ENTRY IN THE VAMPSLASH CONTEST

1st place and Hosts' Choice

Title: "In Between"
Author: avioleta
Genre: AU
Pairing: Edward/Carlisle
Rating: M
Word Count: 7600
Summary: In 1927, Edward leaves.

Read the other entries on the VampSlash Contest C2: .net/community/The_VampSlash_Contest/90655/

a/n: The dates, crimes, and historical references are accurate. I've simply implied the possibility of alternative circumstances. Please see end of text for additional notes.

1.

Watching Edward leave was surprisingly easy to do.

Carlisle was not entirely sure what he expected. Raised voices. Childish petulance. Flat out resistance. Certainly some sort of scene.

He had not expected Edward's defeated sigh or look of stony resignation.

"You've been thinking about it for some time," the boy said without looking at him. "I'd begun wondering if you'd ever work up the nerve to tell me."

Carlisle crushed a peanut between his fingers; flakes of shell scattered on the ground.

"Does Esme know?"

"Know?"

"That you intend to marry her." Wind whipped through the stadium, catching Edward's scarf. It was cold for April.

"No, I…"

Edward laughed, an unpleasant sound. "Of course not." He leaned forward, elbows resting on his knees. "That wouldn't do at all. Not while I'm still around, at least."

The crowd cheered; Edward's eyes remained fixed on the field, as the next batter came up to the plate.

"Edward…"

"It's all right Carlisle. We had an understanding."

And they had, of course. Carlisle's top priority had always been blending in. And blending in meant playing a part, finding a mate, settling down. It certainly did not mean perpetuating a homosexual affair with a boy who, by all intents and purposes, was better suited to the role of a son. Or, at least, a younger brother. He was seventeen for Christ's sake.

"I'm twenty-six."

"By that logic, I'm two hundred and eighty-seven. Perhaps great, great, great-grandfather is more appropriate."

"Don't be obscene."

The crack of a bat elicited another roar of applause. Carlisle watched as the man slid into second base.

"Our best player." Edward's tone was bitter. "And even he doesn't believe we stand a chance against Pittsburgh."

"Pardon?" Carlisle was used to the boy's non-sequiturs, but he still had trouble following his train of thought at times.

"Wilson." Edward nodded to the field, his gaze on the player now brushing dirt off his uniform. "Have you slept with her?"

"I…" Carlisle took a deep breath. "Yes."

"Figured as much." The boy twisted the end of his scarf, nubby gray wool twined between pale fingers.

At Carlisle's horrified expression he laughed again, his lovely mouth curving cruelly. "Don't worry. She doesn't think about you. Not around me, at least."

Edward crossed his legs, resting an ankle on his knee. A habit now, more than anything else. Carlisle was annoyed at his cool composure.

"You weren't her first, you know." The not like me went without saying.

This time, the laugh was harsh. "No. Not like me. Your special project. Your innocent, blushing—"

"Edward, stop. She had a husband. She lost her child." She's nothing like you.

"Then why?" For the first time, the boy looked at him. His usually honey warm eyes were cold.

"She's…I…" Carlisle stumbled over the words. "What you and I have, it's not—"

Edward narrowed his eyes viciously.

"You'll find someone. Someone who is right for you."

"You're right for me."

The older man stared straight ahead. "We can never be right, Edward. Not together." It's wrong. It's sinful. It's unnatural.

"Our entire existence is unnatural, Carlisle."

He sighed, scrubbed a hand across his face. "Perhaps. But we do the best we can."

"I won't see you tonight." It was a statement, not a question.

"No." I want to. "We can't. Not anymore."

"Right." The boy stood, shoving his hands in his coat pockets. "Well then, I guess this is goodbye."

Carlisle sighed and told himself it was for the best. The fans booed as the Cardinals took the field. He pretended he wasn't disappointed when Edward didn't look back (i).

2.

Chicago Tribune: 'South Side Gangster Slain.' Jun 10 1927. While checking up on Frankie Yale's bootlegging operations in NY, purported Capone gunman James 'Filesy' DeAmato was killed in Manhattan. Sources say both Yale and DeAmato have been linked to Capone's notorious Chicago outfit. Police refused to comment (ii).

"Have you spoken with him?" Esme sat on the sofa, bare feet tucked beneath her.

"No."

It had been three months. Carlisle wasn't sure if he'd expected to hear from Edward, but it hurt to know that he had severed all contact.

Of course, he also knew he had no right to feel that way. After all, he'd ended things, encouraged him to walk away.

Pale sunlight filtered through leaded panes of glass. He stared out the bay window. The street was still quiet at that hour. They would stay home that day; Carlisle wasn't due at the hospital until nightfall.

"You never should have let him leave." Esme's voice was sad.

Carlisle paced the length of the room and refused to look at her. "He needed to find his own way."

She stood. "You miss him."

"Of course I do."

Esme trailed a fingertip between his shoulder blades. He shuddered at the light touch. She didn't know the extent of their…relationship, but she knew they'd been close. More so, than a traditional bond between a vampire and his creator involved.

