SUMMARY: Although tortured by guilt, Carlisle cannot stop watching Edward from his kitchen window. He feels an indescribable connection to him that takes him years to comprehend. AU Vamp slash.
WARNING: Some child abuse is briefly mentioned.
A/N: Hugs and kisses to my beta, BbeyedGirl. I know this pairing is not your favorite so I doubly appreciate your help. You're the best, bb.
To those of you who have been waiting patiently for an update on my WIP, On The Roof, my deepest apologizes. I have been cursed with writer's block for several weeks. Jasper has been silent, but Carlisle was more than happy to talk to me. I hope you enjoy his tale.
DISCLAIMER: All characters in this story belong to Stephenie Meyers.
It's mid-afternoon on Saturday. The day is warm, considering it's already October. From my open kitchen window, I watch his long legs as he strides briskly around his backyard pool. His copper hair shimmers with shades of red and gold under the bright sun. He's carrying a leaf skimmer over his shoulder. Today he's dressed in a pair of emerald green swim trunks and flip-flops. His trunks hang low on his hips, revealing two deep dimples over his buttocks. Perspiration glistens on his pale back and trickles down his legs. I stare appreciatively at his slender, athletic build, a testament to his daily workouts in the pool.
My keen vampire perception takes in every move and sound he makes. I can smell sun block on his skin but it doesn't mask his unique scent. It is an intoxicating mixture, reminiscent of honey and lilacs. It confounds me. I've never known any scent that affects me the way his does. It drifts through the window innocuously carried by a gentle breeze and assails my throat like napalm.
Venom pools uncomfortably in my mouth and I swallow it down. I rub my throat, a futile attempt to soothe away the pain.
I am accustomed to a constant ache in my throat. It is simply the price I pay for choosing to live and work near humans. For centuries I have struggled to control the base instincts common to my kind. Even though my body craves human blood, I have found that I can partially satisfy it with the blood of wild animals. If I consistently hunt twice a week, my thirst is manageable. However, even if I've just finished hunting, my throat explodes into a blazing inferno whenever he comes near. Nevertheless, I decided long ago that breathing his delicious scent is worth all the pain it causes me.
I have worked as a doctor for many years now. It is a field that most vampires would consider masochistic. I smile when I recall the disdain my dear friends in Volterra, Italy had for my chosen profession. They told me that eventually I would go mad. Vampires feed from humans. It is the law of nature. That was over a hundred years ago. I have thus far proved them wrong.
My job as an oncologist at the Forks Community Hospital allows me to have free nights and weekends. I used to hate my free time. Creatures like me never tire and have no need to sleep. I believe that helping people live full and healthy lives is the only thing that makes my own miserable existence worthwhile. I cannot do that by sitting around uselessly. However this boy, Edward Masen, has given me reason to enjoy my free time.
I often spend my evenings sitting on my patio in the dark listening to his nightly routine. My ultra-sensitive hearing picks up his panting and groaning as he masturbates in his shower. He sometimes calls out my name as he climaxes. It is difficult for me to even think about it without getting an erection. Later, I find it comforting to listen to his soft snores while he dreams peacefully.
He stops to swat at an annoying mosquito or gnat that dares to bite his arm. Then he pushes his sunglasses up. They are slick with perspiration and traces of sun block. Humming contentedly he returns to his work, bending and reaching as he coaxes the leaves into his net. As I admire his lithe form, I feel a familiar tightness in my groin. Chastising myself for my lack of control, I reach down and adjust myself. As a distraction, I concentrate on the tune he is humming. It's the tune to Tchaikovsky's Waltz of the Flowers. It is not a typical choice for a teenager, but of course Edward is not a typical teenager. I chuckle as I imagine him waltzing around the pool with the skimmer pole as his partner.
He stops again and turns around to look at my kitchen window. He narrows his eyes for a moment as though he knows that I'm watching him. He smiles and bites his lower lip. I know he can't see me, but nonetheless, it's unsettling. He turns back and starts humming again.
Sometimes I see him carrying out the garbage bags to the street, the muscles in his young arms straining from their weight. He used to spend his Saturdays helping his mother around the house. I remember him sitting patiently by her side as they pulled weeds from the flower beds, but that's been over a year now. She doesn't leave the house much these days.
