," I whispered in his ear.

My love.

My mate.

Mine.

I heard him cry out once more with his release, feeling it warm and wet between us, and with him clenching around me, I emptied into him. It was rapture. I never wanted to lose it, to lose him. He was mine, my mate, my future.

Mine.

As my hips pumped a final time, and I felt him become limp and pliable beneath me, I leaned down to his ear once more.

"Ti amo," I told him. "Forgive me."

Then I bit. I was going to turn him. Make him mine forever.

They say pride goeth before the fall, and I was so proud of my self-control, so arrogant. As those first gushes of his blood touched my tongue, the beast rallied. I swallowed and swallowed, mindless to his thrashing, deaf to his whimpers, sentient only of the exquisite sensation of completion, of fulfillment, of perfection.

When the horror of what I'd done finally dawned on me, the cry I let out brought most of the guard and the Volturi to my chambers, even the wives were roused from their rooms, where they found me clutching his lifeless form to my chest, wishing for tears I no longer had.

It took Aro an hour to convince me to give Edoardo's body to Demetri.

I never knew what they did with his remains, and I departed the Volturi's company the next day.

For decades I wandered, alone, the shell of the man I'd been. After a time, I once again allowed myself to live among humans, but I never again took pleasure in one.

I did, however, return to Voltarra once, to learn what happened to Edoardo's family, after which time I began to track their descendants.

Marcus believed that perhaps it was in the blood. I spent centuries hoping he was right.

It was 1918, and the height of the influenza epidemic that was killing thousands, when a young man and his mother were admitted. As soon as I walked into the room, I knew.

I checked the chart, and there it was: Edward Masen.

It was no coincidence that I was in Chicago at the time. It was where I had tracked the last remaining descendants of Edoardo's family, but eventually lost the trail, remaining there in the hope that somehow I would find him again.

"Edward?"

Green eyes struggled to open, regarding me with desperation.

I took a deep breath, confirming what I already knew.

"Edward, my name is Dr. Cullen. And I'm going to need you to trust me."

a/n: all my love and thanks to my beta and prereader. I love you!