"Come." She took his hand in hers and led him to her bedroom.

He followed, looking down at the shadows playing across the wood floor.

Sex with Esme was…comfortable.

It was never rushed or impulsive.

It was nothing like it was with Edward, who would push him up against the wall, fingers fumbling eagerly with his zip when Carlisle was already late for work.

Esme always made sure the lights were off – even though their vision was perfect in the dark. She was shy, uncomfortable. Which perhaps, Carlisle decided, was the way sex should be.

Not like it had been with Edward, who would leave marks on his thighs and scratches down his back. Who would twist his fingers in his hair and bite at his jaw so hard that it hurt.

No. Esme was nothing like Edward.

And afterward, as they lay together, her hand on his hip, his cupping her breast, he believed he was, in all likelihood, happy.

3.

Detroit Free Press: 'Murder of Police Officer.' Jan 1928 (AP). Detroit Police Officer Vivien Welch was killed after purportedly attempting to extort money from a Purple Gang operation. Eyewitnesses relate that after Welch had been shot, a gunman stood over him and fired multiple rounds into his body. The killers then ran him over with a car. Police have yet to comment on potential suspects, but the Purple Gang (AKA the Sugarhouse Gang) is under continued investigation. Detroit officer Vivien Welch had been suspected of shaking down speakeasies and bootleggers throughout the city (iii).

Eight months after Edward left, Carlisle asked Esme to marry him, and his entire world split apart at the seams.

They were in bed, but Esme was no longer naked. She always pulled her robe on quickly, citing her discomfort at being exposed.

He brushed the hair back from her face, and she sighed, a soft hint of sound. He slid a finger over her cheek, swept the pad of his thumb across her lip.

He realized, when he looked at her now, he no longer saw Edward's eyes in hers, no longer imagined an unruly shock of bronze hair in place of her soft curls.

He took a deep breath. "I think we should marry."

Esme sat up, clutching her robe tighter to her chest. "I'm sorry?"

"We should marry," he repeated. "I'd like very much for you to be my wife."

"Oh Carlisle," she brought a hand to his cheek. Her touch was gentle as always. "I'm not certain I can."

He frowned. "I don't understand."

Esme bit her lip, a habit left over from her human life. Carlisle sat very still.

"It's just…" her hands twisted in the sash at her waist. "I was married once, you know."

"Yes."

"And I'm not sure I can do it again."

"But we're meant to be together."

Her smile was sad. "Are we?"

Carlisle stood, reaching for his trousers. It suddenly seemed inappropriate to be naked. "Of course we are. I found you."

"I know. And I am forever thankful for that. You've given me a second chance at a happy life. One I didn't have before."

Carlisle stared out the window; rain slid down stark panes of glass, blurring his vision.

"Carlisle, my marriage before was…"

Abusive, horrifying, cruel.

He didn't need her to finish the thought. He knew all too well how she'd suffered.

"Ours will be nothing like that." He hated the desperate edge to his voice. "I will love you, cherish you, always."

"I know."

"But…?"

"But I can't."

She slipped out of bed, reached out to touch his shoulder, but dropped her hand again when he flinched.

"We could always pretend. If you prefer the world think us married."

"No."

"You found Edward too, you know. Her tone hinted at something he couldn't place. "You found him first."

4.

The Newark Ledger: 'Slain in Bootleg Feud, Body of Man Killed Found in Camden (N.J.) Park.' Camden N.J., Mar 24 1928 (AP) – the body of Gaeto Agodia, 30 years old, was found today in Forest Hill Park. The police expressed the belief that he had been slain as the result of a bootleg gang feud (iv).

Carlisle had taken to spending time in Edward's room.

The boy had cleared the closet out, but the room still smelled like him. Carlisle refused to acknowledge how much he missed that. How much he missed Edward's smell, his taste, his touch…

The bookshelf was still overstuffed with well-worn first editions: Virginia Woolf, Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, Upton Sinclaire. He slid his fingertips along their spines, imagining Edward's hands there.

Journals, now a bit dusty, were stacked on the corner of his desk. Piles of old newspapers were strewn across the floor, their pages yellow and wrinkled.

Carlisle couldn't help but wonder where the boy might be, if he still read everyday.

A battered record player sat in the corner on the floor. Edward had bought it second-hand. Carlisle wanted to purchase him the newest model, but Edward refused with a laugh.

He could still picture how the boy's mouth curved when he smiled.

Carlisle fingered an album, hastily discarded on the threadbare rug. Singin' the Blues. Edward had listened to the performance for hours on end. He slipped the disk out of the battered paper sleeve before fitting it onto the player.

The sounds of Eddie Lang's jazz guitar echoed in the still room before Trumbauer's saxophone broke in, the sound wavering only once when the needle caught on a worn vinyl grove.

Carlisle sat down, back sliding against the wall. He buried his face in his hands but didn't cry. He couldn't (v).

5.