I'm always watching him when I'm home. It's an addiction. When he's indoors I listen in on his conversations. He practices complicated pieces on the piano. He's quite talented. His mother told me that he has been accepted to The Julliard School in New York City. She is so very proud of her son.
I met the Masens six years ago. Edward Jr. was twelve. Late one evening, I was surprised when his father crossed over our common fence and banged on my backdoor. I had never had visitors before. When I answered the door, he apologized and explained that he'd heard I was a doctor. He related that his son had fallen down the stairs and politely asked me if I would come to their home and examine his arm to see if I thought it might be broken. He wasn't sure whether his son needed to be taken to the hospital.
As we hastily made our way back to his house, he introduced himself as Edward Masen, Sr., a partner with a law firm in Port Angeles. His family had just moved from Chicago. I remember that I thought his behavior seemed odd. He was overly friendly rather than worried over the circumstances. When I walked into their kitchen, he introduced me to his wife, Elizabeth and their son, Edward, Jr. Elizabeth nodded her head in greeting, but said nothing. Long, copper-colored waves lay over her shoulders as she sat at the table nursing a glass of whiskey. Her green eyes stared straight ahead at nothing in particular. They appeared red and puffy.
Young Edward, dressed only in a pair of briefs and a tee-shirt, was sitting in a chair in the corner of the kitchen, his injured arm hanging limply at his side. I squatted down in front of him. That is when I noticed the bruises on his body. Large purple splotches marked his arms and thighs. I looked back at his father, but he simply raised an eyebrow, daring me to say anything about it. The boy remained silent, biting his lower lip and keeping his eyes focused on the floor as I gently lifted his arm. When I asked what had happened, his father answered for him. "Like I told you Dr. Cullen, Edward can be very clumsy. He fell down the stairs. He is always falling down. Isn't that right, Edward?" Not surprisingly, he nodded in agreement. I only saw him flinch when I gently pressed on his swollen forearm. My vampire senses immediately recognized a spiral fracture of the ulna, the kind of fracture that only occurs when an arm is violently twisted. I understood why his father was hesitant to take him to the hospital. I castigated myself for ignoring the cries I'd heard coming from the house earlier. It was just my habit to block out the cacophony coming from my human neighbors. I never imagined that something like this could be happening right under my nose.
I began monitoring the house from my kitchen window when I was home from work. Two days later I heard the distinct slapping of a strap and a child's pitiful cries begging for forgiveness. It took every ounce of restraint to keep from rushing into their house. I had never felt such hatred for any living creature.
I began planning that animal's demise. I waited patiently until he was alone before confronting him. It was late and he had gone outside that evening to smoke a cigarette. His eyes widened in horror when I suddenly appeared in front of him, growling out his name. With my right arm, I grasped him by the throat and lifted him high off the ground.
"How do you like feeling helpless, Masen?" I sneered.
He struggled, kicking and pulling at my hand. "Who-who are you? What do you want?" he cried out. His eyes were bulging as he gasped for breath.
"I am an avenging angel. The Angel of Death to you." I replied. "You will suffer greatly for your sins. You will think about the pain you inflicted upon your son as I tear your limbs from your body one at a time." His body suddenly seized and then became limp; his eyes rolled back. I dropped him on the ground like a useless piece of trash.
The next day, a neighbor found him lying dead in the driveway of his home. The coroner pronounced the cause of death as a massive heart attack. The heart attack was an undeserved blessing bestowed on him by fate. I still feel no remorse over it. Looking back on it now, I realize that it was a blessing for me as well. In my three hundred and sixty two years, I have never murdered anyone. Fate has allowed my record to remain clean.
The day of his funeral was overcast and gray. Edward stood bravely at the grave by his mother's side, his left hand on her shoulder as she sat on a small folding chair accepting words of comfort from friends and colleagues. Edward's right arm was encased in a plaster cast. She sobbed openly. His lips trembled, fighting back his own tears. I realized then that despite what his father had done, they both still cared for him.
