Patterns in the Chaos
by Mackenzie L.
An exploration of Carlisle and Esme's experiences during the newborn battle in Eclipse. Canon interpretation.
This story will be four chapters in all: the first following Esme's point of view before and during the battle, the second following Carlisle during the same period of time, the third detailing the aftermath, and the fourth how they heal one another.
The first two chapters are organized abstractly, as a series of chronological moments and flashbacks from the time of preparation before the newborn army arrives to the crux of the battle itself.
*The Twilight Saga and all of its characters belong to Stephenie Meyer.
Part I: Esme
She remembers the way he looked at her that morning, before it all began. His eyes, filled with that sensuous shade of deepest gold, like a Venetian sunset peering over her shoulder. The warmth of his gaze had been so reassuring, so filled with love and courage. Their eyes had not met directly, but just the sense of him behind her had been more than enough. It seemed Carlisle was always watching over her... But now the question haunted her: would he always be there to guide her?
Now, in the face of life and death, she could not be so sure.
He had taken her hands and enveloped them in his own, running his fingers over the sparse inches of skin on her wrists and palms. It literally hurt that he could not touch her more intimately. They'd been forced to keep a distance, restraining themselves to what was reasonable in the presence of others' company.
That moment had lasted a few minutes at most, and those minutes had been painful. Not so far away, her beloved children were being trained to fight in a battle. Those dear Quileute boys – so beautifully blind behind their masculine enthusiasm – were hardly any more prepared. She could hear it all taking place just yards behind where she and her husband stood. Carlisle acted as a wall between her and the rest of the world – but his presence could not keep her from hearing it.
His arms had tightened around her waist as he pulled her back against him, breathing a sigh over the top of her head. She faced the stunning mountainside, looking out over an endless fortress of blue pines that stretched for miles. A thin gray mist lingered at the bottom of the mountain like a mote around a majestic castle. The mist flowed in silence around the rocks, gentle but ominous.
Jacob Black's boyish laughter met her ears, then faded away just as quickly as it had come. She had thought there was something subtly insecure about that laughter; it was the laughter of a boy who was eager to cover up his fear, but it was also the laughter of someone who could make himself believe that his fear was forgettable.
She could hear Jasper's authoritative drawl in the midst of some stubborn voices. She could hear several different arguments taking place in different corners of the field at one time. But above it all there were also peaceful birds singing somewhere far away, the glassy melody of waterfalls trickling on the mountaintop, a quiet whistle of wind riding the air above her. And directly behind her, her lover's gentle breath washing over her ear.
"It looks like a painting, doesn't it?" he'd asked her, something in his words inherently romantic. It stung.
He was trying to distract her, trying to calm her nerves by asking her to see the beauty in what surrounded them. Her eyes wandered over the glorious scene, soaking in all of nature's familiar colors.
She nodded her head and trusted that he understood her reply. She just couldn't bring herself to speak out loud. She couldn't talk with him about trivial things when her mind was in such a dark place.
Carlisle had taken her away from it all for a while; having seen the stress in her eyes as she watched them prepare for what lay ahead, he was unable to bear it any longer. Esme was grateful for the escape, no matter how brief. She had a hard time taking in what was transpiring before her very eyes. In hindsight she could have prepared herself more. But the truth was, she hadn't really stopped to think that any of it would actually be happening one day.
It was all talk until the fateful day came.
She wondered if anyone else was truly as ready as they appeared to be. Perhaps they were all pretending to comfort themselves, simply to reassure one another.
Or perhaps she was just lacking the courage that everyone else seemed to have.
She knew they were concerned about her. Even then she could hear the way their voices lowered when they glanced in her direction. Even then she knew that every time Carlisle turned his head the slightest bit, he was meeting their curious stares with a silent reassurance. Rather than feel embarrassed by it, she'd accepted what was to come with reluctant resolve. They could speculate all they wanted about how she was the least ready of them all. She had to have faith that when the time came, she would be on her feet with the rest of them, just as headstrong and just as brave.
"Are you ready to go back now?" her husband whispered.
It was the first time he had spoken in five minutes.
He held her hand tighter and rested his chin on her shoulder, waiting patiently for a response.
She nodded, noticing the mist in the valley had finally dispersed.
"Remember that I will always be with you, no matter how this ends," he had said, his finger curling against her cheek as if to collect an invisible tear.
She had never remembered an ache quite like the one she had felt as he touched her then. It was not enough, that brief caress of his knuckle. It was too smooth, too quick. Gone before she could truly savor it. Yet it was more powerful than even the most fierce embrace could have been.
