Pear Tree

~000~

The pear tree is chiefly symbolic of strength, fortitude, and immortality.

~000~

It was a nice night. It was still overcast, but any night it wasn't raining in Washington State was a good night. Carlisle could see where the low clouds had been torn in sports and carried off by the wind, but above them was yet another thicker layer of cloud.

He stood on the roof of the hospital, having a cigarette. He got no pleasure from the nicotine, but it was a handy excuse to take a break from the chaos of the hospital beneath his feet. He loved his work; it gave him meaning and something to do with his long un-life, but that didn't mean that it didn't get to be a bit much towards the end of a long double shift.

The wind grew stronger than it had been in the morning, sending one heavy gray cloud after another on a straight line east. The clouds looked like silent travelers headed for the edge of the earth. It would storm soon. He could smell the electricity in the air.

Suddenly Carlisle became aware that someone else was there with him. He hadn't heard the door open, and was impressed by the stealth of his companion. Whoever it was, they noticed Carlisle at the same time he noticed them.

"Oh! I didn't know anyone was here. What were you doing up here by yourself?"

Carlisle flicked away his cigarette. He didn't want to have to bother with it just now. He shrugged, affecting a casual air. "Spacing out. Thinking about the old days. Humming."

"You're kinda weird."

It was a youth, or a teenager as he would be called in this time. Carlisle felt surprised. What was a youth doing on the roof of the hospital? This was a restricted section. Carlisle was only allowed up here because Bruce, their security guard, said it was alright as long as he didn't come up too often and always locked the door behind him.

"I'm not weird. People do it all the time."

"If you say so."

Instead of leaving, the youth paced over to the edge of the building and sat down with his legs hanging over the side. Carlisle could see that he'd put his arms on the railing and was now using them as a rest for his chin as he gazed out at the soggy landscape, what little of it was visible.

"How did you get up here?" He asked, approaching to lean against the railing a few feet from him. Up close, he could see that his hair was black, short, and straight. He had a small, slender face and wore black-rimmed glasses. He wore no rain coat. Carlisle did not remember seeing him before.

"Through the door yonder," he jerked his head at it, "Why do you ask?"

Harry looked at him. His eyes seemed too wide. Something about them made Carlisle remember the bleached light that had filled his room every morning before he awoke to the soreness in his chest during the time of his turning. There was a kind of unspeakable pain, the kind you weren't meant to survive, lurking inside of them. He wondered what sort of life Harry led, to have acquired eyes like that.

"Just curious."

And Carlisle was curious now. Who was this boy? He smelled strange, now that he allowed himself to notice. He normally ignored the higher capabilities of his nose as much as possible when at the hospital. The smell of decay and anti-bacteria spray more than out-weighed the temptation of blood as a temptation. This youth smelled like electricity, electricity and pine sap, and just a bit like blood. But beneath that there was something Carlisle had never smelled before. It smelled like the air after rain, like snow, like the very heart of a forest never touched by man.

"What's your name?"

"Harry."

"Really? That's an old-fashioned name, isn't it? I haven't met a Harry under 50 before."

Harry turned to him and smirked, "You ought to mind your talk instead of talking your mind."

Carlisle smiled back. He was glad that Harry was engaging with him a little more. Kids these days- none of them wanted to show any respect, or have a conversation with someone who wasn't their peer. It was a miracle to hear a 'hello'.

"I apologize. I can't point any fingers myself. My name is Carlisle," he held out his hand. Harry didn't take it, but he did smile.

"No offense; I don't shake hands with predators."

"I beg pardon? I'm not a pervert, Harry." What the hell? Maybe this kid was from their miniature psych ward. He could have been freshly transferred from one of the clinics the hospital was affiliated with. Before he could get any more irritated, his beeper went off. It was time to attend to Mr. Clyde's medication. "I have to go."

Harry nodded, "Okay. Hey, can you do me a favor?"

Carlisle was occupied buttoning his coat. He looked down at Harry and raised an eyebrow.

"Don't tell anybody I'm up here. Visiting hours are long gone and I don't want to be kicked out."

Carlisle sighed. "My shift ends in an hour. I will look for you up here and in the waiting room, in case you decide to go inside. If I don't find you in either location I will report you and have you banned for trespassing."

"Okay. See you later, Carlisle."

Carlisle wondered what Harry had meant by predator the entire next hour. Was he just messing with him? He wouldn't put it past him. He was a kid, and kids did stupid stuff for the hell of it.

He kept his face a perfect mask of calm and cheer as he supervised his latest associate, but inside he was a tangle of thoughts and emotions. Even more than the predator remark, he wondered what sort of person Harry was to have such an unusual smell. He found himself missing it already.

His shift ended and he hurried to the roof. Harry was still there, slouched in the awning beside the door with his knees pulled to his chest. It had begun to rain, and he was soaked through. Carlisle grabbed his arm and hauled him inside, scolding him all the while for putting himself in danger. He could have been struck by lightning, or at the very least he would catch a cold.