Perhaps I shouldn't have interfered. I normally don't try to involve myself with humans outside of the hospital, but I couldn't simply sit by and let that man torture his son anymore.
As I walked up to offer my condolences, I could see fear in their green eyes. Elizabeth bemoaned the fact that they were alone in the world now. They had no other relatives. I quickly offered her my assistance. The firm where Edward Sr. had worked was kind enough to help with most of the estate matters. I helped by hiring a gardener and housekeeper for them for a few months until they were able to handle the responsibilities themselves. A few days later, I placed one million dollars into a trust fund that I had my lawyer set up anonymously in the Masen family name. With the money, they were able to pay off their debts and still have plenty to live comfortably.
Other than that and a few insignificant chores, I try my best to stay out of their lives. However, Elizabeth insists that I join them for dinner at least once a week. Without her husband dominating her, she has emerged a formidable woman who does not accept excuses from anyone, including me. I am, therefore, obliged to accept her invitations. She reminds me that she will never forget my kindness. Would she still look kindly upon me if she knew the truth?
She sends Edward over with a plate of Christmas cookies every year. I look forward to seeing his crooked smile as we play out our roles.
"Merry Christmas, Dr. Cullen," he says as he hands me the foil-covered paper plate.
"Call me Carlisle," I respond. He never does.
His cheeks are flushed from the cold air. His lips are ruby-red. He winks and grins before he turns and quickly walks away. When he's gone, I toss the cookies in the disposal and lift the plate to my nose. The lingering aroma of the cookies disgusts me, but Edward leaves a trace of his scent on the edges of the plate where his hands were. This is the cherished gift that they unknowingly bestow on me. I keep the plate for several weeks until Edward's scent has faded completely.
As a child, Edward was beautiful, talented and intelligent. For his thirteenth birthday, I invited them to attend a concert by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. We drove into Seattle and checked into the W Seattle Hotel on 4th Avenue located only a short walk from Benaroya Hall. They were both overwhelmed with the hotel's luxurious amenities.
Although, he seemed to enjoy most of the music during the concert, I noticed his interest pique while watching the guest pianist perform Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major. I had never seen him so excited. He leaned forward in his seat, his brilliant green eyes transfixed on the pianist's hands. On the way back to the hotel, he blabbered away about the pianist. He wanted to know how young he was, how long he'd been playing, whether it was difficult to learn to play well. I asked him if he would be interested in learning to play. He answered in the affirmative, excitement overflowing in his words.
The next week, I had a baby grand piano delivered to his house. At first Elizabeth did not want to accept my gift. She thought it was too much. I was overindulging Edward. She changed her mind when I sat down on the bench with him by my side. I showed him a few chords and a simple song. He played it perfectly after only observing me. She hired an instructor the next day. He has been playing nearly every day since.
I suppose I have always felt a certain connection to him, I just didn't understand the scope of that connection. After all, it's only been a few months since I started becoming sexually aroused when I am around him. He is not completely oblivious to the sexual tension between us, and he quietly flirts with me. He makes excuses to drop by. Sometimes he wants to borrow my gardening tools. Sometimes he asks if I can help him with his science homework. Every chance he gets, he brushes his hand against my skin, sending charges of electricity through me.
I realize now that he is my destiny, my mate. It's laughable, I know. Not only is he male, he's human and I…well, I'm a monster, a creature of the night. Would he run screaming if he knew? Regardless, I torture myself daily watching him from here. It's a blissful reprieve from the never-ending hell that can only be described as my half-life.
He's finished cleaning the pool now. Voices within the house alert me that he has guests today. A petite girl with short curly brown hair and a tall, lanky boy with blonde hair bound out of the house with towels and a boom box in their hands. They greet Edward, laughing boisterously. I've seen them here before. He calls her Jessica. The boy is Mike. I originally thought that she was Edward's girlfriend; the way she touches him and follows him around certainly hints at some sort of attraction. However, knowing Edward's preference, he would be more likely attracted to Mike, who is definitely attracted to Jessica, who is unfortunately attracted to Edward. I chuckle to myself. Human relationships, especially those of teenagers, can be so complicated.