Chicago Tribune: 'Booze Feud Continues: Two Alleged Members of South Side Gang Found Slain.' Jan 8 1929 (AP). Sources say Bugs Moran ordered the death of Antonio Lombardo and Pasqualino 'Patsy' Lolordo. Both men were allegedly personal friends of Capone, notorious South Side gangster, as well as the head of Unione Siciliana, the base of Capone's power. Police have refused to comment (vi).

It was time to move.

While Carlisle regretted having to start over again, he realized it was for the best. A change would do them both good. And they'd remained in Chicago for too long already.

In the end, though, Esme was the one who had to convince him to leave.

"He'll find us," she assured. "When he's ready."

Carlisle had to believe she was right.

For some reason, they settled on Rochester.

They found a house on Lakeview Avenue. Esme thought the Queen Anne style was lovely, and Carlisle was pleased that it had a third bedroom. He unpacked Edward's things before he did his own.

He took a research position at Rochester General while Esme contented herself with decorating their new home. Before long, they settled into a comfortable routine.

In February, Carlisle purchased his first car, and he thought of Edward.

The boy loved to run. He wondered how he would feel about driving fast. Carlisle imagined that he would enjoy the experience.

Esme humored him, though it was clear the automobile made her uncomfortable. Her fingers would clench the dash so hard they'd leave marks. And more than once, he caught he closing her eyes, holding her breath.

"We're perfectly safe," he teased one afternoon, as they skirted the edge of Lake Ontario.

Her palm was pressed to the window; sunlight glinted off her shoulder, but she wore gloves. Tan, elbow-length calfskin. She'd covered her dark hair with a Hermes scarf; her eyes were hidden by enormous sunglasses.

"It would take a great deal more than metal and steel to cause you injury."

"I know that…in theory." She eyed the gearshift skeptically. "But it still seems rather…unnatural. Wouldn't you say?"

He laughed. "Says the woman who could run alongside as easily."

Carlisle wondered at how easily they'd fallen into the role of brother and sister. It was fitting, of course; their features were so similar. They hadn't slept together since that day in January, exactly a year before.

He knew they wouldn't again.

They'd lived in Rochester for just over a month when the letter arrived.

Carlisle's hands shook as he undid the seal.

Five simple words were scrawled across a crumpled sheet of ruled paper in the boy's unmistakable hand: I want to see you.

There was an address.

Carlisle left immediately.

6.

New York Times, Feb 15 1929: 'Seven Chicago Gangsters Slain. Moran's Staff Wiped Out. Liquor Gang Head 'Missing' – Police Chief, Roused by 'Challenge,' Declares War. Chicago, Feb 14. Seven members of the George (Bugs) Moran—Dean O'Banion North Side Gang are dead in the most cold-blooded gang massacre in the history of this city's underworld. The seven gang warriors were trapped in a beer-distributors' rendezvous at 122 North Clark Street and executed. The killings have stunned both the citizens of Chicago and the Police Department (vii).

The Green Mill Cocktail Lounge was located in Uptown, Chicago.

It wasn't a place Carlisle would have been comfortable going to in his human life. But he hadn't been human for a very long time.

Music spilled out onto the street as he pushed the door open. The light inside was low and tinged with a red that steeped everything in crimson. Smoke hung heavy in the air, clung to everything, and bathed the room in a certain ambiguity, blurring the lines, obscuring his vision. Still, he spotted Edward immediately.

He was seated at a table in the corner, half-hidden in shadows. He didn't look up when Carlisle walked in, but he knew the boy had to realize he was there.

He watched him for several minutes. Edward sat, staring at the wall across from him. Even with Carlisle's flawless memory, he appeared more beautiful, more breathtaking than he remembered.

He tried to focus on his appearance, to keep his thoughts from overwhelming (himself or the boy, though, he wasn't sure). And, it was nice to simply…look.

Edward was still thin.

The influenza had taken pounds off his already slender frame, and there was only so much the venom could do. He'd always be boyish, lanky, perfect, perfect.

Carlisle tried to stop himself, but it was too late. The boy had heard, and he saw the almost imperceptible stiffening of shoulders, the quirk of his jaw.

He crossed the room slowly, keeping his thoughts calm, controlled.

I've missed you. I want you. I'm nothing without you.

Still, Edward didn't look up.

Carlisle stopped in front of the table. Pale hands cradled a glass; the amber liquid cast a gold reflection against the curve of his palm.

"You're not…"

"Don't be absurd," he cut him off. "Of course not."

Carlisle could make out the hint of a smile.

Soft pink lips.

At that, his mouth curved a bit more.

"But people come here to drink. It would be suspicious not to. In fact," he signaled for a waitress.

She appeared within moments. Her dark hair was piled on top of her head; her skirt was far too short, lips far too red. "Another one, love?" She smiled appreciatively at Edward.

"No. Not quite, Diane. But for my friend."

"Of course. What's your pleasure, babe?"

"I, um…" Carlisle faltered

"Wine. Red."

"Certainly." She turned and was gone, hips shaking appealingly.

Edward turned his glass; ice clinked against cut crystal.