Harry stood in front of him at the little platform at the top of the staircase, a hint of a smile on his lips as Carlisle continued to scold him and feel his forehead.

"You're a good actor."

Carlisle was satisfied that he wasn't feverish and dropped his hand. "What do you mean?"

"You know damn well that a little rain can't hurt me, but here you are playing mother hen."

"Oh, so you're immune to the common cold, are you?" Carlisle asked sarcastically, beginning to descend the stairs. Harry kept pace with him, stuffing his hands into the pockets of his jeans. He wore a sweatshirt with an open zip, and under it was a green sweater with a big 'H' stitched onto it.

"As a matter of fact I am; it's part of the immortality package. I'd have thought you of all people would know that."

Carlisle stopped dead. "Excuse me?"

Harry rolled his eyes. They were bright green, so bright that Carlisle wondered if they were contacts. He had never seen someone with eyes like that before. "You can stop playing dumb. We both know what you are, and I don't believe that you don't know what I am. You can relax. Just be yourself."

"I…We need to talk. Privately."

"Sure. I've got a room in the Forest Lodge just up the street. There's no one else staying there, so we won't be overheard if you're worried. You've got a car, right?"

Carlisle nodded. He didn't trust himself to speak. This was so bizarre, and so unexpected. And he really wished Harry would stop assuming that he knew things that he didn't. He knew he was going to feel foolish during their upcoming conversation for the questions he was going to ask.

What was Harry if not human?

The ride to the motel was quiet. Carlisle couldn't bear it and turned on the radio to a classical station. Harry didn't complain. He spent the ride staring out the window and twisting his hands in his lap.

Harry's room was in the corner, under the boughs of a massive tree. Harry toed off his muddy sneakers and Carlisle bent to unlace his orthopedic work shoes. He didn't need them, but they helped keep up appearances.

"I'd offer you something to drink but I already know you'll say no," Harry said, taking a seat on the bed. He shuffled back to lean against the headboard. Carlisle sat in the only chair, grateful that Harry had given him the more dignified seat. Before Carlisle could say anything, Harry spoke again, "It must be interesting to live like Shakespeare's Coriolanus. What's the line? "A thing of blood whose every motion/was timed with dying cries," or something of that nature."

"Harry, I confess I have no idea what you're talking about."

Harry sighed heavily. His mouth quivered. He suddenly looked very tired and very young.

"Carlisle, I have a confession too. I wasn't actually visiting a friend at your hospital. I was there looking for you, for a way to talk to you. You see, Carlisle, you and I have some things in common."

"And what are these things?" Carlisle asked in a voice far softer than he'd intended.

"We're not mortal. Furthermore, this gift of life is dependent on the death of others. Well, one other in my case. But unlike me, you've found a way to redeem yourself. And when you finally die, however that may occur, your soul will be sent to the fields of bliss. Well done. That's why I was looking for you. Unlike you, I don't get to die until this universe comes to its natural end. So I wanted to talk to you about how I ought to spend my time."

Carlisle was speechless.

"How did you know?"

"Know what? That you're a vampire? I just looked up vampires in the Ministry's database and did some research. You and your family came up as a portrait of virtue, but you especially seemed to have really found your calling. And I was happy for you. If you don't have any advice for me, that's okay. It's not like we're friends."

Carlisle's mind had fixated on the first part of Harry's explanation. "You looked me up…in a…database?"

Harry gave him a blank look. Carlisle stared back. And then Harry's eyebrows climbed so high into his hairline Carlisle felt a flicker of concern.

"Oh. Oh! Oh. Oh man."

Carlisle was now even more confused.

"Nobody told you, did they? Who the fuck turned you and didn't bother to explain anything? You've been a vampire for hundreds of years and nobody fucking told you? God, I…I am so sorry you found out like this. If I'd known I would have explained it so much better."

"Tell me what?"

And then Harry, like a magician opening his gadgets to reveal the way they worked, began to explain to him the way the world worked. Carlisle could barely believe it, but he was very adept at catching lies and there was nothing but honesty in what Harry had to say.

They talked most of the night, Harry explaining things and answering Carlisle's questions. At one point he opened his trunk and showed him a picture that moved. Carlisle asked to see his wand, but Harry's face darkened and he averted his eyes.

"I don't carry a wand anymore. I've lost my magic."

"Oh. I'm sorry. How did that happen?"

"There was a prophecy. It was about me and a man we called a Dark Lord because of the way he used his magic. He killed my parents when I was just a baby. I somehow dissipated him at the time, but the prophecy said that I would have to kill him properly later, or else be killed by him. I fulfilled the prophecy, for me and for everyone else, but something went…wrong. I died. And then some things happened that I'm not allowed to talk about and frankly don't want to. Basically there was a sort of evaluation that I had no say in, and they decided to make me immortal. I don't get sick, I don't need to eat or sleep, and I don't age."

"They?"

Harry shrugged, "I can't say anything else about them. Sorry."