Elizabeth's gaunt figure stands at the doorway yelling out a warning to keep the noise down. They wave their acknowledgement (Sure, Mom) and she disappears into the house. Jessica covers her mouth with her hand and giggles. The boys simply roll their eyes before they turn on the music as loudly as possible.
Seeing Elizabeth reminds me of our agreement and I'm filled with discomfort. Elizabeth is my patient. Three months ago, I diagnosed her with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer. She only has a few weeks left. During her last appointment, she made me promise to see that Edward finished school. I told her that I could try, but I was not sure he would accept any advice from me. I advised her to tell Edward about her condition, but she refused. She didn't want to worry him. With any luck, she might survive long enough to see him off to Julliard. I told her that she doesn't have that long, but she would not listen.
"Please. You must do this," she stated adamantly. "My Edward…my Edward is special. You must do everything in your power to see that he reaches his potential." I would have refused if I could have, but as usual, Elizabeth would not be denied.
Edward is laughing at something one of the other teenagers said. It is such a delight to see him happy. I've seen him grow up from a baby-faced preteen to a very mature and handsome boy balancing on the edge of manhood.
The years meld together for me. Time has no meaning for my kind. Nevertheless, I know my time in Forks is nearly up. Soon I will need to find another place to call home. As a human being, my face would have matured over the last six years. However, my face remains unchanged. It is the same as it was when I was turned at the age of 23 by another monster I encountered on the streets of London. Soon the staff at the hospital will begin to question my youthful appearance and begin asking me how I manage it. What's your secret, Dr. Cullen? It happens every time. As soon as the questions start, I move away and start again in some other small, dark God-forsaken place. For the first time in this miserable existence, I worry. I now have a responsibility. I can't abandon him. There is an unfamiliar ache in my chest as I contemplate my lack of options.
A couple of loud splashes and scream distract me from my self-pity. Edward and Mike are chasing Jessica around the pool. She surprised them by pushing them in and now they are out for revenge. All three are laughing as they run.
I used to feel guilty about my inadvertent voyeuristic habit. However, I stopped worrying about it long ago. I am actually protecting my mate by watching over him this way. It just happens to be a pleasurable task.
The sky has become overcast. I can sense a cold front moving in with a rainstorm ahead of it. Undaunted, the three friends jump into the pool. They begin some sort of silly hide and seek game called Marco Polo. I laugh as I watch Edward fumble around with his eyes closed trying to tag one of them.
From the corner of my eye I see the copy of the medical journal that I left on the counter yesterday. I pick it up and sit down at the table to read about the latest treatments for lymphoma. I can still hear them splashing and playing outside. I assure myself that I don't need to watch.
An hour or more passes before I notice that things are quiet. I stand to look out the window. I notice that it has started to drizzle and then I hear a piercing scream. Dropping the journal on the floor, I run out the back door and freeze at the sight ahead. Edward is running towards me. He jumps over the fence and yells for me to come quickly. His eyes are wild with panic. I have to concentrate not to move abnormally fast as I run with him to his house.
Elizabeth Masen lies crumpled against a kitchen cabinet on the floor. Her eyes are open, pupils dilated. She has no heartbeat. Mike is trying to straighten her body so that he can begin CPR. His hands are shaking. A tearful Jessica is on the phone with the 911 operator.
I kneel on the floor next to Mike and place two fingers against the pulse point on her neck. This is just for show because I already know that she is dead. I can smell the beginning of decomposition. Her body is cold, the blood already coagulating in her veins and arteries. She must have died shortly after she walked back into the house. I was so fixated on watching Edward and his friends that I didn't hear her fall to the floor. I lift her up and move her to a flat open area near the kitchen table. Before I begin CPR, I look up and see that Edward has slid down the far wall with his arms wrapped around his knees. He seems to be in shock. Jessica sits down next to him and wraps her thin arms around him. A flash of jealousy causes my stomach to clench and I grit my teeth to stifle a growl.