The girl returned, set a glass down in front of Carlisle. Red black liquid sloshed over the side; he caught a drop with his fingertip and inspected it curiously.

"I thought you'd appreciate the irony," the boy offered, still staring into his own glass. "As I said, people come here to drink." He nodded toward a dark corner and snorted. "Among other things…"

Carlisle glanced that direction. He could just make out two figures intertwined. An image flashed across his mind. Pale skin. Edward's mouth against his neck, thighs spread beneath his hips.

"Yes. Other things." At that, the boy finally looked up, his smile wicked.

But Carlisle wasn't looking at his lips.

He was looking at his eyes.

Even in the dim light of the bar, they were a vivid, a startling crimson.

His breath caught.

Edward laughed, a self-deprecating sound. "Yes. They're rather hard to miss." He looked away, shadows playing across high cheekbones. "But I find," he looked back, red eyes flashing, "that people tend to ignore what they can't understand."

"You've…"

"Obviously." Edward looked down again, traced a thumb along the rim of his glass. After a too-long moment he looked up again. "They deserve it, Carlisle. They always deserve it."

Carlisle closed his eyes. His hands were shaking.

"Never would have thought it of me, hmm?" The boy's voice was cold, dispassionate.

No remorse…

"No. No remorse, Carlisle. No regret or guilt for what I've done." He looked up, bloodied eyes dark. "Does that disturb you? This child of thine?"

How could you…how can you?

"I know, right?" And Edward laughed again. He watched Carlisle steadily; his expression was cool, calculating. "You wanted me to leave, Carlisle."

Carlisle said nothing. His fingers clutched at the wine glass.

"This is what you wanted, isn't it? What else did you expect?"

Not this…

This time, his laugh was harsh. "You wanted me to find my own way, employ my…particular gifts." He spun his glass between his palms, watching the liquid slosh up the sides. "Perhaps I did. Perhaps this is the way things are supposed to be."

Carlisle shook his head.

Edward shrugged. "You might even say I'm doing good."

No… But he didn't have the chance to respond, to ask what he could possibly mean, because a hush fell over the room.

Even the band stopped playing

Carlisle looked over his shoulder toward the door.

He recognized the man immediately; after all, the same grainy photograph had appeared in countless newspapers. A waitress appeared at the man's side and held out a drink. He took it with a nod.

Then the crowd seemed to hold a collective breath, as Scarface himself walked toward the back of the bar and took a seat in a corner booth.

Carlisle turned back toward Edward as the band began to play again. Absently, he noted the subdued sounds of "Rhapsody in Blue."

The boy's eyes were narrowed, predatory

Carlisle suddenly felt very cold.

"He's too well protected," Edward said, his voice measured and low. "Always too well protected." He held his glass to his lips, although of course he did not drink. "I could get to him, you know. But there'd be witnesses. And they don't all deserve to die."

"Edward…" Carlisle reached out tentatively to brush his fingertip along the boy's wrist. He waited for him to flinch, to pull away, but instead he merely looked down at their hands curiously.

Carlisle's thumb circled his wrist bone. He took a steadying breath, feeling the smoothness of Edward's skin under his own.

What have you done? I've missed this. Come home…

"You never married." He said suddenly.

"I… No."

Edward nodded thoughtfully. "I watched for the wedding announcement." He was still looking down.

Carlisle turned his hand over, traced the pattern of delicate blue veins under nearly translucent skin.

Edward shivered. "But I finally realized that you hadn't gone through with it. That she must have said no."

Carlisle tensed, his hand stilling, but Edward didn't pull away. Instead, he curled his fingers around Carlisle's, twining them together. His thumb slid against a knuckle.

"She loved you, you know." The boy's voice was soft, almost a whisper. "She has always loved you."

He nodded absently, his thoughts elsewhere. He didn't want to talk about Esme. In that moment, nothing mattered except Edward's touch. The feel of their hands laced together. The press of skin against skin once more. Edward. My Edward…

He took a deep breath, savoring the smell of the boy in his mouth and in his throat and in his lungs.

The slide of Edward's fingers stopped. Carlisle looked up.

Edward tilted his head to one side, pressed pink lips together. "Oh. Oh yeah. Okay." He stood. "Come with me." Still clasping Carlisle's hand, he led him between tiny cocktail tables and to the door.

The boy's dark jacket was unbuttoned, his tie loosened. His trousers were horribly rumpled, almost as if he'd slept in them. Though, of course, that was absurd. And yet, despite his rather unkempt appearance, practically every person in the bar turned a head as he walked by.

Carlisle couldn't help but feel annoyed at that.

The night was cold and wet. Bitter air stung Carlisle's cheeks, whipped through the boy's unruly hair.

"You have no right to be jealous," Edward murmured but didn't turn around. Carlisle could hear the trace of amusement in his voice.

He followed the boy down a narrow deserted alleyway that Carlisle was certain had witnessed its share of morally repugnant and criminal acts, but he said nothing. He didn't have to.

It had been raining for days; the puddles against the brick walls were fetid and black.