They subsided into silence. Carlisle felt like someone had peeled off his skin and revealed a new person beneath it, a person far wiser to the workings of the world. He had never even suspected that there were other supernatural beings out there besides vampires and the Quileute shape-shifters. Now that he thought about it logically, it was silly of him to assume that what he knew was all that there was.

Then he remembered what Harry had said about aging. It would explain his eyes…

"How old are you?"

"Thirty-one."

"Oh."

Not a child, then. And certainly not a youth, despite his appearance. He looked up from the carpet to find Harry watching him with an inscrutable expression.

"What?"

Harry smiled. It was the first real smile Carlisle had seen him give since they'd met. It was a very nice smile. Harry had beautiful teeth, he couldn't help but notice.

"Nothing. I just think that I'm going to like getting to know you, if you don't mind my company too much."

"No, I don't mind you. I like you a lot, actually," Carlisle smiled back. It was true. There was something endearing about Harry. He was at times sarcastic and bitter, but overall he was a pleasant and very understanding person to be around. Carlisle couldn't imagine having the magical side of the world explained to him by anyone else.

"Well aren't you nice."

Carlisle laughed, feeling a little flustered and intrigued. For a moment it felt like Harry was flirting with him. His met his eyes and found a cool challenge there. Harry raised an eyebrow. There was an offer there, and to his horror Carlisle found himself wanting to take it. It had been so long since he'd been with anyone but Esme, and Harry looked so young and supple…he reminded Carlisle of the days before you had to wait for someone to be eighteen before you could allow yourself to so much as look. He swallowed out of habit.

"I…Harry, we've just met and I guess we haven't really had a chance to talk about my family…I have a wonderful wife and-"

"I know about your wife," Harry said, his voice low and softer now than it'd been before. "I'm married too, but my wife doesn't speak to me anymore. She won't divorce me, but she won't look at me either."

"I'm sorry."

"Don't be. Things happen. People change, and you find out things about your friends that you never would have expected. I'm not asking you to go behind anyone's back. You can call her right now and ask her permission. I won't be offended or think any less of you no matter what she says. But please think about this; you will have hundreds of years with her. How long do you think I will be a part of your life?"

Carlisle felt torn. He had come across more than a few people since his marriage that had tempted him, but none of them as strongly as Harry. Before tonight he had never seriously considered sleeping with someone else. It had been so long since he'd explored the terrain of someone new, someone male even…

He bit his lip. Harry got off the bed and approached him slowly. He put his hands on his shoulders and leaned down. Carlisle didn't move. Harry held his eyes until they were nose-to-nose, and then they slipped shut and he kissed him.

They kissed until Carlisle felt all the boundaries he'd built between his emotions and this situation collapse. He felt sublime, like he was floating mid-air. But then Harry leaned back away from him again, with one of his hands still upon Carlisle's neck. He was so close, Carlisle could see the moisture glistening on his lip, and still smell the kiss they'd just shared.

Harry looked him in the eye, waiting. Carlisle kissed him. This time he did not sit frozen but rested his hands on Harry's hips and squeezed. They felt warm and alive. He could feel the veins throbbing with blood beneath his fingertips, and smiled when he felt it quicken as Harry's heart rate increased.

He was so warm Carlisle could hardly believe it.

Again Harry ended the kiss, and moved to kiss the flesh of Carlisle's neck. He whispered into his ear, "Call her."

Carlisle did. And to his surprise, Esme seemed amused rather than angry and only requested that Carlisle take a picture of Harry with his phone at some point so she could see what he looked like later.

As soon as he hung up Harry settled into his lap and, with two hands destroying Carlisle's perfect blonde coif, he began kissing him in earnest. Carlisle hadn't realized how much he missed the sensation of another person's body heat. They moved to the bed, and Harry made swift work of their clothing. His hands were very agile and quick, and he blushed when Carlisle complimented him on them. Harry pulled Carlisle down on top of him, and Carlisle realized that making love to a man, even after hundreds of years of a woman, was just like riding a bicycle, although considerably more pleasurable in this case.

At the climax of their love-making, Carlisle felt something sharp stab him where his heart used to be. He let out a shout and felt ecstasy tear through him. Once they were laying side-by-side in the aftermath, Harry panting and Carlisle foggy-eyed, Carlisle felt at his chest for an insect bite or something on the like but found nothing.

Carlisle was late to his shift for the first time in his life come the next afternoon.

He couldn't get Harry out of his head. The sharp pain in his chest returned several times throughout his shift, each time startling him so badly he retired to the men's room to stare down at his chest with confusion and worry.

At the very end of his shift he was getting changed into civilian clothes when he felt his chest seize powerfully. He bent double, gasping and clutching at his torso. Black spots spun before his eyes.

He was very glad there was no one in the locker room to witness this.

He fell to his knees, gasping and coughing, as the tearing pain spread from his heart all through his organs and network of long-neglected veins. Blood spilled from his mouth as he coughed, and he felt himself go into shock.

There in his chest cavity, his heart had begun to beat again.

~000~

End Pear Tree

A long-delayed Carlisle/Harry. Sorry it's a bit unusual, but you should all be expecting that kind of shit from me by now.