The paramedics arrive within minutes. I take one aside and explain that Elizabeth was my patient. I tell him about the cancer and that the death was not unexpected. I want to wait to pronounce when we get to the hospital. Edward does not need to hear this yet. After some cajoling, I convince him that this will not interfere with protocol. Before we leave, Mike and I help Edward change into a pair of jeans, a sweater and some chucks. I accompany Edward in the ambulance. He is quiet the entire way. I begin to worry that he may be in shock. He doesn't question why we are not trying to resuscitate his mother during the ride. I think he knows.
At the hospital, I find a corner in the waiting room for him and bring him a cup of coffee. When he's settled, I go back to find the attending physician. I fill out the proper paperwork and then sit down and try to figure out a way to tell Edward that his mother is gone. These things are never easy, but this time I feel an extra dose of discomfort. I finally decide that it can wait no longer.
Edward is sitting in the same spot that I left him. He's leaning forward on the edge of the chair with his elbows on his knees. His hands rest on the back of his bowed head. The untouched coffee cup remains on the table in front of him. I sit down next to him. Before I can say anything, he lifts his head and looks up at me.
"She's dead, isn't she?" His voice is rough. His eyes are glassy.
He has made it easy for me. I simply nod. I sit on the table in front of him and take his hands in both of mine. I need to comfort him in some way. My hands are abnormally cold, but he is so numb right now that he doesn't seem to notice. He stares at the waiting room door blankly, as though he expects Elizabeth to walk in any moment.
"Is there someone I can call for you, Edward?" I ask even though I already know the answer.
After a few moments, he releases a stuttering breath and shakes his head.
We sit quietly for a few more minutes, before I say, "I should get you home. You need to rest."
He doesn't argue. I stand, bringing him up with me. I walk with him to the reception desk and ask the nurse to call a cab for us. I wrap an arm around his shoulders and lead him outside to wait for our ride.
The sky is pitch black and the temperature has dropped considerably. I take off my cardigan sweater and lay it over his shoulders. He doesn't seem to notice. Checking my watch, I am surprised to see that it is past 7 pm. The rain is coming down in sheets. A flash of lightning illuminates the parking lot moments before thunder crashes around us. I locate a bench under the awning that provides a clear view of the street as we await the cab. I sit close to him but do not touch him. He stares into the darkness.
"She was sick," he whispers. It is not a question, but he looks at me for confirmation. I nod. His face is unreadable. I can tell that he's putting the clues together in his head: her lack of appetite, her weight loss, her weakness.
Minutes later the cab arrives. We run through the merciless torrent, getting ourselves completely soaked. I give the driver the Masen home address as we climb into the backseat. Once we are settled, Edward leans against the door with his forehead pressed against the glass. We drive for several minutes in silence before I say anything. He's trying to hide the fact that he is quietly crying, but I can hear the sobs. I want to reach out to him, but I'm worried that I'll embarrass him. For the first time ever, I feel unsure of myself. I decide that I should wait for him to give me a sign that he needs my comfort.
"Edward, we're here," I say as the cab pulls into the Masen driveway. Edward stares out of the window at his house, but makes no move to open the door. "Would you like me to come in with you?"
He shakes his head, but still does not open the door. The cab driver seems confused. He turns his head and asks if we are going to get out. I open the door on my side, but Edward grabs hold of my wrist.
"Please." he whispers. "I can't go in there right now."
Ah…now I understand. I instruct the drive to take us around the block to my home.
He shivers as he stands in the foyer. We are both dripping wet. I run up the stairs to the bathroom and return with a large bath towel. I hand it to him and he takes it, but makes no effort to use it.
"Edward, you're freezing. You need to warm up."
He doesn't respond.
"Come." I pull him forward and lead him upstairs to the bathroom. I start the shower and turn to look at him. "Get undressed and hop into the shower. The water will warm you up. I'll go find something dry for you to wear." I walk out of the bathroom and close the door behind me.
The first thing I worry about is feeding him. I have no food or drinks in the house. I remember the name of a favorite pizza restaurant used by the nurses at the hospital. I get the number off of the internet on my phone and punch it in. I order a large pepperoni. That seems to be the most popular with the nurses. I also order a large salad and 2 large Cokes. They tell me the cost and that it will be here in 30 minutes. I hang up and concentrate on my next task.