Edward stopped suddenly, his head snapping up, unnatural eyes fixed on Carlisle's; he looked almost wild, untamed.

Carlisle took a step toward him, moving slowly, as if afraid to startle him. Afraid he'd run. Afraid to lose him again.

"I won't run." Edward cocked his head, a curious expression on his lovely dangerous face. "Not yet, at least."

He reached out a hand, hesitantly, brushed a fingertip across the boy's cheek, cupped his face. Don't go. Stay with me.

Edward leaned into the touch, eyes closing. It was a familiar gesture. And, for just a moment, Carlisle could almost forget…

"Yes," Edward said, his voice barely a whisper. "We can forget for a little while."

When he pushed him against the wall, Carlisle gasped, surprised by his strength.

He'd always been strong, of course. But not like this. Not…

"Yes," Edward said darkly, "it would seem the diet has other unforeseen benefits."

"Edward…" His voice broke, and he looked down. The alley smelled of piss and garbage and sweat, but all that mattered was Edward, and the press of his body against his.

Carlisle was shaking.

And then hands were on his arms, holding him still, fingers clenching hard enough to bruise.

It shouldn't be like this…

"No," Edward breathed out, a soft huff of air against Carlisle's cheek. "Perhaps not."

And he kissed him. Edward's lips were soft and dry, as they moved against his.

Carlisle told himself he didn't want to think, only wanted to feel. He knew he'd wanted to feel nothing but this for months and months, wanted to feel Edward's mouth against his again. And he knew it would be impossible to deny him anything.

"That's right," he encouraged. "You want me. Don't think. Not now."

Carlisle kissed him back, hands catching Edward's face. His thumbs smoothed over cheekbones, slipped along his jaw. He pushed against Edward, forcing him to stumble back, teeth scraping Carlisle's bottom lip, until his shoulders hit the opposite wall, Carlisle's body pressed flush against his.

His fingers were at Edward's collar, tugging his shirt open, exposing the pale column of his neck. He dragged his mouth along the boy's throat, and Edward groaned.

Carlisle had missed that. The sounds he made, the taste of his skin. The taste of Edward. He pushed his hips forward, and Edward swore, head falling back.

"Yes," the boy breathed, rocking against him. He was getting hard with each press of Carlisle's hips. "Like that, like we used to be." Edward's fingers dug into his shoulders, slid down his back to clutch at his hips.

"Don't stop," he moaned, head thudding against the wall.

I should. I won't. I couldn't…

His tongue licked along Edward's collarbone; the boy yanked at Carlisle's shirt, tugging it from his trousers.

"I'm not a boy, you know. Can't remember when I was."

Shush.

Carlisle caught his mouth with his again. The kisses were almost vicious. He didn't care.

Carlisle's hands found their way between them to pull at Edward's zip, to push at the cotton of his pants, to curl his fingers around his cock.

"Oh…oh God," he gasped against Carlisle's jaw, biting at the skin there far too hard. Carlisle hissed at the burn of venom, but Edward's tongue soothed the sting.

He pushed the boy's slacks down, over his hips, as Edward writhed against him. Pale fingers pulled at Carlisle's shirt. Buttons popped off, landed in the grime and puddles at their feet.

His fingers fumbled with his own trouser buttons, and he pushed the boy back against the wall, leaned in to kiss him once more. He thought he heard the crack of bricks behind them.

The boy laughed, breath cool against rain damp skin. "Yes. Sometimes rough is okay. Now touch me."

Carlisle nudged Edward's thighs apart, pushing his hips against the boy's shallow thrusts. His mouth moved against Edward's desperately, tongue sliding against lips and teeth; Edward growled into the kiss, fingers clutching at Carlisle's shoulders.

It wouldn't take long.

"No. Not long," the boy gasped, still writhing against him as Carlisle curled his fingers around both their cocks. "Yes, there. Right there." And then Edward stilled, crying out softly as he came.

He slumped back, chest heaving. His white shirt was rucked up beneath his arms, his jacket bunched against the wall. Both would be un-wearable.

Carlisle smeared the boy's come across his skin, closing his eyes, jerking his hand quickly.

"No," Edward whispered against his ear. "Open your eyes. Look at me."

Carlisle did, his eyes focusing on Edward's red ones, now glassy and unfocused.

"I like watching you come," the boy breathed. "Watching your face." His lips brushed against Carlisle's jaw, kissing lightly. "That was always my favorite part." He pressed his mouth to his throat and sucked, teeth scraping skin. "When you were on top of me, inside of me." He looked up again, lips parted slightly.

Carlisle came with a groan, his entire body shaking, his palm pressed flat against the wall next to the boy's head.

They stood together for several moments. A car drove by, bathing the alley in yellow light; Carlisle heard the splash of tires against the pavement.

He leaned in to kiss Edward again, but the boy turned his face. Carlisle's lips met his cheek.

Oh.

He stepped back, pulling his trousers together. "Edward…"

The boy wouldn't look at him.

Oh.

Anger and grief and sadness rolled through him. He fastened the few remaining buttons on his shirt. His hands shook.