He could promise things like this, but the comfort she gleaned from those promises came not from his words but from the sound of his voice. When she actually listened to what he was saying, it made the pain worse. Would he really be there if this ended the way they feared it would?
No. He would not.
It was not even bittersweet anymore. It was a sentence for utter despair.
She had drawn his hand closer to her cheek and laced her fingers with his, closing her eyes as she tried to soak in the strength from him. She could feel him watching her intently as she did this, but he was not mystified by her anymore. He was so far past treating her like a puzzle that must be solved. He knew her too well now. His stare was composed only of love, with just a hint of awe. She had not needed to look into his eyes to know this.
"Will we survive this?" she had asked him, her breath catching as she timidly added, "All of us?"
She had not posed her question properly. In any other circumstance she would have phrased it better: Do you believe we'll make it? Do you think we can do this?
This time she had not asked Carlisle for his belief. She had not asked him for his thought. She had simply asked him, as if he'd had the power to predict it, an infallible oracle at her bidding.
He was silent for a long while before he pressed his head to hers and lowered their linked hands between them, sheltering her from the cold wind. He was prolonging his reply, preparing himself to deliver the right words, praying for the strength to speak them without a hitch in his voice.
"We have justice on our side,"he finally whispered, his voice as tired as his soul was.
Her eyes left their place on his chin, disenchanted as she stared at the wet ground beneath their feet. "But is it enough?"
His thumb stroked a feather-light path along her knuckles.
"What does your heart tell you?"
"That I believe we can do this."
One of his hands parted from the place where their fingers were tightly knotted, resting against her midriff. With a gentle touch he raised her chin, encouraging her eyes to lift from the ground and meet his face.
"We must not only have belief, Esme," he said, his voice hushed but fervent, a tinge of weariness overcome by passion. "We must have conviction."
She gave a watery smile in response to his didactic words. "Does even the smallest doubt ever enter your mind, Carlisle?"
His lip curved slightly as though he were tempted to smile, but his eyes were serious when he spoke. "Doubts may enter my mind from time to time... But since the sun rose this morning, not one doubt has entered my heart."
In that moment she felt a little sparkle of assuredness, feeling there was no possible way to argue with Carlisle's heart. He sounded so fantastically certain, so concrete in this belief that her worries suddenly seemed unjustified in every way – even if it lasted for a moment's time.
"You rely so much on your heart, my love," she sighed, exhaustion and fondness warming her voice as she tucked a wisp of wind-blown blond hair away from his forehead.
"It has never failed me before," he'd said with a soft, wise smile. Then he leaned in to kiss her on the corner of her mouth, whispering huskily against her lips, "Bright Eyes..."
He had used the nickname ceaselessly with her before they were married and shortly after. Decades went by where he would never say it, then suddenly it would slip from his tongue unexpectedly, making it all the more bittersweet to hear. It meant more to her because he so rarely used it. But hearing him use it now felt like the kiss of death.
He wouldn't have said it now unless he feared this could be the end.
He kissed her lovingly on the lips, and all through his kiss she found herself sinking in a sea of regrets.
The last time they had made love had been too quick – effortless, but quick.
He'd been pretending to read his books in his study when it happened. He had read everything in his library at least a dozen times before. Carlisle never really read anything unless it was brand new. He only ever pretended to read one of his old books when he wanted her to initiate something...
She always knew when he was inviting her. He rarely did it with words, being the more silent type he was. He'd left his trail of usual hints: the wide open door, the conveniently closed blinds, the old book resting in one of his hands as he sat leisurely behind his desk. His eyes had been lazily skimming the page, not really seeing anything. She knew his mind was far away, tucked behind the peaceful countenance he wore, lit by a single candle.
He had looked up at her, indiscreetly, when she appeared in the doorway. Everything about him had been perfectly innocent. Until he showed her his eyes.
His face was gentle, but his eyes were drops of deep, black midnight. His fingers moved to touch his necktie, slowly twisting it till it came undone. He left the rest for her to decide whether it stayed or came off.
His study had smelled like cinnamon and liquid antibiotics.
He had taken her in his lap; never left his chair. Her head had been resting on his shoulder while he mated with her, and she had stared at the walls of books behind his desk the entire time.
It had not been perfect.
If she could go back in time and change that now, she would.
She would have looked at his face instead of those damned books. She would have looked into his eyes, and held his gaze like a rope in a windstorm, like those days when they were first learning to love each other. They had both been so afraid to look away from the other's eyes in those days. There was something tragic and beautiful about that fear. Had they truly lost some of it over so many years?