We seem to be around the same size. Rummaging through my dresser, I locate two pairs of sweat pants. I quickly strip off my wet clothes and put one of them on. I take out two long-sleeved tee-shirts and two pairs of socks. I pull on one of the shirts and the put the socks on. Before leaving my bedroom, I turn back the covers of my bed. I'm glad that I've always kept a bed in my home even though I never use it. It will come in handy tonight.
Carrying his clothes with me, I walk back to the bathroom and knock on the door.
"Edward?" There is no response, but I assume he can't hear me over the noise from the shower. "I have some clothing for you. I'm just going to lay it on the counter." When I open the door, his scent hits me like a tsunami. I cough and swallow the venom that has flooded my mouth. Steam has filled the room. I am shocked to see him standing in the same spot where I last saw him. He has removed the wet sweaters and toed off his shoes. They lay in a heap at his feet. His jeans and boxers are pooled around his ankles, but he has not stepped out of them. His flaccid uncut cock is surrounded by a lovely nest of light brown curls and rests heavily against his thigh. I involuntarily gasp at the sight. I have seen many naked men before. I'm a doctor for Christ's sake. However, never in my entire existence have I seen a more beautiful example of the human male form than Edward.
Shaking my head, I force myself to tear my eyes away from his penis and look into his face. I am stunned. I was so preoccupied by his naked body and scent that I didn't notice that he's crying. His hands cover his face and he is sobbing and shivering. I take a hold of his elbow and force him to step out of his pants and into the shower stall. I try to close the door, but he stops me, pleading with his eyes. Don't leave me alone.
My throat is like a furnace. I hold my breath for some relief. I know what he wants now and I'm hesitating. It's not about whether I can do it. It's about whether I should. I finally relent and strip. The minute I climb into the shower he wraps his arms around me and pulls me down to the floor. My legs are out straight and open. He is pressed up against my chest, straddling my lap.
For several minutes we sit together and he cries unabated. I try soothing him by stroking his back. I have never had to deal with something like this and I'm at a loss as to what to do. His arms are wrapped so tightly around me that if I were human, I would be in physical pain. My body tingles everywhere his skin touches mine and I have a painful erection that I cannot hide from him in this position. I'm hoping that he is distraught enough not to notice as I try unsuccessfully to will it away. His face is buried in my neck and I can feel his hot tears rolling down over my collarbone and down my abdomen.
At long last, his tears slow and finally stop. All that is left are a few hiccups. He raises his head and looks into my eyes. For a few seconds, I reflect on the beauty of his face. Unexpectedly, he crashes his lips against mine. My mind is in a haze. Between his overpowering scent and the sexual desire building in me, I am finding it difficult to control my instinct to bite him. His hand reaches between us and he takes both of our cocks in his hand, squeezing.
"Edward," I rasp, roughly. "What are you doing to me?" My mind tells me that he is vulnerable, this is wrong, I need to stop him, but my body has craved his touch for so long. I don't have the strength to stay away from this any longer.
"Please Carlisle," he begs in a throaty whisper, "I need you so much."
I tremble with joy. He has never called me by my first name to my face. In answer, I thread the fingers of one hand through his wet hair and grip it tightly. I place my other hand between us and over his. His cock is hot and smooth and actually touching it is more erotic than I ever imagined. I help him slide his hand up and down. The sensation is sublime and I feel my eyes rolling back.
Our strokes become faster, his kisses more frantic, thrusting his tongue into my mouth. I return those kisses now as I gasp and grunt, tangling my tongue in his hot mouth. He moves his lips away from my mouth to my eyes, my neck, my shoulder, my jaw. He stops momentarily to nibble on my earlobe. I am overcome with need. I press my head back against the tiles and concentrate on not hurting him. He is very skilled at this. It has been a full century since someone has touched me so intimately. We come together. He screams out my name and I roar his. As I throw back my head, I hear the tiles behind me crack. I am grateful that I've managed not to hurt him.
Edward's chest is pressed against mine and I can feel his heart pounding. I am filled with ecstasy for it feels as though the beats are coming from my own silent heart. He rests his head on my shoulder and he kisses me softly on the neck.
"Thank you." He mumbles sleepily.