Edward pulled his pants and slacks up over his hips; pale fingers tugged at the zip. Finally he looked up at Carlisle.

Come home.

Edward's eyes were dark and shadowed.

Carlisle had no idea what he was thinking; he wasn't sure he ever would.

And then the boy was gone.

Carlisle returned to Rochester alone (viii).

7.

Detroit Free Press: 'Notorious Purple Gangster found Slain.' Oct 10 1929 (AP). The body of Ziggy Selbin, 22, was found early Wednesday morning. Police expressed the belief that his death was the result of increasing inter-gang violence but could not comment further. Selbin, considered a loose cannon in The Purple Gang, was suspected in the Jan 1928 murder of Detroit Police Officer Vivien Welch, but no charges were ever made (viii).

"I think I might like to teach again," Esme remarked, one afternoon.

They were in the back garden. Carlisle sat with the newspaper spread across his lap; Esme was pruning the rose bushes once more before the first freeze.

He folded the paper and looked up. Esme had her hands on her hips, her back turned. She glanced over her shoulder. "I like children, you know."

"Yes." He watched her for a few minutes, her movements were graceful and delicate as she clipped at the leaves and stems.

"Have you spoken to him?" she asked. There was no need to specify whom she referred to.

Carlisle closed his eyes, took a deep breath. "No."

She stood, brushing dirt from her apron. "Perhaps you should go back to Chicago."

"I'm not sure he's there anymore."

She pursed her lips, her expression thoughtful, sad. "He'll come home."

"I hope so."

She watched him for several moments, her lovely face marred by concern. "I think I should hunt," she said finally.

Carlisle nodded. "That would probably be wise."

Esme turned back to her roses. "Shall we have pink or white tonight?"

"White."

8.

Carlisle slid his thumb along the rim of a glass; it hummed pleasantly. His eyes were fixed on the centerpiece. Fresh cut white roses spilled from a delicate vase.

"Carlisle! Don't touch the crystal," Esme called from the kitchen. "You'll leave smudges."

He pulled his hand away obediently and filled the other goblets with water.

Esme emerged, wiping her hands on a dishtowel. "I do miss that," she said. "I always did love to cook."

Carlisle nodded, but his expression must have revealed his skepticism because she laughed and threw the towel in his direction. He caught it deftly. The smells wafting from the kitchen, while not entirely unpleasant, were interesting to say the least.

A buzzer sounded.

"Oh. I must check on the roast." She turned, leaving him standing in the dining room.

The table was set with Esme's china. It had been her mother's. His fingertips brushed against a dinner plate. Delicate bone china, so white it was nearly translucent with a sweeping design of blue and gold arabesques.

'Mother got it in France, you know,' Esme had informed him one afternoon as she set the table.

Carlisle hadn't understood the point, and he told her so.

She'd only laughed. "Of course we have to, love. What would we do should someone stop by?"

Now, perhaps, he understood what she meant.

There was a knock at the door. Carlisle took a deep breath and went to answer it.

The hospital had a new Chief of Staff, Carlisle's immediate boss. It had been Esme's idea to have him and his wife over to dinner.

From their guests' reactions, Esme's culinary skills were clearly still satisfactory. Carlisle pushed vegetables around on his plate, only a bit repulsed by the liquid she'd doused them in. Dr. Wilkes and his wife Margot, however, appeared not to mind.

Esme held her water glass to her lips. Carlisle was impressed with the naturalness of her actions.

"This dressing is delightful, dear," the woman commented. "You must tell me, what did you use?'

Esme laughed becomingly, touching her napkin to the corner of her mouth. "It's so simple, really. You'd never imagine. Just oil, vinegar, and a touch of lemon juice."

Margot Wilkes smiled, as if privy to some great secret. "Oh how lovely."

Carlisle scraped his fork across his plate.

Margot's husband drained his wine glass. Carlisle refilled it quickly.

The roast seemed to be a success. Carlisle spent most of his time pushing his mashed potatoes under his dinner roll. Esme chatted amicably with their guests.

"So Esme," Dr. Wilkes said once she'd cleared their dinner plates. "How long did you say you and Carlisle have been married?"

Carlisle tensed, a reaction so slight it was imperceptible to everyone but Esme. She stilled for a moment, fingering her coffee cup absently. "Oh. I thought we'd told you."

"Told me what, dear?"

"We're not married. Carlisle is my brother."

Both Dr. and Margot Wilkes looked up, surprised.

"Yes. You see," Esme continued. "I lost my husband a few years back, and Carlisle absolutely insisted that I move in with him." She paused, stirring her coffee. The teaspoon clinked against the sides. "He hates for me to live alone."

"Oh we're so sorry to hear that, dear," Margot offered, eyes bright. "But how wonderful to have such a protective and considerate brother."

Carlisle looked down, stirring his own coffee. It was muddy and tepid and smelled quite foul. He couldn't imagine why anyone would ingest the liquid voluntarily.

Margot smiled at him endearingly. "Esme, love, do you have any children?"