One of his books had fallen off the desk from the jolt of his final thrust, and out of its pages fluttered a dozen tiny orange and yellow petals from a Latana flower he'd pressed inside of it ages ago.
Esme's eyes had been so distracted by those little flowers, wondering where he'd found them, how old they were, how long they'd been pressed inside of that book waiting to release their forgotten fragrance.
Perhaps he had stolen them from an exotic Spanish dancer. Perhaps he had been walking alone in the gardens of Granada in the 19th Century and decided to pick the enchanting flowers to keep himself company.
Only after wondering these things did Esme realize that her husband was still madly stroking that sweet little place in her lap with his thumb.
She never reached her climax.
Maybe looking into his eyes would have helped.
But what upset her the most was that she had never found out the story behind Carlisle's hidden Latana flowers. He'd cleaned them up afterwards, and tossed them into the waste basket like they had never even mattered.
But now Esme keeps thinking about them, wondering about them. Carlisle rarely keeps flowers in his study. He prefers the more noble breeds of flora – all grapevines and olive trees and other ancient symbols of fertility. Never flowers.
It infuriates her that she may never have the chance to ask him why.
It had hurt her then. But it hurts ever so much more now.
As she waits in the hauntingly quiet forest, she can't help but think that this is the "calm before the storm." These little, fleeting, random thoughts keep prickling inside her mind. She is thinking of the poem he read to her two days ago – a thought that has nothing to do with this moment at all.
"Desert Places" by Robert Frost.
She had seen him carrying the book around with him for days before she found him, on the floor, slumped against the wall in his study. He'd looked like a college student who had just come back from class, with his crooked tie and his untucked shirt, his blond hair ruffled out of place so that it showed some of its youthful length. He'd taken off his lab coat in a hurry and left it beside him on the hard wood floor. He had been so immersed in reading that he hadn't realized she was there until she settled beside him on the ground.
She asked him to read it out loud.
She'd thought very little of that poem when her husband had first read it for her. Now it haunts her ceaselessly.
And lonely as it is, that loneliness
Will be more lonely ere it will be less.
She can hear the scattered stanzas echoing through her memory in Carlisle's gentle voice, each line stealing her breath and tossing pebbles into the lake of her fear.
They cannot scare me with their empty spaces
Between stars – on stars where no human race is.
Her fear begins to ripple at the thought of any of them being alone when this over. One of her children, God forbid, could be left there on the field amidst the battle's ruins. Jasper. Alice. Emmett. Rosalie.
For a brief, strange moment it is Emmett who sparks her dearest concerns. The image of his distraught, bulky form hunched over the body of a mangled Rosalie pulls Esme's protective instincts into a fiery rage.
The scenarios speed through her mind – Alice shrieking as Jasper's limbs are broken in an attack that was too quick to catch. Rosalie brutally crushed by a mob of uncontrolled newborns, trying to take on more than she could handle. Carlisle's body being snapped in half before her very eyes...
She chokes on her own venom at the imagined sight, a chill of crippling terror rocketing up her spine.
No, she cannot let that happen.
Suddenly, everything she's ever told him, confessed to him, asked of him feels like it wasn't enough. She should have held him longer, should have kissed him harder; should have said "I love you" one more time...
Everything she's ever regretted saying, all of the arguments they've had in the past – it all seems so disgustingly petty now in the face of mortal danger, when this hour could be their last together. She wishes she had forgiven him sooner for those times she felt he had wronged her. She wishes she hadn't let her pride get in the way of admitting she was wrong from time to time.
Now everything Carlisle has ever done feels a thousand times more righteous. Now, everything he has told her holds a thousand times more truth.
She takes one last glance at him before they break the boundary of the forest.
Her heart breaks when he must let go of her hand.
There is a moment just before their hands break apart, a final flashback of their first night as one that offers her peace before she must part with the other half of her soul...
"Let me look at you," she had whispered as she twisted her fingers around the edge of the cover that protected his body. She wanted to see all of him, all of that body which had given her such unthinkable pleasure on this night.
His head fell back in a limp nod of consent, his hair ruffling against the pillows like lazy blond artwork.
Her breath caught as she slowly drew the covers from his body.
Every piece of him was solid, pale and gleaming in the moonlight. The shadows fought for dominance, seeking to conquer the light that played over his form. The silent battle of light and shadow yielded appealing contours on the smooth valleys of his muscles, as he shifted his weight beneath her stare.
He took her hand and used her to aid his bearings as his back rose from the bed. As if by magnetic will, her heart tumbled forward to greet his as his chest came closer.