The water in the shower is beginning to cool so with the last bit of will power that I have, I gently push him away and help him stand up. His knees buckle so I place one arm under his knees and the other under his shoulders and lift him up. I had planned to use the shampoo and body wash, but I decide it's not necessary right now. I have to get out of this enclosed space. I shut off the water and step out of the shower stall, carrying him in my arms. I set him down gently and grab a couple of towels.
I dry and dress both of us. Edward seems to be regaining his strength. Neither of us has said much so as he surprises me as we walk out of the bathroom hand-in-hand.
"You've known all along that she was sick. Haven't you?" his voice is weak, but accusing.
Turning to face him, I hesitate before I answer; worrying that my answer will trigger an outburst. "Yes, I knew. Edward, your mother did not want me to tell anyone. You must understand that I am bound by doctor-patient confidentiality."
"She had lost so much weight, but she wouldn't talk to me when I asked her about it. Why?" His eyes are puffy and his face is flushed. "What am I supposed to do now?"
"Don't worry. I'll help you. We'll take things one step at a time. Tomorrow, we'll begin making arrangements for her funeral. Right now, we need to take care of you."
I want to say something more, something that will comfort him, but I can't think of anything. My throat is hurting and my normally-sharp vampire mind is hazy from the first orgasm I have had in one hundred years. Fortunately, the doorbell rings.
"It's the pizza I ordered. Meet me in the kitchen." I say before I sprint down the stairs forgetting to run at a human pace. When I open the front door the moist cool air rushes into my nostrils, soothing away some of the burn. I am grateful for the relief, but I can feel an ache in my chest. I am missing him. He is less than thirty feet away from me, and I am missing him. Is that normal with mates?
I realize as I bring the pizza box into my kitchen that I do not own any dishes or eating utensils. Fortunately the restaurant has included paper napkins, plastic forks and knives. I arrange everything on the table. When I turn around, Edward is standing in the doorway staring at me.
"Come sit down," I invite him, "I'm afraid I don't have any clean dishes, but the restaurant has provided some necessities. I'm sure we'll be fine."
He slowly steps by me, brushing his arm against mine and sits down. I tremble at the sensation. He looks suspiciously at the food. I open the box and hand him a slice of pizza which he promptly lays down on a napkin. I sit down next to him and he leans his head against my shoulder for a moment. I close my eyes relishing the warmth.
"Aren't you having some?" he asks as he sits up.
"Umm…no. I'm not hungry."
"Neither am I," he replies, pushing away from the table.
My arm automatically shoots out to hold down the back of his chair. "I think you should eat something, Edward. You didn't eat any breakfast or lunch today."
He continues to push back, but I refuse to let him leave. He stops pushing and looks at me with narrowed eyes.
"How do you know that?"
My mind races to find a suitable answer. "I'm a doctor. I can tell when someone is weak from hunger."
"That's bullshit." he retorts. "Do you spy on us? I see how you look at us sometimes."
"Edward, you're not making any sense. Today has been a great shock. You're confused." I answer.
"No. I always knew you were different. You're stronger than anyone I've ever known. You lifted my mother like she weighed nothing. Then you picked me up a minute ago without even straining yourself."
"Edward, you noticed that she had lost a lot of weight. She really wasn't heavy. You're not that heavy either." I argue.
He continues. "Your skin is hard, pale and ice cold." To emphasize his point, he places a hand on my wrist as he gazes into my eyes. "Your eyes change colors. They're golden right now, but they were black when we were in the shower. You never eat or drink when you come over for dinner. When the doorbell rang, you moved so fast you seemed to disappear. Are you an alien? What are you?" he asks me.
"Are you serious?" I ask, trying to laugh it off. "An alien?" However, he's not buying it and he stares at me.
I turn away and sigh in exasperation. He is too observant for his own good. Rubbing the back of my neck, I offer, "Fine. We'll talk after you eat. Okay?"
"Do you promise?" he demands.
I nod my head. I'd better come up with something.
He nibbles unenthusiastically on the pizza slice, eating only half. He toys with the salad moving it around in the container with his fork, but never takes a bite. He is thirsty, however, and finishes off both of our Cokes. I know that humans need more nutrition than that, but I don't want to argue with him tonight. I'll make sure he eats better tomorrow.