Her face clouded for a brief moment, but then she smoothed her expression expertly. "No. I don't."

"Well," Dr. Wilkes said, leaning back in his chair. "There's still time. You're young."

Esme's eyes found Carlisle's briefly, and she stood. "Yes. Now let me see about dessert."

9.

TIME Magazine, Mar 24 1930: 'National Affairs, a Coming out Party." No desperado of the old school is "Scarface Al," plundering or murdering for the savage joy of crime. He is, in his own phrase, "a business man" who wears clean linen, rides in a Lincoln car, leaves acts of violence to his hirelings. He has an eleven-year-old son noted for his gentlemanly manners… (x).

On a Tuesday, Edward came home.

Carlisle was in his study perusing a rather dull medical journal; Esme was in the parlor when the bell rang.

He heard her answer the door, and he heard her sharp intake of breath. He was at her side in an instant.

"Edward."

Esme smiled and pulled him into a hug. "We're so glad you're home."

He kissed her cheek, but his gaze never left Carlisle's.

Esme stepped back, her eyes bright as she looked between Carlisle and the boy. Nether had moved. They both stood, stock still, facing one another.

"Well," she said after several moments. "I think I'd like to go for a drive. Let you two catch up."

They sat on the couch, Edward curled against Carlisle's side. He petted the boy's head, twined his fingers through unruly hair.

"Tax evasion. Can you believe it?" Edward laughed, the sound filled with ill-humored mirth. "They say they might finally get him for dodging his taxes."

"They will get him, Edward. That's all that matters."

He nodded.

Carlisle's hand slid down his arm, rubbed soothing circles in the small of his back.

They sat together silently for a long while, Carlisle content to simply hold him, touch him…

"I just can't do it anymore," Edward's voice was barely a whisper. "I can't escape it. This debt. So much human life…no matter how justified."

Carlisle pressed his mouth to the boy's hair, held him tighter.

"Sometimes, I felt like they were infecting me. There was so much evil Carlisle. So much depravity. And I could hear everything."

"Shush," he soothed, fingers sweeping across his cheek. "It's all right. Everything is finally all right. You're home."

10.

New York Times, Oct 18 1931: 'Capone Convicted, May Get 17 Years.' Jury Finds Him Guilty on Two Misdemeanor and Three Felony Counts. Tuesday Set for Hearing Defense Motion for New Trial, Before Sentence Is Passed. Verdict Puzzles Counsel, But Prosecutor Accepts It After Conference-"Not Guilty" on 18 Counts Pleases Gang Chief (xi).

Edward's clothes were in a crumpled pile on the floor when Carlisle came in. His eyes took in the dark wool of his trousers against wrinkled white linen, his cable knit sweater a charcoal swatch against the blue of the rug.

"Esme will hear."

"I know." The boy shrugged, slight shoulder rising and falling. "It's all right, though. She's always suspected there was…something between us. She wants us to be happy."

"I could hurt you." Carlisle still stood in the doorway, watching him. "I'm not sure if I'm ready for…" love commitment you "this."

"I know that too." The boy stretched out languidly, lean body sprawled across the bed with feigned nonchalance. "But you won't."

His skin was iridescent, beautiful, and pale, his limbs splayed against white cotton sheets.

Carlisle's perfect memory recalled a scene many years before when he'd presented himself in the same way. Only then, he could hear the wild thrum of his heart, beating too fast, belying his calm.

Edward smiled. "Please."

Carlisle was on the bed, leaning over him before he could stop himself. His palms slid down bare arms, his thumbs circled chalk white hipbones.

Edward licked pink lips and exhaled slowly; hands skimmed over his sides, fingertips tracing the ridges of his ribcage.

Beautiful perfect mine.

"Yes."

The boy's skin was soft and warm to Carlisle's touch; it was almost more than he could bear.

He twisted and moaned and moved beneath him, hips pressing up, neck arching against the pillow. Carlisle swept his tongue along his throat, bit at his jaw, and he took Edward's forearms in his hand, stretched them above his head.

The boy gasped, hips rocking faster, skin sliding against skin. Then he cocked his knees apart, forcing Carlisle to fall between.

He tensed, hyper aware of what they were about to do. But Edward's hips jerked up again, and he growled, tilting his head to press his mouth cool and wet against his neck.

You want this. Tell me you want this. Carlisle wasn't sure if he said the words out loud, but it didn't matter. He could feel the throb of want vibrating beneath the boy's skin, his own.

Tell me you want me.

Honey warm eyes regarded him calmly. "Not a boy. Haven't been a boy for quite some time." His cock slid damply against his stomach, as he arched his back, "and yes. Always. Only you."

He fucked him slowly at first, forcing himself to hold back when Edward parted his legs wider, lifted his hips against each thrust.

"Oh…Oh God…" His eyes were wide, unfocused, his breath came in shallow pants. "That's right…faster, please."

Carlisle closed his eyes, tightened his fingers around the boy not boy's wrists. Sometimes he wantednot to want him, not to need him. And he tried to tell himself it wasn't a sin. After all, he needed to protect him. Protect him and others. He couldn't let him leave again. Not when he knew what could happen.