For a long time he looked into her eyes, never moving for fear of breaking the brittle bliss between them. His expression was serious, and weary, and full of wonder as his eyes sojourned over the features of her face. And it now perturbed Esme, not knowing his exact thoughts. She had come to know him on so intimate level, and for this moment, she felt like he was gone.
As if reading her worry, he held her hand tighter, brushing it longingly against his hip. With his free hand he reached up to tuck one caramel curl behind her ear. On this ear he lingered, drawing his finger down to her chin. And on her chin he lingered, drawing her chin up to his lips.
He kissed her patiently, and she kissed him back, tasting the melancholy tip of his tongue before he retreated.
She wanted to ask him if he had known that love was so unrelenting, so absorbing, so scandalously harsh when shared between two bodies. She wanted to torture him with questions, philosophical and deep and impossible. And she wanted him to answer her with the first thing that came to his mind, whether it made sense or not. Nothing needed to make sense anymore – sense and logic had been the illusions all along. But this – this unrelenting, absorbing love – was reality. This was the spiritual truth behind the curtain of reason. It was dark and light at once. It broke every rule, gracefully.
His eyes were so close to hers, she felt she could swim inside them. In his gaze she lost herself, floating in the deep golden reef of his secrets. He was so open for her, yet still so protective. The ripe revelations he offered with every blink grew heavier in her heart as she took them in. She wanted more, even when the weight was too much to bear.
He closed his eyes for a moment, covering the world beneath his lashes, and Esme felt winded by the impact of being shut out. But his hands were on her arms again, holding tightly, reminding her that they were still safe, still connected. His chest was rising, falling, lifting and relaxing as it had always done – this same way for centuries, his every breath was the same. But now as she watched the innocent pattern, soft sobs collected in her throat. The need to care for him grew too great, and her lips lunged for his, desperate to clutch back the connection she worried they would lose...
This was home. This unexplainable realm that existed here, on this bed, in his arms, with the feel of his body, hard and warm against hers. The more parts of them that touched, the more whole she felt. The closer they were, the less sense the world made. When she closed her eyes she saw nothing but bright, beautiful nonsense. She felt what she saw, all across her body, melting into her soul. He touched her, he whispered on her forehead, he shared with her his fever.
He was so broken when they first began, and he was slowly finding the way the pieces fit back together. It was the most beautiful thing in the world to watch him struggle, slow and agonizing, but she had given him her hand when he had needed it...
It all happens too fast.
She'd thought it would be a powerful, terrifying moment when she saw the "army" charging at her and her family. But instead she feels completely numb, as if she is a part of some digital game and not real life.
With every body she beats to the ground, the strange feeling intensifies.
She can see him every so often, just a flash of his face or the side of his arm as he swings it to break his enemy. She must strain to see him through her own pain, but still her eyes try to find him.
Her body seems drawn to him – in whichever direction he is, some mysterious stream of gravity pulls her toward him. She cannot fight it, so she lets herself flow along with it, using its power to her advantage. She can tell when he is moving, and when he still; when he is hurting and when he gets back up on his feet again. He is not as quick as his sons are, but he has instincts that they do not – the primal instincts of a father.
And she now has the instincts of a mother.
This insane, maternal fire fills her from head to toe. She feels loose, yet tense – bound tight as a wire, yet agile and graceful as a feline. She is ready to pounce on anything that moves, her eyes feel sharp and wide, like she can see for miles. Her senses respond to every iota of stimuli around her – the scent of the trees, the sound of a beetle crawling over bark, the wind's subtle change in direction. They are all beasts in the wilderness, a savage mess of rage – but this only terrifies her if she stops to think.
It's better not to think out here.
Instead she looks inside of herself, to that deep place within that relies on nothing but instinct alone.
She can feel her heart inside of her chest, though it has been dormant for nearly a century; she can feel its solid weight beneath her breast. It is heavier than she remembers. If she pays close enough attention she can feel it knocking against her lungs as she runs.
It makes her feel stronger.
She remembers the day Edward first called her his mother.
It was on the very day she and Carlisle had been married, a mere hour before they would consummate their love for the very first time.
Edward had taken her outside, somewhere where they could have a moment alone before he left for the night. It had all been so unbearably bittersweet, with the fragile state of her emotions that evening, his confession had only made it worse.
"I want you to know that I don't need a mother. I never have," he'd said, his handsome young face glistening in the blazing orange light of the sunset beyond. "But that doesn't mean I don't want a mother."
A gasp had fallen from her lips when she realized what he was saying.