"I'm done," he announces, pushing the pizza away. He stands and picks up the box. "I'll put it away."
He walks to the refrigerator and opens the door. For several seconds, he peers inside the empty appliance before he turns to look at me with raised brows.
"No food?" he asks suspiciously.
"Come. Let's have that talk," I offer, standing up and motioning for him to follow me into the living room.
I enter the room and sit down on the sofa sideways, stretching one of my legs against the back of the sofa. Then I invite him to sit between my legs. He acquiesces and sits leaning his back against my chest. I stroke his hair and breathe in his sweet, torturous scent.
"You're not like the rest of us, are you? Tell me," he demands. Then more gently, he adds, "You can trust me."
"I'm afraid that I'll frighten you," I utter softly.
"I'm not afraid of you, Carlisle. You have never given me reason to believe that you would hurt me. Tell me." He repeats his demand. "Did mother know?"
"No. No one outside of my own kind knows," I admit.
"You say you are not an alien. Are you like a superhero or something?" He turns his head to look into my eyes.
I chuckle. "There are no such things as superheroes. However, there are creatures that roam this world that are believed by humans to be myths and legends. I am one of those creatures." I am mesmerized by the tranquility in face.
"Are you a vampire?" he asks, subtlety swallowing away his sudden nervousness.
"Are you afraid?" I counter, trying to gauge his reaction. Surprisingly, I taste no fear in the charged atmosphere surrounding us. He simply seems curious.
"I already told you. I'm not afraid of you," he reiterates. As if to prove his point, he turns away and lies back against me again.
"Do you want to know what I feed on or do you know already?" I taunt, smiling.
"You won't hurt me," he says assuredly. "I love you, Carlisle and I know that you love me. I've sensed it for a long time."
I am stunned at the casualness of his declaration. It is true, of course, but how can he have sensed it? Have I been that obvious?
I explain my decision to feed from animals instead of humans and the ridicule I have received for it by other vampires.
"Why do you do it?" he asks.
"I don't want to be a monster." I sigh as I run my hand around his jaw. It's scruffy and feels nice. "Compassion for others is the last vestige of humanity that I have left in me."
Our conversation continues long into the night. I relate my few memories as a human, my life in England in the 17th century before I was changed. I tell him about my lonely wanderings around the world, and my time in Italy with the three vampire brothers that befriended me. He is surprised when he realizes my age.
"You know I used to pray that you would fall in love with mother and marry her so that you could be my father," he admits, as pink blossoms on his cheeks. "Now I'm glad that prayer was never answered because I want you for myself." He smiles sadly and yawns. He is thinking about her now and his mood shifts.
"It's late," I tell him. "We'll talk more tomorrow."
I lift him up and carry him upstairs to my bedroom. Before I reach the top of the stairs, he is sound asleep. I sit by the bed and watch him until morning.
The sky is overcast and gray, normal for a day in October. I watch from the kitchen window as he swims his morning laps in our heated pool. We have lived in New Hampshire for 4 years now. I found a position at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Memorial Hospital in Lebanon and Edward is in his final year at Dartmouth, majoring in Music. His mother would have been very proud despite the fact that he decided not to go to Julliard.
As we made love early this morning, he asked me to change him again. It's a discussion we've had many times.
"Please Carlisle," he gasped, "as a present for my birthday."
I told him that it's not fair to ask me that in the heat of passion. He knows I would give him anything he wanted, but to take his life so that I can have him forever? That would be the most selfish thing I could ever do.
He repeated that he doesn't want to ever be older than me. I told him that it could never happen. I am over three hundred and sixty six years old. He laughed and said that I don't look a day over twenty-three.
What's your secret, Dr. Cullen?
It suddenly occurs to me that I have never felt more young and alive than I do now. My existence before Edward was dark and empty. The future would have no meaning without him by my side. I feel myself beginning to relent. Perhaps…for his birthday.
As if he senses my thoughts, he stops swimming. Smiling crookedly, he turns to look at the kitchen window and, knowing that I can hear him, whispers, "Thank you, my love."
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