Yes. It was for the best.

He was an excellent liar.

"Not a sin. Too good to be a sin." Edward canted his hips, tightened around him, drawing him in deeper. "And I'm not going anywhere," he assured, as legs wrapped around his thighs, a foot slid against the back of Carlisle's knee.

His back curved, thinly muscled chest arching upward, as he threw his head back and shut his eyes in concentration.

Yes… "Yes," and the word echoed in his thoughts again and again.

"Please," the boy repeated, fist clenched in white sheets. His mouth found Carlisle's throat again.

Carlisle hands were at his hips, holding him still, fingernails leaving pale crescents against the smooth expanse of his skin. Barely murmured words pressed against his throat. Yes. Want you. Mine, and Carlisle's hand slipped between them, fingers curling around his cock.

Edward's back bowed as he cried out, wetness pooling between them, smearing across clenching muscles with each snap of Carlisle's hips.

A hand smoothed down Carlisle's back; feet pressed into the mattress as he lifted his hips once more. "Come. Come for me, Carlisle…"

Fingers clutched at his back, left scratches down the line of his vertebrae.

"Let me watch you come."

A sudden upward jerk of hips, and Carlisle was gone, shuddering on top of him.

Edward smiled triumphantly and Carlisle laughed, pressing a kiss to his mouth, his temple, his jaw. "You're beautiful, you know," he whispered, rolling over, twining their fingers together.

"So are you."

They lay curled together afterward, the boy's head resting against Carlisle's chest, his leg hooked over Carlisle's hip. Carlisle smoothed his hand over Edward's shoulder, down his chest, enjoying the play of firm muscles under his palm.

The boy was so beautiful, so perfect, so young, so male…

Sinfully so.

I am going to Hell.

Edward snorted, lifting his face up to his.

"I'm thirty. And we both are."

He stretched slowly, sinuously, body sliding against him, for him. "But surely there's still some room for good."

Fin

Notes:

i. The Pittsburgh Pirates advanced to the World Series in 1927, only to be swept by the New York Yankees. The Cubbies finished fourth in their division, despite Hack Wilson's 30 home runs and 129 RBIs (Source: Baseball Almanac). Chicago's Wrigley Field, home to the Cubs since 1916, is the oldest ballpark in baseball. The upper deck was added in 1927, though I imagine Carlisle prefers to sit closer to the field (Wikipedia).

ii. An importer of Canadian whiskey, Frankie Yale supplied much of Al Capone's supply. Yale was hired to ensure that Capone's Chicago-bound trucks made it safely through NY. After a series of hijackings, however, Capone suspected he'd been betrayed. He sent DeAmato to investigate. DeAmato reported back that Yale was stealing his booze, but his cover was blown, and he was killed. (Source: Wikipedia)

iii. Though police had suspects in Vivien Welch's murder, no one was ever convicted. One of the more notorious of the all-Jewish mobs was Detroit's PurpleGang. Thegang dealt in bootlegging, gambling, extortion, drugs, and murder and developed a reputation for being more ruthless than Al Capone's mob in Chicago. So feared were they that Capone decided against expanding into Detroit in favor of a business accommodation with the Purples. The Purple Gang were estimated to have been responsible for 500 unsolved murders in the span of just five incredibly violent years, topping even Al Capone's body count. (Source: Robert A. Rockaway. "The Notorious Purple Gang: Detroit's All-Jewish Prohibition Era Mob." Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies 20.1. Fall 2001: 113-128)

iv. Source: Newark Ledger, 1920s archives.

v. "Frankie" Trumbauer's landmark 1927 recording of Singin' the Blues, with Bix Beiderbecke and Eddie Lange is regarded as one of the greatest jazz performances ever recorded. (Source: Wikipedia)

vi. Escalating violence between Capone's South Side Italian gang and Moran's North Side Irish gang led to the notorious Valentine's Day Massacre of 1929.

vii. Headline and article extract adapted from the New York Times, Feb 15 1929.

viii. Some Prohibition era Chicago speakeasies were less discreet than others. Music and alcohol flowed openly at the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge in Uptown, which had the support of Al Capone and was partly owned by gangster Jack "Machine Gun" McGurn. McGurn was suspected of being the primary gunman in the Valentine's Day Massacre, though he was never charged. Each night when Capone entered the bar, the band would stop whatever they were playing and perform Capone's favorite: "Rhapsody in Blue." Capone would then take his seat in the booth at the end of the bar, next to the side door so he could see anyone who entered. (Source: greenmilljazz (.) com and The Chicago Bar Project)

ix. Selbin was killed in October 1929, but none of my research indicated a connection with the Welch murder. Still, it seems quite plausible. (Source: Robert A. Rockaway. "The Notorious Purple Gang: Detroit's All-Jewish Prohibition Era Mob")

x. Article excerpt taken from the cover story of TIME Magazine's Mar 1930 edition. (Source: time (.) com)

xi. Headlines taken from The New York Times Archives.