"I want you to be my mother."
It seems like it was only yesterday that Edward had told her these things, yet she feels as if she has been his mother forever. She thinks of where he is today, how far he has come to finally find love only to have it threatened with every step he takes. Bella is a walking risk for all of them, yet she is the only thing keeping Edward tied to the world.
That is why they must fight to save her.
In the end, this is also a fight to save their family.
For without Bella, Edward would not exist.
She finds herself surrounded by a barrier of vicious vampires, their teeth glinting and eyes wild with unprecedented hatred. The unfamiliar scent of their venom is sickening and makes her skin crawl. For a second she feels the threat – the initial, claustrophobic burst of fear she used to let consume her to the point of breaking down. Years ago she would have fled, or surrendered, or called out for help. But now she knows that she has what it takes to defeat numbers greater than herself.
She raises her arm and strikes.
Killing is too easy for their kind. It is the aftereffect that frightens her most.
Her passion helps her to override the guilt. She can only imagine what her husband must feel when he sees those empty pairs of eyes staring up at him...
But when she looks to him at last, she sees that he is fighting just as fiercely, appearing just as merciless. The sight of him so filled with rage sends a chill to her heart. This is not the man she knows him to be, but it is the man he must become for this brief lot of time.
He takes well to the role.
Three victims have fallen to her feet; she steps on them as she flees the scene. They will become part of the ground one day, melting into the earth and joining that hidden circle of life. This comforts her somewhat.
She hears the same loud, sickening crack each time one of them is beheaded. That harsh porcelain firework bursts out of each one's neck as they snap off, one by one.
She is running through them and they just seem to be growing exponentially in number, pouring out by the hundreds from some unseen source. It's as if a warped dimension has opened in the middle of the field, releasing them fifty at a time. There is not one minute to let her guard down, not one split second to take a healing breath and regain her strength. She must instead become faster, work harder, be stronger than she was before with every step she takes.
Swift becomes methodical, and methodical becomes robotic.
Under her feet the ground pushes back, urging her to go faster.
She feels that she is being chased somehow, but she cannot stop to look over her shoulder and see who it is.
Then she feels the hand on her arm – more like a claw. Long fingernails dig into her impenetrable flesh, threatening to puncture her veins.
She whips around and assumes a stance of defense, remembering Jasper's words.
It hardly helps.
A man has hooked his arm around her neck, the pressure nearly unbearable. She tries to breathe in but chokes on nothing, her hands grappling desperately at the newborn's granite muscles. She can feel the fibers of her very flesh crackling underneath her skin, ready to split. The world tips on its side through her eyes, dim and drunken, burning the edges of her consciousness...
Just before her vision dips into ebony, another rough hand tears the man's arm away from her neck.
Twice before she had been saved by Emmett. She assumes it is her son again who has come to her rescue. But this time it is her husband who has saved her.
All she needs to see is his pale blond hair, striking against the black of his clothes. He is the only one out here who stands out so much, and she wants to believe it is not only because she is biased. His compassion seems to envelop him like a protective aura, making him glow like a brilliant beacon of light. His face may be fierce – unlike she has ever seen it before – but there is something still inherently gentle in his eyes. They are glittering a violent black as he tears her attacker away, throwing the newborn on the ground and shattering its face with the sole of his shoe.
After this, they never part.
She had come too close to death without him by her side. He had felt too empty and distracted without her near.
So now they fight together.
The attacks do not seem as threatening as they did before.
A woman with long black hair strikes at Esme's face. Jasper's words make perfect sense now, as she mimics the graceful ease of her daughters and sons, jerking swiftly out of the way. The woman grows angry in her confusion, tossing a blow in the direction of Esme's neck. But Esme is ready this time.
Knowing her husband is just feet away, her confidence is irrepressible. She locks the struggling newborn in her arms, bending her backward so that half her body is suspended above the ground. In all but an instant she raises her eyes to her husband, and his arm slices through the woman's neck, breaking her head like a hollow bowl of ceramic.
They cannot rest for one moment's time, but they do not need to. They can feed off of one another's energy as they run, and they will never run out of strength.
Their strength renews itself, like venom healing wounds. Every time they think they have lost a fight, they come out stronger than before. There are times when Carlisle needs saving; Esme rescues him. There are times when both of them need saving; one of their children will inevitably come and save them both. They seem to be everywhere at once, somehow destroying their enemies though the numbers are greatly off-balance.
Esme supposes her family has been blessed with a miracle.
She has conviction, now.
Perhaps her husband had been right to trust his heart.